In The Land Of FREE we still Keep on Rockin'

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Plain and Fancy

Music gives soul to universe, wings to mind, flight to imagination, charm to sadness, and life to everything.


Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Karakorum - The Gate Of Thought (1970 uk, avant garde prog rock, 2021 release)

Absolutely unique progressive rock from 1970. Eastern tinged, the lead guitarist falls in spiralling electric noodling with hypnotic drums taking the listener's mind into new and shadowlike prog dimensions. Keith Moon thought this band was sensational after he saw them support Alexis Korner. Divisive music and absolutely identifiable as pure 1970 

1. Seeing Souble - 5:27
2. Eastern Wind - 8:11
3. Genghis Khan - 5:37
4. Social Outeast - 4:46
5. Kinky Funk Adlibs - 6:59
6. Better Look Twice - 4:23
7. Kara The Khan - 9:15
8. Song Test - 1:13
9. Instro Test - 2:25
10.Heavy Love - 6:41
11.Fortunes Of War - 8:33
12.Samarkand - 2:52
13.Unknown Song - 3:15
All compositions by James Williams, Martin Chambers, Paul Cobbold

*James Williams - Guitar, Vocals
*Martin Chambers - Drums
*Paul Cobbold - Bass, Keyboards

Friday, July 12, 2024

Orphann - Up For Adoption (1977 us, strong guitar classic rock, 2015 remaster)

Orphan is a group from Kansas City, Missouri, led by brothers Lance and Kevin Merenbruch. This is their first album, released in 1977 as a private press self-release on USA's OMI Records, and features four members: the Merenbruch brothers, Hugh Rudick, and Tom Sutherland. The sound is generally pop-hard with a progressive tone, and it is a strange combination of pop-ness and rockin' hardness, which can be heard in melodic hard music and AOR hard music, as well as in the melodious hard music and AOR hard music. 

The lead guitar, which is sometimes shaky but generally fluent, plays throughout the solos and between stations, and the cool acoustic guitar and gentrified vocals are not bad either. The rhythm section is steady and the playing is not broken, and the West Coast-style catchiness of the music is on the straight and narrow. The guitar riffs and phrases are rather cool, and the arrangements are well thought out, suggesting that the band must have been reasonably competent locally. I think this is a good album in the sense that it is very much an independent release. After releasing the second album in 1980, the band broke up, and Kevin went on to play in YDL at the end of the 80s.

1. You What You Do - 3:40
2. Open Skies - 3:40
3. I Believe - 5:07
4. Burning Red - 3:40
5. Blind - 3:42
6. Morning Sun - 5:32
7. Everyday Searchin - 5:02
8. Directed - 5:24
9. Stop The Rain - 6:43
All songs by Hugh Ruddick, Kevin Mellenbruch, Lance Mellenbruch, Tom Sutherland

*Hugh Ruddick - Lead Guitar
*Kevin Mellenbruch - Bass, Vocals
*Lance Mellenbruch - Guitar, Vocals
*Tom Sutherland - Drums
*Mike Holliger - Synthesizer
*J. Craig Sherry - Synthesizer

Sunday, July 7, 2024

Goddo - Goddo (1977 canada, superb tough boogie rock, 2019 extra tacks remaster)

Goddo is a Canadian 3-piece hard rock band originating from Scarborough, Ontario that formed in 1975. Greg Godovitz (bass/lead vocals), Gino Scarpelli (guitar), and Doug Inglis (drums) unleashed a brand of powerhouse arena rock featuring heavy riffing guitar and a thunderous rhythm section of bass and drums. They released their first single, “Under My Hat”, from their self-titled debut album in 1977 under Polydor Records which became a radio hit.

Although primarily a supercharged high octane power trio, they also included elements of jazz and crushing blues rock. Godovitz together with drummer Doug Inglis and guitarist Gino Scarpelli set about recording their debut album in Montreal, unleashing one of the most striking Canadian debut albums of all time. Issued in early 1977, and housed in a superbly illustrated gate-fold cover, the album kicks off with 'The Bus Driver Blues' a lyrically hilarious track written about the band's previous drummer who left the group to drive a school bus. Other tough-nut rockers include 'Drive Me Crazy', 'Let That Lizard Loose' and 'Hard Years'. Of course, the jewel in the crown is the jazz tinged 'Under My Hat', a song complete with truly memorable hook and menacing vocals from Greg.

1. The Bus Driver Blues - 4:37
2. Drive Me Crazy - 3:57
3. Let That Lizard Loose - 3:26
4. I'm Losing You (Gino Scarpelli, Greg Godovitz, Doug Inglis) - 7:16
5. Let It Slide - 5:22
6. Twelve Days - 3:22
7. Under My Hat - 4:48
8. Hard Years - 3:25
9. Bus Driver Blues - 4:36
10.Under My Hat - 4:48
All songs by Greg Godovitz except where indicated
Bonus Tracks 9-10

*Doug Inglis - Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals
*Gino Scarpelli - Guitar, Percussion
*Greg Godovitz - Vocals, Bass

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Tuesday, July 2, 2024

The Great Crash - Deadfire Echoes (1972-74 uk, exquisite songwriting with piano led art rock with some melancholic notes, 2021 digi sleeve)

The idea that 4 geniuses stumbled upon a crumbling Downton Abbey in Monmouth- shire in 1971, moved in, and recorded a suite of masterpieces between 1972 -1974 that no one has ever heard is so attractive it must be, and is, true. A pony trekking Baronet, a Lord of Bards, a Casey Jones lookalike and a man who swore to change his name to Mer- leau-Ponty if he lost a bet, and did. That was The Great Crash. And Deadfire Echoes is the sublimest lost masterwork of British Rock. It may be the British answer to Deja Vu.

Hints of early Elton John at his finest, of 10cc, of Edwardian melancholia and Noel Coward, and W.E.Johns and Wodehouse. The original- ity in this record alone, is simply overwhelm- ing. That a song about a Celebration Dinner is an intricate, complex masterwork of pathos, and one of the finest works in the rock and roll pantheon. This then is The Great Crash, and our great privilege to let these exquisite songs finally be heard.

The former home of The Great Crash, Plas Llecha, became Loco Studios, and the ghosts of these songs swirled unknown around Oasis and The Verve.

1. Magnolia Street - 4:14
2. Deadfire Echoes - 5:02
3. Celebration Dinner - 4:35
4. Never Been So Long - 3:45
5. Sophia - 2:52
6. Beyond The Pyramids - 4:38
7. Naughty Postcards - 2:36
8. Monastery Wine - 3:10
9. Regimental Reunion - 4:43
10.She's A Winner - 5:38
11.Drugstore Cowboy - 3:52
12.Love Will Find A Way - 2:57
13.Crystal Waters - 3:41
14.Memorial Twist - 2:37
15.Silver Wing (George Benn) - 3:53
16.Witchfinder General (George Benn, Nick Smith) - 3:22
17.She Throws It All Away - 3:35
18.The Sweetest Thing - 4:51
19.Let It Rain (George Benn, Nick Smith) - 2:18
20.Cool Mountain Water (George Benn, Nick Smith) - 3:23
21.Western Shore (George Benn, Nick Smith) - 3:22
All songs by Alan Gray, Piers Geddes except where stated

The Great Crash
*Alan Gray - Guitar, Vocals, Clavinet, Piano
*Piers Geddes - Drums, Vocals, Percussion, Harmonium
*George Benn - Bass, Vocals  
*Nick Smith - Guitar, Bass, Harmonium, Percussion

Sunday, June 30, 2024

Ted Lucas - Ted Lucas (1975 us, wonderful folk rock, 2010 korean remaster)

Yoga Records, in collaboration with Riverman, are hitting it out of the park in their first year. It seems a shame I haven’t heard this record before, as it’s an easy new favorite. Ted Lucas got his start playing in a Detroit folk revival band called The Spike-Drivers, eventually leaving to form other groups The Misty Wizards, Horny Toads, and the Boogie Disease. While he was a respected figure in Michigan’s folk and rock scene, his self-titled solo album (recorded largely in his attic studio during 1974) failed to break beyond local recognition.

The promo sticker nails the sound, placing Ted Lucas next to legends John Fahey, Nick Drake, and Skip Spence. It’s a right on comparison when you hear what this album has to offer. Each side of the record is plainly its own thing; Side A being a suite of six perfectly sweet folk originals and Side B containing an instrumental, an extended blues jam, and an 8-minute raga. The first three tracks have melodies that seamlessly weave in your head on first or second listen. “I’ll Find A Way” is the sleeper knockout, tucking in after the record’s gorgeous three song opener: “Plain & Sane & Simple Melody,” “It’s So Easy,” and “Now That I Know.” These tunes are so easy to love and will have no trouble lodging comfortably in your head. 

I can’t contain how much I dig the side A closer “It Is So Nice To Get Stoned,” especially when “Sonny Boy Blues” on side B warns “you better stop drinking that wine.” Arrangements are sparse, an acoustic guitar gracefully ornamented with sitar drones (Lucas played uncredited sitar on the Tempations’ “Psychedelic Shack”) and delicate electric fingerpicking, with some auto-harp and tasteful percussion elsewhere. For a lost psych-folk record, the sound is remarkably current.

Comes in a faithfully reproduced LP-style package, with a facsimile of the original insert, new liners and a save-worthy protective cover. Yoga just might make the CD format cool again! Even so, I might have to spring for the vinyl. The insert, by the way, is wonderful, showcasing a badass t-shirt with Stanley Mouse’s cover design and contains the lyrics and chords to the songs on the first side. Got to be one of the best reissues of the year.
by Brendan McGrath, September 28th, 2010

1. Plain Andane Andimple Melody - 2:40
2. It's So Easy (When You Know What You're Doing) - 2:58
3. Now That I Know - 2:30
4. I'll Find A Way (To Carry It All) - 3:29
5. Baby Where You Are - 2:37
6. It Is So Nice To Get Stoned - 4:25
7. Robins Ride - 3:25
8. Sonny Boy Blues - 7:18
9. Love And Peace Raga - 7:51
All songs by Ted Lucas

*Ted Lucas - Guitar, Vocals
*Carol Lucido - Tambura
*Danny Ballas - Congas

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Thursday, June 27, 2024

Kate Taylor - Kate Taylor (1978 us, wonderful soulful folk soft rock, 2006 japan remaster)

Like her famous brother James, folksinger Kate Taylor has shared a love for music since she could remember. Her roots in rockabilly and pop flesh out her connection to the classic Appalachian stylings she's known to perform. She formed her first band at 15 and had a solo deal with Atlantic four years later; Sister Kate marked her debut in 1971. 

A self-titled sophomore effort appeared in 1978, showcasing production work by brother James and Barry Beckett (Alabama, J.J. Cale, Bob Dylan). Kate Taylor was an impressive piece of work; however, 1979's It's in There didn't fare as well. From here, Taylor took a break from the music industry. She resurfaced in 2003 after a 23-year sabbatical to release Beautiful Road. This particular album is a personal one for Taylor. Her longtime manager and husband, Charlie Witham, became ill during its recording and died several months prior to Beautiful Road's April 2003 release. Beautiful Road was dedicated to him. 
by MacKenzie Wilson

1. A Fool In Love (Ike Turner) - 3:36
2. Smuggler's Song (Clay Jackson, Ethan Signer) - 2:43
3. Harriet Tubman (Walter Robinson) - 3:33
4. Stubborn Kind Of Woman (George Gordy, Marvin Gaye, William Stevenson) - 4:03
5. Happy Birthday Sweet Darling (James Taylor) - 3:00
6. It's In His Kiss (The Shoop, Shoop Song) (Rudy Clark) - 2:43
7. Slow And Steady (James Taylor, Zach Wiesner) - 3:22
8. It's Growing (William Robinson, Warren Moore) - 2:54
9. Tiah's Cove (Charlie Witham) - 2:50
10.Rodeo (Livingston Taylor) - 3:20
11.Jason And Ida (Duane Giesemann, Kate Taylor) - 2:28

*Kate Taylor - Vocals
*Kenny Ascher - Piano
*Rubens Bassini - Percussion
*Errol "Crusher" Bennett - Percussion
*Kenneth Bichel - Piano
*Randy Brecker - Trumpet, Tenor Saxophone
*Don Brooks - Harmonica
*Ron Carter - Bass
*Ronnie Cuber - Baritone Saxophone
*Jessy Dixon - Backing Vocals
*Cornell Dupree - Guitar
*Steve Ferrone - Drums
*Steve Gadd - Drums
*Don Grolnick - Organ, Piano
*John Hall - Backing Vocals
*Elsa Harris - Backing Vocals
*Bingo Hodges - Backing Vocals
*Will Lee - Bass
*Tony Levin - Bass
*Ralph Macdonald - Percussion
*Arif Mardin - Strings, Arranger
*Lou Marini - Tenor Saxophone
*Onnie McIntyre - Guitar
*Jeff Mironov - Guitar
*Gary Mure - Drums
*Alan Rubin - Trumpet
*David Sanborn - Alto Saxophone
*Carly Simon - Backing Vocals
*David Spinozza - Arranger, Horn
*Alex Taylor - Backing Vocals
*David Taylor - Trombone
*James Taylor - Guitar, Horn, Backing Vocals
*Richard Tee - Piano
*David Tofani - Tenor Saxophone

Sunday, June 23, 2024

Strife - Back To Thunder (1977-78 uk, stunning hard rock, 2021 remaster and expanded)

Liverpool based three piece Strife emerged during the mid-seventies amassing a strong live following on the club circuit and releasing an impressive debut album 'Rush' on the Chrysalis label. It was a work of intriguing possibilities, embracing both progressive and harder rock. Their songs were long and convoluted yet also signalled a penchant for melody and purpose that elevated them above the run of the mill units operating at the same time. Sadly, their label failed to recognise the potential and allowed the band to slip between the cracks, and ultimately, due to a contractual production dispute, the band was left in limbo.

Despite facing almost overwhelming odds, the band managed to eventually pick themselves up and negotiated a new record deal with the Gull label, the same outfit that signed Judas Priest and released their first two albums. The resulting Strife album, 'Back To Thunder', was as impressive as their debut, but less flamboyant and more focussed. Indeed, if it wasn't for the fact that they were just ahead of the rejuvenated interest in British hard rock (the NWOBHM) they could well have been sitting comfortably as one of the key acts operating on the scene.

Housing eight tracks, the album boasts a number of standout compositions, including 'Feel So Good', 'Shockproof, 'Sky' and the intriguingly titled 'Fool Injected Overlap'. All solid, punchy hard rock tracks that saw the band embrace a new stylistic approach whilst keeping their progressive rock influences proudly on display. Housed in one of the era's most attractive album sleeves, the record also boasts the appearance of keyboard wizard Don Airey, who was at the time a member of progressive giants Collosseum II."
by Derek Oliver

1. Shockproof - 3:34
2. Let Me Down - 5:15
3. Feel So Good - 2:51
4. Sky - 6:07
5. You Are What You Are - 3:53
6. Red Sun (Gordon Rowley) - 3:33
7. Fool Injected Overlap - 6:32
8. Weary Traveller - 3:50
9. You Don't Know - 2:54
10.School - 4:08
11.Go - 2:33
12.Unknown - 4:36
All songs by John Reid except where indicated
Bonus Tracks 9-12

*Gordon Rowley - Bass, Gong, Vocals
*John Reid - Vocals, Guitar
*David Williams - Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals
*Don Airey - Keyboards (Tracks 4,7,8)

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Shawn Phillips - Do You Wonder (1975 us, elegant prog folk rock)

As a fan of Shawn Phillips. it couldn't be missing from my collection, his misunderstood but beautiful album, "Do you wonder", released in 1975,  an attempt by Shawn to go into different sonic realms, funky rhythms, excellent arrangements -as always-, great horns. All these in a high perfomance standarts.

1. Do You Wonder - 2:57
2. Xasper - 5:12
3. City To City - 3:19
4. Blunt And Frank - 2:49
5. Believe In Life - 5:50
6. As All I Played- Maestoso-Intermezzo-Tristesse - 6:44
7. Golden Flower - 4:26
8. Looking At The Angel - 4:51
9. Summer Vignette - 4:53
All compositions by Shawn Phillips, except "Intermexxo" written by Peter Robinson

*Shawn Phillips - Guitar, Vocals
*Oren Waters - Backing Vocals
*Max Bennett - Bass
*Mike Baird - Drums
*Robben Ford - Guitar
*Peter Robinson - Piano, Synthesizer
*Jim Keltner - Drums
*John Guerin - Drums
*Don Menza - Saxophone
*Maxine Willard Waters - Backing Vocals
*Brandy Bento - Bass
*Luther Waters - Backing Vocals
*Findley Brothers - Brass
*Ben Benay - Guitar
*Julia Tillman Waters - Backing Vocals
*Jim Horn - Arrangements, Recorder, Saxophone
*Chuck Findley - Trombone

1970  Shawn Phillips - Contribution / Second Contribution (2009 remaster)
1971  Shawn Phillips - Collaboration
1969-72  Shawn Phillips - Faces (2014 remaster) 

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Karakorum - Prison Bitterness (1969 uk, extraordinary psych prog rock, 2021 digi sleeve release)

For many reasons 1969 was a remarkable year and the beginning of a hugely exciting new era for me....

Kingsley Ward (co-founder of Rockfield Studios) had asked if I would check out a new band that had been bugging him all summer. He wanted to help them and knew they offered something quite different. I first met Karakorum at their next rehearsal within a dilapidated chapel located in the grounds of Harewood Park (Herefordshire).

Of course the music on this album will speak for itself, but on that day, I was instantly blown away not only by their undoubted individual talent as musicians but also because they were each fearlessly original, creative and engagingly different. The band gradually became one of the most intriguing acts to play many of the University/College venues, concert halls and British club circuits - notably London's iconic Marquee Club and the famous Liverpool Cavern Club. It soon became apparent that Paul, James, Martin, and later Rich, were individually unique. They soon began to gain acknowledgements from fellow musicians.

The club/pub scene in London traditionally provided a 'shop window' for A&R reps to discover the latest 'happening' bands. Karakorum was indeed such a band but despite having generated a lot of curiosity and interest, the record industry was not quite ready for them. As time went on, the band's response was to consider changing musical direction. Ultimately, we drifted apart.

Karakorum was an exceptional band and the British music industry had clearly missed out on signing what I still believe would have become one of the UK's finest bands. I'm delighted that after all these years and through this album their creative spirit and musical genius has been allowed to surface once again.
by John Vigar

1. Arnold Collins In Drag - 3:46
2. Living My Life - 3:01
3. Prison Bitterness - 4:07
4. Breakfast - 5:22
5. When The War Is Over - 4:34
All songs by James Williams, Martin Chambers, Paul Cobbold

*James Williams - Guitar, Vocals
*Martin Chambers - Drums
*Paul Cobbold - Bass, Keyboards

Sunday, June 9, 2024

Mark LeVine - Pilgrims Progress (1968 us, awesome trippy acid psych folk rock feat. Ry Cooder, 2007 digipak remaster)

Mark LeVine is an opportunist, taking advantage of this year 1968, discographically blank for his mentor Bob Dylan, to follow in his footsteps. "Pilgrims progress" could have been a logical continuation of the masterpiece "John Wesley Harding" - 1967 as Dylan's shadow haunts these 12 compositions.

The album's title appears to be a nod to John Bunyan's Christian short story and allegory "The Pilgrim's Progress from this world to that which is to come" - 1678-1684. But here there is no question of virtue and puritanism: Mark Levine, draped in the trappings of the cursed poet, makes explicit reference to drugs and sex.

Among the studio musicians are a certain Ry Cooder, who no longer needs to be introduced, and the trio Jerry Scheff, Ben Benay and Toxey French, noted for having shared a few recording sessions with Curt Boettcher and publishing a obscure album under the name Goldenrod.

It's made with exactly the same features as Gentle Soul, and while that one has a soft rock or flowery feel, this one does away with excessive decoration, and has a finish that looks ahead to the singer-songwriter works of the 70s. It has become. Produced by Mike Deasy

1. Going To The Country - 4:21
2. Twenty-One Years Older Than Yesterday - 3:44
3. Dr. Grossman - 2:25
4. Purple Dreams Are Creepy - 3:22
5. The Love Song - 3:02
6. Richard Lee - 7:19
7. Miller's Crossing - 2:53
8. Texas Style - 6:37
9. Sure I Can Write - 4:53
10.Better Dad Than Dead - 5:19
11.Nothing More Is Nothing Less - 4:06
12.Periwinkle Blue - 2:27
Words and Music by Mark LeVine

*Mark Levine - Vocals, Rythm Guitar
*Ry Cooder - Acoustic Lead Guitar, Acoustic, Electric Bottleneck Guitar, Mandolin
*Michael Deasy - Acoustic, Electric Lead Guitar
*Joe Osborn - Bass
*Jerry Scheff - Bass
*Toxey French - Drums
*Paul Humphrey - Drums
*Larry Knechtel - Piano