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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Richie Havens - Alarm Clock (1971 us, gorgeous folk psych with raga sparkles, 2002 remaster)

Richie Havens had been building a solid career as a Greenwich Village folk musician with a well-received collection of albums to his credit (including the landmark Mixed Bag) when he performed at Woodstock and had his life changed. He attained legendary status with his three-hour opening performance. His warm, burly vocals bring great humanity to everything he sings, and his open-tuned guitar strumming lends a simplicity that makes his music immediately accessible to all. 

In the years after Woodstock, Havens maintained his momentum, finally scoring a top 20 hit in 1971 with a version of George Harrison's "Here Comes the Sun." (That cover resulted in his best-selling album, 1971's Alarm Clock.) He continued recording for a series of other labels, including A&M, and even branched out into acting, playing Othello in the rock musical Catch My Soul in 1974 and appearing in the 1977 Richard Pryor film Greased Lightning. Though his record sales dimmed, his passion for politics and music didn't. In 1978, he scored a Number One hit in Israel with "Shalom, Salaam Aleichum," written in response to watching Anwar Sadat visit Jerusalem.

Havens continued to record and tour, and he also survived by singing jingles for Amtrak (the famous "Something about a train . . . " line) and McDonald's (which used his "Here Comes the Sun"). In recent years, Havens was rediscovered by a new generation. His collaboration with Groove Armada, "Hands of Time," appeared on the soundtrack of the 2004 Tom Cruise film Collateral. He also published  a memoir, They Can't Hide Us Anymore, in 2000 and released his final album, Nobody Left to Crown, in 2008. A public memorial is in the works. 

Richie Havens died of a heart attack on Monday, April 22, 2013. He was 72 and was living in Jersey City, New Jersey.
by David Browne

1. Here Comes The Sun (George Harrison) - 3:48
2. To Give All Your Love Away - 2:58
3. Younger Men Grow Older (Richie Havens, Mark Roth) - 4:01
4. Girls Don't Run Away - 4:21
5. End Of The Seasons (Richie Havens, Mark Roth, Bob Margouleff) - 3:39
6. Some Will Wait - 2:40
7. Patient Lady - 4:48
8. Missing Train - 4:59
9. Alarm Clock (Richie Havens, Mark Roth) - 7:17
All songs by Richie Havens where stated

*Richie Havens - Vocals, Guitar, Percussion, Piano
*Paul Williams - Lead Guitar
*Eric Oxendine - Bass
*Joe Price - Conga Drums
*Bill Keith - Steel Guitar
*Rick Derringer - Electric Guitar
*Daniel Ben Zebulon - Conga Drums
*Alan Hand - Piano
*Bill Lavorgna - Drums
*Dennis Persich - Electric Guitar
*Buzz Linhardt - Vibes
*Warren Bernhardt - Organ
*Bill Shepherd - String Arrangement

1967  Richie Havens - Mixed Bag
1970  Richie Havens - Stonehenge (2001 remaster) 

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Friday, May 18, 2018

Stack Waddy - The Complete Works (1970-72 uk, outstanding hard dirty psych blues 'n roll, 2017 three Mini LP remaster)

The complete Dandelion recordings of Peel favourites Stackwaddy, featuring their two albums Stackwaddy and Bugger Off, plus a bonus disc entitled Hunt The Stag that includes outtakes and a live BBC session from 1971….Ian Canty hears the primal rumble of the band that were pretty much Proto-everything……

Who the hell were Stack Waddy? Well they were a bunch hard drinking, rough, tough men from the home of Frank Sidebottom, Timperley Manchester, driven to get on stage as sozzled as possible and create complete and utter chaos! They were John Peel favourites, so much so that he signed them to his Dandelion Records imprint when no-one else would touch them, mainly because they had alienated every interested record company with their outrageous behaviour. All this was whilst the Fall were at school/toddlers/hadn’t been born yet (delete where applicable).

A legendary band that had a Punk attitude years before Punk itself, eruditely described as “the link between the Pink Fairies and Dr Feelgood”, which feels just about right. Unlike most bands of the time Stack Waddy espoused short, sharp and brutal R & B attacks the likes of which had only been seen before in the work of 60s hoodlums like the Pretty Things, Downliners Sect and the more unhinged of the US garage combos.

Coming together at the end of the 60s with the merging of a couple of local Hard Rock/Blues outfits, they featured incomparable John Knail on vocals (reportedly at the time on the run from all manner of folk, including the Old Bill), Stuart Barnham on bass, guitarist Mick Stott and with Steve Revell bringing up the rear on drums (replaced on the second LP by John Groom). The pivotal encounter with Peel came after the band’s performance at the Buxton Blues Festival. Though having a little in common with the heavy underground bands in trendy London, Stack Waddy more wished for a return to the fast, immediate power of a decade previous rather than protest.

To this end they initially drew on the very Rhythm and Blues that had influenced the Stones and the Beatles way back in the 60s. They also infused their performances with aggression, typically wry Manc humour and lots and lots and lots of booze. The band discovered Beefheart through Peel and on realising that Knail’s vocals were similar to the Captain’s, they became one of the very few bands to cover the Magic Band’s material pre-Punk.

After penning a deal with Peel’s Dandelion Records (and suitably impressing their American Warner Brothers overlords at a label showcase by drinking vast quantities of alcohol before arriving on stage worse for wear. This lead to John Knail urinated on the dais, leading to a mass exit of said bigwigs), they set about recording their first record, a single pairing Elias McDaniels’ Roadrunner and their own composition Kentucky. Though that didn’t make much of an impact an LP was called for and the self-titled platter duly arrived in February 1971.

Curiously playing against type on this first album, the guitar here is pretty restrained, more of a ghostly treble atop thudding drums which dominate while the bass picks out the melody. I don’t know if this was by accident or design, but it really works well and marks the record out from the offerings of many “heavy” bands of the time. What a raw shock it must have been for any mellow Hippies encountering this loud, joyfully alive and irresponsible power pack!

As is alluded to in the sleeve notes, in the Proggy times this record was released into, doing cover versions was actively sneered at (even if your own material was arrant rubbish). This did not bother Stack Waddy one bit – their relish in taking things back (or forward, given a modern perspective) to simpler, more hard hitting times meant they attacked these 60s staples for all they were worth, regardless of any trend for virtuosos etc.

So Stack Waddy the album commenced with a high energy take of Roadrunner (also recorded by the Pretty Things, whose hell-for-leather attitude I’m guessing was a big influence on the Waddy), effectively setting out their stall early on. Though there are more covers (they even stomp all over Jethro Tull’s Love Song), their own material was not without merit. Mothballs is a great piece of raw and tense Punk Blues and Kentucky is not far away from what Wilko and Co would come up with in Canvey Island a few years down the line.

On the good Captain’s Sure ‘Nuff Yes I Do Knail’s vocals really do sound like Van Vilet’s and even on Bo Diddley’s Bring It To Jerome they bear a resemblance. The band for their part grind out a tough, Funky backing on this one and on Mystic Eyes they really take off on the old Them stormer. It showed the Garage that was in their genes effectively and in fact a recut of this one (which is included on disc 3) was considered for the a-side of a prospective single.

Despite its crude but powerful quality, the LP did not sell well. Nevertheless Peel was keen to get a follow up in the can and, after failing initially (see below), they eventually managed to cut that second platter. Even so Barham notes that they never really caught the magic of Stack Waddy, due to them “making it up as they went along” in the studio. Still it was a good try.

Bugger Off, the second Stack Waddy album, has one of my favourite album covers ever. It sums up the early 70s and the uncompromising image that the band had to a T, a view of the drummer frozen in mid-flight, just about to unleash a lethal assault on his kit. Overseeing this is a lairy and hairy looking singer leaning back with the mike stand a la Joey Ramone and just peering out from the murk, a lank haired guitar-toting confederate. This perfect representation of Stack Waddy is followed up fittingly by a no-holds barred, super-heavy version of the Pretty Things classic Rosalyn, a textbook example of Thug Rock. The guitar is far more brutal and simple on this second LP, only occasionally settling back in the manner of the first and here it works marvellously.

Though again the album is perhaps a bit too heavy on covers, they’re all imbued with the undeniable Waddy stomp, plus always displaying their in-built irreverence. Their own Meat Pies ‘Ave Come But The Band’s Not Here Yet, based on a remark overheard at club gig, shows their ready wit. The Beefheart link was stressed again with the cover of the Zappa collaboration Willie The Pimp and their tough as (k)nails version of the Kinks You Really Got Me predated the Hammersmith Gorillas similar effort, matching it in the “too damn early” Proto-Punk stakes. It is a shock hearing them try the old Astrud Gilberto/Stan Getz chestnut The Girl From Ipanema, but of course after a gentle start it hurtles downhill in a most in-PC way.

Shortly after Bugger Off was issued the band split up, having not made much headway in the era of Supergroups and Prog Rock (but they did make a rollicking noise). Since that times there have been various reunions along the way, with one of the most recent being in 2007 and poor quality bootlegs which didn’t portray the band half as well as on the BBC live recording featured here.

Hunt The Stag brings together all the tracks previously issued as extras on the Cherry Red 2007 editions of Stack Waddy and Bugger Off. So no new material if you own both of those already. This breaks down into the tracks demoed for the second album, but were ultimately not used (deemed “too slick” by Peel and his sidekick Clive Selwood), a BBC In Concert session from 1971 and the Dandelion compilation item Mama Keep Your Big Mouth Shut (yet another one the Pretty Things had tackled as well) . Housed in a great mini-sleeve with Waddy in full live flow, it doesn’t disappoint in comparison to the albums proper.

The live selection gives you a good idea what the band were all about in concert – thunderous, jokey and beer-soaked and this offering unsurprisingly comes with a heartfelt Peel intro and outro. The bizarrely named Jack & Jill Meet Blind Pugh On The Spot is a highlight, part Blues Jam before splitting into a speedy bit of Proto-Punk Rock (it’s possible they were two songs melded together).

Of the studio material, the title track is a nice piece of heavy-handed Psych/Punk/Blues and Here Comes The Glimmer Man has real atmosphere, restrained power – it really is great, building from a quiet long run into mayhem. The compilation album track Mama Keep Your Big Mouth Shut is ferocious (it also features in the live set) and the punchy old Mod number Leavin’ Here is given an energetic re-boot, years before Motorhead did a similar job. Along with an even better version of Mystic Eyes it suggests Peel and his cohorts misjudged in junking this session, but it’s all here for you to enjoy now.

Though it would have been nice to see the 1972 Peel session included, this new slim pack boxset has some great sleeve notes from Nigel Cross with telling and humourous contributions from band founder Stuart Barnham. Whilst there isn’t anything in the way of new material unearthed here, it is good to have the albums each on their own individual disc, as they were originally heard. Stack Waddy were unheralded at the time but their  which played a part in paving the way for Dr Feelgood and even the Pistols. They are well worth hearing again.
by Ian Canty

Disc 1 Stack Waddy
1. Road Runner (Ellas McDaniel) - 3:27
2. Bring It To Jerome (Jerome Green) - 5:19
3. Mothballs (John Knail, Mick Stott, Steve Revell, Stuart Banham) - 3:37
4. Sure 'Nuff 'N' Yes I Do (Don Van Vliet, Herb Bermann) - 2:30
5. Love Story (Ian Anderson) - 2:19
6. Susie Q (Dale Hawkins, Eleanor Broadwater, Stanley Lewis) - 2:28
7. Country Line Special (Cyril Davies) - 3:56
8. Rolling Stone (McKinley Morganfield) - 3:26
9. Mystic Eyes (Van Morrison) - 6:06
10.Kentucky (John Knail, Mick Stott, Steve Revell, Stuart Banham) - 2:43

Disc 2 Bugger Off !
1. Rosalyn (Bill Farley, Jimmy Duncan) - 2:27
2. Willie The Pimp (Frank Zappa) - 3:58
3. Hochie Coochie Man (Willie Dixon) - 4:21
4. It's All Over Now (Bobby Womack, Shirley Womack) - 3:17
5. Several Yards (Foxtrot) (J. Groom, John Knail, Mick Stott, Stuart Banham) - 5:50
6. You Really Got Me (Ray Davies) - 2:46
7. I'm A Lover Not A Fighter (Joseph Delton Miller) - 2:10
8. Meat Pies 'Ave Come But Band's Not Here Yet (J. Groom, John Knail, Mick Stott, Stuart Banham) - 5:02
9. It Ain't Easy (Unknown) - 3:47
10.Long Tall Shorty (Mainly) (Don Covay, Herb Abramson) - 3:20
11.Repossession Boogie (J. Groom, John Knail, Mick Stott, Stuart Banham) - 5:34
12.Girl From Ipanema (Antonio Carlos Jobim, Norman Gimbel, Vinicius De Moraes) - 1:32

Disc 3 Hunt The Stag
1. With One Leap Dan Was By Her Side, 'Muriel' He Breathed - 4:20
2. Ginny Jo - 2:49
3. Hunt The Stag - 2:45
4. Mystic Eyes (Alternative Version) (Van Morrison) - 3:52
5. (Almost) Milk Cow Booze - 4:12
6. Leavin' Here (Brian Holland, Edward Holland, Jr., Lamont Dozier) - 2:58
7. I'm A Lover Not A Fighter (Joseph Delton Miller) - 2:38
8. Here Comes The Glimmer Man - 5:15
9. Nadine (Chuck Berry) - 3:53
10.Mama Keep Your Big Mouth Shut (Ellas McDaniel) - 5:19
11.Repossession Boogie - 6:29
12.Lawdy Miss Clawdy...Meets Sooty 'N Sweep (Lloyd Price) - 3:31
13.Jack And Jill Meet Blind Pugh On The Spot - 10:56
14.Mama Keep Your Big Mouth Shut (Ellas McDaniel) - 3:43
All songs by John Knail, Mick Stott, Steve Revell, Stuart Banham except where stated
Tracks 1-2 recorded November 20th 1970 at Marquee Studios
Tracks 3-10 recorded May 1971 at Marquee Studios
Tracks 10-13 recorded live at the Paris theatre July 22nd 1971 and broadcast by the BBC on September 12th 1971.
Track 14 originally released 1972

Stack Waddy
*John Knail - Vocals, Harmonica
*Steve Revell - Drums, Percussion
*Mick Stott - Electric Guitar
*Stuart Banham - Bass Guitar

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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Rare Earth - Midnight Lady / Band Together (1976/78 us, awesome funky soul groovy brass rock, 2017 digipak remaster)

In 1974, original drummer/vocalist Peter Hoorlebeke (Rivera) left Rare Earth to record with his new group H.U.B.  Gil Bridges and the remainder of the band used session musicians to record two more albums, “Back To Earth” and “Midnight Lady” , before the Rare Earth label was closed down in 1977. 

Follow up to "Back to Earth" and featuring Jerry La Croix on vocals, this is actually a pleasant listen. With Norman Whitfield back in the Producer's seat he's used his own songs rather than the band's.The only non-Whitfield song, "Its A Natural" penned by La Croix, which opens the album, is a commendable effort. 

In 1978 Rare Earth (with the 1972 line-up) was back in the studio to record “Band Together”.  The first single was “Warm Ride”.  The song had been written by the Bee Gees who were the hottest act in the world following the success of Saturday Night Fever and its mega-hit soundtrack.  “Warm Ride” was Rare Earth’s first Top 40 single in six years and would be their final hit.

Midnight Lady 1976 
1. It's A Natural (Jerry LaCroix) - 4:00
2. Finger Lickin' Good (Norman Whitefield) - 3:25
3. He Who Picks A Rose (Norman Whitefield, Eddie Holland, Earl Smiley) - 4:50
4. Do It Right (Norman Whitefield) - 6:26
5. Ain't No Sunshine Since You've Been Gone (Cornelius Grant, Norman Whitfield, Sylvia Moy) - 3:00
6. Midnight Lady (Norman Whitefield) - 4:23
7. Wine Women And Song (Norman Whitefield) - 10:51
Band Together 1978
8. Warm Ride (Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb, Robin Gibb) - 4:01
9. You (Ivy Hunter, Jack Goga, Jeffrey Bowen) - 3:31
10.Love Is What You Get (Bob Siller, Chuck Smith, Don Dunn) - 2:52
11.Love Do Me Right (Lenny Macaluso) - 4:27
12.Dreamer (Jerry Zaremba) - 4:08
13.Maybe The Magic (Curly Smith, Mark Olson) - 3:04
14.Love Music (Brian Potter, Dennis Lambert) - 4:41
15.Rock 'N' Roll Man (John Ryan, Mark Olson, Peter Hoorelbeke, Ray Monette) - 3:58
16.Mota Molata (John Ryan, Mark Olson, Peter Hoorelbeke, Ray Monette) - 4:28

Rare Earth
Midnight Lady 1976
*Gil Bridges - Percussion
*Ray Monette – Guitar, Vocals
*Jessica Smith - Vocals
*Jerry LaCroix - Vocals
*Paul Warren – Guitar, Vocals
*Julia Tillman Waters - Vocals
*Maxine Willard Waters - Vocals
*Frank Westbrook – Keyboards
*Reggie McBride - Bass
Band Together 1978
*Gil Bridges – Flute, Sax, Percussion, Vocals
*Eddie Guzman - Percussion
*Ray Monette - Guitar
*Mark Olson – Keyboards, Harmonica, Vocals
*Pete Rivera – Drums, Percussion, Vocals
*Mike Urso – Bass, Vocals

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  Rare Earth - In Concert (2017 Audiophile) 
1974  Live In Chicago (2014 audiophile remaster)

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Friday, May 11, 2018

Brewer And Shipley - Weeds / Tarkio / Shake Off The Demon / Rural Space (1969-72 us, delightful hippie folk rural psych country rock, 2017 double disc remaster)

Inextricably linked with the US counter-culture of the late 1960s and early 70s courtesy of their drug referencing hit single One Toke Over The Line (which incurred the personal wrath of the hippie hating president Richard M Nixon, indeed), folk / rock vocal duo Mike Brewer and Tom Shipley specialized in the kind of thoughtful, melodic and appealing music that proved both a complement and an antidote to the harsher, more electric sound of contemporary hard rock bands of the era. Their close harmony sound had its antecedents in the work of the likes of Simon  and  Garfunkel, of course, or more relevantly, Crosby, Stills and Nash and there were plenty of other similar duos that pursued a broadly similar sound and style - Cashman  and  West, Seals  and  Crofts, Batdorf  and  Rodney, for example, but Brewer  and  Shipley were a marked cut above the smooth strummers and moustachioed harmonists.
Their sound had (and still has, because they're still regularly gigging in the USA) a greater sense of the wide open spaces of their US heartland home base; it's no surprise that one of their albums was called Rural Space, as their music is suffused with that kind of ambience. The underlying lyrical themes of the duo were recurrent motifs of personal freedom and an opportunity to pursue an alternative American Dream to that of the vast majority of the US middle class, as well as orthodox songs of love. Weeds, the first of the four albums featured here, was recorded in 1969, and was the duos' second album. 

Their debut album Down In LA, had been cut for the A and M label in Los Angeles the previous year. They'd been playing the West Coast folk and coffee bar circuit, and the original plan was for them to make a living as writers as well as performers. They had moderate success in this regard; Chicago psychedelic weirdoes HP Lovecraft had cut a version of their Keeper Of The Keys, sung in a bizarre, semi-operatic style, on their HP Lovecraft II album. Down In LA was pleasant enough, cut with a bunch of LA session luminaries such as Leon Russell and Jim Messina, but it didn't make much headway, commercially, and anyway, Brewer  and  Shipley didn't care much for the Los Angeles scene, moving back to Kansas City, and set up their own production company, Good Karma. 

The A ‘n’ M management figured that they'd quit the music business, instead of just quitting La La Land, and so didn't bother to pick up their option. Instead, Brewer  and  Shipley signed to the Kama Sutra / Buddah label helmed by Neil Bogart. Up until then, Bogart had a reputation as being the 'King of Bubblegum' and seemingly specialized in goofy, frothy pop confections. He'd also been at the Cameo-Parkway label, where he'd foisted Chubby Checker onto the world of pop, and had struck chart pay dirt at Buddah with the likes of The Lemon Pipers and 1910 Fruitgum Company, but wanted to show that he could move into the alternative sphere, too, and signed acts to the label as varied as Melanie Safka, The Flamin' Groovies and, of course Brewer  and  Shipley.

Weeds was recorded in San Francisco, and produced by Electric Flag guitarist Nick Gravenites, who assembled a bunch of excellent players in the backing band, including guitarist Mike Bloomfield, keyboard player Mark Naftalin, and even roped Grateful Dead main man Jerry Garcia into the fold to provide a dab of steel guitar.The tight combo backings are superb throughout; there's a nice sense of freshness and space in the sound, and the duo's soaring vocal harmonies, as well as their obvious melodic skills have a refreshing urgency about them that still sounds invigorating and plaintive. As well as their excellent originals, the album's two covers are equally fine; a strident take on Dylan's All Along The Wotchtower, and the delightful Wichf-Tai-To. The latter is a minor underground classic, penned by Jim Pepper, a kind of Native American chanted mantra, with a three chord musical progression somewhat redolent of Sweet Jane by the Velvet Underground. The track had originally been cut by a band called Everything Is Everything, and was covered a little later by Harpers Bizarre, and apparently Brewer  and  Shipley heard it played on various radio stations when they were out touring, and learned it phonetically. Despite its seven minutes of playing time, it insistently builds to a powerful, profoundly lasting effect. It's one of the highlights of a strong and vibrant collection of quality late 60s US Folk Rock.

Tarkio, their next album, was recorded in 1970, and picks up where Weeds left off; more strong harmonising, Gravenites producing, and several of the same players on board for the return match. It also boasted a fluke hit single in OneToke Over The Line, which had started off as a kind of jokey novelty item played as an encore when the duo opened for label mate Melanie in New York, but label MD Bogart thought he heard hit potential in the song, and insisted the duo release it as a single - and it charted, despite the opprobrium of the US establishment. Other songs like Song From The P/otte River mourned the loss of personal freedoms in contemporary America, a theme echoed and embellished on Fifty States of Freedom. There's subversive wit and humour too, in an agreeable tentrack collection that never overstays its welcome, thanks to some fine ensemble playing, excellent songs and wonderful punchy harmony vocal work. I've been lucky enough to contact Brewer  and  Shipley for some comments in the compiling of this note. 

I asked Tom Shipley why they decided to move back home - and whether it was a conscious desire to break free from the music biz: :"l think our music has always been free of the music business. That is probably why I'm working as a television producer today instead of being a music business guy. To be successful in the music business you have to be in the music business. That is not where I was coming from. My influences were Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie. Michael and I wrote songs, not because we were trying to write hits. It was just music that was in us that we put into songs. I think our music has always reflected the times we were living in and in the late 60's and early 70's that coincided with what was happening in pop music. I don't think it goes any deeper than that. We were bouncing around the country like every other twenty something kid and writing about it and those kids related to it. I used to put up a tent on the Hopi Indian reservation on my trips back and forth from the Midwest to L.A. When we left Hollywood I lived there... wind chimes hanging from the pinion pine like a George Carlin character in an old hippie movie. During the L.A. exodus, Michael and I rendezvoused in Old Orabi on Third Mesa and watched the Hopi Snake Dance together before heading on to Oklahoma and our first post-L.A. gig. Listen to our first Buddah album, Weeds. Look at the cover. I think that says it all!" Yet, ironically, it was via a single  that the duo would make a breakthrough into the broader rock audience. 

When playing a show at New York's prestigious Carnegie Hall as openers for the aforementioned Melanie, they decided to perform a song that they'd been knocking into shape a matter of a few hours before. That song was One Toke Over The Line, and its overt drug-referencing went down a storm with the hippies in the crowd. Bogart took note of the response, and insisted that the duo record and release the track as a single. Ultimately, you've got to admire Bogart's unerring sense of what it takes to make a hit; he knew he could exploit the song's drug theme, crank up the controversy angle and fluke a smash 45 out of it. He wasn't wrong; but the notion of a hit single didn't play well with the duo, who felt that their work couldn't be reduced and simplified in such a way. They were meticulous about the way in which they constructed albums, and arbitrarily pulling a song from amongst the songs that surrounded it just didn't make sense to Brewer  and  Shipley. Unfortunately, it also served to put an unfortunate label on the duo as 'those two who made that drug record', a statement that is undeniably true, but a woeful undervaluing of their considerable talents.

The second brace of albums featured here, 'Shake Off The Demon* and 'Rural Space' come from 1971 and 1972 respectively, and though they yielded no hit  singles, are nonetheless fine collections. The duo's previous Buddah albums had been produced by Nick Gravenites of Electric Flag, but the duo opted to produce themselves from now on - perhaps they thought that by now they were more studio-savvy. Tom Shipley thinks that this might not have been the right idea:"Studio savvy? We thought we were. In retrospect it was probably a mistake. While I think we were good producers at that time, Nick {Gravenites) had incredible access to every good musician in the Bay area. He also had a real talent for putting together bands. I have also come to believe that most artists shouldn't produce themselves. It's an objectivity issue. I think if we had continued on with Nick for another album or two they might have met with more success. I believe it hurt us with our record company, firing our producer after having had two successful albums with him. Weeds, while not a top forty album, did very well on underground radio and helped set the stage for our second Buddah album, Tarkio and the One Toke single. 

They might have done a better job of promoting our next album if we had stayed with Nick. I'm not really sure their hearts were in it when we released Shake Off the Demon because they were starting to view us as temperamental artists. Of course by that time we had been on the road forever and were, how can I put it? Crazy!" Shake Off The Demon opens with the title track, an uplifting mid-pace rocker with the duo's excellent close harmonies being underpinned by rollicking barrelhouse piano played by Mark Naftalin. It's also considerably enhanced by Quicksilver Messenger Service guitarist John Cippolina weighing in with some raunchy slide guitar. Merciful Love is a sweet, intricate ballad, again beautifully sung by the duo. Message From The Mission (Hold On) is a message of solidarity from Brewer  and  Shipley to the confused counterculture audience to simply keep on keeping on. Rural Space also features some fine musicians – including drummer Prairie Prince, before he joined The Tubes and latterly Jefferson Starship. Musically it as varied as ever - Have A Good Life comes over as almost a Gregorian chant, and Blue Highway, clocking in at over six minutes, is one of their most developed tracks musically speaking of their recording career thus far. Going from a Blue Highway to a Block Sky - the latter penned by Steve Cash, the song would later feature on the self-titled Ozark Mountain Daredevils debut album. Yankee Lady is from the pen of the-then exiled Jesse Winchester - he had to move to Canada to avoid the Viet Nam draft, and based himself there - and Brewer  and  Shipley weigh in with an excellent version.

Overall, these four albums represent a fine snapshot of where US folk-rock was at on the cusp of the late sixties and into the early seventies. Fine harmonies, strong melodies and excellent musicianship conspire to produce music of a lasting quality. However, things would change at the duo's record label; main man Neil Bogart would soon set up the Casablanca Records label, finding huge success with Kiss and a little later, Donna Summer. Furthermore, the Californian soft-rock sound as represented by The Eagles would soon become a dominant feature of US radio, and the rather more earthier Brewer  and  Shipley were never slick enough to do that.

After being dropped by the label, the duo then recorded for Capitol, but after over ten years of recording and constant touring, the duo amicably parted ways in l980,They have, however, reconvened - the counter-culture audience, now well into its sixties and seventies, still loves its heroes, and the guys are still out there gigging. And they still play 'One Toke'!
by Alan Robinson, September 2016

Disc 1   Weeds 1969
1. Lady Like You - 2:07
2. Rise Up (Easy Rider) - 3:16
3. Boomerang - 2:20
4. Indian Summer - 2:57
5. All Along The Watchtower (Bob Dylan) - 3:18
6. People Love Each Other - 2:52
7. Pigs Head - 2:07
8. Oh, Sweet Lady - 1:58
9. Too Soon Tomorrow - 2:51
10.Witchi-Tai-To (Jim Pepper) - 6:56
Tarkio 1970
11.One Toke Over The Line - 3:22
12.Song From Platte River - 3:19
13.The Light - 3:11
14.Ruby On The Morning - 2:19
15.Oh Mommy - 3:05
16.Don't Want To Die In Georgia - 3:49
17.Can't Go Home - 2:33
18.Tarko Road - 4:34
19.Seems Like A Long Time (Ted Anderson) - 4:16
20.Fifty States Of Freedom - 6:51
All songs by Michael Brewer, Tom Shipley except where stated

Disc 2 Shake Off The Demon 1971
1. Shake Off The Demon - 3:14
2. Merciful Love - 1:55
3. Message From The Mission (Hold On)  - 3:07
4. One By One  - 3:05
5. When Everybody Comes Home  - 2:03
6. Working On The Wall  - 3:18
7. Rock Me On The Water (Jackson Browne) - 4:02
8. Natural Child  - 3:46
9. Back To The Farm  - 3:22
10.Sweet Love  - 3:54
Rural Space 1972
11.Yankee Lady (Jesse Winchester) - 3:38
12.Sleeping On The Way  - 2:19
13.When The Truth Finally Comes  - 2:34
14.Where Do We Go From Here  - 2:18
15.Blue Highway(David Getz, Nick Gravenites) - 6:24
16.Fly Fly Fly (Steve Cash) - 3:08
17.Crested Butte  - 3:24
18.Got To Get Off The Island  - 3:15
19.Black Sky (Steve Cash) - 3:42
20.Have A Good Life  - 2:31
All songs by Michael Brewer, Tom Shipley except where noted

Weeds  1969
*Mike Brewer - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Shakers, Vibra-Slap
*Tom Shipley - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Twelve String Guitar
*Mike Bloomfield - Electric Guitar
*Mark Naftalin - Piano, Organ
*Ira Kamin - Organ, Piano
*John Kahn - Bass
*Robert Huberman - Bass
*Bob Jones - Drums
*Fred Olsen - Electric Guitar
*Orville "Red" Rhodes - Pedal Steel Guitar
*Richard Green - Fiddle
*Applejack - Harmonica
*Rienol Andino - Congas
*Nicky Hopkins - Piano
*Phil Ford - Tabla

Tarkio 1970
*Mike Brewer - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
*Tom Shipley - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
*Mark Naftalin - Piano, Organ
*John Kahn - Bass, Wah-Wah
*Fred Burton - Electric Guitar
*Bill Vitt - Drums
*Bob Jones - Drums
*Noel Jewkes - Flute
*Jerry Garcia - Pedal Steel Guitar
*Diane Tribuno - Chorus
*Nick Gravenites - Chorus
*Danny Cox - Chorus

Shake Off The Demon 1971
*Michael Brewer - Acoustic, Electric Guitar, Piano, Mouth Harp, Percussion, Vocals
*Tom Shipley - Acoustic, Electric Guitar, Bass, Banjo, Vocals
*John Kahn - Bass
*Mark Naftalin - Piano, Organ, Vibes
*John Cippollina - Electric, Slide Electric Guitars
*On 'Shake Off The Demon'
*Spencer Dryden - Drums
*"Littlejohn" Harteman III - Drums
*Glenn Waters - Drums
*Jose "Chepita" Areas - Congas, Bongos, Timbalas

Rural Space 1972
*Mike Brewer - Guitars, Percussion, Vocals, Foot Tambourine
*Tom Shipley - Bass, 12 String, Electric Guitars, Vocals
*Billy Mundy - Drums, Percussion
*Prairie Prince - Drums
*Fred Burton - Electric Guitars
*John Kahn - Bass
*Turk Murphy - Trombone
*Phil Howe - Clarinet
*Leon Oakley - Coronet
*James Maihack - Tuba
*John Kahn  - Horn Arrangements
*Mike Naftalin - Piano, Accordion
*Bill Vitt - Drums
*Phil Howe - Soprano Saxophone
*Buddy Cage - Pedal Steel Guitar

1967-68  Brewer And Shipley - Down In L.A. 

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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Arlo Guthrie - Arlo Guthrie (1974 us, marvelous folk rock, 2005 digipak remaster)

Arlo Guthrie's seventh record follows a formula that he'd been developing over the past several years -- a handful of interesting originals mixed with a song or two by a legend, something traditional, a couple of jokes, and one of Dad's tunes. Guthrie's fondness for nostalgia mixed with his '60s idealism could turn such predictability into folky mush, but things are kept fresh by his strong sense of tradition, commitment, and taste, along with his growth as an artist in general. As far back as Alice's Restaurant, Guthrie proved himself to be an affable performer, but the 1970s showed an added depth and maturity with each new release. 

The Nixon diatribe "Presidential Rag" and the Mideast peace plea "Children of Abraham" bookend Woody Guthrie's "Deportees" nicely, while Jimmie Rodgers' "When the Cactus Is in Bloom" is a good fit with Arlo's bucolic tales "Me and My Goose" and "Bling Blang." Elsewhere, "Nostalgia Rag" hints at Randy Newman, "Go Down Moses" has the backing of a full gospel choir, "Won't Be Long" sports a country feel, and "Hard Times" is mountain music. Along with producers John Pilla and Lenny Waronker, Arlo chooses from a cream-of-the-crop collection of musicians to pull off this eclectic mix. And it's to his credit that he's successful more often than not. Though there's nothing drastically different here for Guthrie, the album continued a steady growth through the '70s, which placed him firmly at the doorstep of what would be the pinnacle of his career. 
by Brett Hartenbach

1. Won't Be Long - 2:40
2. Presidential Rag - 4:30
3. Deportees (Woody Guthrie, Martin Hoffman) - 3:50
4. Children Of Abraham - 2:28
5. Nostalgia - 2:54
6. When The Cactus Is In Bloom (Jimmie Rodgers) - 2:21
7. Me And My Goose - 2:02
8. Bling Blang (Woody Guthrie) - 2:47
9. Go Down Moses (Traditional) - 2:45
10.Hard Times - 2:43
11.Last To Leave - 2:34
Music and Lyrics by Arlo Guthrie except where stated

*Arlo Guthrie - Guitar, Vocals
*Byron Berline - Fiddle
*Roger Bush - Bass
*James Cleveland - Choir Master
*Ry Cooder - Guitar
*Jesse Ed Davis - Guitar
*Nick Decaro - Accordion, Strings
*Doug Dillard - Banjo
*Buddy Emmons - Pedal Steel Guitar
*Chris Ethridge - Bass
*Jim Gordon - Drums
*Jim Keltner - Drums
*Clydie King - Vocals
*Thomas Molesky - Design
*Spooner Oldham - Keyboards
*John Pilla - Guitar
*Jessica Smith - Vocals
*Southern California Community Choir - Choir/Chorus

1967  Arlo Guthrie - Alice's Restaurant 
1968  Arlo Guthrie - Arlo
1969  Arlo Guthrie - Running Down The Road 
1970  Arlo Guthrie - Washington County (2004 digipak remaster)
1972  Arlo Guthrie ‎- Hobo's Lullaby 
1973  Arlo Guthrie - Last Of The Brooklyn Cowboys (2005 remaster)

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Saturday, May 5, 2018

Travis Wammack - Travis Wammack (1972 us, splendid classic rock roots 'n' roll with funky soul drops, 2017 korean remaster)

There are some names you never forget.  Names like Narvel Felts, Felton Jarvis, Elvis Presley...Good Southern names for self-styled boys that made some of rock-n-roll’s great wild records.  Such a name and such a man is Travis Wammack. Born in Walnut, Mississippi, he began his professional music career when he wrote and recorded his first record at the tender age of eleven, and also became the youngest member ever voted into the musicians union. After moving to Memphis, Tennesse, the young guitarist made his mark on the music world at the age of sixteen with his 1963 number one hit “Scratchy”.

He was the first to develop and use the fuzz tone for an electric  guitar.  By 1969, Wammack’s skills landed him in Muscle Shoals, Alabama  where he teamed with legendary producer Rick Hall at Hall’s FAME Records.  Travis’ guitar licks can be heard on hit records that have sold over 'SIXTY  MILLION' copies!…songs recorded by artists such as Aretha Franklin, Wilson  Pickett, Little Richard, Mac Davis, Clarence Carter, the Osmond Brothers,  Bobbie Gentry, Candi Staton, Delbert McClinton, Liza Minnelli, Narvel Felts  and many more.  Wammack’s solo artist career (produced by Hall) also sky  rocketed with the release of albums in 1971 and 1975.

He traveled the world  as Little Richard’s band leader from 1984 until 1995, performing on several  nationally syndicated television programs as well as President Bill Clinton’s  inauguration party.  Wammack became known as the “Fastest Guitar Player In  The South”, where he was described by Rolling Stone’s Greg Shaw as “the  fastest guitar player I have ever heard in my life, and not just fast but good.   Brilliant, even.  His stage show is flamboyant and exciting.” In 1998, Wammack  released his live CD "Still Rockin’".  It contains a collection of rock and soul  classics from the 60's and 70's.  

In 2000, his “Snake, Rattle & Roll in Muscle  Shoals” CD was released.  This release contains a collection of Travis’ best  original material and is sure to rock you with a touch of soul.  In 2002  Wammack released another live CD “Rock-N-Roll Party" which showcases everything from his soul vocals on ‘Dreams To Remember’, his dazzling guitar  work and voice-box on ‘Rocky Mountain Way’, to the swampy slide work on  his original ‘Rock-N-Roll Shoes’.  In 2008 Travis released the CD "Memphis +  Muscle Shoals = Travis Wammack" which includes more of his original rock-n- soul tunes, including a medley of "Scratchy" & "Firefly". 

In 2008 he also  released his first gospel CD "Almost Home". In 2009 he released his fist  country CD "Country In My Soul". In 2010 Travis released "Rock-N-Roll Days",  an acoustic show of oldies but goodies and in 2011 released "Rock-N-Roll  Days Vol. II". Travis now works with Muscle Shoals Music Marketing, and has  added “Producer” to his already impressive resume.  He is a member of the  ‘Memphis Music Hall of Fame’, and in 1999 Wammack received the  Professional Musician Award from the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. 

In 2005 he  was inducted into The Southern Legends Entertainment And Performing Arts  Hall Of Fame. In May 2006, Gibson Guitars presented Travis with a new  Gibson ES-335 guitar as part of their documentary honoring legendary Gibson  ES series players. In 2011 Travis was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of  

1. So Good (Jim Carroll, Joey Levine) - 3:55
2. How Can I Tell You (Cat Stevens) - 4:43
3. Put On Your Shoes And Walk (J.R. Bailey, Ken Williams) - 2:47
4. You Better Move On (Arthur Alexander) - 3:13
5. Funk #49 (Dale Peters, Jim Fox, Joe Walsh) - 4:10
6. You Are My Sunshine (Charles Mitchell, Jimmie Davis) - 4:11
7. Whatever Turns You On (George Jackson, Raymond Moore) - 3:01
8. Darling You're All That I Had (John Bettis, Kerry Chater) - 3:37
9. Slip Away (Marcus Daniel, Wilbur Terrell, William Armstrong) - 2:53
10.I Don't Really Want You (Dennis Linde) - 3:13

*Travis Wammack – Vocals, Guitar
*George Soule - Vocals 
*Ronnie Eades - Vocals, Baritone Saxophone 
*Bass  Bob Wray - Vocals
*Jerry Bridges - Vocals
*Jesse Boyce - Vocals
*Don Cartee - Drums
*Fred Prouty - Drums
*Tarp Tarrant - Drums
*Jerry Bridges  - Guitar 
*Ken Bell - Guitar 
*Clayton Ivey - Keyboards 
*James H. Brown Jr. - Keyboards 
*Tim Hensen - Keyboards 
*Harvey Thompson - Tenor Saxophone 
*Ben Cauley -  Trumpet
*Harrison Calloway Jr. -  Trumpet
*Leo Lablanc - Steel Guitar 

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Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Guy Clark - Old No1 (1975 us, wonderful folk country rock, 2016 japan remaster)

Guy Clark waited a long time to get himself on record, despite a proven pedigree as a songwriter penning sometimes joyous, sometimes bittersweet, frequently autobiographical, always poetic narratives of Western life. Jerry Jeff Walker had cut Clark’s “L.A. Freeway” and “Desperadoes Waiting For A Train” for his eponymous 1972 album, whilst Townes Van Zandt included “Don’t Let The Sunshine Fool Ya” on his sublime The Late Great Townes Van Zandt the same year. Meanwhile, Monahans, TX, native Clark had held down a day job as a TV station art director in Houston whilst playing the city’s folk clubs with the likes of Townes and K.T. Oslin, and, during a brief unhappy spell in Los Angeles, worked as a staff songwriter for Sunbury Music and as a luthier building Dobros. It wasn’t until several years after he moved to Nashville that he finally signed to RCA and released his own first album in 1975, effectively “covering” some of his own tunes that others had put down years earlier.

Under his RCA contract Clark turned out two country-meets-folk albums of such homely, unassuming beauty that it’s amazing in retrospect to think it took him so long to find his own voice on vinyl. On the first, Old No. 1 , Clark’s own belated versions of “Desperadoes” and “Freeway” proved peerless, and other future classics such as “Texas 1947”, “Let Him Roll” and “A Nickel For The Fiddler” rounded out a faultless ten-track set taking in folk, bluegrass, honky-tonk and the most lonesome of torch ballads in a respectful, authentic fashion that contrasted with both the bland country-pop of Chet Atkins’s Nashville roster and the hyperactive rawk’n’roll of Waylon Jennings’s Outlaw clique. 

Alongside Clark’s own masterful acoustic guitar picking, the album featured gorgeous, restrained accompaniments from a bevy of Music Row sessioneers including Reggie Young (guitar), Johnny Gimble (fiddle), Micky Raphael (harmonicas), David Briggs (piano) and Hal Rugg (pedal steel and Dobro) plus almost all of Emmylou Harris’s entourage as guest backing vocalists, with Harris’s own crystal soprano harmonies embellishing Clark’s warm, cracked Texas brogue in similar fashion to the way she’d counterpointed the fragile warblings of Gram Parsons.

None of which, sadly, provided Clark with a hit; there were no singles released and the album itself struggled only to a lowly 41 on the Billboard country chart. The next year’s follow-up Texas Cookin’ similarly made no commercial impact despite being of nearly as high a quality and including such wonderful waxings as “Virginia’s Real”, “Don’t Let The Sunshine Fool Ya” and the incomparable “The Last Gunfighter Ballad”, and that did it for Clark’s RCA contract. 

It would be another two years before he resurfaced on Warner for his third long-player, since when he’s put out infrequent albums on that and no fewer than seven other imprints with no-better-than-modest sales all the way. Yet his songs have been repeatedly covered by country royalty: Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris, Ricky Skaggs, Vince Gill, Brad Paisley, Rodney Crowell, Alan Jackson, Bobby Bare, Jimmy Buffett and the Highwaymen. In 2011 a slew of the aforementioned plus Steve Earle, Joe Ely, Roseanne Cash, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Ron Sexsmith, Townes’s son John and others returned the compliment with a double CD of Clark’s best known tunes entitled This One’s For Him: A Tribute To Guy Clark. Rarely has such a tribute been so genuinely justified, but if this sounds just too gratulatory, treat yourself instead to the twofer CD containing Old No. 1 and Texas Cookin’.
by Len Liechti

Guy Clark died in Nashville on May 17th, 2016, following a lengthy battle with lymphoma.

1. Rita Ballou - 2:51
2. L. A. Freeway - 4:57
3. She Ain't Going Nowhere - 3:27
4. A Nickel For The Fiddler - 2:46
5. That Old Time Feeling - 4:12
6. Texas - 1947 - 3:10
7. Desperados Waiting For Thetrain - 4:30
8. Like A Coat From The Cold - 3:17
9. Instant Coffee Blues - 3:15
10.Let Him Roll - 4:04
All songs by Guy Clark

*Guy Clark – Lead Vocals, Guitar
*Mike Leach - Bass
*Jerry Kroon - Drums
*Larrie Londin - Drums
*Chip Young - Guitar
*Pat Carter - Guitar, Vocals
*Steve Gibson - Guitar
*Jerry Carrigan - Drums
*Dick Feller - Guitar
*Jim Colvard - Guitar
*Reggie Young - Guitar
*Hal Rugg - Dobro, Pedal Steel
*Jack Hicks - Dobro
*David Briggs - Piano, Vocals
*Chuck Cochran - Piano
*Shane Keister - Piano
*Johnny Gimble - Fiddle
*Mickey Raphael - Harmonica
*Lea Jane Berinati - Vocals, Piano
*Rodney Crowell - Vocals
*Emmylou Harris - Vocals
*Gary B. White - Vocals
*Florence Warner - Vocals
*Steve Earle - Vocals
*Sammi Smith - Vocals

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Sunday, April 29, 2018

Various Artists - Of Hopes And Dreams And Tombstones (1964-67 australia, astounding garage beat psych, 2002 release)

From the moment I heard Friday On My Mind by the Easybeats, I was convinced Australians had a special knack for rock. Diligent subsequent listening to pioneering Aussie-60s anthologies such as Ugly Things and So You Want To Be A Rock'n'Roll Star series, plus energetic if largely ineffectual efforts to collect original artefacts from the period, has done nothing to shake that conviction.

Most previous comps concentrate on Australia's formidable garage-rock and psychedelic legacy, highlighted by such world-class nuggets as Undecided by the Masters Apprentices and The Real Thing by Russell Morris. Of Hopes And Dreams And Tombstones: Australia's Beat Years illuminates a less-exposed sub-genre in which Australian artists display the same uncanny mastery.

Beat music, imported from Britain both on record and in person by streams of immigrants, thrived in the Australian mid-60s at lofty levels of proficiency, originality and passion. This 31-track anthology provides a welcome introduction to the scene's diversity. It's got many of the big beat idols - Billy Thorpe And the Aztecs, the Purple Hearts, Normie Rowe And the Playboys, and the twin Tonys of Aussie beat renown, Barber and Worsley - and a host of less celebrated but equally adept compatriots. And the range of styles is remarkable.

Oh by the Rajahs sounds like the Beau Brummels imitating the Searchers. Jimmy Crockett And the Shanes' intense That Lovin' Touch reminds me a bit of the Blues Magoos. Tony Worsley's vocal on Ready Steady Let's Go is reminiscent of a less deranged Roky Erickson.

Thorpe's Blue Day and the Courtmen's I've Got To Let You Go are proto-garage stormers, while Steve And the Board's So Why Pretend and the Pogs' I'll Never Love Again display consummate command of the melodic moody-beat style.

I've always been fascinated by the obscure material antipodean acts unearthed (aided by active music publishers). This collection boasts some prime examples, none more obscure than the Purple Hearts' title track, ephemerally released in the U.S. as a public-service announcement with some copies of the 45 omitting the artist's name (Jimmy Fraser, if you're keeping score at home). Other obscurities include the Others' Dancing Girl, one of Bo Diddley's less-celebrated numbers but one of the better Bo covers in the pantheon-.-and Mike Furber And the Bowery Boys' version of the great Addrisi Brothers/Grains of Sand/Montanas stormer That's When Happiness Began.

I've been raving on for six paragraphs (and entering the seventh) and still haven't mentioned such faves on this anthology as the ultra-tough Don't Ask Me Why by Chris Hall And the Torquays or the rockabilly-flavored rasp of Toni McCann's My Baby or Tony Barber's weird and wondrous I Want Her To. But the best thing about Of Hopes, etc. is that, as comprehensive and eclectic a collection as it is, it merely scratches the surface of the Australian mid-1960s motherlode. Which means that future volumes must be a definite possibility. Which would make me very happy indeed.
by Ken Barnes

Artists - Tracks
1. The Purple Hearts - Of Hopes And Dreams And Tombstones (Joy Byers) - 2:26
2. The Rajahs - Oh! (Leon Isackson) - 2:35
3. Tony Worsley And The Blue Jays - Ready Steady Let's Go (Geoff Brown) - 2:00
4. Billy Thorpe And The Aztecs - Blue Day (Tony Barber) - 2:45
5. Chris Hall And The Torquays - Don't Ask Me Why (Chris Hall) - 2:02
6. Normie Rowe And The Playboys - She Used To Be Mine (Nat Kipner, Steve Kipner) - 2:35
7. Jimmy Crockett And The Shanes - That Lovin' Touch (Nat Kipner) - 2:05
8. Mike Furber And The Bowery Boys - That's When Happiness Began (Dick Addrisi, Don Addrisi) - 2:16
9. The Showmen - So Far Away (Baden Hutchins, Peter Ellison) - 2:24
10.The Sunsets - When I Found You (Lindsay Bjerre) - 2:16
11.Toni McCann - My Baby (Mal Clarke, Royce Nichols) - 2:01
12.Steve And The Board - So Why Pretend (Carl Keats) - 2:22
13.The Courtmen - I've Got To Let You Go (Barry Shepherd) - 2:26
14.Russ Kruger - Well, Ain't That Nice (Theo Penglis) - 2:22
15.Ray Brown And The Whispers - Too Late To Come Home (Christian Arnold, David Martin, Geoffrey Morrow) - 2:22
16.The Playboys - It's Awright (Rufus Thomas) - 2:37
17.The Morloch - Every Night (Noel Neates) - 2:26
18.The Pacifics - Slowly But Surely (Bobby Dean) - 2:57
19.Barrington Davis - Complicated Riddle (Nat Kipner, Ossie Byrne) - 1:31
20.Tony Worsley And The Blue Jays - If You See My Baby (Mal Clarke, Royce Nichols) - 2:33
21.The Five - There's Time (Ron Williams) - 2:17
22.Tony Barber - I Want Her Too (Tony Barber) - 2:29
23.Donnie Sutherland And The Titans - No Cheatin' (Donnie Sutherland, Robert Shean) - 2:09
24.The Others - Dancing Girl (Elias McDaniel) - 2:27
25.Graeme Chapman - Baby Let Your Hair Down (Bart Barberis, Bobby Hart) - 2:11
26.The Mystrys - Witch Girl (Bob Kinleside Crawford) - 2:03
27.The Pacifics - Lost My Baby (Jeffrey James Bean) - 2:16
28.The Pogs - I'll Never Love Again (Peter Best) - 2:38
29.The Librettos - She's A Go Go (Brian Peacock, Rod Stone) - 2:29
30.The Escorts - House On Soul Hill (Ray Eddlemon, Scott Turner) - 1:47
31.Mike Furber - You're Back Again (Lonnie Lee) - 2:18

Related Acts
1964-70  The Purple Hearts / The Coloured Balls - Benzedrine Beat!  
1972  Billy Thorpe And The Aztecs - Long Live Rock And Roll (2008 digipak release) 
1972  Aztecs - Aztecs Live! At Sunbury 

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Friday, April 27, 2018

Various Artists - Welcome to Zamrock! Vol 1 How Zambia’s Liberation Led To A Rock Revolution (1972-77 zambia, fascinating fuzzy garage psych afro rock, 2017 release)

By the mid 1970s, the Southern African nation known as the Republic of Zambia had fallen on hard times. Though the country’s first president Kenneth Kaunda had thrown off the yoke of British colonialism, the new federation found itself under his self-imposed, autocratic rule. Conflict loomed on all sides of this landlocked nation. Kaunda protected Zambia from war, but his country descended into isolation and poverty as he supported rebel movements in neighboring countries Angola, Zimbabwe and Mozambique and stood up against apartheid South Africa.

This is the environment in which the 70s rock revolution that has come to be known as Zamrock flourished. It’s no wonder that the Zambian musicians taken by American and European influences gravitated to the dark side of the rock and funk spectrum. Fuzz guitars were commonplace, as were driving rhythms influenced by James Brown’s funk and Jimi Hendrix’s rock. Musical themes, mainly sung in the country’s constitutional language, English, were often bleak.

When Now-Again Records’s Eothen “Egon” Alapatt started his investigation into this scene, he found that Zamrock markers were few. Only a small number of the original Zamrock godfathers that remained in the country survived through the late ’90s, when the music recorded in ’70s Zambia became the final frontier for those global-psychedelic rock junkies searching for their next fix. AIDS decimated this country, and uncontrollable inflation forced the Zambian rockers that could afford to flee into something resembling exile.

This was not a likely scene to survive – but it did. Following Now-Again’s previous anthologies centered around Zamrock bands WITCH, Ngozi Family, Amanaz and Musi-O-Tunya, Welcome To Zamrock!, presented in two volumes, arrives; these two volumes highlight Now-Again’s decade-long investigation into this musical movement and present the definitive overview of its most beloved ensembles. Zamrock’s ascension, its fall and its resurgence is detailed in an extensive book written by Alapatt and Zambian music historian Leonard Koloko. Both Welcome To Zamrock! volumes are presented as 2LPs (with WAV download card and edited booklet) and also as a full 104-page hardcover book with CD. Bundles of both formats are available only via Rappcats, at a discounted price. Both anthologies contain rare tracks by WITCH, Amanaz, Paul Ngozi, Chrissy Zebby Tembo, Five Revolutions, Dr. Footswitch and every important Zamrock band.

Artists - Tracks
1. Ngozi Family - Hi Babe - 4:02
2. Musi O Tunya – Musi O Tunya - 4:10
3. Witch - You Better Know (Original Version) - 3:30
4. Blackfoot - Running - 3:54
5. Dr. Footswitch - Everyday Has Got A New Dream - 2:34
6. Chrissy Zebby Tembo - Born Black - 3:17
7. Salty Dog - Fast - 4:49
8. Teddy Chisi - Funky Lady - 6:10
9. Crossbones - Rain & Sunshine - 4:42
10.Born Free - I Don't Know - 4:30
11.Five Revolutions - Fwe Bena Zambia - 4:22
12.Amanaz - Khala My Friend (Reverb Version) - 3:20
13.Ricky Banda - Who's That Guy - 4:39
14.Machine Gunners - Changa Namwele - 3:52
15.Keith Mlevhu - Dzikolino Ni Zambia - 5:00
16.Cosmos Zani - Poverty - 4:11

Related Acts
1972-77  Witch - We Intend To Cause Havoc (four discs box set, 2012 release) 
1974  Chrissy Zebby Tembo And Ngozi Family - My Ancestors 

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Monday, April 23, 2018

Bobby Lance - First Peace / Rollin' Man (1971-72 us, marvelous soul psych tinged classic rock, 2015 remaster)

Check the liner notes of an album by an artist that doesn’t primarily write their own material, and the credits will be teeming with the names of the people responsible for penning the songs. Sometimes these names will be familiar: fellow performers, star producers, or the rare songwriter or writing team that has earned enough hits to be well-known in their own right. Much of the time, however, the names will be more obscure, listing writers who may have worked steadily for years turning out album tracks and B-sides, or recording with minor artists rather than stars. If they’re very lucky, they might even manage to punctuate their career with a hit or two.

Such is the case of Bobby Lance, a Brooklyn native who started writing songs with his older sister Fran Robins (17 years his senior) while still a teenager in the late ’50s. Most of their material was doled out to little-known doo-wop and girl group outfits, but the duo scored big when Aretha Franklin took their song “The House That Jack Built” to the Top 10 on both the pop and R&B charts in 1968. The hit granted Lance the opportunity to record two albums for Atlantic Records, 1971’s First Peace (released on the Cotillion imprint) and 1972’s Rollin’ Man, both now compiled onto a single disc and released on CD for the first time by Real Gone Music.

Lance’s debut, 1971’s First Peace, was made with the full backing of the Atlantic machine, featuring a lineup of musicians familiar to anyone who’s studied the liner notes of the label’s classic soul albums of the era. The Swampers, house band for Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, serves as Lance’s core group, while legendary saxophonist King Curtis leads the horn section, and the gospel group the Sweet Inspirations provides the backing vocals. Lance, for his part, leads with a gutsy, Southern-inflected voice of surprising range and intensity, well-suited for the soulful ballads and bluesy rockers comprising the album.

“More Than Enough Rain” is by far the best-known song on either of Lance’s LPs, due to the rumor that Duane Allman plays slide guitar on the track. (Bill Kopp’s liner notes for this reissue presents it as fact, but it’s apparently still a source of debate for avid Allman Brothers fans.) The six-minute psych-blues rocker is a bit of an outlier, however. More typical of First Peace is opening track “Somebody Tell Me,” a mid-tempo R&B groover that mixes blues boilerplate (“My mama had me on a block of wood / in an old broken-down shack”) with vaguely hippie sentiments (“everybody helps each other, yeah”).

First Peace sometimes feels weighed down with Lance’s insistence on piling on the dramatics and “soulful” signifiers, but it’s also packed with enough gems to demonstrate why he managed to be in demand by not one, but two of the most important record labels of the era. (See below.) The underwritten melody line and tired “I’m a man, you can’t hold me down” lyrics of “Somewhere in Between” are more than made up for by its thundering, desperate chorus, which singlehandedly propels the song to the top of the pack. “One Turn You’re In One Turn You’re Out” and “Trouble is a Sometimes Thing” are radio-friendly ballads that could have been R&B hits (though perhaps in cover versions), while the moody atmosphere and tense arrangement of “Shake Down Blues” lends the song a directness largely lacking from rest of the album.

First Peace met with little success. At some point before its release, Lance had also managed to sign a songwriting contract with Motown Records. The legal wrangling between the two labels resulted in a decision that they would split the profits of Lance’s albums, and Atlantic had little interest in promoting a record in which it had only a limited financial stake. Rollin’ Man, released the following year, is far more stripped down, probably due to budgetary restrictions. Gone are the strings and horns, the Sweet Inspirations backing vocals, and Robins as his writing partner. Instead, Lance wrote all the tracks — nine on this album, shrunk down from the 11 on First Peace — and recorded them in New York with a four-piece rock band he had recruited on his own. Even the cover of his second album knocked a few superfluous letters from his name, billing him only as “B. Lance.”

Despite the cutbacks — or, more likely, because of them — the lean Rollin’ Man is the superior album, tamping down the previous album’s florid blue-eyed soulisms and focusing on a tighter rock groove. Lusty opener “Bar Room Sally” introduces Lance in a less self-serious mood; during the coda, he even provides the voice of “Sally” and kissy noises against a clattering, saloon-style piano. For all its goofiness, though, “Bar Room Sally” also sets the template for the level of songcraft throughout the album. Unlike First Peace, where even many of the stronger tracks seemed either underwritten or overly busy, epic rockers like “Something Unfinished” and “John the Rollin’ Man” are packed with hooks, but lean enough to keep them sharp and let them sink in.

Lance’s taste for grandeur hadn’t abated entirely, however, as testified by the lengthy instrumental solos on the eight-and-a-half-minute-long “Hot Wood and Coal,” and the expansive, Neil Diamondesque pop balladry of “Last Stop Change Hands” and “She Made Me a Man.” Yet the limitations of the recording process seem to have inspired Lance. While First Peace at times sounded like a songwriter’s demo tape — a song for Aretha, followed by a song for Clarence Carter — Rollin’ Man is fully committed to Lance’s personal blend of influences and interests. Ever the professional songwriter, however, there’s nothing on the album so personal or idiosyncratic that it couldn’t be covered by a band like Three Dog Night or Grand Funk Railroad. The one exception is album closer “Tribute to a Woman,” a delicate, relatively elliptical hymn that barely runs over a minute, yet contains more genuine feeling than First Peace‘s ode to ladykind, “Walkin’ on a Highway.”

Despite the fact that Lance found his groove, however, Rollin’ Man would prove to be his final album; like its predecessor, it foundered. Lance briefly continued to work as a songwriter for Atlantic, but the trouble he had caused for the label ensured his contract wasn’t renewed when it expired. The man who had worked in the music business since he was a teenager suddenly found himself locked out of the industry. Unlike many of his songwriting peers, however, Lance was lucky enough to leave behind a recorded legacy of his own. First Peace and Rollin’ Man aren’t perfect albums, but Lance’s talent shines throughout. Had he had as much of a head for legal matters and business as for songwriting and performing, it’s possible these albums wouldn’t be just cult curiosities, but the start of a fascinating career.
by Sally O'Rourke

1. Somebody Tell Me - 2:22
2. Somewhere In Between - 3:44
3. One Turn You're In One Turn You're Out - 4:12
4. More Than Enough Rain - 5:54
5. I May Not Have Enough Time - 3:12
6. It Can't Be Turned Around - 2:18
7. Brother's Keeper - 3:28
8. Trouble Is A Sometimes Thing - 3:49
9. Cold Wind Howling In My Heart - 3:39
10.Shake Down Blues - 3:11
11.Walkin' On A Highway - 5:07
12.Bar Room Sally - 4:20
13.Hot Wood And Coal - 8:26
14.Somewhat Unfinished - 3:33
15.She Made Me A Man - 2:30
16.John The Rollin' Man - 4:33
17.Last Stop Change Hands - 5:10
18.You Got To Rock Your Own - 3:12
19.He Played The Reals - 3:38
20.Tribute To A Woman - 1:18
All selections written by Bobby Lance except Tracks 1-11 co written with Fran Robins

*Bob Lance - Guitars, Horn Arrangements, Percussion, Piano, Producer, Vocals
*Barry Beckett - Keyboards
*Garnett Brown - Trombone
*Dick Bunn - Bass
*Leo Edwards - String Conductor
*Jimmy Evans - Drums, Acoustic Guitar, Percussion, Piano
*Roger Hawkins - Drums, Percussion
*Eddie Hinton - Guitars, Slide Guitar
*David Hood - Bass
*Mitch Kerper - Keyboards
*King Curtis - Horn Arrangements, Tenor Sax
*Trevor Lawrence - Baritone Sax, Tenor Sax
*Hubert Laws - Tenor Sax
*Kenny Mims - Guitars, Slide Guitar
*Joe Newman - Trumpet
*George Soulé - Piano
*The Sweet Inspirations - Vocals
*Richard Tee - Organ
*Frank Wess - Flute, Tenor Sax

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