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

Plain and Fancy

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

Nikos Kazantzakis

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Brian Auger With Julie Driscoll - Streetnoise (1970 us, splendid rhythm 'n' blues, jazz prog rock, 2014 japan SHM remaster)

(The approach developed in Open and Definitely What come to fruition in the release of Streetnoise (1969) oft cited as the first fusion recording. An impressive range of diverse influences results in the musical soundscape varying from some very funky organ freak outs, a hip cover of ''Flesh Failures'' (from the musical Hair) through to the mind blowing progressive jazz/rock of ''Ellis Island'' - and culminating in the haunting high point Driscoll's vocal version of Miles Davis' ''All Blues'' a strange and haunting rendition that will undoubtedly open up ears all over again when heard for the first time.

Brian Auger's contribution to music has been considerable, someone who has demonstrated a rare devotion and dedication and who has always been prepared to make sacrifices for what he believed was right. Today, and perhaps belatedly, he is finally acknowledged as one of the most considerable influences in the development of new musical forms, based upon the fusion of two elements, pop and jazz.)

The final collaboration between singer Julie Driscoll (by that time dubbed as "The Face" by the British music weeklies) and Brian Auger's Trinity was Streetnoise in 1969, an association that had begun in 1966 with Steampacket, a band that also featured Rod Stewart and Long John Baldry. As a parting of the ways, however, it was to be Trinity's finest moment. A double album that featured 16 tracks, more than half of them with vocals by Driscoll, and the rest absolutely burning instrumentals by Trinity (which was Auger on organ, piano, electric piano, and vocals), Driscoll on acoustic guitar, Clive Thacker on drums, and Dave Ambrose on bass and assorted guitars. 

"Tropic of Capricorn," an instrumental Auger original, kicks the set off in high gear. It's a knotty prog rock number that has near key change elements of Memphis R&B. it sounds better than it reads; it twists and turns all around a minor key figure that explodes into solid, funky major seventh grit with Thacker double timing the band. Driscoll enters next with "Czechoslovakia," a wide-open modal tune that hints at the kinds of music Driscoll would explore in the very near future on her debut 1969 and later with her future husband Keith Tippett. Broken melody lines and drones are the framework for Driscoll to climb over and soar above, and she does without faltering before she slides into the traditional gospel tune, "Take Me to the Water." And this is how this record moves, from roiling progressive rock instrumentals and art songs, rock style, to inspired readings of the hits of the day such as "Light My Fire," "Flesh Failures (Let the Sunshine In)" from Hair, and one of most stirring readings ever of Laura Nyro's "Save the Country" that closes the album. "Indian Rope Man," is a burning, organ-driven churner that fuses Stax/Volt R&B funkiness with psychedelic rock and jazz syncopation. 

Driscoll's vocal is over the top; she's deep into the body of the tune and wrings from it every ounce of emotion possible and then some. Auger's organ solo is a barnburner; reeling in the high register, he finds the turnarounds and offers his own counterpoint in the middle and lower with enormous chords. The rhythm section just keeps the groove, funking it up one side and moving it out to the ledge until the coda. Another steaming rocker is "Ellis Island," with it's dueling Fender Rhodes and organ lines. it may be the finest instrumental on the album. "Looking in the Eye of the World" featured Driscoll in rare form singing in her voice's lower register accompanied only by Auger's piano on a blues moan worthy of Nina Simone. 

Streetnoise was a record that may have been informed by its era, but it certainly isn't stuck there, especially as the 21st century opens. The music here sounds as fresh and exciting as the day it was recorded. The sound on the reissue is completely remastered and packed in deluxe form; it all adds up to a must-have package for anyone interested in the development of Auger's music that was to change immediately after this record with the invention of the Oblivion Express, and also for those interested in Driscoll's most brave, innovative, and fascinating career as an improviser who discovered entirely new ways of using the human voice. Streetnoise is brilliant. 
by Thom Jurek

1. Tropic of Capricorn (Brian Auger) 5:30
2. Czechoslovakia (Julie Driscoll) 6:45
3. Take Me to the Water (Nina Simone) 4:00
4. A Word About Colour (Julie Driscoll) 1:35
5. Light My Fire (John Densmore, Robby Krieger, Ray Manzarek, Jim Morrison) 4:30
6. Indian Rope Man (Richie Havens, Price, Roth) 3:00
7. When I Was Young (Traditional Arr. by Julie Driscoll) 7:00
8. Flesh Failures (Rado, Ragni, McDermot) 3:05
9. Ellis Island (Brian Auger) 4:10
10.In Search of the Sun (Dave Ambrose) 4:25
11.Finally Found You Out (Brian Auger) 4:15
12.Looking in the Eye of the World (Brian Auger) 5:05
13.Vauxhall to Lambeth Bridge (Julie Driscoll) 6:30
14.All Blues (Miles Davis, Oscar Brown) 5:40
15.I've Got Life (Rado, Ragni, McDermot) 4:30
16.Save the Country (Laura Nyro) 3:56

*Brian "Auge" Auger - Organ, Piano, Electric Piano, Vocals
*Julie "Jools" Driscoll - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
*Clive "Toli" Thacker - Drums, Percussion
*David "Lobs" Ambrose - 4, 6 String Electric Bass, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals

Brian Auger's Oblivion Express
1970 Brian Auger's Oblivion Express (2013 Japan SHM edition)
1971  A Better Land (2006 japan remaster)
1972  Second Wind (2006 japan remaster)
1973  Closer To It (2006 japan remaster) 
With Julie Driscoll
1967  Open (2013 Japan SHM)

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Gandalf - Gandalf (1969 us, superb psych rock with sunny flashes)

There are two general truths I hold to be self-evident. The first: there is no good reason why anyone should start a cover band, unless they need to support themselves by playing weddings, jazz brunches, or Bar Mitzvahs. Something that is already really good doesn’t need to be redone. The second: New Jersey is the armpit of America, and other than a few notable exceptions (The Boss, Palmolive, Princeton University), nothing all that smashing has ever come out of it. Surely there are those of you who will disagree. But even before Bruce Springsteen recognized Jersey pride as a kind of counterintuitive selling point, four teenagers from suburban Tenefly somehow managed to topple both of these "truths" in one fell swoop.

Gandalf, also known as The Rahgoos, were one of those garage line-ups that first saw the light of day in a high school detention hall, when guitarist Peter Sando met bassist Bob Muller in 1958. Though it's hard to imagine there being much of a market for a high school cover band over in the big city next door, New York has always been one of those places where just about anyone can find a home. For The Rahgoos, that home was the Night Owl, a cramped storefront-turned-mythic-rock-cafe where the likes of John Sebastian and his Lovin’ Spoonful and The Blues Magoos packed in to watch acoustic sets by James Taylor and The Flying Machine. The ragtag Night Owl family, including owner Joe Marra, toothless doorman “Jack the Rat,” Pepe the openly gay cook, and Annie, the four-letter-word-slinging head waitress, realized early on that The Rahgoos were much more than what they appeared to be on paper. Before long, the band linked up with Spoonful producers Charlie Koppelman and Don Rubin to sign a record deal with Capitol.

Though The Rahgoos dissolved before their record was ever released, what they left behind is probably one of the most visionary cover albums in the history of pop. Not “visionary” in the sense of re-invention (Easy Star All-Stars’ “Dub Side of the Moon” and “Radiodread” coming to mind), but “visionary” in the sense of re-investment, as though these songs -- songs we’ve already heard a hundred times before -- had suddenly become re-possessed by the ghosts of their true authors. The band changed their name to Gandalf and the Wizards in 1967; this moniker, discovered by drummer Davey Bauer while flipping through Tolkien’s The Hobbit between sets, gives us some idea of the fresh alpine air they would breathe into pop vocal standards like "Nature Boy," "Golden Earrings," and "Scarlet Ribbons".

Whenever I play Gandalf for friends, I like to ask them what color they see. Even if they haven’t seen the album’s orange sleeve, they almost invariably cite a color ranging between red and burnished gold. Gandalf is one of those albums that has an almost synesthetic effect on its listeners, filling every room which it's played with a kind of heavy, perfumed fog. Peter Sando’s wind-kissed, reverb-dripping tenor is perhaps most responsible for this effect. As though his psychic identification with these old love ballads were too strong to be confined within the songs themselves, Sando swoops up from under each melody and wrestles it into the air, blasting the chorus of “Golden Earrings” on track one into a wingspan over an autumnal mountain range.

Perhaps you have already guessed it: Gandalf is one sexy record. Fuzz guitar, Hammond B3, electric sitar, vibraphone, and chunky, equally reverb-saturated bass ground Sando’s voice in a kind of clipped, baroque accompaniment, voluptuous in its restraint. Spaciousness is definitely the defining feeling of the album, but all of its elements seem to be hanging on a single, taught string. Which is what makes Gandalf’s music all the more debilitating when that string finally breaks, and a song that started off as a whispered fairy-tale (“Nature Boy,” sung by Nat and Natalie King Cole in their day) gives way to a drum fill and a guitar howl.

While it may come as a bit of a surprise, not all of the songs on Gandalf are covers. The lovely “Can You Travel in the Dark Alone" and “I Watch the Moon,” the opener and closer of the second side, were penned by Peter Sando himself. I mention this as a closing note, but it shouldn't be taken as a fact that somehow “redeems” the record in terms of authorship and originality. Even without these two songs, Gandalf is about as genuine as an album can get -- its sound so distinctive and unified that it's hard to tell (or care) who wrote what. Sando and his buddies from Tenefly High School did more than just recast a bunch of old yarns within the psychedelic era; they made them theirs.
by Emilie Friedlander

1. Golden Earrings (J. Livingstone, V. Young) - 2:45
2. Hang on to a Dream (Tim Hardin) - 4:12
3. Never Too Far (Tim Hardin) - 1:50
4. Scarlet Ribbons (J. Begal, E. Danzig) - 3:02
5. You Upset the Grace of Living (Tim Hardin) - 2:38
6. Can You Travel in the Dark Alone (Peter Sando) - 3:07
7. Nature Boy (Eden Ahbez) - 3:06
8. Tiffany Rings (Garry Bonner, Alan Gordon) - 1:48
9. Me About You (Garry Bonner, Alan Gordon) - 4:53
10. I Watch the Moon (Peter Sando) - 3:50

*Peter Sando - Guitar, Vocals
*Bob Muller - Bass, Vocals
*Frank Hubach - Electric Piano, Piano, Organ, Harpsichord
*Dave Bauer - Drums

1969  Gandalf - Gandalf 2  (2007 Edition) 

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Watchpocket - Watchpocket (1972 us, impressive guitar rock with blues and folk shades, feat Steve Cropper, 2011 korean remaster)

Watchpocket started out as a solo effort by former Gants frontman Sid Herring. When The Gants called it quits in 1971 Herring relocated to Memphis where he quickly found friends at Jerry Williams and Steve Cropper's TMI Studio.

Credited to Watchpocket, the 1972 single 'Mammy Blue' b/w 'Who Will It Be' (TMI catalog ZS7 9005) attracted considerable local attention, leading TMI to finance a supporting album.

Co-produced by Ron Capone, Cropper, and Williams, 1972's cleverly-titled "Watchpocket" served to showcase Herring's impressive soulful growling voice (if there was ever a young white guy who sounded like a 70 year old blues singer it was Herring), as well as the considerable talents of the TMI studio players. Largely penned by Herring with support from former Gants drummer Don Taylor-Wood the collection literally dripped with blue-eyed soul. Imagine The Gants had they been allowed to record more original material and you'd know what to expect here. With the exception of the bland MOR ballad 'Who'll Take Care of Me', there literally was not a bad song on the album.

Boasting an infectious hook and memorable chorus, 'People All Around Me' was the perfect early-1970s sensitive sing-along. A great mandolin song for people who don't like mandolins. As good as Herring's vocals were on 'Four Walls' the real highlights came from Steve Cropper's blazing guitar. Cropper's always been known for his tasteful and economic runs, and while this one reflected both of those traits, this time out he cut lose. Fantastic performance and my only complaint is that the song faded out just as Cropper was going into overdrive.

Had it been released a couple of years earlier, 'Love Shine' would have given The Box Tops a run for their money. One of the most commercial tracks on the album, but it already sounded somewhat old school at this point. Great support from The Memphis Horns.

'Good Time Tomorrow' was the song The Black Crowes were always trying to write. Blazing Memphis rocker with a hook that won't let go of your mind. J.A. Spell provided the killer keyboards. If you just have to wonder why this one was tapped as a single.I've always loved the opening guitar chords on this one; anyone know how they got the effect? Kind of a bluesy swamp-rocker this one was the perfect for Herring.

Side two opened up with the one misstep; in this case 'Who'll Take Care of Me' was an MOR ballad that was clearly written with a ear to radio play. Tom Jones should have picked it up. Co-written with Cropper, the mid tempo rocker 'Back Porch of My Mind' was the album's standout performance. This one had everything going for it including a great melody, Herring at his most soulful, fantastic backing performances, and another dazzling display by Cropper. Once again the only complaint was that the song faded out just as Cropper was starting to roll.

Ah, 'Love Will Be the Answer' found Herring tuning in his best Otis Redding imitation. The album's lone stab at old school soul, complete with prominent Hammond B3, and Gospel chorus, the results were wonderful.

The album closer 'On the Run' was a complete mystery to me. Written and sung by Bill Hodges, the song had a distinctive mid-1960s garage feel that was unlike anything else on the collection. Different style, different singer, different feel it almost sounded like it was an old Gants track. It almost appeared that TMI tacked it on to ensure the album had sufficient running time, though you were left to wonder why they didn't just add the precursor 'Mammy Blue' single. That's not to say the song wasn't good ... fantastic lead guitar credited to Herring.

Unfortunately for some reason, TMI elected not to include the earlier single 'Mammy Blue' on the album. Combined with RCA's lukewarm support for the collection, the end result was little in the way of sales. Herring actually put together a touring version of Watchpocket, but outside of the local area the band did little and within a year he'd walked away from the project, returning to his native Mississippi. 
by Scott Blackerby

1. People All Around Me (Sid Herring, Don Taylor-Wood) - 2:52
2. Four Walls (Mary V. Williams, Sid Herring, Don Taylor-Wood) - 4:18
3. Love Shine (Dan Sullivan, Gale Harris) - 3:30
4. Good Time Tomorrow (Sid Herring, Steve Cropper) - 2:29
5. Bad Water (Jackie DeShannon, Jimmy holiday, Randy Meyers) - 3:26
6. Who'll Take Care Of Me (Sid Herring, Betty Cropper, Don Taylor-Wood) - 3:08
7. Back Porch Of My Mind (Mary V. Williams, Sid Herring, Don Taylor-Wood) - 3:24
8. Love Will Be The Answer (Steve Cropper, Sid Herring) - 6:15
9. On The Run (Bill Hodges) - 3:01

*Sid Herring  - Lead Vocals, Guitar
*Bill Hodges - Vocals
*Steve Cropper - Guitar
*Paul Cannon - Guitar
*Jimm Johnson - Bass
*Danny Jones - Bass,Vocals
*Richie Simpson - Drums
*Don Taylor-Wood - Drums
*J.A. Spell - Piano
*David Beaver - Electric Piano,  Vocals
*David Mayo - Back-up Vocals
*Pat Taylor - Back-up Vocals
*Sarah Fulcher - Back-up Vocals
*Susan Dotson - Back-up Vocals
*Lynn Pyron - Back-up Vocals
*Dee McMinn - Back-up Vocals
*The Memphis Horns

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Friday, December 12, 2014

Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper, Steve Stills - The Super Sessions (1968 us, psych blues jazz rock masterpiece, 2014 Hybrid Multichannel SACD 24/88)

In the space of mere months, the soundscape of rock shifted radically from two- and three-minute danceable pop songs to comparatively longer works with more attention to technical and musical subtleties. Enter the unlikely all-star triumvirate of Al Kooper (piano/organ/ondioline/vocals/guitars), Mike Bloomfield (guitar), and Stephen Stills (guitar) -- all of whom were concurrently "on hiatus" from their most recent engagements. Kooper had just split after masterminding the definitive and groundbreaking Child Is Father of the Man (1968) version of Blood, Sweat & Tears. Bloomfield was fresh from a brief stint with the likewise brass-driven Electric Flag, while Stills was late of Buffalo Springfield and still a few weeks away from a more or less full-time commitment to David Crosby and Graham Nash. 

Although the trio never actually performed together, the long-player was notable for idiosyncratically featuring one side led by the team of Kooper/Bloomfield and the other by Kooper/Stills. The band is ably fleshed out with the powerful rhythm section of Harvey Brooks (bass) and Eddie Hoh (drums) as well as Barry Goldberg (electric piano) on "Albert's Shuffle" and "Stop." The heavy Chicago blues contingency of Bloomfield, Brooks, and Goldberg provide a perfect outlet for the three Kooper/Bloomfield originals -- the first of which commences the project with the languid and groovy "Albert's Shuffle." The guitarist's thin tone cascades with empathetic fluidity over the propelling rhythms. Kooper's frisky organ solo alternately bops and scats along as he nudges the melody forward. The same can be said of the funky interpretation of "Stop," which had originally been a minor R&B hit for Howard Tate. Curtis Mayfield's "Man's Temptation" is given a brass-fuelled soulful reading that might have worked equally well as a Blood, Sweat & Tears cover. 

At over nine minutes in spin time, "His Holy Modal Majesty" is a fun trippy waltz and includes one of the most extended jams on the Kooper/Bloomfield side. The track also features the distinct hurdy-gurdy and Eastern-influenced sound of Kooper's small electric keyboard-manipulated ondioline, which has a slightly atonal and reedy timbre much like that of John Coltrane's tenor sax. Because of some physical health issues, Bloomfield was unable to complete the recording sessions and Kooper contacted Stills. Immediately his decidedly West Coast sound -- which alternated from a chiming Rickenbacker intonation to a faux pedal steel -- can be heard on the upbeat version of Bob Dylan's "It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry." One of the album's highlights is the churning and scintillating cover of "Season of the Witch." 

There is an undeniable synergy between Kooper and Stills, whose energies seems to aurally drive the other into providing some inspired interaction. Updating the blues standard "You Don't Love Me" allows Stills to sport some heavily amplified and distorted licks, which come off sounding like Jimi Hendrix. This is one of those albums that seems to get better with age and that gets the full reissue treatment every time a new audio format comes out. 
This is a super session indeed.
by Lindsay Planer

1. Albert's Shuffle  (Al Kooper, Mike Bloomfield) - 6:43
2. Stop  (James Ragavoy, Mort Shuman) - 4:23
3. Man's Temptation   (Curtis Mayfield) - 3:25
4. His Holy Modal Majesty (Al Kooper, Mike Bloomfield) - 9:13
5. Really  (Al Kooper, Mike Bloomfield) - 5:29
6. It Takes A Lot To Laugh It Takes A Train To Cry  (Bob Dylan) - 3:30
7. Season Of The Witch (Donovan) - 11:07
8. You Don't Love Me   (Willie Cobb) - 4:12
9. Harvey's Tune  (Harvey Brooks) - 2:09

*Mike Bloomfield - Electric Guitar (Side 1 Only)
*Al Kooper - Piano, Organ, Ondioline, Vocals, 12-String Guitar, Electric Guitar, Horn Arrangements
*Harvey Brooks - Bass
*Eddie Hoh - Drums
*Steve Stills - Electric Guitar (Side 2 Only)
*Barry Goldberg - Electric Piano
*Joey Scott - Horn Arrangements

Al Kooper
1968-69  I Stand Alone / You Never Know Who Your Friends Are
1969  The Kooper Sessions With Shuggie Otis
1970  Easy Does It 
1973  Naked Songs ( Japan remaster)
with Blues Project
1966  Live At The Cafe Au Go Go (2013 Japan SHM double disc set)
1966  Projections (2013 Japan SHM two disc set)
1967   Live At Town Hall (Japan SHM edition)
1973  Reunion In Central Park (Japan SHM edition)
with Blood, Sweat And Tears
1968  Child Is Father To The Man

Mike Bloomfield's tapestry
1964  The Original Lost Elektra Sessions
1965  The Paul Butterfield Blues Band
1966  East West
1966  The Butterfield Blues Band - East-West (2014 Hybrid SACD limited adition) 
1966-68  Strawberry Jam
1967  Electric Flag - The Trip
1968-69  Electric Flag - An American Music Band / A Long Time Comin'  
196?-7?  The Electric Flag - Live
1968  Al Kooper, Mike Bloomfield - The Lost Concert Tapes, Filmore East
1969  Mike Bloomfield And Al Kooper - The Live Adventures
1969  Michael Bloomfield with Nick Gravenites And Friends - Live At Bill Graham's Fillmore West
1969  Nick Gravenites - My Labors
1973  Bloomfield, Hammond, Dr.John - Triumvirate (Japan remaster)
1976  KGB - KGB
1976-77  Michael Bloomfield - Live at the Old Waldorf
1977  Prescription For The Blues

Steve Stills
1970  Stephen Stills - Stephen Stills (debut album, 2008 japan SHM remaster)
1972  Stephen Stills - Manassas (2006 HDCD)
1971-73  Manassas - Pieces (2009 release)
1975-76/78  Stephen Stills - Stills / Illegal Stills / Thoroughfare Gap
1976  The Stills Young Band - Long May You Run

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Randy Newman - 12 Songs (1970 us, outstanding blend of jazz blues and country rock, 2010 Audio Fidelity HDCD)

A complete change from his debut, '12 Songs' was a 'back to roots' album of sorts, following the mixed critical reception afforded his debut. Randy had worked with one of his heroes and influences, Fats Domino, in 1969 also contributing the arrangement to Peggy Lee's 'Is That All There Is' hit song. If 'Randy Newman Creates Something New Under The Sun' had featured literally dozens of music players, he chose a core group of musicians to assist him with his sophomore project. 

Ry Cooder contributes guitar, Clarence White and Gene Parsons of The Byrds add their talents. Session ace Jim Gordon assists on drums, Lyle Ritz plays bass. I can't help but get the feeling however that Randy simply didn't have an abundance of songs at this time. The material here isn't quite as strong or 'cover friendly' as the debut, although this still remains a strong album and selection of material. 'Have You Seen My Baby' is a nice shuffling horn led country rock thing, and very listenable. 'Let's Burn Down The Cornfield' makes good use of Ry Cooder and his bottleneck, very atmospheric stuff with Randy speaking/singing/whispering through the introduction. 

A lazy, laid back and most attractive feel permeates this. 'Mama Told Me Not To Come' is the most covered song of the set, 'Three Dog Night' being possibly the first to have a hit with the song. Tom Jones had a hit with 'Mama Told Me Not To Come' more recently. This is happy, Piano led stuff with Randy in fine voice - absolutely tons of catchy melody and well played guitar parts abound. 'Suzanne' sounds like the kind of song that might have appeared on his debut, only there is no orchestra here. It does sound pretty bare, but the Piano patterns are strangely hypnotic and Randy sings is his characteristic and distinctive way, wrapping himself around the words. 'Lovers Prayer' is a happy, bouncy little thing with great lyrics, 'Lucinda' a little blues thing.

'Underneath The Harlem Moon' is quite gorgeous, I absolutely adore the simple yet beautiful Piano parts, and once more Randy caresses the words, sings with absolute feeling for the song, and this is a highlight of the set. 'Yellow Moon' is another bluesy piece with that voice, and the character of Randy absolutely everywhere in a little story-telling thing. 'Old Kentucky Home' has delightful country guitar picking. Randy goes country, and it's no problem at all. 

The man can do all things! Well, maybe not hard rock..... ooooh! I love the chorus of 'Old Kentucky Home' and this has to be Clarence White on guitar on this song. Clarence was a much underrated and now sadly missed, talent. 'Rosemary' has a little swing about it, a strong rhythm section, Piano, a few brass parts. Another happy, life-affirming piece. This is another excellent album, what was I saying earlier? Not as good as the debut? Well, no. For me, those orchestrations and the ballads on the Randy Newman debut, you know, something like 'I Think It's Going To Rain Today' are such special things, and there is nothing quite like that here. Pretty much everything that is here is good, even if a song like 'If You Need Oil' is a little weak by Randy Newman standards, and mere filler, even though it still works in the context of the album. 

'Uncle Bob's Midnight Blues' is funny, very humorous. Randy once said in an interview that a song-writer should be able to write any kind of song to order. You can believe that he could do that, listening to this album here. I'm very tempted to give this a '9' but it falls just short. There are plenty of fun songs here, but not enough great, awe-inspiring songs for me, to tip this over the edge. Still damn fine, though. 
by Adrian Denning

1. Have You Seen My Baby? - 2:34
2. Let's Burn Down The Cornfield - 3:05
3. Mama Told Me Not To Come - 2:12
4. Suzanne - 3:11
5. Lover's Prayer - 1:58
6. Lucinda - 2:44
7. Underneath The Harlem Moon (Mack Gordon, Harry Revel) - 1:57
8. Yellow Man - 2:23
9. Old Kentucky Home - 2:39
10.Rosemary - 2:10
11.If You Need Oil - 2:59
12.Uncle Bob's Midnight Blues - 2:05
Words and Music by Randy Newman excpet where indicated.

*Randy Newman - Vocals, Piano
*Clarence White - Guitar
*Ron Elliott - Guitar
*Ry Cooder - Slide Guitar
*Lyle Ritz - Bass
*Gene Parsons - Drums
*Jim Gordon - Drums
*Roy Harte - Percussion
*Al McKibbon - Bass
*Milt Holland - Percussion

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Cream - Wheels Of Fire (1968 uk, psych blues jam rock masterpiece, 2014 japan SHM remaster)


Today, when I listen to recordings of the group, analyzing other performers who more or less at the same time they toured and recorded, I realize how revolutionary sonically and executive and was in those years the music, one of the first rock supergroup.

Cream founded by Eric Clapton in 1966. The guitarist was then recognized as a musician - fame brought him appearances in John Mayall band and in the group The Yardbirds. Singing bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker virtuoso knew each other from the performances in the group of Graham Bond Organisation. The situation of these two is so interesting that men got along great on a musical, while privately hated. There were among them even fighting, which did not prevent that crossed their path again in Cream.

Initially, the group was supposed to be a quartet, but eventually found that the Graham Bond, aspiring to the position of keyboardist and vocalist sounds too jazzy. So the concept remains unchanged: the trio. What happened next is history. History, without which hard to imagine how a would sound "In Rock" Deep Purple, Zeppelin's debut, and the first album Osbourne, Iommi, Butler and Ward's 'Black Sabbath'

Albums such as "Fresh Cream", "Disraeli Gears" and above all "Wheels Of Fire" defined the rock in its contemporary twist. Gone were polite arrangements and sentimental melodies, percussion appeared madness, denting the lands lots of bass and guitar overdrive, on which Clapton played like no other in the world. The third record is the most important for group of at least a few reasons. First of all, it is for it included songs like "White Room" - magnum opus group, one of the most important works in the history of rock music. 

The composition of Jack Bruce's phenomenal poet Pete Brown's text (which incidentally also worked with Bruce in his later years), perfectly complemented Clapton guitar wah-wah. The second - the album is divided into two parts - the studio and concert, presented the group Cream in her top form. On the next and final album, "Goodbye", although undoubtedly successful, there is no longer the magic, which was characterized by "Wheels Of Fire". 

At the beginning album of the group, serves the famous "White Room". Characteristic heralds the start that soon things will start to happen unusual. And so it happens when Jack Bruce begins to sing "In a white room with black courtains near the station ...". Baker and cannonade percussion caps distinctive guitar leave no doubt that we are dealing with the art of extraordinary. The trick, which is not grown old, even after more than 40 years.

The band then serves up its own version of the composition Walter Vinson, however, in the case of covers of Cream hard to talk about the usual role-blues standards. "Sittin 'On Top Of The World" sounds rather like the author's composition of the group.

"Passing The Time" is a composition Baker, lyrical song found its development in the psychedelic-sounding chorus. Then comes into the multi-instrumentalist Bruce - in the composition of "As You Said" is dominated by acoustic guitar and cello. The song can be associated with experiments Jimmy Page in "White Summer" and later in "Black Mountain Side".

Then we have the song "Pressed Rat And Wrathog", recited by Ginger Baker. For the curious fact that in concert song has never been performed, however, was incorporated into the program of concerts at the Royal Albert Hall in 2005, played on the occasion of the reactivation of the group. Cynical song "Politician" is in turn composition tandem Bruce / Brown. Bass march in this piece gives it a slightly sinister character. This is certainly one of the most important works of the group. It is worth noting that the overlapping guitar solo is patent that a few years later, a man named Tony Iommi podchwyci in such songs as "War Pigs".

In another composition "Those Where The Days" rhythm enrich bells, tubular bells and marimba. The piece itself bears a great solem guitar provides a counterbalance to the "Born Under A Bad Sign" - a fantastic blues as interpreted by Jack Bruce, enriched sound of the tambourine. The first part of the album closed composition "Deserted Cities Of The Heart", a bit close to the climate "Those Where The Days", however, is dominated by the classic sound - viola, cello and acoustic guitar. It could not fail, of course juicy solos of Eric Clapton and Ginger crazy driving percussion Baker. So it ends up part of the studio.

The second CD includes four live recordings, including the legendary performance of "Crossroads" opening set. The composition of Robert Johnson was served with a true hard rock nerve and actually hard to talk here about the typical processing. Due to the phenomenal guitar riff and one of the best guitar solos in rock history, "Crossroads" has become one of the most important works in the history of rock music. Another recording from 10th March '68 to "Spoonful" - the evergreen Willie Dixon was stretched to 16 minutes, but not for a moment we have no right to be bored. Bruce, Clapton and Baker were masters of improvisation and what it can irritate the example of concert recordings of Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath, here is the strength of the group, phenomenal, both in the studio and live.

"Traintime" is a composition by Bruce - exuberant blues-driven tractive Baker a lead on drums and harmonica feats vocalist. Finally, to Ginger Baker - his "Toad" is one of the first in the history of rock music recorded drum solos. Note that tense is impressive solo instrumental buckle. So ends one of the most important records in the history of rock and me there is nothing else,as to recommend this album to everyone who by some miracle yet have not took note of with it.
by Adamus67

Disc 1
1. White Room (Bruce, Pete Brown) - 5:03
2. Sitting On Top Of The World (Walter Vinson, Lonnie Chatmon; Arr. Chester Burnett) - 5:02
3. Passing The Time (Baker, Mike Taylor) - 4:34
4. As You Said (Bruce, Brown) - 4:25
5. Pressed Rat And Warthog (Baker, Taylor) - 3:16
6. Politician 3 (Bruce, Brown) - 4:16
7. Those Were The Days (Baker, Taylor) - 2:58
8. Born Under A Bad Sign (Booker T. Jones, William Bell) - 3:14
9. Deserted Cities Of The Heart (Bruce, Brown) - 3:43

Disc 2
1. Crossroads (Robert Johnson, Arr. Clapton) 4:19 (Recorded March 10, 1968 At Winterland, San Francisco, CA. 1st Show)
2. Spoonful (Willie Dixon) 16:17 (Recorded March 10, 1968 At Winterland, San Francisco, CA. 1st Show)
3. Traintime 3 (Bruce) 7:03 (Recorded March 8, 1968 At Winterland, San Francisco, CA. 1st Show)
4. Toad (Baker) 16:17 (Recorded March 7, 1968 At The Fillmore, San Francisco, CA., 2nd Show)
5. Sunshine Of Your Love (Clapton, Bruce, Brown) - 6:58
6. N.S.U. (Jack Bruce) - 12:38

*Jack Bruce – Vocals, Lead Vocals, Bass, Cello, Harmonica, Calliope, Acoustic Guitar, Recorder
*Ginger Baker – Drums, Percussion, Bells, Glockenspiel, Timpani, Spoken Word On "Pressed Rat And Warthog"
*Eric Clapton – Guitar, Vocals
*Felix Pappalardi – Viola, Bells, Organ, Trumpet, Tonette

1966  Cream - Fresh Cream (SHM remaster)
1967  Cream - Disraeli Gears (SHM remaster)
1969  Cream - Goodbye (2010 SHM remaster)
1967-68 Cream - Live Cream (2010 SHM remaster)
1972  Cream - Live Cream II (2010 SHM remaster)
1969  Jack Bruce - Songs For A Tailor
1971  Jack Bruce - Harmony Row

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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Gentle Giant - The Power And The Glory (1974 uk, significant prog rock, 2014 24/96 remaster)

This British band is just the cup of tea for aficianados who demand virtuosity, progress and originality in their music. Gentle Giant's work is not easy listening or immediately enjoyable [what really fine music is?] Like many ambitious concept albums, The Power and the Glory takes some getting used to. The unifying themes are power, corruption and the human ramifications. Politics are of course implicit but not dealt with exclusively.

The conception of The Power and the Glory occurred during the making of Octopus [Columbia], GG's previous US release. That album is a masterpiece of juxtaposed idioms and striking freshness. Three brothers were in the group at that time--Ray, Derrick and Philip Schulman--the last of whom has since departed to pursue a teaching career. It was largely his influence that accounted for the literary historical base for much of Octopus' material, with songs inspired by Camus, Laing, Rabelais. Grad student rock.

The Power and the Glory is less esoteric and less diverse in scope as well. That minor complaint is my only one. Serious, complicated, and strangely beautiful, the album is a compelling exploration of power's use and illusory appeal.

I spoke to Ray and Derek at a meet-your-record-company bash the night before their appearance at last month's Traffic concert. About the album: they wished to stress that Watergate and current British political scenes were in no way motivations for The Power and the Glory: relevance is coincidental. Also, they intend that the songs be taken individually, appropriate in their own sense, if you do not consider them in their thematic unity. The cynical "Aspirations" for instance is contextually a song from the people begging their leaders for guidance, advice; out of context, it is a love song.

Instead of using a dramatic format, eight broad categories were decided upon for inclusion [one for each track]-- necessary as Ray noted, because a thorough exploration of the topic would require about 10 albums. The "message" if any comes at the end of the record when the cycle of dreams, promises, corruption, and power begins to repeat itself.

The brothers informed that "Proclamation", the opening cut, is a political speech. It is also meaningless doubletalk "rubbish". Still, afterwards and again at the record's close, the people cheer desperate "Hails!"

The brothers avoid commenting on their own political, individual commitments, wishing their music to remain wide open for interpretation. Derek sees their roles as humanistic chroniclers of the times rather than as advocates of a specific point of view. 'Existential' would probably come closest to characterize their outlook: they noted that this philosophy is an ideal, impractical intellectual one, necessary to consider but impossible to live.

GG has never been too interested in drugs either. Music is their way of life. Keyboardist-composer Kerry Minnear received the NIM degree in composition from the Royal Academy of Music--the first awarded in ten years. Ray has been studying classical violin for 14 years. Percussionist John Waters, from Wales, has played with Graham Bond and the Grease Band.

The material is written by the Schulman brothers and Minnear. a heuristic at heart, I tried to get the group to name influences, personal favorites. Though hesitant, they begrudged a few names: Stravinsky, Zappa, Steely Dan, Corea and Hancock, Norman Mailer. David Bowie? "Pleasant music, that's all", quipped Derek.

The music of GG is as important, intelligent and original as any being made today. Next project: a live album, guaranteed to blow heads---unfortunately an experience only hinted at by GG's recent encounter with David's shoddy-sound-system slingshot in the Colisseum. Too bad the Ebbetts Field rumors never materialized.

The Power And The Glory is a gem amongst gems, mixing Gentle Giant's restless energy and invention, with beautiful melodies and potent (complex) Rock riffage. This edition features 2014 stereo and 5.1 mixes by Steven Wilson, a flat transfer of the original mix, plus instrumental mixes and two bonus tracks.

1. Proclamation - 6:56
2. So Sincere - 3:51
3. Aspirations (R. Shulman, Minnear) - 5:20
4. Playing The Game - 6:45
5. Cogs In Cogs - 3:09
6. No God's A Man - 4:27
7. The Face - 4:12
8. Valedictory - 3:22
9. The Power And The Glory (Bonus Track) - 2:59
10.Aspirations (Instrumental Out Take) (R. Shulman, Minnear) - 5:15
Music and Lyrics by Kerry Minnear, Derek Shulman and Ray Shulman, except where noted.

Gentle Giant
*Derek Shulman - Lead Vocals, Tenor Saxophone
*Kerry Minnear - Hammond Organ, Minimoog , Electric Piano, Mellotron , Marimba, Vibraphone, Cello, Vocals
*Ray Shulman - Bass, Violin, Electric Violin, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
*Gary Green - Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
*John Weathers - Drums, Tambourine, Sleigh Bells, Cymbals

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