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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Toby Twirl - Toby Twirl (1968-71 uk, marvellous mod beat, 2017 release)

Newcastle band Toby Twirl was formed in 1968 and released three singles on the Decca label (these things used to matter, believe me), none of which troubled the charts at the time and none of which appear on this, effectively the band's debut album, although a version of their final 45, ‘Movin’ In’, is included.

The dozen recordings featured here were found by the band’s drummer, John Reed, in an old box of reel-to-reel tapes thought long-lost but which was found in his attic. So, as none of the band’s original singles sold enough copies to make the charts, they were dropped by Decca after just one year on the label and these lost recordings are mainly demos and rehearsal recordings the band made in the late Sixties, you’d be forgiven for thinking that maybe the tapes should have stayed hidden away. You’d also be wrong.

Remember that there was a considerable amount of singles being released every week back in the Sixties. Despite the few radio plays that Toby Twirl gained, if the songs didn’t find an audience almost immediately (or it was an established band), then a band’s latest 45 would fall by the wayside as there were another couple of hundred ready for the record buyers' attention coming along in the next seven days. Many 45's deserved a better fate than they received. While the band’s second Decca single, the group-penned ‘Toffee Apple Sunday’, is probably their best known song (and the only single that the band actually played on, in keeping with the times sessions musicians were employed with the band adding their vocals) and which was covered by one of New Zealand’s most respected bands of that period, the Fourmyula, the dozen songs on this delayed debut show that song wasn’t their only jewel and that the band must have been frustrated at not being allowed to play on their other singles as throughout these songs they prove to be a tight and talented unit.

There are a couple of Beatles covers, an interesting version of ‘Baby You’re A Rich Man’ which doesn’t stray too far from the original but which certainly has some of the band’s own identity stamped through it, more so than many of the perfunctory covers of Beatles songs back in those times. There’s also a beautiful version of ‘Something’; it’s not as laid-back as the original and features fantastic vocal work from the band; consider that this cut certainly wasn’t afforded the time and resources that the Fab Four put into their version and it’s an amazing performance.

Of the other covers, ‘Born To Be Wild’ shows that the band could handle heavier material with ease and that there was more to the group than their trio of singles would suggest. Again, without wishing to take anything away from the excellent playing from the band, especially on this track, it’s the impressive vocals that steal the show. Joe Cocker’s second single ‘Marjorine’ is another cover that the band put their own stamp on. Dare one suggest that while the vocals are light years away from Cocker’s own on this song they are more immediately pleasing? The band also make a fine fist of the Guess Who’s ‘American Woman’, again displaying the heavier direction they were maybe going to take had they been around just a little longer. What doesn’t work so well is the band’s take on the Everly Brothers' ‘When Will I Be Loved’, their reggae-infused arrangement takes away the edge of the song but strangely the main reason for this, the keyboard, is also its saving grace.

For those old enough to remember Toby Twirl this compilation of unreleased tracks goes some way to dispelling those images we had of the band as a pop-sike, pysch-lite act. The opening song, ‘Baby. What Good is Love?’ is a fine beat-era cut and more representative of what the band is remembered for, ‘The Dark Time of the Year’ is a reflective ballad typical of the period (‘Reflections of Charles Brown’ comes to mind) and once again those vocals shine, while ‘Something in Your Eyes’ adds a R’n’B flavour to the mix.

Considering the source of this material the good guys at Mega Dodo have obviously spent some time restoring the tapes to achieve the best possible sound and it’s been time well spent. The songs are all presented in punchy mono and are surprisingly clear. Congratulations to all who had a hand in restoring these tapes.

Toby Twirl’s original singles have gained more interest over the last few years than they did when originally released and the prices that the 45s now command reflect this, but for a full picture of just what this talented and vastly underrated group were really about save yourself a few quid and head for where this collection is available on CD and also limited edition vinyl. One ‘lost’ sixties classic which really does deserve that title.
by Malcolm Carter, 02/10/2017

1. Baby What Good Is Love - 2:46
2. Dark Time Of The Year - 3:43
3. Something In Your Eyes - 2:37
4. Love Is Love - 3:07
5. Baby You’re A Rich Man (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) - 3:00
6. Movin’ In  (Joe Sauter, Mike Lewis, Sonny DiNunzio) - 3:08
7. Born To Be Wild  (Mars Bonfire) - 3:16
8. Marjorine (Joe Cocker, Chris Stainton, Tom Rattigan, Frank Myles) - 3:03
9. Something (George Harrison) - 2:55
10.When Will I Be Loved (Phil Everly) - 2:37
11.Gonna Have A Good Time (Good Times) (Christopher Young) - 3:16
12.American Woman (Burton Cummings, Garry Peterson, Jim Kale, Randy Bachman) - 3:26
13.Let's Spend The Night Together (Mick Jagger, Keith Richards) - 3:17
14.Hollies Meddley - 3:40
15.Toffe Apple Sunday (John Graham Reed, Nick Thorburn) - 2:03

Toby Twirl
Tracks 1-6 And 14-15
*Dave 'Holly' Holland - Vocals
*Barry Sewell - Keyboards, Vocals
*Nick Thorburn - Guitar, Vocals
*Stuart Somerville - Bass Guitar, Vocals
*John Reed - Drums, Vocals
Tracks 7-13
*Steve Pickering - Vocals
*Barry Sewell - Keyboards, Vocals
*Nick Thorburn - Guitar, Vocals
*Stuart Somerville - Bass Guitar, Vocals
*John Reed - Drums, Vocals
Tracks 9, 10
*Dave Robson - Bass Guitar

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Sunday, July 15, 2018

Coke - Coke (1972 us, wonderful latin jazz brass psych rock, 2018 korean remaster)

At it’s inception, the bands’ name was not COKE. The original name of the group was “Instant Garage Band.” The name COKE emerged later during a rehearsal session when the original members decided they needed a catchier name. Those founding members were Ariel Hernandez (bass), Paul “Polito” Garcia (guitar), Ruben Perez (drums), Gary (lead vocal), and an Italian fellow by the name of Tony (keyboard) who was sipping a Coca-Cola during rehearsal and said “why don’t we call it COKE.” As they say, the rest is history. From that day on “Instant Garage Band” was COKE – short and sweet.

One of the most recognized local bands in Miami at the time were the Antiques. The Antiques were in high demand for Quinces, Open Houses and private events, but that was about to change. You see, in 1971 a “Battle of the Bands” event took place at Dinner Key Auditorium. Much to everyone’s surprise, including the Antiques, little known COKE played so well that day the crowning Antiques had their work cutout for them.

The Battle of the Bands first prize winner (or winners I should say) turned out to be both COKE and The Antiques. It became a three way tie between COKE, The Antiques and 2 Plus 1 (if I’m not mistaken.) The award ceremony took place at Salon Sophia, and the trophies were presented to the bands by “La Gorda de Oro.” Do you remember “La Gorda de Oro?” She was Mirta Silva, the Puerto Rican singer, composer and television producer who was affectionately known as “La Gorda De Oro”.

That event put COKE on the local map and it set the stage for a recording opportunity that allowed the band to get recognized in other markets like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Puerto Rico. That’s when the Coca-Cola Bottling Company steps in and stops the boys dead on their tracks. In order to protect its brand, the company served them with a legal letter to cease and desist from using the Coke brand as their name. Ouch! This put a dampener on things for sure. By now the band had already established an identity and had carved a niche for itself with its fusion of Latin rock, psychedelia, and funk that was part of the Miami Sound.

In March of 1973, COKE was #14 in Chicago in the Latin Billboards and #12 in Los Angeles (see figure 1 on the right.) They were still climbing the charts and the record promoters had a lot of money at stake, so they replaced the K with Q (COKE to COQE) to stay under the radar of the Coca-Cola Bottling Company. Two months later in May of ’73, COKE had climbed to #2 in Miami with the Antiques trailing close behind at #4 (see figure 2.) The following month COKE had dropped to # 6 in Miami while the Antiques hit #1 with “Dias Como Hoy” sung by Eddy Diaz.

The demand from the Coca-Cola Bottling Company to cease and desist came the following year in ’74. That very same year, the band officially changed their name to “Opus” upon the release of their second album entitled ‘Opus’ featuring Frankie B (Frank Batista) as lead singer.  The album included popular hits such as “Beware”, “Marta” and “Get Yourself Up”. Shortly after, the band recruited saxophonist, Chester Rosas-Guyon. Months later Peter Fernandez joined the Antiques as lead singer and Joe “Tito” Rubio on keyboard and were part of the “Antiques Experience” – the album with the hit song “Cuando Vuelva a tu Lado.”
by Frank Prieto on April 22, 2012

1. Na Na (Paul Garcia, Peter Fernandez) - 4:02
2. You Turn Me On (Paul Garcia, Peter Fernandez) - 6:12
3. Got To Touch Your Face (J. Felicia Cohen) - 2:19
4. Quiero Decirte (José Rubio, Paul Garcia, V. Angulo) - 3:17
5. Bun Bun Bun (Paul Garcia, Peter Fernandez) - 3:06
6. Bang Bang (Arranged By Paul Garcia) - 3:29
7. Sabor A Mi (A. Carrillo) - 3:26
8. Te Amo Mas (Beachwood) - 3:39
9. Nuestro Amor (F. Asencio, J. Felicia Cohen) - 2:37
10.Que Seria De Mi (Senecal, Mercer, Blake, Jackson, Paul Garcia) - 3:19

The Coke
*Paul Garcia - Guitar
*Jose Rubio - Organ
*Ariel Hernandez - Bass
*Ruben Perez - Drums
*Peter Fernandez - Vocals

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Thursday, July 12, 2018

Puzzle - The Second Album (1974 us, magnificent funky jazz rock, 2018 korean remaster)

Singer John LiVigni "John Valenti" formed Puzzle in Chicago, Illinois with Bobby Villalobos (guitar), Ralf Richert (guitar, trumpet), Anthony Siciliano (bass), Larry Klimas (saxophone, flute), Bob Williams (trumpet) and Joseph Spinazola (organ, piano).

Their brand of rock and jazz, reminiscent of Chicago, made them a popular live act in venues between Detroit and Chicago and let them being signed to Motown in 1972.

Originaly intended for the Rare Earth imprint, they were switched to the main Motown label for their debut album Puzzle in April 1973. A second album was released the following February, imaginatively entitled Second Album. 

A third album, "How Do We Get Out Of The Business Alive" was to have been released later in 1974 but was subsequentle cancelled. John LiVigni later changes his name to John Valenti and went solo, recording for Ariola America,

1. You Took Me Wrong - 4:15
2. Mary, Mary - 3:26
3. State Of Mind (John LiVigni, Joseph Spinazola) - 4:18
4. Everybody Wants To Be Somebody - 3:25
5. Haiku (Bob Williams) - 5:34
6. My Love (John LiVigni, Joseph Spinazola) - 3:55
7. Now That You Love Me (John LiVigni, Larry Klimas) - 4:17
8. Concept Of Her (Prelude-A Moment's Rest-Visions) (Joseph Spinazola) - 8:58
9. N.Y.C. - 3:42
All songs by John LiVigni except where noted

*John Livigni "John Valenti" - Vocals, Drums, Percussion
*Anthony Siciliano - Bass
*Bobby Villalobos - Guitar
*Ralf Richert - Guitar, Trumpet
*Joseph Spinazola - Organ, Piano
*Larry Klimas - Saxophone, Flute
*Bob Williams - Trumpet

1973  Puzzle - Puzzle (Vinyl edition)

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Sunday, July 8, 2018

The Jelly Bean Bandits - The Jelly Bean Bandits (1967 us, striking garage psych)

Newburgh, New York psych-punks the Jelly Bean Bandits formed in 1966. Singer Billy Donald, guitarist Jack Dougherty, bassist Fred Buck, keyboardist Michael "Mr. Addams" Raab, and drummer Joe "Laredo London" Scalfari originally operated as "the Mirror", regularly packing area nightspots like the local Trade Winds, Poughkeepsie's Buccaneer Nightclub, and Burlington, Vermont's Red Dog. In due time, they recorded a three-song demo reel that resulted in a three-album recording contract with Mainstream Records -- however, unknown to Mainstream, these three songs represented the sum total of the Jelly Bean Bandits' repertoire, forcing the band to write enough additional material to flesh out a full-length LP in the course of a week.

Amazingly, their eponymous 1967 debut is excellent, a freakbeat cult classic distinguished by Dougherty's emotive guitar and some innovative production techniques -- all the more impressive, the album was recorded in a single 12-hour stretch. Mainstream hated the end result, however, and dropped the Jelly Bean Bandits just as they were commencing work on the follow-up -- only one song, "Salesman," was completed before the sessions were aborted. The group dissolved soon after, only to reunite in 1998 to finally commit to tape the songs that were written for their never-completed sophomore LP -- only Donald declined to participate in the project, released in 2001 under the title Time and Again. A vintage live date captured at the Buccaneer on September 3, 1967.
by Jason Ankeny

1. Country Woman - 2:34
2. Generation - 3:00
3. Poor Precious Dreams - 2:05
4. Another August Revisited - 2:49
5. Going Nowhere - 2:37
6. Happiness Girl - 2:17
7. Good Time Feeling - 2:43
8. September Rain - 2:13
9. Neon River - 2:39
10.Plastic Soldiers - 3:01
11.Say Mann - 2:26
12.Tapestries - 2:28
All songs by Billy Donald, Fred Buck, Joe Scalfari, John Dougherty, Michael Raab

The Jelly Bean Bandits
*Billy Donald - Vocals
*Fred Buck - Bass
*Joe Scalfari - Drums
*John Dougherty - Lead Guitar
*Michael Raab - Organ

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Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Sounds Of Modification - Sounds Of Modification /A New Place to Live (1968/72 us, wonderful baroque sunny psych, 2014 korean remaster)

Baroque psych band, hailing from Long Island NY, recorded and released only this album in 1968 at Jubilee label. Beautiful harmonies and arragements from good musicians such as the drummer Mike Cavouto, guitarist Frank Porcelli, Bob Dorsa the bass player, brass section by Joe Cavalea, and Pete Maletta on keyboards.
They made several other recordings and release another album in 1972 under the name "A New Place to Live", slight different from the "Sounds Of Modification" album, a  concept piece seemingly based on American psychic Edgar Cayce and a bizarre mixture of ecological concerns, history, religion, social commentary, and probably way too many illicit substances.

1. Balloon Man - 3:03
2. I'm Gonna Buy A People - 2:30
3. What Is This In The Mist - 3:02
4. You (Barry Gibb) - 3:42
5. Try And Forget Me - 1:56
6. You Are Asking For The Key - 2:43
7. Tell Me - 3:01
8. Going To A Place Called Love - 2:30
9. I'm Painting A Picture - 2:30
10.Toreador - 4:53
All songs by Bob Gallo except track #4

Sounds Of Modification
*Joe Cavalea - Baritone Saxophone, Tuba, Trombone, Trumpet, Vocals
*Bob Dorsa - Bass Guitar, Vocals
*Mike Cavouto - Drums, Percussion
*Frank Porcelli - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Pete Maletta - Organ, Piano, Harpsichord
*Irving Spice - Strings

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Saturday, June 30, 2018

Marc Ellington ‎- Rains-Reins Of Changes (1971 uk, spectacular country folk rock, 2004 remaster)

In some ways, Marc Ellington's Rains/Reins of Change two-fer sounds like a late-'60s Fairport Convention album that doesn't happen to have members of Fairport Convention on vocals. In others, it sounds like a blend of Fairport Convention with late-'60s/early-'70s Californian country-rock; this is not as odd a stretch as it might appear, since there was some mutual admiration between players in those bands. The connections aren't at all coincidental, as several members of Fairport actually contribute to the record, with Richard Thompson playing electric guitar, Dave Mattacks handling some of the drums, Dave Pegg handling some of the bass, and Ian Matthews and Sandy Denny singing some backup vocals. 

Other guys from limbs of the Fairport family tree are here too (bassist Pat Donaldson, drummer Gerry Conway, and Trevor Lucas, all of whom played with Denny in Fotheringay), and the Californian country-rock flavor is made that much more authentic with contributions from Chris Hillman, Sneaky Pete, and Rick Roberts of the Flying Burrito Brothers. All of this makes the record necessary and desirable to major Fairport Convention fans, and to country-rock completists. What, though, of the music of Ellington himself -- who, after all, sings lead and writes or co-writes all of the original songs? He's an alright rootsy folk-rock songwriter, but to be a little unfair, you can't help wondering how much better some of these tracks would sound with Denny or Matthews on vocals. 

For Ellington's just an adequate singer, and though he's a somewhat better songwriter, perhaps his talents would have been better served had the Denny-Matthews lineup of Fairport managed to cover some of his better songs (had that short-lived lineup managed to continue in the first place). There's an agreeable reflective, at times Band-like tone to his compositions. But Denny in particular could have worked much better wonders with the darker and more melancholic tunes, like the title track and "Days Used to Be Warmer," the latter of which in particular has the kind of haunting minor-keyed chill associated with some of the best late-'60s/early-'70s British folk-rock. One of the two traditional songs here, "Yarrow" is another standout, with a melody and attitude reminiscent of (but not identical to) classics like "Scarborough Fair" and "John Riley." 
by Richie Unterberger

1. Oh No It Can't Be So - 3:02
2. On Your Own - 3:34
3. Saving Grace - 3:22
4. Song For A Friend - 3:05
5. Yarrow (Traditional) - 5:43
6. I'm Leaving (Karen Ellington, Marc Ellington) - 3:00
7. Rains-Reins Of Changes - 4:31
8. The Life You Love (Marc Ellington, Mike Deighan) - 4:15
9. Days Used To Be Warmer (Marc Ellington, Mike Deighan) - 5:03
10.Alligator Man (Traditional) - 2:20
11.All The Times - 2:57
12.Blue Suede Shoes (Carl Perkins) - 2:01
All songs by Marc Ellington except where stated

*Marc Ellington - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Highland Bagpipes
*Richard Thompson - Electric Guitar, Backing Vocals
*Mike Deighan - Acoustic Guitar, Banjo
*Sneaky Pete - Steel Guitar
*Gordon Huntley - Steel Guitar
*Karen Ellington - Banjo
*Chris Hillman - Mandolin, Backing Vocals
*Tony Cox - Piano
*Steve Rye - Harmonica, And Mick French, Fiddle
*Gerry Field - Fiddle
*Dave Pegg - Bass Guitar
*Dave Mattacks, Drums
*Pat Donaldson - Bass Guitar
*Gerry Conway - Drums
*Mark Griffiths - Bass Guitar
*And Ray Duffy - Drums
*Ian Matthews - Backing Vocals
*Sandy Denny - Backing Vocals
*Fritz Fryer - Backing Vocals
*Trevor Lucas - Backing Vocals
*Rick Roberts -  Backing Vocals
*U.S. Marine Corp. And Young Friends - Additional Vocals

1969  Marc Ellington - Marc Ellington (2009 korean remaster)

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Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The New Arrivals - Finally (1965-67 us, tremendous garage beat, 2002 remaster)

The New Arrivals band was formed in 1962 originally as The Preps from Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose California, the home of everyone from The Doobies to Smash Mouth. They started in a garage which was really converted into a family room and by the time 1963 rolled around they had produced a minor instumental hit in the West called PAM PAM distributed by Amy Mala. Then in 1964 they released Ray Peterson's NIGHT THEME on Dot Records and caught the ear of promoter Irving Granz who signed them as a back up band for the tour with the Beach Boys...after hearing them perform with them..our guys first real concert. Actually they opened for the first Beach Boys concert in the Bay Area and debuted their vocal act by singing 3 Beatle songs. As a stunt they wore Beatle wigs which Capitol Records had been giving out to radio stations such as the fabled KLIV promoting the Beatle Invasion. The crowd thought they WERE the Beatles and actually went semi crazy. The band was on its way to becoming a rock-solid vocal group as well as great instrumentalists. 

Over the next three years they toured or performed with notables such as Sonny and Cher, Glen Campbell, Paul Revere and The Raiders, The Dave Clark Five, The Beau Brummels, The Righteous Brothers, The Ventures, Jr. Walker and The Allstars, Cannibal and the Headhunters, The Paris Sisters, The Angels, Sam the Sham and the Pharohs, Noel Harrison, Dobie Gray, Timi Yuro, The We Five, The Surfaris, and on and on. Going back to Golden State Recorders they released MOONRACERS by Herb Alpert on Southbay Records in 1965. Then they changed their moniker to The New Arrivals since they had graduated from the fabled Bellarmine "prep" school by this time. In 1965 they released TAKE ME FOR WHAT I AM(which was not available for this CD but can be linked through Let's Bet With It baby on this site}) on Southbay and this marked their debut as a five voice vocal group with influences from many of the people and bands they toured with or accompanied. 

At this point they started doing national radio spots and TV commercials for corporations such as Macy's and Seven Up. In 1966 they toured and recorded SCRATCH YOUR NAME on Southbay Records written for them by Tom Talton of WeThe People. Then in early 1967 a big chance came when Mike Post and Reprise Records wanted to sign them. An album had just been completed and there was no stopping their fate. Except within days of the audition three of the five members were drafted. That was it. The band was in limbo. No, the band was disbanded.

During the 70's and 80's they were in and out of the studio trying to create a new sound but never a live performance group.In the late 80's they reunited to back Chuck Berry in what some reveiewers called the best rock 'n roll concerts of all time and played a few stints with The Coasters, Bobby Rydell, Martha and the Vandellas and San Jose's Syndicate of Sound. Until now this album has never been available or heard. In 1984 producer Dick Hanahoe gave the tapes to Tom Muller in hopes something might be done someday. This is the original 4 track mix that has been transfered to digital domain and only edited to make playable for CD. The reverbs, voices, guitars, vox organ and more are the real thing that Leo de gar Kulka engineered. It is as if time has given us the opportunity to listen in on another era with a fresh sound that perhaps will FINALLY be appreciated . 
by David Bash

1. Scratch Your Name (Tom Talton) - 2:57
2. Wake Me Shake Me (Billy Guy) - 2:42
3. Time Won't Let Me (Chet Kelley, Tom King) - 3:00
4. Funny Feeling (Rick Leachman, Tom Muller) - 2:45
5. When I Needed You (Tom Talton) - 2:27
6. Goldfinger (Gerd, Axel, Guenther) - 2:45
7. God Help The Teenager (S. W. Spampinato) - 2:11
8. Hey Little Girl (Andre Meschi, Tom Muller) - 1:52
9. Wrong Slant On Life (Rick Leachman, Tom Muller) - 2:42
10.Nazz Are Blue (Jeff Beck) - 2:45
11.Just Outside My Window (Laurie Vitt) - 2:32

The New Arrivals
*Andre Meschi - Drums, Vocals
*Larry Syres - Bass, Vocals
*Bill Smith - Lead Guitar
*Dick Robitaille - Marimba, Vocals, Percussion
*Rod Gibino - Vocals
*Tom Muller - Vocals, Keyboards
*Rick Leachman - All The Others

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Friday, June 22, 2018

Arlo Guthrie - Amigo (1976 us, outstanding folk rock, 2011 digipak remaster)

For his next album, Amigo, however, he stuck with L.A. session musicians. The disc contained more originals than usual, among them "Victor Jara," an account of the death of the Chilean singer/songwriter who was slaughtered in his country's CIA-backed military coup in 1973 that was later covered by Christy Moore, and "Patriot's Dream," which later served as a title song for an album by Jennifer Warnes. When Amigo was released in September 1976, it garnered strong reviews from rock critics because it rocked more than Guthrie's albums usually did, notably on a cover of the relatively unknown Rolling Stones song "Connection." But the positive notices did not help sales. That fall, Guthrie joined Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue for some shows, leading to an appearance in Dylan's film Renaldo and Clara, shot during the tour.

Another of the originals on Amigo was a song called "Darkest Hour," a poetic and personal statement by Guthrie, who was questioning his spiritual ideas at this time. In 1977, he formally converted to Roman Catholicism. - He later explored Hinduism and Buddhism, adopting a more ecumenical view of religion.
by William Ruhlmann

1. Guabi, Guabi - 2:30
2. Darkest Hour - 4:07
3. Massachusetts - 3:13
4. Victor Jara (Adrian Mitchell, Arlo Guthrie) - 4:20
5. Patriot's Dream - 2:55
6. Grocery Blues - 2:11
7. Walking Song (Leah Kunkel) - 3:10
8. My Love - 2:46
9. Manzanillo Bay (Rabbit MacKay) - 4:25
10.Ocean Crossing - 3:25
11.Connection (Mick Jagger, Keith Richards) - 2:41
All songs by Arlo Guthrie

*Arlo Guthrie - Vocals, Guitar
*Russ Kunkel - Drums
*Bob Blaub - Bass
*Waddy Wachtel - Guitar
*Jai Winding - Keyboards
*Gayle Levant - Harp
*Milt Holland - Percussion
*Rick Jeager - Drums
*Leah Kunkel - Electric Piano, Vocals
*Linda Ronstadt - Vocals
*James Taylor - Voiceorgan
*Nick DeCaro - Strings Arragements
*Bill Green - Guitar

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)
1974  Arlo Guthrie - Arlo Guthrie (2005 digipak remaster)

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Monday, June 18, 2018

Tim Buckley - Look At The Fool (1974 us, fascinating soulful groovy rock, 2017 remaster)

Look At The Fool, the ninth and final studio album to be released by Tim Buckley in his lifetime (the album was released in November 1974, and Buckley was to die from a drug overdose on June 29th, 1975, aged only twenty-eight), is seen by some as the last in a trio of'sex-funk' releases. He'd begun this trilogy with Greetings From LA in 1972, his first album release in a couple of years, after the formless Starsailor in 1970. He followed Greetings with Sefronia (also available on Edsel Records), and the last album in his deal with Disc Reet, the label owned by his manager, Herb Cohen, was this - Look At The Fool. Greetings had seen Buckley abandon the allusive poetry and otherworldly ambience of his late sixties albums such as Lorca and Starsailor in favour of a far more direct - explicit, in fact - celebration of sexuality and carnal desire. Musically, he'd also embraced rhythm and blues and funk. Sefronia, his penultimate album, had broadly followed similar lines, but contained more outside material than he had ever entertained before. Look At The Fool would correct this by being entirely self-penned, apart from two songs co-written with his school friend Larry Beckett, with whom he had collaborated often over the years.

Apparently, Buckley had originally wanted to call the album An American Souvenir, seemingly informed in part by Van Dyke Parks' 'Discover America'. In the end though, the actual title perhaps says something more about Buckley's mental state - having to cope with a debilitating drinking problem, and his downward record sales spiral. Opening with the title track, Buckley delivers a stratospheric, tortured vocal that is eerily reminiscent to that of the last great Southern Soul star, Al Green (who was then at a real commercial peak, having crossed over from the rhythm and blues charts into mainstream international pop success). By any standards, 'Look At The Fool' is a remarkable performance. 

A few years of hard drinking and sometime substance abuse may have robbed Buckley's vocal pipes of their youthful 'innocent' quality, but his four-octave vocal range was intact, and Buckley certainly pulls out the melismatic stops here. The arrangement is similarly ambitious, morphing through rolling funk to the tension and release of the breakdown. Whereas I can see where Buckley diehards would say that "it ain't 'Buzzin’ Fly'", it is, nonetheless, as ambitious and full-blooded as anything Buckley had cut in his career. 'Bring ft On Up' is gutsy funk, and again, Buckley artfully shuffles his vocal personae, from urgent falsetto to funk grits ‘n’ gravy.

The coda, which has Buckley referring to "belly to belly", revisits some of the overt sexual themes of Greetings From LA. 'Helpless' is more groove than song, but it's a solid groove, and delivered with commitment. 'Freeway Blues'  is another teak-tough outing, based on an insistent clavinet motif with tart guitar stabs, and Buckley staying in one vocal persona for the song (both 'Freeway Blues' and its successor, 'Tijuana Moon' are Buckley co-writes with Larry Beckett). 

Without wishing to worry any particular bone, what is SO wrong with Buckley here? He doesn't dial in a vocal, he sounds like he's enjoying the process - the lyrics certainly aren't folk poetry, but are certainly more reflective of the times they were written in - the album has worn considerably better than most critics would have you think. 'Tijuana Moon' is slight, but fits in with the Mexicali themes that crop up elsewhere. Buckley is onto something here though, rightly alluding to the odd ambience of border towns, the sense of unease and a space where cultures collide, where things get mixed and messed up. In its way, Look At The Fool inhabits borders – where the sacred collides with the profane (a conflict that informed the careers of great black R’n’B performers, from Jackie Wilson through to Al Green and Marvin Gaye, of course), the escape into no-strings sexual encounters and the need for love, and the breaking of musical borders - it's all in here, if you listen carefully.

'Ain't It Peculiar' partially purloins the title of a Marvin Gaye hit, but its lissom, loping funk is of Buckley's own invention. 'Who Could Deny You' opens in mellifluous style, Buckley's soulful upper register voice floating over the vibes and guitar track with a featherweight glide. He rings the arrangement changes, and proceeds to deliver an at times staggeringly 10 impressive, coruscating vocal, alternating between grit and grace with remarkable agility. 'Mexicali Voodoo' features a Steely Dan type guitar and keyboard dual riff- more groove than song again, but once more the groove is great. 'Down In The Street' is a lyrical departure for Buckley - more social observance than anything else, but the track has a real urgency and punch. Closing proceedings is the amusing 'Louie Louie' retread, 'Wanda Lu, a jokey sign-off that adds a little musical humour into the Look At The Fool mix that is welcome lighter relief, sounding like a Tijuana garage band.

One of the other undoubted plus points of Look At The Fool is the stellar crew of backing musicians listed in the credits. Produced by Joe Falsia. who had by then pretty much adopted the role of manager and minder to Buckley, and a fine job of marshalling the musical elements he does, too. Included in the personnel are Mike Melvoin (keyboards), and Chris Coleman (percussion), who, in addition to their being seasoned session players, are also the fathers of Wendy (Melvoin) and Lisa (Coleman), for many years the mainstays of Prince's band, as well as being recording artists in their own right. 

Drummer Earl Palmer had played on most of Little Richard's hits, as well as on Randy Newman recordings, Beach Boys records, and scores of others, including Little Feat, Elvis Costello and Tom Waits. Speaking of Waits, bassist Jim Hughart was a member of Waits' band at this time, and another bassist featured here, Chuck Rainey, played with Steely Dan, Quincy Jones, Aretha Franklin and Joe Walsh in a lengthy career resume. As important as all of the backing crew is the presence of guitarist Lee Underwood back in Buckley's fold, after an enforced absence dealing with his own personal demons. In the end, though, the jig was up for Buckley, for the time being at least. 

The album was released to little fanfare and some critical kicking on its November 1974 release. Buckley hated the cover painting, in which he wears a somewhat defeated expression, and by the end of the year, he had severed his managerial ties with Herb Cohen and DiscReet. On the website, there is reproduced a four-part Buckley retrospective penned by the journalist Max Bell for the New Musical Express in 1979. The fine article ends with a couple of revealing Buckley interview quotes - referring directly to this album, but they tantalizingly point the way in which Buckley's career could have moved had he not died so tragically young: "An instrumentalist can be understood doing just about anything, but people are really geared to something coming out of the mouth being words. I use my voice as an instrument when I'm performing live. I figure if I can do it, why not stick with it? The most shocking thing I've ever seen people come up against, besides a performer taking off his clothes, is dealing with someone who doesn't sing words.

This kind of thing also figures into An American Souvenir' because I get off on great sounding words. If I had my way, words wouldn't mean a thing, but the rules are different for a single singer than a band - they can get away with it because their life expectancy is only two years, "If I haven't done it and I'm capable or old enough and ready, I'll do it while keeping an eye on communication and not necessarily trends and fads. If I thought a whole album of Hank Williams songs was right, I'd do it even if burlesque was the style. Miles Davis went for 15 years without really selling a lot of albums, but his company kept putting them out because there is only one Miles Davis. Now I'm not equating myself with him, but there isn't anybody who can sing or write like me, and if I wasn't allowed to record, then recording wouldn't be valid."

In the forty years since Buckley's passing, his music has been re-discovered and reappraised; for a brief while, Buckley's long-estranged son Jeff Buckley looked to be the true inheritor of his father's musical mantle, possessed of an equally staggering vocal and emotive range, but died in a drowning accident in the Mississippi river on May 29th 1997. Look At The Fool may not be the favourite album of many Buckley fans, but to me, it has worn very well down the years. Time to give it another chance, I reckon.
by Alan Robinson, July 2017

1. Look At The Fool - 5:12
2. Bring It On Up - 3:28
3. Helpless - 3:20
4. Freeway Blues - 3:13
5. Tijuana Moon - 2:43
6. Ain't It Peculiar - 3:37
7. Who Could Deny You - 4:24
8. Mexicali Voodoo - 2:26
9. Down In The Street - 3:22
10.Wanda Lou - 2:38
All songs by Tim Buckley except tracks 4-5 co-written with Larry Beckett

*Tim Buckley - Guitar, Vocals
*Lee Underwood - Guitar, Keyboards
*Venetta Fields - Backing Vocals
*Clydie King - Backing Vocals
*Sherlie Matthews - Backing Vocals
*Joe Falsia - Bass Guitar, Guitar, Arranger, Producer
*Jim Fielder - Bass Guitar
*Jim Hughart - Bass Guitar
*Chuck Rainey - Bass Guitar
*Jesse Ehrlich - Cello
*David Bluefield - Clavinet On "Freeway Blues"
*Mike Melvoin - Organ, Piano, Moog Synthesizer
*Mark Tiernan - Electric Piano
*Terry Harrington - Horn, Saxophone
*Richard Nash - Horn
*William Peterson - Horn
*John Rotella  - Horn
*Anthony Terran - Horn
*King Errisson - Congas
*Gary Coleman - Percussion
*Earl Palmer - Drums

1966  Tim Buckley - Tim Buckley (Part 1 of 2017 eight cds box set)
1967  Tim Buckley - Goodbye And Hello  (Part 2 of 2017 eight cds box set) 
1969  Tim Buckley - Happy Sad (Part 3 of 2017 eight cds box set)
1969  Tim Buckley - Blue Afternoon (Part 4 of the 2017 eight cds box set)
1970  Tim Buckley - Lorca (Part 5 of the 2017 eight cds box set)
1970  Tim Buckley - Starsailor (Part 6 of the 2017 eight cds box set)
1972  Tim Buckley - Greetings From L.A. (Part 7 of the 2017 eight cds box set)
1967-69  Tim Buckley - Works In Progress (Part 8 of the 2017 eight cds box set)
1973  Tim Buckley - Sefronia (2017 remaster) 

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Thursday, June 14, 2018

Marc Ellington - Marc Ellington (1969 uk, brilliant acid folk rock, 2009 korean remaster)

Marc Ellington is a Scottish folksinger and multi-instrumentalist who has guested with Fairport Convention on the latter group's recordings, starting with providing some vocal support on the Unhalfbricking album in 1969. Additionally, he worked with Matthews Southern Comfort on their self-titled 1969 LP, playing percussion, and recorded his debut album that same year, which featured his singing, guitar work, and bagpipes.

Marc Ellington's debut album on Philips in 1969, is a great combination of various famous folk numbers and traditional songs such as Bob Dylan, John Martyn, Al Stewart, Phil Ochs, Tim Hardin among others.

1. In Brooklyn (Al Stewart) - 4:17
2. Fairy Tale Lullaby (John Martyn) - 2:20
3. Reason To Believe (Tim Hardin) - 2:36
4. Caledonian Mission (Robbie Robertson) - 3:09
5. Fair And Tender Ladies (Traditional) - 3:32
6. Changes (Phil Ochs) - 2:26
7. Tears Of Rage (Bob Dylan) - 4:10
8. Four In The Morning (C. Raneily) - 3:06
9. Will The Circle Be Unbroken (Traditional) - 2:09
10.I Shall Be Released (Bob Dylan) - 3:03
11.Bless The Executioner (Peter Daltrey, Eddie Pumer) - 2:38
12.Love City (Noel Paul Stookey) - 3:52
13.Desolation Row (Bob Dylan) - 10:15
14.Nanna's Song (Ralph McTell) - 2:10

*Marc Ellington - Bagpipes, Guitar, Vocals
*Karen Ellington - Vocals
*Mark Griffiths - Guitar
*Gordon Huntley - Bass
*Simon Nicol - Guitar
*Reg Powell - Piano, Harpsichord
*Roger Swallow - Drums
*Richard Thompson - Guitar
*Dave Jenkins - Guitar
*Alan Greed - Organ
*Steve Miller - Bass
*Big Jim Sullivan - Guitar
*Dougie Wright - Drums
*Roger Coulam - Piano, Organ
*Clive Hicks - Guitar

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