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

your pass in heaven is xara.

Plain and Fancy

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

Nikos Kazantzakis

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Beau Brummels - Live (1974 us, marvelous folk psych country rock)

In 1965, American rock and roll music was swept up in the British Invasion. But, in Northern California, fans had there own "British" band. The Beau Brummels, like the Byrds and others, were a vital part of a new music explosion. All jangly guitars and tight harmonies, they had the sound. They also had the look. And, the name? Well, it sounded like a bunch of English dandies! The Beau Brummels took America by storm in 1965, leaping onto the charts with "Laugh Laugh", following in May with "Just A Little/ Still In Love With You Baby", and ending the summer with "You Tell Me Why". While the hits were breaking nationwide, the band's managers and record label owners, DJ's "Big Daddy" Tom Donahue and Bobby Mitchell, kept the group hidden in San Francisco area clubs until "the time was right for touring".

Finally let loose to play their first concert, the Beau Brummels were headliners at the Memorial Auditorium in nearby Sacramento. With Gary Lewis And The Playboys as support, they played in front of 4000 screaming fans! From 1965 through 1968, the Beau Brummels created a string of memorable Top-40 hits. They released a half-dozen albums, including one recognized classic, "Triangle" in 1967. The band are considered folk-rock pioneers and are credited with helping to introduce country-Rock with "Bradley's Barn" in 1968.  The Beau Brummels earned the respect and support of fans worldwide who remember something special when they hear the heartfelt soul in Sal Valentino's voice-the reverberation of Ron Elliott's and Dec Mulligan's guitars and Dec's wailing harmonica-all carried along by Ron Meagher's bass and John Peterson's drums. Ultimately, the band ceased to exist.  

In 1974, Elliott sparked a reunion of the Beau Brummels. He showed up at Sal's house with new material, a record deal in the works, and a desire to recapture the magic. But, it had to be with all the original guys! Sal Valentino explained it this way to DIG records: "Ron Elliott had a bunch of songs that sounded like he had been a staff writer trying to write stuff that would fit different artists. Ron Meagher had a couple songs. Declan wrote a song or two. One thing decided early on by Elliott was that I was going to do (all) the singing...not like before.

The group came to Sacramento to woodshed, to work on the songs. They returned to the city that had always received them warmly. Before recording any new material, they would test the waters with a week-long engagement at the intimate Shire Road Pub in nearby Fair Oaks Village. The Beau Brummels would play music for old friends and for the curious over a four night stand, two shows each night. With Sal's opening acoustic set, and Stoneground lady Lydia Moreno's offering, the shows ran nearly 3 hours. Crowds were lined up around the block—the Beau Brummels were back! The band performed the chart hits with a fresh infusion of joy and celebration. But, there was something else. From the bossa nova beat of "City Girl", to the funk-driven "Man And Woman Kind" and the rocking "Lisa", new musical territory was being staked out. 

1975 saw the Warner Brothers album "Beau Brummels" released to critical acclaim but poor sales. The band had not remained intact. Ron Meagher left before the LP was finished. Some live label-sponsored showcases were scheduled, but it just wasn't the same. 

People have said that the magic that justified the reunion was left on that tiny stage in Fair Oaks. What survived was this recording. It's the only stage performance of the original Beau Brummels. And, the song list features 10 compositions that have never been released.  

DIG records asked Sal Valentino to comment on some of the songs that Beau Brummels fans have not heard before. We share his thoughts and impressions with you: "Lonely People" ...That was a Ron Meagher song. "Music Speaks Louder Than Words" a strange song. It was one of those songs Elliott wrote when he was some kind of staff writer.

"Lisa" a Declan Mulligan song. It's got that kind of driving beat that Declan liked. With Elliott, everything we were doing was meticulous and plotted out. Whereas "Lisa" is just "let's get it on". We all seemed to like doing it. "Man And Woman Kind" ...We had fun doing this one because it's the kind of thing we (normally) wouldn't do. 

"Her Dream Alley" ...A little country, a little jug band-ish. "City Girl" ...This song I love. I really do. It's about his (Elliott's) wife, I think. You have to remember, this is the kind of singer I am. Basically, this is what I could do. Almost folky. Maybe a little jazzy. You know, not quite. But, that FM kind of song. Sal also commented on two songs from the Warner Brothers album: "Singing Cowboy" ...was inspired by Gene Autry

"Tennessee Walker" ...When Elliott came to me and played this song, I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe I knew someone who wrote this song. It made me think of Hoagy Carmichael and Johnny Mercer. I knew Elliott was capable of that. That was part of his musical background. When I met him, he was around 14 or 15 and he was writing musicals. It was impressive. Upon hearing Beau Brummels Live all the way through, DIG asked Sal what he thought: "That sounds pretty good!" Come, join us for a set at the Pub.
by Jeff Hughson, January, 1999

1. Nine Pound Hammer (Merle Travis) - 3:52
2. You Tell Me Why (Ron Elliott) - 3:34
3. Turn Around/Singing Cowboy (Ron Elliott, Ruth Durand) - 8:01
4. Gate of Hearts (Ron Elliott) - 3:18
5. Lonely People (Ron Meagher) - 4:19
6. Music Speaks Louder (Ron Elliott) - 2:49
7. Lisa (Declan Mulligan) - 3:01
8. Tennessee Walker (Ron Elliott) - 4:34
9. Don't Talk to Strangers (Ron Elliott, Ruth Durand) - 2:21
10.Laugh, Laugh (Ron Elliott) - 3:15
11.Lonesome Town (Ron Elliott) - 3:09
12.Free (Ron Elliott, Brian Engle) - 3:45
13.Man And Woman Kind (Ron Elliott, Brian Engle) - 4:50
14.Restless Soul (Ron Elliott) - 3:29
15.Her Dream Alley (Ron Elliott) - 2:34
16.City Girl (Ron Elliott, Brian Engle) - 3:29
17.Paper Plane (Ron Elliott) - 2:59
18.Just a Little (Ron Elliott, Ruth Durand) - 2:51
19.Love Can Fall (Ron Elliott, Ruth Durand) - 4:47

The Beau Brummels
*Sal Valentino - Vocals
*Ron Meagher - Bass, Guitar, Vocals
*Declan Mulligan - Guitar, Harmonica, Vocals
*John Petersen - Drums
*Ron Elliott - Guitar, Vocals

1964-66  Beau Brummels - Autumn Of Their Years
1965  Introducing The Beau Brummels (Sundazed edition)
1966  Beau Brummels' 66 (Japan edition)
1967  Triangle
1969  Bradley's Barn
1975  Beau Brummels
Related Act
1970  Ron Elliott - The Candlestickmaker

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Tobias Wood Henderson - Blue Stone (1968 us, superb funky soul blues rock, 2009 korean remaster)

I was actually born in New Iberia, Louisiana. To be exact, I was born on Avery Island in the middle of the Bayou Teche in a lying in hospital which was part of the WL Mclllhenny plantation. Momma had taken the train to Florida to meet daddy when his ship arrived in Charleston harbor. They started back to Texas so the child (me) could be born in Texas and only got so far due to the interference of a hurricane. So it was that I was born at 12:01 AM on the 26th day of August, 1945 dead in the middle of a hurricane. For the next three days I had no name because I was going to be a Texan. Finally, on the 29th of August my mom and dad arrived in Victoria, Texas and my birth certificate says I was born in Victoria Hospital, Victoria, Texas (same date, August 26'th, just different venue.

I was a sickly child and suffered terribly from asthma and was not expected to live. To occupy the endless hours spent in an oxygen tent, my dad built me a crystal radio and one night (when I was about 4 years old) I discovered WLAC in Nashville, Tennessee and I heard the blues. As I recall, the first thing I heard was a serious sermon by the Reverend CL Franklin (Aretha Franklin's dad) from his church in Chicago, Illinois. The next thing I heard was Sonny Boy Williamson and then I heard Robert Johnson playing "Hellhounds On My Trail" I already had a violin but now I was torn between the harmonica and the guitar.

Lucky for me, one of my uncles went to Hawaii on vacation and brought back a slack-key guitar and made me a gift of it. The harmonicas had the approval of my doctor because I had to breathe deeply to play them. About this time I discovered singing. When I reached the age of 10, my father had my disabilities of minority removed. Except for the purchase of liquor, this made me a legal adult and I took my guitar and left home shortly thereafter. I went to New Orleans and played in the lobby of a whore house. I made tips from the music and worked as a towel boy in that house until I went back to Texas when I was 14. 

Shortly after returning, I founded "Tobias and The Sounds" and this band, which grew from 4 members up to 14 players over the next few years was one of the most successful Blues and Rhythm ‘n’ Blues bands around the state of Texas. Unfortunately, my success was not I welcomed in the White community as I played  I with an all-Black band and very often played for a large and devoted Black audience.

My parents were insulted in the street and I was often shot at by the local "whites only" folks. In 1961 I had a hit record and received an award from the Negro Disk Jockeys of America (of which BB King was a member from Memphis). When I arrived to pick up my award, they refused to give it to me because I was white. They were afraid of racist backlash. I wish I could say that today the world has changed but it has not changed all that much. In 1962, I entered the US Army which was which was the occasion of my first trip to Korea. I was deeply impressed by the culture, the people, and the food. 

When I was released, I ventured from Texas to Hollywood end met my old friend Dr. John The Night Tripper and his partner Harold Battiste, Jr. and that association led to the album called "Tobias Wood Henderson-Blue Stone". Unfortunately, Pulsar Records was a division of Mercury Records and at that time, the record business including distribution was very much under the aegis of organised crime. The album got great reviews and (4) singles were pulled from it and at the end. Mercury owed me something in the neighbourhood of $800,000.00 in royalties and publishing. I never got a dime of that money. We sued, we won and then getting any payment was like nailing jelly to a tree. Finally gave up and went back to Texas and worked in the oil field and played music on the week ends.

It was nearly 30 years until I recorded again. Meanwhile, I have been (and lived) all over the world playing and singing the Blues and I still can play and sing them.
by Tobias Wood Henderson 5/23/2009

1. Color Blind Man - 4:08
2. Turn Me Loose - 2:42
3. Be A Fool - 2:47
4. The Price Of Love - 2:45
5. Gypsy Boy I - 2:48
6. Child Of Darkness - 3:02
7. Woman Of The World - 3:18
8. Big Brothers Message - 2:42
9. Why Can't You Do Right - 2:43
10. Gypsy Boy II - 3:44
All compositions by Tobias Wood Henderson

*Tobias Wood Henderson - Vocals, Guitar

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Chris Spedding - Chris Spedding (1975-77 uk, splendid guitar pub rock, audiophile 2013 issue)

Though this eponymous masterpiece was not Chris Spedding's first solo album, it was the first to impact on the record buying public at large. Spiralling out of his so-memorable hit "Motorbiking," it established the leather-clad, quiff-topped Spedding as the first guitar-hero pin-up of the punk era, a full year before even punk's progenitors had heard of the term. Certainly great swathes of what eventually emerged amid the British new wave was bodily borrowed from Spedding, both visually and, with a few fashionable refinements, visually. 

Chris Spedding sounds like its maker looked: tight, mean, and taking no trash from no-one. The future anthem "Guitar Jamboree" could easily have been replayed with switchblades, while his take on Chuck Berry's "School Days" has a lot more in mind than class work and gym. Electrifying, too, are "Jump in My Car" and "Bedsit Girl." Economically riff-driven guitar pop was nothing new, of course, but rarely had it been executed with such a glowering swagger. Short, sharp and never less than brittle, Chris Spedding has few of the frills that Spedding so adeptly draped over other people's records, few of the twists and turns that distinguished his work with Sharks or later, alone. But, if ever anyone figures out how to fit a CD player into a motorcycle helmet, this should be the first album anybody buys to play on it. 
by Dave Thompson

1. New Girl In The Neighbourhood - 2:31
2. School Days (Chuck Berry) - 2:27
3. Sweet Disposition - 2:17
4. Bedsit Girl - 2:04
5. Guitar Jamboree - 4:20
6. Jump In My Car (Ted Mulry) - 3:24
7. Hungry Man - 3:18
8. Motorbikin' - 2:40
9. Catch That Train - 2:41
10.Nervous - 2:14
11.Boogie City - 2:38
12.Working For The Union - 2:53
13.Running Round - 2:38
14.Truck Drivin' Man - 3:13
All songs by Chris Spedding except where indicated

*Chris Spedding - Guitar, Vocals
*Brian Bennett - Drums
*Tony Burrows - Vocals
*Tony Carr - Drums
*Dave Cochran - Bass
*Sue Glover - Vocals
*Les Hurdle - Bass
*Neil Lancaster - Vocals
*Sunny Leslie - Vocals
*Charles Mills - Vocals
*Barry Morgan - Drums

1972  Chris Spedding - The Only Lick I Know
1977  Chris Spedding - Hurt

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Black Hippies - The Black Hippies (1977 nigeria, terrific hard fuzzy funk psych afro rock)

Black Hippies were a Nigerian rock band in the mid-'70s led by songwriter Joseph Etinagbedia (aka Pazy). In their earliest incarnations, the band played a distinct style of harder rock, one that bore many of the trademarks of Nigerian music, from the raw, visceral vocal style to the psychedelic funk that touches every corner of the songs. This first, self-titled album was recorded in 1976 by producer Odion Iruoje and features five of the band's tunes from their earliest days, finding funky pre-disco rhythms playfully co-existing with light-headed fuzz guitar in Pazy's celebratory, somewhat psychedelic tunes. The band would shift gears with subsequent releases, going more in the direction of reggae than hard rock, but these five songs represent the band at an inspired beginning point where their take on hard rock was something truly unique. 
by Fred Thomas

1. Doing It In The Street - 5:12
2. I Have The Love On You - 5:44
3. Love (Sonny Orovie) - 4:11
4. The World Is Great - 9:05
5. You Are My Witness – 8:40
All songs by Edire Etinagbedia except where noted

*Joseph Etinagbedia - Vocals, Guitar

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Ken Lauber - Contemplation View (1970 us, awesome folk country, classic rock, 2009 korean remaster)

At 13, I received a dozen or so lessons as a surprise birthday gift and a few weeks later, found myself on West 54th Street between 7th and 8th Avenue, New York City. I was about to take my first drum lesson with two of the greatest drummers in American Syncopated Music history: Gene Krupa and Cozy Cole Walking through the door for the first lesson Cozy Cole said: "The more you study the more you find out what you don't know: but the more you study, the closer you come". Early piano lessons proved to be the catalyst for improvisation at the keyboard, and the drums added an exciting perspective to the music I most loved.

The earliest musically memories came from my Mother and Father When the music of Benny Goodman. Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra and the Dorsey's. Chick Webb. Duke Ellington and many other popular big bands of their era, came over the radio and into our home my parents would often, spontaneously, begin to dance. Their laughter filled our home with joy, as they moved to the quick, fluid tempos, and rhythms bouncing out of the radio. Watching them, a nervous, unconscious fingertapping twitch developed into a habit, whenever I heard their music. Transferring the tapping, to a beat up set of drums and playing along with Benny Goodman's, 'Sing, Sing, Sing', I learned Gene Krupa's famous drum solo and that kicked me into a fantasy of having my own band and hitting the road at ten years of age.

The lessons with Krupa and Cole took place in a room filled with cigarette smoke so thick you could not see out the window that looked down on 54th street from the second floor. A floating smell of Four Roses Whiskey, added a relaxed atmospheric dimension. There were three brand new Slingerland drum sets lined up next to each other. "Come sit down at the set in the middle..." Cozy said smiling his famous smile. I sat down, sticks in hand, and everything disappeared except for the rhythm being past between us First Gene would play something, on his hi-hat cymbal that was easy for me to follow and Cozy would do the same. This would go on, back and forth, for an hour. Often I dropped my sticks to the floor, while Cozy and Gene kept playing. They always enjoyed themselves and I learned quickly. They suggested to keep an extra pair of sticks wedged into one of the many chrome, tuning keys around the bass drum. That way, when I dropped a stick, I could grab a needed stick without losing a beat. "It happens to all of us," Gene laughed, puffing away on a Chesterfield.

After more than a dozen lessons. I played and read drum music with a reasonable degree of accuracy for a novice. Songwriting was still a few years away. Drums were my obsession. I organized a local big band comprising of musicians between the ages of thirteen to eighteen. We played in school programs and at special events making ourselves a few bucks My drum set was set up right square in the middle of the band and up on a riser, just like Gene Krupa's set up when he played with Benny Goodman. The arrangements were the same tunes I had heard coming over the radio in our living room a few years before and those lessons, added a new rhythm to my body. That rhythmical energy continues to run through my musical self-expression to this day.

A few years latter, at 16, I became the musical director of the great Frank Loesser show. 'Guys and Dolls', presented by a small community theater A woman in the chorus said she knew Stanley Mills of the well known. Mills Music Publishing family Mills was located in the famous Brill building at 50th and Broadway, where Elvis Presley and Irving Berlin had offices. She asked me to write some music to one of her lyrics and if came out okay, she would get us an appointment to play it for Mills. In the same living room where my folks enjoyed dancing. I sat at our small piano, and we wrote the song. Mr Mills liked it enough and gave us an advance.

I began writing more and more songs and started studying percussion and mallet instruments at the extension division of the Juilliard School of Music. My teachers were Saul Goodman, the New York Philharmonic famed timpanist, and another New York Philharmonic member of the percussion section and master teacher, Morris Goldenberg. Latter. I entered The Juilliard School as a full time student and studied both percussion and music composition. To this day, I have not been as musically challenged as I was at The Juilliard School.

By the time I turned, 21, I found a job at United Artists Music Company. They needed someone to produce demo recordings of film theme music At U.A., the head of the a’n’r department was Don Costa and he took a liking to me and tutored me in arranging, orchestration and record production While working for U.A., I wrote songs and produced instrumental film theme single records as artist under my own name.

While still working for U.A., I met Alex Matter, a 22-year-old film director who was shooting his first film, an independent effort entitled, "The Drifter." Matter listened to some of my music and commissioned me to compose and orchestrate the score to his feature film, "The Drifter". Prior to that, my film composition experience added up to one credit. I had composed orchestrated and conducted a 'Piano Concerto' for the "World of Henri Orient," staring Peter Sellers and performed on screen by many members of the New York
Philharmonic Orchestra.

I wrote, Contemplation (View), in my home up on Upper Byrdcliffe Mountain. In an unheated back room, a few dozen or so songs spilled out during the cold winter 1967. A subtle friendship began with Bob Dylan, who was also lived up on Byrdcliffe and was a neighbour. Bob was gracious enough, as often he is with other musicians, to invite me over to his home one day to listen to a test pressing of his new album, "Nashville Skyline." I loved it almost immediately We listened to all the tracks in silence. After, he asked me what I thought of it and I replied instantly, without thinking. "I like the spirit of it." Days later, I played him some of my new songs and he said I should go down to Nashville and record down there with some of the same musicians that played on "Nashville Skyline" and before that on the "John Wesley Harding," album.  He spoke with authority and enthusiasm about how the Nashville musicians picked things up quickly and how their respect for lyrics, allowed the personality of the song to emerge clearly. 

Good timing cannot be denied. At the same time, a friend, who liked my songs, introduced me to the head of the newly formed American record company, Polydor Records. I played him the new songs I had written and told him I wanted to record in Nashville. He liked the songs and the concept of recording them in Nashville and offered record contract. The record was recorded and mixed, at Wayne Moss's eight track garage studio, Cinderella Sound, in Madison Tennessee, with Gene Echelberger and Eliot Mazur as engineer and producer. Gene built Cinderella Sound with and for, the highly regarded and super talented guitarist and bass player supreme, Wayne Moss. The space was formerly a two car garage behind his Aunt Lucy's house. The line up of musicians was the following: the great Kenny Butrey on drums. The man of all instruments, Charlie McCoy on blues harp, bass and organ, the  brilliantly melodic Weldon Myric. on pedal steel; a strong lead guitar soloist, Mac Gaydon, on electric guitar and the versatile and easy going Pete Wade on all the acoustic guitars.

We recorded the album in a week My piano playing was enough to set the syncopated, 'feel' I wanted and I was so thrilled and overwhelmed with the musicianship of these pickers, I unconsciously allowed plenty of room for their spontaneous licks There was little talk, and much laughter. I don't remember what we were laughing at but  it kept things loose and most of all, great fun These musicians were the 'A' team, all right, and by the time I arrived in Nashville, to record Contemplation (View), they had amassed many credits, backing the great country and pop stars on classic country and pop hits. They were technically flawless and never failed to come up with strong melodic ideas for the intros, turnarounds and fade outs. The music magically unfolded as if it had been written in advance. They always knew what to do where and always just at the right time.

The most startling revelation as the sessions rolled on, was that the drummer, Kenny Butrey, actually created the arrangements on the spot, dictating who played the intro, who would take the solo and when I know this has not been duplicated in the studios very often, since Butrey's untimely passing and I don't believe it will be repeated by a drummer quite like that again. Returning to NYC with the new album mixed and presenting it to Polydor, I experienced a reaction that was completely unpredictable. When the last song  ended the president of the label. Gerry Shoenberg, started yelling: "What the hell did you go down to Nashville for?" You were supposed to make a 'jazz' album not a country album." What am I gonna do with this, now? Get outta here!" The style of music most definitely cannot be categorized in anyway as a 'jazz' album, and to this day it is for sure not a country album.

Polydor released the album reluctantly, and received positive reviews and many press comparisons to its sound as 'dylanesque.' which was and of course still is, just fine with me. The label executives were right. In retrospect, these songs were not typical pop or country songs and I think we were much 'jazzier' in our 'swing' feel. Call it what you want, I don't mind being referred to as a 'jazz-er' or 'Dylanesque' Either way that is just fine with me.
by Ken Lauber

1. When I Awake - 2:55
2. Undertow - 4:13
3. An Understanding Survey - 3:05
4. Wander On - 2:15
5. Far I Will Travel - 3:18
6. Without Recollection -  3:06
7. Disabled Veteran - 3:49
8. Goodbye To You Sweet Sue - 3:21
9. Mama, It's Such A Long Ride Home - 3:42
10.Rainy Day Sunday - 2:42
All compositions by Ken Lauber

*Ken Lauber - Vocals, Piano
*Wayne Moss - Guitars, Bass
*Kenny Butrey - Drums
*Charlie McCoy - Harp, Bass, Organ
*Weldon Myrick - Pedal Steel Guitar
*Mac Gaydon - Electric Guitar
*Pete Wade - Acoustic Guitar

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Genesis - In The Beginning (1968 us, sensational psych rock, 2012 edition)

In The Beginning is a decent enough acid rock album very clearly born from LA in the late '60s. Much more fascinating than the music on the album is the list of acts in which members of Genesis had previously performed. In The Beginning comes at the end of a garage-psych tradition, but is entirely in keeping with the latter-day sound of the '60s. The album doesn't quite hold up as well as some of its more raw and aggro antecedents.

Tracing the genesis of Genesis starts to feel like a stateside equivalent of trying to figure out the band genealogy of Hawkwind. That is to say, the deeper you, the more you wonder if there was a band on the West Coast which they weren't somehow connected with. Genesis frontman Jack Ttana played in Sons of Adam, another biblically named act, most famous for performing the Arthur Lee-written and oft' compiled nugget "Feathered Fish." "Feathered Fish" is a classic slice of garage-psych; cryptic, synaesthetic lyrics, hugely soaring vocal harmonies, and a Paul Revere-with-the-fuzz-cranked-way-up riff, this track would be considered "freakbeat" if it came from Europe (in fact, people probably call it freakbeat anyway). 

The other guitarist of Sons of Adam, Randy Holden, went on to play in The Other Half (of "Mr. Pharmacist" fame) before finally landing in the 1968 lineup of Blue Cheer. Post-Genesis, second guitarist Kent Henry went on play in Steppenwolf. There are doubtlessly plenty of other highly interesting ties to the LA garage and incipient hippie-metal scenes to be found in Genesis' past, too. Music-wise, In The Beginning hints at a proto-metallic bent with some heavier-edged riffs, but opts for melody rather than the sloppy ferocity of its heavier contemporaries.

In The Beginning opens with "Angeline," one of the album's heavier tracks, which features churning riffs and wailing solos as a backdrop for male-female harmonies. Less aggressive songs like "Suzanne" recall the softly sung, sometimes spooky and sentimental harmonies of The Mamas and The Papas, and the lyrics pretty much run the gamut of standard flower child imagery. 

The blues-tinged "What's It All About?" and the 16-minute "Girl Who Never Was" are where the album hits its stride, resembling Cream, or pretty much any band doing a heavy take on the blues. It wouldn't be out of place to draw a musical comparison to a more jam-centric Led Zeppelin at points. This makes perfect sense; if you doubt the influence of the West Coast psych scene on really early British metal, listen to Spirit's “Taurus,” then the intro to “Stairway to Heaven,” and watch your classic rockin', Jimmy Page-idolizin' world unravel.

In The Beginning is an unearthed gem, but it's an unearthed gem of baroque classic rock, subject to some of the trappings that era. Genesis doesn't quite live up to some of its more idiosyncratic contemporaries (the blaring Blue Cheer, the jazz and pop tinged Spirit,) nor does it touch the mind-boggling moddish psych of its forbears Sons of Adam. That said, there's something to the pretty female leads (especially on the cover of original suicide rock anthem "Gloomy Sunday”) and dueling vocals in the context of the music. Not to mention, it's hard to deny the twinge of entertainment derived from the band having such a prominent nominative doppelganger. Imagine the smug satisfaction you’ll feel as someone poses you the question,
by Matthew A. Stern

1. Angeline (Bob 'Crusher' Metke, Jack Ttanna) - 2:54
2. Suzanne (Leonard Cohen) - 3:01
3. Gloomy Sunday (Rezső Seress, Samuel M. Lewis) - 4:07
4. What's It All About? - 2:48
5. Mary, Mary (Bennett) - 2:42
6. Ten Second Song (Kent Henry) - 2:58
7. Girl Who Never Was - 4:02
8. World Without You - 16:16
9. The Long Road - 4:54
All songs by Jack Ttanna except where stated

*Kent Henry - Lead Guitar
*Bob "Crusher" Metke - Drums, Percussion
*Fred "Foxey" Rivera - Bass (Replaced Mike Port)
*Jack Ttanna (Aka Joe Koohen) - Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
*Sue Richman - Vocals

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Monday, August 11, 2014

Blue Cheer - Oh! Pleasant Hope (1971 us, impressive classic rock with folk and blues traces, japan 2007 remaster)

It's hard to imagine what would prompt someone to suggest the band that recorded Vincebus Eruptum should get in touch with their pastoral side, but for their sixth album in only four years, Blue Cheer decided to explore something close to folk-rock and they sounded a lot more comfortable with the stuff than anyone had a right to expect. 1971's Oh! Pleasant Hope featured the same lineup as the previous year's The Original Human Being (the first time since Outsideinside that the band had the same musicians for two albums in a row), and while the previous album found Blue Cheer trying to buff off some of their rough edges, this one is loose, laid-back, and playful; if it doesn't hit very hard, it's one of the most organic and natural-sounding recordings to carry the group's name. 

The album opens with "Hiway Man," an updated variant on old folk ballads with acoustic guitars and a magisterial organ dominating the arrangement; Oh! Pleasant Hope upends traditional expectations about this most heavy band, and while their tough, blues-centered rock is still present on songs like "Believer" and "Heart Full of Soul" (not the Yardbirds hit but a Dickie Peterson original), most of the time the music is simpler and quieter, and "Traveling Man," "Money Troubles," and "Ecological Blues" come off like jams cut live in the studio rather than stuff the group labored over for days. And the band flies their freak flag high on the tale of a mythic, mean-spirited cop "Lester the Arrester" and the title track, a likably goofy singalong in which a guy looking for reefer in the midst of a cannabis drought imagines a day when "grass will flow like wine." 

Oh! Pleasant Hope was recorded at a time when Blue Cheer's fortunes were at a low ebb, and it was the last album they would cut before breaking up for several years; it's hard to imagine anyone thought this was a shrewd commercial move, and at heart, this is an album Blue Cheer made because they felt like doing this, and the relaxed attitude and sense of fun is what makes this album work. 
by Mark Deming

1. Hiway Man (G.R. Grelecki, G.L. Yoder, N. Mayell) - 4:21
2. Believer (G.R. Grelecki, G.L. Yoder) - 3:42
3. Money Troubles (Dr. Richard Peddicord) - 4:08
4. Traveling Man (G.R. Grelecki, G.L. Yoder) - 3:09
5. Oh! Pleasant Hope (Dr. Richard Peddicord) - 2:39
6. I'm The Light (K. Housman, N. Mayell) - 5:45
7. Ecological Blues (Norman Mayell) - 2:26
8. Lester The Arrester (Ralph Burns Kellogg) - 3:09
9. Heart Full Of Soul (Dickie Peterson) - 4:35

Blue Cheer
*Dickie Peterson - Bass Guitar, Vocals
*Norman Mayell - Guitar, Sitar, Drums
*Gary Yoder - Acoustic And Electric Guitars, Harp, Lead Vocals (Tracks 1-6)
*Ralph Burns Kellogg - Organ, Piano, Synthesizer, Bass Guitar

1968   Blue Cheer - Vincebus Eruptum (2007 Japan remaster)
1968  Blue Cheer - OutsideInside (2012 edition)
1969  Blue Cheer - Blue Cheer (Japan 2007 remaster and expanded)
1969  Blue Cheer - New Improved! (2007 japan remaster)
Related Act
1967  Mint Tatoo - Mint Tatoo

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