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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Wendy And Bonnie - Genesis (1969 us, lovely sunny psych folk, Sundazed double disc remaster)



The sister duo of Wendy Flower and Bonnie Flower (their real names, not aliases), Wendy & Bonnie recorded one album in the late '60s. Genesis is pleasant, if naïve, harmonized light rock with psychedelic, jazz, and folk influences. It is impressive given their tender ages -- Wendy Flower was just 17, and Bonnie Flower only 13, when it was recorded in late 1968, and the pair wrote all of the material on the LP.

The Flowers grew up in a musical family in the San Francisco Bay Area, and prior to recording on their own, did a couple of garage-psychedelic singles as part of Crystal Fountain; Wendy sang lead, and Bonnie played drums. Jazz star Cal Tjader put them to the attention of a jazz label he recorded for, Skye, which made the Wendy & Bonnie LP its lone venture into rock. Genesis was pretty sparsely produced, the arrangements highlighting their harmonies and pensive paisley tunes, but did benefit from backing by some top Los Angeles session musicians, including drummer Jim Keltner and guitarist Larry Carlton.

The album was released in 1969, but stalled when Skye Records folded the following year. The death of producer Gary McFarland in 1971 further discouraged the duo. Although they did sing backup vocals on a couple of Tjader albums and some jingles and background vocals at Fantasy Records, they never recorded their own material again, and broke up in the early '70s. They did perform music separately in the subsequent decades, Wendy Flower issuing a children's music cassette, and Bonnie Flower once rejecting an invitation to join the Bangles.
by Richie Unterberger


Tracks
Disc 1
1. Let Yourself Go Another Time - 2:36
2. The Paisley Windowpane - 3:01
3. I Realized You - 3:43
4. By the Sea - 4:01
5. You Keep Hanging Up on My Mind - 2:54
6. It's What's Really Happening - 2:15
7. Five O'Clock in the Morning - 2:43
8. Endless Pathway - 3:37
9. Children Laughing - 2:46
10.Winter Is Cold - 2:36 
11.Let Yourself Go Another Time (Instrumental Version) - 2:46
12.The Paisley Windowpane (Alternate Version) - 3:18
13.I Realized You (Incomplete Vocals) - 3:43
14.It's What's Really Happening (Alternate Vocals) - 2:07
15.Five O'Clock in the Morning (Alternate Vocals) - 2:42
16.Endless Pathway (Alternate Vocals) - 3:41
17.The Winter Is Cold (Alternate Version) - 2:24
All songs by Wendy and Bonnie Flower
Bonus Tracks 11-17


Disc 2
1. Children Laughing (Demo Version) - 2:37
2. Years (Demo Version) - 1:47
3. Popular Phrases (Demo Version) - 2:19
4. Eleanor Rigby (Demo Version) (Lennon McCartney) - 3:39
5. The Winter Is Cold (Demo Version) - 2:40
6. The Ice Cream Man Song (Demo Version) - 2:24
7. December Sun (Demo Version) - 4:24
8. Wake Up, Sleepy Eyes (Demo Version) - 2:19
9. We Can Work It Out (Live) (Lennon McCartney) - 3:20
10.Thinking, Waiting (Live) - 3:39
11.Cover Our Child (Demo Version) - 3:49
12.Story of a Conventional Man (Demo Version) - 5:32
13.The Paisley Window Pane (Live) - 3:27
14.The Night Behind Us (Don Coupe, Wendy Flower) - 3:17
15.Sensations (Jerry Mairani, Wendy Flower) - 1:40
16.Never to Rest (Jerry Mairani, Wendy Flower) - 3:22
17.Children Laughing - 3:23
All songs by Wendy and Bonnie Flower except where noted.

Musicians
*Wendy Flower - Vocals, Vibes
*Bonnie Flower - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
*Larry Carlton - Guitar
*Michael Lang - Organ, Piano
*Mike Melvoin - Organ, Piano
*Randy Cierly - Bass, Kalimba
*Jim Keltner - Drums
*Don Coupe - Vocals, Guitar
*Jerry Mairani - Keyboards
*Skip Walde - Lead Guitar
*Ove Anderson - Bass
*John Anderson - Drums

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Thee Midniters - The Complete Midniters (1965-69 us, superb chicano garage beat psych rock, 2009 remaster edition, 4 disc box set)



You can hear their influence in the contemporary likes of King Khan 'n' the Shrines and Reigning Sound, not to mention such rock legends as Los Lobos and the Plimsouls. From vintage R&B and psychedelic soul to raveup garage and multi-culti Latino rock: Thee Midniters, a little ol' band from East L.A., had it all down and then some, and though they never really broke nationally, to crate diggers and ‘60s aficionados they remain legendary and among the toppermost. Thanks to the smartly-packaged four-CD boxed set Complete: Songs of Love, Rhythm & Psychedelia! (Micro Werks) the group's recorded legacy now gets a shot at a larger appraisal beyond the admiration of collectors.

Who were Thee Midniters? As outlined in archivist Richie Unterberger's incisive liner notes (Unterberger previously did an in-depth profile of the band in his 2000 book Urban Spacemen and Wayfaring Strangers: Overlooked Innovators and Eccentric Visionaries of ‘60s Rock), the Chicano band formed in East Los Angeles while most of the members were still in high school, playing the covers of the day at the usual teen dance parties, eventually graduating to the recording studio where they cut their first album, 1965's Whittier Blvd., which contained a pair of regional hits, the title track - "a warped mutation of the Rolling Stones' ‘2120 South Michigan Avenue'," is how Unterberger describes it - and a rousing cover of "Land Of A Thousand Dances." 

Armed with the killer instinct and soulful lead vocals of Willie Garcia (a/k/a Little Willie G, who'd go on to work with Los Lobos, Ry Cooder, Los Straitjackets and others) and possessing an uncanny ability to both channel and transcend their influences, Thee Midniters served up a heady stew, one that was primarily rock and soul-based but occasionally spiced up with touches of their Mexican-American musical heritage (although to this day the surviving musicians will insist that they were not playing Latin rock per se; they just happened to be Latinos who rocked).Observes Lobos' Louie Perez in Unterberger's liners, "Thee Midniters didn't stay in one predictable place. They were willing to push the envelope of what was expected by a band that was from East Los Angeles... [They] were the best band around at the time. 

They became our Beatles; all the stuff that was going on in Beatlemania, we translated into Midniter mania. It gave young kids who would eventually become musicians like myself inspiration to pursue a career in music."It's not hard to hear why, based on the four complete LPs and assorted B-sides and rarities represented on Complete. The first album primarily comprises cover tunes, standouts ranging from the swaggering R&B of Marvin Gaye's "Stubborn Kind Of Fellow" and street-corner group the Concords' smooth "Come Back Baby" to the aforementioned "1000 Dances" and signs-of-the-times rockers "Slow Down," "Money" and "Johnny B. Goode"; anyone who grew up on this material can picture him- or herself crowding down front at the local high school hop, freed for an hour or two from parental constraints and cutting loose while going through the rituals of teenage courtship. 

The bonus material (seven songs) yields its own trove of gold, including a swinging "Heat Wave" and a two-part live version of "1000 Dances." 1966's Thee Midniters Bring You Love Special Delivery, though, is where things start to heat up. Still dominating the setlist are covers, notably smoking takes of "Do You Love Me," "Good Lovin'" and "Gloria" (the latter has a punkish vocal snarl and angular guitar attack that very nearly tops the Van Morrison/Them original) plus the obligatory soul outings ("When A Man Loves A Woman" passes the audition) and at least one stab at pure schmaltz ("Strangers In The Night," which no doubt was strategically deployed at those dance hops to melt the hearts and part the thighs of sweet young things). 

Casual consumers might call this much ado about nothing, but Complete: Songs of Love, Rhythm & Psychedelia! ain't aimed at casual consumers. My guess is that anyone who's read this far is already frothing at the mouth - or at least experiencing a mild case of Pavlovian drip. So with the above caveat duly noted, l will still advise, and wholeheartedly, to run, don't walk, to your nearest record emporium, and purchase on sight. Those already in the know will cheer, and newcomers will find a whole new universe opening up to them. Senoras y senores, start your low riders...
by Fred Mills


Tracks
CD-1 Whittier Blvd 
1. Whittier Blvd. (Dominguez, Figueroa, Garcia, Lopez, Marquez, Prado, Rendon, Salazar) - 2:28
2. Stubborn Kind of Fellow (Gaye, Gordy, Stevenson) - 2:18
3. That's All  (Brandt, Haymes) - 3:06
4. Come Back Baby (Lewis, Lisi) - 2:21
5. Empty Heart  (Phelge) - 2:31
6. I Need Someone (Welch) - 2:59
7. Land of a Thousand Dances (Domino, Kenner) - 2:20
8. To Be with You (Jimenez, Torres) - 2:38
9. Slow Down (Williams) - 3:03
10.Giving Up on Love (Feldman, Goldstein, Gottehrer) - 2:42
11.Money (Bradford, Gordy, Gordy) - 3:01
12.Johnny B. Goode (Berry) - 2:38
13.Evil Love (Phillip) - 2:12
14.It's Not Unusual (Mills, Reed) - 2:17
15.Heat Wave (Dozier, Holland, Holland) - 2:25
16.Land of a Thousand Dances, Pt. 1 (Domino, Kenner) - 2:28
17.Land of a Thousand Dances, Pt. 2 (Domino, Kenner) - 3:35
18.Heat Wave (Dozier, Holland, Holland) - 2:26
19.Ball o' Twine (Harris) - 1:42


CD-2 Love Special Delivery
1. Love Special Delivery (Espinoza, Garcia) - 2:12
2. Love Makes Me Do Foolish Things (Dozier, Holland, Holland) - 3:14
3. Do You Love Me (Gordy) - 3:07
4. Soul and Inspiration (Mann, Weil) - 4:10
5. Good Lovin'  (Clark, Resnick) - 3:08
6. When a Man Loves a Woman (Lewis, Wright) - 2:49
7. Strangers in the Night  (Kaempfert, Singleton, Snyder) - 4:44
8. Gloria (V. Morrison) - 3:16
9. Love Makes the World Go Round  (Jackson) - 3:28
10.I Found a Peanut (Espinoza, Garcia) - 2:30
11.Don't Go Away (Marquez) - 2:46
12.Are You Angry (Espinoza, Flores, Garcia) - 2:24
13.It'll Never Be Over for Me (Biagman, Bobrick) - 3:23
14.Thee Midnite Feeling (LaMont, Rendon) - 3:09
15 .Hey Little Girl (Lewis) - 2:45
16.Are You Angry (Espinoza, Flores, Garcia) - 2:39


CD-3 Unlimited 
1. Everybody Needs Somebody to Love (Berns, Burke, Wexler) - 2:41
2. Cheatin' Woman (Espinoza, Garcia, LaMont) - 2:45
3. Could It Be (Marquez) - 2:03
4. Thee Walking Song (Dominguez, Garcia) - 2:18
5. Dreaming Casually (Garcia, Rendon) - 3:05
6. Never Knew I Had It So Bad  (Dominguez, Garcia, LaMont) - 2:31
7. Yesterday (Lennon, McCartney) - 2:34
8. Devil with a Blue Dress/GoodGolly, Miss Molly (F. Long, W. Stevenson, J. Marascalco, R. Blackwell) - 3:13
9. Making Ends Meet (Garcia, Rendon) - 2:32
10.Chile con Soul (Prado) - 2:33
11.Welcome Home Darling (Garcia, LaMont) - 2:17
12.The Town I Live In (Dodd, Mitchell, Rice) - 3:18
13.The Big Ranch (El Rancho Grande) (Ramos, Silvano R. Ramos) - 2:50
14.Dragon-Fly (Garcia, LaMont, Marquez, Rendon) - 3:06
15.Looking out a Window (Bagliazo, Dominguez, Garcia) - 2:57
16.Jump, Jive and Harmonize (Espinoza, Garcia, Marquez) - 2:29
17.Tu Despedida (Dominguez, Garcia) - 2:54
18.You're Gonna Make Me Cry (Prado, Torres) - 2:40
19.The Ballad of Cesar Chavez (English Version) (Dominguez, Garcia, Garcia) - 4:55
20.La Copla de Cesar Chavez (Spanish Version) (Dominguez, E. Garcia, Garcia, Garcia) - 4:58


CD-4 Giants 
1. Whittier Blvd. (Dominguez, Figueroa, Garcia, Lopez, Marquez, Prado, Rendon, Salazar) - 2:30
2. Goin' out of My Head (Randazzo, Weinstein) - 5:32
3. Land of a Thousand Dances (Domino, Kenner) - 2:24
4. Walk on By (Bacharach, David) - 5:15
5. Sad Girl  (Higgins, Smith) - 2:42
6. Everybody Needs Somebody to Love (Berns, Burke, Wexler) - 2:38
7. Brother Where Are You? (Brown, Oscar Brown Jr.) - 4:04
8. Breakfast on the Grass (Espinoza, Marquez, Torres) - 2:31
9. Strangers in the Night (Kaempfert, Singleton, Snyder) - 4:44
10.Love Special Delivery (Espinoza, Garcia) - 2:15
11.That's All  (Brandt, Haymes) - 3:07
12.Chicano Power  (Prado) - 3:04
13.Never Give You Up (Butler, Gamble, Huff) - 3:22
14.Balla Cinderella (Laws) - 3:17

Thee Midniters
*Willie Garcia a.k.a. Little WIllie G - Vocals
*George Dominguez - Guitars
*George Salazar - Drums
*Romeo Prado - Trombone
*Jimmy Espinoza - Bass
*Larry Rendon - Saxophone, Flute, Piano, Organ
*Ronny Figueroa - Organ, Conga
*Paul C Saenz - Guitars
*Danny LaMont - Drums, Piano
*Roy Marquez - Guitar, Background Vocals

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