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

Plain and Fancy

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


Saturday, May 20, 2017

Juicy Lucy - Get A Whiff A This (1971 uk, great classic rock with country and blues traces, 2013 remaster)



For an impressionable teenager still in my final year at school, Juicy Lucy's version of Who Do You Love was a welcome injection of energetic blues-rock when it entered the U.K. singles chart. This was the dawning of the '70s however and for me the more adventurous sounds of King Crimson, Yes and Gentle Giant beckoned with my hard-rock cravings satisfied by the likes of Deep Purple and Uriah Heep. Juicy Lucy in the meantime followed the success of the single and their 1969 self-titled debut album with Lie Back And Enjoy It (1970), Get A Whiff A This (1971) and Pieces (1972).

By the time they came to record the third album, Get A Whiff A This, the band was all but unrecognisable from the one that had impressed the 15 year-old schoolboy less than two years earlier. Chris Mercer (saxophone, piano, organ) and Glenn Campbell (steel guitar) remained but along the way Paul Williams (vocals), Micky Moody (guitar), Rod Coombes (drums) and Jim Leverton (bass) had come on-board. Whilst these names may not carry the same weight now, back in the early '70s this was a formidable line-up by anyone's standards.

Singer Williams had a hand in most of the song-writing with a couple of cover versions thrown in to make up the numbers. Of these, it's Mr. Skin by American band Spirit that opens the album in fine style. With strong dynamics, this psychedelic proto-prog workout features a catchy introductory riff similar to Jan Ackerman's stumbling guitar bridge from Focus' Sylvia which this predates by a year. Juicy Lucy's version of The Allman Brothers' county-rock standard Midnight Rider on the other hand benefits from Williams' soulful vocal and Leverton's pumping bass line. 

Of the original songs, the R&B rocker Midnight Sun stands out thanks to a gutsy vocal and Coombes' intelligent drumming. The song's structure (if not the riff) is reminiscent of Deep Purple's Smoke On The Water which again did not appear until the following year. After this encouraging start however Juicy Lucy begin to run out of steam. Despite some superb guitar and bass interplay and another sold riff, Harvest is nothing to write home about whilst Mr. A. Jones is the first of three laidback country-rock tunes. With its pedal steel and acoustic guitar sound (in the style of The Faces) Mr. A. Jones sits comfortably alongside Sunday Morning with its Dr. Hook flavoured vocal and restrained guitar picking. 

Whilst not as successful as its predecessors, sales for Get A Whiff A This were not unreasonable but it failed to consolidate the band. Following its release Campbell, Mercer, Coombes and Leverton all bailed out leaving Williams and Moody to soldier on. After one more album they too called it a day although the band did eventually resurface in 1995. 
by Mark Hughes


Tracks
1. Mr. Skin (Jay Ferguson) - 3:50
2. Midnight Sun (Paul Williams) - 3:48
3. Midnight Rider (Greg Alman, Kim Payne) - 3:19
4. Harvest (Bob Darin) - 4:19
5. Mr. A. Jones (Paul Williams) - 3:10
6. Sunday Morning (Paul Williams, Jim Leverton) - 3:57
7. Big Lil (Paul Williams) - 4:35
8. Jessica (Paul Williams, Mick Moody) - 4:10
9. Future Days (Jim Leverton) - 4:11

The Juicy Lucy
*Paul Williams - Vocals
*Chris Mercer - Keyboards, Saxophone
*Glenn "Ross" Campbell - Steel Guitar
*Micky Moody - Guitar
*Rod Coombes - Drums, Percussion
*Jim Leverton - Bass

1970  Juicy Luicy - Lie Back And Enjoy It (2010 remaster)
Related Acts
1965-66  The Misunderstood - Before The Dream Faded
1966-67/69  The Misunderstood - The Legendary Goldstar Album / Golden Glass  
1969  The Koobas - Koobas
1968  Tramline - Somewhere Down the Line (2008 digi sleeve)
1969  Tramline - Moves Of Vegetable Centuries
1969  Zoot Money - Transition (2009 edition)

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The British North American Act - In The Beginning... (1969 canada / uk, eminent garage acid psych)



Named for an act of British Parliament that helped establish the Canadian constitution, the British North-American Act were, fittingly enough, comprised of musicians from both Canada and the U.K. (though in the true spirit of internationalism, keyboard man Andy Bator was born in Hungary), and their sole album, originally released in 1969, is a gentle and likable fusion of folk-rock and psychedelia, with a bit of garage rock creeping in around the edges. "Joe Cool" is a swaggering tale of a self-styled ladies' man that wouldn't seem at all out of place on a vintage garage rock playlist (especially with Bob Allen's primal guitar work), and "If You're Looking for Honey" covers similar musical ground, but most of the album follows a gentler and trippier path, especially the sunny "Corduroy Coat," the languid and low-key "The World Would Understand," the baroque pop exercise "Just How Do You Feel" (complete with harpsichord), the moody and Farfisa-driven "Don't Run Away," and the bittersweet "Only a Dream." 

The light, poppy touch of many of these songs makes the British North-American Act sound just a bit behind the times for 1969 -- while most of their peers were cranking up their amps and dropping acid, these guys were seemingly following more benign pursuits, both musically and recreationally, but the songs are well crafted, the band plays them with strength and taste, and the 12 tunes are just varied enough to give the performances a broad musical palette without losing sight of the group's identity. 

Αt a time when bands were beginning to stretch their albums out to epic scale, In the Beginning... offers plenty of entertainment in an efficient 29 minutes. There's little that's visionary and life-changing about the British North-American Act, but they produced engaging and likable pop that deserves a wider hearing among fans of the music of the era. 
by Mark Deming


Tracks
1. See How Free - 2:08
2. Baby Jane Days And Nights - 2:45
3. Only A Dream - 2:55
4. Joe Cool - 2:25
5. The World Would Understand - 2:34
6. I'll Find A Way - 2:02
7. Just How You Feel - 2:43
8. Corduroy Coat - 2:10
9. Give Yourself A Ride - 1:59
10.If You're Looking For Honey - 2:13
11.Don't Run Away - 2:34
12.All The World Is In Your Eyes - 2:14

The British North American Act
*Bob Allen - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Kirk Armstrong - Bass
*Andy Bator - Organ, Piano
*Rick Elger - Guitar, Harmonia, Vocals
*Dave McCall - Drums

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Friday, May 12, 2017

Boondoggle And Balderdash - Boondoggle And Balderdash (1971 us, magnificent country folk swamp rock, 2015 SHM edition)



Boondoggle and Balderdash are John Herron and Robert McLerran. Herron is a Colorado musician who performed with GNP in 1967. He was also with a group called "Climax" - not "Precious and Few" and then joined a later configuration of the Electric Prunes. Rob McLerran had been with a group called Spinning Wheel, and also an evolution of Boulder Colorado's surf band the Astronauts - called Hardwater. The two joined up to form Boondoggle. John died in an automobile accident in the 1990s.

John Herron and Rob McLerran released only album under alias name "Boondoggle & Balderdash" in 1971 and the album has been demanded by numerous collectors and music devotees over decades. This classic swamp rock legend reminds of The Band. 


Tracks
1. Never Got To Know Him - 2:33
2. Mr. Driver - 2:33
3. Old Porch Swing - 3:52
4. When Will It All Be Over - 2:39
5. You Always Find A Way - 4:41
6. The Whiskey Got To Me - 2:29
7. Songs I'm Singing - 2:50
8. You've Got Me - 3:44
9. 7 A.M - 3:13
10.I've Been Delayed - 3:42
Music and Lyrics by John Herron, Robert McLerran

Personnel
*John Herron - Keyboards, Vocals
*Robert McLerran - Guitar, Vocals
*Pete Wyant - Guitar
*Tom Dewey - Guitar
*George Bell - Guitar, Drums
*Dub Campbell - Guitar
*Tuck Andress - Guitar
*John Beland - Guitar
*Don Duca - Drums
*David Tanner - Bass
*Bob Barnes - Bass
*Rick Martincz - Bass
*Eddie Abner - Dobro
*Famous Darrell Leonard - Horns
*Velinore Snake - Horns

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Monday, May 8, 2017

Doctor Feelgood - Something To Take Up Time (1971 us, spectacular blues jazz rock with prog tinges, 2007 digipak remaster)



Doctor Feelgood evolved out of Boston’s North Shore music scene of the early 60s with Cooper, Corelle, and Winters having played in the rock band The Sensations.

Later that band evolved into Teddy And The Pandas issuing a few singles on Musicor and eventually signing to Capitol’s Tower label for one album. Playing mostly covers, along with a few originals, they got plenty of gigs at local school dances. But finding out that there was another band called the Sensations, a name change was in order. Looking through a dictionary, it was Cooper who came up with the Pandas, and it was a group decision to put Teddy Dewart’s name in front of it. Cooper soon left, replaced by drummer Jerry Labrecque. 

High school gigs turned into college gigs and club dates (the first was the Intermission Lounge in the Combat Zone), and the band traveled throughout New England, improving their stage act by, for instance, hiring a choreographer to teach them some good stage moves. Then they met promotion man Bruce Patch, who would end up being their producer after insisting that they trim down to a quintet by getting rid of Paul Daly. A 1965 visit to Ace Recording Studio in Boston resulted in two original songs: “Once Upon a Time” backed with “Bye Bye (Out the Window).” The record — first on the Coristine label, then rereleased on Musicor — was a local hit on WBZ and WMEX, and the band started getting some dates outside of New England, but it failed to chart nationally. When a couple of follow-up singles didn’t take off, they parted ways with Musicor, eventually recording the 10-song 1968 album Basic Magnetism on Capitol’s subsidiary, Tower Records. 

Dewart had left the band to go to college, and was replaced by guitarist Paul Rivers, but Dewart contributed to the album and got a “guest artist” credit. The album went nowhere, and in 1969, Corelle and Rivers left to form the band Doctor Feelgood (not to be confused with the British pub rockers), reuniting with Sensations members Winters and Cooper, releasing one album, 1971’sSomething To Take Up Time. That was the end of the Pandas. But in 2002 a collection of alternate takes and demos, titled Rarities and Forgotten Gems, was released and the band has reunited for the occasional concert in Beverly, with Dewart on guitar.
by Ed Symkus

Dr. Feelgood rounded it out with two of the original Sensations, saxophonist Dick Winters and drummer Ralph Cooper. At the time both were members of another North Shore group, the Warlocks. “They left the Warlocks, and we left the Pandas to start our own band,” Corelle says. “When Paul and I left, the Pandas didn’t replace us. They just stopped playing.” 

Dr. Feelgood played gigs around New England for about three years, then disbanded when a deal with Epic Records fell through. They did record one jazz-rock album, “Something to Take Up Time,” with producer Larry Patch on an independent label. Corelle speaks highly of Winter’s contributions to that album. 

“Dickie picked up the flute in addition to both tenor and soprano sax,” he says. “He played two saxes at the same time. There weren’t too many (musicians) who could play double horn. He did a lot of solos and double horn work on the album. It was incredible.” 
by Joseph Tortelli


Tracks
1. Number Ten - 2:49
2. The Roach Did It - 3:05
3. Smoke Dream - 8:51
4. Mr. Bojangles - 2:36
5. Medicine Man - 4:06
6. Nasal Greens And Toe Jam - 3:13
7. Hey Gyp - 5:15
8. 5 XR.V.W - 6:08
9. Something To Take Up Time - 7:39
10.Junk - 5:29

The Doctor Feelgood
*Dick Winters - Vocals, Flute, Tenor, Baritone, Soprano Saxophones, Maracas
*Ralph Cooper - Drums, Congas, Maracas
*Bill Corelle - Bass Guitar, Cow Bell
*Paul Rivers - Electric, Acoustic Guitar

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Thursday, May 4, 2017

Gary Wright And Wonderwheel - Ring Of Changes (1972 us / uk, astonishing soulful classic rock, 2016 release)



In a career spanning seven decades, there’s little Gary Wright hasn’t accomplished.  Having earned a role on Broadway before hitting his teenage years, the musically-talented New Jersey native moved to London, formed Spooky Tooth, befriended George Harrison, played on hit records from Harrison, Ringo Starr and Harry Nilsson, and launched his own successful career with smashes like “Dreamweaver” and “Love is Alive.”  But one chapter of the Gary Wright story has been long lost: his 1972 album Ring of Changes, recorded with his band Wonderwheel for A&M Records.  Though singles were released bearing the promise “From the album Ring of Changes,” the LP never arrived…until now.  Esoteric Recordings, an imprint of Cherry Red Group, has teamed with Universal Music for the first release of Ring of Changes this Friday, July 29.

Singer-songwriter/keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist Wright departed Spooky Tooth in January 1970 to pursue a solo career, signing with Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss’ legendary A&M label and recording Extraction that spring.  The following year, he recorded his sophomore set, Footprint.  When Footprint failed to perform to expectations, Wright decided to return to a band format.  He formed Wonderwheel with guitarist-singer Mick Jones, later of Foreigner, as well as bassist Tom Duffey and drummer Bryson Graham.  The group traveled to Apple Studios on Savile Row in London to record the album that became Ring of Changes.  

Most of the album comprised straight-ahead, melodic and muscular rock tunes, but a softer, Laurel Canyon influence was also detectable on the more acoustic-oriented, harmony-laden cuts.  George Harrison, who frequently welcomed Wright to his own LPs, played a trademark slide guitar solo on the mid-tempo, country-flecked ballad “Goodbye Sunday” which Wright wrote with his sister Lorna Lee.  (In the liner notes to Esoteric’s first-time issue, the artist also indicates that Harrison may have played on other tracks, but it’s difficult to confirm as Mick Jones had also picked up the slide at that time.)

A&M released “I Know” on 45 RPM in the U.S., Italy and Germany (b/w “Tonight It’s Right,” not included on this release), and the anthemic “Ring of Changes” b/w “Somebody” in the U.K., but no album was forthcoming.   The decision was made by A&M to shelve Ring of Changes.  Its fate led Wright to re-establish Spooky Tooth, this time with Wonderwheel’s Jones and eventually Graham coming on board.  The LP sat in the A&M vaults for more than 40 years, but Esoteric is finally presenting this lost rock classic in full with three bonus tracks: the outtake “What We Can Do,” and the non-LP sides “I Know” and “Somebody.”

Mark Powell provides the informative liner notes in the color 14-page booklet here, drawing on a new interview with Gary Wright, and Wright himself has newly mastered the album with Kevin Bartley at Hollywood’s Capitol Studios.  
by Joe Marchese


Tracks
1. Lovetaker - 4:34
2. Wild Bird - 3:43
3. Something For Us All - 4:10
4. Set On You - 3:59
5. Ring Of Changes - 3:53
6. Goodbye Sunday - 4:35
7. For A Woman - 5:03
8. Workin' On A River - 3:58
9. Creation - 5:19
10.I Know (Gary Wright) - 2:57
11.What Can We Do (Mick Jones, Gary Wright) - 5:09
12.Somebody (Gary Wright) - 2:50

The Wonderwheel
*Gary Wright - Vocals, Keyboard, Guitar
*Mick Jones - Lead, Acoustic Guitars, Vocals
*Tom Duffey - Bass, Vocals
*Bryson Graham - Drums
With
*George Harrison - Slide Guitar

1971-72  Gary Wright - Extraction / Footprint
Related Acts
1968  Spooky Tooth - It's All About (2005 and 2010 SHM)
1969  Spooky Tooth - Spooky Two (2005 remaster and 2010 SHM)

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Monday, May 1, 2017

Diamond Reo - Diamond Reo (1975 us, excellent hard groovy glam rock, 2008 digi pak remaster)



The Diamond Reo band was founded in 1974 by Frank Zuri, Bob McKeag, Norman Nardini and Robbie Johns. McKeag and Zuri played together earlier in the group Igniters, which managed to release only one single in 1968 at Atlantic Records. 

With the contribution of this company and the production of Tom Cossie, the Diamond Reo members release their first eponymous LP for less than a year after their creation.

With the cover version of Marvin Gaye's song "Is Not That Peculiar," the band had some nationwide success and toured in the States along with Kiss, Kansas, Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, Frank Zappa, Ian Hunter, Blue Oyster Cultem and Canned Heat.


Tracks
1. Rock 'N' Roll Till I Die (Bob McKeag) - 3:27
2. I Want You (J. MacDonald) - 3:43
3. Work Hard Labor (J. MacDonald) - 3:03
4. Thing For You (Bob McKeag) - 3:19
5. Nowhere To Run (Brian Holland, Edward Holland, Jr., Lamont Dozier) - 3:15
6. Ain't That Peculiar (Marvin Tarplin, Robert Rogers, Smokey Robinson, Warren Moore) - 2:45
7. Lover In The Sky (Bob McKeag) - 3:17
8. It's Gonna Be Alright (J. MacDonald) - 3:54
9. Sittin' On Top Of The Blues (Bob McKeag) - 3:21
10.I'm Movin' On (J. MacDonald) - 4:20

The Diamond Reo
*Norman Nardini - Vocals, Bass
*Bob McKeag - Guitars, Vocals, Bag
*Frank Zuri - Voclas, Keyboards
*Rob Jones - Drums, Percussion, Vocals
With
*Warren King - Guitars
*Al Mossburg - Acoustic Guitar
*Ed Jonnet - Tenor, Alto, Soprano Saxophones
*Chris Patarini - Tenor Saxophone
*Van Crozier - Baritone, Alto Saxophones

1976  Diamond Reo - Dirty Diamonds (2012 remaster)

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