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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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Sunday, June 10, 2018

Elyse Weinberg - Greasepaint Smile (1969 canada, spectacular psych folk rock, 2015 digipak remaster)

Elyse Weinberg was there and gone. While the 1960's were closing its doors, Weinberg graduated from Toronto folk clubs to crashing on Neil Young's Laurel Canyon couch to the Billboard charts within one prolific year. She played The Tonight Show and was featured in Newsweek. One of her songs was recorded as a title track for a cinematic Cher vehicle. It appeared, even beyond the Hollywood Hills, that Weinberg was poised to launch. But within a year, the bright lights began to dim and she quietly walked away. Informed by her astrological study and an awakened spiritual urge, Weinberg left the phony grin she sang about in Greasepaint Smite behind her and, with that, the music business.

Weinberg got her first guitar at age 12. As she learned lo play, the young musician gravitated toward folk tunes, eventually mastering the Carter Family's "Wildwood Flower." By the mid-1960s in Montreal, teenage Elyse was already down the rabbit hole, reading Broadside magazine and taping records by Greenwich Village folkies—Eric Andersen, Phil Ochs, Dave Van Ronk—onto her reel-to-reel so she could slow down the tapes to learn the guitar parts. When Reverend Gary Davis came to town, she looked after him, kept him in whiskey, and studied his fingers on the guitar neck.

Three years into McGill University in Montreal, Weinberg dropped out and moved to Toronto where the folk scene included heavies like Ian Sc Sylvia and Joni Mitchell, as well as headies like David Wiffen and Bob Carpenter. Renting a spot in a communal house on Bishop Street, she lived in a space where music and traveling artists shared real estate with a dog, pregnant feral cats, an iguana, and iwo monkeys. She formed a band called O.D. Bodkin and Company (she was O.D.) and played Toronto's Yorkshire coffeehouse district in haunts like the Bohemian Embassy, the Gate of Cleve, and the Mousetrap. These were days of counterculture consumption, documented specifically in the song "Ironworks" on her first record. But in the 1960s, Weinberg was there for more than just the party. She was tuning in to the cognitive and creative aspects of her Scorpio identity. 

On the surface, she describes her behavior as being "a bundle of reactions," but the songs she was writing went somewhere deeper. Travels took her to Israel and throughout Europe, briefly to New York City, and then back to Toronto. Weinberg was flamboyant and serious, often wearing a purple crushed velvet cape beneath her long dark hair. She described the urgency in her voice at the time as an "old gravel pit." Despite the creative buzz and creative community of Toronto, Weinberg wanted to make records and knew that meant leaving town. Neil Young, an old friend who often camped out at the Bishop Street house in a sleeping bag, urged her to head west. 

In the spring of 1968, she moved to Eos Angeles to crash on Young's couch in Topanga Canyon during Buffalo Springfield's final bow. She then became roommates with Cass Elliot, another musician connected to the Canadian folk clubs. When Elliot heard Weinberg's song "Darlin' Please Believe Me," she set up a meeting with Silver, who managed Elliot's old group before she joined The Mamas & the Papas, The Big 3. Weinberg only had enough money to travel one way in a cab to Silver's office across town. By afternoon's end, Silver had signed her to a management and recording contract. Not only did he give her cab fare home, he got her an apartment in Laurel Canyon and bought her a green Pontiac Le Mans, her first car.

Elyse was released on Tetragrammaton Records in May of 1969, when she was 23 years old. The label ran ads for the album with the tagline: "Because Cass Elliott called and asked us to listen." Coowned with Bill Cosby, Tetragrammaton played home to a roster that included Pat Boone, Deep Purple, and Biff Rose and released the John Lennon and Yoko Ono album Two Virgins when Capitol Records deemed it too controversial. Silver was a mover and shaker, an insider whose reach went beyond the music business. He managed Joan Rivers and Bob Dylan in their early days and orchestrated the televised, ratings-winning wedding between Tiny Tim and Miss Vicki on The Tonight Show. Silver worked all industry angles in Hollywood, eventually opening a Chinese restaurant on Sunset Boulevard in John Barrymore's old house where he hosted late night parties while selling Sichuan noodles and pork fried rice, just to keep his finger on the pulse. Silver could make things happen, and Weinberg was his focus.

Elyse peaked at #31 on the Billboard chart as Weinberg toured the folk circuit. Newsweek, in a July 1969 feature on visionary female troubadours with the demeaning title "The Girls Letting Go," included Weinberg alongside Joni Mitchell, Laura Nyro, and Melanie. The writer described Weinberg's songs as death-obsessed, comparing them to "medieval ballads," and her vocal delivery to Bob Dylan's on John Wesley Harding. But to Weinberg, the songs involved more struggle. "Everyone has just one song they sing," she said to the reporter, "and these songs are about people who hold onto everything and anything that's holding them back or getting them down or getting them high—people who just don't know how to let go."

Silver's pull got Weinberg booked twice on The Tonight Show with Johnny Canon, but the show bumped her each time. The third time was the charm, and she performed Bert Jansch's "Oh, Deed I Do," the album's single, but that's where the good luck ended. Her guitar was mixed too low and her performance faltered. Adding insult to injury, when the night's guest-host, Flip Wilson, held up a copy of her record with the cellophane still on, the studio lights blinded the album cover. "It was a very unsatisfying experience, all in all," she remembers. Silver ever the play-maker, also convinced Cher to record the album's opening cut, "Band of Thieves," for her acting debut in the 1969 film Chastity. The film and soundtrack flopped. Worse for Weinberg, her song was retitled "Chastity's Theme," and the closing credits erroneously listed Sonny Bono as the composer.

By the summer of 1969, her debut was still fresh and her follow-up was already recorded. Produced by Neil Young's engineer, David Briggs, Greasepaint Smile features J.D. Souther on drums, an 18-year-old Nils Lofgren on guitar ("Greasepaint Smile, "Collection Bureau"), and Kenny Edwards on bass, among others. Neil Young welcomed the invitation from his old friend to play guitar on one song, "Houses," where his infamous 1953 Gibson Les Paul, "Old Black," makes its first appearance on record without assistance from an amp. 

These were fuzzy times, but Weinberg recalls this part of the session well: "I remember us sitting in the control room, and Neil was plugged directly into the soundboard. I had my arm around him and he just began ripping out these beautiful guitar lines. It was very sweet and intimate." It's a song that skips between time signatures while metaphorically acknowledging the difficulty of sharing the world with others. Or, as Weinberg more succinctly states when asked about the song: "We all have our stuff." David Briggs, in an article in Record World in August of 1969, distinguishes Greasepaint Smile from its predecessor: "All the people are playing to the vocal rather than vice versa." That's accurate. 

On Greasepaint Smile you hear a band with more of Weinberg, her voice and picking out front, as Biblical allusions blur with images of Laurel Camon nights and mornings-after. She is the sole writer on all these songs, minus her return to the Carter Family catalog for the song "Gospel Ship." Though pleased with the album, she didn't have creative control. "I didn't know I could have an opinion. I just turned up. I was just the chick singer!" Arid as she listens hack now, she says, "I hear a young woman wanting to be loved. I hear a spiritual yearning for a higher love. I know it now, but 1 didn't know it then." It's this raw wisdom that makes this record so compelling. But despite Tetragrammaton reserving a catalog number and completing die photo shoot for the album cover, the label was in financial trouble. During the release of Deep Purple's third album, their most profitable artist, they went bankrupt and closed shop.

By 1970, Weinberg was spending her nights at the Troubadour club. She played the Monday open mics along with performers like Warren Zevon, Cheech & Chong, and Jackson Browne, who Silver also managed early on, J.D. Souther and Glenn Frey were among the regulars, pre-Eagles, performing as Longbranch Pennywhistle and occasionally doubling as Weinberg's backing hand. But during daylight, little was happening, so she left for another adventure as Greasepaint Smile got Comfy in the attic of lost albums. Weinberg landed in London after touring with the Great Medicine Ball Caravan, the hippie troupe designed and documented in the 1971 film of the same name. The troupe's mission: spread counter-culture love and wisdom— Aquarian missionaries to the straights on the Warner Brothers' dime, a corporate package made up to mimic Woodstock's aesthetic and profits. The troupe included musical acts like B.B. King, Doug Kershaw, Alice Cooper, The Youngbloods, and, in the final overseas festival, Pink Floyd. Weinberg joined after hearing there was room on tour from her friend, the tour's official tie-dyer. 

When the Great Medicine Ball Caravan wrapped, Weinberg met with former label-mate and Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover in London to discuss him producing her next album. But even before recording began, Roy Silver called and urged her to return home to make a third album, this time for a new label owned by his friend and future mogul, David Geffen. Weinberg signed to Asylum in August of 1971, becoming one of the label's first artists alongside Browne, Souther, The Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, and Judee Sill. But after the album wrapped, Weinberg had a falling out with Silver, her longtime champion, and the deal disappeared. 

For the second time in a few years, Weinberg completed an album that no one would hear. The Asylum album remains unreleased. The only known copy is a faded cassette. The story of Weinberg's time in the L.A. scene can be heard in her song, "City of the Angels." It's a tune she describes as "reflecting on the milieu that you're moving in and not liking it," but her exit isn't as clearly documented.

Weinberg stayed in L.A. for the next decade or so, distancing herself from the music business that was always at odds with her muse. She moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and then rural Oregon, where she lives today. Weinberg changed not only her residence, but also her name. Based on her beliefs in numerology, where numbers represent letters and each number represents an energy value, she reinvented herself as Cori Bishop.

Bishop kept making music quietly through the 1990's, and in 2001 approved a reissue of her debut, Elyse, on Orange Twin Records. The reboot included two songs from Greasepaint Smile, "Houses" arid "What You Call It." Here, those songs are presented in their original context for
the first time. Bishop self-released her fourth album in 2009, under her professional name Elyse Weinberg, titled In My Own Sweet Time, When asked about current plans, Bishop says she is continuing on her spiritual path and studying metaphysics, as she becomes "closer to dropping the body." Listening to the album now, Bishop says of the title track, "It's about the facades of who we are and how we keep trying to shed those facades." Exactly what you'd expect when hearing her sing the song's final, pleading line: "Bring me down the road another mile." For Bishop, the journey is about transcending the destination.
by Jerry David DeCicca, January 2015

1. What You Call It - 2:58
2. City Of The Angels - 3:28
3. Houses - 3:36
4. It's All Right To Linger - 2:47
5. Collection Bureau - 4:46
6. Gospel Ship (Traditional) - 2:28
7. Nicodemus - 4:06
8. My, My, My - 5:02
9. Your Place Or Mine - 2:47
10.Greasepaint Smile - 3:37
All compositions by Elyse Weinberg except track #6

*Elyse - Vocals
*J.D. Souther - Drums
*Nils Lofgren - Guitar
*Kenny Edwards - Drums
*Neil Young - Guitar

1968  Elyse - Elyse (2000 reissue) 

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Friday, June 8, 2018

Joe E. Covington - Fat Fandango (1973 us, fine melt of roots 'n' roll, psych, glam rock, original Vinyl edition)

If you recognize the name Joe E. Covington at all, chances are that it’s a result of his late inning association with The Jefferson Airplane – he replaced Spencer Dryden in 1971, or for his work with The Airplane spin off Hot Tuna.  Though he only played on one Airplane album (19721’s “Bark”), that connection was enough to line up financing for his 1973 album debut – “Joe E. Covington’s Fat Fandango” on The Airplane’s RCA Victor affiliated Grunt label.  

Ironically Covington’s solo debut actually stretched back to 1967 when he released a one-shot single for the small Original Sound label – an early cover of The Who’s ‘Boris the Spider’ b/w ‘I’ll Do Better Next Time’ (Original Sound catalog OS-74). He’d also been a member of the Pittsburgh-based The Fenwicks and after quitting The Airplane  joined Peter Kaukonen’s Black Kangaroo.

While his attempts to sing in tune were only marginally successful, given the LP’s low-key charm, that problematic characteristic kind of faded into the background … c’mon, The Clash couldn’t sing to save their lives.  Calling the album eclectic was an understatement.  Apparently intent on showcasing his diversity, the album bounced all over the musical spectrum, including semi-competent stabs as soul (‘Your Heart Is My Heart’ and ‘Miss Universe’), 1950s rock (‘Moonbeam’), conventional rock (‘Hideout (A Crook’s Best Friend’), and even pseudo-psych (the trippy ‘Mama Neptune’ and the extended closer ‘Vapor Lady’). 

Luckily a strong and enthusiastic backing band in the form of keyboardist ‘Senator’ Patrick Craig, guitarist Stevie Midnight, and bassist Jack Prendergast kept things moving in the right direction.  The two previously mentioned soul-ish numbers were particularly good!  Slap them on some type of soul compilation and I’ll guarantee most folks would never be able to guess who the performer was.  The other standout track was the most commercial number – ‘Hideout (A Crook’s Best Friend)’ which went from straight ahead rock to a surprisingly engaging funk workout.  

1. Your Heart Is My Heart (Joe E. Covington, Jack Prendergast, Senator Patrick Craig, Mack) - 3:41
2. Country Girl - 3:27
3. Moonbeam - 3:47
4. Mama Neptune - 7:16
5. Miss Unaverse - 5:25
6. Hideout (A Crook's Best Friend) - 4:12
7. Vapor Lady - 8:08
All songs written by Joe E. Convington except track #1.

*Joe E. Covington - Vocals, Drums
*Senator Patrick Craig - Keyboards
*Stevie Midnite - Guitar
*Jack Prendergast - Bass

Related Acts
1968-69  Racket Squad - Racket Squad / Corners Of Your Mind
1972  Peter Kaukonen - Black Kangaroo (2007 bonus tracks edition)

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Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Appaloosa - Appaloosa (1969 us, elegant tasteful baroque folk psych, 2006 japan remaster)

Our tale begins on a weekday after my newly-appointed office as staff A&R man at Columbia Records in 1969, had already produced the top ten Super Session album, and was always  scouting for new talent. Four young lads had some-how by-passed security and poked their heads into my office. "Can I help you?" I inquired "We've travelled from Boston just to audition for you, Mr. Kooper," they flatteringly exclaimed. I picked up the phone and called the studio booking office to try and get some space to hear them play as soon as possible. When they heard my end of the conversation, they yelled out: "Hang up!!! We can play right here in your office!  All we need is one plug for the bass amp!" Never having been accosted with an offer like this before, I sheepishly hung up the phone, and pointed to the wall outlet.  

They plugged in a tiny bass amp and opened their instrument cases. Out came an acoustic guitar, a CELLO! and a VIOLIN! I was totally mesmerized and I had't heard a note yet. The acoustic guitarist. John Compton. began to play and sing.  The bass provided a rhthymic/melodic path behind him, and soon the strings began to swirl behind his Buddy Holly-esque vocal and a big smile broke out on my face. Every talent scout hopes for something unique to fall into their lap.  Not the run of the mill crap that pours out of AM radios, but something we've never heard before; with unmeasurable depth.  Here it was delivered to my office with no order placed. It was hard to believe. When they finished the first song.  I told them to relax - that I would surely sign them up - and to continue playing every? original song in their repertoire.  I took notes and asterisked the songs that jumped out at me. "Tulu Rogers" - a pastoral view of the countryside in the height of New England winter, a woman sits by the window crocheting to the sounds of Bach. "Thoughts Of Polly" - a jazzy sounding verse forwards into a folk rock chorus that concludes in a dizzying jazz coda supplied by the addition of then-Blood Sweat & Tears-sters Bobby Colomby on drums and Fred Lipsius on screaming,  lyrical alto sax.  

The band incorporates the addition of other musicians with nary a blink. "Feathers" -   I always felt this album was six months ahead of it's time - that James Taylor followed in the correct time slot, also a New England lad, but with Beatle support, and a great deal more advertising. This song could easily have been written by Taylor in that time slot. "Bi-Weekly" - I could not resist adding a stuaioband around this autumnal quartet. This is a wonderful song lyrically and musicaly. It's hard to believe it's just Robin Bateaux on viola and Gene Rosov on cello,  bouilding their own string fortress in this city of sound. "Glossolallia" - reminded me of Donovan to come. A woman stands in harbor, on a balcy, singing to the ocean.  David Reiser, bassist, shows why this quartet had a bassist and drummer in one, when such a thing was neccesary. "Rivers Run  To The Sea" Bobby Colomby attempts to bridge this bi-tempo sonnet. I join on electric guitar. "Pascals Paradox" - one of the best examples of what is great and timeless about Appaloosa.  With no assistance or correction they do what is incredibly unique about them. And I lost myself in mock-heroic style, lodged in their castle for awhile. "Yesterdays Roads" - talking about flirting with a past lover and giving it relevance lyrically. 

I confess to uncontrollably tinkling the ivories on this track. "Georgia Street" - the other song that Bobby Colomby  and Fred Lipsius gave ample contributions. I m also doing my best on the doomed 1969 Rock-Si-Chord keyboard.  Anotner duo-tempo composition by Compton is tackled in grand fashion climaxing in a swinging Lipsius alto solo. It's wonderful to ressurect this album now: nearly 50 years after it s innocent, naive debut. It still retains it s innocence and naivette, and sounds so much like those it influenced much later on in one way or another: Damian Rice. The Left Banke, Christopher Cross, A Stewart, James Blunt, and perhaps in someway or another, James Taylor.  The album cover was shot by Marie Cosindas, who specialized in taking all her portraits with Polaroid cameras.  She captured the essence of the group admirably and in 60 seconds, we had our cover.  Although not a huge seller in it's time, it reached a lot of people who were in college at the time.  I think many of them kept a soft spot in their music heart and will be glad to know about this re-release. To possibly rekindle that warmth once again.
Thanks for listening
Al Kooper

1. Tulu Rogers - 3:59
2. Thoughts of Polly - 5:51
3. Feathers - 2:29
4. Bi-Weekly - 3:36
5. Glossolalia - 4:07
6. Rivers Run to the Sea - 3:32
7. Pascal's Paradox - 3:23
8. Yesterday's Road - 3:21
9. Now That I Want You - 2:34
10. Georgia Street - 4:47
11. Rosalie - 4:28
All compositions by John Parker Compton

*John Parker Compton - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar 
*Eugene Rosov - Cello
*David Reiser - Bass
*Robin Batteau - Violin
Guest Musicians
*Fred Lipsius  - Sax Alto
*Artie Schroeck  - Drums
*Tony Ackerman - Guitar
*Jimmy Alcamo  - Drums
*Bobby Colomby - Drums,  Percussion
*Romeo Penque - Oboe
*Al Kooper - Harpsichord, Organ, Piano, Vibraphone, Electric Guitar

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Friday, June 1, 2018

Tranquility - Silver (1972 uk, wonderful folk silky rock with prog shades, 2018 korea remaster)

Having garnered a spot opening for The Byrds during a brief 1972 US tour, the band's unexpected American success saw Epic Records offer them an opportunity to record a follow-up album. Heading back to England, the band went through a couple of personnel changes that saw drummer Eric Dillon replaced by Paul Francis, bassist Paul Leverton replaced by Bernard Hagley, and the addition of lead guitarist/singer Berkley Wright.  Produced by Ashley Koyaks, 1972's "Silver" didn't mark a major change in musical direction from their debut.  

Epic clearly spent a little more money on the recording sessions (at least allowing the band to buy a couple of synthesizers for Tony Lukyn  - check out the opener 'Eagle Eye'), which served to give the album a fuller sound. With singer/lead guitarist Terry Shaddick again handling most of the writing chores (keyboardist Lukyn contributing the country-tinged ballad 'LInda'), the album found the band trying to find a musical sweet spot between blatantly commercial and hipper, rock oriented numbers.  Their musicianship remained impeccable - how many bands can claim three talented guitarists, let alone three good lead singers?  And that may well have been their downfall.  Pop fans were probably put off by their more rock oriented moves, while rock fans probably wanted little to do with their country, or pop moves.   In practical terms the overall impact was minimal, which meant if you admired the debut, the follow-up (which only saw a US release), was probably going to appeal to you as well.   

Eagle Eye' started the album off with a melodic rocker.  Kicked along by some nice jangle rock guitars, the song showcased Shaddick's knack for pretty and catchy melodies, as well as the band's patented lush harmony vocals.  Opening up with a slightly dreamy, almost lysergic quality, the mid-tempo ballad 'Can I See You' was one of the album highlights.  Simply a beautiful song with some killer harmony vocals, its hard to believe this one didn't generate some radio attention for the band.  Penned by keyboardist Lukyn, the country-tinged ballad 'Linda' was one of the album's 'growers'.   With a breezy melody, the song's winning edge came in the form of some killer Shaddick acoustic slide guitar.  'Whip Wheel' started out as a decent enough pop song showcasing some nice Lukyn electric piano.  And then about two thirds of the way through, the song took an abrupt and unexpected change in direction heading towards a far harder, almost Floyd-styled hard-rock sound.  Powered by some David Gilmore-styled lead guitar, the results were great.  Short, but great. 

Kicked along by some stellar jangle rock guitars, 'The Driver's Engine' found the band returning to a country-rock orientation (emphasis on rock).  Another one that gets better the more you hear it - this one's always reminded me of something Mike Nesmith might have written and recorded with The Monkees. Another album highlight, 'Couldn't Possibly Be' may have had the album's strongest melody and when it got going, it was easily the toughest rocker.  Yeah, the lyrics were a bit spacey, but who cared.  A breezy pop track with touches of English Vaudeville, 'Nice and Easy' found Shaddick and company stepping into their best Paul McCartney impressions.   Another one that climbed into your head and simply wouldn't leave, it would have made a nice single. Anyone who likes melodic pop is probably going to get a kick out of both of the Tranquility albums.

In an effort to support the album Epic brought the band back to the States slotting them as the opening act for a slew of nationally known bands including David Bowie, The Eagles, J. Geils Band, Humble Pie, and even Yes.  Unfortunately those shows did nothing to help sales and Epic subsequently dropped the band from its recording roster. 

The band spent the next two years trying to break in the US.  In 1974 they signed with Island apparently recording what was intended to be a third LP, though all to emerge was an instantly obscure single, 'Born Again' b/w 'One Day Lady' (1974 Island catalog number WIP 6192). Dropped by Island, the band called it quits and the members scattered,  Francis became a sessions player, Bernie Hagley was briefly a member of Jonesy and then joined Vanity Fare, Leverton hooked up with Caravan,  Shaddick turned his talents to songwriting, enjoying a slew of hits with material like 'Physical' for Olivia Newton John.

1. Eagle Eye - 3:57
2. Can I See You - 5:44
3. Linda - 4:05
4. Whip Wheel - 5:17
5. The Driver's Engine - 3:41
6. Couldn't Possibly Be - 4:20
7. Nice And Easy - 3:17
8. Dear Oh Dear - 3:25
9. Silver - 7:23
10.The Tree - 1:09
All songs by Terry Shaddick exept track #3 by Tony Lukyn

The Tranquility
*Kevin Mccarthy - Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
*Terry Shaddick - Vocals, Lead, Acoustic Guitars
*Tony Lukyn - Electric, Acoustic Pianos, Clavinet, Vibes, Organ, Mellotron, Vocals
*Bernard Hagley - Bass, Flute
*Paul Francis - Drums
*Berkerley Wright - Lead Guitar, Vocals

1972  Tranquility - Tranquility (2004 remaster)

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Monday, May 28, 2018

Dreams ‎– Dreams / Imagine My Surprise (1970-71 us, incredible jazz fusion psych brass rock, 2010 double disc remaster)

Dreams existed between 1969 and 1972. They originally consisted of singer, guitarist and keyboards player Jeff Kent, bassist Doug Lubahn and drummer Mark Whittaker. Soon the trio became a septet with percussionist Angel Allende, John Abercrombie on guitar, trombonist Barry Rogers, Michael Brecker on tenor sax and Randy Brecker on trumpet joining them. Mark Whittaker departed and Billy Cobham took up the drum stool, and with the addition of Edward Vernon as singer and the departure of Angel Allende, the Dreams line up was complete. 

Their approach was interesting as well as novel, recording their albums 'live' and working on a 'traditional' method of making up horn arrangements to suit the songs while «recording instead of using formulized  arrangements scored for horns and rhythm , section. Musically their style varied between soul/pop and jazz rock as if their axis swayed between FM radio respect, cult appeal and Top 40 chart success. 

The principal difference between Dreams and most other brass infused bands was, according to their album sleeve notes, that they didn't work from written arrangements but rather worked them out 'Trad' or 'New Orleans style', playing whatever came into their heads and I waiting for something to gel. This was a great achievement coming from a mostly white a band - incorporating a link with traditional jazz forms in a modern setting.

Dreams soon became a popular live band in the New York and Chicago areas and headed to Los Angeles. There they played a battle of the bands between Dreams and ] Geils Band for a recording contract with Atlantic Records as the prize. The boisterous rhythm and blues-based J. Geils Band from Boston was signed to Atlantic but Dreams made their own reputation. There were eyewitness reports of Dreams knocking the audience out and changing musical perceptions. Dreams tore the place down and people's eyes opened at the compulsive Panamanian drummer Billy Cobham. 

After the Atlantic battle of the bands sessions, Dreams received a contract from CBS Records who signed them in 1970. They began work on their debut album, Dreams  (CBS US 30225), which was also issued in the ' UK (CBS 64203) and the band was represented on the 1971 compilation Together with New York City. For Dreams they selected Fred Weinberg as their producer, composer and sound engineer, whose work included albums for Eddie Palmieri, Tito Puente, La Lupe, Mongo Santamaria, Celia Cruz, Illustration (Alan Lorber's group), Little Anthony and many others. Phil Ramone, another highly respected producer and studio owner for whom Weinberg worked at the time at a studio named A & R in New York City, gave his blessings to Weinberg to record the Dreams IP at CBS Studios in New York City and complete the recordings at CBS Studios in Chicago.

Dreams was recorded mostly live in the studio and the track listing ran as follows; Devil Lady, 15 Miles To Provo, The Maryanne, Holli Be Home, Try Me, Dream Suite: Asset Stop/Jane/Crunchy Grenola and New York. All tracks were original compositions by Jeff Kent and Doug Lubahn. The album highlighted their talents for writing catchy jazz/pop/rock songs and the band's individual musical expertise. The album was recorded mostly live which added to the fresh spontaneous atmosphere of the recording.

Dreams featured a mix of catchy songs with great horn licks and impassioned vocals from Edward Vernon; while an accomplished debut album, the individual musicians were beginning to stylistically assert themselves at the time. John Abercrombie's brief but eclectic guitar breaks on Devil Lady offers a hint of what was to come in his own later recordings, and Randy Brecker's trumpet and flugelhorn fills embellish pieces like Holli Be Home and 15 Miles To Provo very nicely. While five conventional soul/jazz/ rock songs occupied side one, the second side was dominated by an extended epic composition typical of the time. The three part and fourteen minute long Dream Suite was an extended composition featuring stylistically outstanding work from Billy Cobham showing his powerful style on the drum kit and contributing an unbelievable, energetic drum solo, and with saxophonist Michael Brecker excelling on Asset Stop. 

At the time Michael and Randy Brecker were barely out of their teens and had a glittering career before them. Billy Cobham's playing caught the attention of John McLaughlin and later led to his gig with the Mahavishnu Orchestra, and John Abercrombie would make a considerable career as a soloist on ECM Records. While most of the players had jazz backgrounds, the music is an eclection of jazz, rock, and pop with some of the tracks harkening to folk roots as well. Recorded mostly live to recapture the band's energetic performances, Dreams was an accurate reflection of the open-minded musical attitude that existed at the time, and takes the sophisticated and more loosely structured horn charts and solos of jazz and places them over a rock oriented rhythm section. The results are always listenable, never boring, and often surprising. All of the pieces contain musical subtleties that make this recording special. Certainly, many of the ideas expressed here were well above those expressed by Chicago and BS’n’T,  yet the music is just as accessible and has its own distinctive character.

Dreams' second album Imagine my Surprise was issued in 1971 in the US (CBS US 30960). A British and European release came in early 1972 with the catalogue number of CBS 64597. Tracks featured mostly original material by Jeff Kent and Doug Lubahn including Calico Baby, Why Can't I Find A Home, Child Of Wisdom, Just Be Ourselves, I Can't Hear You, Here She Comes Now, Don't Cry and My Lady, plus a cover of Traffic's Medicated Goo as featured on their live album Welcome to the Canteen. The song was composed by Steve Winwood and producer Jimmy Miller, who would later work with The Rolling Stones. Calico Baby was featured on The Music People sampler issued by CBS in April 1972 on the American and European markets. Imagine My Surprise retained the Brecker brothers, Billy Cobham, Barry Rogers and Edward Vernon from the line up that recorded Dreams. Bob Mann on guitars, flugelhorn and vocals replaced John Abercrombie. Jeff Kent (keyboards] was replaced by Don Grolnick, and Will Lee [bass) replaced Doug Lubahn, who left the band to tour with the reformed Doors.

Album producer Steve Cropper contributed additional guitar on Calico Baby and superb background vocals on Don't Cry My Lady and Child Of Wisdom. Original percussionist Angel Allende played conga drums on Calico Baby and Toni Torrence featured on background vocals on Find A Home. Imagine My Surprise featured musicianship of incomparable beauty and a master class in jazz composition. Just Be Ourselves had a vocal by bassist Will Lee, and suggested a haunting tribute to the memory of its composer Don Grolnick. Imagine My Surprise was recorded in Memphis and produced by Steve Cropper who, according to The Music People, was "a man who had some previous experience working with horn bands. Steve was there when the 'Memphis Sound' was born -and he's still there". With the fluidity of the line up, the album moves easily from soul to jazz rock and back again. 

According to Bob Palmer's review of Imagine My Surprise: "Every note is in place, every phrase means something, the flashes and energy are all directed and channelled. Yet the band retains both its fire and sophistication... music people can't avoid dancing to." While Imagine My Surprise got some favourable reviews and advanced Dreams' cause somewhat, the writing was on the wall for horn-based rock bands with the horn driven style of jazz-rock rapidly turning in on its axis and losing commercial popularity.

Record companies were losing patience as the pretenders to the BS’n’T and Chicago thrones weren't returning interest. After the release of their second album, Imagine My
Surprise, Dreams disbanded. In 1972 when Dreams bit the dust, jazz fusion was taking a new route away from horns to smaller, tighter groupings with individual virtuosos such as John McLaughlin and Chick Corea heading new bands made up of gifted soloists in Mahavishnu Orchestra and Return To Forever respectively. Here the focus was on instrumental flash and rock-inclined pyrotechnics within a jazz framework, combined with strong spiritual inclinations as practiced by McLaughlin and Corea with their individual commitments to Eastern philosophy and the Church of Scientology. 

In conclusion, Dreams' ambitious and highly vibrant style of Jazz Rock Fusion neatly contrasts the ethereal nature of their name. Dreams and Imagine My Surprise capture an exciting time when new elements of jazz, soul, rock and funk were equally handled and produced music unique in its originality. Dreams deserve to be more than a footnote to beginning the careers of Billy Cobham, John Abercrombie and the Brecker Brothers among others. With their distinctive jazz/rock/funk crossovers encompassing commerciality and musical dexterity, for a brief while they added some spice of their own to the jazz rock recipe book.
by John O'Regan, March 2010

Disc 1 Dreams 1970
1. Devil Lady (Doug Lubahn, Jeff Kent) - 3:36
2. 15 Miles To Provo (Doug Lubahn) - 3:03
3. The Maryanne (Doug Lubahn) - 2:26
4. Holli Be Home (Jeff Kent) - 5:43
5. Try Me (Jeff Kent) - 5:10
6. Dream Suite (Jeff Kent, Doug Lubahn, Barry Rogers, Michael Brecker, Randy Brecker) - 15:21
7. New York (Jeff Kent) - 4:57

Disc 2 Imagine My Surprise 1971
1. Calico Baby (Doug Lubahn, Jeff Kent) - 3:21
2. Why Can't I Find A Home (Randy Brecker) - 3:44
3. Child Of Wisdom (Jerry Friedman) - 5:23
4. Just Be Ourselves (Don Grolnick) - 4:36
5. I Can't Hear You (Carole King, Gerry Goffin) - 3:50
6. Here She Comes Now (Lou Rogers) - 4:06
7. Don't Cry My Lady (Jerry Friedman) - 3:44
8. Medicated Goo (Steve Winwood) - 4:05
9. Imagine My Suprise (Randy Brecker) - 7:58

1970 Dreams
*Michael Brecker - Tenor Sax, Flute
*Randy Brecker - Trumpet, Flugelhorn
*Bill Cobham Jr. - Drums, Percussion
*Jeff Kent - Keyboards, Guitar, Vocals
*Doug Lubahn - Bass, Vocals
*Barry Rogers - Trombone, Wagner Tuba
*Edward Vernon - Lead Vocals
*John Abercrombie - Lead Guitar

1971 Imagine My Surprise
*Bob Mann - Guitars, Flugelhorn, Vocals
*Edward Vernon - Lead Vocals
*Will Lee - Bass, Vocals
*Mike Brecker - Tenor, Soprano Saxes, Flute
*Barry Rogers - Trombone, Weinstein Tuba, Alto Horn, Vocals
*Don Grolnick - Keyboards, Vocals
*Randy Brecker - Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Vocals
*Billy Cobham - Drums, Percussion

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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Richie Havens - Alarm Clock (1971 us, gorgeous folk psych with raga sparkles, 2002 remaster)

Richie Havens had been building a solid career as a Greenwich Village folk musician with a well-received collection of albums to his credit (including the landmark Mixed Bag) when he performed at Woodstock and had his life changed. He attained legendary status with his three-hour opening performance. His warm, burly vocals bring great humanity to everything he sings, and his open-tuned guitar strumming lends a simplicity that makes his music immediately accessible to all. 

In the years after Woodstock, Havens maintained his momentum, finally scoring a top 20 hit in 1971 with a version of George Harrison's "Here Comes the Sun." (That cover resulted in his best-selling album, 1971's Alarm Clock.) He continued recording for a series of other labels, including A&M, and even branched out into acting, playing Othello in the rock musical Catch My Soul in 1974 and appearing in the 1977 Richard Pryor film Greased Lightning. Though his record sales dimmed, his passion for politics and music didn't. In 1978, he scored a Number One hit in Israel with "Shalom, Salaam Aleichum," written in response to watching Anwar Sadat visit Jerusalem.

Havens continued to record and tour, and he also survived by singing jingles for Amtrak (the famous "Something about a train . . . " line) and McDonald's (which used his "Here Comes the Sun"). In recent years, Havens was rediscovered by a new generation. His collaboration with Groove Armada, "Hands of Time," appeared on the soundtrack of the 2004 Tom Cruise film Collateral. He also published  a memoir, They Can't Hide Us Anymore, in 2000 and released his final album, Nobody Left to Crown, in 2008. A public memorial is in the works. 

Richie Havens died of a heart attack on Monday, April 22, 2013. He was 72 and was living in Jersey City, New Jersey.
by David Browne

1. Here Comes The Sun (George Harrison) - 3:48
2. To Give All Your Love Away - 2:58
3. Younger Men Grow Older (Richie Havens, Mark Roth) - 4:01
4. Girls Don't Run Away - 4:21
5. End Of The Seasons (Richie Havens, Mark Roth, Bob Margouleff) - 3:39
6. Some Will Wait - 2:40
7. Patient Lady - 4:48
8. Missing Train - 4:59
9. Alarm Clock (Richie Havens, Mark Roth) - 7:17
All songs by Richie Havens where stated

*Richie Havens - Vocals, Guitar, Percussion, Piano
*Paul Williams - Lead Guitar
*Eric Oxendine - Bass
*Joe Price - Conga Drums
*Bill Keith - Steel Guitar
*Rick Derringer - Electric Guitar
*Daniel Ben Zebulon - Conga Drums
*Alan Hand - Piano
*Bill Lavorgna - Drums
*Dennis Persich - Electric Guitar
*Buzz Linhardt - Vibes
*Warren Bernhardt - Organ
*Bill Shepherd - String Arrangement

1967  Richie Havens - Mixed Bag
1970  Richie Havens - Stonehenge (2001 remaster) 

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Friday, May 18, 2018

Stack Waddy - The Complete Works (1970-72 uk, outstanding hard dirty psych blues 'n roll, 2017 three Mini LP remaster)

The complete Dandelion recordings of Peel favourites Stackwaddy, featuring their two albums Stackwaddy and Bugger Off, plus a bonus disc entitled Hunt The Stag that includes outtakes and a live BBC session from 1971….Ian Canty hears the primal rumble of the band that were pretty much Proto-everything……

Who the hell were Stack Waddy? Well they were a bunch hard drinking, rough, tough men from the home of Frank Sidebottom, Timperley Manchester, driven to get on stage as sozzled as possible and create complete and utter chaos! They were John Peel favourites, so much so that he signed them to his Dandelion Records imprint when no-one else would touch them, mainly because they had alienated every interested record company with their outrageous behaviour. All this was whilst the Fall were at school/toddlers/hadn’t been born yet (delete where applicable).

A legendary band that had a Punk attitude years before Punk itself, eruditely described as “the link between the Pink Fairies and Dr Feelgood”, which feels just about right. Unlike most bands of the time Stack Waddy espoused short, sharp and brutal R & B attacks the likes of which had only been seen before in the work of 60s hoodlums like the Pretty Things, Downliners Sect and the more unhinged of the US garage combos.

Coming together at the end of the 60s with the merging of a couple of local Hard Rock/Blues outfits, they featured incomparable John Knail on vocals (reportedly at the time on the run from all manner of folk, including the Old Bill), Stuart Barnham on bass, guitarist Mick Stott and with Steve Revell bringing up the rear on drums (replaced on the second LP by John Groom). The pivotal encounter with Peel came after the band’s performance at the Buxton Blues Festival. Though having a little in common with the heavy underground bands in trendy London, Stack Waddy more wished for a return to the fast, immediate power of a decade previous rather than protest.

To this end they initially drew on the very Rhythm and Blues that had influenced the Stones and the Beatles way back in the 60s. They also infused their performances with aggression, typically wry Manc humour and lots and lots and lots of booze. The band discovered Beefheart through Peel and on realising that Knail’s vocals were similar to the Captain’s, they became one of the very few bands to cover the Magic Band’s material pre-Punk.

After penning a deal with Peel’s Dandelion Records (and suitably impressing their American Warner Brothers overlords at a label showcase by drinking vast quantities of alcohol before arriving on stage worse for wear. This lead to John Knail urinated on the dais, leading to a mass exit of said bigwigs), they set about recording their first record, a single pairing Elias McDaniels’ Roadrunner and their own composition Kentucky. Though that didn’t make much of an impact an LP was called for and the self-titled platter duly arrived in February 1971.

Curiously playing against type on this first album, the guitar here is pretty restrained, more of a ghostly treble atop thudding drums which dominate while the bass picks out the melody. I don’t know if this was by accident or design, but it really works well and marks the record out from the offerings of many “heavy” bands of the time. What a raw shock it must have been for any mellow Hippies encountering this loud, joyfully alive and irresponsible power pack!

As is alluded to in the sleeve notes, in the Proggy times this record was released into, doing cover versions was actively sneered at (even if your own material was arrant rubbish). This did not bother Stack Waddy one bit – their relish in taking things back (or forward, given a modern perspective) to simpler, more hard hitting times meant they attacked these 60s staples for all they were worth, regardless of any trend for virtuosos etc.

So Stack Waddy the album commenced with a high energy take of Roadrunner (also recorded by the Pretty Things, whose hell-for-leather attitude I’m guessing was a big influence on the Waddy), effectively setting out their stall early on. Though there are more covers (they even stomp all over Jethro Tull’s Love Song), their own material was not without merit. Mothballs is a great piece of raw and tense Punk Blues and Kentucky is not far away from what Wilko and Co would come up with in Canvey Island a few years down the line.

On the good Captain’s Sure ‘Nuff Yes I Do Knail’s vocals really do sound like Van Vilet’s and even on Bo Diddley’s Bring It To Jerome they bear a resemblance. The band for their part grind out a tough, Funky backing on this one and on Mystic Eyes they really take off on the old Them stormer. It showed the Garage that was in their genes effectively and in fact a recut of this one (which is included on disc 3) was considered for the a-side of a prospective single.

Despite its crude but powerful quality, the LP did not sell well. Nevertheless Peel was keen to get a follow up in the can and, after failing initially (see below), they eventually managed to cut that second platter. Even so Barham notes that they never really caught the magic of Stack Waddy, due to them “making it up as they went along” in the studio. Still it was a good try.

Bugger Off, the second Stack Waddy album, has one of my favourite album covers ever. It sums up the early 70s and the uncompromising image that the band had to a T, a view of the drummer frozen in mid-flight, just about to unleash a lethal assault on his kit. Overseeing this is a lairy and hairy looking singer leaning back with the mike stand a la Joey Ramone and just peering out from the murk, a lank haired guitar-toting confederate. This perfect representation of Stack Waddy is followed up fittingly by a no-holds barred, super-heavy version of the Pretty Things classic Rosalyn, a textbook example of Thug Rock. The guitar is far more brutal and simple on this second LP, only occasionally settling back in the manner of the first and here it works marvellously.

Though again the album is perhaps a bit too heavy on covers, they’re all imbued with the undeniable Waddy stomp, plus always displaying their in-built irreverence. Their own Meat Pies ‘Ave Come But The Band’s Not Here Yet, based on a remark overheard at club gig, shows their ready wit. The Beefheart link was stressed again with the cover of the Zappa collaboration Willie The Pimp and their tough as (k)nails version of the Kinks You Really Got Me predated the Hammersmith Gorillas similar effort, matching it in the “too damn early” Proto-Punk stakes. It is a shock hearing them try the old Astrud Gilberto/Stan Getz chestnut The Girl From Ipanema, but of course after a gentle start it hurtles downhill in a most in-PC way.

Shortly after Bugger Off was issued the band split up, having not made much headway in the era of Supergroups and Prog Rock (but they did make a rollicking noise). Since that times there have been various reunions along the way, with one of the most recent being in 2007 and poor quality bootlegs which didn’t portray the band half as well as on the BBC live recording featured here.

Hunt The Stag brings together all the tracks previously issued as extras on the Cherry Red 2007 editions of Stack Waddy and Bugger Off. So no new material if you own both of those already. This breaks down into the tracks demoed for the second album, but were ultimately not used (deemed “too slick” by Peel and his sidekick Clive Selwood), a BBC In Concert session from 1971 and the Dandelion compilation item Mama Keep Your Big Mouth Shut (yet another one the Pretty Things had tackled as well) . Housed in a great mini-sleeve with Waddy in full live flow, it doesn’t disappoint in comparison to the albums proper.

The live selection gives you a good idea what the band were all about in concert – thunderous, jokey and beer-soaked and this offering unsurprisingly comes with a heartfelt Peel intro and outro. The bizarrely named Jack & Jill Meet Blind Pugh On The Spot is a highlight, part Blues Jam before splitting into a speedy bit of Proto-Punk Rock (it’s possible they were two songs melded together).

Of the studio material, the title track is a nice piece of heavy-handed Psych/Punk/Blues and Here Comes The Glimmer Man has real atmosphere, restrained power – it really is great, building from a quiet long run into mayhem. The compilation album track Mama Keep Your Big Mouth Shut is ferocious (it also features in the live set) and the punchy old Mod number Leavin’ Here is given an energetic re-boot, years before Motorhead did a similar job. Along with an even better version of Mystic Eyes it suggests Peel and his cohorts misjudged in junking this session, but it’s all here for you to enjoy now.

Though it would have been nice to see the 1972 Peel session included, this new slim pack boxset has some great sleeve notes from Nigel Cross with telling and humourous contributions from band founder Stuart Barnham. Whilst there isn’t anything in the way of new material unearthed here, it is good to have the albums each on their own individual disc, as they were originally heard. Stack Waddy were unheralded at the time but their  which played a part in paving the way for Dr Feelgood and even the Pistols. They are well worth hearing again.
by Ian Canty

Disc 1 Stack Waddy
1. Road Runner (Ellas McDaniel) - 3:27
2. Bring It To Jerome (Jerome Green) - 5:19
3. Mothballs (John Knail, Mick Stott, Steve Revell, Stuart Banham) - 3:37
4. Sure 'Nuff 'N' Yes I Do (Don Van Vliet, Herb Bermann) - 2:30
5. Love Story (Ian Anderson) - 2:19
6. Susie Q (Dale Hawkins, Eleanor Broadwater, Stanley Lewis) - 2:28
7. Country Line Special (Cyril Davies) - 3:56
8. Rolling Stone (McKinley Morganfield) - 3:26
9. Mystic Eyes (Van Morrison) - 6:06
10.Kentucky (John Knail, Mick Stott, Steve Revell, Stuart Banham) - 2:43

Disc 2 Bugger Off !
1. Rosalyn (Bill Farley, Jimmy Duncan) - 2:27
2. Willie The Pimp (Frank Zappa) - 3:58
3. Hochie Coochie Man (Willie Dixon) - 4:21
4. It's All Over Now (Bobby Womack, Shirley Womack) - 3:17
5. Several Yards (Foxtrot) (J. Groom, John Knail, Mick Stott, Stuart Banham) - 5:50
6. You Really Got Me (Ray Davies) - 2:46
7. I'm A Lover Not A Fighter (Joseph Delton Miller) - 2:10
8. Meat Pies 'Ave Come But Band's Not Here Yet (J. Groom, John Knail, Mick Stott, Stuart Banham) - 5:02
9. It Ain't Easy (Unknown) - 3:47
10.Long Tall Shorty (Mainly) (Don Covay, Herb Abramson) - 3:20
11.Repossession Boogie (J. Groom, John Knail, Mick Stott, Stuart Banham) - 5:34
12.Girl From Ipanema (Antonio Carlos Jobim, Norman Gimbel, Vinicius De Moraes) - 1:32

Disc 3 Hunt The Stag
1. With One Leap Dan Was By Her Side, 'Muriel' He Breathed - 4:20
2. Ginny Jo - 2:49
3. Hunt The Stag - 2:45
4. Mystic Eyes (Alternative Version) (Van Morrison) - 3:52
5. (Almost) Milk Cow Booze - 4:12
6. Leavin' Here (Brian Holland, Edward Holland, Jr., Lamont Dozier) - 2:58
7. I'm A Lover Not A Fighter (Joseph Delton Miller) - 2:38
8. Here Comes The Glimmer Man - 5:15
9. Nadine (Chuck Berry) - 3:53
10.Mama Keep Your Big Mouth Shut (Ellas McDaniel) - 5:19
11.Repossession Boogie - 6:29
12.Lawdy Miss Clawdy...Meets Sooty 'N Sweep (Lloyd Price) - 3:31
13.Jack And Jill Meet Blind Pugh On The Spot - 10:56
14.Mama Keep Your Big Mouth Shut (Ellas McDaniel) - 3:43
All songs by John Knail, Mick Stott, Steve Revell, Stuart Banham except where stated
Tracks 1-2 recorded November 20th 1970 at Marquee Studios
Tracks 3-10 recorded May 1971 at Marquee Studios
Tracks 10-13 recorded live at the Paris theatre July 22nd 1971 and broadcast by the BBC on September 12th 1971.
Track 14 originally released 1972

Stack Waddy
*John Knail - Vocals, Harmonica
*Steve Revell - Drums, Percussion
*Mick Stott - Electric Guitar
*Stuart Banham - Bass Guitar

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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Rare Earth - Midnight Lady / Band Together (1976/78 us, awesome funky soul groovy brass rock, 2017 digipak remaster)

In 1974, original drummer/vocalist Peter Hoorlebeke (Rivera) left Rare Earth to record with his new group H.U.B.  Gil Bridges and the remainder of the band used session musicians to record two more albums, “Back To Earth” and “Midnight Lady” , before the Rare Earth label was closed down in 1977. 

Follow up to "Back to Earth" and featuring Jerry La Croix on vocals, this is actually a pleasant listen. With Norman Whitfield back in the Producer's seat he's used his own songs rather than the band's.The only non-Whitfield song, "Its A Natural" penned by La Croix, which opens the album, is a commendable effort. 

In 1978 Rare Earth (with the 1972 line-up) was back in the studio to record “Band Together”.  The first single was “Warm Ride”.  The song had been written by the Bee Gees who were the hottest act in the world following the success of Saturday Night Fever and its mega-hit soundtrack.  “Warm Ride” was Rare Earth’s first Top 40 single in six years and would be their final hit.

Midnight Lady 1976 
1. It's A Natural (Jerry LaCroix) - 4:00
2. Finger Lickin' Good (Norman Whitefield) - 3:25
3. He Who Picks A Rose (Norman Whitefield, Eddie Holland, Earl Smiley) - 4:50
4. Do It Right (Norman Whitefield) - 6:26
5. Ain't No Sunshine Since You've Been Gone (Cornelius Grant, Norman Whitfield, Sylvia Moy) - 3:00
6. Midnight Lady (Norman Whitefield) - 4:23
7. Wine Women And Song (Norman Whitefield) - 10:51
Band Together 1978
8. Warm Ride (Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb, Robin Gibb) - 4:01
9. You (Ivy Hunter, Jack Goga, Jeffrey Bowen) - 3:31
10.Love Is What You Get (Bob Siller, Chuck Smith, Don Dunn) - 2:52
11.Love Do Me Right (Lenny Macaluso) - 4:27
12.Dreamer (Jerry Zaremba) - 4:08
13.Maybe The Magic (Curly Smith, Mark Olson) - 3:04
14.Love Music (Brian Potter, Dennis Lambert) - 4:41
15.Rock 'N' Roll Man (John Ryan, Mark Olson, Peter Hoorelbeke, Ray Monette) - 3:58
16.Mota Molata (John Ryan, Mark Olson, Peter Hoorelbeke, Ray Monette) - 4:28

Rare Earth
Midnight Lady 1976
*Gil Bridges - Percussion
*Ray Monette – Guitar, Vocals
*Jessica Smith - Vocals
*Jerry LaCroix - Vocals
*Paul Warren – Guitar, Vocals
*Julia Tillman Waters - Vocals
*Maxine Willard Waters - Vocals
*Frank Westbrook – Keyboards
*Reggie McBride - Bass
Band Together 1978
*Gil Bridges – Flute, Sax, Percussion, Vocals
*Eddie Guzman - Percussion
*Ray Monette - Guitar
*Mark Olson – Keyboards, Harmonica, Vocals
*Pete Rivera – Drums, Percussion, Vocals
*Mike Urso – Bass, Vocals

1968  Dreams/Answers (2017 audiophile remaster)
1969-74  Fill Your Head (three cds box set, five studio albums plus outtakes and alternative versions)
1971  One World  (2015 audiophile remaster)
1971  Rare Earth - In Concert (2017 Audiophile) 
1974  Live In Chicago (2014 audiophile remaster)

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