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Monday, April 23, 2018

Bobby Lance - First Peace / Rollin' Man (1971-72 us, marvelous soul psych tinged classic rock, 2015 remaster)

Check the liner notes of an album by an artist that doesn’t primarily write their own material, and the credits will be teeming with the names of the people responsible for penning the songs. Sometimes these names will be familiar: fellow performers, star producers, or the rare songwriter or writing team that has earned enough hits to be well-known in their own right. Much of the time, however, the names will be more obscure, listing writers who may have worked steadily for years turning out album tracks and B-sides, or recording with minor artists rather than stars. If they’re very lucky, they might even manage to punctuate their career with a hit or two.

Such is the case of Bobby Lance, a Brooklyn native who started writing songs with his older sister Fran Robins (17 years his senior) while still a teenager in the late ’50s. Most of their material was doled out to little-known doo-wop and girl group outfits, but the duo scored big when Aretha Franklin took their song “The House That Jack Built” to the Top 10 on both the pop and R&B charts in 1968. The hit granted Lance the opportunity to record two albums for Atlantic Records, 1971’s First Peace (released on the Cotillion imprint) and 1972’s Rollin’ Man, both now compiled onto a single disc and released on CD for the first time by Real Gone Music.

Lance’s debut, 1971’s First Peace, was made with the full backing of the Atlantic machine, featuring a lineup of musicians familiar to anyone who’s studied the liner notes of the label’s classic soul albums of the era. The Swampers, house band for Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, serves as Lance’s core group, while legendary saxophonist King Curtis leads the horn section, and the gospel group the Sweet Inspirations provides the backing vocals. Lance, for his part, leads with a gutsy, Southern-inflected voice of surprising range and intensity, well-suited for the soulful ballads and bluesy rockers comprising the album.

“More Than Enough Rain” is by far the best-known song on either of Lance’s LPs, due to the rumor that Duane Allman plays slide guitar on the track. (Bill Kopp’s liner notes for this reissue presents it as fact, but it’s apparently still a source of debate for avid Allman Brothers fans.) The six-minute psych-blues rocker is a bit of an outlier, however. More typical of First Peace is opening track “Somebody Tell Me,” a mid-tempo R&B groover that mixes blues boilerplate (“My mama had me on a block of wood / in an old broken-down shack”) with vaguely hippie sentiments (“everybody helps each other, yeah”).

First Peace sometimes feels weighed down with Lance’s insistence on piling on the dramatics and “soulful” signifiers, but it’s also packed with enough gems to demonstrate why he managed to be in demand by not one, but two of the most important record labels of the era. (See below.) The underwritten melody line and tired “I’m a man, you can’t hold me down” lyrics of “Somewhere in Between” are more than made up for by its thundering, desperate chorus, which singlehandedly propels the song to the top of the pack. “One Turn You’re In One Turn You’re Out” and “Trouble is a Sometimes Thing” are radio-friendly ballads that could have been R&B hits (though perhaps in cover versions), while the moody atmosphere and tense arrangement of “Shake Down Blues” lends the song a directness largely lacking from rest of the album.

First Peace met with little success. At some point before its release, Lance had also managed to sign a songwriting contract with Motown Records. The legal wrangling between the two labels resulted in a decision that they would split the profits of Lance’s albums, and Atlantic had little interest in promoting a record in which it had only a limited financial stake. Rollin’ Man, released the following year, is far more stripped down, probably due to budgetary restrictions. Gone are the strings and horns, the Sweet Inspirations backing vocals, and Robins as his writing partner. Instead, Lance wrote all the tracks — nine on this album, shrunk down from the 11 on First Peace — and recorded them in New York with a four-piece rock band he had recruited on his own. Even the cover of his second album knocked a few superfluous letters from his name, billing him only as “B. Lance.”

Despite the cutbacks — or, more likely, because of them — the lean Rollin’ Man is the superior album, tamping down the previous album’s florid blue-eyed soulisms and focusing on a tighter rock groove. Lusty opener “Bar Room Sally” introduces Lance in a less self-serious mood; during the coda, he even provides the voice of “Sally” and kissy noises against a clattering, saloon-style piano. For all its goofiness, though, “Bar Room Sally” also sets the template for the level of songcraft throughout the album. Unlike First Peace, where even many of the stronger tracks seemed either underwritten or overly busy, epic rockers like “Something Unfinished” and “John the Rollin’ Man” are packed with hooks, but lean enough to keep them sharp and let them sink in.

Lance’s taste for grandeur hadn’t abated entirely, however, as testified by the lengthy instrumental solos on the eight-and-a-half-minute-long “Hot Wood and Coal,” and the expansive, Neil Diamondesque pop balladry of “Last Stop Change Hands” and “She Made Me a Man.” Yet the limitations of the recording process seem to have inspired Lance. While First Peace at times sounded like a songwriter’s demo tape — a song for Aretha, followed by a song for Clarence Carter — Rollin’ Man is fully committed to Lance’s personal blend of influences and interests. Ever the professional songwriter, however, there’s nothing on the album so personal or idiosyncratic that it couldn’t be covered by a band like Three Dog Night or Grand Funk Railroad. The one exception is album closer “Tribute to a Woman,” a delicate, relatively elliptical hymn that barely runs over a minute, yet contains more genuine feeling than First Peace‘s ode to ladykind, “Walkin’ on a Highway.”

Despite the fact that Lance found his groove, however, Rollin’ Man would prove to be his final album; like its predecessor, it foundered. Lance briefly continued to work as a songwriter for Atlantic, but the trouble he had caused for the label ensured his contract wasn’t renewed when it expired. The man who had worked in the music business since he was a teenager suddenly found himself locked out of the industry. Unlike many of his songwriting peers, however, Lance was lucky enough to leave behind a recorded legacy of his own. First Peace and Rollin’ Man aren’t perfect albums, but Lance’s talent shines throughout. Had he had as much of a head for legal matters and business as for songwriting and performing, it’s possible these albums wouldn’t be just cult curiosities, but the start of a fascinating career.
by Sally O'Rourke

1. Somebody Tell Me - 2:22
2. Somewhere In Between - 3:44
3. One Turn You're In One Turn You're Out - 4:12
4. More Than Enough Rain - 5:54
5. I May Not Have Enough Time - 3:12
6. It Can't Be Turned Around - 2:18
7. Brother's Keeper - 3:28
8. Trouble Is A Sometimes Thing - 3:49
9. Cold Wind Howling In My Heart - 3:39
10.Shake Down Blues - 3:11
11.Walkin' On A Highway - 5:07
12.Bar Room Sally - 4:20
13.Hot Wood And Coal - 8:26
14.Somewhat Unfinished - 3:33
15.She Made Me A Man - 2:30
16.John The Rollin' Man - 4:33
17.Last Stop Change Hands - 5:10
18.You Got To Rock Your Own - 3:12
19.He Played The Reals - 3:38
20.Tribute To A Woman - 1:18
All selections written by Bobby Lance except Tracks 1-11 co written with Fran Robins

*Bob Lance - Guitars, Horn Arrangements, Percussion, Piano, Producer, Vocals
*Barry Beckett - Keyboards
*Garnett Brown - Trombone
*Dick Bunn - Bass
*Leo Edwards - String Conductor
*Jimmy Evans - Drums, Acoustic Guitar, Percussion, Piano
*Roger Hawkins - Drums, Percussion
*Eddie Hinton - Guitars, Slide Guitar
*David Hood - Bass
*Mitch Kerper - Keyboards
*King Curtis - Horn Arrangements, Tenor Sax
*Trevor Lawrence - Baritone Sax, Tenor Sax
*Hubert Laws - Tenor Sax
*Kenny Mims - Guitars, Slide Guitar
*Joe Newman - Trumpet
*George Soulé - Piano
*The Sweet Inspirations - Vocals
*Richard Tee - Organ
*Frank Wess - Flute, Tenor Sax

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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Bernie Schwartz - The Wheel (1969 us, fantastic soulful blend of country folk and classic rock, 2016 edition)

Bernie Schwartz’s first classic single, Her Name Is Melody was released off Warner Brothers in late 1966 under the name Adrian Pride. This record is an excellent, early stab of raga rock that was perhaps too adventurous for pop audiences though its interesting to note that both Don and Phil Everly produced this fabulous single.

Even prior to this, Schwartz had been releasing obscure singles under the stage name Don Atello in 1963/1964. Around 1967/1968 Schwartz joined psychedelic pop band Comfortable Chair who released a solid lp in 1968. The Wheel, released in 1969 off Coburt/MGM was quite a departure from Schwartz’s earlier psych pop leanings. The Wheel is an excellent album, mixing hard rock, country-rock and folk-rock into something similar to Euphoria’s sole album or Neil Young’s Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. The Euphoria duo of Wesley Watt and Bill Lincoln actually appear on this disc and one can hear Watt’s wild fuzz guitar playing on Schwartz’s epic cover of Sunshine Woman. There are also a few more ace fuzz rockers in Follow Me and a brutally intense reading of Fred Neil’s Candy Man.

Everything about this album is on target from Schwartz’s superb vocals to the songwriting, production and tight musicianship. This is one of the best 60s albums never to make it onto cd (until now) without a doubt. The Wheel’s leadoff track, Where Can I Hide is a country folk-rocker with lyrics that deal with disillusionment, depression and escapism. It’s a brilliant track that had strong hit potential though its deep, world weary tone could have thrown off more than a few listeners. Another track with similar lyrical concerns is the awesome country-rocker Lost My Wings. It’s a classic of the genre with wonderful steel guitar playing and a righteous bridge that symbolizes everything that is great about 60s rock n roll. Other mellower tracks such as Randy Newman’s Think It’s Gonna Rain Today, Don’t Make It Bad, Can’t Go On, and the beautiful rural rocker Peace On Earth are just as good and grow on the listener with repeated plays.

Sometime after the release of the Wheel, Bernie Schwartz quit rock music to focus on writing psychology books. The Wheel is proof that there are many rare, great recordings that have not been reissued on cd. I found a near mint copy on ebay for about $25 and would recommend this lp to anyone with an interest in 60s rock.
by Jason Nardelli

1. Where Can I Hide (Morgan Cavett, Bernie Schwartz, Gene Gartin) - 3:57
2. Candy Man (Beverly "Ruby" Ross) - 3:00
3. Lost My Wings (Gene Gartin) - 3:04
4. Round And Round (Neil Young) - 3:45
5. Follow Me (Kenny Edwards) - 2:29
6. Peace On Earth (Bernie Schwartz) - 3:18
7. Sunshine Woman (Bill Lincoln, Wesley Watt) - 3:17
8. Don't Make It Bad (Bernie Schwartz) - 2:00
9. Think It's Gonna Rain Today (Randy Newman) - 2:32
10.Can't Go On (Bernie Schwartz) - 2:47

*Bernie Schwartz - Vocals
*Gene Garfin- Clarinet, Percussion, Vocals
*Grant Johnson - Keyboards
*Hamilton Wesley Watt - Vocals
*Kenny Edwards - Guitar, Bass
*Kevin Kelley - Drums
*William D. Lincoln - Bass, Vocals

Related Acts
1968  The Comfortable Chair - The Comfortable Chair
1969  Euphoria - A Gift From Euphoria 

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Saturday, April 14, 2018

The Moving Sidewalks - The Complete Moving Sidewalks (1966-68 us, superb garage psych bluesy rock, 2012 double disc remaster and expanded)

The Moving Sidewalks have been rendered down to a rock n’ roll footnote – they were the band that spawned young guitar sensation Billy Gibbons to eventually find fame and fortune with the power trio ZZ Top.  But, to view them as simply a springboard, is to miss out on some really great rock n’ roll. The Complete Collection – a two-disc set featuring their only proper album, Flash (1968),  plus singles, demos, and unreleased material.

The band’s greatest moment was “99th Floor,” a perfect blend of fuzzed-out blues and trippy psychedelia, which was picked up by Wand Records in 1967, and became a regional hit.  Nothing else the band delivered during that period connected, and they were dropped from the label and returned to their Texas roots. Those singles and outtakes (including several insane readings of “I Want To Hold Your Hand”) make up the bulk of disc two.  There’s also some sides of Gibbons’ earlier band, known as the Coachmen, but these aren’t terribly notable.

Then, something fortuitous happened – they had a chance to open for Jimi Hendrix for a pair of regional shows.  Gibbons and Hendrix became fast friends, spending hours together, trading licks and listening to music. Armed with a new lease on life, the band entered the studio to record a proper album. The result, Flash, is one of the great lost records of the psychedelic era.

“Flashback” opens the set – organ, guitar, and killer drumming, with Gibbons handling the vocals.  Halfway through, the song sounds like it ends in a sea of echo, with a snippet of their almost-hit “99 Floor” fading in for a brief moment.  Then, the song takes on an Indian flavor for the coda – pretty cool stuff.  “Scoun Da Be” has a bluesy groove, and is pretty similar to what ZZ Top would become, sans the organ.  It’s no surprise that Hendrix’ s influence crops up all over the place – near the end of “You Make Me Shake “ there’s distorted guitar that jumps from left to right.  “Pluto Sept. 31st” has a rhythm very similar to Jimi’s “Fire,” while Gibbons sings with a Hendrix coolness.  About 2 minutes in, the song totally breaks down into psychedelic trippiness, similar to “2000 Light Years From Home” from the Stones, strange laughing, a crazy backwards guitar solo, eventually finally returning to the original song structure.

But, nothing compares to the one-two punch which ends the album – “Eclipse” and “Reclipse” both aren’t really “songs,” so much as exercises in utter weirdness.  Bursts of distorted guitar are interlaced with odd talking, singing, and strange gibberish, not unlike the Beatles “Revolution #9,” except, this actually is pretty entertaining.

Unfortunately, tensions in the band would lead to their breakup even before the LP was released.  So, it’s no surprise that it never really registered on most people’s radar.  Which is indeed a shame – Flash is a very solid listen.

Certainly anyone interested in how ZZ Top got started should pick up The Complete Moving Sidewalks.  However, their lone album, Flash, can stand on it’s own, thank you very much.  Even if Billy Gibbons hadn’t gone on to fame and fortune, the Moving Sidewalks would still have been considered great.  
by Tony Peters

Dig deeper into 'The Complete Moving Sidewalks,' however, and its rarities-packed second disc nearly makes up for the dated trinkets scattered about their initial project. These stand-alone singles and demos boast none of the studio trickery that mars the 'Flash,' and that imbues these sides with a far more interesting, almost proto-punk feel.

There is an romping, unfettered energy about the organ-driven, hometown hit '99th Floor,' and a whiff of the biker bar-rattling blues rock to come on 'Help Me.' 'Need Me' draws a straight line from the sexualized purr of 'Wild Thing' to the psychedelic weirdo jangle of the 13th Floor Elevators' 'You're Gonna Miss Me.' They also get the Beatle-y pretensions utterly right on a wackadoo take on 'I Want To Hold Your Hand,' which echoes behind drummer Dan Mitchell's furious fills with an acid-laced wonder. The set then goes even further back, offering recordings of '99th Floor' and 'Stay Away' from an earlier, still more primitive Gibbons amalgam called the Coachmen.

Even so, these will likely be heard as nothing more than pleasant distractions for anyone other than ZZ Top completists -- or those hoping to familiarize themselves with Gibbons' work here before the Moving Sidewalks reunite for their first gig together in some 45 years, on March 2013, at the B.B. King Blues Club in New York.
by Nick Deriso

Disc 1 Flash 1968
1. Flashback (Steve Ames) - 4:50
2. Scoun Da Be (Tom Moore) - 2:08
3. You Make Me Shake (Billy Gibbons) - 3:05
4. You Don't Know The Life (Tom Moore) - 3:57
5. Pluto - Sept 31st (Billy Gibbons, Steve Ames) - 5:12
6. No Good To Cry (Al Anderson) - 4:39
7. Crimson Witch (Billy Gibbons) - 3:05
8. Joe Blues (Billy Gibbons, Tom Moore, Don Summers, Dan Mitchell) - 7:39
9. Eclipse (Billy Gibbons, Steve Ames) - 3:37
10.Reclipse (Billy Gibbons, Steve Ames) - 2:28

Disc 2 Non Lp Singles And Unreleased Tracks
1. 99th Floor (Billy Gibbons) - 2:16
2. What Are You Going To Do (Alternate Version) (Billy Gibbons) - 2:50
3. What Are You Going To Do (Billy Gibbons) - 2:31
4. Headin' Out (Instrumental) (Billy Gibbons, Tom Moore, Don Summers, Dan Mitchell) - 4:03
5. Need Me (Billy Gibbons) - 2:15
6. Every Night A New Surprise (Unreleased Version) (Steve Ames) - 2:31
7. Every Night A New Surprise (Steve Ames) - 2:57
8. I Want To Hold Your Hand (Unreleased Alternate Version) (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) - 3:10
9. I Want To Hold Your Hand (Alternate Take) (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) - 3:29
10.I Want To Hold Your Hand (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) - 3:27
11.Flashback (Unreleased Version) (Steve Ames) - 4:47
12.Stay Away (Dan Mitchell) - 2:09
13.Stay Away (Instrumental Version) (Dan Mitchell) - 2:28
14.99th Floor (Demo) (Billy Gibbons) - 2:12
15.Stay Away (Demo) (Dan Mitchell) - 2:16
16.99th Floor (Billy Gibbons) - 3:06
Tracks 12-16 as The Coachmen

The Moving Sidewalks
*Billy Gibbons - Vocals, Guitar
*Tom Moore - Keyboards
*Lanier Greig - Keyboards
*Don Summers  - Bass
*Dan Mitchell - Drums
*kelly Parker - Keyboards

The Coachmen
*Billy Gibbons - Vocals, Guitar
*kelly Parker - Keyboards
*Dan Mitchell - Drums
*Bob Bolton - Rhythm Guitar
*Mike Frazier - Bass

1968  The Moving Sidewalks - Flash
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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Wishbone Ash - Live Dates (1973 uk, outstanding solid guitar rock, 2013 double disc audiophile remaster)

'Live Dates' is the first live album by Wishbone Ash. Although it's not the same, as being in the first row of the seats, this record is an excellent display for the true concert. "The double album was released in December 1973, earlier that same year, in May, they released "Wishbone IV", the production handeled by the members of the band.  

Live Dates is a collection of their recorded performances in four different cities, at Fairfield Hall, Croydon, England (June 17th 1973), Portsmouth Guildhall, England (June 21st 1973), Reading University, England (June 23rd 1973) and Newcastle City Hall, England (June 24th 1973), the band exercise their repertoire with engaging quality - their exquisite performances drag you into the colourful world of these Brit rockers. You just wish you were there to witness their greatness in person.

Five songs from the setlist of these appearances were left out. Andy Powell's riff for '' The King Will Come '' opens the album and the powerful trilogy with 'Argus' songs continues with 'Warrior' and 'Throw Down The Sword'. The energy of Wishbone Ash on stage, the dynamics of authentic composition and the characteristic double guitar harmonies, offer an alloy of their first and best releases.

The album climbed up to No. 23 in the UK and became silver. In the United States - whose release included a number of photos from their tours, sold 100,000 copies in the first week of its release.

Disc 1
1. The King Will Come - 7:44
2. Warrior - 5:42
3. Throw Down The Sword - 5:57
4. Rock 'n Roll Widow - 6:08
5. Ballad Of The Beacon - 5:23
6. Baby, What You Want Me To Do (Jimmy Reed) - 7:48
All compositions by Andy Powell, Martin Turner, Ted Turner, Steve Upton except track #6
Disc 2
1. The Pilgrim - 9:15
2. Blowin' Free - 5:31
3. Jail Bait - 4:38
4. Lady Whiskey - 5:58
5. Phoenix - 17:23
All songs by Andy Powell, Martin Turner, Ted Turner, Steve Upton

The Wishbone Ash
*Andy Powell - Guitar, Vocals
*Ted Turner - Guitar, Vocals
*Martin Turner - Bass, Vocals
*Steve Upton - Drums

1970  Wishbone Ash - First Light (2007 release) 
1972-2001  Wishbone Ash - Tracks (2001 double disc release) 
1972  Wishbone Ash - Argus (2013 SHM remaster) 
1973  Wishbone Ash - Wishbone Four (2015 audiophile remaster) 
1974  Wishbone Ash - There's the Rub (2013 SHM remaster)

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Sunday, April 8, 2018

The Byrds - Ballad Of Easy Rider (1969 us, essential country folk psych rock, 2013 Blue Spec remaster and expanded)

Ballad of Easy Rider was one of two great Byrds’ albums to be released after the groups’ acknowledged heyday (Mr. Tambourine Man to Sweetheart of the Rodeo).  Released in 1969, before the excellent double set Untitled, Ballad of Easy Rider was a quiet, tranquil record with good songs and fine, professional performances.  By this time Clarence White was a full-time member and the group was looking to rebound from their prior release, the uneven Dr. Byrds and Mr. Hyde.

Ballad of Easy Rider kicked off with the title track, two minutes of beautiful countrified folk-rock that was notable for its stately orchestration.  This was definitely one of the latter group’s finest performances and legend has it that Dylan wrote half the lyrics down on a napkin (McGuinn naturally finished up the song).  Perhaps the album’s most popular track was the gospel influenced “Jesus Is Just Alright,” a fine pop number in it’s own right that reached the lower regions of the charts.  There were great covers of “Tulsa Country” (country-rock with excellent guitar work from Clarence White), “There Must Be Someone I Can Turn To” (a classic Gosdin Brothers‘ track), “Jack Tarr The Sailor” (a sea shanty folk-rocker with stinging electric guitar and banjo) and Woody Guthrie’s “Deportee.”    The story behind “There Must Be Someone I Can Turn To” is rather interesting. One night Vern Gosdin came home after playing a gig to find his house completely empty.  His wife and kids were gone along with the furniture and there was a goodbye note from his wife.  With this in mind, Vern sat down and wrote “There Must Be Someone I Can Turn To.”  The Byrds decided to include this number into their set because of its meaning and emotional power.

The originals on Ballad of Easy Rider are also impressive.  “Fido,” written by John York is a funky number about a stray dog.  There’s a brief drum solo and some strong guitar riffs, it’s unlike anything the Byrds would ever record.  “Oil In My Lamp” showcases a Clarence White vocal and is an excellent country rocker with a very laid back, rustic feel (with more great guitar riffs).  The best of the bunch is “Gunga Din,” a minor Byrds’ classic with Gene Parsons taking lead vocals and really great finger picking via Clarence White.  It almost seems as if Roger McGuinn relinquished his leadership role in the Byrds to let Clarence White take the spotlight on Ballad of Easy Rider. 

I think it’s wrong to assume the Byrds were dead after Sweetheart of the Rodeo.   Many fans suggest this version of the Byrds was less innovative and lacked a strong songwriter.  While the Byrds did write fine original material they were also known as great interpreters of folk and country material.  I must point out that these latter day Byrds were known to be a great live band (probably the best in the group’s history), featured one of the era’s finest guitarists in Clarence White, and released two classic country-rock records.  This is one of them.
by Jason Nardelli

The Byrds, — under the aegis of McGuinn the Survivor — are renowned for a rich, thickly-textured instrumental sound and equally distinctive vocal harmony. Every new Byrds album seems a continuation of the last; few surprises occur — instead, it's just like a visit with old friends.

Everyone who's written about the Byrds has detected, in retrospect at least, their all-along C&W soul; now McGuinn is denying that as mostly mythical, as having been merely the influence of Parsons and Hillman on the group. His claim won't wash for Dr. Byrds (cut after their departure), but it just might for Ballad of Easy Rider — because this album exhibits several cuts with a whole "new" sound.

Unfortunately, it's also only intermittently successful. The title cut, for example, adds strings (!); but it flows gently, sweet Dylan, brief and to the point, and McGuinn's voice truly makes you feel free. "Fido" comes next — "Bird Dog" revisited — with cowbells and conga rhythms and a definitely non-Byrds harmony (evidently McGuinn's no longer requiring the other voices to complement his). Followed then by old-time Byrds-gospel, "Oil in My Lamp." Jaunty guitar interplay, but a paltry song. McGuinn's feeling vocal and Clarence White's hick picking bring it all back home with "Tulsa County Blue": "I don't know just where I'll go . . ." A bizarre rendition of "Jack Tarr the Sailor" closes out the top side.

The bottom side's equally confused — strong and sure for "Jesus Is Just Alright" and a slow-as-molasses-or-Fudge "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue." For the latter, McGuinn contributes a much more inventive vocal than he did for Easy Rider (the film), and White's guitar spices and spruces everything up. 
by Ed Leimbacher, December 27, 1969

1. Ballad Of Easy Rider (Roger McGuinn, Bob Dylan) - 2:07
2. Fido (John York) - 2:44
3. Oil In My Lamp (Traditional) - 3:17
4. Tulsa County (Pamela Polland) - 2:53
5. Jack Tarr The Sailor (Traditional) - 3:35
6. Jesus Is Just Alright (Arthur Reynolds) - 2:14
7. It's All Over Now, Baby Blue (Bob Dylan) - 4:57
8. There Must Be Someone (I Can Turn To) (Vern Gosdin, Cathy Gosdin, Rex Gosdin) - 3:34
9. Gunga Din (Gene Parsons) - 3:06
10.Deportee (Plane Wreck At Los Gatos) (Woody Guthrie, Martin Hoffman) - 3:50
11.Armstrong, Aldrin And Collins (Zeke Manners, Scott Seely) - 1:45
12.Ballad Of Easy Rider (Roger McGuinn, Bob Dylan) - 1:44
13.Oil In My Lamp (Traditional) - 3:16
14.Wasn't Born To Follow (Gerry Goffin, Carole King) - 2:06
15.Jesus Is Just Alright (Arthur Reynolds) - 2:14
16.It's All Over Now, Baby Blue (Bob Dylan) - 5:00
17.Ballad Of Easy Rider (Roger McGuinn, Bob Dylan) - 2:30
18.Oil In My Lamp (Traditional) - 2:05
19.Build It Up (Clarence White, Gene Parsons) - 2:39
20.Way Behind The Sun (Traditional) - 3:00
21.Fiddler A Dram (Traditional) - 3:15
22.Tulsa County (Pamela Polland) - 3:42
23.Mae Jean Goes To Hollywood (Jackson Browne) - 2:48
24.Fido (John York) - 2:52
25.Ballad Of Easy Rider (Roger McGuinn, Bob Dylan) - 1:39
Bonus Tracks 12-25

The Byrds
*Roger McGuinn - Guitar, Vocals, Moog Synthesizer, Banjo
*Clarence White - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*John York - Electric Bass, Vocals
*Gene Parsons - Drums, Guitar, Banjo, Vocals
*Byron Berline - Fiddle
*Glen D. Hardin - Organ
*Terry Melcher - Vocals

1964  The Byrds - Preflyte (2012 Edition)
1968  The Byrds - Sweetheart Of The Rodeo  (Double Disc Set)
1969  The Byrds - Live At Fillmore
1971  The Byrds - Live At Royal Albert Hall
1971  The Byrds - Farther Along (Blu Spec 2014 extra tracks release)
1971  The Byrds - Byrdmaniax (2013 Japan Blu Spec edition)
1973  Byrds - Byrds (2004 issue)
Related Acts
1973  Roger McGuinn - Roger McGuinn (2013 Edition)
1975  Roger McGuinn And Band - Roger McGuinn And Band (2004 extra tracks remaster)
1976  Roger McGuinn - Cardiff Rose (2013 edition)
1979  McGuinn, Clark And Hillman (2014 Japan SHM Remaster)
1979-80  McGuinn Clark Hillman - The Capitol Collection (2007 double disc set)
1967  Gene Clark - Echoes
1968-69  Dillard And Clark - Fantastic Expedition / Through The Morning, Through The Night
1971  Gene Clark - White Light
1972  Gene Clark - Roadmaster  (2011 Edition)
1976  Chris Hillman - Slippin' Away (2002 reissue)
1971-73 Manassas - Pieces (2009 release)
1972  Stephen Stills - Manassas (2006 HDCD)  
1973  Stephen Stills And Manassas - Down the Road (Japan issue)

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Thursday, April 5, 2018

Elyse - Elyse (1968 canada, brilliant folk psych rock, 2000 reissue)

Elyse Weinberg was born in Canada and, after making small waves on the Toronto folk scene in the 1960s (the same place and time as such legendary names as Neil Young and Joni Mitchell), moved to Los Angeles and scored a deal with Bill Cosby's Tetragrammaton Records, a deal helped along from a connection to another star of the time, Mama Cass. Working with a session band -- Touch -- Weinberg soon recorded her debut album, under the moniker (and title) Elyse. A folk-pop record with flourishes of medieval folk and psychedelia -- a pretty standard mix at that point of that particular decade -- Elyse was a minor hit, placing well within the Top 40. Weinberg began hitting the Los Angeles folk circuit, playing shows at such well-known venues as the Troubadour, and even landed an appearance on The Tonight Show on NBC. 
by Chris True

As an enthusiastic record collector, I often find myself searching through stacks of records at thrift stores and yard sales, always hoping to come across the "holy grail", some amazing psychedelic record from the late 1960's by some long forgotten obscure artist. Over the years, this "holy grail" had eluded me, until one day in 1999, while on a cross country trip, I was rummaging through a box of records in a thrift store in Missoula, Montana and came across a record cover featuring a beautiful and strange drawing of a knight kneeling beside a maiden on their deathbed, with a dragon watching over her. The title simply said "Elyse", and the price was one dollar. I felt compelled to buy it, and when I got home and gave it a listen, I knew I had found my "holy grail".

The album was a mixture of pastoral folk/rock, tripped out psychedelia, and orchestrated strings and horns in the style of the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's..." album. What really blew me away was the singing. Elyse's voice manages to be very pretty and melodic, while also sounding very desperate and ragged, quivering and shaking through songs brimming with a sense of impending doom. Scary and magical stuff. Highlights include "John Velveteen", an incredibly moving and tragic narrative about a knight watching his lovely maiden die (this is the song portrayed by the cover art), a heart wrenching cover of Bert Jansch's "Deed I Do", and the acid drenched, sound effect laden freakout of "Iron Works". Released in 1968, "Elyse" actually received much critical acclaim, and while not a commercial hit, sold fairly well, even prompting an appearance on Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show".

Two more albums were recorded but never released. Included on this CD reissue are two songs from this era, one of which, "Houses", features Neil Young wielding his distinctively ripping guitar sound. Elyse grew up and got her start performing in Toronto alongside friends like Young and Joni Mitchell. She later moved to Los Angeles where she recorded "Elyse", and has since lived in London, New Mexico, and Ashland, Oregon where she currently lives. She still writes and plans to record an album of new material in the near future. I hope you all enjoy this magical and wonderful album, a true lost classic, and one of the best albums of the 1960's or any other time! Thanks to Laura Carter for the layout and Derek Almstead, who re-mastered directly from vinyl, since the masters had been lost.
by Andrew Rieger, December 2000

1. Last Ditch Protocol (Cynthia Friedland, Elyse Weinberg) - 2:58
2. Deed I Do (Bert Jansch) - 2:59
3. Iron Works (Elyse Weinberg, Maureen Titcomb) - 1:57
4. Spirit Of The Letter - 2:28
5. Here In My Heart (Underneath The Spreading Chestnut Tree) - 3:19
6. Band Of Thieves - 2:31
7. Sweet Pounding Rythm - 2:46
8. Meet Me At The Station - 2:57
9. Simpleminded Harlequin - 2:28
10.Painted Raven - 0:42
11.Mortuary Bound (Elyse Weinberg, Maureen Titcomb) - 3:29
12.If Death Don't Overtake Me - 4:39
13.Houses - 3:40
14.What You Call It - 3:05
All songs by  Elyse Weinberg except where notes

*Elyse Weinberg - Twelve, Six Strings Guitars, Vocals
*Brent - Jew's Harp
*Colin Walcott - Sitar, Tabla
*Neil Young - Guitar
*John Bordonaro - Drums
*Don Gallucci - Keyboards, Arrangements
*Bruce Hauser - Bass
*Joey Newman - Guitars

Related Act
1968-73  Touch - Touch (2012 Esoteric remaster and expanded) 

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Monday, April 2, 2018

Jim Capaldi - Whale Meat Again (1973-74 uk, wonderful classic rock, 2012 remaster)

Jim Capaldi's second solo album was recorded virtually simultaneously with Traffic's final album of the 1970s, Where The Eagle Flies. Indeed, it may have even arisen as a result of the long genesis of that album which took over a year to record, saw percussionist Rebop Kwaku Baah being fired midway through the sessions and the band seeming to lose a sense of direction and even purpose. The awfully punned Whale Meat Again was prefaced by a non album single, Tricky Dicky Rides Again released in 1973 as a reaction to the political mess of the Richard Nixon Watergate scandal. More of a 'leftover' from the first solo album - indeed the title track of that album was the b-side of the single - the song features Paul Kossof on guitar (nice solo!) with prominent presence of the Muscle Shoals Horns and some strange sounding Mellotron. 

A very satirical comment that would have been lost to obscurity (even though Capaldi later revisited the song writing new lyrics and renaming it Risky Business for inclusion on 1978's The Contender album) if Esoteric hadn't resurrected it for inclusion as a bonus track to this release. For the new album Capaldi largely eschewed inviting contributions from guest musicians being content to rely on the core unit of Muscle Shoals session musicians David Hood (bass), Roger Hawkins (drums), Barry Beckett (piano and organ), Jimmy Johnson and Pete Carr (guitars) with the inevitable Muscle Shoals Horns.

Opening number It's Alright is rather a misleading song as to the style of the album being a sedate, easy going number with a light reggae feel, including a steel drum, no doubt influenced by Capaldi's friendship with Bob Marley to whom he was introduced by Island Records founder Chris Blackwell. I suppose it is an okay song, rather inoffensive but neither one thing or another and something that I would have thought would have been better placed as a single b-side than an album opener. The title track is a totally different kettle of fish, or given the subject, should that be 'breed of mammal'? An anti-whaling song with a hard edged bitterness, superlative playing from Pete Carr and The Horns producing some of their most definitive and characteristic contributions. 

However, it is on the lyrics where Capaldi excels: Whale meat again, under the sun, every twelve minutes and another one’s gone. His meat is in your make up, his flesh is on your lips, as a nuclear warhead explodes in his hips. Harry Robinson is drafted in once again to provide the string arrangement on the soulful ballad Yellow Sun. Carr's dobro slide guitar provides an Americana feel with a fine lead vocal by Capaldi and backing vocals from the pseudonymous Potato Smith and Laurence Peabody - speculated as being Capaldi and Winwood, although I have my doubts. The song is typical of the era but with a graceful melody it passes muster. I've Got So Much Lovin' features some marvellous female backing vocals, which sadly go uncredited in the booklet, but sounds very like it may be the prolific backing singers Irene and Doreen Chanter who, along with Liza Strike, enhanced so many records from the 1970s. The expansive sax gives the number a sleazier feel but overall the energy and enthusiasm of the performance is a delight.

First of the two standout tracks on the album is Low Rider. A looser, more relaxed feel prevails giving extra space for Carr's guitar work to shine through and a more biting string arrangement to take a more upfront role. The closing jam would have been great live and worthy of inclusion on Traffic's On The Road live album. Unfortunately My Brother is marred by a terrible sounding synth which dates an otherwise decent song, suppose it was cutting edge at the time but, unlike for example the Mellotron, some of the early synthesisers just sound cheesy and pathetic to modern ears. Never fear, all is redeemed with Summer Is Fading which is the most like Traffic that Capaldi ever sounded in his solo guise. 

Largely due to the presence of Winwood on organ and bass, plus Rebop on conga (which would suggest the track was recorded before his firing from Traffic) and the absence of any of the Muscle Shoals Musicians - guitars are played by Bubs White and drums by Gaspar Lawal - the song is an extended jam that is a delight from beginning to end. There are places where it is obvious that the vocals influenced the early solo career of Paul Weller as it could almost be him singing. (Weller is obviously a fan as shown by his contributions to the Capaldi tribute concert back in 2007). Interestingly the original lyrical idea is credited to Vivian Stanshall who co-wrote Dream Gerrard on the final Traffic album, which might suggest that an earlier version of the song was perhaps slated for that album - could explain the musical similarities. The album winds up with a brief take of We'll Meet Again from which the album title was punningly derived.

A more cohesive effort than the debut release and, for Traffic fans at least, probably the most essential of the Capaldi albums. 
by Mark Hughes

1. It's All Right - 4:20
2. Whale Meat Again - 4:34
3. Yellow Sun - 7:19
4. I've Got So Much Lovin' - 4:40
5. Low Rider - 5:42
6. My Brother - 5:02
7. Summer Is Fading - 8:33
8. We'll Meet Again (Hughie Charles, Ross Parker) - 1:26
9. Tricky Dicky Rides Again (Single Version) - 5:37
All songs by Jim Capaldi

*Jim Capaldi - Lead Vocals
*Pete Carr - Lead Guitars
*Jimmy Johnson - Guitar
*Barry Beckett - Piano, Steel Drum
*David Hood - Bass
*Roger Hawkins - Drums
*Muscle Shoals Horns - Horns
*Rabbit Bundrick – Piano, Organ
*Chris Stainton - Organ
*Jean Roussel - Bass
*Chris Stewart - Fuzz Bass
*Remi Kabaka - Percussion
*Steve Winwood – Organ, Bass
*Anthony "Bubs" White - Guitars
*Gaspar Lawal - Drums
*Derek Quinn - Cabassa
*Rebop Kwaku Baah - Conga
*Potato Smith - Backing Vocals
*Laurence Peabody - Backing Vocals
*Harry Robinson - String Arrangements

1972  Jim Capaldi - Oh How We Danced (2012 extra track edition)
1966-68  Deep Feeling - Pretty Colours (2008 Sunbeam release) 
with Traffic
1970  Traffic - John Barleycorn Must Die (japan SHM and 2011 deluxe double disc edition)

Friday, March 30, 2018

The Truth - Who's Wrong? Mod Bedlam (1965-69 uk, splendid mod beat, 2015 release)

Frank Aiello and Steve Jameson were mods, but did they make mod music? Aiello and Jameson were the singers who comprised the British vocal group the Truth, and they were faces on the mid-'60s U.K. mod scene, frequenting the right clothing stores and hitting the right nightspots. But just as there wasn't a firmly codified mod sound in the '60s (it was often said that the Who were never really mods, though mods clearly liked them, and most of the kids on the scene were into R'n'B and bluebeat rather than rock), the record industry didn't put much stock in the Truth's mod persona, and ended up treating them like any other pop group trying to make their way onto the charts. 

While Aiello and Jameson wanted to model the Truth after Sam and Dave or the Righteous Brothers, the closest they got to a hit was a polished cover of the Beatles' "Girl," and though they could handle pop as well as blue-eyed soul (in some cases better), their belated reputation as mod heroes is the product of a few stray tracks rather than the entirety of their catalog.

The Truth released just seven singles during their five-year lifespan, and Who's Wrong? Mod Bedlam 1965-1969 collects all 14 tunes on one disc, along with two unreleased numbers and a pair of songs released under the name Shere Khan. The sequence front-loads the tougher R&B numbers at the start with the more pop-oriented tunes following, but "Baby You've Got It," "She's a Roller," and "Baby Don't You Know" suggest the Truth were not at their best trying to sound like soul shouters, though the bluesy "Jailer Bring Me Water" gets over and "Who's Wrong" boasts some gutsy guitar work and a good melodic hook. Meanwhile, Aiello and Jameson sounded very much at home harmonizing on slicker pop productions, and their covers of "I Go to Sleep," "Walk Away Renee," and "I Can't Make It Alone" are more than satisfying. 

If you're expecting some serious Mod Bedlam from this collection of the Truth's recordings, well, you might be a trifle disappointed, but as a compact look at one band's adventures in the U.K. music business in the mid- to late '60s, this certainly has its merits, and shows Aiello and Jameson deserved better treatment (and luck) than they got. 
by Mark Deming

1. Baby You've Got It (Jeff Cooper, Daniels) - 2:11
2. She's A Roller (Jeff Cooper, Stephen Jameson) - 1:54
3. Baby Don't You Know (Jeff Cooper) - 2:36
4. Come On Home (Jeff Cooper) - 2:26
5. Jailer Bring Me Water (Bobby Darin) - 3:41
6. Who's Wrong (George Fischoff, Tony Powers) - 3:09
7. Hey Gyp (Dig The Slowness) (Donovan Leitch) - 2:00
8. I Go To Sleep (Ray Davies) - 2:22
9. Girl (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) - 2:36
10.Jingle Jangle (Reg Presley) - 2:28
11.Walk Away Renee (Bob Calilli, Michael Brown, Tony Sansone) - 2:25
12.Fly Away Bird (Stephen Jameson) - 2:25
13.Busker Bill (Stephen Jameson) - 3:00
14.Old Ma Brown (Stephen Jameson) - 1:55
15.Sueno (Eddie Brigati, Felix Cavaliere) - 2:59
16.I Can't Make It Alone (Carole King, Gerry Goffin) - 4:48
17.Little Louise (A. Blake) - 2:48
18.No Reason (P. Yelland) - 2:54
Tracks 17-18 as Shere Khan

*Francesco Aiello - Vocals
*Steve Jameson - Vocals, Guitar
*Ronnie Verrall - Drums
*Alan Whale- Bass
*Johnny Harris - Keyboards
*Alan Price - Organ
*Mitch Mitchell - Drums
*Big Jim Sullivan - Guitar
*Jimmy Page - Guitar
*Ray Stock - Drums
*Alan Kendall - Guitar
*Terry Gittings - Drums
*Derek Boyes - Keyboards
*Nicky Hopkins - Piano
*Bobby Graham - Drums

1968-99  Cozy Powell - The Bedlam Years (2009 remaster edition, 3 disc box set) 

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Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Mud - Mud (1971 us, spectacular heavy psych jam blues rock, 2016 korean remaster)

Originally called Mudd, (probably to distinguish themselves from Mud, an English band that had been around since 1966 and finally enjoyed a spell of success once they teamed up with glam rock producers Nicky Chinn & Mike Chapman) Mudd was Albuquerque's first rock super group Steve (Miller) D'Coda lead guitar Arnold Bodmer- keys Chuck Klingbeil- keys, sax Vic Gabriele- bass and Randy Castillo on drums. Each one the best at his instrument on the local scene and with Tommy G on lead vocals... it goes without saying. Mudd signed on with Al Klein's Buffalo Bill Productions, who in turn secured a recording contract with Uni Records for the band.

This resulted in two albums, the first Mud on Mudd released in 1970. Mudd did fare better on their own songs, especially “If We Try” (a Vic Gabrielle composition and one of many that Al Klein latched onto as co-writer) “Mud on Mudd” wasn't groundbreaking by any means, but it did provide an avenue for Tommy G to make a smooth transition into rock music.

On the second album “Mud” (down one d) the band neither regressed nor progressed. Same Mud channel, same Mud station. Zap! Pow! Biff! Released in 1971, a handful of songs on “Mud” jump right out at you “I Go Crazy” “She” and a cover of The Beatles “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight” the rest ain't froggy at all. Mudd was the most ferocious NM band of the day.
Dirt City Chronicles, Albuquerque New Mexico

1. Carry That Weight (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) - 4:14
2. Better Days Are Coming (B. Arvon) - 3:01
3. She (Vic Gabrielle, Chuck Klingbeil) - 2:28
4. Cruel Ruler (Vic Gabrielle, Chuck Klingbeil) - 10:15
5. Nobody's Fault (Otis Redding) - 3:56
6. Who Owns The Park (L. Yellowcorn, Vic Gabriele) - 3:44
7. Pictures (Vic Gabrielle, Chuck Klingbeil) - 3:38
8. I'll Go Crazy (James Brown) - 4:24
9. Smacking Cowboy (Vic Gabrielle, Chuck Klingbeil) - 8:31

The Mud
*Arnold Bodmer - Electric Piano
*Tommy "G" Gonzales - Vocals, Trumpet, Congas
*Chuck Klingbeil - Keyboards, Flute
*Randy Castillo - Drums, Percussion
*Steve D'Coda (aka Steve Miller) - Guitar
*Vic Gabrielle - Bass

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Saturday, March 24, 2018

Fludd - C@ck On! (1972 canada, awesome solid classic rock)

By late 1971 Fludd was picked up by Frank Davies' upstart label Daffodil Records later that year and released the highly controversial ... ON in early '72, recorded in Toronto with new producer Lee DeCarlo. Determined to cause a ruckus, the album was initially called COCK ON, including a scantily clad group on the inside cover. With the execs sensing this might be disasterous, the photo was scrapped and the record's title changed. Despite the furor, three singles were released, including "Always Be Thinking Of You", which cracked Canada's Top 40. Also on the lp were "Yes" and "C'mon C'mon".

In a deliberate attempt to incorporate a more 'British sound", the band went to England to do their third album. They began recording at Richard Branson's (Virgin Records & Airlines) Manor Studios in Oxfordshire in the spring of '73. Soon after however, Csanky quit the band, to be replaced by Peter Rochon. The recording of Mike Oldfield's album TUBULAR BELLS was by this time also getting in the way. Added to the rising cost of keeping the band in England and Godovitz's growing dislike for fish and chips, Daffodil pulled the plug on the deal and brought them back to Canada.

To bolster fading interest in the band, Daffodil went back to the previous record and released "Cousin Mary" in time for the Christmas rush of '73, the first single from Fludd in a year and a half. Ironically, though it wasn't initially intended to be a single, "Cousin Mary" would go on to become one of the band's biggest hits, cracking the top 20, and eventually finding its way on to several Canadian compilations over the years. The re-found interest resulted in them going back to the Toronto studios with DeCarlo, where they recorded three tracks.

Apparently not entirely committed to the group anymore, Daffodil released one of them as the new single. But the lacklustre radio response to "I Held Out" found Fludd again without a record deal. About the same time Brian Pilling was diagnosed with cancer, further setting back the band. Following the news, Godovitz jumped ship and formed Toronto legend Goddo. He was replaced by Doni Underhill (later of both Brutus and Trooper), bringing guitarist Gord Waszek with him.
by Frank Davies and Greg Godovitz

1. C'mon C'mon - 3:35
2. Yes! - 3:10
3. Alway Be Think Of You - 3:24
4. Down! Down! Down! - 4:16
5. Cousin Mary - 2:41
6. Home- Made Lady - 3:18
7. Ticket To Nowhere - 4:31
8. Can You Be Easy - 3:27
9. All Sing Togethere - 5:44
10.Gratitude - 0:44
All songs by Brian Pilling, Ed Pilling

The Fludd
*Ed Pilling – Vocals, Percussion
*Brian Pilling – Guitar, Vocals
*Mick Walsh – Guitar
*Greg Godovitz – Bass, Vocals
*John Andersen – Drums

1971  Fludd - Fludd (2010 edition)

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