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Plain and Fancy

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

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Paul Siebel - Woodsmoke And Oranges/ Jack-Knife Gypsy (1970-71 us, awesome folk country rock, 2004 remaster)

In the dawn of the seventies, when the singer/songwriter boom was just starting to reach full steam, with the heady rush of psychedelic rock giving way to the intimate sounds of introspective troubadours aiming for the coveted “Next Dylan” tag, an album appeared on the Elektra label with the evocative title Woodsmoke and Oranges. The voice was not unlike Dylan’s, circa the dusty John Wesley Harding, but shot through with a keening country wail bespeaking a grounding in vintage honky-tonk and bluegrass. The songs too mixed traditions freely, taking as many liberties with traditional folk and country song structure as the lyrics did with the ‘60s balladeer template. The album cover featured a drawing of a man with a pensive mien and a hint of melancholy in his hound-dog eyes, and the name emblazoned across the top was Paul Siebel.

Siebel was a graduate of the Buffalo, New York folk scene, where he rubbed shoulders with the likes of Eric Andersen and Jackson C. Frank. He had done a stint in the army before hitting the Greenwich Village folk circuit where he became a mainstay by the late ‘60s, having paid his dues at Village clubs like The Four Winds. “When you’d do the Four Winds,” he recalls, “you’d do like five sets a night, sometimes it got so weird. It’d be about the third set and a few beers into the night; you’d start the third verse [of your song] and you’d think ‘I just did that.’ Well sure you did it, like 45 minutes ago!”

All the long hours and hard work paid off when Siebel was picked up by Elektra in ’69. Though Woodsmoke and Oranges, was his debut album, he had already been around the block a few times. He was 33 by the time it was released in 1970, and there was a gravitas and maturity to both his writing and his delivery that was lacking in many of the era’s new troubadours. While the album was chock full of striking songs, it ultimately became best known for “Louise,” an elegiac narrative about the passing of a lady of the evening. More people came to know “Louise” through its many cover versions (most notably those of Bonnie Raitt and Linda Ronstadt) than Siebel’s original recording. “A lot of women [singers] picked it up,” says Siebel. “They liked the pathology of Louise and identified with that.” These more successful versions were good for the songwriter’s bank account, but didn’t do much for his own record sales.

Equally affecting were tunes like the incisive small-town vignette “My Town,” one of the era’s few truly subtle anti-war songs. Siebel says the characters were “maybe second-generation people in America — ‘My town was fathered by orphans’– people who left their roots and are pining away in America.” A figure of derision in the song is the blindly patriotic “Miss Delia,” but Siebel claims compassion even for her. “Miss Delia is also someone that you know and love, it could be our own mother. That’s part of our makeup also, to raise the flag, fight for our country, and be chauvinistic — what else are you protecting? When you protect your borders, are you being a chauvinist, are you being a patriot? Are you being a fascist, what are you being?”

Tunes like the opening track, “She Made Me Lose My Blues” showed a strong country influence that would be further amplified on Siebel’s second album. In fact, country music had been a part of the songwriter’s musical mindset for a long time, and he was something of a trailblazer in terms of incorporating it into the ‘60s Village folk aesthetic. “I got into Jimmie Rodgers’ songs, which I thought fit very well into the folk idiom…I got to be known for doing country. No one in the folk scene was doing this, with the exception of perhaps Jack Elliott doing cowboy songs, not quite country. [The Jim] Kweskin Jug Band maybe did a little. And of course there was the Holy Modal Rounders doing it tongue-in-cheek — if you did it tongue-in-cheek it was okay, you couldn’t do it proper. I think I wanted to find a voice and a venue in the city folk scene and I used country. One of the problems I had in the ‘70s — country began becoming very popular and people approached me saying ‘Why don’t you go to Nashville?’ I was not a country singer, I did not want to go to Nashville; they could do that stuff better than I could. I would get a lot of ‘What are you doing singing country music? You’re from upstate New York!’ So if you were a banker from Georgia, you would’ve been more authentic?”

Siebel’s brand of country was an idiosyncratic one though – the country-oriented tunes on both of his albums willfully and wonderfully bent the harmonic framework of conventional country. He’s characteristically modest about this, saying “They weren’t I-IV-V, but neither is [George Hamilton IV’s 1963 country hit] “Abilene,” or [traditional tune] “Salt Creek,” those changes, the minor part back to the major, those things had been around, so I didn’t consider ‘Miss Cherry Lane’ more sophisticated than that stuff. A couple of my [country-flavored] songs are Beatles-influenced – ‘Pinto Pony’ maybe a little bit. ‘Uncle Dudley’ — pure John Lennon/Paul McCartney.”

While sales of Woodsmoke and Oranges didn’t exactly necessitate Siebel seeking tax exile in the Caribbean, a solid touring schedule gave him a strong mid-level profile on the early-‘70s singer/songwriter circuit. “There was a whole circle of nice clubs all across America,” he remembers, “The Troubadour in L.A., The Ark in Ann Arbor, Earl of Old Town in Chicago, Passim’s in Boston, the Gaslight here (in New York), The Second Fret in Philadelphia. So the first years you had money all over the place, not huge stuff, but I didn’t have to worry about the rent for a while. I got paid fairly well, but I never broke into big money. And I did that for about 10 years.”

1971 saw the release of Siebel’s second Elektra album, Jack-Knife Gypsy, which upped the ante in terms of both songwriting and production values. Where the first album had been an intimate, homespun-sounding effort, the follow-up was much more ambitious, employing everything from full-tilt electric rock & roll to sweeping string arrangements. Fortunately, it all worked, partly due to the sympathetic production of Robert Zachary. Siebel, however, expresses misgivings. “Bigger production, more money — I think it was premature to do this kind of production with that. I think this should have led to something bigger, I think I still should have kept it simple.” Regardless, the all-star backing band assembled for the album included Byrds guitarist Clarence White, famed mandolin virtuoso David Grisman, country pedal-steel legend Buddy Emmons, Eagles guitarist Bernie Leadon, and Cajun/country fiddle phenomenon Doug Kershaw, among others. The rich sound they created fueled some of Siebel’s most powerful compositions, like the outlaw-at-the-gallows tale “Pinto Pony,” the inscrutably poetic, rather Dylanesque “Jasper and the Miners,” and another sneaky anti-war tune, the dark, paranoid parable “Jeremiah’s Song.”

Unfortunately, Jack-Knife Gypsy didn’t do any more to fill Siebel’s pocket than its predecessor had, and it turned out to be the last album he’d ever record. Though he continued to maintain his performing career throughout the ‘70s, cracks began to show after a while. “I don’t know why I didn’t write another record,” he muses, “I started drinking, things started coming apart. I guess I wasn’t getting the recognition I wanted, and without that, how can you write? And then after a while I just couldn’t go out and do those same songs again and again. I soured. It soured. It started coming apart. Then I quit drinking, got all cleaned up, and then I was stone sober trying to entertain a bunch of people having a party…It got to be too difficult. I opened for Bonnie Raitt once at Max’s Kansas City I think, and I remember Bonnie kind of apologizing for that, because I think there was a time when she opened for me in the old, old days.”

In the ‘80s, Siebel jumped off the train, leaving his musical career behind and working a series of day jobs. In the years to come, he would make the occasional, extremely infrequent guest appearance, but his days of gigging and songwriting were behind him for good. Eventually, he moved to Maryland, where he ultimately landed an outdoorsy job with the Parks Department, and started avidly pursuing an interest in sailing, but no matter how much distance Siebel puts between himself and his songs, they can never lose their power. Over the years, several of his tunes – not just “Louise” – have been recorded by other artists, from Emmylou Harris to David Bromberg. In 2004, his Elektra albums were reissued together in England as a twofer, earning ecstatic reviews from the British music press, and this year, in MOJO Magazine’s celebration of Elektra’s 60th anniversary, this writer had the opportunity to single out Siebel’s debut as one of the label’s shining moments. Siebel may not be singing the songs anymore, but they’re still out there waiting to be discovered — or re-discovered. As another Greenwich Village songwriter, Richard Meyer, once said: “A record is like a time bomb, you can never tell when it’s gonna go off.”
by Jim Allen

1. She Made Me Loose My Blues - 2:39
2. Miss Cherry Lane - 2:56
3. Nashville Again - 3:13
4. The Ballad Of Honest Sam - 4:23
5. Then Came The Children - 4:11
6. Louise - 3:42
7. Bride 1945 - 3:33
8. My Town - 3:12
9. Any Day Woman - 3:06
10.Long Afternoons - 4:26
11.Jasper & The Miners - 2:39
12.If I Could Stay - 3:44
13.Jack-Knife Gypsy - 3:29
14.Prayer Song - 4:49
15.Legend Of The Captain's Daughter - 3:56
16.Hillbilly Child - 2:59
17.Pinto Pony - 2:25
18.Miss Jones - 4:27
19.Jeremiah's Song - 2:03
20.Uncle Dudley - 3:12
21.Chips Are Down - 4:36
22.Nervous - 3:33
All songs by Paul Siebel

Woodsmoke And Oranges 1970
*Paul Siebel - Acoustic Guitar, 12 String Guitar, Vocals
*David Bromberg - Dobro, Acoustic, Electric Guitar
*Weldon Myrick - Pedal Steel Guitar
*Richard Greene - Violin
*Gary White - Bass
*Jeff Gutcheon - Organ, Piano
*Don Brooks - Harmonica
*James Madison - Drums

Jack-Knife Gypsy 1971
*Paul Siebel - Guitar, Vocals
*Clarence White - Guitar
*Robert Warford - Guitar
*Buddy Emmons - Steel Guitar
*David Grisman - Mandolin
*Jim Buchanan - Violin, Viola
*Doug Kershaw - Fiddle
*Billy Wolfe - Bass
*Bernie Leadon - Guitar
*Gary White - Bass
*Ralph Shuckett - Organ, Piano
*Russ Kunkel - Drums

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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Bolder Damn - Mourning (1971 us, raw fuzzed-out guitar solid rhythm section and manic vocals, 2008 issue)

Bolder Damn, formed in Fort Lauderdale, Florida 1969, got a following by opening up for the big names that came through the state. They had a mad and theatrical live show that got a reaction in those days because neither Alice Cooper nor Black Sabbath had turned up! The band reached a good fan base because of this live show. 

Allegedly during the epic "Dead Meat" people with capes carried the lead singer off stage while the band continued to play, then they carried the singer back on stage in a coffin! The fans wanted an album so the band went into the studio in the summer of '71 recorded "Mourning" in just 4 hours with hardly any overdubs.

The album is very dynamic and has a huge soundstage. It shows the band as excellent tight musicians who were capable of both writing and performing original songs delivered with meaning and strong lyrics especially, and, as it turned out, ironically about Vietnam.

The haunting doom-power of "Dead Meat", a mind-blowing epic track clocking in at 15 minutes long, the moving boogie feel  of "Got That Feeling" and the alarming "Monday Mourning" are just some of the great tracks on this killer album, which is of a consistently high standard throughout.

Bolder Damn could have been huge negotiations with a couple of labels had just started when front man John Anderson and bassist Ron Reffett got drafted into the US Army and inevitably Vietnam.  This fatally interrupted the bands plans to make a proper release and spread their name outside the state. "Mourning" is a mighty testament and one of the most essential powerhouse albums from the early 1970s.
CD Liner Notes 

1. BRTCD - 2:59
2. Got That Feeling - 3:31
3. Monday Mourning - 3:08
4. Rock On - 4:15
5. Find A Way - 4:42
6. Breakthrough - 3:24
7. Dead Meat - 16:05
All songs by John Anderson, Glenn Eaton, Robert Eaton, Ron Reffett

Bolder Damn
*John Anderson - Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
*Glenn Eaton - Guitar, Backup Vocals
*Robert Eaton - Drums, Backup Vocals
*Ron Reffett - Bass  Backup Vocals
*Marc Gaspard - Keyboards, (1968-71)
*Dean Noel - Bass, (1968-69)

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Sunday, October 6, 2019

David Lewis - Just Mollie And Me (1976 us, sharp classic rock with folk and glam tinges, 2012 korean remaster)

Dave Lewis is a singer / songwriter who moved to California from Texas in 1971.  He happened go to Gazzarri’s on the Sunset Strip where he met Mike Cochrane and his band Train.  They went into the studio and recorded a song Dave wrote called "Witches Brew".  This is the only known recording with the original members of Train on it.  After that, Dave and Mike Cochrane started recordind together for several years as a studio duo.

Lewis is a refreshing vocalist who operates in the higher ranges with a minimum of musical accompaniment on most tracks. But he can rock 'n' roll too as he shows on "You Push Too Hard," propably the best track on the album, an out-and-out rocker, with a great melody and raunchy rhythm guitar completed with a great arena-rock guitar solo. 'Daydreamer' opened the album with a glistening slice of pop, the song featured one of those power-pop melodies that climbed into your head and wouldn't leave. "Witches Brew" a nice bar rocker, the highlight on this song is actually the guitar work which more than made up for Lewis somewhat quivering vocals. "Can't Say Goodbye" a classic greasy bar rocker with a tasty talk box guitar.  

1. Daydreamer - 3:18
2. Loneliest Cowboy - 2:43
3. Jeraboa - 3:05
4. You Push Too Hard - 2:56
5. Witch`s Brew - 3:35
6. Make Me Alive - 3:51
7. Can`t Say Goodbye - 2:28
8. Horsehead Crossing - 3:04
All Songs by David Lewis

*David Lewis - Lead Vocals, Drums,  Acoustic Six String Guitar
*Mike Cochrane - Lead Guitar, Acoustic Six, Tewlve  String Guitars, Bass, Vocals
*Mike Kirchner - Bass (Only Track #5)
*Bob Hopkins - Drums (Only Track #5)

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Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Harvey Mandel - Baby Batter (1971 us, strong jazzy blues funk rock, 2016 remaster)

Originally released in 1971, this frenetic, funk-laden fusion of Jazz licks and Blues-Rock attack from former-Canned Heat guitarist Harvey Mandel is a true lost gem that pre-dates the later work of Jeff Beck, Al Di Meola et al. Featuring the knock-out band of keyboardist Howard Wales, bassist Larry Taylor and drummer Phil Lagos, this fine recording sounds as fresh as the day it was born.

1. Baby Batter - 3:47
2. Midnight Sun - 6:25
3. One Way Street - 4:22
4. Morton Grove Mama - 4:59
5. Freedom Ball - 6:25
6. El Stinger - 7:27
7. Hank The Ripper - 5:16
All compositions by Harvey Mandel

*Harvey Mandel - Acoustic, Electric Guitar
*Colin Bailey - Drums
*Big Black - Congas
*Sandra Crouch - Tambourine
*Paul Lagos - Drums
*Mike Melvoin - Keyboards, Organ, Electric Piano
*Joe Picaro - Percussion
*Jeff Porcaro - Percussion
*Emil Richards - Percussion
*Shorty Rogers - String Arrangements
*Larry Taylor - Bass, Fender Rhodes
*Howard Wales - Keyboards, Organ, Electric Piano

1968  Harvey Mandel - Cristo Redentor (2003 remaster and expanded)  
Related Acts
1965-66  The Barry Goldberg Blues Band - Blowing My Mind ..Plus (2003 remaster and expanded)
1967  Charley Musselwhite - Stand Back! Here Comes Charley Musselwhite's Southside Band
1968  The Barry Goldberg Reunion - There's No Hole In My Soul
1969  Barry Goldberg - Two Jews Blues (vinyl edition) 
1967-73  Canned Heat - The Very Best Of (2005 issue with previous unreleased track)
1970  Canned Heat - Future Blues (remastered and expanded) 
1971-72  Canned Heat - Historical Figures And Ancient Heads (extra track remaster issue)
1974  Love - Reel To Reel (2015 deluxe edition)

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Thursday, September 26, 2019

Guy Clark - Texas Cookin' (1976 us, remarkable outlaw country rock, 2016 japan remaster)

Guy Clark's sophomore effort sounds more like a party of friends who got together to pick together on a Saturday night that it does a sensitive singer/songwriter outing. Essentially that's what it is, coming as it did at the height of the outlaw movement fever. Recorded at Chips Moman's American Studios in Nash Vegas, there is no producer listed on the set, so you can assume Clark did it himself with the aid of his many compadres here, who include but are not limited to Emmylou Harris, Susanna Clark, Johnny Gimble, Jerry Jeff Walker, Hoyt Axton, Waylon Jennings, Tracy Nelson, Brian Ahern, Mickey Raphael, Rodney Crowell, David Briggs, and Chip Young. 

Songwise, Clark's on a roll here; first there's the wooly party tune, "Texas Cookin'," that celebrates the Lone Star State's particular ability to make their food taste good with beer, and then there's the stunning "Anyhow I Love You," with Emmylou, Waylon, and Crowell accompanying Clark as a chorus. Jennings' harmony singing here is the best he did in his career. There's the mid-tempo "Good to Love You Lady" with Walker, Axton, Crowell, and Harris singing in a smoky contralto, an honest to goodness country song, baring its fiddles, pedal steel, and a trio of acoustic guitars to carry those rough and sweet voices through the story. And while the up-tempo tunes here are wondrously raucous fare, Clark's strength as a ballad writer is almost unequaled among his peers. 

Nowhere is this more evident than on "Broken Hearted People" (since retitled for the refrain, "Take Me to a Barroom"). Clark's version of the song lacks any sentimentality. He is one of the tune's subjects; his resignation is to spend his mourning days on a barstool after discovering a lover's faithlessness, but he's already wasted and can't even get there under his own power. His devastation is only eclipsed by his desperation: "Take me to a barroom driver/Set me on a stool/If I can't be her man, I'm damned/If I'll be her fool." In addition, Clark's "The Last Gunfighter Ballad" is a signature song, like his "Randall Knife" or "Desperadoes Waiting for a Train." It's a song; it's a story; it's a movie with acoustic guitars a bass, a cello, finger cymbals, and Waylon. Chilling, stirring, and unforgettable, just like the album itself. 
by Thom Jurek

1. Texas Cookin' - 3:49
2. Anyhow, I Love You - 3:55
3. Virginia's Real - 3:00
4. It's About Time - 4:56
5. Good To Love You Lady - 5:03
6. Broken Hearted People - 4:45
7. Black Haired Boy - 3:10
8. Me I'm Feelin' The Same - 3:32
9. The Ballad Of Laverne And Captain Flint - 3:54
10.The Last Gunfighter Ballad - 2:52
All songs by Guy Clark excpet track #7 co written with Susanna Clark

*Guy Clark - Vocals, Guitar
*Mike Leach - Bass
*Jerry Kroon - Drums
*Larrie Londin - Drums
*Chip Young - Guitar
*Brian Ahern - Guitar
*Lea Jane Berinati - Keyboards, Piano, Background Vocals
*David Briggs - Clarinet, Piano, Keyboards, Clavinet, Background Vocals
*Chuck Cochran - Piano
*Charlie Bundy - Bass, Background Vocals
*Susanna Clark - Background Vocals
*Sammi Smith - Background Vocals
*Hoyt Axton - Background Vocals
*Tracy Nelson - Background Vocals
*Nicolette Larson - Background Vocals
*Rodney Crowell - Guitar, Background Vocals
*Johnny Gimble - Fiddle
*Pete Grant - Dobro, Pedal Steel Guitar
*Emmylou Harris - Background Vocals
*Jack Hicks - Banjo
*Chris Laird - Drums, Percussion, Finger Cymbals
*Mike Leech - Bass, String Arrangements
*Waylon Jennings - Guitar, Harmony Vocals
*Steve Keith - Fiddle
*Chips Moman - Guitar
*Mickey Raphael - Harmonica
*Danny Roland - Guitar, Background Vocals
*Tommy Williams - Fiddle
*Byron Bach - Cello
*Jerry Jeff Walker - Guitar, Background Vocals

1975  Guy Clark - Old No1 (2016 japan remaster) 

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Saturday, September 21, 2019

Devil's Kitchen Band - Been A Long Time Coming, Be A Long Time Gone (1969-70 us, fantastic west coast psych jam blues rock, 2018 digi pak release)

Back in the 1 960S, Carbondale, Illinois was a lively college town. There were
lots of local bars that featured live rock bands. If you were a student, a rock 'n roll musician, and, you had a gig at one of those bars, you could cover most of your college expenses - tuition, books, room & board - playing once or twice a week. Students would often spend an evening drinking and dancing to live music after heading out to their favorite local road house. It was the dancing that set the tone, the drive, and it got folks up on their feet. Motown, Memphis, Soul, Blues, and the occasional grungy rock & roll cover tune filled the night air in funky road houses.

Discovering new music by British bands like Traffic, The Who, The Yardbirds, and eventually American groups like Jefferson Airplane and Butterfield Blues Band, rarely heard on top-forty commercial radio, after a while started making the bar gigs feel more like... work. And fanning desires for better, hipper, more artful scene were. tales told by friends and lucky classmates returning from school breaks and summer adventures in San Francisco.

The rock band; that became Devil's Kitchen began in Carbondale in 1967. Robbie, Brett, Steve, and Bucky, a 16-year-old bass player still in high school, started a band they called *OM", after the sacred cosmic Sanskrit syllable. The group planned to migrate to San Francisco at the end of the 1967-68 school year and join the party in progress, but unfortunately for Bucky, his parents said "No!". A Southern Illinois University design student then studying with the other Bucky (University Professor R. Buckminster Fuller) would be soon be graduating, so then Bob joined the group as the new bass player.

Driving west in a vintage VW Bus and arriving in San Francisco in June of 1968, band *OM" soon found there wets three other Bay Area bands already tuned in to the same cosmic vibe and featuring names like Om, Aum, or Ohm. So "OM" decided to name themselves after Devil's Kitchen Lake, a popular weekend retreat just a few miles outside of Carbondale. Devil's Kitchen had come to San Francisco well prepared, with dozens of compelling, original songs and arrangements and a level of musicianship that was up to the high energy demands of the San Francisco rock scene. They very quickly joined the legendary Chet Helms' Family Dog Productions as the "house band" at The Great Highway ballroom, and evolved into a killer psychedelic jam improvising those extended, dynamic, layered, energetic performances that were in tune with the San Francisco hippie scene. 

Far out! Groovy! Wish you could have been there! If you were there ... Hello, old friend!
Enjoy this live blast from the past.
CD Liner Notes

1. Mellow Pot Blues (Buster Bennett) - 3:56
2. Earthfields - 9:28
3. Dust My Blues (Elmore James, Robert Johnson) - 5:16
4. All In A Daze Existence - 7:03
5. Farm Bust Blues - 10:42
6. City - 3:58
7. Mourning Glory - 4:52
8. To Love Somebody (Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb) - 3:59
9. Shadowbird - 5:43
10.Short Haired Woman (Sam Lightnin' Hopkins) - 7:34
11.Things On My Mind - 4:38
12.Head On Right - 3:21
All songs by Brett Champlin, Robbie Stokes, Bob Laughton, Steve Sweigart except where indicated

Devil's Kitchen Band
*Robbie Stokes - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Brett Champlin - Guitar, Vocals
*Bob Laughton - Bass, Vocals
*Steve Sweigart - Drums

1969  Devil's Kitchen - Devil's Kitchen (2011 Vinyl issue) 

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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Rumplestiltskin - Rumplestiltskin (1970 uk, impressive hard blues classic rock, 2007 remaster)

An abiding childhood memory for many people around the world is the strange story of Rumplestiltskin. Who was this creature and what possible connection could he have with the world of music? Well, Rumplestiltskin was a passionate, deformed dwarf of German folklore. Remember the miller's daughter, ordered by the King to spin straw into gold? The dwarf offered to achieve this miracle on her behalf, as long as she promised to give him her first child. The maiden married the king and grieved so much when their child was born, that the dwarf promised to relent if she could guess his name. A servant tipped off the maiden and when the child was saved, Rumplestiltskin killed himself in a fit of demented rage. 

But whence came the mysterious group that adopted this curious name? Did they yearn to spin their records into pure gold? It's most likely they had this firmly in mind. After all, 'Rumplestiltskin' was the idea of a successful record producer, and those who would do his bidding were all top British session players. Alas, their golden schemes came to nought, but at least they produced a splendid album that has since gone into rock folklore.

Shel Talmy was an American born producer resident in London during the Swinging Sixties. Talmy was closely involved with The Who, The Kinks, The Easvbeats and many other top groups. As a busy producer, he appreciated the benefits of using session players as they could save him time and money. Groups had all the ideas, but often their guitar players and drummers were inexperienced youngsters who found it difficult to cope with studio demands.Talmy would call in reinforcements, when he needed guys who could read music and quickly grasp the arrangements.

The contributions of his anonymous session men were usually a closely puarded secret. Nevertheless, the producer grew to admire the hard working studio stalwarts and that's probably what gave Shel the idea forming a new kind of'super group'. It would give the professional musicians a chance to shine in their own right. Except that, like the mythical prototype, their names could only be revealed by guesswork. Once again, 'Rumplestiltskin' became the centre of a spinning web of intrigue.

The musicians chosen for the enterprise were all top line players. The line up comprised Peter Charles Green (Vocals), Alan Parker (Guitar), Alan Hawkshaw (Keyboards), Herbie Flowers (Bass) And Clem Cattini (Drums). "We all had a great laugh in the studio," recalls Clem Cattini, recalling the events of some 36 years ago. "We were all session men, but the idea was to form our own supergroup. It was Shel's idea to call it Rumplestiltskin and we all played under assumed names, because the BBC wouldn't play our record if they thought it was by session men. So I went under the name of 'Rupert Baer'."

Peter Charles Green was actually Peter Lee Stirling, a singer/songwriter who subsequently enjoyed an international hit single under the name of 'Daniel Boone' with 'Beautiful Sunday' in 1972. He had previously sung in the group Hungry Wolf, that also featured Clem Cattini, Herbie Flowers, Alan Hawkshaw and Alan Parker, and recorded an album for Philips in 1970. Alan Parker as one of the top session guitarists of the day who played the solos on records by all sorts of artists, from Status Quo to David Bowie. Says Clem: "Alan Parker and I worked with Lulu as her backing band at 'The Talk Of The Town' in the West End, with John Paul Jones on bass and Nicky Hopkins on piano. Alan Hawkshaw wrote loads ofTV material, including the theme for Channel 4's 'Countdown'. Herbie Flowers used to play with John Williams in a group called Sky.

He also wrote 'Grandad', a big hit for Clive Dunn." Clem believes that Shel Talmy brought them together to see if they could compete with the heavy rock groups like Led Zeppelin and Status Quo. "We did a  helluva lot of work with Shel and he wanted to get this supergroup going, without being facetious. He had a lot of faith in us. But we never got a hit, and this was the only record we made. We recorded the album at Pye and did one 'live' gig at the Marquee Club in Soho. It was a great band and Alan Parker was a superb guitar player. He played on Donovan's big hit 'Hurdy Gurdy Man' and so did I.You read that it was Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and John Bonham on the record, but that's completely wrong. The  trouble was, nobody knew who we were. But I was one of the original rock'n'rollers." Clement Cattini was born in Stoke Newington, London August 20, 1937. His father emigrated to England from Italy in the early 1900s and began a career in the restaurant trade. Thanks to flat feet, Clem escaped National Service with the Army, the fate of most British teenagers in the 1950s. He was able to enjoy life as a rock'n'roller and became was one of the U.K.'s first professional pop and rock drummers.

He started playing aged 18 and joined Terry Kennedy's Rock'n'Rollers. They had the extraordinary experience of touring with legendary British comedian Max Wall in 1957. "Max was doing a Bill Haley skit in his show and we had to back him," recalls Clem. "He was a fabulous guy and so funny. I used to watch him every night." After touring with Max, the band backed pop idol Terry Dene and were known as the Dene Aces. They appeared in Terry's movie 'The Golden Disc'. Clem: "I was in the film as a smiling youth. I get ribbed quite a lot about that when it's shown on TV. But I'm so glad I was involved in that era."

After playing for Terry Dene, Clem worked on the Larry Parnes package shows, backing Billy Fury, Duffy Power and Johnny Gentle. He then joined Johnnv Kidd and the Pirates who had a Number One hit in 1960 with 'Shaking All Over'. "I'd had a enough working for £20 a week for Larry Parnes, so I left him and got the job with Johnny Kidd. We recorded 'Shakin' All Over', which was my first Number One. The guy who played the guitar solo on the record was Joe Moretti. He used to lidiiy diuund the 2I's Coffee Dai in Soho. Our regular guittiiist was too nervous to do a solo, so we asked Joe if fancied making a record — as you do. Joe now lives in South Africa. Just before he died, George Harrison told me at a party that 'Shakin' All Over' was one of his favourite records, and he was surprised when I told him who had actually played the famous solo." Clem left the Pirates when Johnny Kidd's touring schedule dried up and answered an advert to join a session group put together by producer Joe Meek. 

The group turned out to be The Tornados who promptly had a Number One hit in America in 1960 with the instrumental 'Telstar'. Despite his success with The Tornados and The Honeycombs, Joe Meek suffered from personal and business worries, and on February 3, 1967, Meek took out a shotgun and killed his landlady, before turning the gun on himself. Once he had recovered from this shocking tragedy, Clem went back to work and joined successful vocal group The Ivy League that led to endless 'demos' sessions for different acts. "That's how I got into session work and ended up playing on the master discs. I was lucky because I was one of the few session men who could play rock'n'roll."

During a career lasting 23 years, Clem played on 43 Number Ones, including Tony Christie's '(Is This The Way) To Amarillo', the smash hit so successfully revived in 2005. Cattini still plays 'live' gigs with a revived version of The Tornados. In 2006 the group was looking forward to playing on a special show to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Joe Meek's death, in February 2007, also due to include John Leyton, Cliff Bennett and The Honeycombs. But the big question remains — could Rumplestiltskin have made it as a successful supergroup? Says Clem: "Quite possibly, because the band had some great musicians. Who knows? I might got have finally got my swimming pool!"
by Chris Welch, London, England, February 2007

1. Make Me Make You (Alan Hawkshaw, Alan Parker, Peter Charles Green) - 6:08
2. Poor Billy Brown (Alan Hawkshaw, Alan Parker, Peter Charles Green) - 8:10
3. Knock On My Door (Alan Hawkshaw, Alan Parker, Peter Charles Green) - 2:46
4. No One To Turn To (Alan Hawkshaw, Alan Parker, Peter Charles Green) - 3:36
5. Mr Joe (Witness For The Defence) (Alan Hawkshaw, Alan Parker) - 6:43
6. Pate De Foie Gras (Alan Hawkshaw, Alan Parker) - 2:58
7. Rumplestiltskin (Alan Hawkshaw, Alan Parker, Clem Cattini, Herbie Flowers) - 3:20
8. Squadron Leader Johnson (Alan Hawkshaw, Alan Parker, Peter Charles Green) - 5:00

*Peter Charles Green - Vocals
*Alan Parker - Guitar
*Alan Hawkshaw - Keyboards
*Herbie Flowers - Bass
*Clem Cattini - Drums

1972  Rumplestiltskin - Black Magician (2011 hard sleeve remaster edition with extra track) 
1970  Hungry Wolf - Hungry Wolf 
Related Acts
1956-66  Johnny Kidd And The Pirates - The Best Of (2008 two disc set) 
1969  The Pandamonium - The Unreleased Album (2004 release)
1969  P.J. Proby - Three Weeks Hero
1970  Bob Downes Open Music - Electric City (2007 japan remaster)
1972  Tennent Morrison - Tennent Morrison  

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Thursday, September 12, 2019

Trapeze - Trapeze (1970 uk, great debut classic rock with glam flashes, 2004 remaster with bonus tracks)

Trapeze were the first act signed by the Moody Blues to their newly founded Threshold Records label, and remain the most substantial talent -- along with Nicky James -- ever to pass through that company's roster, apart from the Moodies themselves. Those listeners who only know the subsequent albums by Trapeze may be surprised by this debut effort, the sole recording left behind by the original five-piece version of the band. With Moody Blues bassist John Lodge producing a lineup that included ex-Montanas lead singer John Jones and guitarist/keyboardist Terry Rowley alongside singer/guitarist Mel Galley, bassist Glenn Hughes, and drummer Dave Holland, late of Finders Keepers, the sounds here don't closely resemble the hard-rocking work of the subsequent trio -- there are lush choruses, psychedelic interludes, and hook-laden romantic ballads scattered throughout this record. 

Yet that trio, of Hughes, Galley, and Holland, is pumping out high-energy music within the context of psychedelic pop/rock throughout this album, which comes off as a much higher-wattage alternative to the Moody Blues. And in some respects, this album also closely resembles the better moments on those three early Deep Purple albums (the ones with Rod Evans on lead vocals), when they were essentially a hard rock outfit still playing pop/rock -- the results aren't bad and, in fact, are quite catchy at times, but it's clear that three of these musicians are holding back to one degree or another in these surroundings. Galley's high-energy leads and power chords and Hughes' already larger-than-life bass are the dominant sounds about 60 percent of the time, overpowering much around them, with songs like the Galley/Jones-composed "Fairytale" and Hughes-authored "Am I" pointing the way to their future sound -- and even on Rowley's rock ballad "Send Me No More Letters," Holland is playing drums about as hard as the music will permit. 

The core trio does find a good compromise with Rowley and Jones' more lyrical, psychedelic pop sensibilities, and Trapeze probably could have held this sound together longer than they did but for Jones' and Rowley's departures. But it's also clear that there was another band trying to break out from within the sound of this lineup, which happened later in the year when Trapeze were reduced to a trio. 
by Bruce Eder

1. It's Only A Dream (Mel Galley) - 0:43
2. The Giant's Dead Hoorah! (Glenn Hughes) - 3:32
3. Over (John Jones, Mel Galley) - 3:37
4. Nancy Gray (Glenn Hughes) - 2:47
5. Fairytale - Verily Verily - Fairytale (John Jones, Mel Galley) - 7:40
6. It's My Life (John Jones, Mel Galley) - 2:48
7. Am I (Glenn Hughes) - 3:07
8. Suicide (John Jones, Mel Galley) - 4:50
9. Wings (Glenn Hughes, Terry Rowley) - 3:28
10.Another Day (Mel Galley, Glenn Hughes, John Jones) - 2:36
11.Send Me No More Letters (Terry Rowley) - 4:33
12.It's Only A Dream (Mel Galley) - 0:37

*Glenn Hughes - Bass, Guitar, Piano, Trombone, Lead Vocals
*Mel Galley - Lead Guitar, Bass
*Dave Holland - Drums
*Terry Rowley - Organ, Guitar, Piano, Flute
*John Jones - Trumpet, Vocals

1970  Trapeze - Medusa (2008 remaster)
1974  Trapeze - Hot Wire (2015 remaster)
1975  Trapeze - Trapeze (2015 remaster)
1975  Trapeze - Live At The Boat Club

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Sunday, September 8, 2019

Mandrake Paddle Steamer - Pandemonium Shadow Show (1968-70 uk, impressive heavy psych prog rock, 2019 release)

Pure late 60s UK psychedelic sound with early prog moves, plenty of Hammond and fuzzed out guitar, powerful vocals…Including such lost gems as the Barrett-Floyd sounding ‘The World Whistles By’, killer psych-rockers like ‘Pandemonium Shadow Show’ or ‘Doris The Piper’, the mellotron fuelled ‘October Country’ and more!

Unlike other ’60s British bands who changed their music to “psychedelic” or “progressive” with the time, MPS were born “progressive” from day one. Formed in 1967 in Walthamstow (London) by a core of art school students, their members were Brian Engel, Martin Briley, Paula Riordan, Martin Hooker and Barry Nightingale (later replaced by David Potts).

During their short lifespan (’67-70), MPS supported big names like Pink Floyd, The Nice or Vanilla Fudge. They played at The Isle Of Wight Festival, had a residence at the Star Club in Germany and ran their own club night (Asgard).

Signed to the Parlophone label (though the band was aiming to be part of the more progressive Harvest imprint) they released in ’69 the ‘Strange Walking Man’ 45, recorded at Abbey Road and now widely considered a lost British psychedelic classic (check Rubbles, Perfumed Garden, etc). Due to lack of promotion and interest from their record label, the 45 went nowhere. After some line-up changes and shortening their name to just Mandrake, the band definitively split in 1970.

Pandemonium Shadow Show collects studio recordings registered by Mandrake Paddle Steamer / Mandrake during ’68-70 at various London studios such as Regent, Orange and other unknown locations. Some of these tracks had been previously included on several bootleg albums with inferior sound quality / wrong titles and others have remained unreleased until now. 

1. Pandemonium Shadow Show (Brian Engel, Martin Briley) - 4:18
2. Solitair Husk (Brian Engel, Martin Briley, Martin Hooker, Paula Riordan) - 2:55
3. Stella Mermaid (Martin Briley) - 7:07
4. The World Whistles By (Brian Engel, Martin Briley) - 3:56
5. Upminster Windows (Brian Engel, Martin Briley, Martin Hooker, Paula Riordan) - 5:27
6. Doris The Piper (Martin Briley) - 7:35
7. The Doorway To January (Martin Hooker) - 4:50
8. Simple Song (Martin Briley) - 5:13
9. The October Country (Brian Engel, Martin Briley) - 4:59
Tracks 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 9 recorded 1968
Tracks 3, 6, 8 recorded 1970

The Mandrake Paddle Steamer
*Brian Engel - Vocals (Tracks 1, 2, 4, 5, 9)
*Martin Briley - Guitar, Vocals
*Martin Hooker - Keyboard
*Paula Riordan - Bass
*Barry Nightingale - Drums
*David Potts - Drums (Tracks 3, 6, 8)

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Thursday, September 5, 2019

Rosebud - Rosebud (1971 us, spectacular folk rock with baroque jazz and prog tinges, 2017 remaster and expanded)

Over the course of the 1960s, Judy Henske had gradually drifted from folk to pop to folk-rock and psychedelia. More than any of her other projects, the early-1970s LP Rosebud was very much a rock album, anchored by a functioning rock band rather than collaborators and session musicians. For the record was not a Henske solo release, but the work of an actual band called Rosebud, in which Henske was just one of five members, albeit a very important one.

Another key member of Rosebud was Judy's husband of the time, Jerry Yester. After recording folk and folk-rock in the mid-'60s as part of the Modern Folk Quartet, Yester replaced Zal Yanovsky in the Lovin' Spoonful and produced albums by Tim Buckley and the Association, as well as teaming up with Henske to share co-billing  on the psychedelically eclectic late-1960s cult classic Farewell Aldebaran. That record's fertile imagination hadn't resulted in commercial success, yet one of its songs, the crunching blues-rocker "Snowblind," was vital to turning Henske and Yester toward a rockier full-band setup. "The only thing that had been played [on the radio] was 'Snowblind,'" explains Henske. "Jerry and I already had a lot of material, but we thought that expanding out of that Modern Folk Quartet kind of style -- beautiful harmonies and delicate constructions -- might be a good idea. I had a heavier idea of what I wanted to do, or something that could swing. So then along came Craig."

Keyboardist Craig Doerge had first met Henske when he played in her backup band at a Cleveland gig in 1965. He'd subsequently moved to Hollywood to work as a studio player and songwriter. "I'd been on the lot of A&M Records, doing a lot of writing with Paul Williams and with Donna Weiss, who wrote [with Jackie DeShannon] 'Bette Davis Eyes,'" he remembers. "We were cranking out songs, very much in the West Coast Brill Building style of songwriting. Some of those songs were on the reel that I sent out to Judy."

"We heard some of Craig's demo records and it really sounded good," picks up Henske. "Craig was a swinging piano player with a big rhythmic sound, and big left hand; he didn't even need a bass player. So we decided to form a band." The trio was expanded to a quintet with drummer John Seiter, who'd been in Spanky & Our Gang and the Turtles, and bassist David Vaught (who only made the back cover shot and not the front one of the group), though "the songs were all written by Jerry, Craig, and me," continues Judy. "We decided to be very democratic on assigning lead singing, so most of the lead singing went to Jerry and me, some to Craig, and one [song] to Johnny Seiter."

The democracy was reflected in the album's diversity, with only a few of the songs (particularly the Henske-Yester compositions "Le Soleil," "Lullabye II (Summer Carol)," and "Lorelei") echoing the strange poetic wordplay and psychedelic-classical melodic whimsy of Farewell Aldebaran. At other points the sound was more in line with the burgeoning Los Angeles singer-songwriter movement of the early 1970s and country-rock, though the Henske-Doerge-penned "Flying to Morning" ventured into baroque orchestrated art-pop. "Salvation," another Henske-Doerge collaboration, unexpectedly became a hit in France for French pop star Johnny Hallyday, who recorded it as "Sauvez Moi" in Hollywood, with Doerge on piano. The translation did take some liberties by adding, in Doerge's words, an "extra thing about going onto the steps of the guillotine."

Jerry Yester produced, his major role in shaping the recording praised by both Henske, who calls him "a wonderful thinker with strings and arranging," and Doerge, who hails his "terrific vocal arrangements. Jerry's very much a perfectionist on vocal parts, so we would sing that stuff ad nauseum. But it's the only way that the group could work, because they were complicated vocal charts. I personally had grave reservations about any band in which Judy's role as a lead singer was anything other than always outfront. In some ways, the democracy Jerry was looking for didn't serve Judy as a solo singer, because no matter how good Jerry or I might sing a song, it was immaterial if it meant Judy didn't sing the song. I think it was a time in Judy's life where she was raising [her daughter] and kind of happy to back off a little bit from being the wild and crazy solo Judy Henske, and willing to let her limelight be kind of tucked within a group." Yester, however, welcomed the chance to spread the vocals around, as "John Seiter was a fine singer, and Craig was a good parts singer. Judy and I loved parts singing, so we wanted to do as much of that as possible. It was a lot more rounded than just Judy and I."

"'Lorelei' and 'Lullabye' are two of the finest pieces of music that I think Jerry ever wrote for a group," adds Doerge. "The realization of those records was great as well, 'cause he was taking four very different voices. Our bass player and drummer were not big singers, but we actually sounded pretty good. Jerry knew how to give parts to everybody so that they sounded as good as they could. Because he knew how to arrange for a vocal quartet, which is what this was." Craig also admired Yester's orchestral arrangements for tracks like "Flying to Morning," where "there was a small orchestra, but they sounded great. I think Jerry works with a small orchestra not unlike Claus Ogermann, another great arranger. He gets a lot out of fifteen players because he can't afford more." From time to time the sound was also filled out by top L.A. session players, with Mike Deasy playing guitar on "Salvation" and "Reno," Buddy Emmons pedal steel on "The Yum Yum Man," and Ray Brown and Barry Zweig bass and guitar respectively on "Roll Home Cheyenne."

Yet after all the thoughtful craft that had gone into the group's formation and the album's recording, Henske says Rosebud played live just a couple of times (once at the Troubadour club in Los Angeles, and once in San Juan Capistrano) before splitting. Henske and Yester's marriage was breaking up, with Henske beginning a relationship with Craig Doerge, whom she's still married to, and with whom she still records and performs. Around the time Rosebud came out in 1971, Yester remembers running into Warners honcho Mo Ostin, "who said, 'Oh boy, we love the album, and we're going to give it a big push.' I said, 'Judy and I have broken up, Mo.' He said, 'Oh,' and drove off. And that was, I think, the last time I saw him. It was just horrible timing." With the band already dissolved, Rosebud's sole album enjoyed little promotion or commercial impact.

"That busted up the band," confirms Doerge, who would go on to play on albums by Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, James Taylor, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and many others, also recording as a solo artist, while Henske largely retired from the music business until her 1999 release Loose in the World. "I think if Rosebud had stayed together, we'd probably have been as big as Fleetwood Mac. But we suffered some of the same problems they did. That's great that it is being re-released, because Jerry and I have talked about it in the last few years hoping that it would be. Jerry and I both think there's a lot of great material on there, and it's wonderful that it's going to have the chance to see the light of day now."
by Richie Unterberger

1. Panama - 3:54
2. Le Soleil - 2:37
3. Reno (Craig Doerge, Judy Henske) - 3:57
4. Western Wisconsin - 4:00
5. Loreli - 3:54
6. Salvation (Craig Doerge, Judy Henske) - 4:03
7. Lullabye Ii - Summer Carol - 2:31
8. The Yum Yum Man (Craig Doerge, Judy Henske) - 3:36
9. Roll Home Cheyenne - 3:14
10.Flying To Morning (Craig Doerge, Judy Henske) - 4:25
11.Lazy - 2:51
12.Reno (Mono Single) (Craig Doerge, Judy Henske)- 3:58
13.Mercury Of Fools - 3:17
14.Hey Old Friend - 3:04
15.Le Soleil - 3:36
16.What's The Matter With Sam - 3:19
17.Easy On Me, Easy (Craig Doerge, Judy Henske) - 3:39
18.Father Of Souls - 3:46
19.Mercury Of Fools - 2:58
20.Hey Old Friend - 3:16
All compositions by Jerry Yester, Judy Henske except where noted
Tracks 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20  Previously Unissued

*Judy Henske - Vocals
*Jerry Yester - Vocals, Bass, Guitar, Banjo, Autoharp
*John Seiter - Vocals, Drums, Percussion, Bells
*Craig Doerge - Vocals, Keyboards, Vibraphone, Concertina
*David Vaught - Bass
*Ray Brown - Bass
*Barry Zweig - Guitar
*Buddy Emmons - Pedal Steel Guitar

Related Acts
1969  Judy Henske And Jerry Yester - Farewell Aldebaran 
1965  Do You Believe In Magic (2016 Blu Spec Bonus Tracks Edition)
1966  Daydream  (2016 Blu Spec Bonus Tracks Edition)
1966  Hums Of The Lovin' Spoonful  (2016 Blu Spec Bonus Tracks Edition)
1966 The Lovin' Spoonful - What's Up, Tiger Lily (2008 japan remaster) 
1967-68  You're A Big Boy Now / Everything Playing (2011 edition and 2016 Blu Spec Bonus Tracks Edition)
1969  Revelation: Revolution '69
1968  Zalman Yanovsky - Alive And Well In Argentina (2010 remaster and expanded)

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