In The Land Of FREE we still Keep on Rockin'

I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now

Plain and Fancy

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

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Freeborne - Peak Impressions (1967/2010 us, psychedelic masterpiece, 2013 expanded, 2007 digipak remaster and collector's item Vinyl reissue)

The Freeborne were a youthful Boston-based psych outfit whose five members, despite their tender years, all had considerable experience of playing a wide range of styles in earlier combos. Adapting their name from the movie Born Free and discovering the freewheeling creative delights of LSD, they signed to Monitor in early ’67 and concocted a set of highly psychedelic originals which were laid down at A&R Studios in NYC. Peak Impressions sold only modestly, probably because of a dilatory campaign of live appearances to support it. 

After the lukewarm reception afforded it the original Freeborne folded, though later incarnations with fewer or no original members did tramp the second-division concert circuit for a few years afterwards. Inexplicably, given their obvious talent, only guitarist Bob Margolin seems to have had an appreciable later career, playing in Muddy Waters’s backing band through most of the 70s and subsequently with blues-based outfits under his own name. There’s precious little documentation on the band anywhere, but the excellent It’s Psychedelic Baby website features an informative career interview with Margolin which includes insights into the Freeborne.

I was expecting this one to be good, having read complimentary accounts of it in both Fuzz Acid And Flowers and The Acid Archives. I was even more impressed when it arrived and the CD remaster proved to have been archived by Smithsonian Folkways whose estimable moniker now adorns the Digipak. And this is indeed an impressive collection. It’s notable for the virtuosity of the musicians whose ages ranged from just 17 to 19 and yet three of whom were precociously-talented multi-instrumentalists: and we’re talking orchestral hardware here – pianos, harpsichords, cellos, trumpets, flutes and recorders – not just standard rock frontline. 

It’s also remarkable for the variety and creativity of the material; one reviewer commented that there seemed to be too many ideas to fit into a single album, and I can see his point. Youthful enthusiasm ensured that nothing was left out and nothing left understated, and most tracks move through bewildering sequences of keys, metres, instrumentation and vocal stylings that give their definitively psych outlines a distinctly progressive edge. This is one to listen to right through several times to get the whole effect.

The lyrics are mostly generic trippy psych nonsense, but the music is invigoratingly original. Leading off with a soulful piano riff, the opening “Images” offers Byrdsy harmonies, pulsating bass and rippling guitar scales before switching into a baroque piano and trumpet waltz. “Land Of Diana” prefigures 70s prog, starting as a jazzy 5/4 and shifting into a bluesy shuffle after distinctly proggy organ and guitar episodes. “Visions Of My Own” sets a homely acoustic guitar and trilling flute against what sounds like a chorus of PDQ Bach’s infamous Dill Piccolos before mutating without warning into a military snare-drum march. “Peak Impressions And Thoughts” is all Piper-era Floyd with swirling Farfisa, spiky Syd-style guitar, fluid bass and crashing cymbals building to a furious final crescendo. “Yellow Sky” is definitive Britsike with wah-ed guitars, churchy keyboards and lots of tempo changes. 

The most conventional track, “Hurtin’ Kind Of Woman”, is a soft blues shuffle with jazzy guitar and energetic Hammond work comparable with the best of Brian Auger. Despite the multifarious musical landscapes visited here, only on the last two tracks does the band outstretch itself, with the ridiculously sombre harpsichord and cello, sub-Beach Boys harmonies and cod-poetic spoken voice outro of “A New Song For Orestes” and the unnecessarily lengthy and self-indulgent cod-classical piano/trumpet cadenzas and duet of the closing “But I Must Return To Frenzy”.

1. Images (Nick Carstoiu, Mike Spiros) - 3:38
2. Land Of Diana (Mike Spiros, Nick Carstoiu) - 2:56
3. Visions Of My Own (M. Spiros, N. Carstoiu, B. Greenglass) - 4:10
4. Sadly Acknowledged (J.Babbitt, M. Spiros) - 1:27
5. Peak Impressions And Thoughts (Dave Codd, N. Carstoiu) - 6:56
6. Yellow Sky (J.Babbitt, M. Spiros, D. Codd, N. Carstoiu) - 2:23
7. Hurtin' Kind Of Woman (Bob Margolin) - 4:24
8. Inside People (Dave Codd) - 2:50
9. A New Song For Orestes (Dave Codd) - 3:37
10.But I Must Return To Frenzy (N. Carstoiu, M. Spiros) - 9:06
11.Images (Nick Carstoiu, Mike Spiros) - 3:40
12.Land Of Diana (Mike Spiros, Nick Carstoiu) - 3:15
13.Visions Of My Own (Mike Spiros, Nick Carstoiu, Barry Greenglass) - 4:08
14.Sadly Acknowledged (Extended Mix Without Sound Effects) (Joan Babbitt, Mike Spiros) -1:18
15.Yellow Sky (Joan Babbitt, Mike Spiros, Dave Codd, Nick Carstoiu) - 2:20
16.But I Must Return To Frenzy (Nick Carstoiu, Mike Spiros) - 8:49
17.This Is It (Dave Codd, Nick Carstoiu) - 4:22
18.Take A Lick (Dave Codd) - 3:12
19.Lew's Blues (Bob Margolin, Dave Codd, Nick Carstoiu) - 7:05
Bonus Tracks 11-19
Tracks 11-16 Alternate Mono Mixes
Tracks 17-19 Freeborne / Reborne 2010

*Lew Lipson - Drums, Percussion
*Nick Carstoiu - Guitar, Recorder, Cello, Piano, Vocals
*Bob Margolin - Lead Guitar
*Mike Spiros - Organ, Piano, Chimes, Trumpet, Percussion
*Dave Codd - Harpsichord, Percussion, Bass, Vocals
*Tom Halter - Trumpet (Tracks 17-18)
*Aaron Smith - Drums (Tracks 17-18)

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Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Blues Image - Open (1970 us, outstanding blues psych classic rock, 2004 remaster)

When Blues Image launched into their 1970 chart smash, "Ride Captain Ride," the smoking lamp was always lit. But, with their subtle use of Latin Rhythms -- featuring tantalizing fretboard work by Mike Pinera and the addictive conga drums of Joe Lala -- this Tampa, Fla. combo proved themselves anything but a one hit wonder on their out of nowhere classic, Open. This 2004 reissue adds historical liner notes with quotes from guitarist Mike Pinera and percussionist Joe Lala.

1. Love Is The Answer - 2:35
2. Running the Water - 2:37
3. Clean Love - 7:49
4. La Bamba (Traditional) - 2:26
5. Consuelate - 1:15
6. Ride Captain Ride - 3:46
7. Pay My Dues - 3:49
8. Fugue U - 0:50
9. Parchman Farm (Mose Allison) - 2:49
10.Wrath of Daisey - 1:31
11.Take Me - 7:35
All songs by Mike Pinera, Malcolm Jones, Joe Lala, Skip Konte, Manny Bertematti except where noted

Blues Image
*Mike Pinera - Lead Vocals, Lead Guitar
*Malcolm Jones - Bass
*Joe Lala - Percussion, Vocals
*Skip Konte - Keyboards
*Manny Bertematti - Drums
*Kent Henry - Guitar

1969  Blues Image - Blues Image / Red White and Blues Image 
Related Acts
1970  Iron Butterfly - Metamorphosis (2010 japan SHM)
1972  Ramatam - Ramatam (2004 edition) 
1974-75  Thee Image - Thee Image / Inside The Triange (2014 remaster edition) 

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Saturday, November 30, 2019

Climax Blues Band - World Tour (1976 uk, superb funky blues rock, 2012 release)

Everyone seems to be getting in on the Climax Blues Band reissues these days, and now Major League Productions (MLP) are jumping on board with their re-release of the sizzling 1976 live album titled World Tour 1976. At the time the band had just released their strong selling Gold Plated album that contained the massive hit "Couldn't Get it Right" that really broke the band as rock superstars, showing the could do much more than play the blues. Colin Cooper (vocals, sax, rhythm guitar, harmonica), Peter Haycock (vocals, lead & slide guitar), Derek Holt (bass, vocals), John Cuffley (drums), and Richard Jones (keyboards) toured all over the world that year alongside bands such as ZZ Top, Aerosmith, Bad Company, Johnny Winter, BTO, and Lynyrd Skynyrd, but with the success of Gold Plated headline tours of their own were in their immediate future. This album captures all the excitement of a CBB show in the mid/late '70s as their blues side was giving way to pop, funk, jazz, and high energy rock.

Most fans generally look to their FM Live album from 1972 as the bands definitive live statement, but World Tour 1976 is a very close second, and features some excellent performances. Recorded October 16, 1976 at Nottingham University, the band tear through some strong album tracks, a few lengthy medley's & jams, plus hits "Couldn't Get it Right", "All the Time in the World", "Seventh Son", and other surprises. Near 10 minute opener "Together and Free/Amerita/Sense of DIrection" allows the band to get into some fiery musical interplay, sounding not unlike The Allman Brothers Band or The Grateful Dead, complete with plenty of scorching Haycock guitar licks. Haycock's guitar & Cooper's sax are locked in on the funky blues of "Running Out of TIme/Good Time Blues", and at nearly 13-minutes long the band really stretches out and cooks. Heavy blues rock is all the rage with "Mighty Fire", another vehicle for Haycock's fiery lead guitar work, which leads into his slide solo spotlight "Country Hat". Other examples of their groove laden, funky blues rock include "Chasing Change" and "Using the Power", while "Goin' To New York" is a throwback to their early Chicago blues style. Also, look for a wild rendition of the Beatles "Get Back" which is played at the end of their hit "All the Time in the World".

There's no indication on whether MLP remastered World Tour 1976, but the CD sounds quite good and is presented in a small LP styled sleeve, with a booklet stacked with live photos and an essay each from Haycock & Holt. It's a great live set of a band just hitting their creative peak and delivering stirring concert performances. 
by Pete Pardo

1. Together And Free / Amerita / Sense Of Direction - 9:52
2. Running Out Of Time / Good Times Blues - 12:51
3. Mighty Fire - 4:57
4. Country Hat / Come In The Kitchen (Robert Johnson)/ Country Hat (Reprise) (George Newsome, Anton Farmer, Colin Cooper, Pete Haycock, Derek Holt) - 10:05
5. Seventh Son (Willie Dixon) - 6:13
6. Couldn't Get It Right - 3:20
7. Chasing Change - 4:51
8. Using The Power - 4:15
9. Goin' To New York (Jimmy Reed) - 7:18
10.All The Time In The World (Colin Cooper, Pete Haycock, Derek Holt, John Cuffley) / Get Back (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) - 5:09
11.Encore Medley: Drum Intro / Hey Mama (Colin Cooper, Pete Haycock, Derek Holt, George Newsome, Arthur Wood) / Let The Good Times Roll (Leonard Lee) / Who Killed Mcswiggin / Get Into That Rock 'n' Roll - 6:13
All songs by Colin Cooper, Pete Haycock, Derek Holt, John Cuffley, Richard Jones except where stated

The Climax Blues Band
*Colin Cooper - Vocals, Alto, Tenor Saxes, Rhythm Guitar, Harmonica
*Pete Haycock - Vocals, Lead Guitar. Slide Guitars
*Richard Jones - Keyboards
*Derek Holt - Vocals, Bass
*John Cuffley - Drums

The Climax Long Hard Road
1969  The Climax Chicago Blues Band (2013 remaster and expanded)
1969  The Climax Blues Band - Plays On (2013 remaster and expanded) 
1970  A Lot Of Bottle (2013 remaster and expanded)
1971  Tightly Knit (2013 remastered with bonus tracks)
1972  Climax Chicago - Rich Man (2013 bonus track remaster) 
1973  Climax Blues Band - FM Live (2013 remaster)
1973-79  Climax Blues Band - Live Rare And Raw (2014 Release)
1974  Climax Blues Band - Sense Of Direction (2013 remaster and expanded)
1975  Climax Blues Band - Stamp Album (2013 remaster with extra tracks) 
1976  Gold Plated (2013 bonus tracks remaster) 
1978  Climax Blues Band - Shine On (2012 remaster) 

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Monday, November 25, 2019

Mystic Number National Bank - Mystic Number National Bank (1969 us, awesome blues psych rock, 2013 remaster)

Formed in Kansas City. Specializing in hard-edged psychedelic blues and propelled by Sebbo's fine guitar work, their sole album was taped in New York and appeared in 1969, but promptly sank without trace, upon which Walters joined The Hoodoo Rhythm Devils.

1. Blues Jam (Russ Booth, Bob Sebbo, Glenn Walters, Dave Lorenz) - 2:23
2. Good Love (Bob Sebbo, Glenn Walters) - 2:41
3. It Will Break Your Heart (Bob Sebbo) - 2:47
4. AC/DC (Russ Booth, Bob Sebbo, Glenn Walters, Dave Lorenz, Dick Weissman) - 1:44
5. St. James Infirmary (Irving Harold Mills) - 7:55
6. Beautician Blues (B.B. King, Jules Taub) - 2:23
7. Umbrellas (Bob Sebbo, Glenn Walters) - 3:40
8. Ginger Man (Geoff Muldaur) - 2:58
9. Big Boy (Bob Sebbo) - 3:32
10.Blues So Bad (Russ Booth, Bob Sebbo, Glenn Walters, Dave Lorenz) - 3:38

Mystic Number National Bank
*Glenn Walters – Percussion, Vocals
*Bob Sebbo - Lead Guitar
*Dave Lorenz - Rhythm Guitar
*Russ Booth - Bass

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Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Dirk Hamilton - You Can Sing On The Left Or Bark On The Right (1976 us, spectacular folk rock with jazz and blues elements, 2013 japan SHM remaster)

Dirk Hamilton was born in Hobart, Indiana and raised in California. At 14 he played in a Chuck Berry/surf music band called The Regents. For a 45-rpm record they were about to make, bandleader Houston Box had written an instrumental called ‘Orangutan’ but needed a B-side so Dirk whipped out ‘Truck’ the night before the session. He says it was the first song he ever wrote and ‘it stunk’.

Dirk: “I began playing guitar and singing songs when I was 8 years old. I was writing stories and poems before that. I always thought of the two activities as completely different and separate -- writing was ‘serious’, playing and singing was ‘fun’. Then I discovered Dylan and learned that songs could be just as deep as the best poetry. It was an epiphany! At that moment I knew what I wanted to do with my life.”

At 15, Dirk wrote two more songs for another 45, this one under his own name. Both records were on the IKON label in Sacramento. “These two were stinkers too but after what seemed like a real long time, I began writing good songs and realized I’d done it! I had enjoyed myself into a real songwriter poet!”

By the early 70’s, he was playing professionally in nightclubs in the San Joaquin and Central Valleys and in the San Francisco Bay Area. In ’74, he moved to LA where he eventually signed with ABC records thanks to Steely Dan producer Gary Katz who produced his first album, ‘You Can Sing on the Left or Bark on the Right’. Dirk went on to record 3 more major label records, another one for ABC (‘Alias i’) and two for Elektra (‘Meet Me at the Crux’ and ‘Thug of Love’). He toured the country with his band for 5 years receiving good and rave reviews for his records and live performances but somehow never became a huge commercial success.

After moving to Los Angeles from Stockton, CA, Dirk Hamilton attracted the attention of Steely Dan producer Gary Katz, who in turn helped him sign a deal with ABC Records. The result, the Katz-produced You Can Sing on the Left or Bark on the Right, is a quirky if occasionally misguided work, with moments of brilliance. Katz brought in a host of session pros, including Chuck Rainey, Elliott Randall, and Jeff Porcaro -- all of whom had previously worked with him on various Steely Dan projects -- to flesh out Hamilton's idiosyncratic, acoustic-based tunes. 

What makes You Can Sing truly worthwhile, and distinguishes it from the other singer/songwriter recordings bombarding the industry at the time, is masterful songwriting like the terrific "She Don't Squash Bugs," the detailed melancholy of "Wasn't That One Night Good," and the opening track, "The Sweet Forever." It would take Hamilton a couple of years to find the perfect setting for his songs but, nonetheless, his sharp wit, keen insight, and unique style are evident throughout You Can Sing on the Left or Bark on the Right. 
by Brett Hartenbach

1. The Sweet Forever - 5:34
2. Waterfall - 3:23
3. Little Big-Time Man - 2:42
4. She Don't Squash Bugs - 3:18
5. I Got To Feelin' - 4:47
6. Sweet And Cold - 4:33
7. Wasn't That One Night Good - 3:45
8. Grow A Rose - 3:31
9. When She Kiss Ya' Like She Love - Ya' Know She Do - 4:49
10.Ridin' On A Whale - 2:41
All compositions by Dirk Hamilton

*Dirk Hamilton - Vocals, Guitar
*Chuck Rainey - Bass
*David Hungate - Bass
*Jeffrey Porcaro - Drums
*Dean Parks - Guitar
*Elliot Randall - Guitar
*Larry Carlton - Guitar
*Louie Shelton - Guitar
*David Paich - Keyboards
*Ron Fransen - Accordion
*Milt Holland - Percussion
*Victor Feldman - Percussion
*Chris Hillman - Background Vocals
*Jim Gilstrap - Background Vocals
*Sherlie Matthews - Background Vocals
*Tom Kelly - Background Vocals
*Venetta Fields - Background Vocals

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Saturday, November 16, 2019

Dave Lewis - From Time To Time (1976 ireland, wonderful orchestrated folk blues straight rock, 2018 korean remaster)

David Lewis began playing guitar and piano and writing songs at a very young age, appearing in talent contests and on local TV in Northern Ireland. 

In 1967 he joined psychedelic band The Method who became Andwellas Dream in 1968. In 1969 while still a member of Andwellas Dream, he recorded some of his songs for a publisher's demo album "The Songs Of David Lewis". Intended as a calling card for his song-writing skills, this was a very limited private pressing, probably only a few hundred copies made, and is now a major rarity. 

Andwellas Dream released three albums between 1969-1971, the last two under the name Andwella. The band also worked on David Baxter's solo LP during this period. When Andwella split, David pursued a solo career. 

Two solo albums emerged on Polydor Records, "From Time to Time" in 1976 and "A Collection of Short Dreams" in 1978. The former is soft melodic AOR, the latter more uptempo soul. Both are difficult to locate but are bound to be somewhat of a disappointment to those expecting something in the vein of Andwellas "Love and Poetry" album. However the songs are well written and the playing excellent through. Not a million miles away from Boz Scaggs mid-70s records. 

Dave has also written many songs for other artists including "Happy To Be On An Island In The Sun", which was a worldwide hit for legend in his own lunchtime Demis Roussos. 

Disambiguation: No connection to the David Lewis who recorded the "Just Molly & Me" LP for Tiger Lily Records. 

1. Yesterday's Gone - 4:39
2. Papa Boy - 4:12
3. Good Morning - 3:25
4. We're Gonna Make It - 3:00
5. Our Time Has Come - 5:16
6. Ready To Rock'n'roll - 3:04
7. There's A Party Going On - 2:43
8. Follow Your Dreams - 5:11
9. Dedicated To You - 3:18
10.Going To The Better Side Of Time - 3:38
All titles by Dave Lewis

*Dave Lewis - Vocals, Guitar, Piano

1970  David Lewis - Songs Of David Lewis (2009 bonus tracks remaster)
Related Act
1969  Andwellas Dream - Love And Poetry (2009 Sunbeam extra tracks edition) 
1970  Andwella - World's End (2006 japan remaster) 
1971  Andwella - People's People (japan remaster issue) 

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Friday, November 8, 2019

Navasota - Rootin' (1972 us, tough southern boogie country rock, 2013 reissue)

The Year was 1969. The new Blues Rock music had taken the country by storm, and five lads from Southheast Texas had their own vision of how to create this sound. Steve Long (guitar), Ray Pawlik (guitar), Dicky Sony (vocals), Lindsey Minter (drums), and Paul Minter (bass) formed the band Navasota!

By 1972, Navasota had signed a record deal with ABC Dunhill Records, and they were off to Los Angeles to record the album Rootin´. This album was produced by Gary Katz, and Donald Fagen and Walter Becker of Steely Dan fame!. “Rootin'” was best described as bluesy-rock.  Powered by Sony’s growling vocals, group-penned tracks such as ‘Western Boots’, ‘$2 Bill’ and ‘That’s How It Is (Playin’ In a Rock & Roll Band)’ were tight and fairly commercial, though they didn’t exhibit a great deal of originality.  Far less impressive were the bands’ stabs at country-rock.  Complete with pedal steel and whistling solo, ‘Ballad of a Young Man’ was outright embarrassing.  As for the Fagen-Becker number, well it was okay though the lyrics were largely indecipherable.

This one album appears to be Navasota’s entire catalog.  Baxter went on to a stint with The Doobie Brothers before continuing his collaboration with Becker and Fagen in Steely Dan.  ABC tapped the LP for a single in the form of ‘That’s How It Is (Playin’ In a Rock & Roll Band)’ b/w ‘P. Farm’ (ABC catalog number ABC-11332).  Wonder if the band were aware that the single also saw a Japanese picture sleeve release …

ABC-Dunhill sent the band out on the road where they were teamed with the likes of Boston and Lynyrd Skynyrd, but sales didn’t amount to much outside of their Texas fan base.  ABC subsequently dropped the band, though they seem to have stuck it out through the late 1970s.

1. Western Boots - 2:44
2. $2 Bill - 2:18
3. Ballad Of A Young Man - 3:43
4. That's How It Is (Playing In A Rock 'n' Roll Band) - 4:16
5. Canyon Ladies (Donald Fagen, Walter Becker) - 3:57
6. Ole Slew Foot (Howard Hausey) - 2:55
7. I'm Leavin' (Chester Burnett) - 3:23
8. P. Farm - 3:41
9. Heat Of The Night - 3:38
10.Spring Creek - 2:58
All songs by Richard 'Dicky' Sony, Lindsey Minter, Paul Minter, Ray Pawlick, Steve Long except where stated

*Richard "Dicky" Sony - Vocals
*Ray Pawlik - Vocals, Guitar
*Steve Long - Guitar
*Paul Minter - Bass
*Lindsey Minter - Drums
*Donald Fagen - Piano
*Jeff Baxter - Pedal Steel Guitar
*Bryon Berline - Fiddle

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Monday, November 4, 2019

Aarons And Ackley - Aarons And Ackley (1971 us, wonderful folk rock, 2014 korean remaster)

Cleveland, Ohio-born Chuck Aarons and Portland, Oregan native Jim Ackley were both in their own groups in the 1960s, but both wound up in Canada at the height of the Viet Nam War. Aarons was excused from the draft due to an asthma condition (which his brother and father also had), while Ackley fled to Toronto while in a group called Thirteenth Story and touring with The Beach Boys.

Looking to continue his music career, Ackley made ends meet as an English tutor before taking a job at Capitol Records as a clerk in the promotions department, when a mustual friend introduced him to Aarons early in 1971. Aarons was a guitarist and Ackley was predominantly a jazz piano player. They started writing some material and occasionally played around the clubs in Toronto as a folk duo, and eventually got Capitol execs to listen to their demos, who signed them to a deal.

They were teamed up with producer Dennis Murphy, but wanting to shed the folk image and lean more towards a commercially palatable pop sound, execs insisted some session players be brought in. They included bassist Jim Rolleston who'd worked with Seals & Crofts and Gordon Lightfoot, and drummer Terry Clarke, whose resume included Jim Hall, Manhole, and Fifth Dimension. Their eponymous debut album was released in the spring of 1971. Two singles ensued to moderate success - "Let It Shine" (used on an episode of "The Mike Douglas Show" during a dance routine) and "Devil Song." "Swanee Song" was also included in a 1971 compilation album called THE CAPITOL RECORDS GUIDE TO CANADIAN CONTENT PROGRAMMING - VOLUME TWO.

But because Ackley was a draft dodger, they couldn't tour the US, and so for the next few months they assembled a back-up band and did the central Canada circuit. This was despite the fact reps at Captiol's New York office urging Aarons to find a replacement for an American tour.

Before the year was up, they released the single "NFS" while working on their follow-up, which came in the form of 1972's YOU AND I, with Murphy again acting as producer. It only spawned one single, "Bonnie Blue" b/w "Could Have Had Anything," but the record had a more rounded sound than its predecessor, incorporating woodwinds, trumpets, and a French horn. And unlike the first record, it also featured songwriting solely from Aarons and Ackley, without any outside assistance, and included other tracks like "Oh What A Good Time," "Truly," and "Five O'Clock."

But feeling they weren't getting the push they deserved, they moved to fledgling GRT Records in '74, where they cut four songs on a pair of singles over the next year or so - "Where Did The Music Go" b/w "Victim of Sorrow" and "Detective of Love" b/w "Beverley."

But with the label having financial woes, the intended album they were working on never materialized, and Aarons and Ackley both went on to other projects, including session work, and producing the likes of The Irish Rovers and Bob McBride after he'd left Lighthouse.

Following President Nixon's amnesty grant to draft dodgers, Ackley moved back to the US, settled in LA for awhile, then moved to Spain. After relocating to Vancouver, Aarons eventually followed him to LA and also got involved in movies, working on such films as "Winter of My Discontent," "Thornbirds," "Bird," "The Rose Mary Cloony Story," and "Quicksilver," as well as in TV, including working on "Dynasty."
With notes from Jeffrey Aarons, Toni Diotte, Ron Grahame, James Kavinsky 

1. Lay Me Down - 2:49
2. Willie Boy - 3:29
3. Devil Song - 3:01
4. There Is A Lady (Chuck Aarons, Jim Ackley, Larry Alan Morse) - 2:23
5. Take Me Home - 4:45
6. Swanee Song - 2:46
7. Annalee (Chuck Aarons, Jim Ackley, James Rolleston) - 2:38
8. Sleeping Gypsy (Chuck Aarons, Jim Ackley, Larry Alan Morse) - 3:57
9. Sailor Song (Chuck Aarons, Jim Ackley, Larry Alan Morse) - 1:47
10.Let It Shine (Chuck Aarons, Jim Ackley, Larry Alan Morse) - 4:57
All composotions by Chuck Aarons, Jim Ackley except where noted

*Chuck Aarons - Guitar, Vocals
*Jim Ackley - Keyboards, Vocals
*Terry Clarke - Percussion
*Rolf Kempf - Guitar, Jew's-Harp
*Carole Marshall - Cello
*James Rolleston - Bass, Vocals
*John Tank - Soprano Saxophone

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Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Harvey Mandel - The Snake (1972 us, outstanding funky jam blues rock, 2016 remaster)

Guitarist/composer Mandel was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1945, and has been an active and creative musician throughout his long, distinguished career—collaborating with the likes of Canned Heat, the Rolling Stones, Don ”Sugarcane” Harris, Charlie Musselwhite, John Mayall, Henry Kaiser, and Steve Kimock. The instrumental LP, The Snake, was released in 1972 on the Janus Label and was co-produced by Mandel and Canned Heat’s Skip Taylor. They did a great job balancing a multitude of instruments into a distilled audio picture, and, considering this record was released in 1972, Mandel attains many otherworldly, incredibly compressed guitar sounds in conjunction with low-down blues tones that still sound early-morning fresh to my ears.

However, not all of the compositions are standard blues fare. Songs like “Pegasus” and “Divining Rod” have great cinematic changes that Mandel rips over melodically. “Bite the Electric Eel” is a great fusion of tribal rhythms with Mandel playing compression-laden, Hendrix-like tones that sound simultaneously controlled and unhinged. Also, it’s extraordinary how much of his playing sounds “backwards.” Great stuff.

What I learned from this record is that guitar instrumentals can be melodic and innovative, and yet keep an eye on the audience. There’s no need to alienate the listener—or the integrity of the song—with self-centered pyrotechnics. Mandel and company combine great chops while grooving hypnotically hard. The Snake has fine playing by a large cast of fine musicians, including Pure Food and Drug Act alumni—Adolfo de la Parra, Randy Resnick , Victor Conte, Paul Lagos, and Don “Sugarcane” Harris—as well as Chuck Domanico, Freddie Roulette, and the great Earl Palmer.

I’ve been listening to this underrated guitar record—which I feel wasn’t reviewed fairly back in the day—for 40 years. It’s in my DNA, and it remains in my Top 10 instrumental records—right up there with Buddy Emmons’ “Black Album,” Jeff Beck’s Blow by Blow, and Jimmy Bryant’s Country Cabin Jazz. Not every track on The Snake hits it out of the park, but when this great group connects, it’s a grand slam.
by Jim Campilongo

1. The Divining Rod - 3:04
2. Pegasus (Jim Taylor) - 3:29
3. Linda Love - 2:32
4. Peruvian Flake - 3:30
5. The Snake (Harvey Mantel, Larry Taylor) - 3:06
6. Uno Ino (Harvey Mantel, Jim Carroll, Skip Taylor) - 2:36
7. Ode To The Owl - 2:40
8. Levitation (Charles Lloyd, Harvey Mantel) - 5:15
9. Bite The Electric Ell (Don "Sugarcane" Harris, Harvey Mantel, Paul Lagos, Randy Resnick, Victor Conte) - 4:11
All compositions by Harvey Mantel except where indicated

*Harvey Mandel - Lead Guitar
*Victor Conte - Bass
*Paul Lagos - Drums
*Randy Resnick - Rhythm Guitar
*Chuck Domanico - Bass
*Earl Palmer - Drums
*Jim Taylor - Piano
*Don "Sugarcane" Harris - Strings
*Antonio de la Barreda - Bass
*Adolfo de la Parra - Drums
*Charles Lloyd - Flute
*Kevin Burton - Organ
*Freddie Roulette - Steel Guitar

1968  Harvey Mandel - Cristo Redentor (2003 remaster and expanded)
1971  Harvey Mandel - Baby Batter (2016 remaster)
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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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Paper Bubble - Behind The Scenery the Complete (1969-81 uk, brilliant folk psych rock, 2018 double disc remaster)

Recognise this plotline? In 1969 folk-rockers Paper Bubble recorded Scenery. Despite some impressive songs by the band’s core duo, Brian Crane and Terry Brake, fine vocals and most of the future Strawbs backing them, the album sunk on release.

After decades of highly prized collectability, Scenery returns, along with an unreleased follow-up, instrumental mixes, a rare single and a final album from 1981. There are engaging moments throughout, particularly on Scenery, such as the epic period-piece Energy, and the pensive Tomorrow Never Comes Like A Silver Spoon. When it gets a bit too barefoot-in-the-park on Being Human Being, the band’s skilled delivery throughout helps compensate. Indeed, with blasting keyboards from Rick Wakeman, the frenetic Mother, Mother, Mother rocks your head off.

The second album showed interesting signs of artistic development on tracks like Somewhere To Belong. Despite this, the label cancelled the release and the duo returned to the folk club scene. Their return in 1981 is listenable enough, though occasionally too close to some of that period’s waterlogged singer-songwriting.

Nevertheless, full credit to RPM for tracking all this down and the package comes with a characteristically excellent, informative booklet.
by Steve Burniston

Post psychedelic folk-rock featuring the classic album Scenery plus its previously unreleased follow up LP, both with the song writing duo backed by The Strawbs.

In 1969 a classic folk rock album escaped on Deram, Scenery by Paper Bubble, produced by Dave Cousins and Tony Hooper for their then production company Strawberry Music. The album’s merits took a couple of decades to be recognised but today is now highly regarded (and with an average LP collectors price of £100 to boot). Recorded in the same year of release the producers engaged Rick Wakeman, and Richard Hudson, John Ford, Paul Brett recently of Velvet Opera, to back the Paper Bubble duo Brian Crane and Terry Brake, at Regent Sound engineered by Tom Allom.

The same team re gathered again in 1970, this time at Olympic studios to lay down the songs for a follow up called Prisoners Victims Strangers Friends. By now the backing band had gelled as a unit, along with Cousins and Hooper, as The Strawbs and sailed off into the sunset. Same time the initial return on ‘Scenery’ had failed to inspire the suits and consequently PVSF was left on the shelf. Happily a sound desk recording was preserved by Brian.

Thus RPM is proud to present both Paper Bubble LPs as backed by The Strawbs, plus the duo’s late 70’s single, and to round off Disc 2, following PVSF, their final work together the 1981 album I’m Coming Home.

As a bonus on Disc 1 we have been able to include freshly mixed versions of 5 songs from Scenery and 1 from PVSF, taken from the only surviving 48 year old multi track masters.

For the first time we have the Paper Bubble story direct from Brian and Terry in the booklet, plus photo’s from Brian own archive.

Brian Crane continued to write songs and in the 80’s had the distinction of an entire album’s worth of his music being set to Hindi lyrics and released by CBS India. The success of this led to one of those songs being re-recorded by another artist AMAR in the 90’s and again selling big numbers in the Asian territories. In 2018 a theatre production called ‘Poppyfields’ is being staged by Theatre Severn which features 8 of Brian’s songs, including 3 from the Paper Bubble era.

Disc 1
1. Fillin' A Gap - 3:17
2. Being Human Being - 3:14
3. She - 4:35
4. I'm Laughing - 3:08
5. Just An Actor - 2:26
6. Energy - 6:44
7. Scenery - 5:22
8. Mm Of La - 3:38
9. Silly Bit Of Sentiment - 3:13
10.Mother, Mother, Mother - 3:07
11.Tomorrow Never Comes Like A Silver Spoon - 4:43
12.Woman - 3:36
13.Loving You - 5:33
14.Sorry About That - 2:52
15.Mm Of La - 3:38
16.Mother Mother Mother - 3:40
17.Tomorrow Never Comes Like A Silver Spoon - 4:41
18.I'm Laughing - 3:09
19.Being Human Being (Alternative Version) - 4:32
Music and Lyrics by Terry Brake, Brian Crane except tracks 12-13 by Brian Crane
Tracks 1-11 from LP "Scenery" 1969
Tracks 12-13 Single 1980
Tracks 14-19 Unreleased 1969

Disc 2
1. Working Man - 3:08
2. You're Feeling Sleepy - 2:56
3. I Am, You Are, We Are - 3:31
4. Strange Days - 5:28
5. Amazon Song - 3:44
6. Afternoon - 3:56
7. Sorry About That - 3:04
8. Prisoners, Victims, Strangers, Friends - 5:14
9. Alone - 1:25
10.Somewhere To Belong - 4:36
11.Coming Home - 4:28
12.Marcia - 2:57
13.Time - 4:50
14.Everything Will Be Alright - 3:27
15.Got To Live - 4:10
16.Getting A Little Love - 3:50
17.Sleepy - 3:01
18.Change In Me - 3:55
19.Funny - 2:26
20.Saints And Sinners - 5:09
21.Alone - 2:29
Tracks 1-10 written by Terry Brake, Brian Crane, unreleased "Prisoners, Victims, Strangers, Friens" 1970
Tracks 11-21 written by Brian Crane and recorded as Brian Cane and The Stillbreeze "I'm Coming Home" 1981

*Terry Brake - Guitars, Vocals
*Brian Crane - Guitars, Vocals
*Neil Mitchell - Bass
*Rick Wakeman - Keyboards
*Richard Hudson - Drums
*John Ford - Bass
*Dave Cousins - Guitar
*Tony Hooper - Guitar
*Steve Layton - Acoustic, Electric Guitars
*Phil Vickers - Percussion
*Mark Tibenham - Keyboards, Bass
*Dek Byrne - Saxophone, Flute, Clarinet
*Pete Rowland - Bass
*Pete Board - Keyboards

1969  Paper Bubble - Scenery

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