In The Land Of FREE we still Keep on Rockin'

It's Not Dark Yet

Plain and Fancy

Music gives soul to universe, wings to mind, flight to imagination, charm to sadness, and life to everything.


Sunday, June 9, 2024

Mark LeVine - Pilgrims Progress (1968 us, awesome trippy acid psych folk rock feat. Ry Cooder, 2007 digipak remaster)

Mark LeVine is an opportunist, taking advantage of this year 1968, discographically blank for his mentor Bob Dylan, to follow in his footsteps. "Pilgrims progress" could have been a logical continuation of the masterpiece "John Wesley Harding" - 1967 as Dylan's shadow haunts these 12 compositions.

The album's title appears to be a nod to John Bunyan's Christian short story and allegory "The Pilgrim's Progress from this world to that which is to come" - 1678-1684. But here there is no question of virtue and puritanism: Mark Levine, draped in the trappings of the cursed poet, makes explicit reference to drugs and sex.

Among the studio musicians are a certain Ry Cooder, who no longer needs to be introduced, and the trio Jerry Scheff, Ben Benay and Toxey French, noted for having shared a few recording sessions with Curt Boettcher and publishing a obscure album under the name Goldenrod.

It's made with exactly the same features as Gentle Soul, and while that one has a soft rock or flowery feel, this one does away with excessive decoration, and has a finish that looks ahead to the singer-songwriter works of the 70s. It has become. Produced by Mike Deasy

1. Going To The Country - 4:21
2. Twenty-One Years Older Than Yesterday - 3:44
3. Dr. Grossman - 2:25
4. Purple Dreams Are Creepy - 3:22
5. The Love Song - 3:02
6. Richard Lee - 7:19
7. Miller's Crossing - 2:53
8. Texas Style - 6:37
9. Sure I Can Write - 4:53
10.Better Dad Than Dead - 5:19
11.Nothing More Is Nothing Less - 4:06
12.Periwinkle Blue - 2:27
Words and Music by Mark LeVine

*Mark Levine - Vocals, Rythm Guitar
*Ry Cooder - Acoustic Lead Guitar, Acoustic, Electric Bottleneck Guitar, Mandolin
*Michael Deasy - Acoustic, Electric Lead Guitar
*Joe Osborn - Bass
*Jerry Scheff - Bass
*Toxey French - Drums
*Paul Humphrey - Drums
*Larry Knechtel - Piano

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Redwing - Take Me Home (1973 us, fantastic dusty country rock, 2017 remaster)

A great record, with lots and lots of twang. They really upped the ante on their country bona fides: the album opens with the jaunty "Here I Go Again," an uptempo country-rock tune that's very reminiscent of the Gram Parsons-era Flying Burrito Brothers, followed by "Fast Locomotive," with some tight, funky chicken-picking guitar straight out of the Jerry Reed playbook, while the instrumental "Katy Warren Breakdown" showcases some awesome Joe Maphis-flavored flatpicking. 

Guitarists Andrew Samuels and Tom Phillips display a mastery of country picking that's head and shoulders above what most of the country-rockers were doing at the time, while guest fiddler Tiny Moore adds some sweet licks of his own, around Phillips' dazzling yet concise dobro and pedal steel. More conventional rock/pop riffs come into play on the boogie-funk of "Lost Highway" and the dreary slow-dance power ballad, "Our Day." 

As a viable regional band, Redwing might not have been able to set aside their hippie-pop and ballroom boogie roots, but even if those songs give the album an uneven feel, it's still packed with genuine gems. It's also worth noting that all the songs on here are originals, including the humorous, Doug Sahm-ish "Lowdown Samuel," co-written by fiddler-pianist Ed Bogas. If you're looking for a swell souvenir of the San Francisco country-rock scene at it's best, here it is. 

1. Here I Go Again (Ron Floegel, Tom Phillips) - 2:47
2. Fast Locomotive (Ron Floegel) - 2:18
3. Our Day (Andrew Samuels) - 3:30
4. Katy Warren Breakdown (Kay Warren, Arr By Tom Phillips) - 2:32
5. Lost Highway (Ron Floegel) - 3:54
6. Take Me Home (Tom Phillips) - 4:46
7. Lowdown Samuel (Orkin, Edgar Noel Bogas) - 3:32
8. The Maker's Chain (Andrew Samuels) - 4:12
9. Fingerlickin' (Tom Phillips) - 2:43
10.Burning Love (Ron Floegel) - 2:53

The Redwing
*Ron Floegel - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
*Tom Phillips - Lead Guitar, Electric Piano, Mandolin, Organ, Pedal Steel Guitar, Dobro
*George Hullin - Drums, Percussion, Vocals
*Andrew Samuels - Bass, Lead Guitar, Vocals
*John Myers - Bass
*Ed Bogas - Piano, Fiddle
*Dave Fraser - Piano
*Tiny Moore - Fiddle 

Friday, May 31, 2024

Redwing - What This Country Needs (1972 us, excellent crosscountry rockin roots 'n' blues, 2017 remaster)

A natural follow-up to the self-titled LP, this record is a bit bluesier than its predecessor, and not quite as gritty.  There are three cover songs on this album, all of which are based on basic 12-bar blues patterns.  Another strong album, although two Chuck Berry songs may be too much. 

While the band used songs they'd been playing for years on their debut, this LP finds the group with not as many up-to-snuff originals ready to roll--thus the number of cover songs. It's still a good LP, and the songs are well-done.

1. Reaching Out (Andrew Samuels, Tom Phillips, Ron Floegel) - 2:47
2. Baby C'mon (Tom Phillips, Ron Floegel) - 3:41
3. Waitin' In Jail (Andrew Samuels, Tom Phillips, Ron Floegel) - 3:30
4. Walking The Dog (Rufus Thomas) - 3:56
5. Soul Theft (Andrew Samuels, Tom Phillips, Ron Floegel) - 4:50
6. Hometown Boy (Andrew Samuels, Ron Floegel) - 3:39
7. Bye Bye Johnny (Chuck Berry) - 3:04
8. Every Man Needs A Woman (Andrew Samuels, Tom Phillips, Ron Floegel) - 3:23
9. One Of America's Ten Most Wanted Men (George Hullin) - 3:30
10.Oh Carol (Chuck Berry) - 3:06

The Redwing
*Andrew Samuels - Lead Guitar, Bass, Vocals
*Ron Floegel - Rhthm Guitar, Vocals
*Tom Phillips - Guitar, Slide Guitar, Piano
*George Hullin - Drums, Vocals
*Tim Schmit - Bass
*Dave Lyberger - Bass
*Dave Fraser - Piano
*Skip Mesquite - Saxophone

Monday, May 27, 2024

Strife - Rush (1975 uk, super power trio, solid hard rock with expressive lyrical themes, 2021 bonus tracks remaster)

British rock band from Liverpool in the mid 70's. They released two albums, Rush and Back to Thunder. Strife were formed by Paul Ellson in 1969 with Peter Trotman on guitar, Peter Hobbs on bass , and Ellson on drums. Within a few gigs, Gordon Rowley had replaced Hobbs on bass and also became chief vocalist. Around that time, Graham Kin also joined on keyboards and vocals, leaving within a year to return to studies.

Soon (1971), the band were joined by John Reid, ex The Klubbs, on guitar and vocals. They recorded a demo - 'Preparation' c/w 'Jerafter' as a four peice but soon after, Peter Trotman left the band and they were joined by singer Paddy Breen also ex The Klubbs. Breen's sojourn, however, was short-lived.

In '72, John Reid was badly injured whilst Stock Car racing. Peter Trotman stepped in temporarily but, at a Liverpool Club, Gordon Rowley was electrocuted and almost died on stage, being resuscitated by medics from the stunned audience.

Back together again, the 3 piece record "Magic of the Dawn" a demo recording organised by soul singer Edwin Starr who had seen the band at the Mardi Gras club in Liverpool. (Whist gigging nationally, Strife also often played local, Merseyside venues, sometimes playing Liverpool's Cavern Club, two or even three nights in a week.)

In 1973 Strife went to Los Angeles, they had an invitation to contact Mal Evans, Apple executive and former Beatles road manager. They had met Mal on a film set, 'Little Malcolm'. Although their act was considered too wild and attention-grabbing for the film's club scenes (some audience members spontaneously jumped on the tables, thus spoiling the shots) it's possible that the band may be seen as extras (has anyone out there checked?). Mal Evans was working in L.A. with John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. However, the media frenzy at this get-together was so intense that, a few hours prior to the arranged meeting, the ex-Beatles and their entourage had left the city for a secret destination where they could continue their work in peace. No-one, including Strife, were told of the departure or the destination.

As the band walked away from the abandoned meeting place, a pink Cadillac did a U-turn and pulled alongside. It was Edwin Starr. Through Starr they soon met up with R.Dean Taylor and recorded a demo album, both in L.A. and in San Francisco, with Taylor as producer. One of these songs, 'Better Man than I' turned up on the album 'Rush'. These sessions also resulted in the acetate 'Worry', believed to be now owned by renown Liverpool DJ, Billy Butler. Whist on a second trip to the US that year, Strife were offered a deal by the William Morris Agency to replace Grand Funk Railroad on their roster. For some reason, the band were unimpressed and returned to the UK to tour; gigs included the last night of the original Cavern Club.

Strife signed with Chrysalis Records in the UK in '74 and recorded 'Rush'. It was released in early '75 with a strong appearance in the Virgin chart (at the time, the main barometer of UK rock music). As the album was released, Strife toured with Ginger Baker led outfit, The Baker Gurvitz Army. Shortly after this tour, they were joined by guitarist Vic Pappaleo but, despite Vic being an amazing guitarist, the format didn't work out. Strife continued as a three piece, working solidly and increasing their fan-base. However, despite the band's popularity, Chrysalis, whilst going through a corporate identity crisis, refused to release any further material - yet they held Strife to their contract. Regardless of the legal situation, Strife were determined to keep recording and recorded the EP 'School', releasing it on their own label, Outlaw. (Their agent, Paul King was later to take the name 'Outlaw' for his highly successful concert promotions company). After Strife eased out of the Chrysalis contract, 'School' was quickly picked up and released by EMI .

During this mid-70s period the gigging figures showed that Strife were the most in-demand rock band in Britain. No band was safe from being blown offstage. Procol Harum paid Strife off, Judas Priest pulled out, The Average White Band turned plain nasty and Slade's manager, Chas. Chandler, gave instructions that his band should never have to appear with Strife again. Moving from support, from '73 onwards, the band headlined in major venues as well as famous rock clubs such as the London's Marquee and Frankfurt's Zoom.

This version will have three bonus tracks from their 1973 Universal Studio Demo of unreleased songs. Both versions will have updated original artwork, but enhanced and redesigned more in line with how the band would have wanted it to look like originally.

1. Back Streets Of Heaven - 3:19
2. Man Of The Wilderness (Gordon Rowley) - 4:30
3. Magic Of The Dawn - 3:27
4. Indian Dream (Gordon Rowley, John Reid, Paul H. Ellson) - 6:53
5. Life Is Easy - 2:55
6. Better Man Than I - 3:07
7. Rush - 12:02
8. Magic In My Mind (Gordon Rowley, John Reid, Paul H. Ellson) - 3:40
9. Tawny Eyes (Gordon Rowley, John Reid, Paul H. Ellson) - 3:09
10.Worry (Gordon Rowley, John Reid, Paul H. Ellson) - 6:42
All Songs written by John Reid except where indicated
Tracks 8-10 Demo recordings at Universal Studios, Los Angeles

*Gordon Rowley - Bass Guitar, Vocals
*John Reid - Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica
*Paul H. Ellson - Drums

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Slapp Happy - Sort Of (1972 germany / uk / us, brilliant art avant garde prog rock, 2024 japan SHM remaster and expanded)

Sort Of’s default setting is a pop Beefheart sketch. Sometimes this is vastly improved by ebullient and chaotic free jazz sax, as on ‘Paradise Express’, and sometimes not, as on the slight ‘Tutankhamun’. The seven-minute ‘Mono Plane’ is a masterpiece of this, though, where Faust’s rhythm section elevates the song far beyond its obvious debt to Beefheart’s ‘Mirror Man’ and into slamming, vice-tight avant-funk.

Faust had sounded primitivist and hypnotic like the Velvet Underground before – not least on their recently recorded ‘It’s A Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl’ – but never the prettier and more melodic version of the group. ‘Blue Flower’, sung by Dagmar Krause, is the latter.

Nobody gets a first prize for imitation, but ‘Blue Flower’ is an early version of a certain type of VU pastiche that would become ubiquitous across UK indie records about fifteen years later (and it’s to be mourned that more people will have heard Mazzy Star’s boring cover version than the triumphant original). Likewise, a thrillingly scrappy instrumental built on a twanging Shadows-style lead line somehow manages to predict the wonky guitar exuberance of Postcard Records. On the mournful ‘Small Hands Of Stone’, the arrangement mixes Canterbury with cabaret, and is the first recorded suggestion of Dagmar Krause’s interest in Weimar-era song and the work of Brecht, Weill and Eisler. This would become a vocation for the singer across her career.

Listeners can only make an educated guess as to what the experience of working with Slapp Happy might have done for Faust. Certainly, between 1972’s Sort Of and 1973’s Faust IV there’s an audible admission of pop ideas, brightness and melody that surfaces on now revered tracks like ‘Jennifer’ and ‘The Sad Skinhead’. These were not shades that were particularly audible on the first two Faust records. Though Slapp Happy are almost never considered when people write about Faust, it’s just as much a part of the German group’s white hot 1971-75 lifespan as the Tony Conrad collaboration Outside The Dream Syndicate.

Sort Of was released to little fuss in Germany and the UK, but Robert Wyatt’s championing of the record led them to sign straight away with Virgin. They recorded another album with the Faust rhythm section, which Virgin asked them to re-record with other musicians as 1974’s Casablanca Moon (the Faust recording only surfacing in 1980 as Acnalbasac Noom).

By that point, Slapp Happy were growing closer to labelmates Henry Cow. Where Slapp Happy were playful and optimistic, the music of Henry Cow was wintry, austere and far more beholden to complex time signatures. Those distinctions became apparent when the two groups consummated their merger, a move which produced two albums in twelve months, but really became an acquisition. When Blegvad and Moore decided to walk, Krause stayed put in the Cow. This ended Slapp Happy in 1975, but public apathy and record label indifference prompted a Henry Cow split three years later regardless.

Then something strange happened. The seemingly intractable differences brought about punk appeared to thaw after just three years. In 1979, Virgin records told the NME: “XTC are, if you like, carrying on in the tradition of Henry Cow and Slapp Happy.” That’s a funny way to speak about artists who the label had lost interest in only three years ago. It didn’t stop there. This Heat had been recommended to Anthony Moore by David Cunningham of the Flying Lizards, who was aware that Moore knew about tape loop experiments better than almost anyone in London. Anthony Moore co-produced This Heat’s 1979 debut. 
by  Fergal Kinney, 15 September 2023

1. Peter's Intro Poem - 1:26
2. Just A Conversation - 4:08
3. Paradise Express - 2:40
4. I Got Evil - 2:35
5. Little Girl's World - 3:36
6. Tutankhamun - 2:18
7. Mono Plane - 6:54
8. Blue Flower - 5:23
9. I'm All Alone - 2:54
10.Who's Gonna Help Me Now - 2:30
11.Small Hands Of Stone - 4:45
12.Sort Of - 2:24
13.Heading For Kyoto - 3:18
14.Here's Little Something - 3:15
15.War - 3:17
All compositions by Peter Blegvad, Anthony Moore
Bonus Tracks 14-15 recorded Live in June 25 1974 for John Peel, and broadcasted July 16 1974

*Peter Blegvad – Guitar, Saxophone, Vocals
*Dagmar Krause (credited as "Daggi") – Vocals, Tambourine, Piano, Woodblock
*Anthony Moore – Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
*Gunter Wusthoff – Saxophone on "Paradise Express" and "I'm All Alone"
*Werner "Zappi" Diermaier – Drums
*Jean-Herve Peron – Bass guitar
(Tracks 14,15)
*Robert Wyatt Ellidge - Drums, Voices
*Fred Frith - Guitars, Violin
*Lindsey Cooper - Bassoon
*Geoff Leigh - Saxophone
*Jeff Clyne - Bass

1974  Slapp Happy - Acnalbasac Noom (2005 extra tracks remaster)

Friday, May 17, 2024

Caliban - Insane Mentality (1973 uk, rough fuzzy hard rock, 2021 release)

Based in Ormskirk in Lancashire UK and formed in 1970 by guitarist Keith Hubbard and vocalist Roy Smith from the remnants of their old 60's band The Rebels, Caliban included, together with Roy and Keith, ex-Rebels drummer Chris Kenny and new found acquaintance, bass guitarist Ray Chapman.

The Rebels were formed by Keith, Roy and Chris in 1963, initially called The Nightriders they the acquired a lead vocalist Ian Gregson and changed their name to Ian & The Rebels, often re-named in other smart arsed band members graffiti scribble on dressing room walls Pian & the TeRebels, (they were probably right but never mind). When then singer Ian Gregson left the band, they became The Rebels. They were joined by Bootle singer Ricky Gleason, ex of The Topspots, and played The Cavern on many occasions and after Chris's illness saw him leave the band, The Rebels added ex St. Louis Checks drummer, Roy David, to their line up. The Rebels went their separate ways during 1967.

During late 1969 Roy and Keith approached Ray Chapman and drummer Chris Kenny, now recovered from the serious illness which forced him to retire from The Rebels, to discuss the possibility of putting a new band together, the basis of Caliban was formed. In early 1970 Roy and Keith auditioning in Manchester for the love rock musical HAIR. By luck more than management Keith secured a part in the show, soon to be touring all the major theatres in the UK. Keith had to move to London and do his initial work at the Shaftesbury Theatre. Keith's relocation and part in HAIR was initially seen to be a problem for the new band, but after a little thought and discussion it was decided that Keith's part in the musical could be used as a good marketing ploy for the band and while giving time for extended preparation, would allow the band immediate credibility when making their debut, it was decided that Keith would maintain constant contact, returning to Ormskirk each weekend to enable the band to rehearse. The only problem now was what to call the band, Ray, after a little thought, came to conclusion that the musical road that the band was taking was quite aggressive, heavy and in some ways downright nasty, being of a scholarly background and quite learned he came up with the name of the evil monster and maker of dastardly deeds from William Shakespeare's The Tempest namely; Caliban, perfect, the seeds where sown. Fifteen months later after an extremely successful first British national tour with HAIR, including two extensive seasons at Liverpool's Empire theatre, Keith left the musical and with Abendsterne Promotions of Hanover Street in Liverpool acting as the band's agent, Caliban were ready to hit the road.

The first gig was at the Ba' Ba' Lou Club in Seel Street Liverpool, the band received a good reception. A little later Caliban played the Knightsbridge Club situated in Liverpool's Duke Street, this was not as auspicious an occasion, the band where constantly told they were too loud and just about got through the night. There then followed a three week tour of Denmark, this really got the band together. On their return it was back to the Knightsbridge, the management after the night of the first appearance wanted to cancel the band as they were of the opinion that Caliban was not suitable for the club, but owner Paul Orr, who had been away on holiday was assured by Frank Delaney at Abendsterne Promotions that they were worth another look, the band had a great night, even if Mr Orr, standing at the back of the stage, did beat the s... out of drummer Chris's head with one of his drumsticks for being too loud. The band later found out from other bands that this was one of Paul Orr's favourite tricks, he would also arrive on stage at the end of the evening informing the club patrons to go home quietly, quote...we've got your money now p... your talking while your walking'...Ladies and Gentlemen, Goodnight!. Caliban became firm favourites at the Knightsbridge Club, they joined regular bands, Col. Bagshot's and Pepperbox, as ever present visitors to the club.

Throughout the following year Caliban established a following, appearing at many of Liverpool's favourite haunts including the Knightsbridge, the Ba' Ba' Lou, Dino's (later Gulliver's), The Victoriana, The Timepiece, The Mardi Gras, The Tavern Club New Brighton, as well as local comprehensive school and college functions. Caliban played extensively throughout the UK, taking gigs at university's, clubs, major pub rock venues, and festivals, including the Windsor Festival and a number of appearances at the famous Greyhound Pub in London, they also made further excursions into Europe.

In November 1972 while performing for the Old Swan Technical College's get-together at Liverpool's Top Rank Ballroom, the band were approached by then manageress of the Cavern Club, Freda Mullins, with a view to playing at the club. A date was set and Caliban made their first appearance on 19th January 1973. Five further appearances ensued before the final performance when, being included by owner Roy Adams as replacement for New York band The Yardleys, who, due to visa difficulties, were not able to travel, Caliban appeared on the bill for the final night at the Cavern Club, the date was, Thursday 27th May 1973. The famous old club closed its doors forever at 6am Friday 28th May 1973. The bill for the final night was Merseyside bands; Strife, Wardog, Bilf Slat, Harpoon (later to become Nutz) Caliban, Supercharge and guest band from London, Hackensack. The all-night session was recorded on the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio by London Music Management, they offered Caliban a management contract but, probably due to a little naivety on the bands part and negotiations broke down, never to be re-opened.

A little later with The Cavern now closed, Roy Adams offered Caliban a spot on the opening night of the New Cavern which was to be situated in what was once The Fruit Exchange immediately across the road from the old club, the date set for the opening was 16th AUGUST 1973, Caliban would be support to Roy Wood's Wizzard. Over the following year Caliban made numerous appearances at the New Cavern including being supported by now top rock act, Judas Priest. The New Cavern under new ownership later changed its name to Brady's then to Eric's, where-from, a new breed of Merseyside talent hit the UK.

On June 23rd 1974, drummer Chris Kenny played his final gig with the band. His illness had returned and he could no longer stand the rigours of life on the road. With replacement John McCauley in place, Caliban continued to tour but although John was a top drummer and while the band were still successful, things were never the same and, after a final summer 1975 gig at Warwick University, Caliban, supported by St Helens rock band Gravy Train and the then unknown Cockney Rebel, went their separate ways.
CD Liner notes

1. Hard Bitten Woman (Keith Hubbard) - 3:40
2. Heritage (Ray Chapman) - 4:07
3. God Damn My Soul (Keith Hubbard) - 4:25
4. Its All Been Said Before - 2:38
5. Solo Flight - 4:54
6. Little Queenie (Chuck Berry) - 3:28
7. Freedom - 2:40
Chris Kenny, Keith Hubbard, Ray Chapman, Roy Smith

*Chris Kenny - Drums, Lead Vocals
*Keith Hubbard - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Ray Chapman - Vocals, Bass
*Roy Smith - Lead Vocals, Guitar

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Elegy - Elegy (1972 uk, rough underground fuzzy psych rock, 2021 limited edition 380 copy first pressing mini card gatefold sleeve)

Firstly I would like to say that this account is how I remember it, not necessarily how it was. The '70s were a fantastic time. Things happened that made Reality seem not quite how they were, if you get my drift! Of course the passing of time might have something to do with it as well. So if anybody wishes to correct me then please feel free.

I had been playing in a band in Brighton called Attic. It was there that I met Terry [ex-Hellmet]. When that was exactly I don't recall but sometime later Terry had hooked up with the rest of Elegy [ ex-Gin House] and invited me to join. They were looking for somebody who could sing and play another instrument. At that time I was heavily into Jethro Tull and so the natural instrument was flute. We rehearsed in Ian Lambert's (or Larry as he became known) parents' house in Crawley. He'd padded out a bedroom with egg boxes and mattresses. Worked a treat!

After some time rehearsing the agent they'd been working for came up with a 6 week residency in a club in Vienna. I gave up my job as a Customs & Excise clerk and we accepted the gig. It was a Saturday and we'd said our goodbyes, packed our bags and were waiting for a call from the agent to say the deal had finally been ok'd and off we would go. This never came, but being young and impetuous we thought we'd go anyway. So into the transit van and off we went.

We arrived in Vienna nearly 24 hours later around midnight, called on the agent, Hans Hausner, who luckily had a flat for us. Well, I say flat, but it was one large room with a kitchen area and the running water was outside in the hall, along with a shared toilet. Luxury! We stayed there for our time in Vienna but did rise to having a second flat sometime later on the floor above.

We played in a club outside Vienna in a place called Schwardorf. Payment was enough for either a packet of cigarettes or a frankfurter on the way home with the remainder promised at the end of our residency. We were playing covers - Yes, Badfinger, Hendrix, etc. Slightly off the pop side and were well received. At the end of the stint we went to collect our money. The manager was nowhere to be found. I do recall some sort of car chase and then cornering him in a car park somewhere but all to no avail. He had no money and couldn't pay us.

It was after this that we decided to do our own material. The flats we were in had a cellar where we could rehearse We together an original set and proceeded to take Austria by storm. I can remember one time there were a series of gigs run I think at the Stadthalle with a name band playing each night. We recorded the single 'No Direction'/'Pain' at the Studios of Peter Mueller, Vienna. The only other recording to my knowledge is the one done at Club Electronic, which was recorded by placing a single mike in front of a PA Hopefully you can get an idea of what our music was like. By then Steve Day had replaced George because of a family tragedy. I added keyboards to my gear and the music took on a different steer again. I would say we were going into prog rock territory. What caused the demise of the band, I'm not sure. Elegy was a band that could have gone places with the right management but sadly is only to remain a long distant memory. 
by Chris Cox, 2021

1. Dream Of Life - 13:06
2. Thoughts And Dicisions - 5:27
3. Fortune Teller - 3:57
4. Eleanor Rigby (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) - 6:54
5. Lost - 3:50
6. Every Little Thing (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) - 6:04
7. The Prisoner - 5:22
8. Repercussions - 4:39
9. Man With A Plan - 9:26
Recorded Live August 1972, Club Electronic, Vienna

*Terzy Aiken - Vocals
*Paul Seager - Lead Guitar 
*Ian Lambert - Drums.
*Chris Cox - Flute Keyboards, Vocals
*Steve Day - Bass

Monday, May 6, 2024

Ruby Wheeler - No One In Your Way (1972 us, fine psych classic rock, 2023 digipak release)

On a sunny Southern California morning in late 1971, fledgling songwriter/promoter James "Clyde" Lutrell was hitchhiking and got picked up by a young man (Lyle) who'd recently inherited money from his grandmother. "Clyde", an avid "Stack" fan, shared his dream of creating an Orange County supergroup. Lyle was so impressed during the 30-minute drive that he offered to fund the project. Hence, the birth of Ruby Wheeler. From "Stack," Clyde selected vocalist Bill Sheppard and guitarist Rick Gould. David Mohr was selected to play keyboards. The search for a drummer ended with Leon Becken who also enlisted bassist John Durzo and guitarist Dennis LaPore. They entered United Audio studios with engineer Bob Stone (Zappa) and began working on material. A Mohr-penned tune ("Good Time Sally"), a Clyde original ("Rainman"), and two Burnap tunes ("The Dream Maker" and "Separation") were picked to start the project..

Clyde procured a large farmhouse on the outskirts of Orange CA and the group built a soundproof studio inside. Unfortunately, Clyde had already run out of money to finish the studio recordings, but the band continued recording their rehearsals after replacing Leon with Billy Carroll and eliminating Dennis as a 2nd guitarist.

Ruby Wheeler played a number of SoCal dates during its brief existence, including Chino Prison, Cal State Fullerton, Rio Hondo College, Penwinnies' Iron Foundry, Fullerton College, and Marina Palace in Seal Beach. Their timing couldn't have been worse as disco had hit the market in full swing and there weren't many places to play for an original rock band! The studio songs and live rehearsal recordings are offered here to complete the dream of what could have been.... 
by John Durzo and Bill Sheppard

1. I Think It's Time (Rick Gould) - 7:12
2. Rainman (James Clyde) - 3:53
3. Turnabout Question (Rick Gould) - 3:35
4. Understand I'm The Man (Rick Gould) - 3:37
5. China Doll (Rick Gould) - 4:14
6. Good Time Sally (David Mohr) - 4:38
7. Dream Maker (Tom Burnap) - 4:03
8. No One In Your Way (Bill Sheppard) - 6:01
9. Lovely Lady (David Mohr) - 5:21
10.Separation (Tom Burnap) - 5:11

Ruby Wheeler 
*Rick Gould - Guitar, Vocals
*David Mohr - Keyboards,Chamberlain, Vocals 
*Bill Sheppard - Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
*John Durzo - Fender Bass, Backing Vocals
*Leon Becken - Drums (Tracks 2,6,7,10)
*Billy Carol - Drums, Backing Vocals  (Tracks 1,3,4,5,8,9)
*Dennis Lapore - Wah Wah Guitar (Track 6)
*James Clyde Lutrell - Backing Vocals (Track 2)

Thursday, May 2, 2024

The Mob - The Mob (1975 us, fascinating soul funk brass rock, 2024 japan remaster and expanded)

 Chicago-based group called the MOB, a seven-piece “show band” that had been playing around the Windy City for years. Jimmy Jimmy Holvay and Gary Beisbier, go all the way back to 1964 with the Chicago chart instrumental “Beatle Time” as the Livers on Constellation. The MOB was formed in the mid-1960s and was one of the early rock bands that featured brass in the lineup. They were still charting records in the mid-1970s, and were quite influencial on the Chicago scene. For Colossus, they charted “I Dig Everything About You” [Colossus 130, #83] and “Give It to Me” [Colossus 134, #71] in early 1971, the last chart hits for Colossus. Their album charted at #204. Jimmy Holvay and Beisbier were accomplished songwriters, having penned most of the hits of fellow-Chicago band the Buckinghams. Other members of the Mob were Al Herrera (lead vocals), Tony Nedza, Bobby Ruffino, James Franz, and Michael Sistak.

1. All The Dudes Are Dancing (Jimmy Holvay, David Balteaux) - 4:35
2. Get It Up For Love (Ned Dohney) - 3:46
3. S.Y.A. (Jimmy Holvay, Gary Beisbier) - 3:55
4. Hot Music (Michael Randall, Jimmy Holvay) - 3:38
5. Rock And Roller (Chris Bond) - 3:17
6. Can't Stop This Love Song (Michael Randall) - 3:36
7. When You Get Right Down To It (Barry Mann) - 3:35
8. Magical Lady (Jimmy Holvay, Gary Beisbier) - 3:48
9. Just One Good Woman (Don Dunn, Tony McCashen) - 3:15
10.Who's Foolin' Who? (Steve Barri, Michael Omartian, Michael Price, Dan Walsh) - 4:58
11.Don't Let It Get You Down (Lee Garrett, Robert Taylor) - 3:03
12.Skysurf (Theme For The Hanggliders) (Gary Beisbier) - 3:47
13.Love Connection (James Holvay) - 3:18
14.Gemini Lady (Michael Sistak) - 4:02
Tracks 1-10 for "The Mob" 1975
Tracks 11-12 single 45' 1976
Tracks 13-14 single 45' 1977

The Mob
*Al Herrera - Lead Vocals, Tenor Saxophone
*Gary Baisbier - Alto, Baritone Saxophones
*Jimmy Holvay - Rhythm Guitar
*Mike Sistak - Rhythm Guitar, Steel Guitar, Trombone
*Tony Nedza - Electric Piano, Organ, Synthesizer
*Jimmy Ford - Flugelhorn, Trumpet, Baritone Horn
*Bobby Ruffino - Percussion
*Hal Blaine - Drums, Congas
*Dennis Budimir - Electric Guitar
*Mike Melvoin - Electric Piano
*Tom Scott - Tenor Solo Saxophone

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Umbra - Umbra (1971-72 us, remarkable prog psych rock, 2018 remaster)

Umbra was founded in 1969 and continued to solidify into 1970. Steve describes Umbra as “a progressive, psychedelic, jam group”.  I had the privilege of listening to the band’s “garage” recordings from that period and have to say this was a very diverse and talented ensemble. Steve recalled that the tracks were put down on a 4 track and a 2 track recorder and recorded at a band member’s home.

Most of the band members were from local Denver area high schools with the exception of Nick Melliadis who came from New York.  Steve attended South High School which wasn’t a good fit for him back then. “I didn’t care much for high school so I dropped out to pursue my music.” It was a decision that worked very well for Steve. He did achieve his GED, but more importantly acquired a rich and deep education in music with his adventures from Umbra up to the present day.

The name “Umbra” was selected by the band while perusing the dictionary – an exercise common with bands back then (and maybe even now). “Umbra translates to “shadow on moon”, stated Steve. “We wanted a name that was short, mysterious, easy to remember, and sounded cool.”

Some on-line Umbra band histories state that the group was a ‘weekend band’.  Faulkner corrects this, “The truth is, we were a full-time band.  We did a lot of four and five night gigs locally and on the road.”  Steve continues, “We did a ton of road work.  We had a very good regional reputation.”  Umbra appeared regularly in Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas as well as a few more States.

The original group was comprised of Steve on drums, Eric Frazee on lead guitar, and Terry Lewis on bass.  They were joined a little later on by twin brothers Gary and Larry Mann.  Larry departed in 1971. Nick Melliadis (alias “Nick Stoner”) joined Umbra later that year. Nick played guitar, harmonica, and sang lead vocals with Gary.  Gary would leave in late 1974 or early 1975.  The group continued on until 1976.

The band would work at many local venues including “The Rest of the Week”, “The House of Draught”, “Sam’s” on Lookout Mountain, “Tulagi” in nearby Boulder, Colorado, the “Eighth Infinity” at 1st and Broadway, the “Rathskellar” (which was recently destroyed by a fire) and more. “We appeared often at the Eighth Infinity”, Faulkner recalled. He continued, “We were literally the last band to perform at the Exodus in downtown Denver.” Steve explains that after the band had wrapped up their set, and were outside loading up their musical gear, the Denver police converged on the Exodus, stormed the entry and promptly locked the doors.

The Exodus was apparently delinquent in city tax or fee payments and were thus shut down, never to open their doors again.

Steve’s journeys through the local music scene put him in touch with Joel Cowan a local jazz musician who worked with the likes of Nat “King” Cole, The Ink Spots and Patti Page. Cowan would join up with a Chicago musician on Denver’s Band Box group releasing a LP on the Spicy Label titled “Party Time” (shown below). Cowan and Faulkner would become good friends and worked together for a time at Simmon’s Music on Broadway in downtown Denver.

Through his work, Faulkner would meet many, including Denver polka band leader Herman Dinges who was hugely popular throughout the Colorado Front Range. Steve would also become well acquainted with Denver recording star drummer Ronny Kae, visiting him often at Ronnie’s Drum City music store in Wheat Ridge, Colorado.

“I would come into the store and go back to Ronnie’s desk where we would converse while beating on drum pads to pass the time”, Steve recalled.  Kae would release an LP and several singles on Denver’s Band Box label as well as his own “Honey” record label. Several of his tracks charted locally on KIMN and other Denver area radio stations.

Steve can pull up band names, venues he frequented and acquaintances he made in a long succession:  Mr. Lucky’s, The God Father, the Fetal Pig, Aphrodite (at the Infinity), the band Mandrake, the Wild Ones with guitar extraordinaire Ron Morgan, The Crystal Palace Guard, The Fogcutters, Lothar and the Hand People, the Galaxy Nightclub on West Alameda and many more!

During the 1970’s Steve would join up with Monte Dale and the late Joe Martinez (“Little Joe”). They performed as a trio and Steve doesn’t believe that they worked under an official group name.  Steve fondly remembers Joe Martinez, “Joe (was) much more influential in my life than most people.”

Dale had earlier cut four tracks released as singles for the CLW label out of Edgewater in the western part of the Denver metro area. Joe Martinez was another Band Box recording artist who had been a member of the 1960’s band “The Fabulous Cyclones”.

Beginning in 1966, Steve experienced a rich career which included working at Fred’s Music headed up by musician/instructor Fred Tafoya, a figure who played a very important role in Steve’s life, as a coach, a mentor and a dear friend.   Many local musicians would come through the store befriending Faulkner with their mutual pursuit of excellent drumming and making music.

Faulkner would do a stint with a band called “Lightning County” from 1988 into 1994 doing a country and rock n’ mix.  Faulkner recalls, “Lightning County” began as a part-time band and then evolved to a full-time band.”  We played locally and on the road for nine months at a time – six weeks out – two weeks back.”

Steve continues, “This was the only time I couldn’t teach.  This culminated with the European six week tour when Desert Storm broke out.”

That band had the privilege of touring through Europe performing at U.S. military bases. They had to make a retreat to the U.S. when terrorist activity began occurring frequently and the U.S. bases were on alert.

Steve shared this: “Two other noteworthy bands that I played in would be the Jennifer Price Band (did an all original CD with her] and a band called Bustopher Jones. I played a lot with both bands. Once in a while, both bands merged. We called that band the Outlets.”

And today Steve continues to work with Umbra band member Nick Melliadis in a band called “Secret City”.  Bass player Nathan Baker came in a few years ago replacing Terry Lewis.  Faulkner and Baker had previously played together in a band called “Bradford Junction”.

Today Eric Frazee resides in the mountain town of Bailey, Gary Mann lives in Denver.  The Secret City LP charted nationally in 2019 entering the “Jambands” Top 30 for 2 months!

Steve’s long career continues to this day teaching drums. Among his other musical endeavors, Steve was a long-time drum instructor at Rockley Music which was located on West Colfax in Lakewood.   Rockley first opened in 1946 finally closing in December of 2019.

In the early days, Umbra never made it onto vinyl in spite of laying down the 8 tracks in one of their homes very early on in their careers. That would change when Steve would come into contact with Vincent Tornatore, the founder of “Lion Productions” located in Geneva, Illinois.

Steve recounts, “I worked on obtaining a recording deal with Lion for a good two years or more from the initial introduction up until the debut vinyl LP and CD were released.”

The owner of Lion Productions, Vincent Tornatore, did the final mastering of Umbra’s music.  Tornature started up Lion Productions concentrating initially on reissuing Canadian psychedelic bands and expanding to other genres and over time becoming, in Tornature’s words “champions of the obscure”.

“What was available to unknown hard rocking dreamers like Umbra in Denver in 1971-72? Weekend gigs. Nothing but weekend gigs. But there was an upside to that: bands like Umbra could mix original material in with covers, and make enough money to survive. Or in the case of Umbra, to make enough money to build a home studio, where they recorded ads to promote their upcoming shows—and eventually, laid down the eight tracks on this disc. Everything was recorded by bouncing tracks back and forth between two-track and four-track reel-to-reel tape recorders. Spacey intros and weird effects were created by recording guitar licks, then re-recording them played backwards at double speed. What sounds like a flute was the result of blowing over the top of a 14” goose neck (believe it or not).

The resulting tracks are hard edged and heavy, verging on acid rock at times. Makes sense, as Umbra was a power trio most of their too-brief existence. Yet the songs (heavy though they are) have a deft touch. There are weird effects, space rock elements, plenty of melody, and a refreshing category-free approach to writing songs that makes Umbra’s music exciting to hear.”

1. Jupiter Probe - 5:01
2. C Mr. Me - 6:17
3. Harp Strings - 4:29
4. Denver Over Glide - 4:12
5. Ho Pideous - 3:33
6. Bloon Moan - 3:13
7. Ides - 3:57
8. Siberia - 3:55
All songs by Steve Faulkner, Terry Lewis, Eric Frazee

*Steve Faulkner - Drums, Percussion
*Terry Lewis - Bass
*Eric Frazee - Lead Guitar
*Gary Mann - Vocals (Tracks 4-8)
*Larry Mann - Vocals (Tracks 5,7)
*Nick Stoner - Vocals (Tracks 1-3)