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"

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Tear Gas - Tear Gas (1971 uk, superb hard prog rock, 2019 remaster and 1993 bonus track issue)

Tear Gas, the Scottish rock outfit, released a pair of albums in the early ’70s that vividly highlighted their talents for guitar-based rock. Though the band kept up a rigorous touring schedule, it only really paid off once a few band members joined with Alex Harvey as The Sensational Alex Harvey Band. Still, Esoteric’s reissues of Piggy Go Getter (in its first-ever official CD release) and its follow up Tear Gas show the band’s early promise.

The Glasgow-based group originally formed in the tail end of the ’60s and included Eddie Campbell on keys, Zal Cleminson on guitar, Chris Glen on bas and vocals, Gilson Lavis on drums, and Andi Mulvey on vocals. By 1970, their lineup had changed.

By 1971, Tear Gas had undergone another shift in personnel as Eddie Campbell departed and Ted McKenna replaced Wullie Monroe on drums. Session keyboardist Ronnie Leahy stepped in during the sessions of what would become the band’s self-titled second album. He was a skilled player and, as Zal Cleminson recalls in the liner notes, “[Leahy] could do exactly what we needed.” The band’s goal for their next album was to create a collection of more rock-leaning material. While the debut had some Traffic-like hippie-folk, Tear Gas was inspired by some of their contemporaries to embrace a heavier sound.

To that end, Tear Gas took a stab at that Jeff Beck Group arrangement of “Jailhouse Rock/All Shook Up” and covered Jethro Tull’s “Love Story.” The latter, with its slow build and sudden dynamic shifts, was often the dramatic opener for Tear Gas’s live shows. With more than one scorching guitar solo and several intense instrumental interludes, “Love Story” was a far cry from some of the lighter fare on their debut. The medley of “Jailhouse Rock” and “All Shook Up” was equally heavy, with layers upon layers of distorted guitars consistently propelling the tunes forward, if sometimes burying the vocals along the way.

Other highlights include the rockabilly-inspired “Lay It On Me.”  Its crunchy leads, honky tonk piano, and layered slide guitar lines demonstrate their country-rock flair, which they amp up as loud as possible.  The Sabbath-like “I’m Glad” begins as a more straight-ahead heavy rocker with an array of propulsive guitar riffs.  After a lengthy solo, the band glides gently into the second part of the song – a more tender, ballad-like B-section with electric twelve strings, phasey drums, and yearning (if not particularly strong) vocals.  The band builds just as quickly into another rocking exit.

Though sales figures for Tear Gas showed much room for improvement, the album’s release brought the group attention throughout Europe.  In early 1972, Tear Gas opened for Alex Harvey at London’s Marquee Club.  By the middle of the year, faced with the fact that they weren’t going to reach the levels of their heroes, Glen, McKenna, and Cleminson signed on to be Harvey’s back-up group, eventually becoming known as The Sensational Alex Harvey Band.  Donning larger-than-life glam outfits and performing experimental-leaning music, the SAHB, as it became known, found a cult following in Europe.
by Sam Stone, July 9, 2019

1. That's What's Real (Davey Batchelor, Zal Cleminson) - 6:03 
2. Love Story  (Ian Anderson) - 7:00 
3. Lay It On Me  (Davey Batchelor, Zal Cleminson) - 3:44 
4. Woman For Sale  (Davey Batchelor, Zal Cleminson) - 4:23 
5. I'm Glad (Davey Batchelor, Zal Cleminson) - 5:43
6. Where Is My Answer (Davey Batchelor, Zal Cleminson) - 5:54 
7. a. Jailhouse Rock (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller)
...b. All Shook Up  (Elvis Presley, Otis Blackwell) - 5:44
8. The First Time (Davey Batchelor, Zal Cleminson) - 4:47
9. The Temptation Of St. Anthony (Alex Harvey) - 5:06
Bonus Track 9

Tear Gas
*Davey Batchelor - Vocals, Guitar
*Zal Cleminson - Lead Guitar
*Chris Glen - Bass, Vocals
*Ted McKenna - Drums
*Hugh McKenna - Keyboards (Track 9)
*Alex Harvey - Vocals (Track 9)

Related Act
1972-73  The Senstational Alex Harvey Band - Framed / Next (2002 remaster and 2014 japan SHM) 
1976  The Sensational Alex Harvey Band - British Tour '76 (2004 remaster) 

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Friday, July 3, 2020

The Alabama State Troupers - Alabama State Troupers Road Show (1971 us, awesome blend of traditional folk spiritual electric blues, 2016 double disc remaster)

Today, it's almost unthinkable that a major record label would send a 15-piece band fronted by a 78-year-old bluesman and two virtually unknown singers on the road for promotional tour dates at $1.50 per ticket. But that's precisely what Elektra Records did in 1971, when the Alabama State Troupers hit the circuit. The glorious results are heard on this reissue of the group's lone live album, issued as a two- LP set in 1972 and released legitimately on CD for the first time here. Point man for this unorthodox trek was Don Nix, who had already inscribed his name in music history by the time the Troupers took to the highway. His tale is told in detail in his literally delicious 1997 book Road Stories and Recipes, which mates Nix's rich curriculum vilae with down-home culinary treats proffered by a host of famous colleagues. (Nix plans to re release his memoir in 2014.)

A Memphis native, Nix was the founding baritone saxophonist of the Royal Spades, a Bluff City R&B group that also included his high school buddies, guitarist Steve Cropper and bassist Donald "Duck" Dunn (later of Booker T. & the M.G.'s), and saxophonist Charles "Packy" Axton. Rechristened the Mar-Keys (an adaptation of the Marquis, a handle suggested by Nix), the group cut the 1961 single "Last Night," which became the first instrumental smash for Stax Records, the Memphis label co owned by Axton's mother Estelle. After tearing up the chitlin circuit in front of black audiences thunderstruck by the soulful skills of the young, white players, the Mar Keys disbanded in 1965. Nix soon learned the fundamentals of record engineering at John Fry's Memphis studio Ardent and became a house producer at Stax; he also served on the label's famed all-star tour of Europe and Scandinavia. During a sojourn in Los Angeles, he became a close associate of Leon Russell, and jammed with the Tulsa-bred musician's massive Electric Horn Band, which planted the seeds of his own live project to come.

"Leon put together the Electric Horn Band right before [Joe Cocker's] Mad Dogs & Englishmen [big band]," Nix says today. "We'd rehearse every Sunday afternoon in the warehouse over in Studio City. Some Sundays there would be 30 people – maybe two or three drummers and two or three keyboards. It was an amazing thing. We did it just for fun. That's kinda what started it all." Nix became the first artist besides Russell signed by Denny Cordell's Shelter Records, and released his debut solo album, In God We Trust, on the label in 1971. Like that record, a follow-up, Living By the Days, was recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound, the Alabama studio established in 1969 by the former house rhythm section at Rick Hall's nearby FAME facility. Impatience with Shelter led Nix to secure a release and sign with Elektra, which picked up the second album.

In '71, Elektra was making a major investment in acts forwarding a funky amalgamation of rock, R&B, blues, country, and gospel, and Nix became a major player in the mix. He had co-written four songs with singer-guitarist Lonnie Mack (of "Wham!" and "Memphis" renown) for The Hills of Indiana, Mack's third album for the company. He had also produced Maty Called Jeanie Greene, the debut album by seasoned backup singer Greene, a gospel-infused belter who like her thenhusband Marlin was a key performer on sessions at Muscle Shoals. The label's Nashville A&R chief Russ Miller envisioned a low-priced package tour that would jointly promote Mack, Nix, and Greene. It was left to Nix to assemble a band.

Nix says, "I loved Muscle Shoals, 'cause I'd been working down there, and I loved most everything in Memphis. So I got half my players from Muscle Shoals and half from Memphis. I think we had 15 people altogether. I had two drummers, two guitar players, two keyboard players, six background singers." The supporting players were dubbed the Mt. Zion Band & Choir, after a Baptist church spotted during an Alabama photo shoot. From Muscle Shoals Sound, Nix drew Marlin Greene, keyboardist Clayton Ivey, bassist Bob Wray, and hotshot guitarists Wayne Perkins and Tippy Armstrong. Drummer Fred Prouty joined from FAME. The Memphis contingent included keyboardist Ken Woodly and Jerry Lee Lewis' longtime drummer Tarp Tarrant. Brenda Patterson and the vocal trio the Minutes (Mary Anderson, Carolyn Watkins, and Marianne Watkins) were drafted for choral duties. It was a huge group for the day, but its big sound had already been successfully exploited commercially by Delaney and Bonnie & Friends and Cocker and Russell's Mad Dogs & Englishmen, both of which had involved Russell's participation.

Nix says. "I was doing that stuff back in the '60s. I worked with Leon for five years, from '63 to '69. My gig was always a soul choir, having background singers singing like they were in church. He kinda got that...I always had two drummers. That's a really dynamic thing in a live concert. Leon had three of 'em on Mad Dogs & Englishmen. I'm not saying I started it or he started it." Disaster nearly struck the Troupers during the ramp-up for the tour, when without explanation Mack bolted after only three days of rehearsals in Muscle Shoals. "He just split," Nix says. "We went into his room that morning, and he had the Bible open to a passage - 'Get thee out of Zion.' I guess he took that as a sign. I called the people at Elektra and told 'em, and they said, 'What you gonna do?' I said, 'Furry Lewis!' It was a godsend."

A close friend of Nix's since the early '60s, septuagenarian singer and slide guitarist Lewis had recorded several indelible acoustic blues sides in 1927-29, then retreated from music to work as a Memphis street sweeper. Rediscovered by folklorist Sam Charters in 1959, he had cut new albums during the '60s blues revival, but was scarcely known outside the universe of genre aficionados. Lewis had made cameo appearances on both of Nix's studio albums. "It was just fate that I was gonna get to take him all over the country and expose him to all these people who had never heard of the Delta blues, mostly in California and Washington state," Nix says. After warm up gigs in Louisiana, Nix's party-hearty rock 'n' roll caravan reached the West Coast, where at one location they received an unusual greeting. "We flew into San Francisco," Nix remembers, "and on the Holiday Inn sign was, 'WELCOME ALABAMA STATE TROUPERS.' About the second night we were there, I got a phone call, said, There's some people down here that want to talk to you.' I said, 'Who is it?' They said, 'California Highway Patrol.' They thought we were the real Alabama State Troopers, although it was spelled different, come out for a convention or some shit. I said, Tell 'em I don't think they want to talk to us.'" Lewis - who sat onstage after the conclusion of his acoustic opener in a rocking chair set on a vintage Persian rug - proved a scene-stealing favorite of the assembled hippie multitudes. ("Halfway through the first song, they were on their feet," Nix says.) One impromptu epiphany from Lewis in Monterey, California, literally stopped the show. 

"It was real overcast," Nix recollects. "We're about halfway through our show, and Furry stands up, and everybody stopped playing. He had a wooden leg, so he kinda hobbled up to the microphone, and he looked up at the sky. And I swear to you, the sun came out came out from behind the clouds right on him, right on his face. Everybody just stopped - there were 6,000 or 7,000 people out there. He looked up and said, 'A chicken ain't nothin' but a bird.' It was like somebody rolled a bowling ball through the crowd. They had no idea what it meant, but it was hip." The electric portion of the Troupers' set included gospel shouters sung by Greene and Nix and barn-burning, soul-infused rockers essayed by Nix. The band invariably closed the show with "Goin' Down," an insistent Nix composition first recorded by the Memphis band Moloch and later memorably covered by Freddie King and Jeff Beck, among others. 

Of special note were the searing solos by Perkins - who would soon audition to replace Mick Taylor in the Rolling Stones – and the lesser-known Armstrong, a veteran of sessions with Tony Joe White, Albert King, and Linda Ronstadt and a glamorous, deeply tormented character. Nix says, "One night on the tour, we were in Pasadena. They would have three or four spots, and sometimes on a guitar solo they'd shine 'em on Tippy, and he would step out of the spotlight into the dark, and he would watch his hand go up in the air. That night I asked him, Tippy, what are you doin' in the dark?' He said, 'Oh, I just like watchin' the sparks fly off my fingers.*" Recorded at dates in Pasadena and Long Beach, California, The Alabama State Troupers: Road Show is a flavorful memento of lush rock 'n' roll days gone by. But it is no mere curio: robust and puissant, it can hold its own with other classics of Southern rock's first great era.
by Chris Morris, Los Angeles, September 2013

Disc 1
1. Furry's Blues (Furry Lewis) - 8:09
2. Brownsville (Furry Lewis) - 4:43
3. I'm Black (Furry Lewis) - 2:03
4. A Chicken Ain't Nothin' But A Bird (Furry Lewis) - 2:59
5. Will The Circle Be Unbroken (Traditional) - 4:18
6. Amos Burke (Don Nix) - 2:40
7. Mighty Time (Don Nix) - 2:56
8. Jesus On The Mainline (Traditional) - 3:54
9. Mary Louise (Don Nix) - 3:15
10.Yes, I Do Understand (Jeanie Greene) - 3:30

Disc 2
1. Opening (Bill Pillmore, Pete Kowalke) - 4:29
2. Living In The Country (Bill Pillmore, Scott Boyer) - 2:49
3. Joa-Bim (Tippy Armstrong) - 3:09
4. Dixie (Traditional) - 2:25
5. Heavy Makes You Happy (Bobby Mann, Jeff Barry) - 3:05
6. Iuka (Don Nix) - 5:44
7. Furry's Rap - 1:04
8. Asphalt Outlaw Hero (Don Nix) - 4:10
9. Olena (Don Nix) - 4:15
10.My Father's House (Traditional) - 4:05
11.Going Down (Don Nix) - 6:49
Recorded October 15, 1971 at Long Beach Civic Auditorium, Long Beach, California, and October 17, 1971 at Pasadena Civic Auditorium, Pasadena, California.

The Alabama State Troupers
*Furry Lewis - Vocals
*Don Nix - Vocals
*Jeanie Greene - Vocals, Piano
*Marlin Greene - Vocals
*Wayne Perkins - Vocals
*Marianne Watkins - Vocals
*Carolyn "Pepper" Watkins - Vocals
*Mary "Bouche" Anderson - Vocals
*Bob Wray - Bass
*Fred Prouty - Drums
*Tarp Tarrant - Drums
*Tippy Armstrong - Guitar
*Wayne Perkins - Guitar
*Ken Woodly - Organ
*Clayton Ivey - Piano

Related Act
1971  Don Nix - In God We Trust (2016 SHM remaster)
1971  Don Nix - Living By The Days (2011 japan SHM remaster)
1976  Don Nix - Gone Too Long (2018 japan remaster) 
1970  Johnny Jenkins - Ton Ton Macoute! (HDCD remaster) 

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Tuesday, June 30, 2020

John Cipollina - Raven (1975-76 us, stunning guitar rock, 2006 remastered and expanded)

Well it's coming up on thirty years since Raven first came together. Out of their ten members, maybe six of them are still left to spread the rumors. There isn't a lot that can be written about a band that lasted barely 10 months, and that played at best, maybe 11 shows. And when you consider that after all this time some of the memories and recollections of the surviving band members may be just a little but fuzzy. Here's their story.

Feeling restless with the lack of gigs with Terry & The Pirates, John Cipollina decided to start his dream band Raven, taking with him members of "the Pirates", Quicksilver and Copperhead for this new project. Raven was John's concept of a "Big Band" - 2 guitarists, 2 drummers, 2 keyboardists, 2 singers, and 1 bass player.

During their reign on the Bay Area music scene Raven included - John Cipollina from Quicksilver Messenger Service and Copperhead on lead guitar; Greg Douglass from Country Weather and Hot Tuna on lead guitar; Skip Olson from Boyd Albritton's band The Jones Boys and Quicksilver on bass guitar; Andy Kirby from King Kong on drums & lead vocals; David Weber from Copperhead and Front Page Review (a band he played with in Boston in 1968) on drums; Jasper "Hutch" Hutchinson from The Jones Boys on vocals & synthesizer; Nicky Hopkins from the Jeff Beck Group and The Rolling Stones on piano; Jim McPherson from Stained Glass and Copperhead on keyboards & vocals; Clay Cotton from the Charlie Musselwhite Band on keyboards and Dave Walker from Fleetwood Mac and Savoy Brown on vocals. (John told me once that he felt that Dave Walker was one of the best vocalists he'd ever worked with). It should also be mentioned that by this time John, Greg, Jim, Nicky, David and Andy had all been members of Terry & The Pirates.

In the beginning, but unknown at the time, Raven was born out of a rehearsal at Cipollina's Black Dragon Studio on December 9, 1975 with John Cipollina, Greg Douglass, Nicky Hopkins, Hutch Hutchinson, Terry Dolan, David Weber, Andy Kirby and Dallas Anderson (who played bass that night and was the "caretaker" of John's Corte Madera studio).

As these jam sessions began to take place, they gradually grew into "actual band rehearsals". John and Greg Douglass had often talked about a "serious" project together, but somehow, something always got in the way. But this time they were determined to start a band. Before John ultimately chose Raven for the band's name he was considering as possible contenders Jewel, California Vipers, Rangers, Witness, Prophet and Powerhouse.

Raven rehearsed non-stop for about six months before their first show, although, if you ask the band, it felt more like a year. But John wanted to make sure that Raven was well-rehearsed and ready to play "the Big Time" before they played out.

They probably rehearsed too much because by the time they were ready to play out, some of the songs already seemed old, not to mention that they were burned out on the lack of gigs and a lack of money! According to Greg Douglass "John had a serious case of cold feet". "John", we'd say, "let's go out and do some gigs, man!" "We're not ready", he'd reply. Raven did finally do some scattered gigs. As Greg Douglass put it "The only thing that would have made it all better is if we could've played out more".

Their first show was on June 27, 1976 at Sundance, a small club up in the mountains near Lake Tahoe, Nevada. John wanted to get out of town to debut the band in secret, far away from the familiar surroundings and scrutiny of the San Francisco Bay Area, and unleash this new band on an unsuspecting audience. Skip Olson blew off a gig with Quicksilver to play these shows, pissing off Gary Duncan and Dino Valenti, and subsequently getting kicked out of Quicksilver. Jim McPherson played bass at these gigs because Skip was too sick to play. By all accounts it was a disastrous weekend.

Gary Douglass recalls: "We did this three-night stand in Nevada that still stands near the top of my Worst Gigs Ever List. The first night, the crowd was small but extremely surly. Huge guys would come in small groups and end up scowling and yelling at the band. It turns out the place was a whorehouse that had just been converted into a rock 'n' roll club, without the knowledge of the former patrons. It was an ugly, ugly three days".

Raven then played several back to back Friday/Saturday night gigs: at the Keystone in Berkeley on July 16/17; at the LongBranch Saloon in Berkeley on August 13/14 and then it was back to the Keystone on August 19/20; Jim McPherson played keyboards at the July and August Keystone shows and possibly at the LongBranch Saloon appearances. (There remains some doubt as to whether it was Nicky Hopkins or Jim McPherson that played the LongBranch shows.) On the way to the July 17th Keystone gig, Skip was pulled over by the cops for speeding and not having a driver's licence, which is why their first set was short.

For their last gig on September 4, 1976, also at the Keystone, Clay Cotton played keyboards; Andy Kirby stepped out from behind the drums and was singing lead voals (leaving David Weber as the only drummer), and featuring their new vocalist Dave Walker on a few songs. (Now whether or not Dave played more than one show or if both Keystone shows scheduled for that weekend actually took place, no one can remember).

The songs Raven played showcased the music and songwriting skills of Joh Cipollina, Greg Douglass and Jim McPherson, with the occasional cover tune thrown in for fun. As Greg Douglass put it "A lot of Raven's songs were structurally pretty strange, but at the same time pretty well written and well performed".

Other songs that were part of Raven's repertoire included: Takes All Kinds, Post Scripts, Special Kind of Love, Wet Wild & Warm, All American Boy, Fingers, Snake Eyes, Cloye, Rain or Come Shine, Your Move, She's That Kind of Woman, Moon Light Traveler, Vampira, Saw Tooth, Fever Dreams, Oxblood, and Two Roads (A song by Boyd Albritton).

Over the years there has been much confusion over the identity of Hutch Hutchinson in Raven which is Jasper "Hutch" Hutchinson. The "Hutch Hutchinson" that played bass with Copperhead, Terry & The Pirates and who plays with Bonnie Raitt is "James" Hutch Hutchinson. Jasper was introduced to Cipollina by James, but was brought in to Raven by Skip Olson. (Where is the scorecard to keep this information straight when you need one?)

In 1975 Skip was playing with Cipollina in the reunited Quicksilver Messenger Service and recording at Wally Heider's world renowned studio in San Francisco with Boyd Albritton on guitar & vocals, along with Hutch Hutchinson, Nicky Hopkins, Greg Douglass, Michael Lewis (keyboards), with Sammy Piazza & Harold Aceves (who had also played with Quicksilver) on drums. (In 1998 these recordings were released as Boyd Albritton Band Prehistoric Raven.) John liked Boyd's song "Clouds" so much that he recorded it for the Raven album; Boyd in appreciation of this insisted that John shared the writing credit with him.

Reflecting back Andy Kirby feels that "Cipollina made sure that there were 2 drummers, 2 singers and 2 keyboard players because, in the event someone called in sick, John could still go out and play the gig". Andy also recalls that Beach Boy Blondie Chaplin was being considered as a possible member for Raven and even came over and jammed one day. "He was considered for the band, but I don't recall ever having met the man. John loved his singing & playing. I do remember that" says Greg Douglass.

Having Nicky Hopkins in the band made for some interesting moments. "For instance, there was the high note high dive" factor as Greg Douglass calls it. "Nicky would do one of those spectacular runs up the keyboard all the way to the top note... and keep going, and all of a sudden Bang! He was off the stool and on the floor. To keep Nicky from being seriously injured, Dallas Anderson rigged up a canvas seat belt to prevent any further chromatically-driven spills."

At one rehearsal Raven found themselves being surrounded by a S.W.A.T. team, who thought they were the Symbionese Liberation Army (the group of radicals that kidnapped Patty Hearst). It seems that the band had been shooting at bottles with some of John's extensive gun collection whe a neighbor called the cops, saying they[sic] we're terrorists. A great deal of fast talking was done to convince the gun-toting police specialists that they were just a bunch of goofy old guitar pickers. Dallas did a nice job of hiding Cipollina's M-16s while the band engaged the S.W.A.T. team leader at the front door.

Playing with Raven was a stretch for Clay Cotton because he had come from a Blues & R&B background and Raven was a rock 'n' roll band. He was brought to the band by Skip Olson with whom he worked with in Charlie Musselwhite's band. Clay remembers being treated with dignity and nobility when he met John and Raven and found John to be a gentleman and a true world class artist. "He was clearly a creative genius and composer who put together unique and esoteric songs that had power and integrity" and recalls that "the band played interesting and challenging music that was spot on. I especially remember Fever Dreams as being a zany song with zany lyrics". What appealed to Clay the most was that John had an intellect and personality and wished he could have known John, the person, a little bit better.

Todd Tolces, the San Francisco correspondent for Melody Maker, arranged for Dave Walker to meet John Cipollina and Greg Douglass at Fantasy Studios in 1975. He would later go over to Black Dragon and "jam" a couple of times. Shortly after this Dave moved back to England for about 7 months, and upon his return to the States in August of 1976, he went down to the KSAN studios and signed up on their musicians directory, looking for a band to join. No sooner than he comes home that day the phone rings and it was Cipollina reintroducing himself, and they started hanging out, which led to band practices and recording sessions at John's studio, and then some gigs with Raven. Walker noted, "Being with John gets a little deeper than just doing gigs."

Raven practiced a lot in the studio and they had a lot of freedom to stretch out and play. Dave Walker commented, "Although John was kind of the figurehead of everything, he still counted himself as one of the guys. If you had some kind of idea he was the type of guy that would say, "let's give it a shot and see if we can work something out". John and Greg were kindred spirits and they were a great teaming of guitarists, maybe one of the finest of all time."

Walker continues, "John played with a lot of people and felt he had a lot of responsibility to his friends and he took it seriously. John gave you the free will to be yourself in the studio and on the stage; he was the kind of guy who wouldn't let you down. If he felt he had an obligation to play with someone he would. I've enjoyed playing in America so much more than playing in England, becuase of that freedom to play and be yourself. John got me started here and made it possible for me to continue playing music in America. He took me under his wing a little, and I'll always be grateful for that. Let me put it this way, I've played with a lot of people, but playing with John and Greg Douglass was always a lot of fun".

Raven was an awesome band that was chocked full of some incredibly talented musicians who got along famously, had a lot of potential, and who showed a lot of promise. Maybe the band was too good; but with their aggravation over the lack of gigs and money, members started losing interest. Funny thing though, their disdain for the lack of gigs and money didn't get in the way of their enthusiasm for the music that they creating, both live and in the studio.

At this point Raven wasn't playing live anymore, they weren't earning any money either. This continual underlying theme of "No Gigs equals No Money", only went to underscore once again the frustrations that they felt, and which had plagued them ever since their inception. Greg Douglass sensed Raven's time had about run its course and was preparing for it.

Raven never really broke up; they just stopped playing together, or as John Cipollina explained "Bands in Marin County never really break up; they just have a new rehearsal and fail to tell somebody about it."

Feeling restless with the lack of gigs with Raven, Greg Douglass decided to star a new band, taking with him members of Raven and adopting the name of his old band Mistress and within a month they... De'ja vu... This sounds somewhat familiar... I think this is almost where I started...

In 1980 Line Records in Germany released the Raven recordings as John Cipollina Raven on vinyl. That release was made from a cassette tape that belonged to Andy Kirby; (John didn't have access to his masters so he borrowed Andy's reference tape to use as the master for the record's release).

To summarize - Raven was a powerhouse of a band that played with conviction, fire, intensity, and spirit along with that typical John Cipollina "Take No Prisoners" attitude. The energy and precision with which the band played was a wonder to behold. In looking back, all those rehearsals actually did pay off and they were ready all along.

This CD re-issue has been expanded with studio and live bonus tracks, re-mastered and re-sequenced and really gives the listener a good idea of just how great a band Raven really was!
by Mike Somavilla, 2006

1. Rock And Roll Nurse - 5:29
2. True Golden Touch - 5:20
3. Do What You Do - 6:31
4. Unvicious Circle - 6:51
5. True Reward - 3:05
6. Grass is Always Greener - 4:14
7. Clouds (John Albritton, John Cipollina) - 4:42
8. All Worth The Price (Greg Douglass) - 5:27
9. Ride (Highway Song) - 6:17
10.Burning Corte Madera (Jim McPherson) - 3:33
11.The Truth - 4:02
12.Bad News (Greg Douglass) - 3:57
13.Razor Blade And Rattlesnake (Deke Leonard) - 5:04
14.Prayers (Brian Kilcourse, Greg Douglass) - 3:33
All compositions by John Cipollina except where stated
Tracks 1,3,4,7,8,12,14 His Master's Wheels, San Francisco, CA
Tracks 2,6,11 Black Dragon Studios,San Rafael, CA
Track 5 Keystone, Berkeley, CA, June 7, 1976
Tracks9, 10 Blue Bear Studio, San Francisco, CA, October 15, 1976
Track 13 Venue unknown, Berkeley, CA, September 2, 1976

*John Cipollina - Guitars, Solo Vocal, Backup Vocal
*Greg Douglass -  Guitar, Plectrum Guitar, Bottleneck Guitars
*Nicky Hopkins - Piano
*Jasper "Hutch" Hutchinson - Vocals
*Skip Olson - Bass, Backup Vocal
*David Weber - Drums
*Andrew Kirby - Drums Backup Vocal
*Dave Walker - Vocals

Related Acts
1967-68  Quicksilver Messenger Service - Lost Gold And Silver (double disc issue)
1968  Quicksilver Messenger Service (2012 audiophile mini LP replica)
1969  Quicksilver Messenger Service - Happy Trails (2012 Audiophile remaster)
1969  Quicksilver Messenger Service - Shady Grove (2012 Audiophile remaster)
1969  Quicksilver Messenger Service - Castles In The Sand
1970  Q. M. S. - Just For Love  (2012 audiophile mini Lp replica)  
1970  Q. M. S. - What About Me (2012 audiophile mini LP replica)
1971  Quicksilver Messenger Service - Quicksliver (2012 Audiophile Vinyl replica)
1972  Quicksilver Messenger Service - Comin` Thru (2012 Audiopfile mini LP replica)  
1975  Quicksilver Messenger Service - Solid Silver
1973  Copperhead - Copperhead (2001 reissue)
1972  Terry Dolan - Terry Dolan (2016 remaster and expanded)
1975  Man With John Cipollina - Maximum Darkness (2008 remaster) 

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Sunday, June 28, 2020

Chaplin Harness - Chaplin Harness II (1969 us, jazz funk jam rock, 2010 release)

Chaplin Harness was a great unknown band. This is their second studio effort, recorded in late 1969. Personnel changes included the addition of John Tiberi and Greg Hayes on Keyboards, Phil Argentina on bass, and Geri Mingori on vocals.

Off the master tapes. The follow-up LP to their self-titled album in 1969, recorded at Mod Sound Studios. Featuring the beautiful female vocals of Geri Mingori. More great late '60s psychedelic music with distorted guitars and heavy organ.

1. Magic Is Everywhere (Raymond Bozarth, Joseph Mingori, Edward Monroe, William Vespe, Nicholas Fanelli) - 4:52
2. Old Man (Raymond Bozarth, Joseph Mingori, Edward Monroe, William Vespe, Nicholas Fanelli) - 2:53
3. Tears (Raymond Bozarth, Joseph Mingori, Edward Monroe, William Vespe, Nicholas Fanelli) - 2:13
4. In My Dream (Geri Mingori, Edward Monroe) - 5:07
5. Jack (Joseph Mingori, Edward Monroe, William Vespe, Nicholas Fanelli, John Tiberi, Phil Argentina) - 12:22
6. Dit Dewey Man (Raymond Bozarth, Rick lannacone) - 2:54
7. Baby I Know (Geri Mingori, Edward Monroe) - 4:06
8. Lay In My Bed (Raymond Bozarth, Joseph Mingori, Edward Monroe, William Vespe, Nicholas Fanelli) - 2:15
9. Time (Geri Mingori, Edward Monroe) - 2:40
10.Tears (Raymond Bozarth, Joseph Mingori, Edward Monroe, William Vespe, Nicholas Fanelli) - 1:56
11.Harness (Joseph Mingori, Edward Monroe, William Vespe, Nicholas Fanelli) - 1:14
12.George (William Vespe) - 0:45

Chaplin Harness
*Raymond Bozarth - Vocals
*Edward Monroe - Guitar
*William Vespe - Drums
*Joseph Mingori - Keyboards
*Nicholas Fanelli - Bass
*Rick lannaconne - Guitar
*Geri Mingori - Vocals
*Joe Mingori - Keyboards
*Phil Argentina - Bass
*John Tiberi - Keyboards
*Greg Hayes - Keyboards

1969  Chaplin Harness - Chaplin Harness (2009 issue)

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Friday, June 26, 2020

Chaplin Harness - Chaplin Harness (1969 us, groovy funky bluesy jam psych rock, 2009 issue)

My first memory of the Chaplin Harness legend was from about ten years ago. I had a collector friend from overseas ask me if it was possible to obtain a copy of the test pressing. Not aware of what it was, I was intrigued. He explained to me that it was a "local" band who had made a psychy, funky album in 1969 that was never released except in a few test pressings. Word spreads fast in the vinyl collector world! I checked with a few friends and they had heard of it but no one had a copy. 

Time passed and I forgot about it until two years ago when another friend Dan told me about the band and sent me a CD. On my first listen, I knew I had to release this on the Void label. I loved the LP! It was psychy, funky, bluesy, and even a bit progressive as well. Dan also put me in touch with the main man in the band, Philly jazz legend Rick lannaconne. Rick has played all over the world with some of the legends of the genre. While he was with Chaplin Harness in the late 60's, the band played frequently with all of Todd Rundgren's Philly area bands- Woody's Truckstop, The Nazz as well as opening for many big bands as they passed through town.

Musically, the album has a wide range of delights to offer. I have to say that I love Ray Bozarth's vocals, bluesy and powerful. Sadly, Ray left this world about 30 years ago. The big song on the album “Dit Dewey Man”, also released as a 45, has a great funky feel to it. The band had a gift for the hook and the riff for sure. Another killer is "Walk On Mister" which the listener can easily picture the Free performing. Then the bouncy "High On A Happy" with an infectious melody that you find yourself humming hours later. "3/4 Plaything" is a progressive freak jazz jam and "Sure Am Sorry" is a moody drug related (?) classic as well. Many other cuts are here; you choose your own classic upon listening.

I wish to thank Dan Balcer for his help, as well as Rick lannaconne and the rest of the band. Also on a personal note my daughter Jenn designed the cover art, way to go Jen! Put the album on, turn up the volume, sit back and get "High On A Happy"
by Brian Hulitt, 2009

1. Chances (Raymond Bozarth, Edward Monroe, Nicholas Fanelli, Joseph Mingori, William Vespe) - 4:02
2. Dit Dewey Man (Raymond Bozarth, Rick lannaconne) - 8:46
3. Without You (Raymond Bozarth, Joseph Mingori) - 3:37
4. Stitch (Nicholas Fanelli, Joseph Mingori, William Vespe) - 4:08
5. Walk On Mister (Raymond Bozarth, Rick lannaconne) - 3:15
6. 3/4 Plaything (Edward Monroe, Nicholas Fanelli, Joseph Mingori, William Vespe) - 11:09
7. High On A Happy (Daniel Interrante, Rick lannaconne) - 3:01
8. Sheila (Nicholas Fanelli) - 3:13
9. Peat Moss (Edward Monroe, Nicholas Fanelli, Rick lannaconne, Joseph Mingori, William Vespe) - 2:18
10.Sure Am Sorry (Raymond Bozarth, Edward Monroe, Joseph Mingori, William Vespe) - 3:03

Chaplin Harness
*Raymond Bozarth - Vocals
*Edward Monroe - Guitar
*William Vespe - Drums
*Joseph Mingori - Keyboards
*Nicholas Fanelli - Bass
*Rick lannaconne - Guitar
*Geri Mingori - Vocals
*Joe Mingori - Keyboards
*Phil Argentina - Bass
*John Tiberi - Keyboards
*Greg Hayes - Keyboards

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Monday, June 22, 2020

Mad Timothy - A Very Snug Joiner (1969 us, rough bluesy psych rock, 2019 issue)

First ever release for this previously unknown late ‘60s/ early ‘70s acetate, rescued from a thrift store in Chicago. Damaged heavy blooz-psych in the vein of Blue Cheer, Majic Ship, Mount Rushmore, Houston Fearless, Apryl Fool, Sweet Slag, Mutzie, Aum, Screw, or a wasted teenage Canned Heat.

In these digital and interconnected times, it’s very rare to find an album from the 60s-70s which hasn’t been documented or “discovered” yet. That’s the case with a mysterious demo LP titled “A Very Snug Joiner” by a band called Mad Timothy. In words of Steve Krakow (of Plastic Crimewave / Galactic Zoo): “A friend of mine found this no-jacket LP at a thrift shop, and there is ZERO information on them--no one knows anything and I've spoken to many collectors. Very cool sludgy Blue Cheer/Majic Ship/Mount Rushmore kind of vibe--with a few folkier tracks---it’s all pretty charmingly primitive-- I think people would want to hear this!”

Even knowing that our efforts to track down the band were fruitless, we thought that this rarity deserved to be shared with the world, so we at Out-Sider / Guerssen in collaboration with Steve’s Galactic Archive imprint, are doing a vinyl edition of the Mad Timothy demo album, hoping that any of the band members will see it and contact us…

*The audio has been lovingly restored for full thudding blastage, with new artwork by underground sculptor Robert Buchholz and Plastic Crimewave (Galactic Zoo Dossier). 

1. Strong Enough - 4:39
2. Drain Pipe - 3:58
3. Masters Of War (Bob Dylan) - 5:23
4. Find My Place - 2:54
5. Snug Joiner - 3:03
6. Running - 3:59
7. J.P. - 4:17
8. You Will Die If You Go Away - 4:02
9. King Bee (Slim Harpo) - 8:08

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Wednesday, June 17, 2020

The Yardbirds - For Your Love (1965 uk, trailblazer rock 'n roll rhythm and blues, japan 2018 mono edition)

The album commences with its title song, which was at once the first real hit for the band as well as the single song which made Clapton decide to depart. “For Your Love” was presented to the band by publisher Ronnie Beck and everyone in the group, aside from Clapton, loved it. Written by then 19-year-old Graham Gouldman, the song contains a distinct harpsichord by session man Brian Auger and is overall a strong departure from the blues-rock style of most of the other material on the band. Still, it was melodic and catchy and peaked in the Top 10 on the pop charts of both the UK and US. Clapton played the sessions for this song and then immediately left the group.

When Clapton departed, Gomelsky asked Jimmy Page, then the top session man in London, to join the group. However, Page was busy and happy with his session work and suggested Beck, who was sort of an understudy, for the position which Page would ultimately fill himself a few years later. Beck immediately makes an impact on “I’m Not Talking”, with its  heavy rock, crunchy riffs and rudiments along with great rhythmic elements by bassist Paul Samwell-Smith and drummer Jim McCarty. “Putty (In Your Hands)” contains a cool 60s groove while the bridge has some jazz elements, while Calvin Carter’s blues classic, “I Ain’t Got You”, features the fine harmonica playing by Relf for the first time on the album.

“Got to Hurry” is the first real original composition as an instrumental credited to Gomelsky (as “Oscar Rasputin”), but really a jam composed by the group. Rhythmically, this instrumental has surf music elements while it also acts as a showcase for Clapton’s bluesy leads. “I Ain’t Done Wrong” is a driving rocker with blues vocals by Relf and some great rudimental riffs thrown in for fun, while “I Wish You Would” is another blues standard with consistent, upbeat guitar rhythm by Dreja and Relf adding harmonica between every line during the verses. This side two opener also has a bridge section which builds towards a frenzied crescendo and was released as a single in August 1964. Although “A Certain Girl” was just the ‘B-side’ for the previous track, but is the first real shot at pop with a bright sound, strong melody, call and response vocals, and a blistering pop lead by Clapton which sounds like a souped-up Byrds lead.

The Yardbirds sound like a whole different band on “Sweet Music”, a song produced by Manfred Mann who also brought in some outside session players and vocals. The track is interesting because of the players involved, but really out of place on this album. In contrast, “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” is pure fifties-style pop style with harmonized vocals, Relf’s fine harmonica, and an outstanding, bluesy lead by Clapton. The song was originally composed and recorded by Williamson nearly three decades earlier. “My Girl Sloopy” is an interesting album closer as a fun rendition of a song which had not yet been made famous as “Hang On Sloopy” by The McCoys. The vocals here are odd but entertaining, especially the exaggerated high pitched harmonies and this extended track adds some Beatles elements.

While For Your Love barely broke the Top 100 on the album charts, it set The Yardbirds up for their first American tour, where Beck began to forge his own sound as well as help direct the group’s evolving sound through the mid sixties.

1. For Your Love (Graham Gouldman) - 2:33
2. I'm Not Talking (Mose Allison) - 2:35
3. Putty (In Your Hands) (Kay Rogers, John Patton) - 2:21
4. I Ain't Got You (Calvin Carter) - 2:03
5. Got To Hurry (Giorgio Gomelsky) - 2:36
6. I Ain't Done Wrong (Keith Relf) - 3:42
7. I Wish You Would (Billy Boy Arnold) - 2:22
8. A Certain Girl (Allen Toussaint) - 2:21
9. Sweet Music (Major Lance, Otis Leavill Cobb, Walter Bowie) - 2:33
10.Good Morning Little Schoolgirls (H.G. Demarais) - 2:49
11.My Girl Sloopy (Bert Russell, Wes Farrell) - 5:41
12.Steeled Blues (Keith Relf, Jeff Beck) - 2:38

The Yardbirds
*Keith Relf - Lead Vocals, Harmonica, Acoustic Guitar
*Eric Clapton - Lead Guitar
*Jeff Beck - Lead Guitar (Tracks 2, 4, 11, 12)
*Chris Dreja - Rhythm Guitar, Lead Guitar
*Paul Samwell-Smith - Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals
*Jim McCarty - Drums, Backing Vocals
*Giorgio Gomelsky - Backing Vocal
*Brian Auger - Harpsichord
*Denny Pierce - Bongos
*Ron Prentice - Bass
*Manfred Mann - Keyboard, Backing Vocals
*Paul Jones - Backing Vocals
*Mike Hugg - Vibes
*Tom McGuinness - Guitar
*Mike Vickers - Guitar
*Unknown- Sitar
*Unknown- Tabla

1963-68  The Yardbirds - Glimpses (five disc box set, 2011 release)
1964  The Yardbirds - Five Live Yardbirds (2007 Repertoire digi pack with extra tracks)
1965-68  The Yardbirds - Live At The BBC (2016 double disc remaster)  
1968  The Yardbirds - Live Yardbirds! (2008 edition)
Related Acts
1969  Renaissance - Renaissance (2008 remaster)
1970  Renaissance - Illusion (2010 bonus tracks remaster)
1977  Illusion - Out Of The Mist (2011 remaster)
1978  Illusion – Illusion (2011 remaster) 

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Friday, June 12, 2020

Gary Farr - Strange Fruit (1971 uk, magnificent blend of folk blues acoustic and classic rock, 2008 remaster with bonus track)

Gary Farr has one of the most distinctive r'n'b inflected voices of the early seventies British singer-songwriter. His second and finest solo album - 1970's Strange Fruit is an unjustly neglected gem amongst the many albums from that era and genre, A popular live performer in the mid-6G's clubs of centra! London, Farr had an enviable reputation as the leader of the T-Bones, by 1963 he had decided on a soio career founded upon his richly moody original Songs.

Gary Farr was the son of the former British Heavyweight Boxing champion Tommy Farr – the Tonypandy Terror - who in 1937 memorably completed 15 rounds with World Champion Joe Louis. After retiring from the ring Tommy settled his family on the Sussex coast. It was here the Gary began playing folk and blues music in pubs and clubs around the Worthing and Brighton area. In 1963 at the height of the "Beat Boom" he formed the fabulous T-Bones. The group was continually changing line-up, including short stints from keyboardist Keith Emerson and bassist Lee Jackson, both later to form the Nice. The band was a live sensation, securing a weekly residency at London's prestigious Marquee Club and replacing the Yardbirds as the resident band at London's Crawdaddy Club. The contemporary Fabulous magazine breathlessly reported - "Down at the Marquee Club in London's Wardour Street, there are long, long queues every Friday to see five swingers called The T-Bones."

A talented and popular live band, Gary Farr and the T-Bones released three singles and an EP (Dem Bones, Dem Bones, Dem T-Bones) on the Columbia label in 1964 and 1965. Their powerful, rhythm 'n' blues repertoire didn't translate too successfully to vinyl, never making the music charts. The band undoubtedly got their biggest exposure when their performance of "Wooly Bully" at the Richmond Jazz & Blues Festival in August 1965 appeared on American television's 'Shindig Goes to London'. Farr and the T-Bones are seen playing between slots by the much more celebrated Animals, Moody Blues, George Fame, and Steampacket (featuring future stars Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger, Long John Baldry, and Rod Stewart). The T-Bones struggled on for a further year before disbanding in late 1966.

Returning to solo gigs, Farr re embraced his folk roots, though the man who ran the Crawdaddy, Giorgio Gomelsky - who'd also managed the Yardbirds in their first few years - continued to be involved in the singer's career. An obscure 1967 bootleg recorded live in Sweden by the Gomelsky managed psychedelic band Blossom Toes, also features a solo acoustic Farr performing a couple of tunes, including a cover of Tim Hardin's "Hang on to a Dream". He briefly worked with Blossom Toes drummer Kevin Westlake, the pair issuing a single "Everyday" / "Green" in May 1968, before Farr released his 1969 solo debut Take Something With You also on Gomelsky's Marmalade label. The album was heavily influenced by contemporary folk and progressive rock especially recent recordings by Tim Buckley and Tim Hardin; sometimes having a memorable pastoral rock-jazz-folk feel a la Traffic. Curiously the album sits comfortably alongside label mate Gordon Jackson's Thinking Back (which boasted Traffic among the supporting players). 

Turning in commendable performances on Farr's LP are members of two of the most inventive bands on the head circuit at that time - Blossom Toes and Mighty Baby (one of the great lost British psychedelic ensembles) had formed in 1968 from the ashes of The Action - a bunch of Tamla Motown influenced mods. They released two sought after albums, Mighty Baby – which appeared on the short-lived Head label in December 1969, (but had been recorded a year earlier) and A Jug Of Love (released on Blue Horizon in October 1971). The band were known for their ambitious improvised live sets and were in demand as session musicians, appearing on albums from Andy Roberts (Home Grown), Sandy Denny (The North Star Grassman ft The Ravens), Keith Christmas (Stimulus and Fable of The Wings), Shelagh McDonald (Stargazer) and Robin Scott (Woman From The Warm Grass) among many. Between their two albums, members of the band became Sufi Muslims. Keyboardist Ian Whiteman would appear on Richard & Linda Thompson's beautiful Sufi influenced Pour Down Like Silver, and with Roger Powell and Mike Evans would form the Thompson's backing band during a legendary 1977 tour of Britain. 

Completing a circle in your humble correspondents brain - these three Mighty Baby stalwarts - Whiteman, Powell and Evans would also appear on Gary Farr's next album, 1970's Strange Fruit, which also includes Fairport Convention's Richard Thompson on lead guitar. Richard Thompson is arguably Britain's finest electric guitarist. A founder member of Fairport Convention - the band credited with inventing the British version of folk-rock. Their 1969 masterwork Liege and Lief has long been regarded as a milestone recording, defining British rock in the same way that Music From Big Pink was to define North American rock with traditional roots. It was this album that finally revealed the extent of Richard's talent as a songwriter – writing contemporary songs whilst drawing upon deep traditional modes. Throughout the early 70's Thompson was called upon to add his distinctive guitar to a bewildering number of recordings. Farr's Strange Fruit was one of his first studio sessions outside the Fairport / Witch season orbit and probably marks the first time he met the Mighty Baby rhythm section.

After the demise of Marmalade, Farr secured a new contract with CBS records. Work soon began on recording his second album. In his brief sleeve note, brother Ricky Farr reveals the high hopes that they had for the project. Ricky was the erstwhile manager of the Action and one of the promoters of the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival. This familial connection no doubt explains the presence of the three Mighty Baby's on the sessions and Gary's appearance at both the 1969 and 1970 Isle of Wight Festivals. Strange Fruit is notable for the contributions of several other young turks on the London music scene. The LP was produced by Fritz Fryer, a former member of the Four Pennies, who in 1970 was just beginning his career as a record producer. He would go on to establish the well-known Rockfield Studios in Monmouth producing acts as diverse as Stackridge, Skin Alley, Motorhead, Nucleus, Horslips and in 1973 Prelude's hit reading of Neil Young's "After The Goldrush". 

String arrangements were written by a 21 year old Mike Batt, soon to achieve chart fame as a Womble. Sleeve photographer Eric Hayes from Canada was briefly in London working as house photographer for the London edition of Rolling Stone. He took the memorable photos of Fairport Convention rehearsing Liege ft Lief at Farley Chamberlyne. Strange Fruit is a compelling early example of a pastoral roots rock, there's an attractive melancholy atmosphere to many of Farr's performances. He's at his best when the compositions and arrangements are the folkiest - slightly recalling American songwriters Tim Buckley and Tim Hardin. Listening again, all these years later, one is left with the feeling that the album has been somewhat unjustly overlooked. Perhaps if he had spent longer with one record company the story would be different. Gary's final recording was the 1973 Jerry Wexler produced Addressed To The Censors Of Love (Atco), recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound in Alabama, using respected session men such as guitarists Jimmy Johnson and Pete Carr, keyboardist Barry Beckett, bassist David Hood, and drummer Roger Hawkins. Despite a slightly more soul-rock focus this album also failed to find favour with a larger audience. In only ten years of recording Gary Farr had navigated a fascinating journey through r'n'b, folk, blues and soul, essaying a fine body of "really valid songs for today". Sadly Gary Farr died in Los Angeles in August 1994.
by David Suff, November 2007

1. In The Mud - 3:41
2. Old Man Boulder - 4:49
3. Strange Fruit (Lewis Allen) - 4:55
4. Margie - 4:13
5. Revolution Of The Season - 4:59
6. About This Time Of Year - 4:48
7. Down Among The Dead Men - 4:42
8. Proverbs Of Heaven And Hell - 3:31
9. Old Man Moses - 3:13
10.Sweet Angelina - 4:46
11.Revolution Of The Season - 3:44
Music and Lyrics by Gary Farr except where noted

*Gary Farr - Six, Twelve String Guitars, Harmonicas, Vocals
*Roger Powell - Drums
*Richard Thompson - Lead Guitar
*Ian Whiteman - Piano, Flute
*Mike Batt - String Arrangements

1969  Gary Farr - Take Something With You (2008 double disc issue) 
1972  Gary Farr - Addressed To The Censors Of Love (2006 remaster) 
Related Act
1969  Migty Baby - Mighty Baby (bonus tracks edition) 
1970  Mighty Baby - Live In The Attic 
1971  Mighty Baby - Tasting the Life (2009 issue) 
1971  Mighty Baby - A Jug Of Love 

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Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Trapeze - You Are The Music We're Just The Band (1972 uk, exceptional hard bluesy jazz funky rock, 2003 remaster)

Trapeze has long been underrated in hard rock and metal circles, as along with bands like UFO, Thin Lizzy, Uriah Heep, Black Sabbath, and Deep Purple, helped define European heavy metal and shape "riff" rock of the 80's. Comprised of Glenn Hughes on vocals, bass, and keyboards, Mel Galley (later of Whitesnake) on guitar, and Dave Holland (later of Judas Priest) on drums, the band was a bona fide supergroup, but only recorded a few albums together before Hughes left to replace Roger Glover in Deep Purple in 1973, shortly after the tour for this album.

Songs like "Keepin' Time" and "Way Back to the Bone" contain huge guitar riffs from Galley, while Hughes and Holland lay down some funky rhythms. In fact, listening to some of these songs it is apparent who really came up with those chunky riffs on the Whitesnake album Slide it In. "Coast to Coast" is Hughes' signature melodic rocker, and the singer also shines on the earthy "What is a Woman's Role", a tune that features some neat electric piano and big rock guitar riffs. The band walks into Humble Pie or Bad Company arena rock territory on the funky blues rocker "Feelin' So Much Better Now", with Hughes' Steve Marriott inspired screeching leading the way over Galley's crushing power chords. 

Atmospheric sax and liquid electric piano give the crooning "Will Our Love End" a jazzy quality, while "Loser" is a heavy, funkified affair that sounds like it could have come off a Grand Funk Railroad album from the same time period. Galley's guitar solos are just plain dirty and nasty here, as he shows what an unknown talent he really was. The title track is a busy funky romp, littered with Hughes' intricate bass work and Galley's meaty riffs. A great ending to a landmark album.

Those new to Trapeze would be doing themselves justice by starting off here or with Medusa, another excellent release from this same line-up. Only then will you begin to realize just what all the fuss is about. 
by Pete Pardo, November 5th 2003

1. Keepin Time (Mel Galley, Tom Galley) - 3:42
2. Coast To Coast (Glenn Hughes) - 3:57
3. What Is A Woman's Role (Glenn Hughes) - 5:39
4. Way Back To The Bone (Glenn Hughes) - 5:25
5. Feelin So Much Better (Glenn Hughes) - 3:36
6. Will Our Love End (Glenn Hughes) - 5:04
7. Loser (Mel Galley, Tom Galley) - 4:38
8. You Are The Music, We're Just The Band (Mel Galley, Tom Galley) - 5:13

*Glenn Hughes - Bass, Piano, Vocals
*Mel Galley - Guitar
*Dave Holland - Drums, Percussion
*B. J. Cole - Steel Guitar
*Rod Argent - Electric Piano
*Kirk Duncan - Electric Piano
*John Ogden - Percussion
*Frank Ricotti - Vibraphone
*Jimmy Hastings - Alto Saxophone

1970  Trapeze - Trapeze (2004 remaster with bonus tracks) 
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, June 7, 2020

The Frost - Live At The Grande Ballroom! (1969 us, powerful detroit hard blues rock, 2019 edition)

Designed in 1928 by Charles N. Agree for dance hall entrepreneurs Edward J. Strata and his partner Edward J. Davis, the Grande started off as a place Detroiters would go to dance and listen to jazz and big band sounds, but it would later achieve immortal status in the annals of music history as a rock venue. It is arguably the birthplace of punk and hard-driving rock, where bands like The MC5 and The Stooges cut their chops and became legends.

The building was designed in the Moorish Deco style and contained storefront space on the first floor and on the second a ballroom with Moorish arches featuring a floor on springs that gave dancers the feeling of floating. The dance floor held 1,500 dancers and was one of the largest in the city. Its ground floor had several retail tenants, such as W.T. Grant Department Stores, Beverly's and a drugstore. The neighborhood was a predominately Jewish enclave in the 1930s and '40s.

By 1961, the Grande was the only venue in the city with any semblance of what ballroom dancing used to be.

The ballroom did not serve liquor, "nor do we allow persons who have been drinking on the premises. This is not a pickup place," she told the News. "We do not emphasize the type of dancing or create the kind of atmosphere that appeals to troublemakers." 

Russ Gibb, a social studies teacher at Maples Junior High School in Dearborn was a popular local radio DJ at the time. Gibb took a trip out to San Francisco to visit a friend in early 1966 and paid a visit to the storied Fillmore Auditorium and saw The Byrds. When he returned to Detroit, he set out to bring Bill Graham's Fillmore to the Motor City. He scouted out several locations, including the then-closed, since-demolished Gayety Burlesque theater on Cadillac Square downtown and the ballroom of the Statler Hotel on Grand Circus Park, which also has been razed. He settled on the Grande, which was near the neighborhood he grew up in back in the 1940s and entered a rent-to-buy deal with the Kleinman family. 

The Grande opened the evening of Oct. 7, 1966, to a crowd of about 60 people turning out to see the Chosen Few and The MC5. Before long, the rock music and the counter-culture environment started luring kids from the suburbs eager to shed the ties and ditch the Brylcreem. The Grande became "the embassy for the suburban youth, whose parents had spirited them out of Detroit forever," Sinclair said. "They kind of thought the shopping malls were kind of lame, you know? They wanted to do something more interesting, so they started coming into the city. … Just as their parents feared, it rubbed off."

It featured one of the largest strobe lights ever built at the time. While Gibb, who was paying about $700 a month in rent, started off booking local acts like the MC5, Stooges, SRC, The Frost and the Rationals, in 1967, he started bringing in famous touring rock acts, the first being Vanilla Fudge on Dec. 15. Other rock legends soon followed, pummeling the sweaty crowds in temperatures that sometime reached 100 degrees: Led Zeppelin, John Lee Hooker, the Yardbirds, Cream, Pink Floyd, Canned Heat, the Jeff Beck Group, The Byrds, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Chuck Berry, Howlin' Wolf, the Velvet Underground, Canned Heat, the Steve Miller Band, Country Joe and the Fish, Blue Cheer, Tim Buckley and more all played the Grande. 

The Grande's final show came on New Year's Eve 1972. Gibb had started booking shows at bigger venues, including the Michigan Palace (formerly the Michigan Theatre), and in other cities across the Midwest. "A big frustration for me was the New York and Hollywood agents," Gibb said. "If I wanted to have The Doors play, I had to take two or three of their bands, too. I wanted to put local bands on the bill. The greed was incredible. Plus, people were always thinking we were dopers and the cops were giving us a hard time. …
by Dan Austin

Frost was a late 60's band from Alpena, Michigan. They were led by legendary guitarist, Dick Wagner, who went on to play with, Lou Reed, Alice Cooper, David Bowie, Kiss and Ursa Major in the 1970s. The rest of the band consisted of Gordy Garris (bass guitar), Bob Rigg (drums), and Don Hartman (rhythm guitar). 'Live At The Grande Ballroom' was originally recorded in 1969, from various appearances, a litle bit different tracklist from their other live album "Rock and Roll Music".

1. Opening Announcement - 0:14
2. Rock And Roll Music - 3:10
3. Sweet Lady Love - 4:22
4. Baby Once You Got It (Bob Rigg, Don Hartman, Gordy Garris) - 5:26
5. Donny's Blues (Don Hartman) - 7:49
6. Black As Night - 3:59
7. 1500 Miles (Through The Eye Of A Beatle) (Don Hartman) - 2:57
8. Take My Hand-Mystery Man (Dick Wagner, Don Hartman) - 10:10
9. Black Train - 3:56
10.We Gotta Get Out Of This Place (Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil) - 16:50
All songs by Dick Wagner except where noted

The Frost
*Dick Wagner - Lead. Guitar, Vocals
*Donny Hartman - Guitar, Vocals, Harmonica
*Gordy Garris - Bass, Vocals
*Bobby Rigg - Drums, Vocals

1969  The Frost - Frost Music
1969  The Frost - Rock and Roll Music
1970  The Frost - Through The Eyes Of Love (2019 reissue)

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