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


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sunforest - Sound Of Sunforest (1969 us, beautiful folk, sunshine pop with traditional and baroque glances, japan remaster)

The Sun - the beginning Of life in out solar system The Symbol, therefore, of creation Representing joy and love The finest attributes of life The Sun is giving, we receive As inhabitants of this earth The Forest, which contains all Wherein dwell sheltering trees Rising to worship the lifegiving sun All animals, plants and finally Man Inhabit the vast forest of the earth Desert, mountain, green valley and sea The Earth, from which spring all creatures Nature's art - informed to live Inspired to create and understand In the light of the giving sun At night we rest by the gentle lamp The moon, the jeweled starts Then by the soft brightness of dawn Persuaded, we rise again - Once more light and life Reign silent, strong and pure In the Forest of the Sun
by Freya Lynn Houge

A mellowness of cool sound Vibrations of personality in song A gentle harmony of tempered soul A rose colored glass filled to capacity With love for music and out neighbors. Welcome to Sunforest!
by Vic Smith

Terry Tucker went to London with two girlfriends, Erika Eigen and Freya Houge, to become pop singers and were discovered almost right away in a working class cafe drinking tea. A man came in a fur coat from Decca Records, wanted to hear their songs and they went to the studio that night and recorded a demo. Two weeks later they wanted to record an album and he became their manager. They were his American girls. The recorded their one and only album Sound of Sunforest in 1969.

Kubrick wanted her to record Overture for the Sun for the soundtrack. It got recorded again, Terry wrote some changes in the arrangement for the film. It was exciting. It just fell into their lap. In those days they never tried to make anything happen, just follow their nose and it happened. Overture is instrumental, like a little renaissance piece. Terry wrote and arranged it, played harpsichord on it. Lighthouse Keeper is a song that Erica wrote and Terry sang backup on it and played the piano. Terry stayed in England about 12 years and came home to the US after the band broke up.
by Malcolm McDowell

1. Overture to the Sun (Terry Tucker) - 1:40
2. Where Are You (Eigen, Hogue, Harry Smith) - 2:42
3. Bonny River (Freya Lynn Hoguer) - 2:41
4. Be Like Me (Freya Lynn Hoguer, Terry Tucker) - 2:10
5. Mr. Bumble (Terry Tucker) - 1:50
6. And I Was Blue (Freya Lynn Hoguer, Terry Tucker) - 2:50
7. Lighthouse Keeper (Erika Eigen) - 2:04
8. Old Cluck (Freya Lynn Hoguer) - 2:41
9. Lady Next Door (Erika Eigen, Freya Lynn Hoguer, Terry Tucker) - 2:26
10.Peppermint Store (Freya Lynn Hoguer) - 2:00
11.Magician in the Mountain (Harry Smith) - 4:09
12.Lovely Day (Freya Lynn Hoguer) - 2:45
13.Give Me All Your Loving (Erika Eigen, Freya Lynn Hoguer, Terry Tucker) - 2:38
14.Garden Rug (Terry Tucker) - 2:13
15.All in Good Time (Freya Lynn Hoguer, Terry Tucker) - 3:45

*Terry Tucker - Piano, Harmonium, Harpsichord, Organ Hammond
*Freya Lynn Hogue – Spanish Guitar, Banjo, Vocals
*Erika Eigen - Latin American Percussion, Bells
Guest Musicians
*Herbie Flowers, Joe Mudele - Bass Guitar
*Cecil James - Bassoon
*Malca Cossak - Cello
*Dougie Wright, Ronnie Verrel - Drums
*Jim Sullivan - Electric Guitar
*Andy McGavin - French Horn
* John Burden - French Horn
*Les Baldwin, S. Sutcliffe - Oboe
*Jim Lawles, John Blanchard, Reg Weller - Percussion
*Harry Smith - Piccolo Flute, Flute, Clarinet
*Cliff Haines, Les London, Ralph Eizen - Trumpet
*Alfie Reece - Tuba
*F. Riddle - Viola
*D. Wolfstal, R. Mosley - Violin
*Erika Eigen, Freya Hogue, Terry Tucker - Vocals

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Spriguns - Time Will Pass (1977 uk, magnificent progressive electric folk, 2004 japan remaster)

England has incredibly good folk music items. Some groups are more leaning towards traditional folk, some are more folkrock (of which Trees is one of my favourites). Some of the more original/progressive folkrock will be listed on these pages more easily (The Pentangle, Gryphon, Spirogyra, Fotheringay are some of my own favourites). And also The Spriguns are also one of the more original bands who were rooted in folkrock, but Mandy Morton thoroughly conceptualized her own visions, with the help of the band, comparable to what Sandy Denny tried. Sandy Denny was heavily admired by Mandy Morton, who dedicated the titletrack of her 1978 album to her, “Magic Lady”.

Even when albums like that and “Time Will Pass”, which are the strongest starters of all Mandy Morton & Spriguns related albums, we had to wait for reissues of these albums for a very long time. The band had started off as Spriguns Of Tolgus with more traditional folk inspirations with their own visions. Both albums are also very much worth tracing. Most of these albums were only very limited available mostly only through Japanese and Korean reissues.

Mandy Morton led much more the band away from the limitations in creativity of folk and even folkrock visions, but kept the whole typical linear heritage of England’s culture, with references to Renaissance and medieval times that brings an idea of magic, giving that way more colour and depth in background to the inspirations. Sandy Roberton did the production. He produced before the early folk/folkrock albums of Steeleye Span. Especially on the opener “Dead Man’s Eyes” we can hear a comparable approach of an influence of folk mixed with a straight rock rhythm.

The lush orchestrations on “All Before” by Robert Kirby* are comparable to some Sandy Denny tracks, while especially on the closing track, “Letter to a lady” the arrangements that confirm the old England blossoming days with bassoon and such, are most impressive. Most arrangements are definitely making the best of a singer-songwriting vision, with tracks that have rather progressive or often crafted even at times with its own subtleness, heavy rocking arrangements.

I must also mention how Mandy also has a beautiful coloured voice and singing and a personality and vision that give this album a masterly musically conceptual vision, which made this album an essential classic.

1. Dead Man's Eyes - 3:46
2. All Before - 2:44
3. For You - 3:37
4. Time Will Pass - 2:28
5. White Witch - 3:04
6. Blackwaterside (Traditional) - 5:13
7. You're Not There - 2:51
8. Devil's Night - 2:52
9. Letter To A Lady - 5:11
All songs by Mandy Morton except track #6

*Mandy Morton - Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
*Wayne Morrison - Lead Guitar, Acoustic Guitars, Mandolin, Vocals
*Dick Powell - Electric Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
*Mike Morton - Bass, Vocals
*Dennis Dunstan - Drums, Percussion
Additional Musicians 
*Robert Kirby - Orchestral Arrangements
*Lea Nicholson - Concertina
*Tom Ling - Electric Violin

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Peter Bardens - The Answer (1970 uk, psychedelic/progressive rock, 2010 esoteric remaster with extra tracks)

Reading the liner notes of this recent reissue of Peter Bardens’ 1970 debut The Answer, reveals a prolific artist kept busy prior to his finding fame as the keyboardist with progressive rock group Camel. Aside from the psychedelic Ladbroke Grove act, The Village, he played in a whole host of bands during the British “Blues Boom” of the mid-sixties, alongside future household names such as Mick Fleetwood, Peter Green and Premier League rogerer, Sir Rodney of Stewart.

And there’s an element of blues rock bubbling away beneath the psychedelic/progressive mix that forms The Answer, particularly with regards to Bardens’ vocal delivery, which is a full-bodied blues drawl and, on occasion, remarkably similar in sound to another royal lady-roisterer, a certain Michael Jagger.

The title-track, first up on the album, is awash with energetic blues guitar licks, in this case provided by an uncredited Peter Green, which is bolstered throughout by Bardens’ elaborate organ artistry and pseudo-philosophical lyricism, popular in progressive and underground rock circles of this era.

The blues guitar continues through the eerie mire that is ‘Don’t Goof With a Spook’, where the Jaggerisms are possibly at their strongest, and the excellent acid-soaked freak-rock of ‘I Can’t Remember’, with its hedonistic tribal undercurrent in addition to the masterclass of swirling keyboard extravagance.

‘I Don’t Want to Go Home’ and ‘Let’s Get It On’, both of which also feature an uncredited Peter Green on lead guitar, are more in the standard blues-rock vein and as such a little more formulaic, but following on from something as undeniably strong as the three aforementioned tracks that open The Answer, is always going to be a thankless task.

Which brings us nicely to the B-side spanning closing track of the original album. Running just shy of 14 minutes, ‘Homage to the God of Light’ is a spectacular journey into the outer reaches of psychedelic-prog, bringing to mind the early instrumental excursions of Pink Floyd and the exalted voyagers of space rock, Hawkwind. Bardens really gives the organ a punishing workout on this captivating, and lengthy, illustration of finest, ye olde underground gallivanting. A worthy highlight to an all round worthy album.

The reissue also throws in The Village’s excellent psychedelic single ‘The Man in the Moon’ and its instrumental B-side, ‘Long Time Coming’.
by Nick James

1. The Answer - 5:25
2. Don’t Goof With A Spook - 7:21
3. I Can’t Remember - 10:41
4. I Don’t Want To Go Home - 5:13
5. Let’s Get It On - 6:36
6. Homage to the God of Light - 13:32
7. Man In The Moon (Bonus Tracks as Village) - 4:13
8. Long Time Coming (Bonus Tracks as Village) - 2:33
All compositions written by Peter Bardens.

*Peter Bardens - Keyboards, Vocals
*Steve Ellis - Vocal
*Andy Gee - Guitar
*Reg Isadore - Drums
*Linda Lewis - Vocal
*Alan Marshall - Vocal, Percussion
*Bruce Thomas - Bass
*David Wooley - Vocal
*Rocky - Congas
*Bruce Thomas - Bass Guitar (Village)
*Bill Porter - Drums (Village)

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Peter Bardens - Write My Name In The Dust (1971 uk, brilliant post psychedelic early progressive rock, pre-Camel release, japan remaster)

As 1971 came around Bardens reconvened to the studio to record his second solo album with a fresh line-up although he retained the services of Andy Gee and Reg Isadore. Released in July of that year it was probably more varied in style than its predecessor with Bardens assuming much of the vocal duties. After the silliness of the opening instrumental North End Road (complete with bar room piano) the album gets down to serious business with the brooding and Bob Dylan influenced Write My Name In The Dust.

Bardens organ playing is tastefully understated here allowing the soulful vocal delivery to take centre stage. The superb massed female chorus is equally soulful. Down So Long is a stop-start affair with a tediously repetitive choral line but the engaging instrumental interplay that occupies the mid section does at least justify its existence.

In terms of melody Sweet Honey Wine is one of the stronger songs here sounding not unlike The Rolling Stones in playful mode. Similarly the vocals during the manic Tear Down The Wall have more than a hint of Mick Jagger about them. Bardens’ frenzied organ work here is some of the most inspired to feature on either of these two albums. In contracts the aptly titled Simple Song is a sunny little country style ditty that could have come from the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band.

The mellow instrumental My House is for me the albums best track that would have not sounded out of place on a Camel album with Vic Linton’s tasteful guitar lines pre-empting the Latimer/Bardens partnership that would come later. Feeling High however returns to the unimaginative stoner blues-rock of the previous album leaving another aptly titled affair Blueser to bring things to a less than inspired conclusion.
by Geoff Feakes

1. North End Road - 1:25
2. Write My Name In The Dust - 6:34
3. Down So Long (P. Bardens,V. Linton, R. Isadore, J. Owen) - 7:00
4. Sweet Honey Wine - 4:26
5. Tear Down The Wall - 7:21
6. Simple Song - 2:20
7. My House - 6:17
8. Feeling Hugh - 5:08
9. Blueser - 2:15
All songs by Pete Bardens except where noted.

*Peter Bardens - Keyboards, Vocals
*Victor Brox - Violin, Vocals
*Andy Gee - Guitar
*Reg Isadore - Drums
*John Owen - Bass
*Maxine Offla - Vocal
*Linda Lewis - Vocal
*Judy Powell - Vocal
*Liza Strike - Vocal
*Anita Pollinger - Vocal

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Quicksilver Messenger Service - Solid Silver (1975 us, classic west coast psych, last official album)

A rejuvenated Quicksilver reconvened in '75, after a well-received compilation album, 'Anthology', seemed to revive interest in the band. The line-up that cut 'Solid Silver' featured long-serving QMS alumni Gary Duncan (guitar, vocals), Dino Valenti (vocals, guitar), John Cipollina (guitar), David Freiberg (backing vocals, bass), and Greg Elmore (drums). Various keyboard assists from the likes of Nicky Hopkins and Michael Lewis helped flesh out the band's sound.

Although hopes were high that 'Solid Silver' might kick start the band's career, the reality was otherwise. Whilst the musicianship is excellent, the big problem with 'Solid Silver' is the lack of particularly inspired material. The songs struggle to reach a head of steam, and, although John Cipollina's distinctive lead guitar style is much in evidence, even he can't get overly worked up about it. 'Worryin' Shoes' is a blues shuffle by numbers, but its taken at quite a clip,which pushes the energy level up a few notches. 'Cowboy on the Run' isn't bad, a plaintive rock ballad with a heartfelt Valenti vocal. Other tracks such as 'The Letter' and 'They Don't Know' have their moments, but there's little of the old QMS frictional guitar sparks to lift the thing above the lightweight at best, or mundane at worst.

QMS toured to support the album, but neither the tour nor the album were a great success ('Solid Silver' made number eighty-nine on the Billboard album chart), and the band ground to a halt. Freiberg enjoyed rather more success as a member of Jefferson Starship. Cipollina died on 29th May 1989, from complications assocaiated with emphysema, aged forty-two. Dino Valenti sloughed off this mortal coil on November 16th 1994, aged fifty-seven.

Quicksilver Messenger Service remain a fondly-recalled, if ultimately underachieving acid-rock band. There's still a version of the QMS knocking about, featuring Gary Duncan on guitar, and of course, CD reissues of the band's albums have helped add lustre to their legend. 'Solid Silver' may not be the finest Quicksilver album, but it has its moments, and Cipollina was always a guitar player worth listening to. I hope you enjoy it.
by Alan Robinson

1. Gypsy Lights (Gary Duncan) - 3:40
2. Heebie Jeebies (John Cipollina) - 4:15
3. Cowboy on the Run (Dino Valenti) - 3:13
4. I Heard You Singing (David Freiberg, Robert Hunter) - 3:48
5. Worryin' Shoes (Valenti) - 3:25
6. The Letter (Valenti) - 4:06
7. They Don't Know (Duncan) - 3:54
8. Flames (Cipollina, Valenti) - 4:20
9. Witches Moon (Valenti) - 2:59
10.Bittersweet Love (Valenti, Duncan) - 4:23

Quicksilver Messenger Service

*Gary Duncan - Vocals, Guitar, Pedal Steel Guitar
*John Cipollina - Vocals, Guitar, Hawaiian Steel Guitar
*David Freiberg - Vocals, Bass
*Greg Elmore - Drums
*Dino Valenti - Vocals, Guitar
Guest Musicians

*Nicky Hopkins - Piano
*Pete Sears - Piano
*Michael Lewis - Piano, Organ, Arp Synthesizer
*Skip Olson - Bass
*Mario Cipollina - Bass
*Kathi Mcdonald - Vocals

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Quicksilver Messenger Service - Castles In The Sand (1969-70 us, west coast psych)

"One of the first studio sessions by Quicksilver’s then new line-up of Dino Valente (vocals), John Cipollina (guitar), David Freiberg (bass & vocals), Greg Elmore (drums), with the British session pianist Nicky Hopkins. Mainly acoustic, it took place in Corte Madera, California in late 1969/early 1970."

"Most of the songs, a couple of them running for nearly nine minutes each, were never to appear on album, although they featured in the group’s concerts. As well as working on new songs such as 'Subway' and the rarely-performed 'The Fool', the band run through several country, gospel and blues standards that they were familiar with, such as 'I Know You Rider', 'Walk In Jerusalem', Hank Williams' 'May You Never Be Alone' and Cindy Walker's 'Warm Red Wine'."

The booklet's sleeves notes cover the group's circumstances at the time of the recordings and the featured songs.
There's Enough Magic To Go Around. Please Remember That.

1. Senor Blues (Silver) - 6:18
2. Subway (Farrow, Duncan) - 1:43
3. I Know You Rider #1 (Trad arr Cipollina, Valenti, Elmore, Freiberg, Hopkins) - 3:54
4. I Know You Rider #2 (Trad arr Cipollina, Valenti, Elmore, Freiberg, Hopkins) - 4:35
5. Walk In Jerusalem - 2:44
6. Castles In the Sand - 8:32
7. May You Never Be Alone (Williams) - 2:19
8. Warm Red Wine (Walker) - 3:03
9. Look Over Yonder Wall / State Farm - 3:51
10.Wake Up, Dead Man (Part 1) - 5:35
11.Wake Up, Dead Man (Part 2) - 3:31
12.The Fool - 8:51

*John Cipollina - Guitar
*Dino Valente - Vocals
*David Freiberg - Bass, Vocals
*Nicky Hopkins - Piano
*Greg Elmore - Drums

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Friday, October 21, 2011

Erik Heller - Look Where I Am (1968 us, sweet hippie psych folk rock)

Circa 1967 signed and recorded for Vanguard Records, the previously and subsequently unknown hippy folk singer, Erik, whose sole musical offering, 1968's Look Where I Am (VRS9267) remains one of the label's undiscovered gems.

The 11 tracks on Look Where I Am cover the full range of psych/acid folk, from the strong opening track, with its multi-instrumental backdrop of flute, vibes, horns and bells, to the voice-and-guitar of 'Why Come Another Day' to the heavy fuzz guitar of 'You Said/But I've Got My Way'. There's even a long, soulful Davis-esque muted trumpet passage on 'Lights Across The Field'. The album has a dreamy, almost wistful Donavan-like feel, with tons of acoustic guitar and ethereal flutes.

1. Look Where I Am (Well It's Right Over Here) - 3:55
2. Painted On The Wall - 2:45
3. Dead Afternoon Song - 3:20
4. Be Off Man - 2:11
5. Why Come Anotherday - 3:13
6. You Said But I've Got My Way - 5:51
7. Lights Across The Field, Bright Lights Across The Field Too - 2:49
8. Sweet Eyes Of - 4:36
9. Georgeann - 3:48
10. Untitled Number 2 - 4:51
11. Trymphant Breaking Bottle - 4:33
Words and music by Erik Heller.

Erik Heller - Guitars, Vocals

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Footch Kapoot - Good Clean Fun (1977 us, exceptional progressive rock with jazz blues and post psych touches)

It's tough sometimes to write about forgotten records. You find them, you love, but there is so little info out there about them that you always feel you may not be speaking with authority about the music therein Footch Kapoot is a case in point. So in lieu of hard facts I am going to make up my own back-story.

Footch Kapoot are six people who really dig challenging progressive music, like Beefheart, King Crimson, and Gentle Giant, but have a soft spot for the pop structure as well. They are all excellent musicians with day jobs, and judging from the name of the band and they cover art they are nerds with no care or worry for commercial success.

When this came out in 1978, the cold cruel world probably scratched its head and moved on. I wish I would have been there to tell them how cool I thought it was.
by Greg Trout

1. Don's Mom's Green Boiled Ham (M. Hecker, M. Haupt, R. Last) - 7:46
2. One Day At A Time (Sue Kwiatowski) - 2:53
3. Sleepy Time Day (R. Last, M. Haupt) - 4:28
4. Das Is Wonderful (Ray Last) - 8:32
5. Tall Tale (R. Abell, T. Turner) - 4:18
6. Thee Andes Tune (R. Last) - 8:28
7. Theme From The Pet Dome (M. Hecker, R. Last) - 2:25
8. Versality (R. Last) - 5:26
9. Dreamburst (S. Kwiatowski, M. Hecker) - 9:00

Footch Kapoot
*Paul J. Schneider - Glass Drums
*Ray Last - Electric Guitar, Alto Sax, Flute, Bells, Vocals
*Mike Haupt (Dirty Michael) - Clarinet, Precussion
*Roob (Moon) Abell - Moon Bass, Vocals
*Mark (Blind Lip) Hecker - Electic, Acoustic, Slide Guitars, Blues Harp, Vocals
*Sue Kwiatowski - Piano, Vocals

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Geronimo Black - Geronimo Black (1972 us, excellent fusion brass rock with acid blues shades, from Zappa's, C. Beefheart's and Dr John's band members)

Geronimo Black was formed by former Mothers of Invention drummer Jimmy Carl Black in 1970, shortly after Frank Zappa broke up the original Mothers. Named after his youngest son (who has since grown up to be a musician himself), Geronimo Black was Black's band all the way, although he was one of two lead singers and everyone in the band contributed to the songwriting.

Besides Black on drums and vocals and his Mothers bandmate Bunk Gardner on keyboards and reeds, the group also included sax player Tjay Cantrelli (who had previously been in the second lineup of Love), guitarist and singer Denny Walley (who ironically would later work for Frank Zappa for several years in the late '70s and early '80s), bassist Tom Leavey, and drummer and keyboardist Andy Cahan (who would later join another set of ex-Zappaites, Flo & Eddie).

This lineup signed with MCA Records and released their first album, Geronimo Black, in 1972. Though it's a surprisingly solid album with a varied and occasionally experimental sound, the record attracted almost no attention and the group split up shortly after its release.

Normally, that would be that, but the entire original lineup of Geronimo Black re-formed in 1980 to record a new album, Welcome Back Geronimo Black, for the indie Helios label. Besides including new versions of three songs, "Low Ridin' Man," "Other Man," and the Native American epic "An American National Anthem" from Geronimo Black, the album featured contributions from three more former members of the Mothers of Invention: Don Preston, Ray Collins, and Buzz Gardner.

This expanded version of Geronimo Black is the group that for all intents and purposes evolved into the controversial Grandmothers, the group of former Mothers of Invention members who re-formed in the early '80s to play new material and Frank Zappa covers, much to Zappa's displeasure.
by Stewart Mason

1. Low Ridin' Man (Black, Contrelli) - 4:15
2. Siesta (Cahan, Contrelli, Gardner) - 4:15
3. Other Man (Leavy, Walley) - 3:01
4. L.A. County Jail '59 C/S (Contrelli) - 4:15
5. Let Us Live (Cahan) - 4:28
6. Bullwhip (Contrelli) - 4:17
7. Quakers Earthquake (Cahan) - 2:50
8. Gone (Walley, Leavy) - 3:10
9. An American National Anthem (Moreno, Black) - 6:54
10.'59 Chevy (Bonus Track) - 3:35

Geronimo Black

*Jimmy Carl Black - Drums, Vocals
*Andy Cahan - Keyboards
*Tjay Contrelli (John Barberis) - Saxophones, Vocals
*Tom Leavey - Bass, Vocals
*Denny Walley - Guitars, Vocals
Guest Musicians
*Bunk Gardner (John Leon Guanerra) - Tenor, Alto Flute, Basoon, Piano
*Buzz Gardner (Charles Guanerra) - Cornet
*Arno Nuefeld - Violin
*Samuel Cytron - Violin
*Nat Gershman - Cello
*Phil Goldberg - Viola

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Stray - Saturday Morning Pictures (1972 uk, strong progressive hard rock, 2006 extra tracks release)

After two albums of inventive, unpredictable progressive hard rock, Stray kept chugging right along with their third album,  1972's Saturday Morning Pictures, which notably found guitarist and guiding force Del Bromham growing ever more obsessed with the latest synthesizer technology, although not to the point where gadgetry was crowding out his ever-dominant fretwork,  or completely hijacking the band's analog roots.

Rather, Bromham's ever-growing arsenal of synths and keyboards mostly added enriching nuances to some of the band's more adventurous material  like "After the Storm," "Sister Mary," and "Move That Wigwam, " featuring an odd mixture of country-fried harmonicas and Native American themes. Another interesting hybrid, the first single, "Our Song," came complete with churchy organs and soulful backing vocals  from P.P. Arnold, as did "Mr. Hobo," which kept any sign of high-tech machinery at bay with its sprightly acoustic jamboree.

In conjunction with the similarly eclectic material rounding out Saturday Morning Pictures,  these tracks appeared to bode well for Stray's slow-building success, and, indeed,  the album (which was cleverly launched with a Saturday matinee performance by the group,  at London's Rainbow Theatre) managed to climb higher up the charts than either of its slightly heavier,  more aggressive predecessors. Unfortunately, it too would stall long before reaching the higher echelons,  or breaking the band to a wider audience, eventually driving Bromham into taking Stray in some truly questionable stylistic directions on subsequent albums.

Saturday Morning Pictures was remastered and reissued in 2006 by Castle and enhanced with five bonus tracks,  including the single edit of "Our Song," its B-side, "Mama's Coming Home," and a live "Sister Mary."
by Eduardo Rivadavia

1. Our Song - 6:03
2. After the Storm - 6:44
3. Sister Mary - 4:18
4. Move That Wigwam - 5:20
5. Leave It Out - 4:32
6. How Could I Forget You? - 5:49
7. Mr. Hobo - 2:39
8. Queen of the Sea 6:25
9. Our Song Bonus Track / Single Edit / Version - 4:04
10.Mama's Coming Home Bonus Track - 3:48
11.Georgia Bonus Track - 3:13
12.Get out Right Away Bonus Track - 3:01
13.Sister Mary Bonus Track / Radio 1 Session - 3:52

*Del Bromham - Guitar, Vocals, Keyboards
*Ritchie Cole - Drums
*Steve Gadd - Harmonica, Guitar, Vocals
*Gary G. Giles - Bass
*Pete Dyer - Guitar, Vocals

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Armageddon - Armageddon (1969 us, fine psych blues rock)

Not to be confused with Keith Relf's far better known outfit (and also with the homophone German band), this Texas-to-the-West Coast obscurity.

Singer/lead guitarist Mark Creamer, rhythm guitarist James Parker, and drummer Johnny Stark had previously been members of the Texas-based The Kitchen Cinq. Following the band's collapse the trio along with Kitchen Cinq bassist James Dallas Smith decamped for Los Angeles. Smith apparently decided to return to Texas in order to get a college degree and was quickly replaced by Skip Battin.

The quartet was quickly signed to Jimmy Bowen's newly formed Amos label (Kitchen Cinq manager Tom Thacker and Bowen were longtime friends). As you probably guessed, the move to Southern California and a new label found the band ditching their earlier pop-psych roots in favor of a distinctively tougher, rock-oriented attack. Produced by Tom Thacker, 1969's cleverly titled "Armageddon" marked a major step forward in terms of creativity.

Whereas The Kitchen Cinq LP and singles frequently followed prevailing musical trends, original tracks like 'Armageddon Theme', 'Water Lilly' and 'Another Part Of Our Life' offered up a first-rate set of fuzz guitar propelled hard rock, though much of the material was tempered by catchy melodies. The other big difference was found in the vocal performances. Whereas The Kitchen Cinq lacked a distinctive singer, this time out all four members came off as first-rate vocalists.

Virtually every one of the ten tracks was worth hearing (okay, any song based on a Tolkin character was of dubious worth ('Bilbo Baggins' and the stoned cover of the Walt Disney class 'The Magic Song' was simply a bad idea to start with). Personal favorites included the acid-tinged ballad 'Cave of the Winds' and their Cream cover 'Tales of Brave Ulysses'. Not a major masterpiece, but easily on of the better albums I've stumbled across over the last couple of years.

Piece of needless trivia - Finishing the recording sessions Battin dropped out in order to join a late inning Byrds line up. He was replaced by Robert Ledger (Ledger's face is on the album cover).
Bad Cat 

1. Armageddon Theme  (Mark Creamer, Jim Parker, Johnny Stark) - 4:12
2. Water Lilly  (James E. Parker) - 3:34
3. Another Part Of Our Life  (Mark Creamer, Jim Parker, Johnny Stark) - 5:00
4. Come Tomorrow  (Mark Creamer, Jim Parker, Johnny Stark) - 3:47
5. Cold Cold Tracks  (Mark Creamer, Jim Parker, Johnny Stark) - 3:19
6. Cave Of the Winds  (Mark Creamer) - 4:05
7. The Lamp  (Mark Creamer) - 2:33
8. Bilbo Baggins  (Mark Creamer) - 3:58
9. Tales of Brave Ulysses  (Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, Martin Sharp) - 5:06
10.The Magic Song  (Bibbidi-Bobbidid-Boo)  (M. David, A. Hoffman, J. Livingston) - 4:09

*Mark Creamer - Vocals, Lead Guitar
*Robert Ledger - Bass (Replaced Skip Battin)
*James Parker - Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
*Johnny Stark - Vocals, Drums, Percussion
*Skip Battin - Bass

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Shuggie Otis - Plays The Blues (1969-71 us, awesome blues rock)

Otis, for those not familiar with him through David Byrne's heroic disinterment of his 1974 album, Inspiration Information or through his authorship of the wonderful Strawberry Letter 23 - is the son of legendary R 'n' B bandleader Johnny Otis. A musical prodigy he was playing with his father by the time he was 13 and from the word go displayed an uncanny mastery of the blues guitar. This release of Shuggie's Boogie collects all of his most notable 12 bar moments. Tasty stuff...

Shuggie gained his first break through the rather egotistical star mentoring medium of being produced by the better known organist Al Kooper, resulting in 1969's patronisingly titled Al Kooper Introduces Shuggie Otis. The few tracks from that album show Otis already able to outshine his peers on some typical 'jam' material of the times.

By 1970 his father took the reins for Here Come Shuggie Otis, a fine collection of numbers which he'd written or played with Otis senior. Listen to his quick history lesson in blues styles at the beginning of Shuggie's Boogie as he impersonates his heroes. This new edition thankfully includes Oxford Gray which is essential listening for any fans.

By this point Shuggie was an assured talent and attracting some famous company. The rarity I Got The Walkin' Blues shows Shuggie mixing it up with Don 'Sugarcane' Harris, who'd also appeared on Zappa's Hot Rats (Shuggie played bass on that album's Peaches En Regalia). By the time of 1971's Freedom Flight and at the grand old age of 17 he was producing mature work with the likes of George Duke and Aynsley Dunbar as his aides. The fleet-fingered Purple and Me And My Woman both come from these sessions as does the slide genius of mood piece Sweet Thang.

After 1974, Shuggie grew less enamoured with stardom's trappings and sank into a perplexing obscurity. To pigeonhole him merely as a bluesman is to do a disservice to his unbeliveable range of abilities. yet, it's the place he came from and where he first showed his talents. Shuggie's Boogie is a fine place to get to know the six stringed side of the man who was even once offered the guitarist's job in the Stones.
by Chris Jones

1. 12:15 Slow Goonbash Blues (Al Kooper, S. Otis) - 9:27
2. Shuggie's Boogie (Johnny Otis, S. Otis) - 5:30
3. Gospel Groove (J. Otis, S. Otis) - 4:14
4. The Hawks (J. Otis, S. Otis) - 2:25
5. Me And My Woman (G. Barge) - 4:10
6. I Can Stand To See You Die (J. Otis, S. Otis) - 4:07
7. I Got The Walkin' Blues (J.Otis, D. Harris, S. Otis) - 2:22
8. Purple (Edited Version) (S. Otis) - 4:48
9. Cold Shot (J.Otis, S. Otis) - 4:05
10.Sweet Thang (J.Otis, S. Otis) - 4:12
11.Bootie Cooler (J.Otis, S. Otis) - 2:40
12.Shuggie's Old Time Slide Boogie (Al Kooper, S. Otis) - 4:02
Tracks 1 and 12 taken from Kooper Session - Al Kooper Introduces Shuggie Otis
Tracks 2, 3, 4 and 11 taken from Here Comes Shuggie Otis
Tracks 5, 8 and 10 taken from Freedom Flight
Tracks 6 and 7 taken from The Johnny Otis Show – Cuttin' Up
Track 9 is previously unreleased

*Shuggie Otis - Lead Vocals, Guitar, Piano ,Harpsichord, Organ, Celesta
* Al Kooper - Organ, Vocals, Piano
*Stu Woods - Electric Bass
*Wells Kelly - Drums
*Johnny Otis - Piano, Harpsichord, Celesta, Timpani, Drums, Percussion
*Wilton Felder - Electric Bass, Harpsichord, Celesta
*Stix Hooper, Abe Mills, Paul Lagos - Drums
*Leon Haywood - Organ
*Ray Johnson - Piano
*Al McKibbon - String Bass
*Bob Mitchell, Melvin Moore - Trumpet
*Gene "Mighty Flea" Conners - Trombone
*Richard Mackey, Willie Ruff - French Horn
*Hyman Gold, Irving Lipschultz - Cello
*Marilyn Baker, Rollice Dale - Violin
*Hank Jernigan, Jack Kelso, Jim Horn, Plas Johnson, Preston Love - Saxophone
*Eunice Wennermark, Ginger Smock, Isadore Roman, Joe Lichter - Strings
*Hank Jernigan, Jack Kelso, Preston Love - Flute
*George Duke - Keyboards
*Aynsley Dunbar - Drums
*Mike Kowalski - Drums
*Richard Aplanalp - Flute
*James Bradshaw - Harmonica, Vocals
*Venetta Fields, Clydie King, Sherlie Matthews - Vocals

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Friday, October 14, 2011

The Golden Dawn - Power Plant (1967 us, great texas psych, 2008 digi pak)

Power Plant was only album from Texas band The Golden Dawn, released 1968 off the legendary independent label International Artists. Many rate this album as the best IA release all over but it’s nowhere near Easter Everywhere or 1966’s Psychedelic Sounds Of. Not the year’s most original release, George Kinney’s vocals sound a little too close to Roky Erickson and the band lacks the originality and vision of the Elevators.

Kinney was in a pre-Elevators band, the Fugitives and also played an important role in getting Erickson’s book, Openers, financed and published. I’ve been told that Power Plant’s original release date was set for sometime in 1967 but for uknown reasons IA held out till the following year. That being said, there are still many fine moments on Power Plant. Evolution, the leadoff track, is a good psychedelic rocker with chimes, snotty punk vocals and some nice fuzz guitar.

The band plays hard and tight throughout and favor hard bluesy licks over fuzz as heard on songs like Starvation and I’ll Be Around. There are two undisputed classics on the album, This Way Please and My Time. The former is an excellent piece of acid drifter music while My Time may be the best song the Golden Dawn ever wrote. I hear bits of Gloria in My Time, the guitars are powerful with a rough edge and there’s a nice raga style solo making this an all-time, epic garage punk classic. Another highlight Tell Me Why stands out for backwards tapes and twisted Kinney vocals.

Power Plant is worth recommending on the strength of the above songs and it’s overall consistency. There have been numerous cd reissues though the Sunspot release comes in a nice mini lp sleeve with good sound quality. Kinney has made some late 60’s/early 70’s post Golden Dawn music which is reportedly very good but has never seen an official release.

1. Evolution - 3:28
2. The Way Please - 5:08
3. Starvation - 2:52
4. I'll Be Around - 3:00
5. Seeing Is Believing - 2:21
6. My Time (Jimmy Bird, Bill Hallmark, George Kinney) - 3:50
7. A Nice Surprise (Bill Hallmark, George Kinney, Bobby Rector) - 2:51
8. Every Day - 3:59
9. Tell Me Why - 2:07
10.Reaching Out To You (Bill Hallmark, George Kinney) - 2:37
All songs by George Kinney and Bobby Rector except where indicated.

The Golden Dawn
*George Kinney - Vocals, Guitar
*Tom Ramsey - Lead Guitar
*Jimmy Bird - Rhythm Guitar
*Bill Hallmark - Bass
*Bobby Rector - Drums

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Grass Roots - Leaving It All Behind (1969 us, west coast, sunshine pop, blue eyed soul, 2010 edition)

For a brief period of time between (about 1966 and 1972, give or take), the Grass Roots were a hit machine: fourteen Top 40 hits, a handful of gold singles, including one tune (“Let’s Live For Today”) that iconically captures its time as clearly as Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” or Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit.”

In the hands of producer Steve Barri, the Grass Roots had grown from a hastily assembled cover band to a full-fledged writing and performing force. Despite having lost lead guitarist Creed Bratton earlier in the year, the band gained keyboardist Dennis Provisor, who turned out to be a valuable addition to the lineup.

The first single for the album came out before the rest of the album had been finished, and it was a smash: I’d Wait A Million Years.” When the record was finally finished, there was another Top 25 track lurking in the grooves: “Heaven Knows.” But don’t overlook such underrated pop gems as “Out Of This World” and “Melinda Love.” The latter proves, if you’ll pardon the double negative, that there’s no song that can’t be improved with hand claps.

1. I'm Livin' For You Girl (H. Price, D. Walsh) - 2:32
2. Nack To Dreamin' Again (K. Nolan) - 2:37
3. Out Of This World (D. Lambert, B. Potter) - 2:48
4. Melinda Love (W.Entner, R. Grill, S. Barri) - 2:38
5. Don't Remind Me (W. Entner) - 2:33
6. Take Him While You Can (B. Provisor) - 2:54
7. Heaven Knows (H. Price, D. Walsh) - 2:26
8. Walking Through The Country (B. Provisor) - 3:56
9. Something's Comin Over Me (R. Grill) - 2:46
10.Truck Drivin' Man (R. Grill) - 3:06
11.Wait A Million Years (G. Zeckley, M. Bottler) - 3:22

The Grass Roots
*Warren Entner - Guitar, Vocals, Keyboards
*Rob Grill - Bass, Vocals
*Ricky Coonce - Drums
*Dennis Provisor - Keyboards
*Terry Furlong - Guitar

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Chicken Shack - Go Live "Goodbye Chicken Shack" (1974 uk, essentiall blues rock, 2013 remaster)

Having lost fellow Chicken Shackers Bob Daisley (Bass) and Paul Hancox (Drums) to the rigours of touring just as the band's now aptly-named sixth album, Unlucky Boy (SML 1100), Released: (6th July) ’73 hit the streets, founder guitarist/vocalist Stan Webb went off in search of replacements - and quickly found them. in came pianist Dave Wilkinson, fresh from tinkling the ivories on singer/songwriter Roger Cook's solo set, Minstrel In Flight, drummer Alan Powell and bassist Rob Hull, all of whom were rapidly schooled in Chicken Shack's recent past.

Autumn was turning to winter, popular music in general was going about its eternal metamorphosis, and on the rock/blues vine the 'progressive' movement seemed to be winning out at the expense of pure blues. For all his bravado, to close friends Stan seemed to be less than enamoured of where his efforts’ most viable future possibly lay, and Deram still l had another album due. Webb was (and happily, once more as I wtite is} Chicken Shack. The dazzling guitarist and over-the-top entertainer had to date not been captured on vinyl strutting around his natural habitat - any stage - so it was logical that the ensemble's contract be fulfilled with a live set.

The Pye Studios' Mobile Unit was booked for the night and on 26th October 1973 it travelled to the Brunei University in the West of England to preserve forever events on the boards. Barry Murray of Murray Simmonds Productions - an organisation part-owned by Harry Simmonds, manager of Savoy Brown and brother of that outfit’s kingpin, Kim - look over Neil Slaven's role as technical overseer. Stan's wry sense of humour was apparent from the outset, as he introduced the fact that proceedings were being recorded along the lines of " It's an old geezer with a Philips cassette and a couple of Vidor batteries actually " , before storming off into Everyday I Have The Blues.

Chicken Shark were in good form, and quite apart from reprising a handful of numbers from their Deram days, Webb displayed his virtuosity on a variation of the old Bert Weedon hit Guitar Boogie Shuffle - now known as Webb's Guitar Shuffle - before dosing the show with l.iitle Richard's Tutti Frutti. The band's disc outlet at home was expected to rush (he results inlo the shops, and indeed lacquers were cut, test-pressings made, and a domestic catalogue number, SML 1109) , allocated. The platter was never to sen4 li^ht of day in Britain.

Before it could be scheduled and alter only five months together, in January '74 Stan announced to the press that Chicken Shack were no more and that he would be joining Savoy Brown. Deram understandably scrapped issue plans for Blighty - their parent, Decca, held Savoy Brown's long-term disc agreement - although they'd originally intended to call Stan's now-definite finale Chicken Shack Go Live an appellation it finally bears with this CD transfer.

The Savoyians being one of London U.S.A.'s biggest earners, they were not going to 'isk possibly dissipating sales of Kim and Stan's planned new venture, so Go Live was shelved there also, but Germany and Japan ultimately ensured the Shack's farewell could be purchased by issuing Nova SDL 8008 and London K16P 9075 respectively, though signposted under the somewhat depressing end-of-everything alternative, Goodbye Chicken Shack Stan Webb and Kim Simmonds, along with a third guitarfst/frontman, Miller Anderson, plus Jimmy Leverton (Bass) and Eric Dillon (Drums) thence turned in one of Savoy Brown's finest IP's, Boogie Brothers (24th May I 974), and remained together for almost a year before Kim found himself on his lonesome once more.

As Jimmy and Eric went off to farm Utopian pastures new, Stan and Miller put together a band they named Broken Glass with ex-Shack cohort, keyboarder Tony Ashton, plus Robbie Blunt {Guitar}, Mac Poole (Drums) and Rob Rawlinson (Bass). After one eponymous album for Capitol in 1975 Glass fragmented (sorry, couldn't resist that), and following a brief sojourn to take stock, Webb began assembling a new Chicken Shack .

With A multitude of personnel amendments and one-off recording deals littering his path throughout, the great man has remained a cherished part of the hint's scene to this day, both at home and abroad. Regardless ol who is sharing his stage, Stan Webb in top gear is a formidable sight to behold and a guaranteed treat for the ears.

This C.D. gives an indication of the quality one might expect, although the songs on offer have naturally changed. Nevertheless, how much better that this revived artefact may today be more appropriately titled Chicken Shack Go Live than the unthinkable Goodbye.
Now where did I put those batteries?
by John Tracy
1. Everyday I Have The Blues (Chapman) - 4:57
2. Thrill Is Gone (King) - 5:27
3. Going Down (Nixon) - 5:46
4. You Take Me Down (Webb) - 5:06
5. Webb's Boogie (Webb) - 5:47
6. You're Mean (King, Harris, Jemmott, Lovell, McCracken) - 5:54
7. Poor Boy (Webb) - 6:51
8. Webb's Guitar Shuffle (Webb) - 2:35
9. Tutti Frutti (LaBostrie, Penniman, Lubin) - 2:13

Chicken Shack
*Stan Webb - Guitar, Vocals
*Rob Hull - Bass
*Alan Powell - Drums
*Dave Wilkinson - Electric Piano

Chicken Shack

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fairfield Parlour - Home to Home (1970 uk, remarkable psychedelic baroque pop, the continuation of Kaleidoscope, repertoire extra tracks issue)

Throughout the history of music it’s generally out of the norm for a band to change their name, while remaining the same band. It happens when a band splits, or the creative force buggers off and takes the name with him. Or it happens in the early days when a band’s still finding its musical feet and they’ve yet to hit the big time. The Move falls into the category of “band that changed their name but retained the line-up” when they became the Electric Light Orchestra - for the first album, anyway, as does Fairfield Parlour.

Fairfield Parlour had already released two albums as psychedelic-folk rockers, Kaleidoscope - not to be confused with the American psychedelic folk-rock ?!?!? band of the same name, and it was under this new name, in 1970, that they put out From Home to Home.

Eschewing the overt fairy-tale whimsy that had earmarked Kaleidoscope’s two albums, Tangerine Dream and Faintly Blowing, From Home to Home is an altogether more mature offering that favours the folkiness, with psychedelic elements, that was always at the root of their music.

There is also a sad, mournful feel to much of this album, rendered perfectly by Peter Daltrey’s airily haunting vocals. The opener ‘Aries‘, with its bittersweet memories and sense of regret, sets the tone for what follows, reaching its zenith with the majestic ‘Emily’. With a sentiment reminiscent of The Beatles’ ‘Eleanor Rigby’, ‘Emily’ manages to evoke sadness in a way that the more famous song falls short.

It’s not all downbeat though, with ‘The Glorious House of Arthur’ making a return to the fairy-tale atmosphere of previous Kaleidoscope ventures and treading the same ground of Arthurian legend as Donovan’s ‘Guinevere’ from his 1966 album, Sunshine Superman. This playfulness continues with the whimsical ‘Monkey’, featuring the somewhat random line “… And there is also a monkey,” at the end of each verse.

The Repertoire Records digipack reissue is another triumph, with great packaging - including the eerily, low-key cover and a host of bonus tracks, though the inclusion of a 1976 re-release of the single ‘Bordeaux Rose’ in its alternate, horribly over-produced version, is for the completist only.

Kaleidoscope were never afraid to explore darker territories, as evident on ‘- Further Reflections In the Room of Percussion’, and the Fairfield Parlour transformation and From Home to Home seem to be a natural progression of this. This one comes heartily recommended.
by Nick James

1. Aries - 3:23
2. In My Box - 2:03
3. By Your Bedside - Love Below Sky - 2:36
4. Onward Soldier Of The Flesh - 3:40
5. I Will Always Feel The Same - 1:51
6. Free - To Fly, To Drown, To Spill Milk - 4:20
7. ... And Emily Brought Confetti - 5:20
8. Chalk On The Wall - 1:07
9. Glorious House Of Arthur - 2:48
10.Monkey - 2:21
11.Sunny Side Circus - 2:47
12.Drummer Boy Of Shiloh - 3:17
13.Bordeaux Rose - 2:40
14.Chalk of the Wall (Mono Single Version) - 1:06
15.Just Another Day - 2:35
16.Caraminda - 2:02
17.I Am All the Animals - 1:04
18.Song for You - 1:20
19.Bordeaux Rose (Alternate Version) - 4:24
20.Baby Stay for Tonight - 3:06
All songs by Peter Daltrey and Eddy Pumer.

Fairfield Parlour
*Peter Daltrey - Vocals, Piano, Mellotron, Harpsichord, Organ, Tambourine
*Eddy Pumer - Vocals, Classical, Acoustic Twelve String And Electric Guitars, Mellotron, Organ, Harpsichord
*Steve Clark - Bass Guitar, Flutes
*Dan Bridgeman - Vocals, Drums, Pedal Tympany, Tubular Bells, Tambourine, Bongos

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Bermuda Triangle - Bermuda Triangle (1977 us, beautiful psych folk rock, 2007 bonus tracks remaster)

This album was only privately released and now sees the light again. It is a special recording which does not reveals itself after one listen. Most of the album sounds as if this is a Christian or otherwise spiritual inspired item, in a hippie fashion, with driven soul in the vocals, and with speeded up rhythms heading for the light, using rock rhythms, covers or originals for enlightenment. Also the instrumentation is pretty weird and beautiful. There’s use of electric piano and an Arp synthesizer which produces some unusual sounds.

On “Right track” this track sound as if this is orchestrated, but I think the keyboards were responsible for this effect. Also electric and acoustic autoharp provides more special acoustic and emi-electronic touches. The female singer, Wendy, has a beautiful folk-like voice, with some range in her singing. Her voice fits well everywhere, like on the opening track, a cover of the beautiful Moody Blues track (which is one of many people’s all time favourite’s songs) “Nights in a White Satin” ,with additional backing male voice, oscillating violin, electric piano and percussion.

There’s often a sing-a-long and celebrate feeling, from rock to more pastoral, like the closer, “Wind”, a track which has the most psychedelic atmosphere, with an ethereal folkvoice, moody electric piano and bass.

The band, originally called Roger And Wendy, was formed in the late '60s in Greenwich Village, typically playing in pass-the-basket-for-tips coffeehouses and folk clubs, such as Gerde's Folk City, (where they headlined for 33 weeks in one year,1970, setting a club record); the Cafe Wha?, the Bitter End, the Cafe Au Go Go, The Gaslight Cafe, The Freudian Slip, The Basement Cafe, and Kenny's Castaways.

Performing at first without microphones (as basket houses had no cabaret licenses, thus amplified vocals were illegal), they developed an energized psychedelic folk style with just an electrified autoharp and fast-pulse bass guitar. Their music quickly evolved from traditional ballads to electric folk, including psych folk, acid freak folk and rock. Roger and Wendy took the stage names Roger Becket and Wendy Becket when they had become involved with the Theater Company of Boston, and then in several off-Broadway plays.

They kept these pseudonyms through much of their musical career before returning to their original surname of Penney. This accounts for some of the confusion regarding credit for albums. Wendy is a lifetime member of the Art Students League of New York.

1. Nights In White Satin (Justin Hayward, Peter Knight) - 2:59
2. Right Track (Roger Penney) - 4:12
3. Dream On (Steven Tyler) - 4:36
4. Lark In The Morning/Swallowtail (Traditional) - 1:20
5. Free Ride (Roger Penney) - 3:03
6. Standing Together (Roger Penney) - 3:11
7. Louisiana (Roger Penney) - 2:36
8. Night Train (Roger Penney) - 5:33
9. Wind (Bob Bruno) - 3:48
10.Tucson (Tom Pacheco) - 3:01
11.Bright Light Princess (Roger Penney) - 4:02
12.My Brother (Wendy Penney) - 4:37
13.Jambalaya (Hank Williams) - 3:23
14.Always Love You (Doly Parton) - 2:24
15.You Must Forget (Tom Pacheco) - 3:37
Bonus tracks 10-15
Tracks 1-9 recorded 1977 
Tracks 10,16 recorded 1969
Tracks 12,14 recorded 1974
Tracks 11,13 recorded 1976

*Wendy Penney - Vocals, Bass
*Sam Becket - Drums, Percussion, Violin
*Roger Penney - Vocals, Electric Autoharp, Organ, Piano, Arp

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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Racket Squad - Racket Squad / Corners Of Your Mind (1968-69 us, pretty beat psych rock with sunny rays)

Forecast: Sonny. Good day for a walk. Bad day for puns, apparently. Without Sonny DiNunzio, however, there never would have been "Walk," which trudged its way up his hometown Pittsburgh charts. Nor would The Vogues have gotten off to such a rousing start. Nor, ultimately, would there have been The Racket Squad.

Sebastian DiNunzio wasn't a Pittsburgher, per se. He came from a little way to the northeast, in the Kiski Valley. While attending Apollo High School in 1959, he linked with a group then known as The Three Chaps (George Esposito, Joe Cesario and Bob Savastano). Sonny brought buddy Ron Fulton aboard, and the newly rechristened and numberless Chaps jumped into the record hop grind. Break came when Sonny's sister told her record-producing boss Nick Cenci about the group. Cenci thought a couple of DiNunzio originals had potential, so he had them cut "One Lovely Yesterday / Perfect Night for Love," which were released on Brent records out of New York.

The single made some noise back home, got them on TV and into the ears of dominant deejays. Searching around for another backer, they went to Lennie Martin, whose string arrangement for The Skyliners hit "Since I Don't Have You" was a rock and roll first. Another DiNunzio composition passed Martin's muster, "Heaven Must Have Run Out of Angels," to be backed with "They'll Never Be." There was a twist this time: high parts of the song were to be handled by another young guy just beginning his career, one Lou Christie, who would be launched to stardom via Cenci's Co & Ce label with "Two Faces Have I" and "The Gypsy Cried." Released on Matador, "Heaven Must Have Run Out of Angels" ran out of oomph, and The Chaps called it quits.

For a while, Joe, George and Bob headed for West Coast employment, but day jobs got old pretty quick. Summoning Sonny, they became The Four Chaps. Terry Melcher at Capitol Records gave them a listen and gave them a pass, but Bob Keene, whose Del-Fi label produced Richie Valens, liked what he heard. Securing a manager, The Four Chaps began playing around Los Angeles Meanwhile, Keene learned a new TV show was being put together, something called Shindig. The quartet auditioned for producer Jack Good, who cast them in the pilot starring Jackie DeShannon, P.J. Proby and Dionne Warwick.

The red-jacketed Chaps sang "Lonesome Traveler," with guitar support from Glen Campbell. Good was considering making The Four Chaps regulars, but Sonny was called back to Pennsylvania, and their 15 minutes of fame ticked away. So, too, went potential work with Phil Spector. That was far from the end of the groove. Back home, Sonny returned to lead vocalist duties with The Townsmen (including Ronnie George, Alan Bills and Bob Ainsworth), who became The Fenways and churned out a lengthier discography, one that continues to feed oldies radio. Beginning with titles like "The Number One Song in the Country," which was more than just wishful thinking,

The Fenways drew solid response to "Nothing to Offer You," "Humpty Dumpty," "Be Careful Little Girl" and especially "Walk," a gem of a 1966 pop rocker that bubbled under the national rankings. Deejays laid on them, especially Sonny's cousin Terry Lee On WMCK / WIXZ, one of the major players on the Pittsburgh scene. Though The Fenways never got to No.1 on their own, they hit the top through teamwork. Part of their studio time was spent under the Co & Ce banner. Cenci had signed a vocal group called The Vogues, who needed a backup band. The Fenways were around and they cut the track for the monster "You're the One," so maybe "The Number One Song in the Country," or at least in a number of markets, wasn't so far off after all.

By the following year, with changes in society inspiring changes in their hair and clothing styles, The Fenways needed a new identity. They becameThe Racket Squad and did what their former selves never did: issued albums. Two of them, and both on the national Jubilee label: an eponymous platter and Corners of Your Mind. Check out "Hung Up," their take on "Romeo and Juliet," and especially their nod to The Skyliners with that group's "The Loser." Good stuff, but not enough to assure longevity.

Various personnel logged time with the band: Bill Cotton, Gene Molanero, Joey Covington (who later flew with the Jefferson Airplane). The Racket Squad became Sebastian, but by the following decade, Sonny was working solo. A car wreck in October of 1978 brought an end to his talented voice. Terry Lee remembered his cousin through a tribute album titled simply Sonny.
by David Salinger

1968 The racket Squad
1 The Loser (Vanselow, Losak) - 3:38
2 Let's Dance to the Beat of My Heart (Mike Lewis) - 2:29
3 (Just Like) Romeo and Juliet (Gorman, Hamilton) - 2:24
4 We've Got a Groovy Thing Goin' (P. Simon) - 2:02
5 Higher Than High (Sonny Dinunzio) - 2:38
6 Hung Up (Kelley, Burton) - 2:14
7 Ode to Billie Joe (Gentry) - 3:13
8 Sunshine Man (Wiener, Lewis) - 2:39
9 No Fair at All (Yester) - 2:57
10 Little Red Wagon (Kelley, McCoy, Green) - 2:06
11 Let It Out (Let It All Hang Out) (Cunningham) - 2:17
1969 Corners Of Your Mind
12 Ain't Nobody Gonna Love You (Mike Lewis) - 3:02
13 Sweet Little Smoke (Mike Lewis) - 6:00
14 Get Out of My Life Woman (Alan Toussaint) - 3:25
15 Suburban Life (Mike Lewis) - 3:06
16 Get Out of My Life Woman (Reprise) (Alan Toussaint) - 0:46
17 Corners of Your Mind (Mike Lewis) - 3:55
18 You Turn Me On (Mike Lewis) - 5:25
19 Little Wing (Jimi Hendrix) - 3:04
20 The Minstrel (Gary Hill) - 5:46
21 That's How Much I Love My Baby (Sonny Dinunzio) - 2:36
22 Movin' In (Sauter, Lewis, Dinunzio) - 2:56
23 Maybe Tomorrow (Sauter, Lewis) - 2:50
24 I'll Never Forget Your Love (Mike Lewis) - 3:07

The Racket Squad
*Joey Covington - Drums, Percussion
*Sonny Dinunzio - Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards, Horns
*Gene Molanero - Drums, Percussion
*Bob Ainsworth   - Lead Guitar
*Ronnie George- Bass, Sax

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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Pearls Before Swine - Balaklava (1968 us, psych folk gem, japan remaster issue)

A record that virtually defies categorization, Pearls Before Swine's 1968 epic Balaklava is the near-brilliant follow-up to One Nation Underground. Intended as a defiant condemnation of the Vietnam War, it doesn't offer anthemic, fist-pounding protest songs. Instead, Rapp vented his anger through surrealist poetry, irony, and historical reference: Balaklava was the 1854 Crimean War battle that inspired Alfred, Lord Tennyson to write his epic The Charge of the Light Brigade; in reality, the "Charge" was a senseless military action that killed scores of British soldiers.

Balaklava begins with "Trumpeter Landfrey," an 1880's recording of the actual voice and bugle charge of the man who sounded the charge at Balaklava. It makes the transition into "Translucent Carriages," a mix of acoustic guitars, a basic vocal, and ghostly narration ("Jesus raised the dead...but who will raise the living?"), all the more stunning. "Images of April" continues the mystical feel, combining flutes, cricket chirps, and frog croaks for a nether-worldly effect. Rapp virtually cries "I Saw the World," backed by a powerful string arrangement that makes the song even more impassioned.

Like One Nation Underground, Balaklava is somewhat unfocused: "There Was a Man" is a little too Dylan-esque, and Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne" detracts from Rapp's compositions. Unfortunately, the record closes with "Ring Thing," a morbid piece that refers to Tolkien's famous Lord of the Rings trilogy. Still, this is superb psychedelic music, successfully merging exotic instruments like marimba, clavinet, French horn, and swinehorn with Rapp's unique lisping vocals.

But Balaklava isn't just acid-trip background music. It's probably the best example of what Rapp calls "constructive melancholy" (also the name of a recent CD collection of Pearls songs), a combination of the real with the surreal, and it's indispensable to any serious '60s rock collection.
by Peter Kurtz


1. Trumpeter Landfrey - 0:35
2. Translucent Carriages (Herodotus, Harley, Rapp) - 4:00
3. Images of April - 2:44
4. There Was a Man - 2:59
5. I Saw the World - 3:28
6. Guardian Angels - 3:02
7. Suzanne (Cohen) - 5:01
8. Lepers And Roses - 5:23
9. Florence Nightingale - 0:17
10.Ring Thing (Tolkien, Rapp) - 2:20
All songs by Tom Rapp except otherwise stated.

Pearls Before Swine
*Tom Rapp - Guitar, Vocals, Breathing
*Jim Bohannon - Organ, Piano, Clavinette, Marimba
*Wayne Harley - Banjo, Harmony
*Lane Lederer - Bass, Guitar, Swinehorn
Guest Musicians 
*Joe Farrell - Flute, English Horn 
*Lee Crabtree - Piano, Organ, 
*Bill Salter - Bass
*Al Shackman - Guitar
*Warren Smith - String Arrangements
*Selwart Clarke - String Arrangements