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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

String Driven Thing - The Machine That Cried (1973 uk, outstanding progressive folk rock, 2008 japan remastered limited edition with extra tracks)

String Driven Thing's rise ought to have been inexorable. Their latest single, "Circus," was making waves on both sides of the Atlantic, and plans were afoot for the group to join Genesis on their own latest tours of both Britain and the U.S. Unfortunately, the beginning of 1973 saw Chris Adams hospitalized with a collapsed lung, an event that was to have a serious impact on String Driven Thing's future.

That experience, and the nightmare of the next week's worth of agonizing recuperation was to form the inspiration for much of The Machine That Cried, String Driven Thing's next album. However, although the band did make it onto the British dates, the American shows never happened; instead, the band found itself shunting up and down the British highway system, playing small clubs and universities, and breaking in the new material.

The group's management at this time was being handled by Charisma's own in-house team, a less than satisfactory arrangement, but one that Stratton Smith seemed unwilling to change. Indeed, when Adams approached him to speak of the group's "total lack of confidence" in the setup, he simply "hummed and hawed and did nothing." Neither was that the end of the group's travails. In conversation with another label staffer one day, Adams mentioned that the band was considering adding a drummer to the lineup. A few days later, Stratton Smith showed up at a concert in Oxford, and instead offered them a keyboard player, Robert John Godfrey. He survived a week of rehearsals, but just one show, at the London Roundhouse, before the band declared him unsuitable and brought in a drummer (fellow Glaswegian Billy Fairley) after all. Godfrey went on to his own solo career at Charisma.

In this form, String Driven Thing returned to the studio to record The Machine That Cried, alongside what remains their best-known number, the single "It's a Game." The LP is one of the finest progressive rock albums of the entire era -- its CD reissue was widely heralded as among the most intelligent re-releases of recent years, and the excitement that greeted the re-formed String Driven Thing's return to action hailed almost wholly from memories of this marvelous album. At the time, however, all seemed doom-laden. "It's a Game," although it received plenty of British airplay, went nowhere (although a hit Bay City Rollers cover later went some way toward making amends)
by Dave Thompson

1. Heartfeeder - 6:39
2. To See You - 3:58
3. Night Club - 5:05
4. Sold Down The River (C. Adams, G. Smith) - 4:29
5. Two Timin' Rama - 3:10
6. Travelling - 2:55
7. People On The Street (C. Adams, Pauline Adams) - 6:03
8. The House - 2:37
9. The Machine That Cried - 5:19
10. River Of Sleep - 11:11
11. If only the good (C. Adams, G. Smith) - 4:26
12. It's a game - 3:36
13. Part of the city - 3:32
All songs by Chris Adams except where noted

String Driven Thing
*Bill Hatje - Bass (tracks: 1, 8, 9) ,
*Colin Wilson - Bass (2)
*Billy 'The Kid' Fairley - Drums, Congas
*Grahame Smith - Violin, Viola
*Chris Adams - Vocals, Guitar
*Pauline Adams - Vocals, Percussion

1972/74 String Driven Thing / Please Mind Your Head 
1975 Keep Yer 'And On It

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Monday, January 30, 2012

John Cale - Slow Dazzle (1975 uk, splendid progressive art rock)

Recording again with Phil Manzanera, along with noted journeyman guitarist Chris Spedding, Cale kept up the focus and amazing music on Slow Dazzle, easily the equal of Fear in terms of overall quality. With Brian Eno again helping out on synth work, Slow Dazzle comes across as a little more fried and unsettling than earlier work.

Even the warm, epic lift of the chorus of "Mr. Wilson," very much a tribute to the Beach Boys' main man and one of the best he's ever received, is surrounded by strings and piano both lovely and paranoid. The more accurate tone of the record can be found in such numbers as "Dirty Ass Rock 'n' Roll," an intelligent, sly demolition of the lifestyle done to a glam-touched chug topped off with brass and backing singers, and even more dramatically with "Heartbreak Hotel."

One of the most amazing cover versions ever, and arguably the best Elvis Presley revamp in existence, the slower pace, freaked-out Eno synth arrangement, and above all else Cale's chilling delivery make it a masterpiece. Then there's "Guts," which deserves notice for its low-key but still sharp feedback snarl and steady, cool rhythm, but perhaps has its best moment with Cale's gasped, killer starting lyric: "The bugger in the short sleeves f*cked my wife." For all of the stronger rock power, Cale's obviously not out to be pigeonholed, thus the calmer swing of many other numbers, like the great '50s rock tribute "Darling I Need You," featuring great guest sax from Andy Mackay, and the quick, almost sprightly "Ski Patrol."

In terms of his own performance, Cale's voice again sounds marvelous, balanced perfectly between roughness and trained control, while his piano skills similarly find the connection between straightforward melodies and technical skill.
by Ned Raggett

1. Mr. Wilson - 3:17
2. Talking It All Away - 2:59
3. Dirty-Ass Rock 'N' Roll - 4:44
4. Darling I Need You - 3:38
5. Rollaroll - 3:59
6. Heartbreak Hotel (Axton, Durden, Presley) - 3:14
7. Ski Patrol - 2:12
8. I'm Not the Loving Kind - 3:12
9. Guts - 3:27
10. The Jeweller - 5:07
All songs by John Cale except where noted.

*John Cale - Bass, Clavinet, Composer, Guitar, Keyboards, Organ, Piano, Viola, Vocals
*Gerry Conway - Drums
*Timi Donald - Drums
*Pat Donaldson - Bass Guitar
*Brian Eno - Keyboards, Synthesizer
*Andy Mackay - Saxophone
*Phil Manzanera - Guitar
*Geoff Muldaur - Harmony, Vocals
*Keith Smart - Drums
*Chris Spedding - Guitar
*Chris Thomas - Piano (Electric), Violin
*John Wood - Engineer, Synthesizer

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

John Cale - Helen of Troy (1975 uk, fabulous art rock, bonus track reissue)

The supporting crew on Cale's final Island album makes for a lineup that could never have happened again -- at least, in terms of future results, imagining, among others, Cale, Chris Spedding, Brian Eno, and Phil Collins once more in the same room together seems totally unlikely. Regardless of the oddity, Cale once again led a great ensemble band (Spedding now having fully taken over from Manzanera on guitar) through another set of great, inspiring songs.

Whoever is putting in the guitar solos, Spedding or Cale, sometimes misfires, sometimes succeeds brilliantly -- consider opening song "My Maria," where the earlier efforts are intrusive but the concluding parts a perfect addition to the building smack of the song. Cale's songs generally tend towards the uneasy throughout, his sometimes strained but never forced singing, high volume at points, making the most of the material. The atmosphere of the album as a whole is perhaps the most band-oriented of the three Island records, with further arrangements sounding like additions more than intrinsic parts of the songs.

It's not a criticism, though, more an interesting experiment with often strong results, like the strident horns and heavily treated noise on the title track. "I Keep a Close Watch" is the secret emotional sucker punch on Helen of Troy -- Cale long harbored a sadly unfulfilled dream that Frank Sinatra might cover it, and there's little doubt why. Taking the opening line from Johnny Cash's "I Walk the Line" as inspiration, with a much different thematic intent, it's an unabashedly romantic number with a great string and horn arrangement.

There are, again, gentler moments that call to mind earlier tributes to the Beach Boys here and there, such as "China Sea," along with a great rendition of Jonathan Richman's "Pablo Picasso." Overall, Helen of Troy finds Cale at his edgiest, with fascinating results.
by Ned Raggett

1. My Maria - 3:52
2. Helen of Troy - 4:20
3. China Sea - 2:32
4. Engine - 2:47
5. Save Us - 2:22
6. Cable Hogue - 3:32
7. I Keep A Close Watch - 3:29
8. Pablo Picasso (Jonathan Richman) - 3:23
9. Coral Moon - 2:18
10.Baby, What You Want Me To Do? (Jimmy Reed) - 4:51
11.Sudden Death - 4:39
12.Leaving It Up To You - 4:34
Music and Words by John Cale except where noted.

*John Cale - Keyboards, Guitar, Vocals
*Phil Collins - Drums
*Pat Donaldson - Bass
*Timi Donald - Drums
*Brian Eno - Synthesizer
*Chris Spedding - Guitar

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Saturday, January 28, 2012

John Cale - Fear (1974 uk, marvelous art rock)

When ex-Velvet Underground virtuoso John Cale relocated back to Britain after a sojourn on the west coast of America, he was ready for a change in direction. Through his writer friend, Richard Williams, he took a three-year, six-album deal with Island Records. “There was a kind of dreamlike quality to London in those days”.

Cale wrote in his autobiography, What's Welsh For Zen? “I was glad to be back there with a different ambience and a new record deal to fulfill.” Moving into a house in Chelsea and then to Shepherd's Bush, Cale found himself somewhat isolated, spending his time recording and writing after spending mornings listening to music. “I would load the turntable with boxed sets of the Beach Boys and Mahler and sit there drifting in a West Coast nostalgia.” These influences spill on to Fear which featured support from Brian Eno and Phil Manzanera and marked a return to the brooding territory of the Velvets albums. It was a dense, clipped, rock album that pointed the way towards punk perfectly. It reflected Cale's dope and alcohol altered mindset. “[I] was trying to be Lou. I was on keyboards, guitar and bass . . . the title song disintegrates into a frenzied 'say, fear is a man's best friend', less sung than shouted.”

This track, “Fear Is A Man Best Friend”, and the eight minute “Gun” were towering achievements. Fear was well received by the UK press, and rightly so, as it brought Cale back to being a British artist. Nick Kent said in the NME that “there's more than enough lyricism and inventiveness dumped into the work to pale most other contemporary products into relative insignificance.” Although it is somewhat overlooked today, Fear demands repeated listening.
by Daryl Easlea

1. Fear Is a Man's Best Friend - 3:53
2. Buffalo Ballet - 3:29
3. Barracuda - 3:48
4. Emily - 4:23
5. Ship of Fools - 4:38
6. Gun - 8:05
7. The Man Who Couldn't Afford to Orgy - 4:35
8. You Know Me More Than I Know - 3:35
9. Momamma Scuba - 4:24
Words and Music by John Cale

*John Cale - Bass, Guitar, Keyboards, Viola, Vocals
*Doreen Chanter - Vocals
*Irene Chanter - Vocals
*Michael Desmarais - Drums
*Brian Eno - Keyboards, Synthesizer
*Bryn Haworth - Guitar, Slide Guitar
*Archie Leggett - Bass, Guitar (Bass)
*Phil Manzanera - Guitar, Slide Guitar
*Judy Nylon - Vocals
*Fred E. Smith - Drums
*Liza Strike - Girl's Choir, Vocals
*Richard Thompson - Guitar
*Brian Turrington - Bass

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Friday, January 27, 2012

John Cale - Paris 1919 (1973 uk, brilliant art rock, 2006 remastered extra tracks issue)

John Cale's 1973 album Paris 1919 has long been justly celebrated as the most accessible and most purely beautiful record of his storied, multi-faceted career. And despite the album's abiding eccentricities-- the literary and historical allusions, posh orchestration, and abstruse lyricism-- it has often seemed to be Cale's most personal and revealing work as well, a deeply felt meditation on loss, dislocation, and introspective yearning. For this lavish new remastered edition, Rhino UK has unearthed 11 previously unreleased rehearsals and alternate takes, including one completed outtake, "Burned Out Affair", not included on the original album. This wealth of additional material nearly triples the running length of the original, and provides fascinating new insight into the deliberative construction of Cale's still-vibrant masterpiece.

By 1973, of course, Cale had already assembled a resume that would assure his status in the avant-rock pantheon. He'd worked in the Dream Syndicate and Theatre of Eternal Music alongside La Monte Young and Tony Conrad; recorded an album with Terry Riley; produced albums for Nico and the Stooges; and-- most significantly-- had co-founded the Velvet Underground. Yet it must be noted that at this point Cale's musical legacy had not yet entirely caught up with him. His early work with Young and Conrad was (and largely remains) under-documented and clouded in shadow, while the Velvets-- and the Stooges, for that matter-- boasted a reverent cult following but had yet to earn their reputation as supremely influential proto-punk and underground rock icons.

Meanwhile, Cale's post-VU solo work had been largely met with critical and commercial indifference, which eventually lead to him parting ways with Columbia Records. His first album for his new label Reprise was The Academy in Peril, an underrated collection of avant-garde instrumentals that Warner Brothers ultimately decided to bill as their first classical release. Despite this marketing confusion, Cale's standing with Reprise remained solid-- at least if one is to trust Paris 1919's original liner notes, included here-- and he was able to author the new album with some degree of creative control. Just as importantly, and for perhaps the last time in his career, Cale was able to approach the ambitious project with a distinct freedom from audience expectation.

Many of the choices Cale made with the benefit of this freedom remain astonishing to this day. Most noteworthy was his curious decision to enlist the talents of guitarist Lowell George and drummer Richie Hayward, both members of the L.A.-based boogie-rock outfit Little Feat. Though it must have seemed an incongruous choice at the time, this small ensemble proved to be an inspired marriage of styles, as George contributes several lovely, expressive solos and Hayward underscores tracks like "Macbeth" with a cavernous post-Velvets stomp. Cale also employed the UCLA Symphony Orchestra to flesh out his sophisticated, piano-based compositions, and their dramatic arrangements furnish Paris 1919 with much of its stately, haunting grandeur.

Throughout the album, Cale populates his songs with geographic detail-- including not just Paris, but also Barbury, Andalucia, Dunkirk, etc.-- and cryptic characters like Old Taylor, Segovia, and Farmer John. As writer Matthew Specktor points out in his lively liner notes, these wry characterizations allow the album to take on the appearance of a Graham Greene novella, with Greene himself the subject of one of the album's strangest and most erudite tracks.

On this track, as elsewhere on Paris 1919, Cale's lyrics veritably drip with intrigue and thinly-masked violence ("It must all seem like second nature/ Chopping down the people where they stand") with the album's central narrative based very loosely upon the Versailles Conference in 1919 Paris. But many of these songs contain tantalizing autobiographical overtones as well, particularly on the opening "Child's Christmas in Wales", which blends its Dylan Thomas references with what might be memories from Cale's own childhood. And on the elegiac "Half Past France", it's left ambiguous whether the song's narrator is a battle-weary WWI soldier returning from the front, or simply an exhausted touring musician wondering where exactly on the map he is.

The shadow of Graham Greene returns on this set's one completed outtake, "A Burnt-Out Affair", a track whose name seems a mash-up of two Greene titles: A Burnt-Out Case and The End of the Affair. Despite Cale's rather ragged vocal delivery, this track seems perfectly of a piece with the bulk of Paris 1919, leaving one to wonder what structural concerns might've kept it off the original album. Many of the other bonus tracks included here appear to be unfinished sketches, including a striking rehearsal take of Cale's deathless ballad "Andalucia" which he sings in a muffled near-whisper, sounding as though not entirely sure of the lyrics.

But several of the bonus tracks seem nearer completion, and grant the listener an intriguing glimpse at what could be Paris 1919's alternate history. A hypnotic, viola-led "drone mix" of "Hanky Panky Nohow" draws a stronger link to Cale's earlier musical experiments than anything on the released version of the album, while a stripped-down rendition of "The Endless Planes of Fortune" better accentuates Cale's nuanced vocal and Lowell George's understated country-rock accents.

The album's title track appears in two additional versions-- a "string mix" that features only Cale and a small chamber ensemble, and a "piano mix" that includes a beautiful, overtly Brian Wilson-inspired vocal bridge. Each of these alternate tracks is revelatory in its own right, and when taken together with the completed album this collection offers a brilliant working portrait of an artist testing the full possibilities of his songcraft. For better or worse, Cale has never again made another record quite like Paris 1919, at least in part, one suspects, because so many in his audience have since longed for him to do so.
by Matthew Murphy

1. Child's Christmas in Wales - 3:20
2. Hanky Panky Nohow - 2:46
3. The Endless Plain of Fortune - 4:12
4. Andalucia - 3:54
5. Macbeth - 3:06
6. Paris 1919 - 4:06
7. Graham Greene - 3:00
8. Half Past France - 4:19
9. Antarctica Starts Here - 3:00
10.Burned out Affair - 3:24
11.Child's Christmas in Wales (Alternate Version) - 3:30
12.Hanky Panky Nohow (Drone Mix) - 2:51
13.The Endless Plain of Fortune (Alternate Version) - 4:08
14.Andalucia (Rehearsal) - 4:34
15.Macbeth (Alternate Version) - 3:34
16.Paris 1919 (String Mix) - 4:29
17.Graham Greene (Rehearsal) - 1:40
18.Half Past France (Alternate Version) - 4:50
19.Antarctica Starts Here (Rehearsal) - 2:52
20.Paris 1919 (Piano Mix) - 6:09
Words and Music by John Cale

*John Calen - Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
*Wilton Felder - Bass
*Lowell George - Guitar
*Richie Hayward - Drums

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Epsilon - Epsilon / Move On (1971-72 germany, superb kraut rock, 2003 remaster)

Epsilon is a group well-known to most collectors of German progressive rock. They started up in 1969 as a Nice-influenced trio. Ortel had previously played in an early incarnation of Jeronimo. They adopted the name Epsilon in October 1970, when Michael Winzkowski joined. They were able to record their first album in January 1971, for the freshly established Bacillus label. This was an early Peter Hauke production in co-operation with engineer Dieter Clerks in the Dierks Studio, Stommeln.

The Epsilon sound was dominated by Ortel's prominent organ work, often adapting themes from classical music, very much in the heavier Emerson Lake & Palmer tradition. Ortel and Winzkowski wrote all the tracks, except for a cover version of "Paint It Black". Indeed, Epsilon were the second German progressive band to record this Rolling Stones composition, as Virus already had included a version of it on their Revelation album! The best moments of Epsilon's debut album were "Two-2-11", the strangely entitled opening piece, and "Every Day's Pain".

Other parts of the album were a bit easy-going and too close to conventional pop rock at that time. Winzkowski's vocals were sometimes dangerously close to soul, but not as bad as on the Dull Knife album. In general, a good album, but Murphy Blend would be a better choice for those keen to listen to classical influenced, organ dominated rock. Epsilon's music improved considerably on their second offeringM ove On (1972). It was another Hauke & Clerks production, adding the guests Curt Cress (drums), Rainer Marz (backing vocals, guitar, ex-Jeronimo), Pete Bender (backing vocals, aka Wyoming) and Christian Felke (flute, ex- Nosferatu). Instrumentally, this album had more guitars.

The nine compositions were an improvement on their debut, resulting in Epsilon's best album. At this stage, they could be seen as a German parallel to Traffic, with their soulish vocals, instrumentation of organ, guitars and flute and their slightly jazzy mood - just listen to the tracks "Feelings" and "Move On". At the time of Move On's release in December 1971, both Ortel and Ertl had already quit. Epsilon virtually moved on! This revamped group warmed up for the British band If, during their German tour of 1972. Peter Koch (ex-Jeronimo) was temporarily added as a fifth member during this year.

Epsilon's third and last album was recorded at Europa Sound Studios in Offenbach-Bieber (engineered by Manfred Screier). Off, released on Phillips in 1974, proved to be their most straight forward album, sometimes bordering on ordinary pop rock. 1975 brought another change of record company, resulting in two commercially unsuccessful singles for Ariola. Epsilon disbanded shortly thereafter. Winzkowski adopted his artist name Michael Wynn, and formed Michael Wynn Band that also Daansen eventually joined.
by Dag Erik Asbjornsen

1971 Epsilon
1. Two-2-II - 8:15
2. 2-Four-4 - 7:30
3. Every Day's Pain (H. Born) - 2:54
4. Before - 3:15
5. Between Midnight - 2:41
6. Paint It Black or White - 6:14
7. Hurry Up - 2:46
1972 Move On
8. Walkin' On My Way - 3:20
9. She Belongs To Me - 5:32
10.Feelings - 3:52
11.What About The Future - 2:38
12.Move On - 2:25
13.Reichelsheim - 4:10
14.Hear Me Cryin' - 5:10
15.Waiting - 4:20
16.Don't Know Why - 4:31
All songs by Michael Winzkowski, Walter Ortel unless otherwise stated

1971 Epsilon

*Michael Winzkowski - Vocals, Guitars, Percussion
*Michael Ertl - Bass
*Hartmut Pfannmüller - Drums, Percussion
*Walter Ortel - Organ, Pianos, Vocals, Percussion

1972 Move On
*Michael Winzkowski - Vocals, Guitars, Percussion
*Michael Ertl - Bass
*Hartmut Pfannmüller - Drums, Percussion
*Walter Ortel - Organ, Pianos, Vocals, Percussion
Additional Musicians
*Curt Cress - Drums
*Rainer Marz - Backing Vocals, Guitar
*Pete Bender - Backing Vocals
*Christian Felke - Flute

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Consortium - Rebirth (1975 uk, fantastic heavy progressive rock)

After some long years of singles and live performances, the UK band Consortium finally sees the light of day for the first time ever of its sole album, Rebirth, recorded around 1975...

Like many albums of its time, Rebirth stands at the crossroads of psychedelic rock, hard rock and progressive rock. The music can be described as a hybrid between Grand Funk Railroad and Uriah Heep: its dirty, train-like rumble and down-to-earth lyrics (sometimes to the point of banality as in the case of "I Want You") resembling the earlier, while its operatic harmonies and grandiose dimensions reminding of the latter.

The band’s labor pains, which went on for some long years of failing to produce an album (some of their earlier recordings, however, surfaced on the Castle release Looking Back credited to "West Coast Consortium"), add an interesting dimension to the material. The band refuses to let go of its yet-to-be disburdened original ‘60s orientation, and blends it with influences that the band caught during early to mid ‘70s. "Stop (Look at Me)" has an R&B feel in the vein of early The Who (think "I Can’t Explain") and "I’m Dying" has a suspicious resemblance to Led Zeppelin’s "Thank You," while "It’s up to You" takes the timeline further on to early Rush, especially due to its falsetto vocals.

On the heavier side, "She Gave Life" has sparks of Black Sabbath’s doom interlaced with contradicting pastoral harmonies; and the dual lead guitars that run wild throughout some of the songs often make them sound like a prototype of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden.

And so Rebirth is about the decades that shaped rock music being reflected through a certain point in time. It is therefore a shame it was not released close to its recording, as it could have established its reputation as a pivotal album. Still, it holds most of its vitality to this day.
by Avi Shaked

1. Rebirth - 3:47
2. It Was You - 4:18
3. Hold on Tightly - 3:16
4. It's Up to You - 3:39
5. It's Not Easy - 4:07
6. For Me to Forgive - 5:57
7. Stop (Look at Me) - 3:57
8. She Gave Life - 8:54
9. I Want You - 3:03
10. Time Waits For No Man - 5:30
11. I'm Dying - 5:39
All compositions by Consortium.

*Ken Brown - Bass
*Robbert Leggat - Vocals
*Brian Parker - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*John Parker - Drums
*Mick Ware - Lead Guitar, Vocals

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Various Artists - Peter Green Song Book, A Tribute To His Work (2000, classic blues rock, double disc edition)

In the almost thirty years since Peter Green first formed Fleetwood Mac, a lot of styles of Music and musicians have come anyone. Yet his talent, both as a guitarist and a songwriter, is such that the participants in these recordings (nearly one hundred singers and players) are drawn from a wide variety of musical backgrounds. His songs were, and remain, immense - intensely personal and widely appealing at the same time.

To have seen him play live was an experience, Rod Price, guitarist with Foghat who plays on three of the project’s tracks (“Love That Burns”, “lf You Be My Baby” and “Baby When The Sun Goes Down*), puts it’s simply yet eloquently. "The first time I saw Peter Green play I had no words for what I had heard. The  power and clarity of that evening has stayed with me through the years. The man was one with the music we know as blues - pure, raw emotion.

I heard the music but, more importantly, I felt his soul." Strong stuff – but it’s not necessary to have seen him live to have been touched by him, bassist Billy Sheehan, mainstay of Mr. Big, has been fan of Peter Green’s for many years and used to perform “Oh Well” with his first band Talas. Here he takes the same track and brings it to 1995 with passion, his feelings? Similarly, guitarist Innes Sibun, curently embarking on a solo career after permong with Robert Plant, never saw Peter Green live, but as a guitarist he didn’t have to.

Peter Green Songbook – a tribute to his work was modeled on the classic Fleetwood Mac in Chicago, completing the circle that started in 1969. All of the Musicians in this project virtually donated their time and talents just to be included, and as a label we wanted to contribute something other than merely manufacturing the CD’s. We decided that it would be most fitting to give something back to the music, therefore a portion of the proceeds from the sale of this double disc will be donated to Willie Dixon’s Blues Heaven Foundation.

The Foundation provides health benefits to Blues Artists in need, contract negotiation and royalty recovery assistance, and administers numerous educational programs for the purpose of accumulating proper recognition for the Art of Blues. We felt that this Foundation would be especially appropriate, considering that when Peter Green and Fleetwood Mac went to Chicago in 1969, the person they sat down with to select the musicians from Chicago, was Willie Dixon.

So it is with this sense of completeness and a feeling of a great pride that we present the Peter Green Songbook - a tribute to his work.
by Jim Kizlowski 

Disc - 1
1. Larry McCray / Noel Neal / Steve McCray / Tony Z - Black Magic Woman - 3:59
2. Luther Grosvenor / Jess Roden / Dave Moore / Mike Kellie / Ariel Bender / Steve Dolan / Pete Brown - Crying Won't Bring You Back - 5:17
3. Ian Anderson / Andy Giddings / John McKenzie / Pete Brown - Man Of The World - 2:57
4. Snowy White / "Rabbit" Bundrick / Kuma Harada / Jeff Allen - Looking For Somebody - 7:17
5. Dave Peverett / Rod Price / Southside Johnny / Tommy Mandel / Harvey Brooks / Mo Potts / Arno Hecht / Crispin Cioe / Bob Funk / Larry Etkin Baby - When The Sun Goes Down - 4:51
6. Rory Gallagher, John Cook, Rich Newman, Spoon - Leaving Town Blues - 6:50
7. Vince Converse / Innes Sibun / Steve Robinson / Gerry Soffe / John Baggott / "Little Joe" Frenchwood - Rattlesnake Shake - 5:30
8. Harvey Mandel, Jon Paris, Wilbur Bascomb, Damon Duewhite - Ramblin' Pony - 5:21
9. Arthur Brown / Dick Heckstall-Smith / Randall Ward / Mark Williams / Gary Scucz / Jeff Danford / Pete Brown - The Green Manalishi - 5:08
10.Luther Grosvenor / Jess Roden / Dave Moore / Steve Dolan / Mike Kellie - Merry Go Round - 4:40
11.Dave Peverett / Rod Price / Southside Johnny / Tommy Mandel / Harvey Brooks / Mo Potts / Arno Hecht / Crispin Cioe / Bob Funk / Larry Etkin - Love That Burns - 6:14
12.Kim Simmonds / Pete McMahon / Jim Heyl / Dave Olson - Stop Messin' 'Round - 3:09
13.Harvey Mandel, Jon Paris, Wilbur Bascomb, Damon Duewhite - Long Grey Mare - 4:52
14.Rory Gallagher, John Cook, Rich Newman, Spoon - Showbiz Blues - 6:53
15.Clas Yngstrom / Ulf Ivarsson / Christer Bjorklund / Frank Marstokk - The Supernatural - 3:19

Disc- 2
1. Billy Sheehan / Roy Z / Greg Bissonette / Tommy Mandel / Doug van Booven - Oh Well - 7:31
2. Larry Mitchell / Jay Aston / Wilbur Bascomb / Jonathan Mover - I Loved Another Woman - 4:57
3. Zoot Money / Bobby Tench / Max Middleton / John McKenzie / Jeff Allen - Whatcha Gonna Do - 4:01
4. Paul Jones / Bobby Tench / Max Middleton / John McKenzie / Bob Jenkins / Pete Brown - Albatros - 4:41
5. Jennifer Ferguson / Scott Smith / Mike Davis / Damon Duewhite - Closing My Eyes - 4:58
6. Ray Gomez / Troy Turner / Bobby Chouinard / "Even" Steven Levee - Lazy Poker Blues - 2:50
7. Ray Gomez / Pete McMahon / Bobby Chouinard / "Even" Steven Levee - Evil Woman Blues - 2:05
8. Stu Hamm / Larry Mitchell / Jonathan Mover - Fleetwod Mac - 2:56
9. Mick Abrahams / Dave Lennox / Jim Leverton / Graham Walker - The Same Way - 3:47
10.Wilbur Bascomb / Damon Duewhite / Jon Paris / Pete Brown - Watch Out - 4:31
11.Kim Lembo / Mark Doyle / Cathy Lamanna / Mike Doyle - A Fool No More - 4:03
12.Ken Hensley - Hellhound On My Trail - 3:15
13.Top Topham / Jim McCarty / Andy Cleveland - Drifting - 6:12
14.Dave Peverett / Rod Price / Southside Johnny / Mo Potts / Harvey Brooks - If You Be My Baby - 4:32

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Smith - A Group Called Smith (1969 us, groovy sunny psych)

They only recorded two albums, and their first hit - the top-5 Baby Ws You -was by far their biggest Yet the band that went under the name Smith continues to hold a special place in the hearts of its fans, and the group's records hold up far better today than those of many of their contemporaries. Smith featured three lead singers, and their punchy rhythm and blues-influenced sound emphasized the Hammond B-3 organ, an instrument until then largely identified with soul bands...and with Smith's label mates, Steppenwolf.

Many popular acts of the late '60s had their roots in folk and pop music. Smith's female lead singer, Gayle McCormick, though, had worked her way up through the competitive St. Louis music scene, with a repertoire of songs popularized by Etta James, Tina Turner, and other serious women vocalists, By the time Gayle Annette McCormick was am sophomore in high school, she was in a band.

Within a couple of years, that group had mutated from The Chavels into Steve Cummings and the Classmen ("Steve was the drummer” Gayle explains, "and his father, managed us at the time"). Ultimately, they were the 11-piece show band Gayle McCormick and the Classmen, recording for the local Musicland U.S.A. label — also home for local heroes Bob Kuban and the In-Men (The Cheater) Jerry Carter and James Richard "Rich" Cliburn were on their way through St. Louis from Los Angeles, promoting a single, Norr Taste the Times, although their group, the Smiths, had already effectively broken up. Says Gayle, "They were looking for musicians to back them up locally, and got together with The Classmen. In the meantime, I was trying to make a career decision: should I continue with music, or should I pursue my original goal, which was to teach physical education — I had been accepted as a RE, major by Arkansas State College, Rich and Jerry invited me to go to Florida with them; they drove in their van, and I met them in Miami. Before long, the three of us had relocated to Los Angeles' Cliburn played guitar, Carter was a bassist, and all three sang.

Eventually, they brought on board drummer Bob Evans (originally from Detroit) and keyboardist Larry Moss (from Tulsa), forming the first edition of what was by then called, simply, Smith. Enter destiny, in the form of two former teen idols, "We were playing at a dub called the Rag Doll in North Hollywood, and doing pretty well/' says McCormick. "And one night, Del Shannon and Brian Hyland stopped in. They were taken with the girl singer and the band, and said 'We must talk'. We rehearsed in the music room of Del's house, as he brought representatives of record labels by to see us.

I remember that Ahmet Ertegun of Atlantic Records liked us, but he wanted girl backup singers, like Aretha Franklin was using at the time. Finally, Jay Lasker, Steve Barri and Joel Sill of Dunhill Records came to the club. We were especially good that night, contracts were signed, and things were rolling." Smith's first single, supervised by Sill and Barri, was a version of Baby, It's You, that Del Shannon had helped them arrange. The song has been recorded earlier by the Shirelles and the Beatles; the Shannon-Smith arrangement was something altogether different, featuring McCormick's urgent singing and Moss's B-3. "When Jerry, Rich and I were forming the band, we always wanted a B-3," says McCormick. "Jerry would bring that big church organ down to the Rag Doll, and then, when we started to tour, he had it chopped down to portable size to take with him” The group broke big almost immediately, landing spots on "American Bandstand" and prime-time variety shows hosted by Ed Sullivan, Leslie Uggams and Red Skelton.

Their debut album, a group called..,Smith featured several songs from their chib act and a trio of new tunes — Jeff Thomas's I Don't Believe (I Believe), Chip Taylor and Al Gorgoni's I'll Hold Out My Hand (the hit single, by Texas group Clique, covered the Smith album cut, which had been slated as their next single release), and Mojalesky Ridge, written by Harvey Price, Dan Walsh and co-producer Sill. Lead vocals were divided among Cliburn, Carter and McCormick, though McCormick eventually ^merged (as she had in the Classmen) as the band's focal point, from a marketing standpoint, at least.

The album reached the top-20 nationally. In 1969, Smith was asked to record a version of The Weight, to appear on the soundtrack album for Easy Rider when the Band's version — used in the film — became unavailable due to licensing restrictions. The Easy Rider album reached No. 6 nationally, thanks in no small part to Smith's contribution. That record, incidentally, was the only Smith cut to use an outside musician other than horn players: Larry Knectal was brought in to overdub a piano.
by Todd Everett

1. Let's Get Together (Dollison, Powers, Webb) - 3:30
2. I Don't Believe (I Believe) (Thomas) - 3:40
3. Tell Him No (Argent) - 3:24
4. Who Do You Love? (McDaniel) - 2:56
5. Baby It's You (Bacharach, David, David, Williams) - 3:25
6. The Last Time (Jagger, Richards) - 5:38
7. I Just Wanna Make Love to You (Dixon, Lynch, Wackett) - 2:37
8. Mojaleskey Ridge (Price, Sill, Walsh) - 2:31
9. Let's Spend the Night Together (Jagger, Richards) - 3:52
10. I'll Hold Out My Hand (Gorgoni, Taylor) - 3:04
11. Weight (Robertson) - 4:30
12. Take a Look Around (Carter, Cliburn) - 2:25
13. What Am I Gonna Do? (King, Stern) - 2:53
14. Gonna Be Alright Now (Lambert, Potter) 2:47
15. It's a Cryin' Shame (Lambert, Potter) - 2:49

*Jerry Carter - Bass, Vocals
*Rick Cliburn - Guitar, Vocals
*Bob Evans - Drums
*Jud Huss - Bass, Vocals
*Larry Knechtel - Piano
*Gayle McCormick - Vocals
*Larry Moss - Keyboards
*Alan Parker - Guitar, Vocals

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Egg - The Polite Force (1971 uk, significant progressive experimental rock, 2008 esoteric remaster)

Egg perfected their distinctive, organ-driven prog with their second and best album. Stewart's excellent playing varied between his light organ-tone and to the more typical, heavy distorted Canterbury sound. The opening track "A Visit to Newport Hospital" demonstrates this perfect.

Light and jazzier playing in some wonderful atmospheric themes relieve VERY heavy organ in other parts. "Contrasong" is a track that features some horns and is complex in a kind of Gentle Giant way. Then comes the really tragic thing about this otherwise superb album: 9 minutes of completely pointless noise and sound effects in "Boilk". If these 9 minutes instead had been filled up with a track of the same quality as the rest of the album, then "The Polite Force" would have been one of the true keyboard-progressive rock classics of the 70's, in league with "Brain Salad Surgery" and "Spartacus".

Fortunately, the second side of the album consists of the great, 20-minute suite "Long Piece No.3" and was probably the best thing Egg ever recorded. Incredibly complex and one of the best pieces of music ever performed on just organ, drums and bass! If you forget about the idiotic "Boilk" then this IS still a great album and worth whatever you have to pay for it. Fans of organ-driven progressive rock with a perfect 70's atmosphere will eat it up.

1. A Visit to Newport Hospital (Campbell) - 8:28
2. Contrasong (Campbell) - 4:25
3. Boilk (Brown, Campbell, Stewart) - 9:22
4. Long Piece No. 3 - 5:08
5. Long Piece No. 3 (Continued) - 7:38
6. Long Piece No. 3 (Continued) - 5:03
7. Long Piece No. 3 (Continued) - 2:51
All songs by Brooks, Campbell, Stewart except where indicated.

*Clive Brooks - Drums, Vocals
*Dave Stewart - Organ, Piano
*Mont Campbell - Bass, Vocals
Guest Musicians
*Mike Davis - Trumpet
*Bob Downes - Sax (Tenor), Saxophone
*Henry Lowther - Trumpet
*Stephen Solloway - Flute
*Tony Roberts - Tenor Sax

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Yellow Payges - Volume One (1969 us, fizzing garage psych rock, 2010 Relics release)

Garage rockers the Yellow Payges formed in Torrance, California in the fall of 1965 -- while attending a performance by friends the Palace Guard at the Hollywood club the Hullabaloo, vocalist Dan Hortter took the stage to sing a rendition of "I'm a Man," so impressive that club owner Gary Bookasta hired Hortter's own band to back the Newbeats two weeks later.

The problem was, Hortter's previous band, the Driftones, had dissolved months earlier, but he quickly assembled a new Driftones' lineup including guitarists John Knox and Larry Tyre, bassist Herby Ratzloff, and drummer Terry Rae, also a member of the Palace Guard. Rae resigned almost immediately after the Newbeats gig, with drummer Dan Gorman signing on in time for the group to change its name to the Yellow Payges. They were soon playing the Hullabaloo on a steady basis, with Bookasta signing on as manager -- in 1966, Knox, Tyre, and Ratzloff exited, with guitarists Bob Norsoph and Randy Carlisle, and bassist Mike Rummans signing on in their stead.

When Norsoph and Carlisle quit soon after, Rummans moved to guitar, with Jim Lanham briefly assuming bass duties prior to the addition of bassist Teddy Rooney, son of Hollywood legend Mickey Rooney. In 1967, this Yellow Payges lineup issued their debut single, the Showplace label effort "Never See the Good in Me" -- "Jezebel" followed later that year, and both records generated enough local buzz to earn the band a contract with major label UNI.

In addition to releasing their label debut "Our Time Is Running Out," in late 1967, the Yellow Payges closed out the year as part of Dick Clark's Happening '67, a package tour which traveled to 45 U.S. cities in 45 days. In mid-'68, both Rummans and Rooney exited, with Hortter and Gorman quickly recruiting guitarists Bill Ham and Bob Barnes, both products of Fort Worth, Texas (a geographic quirk resulting in some confusion as to the band's actual hometown).

On August 16, the Yellow Payges played their biggest-ever show, appearing at the Hollywood Bowl on a bill headlined by the Animals, the Rascals and Tommy James & the Shondells; they spent much of the year to follow supporting their singles "Childhood Friends" and "Crowd Pleaser" on tour with the Animals, later spending six months opening for the Beach Boys.

The band's debut LP, Vol. 1, appeared on UNI in mid-'69, generating the singles "Never Put Away My Love for You," and "Vanilla on My Mind"; "Follow the Bouncing Ball" appeared in 1970, and their cover of the warhorse "I'm a Man" (a nod to Hortter's big break) fell just two slots shy of cracking the Billboard Hot 100. Somewhat ironically, it was a campaign with AT&T that spelled the Yellow Payges' demise: hired by Wall Street advertising firm Cunningham & Walsh as part of a phone company-sponsored campaign designed to appeal to young audiences, the band was forced to appear in commercials in yellow satin ruffled shirts, effectively destroying their credibility and their momentum. After one final single, "Moonfire," the Yellow

Payges dissolved in late 1970 -- Barnes later backed Kinky Friedman under the alias Roscoe West, and also collaborated with T-Bone Burnett.
by Jason Ankeny

1. The Two of Us - 2:58
2. Little Woman - 2:43
3. Friends - 3:31
4. Boogie Woogie Baby - 2:13
5. Crowd Pleaser - 2:24
6. Moonfire - 1:52
7. Devil Woman - 3:00
8. Never Put Away My Love For You - 2:24
9. I'm a Man/Here Tis - 8:42

*Dan Hortter - Vocals, Harmonica
*Terry Rae - Drums
*Larry Tyre - Rhythm Guitar
*John Knox - Lead Guitar
*Herby Ratzloff - Bass
*Danny Gorman - Drums
*Bob Norsoph - Lead Guitar
*Mike Rummans - Bass, Lead Guitar
*Jim Lanham - Bass
*Randy Carlisle - Rhythm Guitar
*Teddy Rooney - Bass
*Bob Barnes - Bass
*Bill Ham - Guitar
*Donnie Dacus - Guitar

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Monday, January 16, 2012

The Poor - The Poor (1967 us, fine beat psych with pre Eagles Randy Meisner, Rev Ola release)

The Poor are just another chapter in the amazing unfolding story of LA mid to late 60s pop, folk and fuzz, and thanks to the fine fellows at Rev-Ola, this lovingly compiled disc has been assembled from their singles and unreleased demo recordings. Named The Poor (previously known as The Soul Survivors when they lived in Colorado) because they really were poor, they were hired by people like Curt Boettcher (thanks to fellow Millennium pal Joey Stec) to play on sessions by the likes of Tommy Roe and The Association. They also were swallowed up by a scam which kept them poor by getting mixed up with a manager who got them to record for various label one-offs so the manager could then get the advances from each label.

Jim Bell (of the pre-Millennium group, The Ballroom), Randy Meisner (who went onto the Stone Canyon Band, Poco, and The Eagles, respectively and who also played on The Millennium demos), and Randy Naylor (he co-wrote the Sagittarius tune Love's Fatal Way with Curt B. which was originally demo'd by The Poor but is sadly not included herein; assumedly lost - Randy also went on the record an album produced by Joey Stec called Twin Engine) were all in The Poor. They rocked the Sunset Strip with a vital folk rock sound which is an amazing mix of Mamas and Papas, Monkees, The Sunshine Company, and Bobby Jameson (another Boettcher boy) along with certain country rock outfits which were stewing at the time like Cashman, Pistilli, and West and Brewer & Shipley.

A crack band, captured precisely and perfectly in the studio, these 13 tracks are all stellar lost gems. There's a great fuzz rock vibe throughout which helps even some of the more mellow tunes rock, with amazing harmonies rising throughout. Even when they get really mellow, there's lounge pop feel and harmony vocals which add to the mix reminiscent of The Ballroom and Sagittarius.

The Poor recorded two songs written by Brewer & Shipley (before they worked together as a duo), and She's Got The Time (She's Got The Changes) (penned by Tom Shipley) is by far the best tune on the disc. It's got a pounding folk rock song about "a young thing" which reminds me of Cashman, Pistilli, and West or The Monkees. The second best song is Study In Motion #1, the psych pop piece which rounds out the disc and was used in the Stu Phillips produced soundtrack to the 1967 Jack Nicholson movie Hell's Angels On Wheels. This song reminds me of the oft overlooked psych pop gem The Smoke (the Michael Lloyd project and not the British group); it's just a shame the song is a mere minute and thirty eight seconds.

Other great tunes are the first track on the disc, Can't Stand To Be In Love With You, a sentiment I'm sure we've all felt at one time or another. This is a driving fuzzed out harmony rocker. Once Again is a dreamy folk rock tune which'll make you melt with it's slow Stones-like melody and swaying build-up style. A fun tune is the vaudeville sounding tune Love Is Real which reminds me of The Monkees' tune Tapioca Tundra.

Rev-Ola have a way of delving into the vaults and digging out these treasures of immeasurable wealth. The Poor have apparently been a best kept secret because I had not heard about them until this cd dropped from the sky. The Poor disc is another in a long line of jaw-dropping gems to grace the cd shelves of lost rock, folk and harmony pop that Rev-Ola have been re-releasing at a blinding speed, and is so sorely needed in this age of a mechanical loss.
by Patrick

1. (Soul Survivors) - Can't Stand to Be in Love With You - 2:13
2. (Soul Survivors) - Look at Me - 2:49
3. (Soul Survivors) - Hung Up on Losin' - 2:26
4. (Soul Survivors) - Snow Man - 2:19
5. Once Again - 2:53
6. How Many Tears - 2:24
7. She's Got the Time (She's Got the Changes) - 1:51
8. Love Is Real - 2:21
9. My Mind Goes High - 2:46
10.Knowing You, Loving You - 1:56
11.Feelin' Down - 3:04
12.Come Back Baby - 2:32
13.Study in Motion No. 1 - 1:38

The Poor
*Randy Meisner - Bass, Vocals
*Allen Kemp - Guitar, Vocals
*Pat Shanahan - Drums
*John Day - Keyboards (-1966)
*Gene Chalk - Guitar, Vocals (-1966)
*Randy Naylor - Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals(1966-1967)
*Veeder van Dorn - Guitar, Banjo, Harmonic, Vocals (1967-1968)

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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Mason Proffit - Come And Gone (1974 us, remarkable country, protest folk, psych rock)

Mason Proffit is widely considered by obscure rock aficionados to be one of the best bands who never made it to the big time. Although they are mostly overlooked today, along with the Byrds, Michael Nesmith, and others, they helped to invent country-rock.

The band was formed in 1969 by members of the recently disbanded Sounds Unlimited, a tough Chicago garage band with a well-developed melodic sense. John and Terry Talbot were the main movers behind Sounds Unlimited and in Mason Proffit they took the vocal harmonies they had developed in Sounds Unlimited and went in a folk and country direction. They were among the first to combine the energy and instrumentation of rock with the subject matter and twang of country.

Perhaps the reason they were not hailed as visionaries at the time is that their first three records came out on small labels and didn't sell many copies. 1969's Wanted! Mason Proffit and 1971's Movin' Toward Happiness were released by Happy Tiger and 1971's Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream was released by Ampex. The band's fortunes took a positive turn in 1972 when they were signed by Warner Bros. and released Rockfish Crossing. They used their Warner Bros. connection to tour with the Grateful Dead but it didn't help them with the record buying public.

In 1973 they released one last album, Bareback Rider, and then broke up. In 1974 Warner Bros. released a two-record set of Mason Proffit's Happy Tiger recordings. This has been reissued on CD by One Way and is a great place to start if you want to discover the roots of country rock.
by Tim Sendra

After Mason Proffit signed to Warner Bros. Records, the label reissued the band's first two albums, Wanted! Mason Proffit and Movin' Toward Happiness, as a double-LP set under the title Come & Gone. "Hear the voice of change," commanded the Talbot brothers at the opening, and the song, "Voice of Change," was both a political statement calling out to President Nixon's "silent majority" and a statement of purpose from the band.

Like their peers on the West Coast, the Midwestern Talbots attempted to merge the musical and social concerns of the folk-rock movement with elements of traditional country. But they were a bit more Western-styled than the Flying Burrito Brothers and less of a good-time outfit than Poco. The music took off from folk and country sources into progressive rock, the pedal steel guitar and fiddle augmented here and there by strings, while the brothers' tenor harmonies gave the group a distinctive vocal sound.

Mason Proffit wanted to change musical tastes and political beliefs at the same time. They lamented the plight of Native Americans in "Flying Arrow," and while they could pick a mean hoedown on "Old Joe Clark," their version somehow managed to express antiwar sentiments. They recognized the connection between the cowboy myth and the independent spirit of truck drivers, and they mixed it all in with a sort of primitive Christianity. In this, they were very much of their time.

Mike Cameron's "Good Friend of Mary's" fit into the Jesus cult that identified the Christian savior as a proto-hippie, preaching peace and love while wandering the country in long hair and sandals, and the Talbots sang it with their warm tenor harmony in complete sincerity. Such music wasn't going to make it far out of the early '70s, but in 1973 it remained appealing.
by William Ruhlmann

1. Voice Of Change - 2:54
2. A Rectangle Picture - 2:22
3. You Finally Found Your Love - 4:23
4. Sweet Lady Love - 3:53
5. Stewball (Traditional) - 3:31
6. Two Hangmen - 5:00
7. Buffalo - 2:50
8. Walk On Down The Road - 2:58
9. It's All Right - 2:34
10.Till The Sun's Gone - 3:25
11.Johnny's Tune - 1:15
12.Michael Dodge - 2:59
13.Hard Luck Woman - 2:57
14.Children - 2:52
15.Hokey Joe Pony - 2:24
16.Flying Arrow - 3:30
17.Old Joe Clark (Traditional) - 4:10
18.Good Friend Of Mary's (Mike Cameron) - 2:46
19.He Loves Them - 3:32
20.Melinda - 3:40
21.Let Me Know Where You're Going - 2:29
22.Everybody Was Wrong - 5:20
All songs by John and Terry Talbot except where indicated.

Mason Proffit
*Tim Ayers - Bass
*Johnny Frigo - Fiddle
*Art Nash - Drums, Percussion
*Ron Schuetter - Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
*John Michael Talbot - Banjo, Dobro, Electric Acoustic Guitar, Pedal Steel, Vocals
*Johnny Talbot - Banjo, Dobro, Acoustic Electric Guitar, Pedal Steel, Vocals
*Terry Talbot - Fiddle, 12 String, Acoustic, Electric Guitar, Jew's-Harp, Percussion, Piano, Vocals

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Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Common People - Of The People/By The People/For The People From (1969 us, awesome garage psychedelic rock, fallout extra tracks edition)

The Common People are perhaps the greatest remaining enigma in 1960s US rock music.

Their sole album has belatedly been acclaimed as one of the most distinctive recordings of its time, but - despite the best efforts of fans and journalists- none of the musicians involved has yet been found.

Led by Denny Robinett, who is remembered as a deeply charismatic figure, they are known to have originated in California (some say in Baldwin Park, others Fontana), where they are thought to have been bikers.

Having recorded two ultra-rare garage singles for the local Flodavieur label (which indicate the morose, brooding direction their music would take, and make their CD debut here), they fetched up on LA's famed Sunset Strip at the end of the decade.

By then they'd taken to wearing white robes and carrying Biblical staffs, and soon attracted the attention of legendary rock opportunist 'Sir' Tim Hudson, manager of garage heroes the Seeds and the Lollipop Shoppe.

Hudson had the prescience to recognise the uniqueness of Robinett's moody songwriting, and in 1969 he landed them an album deal with Capitol.

With a considerable budget to play with, he hired the legendary David Axelrod to score the material, and set about planning an ambitious fusion of the experimental pop of the Beach Boys, Love and The Velvet Underground with modern classical strings.

To this end he hired some of LA's top session musicians, several of whom were longtime Axel rod collaborators.

Cellist Jesse Ehrlich and violinist William Kurasch were both members of the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra, and had recently contributed to albums including Love's Forever Changes and Frank Zappa's Lumpy Gravy, amongst others, while viola player Philip Goldberg was a veteran of sessions for Zappa, the Monkees, Van Dyke Parks and others.

Double bassist and tuba virtuoso Red Callender had played with jazz greats such as Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole and Charlie Parker, while prolific trumpeter Tony Terran had contributed to recordings by Lou Rawls, Randy Newman and Linda Ronstadt, and went on to work with Tim Buckley, Tom Waits, Madonna and others. Rounding off the credits were engineers Rex Updegraft, Doc Siegel and Joe Polito, fresh from working with the Band, Buffalo Springfield and Glen Campbell respectively.

The stage seemed set for a masterpiece - but then disaster struck. With stunning work completed on just three songs, Axelrod's wife was badly injured in an accident and he had to pull out, effectively killing the project in the process.

Today those shimmering, ethereal masterpieces (Soon There'// Be Thunder, / Hove Been Alone and Those Who Love) are not only regarded as pinnacles of Axelrod's career, but of orchestrated pop in general - all the more remarkable given that they are said to have been recorded without charts.

Certainly their conductor, Sid Sharp (perhaps best-known for his work on the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds), regarded them as astonishing achievements.

One can only conjecture how magical the album would be had every track been thus treated, but Axelrod's departure gave Capitol cold feet, and they cut off their support, meaning that the remaining songs had to be rushed.

Though they're at odds with the opening trio, most are treasures too. Go Every Way, Why Must I Be?, Take From You, Feeling and Land Of A Day are all impeccable pop songs, delivered in Robinett's unique growl and imbued with the same wistful, suggestive atmosphere of the album's openers.

The record is only compromised by one or two less distinguished hornrock tracks, and Hudson's sole contribution, the wonderfully-titled but woefully-misbegotten novelty number They Didn't Even Go To The Funeral, a strong contender for the worst song ever to appear on a fine album.

When it crept out in late 1969, Of The People, By The People, For The People flopped, and it is assumed that the band folded soon afterwards.

The record, however, stands as a small masterpiece of brooding, late-night psychedelia, and it is to be hoped that Denny Robinett will surface one day, and tell the full story of his glorious, one-shot contribution to rock and roll.

1. Soon There'll Be Thunder (D. Robinett, J. Robinett) - 2:21
2. I Have Been Alone - 3:09
3. Those Who Love - 3:14
4. Go Every Way - 2:22
5. Why Must I Be? - 2:20
6. Take From You - 2:51
7. They Didn't Even Go To The Funeral (Hudson, Hill) - 2:47
8. Feeling - 2:18
9. Girl Said (Know) - 1:36
10. Land Of A Day - 3:51
11. This Life She Is Mine (D. Robinett, J. Robinett) - 2:09
12. Oh My My (Bonus Track) - 1:57
13. Days On My Mind (Bonus Track) - 2:53
14. Look Around (Bonus Track) - 2:28
15. Dawn Of My Life (Bonus Track) - 2:44
All compositions by Denny Robinett except otherwise written.

The Common People
*Denny Robinett - Lead Vocals And Guitar
*John Bartley III - Guitar
*Michael Mccarthy - Bass Guitar
*William Fausto - Keyboards
*Jerrald Robinett - Drums

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Friday, January 13, 2012

John Phillips - Phillips 66 (2001 us, country folk rock)

"Phillips 66" is the third and final solo album from John Phillips and the last recordings of his entire musical career. John passed away just days after completing the sessions for this album. After The Mamas And The Papas split up at the end of the Sixties, John recorded his first solo album, "The Wolfking Of LA".

Produced by Lou Adler, the original producer of The Mamas And The Papas, this album featured a stellar studio line-up, including drummer Hal Blaine, Elvis Presley and Rick Nelson guitarist James Burton, bassist Joe Osborn, pianist Larry Knechtel, Buddy Emmons and Red Rhodes on pedal steel, Dartene Love singing back up and fiddle player Gordon Terry. Although begun in the 70's, John's second solo album, "Pay Pack & Follow", was not released until just after his passing. ("Pay Pack & Follow"is also available on Eagle Records) John, as a solo artist was the first artist signed to the newly-formed Rolling Stones Records in 1976 and the album was co-produced by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, with musical contributions by Mick and Keith, Mick Taylor, Ronnie Wood and Michelle and Mackenzie Phillips.

"Phillips 66" completes the album trilogy, named thusly by John because he would have been turning 66 years old around the time planned for release of this album. It consists of many songs John never got around to recording until now. While some of them are famous through their connections with different artists, others are more recent and yet as important. In total they form a valuable addition to the formidable body of work of one of America's most influential and unsung singer/songwriters.

1. California Dreamin' - 3:13
2. Me And My Uncle - 3:28
3. Babies - 4:01
4. Slow Starter - 3:10
5. Average Man - 4:11
6. She Got She - 3:51
7. Boys From The South - 3:07
8. There Is A Place - 3:06
9. Campy California - 3:21
10.Gram's Song - 3:43
11.Whiskey, Wine & Champagne - 4:21
12.If - 3:37
All songs by John and Michelle Phillips.

*David Baxter - 12 String Electric, Acoustic Guitar
*Edwin Benachowski - String Contractor
*Bill Cleary - Vocals
*Ariel A. De La Rosa - Vocals
*Debra Dobkin - Percussion
*Jonathan Dysart - Violin
*Davey Faragher - Vocals
*Anton Fig - Drums
*Paul Gilman - Guitar Arrangements
*Fernando Gonzalez - Vocals
*Gilbert Hansen - Harmonica
*Mary Horoshevsky - Cello
*John Kito - Farfisa Organ
*Will Lee - Bass
*Joel Lish - Viola
*Steve Madaio - Trumpet
*Sid McGinnis - Acoustic Guitar
*Dillon O'Brian - Vocals (Background)
*Leon Pendarvis - Hammond Organ, Electric Piano, String Arrangements
*Herb Peterson - Guitar
*John Phillips - Vocals
*Vladimir Polimatidi - Violin
*John Regan - Bass
*Paul Shaffer - Harmonium, Hammond Organ, Piano
*Chris Spedding - Electric Guitar

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

John Phillips - John The Wolfking Of L.A. (1970 us, psych sunny country folk rock, 2006 bonus tracks edition)

Whilst best known for being lead "Papa" at The Mamas And the Papas, John Phillips has a recording career rijat stretches either side of .their commercial breakthrough. Beginning in I960, Phillips progressed from The Smoothies to The Journeymen (with Scott McKenzie) to The New Journeymen (with Michelle Philiips), all the while honing his songwriting skills to the point where The Kingston Trio were recording his songs.

He formed The Mamas And The Papas in 1965 to record his most pop-oriented compositions “California Dreamin;”, ''Monday Monday", and "Creeque Alley" were all huge hits; and he gave his fellow Journeyman -Scott McKenzie the 1967 anthem "San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair)". The same year he helped organise the “Monterey Pop Festival” , but in 1968 The Mamas And Papas came to a halt. Phillips resurfaced in May 1970 with this album on Dunhill records, which combines echoes of his hit group with country and western influences, utilising the skills of renowned country pickers like James Burton and Mike Nesmith's pedal steel player O.J. “Red” Rhodes.

However the album only reached 181 on the Billboard charts, and Phillips returned to The Mamas And The Papas for a "reunion" album, though their contributions were taped separately. Through the seventies Phillips became immersed in drug addiction, involving himself only in an album by his third wife Genevieve Waite, a single of his own, “Revolution On Vacation", and some tracks by Michelle Phillips.

Plans were made for a solo album, with contributions by Mick Jagger and Keith Richard, but came to nothing, and in 1981 he was convicted of drug trafficking. After rehabilitation he formed a new Mamas And The Papas to tour the old songs and while no new albums have emerged, Phillips co-wrote the Beach Boys' hit “Kokorno'” in 1989 with Scott McKenzie, Mike Love and Terry Melcher.

1. April Anne - 3:22
2. Topanga Canyon - 3:53
3. Malibu People - 3:41
4. Someone's Sleeping - 2:46
5. Drum - 3:36
6. Captain - 3:25
7. Let It Bleed, Genevieve - 2:53
8. Down the Beach - 2:52
9. Mississippi - 3:36
10.Holland Tunnel - 3:41
11.Shady - 3:48
12.Lonely Children - 3:44
13.Lady Genevieve - 4:30
14.Black Girl (Traditional) - 3:29
15.The Frenchman - 4:03
16.16mm Baby (Reich) - 2:41
17.Larry, Joe, Hal and Me - 2:25
18.Mississippi (Single Version) - 3:07
All songs by John Phillips except where noted.

*Hal Blaine - Drums
*Larry Knechtel - Keyboard
*Joe Osborn - Bass
*John Phillips - Guitar And Harmonica
*David Cohen - Guitar
*Dr.Hord - Guitar
*Darlene Love - Voice
*Jean King, Voice
*Fan Ha James Voice
*James Burton - Dohro And Lead Guitar
*Buddy Emmons - Steel Guitar
*Red Rhodes - Steel Guitar
*Gordon Terry - Fiddle

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Earthen Vessel - Hard Rock Everlasting Life (1971 us, spiritual psych folk rock, Gear Fab release)

Earthen Vessel was, for a period of about 18 months during 1971-71, one of the major "Jesus Rock" bands in the Midwest. The group was put together in the fall of 10790 in Lansing, Michigan, by Leon Morton, who had been a gospel quartet tenor, and his partner Walter Ballard. Together, they formed Balton Enterprises, Inc., which managed Earthen Vessel and its warm-up act, The Folk Singer Lillie Crozier.

The original name of the band was "The Rare Ones", but it was soon changed to Earthen Vessel, a biblical reference. The band traveled in a gutted-out tour bus, with a bedroom in the back for Sharon, the lead singer, four bunks in the middle for the guys, and a sitting room at the front. Amplifiers were provided by West Laboratories, which also sponsored Grand Funk Railroad at the time, because bassist John Sprunger worked for West.

Balton Enterprises also operated a Christian coffee house called the Catacombs in Lansing, where Earthen Vessel played whenever in town. In late 1970, I returned to Michigan State University (as a sophomore) from California, where I had been working for Campus Crusade for Christ at its San Bernadino headquarters. I was a folk singer, having been in a trio sponsored by Youth for Christ during high school.

The so-called Jesus Movement, a sort of counter-culture meets church youth group, was in full swing in California in 1970 and I saw and heard numerous Christian folk and rock groups. On my return to Michigan, I performed solo for a youth group in a Nazarene church, where Leon Morton was working. He took me out the next day for coffee, and said he was looking for a lead guitarist- he already had a superb drummer, Eddie Johnson, who spent some time at Juliard; John, the bassist, who had done some trumpet on a Buckingham's album and had played bass for Commonwealth in Northern Illinois; and Sharon Keel and Ken Fitch (who later played organ), vocalists from a Nazarene college in Illinois.

We started practicing together that fall (1970), writing our own music, and playing in the Catacombs. Our goal was to be both an evangelistic ministry and the hardest, loudest, acid-rock band that was not actually using acid. We were clean, and we often did high school anti-drug rallies during school hours in towns where we would be playing that night. By the next summer, we were playing outdoor rock festivals in the Midwest and also in Christian music festivals We went to Sweden for a nine days tour, but on the first night in a park in Stockholm, we were banned for being too loud and I ended up finishing the tour as a folk singer.

By the summer of 1971, we had enough material to do an album, and Leon arranged with Dave Mathes at NRS Records in Nashville to produce it, using Monument Studios If the album would have been more successful, we probably would have stayed together, but our impatience made us think about doing other things, going back to school, and so forth. Being on the road was grueling, and I now understand why professional musicians can feel as though life is passing them by- play at night, go out to eat afterwards, fall asleep on the bus, wake up somewhere else the next afternoon, eat, set up equipment, play at night, etc. By the summer of 1972, most of us left.

A new band was formed with the same name and Sharon Keel out front, but it didn't last long. Even while our music was distinctly Christian, it was also distinctly psychedelic, and we were very offensive in the eyes of many church leaders, who thought we must be doing drugs and sleeping with groupies. We were happy to be offensive, and we were proud to provide a counter-cultural image of religious life. Nowadays, there's an entire industry of Christian rock music but in 1971, we never saw another Jesus Rock band that was louder, dressed more outrageously, or jumped around on stage more than Earthen Vessel. After the break up of the band, I went on to join the Air Force, studied in Amsterdam, and went on to Law School.

I worked at several Law Firms in San Diego and Austin, finally settling in today as a full professor of law at an Eastern University. As far as the other band members go, I only know that John Sprunger joined a Swiss Ministry that provided helicopter services to missionaires in Africa, later moving to West Cameroon. Oddly enough, I know nothing about what ever happened to Sharon, Ken, and Eddie.
by Dave Caudill

1. Life Everlasting (Sharon Keel, John Sprunger) - 6:00
2. You Can (Dave Caudill) - 4:37
3. Let Jesus Bring You Back (Ken Fitch, Sharon Keel, Dave Caudill, John Sprunger) - 4:55
4. I've Been Walkin' (Sharon Keel, John Sprunger) - 8:57
5. Coming Home (Arr: Ken Fitch, Sharon Keel, Dave Caudill, John Sprunger) - 2:58
6. Get High (U.S. Apple Corps) - 4:40

Earthen Vessel
*John Sprunger - Bass, Vocals, Trumpet
*Sharon Keel - Lead Vocal, Keyboard, Percussion
*Dave Caudill - Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, Blues Harp
*Ken Fitch - Keyboards, Lead Vocal, Percussion
*Ed Johnson - Drums

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