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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Joint - Freak Street (1967 uk, proto progressive freak psych gem)

The Joint were created in July 1967 out of the Folkestone band The Lonely Ones, who had included in the early line up Noel Redding, who of course went of fame and fortune with Jimi Hendrix Experience, also Jim Leverton, who Played with The Yardbirds and Rick Davies who become famous as a member with the Supertramp.

During European dates in 1967 the band made up with film writer David Llewelyn and director/composer George Moorse and went on to record soundtrack material for a series Munich underground movies in Germany, including “Jet Generation” and “Der Griller”.

Most of the recordings of The Joint were long presumed lost, this release has been taken from a ¼ inch demo tape, it has been degenerated over time and the sound quality suffers in some places as a consequence, but to bring this great lost band to light again -after almost 40 years- feel sure is worth it.

1. Freak St (Williams, Moorse) - 5:10
2. Dinosaur (Llewelyn, Moorse) - 2:55
3. Runman Gunman (Williams, Moorse) - 3:53
4. Laura's (Llewelyn) - 3:24
5. On The Other Side (Davies, Moorse) - 4:24
6. Chariot Of Mercury (Andrews) - 3:58
7. No Sweat (Llewelyn) - 2:55
8. Cheap Freedom Joy (Llewelyn, Moorse) - 2:28
9. Turnstile (Llewelyn) - 8:07
10.Joint Melody (The Joint) - 1:51

The Joint
*John Andy Andrews - Lead Vocals
*Trevor Willians - Guitar, Vocals
*Rick Davies - Keyboard, Vocals
*Keith Bailey - Drums
*Martin Vinson/Steve Brass - Bass
*Tony Catchpole - Guitar

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Warm Dust - And It Came to Pass (1970 uk, superb heavy progressive jazz rock)

Warm Dust was one of those obscure progressive rock bands that slipped through the cracks, but released three albums. This was an early band featuring Paul Carrack before he earned his fame with Ace ("How Long"), Sqeeze ("Tempted"), and of course Mike & the Mechanics, not to mention the solo albums he did in the '80s. Now I understand the name Paul Carrack might make many of you run like hell, but what he's done in Warm Dust is nothing like those groups I mentioned.

In 1970, they released their debut album And It Came to Pass, and like Chicago when they were still Chicago Transit Authority or the Mothers of Invention's Freak Out, is one of the rare examples of a double album debut. Aside from Paul Carrack, the group also featured vocalist/guitarist Dransfield "Les" Walker, John Surgey on wind instruments (flute, sax, oboe, clarinet), Alan Salomen on additional wind instruments, Terry "Tex" Comer on bass and guitars, and Dave Pepper on drums and percussion.

Frequently this band was described as Chicago meets Caravan, but they really weren't a brass rock band like Chicago, Blood, Sweat & Tears, and such British counterparts as The Greatest Show on Earth or IF, but musically they could also bring to mind such groups. For one thing, Warm Dust wasn't really a horn rock band, but sax and flute, on top of Paul Carrack's Hammond organ was what made up this band's sound. If anything, they remind me a bit of Web/Samurai (Dave Lawson's bands prior to Greenslade that had a sound dominated by wind instruments).

Cuts like "Turbulance", "Achromasia" and "Circus" are full of pleasant use of sax, flute, and organ, often in a jazzy and bluesy manner, with some psychedelic overtones. "Keep on Truckin'" really is out of place on this album, a more boogie-oriented number, but the album goes back to familiar territory with the epic title track, which is in the vein of the first three cuts. It's my opinion the second disc (the last five cuts) is even better.

"Blues For Pete" is the perfect example of the band exploring the blues in a rather interesting way, while "Washing My Eyes" for some reason reminds me a bit of what the German group Birth Control did on "This Song is Just For You" off their 1975 album Plastic People, especially the organ work, although it's a wonderful, extended piece. They also do a cover of the much covered Richie Havens song "Indian Rope Man" (that Julie Driscoll with Brian Auger & The Trinity and the German group Frumpy had also done) and did it in style with funky organ work and great use of wind instruments.

Given what Paul Carrack had later involved himself musically, he finds Warm Dust an embarrassment from his youth (he was just 18 when they recorded And It Came to Pass), and strongly encourages everyone to avoid Warm Dust like a plague. I'm sorry I can't agree with him on this opinion, this is perfectly good progressive rock, it's his only real foray into this kind of music (Mike & the Mechanics hardly counts despite the Genesis connection, they were simply a pop group, much like Genesis was at that point).

The great thing about listening to a Warm Dust album is you get completely no reminders of "How Long", "All I Need is a Miracle" or "The Living Years" whatsoever, which is a good thing. The reason Warm Dust didn't get much notice was it was released on a small label called Trend, meaning they probably didn't have the means to promote the band properly (even those little known British horn bands like IF and The Greatest Show on Earth had the benefit of being on major labels like Island and Harvest). Even if Paul Carrack gets you running, but you enjoy groups like Web/Samurai, IF, The Greatest Show On Earth, and the likes, you really can't go wrong here!
by Ben Miler

1. Turbulance - 11:00
2. Achromasia - 7:13
3. Circus - 5:35
4. Keep On Trucking - 4:27
5. And It Came To Pass - 10:24
6. Loosing Touch - 7:44
7. Blues For Pete - 7:18
8. Man Without A Straw - 4:26
9. Wash My Eyes - 14:05
10.Indian Rope Man (Richie Havens) - 6:10
All songs written by Warm Dust except track #10.

Warm Dust
*Dransfield "Les" Walker - Lead Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica
*Paul Carrack - Organ, Piano, Guitar
*John Surgey – Tenor, Alto Saxophones, Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Vibraphone
*Alan Saloman - Baritone, Tenor, Alto Saxophones, Flute, Oboe, Piano
*Terry "Tex" Comer - Bass, Guitar, Recorder
*Dave Pepper - Drums, Percussion

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Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Holy Mackerel - Holy Mackerel (1968 us, exceptional psychedelic sunny folk, 2010 deluxe expanded edition)

If ever an album was lost in the shuffle, it was the 1968 debut LP by The Holy Mackerel. The LP, assigned as Reprise 6311, fell smack in between Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland (Reprise 6307) and Neil Young’s eponymous solo debut (Reprise 6317). But adventurous listeners would find themselves rewarded if they picked up the album by the oddly-named group, with its cover sleeve of five gents and a lady smiling for the camera under three-dimensional comic book-style lettering proclaiming them “The Holy Mackerel.” Produced by an emerging Richard Perry, The Holy Mackerel might as well have been called Something for Everyone.

Over the course of 12 tracks, the group traversed psychedelia, country rock and best of all, sunshine pop with the terrifically infectious “Bitter Honey,” co-written by Paul and Roger Nichols. Of course, the Nichols/Williams team would go on to become a Los Angeles-based hitmaking factory, turning out some of the most-loved songs of all time: “We’ve Only Just Begun,” “Rainy Days and Mondays,” “I Won’t Last a Day Without You.” They also wrote some tunes which are not-so-well-known but no less wonderful: “The Drifter,” “Someday Man,” “Trust.” Cherry Red and producer Steve Stanley on September 27 will give The Holy Mackerel the deluxe Now Sounds treatment with an expanded reissue, appending a whopping 10 bonus tracks to the original 12-track LP, including 9 songs new to CD and 5 previously unissued in any form. Click on the jump for more background on The Holy Mackerel, one of this author’s favorite lost LPs of the era, and the full track listing for the Now Sounds reissue with pre-order link!

The Holy Mackerel originally consisted of Paul Williams, brother Mentor Williams (who would go on to write Dobie Gray’s much-covered smash “Drift Away”), Bob Harvey (late of Jefferson Airplane), guitarist George Hiller, flautist/vocalist Cynthia Fitzpatrick and Don Murray, formerly of the Turtles. Perhaps not boding well for the album, the lineup changed before the LP was ever released. Harvey was replaced by a name soon to be familiar to Elvis Presley’s fans, bassist Jerry Scheff; Don Murray was replaced by Michael Cannon. In the liner notes to Collector’s Choice’s 2005 CD reissue (CCM-543-2), Steve Stanley indicates that Buffalo Springfield’s Dewey Martin also contributed drums to the Mackerel’s LP; the Springfield influence was clear on country-flecked tracks like “The Somewhere In Arizona at 4:30 A.M. Restaurant Song (And Now I Am Alone).” The album’s eclectic nature may have hurt its initial reception, but it’s filled with the sounds of young artists at their hungriest and most imaginative.

Despite the album’s commercial failure and the band’s dissolution, its reputation remained strong over the years. Lead singer and songwriter Paul Williams went on to create his underrated solo debut Someday Man, wholly written by the Nichols/Williams team and produced by Nichols, and then to even greater fame. Andrew Sandoval revisited two of the LP’s tracks, “Scorpio Red” and “Wildflowers,” for Come to the Sunshine: Soft Pop Nuggets from the WEA Vaults (Rhino Handmade RHM2 7818) and Hallucinations: Psychedelic Pop Nuggets from the WEA Vaults (Rhino Handmade RHM2 7821), respectively. Steve Stanley has more than done his part in keeping the Williams/Nichols partnership in the spotlight, spearheading Collector’s Choice’s reissues of The Holy Mackerel and Someday Man, and via Rev-Ola and Now Sounds, reissuing the complete output of Roger Nichols and the Small Circle of Friends as well. (If you’re still reading this far and don’t have both Roger Nichols albums, along with Someday Man, stop now and order immediately! You won’t regret it.)

Now Sounds’ edition boasts non-LP single tracks “Love for Everyone” and “To Put Up With You,” one of the most delicious put-down songs ever, with Williams’ pointed lyrics directed at a heartbreaking if attractive lady: “Yes, I’d like to hang around/But I’ll have to let you down/I just haven’t got what it takes/To put up with you…” set to a breezy Nichols melody. “Scorpio Red” and “The Lady is Waiting” are heard in their mono 45 versions, joined by session outtakes and demos, including a demo of “Bitter Honey,” memorably covered by Jackie DeShannon on her Laurel Canyon LP.
by Joe Marchese

1. The Secret of Pleasure (Michaels, Williams) - 3:35
2. Scorpio Red - 3:15
3. The Lady is Waiting - 2:09
4. Wildflowers (Harvey) - 4:00
5. The Somewhere In Arizona At 4:30a.M. Restaurant Song (and Now I Am Alone) - 2:23
6. Prinderella (Perry, Rubini) - 2:44
7. Bitter Honey (Nichols, Williams) - 2:24
8. Nothin' Short of Misery - 2:32
9. The Golden Ghost of Love - 2:41
10.The Wild Side of Life (Carter, Warren) - 2:53
11.10,000 Men - 3:42
12.1984 - 4:28
13.Love For Everyone - 3:12
14.To Put Up With You (Nichols, Williams) - 3:27
15.Bitter Honey (Nichols, Williams) - 2:20
16.Scorpio Red - 3:10
17.The Lady is Waiting - 2:09
18.And Now I Am Alone - 6:01
19.Love For Everyone - 8:48
20.Bitter Honey (Nichols, Williams) - 2:25
21.On the Way - 2:35
22.Listen To the Voice - 2:14
All songs by Paul Williams unless otherwise stated.
Tracks 1-12 from Reprise LP 6311, 1968
Tracks 13-14 from Reprise single 0681, 1968
Track 15 from Reprise single 0768, 1968
Tracks 16-17 from Reprise single 0797, 1968
Tracks 18-22 previously unreleased

*Paul Williams - Vocals
*Cynthia Fitzpatrick - Flute, Vocals
*Alvin Dinkin - Viola
*Jesse Ehrlich - Cello
*David Frisina - Violin
*Jim Gordon - Drums
*Allan Harshman - Viola
*Bob Harvey - Bass
*George Hiller - Banjo, Dobro, Guitar, Harmonica, Organ, Vocals
*Nathan Kaproff - Violin
*Raymond Kelley - Cello
*Raphael Kramer - Cello
*Steve Lefever - Bass
*Marvin Limonick - Violin
*Charles Loper - Trombone
*John Lowe - Flute
*Lewis McCreary - Trombone
*Oliver Mitchell - Trumpet
*Alexander Murray - Violin
*Don Murray - Drums
*Richard Nash - Trombone
*Erno Neufeld - Violin
*Roger Nichols - Piano
*Michael Rubini - Harpsichord
*Jerry Scheff - Bass
*Thomas Scott - Flute
*Frederick Seykora - Cello
*Clifford Shank - Flute
*Kenny Shroyer - Trombone
*Anthony Terran - Trumpet
*Dave Timberley - Project Assistant
*Ray Triscari - Trumpet
*Mentor Williams - Rhythm Guitar , Vocals
*John Audino - Trumpet
*Michael Barone - Trombone
*Larry Bunker - Tympani
*Michael Cannon - Drums, Percussion, Vocals
*Jules Chaikin - Trumpet
*William Collette - Flute
*Vincent DeRosa - French Horn

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Paul Butterfield's Better Days - Paul Butterfield's Better Days (1973 us, elegant blues rock)

Following the disbanding of the final Butterfield Blues Band lineup, Paul Butterfield relocated to the artist colony that had developed in the Catskill Mountains around Bearsville and Woodstock, NY. He began hanging out with members of the Band, Van Morrison, Jesse Winchester, and an ever-growing roster of high profile musicians who had also relocated there in recent years.

Butterfield assembled a new band, which featured some of the cream of that crop of veteran musicians. The new group, christened Better Days, had an extraordinary frontline consisting of Butterfield on harp and vocals, former Jim Kweskin Jug Band founding member Geoff Muldaur on keyboards, guitar, and vocals, Ronnie Barron on piano and vocals, as well as legendary studio vet, Amos Garrett, on lead guitar. The rhythm section boasted former Buddy Miles Express and Taj Mahal bassist Billy Rich and former Holy Moses drummer, Christopher Parker, who would eventually work with a long list of legends including Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan and Steely Dan.

Better Days released two excellent studio albums on the Bearsville label and this concert features much of the material from their debut album, when the band was still relatively new and full of enthusiasm for playing together. Butterfield, Muldaur, and Barron were all strong lead vocalists and Garrett was probably the best guitarist to work with Butterfield since Michael Bloomfield. Sadly overlooked at the time, this group was just as intriguing as Butterfield's former band and the music they created was as good, if not better, than much of what directly proceeded it within Butterfield's catalogue.

"We're the only band around that's playing rooted American music," Better Days vocalist and former folkie Geoff Muldaur told an interviewer when this album was first released in 1973, and with perhaps just a handful of exceptions he was right. The band's mix of various styles of blues, from rural (Robert Johnson), to cosmopolitan (Percy Mayfield), along with hints of New Orleans R&B, boogie woogie, and early rock and country, was tremendously out of step with the pop trends of its time.

These days, of course, there are many bands doing more or less the same thing (although rarely as well), but the fact that these guys couldn't have cared less about appearing trendy is one of the reasons why Better Days sounds timeless. Another reason, of course, is world class musicianship; Muldaur, Paul Butterfield, and stupendously stylish guitarist Amos Garrett in particular come across as both relaxed and passionate. Despite their essentially formalistic approach to music making, they never sound academic or sterile. Better Days is one of the great lost albums of the '70s.

1. New Walkin' Blues (Johnson) - 4:54
2. Please Send Me Someone to Love (Mayfield) - 5:09
3. Broke My Baby's Heart (Barron) - 5:09
4. Done a Lot of Wrong Things (Charles) - 3:52
5. Baby Please Don't Go (Williams) - 3:28
6. Buried Alive in the Blues (Gravenites) - 3:44
7. Rule the Road (Von Schmidt) - 4:13
8. Nobody's Fault But Mine (Simone) - 3:37
9. Highway 28 (Hicks) - 3:10

*Ronnie Barron - Keyboards, Organ, Electric Piano, Vocals
*Gary Brocks - Trombone
*Sam Burtis - Trombone
*Paul Butterfield - Harmonica, Harp, Electric Piano, Producer, Vocals,
*Bobby Charles - Vocals
*Brother Gene Dinwiddie - Tenor Saxophone
*Peter Ecklund - Trumpet
*Amos Garrett - Bass, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
*Howard Johnson - Horn, Baritone Sax
*Geoff Muldaur - Guitar, Piano, Slide, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
*Maria Muldaur - Fiddle, Vocals
*Chris Parker - Drums
*J.D. Parran - Tenor Saxophone
*Billy Rich - Bass
*David Sanborn - Alto Saxophone
*Stan Shafran - Trumpet
*Dennis Whitted - Drums, Vocals

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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Paul Butterfield's Better Days - It All Comes Back (1973 us, fabulous blues rock, japan extra track edition)

After 1970's Live and the following year's studio effort Sometimes I Just Feel Like Smilin', Butterfield broke up his band and parted ways with Elektra. Tired of all the touring and personnel turnover, he retreated to the communal atmosphere of Woodstock, still a musicians' haven in the early '70s, and in 1971 formed a new group eventually dubbed Better Days. Guitarist Amos Garrett and drummer Chris Parker were the first to join, and with folk duo Geoff and Maria Muldaur in tow, the band was initially fleshed out by organist Merl Saunders and bassist John Kahn, both from San Francisco.

Sans Geoff Muldaur, this aggregation worked on the soundtrack of the film Steelyard Blues, but Saunders and Kahn soon returned to the Bay Area, and were replaced by New Orleans pianist Ronnie Barron and Taj Mahal bassist Billy Rich. This lineup -- with Geoff Muldaur back, plus contributions from singer/songwriter Bobby Charles -- released the group's first album, Better Days, in 1972 on Butterfield manager Albert Grossman's new Bearsville label. While it didn't quite match up to Butterfield's earliest efforts, it did return him to critical favor.

A follow-up, It All Comes Back, was released in 1973 to positive response Paul Butterfield's post-Blues Band outfit's second album is a bit more laid back than its predecessor, but it definitely has its moments, and as before the musicianship is stellar. The opening "Too Many Drivers," for example, is a churning Chicago blues, with Butterfield's horn impressions figuring as intensely as ever, that would have fit in perfectly with anything on his old band's debut.

Geoff Muldaur turns in a haunting rendition of a delicate Rick Danko-penned R&B ballad "Small Town Talk," while "Take Your Pleasure Where You Find It," co-written and co-sung by Butterfield and R&B legend Bobby Charles, is a clavinet-driven funk workout whose instrumental sections work up a real Little Feat-style froth.
by Steve Huey

1. Too Many Drivers (Andrew Hogg) - 3:18
2. It's Getting Harder To Survive (Ronnie Barron) - 3:51
3. If You Live (Mose Allison) - 3:27
4. Win Or Lose (Bobby Charles, Paul Butterfield) - 4:34
5. Small Town Talk (Bobby Charles, Rick Danko) - 5:33
6. Take Your Pleasure Where You Find It (Bobby Charles, Paul Butterfield) - 3:42
7. Poor Boy (Traditional Arranged by Geoff Muldaur) - 4:17
8. Louisiana Flood (Ronnie Barron, Mac Rebennack) - 3:35
9. It All Comes Back (Bobby Charles) - 6:10
10.Small Town Talk (Live) (Bobby Charles, Rick Danko) - 5:21

Paul Butterfield's Better Days
*Paul Butterfield - Vocals, Harmonica, Electric Piano
*Geoff Muldaur - Vocals, Slide Guitar
*Ronnie Barron - Vocals, Piano, Organ, Clavinet
*Christopher Parker - Drums
*Billy Rich - Bass
*Amos Garrett - Electric Guitar
Additional Musicians
*Bobby Charles - Vocals
*Maria Muldaur - Vocals
*Bobby Hall - Congas
*Howard Johnson - Horns

More from Paul Butterfield:
1970 The Butterfield Blues Band - Live

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Madura - Madura II (1973 us, splendid progressive jazz rock, 2007 remaster)

Madura was a 1970s rock/fusion band from Chicago, United States. After the break up of Bangor Flying Circus (1969), Alan DeCarlo and Hawk Wolinski formed Madura. Only one personal change was made: drummer Michael Tegza was replaced with one of the best renowned drummers in the world: Ross Salomone.

David "Hawk" Wolinski, previous Shadows of Knight member, Alan DeCarlo and Ross Salomone recorded two albums produced by the Chicago producer James William Guercio. Hawk Wolinski later became a member of Rufus and Chaka Khan, and a successful producer and songwriter. Alan DeCarlo and Ross Salomone both appeared on Chicago keyboard player Robert Lamm's 1975 solo album "Skinny Boy,".

Madura can be seen and heard live on a short concert scene in J.W. Guercio's movie Electra Glide in Blue (1973) playing a part of "Free From the Devil". This is also included on the soundtrack from the movie. David Wolinski also appears as an actor in the movie, playing the part of "David, the VW bus driver."

The band's name "Madura" was inspired by the Meenakshi temple in Madurai. Their second album (simply named II), recorded in 1972 and released early 1973 before the band split and each one of the members took their own road.

1. Livin' in America (Madura, J.W. Guercio, T. Kath) - 5:04
2. Doctor Honornis Causa (Joseph Zauinul) - 8:25
3. I'm in the Mood for Love (Jimmy Mc Hugh, Dorothy Fields) - 1:39
4. If You Got the Dime (David Wolinski) - 4:10
5. First Time (David Wolinski) - 2:46
6. My Favorite Things (Richard Rogers, Oscar Hammerstein) - 2:26
7. Windy One (David Wolinski) - 3:45
8. Stagger Lee (H. Logan, L. Price) - 3:43
9. Save the Miracle (David Wolinski) - 4:24

*David "Hawk" Wolinski - Keyboards, Vocals
*Alan DeCarlo - Guitar, Vocals
*Ross Salomone - Drums, Vocals
Guest Musicians
*Terry Kath - Bass
*Robert Lamm - Piano
*Lee Loughane - Trumpet
*James Pankow - Trombone
*Walter Parazaider - Saxophone
*Wayne Shorter - Sax (Tenor)
*Joe Zawinul - Keyboards

1971  Madura
Related Act
1966  The Shadows Of Knight - Gloria
1965-70  Shadows Of Knight - Dark Sides
1968-69  The Shadows Of Knight - Shake! (2009 remaster)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Pesky Gee - Exclamation Mark (1969 uk, elegant psych jazzy brass rock, japan issue)

Now a mere footnote in '60s rock history, Leicester, England's Pesky Gee! are perhaps remembered more for the band that they became -- notorious Satan-worshipers Black Widow -- than for their actual music. Taking their name from a song in another local group's repertoire, Pesky Gee! were originally formed as a soul band before constant gigging slowly pushed them toward a more experimental and progressive style of rock & roll.

By 1968, the band consisted of Kay Garrett - lead vocals, Kip Trevor - vocals, guitar, harmonica, Chris Dredge - guitar, Clive Jones - saxophone, flute, Alan Hornsby - brass, Bob Bond - bass, and Clive Box drums, and had signed a deal with Pye Records. A cover of Vanilla Fudge's "Where Is My Mind" was chosen as their first single in March 1969, but when it failed to chart, both Dredge and Hornsby flew the coop, being replaced by guitarist Jim Gannon keyboardist Jess "Zoot" Taylor.

Wasting little time, this "new and improved" lineup managed to record Pesky Gee!'s cleverly titled first album, Exclamation Mark, in a single, one-night, four-hour session. Issued in June of the same year, the record sadly fared no better than their single, and the impatient Pye soon showed them the door.

Feeling that this particular incarnation had run its course, and simultaneously observing the general populace's growing fascination with forbidden topics like black magic and the occult, Pesky Gee! decided to re-invent themselves as a theatrically Satanic outfit by assuming the fittingly conspicuous name of Black Widow.
by Eduardo Rivadavia

1. Another Country (R. Polte) - 7:37
2. Pigs Foots (Ben Dixon) - 4:39
3. Season of the Witch (D. Leitch) - 8:22
4. A Place of Heartbreak (M. Rabbitt) - 3:00
5. Where is My Mind (M. Stein) - 3:00
6. Piece of My Heart (J. Ragavoy, B. Burns) - 2:50
7. Dharma For One (Anderson Bunker) - 4:02
8. Peace of Mind (John Whitney, Roger Chapman) - 2:19
9. Born To Be Wild (M. Bonfire) - 4:20

Pesky Gee
*Jim Gannon - Guitar
*Jess Taylor - Organ
*Kay Garret - Lead Vocals
*Clive Jones - Saxophone
*Bob Bond - Bass
*Clive Box - Drums
*Kip Trevor - Vocals

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Snakegrinder - And The Shredded Filedmice (1976 us, stunning guitar driving rural rock with progressive shades)

For two weeks before their first gig as The Larry Adams Band at the Rockford Park music festival on August 15th, 1970, the hastily assembled group of Larry, Steve Roberts, George Christie, John DiGiovanni, and Dave Bennett, labored to electrify 5 or 6 folky-type tunes in order to present them to an audience that was pretty much beyond the folk movement of the 60’s. After all, it was now the 70’s, exactly one year beyond Woodstock!

Larry, Steve, George, and John had recently emigrated from a failed musical adventure known as “George’s Lunch” (“Take us out or eat us here!”). Dave was found at Eat At Joes, a high school coffee house in a Newark church basement, where Larry and Steve had attempted a Hot Tuna-type set. The band he was in, “Pump Productions", had recently dissolved, as well.

The debut at Rockford Park was unspectacularly OK. However, after the band dragged their gear from the stage, stowed it in their vehicles and went back to being members of the audience, one of the cars was broken into and all of George Christie’s stuff was stolen. As everyone was too poor to own spare equipment, George was now, by default, out of the band. The performance that really got the audience truckin’ down the aisles that day, “Singin’ doo-dah, doo-dah, doo-dah”, came from Primeval Slime.

Over the next 5 years, the nucleus of four, Larry, Steve, John, and Dave, saw various others come and go. Among them were Eddie Day and Tommy Eppes, from Primeval Slime. Tommy learned to play the pedal-steel, left, and came back. Poor Eddie was run over by a train

One of the band’s biggest fans, George Wolkind, whom had never sung in performance, anywhere, was visited by the ghost of Eddie Day a few days after the tragedy and told George that he would take his place as lead singer of the band, in a year. As prophesied, a year after Eddie’s untimely end, with no knowledge of the disembodied communication, Steve and Dave asked Mr. Wolkind to join the band as lead singer. (Now, THAT was weird!)

So by 1973, the 6 members who comprised the band most folks knew just as “Snakegrinder”, finally got together. They were joined by Jon McDowell, Keeper of the Sound, and Nick Norris, business agent. Musically, the band played a mix of covers – mainly influenced by the west coast psychedelic movement, with a little South-southwest flavor - and some very idiosyncratic originals. (Many of which can be heard on the two CD set: “…and the Shredded Fieldmice”, available practically nowhere!) The band’s strength was their ability to improvise and jam. Coupled with their total lack of professional appearance, and their socio-political musical anarchism, they seemed to catch on with the burgeoning “alternative” community growing wild in the 70’s. The band became a staple at area coffee houses, festivals, and underground shows.

They were immensely popular with local Grateful Deadheads, usually drawing large crowds to the small venues they played. Bar owners weren’t all that enamored of the band, however, as the crowds never seemed to drink much in spite of their jubilant dancing and frequent trips to the parking lot. Snakegrinder was also a “musician’s band”. Many local area artists have testified to being influenced by the band, early on in their careers. (“Yes, your honor, it was all their fault.”) To their credit, there was never a paternity suit brought against any band member!

Unfortunately, the alternative community couldn’t support the band monetarily, and by August of 1975, Larry was ready for a new life. He left the area and started a real career. With one of the parts missing, the band, depending entirely on the inter-personal group dynamic of the members as the engine driving the music, could not go on.

In epilogue, the band announced the release of an album, recorded at Dana Smith's Quaudio Studio in Wilmington, Delaware in 1975 and 1976, of all original tunes, at the second of their annual Christmas reunions in 1976, at the Stone Balloon. They got back together twice after that, for public performances – the last was in 1988. Let it be noted, that the original vinyl LP has become a collector’s item. Mr. Alligator (their media producer) having sold an unopened copy and a used copy, several years ago to a dealer in Connecticut for $150 and $50, respectively. A few months ago, another copy of the LP sold on eBay for $250 to a gentleman in Japan.

Larry became Dr. Adams and is living in Bristol, England, supervising research data for the city’s schools. Musically, he's playing fiddle and involved in choral singing. Tommy Wayne (Eppes) has maintained a thriving career as a pedal-steel guitarist, centered in Las Vegas. John DiGiovanni is one the best known and sought-after local drummers and drum teachers, as well as a master electrician, gigging regularly with several bands, including The John DiGiovanni Quartet and Garry Cogdell and the Complainers.

George Wolkind is in Colorado communing with the spirit world. Dave Bennett went off to join a Mexican circus, playing tuba, after which he founded The Voltags in 1979. Currently, he is on a world tour of self-discovery and is residing in the Phillipines.

Steve Roberts plays with a 4 piece improv group, Accidents Will Happen, as well as collaborating with the legendary Hangnail Phillips, (we won't mention his association with the infamous ninja beatnik poet and musipeutician, Dick Uranus.) He is also vice-president of Inconsequential Films.

Jon McDowell, George Christie, and Steve all work together in the I.T. department of a large, local health care organization, disciplining computers.  Nick Norris successfully carried on in his management career and is the Operations Manager for CenterStaging Musical Productions' Pennsylvania facility. - "where artists go to work... before you see them play".

To quote the liner notes from their “posthumous” album – “We really weren’t sure where we were coming from and we were damn sure we didn’t know where we were going... but we needed the exercise so we bought a lot of heavy equipment and hauled it around. We got high, we got down, we played some music, we loved it, we hated it, we lost money, we gained friends, and we got older.”

1. Love Junkie (Dave Bennett) - 6:44
2. Freedonian Hat Dance (Jesus Was a Plumber) (Adams, Snakegrinder) - 7:18
3. On the Road (And off Again) (Adams, Roberts, Bennett) - 5:15
4. Dogland (Fido Dustyaoffsky) - 1:07
5. Better Late Than Frozen (Steve L. Roberts) - 4:36
6. Nothing's Very Easy When Your Baby's in the Lake (Adams, Snakegrinder) - 13:59
7. Moon Over the Delaware (Gregor Alligator, Snakegrinder) - 1:41

*Dave Bennett - Keyboards, Mouth
*Larry Adams - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Tommy Eppes - Rhythm Guitar, Pedal Steel, Percussion
*Jonathan McDowell - Sound System, Location Recording
*Steve L. Roberts - Bass, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
*John DiGiovanni - Drums, Percussion
*George Wolkind - Vocals

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Liverpool Five - Arrive / Out of Sight (1964-67 uk, superb beat garage psych)

The Liverpool Five is one 1960s band that is ripe for rediscovery. The fact that they've slipped through a few cracks may have to do with their odd history -- after starting out in England, the quintet spent most of a year in Germany and touring the Far East and effectively became an American group just as their recording history began in a serious way.

Formed in Liverpool, England, in 1963, the original Liverpool Five lineup was Steve Laine on vocals, Ken Cox on guitar, Ron Henley on keyboards, Dave Burgess on bass, and Jimmy May on drums and vocals. They cut one single of "Lum D' Lum D' High" b/w "Good Golly Miss Molly" for the Pye Records budget Piccadilly label that was released in England, but their main base of activity in 1964 and 1965 appears to have been Germany and Asia, where their German-based manager kept them touring.

They managed to release a single of their own on German CBS in 1964 under the name of the 5 Liverpools, but otherwise were largely invisible as a recording act. After an extended tour of Asia, the group made their way to Los Angeles in 1965 and eventually ended up in Spokane, WA. Ironically, it was on the far coast of the United States, far from their home, that they were finally signed to a major label in 1965 and got a contract with RCA-Victor Records.

The Liverpool Five released a half dozen singles over the next two years and a pair of LPs, all of which displayed an extraordinary degree of musical dexterity -- they could sound as American as the Remains or the Standells in their approach to playing, a solid garage punk sound with some unusual melodic touches and then turn around and cut cockney novelties like "What a Crazy World (We're Living In)" or romantic rock ballads like their version of Curtis Mayfield's "That's What Love Will Do," where they sound like the Roulettes, and follow that with a shouter like "Just a Little Bit." Dave Burgess exited the group to get married in 1967 and was replaced by future Kingsmen member Freddie Dennis; Ron Henley left and was replaced first by Mark Gage and then by Gary Milkie, but the group soldiered on, scarcely skipping a beat.

The band never charted nationally, but left behind some superb white soul sides that managed to embrace both American punk and British beat elements, before they finally called it a day in 1970. The Liverpool Five Arrive is one of the best garage-punk albums of 1966, with a startlingly honest and vivid soulful edge (highlighted by a beautiful handful of Curtis Mayfield covers) amid the fuzz-tone guitars and pounding, roaring rhythm section. Its follow-up, Out of Sight, is even better, with harder playing and better singing, laced with some unexpected lyricism.
by Bruce Eder

1.She is Mine (Burgess, Cox, Henley, Laine, May) - 2:21
2. Sister Love (C. Mayfield) - 2:39
3. I am Not Your Stepping Stone (T. Boyce, B. Heart) - 2:33
4. A Shot of Rhythm and Blues (T. Thompson) - 2:03
5. Let the Sunshine In (Barberis, Randazzo, Weinstein) - 3:26
6.What a Crazy World (We are Living In) (A. Klein) - 2:14
7. That is What Love Will do (To You) (C. Mayfield) - 2:06
8. Just a Little bit (D. Gordon) - 2:11
9. Hey Little Girl (C. Mayfield) - 2:14
10. I Just Cant Believe It (Barry, DeVorzon, B. Chandler) - 2:09
11. Sticks and Stones (T. Tuner) - 2:10
12. Heart (Clark, Aber, Hatch) - 3:27
13. Any Way That You Want Me (Chip Taylor) - 2:35
14. My Generation (P. Townshend) - 2:55
15. Piccadilly Line (Laine Henley, Cox, McCumiskey, May) - 2:47
16. I Can Only Give You Everything (T. Scott., V. Morrison, P. Coulter) - 2:36
17. Baby, Out of Sight (Laine Henley, Cox, McCumiskey, May) - 2:10
18. Gotta Get a Move On (J.S. Jones) - 2:30
19. She is (Got Plenty of Love) (Stephen Jones) - 2:34
20. Do You Believe (Laine Henley, Cox, McCuxniskey, May) - 3:17
21. The Snake (Oscar Brown Jr) - 2:38
22. I Am Your Hoochie Coochie Man (W. Dixon) - 5:05
23. Get Away (M. Porig, C. Porig) - 2:05
24. Everything is Allright (Stavley, Konrad) - 2:06
25. That is What I Want (Carter, Lewis) - 2:11
26. New Directions (Mann, Muggs) - 2:41

Liverpool Five
*Steve Laine - Vocals
*Ken Cox - Guitar
*Jimmy May - Drums
*Ron Henley - Keyboards
*Dave Burgess - Bass
*Freddy Dennis - Bass

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Chicago - Live In Toronto (1969 us, wonderful brass jazz rock with psychedelic traces)

Although it may be difficult to believe now, in the late Sixties and early Seventies Chicago were something of a phenomenon. Their debut LP. b'Chicago Transit Authority', was certified platinum in the US, something no other CBS artist had ever achieved, even though the label boasted such names as Bob Dylan and Simon & Garfunkel. Their second, simply titled 'Chicago', repeated the commercial success of their first, and singles from both sold strongly either side of the Atlantic.

As time passed, their music mellowed and interest waned, the critical acclaim turned to critical reviews, and although Chicago continued to record right through the Seventies and Eighties, they have never recaptured the excitement generated by those early releases. All but one of the band's original line-up hailed from the city which gave them their name. Their early days were spent largely unnoticed in the dingy bars and clubs of the Midwest, but a move to the West coast in 1968 proved crucial to their later success.

Here they linked up with James William Guercio, who had established his credentials through production work with Blood, Sweat and Tears. Guercio not only secured the band dates at prestigious West coast venues, he also negotiated their recording contract with CBS. The volatile political scene of the late Sixties provided the other key element of their success. During 1968, protests at America's involvement in Vietnam were at their height, and racial tension was at fever pitch.

Demonstrations outside the Democratic Convention in Chicago turned into full scale riots when police used tear-gas and clubs to disperse the crowds. Recordings of protesters were incorporated into one of the numbers on Chicago's debut LP. and this move, coupled with lyrics informed by the revolutionary rhetoric of the times, completed their identification with both their home town and the counter-culture. Their music had an exciting, innovative feel, and was probably the most successful attempt ever to marry the diverse elements of jazz, rock and white soul.

Its precise brass arrangements blended with lengthy jazz guitar solos appealed to a late Sixties audience constantly searching for a more sophisticated sound. This recording of an early live performance at one of the famed Toronto Rock Festivals provides evidence of the band's ability and power.

On stage, although they obviously sought to reproduce the often complex arrangements arrived at the studio, they were never afraid to cut loose and explore the possibilities of the'jazzier side of their music. Faithful renditions of their hit singles '25 Or 6 To 4', 'Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? and the Steve Winwood penned 'I'm A Man' contrast with the looser improvisational approach employed on 'Liberation', the number which closes the set.

The shifting textures of this lengthy instrumental are epitomised by Terry Kath's exhilarating guitar - a key component of Chicago's characteristic sound and one sadly lost forever with his death in a firearms accident in 1978. Anyone with a taste for Chicago's early work will welcome this opportunity to hear the band run through these blistering versions of their best-loved numbers. Their unqiue blend of widely differing musical styles set apart from almost everyone around them - in their own distinctive way, Chicago were themselves a minor revolution.
by Alan Kinsman

1. Beginnings - 6.20
2. South California Purples - 5.45
3. 25 Or 6 To 4 - 5.04
4. Does Anybody Know What Time It Is - 3.05
5. I'm A Man (Steve Winwood, James Miller) - 6.49
6. Questions 67 And 68 -
7. Liberation (James Pankow) - 16.09
All songs by Robert Lamm except where indicated.

*Peter Cetera - Bass, Vocals
*Terry Kath - Guitar, Vocals
*Robert Lamm - Keyboard, Vocals
*Lee Loughnane - Trumpet, Vocals
*James Pankow - Trombone
*Walter Parazaider - Woodwinds, Vocals
*Danny Seraphine - Drums

More Chicago
1969 Chicago Transit Authority (Japan SHM-CD)
1970 Chicago II 

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Ashton, Gardner And Dyke - The Worst Of (1970 uk, fantastic progressive groovy jazzy rock)

In 1970 Ashton was among the many musicians appearing on George Harrison's latest solo album, the triple-disc All Things Must Pass, contributing keyboards to "Isn't It a Pity." For whatever reason, he wasn't credited on the album, but Harrison repaid him generously, teaming up with Eric Clapton to join Ashton, Gardner & Dyke as they set to work on their sophomore album. Jim Price and Bobby Keys, fellow stars of the Delaney & Bonnie outing, were already aboard; under the not especially mysterious pseudonyms of George O'Hara Smith and Sir Cedric Clayton, Harrison and Clapton appear on the track "I'm Your Spiritual Breadman."

Originally scheduled to be the band's next single, the song was ultimately passed over in favor of "Resurrection Shuffle" ("Breadman" was relegated to the American B-side), a smart move that resulted in a worldwide hit. A gritty, horn-laden R&B shouter, "Resurrection Shuffle" went to number three in the U.K. in January 1971, followed by a Top 40 berth in the U.S., and even landed a punchy cover version by Tom Jones. An album, titled after the hit, followed and, though it climbed no higher than number 185, it remains a period favorite, both among students of early-'70s rock and with Harrison and Clapton fans. British pressings of the album, incidentally, were retitled The Worst of Ashton, Gardner & Dyke, a wryly self-effacing name that might explain its chart failure.

In the wake of the hit, the trio embarked on a period of solid gigging -- one excellent show from this period is captured on the posthumous Let It Roll Live album. Unfortunately, although "Resurrection Shuffle" raised the trio's profile immeasurably, it also crippled the group completely. Audiences wanted more of the same; the band wanted to push ahead. "The hit backfired on us," Ashton mourned years later. "We wanted to be an album band, but once you've got a big hit, you're in the pop league." It was early 1973 before the trio finally released a follow-up single, "Can You Get It," and few observers -- themselves included -- were surprised that it did little. A similar fate awaited the band's third album, What a Bloody Long Day It's Been, and by mid-1973 the band had broken up.

Ashton and Dyke immediately reconvened the Remo 4 for a one-off reunion, cutting a new album, Attention, for release in Germany. (A second reunion occurred in 1997.) Dyke then formed Badger with Yes founder Tony Kaye, cutting one album before recruiting both Gardner and another artist with strong Harrison connections, former Apple star Jackie Lomax. When Badger split, Dyke moved into session work with the likes of Chris Barber, Cafe Society, and Pat Travers, before moving to Germany, where he now lives. Lomax and Gardner remained together in a new group named after Badger's final album, White Lady. That project swiftly fizzled out, and Gardner relocated to the U.S., where his subsequent session credentials included the Dwight Twilley Band. Later, he opened the renowned Cat & Fiddle British-style pub in Hollywood and made only infrequent returns to music (including a late-'90s collaboration with Mitch Mitchell). Gardner died from cancer on October 26, 2001.

Ashton moved into session work, playing with Family, Jerry Lee Lewis, Third World War, Tucky Buzzard, Ian Dury, and Kenny Ball, among others, and becoming a crucial branch of the Deep Purple family tree. Ashton, too, was claimed by cancer, on May 28, 2001.
by Dave Thompson

1. Let It Roll
(Kim Gardner, Roy Dyke, Tony Ashton) - 4:23
2. I'm Your Spiritual Breadman - 3:13
3. Hymn To Everyone - 3:43
4. Mention My Name - 3:58
5. Don't Want No War No More - 3:07
6. Momma's Getting Married
(Kim Gardner, Roy Dyke, Tony Ashton) - 3:37
7. Paper Head, Paper Mind - 4:48
8. Oh Lord - 3:42
9. Sweet Patti O'Hara Smith - 2:56
10.Mister Freako - 4:17
All Songs written by Tony Ashton except where noted.

*Eric Clapton - Guitar
*George Harrison - Guitar
*Tony Ashton - Piano, Organ, Vocals
*Kim Gardner - Bass
*Roy Dyke - Drums
*Jim Price - Trumpet
*Bobby Keys - Sax

Other Ashton Gardner & Dyke releases
1971 Let It Rill (Live)

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Monday, February 20, 2012

Brandywine - Aged (1970 us, fine classic rock with Ed Stasium, 2005 reissue)

'Aged' is another one of those terrific late 60's albums that seemed to fall from the sky like colored rain back in the day and yet so few heard. The critics loved Brandywine - still do and these days their only album is rightly considered a cult classic. Formed by Albert Miller, a onetime member of The Critters; a smart New Jersey pop combo who scored two hits with 'Younger Girl' which was an even bigger single for The Lovin' Spoonful and The Beach Boys influenced 'Mr. Dieingly Sad'. With the end of The Critters, Miller moved on to form a band and secure a development deal with an MGM subsidiary as Men Working. At least one single followed as well as concert dates with The Cowsills, The Lemon Pipers and The Rascals but the relationship didn't last. With a name change to Brandywine, the group signed to Brunswick Records releasing just one album before breaking up in 1972.

I don't want to say something cringe worthy to the effect 'like a fine wine this album has 'aged' well' but hey, it really has. From the acoustic opener 'Stay Here' to the rocking 'Ridin' Through The Rain' which reminds me a lot of The Who by the way, this is one cool piece of plastic. I like the spacey flute on The Band styled 'Somebody', but it's the kick ass guitar work from Edward Stasium that separates Brandywine from the usual fuzzy, blues based guitar bands of the day. Yes, there is some of that Woodstock folksy hippie vibe that crept into so much music back then but these guys were no Creedence Clearwater Revival, owing much to the British which can be heard on The Kinks influenced 'Mr. Johnson' and again picking up on The Who sound with album closer 'True To You'. I've no doubt that if 'Aged' was released a couple years later, Brandywine would have shown the slew of Beatles and Badfinger copyists the door in no time.

Following the dissolution of Brandywine Albert Miller would go in to commercial and film work while Edward Stasium would become an in demand engineer/producer with his name appearing on several melodic rock albums from Ratt and Burning Rome to Morse Code, Sharp Edges and Face To Face as well as more popular titles from Mick Jagger and The Ramones. In case you were wondering there was a Spanish bootleg on CD released a few years back but nothing official. Be patient - something this good can't remain hidden for long!
by Eric "GloryDaze" 

1. Stay Here - 3:1
2. Ridin' Through The Rain - 3:54
3. Somebody - 4:52
4. Happiness Won't Buy A Bed (Ed Stasium, Leonard Schiavi) - 3:32
5. Look Around (Albert Miller, Ed Stasium, Ernest Miles) - 3:53
6. Searchin' (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) - 5:14
7. Mr. Johnson (Albert Miller, Ed Stasium, Ernest Miles) - 5:12
8. Humble John (Ed Stasium) - 4:18
9. True To Me - 5:32
All songs by Albert Miller except where noted

*Mike Caruso - Bass
*Chip Miles - Drums, Percussion
*Albert Miller - Keyboards, Vocals
*Ed Stasium - Guitar, Vocals
Additional Musicians
*Pasquale Salerne - Trumpet
*Billy Howell - Trombone

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Asterix - Asterix (1970 germany/uk, excellent heavy progressive rock)

Asterix was a direct predecessor of Lucifer's Friend; released one (eponymous) album in 1970. Technically, this was the first Lucifer's Friend album, only under a different name. Also, one single was released featuring a slightly altered line-up, without John's involvement.

Peter Hesslein began his musical career way back in 1963 with a band called the Giants. Peter Hecht and Dieter Horns were both members of a group known as the German Bonds, from 1965 onwards. Peter Hesslein joined the Bonds in 1968 which survived until 1970. At this point the various members took up the study of graphic design in an attempt to forge more sensible careers.

But the call of rock'n'roll was too strong and in late 1970, the ex-Bonds men, together with Joachim Reitenbach , decided to record a new album. They needed a lead singer and eventually found John Lawton who had been with the group Stonewall. The new band released their first album 'Asterix' in 1970 under the same name before they change to Lucifer's Friend.
by Christer Andersson

1. Everybody - 3:04
2. If I Could Fly - 3:02
3. Look Out - 3:09
4. Gone from My Life - 3:30
5. Broken Home - 4:26
6. Time Again - 3:08
7. Jump into My Action - 3:28
8. Open Up Your Mind - 3:16
9. Corner Street Girl - 4:06
10.Change in You - 4:08
11.Morning at My Dawn - 6:54

*John Lawton - Vocals
*Peter Hecht - Keyboards
*Dieter Horns - Bass
*Peter Hesslein - Guitar
*Joachim Rietenbach - Drums

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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Black Oak Arkansas - The Complete Raunch 'N' Roll (1973 us, great southern rock, double disc live set)

It can't quite be said that 1973's Raunch 'N' Roll Live is the album that made Black Oak Arkansas -- it did not chart as highly as records that immediately followed it, nor did it have a hit; in fact, it was released a year before they had their first hit single in "Jim Dandy" -- but it is the definitive BOA album, the one that is widely regarded to capture the essence of the band.

That's because it did what all good live albums should do: it boiled the group's erratic studio albums down to the best songs, and then it presented the band in full flight. And Black Oak Arkansas was always a band known for its live shows, due as much to the antics of proto-David Lee Roth frontman Jim Dandy Mangrum as due to the group's dirty Southern boogie. It wasn't to everybody's taste -- some loved the sleaze the group spit out, some thought Jim Dandy was jive, some just wished they were as nasty as they wanted to be -- but Raunch 'N' Roll Live was the place to decide whether you liked the band or not.

The same could be said of Rhino Handmade's 2007 expanded double-disc reissue of the album, but this deluxe set, now titled The Complete Raunch 'N' Roll Live, ain't for neophytes, it's for those who have loved the album for decades and want to hear some more of where that came from. And that's what this set provides: it contains the entirety of the two gigs -- a show in Portland, OR, on December 1, 1972, and a show in Seattle the following night (oddly enough, both concerts were given at venues called the Paramount Theatre) -- that provided the raw material for the initial single LP, which is a whole lot of boogie.

This kind of sprawl takes away from one of the chief appeals of the original Raunch 'N' Roll Live -- namely, that it was a lean-and-mean, down-and-dirty LP. Now, it takes its time, with more booze and blooze and Jim Dandy patter, which may wind up having the effect of wearing out all but the most ardent fan. But for those fans, this is sure to be something close to a dream come true.
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Over Here
1. Gettin' Kinda Cocky - 4:04
2. Fever in My Mind - 4:04
3. Uncle Lijiah - 4:11
4. Keep the Faith - 3:58
5. Mutants of the Monster - 6:08
6. Hot Rod - 3:21
7. Lord Have Mercy on My Soul - 5:45
8. Full Moon Ride - 4:19
9. When Electricity Came to Arkansas - 5:28
10.Dixie (Traditional) - 4:00
11.Hot and Nasty - 4:34
12.Up - 15:27
13.Movin' - 5:35

Way Over Yonder
1. Gettin' Kinda Cocky - 3:55
2. Fever in My Mind - 4:04
3. Uncle Lijiah - 3:27
4. Gigolo - 3:49
5. Mutants of the Monster - 6:26
6. Hot Rod - 5:41
7. Movin' - 4:37
8. Full Moon Ride - 4:09
9. When Electricity Came to Arkansas - 8:34
10.Hot and Nasty - 4:27
11.Up - 12:23
All songs by Black Oak Arkansas except track (from Disc-1) #10.Dixie.

Black Oak Arkansas
*Tommy Aldridge - Drums
*Jim Dandy - Scrubboard, Vocals
*Pat Daugherty - Bass, Vocals
*Harvey Jett - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Rick Reynolds - 12 String Guitar, Vocals
*Stanley Knight - Lead Guitar, Vocals

1971 Black Oak Arkansas
1973 High On The Hog
1976 Balls Of Fire 

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Black Oak Arkansas - Balls Of Fire (1976 us, fine hard southern boogie rock)

Black Oak Arkansas won a loyal and dedicated following for their good time music during the early Seventies. Although they enjoyed some album success, the American southern boogie band built its reputation on hard gigging, and constant touring. They offered a cheerful alternative to progressive rock and their music was rooted in American blues and gospel with a hint of hillbilly.

Certainly they had a strong personality up front. Jim 'Dandy' Mangrtim, their long haired lead singer, who danced around in a white fringed buckskin jacket, scraping furiously on a washboard. He also had a throaty voice that sounded like it had been burned dry with jugs of corn whisky. Jim remained a figure head for the band throughout its long career, even though it went through quite a few personnel changes. The original line up included Stanley 'Goober' Knight (lead & steel guitar, organ, vocals), Rickie 'Ricochet* Reynolds (12 string rhythm guitar, vocals), Pat 'Dirty' Daugherty (bass guitar, vocals), Harvey 'Burley' Jett (lead guitar, banjo, piano, vocals), and Wayne 'Squeezebox' Evans (drums). Together with Jim Dandy, they were featured on the band's eponymously titled debut album, released on Atco in 1971.

This included such down home titles as 'Uncle Lijiah', The Hills Of Arkansas', and 'When Electricity Came To Arkansas'. In case you hadn't guessed, the band came from the small town of Black Oak, Arkansas, where Jim Dandy was born on March 30, 1948. The rest of the band were born in nearby towns like Manilan, Jonesboro and Little Rock. As they grew up together, they formed a local gang that shared both a house, and strong musical ambitions. They got together a band called Knowbody Else, went to Los Angeles and recorded an album for the Stax label in 1969.

In 1971 they changed their name to Black Oak Arkansas, and signed to Atco. The debut album did quite well on the U.S. charts and gained them some attention in Europe. They went on to record some ten albums between 1971 and 1976, with 'High On The Hog', (1973) proving one of their most successful. This included a Top 30 hit song 'Jim Dandy', although it was actually sung by girl vocalist Ruby Starr, and not Mr. Mangrum. By the time the band recorded its third album If An Angel Came To See You, Would You Make Her Feel At Home? drummer Wayne Evans had been replaced by Tommy Aldridge, from Jackson, Mississippi.

Aldridge would become a much respected heavy rock drummer, who worked with Pat Travers, Gary Moore and Ozzy Osbourne. Aldridge first met Ozzy when Black Oak Arkansas made their first U.K. tour supporting Black Sabbath, in 1974. There was more changes within the band when guitarist Harvey Jett quit in 1975, to be replaced by Jimmy Henderson also from Jackson, Mississippi, who had previously been with the band Bloodrock.

The same year the band switched from Atco to MCA to record 'Ain't Life Grand followed by 'X-Rated' (1975). “Balls Of Fire” came in 1976 and armed with their new guitarist they kept up the Black Oak
tradition of playtng rock 'n' roll with fire and exuberance. Most of the tunes on the album now re-issued j on this CD, are Black Oak originals, although they cover Bob Seger's 'Ramblln' Gamblin" and offer a spirited version of the classic 'Great Balls Of Fire'. Out on the road, Black Oak added by Starr to the line up together with Hot Buttered Soul, a four girl vocal group, which introduced a black gospel sound.

The band later signed to Capricorn Records and recorded two more albums “Race With The Devil” (1977) and “I'd Rather Be Sailing” (1978). Only Jim Dandy now remained from the original line up. Jim kept the Black Oak name alive with different versions of the band on the road during the 1980's and in 1984 recorded a solo album 'Randy As Hell'. Further record success eluded the singer but at least Jim Dandy and heavy friends had succeeded in putting the name of Black Oak on the Rock 'n' Roll map of the world.
by Chris Welch, London 1995

1. Ramblin' Gamblin' Man (Bob Seger) - 2:47
2. Fistful of Love - 3:19
3. Make That Scene - 2:17
4. I Can Feel Forever - 3:11
5. Rock 'N' Roll - 3:45
6. Great Balls of Fire (Otis Blackwell, Jack Hammer) - 2:26
7. Just to Fall in Love - 3:55
8. Leather Angel - 3:02
9. Storm of Passion - 4:36
10.All My Troubles - 3:55
All tracks written by Black Oak Arkansas except where noted.

Black Oak Arkansas
*Tommy Aldridge - Drums
*Jim "Dandy" Mangrum - Vocals
*Pat Daugherty - Bass
*James Henderson - Guitar
*Stan Knight - Guitar
*Ruby Starr - Vocals
*Marius Penczner - Keyboards

Black Oak Arkansas selected discography:
1971 Black Oak Arkansas
1973 High On The Hog

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Family - Music in a Doll's House/Family Entertainment (1967-69 uk, superb psychedelic jazzy experimental folk)

The non-LP single "Scene Through the Eye of a Lens" b/w "Gypsy Woman" not withstanding, Music in a Doll's House (1968) is the debut full-length release from the earliest incarnation of Family, featuring Roger Chapman (harmonica/tenor sax/vocals), Rick Grech (violin/ cello/bass guitar/vocals), Rob Townsend (percussion/drums), John "Charlie" Whitney (guitar/pedal steel guitar/keyboards), and Jim King (harmonica/keyboards/soprano sax/tenor sax/vocals).

Their highly original sound has often been compared to Traffic, which may be in part due to the production skills of Jimmy Miller and Dave Mason, the latter also contributing the organic and rootsy rocker "Never Like This." Additionally, neither band was overtly psychedelic or progressive, contrasting them from the other burgeoning combos such as Soft Machine, Pink Floyd, and Caravan. Family's deceptively involved arrangements are coupled with an equally unique blend of Chapman's commanding vocals driving through the jazz and folk-rooted tunes.

"The Chase" is a spirited opener that immediately establishes their unmistakable vibe, which is furthered on the sides "Old Songs for New Songs" and the aggressive rocker "Peace of Mind." The antithesis can be heard on the rural-flavored "Mellowing Grey" and "Winter," or perhaps the almost blatantly trippy "See Through Windows." In 1996, See for Miles issued Music in a Doll's House along with Family Entertainment (1969) on a double-disc anthology, including the previously mentioned pre-LP 7" "Scene Through the Eye of a Lens" b/w "Gypsy Woman," both of which have been released on compact disc for the first time here.

Family Entertainment followed on the heels of Family's Music in a Doll's House with the band's first incarnation. While not totally dismissing their psychedelic leanings, much of the material bears a stronger acoustic influence, in much the same manner as Fairport Convention and Traffic were also exploring. The jazzy sitar lead of "Face in the Cloud" and the even more prominent Eastern-flavored "Summer '67" somewhat date the affair, and are contrasted by the beautifully noir and trippy "How-Hi-the-Li" (which may have been the impetus for Chicago's "Wishing You Were Here") and the upbeat "Hung Up Down," sporting Grech's unmistakable violin as it wafts over the rural and slightly surreal lyrics.

These sides are set against the edgy "Weaver's Answer," which immediately establishes a broader spectrum of styles, most notably given Chapman's commanding if not slightly intimidating vocals. Whitney's blistering fretwork yields bite to the Grech-penned "Second Generation Woman," while "Emotions," another full-tilt rocker, is infused with an apparent R&B homage. Interested parties should note that Family Entertainment and Music in a Doll's House were issued in a double-disc package featuring a commendable 24-bit digital remastering rendering all other versions useless -- especially the early-'90s pressing on the German Line label.

Not only are both LPs included, but the 45s "Scene Through the Eye of a Lens" and "Gypsy Woman" are finally brought into the digital domain. The accompanying 40-page liner booklet is likewise a feast for the eyes.
by Lindsay Planer

1968 Music in a Doll's House
1. Scene Through the Eye of a Lens - 2:52
2. Gypsy Woman - 3:30
3. The Chase - 2:13
4. Mellowing Grey - 2:48
5. Never Like This (D. Mason) - 2:18
6. Me My Friend - 2:00
7. Variation on a Theme of Hey Mr. Policeman - 0:23
8. Winter - 2:25
9. Old Songs for New Songs - 4:17
10.Variation on a Theme of the Breeze - 0:40
11.Hey Mr. Policeman - 3:13
12.See Through Windows - 3:43
13.Variation on a Theme of Me My Friend - 0:22
14.Peace of Mind - 2:22
15.Voyage - 3:35
16.The Breeze - 2:50
17.3 X Time - 3:48

1969 Family Entertainment
1. The Weaver's Answer - 4:56
2. Observations From a Hill - 3:11
3. Hung Up Down - 3:12
4. Summer '67 (Whitney) - 3:19
5. How-Hi-the-Li (Grech) - 4:56
6. Second Generation Woman (Grech) - 3:13
7. From Past Archives - 3:21
8. Dim - 2:31
9. Processions (Whitney) - 2:48
10. Face in the Cloud (Grech) - 2:53
11. Emotions (Chapman, Grech, Whitney) - 5:09
All compositions by John Whitney and Roger Chapman except where indicated.

*Roger Chapman - Harmonica, Percussion, Tenor Sax, Vocals
*Rick Grech - Cello, Bass, Violin, Vocals
*Jim King - Harmonica, Piano, Soprano, Tenor Saxophone
*Rob Townsend - Drums, Percussion
*John "Charlie" Whitney - Guitar, Steel Guitar, Organ, Piano
Additional Musicians
*Dave Mason - Mellotron
*Nicky Hopkins - Piano

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