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


Saturday, March 31, 2012

Savoy Brown - Raw Sienna / Looking In (1969-70 uk, great hard blues rock, 2005 BGO remaster)

The "Raw Sienna" a high-water mark by the band, finds them softening their rougher edges and stretching out into jazz territory, yet still retaining a blues foundation. There's not a bad cut here, with enough variety (bottleneck slide, acoustic guitar, horns, and strings) to warrant frequent late-night listenings. "A Hard Way to Go," "Needle and Spoon," and "Stay While the Night Is Young" are especially strong, as are two instrumental numbers.

Unfortunately, leader Kim Simmonds lost his greatest asset when vocalist Chris Youlden quit for an ill-fated solo career after this recording. Youlden had one of the most distinctive voices in British blues, and Savoy would never fully recover from his exit.
by Peter Kurtz

Savoy Brown's blues-rock sound takes on a much more defined feel on 1970's Looking In and is one of this band's best efforts. Kim Simmonds is utterly bewildering on guitar, while Lonesome Dave Peverett does a fine job taking over lead singing duties from Chris Youlden who left halfway through the year. But it's the captivating arrangements and alluring ease of the music that makes this a superb listen.

The pleading strain transformed through Simmonds' guitar on "Money Can't Save Your Soul" is mud-thick with raw blues, and the comfort of "Sunday Night" is extremely smooth and laid back. "Take It Easy" sounds like it could have been a B.B. King tune as it's doused with relaxed guitar fingering. The entire album is saturated with a simple, British blues sound but the pace and the marbled strands of bubbly instrumental perkiness fill it with life.

Even the Yardbirds-flavored "Leaving Again" is appealing with its naive hooks, capped off with a heart-stopping guitar solo. This album along with Street Corner Talking best exemplify Savoy Brown's tranquilizing style.
by Mike DeGagne

Raw Sienna 1969
1. A Hard Way To Go (Chris Youlden) - 2:21
2. That Same Feelin' (Kim Simmonds) - 3:40
3. Master Hare (Kim Simmonds) - 4:52
4. Needle And Spoon (Chris Youlden) - 3:20
5. A Little More Wine (Chris Youlden) - 4:55
6. I'm Crying (Chris Youlden) - 4:19
7. Stay While The Night Is Young (Chris Youlden) - 3:10
8. Is That So (Kim Simmonds) - 7:43
9. When I Was A Young Boy (Chris Youlden) - 3:05
Looking In 1970
10.Gypsy (Kim Simmonds) - 1:00
11.Poor Girl (Tony Stevens) - 4:08
12.Money Can't Save Your Soul (Dave Peverett, Kim Simmonds) - 5:32
13.Sunday Night (Kim Simmonds) - 5:24
14.Looking In (Dave Peverett, Kim Simmonds) - 5:19
15.Take It Easy (Dave Peverett, Kim Simmonds) - 5:44
16.Sitting An' Thinking (Kim Simmonds) - 2:53
17.Leavin' Again (Dave Peverett, Kim Simmonds) - 8:30
18.Romanoff (Kim Simmonds) - 1:04

Savoy Brown
1969 Raw Sienna
*Chris Youlden - Vocals
*Kim Simmonds - Guitars
*Bob Hall - Piano
*Roger Earl - Drums
*Tony Stevens - Bass
*"Lonesome" Dave Peverett - Guitars
1970 Looking In
*Kim Simmonds - Guitar, Piano
*Lonesome Dave Peverett - Vocals, Guitar
*Roger Earl - Drums
*Tony Stevens - Bass
Guest Musician
*Owen Finnegan - Congas

Friday, March 30, 2012

T. Rex - Great Hits The A Sides (1972-77 uk, fabulous glam rock)

"If there is going to be any revolution in pop, it must come from the young people and if you ignore them, you are cutting yourself off from the life-supply of the rock music force."
(Marc Bolan, November 1970)

By the end of 1970, it was clear that the apparent revolutionary power of the rock underground was going nowhere. Its stars, increasingly enslaved by the chemical favours that came their way, had begun to die off; their riches and fame set them apart from the movement they were meant to represent; and their fashions and music had been assimilated into the wider culture.

They'd become another brick in the wall they once wished to tear down. Marc Bolan, although very much a part of the British underground, never fully bought into the politics of the counter-culture. As the driving force of Tyrannosaurus Rex, a duo which played — cross-legged on Indian rugs — at UFO, Middle Earth and as many outdoor festivals as they could possibly manage, Bolan massaged the underground's escapist wing. He looked like an elfin rag-doll, spoke in a precious whisper, wrote reams of fanciful poetry and sang like a quavering priest from an alien land.

And, unlike many of his contemporaries, he rarely ventured far from the simple songwriting that had inspired him as a youth: three chords were usually enough. Much has been made of Bolan's transition from underground folkie to teen idol, but through his eyes, it was all part of the mosaic of fantasy. In fact, he was fond of saying that his post-1,970 pop career was far more honest than the days when he spun Tolkienesque tales to the hippie hordes, and perhaps he was right.

After 1970, Marc Bolan no longer fed the addled heads of wayward undergraduates; instead, he activated an entire generation of teenagers, setting the controls for as far as they could think. Like the Beatles fans a decade earlier, they screamed, but they also dreamed. Through his image, he encouraged a symbolic refusal of ordinariness, just as his own heroes Elvis Presley and Jimi Hendrix had done.

 He once said, "I don't lead an everyday life, but that's nothing to do with being a rock star. I've always been like that." A generation of pop fans took him at his word, and began to create their own personae. It was particularly gratifying, then, to later discover that dozens of gaily-attired punk musicians were inducted into a pop way of life by his example.

The songs on this CD document every single released by T. Rex between January 1972 and August 1977, a period which began with a string of surefire chart-toppers, and ended with his death in a car crash on 16th September 1977. By that time, his successes were hard-earned, but his knack for conjuring irresistible three minute epics out of a clutch of simple chord shapes and a few choice phrases never left him.

1. Telegram Sam - 3:44
2. Metal Gum - 2:.26
3. Children Of The Revolution - 2:27
4. Solid Gold Easy Action - 2:20
5. 20th Century Boy - 3:38
6. The Groover - 3:21
7. Truck On (Tyke) - 3:06
8 Teenage Dream - 4:56
9. Light 0f Love - 3:14
10.Zip Gun Boogie - 3:18
11.New York City - 3:55
12.Dreamy Lady - 2:52
13.London Boys - 2:19
14.I Love To Boogie - 2:14
15.Laser Love - 3:35
16.To Know You Is To Love You (To Know Him Is To Love Him) (Phil Spector) - 2:43
17.The Soul 01 My Suit - 2:37
18.Dandy In The Underworld - 3:49
19.Celebrate Summer - 2:36
All Songs Written By Marc Bolan, except wher noted.

*Marc Bolan -  Guitar, Lead Vocals
*Mickey Finn -  Percussion (1969 - 1974)
*Steve Currie -  Bass (1970 - 1976)
*Bill Legend -  Drums (1971 - 1973)
*Gloria Jones -  Keyboards, Vocals (1973 - 1976)
*Jack Green -  Guitar (1973 - 1973)
*Dino Dines -  Keyboards (1973 - 1977)
*Davy Lutton -  Drums (1973 - 1976)
*Miller Anderson -  Guitar (1976 - 1977)
*Herbie Flowers -  Bass (1976 - 1977)
*Tony Newman -  Drums (1976 - 1977)

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Blodwyn Pig - Pigthology (2004 uk, fine blues rock)

Blodwyn Pig the British rock band formed by Mick Abrahams (vocals, guitars, formerly of "Jethro Tull") Jack Lancaster (saxes, flutes, violin and wind controllers) Andy Pyle (bass), and Ron Berg (drums), have released an anthology featuring re-recorded and re-mastered recordings of the band's most beloved and successful songs "Dear Jill" "See My Way" "Drive Me" and previously unreleased materials.

Blodwyn Pig in its first form was a legend in rock history hitting the top of the LP charts in Britain and elsewhere around the world. The members received new inspiration when Cameron Crow used the recording of "Dear Jill" in his movie "Almost Famous". The original BLODWYN PIG consisted of Mick Abrahams, vocals, guitars. Jack Lancaster, sax, flutes, violin and wind controllers. Andy Pyle, bass and Ron Berg drums and was later joined by "Jethro Tull's" Clive Bunker on drums.

Many bands credit Blodwyn Pig with being a huge influence at the start of their careers. One member of Aerosmith was recently quoted in Rolling Stone as saying "there wouldn't have been an Aerosmith if there hadn't been a Blodwyn Pig" and there are many fan sites across the Internet which still attest to the band's popularity.

The band played alongside Led Zeppelin, The Who, Procul Harem, BB King, Miles Davis, Janis Joplin, Pink Floyd and Joe Cocker at the Isle of Wight rock festivals, the Reading rock festival. The "Pig" completed two successful American tours playing venues like Fillmores, numerous universities and the LA Forum. Some of the recordings on Blodwyn Pig's," Pigthology" are from this period as well as later recorded songs from their first two albums.

Pigthology was produced, compiled and mastered by Jack Lancaster and Mick Abrahams.

1. See My Way - 4:28
 2. Baby Girl - 3:50
 3. Dear Jill - 6:27
 4. Monkinit - 4:40
 5. Drive Me - 2:42
 6. The Change Song - 3:31
 7. Cosmogification - 5:06
 8. Same Old Story - 2:35
 9. Hound Dog - 2:18
 10.Sly Bones - 2:10
 11.It's Only Love - 3:32
 12.Stormy Monday - 6:46

Blodwyn Pig
*Mick Abrahams - Vocals, Guitars
*Jack Lancaster - Saxes, Flutes, Violin, Wind Synths,
*Andy Pyle - Bass
*Ron Burg - Drums

Other Mick Abrahams Blodwyn Pig selected works.
1969  Ahead Rings Out (remastered and expanded edition) 
1970  Blodwyn Pig - Getting To This
1971  Mick Abrahams

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Savoy Brown - Shake Down / Getting To The Point (1967-68 uk, classic blues rock, 2005 bouble disc BGO remaster)

The Savoy Brown Blues Band's first Decca long player was recorded in just thirty hours spanning three consecutive days. Shake Down was a gritty collection of blues standards with just one original, Stone's "Doormouse Rides the Rails." Among the tracks were B.B. King's "Rock Me Baby," John Lee Hooker's "It's All My Fault," three Willie Dixon songs and "Black Night" by Fenton Robinson. The standout track was the group-arranged "Shake 'Em on Down," a raucous workout extending to just over six minutes. Shake Down was released in the U.K. in September 1967, but for reasons unknown, the LP didn't appear at all in the U.S.

The Savoy Brown Blues Band continued to gig extensively while Shake Down was in production, doing a punishing 24 gigs in just 21 days as backing band for John Lee Hooker. They also got a summer-long residency in Charlottenlund, north of Copenhagen, Denmark. At around the time of Shake Down's release, in an odd coincidence the band experienced a true drug-related "shake down" in Barnstaple, a town in Devon, England, during a short tour of the West Country. This incident led Harry to actually fire his brother Kim from the band after the dates in Denmark. Other changes ensued as Chappell and Portius left and were replaced by Bob Brunning on bass and Chris Youlden on vocals. Brunning had previously been Fleetwood Mac's bassist for a few weeks in August 1967.

Youlden had been in various outfits, including a band that had alternately called itself the Down Home Blues Band and Shakey Vick's Big City Blues Band, and another called the Cross Ties Blues Band.

Next, Manning quit and was replaced on drums by Hughie Flint, formerly of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and Alexis Korner's band, Free at Last band. Finally, Stone departed and Kim asked O'Leary to rejoin the band. O'Leary agreed at first, then changed his mind due to "unreasonable conditions." Stone was instead replaced by "Lonesome" Dave Peverett.

Producer Mike Vernon arranged for sessions for the group's next album, Getting to the Point, which took place in March 1968. Alongside Kim, Youlden emerged as co-leader of the group, and jointly or separately the pair composed most of the material. While the U.K. version of the album had cover-art depicting Kim wearing round glasses with the image of a black man in each lens, the U.S. cover art depicted more innocuous and politically correct images of a maze breaking up a collage of artwork. Kim explained what the original cover design was trying to depict to Melody Maker: "Our cover tried to show that although we are white we see things the same ways as a Negro but for some reasons it was changed."

With just two cover songs and seven originals, the album was to have been the Savoy Brown Blue's Band's transition from being a blues covers outfit to a band that had asserted its own identity. Unfortunately, the songs were not as strong as the pieces on the previous album, with the exception of the moody "Mr. Downchild" and the Willie Dixon-penned "You Need Love."

Getting to the Point was released in both the U.S. and the U.K. in July 1968 to positive reviews. Disc Weekly wrote approvingly that the album "showcases their fine instrumental ability (particularly guitarist Kim Simmonds) and clean, tight sound. An exciting LP-it's difficult to sit still while it's on, and that's what the blues is all about, after all." Rolling Stone observed, "Savoy Brown does not come on with complex technical artistry and does not attempt to overplay its music. Its strength lies in its group rapport and dynamics. Vocalist Chris Youlden is one of the better blues singers to emerge from England. His voice has the resonance and inflection so necessary to establish the power and emotion which is the blues."
Savoy Brown-com

Shake Down 1967
1. I Ain't Superstitious (Willie Dixon) - 3:33
2. Let Me Love You Baby (Willie Dixon) - 3:05
3. Black Night (Jessie Mae Robinson) - 4:54
4. High Rise (Beverly Bridge, Sonny Thompson, Freddie King) - 2:48
5. Rock Me Baby (B.B. King, Joe Josea) - 3:01
6. I Smell Trouble (Deadric Malone) - 4:36
7. Oh, Pretty Woman (Albert King) - 2:33
8. Little Girl (Willie Dixon) - 1:42
9. The Doormouse Rides the Rails (Albert Stone) - 3:37
10. It's My Own Fault (John Lee Hooker) - 5:01
11. Shake 'Em on Down (Traditional) - 6:07

Getting To The Point 1968
1. Flood in Houston (Kim Simmonds, Chris Youlden) - 3:54
2. Stay With Me Baby (Dave Peverett, Kim Simmonds, Chris Youlden) - 2:40
3. Honey Bee (Muddy Waters) - 6:32
4. The Incredible Gnome Meets Jaxman (Kim Simmonds) - 3:31
5. Give Me a Penny (Traditional) - 4:21
6. Mr. Downchild (Kim Simmonds, Chris Youlden) - 5:30
7. Getting to the Point (Kim Simmonds) - 3:59
8. Big City Lights (Bob Hall, Chris Youlden) - 3:19
9. You Need Love (Willie Dixon) - 7:39

Savoy Brown
1967 Shake Down
*Brice Portius - Vocals
*Kim Simmonds - Lead And Rhythm Guitar
*Martin Stone - Lead And Rhythm Guitar
*Ray Chappell - Bass
*Leo Mannings - Drums, Percussion
*Bob Hall - Piano

1968 Getting To The Point
*Chris Youlden - Vocal
*Bob Hall - Piano
*Kim Simmonds - Lead Guitar
*Dave Peverett - Rhythm Guitar
*Rivers Jobe - Bass Guitar
*Roger Earl - Drums

1974  Savoy Brown  - Boogie Brothers

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Paul Butterfield - North South (1981 us, funky blues rock, japan edition)

Butterfield the blues harp master would keep busy with session work through the end of the 1970s, and toured with the Band's Levon Helm and his RCO All Stars.  Paul Butterfield remained signed to Bearsville Records, and made his proper solo debut in 1976, releasing  "Put It In Your Ear" in Los Angeles with renowned sessioneers like Chuck Rainey, Timothy Drummond, James Jameson, Fred Carter, Jr., Ben Keith, Eric Gale and Bernard Purdie, as well as Levon Helm and Garth Hudson of The Band.

“North South” (referring to 1966’s “East West”) was recorded in 1981 at Hi Records’ Royal Recording Studios in Memphis, and was produced by the legendary Willie Mitchell. It features Hi’s rhythm and brass sections playing throughout.  In a sense it's not a bad album, but it’s far out from the older recordings, not even to his most recent, but judging the situation and the period production with the overuse of synthesizers and stuff like that I think it sounds pleasant.

In 1986 he released his last album, "The Legendary Paul Butterfield Rides Again". Butterfield died in May 1987 at the age of 45, suffering a heart attack that was probably brought on by years of drug and alcohol abuse.

1.I Get Excited (Bradley, Fisher) - 3:34
2.Get Some Fun in Your Life (Turner) - 4:00
3.Footprints on the Windshield Upside Down (Carlisle, McClinton) - 3:20
4.Catch a Train (Bradley, Fisher) - 2:56
5.Bread and Butterfield (Toles) - 4:28
6.Living in Memphis (Turner) - 4:07
7.Slow Down (Cobb) - 4:38
8.I Let It Go (To My Head) (Fuller, Toles) - 2:54
9.Baby Blue (Greenfield, Sedaka) - 5:07

*Paul Butterfield - Harmonica, Vocals
*Steve Cobb - Bass, Percussion
*Eddie Fisher - Drums
*Jack Hale - Trombone
*James Hooker - Piano
*Wayne Jackson - Trumpet
*Andrew Love - Tenor Sax
*Willie Mitchell - Horn Arrangements, Percussion, String Arrangements
*Erma Shaw - Vocals
*Michael Toles - Guitar, Horn Arrangements, Piano, String Arrangements, Synthesizer, Vocals
*Julius Bradley - Vocals

Paul Butterfield's back pages
1964 -1969 Paul Butterfield's Blues Band (Their first 5 albums by request)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Outlaw Blues Band - Breaking In (1969 us, tasteful blues rock with jazzy soul feel)

The Outlaw Blues Band And The People brought the band a certain amount of acclaim, and they would score high-profile gigs playing with artists as diverse as Canned Heat, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Spirit, Taj Mahal, the Jefferson Airplane, and others. The truth is, however, that the album didn't sell especially well. The long delay between its recording and release (over a year) had found the band evolving towards an even more eclectic sound, while rifts caused by poor management would change the band's musical chemistry as members left and new ones didn't quite fit in the same way.

Remarkably, ABC/Bluesway Records requested a second record from the OBB, the label insisting on a much more blues-oriented set of material. Recorded over a mere two days, by the time of its release a year later in 1969, Breaking In was supported by a band that included only Aleman and Whiteman from the original line-up. Still, since the band had cut its teeth on the blues, the performances on Breaking In are fresh, original, and masterful while still bringing the trademark OBB eclecticism to the material. New OBB bassist Lawrence "Slim" Dickens does a fine job of singing the Big Joe Turner soul-blues number "Plastic Man," his smoldering vocals laying smoothly atop a loping groove created by his walking bass line, Aleman's rhythmic beats, and Diaz's razor-sharp leads.

A cover of the T-Bone Walker classic "Stormy Monday Blues" is equally spot-on, Dickens' soulful vocals complimented by Whiteman's jazzy vibes and mournful sax, Aleman's shuffling drumbeats, and Diaz's elegant fretwork. Dickens' original "My Baby's Left And Gone" is a straight-arrow blues tune and fine showcase for both Rubenhold's crying harp as well as Diaz's fluid guitar lines. The Latin-tinged "Mamo Pano Shhhh" is closer in spirit to the material on the band's first disc, the song a jazzy instrumental with Aleman's timbales and Colford's Congas riding high in the mix alongside Whiteman's dancing vibraharp tones.

"You're The Only One" is a lofty R&B-styled ballad with a shuffling rhythm and slight, Latin-tinged percussion and vibes. It is easily the weakest track recorded by OBB, devoid of any real passion in Dickens' wan vocals, and only partially redeemed by the song's strong instrumental voice. On the other hand, "Deep Gully" stands as one of the band's masterworks, an instrumental jam that features one of Dickens' strongest bass performances, a mesmerizing underlying rhythm, Aleman's swaying percussive approach to the vibraharp, and Diaz's alternating sweet-and-spicy lead-and-rhythm-guitar. The song evinces a deep funky groove that seemingly rolls on forever, making it the perfect candidate for later sampling by the hip-hop legions.

The band's lively and unique blend of blues, rock, jazz, and soul music was a decade or more ahead of its time, while its multi-racial make-up and deep well of influences place it on par with contemporaries like the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Santana, Electric Flag, and the Allman Brothers Band. Sadly, these albums have been lost for decades, but are ripe for re-discovery by adventuresome blues and jazz fans.
by Keith A. Gordon

1. Plastic Man (Len Chandler) - 5:17
2. Stormy Monday Blues (T Bone Walker) - 6:41
3. My Baby's Left And Gone - 4:22
4. Day Said (Victor Aleman, Joe Whiteman, Phillip John Diaz, Leon Rubenhold) - 3:20
5. Mamo Pano Shhhh (Victor Aleman, Joe Whiteman, Phillip John Diaz, Leon Rubenhold) - 6:13
6. You're the Only One - 2:10
7. Deep Gully - 5:47
All songs by Lawrence Dickens except where noted.

Outlaw Blues Band
*Lawrence Dickens - Bass, Organ, Vocals
*Joe Whiteman - Flute, Percussion, Soprano, Tenor Sax
*Phillip John Diaz - Lead, Rhythm Guitar, Lead Vocals
*Leon Rubenhold - Harmonica, Timbales, Vocals
*Victor Aleman - Drums, Percussion, Vocals

The Outlaw Blues band 1968 (Debut album)

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Monday, March 26, 2012

Various Artists - Wednesday Morning Dew Realistic Patterns, Vol. 2 (60's us, pleasing psychedelic trip out )

Psychic Circle's second collection of rare "Orchestrated Psychedelia from the USA" manages to be more satisfying than the first; like Realistic Patterns, Wednesday Morning Dew has precious little to do with genuine psychedelic rock, but as a collection of pop tunes which revel in the lysergic influences of the late '60s, it's fun and engaging stuff. Jeff Monn, who as a member of the Third Bardo sang one of the great garage-psych tunes of all time ("Five Years Ahead of My Time"), shows off a more ambitious side on the more polished but similarly intense "She Is There for Me." New York City rockers the Majik Ship are represented by one of the stellar moments from their self-titled album, the moody and tastefully arranged "Sunday Morning Dew."

Secret Agents of the Vice Squad not only had a great name, they managed to twist "Hang on Sloopy" into an homage to the Left Banke, with the likeably odd "I Saw Sloopy." The Shambles' "World War II in Cincinnati" boasts what must be one of the most cryptic drug references of the era, but the Baroque pop arrangement is unmistakably pleasurable; "Follow Us" by Summerhill is an even more impressive and ambitious Baroque pop rarity, and a real stunner.

Silk from Cleveland deliver a solid bit of horn-infused blue-eyed soul on "Not a Whole Lot I Can Do," which features future heartland rock cult hero Michael Stanley on guitar. And though the contributions from the Second Time and the Peppermint Rainbow aren't especially obscure, they're fine tunes that sound great in this context. Fans of heavy psych will find this too diluted for their taste, but if you have an ear for pleasantly off-kilter '60s pop, Wednesday Morning Dew will make you feel very good indeed.
by Mark Deming

Artists - Tracks
1. Bloomsbury People - Have You Seen Them Cry - 3:32
2. Erik - Child of the Sea - 2:22
3. Majic Ship - Wednesday Morning Dew - 2:55
4. Fallen Angels - Room at the Top - 2:41
5. Shambles - World War II in Cincinatti - 2:52
6. Wayne Stewart - If You Could Be Him Instead - 2:16
7. Summerhill - Follow Us - 3:47
8. Stony Brook People - There's Tomorrow - 2:43
9. The Bag - Nickels & Dimes - 2:31
10.Secret Agents of the Vice Squad - I Saw Sloopy - 1:58
11.Peter Courtney - Dr. David's Private Papers - 2:23
12.Green Lyte Sunday - If You Want to Be Free - 2:41
13.Hearts And Flowers - Tin Angel - 4:23
14.Five By Five - Too Much Tomorrow - 2:35
15.Jeff Monn - She Is There for Me - 2:02
16.The Second Time - Listen to the Music - 2:48
17.Nova Local - If You Only Had the Time - 2:19
18.Silk - Not a Whole Lot I Can Do - 3:06
19.Hook - There's Magic in the Air - 2:19
20.Peppermint Rainbow - Pink Lemonade - 2:08

More from the Artists
Erik Heller - Look Where I Am 1968 
Majic Ship 1970

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Mystic Astrologic Crystal Band - Flowers Never Cry (1967-68 us, marvellous psychedelic rock)

Normally when someone is asked to write something about a recording group, they  find little or no difficulty in doing so. However,  this is not the case with The Mystic  Astrologic, Crystal Band!!! I say this as  the group truly is a paradox and yet everything  the name implies! Still, the group also  is Steve Hoffman due to the fact that it was  wholly conceived in his own mind originally,  (in fact one of his compositions contained  herein, "Geometry Alley" makes reference  to just such a band) and then brought to fruition  after many months of auditioning, rehearsing  and recording!!

Steve Hoffman, (the only band member I will dwell on for this, their first album)  was discovered by his Manager and Producer,  Clancy B. Grass III, in a little known  teen-age club in West Covina round 1966. At that time he simply walked up to Mr. Grass and said. "I write great songs and you have got to listen to them!  It only took one song to prove that here was  a potential "giant" as far as the recording  industry was concerned, and from that point  on the two of them have worked together to  create this album!!

It has been a long time in  the making, and yet when you listen to the  variety of songs and instruments...the approach  given to each composition individually,  etc.; you will see that it has without a  doubt been time well spent!!!  During the course of recording this album,  many people associated with the entertainment  industry, including disk-jockeys, record  company executives, motion picture producers  and so on have heard one or more of  the selections in various stages of completion  and the consensus of opinion has been that  this group has all the qualifications necessary  to become the largest, most successful  group ever to come from the U.S.A.

In fact, it  has been suggested that The Mystic  Astrologic, Crystal Band could be the "heir apparent"  to the throne currently held by The  Beatles!!! A very big statement, but listen  to Steve’s songs, hear what he has to say  and how the band says it. pay attention to  the musicianship of the group and then you  too will be saying "Why couldn't they?"...  with no reply as there is no reason why they  couldn't!!! I have been associated with the  recording industry for some time now and  having had several Top 10 hits in this country  I feel I can say to you that contained  herein are the greatest sounds ever to be put  together by an American group for more  than five or six years!!!
by Albeth Paris 

1. Factory Endeavor - 2:30
2. Early Dawn - 2:05
3. Antagonizing Friend - 2:27
4. Barnyard Philosophy - 2:06
5. Flowers Never Cry - 2:18
6. Geometry Alley - 2:29
7. October Sunshine - 2:00
8. La Vent - 3:04
9. Publicly Inclined (To Blow Her Mind) - 2:42
10.Yesterday's Girl - 2:40
11.The M.A.C.B. Theme - 2:17
12.Sunbeams and Rainbows - 2:55
13.I Think I'll Just Lie Here and Die - 2:22
14.Gaberdene Square - 3:32
15.Ah Ha Ha Ha - 2:33
16.Krystalize - 2:35
17.Today - 1:58
18.Yellow Room - 2:45
19.Authors - 3:20
20.It's Strange - 2:40
21.Only Time - 2:46
22.Oatmeal Quicksand - 1:01
All songs by Steve Hoffman

The Mystic Astrologic Crystal Band
*Steve Hoffman - Vocals, Sitar, Bass, Keyboards
*John Leighton - Vocals, Bass, Guitar
*John Moreland - Lead Guitar
*Bob Phillips - Drums, Percussion
*Ron Roman - Vocals, Percussion

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The Moon - Without Earth And The Moon (1968-69 us, outstanding orchestrated psychedelia)

The music recorded was an effort to contribute an augmented level of warm, meaningful, and enjoyable listening fare for all of the creatures that hear. The beginnings were mainly generated by the songs being written by Matthew Moore. Matthew's brother, 'Daniel Moore', was an independent record producer in Los Angeles and had produced several singles with Matthew as the artist.

Daniel had arranged a meeting with  'Mike Curb' at Sidewalk Productions, in an effort to find a recording contract, and Mike was very helpful in providing the producer, and engineer, and drummer, and keyboardist: (Larry Brown), and in encouraging Matthew to seek out musicians that would form a group to record his compositions. Larry Brown introduced "Drew" Bennett to the proposed gathering, and Matthew had been running into David Marks around town, so he approached David with the idea of recording a few trial tracks. Within a few weeks the project was under way.

The Studio was to be, "Continental Studio", in Hollywood, and the four young adventurers set up camp and locked the doors. These young men were still not yet 21 years of age. The tremendous technical and organizational task had began. All were single, all were very accomplished musicians, all were ridiculously fearless as to the huge undertaking they had embarked upon. It was agreed upon from the beginning that the fewest possible distractions and interruptions during the recording process must be the rule.

The doors were locked and only food deliveries and an occasional visit from Mike Curb was allowed during the basic track recording phase. Sleeping, eating and playing music....that was all. The quest for perfection was the standard, many re-takes, many 'start all overs', and many heated discussions concerning choices of parts to be played or parts, not to be played. Matthew: " I remember waking up ..having slept on the floor near the piano. A dim light was on in the booth, so I tried to walk to the door out of the studio.

 I kept stepping on boxes and kicking over cans and bottles but I made my way to the light panel to bring up the light in the room. I couldn't believe the amount of clutter and trash we had accumulated. We had to take a day off to allow the janitors to come in and clean. I still can recall the 'Warnings' we invoked,  to "be careful and not move any wires or mikes or touch any set up instruments". We had to go out into the world for a day and entertain ourselves. Dave and I went to a $.50 triple feature western movie downtown and watched the winos sleep. A few days later we resumed our quest.

No one knows for sure, how many hours or days or weeks or months it took to finish the first album, (Without Earth)  but we do remember the final moment when we all looked at each other and nodded in agreement that it was finished. The second Album (The Moon), was actually time logged by Larry Brown. He said It took 470 hours, from start to finish. The first one took much more time.

1. Mothers and Fathers - 2:06
2. Pleasure - 3:19
3. I Should Be Dreaming - 2:33
4. Brother Lou's Love Colony (Dalton, Montgomery) - 3:57
5. Got to Be on My Way - 2:00
6. Someday Girl - 2:42
7. Papers - 0:59
8. Faces - 2:06
9. Never Mind - 1:51
10.Give Me More - 2:48
11.She's on My Mind (Dalton, Montgomery) - 2:21
12.Walking Around - 1:56
13.Pirate - 2:55
14.Lebanon (Moore, Moris) - 1:45
15.Transporting Machine - 1:40
16.Mary Jane (Klimes, Whitcraft) - 2:16
17.Softly - 3:01
18.Not to Know - 2:42
19.The Good Side - 2:59
20.Life Is a Season - 2:22
21.John Automation - 2:17
22.Come Out Tonight - 2:47
23.Mr. Duffy (Brown, Moore) - 2:56
24.Pirate (Mono 45 Mix) - 2:38
25.Not to Know (Mono 45 Mix) - 2:41
26.Face in the Crowd - 2:05
27.White Silk Glove (Clifford) - 2:15
28.Come On - 2:58
All compositions by Matthew Moore unless else stated.

*Matthew Moore - Piano, Vocals, Guitars
*David Marks - Guitars, Background Vocals
*Larry Brown - Drums
*Dave Jackson  - Bass
*Joe Foster - Synthesizer
*Nick Robbins - Synthesizer
*Bob Klimes - String Arrangements
*Dave Roberts - Horn Arrangements

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Outlaw Blues Band - The Outlaw Blues Band (1968 us, unique blend of blues, rock, jazz, and soul, 2000 digipak release)

Chances are that you've never heard of the Outlaw Blues Band, although you may have run across the band's music a time or two. An obscure outfit with great appeal to crate-diggers and certain adventuresome club DJs, the Outlaw Blues Band's two lone 1960s-era albums have taken on a certain underground cachet since their release, and OBB songs have been sampled in tracks by such hip-hop artisans as De La Soul and Cyprus Hill, among others, and have shown up in various movie soundtracks.

Formed in Los Angeles in the early 1960s by drummer Victor Aleman, bassist Joe Francis Gonzalez, and guitarist Phillip John Diaz, the Outlaw Blues Band was as equally influenced by blues and R&B artists like Muddy Waters, Sam Cooke, and Johnny "Guitar" Watson as they were by British Invasion acts like the Rolling Stones and the Beatles. After building a strong reputation on the basis of their dynamic live shows, the Outlaw Blues Band was signed to ABC/Bluesway Records by legendary producer Bob Thiele, releasing The Outlaw Blues Band And The People album in 1968, and Breaking In a year later.

The Outlaw Blues Band kicks off its debut disc with a particularly funky take on the old John D. Loudermilk greasy-blues treasure "Tobacco Road." While the rhythm section cranks out a deep groove, a blaring horn riff pushes the song forward. Guitarist Diaz's solos are vibrant, rich in tone, and loud enough to joust with Joe Whiteman's tenor sax. Diaz's scattershot vocals, the band's backing harmonies, and the song's circular soundtrack blend together, making for a hypnotic listening experience.

The band sinks deep into the blues with its original "Tried To Be A Good Boy," the song a musical dichotomy that sets Whiteman's jazzy sax and flute notes against Diaz's emotional vocals and wiry leads, the band's unique arrangement taking the song into an entirely different direction.The up-tempo "How Bad Love Can Be" is a rollicking soul-blues rave-up with Diaz's raucous vocals matched by his scrappy rhythm guitar, Whiteman's icy blasts of sax, and a fluid rhythm section that brings a slippery feel to every beat. Again, Diaz's leads are dynamic, jumping right out of your speakers and demanding your attention, the energy crackling like ball lightning around your ears. Drummer Aleman smacks the cans with a fierce percussive attitude.

The blistering emotion of "Lost In The Blues" is bolstered by Diaz's tortured vocals and scorching guitarplay, while Whiteman's use of a vibraharp is interesting for the textures it brings to the otherwise period-perfect blues-rock jam. The album's highlight is "Death Dog Of Doom," a chaotic eight-minute instrumental showcase that masterfully blends blues, rock, jazz, funk, and soul with a heavy Latin influence that reminds of Santana but with a wilder edge.

While Gonzalez's throbbing bass and Aleman's subtle drumming builds a rhythmic foundation, Diaz stirs in swirling layers of psychedelic-blues guitar, Whiteman throws in scraps of flute and vibes, and several band members bang out various percussive rhythms behind Jimmy Colford's dominant Congas. The song is a welcome reminder of the kind of musical experimentation that a band could get away with during the swinging 1960s, a free-spirited jam that blows away preconceptions and breaks down barriers, opening the door for future musical ideas.

The Outlaw Blues Band comes back to earth with a smoldering cover of B.B. King's classic "Sweet Sixteen." Diaz sounds more like a traditional blues vocalist here, all silky and smoky while Leon Rubenhold's harmonica playing finally has a chance to rise and shine. Often lost in the mix of other songs, Rubenhold's harp style evokes that of Little Walter, and provides a fine counterpoint to Diaz's imaginative fretboard runs.

Larry Gentile's organ provides a bit of warmth to the performance, and Aleman's nuanced drumming reminds of the great Sam Lay. The album closes out with the cacophonic "Two 'Tranes Running," a free-form instrumental jam inspired by John Coltrane and Miles Davis, and a little too improv for my tastes, tho' jazzheads might dig it.

The band's lively and unique blend of blues, rock, jazz, and soul music was a decade or more ahead of its time, while its multi-racial make-up and deep well of influences place it on par with contemporaries like the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Santana, Electric Flag, and the Allman Brothers Band. Sadly, these albums have been lost for decades, but are ripe for re-discovery by adventuresome blues and jazz fans.
by Keith A. Gordon

1. Tobacco Road (John Loudermilk) - 5:03
2. Tried to Be a Good Boy (But I'm Worse Than a Nazi) - 6:19
3. How Bad Love Can Be - 4:02
4. I've Got to Have Peace on MyMind - 3:34
5. Lost in the Blues - 3:06
6. Death Dog of Doom - 8:10
7. Sweet Sixteen (Joe Josea, B.B. King) - 4:31
8. Two 'Tranes Running - 2:14
All songs by Victor Aleman, Joe Francis Gonzalez, Leon Rubenhold except where indicated.

Outlaw Blues Band
*Joe Francis Gonzalez - Bass, Vocals
*Joe Whiteman - Flute, Percussion, Soprano, Tenor Sax
*Phillip John Diaz - Lead, Rhythm Guitar, Lead Vocals
*Leon Rubenhold - Harmonica, Timbales, Vocals
*Victor Aleman - Drums, Percussion, Vocals

Friday, March 23, 2012

Various Artists - Realistic Patterns Orchestrated Psychedelia (60's us, psychedelic gems)

Over the past several years, smaller niche markets have started to become more DIY oriented as the bigger label support crumbling beneath their feet. Among the genres most notably contributing to the niche are soul/R&B, funk, jazz, and the enormous number of psychedelic nugget compilations. With so many reissue labels and compilations floating around, it’s hard to decipher which ones are actually worth the high price tags that smaller labels are forced to charge.

It all comes down to the compiler and the staff’s passion behind these labels—we’ve all learned that Numero dig up some of the tastiest nuggets, Soul Jazz create some of the best retrospective period compilations in the business, and you can always turn to Trunk for the sounds that are from another planet. It usually only takes one release to make or break these labels, and after a solid couple dozen releases on Psychic Circle, they may have finally laid their permanent mark with Realistic Patterns: Orchestrated Psychedelia from the USA.

As mentioned, one of the most important elements in reissue labels are the compilers and the heads of the labels themselves, and Psychic Circle has one of the better teams behind the drawing board. The label is owned by Steven Carr (one owner of Radioactive) and the compiler is Nick Saloman, lead man of ‘60s psych-revivalists the Bevis Frond. Finding a topic to keep an audience interested in buying a compilation from a semi-obscure label is the true test—and orchestrated psychedelia is by and large the cleverest release from Pyschic Circle yet.

Ochestrated psychedelic cuts were usually those in the ‘60s that got thrown to the wayside as cheap b-sides or corny off-shoots from respectable bands. Saloman proves that something other than fuzzy guitars and pummeling drums can fit within the pallet of psychedelia, and he does it with the help of 20 bands that understood quality arrangements. Featuring artists ranging from the unknown to the obscure collector all the way to deep cuts by bands like the Moon—which featured Matthew Moore (who worked with Leon Russell and Joe Cocker) and former Beach Boy David Marks—the attention to detail in the compiling of tracks for Realistic Patterns is imposing and laudable.

While some cuts, such as Burned’s “All Those Who Enter Here”, which was released on a temporary subsidiary of Mercury, and Bubble’s “I Call Her Lady” on Dot Records (both released as one-off 45s only), are nearly unknown to any normal record collector, there are cuts that will prove to familiar to the everyday psych-collector. Present is one of the best examples of orchestrated psychedelia, the 31st of February’s classic baroque-style cut “Pedestals”, which features future Allman Butch Trucks behind the kit (Greg and Duane were also known to sit in with the band), while Tim Widle’s “Popcorn Double Feature” provides the original of the Searchers’ smash hit, written by Larry Weiss (also responsible for “Rhinestone Cowboy”—quite the change of pace).

Realistic Patterns does follow suit to a nagging trend in obscure compilations, and that is a lack of research. While folks like Numero have gained their recognition for the deep research put into the tracks they compile (the backstories contained in the liner notes are often just as interesting as the tracks), Psychic Circle is willing to put out a track they can find little to no information on. It can only make one wonder if they really put the time into doing deep research to find the info. For example, the liner notes behind the track “I Had the Notion” by the Sound Solution claims, “Well, here’s a great track from a clearly excellent band, and I could find absolutely nothing about them.”

But if these backstories and discoveries are part of the reason people buy these compilations, then how are they clearly excellent? This isn’t to shortchange the effort put into Psychic Circle’s compilations, but more extensive research for the liner notes would be a definite encouragement for purchasing these comps in the future. While Realistic Patterns: Orchestrated Psychedelia from the USA has its commonplace flaws, it’s strength of track selections and precise compiling should leave Psychic Circle as a go to label for tracks that are obscure, but also full of substance.

Steven Carr and Nick Saloman have built the right foundations for a fantastic adventure into the world of compilations, and if they continue to grow, there is no doubt they will find themselves a place in the niche of ever-growing DIY compilation labels.
by John Bohannon

Artists - Tracks
1. Burned - All Those Who Enter Here -  3:03
2. Subterranean Monastery - Realistic Patterns -  2:40
3. Moon - Brother Lou's Love Colony -  3:57
4. Bubble - I Call Her Lady -  3:19
5. Compass - Her Sadness Primer -  2:17
6. Tim Wilde - Popcorn Double Feature -  3:03
7. Sound Solution - I Had The Notion -  2:29
8. Mystic Astrologic Crystal Band -Yesterday Girl -  2:43
9. Byzantine Empire -Snowqueen -  2:24
10.A Handful - Dying Daffodil Incident -  2:35
11.Douglas Fir - Jersey Thursday -  2:19
12.Gregg Shively - Dominique Is Gone -  3:15
13.Nobody's Children - Don'tcha Feel Like Cryin' -  2:09
14.Balloon Farm - Hurry Up Sundown -  2:53
15.Dunn And McCashen - Lydia Purple -  3:22
16.The Visions - Small Town Commotion -  2:29
17.Drake - Glory Train -  2:25
18.31st Of February - Pedestals -  2:28
19.Natty Bumpo - Theme From Valley Of The Dolls -  2:13
20.Little Boy Blues - Mr. Tripp Wouldn't Listen -  3:45

For DanP and all of my FRIENDS who supporting our effort for more than three years....

More from the Artists here:
Douglas Fir - Hard Heartsingin' 1970
The Moon - Without Earth And The Moon 1968-69
The Mystic Astrologic Crystal Band - Flowers Never Cry 1967-68

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Iron Butterfly - Scorching Beauty / Sun and Steel (1974-75 us, classic rock with some glam dives)

Several things occur to me as I keep listening to Scorching Beauty. First, I wonder at the careful and loving craftsmanship of the record. Just nine songs on here, and none are that long: a couple do develop into feeble jams, but for the most part, the length is adequate. The production is not brilliant, but decent: the sound is very cozy and homely, as if the band is playing right here in your living-room. No arena connotations here, and no 'band-from-Hell' connotations either: just good old plain rock'n'roll with loud, but not overloud guitars and nice touches of organs and synths throughout.

Second, Erik Braunn suddenly displays an amazing singing voice - on the more loud rockers he tries a bit too hard to scream his head off, but on the ballads and the 'quieter' numbers in general he sings in a weird croon, almost reminding me of Bryan Ferry. No, no, 'tis not a joke: I could have sworn that Braunn drew a lot of inspiration from none other than Roxy Music. If you don't believe me, grab this album and start it from track number six, 'Searchin' Circles': a terrific moody rocker driven by Erik's powerful riffage and Reitzes' majestic organ riff, and above it comes Mr Braunn's passionate, trebley vocal delivery that manages to encompass a lonely man's desperate feelings almost perfectly. And the bleating on the chorus - 'In circll-l-l-l-es! In circ-l-l-l-l-l-es!' - is great fun, too.

Third, it has often been said that Scorching Beauty has nothing to do with the former Ingle-led Iron Butterfly, but it ain't right. Some of the songs on here are, in fact, quite hippiesque: '1975 Overture' and 'People Of The World' are just the kind of universalist idealistic anthems you'd expect from a late Sixties record. Here, though, they are 'updated' for the Seventies, and in a nice way, too: 'Overture' opens with an Eastern-flavoured lovely synth melody and Bushy's martial drum rhythms, and 'People Of The World' starts as a typical Seventies grumbly rocker before subsiding into a groovy sing-along anthem with the silly, but charmingly naive refrain ('making each day a little bit better - all together, all together') that keeps repeating over and over a la 'Hey Jude' coda.

Fourth, these guys really know how to rock: 'Hard Miseree' rolls along like a shiny roller coaster, with Erik playing as fast as he can (which isn't really that fast, but it totally suits me, at least) and blazing his way through with some impressive off-the-wall solos. And 'Am I Down' has perhaps the catchiest vocal melody on the record, with Erik once again delivering that weird croon of his. The only misstep is the fake 'hysteria' at the end of the track, but nothing offensive about that, either; it's just that Mr Braunn is not a very convincing nor gifted screamer.

Erik's second and last try. Historically speaking, Sun And Steel is nowhere near as interesting as Beauty. The hippie elements are growing more and more feeble (no sing-along anthems on here), and Erik's Roxy Music influences are also on the way out, only peaking towards the very end of the record. On the other hand, the songwriting is clearly improved - every single one of the tracks on here has at least something to offer to you. The guitars are louder and brawnier, the solos are more 'cathartic', and the riffage is more evident. Oh, and the ballads are more heartfelt. Have I missed anything?

The main bulk of the songs on here are gritty rockers (with a couple ballads to soften the impression), sandwiched in between two 'soulful epics' - the title track and 'Scorching Beauty', which for some unclear reason didn't make it onto the previous album itself. These 'soulful epics' don't seem to have any significant or memorable melody, but hey, that's a usual thing with soulful epics. Soulful epics should grab you not with their structure or melody, but with the energy level and the passion and the heat. And believe me, there's enough passion and heat in both. 'Sun And Steel' builds up towards a pretty impressive climax, with Eric giving his best David Bowie (Bryan Ferry? James Brown? Who cares?) impersonation and playing lots of delicious licks, while the stately organ rules in the background.

Oh, by the way, they've replaced the keyboardist with a certain Bill DeMartines, but that didn't make a lot of difference. As for 'Scorching Beauty', it's arguably the best song off both of the albums. Erik manages to squeeze out a soothing, attractive and at the same time heavily distorted tone out of his guitar and pairs it with the Ferry-ish croon; to this, add thick layers of organ, orchestration and occasional tinkling pianos, and a furious, heartfelt vocal delivery, and here's a recipee for a minor masterpiece. As much as I'm not a fan of the 'heavy soul' genre, I have to admit the band worked some mini-wonders on here. Funny how they didn't bother to release the song immediately, on Beauty itself; did they really deem it inferior to dreck like 'Before You Go'?

And that's just two songs. Then there's the rockers. This stuff I likes. "Lightnin'" sounds a little corny when it comes to the refrain ('She was a lightning in my eyes...'; don't remember what it reminds me of, but maybe so much the better), but the main 'body' of the song, with its heavy funk and spooky little synth 'barkings' everywhere, is impressive. 'Free' takes off on a rather generic riff but transforms it into, well, something not entirely generic; I mean, the first notes are the usual stuff - a riff that's been used by thousands of heavy rock performers, but the last notes are an unexpected twist. Ah, if only I knew how to write down music... then again, not everybody knows how to read music, right? I wouldn't want to pass for a careless nonchalant snob, either.

'Scion', on the other hand, doesn't offer us anything far removed from generic, but I just like the way it flows by - powerfully and raunchily, and same goes for the Mellotron-drenched 'I'm Right I'm Wrong'. I tell you, these rockers aren't bad at all: they are just not very interesting as compared to 'Hard Miseree' or something like that. Still tons of times better than your usual Aerosmith, as the band pulls out all its tricks in desperation, with witty sound effects, synth solos, distorted violins, and loads of other things in the background which I'm just not able to notice. One could write an entire term paper around these numbers.

One could also write an entire term paper around the ballads on here. 'Beyond The Milky Way' begins as a corny bublegum piano pop ditty, then suddenly transforms into a powerful sappy ballad that lies somewhere in between Elton John and Paul McCartney. Gee, now that's clever. Maybe I just fell for the bubblegum once in my life, but I can't resist the song. Oh yeah, David Bowie also had a lot of similar stuff in his early days, so if you're going to condemn the song for 'sugarness', better think twice and at least remember that the melody is very pretty. And 'Watch The World Going By' is even better... definitely better, as nobody is going to accuse me of falling for bubblegum pop this time. In other words, it's another take on Bryan Ferry, with a tear-inducing acoustic guitar/piano melody that reminds me both of Phil Collins' 'More Fool Me' and - yep - 'Stairway To Heaven'... man, I feel like an idiot. But I can't help it.

Okay, I think I really overdid the references part in this particular review; what a downside to rock'n'roll education. It's all true, of course: there's a lot of Bowie and Ferry and Lennon and McCartney and Collins and Elton John and God knows who else here, but is there enough Iron Butterfly? Probably not. Mayhaps they just shouldn't have called the band 'Iron Butterfly', seeing as the records didn't sell anyway. On the other hand, if they hadn't dubbed themselves 'Iron Butterfly', no way I would have bought these albums or even learned of their existence. In the immortal words of George Ade, 'there is everything in a name. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but would not cost as much during the winter months'.
Just listen to these albums, please.
by George Starostin

1.1975 Overture (Iron Butterfly) - 4:15
2.Hard Miseree (Braunn) - 3:41
3.High on a Mountain Top (Kramer) - 3:58
4.Am I Down (Braunn) - 5:19
5.People of the World (Braunn) - 3:22
6.Searchin' Circles (Braunn) - 4:35
7.Pearly Gates (Anderson, Bushy) - 3:26
8.Lonely Hearts (Braunn) - 3:12
9.Before You Go (Braunn, Reitzes) - 5:33
10.Sun and Steel (Braunn) - 4:01
11.Lightnin'  (DeMartines, Kramer) - 3:02
12.Beyond the Milky Way  (Bushy, DeMartines) - 3:38
13.Free (Braunn) - 2:40
14.Scion (Braunn) - 5:02
15.Get It Out (Braunn) - 2:53
16.I'm Right, I'm Wrong  (DeMartines, Kramer) - 5:25
17.Watch the World Goin' By (Braunn) - 2:58
18.Scorching Beauty (Braunn) - 6:45

Iron Butterfly
*Erik Braunn - Guitar, Vocals
*Ron Bushy - Drums, Vocals
*Bill DeMartines - Keyboards, Vocals
*Phil Kramer - Bass, Vocals
*Howard Reitzes - Keyboards, Vocals
Guest Musicians
*Jerry Jumonville - Horn Arrangements, Soloist
*Julia Tillman - Vocals
*Maxine Willard Waters - Vocals
*June Deniece Williams - Vocals

More Iron Butterflies
1968  Heavy (Japan SHM-CD)
1968  In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida (Japan SHM-CD)
1969  Ball (Japan SHM-CD)
1970  Metamorphosis (Japan SHM-CD)

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Fantasy - Fantasy (1969-70 us, brilliant psychedelic rock with west coast aura and prog traces)

It was a time of peace signs, protests and tie-dye. It was 1967, the Summer of Love. Psychedelia was sweeping the globe and bands like the Vanilla Fudge, the Doors and the Jimi Hendrix Experience were on top of the world. Every major city had its own scene and in Miami the band on the rise was Fantasy.

Fantasy was formed in 1967 and was comprised of 5 teenagers, Billy Robbins (Lead Vocals). Bob Robbins (Bass). Jim DeMeo (Guitar), Mario Russo (Keyboards), and Greg Kimple (Drums). Fantasy started out playing at teen dances and graduated to performing at The Experience, a Miami underground hippie hangout. From 1967 through 1970 the band, led by its charismatic young singer Billy Robbins, was developing a following.

In 1968 The Experience closed its doors and morphed into Thee Image, a large converted bowling alley which featured the biggest artists of the day. Fantasy was chosen as the house band and every weekend they found themselves on the bill with the likes of Cream, Grateful Dead, The Doors, Steppenwolf, Iron Butterfly, Frank Zappa and Led Zeppelin to name a few. The bands regional popularity was soaring when tragedy struck. In the Summer of 1970, Fantasy's lead singer Billy Robbins disappeared.

Dates were postponed and then thirty days later, their worst fears were realized when Billy Robbins was found dead. Several months later the band began its search for a new singer, settling on a 16 year old female vocalist Jamene Miller. Where Billy Robbins was all charisma, Jamene was all talent. She got on board and the Fantasy train kept a rollin'. It was only a matter of months before the band signed a manager and hooked up with the Liberty/United Artists record label This album/CD, is the first and only true Fantasy album.

It is a pure and honest testimonial to its time. Unfortunately for Fantasy, egos, immaturity and questionable management fragmented the band. Where are they now? Fantasy lives on only in the music on this record.
by Greg Kimple

1. Happy (Vincent James DeMeo, Jr.) - 5.24
2. Come (Mario Anthony Russo) - 6.11
3. Wages Of Sin (Gregory Scott Kimple) - 3.37
4. Circus Of Invisible Men (Gregory Scott Kimple, Vincent James DeMeo, Jr.) - 5.32
5. Stoned Cowboy (David Robert Robbins, Gregory Scott Kimple, Mario Anthony Russo, Vincent James DeMeo, Jr.) - 5.55
6. Understand (Lydia Janene Miller) - 4.42
7. What's Next (Mario Anthony Russo) - 9.42
8. Painted Horse (Vincent James DeMeo, Jr.) - 4.35
9. I Got The Fever (H. B. Barnes) - 2.07
10.Stoned Cowboy (David Robert Robbins, Gregory Scott Kimple, Mario Anthony Russo, Vincent James DeMeo, Jr.) - 2.41
11.Understand (Lydia Janene Miller) - 3.20

*David Robert Robbins - Bass Guitar
*Lydia Jamene Miller - Lead Vocals
*Vincent James Demeo - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Mario Anthony Russo - Piano, Organ
*Gregory Scott Kimple - Drums

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Iron Butterfly - Heavy (1968 us, great heavy psych, debut album, japan SHM release)

The members of Iron Butterfly were still finding their footing as heard on these songs from their 1968 debut. The main reason they sounded so different on all following albums is because they lost three members shortly after the album was released.

Although these didn’t resonate in the same way as the music from their sophomore album, Heavy makes good on its title with unapologetically psychedelic rock played at loud volumes. Their trademark organ sets the tone on “Possession” before plodding riffs and rhythms cast spooky tones under Doug Ingle’s haunted-sounding vocals.

 “Unconscious Power” puts a little of the era’s go-go charms into the mix making for something that girls in paisley mini-dresses could groove to under a liquid light show, while the darker “You Can’t Win” lets loose some of that good old-fashioned acid-rock with heavier guitar riffs, foreboding lyrics and menacing keyboards that all come together to sound like a sibling song of a Doors tune. They saved the best for last with the instrumental “Iron Butterfly Theme.”
from Eye-Tune

1. Possession (Ingle) - 2:46
2. Unconscious Power (Bushy, Ingle, Weis) - 2:32
3. Get out of My Life, Woman (Toussaint) - 3:58
4. Gentle as It May Seem (DeLoach, Weis) - 2:28
5. You Can't Win (DeLoach, Smalls, Weis) - 2:41
6. So-Lo (DeLoach, Ingle) - 4:05
7. Look for the Sun (DeLoach, Ingle, Weis) - 2:14
8. Fields of Sun (DeLoach, Ingle) - 3:12
9. Stamped Ideas (DeLoach, Ingle) - 2:08
10.Iron Butterfly Theme (Ingle) - 4:34

Iron Butterfly
*Ron Bushy  - Drums
*Darryl DeLoach  - Guitar, Percussion, Tambourine, Vocals
*Doug Ingle  - Keyboards, Organ, Vocals
*Jerry Penrod  - Bass, Vocals
*Danny Weis  - Guitar

More Iron Butterflies
1968  In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida (Japan SHM-CD)
1969  Ball (Japan SHM-CD)
1970  Metamorphosis (Japan SHM-CD)

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Essra Mohawk - Primordial Lovers (1970 us, wondrous avant jazz painted with psych colors)

Essra Mohawk's 1970 album Primordial Lovers was the first of the singer-songwriter's recordings to properly reflect the scope of her talents. Although she had already released one LP, Sandy's Album Is Here At Last! (originally issued billed to Sandy Hurvitz and now also available as a CD reissue on Collectors' Choice Music), the production of that recording had not come out as she originally intended. More sympathetically produced by her husband of the time, Frazier Mohawk, Primordial Lovers showcases her eclectic blend of rock, soul, and jazz elements in a variety of arrangements. The result isn't easily comparable to fellow singer-songwriters of that or any other era.

Primordial Lovers was recorded for Reprise Records, home to numerous singer-songwriters as the label evolved into a more contemporary and rock-oriented company in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Initially signed to Frank Zappa's production company Bizarre, Essra moved to Reprise after label head Mo Ostin heard her perform with flute player Jeremy Steig at Steve Paul's Scene Club in New York. While her previous album had been recorded at New York's Apostolic Studios, Primordial Lovers would be cut in October and November of 1969 in California (primarily in Los Angeles, with some sessions taking place in San Francisco).

Frazier Mohawk had a good deal of production experience under his belt before Primordial Lovers. Originally known as Barry Friedman before changing his name in the late 1960s, he'd worked on notable recordings by Los Angeles psychedelic folk-rockers Kaleidoscope, blues-rock pioneers the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, goth goddess Nico, and acid-folkies the Holy Modal Rounders. "Primordial Lovers was a finished album, whereas the first album was released unfinished," points out Essra today. "For the first album, I was up against people who were keeping me from doing my art, who found pleasure in actually erasing great takes just for the hell of it." In contrast, "Frazier totally respected the artist and their art, and his function as a producer was to facilitate that. We pretty much agreed on everything and put on the best of what we had."

Though Essra's intention with her debut album had been to use backing musicians throughout the LP, most of the tracks on that release featured only her own piano accompaniment. On Primordial Lovers, she was able to play with an assortment of talented instrumentalists, the lineup varying from song to song. Among the notable contributors were guitarist Lee Underwood, who played on numerous Tim Buckley albums; Dallas Taylor, original drummer with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; and guitarist Doug Hastings, who'd been in Rhinoceros and done a brief stint with Buffalo Springfield. Passages such as the bridge to "I'll Give It to You Anyway" gave her the opportunity to use vocal arrangements she terms "vocal collages," one of the things she enjoys most about recording.

Essra was especially pleased to cut a few of the tracks with the band of guitarist Jerry Hahn, whom she'd come across while the group were playing at the famed Whisky A Go Go club in Hollywood. "They had that same quality that I have and enjoy in others, which is the ability to go anywhere musically, and not be pigeonholed, not be stuck in a single way of sounding," she observes. "I heard their fluidity and flexibility and therefore, [they were] more than capable to handle my music. So much so that we wanted to be a band. That would have been a great thing for music. But unfortunately my manager and their manager didn't see eye to eye, and didn't let us get together. Whereas Frazier Mohawk had the mindset to always follow the heart of the artist—'If they want to get together, put 'em together!' It's a shame."

Essra retains fond memories of the songs, several of which she continues to perform to this day. "My favorite was 'I'll Give It to You Anyway.' I still play that. 'I Am the Breeze' is one of my favorites. I enjoy the progression and how the music takes you, where the lyrics take you. Music is more about flowing than trying." In addition, "I still perform 'Spiral.' In fact I've recently been contacted by the Wilhelm Reich Foundation in San Francisco, and have written music to Wilhelm Reich lyrics because of that song. Because it was inspired by Wilhelm Reich, they gathered whatever few handful of music artists were influenced in any which way by Wilhelm Reich, and we're all writing music for this project."

In retrospect, Mohawk feels it might been wise to release "Thunder in the Morning," written on Lowell George's baby grand piano, as a single. "I guess it became a turntable hit. [That's] what they called it when an album cut got a lot of airplay. If they had been really on the case and wanted me to succeed, or wanted this project to succeed, they would have jumped on it and made a single out of it."

Essra sees similarities between another of the LP's tracks, "I Have Been Here Before," and a composition credited to David Crosby on Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's Déjà Vu album. "He did make me play it for him every time he saw me over at Stephen Stills's house," she says. "He had me play it for him a total of three times, three different occasions. Each time I implored him to let me play him something else. I said, 'I have lots of songs, David, let me play some.' 'No, I want to hear that one.' He always insisted that I just play that one. When I heard "Déjà Vu," it was real 'déjà vu' for me. 'Think I've heard that song before'...and since then, I hooked up for a while with Tim Drummond, who played bass with them, and played that song a lot. He said, 'Oh wow, it's even a lot of the same chord progression to the chorus.' I did think he should have not just given me some kind of credit, but probably a percentage of the song."

For this CD, a piano/vocal demo of "I Have Been Here Before" is one of five bonus tracks that have been added to the songs that appeared on the original release. Three of these—the aforementioned demo version of "I Have Been Here Before," "Someone Has Captured Me," and "Could You Lift Your Heart"—are piano/vocal demos done before the Primordial Lovers sessions, though the final two of those songs did not end up making the LP in any form. Essra did begin work on a subsequent recording of "Could You Lift Your Heart" at the album's sessions, but it wasn't finished, though she'd still like to complete a produced version of the song. She never attempted a fully produced track of "Someone Who's Captured Me," written about a relationship with someone she was living with in Mendocino in 1968.

Though done at the Primordial Lovers sessions, "Question," featuring Jerry Hahn on electric guitar, was another song that didn't make the album. "Drifter," the last of the bonus tracks, is so titled as it's inspired by the time in the late 1960s when Essra was going back and forth between her native Philadelphia and New York when she was playing with the Mothers of Invention. Though written between her first and second albums, she's not sure when she recorded it, and thinks it might been cut in the period between Primordial Lovers and her third album, Essra Mohawk.

Though pleased with the album, Mohawk was disappointed with how the cover come out. "The cover was supposed to be one set of bodies, so it would have been mostly white instead of mostly black," she explains. "It would have wrapped around the front and the back, and then superimposed would have been the sky, like a sunset or something like that, and the earth, so that the horizon between the heaven and earth would have matched, coincided with the line between the two bodies. Thus the title Primordial Lovers. That would have sold a lot, too. You know, bright colors sell. I'm a graphic artist, I'm not just a musician; I went to college for art. Bright colors attract the eye, not black."

Essra also regrets that the album didn't reach a wider audience. "I was inaccessible because nobody promoted me," she feels. "I wasn't given any opportunity to sell. There was no promotion, there was no tours, there was nothing. I didn't get to get out and play. Total mismanagement; no agent, no gigs, no nothing. Just my music. I gave it all. But I was not given in return what my music deserved." Primordial Lovers would be her only album for Reprise, and it would be a few years before she recorded her next LP, Essra Mohawk, also reissued on CD by Collectors' Choice Music.
by  Richie Unterberger 

1. I Am the Breeze - 3:12
2. Spiral - 4:08
3. I'll Give It To You Anyway - 3:21
4. I Have Been Here Before - 6:42
5. Looking Forward To the Dawn - 8:39
6. Thunder In the Morning - 4:34
7. Lion In the Wing - 6:43
8. It's Up To Me - 2:21
9. It's Been a Beautiful Day - 2:13
10.I Have Been Here Before (Piano Vocal) - 5:49
11.Someone Has Captured Me - 4:01
12.Could You Lift Your Heart - 3:42
13.Question - 4:48
14.Drifter - 3:20
All songs by Essra Mohawk

*Essra Mohawk – Keyboards, Vocals
*Jerry Hahn - Guitars
*Lee Underwood - Guitar
*Doug Hastings - Guitar
*Dallas Taylor - Drums
*George Marsh - Drums
*Mel Graves - Bass
*Jerry Penrod - Bass
*Joe Keefe - Vibraphone
*George St. John - Oboe
*Ben Wilson - Tenor Sax
*Cale Robinson - French Horn
*Ken Shroyer - Trombone
*Phil Teele - Bass Trombone
*Al Aarons, Warren Gale - Trumpets
*Bruce Cale, Ken Jenkins - Bass
*Zitro - Drums

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