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


Monday, April 30, 2012

The Beethoven Soul - The Beethoven Soul (1967 us, wonderful beat psych, baroque sunshine pop, Vinyl edition)

Six piece brass band, who came from L.A. (according to Fuzz Acid and Flower), despite the Al Kooper’s   composition “New York's My Home”. 

The band formed round 1966 and release their sole –self titled- album in 1967, sounding close to psychedelic sunshine, baroque pop, sometimes flirting with more garage beats.

After their disbanded in 1970, Lambert, Lewis and Hale all went on to play together in Pollution, a late '60s L.A.-based rock band with jazz undertones. 

A Really pleasant and much of the late sixties era feeling, this vinyl edition,  I’m not aware if there’s or going to be a CD reissue, until then, sit back, relax and make your self comfortable to enjoy the Beethoven Soul.

1. The Walls Are High (Saher, Ahari) - 2:19
2. Walkin' Through the Streets of My Mind (Millrose, Hess) - 2:58
3. A Violent Crime (Griffin, Farthingsworth XIV) - 2:27
4. The Price Is High (Roger Tillison) - 2:35
5. All Those Little Things (Roy Powell) - 2:05
6. She Won't See the Light (Wolfson, Carter) - 2:00
7. New York's My Home (Al Kooper) - 2:27
8. Dreams (Griffin, Gordon) - 2:28
9. Good Time Gal (Roger Tillison) - 2:19
10.Hey George (Roy Powell) - 1:59
11.Beggin' Your Pardon Lady (Griffin, Gordon) - 2:10

The Beethoven Soul
*Otis Hale - Woodwind 
*Andrea Kouratou - Strings 
*John Lambert - Bass  
*Dick Lewis - Keyboards , Brass
*Bill Powell - Guitar 
*Terry Nu - Percussions

Sky "Sunlight" Saxon And Firewall - Destiny's Children (1986 us, great neo garage psych, original Vinyl issue)

Saxon, who had not produced any new albums since 1978, returned on the U.K. Psycho label in 1984 with "Starry Ride", which featured support from Steppenwolf's Mars Bonfire (composer of "Born to Be Wild"), as well as former members of Iron Butterfly and Fraternity of Man. The Saxon/Bonfire collaboration reached full fruition in the group Firewall, who debuted with the album " Destiny's Children " in 1986 ( “A Groovy Thing”  features the same songs in a different order).

Together with (producer also) Frank Beeson and the Great Mars Bonfire, Sky co-penned all the songs, he had always the convenience easily to create songs, he did that here too, with one eye in the 60's, he tried to fit to the neo garage psych sound that was established in the 80's, demonstrating Saxon's enduring influence and appeal, particularly among that set of musicians, such as Rich Coffee by Thee Fourgiven, Steve Wynn from Dream Syndicate, Ric  Albin  and Dave Provost by the Droogs,  Ray McDonald from The Things,  Lee Joseph  by Yard Trauma, members from Plimsouls,  Dream 6 and others.  

A great set of playlist, with “Starving For Your Love” as a head line and titles like “The Spirit Of The Sixties”  preparing what comes up next.  I will be delightful to post  other records from musicians and bands, mentioned above,  if anyone is kind to ask for.  

Thank you all, for your love and support to Rockasteria.

1. Starving for Your Love - 3:36
2. Burning Down the Walls of the City - 3:24
3. Spirit of the Sixties (Return to the Sixties) - 4:40
4. Love Dog - 3:32
5. House of Mine - 3:32
6. Sha La La La It's a Groovy Thing - 3:07
7. Medley: Over-Reaction/Hollywood Blvd (Saxon, Bonfire, Beeson, Coffee, Joseph, Ganz, McDonald) - 7:21
All songs, by Sky Saxon, Mars Bonfire and Frank Beeson umless otherwise written.

*Sky "Sunlight" Saxon - Lead Vocals
*Mars Bonfire - "Cheeesey" Keyboards
*Rich Coffee - Guitar
*Roy McDonald - Drums
*Eddie Munoz - Guitar
*Dan West - Guitar
*Shelley Ganz - Guitar
*Leee Joseph - Bass
*Greg Stewart - Bass
*Toby Keil - Bass
*Steve Wynn - Vocals, Guitar
*David Provost - Vocals
*Ric Albin - Vocals
*Marc Platt - Vocals
*Alan Berman - Vocals
*Frank Beeson - Vocals
*Julie M. - Vocals
*Johnette - Vocals
*Tracy Ziegler - Vocals
*Julie Walker - Vocals

Othe Sky's releases:
1965-93  Pushin' Too Hard

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Sunday, April 29, 2012

New Age - All Around (1967 us, outstanding acid oriental psych folk, 2007 release)

After Pat Kilroy’s LP in 1966, which was already half song music and half folk-psychedelia with an eastern influence, Pat after some time had formed the trio called The New Age (a suiting name long before a genre was intended with that name), with mainly flute improviser Susan Graubard (now known as Susan Archuletta) and conga player Jeffrey Stewart.

There has been a serious 10-page article in Ugly Things (issue 25), written by David Biasotti, revealing the whole background story of Pat Kilroy and The New Age, with visions of others who surrounded him revealing also some series of events that led to more Indian associated ways of playing. Bob Amacker, for instance, who played on Pat’s first album, 'The Light of Day', on Elektra (1966) (and later, on Peter Walker’s raga guitar pieces album from ’67, besides more interesting music with many others, among them Tuvan musicians later on) tells how after his drums had been stolen, he could only afford tabla’s, immediately when he bought them he was introduced to an Indian teacher, and thus rolled into this different way of playing. 

He started to play them everywhere, even on bluegrass, along with Stefan Grossman. Through Stefan, Bob and Pat Kilroy came into contact with one another for Pat’s first album. After the sessions, Pat and Susan went on a long trip as if on a gypsy-like mission, and went to places like the UK (meeting Jansch/Renbourne), Spain and Morocco. 

When returned, Bob no longer wished to continue with Pat. Luckily, they also knew Jeffrey Stewart, from Big Sure (a wonderful place pressed between mountains, where they could not receive radio or TV transmissons, and therefore people very much enjoyed live music, the place where all their early developments had started). Jeffrey played voodoo drums, and so replaced Bob to form a new Trio called The New Age. Jeffrey was a cousin of John Francis Gunning, drummer for Country Joe and The Fish, and jammed together more often with them. 

Both bands got befriended and CJ&F even became fans of The New Age for they were the only exotic and acoustic band around. They joined stages regularly playing at Jaberwocky. Pat already since his solo album had been a serious student of Eastern mysticism, and took all musical and spiritual influences that taught him more seriously, was one of those people stimulating that influence everywhere. 

In Berkeley, the trio now took lessons at the American Society for Eastern Arts, the place where Ali Akhbar Khan was teaching. Pat studied sarod, Jeffry tabla and Susan learned koto, shamisen (sort of lute) and shakuhashi (flute, with Kodo Araki), and later Indian music on viola (with V.G. Jog, and then continued with Ali Akbar Khan, when V.G. Jog returned to India). The article states how early 1967 in that area Timothy Leary was encouraging people to “turn on, tune in, drop out”, Alan Ginsberg chanted, Grateful Dead and Quicksilver Messenger Service were gathering and huge crowds attending, and LSD was brought into the mix. 

Before the New Age recording, Susan once was unexpectedly invited to jam along with Dizzy Gillespie. She also had occasionally played with The Floating Lotus Magic Opera. Also revealed in the article that the free-form viola on “Dance around the sun” was slightly influenced by Sun Ra. Unfortunately the album was never released because Pat became seriously ill with cancer and died rather quickly. It took until 2006 for a first LP reissue. This first CD reissue completes the sessions with 6 bonus tracks which give very much an idea how the sessions were developed. The extra tracks sound a bit more like first ideas of improvisations, and a song, but they are equally charming and enjoyable.

The nature of the recording sounds for a part logical to our ears, like improvised psychedelic acoustic music, with a very raga-alike feeling, taking the time for instrumental (flute / guitar / conga) improvisations, but although the time was right for this to happen rarely such sessions were recorded or even published at the time (like Seventh Son’s "Raga" from 1966). 

More than this I can also notice a secular celebrative influence (the article said Pat used to sing in a choir at Sunday masses), revealing unusual but still rather intuitive vocal techniques which hold the middle between Sufi chanting like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, a less in rhythm structured and more intuitive Indian vocal-less improvisation and jazz mood improvisation, probably a self invented compromise reflecting ideas from Arab / Middle Eastern and Indian origins. Another fantasy, like “Alone in Wonderland” recalls the theatrical idea of a flute player with snake in a basket. 

The flute improvisations are always brilliant, but also the guitar performs raga-like evolutions, while the conga replaces the tabla, but also with a different character to Indian styled tabla. Here and there viola, bass, and droning tamboura can be heard, and song inspirations are also paired with the importance of the improvisational freedom. The absolutely rewarding album of 7 tracks reveals a perfect, psychedelic folk mood and can indeed be regarded as being ahead of it’s time, even when there were more comparable albums hidden with similar ideas around the same period.

The bonus tracks were recorded live in a radio show on KPFA-FM in Berkeley, months before they recorded the album. Included on some of these tracks is the acoustic bass playing of Mark Levinson, who also recorded on the album. On the bonus track “Bamboo mood” the percussion is more African in nature.

Susan continued with her approach towards music. She worked with electronic composer Don Buchla and Christopher Tree. In 1972 she recorded the Habibiyya album, together with ex-Mighty Baby members. 

This album, at the best moments, to a degree continues something of The New Age approach, be it with a few more instruments, like koto, and with more instrumental music. She also recorded (on flute) "Tassajara" with Robbie Basho on The Falconer's Arm, Part I. (Robbie also asked her to collaborate with him on a Sufi Opera that he told her he was writing in the 80s. He died unexpectedly before that happened). Other later groups she was involved with are Cloud Chamber and the Now Ensemble.

*please note that all copies of this CD have brief digital glitches on tracks 12 & 13 -- these are not going to be corrected or repressed      

1. When I Walk In The Trees (La La La) - 3:48
2. Sun Song Ridge - 8:04
3. Dance Around The Sun - 7:59
4. Bhairavi - 9:26
5. Highr Than A Kite - 8:56
6. Alone In The Wonderland - 3:07
7. All Around (Adagio) - 5:08
8. Bamboo Mood - 2:18
9. Light Of Aquarius - 1:29
10.Ode To Satie - 5:10
11.Ocean Song - 6:33
12.When I Walk In The Trees (La La La) (Different Vesion) - 3:31
13.The River - 3:43
All songs by Susan Graubard and Pat Kilroy
Bonus Tracks from 8 - 13.

New Age
*Pat Kilroy - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Bass, Spanish Cowbells, Bell Tree
*Susan Graubard - Silver Flute, Bamboo Flutes, Viola, Tamboura
*Jeffrey Stewart - Conga, Drums, Tabla
*Mark Levinson - Acoustic, Electric Bass
*Bruce Langhorne - Tambourine (Without Metal Jingles)

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Northwind - Sister, Brother, Lover... (1971 uk, splendid progressive jazz rock with scattered latin shades, bonus tracks issue)

Northwind were a 1970/71 band from Glasgow formerly known as Power of Music.  Rock music was changing then and this lot were well into the melodic rock that was coming into vogue at that time.  Main feature was the twin Les Paul gold tops used by their guitar players.

We saw them three or four times. At the Caledonian Hotel in Ayr  - at least twice and an open air concert on the Low Green supported by local band Snids among others.   Northwind being hugely popular in the town though to start with under their former name they could only pull 50 or so into the Queen's Hall in 1969.   Their then set  included extraordinarily good versions of Pink Floyd's "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" and Traffic's "40,000 Headmen" but the highlight of the night was their own "Castanettes".

So popular did Northwind become in Dunoon that they even got booked to play the Grammar School's 6th Year dance at Christmas 1970 and put on a terrific show.  Dave thinks the band also supported the Keef Hartley Band on a British tour around that time and also recalls seeing them after Brian Young had left. He had been replaced by a singer who didn't fit in - and this bloke's vocal performance on "Castanettes" is one of Dave's few unhappy memories of the group.

Their 1971 “Brothers, Sisters, Love” is a highly rated rural progressive-rock. Since its first reissue back in 1994 it has been one of the favourites of collectors of the label. Now re-mastered, it includes 2 rare bonus tracks. The band's sound has been likened to that of the twin lead guitar style of early Wishbone Ash with refined vocals. The songs are spiced with tasteful organ/piano and additional percussion throughout. Of the many stand-out tracks Quill, a loose-chugging, exquisite Osibisa-style rocker, is a minor classic.

1. Home For Frozen Roses - 3:53
2. Acimon And Noiram - 6:23
3. Castanettes (Young, Barr) - 4:59
4. Sweet Dope - 3:30
5. Bystandin' (Barr) - 3:05
6. Guten Abend - 5:52
7. Peaceful (Young, Barr) - 5:06
8. Many Tribesmen - 5:58
9. Quill (Brannan) - 4:05
10.Here I Lie Watching - 4:03
11.If The Sune Were But A Candle - 4:23
All songs by Brian Young unless else stated

*Dave Scott - Drums, Percussion
*Hugh Barr - Electric Guitar
*Colin Somerville - Organ, Piano
*Tam Brannan - Vocals, Electric Bass
*Brian Young - Vocals, Electric, Acoustic Guitar

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The Yankee Dollar - The Yankee Dollar (1968 us, excellent west coast psychedelia, 2002 edition)

According to the liner notes on their album, drummer Nick Alexander, singers Liza Gonzales and Dave Riordan, guitarist Greg Likens, keyboard player Bill Masuda and bassist Bill Reynolds met while students at San Luis Obispo's Cal Poly.

Signed by Dot, their 1968 debut teamed the band with producer Frank Slay. Musically "The Yankee Dollar" was nothing less than wonderful. Gonzales and Riordan were both gifted with nice voices and on tracks such as "Sanctuary" and "City Sidewalks" effortlessly trading lead vocals. Backed by Likens' fuzz guitar (check out the great solo on "Live and Let Live"), Masuda's stabbing organ chords and occasional sound effects, the collection sported a sound that successfully blended folk-rock with Jefferson Airplane-styled psychedelic.

Musically the set offered up a standard mix of popular covers (Donovan's "Catch the Wind", Dylan's "The Times, They Are A-Changin'" and Chet Power's "Let's Get Together") and original material. While the covers were all nicely done, group penned originals such as "Follow Your Dream's Way" and "Johann Sebastian Cheetah" were even better. Inexplicably the set failed to sell. The band apparently subsequently called it quits.

1.  Sanctuary (Carter, Gilbert) - 2:16
2.  Good Old Friends (Carter, Gilbert) - 2:36
3.  Catch The Wind (Donovan) - 2:55
4.  If In Swimming (David Riordan) - 3:53
5.  Follow Your Dream's Way (Greg Likens) - 6:36
6.  Live And Let Live (Carter,Gilbert) - 2:18
7.  City Sidewalks (Carter,Gilbert) - 2:56
8.  Let's Get Together (Chet Powers) - 4:30
9.  Winter Boy (Buffy St. Marie) - 2:22
10.The Times, They Are A-Changin' (Bob Dylan) - 3:06
11. Johann Sebastian Cheetah (David Riordan, Greg Likens, Freeman) - 3:04

The Yankee Dollar
*Nick Alexander - Drums, Percussion
*Liza Gonzales - Vocals
*Greg Likens - Guitar
*Bill Masuda - Organ
*Bill Reynolds - Bass
*Dave Riordan - Vocals

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Seeds - Pushin' Too Hard (1965-93 us, superb garage heavy psych, 2007 double CD compilation)

"We were pretty seedy, so we thought The Seeds would be a good name," explained singer Sky Saxon of the legendary garage rock group he formed in LA in 1965. "We were seeds, too, like seeds that grow. We must have launched 10,000 bands." 

One of the great West Coast groups of the mid-to-late '60s, The Seeds only had one hit - Pushin' Too Hard - but their impact on music has been immeasurable.Tough, driving and primitive, they were 'punk' long before anyone knew what punk was. Something about their music always seemed dark and deeply unsettling, though the songs themselves - Can't Seem To Make You Mine, Pushin' Too Hard, Mr Farmer - were as catchy as hell. Little wonder later punk giants The Stooges, Johnny Thunders and The Ramones would cite them as an important influence. 

Raised as a Mormon in Salt Lake City, Utah, Sky Saxon had been making records under the name Richie Marsh (or variations thereon) since the early '60s, but by early 1965 he'd caught the garage-rock bug and formed a Stones-inspired group called The Seeds. Singer/bassist Saxon and guitarist Jan Savage were joined by Michigan emigres Daryl Hooper and Rick Aldridge, on keyboards and drums, respectively. 

With LA's garage-rock scene exploding around them, they took to wearing stylish, Sunset Strip clothes, and wore their hair in long, girlish bowl-cuts. Saxon - famous for having the longest hair around - proved to be the perfect frontman, tall, charismatic and good-looking - if a little mystical and crazed. "Sky was the most far-out, and the poet of the group," recalled Daryl Hooper. "Jan had a greatly admired guitar style. Rick was the foundation of the beat... I had classical training, played jazz, rock, blues, etc. I wrote a lot of melodies and did a lot of arranging. We had a good sound together right away."

 In early summer 1965, a residency at Bido Lidos on Sunset Strip led to a deal with local label GNP which released The Seeds' debut single, the Stonesy Can't Seem To Make You Mine, that July. Moody and tense, it flopped - as indeed did its stripped-down, growling follow-up, Pushin' Too Hard. That was, until the summer of 1966, when a Los Angeles DJ called Huggie Boy belatedly started to play Pushin' regularly on his show. 

The Seeds suddenly found themselves enjoying the same cult success as groups like Love, The Count Five and The Leaves, while riotously upstaging bigger names like Jefferson Airplane when they opened for them that autumn. "Pushin' Too Hard was a sign of the times, but it's turned into an anthem," remembered Saxon in the '80s. The song's don't-push-me attitude was inspired, he explained, by the closing down of a Sunset Strip club called Pandora's Box. "People used to hang out there, brothers and sisters, then they tore it down and turned it into a car park. 

The song's about that - and arguing with some girl." Two stylistically similar albums, The Seeds and A Web Of Sound, cemented The Seeds' musical character as a sort of rawer, meaner, punkier, bluesier version of Love and The Doors. To capitalise on their success, in 1967 the group acquired a new manager, lord' Tim Hudson, a Brit working as a DJ in LA, whose claim to fame would be providing the voice of Dizzy the vulture in that year's Walt Disney film adaptation of The Jungle Book.

Under his aegis, the group cut an overwrought, ambitious flower-power concept album called Future, kicked off by the suitably trippy March Of The Flower Children; however, the response to this strange psychedelic adventure, even in their West Coast stronghold, was muted at best, and the group figured it was time to move on. It was while browsing the racks in a local record shop that Saxon got the idea for their next album. 

Standing beside him was blues legend Muddy Waters, whom he asked for a new song that The Seeds could record. Muddy declined the request, but was generous enough to agree to write the sleevenote to the heavily blues-inspired album the group decided to cut: A Full Spoon Of Seedy Blues, credited to The Sky Saxon Blues Band. By this time, however, interest in The Seeds had waned, and their last recording for GNP, Wild Blood/Fallin' Of The Edge Of My Mind (produced by out-there West Coast industry guru Kim Fowley), trickled out in late 1967. 

A coruscating live album, Raw & Alive At Merlin's Music Box, subsequently fulfilled the GNP contract, before Saxon took a new version of The Seeds to MGM for an ill-fated, two-single spell there at the turn of the new decade. By the early 70s, around the time Pushin' Too Hard became a highlight of Nuggets - Lenny Kaye's influential compilation of '60s US garage rock - Saxon had fallen in with the followers of mystical West Coast swami Father Yod, who cut nine albums in the 70s as the band Ya Ho Wa 13. 

Over the last three decades, Saxon has occasionally re-surfaced from the bosom of this religious cult, resurrecting The Seeds for tours in 1989 and again (with Savage, who had been working in real estate) in 2003. The group currently still performs, though Sky is now the only original member and is prone to sermonising at length about Father Yod's divinity, the evils of Bush's warplanes and giving away his future royalties to dogs. But while Saxon's musical output and behaviour has long been a little eccentric. 

The Seeds' early recordings for GNP remain as a testament to the singer and his group's genius at taking three chords, a neat hook-line, a keyboard riff and a fistful of attitude, and turning it into the kind of gritty rock'n'roll that. 40 years after it was made, still won't be welcome in polite society. 
by Pat Gilbert

Disc 1 
1.Pushin' Too Hard - 2:36
2.No Escape (Lawrence, Savage, Saxon) - 2:15
3.Can't Seem to Make You Mine - 3:02
4.Try to Understand - 2:51
5.Nobody Spoil My Fun - 3:52
6.Lose Your Mind - 2:18
7.It's a Hard Life - 2:39
8.The Other Place - 2:25
9.Mumble Bumble - 2:30
10.You Can't Be Trusted - 2:10
11.Excuse, Excuse - 2:20
12.Daisy Mae - 1:57
13.Night Time Girl - 2:37
14.Evil Hoodoo (Hooper, Saxon) - 5:14
15.Mr. Farmer - 2:51
16.Satisfy You (Savage, Saxon) - 2:05
17.Pictures and Designs (Hooper, Saxon) - 2:43
18.Tripmaker (Hooper, Tybalt) - 2:47
19.I Tell Myself (Tybalt) - 2:30
20.A Faded Picture (Hooper, Saxon) - 5:20
21.Rollin' Machine (Saxon, Tybalt) - 2:32
22.Just Let Go (Hooper, Savage, Saxon) - 4:20
23.Up in Her Room - 9:58
24.900 Million People Daily (AllMaking Love) - 5:03

Disc 2 
1.A Thousand Shadows (Hooper, Savage, Saxon) - 2:33
2.March of the Flower Children (HooperHooper, Saxon) - 2:54
3.Travel with Your Mind (Hooper, Savage, Saxon) - 3:11
4.Flower Lady and Her Assistant - 3:32
5.Now a Man (Hooper, Savage, Saxon) - 3:22
6.Two Fingers Pointing on You - 3:17
7.Where Is the Entrance Way toPlay? - 2:55
8.The Wind Blows Your Hair (Bigelow, Saxon) - 2:32
9.Six Dreams - 3:15
10.Fallin' (Hooper, Saxon) - 7:50
11.Pretty Girl (Johnson) - 2:05
12.Moth and the Flame - 3:51
13.I'll Help You (Carry Your Money to the Bank) - 3:31
14.Plain Spoken - 2:54
15.One More Time Blues (Johnson) - 2:28
16.Creepin' About - 2:47
17.Fallin' Off the Edge (Of My Mind) (Cerf, Fowley) - 2:55
18.Wild Blood (Cerf, Fowley) - 2:25
19.She's Wrong - 2:15
20.Chocolate River (Hooper, Saxon) - 3:12
21.Sad and Alone (Hooper, Saxon) - 2:50
22.Mr. Farmer - 3:48
23.Satisfy You (Savage, Saxon) - 2:09
24.Can't Seem to Make You Mine - 2:40
25.Pushin' Too Hard - 2:59
All titles by Sky Saxon except where indicated.

 The Seeds
*Rick Andridge - Drums
*Daryl Hooper - Keyboards
*Jan Savage - Guitar
*Sky Saxon - Vocals, Bass

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Various Artists - Psych Bites, Vol. 2 (1968-74 multinational, colorful fuzzy guitar, organ psychedelic explorations)

A melting pot of twisted mantras and wide-eyed rockers that are almost religiously defined by the volume of their fuzz boxes. This global garden of unearthly delights hosts a variety of rare species including the last ever mod boogaloo from 1970, presented by the honorary Spencer Mac and the pure psychosis of Deccas African warriors Ofo and the Black Company with their distorted take on strumming the guitar taking on new levels of hysteria for lovers of acid, fuzz and punk.

The Psychomaniac offers a complete course in horticultural hallucajenics for the headcase with Indian chants, psychos and neurotic reactions. Its all here in its most frenzied form of enlightenment for your spiritual consumption.

Artists - Tracks
1. Zappataa Schmidt - Someone in the Crowd - 3:30
2. Chartbusters - Tomorrow Night - 2:45
3. Spencer Mac - Blues Up in Down Town - 3:36
4. Messengers - In the Jungle - 3:09
5. Anvil Chorus - Rhythm Is the Way - 2:45
6. Frumpy - Morning - 3:24
7. The Revells - Indian Ropeman - 3:01
8. Blackbirds 2000 - Let's Do It Together - 2:49
9. Kannibal Komix - Neurotic Reaction - 2:40
10.Krokodil - Blue Flashing Circle - 3:28
11.Rote Gitarren - Anfang - 2:07
12.Chartrand - Ani-Kuni - 3:29
13.Athanor - Urizen (Your Reason) - 4:37
14.Rattles - Where Is the Friend - 2:23
15.Danta - Mau Mau - 3:32
16.Dave Dean - Jamaica - 1:59
17.Ofo The Black Company - Beautiful Daddy - 3:40
18.Ofo The Black Company - Allah Wakbarr - 3:31
19.Janie - Psycho - 2:11
20.Orange Peel - I Got No Time - 2:51

Psych Bites Vol. 1

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Corporation - Get On Our Swing / Hassels In My Mind (1970 us, brilliant fuzz psych rock, 2008 remaster)

In late 1967, Kenny Berdoll and Gerry Smith of the Brehmen Caste got a gig at the Galaxy in Cudahy, a South Side Milwaukee suburb. They named the band Eastern Mean Time and Pat McCarthy joined. EMT went through several musicians until the Kondos brothers came aboard in early 1968. It was apparently a joint meeting of the minds, as Nick Kondos' version is that he and John were looking for musicians with which to form their new band.

It was John who suggested the new name, and Danny Peil was the last to join. "He was working in Las Vegas," said Nick, "but we convinced him to come back to Milwaukee. We showed him what we had and he said, This is what I've been looking for. I've had enough of the night clubs.' He had the voice, the range and the strength.

Then we felt we had the right combination." Initially the majority of their repertoire covered Vanilla Fudge, Cream, Hendrix and other psych flavoured material, but they had an agreement with the club owner to rehearse there in the afternoons and work on their originals, gradually introducing more of them into the gig. In a 1975 interview for the Milwaukee Bugle American, Berdoll said, "We built lighting systems and made the Galaxy into a psychedelic club. We'd sit down in my basement and invent new ways to do lighting and stuff, and that all carried over into the Corporation.

The billing that we had was like The Biggest Light Show in Town with the Largest Projections' - a lot of visuals. We started doing college dates and a few other bars, also trips to Chicago, where we played the Aragon Ballroom, and a few as far as Minneapolis." In 1969, with the help of the senior Kondos, the band bought half interest in the Bastille, a club near Lincoln & Howell.

"The Bastille was a psychedelic thing because we put all our ideas into that place," said Berdoll. "It was an old movie theatre with all the seats removed." By this time the Corporation was doing all original material, most of it written by John Kondos, and some written by Nick. "We had already written 90 per cent of those songs when we had the Eastmen Blues Band," said Nick. "We probably could have recorded eight or nine albums." With the Bastille as a home base, the band also gigged occasionally at O'Brad's on the East Side, and they opened for Cream and other names at the Scenem downtown.

While in Detroit for the initial recordings, they appeared at a college festival in Ann Arbor along with Procol Harum, SRC and the MC5. "We went over really big there," said Kondos. "Next thing, we were doing love-ins and things at Washington Park and Grant Park with the Messengers and some others. It was all hippies and we were the ones that drew the people in." For Berdoll, the high point in the Corporation's existence was right after the album came out. "We played a really big 'be-in' at a park on the South Side. About 10,000 people showed up; it was really electric; the adrenalin was flowing.

Towards the end we had to do several encores and the thing was almost erupting into a riot. Everything was political back then, like the draft card burnings and such." Perhaps more extensive touring might have propelled that first album to greater heights, but except for Chicago and St Paul, the band remained local. There were no television appearances, and nothing else to build a greater audience. Kondos said that a European tour was in the planning stages, but it fell apart when disagreements with Capitol Records surfaced.

The Corporation travelled to Los Angeles to meet with the label, the Kondos brothers and their uncle handled the negotiations. "They treat you like kings," said Nick. "They set you up with the hottest girls; we went to a jam featuring Jimi Hendrix, and then they get the drugs out. But we found out that the album was selling and we didn't get a penny. We had an argument with Capitol and that's how the contract ended. Maybe we were a little impatient.

You give it everything you've got and, if you want to be a star, you have to let them use you and abuse you for a while, and THEN worry about the money." By July 1969, only about 18 months after the band had jelled, and only five months after dropping off Billboard's LP chart, the Corporation was no more. Besides the break with Capitol, drugs were a contributing factor, and perhaps egos got in the way. "No single person was an angel," said Kondos. "It was everybody's fault; everybody screwed up." Gerry Smith was the first to leave the band, relocating to Florida.

The remaining members played a couple of gigs and then decided to split up. Alexander Kondos, along with his brother, attorney Michael, and his two sons travelled to Los Angeles to meet with record companies. "We wanted someone to hear us live," said Nick. "We were prepared." With no demo tape, they aroused enough interest for Capitol to send producer John Rhys (pronounced Reese) to hear them. "I was one of their only guys outside of Hollywood," said Rhys, who spent about a week in Milwaukee and saw the band at several places. "I liked them, I liked their concept. I liked the Kondos brothers; John was a great talent." Nick added that Rhys was "excited as hell" after hearing just two songs on the first night and, by the last set, he was practically ready to record.

The Capitol LP was cut at Ralph Terrana's Terra Shirma Studio in Detroit, where Rhys lived at the time. "There were no problems at all," he said. Berdoll explained the evolution of 'India', the John Coltrane piece that fills an entire side of the LP: "It started off as a break song. We'd do it for three minutes one time, then five, then ten, and soon it was a 20-minute song." "Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels were setting up in another studio," recalled Kondos. "We blew their minds. Ryder came down and said, 'You guys are ahead of your time – more ahead than the people are ready for.'

" The subsequent material was recorded at Dave Kennedy Studios in Milwaukee. "They were just flying too high," said Rhys. "One song had a 16-bar flute intro and John couldn't get past eight bars. Then one day he came out of the men's room and said, "We can't go on with this - you're a Cancer and I'm a Sagittarius. This just ain't gonna work." But according to Nick, it all worked out in the end. "The second album is a lot better than the first," he said.

To listen to this CD, get ready for a trip - in the 60s- 70s sense of the word. Overall, the Corporation employed liberal use of instrumental colours, a dynamic range of vocals - from gentle to scream, solo to group - experimental and thoughtful arrangements (with many twists and turns combining elements of pop, garage rock, blues, hard rock and psychedelic), dissonance and high energy (with lots of busy drums). Expect sudden changes in direction. And a brief whistle call thrown into a few cuts is fun.
by Gary Myers

1. You Make Me Feel Good (J. Kondos, Peil) - 2:32
2. Sitting by the Sea (J. Kondos) - 2:59
3. Heard the News (N. Kondos) - 4:56
4. I Do Love Her (Berdoll, J. Kondos) - 2:48
5. Yes I Know (J. Kondos, N. Kondos) - 2:31
6. Get on My Swing (J. Kondos, N. Kondos) - 2:55
7. Walking Along (J. Kondos, N. Kondos) - 3:22
8. Hassels in My Mind (J. Kondos, Peil) - 5:28
9. My Child, He Walks Alone (J. Kondos, Peil) - 9:58
10.Sky Faces (J. Kondos, Peil) - 6:30
11.Changes (J. Kondos, Peil) - 4:07
12.Book on a Shelf (J. Kondos) - 4:36

The Corporation
*John (Alexander) Kondos - Flute, Guitar, Keyboards, Harmonica
*Nicholas Kondos - Drums
*Patrick McCarthy - B3 Organ
*Daniel Peil - Vocals
*Gerard Smith - Guitar
*Kenny Berdoll - Bass

Other Corporations:
1969  The Corporation

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Brainbox - Brainbox (1969-70 holland, brilliant psychedelic progressive blues rock, 2011 esoteric bonus tracks remaster)

Being an avid Focus fan during the 70’s (Focus At The Rainbow is for me one of the best live albums ever) I was familiar with Dutch band Brainbox, albeit in name only. They figure in the Focus family tree due to the presence of the great Jan Akkerman on guitar and the equally fine Pierre van der Linden on drums who both feature on this 1969 self titled debut release along with singer Kazimierz (Kaz) Lux and bassist Andre Reijnen.

Expecting to hear traces of the sound that would define Focus, I was a little surprised by much of the musical style by this Dutch quartet. They produce a variant of British blues rock as popularised by exponents like Rory Gallagher and The Groundhogs with a touch of earthy American blues thrown in for good measure.

After the band began rehearsing in early 1969 much of the songs including Dark Rose and Woman's Gone seem to have originated from jam sessions, and it shows.

For example the lengthy Sea Of Delight (which took up most of side 2 on the original vinyl release) seems to be one long bout of spontaneous improvisation sandwiched between Lux’s brief opening and closing vocals. Akkerman’s playing here is not too dissimilar to Peter Banks’ style of soloing with Yes which is not surprising given that Banks was an early admirer of Akkerman’s technique. The bass and drum solos are also impressively performed; in fact these guys could hold their own with most any other rhythm partnership from the same era.

The only other song from the original album that isn’t a cover version is the opening Dark Rose. In addition to some fast and frantic playing from Akkerman and inspirational drumming from van der Linden, guest Tom Barlage adds some spirited flute soloing of his own. Probably the most striking aspect however is Lux’s raunchy, expressive voice which sits somewhere between Robert Plant and Rod Stewart.

The album’s cover versions include three well known and two not so well known tunes. In the latter category are two authentic American blues numbers in the shape of Jimmy Reed’s Baby, What You Want Me To Do and Lowell Fulson’s Sinner's Prayer. The style here perfectly suits Lux’s convincingly raw delivery. Of the others, Tim Hardin’s poignant Reason To Believe is given a jaunty rhythm and is nicely performed (two years before Rod Stewart made it famous) whilst a reverential version of the George Gershwin standard Summertime features Akkerman on Hammond organ in addition to guitar.

For Paul Simon’s wistful Scarborough Fair the guitarist switches to acoustic for some rootsy folk picking. He’s assisted here by Barlage’s flute which in addition to Ian Anderson ironically evokes Thijs van Leer’s playing in Focus.

The remainder of this re-mastered reissue is made up of no less than eleven bonus tracks almost doubling the length of the original album. These songs come courtesy of the string of Dutch single releases the band enjoyed between 1969 and 1970 bringing together the complete output of this line-up. Several of these songs enjoyed commercial success and it’s not too difficult to see why. They are mostly fairly catchy, mid-tempo affairs with lead voice to the fore and noticeably less ambitious guitar work as the tracks progress.

The two songs that probably comes the closest to the sound on the album are Woman's Gone and Down Man. In the former Akkerman’s bluesy licks echo Eric Clapton (albeit with a harder edge) as well as featuring some fine piano playing from guest Rob Hoeke whilst Kazimierz’s husky delivery during the latter this time evokes Steve Marriot.

Of the rest, the memorable ode to the band’s home town Amsterdam - The First Days includes some surprisingly funky guitar work whilst the boogie riff driving So Helpless recalls Humble Pie. The mid-tempo rocker Doomsday Train is reminiscent of The Who with a touch of AC/DC in contrast with the laidback country rock feel of The Smile [Old Friends Have A Right To] with a vocal style that pre-empts The Eagles and America. In fact the majority of these latter songs sees the band evolving from there earlier bluesy style into a more laidback soft rock sound.

Jan Akkerman left Brainbox soon after the album’s original release although he didn’t so much jump as was pushed. By all accounts the band’s dictatorial manager wasn’t happy with the fact that the guitarist was occasionally moonlighting with other musicians including an organist/flautist by the name of Thijs van Leer. This of course opened the door for the formation of Focus and a year or so later Pierre van der Linden would also jump the Brainbox ship and join them.

In the meantime Brainbox continued with no less than three guitarists appearing in Akkerman’s wake as well as a replacing the bassist, drummer and even the vocalist at various points before the band disbanded around 1972. The subsequent years has seen several Brainbox reunions and gatherings for one-off concerts and currently a line-up that includes Kaz Lux and Pierre van der Linden (but no Jan Akkerman) regularly performs in the Netherlands and is also putting together a new album.

To the end, this release does demonstrate another dimension to their playing and overall the musicianship is superb throughout. Lux’s singing is also a revelation, possessing one of the best rock voices I’ve heard for some time. If you remember the band from first time around with affection the wealth of material here makes it highly recommended.
by Geoff Feakes

1. Dark Rose (Kazimierz Lux, Jan Akkerman) - 5:20
2. Reason To Believe (Tim Hardin) - 2:23
3. Baby, What You Want Me To Do (Jimmy Reed) - 2:36
4. Scarborough Fair (Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel) - 6:26
5. Summertime (George Gershwin) - 4:22
6. Sinner's Prayer (Lowell Fulsom) - 2:31
7. Sea Of Delight (K. Lux, J. Akkerman, A. Reijnen , P. Van Der Linden) - 16:58
8. Woman's Gone (Kazimierz Lux) - 4:14
9. Down Man (Kazimierz Lux, Jan Akkerman) - 2:38
10.Amsterdam, The First Days (K. Lux, J. Akkerman, A. Reijnen, P. Van Der Linden) - 3:11
11.So Helpless (Herman Meyer) - 2:28
12.To You (Kazimierz Lux) - 3:11
13.Cruel Train (Rudy De Queljoe, Kazimierz Lux) - 2:21
14.Between Alpha And Omega (Rudy De Queljoe, Kazimierz Lux) - 2:19
15.Doomsday Train (Herman Meyer) - 3:00
16.Good Morning Day (Kazimierz Lux) - 2:40
17.The Smile (Old Friends Have A Right To) (Kazimierz Lux ) - 2:55
18.The Flight (John Schuursma) - 3:13

*Jan Akkerman - Guitars, Organ, Vibes, Bass Guitar
*Pierre Van Der Linden - Drums
*Andre Reynen - Bass Guitar
*Kaz Lux - Vocals, Percussion
*Tom Barlage - Flutes
*Rob Hoeke - Piano

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Fusion - Border Town (1969 us, fascinating blues rock with jazz and folk drops, Wounded Bird edition)

This one's largely unknown to folks, though the fact renown guitarist Ry Cooder provided extensive support throughout their sole LP makes that lack of recognition somewhat surprising.

Bassist Gary Marker had been a member of The Rising Songs (along with  Cooder and Taj Mahal), worked extensively with Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band, and together with guitarist Bill Wolff had been a member of The Sound Machine.  Wolff had also been a late inning member of The Peanut Butter Conspiracy.  Together with guitarist Cooder, brass and woodwind player Harvey Lane, singer/multi-instrumentalist Rick Luther, bassist Gary Marker, and drummer Richard Matzkin they had all been in a short-lived L.A.-based outfit called The Jazz Folk.

With the outfit quickly collapsing Lane, Luther, and Marker recruiting guitarist Randy California, drummer Ed Cassidy, and bassist John Locke for The New World Jazz Company.  California, Cassidy, and Locke quickly went off on their own forming Spirit.  Lane, Luther, and Marker then formed Fusion, recruiting guitarist Bill Wolff and drummer Kevin Kelly.  Kelly quickly left to join The Byrds.  Matzkin was then brought back in as drummer.

Produced by Merker (who also co-wrote nine of the ten racks with Luther), 1969's "Fusion" powered by Luther's gravelly voice and Cooder's distinctive slide (he played on seven tracks), material like 'Goin' Up To Clarksdale', 'Somebody's Callin' My Name' and 'Another Man' found the band pushing a unique mixture of blues and early Americana roots rock.  Due in large measure to Cooder's slide (check out the opener 'Struttin' Down Main Street'), the results were immensely appealing to my ears, though difficult to describe.

About the closest I can get is having you recall some of Cooder's earliest LPs (perhaps "Ry Cooder"), or try to picture a down and dirty version Little Feat with Lowell George coming off a month long bender while singing with a mouth full of marbles ...   The album also included a couple of numbers that were a clear nod to their earlier jazz roots.  'What Magic?' which segued into 'Time Of The Ostrich Head', and the closing instrumental 'Erebus' were jazz-rock fusion efforts that were interesting, but probably had limited appeal for rock fans.

In addition to the jazzy interludes, 'One More Hand' was little more than a sleep inducing jam and 'Cajun Two Step' was ... well a strange klezmer-cum-country-flavored number.  Still, the winners far outnumber the mistakes.  Rough and ragged, but in a good way, I bet these guys would have been a blast to have heard in a small, smoky blues club.

1. Struttin' Down Main Street - 4:10
2. Goin' Up To Clarksdale - 3:30
3. Somebody's Callin' My Name - 2:43
4. One More Hand - 4:53
5. Another Man - 3:33
6. What Magic? - 2:34
7. Time Of The Ostrich Head (Gibson, Luther) - 3:56
8. Cajun Two-Step - 3:05
9. News Of Salena - 2:52
10. Erebus  (Harvey Lane) - 6:20
All songs by Rick Luther and Gary Marker unless as else written.

*Harvey Lane - Clarinet, Flute, Soprano, Alto, Tenor Sax
*Ricky Luther - Clavinet, Drums, Piano, Vibraphone, Vocals
*Gary Marker - Rhythm Guitar, Bass
*Bill Wolff - Lead, Rhythm Guitar, Bass
*Richard Matzkin - Drums
*Ry Cooder - Bottleneck Guitar, Rhythm Guitar
*Ed Carter - Lead, Rhythm Guitars
*Bernie "Black Pearl" Fieldings - Vocals

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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Levon Helm - Electric Dirt (2009 us, classic rock with folk, country, blues and jazz touches)

Rest In Peace Levon Helm (May 26, 1940 – April 19, 2012)

Electric Dirt  is the second album in the last five years (after the 2007 "Dirt Farmer" and followed by the 2011 "Ramble at the Ryman")  from American musical treasure Levon Helm.  Its predecessor, Dirt Farmer, his first solo LP in a quarter century, followed Levon’s near-miraculous recovery from throat cancer, and as such represented a new lease on life for the legendary artist, who rose to prominence as the drummer and vocalist for Levon and the Hawks, which later became The Band.

The accolades poured in after Dirt Farmer’s release in the fall of 2007. “This album is nothing less than a return to form by one of the most soulful vocalists in rock history,” raved the San Francisco Chronicle, reflecting the universal sentiment. Levon was named Artist of the Year by the Americana Music Association, and the album was awarded the 2008 Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Recording. Meanwhile, Rolling Stone hailed Helm’s Midnight Ramble, which takes place monthly at Levon Helm Studios—a.k.a. The Barn—in his longtime home of Woodstock, N.Y., as 2008’s Best Jam Session.

“I’m not surprised that Levon wanted to do another record so quickly,” says multi-instrumentalist Larry Campbell, who, along with Amy Helm, produced Dirt Farmer and who, due to Ms. Helm’s obligations as a new mother, was the sole producer of this project. “It turned out to be a promising relationship as far as he and I were concerned, and a promising situation overall. We all had the sense that Levon’s reemergence was long overdue, and it was downright thrilling to hear him singing again at the Midnight Rambles and during the sessions for the last record, after the possibility of losing that voice forever. For people my age and a little bit older, it was as if the Beatles had gotten back together. That would have been a very important voice to have lost, and to get it back again was monumental.”

The 11 tracks feature the same core crew of Midnight Ramble regulars that played on Dirt Farmer and subsequently hit the road: Helm behind the drum kit, Ollabelle’s Byron Isaacs on bass, Brian Mitchell on keyboards, Campbell on various guitars, fiddle, mandolin, dulcimer and harmony vocals. Backing vocalists Amy Helm of Ollabelle, Levon’s daughter, and Teresa Williams, Campbell’s wife, deepen the album’s “next of kin” vibe. The horn section of the Levon Helm Band appears on four tracks.

Two of the tracks were arranged by the legendary Allen Toussaint with the LHB horns and the other two tracks by trumpet-playing band member Steven Bernstein. Best known for his work with Marianne Faithfull, Lou Reed and Rufus Wainwright, Bernstein is also leader of New York avant-jazz band Sex Mob. So this is a diverse group of skilled musicians united by their feel for and devotion to Helm’s singular vision.

Electric Dirt again finds Levon steeped in tradition in his connection to the land and those who live by it, but this record goes deeper and wider, incorporating gospel, blues and soul elements in a bracing collection of originals and carefully chosen outside songs.

“We knew we couldn’t just remake Dirt Farmer; it had to be something different,” Campbell explains. “Because as great as that record was, as convincing as Levon was and as pure as his impulse was to make it, that’s just one aspect of what he’s about. I knew that we had to keep that vibe but build on it—get more expansive. We wanted to get closer to what we do in the live shows, but not depart too far from that organic thing. Given all that, it was difficult coming up with an actual concept, but as the tunes were collected, it started to present itself. We wanted to get a few tracks with the horns on them, but we didn’t want to hit everybody over the head with that aspect, so it took a lot of thought to come up with tunes and arrangements that wouldn’t alienate the audience that embraced Dirt Farmer. Which meant keeping away from overproduced, slick sounds—not that Levon could ever get close to that—but the idea was to keep it honest.”

A pair of Muddy Waters tunes, “Stuff You Gotta Watch” and “You Can’t Lose What You Ain’t Never Had,” was actually cut during the Dirt Farmer sessions, although they perfectly fit the vibe of Electric Dirt. “Initially, there was some discussion about doing a straight-ahead blues record, but that ain’t right because that’s changing what the last record was, not expanding on it. There is a blues feel to some of the performances, and the blues is a part of what Levon is as well. But the objective was to just present more of his depth as an artist.”

Electric Dirt’s numerous high points start right at the top, with a rousing rendition of the Grateful Dead’s “Tennessee Jed.” Campbell and Williams spent a good part of 2008 on the road with Dead bassist Phil Lesh, including some shows on which Helm and Lesh appeared together. “There was some real comradeship going on,” Campbell points out, “so we thought, wouldn’t it be great if we could find a Grateful Dead tune that Levon could do? ‘Tennessee Jed’ was always one of my favorite Dead songs, and I thought Levon could actually be Tennessee Jed. And it fit like a glove.”

Following a fervent take on the Staples Singers’ “Move Along Train,” which finds Levon breaking out his gospel roots, comes Helm and Campbell’s “Growing Trade,” which takes an empathetic look at the plight of a Southern small-farm owner. “My wife is from west Tennessee,” says Campbell, “and there are cotton farmers down there about to lose their places. Most of them are just church-going farmers with deep, moral convictions, but they’ve realized that the most important thing for them is to save the land which has been in their families for generations. And Levon has a deep understanding of what all that means, so he brought a wonderful perspective to the song and performance.”

The ancient-sounding mountain ballad “Golden Bird,” on which Campbell’s mournful fiddling deepens the melancholy of Helm’s vocal, was actually written by seminal Woodstock folk artist Happy Traum. Along with Carter Stanley’s “White Dove,” the song forms a bridge between the rustic intimacy of Dirt Farmer and the amped-up urgency of Electric Dirt. “Heaven’s Pearls,” penned by Byron Isaacs for Ollabelle, originally appeared on the group’s Campbell-produced 2006 album Riverside Battle Songs. “Amy had the idea that it would be a really good duet with Levon,” says Campbell. “So we started messin’ with that, and sure enough, it worked great.”

“I Wish I Knew How It Feels to Be Free,” whom Helm had been itching to tackle since hearing Nina Simone’s 1967 version, is at once rousing and deeply poignant in his horn-fueled interpretation. It ends the album on a fittingly life-embracing note.

Levon, says Campbell, “is in great spirits as he gets more and more comfortable with his resurgence. And the next one will be even bigger.” He’s laughing, but that doesn’t mean he or his legendary collaborator would settle for anything less. Campbell is speaking for himself and everyone involved when he adds, “This is very much a labor of love.”
Levon Helm Official 

1. Tennessee Jed (Jerry Garcia, Robert Hunter) - 5:58
2. Move Along Train (Roebuck Staples) - 3:22
3. Growing Trade (Levon Helm, Larry Campbell) - 4.22
4. Golden Bird (Happy Traum) - 5:11
5. Stuff You Gotta Watch (Muddy Waters) - 3:38
6. White Dove (Carter Stanley) - 3:29
7. Kingfish (Randy Newman) - 4:24
8. You Can’t Lose What You Ain’t Never Had (Muddy Waters) - 4:01
9. When I Go Away (Larry Campbell) - 4:32
10.Heaven’s Pearls (Anthony Leone, Byron Isaacs, Fiona McBain, Amy Helm, Glenn Patscha) - 4:09
11.I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel To Be Free (Richard Carroll Lamp, Willy E. Taylor) - 3:25

*Levon Helm - Drums, Mandolin, Vocals
*Amy Helm -  Guitar, Mandolin, Vocals
*Teresa Williams - Autoharp, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
*Larry Campbell - Dulcimer, Fiddle, Acoustic, Electric Guitar, Horn Arrangements, Mandolin, Vocals
*Jay Collins - Tenor Sax, Vocals
*Clark Gayton - Trombone, Tuba
*Byron Isaacs - Bass, Vocals
*Howard Johnson - Tuba
*Erik Lawrence - Soprano, Baritone Sax
*Brian Mitchell - Accordion, Harmonium, Organ, Piano
*George Recile - Vocals
*Catherine Russell - Vocals
*Allen Toussaint - Horn Arrangements
*Jimmy Vivino - Electric Guitar, Organ
*Steven Bernstein - Cornet, Horn, Horn Arrangements, Trumpet

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The Kingsmen - The Best Of (1963-67 us, trailblazer garage beat, Rhino Vinyl release)

"Louie, Louie" by the Kingsmen, the undisputed garage-rock hit song of all time, was still charting nationwide that first week in February 1964 when the Beatles landed at Kennedy Airport. Although the Beatles were spearheading a major British Invasion of America's radio airwaves, the Kingsmen successfully held their own. Between 1963 and 1967, at least 11 of the Kingsmen's singles and 5 of their LPs made Billboard magazine's charts.

These discs were a non-stop series of some of the loudest, rawest, and funnest rockin' radio hits ever. The Kingsmen emerged from their Portland, Oregon garage in 1959, around the same time that the world was first being introduced to the developing Northwest Rock Sound. The Seattle/Tacoma based combos; the Waiters, the Frantics, Little Bill & the Bluenotes, and the Ventures each scored on the national charts with their debut releases. The Kingsmen originally formed as a 4-piece unit: Jack Ely, (vocals/guitars), Lynn Easton, (drums), Mike Mitchell, (guitar), Bob Nordby, (bass) They performed popular standards and their favorite raunchy Top-40 tunes at local supermarket grand openings and school sockhops.

In the fall of '62, the Kingsmen lured Don Gallucci, keyboards), away from another Portland band, Gentleman Jim & the Horsemen. Just prior to this, Ely acquired a copy of "Louie, Louie" by the Wallers, a cover of Richard Berry's 1956 underground R&B hit. This version featured the Waller's raving vocalist, Rockin' Robin Roberts, (with his patented "yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah's..."), and it raced up the charts in 1961 on KJR. Seattle's then-mighty rock 'n' roll radio station. That achievement and the disc's five digit sales figures offered simple statistical evidence of the Pacific Northwest region's undying fondness for the song. It also bolstered the local tradition for rockin' R&B combos to feature the song nightly at dances.

The Kingsmen adopted it and began employing the song as an extended showstopper finale. When a local disc jockey, Ken Chase, hired the Kingsmen to open his new teen club, The Chase, and noticed the young crowd's wild reaction to "Louie, Louie", he booked the band into a downtown Portland studio. "Louie, Louie" and an original instrumental number, "Haunted House", were cut quickly in March 1963 for thirty-eight legendary dollars.

When DJ's at station KISN in Portland began broadcasting this "Louie, Louie," Seattle record mogul Jerry Dennon took notice and signed the boys up, releasing their first single on his fledgling Jerden label. Such was the early '60's Northwest teendance scene, that many of the working combos shared a core of the same songs in their sets. So, it made perfect sense for a crosstown rival band, Paul Revere & the Raiders, to enter that very same studio, that very same week, in order to record their version of "Louie, Louie." These two bands battled it out on Portlands charts all through that summer.

The Kingsmen's chaotic version with it's manic lead guitar solo, insane cymbal crashes, generally slurred and unintelligable lyrics, as well as that famous faffed third verse, rose to about #20. The Raider's good, though comparatively tame, sax-based rendition went on to get them signed as the firci rock n' rot! group on Columbia Record's talent roster. Eastca meanwhile had been devising other schemes; he had secretly recistered himself as the legal owner of the Kingsmen's name and he nac aiso taken up the saxophone. Finally at a rehearsal in late August, he dropped his bombshell; he would now be taking over as their frontman/vocalist.

Needless to say, the guys were stunned. It was, however, a bloodless coup as both Ely and Nordby opted to quit and Gary Abbott, (drums), and Norm Sundholm, (bass), were recruited from local bands. Only weeks later, Easton was phoned by some college students in the deep south who were curious about the garbled lyrics within "Louie, Louie" and they wondered whether it was true that they could be deciphered if slowed down to 33 1/3 RPM.

The Kingsmen were initially humored by these outlandish rumors, but before long the news networks were filing reports from New Orleans, Florida, Michigan and elsewhere about an American public nearly hysterical over the possible dangers of this record. When ace Boston DJ, Arnie "Woo Woo" Ginsburg of station WMEX, received word that the Governor of Illinois was preparing to ban it, he immediately set the tune into heavy rotation on his show. He apparently reasoned that it might not appear proper if the song were to be outlawed in another area before staid ol' Boston could have its chance.

The New York based R&B label, Wand Records, jumped in, reissued the disc, and 21,000 copies were sold that first week in Boston alone. As "Louie, Louie" began to saturate every radio market a frenzy began building, the rumor mills were working overtime, and ugly record burning incidents reportedly occurred. A congressional subcommittee took an interest, the FBI payed the band a visit, and both Ely and Berry ended up being summoned by the FCC to make statements regarding the song's lyrical content. "Louie, Louie" entered the Billboard charts in November '63, charted for 16 weeks (resting in the Nation's #1 position for two solid weeks), and would go on to sell probably 10 million copies worldwide.

The Kingsmen embarked in late December on a whirlwind three week tour for the William Morris Agency. Soon after returning home, Abbott was replaced by Dick Peterson and Barry Curtis joined because Gallucci was stuck in high school and wasn't free to tour. By the spring of '64, various concert promoters were urging Ely to form his own Kingsmen because Easton's crew was experiencing a bit of trouble on the road; people had begun to question whether Easton's was the same voice as the hit record. Jack Ely and his Kingsmen began booking shows but eventually the two groups would end up facing off in court.

A settlement was reached: Ely would desist from making further bookings as the Kingsmen, but any future pressings of 'Louie Louie" would have to credit Ely as the vocalist, and Easton was bar rec from lip-syncing to Ely's original vocal on TV appearances. In March 1964, the Kingsmen's second single, a cover of Barret: Strong's 1960Top-40 smash "Money" was released, and it charted foil weeks. The Kingsmen began four years of endless concerts, roac tours, dances, and appearances on all the teen set TV shows: Shindig. Hullaballoo, Shlvaree, Shebang, Where The Action Is, and others.

They also performed the title track and the tough "Give Her Lovin'" in what was perhaps the zaniest of Annette's surf in' flicks, How To Stuff A Wild Bikini. In January '65, the Kingsmen's fifth single, "The Jolly Greer Giant," a novelty tune based on a well-known frozen vegetable company's popular animated trademark character, created yet another mild controversy. "The Jolly Green Giant," boosted by all the attending publicity, charted for 12 weeks, peaked at the Nation's #4 spot, and became the Kingsmen's second best seller.

The disc's flipside, "Long Green," became a regional standard that was covered by numerous Northwest bands and, in fact, Jimmy "Sugar Shack" Gilmer & The Fireballs created a minor national hit version of it in 1969. Don & The Gopdtimes, Gallucci's newly formed band, burst out in '65 with a scorching original, "Little Sally Tease," a song that the Kingsmen promptly covered with a fullblown studio effort. "Little Latin Lupe Lu" ('64), "Death Of An Angel" ('64), one of their contributions to the dance-craze-of-the-week fad, "The Climb" ('65), and other hits kept the Kingsmen charting regularly through November 1967.

The Kingsmen experienced further personnel changes, brought in new producers, and booked recording sessions in Hollywood. By this time, the era's psychedelic influences began to shade some of their recordings: "I Guess I Was Only Dreaming," "Just Before The Break Of Day." These final Wand label releases were, perhaps, just a little too experimental and did not meet with the same massive commercial success that the Kingsmen's previous teen R&B outings had. The Kingsmen finally abdicated their throne in 1968 and went into a self-imposed musical exile.

Meanwhile, "Louie, Louie," the song that couldn't be stopped, made a remarkable re-entry onto the Billboard charts for a couple of weeks in mid-1966 and Jack Ely & The Courtmen, now signed to a major label, released spirited rewrites such as "Louie, Louie '66," and "Love That Louie." The phenomenal impact of the Kingsmen's classic cut remains undiminished and its legend grows. In the 1978 movie Animal House, the late John Belushi gave a memorable performance leading a debauched frathouse party in a hilarious slurred sing-a-long with the Kingsmen's record. Then in 1979, the English Mod group, The Who, also paid tribute by including the Kingsmen's "Louie, Louie" in the soundtrack to their film Quadrophenia.

1. Louie, Louie (Richard Berry) - 2:42
2. Money (That's What I Want) (Janie Bradford, Berry Gordy Jr.) - 2:16
3. Little Latin Lupe Lu (Bill Medley) - 2:21
4. Death of an Angel  (Daniel Woods, Dori Woods) - 2:30
5. The Jolly Green Giant (Lynn Easton, Don "Sugarcane" Harris, Dewey Terry) - 1:56
6. The Climb (Lynn Easton) - 2:25
7. Annie Fanny (Lynn Easton) - 2:01
8. Give Her Lovin' (Lynn Easton) - 1:44
9. Long Green (Lynn Easton) - 2:30
10.That's Cool, That's Trash (Steve Barri, P.F. Sloan) - 2:15
11.Genevieve (Huey "Piano" Smith) - 2:36
12.Killer Joe (Bob Elgin, Bill Medley, Bert Russell) - 2:15
13.Little Sally Tease (Jim Valley) - 2:55
14.Trouble (Joe Levine, Arthur Resnick) - 2:21

The Kingsmen
*Jack Ely - Vocals, Guitars
*Lynn Easton - Drums
*Mike Mitchell - Guitar
*Bob Nordby - Bass
*Don Gallucci - Keyboards
*Gary Abbott - Drums
*Norm Sundholm - Bass
*Dick Peterson - Drums
*Barry Curtis - Keyboards

1962-67  The Kingsmen - Louie Louie The Best Of (2008 Repertoire release)

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Friday, April 20, 2012

The Count Bishops - Speedball Plus 11 (1975 multinational, powerful boogie pub rock)

The Count Bishops had formed in June of 1975 from the remnants of a group called Chrome. Rhythm guitarist Zenon de Fleur (aka Hierowski) and New York emigrant and vocalist Mike Spenser, via an advert in Melody Maker, brought in Australian drummer Paul Balbi, and, all the way from Hatfield on bass, Steve Lewins. Paul had not long arrived from the Antipodes, where he had been playing in several bands, and Steve had come directly from the acoustic Spaniel Mountain - now there's a name to conjure with.

Before leaving his native New York, Mike had been in a band called the Kingbees with Johnny Guitar (guitar). In July he had been persuaded to come to London on the promise of a record deal, with an, as yet, non-existent label, and a full date book in the pubs of London: faith is a wonderful thing. The band were named after a New York street gang by Mike.

Up until now the "Speedball" EP has been the only material available from these sessions, and indeed the only Count Bishops record with Mike Spenser as vocalist. In early 1976 Mike departed after a contretemps with a plate glass window, the last in a series of confrontations with inanimate objects that led to the band requesting his departure. He went on to form London's premier garage band, The Cannibals.

The band continued through one album and single for a Dutch label, Dynamite Records, without replacing Mike, before cutting their first Chiswick album with Australian chanter Dave Tice. Shortly after this Steve Lewins moved on to the Wilko Johnson band. With the addition of Pat McMullen on bass the band went on to release a further two albums for Chiswick. They finally disbanded after the tragic death of Zenon in 1979 from injuries received in a car wreck.

This CD consists of the original EP, released on 28th November 1975, exactly 20 years ago, plus the rest of the material recorded at the Pathway sessions, and two cuts from a previous session at [future Stiff Records' bossman] Dave Robinson's studio above the Hope & Anchor pub, with a slightly different line up.

As mentioned in the sleeve note to the Chiswick Story, 'Walking The Dog' and 'I'm A Man' were cut at these sessions, with the former's bass line registering it unuseable (note that Steve Lewins was not on this session). Since then the multi-track tape has surfaced, confirming my fragile remembrance of the 'Walking The Dog' story, and featuring two cuts of Tm A Man', as well as two cuts of 'I Want Candy' and several attempts at Otis Redding's 'I've Got Dreams To Remember', with seriously fractured lead vocal.

Original mix downs of Tm A Man' and 'I Want Candy' have also surfaced, and close this CD. The version of 'I Want Candy' is interesting since it pre-dates by 3 years the Bishops single (NS 37/CHIS 101). The version of Tm A Man' is via Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters' 'Mannish Boy' and incongruously David Bowie's The Jean Genie'. In hindsight The Count Bishops "Speedball" EP is a link between the pub rock of the early 70s and the punk rock that arrived snarling and kicking a year later.

Though based on the early Rolling Stones recordings, the Count Bishops revved up their punky R&B approach and whizzed through the songs at breakneck speed. In fact at a Count Bishops gig Upstairs At Ronnie's, Malcolm McLaren once bent my ear for a good deal of the evening as to whether Mike Spenser was the man he had been looking for to front the new group he was putting together. Cheeky bugger - trying to nick the lead singer of our only act.
by Roger Armstrong, 1995

1. Route 66 (Troup) - 2:57
2. I Ain't Got You (Carter, Carter) - 1:50
3. Beautiful Delilah (Berry) - 2:08
4. Teenage Letter (Richard) - 2:25
5. Cry to Me (Russell) - 3:40
6. Buzz Me Babe (Moore, West) - 2:55
7. Sweet Little Sixteen (Berry) - 2:47
8. Honey I Need (Button, Smithling, Taylor) - 2:11
9. Carol (Berry) - 2:37
10.Don't Start Crying Now  (Moore, West) - 2:02
11.Mercy Mercy (Covay, Miller) - 3:00
12.Reelin' and Rockin' (Berry) - 3:14
13.Down the Road a Piece (Raye) - 2:49
14.I'm a Man (Diddley) - 3:42
15.I Want Candy (Berns, Feldman, Goldstein, Gottehrer) - 3:13

The Count Bishops
*Johnny Guitar - Guitar, Vocals
*Paul Balbi - Drums
*Steve Lewins - Bass
*Zenon De Fleur - Guitar Vocals

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