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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 He had been replaced by a singer who didn't fit in - and this bloke's vocal performance on "Castanettes" is one of Dave's few unhappy memories of the group.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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