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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Various Artists - Blow Your Cool: 20 Prog Psych Assaults (1969-74 europe, nefarious delights of psych and prog amorphus hybrid, Psychic Circle release)

The Psychic Circle label makes another entry into the uncrowded field of reissues of British and European rarities from the early progressive rock era with Blow Your Cool, which collects twenty 1969-1974 tracks that have never before appeared on compilations. We are talking rare and obscure here; when the most well known bands on a comp are the Rattles, Mogul Thrash, Dream Police, and Egg (though a stray item by blue-eyed soul hitmakers the Foundations finds its way on as well), it's material not apt to even be in the collection of the prog rock specialist. 

The trademarks of early prog (and late psychedelia bleeding into prog) are all here, in diverse colors: complex riffs and tempo turnarounds, earnest vocals that can verge on the ostentatious, lyrics with a cosmic tinge, occasional hints of blues and boogie, and heavy (and at times lumpy) guitar-organ blends. 

Some notable names to go on to bigger and better things pop up here and there, like future Average White Band singer/guitarist Hamish Stuart (in the Dream Police's "Much Too Much," which is much too derivative of the Jeff Beck Group's version of "Shapes of Things"); Atomic Rooster drummer Ric Parnell (in the Italian group the Tritons); John Wetton (in Mogul Thrash); and early Procol Harum member Bobby Harrison (in Freedom). 

Some of the more interesting cuts tend to be those that veer away from stereotypical prog rock, like Ferris Wheel's "Can't Stop Now," with its flute and sweet, airy female vocals; Paul Ryder & Time Machine's "If You Ever Get to Heaven," which is vaguely reminiscent of early T. Rex; Egg's "You Are All Princes," which sounds like Kingdom Come with a less flamboyant vocalist than Arthur Brown; and Swegas' "What 'Ya Gonna Do," a very spot-on British imitation of Blood, Sweat & Tears and Chicago's horn-rock. 
by Richie Unterberger

Tracks - Artists
1. To Live - Paradise Hammer - 3:38
2. Turn Me Loose - Freeman - 2:42
3. Major Barmy From The Army - Primitive Man - 2:30
4. I'm Gonna Be A Rich Man - Foundations - 3:54
5. Much Too Much - Dream Police - 2:58
6. Drifter - Tritons - 3:42
7. Sleeping In The Kitchen - Mogul Thrash - 2:48
8. Can't Stop Now - Ferris Wheel - 3:35
9. Blow Your Cool - Triangle - 3:10
10.She's A Bad, Bad Woman - Zior - 3:43
11.Devil's On The Loose - Rattles - 2:53
12.Freedom - Freedom - 5:12
13.Sly Willy - Bluebeard - 3:27
14.If You Ever Get To Heaven - Ryder - 3:10
15.Love Me - Variations - 2:38
16.You Are All Princes - Egg - 3:46
17.Mrs. Davis - Jess And James - 4:39
18.I Believe In You (Fire In My Body) - Bedlam - 3:53
19.What'ya Gonna Do - Swegas - 2:51
20.The Scene - Cosmic Dealer - 2:47

More Psychic Circle compilations
1968-72  White Lace And Strange
1968-72  The Room Of Loud Sounds
1964-69  Realistic Patterns Orchestrated Psychedelia
1965-69  Wednesday Morning Dew 
1965-70  The Electric Coffee House 
1965-70  The Golden Road The Electric Coffee House Vol.2

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Blood Sweat And Tears - More Than Ever (1976 us, bold jazz rock with soul touches, bonus tracks issue)

More Than Ever was the last studio effort by the re-formed, reconstituted Blood, Sweat & Tears, with David Clayton-Thomas back in the lineup and the whole group invigorated after coming off of a successful international tour. For the first time since its second album, the group -- with only drummer Bobby Colomby left from the original lineup and Bob James producing -- sounds bold, enthused, and fully positive in its approach. 

The sound is a little more R&B oriented and less rocking than the older lineup, which actually makes a better fit overall -- Thomas' singing style is a bit dated, from a tradition of '60s blue-eyed soul that seems fine, but which was really out-of-place amid the disco boom of the second half of the '70s. The group's obvious enthusiasm -- there's not a lot here that sounds like it wasn't played with joy -- and the smooth mix of R&B, jazz, and gospel influences coupled with the larger-than-life sound of the production (the ten-man band is joined by 13 guest musicians and eight backup singers, among them Patti Austin and Gwen Guthrie) helps put over some very solid material. "They," "I Love You More Than Ever," "You're the One," and the soaring, haunting "Heavy Blue" are highlights of a pretty strong album. 

Nothing here is remotely as revelatory as anything on Child Is Father to the Man or as startlingly fresh in a pop vein as the Blood, Sweat & Tears album, but it's a good 40 minutes of listening. The pity is that the Columbia Records art department couldn't muster as much inspiration on its end as the musicians did on theirs -- one can only wonder who got paid for coming up with the "idea" of using an enlarged copy of the album label as the front cover art. But bad art aside, this record is not only one worth finding -- it's one worth keeping.
by Bruce Eder

1. They (Clayton-Thomas, Smith) - 6:29
2. I Love More Than Ever (Landon, Lenier) - 5:28
3. Katy Bell (Foster, James) - 4:29
4. Sweet Sadie The Savior (Austin) - 4:24
5. Hollywood (Clayton-Thomas, Modeliste, Nesmith, Neville, Nocentelli, Porter, Reid, Smith) - 3:36
6. You're The One (Clayton-Thomas, Lennon, Ono, Smith) - 4:56
7. Heavy Blue (Willis) - 5:26
8. Saved By The Grace Of Your Love (Palmer, Smith) - 4:20
9. (Bonus tracks: Medley, Recorded live, Oct 12, 1980 at the Street Scene - Downtown, LA) God Bless The Child (Arthur Herzog Jr., Billie Holiday) - 2:58
10.Lucretia Mac Evil (Carole King) - 1:11
11.Hi-De Ho (Carole King) - 5:32
12.And When I Die (Laura Nyro) - 1:35
13.Spinning Wheel (David Clayton-Thomas) - 1:11
14.You're Made Me So Very Happy (Berry Gordy Jr., Brenda Holloway, Patrice Holloway, Frank Wilson) - 3:02

Blood Sweat And Tears
*David Clayton-Thomas - Vocals
*Bobby Colomby - Drums
*Don Alias - Percussion
*Larry Willis - Keyboards
*Dave Bargeron - Trombone, Tuba
*Forrest Batchell - Trumpet
*Mike Stern - Guitar
*Tony Klatka - Saxophone, Trumpet
*Bill Tillman - Flute, Tenor Saxophone
*Danny Trifan - Bass
Additional Musicians
*Bill Eaton - Vocals
*Jon Faddis - Trumpet
*Frank Floyd - Vocals
*Dave Friedman - Marimba, Vibraphone, Xylophone, Percussion
*Eric Gale - Guitar
*Lani Groves - Vocals
*Gwen Guthrie - Vocals
*Bob James - Keyboards
*Chaka Khan - Vocals
*Steve Khan - Guitar
*Gary King - Bass
*Arnie Lawrence - Alto Saxophone
*Ron McClure - Bass
*Hugh McCracken - Guitar
*Yolanda McCullough - Vocals
*Zachary Sanders - Vocals
*Marvin Stamm - Trumpet
*David Taylor - Trombone
*Richard Tee - Keyboards
*Sidney Weinberg - Oboe
*Eric Weissberg - Banjo, Dobro, Guitar
*Patti Austin - Vocals
*Vivian Cherry - Vocals

The Blood Sweat And Tears
1968  Child Is Father To The Man
1973  No Sweat
1974  Mirror Image
1975  New City

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