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Monday, July 9, 2012

Various Artists - Fading Yellow Vol.8 (1968-75 uk, hymns for today, timeless LP delights)

This limited-edition (1,000 copies) compilation brings together 21 U.K. pop-psych-folk rarities from 1968-1975. And you'd better believe some of these are really rare, especially when it gets down to something (John Pantry's "Long White Trail") taken from a 1972 soundtrack to a film about a team of sled dogs. 

A few of these artists have connections to much bigger names, and a few are recognizable names in their own right, like British folk legend Wizz Jones; Fleetwood Mac guitarist Danny Kirwan; Tony Hazzard, who wrote hits for Manfred Mann and the Hollies; and Andy Roberts of Plainsong/the Liverpool Scene. Overall, however, you wonder whether more than a dozen people worldwide have all of the original releases from which these were taken in their private collections. 

That's part of the utility of an anthology such as this, of course, for those who are pretty deeply interested in the genre but don't have the time or money to chase down all of these obscurities. Though pretty diverse as a whole, what these tracks share is a general simultaneous folky base and willingness to stretch outside usual folk-rock and singer/songwriter conventions of the era into something a bit stranger and freakier, without actually getting too freaky or electric. 

Certainly there are heavy echoes of some of the much bigger names exploring somewhat similar territory, like Donovan, Bert Jansch, Al Stewart, Nick Drake, or Sandy Denny; traces of major rock songwriters who sometimes approached the edges of whimsical folkiness, like Ray Davies or Roy Wood, can also be detected. If nothing here is as good as the finer work of those esteemed artists, usually these songs possess a quite engaging haunting and tremulous ambience, often embellishing reasonably melodic songs with interesting eccentric sounds, production touches, orchestration, and odd (if sometimes overly precious) lyrical viewpoints. 

The level of quality is high enough that there aren't many obvious high points, but certainly Nadia Cattouse's melancholy "All Around My Grandmother's Floor" will be heartily embraced by anyone who likes Vashti Bunyan or Bridget St. John; Trevor Billmuss' "Sunday Afternoon in Belgrave Square" will likewise appeal to those who love the most ornate early Donovan/Stewart arrangements; and Vigrass & Osborne's "Ballerina" is first-rate dreamy pop-folk-psych. 

While some collectors might object to the following observation, frankly, compilation CDs such as this make for much better listening than most of the original releases from which they're collated, as these intelligently culled highlights are far more consistently enjoyable and diverse than most single-artist LPs in this field. If you do want to track down more of the same on those original releases, the detailed liner notes give you a good starting point. 
by Richie Unterberger

Artists - Tracks
1. Harvey Andrews - England My England - 3:30
2. Jan And Lorraine - Bird Of Passage - 3:59
3. Raw - What To Do - 3:34
4. Michael Blount - Aeorn Street - 1:36
5. Danny Kirwan - Lovely Days - 2:31
6. Fuchsia - Me And My Kite - 2:37
7. P.C. Kent - After Dark - 2:40
8. Vigrass And Osborne - Ballerina - 3:45
9. Gothic Horizons - Thoughts - 2:52
10.Marc Brierley - Today I Feel Like Leaving You - 2:25
11.Storyteller - Alice Brown - 2:49
12.Andy Roberts - I've Seen The Movie - 5:44
13.Nadia Cattouse - All Around My Grandmother's Floor - 2:28
14.Jan And Lorraine - Snow Roses - 3:08
15.Evensong - The Smallest Man In The World - 3:33
16.Trevor Billmuss - Sunday Afternoon In Belgrave Square - 3:02
17.John Pantry - Long White Trail - 2:27.
18.Michael Blount - Ceaicles Micellaneous - 2:17
19.Alan James Eastwood - Hymns For Today - 4:27
20.Wizz Jones - One Grain Of Sand - 3:40
21.Tony Hazzard - Loudwater House - 4:41

Fading Yellow series..
1965-69 Vol.1 - Timeless Pop-Sike And Other Delights
1965-69 Fading Yellow Vol. 2 US Pop Sikes
1965-69 Fading Yellow - Vol. 3
1965-69 Fading Yellow - Vol. 4
1970-73 Fading Yellow - Vol. 5
1966-70 Fading Yellow - Vol. 6 
1968-72 Fading Yellow - Vol. 7

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The Surprise Package - Free Up (1969 us, powerful organ driving heavy acid psych with some prog shades)

The Surprise Package were a Seattle, Washington group consisting of Fred Zeufeldt (drums, backing vocals), Michael Rohers (piano, organ, bass, backing vocals), Greg Beck (guitar, backing vocals), Rob Lowery (lead vocals).

Their only  album was released in early 1969 on tiny LHI label owned by the famous arttist/producer Lee Hazelwood. The Record mostly contained a trippy and quite intense music with lots of Hammond organ pasages, loud and fuzzed-out guitar parts and solid drumming. It can be easily described as a stylistic combination of Vanilla Fudge, The Doors and especially Iron Butterfly. 

It worth noting that the title track lasted nearly 16 minutes and its structure wasvery similar to In A-Gadda-Da-Vida. Excellent freaky improvisations in some parts.Very Essential for acid heads. Unfortunately, the album (and also single with cover of MacArthur Park) went almost completely unnoticed. Soon after the band changed its name to American Eagle and 1970 released an eponymous LP for Decca records. 

1. New Way Home (Beck, Lowery, Rogers) - 3:53
2. 100% Vision (Lowery, Rogers) - 7:19
3. Breakaway (M. Rogers) - 3:34
4. Supporting Cast (M. Rogers) - 2:59
5. Social Disease (Beck, Lowery) - 2:35
6. Free Up (M. Rogers) - 15:51
7. MacArthur Park (A-Side 1969) (J. Webb) - 3:17

The Surprise Package
*Greg Beck - Guitar, Vocals
*Fred Zeufeldt - Drums, Vocals
*Mike Rogers - Organ, Piano, Bass, Vocals
*Rob Lowery - Lead Vocals

Various Artists - Fading Yellow Vol.7 (1968-72 us, pop sike and other delights)

Fading Yellow Vol. 7 brings things back to these shores after a number of cds spent in the UK and I have to say that this is my favorite volume yet. It helps having some favorites of mine like The Gordian Knot, The Glitterhouse, The Peppermint Trolley Co., The New Wave, The Smoke, and Alzo. All of these are groups that put out albums that still remain unissued on cd (or in some cases obscure and expensive Japanese imports on cd - or internet bootleg cds)

All in all, I have to say that Fading Yellow Vol. 7 is my favorite of the bunch thanks to a sampling of obscure album tracks. The fact that this volume emphasizes bands that went so far as to make albums (rather than the 45s like many of the other groups compiled on previous Vols) ratchets the quality up on this volume.

Fading Yellow Vol. 7 starts out with The Eight Day's Building With A Steeple which is from an album co-produced and co-written by Ronnie Dante and arranged by Artie Butler in 1967 on Kapp. I'd always been curious to hear The Eight Day and they have that awesome sound that combines The Mamas and Papas vocals with a spiritual sound about going to church (sort of like in California Dreamin').

Del Shannon produced and co-wrote the wonder that is On The East Side by the pop teen idol Brian Hyland in 1970 on Uni which sounds a lot like Del Shannon's work from 1968's The Further Adventures of Charles Westover.

The Gordian Knot's Carraway Stream is a vastly under-rated piece of Beach Boys inspired pop with delicate harpsichord and Arbors' meets Simon and Garfunkel like harmonies from this album track. The group were featured on the album cover for their album Tones all tied up in rope. Somehow this group has been overlooked through the years. The Year Of The Sun by The Gordian Knot is also included here and is a gorgeus sun-soaked pop nugget with soaring flutes and harmony vocals.

Federal Duck's Peace In My Mind has a similar sound to that found on Freeborne's Peak Impressions album which has been reissued on the Distortions label. The group's name was derived from the Federal Duck Stamp Program which was enacted in 1934 by conservationist Jay "Ding" Darling and President Franklin D. Roosevelt. George Stavis (who also had an album on Vanguard) from Federal Duck later formed the Santa Cruz blue-grass rock jam band cicra 1970-73.

I wrote about the Glitterhouse extensively in my gullbuy Barbarella review. The liner notes here are misinformed stating that this group were probably a studio group for Bob Crewe. This Bob Crewe website has a lot of information (and a cd you can buy) which sets the record straight. Along with helping record the Barbarella soundtrack the boys in the Glitterhouse also released one lp (along with various singles under other names) with side one veering more towards the psychedelic arena of bands like Procol Harum or Quicksilver Messenger Service, with songs like Tinkerbell's Mind (the track included here) and its crazy psych lyrics

Tinkerbell's mind is a crazy machine at the best, and her headset's a flame, all the things her body loves the best...a pronounced organ and fuzz guitar sound, and harmony vocals galore.

The Peppermint Trolley Co.'s Pat's Song is one of the more mellow and introspective tracks from an excellent album riddled with some other goodies like their version of the Paul Williams/Roger Nichols Trust. This track reminds me of work on Paul Parrish's The Forest of My Mind album.

3's A Crowd album Christopher's Movie Matinee was produced by Mama Cass and Steve Barri for Dunhill in 1968. I Don/t Wanna Drive You Away has that Mamas and Papas styled harmony and cool Beatlesque strummed guitar lines.

Lee Michaels' My Friends is a druggy inspired pop nugget which was recorded for his A&M solo album Carnival of Life in 1968. This tune can also be found on the cd Best of Lee Michaels on One Way Records from 1997 which compiled tracks from his 6 A&M albums from 1968-72. This track (and the album it's from) was produced by Larry Marks (producer for Tape From California by Phil Ochs, American Dream by Emitt Rhodes, Cowboy in Sweden by Lee Hazlewood, Painted Dayglow Smile and Distant Shores by Chad & Jeremy, and work by the Flying Burrito Brothers and Dillard & Clark) features the excellent guitarist Hamilton W. Watt but is predominately filled with psyhedelic keyboard and eletric piano work. Sadly, Lee Michaels suffered from tinnitus so he left the music business and now lives in Hawaii.

Alzo released a handful of wonderful gems from the late 1960s and early 1970s including work with Jeff Barry as The Keepers of Light, as the singing duo Alzo & Udine and solo for Bell in the early 1970s. You/re Gone is a mystical tune from Alzo's solo album Looking For You which is all the more haunting since Alzo's passing in Feburary, 2004. Alzo had a knack for writing songs that seem to read your mind with a contemporary soul rhythm style that makes is melodies dance in your mind. He will be sorely missed by me. Vastly underated at the time and disenchanted with the music industry in the mid-1970s, Alzo disappeared before his rediscovery in recent years by a huge Japanese fanbase and the few faithful stateside.

The Cowsills were the real-life inspiration behind The Partridge Family, but their story has never really been told. It was awesome to see them sing the national anthem at a Red Sox playoff game this past fall and it remains a mystery of life why their work is still so hard to find. Mystery Of Life is from their On My Side album from 1971.

Produced by David Brigg's (the producer who worked with Neil Young on many albums, on Spirit's Twelve Dream of Dr. Sardonicus, as well as with Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds and Royal Trux before his death in 1995) for Bill Cosby's Tetragrammaton Records in 1968, Friday Morning Paper from Summerhill's sole lp is that mix of psychedelia and the Neil Young sound that I think Buffalo Springfield never really reached for but should have tried.

Bob Ray sounds just like Donovan on (Girl With The) Cameo Ring, a track taken from his Initiation of a Mystic which was released on Johnny River's Soul City label in 1969.

The New Wave were really a couple of kids named Tommy Andre and Reid King who released a wonderful bossa inspired folk rock album on the Canterbury label (the label that also put out the Yellow Balloon album) and Little Dream is one of the highlights from this album. Little is known about these two guys.

The North Wind Blew South is the title track from Philamore Lincoln's (from the UK) solo album released in the US on Epic in 1970 which featured a post Jeff Beck Yardbirds for backing. Not sure how much they appear on this soft Paul Simon inspired dreamer which wofts by in a orchestrated haze.

National Gallery's Diana In The Autumn Wind is from a concept album oddity called The Interpretions Of The Paintings Of Paul Klee. Featuring one female solo vocalist and some male vocalists. This oddity involved Charles Mangione who later recorded jazz versions of some of the tunes from this album on his own Diana In The Autumn Wind album. You can hear samplings from the National Gallery album (as well as see the sleeve art) at Frank's Vinyl Museum - it's farout and pretensious - sort of like a folk/psych version of Stereolab and it reminds me of the early 70s group Design.

The Smoke released an incredible Beatles' inspired album here in the US that was co-produced by Michael Lloyd and Kim Fowley. Similar to Michael Lloyd's other production for October Country, Gold Is The Colour Of Love is a Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds sound-a-like. It's a crime this awesome album is still not available on cd.
by Patrick  (Gullbuy)

 Artists - Tracks - Composer
1. The Eighth Day - Building With A Steeple (Gene Allan, Ron Dante) - 2:36
2. John Randolph Marr - Raggedy Ann - 2:27
3. Brian Hyland - On The East Side (Brian Hyland, Del Shannon) - 2:27
4. Gordian Knot - Carraway Stream - 2:49
5. Fargo - Talks We Used To Have - 2:29
6. Federal Duck - Peace In My Mind - 3:00
7. Glitterhouse - Tinkerbell's Mind - (Michael Gayle) - 4:42
8. The Peppermint Trolley Co. - Pat's Song - 2:26
9. 3's A Crowd - I Don't Wanna Drive You Away - 2:41
10.Lee Michaels - My Friends - 2:42
11.Richard Twice - If I Knew You Were The One - 4:45
12.Alzo - You're Gone - 2:40
13 Cherry People - Imagination - 1:56
14.Cowsills - Mystery Of Life - 3:55
15.Summerhill - Friday Morning's Paper - 2:35
16.Bob Ray - (Girl With The) Cameo Ring - 3:53
17.New Wave, The - Little Dreams - 2:30
18.Philamore Lincoln - The North Wind Blew South - 3:15
19.National Gallery - Diana In The Autumn Wind (Charles Mangione, Roger Karshner) - 2:43
20.Condello - The Other Side Of You - 4:17
21.The Smoke - Gold Is The Color Of Thoughts - 3:06
22.Gordian Knot, The - The Year Of The Sun - 3:03
23.Ellie Pop - Oh My Friend - 2:25
24.Bert Sommer - And When It's Over (Bert Sommer) - 3:10

Fading Yellow series..
1965-69 Vol.1 - Timeless Pop-Sike And Other Delights
1965-69 Fading Yellow Vol. 2 US Pop Sikes
1965-69 Fading Yellow - Vol. 3
1965-69 Fading Yellow - Vol. 4
1970-73 Fading Yellow - Vol. 5
1966-70 Fading Yellow - Vol. 6 

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