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Friday, July 13, 2012

Little Free Rock - Time Is Of No Consequence (1969-71 uk, standout acid blues rock, demos and unreleased material)

In my own personal scheme of things, Little Free Rock are pretty doggone important. I grew up with them. They were my first grass-roots contact with the underground rock'n'roll culture. Formed in Preston, Lanes in 1966 by guitarist Pete Illingworth after he'd recovered from the demise of fabulous local legends, David John & The Mood, the band emerged in the heady climate of 1967 as the trio, Purple Haze with Pal Varley on drums and Frank Newbold on bass.

Taking their cue from Hendrix and The Cream, they built up a hardcore following in the Northwest. From humble beginnings with a live set comprising entirely cover versions - material by The love, Creation and Tomorrow amongst others - the trio soon began to write original songs. A five-track demo Bade in London in early 1969 (reproduced here), led to an eponymous debut LP on Transatlantic Records, a relocation to 'The Smoke' and a name change. Within months of their arrival they were changing musical direction.

Their manager, having been knocked out with Ginger Johnson & His African Drummers jamming with The Stones in Hyde Park this summer, suggested a similar collaboration. The experiment worked wonders and at ensuing gigs LFR would regularly be joined by as many as 25 percussionists, the lads from Preston, the only white faces on stage! Caspar Laval, Speedy Acquaye, Lofty and Mac (from Osibisa) all played with the band. They even attracted Peter Green to play a couple of gigs and were invited to play sessions for his first solo LP (which were sadly unused).

Record company wrangles and personnel disputes - ex-Killing Floor bassist, John Taylor permanently replacing Newbold, Lord Eric coming in on hand-drums - meant that another LP was not forthcoming. Fortunately managerial involvement with Robert Stigwood saw them record six songs in their new style, all of which appear here and ooze with an excitement sorely lacking on the Transatlantic release.

LFR eventually split in 1974 with no original members still here - a disastrous period as back-up S4I queen Sarah Gordon was followed by Varley leaving for fame and fortune with teen stars The Arrows and the sacking of Illingworth! It's good to finally have all this stuff available and it's a fitting tribute to a band who really did deserve better.
by Nigel Cross

1. Money On Your Mind (Peter Illingworth) - 4:19
2. Evil Woman (Frank Newbold, Peter Illingworth) - 4:33
3. Time Is Of No Consequence (Peter Illingworth) - 5:08
4. Tiego (Peter Illingworth) - 4:13
5. Talking To The Trees (Peter Illingworth) - 3:45
6. Big Bird (Peter Illingworth) - 4:00
7. Money On Your Mind (Peter Illingworth) - 4:37
8. Evil Woman (Frank Newbold, Peter Illingworth) - 4:33
9. Time Is Of No Consequence (No Vocals) (Peter Illingworth) - 5:07
10.Roman Sumer Nights (as The Purple Haze) (Frank Newbold) - 2:32
11.Wait A While (as The Purple Haze) (Peter Illingworth) - 2:17
12.Blud (as The Purple Haze) (Peter Illingworth) - 3:50
13,Dream (as The Purple Haze) (Frank Newbold) - 2:24
14.Evil Woman (as The Purple Haze) (Frank Newbold, Peter Illingworth) - 2:47 Little Free Rock *Frank Newbold - Bass (The Purple Haze) *John Taylor - Bass *Paul Varley - Drums *Peter Illingworth - Guitar *Eric Carboo - Percussion
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Little Free Rock - Little Free Rock (1969 uk, superb heavy psych blues rock)

Little Free Rock was a Heavy Rock Trio from Preston in Lancashire, England. Peter Illingworth, Lead Guitar and Vocals, Paul Varley, Drums and Frank Newbold, Bass Guitar and Vocals.

Their Eponymous Album was released in November 1969, and they were an evolution of Purple Haze whose psychedelic nuances created great interest from their conception in early 1968. Purple Haze were a highly respected three piece outfit formed originally performing covers of songs from bands like The Who, Creation, Tomorrow etc but quickly developing a style and presentation of their own. To avoid association with Jimi Hendrix's Purple Haze, the name was changed to Little Free Rock from the meaning of their names. Paul means 'Little', Frank means 'Free' and Peter the 'Rock'.

Little Free Rock went on to work with Ginger Johnson's African Drummers, whose appearance with the Rolling Stones at the 1969 Hyde Park Concert in Sympathy for the Devil has created much interest. Drummers who appeared from time to to included Gaspar Lawal (Ginger Baker's Airforce), Remi Salaka (Rolling Stones), Speedy Aquay (Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames), Lofty and Mac Tonto (Osibisa), and 'Lord' Eric Carboo. On one occasion at the Chalk Farm Roundhouse there were 26 African Drummers and a Witchdoctor.

The band performed regularly at the Roundhouse Sunday Night 'Implosion' Events and had numerous residencies at the Wardour Street Marquee Club. As well as performing all over Belgium, Continental Trips included the Star Club in Hamburg, Essen Jazz and Blues Festival, and festivals in Frankfurt, San Tropez and Santa Margarita de la Costa in Italy.

CBS and Warner Brothers were becoming exceedingly interested in this new Afro Rock but only six weeks after the release on the LFR Album, Transatlantic started Breach of Contract proceedings. When CBS and Warner Brothers heard this they backed off, however, CBS said that the band was too much like Santana, whom they already represented. Unfortunately, LFR were then unable to record for Transatlantic or anyone else for that matter, which was sad as the original Contract was for 6 Albums over a three year period.

Peter Green (Fleetwood Mac) joined the band for a short period, with gigs arranged at The Marquee and The Lyceum, and invited LFR to perform on sessions for his Solo Album. Sadly, after only one gig at a club called The Night Angel Club in Soho, Peter decided that he was having too much hassle with Ginger Johnson about fees for the recording and he backed out. The tracks were never released.

1. Roman Summer Nights -  2:47
2. Lost Lonely - 4:15
3. Blud - 3:55
4. Castles In The Sky - 3:49
5. Dream - 3:46
6. Tingle - 3:59
7. Evil Woman - 2:43
8. Age Of Chivalry - 4:24
9. Making Time - 10:20

Little Free Rock
*Peter Illingworth - Guitar, Vocals
*Frank Newbold - Bass, Vocals, Percussion
*Paul Varley - Drums

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Keef Hartley Band - The Time Is Near (1970 uk, spectacular psych blues rock with jazz drops, 2008 Esoteric remaster)

The core of Keef Hartley Band, along with Hartley and guitarist/vocalist Miller Anderson, was bassist Gary Thain. He was heavily influenced by bassist Duck Dunn from Booker T. and the MGs but, like Anderson and Hartley, possessed a clearer jazz spirit. The Time is Near... features a number of different horn and keyboard players, with its line-up settling down considerably for Overdog.

If Overdog is generally heavy, The Time is Near... is a lighter affair, with Anderson found on acoustic guitar as often as electric and songs like "Morning Rain sounding almost schizophrenic. Opening with a psychedelic reverse-attack collage of drums and horns, it's a song whose changes could find a place in the repertoire of roots rockers The Band if it weren't for Thain's funky bass line and trumpeter Henry Lowther's soul-drenched horn arrangement. "From The Window could easily have come from Motown, but the shifting tempo and more complex horn parts that ultimately resolve into a sunnier, ambling groove are indicative of greater depth and complexity. 

Keef Hartley Band may not have been considered a progressive rock group by connotation, but its combination of soul, jazz, rock and folk here are progressive by stricter definition. Hartley was fortunate to find Miller, who writes all but one song on The Time Is Near.... Possessing enough grit to deliver the stronger message of the nearly ten-minute title track but equally capable of carrying the gentler classical guitar/trumpet duo of "Another Time Another Place," his voice is so versatile that these two tracks almost sound as if they're being sung by different people. 

An equally versatile guitarist, he delivers a gritty, blues-drenched solo on the title track and the final part of "You Can't Take It With You, which also features a blistering saxophone solo from Lyle Jenkins during its lithely swinging 6/8 middle section. The only non-Miller track on the disc is "Premonition, an instrumental by trumpeter Dave Caswell, another fine player who seems to have disappeared without a trace. It's essentially a light two-chord vamp with a brief chorus that paves the way for strong solos from both Caswell and Jenkins.

The rhythm section team of Hartley and Thain powers the material throughout. It's hard to judge which of these two reissues is a better record since they're both so different (while remarkably still managing to sound like the same group), but The Time Is Near... gets a subtle nod for its broader mix of styles and a group sound that's as distinctive as its American counterparts, while feeling less like a group looking for a hit. Instead, Keef Hartley Band seems to have hoped that the audience would come to it, and while it had its brief moment in the spotlight, there's no musical reason why it should have been less successful than Chicago or BS&T other than the fact that it never got the international promotion it deserved.
by John Kelman

1. Morning Rain - 3:00
2. From The Window - 3:28
3. The Time Is Near  - 10:09
4. You Can't Take It With You  - 7:19
5. Premonition (Dave Caswell) - 4:24
6. Another Time, Another Place  - 2:35
7. Change  - 4:00
All songs by Miller Anderson except where noted.

Keef  Hartley Band
*Keef Hartley - Drums, Percussion
*Miller Anderson - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar
*Henry Lowther - Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Violin, Piano, Brass Arrangements
*Jim Jewell - Tenor Saxophone
*Gary Thain - Bass Guitar
*Dave Caswell - Flugelhorn, Euphonium, Trumpet, Electric Piano, Brass Arrangements
*Lyle Jenkins - Tenor Saxophone, Flute, Baritone Saxophone
*Stewart Wicks - Piano, Organ
*Del Roll - Percussion

Keef Hartley's brands
1968-72  Not Foolish Not Wise
1969  Halfbreed (2008 Esoteric)
1969  The Battle Of North West Six  (2008 Esoteric)
1970  Overdog (2005 Eclectic)
1971  Little Big Band
1972  Seventy Second Brave (2009 Esoteric)
1972  Lancashire Hustler (2008 Esoteric)

Related Act
1971  Miller Anderson - Bright City

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