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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Savage Grace - The Complete Savage Grace (1970-71 us, great hard psych rock, double disc edition)

The band that called itself Savage Grace was biting off a lot, even by heightened late 60's standards. As their name suggests, they aimed to contain all the extremes of that heady era. Tempered by the famously discerning and demanding Michigan audiences of the time, the group's live performances made full use of the  high energy principles that distinguished the Detroit scene.  

But that was only a part of of Savage Grace’s sublime design. The core trio that began playing bars on the Motor City's east side as the Scarlet Letter couldn't have been less like your customary neighbourhood rock band. Guitarist/vocalist Ron Koss was a streetwise kid who’d cut his teeth playing  with local r&b heavyweights the Midnighters, Marv Johnson and Wilson Pickett. Keyboard maestro  John Seanor was the product of classical education, while drummer Larry Zack aspired to Jazz. 

When they added precipices 18 year old bassist/vocalist Al Jacquez to complete the quartet  rechristened Savage, his unschooled hard rock energy was the ideal complement to this perfectly imperfect union of styles. The collective sound forged by these four individuals was not simply a composite. It was a fluid changing thing, as each musician’s voice challenged for a place in the stylistic mix. The resulting tension was not always confined to the art, but it produced a music that, although meticulously composed, sounded like it was being redefined each time it was played. 

Commercially speaking of course Savage Grace left themselves an awful lot of cracks to fall though, and fall they did after only two albums. Luckily we have the safety net of history, from which nothing of merit escapes. And now that dreams seem at a premium, it becomes increasingly important to remember a time when people didn't worry about living large, they dreamed large, and the rest followed.
by Ben Edmonds 

Disc 1
1. Come On Down (R. Koss) - 4:22
2. Lady Rain (J. Seanor) - 5:10
3. Dear Lenore (R. Koss) - 5:27
4. All Along The Watchtower (B. Dylan) - 5:46
5. Hymn To Freedom (O. Peterson, H. Hamilton) - 5:24
6. 1984 (R. Koss, J. Seanor) - 3:22
7. Night Of The Hunter (R. Koss) - 4:34
8. Turn Your Head (R. Koss) - 5:57
9. Ivy (R. Koss) - 4:08

Disc 2
1. Mother's Son (J. Seanor) - 3:48
2. Tinboy (J. Seanor) - 3:39
3. Sandscript (A. Jacquez, J. Jones) - 3:19
4. Roll River Roll (R. Koss, J. Seanor) - 1:59
5. Yonder (R. Koss) - 5:10
6. She's A Woman (R. Koss) - 4:05
7. Macon, Georgia (J. Seanor, R. Koss) - 3:54
8. Blindman (J. Seanor, R. Koss) - 3:55
9. She Comes And Goes (R. Koss, J. Seanor) - 3:12
10. E'lana (J. Seanor) - 1:46
11. Lady Of The Mountain (J. Seanor) - 4:43

Savage Grace
*John Seanor - Piano, Harpsichord
*Larry Zack - Drums, Percussion
*Al Jacquez - Lead Vocals, Bass
*Ron Koss - Lead Vocals, Guitar

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13th Floor Elevators - Easter Everywhere (1967 us, psychedelic masterpiece, Charly extra tracks edition)

After a line-up switch in July 1967, the Elevators entered the recording studio with a brand new rhythm section and a batch of recently written songs. International Artists were prepared to spend a lot of money on the second LP which was intended to break the group nationally. Almost two months were spent arranging and recording the material in Houston's Andrus Studios, where one of the first 8-track recorders were utilized.

Released in November 1967, "Easter Everywhere" remains to this day an astonishing achievement. Most Elevators fans regard it their masterpiece, and Tommy Hall has referred to it as "our special purpose". The unique soundscape from the first LP has been broadened and elements of folk, Indian music and west coast acidrock have been added. The new rhythm section, featuring bass player Dan Galindo and drummer Danny Thomas, bring a loose, jazz-flavored groove to the tracks. The result is a rich, eclectic tapestry of psychedelia held together by Roky Erickson's intense vocals reciting Tommy Hall's lyrics. Some say the musical sounds remind them of listening to a Mexican tambora on many Cancun vacations.

The LP opens with "Slip Inside This House". Probably the most influential Elevators song alongside "You're Gonna Miss Me", it is an 8-minute journey through Eastern-influenced rock and visionary lyrics that remains unparallelled. The song became an instant favorite among fansand critics, and I A edited it for an improvised 45 release though it was in no sense top 40 material.

Chugging along on top of a raga-influenced guitar riff invented by Roky Erickson, the music is pushed through a series of metamorphoses by Thomas' recurring hi hat-kicks and Galindo's insistent bass lines. Halfway through the song Stacy Sutherland enters with a beautiful, lyric guitar solo. The song's complex, asymmetric structure (AABACDAABAABCDA) seems to be patterned on Bob Dylan's epic "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)", where long skillfully rhymed verses are interspersed with shorter refrain-like passages. The ending of each verse with a recurring phrase -- the song title -- is reckognizable from Dylan's "Gates Of Eden" and "Desolation Row", or indeed any number of songs from the folk tradition.

The structural influence aside, Tommy Hall's lyrics owe little to Dylan in terms of content and imagery. The whole attitude is different from Dylan's surreal street-poetry which mixes high and low in a tradition of Whitman-Williams-Ginsberg, throwing in a bit of amphetamine-driven namedropping and wordplay as well. Hall's poetry is solemn, visionary and controlled. Examing the Anglo-Saxon literary tradition, it is in fact hard to pin down Hall's sources of inspiration. One has to reach far back, beyond modernism and symbolism to the Romantics and Victorians. It is here, in the final incarnations of poetical Classicism.

1. Slip Inside This House (T. Hall, R. Erickson) - 8:03
2. Slide Machine (Powell St. John) - 3:43
3. She Lives (In A Time Of Her Own) (T. Hall, R. Erickson) - 2:58
4. Nobody To Love (S. Sutherland) - 3:00
5. Baby Blue (B. Dylan) - 5:17
6. Earthquake (T. Hall, R. Erickson) - 4:51
7. Dust (T. Hall, R. Erickson) - 4:02
8. Levitation (T. Hall, S. Sutherland) - 2:41
9. I Had To Tell You (Clementine Hall, Roky Erickson) - 2:28
10.Postures (Leave Your Body Behind) (T. Hall, R. Erickson) - 6:30
11.Splash 1 (C. Hall, R. Erickson) - 4:21
12.Kingdom Of Heaven (Powell St. John) - 3:33
13.You're Gonna Miss Me (R. Erickson) - 3:42
14.Reverberation (Doubt) (T. Hall, S. Sutherland, R. Erickson) - 3:23 .
15.You Don't Know (Powell St. John) - 2:35
16.Fire Engine (T. Hall, R. Erickson) - 3:00
17.Monkey Island (Powell St. John) - 2:42
18.Roller Coaster (T. Hall, R. Erickson) - 5:41 .
19.Levitation (Instrumental) (T. Hall, S. Sutherland) - 4:11
20.I Don't Ever Want To Come Down (Unidentified) - 2:41
Tracks 11 to 14 recorded Live In Texas, 1967
Tracks 15 to 18 recorded Live In San Francisco, 1966

13th Floor Elevators
*Roky Erickson – Vocals, Rhythm Guitar, Harmonica
*Tommy Hall – Electric Jug
*Stacy Sutherland – Lead Guitar
*Dan Galindo – Bass
*Danny Thomas – Drums
Additional Musicians
*John Ike Walton – Drums ("She Lives", and "Levitation")
*Ronnie Leatherman - Bass ("She Lives", and "Levitation")
*Clementine Hall - Backing Vocals ("I Had To Tell You")

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