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Music gives soul to universe, wings to mind, flight to imagination, charm to sadness, and life to everything.


Thursday, February 28, 2013

Alan Trajan - Firm Roots (1969 uk, remarkable organ driving psych folk rock)

Frustratingly little is known about Alan Trajan, whose sole LP has become one of the rarest singer-songwriter recordings of the late 1960s. Born Alan Robertson in Livingston, outside Edinburgh, he became an accomplished barrelhouse / boogie-woogie pianist in his teens and was part of Edinburgh’s fertile music scene in the late 1960s, where he made friends with David McNiven, leader of the much-loved folk trio (later duo) Bread, Love & Dreams. 

When Decca producer Ray Horricks (perhaps best known for his seminal work with guitarist Davy Graham) spotted the latter at the Edinburgh Festival in 1968, he signed them up, and McNiven introduced him to Robertson. Much taken by his distinctive keyboard style and soulful voice, Horricks offered him the chance to record too.

Featuring heavy organ and searing electric guitar parts on tracks like Speak To Me, Clarissa (addressed to a girl who has OD’d) and the propulsive One Tends To Get Bitter Now And Again, mellower numbers such as the beautiful Thoughts (featuring Graham) and a heartfelt cover of David Ackles’ Down River, as well as three good-timey Dylan covers, which reflected his long apprenticeship playing in pubs, it’s a varied and unusual collection whose surreal lyrics and frequently despairing atmosphere ensured poor sales when it appeared on MCA in 1969. 

Robertson was prevailed upon by his manager to change his name to Trajan for the LP’s release (he believed Robertson sounded too Scottish, and decided that the expansionist Roman Emperor’s name was more distinctive), but neither it nor the extracted 45 (Speak To Me, Clarissa / This Might Be My Last Number) sold, and he soon reverted to his real name.

Having contributed memorable organ parts to Bread, Love and Dreams’s classic Amaryllis LP in 1970, he went on to forge a partnership with Scottish blues singer Tam White, with whom he made a musical TV series for Grampian in the early 70s, before relocating to London. 

There he played in innumerable pubs and became part of legendary jazzer George Melly’s band for many years, but his hard-drinking landed him in prison and he died of liver disease at the start of this century. It is to be hoped, however, that this first CD issue of Firm Roots will focus attention on his overlooked gift as a musician and singer-songwriter, one whose idiosyncratic compositions straddled soul, folk, pop, psychedelia and progressive rock at a time when few were daring to be as diverse.

1. Speak To Me, Clarissa - 4:09
2. One Tends To Get Bitter Now And Again - 2:18
3. Thoughts - 2:36
4. Highway 51 Blues (Bob Dylan) - 1:57
5. This’ll Drive You Off Your Head - 2:16
6. Mental Destruction - 2:35
7. Time - 3:08
8. Down River (David Ackles) - 3:43
9. Corinna, Corinna (Bob Dylan)  - 2:40
10.This Might Be My Last Number - 2:30
11.Girl From The North Country (Bob Dylan)  - 2:19
12.Charles Russell, Gtr., Vcl. & Harmonica - 4:00
All songs by Alan Trajan except where noted.

*Alan Trajan - Vocals, Keyboards, Piano, Organ
*Davy Graham - Guitars
*David McNiven - Guitars, Keyboards

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Major Arcana - Major Arcana (1976 us, dreamy stoned acid folk blues psych, Korean remaster)

Collectors have long known about Milwaukee's Major Arcana, but I'm surprised it hasn't attracted more mainstream attention.  Jim Spencer originally made his name as a writer/publisher, responsible for a series of early-1970s underground magazines, including Freek.  He also found time to record a pair of mid-1970s solo LPs that attracted local attention, but did little on the national scene. 

In 1974 he decided to form a band, recruiting the talents of bassist Michael Burdecki, lead guitarist Randall Dubis, and percussionist Jim Kitchen.  Released on Spencer's own A Major Label (which also released the highly sought after Anonymous album), "Major Arcana" served as a showcase for Spencer who handled all of the vocals and was credited with writing, or co-writing nine of the ten songs (the one exception being a cover of the traditional 'Greensleeves').  Propelled by Spencer's likeable voice (for some reason every time I listen to the LP I think of Jack Black in 'High Fidelity'), musically the album was hard to describe since it bounced all over the horizon including stabs at conventional blues, commercial ballads, folk-rock, Dr. John-styled funk ('Papa Doc') and even jazzy interludes. 

Curiously lots of reviews have slapped a 'psych' label on the LP.  Frankly that's the one genre I just don't hear much of - maybe a little in side two's 'Down Under Blues' and the closing 'Greensleeves'.  Maybe I'm simply going deaf ...   In spite of some cheesy synthesizers, co-written with Milwaukee poet Charles Dynzof (aka Chuck Simmons), 'Western Wind' started the album off with a stunning ballad, with 'Shake Me' and 'Steal Your Love Back Home' turning in equally engaging mid-tempo pop pieces.  It wasn't perfect.   'Deanna Durbin Blues' and 'Fran's Blues' were okay, if unexceptional blues numbers. 

Interestingly guitarist Dubis went on to pursue the genre in his post-Major Arcana career (see below).  Elsewhere, courtesy of buddy Sigmund Snopek III, the flute interludes quickly became an irritant.  Still, the album's loose, low tech feel more than compensated for the somewhat fragmented musical lineup, making it a perfect LP to play on one of those cold, rainy or snowy Sunday mornings when you can't get much energy going.  

Depending on which source you use, between 1,000 and 2,500 copies were pressed.  Regardless, the LP's hard to find.  Original copies are also worth owning for the cool Denis Kitchen cover art (the only album cover he's ever done), as well as the hard to find Peter Poplaski poster insert.  

On a related note, in 1999 Kitchen had artist Roger May convert the original print into 3D.  I believe he had 100 copies printed (I own #76) and he sells signed artist print copies for $50 over the internet. Suffering from a number of personal issues and apparently heavily into drugs, Spencer died of a stroke.  He was only 39 years old.

In the late-1970s Dubis moved to Denver, Colorado where he ended up touring with a number of local acts including the late Son Seals and Sonny Rhodes.  He also formed The Randall Dubis Band which has released a series of albums.

1.  Western Wind  (Charles Dynzof, Jim Spencer) - 5:03
2.  Dark Trip To Edge City   (Jim Spencer, Barry Patton) - 4:13
3.  Shake Me   (Jim Spencer) - 3:32
4.  Steal Your Love Back Home  (Jim Spencer) - 4:27
5.  Deanna Durbin Blues  (Jim Spencer) - 4:39
6.  Down Under Blues  (Jim Spencer) - 4:53
7.  Papa Doc  (Jim Spencer) - 5:31
8.  Back In The Spirit  (Jim Spencer) - 4:38
9.  Fran's Blues   (Charles Dynzof, Jim Spencer) - 5:16
10.Greensleeves  (Traditional Arranged By John Nebi,  Jim Spencer,  Sigmund Snopek Iii) - 3:25

Major Arcana
*Michael Burdecki - Bass, Slide Guitar
*Randall Dubis - Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals
*Jim Kitchen - Percussion, Harmonica
*Jim Spencer  - Vocals, Guitar

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Monday, February 25, 2013

Quatrain - Quatrain (1965-69 us, incredible garage acid folk psych, 2008 Sundazed extra tracks edition)

Back in 1968, Tetragrammaton Records of Beverly Hills, Bill Cosby’s label, released a local Los Angeles group’s only recorded album, Quatrain. The group consisted of Don Senneville, one of Los Angeles’ more creative lead guitarists, Steve Lindsay on bass guitar, Rick Pease on rhythm guitar, and Jim Lekas on drums. The record album was produced and engineered by the late David Briggs, Neil Young’s producer for many years.

Those of us who were fortunate enough to be part of the excitement and enchantment of Los Angeles’ psychedelic and popular music movement between 1964 and 1969 gaze back glowingly and longingly upon those halcyon and magical times. Quatrain was part of the flow and pulse of the musical weaves in those politically and socially turbulent, but equally carefree and provocative moments in Los Angeles. 

Los Angeles was truly something in the 1960s: Open, creative, still innocent, but growing bolder and openly seeking new musical and sociological paths.  The Watts Riots, the Sunset Strip music scene, love-ins, sit-ins, free love, drugs, and the Laurel and Topanga Canyon scenes marked the bright side.  Viet Nam dragged on, and Armstrong would soon walk on the Moon.

But the foreboding and chilling event that marked the culmination of the 1960s was the rude awakening brought about by the Tate and Labianca tragedies. Innocence in Los Angeles had been forever lost, and Quatrain went through the changes warily, like everyone else in the summer of 1969.

Quatrain was a garage band out of the San Fernando Valley and was originally formed in 1963 as The Fourth Shadow by founding members Senneville and Pease, with Lekas joining to play drums and sing in November of 1964 after a stint as an aerospace worker and part-time surf band drummer. Pease was a talented folk musician and excellent writer, as was Senneville.

Bassist Mark Johnson and guitarist Bruce Epstein were added in early 1965 to complete the first version of the quartet after Pease had gone off to the military. The group was mostly a cover band then.

Tireless promoter and personal manager Billy Marcot provided direction and early gigs for the foursome. Roger “Turk” Anderson and a young but sagacious Russ Deck were the group’s spiritual advisors and close associates. The group, still called The Fourth Shadow at the time, covered a lot of British Invasion material, with the usual au fait and de rigueur black turtlenecks and sport coats. School hops, parties, and beer bars were typical venues for The Fourth Shadow.

From 1965 to 1967, personnel changed periodically and the band’s name changed several times. Other members in the Quatrain evolution included guitarist Tim “Rainbow” Bell, lead singer Cary Brent, backup singer Doug Webb, and most importantly, Steve “Buff” Lindsay, bassist from the popular San Fernando Valley rock group The Boss Tweeds. Lindsay became a solid part of the group on bass, replacing the departing Mark Johnson. 

In 1966, the group, then known as The Berries, which was at the time holding court as the house band at The Middle Earth on Ventura Boulevard in Reseda, was signed by Doubleshot Records of Hollywood, but nothing materialized except for a national Pillsbury radio jingle for “Gorilla Milk,” a breakfast mix product that went nowhere, much like two singles released on Doubleshot by The Human Jungle, as the boys were known, with Joe Hooven and Hal Wynn as producers. Wynn and Hooven had previously struck gold with The Count Five’s “Psychotic Reaction,” and Brenton Wood with “The Oogum-Boogum Song” and “Gimme Little Sign.”

The band was booked by Doubleshot to play a dance in Pasadena as The Plastic Zoo, and the embarrassment of performing under that name for one gig was obviated by the opportunity to share the bill as one of five groups with the then just-formed, talented, and up and coming Three Dog Night.

The Plastic Zoo and The Human Jungle experiments, and the affiliation with Doubleshot Records, ended as quickly as they had begun, and the boys thankfully returned to playing clubs around Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley as The Berries. 

In 1967, Lekas suggested “Quatrain” as a new name after spending a few weeks reading the quatrains of Omar Khayam. The group agreed to the change, and the new name stuck.

1. Fragments - 4:14
2. Unconquered Islands - 3:17
3. Flowing Robes - 3:20
4. Fields of Love - 2:26
5. Canyon Women - 1:22
6. Rollin - 3:09
7. Black Lily - 3:23
8. Early Morning Company - 2:54
9. Ask Me No Questions (Steve Lindsay) - 2:58
10. Try To Live Again - 3:00
11. Masquerade (Don Senneville) - 2:42
12. The Tree - 5:36
13. Towering Buildings - 4:19
14. So Much For Royalty - 3:57
15. Unforeseen Regrets - 4:43
16. When Will You Happen to Me (Don Senneville, Jim Lekas) - 4:21
17. Let You Go - 3:14
18. Sun Came Up - 4:48
19. Get A Life - 4:06
20. Ghosts Over the Sunset Strip - 4:59
All compositions by Jim Lekas, except where indicaded.
Tracks 13-20  Previously Unissued

*Don Senneville - Lead Guitar
*Steve "Buff" Lindsay - Bass Guitar
*Eric Pease - Rhythm Guitar
*Jim Lekas - Drums

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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Stu Nunnery - Stu Nunnery (1973 us, wide country folk rock, Vinyl edition)

If you’ve never heard of Stu Nunnery, you’re probably not alone, but it would be your loss. Nunnery is a singer/songwriter who released one self-titled album on the short-lived Evolution label in 1973. The nine-song LP showcased a heady talent, playing a mix of folk-rock that fans of Dan Fogelberg, James Taylor, Gordon Lightfoot and Jackson Browne should connect with immediately. 

Yet, Nunnery sounded like no one else. And if you’ve never heard him, read and listen on, for there’s plenty of great music to discover here.

Stu Nannery
"My story is a simple one. I did one album in 1973-74. Over the next couple of years, two of the cuts from that album“Madelaine” and “Sally From Syracuse”reached the Top 100 on the American charts. And in 1976 after I had left the company I was with“Lady It’s Time To Go,” which is on the flip side of the album, became the #1 Record in Rio de Janeiro and San Paulo, Brazil. 

And it was my recording of it, sold to a label called Copacabana Records, which was part of the RCA stable. And in 1976, I got a phone call after I had left the record company I was with, telling me I was a big star in South America, and, “Can you come down here and perform?”

1. The Isle Of Debris - 5:30
2. And That's Fine With Me - 3:35
3. Sally From Syracuse - 3:58
4. Madelaine - 3:30
5. Lady It's Time To Go - 3:30
6. Your Rise - 2:51
7. Diminished Love - 3:23
8. The Lady In Waiting - 3:28
9. Roads - 5:10
All songs by Stu Nunnery

*Andy Muson, Kirk Hamilton, Stu Woods - Bass
*Alan Schwartzeberg, Rick Marotta - Drums
*Eric Weissberg, Ken Kosek - Fiddle
*Al Gordoni, David Spinozza, Elliot Randall, Hugh McCracken, John Tropea - Guitar
*Buzzy Feiten - Bass
*Paul Griffin - Keyboards, Synthesizer
*Stu Nunnery -  Guitar, Vocals

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Sawbuck - Sawbuck (1972 us, excellent west coast psych with southern rock taste, Vinyl issue)

Sawbuck formed 1970  in San Francisco. On an office remodeling job, Ronnie Montrose met promoter Bill Graham, who introduced him to his partner, producer David Rubinson. Graham and Rubinson owned a small record label called Fillmore Records, and signed a recording contract with Sawbuck. 

Rubinson was especially impressed by Montrose--s talent and ambition. He set the guitarist up for session work with the Pointer Sisters and keyboardist Herbie Hancock before he arranged for Montrose's big break.

Montrose had been in the process of recording what would have been his first album with Sawbuck when David Rubinson, the producer, arranged an audition with Van Morrison. Montrose got the job and played on Morrison's 1971 album Tupelo Honey. 

Mojo Collins remembers,
One day I stumbled into the office of the Fillmore and met the secretary Annie, we quickly became friends and she opened the door for me to get a 45 record to Bill Graham, owner and manager of theJefferson Airplane and Marty Balin. He liked the record and I got hooked up with Annie and her friend Starr Donaldson who was playing Wolfie in the San Francisco version of "Hair" at a local theatre. 

We became friends and later I met Ronnie Montrose and Chuck Ruff along with Bill Church, who replaced our original bassist Kooch. This was the basic foundation for what became Sawbuck. We were signed to Fillmore Records and an album entitled "Sawbuck" was recorded in 1970-71 produced by the famed David Rubinson who also produced Moby Grape, Santana, Janis Joplin, The Chambers Brothers, Elvin Bishop, Cold Blood and Tower of Power.

For the next year or so we toured and opened for major acts and played the final week of the Fillmore West before it closed. During the making of the album, Ronnie was approached to do some commercial jingles and one was heard by Van Morrison, and Ronnie was gone, he later wound up with Edgar Winter and recruited Chuck Ruff from Sawbuck for The Edgar Winter Group, and that pretty much ended our tenure as a performing band. 

I came home to NC and tried to put together another Sawbuck, with my brother David Collins and a few of his friends, we toured for awhile when the album was released but fizzled out because of lack of support from the label. Around this time David Rubinson and Bill Graham split there partnership and Sawbuck was shelved. 

1. Sing This Song - 3:50
2. Wound Up - 2:35
3. Oo Lolla Moore - 3:26
4. Virginia Woman (In Gear) - 3:07
5. There Will Be Love - 3:02
6. Believe - 3:07
7. Reno - 2:29
8. Mayday - 3:04
9. Sweet and Sour - 2:57
10.Lovin' Man - 2:35
11.Bible Burning - 4:03
12.Promised Land - 5:27
All songs written by Mojo Collins except Reno' written by Stephen Hatley and Chuck Ruff.

*Mojo Collins - Lead vocals, Guitars
*Starr Donaldson - Guitar, Vocals
*Chuck Ruff - Drums
*Stephen Hatley - Keyboards, Acoustic Guitar
*Nine Year – Bass
Guest Musicians
*Ronnie Montrose – Guitar Track 6 & 10
*Bill Church – Bass
*Boots Rolph Stuart Hughston - Saxophone
*Andrew Narell - Steel Drum
*Sami - Congas
*Hungria Carmello Garcia - Timbales
*Arsinio Avizaro - Vocals
*Raymond Clough - Vocals

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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Gulliver - Ridin' The Wind (1979 us, slight guitar symphonic rock, Vinyl edition)

L.A. short lived group, formed round 1978 as Galaxy and changed their name to Gulliver. Most well known member of Gulliver was guitarist Joe Weider who has previously being part of  Eric Burdon's Animals and Family among others.

Gulliver's musical directions where a mix of symphonic rock with easygoing guitar parts (electric and acoustic). A single "Wonder of It All"  and their sole LP "Ridin' The Wind" was released in 1979,  they split soon after.

1. Miracle Tonight - 2:21
2. Lovin' a Dream - 3:04
3. Wonder of It All - 3:04
4. Bright Lights - 3:55
5. Ridin' the Wind - 4:58
6. Danger in the Night - 2:52
7. Heartaches and Heartaches - 3:59
8. Wild Bells - 3:34
9. No Living Without You - 3:19
10.See It Comin' - 3:21

*Dana Buck - Bass, Vocals
*David Buck - Drums, Vocals
*David Garron - Bells, Chimes, 12 String, Electric Guitar, Vocals
*John Weider - Guitar, Vocals

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Friday, February 22, 2013

Peter Thorup With Friends - Wake Up Your Mind (1970-71 denmark, standout tough blues rock)

Peter Thorup well known Danish Blues-Rock musician gained an international reputation because of his cooperation with Blues icon Alexis Korner in New Church, CCS and Snape in the early 70s. After he dispended his first Band The Beefeaters in 1969, Thorup was helped by some old friends from famous Danish groups Young Flowers, Burning Red Ivanhoe, The Beefeaters, Rainbow Band to record "Wake Up Your Mind" in February and March 1970. 13 titles were recorded of which 7 found its way on in 1970 on Philips released album "Wake up Your Mind". 

The music was not restricted to just Blues-Rock and consequently this release had a much wider appeal as the rest of Peter Thorups efforts. The album reflects the musicians good reputation and it is rather a band project than a solo effort. Fantastic guitar playing by Peter Thorup and Peer Frost (Young Flowers), gorgeous vocals by P.T. and Ole Fick (Burning Red Ivanhoe), excellent organ work by Morten Kjaerumgard and impressive flute and sax playing by Bent Hesselmann (Maxwells, Rainbow Band/Midnight Sun) define this real killer. 

Beside the original album tracks, there are 6 bonustracks featuring among others Hendrix´ "If 6 was 9" in an real killer 8 minutes version and 11 Minutes opus "I dreamed I was a dog last night" by Ole Fick. Package comes with comprehensive booklet, band history, photos, digitally remastered. A must have. 

1. Worried Blues (Trad. Arr. Thorup) - 8:09
2. Coming Home Baby (Tucker) - 5:07
3. Keep It Up (Thorup) - 6:27
4. Running Wild (Thorup) - 4:05
5. I'm Coming Home (Stables) - 3:10
6. Grand Mother Watch Your Son (Thorup) - 4:24
7. Wake Up Your Mind (Thorup) - 6:37
8. Looking For Fun (Fick) - 4:17
9. Little Sister (Thorup) - 6:10
10.So Much Means A Lot (Thorup) - 5:51
11.You Got The Power (Frost, Igemann, Goudman) - 6:59
12.If Six Was Nine (Hendrix) - 7:30
13.I Dreamed I Was A  Dog Last Night (Fick) - 11:00

*Peter Thorup - Guitar, Vocals
*Ole Fick - Vocal, Guitar, Piano, Harmonica
*Max Nhuthezh - Vocals, Percussion, Drums
*Bent Hesselmann - Saxophone, Flute
*Peer Frost - Guitar
*Nils Henriksen - Guitar
*Morten Kjarumgaard - Organ
*Peter Ingeman - Bass
*Erik Stedt - Bass
*Steen Munte Jensen - Drums
*Ken Gudman - Drums

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Edge - Edge (1970 us, fascinating hard rock with blues 'n' psych splashes, 2009 edition)

I was a member of Edge off and on for three years.  After we left The American Revolution, Richard, Dave and I hooked up with two guys we had met in Honolulu - Bob and Eddie (can't remember their last names).  They came to Los Angeles, and we hooked up with a producer named Norm Malkin, and recorded and released a single, written by Richard and myself. 

 It was called "Something New" b/w "Seen Through the Eyes" (which is available on one of the Pebbles CDs).  Eddie and Bob left, and were replaced by a guy named Barry McCoy, who played organ (circa 1969).  Donnie Branker came back to manage us.  We recorded an album for Norm, but he couldn't place it, and eventually we broke up.  

We did open for Three Dog Night and Sweetwater.  About a year later, in 1970,Richard called me to say that he'd been recording with Dave and a British bass player, but the bass player had had to go back to England.  He asked if I’d like to join them?  I said okay, but I wasn't playing much bass.  I joined as guitarist/keyboard, and played a little bass.  

We then found a guy named Galen Murphy who could play bass.  We finished that album and released it through Nose Records, an independent label, but it was a terrible album.  There were too many different styles, and a terrible mix.  I left the group soon after and got married. 
by John Keith

Barcellona and Keith had earlier played together in American Revolution and Novogorski had been with Boston Tea Party making it likely that this was a Hollywood band although it is frequently reported as a San Francisco band.

1 Callin' Out  (John Keith) - 2:29
2 Sing Your Song (Richard Barcellona) - 3:06 
3 A New Breed of Man (Gallen Murphy) - 3:05 
4 Lady of Darkness (Richard Barcellom, Gallen Murphy, David Novogroski) - 4:15 
5 Movin' On (Richard Barcellona) - 2:28 
6 The Story of Angelique (Richard Barcellona) - 3:45 
7 Starvin' Man (Richard Barcellona) - 3:50 
8 Ribbon And Bow (John Keith) - 2:29 
9 Money Slave (Richard Barcellona) - 3:10 

Richard Barcellona - Vocals, Lead Guitar
John Keith - Vocals, Organ, Bass, Acoustic Guitar
Gallen Murphy - Vocals, Bass, Acoustic Guitar
David Novogroski - Vocals, Drums, Percussion

Related act
1968  The Boston Tea Party

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Boston Tea Party - The Boston Tea Party (1968 us, fine psychedelic rock, 2010 edition)

A new historical fact has come to up teachers of history, writers of textbooks and unshakeable New England traditionalists: The Boston Tea Party didn't take place in Boston. At least not in the musical sense.

The Boston Tea Party actually happened in beautiful downtown Burbank when five young guys got together in 1963 to strike out for their own brand of musical independence. Truly revolutionary in spirit, the group is unique in that it has no "leader." Each o the members, all accomplished musicians, contributes his share of musical ideas.

The result of this communal effort is an infinite variety of messages mwith more precise musicianship, more exciting performances, than might have happened under the tutelage of a single drivinq force. Richard DePerna, Bass Guitarist and arranger, insists that the group's in-person sound be as excellent as their recorded perfomances. Mike Stevens, Lead guitarist, writes much of the material which is original, topical and abundant in richly poetic imagery.

Organist Robert DePerna and Drummer Dave Novogroski are responible for holding together The Boston Tea Party's tight ensemble sound. Travis Fields, Lead Singer - who also writes material for the group - has that rare gift of addressing the listener in a very personal way. He cares. As does every member of the group.

Visually, The Boston Tea Party is a knock-out in costumes of the 1775 era. But the gimmicks end. After all is said and done, it's the music - a pure, unique, accomplished sound- of The Boston Tea Party that counts.

1. I'm Tellin' You (Mike Stevens, Travis Fields) - 2:50
2. Straighten Up and Fly (Mike Stevens, Travis Fields) - 4:16
3. I Found a Way - 2:00
4. Fantasy - 2:43
5. We Have Already Died - 2:40
6. Free Service (Travis Fields, Mike Stevens, Richard DePerna) - 2:39
7. Just Pretend You're Sherry (Mike Stevens, Richard DePerna) - 3:36
8. In There Shoes - 2:51
9. The Time Being (Mike Stevens, Richard DePerna) - 6:46
10.Please Be Glad - 2:32
All songs by Mike Stevens except where noted

The Boston Tea Party
*Travis Fields - Vocals
*Mike Stevens - Guitar
*Richard DePerna - Bass
*Robert "Mike" DePerna - Organ
*David "Dave" Novogroski - Drums

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Monday, February 18, 2013

Pacific Gas And Electric - Get It On / The Kent Records Sessions (1968 us, awesome blues rock, 2009 Ace extra tracks remaster)

For decades, Pacific Gas and Electric’s “Get It On” has been considered one of the lost classics of blues-rock. Released on three different labels in less than two years, it has been out of print since the early 1970s.

Not long after making this record, the group signed a big recording deal with Columbia, where their engaging blend of blues, funk, rock and soul won them international acclaim and scored them several hits and best sellers. The “Get It On” sessions presented an altogether more torrid side of PG and E, with the electrifying lead guitar of former James Gang alumnus Glenn Schwartz pushing the group’s black lead singer Charlie Allen to aggressive heights that their later work seldom achieved. 

This energetic selection of blues and soul standards was mostly cut live on the studio floor, with few to no overdubs - and because it was recorded in this way, I was delighted to find that there were enough alternate takes, unissued jams and finished masters to double the original running time of the album for this CD. Many of these were mixed down for this release by Ace’s good friend Rob Keyloch, who has done remarkably well in staying true to the spirit of the original 1968s mixes.
by Tony Rounce

1. Wade In The Water (Arr. By Frank Cook, Freddy Demann) - 6:11
2. Cry, Cry, Cry (Deadric Malone) - 5:25
3. Motor City's Burning (Al Smith) - 6:45
4. The Hunter (Booker T. Jones, Carl Wells, Al Jackson Jr, Donald Dunn, Steve Cropper) - 3:21
5. Long Handled Shovel (Pacific Gas And Electric) - 3:31
6. Jelly Jelly (James Cotton) - 6:39
7. Stormy Times (Brent Block) - 2:43
8. Live Love (Tom Marshal) - 3:21
9. My Sweet Baby (Take 6) - 2:49
10. Dirty Mistreater (Take 2) - 3:02
11. Wade In The Water (Undubbed Version) - 4:54
12. Cry, Cry, Cry (Take 2) - 6:33
13. Stormy Times (Take 9) - 2:53
14. Long Handlded Shovel (Take 8) - 3:53
15. Jelly Jelly (Take 1) - 7:31
16. The Hunter (Take 1) - 5:07
17. Blues Chant (Take 2) - 3:36
Bonus tracks 9-17 from the Kent Records Sessions

Pacific Gas And Electric
*Charlie Allen - Vocals
*Brent Block - Bass,  Fuzz Bass
*Frank Cook - Drums
*Tom Marshall - Rhythm Guitar
*Glenn Schwartz - Lead Guitar
*Joe Sample - Organ, Piano

more Gas
1969-70  Pacific Gas And Electric / Are You ready
1970  Live 'N' Kicking At Lexington

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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Jonesy - Ricochet Pioneering In (1972-73 uk, gorgeous and luminescent fusing improvisational jazz to prog rock, 2007 release)

Formed by brothers John and Trevor Jones, this prog rock band had three albums out on the Dawn label in the early 1970s. Always racked by internal tensions, there were various musician changes along the way. 

With their three early-'70s Dawn albums fetching high (high!) prices in the collector shops, it was a good thing El took up the cause in 2007 and released a collection of Jonesy's material, titled Ricochet: Pioneering in 1972-1973, that the rest of us could afford. 

Culling tracks from their scant three LPs (1972's No Alternative, as well as 1973's Growing and Keeping Up), El put together a pretty representational spread of tunes. The band had two major facets -- thundering, King Crimson-esque prog and drug-addled psychedelia -- and both get equal billing on Ricochet. 

The title track from their debut, No Alternative, was a heavy, greasy, muscular piece of early prog, while "Ricochet" (from the same record) injects discotheque glam into the complex, surging heaviness, recalling the theme music from the sci-fi television show Space: 1999. For sheer, psychedelic exuberance, check the signature jam, "Jonesy." 
by J. Scott McClintock

1. 1958 (John Evans Jones) - 7:56
2. Ricochet (John Evans Jones) - 5:00
3. No Alternative (John Evans Jones) - 7:40
4. Reprise (John Evans Jones) - 1:04
5. Preview (Jamie Kaleth) - 2:00
6. Questions and Answers (Jamie Kaleth) - 5:16
7. Children (John Evans Jones) - 9:00
8. Know Who Your Friends Are (Jonesy) - 6:14
9. Jonesy (Jonesy) - 11:39

*Jamie Kaleth - Mellotron, Piano, Vocals
*John Evans Jones - Lead Guitar, Harmony Vocals
*David Paull - Vocals, Bass (Tracks 1-4)
*Jim Payne - Drums (Tracks 1-4)
*Trevor "Gypsy" Jones - Vocals, Bass (Tracks 5-9)
*Alan Bown - Electric Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Percussion (Tracks 5-9)
*Richard "Plug" Thomas – Drums, Percussion, Vocals (Tracks 5-9)

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Bold - Bold (1969 us, nice distinct psych folk rock, 2011 O Music digi pak release)

Bold traces its roots back to the mid-1960s when band members met while attending the University of Massachusetts.  As The Esquires the group recorded a one-off 1965 single for Tom Salem's Salem label ('Shake a Tail Feather' b/w 'Down the Track' (Salem catalog number SR-003).  As 'Steve Walker & the Bold' the group reappeared with a 1966 single on Cameo ('Gotta Get Some' b/w 'Robin Hood' (Cameo catalog number C-430)).  That was followed by a 1967 release for Dynovoice (Train Kept a-Rollin'' b/w ''I Found What I Was Looking For (Dynvoice catalog number 232).

Opening slots supporting Boston dates for nationally recognized acts like Big Brother and the Trucking Company and Taj Mahal brought the group local recognition, as well as a new name - 'The Bold'.   1969 found the band (now streamlined to 'Bold') signed to ABC.  With a line-up comprised of singer/bassist Walker, keyboardist Mike Chmura, guitarists Dick La Freniere and Robert La Palm and drummer Timothy Griffin, their cleverly titled debut album "Bold" teamed them with producer Bill Szymczyk. 

 Featuring a mixture of covers and original material with contributions from everyone but Griffin, musically the album was quite different from their earlier garage sides.  A nice example of then-prevailing popular tastes, most of the collection wasn't particularly original, but showcased a pleasant mixture of Buffalo Springfield-styled country-rock (including an enthusiastic cover of Stephen Stills' 'For What It's Worth'), folk-rock (a nifty cover of Dylan's 'All I Really Want To Do'), some surprisingly accomplished progressive moves (the instrumental 'Lullaby Opus Four') and some decent West Cost-ish psych moves (the jazzy 'Crystal Chambers' was quite impressive).  

Other highlights include Walker's Beatles-flavored 'Friendly Smile' and complete with backwards guitar fadeout, the dreamy 'Factory (Version 3)'.  The one truly amazing track is side two's 'Free Fugue'.  If I'd heard this ambient instrumental on a Brian Eno album I probably wouldn't have thought squat about it, but hearing it on an album a full ten years before this kind of stuff became popular is pretty amazing.  

1. Lullaby Opus Four (instrumental) (Mike Chmura) - 2:08
2. All I Really Want To Do (Bob Dylan) - 4:52
3. Friendly Smile (Steve Walker) - 2:52
4. Changing Seasons (Dick La Freniere) - 2:54
5. Factory (Version 3) (Steve Walker) - 3:43
6. Crystal Chambers  (Crystal Chambers) - 7:21
7. Free Fugue (instrumental) (Robert La Palm) - 2:44
8. Child of Love  (Steve Walker) - 4:47
9. For What It's Worth (Stephen Stills) - 3:53
10.It's All Over Now Baby Blue (Bob Dylan) - 5:01
11.Words Don't Make It  (Steve Walker) - 4:17

*Mike Chmura - Keyboards
*Dick La Freniere - Rhythm Guitar
*Robert La Palm - Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals
*Timothy Griffin - Drums, Percussion
*Stephen Walker - Vocals, Bass

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Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Wackers - Wackering Heights (1971 canada / us, charmy, sunny country folk rock, Vinyl issue)

The Wackers were formed in the small Northern Californian town of Eureka by Segarini, Bishop, and singer-guitarist-keyboardist Michael Stull. "We had all met, hung out, and worked together in L.A.," Bob remembers. "Basically, we'd write songs and sing constantly in living rooms. Then at night, we'd get drunk, go out to one of the bars, and play for free, for beer. We did that for weeks, and I got a phone call from Elektra going, 'You owe us some more records.' And I'm going, 'Fine. But I'm not coming to L.A. to do it. I got a great band called the Wackers, and we'd love to make a record, but we'll do it in San Francisco.' They go, 'Ah, we're not sure about that. Who's going to produce it?' And I went, 'Well, I don't know. Who do you got?' For the next few weeks, people would call from L.A. and I would talk to them. I wasn't really impressed with anybody. Then one day I got a phone call from a guy named Gary Usher."

Usher was a major backroom architect of 1960s Los Angeles rock, having co-written some Beach Boys songs (including "In My Room" and "409") with Brian Wilson, and done some renowned albums as a producer, particularly the Byrds' Younger Than Yesterday, The Notorious Byrd Brothers, and Sweetheart of the Rodeo. "The guy had a phenomenal history," enthuses Segarini. "Because I know my rock lore, I knew who he was, and we talked. We're on the phone for like two-and-a-half hours. What sold me on him was, at the end of the conversation he goes, 'Do you know why bums drink their booze out of a paper bag?' I said, 'No.' He said, 'Because they don't want to know when the end is coming.' I went, 'Alright, I'll talk with you.' I called Jac Holzman the next day and said, 'I like this Gary Usher guy. So I'm good with that.'"

The quintet that recorded the Wackers' debut album, Wackering Heights, was completed by bassist Bill "Kootch" Trochim (who'd played with Segarini in the late 1960s in the Family Tree) and drummer Ernie Earnshaw. The more pop-rock- and vocal harmony-oriented sound they were pursuing was reflected not just in the LP's material, but also its production. "We were an anomaly at the time, and proudly so," declares Bob. "We knew that people still loved that music, even though radio had quit embracing it. 

The reason that all three Wackers albums are so acoustic for the most part is because everything we did always started around a kitchen table or a living room coffeetable. We could entertain at a moment's notice anywhere, even without a guitar. We'd go into a place called the Keg in Arcata and be standing in line waiting to order burgers and get a pitcher of beer, and we would sing 'Nowhere Man.' The place would go nuts, and we'd get free hamburgers. The records always reflected what the producer heard, and the producer always heard us around a kitchen table."

Where every song but one on the Roxy album had been penned by Segarini, in the Wackers a more collaborative songwriting process was at work. The tracks (except for a cover of Elvis Presley's "Don't Be Cruel") were sometimes credited to Segarini, Bishop, and Stull; at others to Segarini and Bishop, or Segarini and Stull; and at others, to either Segarini, Bishop, or Stull alone. "Travelin' Time" was written by Segarini, Bishop, and Rita Coolidge, with whom Bob and Randy worked in the early '70s, singing backup vocals on her first album. "Things would come together so fast and fully realized," remarks Segarini. "'Such a Good Thing,' I dreamt that song from beginning to end, almost every word. 

Like the material, the production on Wackering Heights was less ornate than much other rock music in 1971, when the album saw its release. "We went down to Wally Heider's [studio in San Francisco] and cut thirteen complete songs, mixes and all, in ten days," Segarini informed Shakin' St. Gazette. "We were so hot -- neither Randy nor I had been in a studio for a year and a half -- that we just went berserk. In the first four days we recorded nine songs, tracking vocals with no overdubs. It was just time, we couldn't wait, not even long enough to make sure or bully our way to having the album sound like we'd dreamed it would."

When the first album was recorded, according to Segarini, "Usher told us that if it did well, meaning critically or sold a bunch of records or whatever, we could go someplace exotic to cut the next one." Wackering Heights did not make the charts, but it must have done well enough in some regard for Elektra to give the go-ahead for another album. Largely recorded in Montreal, it would give the band some opportunity to reflect their harder-rocking live side -- a story told in the liner notes to the CD reissue of Hot Wacks.
by Richie Unterberger 

1. Travelin' Time (Bob Segarini,  Randy Bishop, Rita Coolidge) - 2:55
2. Body Go Round (Bob Segarini) - 3:00
3. Don't Be Cruel (Elvis Presley, Otis Blackwell) - 2:58
4. Country Queen (Bob Segarini, Randy Bishop) - 3:17
5. Strangers (Bob Segarini, Randy Bishop) - 3:22
6. Don't Put Down The Singer (Randy Bishop) - 3:16
7. I Don't Want My Love Refused (Bob Segarini, Michael Stull) - 2:49
8. White House (Michael Stull) - 3:40
9. I Like (Bob Segarini, Randy Bishop, Barth Bishop) - 2:08
10.On The Way Up (Bob Segarini, Randy Bishop) - 2:29
11.Such A Good Thing (Bob Segarini, Randy Bishop, Michael Stull) - 3:15
12.No Place For The Children (Bob Segarini, Randy Bishop, Michael Stull) - 3:21

The Wackers
*Bob Segarini - Guitar, Vocals
*Randy Bishop - Bass, Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
*Spencer Earnshaw – Drums
*Michael Stull - Guitar, Piano, Vocals
*William "Kootch" Trochim - Vocals, Bass, Slide Guitar

1972  Hot Wacks

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Friday, February 15, 2013

Hudson Ford - Free Spirit (1974 uk, significant progressive folk rock, Vinyl edition)

 Hudson Ford was the name of the band formed by Richard Hudson and John Ford when they split from the Strawbs in 1973. Playing a mixture of folk and rock not unlike the Strawbs they had left, they had a UK chart hit with Pick Up the Pieces peaking at number 8.

The original lineup featured Hudson (playing guitar rather than drums) and Ford, along with Chris Parren on keyboards, Mickey Keen on guitars, and Gerry Conway on drums. Conway left in May 1974 prior to the recording of “Free Spirit” and was replaced by Ken Laws. Mickey Keen left the band in December 1974 and was not replaced. The lineup remained stable from that point until the group dissolved in late 1977.

Their second effort "Free Spirit' saw the light of the day in 1974, and it's a wonderful mix of classic rock, progressive folk and psych vibes, amazing guitar parts and wonderful vocals completes the puzzle of a concise work..

1. Take A Little Word - 6:44
2. Free Spirit - 3:12
3. Mother Mild - 3:55
4. I Don't Want To Be A Star - 6:28
5. Silent Star - 8:27
6. Such A Day - 4:11
7. How Many Times - 3:13
8. Floating In The Wind - 4:19
Words and Music by Richard Hudson, John Ford

Hudson Ford
*Richard Hudson - Vocals, Accoustic Guitar
*John Ford - Vocals, Bass
*Micky Keene - Electric Guitar
*Chris Parren - All Keyboards
*Ken Laws - Drums, Percussion

Related Acts
1967  Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera
1969  Ride A Hustler's Dream

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J F Murphy And Salt - The Last Illusion (1973 us, exceptional folk rock with jazz and country forms, Original Vinyl edition)

J. F. Murphy and Salt was an utterly unique sextet that became a popular college campus fixture during the early 1970s. The band's rebellious stance against the Vietnam War was part of the picture, but it was the original compositions by bandleader, J.F. Murphy, and an overtly creative non-traditional approach to the covers they developed that brought them such a dedicated fan base.

Dropped by MGM the band signed with Elektra.  Produced by Eddie Kramer, 1972's "JF Murphy and Salt" was a mostly live set capturing the band at a series of college performances including dates at The University of Hartford, Nassau Community College, and Trent State College.  The closing country-flavored track ' If Wishes Were Horses' was clearly a studio effort.   

Musically the set showcased the band's weird mixture of blues ('Kansas City'), country ('Country Jam'), jazz-rock fusion, traditional Irish tunes, straight-ahead rock, and social and political activism (the anti-war 'Waiting Hymn of the Republic').  It was definitely different and occasionally a bit disconcerting; particularly when they mixed all the genres together in one song - check out 'First Born', or 'Silver Horn' - the latter having a plotline about young guy trying to pass himself off as a Leprechaun at an Irish dance). Muphy was an okay singer who occasionally reminded me a bit of a bluesier Burton Cummings.  

All six members were impressive musicians (guitarist Joe Parrino deserved special notice), and there was no denying their professionalism, but there just wasn't much here that caught my ear.   The need to stretch out musically also didn't do the band any favors.  Their cover of the blues classic 'Kansas City' went on for over 12 minutes and was basically unlistenable. Guess you had to be in the audience to get the full effect.

1. Sweet Byrd - 3:44
2. Which One - 4:01
3. Teenage Fantasy - 3:20
4. Touched By Love - 2:46
5. Bell Toll - 5:16
6. New York City / Home - 10:38
7. Man Who Is Alone - 3:18
8. Last Illusion - 9:59
All compositions by J. F. Murphy

J. F. Murphy And Salt
*Ron Allard - Bagpipes, Soprano-Alto-Tenor Sax, Flute, Tambourine, Backing Vocals
*George Christ - Harmonica, Vibes, Conga, Maracas, Chimes, Backing Vocals
*J.F. Murphy -  Vocals, Piano, Guitar
*Bob Paiva - Drums
*Joe Parrino - Lead Guitar, Trombone, Flute, Backing Vocals
*Russell Warmolts - Bass, Backing Vocals

Related Act
The Merchants Of Dream - Strange Night Voyage 1969

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Jo Jo Gunne - Jo Jo Gunne / Bite Down Hard / Jumpin' the Gun / So... Where's the Show? (1972-74 us, exciting heavy boogie 'n' roll with southern and glam leaks, double disc 2011 issue)

Born out of boogie rock, Spirit (leader Jay Ferguson and bassist Mark Andes had split the group), and a double shot of testosterone, Jo Jo Gunne are best remembered for their urgent hit "Run Run Run" and their third effort's politically incorrect album cover (you could tastefully call that woman "Rubenesque" if it wasn't for the pig pictured with her). 

Still, they deserve to be more than a footnote in American rock, and while this two-disc round-up of their four original albums (that's everything but the reunion, re-recording, and totally fan club worthy Big Chain from 2005) proves the group weren't strong enough to keep up with that hectic, early-'70s release schedule (all of this is from 1972 - 1974) there's plenty of fun to be had. Greasy, early Doobie Brothers-like fun on one hand (tight harmonies, solid, showy musicianship, and boogie all the way) and naughty, macho, brash, and bolder-than-you're-used-to fun on the other ("Shake That Fat," "High School Drool," "S'n'M Blvd," and "Big Busted Bombshell from Bermuda" are all as nasty as they want to be, but are like the Hudson Brothers in their cheeky, vaudeville-esque delivery). 

Their debut album was rich, their sophomore release was looser for the better and the worse, and while their third effort lacked strong songwriting, their fourth and final was a serious step in the right direction, right before Ferguson moved on to a solo career with the hit "Thunder Island." Dotted amongst it all are some forgotten gems, so check out the boogie reggae woman named "Babylon," the prog rock epic titled "Rhoda," and the squawky, Talkbox rocker "She Said Alright," which sounds like Peter Frampton flying high on Cialis. A welcome set for fans of the band and addicts of the era, plus no matter how cool you spray-paint it, you ain't gonna get the "old lady" to "check out" the van without this one. 
by David Jeffries

Disc 1
1. Run Run Run (Matt Andes, Jay Ferguson) - 2:36
2. Shake That Fat (Matt Andes, Jay Ferguson) - 3:47
3. Babylon - 4:04
4. I Make Love - 2:58
5. Barstow Blue Eyes - 3:19
6. 99 Days - 3:23
7. Academy Award - 5:00
8. Take It Easy (Matt Andes, Jay Ferguson) - 4:48
9. Flying Home - 3:15
10.Ready Freddy - 4:02
11.Roll Over Me - 3:28
12.60 Minutes To Go - 4:22
13.Rock Around The Symbol - 2:23
14.Broken Down Man - 3:47
15.Special Situations (Matt Andes, Jay Ferguson) - 4:46
16.Take Me Down Easy - 5:23
17.Wait A Lifetime - 3:28
18.Rhoda  - 4:46

Disc 2
1. I Wanna Love You - 3:52
2. To The Island - 3:48
3. Red Meat - 3:27
4. Getaway - 3:31
5. Before You Get Your Breakfast - 4:12
6. At The Spa - 2:54
7. Monkey Music - 3:24
8. Couldn't Love You Better - 2:59
9. High School Drool - 3:34
10.Neon City - 2:38
11.Turn The Boy Loose - 4:29
12.Where Is The Show? - 3:51
13.I'm Your Shoe - 4:17
14.Single Man - 4:28
15.She Said Alright - 4:40
16.S 'N' M Blvd - 3:55
17.Falling Angel - 3:25
18.Big Busted Bombshell From Bermuda - 2:50
19.Into My Life - 3:19
20.Around The World - 4:02
All song by Jay Ferguson except where indicated.

Jo Jo Gunne
*Jay Ferguson - Keyboards, Vocals
*Mark Andes -Bass, Vocals
*Matt Andes - Guitar, Vocals
*William "Curly" Smith - Drums, Vocals,  Harp
*Jimmie Randall  - Bass, Vocals
*Curly Smith  - Drums, Vocals
*John Staehely  - Guitar, Vocals

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Alexis - Alexis (1977 us, delicate guitar rock with mild harmonies, Vinyl issue)

A slightly Hard Rock band, Alexis are amongst a plethora of American outfits who released product in the 70's and 80's who would fall into legend with collectors thanks to a sole album release even though the record might just have been a little on the average side. 

Alexis' album was recorded at The Record Plant, Los Angeles, CA and produced by Ron Nevison.

1. Fly by Night - 3:49
2. It's About You (Eddie Ulibarri) - 3:54
3. We Need Help Now (Robby Fallberg, Randy Reeder) - 3:17
4. Goodnight My Son (David Martinez, Eddie Ulibarri) - 3:09
5. It's in Your Hands - 3:06
6. Late Night Rocker - 3:52
7. Lord Keeps Account (Larry Braden, Randy Reeder, Dick Walker) - 4:50
8. Moon Worlds - 3:45
9. Elam (Eddie Ulibarri) - 4:50
All songs by Larry Braden, Robby Fallberg, David Peters, Randy Reeder, Eddie Ulibarri, Dick Walker except where noted.

*Eddie Ulibarri - Lead Vocals, Piano, Celeste, Synthesizer
*Robbie Fallberg - Guitars
*Larry Braden - Vocals, Bass
*Dick Walker - Vocals, Piano, Synthesizer
*Randy Reeder - Drums
*Dave Peters - Saxophone, Synthesizer

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The Blend - Anytime Delight (1979 us, pleasant hard rock with southern traces, Vinyl issue)

The Blend was a '70s rock quintet from Maine led by singer/guitarist Jim Drown .Signed  to MCA and accomplished two  albums. and had combined sales of nearly 130,000 records. They even got on Billboard's top 100 at #74 with a bullet.

The Blend had it all. All five were lead singers and songwriters, and  every show was an addictive train ride that led to a climactic explosion several times.

The Blend gained the experience of touring and opening huge shows for a long list of great rock and roll acts (The Who, ZZ Top, Hall and Oates, Charlie Daniels, etc). Their second album under the title "Anytime Delight" released in 1979 and it’s a pleasant hard rockin with some smokin southern blasts.

1. Feel Like I'm Crazy - 3:49
2. Money (Steven Dore) - 5:09
3. Anytime Delight (Steven Dore) - 3:09
4. I'm Not Losin' - 3:15
5. Sky High (Steven Dore, Jeff Joseph) - 4:18
6. Misty Blue (Donnie "D.P." Pomber) - 4:01
7. She Can Take Me - 3:26
8. Will You Be Mine (Steven Dore) - 3:15
9. For Crying Out Loud - 1:58
10.The Prize - 7:03
All songs by Jim "J.D." Drown except where stated

The Blend
*Steven Dore - Guitar, Piano
*Jim "J.D." Drown - Guitar
*Ken Holt - Bass, Vocals
*Donnie "D.P." Pomber - Guitar, Piano
*Skip Smith - Drums

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