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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Cykle - Cykle (1969 us, fine garage psych, Gear Fab release)

Cykle produced one album's worth of solid garage rock, and it certainly proves that the band was an enthusiastic bunch of musicians. Despite claims to the contrary, Cykle's music cannot be called psychedelia; instead, it's closer in sound to the garage punk that started to come out a couple years before the album was released, in 1969. 

Jimmy Sossamon came up with decent songs, and the band played the hell out of them. Cykle may have been somewhat derivative, but they could occasionally be thrilling, too, and their playing sometimes bursts with a teenage energy that makes the songs fun to listen to. Rave-ups like "If You Can," "Walkout," "Walkin' Through My Mind," and "It's Her" are exciting punkers full of scorching guitar along the lines of the Chocolate Watchband and the great, final raga-fied incarnation of the Vejtables.

This  Gear Fab reissue adds some recordings from Sossamon's pre-Cykle band, the Young Ones, who were certainly of their day, combining hints of the Beatles, instrumental party music, soul, and beach music. The album is filled out with a couple of songs Sossamon wrote for and helped record with the Rhodes Scholars. A distinct departure from Cykle, the Rhodes Scholars played straight pop/rock with full brass arrangements -- much closer to the sound of bands like Chicago and the Buckinghams -- and their songs were actually pretty solid, with quite a bit of commercial potential.
by Stanton Swihart 

1. Too Much Lovin' - The Young Ones (The Young Ones) - 2:12
2. Harbor Melon - The Young Ones (Trad. Arr. The Young Ones) - 2:49
3. Big Teaser - The Young Ones (Sossamon, Hayes, Warwick) - 1:55
4. It's You - The Young Ones (Warwick) - 2:14
5. If You Can - Cykle (Sossamon) - 2:40
6. Walkout (Of My Mind) - Cykle (Sossamon) - 2:13
7. Maiden Girl - Cykle (Sossamon) - 3:06
8. Walkin' Through My Mind - Cykle(Sossamon) - 2:30
9. A Little Faith - Cykle (Sossamon) - 2:49
10.It's Her - Cykle (Sossamon) - 2:01
11.Lesson To Learn - Cykle (Sossamon) - 3:14
12.In Love My Friend - Cykle (Sossamon) - 3:38
13.Do My Thing - Cykle (Sossamon) - 4:03
14.What You Do To Me - Cykle (Sossamon) - 7:26
15.In My Dreams - Jimmy Sossamon (Sossamon) - 2:45
16.In My Dreams - The Rhodes Scholars (Sossamon) - 3:49
17.What's On Your Mind - The Rhodes Scholars (Sossamon) - 2:17

The Young Ones
*Carlton Warwick - Lead Guitar, Lead Vocals
*Johnny Hayes - Bass Guitar, Vocals
*Ronnie Baxley - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
*Jimmy Sossamon - Drums
*Dicky Britt - Organ

*Ralph Stephens - Lead Guitar, Rhythm Guitar, Backup Vocals
*Ken Allen - Lead Vocals
*Jeff Hardin - Rhythm Guitar, Backup Vocals
*Grady Pope - Bass Guitar, Backup Vocals
*Rick Wilson - Organ, Backup Vocals , Lead Vocals ("It's Her")
*Jimmy Sossamon - Drums, Piano, Harpsichord, Vibraphone

The Rhodes Scholars - 1969
*Mike Emmitt - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Steve McCrae - Keyboards, Lead Vocals
*Bill Hartman - Bass Guitar, Trombone, Vocals
*Scott Beazley - Saxophone, Vocals
*Ray Purvis - Trumpet, Vocals
*Bob Whitfield - Drums, Vocals

The Rhodes Scholars - 1969 -1970
*Cleon Nally - Bass Guitar, Vocals
*John Wayne - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Steve McCrae - Keyboards. Lead Vocals
*Jimmy Sossamon - Drums

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Lynn Blessing – Sunset Painter (1969 us, adventurous fusion jazz with country folk flashes, Fallout issue)

Vibist Lynn Blessing is best known for his membership in the jazz-rock band Advancement, who recorded a single, self-titled album in 1969, and as a member of Bill Plummer's Cosmic Brotherhood and Gabor Szabo's studio band. Previously, however, he and Plummer were also an integral part of cornet master Tommy Peltier's Jazz Corps, one of the house bands at the famed Lighthouse between 1963 and 1967. 

Born Cicero, Indiana, 12/4/38, started playing drums at age 10, vibes at age 17, Blessing met Freddie Hubbard in high school and formed his first jazz group with him at that time (Blessing played drums). He also worked with Paul Horn, Martin Denny, Tony Bennett, and Fred Katz. Sunset Painter is Blessing's only date as a leader and was originally issued on Epic in 1969. Produced by Paul Horn, the LP also features pedal steel guitar whiz Sneaky Pete Kleinow, bassist Wolfgang Melz, drummer Mel Telford, and guitarists John Beck and Robert Hirth. Sunset Painter is deeply influenced by sounds coming from Los Angels and San Francisco at the time, particularly those of Laurel Canyon. 

As such, this is not a "jazz" record per se. It is a collection of almost entirely instrumental pop tunes, four of which were written by the rock icons of the day: "Mother Nature's Son," by Lennon and McCartney; "Pinball Wizard," by Pete Townshend; "Country Pie," by Bob Dylan; and "Child of the Universe," by Roger McGuinn. The rest were either self-penned or by the sidemen on the date; Melz and Hirth wrote one apiece. 

The sound is loose, breezy, laid-back, and full of Eastern tinges (acoustic guitars played like sitars with open droning lead and rhythm parts as on the title track with its shimmering 12-string, and Blessing's single-note melodies). Then there is "Mother Nature's Son" done country-raga style -- no kidding. The warm feel of the set offers the same feel as many of Gary McFarland's sides on Skye but is less pop-oriented and more psychedelic in texture. The opener, "Cosmic Cowboy," features Blessing on a pair of harmonicas playing one just behind the other, a popping electric bassline, and breakbeats skittering around the middle before Blessing's vibes enter, resembling something cut out of the hoedown section of Aaron Copland's Billy the Kid. 

The lithe openness on most of this recording is caught perfectly in "Anacalyspsis," where the pedal steel -- playing more like a slide guitar -- engages with Blessing's vibes, and the drums widen out in a slippery country stroll given dimension, texture, and depth by Blessing's solo and sophisticated melodic improvisation. And while it's true that the album is relatively brief, clocking in at exactly 38 minutes, it is a minor masterpiece. 

It's very much of its time and stands in stark contrast to so much of the jazz that was being recorded on the American side of the pond at the time. In some sense, it's not a jazz record, but neither is it a pop, or psych or folk or rock record either. It is all things at once and none of them, but its sense of order, focus, and attention to melody, atmosphere, and brevity make it a wonderfully focused listen. 

While Charles Lloyd was messing about trying out his singing in trying to bring the rock and blues sensibilities to his records, he might have tried hanging out with Blessing, who had the boundaries down and was interested in integration more than extrapolation. Fallout Records in the U.K. reissued this gentle treasure in 2007, and it is well worth seeking out as an experiment that succeeded aesthetically, even if it failed commercially. 
by Thom Jurek

1. Cosmic Cowboy (Blessing) - 3:27
2. Sunset Painter (Blessing) - 2:39
3. Mother Nature’s Son (Lennon, McCartney) - 2:24
4. Anacalypsis (Blessing) - 3:32
5. From Deep Within For Lynn (Melz) - 2:13
6. An Awakening (Hirth) - 5:14
7. Country Pie (Dylan) - 3:21
8. Pinball Wizard (Townshend) - 3:14
9. Emerald River (Sill) - 2:37
10. Child Of The Universe (Grusin, McGuinn) - 1:49
11. “Monk 136” (Hirth) - 4:22
12. Where There Is Grass (Melz) - 3:09

*Lynn Blessing – Vibes, Harmonica
*Wolfgang Melz – Electric Bass
*John Beck – Guitar
*Robert Hirth – Guitar
*Sneaky Pete Kleinow – Steel Guitar
*Mel Telford – Drums

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