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Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Siegel-Schwall Band - Siegel-Schwall (1971 us, excellent chicago blues rock)

Along with the first-wave British Invasion bands like The Rolling Stones, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, and stateside groups like The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, The Siegel-Schwall Band were instrumental in The Great Blues Revival of the 1960's. Like Paul Butterfield, Siegel-Schwall were Chicago-based, serving as the house band at the famed Pepper's Lounge. They earned their spurs backing greats like Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Little Walter and Willie Dixon.

From 1966 until they disbanded in 1974, they ranked among the most important forces in reaching the baby boomer audience that sustains the blues to this day. The Siegel-Schwall Band also pioneered the cross-fertilization of the blues with other forms, performing Bill Russo's "Three Pieces For Blues Band and Symphony Orchestra" in 1968 with the San Francisco Symphony and The Boston Pops. Corky Siegel has continued this expansion of the blues with his project, Chamber Blues.

The current band includes two other genuine notables, bassist Rollo Radford and drummer Sam Lay. Radford's resume stretches from Martha & The Vandellas to Sun Ra, giving him the artistic range to follow wherever Siegel and Schwall want to take the blues. Lay's credentials are awesome. His stellar work with Muddy Waters, Little Walter and The Paul Butterfield earned him entry in both The Blues and The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.

"The word 'legendary' gets thrown around a lot these days, but it seems appropriate to apply to The Siegel-Schwall Band." - Triple Door, Seattle 

1. (Wish I Was On A) Country Road (Jim Post, Corky Siegel) – 3:19
2. Devil (C. Siegel) – 5:10
3. Leavin' (Jim Schwall) – 3:10
4. Corrina (Traditional) – 6:05
5. I Won't Hold My Breath (C. Siegel) – 4:01
6. Next To You (J. Schwall) – 4:20
7. Hush Hush (Jimmy Reed) – 11:06

The Siegel-Schwall Band
*Corky Siegel – Piano, Harmonica, Vocals
*Jim Schwall – Guitar, Vocals
*Rollo Radford – Bass, Vocals
*Shelly Plotkin – Drums

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The Hobbits - Down To Middle Earth (1967 us, smart sunny folk psych, original Vinyl issue)

Folk-rock outfit the Hobbits was the studio project of Queens, New York-born singer/songwriter Jimmy Curtiss, who ranks as one of the more interesting footnotes in the history of rock & roll -- the rare would-be teen idol who actually wrote his own material (and did so admirably), he later expanded his reach into psychedelia and harmony-laden folk-rock, but while the subject of a small cult following, none of his records ever made a commercial dent. 

Curtiss first surfaced in 1959 as a member of the doo wop combo the Enjays and issued his solo debut, "Without You," on United Artists in 1961 -- the label attempted to position him as a teen crooner in the mold of Bobby Vee or Paul Anka, but he failed to make a commercial impact. After a period working as a songwriter he dropped out of music to pursue a career in advertising before resurfacing in 1967 with the bubblegum cult classic "Psychedelic Situation," a major hit in Germany that attracted little attention at home. 

Curtiss then signed to Decca, collaborating with producers Jerry Vance and Terry Phillips and songwriter Marcia Hillman on the Hobbits -- despite borrowing their name from J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings novels and titling their 1967 debut Down to Middle Earth, the Hobbits turned out relatively straightforward sunshine pop, and the album is much sought-after by soft-psych aficionados. The follow-up, Men and Doors: The Hobbits Communicate, appeared in 1968 -- like its predecessor, the record didn't sell, and Decca terminated the contract. 

Curtiss then formed his own label and production company, both dubbed Perception, and helmed an LP and three singles by the psychedelic soul act the Bag, members of which reportedly worked on the Hobbits project as well. Speaking of which, after rechristening the group the New Hobbits, Curtiss released 1969's Back From Middle Earth, essentially a solo effort. According to the liner notes in the second volume of the Soft Sounds for Gentle People series, he eventually ended up in San Francisco, going solely by the initials J.C. -- his current activities and whereabouts are unknown. 
by Jason Ankeny

1. Down To Middle Earth (Alan Bernstein, Jerry Vance, Terry Philips) - 2:52
2. I'm Just A Young Man (Jimmy Curtiss) - 2:53
3. Daffodil Days (The Affection Song) (A. Bernstein, J. Vance, T. Philips) - 3:17
4. Break Away (J. Curtiss, L. Zerato) - 2:53
5. Treatsb (J. Vance, T. Philips) - 2:42
6. Hands And Knees  (J. Curtiss, T. Faranda) - 2:48
7. Let Me Run My Fingers Through Your Mind (Buy Me Flowers) (A. Bernstein, J. Vance, T. Philips) - 2:48
8. Out Of My Mind (J. Curtiss) - 2:39
9. Clap Hands Til Daddy Comes Home (J. Curtiss, T. Philips) - 2:28
10.Sunny Day Girl (Jimmy Curtiss) - 2:32

*Jimmy Curtiss - Vocals

Related Act
1969  Jimmy Curtiss - Life

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