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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Oliver Klaus - Oliver Klaus (1967-70 canada, fantastic psych rock)

Unless you lived in Quebec during the late 1960s, you more than likely have never been exposed to the sweet psychedelic sounds of Oliver Klaus. Finally enjoying a CD reissue, more than 30 years after its initial pressing of merely 700 copies, Oliver Klaus's 1967-1970 is a priceless artefact from a bygone era.

Comprised of Jerry Cushen on bass and brothers Bryan and Maurice Singfield, on drums and guitar respectively, Oliver Klaus grew out of the ashes of the locally successful Les Mini-Mod, who gained notoriety for performing in mini-skirts. Disillusioned by the public's interest in their costuming rather than their music, the boys in the band decided to concentrate less on gimmickry and more on composition and experimentation.

The result is the excellent 1967-1970, a melange of 60s pop, folk, rock, and psychedelia. Principal songwriter Maurice Singfield sounds uncannily like Stephen Stills circa Buffalo Springfield and the rest of the band, while a little less polished, follows suit with this comparison. Listening closely to the album one is forced to ask the question: Why didn't Oliver Klaus receive national acclaim similar to fellow Canadians The Guess Who?

The answer is simple. Though they had made many contacts through their constant gigging around Quebec, the group decided to retain complete artistic control by releasing the album themselves. Arguably, Oliver Klaus was the first do-it-yourself band in Canadian music history.

Oliver Klaus's 1967-1970 is a treasure for both the casual psychedelic listener as well as the vinyl junkie. This reissue includes the original LP in its completion, covers of tracks by Donovan ("Season of the Witch"), Jefferson Airplane ("3/5 of a Mile in 10 Seconds"), and even Neil Diamond ("Kentucky Woman"), as well as a slew of stellar unreleased live tracks. Hearing Oliver Klaus will make you wonder how many other great Canadian bands from rock `n' roll's golden era have drifted into obscurity.
by Ryan Wugalter

1. For The Boys - 3:17
2. Walk In The Night - 2:27
3. Here Comes The Sun - 2:23
4. Sunny Day - 2:49
5. Feeling Groovy - 3:04
6. Traveling Song - 2:07
7. Kentucky Woman (Neil Diamond) - 3:52
8. Show Me The Place (Maurice, Bryan Singfield, Jerry Cushen) - 4:02
9. Love You Baby (Maurice, Bryan Singfield, Jerry Cushen) - 2:53
10.Season Of The Witch (Donovan Leitch) - 8:34
11.Break Song (Maurice, Bryan Singfield, Jerry Cushen) - 3:42
12.3/5 Of A Mile In 10 Seconds (Martin Balin) - 3:42
13.Blackberry Side - 4:11
14.Studio Chatter - 0:45
15.Feeling Groovy (Single version) - 3:20
16.Here Comes The Sun (Single version) - 2:14
17.Great Place For Laughing - 4:51
18.Islands Float In Waterloo - 2:36
19.Going To Leave This Place - 3:33
20.The Fuzz - 6:47
21.Do Love Me Do - 2:18
All songs by Maurice Singfield Jr. except where noted.

Oliver Klaus
*Jerry Cushen - Bass
*Bryan Singfield - Drums, Backing Vocals
*Maurice Singfield Jr. – Guitar, Lead Vocals

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Focus - Moving Waves (1971 dutch, remarkable progressive rock, japan remaster)

In 1971 Focus released the storming Moving Waves (Focus II in the Netherlands), complete with 'novelty' hit single Hocus Pocus, fondly remembered by many for Van Leer's bizarre yodelling. The album features the full six-minute plus version of the track, which belies its 'novelty' status by actually being a great piece of music with some truly stupendous playing from guitarist Jan Akkerman. Second track in, Le Clochard is where the Mellotronic interest kicks in; a gorgeous classical guitar and 'Tron strings instrumental, less than two minutes long, this surely has to be classed as one of the Mellotron Classics. 

After another beautiful (if 'Tron-less) instrumental, Janis and the title track, the album's only real weak point, comes another jazz-inflected instrumental, Focus II (the band have recorded eight of these 'theme' tracks to date), with some more 'Tron strings. I would guess that they were using a Mark II on these sessions, recorded at the same Dutch studio as their debut, but it's hard to tell.

The superb Eruption, is a multi-part piece with all the band's disparate influences thrown into the melting-pot to create a unique piece of music. The Mellotron drifts in and out of the piece, probably only appearing for a minute or two of the track's 22 minutes, but so effectively that it hardly matters. The music is stunning, with common themes coming and going and fiery playing from all quarters. This track demonstrates why I shouldn't copy tracklistings from reissue CDs; the multifarious parts of the track are listed differently on the LP and CD, so the listing above is from the original release.

The album that boosted Focus into at least semi-fame outside of continental Europe, Moving Waves blasts off with their hit single, "Hocus Pocus." Built around a killer guitar hook by Jan Akkerman and a series of solo turns by the band, this instrumental replaced "Wipeout" as a staple of FM radio. The bizarrely hilarious vocal and accordion solos by Thijs van Leer -- one of which absurdly concludes with rousing stadium cheers -- have to be heard to be believed. 

After this over-the-top performance, the other tracks seem comparatively constrained: the gentle "Le Clochard" features some gorgeous classical guitar over Mellotron strings. The album concludes with "Eruption," which while mimicking the multi-suite nomenclature of Yes and King Crimson, is essentially a side-long jam session. Stop-time Emersonian organ solos alternate with languid sections of jazzy guitar redolent of Santana, while still other sections are flat-out electric blues-rock stomps. It's impressive playing, though it comes off as a bit meandering after the tightly structured solos that began the album. 
by Paul Collins

1. Hocus Pocus (Jan Akkerman, Thijs Van Leer) - 6:42
2. Le Clochard (Jan Akkerman) - 2:01
3. Janis (Jan Akkerman) - 3:08
4. Moving Waves (Thijs Van Leer) - 2:42
5. Focus II (Thijs van Leer) - 4:03
6. Eruption (Jan Akkerman, Tom Barlage, Thijs Van Leer, E. Nobell, Pierre Van Der Linden) - 23:02

*Thijs Van Leer – Vocals, Flute, Organ, Piano, Mellotron,
*Jan Akkerman – Guitars, Bass
*Cyril Havermanns – Bass
*Pierre van der Linden – Drums

1970  Focus - In And Out Of Focus (Japan remaster)
1972  Focus III  (Japan mini lp release)
Related Act
1969-70  Brainbox - Brainbox (2011 Esoteric expanded)

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Rotary Connection - Black Gold, The Best of Rotary Connection (1967-71 us, elegant soul jazzy sunny psychedelia, two disc set)

Rotary Connection released a handful of albums. The one that had the most mainstream success was Christmas-themed. Only one song, "Want You to Know," dipped into the pop chart, rocketing all the way up to number 96. How necessary, then, is a 33-track, two-disc anthology? 100-percent necessary. Until this release, the group had one of the most neglected discographies in all of psychedelic soul, or chamber pop, or acid rock, or Midwest hippie folk. 

Ugly two-fer releases and other vanishing reissues have done their legacy, and no matter how many producers and DJs have sampled and talked about their music, Rotary Connection have always slipped through the cracks, admired mostly in retrospect by a select group of crate diggers and open-minded fans of Minnie Riperton's easier-to-categorize (and almost always misunderstood) solo career. Black Gold: The Best of Rotary Connection aptly scans through the strange and unexpected twists taken by the group from 1967 through 1971, and while their inability to be categorized played a significant part in their obscurity, it was one of their prime strengths. 

The remarkable scope is best exemplified by a three-song stretch on the first disc: a steamy, almost unrecognizable run through Otis Redding's "Respect," the soaring "I Am the Black Gold of the Sun," and the impossibly delicate and moving "A-Muse" (also as gorgeous as anything off Love's Forever Changes). The package covers a lot of ground, including the entirety of the all-covers Songs and most of the highlights from the remainder of the albums. "Hangin' Round the Bee Tree" is the only missing highlight; otherwise, this is as good as it could possibly get, short of obtaining the albums in full. In addition to being a long overdue look at a very underappreciated group, the set also covers major chapters in the careers of Charles Stepney and Minnie Riperton, two of Chicago's greatest gifts to music. 
by Andy Kellman

Disc 1
1. Magical World (Sidney Barnes) - 4:24
2. Amen (Marshall Paul, Charles Stepney) - 4:03
3. Rapid Transit (Marshall Paul, Charles Stepney) - 0:38
4. Turn Me On (Sidney Barnes) - 3:07
5. Respect (Otis Redding) - 3:04 
6. Pink Noise (Marshall Paul, Charles Stepney) - 0:22
7. I Am the Black Gold of the Sun (Richard Rudolph, Charles Stephney) - 5:49 
8. A-Muse (John Stocklin) - 4:02 
9. Sunshine of Your Love (Pete Brown, Jack Bruce, Eric Clapton) - 5:07
10.Sursum Mentes (Marshall Paul, Charles Stepney) - 0:44
11.Memory Band (Charles Stepney) - 3:22
12.Didn't Want to Have to Do It (John Sebastian) - 3:14
13.May Our Amens Be True (Sidney Barnes, John Stocklin) - 3:04 
14.Tales of Brave Ulysses (Eric Clapton, Martin Sharp) - 4:32 
15.The Sea And She (Richard Rudolph, Charles Stepney) - 3:31
16.Hey, Love (Richard Rudolph, Charles Stepney) - 4:11
17.Song for Everyman (Terry Callier, Larry Wade) - 5:32
18.Love Is (Richard Rudolph, Charles Stepney) - 5:20

Disc 2
1. The Salt of the Earth (Mick Jagger, Keith Richards) - 4:59
2. Love Has Fallen on Me (Charles Stepney, Lloyd Webber) - 4:19
3. If I Sing My Song (Richard Rudolph, Charles Stepney) - 3:41
4. The Weight (Robbie Robertson) - 3:26
5. The Burning of the Midnight Lamp (Jimi Hendrix) - 4:40
6. Living Alone (John Stocklin) - 2:55
7. Love Me Now (Morris Dollison) - 2:47
8. Want You to Know (John Stocklin) - 3:04
9. I Got My Mojo Working (Preston Foster) - 2:34
10.This Town (Stevie Wonder) - 3:27
11.We're Going Wrong (Jack Bruce) - 3:23
12.Life Could (Bobby Simms) - 4:24
13.Teach Me How to Fly (Sidney Barnes) - 3:19
14.V.I.P. (Bobby Simms) - 3:08
15.Let Them Talk (Bobby Simms) - 4:25

The Rotary Connection
*Bobby Simms - Vocals, Guitar
*Jim Donlinger - Keyboards
*Jim Nyeholt - Bass
*Minnie Riperton - Vocals
*Mitch Aliota - Vocals, Bass
*Sidney Barnes - Vocals
*Tom Donlinger - Drums

1968  Rotary Connection - Peace
Related Act
1969  Aorta - Aorta
1970  Aorta - Aorta 2

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Monday, January 27, 2014

Focus - In And Out Of Focus (1970 dutch, beautiful progressive rock, japan remaster)

Focus are widely known as the Netherlands' biggest prog export; a good draw on UK and US stages in the early '70s, they actually produced less 'classic' work than you might expect. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that they recorded just one (almost) flawless album, their second, Moving Waves. 

They actually formed in 1969, pieced together from several other Dutch acts, quickly releasing their first album, In and Out of Focus, utilising a little Mellotron, along with keyboard player Thijs Van Leer's prime instrument, the organ.  There's an ordinary strings part on the jazzy Happy Nightmare (Mescaline) and a more overt part on one of the album's best tracks, Focus (Instrumental).

1. Focus (Vocal Version) (Van Leer, Cleuver) - 2:44
2. Black Beauty (Van Leer, Cleuver) - 3:05
3. Sugar Island (Van Leer, Dresden, Staal) - 3:03
4. Anonymous (Van Leer, Akkerman, Dresden) - 7:00
5. House Of The King (Akkerman) - 2:20
6. Happy Nightmare (Mescaline) (Van Leer, Dresden, Hayes) - 3:56
7. Why Dream (Van Leer, Cleuver) - 3:57
8. Focus (Instrumental Version) (Van Leer) - 9:45

*Thijs Van Leer – Vocals, Flute, Organ, Piano, Electric Piano, Mellotron, Harpsichord, Vibraphone, Trumpet
*Jan Akkerman – Guitars, Acoustic Guitars
*Martin Dresden – Bass Guitar, Vocals
*Hans Cleuver – Drums, Bongos, Vocals

1972  Focus III  (Japan mini lp release)
Related Act
1969-70  Brainbox - Brainbox (2011 Esoteric expanded)

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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Forever More ‎- Yours / Words On Black Plastic (1970 uk, superb prog rock with folk shades, 2007 RDI remaster)

Forever More are one of the great neglected treasures of the 70s. The core of the band went on to fame as the Average White Band - Onnie Mair is Onnie Maclntyre of AWB, and the horns went with him and Alan. Mick Travis was briefly in Glencoe, split before they recorded, and has not been heard from since.

Stuart Francis was in Glencoe and is on their 2 LPs, which I recall as bland. Forever More were in a Lindsay Shonteff film, a dreadful sexploitation flick that does feature their music and some live, though murky, footage. For completists only.

The roots of the band lie in various Scottish aggregations that recorded a few singles in the 60s. Alan Gorrie, the main singer and songwriter as well as fabulous bass player, also recorded a few folkish sole tunes. Alan also did quite a few sessions in the 60s and early 70s.

The horn section on their records, also later to feature in AWB, is mostly guys from Mogul Thrash, one of John Wetton's earliest bands. Mogul Thrash made one LP.

Somewhere someone compared Forever More to the Beatles circa Abbey Road. Believe it or not, this is an apt comparison. The songs are consistently tuneful, go through some unexpected turns without seeming contrived, and build to emotional highs in a very convincing fashion. Some of the finest guitar playing by people you never heard of is on their 2 albums (Words on Black Plastic is the second, and in my opinion marginally superior).

In my alternate universe, "Put Your Money on a Pony" was a mega-hit and "Cut the Cake" never happened.
CD Liner-notes

1.Back In The States Again (Mick Travis) - 2:47
2.We Sing (Sam Hedd) - 4:08
3.It's Home (Mick Travis) - 1:37
4.Home Country Blues (Mick Travis) - 3:01
5.Good To Me (Sam Hedd) - 6:00
6.Yours (Alan Gorrie) - 2:13
7.Beautiful Afternoon (Sam Hedd) - 2:20
8.8 O'clock & All's Well (Sam Hedd) - 3:20
9.Mean Pappie Blues (Mick Travis) - 1:37
10.You Too Can Have A Body Like Mine (Sam Hedd) - 2:43
11.Sylvester's Last Voyage (Alan Gorrie) - 3:39
Words On Black Plastic
12.Promises Of Spring - 4:57
13.The Wrong Person - 3:34
14.Last Breakfast - 3:16
15.Get Behind Me Satan - 6:00
16.Put Your Money On A Pony - 4:01
17.Lookin' Through The Water - 3:20
18.O'brien's Last Stand - 3:01
19.Angel Of The Lord - 3:44
20.What A Lovely Day - 6:07
Tracks 12-20 written by Mick Travis and Alan Gorrie

Forever More
*Alan Gorrie - Piano, Bass Guitar, Teapot
*Mick Travis - Guitar
*Onnie Mair - Guitar, Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals
*Stuart Francis - Drums, Backing Vocals
*Molly Duncan - Tenor Sax

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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Argent - Argent (1970 uk, marvelous smooth psych prog rock with jazzy drops, 2008 japan remaster)

After the Zombies broke up, keyboardist/songwriter Rod Argent formed his own band in 1969, which incorporated more classical, jazz, and art rock influences in accordance with Argent's musical training. The group's other members were guitarist/songwriter Russ Ballard, bassist Jim Rodford, and drummer Bob Henrit. Argent's first two albums, Argent and Ring of Hands, received a fair amount of critical acclaim, but their real breakthrough came with 1972's All Together Now, which contained the Top Five smash "Hold Your Head Up"; In Deep produced a minor hit in "God Gave Rock 'N' Roll to You," which was covered by Kiss in 1992. 

By 1974, Ballard had developed his songwriting talents enough to leave for a solo career (Three Dog Night had a Top Ten single in 1971 with his "Liar," from Argent), and was replaced by guitarist John Verity and string player John Grimaldi. Without Ballard, the group lost its focus and indulged its tendencies toward extended art rock passages and improvisational solos to somewhat excessive levels. Argent broke up in 1976; Rodford joined the Kinks, while Argent himself recorded several solo albums and became a record producer, working with Tanita Tikaram, among others. 
by Steve Huey

With hindsight, it seems as if the Zombies didn't so much come to a halt as split off into two different directions. Colin Blunstone would take the band's poppiest, sweetest elements; Argent would take the gutsier ones, and appropriate the intricate keyboard arrangements (naturally enough, as keyboardist Rod Argent was the leader of both Argent and the Zombies). Neither Blunstone nor Argent would approach the majesty of the Zombies' prime, but they'd offer some pretty fair approximations. And that's what you get on Argent's self-titled debut -- a fair approximation of late-period Zombies, with a much heavier hard / progressive rock feel. There's nothing that's nearly as arresting as Odessey and Oracle, but it's not bad at all. Includes Russ Ballard's "Liar," the first Argent track to get heavy airplay in the U.S. 
by Richie Unterberger

1. Like Honey - 3:15
2. Liar (Russ Ballard) - 3:15
3. Be Free - 3:52
4. Schoolgirl (Russ Ballard) - 3:22
5. Dance In The Smoke - 6:18
6. Lonely Hard Road (Russ Ballard) - 4:26
7. The Feeling's Inside - 3:51
8. Freefall - 3:21
9. Stepping Stone - 4:40
10.Bring You Joy - 4:12
All Songs written by Rod Argent, Chris White except as noted.

*Rod Argent - Organ, Electric Piano, Vocals
*Russ Ballard - Guitar, Vocals
*Jim Rodford - Bass Guitar, Guitar, Vocals
*Robert Henrit - Drums, Percussion

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Friday, January 24, 2014

The Youngbloods - Elephant Mountain (1969 us, outstanding west coast psych, Sundazed remaster and expanded and japan Blu Spec 2014)

Elephant Mountain, the magnetic third album by the Youngbloods, is commonly looked upon as the pinnacle of the legendary Bay Area combo’s abundant eight-year career. From its spine chilling opening track—the strains of a somber Appalachian fiddle permeating “Darkness, Darkness”—the listener is inexorably sucked into psychedelic quicksand by the haunting vocals of Jesse Colin Young, whose plaintive cry to “hide the constant yearning for things that cannot be” proves mournfully irresistible.

 In addition to Young’s songwriting masterpiece, the 1969 album also spotlights a sharp, country-rocking vocal duet (“Smug”) by Young and recently-departed singer Jerry Corbitt, as well as the jazzy interplay between electric keyboard whiz Banana and the locked-in groove of drummer Joe Bauer during magical instrumental “On Sir Francis Drake.” More songwriting gems loom like sacred totems on this landmark longplayer, including Young’s signature ballads “Sunlight,” “Quicksand” and “Ride the Wind.” It’s the Youngbloods at the top of their game, indelibly writing their names in the ledger of consummate San Francisco rock ‘n’ roll.

1. Darkness, Darkness - 3:48
2. Smug - 2:11
3. On Sir Francis Drake (Lowell Levinger) - 6:45
4. Sunlight (J. Bauer, J.C. Young, L. Levinger) - 3:07
5. Double Sunlight - 0:41
6. Beautiful - 3:46
7. Turn It Over (J. Bauer, J.C. Young, L. Levinger) - 0:13
8. Don’t Let The Rain Get You Down (J. Corbitt, F. Papalardi, Gail Collins) - 3:12
9. Trillium (J. Bauer, J.C. Young, L. Levinger) - 3:08
10.Quicksand - 2:41
11.Black Mountain Breakdown (J. Bauer, J.C. Young, L. Levinger) - 0:40
12.Sham - 2:44
13.Ride The Wind - 6:36
14.Pool Hall Song - 3:04
15.Beautiful (Alternate Version) - 9:31
All songs by Jesse Colin Young except where indicated

The Youngbloods
*Jesse Colin Young - Bass, Acoustic Guitar , Vocals
*Lowell "Banana" Levinger - Guitar, Electric Piano, Backing Vocals
*Joe Bauer - Drums
*David Lindley - Fiddle
*Plas Johnson - Tenor Saxophone
*Joe Clayton - Trumpet
*Victor Feldman - Vibraphone

1967/69  The Youngbloods / Earth Music / Elephant Mountain (2 disc set)
1971  Beautiful! Live In San Francisco (Sudazed issue)
1972  High On A Ridge Top 
Related Act
1973  Jesse Colin Young - Song For Juli (2009 edition)

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Index - Index (1967-70 us, great dark psych experimental rock, 2010 double disc edition with unreleased material)

Index were formed in early 1966 in Grosse Point, Michigan. In ‘66 drummer Jim Valice (17 years old) met Gary Francis. Jim played in a garage band, and Gary played another band. One day they had a jam session with one more cool guitarist John B. Ford.  Their first jam was exciting, the sound was full and powerful with John’s technical guitar playing.

In early ’67 the band played “Johnny B. Good” and “Mustang Sally”. At the time Gary didn’t have his own bass. Jim and John bought a violin shaped bass for Gary as present. They became a party band, playing at a pool,and in the living room, in the summer. They covered Chuck Berry, Animals, and played their original songs. At the time the band was called “Chicken Every Sunday”. One afternoon after a session, they decided to change the name. John went over to a book shelf, and said taking a book” "Let’s make the name from what ever page falls open!"”. He tossed the book to the floor. The band changed their name to the Index. best of hideout

The Underdogs, The Rationals, unique girl band Pleasure Seekers(including Hideout clerk girl, Suzi Quatro) Fugitives(SRC) and more garage bands played at teenage nightclubs like Hideout and The Undercroft.
In the summer of ’67 Index was attracked to a new record, with unique, innovative sound, it was The Jimi Hendrex Experience. Hearing it they tried to make their own “psychedelic” sound. John wrote “Fire Eyes”, ”Shock Wave” and “Feedback”.

In the fall Jim got into The University of Detroit, John went to Yale in Connecticut. He came Detroit every other weekend to play with the band. Index was playing around Detroit area. During the Christmas holidays in ’67, Index opened for The Rationals.

Next morning the band tried their own recording. The basement became recording studio. Throughout December they had gigs in evening and rehearsed for first album during the day. After 3 days recording, they spent a couple of days mixing and adding sound effects to make feedback.

The album cover was basic black and white. On the cover was a picture of “Orpheus and Bacus” founders of a singing club John had joined at Yale. On the back was their picture. The record pressing company in Detroit needed a label and logo to press on the record, they selected DC from their friend Dwight Conger (aka. DC) for his great help with the band.

In mid ’68 John made the sound a more acoustic, mellow style. He began to listen The Buffalo Springfield, The Byrds, and Bee Gees. Gary switched to rhythm guitar.They found new bass player, Tom Ballow who was only 16 years old. He played soul music like James Brown, Wilson Pickett in his former band Joe’s Soul Repair.

By the summer of ‘68, John met young girl called Jan and fell in love with her. She hated the feedback sound and encouraged John to play mellow and tone down his music. This is one of the reasons why many people mixed up their first and second album.

The band’s sound changed. He wrote “Rainy Starless Nights” and “I Love You”. In the summer they made one more album called The Red Album which included John’s love songs along with wild “Breakout”, cover of Bee Gees “New York Mining Disaster”, Birds’ “Eight Miles High”. It was finished in the end of August, But the album was not pressed for a month because they didn’t have recent photo.  John was busy on the East Coast. Gary went to college in upstate Michigan and lost interest with the band.

After the recording they had their own house party at John’s home. His parents were traveling. It was early September. Detroit “punks” gathered there, The Underdogs, Scott Richard Case(SRC) ,Alice Cooper. Suzie Quatro arrived very late along with the drummer Nancy. About 10AM the next morning the house was trashed inside and out.

At the time John’s parent came back! Beer bottles had leaked a trail across the hall rug and now onto Mr. Ford’s foot. Everyone was immediately expelled from the house.

To release red album, Jim sketched silhouettes of the band members for the sleeve using the photo for theback cover of Black album. A local radio station WABX played the cuts from Black and the Red albums. But it was too late.  Gary left the band in January ’69.Tom quit too. It was the end of their history. In December  ’69 Jim and John joined again , they recorded some songs to make one more album . It was released as JUST US, only 150 copies were pressed.

In ’84 Voxx reissued the Red Album, the echo fuzz sound enchanted the listener. In late of ‘80s unknown Sears label released the Black Album. (it seems bootleg)  And at last, in ’95 Jim Valis released the CD called Index Anthology on his own label ,Top Jimmy Productions. It includes 5 cuts from Black Album, 7 cuts from Red album and 9 bonus songs of ’69 recording. In ’97, as a 30 year anniversary Anthology II was released as 2 CD which including ’69 live recording, rest of Black album and the last recording as Just Us. 

The Black Album
1. Eight Miles High (J. McGuinn, D, Crosby, G. Clark) - 3:33
2. Israeli Blues (John B. Ford) - 4:05
3. John Riley (Bob Gibson R. Neff) - 4:00
4. Turquoise Feline (John B. Ford, Jim Valice) - 3:30
5. Rainy, Starless Nights (John B. Ford) - 2:25
6. Fire Eyes (John B. Ford, Jim Valice) - 4:08
7. Shock Wave (John B. Ford, Jim Valice) - 3:20
8. You Keep Me Hanging On (B. Holland, L. Dozier, E. Holland) - 3:00
9. Feedback (John B. Ford) - 4:50
The Red Album
10.Turquoise Feline (John B. Ford, Jim Valice, Tom Ballew) - 3:50
11.I Can't See Nobody (Robin Gibb, Barry Gibb) - 3:00
12.Spoonful (W. Dixon) - 4:50
13.Eight Miles High (J. McGuinn, D, Crosby, G. Clark) - 3:33
14.New York Mining Disaster (Robin Gibb, Barry Gibb) - 3:20
15.Paradise Beach (John B. Ford, Jim Valice) - 3:30
16.Break Out (John B. Ford, Jim Valice, Tom Ballew) - 2:45
17.I Love You (John B. Ford) - 3.40
18.Rainy, Starless Nights (John B. Ford) - 3:10

Disc 2
Yesterday and Today
1. Jill (John B. Ford, Jim Valice) - 4:37
2. Long Tall Shorty (R. Davies) 3:38
3. Mustang Sally (Sir Mack Rice) - 2:42
4. You Like Me Too Much (G. Harrison) - 2:10
5. Yesterday and Today (John B. Ford, Jim Valice) - 2:19
6. It's All In Your Mind (John B. Ford, Jim Valice) - 2:08
7.1 Got You (I Feel Good) (J. Brown) - 2.39
8. Dear Friend (P. McCartney) - 3:03
9. Yesterday and Today (John B. Ford, Jim Valice) - 4:09
10.I Met a Man (David Crosby) - 3:04
11.Morning Dew (B. Dobson) - 3:14
12.I Used to Be a King (G. Nash) - 2.53
13.431 Lakeshore Drive (John B. Ford, Jim Valice) - 2:47
14.Don't You Know (John B. Ford, Jim Valice) - 4:43
15.Sunny Skies (James Taylor) - 4:14
16.Kick It Out (John B. Ford, Jim Valice) - 2:58
17.Helplessly Hoping (S. Stills) 2:38

*Jim Valice - Drums, Backing Vocals
*Gary Francis - Guitars. Bass, 12-String Guitar
*John B. Ford - Lead Guitar, Lead Vocals
*Tom Ballew - Bass   (only on the "Red" album)

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

December's Children - December's Children (1968 us, essential psych harmonies with rootsy and rife bluesy funk tunes)

"The original lineup was Ron Papaleo on drums, Bill Petti on bass, Craig Balzer on guitar, and two female vocalists, Alice Popovich and Janet Belpulsi. Craig and Bill started the band. They brought me in next and shortly after we added the girls. All of this happened in the fall of 1965. We played our first gigs in December of that year (hence the name) while I was still a junior in high school, and by 1966 we were going pretty strong. Under this lineup, we were the first band to play at the E. 24th street Agora (in July of 1967), we came in third place in the battle of the bands the year Tiffany Shade won it, and we toured throughout the midwest, going on a 5 month road trip in early 1968 that included stops in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Michigan. 

As for clubs, we played at the Plato, The Agora,(both the one on Cornell and the one downtown) The Ramp, Socrates Cave, Otto's Grotto, Chesterland Hullaboo, Mentor Hullaboo, Cyrus Erie West, Admiral Bimbos, Pickle Bills in the Flats, The Inn Spot in Mayfield Hts., Nagles (a very popular neighborhood bar in Cleveland Hts.) 8 Miles High (the old Heidleburg Lounge on W. 25th Street), The Akron Agora, and a whole bunch neighborhood bars that are long closed and forgotten. I guess my favorite was Otto's Grotto. It was a happening place in the summer of 1967. Monday was reserved for local bands and we played our fair share that summer. I was just out of high school and it was all so new and exciting. Of course I also enjoyed playing at the Plato and the Agora, and we played so much at Nagle's for a while that it seemed like a second home to us.

The December's Children of this era was basically a Motown Band, with everyone but me handling vocals. Our 4 part harmony was really our signature back then. Janet left the group to pursue marriage and a career as a hairdresser in late 1968 or early 1969(I'm not exactly sure of when). She was replaced by Craig Balzer's brother, Bruce Balzer. Under this lineup, we achieved our greatest success. It was during this time that we became more of a hard rock band, playing songs by the Allman Brothers, King Crimson, The Rolling Stones, Neil Young, etc. etc. It was also during this time that we made the album for Mainstream Records. As you note, the album has been described as "west coast psychedelic", but we never thought of ourselves that way. We were a rock and roll band. The psychedelic stuff was invented by the record company. The album cover they created makes it obvious.

Bill D'Arango who hooked us up with Mainstream through his jazz connections. He was our manager then as well as Henry Tree's. I'm pretty sure he was Lacewing's manager as well, or at least he had some sort of arrangement with them, although I wouldn't know the exact terms. The week we were down there (at Criteria Studios in Miami), Eric Clapton and Duane Allman were recording in the studio across the hall. I believe they were working on Layla, since the timing was right for that and I am not aware of any other recordings those two did together. They usually recorded all night. We would see them coming out as we were coming in. We were so awestruck that we could barely speak to them. They were also constantly surrounded by amazingly beautiful women. We were all about 20 or 21 years old at this time. The drummer in Fleet, a band of 14 year olds that opened for us sometimes, accompanied us to Florida for the album. We called him "Mr. Traps" on the album. He played percussion on the cut "Afternoon"

Anyhow, December's Children broke up in 1971 after our Mainstream deal ended and we all went separate ways musically, although we have kept in touch socially. Craig, Bruce, and Bill formed the band Ambleside with Mike Amato on drums. After they broke up, Bill Petti and Mike Amato retired from music. Craig and Bruce joined Circus, and after that, formed their own band, 747. 747 became American Noise who had a lot of success in the area, and released a nationally distributed LP. Bill became a very successful business man, but he still sings for fun by sitting in with other bands occasionally. 

Mike moved to California and I lost track of him. Alice Popovich married Leroy Markesh, the guitar player from Henry Tree. Henry Tree was another Cleveland band managed by jazz guitar legend Bill D'Arango (as we were at that time too). Alice and Leroy formed a lounge band in the 70's called Second Time Around. They kept this band working steady for at least 10 years as far as I can remember. Alice and Leroy are still married and live near me in Mentor. Alice no longer sings, but Leroy still plays publicly. He is currently with the Tony Kousa Jr. band.

As for myself, I finished college and had a 31 year career as a high school band director. I also continued to play, doing everything from jazz gigs to theater orchestra work. I played in the original orchestra at the Front Row Theater, where I backed up such entertainers as Sammy Davis Jr., The Jackson 5, and more. I played with the Cleveland Orchestra as a substitute and am on one of their recordings. I also played with them as a drumset soloist at Blossom Music center in 1976. I am now retired from teaching but still active as a player. I am currently the drummer in the Burnt River Band (Cleveland's Premier Biker Blues Band), the Tom Bogus Band (another blues band) and an oldies band----the Jeff Gould Trio. Yes, it's the same Jeff Gould who used to be in the SenSations.

Janet Belpulsi was murdered by her brother who was upset that she would not give him any money for drugs. He strangled her with a telephone chord and stuffed her body into a closet in her apartment. The body was not discovered for a few days, until after she did not show up for work. As I recall, this happened in 1990 or 1991. Her case was re-enacted on America's Most Wanted which resulted in the capture of the brother.
by Ron Papaleo 

1. Trilogy: 2.30 Casino, In Between A Dream, Lady Of The Garden- 4:50
2. Sweet Talkin' Woman - 2:55
3. Jane's Song (The Slow One) - 2:12
4. Hide The Water - 2:25
5. Afternoon - 3:00
6. Slow It Down - 2:24
7. Too Early To Be Late - 4:15
8. Last Monday Night - 2:40
9. Black Road River - 2:30
10. Livin' (Way Too Fast) - 3:40

December's Children
*Craig Balzer - Guitar, Keyboard, Vocals
*Bill Petti - Bass, Vocals
*Alice Popovic - Vocals
*Ron Papaleo - Drums, Percussion
*Bruce Balzer - Guitar

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Monday, January 20, 2014

T.P. Smoke - T.P. Smoke (1971 denmark, exciting organ drivin' heavy prog psych, 2009 remaster)

T.P. Smoke consist of three personalities of the Danish Beat Scene, three young gifted artists who improved their talents in various groups in Denmark throughout the past years.

The leader and the star is the twenty-three-year old Tommy Petersen, During the last 10 years he was able to conquer a top-position in the Danish Beat World. Already years ago his excellent and most popular compositions made him the Lennon/McCartney of the North. 

This album shows two different but equally good Tommy Petersons: First as writer of both lyrics and music and second on his organ. Together with companions Kay Rose on bass and Rene Sejr on drums he made an album which proves that T.P. Smoke belongs to the top groups of the North.
by Flemming Antony

1. The Bad, Bad Junker - 6:20
2. Take A Trip - 4:52
3. You' re Right Place - 6:48
4. I'm A Stone - 4:10
5. The Girl I Met Today - 7:07
6. Dreams - 4:01
7. Hammerschmitts Garden - 10:00
8. Smoke - 5:05

T.P. Smoke
*Tommy Petersen - Organ
*Kay Rose - Bass
*Rene Sejr - Drums

Paul Revere And The Raiders feat. Mark Lindsay - Goin' To Memphis (1968 us, fine soulful R 'n' B vibes, Sundazed remaster)

Sure, I liked the Detroit Sound, the Philly Sound, the LA Sound, the New Orleans Sound, and the Nashville (Owen Bradley) Sound.

But just 200 miles west, where the Mississippi River splits Tennessee and Arkansas, sits a sleepy city blinking in the sun, the home of the Memphis Sound -- Beale Street, B.B. King, Albert King, The King, Otis Redding, that wicked Wilson Pickett, David Porter, Isaac Hayes, Sam and Dave, "Play it Steve" Cropper. And the Memphis Horns and Stax and American Recording Studios and Sun Records, where Sam Phillips first cut Elvis and Jerry Lee and Carl Perkins. And more. So when I got the chance, I had to go to Memphis.

American's producer "Chips" Moman had put together a studio that had a very distinct sound. And some memorable recordings came out of that room -- "The Letter," "Angel of the Morning," "Burnin' Love," "Happening '68."

What? Our road manager at the time was one Jerry Williams, a Memphis native and a real promoter. He suggested we do an album in Memphis with "Chips." But "Chips" would only do it if he used his house band. This would be Gene Crispian on drums, Mike Leech on bass, Tommy Cogbill and Reggie Young on guitars, and "Spooner" Oldham on accoustic piano, Wurlitzer electric piano, and a Vox Jaguar organ.

"Chips" was very rigid about certain things in the studio. Gene used a set of drums that were set up in the center of the room on a four-foot platform. They were permanently miked, and God help anyone who moved a single drum or mic a fraction of an inch.

The board was a custom affair, mostly tubes and straight wire, as I recall. There was minimum EQ (highs and lows), and a couple of LA-2A tube limiters that were rarely plugged in. "Chips" didn't believe in processing the sound; the sound should come from the live musicians in the studio. He had two multi-track recorders: an Ampex 4-track and an old Ampex 3-track (our first Downbeats' demos were cut on a similar machine.) Moman used the 3-track most of the time, only bouncing to 4-track if he needed to overdub strings, horns, etc. He had a tiny live echo chamber and used it sparingly. And that was American Recording studio - very basic, but it had a sound.

When it was almost time to start the tracking sessions (three days away), I checked into a suite (just vacated by James Brown) on the top floor of the brand new riverfront Holiday Inn. Luckily for me there was a seven-foot grand piano in the main room, overlooking the river traffic on the Mississippi River below. There in that room on that piano, I wrote seven songs in three days. I worked out the arrangements with "Spooner" before the sessions each day, and when the musicians arrived we would teach them the tune and then do several takes live with me singing live until we got it right.

(On the intro to the title cut "Goin' to Memphis" you can hear me say to the band, "This is sho'nuff the right one -- 'cause I feel it!" And it was.)

After the basics were cut, a horn section did their thing, mostly "head arrangements" on the spot. And a couple of days later, members of the Memphis Symphony added strings to a few cuts, with Mike Leech writing their charts. I then fixed some vocals, and we mixed it in two days.

On the back of the album, the liner notes mention Joe Jr., Freddy, Charlie, and of course Paul. However, The Raiders didn't come; "Chips" kind of let it be known that if his guys were doing the sessions, he didn't want any spectators. Paul, who was co-owner with me of the band at that time, was reluctantly invited by "Chips" to watch the project (at Jerry's and my insistence), but he declined to come.

And "Happening '68"? At the end of the last day, we finished a few hours early, and I showed the guys the new tune. We quickly cut it and each musician took one last solo. And now you know the rest of the story.
by Mark Lindsay

1. Boogaloo Down Broadway (J. James) - 2:31
2. Every Man Needs A Woman - 3:12
3. My Way - 2:31
4. One Night Stand - 2:31
5. Soul Man (I. Hayes, D. Porter) - 2:31
6. Love You So - 3:29
7. I Don't Want Nobody (To Lead Me On) (H. Thomas, L. Jones) - 2:25
8. I'm A Loser Too - 2:30
9. No Sad Songs (D. Carter) - 2:04
10.Cry On My Shoulder (F. Weller) - 2:19
11.Peace Of Mind (M. Lindsay, T. Melcher) - 2:02
12.Goin' To Memphis - 2:42
13.Go Get It (Previously Unissued) - 2:25
14.How Can I Help You (Previously Unissued) - 2:05
15.Peace Of Mind (Mono Single Version) (M. Lindsay, T. Melcher) - 2:27
All songs by Mark Lindsay except where indicated

*Mike Leech - Bass, Strings
*Gene Crispian - Drums
*Mark Lindsay - Vocals
*Reggie Young - Guitar
*Bobby Wood - Keyboards
*Dewey Lindon "Spooner" Oldham Jr - Keyboards
*Tommy Cogbill - Guitar

Paul Revere And The Raiders
1963-65  Mojo Work Out (Sundazed issue)
1967  A Christmas Present... And Past
1969  Alias Pink Puzz (Sundazed remaster)
1969  Hard 'N' Heavy With Marshmallow (Sundazed issue)
Related Act
1970  Mark Lindsay - Arizona / Silverbird

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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Paul Revere And The Raiders ‎– Hard 'N' Heavy With Marshmallow (1969 us, excellent classic rock beat psych, Sundazed extra tracks issue)

By the time of Paul Revere & the Raiders recorded Hard 'N' Heavy late in 1968, Mark Lindsay and Paul Revere were the only remaining original members of the band -- yet, surprisingly, this album consisted entirely of band originals, which is a pretty daring move for the first long-player featuring a new lineup of any band; even more amazing is that it's all good music. 

Bassist/guitarist Keith Allison, in particular, proved himself a special asset to the group throughout this album, not only with some very ballsy playing but three killer hard-rocking songs (co-written with Mark Lindsay) -- the Stones-like "Time After Time" and "Out on That Road," and "Without You." These alternate with Lindsay's smoother, generally more pop-oriented solo originals, and some competent, even catchy songs written by guitarist Freddy Weller and drummer Joe Correro. Lindsay's "Cinderella Sunshine" is the highlight of the album, appearing on the 2000 Sundazed Records reissue in both its album incarnation and its shorter, punchier single version.  There's also an uncredited 16th track, "Everybody Loves Swingy," written for a Mattel doll, that's one of the most infectious rock & roll numbers ever cut by the band. 

Its presence also spotlights a conundrum that the Raiders faced in 1969 - it was a sign of just how much this band liked to make music that people could hum and dance to, and didn't care for the "counterculture",  the soon-to-be Woodstock Nation, and other touchstones of late-'60s credibility; it might have been a sign that this band was never going to get with it, as far as rock credibility in the late '60s, but heard today, the "Swingy" jingle seems poignantly innocent and honest, as well as being a catchy little song. The sound is, as usual for Sundazed, impeccable. 
by Bruce Eder

1. Mr Sun, Mr Moon - 2:48
2. Money, You Can't Buy Me - 3:37
3. Time After Time (Keith Allison, Mark Lindsay) - 4:19
4. Ride On My Shoulder - 2:52
5. Without You (Keith Allison, Mark Lindsay) - 4:51
6. Trishalana - 2:47
7. Out On That Road (Keith Allison, Mark Lindsay) - 3:40
8. Hard And Heavy 5 String Soul Band (Freddy Weller) - 3:19
9. Where You Goin' Girl (Freddy Weller) - 2:43
10.Cinderella Sunshine - 4:19
11.Call On Me (Joe Correro, Mark Lindsay) - 3:11
12.Do Unto Others (Single Version) (Terry Melcher, Mark Lindsay) - 2:13
13.Cinderella Sunshine (Single Version) - 2:00
14.Theme From It's Happening (Vocal Version) - 2:42
15.Judge GTO Breakaway (Original Version) (K. Allison, M. Lindsay) - 2:46
Allsongs by Mark Lindsay unless as else stated

The Raiders
*Keith Allison - Acoustic, Electric and 12 String Guitar, Piano, Bass, Keyboards, Vocals, Vox Organ
*Joe Correro - Drums, Maracas, Tambourine, Triangle, Vocals, Background Vocals, Whistle (Instrument), Cowbell, African Drums
*Mark Lindsay - Trumpet, Arranger, Clavichord, Harpsichord, Keyboards, Alto, Baritone and Tenor Saxophone, Vocals, Tack Piano
*Paul Revere - Hammond Organ, Electric Piano, Celeste, Background Vocals, Vox Organ, Tack Piano
*Freddy Weller - Acoustic, Electric, 12 String and Bottleneck Guitar, Bass, Vocals

Paul Revere And The Raiders
1963-65  Mojo Work Out (Sundazed issue)
1967  A Christmas Present... And Past
1969  Alias Pink Puzz (Sundazed remaster)
Related Act
1970  Mark Lindsay - Arizona / Silverbird

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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Arthur Lee And Love ‎– Five String Serenade (1992 us, stellar breezy garage psych)

I've always got a song in my back pocket," Arthur Lee told me when I interviewed him in the early '70s, somewhere about the time his RSO album, Reel to Real, was about to be released. Indeed, for a legendry cult artist whose mood swings and erratic behaviors seemed to work at cross-purposes with the delicate arrangements and melodies of his best work (though his forays into Hendrix-influenced hard rock shouldn't be discounted), his discography is extensive and intriguing in its twistings and turn-turn-turnings.

Influenced by the Byrds (whose former road manager, Bryan Maclean, became his most important sidekick in Love), Lee had been an organ player in the Booker T. mold with his first instrumental band, the L.A.G.'s; but when long-haired musicians started infiltrating the Sunset Strip, he donned a pair of weirdly-shaped sunglasses, stepped out front vocally, and landed a deal with Elektra Records — one of their first non-folk signings. 

Love's first three albums with the label are classic examples of going-for-baroque: reinterpreting Burt Bacharach ("My Little Red Book") and Billy Roberts ("Hey Joe") in the guise of jingle-jangle folk-rock, taking on the Stones with an 18-minute track in "Da Capo," and practically templating garage-rock's drag-strip acceleration with "7 & 7 Is." Their third album, Forever Changes, orchestrated and flamenco'ed and filled with rhyme-of-consciousness lyricism, is one of rock's most star-crossed accomplishments; the last sight I had of Arthur Lee, on a stage in Williamsburg a year or so before his untimely passing, was performing that work with all its tremulous quaver intact. Love hardly ventured forth from LA during their glory era, and so it was doubly gratifying to hear Arthur sing himself across the years.

Some of those years were spent in prison, stretches seemingly self-destructed by Lee's short temper and paranoia. Judging from Five String Serenade, they were creatively lost to us as well. This was the last major album Arthur made before taking a called third strike and finishing out the century behind bars for waving a gun about in public. Recorded in Los Angeles in 1992, released on the French New Rose label the following year, it contains some of Lee's most affecting work, from the minuet stateliness and melancholy of the title track — which has been covered by Mazzy Star and the White Stripes — to such full-out rockers as "Seventeen," which attempts to overtake "7 & 7 Is" on the straightaways ("7" can't be beat, fueled as it is by nuclear power).

 "Somebody's Watching You" frames Lee's look over his shoulder in a setting that's two steps down the Strip from the Seeds; "Pass By" is blues in the Jimi 12-barroom mode, reminding of Lee and Hendrix crossing paths as black men in a white psychedelic garage scene. "You're the Prettiest Song" is the prettiest song, without the barbed hook Arthur usually planted in the second verse. His voice, like a lithe Sam Cooke or Johnny Mathis, slides from the back of his throat in slight vibrato.

Finally released from jail after seven years, reunited with Baby Lemonade, he returned to the fore and gave rapturously-received renditions of his body of work before he passed on in August of 2006. He was no stranger to comebacks. "I never went away," he told me when we met. And still hasn't.
by Lenny Kaye

1. Five String Serenade - 5:26
2. Somebody's Watchin' You - 3:05
3. Twenty On My Way - 2:15
4. You're The Prettiest Song - 3:20
5. I Believe In You - 5:24
6. Ninety Miles Away - 4:43
7. Seventeen - 2:52
8. Love Saga - 4:48
9. The Watcher (Keith Parrish) - 3:13
10.Passing By - 3:01
All songs by Arthur Lee except wnere stated

*Robert Rozelle - Bass
*Gary Stern - Drums
*Arthur Lee - Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards, Harmonica
*Melvan Whittington - Lead Guitar
*Tony Mikessell - Keyboards
1966  Love - Love (remaster and expanded)
1967  Love - Da Capo (remaster and expanded)
1967  Love - Forever Changes (2008 digi pack double disc set)

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Friday, January 17, 2014

Beau Brummels - Introducing The Beau Brummels (1965 us, beautiful folk beat psych, Sundazed edition)

A much stronger debut than the norm for the era. Ten of the 12 cuts are Ron Elliott originals, including the hits "Laugh Laugh," "Still in Love with You Baby," and "Just a Little." The hard-rocking numbers are the weakest, but "Stick Like Glue" and "I Would Be Happy" are fine Beatlesque numbers, and "They'll Make You Cry" is a first-rate moody folk-rocker. The CD reissue adds two bonus tracks, a demo of "Just a Little" and the single "Good Time Music." 
by Richie Unterberger

1. Laugh Laugh - 2:54
2. Still In Love With You Baby - 2:32
3. Just A Little (Durand, Elliott) - 2:23
4. Just Wait & See - 2:22
5. Oh Lonesome Me (D. Gibson) - 2:22
6. Ain't That Loving Baby (D. Malone) - 2:22
7. Stick Like Glue - 1:58
8. They'll Make You Cry - 3:05
9. That's, If You Want Me To - 2:35
10.I Want More Loving - 2:23
11.I Would Be Happy - 2:40
12.Not Too Long Ago - 3:06
13.Just A Little (Unissued Demo Version) (Durand, Elliott) - 2:23
14.Good Time Music (Autumn Single) (J. Sebastian) - 3:04
All songs by  Ron Elliott except where noted

The Beau Brummels
*Sal Valentino - Vocals
*Ron Elliott - Lead Guitar
*Ron Meagher - Guitar
*Declan Mulligan - Bass
*John Petersen - Drums

1966  Beau Brummels' 66 (Japan issue) 
Related Act
1970  Ron Elliott - The Candlestickmaker

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Stalk-Forrest Group - St. Cecilia, The Elektra Recordings (1970 us, outstanding hard psych, pre Blue Oyster, remaster with bonus tracks)

For a band that issued only one single, and that only pressed in a quantity of a few hundred, the Stalk-Forrest Group have a very confusing history, and are very well-known by collectors. Much of this notoriety stems from the fact that the group evolved into Blue Öyster Cult shortly after the one Stalk-Forrest Group 45 was issued by Elektra. The Stalk-Forrest Group did manage to record an entire unreleased album for Elektra in 1970, in a much lighter and more psychedelic style than that for which Blue Öyster Cult became known. In the late '60s, the nucleus of the Long Island band that would become Blue Öyster Cult was playing under the name of Soft White Underbelly. 

With Les Braunstein as lead singer, they were signed by Elektra; Buck Dharma has recalled that Elektra exec Jac Holzman may have been looking for an East Coast Doors. An album was attempted, but eventually abandoned, in early 1969, and Braunstein was replaced by the band's equipment manager and soundman, Eric Bloom. Soft White Underbelly had been signed in large part because of Braunstein, and it took them a while to convince Elektra that they would be viable with the higher-voiced Bloom as lead singer.

In early 1970, however, the band, now renamed the Stalk-Forrest Group, was able to record an album for Elektra in Los Angeles. Co-produced by Sandy Pearlman and Jay Lee, the group was under the impression that it would get released, but it never was. Material from the album circulated among collectors for a long time, and shows a band considerably different than Blue Öyster Cult. The songs were psychedelic and tuneful, somewhat in the manner of two other Elektra acts, Love and the Doors, although poppier than either of those two groups. 

The arrangements were full of high harmonies and fluid, accomplished, psychedelic guitar interplay, and the songs were dominated by rather fanciful and oblique trippy imagery, as was evident from titles like "Ragamuffin's Dumplin," "Bonomo's Turkish Tuffy," "Arthur Comics," and "A Fact About Sneakers." Though perhaps in need of fine tuning or embellishment, it was certainly up to release quality.

Elektra tried to get Don Gallucci (from the band Don & the Goodtimes) in to produce them, but after an exploratory meeting he left for California without informing the group. Around the time Joe Bouchard replaced Andy Winters on bass, they were dropped from Elektra, although the label did press about 200 copies of a single with two of the songs from the unreleased album sessions, "What Is Quicksand?"/"Arthur Comics." After running through some more band names, the musicians finally got their recording career off the ground as Blue Öyster Cult in the early '70s, playing in a harder rock style than they had as the Stalk-Forrest Group. An extremely limited-edition LP of ten songs from the unreleased Stalk-Forrest Group album sessions came out in Germany in 1998.
by Richie Unterberger

1. What Is Quicksand? (Allen Lanier, Richard Meltzer) - 3:20
2. I'm On The Lamb (E. Bloom, A. Bouchard, S. Pearlman) - 3:00
3. Gil Blanco County (Lanier, Pearlman) - 3:36
4. Donovan's Monkey (Bouchard, Meltzer) - 3:44
5. Ragamuffin Dumplin' (Bouchard, Meltzer) - 5:12
6. Curse Of The Hidden Mirrors (Bouchard, Meltzer) - 3:17
7. Arthur Comics (Bouchard, Meltzer) - 3:10
8. A Fact About Sneakers (Bouchard, Meltzer) - 7:53
9. St. Cecila (Bouchard, Pearlman, Andrew Winters) - 6:44
10.Ragamuffin Dumplin' (Alternate Mix) (Bouchard, Meltzer) - 5:19
11.I'm On The Lamb (Alternate Version) (E. Bloom, A. Bouchard, S. Pearlman) - 2:52
12.Curse Of The Hidden Mirrors (Alternate Mix) (Bouchard, Meltzer) - 3:16
13.Bonomo's Turkish Taffy (Bouchard, Meltzer) - 2:13
14.Gil Blanco County (Alternate Mix) (Lanier, Pearlman) - 6:47
15.St. Cecilia (Alternate Mix) (Bouchard, Pearlman, Andrew Winters) - 6:45
16.A Fact About Sneakers (Alternate Version) (Bouchard, Meltzer) - 3:07
17.What Is Quicksand? (Mono Single Version) (A. Lanier, R. Meltzer) - 3:19
18.Arthur Comics (Mono Single Version) (Bouchard, Meltzer) - 3:10
Tracks 1-9 from the unreleased and untitled Elektra album EKS-74046
Tracks 10-16 previously unreleased
Tracks 17 and 18 are from the Elektra single EKM-45693

Stalk-Forrest Group
*Eric Bloom Aka "Jesse Python" - Lead Vocals, Guitars
*Donald Roeser Aka "Buck Dharma" - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Andrew Winters - Bass, Acoustic Guitar On His Composition "St. Cecilia"
*Allen Lanier Aka "La Verne" - Keyboards, Guitar
*Albert Bouchard Aka "Prince Omega" - Drums, Vocals