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Plain and Fancy

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


Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Outsiders - Singles A's And B's (1967-94 dutch, impressive colorful nederbeat including Wally Tax solo singles)

The Outsiders were formed in Amsterdam in the early 1960's. The line-up initially was Vladimir 'Wally' Tax, who sang and played rhythm guitar, lead guitarist Ronald Splinter, bassist Appie Rammers and drummer Leendert "Buzz" Busch. Maybe you've heard of them, maybe not. Chances are if you have it was something along the lines of 'they were to the Pretty Things what the Pretty Things were to the Rolling Stones'. Chances are you heard wrong. This was an extraordinary, incomparable group who've remained unduly neglected for too long. Why? The usual reasons - not commercial enough, going against the grain of the prevailing musical climate, not prepared to compromise - but there was one other serious problem. They were from Holland, and as such didn't exist at the time. Of course, if they'd been prepared to push their luck with a few gimmicks, the Dutch angle might have told in their favour. But no. They didn't even have the decency to record a single cover version in their entire career, during which they recorded about 50 songs. Talk about asking for trouble.

By the time they recorded their first single "You Mistreat Me"/" Sun's Going Down" on the Dutch label Musiek Expres in 1965 the above line-up had added Tom Krabbendam on second guitar (though according to Wally Tax he was "a lousy musician", a fact confirmed by Ronald Splinter, who added that it didn't really matter as Tom's amp was always turned right down!) and had acquired a reputation as a live act that was second to none, not even the UK and US acts who were foolish enough to let The Outsiders support them.

Their following was as committed and wild as their music and stage act, with the result that the band and their fans were banned from several Dutch venues. Still incredibly young (Rammers was the eldest at 19, with Tax, Splinter and Krabbendam being only 17) they released their second 45 on Musiek Expres the following year and then signed to Relax, a subsidiary of a Dutch classical label. Around the same time in Amsterdam they had supported (and, according to Tax, blew off stage) the Rolling Stones, which lifted their national profile to the extent that "Lying All The Time", their first 45 on Relax, reached #45 in the Dutch charts, not bad for a Dutch act apparently! To give the lie to the 'Dutch Pretty Things' tag utterly, the single featured Splinter's exquisite folk-rock 12-string, a strange, almost atonal bassline from Rammers and the by now trademark impassioned yet low-key (i.e. sung rather than screamed) vocal from Tax. Sure, they were influenced by groups like the Stones and the Pretties, though Tax has pointed out that as he and Phil May were friends the influencing may also have been in the other direction, but also by Love, the Byrds, Tim Hardin, Buddy Holly (very evident in the sound of some of the early Tax/Splinter songwriting collaborations) and European songwriters like Jacques Brel and Charles Aznavour. "Lying All The Time" was the first in a line of classic singles on Relax that included "Touch", "Keep On Trying" and "Monkey On Your Back", a series of 45s that compares more than favourably with the output of any contemporary UK or US outfit, passionate, raw songs that sounded like no-one else.

By autumn of 1969, Ronnie Splinter had had enough and quit music altogether for a while. The band disintegrated, with Tax and Busch forming Tax Free. Over the years, Wally Tax continued to write and perform in both solo and group formats, but with little or no recognition outside his native land. Long since deleted, original copies of Outsiders' records began to change hands for what might conveniently be described as Monopoly money prices. Only in recent years has it been possible to acquire CD reissues of the aforementioned records. The CD of the first LP features six tracks from the Relax 45s, whereas the CQ CD opens with the "I Don't Care"/"You Remind Me" 45 and finishes with "Do You Feel Alright" and two Tax Free tracks. Also, a double CD set entitled CQ Sessions was released which included three previously unreleased tracks from the CQ era plus 26 alternate takes or demo versions, some without vocals, thus giving a new slant to the tracks in that instrumental versions of tracks like "The Bear" and "Doctor" develop a life of their own. Also included are the first two singles on Musiek Expres, so despite a lack of attention chronology-wise the vast majority of the Outsiders' catalogue is at least in theory currently available through the Dutch label Pseudonym.

How many of you actually look at the section in PSF where all us 'rock journo types' tell you what are, no honestly, the 10 best records ever so you can all go out and buy them? If you're one of them, you might have noticed that my 10 changes from time to time. You know how it is. One thing doesn't change though; I really don't think I could ever come up with 10 LP's that I get more out of than CQ. I really can't emphasise enough that all this sub-Pretty Things business is so much shite. Nor is it even vaguely near the truth that they were the top of the 2nd division garage heap or some other condescending sort of 'compliment'. To say they never got the credit they so richly deserved is a bit like saying Charlie Parker used to play the alto saxophone a bit. Fact of the matter is, those responsible for the documentation of rock musical history as we know it OWE people like The Outsiders and always will. Do yourself a favour; seek out and obtain, by fair means or foul, the aforementioned reissues of their records. If you find that you regret it, don't come bleating to me about how I sold you short or whatever. I shall wash my hands of you utterly. On that you can rely. The Outsiders were one of the all-time greats of rock music and anyone who says different had better be outside in the car park in 10 minutes. I'll be waiting. 
by Richard Mason, September 1998

Disc 1
A Sides
1. You Mistreat Me - 1:57
2. Felt Like I Wanted To Cry - 2:44
3. Lying All The Time - 3:13
4. Keep On Trying - 2:58
5. Touch - 3:12
6. Monkey On Your Back - 3:43
7. Summer Is Here - 3:26
8. I'Ve Been Loving You So Long - 3:22
9. Don't You Worry About Me - 3:25
10.A Cup Of Coffee - 3:17
11.I Don't Care - 2:45
12.Do You Feel Alright - 3:26
13.Wally Tax - I Sat And Thought And Wondered Why (Wally Tax) - 2:59
14.Wally Tax - Let's Forget What I Said (Wally Tax) - 3:30
15.Wally Tax - I Won't Feel Alone (Wally Tax) - 2:41
16.Wally Tax  Bamboulé - Crown Of Creation (M. Duiser, W. Tax) - 3:19
17.Wally Tax - Miss Wonderful (Wally Tax) - 2:28
18.Wally Tax - It Ain't No Use (Wally Tax) - 3:18
19.Wally Tax - Evidently (Wally Tax) - 2:26
20.Wally Tax - Bridges Are Burning (Wally Tax) - 2:52
21.Wally Tax - The Girl Is Mine (Wally Tax) - 2:50
22.It's Too Late (Wally Tax) - 3:03
23.Let's Dance (Wally Tax) - 2:56
24.Talk To Me - 2:56
25.Lying All The Time - 3:22

Disc 2
B Sides
1. Sun's Going Down - 2:40
2. I Love Her Still Always Will - 3:24
3. Thinking About Today - 2:46
4. That's Your Problem - 2:36
5. Ballad Of John B - 5:56
6. What's Wrong With You - 3:16
7. Teach Me To Forget You - 3:13
8. I'm Only Trying To Prove Myself That I'm Not Like Everybody Else - 2:30
9. Bird In A Cage - 3:03
10.Strange Things Are Happening (F. Beek, W. Tax) - 2:32
11.You Remind Me - 2:46
12.Daddy Died On Saturday -  3:02
13.Wally Tax - You Don't Have To Tell Me (Wally Tax) - 2:47
14.Wally Tax - Last Night (Wally Tax) - 2:02
15.Wally Tax - Come Closer (Wally Tax) - 2:27
16.Wally Tax with Bamboulé - Tomorrow (Wally Tax) - 3:52
17.Wally Tax - Take Me For What I Am (M. Duiser, W. Tax) - 3:04
18.Wally Tax - Oh Mama (M. Duiser, W. Tax) - 3:14
19.Wally Tax - She's As Lovely As A Breeze (M. Duiser, W. Tax) - 3:16
20.Wally Tax - Lots Of Luck (Wally Tax) - 2:58
21.Wally Tax - Not Love At All (Wally Tax) - 2:43
22.Wally Tax - Do It All Over (M. Duiser, W. Tax) - 2:49
23.Wally Tax - She Went Like She Came (Wally Tax) - 2:22
24.If You Don't Treat Me Right - 2:41
25.I Want To Know - 2:11
26.Me Song - 2:28
All songs by Ronnie Splinter, Wally Tax except where stated

The Outsiders
*Wally Tax - Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica
*Ronnie Splinter - Lead, 12String Guitars, Bass, Vocals
*Appie Rammers - Bass
*Tom Krabbendam - Guitar
*Leendert "Buzz" Busch - Drums
*Frank Beek - Bass

1966-67  The Outsiders - The Outsiders
1968  The Outsiders - CQ (remaster and expanded)
Related Act
1970  Tax Free - Tax Free

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Friday, June 27, 2014

The Byrds - Live At Royal Albert Hall (1971 us, stunning country folk classic rock, 2008 issue)

It’s too easy to think in stereotypes about bands. The Byrds will, for most people, be the studio band of the first few albums, a beautiful execution of great songs peaking with Sweetheart Of The Rodeo. Then it was all downhill as Roger McGuinn kept the name alive through successive personnel.

Except it wasn’t like that, as this album makes abundantly clear. Taken from a tape discovered in McGuinn’s garage, it captures Big Chief Byrd with Gene Parsons (drums), Skip Battin (bass) and, crucially, Clarence White on guitar. They are smoking hot; together, tight harmonies and razor-like guitar. The songs are given a heavier rock feel that does not drown the more delicate moments, but the show also encompasses an acoustic set that allows White to show off his bluegrass licks, and McGuinn his deft banjo picking.

It goes a bit Hawkwind during the drum-and-bass solo bit of Eight Miles High (anyone seen that German DVD?) and, by the time the vocals come in after approximately 15 minutes, the whole thing has careened irredeemably out of control. It’s the only duff moment in 19 numbers.

White was killed in a road accident two years later. There could be no better way to remember him than this.
by Tim Holmes

1. Lover Of The Bayou (Roger McGuinn, Jacques Levy) - 3:35
2. You Ain't Goin' Nowhere (Bob Dylan) - 2:47
3. Truck Stop Girl (Lowell George, Bill Payne) - 3:21
4. My Back Pages (Bob Dylan) - 2:22
5. Baby What You Want Me To Do (Jimmy Reed) - 3:38
6. Jamaica Say You Will (Jackson Browne) - 3:33
7. Black Mountain Rag/Soldier's Joy (Traditional, Arranged Clarence White, Roger McGuinn) - 2:02
8. Mr. Tambourine Man (Bob Dylan) - 3:38
9. Pretty Boy Floyd (Woody Guthrie) - 2:34
10.Take A Whiff (On Me) -  (Huddie Ledbetter, John Lomax, Alan Lomax) - 2:39
11.Chestnut Mare (Roger McGuinn, Jacques Levy) - 5:24
12.Jesus Is Just Alright (Arthur Reynolds) - 3:03
13.Eight Miles High (Gene Clark, Roger McGuinn, David Crosby) - 18:38
14.So You Want To Be A Rock 'N' Roll Star (Chris Hillman, Roger McGuinn) - 3:07
15.Mr. Spaceman (Roger McGuinn) - 2:57
16.I Trust (Roger McGuinn) - 5:31
17.Nashville West (Gene Parsons, Clarence White) - 2:43
18.Roll Over Beethoven (Chuck Berry) - 2:59
19.Amazing Grace (Traditional) - 2:31

The Byrds
*Roger McGuinn - Guitar, Vocals
*Clarence White - Guitar, Vocals
*Skip Battin - Electric Bass, Vocals
*Gene Parsons - Drums, Vocals

1964 The Byrds - Preflyte (2012 Retro World double disc release)

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Jimmie Spheeris - Isle Οf View / The Original Tap Dancing Kid (1971-73 us, fantastic silk rock with folk and prog tinges, 2008 remaster)

The first name of James among popular musicians of the pre-punk rock era appears in retrospect to be somewhat of a poisoned chalice. Surely everyone is familiar with the cases of Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison, acclaimed superstars due to their envelopepushing talents, but in the quieter world of the troubadour or singer/songwriter, both Jim Croce and Jimmie Spheeris died violent but accidental deaths, Croce in a plane crash and Spheeris when a drunken driver knocked him off his motorcycle in Santa Monica on American Independence Day, 1984. 

However, it is probably more accurate to suggest that the poisoned chalice refers to those who abbreviated their correct name of James - James Taylor, for example, is still very much with us and has enjoyed a long and distinguished career which continues today. According to the best information available, James Spheeris was born on Guy Fawkes day (that's 5th November,  for the uninitiated), 1949, in Phenix City, Alabama, a few miles west of the border with Georgia and around 200 miles north of Florida and the Gulf Of Mexico. His parents, Andrew, a Greek immigrant, and Juanita (whose nickname was Gypsy) owned and ran what Wikipedia calls "a travelling carnival called The Majick Empire", which probably inspired his often impressively poetic lyrics.

He was one of four children, arguably the best known of whom was/is his older sister Penelope, who became a film-maker, among whose credits are the 1981 punk/rock documentary feature movie, 'The Decline Of Western Civilization', and its 1988 sequel, 'The Decline Of Western Civilization II – The Metal Years', which centred on the Los Angeles heavy metal movement, and included participation by the likes of Motorhead, Ozzy Osbourne and Aerosmith. She was also a writer for almost ten years on the TV series, 'Roseanne', and directed 'Wayne's World', the 1992 feature movie starring Mike Myers which grossed over $120 million! 

A 1986 Santa Monica newspaper article on Jimmie Spheeris revealed that his father was murdered by "a belligerent carnival-goer".  after which Gypsy Spheeris moved the family to San Diego, then to Venice, California. By the late 1960s, Jimmie had left home and moved to New York, which he felt would allow him to further develop his chosen career as a songwriter. He became friendly with Richie Havens, probably after they had worked together, and Havens introduced him to Clive Davis, the big cheese at Columbia Records, who was responsible for signing Big Brother & The Holding Company (fronted by Janis Joplin), Santana, Bruce Springsteen, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Electric Flag (featuring Mike Bloomfield), Chicago, Laura Nyro (with whom Spheeris shared a New York City apartment around the time of his debut album), Billy Joel and several others - including Jimmie Spheeris, who was the beneficiary of a four album deal with Columbia/CBS. It probably didn't help Spheeris when Davis left Columbia in 1973, but subsequently Davis became the head honcho at Arista Records, to which he signed Patti Smith and Whitney Houston, among many others. Havens is one of several, also including Davis, who get "thank you" credits on 'Isle Of View', the earlier of the two albums which make up this reissue.

In 1971, Spheeris was assigned Paul Leka as producer of this debut LP. Leka was not only a producer, but also a songwriter (of 'Green Tambourine', the million-selling 1967 US chart-topper for The Lemon Pipers, and of 'Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye', the million-selling 1969 US chart-topper by Steam, a studio group of which he was a member), an arranger and an orchestrator. As a producer, his credits included The Left Banke's Too'album, the first two albums by R.E.O. Speedwagon, and after working with Spheeris, three Harry Chapin albums. His expertise as arranger/orchestrator is evident on 'Isle Of View', although the excellent arranging and conducting work of David Campbell, who also played violin and viola, was similarly significant. Campbell appeared live with Spheeris "on special occasions" throughout the 1970s, playing viola and conducting when an orchestra was used onstage. However, perhaps even more significant was guitarist Geoff Levin, who appears on both the albums here, and was also in the Jimmie Spheeris Band until 1976.   

After the two album presented here, Spheeris released two further albums, 'The Dragon Is Dancing' (Epic, 1975) and 'Ports Of The Heart' (CBS, 1976), but hindsight tells us that these would probably have been overlooked commercially because the era of the singer/ songwriter was in decline during the mid-1970s. Ultimately, Jimmie Spheeris seems likely to remain a cherished memory among those who experienced his music many years ago, when he was clearly a contender, but perhaps the timing was wrong...
by John Tobler, Washington (UK), 2008

1. The Nest - 4:04
2. For Roach - 2:48
3. Monte Luna - 3:04
4. Seeds Of Spring - 3:52
5. I Am The Mercury - 4:59
6. Long Way Down (L. Nicolai) - 4:40
7. Let It Flow - 3:22
8. Seven Virgins - 2:58
9. Come Back - 4:43
10.Esmaria - 5:48
11.Beautiful News - 2:45
12.Shirtful Of Apples - 3:17
13.Open Up - 3:03
14.Streets Of The Harbour - 2:52
15.The Original Tap Dancing Kid - 3:31
16.Sweet Wahini Mama - 2:56
17.Keeper Of The Canyon - 3:19
18.Soul Tumbleweed - 3:02
19.Long Way From China - 4:09
20.Village Vapors - 2:48
21.Moon On The Water - 2:38
All songs by Jimmie Spheeris except where indicated

Isle Οf View 1971
*Jimmie Spheeris - Guitar, Piano, Vocals
*Geoff Levin - Guitar
*David Campbell - Violin, Viola
*Lee Calvin Nicolai - Flute, Bass, Guitar, Backing Vocals
*David Harowitz - Piano On 'Monte Luna'and Tracks 6-10
*Emil Latimer - Conga
*Buddy Salzman - Drums
*Bill La Vornia – Drums
The Original Tap Dancing Kid 1973
*Jimmie Spheeris - Acoustic Guitar, Piano, Vocal
*Felix Cavaliere - Piano, Organ, Backing Vocals
*Russ Kunkel - Drums, Tambourine
*Leland Sklar - Bass
*Geoff Levin - Electric Guitar, 12-String Acoustic Guitar
*Bobby Hall - Conga
*Sneeky Pete - Pedal Steel
*Doreen Davis - Backing Vocals
*Jane Getz - Celeste, Piano, Backing Vocals
*Vinnie Johnson - Drums
*John Summers - Bass
*Jim Calgar - Flute
*Harvey Mason - Drums
*David Campbell - Fiddle
*Norma Trotter - Tap Dancing
*Charlie Larkey - Bass

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Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Grass Roots - Move Along / Alotta Mileage (1972-73 us, sightly soulful brass rock)

The final three Top 40 hits for the Grass Roots materialize on Move Along, a consistent album under the aegis of original co-producer Steve Barri with the band's future producers Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter writing two of the new hits. Slick arrangements and big production eliminate the charm of the earlier recordings, where P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri gave the group a nice mixture of the frosting poured atop once folky Simon & Garfunkel tracks by Clive Davis and the Top 40 shine Mickey Most gave to Herman's Hermits. That Sloan and Barri worked on Peter Noone's Hold On movie soundtrack, including their composition "A Must to Avoid" and an earlier version of "Where Were You When I Needed You," is a little proof of how they steered the original Grassroots. Peter Noone hit in January of 1966 with his Sloan/Barri material, the Grassroots in July of that year. 
by Joe Viglione

Given that they were perceived as being long past their prime, the appropriately titled Alotta Mileage (the group's seventh album) is a truly astonishing album to have come from the Grass Roots in 1973,  the first side of Alotta Mileage is a fine, smooth, delightfully hook-laden and beautifully produced body of soulful pop music. The vocalizing by Rob Grill and the playing by -- well, who knows, as the group was always relying on session musicians -- are first-rate, and the songs are catchy and executed spot-on, with a wide variety of sounds from solo acoustic guitar to horn-accompanied choruses in all the right spots. 

In one respect, it's no surprise that the group could still deliver like this on record, what with veteran members Grill and Warren Entner sharing the production chores alongside co-founder/original co-producer Steve Barri. Between them, they wrote the book on the group's post-1967 sound. Sad to say, side two is a bit less successful, as the material isn't as strong; most of what's there is predictable, by-the-numbers pop-soul, and the one minor chart single off the album, "Love Is What You Make It," sounds too much like a warmed-over Partridge Family leftover. But the fact that two-thirds of this record is as good as it is will be a pleasant treat to anyone who tracks it down. 

The other amazing element of this release is the wretched cover art -- Dunhill either had the worst art department in the business or someone there felt it was appropriate to go through the motions of doing his or her job: in place of anything indicating that this is a soul-based rock album by a band with more than a dozen hit singles to its credit, there is an image of footwear on the cover. 
by Bruce Eder

1. The Runway (B. Potter, G. Lambert) - 2:51
2. Monday Love (D. Provisor) - 3:23
3. Anyway The Wind Blows (B. Potter, G. Lambert) - 2:53
4. Runnin' Just To Get Her Home Again (D. Provisor, W. Entner) - 3:25
5. Two Divided By Love (B. Potter, M. Kupps) - 2:35
6. Someone To Close (D. Provisor) - 3:17
7. Face The Music (D. Walsh, H. Price) - 3:08
8. Move Along (D. Provisor) - 3:19
9. One Word (A. Roberts, C. Welch) - 2:32
10.Only One (D. Provisor) - 4:57
11.Glory Bound (D. Walsh, H. Price, D. Provisor, S. Barri) - 2:33
12.Where There's Smoke There's Fire (D. Walsh, H. Price) - 2:57
13.Pick Up Your Feet (E. Villareal, W. Watkins) - 2:56
14.You've Got To Bend With The Breeze (D. Walsh, H. Price, R. Grill, W. Entner) - 2:45
15.Just A Little Tear (D. Walsh, H. Price, R. Grill, W. Entner) - 3:15
16.Ain't No Way To Go Home (B. Mann, C. Weil) - 2:55
17.Claudia (V. Weber, W. Entner) - 3:27
18.Love Is What You Make It (D. Walsh, H. Price) - 2:52
19.Look But Don't Touch (W. Entner) - 3:08
20.Ballad Of Billy Joe (C. Rich) - 5:03
21.We Almost Made It together (D. Provisor, W. Entner) - 3:40
22.Little Bit Of Love (A. Fraser, P. Kossoff, P. Rodgers, S. Kirk) - 2:45
23.Medley-I'd Wait a Million Years/Midnight Confessions/Let's Live For Today/Temptation Eyes (M. Bottler, G. Zekley / L. Josie / M. Julien, I. Mogol, D. Shapiro / D. Walsh, H. Price) - 4:16

The Grass Roots
*Rob Grill - Vocals, Bass
*Warren Entner - Guitar, Vocals
*Virgil Weber - Keyboards
*Reed Kailing - Guitar
*Joel Larson - Drums

1969  The Grass Roots - Leaving It All Behind  (2010 edition)

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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Leonda - Woman In The Sun (1969 canada, marvelous folk psych with jazz blues tinges, 2007 issue)

Though it was released on a major label (Columbia's Epic subsidiary) in the late '60s, Leonda's sole album, Woman in the Sun, is extremely rare, and little known even among fans of singer/songwriters of the era. Because Leonda is Native American, and sometimes uses prominent vibrato in her vocal phrasing, she might generate comparisons to the most well-known Native American singer/songwriter of that era, Buffy Sainte-Marie. Actually, however, she's almost as similar to Annisette of Savage Rose or (more distantly) Melanie, or perhaps some of the gutsier woman singers from late-'60s West Coast rock bands. 

While Leonda has an appealing, somewhat raspy voice, her folk-bluesy material (with backup help from members of the Canadian rock band the Paupers) is less impressive. The songs are fairly meandering and not all that tuneful, if good-natured with a vaguely hippie uplifting vibe. Things are better when she moves away from a blues base to a folkier one, as she does with the orchestrated "When I Lived in My Grandmother's House" and the acoustic "Zono My Bird."
by Richie Unterberger

1. Mist In The Sky - 3:39
2. Somebody´S Gonna Ask Me Who I Was (Leonda, Mike Baish) - 4:59
3. When I Lived In My Grandmothers House (Michael Peter Smith) - 4:34
4. Blue Diamond In Platinim Setting - 3:26
5. Mother In Love - 3:48
6. Come Take A Waltz Through My Heart - 3:38
7. Peace And Pipes - 6:46
8. Zono My Bird - 3:39
9. Head Country (Tothe Lost City OF Zoozoo) - 3:39
10.Make It All Right - 4:06
All songs by Leonda unles as else stated

*Leonda - Vocals
*Brad Campbell - Bass
*Teddy Irwin - Guitar
*Sammy Lawhorn - Guitar
*Adam Mitchell - Organ
*Kermit Moore - Cello
*John Ord - Organ, Piano
*Skip Prokop - Drums

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Cockney Rebel - Cavaliers, An Anthology (1973-74 uk, two masterpieces and other gems, 2012 four disc set remaster)

The British band Cockney Rebel, founded by singer-songwriter Steve Harley, entered the rock scene in 1973 after signing with EMI. Their debut The Human Menagerie contained the single Sebastian with its classical keyboard arrangements. This single definitely generated interest in the band and it was a big international success. It paved the way for their second album The Psychomodo (1974), which was a great success either charting the top-ten in the UK along with the hit singles Judy Teen and Mr Soft. Recently these two albums were re-released in a 4CD anthology set. Beside these two albums this set includes all the singles and flip sides, recently discovered early alternative versions, mixes of tracks from both albums and various BBC concerts and sessions, including two tracks from The Old Grey Whistle Test. All these tracks were previously unreleased on CD.

On Cavaliers (An Anthology 1973-1974) Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel cover a range of musical genres from pop to progressive rock and even classical music. The first disc contains the entire debut album plus two singles and their flip sides. The Human Menagerie was recorded in June and July 1973 in the Air Studios in London and produced byNeil Harrison. All songs were written by Steve Harley. It was released by EMI Records in November 1973, but failed to chart in the UK and the USA. The line-up consisted of Steve Harley (vocals), Stuart Elliott (drums, percussion), Paul Jeffreys (bass), Milton Reame-James (keyboards) and Jean-Paul Crocker (electric violin, mandolin, acoustic guitar). Engineer was the well-known Geoff Emerickwho had worked with The Beatles, while Andrew Powell (The Alan Parsons Project, amongst others) did all the string arrangements.

The album features no electric guitars. Although the band originally had several guitar players, Harley felt that the Cockney Rebel sound didn't need an electric guitar. They settled on the combination of Crocker's electric violin and the Fender Rhodes piano of keyboardist Reame-James sharing the lead. Their first single Sebastian was an immediate success in Europe, although it failed to score in the UK singles charts. The band attracted a growing following in London with their debut album on which Sebastian undoubtedly is the ultimate highlight. This song is mostly performed on the acoustic piano, but has a lot of bombastic passages thanks to the use of a classical orchestra and a choir.

Two other musical highlights on The Human Menagerie are the short piece Chameleon, which is a kind of intro to Death Trip. The classical arrangements elevate this piece to a high level. It beautifully moves towards an excellent climax where the choirs sound absolutely stunning! The bonus tracks are a DJ edit of Sebastian and Rock And Roll Parade, the flip side of this single, which is a happy pop tune like many other songs on their debut. The next single that was recorded as Cockney Rebel has been added as well. The non-album track Judy Teen and its flip side Spaced Out end the first disc. This is a rather good single with fine playing on the violin. Judy Teen became their first hit in the UK; the flip side is a rather pop-like song.

The second disc contains the entire second album The Psychomodo complemented with two singles. This time the album was produced by Steve Harley and Alan Parsons, who produced the famous album Dark Side Of The Moon by Pink Floyd. He also worked with The Beatles. It was released by EMI Records on the 2nd of June 1974. The album failed to chart in the USA, but charted at number eight in the UK. The line-up was similar to their debut and once more Andrew Powell did all the string arrangements. You could say that The Human Menagerie was a journey into the decadence of mankind, while The Psychomodo is like a trip to the circus. 

On the latter album different musical elements of the circus can be heard throughout. Maybe this album has even more to offer than the band's debut. In my opinion the highlights are Ritz, Cavaliers and Tumbling Down. These pieces contain more prog rock influences compared to the other compositions. They also used more keyboards beside the usual piano parts. Especially Tumbling Down sounds very good thanks to the fine string arrangements. This disc contains rather strong bonus material as well like Such A Dream, the flip side of Mr Soft. Big Big Deal was the first solo single by Steve Harley released in 1974. It never appeared on an album. In 1975 Cockney Rebel scored a big hit in the UK with Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me). The song preceded the formation of a new line-up, because after a successful UK tour all musicians, with the exception of Stuart Elliott, quit.

The third disc features several early versions, stereo mixes and alternate mixes of songs that later appeared on the first two albums. It's nice to listen to different versions of a number of tracks, especially the more well-known numbers like Sebastian, Mr Soft and Judy Teen. This time no orchestral arrangements can be heard. These versions sound purer as if they were recorded in a rehearsal room. The final and fourth disc is actually the most interesting one, because it contains the live versions of the rather sterile songs. If you listen to Cockney Rebel during performances for a BBC concert, The Old Grey Whistle Test and a John Peel session you just feel the energy. The songs are more lively thanks to a strong playing band. Even the two songs with the classical arrangements sound perfect. You hardly miss the string sections on Sebastian and Death Trip.

After the first split, Cockney Rebel was in fact a Steve Harley solo project. In 1974, The Best Years Of Our Lives was released again produced by Alan Parsons. This album included the aforementioned track Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me) which became a number one single in February 1975. It was the band's biggest hit that sold over one million copies globally. More albums followed, but they never got the success of this one. In 2010, Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel began to tour again in England, Ireland and Northern Ireland following the release of Stranger Comes To Town, a new studio album.

Cavaliers (An Anthology 1973-1974) is a fine 4CD compilation comprising the early days of Cockney Rebel. I think this set will be enjoyed by many lovers of progressive rock music since songs as Sebastian and Death Trip are real beauties.
by Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)

Sadly Steve Harley passed away today, 17th March 2024, at the age of  73...

Disc 1
The Human Menagerie
1. Hideaway - 3:48
2. What Ruthy Said - 2:19
3. Loretta's Tale - 4:10
4. Crazy Raver - 3:44
5. Sebastian - 6:59
6. Mirror Freak - 5:11
7. My Only Vice - 2:49
8. Muriel the Actor - 4:09
9. Chameleon - 0:51
10.Death Trip - 9:51
11.Sebastian (DJ Edit) - 3:52
12.Rock And Roll Parade - 2:55
13.Judy Teen - 3:43
14.Spaced Out - 2:59

Disc 2
The Psychomodo
1. Sweet Dreams - 2:08
2. Psychomodo - 4:04
3. Mr Soft - 3:17
4. Singular Band - 3:02
5. Ritz - 7:14
6. Cavaliers - 8:35 
7. Bed In The Corner - 3:34
8. Sling It! - 2:44
9. Tumbling Down - 5:58
10. Such A Dream - 5:08
11. Big Big Deal - 4:30

Disc 3
Special Versions
1. Sebastian - 8:20
2. Hideaway - 4:03
3. Chameleon - 0:42
4. Death Trip - 8:52
5. Loretta's Tale - 4:48
6. Crazy Raver - 4:01
7. Mirror Freak - 5:40
8. My Only Vice - 2:54
9. Rock And Roll Parade - 3:30
10.Judy Teen - 4:10
11.Crazy Raver - 3:48
12.Rock And Roll Parade - 3:30
13.Mr Soft - 3:23
14.Big Big Deal - 5:34 

Disc 4
Concerts And Sessions
1. Hideaway - 5:03
2. Crazy Raver - 3:51
3. Loretta's Tale - 4:40
4. Sebastian - 7:38
5. Death Trip - 11:24
6. Hideaway - 4:16
7. My Only Vice - 2:48
8. Bed In the Corner/Sling It! - 6:07
9. Mr Soft - 3:15
10.Sweet Dreams/Psychomodo - 5:44
All compositions by Steve Harley

Cockney Rebel
*Steve Harley - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
*Stuart Elliott - Drums, Percussion
*Paul Jeffreys - Bass
*Milton Reame-James - Keyboards
*Jean-Paul Crocker - Electric Violin, Mandolin, Guitars

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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Cream - Live Cream II (1972 uk, classic heavy blues psych rock, 2010 japan SHM remaster)

An oft-overlooked curio, Live Cream, Vol. 2 appeared at a very odd time, with very little warning, almost two years after its predecessor -- and at virtually the same time as the related (though not overlapping) History of Eric Clapton. And both showed up, not coincidentally, at a point when Clapton, unbeknownst to most of the public, was sidelined with a crippling heroin addiction -- this album helped keep him in the public eye, as a singer as well as a guitarist. 

On its face, Live Cream, Vol. 2 is a more ambitious album that its predecessor, offering more songs and including concert versions of two of the group's AM radio hits (as opposed to the album tracks that comprised the repertory on Live Cream, Vol. 1). And it is just about essential listening for anyone who wants to understand what Cream was about, which was live performance. Utilizing -- for the time -- state of the art mobile recording equipment, it was a significant achievement at the time in capturing the genuine sound of a high-wattage power trio on-stage, playing away at full volume; and the overall sonic excellence here must surely be credited to engineers Tom Dowd and Bill Halverson. 

The feeling that you are in the front row is very much in evidence, and this is largely due to their ability to capture the band's live fury with clarity and intimacy, down to every nuance of Ginger Baker's playing. As for the performances, this record does capture the band at their peak, though perhaps not at the very best moments of that peak -- the group made their reputation as a live act with epic, lengthy jams that verged on jazz, but the repertory represented here (as opposed to that on Live Cream, Vol. 1) is more focused on their pop/rock efforts, such as "White Room," "Sunshine of Your Love," "Tales of Brave Ulysses," etc., which don't lend themselves as easily (or at all) to opening out in extended jams, in the manner of, say, "N.S.U." or "Sweet Wine," or the legendary "Spoonful"; additionally, numbers such as "Sunshine of Your Love" and, in particular, "White Room," require more vocal dexterity than Clapton and bassist/singer Jack Bruce could muster in this kind of concert setting -- their singing, especially on "White Room" comes close to breaking down ("Sunshine of Your Love" fares better), whereas their playing holds together, almost better than perfect at times.

"Deserted Cities of the Heart" -- which opens the album -- comes off exceptionally well as a concert piece, the bass and guitar actually combining to overcome the absences of swooping cellos, acoustic guitars, and other accompanying instruments from the studio rendition. And there is one priceless example of Cream in a full-tilt jam, on the 13-plus-minute closing cut, "Steppin' Out" -- the band's sheer energy overcomes what minor deficiencies there are in the overall sound quality. And coupled with the compact, four- to five-minute versions of "Deserted Cities of the Heart" and "Tales of Brave Ulysses," among others, the album is a vital, intense, and enjoyable listen that is ultimately rewarding. The original LP had its sonic limitations,  but this remastered version offers the best sound ever heard for this album. 
by Bruce Eder

1. Deserted Cities Of The Heart (Jack Bruce, Pete Brown) - 4:32
2. White Room (Jack Bruce, Pete Brown) - 5:38
3. Politician (Jack Bruce, Pete Brown) - 5:06
4. Tales Of Brave Ulysses (Eric Clapton, Martin Sharp) - 4:45
5. Sunshine Of Your Love (Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, Pete Brown) - 7:20
6. Steppin' Out (James Bracken) - 13:38 (Mistitled As Hideaway)
Track 5 recorded 9 March 1968 at the Winterland, San Francisco
Tracks 4, 6 recorded 10 March 1968 at the Winterland, San Francisco
Tracks 1 - 3 recorded 4 October 1968 at the Oakland Coliseum Arena, Oakland

*Eric Clapton - Vocals, Guitar
*Jack Bruce - Vocals, Bass, Harmonica
*Ginger Baker - Drums

1966  Cream - Fresh Cream (SHM remaster)
1967  Cream - Disraeli Gears (SHM remaster)
1969  Cream - Goodbye (2010 SHM remaster)
1967-68 Cream - Live Cream (2010 SHM remaster)
1969  Jack Bruce - Songs For A Tailor
1971  Jack Bruce - Harmony Row

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Fairfield Ski - Fairfield Ski (1973 uk, fabulous melodic orchestrated soft rock with glam and prog tinges, 2013 remaster)

Birmingham’s Fairfield Ski are one of the greatest lost UK psych/prog bands ever. With a line- up which included ex- Terry Reid’s band Bill Bonham (cousin of Led Zepp John Bonham) on keyboards, their only recorded legacy is one of the rarest artifacts from the first UK psych- prog era: only 3 copies are known to exist of the Fairfield Ski acetate album, recorded in 1973 at top London studios such as Trident, Abbey Road and Apple. A perfectly played and professionally produced record which ranges from full- blown psychedelia to glam, hard- rock, progressive- pop and dreamy psych. Echoes of Forever Amber, Five Day Rain, Octopus, Deep Purple, Procol Harum, “Abbey Road” era Beatles and Appletree Theatre can be heard on the grooves of this lost classic.

1. Silver Tavern - 4:04
2. Circus - 3:12
3. Would You Mind / The Warrior - 11:19
4. Man From Galillee - 3:26
5. Something On Your Mind - 3:13
6. Meet Me At The Station - 3:16
7. Suddenly I'm Sure - 5:17
8. Si Te Dois Partis - 3:56
9. Time Is Fast Approaching / Goodnight - 4:49
All songs by Fairfield Ski

Fairfield Ski
*Matt Bridger - Bass, Vocals
*Dave Hynds - Drums, Vocals
*Nigel Wright - Vocals
*Bill Bonham - Keyboards, Vocals

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Lutha - Stop! The Music Is Over (1972-73 new zealand, amazing classic groovy rock, 2006 remaster)

This is a compilation of Lutha's two albums, fleshed out with three live tracks. Lutha was formed in Dunedin in 1970 and signed to HMV in 1972 producing their albums 'Lutha' and 'Earth' that year. They were initially insistent on remaining Dunedin-based, even after attracting considerable national interest, but eventually moved to Christchurch before they amicably broke up in 1974. The band line-up consisted of: Graham Wardrop (guitar/lead vocals), Garry McAlpine (lead vocals/percussion), Peter Edmonds (drums/vocals), Peter Fraser (bass guitar/vocals) and Kevin Foster (keyboards). 

Their sound could overall be described as melodic progressive rock, like early Genesis or Yes, but with lush vocal harmonies throughout. There is a great variety of music, between Wardrop's 'McCartney-esque' numbers (soft and melodic, in the vein of The Beatles) and McAlpine's rockier style (possibly a precursor to stars such as Jimmy Barnes). McAlpine's vocals are truly remarkable - he could have fronted any of the
hugely popular heavy rock acts of the '70s with his unique talent. 

The original members of Lutha have recently announced that they will reform for a concert in Dunedin during the inaugural Dunedin Heritage Festival in March. 'Stop!' was remastered at Stebbing Recording Centre by Simon Lynch and is highly recommended. 
by Peter Dent

1. Then I Saw A Face (Graham Wardrop) - 3:30
2. Sun Song (Anaximander Rambling) (G. McAlpine, G. Spittle) - 3:52
3. I Really Only Want To Be With You (Graham Wardrop) - 2:31
4. Andrianna (Graham Wardrop) - 2:12
5. Mountain Side (Graham Wardrop) - 4:30
6. Stop! The Music Is Over (Garry McAlpine, Gordon Spittle) - 2:53
7. Why Is Gone (Garry McAlpine, Gordon Spittle) - 4:51
8. My Turn To Cry (Graham Wardrop) - 3:20
9. So Many Years (Graham Wardrop) - 1:24
10.I Am But All Alone (Garry McAlpine, Gordon Spittle) - 4:09
11.Earth (Graham Wardrop) - 4:26
12.Here And Now (Garry McAlpine, Gordon Spittle) - 4:34
13.Empty Rooms (Graham Wardrop) - 2:18
14.Dandylions (Garry McAlpine, Gordon Spittle) - 3:00
15.What Do You Do (Graham Wardrop) - 2:59
16.Waterfall (Pure Land) (Graham Wardrop) - 2:52
17.Places (Garry McAlpine, Gordon Spittle) - 5:39
18.The Old Tree (Garry McAlpine, Gordon Spittle) - 2:19
19.My Babe (Bill Medley, Bobby Hatfield) - 2:52
20.Policeman (Garry McAlpine, Gordon Spittle) - 2:30
21.Questions (Graham Wardrop) - 1:56
22.Student Demonstration Time (Live 1972) (J. Leiber, M. Stoller) - 3:38
23.Andrianna (Live 1972) (Graham Wardrop) - 2:29
24.Stop! The Music Is Over (Live 1972) (G. McAlpine, G. Spittle) - 2:48

*Graham Wardrop - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Garry McAlpine - Percussion, Vocals
*Peter Edmonds - Drums
*Peter Fraser - Bass Guitar, Vocals
*Kevin Foster - Keyboards

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Sunday, June 8, 2014

Dr Feelgood - Stupidity (1976 uk, live rock 'n' roll dynamite, 2014 japan SHM expanded edition)

The best live record ever: and it reached No1! Just a few years into the 1970s, rock had become self-indulgent, and pompous, and singles were increasingly cheesy. But on the pub-rock live circuit Dr Feelgood were building a reputation for their sweaty, speedy, choppy, Canvey Island-bred rhythm and blues. The ace in their hole was their mop-topped, black-clad, bug-eyed guitarist, Wilko Johnson, who careered around the stage like a madman with a machine gun, chopping out funky riffs in a totally unique style. This 1975 live set (released in 1976) was fresh, unrelentingly exciting and inescapably danceable. 

Comprised of recordings taken from 1975 tours, the live Stupidity finally captures the relentless, hard-driving energy of Dr. Feelgood at their peak. All the music on Stupidity is presented raw and without overdubs, making it clear that the dynamic friction between guitarist Wilko Johnson and vocalist Lee Brilleaux could propel the band toward greatness. While many of the versions here don't differ in form from the original studio versions, these unvarnished performances are considerably more exciting, revealing the Johnson originals "She Does It Right" and "All Through the City" as minor rock & roll classics. 
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

1. Talking About You - 1:59
2. Twenty Yards Behind - 2:06
3. Stupidity (Solomon Burke) - 2:20
4. All Through The City - 2:54
5. I'm A Man (Ellis McDaniels) - 5:10
6. Walking The Dog (Rufus Thomas) - 2:58
7. She Does It Right - 3:05
8. Going Back Home (Wilko Johnson, Mick Green) - 3:47
9. I Don't Mind - 2:13
10.Back In The Night - 3:09
11.I'm A Hog For You Baby (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) - 3:17
12.Checking Up On My Baby (Sonny Boy Williamson) - 3:17
13.Roxette - 3:04
14.Keep It Out Of Sight - 2:59
15.Riot In Cell Block No. 9 (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) - 3:48
16.Johnny B. Goode (Chuck Berry) - 4:02
17.All Through The City (Stereo Version) - 3:04
18.Roxette - 2:23
19.Boom Boom (Johnny Lee Hooker) - 2:44
20.Rock Me Baby (B.B. King, Lil' Son Jackson) - 4:57
21.All Through The City (Stereo Version) - 3:13
22.Oyeh ! (Stereo Version) (Michael Robert "Mick" Green) - 2:31
23.I'm A Hog For You Baby (Stereo Version) (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) - 3:05
24.Stupidity (Stereo Version) (Solomon Burke) - 2:08
All songs by Wilko Johnson except whete noted
Tracks 1-7 Live at Sheffield City Hall, 23rd May 1975
Tracks 8-15 Live at Southend Kursaal, 8th November 1975
Track 16 Live at Friar's Aylesbury, May 17th 1975
Tracks 18-20 Live at Cardiff Top Rank, June 19th 1974

Dr Feelgood
*Lee Brilleaux - Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica, Slide Guitar
*Wilko Johnson - Guitar, Backing Vocals
*John B. Sparks - Bass Guitar
*The Big Figure - Drums, Backing Vocals

1974  Down By The Jetty (2014 Japan SHM edition)

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Friday, June 6, 2014

Dr. Feelgood - Down By The Jetty (1974 uk, superb pub rock tough boogie 'n' roll, 2014 Japan SHM edition)

The  reissue of this album is a must-own release, even for those who already have one of the Dr. Feelgood anthologies currently available, neither of which has more like the 24 tracks here. The 1974 album, a magnificent first album, recorded in pure mono, has been transferred to CD in exemplary form, a clean, sharp, crunchy, close sound that recalls the sonic textures of the Rolling Stones' first album, even as they cross swords with the Stones' arch-rivals of the era, the Animals, with a superb version of "Boom Boom." 

Released amid the burgeoning radio presence of acts like Thin Lizzy, Blue Öyster Cult, and Kansas, and the growing self-conscious profundity of Bruce Springsteen, Down by the Jetty was as refreshingly lean as anything the headline-grabbing '70s punks would later loose on the world, and as stripped down as the most basic roots rock. Lee Brilleaux's singing could go up against Eric Burdon's or Cyril Davies, and even take on elements of a thick rasp vaguely reminiscent of Howlin' Wolf (listen closely to "Roxette") and guitarist Wilko Johnson could play Jimmy Reed, Chuck Berry, or Bo Diddley licks with equally imposing (and seemingly effortless) virtuosity. 

This record was one of the great '70s rock 'n' roll albums, right up there with the Groovies' Shake Some Action and anything CCR left listeners, and ran circles around the Rolling Stones' post-Exile on Main Street output. The final cut, a killer live medley of "Bonie Maronie"/"Tequila" with guests Brinsley Schwarz and Bob Andrews blowing saxes, was a taste of what they did on stage with astonishing regularity, and could have sent the Ramones back to the drawing board if the Queens-based quartet had heard it. 
by Bruce Eder

1. She Does It Right - 3:26
2. Boom Boom (Hooker) - 2:45
3. The More I Give - 3:27
4. Roxette - 2:58
5. One Weekend - 2:19
6. That Ain't The Way To Behave - 4:01
7. I Don't Mind - 2:39
8. Twenty Yards Behind - 1:13
9. Keep It Out Of Sight - 3:02
10.All Through The City - 3:09
11.Cheque Book (Jupp) - 4:08
12.Oyeh! (Green) - 2:32
13.Bonie Moronie / Tequila (Williams) / (Flores) - 4:52
14.(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66 (Bobby Troup) - 3:24
15.I'm A Hog For You Baby (Leiber, Stoller) - 3:08
16.Stupidity (Burke) - 2:07
17.She Said Alright - 3:40
18.Oyeh! (Earlier Version) - 2:34
19.Tore Down (Live) (Sonny Thompson) - 3:13
20.Don't You Just Know It (Live) (Huey Piano Smith, Johnny Vincent) - 3:17
21.My Babe (Live) (Willie Dixon) - 2:43
22.The More I Give (Live) - 3:05
23.It's My Own Fault Darlin'  (Live)  (B.B. King, Jules Taub) - 5:33
24.Bonie Moronie / Tequila (Live) (Williams) / (Flores) - 4:53
All songs  by Wilko Johnson; except where indicated.

Dr. Feelgood
*Wilko Johnson - Guitar, Piano, Vocals
*Lee Brilleaux - Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica
*John B. Sparks - Bass Guitar
*The Big Figure - Drums
*Bob Andrews - Saxophone
*Brinsley Schwarz - Saxophone

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Beau Brummels - Autumn Of Their Years (1964-66 us, amazing folk beat psych)

"The Beatles opened the door and the Beau Brummels sailed through it and for a while really rode the crest. That they have turned out, in the light of history, to be better than they seemed at the time, shows how advanced they were and how the taste buds have altered."

As self-appointed "grand-old-man" of the 1960s San Francisco rock scene, Rolling Stone founder Ralph Gleason might be forgiven for the slightly patronising tone of such patter. But his words reflect some of the snobbery inherent in the then-developing Bay Area rock community; a scene that was to disavow the Beau Brummels membership in its upper echelons, when by rights they should have been at the very top.

The Brummels' breakthrough in early 1965 established them as the first major rock group to emerge from the area, and they blazed the trail that many were later to follow. Under the helm of guitarist Ron Elliott, perhaps the pre-eminent songwriter of his generation, the group distilled rock, folk and country influences into a captivating and instantly recognisable style, that earned them two widely-admired national hits in 'Laugh Laugh' and 'Just A Little'. Elliott's accomplished guitar work, drummer John Petersen's trademark rimshot fills, even bassist Ron Meagher's nasal harmonies, all added up to a remarkably ditinctive sound. And the expressive vocals of Sal Valentino, rightly lauded as some of the best in rock, were the ace in the Brummels' pack.

The band’s history is well-known, but worth reprising briefly. Elliott and Valentino (real name Sal Spampinato) first sang together in school in the late 50s. Whilst Elliott studied musical composition at San Francisco State College,Valentino sang locally in North Beach, and even had a solo release ('I Wanna Twist') on the Falco label in 1962. With the Spring 1964 addition of Meagher, Petersen and Irish transplant Declan Mulligan, the Beau Brummels were formed. The combo's name cleverly hinted at their British-tinged material, but right from the start the group began performing Elliott's strong, quirky originals. According to the guitarist, "one of the reasons, for getting the band together, was so that I could hear some of my songs played."

After catching the combo at the Morocco Room in San Mateo on the San Francisco peninsula, popular local deejays Tom Donahue and Bob Mitchell signed the Brummels to their Autumn label. Autumn got the outfit out of sleazy North Beach bars and into the top ten with the brilliant, Sly Stone-produced 'Laugh, Laugh'. The classic follow-up 'Just A Little' went top five, and the group were thrown into an ensuing whirlwind of touring and TV and film work. Mulligan left just prior to the release of the group's second album in late 1965, and when Autumn folded due to finance problems in April the following year, the bands contract was sold off: "We got off the road and found we belonged to Warner Brothers."

The immediate success of the Brummels had taken its toll on Ron Elliott, a diagnosed diabetic; "I'd never been comfortable on stage anyway, but the road devastated me health-wise. Sometimes the only memory I have from a tour is waking up in hospital after an insulin reaction." Although Elliott's place was taken by Don Irving for touring purposes in late 1965, by the end of the following year the Beau Brummels had effectively become a recording-only act. Valentino and Elliott remained the constants, and the resulting albums "Triangle" and "Bradley’s Barn", while commercially unsuccessful, are widely acknowledged as masterpieces of late 1960s pop. Fittingly, both records expound upon styles and influences that were present in the group from the very beginning.

Although the Beau Brummels taped a fair amount of material for Autumn, there are remarkably few finished masters that were not released while the group was with the label. Most are demos, although the group themselves considered many tracks that were released at the time - ie on their two Autumn albums - as unfinished. But, as the recently released "San Fran Sessions" box set attests, most of the unreleased material is as good as anything that was officially issued. Some may have been slated as singles, such as the infectious 'Fine With Me', which was mixed down as a tentative release in September 1965. 

The band did eventually re-record the tune, in a slightly different arrangement, for a Warner Brothers single the following year. 'Woman', one of the group's best rockers, appears on the "Sessions" compilation with Dec Mulligan's original vocal, as per the Brummels appearance in teen flick Village Of The Giants. When the song eventually surfaced (on the album "Volume Two"), Dec's vocal had been replaced by an acoustic 12-string, as the guitarist was no longer with the combo (and would soon be in litigation with its remaining members). The group also taped a similar instrumental arrangement of their other tune featured in the movie, 'When It Comes To Your Love'

Despite having a quite remarkable lead vocalist in Valentino, the Beau Brummels democratically allowed each member to sing at least a couple of songs during the Autumn period. Drummer John Petersen takes the lead on 'That's All That Matters', which dates from December 1964. The raucous vocal and Kinks-like structure make it considerably different to anything else the group attempted.
by Alec Palao

1. She Sends Me - 2:04
2. Tomorrow Is Another Day - 2:45
3. She Loves Me (Mulligan) - 3:08
4. Woman (Durand, Elliott) - 2:41
5. Dream On (Durand, Elliott) - 2:23
6. Cry Some - 2:36
7. I Grow Old (Durand, Elliott) - 1:57
8. No Lonelier Man - 1:43
9. This Is Love - 2:12
10.She's My Girl (Mulligan) - 2:27
11.I'll Tell You - 2:45
12.Let Me In - 2:18
13.Love Is Just a Game - 2:32
14.Till the Day - 1:56
15.I Will Go - 2:38
16.Stay With Me Awhile (Valentino) - 3:25
17.I'm Alone Again - 1:28
18.Down on Me - 2:31
19.Can't Be So - 2:16
20.Fine with Me (Durand, Elliott) - 2:27
21.Coming Home - 2:11
22.That's All That Matters - 2:39
23.Laugh, Laugh - 3:22
24.Still in Love with You Baby - 2:27
25.Just a Little (Durand, Elliott) - 2:29
26.When It Comes to Your Love - 2:05
All songs by Ron Elliot except where stated.

Beau Brummels
*Ron Elliott - Guitar
*Ron Meagher - Bass
*John Petersen - Drums
*Sal Valentino - Vocals

1965  Introducing The Beau Brummels (Sundazed edition)
1966  Beau Brummels' 66 (Japan edition)
1975  Beau Brummels
Related Act
1970  Ron Elliott - The Candlestickmaker

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Charles Ford Band - The Charles Ford Band (1972 us, excellent classic blues with young Robben Ford)

When I recorded blues harmonica ace Charlie Musselwhite early in 1971  he had a tight little band which included two brothers, Pat and Robben Ford. Pat impressed me as a solid drummer and Robben was obviously a very gifted lead guitar player, doing many of the vocals, and then switching to saxophone for some haunting duets with Charlie's harmonica. They made great music together. 

When the brothers eventually left Charlie, they formed The Charles Ford Band, (named in honor of their father), and became quite popular in the Bay Area by introducing interesting modern changes into their otherwise fairly traditional urban blues repertoire. Their dynamic stage presence, original tunes, and fascinating interpretations of modern jazz classics, led several record companies to make attractive offers. However, as time went on the young band members sought different directions for their respective talents. When the Charles Ford Band finally broke up in late 1971 they wanted to preserve their music on record.

The Ford brothers weren't born into a blues environment - far from it! Their father was a country musician who had led a band in Wyoming called Rocky Ford and the Tennesseeans. Pat (2/19/1949) and Robben (12/16/1951) were born in Woodlake, Calif. and Mark (10/21/1953) came along after the family had moved to Ukiah, Ca., where all three brothers grew up. Ukiah is about 120 miles north of San Francisco and the musical offerings of the local radio stations were limited to Top 40 pop music along with some Country & Western.

There was none of the musical variety typically available to people in or near major cities who might hear, via the radio, Blues, Gospel, Jazz, Country & Western, Mexican, Classical, Jewish, Scandinavian, and many other types of ethnic music along with pop material. The Ford brothers didn't find music that really grabbed them until Robben, by chance, happened to hear a record by The Paul Butterfield Blues Band around 1965 at the local record shop. This led the brothers to records by B. B. King, John Lee Hooker, James Cotton and other blues greats and soon all their energy was devoted to playing this new-found music.

Prior to discovering the Blues, Pat and Robben had often joined their musically active parents in family jam sessions. By 1968 Pat and Robben had formed their first full-fledged blues band, a trio called The Ford Blues Band. Meanwhile Mark was working on his harmonica and soon joined the trio. The band became quite popular around Ukiah and worked steadily until Robben finished high school. Pat and Robben then went to San Jose and in 1970 formed the Charles Ford Band with harp player Gary Smith and Stan Poplin on bass. It was this band which Charlie Musselwhite encountered when he persuaded Pat and Robben to join him.

Since these recordings were made Robben has become something of a guitar legend and a much sought after sideman in blues, rock and jazz circles. For a time he toured with Miles Davis and Warner Brothers released his blues-oriented solo album Talk to Your Daughter in the late 1980s. For several years during the 1980s Mark Ford fronted his own popular Bay Area blues group, The Mark Ford Band. Patrick Ford recently formed his own record label Blue Rocket and continues to perform with the Ford Blues Band.
by Chris Strachwitz,  1972, 1991

I hink what made the The Charles Ford Band unique was that we were four young white boys, (I was the oldest at 21 and Mark was the youngest at only 16), from a small town in Northern California, who just didn't know any better. 

We came at this newly found blues music with an unbridled zeal and enthusiasm that was not affected by the usual restraints of what a blues band "should" be or should sound like.

The Charles Ford Band actually existed for less than a year and about four months after the band had broken up, Chris Strachwitz set up the sessions. I was back on the road with Charlie Musselwhite, Robben and Stan were working together, and Mark had dropped out of the scene. However, we all agreed that it would be a good idea to record something of the band.

With no rehearsal, and with both time and budgetary constraints, we went into a funky 8-track studio in San Francisco and cut the tracks in two quick sessions. Most were recorded in one take, "live," with no touchups. The Promise was recorded at In Your Ear in Palo Alto, Ca. on a home two-track machine and reveals a bit of the energy and enthusiasm that was the Charles Ford Band.
by Patrick Ford,  1991

1. Blue And Lonesome (Walter Jacobs) - 8:23
2. Gibson Creek Shuffle (Robben Ford) - 3:43
3. My Time After Awhile (Geddins, Badger) - 3:40
4. Rest My Mind On Jesus (Robben Ford) - 1:30
5. Reconsider Baby (Lowell Fulson) - 5:23
6. Black Night (Jesse Mae Robinson) - 8:29
7. Wild Woman (Albert King) - 4:08
8. I Know What You're Putting Down (Jordan, Allen) - 4:03
9. Live The Life I Love - 5:53
10.Tell Him I Was Flyin' - 3:27
11.The Promise (John Coltrane) - 9:31

The Charles Ford Band
*Robben Ford - Guitar, Vocals, Piano
*Mark Ford - Harmonica
*Patrick Ford - Drums
*Stanley Poplin - Bass
*Michael Osborn - Rhythm Guitar (Track #3 Only)

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