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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.


Monday, September 29, 2014

Plainsong - Plainsong (1972 uk, wonderful folk rock, 2013 japan remaster and 2005 double disc edition)

Plainsong was a short-lived folk-rock outfit with country-rock leanings that briefly provided a pretty close British equivalent to the likes of Crosby, Stills & Nash. Singer-songwriter Iain Matthews had been the frontman with Fairport Convention during their early West Coast-influenced period, and had subsequently enjoyed moderate success as a solo artist and with his pioneering British country-rock outfit Southern Comfort. His main collaborator in Plainsong would be guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Andy Roberts, former musical kingpin of the loose collective of folk musicians and performance poets known as the Liverpool Scene. Rounding out the new band were bassist/pianist David Richards and Californian acoustic guitarist Bob Ronga, with percussion being provided on an ad-hoc basis by Iain’s former Fairport colleague Dave Mattacks or fellow folk-rock stalwart Timi Donald. The gentle irony of the band’s name belies their strengths: Matthews’s angelic voice and their superb four-part harmonies, plus immaculate instrumental backings.

Prior to their formation in early 1972 Roberts had become infatuated with the alternative version of the Amelia Earhart story propounded in Fred Goerner’s book The Search For Amelia Earhart , which suggested that she had been on a clandestine aerial spying mission for the US government on the Japanese at Saipan in 1937 and had perished at their hands, the whole affair then being hushed up to avoid an early war. Matthews became readily interested in the topic. Unable to stretch the concept to a whole album, they decided to make a short suite on it the centrepiece of their Elektra debut, which also took as its title that of Goerner’s tome and featured appropriate cover art. A cover of David McEnery’s traditional account “Amelia Earhart’s Last Flight” was followed by Matthews’s own “True Story Of Amelia Earhart” which proffered the Goerner line. Cleverly splitting the two was a soulful version of the old bluegrass spiritual “I’ll Fly Away”. The remainder of the album comprised mellow, thoughtful compositions by Matthews and widely varying but carefully chosen covers of numbers by obscure but respected folk-rock and country artists, including Paul Siebel’s “Louise”, Henske and Yester’s “Raider” and Jim & Jesse’s rollicking “Diesel On My Tail”.

What you got from this apparent mishmash was a beautifully coherent folk-country-rock album with glorious vocals and superbly understated, largely acoustic accompaniment with the occasional fiery Telecaster tail-twist, the whole having a wistful, summery feel absolutely redolent of 1972. It nonetheless failed to trouble the Top 100 album charts, and the Ronga-less follow-up provisionally titled Now We Are 3, which moved further towards country-rock, was shelved when the remaining band members split abruptly due to ferocious antipathy between Matthews and Richards and Iain’s long-aspired determination to move his muse to California. The album lay dormant till 2005 when the Water label in San Francisco released it as part of an absolutely stunning 2-CD compilation entitled simply Plainsong which includes the debut album, the unreleased follow-up, an early single and a dozen live stage and radio recordings: just about everything laid down by the original line-up. Matthews and Roberts had meanwhile reunited in a new Plainsong in the nineties, but I’ll leave you to investigate that if you will.

It's not often you hear mandolins duelling with wah-wah guitars on the same track, or a traditional tale of northern millworkers preceding a Merle Haggard saloon lament, but Plainsong had no use for rulebooks; they were far too busy crafting intelligent acoustic soundscapes and toying with accepted pop sensibilities, and to be presented with 40 examples of such joyousness in one tidy case is a rare and wonderful thing... "Quite simply and without any hype - a supergroup"
by Adamus67

Japan 2013
1. For The Second Time (Ian Matthews) - 3:51
2. Yo Yo Man (Rick Cunha, Marty Cooper) - 2:13
3. Louise (Paul Siebel) - 3:18
4. Call The Tune (Ian Matthews) - 5:22
5. Diesel On My Tail (Jim Fagan) - 2:03
6. Amelia Earhart's Last Flight (Dave Mcenery) - 4:05
7. I'll Fly Away (Albert E. Brumley) - 2:03
8. True Story Of Amelia Earhart (Ian Matthews) - 4:32
9. Even The Guiding Light (Ian Matthews) - 4:12
10.Side Roads (Ian Matthews) - 3:29
11.Raider (Jerry Yester, Judy Henske) - 4:32

Disc: 1
1. For The Second Time - 3:50
2. Yo Yo Man - 2:13
3. Louise - 3:18
4. Call The Tune - 5:22
5. Diesel On My Tail - 2:03
6. Amelia Earhart's Last Flight - 4:05
7. I'll Fly Away - 2:03
8. True Story Of Amelia Earhart - 4:32
9. Even The Guiding Light - 4:12
10. Side Roads - 3:29
11. Raider - 4:38
12. Seeds And Stems - 3:58
13. Tigers Will Survive - 5:02
14. Spanish Guitar - 5:29
15. Time Between - 2:31
16. Truck Driving Man - 2:58
17. I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry - 2:47
18. Wreck Of The Old 97 - 1:55
19. I'll Fly Away (Demo) - 0:39

Disc: 2
1. Old Man At The Mill - 2:33
2. Urban Cowboy - 3:43
3. The Fault - 2:50
4. Swinging Doors - 2:57
5. Keep On Sailing - 4:40
6. Miss The Mississippi - 2:51
7. Home - 3:33
8. First Girl I Loved - 4:03
9. Save Your Sorrows - 2:22
10. Nobody Eats At Linebaugh's Any More - 4:07
11. The Goodnight Lovin Trail - 4:38
12. All Around My Grandmothers Floor - 3:12
13. That's All It Could Amount To - 1:25
14. Amelia Earhart's Last Flight - 5:17
15. Any Day Woman - 4:24
16. Poor Ditching Boy - 3:33
17. Even The Guiding Light - 3:19
18. True Story Of Amelia - 4:20
19. Raider - 5:01
20. Miss The Mississippi - 3:35
21. Along Comes Mary - 2:47
22. Even The Guiding Light - 3:26

*Ian Matthews - Guitar, Vocals
*Dave Richards - Guitar, Vocals
*Andy Roberts - Guitar, Vocals
*Bob Ronga - Bass, Vocals
Additional Musicians
*Timi Donald - Drums
*Martin Jenkins - Cello, Mandola, Mandolin
*Dave Mattacks - Drums

Related Act
1971  Ian Matthews - If You Saw Thro' My Eyes (2012 remaster)

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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Sage - By Sage (1970 us, fine southern rock)

Sage' was a Tampa, FL based band that was founded in 1967. Sage began playing local dances and clubs which eventually brought the band to the attention of Blues Image's Mike Pinera who signed them to his small Illusion label.  It is widely rumoured that Illusion was some sort of a tax scam with albums by Sage and stable mates Hopney being given away or destroyed immediately upon release. 

There probably is more than just a small grain of truth in this rumour, as this particular album is spectacularly rare and almost never comes up for sale. Sage By Sage is a strong album with some first-rate playing and excellent song writing.
by Adamus67

1. My Girl - 3:10
2. Lovely Lady - 4:08
3. Don't Stop Loving Me - 4:09
4. No One But You - 3:52
5. I'm Satisfied With You - 3:27
6. I Believe In You - 4:27
7. Morning Dove - 5:54

John Cameron (guitar)
Hilda Williers (bass)
Ray Williers (guitar)
Rodger Stephan (drums)

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Chris Spedding - Backwood Progression (1970 uk, awesome classic rock with glam and folk traces, 2014 remaster)

Chris Spedding is a special character in the history of English rock of the 70s is somehow the most visible musicians and rock stars more discreet, still right in the middle, centrist total, neither white nor black, perfect gray. At least that's what we can conclude listening to albums of his solo career, a career that began in 1970 with the album "Backwood progression.

Born in Derbyshire June 17, 1944, raised in Sheffield and Birmingham by adoptive parents, Chris Spedding embrace a musical career in the late 60s by joining the Battered Ornaments, jazz and rock group led by the legendary Pete Brown, poet, Cream lyricist and future host Piblokto, interesting English progressive rock band in the early 70s.  when Brown left the Battered Ornaments, they enter in a phase of decay, and one that we sense as savior Chris Spedding. Guitarist gifted jazzman who is also coach at Nucleus, Spedding can only note that the Battered Ornaments do not want to continue the adventure or even enjoy free recording hours available to them at the famous Abbey Road Studios in London.

As the group is still bound to a contract Harvest label, Chris Spedding is alone on board with Abbey Road sessions to the eye and an obligation to put out a record as soon as possible. It is these circumstances that give rise to the first solo album by Spedding, "Backwood progression." But the good Chris is primarily a musician accompanying a shark studio that will also be found a part of his career on this lucrative business. As he has never written a single song before the album he jumped into the water and made a dozen titles for the occasion.

Solo artist and composer default, Chris Spedding is going to deliver a decent album but completely outside the trade routes of the time it released. Neither hard nor soft, neither experimental nor commercial, nor adventurous nor nerdy, neither aggressive nor soft nor provocative preservatives or rock or jazz or prog or psych, or anything or everything, in short, completely neutral, "Backwood progress" door its name: One step forward, one step back but in the end, something that can defy time with an album to consistent quality, without exaggeration or weakness, balanced on allowing federate various tastes .

Without knowing it, without want it, Chris Spedding commits good album par excellence, one that will produce no tub, the one the rock critics fail to catch, as it is without bumps. Chris Spedding shows "Please Mrs. Henry" Bob Dylan, in a friendly version. And the most remarkable is when he refers to the condition of a session musician, with a "Session Man" which allows him to copy several styles of guitar (Jimmy Nolen Ritchie Havens), something that he happily emerge in 1976 on his song "Guitar jamboree" where he likes to copy lots of famous musicians. For it may be that, Chris Spedding: a great imitator, a guitarist who can do many things, and can truly forge his own style.
by François Becquart

1. For What We Are About To Hear - 2:29
2. Backwood Progression - 3:44
3. Words Don't Come - 1:47
4. The Hill - 3:28
5. You Can See - 5:19
6. Session Man - 1:28
7. Please Mrs. Henry (Bob Dylan) - 2:19
8. The Soldiers And The Goodtime Girls - 3:58
9. Ought To Be A Law - 2:30
10.She's My Friend - 3:10
11.Should The Occasion Arise (Roger Potter) - 2:15
12.Never Carry More Than You Can Eat - 2:26
13.Backwood Theme - 2:05
All songs by Chris Spedding except where stated

*Chris Spedding - Vocals,  Guitars
*Roy Babbington  - Bass
*Laurie Allan - Drums
*Paul Abrahams - Organ
*Royston Mitchell – Piano, Harmonium,  Backing Vocals
*Frank Ricotti - Conga

1972  Chris Spedding - The Only Lick I Know
1977  Chris Spedding - Hurt
1975-77  Chris Spedding - Chris Spedding (2013 Audiophile edition)

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Fynn McCool - Fynn McCool (1970 Rhodesia / uk, magnificent prog classic rock, 2014 edition)

The story of the Shake Spears is one of the most absorbing within the annals of 1960’s rock and roll. Despite enduring numerous line-up changes involving key members throughout their history, the band persevered, successfully bridging different eras – the mid 60’s British Invasion, psychedelia and late 60’s hard rock. This is an impressive achievement, as trends in music did not last long in this most volatile decade. The Shake Spears also stand among the very few notable bands of the era to originate from the African continent. Their history began with two young bands in the early sixties in Rhodesia, the Dynamics and the Phantoms.

Unfortunately, Shakespeare’s Spanish adventure was over when their sponsor suffered a heart attack and the group was forced to return to England as they were left with no money coming in.

This line-up of Shakespeare didn’t last long after their return. Disillusioned by their failed tour to Spain and with no hope of going to the US, the band envisioned no bright future and decided to split up.

Martin and Georgie left, but Alan (now the senior member of the group), Chris, and Mick had new plans. It just happened that at the same time the English psychedelic-pop / blues-rock band Grapefruit had also disbanded, so they could enlist Grapefruit’s keyboard player Mick Fowler for their new project. They teamed up as an entirely new band, for which they chose the name Fynn McCool (after Finn McCool, originally Fionn mac Cumhaill in Gaelic, a figure in Irish mythology).

The group signed to RCA, which had not only been the Shake Spear’s last record label, but also that of Grapefruit (who were signed to the RCA Dunhill label in the USA), so the company was familiar with both bands and knew about their popularity in Europe, so that it was easier to promote them. Fynn McCool toured through the countries that had been the creative home of the Shake Spears before: the Benelux states, Germany, and especially France.

The 1960’s came to an end, and the new decade looked promising for the group. Soon they started recording at Olympic Studios, and their style would be far different from the Shake Spears. Fynn McCool now was into heavier, progressive tunes – no more pop for Belgian kids. Their first record, “U.S. Thumbstyle” / “Diamond Lil'” (RCA 1956; A-side by Chris Stone, B-side by Mick Fowler) was released in May 1970 and the group’s album was still being completed, when RCA suddenly decided to release it prematurely in August 1970 – the tracks were not fully worked out and the model that was being built for the cover art wasn’t finished either.

Fynn McCool turned out to be a fluctuating group, as by the time the album (recorded with the initial line up) came out, the line up had already been changed, as two more ex-Grapefruit members, Bob Wale (replacing Chris Stone on guitar) and Geoff Swettenham (brother of Pete Swettenham; replacing Mick Carter on drums) were recruited in July. Bob Wale had joined Grapefruit in spring 1969, and had been a key figure in the group’s immediate change of style from sweet baroque pop to heavier tunes. Vik Tedeschi, a Swiss-German Jazz musician, joined on saxophone, oboe and flute, but for just a couple of months. Fynn McCool broke up in February 1972.

1. U.S. Thumbstyle (Chris Stone) - 2:55
2. Hopeless Prescription (Chris Stone) - 4:09
3. Hey Ho (Mick Fowler) - 2:53
4. Diamond Lil (Mick Fowler) - 4:03
5. Great Change Coming On (Alan Escombe, Chris Stone, Mick Fowler) - 3:18
6. The Road To Wisdom (Mick Fowler) - 4:06
7. The Only Way To Feel (Chris Stone) - 3:25
8. Faith Of Clay (Chris Stone, Mick Fowler) - 3:59
9. Coming On Stronger (Mick Fowler) - 3:47
10.Shattered (Part 1) (Alan Escombe, Chris Stone) - 3:18
11.Shattered (Part 2) (Alan Escombe, Chris Stone, Mick Fowler) - 4:51

Fynn McCool
*Chris Stone - Guitar, Vocals
*Alan Escombe Wolhuter - Bass, Vocals
*Mick Carter - Drums
*Mick Fowler - Guitar, Piano, Lead Vocals

Related Act
1969  Grapefruit - Deep Water

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Tommy Peltier Feat. Judee Sill - Chariot Of Astral Light (1969-74 us, ouststanding folk psych rock)

Tommy Peltier started out as a trumpet player. Born and raised in New Orleans, he moved with his family to California at the age of 13. He formed a Dixieland band, and then was drafted into the U.S. Navy and spent two years working with their ensembles. After his stint expired, he settled back in Southern California and set to work with the Jazz Corps, a group who played mostly local gigs and ended up cutting a few sides with a young Roland Kirk. Judee Sill wound up circling in this orbit as well, and the two became occasional collaborators, sometime lovers, and lifelong friends.

But in 1970, an injury prevented Peltier from playing trumpet and thus excised him from the jazz world. Not one to be undone, he took a few chords that he had learned from friends like Sill and set out as a singer-songwriter. None of that music saw the light of day until now, collected together as Chariot of Astral Light.

The Sill connection is the key here. The two worked together on a lot of Peltier's material, and Judee pops up on half of the disc's 12 tracks, handling backing vocals, guitar and organ lines. She's an obvious influence on these songs, but her starry, oblique introspection and deep-seeded religious fascination didn't carry over so much into Peltier's tunes. These tracks tend to be relentlessly optimistic and upbeat, although they do bear a striking resemblance to the work of both Tom Rapp and Neil Young in parts (mainly in Peltier's high-pitched vocal delivery).

It's unclear what Peltier planned to do with a lot of these songs. He had a house in Echo Park where he held weekly Saturday recording sessions in his front room that a number of peripheral scenesters would attend (Lynn Blessing, Wolgang Melz, and Dave Purlato - all of whom appear here). Aside from the few takes done at actual studios, the bulk of the stuff on display here was recorded in that tiny room.

This record is somewhat curious, then, released in anticipation of Water's forthcoming reissues of Sill's two Asylum LPs from the early 1970s and hot on the heels of her now recovered and somewhat completed third album. If that connection is what it takes to get this music out there, then so be it. Peltier probably won't be remembered in any great lineage for his efforts, but as evidenced here he wrote some pretty nice tunes,  a good picture of what could have been, or at the very least an in-depth portrait of what he describes as a difficult period in his life.

Sill is absent from the first half of the disc, but even without her Peltier is in fine form. He checks in with six originals that range from the bristling stomp-cum-country-psychedelia of "Time After Time" to the sly boogie of "Red Rider." When Sill steps in for the remainder of the album, her efforts mesh well and become another piece of the support system. Her unmistakable vocals and lazy farfisa lines color the title track, but the drawing is all Peltier. Better still is "Here Today," Tommy's first attempt at vocals, played with only Judee backing him up. With only acoustic guitar and two voices, you can hear Peltier finding his range and his voice with increasing confidence as the song spins.

Chariot of Astral Light – another one of those "what could have been" records that seem to pop up with more and more frequency these days (see also: Gary Higgins, Simon Finn, etc.). It works well as a spotlight on a few songs that never had their moment to shine, but also as a testament to the power and impact Judee Sill had during her brief life.
by Michael Crumsho

1. 10,000 Greyhounds 4:14
2. Time After Time (Sammy Cahn, Julie Styne) - 6:29
3. Oneness - 3:29
4. Butterflies 2:16
5. Red Rider 3:32
6. Beautied Out 4:34
7. Pocket Socket 3:26
8. Chariot Of Astral Light 3:24
9. Here Today 2:57
10.Oneness - 4:47
11.Smile All The While 4:02
12.My Friend 3:22
All songs composed by Tommy Peltier except where indicated.

*Judee Sill - Farfisa Organ, Guitar, Organ, Vocals
*Tommy Peltier - Farfisa Organ, Guitars, Vocals
*Dave Parlato - Bass
*Wolfgang Melz - Bass
*Art Johnson - Guitar
*Lynn Blessing - Farfisa Organ
*David Bearden - Harp
*Barry McManus - Drums
*Judy Hemmel - English Horn
*Bobby Toris - Congas
*Bob Harris - Keyboards
*Kathryn Reynolds - Vocals
*Mope Dido - Congas

1971  Judee Sill (2013 Japan remaster)

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Friday, September 19, 2014

The Butterfield Blues Band - Live Vol.2 (1970 us, great blues rock)

A smoking live set from the Butterfield Blues Band – and like all the group's work, as much of a jazz and soul album as a blues one! Butterfield drew his inspiration from the Chicago bluesmen, it's true – but his style also has plenty of echoes of New Orleans soul, Memphis R&B, and other strands of American work – in a mode that's quite similar to some of the changes that were going on in the British beat group scene at the end of the 60s. 

The lineup here features some really nice touches on sax from Trevor Lawrence and Gene Dinwiddie – and the live setting only seems to loosen all the players up even more than usual, and let them hit a few nice funky moments. 

1. Gene's Tune (Gene Dinwiddie) - 12:29
2. Nobody's Fault But Mine (Otis Redding) - 6:58
3. Losing Hand (Charles Calhoun) - 14:28
4. All In A Day (Hod Hicks) - 8:11
5. Feel So Bad (Chuck Willis) - 4:43
6. Except You (Jerry Ragavoy) - 4:51
7. You've Got To Love Her With A Feeling (Freddie King, Sonny Thompson) - 5:23
8. Love March (Gene Dinwiddie, Philip Wilson) - 12:25    

The Butterfield Blues Band
*Paul Butterfield - Harmonica, Vocals
*George Davidson - Drums
*Gene Dinwiddie - Soprano, Tenor Sax, Vocals, Lead Vocal On Track 8
*Ted Harris - Keyboards
*Rod Hicks - Fretless Bass, Vocals
*Trevor Lawrence - Baritone Sax, Vocals
*Steve Madaio - Trumpet, Vocals
*Ralph Walsh - Guitar                          

Paul Butterfield's mosaic
1964  The Original Lost Elektra Sessions
1965  The Paul Butterfield Blues Band
1966  East West
1966  East-West  (2014 Audio Fidelity Hybrid SACD) 
1966-68  Strawberry Jam
1967  The Resurrection Of The Pigboy Crabshaw
1968  In My Own Dream
1969  Keep On Moving
1970  Live 
1971  Sometimes I Just Feel Like Smilin'
1973  Paul Butterfield's Better Days
1973  It All Comes Back (Japan Edition)
1976  Put It In Your Ear

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Youngbloods - Rock Festival (1970 us, exceptional blend of psych folk blues jazz rock)

Working the early ‘60s folk circuit, Jessie Colin Young would play sets with Jerry Corbitt whenever he was in Corbitt’s homebase of Cambridge, MA. Liking how their voices sounded together, they began touring as a duo, taking the name “The Youngbloods” from a title of Young’s second solo LP, Youngblood. Corbitt introduced Young to multi-instrumentalist Lowell “Banana” Levinger who joined the duo. Levinger, in turn, recruited drummer Joe Bauer for the band and the Youngbloods full line-up was complete. Their combination of folk, rock and jug band elements drew comparisons to the Lovin’ Spoonful and indeed, the two bands played many of the same venues.

After establishing a successful residency at Café Au Go Go in NYC, the band was signed to RCA and recorded their self-titled debut LP, released in 1967. The album contained a mid-charting single, “Grizzly Bear,” as well as what would become their signature song, “Get Together.” Written by Dino Valente under the pen name Chet Powers, the song made it up to #62 before stalling on the charts. The album also contained well-chosen blues covers as well as original songs written by Young.

Two years after its release, “Get Together” was used in a public service campaign, sparking renewed interest. This interest translated into airplay and this time, the song climbed all the way to #2. During this period, Corbitt left the band to pursue a solo career and the remaining members carried on as a trio. Relocating to Marin County, California, the band cultivated a loyal following through their dynamic live shows, featuring inspired instrumental interplay. They carried on until 1972, leaving a rich catalog in their wake. 

Rock Festival documents the group's work around and about the San Francisco Bay area in the spring and summer of 1970, recorded in various places such as the Family Dog Great Highway San Francisco March 29 1970, Provo park Berkeley May 19th 1970, University of Santa Clara  April 18 1970, Euphoria San Rafael July 19 1970, Pacific High San Francisco July 21  1970, Barn Marshall April 16 1970.  The album peaked at #80 on Billboard 200.

1. It's A Lovely Day (Jesse Colin Young) - 2:37
2. Faster All The TIme (Lowell Levinger) - 4:49
3. Prelude (Joe Bauer, Lowell Levinger, Jesse Colin Young) - 1:01
4. On Beautiful Lake Spenard (Lowell Levinger) - 4:52
5. Josiane (Jesse Colin Young) - 6:34
6. Sea Cow Boogie (Joe Bauer, Lowell Levinger, Jesse Colin Young) - 0:25
7. Fiddler A Dram (Traditional arr. by Lowell Levinger) - 5:13
8. Misty Roses (Tim Hardin) - 4:13
9. Interlude (Lowell Levinger) - 2:14
10.Peepin' 'N' Hidin' (Baby, What You Want Me To Do) (Jimmy Reed) - 5:03
11.Ice Bag (Joe Bauer, Lowell Levinger, Jesse Colin Young) - 2:18

The Youngbloods
*Joe Bauer - Drums
*Jesse Colin Young - Bass, Guitar, Vocals
*Lowell Levinger "Banana" - Vocals, Keyboards, Guitar
*Rick Anderson - Harmonica

1967/69  The Youngbloods / Earth Music / Elephant Mountain (2014 japan blu spec issues)
1969  Elephant Mountain (Sundazed expanded and 2014 japan blu spec issue)
1971  Beautiful! Live In San Francisco (Sundazed edition)
1972  High On A Ridge Top (Sundazed remaster)

Jesse Colin Young releases
1972  Together
1973  Song For Juli (2009 remaster)
1974  Light Shine
1976  On The Road (Japan remaster)

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Dr Feelgood - Be Seeing You (1977 uk, dynamite hard boogie pub rock, 2014 SHM remaster)

Wilko Johnson had left in early 1977 and in April that year the Canvey Island band introduced their new line-up by way of a secret warm up show in their hometown. By summer ’77 they were making the first record with Gypie, the Nick Lowe produced Be Seeing You. Although Mayo was still working his way into the band's sound, Dr. Feelgood retained their tough, hard-rocking appeal.

Three further studio albums would be recorded with Mayo, including Private Practice which contained the UK top ten single Milk And Alcohol.

After what he describes as a ‘four year binge party’ Gypie Mayo quit the band and the end of 1980 (although he would stay on for a further six months), in part, to spend more time with his family.
by Paul Sinclair

1. Ninety-Nine And A Half (Won't Do) (Steve Cropper, Eddie Floyd, Wilson Pickett) - 3:08
2. She's A Wind Up (Lee Brilleaux, John Martin, John Mayo, John B. Sparks) - 2:00
3. I Thought I Had It Made (Lee Brilleaux, John Mayo) - 2:16
4. I Don't Want To Know (Lee Brilleaux, John Mayo) - 2:42
5. That's It, I Quit (Nick Lowe) - 2:34
6. As Long As The Price Is Right (Larry Wallis) - 3:09
7. Hi-Rise (John Mayo) - 2:37
8. My Buddy Buddy Friends (Aaron Corthon) - 2:45
9. Baby Jane (Bishop, Nesbitt, Reed, Simmons, Wilson) - 2:58
10.The Blues Had A Baby, And They Named It Rock 'n' Roll (Brownie Mcghee, Morganfield) - 2:20
11.Looking Back (Johnny Guitar Watson) - 2:00
12.60 Minutes Of Your Love (Isaac Hayes, David Porter) - 2:24  
13.Long As The Price Is Right (Second Version) (Larry Wallis) - 3:20
14.You'll Be Mine (Willie Dixon) - 2:54
15.My Buddy Buddy Friends (Aaron Contion) - 2:49
16.Looking Back (Johnny Watson) - 2:29
17.Homework (Perkins , Clark) - 2:23
18.You Upset Me Baby (King, Josea, Davis) - 4:23
19.Hey Mama, Keep Your Big Mouth Shut (Ellis McDaniels) - 3:50

Dr Feelgood
*Lee Brilleaux - Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica
*John B. Sparks - Bass Guitar, Vocals
*Gypie Mayo - Guitar
*The Big Figure (John Martin) - Drums, Vocals

1974  Down By The Jetty (2014 Japan SHM edition)
1976  Dr Feelgood - Stupidity (2014 Japan SHM edition)
1975  Malpractice  (2014 Japan SHM edition)

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Beast - Beast (1970 us, terrific heavy psych prog jazz rock, 2013 Flawed Gems issue)

The second LP has a more mature, more rock and charmingly transparent sound - sometimes very close to the progressive aesthetic (flute,organ).

Formed in Denver,Colorado,Beast featured the talents of drummer Larry Ferris,keyboardist Gerry Fike,woodwind player Mike Kearnes,bassist Kenny Passarelli. singer David Raines,trumpet player Dominick Todero and former Super Band guitarist Robert Yeazel. 

Following the loss of horn player Todero and bassist Passarelli (replaced by Roger Byrant),in 1970's cleverly-titled "Beast" was released on the Evolution label. Continuing their partnership with producer Norman Petty the album was again recorded at Petty's Clovis, New Mexico studios. Musically the collection wasn't too different from the debut. Anyone familiar with Lighthouse or Sugarloaf styled horn rock will be pretty comfortable with most of the material. 

Slightly more varied than the debut, the flute propelled "Communication" and "Don't You Think It's Time?" reflected a quasi-jazzy feel, while the harmony rich "Inlook" sounded like an Association-styled slice of pop and "Move Mountain (You Got It)" found the band taking a stab at conventional hard rock. The overall effect was professional,if a little short on originality and inspiration ... Packaged in one of the year's uglier covers (credit to Charles E. Murphy),the set vanished without a trace,followed in short order by the band.
by Adamus67 

1. Inlook (Robert Yeazel) - 4:22
2. Communication (Robert Yeazel, Ron Morgan, Jimmy Greenspoon) - 6:08
3. The Man Outside (Robert Bryant, Robert Yeazel) - 1:26
4. Migration (MIke Kearnes) - 1:58
5. Whistle (Robert Yeazel) - 0:56
6. I Am (Robert Yeazel, David Raines, Gerry Fike) - 2:11
7. Don't You Think It's Time? (Robert Yeazel, David Raines, Robert Bryant) - 3:32
8. Move Mountain (You Got It) (Robert Yeazel, David Raines, Robert Bryant) - 4:38
9. It's So Hard (Gerry Fike) - 3:17
10.Legal Machines (David Raines) - 2:52

The Beast
Bob Yeazel- Guitar, Vocals
David Raines- Vocals
Michael Kerns- Flutes
Gerry Fike- Keyboards
Roger Bryant- Bass
Larry Ferris- Drums

Related Acts
1972-73  Diamondhead - Diamondhead

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Friday, September 12, 2014

Marcus - Marcus Original LP And Outtakes (1967-70 us, delicate ethereal wondrous psychedelic folk, 2011 double disc set)

It's July 1969, and I'm sitting at Brother Juniper's, a cafe on Haight Street. I knew it was run by a New Age cult called The Holy Order of Man' and I also knew this bright eyed chick, Dianne, who was serving food there, was part of the group.

You could have had me believing that black was white when I looked into her deep brown eyes and beheld her breasts protruding beneath her brown Brother Juniper robe. I knew she liked me by the way she packed the tuna salad onto that rye bread sandwich she made for me.

That'll be both my lunch and dinner meals. I took my cherry burst Gibson acoustic guitar (with a custom L-40 neck) from my gig bag, and tuned it. I wanted to get it perfect or as near you could get without tuning gadgets that would become so ubiquitous several decades later. I had created some chords that my friend Daniel McCurdy had inspired. 

They were multiples of suspensions that would immediately bring your head into a lofty and elated space. Daniel had said if these progressions were electrified they would knock people over, they were so powerful. I never tried playing them electric. I was so impressed with my friend's sound, as it seemed so different. I thought he must be from some other galaxy or something. In the past, I usually played simple triad chords on my guitar until I met him. Now I was inventing far out chords left and right with new ethereal tunes I write.

I flashed back to a month ago when a couple of friends invited me and guitarist Charlie Cocky to their house. Charlie liked my new songs and would play a very sensitive acoustic lead part on his axe while I sang and played my ethereal chords. Suddenly, a guy who was standing next to me flopped down and bonked his head hard when he hit the floor. He either fainted, or got knocked out by our sound. I said, "Charlie, we must have been so perfectly in tune it knocked him out." Charlie responded, "I think we were just the right microtone off to have that effect."

I don't want any episodes like that happening here at Brother Juniper's, so I played a simpler song, an ode to buxom Dianne, 'Lady of Light.' It never made it to the album, nor did my ode to 'Hallie' and my New York lover's song, 'Monday Marye Morning.' I enjoy making a sound with my voice and guitar that I imagine could make people feel peace, love and joy, and often it does.

As the people gathered around the table where I'm sitting I could see on their faces the pleasure I'm bringing them as I sing about the beauty of nature as in the 'Color Song.' I feel the spirit of a new age in the air. I enjoy the slow vibrato I create with my voice, not unlike Donovan or Tim Harden. I delight in those influences along my journey. 

The vibe has been uplifted at Brother Juniper's so now I get up, walk outside and embrace the warm sun pouring down upon the colorfully clad folks on Haight Street...
by Marcus (June 2009)

After the release of the Freak Scene album, psychedelic guru Rusty Evans made his way from NYC to San Francisco, a geographic shift that resulted in work for the legendary San Francisco Sound label, producing bands such as It’s A Beautiful Day, Tripsichord, and Indian Puddin’ and Pipe; it also led to a drastic shift in style from the psychedelic “happening” of the Deep album for Cameo Parkway and the raga rock of the Freak Scene album for Columbia. And so it came to pass that Evans reclaimed his birth name of Marcus, and recorded a very mellow LP in 1969 for Kinetic Records, a label formed by the Kinetic Playground Ballroom in Chicago. Like much of Marcus’ work, the album is a fascinating relic of a particular time and place, in this instance San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district in the post-Summer of Love era.

The Marcus LP is richly orchestrated psychedelic-folk music, with a pronounced Donovan and/or Tim Harden flavor to it, something that did not escape its creator. The mood is dreamy, the songs reflective, the voice vibrato, the album a yin to the yang of the Freak Scene “Psychedelic Psoul” album which precedes it by two years. So we have the hot and aggressive Freak Scene album contrasted—some might say perfectly balanced—by the diffuse and tranquil Marcus album two years later. To our mind, further proof of the excellence of the artistic mind behind both albums. 

This is the first actual re-issue of the vastly under-rated Marcus album since 1969; the only previous CD edition used alternate takes and not the album versions. Our fulsome edition indulges any completionist fantasies we might harbor, as it also serves up thirty-two bonus tracks, nearly two hours of alternate takes and acoustic demos (plus a few non-album tracks). There are guitar/voice demos recorded several months before Kinetic came along and offered a deal; other home demos have Marcus with acoustic guitar, bass and cello. There are guitar/voice demos were recorded six to eight months before Kinetic came along and offered a deal; other home demos have Marcus with acoustic guitar, bass and cello. 

There are also abundant demo studio versions, some of tremendous quality. The end result is (apparently) our first “interactive” release, as you can create your own ideal version of the Marcus album. Budget-priced double disc package includes a 20-page booklet, with an introduction by Marcus, his incredible history in music, and lyrics. Printed on FSC recycled, chlorine-free, 100% post-consumer fiber paper manufactured using biogas energy.

Disc 1
Marcus LP 1970
1. (We’ll All) Go Together - 3:30
2. Time Of Our Time - 2:43
3. Helene - 3:54
4. Grains Of Sand - 4:01
5. High Priestess - 3:45
6. The Coming - 3:22
7. Royal Maze - 3:03
8. Butterfly Girl - 3:22
9. Color Song - 3:29
10.Children Of Aquarius - 3:03
Acoustic Demos 
11.Go Together - 2:47
12.Time Of Our Time - 2:23
13.High Priestess - 3:00
14.Royal Maze - 2:36
15.Children Of Aquarius - 3:18
Alternates With Band 
16.The Coming - 3:05
17.Butterfly Girl - 3:33
18.Color Song - 3:38
19.Helene - 3:54
20.Grains Of Sand - 3:50
Words and Music by Marcus Uzilevsky

Disc 2
Alternates 1967
1. Go Together - 3:50
2. Time Of Our Time - 2:41
3. Helene - 3:45.
4. Grains Of Sand - 3:58
5. High Priestess - 2:54
6. Earth Child - 2:55
7. The Coming - 3:00
8. Royal Maze - 3:05
9. White Cloud - 2:17
10.Butterfly Girl - 3:20
11.Color Song - 3:26
12.Children Of Aquarius - 3:01
13.Go Together - 2:37
14.Time Of Our Time - 2:41
15.Grains Of Sand - 4:02
16.Butterfly Girl - 3:15
17.Color Song - 3:39
18.White Cloud - 2:16.
19.Royal Maze - 2:27
20.Color Song - 3:28
21.Butterfly Girl - 3:20
22.Children Of Aquarius - 3:07
Words and Music by Marcus Uzilevsky

*Marcus Uzilevsky - Vocals, Arrangements

Related Acts
1966  The Deep - Psychedelic Moods

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Hot Knives - Hot Knives (1976 us, spectacular rough folk garage psych rock, 2011 release)

Hot Knives was a band with an impressive pedigree and plenty of talent which unfortunately was in the right place at the wrong time -- playing enthusiastic and tuneful power pop and folk-rock with a faint psychedelic undertow, the group should have been right at home on the San Francisco music scene, but in the mid-'70s, they were too late for the Ballroom scene, stuck out like a sore thumb in the age of stadium rock, and were a poor fit for the harder sounds of new wave and punk that were lurking on the horizon. 

Hot Knives was formed by the brother-and-sister team of Michael Houpt (lead vocals and guitar) and Debra Houpt (lead vocals), who began singing together as teenagers growing up in Pennsylvania, playing folk tunes in the style of Peter, Paul and Mary. By 1969, Michael had relocated to Northern California, and he began working with a political improvisational theater troupe in San Francisco; the Flamin' Groovies sometimes rehearsed at the company's performance space, and Michael struck up a friendship with bandmembers Tim Lynch (lead guitar) and Danny Mihm (drums). By 1972, Debra had moved to San Francisco, while Lynch and Mihm were looking for a new project after the Flamin' Groovies' original lineup fell apart. 

With bassist Ed Wilson joining Michael, Debra, Tim, and Danny, Hot Knives was born, with the group taking their name from Michael's favored method of smoking hashish. Hot Knives gigged regularly in the Bay area and the group slowly built a following for their engaging melodies, Michael and Tim's guitar interplay and the soaring vocal harmonies of the Houpts. However, they were far enough from the mainstream that record companies weren't interested, and in 1976 Hot Knives took matters into their own hands, self-releasing a single, "Lovin' You" backed with "Around the World," which was produced by Cyril Jordan of the Groovies. Another 7" followed later the same year, "I Hear the Wind Blow" b/w a cover of Moby Grape's "Hey Grandma." 

The singles earned some enthusiastic press (Greg Shaw in Bomp! called them "the best thing happening in San Francisco these days") but didn't lead to a record deal, and while the group had a wealthy and enthusiastic patron in Casper Weinberger, Jr. (whose father was Secretary of Defense under Ronald Reagan), it wasn't enough to keep the lineup intact after Tim Lynch left the band. While Hot Knives continued for a while with guitarist Bob Kinney, they quietly called it quits by the end of the decade. In 2011, the Australian label Grown Up Wrong released a Hot Knives collection that featured both sides of their two singles, along with ten unreleased tracks. 
by Mark Deming

This is a gem. For the last 30 years it occupied lead singer Mike Houpt’s dusty cupboard, forgotten and neglected before being tracked down by Australia’s Grown Up Wrong! Records.

Fronted by Mike and Deborah Houpt, The Hot Knives’ self titled album will take you back to a more innocent time in ’76 with a blistering concoction of 60’s San Fransisco folk rock and muscular rock’n’roll topped with sweet, sweet harmonies between Mike and Deborah. Think Fleetwood Mac’s rockin’ alternative.

The album features 11 rockin’ originals, mostly from the mind of main man Mike Houpt, who had released two Hot Knives 7” singles, back in the day himself through his own K.O records label. The album also features three thumping covers, The Knickerbockers’ Beatles sound- alike "Lies", Moby Grape’s "Hey Grandma" and a big beat version of the frequently covered "Silver Threads and Golden Needles".

What really catches me about this album is the timing of its release with the 70’s music becoming a much more sought after sound (think Tame Impala and Stonefield), it will be interesting to see how the album is perceived in the public eye. It is a really upbeat, rockin’ album with some of the most blistering guitar solos I have heard to date.

The best reference to their sound I can give you is Fleetwood Mac, mostly because of the common era of both outfits. Also the distinct warm harmonies and gorgeous, flaming guitar. The difference between the both is that The Hot Knives is definitely more upbeat and rockin’ with more solos and more of a rock’n’roll influence.

Definitely worth a listen. Harmonies, harmonies, harmonies! 
by Nick Leighton

1. Around The World (Michael Houpt) - 2:50
2. Sooner Or Later (Michael Houpt) - 3:38
3. I Hear The Wind Blow (Michael Houpt) - 3:57
4. Take Me Back (Debby Houpt) - 2:50
5. Secrets About Me (Michael Houpt) - 5:02
6. Hey Grandma (Jerry A. Mlller.Jr., Donald J. Stevenson) - 2:49
7. You Can Get Anything You Want (Michael Houpt) - 3:23
8. Lies (Buddy Randell, Beau Charles) - 2:42
9. Lovin’ You (Michael Houpt) - 3:31
10.Silver Threads And Golden Needles (Jack Rhodes, Dick Reynolds) - 2:35
11.Winter's Come (Michael Houpt) - 2:39
12.So Fast (Ed Wilson) - 2:49
13.Fool For Love (Ed Wilson) - 2:43
14.Turning Into (Michael Houpt) - 3:25

Hot Knives
*Debra Houpt - Vocals
*Michael Houpt - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
*Bobby Kinney - Lead Guitar, Vocals (Tracks 2, 4, 11, 12)
*Tim Lynch - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Danny Mihm - Drums
*Ed Wilson - Bass, Vocals

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Sunday, September 7, 2014

Cosmic Travelers - Live! At the Spring Crater Celebration Diamond Head, Oahu, Hawaii (1972 us, superb jam psych rock, 2013 remaster)

"We are travelers on a cosmic journey, Stardust, swirling and dancing in the eddies and whirlpools of infinity. Life is eternal We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other, to meet, to love, to share. This is a precious moment. It is a little parenthesis in eternity." Paulo Coetho, The Alchemist The Cosmic Travelers is a rare, original live album with 1,000 copies released on the Volcano label. This live jam was recorded at the Spring Crater Celebration in the Diamond Head Volcano in Oahu, Hawaii on April 1, 1972. The event was organized by businessmen and friends Tom Moffat, Ken Rosene and Herb Brentlinger.

The artists were a Los Angeles based combo of psychedelic blues studio musicians; Jimmy McGhee, Dale "Mule" Loyola, Joel Christie and Drake Levin. Jimmy had backed up Gene Redding and Etta James. Dale had recorded with the band Hook, and Joel and Drake had recorded with Lee Michaels. Prior to this. Drake had been the lead guitarist for Paul Revere and the Raiders, from their early dance hall days in the Pacific Northwest, to their national success with Dick Clark's Where The Action Is, and he had played on most of their biggest hit records. After leaving the Raiders, Drake had also been a member of the group The Brotherhood, which featured two of his Raider band mates, Phillip Volk and Michael "Smitty" Smith.

This festival in Hawaii was the first time that these four musicians had played together as a group, and they took the main stage and were recorded for this album after only two days of rehearsals. The rocking, hard driven guitar riffs from Jimmy and Drake were mesmerizing, and the vocals from Joel, Jimmy and Dale were a near-perfect harmony. The Cosmic Travelers was a good description of these four souls. They were musicians traveling to the Sunshine Festival, and the name seemed quite fitting since they were all indeed spiritual men.

The live Crater Festival album was recorded the same year that Drake and I met. It was later that year, the day before Thanksgiving, and when I met him he had this album in his hand. Both of our lives were forever changed and forever tied together from that point on. The next few months after we met were holidays spent traveling to Miami and Hermosa Beach. Drake and I went on to make beautiful music together as husband and wife until he passed away on the Fourth of July in 2009.

If you knew Drake, then you know that he was always a  leader, the idea maker and vision seeker, the music man. Drake was born in Chicago and moved to Idaho with his family when he was young. Although his years in Chicago were few, rhythm and blues seemed to be as much a part of him as others who spent their whole lives making music in that city. Drake joined the Raiders at 16 years old, and by the time that he had barely turned 18, he had already recorded a live set of music with the group, featuring covers of many R’n’B standards, and some original music. His talent was obvious in his guitar solos and steady rhythm. In later years, besides playing with Lee Michaels. Drake also played with Emmit Rhodes and Ananda Shankar, and produced other artists as well.

As Drake and I got to know each other, I got to know his friends in the Cosmic Travelers also. Drake had described Jimmy McGhee as a soul brother from Los Angeles. He and Jimmy had toured in Canada and the mid-west with Gene Redding and Etta James. Jimmy moved in with us while the guys prepared to go back to Hawaii and cut another album. He lived with us in Los Angeles for the next couple of years. Something that was so impressive to me was that he played his guitar all the time! He seemed to live and breathe music; if he was awake he was playing. He was so incredibly jazzy and funky! No matter who came to the house, Jimmy would have them playing some instrument or singing.

The fabulous and solid Peruvian drummer, Dale Loyola, had just come off the road with Lee Michaels. Dale also moved in with us, and along with Drake and Jimmy formed the new group. The Travelers. They toured the west coast from Santa Barbara to San Diego for the next 5 years. The soulful and amazingly talented lead singer and bass player, Joel Christie, had his own group happening in Los Angeles. Joel was writing very heavily back then. He sang lead in the musical Jesus Christ Superstar, and wrote spiritual and new age beginnings material. Eventually Joel came to live with us as well, after the other guys had moved out, and he played gigs with Drake in Tahoe with Curtis Lawson and Billy Dunn.

This gig in Hawaii brought these gentlemen together as musicians and life long friends, and as you listen to this album, you are listening to some of their best work. This was but a brief moment in eternity, but a very rare and special moment!
by Sandra Levin, San Francisco, California October, 2012

1. Farther Up The Road (Joe Veasey. Don Robey) - 9:16
2. Move Your Hands (Lonnie Smith) - 10:24
3. Jungle Juice (Granville McGhee) - 6:46
4. Look at You Look At Me (Dave Mason, Jim Capaldi) - 3:52,
5. Soul (Jimmy McGhee, Gene Redding) - 7:00
6. Soul Reprise (Jimmy McGhee, Drake Levin, Joel Christie, Dale Loyola) - 2:13

The Cosmic Travelers
*Drake Levin - Guitar
*Jimmy McGhee - Guitar, Vocals
*Joel Christie - Bass, Vocals
*Dale Loyola - Drums, Vocals

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Friday, September 5, 2014

Central Nervous System - I Could Have Danced All Night (1968 canada, exceptional funky r 'n' b' jazzy psych rock, 2008 remaster issue)

Band was originally known as "Five Sounds" and included keyboardist Joe Sealy. They released two singles in 1965 and 1966 on Epic which charted on Halifax radio station CHNS. In 1968 the "Five Sounds" were the house band on CBC television's "Where It's At" (the local segment of the national series) which was hosted by Frank Cameron and produced in Halifax.

In 1968 the band went to New York to record "I Could Have Danced All Night" album and changed name to "Central Nervous System" at the suggestion of Mark Joseph who worked at the Record Plant where the album was recorded. Album consisted of Billard and Jollimore penned originals and cover of Lonnie Mack's "Why" which was not listed on the album cover. Album was produced by Tom Wilson (Zappa, Dylan) and Eddie Kramer (Hendrix, Stones) was one of the engineers.

Band split up in 1969 just before the album had a chance to try itself in the marketplace and dates were lined up to tour in the United States. Billard and White both went on to play in "Pepper Tree" at different times. Oakley switched to lead guitar and was a founding member of "Soma". Jollimore and Cassidy both went to Lighthouse.
by Ritchie Oakley, Jim Rice and Richard Bonner

1. Comin' To Get Ya - 2:15
2. Undecided - 3:00
3. She's Everything Good To Me - 2:22
4. I'm My Own Keeper - 2:44
5. Sweet Hot Lucy - 2:20
6. Silence In My Room - 2:27
7. Why (Lonnie Mack) - 4:18
8. It's So Hard - 2:31
9. Welcome Back Girl - 2:52
10.A Heart That's Cold - 2:28
11.Mystery Lady - 2:56
All songs by Doug Billard, Keith Jollimore except where stated

Central Nervous System
*Keith Jollimore - Saxophone
*Bruce Cassidy - Trumpet
*Ritchie Oakley - Bass
*Jim White - Guitar
*Jack S. Lilly - Drums
*Doug Billard - Vocals

Related Act
1971  Lighthouse - One Fine Morning 

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Bob McAllen - McAllen (1971 us, spectacular acid tinged folk rock, 2014 korean remaster)

Amazing 12-string slinging folk singer-songwriter from East Lansing, Michigan. He’s got a bit of a Tim Buckley sound, and he’s a really interesting lyricist.

"Lady Today" also features the "Woolies" including Jeff Baldori on lead guitar. "By Candlelight", subtitled "Love Song to a Cat" is just that but it's quite a nice piece of folk psych with flugel horn low in the mix providing texture. You can't beat the honesty of such self-produced music. His vocals and 12-string are both great. "It Depends" has a fast tempo and a dreamy texture with echoed vocals in the 60's mode. 

Original sound with lyrics like "I used to walk the fields with a gun - just for fun but now I walk with empty hands again. I do not care for hunting any more - since the war. I will not hunt for animals or men." More dreaminess on "Guess We'll Never Be That Way Again" and "Nights Like This".

1. You've Heard This Song Before - 2:54
2. Furry Little Friend - 3:17
3. Rollen Home - 2:40
4. By Candlelight - 3:44
5. Happiness All The Time - 2:17
6. Wish I Were A Whippoorwill - 2:23
7. It Depends - 3:39
8. Guess We'll Never Be That Way Again - 3:13
9. Night Like This - 4:01
10.Lady Today - 3:45
11.Didn't You - 4:53
All songs by Bob McAllen

*Bob McAllen - Vocals, Guitar, 12 String Guitar
*Mike Grace - Bass
*Dave Koether - Drums
*Mike O'Sullivan - Glugel Horn
*Bob Baldori - Shakers
*Jeff Baldori - Lead Guitar
*Bee Metros - Drums
*Zocko Groendal - Bass

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Monday, September 1, 2014

Johnny Kidd And The Pirates - The Best Of (1956-66 uk, pioneer beat roots 'n' roll, 2008 two disc set)

It may surprise you to know that The Beatles were not the first British rock act to top the chart with one of their own compositions – that honour goes to Johnny Kidd & The Pirates, whose No. 1 hit, 'Shakin' All Over", is also the earliest British penned rock song to ever reach the US Top 20. Born Frederick Allbert Heath in WillesdenWillesden, North London on November 23 1935, Johnny was the youngest of Margaret and Ernest Heath's three children. He attended Wesley Road Secondary Modern School before going on to Willesden Technical College, and first became interested in music when an uncle gave him a banjo for his birthday. 

In 1956, together with some friends, he formed a skiffle group, who at various times were known as Bats Heath & The Vampires, The Frantic- Four, and The Five Nutters Skiffle Group. The group fared well in a handful of talent shows, which led to an appearance on the BBC radio show Skiffle Club and performances at the No.l skiffle venue. The '2 I's coffee bar in Soho.

When the skiffle train ran out of steam, the group had a few name changes before settling on Freddie Heath & The Nutters. Unlike many contemporary British rockers, Johnny also wrote songs. In 1959, George Martin produced the duo The Bachelors (Steve Keen & Rikki Gabin - no connection to the later Irish trio) singing 'Please Don't Touch', which Kidd composed with his manager Guy Robinson. Simultaneously Johnny was ottered a contract with another EMI label, HMV, and on April 18, 1959, the group recorded their version of that song with upand- coming producer Peter Sullivan, later famous for his work with acts like Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck. It was while recording this track (it took 28 takes), and its equally exciting, written-inthe- studio, b-side 'Growl' , that the group learned that they would now be known as Johnny Kidd & The Pirates - a decision they presumed had been taken by either Sullivan or Robinson.

'Please Don't Touch' had more of a raw rock'n'roll sound than any other British record at the time, and their performance of it on BBC" radio's Saturday Club helped push it into the Top 20. Most unusually for a UK rock song it was covered in the USA by Chico Holliday (on RCA), and 22 years later revisited the UK charts by heavy metal heroes Motorhead and Girlschool. Johnny, who wore an eye patch and calf length cowboy boots on stage to enhance his pirate image, followed this hit with a beat rendition of the First World War favourite 'If You Were The Only Girl In The World' - recorded just days after the death of its composer George Meyer. The group then returned to the chart with a cover version of 'You Got What It Takes' penned by future Motown owner Berry Gordy Jr.

At this time the Pirates had reduced to a trio consisting of Alan Caddy (lead guitar) Brian Gregg (bass), and Clem Cattini (drums). It was this line-up, with the addition of noted session guitarist Joe Moretti, that recorded their next single. The A-side was intended to be their rockin' revival of the 1925 favorite 'Yes Sir, That's My Baby', hut it was the "throwaway" b-side that went down in rock'n'roll history. They penned 'Shakin' All Over' in just six minutes at Chas McDevitt's Freight Train coftee bar in Soho the day before going into the studio on Friday the 13th May I960. Legend has it that the track, which features Moretti's playing the chilling guitar figure and classic solo, was recorded in just two takes. Johnny recalled "When we saw a girl who was a real sizzler we used to say that she gave us 'quivers down the membranes'. It was this that inspired me to write the song".

EMI instantly realised the track's potential and made it the a-side. The group launched it on Jack Good's TV show Wham!. It charted immediately and seven weeks later in August 1960 replaced Cliff Richard's 'Please Don't Tease' at No. 1. Incidentally, Cliff later recorded the song as did The Who, The Swinging Blue Jeans, Normie Rowe (who took it to the top in Australia) and Canada's Guess Who (who took it into the US Top 2O). Johnny's final I960 release was the haunting 'Restless' which narrowly missed the Top 2O. He returned to the Hit Parade the following year with the R&B song 'Linda Lu' but the next release 'Please Don't Bring Me Down', which owed more than a little to 'Shakin' All Over', failed to chart. It was soon after this that Brian, Alan and Clem thought thev were leaving a sinking ship and quit the Pirates - they would soon all be part of the Tornados, who had a transatlantic No. 1 with "Telstar' in 1962. Johnny's final release of 1961 was the 'Fever' flavoured 'Hurry On Back To Love', on which the Pirates were replaced by the Mike Sanimes Singers. It also sold relatively few copies.

By 1962 there was a new line-up of Pirates; Johnny Spence (bass), Frank Farley (drums) and Johnny Patto (guitar), who as the Redcaps had previously hacked Oh Boy! regular Cuddly Duddly. The group spent most of that year gigging around the UK and in Hamburg, where they starred at the prestigious Star Club. The cutlass wielding buccaneer and his band were particularly popular in Liverpool, where they often played the Cavern Club, where future Merseybeat stars watched and learned from their idols, and also topped the bill over The Beatles on a Mersey riverboat shuffle.

In January 1963 the group scored with their verson of A Shot Of Rhythm ‘n’ Blues' coupled with the equally popular 'I Can Tell', the first track to feature guitarist Mick Green who replaced Patto. That summer their new manager  Gordon Mills convinced them to record “Never Get Over You”, a catchy song he had written, and previously recorded with his group The Viscounts, which had a Merseybeat feel. Initially the group were not too keen as it was a little too commercial for them. However, it rocketed into the Top 5 and the similarly styled Mills-penned follow up 'Hungry For Love' also gave them a Top '20 entry, and a year later was used by The Searchers as the lead track on a Top 5 EP. The group's last chart entry came in 1964 with Always And Ever', which was based on the 19th century Neapolitan song 'Santa Lucia".  Later singles, including Kidd's versions of Jewel Akins hit The Birds & The Bees', The Miracles' million seller 'Shop Around', Marvin Rainwater's 1958 No.l ' Whole Lotta Woman' and an updated 'Shakin' All Over '65' sold only moderately well but this did not really affect Johnny's amazing capacity for pulling big crowds wherever he played.

In 1966, Johnny married long time girl friend Jean Complin and among his wedding guests were Tom Jones, Georgie Fame, and members of The Hollies and Pretty Things. In April that year The Pirates set sail without Johnny in search of more fame and fortune, and after that mutiny he put together The New Pirates (who evolved from Liverpool band The Avengers). He was very happy with the group and their live shows were very well received. As a Norfolk newspaper reported "Always a very visual performer, Johnny's voice sounded more powerful today than when this legend of British rock'n'roll was in the charts! ". However, tragically, soon afterwards, when driving back from a gig in Nelson, Lancashire, Kidd was killed in a crash near Bury.

'Send For That Girl', which Johnny had hoped would return him to the top, was released shortly after his funeral. Despite the fact that he had played such a pivotal role in British rock music, the single received little support from the British music media and, ironically, even the recently launched Pirate Radio ships turned a blind eye to the record. It seemed that Johnny's image and sound no longer fitted. Perhaps the reason was in his genes, he was too Gene Vincent and not enough Gene Pitney for the .swinging sixties set. Apart from all the A and B sides of all the group's singles, this top notch collection includes many noteworthy recordings that were not made available until after Johnny's death. Among the lesser known jewels are the group's distinctive interpretations of rock favourites The Fool', 'Let's Talk About Us', Dr. Feelgood' and 'Some Other Guy'. In addition, they offer unique treatments of 'Your Cheating Heart', 'Right String But The Wrong Yo Yo', 'You Can Have Her' and 'I Just Want To Make Love To You' (recorded three years before the Rolling Stones version!).

Although they never had a hit of their own in the USA, they are held in high esteem there. Rolling Stone magazine summed up Kidd's group by saying "They were a prototype for the heavy metal guitar trios that they predated by nearly a decade", while other American critics pointed out that they were recording R’n’B songs long before the Beat Boom and British Invasion bands. This set plunders Johnny Kidd & The Pirates' vault and oilers you the very best of their recordings - and, if you'll excuse the pun, it's an album to treasure.
by Dave McAleer  (with thanks to Adrian Barrett)

Disc 1
1. Please Don't Touch (Frederick Heath, Guy Robinson) - 1:53 
2. Growl (Frederick Heath, Guy Robinson) - 2:23 
3. Steady Date (Peter DeAngelis, Robert Marcucci) - 2:38 
4. Feelin' (Frederick Heath) - 1:59 
5. If You Were the Only Girl in the World and I Were the Only Boy (Clifford Grey) - 2:38 
6. You Got What It Takes (B. Gordy Jr, G. Gordy, R. Davies) - 2:02 
7. Longin' Lips (Frederick Heath, Guy Robinson) - 1:47 
8. Shakin' All Over (Johnny Kidd) - 2:21 
9. Yes Sir That's My Baby (Walter Donaldson, Gus Kahn) - 1:42 
10.Restless (T. Wadmore, Johnny Kidd, S. Dale) - 2:12 
11.Magic of Love (Johnny Kidd) - 2:08 
12.Linda Lu (Ray Sharpe) - 2:35 
13.Let's Talk About Us (Otis Blackwell) - 3:22 
14.Big Blon' Baby (Kenny Jacobson, Rhoda Roberts) - 2:05 
15.Weep No More My Baby (Arnette, Murphy, O'Dell, Paterno) - 3:14 
16.More of the Same (Peter DeAngelis) - 1:53 
17.I Just Want to Make Love to You (Willie Dixon) - 3:01 
18.Please Don't Bring Me Down (Johnny Kidd) - 2:14 
19.So What (Crompton, Jones) - 2:27 
20.Hurry on Back to Love (Westlake) - 2:30 
21.I Want That (Edna Lewis, Ben Weisman) - 2:26 
22.I Can Tell (Samuel F. Smith) - 2:31 
23.A Shot of Rhythm and Blues (Terry Thompson) - 2:00 
24.Some Other Day (Richard Barrett, Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) - 2:28 
25.Popeye (M. Green, J. Spence, F. Farley) - 2:14 
26.Spanish Armada (M. Green) - 2:35 
27.Then I Got Everything (Johnny Kidd, Mike Green) - 2:02 
28.I'll Never Get Over You (Gordon Mills) - 2:09 

Disc 2
1. Hungry for Love (Gordon Mills) - 2:16
2. Ecstasy (Doc Pomus, Phil Spector) - 2:31
3. Casting My Spell (Alvin Johnson, Edwin Johnson) - 2:24
4. My Babe (Willie Dixon) - 2:46
5. Doctor Feelgood (C. Smith) - 2:11
6. Always and Ever (David J. Ruvin) - 2:56
7. A Little Bit of Soap (B. Russell) - 2:27
8. Oh Boy (Norman Petty, Bill Tilghman, Sonny West) - 1:40
9. Send Me Some Lovin' (John Marascalco) - 3:08
10.Whole Lotta Woman (Marvin Rainwater) - 3:12
11.Your Cheatin' Heart (Hank Williams) - 3:19
12.Right String But the Wrong Yo-Yo (W. Perryman) - 2:34
13.Shop Around (B. Gordy Jr, W. Smokey Robinson) - 3:06
14.I Know (Barbara George) - 2:25
15.Jealous Girl (Mills, Weske) - 2:38
16.Where Are You (Swanson, Roberts) - 2:21
17.Don't Make the Same Mistake as I Did (Lynch, Schuman, Westlake) - 2:28
18.The Birds and the Bees (Herb Newman) - 2:04
19.Can't Turn You Loose (Otis Redding) - 2:18
20.Gotta Travel On (Traditional) - 3:01
21.Shakin' All Over '65 (Johnny Kidd) - 2:24
22.Bad Case of Love (Sonny Curtis) - 2:02
23.You Can Have Her (Bill Cook) - 2:52
24.This Golden Ring (R. Greenaway, R. Cook) - 2:48
25.It's Got to Be You (Birch) - 2:26
26.I Hate Getting Up in the Morning (Mitch Murray) - 2:06
27.Send for That Girl (Barter) - 2:45
28.The Fool (N. Ford, Lee Hazelwood) - 4:11

The Pirates
*Johnny Kidd - Vocals, Guitar
*Alan Caddy - Lead Guitar
*Brian Gregg - Bass
*Clem Cattini - Drums
*Joe Moretti - Guitar
*Johnny Spence - Bass
*Frank Farley - Drums
*Johnny Patto - Guitar
*Mike Green - Guitar

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