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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Cat Mother And The All Night Newsboys - Albion Doo Wah (1970 us, impressive jamming country folk classic rock, 2013 issue)

A really compelling second set from Cat Mother and The All Night Newsboys – and quite different than the first! On their Polydor debut, the group had Jimi Hendrix at the production helm – but this time they're taking things on their own, with a feel that's nicely loose and freewheeling – and which really matches the woodsy image of the cover! 

The core mix of guitar and organ is still as tight as before – but it also gets some nice rootsy touches from violin, mandolin, and acoustic guitar – used in ways that echo folk and maybe preface a bit of redneck rock – yet which also have a bit more of a North Cali sort of sensibility in the long run.

1. Riff Raff (Bob Smith, Larry Packer, Michael Equine, Roy Michaels) - 5:28
2. Turkish Taffy - 2:58
3. Boonville Massacre - 4:11
4. I Must Be Dreaming - 4:17
5. Last Go Round (Jay Ungar) - 3:20
6. Strike A Match And Light Another (Jay Ungar) - 2:49
7. Been All Around The World (Traditional) - 4:58
8. Good Times (Roy Michaels) - 3:06
9. Albion Doo-Wah (Bob Smith, Jay Ungar, Larry Packer, Michael Equine, Roy Michaels) - 4:14
10.Rise Above It - 3:14
All compositions by Bob Smith except where indicated

Cat Mother And The All Night Newsboys
*Roy Michaels - Bass, Guitar, Vocals
*Michael Equine - Drums, Guitar, Vocals
*Bob Smith - Electric Piano, Organ, Drums, Vocals
*Larry Packer - Lead Guitar , Violin, Mandolin, Vocals
*Jay Ungar - Violin, Mandolin, Guitar, Vocals
*Paul Johnson - Guitar
*Lyndon Lee Hardy - Vocals

1969  Cat Mother And The All Night News Boys - The Street Giveth And The Street Taketh Away

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Roger McGuinn - Cardiff Rose (1976 us, marvelous country folk classic rock, 2013 edition and 2004 bonus tracks issue)

On the surface, Roger McGuinn, the former leader and 12-string jangle-meister of the Byrds, and Mick Ronson, who contributed the wicked guitar crunch to David Bowie's Spiders from Mars period, might seem like a wildly unlikely musical combination, but the two became friendly when they both toured as part of Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue, and after that road trip came to a close, Ronson went into the studio with McGuinn to produce his next solo album. 

The result, 1976's Cardiff Rose, is easily one of McGuinn's finest solo efforts; with fellow Rolling Thunder veterans Rob Stoner, Howie Wyeth, and David Mansfield joining McGuinn and Ronson in the studio, the band sounds tight and enthusiastic from front to back, and while this rocks a good bit harder than the average McGuinn effort, Ronson's six-string swagger never gets in the way of the songs, and Mick's production is unexpectedly sympathetic, adding the right seafaring touches to the pirate tale "Jolly Roger" and coming up with a lovely old-timey arrangement for "Pretty Polly." 

McGuinn also had a better batch of material at his disposal than on his previous set, Roger McGuinn & Band; he wrote a handful of strong originals, including "Partners in Crime" (a witty salute to Abbie Hoffman, then on the lam), the charging rockers "Rock and Roll Time" and "Take Me Away," and the beautifully atmospheric "Jolly Roger," while he was also lucky enough to receive fine contributions from Bob Dylan ("Up to Me") and Joni Mitchell ("Dreamland"). 

Sadly, Cardiff Rose didn't fare especially well on the sales charts, which is a shame -- it finds McGuinn in excellent form, and proves he could have moved outside of the musical framework of the Byrds and still had plenty to say with the right collaborators. 
by Mark Deming

1. Take Me Away - 3:04
2. Jolly Roger - 4:59
3. Rock And Roll Time (R. McGuinn, Kris Kristofferson, Bobby Neuwirth) - 2:49
4. Friend (R. McGuinn) - 2:08
5. Partners In Crime - 4:53
6. Up To Me (Bob Dylan) - 5:37
7. Round Table - 4:07
8. Pretty Polly (Trad., Arranged And Adapted By R. McGuinn) - 3:20
9. Dreamland (Joni Mitchell) - 5:20
All songs  by Roger McGuinn and Jacques Levy except where noted.

Bonus Tracks 2004 Issue 
10.Soul Love (Demo Recording) (David Bowie) - 3:06
11.Dreamland (Live) (Joni Mitchell) - 5:29

*Roger McGuinn - Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Vocals
*Mick Ronson - Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Recorder, Accordion, Piano, Organ, Autoharp, Percussion, Vocals
*David Mansfield - Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Steel Guitar, Mandolin, Violin, Banjo, Organ, Percussion
*Rob Stoner - Bass, Percussion, Vocals
*Howie Wyeth - Drums, Percussion
*Timmy Schmit - Vocals
*Kim Hitchcroft - Saxophone

1973  Roger McGuinn - Roger McGuinn (2013 Edition) 
1979  McGuinn, Clark And Hillman (2014 Japan SHM Remaster)

With The Byrds
1964  The Byrds - Preflyte (2012 Edition)
1968  The Byrds - Sweetheart Of The Rodeo  (Double Disc Set)
1969  The Byrds - Live At Fillmore
1971  The Byrds - Live At Royal Albert Hall
1973  Byrds - Byrds

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Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Other Half - The Other Half (1968 us, outstanding raw garage and blues rock tingles, with pre-Blue Cheer Randy Holden, 2006 extra tracks release)

While there are literally thousands of psych LPs out there, there's a small core (say 400 or 500), that are widely recognized as sought after genre classics. This is one of 'em ...

It's always struck us as kind of interesting that these guys (bassist Larry Brown, former Fender IV and Sons of Adam guitarist Randy Holden, singer Jeff Nowlen, rhythm guitarist Geoff Western and drummer Danny Woods) have been lumped in with San Francisco bands such as The Dead, The Jefferson Airplane and Quicksilver Messenger Service. Geographically hailed from Los Angeles they really weren't part of the Haight Ashbury scene (though they played a lot of shows at the Avalon and other San Francisco clubs). Musical comparisons to those other bands are equally clumsy given their weird hybrid of garage and psychedelia set them miles apart from most contemporaries.

As The Other Half, by 1966 Brown, Nowlen, Western and Woods had begun to attract a devoted local following in Los Angeles. Interesting it was band fans that suggested they consider adding guitarist Holden to the line up. Unhappy with his current outfit (Sons of Adam), Holden ended up jamming with the group at a local club, subsequently joining the lineup. The band's live act (including Holden's 20 minute guitar solos), brought them to the attention of the small GNP/Crescendo label which released their 1966 debut "Mister Pharmacist" b/w "I've Come So Far" (GNP/Crescendo catalog number 378).

A growling slice of garage/punk anger, the single did little in terms of sales, but attracted the attention of Kenny Meyers, who promptly signed them to his newly formed Dot-affiliated Acta label (along with San Francisco's Neighb'rhood Childr'n).

Released in 1967, their label debut "Wonderful Day" b/w "Flight Of The Dragon Lady" (Acta catalog number 801), attracted critical attention, but few sales. In spite of that, Acta agreed to finance an album, though the project was apparently done on a shoestring budget and without much post-production work - check out the goofy dialog in the midst of " Introduction" and the sound of someone coughing in the background of "Wonderful Day".

Good thing Acta financed the LP. Produced by the band, Larry Goldberg, Leo De Gar Kulka and Hank Levine, 1968's "The Other Half" is nothing less than a lost classic. This is a horrible description, but propelled by Holden's mind numbing guitar (more about that later) and Nowlen's bluesy voice, the album featured a wonderful mix of Yardbirds-styled blues-rock, raw garage moves, West Coast-psychedelia and Eastern influences ... yeah, we've described an aural stew that includes virtually everything but a kitchen sink.

As mentioned earlier, Holden's dizzying guitar work was unparalleled. Highlights included the Arthur Lee-penned "Feathered Friend" (checkout his fuzz work), "Flight of the Dragon Lady" (how'd he get that sustained distortion?), the Indian flavored "I Need You" and the cataclysmic closer "What Can I Do For You, The Other Half". Regardless of whether you're into psych, this is simply a great guitar album !!! Greeted with complete indifference, the set quickly vanished into cutout bins. (Tom Hall provided the cool period cover art ...)

1. Introduction (Randy Holden, Jeff Nowlen, Geoff Westen) - 1:50
2. Feathered Fish (Arthur Lee) - 2:38 (Arthur Lee)
3. Flight of the Dragon Lady (Randy Holden, Jeff Nowlen, Geoff Westen, Larry Brown, Danny Wood) - 2:36
4. Wonderful Day (Randy Holden) - 2:21
5. I Need You (Randy Holden, Mike Port) - 2:46
6. Oz Lee Eaves Drops (Randy Holden, Jeff Nowlen) - 2:29
7. Bad Day (Randy Holden, Jeff Nowlen) - 2:18
8. Morning Fire (Randy Holden, Jeff Nowlen) - 2:37
9. What Can I Do For You, First Half (Randy Holden, Jeff Nowlen, Geoff Westen) - 2:45
10.What Can I Do For You, The Other Half (Randy Holden, Jeff Nowlen, Geoff Westen) - 6:57
11.I’ve Come So Far (1968 single) (Geoff Westen) - 2:22
12.Mr. Pharmacist (1966 single) (Jeff Nowlen) - 2:30
13.No Doubt About It ( b-side of an Acta single) (Jeff Nowlen) -  2:36
14.It’s Too Hard  (Jeff Nowlen) - 2:13
15.I Know (Jeff Nowlen) - 2:41

The Other Half
*Randy Holden - Lead Guitar, Vocals (1967-68)
*Geoff Westen - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals (1966-68)
*Larry Brown - Bass (1966-68)
*Danny "Woody" Woods - Drums (1966-68)
*Jeff Nolan - Vocals, Harmonica, Guitars (1966-68)
*Ron Saurman - Drums (1968)

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Neil Christian - That's Nice (1962-75 uk, fascinating classic roots 'n' roll, rhythm 'n' beat, blue eyed soul, 2007 release)

There's no doubting Neil Christian's contributions to the formative days of British rock. His groups included, at various times, Jimmy Page, Ritchie Blackmore, Nicky Hopkins, Albert Lee, and Mick Abrahams. As a singer and recording artist, though, he was distinctly lacking, with a rather wimpy and tentative voice, in spite of the occasional power of his backing tracks on the numerous singles he cut between 1962 and 1968. He tried his hand at teen idol tunes, Merseybeat-ish numbers, British R&B, and bloated MOR pop, but could not overcome his fundamental lack of strong material.

His earliest numbers (some produced by the legendary Joe Meek) do have a slight charm, particularly the 1963 B-side "Get a Load of This," one of the best unknown Merseybeat-style recordings, and one that features some quite good session guitar work by the still-teenaged Jimmy Page. Also good (and also with Page on guitar) was the uncommonly tough R&B-rock of "I Like It," though this too was buried, on a 1966 French EP. Ultimately he belonged to that peculiar British Invasion subgenre of male solo singers who had a stronger visual image than vocal chops, like P.J. Proby and Dave Berry. Christian, however, wasn't nearly as successful as either Proby or Berry, landing just one U.K. hit, the vaudevillian "That's Nice," which made number 14 in 1966.

Born Christopher Tidmarsh, Neil Christian started fronting his backing group the Crusaders in the early '60s. Jimmy Page was the guitarist at the outset, but left in mid-1962 due to illness, although he would later record with Christian in the studio. Page's replacement was Albert Lee (though he too only lasted a short time), and other fine musicians would continue to pass through the Crusaders on their way to bigger and better things. Christian started recording relatively quickly, making his debut on the 1962 Meek-produced single "The Road to Love"/"The Big Beat Drum," but none of his 1962-1965 Columbia releases (one, the 1965 single "Give the Game Away," was credited to Guy Hamilton) made a mark. 

Christian's fortunes went on the upswing after he hooked up with songwriter and producer Miki Dallon and began recording for the U.K. indie Strike Records, for whom Dallon often worked. Virtually all of his 1966-1967 singles were written by Dallon, including "That's Nice" and "I Like It." Christian couldn't follow up "That's Nice," however, and Strike went out of business in late 1967. Christian released his final British 45 for Pye in 1967, though he did better in Germany, where he released some additional tracks in the late '60s. Everything Christian released in 1962-1968 has been reissued on the CD compilation That's Nice, which also adds several unreleased recordings from the same era.
by Richie Unterberger

1. That's Nice - 2:50
2. She Got the Action - 2:16
3. I Like It - 2:16
4. Let Me In - 3:12
5. Oops - 2:12
6. She Said Yeah - 2:38
7. Two at a Time - 2:30
8. Wanna Lover - 2:08
9. You're All Things Bright and Beautiful - 2:56
10.Gonna Love You Baby - 2:52
11.Bit by Bit (Gene Latter, Miki Dallon) - 3:07
12.Let Me Hear You Laugh - 3:03
13.Countdown - 3:23
14.Bad Girl (R. Tidmarsh, M. Dallon, Fisher) - 3:10
15.What Would Your Momma Say Now - 2:20
16.My Baby Left Me (B.A.Crudup) - 2:41
17.Yakety Yak (Ralph Tidmarsh) - 2:56
18.Happy Go Lucky (Zimmermann, Jay) - 2:18
19.I'm Living My Life (Zimmermann, Jay) - 2:18
20.She's Got the Power (Courtney) - 3:08
21.Someone's Following Me Around (Courtney) - 3:20
22.The Road to Love (Gibb, Barlow) - 2:38
23.Big Beat Drum (Gibb, Barlow) - 2:45
24.A Little Bit of Something Else (Conrad, Schroeder) - 2:02
25.Get a Load of This (Barlow) - 2:39
26.Honey Hush (J. L. Turner) - 2:09
27.One for the Money (Pelaez) - 2:02
28.Crusading (Miki Dallon, Ralph Tidmarsh) - 2:44
29.Baby in Love (Miki Dallon, Joachim Relin) - 2:26
30.Was Ich Dir Noch Sagen Wollte (Miki Dallon, Joachim Relin) - 2:08
All songs by Miki Dallon except where indicated

*Neil Christian - Vocals
*Jimmy Page - Guitar
*Jumbo Spicer - Bass
*Tornado Evans - Drums
*Albert Lee - Guitar
*Avid Anderson - Bass
*Phil McPill - Guitar
*Tony Marsh - Piano
*Dave Cakebread - Bass
*Graham Hill - Drums
*Stan Thomas - Sax
*Mick Abrahams - Guitar
*Alex Dmchowski - Bass
*Graham Waller - Keyboards
*Carlo Little - Drums
*Richie Blackmore - Guitar
*Tony Dangerfield - Bass
*Matt Smith - Piano

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Life - Life After Death (1974 uk, tremendous heavy prog with glam shades, 2012 remaster)

Consisting of Roger Cotton (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Ian Gibbons (flute, keyboards, vocals), Richard Thorpe (bass, vocals) and Paul Thorpe (drums, vocals), this obscure quartet issued their sole album on UK Polydor in 1974.

Produced by Chris White, formerly of the Zombies and a songwriter with Argent, Life After Death has been compared to Uriah Heep (though that may be on account of its artwork, which is reminiscent of the cover to Very Eavy, Very Umble, and the intermittent birdsong between tracks, as on Salisbury, rather than its actual musical content), Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Kansas and other leading 70s prog bands. 

The band's most notable member was Ian Gibbons, who started playing the accordion at the age of 9, performing solo at music festivals and competitions before forming his own band at the age of 14. In 1972 he joined Moonstone (who issued three 45s), then formed Life. 

Though it has gone on to enjoy a degree of cult acclaim, Life After Death vanished without trace upon its release in the summer of 1974, as did the accompanying 45, Woman / Bless My Soul (Polydor 2058 500, with a non-album B-side). 

Unsurprisingly, they split soon afterwards, with Ian Gibbons going on to a long career, first with English Assassins, then the Kinks (with whom he had a long association), and also Love Affair, Uriah Heep's Ken Hensley (in Shotgun), the Sweet, Ian Hunter and many others.
CD Liner-Notes

1. Riding Around - 4:19
2. Oupus - 1:41
3. I Don't Want To - 3:38
4. Black Eye - 3:29
5. Highway - 8:52
6. Sleepless Night - 3:59
7. Woman - 3:38
8. Looking Out - 4:29
9. Everybody's Queuing To Be Last - 5:21
10.The Plank / Devil On The River (Roger Cotton, Ian Gibbons) - 6:13
All songs by Roger Cotton except where indicated

*Roger Cotton - Vocals, Keyboards
*Richard Thorpe - Bass, Vocals
*Ian Gibbons - Keyboards, Flute
*Paul Thorpe - Drums, Vocals

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Charisma - Charisma (1969 us, exceptional jazz psych rock, 2008 issue)

Charisma was an American progressive rock group from the late 60s, they came about from diverging roots emanating from 3 directions. The core of Charisma was Rich Tortorigi (drummer) and George Tyrell (bass player). Both were members of a New Britain, Connecticut soul band called The Mantiques. The Mantiques had been one of the three main horn-based bands in New Britain in the mid to late 60’s, along with Detroit Soul and The Paramounts. Paramounts drummer, Tyrone Lampkin went on to play with Gutbucket and the Parliament Funkadelics. In 1968, Rich Tortorigi recruited Tom Majesky to play guitar with The Mantiques, following their breakup. Tom enlisted Bernie Kornowicz, former bassist of The Last Five, to share guitar and organ duties. The final addition to the group was folk singer Mike DeLisa to sing lead. Tom and Bernie brought the rock and roll element to the Mantiques and Mike brought the band an element of folkiness.

It was in 1969 that The Mantiques signed with Roulette Records as a convenient tax write off to record an album. The album was produced by Ed Vallone and most of the songs were penned by Bruce McGaw.

Following the recording of What’s It Like, the very first song on the album, (which, was in fact recorded at Vanguard Studios), there was a shakeup. George Tyrell quit the band, Bernie Kornowicz became the bass guitarist, Tom Majesky became the lead guitarist, and a new organist was recruited: Bob Mocarsky. The album was eventually completed. In the meantime, Tom, Bob and lyricist/art director Suzi Langlois began writing songs for a second album.

Before the recording of the second album, Mike DeLisa decided to go his own way, leaving the job of lead vocalist to guitarist Tom. Beasts and Fiends was recorded at the Record Plant in NYC during the summer of 1970. The lead engineer was the top engineer in the business: Jack Hunt (the Woodstock album, Electric Ladyland), assisted by Dave Ragno (the Woodstock album), and Tom Fly (the Woodstock album, former drummer of Lother and the Hand People). While credit was given to Bruce McGaw and Ed Vallone for production, fact is the album was produced by Charisma with interference run by Jack Hunt. Both albums sold better in Europe than they did in the USA. In 1976, Charisma disbanded, leaving one incomplete recording.

1. What's It Like? (Bruce McGaw) - 3:10
2. Truth Emerged (Suzi Langlois, Bob Mocarsky) - 2:36
3. Happy Song (Bruce McGaw) - 2:30
4. Where Do We Go From Here? (Bruce McGaw) - 4:17
5. Yesterday's Folks (B. Durso) - 4:17
6. Marianne (Bruce McGaw) - 4:48
7. Miss Willoughby (Bruce McGaw) - 4:13
8. Death of Me (Bruce McGaw) - 4:14
9. Bang Bang (Sonny Bono) - 1:02
10.If You're Waiting for a Miracle (A. Wayne, D. Marchand) - 2:57
11.Suzanne Gives (Bruce McGaw) - 2:37
12.Take Me Away  (Bruce McGaw) - 4:22

*Mike DeLisa - Vocals, Percussion
*Bernie Kornowicz - Bass, Guitar
*Tom Majesky - Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards
*Bob Mogarsky - Keyboards
*Rich Tortorige - Drums, Backing Vocals

1970  Charisma - Beasts And Fiends

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Friday, October 17, 2014

Keith Christmas - Stimulus (1969 uk, outstanding folk rock, 2012 remaster)

Stimulus was originally released in 1969 on the RCA label and is a true lost treasure of the 60s. Here we see Keith backed by members of Mighty Baby as well as Matthews Southern Comfort's pedal-steel guitarist Gordon Huntley who, all together, have created a beautifully styled gem of the late 1960's.

As was popular at the time, the emphasis on long tracks Trial & Judgement and / Know You Can't Loose showed off Keith's great songwriting ability and the gift for extended musical musings. 1969 was a busy time for Keith as with the release of Stimulus he also found time to play the acoustic guitar on David Bowie's first album Space Oddity and later appeared at the very first Glastonbury Festival.

Fable Of The Wings and Pigmy followed in the next few years, during which time Keith toured with many of the top bands of the day, including the Who, Ten Years After, King Crimson and Roxy Music.

In 1974 he joined the Belgium-English 70's rock band The Esperanto Rock Orchestra as their vocalist and appeared on their 1974 album, Danse Macabre, produced by Pete Sinfield.  

That same year Keith returned to solo work and produced Brighter Day which was issued on the same label as Pete Sinfield, which was Emerson, Lake and Palmer's Manticore label.

This release offered a tougher perspective than previous albums while Stories From The Human Zoo, recorded in Los Angeles and released in 1976, featured assistance from several American musicians, including Steve Cropper and Donald 'Duck' Dunn.

After taking time out from the music scene in 1981 Keith re-emerged at the end of the 80's with a fresh outlook, rejoining the folk club circuit with renewed enthusiasm and back to the recording studio. Forming the blues band Weatherman in 1991 he issued an album the following year.

In 1996 the excellent Love Beyond Deals was released on the famous HTD label. Love Beyond Deals was produced by Ashley Hutchings and featured a fantastic collection of guests from the folk world . Yet another change of direction was to follow with a highly acclaimed instrumental album Acoustica in 2003.

2006 and Keith releases his first ever truly solo CD Light of the Dawn and just continues to tour and release material and has been described as 'a songwriter at the peak of his powers'. 2011, and a 5 track EP called Fat Cat Big Fish was released and even this year as we go full circle from Stimulus to the present day. Check out Keith's 2012 album Live at the Pump for a continued journey into the wonderful world of a true all-round singer songwriter of our time.
CD Liner-notes

1. Travelling Down - 3:54
2. Bedsit Two-Step - 3:22
3. Roundabout - 2:24
4. Ice Man - 6:00
5. I Know You Can't Lose - 5:17
6. Metropolis - 3:32
7. Trial And Judgement - 9:43
8. Buddwing - 3:40
9. Examinations Rag - 2:31
10.I Know You Can't Lose - 5:45
11.Trial And Judgement - 9:57
12.The Ballad Of Robin Head - 4:08
Lyrics and Music by Keith Christmas

*Keith Christmas - Guitar, Vocal
*Martin Stone - Electric Guitar
*Mike Evans - Bass
*Roger Powell - Drums
*Ian Whiteman - Piano
*Gordon Huntley - Steel Guitar

1974-76  Keith Christmas - Tomorrow Never Ends The Anthology (2010 Two Disc Set)

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Side Show - Side Show (1970 us, beautiful baroque psychedelia, 2014 edition)

Paul Giovanni was from Atlantic City and got into music by way of theater productions in New York. He had made a one off psych single under the name Forever Children, and then met bass player Gregg Kreutz during a summer stock play gathering in rural Massachusetts. So their idea together was to apply the laid back Laurel Canyon ballad style to life in the big bad city. Kreutz says of Giovanni nowadays "He seemed to be always trying to push us towards concepts involving covens and suicides." So Giovanni met his perfect project a few years later when he did the score for the movie 'The Wicker Man'. 

This record is far more accomplished than it ought to be and has some darned great arranging.  Originally released in the summer of 1970, combining vocal harmonies with distorted guitars, Moog synthesizer, saxophone, melodica and more to impressive effect, and  a guest spot by Cissy Houston. The band never toured and fell apart quickly.

1. Cold Coffee (Gregg Kreutz) - 3:34
2. Carolyn (Paul Giovanni) - 4:06
3. The Duel (Gregg Kreutz, Ken Zeserson, Paul Giovanni) - 5:19
4. The Pill (Paul Giovanni) - 4:39
5. Ah! (Paul Giovanni) - 4:05
6. Joanna (Gregg Kreutz, Ken Zeserson) - 4:34
7. Jinx (Ken Zeserson, Paul Giovanni) - 3:29
8. Supper (Gregg Kreutz, Ken Zeserson, Paul Giovanni) - 3:54
9. Rooster (Ken Zeserson, Gregg Kreutz) - 3:13
10.Joe (Gregg Kreutz, Ken Zeserson, Paul Giovanni) - 4:46

The Side Show 
*Paul Giovanni - Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar, Twelve String Guitar
*Ken Zeserson - Lead Guitar, Saxophone, Vocals
*Gregg Kreutz - Bass, Harmonica, Vocals
*Ken Bischel - Keyboards, Moog, Trumpet, Melodica, Vocals
*Gordon Gottlieb - Drums
*Bill Lavornia - Drums
*Chuck Rainey - Bass
*Ted Hoyle - Cello
*John Sachs - Guitar
*Tony Studd - Trombone
*Cissy Houston - Vocals
*Arif Mardin - Finger Cymbals, Strings

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Monday, October 13, 2014

Mason - Starting As We Mean To Go On (1973 uk, wondrous harmonies in a folk soft rock marquetry)

The title of the lone album by Mason is rather ironic when considering the band's fate; not only did they fail to "go on," their album wasn't even released until 37 years after the fact. In retrospect, it's hard to believe that a soft pop/folk-rock gem like this could languish in limbo for so long, but one has to consider the back-story. After the breakup of ‘60s U.K. pop stars Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich, Dave Dee briefly worked with singer/songwriter Peter Mason, whose biggest claim to fame at the time was the fact that he almost replaced Robin Gibb in the Bee Gees. Dee's solo efforts came to little, but Mason eventually hooked up with Beaky (John Dymond) and Tich (Ian Amey) to make Crosby, Stills & Nash-inspired harmony-laden folk-pop. 

They signed to Pye's prog rock-oriented imprint Dawn under the name Mason, but after releasing a couple of unsuccessful singles, the label lost interest and declined to release the 1973 album. Decades later, Mason's album sessions were discovered moldering in the archives, and finally given an official release in 2010. While it seems unlikely that the easygoing acoustic sounds of Starting as We Mean to Go On would have made a big impact in glam-era England, it's entirely reasonable to assume that any one of the lambent soft rock delicacies contained herein could have connected with the U.S. charts, which were full of similarly minded artists at the time. 

While the band's CSN influence can be clearly heard on "It Was Me Who Left Her," which is a close cousin to the American trio's "Helplessly Hoping," Mason undeniably establish their own identity over the course of the album. For all the American rural rock touches (including the overt country-rock of the fiddle-driven "My Country Home"), there's an unmistakable Englishness to the melodic sensibilities here, one that connects Mason as much to the likes of John Pantry and the Bee Gees as to CSN, Bread, et al. 
by James Allen

1. Don't You Ever Change Your Mind (Mason, Harman) - 4:21
2. To 50 From 45 (Mason, Dymond) - 3:55
3. It Was Me Who Left Her - 2:58
4. Love's Evening Song - 2:39
5. You've Gotta Get Up (Mason, Dymond) - 3:24
6. When Freedom Comes - 2:55
7. Lordy - 5:14
8. It's All Gone Wrong - 3:28
9. My Country Home - 3:44
10.J'Ann Here Is A Song - 2:14
11.48 Now To Each Day (P. Mason, Barry D. Mason) - 4:07
12.It's Alright - 4:37
13.Fading (Ian Amy, John Dymond, Mason) - 3:09
14.Rise With The Morning - 5:58
All songs by  Peter Mason unless as else stated

*Peter Mason - Vocals, Guitars, Bass,
*Ian "Tich" Amey - Vocals, Lead Guitar, Pedal Steel, Mandoline
*John “Beaky” Dymond - Vocals, Guitars, Banjo, Mandolina
*Chas O’brien - Vocals, Drums
*Bob Taylor - Bass

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Saturday, October 11, 2014

Keith Christmas - Tomorrow Never Ends The Anthology (1974-76 uk, bright melodic folk prog rock with funky soul vibes, 2010 double disc edition)

After his first three albums in the late 1960s and early '70s, Keith Christmas was without a record deal for a few years and left the music business, returning to the fray with a couple of albums on Emerson, Lake & Palmer's Manticore label. This two-CD set has both of these (1974's Brighter Day and 1976's Stories from the Human Zoo), adding two tracks that appeared only on 1974-1975 singles, as well as previously unreleased early versions of four songs from Brighter Day. 

As he had on his earlier albums, Christmas remained a frustrating artist for listeners inclined to the kind of eclectic British singer/songwriter material he recorded. He was obviously more talented (particularly as a guitarist) than the bulk of singer/songwriters seeking record contracts, yet not such a striking or memorable vocalist or composer that his albums figure among the more impressive records of their time, even on a cult level. Influenced by folk-rock and mid-'70s mainstream rock of both the U.K. and U.S. variety, these were pretty ordinary if unobjectionable albums of their type, particularly in the melodic department. Brighter Day had strong connections to King Crimson alumni, as it was produced in London by Greg Lake and Pete Sinfield, with contributions by Ian Wallace, Mel Collins, and Ian McDonald. 

The songs mixed some folk, progressive rock, orchestral pop, and even soul influences with lyrics that got into some unusual (for rock) subjects, like trendy religious conversions, vagabonding on the rock circuit, and gypsy lifestyles, often in a storytelling fashion. Christmas was only an average-at-best tunesmith, though, and his vocals were adequate but thin, working better on the more introspective, acoustic-oriented numbers (especially the one most indebted to British folk, "Robin Head") than the harder-rocking ones. 

Recorded in Hollywood with contributions from Steve Cropper and Duck Dunn of Booker T. & the MG's, Stories from the Human Zoo was more oriented toward harder, at times slightly Dylanesque mainstream rock, though not enormously so. Again, Christmas probed some fairly unusual territory in songs like "The Astronaut (Who Wouldn't Come Down)" (he did play on Bowie's Space Oddity album, after all) and "Last of the Dinosaurs." Most often, though, he left the impression of a sensitive soul observing the small trials and sad vignettes of life and taking them to heart, most suitably when he came up with melancholic melodies to go with them on "High Times" and "Tomorrow Never Ends." 

As for the six bonus tracks (all grouped together at the end of disc one), the four early versions of songs from Brighter Day are, as expected, simpler productions (though not extremely so) than the ones on the album. The 1974 B-side "Sweet Changes" is very much in the reserved folky style he favored, while the 1975 A-side cover of the soul standard "My Girl" seems a ridiculous mismatch for Christmas' style. The 20-page booklet gives the material deluxe treatment, with lengthy liner notes including memories from Christmas himself, as well as lyrics for all of the songs on both albums. 
by Richie Unterberger

Disc 1 
Brighter Day 1974
1. Brighter Day - 6:15 
2. Foothills - 3:59 
3. Country Farm - 2:53 
4. The Bargees - 6:06 
5. Lovers' Cabaret - 4:30 
6. Robin Head - 4:48 
7. Gettin' Religion - 4:23 
8. Could Do Better - 4:46 
9. Song Of A Drifter - 3:07 
10.Brighter Day (First Version) - 7:46 
11.Foothills (First Version) - 4:08 
12.Robin Head (First Version) - 4:52 
13.Lovers' Cabaret (First Version) - 4:33 
14.Sweet Changes (B Side) - 4:14 
15.My Girl (1975 Single A Side) - 3:09
All compositions by Keith Christmas

Disc 2 
 Stories From The Human Zoo  1976
1. The Dancer - 4:28
2. The Nature Of The Man - 3:32
3. 3 Golden Rules - 4:12
4. Souvenir Affair - 2:55
5. The Last Of The Dinosaurs - 4:37
6. The Astronaut (Who Wouldn't Come Down) - 3:14
7. High Times - 6:19
8. Tomorrow Never Ends - 4:04
9. Life In Babylon - 5:41
All compositions by Keith Christmas

*Keith Christmas -  Congas, Flexatones, Guitars, Tambourine, Vocals,
*Mel Collins  - Flute, Horn Arrangements, Saxophones, Soloist
*Steve Cropper  - Guitar
*Martin Drower  - Trumpet
*Donald "Duck" Dunn  - Bass
*Malcolm Griffiths  - Trombone
*Andy Hendriksen  - Engineer
*Neil Hubbard  - Guitar
*Skaila Kanga  - Harp
*David Kemper  - Drums
*Greg Lake  - Producer
*Henry Lowther  - Trumpet
*Ian Mcdonald  - Piano
*Eddie Mordue  - Alto Sax
*David Nicterne  - Guitar
*Dean Olch  - Flute
*Tommy Reilly  - Harmonica
*Darryl Runswick  - Bass
*William D. "Smitty" Smith  - Keyboards
*Pete Solly  - Clavinet, Moog Bass, Piano
*Alan Spenner  - Bass
*Cat Stevens  - Horn Arrangements, String Arrangements
*Snuffy Walden  - Guitar
*Wendy Waldmann  - Vocals
*Ray Warleigh  - Alto Sax

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Kathy McCord - New Jersey To Woodstock (1968-79 us, brilliant soulful folk psych with jazz expansions, 2010 two disc set)

Had events taken a different turn, Kathy McCord might now be regarded as a 60s pop icon, rather than a cult heroine. It was her early mentor Chip Taylor’s intention that she would record the original of the now-classic ‘Angel Of The Morning’, but his partner Al Gorgoni favoured Evie Sands. Instead Kathy got to record a single for their Rainy Day label in 1968 that fell stillborn from the presses.

A year later, Kathy became the first non-jazz artist to be signed to Creed Taylor’s renowned CTI imprint. Her eponymous album featured musicians of the calibre of John Hall, future founder of Orleans, on guitar and flautist Hubert Laws. Its ethereal beauty failed to reach its intended audience, and it was not until years later – decades, even – that it started to achieve a belated recognition, particularly among those who enjoy the works of such McCord peers as Nick Drake and Vashti Bunyan. Copies of the original LP have crept up in price and nowadays fetch a pretty penny when offered for sale. A limited edition Japanese CD from the mid-90s sold out almost before it hit the streets.

In the 21st century, the cult of Kat continues to snowball. When the opportunity arose for Ace to license and re-reissue “Kathy McCord”, we jumped at it. She is, after all, family by relation – her big brother Billy Vera has long been part of the Ace team, as both compiler and annotator. Billy is a thrilled as we are that we’re able to give his little sister the treatment that her small but mighty catalogue deserves. It was Billy who approached her on our behalf to see if she had unissued material lurking in corners or cupboards that we could use to make that catalogue even bigger.

To everyone’s delight, Kathy trawled through her tapes and found 16 tracks that make up CD2 of this set. The fi is not always hi on these, but her abundant talent shines through on each and every one of them. They were recorded at various times during the 1970s, while Kathy was living in Woodstock and hanging out with the likes of the Fabulous Rhinestones, Amos Garrett, Paul Butterfield and assorted members of the Band – most if not all of whom can be heard in this half of our programme.

Listening to the repertoire of “New Jersey To Woodstock”, it’s quite incredible that Kathy never got the kind of breaks that were afforded to considerably less talented contemporaries of hers. She had the look, and the looks. She wrote most of her own material and sung it with supreme confidence and soulfulness. Her lack of success can only be down to a matter of being on the wrong label, or in the wrong place, at the wrong time. But it’s never too late to travel from New Jersey To Woodstock, so buy your ticket and let Kathy McCord make your journey worthwhile.
by Tony Rounce

Disc One
New Jersey. The 60’s Recordings
1. Rainbow Ride - 5:05
2. I'm Leaving Home (She's Leaving Home) (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) - 4:20
3. Candle Waxing - 4:12
4. Baby James - 3:14
S. The Love Flow - 3:00
6. New York Good Sugar/Love Lyric #7 - 3:57
7. For You, Child - 3:08
8. Jennipher - 4:39
9. Take Away This Pain - 5:36
10.Velvet Smile (Kathleen McCord, Billy Vera) - 3:16
11.I'll Give My Heart To You (Chip Taylor)  - 3:47
12.I'll Never Be Alone Again (Chip Taylor, Al Gorgoni) - 2:27
All titles written by Kathleen McCord except where noted

Disc Two
Woodstock. The 70s Recordings
1. New Horizons - 3:22
2. Acapulco - 3:07
3. Baby, Come Out Tonight - 2:55
4. That's A Love That's Real - 3:54
5. No Need To Wait - 3:11
6. I'll Be Lovin' You Forever - 3:18
7. Magnolia - 3:06
8. Madman - 3:53
9. Captain Cody Memorial - 3:55
10.Keep Peace In The Family - 3:41
11.You'd Convince The Devil - 2:42
12.Who's Been Coolin' You? - 5:57
13.Don't Go Talkin' To Strangers - 4:02
14. Every Little Thing You Do - 3:56
15. I Wanna Know Why - 4:38
16. Shine On - 3:57
All titles written by Kathleen McCord

*Kathy McCord - Vocals, Guitar
*Harvey Brooks - Bass
*Kal David - Guitar, Vocals
*Marty Grebb - Keyboards
*Lenon Helm - Drums
*Rick Danko - Bass
*Amos Garrett - Guitar
*Tommy "T-Bone" Wolk - Bass
*Howard "HoJo" Johnson - Saxophone
*John Platania - Guitar
*Tom Malone -  Trumpet, Tuba, Saxes, Flutes
*Lou Marini - Saxophone
*David Sanborn - Alto Saxophone
*Lew Del Gato - Sax
*Michael Brecker - Sax, Flute
*Randy Brecker - Trumpet, Flugelhorn
*Ed Shaughnessy - Drums, Tabla
*Don Sebesky - String, Brass Arrangements
*Hubert Laws - Flute
*Paul Harris - Piano, Organ
*John Hall - Guitar
*Willis Kelly - Drums

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Monday, October 6, 2014

Luv Machine - Luv Machine (1970 barbados, great hard guitar rock with prog traces)

Originally released in 1970, the single "Witches Wand" is as classic as it gets from this magical era in underground music. To this day it remains a firm favourite at 60s mod and psych and 70s rock clubs up and down the UK.

Formed in the tropical climes of Barbados in 1967, the Luv Machine relocated to the UK in late '68 to seek fame and fortune in those swinging times.

The band started out by playing the underground black soul clubs in the Midlands area. Their sound was a lot harder-edged than the usual acts on the initial club circuit on which they were being booked.

Influenced by Hendrix, Cream, Credence Clearwater Revival as well as more obscure hard rock bands of the time, Luv Machine managed to combine elements of both rock & soulful psych with a funky progressive groove. Added to this was a Caribbean vibe, which made them completely unique amongst rivals of the day.

The band's self-titled debut album that was released for Polydor in 1971 has become a much-revered and collectable item amongst collectors and fans of the era.

Unfortunately, the band split before the album was actually released, which meant it was never actually given the publicity it surely deserved. Who knows what may have happened if the situation was different for them.

1. Witches Wand - 2:45
2. You're Surprised - 2:41
3. It's Amazing - 3:21
4. Happy Children (Bishop, Bradshaw) - 3:07
5. Everything (Martin Hall) - 3:16
6. Maybe Tomorrow - 4:19
7. Reminiscing (Vernon Pareira) - 2:52
8. Change your Mind - 2:57
9. Corrupt One - 3:47
10.Lost - 3:06
11.My Life Is Filled With Changes - 3:05
12.Portrait Of Disgust - 4:53
All songs by Michael Bishop except where noted

Luv Machine
Michael Bishop - guitar, vocals
Bob Bowman - guitar, vocals
Errol Bradshaw - drums, vocals
John Jeavons - bass, vocals

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Saturday, October 4, 2014

Beast - Beast (1969 us, fantastic psych jazz rock, 2010 edition)

Beast's debut album is a crossline between psych and brass rock. The band offers great moments, some cool jazz rock and relaxed psychedelia, with intense glimpses of progressive rock. There are also moments when the band goes through creative experimental fields, looking for their identity in the musical whirlwind of the late 60's. Although the album has different influences, it manage to stand at a high level, creating the foundations for their great forthcoming second release.

1. Prelude For Today - 0:44
2. Floating (Down By The River) (Robert Yeazel) - 3:53
3. Spaceman (Robert Yeazel) - 3:34
4. Alley Sam (I Feel A Change) (Robert Yeazel) - 3:12
5. Goin'downtown (Robert Yeazel, Ken Passarelli, David Raines) - 1:55
6. Listen (Robert Yeazel, Ken Passarelli, David Raines) - 2:57
...Cannabis Sativa L (Robert Yeazel) -
7. Ev'ry Man Hears Different Music (Robert Yeazel, Gerry Fike) - 3:40
8. Love Like (David Raines) - 2:43
9. Dear Ruth (David Raines) - 2:07
10.When We Rise (Robert Yeazel, Michael Kerns, Roger Bryant) - 2:30
11.(Strange Places Like) Santo Domingo (Robert Yeazel) - 6:37
12.On My Way (David Raines) - 2:42
13.Treat Her Right (Roy Head) - 1:55
14.Wow Wow (Robert Yeazel, Ken Passarelli) - 0:51

David Raines - Lead Singer
Robert Yeazel - Lead Guitar
Gerry Fike - Organ
Larry Ferris - Drums
Michael Kerns - Flute, Saxophones
Ken Passarelli - Bass, Harmonica
Dominick Todero - Trumpet

1970  Beast - Beast (2013 Flawed Gems issue)
Related Acts
1972-73  Diamondhead - Diamondhead

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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Windflower - Windflower (1974 us, heavenly ethereal prog folk with jazzy shades)

Band formed in Alaska in late 1972. All members belonged to the Baha'i Faith and many of the gigs the group played were associated with Baha'i community events.

Windflower recorded one album of original material in 1973 at Studio 70 in Munich, West Germany, during a European tour (also associated primarily with Baha'i events at the time) which included performances in Germany, England, Austria, Lichtenstein, Switzerland, Israel, Norway and Finland. The album was privately pressed and released in early 1974.

Prior to returning to Alaska and retiring from professional music, the group also performed at various venues in Oklahoma, Hawaii. Band members including Gary Lamar, Marshall Murphy, and Gavin Reed, along with vocalist Barbara Taylor, performed casual gigs for a number of years, based out of Anchorage, Alaska, while they were all resident there, until the mid-1990's. 
by Gavin Reed 

1. Headed For The Country - 4:22
2. You Know It Ain't Often - 4:23
3. Children Of The Loom - 5:13
4. Remover Of Difficulties - 3:40
5. Marriage Of Two Minds - 4:36
6. God Is Passing By - 3:00
7. Wind Dance - 7:01
8. Back To The Calling Of Home - 3:55
9. Song Celestial - 4:47
All compositions by Victor Wong, David Rychetnik, Gary Lamar, Gavin Reed, Marshall Murphy.

*Victor Wong - Vocals, Keyboards,Mellotron, Acoustic Guitar, Bass
*David Rychetnik - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Flutes
*Gary Lamar - Vocals, Acoustic And Electric Guitar, Bass, Mandolin
*Gavin Reed - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Bass, Mandolin
*Marshall Murphy - Vocals, Percussion
*Kitty Wong - Vocals, Percussion
*Zonettah Varley - Vocals, Percussion

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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Wool - Wool (1969 us, splendid psych rock with funky sunny rays, 2006 remaster)

This 1969 release by Watertown, New York’s Wool proves that even when you have strong talent and all the right connections, sometimes it still isn’t enough to get your band to break.

The group formed in the early ’60s, and were originally known as Ed Wool and The Nomads.  Ed Wool, who was a master guitar prodigy and excellent songwriter, was influenced early on by the new British Invasion sound and later on by the cream-of-the-crop of soul/R&B.  Ed Wool and The Nomads were huge in the mid-60s’ thriving Northern/Upstate New York music scene, even sharing the stage with bands such as Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels, The (Young) Rascals, and The Rolling Stones.  In 1966, Ed and The Nomads scored a recording contract with RCA Victor and made one single, “I Need Somebody” b/w “Please, Please, Please,” which flopped.  

Several line-up changes ensued as the ’60s progressed, but with Ed Wool still as the main focal point. The group was known as “The Sure Cure” for a brief amount of time, releasing the Feldman/Goldstein/Gottehrer penned “I Wanna Do It” for the Cameo-Parkway label, which also flopped.  Next, as “The Pineapple Heard,” Ed’s group even had the chance to be the first group to record the Boyce & Hart tune “Valleri” in 1967, a year before The Monkees had a hit with it.  That single, released on the tiny Diamond label, again, flopped.  Starting circa 1968, Ed Wool finally settled with a new and final line-up, which included his younger sister Claudia on vocals, and began going by the simple, unique name “Wool.”  The group traveled to New York City and began laying down tracks for their lone eponymous album for ABC Records.

This time around, the group managed to establish a songwriting connection with Neil Diamond, and had folk/pop songwriter and musician Margo Guryan at the helm for production help.  Surely, this should’ve been a recipe for success. Unfortunately, the album went virtually unnoticed nationally, and scored at the very bottom of the Billboard Top 200.  In Upstate/Northern NY, the album was a hit, with several of the tunes being played constantly on local radio stations.  Although it was largely unknown, one can assume that a lack of promotion from ABC Records was likely to blame for the album not being a hit.  It’s a shame, because the music contained on the album is downright good, with even some moments of greatness.

The album is a super tight blend of psych-rock, pop, and funk.  The album’s biggest highlight, a cover of Big Brother & The Holding Company’s “Combination Of The Two” absolutely blows the original out of the water in every aspect. Both the music and vocals make Big Brother’s version sound…dare I say…weak?!  One should especially pay attention to the wild vocals of Claudia Wool and the jaw-dropping fuzzy bass solo, courtesy of Ed Barrella.  The second highlight of the album is an Ed Wool original, entitled “If They Left Us Alone Now.”  A stark piece of psych-pop balladry, the tune belonged in the Top 40.  The Neil Diamond-penned “The Boy With The Green Eyes” also had hit written all over it.  Their cover of “Any Way That You Want Me,” which was better known by The Troggs, The Liverpool Five, and later Evie Sands, may be the best recorded version.  The album closes with the nine-and-a-half minute cover of Buffalo, NY’s Dyke & The Blazers’ “Funky Walk” and perfectly showcases Ed Wool’s superb guitar chops.

After Wool released this album, they recorded a handful of singles for Columbia (yet another major label!), all of which fell upon deaf ears.  Ed Wool is now based in Albany, NY playing blues-rock with a new line-up.  Wool reunited in 2007 for a concert at the famous Bonnie Castle Resort in Alexandria Bay, NY playing some of their old ’60s songs.  As for this album, it was definitely Wool at their peak of creativity. Wool has become a cult classic of sorts, and can be a bit pricey on eBay.  Luckily, in 2006, the UK’s Delay 68 label reissued a remastered version of the album on CD with plenty of photographs and liner notes, and is available for purchase on Amazon.  If you have the extra cash, pick this little gem up.  It will not disappoint the average ’60s rock fanatic.
by Katie Kanitz 

1. Love, Love, Love, Love, Love (John Hill, Don Cochrane) -3:14
2. Combination Of The Two (Sam Andrew) - 3:05
3. If They Left Us Alone Now (Ed Wool) - 3:36
4. To Kingdom Come (J. R. Robertson) - 2:28
5. I Don't Like You Anymore (Ed Wool) - 2:55
6. Any Way That You Want Me (Chip Taylor) - 4:07
7. It Was Such A Lovely Night (Loving You Tonight) (Ed Wool) - 2:20
8. The Boy With The Green Eyes (Neil Diamond) - 3:35
9. Funky Walk (Lester Christian) - 9:40

*Ed Wool - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Claudia Wool - Vocals, Percussion
*Ed Barrella - Bass
*Tom Haskell - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
*Peter Lulls - Drums

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