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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.


Saturday, November 29, 2014

Judee Sill - Heart Food (1973 us, wondrous folk with baroque and prog touches, 2013 japan remaster)

Judee Sill was a singer-songwriter from the West Coast, who recorded two remarkable albums in the early 1970s, before drifting off into obscurity and dying of drug use in 1979. Her output was necessarily limited: Judee Sill was released in 1971, followed by Heart Food in 1973. 

Still’s most famous song undoubtedly is “Jesus Was a Crossmaker,” a mysterious tale about sweet silver angels hovering over the sea while our Lord is hunting the Devil with a pistol by his side. Apart from the imaginative lyrics, the song also shows Sill’s ear for striking melodies, with unexpected leaps in pitch that somehow manage to make perfect sense.

There’s a strong religious strain in Sill’s music. Part of a long tradition that stretches from the Song of Solomon to Dante to Leonard Cohen, Sill blends religious with romantic images. Perhaps her most beautiful song, “The Kiss,” is a good example, with its focus on the “sweet communion of a kiss.” “The Kiss” also shows how daring she could be harmonically, with a stunning modulation in the bridges.

Some have compared Judee Sill to Nick Drake. Maybe there’s a resemblance in their understated singing style (Sill never uses vibrato), gently flowing tunes with poetic lyrics, and finger-picking/piano music accompanied by orchestral instruments. Yet it seems to me that Nick Drake was always reaching further inward, whereas Sill is desperately trying, sometimes failing, sometimes gloriously succeeding, to reach out.

Heart Food fittingly concludes with “The Donor,” a stunning tapestry of interwoven voices. Beginning with a simple piano melody, an angelic choir of voices soon takes over, with vocal lines branching out in all directions. Sill has the rare ability to turn great sorrow and despair into music of a transcendent beauty. Her final requiem climaxes in an outcry that sums up the religious intensity of her brief but unforgettable career in music: “Kyrie eleison! (Lord have mercy!).”
by Kasper Nijsen

1. There's A Rugged Road - 3:44
2. The Kiss - 4:36
3. The Pearl - 1:55
4. Down Where The Valleys Are Low - 3:52
5. The Vigilante - 3:50
6. Soldier Of The Heart - 3:34
7. The Phoenix - 2:37
8. When The Bridegroom Comes (lyrics David Omer Bearden) - 4:14
9. The Donor - 9:12
All compositions by Judee Sill 

*Judee Sill - Vocals, Guitar, Piano
*David Bearden
*Lynn Blessing
*Gene Cipriano
*Vincent Derosa
*Doug Dillard
*Oma Drake
*Assa Drori
*Jesse Ehrlich
*Buddy Emmons
*Chris Ethridge
*Ronald Folsom
*Harris Goldman
*James Gordon
*Jim Gordon
*Bobbye Hall
*Gloria Jones
*Ray Kelly
*Bill Kurasch
*Leonard Malarsky
*Spooner Oldham
*Richard Perissi
*Bill Plummer
*Emil Richards
*Ralph Schaeffer
*David Schwartz
*Louie Shekton
*Carolyn Willis
*Tibor Zelig

1971  Judee Sill - Judee Sill (2013 Japan remaster) 
1969-74  Tommy Peltier Feat. Judee Sill - Chariot Of Astral Light

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Open Road - Windy Daze (1971-72 uk, fantastic folk soft rock with prog shades, japan remaster and expanded)

This short-lived quartet took their name from a 1970 album by singer-songwriter Donovan. When the group left Donovan for an independent career. Windy Daze continued the direction already pursued with their erstwhile mentor.

Produced by legendary rock producer, Tony Reeves (ex-Colosseum bassist), Open Road were the very first progressive group to be signed to the Greenwich Gramophone Company (a subsidiary of Chapter One Records) in 1971. 

Their music reflects feelings of anti-establishment prevalent amongst the young at that time, and was quite visionary in its approach. The members of the band consist of 'Candy' John Carr - Drums, Percussion and Vocals. Barry Husband - Acoustic and Lead Guitar, Bass and Vocals. Simon Lanzon - Keyboards, Piano, Accordion and Vocals and Mike Thomson - Bass, 12 String Guitar and Vocals. 

1. Mother Earth (John Carr) - 5:13
2. Secret Of Life (Barry Husband) - 4:33
3. She's My Sister (Mike Thompson) - 2:46
4. Mystic Woman (John Carr) - 5:28
5. Sweet Liquor Woman (Mike Thompson) - 3:59
6. Waterwheel (Barry Husband, Simon Lanzon) - 3:56
7. Boy, You've Got The Sun In Your Eyes (Barry Husband) - 5:21
8. Shimmers Of Sound (Barry Husband, G. Griffith, Simon Lanzon) - 6:52
9. Swamp Fever (John Carr) - 3:40
10.Lost And Found (John Carr) - 4:17

Open Road
*Mike Thompson - Bass, 12 String Guitar, Vocals
*John Carr - Drums, Percussion, Vocals
*Barry Husband - Lead Guitar, Bass, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
*Simon Lanzon - Keyboards, Piano, Accordion, Vocals

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Association - And Then...Along Comes (1966 us, beautiful sunny psych with folk tinges, 2013 japan remaster)

With the two smashes "Along Comes Mary" and "Cherish," the Association became one of the hottest new bands of 1966, the singles charting at #7 and #1 respectively. It was no surprise that their debut album, featuring both of those songs, was also a big success, rising to #5 and remaining their highest-charting LP ever, with the exception of their Greatest Hits compilation. The record also gave the Association the chance to showcase their versatility on material penned by both group members and outside songwriters, their complex multi-part vocal harmonies being the greatest unifying factor.

And Then...Along Comes the Association was actually preceded by a few singles as the group struggled to establish themselves as a commercial force. Covers of "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" and Bob Dylan's "One Too Many Mornings," both in 1965, were very much in the folk-rock style that had become a craze with the emergence of the Byrds and their chart-topping cover of Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man" in the middle of that year. With "Along Comes Mary," the group moved toward a more pop-rock sound, aided by a dynamite tune from non-member Tandyn Almer, and a new producer, Curt Boettcher.

Boettcher was himself making a transition from the folk scene, in which he'd performed as part of the Goldebriars (who released a couple of albums on Epic), to pop-rock. He was already familiar with the Association when he played on a demo of "Along Comes Mary" with the group's lead guitarist, Jules Alexander, who enthusiastically pitched the song to the rest of the band. "When we first started, Jules was not officially designated, but he was more or less the musical director," remembers rhythm guitarist and keyboardist Jim Yester. "'Cause he had been in a couple rock bands before, he had a lot better handle on harmonic structure, and was obviously the best guitar player. He, a lot of times, would line out vocal parts. He'd sit down and figure it out on the guitar and say, 'Okay, you sing this, you sing that.' And then we'd adapt it, and somebody'd say, 'Well, listen. How about this note instead?' But basically things started with Jules."

When Alexander brought a tape of the demo of "Along Comes Mary" home, Jim continues, "He says, 'Listen to this song, we gotta try this.' And he said, 'Jim, why don't you sing it?' It was very casual. 'We need a high voice.' 'Cause on the demo, Curt sang it, and Curt's a real high tenor as well. I think the only thing that was roughly the same was that vamp line -- that was Tandyn's whole trip. That and the chord changes. But it was just one single voice."

With its dynamic interplay between Yester's lead and the rest of the band's vocal harmonies, as well as an intriguing lyric that jammed about as many syllables as were possible to fit into individual lines of a pop song in 1966, the song took a few months to catch on nationally. By the time it did break into the Top Ten in the summer, And Then...Along Comes the Association was ready to capitalize on it. In fact, however, work on the tracks that ended up on the LP had begun some time before, when Boettcher produced five cuts with the group in Gary Paxton's Homewood Studios. Aside from "Along Comes Mary," these sessions yielded its B-side, "Your Own Love," and two other tracks that ended up on the album, "Remember" and "I'll Be Your Man" (the fifth, "Better Times," remained unissued until 2002).

The Association's "One Too Many Mornings" single had been produced by Barry DeVorzon, the president of their label, Valiant Records. But as Yester explains, "After the thing with Barry producing didn't work out, we begged him to let our friend Curt produce us. And he finally condescended, but with the stipulation that we use some studio musicians. So we did a combination of studio musicians and us. But they did the basic tracks, and then we did a lot of the sweetening and the lead guitar stuff, things like that."

As the Association's harmonies were along the lines of the sophisticated vocal arrangements used by Boettcher's former group the Goldebriars, and his future ensemble the Millennium, "it was a good match in that respect," concurs Jim. "We were very harmonically involved, and Curt was too. Also, he was very aware of the MFQ [the Modern Folk Quartet], which was my brother's [Jerry's] group. We were all into the MFQ; a lot of groups went to school on the MFQ in L.A. Everybody else made it, and they didn't. It's very bizarre." (Both 1960s albums by the Modern Folk Quartet, who also used sophisticated harmonies blending elements of pop, folk, and jazz, have also been reissued on CD by Collectors' Choice Music.)

The decision to make "Along Comes Mary" the single was, in a sense, ordained. "There was three or four of us that were involved with [the religious faith] Subud at that time," says Yester. "Roger McGuinn was also in it, [and] Cyrus Faryar from the MFQ. We convinced the record company that we were gonna take the five songs we recorded, and the elders of Subud did this thing called testing, where you would tell them the name of a song, and then they would kind of meditate and tell you yay or nay. We did that, and the two strongest reactions we got were from 'Along Comes Mary' and 'Your Own Love.' Actually, 'Your Own Love' got the strongest reaction from them. That song I wrote after I was in Subud for a while, that's kind of where it was coming from, so for me, that's why that reaction was [so positive]. But that's why those two songs were the first release. Then we went back to the record company and said, 'Okay, these are the two.' And they said, 'Okay.'"

To fill out the album, the group would record more material in a different studio, which like the first was run by noted producer, engineer, performer, songwriter, and general musical jack-of-all-trades Gary Paxton. "The first one [Homewood Studios], where we did the basics, the studio was an old garage, and the booth was in an old Greyhound bus," laughs Yester. "His second studio [G.S.P.], the studio was the downstairs, like the living room and dining room of a house, and the studio was in a bathroom upstairs. Very bizarre. But it had great sound." In addition, vocals were recorded at a more traditional Hollywood facility, Columbia Recording Studios.

Among the top sessions musicians in the support cast were guitarist Mike Deasy (who'd go on to play on other Association albums, as well as writing a song on their Insight Out LP), bassist Jerry Scheff, and percussionists Jim Troxel and Toxey French, with Boettcher contributing tone generator/oscillator. "Curt was very into a lot of outside instruments, and we were very up for experimentation, so we used a lot of different things," remarks Yester. "In fact, we were one of the first to sync two four-tracks  together to make an eight-track, using a VSO, variable speed oscillator, to match the speeds of the two tape machines. But by the time we went to finish the first album, Scully came out with the eight-track. When we were working at Columbia Studio A, that's what we were using."

As for the material selected for the album, as Yester notes, "most of those songs we'd been doing in concert for about a year or so anyway."  The Association LPs would feature a remarkably even spread of songwriting credits among the members, and all six save Brian Cole wrote or co-wrote material on And Then...Along Comes the Association. At this point Jules Alexander (then still performing under the name Gary Alexander, as he would until 1968) and singer-multi-instrumentalist Terry Kirkman "were probably a little more prolific," adds Jim. "But most of the time everybody had at least one or two songs on the album. We tried to have everybody included. We had a publishing deal where everybody shared in everybody else's publishing. It was very clever. We actually had [a] publishing deal before we had a record deal. Because we auditioned for Capitol, and they didn't sign us, but they wouldn't let us out of the building until we gave them a meeting with [the] head of their publishing. 'Cause they couldn't believe a group with six guys, and everybody wrote. And they were pretty decent songs."

The group did cover a couple of songs from outside sources on the album. "Don't Blame It on Me" was written by brothers Don and Dick Addrisi, who penned the massive 1967 Association hit "Never My Love." "Blistered" (later a hit for Johnny Cash) came from Billy Ed Wheeler, also known for writing the folk-rock classic "High Flying Bird," co-writing the Kingston Trio's hit "The Reverend Mr. Black," and co-writing "Jackson" (hit duets for the teams of Johnny Cash & June Carter and Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazelwood), as well as scoring a big country hit on his own with "Ode to the Little Brown Shack Out Back." The second big hit off the LP, however, would be a Terry Kirkman original, though it wasn't even planned as the follow-up to "Along Comes Mary."

As Yester tells it, "We were going to release 'Enter the Young.' The version that I remember was a DJ from Ohio started playing 'Cherish' off of the album, and it went right up the charts in his area. Either the record company said, 'wait a minute, let's rethink this,' or the other version is, [Association manager Patrick] Colecchio convinced the record company to release 'Cherish' instead." It was a wise decision; on September 24, 1966, the single began a three-week run as the #1 song in the nation.
by Richie Unterberger

1. Enter the Young (Terry Kirkman) - 2:04
2. Your Own Love (Jules Alexander, Jim Yester) - 2:02
3. Don't Blame It on Me (Don Addrisi, Dick Addrisi) - 2:03
4. Blistered (Billy Edd Wheeler) - 1:05
5. I'll Be Your Man (Russ Giguere) - 2:04
6. Along Comes Mary (Tandyn Almer) - 2:05
7. Cherish (Terry Kirkman) - 3:02
8. Standing Still (Ted Bluechel) - 2:04
9. Message of Our Love (Tandyn Almer, Curt Boettcher) - 4:00
10.Round Again (Jules Alexander) - 1:05
11.Remember (Jules Alexander) - 2:03
12.Changes (Jules Alexander) - 2:03

The Association
*Russ Giguere - Vocals, Guitar
*Brian Cole - Vocals, Bass
*Terry Kirkman - Vocals, Brass, Woodwinds
*Jim Yester - Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards
*Gary Alexander - Vocals, Guitar
*Ted Bluechel Jr - Vocals, Drums
*Jerry Scheff - Bass

1968  The Association - Birthday (2013 Japan remaster) 
Related Artist
1966  Tandyn Almer - Along Comes Tandyn (2013 digipack release)

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Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Bossmen - Personally Yours The Complete Anthology (1965-66 us, fantastic garage beat psych, 2014 release)

A treasure trove of rare mid 60s garage rock from the state of Michigan – the complete anthology of local legends The Bossmen! MI was soon to become a breeding ground for some of the most revolutionary rock of the 60s – and while The Bossmen aren't best remembered rockers of the region all these decades later – they really helped lay the groundwork! There's a raw edge, but a melodic style here that's quintessential 60s rock, if you ask us. Guitarist Dick Wagner would go on to play with fellow Michigan rock trailblazer Alice Cooper and other legends, but this earlier work with The Bossmen is really solid, and sounds great all these years later.
Dusty Groove

“I look back on the days of The Bossmen with a sort of reverence. These were my first days of recording my own original songs, entering the concert scene and learning the basic trials of making it in the music business. I get chills even today just thinking back on the two or three block line that formed every time we played our home town venue, Daniel’s Den. The Bossmen were the heroes and purveyors of the primal Rock energy for that angelic group of screaming youth. MAN… those were the days!” —Your Boss man, Dick Wagner
Dick Wagner (R.I.P. December 14, 1942 – July 30, 2014)

1. Take A Look - 1:58
2. It's A Shame - 2:39
3. Thanks To You - 2:44
4. Help Me Baby - 2:47
5. Here's Congratulations - 2:50
6. Bad Girl - 2:27
7. Wait And See - 2:46
8. You're The Girl For Me - 2:04
9. On The Road - 2:45
10.Tina Maria - 2:41
11.Baby Boy - 2:11
12.You And I - 2:08
13.Rainy Day - 2:59
14.Sunshine - 3:16
15.Little Girl - 2:25
16.Easy Way Out - 2:14
17.I Cannot Stop You - 2:44
18.Listen My Girl - 2:30

The Bossmen
*Dick Wagner - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Lanny Roenicke - Bass Guitar, Vocals, Trumpet
*Warren Keith - Piano, Vocals
*Pete Woodman - Drums

1969  The Frost - Frost Music
1969  The Frost - Rock and Roll Music
1970  The Frost - Through The Eyes Of Love

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Fat Water - Fat Water (1969 us, fine psych with west coast breeze)

From Chicago, a mix of psych and heavy rock, with good organ and guitars plus the powerful voice of their singer, who was probably influenced by Janis Joplin. This outfit reportedly evolved out of The One Eyed Jacks from Champaign, Illinois.

The vocals are very much of the San Francisco scene of that time and bring the Airplane's Grace Slick immediately to mind. Musically, the vocals are matched with acoustic guitars and swirling organ which gives a country rock feel that flows easily from full tilt boogie to slow blues.
Stephane Rebeschini, Max Waller, Nick Kontogouris

1. I Can Be Happy (Lance Massey) - 2:51
2. Joshua (Steve Sperry) - 4:18
3. Amalynda Guinevere (Lance Massey) - 2:03
4. Gimme Your Sweet (Boris Schneider) - 2:20
5. Guitar Store Song (Lance Massey) - 0:56
6. Only For The Moment (Boris Schneider) - 3:11
7. It’s Not The Same (Lance Massey) - 3:10
8. Wayback (Lance Massey) - 1:31
9. Waiting For Mary (Boris Schneider) - 4:10
10.Mistress De Charmaign (Boris Schneider) - 3:05
11.Santa Anna Speed Queen (Boris Schneider) - 2:07
12.Gotta Get Together (Lance Massey) - 3:19

Fat Water
*Boris Schneider - Bass, Vocals
*Eve – Keyboards
*Lance Massey - Guitar, Vocals
*Pete Millio - Drums, Vocals
*Vicki Hubley - Vocalss

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Friday, November 7, 2014

Memphis Slim And Canned Heat With Memphis Horns - Memphis Heat (1970/73 us, outstanding electric blues rock, 2004 digi pack extra tracks issue)

Memphis Heat documents Chicago blues piano legend Memphis Slim's studio collaborations with the rock group Canned Heat in France on September 18, 1970, and July 11, 1973. The results are tasty indeed. Slim's voice and piano are well matched by Henry Vestine's electric guitar, Canned Heat's rockin' rhythm section, and (on six out of 13 tracks) the Memphis Horns, a solid wind quintet of trumpet, trombone, two tenors, and a baritone sax. Memphis Slim tried on a lot of different styles and instrumental combinations during the 1970s. 

His Canned Heat sessions have been both praised and panned over the years, a state of affairs that often revealed more about the reviewers than the music itself. A fair assessment should take into account the blues and rock scene of the early '70s, the pianist's artistic intentions as he capped a long and eventful career, and perhaps most importantly the positive effect that this music is likely to have upon any listener who loves a good jumpin' electric blues band. 
by Arwulf

1. When I Were Young - 2:43
2. Whizzle - 1:44
3. Boogie Duo - 3:01
4. Black Cat - 3:04
5. Down That Big Road - 3:02
6. Mr Longfinger - 7:03
7. Mother Earth - 3:15
8. You Dont Know My Mind - 6:29
9. Five Long Years (Eddie Boyd) - 5:05
10.Trouble Everwhere I Go - 3:50
11.Paris - 2:14
12.Five Long Years (Alternate) (Eddie Boyd) - 7:29
13.Menphis Heat - 3:55
All songs by Peter Chatman except where stated.

*Memphis Slim - Vocals, Piano
*Richard Hite - Bass
*Alfredo De La Barreta - Bass
*Adolfo "Pito" De La Parra - Drums
*Henry Vestine - Guitar
*James Shane - Guitar
*Joel Scott Hill - Vocals, Guitar
*Andrew Love - Tenor Saxophone
*Ed Logan - Tenor Saxophone
*Jack Hale - Trombone
*James Mitchell - Baritone Saxophone
*Wayne Jackson - Trumpet

1967-73  Canned Heat - The Very Best Of
1968  Canned Heat - Livin The Blues (Akarma edition)
1971  John Lee Hooker And Canned Heat - Hooker 'N' Heat

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Saturday, November 1, 2014

Paul Butterfield's Better Days - Live At Winterland Ballroom (1973 us, superb tight blues rock, 2014 issue)

Heady work from Paul Butterfield's second great group – his mighty Better Days ensemble, heard here in a nicely unbridled live set from the early 70s! Paul himself is mighty great on vocals and harmonica – but the group's a very cohesive unit, too – with additional vocals and guitar from Amos Garrett and Geoff Muldaur, organ and piano from Ronnie Barron, and some mighty heavy drums from Billy Rich! The music seems to have even more punch than on some of Butterfield's studio sessions – blues rock, but with a little something extra

1. (Stuck In The) Countryside - 8:10
2. Buried Alive In The Blues (Nick Gravenites) - 3:48
3. Small Town Talk (Bobby Charles, Rick Danko) - 5:21
4. New Walkin Blues (Robert Johnson) - 6:18
5. Broke My Baby's Heart (Ronnie Barron) - 7:18
6. Highway 28 (Rod Hicks) - 4:41
7. Please Send Me Someone To Love (Percy Mayfield) - 5:21
8. He's Got All The Whiskey (Bobby Charles) - 14:11
9. Nobody's Fault But Mine (Nina Simone) - 7:57

Better Days
*Paul Butterfield - Vocals, Harmonica, Keyboards
*Geoff Muldaur - Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards
*Amos Garrett - Electric Guitar, Vocal
*Ronnie Barron - Vocals, Piano, Organ
*Billy Rich - Bass
*Christopher Parker - Drums

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 
1970  Live Vol.2 
1971  Sometimes I Just Feel Like Smilin' (2015 Release)
1973  Paul Butterfield's Better Days
1973  It All Comes Back (Japan Edition)
1976  Put It In Your Ear (2015 Edition)

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