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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Underdogs - Blues Band And Beyond / Sitting In The Rain (1967-69 new zealand, excellent rough blues rock)

The group was originally started in 1964 by blues fanatic Archie Bowie and guitarist Harvey Mann, both from Mt Maunganui but based in Auckland. They were a hard-core blues band playing mainly traditional American negro blues, which was a brave move in Beatles-obsessed New Zealand. This early incarnation of The Underdogs was the band without an audience. Tthey had to wait for the prevailing British rhythm and blues explosion to gain an audience in New Zealand, and in The Underdogs eyes, save us all from a world of continuous yeah yeah yeahs.

The British R&B invasion spearheaded by the likes of The Yardbirds, John Mayall and The Rolling Stones took hold and The Underdogs Blues Band soon flourished, as New Zealand quickly became a stronghold of the British style of R&B. The Underdogs were a tight musical unit and soon found themselves playing in some of the inner city dances and clubs. Musical divisions within the group started to surface over musical direction, which resulted in group leader and guitarist Harvey Mann taking drastic steps to ensure that his band all travelled in the same direction together. Harvey asked Murray Grindlay if he would like to join The Underdogs as he had just fired Mick Sibley, their singer, who had taken over from Archie Bowie. Drummer Ian Thomson stayed a while then left in protest while rhythm guitarist Tony Rawnsley found himself being replaced by his brother Lou. Thomson later moved to The Brew.

After the dust had settled, there emerged a new Underdogs incarnation that would become the most enduring and best known line-up, with original members Harvey Mann (guitar) and Neil Edwards (bass) now joined by Murray Grindlay (vocals), Lou Rawnsley (rhythm guitar) and Tony Walton (drums). Without missing a beat and using the recently released John Mayall and Eric Clapton Bluesbreakers album as their blueprint the new Underdogs settled in to a Galaxie residency late in 1966 where they played alongside The La De Da’s, The Action and The Pleazers.

Eldred Stebbing signed The Underdogs to his Zodiac label. The first single ‘See Saw’/‘Looking Back’ was released in early 1967, with the A-side, ‘See Saw’ showing a slight shift in direction from their blues roots into a more soulful direction. As Murray Grindlay explains, “we started [recording] closer to what The La De Da's were playing, which was a mixture of soul and British R&B, which was a lot more commercial than the hard core blues that that the previous Underdogs line-up had played.”  Later in the year the single would be chosen as a finalist in the 1967 Loxene Golden Disc Awards.

Shortly after the release of ‘Sitting In The Rain’, group leader Harvey Mann left the group, also to join The Brew (with Ian Thomson). Miffed that Harvey had left, the remaining members decided not to replace him, to show that they didn't really need him and carried on as a four-piece. Late in 1967 work started on their debut album, which included a cover of the Donovan song ‘Hey Gyp’ that became their next single and included possibly New Zealand’s first drum tape loop.

Edwards left after being kicked out halfway through the album recording sessions, as the group’s musical direction started to change yet again. Dave Orams joined the group on bass.  The group relocated to Wellington for a short period before returning to Auckland at year’s end. Early in 1968 Orams left to join Wellington group, Quincy Conserve and was replaced by George Barris.  

Shortly afterwards the group broke up. Tony Walton went on to join a new group Jigsaw that included as their lead singer, Glyn Mason who by year's end would leave Jigsaw to take over from Larry Morris in The Rebels. Chaz Burke Kennedy and George Barris were also members of Jigsaw.  Meanwhile Murray Grindlay and Harvey Mann joined The Australasian Blues Champions who rehearsed but never really got off the ground.  After little more than a month Murray and Harvey reformed the Underdogs in April 1968. Filling out this line-up was Lou Rawnsley and Doug Thomas on drums.

This line-up of the Underdogs managed to stay together for the rest of 1968. In early 1969 they released the single ‘There Will Come A Time’/‘Fine Jung Thing’. Lou Rawnsley left after the single’s release and was replaced by Chaz Burke-Kennedy from Jigsaw, but by late 1969 the group had disbanded again. Harvey Mann and Neil Edwards got together with Glen Absolum on drums in 1970 and yet again reformed the group. They released the 1971 Bob Gillett-produced album Wasting Our Time as Pig, Mann and Edwards for Pye Records before finally breaking up for good. In 2000 Ascension Records released the CD Blues Band and Beyond, which includes their entire Zodiac output, including their album, EP and singles.

1. Oh Pretty Woman (A.C. Williams, Albert King) - 3:26
2. Snowey Wood (John Mayall, Mick Taylor) - 3:06
3. Main Line Driver - 2:17
4. Mary Anne (Lou Rawnsley, Murray Grindley) - 1:59
5. Pauline - 3:07
6. Pretty Girls - 2:34
7. Yonder Wall (James Clark) - 3:45
8. All My Love (Otis Rush) - 3:39
9. Hey Gyp (Donovan) - 2:52
10.It Hurts Me Too (Traditional) - 3:14
11.Rubber Duck (Peter Green, Aunsley Dunbar) - 2:23
12.Cheating (Live) (Chas Chandler, Eric Burdon) / Everybody Needs Somebody (Bert Russell, Jerry Wexler, Solomon Burke) / Ride Your Pony - 4:02
13.See Saw (Irving Caesar, Don Covay, George Gershwin) - 2:37
14.Looking Back (Delaney Bramlett, Tony Joe White) - 2:11
15.Sitting In The Rain (John Mayall) - 3:08
16.Shortnin Bread (Traditional) - 2:50
17.Cheating (Live) (Chas Chandler, Eric Burdon) / Everybody Needs Somebody (Bert Russell, Jerry Wexler, Solomon Burke) - 6:47
18.There Will Come A Time (Frank Zappa) - 1:44
19.Fine Jung Thing (Mike Bloomfield) - 4:03

The Underdogs
*Harvey Mann - Lead Guitar
*Lou Rawnsley - Rhythm Guitar, Lead Guitar, Bass, Vocals
*Mick Sibley - Vocals
*Murray Grindley - Vocals
*Chaz Burke Kennedy - Guitar
*Ian Thompson - Drums
*Tony Walton - Drums
*Doug Thomas - Drums
*Neil Edwards - Bass
*Dave Orams - Bass

1970  The Underdogs - Wasting Our Time
Related Acts
1971  Human Instinct - Pins In It
1972  Human Instinct - Snatmin Cuthin
1971-75  Headband - The Headband Collection

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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Ginhouse - Ginhouse (1971 uk, great heavy prog rock)

Ginhouse were a trio from Newcastle consisting of Stewart Burlison (bass, vocals), Geoff Sharkey (guitar, vocals) and David Whitaker (drums). They only recorded one album. Although Ginhouse had a strong live performance at the time - they supported bands like Yes, The Who and Fleetwood Mac - this album appeared to be their swan song; they disbanded in 1972. The first reissue on CD dates from 1993 on Green Tree Records, but it failed to reach the office of Background Magazine. Thanks to Esoteric Recordings this recently remastered reissue gave me a second chance to discover the music of this band.

When you listen to this album forty years after it has been recorded you can say that it sounds rather outdated. However, I guess that isn't a problem as long as the compositions have something to say music wise. Well, this is certainly the case and I often wondered why this band never made it to the top. Not all pieces these musicians recorded for their sole effort can be regarded as progressive rock. Mainly songs as The Journey, Portrait Picture and Fair Stood The Wind drew my attention all the way. On these tracks the keyboard parts played by producer Anders Henriksson push the music of Ginhouse towards a musical style strongly related to In The Court Of The Crimson King (1969), the debut album by King Crimson. The combination of the lead vocals, which occasionally sound like the voice of Greg Lake, the acoustic guitar, organ and Mellotron flutes reminded me of several tracks from that album.

At the time Ginhouse were also influenced by the music of The Beatles which can be heard throughout the album. Therefore I wasn't really surprised to hear that they covered And I Love Her, one of the many Lennon & McCartney songs. They made a rather heavy version of this mellow acoustic song. Apart from the already mentioned influences I also heard touches of the hard rock scene that flourished in those days. Ginhouse's music isn't as heavy and loud as the music recorded by bands as Deep Purple or Black Sabbath, although the overall sound is clearly dominated by the electric guitars. Finally I heard some elements from psychedelic rock and folk music.
by Henri Strik

1. Tyne God - 5:33
2. I Cannot Understand - 4:19
3. The Journey - 5:57
4. Portrait Picture - 5:46
5. Fair Stood The Wind - 2:51
6. And I Love Her (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) - 3:12
7. Life - 4:30
8. The Morning After - 5:13
9. The House - 3:33
10.Sun In The Bottle - 5:16
All compositions by Geoff Sharkey except track #6

The Ginhouse
*Stewart Burlison - Bass Guitar, Vocals
*Dave Whitaker - Drums
*Geoff Sharkey - Lead Guitar, Vocals

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Downchild - Bootleg (1971 canada, spectacular blues brass rock, 2007 edition)

"The blues is good news” -Anon, Sure is. Especially when the men playing the blues are faithful to the music's tradition. And in this day of blues-tinged rock, that isn't always the way things work out. The blues, a music created out of gin and troubles by black men in gritty bars, is more likely in recent years to be something produced by shrill-voiced English boys who whip around formidable amplifiers and whose natural habitat is a huge concert halt or a shiny sixteen-track recording studio. 

So much for that good old authentic feeling. Which brings us to the Downchild Blues Band. They're white at! right - Toronto white. as a matter of fact - but in their case/ color is only skin deep. Their feel for the blues has a quality that reaches back to the simplicity and touch of the black men who started it all. No electronic barrages for Downchild. No John Mayall "blues extension." No fooling around with the basic form. Downchild - the name derives, appropriately, from a blues by Sonny Boy Williamson - comes across with nothing more than the essential fun and sadness of the blues, with, if you please, a lot of reverence for the real thing. Donnie Walsh, the band's leader, guitarist and harp man, put Downchild together in 1 969. 

He had a minimum of musical experience at the time, but he was inspired by his collection of ancient 78s and 45s, records that preserved the music of the great Chicago bluesmen. With a repertoire drawn from the likes of jimmy Reed and junior Wells, plus a few Walsh originals, Downchild went into a series of Toronto bars bearing names like Forbes and Grossman's and the Dovercourt. All you need to know, about those places is that they exhibit a certain grittiness perfectly appropriate to the blues.

Downchild doesn't play loud but it does play real, and word about the band reached out to a steadily growing and passionately devoted following. And today the band, getting tighter by the gig, works a steady round of bar dates and concerts that are the last word in frantic informality. Sounds authentic? Sure does; and so was the making of this record. That happened at Sound Horn, which happens to have its studio in the second basement parking garage under Rochdale College in Toronto. The music was recorded on two-track stereo and it was mixed as it came through the board. 

Given the all-round primitive circumstances of the enterprise, the sound is amazingly fine. There are a couple of reasons for that. One is that the engineers at Sound Horn brought as much love and patience to the venture as Downchild did. The second is that you just can't help coming up with something good and true when you play blues the way Downchild does. And, speaking of primitive, wasn't that the way Howiin' Wolf and Muddy Waters, those old blues masters, made their finest records? Yeah!!
by Jack Batten

1. Rock It (Don Walsh) - 3:58
2. Just A Little Bit (Roscoe Gordon) - 3:06
3. Down In Virginia (Jimmy Reed, Ewart Abner) - 3:36
4. That’s All Right (Jimmy Rodgers) - 4:55
5. Messin’ With The Kid (Mel London) - 3:23
6. Don’t You Bother My Baby (Don Walsh) - 4:07
7. Change My Way Of Livin’ (Taj Mahal) - 5:09
8. You Don’t Have To Go (Jimmy Reed) - 3:08
9. Next Time You See Me (Earl Forest, William G. Harvey) - 2:52
10.I’m Sinkin’ (Don Walsh, Rick Walsh) - 3:02

The Downchild
*Don Walsh - Guitar
*Rick (The Hock) Walsh - Vocals
*Jim Milne - Bass
*Cash Wall - Drums
*Dave Woodward - Tenor Saxophone
*Ron Jacobs – Tenor, Baritone Saxophones

1973  Downchild Blues Band ‎- Straight Up (Vinyl edition)

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Witness Inc. ‎- The Singles (1966-69 canada, fabulous garage psych beat, 2009 issue)

Saskatoon's Witness Inc. was formed in 1967 by singer Kenny Shields with high school friends Les Bateman on organ, Ed Clynton on guitars, bassist Allan Ayers, and drummer Dave Tupper. But before long Bob Walker had replaced Ayers and Derry Stewart had replaced Clynton. The band continued playing the prairie circuit when they caught the attention of Apex Records executives. They were taken to a local studio where they recorded several tracks to fuel their tours.

"I'll Forget Her Tomorrow," backed with "Girl Before You Go" were light-hearted pseudo-psychadelic numbers that did better than the follow-up "Jezebel," which featured "Not You Girl" as the b-side. Two more singles were released a year later, psychadelic covers of the Motown classics "Harlem Lady" b/w a haunting version of "I Put A Spell On You," and "Visions Of Vanessa" b/w "Another Side Of Her." Throughout the band's recording days, the only constants were Shields as the frontman and Bateman on organ. The revolving door continued, and the lineup featured Craig Kaleal replacing Tupper on drums, Bruce Dagenhardt briefly replacing Walker on bass, only to see Walker back in seemingly overnight. Steve Boddington replaced Stewart on guitars, only to see Stewart come back.

By 1969 the band was Shields, Bateman, Bruce Dagenhardt, Derry Stewart, and Bob Ego on drums. They recorded a cover of Allan Ayers' "So Come With Me" and "I've Got To Go" that year, but still only managed limited success outside the prairies and central Canada, although they did make a couple of trips to the east coast. Following a devastating car accident that fall that nearly claimed his life, Shields quit the band while undergoing extensive therapy and rehab. The band carried on, replacing him with Greg DeLaronde early in 1970. He too was replaced before long by Arnie Guzyk, who was also shown the door practically overnight. Meanwhile Don Johnson had been added as a second guitarist, and original guitarist Stewart was replaced by Terry Thomas.

Bateman, Ego and Walker relocated to Edmonton, where they hooked up with vocalist Ed Kilbride. They added Larry Chalmers and Bill Hardie on guitars, but other than a few appearances on a CTV variety show eminating from Calgary and Edmonton, failed to make a go of it. Confused yet? So was everyone else, and the band unofficially called it quits in early '71.

In 1975, Shields was back and reformed the band he'd started. This time the lineup was totally revamped, with only him as a returning member. The new twin-guitar attack featured Bob Deutscher and George Martin, Ken Sinnaeve was brought in on bass, Kaleal was brought back on the skins, and Daryl Gutheil was the new keyboardist. Before long though Shields got back in touch with Ego, who replaced Kaleal as the drummer. But times had changed, musical tastes in the buying public had changed with them, and Shields was unable to recapture the magic. He soon closed the book on Witness Inc, and formed Streetheart in 1976, which also featured Sinnaeve and Gutheil. Ego would go on to join Painter, Paul Hann and Mavis McCauley (ex of One Horse Blue) and do session work for a number of performers. He then reunited with Shields et al in Streetheart in 1979.

1. I'll Forget Her Tomorrow (Tommy Kaye, B. Wagman) - 2:06
2. Girl Before You Go (Dennis Tremmeer) - 2:08
3. Jezebel (Wayne Shanklin) - 3:14
4. Not You Girl (Ed Clynton) - 1:48
5. Harlem Lady (David McWilliams) - 3:12
6. I Put A Spell On You (Jay Hawkins) - 3:24
7. Visions Of Vanessa (Allan Ayers) - 3:40
8. Another Side Of Her (Allan Ayers) - 3:43
9. So Come With Me (Brass Version) (Allan Ayers) - 2:40
10.I've Got To Go (Kenny Shields, Allan Ayers) - 3:01
11.So Come With Me (Allan Ayers) - 2:38

The Witness Incorporation
*Les Bateman - Keyboards
*Ed Clynton - Guitar
*Dennis Tremeer - Bass
*Craig Kaleal - Drums
*Kenny Shields - Vocals
*Allan Ayers - Bass
*Dave Tupper - Drums

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Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Standells - The Hot Ones (1966-67 us, fantastic blend of garage folk psych beat, rare out of print issue)

Sure, part of it's being famous and making money and who doesn't like that? But these four guys honestly dig their music, their performances, their recordings - yes, their fans, too. They enjoy being a group. As a result, they have a rapport that's a little rare in show business, where ambitions and egos often get in the way and blow relationships. You might hear one of these guys singing lead on one song and another on the next. They do whatever s best for the arrangement and they're happy that way.

It's nice for the Standells; it's nice for their audiences, too. Or, to repeat an old proverb: "Sometimes good guys don't wear white; they just get along! Well, that's what makes the Standells' recordings of the Hot Ones so Hot! They've taken the big hits, like the Monkees' Last Train to Clarksville; Donovan's Sunshine Superman; the Troggs' Wild Thing; the Rolling Stones' 19th Nervous Breakdown; the Lovin' Spoonful's Summer in the City and their own Dirty Water and worked them out the way they sound best.

And they sure do! In most of the songs, they've done actual re-creations of the famous originals, though on a couple (the Beatles' Eleanor Rjgby and Los Braves' Black is Black) they have vocals replacing instruments (not to mention the budget-conscious carhorn vocals on Summer In The City...- ed).

Here, Dick happens to be singing most of the leads, but Larry does lead voice on the Kinks' Sunny Afternoon, with Tony featured prominently on the background; and Dave is featured - novelty fashion - on Sam the Sham's Lill’ Red Riding Hood, along with Florida DJ Mike Reineri's famous "Bertha Breadsacker" voice.
Original LP Liner Notes

The Hot Ones! album, first released in September 1966, was comprised of covers of then current chart hits. In addition to the newly recorded tracks, the LP recycled two cuts from the Dirty Water album; "19th Nervous Breakdown" and "Dirty Water". To avoid repetition, these two cuts have been omitted on this set, with additional unreleased tracks inserted in their place. "You Were The One" is a previously unreleased ballad recorded during the first Ed Cobb-produced Standells' session on March 5, 1965; the same session that yielded the legendary cuts "Dirty Water" and "Rari".

The unissued tracks "School Girl" (a Graham Gouldman composition) and Cobb's "Ten O'clock Scholar" (with its great 'Boettcher-esque' vocal lines) are both outtakes from the early sessions for the Try It album, recorded near the end of 1966. They feature new member John Fleck on bass.

The somewhat out-of-character "When I Was A Cowboy" (a Leadbelly song) and the megaphoned, Tony Valentino-penned "Don't Tell Me What To Do" were originally issued in 1967 as a rare Tower 45 (#312) and credited to The Sllednats. "Misty Lane" has previously made an appearance on a U.K. compact disc, erroneously credited to Tower label-mates The Chocolate Watchband, The track is, in fact, the Standells taking a shot at what would soon become a Watchband classic. 

While the C.W.'s version surely remains the definitive performance, The Standells' take is an interesting alternative, with its unique backing vocals and use of Tony's signature fuzzed guitar tone providing the intro lines. Lastly, we have our favorite 'lost' performance, "The Standells' Love Theme", a boozy, extended, afterhours studio jam, circa 1966. Perhaps intended at one time to be chopped to shards for use in an A.I.P, biker flick, we're proud to present the lengthy session in its ultra-cool entirety.
by Bob Irwin

1. Last Train To Clarksville (T. Boyce, B. Hart) - 2:43
2. Wild Thing (Chip Taylor) - J:5J
3. Sunshine Superman (Donovan Leitch) - 2:41
4. Sunny Afternoon (Ray Davies) - 3:22
5. Lil' Red Riding Hood (R. Blackwell) - 2:43
6. Eleanor Rigby (J. Lennon, P. McCartney) - 2:73
7. Black Is Black (Hayes, Wadey, Grainger) - 233
8. Summer In The City (J. Sebastian, M. Sebastian, S. Boone) -2:J
9. You Were The One (Ed Cobb) - 2:29
10.School Girl (Graham Gouldman) - 2:18
11.Ten O'clock Scholar (Ed Cobb) - 3:00
12.When I Was A Cowboy (H. Ledbetter) - 2:39
13.Don't Tell Me What To Do (T. Valentino) - 2:56
14.Misty Lane (M. Siegel) - 3:10
15.Standells' Love Theme (Ed Cobb, B. McElroy) - 11:18

The Standells
*Dick (Jose Taco) Dodd - Drums, Guitar
*Larry Tamblyn - Piano, Organ, Guitar, Vocals
*Pave (Super Hick) Burke - Bass, 12-string Guitar
*Tony (Mr.Parmesan) Valentino - Lead Guitar

1966  The Standells - Dirty Water
1966  The Standells - Why Pick On Me
1966-67  The Standells - Try It

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Monday, April 13, 2015

Andy Armstrong - At Last (1967 australia, wonderful acoustic folk, 2011 korean issue)

In 1967 when this album was recorded I had been playing guitar for three years and writing songs for two years. I was heavily influenced by Bert Jansch, the Scottish contemporary folk singer/songwriter and co-founder of the band Pentangle, best known for his song "Needle of Death" and his brilliant version of Davy Graham's "Angie" guitar instrumental. 

Many musicians have said that Jansch was a huge influence, Jimmy Page and Neil Young among them. Jansch was such an inspiration to me in that I followed his path of contemporary folk rather than mainstream pop music. Although I listened to the Beatles, Peter Paul and Mary, Bob Dylan and James Taylor and the fabulous folk trio of women Joan Baez, Judy Collins and Odetta, it was the English sensibility that I tried to capture in my songs. 

This meant one thing... I was never going to be big in terms of Australia wide success. In fact as long as I felt free to do my own thing I was happy. It wasn't until later when Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne and the whole American West Coast sound became popular that I followed those trends and left my folkie days behind...and started to make headway both in studio work as a session singer and in live performance.

So here I am in 1967, 19 years old and virtually never sung in public except for the odd live gig at my high school and the thought came that I would like to do what my heroes had done and make a record. How I got on to Nationwide I don't remember but I booked some time and took the train into town with my song book and guitar and for the first time walked into a recording studio.

I knew nothing but Graham didn't know that! I had heard that when making an album the guitar part was recorded first then the vocals after that. I started at track one and recorded all the guitar parts in one take.  I didn't listen to any of them back then went straight into recording the vocals.  All the vocals I did in one take also! In less than two hours I had recorded a whole album of original material. At the end of the session Graham said "I've never seen that done before." I had no idea what he meant. It didn't occur to me to listen back to each song and do it again if it wasn't right... besides, I was used to singing songs live so I rarely made a mistake.

My best friend at the time Peter Ryan arranged the covers of the 50 albums I had pressed -also by Graham in his own pressing plant in the Nationwide building- and it was Peter that wrote (AT LAST) on the cover by hand. There were only ever those 50 pressed Copies... if you can get them... now sell for hundreds of dollars.

The guitar I used, which I still have, is a Hagstrom Bonita. Hagstrom acoustics have not been made in their original Swedish factory since the early 70s but have a cult following of die hard  collectors. The list of famous players is amazing, Cat Stevens being the foremost. Whether I sold any copies or whether I just gave them away I have no recollection. I simply had always wanted to make an album and AT LAST I had.
by Andy Armstrong, June 2011

1. Intro - 0:45
2. Had A Little Girl - 2:04
3. My Little Bird - 2:22
4. Once Upon A Time - 1:44
5. The Way You Talk - 3:03
6. A Ray Of Hope - 2:44
7. If Someone Is Following You - 4:08
8. Call It On Your Own - 3:50
9. Baby Said To Me - 2:17
10.Did I hear You Right - 2:11
11.How's Your Baby - 3:09
12.Slidin' Blues - 2:23
13.Plead Is All I Can Do - 4:31
14.Bonnie George Campbell (Traditional) - 3:28
15.Goin' Home - 1:28
Words and Music by Andy Armstrong except song #14

*Andy Armstrong - Guitar, Piano, Vocals

1972  Andy Armstrong - Perspective Works (2011 Korean remaster)

Friday, April 10, 2015

Whiskey Howl - Whiskey Howl (1972 canada, marvelous jazzy blues rock, roots 'n' roll, 2008 remaster)

Canadians have long had a love affair for the blues. In the 1970s, artists from Vancouver’s Powder Blues and Halifax’s Dutch Mason to Montreal’s Offenbach and Winnipeg’s Big Dave McLean thrilled audiences with their interpretations of the 12-bar form. The blues feeling has always been especially strong in Toronto, where a close proximity to Chicago and Detroit and regular appearances by major U.S. blues artists fostered a deep connection with the music. Three of Canada’s earliest and most successful blues groups hailed from Toronto and nearby Hamilton, including Downchild Blues Band, McKenna Mendelson Mainline and Crowbar with King Biscuit Boy. Into this blues-loving milieu came Whiskey Howl.

Formed in 1969, Whiskey Howl emerged from Toronto’s suburbs to become one of the premier acts of the CanCon era of the early ’70s. Led initially by harmonica player John Bjarnason, the group landed some highly prestigious gigs, opening for Led Zeppelin, performing with American blues legends and appearing with John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band and many others at the historic Toronto Rock & Roll Revival show. During its incarnation fronted by Bjarnason’s replacement, Michael Pickett, Whiskey Howl scored an enviable major-label deal with Warner Bros. and recorded an acclaimed self-titled album in 1972, issued here for the first time on CD. A quarter of a century after its release, the recording still packs a formidable punch.

Bjarnason was one of Toronto’s earliest blues aficionados, studying the styles of Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf whenever they performed at the Colonial Tavern on Yonge Street. Two local musicians provided him with further education. “I got my background in the blues from Chris Whiteley, who I went to school with at Don Mills Collegiate,” Bjarnason recalls. “The first band I play in was actually called the Don Mils Blues Band, which was just a neighborhood group.” Before long, the aspiring musician was down in Yorkville’s hippie haven, taking guitar lessons from Joe Mendelson. Bjarnason’s next band, The Back Door, went further afield, playing larger venues like the Broom & Stone with the likes of Shawne and Jay Jackson & the Majestics.

Whiskey Howl grew out of the ashes of yet another Bjarnason outfit, the popular Yorkville band Sherman & Peabody. Joining Bjarnason and guitarist Peter Boyko was a robust singer named John Witmer, who brought along bassist Gary Penner and drummer Ron Sullivan, with whom he played in a Downsview group called Harry’s Blues Band. With the initial lineup intact, Whiskey Howl debuted at Yorkville’s Night Owl coffeehouse on July 28, 1969. Before the band was even a month old, it was opening for Led Zeppelin when the British band appeared at Toronto’s Rock Pile, before a sold-out audience of 1,200 frenzied fans. One month after that, Whiskey Howl joined Lennon’s Revival show at Varsity Stadium, which infamously featured Alice Cooper, who allegedly bit the head off a chicken. The Toronto band, with new drummer Wayne Wilson replacing Sullivan, appeared twice on the bill, playing its own set and backing the eccentric British singer Screaming Lord Sutch.

In the spring of 1970, Whiskey Howl entered the Toronto Sound recording studio to lay down four songs, including two blues standards and a pair of original songs by Witmer. Financed by the band itself, these recordings were strictly demos and never released. However, the group, a big favorite of Globe and Mail rock critic Ritchie Yorke, came close that summer to landing a record deal. Whiskey Howl’s record deal didn’t come for another year. In the meantime, Bjarnason left the group, opting to pursue a career as a chiropractor. Michael Pickett, a talented blues harmonica player who’d played with Witmer in Harry’s Blues Band, stepped in to fill the void. More lineup changes were to follow. A new chapter in the group’s blues odyssey was about to begin.

The group had undergone more personnel changes. Boyko and Penner departed, with guitarist Dave Morrison and bassist Rick Fruchtman coming in as their replacements. The new quintet entered Eastern Sound studios with Sandlin and a collection of blues covers and original tunes. Warner gave the band plenty of artistic freedom. “Pozer told us, ‘We don’t want to get in your way and stifle your creativity,’” recalled Morrison. “He basically said to us, ‘As long as you’re not stark raving maniacs in the studio, we’re happy to let you do your thing.’” Sandlin, meanwhile, was the epitome of a laid-back southern gentleman. “Johnny had worked in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, where they make real records,” says Pickett. “The main thing that he did with us was he kept telling us to lay back. He’d say, ‘Don’t push it, don’t rush the groove.’ That helped to define our sound on the album.”

Sandlin brought in a young hotshot pianist named Chuck Leavell, who later became a keyboard session player for Eric Clapton and The Rolling Stones. The producer also added a horn section, made up of local players Keith Jollymore, Dave Woodward and Phil Alperson, to help round out the Howl sound on Louis Jordan jump-blues standards like “Caldonia,” “Early in the Morning” and “Let the Good Times Roll” and a down-tempo blues number by Memphis Slim called “Mother Earth.” Witmer-penned originals like “Down the Line” and “Jessie’s Song,” about his first-born son, feature Witmer’s bluesy howl and Morrison’s rootsy guitar picking respectively, while Pickett shines on harmonica and vocals on his own “One Hot Lady.”

Two of the album’s highlights are the band’s composition “Pullin’ the Midnight,” featuring dazzling solos from Pickett and Leavell, and the group’s rendition of “Rock Island Line.” It was a brave move for an electric blues band to sing the Leadbelly standard in acapella four-part harmony. “We didn’t think of ourselves strictly as a blues band,” insists Pickett. “None of us were purists. We loved all kinds of music, from folk and blues to jazz and r&b. We were very roots-oriented and that always showed in our sound.”

When Whiskey Howl’s self-titled album came out in the summer of ’72, with a cover shot of the group standing on Spadina Avenue outside of Grossman’s, it quickly garnered rave reviews and airplay on FM stations across the country. The band gigged extensively following its release, with many trips to Sudbury and other parts of northern Ontario and a national tour with Dr. Music, performing at autumn fairs like Toronto’s CNE, Vancouver’s PNE and Edmonton’s Pioneer Days. In particular, Morrison fondly recalls shows in Banff and a week-long gig in Vancouver that turned into a month-long residency at the Pharaoh’s Retreat club in Gastown. “The thing about our band was that we dug each other and loved working together,” says Morrison. “It was real ensemble playing.”

Sadly, the band had a short life, breaking up in 1974 and reforming briefly in ’76 and again in ’81 before finally calling it quits. Glinert had parted ways with the group before the album release, leaving Whiskey Howl without experienced management to take it to the next level. Momentum was lost and another promising Canadian band group with potential to become major stars on the U.S. circuit fell by the wayside. “We were young and stupid,” admits Morrison, “and had no idea of the business. But we had a good time while it lasted.”

Whiskey Howl remains one of the great success stories of the early CanCon era, a blues band that enjoyed a large, loyal following, appeared on legendary concert bills and left one memorable studio album. So sit back and relax, ’cause Whiskey Howl is back in town. Let the good times roll.

1. Caldonia (Fleecie Moore) - 2:15
2. Early In The Morning (Hickman, Jordan, Bartley) - 3:59
3. Mother Earth (Peter Chatman, Lewis Simpkin) - 5:39
4. Rock Island Line (Huddie Ledbetter, Alan Lomax) - 1:44
5. Down The Line (John Witmer) - 2:30
6. Let The Good Times Roll (Theard, Moore) - 3:08
7. One Hot Lady (Michael Pickett) - 3:07
8. Pullin' The Midnight (Fruchtman, Morrison, Pickett, Wilson, Witmer) - 5:35
9. I'm Not Talking (Mose Allison) - 2:47
10.Jessie's Song (John Witmer) - 2:46

The Whiskey Howl
*John Witmer - Vocals
*Michael Pickett - Harp, Vocals
*Richard Fruchtman - Bass, Vocals
*Dave Morrison - Guitar, Vocals
*Wayne Wilson - Drums
*Chuck Leavell - Piano
*Phil Alpertson - Alto Sax
*Dave Woodwar - Tenor Sax
*Keith Jollimore - Baritone Sax

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Dr. Feelgood - Private Practice (1978 uk, striking tough boogie 'n' roll pub rock, 2014 japan SHM remaster and expanded)

The 2009 Julien Temple cinema documentary ‘Oil City Confidential’ did much to resurrect the career of Canvey Island 70’s R and B act and punk pioneers Dr Feelgood, and in particular that of their eccentric guitarist Wilko Johnson who became the undoubted star of the film.

What is sometimes forgotten is that after Johnson, the then songwriter of the group, was fired from Dr Feelgood in 1977 after recording three studio albums – ‘Down by the Jetty’ (1975), ‘Malpractice’ (1975) and ‘Sneakin’ Suspicion’ (1977) – and a live record ‘Stupidity’ (1976), Lee Brilleaux, their fireball vocalist and harmonica, decided to carry on the group, initially with Gypie Mayo taking over on guitar.

Lee Brilleaux died of cancer a month before his 43rd birthday in April 1994, having recorded another eleven studio albums with Dr Feelgood, including the Nick Lowe-produced ‘Be Seeing You’ (1977) and ‘A Case of the Shakes’ (1980); ‘Private Practice’ (1978), which featured their only Top 10 hit ‘Milk and Alcohol’, and Brilleaux’s underrated final album with the band, ‘The Feelgood Factor’ (1993). 
by John Clarkson

Having fallen apart just as punk rock and the new wave were taking the world by storm, the Feelgoods turned to Nick Lowe to produce the record and he keeps everything admirably bare: Brilleaux's voice remains pleasingly grubby, the back line solid as a brick shithouse, and Mayo dipping in an out with no little style, technique and sensitivity. If that was impressive given the short amount of time the band had to regroup and prepare for the record, October 1978's Private Practice was even more of an eye-opener. 

With Mayo contributing to six tracks and Brilleaux three, this was more of a band effort than its predecessor and spawned two terrific singles, 'Down At The Doctors' reaching No.48 and the marvellous 'Milk And Alcohol', written by Mayo and Lowe, becoming the band's first top ten hit. Throughout there is an intoxicating edge to Brilleaux's vocals which sound even more sinister than usual, the songs are full of blockbuster riffs and everywhere Mayo displays his virtuosity - just listen to 'Every Kind Of Vice' or 'Night Time': it is as if Johnson had never been away.

1. Down At The Doctors (Mickey Jupp) - 3:19
2. Every Kind Of Vice (Lee Brilleaux, John Mayo) - 3:27
3. Things Get Better (A. Jackson jr, E. Floyd, S. Cropper) - 2:51
4. Milk And Alcohol (Nick Lowe, John Mayo) - 2:55
5. Night Time (B. Feldman, G. Goldstein, R. Gottehrer) - 5:26
6. Let's Have A Party (Baxter, Clifford, Haymes) - 2:42
7. Take A Trip (Lee Brilleaux, John Mayo) - 4:25
8. It Wasn't Me (Nick Lowe, John Mayo) - 3:06
9. Greaseball (John Mayo) - 3:55
10.Sugar Shaker (Lee Brilleaux, John Mayo, John  Sparks) - 4:45
11.Down At The (Other) Doctors (Mickey Jupp) - 3:53
12.Cheque Book (Mickey Jupp) - 3:51
13.Back In The Night (Wilko Johnson) - 3:12
14.Lucky Seven (Lew Lewis) - 2:34
15.Lights Out (David, Robbenack) - 3:32
16.Sneackin’ Suspicion (Wilko Johnson) - 3:12
17.Great Ball Of Fire (Hammer, Blackwell) - 2:14
18.It Don’t Take But A Few Minutes (Berry) - 3:28
19.Blues Jam (Brilleaux, Mayo, Sparks, Figure, Holland, Squirrel, Lewis) - 5:51
20.Milk And Alcohol (New Recipe) (Nick Lowe, John Mayo) - 3:07
21.She’s Got Her Eyes On You (Brilleaux, Russell, Mitchell, Morris) - 3:11
Tracks 18-19 performed by The Oil City Sheiks

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

1974  Down By The Jetty (2014 Japan SHM edition)
1976  Dr Feelgood - Stupidity (2014 Japan SHM edition)
1975  Malpractice  (2014 Japan SHM edition)
1977  Be Seeing You (2014 Japan SHM remaster) 

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Friday, April 3, 2015

Climax Blues Band - Live Rare And Raw (1973-79 uk, spectacular hard blues rock, 2014 release)

A brand new compilation that charts the period when the Climax Blues band accelerated from club act to US Top 40 regularsand, finally, Top 3 hit makers with ‘Couldn’t Get it Right’.Accompanying frontman Colin Cooper (vocals, sax) and Pete Haycock (guitar, vocals), both now sadly deceased, were JohnCuffley (drums) and Derek Holt (bass, vocals). 

The return of original member Richard Jones on keyboards midway throughthis gig sequence completed the classic Climax Blues Band line up.Material covers band-penned classics from ‘Sense Of Direction’ (1974), ‘Stamp Album’ (1975), ‘Gold Plated’ (1976), plus songsfrom then current album ‘Real To Reel’ (1979). Also included are blues standards like ‘The Seventh Son’, a long-time staple oftheir ‘live’ set and Wilbert Harrison’s ‘Let’s Work Together’.The Beatles ‘Get Back’ was introduced by Pete Haycock one night to lengthen a short set. “Towards the end of ‘All The TimeIn The World’ I started jamming the Beatles guitar solos and the other guys picked up on it. We started playing to please thecrowd after that!”

The three concerts, from Marquee Club London (1973), New Jersey (1974), Guildford (1976) are previously unreleased. Only1979’s Miami show had a limited US release on Warner Bros.This an essential new set for blues aficionados and band fans alike.Booklet with authoritative and extensive liner notes includes quotes from Climax Blues Band’s Derek Holt and the late PeteHaycock. - 

Disc 1
1. All The Time In The World - 6:32
2. I Am Constant - 4:50
3. Seventh Son (Willie Dixon) - 5:45
4. Mesopopmania - 10:21
5. So Many Roads (Paul Marshall) - 16:05
6. Shake Your Love /That's All (George Newsome, Anton Farmer, Richard Gottehrer,  Colin Cooper, Pete Haycock, Derek Holt, John Cuffley) - 7:03
7. All The Time In The World - 7:22
8. Seventh Son (Willie Dixon) - 5:02
All songs written by Colin Cooper, Pete Haycock, Derek Holt, John Cuffley except where noted
Tracks 1-6 Live at the Marquee Club London 1973
Tracks 7-8 Live In New Jersey 1974

Disc 2
1. Flight - 15:50
2. So Many Roads (Paul Marshall) - 13:45
3. Country Hat (George Newsome, Anton Farmer, Colin Cooper, Pete Haycock, Derek Holt) - 9:06
4. Shake Your Love (Richard Gottehrer, John Cuffley, Colin Cooper, Pete Haycock, Derek Holt) - 4:03
5. Going To New York (Jimmy Reed) - 10:45
6. Let's Work Together (Wilbert Harrison) - 7:45
7. One More Time/Stormy Monday (Jaymes Young, T. Bone Walker) - 7:02
8. Together And Free - 3:02
9. Amerita Sense Of Direction - 6:22
All songs written by Colin Cooper, Pete Haycock, Derek Holt, John Cuffley except where indicated
Tracks 1-7 Live In New Jersey 1974
Tracks 8-9 Live In Guildford 1976

Disc 3
1. Chasing Change (Colin Cooper, Pete Haycock, Derek Holt, John Cuffley, Richard Jones) - 4:58
2. Using The Power (Colin Cooper, Pete Haycock, Derek Holt, John Cuffley, Richard Jones) - 4:22
3. Couldn't Get It Right (Colin Cooper, Pete Haycock, Derek Holt, John Cuffley, Richard Jones) - 3:16
4. Going To New York (Jimmy Reed) -7:48
5. All The Time In The World - 2:29
6. Get Back (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) - 2:44
7. Money In Your Pocket - 4:39
8. Summer Rain - 5:44
9. Amerita Sense Of Direction - 7:40
10.Evil (Willie Dixon) - 5:09
11.Fallen In Love (For The Very Last Time) - 4:45
12.Seventh Son/Got My Mojo Workin' (Willie Dixon, McKinley Morganfield) - 9:22
13.Whatcha Feel - 9:42
14.All The Time In The World-Get Back (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) - 6:01
All songs written by Colin Cooper, Pete Haycock, Derek Holt, John Cuffley except where stated
Tracks 1-6 Live In Guildford 1976
Tracks 7-14 Live From Miami 1979

Climax Blues Band
*Colin Cooper - Vocals, Alto, Tenor Saxes, Guitar, Harmonica
*Pete Haycock - Vocals, Lead Guitar
*Derek Holt - Vocals, Bass Guitar, Electric Piano
*John Cuffley - Drums, Percussion
*Richard Jones - Keyboards (Disc 3)

1969  The Climax Chicago Blues Band (2013 remaster and expanded)
1970  A Lot Of Bottle (2013 remaster and expanded)
1971  Tightly Knit (2013 remastered with bonus tracks)
1972  Climax Chicago - Rich Man (2013 bonus track remaster) 

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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Hackamore Brick - One Kiss Leads To Another (1971 us, fantastic guitar rock with velvet shades)

Originally pressed on the Kama Sutra label in 1971, One Kiss Leads To Another was an anomaly of its era. But to hear the album today, as resurrected by Real Gone Records, a timeless quality persists.

Coming to be at an hour rock music was seriously polarized, with heavy bands like Led Zeppelin, Mountain and Grand Funk Railroad perched on one side of the dial, while the soft and creamy sentiments of the Carpenters and Bread characterized the commercial climate, Hackamore Brick belonged in neither category. Although One Kiss Leads To Another drew fantastic reviews when it was released, which unfortunately did not generate fame or sales, it wasn’t until a couple of decades later that the Brooklyn, New York band was recognized as founding fathers of alternative rock.

Substance over style and passion over professionalism propel the performances on One Kiss Leads To Another, making for a loose, casual and homegrown feel. Prodded by the light tinkle of a piano, followed by a flickering hive of clangy guitars and a pretty melody, “Reachin'” projects a sense of delirious detachment, and “Oh! Those Sweet Bananas” features similar elements but delivered at a brisker clip.

Charmingly jagged vocals laced with a bit of a nasally twang, complemented by sparse arrangements dictate a hefty portion of material on One Kiss Leads To Another, resulting in kind of an edgy folk pop sound. Assembled of giddy rhythms and a touch of good old fashioned rock and roll romp and bomp, “Radio” and the gentle proceedings of “Got A Gal Named Wilma” rate as further praiseworthy tracks included on the disc. The odd man in the bunch is “And I Wonder,” which captures Hackamore Brick on a progressive rock bender with its whirly keyboard noodling, jazzy movements and chaotic jamming in general.

Remnants of psychedelic garage rock also frequently appear throughout One Kiss Leads To Another, while some of this stuff bears a passing resemblance to Big Star before Big Star even actually existed. Additional comparisons would be the Lovin’ Spoonful, Buffalo Springfield and the Velvet Underground, but all told it’s difficult to classify the album, which is why it is so interesting and intriguing.

Haunting, raw and played straight from the heart and gut, One Kiss Leads To Another has a lot going on despite its rather low-fi and economic approach. An accidental masterpiece it is!
by Beverly Paterson

1. Reachin' (Chick Newman) - 4:45
2. Oh! Those Sweet Bananas (Tommy Moonlight) - 2:27
3. I Watched You Rhumba (Tommy Moonlight) - 2:57
4. Radio (Tommy Moonlight) - 3:38
5. Peace Has Come (Bob Roman, Tommy Moonlight) - 3:05
6. Got A Gal Named Wilma (Tommy Moonlight) - 3:23
7. I Won't Be Around (Chick Newman) - 1:35
8. And I Wonder (Chick Newman) - 7:26
9. Someone You Know (Chick Newman) - 4:23
10.Zip Gun Woman (Chick Newman, Tommy Moonlight) - 2:54
11.Searchin' (Single version)  (Chick Newman) - 3:13

The Hackamore Brick
*Chick Newman - Vocals, Piano, Guitar
*Robie Biegel - Drums
*Bob Roman - Bass
*Tommy Moonlight - Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards

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