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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Havenstreet - The End Of The Line / Perspectives (1974-77 uk, brilliant progressive folk rock, 2014 two disc set)

The genesis of Havenstreet goes back to 1969, when Phil Ridgway and Jeff Vinter played in The Gas, an experimental psychedelic band heavily influenced by Barrett-era Pink Floyd. The two friends started to write songs their own songs, ending up as a folk duo. With the offer to record some of their material at a friend's studio, they recruited more musical friends…so Havenstreet was born.

The influences had expanded now to bands and artists such as Peter Hammill, Strawbs, Traffic, Procol Harum, Stackridge, Keith Tippett, Bert Jansch…In the early-mid 70s they recorded a couple of albums which circulated as private cassettes among friends and relatives. In 1977, Havenstreet released "The End Of The Line", a self-released album in a private edition of 250 copies. It was collection of very English songs with evocative, literate lyrics and a stunning progressive folk-rock sound. It featured one of the earliest known tributes to Syd Barrett on the song "When the madcap meets the world".

This expanded double set reissue of Havenstreet's sought after album includes, the original "The End of the Line" album from 1977, a new album called "Perspectives" which presents the best tracks from the privately pressed cassettes The Autumn Wind (1974) and Transition (1976) plus rehearsal recordings for The End of the Line (1975/1976) and previously unreleased recordings for the group's projected fourth album (1979), which was never completed. These amazing tracks range from electric acid-folk to Barrett-esque psych-pop, pastoral folk and Caravan styled prog-rock.

Combining the back-to-basics acoustic feel of the nu-folk generation with a swirly, psychedelic vibe, "The End of the Line" could actually be an album that was made in 2014. But this album was privately released in 1977. Now finally remastered and brought into the present, the retrospective feeling is amplified and should appeal greatly to fans of 70s folk and progressive music. This reissue is a must have even for the lucky few who own an original copy of the album as it comes with a bonus disc, "Perspectives", that compiles non-LP tracks from 1974-79. The quality of the extra material shines through.
by Michael Bjorn (Strange Days Magazine) 

Disc 1 The End Of The Line
1. German Castles - 3:52
2. When The Madcap Meets The World (Francis Bassett) - 4:30
3. Old Ways And Schooldays - 2:51
4. Music In The Night - 2:45
5. Suspended Animation (Phil Ridgway) - 2:31
6. The H S B Song (Francis Bassett, Jeff Vinter) - 2:08
7. Yesterday Was Summer - 3:20
8. Rain - 3:14
9. The Castle - 3:15
10.Out Of The Fireglow - 4:14
11.The Keeper Of The Tower (Francis Bassett, Jeff Vinter, Phil Ridgway) - 3:16
12.The Photograph - 4:57
15.After Time (Francis Bassett) - 2:57
All compositions by Phil Ridgway, Jeff Vinter except where stated

Disc 2 Perspectites
1. Aftermath (Francis Bassett, Jeff Vinter, Phil Ridgway) - 5:00
2. Falling Leaves In Autumn - 4:19
3. Pat Old Engine - 2:21
4. Family Laughter - 2:38
5. Just An Illusion - 2:49
6. Kick - 4:46
7. Damascus - 4:14
8. Grasshopper - 2:44
9. Your Not Being There - 3:06
10.The Ballroom Of Despair (Francis Bassett, Jeff Vinter) - 4:59
11.Aftersong (Chris Summerfield, Jeff Vinter) - 2:35
12.Village Vespers - 4:27
All song by Phil Ridgway, Jeff Vinter except where noted

*Richard Allan - Violin
*Francis Bassett - Piano, Clavinet, Organ
*Phil Ridgway - Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
*Andrew Russell - Flute
*Helen Russell - Vocals
*Robin Smith - Bass, Alto, Tenor Saxophone
*Jenny Tillyer - Rhythm Guitar
*Jeff Vinter - Vocals
*Pete Wills - Drums

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Saturday, September 26, 2015

Leviathan - Leviathan (1974 us, sensational heavy prog rock with epic shades, 2012 bonus tracks edition)

As far as homegrown prog bands went (with a couple exceptions), 1970's America was the home of the brave but doomed. Leviathan was one act that actually managed to get one proper album release before disappearing, probably to secure to themselves and their posterity the blessings of not starving to death. Not as derivative of big-name British acts as most of their contemporaries, Leviathan's release (LP Mach Records AMA 12501) instead demonstrates how much more blurred the line between heavy metal and progressive rock had already become in the Colonies than in the Old Blighty.

The opening track "Arabesque" is rife with crunchy guitar riffs, stomping drums and bass, and bluesy vocal melodies delivered with hard rock's throaty harshness and occasional caught-meself-in-the-zipper yells. On the other hand, these are interspersed with a more delicate and harmonically complex sections with acoustic guitar, quick organ cadenzas and especially swirling Mellotron swells. The effect resembles some of Kansas' early works, though the writing is less adventurous and the playing less dynamic. The rest of the album pendulates between these two elements, searching for a right balance with variable success.

On "Seagull" the effect created by the mellifluous middle section full of liquid piano and Mellotron strings and woodwinds in what is otherwise just a slow-grinding, chugalong rock tune is a bit too cut and paste to avoid sounding contrived. Others mix ingredients with greater skill, either giving a straight-forward song a rich prog-style coating and melodic shine ("Always Need You") or using heavy guitar and rhythm section for impressive dynamic swells on an otherwise brooding, classical composition ("Endless Dream"). "Angel of Death" pretty much ditches the prog element, and sounds much smoother - and duller - as a result. The other extreme is the gentle, non-metallic ballad "Angela", which is saved from MOR mundanity by a small but nice harmonic modulation and a frothy use of acoustic guitar and lapping Mellotron strings. It all finally comes together on the closer "Quicksilver Clay", a quite stylish amalgamation of progressive melodic and instrumental richness, and the vigour of an underlying metal base.

It's too bad things don't click more often, because it results in an unbalanced, lopsided album. Admittedly, I am not a fan of the metal style, but when it works, the synthesis of old-style heavy guitar and Mellotron as displayed here is quite novel and charming - certainly enough to make this album worthwhile. Those into heavy prog in the old sense of the word, without thrash riffs, neo-classical shredding or double bass drum havoc, should definitely investigate this one. 
by Kai Karmanheimo 

1. Arabesque - 6:15
2. Angela - 6:40
3. Endless Dream - 9:58
4. Seagull - 5:00
5. Angel of Death - 4:07
6. Always Need You - 3:22
7. Quicksilver Clay - 7:28
8. Why I Must Be Like You - 3:00
9. I'll Get Lost Out There - 3:42
All compositions by Leviathan

*Wain Bradley - Bass, Guitars, Vocals
*Peter Richardson - Organ, Vocals
*Don Swearingen - Piano
*Grady Trimble - Guitars
*John Sadler - Mellotron
*Shof Beavers - Drums

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Saturday, September 19, 2015

Wet Willie - Manorisms / Which One's Willie? (1977/79 us, awesome soulful boogie funk rock, 2013 remaster)

Barely forty minutes long, Manorisms has some killer tracks such as the opening 'Rainman' composed by Mike Duke and the melodic 'Street Corner Serenade', which had some minor success as a single reaching Number 30 in the Billboard Hot 100, Fifteen positions higher than the album's second and final single, the aforementioned 'Make You Feel Love Again', Other wonderfully harmonic songs include 'Let It Shine', 'How 'Bout You' and 'One Track Mind'.

Though Manorisms did not yield any major radio hits and all but disappeared without a trace, peaking at a disappointing Number 118 in the US, it remains a forgotten gem and this CD reissue calls for a rediscovery of Wet Willie's majestic yet often sadly overlooked and underappreciated back catalogue.

The band followed Manorisms with their final studio opus, Which One's Willie? which was unleashed to the public in 1979. Recorded in January through to February of 79 at the Record Plant in NYC and LA, the album shows a distinct departure from their Southern rock roots with a more polished approach to soul as it contains some Wilson Pickett ('Stop And Take A Look (At What You've Been Doing)/Don't Let The Green Grass Fool You') and Eddie Floyd ('You Don't Know What You Mean To Me') covers as well as original songs composed by Mike Duke. 

The nine track album has some beautifully sung numbers such as the opening 'Ramona' and the dulcet The Hard Way'. Other songs of note include Tired Dreams' and 'Mr. Streamline', which both show the band's knack for creating efficient melodies.

Which One's Willie? peaked at Number 172 in the US and spawned two singles: 'Weekend' which hit Number 29 and 'Ramona' which failed to chart. Though the album was a commercial failure it has enough strong songs to warrant cult status amongst fans of Southern rock.

Wet Willie folded in 1980 after the release of Which One's Willie? though a new incarnation of the band was formed in the 1990s featuring John Anthony (keyboards), Ricky Hirsch (guitars), Jimmy Hall (vocals) and a revolving line-up of musicians, including the late Marshall Smith (he died in 2006 after suffering from heart problems), Mike Duke andTheophilus Lively.

There's no question that Wet Willie has made an impact on the American rock 'n' roll scene having been inducted into the Georgia Music Hall Of Fame in 1996 and the Alabama Music Hall Of Fame in 2001. Though they may not have achieved the mainstream success that some of their peers achieved, they have a small yet devoted fanbase.
by Neil Daniels, 2013

Manorisms 1977
1. Rainman (M. Duke) - 3:21
2. Make You Feel Love Again (G. Jackson, T. Jones III) - 3:28
3. So Blue (M. Duke) - 3:17
4. We Got Lovin' (J. Hall, J. Hall, M. Duke) - 3:32
5. Don't Turn Me Away (M. Duke) - 4:49
6. Street Corner Serenade (M. Smith, M. Duke) - 4:54
7. One Track Mind (J. Hall, M. Duke) - 3:48
8. How 'Bout You (M. Duke) - 1:14
9. Doin' All The Right Things (The Wrong Way) (M. Duke) - 4:12
10.Let It Shine (J. Hall, J. Hall, M. Smith, M. Duke) - 4:20
Which One's Willie? 1979
11.Ramona (Joe Droukas, Peter Solomon) - 4:36
12.Stop And Take A Look (At What You've Been Doing)/Don't Let The Green Grass Fool You (Jerry Akines, Johnny Belmon, Reginald Turner, Robert Peckman, Victor Drayton) - 4:25
14.Weekend (Mick Jackson, Tommy Mayer) - 6:01
15.Smoke (Michael Duke) - 5:05
16.The Hard Way (Michael Duke) - 4:22
17.Tired Dreams (Michael Duke) - 4:13
18.This Time (Michael Duke) - 4:00
19.Mr. Streamline (Jack Hall, Jimmy Hall, Marshall Smith) - 4:01
20.You Don't Know What You Mean To Me (Eddie Floyd, Steve Carpenter) - 4:11

The Wet Willie
1977 Manorisms
*Jimmy Hall - Lead Vocals, Harmonica, Saxes, Percussion
*Jack Hall-Vocals, Bass
*Mike Duke - Lead Vocals, Keyboards
*Theophilus Lively - Drums, Percussion, Vocals
*Marshall Smith - Vocals, Guitars
*Larry Berwald - Guitars
1979 Which One's Willie?
*Larry Berwald - Guitars
*Mike Duke - Keyboards, Vocals
*Jack Hall - Bass Guitar, Vocals
*Jimmy Hall - Vocals, Harmonica, Saxophone
*Theophilus K. Lively - Drums, Percussion
*Marshall Smith - Guitars, Vocals
*Paulette Brown, Venetta Fields, Angelle Trosclair, Mighty Clouds Of Joy - Vocals

1973  Wet Willie - Drippin' Wet Live
1974  Wet Willie - Keep On Smilin
1975  Wet Willie - Dixie Rock
1976  Wet Willie - The Wetter The Better
1977  Wet Willie - Left Coast Live

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Jimmy Campbell - Son Of Anastasia (1969 uk, brilliant folk psych rock, 2009 remaster bonus track issue)

Jimmy Campbell was born on January 4th, 1944, three years after the Liverpool Blitz, to William and Anastasia Campbell. Only very essential rebuilding had occurred and Liverpool had still not been restored back to normal living conditions. England's vital port city was consumed by the war effort transporting munitions and American soldiers for the invasion of Europe. It is hard to imagine that out of such devastation would arise some of the most creative popular music performers and composers the world has ever known and one that deserves to be known. Jimmy, like most boys teenage boys in Liverpool during this period, became immersed in Eddie Cochran, Little Richard, Elvis, Buddy Holly and Everly Brothers records.

On March 11th, 1961 he would go to see The Beatles play a farewell dance at Aintree Institute and his life would be changed forever. "They were God," recalled Jimmy later. After that event, he began playing guitar like his idols and putting a band together (the Tuxedos) with his mates from Brookfield Comprehensive School in Kirkby. The Tuxedos changed their name to the Pulsating Panthers in 1962 and supported The Beatles at Hambleton Hall in Huyton on January 13th. Soon the Panthers would be playing the famous Cavern and in March of 1964 Cavern compere Bob Wooler would unintentionally change their name to The Kirkbys after the area in Liverpool where most of the band members resided.

The Kirkbys would go on to tour Germany and Finland. A 1964 tour of Finland found the band supporting Herman's Hermits, playing live on Finnish TV and releasing their first single, penned by Jimmy, 'Don't You Want Me No More' b/w 'Bless You' for RCA Finland. The Kirkbys' sole UK single, 'It's a Crime' b/w 'I've Never Been So Much in Love', would be released in 1966 before the band would change their name to the more psychedelic 23rd Turn Off and release the single 'Michelangelo' b/w 'Leave Me Here' for Deram in 1967.

After the 23rd Turn Off fizzled out at the end of 1967, Jimmy would continue to write his very personal songs while working as a toolmaker in a factory to help earn money. Jimmy was very much influenced at this time in his life by musicians Tim Hardin, Bob Dylan, Lennon and McCartney, The Band, and master painters Michelangelo and Van Gogh.

Meanwhile, Merseys' bassist Billy Kinsley had developed a deep friendship with Campbell when the 23rd Turn Off supported the Merseys on a UK Who tour. Billy would spend time at Campbell's flat listening to all of the amazing songs that Jimmy had composed.  Although the two Merseys' singles failed to attract much attention, Fontana A&R man Dick Leahy was a confirmed believer in Campbell's songwriting abilities and managed to sign him to a three album recording contract with Phillips.

A Fontana press release from 1969 describes Campbell as: "A 1969 song-writer minstrel like King Richard the Lionheart's Blondel." A Scouse Jack Kerouac beat who, "Rides in trains, boats, planes and hitches rides on giant lorries and jumps into the back of vans to get to his next destination." Campbell did enjoy the beat lifestyle and he often kipped on London benches out of the enjoyment of the experience and not out of need.

A 25-year-old Jimmy was rushed into the Phillips studio complex at Stanhope Place and Bayswater Road in London during the summer of 1968 to record enough material to complete two albums, Jimmy never possessed the self confidence as a solo artist and he would have preferred bringing a band to back him  during the sessions. Leahy felt differently and envisioned Campbell as a singer/songwriter like Cat Stevens. Jimmy's nervousness shows on all of the Son ofAnastasia recordings and he described his own voice, years later, as sounding "weedy" on all of the recordings. 

Most of the songs were run ' through in just one or two live takes with Jimmy on a borrowed acoustic guitar from Billy Kinsley and his kazoo. So naive was Jimmy about the recording process that he actually backed away from the microphone on the autobiographical 'Tremendous Commercial Potential' when he wastold that they would be doing a 'fade' to end the song!

Jimmy did manage a trip back into the studio in late 1969 to record 'Frankie Joe' with a backing band consisting of Billy Kinsley on bass and Dave Harrison on drums for the B-side of the delayed second single 'Lyanna'. However, by the time 'Lvanna' was released on February 12th 1970, the Fontana publicity machine had already spent its dime promoting Son ofAnastasia. Interesting enough, Jimmy's manager, Hal Carter, had been successful in promoting Jimmy's songs around to other artists. 

In 1970, Sgt. Will Scruffham (aka Don Charles) would release covers of 'And They All Came Marching Home' and 'Salvation Army Citadel' (which Jimmy recorded during the Son of Anastasia sessions and would later be released by Campbell himself on his final album, Jimmy Campbell's Album.  Rolf Harris also covered 'Salvation Army Citadel' in the same year. Jimmy would only hnd out about the cover version when he happened to see Harris performing the song on BBC TV!

By the end of the 1969, Campbell was in need of additional money and took a job replacing a pre-Badfinger Joey Molland in the Merseybeats. While on tour, Jimmy spent time composing songs for his 1970 follow up album Half Baked, but then that's another story.
by Mark A. Johnston, Dayton, OH 2009

1. When I Sit Down To Reason - 1:22
2. Mother's Boy - 2:59
3. Another Vincent Van Gogh - 2:07
4. Penny In My Pocket - 2:35
5. Bright Side Of The Hill - 1:57
6. Dear Marge - 1:29
7. Lyanna - 2:19
8. They All Came Marching Home - 2:21
9. On A Monday - 3:26
10.Lovely Elisa Cope Is Dead - 2:41
11.You'll Break My Heart In Two - 2:18
12.Tremendous Commercial Potential - 2:04
13.Adrian Henri's Party Night (At O'Connor's) - 3:02
14.Another Springtime's Passed Me By - 1:57
15.Michelangelo - 2:57
16.Painting A Song - 1:19  
17.Frankie Joe (Bonus Track 1970 Single) - 3:14
Lyrics and Music by Jimmy Campbell

*Jimmy Campbell - Vocals, Guitar
*Danny Thompson - Bass
*Colin Green - Guitar
*Ray Carr - Drums, Percussion
*Harold McNair - Flute
*Yvonne 'Sue' Wheatman - Vocals
*Heather 'Sunny' Wheatman - Vocals

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Monday, September 14, 2015

Dr. Music - Bedtime Story (1974 canada, elegant jazz prog rock with some blues traces)

Dr Music was the brainchild of Toronto native and Doug Riley, who first took piano lessons as a child as a means of coping through polio. Born in Toronto in 1945, he took lessons in classical piano at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto beginning at the age of four. Later, in Montreal, he studied pipe organ with Harry Duckworth at St. Anne de Belleville Church, and piano with Paul DeMarky, Oscar Peterson's piano teacher, and eventually developed into one of the country's most up and coming arrangers.

He went on to earn a Bachelor of Music in composition from the University of Toronto, while playing R&B with the Silhouettes, appearing at the Blue Note and the other Toronto nightclubs of the day. and turned down an offer to join Ray Charles' band after working on his 1969 album, DOING HIS THING. He was working as the Music Director for a number of TV shows, when in 1969 Ray Stevens ("Guitarzan," "Ahab The Arab") came calling. CTV had given him his own show, and Riley, dubbed 'Dr Music,' was recruited to put together a band.

Several members came and went at first, but following the cancellation of the show after the 1970 season, Riley kept the core of the group in tact and began touring the local area jazz clubs. The actual band was rounded out with Doug Mallory on vocals and guitar, bassist Don Thompson, vocalist Diane Brooks, and the Kennedy brothers - Michael on vocals and percussion and ex-Motherlode member Steve leading the horns section that also included Gary Morgan, Keith Jollimore, and Barrie Tallman.

RCA approached Riley later that year for a Coca-Cola jingle they were releasing, and so they recorded one of two versions of the new theme song, a cover of The New Seekers' "I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing," with the Laurie Bower Singers doing the other. It was released internationally as a single, gaining both groups some overseas notoriety.

Riley had also just opened up Toronto Sound Recording Studio with producer and engineer Terry Brown (Klaatu, Rush, etc), where they mostly did jingle work. This connection came in handy when looking for a label, as GRT Records was fledgling, and Riley signed a deal with them the following spring, knowing studio time was obviously going to be available. During this period, he also manned the helm for some other GRT projects, including the sole album from Everyday People, and his own debut album, FOXEY LADY.

With a cast of session players including singers Laurel Ward, Brenda Gordon, Trudy Desmond, Rhonda Silver, and Terry Black (who was also featured on FOXEY LADY, Dr Music's eponymous debut album was in the stores later that year. Three singles hit the airwaves before year's end - "Try A Little Harder," Neil Sedaka's "One More Mountain To Climb," and "Gospel Rock." The last single's b-side, "Sun Goes By," was released as its own single the following spring. But following some select shows around the Toronto and Detroit regions, Riley disbanded this version of the group so he could focus on the studio.

But by the end of '72, Riley had resurrected a new version of the group that included Mallory, the Kennedys, Jollimore, and Tallman, along with new drummer Wayne Stone. After some live dates across the country, they went into the studio the first couple of months of the new year, and released their sophomore album that summer, DR MUSIC II. "Long Time Comin' Home" b/w the unreleased "Stay Real" and "Tryin' Times" were released as singles, following in Riley's tradition of finding a common ground between sophisticated jazz arrangements and a pop attitude that got decent airplay. Other noteable cuts included the Robbie Robertson-penned "Where Do We Go From Here," and Steve Kennedy's "6 - 5."

The TV bug bit Riley again, and he worked for the CBC on Keith Hampshire's new program, "Music Machine." That run lasted two seasons, but before the final curtain was dropped in '74, Riley had already reformed Dr Music, which was working as the show's house band.

By that summer, they released their third album, BEDTIME STORY. The new supporting cast had Mallory, Steve Kennedy, Jollimore, and Tallman returning, and new to the lineup were drummers Claude Ranger and Dave Brown, Don Thompson on bass, and trumpet and horns player Bruce Cassidy.

The album was generally more progressive than his previous outings, with a heavier guitar-oriented sound. The songs were longer, and more complex, and the title track (written by Herbie Hancock) b/w the lead-off "I Keep It Hid" became the only single, but didn't fare as well on the charts or in airplay that was expected. So following some dates around the Toronto area, Riley once again disbanded the group so he could concentrate on producing and engineering other artists.

1. I Keep It Hid (Jim Webb) - 3:19
2. Take That Rollo (Doug Riley) - 9:00
3. Tickle (Claude Ranger) - 11:38
4. She's Funny That Way (Neil Moret, Richard Whiting) - 6:13
5. Gandalf (Don Thompson) - 6:41
6. Bedtime Story (Herbie Hancock) - 8:04

The Dr. Music
*Doug Riley - Keyboards
*Doug Mallory - Lead Vocals, Guitar
*Claude Ranger - Drums
*Bruce Cassidy - Trumpet, Fluegel Horn
*Don Thompson - Bass
*Dave Brown - Second Drums
*Steve Kennedy - Vocals, Tenor, Alto Sax, Flute
*Keith Jollimore - Vocals, Baritone, Alto, Tenor Sax, Flute
*Barrie Tallman - Trombone

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Saturday, September 12, 2015

Graphite - Chestnut Loke (1970-74 uk, amazing dreamy prog psych rock)

Graphite were formed at Reading University in the late sixties. They gigged professionally on the rock circuit from 1970 to 1973 supporting many big names of that era such as Pink Floyd, Roxy Music, Arthur Brown's Kingdom Come, Mott The Hoople and evenT-Rex. Amazingly, Graphite got a billing above Queen at a festival in Truro, Cornwall in 1971.

The band's musical approach dwelt on the imaginative use of sleepy mellotron, drifting vocals and spacey guitar effects laced with melancholic overtones, establishing them as exponents of downbeat, hedonistic prog-rock.

Ever present in the line-up were the band's three songwriters, Keith Allen (vocals), Chris Gore (keyboards) and David Hook (guitar) but the rhythm section underwent a succession of changes.

The group recorded a considerable amount of material using a selection of top studios including Rockfield, Command, CBS and Nova Sound but only two singles were ever released. 

The first "Gimmie Your Number"/"Chestnut Loke" came out on the BEACON label in 1972 and was followed by "Come Back"/" Good Time Women" issued by EMI in 1974 (the year the band split up) under the curious pseudonym of Sinbad. Much of the previously unreleased material is featured on this release. 
by Pete Sarfas

1. Starlight Over The Skies - 4:51
2. Chestnut Loke - 4:20
3. Tide - 10:04
4. Freedom - 3:13
5. A Dragon's Tale - 4:11
6. Dawn - 4:40
7. Set It Free - 3:27
8. Out In The Rain - 3:18
9. Don't You Think It's Kinda Sad - 3:50
10.In Our Country Home - 3:40
11.Evil Arms - 4:51
12.Spring - 8:16
13.Autumn - 5:15
14.She's Gone Away - 4:26
15.I'm Feelin' Low - 3:46
16.Freedom (Reprise) - 2:12
All songs composed by Chris Gore, Dave Hook, Keith Allen

*Chris Gore - Mellotron, Organ, Piano
*Dave Hook - Guitar
*Keith Allen - Vocals
*John Jackman - Bass
*Peter Dry - Drums
*Dave Anderson - Bass
*Billy Rankin - Drums (Track 4)

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Sunday, September 6, 2015

Crowbar - Heavy Duty (1972 canada, great rough blues rock)

Canada's Crowbar is not to be confused with an American grunge band during the 90s of the same name. While in a local Toronto band called The Ascots, Roly Greenway and Rheal Lanthier decided a change was in order,so they packed up their bags and headed to Nevada, and for the next couple of years on a nightly basis they played various Vegas clubs, opening for the likes of Zsa Zsa Gabor and even Liberace. After growing tired of the scene, the group split up, returning to Canada and going their seperate ways. Greenway then hooked up with Bobby Curtola's touring band.

Heavy Duty, recorded in Toronto, was released in late '72 amid much angst among the loyal following the band had already established. Two singles were released "Hey Baby" and "Dreams", though neither achieved the success expected. Also on the album was "The Eagle And The Beaver", a politically incorrect song about our relationship with our southern neighbours, and "Dead Head From St John's".

One of the oddest arrangements in Canadian music occurred the next year. Pierre Trudeau was running for re-election as Prime Minister. His wife was a known Crowbar fan, and she asked the band to tour the country with Lucky Pete on the campaign trail. The bid to gain the youth vote worked, except in Alberta - where he's still hated - years after his death. Trudeau was re-elected, Crowbar got some additional exposure, and Margaret moved on to The Rolling Stones. The over-whelming success of the band meant having to hire outside people to handle their affairs. Unfortunately, this meant mismanagement of their funds.  
by Frank Davies

1. Trilby - 2:48
2. Listen Sister (A Mutual Liberation Ballad) - 2:11
3. Hey Baby (Bruce Channel) - 3:01
4. Dreams (Jozef Chirowski, John Gibbard) - 2:56
5. Where Were You - 4:02
6. Dead Head Out Of St. John's - 3:53
7. The Beaver And The Eagle - 3:14
8. Cluckie's Escape (Roly Greenway) - 3:19
9. Snakes And Ladders - 2:54
10.Lay One Down (Roly Greenway, LOVE) - 4:26
Songs written by Kelly Jay except where stated

*Sonnie Bernardi - Drums, Percussion, Vocals
*Jozef Chirowski - Piano, Organ, , Vibes, Flute, Vocals
*John Gibbard - Lead, Rhythm, Slide Guitar, Vocals
*Roly Greenway - Bass, Tambourine, Cowbell, Vocals
*Kelly Jay "Blake Fordham" - Vocals, Piano
*Rheal Lanthier - Lead Rhythm Guitar, Vocals

1970  King Biscuit Boy With Crowbar - Official Music 
1970-72  Crowbar - Memories Are Made Of This

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Saturday, September 5, 2015

One - Come (1972 us, marvelous spiritual jam psych rock, 2015 edition)

One of the more curious acts in the Bay area group scene was a band (or collective) called One, or, more specifically. 1, acquaintances of Paul Kantner and Grace Slick from Bolinas. A nine-piece ensemble including two female vocalists, they engaged in lengthy, drifting tunes that drew as much from raga as from rock, with touches of jazz and country. One member, Roger Crissinger, the only semi-known quantity, had previously enjoyed notoriety having been a member of the progressive rock group Pearls Before Swine. But the leader of the group was a mysterious man who didn't always sing so much as vocalise in his own unique way, often without words, who needed words? 

This character went by the name of Reality D. Blipcrotch. A former Marine and former actor, Blipcrotch was originally from Elgin, Illinois, where he first sang professionally aged just three years old in his father's barbershop quartet. No one knew anything else about him. not even his original name, he'd had it legally changed, swears former Airplane manager, Bill Thompson.

The story behind the making of One's self-titled album for Grunt, which was released in 1972, is one that still rankles producer Pat Leraci (aka Maurice). It's a tale that both defies reality and defines the broad absurdity of the post-Aquarian times with equal measure. 

Although these anecdotes shed light on the bizarre situation confronting the producer, they reveal only half the story of the musicians and their own paths that lead them to the mercy of Reality D, Blipcrotch and his herb-driven vision of exploding records and free groove-sprung hashish. Although Blipcrotch and his identity has always proved a mystery to those around him, on online source made remarks in a message that was totally un-related to the band or music as a whole and was instead more concerned with Volkswagen vans and a loose relative of his father, namely one Jerry Leroy. 

As the commentator states: Jerry Leroy, aka Reality D. Blipcrotch, aka Jerry Wiley (I'm not making this up) parked his (VW) in the driveway of our home when I was about ten years  old, Jerry Wiley was his birth name and the one he used as a young up-and-coming actor. The second one was his stage name when he became a hippie rock musician with a group called 1 (I saw them do a sound check at the Fillmore in San Francisco). His third name came when he was born again and moved to Hawaii and started writing Christian operas".

Aside from solving the mystery of Blipcrotch, an elementary spectacle on our part surely, the remainder of the band appear to be the threads of a social circle or to be more specific in this case, a Chicago hippie commune. The band was assembled in the Bolinas district of Chicago, ft. under the supervision and direction of Jerry Leroy In 19TO- Their most earnest recruit was Roger Crissinger who had fared better than his counterparts as a founding member of Pearls Before Swine alongside Tom Rapp. Although Crissinger would split from PBS in 1968 he would leave 1 and rejoin Rapp to assist on his solo debut album Stardancer in 1972. Grunt records itself was a vanity label formed in 1971 by Jefferson Airplane assisted by RCA records, ft helped to promote Bay area bands such as “1”, Papa John Creach, Hot Tuna and the Airplane before their transition into Jefferson Starship.
CD Liner-Notes

1. One Of A Kind (Marc Granat, Reality D. Blipcrotch) - 4:31
2. Two Car Raga (Marc Granat, Roger Crissinger, Reality D. Blipcrotch) - 8:37
3. Free Rain (Reality D. Blipcrotch) - 5:09
4. Three Songs (Frank Trevor Fee, Marc Granat, Reality D. Blipcrotch) - 10:08
5. Old Englishhh (Marc Granat, Reality D. Blipcrotch) - 7:51

*Mark Baker - Drums
*Reality D. Blipcrotch - Voice, Percussion
*Roger Crissinger - Organ, Piano
*Frank Trevor Fee - Bass
*Donald Ensslin - Rhythm Guitar, Banjo
*Marc Granat - Guitar, Sitar, Dulcimer
*Sarah Oppenheim - Voice, Autoharp
*Laurie Paul - Voice, Tanpura
*Theodore Teipel - Flute, Harmonia, Piano

Related Act
1967  Pearls Before Swine - One Nation Underground (Japan remaster)
1972  Tom Rapp - Stardancer (2009 issue)

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