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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Locomotive - Locomotive (1969 us, good hard bluesy rock, 2013 reissue)

Guitarist John Ussery wrote almost all the songs, and he is a functional blues player with an appropriately slightly scratchy voice. But the band has an almost ceaseless approach to blues/rock, with a bit of contemporary roots-rock thrown in for good measure.

1. Big City Car - 2:39
2. Get On Away - 3:16
3. Barbara Jean - 3:24
4. All Come Free - 4:35
5. Catch You Later - 4:29
6. Thinking Of You - 4:44
7. Roberta - 3:33
8. Wah Wah - 2:34
9. Don't Cut Your Hair (Johnson, John Ussery) - 3:57
10.Move On Up - 3:55
All songs by John Ussery except where noted

The Locomotive
*Pat Clausing - Keyboards
*Russ Kammerer - Drums
*Skip Morehouse - Keyboards
*Bill Stroum - Bass
*John Ussery - Guitar, Vocals

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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Terry Dolan - Terry Dolan (1972 us, amazing classic rock with psych country and blues flavours, 2016 remaster and expanded)

On April 24, 1971, the San Francisco Examiner ran a piece titled “The Hit That Isn't a Record.” It was about an unsigned local musician named Terry Dolan who was “doing the impossible – having a hit without making a record.” A demo tape Dolan had cut with Rolling Stones' piano man Nicky Hopkins had found its way into heavy rotation on two FM underground stations, and one of the songs, Inlaws and Outlaws, was lighting up the phones. The article would prove strangely prescient, because after the demo helped land him a deal with Warner Brothers, Dolan made a record that never became a record. At least not until forty-four years later.

Music history is peppered with lost albums, those vinyl equivalents of Atlantis – from The Beach Boys' Smile to Prince's Black Album. But what if not only a landmark album went missing in time, but along with it an artist and the potential of an entire career?

“Who knows what would've happened with Terry's career had it come out in 1972?” says Mike Somavilla. “Who knows what his next album for Warner Brothers would've sounded like?”

Somavilla, a resident San Francisco music expert and fan, spent twenty-seven years, on and off, considering these questions as he worked to get Dolan's lost album released. “I made it my life's ambition,” he says. “A long time ago, Terry gave me a cassette of it, then when I moved out to the Bay Area in 1987, he gave me one of the original test pressings. It was like getting one of the lost pieces of San Francisco's music scene, the holy grail.”

That holy grail, co-produced by Nicky Hopkins and Pete Sears (a multi-instrumentalist featured on Rod Stewart's early work), included a stellar cast of 70s-era west coast musicians including Greg Douglass, Prairie Prince, John Cipollina and Neal Schon. Heard today, the album brings to mind classics from that year like Leon Russell's Carney and Elton John's Honky Chateau - a soulful singer-songwriter collection given rock and gospel muscle through energetic arrangements and Dolan's powerful tenor voice.

Born and raised in Connecticut, Terry Dolan picked up a guitar at age 14, soaking up songs by Hank Williams and Leadbelly. Inspired by the burgeoning folk scene of the early '60s, he dropped out of college to pursue a career. In 1965, he moved to San Francisco, quickly finding a place strumming in the city's Haight-Ashbury and North Beach coffee houses. As he sang in Inlaws and Outlaws: “When I came, I came along for the ride / yeah, we were coming into ‘Frisco, I believe so good to be alive…”

In the mid-1960s, San Francisco was briefly nicknamed “Liverpool of the West” because of the burgeoning music scene. KSOL radio disc jockey Sylvester “Sly” Stone was moonlighting as a producer for bands like The Mojo Men and The Beau Brummels. Experimental author Ken Kesey was throwing the first of his infamous “acid tests” at the Fillmore, with psychedelic rock band Jefferson Airplane supplying the fuzzed-out soundtrack. And at the hippie church known as the The Avalon, the first trippy light show projected pulsing liquid blobs across the laid-back country rock epics of the Grateful Dead.

London-born Pete Sears, who'd end being a co-producer on Dolan's record, and moved to San Francisco in 1968, says, “It felt like a new frontier. The scene was like folk music plugged in. There was a freedom, a character. Being next to the bay, having all these clubs that were open late at night, a community of musicians. It was an anything goes atmosphere, with bands everywhere.”

Dolan sometimes joked that he was “too hard for folk, too soft for hard rock,” but by 1970, he'd found his niche in clubs like Matrix and Keystone Korner, mixing his east coast coffee house ballad sensibility with a more energetic, jam-friendly west coast sound.

Greg Douglass, guitarist for psych-rock band Country Weather, (and later Steve Miller Band) says of Dolan, “He had balls for days, getting up in front of our audience, armed with only his voice, guitar, and a fiery, Irish inner-flame goading him.”

Douglass was a key player in the demo session with Hopkins that led to the record deal with Warners. But he recalls that there were problems right out of the gate. “Things became bogged down due to Nicky's schedule,” he says. “Everybody wanted his time and talent, and the Rolling Stones were a tad higher on the food chain than Terry. Finally, Terry tearfully appealed to Nicky, and time was scheduled.”

With a band that included John Cipollina, Prairie Prince, Lonnie Turner, and The Pointer Sisters, the first side of Dolan's album went to tape at Wally Heider's studio in January 1972. Expectations were high. But the momentum was soon halted, as Hopkins was called away for overdubs on the Stones' Exile on Main Street, then a US tour. Warner Brothers hedged on the budget to finish. “Terry had lost not only his producer, but also one of the chief bargaining chips that got him his deal in the first place,” says Douglass. “Terry's album was the first thing Nicky had ever produced, and Terry became a victim of the fact that Mr. Hopkins was now the hottest keyboard player in rock. Terry was beyond distraught. The label was pissed.”

Enter Pete Sears. “There'd been a really long gap,” he says. “It was August when I came in to do side two. The label was running out of money, and there something going on with Warners. I think Terry's A & R guy had left the label, and the relationship had deteriorated.”

Sears called in favours to get a good deal at Pacific Recorders and recruited guitarists Greg Douglass and Neal Schon, and David Weber on drums. “I played bass, piano and organ,” he says. “It's hard to remember the details. We did the entire side in three and a half days. It was just another session, in some regards. But it was good fun, and Terry was a great singer.”

With the master tapes, artwork and photos by Herb Greene in hand, Warner Brothers slated the record for February 1973. But two months before, they canceled the release and dropped Dolan from the label.

Sears says, “It's a very common story in the music business. An artist gets signed, everyone's excited, then the champion at the label gets fired or leaves, and it's like turning off a tap.”

Douglass adds, “Without Nicky's complete participation, Warners deemed the album not commercially viable and decided not to release it. Terry was inconsolable and I didn't hear from him for a very long time.”

Somavilla says, “He eventually moved on and got over the disappointment, and kept making music.” His band Terry and The Pirates, including Greg Douglass and John Cipollina, were beloved mainstays of the San Francisco scene through the 1980s, releasing several indie albums. By 1989, Somavilla had befriended Dolan and told him he intended to get the rights back to his lost album.

“Terry said, 'Good luck, have fun,'” Somavilla says. “When I contacted Warners the first time, they ignored me. As time went by, I couldn't live with no answer, so I tried again, and was told that the master belonged to them in perpetuity. I still didn't like that answer. More time went by. Then George Wallace from High Noon Records was out here looking for lost music, and I played him the test pressing. From the first notes, he fell in love. We got a lawyer down in LA. The pieces finally came together, and my dream came true. And Terry's too.”

Unfortunately, Dolan didn't live to see the release (he died of heart failure in 2012). But his wife Angie and several of the session musicians have joined Somavilla in celebrating the lost album, which came out in November 2016.

Sears says, “Terry's record really captures the Marin County scene that was going on in the early 1970s. It was a moment in time. There's a rawness about it. All this collision of folk and rock and gospel, this interplay between the musicians. We did what we felt like doing. There wasn't much thought about whether it was commercial, but there are some songs on there that could've been radio hits.”

Somavilla says, “I've done forty-three record deals for different artists since 1992 and I'm proud of each and every one, but this is the high bar. Terry gave me my start in the business and to bring this out for the public, with it looking so sharp and sounding so good, it's really gratifying.”

He adds with a laugh, “Now I'm just waiting it for it to go gold.”
by Bill DeMain

1. See What Your Love Can Do - 3:20
2. Angie - 5:33
3. Rainbow - 5:01
4. Inlaws And Outlaws - 5:21
5. Purple An Blonde...? - 4:54
6. Burgundy Blues - 5:36
7. Magnolia - 7:26
8. To Be For You - 1:16
9. Inlaws and Outlaws - Take 18 - 6:08
10.See What Your Love Can Do - Take 14 - 3:21
11.Angie - Take 12 - 5:22
12.Rainbow - Take 2 - 6:13
13.See What Your Love Can Do - Take 12 - 3:24
14.Inlaws And Outlaws - Dirt Leg Mix - 6:08
All songs by Terry Dolan except Track #7 by J.J. Cale and Track #8 co-written with Pete Sears

*Terry Dolan - Guitar, Vocals
*John Cipollina - Guitar, Slide Guitar
*Angie Dolan - Handclapping
*Greg Douglass - Guitar, Soloist
*Spencer Dryden - Percussion
*Mic Gillette - French Horn
*Nicky Hopkins - Arranger, Piano
*Kathi Mcdonald - Vocals
*The Pointer Sisters - Vocals
*Prairie Prince - Drums
*Neal Schon - Guitar, Soloist
*Pete Sears - Bass, Guitar, Keyboards, Piano
*Lonnie Turner - Bass, Wind Chimes
*David Weber - Drums
*Dallas Williams - Vocals

1973  Copperhead - Copperhead

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Mortimer - On Our Way Home (1969 us, wondrous baroque folk country light psych rock, 2017 release)

I can remember seeing a while back an old reprint of advertisement for the Beatles Apple label, showing a one man band who in the ad copy signed to the Fabs label and subsequently made enough to run a Bentley. Looking back now, it seems very much the only people who actually struck gold via Apple were the lawyers. New Yorker trio Mortimer certainly didn’t. They did however manage to get their eponymous debut released on Phillips in 1968, but despite the personal intervention of George Harrison to get the band on board at Apple, the follow up recorded for the label was left to languish unloved for nearly 50 years until its release now. Originally intended to be released after the Iveys album (the future Badfinger got stiffed in the same way too) in the summer of 1969, this record was produced by Peter Asher (Macca’s the girlfriend Jane’s brother), but for reasons we will go into later never managed to reach the pressing plant.

Mortimer had their roots in Garage quintet the Teddy Boys, who cut four well-received singles for Cameo Parkway in 1966. On the back of that they offered the chance to record an album which was duly completed, but Cameo were taken over by Abkco (the company of one Allen Klein, who will loom large in the Mortimer story unfortunately) and the record was junked. The Teddy Boys were aghast at this setback after their hard work, but slimming down to a three piece they threw themselves into work on the New York Folk circuit (even though they were hardly a folk band at all). This got them noticed by manager Danny Secunda (brother of The Move’s handler Tony), who after organising their debut album with Phillips, decided that they would be able to make more impact in the UK.

Details are sketchy but as to why “On Our Way Home” was not released at the time, but a key element seems to have been the arrival of Allen Klein (lightning did strike twice for Mortimer unfortunately) at Apple replacing their fervent backer Ron Kass. One might have thought Klein was nurturing some sort of grudge against the Mortimer boys and drummer Guy Masson was unceremoniously escorted out of Apple by Klein’s “business associates” when he tried to find out if that was the case. Whatever the reasons, in the can the LP remained ever since.

Which is a great shame, because the majority of the LP is jolly good, in fact a bit of a masterclass in late 60s Soft Pop Sike. Mortimer came on like an acoustic Beach Boys/Bee Gees mix up, lots of tight harmony singing with fans of the Lovin’ Spoonful finding much to enjoy here I would think too. Though Mortimer specialised in lazy, hazy sunny day Pop occasionally they did produce the odd tougher offering – “You Do Too” is faster, harder hitting and there is some stinging fuzz guitar, perhaps as a look back to their Teddy Boys days. Singer Tom Smith’s voice is a little reminiscent at times of Mickey Dolenz, no bad thing of course and this song does recall one of the Monkees’ more “out-there” efforts. “Don’t Want To See You Anymore” is a sparsely accompanied beauty and “I Don’t Know” seems in a mad rush to cover as many Pop modes as possible, with orchestral strings jostling with MOR/Easy Listening and Beat to dazzling effect.

Of the bonus tracks “Christine Tildsley” is a very pretty Harmony Pop character portrait, “Last Of The H” starts with an atypical chant/bongo combination and “Ingenue’s Theme” is a lovely piece of John Sebastian/Paul Simon-style slowly drifting Folk Rock. The title track here was given to them by Paul McCartney (later cut by the Fabs as “Two Of Us”)”, but otherwise the entire record was all self-penned by the three band members, showing such a sure talent for composition that Macca’s effort doesn’t over-shadow the other writing here at all.

Sadly the set-back from Apple HQ was the final straw for the band as Mortimer split and though Smith and bass player Tony Van Benschoten stayed in the UK (mindful of possibly being drafted to ‘Nam on their return home), Guy Masson did go back to the Big Apple to play on the Van Morrison LP “Moondance”. It’s a real shame as that was the last time any of the trio recorded, as they were clearly a talented bunch, thwarted by business concerns rather than any fault on their part. “On Our Way Home” stands up in 2017 as a gentle but alluring 60s Pop album of no small charm and merit.
by Ian Canty

1. On Our Way Home (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) - 3:06
2. I Didn't Know - 3:38
3. You Do Too - 3:12
4. Dolly - 4:43
5. People Who Are Different - 5:41
6. You Don't Say You Love Me - 3:03
7. Miles Apart - 3:12
8. Don't Want to See You Anymore - 3:58
9. No Business Being Here - 3:06
10.In Memory Of Her - 3:15
11.Pick Up Your Heart - 4:50
12.Christine Tildsley - 3:39
13.Last Of The "H" - 4:22
14.Laugh Children Laugh - 2:46
15.Ingenue's Theme - 2:24
All compositions by Guy Masson, Tom Smith, Tony Van Benschoten

*Guy Masson - Vocals, Drums, Percussion
*Tom Smith - Vocals, Guitar
*Tony Van Benschoten - Vocals, Bass, Guitar
Richard Hewson - Piano, Arrangements

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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Timber - Bring America Home (1971 us, great rural psych rock with funky vibes, 2009 extra tracks issue)

A curious mix of white-boy boogie-funk and more rural material, reminiscent of Leon Russell and Little Feat, with Wayne Berry apparently the more versatile songwriter: he contributes a couple of the more effective funk-pop tunes, as well as some twangier, more acoustic material, such as the overtly country "Canada" and the softer, folkie ballad, "Don't Underestimate Your Friends." I'd say Clinton got into heavier, deeper grooves, though I like Berry's songs better. 

Several tracks also feature a third vocalist, Judy Elliott, a more folk-oriented singer who recorded with Timber on both their albums, and later did some work with Hoyt Axton... I find her a little distracting because she seems stylistically out of sync with the blues-rock vocals of the guys, but she helps create a funky feel in their choruses.

Also worth noting is the album's political content - the opening tracks are about social decay and the draft-dodging of the Vietnam War era, while the rest fo the songs are more oblique and veiled, fuzzy ruminations about life and spirituality that are pretty typical of the era. 

1. Bring America Home (George Clinton) - 3:01
2. Canada - 2:25
3. Pipe Dream - 3:30
4. Remember (George Clinton) - 4:25
5. Don't Underestimate Your Friends - 3:22
6. Witch Hunt - 2:26
7. The Spirit Song - 2:47
8. Caught In The Middle - 3:54
9. Same Ole Story (George Clinton) - 4:00
10.From The Time I Rise - 6:20
11.Outlaw - 4:42
12.Song For Two Signs - 3:23
13.Splinters From Timber - 6:01
All compositions by Wayne Berry unless as else stated

The Timber
*Wayne Berry - Vocals, Bass, Guitar
*George Clinton - Vocals, Keyboards, Woodwinds, Autoharp
*Warner Charles Davis - Drums, Percussion
*Judy Elliott - Vocals
*Roger Johnson - Lead Guitar, Vocals

1970  Part Of What You Hear (Vinyl Edition)  

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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Zakary Thaks - It's The End The Definitive Collection (1966-69 us, magnificent tight garage rock, 2015 remaster)

Although our hometown Corpus Christi is somewhat isolated on the Texas coast, in the 1960s it had a very active local music scene, which turned out to be the proving ground for the Zakary Thaks to develop a unique style and sound. From the outset, we were hell-bent on growing a reputation of being one of the rowdiest yet tightest bands around.

It’s hard to imagine it has been almost 50 years since the nucleus of the Zakary Thaks was formed. What is equally notable is in that time we have seen over a half-dozen compilations of our vintage recordings. Still, there were a number of tracks which had never been sourced from the original master tapes. When we briefly reunited in 2005 and found ourselves back in Sugarhill Studios inHouston, chief engineer Andy Bradley played us a song we had totally forgotten about recording – ‘A Passage To India’. We were shocked!

Even more exciting was the news Alec Palao had unearthed several more lost Thaks masters, in addition to those missing tape reels. With their discovery, Alec felt the time had come to put out a definitive anthology of our material – and we couldn’t agree more! It feels as though new life has been breathed into our songs, now that they’ve been professionally presented from the original sources.

We have never been more proud than with the release of this collection. The new discoveries, the title track, ‘It’s The End’, along with ‘She’s Got You’, have elevated the Thaks brand to the next level, and hopefully cemented our legacy in the annals of garage rock. The Zakary Thaks raison d’etre was and always will be making unabashed yet well-executed music. And now finally, Ace Records has captured that.
by Chris Gerniottis

1. She's Got You (Chris Gerniottis, John Lopez, Pete Stinson, Rex Gregory, Stan Moore) - 2:18
2. Bad Girl (Chris Gerniottis, John Lopez, Pete Stinson, Rex Gregory, Stan Moore) - 2:08
3. Face To Face (Chris Gerniottis, John Lopez) - 2:45
4. Won't Come Back (Chris Gerniottis, John Lopez) - 2:46
5. It's The End (Chris Gerniottis, John Lopez, Pete Stinson, Rex Gregory, Stan Moore) - 2:58
6. I Need You (Ray Davies) - 2:28
7. Please (Mike Taylor) - 2:06
8. A Passage To India (Chris Gerniottis, Pete Stinson) - 2:34
9. Mirror Of Yesterday (Mike Taylor, Rex Gregory) - 2:57
10.My Door (John Lopez, Rex Gregory, Stan Moore) - 3:33
11.Can You Hear Your Daddy's Footsteps (Mike Taylor) - 2:33
12.Green Crystal Ties (John Lopez, Rex Gregory, Stan Moore) - 3:30
13.Outprint (Chris Gerniottis, John Lopez, Rex Gregory, Stan Moore) - 2:12
14.Weekday Blues (Chris Gerniottis, Dennis Rasmussen, John Lopez, Stan Moore) - 3:01
15.Everybody Wants To Be Somebody (Chris Gerniottis, John Lopez, Rex Gregory, Stan Moore) - 2:55
16.Face To Face (Alternate Version Take 12) (Chris Gerniottis, John Lopez) - 3:04
17.Please (Alternate Stero Mix) (Mike Taylor) - 2:10
18.Mirror Of Yesterday (Alternate Stereo Mix) (Mike Taylor, Rex Gregory) - 3:07
19.Can You Hear Your Daddy's Footsteps (Alternate Stero Version) (Mike Taylor) - 2:39
20.I'd Only Laugh (Alternate Version) (Mike Taylor) - 3:05
21.People Sec. IV (Mike Taylor) - 3:01
22.Gotta Make My Heart Turn Away (Lofton Kline, Mike Taylor) - 2:42

The Zakary Thaks
*Mike Taylor - Vocals
*Rex Gregory - Bass, Keyboards, Vocals
*Stan Moore - Drums
*John Lopez - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Chris Gerniottis - Lead Vocals (Tracks 1 - 9, 11, 13 - 19)
*Pete Stinson - Rhythm Guitar (Tracks 1 - 9, 11, 13 - 19)

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

We The People - Too Much Noise (1966 us, awesome garage beat, 2008 reissue)

Although they were blessed with two excellent in-house songwriters (Wayne Proctor and Tommy Talton) and produced several above-the-mill garage band singles in the mid-'60s, Florida's We the People never captured any kind of national attention, which is hard to believe given the vitality, quality, and proto-punk punch of the band's material. After releasing a debut single for Florida label Hotline Records in early 1966, the group signed with West coast-based Challenge Records, eventually issuing three excellent singles with them in 1966 before jumping to RCA Victor in 1967. This set collects both sides of those three singles and adds in a host of previously unreleased tracks from the group's stay at Challenge, essentially creating, some 40 years later, the album We the People never had the opportunity to make for the label.

Consisting entirely of original material written by either Proctor or Talton, the first thing that strikes home is how cohesive this set is. It sounds like an actual album and not just a collection of odds and ends, and songs like the garage band anthem "Too Much Noise," the striking surf-raga "In the Past," the impressive and kinetically psychedelic "Mirror of Your Mind," the delightfully punky bossa nova "(You Are) The Color of Love," and the lovely, string-laden "St. John's Shop" are all top-notch tracks, usually delivered with a punk intensity and sneering vocals that are all the more striking because they are actually based around fully realized melodies.

In a fair world, We the People should have been a widely lauded and celebrated band, but time doles out fate, and the band remains an obscure cult treasure. Too Much Noise does a good job of showcasing the band's brief stay at Challenge. Collectables' Declaration of Independence release presents a stripped down survey of the band's best singles and Sundazed's two-disc Mirror of Our Minds covers the whole arc of their recording career, and both are worth checking out as well. 
by Steve Leggett

1. You Burn Me Up And Down - 2:24
2. My Brother The Man (Wayne Proctor) - 2:09
3. By The Rule - 2:07
4. Mirror Of Your Mind - 2:46
5. Declaration Of Independence (Wayne Proctor) - 2:20
6. Free Information - 2:27
7. Too Much Noise - 2:27
8. In The Past (Wayne Proctor) - 2:36
9. Half Of Wednesday (Wayne Proctor) - 2:18
10.(You Are) The Color Of Love - 2:29
11.Beginning Of The End (Wayne Proctor) - 1:57
12.He Doesn't Go About It Right - 2:30
13.Alfred, What Kind Of Man Are You? (Wayne Proctor) - 2:28
14.St. John's Shop (Wayne Proctor) - 2:26
All songs by Tommy Talton except where indicated

We The People
*Tommy Talton - Vocals, Guitar
*Wayne Proctor - Guitar
*Lee Ferguson - Drums
*Randy Boyte - Keyboards
*David Duff - Bass

1964-67  We The People - Mirror Of Our Minds (2 Disc Set)

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Sunday, April 9, 2017

Audience - Lunch (1972 uk, sublime electric folk prog rock, 2015 bonus tracks remaster)

Audience rose from the ashes of a semi-professional soul band named Lloyd Alexander Real Estate, which had included all the Audience members with the exception of Connor, who had unsuccessfully auditioned for the earlier band when John Richardson left to form The Rubettes. However, when Werth, Williams, and Gemmell decided to form their new band, it was Connor who came to mind as the right man to complete the line-up.

Audience recorded three albums with Charisma, the members producing and designing the first Friends Friends Friend themselves before bringing in legendary producer Gus Dudgeon and top record sleeve designers Hipgnosis to get the best from their follow-up albums House on the Hill and Lunch.

Their first two albums were not issued in the U.S. Elektra signed them (around the time Elektra signed Lindisfarne, another Charisma group), and their final two albums were issued in the U.S.

Dudgeon's first 45rpm production for the band, "Indian Summer", took the band into the lower reaches of the U.S. charts, but by this time they were exhausted and fractious, having worked virtually non-stop for three years. A U.S. tour with Rod Stewart and The Faces, although successful, brought things to a head, resulting in Gemmell leaving the band.

The unfinished Lunch album was completed with the help of The Rolling Stones and Mad Dogs and Englishmen brass section, Jim Price and Bobby Keys, following which they went straight back on the road with new members Pat Charles Neuberg, from Joyce Bond Revue, on alto and soprano sax and ex-B B Blunder Nick Judd on electric piano.

The new line-up never really worked well together, and Williams, the band's main lyricist, resigned eight months later. When Nick Judd received an offer to join Juicy Lucy, the band folded. Judd later went on to join Alan Bown, The Andy Fraser Band, Brian Eno, Frankie Miller and Sharks, most recently emerging in a Madness spin-off band.

Soon after Howard Werth released his first solo album, still with Charisma and produced by Dudgeon. Called King Brilliant, his band, containing members of Hookfoot and with Mike Moran on keyboards, was dubbed Howard Werth and The Moonbeams, and came close to having a major hit with Lucinda. However, it wasn't to be, and when he was headhunted by The Doors (Audience stable-mates on the U.S. Elektra record label) to replace Jim Morrison, Werth left for the USA. In any event, The Doors did not reform, and Werth found himself engaged in numerous short term projects with Doors' keyboard man Ray Manzarek and musicians from Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band before returning to the UK in the early 1980s. Although appearing live only occasionally, Werth subsequently recorded two more solo albums, 6 of 1 and Half a Dozen of the Other on Demon Records and The Evolution Myth Explodes for his own Luminous Music label.

1. Stand by the Door (Howard Werth) - 3:57
2. Seven Sore Bruises - 2:38
3. Hula Girl (Howard Werth, Keith Gemmell) - 2:41
4. Ain't the Man You Need - 3:20
5. In Accord (Tony Connor, Trevor Williams) - 4:56
6. Barracuda Dan - 2:20
7. Thunder and Lightning (Howard Werth) - 3:37
8. Party Games - 3:19
9. Trombone Gulch - 2:42
10.Buy Me an Island (Howard Werth) - 5:13
11.Grief And Disbelief - 4:05
12.Hard Cruel World - 3:38
13.Elixir Of Youth - 3:20
All songs by Howard Werth, Trevor Williams unless otherwise written.

*Howard Werth - Guitar, Vocals
*Tony Connor - Drums, Marimba, Vibraphone
*Gus Dudgeon - Percussion
*Keith Gemmell - Clarinet, Flute, Wind
*Nick Judd - Piano, Keyboards
*Bobby Keys - Saxophone
*Jim Price - Trombone, Trumpet, Horn
*Trevor Williams - Bass, Keyboards, Vocals

1969 Audience (2002 remaster edition)
1971  House On The Hill (2015 Remaster and Expanded)
1975  Howard Werth And The Moonbeams - King Brilliant  

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Friday, April 7, 2017

Audience - House On The Hill (1971 uk, impressive prog rock, 2015 remaster and expanded)

"The House on the Hill"  is maybe Audience's strongest effort, made up of simple, elegantly arranged songs, focusing around Howard Werth's "electric classical" guitar and Keith Gemmel's tenor sax and clarinet. "Jackdaw" has Werth showing off his vocal range by hollering out the chorus in full force.

"Raviole" is an instrumental piece painted with lovely acoustic guitar and is one of the real gems on the album. There's not a lot of meat on each of the songs, but the use of flute and vibraphone give this album a unique feel and is deemed interesting mainly for that purpose.

The overall atmosphere is quite comfortable, and the hypnotizing effect aroused from the woodwind instruments creates an absorbing mood one might not expect to find here. Snippets of jazz fusion make up the title track, overlapped with some rich saxophone playing. After a few listens, this band slowly rises from being heard to being enjoyable.
by Mike DeGagne

1. Jackdaw (Howard Werth, Keith Gemmell) - 7:30
2. You're Not Smiling (Howard Werth, Keith Gemmell) - 5:21
3. I Had a Dream - 4:18
4. Raviole - 3:41
5. Nancy - 4:15
6. Eye to Eye - 2:32
7. I Put a Spell on You (Screaming Jay Hawkins) - 4:09
8. The House on the Hill - 7:32
9. You're Not Smiling (Single Mix) (Howard Werth, Keith Gemmell) - 4:18
10.Indian Summer (Single Edition) - 3:17
11.You're Not Smiling (Promotional Radio Version) (Howard Werth, Keith Gemmell) - 4:17
All compositions by Howard Werth, Trevor Williams except where stated

*Howard Werth - Electric Guitar, Vocals
*Tony Connor - Percussion, Drums, Vocals, Vibraphone
*Gus Dudgeon - Percussion
*Keith Gemmell - Clarinet, Flute, Saxophone
*Trevor Williams - Bass Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Andy Armstrong - Before I Forget (1979 australia, beautiful folk rock, vinyl edition)

Before I Forget… was recorded at Pepper Studios, The first side of the album contains five songs. The opener is a marvellous effort; the gentle, personal “My Song” which features some beautiful singing and a layered vocal fade out that would do Brian Wilson proud.

The next two tracks are upbeat – “Strangers’ Names” comes first; a song about the difficulties of reconciling your inner self with the externally presented veneer. It features some top-quality backing vocals, scored and arranged by Andy. This is followed by the gentle boogie of “Half the World”, which postulates the notion of escaping from the seemingly universal propensity for conflict; “Half the world is crazy, picking on the other half”. Ex-Fraternity member “Uncle” John Ayers’ accomplished harmonica augments the bluesy feel of the song. To my mind these two songs come rather too early in the piece, creating a musical feel that isn’t typical of the rest of the record. Perhaps they could have been separated.

Track four is the sublime “Lullaby” – a haunting, beautiful song about love, protection and the fear of loss – “Who’s going to sing you to sleep if not me?”. This song is one of the highlights of the album. The inspired use of a string quartet, arranged by 19 year-old Tim Sexton, lifts what is already a very impressive piece.

The last song is the traditional ballad “Willy of Winsbury”, the only non-original on side one, and it treads familiar folk territory while featuring some interesting chording. Andy was inspired to record this after seeing it performed by folk band British folk band Pentangle some years before.

Side two opens with “Mountain”, seemingly a song about reaching an impasse and struggling to achieve your goals. The track immediately reminds me of Crosby Stills Nash & Young’s “Teach Your Children”. It features an impressive wah-guitar solo, reputedly done in one-take in the studio. All very pleasant.

From there we go into “Spiritual”, the second of this record’s real treats. A lone piano (reminiscent of “Hallelujah”) is joined by Andy’s passionate vocals and the song builds gradually, but purposefully, to create the most powerful moment of “Before I Forget…”.

This second-half of the record continues to showcase Andy’s songwriting talents, the only exception being the inclusion of another traditional number. “Lord Franklin”, the story of Sir John Franklin’s ill-fated discovery of the Northwest Passage in 1845 is the album’s penultimate song. Mandolin is supplied by Jock (John) Munro, who joins the band for the last two tracks. Ron Pearce also joins the band on accordion for this song.

The album finishes with the cosmic overload of “Seabird” and, although not as powerful as “Spiritual”, is an ideal closer and a good song to boot. Musical imagery abounds in the lyrics of this tale of arrival at what is, perhaps, the Promised Land. At least, that’s my interpretation. Andy tells me that the inspiration for this song was rooted in the natural world, although no less wondrous.

And, as “Seabird” disappears into silence, we are done.

Most of the songs on this album were written a few years before its release – more like 1972 than 1979 – and, upon listening, that makes sense.

1. My Song - 2:18
2. Strangers' Names - 4:06
3. Half The World - 3:44
4. Lullaby - 3:52
5. Willy Of Winsbury (Traditional) - 6:21
6. Mountain - 4:41
7. Spiritual - 3:38
8. Lord Franklin (Traditional) - 3:01
9. Seabird - 6:45
Lyrics and Music by Andy Armstrong unless as else stated

*Andy Armstrong - Vocals, Guitars
*Phil Cunneen - Keyboards
*Dean Birbeck - Drums, Percussion
*Graham Conlen - Acoustic, Electric Guitars
*Geoff Kluke - Acoustic, Electric Bass
*John Ayers - Harp
*Maggie Russell - Vocals
*Sue Van Cott - Vocals
*Naomi Cundell - Vocals
*Jock Munro - Mandolin
*Ron Pearce - Acordion
*Tim Sexton - String Quartet Arrangements

1967  Andy Armstrong - At Last (2011 korean issue)
1972  Andy Armstrong - Perspective Works (2011 korean remaster)

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