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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Tim Buckley - Works In Progress (1967-69 us, awesome folk psych rock, disc 8 of the 2017 eight cds box set)

One of the most talented singer/songwriters of the late 1960s/early 1970s, Tim Buckley took the experimentation of the times to new musical heights, his all-too-brief career dazzling listeners with masterful mixtures of folk, psychedelia, jazz, avant garde, and funk.

In the spring and summer of 1968, Tim Buckley and band began a series of recording sessions for what-would then have been the follow-up to his 1967 album Goodbye And Hello. The direction for this particular album evolved midstream, and the initial session recordings were, for the most part, set aside.

While two tracks from these various 1968 sessions did end up being used on his 1968 album Happy Sad, the remainder of the recordings ended up not being used on anything at all. The complete sessions themselves seem to have disappeared, but the best of them had been set aside on compilation reels which were filed away decades ago, forgotten until their discovery a few years back.   

Tim Buckley’s Works In Progress is a 16-track collection of the surviving recordings from these 1968 studio sessions, along with one survivor from a 1967 session. All tracks, except those two which ended up more or less intact on Happy Sad, are previously unreleased. And, because each and every track on this compact disc was remixed from the original multitracks in August 1999, even those two later-released tracks have never before sounded so good.  

While many of the song titles will be very familiar to fans, the versions on Works In Progress will certainly not be. In addition to showcasing two compositions which have never before been released, most every other track contains lyrics, or verses, which appear only in the versions from these 1968 sessions. There are studio recordings of songs which have only previously been released as live recordings, and versions of Buckley favorites which you can hear transform from session to session.    
Altogether, Works In Progress offers astounding insight into the unique creative process, and the irreplaceable genius, of both Tim Buckley the writer and Tim Buckley the performer.  
by Michael Goldberg, May 21, 2001

1. Danang - 6:31
2. Sing A Song For You - 5:44
3. Buzzin' Fly - 6:44
4. Song To The Siren (Larry Beckett, Tim Buckley) - 3:28
5. Happy Time - 3:14
6. Sing A Song For You - 2:40
7. Chase The Blues Away - 4:01
8. Hi Lily Hi Lo (Bronislau Kaper, Helen Deutsch) - 3:37
9. Buzzin' Fly - 5:07
10.Wayfaring Stranger (Take 4) (Traditional) - 4:24
11.Ashbury Park (Version 1) - 2:47
12.Ashbury Park (Version 2) - 3:22
13.Ashbury Park (Version 2 Take 25) - 3:28
14.Dream Letter - 5:13
15.The Father Song - 2:45
16.The Fiddler - 3:26
All compositions by Tim Buckley except where indicated

*Tim Buckley - Vocals, 12 String Guitar
*Lee Underwood - Guitar
*Carter Collins - Congas, Bells
*Jim Fielder, Eddie Hoh, John David Miller - Bass
*Don Randi - Piano
*Jerry Yester - Piano

1966  Tim Buckley - Tim Buckley (Part 1 of 2017 eight cds box set)
1967  Tim Buckley - Goodbye And Hello  (Part 2 of 2017 eight cds box set) 
1969  Tim Buckley - Happy Sad (Part 3 of 2017 eight cds box set)
1969  Tim Buckley - Blue Afternoon (Part 4 of the 2017 eight cds box set)
1970  Tim Buckley - Lorca (Part 5 of the 2017 eight cds box set)
1970  Tim Buckley - Starsailor (Part 6 of the 2017 eight cds box set)
1972  Tim Buckley - Greetings From L.A. (Part 7 of the 2017 eight cds box set)

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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Tim Buckley - Greetings From L.A. (1972 us, superb soulful folk psych, disc 7 of the 2017 eight cds box set)

What’s white and twelve inches? Nothing.

Zing! Indeed, most scientific surveys of the international state of the male member seem to indicate that white folk aren’t quite packing heat downstairs. Sure, most scientific surveys of penis size will have dubious results because men are terrible liars, and convincing heaps of them to take off their pants for science is fairly difficult.

It’s studies like this that contribute to the reputation white guys have – perhaps not so unfairly – for being doofuses who can’t jump, dance, or make red hot passionate love. And this view permeates music; if you’re aiming to get down and messy, you’re a little more likely to put on Marvin Gaye’s brilliant Let’s Get It On than Phil Collins’ brilliant-for-different reasons No Jacket Required. (Although if the sound of sexy Phil singing Sussudio makes your chest flush red and your breath get heavy, all power to you).

But there’s one frizzy-haired honky who could definitely pull his weight when it comes to music written between the sheets. With the high cheek bones and refined good looks that would later be seen in his son Jeff, Tim Buckley was that honky. He was totally white – both physically, and for much of his career, culturally – but he could get as hot as Gaye and as wild as Hendrix. He showed the music world that black or white, we all bleed red, and that red blood pumps down to where it counts in the same way for everyone.

With Greetings From LA, Tim is pure sex – cheating and slutting and thrusting his way through seven soul rock numbers. And, at the time, it was a shock. Before Greetings... Tim was a folkie through and through. Sure, he was a little more attractively esoteric, and he was far more willing to mix up his influences than others. But listening to his debut self-titled album – on which he sings sad, innocent, wide-eyed, restrained folk-pop numbers – it’s difficult to imagine he would come out with an album like Greetings….

But we’re all the better for it because he did. While his early albums are extremely attractive thanks to his beautiful, nigh-operatic, earnest vocals, it’s when he gets his groove on that the brilliance of Buckley comes through.

On the opening track, Move With Me, you know it’s on. It’s really fucking on. It’s funked-up, it’s hot, it’s sweaty, it’s a little bit ugly, it’s dirty. And it’s spectacular. When Tim sings the opening lines

I went down to the meat rack tavern
And found myself a big ol’ healthy girl
Now she was drinkin’ alone
Aw, what a waste of sin

he pumps the words out with a confidence and lusty zeal that no one had heard from him before. It was a revelation. And more than 30 years after it was released, it still is.

Things don’t stop there. The album just gets better. On Sweet Surrender, he explains his predilection for infidelity with notably sleazy self-satisfaction 

Now you wanna’ know the reason
Why I cheated on you
Well, I had to be the hunter again
This little man had to try
To make love feel new again.

It’s less an exclamation than a proclamation. He’s going to get his, and he doesn’t care who it hurts. It’s brutal, but he’s putting it out there, and his libido evidently won’t be restrained.

By the time he gets to the album closer, Make It Right, he’s embraced his desires with a relish rarely seen in music. ‘Come on and beat me, whip me, spank me,’ he begs, ‘mama, make it right again.’ Yeah, it’s still on.

Only Nighthawkin’ steers away from sex, but the music doesn’t seem to have noticed the thematic adjustment. It’s still hot, and it’s still heavy, and those guitars are still pumping and the horns are still blowing. Tim talks about a drunk holding a knife to his throat, and for a second, you can see hormones are still on his mind, as he sings as if the rush of near-violence isn’t any different to the rush to orgasm.

Every track is a winner, but it’s Get On Top where Tim really shows us how it’s going to go down. With a killer riff kicking things off, the funk gets so heavy it almost hurts. Imagine the shock when Tim’s folkie fans – used to romantic ballads and tales of broken hearts – listened to a man in the throes of musical ecstasy, reciting a chorus of ‘Get on top of me woman’ – a breath – ‘I just wanna’ see what you learned.’

There it is, right there. Not too slow and not too fast. And it almost hurts because it’s so good. That’s Greetings From LA, and that’s the best album the brilliant Tim Buckley ever produced. 
by Anton S. Trees, 14 January 2005

1. Move With Me (Tim Buckley, Jerry Goldstein) - 4:52
2. Get On Top - 6:32
3. Sweet Surrender - 6:46
4. Nighthawkin' - 3:22
5. Devil Eyes - 6:50
6. Hong Kong Bar (Tim Buckley, Joe Falsia) - 6:57
7. Make It Right (Tim Buckley, Larry Beckett, Joe Falsia, Jerry Goldstein) - 4:21
Words and Music by Tim Buckley except where stated

*Tim Buckley - Guitar, Vocals
*Chuck Rainey - Guitar
*Venetta Fields - Vocals
*Clydie King - Vocals
*Lorna Willard - Vocals
*Joe Falsia - Guitar
*Reinhold Press, Chuck Rainey - Bass Guitar
*Harry Hyams, Ralph Schaffer - Viola
*Louis Kievman - Violin
*Robert Konrad - Violin, Guitar
*William Kurasch - Violin
*Jesse Ehrlich - Cello
*Kevin Kelly - Organ, Piano
*Paul Ross Novros, Eugene E. Siegel - Saxophone
*Jerry Goldstein - Percussion, Arranger, Producer
*Carter C.C. Collins - Congas
*Ed Greene - Drums

1966  Tim Buckley - Tim Buckley (Part 1 of 2017 eight cds box set)
1967  Tim Buckley - Goodbye And Hello  (Part 2 of 2017 eight cds box set) 
1969  Tim Buckley - Happy Sad (Part 3 of 2017 eight cds box set)
1969  Tim Buckley - Blue Afternoon (Part 4 of the 2017 eight cds box set)
1970  Tim Buckley - Lorca (Part 5 of the 2017 eight cds box set)
1970  Tim Buckley - Starsailor (Part 6 of the 2017 eight cds box set)

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Sunday, January 28, 2018

Tim Buckley - Starsailor (1970 us, brilliant avant folk rock, disc 6 of the 2017 eight cds box set)

'Starsailor' is a work of a man with a unique artistic vision. Nothing else has ever sounded quite like this album, even bearing in mind the other albums Tim Buckley himself released. 'Starsailor' has jazz based backings and rhythms, but they are so very loose. It's a good way to be, Tim floats over the top, often with wordless vocal refrains and he certainly isn't sticking to any kind of structure. The lyrics are mysterious, possibly without any meaning to anybody except that they had meaning to Tim himself - but that's to underestimate them. 

There aren't that many words here, by the way - but the phrases come out at you. "You caught me staring / so gently he teased me", for example - the opening line of the startling 'Come Here Woman'. It's avant garde jazz, then more purposeful, moving off into a real funky riff repeated and repeated - then goes off into freeform jazz groove. 'I Woke Up' is weary sounding, harrowing - like somebody presiding over the death of somebody close to them, reflecting upon it - or reflecting upon a huge wealth of sadness present in this world. 

For contrast, 'Monterey' is fast and striking and purposeful. Energy right next to beautiful contemplation, or at least, ugly beautiful thoughts and reflection. 'Moulin Rouge' moves along with French words, and French words sung by Tim Buckley sound impossibly beautiful. Especially married to this happy, jaunty little melody. After the relative starkness and/or darkness of the earlier songs on this album, 'Moulin Rouge' is perfectly placed to change your emotions, to add to the overall emotion the album can provide a listener.

'Song To The Siren', most famously, has been sung by Elizabeth Frazer of The Cocteau Twins - she sang the song and did it justice and it was a performance rightly remembered right to this day. I'd never heard the original, this Tim Buckley version. All I can say is, it's so beautiful, the music so bare, a single guitar playing about five notes every ten seconds, or so. 

Female backing vocals are present in places, but in so few places.... used just right. 'Song To The Siren' is a vocal melody, an impossibly beautiful one, wonderfully sang. Real emotion, "All my heart, all my heart - shies from the sorrow" sings Tim, and I can associate with that. "I'm as puzzled as a new born child" - the world is confusing, and 'Song To The Siren' transcends the ages, a song to live forever. A bass guitar is noticeable during 'Jungle Fire' but it has a hard time following 'Song To The Siren'. Tim really does wail and let himself free, vocally, all through the track. This isn't singing, it's vocal expression, wordless vocal expression at that. As the band begin to cook up a groove behind him... the effect becomes excitingly striking. 

For the title song, voices appear layered over each other, ghostly and disturbing. It sounds like insanity, a true journey into somebodys soul without any words being expressed, although the word 'fields' can be made out at a certain point. Such a song was never likely to be played on the radio and it's a difficult song to listen to. Extremely difficult. However, 'The Healing Game' is a glorious jazz/rock assault with Tim weaving a magical spell over the top and the closing song a funky jazz trumpet based number with Tim again, letting himself go, flying free. 
by Adrian Denning

1. Come Here Woman - 4:11
2. I Woke Up - 4:05
3. Monterey - 4:32
4. Moulin Rouge - 1:59
5. Song To The Siren - 3:28
6. Jungle Fire - 4:40
7. Starsailor (John Balkin, Larry Beckett, Tim Buckley) - 4:36
8. Healing Festival - 3:16
9. Down By The Borderline - 5:20
Music by Tim Buckley Lyrics by Larry Beckett except where indicated

*Tim Buckley - Guitar, 12 String Guitar, Vocals
*John Balkin - Double Bass, Electric Bass
*Lee Underwood - Guitar, Piano, Pipe Organ
*Buzz Gardner - Trumpet, Flugelhorn
*Maury Baker - Percussion
*Bunk Gardner - Alto Flute, Tenor Saxophone

1966  Tim Buckley - Tim Buckley (Part 1 of 2017 eight cds box set)
1967  Tim Buckley - Goodbye And Hello  (Part 2 of 2017 eight cds box set) 
1969  Tim Buckley - Happy Sad (Part 3 of 2017 eight cds box set)
1969  Tim Buckley - Blue Afternoon (Part 4 of the 2017 eight cds box set)
1970  Tim Buckley - Lorca (Part 5 of the 2017 eight cds box set)

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Saturday, January 27, 2018

Tim Buckley - Lorca (1970 us, elegant avant garde jazz folk rock, disc 5 of the 2017 eight cds box set)

Recorded in the midst of his most experimental and prolific time as an artist, Tim Buckley’s Lorca is the musical bridge between the loose jazzy troubadour stylings of the Blue Afternoon and Happy/Sad, and the haunted cosmic residue of Starsailor, the revolutionary 1970 record that follows.

Lorca is the axis in which the natural progression of Buckley as an artist rests. Recorded at the same time as Blue Afternoon, Lorca contains compositions that would not sit comfortably on that particular record. Instead, the project is filled out with time-period specific live tracks from Buckley’s 1969 residence at the Troubador.

Blue Afternoon felt to Buckley like a step backwards, regardless of its melodic strengths in comparison to Lorca. The recording becomes a fitting conglomerate of where Buckley had been and where he was going. Lorca’s collection of experimental music acts as the platform in which Buckley’s jazz-folk sensibilities begin to develop the free-form attitude later fully expressed in the strange and atmospheric Starsailor.

Named for the avant-garde poet Federico Garcia Lorca, the album begins with the loose 5/4 time of its title track. Lee Underwood’s ominous horror-soundtrack keyboards introduce a dramatic, rhythmless groove that’s gently pushed forward by a spectral pulse, initiated by Buckley’s acoustic plucks and a sliding, warm standup bass. The lacy spider web of a song trembles, moving through the listener as opposed to remaining accessible to the listener. Buckley’s voice is the central instrument, his mastery of tone drawing out the emotive quality of the title track. His ghostly vibrato and provocative moans paint a lush narrative, imbuing the lyrics with rich vibrant colors.

Gone is the pop music format embraced by the majority of Buckley’s contemporary songwriters, ushered in is his flowing high-tide framework of composition, where the melodies collide, brushing the shore and then dispersing into themselves in a wash of foam.

Lorca and the subsequent Starsailor have been accused by critics of being strange and self-indulgent. Ny reply is: When you are a developing artist of Buckley’s caliber, you create regardless of boundaries and preconceived ideas of what music should be. Lorca ought to be hailed for its innovations and reckless abandonment of labels and expectations. Buckley used his debated four-octave vocal range to act as another improvisational instrument. Similar to critics of Yoko Ono, these atmospheric and strange uses of the human vocal chords, stretched to their limit, are often puzzling to listeners confined by normal expectations and conventions.

The second track “Anonymous Proposition” uses tone color and resonance to express human emotion, sensitivity and eroticism through sound. Buoyant with silence and space, the song rises like the gentle breast of a beautiful woman in slumber. “Love me as if someday you’d hate me,” is the opening line of the song, vocally draped over the starry-night accompaniment. “Anonymous Proposition” is transparent, comprised of broken light dispersed through a vibrant stained glass window. Created by Underwood’s clean scurrying interjections and Balkin’s erratic woody bass bumps, the musi swirls into a sensual keyhole glimpse of aural eroticism. Buckley’s voice is soothing, mysterious, leading the musical changes as a central instrument, soothing the delicate emotions created by the hypothetical sonic union. This is powerful soul music, developed without pretense — art in the truest sense, designed to elicit response and pull out emotion.

The remainder of Lorca is made up of a series of three live tracks making their premiere appearances. Mixing in these songs with the album’s initial high-flying experimentalism was, alas, a misguided attempt at straddling accessibility. The fact is, Lorca was still entirely misunderstood by critics. The initial long-form movements reveal Buckley as he was quoted — “finally me, without influences.” The additional songs, while still powerful, harken back to Buckley’s folk roots yet still retain a loose forward-thinking experimentalism.

The moody and atmospheric “I Had a Talk with My Woman” returns to the traditional format of Buckley’s earlier compositions, with a melody easily grasped and an intimate narrative plainly expressed. “Driftin'” is an extended percussive mantra, wrapped around a sneaky Underwood guitar line. The ambiance of the live recording is seamless in the context of the record. Soft as bubblegum in the hot sun, the song stretches, pulling Buckley’s chiming twelve string in one direction, while slinking away melodically in another.

Lorca closes with the churning “Nobody Walkin,'” something similar in construction to 1969’s “Gypsy Woman.” The song is built around Buckley’s striding acoustic twelve strings, working in conjunction with Carter Collin’s thumping conga grooves. Underwood dresses the track in funky Fender Rhodes, while Buckley scats, raps, wails and moans in his recognizable style. As with the rest the album, this loose organic approach is addicting. The music feels unique from the moment of creation. There is no pretentious artist act going on here, just pure unadulterated music in the form of a heart song. Buckley searches the vocal spectrum, ranging from his guttural quivering moans to glass cutting falsettos, and the album LP fades with his free-form excursions fading to black.

Lorca remains a musical snapshot of an artist in flux, a musical genius finding his voice and creating an identity. The record is evidence of Buckley’s refusal to confirm to previously accepted musical forms. His career would end up leaving the avant-garde experiments developed on Lorca behind, while embracing numerous forms for funk, soul and vocal soundscapes on future releases. But Buckley’s constant searches for greater and stranger ways of expression, in addition to his fearless sonic manipulations, come to full fruition on Lorca. It is a project that captures the best of two musical worlds (folk and avant garde) that Buckley clearly hoped would collide.
by Stephen Lewis

1. Lorca - 9:56
2. Anonymous Proposition - 7:47
3. I Had A Talk With My Woman - 5:59
4. Driftin' - 8:10
5. Nobody Walkin' - 7:38
All compositions by Tim Buckley

*Tim Buckley - 12 String Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
*Lee Underwood - Electric Guitar, Electric Piano
*John Balkin - Upright Bass, Fender Bass, Pipe Organ
*Carter Collins - Congas

1966  Tim Buckley - Tim Buckley (Part 1 of 2017 eight cds box set)
1967  Tim Buckley - Goodbye And Hello  (Part 2 of 2017 eight cds box set) 
1969  Tim Buckley - Happy Sad (Part 3 of 2017 eight cds box set)
1969  Tim Buckley - Blue Afternoon (Part 4 of the 2017 eight cds box set)

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Thursday, January 25, 2018

Tim Buckley - Blue Afternoon (1969 us, outstanding jazzy folk rock, disc 4 of the 2017 eight cds box set)

Although it's not often recognised as one of his best, Blue Afternoon is an amazing album. Style-wise it continues along the same vein as Happy Sad, but ventures a little deeper into the blues.

It has been said that this album was a bit of a let down after the previous three, this is something we cant disagree with strongly enough. Granted it is not as experimental or groundbreaking as Lorca (which was actually recorded before this) but it is outstanding none the less.

So deep and chilled, definitely one for a lazy winter night by the fire. It is a pretty moody collection of tunes, Happy Time being as close as it gets to cheerful, but then Tim Buckley's not usually what you would call jubilant. Chase The Blues Away and Café are both hauntingly beautiful stand out tracks, as are the lighter, jazzier, vibe accompanied songs - I Must Have Been Blind and The River. If I could only own one Tim Buckley album it would have to be a coin flip between this and Happy Sad.
Naldertown, 2005

1. Happy Time - 3:16
2. Chase The Blues Away - 5:14
3. I Must Have Been Blind - 3:45
4. The River - 5:47
5. So Lonely - 3:30
6. Cafe - 5:27
7. Blue Melody - 4:54
8. The Train - 7:55
All songs by Tim Buckley

*Tim Buckley - 12 String Guitar, Vocals
*Lee Underwood - Guitar, Piano
*Steve Khan - Guitar
*David Friedman - Vibes
*John Miller – Acoustic, Electric Bass
*Jimmy Madison - Drums
*Carter C.C. Collins - Congas

1966  Tim Buckley - Tim Buckley (Part 1 of 2017 eight cds box set)
1967  Tim Buckley - Goodbye And Hello  (Part 2 of 2017 eight cds box set) 
1969  Tim Buckley - Happy Sad (Part 3 of 2017 eight cds box set)

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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Tim Buckley - Happy Sad (1969 us, amazing jazzy folk avant-garde, disc 3 of the 2017 eight cds box set)

Tim Buckley’s father was a decorated second World War veteran whose parents immigrated from Cork. His mother Elaine was Italian-American and both were fond of feeding their beloved son music. He was nurtured by it, fed all the finest works by all the greatest singers and encouraged every step of the way to follow in their footsteps should he so desire.

The shape-shifting genius of his mid-career high was reflective of his unencumbered meanderings as a child. He had the world at his feet and he was free to roam.

The family’s shared love of music was the glue that held them together, but there were deep fissures too. For all the light he was pointed towards, an unshakable darkness seem to shadow his every move from the get -go.

Some would say he was blessed and others, cursed.

His ticket to ride was issued young and the freedom he enjoyed instilled a restlessness and taste for experimentation that would yield some extraordinary music, but also precipitate his tragic early demise from a heroin overdose in 1975.

His prodigious talent with the guitar and multi-octave voice drew other musicians to him, and by his late teens he had assembled a troupe that would include a lifelong collaborator in guitarist Lee Underwood.

He was still only 20 when his breakout second album Goodbye and Hello was released. The jazz inflections, the poetry and the songs in different timings were strong hints that the maverick soul was already finding its expression. But there was more and better to come.

The year of 1969 was a good one to be living out any sort of dream.

Tim Buckley’s template for his third LP was founded on reveries of new colours and possibilities. It was where his skills at using his voice as an instrument reached its apogee. The full range from baritone to high falsetto was given free reign. When the orchestrated beauty of the sound conspired to match it word for word, pure magic emerged.

The soaring Buzzin’ Fly was the record’s peak and one of Buckley’s finest moments. It was a paen to the power of love. It would take a hardened heart to deny that he didn’t mean every word. Hearts were burning at a great height for all to see.
by Donal Dineen

1. Strange Feelin' - 7:40
2. Buzzin' Fly - 6:02
3. Love From Room 109 At The Islander (On Pacific Coast Highway) - 10:49
4. Dream Letter - 5:12
5. Gypsy Woman - 12:19
6. Sing A Song For You - 2:40
Music and Lyrics by Tim Buckley

*Tim Buckley - Vocals, 12 String Guitar
*Lee Underwood - Guitar, Keyboards
*John Miller - Double Bass
*Carter Collins - Congas, Conductor
*David Friedman - Percussion, Marimba, Vibraphone

1966  Tim Buckley - Tim Buckley (Part 1 of 2017 eight cds box set)
1967 Tim Buckley - Goodbye And Hello (Part 2 of 2017 eight cds box set) 

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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Tim Buckley - Goodbye And Hello (1967 us, folk psych masterpiece, disc 2 of the 2017 eight cds box set)

Goodbye and Hello from 1967, is an album that most would consider Buckley’s masterpiece. Even during that explosive era Buckley’s ambitious songwriting stood out from the rest of the pack, and Goodbye and Hello is a singular, personal statement akin to Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde or Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks.

This was only his second album (Buckley’s self-titled debut also appeared in 1967) and Buckley was only 20 years old, but by this point he was an artist who seemed to know where he was heading – a lot like Bruce Springsteen in 1975.

Buckley kicks off the album with the antiwar No Man Can Find the War,and with lyrics like “Is the war inside your mind?” Buckley and his co-writer Larry Beckett suggest that the greater battles – and victories – may be personal. Pleasant Street (written by Buckley alone) is probably the most mainstream song on this album, and it is the best tune here. Street also has an amazing vocal from Buckley that shows his range, and its straightforward instrumentation makes it feel like a lost Sixties classic.

Once I Was, also written solely by Buckley, is a simple song dealing with the effects of time on love and it’s also pretty good (this song also appears in the 1978 movie Coming Home). Phantasmagoria In Two is also fairly straightforward; listening to this might give you the impression that Buckley is the love child of Donovan and Buffy Sainte-Marie. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, sorry – you’re just not old enough.

Producer Jerry Yester (who was a member of the Lovin’ Spoonful) adds some baroque/psychedelic touches that really dates a handful of these songs. Too bad, because Goodbye and Hello would be much stronger if it didn’t go into Simon and Garfunkel land. And even though songs like Knight Errant and Morning Glory are nice pop songs, they also sport the kind of instrumentation you’d find on a Jim Nabors album of the time. Well, at least Blood, Sweat and Tears covered Morning Glory.

Despite being a critical success, Goodbye and Hello wasn’t a big seller. Buckley also bristled at the demands of being a conventional pop star, and his refusal to promote his music through TV appearances and the like probably helped keep him a cult figure.

Even though you could consider Goodbye and Hello fairly experimental, Buckley pushed his avant-garde sensibilities even farther in the early 1970s, which of course was commercial suicide. He tried jazz-rock on Lorca (1970) and Starsailor (1971), rocked a little harder with Greetings from L.A. (1972) and even tackled some white-boy funk on Look At The Fool (1974).

By the time of his death from an accidental drug overdose in 1975, Tim Buckley was nearly broke and his music appealed only to a small cult following. His period of glory came in the late 1960s, and Goodbye and Hello is certainly a lost classic of the psychedelic era.
by Denny Angelle 

1. No Man Can Find The War (Larry Beckett, Tim Buckley) - 2:59
2. Carnival Song - 3:12
3. Pleasant Street - 5:17
4. Hallucinations (Larry Beckett, Tim Buckley) - 4:53
5. I Never Asked To Be Your Mountain - 6:04
6. Once I Was - 3:23
7. Phantasmagoria In Two - 3:28
8. Knight-Errant (Larry Beckett, Tim Buckley) - 2:00
9. Goodbye And Hello (Larry Beckett, Tim Buckley) - 8:40
10.Morning Glory (Larry Beckett, Tim Buckley) - 2:52
Music and Lyrics by Tim Buckley except where stated

*Tim Buckley – 6, 12 String Acoustic Guitars, Vocals, Bottleneck Guitar, Kalimba, Vibraphone
*Lee Underwood – Lead Guitar
*John Farsha – Guitar
*Brian Hartzler – Guitar
*Jim Fielder – Bass Guitar
*Jimmy Bond – Double Bass
*Don Randi – Piano, Harmonium, Harpsichord
*Henry Diltz – Harmonica
*Jerry Yester – Piano, Organ, Harmonium
*Carter Collins – Congas, Percussion
*Dave Guard – Kalimba, Tambourine
*Eddie Hoh – Drums
*Jim Gordon - Drums

1966  Tim Buckley - Tim Buckley (Part 1 of 2017 eight cds box set)

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Monday, January 22, 2018

Tim Buckley - Tim Buckley (1966 us, miraculous psych folk, disc 1 of the 2017 eight cds box set)

On October 2017, Rhino released Tim Buckley: The Complete Album Collection, an eight-CD box set that brings together the body of music the singer-songwriter recorded between 1966 and 1972.

This set includes all seven of Buckley’s studio albums from that era, as well as Works In Progress, the 1999’s compilation of his 1967/68 recordings.

Considered a minor figure of several distinct late-’60s L.A. music scenes, Buckley never had a huge following, his songs were seldom covered, and, as he never made the same album twice, few of the fans who started out with him were still around by the time he blinked out in a haze of heroin and morphine after a long 1974 tour and more than a year of being clean and sober. He was 28. (His last words: “Bye bye, baby.”)

His name never makes the lists of his rock-casualty contemporaries Jimi, Janis, and Jim. But he deserves more remembrance than he ever got: Buckley burst on the Los Angeles and national scenes in 1966 in an explosion of earnestness, grace, and light, with all the pure passion of ’60s youth. With his powerful lyrics, amazing gifts for melody and harmony, and his five-octave voice swooping and shape-changing like Yma Sumac in drag, he was unprecedented.

That light began to dim almost immediately, as the rest of Buckley’s short life became a struggle to balance the demands of his art and his habit, and his outlook grew ever more seamy and narrow as he grew up far too fast in an age when there was a lot of that going around. And it never helps if you’re marketably talented. But his first six LPs were remarkable in their variety and integrity—some of them brilliant, at least one of them horrendous. I don’t think anyone likes all of them.

The first, Tim Buckley, like the next three, was released on Jac Holzman’s Elektra label, before that company was snapped up by Warners. On it a 19-year-old singer/songwriter performs, in pretty advanced mid-’60s folk-rock style, some of the most, by turns, heroic, tender, passionate, innocent songs you’ve never heard, performed with deft deference—the album opens with the chiming dissonances of “I Can’t See You,” then there’s the pastel “Valentine Melody,” the mounting cry of “Aren’t You the Girl,” the seance of “Song Slowly Song,” and much more. Lean string charts by Jack Nitsche, keyboards by Van Dyke Parks. Elektra hasn’t yet reissued Tim Buckley. They should, and you should buy it.
by Richard Lehnert

1. I Can't See You - 2:42
2. Wings (Tim Buckley) - 2:33
3. Song Of The Magician - 3:07
4. Strange Street Affair Under Blue - 3:12
5. Valentine Melody - 3:44
6. Aren't You The Girl (Tim Buckley) - 2:06
7. Song Slowly Song - 4:15
8. It Happens Every Time (Tim Buckley) - 1:51
9. Song For Jainie (Tim Buckley) - 2:45
10.Grief In My Soul - 2:07
11.She Is - 3:07
12.Understand Your Man (Tim Buckley) - 3:05
All songs by Larry Beckett, Tim Buckley unless as else stated

*Tim Buckley - Guitar, Vocals
*Lee Underwood - Guitar
*Jim Fielder - Bass Guitar
*Van Dyke Parks - Piano, Celesta, Harpsichord
*Billy Mundi - Drums, Percussion
*Jack Nitzsche - String Arrangements

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Friday, January 19, 2018

Indian Puddin And Pipe - Indian Puddin And Pipe (1969 us, impressive psych prog jazz rock, 2017 reissue)

Indian Puddin'and Pipe emerged from the Pacific Northwest in 1966, as West Coast Natural Gas. The name would soon be erased by mogul Matthew Katz in favor of Indian Puddin' and Pipe for his Fifth Pipedream-Volume One production venture in 1968. Their story played out against the politics of the music industry, at the height of psychedelia and in its heart - San Francisco. The previously unreleased recordings also included here represent the second chapter in the band's career and show how they survived to create something fundamentally more inspiring. For a band that were cruelly denied a proper recording contract at the time, Indian Puddin'and Pipe have since become an integral part of Bay Area music history through emotive songs that will stand the test of time.

Seattle's Indian Puddin'and Pipe emerged from a robust music scene in 1966 as West Coast Natural Gas. Amidst a scene in the Pacific Northwest that boasted the likes of The Fabulous Waiters, The Kingsmen. The Dynamics and The Sonics, guitarist Kris Larson and bass player and ex-Standells Dave Burke teamed up with drummer Jeff La Brache. a virtual veteran of the local music scene whose pedigree thus far displayed some highly credible 45s. While Larson was a relative newcomer to the scene, Burke, and La Brache's past experience in bands such as The Imperials, City Limits and The Riddlers (aka Rocky and The Riddlers; Batman b/w Flash and Crash from 1966) gave WCNG a formidable advantage against their neighbourhood counterparts. Other initial members included Steve Guinn and Dean Herrick, both of whom were replaced by Mike 'Kep' Kepley and Chuck Bates who shared an apartment with Doug Hastings of the Daily Flash. However, trouble flared when Bates suddenly Left to join the military and Kepley contracted hepatitis, a dire situation that inadvertently helped shape the future of the band when lead singer Pat Craig and lead guitarist Steve Mack arrived to help out.

On the 11th May 1966, the new recruits were given an opportunity to contribute with a four song demo featuring covers of The Yardbirds' Mister, You're A Better Man Than /.The Zombies You Make Me Feel Good, The Critters' Younger Girt and The Byrds' He Was A Friend Of Mine in a small Seattle studio. The addition of Mack in particular, undoubtedly helped in beefing up the sound early on while Kris Larson's accompanying 12-string would always bear the effective, hallmark credentials of their later sound. The major reshuffle had also prompted relocation, with the new line-up opting to move to San Francisco where the band felt more comfortable with the creative angle of the Bay Area. Aside from Blaise Lewark's notable BFD clubs where WCNG would share a stage with The Daily Flash, The Magic Fern, Crome Syrcus et al,  the Bay Area's natural vibe drew the band into what was now, fast becoming the place to be. 

It took no time for notorious producer Mathew Katz (whose litigation with the Airplane and Moby Grape lasted 20 and 39 years, respectively) to invite the band into the studio to record their debut single for his San Francisco Sound outlet. Kris Larson's Go Run and Play and Steve Mack's A Favor were demoed  (with Pat Craig's The Jumping Frog being shelved) and selected for release in November 1967. It brazenly bore the badge of Katz's input, immediately  tying it in with Katz' other luminaries; It's A Beautiful Day, Melvin Q Watchpocket, Jefferson Airplane and Moby Grape. In 1968, they recorded four songs for Katz's latest psychedelic concept; Fifth Pipedream Volume One, a vehicle for Katz's productions featuring Black Swan, Tripsichord Music Box, It's A Beautiful Day, and Indian Puddin'and Pipe.

Katz structured his contracts so that different line-ups could appear under a given group's name, anytime and anywhere he desired. A line-up of Indian Puddin'and Pipe had already been in existence, but Katz would nevertheless rechristen West Coast Natural Gas with the name as well, moving Pat Craig on to keyboards and recruiting vocalist Lydia Mareno for what to some, would become the definitive version of the group. Steve Mack's Two's A Pair and Water or Wine, coupled with Pat Craig's Beyond This Place and Hashish were recorded at Coast Recorders, Bush Street, San Francisco, but by the time the songs were committed to wax, the band had already splintered making West Coast Natural Gas, a mere footnote in Seattle music history. In late 1968, Pat Craig and Steve Mack got back together and reformed a new and more eclectic version of Indian, Puddin' And Pipe, a name that they had inadvertently adopted, but one that sounded more in line with what they were setting out to achieve musically.

Amongst the crop of new recruits came Pianist and saxophone player Dennis Lanigan and guitarist Rex Larsen.two former members of Gary Philippets' Front Line whose Cot Love still resonates loudly today with its garage punk fan base. Alongside Lanigan, bass guitarist Steve "Warthog" Jackson, percussionist Rick Ouintanal (Don Ellis Orchestra), Lydia Moreno and David Savage would help Craig and Mack in their new venture, but not before adding Paul Trousdale. Trousdale was a known figure to Craig and Mack from the earlier WCNG days in Seattle where his group Brave New World (It's Tomorrow b/w Cried from 1966). It would be this expanded and more eclectic line-up that returned to the favored Coast Recorders' studios in San Francisco in 1969 to conjure up an irresistible ambience in a handful of mesmerising songs. 

By this point in the decade, music had changed dramatically with Bay Area groups like Blue Cheer, Gold, and Mt. Rushmore becoming increasingly loud and bombastic. The likes of Joy of Cooking, Sons of Champlin, Mad River, Ace of Cups, All Men Joy, Zephyr Grove, and Birth would revel in other realms of volume while Indian Puddin'and Pipe walked a different path to glory. With a set of new recordings in the can, the band appeared alongside several profile acts such as Quicksilver Messenger Service on 1st August 1969 with local hopefuls Phananganang. However, a collective this size would soon be drawn apart due to external commitments. A headlining slot at the Straight Theatre on New Year's Eve with All Men Joy and Congress of Wonders, would similarly announce the end of the road for the band whose journey from Seattle had been an education in 'the industry of human happiness'. These songs are not mere flashbacks or pieces of the past to digest casually, they demonstrate a yearning to progress whilst finding fluency in their surroundings, and offer the listener much more than a mere chapter in the Bay Area history books.

They offer an evocative sobriety that reaches far beyond the period they emanated from. They have travelled, and survived as a testament to the combined individuals whose legacy will tread time. Whilst some members drifted onto another path in life, the journey for people such as Paul Trousdale would continue, with Pat Thrall (PatTravers Band) in a 1972 venture called Cookin' Mama. Lydia Moreno went on to join Stoneground in 1972 for their Stoneground 3 LP. Pat Craig and Steve Mack stayed on to join former Hot Tuna/Jefferson Airplane drummer Joey Covington in his 1973 side project Joe E. Covington's Fat Fandango for' Jefferson's Grunt Records outlet. Craig later formed new wave rockers, the Tazmaniar Devils.

1. Morning Delight - 5:03
2. A Penny - 3:44
3. Shadowlarks - 9:55
4. Mr. Blue - 6:44
5. Spirit - 11:28
6. Planetary Road - 4:45
7. Two's A Pair - 4:15
8. Beyond This Place - 2:32
9. Hashish - 3:03
10.Water Or Wine - 3:40

The Indian Puddin And Pipe
*Steve "Warthog" Jackson - Bass, Vocals
*Barry Lewis - Drums
*Dennis Lanigan - Alto Sax, Piano, Vocals
*Rex Larsen - Guitar, Vocals
*Rick Quintanal - Drums
*David Savage - Trumpet
*Jack Ellis - Trombone
*Lydia Moreno - Vocals

Related Acts
1966-68  West Coast Natural Gas - Two's A Pair (2012 edition) 
1971  Stoneground - Family Album (Double Disc) 

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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Folklords - Release The Sunshine (1968 canada, dreamy glorious folk psych, 2008 remaster)

The Folklords actually got their start sometime around early 1968 when guitarist Tom Martin and bassist Paul Seip, who had been aping sounds from across the pond with their mod cover band the Chimes of Britain, decided to move things in a much more westerly direction. As the renamed Folklords, they added Martin's wife Martha Johnson on vocals and autoharp and recorded an insanely obscure seven-inch for their own COB label ('Forty Second River' b/w 'Unspoken Love').

Release the Sunshine came out later that year on Jack Boswell's Allied imprint, but curiously slipped under the radar at the time, garnering absolutely no mention at all in any of the Canadian music publications of the day. What's more, Boswell's teenage son Craig was a last-minute stand-in after the band's original drummer went mysteriously AWOL from these recording sessions, thus forever forfeiting his own brief fifteen minutes of fame.

Though it is steeped - or mired, take your pick - in the sober, overly earnest folk traditions of the early sixties, Release the Sunshine thankfully manages to untether itself somewhat with some dreamy folk motifs and sweet harmonies that recall the very early, pre-Grace Slick Jefferson Airplane. Add to that Johnson's haunting vocals and delicately played autoharp and the results are some interesting, if hardly essential, psych-folk.

Collectors have parted with upwards of 500 dollars for those few surviving originals of Release the Sunshine, so Pacemaker's 2008 CD reissue, which was meticulously remastered from the original tapes and which includes both COB sides, is definitely worth searching for. 
by Michael Panontin

Fourteen perfect examples of dreamy, sunshine-infused pop psychedelia with a folk ben, originally released by independent Canadian label Allied Records in 1968.

Leader Tom Waschkowski (credited on the album as Tom Martin). He graciously offered us a band history, lyrics, some terrific photos, and best of all, a rare pre-album single that the trio had self-released. This allows us to offer up as perfect a reissue of this album as humanly possible.

The Folklords “Release the Sunshine” is a captivating album, a notion shared by the many collectors world-wide who fight for original copies, which are few and far between. 

1. Jennifer Lee - 3:30
2. Don't Hide Your Love From Me - 3:03
3. Child (Paul Seip) - 3:50
4. Unspoken Love (Paul Seip) - 2:15
5. Windows - 4:28
6. Forty Second River - 3:27
7. Pardon Me Judas - 3:17
8. Thank You For Your Kindness (Paul Seip) - 3:11
9. We'll Love Like Before - 2:23
10.Suzanne Marie (Paul Seip) - 4:07
11.Don't Look Back (Paul Seip) - 3:00
12.The Slave - 3:12
13.Forty Second River - 3:15
14.Unspoken Love (Paul Seip) - 3:01
All words and Music by Tom Waschkowski unless as else stated

The Folklords
*Craig Boswell - Drums
*Martha Johnson - Vocals, Autoharp
*Tom Martin “Tom Waschkowski” - Vocals, Bass
*Paul Seip - Vocals, Guitar

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Saturday, January 13, 2018

Hearts And Flowers - Now Is The Time For Hearts And Flowers (1967 us, majestic folk psych rock, 2017 korean remaster)

I first got wind of this superb group via a label catalog by the late, great Bam Caruso Records in 1985. I collected all the releases on that label during that time period, so naturally I grabbed a copy of "Now Is The Time For Hearts & Flowers" by Hearts & Flowers despite the fact I had never before heard of them. I trusted Bam Caruso completely as they had never let me down thus far.

Bam Caruso sort of specialized in all things beat & psychedelic so I was a little surprised when my ears got their first taste of Hearts & Flowers. They had a sound that was much more in step with bluegrass, country and folk than the then current psychedelic scene. However as I began to explore their music on a deeper level they were as psychedelic as anybody, they just didn't beat you over the head with it. There are moments on this album that actually remind me of the more reflective numbers on the 13th Floor Elevators "Easter Everywhere" album, most notably "Dust" & "I Had To Tell You."

When I first listended to Hearts & Flowers I was immediately transported to the hills of Kentucky or West Virginia. So it came as a surprise when I learned the group were based in Los Angeles, California via Hawaii. One of the group's lead voices Larry Murray had once been in a bluegrass group with future Byrd/Burrito/Manassas member Chris Hillman called the Scottsville Squirrel Barkers. Murray had teamed up with Rick Cunha who he had met in Hawaii, the duo eventually met singer Dave Dawson and Hearts & Flowers were born (having relocated to the Los Angeles area.)

Hearts & Flowers were very unique by the fact that they were not overtly influenced by the British Beat Invasion and did not employ the traditional rock rhythm section, although they originally operated without a bassist and drummer (they would eventually include bass and drums on their recordings, the drummer on this album has the same style as session drummer Eddie Hoh, but that's just a guess on my part.) Hearts & Flowers were signed to the mighty Capitol label and were teamed with Beach Boys production veteran Nick Venet.

"Now Is The Time...For Hearts & Flowers" was first issued in 1967 and it is a near flawless collection of original material and inspired covers. Larry Murray's "Now Is The Time" opens the set and provides a brief introduction to the band. "Save Some Time" is the first proper number and sets the tone for the brilliance that is to come, this number resembles the criminally underrated Beau Brummels during their "Bradley's Barn" & "Triangle" era. I'm also reminded of The Dillards, Gosdin Brothers & The Charlatans.

"Try For The Sun" is a Donovan song that Hearts & Flowers practically re-invent, you'd swear the song was written tailor-made for them, their cover is both vibrant and incredibly moving. "Rain, Rain" is a Larry Murray original that is a complete knockout and easily as good as the group's inspired choice of covers, Murray's voice is a dead ringer for Beau Brummels lead singer Sal Valentino. Another highpoint of the number is Hearts & Flowers totally unique vocal harmonies. "View From Ward 3" was lifted as a 45 (which of course flopped), this number features another group trademark Dave Dawson's hypnotic use of the autoharp, Dawson uses the instrument throughout the album and it gives the music the same spooky effect as Tommy Hall's "electric jug" moves with the 13th Floor Elevators. "Rock & Roll Gypsies" closes out side one in fine form, this one was also issued as a 45 and it could have drawn some chart action on the country or pop charts had it been promoted (which it wasn't), this number has a semi-rock beat married to the group's faultless harmonies and picking.

Side two opens with an original take on Tim Hardin's classic "Reason To Believe" which reminds me of the mid-60's Warner Bros. sides by the Everly Brothers. "Please" is actually a cover of obscure West Coast psychedelic group The Kaleidoscope (a song from their classic 1967 album "Side Trips."), I actually prefer Hearts & Flowers version in that the group's harmonies brighten an already great song. "1-2-3 Rhyme In Carnivour Thyme" is a light-hearted group original written by Rick Cunha, I know this might sound crazy but this song actually reminds me of the English group The Kaleidoscope (no relation to the USA group.)

"I'm A Lonesome Fugitive" is a Merle Haggard number that is probably the most C&W track on the record, this version is pretty true to the original and manages to capture the classic "Bakersfield" sound with ease. "Road To Nowhere" is a Carole King/Gerry Goffin number (also covered dramatically by UK group White Trash) that just might be the best track on the album. Hearts & Flowers make this classic song their own with Dave Dawson's signature autoharp colors, a creepy banjo in the background and the Hearts' everpresent soaring vocal harmonies (a female voice is added on this track and it is rumored to be Linda Ronstadt.)

The record closes with a spledid cover of Hoyt "Pusherman" Axton's "10,000 Sunsets" which has Dave Dawson pushing his autoharp in all directions against the eerie vocal harmonies. I think this song is most psychedelic piece on the record (though not in the traditional sense of the term.) So there you have it, "Now Is The Time...For Hearts & Flowers" is one of the most original records of it's era and of course that is saying a lot. 
by Dave Furgess

1. Now Is The Time (Larry Murray) - 1:26
2. Save Some Time (Martin James Cooper) - 2:43
3. Try For The Sun (Donovan Leitch) - 2:46
4. Rain Rain (Larry Murray) - 2:36
5. The View From Ward 3 (Martin James Cooper) - 3:00
6. Rock And Roll Gypsies (Roger Tillison) - 2:23
7. Reason To Believe (Tim Hardin) - 2:10
8. Please (Mark Freedman, David Feldthouse) - 3:02
9. 1-2-3 Rhyme In Carnivour Thyme (Rick Cunha) - 2:17
10.I'm A Lonesome Fugitive (Casey Anderson, Liz Anderson) - 2:48
11.Road To Nowhere (Carole King, Gerry Goffin) - 3:30
12. 10,000 Sunsets (Hoyt Axton) - 2:37

The Hearts And Flowers
*Larry Murray - Guitar, Vocals
*Dave Dawson - Guitar, Vocals
*Rick Cunha - Guitar, Vocals
*Terry Paul - Bass
*Dan Woody - Drums

1970  Larry Murray - Sweet Country Suite

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Tuesday, January 9, 2018

John Hammond, Jr. - Mirrors (1967 us, astonishing blues rock, 2016 remaster)

Blues Hall of Fame inductee John Hammond is a giant of 20th century blues, a talented songster whose work has preserved countless blues, gospel, and folk tunes that otherwise might have disappeared from the great Americana songbook. The son of famed Columbia Records A&R legend John Hammond (who discovered Dylan and Springsteen and was an early champion of Delta bluesman Robert Johnson), the young Hammond began playing guitar in high school and dropped out of college to pursue his musical vision. Living in Greenwich Village in the early-to-mid-60s, Hammond hung around and made music with fellow travelers like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Duane Allman.

Hammond has released roughly three-dozen albums since his self-titled 1962 debut, including a critically-acclaimed collection of material by singer/songwriter Tom Waits, 2001’s Wicked Grin. Known as a skilled interpreter of song, Hammond possesses an enormous knowledge of, and deep insight into the material he performs. Signed to the venerable Vanguard Records label early in his career, Hammond recorded so much material during his initial sojourns into the studio that Vanguard was releasing albums long after he’d left the label. Mirrors is one such work, a Frankensteined-production that cuts ‘n’ pastes various performances but somehow comes together as a cohesive album. The original side one is entirely ‘electric,’ Hammond joined in the studio by friends like Charlie Musslewhite and a pre-Band Robbie Robertson and Levon Helm; side two is strictly ‘acoustic.

Hammond’s rowdy cover of Billy Boy Arnold’s ‘I Wish You Would” spanks the planks from note one. Jimmy Lewis’s fluid bass line opens the song, Musselwhite’s greasy harp jumps in soon thereafter as Hammond growls out the vox above as funky a rhythm as you’d hear in the mid-60s. Hammond’s guitar battles with Robertson’s while the greatest master of the Telecaster, Michael Bloomfield, toils away in the background on piano. Hammond’s take on the great T-Bone Walker’s “They Call It Stormy Monday” is workmanlike but, considering how often the tune’s been covered by literally everybody in the blues biz, Hammond’s languid vocals and subdued instrumentation seem rather lackluster by comparison.

Much more interesting is the unusual reading given Piedmont bluesman Blind Willie McTell’s “Statesboro Blues.” Best known as performed by the Allman Brothers Band, Hammond’s spry take pre-dates Duane Allman’s by a half-decade and has a decidedly rockabilly tint that features guitarists Billy Butler and James Sprull chicken-pickin’ joyfully behind Hammond’s twangy vocals. A cover of Mose Allison’s “I Just Got Here” stands at the crossroads of the Delta blues and big city jazz, and Hammond’s gruff vocals slip and slide across Barry Goldberg’s minimalist keyboard riffs.

A full-band version of Robert Johnson’s “Traveling Riverside” closes out the album’s ‘electric’ side with a bang, the rhythm section of bassist Lewis and drummer Helm laying down a locomotive groove atop which Hammond’s roaring vocals and Musselwhite’s raging harp dance alongside Robertson’s nimble fretwork. The ‘acoustic’ side of Mirrors offers just Hammond and his guitar, an engaging pairing that delves deeply into the traditional acoustic blues that Hammond adores. A pair of Johnson’s songs open the side, slow-burning “Stones In My Passageway” provided ethereal vocals and haunting guitar, effectively capturing the original emotion of the Delta blues classic.

A cover of Johnson’s “Walking Blues” is more upbeat, with Hammond’s gritty vocals and aggressive, percussive guitarplay providing a (then) contemporary sheen to the muddy Delta gem. “Death Don’t Have No Mercy” is a Rev. Gary Davis song, done up nicely here with some elegant fretwork and reverent vocals effectively mixing blues and gospel and taking the song dangerously close to Son House’s darkly-emotional turf. Casual blues fans all know Blind Willie Johnson’s “Dark Was The Night,” but they don’t know that he had a much deeper songbook of blues and gospel treasures. Hammond tackles Johnson’s “Motherless Willie Johnson” (a/k/a “Motherless Children”), his reading differing greatly from Eric Clapton’s better-known cover, the song performed here with reckless abandon that successfully channels the original’s emotional energy.
by Rev. Keith A. Gordon

1. I Wish You Would (Billy Boy Arnold) - 2:51
2. They Call It Stormy Monday (But Tuesday Is Just As Bad) (T-Bone Walker) - 4:11
3. Statesboro Blues (Blind Willie McTell) - 3:23
4. Keys To The Highway (Big Bill Broonzy, Charles Segar) - 3:15
5. I Just Got Here (Mose Allison) - 4:37
6. Travelling Riverside (Robert Johnson) - 2:55
7. Stones In My Passway (Robert Johnson) - 3:12
8. Walking Blues (Robert Johnson) - 2:57
9. Death Don't Have No Mercy (Traditional) - 3:19
10.Motherless Willie Johnson (Blind Willie Johnson) - 2:22
11.When You Are Gone (Blind Boy Fuller) - 2:34
12.Rock Me Mama (Traditional) - 2:27
13.Get Right Church (Traditional) - 1:53

*John Paul Hammond - Guitar, Harmonica, Vocal
*Michael Bloomfield - Guitar, Piano
*William "Billy" Butler - Guitar
*Bobby Donaldson - Drums
*Barry Goldberg - Organ
*Levon Helm - Drums
*Eric Garth Hudson - Organ
*Jimmy Lewis - Bass
*Charlie Musselwhite - Harmonica
*Robbie Robertson - Guitar

1965  John Hammond - So Many Roads (2005 remaster)
1967  John Hammond - I Can Tell (with bonus tracks)
1968  John Hammond - Sooner Or Later 
1970-72  John Hammond - Source Point / I'm Satisfied (2007 remaster)
1973  Bloomfield, Hammond, Dr.John - Triumvirate (Japan expanded edition)

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Friday, January 5, 2018

Rare Earth - In Concert (1971 us, outstanding soulful psych rock with funky vibes, 2017 Vinyl LP groove design audiophile remaster)

The performances from which this album is comprised must have been an embarrassment of riches. That's one way of explaining how this live double-LP set came to be released -- that and the fact that Rare Earth's peak years coincided with the commercial heyday of the live album. Whatever the reason, In Concert was the most expansive live recording ever issued by Motown Records.

What's more, it all works in terms of being an honest representation of this band -- not that they compromised much in the studio, where their rendition of "Get Ready" ran 20 minutes, but playing to an audience was what they'd been about from the start, and everything here resonates with the joy of that process. And in addition to capturing the band in top form, the recording itself provided a beautifully vivid sound picture, every instrument and voice captured spot-on, all the more amazing considering the size of this band and the complexities of their sound -- flutes, guitars (acoustic and electric), keyboards, saxes, percussion, and more are all here in close detail, but nothing more solid in the mix than John Persh's lead bass work in the middle section of the 23-and-a-half-minute "Get Ready."

Their reshaping of "What'd I Say" also works well as a concert number, and pretty much everything here is a joyous celebration of what this band and their era were about -- the group-credited jam "Thoughts" isn't the most interesting moment here, but it does avoid the pitfalls of the most excessive work of its period and can sustain its ten-minute length without trouble. The passage of time has also allowed one to appreciate the full technical range of this record -- by 1971, live recording had become so sophisticated that the producers were even able to give an expansive stereo sound picture, which came out well on the vinyl and is even better on digital reissues. 
by Bruce Eder

1. I Just Want To Celebrate (Dino Fekaris, Nick Zesses) - 4:42
2. Hey, Big Brother (Dino Fekaris, Nick Zesses) - 7:24
3. Born To Wander (Tom Baird) - 4:25
4. Get Ready (Smokey Robinson) - 23:34
5. What'd I Say (Ray Charles) - 6:30
6. Thoughts (Eddie Guzman, Gil Bridges, John Persh, Ray Monette, Mark Olson) - 10:47
7. (I Know I'm Losing You) (Cornelius Grant, Edward Holland Jr., Norman Whitfield) - 14:03
8. Nice To Be With You (Mark Olson, Peter Hoorelbeke, Ray Monette) - 2:25

Rare Earth
*Gil Bridges - Woodwinds, Vocals, Percussion, Flute
*Ray Monette - Guitars, Vocals
*Mark Olson - Keyboards, Vocals
*John Persh - Bass, Vocals
*Pete Rivera - Drums, Lead Vocals, Percussion
*Ed Guzman - Congas, Percussion

1968  Dreams/Answers (2017 audiophile remaster)
1969-74  Fill Your Head (three cds box set, five studio albums plus outtakes and alternative versions)
1971  One World  (2015 audiophile remaster)
1974  Live In Chicago (2014 audiophile remaster)

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