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Monday, February 26, 2018

The Illusion - Together (As A Way Of Life) (1969 us, excellent classic rock with psych vibes, 2014 remaster)

By some standards, the Illusion were one of the most successful unknown psychedelic bands of their generation -- unknown, yes, but with three LPs to their credit on the Steed label. Their personnel included Michael Ricciardella (drums), Richie Cerniglia (guitar), Chuck Alder (bass), Mike Maniscalco (guitar, keyboards), and John Vinci (vocals). The Steed label released Illusion, Together, and If It's So between 1969 and 1970.

Their second is a mixed bag – the psychedelic aspects have been toned down and the album has some heavy workouts which lend themselves to the "cock rock" excess of the 70s, but generally it's a lot more quieter than the other two albums. 

The group, as a sign of the times, experiments with other musical forms trying to expand their palate, sometimes to mixed results. Lead track and first single "How Does It Feel" is a close cousin to "Did You See Her Eyes." A mover with funky cowbell, wah-wah accents and a sly nod to "Day Tripper" it made it to #110 on the charts." "Happy Days" is actually a dramatic mid-tempo number with choral vocals and prominent electric piano. 

Throughout the album Maniscalco's keyboards and acoustic guitars are more to the fore. "Bright Eyes" alternates from jaunty to semi-classical with a piano coda, while "Don't Push It" is a riff rocker, with Hammond organ and a lengthy percussion finale, "Illusion-style." Written by Barry, "Once In A Lifetime" was the B-side of "How Does It Feel," it's slinky soul underpinned by acoustic guitar, with an excellent Vinci vocal and tasty guitar from Cerniglia.

With strong A and B sides, it deserved more than it's #110 chart showing. "Love Me Girl" is a good-time hand-clapper that sounds like a throwback to co-writter Barry's Brill Building days. As "Dame Tu Amor, Nina" it was released in Spain as the flip of "Juntos" ("Together") in a collectable picture sleeve. The real meat is on Side Two. "Lila" is a catchy stew of intertwined guitars, bass-driven rhythm and sing-along vocals that should have been released as a single. With it's throbbing Leslie organ and rubbery sustained fuzz guitar alternating with acoustic-based verses, "Angel" is psychedelic pop perfection. Going from strength to strength, "Peace Pipe" smokes from the dual fuzz lead opening to the last beat of thumping tribal drums.

What could have sounded like a bad cliche in the wrong hands becomes a tour de force with haunting Leslied vocal refrains, growling Hammond organ, and thrilling guitar pyrotechnics. I guess back then all bands felt obligated to take their shot at "da blooze," and while no great shakes, "Naked Blues" is at least not embarrassing. A beautiful haunting ballad, "Little Boy" with it's delicate finger-picked guitar and dramatic flourishes is another showcase for John Vinci's vocal prowess. Side closer "Together" is an ever catchier sing-along and was their second highest charting single at #80. The "peace & harmony" lyrics may be charmingly dated, but it's stabs of fuzz-kazoo guitar and rousing children's choir chorus should have sent it higher than #80. The Illusion had shown listeners again they truly had it "together"
by Bruce Eder and John H. McCarthy

1. How Does It Feel (Jeff Barry, Richie Cerniglia, Mike Maniscalco) - 3:14
2. Happy Days (Chuck Alder, Richie Cerniglia, Mike Maniscalco) - 5:04
3. Bright Eyes (Mike Maniscalco, Richie Cerniglia) - 3:31
4. Don't Push It (Jeff Barry, John Vinci, Richie Cerniglia, Mike Maniscalco) - 4:16
5. Once In A Life Time (Jeff Barry) - 2:59
6. Love Me Girl (Jeff Barry, Richie Cerniglia, Mike Maniscalco) - 3:29
7. Lila (Jeff Barry) - 2:37
8. Angel (Chuck Alder, Mike Maniscalco) - 2:58
9. Peace Pipe (John Vinci, Chuck Alder, Mike Ricciardella, Richie Cerniglia, Mike Maniscalco) - 4:18
10.Naked Blues (John Vinci, Chuck Alder, Mike Ricciardella, Richie Cerniglia, Mike Maniscalco) - 2:45
11.Little Boy (Richie Cerniglia, Folger) - 3:34
12.Together (Chuck Alder, Richie Cerniglia, Mike Maniscalco) - 4:46

The Illusion
*John Vinci - Lead Vocals
*Richie Cerniglia - Lead Guitar
*Mike Maniscalco - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals, Keyboards
*Chuck Alder - Bass
*Mike Ricciardella - Drums, Percussion

1969  The Illusion - The Illusion

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Saturday, February 24, 2018

Carlos Santana And Buddy Miles - Live! (1972 us, spectacular latin jazz fusion rock, 2005 japan remaster)

From December 1971 to April 1972, Carlos Santana and several other members of Santana toured with drummer/vocalist Buddy Miles, a former member of the Electric Flag and Jimi Hendrix's Band of Gypsys. The resulting live album contained both Santana hits ("Evil Ways") and Buddy Miles hits ("Changes"), plus a 25-minute, side-long jam titled "Free Form Funkafide Filth." It was not, perhaps, the live album Santana fans had been waiting for, but at this point in its career, the band could do no wrong. The album went into the Top Ten and sold a million copies. 
by William Ruhlmann

1. Marbles (John McLaughlin) - 4:19
2. Lava (Buddy Miles) - 2:14
3. Evil Ways (Clarence A. Henry) - 6:35
4. Faith Interlude (Buddy Miles, Carlos Santana) - 2:13
5. Them Changes (Buddy Miles) - 5:52
6. Free Form Funkafide Filth (Leon Thomas, Buddy Miles, Carlos Santana, Greg Errico, Ron Johnson) - 24:51

*Buddy Miles - Vocals, Drums, Percussion, Congas
*Carlos Santana - Guitar, Vocals
*Neal Schon - Guitar
*Bob Hogins - Organ, Electric Piano
*Ron Johnson - Bass Guitar
*Greg Errico - Drums
*Richard Clark - Drums, Percussion, Congas
*Coke Escovedo - Drums, Percussion, Timbales
*Mike Carabello - Percussion, Congas
*Mingo Lewis - Percussion
*Victor Pantoja - Percussion, Congas
*Hadley Caliman - Flute, Saxophone
*Luis Gasca - Trumpet

1972  Santana - Caravanserai (2011 MFSL Ultradisc) 
Related Act
1967  Electric Flag - The Trip (2011 remaster)
1968-69  Electric Flag - An American Music Band / A Long Time Comin
1968-74  The Electric Flag - Live 

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Southern Comfort - Frog City (1971 uk, marvellous country folk silky rock, 2013 remaster)

By 1971, Uni's soft rock sensations, Matthews Southern Comfort were suddenly without their songwriting frontman, lain Matthews. The band had achieved a number one single with Woodstock (a Joni Mitchell composition), but Matthews was on the move again after stints with The Pyramid, Fairport Convention and a solo career which had prompted Matthews Southern Comfort (named after his solo LP issued in 1969).

Originally Matthews had quit Fairport Convention after recording sessions had turned sour two years into their relationship. This prompted his move for a solo career, a move which resulted in the release of Matthews'Southern Comfort in 1969 for Uni records. Although happy with the results, Matthews' yearned to be part of a band and enlisted Roger Swallow and Mark Griffiths, two Northampton lads who had recently backed Denis Couldry in Smile and recorded an LP with the band Harsh Reality (Heaven and Hell). Swallow and Griffiths had originally met with lain Matthews courtesy of Fritz Fryer who had arranged for them to jointly provide backing for Marc Ellington's self titled debut LP in 1969.

Another ex-Harsh Reality player, Carl Barnwell was also enrolled along with Peter Watkins on bass guitar. With Gordon Huntley providing steel guitar, the band set about recording Second Spring which was issued by Uni in 1969. For the band's second LP (Later That Same Year), Watkins was replaced by Andrew Leigh on bass guitar (ex-Spooky Tooth) whilst Ray Duffy (Dean Ford and The Gaylords, Marmalade) replaced Roger Swallow who had left to join Principal Edward's Magic Theatre.

Immediately after recording sessions were completed, Matthews announced his decision to quit opting to pursue a solo career again. Andrew Leigh also took time out to record his own LP issued by Polydor in 1970. Leigh was assisted on Magician by rock heavyweights, Reggie King, Gary Farr, Kevin Westlake, Gordon Jackson and various other fanciful names.

Once the band had adjusted to life without Matthews, they quickly regrouped and set about recording a follow-up LP. The band now known as Southern Comfort signed to EMI's progressive arm, Harvest recording at Advision studios. Their self-titled LP appeared in 1971 to favorable reviews and all-round applause prompting further recording sessions.

The band's third LP Frog City was recorded in 1971 at Abbey Road studios and established the band in their own right while Matthews was simultaneously enjoying the fruits of his own labours with Vertigo. Frog City's success initiated a third LP with Stir, Don't Shake appearing in 1972, an album that was to be their last work together, thus concluding an adventurous episode in British rock music history.

In the aftermath of Southern Comfort, Ray Duffy joined Gallagher and Lyle (Gallagher had penned the second single for Duffy's old band The Gaylords back in 1964). Gordon Huntley returned to his steel guitar manufacturing business, lain Matthews was reunited with Roger Swallow joining ex-Liverpool Scene member, Andy Roberts to front the band Plainsong in 1972. Roberts had originally contributed guitar to the Matthews Southern Comfort LP in 1969.
CD Liner-Notes

1. Good Lord D.C. - 2:45
2. Roses - 3:20
3. The Passing (Andrew Leigh) - 3:47
4. The Dreadful Ballad Of Willie Hurricane - 4:05
5. April Lady - 3:44
6. I Sure Like Your Smile - 2:32
7. My Old Kentucky Home (Randy Newman) - 4:15
8. Take A Message - 3:55
9. The Leaving Song (Andrew Leigh) - 3:33
10.Return To Frog City (Mark Griffiths) - 2:51
11.Get Back Home (Hubart) - 3:45
All compositions by Carl Barnwell except where indicated

The Southern Comfort
*Andrew Leigh - Bass, Vocals
*Ray Duffy - Drums
*Carl Barnwell - Vocals, Guitar, Piano
*Mark Griffiths - Guitar, Vocals, Harp, Mandolin, Organ
*Gordon Huntley - Pedal Steel Guitar
*Ray Duffy - Percussion

1971  Southern Comfort - Southern Comfort (2017 reissue)
Related Acts
1970  Andrew Leigh - Magician (2011 remaster)
1970  Matthew's Southern Comfort - Later That Same Year (2008 remaster)

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Sunday, February 18, 2018

Bob Martin - Midwest Farm Disaster (1972 us, fine country protest folk rock, 2017 japan remaster)

Bob Martin is a highly talented singer songwriter from Lowell, Massachusetts who released Midwest Farm Disaster in 1972. Martin is still making records today but this one is generally acknowledged as his masterpiece and is perhaps one of the finest singer songwriter albums ever recorded.

Martin’s voice is gravelly and weathered but soulful. Think of a strange Kevin Coyne, Van Morrison, and Bob Lind blend and you’d be right on target. The lyrics are top shelf too, the equal or better of most major or critically acclaimed artists out there. The album’s sound is very close to Gene Clark’s White Light or Bob Lind’s Since There Were Circles LP, a stark, beautiful blend of folk and country that reveals its depth with repeated listens. Each song has something new to offer, and Bob brings us into his working class world with great American stories about local drunks, small town farm life, hard times, prison convicts, and working on the mill.

“Blind Marie” is a moving singer songwriter track that sounds like a classic, it also happens to be the album’s most accessible song that should have gained Martin commercial notoriety. Tracks like the Woody Guthrie influenced “Third War Rag” and “Frog Dick, South Dakota” are coloured by a distinct sense of humor but are also packed with good, catchy melodies and wonderfully sarcastic lyrics. Other songs like the intense “Mill Town” and the title track are dark tales that relate to Bob’s earlier life on the farm and are superb examples of real Americana. The album ends with “Deer Island Prison,” which might be thought of as the album’s centerpiece. Martin turns in a stunning vocal and lyrical performance that must surely rank as one of the great, unsung confessionals.

This is an excellent and unforgettable LP full of rich drifter music and mandatory listening for those who are into deep, rustic singer songwriter albums.
by Jason Nardelli

1. Captain Jesus - 3:46
2. Third War Rag - 2:36
3. Mill Town - 5:18
4. Changes In Me - 4:36
5. Old Rass - 3:15
6. Sister Rose And The Frist Salvation Band - 2:58
7. Midwest Farm Disaster - 4:26
8. Frog Dick, South Dakota - 2:45
9. Blind Marie - 3:16
10.Charlie Zink - 3:28
11.Deer Island Prison - 4:57
Words and Music by Bob Martin

*Bob Martin - Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica
*David Briggs - Keyboards
*Billy Sanford - Dobro, Guitar
*Kenny Buttrey - Drums
*Norbert Putnam - Bass
*Various Nashville Sidemen

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Hearts And Flowers - Of Horses Kids And Forgotten Women (1968 us, amazing west coast folk baroque psych, 2017 korean remaster)

Hearts and Flowers released two good LA country folk-rock records in the late 60’s and left behind a plethora of outtakes. Of Horses, Kids and Forgotten Women from 1968 is arguably their crowning achievement. Larry Murray, Dave Dawson and Rick Cunha had made up the first lineup of Hearts and Flowers, all coming from an early to mid 60’s folk mindset. In the summer of 67 they released Now Is The Time For…. to critical acclaim. By the time of their second album Bernie Leadon of Eagles, Flying Burrito Brothers, and Dillard & Clark fame had replaced Rick Cunha.

Of Horses, Kids and Forgotten Women has a few strong covers in Highway In The Wind and She Sang Hymns Out Of Tune. The harmonies were radiant and the band preferred acoustic instruments over electric. Some of the compositions have attractive string, harpischord and horn arrangements. But it is the originals that really grab the ear.

Second Hand Sundown Queen, When I Was A Cowboy, Legend Of Ol’Tenbrookes and the beautiful Extra Extra medley are classy, early country rock songs that have definitely stood the test of time well. The sound here is very close to the quieter moments on Buffalo Springfield’s Last Time Around or even the Beau Brummels on their fabulous Triangle album.

Larry Murray’s Ode To A Tin Angel is the album’s undisputed classic. Tin Angel is a multilayered psychedelic epic that never forsakes Hearts and Flowers love for Americana.

It’s a superb, challenging piece of music that would not be out of place on Millennium’s Begin album. Hearts and Flowers never received their due because the music they created was ahead of it’s time.
by Jason Nardelli

1. Now Is The Time For Hearts And Flowers (Larry Murray) - 1:27
2. Highway In The Wind (Arlo Guthrie) - 4:07
3. Second Hand Sundown Queen (Larry Murray) - 3:41
4. She Sang Hymns Out Of Tune (Jesse Lee Kincaid) - 3:07
5. Ode To A Tin Angel (Larry Murray) - 4:26
6. When I Was A Cowboy (Bernie Leadon, Dave Dawson, Larry Murray) - 3:36
7. Legend Of Ol' Tenbrookes (Bernie Leadon, Dave Dawson, Larry Murray) - 3:12
8. Colour Your Daytime (James Flemming) - 3:53
9. Two Little Boys (Bernie Leadon, Dave Dawson, Larry Murray) - 3:09
10.Extra Extra-Rock And Roll Gypsies-Extra Extra (Bernie Leadon, Larry Murray, Roger Tillison) - 3:54

The Hearts And Flowers
*Larry Murray - Guitar, Vocals
*Dave Dawson - Autoharp, Vocals
*Bernie Leadon - Guitar, Vocals

1967  Hearts And Flowers - Now Is The Time For Hearts And Flowers (2017 korean remaster)
1970  Larry Murray - Sweet Country Suite

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Monday, February 12, 2018

Stoneground - Stoneground / Stoneground 3 (1971-72 us, exceptional funky blues psych classic rock, 2017 double disc remaster)

Stoneground was formed in 1968 in the San Francisco suburb of Concord, California. The original lineup consisted of Tim Barnes (guitars, vocals], Craig Randall (bass, vocals), and Mike Mau (drums). Band manager and former Autumn Records executive Tom Donahue, a San Francisco DJ, introduced the band to ex-Beau Brummels singer Sal Valentino and John Blakely (guitars, bass), both of whom joined Stoneground.

The group appeared in two films: 'Medicine Ball Caravan' (1971), a documentary of a 154-person bus and truck tour that set out to spread the gospel of flower power to the hinterlands of the U.S. It was eventually released with the far more interesting title of 'We Have Come For Your Daughters', and among those appearing in the movie were Tim Barnes (lead guitar), John Blakeley (vocals/guitar, ex-The Fast Bucks, who made a 1967 LP for Kama Sutra which also included Ron Nagle), Brian Godula (bass), a quartet of female vocalists in Lynn Hughes [ex-Tongue & Groove, a short-lived Bay Area band in the late 1960s), Deirdre La Porte (who apparently designed album sleeves), Lydia Mareno and Annie Sampson (both from the San Francisco cast of 'Hair' - for the uninitiated, 'Hair' was a massively popular musical of the late 1960s), Cory Lerios (keyboards), Steve Price (drums) and Sal Valentino, who were all members of Stoneground, and Bonnie Bramlett (of Delaney S. Bonnie fame], Alice Cooper, B.B. King and cajun fiddler Doug Kershaw. 'Dracula A.D. 1972' is a 1972 horror film, produced by Hammer Films. It stars Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and Stephanie Beacham. Unlike earlier films in Hammer's Dracula series, 'Dracula A.D. 1972' has (at the time of filming) a contemporary setting, in an attempt to update the Dracula story for modern audiences. Dracula is brought back to life in modern London. The soundtrack was composed by Manfred Mann member Mike Vickers, and is in a funky, 'blaxploitation' style reflecting the early 1970s setting of the film. It was not released commercially until a CD release in 2009. The film also features two songs, 'You Better Come Through For Me' (a song which also appears on 'Stoneground 3' here) and 'Alligator Man', when Stoneground were a late replacement for The Faces.

Tom Donahue recruited Pete Sears for Stoneground when they were in the UK for the Medicine Ball Caravan in 1970, but after recording the eponymous debut LP included here, Sears was the bass player in the Long John Baldry Blues Band for a US tour and also joined Copperhead, the band launched by John Cippolina after he left Quicksilver Messenger Service. Sears returned to Blighty to join a band launched by keyboard star Nicky Hopkins, but far various reasons, that band didn't happen, so Sears went on to co-produce, arrange the music and play on, Kathi McDonald's Insane Asylum' album, using many celebrated guest stars, including Sly Stone, The Pointer Sisters, Nils Lofgren, Neal Schon and the Tower of Power horns. He also co-founded a band called Sears, Schon, Errico with Neal Schon and Greg Errica, and in 1974, he joined Jefferson Starship, leaving that band circa 1987, and also working with Jefferson Airplane offshoot Hot Tuna. It seems to be generally agreed that his time with Jefferson Starship was at the height of that band's achievements, and Sears conceivably deserves the too often used epithet legend' far more than many others.

Five of the ten tracks on the first Stoneground LP were written by Sal Valentino, who co-produced it with Tom Donahue. 'Rainy Day In June' was written by Ray Davies and had appeared on the 1966 Kinks LP, 'Face To Face', while 'Great Change Since I've Been Born' was written by Reverend Gary Davis, (1896 - 1972], a blues and gospel singer and guitarist, whose fingerpicking guitar style influenced many other artists, including Stefan Grossman, David Bromberg, Dave Van Ronk, Rory Block, Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead, Wizz Jones, Jorma Kaukonen and John Sebastian (of the Lovin' Spoonful). 'Don't Waste My Time' appeared on a couple of LPs by John Mayall, who co-wrote the song with bass player Steve Thompson. A live version is on Mayall's 1969 album, The Turning Point', and a studio take was on the same year's studio effort, 'Empty Rooms'. Bad News' was written by the often under-rated John D. Loudermilk (1934 - 2016), a singer/ songwriter from North Carolina, who wrote, among many others, 'A Rose & A Baby Ruth' (UK title 'A Rose & A Candy Bar'), which in 1956 was the first and only US Pop Top 10 hit for George Hamilton IV, and Eddie Cochran's first hit, 'Sittin' In The Balcony', not to mention the two biggest Nashville Teens hits, Tobacco Road' and 'Google Eye', plus Break My Mind', Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye' and 'Ebony Eyes'. Perhaps another aspect of this album worth a mention, is the message on the rear of the sleeve, which reads "Rock'n'Roll Is Bio-Degradable'.

1971 brought The Stoneground Family Album', a double LP with one side of studio recordings and three sides of live material. BGO is also reissuing this item, which includes cover versions of songs by such artists as Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams and Swamp Dogg, and it can be found on BGOCD1263. Which brings us to 1972 and the next LP by Stoneground, the uninspiringly titled 'Stoneground 3' described thus on the internet: "Released in late 1972, 'Stoneground 3' sold poorly and the band was dropped by Warner Bros. With no label and escalating tensions within the group, Stoneground played a final concert on January 6, 1973 at the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium. Within weeks of the concert, Valentino quit the group. Band members Cory Lerios and Steve Price left and formed a new group, Pablo Cruise. The remaining members also departed except for Tim Barnes and Annie Sampson, who reformed Stoneground with a new roster later that year".

The line-up for 'Stoneground 3' was Valentino, the female vocal quartet of Lynn Hughes, Deirdre La Porte, Lydia Mareno and Annie Sampson, Tim Barnes, John Blakeley, Terry Clements (horns), David McCulloch (bass), Cory Lerios and Steve Price. As mentioned before, it's difficult for a group with so many members to make both decisions and money, so they split up, but later reformed. Stoneground continued for several years after Sal Valentino left the band in 1973.
by John Tobler, Washington (UK), 2016

Disc 1 Stoneground 1971
1. Looking For You - 4:34
2. Great Changes Since I've Been Born (Rev. Gary Davis) - 3:05
3. Rainy Day In June (Ray Davies) - 2:39
4. Added Attraction (Come And See Me) - 3:04
5. Dreaming Man - 4:46
6. Stroke Stand - 4:02
7. Bad News (John D. Loudermilk) - 3:17
8. Don't Waste My Time (Steve Thompson, John Mayall) - 3:39
9. Colonel Chicken Fry - 4:20
10.Brand New Start (John Blakely, Tom Donahue) - 3:58
All songs by Sal Valentino except where indicated

Disc 2 Stoneground 3 1972
1. Dancin' - 4:03
2. On My Own (Lynne Hughes) - 2:53
3. You Better Come Through (Tim Barnes) - 2:58
4. Ajax (Deirdre La Porte) - 3:22
5. Down To The Bottom - 3:59
6. From A Sad Man Into A Deep Blue Sea - 3:37
7. From Me - 5:10
8. Lovin' Fallin' - 4:05
9. Butterfly (Cory Lerios) - 3:18
10.Gettin' Over You (Annie Sampson) - 2:20
11.Heads Up - 4:07
12.Everybody's Happy (Cory Lerios, David Jenkins) - 3:21
All songs by Sal Valentino except where noted

The Stoneground 1971
*Sal Valentino - Vocals
*Tim Barnes - Lead Guitar, Bottleneck, Vocals
*John Blakeley - Guitar, Bass
*Lynne Hughes - Vocals
*Deirdre La Porte - Vocals
*Luther Bildt - Guitar, Vocals
*Michael Mau - Drums
*Lydia Phillips - Vocals
*Annie Sampson - Vocals
*Pete Sears - Piano
*Ron Nagle - Vocals, Piano, Percussion

The Stoneground 3 1972
*Sal Valentino - Guitars, Vocals, Percussion
*Lynne Hughes - Vocals
*Deirdre La Porte - Vocals
*Lydia Moreno - Vocals
*Annie Sampson - Vocals
*Tim Barnes - Guitars, Vocals
*John Blakeley - Guitars
*Terence V. Clements - Horns
*Cory Lerios - Keyboards, Vocals
*David McCullough - Bass
*Steve Price - Drums, Percussion

1971 Stoneground - Stoneground
1971 Stoneground - Family Album
1973  Stoneground - The Last Dance (2001 release)
Related Acts
1964-66  Beau Brummels - Autumn Of Their Years
1965  Introducing The Beau Brummels (Sundazed edition)
1966  Beau Brummels' 66 (Japan edition)
1967  Beau Brummels - Triangle
1969  Beau Brummels - Bradley's Barn
1974  Beau Brummels - Live
1975  Beau Brummels
1969  Tongue And Groove - Tongue And Groove (2009 remaster)
1969  Indian Puddin And Pipe - Indian Puddin And Pipe (2017 reissue) 
1970  Lynne Hughes - Freeway Gypsy (Vinyl edition)

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Friday, February 9, 2018

Ron Davies - Silent Song Through The Land (1970 us, fantastic folk country silky rock, 2013 japan mini LP remaster)

Ron Davies was born in Shreveport, Louisiana during the time his father, a country singer from Texarkana, was performing on the famed Louisiana Hayride. He spent his early years in the Texas/Oklahoma region before moving to Washington state, where his mother remarried. He was given his first guitar at the age of eleven, and immediately began writing his own songs. Influenced by the music of Lavern Baker, Hughey “Piano” Smith, Blind Lemon Jefferson, The Everly Brothers and the melodies of great songwriters like Boudleaux & Felice Bryant, Ron’s songs took on sophistication in composition that was uncommon for one of his age. By the time he was seventeen, he had written an album’s worth of stellar material for Seattle based, rock band, The Wailers, who had gained national attention for their instrumental hit, Tall Cool One.

At nineteen, Ron landed a publishing deal with Trident Records in San Francisco, where he met his friend and songwriting mentor, Tim Hardin. His unique singing and writing ability (referred to by Joan Baez as a cross between Bob Dylan and John Lennon) soon came to the attention of A&M record executives in Los Angeles, who signed him to record his debut album, Silent Song Through The Land. Produced by Chad Stewart and featuring Jim Keltner on drums and Leon Russell on piano, the record contained nine brilliantly written originals including Ron’s gritty, blues standard, It Ain’t Easy. 

Though often mis-credited to Ray Davies of The Kinks, the song gained international fame when it was recorded by Three Dog Night and British pop singer, David Bowie, on his RCA album, Ziggy Stardust. Before long, Ron Davies’ songs were in demand and being recorded by artists like Joe Cocker, Helen Reddy, Dave Edmunds, Maria Muldaur, Long John Bauldrey, Merry Clayton, Steppenwolf’s John Kay and many others. 

1. It Ain't Easy - 3:30
2. What Life Must Be Like For Some - 2:26
3. Change - 2:51
4. Clown - 4:12
5. Silent Song Through The Land - 2:33
6. Yesterday Is All I Want - 2:46
7. Open Road, The Open Sky - 2:54
8. Lover And The Loved - 6:06
Words and Music by Ron Davies

*Ron Davies - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
*Mike Daesy - Lead Guitar
*Dimitri Callas - Lead Guitar
*Leon Russell - Piano
*Mike Lang - Piano
Larry Knechtel - Organ
*Chad Stuart - Bass
*Jim Keltner - Drums
*Vicki Davies - Harmony Vocals
*Doug Dilleard - Banjo, Mandolin
*Byron Berline - Banjo, Mandolin
*Merry Clayton - Background Voices
*Clydie King - Background Voices
*Venetta Fields - Background Voices

1978  Ron Davies ‎– I Don't Believe It (2010 korean remaster) 

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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Arlo Guthrie - Washington County (1970 us, marvelous folk rock, 2004 digipak remaster)

Some of the cream of Los Angeles's better roots rock players supported Guthrie on his first album of the 1970s, including Ry Cooder, Chris Ethridge, Richie Hayward, Doug Dillard, Clarence White, and Hoyt Axton. Occasionally, he went back to purer folk arrangements, with the banjo-driven instrumental title track and the cover of father Woody Guthrie's "Lay Down Little Doggies." But for the most part, it was in the newly emerging singer/songwriter mold, mellow yet committed. 

While the results had Guthrie continue his process of more comfortably integrating contemporary rock into his music, it's also a little too low-energy on the whole in its mildly countrified singer/songwriter folk-rock. "Gabriel's Mother Hiway Ballad #16 Blues," "If You Would Just Drop By," and "I Want to Be Around" are all above average for the genre, but some of the other material was blander. 

The highlight, actually, was one of the few non-originals, a cover of Bob Dylan's "Percy's Song" (which Dylan himself had not released at that point). Few have picked up on it, but it's one of the better Dylan interpretations, Guthrie's reading a fine vehicle for the slightly weary contemplation of the lengthy lyric, given a sympathetic light string arrangement. 
by Richie Unterberger

1. Introduction - 3:22
2. Fencepost Blues - 3:11
3. Gabriel's Mother's Highway Ballad #16 - 6:25
4. Washington County - 1:59
5. Valley To Pray - 2:46
6. Lay Down Little Doggies (Woody Guthrie) - 3:21
7. I Could Be Singing - 3:20
8. If You Would Just Drop By - 4:24
9. Percy's Song (Bob Dylan) - 4:58
10.I Want To Be Around - 2:46
All Music and Lyrics by Arlo Guthrie except where indicated

*Arlo Guthrie - Banjo, Guitar, Piano, Autoharp, Harp, Vocals
*Hoyt Axton - Bass Vocals
*Ry Cooder - Bottleneck Guitar
*Doug Dillard - Banjo
*Chris Ethridge - Bass
*Richard Hayward - Drums
*John Pilla - Guitar, Autoharp, Harmony Vocals
*Gary Walters - Bass
*Clarence White - Electric Guitar

1967  Arlo Guthrie - Alice's Restaurant 
1968  Arlo Guthrie - Arlo 

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Monday, February 5, 2018

Shawn Phillips - Transcendence (1978 us, awesome soft prog rock, 2015 remaster)

Shawn Phillips - somewhat maverick singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist of phenomenal talent and cult status - has remained an enigma of uncategorisable nature for the past 45 years. I've enjoyed some of his music enormously, found some of it challenging and exciting, and yet found other of his albums unaccountably bland and uninvolving or else impossible to get into.

The good guys at Talking Elephant doggedly continue their programme of Shawn Phillips reissues now with an album dating back to what many see as a career-high, the late 1970s - 1978, to be exact, although for some unaccountable reason this information is completely absent from the package. What can there be to be ashamed of? For it's a strong set, a stylish classical-oriented AOR opus with plenty of accomplished writing and playing, fulsome and capable orchestral arrangements.

Naturally, it's dated, in the good prog-rock sense, and some of its gestures might now seem overblown, but Shawn's vision is consistent and often more fascinatingly all-embracing than he's given credit for. There's much contrast here, with outright rock (I'm An American Child) set unashamedly alongside affectionate country-tinged romancer Good Evening Madam, massive orchestral driving funk (Julia's Letters), classical pretensions that wouldn't have sounded out of place on Future-Passed Moodies (the beautiful, lush pastel of Implications), florid orchestral chanson (Lament Pour L'Enfant Mort) and delicate pastoral balladry (Lady In Violet): a slightly out-of-kilter mix perhaps, with vocals that can border on the histrionic at times yet remaining in control, staying just the right side of pomp. Charming, and not a little frightening.

Transcendence is a curious artefact, in that it sounds both of its time and out of its time, and even listening to it today, more than a touch unearthly.
by David Kidman

1. Take It Easy - 4:46
2. I'm An American Child (On A Nuclear Pile) - 4:26
3. Implications - 5:22
4. Lady In Violet - 5:09
5. Good Evening Madam - 2:31
6. Lament Pour L'enfant Mort - 5:50
7. Julia's Letters - 3:20
8. Motes Of Dust - 5:43
9. Ease Your Mind - 2:49
Music and Lyrics by Shawn Phillips except track #9 by Michael Kamen

*Shawn Phillips - Guitars, Sitar, Synthesizer, Vocals
*John Pierce - Bass
*Jeff Porcaro - Drums
*Peter Robinson - Piano
*Leland Sklar - Bass
*Michael Baird - Drums
*Mike Botts - Drums
*Michael Clark - Drums
*Mark Curry - Keyboards, Piano
*Richard Greene - Violin
*Rick Hart - Bass, Fuzz Bass
*Paul Jackson, Jr. - Bass
*Michael Kamen - Oboe, Orchestral Arrangements, Piano
*Scott MacDonald - Piano
*Robin Miller - Mandolin
*Chris Neilsen - E-Bow, Guitar, Acoustic Guitar
*M.L. Benoit  - Percussion, Waterphone

1970  Shawn Phillips - Contribution / Second Contribution (2009 remaster)
1969-72  Shawn Phillips - Faces (2014 remaster)
1974  Shawn Phillips - Furthermore (2014 issue)
1976  Shawn Phillips - Rumplestiltskin's Resolve (2013 remaster)
1977  Shawn Phillips - Spaced (2013 remaster)

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Friday, February 2, 2018

Goliath - Goliath (1970 us, astonishing hard classic rock, 2009 remix and mastered)

Goliath was formed in 1969 when the Sons of Sound, Kicks and the XL's dissolved. The only problem was that there were 3 bass players, so one became the guitar play and the other a head shaking, screaming banshee front man (Charlie hope your ok with this, didn't mention sticking your head in the bass drum) The first incarnation was Steve Peters, drums, Bill Peters, bass, Ted Bennett, Hammond Organ, George "Charlie" Egy, front man, and George Phelps, guitar.

In a matter of a few months Ted left us and Paul "Doug" (the Golden Throat) Mason joined us on the Hammond B3. This was the line up that was involved with the songs on this CD. I must note with exception the guitar playing and singing on the version of Kentucky Roads was Joe Adams and Jim Kitchen. I swear there used to be another but I am getting old and I do like the song, though this version is a bit poppy for me.

We referred to ourselves as a run and jump band, the idea was that if we were very active and wild on stage no one would notice the lack of talent. I know...speak for yourself and I am, since I was just learning to ptay lead guitar. The truth of the matter was there were a few of us that thought it was a good idea to chug a bottle of Boones Farm before going on stage and believe me that loosened you up. That wasn't really mformaldehyde was it?

It was a lot of fun for me to listen to this CD, brought back found memories of growing up in the Midwest. I can't think about Goliath with out mentioning the farm where we practiced and partied, the old Cadillac we kept running with STP and Hank Cordell wherever you are. I have to thank Steve Peters; he taught me a lot about playing guitar, professionalism, showmanship and the finer art of Euker.

Doug, Charlie and I left and joined the Carnations which became Raven, We had a great time working with the outstanding horn section and I have to say those years were our most prolific in writing and performing of our careers. Doug and I still to this day get together and play and it is my fault not as often as we like. Charlie made it down to Atlanta from Detroit last year for a Raven reunion; sadly this year's reunion was postponed to illness.

The Peters brothers kept Goliath going through the 70's, notable players with them being Dave Graham, Joe Adams, Bob, Harris, Paul Bays, Frenchy Massinon, Dave Wood and Jim Kitchen. I am probably leaving some out for which I apologize.

I could go on reminiscing but it is probably more of a rambling, so enjoy the record and hopefully you will end up in a pile on the floor as we did at the end of our show.
by George Phelps, August 2009

1. Taking Back Roads (Steve Peters) - 3:02
2. Chessboard Kings (Steve Peters, Paul "Doug" Mason) - 2:49
3. I Feel Like I'm Gonna Die (George "Charlie" Egy III) - 2:33
4. Kwak (George Phelps, Paul "Doug" Mason) - 6:19
5. Sunny Days (Paul "Doug" Mason) - 3:04
6. Kentucky Roads (George "Charlie" Egylll) - 3:00
7. Innocence Of My Mind (Steve Peters) - 3:04
8. In the Summertime (Paul "Doug" Mason) - 2:52
9. I Think It's Kind Of Nice (Steve Peters) - 2:32
10.Mother Rat (Steve Peters) - 2:32
11.Words (Paul "Doug" Mason) - 2:55
12.It's Your Land (Steve Peters) - 2:30

The Goliath
*Steve Peters - Drums
*Bill Peters - Bass
*Paul "Doug"  Mason - Hammond B3
*George Phelps - Guitar
*George "Charlie" Egy - Vocals
*Joe Adams - Guitar (Track 6)
*Jim Kitchen - Vocals (Track 6)

1972  Goliath - Hot Rock And Thunder 
Related Act
1965-66  The Misunderstood - Before The Dream Faded

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