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Monday, May 28, 2018

Dreams ‎– Dreams / Imagine My Surprise (1970-71 us, incredible jazz fusion psych brass rock, 2010 double disc remaster)

Dreams existed between 1969 and 1972. They originally consisted of singer, guitarist and keyboards player Jeff Kent, bassist Doug Lubahn and drummer Mark Whittaker. Soon the trio became a septet with percussionist Angel Allende, John Abercrombie on guitar, trombonist Barry Rogers, Michael Brecker on tenor sax and Randy Brecker on trumpet joining them. Mark Whittaker departed and Billy Cobham took up the drum stool, and with the addition of Edward Vernon as singer and the departure of Angel Allende, the Dreams line up was complete. 

Their approach was interesting as well as novel, recording their albums 'live' and working on a 'traditional' method of making up horn arrangements to suit the songs while «recording instead of using formulized  arrangements scored for horns and rhythm , section. Musically their style varied between soul/pop and jazz rock as if their axis swayed between FM radio respect, cult appeal and Top 40 chart success. 

The principal difference between Dreams and most other brass infused bands was, according to their album sleeve notes, that they didn't work from written arrangements but rather worked them out 'Trad' or 'New Orleans style', playing whatever came into their heads and I waiting for something to gel. This was a great achievement coming from a mostly white a band - incorporating a link with traditional jazz forms in a modern setting.

Dreams soon became a popular live band in the New York and Chicago areas and headed to Los Angeles. There they played a battle of the bands between Dreams and ] Geils Band for a recording contract with Atlantic Records as the prize. The boisterous rhythm and blues-based J. Geils Band from Boston was signed to Atlantic but Dreams made their own reputation. There were eyewitness reports of Dreams knocking the audience out and changing musical perceptions. Dreams tore the place down and people's eyes opened at the compulsive Panamanian drummer Billy Cobham. 

After the Atlantic battle of the bands sessions, Dreams received a contract from CBS Records who signed them in 1970. They began work on their debut album, Dreams  (CBS US 30225), which was also issued in the ' UK (CBS 64203) and the band was represented on the 1971 compilation Together with New York City. For Dreams they selected Fred Weinberg as their producer, composer and sound engineer, whose work included albums for Eddie Palmieri, Tito Puente, La Lupe, Mongo Santamaria, Celia Cruz, Illustration (Alan Lorber's group), Little Anthony and many others. Phil Ramone, another highly respected producer and studio owner for whom Weinberg worked at the time at a studio named A & R in New York City, gave his blessings to Weinberg to record the Dreams IP at CBS Studios in New York City and complete the recordings at CBS Studios in Chicago.

Dreams was recorded mostly live in the studio and the track listing ran as follows; Devil Lady, 15 Miles To Provo, The Maryanne, Holli Be Home, Try Me, Dream Suite: Asset Stop/Jane/Crunchy Grenola and New York. All tracks were original compositions by Jeff Kent and Doug Lubahn. The album highlighted their talents for writing catchy jazz/pop/rock songs and the band's individual musical expertise. The album was recorded mostly live which added to the fresh spontaneous atmosphere of the recording.

Dreams featured a mix of catchy songs with great horn licks and impassioned vocals from Edward Vernon; while an accomplished debut album, the individual musicians were beginning to stylistically assert themselves at the time. John Abercrombie's brief but eclectic guitar breaks on Devil Lady offers a hint of what was to come in his own later recordings, and Randy Brecker's trumpet and flugelhorn fills embellish pieces like Holli Be Home and 15 Miles To Provo very nicely. While five conventional soul/jazz/ rock songs occupied side one, the second side was dominated by an extended epic composition typical of the time. The three part and fourteen minute long Dream Suite was an extended composition featuring stylistically outstanding work from Billy Cobham showing his powerful style on the drum kit and contributing an unbelievable, energetic drum solo, and with saxophonist Michael Brecker excelling on Asset Stop. 

At the time Michael and Randy Brecker were barely out of their teens and had a glittering career before them. Billy Cobham's playing caught the attention of John McLaughlin and later led to his gig with the Mahavishnu Orchestra, and John Abercrombie would make a considerable career as a soloist on ECM Records. While most of the players had jazz backgrounds, the music is an eclection of jazz, rock, and pop with some of the tracks harkening to folk roots as well. Recorded mostly live to recapture the band's energetic performances, Dreams was an accurate reflection of the open-minded musical attitude that existed at the time, and takes the sophisticated and more loosely structured horn charts and solos of jazz and places them over a rock oriented rhythm section. The results are always listenable, never boring, and often surprising. All of the pieces contain musical subtleties that make this recording special. Certainly, many of the ideas expressed here were well above those expressed by Chicago and BS’n’T,  yet the music is just as accessible and has its own distinctive character.

Dreams' second album Imagine my Surprise was issued in 1971 in the US (CBS US 30960). A British and European release came in early 1972 with the catalogue number of CBS 64597. Tracks featured mostly original material by Jeff Kent and Doug Lubahn including Calico Baby, Why Can't I Find A Home, Child Of Wisdom, Just Be Ourselves, I Can't Hear You, Here She Comes Now, Don't Cry and My Lady, plus a cover of Traffic's Medicated Goo as featured on their live album Welcome to the Canteen. The song was composed by Steve Winwood and producer Jimmy Miller, who would later work with The Rolling Stones. Calico Baby was featured on The Music People sampler issued by CBS in April 1972 on the American and European markets. Imagine My Surprise retained the Brecker brothers, Billy Cobham, Barry Rogers and Edward Vernon from the line up that recorded Dreams. Bob Mann on guitars, flugelhorn and vocals replaced John Abercrombie. Jeff Kent (keyboards] was replaced by Don Grolnick, and Will Lee [bass) replaced Doug Lubahn, who left the band to tour with the reformed Doors.

Album producer Steve Cropper contributed additional guitar on Calico Baby and superb background vocals on Don't Cry My Lady and Child Of Wisdom. Original percussionist Angel Allende played conga drums on Calico Baby and Toni Torrence featured on background vocals on Find A Home. Imagine My Surprise featured musicianship of incomparable beauty and a master class in jazz composition. Just Be Ourselves had a vocal by bassist Will Lee, and suggested a haunting tribute to the memory of its composer Don Grolnick. Imagine My Surprise was recorded in Memphis and produced by Steve Cropper who, according to The Music People, was "a man who had some previous experience working with horn bands. Steve was there when the 'Memphis Sound' was born -and he's still there". With the fluidity of the line up, the album moves easily from soul to jazz rock and back again. 

According to Bob Palmer's review of Imagine My Surprise: "Every note is in place, every phrase means something, the flashes and energy are all directed and channelled. Yet the band retains both its fire and sophistication... music people can't avoid dancing to." While Imagine My Surprise got some favourable reviews and advanced Dreams' cause somewhat, the writing was on the wall for horn-based rock bands with the horn driven style of jazz-rock rapidly turning in on its axis and losing commercial popularity.

Record companies were losing patience as the pretenders to the BS’n’T and Chicago thrones weren't returning interest. After the release of their second album, Imagine My
Surprise, Dreams disbanded. In 1972 when Dreams bit the dust, jazz fusion was taking a new route away from horns to smaller, tighter groupings with individual virtuosos such as John McLaughlin and Chick Corea heading new bands made up of gifted soloists in Mahavishnu Orchestra and Return To Forever respectively. Here the focus was on instrumental flash and rock-inclined pyrotechnics within a jazz framework, combined with strong spiritual inclinations as practiced by McLaughlin and Corea with their individual commitments to Eastern philosophy and the Church of Scientology. 

In conclusion, Dreams' ambitious and highly vibrant style of Jazz Rock Fusion neatly contrasts the ethereal nature of their name. Dreams and Imagine My Surprise capture an exciting time when new elements of jazz, soul, rock and funk were equally handled and produced music unique in its originality. Dreams deserve to be more than a footnote to beginning the careers of Billy Cobham, John Abercrombie and the Brecker Brothers among others. With their distinctive jazz/rock/funk crossovers encompassing commerciality and musical dexterity, for a brief while they added some spice of their own to the jazz rock recipe book.
by John O'Regan, March 2010

Disc 1 Dreams 1970
1. Devil Lady (Doug Lubahn, Jeff Kent) - 3:36
2. 15 Miles To Provo (Doug Lubahn) - 3:03
3. The Maryanne (Doug Lubahn) - 2:26
4. Holli Be Home (Jeff Kent) - 5:43
5. Try Me (Jeff Kent) - 5:10
6. Dream Suite (Jeff Kent, Doug Lubahn, Barry Rogers, Michael Brecker, Randy Brecker) - 15:21
7. New York (Jeff Kent) - 4:57

Disc 2 Imagine My Surprise 1971
1. Calico Baby (Doug Lubahn, Jeff Kent) - 3:21
2. Why Can't I Find A Home (Randy Brecker) - 3:44
3. Child Of Wisdom (Jerry Friedman) - 5:23
4. Just Be Ourselves (Don Grolnick) - 4:36
5. I Can't Hear You (Carole King, Gerry Goffin) - 3:50
6. Here She Comes Now (Lou Rogers) - 4:06
7. Don't Cry My Lady (Jerry Friedman) - 3:44
8. Medicated Goo (Steve Winwood) - 4:05
9. Imagine My Suprise (Randy Brecker) - 7:58

1970 Dreams
*Michael Brecker - Tenor Sax, Flute
*Randy Brecker - Trumpet, Flugelhorn
*Bill Cobham Jr. - Drums, Percussion
*Jeff Kent - Keyboards, Guitar, Vocals
*Doug Lubahn - Bass, Vocals
*Barry Rogers - Trombone, Wagner Tuba
*Edward Vernon - Lead Vocals
*John Abercrombie - Lead Guitar

1971 Imagine My Surprise
*Bob Mann - Guitars, Flugelhorn, Vocals
*Edward Vernon - Lead Vocals
*Will Lee - Bass, Vocals
*Mike Brecker - Tenor, Soprano Saxes, Flute
*Barry Rogers - Trombone, Weinstein Tuba, Alto Horn, Vocals
*Don Grolnick - Keyboards, Vocals
*Randy Brecker - Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Vocals
*Billy Cobham - Drums, Percussion

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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Richie Havens - Alarm Clock (1971 us, gorgeous folk psych with raga sparkles, 2002 remaster)

Richie Havens had been building a solid career as a Greenwich Village folk musician with a well-received collection of albums to his credit (including the landmark Mixed Bag) when he performed at Woodstock and had his life changed. He attained legendary status with his three-hour opening performance. His warm, burly vocals bring great humanity to everything he sings, and his open-tuned guitar strumming lends a simplicity that makes his music immediately accessible to all. 

In the years after Woodstock, Havens maintained his momentum, finally scoring a top 20 hit in 1971 with a version of George Harrison's "Here Comes the Sun." (That cover resulted in his best-selling album, 1971's Alarm Clock.) He continued recording for a series of other labels, including A&M, and even branched out into acting, playing Othello in the rock musical Catch My Soul in 1974 and appearing in the 1977 Richard Pryor film Greased Lightning. Though his record sales dimmed, his passion for politics and music didn't. In 1978, he scored a Number One hit in Israel with "Shalom, Salaam Aleichum," written in response to watching Anwar Sadat visit Jerusalem.

Havens continued to record and tour, and he also survived by singing jingles for Amtrak (the famous "Something about a train . . . " line) and McDonald's (which used his "Here Comes the Sun"). In recent years, Havens was rediscovered by a new generation. His collaboration with Groove Armada, "Hands of Time," appeared on the soundtrack of the 2004 Tom Cruise film Collateral. He also published  a memoir, They Can't Hide Us Anymore, in 2000 and released his final album, Nobody Left to Crown, in 2008. A public memorial is in the works. 

Richie Havens died of a heart attack on Monday, April 22, 2013. He was 72 and was living in Jersey City, New Jersey.
by David Browne

1. Here Comes The Sun (George Harrison) - 3:48
2. To Give All Your Love Away - 2:58
3. Younger Men Grow Older (Richie Havens, Mark Roth) - 4:01
4. Girls Don't Run Away - 4:21
5. End Of The Seasons (Richie Havens, Mark Roth, Bob Margouleff) - 3:39
6. Some Will Wait - 2:40
7. Patient Lady - 4:48
8. Missing Train - 4:59
9. Alarm Clock (Richie Havens, Mark Roth) - 7:17
All songs by Richie Havens where stated

*Richie Havens - Vocals, Guitar, Percussion, Piano
*Paul Williams - Lead Guitar
*Eric Oxendine - Bass
*Joe Price - Conga Drums
*Bill Keith - Steel Guitar
*Rick Derringer - Electric Guitar
*Daniel Ben Zebulon - Conga Drums
*Alan Hand - Piano
*Bill Lavorgna - Drums
*Dennis Persich - Electric Guitar
*Buzz Linhardt - Vibes
*Warren Bernhardt - Organ
*Bill Shepherd - String Arrangement

1967  Richie Havens - Mixed Bag
1970  Richie Havens - Stonehenge (2001 remaster) 

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Friday, May 18, 2018

Stack Waddy - The Complete Works (1970-72 uk, outstanding hard dirty psych blues 'n roll, 2017 three Mini LP remaster)

The complete Dandelion recordings of Peel favourites Stackwaddy, featuring their two albums Stackwaddy and Bugger Off, plus a bonus disc entitled Hunt The Stag that includes outtakes and a live BBC session from 1971….Ian Canty hears the primal rumble of the band that were pretty much Proto-everything……

Who the hell were Stack Waddy? Well they were a bunch hard drinking, rough, tough men from the home of Frank Sidebottom, Timperley Manchester, driven to get on stage as sozzled as possible and create complete and utter chaos! They were John Peel favourites, so much so that he signed them to his Dandelion Records imprint when no-one else would touch them, mainly because they had alienated every interested record company with their outrageous behaviour. All this was whilst the Fall were at school/toddlers/hadn’t been born yet (delete where applicable).

A legendary band that had a Punk attitude years before Punk itself, eruditely described as “the link between the Pink Fairies and Dr Feelgood”, which feels just about right. Unlike most bands of the time Stack Waddy espoused short, sharp and brutal R & B attacks the likes of which had only been seen before in the work of 60s hoodlums like the Pretty Things, Downliners Sect and the more unhinged of the US garage combos.

Coming together at the end of the 60s with the merging of a couple of local Hard Rock/Blues outfits, they featured incomparable John Knail on vocals (reportedly at the time on the run from all manner of folk, including the Old Bill), Stuart Barnham on bass, guitarist Mick Stott and with Steve Revell bringing up the rear on drums (replaced on the second LP by John Groom). The pivotal encounter with Peel came after the band’s performance at the Buxton Blues Festival. Though having a little in common with the heavy underground bands in trendy London, Stack Waddy more wished for a return to the fast, immediate power of a decade previous rather than protest.

To this end they initially drew on the very Rhythm and Blues that had influenced the Stones and the Beatles way back in the 60s. They also infused their performances with aggression, typically wry Manc humour and lots and lots and lots of booze. The band discovered Beefheart through Peel and on realising that Knail’s vocals were similar to the Captain’s, they became one of the very few bands to cover the Magic Band’s material pre-Punk.

After penning a deal with Peel’s Dandelion Records (and suitably impressing their American Warner Brothers overlords at a label showcase by drinking vast quantities of alcohol before arriving on stage worse for wear. This lead to John Knail urinated on the dais, leading to a mass exit of said bigwigs), they set about recording their first record, a single pairing Elias McDaniels’ Roadrunner and their own composition Kentucky. Though that didn’t make much of an impact an LP was called for and the self-titled platter duly arrived in February 1971.

Curiously playing against type on this first album, the guitar here is pretty restrained, more of a ghostly treble atop thudding drums which dominate while the bass picks out the melody. I don’t know if this was by accident or design, but it really works well and marks the record out from the offerings of many “heavy” bands of the time. What a raw shock it must have been for any mellow Hippies encountering this loud, joyfully alive and irresponsible power pack!

As is alluded to in the sleeve notes, in the Proggy times this record was released into, doing cover versions was actively sneered at (even if your own material was arrant rubbish). This did not bother Stack Waddy one bit – their relish in taking things back (or forward, given a modern perspective) to simpler, more hard hitting times meant they attacked these 60s staples for all they were worth, regardless of any trend for virtuosos etc.

So Stack Waddy the album commenced with a high energy take of Roadrunner (also recorded by the Pretty Things, whose hell-for-leather attitude I’m guessing was a big influence on the Waddy), effectively setting out their stall early on. Though there are more covers (they even stomp all over Jethro Tull’s Love Song), their own material was not without merit. Mothballs is a great piece of raw and tense Punk Blues and Kentucky is not far away from what Wilko and Co would come up with in Canvey Island a few years down the line.

On the good Captain’s Sure ‘Nuff Yes I Do Knail’s vocals really do sound like Van Vilet’s and even on Bo Diddley’s Bring It To Jerome they bear a resemblance. The band for their part grind out a tough, Funky backing on this one and on Mystic Eyes they really take off on the old Them stormer. It showed the Garage that was in their genes effectively and in fact a recut of this one (which is included on disc 3) was considered for the a-side of a prospective single.

Despite its crude but powerful quality, the LP did not sell well. Nevertheless Peel was keen to get a follow up in the can and, after failing initially (see below), they eventually managed to cut that second platter. Even so Barham notes that they never really caught the magic of Stack Waddy, due to them “making it up as they went along” in the studio. Still it was a good try.

Bugger Off, the second Stack Waddy album, has one of my favourite album covers ever. It sums up the early 70s and the uncompromising image that the band had to a T, a view of the drummer frozen in mid-flight, just about to unleash a lethal assault on his kit. Overseeing this is a lairy and hairy looking singer leaning back with the mike stand a la Joey Ramone and just peering out from the murk, a lank haired guitar-toting confederate. This perfect representation of Stack Waddy is followed up fittingly by a no-holds barred, super-heavy version of the Pretty Things classic Rosalyn, a textbook example of Thug Rock. The guitar is far more brutal and simple on this second LP, only occasionally settling back in the manner of the first and here it works marvellously.

Though again the album is perhaps a bit too heavy on covers, they’re all imbued with the undeniable Waddy stomp, plus always displaying their in-built irreverence. Their own Meat Pies ‘Ave Come But The Band’s Not Here Yet, based on a remark overheard at club gig, shows their ready wit. The Beefheart link was stressed again with the cover of the Zappa collaboration Willie The Pimp and their tough as (k)nails version of the Kinks You Really Got Me predated the Hammersmith Gorillas similar effort, matching it in the “too damn early” Proto-Punk stakes. It is a shock hearing them try the old Astrud Gilberto/Stan Getz chestnut The Girl From Ipanema, but of course after a gentle start it hurtles downhill in a most in-PC way.

Shortly after Bugger Off was issued the band split up, having not made much headway in the era of Supergroups and Prog Rock (but they did make a rollicking noise). Since that times there have been various reunions along the way, with one of the most recent being in 2007 and poor quality bootlegs which didn’t portray the band half as well as on the BBC live recording featured here.

Hunt The Stag brings together all the tracks previously issued as extras on the Cherry Red 2007 editions of Stack Waddy and Bugger Off. So no new material if you own both of those already. This breaks down into the tracks demoed for the second album, but were ultimately not used (deemed “too slick” by Peel and his sidekick Clive Selwood), a BBC In Concert session from 1971 and the Dandelion compilation item Mama Keep Your Big Mouth Shut (yet another one the Pretty Things had tackled as well) . Housed in a great mini-sleeve with Waddy in full live flow, it doesn’t disappoint in comparison to the albums proper.

The live selection gives you a good idea what the band were all about in concert – thunderous, jokey and beer-soaked and this offering unsurprisingly comes with a heartfelt Peel intro and outro. The bizarrely named Jack & Jill Meet Blind Pugh On The Spot is a highlight, part Blues Jam before splitting into a speedy bit of Proto-Punk Rock (it’s possible they were two songs melded together).

Of the studio material, the title track is a nice piece of heavy-handed Psych/Punk/Blues and Here Comes The Glimmer Man has real atmosphere, restrained power – it really is great, building from a quiet long run into mayhem. The compilation album track Mama Keep Your Big Mouth Shut is ferocious (it also features in the live set) and the punchy old Mod number Leavin’ Here is given an energetic re-boot, years before Motorhead did a similar job. Along with an even better version of Mystic Eyes it suggests Peel and his cohorts misjudged in junking this session, but it’s all here for you to enjoy now.

Though it would have been nice to see the 1972 Peel session included, this new slim pack boxset has some great sleeve notes from Nigel Cross with telling and humourous contributions from band founder Stuart Barnham. Whilst there isn’t anything in the way of new material unearthed here, it is good to have the albums each on their own individual disc, as they were originally heard. Stack Waddy were unheralded at the time but their  which played a part in paving the way for Dr Feelgood and even the Pistols. They are well worth hearing again.
by Ian Canty

Disc 1 Stack Waddy
1. Road Runner (Ellas McDaniel) - 3:27
2. Bring It To Jerome (Jerome Green) - 5:19
3. Mothballs (John Knail, Mick Stott, Steve Revell, Stuart Banham) - 3:37
4. Sure 'Nuff 'N' Yes I Do (Don Van Vliet, Herb Bermann) - 2:30
5. Love Story (Ian Anderson) - 2:19
6. Susie Q (Dale Hawkins, Eleanor Broadwater, Stanley Lewis) - 2:28
7. Country Line Special (Cyril Davies) - 3:56
8. Rolling Stone (McKinley Morganfield) - 3:26
9. Mystic Eyes (Van Morrison) - 6:06
10.Kentucky (John Knail, Mick Stott, Steve Revell, Stuart Banham) - 2:43

Disc 2 Bugger Off !
1. Rosalyn (Bill Farley, Jimmy Duncan) - 2:27
2. Willie The Pimp (Frank Zappa) - 3:58
3. Hochie Coochie Man (Willie Dixon) - 4:21
4. It's All Over Now (Bobby Womack, Shirley Womack) - 3:17
5. Several Yards (Foxtrot) (J. Groom, John Knail, Mick Stott, Stuart Banham) - 5:50
6. You Really Got Me (Ray Davies) - 2:46
7. I'm A Lover Not A Fighter (Joseph Delton Miller) - 2:10
8. Meat Pies 'Ave Come But Band's Not Here Yet (J. Groom, John Knail, Mick Stott, Stuart Banham) - 5:02
9. It Ain't Easy (Unknown) - 3:47
10.Long Tall Shorty (Mainly) (Don Covay, Herb Abramson) - 3:20
11.Repossession Boogie (J. Groom, John Knail, Mick Stott, Stuart Banham) - 5:34
12.Girl From Ipanema (Antonio Carlos Jobim, Norman Gimbel, Vinicius De Moraes) - 1:32

Disc 3 Hunt The Stag
1. With One Leap Dan Was By Her Side, 'Muriel' He Breathed - 4:20
2. Ginny Jo - 2:49
3. Hunt The Stag - 2:45
4. Mystic Eyes (Alternative Version) (Van Morrison) - 3:52
5. (Almost) Milk Cow Booze - 4:12
6. Leavin' Here (Brian Holland, Edward Holland, Jr., Lamont Dozier) - 2:58
7. I'm A Lover Not A Fighter (Joseph Delton Miller) - 2:38
8. Here Comes The Glimmer Man - 5:15
9. Nadine (Chuck Berry) - 3:53
10.Mama Keep Your Big Mouth Shut (Ellas McDaniel) - 5:19
11.Repossession Boogie - 6:29
12.Lawdy Miss Clawdy...Meets Sooty 'N Sweep (Lloyd Price) - 3:31
13.Jack And Jill Meet Blind Pugh On The Spot - 10:56
14.Mama Keep Your Big Mouth Shut (Ellas McDaniel) - 3:43
All songs by John Knail, Mick Stott, Steve Revell, Stuart Banham except where stated
Tracks 1-2 recorded November 20th 1970 at Marquee Studios
Tracks 3-10 recorded May 1971 at Marquee Studios
Tracks 10-13 recorded live at the Paris theatre July 22nd 1971 and broadcast by the BBC on September 12th 1971.
Track 14 originally released 1972

Stack Waddy
*John Knail - Vocals, Harmonica
*Steve Revell - Drums, Percussion
*Mick Stott - Electric Guitar
*Stuart Banham - Bass Guitar

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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Rare Earth - Midnight Lady / Band Together (1976/78 us, awesome funky soul groovy brass rock, 2017 digipak remaster)

In 1974, original drummer/vocalist Peter Hoorlebeke (Rivera) left Rare Earth to record with his new group H.U.B.  Gil Bridges and the remainder of the band used session musicians to record two more albums, “Back To Earth” and “Midnight Lady” , before the Rare Earth label was closed down in 1977. 

Follow up to "Back to Earth" and featuring Jerry La Croix on vocals, this is actually a pleasant listen. With Norman Whitfield back in the Producer's seat he's used his own songs rather than the band's.The only non-Whitfield song, "Its A Natural" penned by La Croix, which opens the album, is a commendable effort. 

In 1978 Rare Earth (with the 1972 line-up) was back in the studio to record “Band Together”.  The first single was “Warm Ride”.  The song had been written by the Bee Gees who were the hottest act in the world following the success of Saturday Night Fever and its mega-hit soundtrack.  “Warm Ride” was Rare Earth’s first Top 40 single in six years and would be their final hit.

Midnight Lady 1976 
1. It's A Natural (Jerry LaCroix) - 4:00
2. Finger Lickin' Good (Norman Whitefield) - 3:25
3. He Who Picks A Rose (Norman Whitefield, Eddie Holland, Earl Smiley) - 4:50
4. Do It Right (Norman Whitefield) - 6:26
5. Ain't No Sunshine Since You've Been Gone (Cornelius Grant, Norman Whitfield, Sylvia Moy) - 3:00
6. Midnight Lady (Norman Whitefield) - 4:23
7. Wine Women And Song (Norman Whitefield) - 10:51
Band Together 1978
8. Warm Ride (Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb, Robin Gibb) - 4:01
9. You (Ivy Hunter, Jack Goga, Jeffrey Bowen) - 3:31
10.Love Is What You Get (Bob Siller, Chuck Smith, Don Dunn) - 2:52
11.Love Do Me Right (Lenny Macaluso) - 4:27
12.Dreamer (Jerry Zaremba) - 4:08
13.Maybe The Magic (Curly Smith, Mark Olson) - 3:04
14.Love Music (Brian Potter, Dennis Lambert) - 4:41
15.Rock 'N' Roll Man (John Ryan, Mark Olson, Peter Hoorelbeke, Ray Monette) - 3:58
16.Mota Molata (John Ryan, Mark Olson, Peter Hoorelbeke, Ray Monette) - 4:28

Rare Earth
Midnight Lady 1976
*Gil Bridges - Percussion
*Ray Monette – Guitar, Vocals
*Jessica Smith - Vocals
*Jerry LaCroix - Vocals
*Paul Warren – Guitar, Vocals
*Julia Tillman Waters - Vocals
*Maxine Willard Waters - Vocals
*Frank Westbrook – Keyboards
*Reggie McBride - Bass
Band Together 1978
*Gil Bridges – Flute, Sax, Percussion, Vocals
*Eddie Guzman - Percussion
*Ray Monette - Guitar
*Mark Olson – Keyboards, Harmonica, Vocals
*Pete Rivera – Drums, Percussion, Vocals
*Mike Urso – Bass, Vocals

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)
1971  Rare Earth - In Concert (2017 Audiophile) 
1974  Live In Chicago (2014 audiophile remaster)

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Friday, May 11, 2018

Brewer And Shipley - Weeds / Tarkio / Shake Off The Demon / Rural Space (1969-72 us, delightful hippie folk rural psych country rock, 2017 double disc remaster)

Inextricably linked with the US counter-culture of the late 1960s and early 70s courtesy of their drug referencing hit single One Toke Over The Line (which incurred the personal wrath of the hippie hating president Richard M Nixon, indeed), folk / rock vocal duo Mike Brewer and Tom Shipley specialized in the kind of thoughtful, melodic and appealing music that proved both a complement and an antidote to the harsher, more electric sound of contemporary hard rock bands of the era. Their close harmony sound had its antecedents in the work of the likes of Simon  and  Garfunkel, of course, or more relevantly, Crosby, Stills and Nash and there were plenty of other similar duos that pursued a broadly similar sound and style - Cashman  and  West, Seals  and  Crofts, Batdorf  and  Rodney, for example, but Brewer  and  Shipley were a marked cut above the smooth strummers and moustachioed harmonists.
Their sound had (and still has, because they're still regularly gigging in the USA) a greater sense of the wide open spaces of their US heartland home base; it's no surprise that one of their albums was called Rural Space, as their music is suffused with that kind of ambience. The underlying lyrical themes of the duo were recurrent motifs of personal freedom and an opportunity to pursue an alternative American Dream to that of the vast majority of the US middle class, as well as orthodox songs of love. Weeds, the first of the four albums featured here, was recorded in 1969, and was the duos' second album. 

Their debut album Down In LA, had been cut for the A and M label in Los Angeles the previous year. They'd been playing the West Coast folk and coffee bar circuit, and the original plan was for them to make a living as writers as well as performers. They had moderate success in this regard; Chicago psychedelic weirdoes HP Lovecraft had cut a version of their Keeper Of The Keys, sung in a bizarre, semi-operatic style, on their HP Lovecraft II album. Down In LA was pleasant enough, cut with a bunch of LA session luminaries such as Leon Russell and Jim Messina, but it didn't make much headway, commercially, and anyway, Brewer  and  Shipley didn't care much for the Los Angeles scene, moving back to Kansas City, and set up their own production company, Good Karma. 

The A ‘n’ M management figured that they'd quit the music business, instead of just quitting La La Land, and so didn't bother to pick up their option. Instead, Brewer  and  Shipley signed to the Kama Sutra / Buddah label helmed by Neil Bogart. Up until then, Bogart had a reputation as being the 'King of Bubblegum' and seemingly specialized in goofy, frothy pop confections. He'd also been at the Cameo-Parkway label, where he'd foisted Chubby Checker onto the world of pop, and had struck chart pay dirt at Buddah with the likes of The Lemon Pipers and 1910 Fruitgum Company, but wanted to show that he could move into the alternative sphere, too, and signed acts to the label as varied as Melanie Safka, The Flamin' Groovies and, of course Brewer  and  Shipley.

Weeds was recorded in San Francisco, and produced by Electric Flag guitarist Nick Gravenites, who assembled a bunch of excellent players in the backing band, including guitarist Mike Bloomfield, keyboard player Mark Naftalin, and even roped Grateful Dead main man Jerry Garcia into the fold to provide a dab of steel guitar.The tight combo backings are superb throughout; there's a nice sense of freshness and space in the sound, and the duo's soaring vocal harmonies, as well as their obvious melodic skills have a refreshing urgency about them that still sounds invigorating and plaintive. As well as their excellent originals, the album's two covers are equally fine; a strident take on Dylan's All Along The Wotchtower, and the delightful Wichf-Tai-To. The latter is a minor underground classic, penned by Jim Pepper, a kind of Native American chanted mantra, with a three chord musical progression somewhat redolent of Sweet Jane by the Velvet Underground. The track had originally been cut by a band called Everything Is Everything, and was covered a little later by Harpers Bizarre, and apparently Brewer  and  Shipley heard it played on various radio stations when they were out touring, and learned it phonetically. Despite its seven minutes of playing time, it insistently builds to a powerful, profoundly lasting effect. It's one of the highlights of a strong and vibrant collection of quality late 60s US Folk Rock.

Tarkio, their next album, was recorded in 1970, and picks up where Weeds left off; more strong harmonising, Gravenites producing, and several of the same players on board for the return match. It also boasted a fluke hit single in OneToke Over The Line, which had started off as a kind of jokey novelty item played as an encore when the duo opened for label mate Melanie in New York, but label MD Bogart thought he heard hit potential in the song, and insisted the duo release it as a single - and it charted, despite the opprobrium of the US establishment. Other songs like Song From The P/otte River mourned the loss of personal freedoms in contemporary America, a theme echoed and embellished on Fifty States of Freedom. There's subversive wit and humour too, in an agreeable tentrack collection that never overstays its welcome, thanks to some fine ensemble playing, excellent songs and wonderful punchy harmony vocal work. I've been lucky enough to contact Brewer  and  Shipley for some comments in the compiling of this note. 

I asked Tom Shipley why they decided to move back home - and whether it was a conscious desire to break free from the music biz: :"l think our music has always been free of the music business. That is probably why I'm working as a television producer today instead of being a music business guy. To be successful in the music business you have to be in the music business. That is not where I was coming from. My influences were Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie. Michael and I wrote songs, not because we were trying to write hits. It was just music that was in us that we put into songs. I think our music has always reflected the times we were living in and in the late 60's and early 70's that coincided with what was happening in pop music. I don't think it goes any deeper than that. We were bouncing around the country like every other twenty something kid and writing about it and those kids related to it. I used to put up a tent on the Hopi Indian reservation on my trips back and forth from the Midwest to L.A. When we left Hollywood I lived there... wind chimes hanging from the pinion pine like a George Carlin character in an old hippie movie. During the L.A. exodus, Michael and I rendezvoused in Old Orabi on Third Mesa and watched the Hopi Snake Dance together before heading on to Oklahoma and our first post-L.A. gig. Listen to our first Buddah album, Weeds. Look at the cover. I think that says it all!" Yet, ironically, it was via a single  that the duo would make a breakthrough into the broader rock audience. 

When playing a show at New York's prestigious Carnegie Hall as openers for the aforementioned Melanie, they decided to perform a song that they'd been knocking into shape a matter of a few hours before. That song was One Toke Over The Line, and its overt drug-referencing went down a storm with the hippies in the crowd. Bogart took note of the response, and insisted that the duo record and release the track as a single. Ultimately, you've got to admire Bogart's unerring sense of what it takes to make a hit; he knew he could exploit the song's drug theme, crank up the controversy angle and fluke a smash 45 out of it. He wasn't wrong; but the notion of a hit single didn't play well with the duo, who felt that their work couldn't be reduced and simplified in such a way. They were meticulous about the way in which they constructed albums, and arbitrarily pulling a song from amongst the songs that surrounded it just didn't make sense to Brewer  and  Shipley. Unfortunately, it also served to put an unfortunate label on the duo as 'those two who made that drug record', a statement that is undeniably true, but a woeful undervaluing of their considerable talents.

The second brace of albums featured here, 'Shake Off The Demon* and 'Rural Space' come from 1971 and 1972 respectively, and though they yielded no hit  singles, are nonetheless fine collections. The duo's previous Buddah albums had been produced by Nick Gravenites of Electric Flag, but the duo opted to produce themselves from now on - perhaps they thought that by now they were more studio-savvy. Tom Shipley thinks that this might not have been the right idea:"Studio savvy? We thought we were. In retrospect it was probably a mistake. While I think we were good producers at that time, Nick {Gravenites) had incredible access to every good musician in the Bay area. He also had a real talent for putting together bands. I have also come to believe that most artists shouldn't produce themselves. It's an objectivity issue. I think if we had continued on with Nick for another album or two they might have met with more success. I believe it hurt us with our record company, firing our producer after having had two successful albums with him. Weeds, while not a top forty album, did very well on underground radio and helped set the stage for our second Buddah album, Tarkio and the One Toke single. 

They might have done a better job of promoting our next album if we had stayed with Nick. I'm not really sure their hearts were in it when we released Shake Off the Demon because they were starting to view us as temperamental artists. Of course by that time we had been on the road forever and were, how can I put it? Crazy!" Shake Off The Demon opens with the title track, an uplifting mid-pace rocker with the duo's excellent close harmonies being underpinned by rollicking barrelhouse piano played by Mark Naftalin. It's also considerably enhanced by Quicksilver Messenger Service guitarist John Cippolina weighing in with some raunchy slide guitar. Merciful Love is a sweet, intricate ballad, again beautifully sung by the duo. Message From The Mission (Hold On) is a message of solidarity from Brewer  and  Shipley to the confused counterculture audience to simply keep on keeping on. Rural Space also features some fine musicians – including drummer Prairie Prince, before he joined The Tubes and latterly Jefferson Starship. Musically it as varied as ever - Have A Good Life comes over as almost a Gregorian chant, and Blue Highway, clocking in at over six minutes, is one of their most developed tracks musically speaking of their recording career thus far. Going from a Blue Highway to a Block Sky - the latter penned by Steve Cash, the song would later feature on the self-titled Ozark Mountain Daredevils debut album. Yankee Lady is from the pen of the-then exiled Jesse Winchester - he had to move to Canada to avoid the Viet Nam draft, and based himself there - and Brewer  and  Shipley weigh in with an excellent version.

Overall, these four albums represent a fine snapshot of where US folk-rock was at on the cusp of the late sixties and into the early seventies. Fine harmonies, strong melodies and excellent musicianship conspire to produce music of a lasting quality. However, things would change at the duo's record label; main man Neil Bogart would soon set up the Casablanca Records label, finding huge success with Kiss and a little later, Donna Summer. Furthermore, the Californian soft-rock sound as represented by The Eagles would soon become a dominant feature of US radio, and the rather more earthier Brewer  and  Shipley were never slick enough to do that.

After being dropped by the label, the duo then recorded for Capitol, but after over ten years of recording and constant touring, the duo amicably parted ways in l980,They have, however, reconvened - the counter-culture audience, now well into its sixties and seventies, still loves its heroes, and the guys are still out there gigging. And they still play 'One Toke'!
by Alan Robinson, September 2016

Disc 1   Weeds 1969
1. Lady Like You - 2:07
2. Rise Up (Easy Rider) - 3:16
3. Boomerang - 2:20
4. Indian Summer - 2:57
5. All Along The Watchtower (Bob Dylan) - 3:18
6. People Love Each Other - 2:52
7. Pigs Head - 2:07
8. Oh, Sweet Lady - 1:58
9. Too Soon Tomorrow - 2:51
10.Witchi-Tai-To (Jim Pepper) - 6:56
Tarkio 1970
11.One Toke Over The Line - 3:22
12.Song From Platte River - 3:19
13.The Light - 3:11
14.Ruby On The Morning - 2:19
15.Oh Mommy - 3:05
16.Don't Want To Die In Georgia - 3:49
17.Can't Go Home - 2:33
18.Tarko Road - 4:34
19.Seems Like A Long Time (Ted Anderson) - 4:16
20.Fifty States Of Freedom - 6:51
All songs by Michael Brewer, Tom Shipley except where stated

Disc 2 Shake Off The Demon 1971
1. Shake Off The Demon - 3:14
2. Merciful Love - 1:55
3. Message From The Mission (Hold On)  - 3:07
4. One By One  - 3:05
5. When Everybody Comes Home  - 2:03
6. Working On The Wall  - 3:18
7. Rock Me On The Water (Jackson Browne) - 4:02
8. Natural Child  - 3:46
9. Back To The Farm  - 3:22
10.Sweet Love  - 3:54
Rural Space 1972
11.Yankee Lady (Jesse Winchester) - 3:38
12.Sleeping On The Way  - 2:19
13.When The Truth Finally Comes  - 2:34
14.Where Do We Go From Here  - 2:18
15.Blue Highway(David Getz, Nick Gravenites) - 6:24
16.Fly Fly Fly (Steve Cash) - 3:08
17.Crested Butte  - 3:24
18.Got To Get Off The Island  - 3:15
19.Black Sky (Steve Cash) - 3:42
20.Have A Good Life  - 2:31
All songs by Michael Brewer, Tom Shipley except where noted

Weeds  1969
*Mike Brewer - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Shakers, Vibra-Slap
*Tom Shipley - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Twelve String Guitar
*Mike Bloomfield - Electric Guitar
*Mark Naftalin - Piano, Organ
*Ira Kamin - Organ, Piano
*John Kahn - Bass
*Robert Huberman - Bass
*Bob Jones - Drums
*Fred Olsen - Electric Guitar
*Orville "Red" Rhodes - Pedal Steel Guitar
*Richard Green - Fiddle
*Applejack - Harmonica
*Rienol Andino - Congas
*Nicky Hopkins - Piano
*Phil Ford - Tabla

Tarkio 1970
*Mike Brewer - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
*Tom Shipley - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
*Mark Naftalin - Piano, Organ
*John Kahn - Bass, Wah-Wah
*Fred Burton - Electric Guitar
*Bill Vitt - Drums
*Bob Jones - Drums
*Noel Jewkes - Flute
*Jerry Garcia - Pedal Steel Guitar
*Diane Tribuno - Chorus
*Nick Gravenites - Chorus
*Danny Cox - Chorus

Shake Off The Demon 1971
*Michael Brewer - Acoustic, Electric Guitar, Piano, Mouth Harp, Percussion, Vocals
*Tom Shipley - Acoustic, Electric Guitar, Bass, Banjo, Vocals
*John Kahn - Bass
*Mark Naftalin - Piano, Organ, Vibes
*John Cippollina - Electric, Slide Electric Guitars
*On 'Shake Off The Demon'
*Spencer Dryden - Drums
*"Littlejohn" Harteman III - Drums
*Glenn Waters - Drums
*Jose "Chepita" Areas - Congas, Bongos, Timbalas

Rural Space 1972
*Mike Brewer - Guitars, Percussion, Vocals, Foot Tambourine
*Tom Shipley - Bass, 12 String, Electric Guitars, Vocals
*Billy Mundy - Drums, Percussion
*Prairie Prince - Drums
*Fred Burton - Electric Guitars
*John Kahn - Bass
*Turk Murphy - Trombone
*Phil Howe - Clarinet
*Leon Oakley - Coronet
*James Maihack - Tuba
*John Kahn  - Horn Arrangements
*Mike Naftalin - Piano, Accordion
*Bill Vitt - Drums
*Phil Howe - Soprano Saxophone
*Buddy Cage - Pedal Steel Guitar

1967-68  Brewer And Shipley - Down In L.A. 

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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Arlo Guthrie - Arlo Guthrie (1974 us, marvelous folk rock, 2005 digipak remaster)

Arlo Guthrie's seventh record follows a formula that he'd been developing over the past several years -- a handful of interesting originals mixed with a song or two by a legend, something traditional, a couple of jokes, and one of Dad's tunes. Guthrie's fondness for nostalgia mixed with his '60s idealism could turn such predictability into folky mush, but things are kept fresh by his strong sense of tradition, commitment, and taste, along with his growth as an artist in general. As far back as Alice's Restaurant, Guthrie proved himself to be an affable performer, but the 1970s showed an added depth and maturity with each new release. 

The Nixon diatribe "Presidential Rag" and the Mideast peace plea "Children of Abraham" bookend Woody Guthrie's "Deportees" nicely, while Jimmie Rodgers' "When the Cactus Is in Bloom" is a good fit with Arlo's bucolic tales "Me and My Goose" and "Bling Blang." Elsewhere, "Nostalgia Rag" hints at Randy Newman, "Go Down Moses" has the backing of a full gospel choir, "Won't Be Long" sports a country feel, and "Hard Times" is mountain music. Along with producers John Pilla and Lenny Waronker, Arlo chooses from a cream-of-the-crop collection of musicians to pull off this eclectic mix. And it's to his credit that he's successful more often than not. Though there's nothing drastically different here for Guthrie, the album continued a steady growth through the '70s, which placed him firmly at the doorstep of what would be the pinnacle of his career. 
by Brett Hartenbach

1. Won't Be Long - 2:40
2. Presidential Rag - 4:30
3. Deportees (Woody Guthrie, Martin Hoffman) - 3:50
4. Children Of Abraham - 2:28
5. Nostalgia - 2:54
6. When The Cactus Is In Bloom (Jimmie Rodgers) - 2:21
7. Me And My Goose - 2:02
8. Bling Blang (Woody Guthrie) - 2:47
9. Go Down Moses (Traditional) - 2:45
10.Hard Times - 2:43
11.Last To Leave - 2:34
Music and Lyrics by Arlo Guthrie except where stated

*Arlo Guthrie - Guitar, Vocals
*Byron Berline - Fiddle
*Roger Bush - Bass
*James Cleveland - Choir Master
*Ry Cooder - Guitar
*Jesse Ed Davis - Guitar
*Nick Decaro - Accordion, Strings
*Doug Dillard - Banjo
*Buddy Emmons - Pedal Steel Guitar
*Chris Ethridge - Bass
*Jim Gordon - Drums
*Jim Keltner - Drums
*Clydie King - Vocals
*Thomas Molesky - Design
*Spooner Oldham - Keyboards
*John Pilla - Guitar
*Jessica Smith - Vocals
*Southern California Community Choir - Choir/Chorus

1967  Arlo Guthrie - Alice's Restaurant 
1968  Arlo Guthrie - Arlo
1969  Arlo Guthrie - Running Down The Road 
1970  Arlo Guthrie - Washington County (2004 digipak remaster)
1972  Arlo Guthrie ‎- Hobo's Lullaby 
1973  Arlo Guthrie - Last Of The Brooklyn Cowboys (2005 remaster)

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Saturday, May 5, 2018

Travis Wammack - Travis Wammack (1972 us, splendid classic rock roots 'n' roll with funky soul drops, 2017 korean remaster)

There are some names you never forget.  Names like Narvel Felts, Felton Jarvis, Elvis Presley...Good Southern names for self-styled boys that made some of rock-n-roll’s great wild records.  Such a name and such a man is Travis Wammack. Born in Walnut, Mississippi, he began his professional music career when he wrote and recorded his first record at the tender age of eleven, and also became the youngest member ever voted into the musicians union. After moving to Memphis, Tennesse, the young guitarist made his mark on the music world at the age of sixteen with his 1963 number one hit “Scratchy”.

He was the first to develop and use the fuzz tone for an electric  guitar.  By 1969, Wammack’s skills landed him in Muscle Shoals, Alabama  where he teamed with legendary producer Rick Hall at Hall’s FAME Records.  Travis’ guitar licks can be heard on hit records that have sold over 'SIXTY  MILLION' copies!…songs recorded by artists such as Aretha Franklin, Wilson  Pickett, Little Richard, Mac Davis, Clarence Carter, the Osmond Brothers,  Bobbie Gentry, Candi Staton, Delbert McClinton, Liza Minnelli, Narvel Felts  and many more.  Wammack’s solo artist career (produced by Hall) also sky  rocketed with the release of albums in 1971 and 1975.

He traveled the world  as Little Richard’s band leader from 1984 until 1995, performing on several  nationally syndicated television programs as well as President Bill Clinton’s  inauguration party.  Wammack became known as the “Fastest Guitar Player In  The South”, where he was described by Rolling Stone’s Greg Shaw as “the  fastest guitar player I have ever heard in my life, and not just fast but good.   Brilliant, even.  His stage show is flamboyant and exciting.” In 1998, Wammack  released his live CD "Still Rockin’".  It contains a collection of rock and soul  classics from the 60's and 70's.  

In 2000, his “Snake, Rattle & Roll in Muscle  Shoals” CD was released.  This release contains a collection of Travis’ best  original material and is sure to rock you with a touch of soul.  In 2002  Wammack released another live CD “Rock-N-Roll Party" which showcases everything from his soul vocals on ‘Dreams To Remember’, his dazzling guitar  work and voice-box on ‘Rocky Mountain Way’, to the swampy slide work on  his original ‘Rock-N-Roll Shoes’.  In 2008 Travis released the CD "Memphis +  Muscle Shoals = Travis Wammack" which includes more of his original rock-n- soul tunes, including a medley of "Scratchy" & "Firefly". 

In 2008 he also  released his first gospel CD "Almost Home". In 2009 he released his fist  country CD "Country In My Soul". In 2010 Travis released "Rock-N-Roll Days",  an acoustic show of oldies but goodies and in 2011 released "Rock-N-Roll  Days Vol. II". Travis now works with Muscle Shoals Music Marketing, and has  added “Producer” to his already impressive resume.  He is a member of the  ‘Memphis Music Hall of Fame’, and in 1999 Wammack received the  Professional Musician Award from the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. 

In 2005 he  was inducted into The Southern Legends Entertainment And Performing Arts  Hall Of Fame. In May 2006, Gibson Guitars presented Travis with a new  Gibson ES-335 guitar as part of their documentary honoring legendary Gibson  ES series players. In 2011 Travis was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of  

1. So Good (Jim Carroll, Joey Levine) - 3:55
2. How Can I Tell You (Cat Stevens) - 4:43
3. Put On Your Shoes And Walk (J.R. Bailey, Ken Williams) - 2:47
4. You Better Move On (Arthur Alexander) - 3:13
5. Funk #49 (Dale Peters, Jim Fox, Joe Walsh) - 4:10
6. You Are My Sunshine (Charles Mitchell, Jimmie Davis) - 4:11
7. Whatever Turns You On (George Jackson, Raymond Moore) - 3:01
8. Darling You're All That I Had (John Bettis, Kerry Chater) - 3:37
9. Slip Away (Marcus Daniel, Wilbur Terrell, William Armstrong) - 2:53
10.I Don't Really Want You (Dennis Linde) - 3:13

*Travis Wammack – Vocals, Guitar
*George Soule - Vocals 
*Ronnie Eades - Vocals, Baritone Saxophone 
*Bass  Bob Wray - Vocals
*Jerry Bridges - Vocals
*Jesse Boyce - Vocals
*Don Cartee - Drums
*Fred Prouty - Drums
*Tarp Tarrant - Drums
*Jerry Bridges  - Guitar 
*Ken Bell - Guitar 
*Clayton Ivey - Keyboards 
*James H. Brown Jr. - Keyboards 
*Tim Hensen - Keyboards 
*Harvey Thompson - Tenor Saxophone 
*Ben Cauley -  Trumpet
*Harrison Calloway Jr. -  Trumpet
*Leo Lablanc - Steel Guitar 

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Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Guy Clark - Old No1 (1975 us, wonderful folk country rock, 2016 japan remaster)

Guy Clark waited a long time to get himself on record, despite a proven pedigree as a songwriter penning sometimes joyous, sometimes bittersweet, frequently autobiographical, always poetic narratives of Western life. Jerry Jeff Walker had cut Clark’s “L.A. Freeway” and “Desperadoes Waiting For A Train” for his eponymous 1972 album, whilst Townes Van Zandt included “Don’t Let The Sunshine Fool Ya” on his sublime The Late Great Townes Van Zandt the same year. Meanwhile, Monahans, TX, native Clark had held down a day job as a TV station art director in Houston whilst playing the city’s folk clubs with the likes of Townes and K.T. Oslin, and, during a brief unhappy spell in Los Angeles, worked as a staff songwriter for Sunbury Music and as a luthier building Dobros. It wasn’t until several years after he moved to Nashville that he finally signed to RCA and released his own first album in 1975, effectively “covering” some of his own tunes that others had put down years earlier.

Under his RCA contract Clark turned out two country-meets-folk albums of such homely, unassuming beauty that it’s amazing in retrospect to think it took him so long to find his own voice on vinyl. On the first, Old No. 1 , Clark’s own belated versions of “Desperadoes” and “Freeway” proved peerless, and other future classics such as “Texas 1947”, “Let Him Roll” and “A Nickel For The Fiddler” rounded out a faultless ten-track set taking in folk, bluegrass, honky-tonk and the most lonesome of torch ballads in a respectful, authentic fashion that contrasted with both the bland country-pop of Chet Atkins’s Nashville roster and the hyperactive rawk’n’roll of Waylon Jennings’s Outlaw clique. 

Alongside Clark’s own masterful acoustic guitar picking, the album featured gorgeous, restrained accompaniments from a bevy of Music Row sessioneers including Reggie Young (guitar), Johnny Gimble (fiddle), Micky Raphael (harmonicas), David Briggs (piano) and Hal Rugg (pedal steel and Dobro) plus almost all of Emmylou Harris’s entourage as guest backing vocalists, with Harris’s own crystal soprano harmonies embellishing Clark’s warm, cracked Texas brogue in similar fashion to the way she’d counterpointed the fragile warblings of Gram Parsons.

None of which, sadly, provided Clark with a hit; there were no singles released and the album itself struggled only to a lowly 41 on the Billboard country chart. The next year’s follow-up Texas Cookin’ similarly made no commercial impact despite being of nearly as high a quality and including such wonderful waxings as “Virginia’s Real”, “Don’t Let The Sunshine Fool Ya” and the incomparable “The Last Gunfighter Ballad”, and that did it for Clark’s RCA contract. 

It would be another two years before he resurfaced on Warner for his third long-player, since when he’s put out infrequent albums on that and no fewer than seven other imprints with no-better-than-modest sales all the way. Yet his songs have been repeatedly covered by country royalty: Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris, Ricky Skaggs, Vince Gill, Brad Paisley, Rodney Crowell, Alan Jackson, Bobby Bare, Jimmy Buffett and the Highwaymen. In 2011 a slew of the aforementioned plus Steve Earle, Joe Ely, Roseanne Cash, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Ron Sexsmith, Townes’s son John and others returned the compliment with a double CD of Clark’s best known tunes entitled This One’s For Him: A Tribute To Guy Clark. Rarely has such a tribute been so genuinely justified, but if this sounds just too gratulatory, treat yourself instead to the twofer CD containing Old No. 1 and Texas Cookin’.
by Len Liechti

Guy Clark died in Nashville on May 17th, 2016, following a lengthy battle with lymphoma.

1. Rita Ballou - 2:51
2. L. A. Freeway - 4:57
3. She Ain't Going Nowhere - 3:27
4. A Nickel For The Fiddler - 2:46
5. That Old Time Feeling - 4:12
6. Texas - 1947 - 3:10
7. Desperados Waiting For Thetrain - 4:30
8. Like A Coat From The Cold - 3:17
9. Instant Coffee Blues - 3:15
10.Let Him Roll - 4:04
All songs by Guy Clark

*Guy Clark – Lead Vocals, Guitar
*Mike Leach - Bass
*Jerry Kroon - Drums
*Larrie Londin - Drums
*Chip Young - Guitar
*Pat Carter - Guitar, Vocals
*Steve Gibson - Guitar
*Jerry Carrigan - Drums
*Dick Feller - Guitar
*Jim Colvard - Guitar
*Reggie Young - Guitar
*Hal Rugg - Dobro, Pedal Steel
*Jack Hicks - Dobro
*David Briggs - Piano, Vocals
*Chuck Cochran - Piano
*Shane Keister - Piano
*Johnny Gimble - Fiddle
*Mickey Raphael - Harmonica
*Lea Jane Berinati - Vocals, Piano
*Rodney Crowell - Vocals
*Emmylou Harris - Vocals
*Gary B. White - Vocals
*Florence Warner - Vocals
*Steve Earle - Vocals
*Sammi Smith - Vocals

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