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Wednesday, February 27, 2019

The Choir - Artifact The Unreleased Album (1969 us, brilliant beat psych, 2018 remaster)

During the British Invasion years, a Cleveland, Ohio band called The Choir ploughed a Brit-focussed furrow from late 1964. Initially and tellingly, they were named The Mods. Their prime mover, Dann Klawon, was a subscriber the switched-on UK monthly Rave, had missed a Mods show to hitch-hike to a Rolling Stones concert and was the first Clevelander to own a copy of “Purple Haze”. His band became The Choir in 1966, played on Who and Yardbirds’ bills, and went through continuous line-up changes. Even so, they issued three singles over 1966 to 1968 beginning with the classic “It’s Cold Outside”. Their music had a moody, minor-key, Zombies-leaning slant.

In February 1969, with founder Dann Klawon gone but his brother Randy on board and with the ethos of the band intact, The Choir recorded an album’s worth of material in the hope of securing a contract with Mercury Records. The new CD Artifact: The Unreleased Album is the first-ever release of this album. Some of its tracks – “Anyway I Can”, “Boris Lament”, a cover of The Kinks’ “David Watts” and “If These Are Men” – have come out before in varying grades of fidelity but Artifact is sourced from recently unearthed masters found in the archive of the late Ken Hamman () - best known for his work with Pere Ubu, the owner of the Ohio studio Suma.

Artifact is a major release and helps fill out the narrative in a figurative chapter of the story of America’s popular music: one dedicated to late-Sixties bands drawing from the hard-edged side of British pop rather than a Band-inspired rootsiness, blues-influenced heaviness or other au courant templates. Similarly minded fellow travellers included Todd Rundgren’s The Nazz and California’s Powder. Artifact places The Choir as central to this narrative.

At this point, The Choir were on the their fifth. The presence of two keyboards acknowledges a Procol Harum influence but the recordings reveal the band as having, to varying degrees, ears open to The Bee Gees, The Kinks, Small Faces and The Who. They did not score a deal with Mercury and, after another couple of line-up changes and a further single, packed it in during June 1970. Bonfanti soon went on to The Raspberries, whose leader Eric Carmen was also from Cleveland and had been in other local bands while The Choir were active.

The Choir were important not just because they were a great band in their own right but also as they impacted on The Raspberries, one of America’s greatest Seventies bands. Eric Carmen has long acknowledged his enthusiasm for The Choir. Some of Artifact could pass for early Raspberries recordings.

Track one is “Anyway I Can”, which first surfaced in murky quality on a 1976 EP issued by the Bomp label and reappeared in slightly better fidelity on CD in 1994 . Though it is the same recording, the new version is a revelation. It is pin-sharp, sports edgy dynamics and is thrillingly immediate. Practically, whether intentionally or not, “Anyway I Can” is the core essence of The Left Banke’s “Walk Away Renee” made over by enthusiasts for the 1968 Small Faces. While possible to detect the ingredients, the track sounds like nothing else. In part, this is due a sturdiness and drumming so powerful it’s as if Bonfanti is trying to hammer his kit through the studio floor.

If that were not enough to make the case for the 1969 Choir as one of America’s great bands, the excitement continues with the driving mod-rocker “If These Are Men” () - more amazing drumming and the fantastic “Ladybug”, a rolling ballad suggesting Procol Harum’s “She Wandered Through the Garden Fence” but infused with power chords and even more of that assertive drumming. On the relatively subdued yet intense ballad “Have I no Love to Offer”, the band get close the emotive force of Robin Gibb in full flow. The powerful “It’s All Over” also brings The Bee Gees to mind.

This configuration of The Choir, though, was more than the sum of it what it drew from. The unique identity shining through seamlessly melds high-pitched, yearning vocals, minor-key melodies and a lacerating power-pop attack. Exactly what The Raspberries took into the American charts in 1972.

Unfortunately, although the booklet with Artifact includes a couple of short reminiscences and a note on the source tape it lacks a contextualising essay. Thankfully, the extraordinary music says it all. This is one of the Sixties’ great lost albums and its appearance is to be greeted with, as The Raspberries sang in 1973, ecstasy.
by Kieron Tyler, Sunday, 18 February 2018

1. Anyway I Can (Phil Giallombardo) - 3:30
2. If These Are Men (Denny Carleton) - 2:58
3. Ladybug (Phil Giallombardo) - 3:21
4. I Can't Stay In Your Life (Kenny Margolis) - 3:44
5. David Watts (Ray Davies) - 2:42
6. Have I No Love To Offer (Phil Giallombardo) - 5:42
7. For Eric (Kenny Margolis) - 6:39
8. It's All Over (Kenny Margolis) - 4:30
9. Boris' Lament (Phil Giallombardo) - 2:50
10.Mummer Band (Denny Carleton) - 2:38

The Choir
*Denny Carleton - Bass, Vocals
*Jim Bonfanti - Drums, Vocals
*Randy Klawon - Guitar, Vocals
*Phil Giallombardo - Organ, Vocals
*Kenny Margolis - Piano, Vocals

1966-68  The Choir - Choir Practice 

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Monday, February 25, 2019

Marc Jonson - Years (1972 us, splendid baroque folk rock, 2017 remaster and expanded)

The Real Gone Music label has just rereleased the out-of-print 1972 cult album Years by Marc Jonson. Real Gone touted the work as one of the most obscure cult albums ever as its initial vinyl release was quite limited. The newly remastered edition was sourced from original tapes dug out of the Vanguard label vaults. Years is difficult to classify by genre, roughly fitting into the category of psych-folk. The album has a transcendental, brooding feel that incorporates the intimacy of the singer-songwriter era with baroque elements prevalent in some 1960s recordings, but ultimately sounds ahead of its time - 1972 in a way that looks forward to the alternative music of the 1980s and ‘90s.

At 21 years old Jonson sang, played guitar, drums, keyboards, produced, and wrote all the songs on Years. The album cover art features a black and white photo of Jonson with long hair, a somber expression, and facial features that resemble Neil Young, who in 1972 released his legendary Harvest album. Years sounds at times like Harvest, particularly the two songs on which Young was accompanied by the London Symphony Orchestra. According to Jonson, there was a classical recording session going on in the studio where he was working so he decided to incorporate some harpsichords that were left lying around and hired some of the classical musicians to play on string arrangements.

The baroque elements on Years, complemented occasionally by a few good solid drum whacks, bring to mind sounds that an early Elton John explored on works like his 1970 self-titled album. Jonson’s melodic intonations and quasi-classical accompaniment sound at times like an early Leonard Cohen, as do his impressive, often dark, lyrics, which are probably not quite Cohen’s level since nothing really reaches that standard, but are impressive nonetheless.

Jonson said he was influenced in the making of Years by Van Morrison’s 1968 classic, Astral Weeks. The classical styling and unusual time signatures on both of the albums could certainly be compared, but Morrison is apparently also an influence on Jonson’s vocals. Jonson’s voice is very different from Morrison’s, but Jonson puts his own take on Morrison’s soaring wails. Jonson’s vocal style is similar to that of Chris Bell, a member of Big Star. Years has frequently been compared with the work of Big Star and indeed has the spirit of angst that characterizes much of the power pop genre that the band pioneered. But while the album fits in with the melancholic, reflective side of Big Star, there is not much in the way of the hard rock riffing side of the band captured on songs like “In the Street.”

Years kicks off with “Rainy Dues,” a song that begins with an acoustic guitar riff that is very similar to the riff in the Bruce Springsteen song “Growin’ Up.” Jonson’s release, however, slightly predates Springsteen’s and in the liner notes to Years, Jonson claims he was playing the Gaslight in Greenwich Village with jazz guitar legend Larry Coryell in 1972, and it is very possible that a young Springsteen heard “Rainy Dues” at one of those gigs. The beautifully melancholic piece builds from its acoustic beginning in a dramatic Springsteen-like fashion into its bridge as Jonson’s vocals become increasingly intense right before the mid-tempo rhythm comes in with drums and a few John Entwistle-like audible melodic bass notes. The song ends with Jonson moaning a few transcendent “oohs” before one final anguished scream similar to Springsteen’s vocals at the end of “Jungleland.”

Later in the album, “Mary” provides a showcase for a powerful vocal from Jonson backed initially by nothing but a funky drum beat that Jody Stephens could have laid down for Big Star. Even though Jonson is American, Years often sounds like the dreary British symphonic rock of the era. His voice sounds a lot like Elton John on “Mary,” and the instrumentation and time on the song are highly unusual as harpsichords and string orchestrations make up the bridge before the song closes with Jonson’s high wailing, which sounds similar to John’s higher range.

“Mother Jane,” a subtle, smart antiwar song features acoustic picking similar to Neil Young’s “Old Man.” However, it seriously diverges from the musical path of “Old Man” when it reaches the middle of the song in which the bridge is signaled by the beautiful strum of harps. The song contains the powerful line, “England’s at war oh my it’s 1805/To print the news you have to risk your life,” possibly in reference to the then current publishing of the Pentagon Papers that showed that the American government covered up the truth about the Vietnam War.

“A Long Song” features interesting classical accompaniment of flute. The album title comes from a lyric in the song, “Years pass as they grow out.” A bizarre chorus of “bum-bum-bum” sang by a few men or multi-tracked vocals starts as the song winds to a close before the chorus fades and the flute closes it out.

“The Return To The Relief” features a jingle-jangle, Byrds influenced riff at the beginning. The lyrics are particularly strong, including at a certain point a creepily repeated goblin-like phrasing of “and then kill you,” in reference to what the speaker will do to the people who have destroyed the world if he is the first person born after the world is destroyed. The song is ultimately hopeful, though, preaching love as an alternative. It has a few movements that segue into each other, but ends with an uplifting, sweeping orchestration. “Munich” is an odd song that features a lot of outlandish studio tricks with vocals. The song is particularly eerie because it features what sounds like an abrupt gunshot. The Real Gone reissue features a non-LP bonus track, “I’m Coming Up To Boston,” a beautiful Tim Buckley-like song with a hazy, harmonized chorus that sounds like the alternative music of later decades.

Years is a worthy rerelease from the Real Gone label. Its baroque orchestration references the most sophisticated sounds of the ‘60s in a psych-folk vibe, which was a bit anachronistic to 1972 as a few years are a lifetime in the music industry. By drawing on the best influences of the then recent past and fusing it with the subtly expressive singer-songwriter idiom, Jonson made an album that was years ahead of its time and a classic, cult or otherwise.
by Jeremy Goldstein,  Apr 30, 2017 

1. Rainy Dues - 3:52
2. Mary - 5:52
3. Mother Jane - 2:11
4. Fly - 3:35
5. A Long Song - 5:10
6. Autopsy - 1:41
7. The Return To Relief - 5:50
8. Munich - 2:40
9. The Tredmill - 2:51
10.I’M Coming Up To Boston - 3:07
11.Rainy Dues - 3:56
12.Mother Jane - 2:11
13.Fly - 3:35
Lyrics and Music by Marc Jonson

*Marc Jonson - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Drums, Organ, Harpsichord, Autoharp, Timpani
*Blair Lew - Electric Bass, Electric Guitar
*Scott Lang - Percussion
*George Duvivier - Acoustic Bass
*Fred Mollin - Drums
*Jonathan Bart - Piano, Hammond Organ
*H. Wayne Ashdown - Acoustic Guitar
*John Frangipane - Strings Arrangements
*Timothy Brady - Pedal Steel Guitar
*Fred Mollin - Vocals
*Maynard Solomon - Vocals
*Jeff Wayne - Drums
*Hurling - Bass

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Thursday, February 21, 2019

Crosby Stills Nash And Young - 4 Way Street (1971 canada / us / uk, superb folk psych classic rock, 2016 japan double disc remaster)

Seldom in rock history have four guys who seemingly couldn’t stand each other sounded so good together as Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young did on their 1971 double live album 4 Way Street. There have been plenty of great bands that thrived on creative and personal conflict, from the Kinks to the Ramones and beyond, but in most cases the battles were mainly between two of the members, usually the ones occupying the front line. But with CSNY there were four frontmen, and at various points during their time together, they apparently longed to defenestrate each other.

For a band of SoCal hippies, they sure were a fractious bunch; there were feuds between just about every member at one point or another. All these years later, Graham Nash dropped the F-bomb in reference to David Crosby during an interview, declaring the walrus-mustached balladeer persona non grata. So it’s amazing the extra-fragile four-man version of the lineup stayed together long enough to play the concerts captured on 4 Way Street, let alone the fact that they contain some of the strongest music any of them ever made, alone or together.

Against the odds, CSN had managed to improve upon the wheel by adding Y for the follow-up to their debut album. Déjà Vu managed to up the ante considerably thanks to Neil Young’s contributions. Three months after that record’s release, the quartet was out on tour playing the dates documented on 4 Way Street. Songs from shows at New York’s Fillmore East and Los Angeles' Forum in June 1970 and one at the Chicago Auditorium in July ended up on the album, capturing the band in all its fringe-jacketed glory as they opened up the throttle on album cuts and trotted out some still-unrecorded material.

With Young on board, everything got ratcheted up a notch or two. The vocal harmonies went from glistening and pristine to a more ragged-but-right feel, and songs that felt like friendly folk-rockers gained some serious edge and electric bite.

Stephen Stills and Young had been rivals ever since their time together in Buffalo Springfield, but they had always spurred each other on to greater creative heights. That’s the way it worked out here too. The epic six-string firefights they get into on tunes like “Southern Man” (which wouldn’t be heard on a studio record until Young’s After the Gold Rush was released in September) and “Carry On” were unlike anything on either of the band’s first two albums.

It’s the Bay Area bands of the era -- like the Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service and Moby Grape -- who are always credited with the mightiest guitar firepower, but when Stills and Young started swinging their axes around onstage, they gave their friends to the north a run for their money.

Half the material on this record would never see the inside of a CSN(Y) studio album at all, such was the roll the members were on at that time; and a number of those cuts were among the strongest in the repertoire, not to mention on the record. Young’s heart-stopping ballad “On the Way Home,” Crosby’s lecherous but hypnotic tale of instigating a ménage a trois, “Triad,” and Nash’s indignant broadside “Chicago” all fall under that category.

The band was at its most politically charged at that point too, which was only natural considering the turmoil the country was in at the time. It was late 1969 when Bobby Seale was bound and gagged in a courtroom during his trial for inciting a riot at the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago, an event that inspired the aforementioned Nash song. And the horrific Kent State University killings of four students by National Guardsmen had just occurred in May 1970, moving young to pen the raging “Ohio.”

Stills gets his political licks in too, if a little less specifically, with the crowd-pleasing, piano-pumping clap-along medley “49 Bye-Byes/For What It’s Worth/America’s Children,” name-checking Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew and Chicago mayor Richard Daley and shifting the Springfield-era “For What It’s Worth”’s focus from the Sunset Strip to something more all-encompassing.

4 Way Street was a huge hit, topping the album charts and earning an even bigger audience for the band. But it was also the beginning of the end, at least for a while. By the time the tour was over, the foursome had had enough of each other, splitting to pursue various solo and duo projects. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young didn’t perform together again until 1974, and it wasn’t until 1977 that another studio album (minus Young) was released.

But for all the acrimony fouling the band’s artistic ecosystem, there’s no denying the fact that they followed one of the finest studio albums of the era with a live album that was arguably even better, setting a high bar for the many double-length concert albums to come over the course of the decade.
by Jim Allen, April 5, 2016

Disc 1
1. Suite: Judy Blue Eyes (Stephen Stills) - 0:34
2. On The Way Home (Neil Young) - 3:48
3. Teach Your Children (Graham Nash) - 3:02
4. Triad (David Crosby) - 6:55
5. The Lee Shore (David Crosby) - 4:29
6. Chicago (Graham Nash) - 3:11
7. Right Between The Eyes (Graham Nash) - 3:37
8. Cowgirl In The Sand (Neil Young) - 3:59
9. Don't Let Bring You Down (Neil Young) - 3:30
10.49 Bye-Byes-America's Children (Stephen Stills) - 6:35
11.Love The One You're With (Stephen Stills) - 3:25
12.King Midas In Reverse (Graham Nash, Allan Clarke, Tony Hicks) - 3:43
13.Laughing (David Crosby) - 3:36
14.Black Queen (Stephen Stills) - 6:45
15.Medley: The Loner-Cinnamon Girl-Down By The River (Neil Young) - 9:42

Disc 2
1. Pre-Road Downs (Graham Nash) - 3:05
2. Long Time Gone (David Crosby) - 5:59
3. Southern Man (Neil Young) - 13:45
4. Ohio (Neil Young) - 3:34
5. Carry On (Stephen Stills) - 14:19
6. Find The Cost Of Freedom (Stephen Stills) - 2:22)

*David Crosby - Vocals, Guitar
*Stephen Stills - Vocals, Guitar, Piano, Organ
*Graham Nash - Vocals, Guitar, Piano, Organ
*Neil Young - Vocals, Guitar
*Calvin "Fuzzy" Samuels - Bass
*Johnny Barbata - Drums

1974  Crosby Stills Nash And Young - Live (2013 four discs box set)
1972  Graham Nash David Crosby - Graham Nash David Crosby (2008 remaster)
1964  The Byrds - Preflyte (2012 double disc edition)
1973  Byrds (Reunion Album, 2004 issue) 
1971  Graham Nash - Songs For Beginners (2008 digipak remaster)
1973  Graham Nash - Wild Tales
1968  Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper, Steve Stills - The Super Sessions (2014 Hybrid Multichannel SACD 24/88)
1970  Stephen Stills - Stephen Stills (debut album, 2008 japan SHM remaster)
1972  Stephen Stills - Manassas (2006 HDCD)
1971-73  Manassas - Pieces (2009 release)
1973  Stephen Stills And Manassas - Down The Road (Japan issue)
1975-76/78  Stephen Stills - Stills / Illegal Stills / Thoroughfare Gap
1976  The Stills Young Band - Long May You Run

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Saturday, February 16, 2019

The Rose Garden - A Trip Through The Garden (1967-68 us, amazing sunny folk psych, 2018 bonus tracks remaster)

A Trip Through The Garden, a first-time Rose Garden anthology, is a companion piece to the Clark release and, as such, it illuminates the relationship and tells the band’s story.

A Trip Through The Garden includes the ten tracks from The Rose Garden, the band’s non-album A- and B-sides, previously unheard studio recordings, demos, live tracks and a band rehearsal of “Till Today” which was, extraordinarily, taped in Noreen’s bedroom with Gene Clark.

In the liner notes, The Rose Garden is described as “steeped in jingle-jangle Byrdsy folk rock (done well but arguably passé by 1968) and lush folk-inspired vocal harmonies” which nails it. The band were not writers – though they took arrangement credits for the folk songs “Flower Town” (their rewrite of “Portland Town”) and “Rider”.

The Rose Garden hangs together and is a prime example of West Coast pop of the period. Nonetheless it was, indeed, a little behind the times. A fair guess for a release date made after hearing the album for the first time would be Summer 1967: an assumption supported by the very 1967 song title “Flower Town” and the cover of The Giant Sunflower’s April 1967 single “February Sunshine”. Even so, five decades on it remains a fresh, winning album.

What led up to it being recorded, the deal with Greene and Stone and the contract with ATCO (also The Buffalo Springfield and Sonny & Cher’s label) is detailed. The roots of The Rose Garden lay in the suburbs outside Los Angeles (not West Virginia as has been said elsewhere) and in a band variously named The Marauders, The PF Flyers and the magnificently handled The Blokes: the latter after a line in Herman’s Hermits’ “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter”. Initially, The Beatles were the inspiration, especially the Rickenbacker guitar sound permeating the A Hard Day’s Night album.

Then, The Byrds arrived on the scene and swiftly became The Blokes’ prime influence. A Trip Through The Garden’s live tracks include fine versions of “She Don’t Care About Time” and “So You Want To Be A Rock ’N’ Roll Star”. Playing a late 1966 afternoon show at the Ash Grove venue, they saw the by-then former Byrd Gene Clark at the bar. They did a few Byrds covers, he applauded and was duly invited onto the stage where they ran-through “I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better” and “‘Eight Miles High” with him. The relationship with Clark did not end there and, ultimately, the band recorded a pair of his post-Byrds songs.

Following their initial encounter with Clark, the all-male, mostly teenage band added singer Diana De Rose, attracted Green and Stone’s attention and changed their name from The Blokes to The Rose Garden. Despite the infrastructure now surrounding them, they had just the one hit. Clark joining them in the studio to help record his compositions, play tambourine and offer advice did not help. Neither did the presence of Neil Young, also there  when they recorded the album (he is not on it). Their strong version of Young’s then-unreleased “Down To The Wire” is heard here for the first time. The end came soon after ATCO divisively credited one of their singles to “The Rose Garden Featuring Diana De Rose.”

Listening to this fine band raises the what-if of whether they might have evolved into a self-determining unit: could they have begun generating their own songs? But the question is moot. The Rose Garden were what they were, and the music they left behind is uniformly great. And, as the hugely enjoyable A Trip Through The Garden amply demonstrates, they were about much more than “Next Plane To London”.
by Kieron Tyler, Sunday, 17 June 2018

1. Next Plane To London (Kenny Gist Jr.) - 2:32
2. I'm Only Second (Charles W. Higgins, Pat Vegas) - 3:14
3. February Sunshine (Pat Vegas, Val Geary) - 2:39
4. Coins Of Fun (Leonard A. Metzger, Pat Vegas) - 3:01
5. Rider (Traditional) - 2:59
6. She Belongs To Me (Bob Dylan) - 3:57
7. Flower Town (Bruce Bowdin, Diana DeRose, James Groshong, John Noreen, William Fleming) - 3:19
8. Till Today (Gene Clark) - 3:16
9. Look What You've Done (Bob Johnston, Wes Farrell) - 3:08
10.Long Time (Gene Clark) - 2:02
11.If My World Falls Through (Kenny O'Dell) - 2:41
12.Here's Today (John Noreen, Phil Vickery) - 2:33
13.Down To The Wire (Neil Young) - 2:38
14.Charlie The Fer De Lance (Dann Lottermoser, Donald Lewis Dunn, Tony McCashen) - 3:00
15.The World Is A Great Big Playground (Al Kooper, Bob Crewe, Irwin Levine) - 3:50
16.Here's Today (John Noreen, Phil Vickery) - 2:42
17.If My World Fall's Through (Kenny O'Dell) - 3:28
18.Dead Men Never Die (Take 2) (Leon Rosselson) - 2:58
19.I'm Only Second (Acetate Version) (Charles W. Higgins, Pat Vegas) - 3:10
20.Till Today (Rehearsel) (Gene Clark) - 3:21
21.Till Today (Acetate Version) (Gene Clark) - 3:16
22.Next Plane To London (Kenny Gist Jr.) - 2:35
23.So You Want To Be A Rock N Roll Star (Chris Hillman, Roger McGuinn) - 2:25
24.She Don't Care About Time (Gene Clark) - 2:38
25.It's The Little Things (Sonny Bono) - 3:00
26.You Don't Love Me (Bo Diddley, Willie Cobbs) - 4:01
Tracks 11-12 Mono Single Version
Tracks 16-17 Stereo Mix
TYracks 22-26 Live recordings

The Rose Garden
*Diana De Rose - Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
*John Noreen - Lead 12 String Guitar, Vocals
*James Groshong - Lead Vocals, Guitar
*William Fleming - Bass
*Bruce Bowdin - Drums
*Gene Clark - Vocals

Related Acts
1967  Gene Clark - Sings For You (2018 digipak with unreleased material)
1964-90  Gene Clark - Flying High
1964-82  Gene Clark ‎- The Lost Studio Sessions (2016 audiophile double Vinyl set) 
1967  Gene Clark - Echoes
1968-69  Dillard And Clark - Fantastic Expedition / Through The Morning, Through The Night
1971  Gene Clark - White Light
1972  Gene Clark - Roadmaster  (2011 Edition)
1979  McGuinn, Clark And Hillman (2014 Japan SHM Remaster)
1964  The Byrds - Preflyte (2012 Edition)
1973  Byrds - Byrds (2004 issue)

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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Ron Davies - UFO (1973 us, fantastic soulful jazzy folk rock, 2013 japan Mini LP remaster)

This is an outstanding collection of contemporary folk-style art-songs by the late great arpeggio-style finger picking guitarist and songwriter Ron Davies...Those who appreciate classics from artists like Donovan, James Taylor, Paul Simon, Bert Jansch, and Don McLean, will find in UFO a rare glimpse of a unique American artist-the Louisiana born Ron Davies.
by Charles Anderson

1. I Wonder - 3:42
2. Long Hard Climb - 3:12
3. Flapjack - 3:22
4. Misty Roses - 2:54
5. It's A Lie - 3:53
6. Can I Count On You - 3:24
7. It Ain't Easy - 4:17
8. Lay Down Your Burden - 3:03
9. Shadows - 5:37
All compositions by Ron Davies except Track #4 by Tim Hardin

*Ron Davies - Guitar, Harmonica, Vocals
*Jules Chaiken - Horn
*Carolyne Cook - Vocals
*Harry "Sweets" Edison - Horn
*Wilton Felder - Bass
*Milt Holland - Percussion
*Claudia Lennear - Vocals
*Maxayn Lewis - Vocals
*Clarence McDonald - Clavinet, Piano
*Don Menza - Horn
*Andy Newmark - Drums
*Jack Nimitz - Horn
*Billy Preston - Organ
*Jerome Richardson - Horn
*D.J. Rogers - Vocals
*David Spinozza - Electric Guitar

1970  Ron Davies - Silent Song Through The Land (2013 japan mini LP remaster)
1978  Ron Davies ‎– I Don't Believe It (2010 korean remaster) 

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Friday, February 8, 2019

Canned Heat - Boogie With Canned Heat (1968 us, classic psych blues rock, 2017 SHM remaster and expanded)

In 1967 Canned Heat signed to Liberty Records after appearing at the Monterey Pop Festival. In July 1967, they released a self-titled album that made No.76 on the album chart, following it with Boogie With Canned Heat on 21 January 1968, which spent over a year on the Billboard chart, peaking at No.16.

Whereas their debut album was largely made up of covers, including the almost obligatory, for a blues band, take on Dust My Broom’, their second album was largely self-written and remains a firm favourite with just about everyone who loves the blues. A significant reason for its success is because it included the magnificent, ‘On the Road Again’ which made No.16 on the Hot 100 in the late summer of 1968.

Chicago bluesman Floyd Jones recorded a song entitled ‘On the Road Again’ in 1953, itself a remake of another of his songs from two years earlier called, Dark Road’. Both these songs are based on Tommy Johnson’s 1928 ‘Big Road Blues’. ‘On the Road Again’ was recorded as a demo by Canned Heat in April 1967 at the RCA Studios in Chicago with original drummer Frank Cook. This version was over 7 minutes long, with added harp and guitar solos.

During the recording of Boogie With Canned Heat they recorded it again, this time with new drummer Adolfo “Fito” de la Parra at the Liberty Records studio in Los Angeles In September 1967. Blind Owl Wilson used verses from Floyd Jones’ ‘On the Road Again’ and ‘Dark Road’, as well as adding some of his own lyrics; ‘On the Road Again’ went to No.8 in the UK.

‘On the Road Again’ uses a one-chord boogie riff inspired by John Lee Hooker’s 1949 hit ‘Boogie Chillen’ that is made so distinctive by Wilson’s best Skip James-inspired falsetto vocal”, and his fabulous harp playing.

Other stand out cuts include ‘World in a Jug’, the B-side of ‘On the Road Again’, ‘Amphetamine Annie’ and the 11 minute plus, ‘Fried Hockey Boogie’ that the band reworked as ‘Woodstock Boogie’ when they played the festival in August 1969.

Besides five man band the album also features a cameo from pianist, Sunnyland Slim on ‘Turpentine Moan’. Dr John also plays piano on the album and did the horn arrangements; his own debut album, Gris Gris was released the same day in 1968, 21 January.
by Richard Havers, January 21, 2019

1. Evil Woman (Larry Weiss) - 3:00
2. My Crime (Bob Hite, Alan Wilson, Henry Vestine, Larry Taylor, Adolfo de la Parra) - 4:01
3. On The Road Again (Floyd Jones, Alan Wilson) - 4:58
4. World In A Jug (Bob Hite, Alan Wilson, Henry Vestine, Larry Taylor, Adolfo de la Parra) - 3:27
5. Turpentine Woman (Bob Hite, Alan Wilson, Henry Vestine, Larry Taylor, Adolfo de la Parra) - 2:58
6. Whiskey Headed Woman No. 2 (Bob Hite) - 2:56
7. Amphetamine Annie (Bob Hite, Alan Wilson, Henry Vestine, Larry Taylor, Adolfo de la Parra) - 3:37
8. An Owl Song (Alan Wilson) - 2:47
9. Marie Laveau (Henry Vestine) - 5:15
10.Fried Hockey Boogie (Larry Taylor) - 11:11
11.The Hunter (Carl Wells, Steve Cropper, Al Jackson, Jr., Booker T. Jones, Donald Dunn) - 3:39
12.Whiskey And Wommen' (John Lee Hooker) - 4:01
13.Shake, Rattle And Roll (Charles E. Calhoun) - 2:44
14.Mean Old World (Marion "Little Walter" Jacobs) - 3:27
15.Fannie Mae (Buster Brown, Clarence Lewis, Bobby Robinson) - 3:07
16.Gotta Boogie (The World Boogie) (John Lee Hooker) - 9:57

Canned Heat
*Bob Hite - Vocals
*Alan Wilson - Slide Guitar, Vocals, Harmonica
*Henry Vestine - Lead Guitar
*Larry Taylor - Bass
*Adolfo De La Parra - Drums
Additional Personnel
*Dr. John - Horn Arrangements, Piano
*Sunnyland Slim - Piano On

1967-73  Canned Heat - The Very Best Of
1968  Canned Heat - Livin The Blues (Akarma edition)
1969  Canned Heat - Hallelujah (remaster and expanded)
1970 Canned Heat - Future Blues (Remaster and Expanded)
1970-73  Memphis Slim Canned Heat Memphis Horns - Memphis Heat
1971  John Lee Hooker And Canned Heat - Hooker 'N' Heat
1971-72  Canned Heat - Historical Figures And Ancient Heads
1973  Canned Heat - One More River To Cross

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Friday, February 1, 2019

Savoy Brown - A Step Further (1969 uk, stunning hard blues rock, 2017 japan SHM remaster)

With Kim Simmonds and Chris Youlden combining their talents in Savoy Brown's strongest configuration, 1969's A Step Further kept the band in the blues-rock spotlight after the release of their successful Blue Matter album. While A Step Further may not be as strong as the band's former release, all five tracks do a good job at maintaining their spirited blues shuffle. Plenty of horn work snuggles up to Simmonds' guitar playing and Youlden's singing is especially hearty on "Made up My Mind" and "I'm Tired." 

The first four tracks are bona fide Brown movers, but they can't compete with the 20-plus minutes of "Savoy Brown Boogie," one of the group's best examples of their guitar playing prowess and a wonderful finale to the album. This lineup saw the release of Raw Sienna before Lonesome Dave Peverett stepped up to the microphone for Looking In upon the departure of Youlden, but the new arrangement was short lived, as not long after three other members exited to form Foghat. As part of Savoy Brown's Chris Youlden days, A Step Further should be heard alongside Getting to the Point, Blue Matter, and Raw Sienna, as it's an integral part of the band's formative boogie blues years. 
by Mike DeGagne

1. Made Up My Mind (Chris Youlden) - 2:57
2. Waiting In The Bamboo Grove (Kim Simmonds) - 3:38
3. Life's One Act Play (Chris Youlden) - 6:31
4. I'm Tired-Where Am I  (Chris Youlden, Harry Simmonds) - 5:05
5. Savoy Brown Boogie (Kim Simmonds, Chris Youlden) - 22:06
`Feel So Good (Chuck Willis)
`Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On (David Williams)
`Little Queenie (Chuck Berry)
`Purple Haze (Jimi Hendrix)
`Hernando’s Hideaway (Richard Adler, Jerry Ross)

Savoy Brown
*Chris Youlden - Vocals
*Kim Simmonds - Guitar
*Bob Hall - Piano
*Lonesome Dave Peverett - Guitar
*Roger Earl - Drums
*Tone Stevens - Bass

1967-68  Savoy Brown - Shake Down / Getting To The Point
1969  Savoy Brown - Blue Matter (2004 remaster and expanded)
1969-70  Savoy Brown - Raw Sienna / Looking In
1971-72  Savoy Brown - Street Corner Talking / Hellbound Train (2006 remaster)
1974  Savoy Brown - Boogie Brothers
Related Act
1972  Foghat - Foghat (Japan Remaster)
1973  Foghat - Rock And Roll (Japan Remaster)
1974  Foghat - Energized (Japan Remaster)
1974  Foghat - Rock And Roll Outlaws (Japan remaster)
1975  Foghat - Fool For The City (2008 ultradisc MFSL)
1976  Foghat - Night Shift (Japan remaster with extra track)
1973  Chris Youlden - Nowhere Road
1974  Chris Youlden - Citychild

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