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Plain and Fancy

Music gives soul to universe, wings to mind, flight to imagination, charm to sadness, and life to everything.


Sunday, March 31, 2019

Paul Pena - New Train (1973 us / cape verde, magnificent melt of funky blues folk psych classic rock, 2000 release)

Paul Pena came from a Cape Verdean background and learned the Afro-Portuguese music of those islands, including morna. His musician father also sent him to Spain and Portugal to study flamenco. He began to get interested in blues, though. Because of the folk movement in the '60s, he managed to work his way up and sideways, and started to to play with T-Bone Walker and John Lee Hooker. He released a solo album on Capitol in 1972 which did fairly well critically, if not commercially. He moved to San Francisco and began opening gigs for the Grateful Dead. All the while, Pena was impressing many of the musicians with whom he came in contact. He began work on a second album in 1973, but mismanagement conspired to keep it from ever being released. Among the special guests on the album are Jerry Garcia, Merle Saunders, Ben Sidran, and The Persuasions. 

Produced by Ben Sidran (Steve Miller, Mose Allison), New Train is being released after its sudden discovery among Pena's personal possessions. Among the songs on the album is the track "Jet Airliner" which was originally penned and sung by Pena and later was a hit for the Steve Miller Band in the 1970s. Performing on the album is the late Jerry Garcia who played the pedal steel guitar on "Venutian Lady" and "Taking Your Love Down." Merle Saunders played keyboards on "Venutian Lady" and "New Train" and R&B greats The Persuasions sang background vocals on "Gonna Move" and "Let's Move and Groove." 

Pena, who was born blind and is currently suffering from a terminal illness, studied the piano, guitar, upright bass, violin, and "a little trumpet." Cutting his teeth in coffee houses in and around New England he was soon playing the Newport Folk Festival with such artists as James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, and Kris Kristofferson. As his career furthered, he began playing with B.B. King, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, and Bonnie Raitt. He eventually decided to relocate to San Francisco, where he recorded and released an album on Capitol Records and began working with T-Bone Walker. 

Raitt says of Pena, "I've loved Paul and his music since I used to open gigs for him in Worcester, MA thirty years ago. He was then as he is now, one of the most extraordinarily gifted singers, guitarists and songwriters I've ever heard. It was like finding my very own Jimi Hendrix - there's simply nothing he can't play well. Long deserving of wider recognition, I'm glad the film Genghis Blues exposed the rest of the world to his genius. But the real cause for celebration is the long overdue release of his extraordinary album - Paul is a treasure. One of the most unique and soulful artists you'll ever hear." 

As the subject of the Academy Award nominated documentary Genghis Blues, Pena first heard Tuvan throat singing, a technique in which a singer produces two or three tones simultaneously, in 1984 and soon taught himself the difficult vocal techniques and language. After meeting performer Kongar-ol Ondar in 1993, Paul was invited to perform at the second international Khoomei Symposium and contest held in the capital - Kyzyl, Tuva and won the contest in the Kargyraa division as well as the "audience favorite" category. 

In an article published in 1973 by The Times (MA), Pena is "reminiscent of a young Jimi Hendrix, a dramatic and stylized guitar player. His voice has a touch of pain, humor, and loneliness that is characteristic of a folk singer. Pena is his own master and this becomes readily apparent as he eases through his intense compositions. Pena is a musician's musician." Touching people wherever he goes, Pena was named "San Francisco's Tuvan Blues Ambassador" and July 11, 1999 was declared "Paul Pena Day" by the mayor.  Paul Pena passed away on October 4th 2005, due to complications of diabetes and pancreatitis.
by Julie Lichtenstein

1. Gonna Move - 4:31
2. New Train - 4:54
3. Jet Airliner - 5:42
4. Wait On What You Want - 3:29
5. Venutian Lady - 4:43
6. Cosmic Mirror - 5:24
7. Let's Move And Groove Together - 4:13
8. Indian Boy - 4:38
9. A Bit Of All Right - 3:44
10.Taking Your Love Down - 2:53
All Music and Lyrics by Paul Pena

*Paul Pena - Guitar, Piano,Vocals
*Ben Sidran - Piano,Organ
*Harvey Brooks - Bass Guitar
*Gary Mallaber - Drums,Percussion
*Jerry Garcia - Pedal Steel Guitar (Tracks 2, 5)
*Merl Saunders - Keyboards (Tracks 2, 5)
*The Persuasions - Background Vocals (Track 1)
*Charles Greene - Background Vocals (Track 7)
*Arthur Adams - Guitar (Track 9)
*Dave Woodward - Saxophone (Track 6)
*Nick Decaro - Arranged Strings
*The Funky Ladies - Background Vocals

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Thursday, March 28, 2019

Wings - Wings (1968 us, marvelous folk sunny psych, 2018 korean remaster)

The American folk-rock group Wings -- not to be confused with Paul McCartney's 1970's-era band -- is one of the more enigmatic recording outfits of their era, partly owing to the fact that although they managed to cut an entire album, nowhere on its packaging were any credits or other information about the group, just a photo. They were actually an off-shoot of Spanky & Our Gang and the Serendipity Singers, with members who had played in the early incarnations of groups such as the Jefferson Airplane and who would later go on to work with bands such as Mountain. 

The group initially came together as a trio consisting of Oz Bach (ex-Spanky & Our Gang), Pam Robins (ex-Serendipity Singers, and Eddie Simon, but the latter was subsequently replaced by guitarist/singer Jim Mason (co-author of the Peter, Paul & Mary hit "I Dig Rock And Roll Music"). Their line-up was rounded out by keyboard player Steve Knight, lead guitarist Jack McNichol, and drummer Jerry Peloquin. The group spent most of late 1967 and a big chunk of 1968 performing, and got to play as the opening act behind bands like Big Brother & The Holding Company, and got a recording contract with ABC-Dunhill Records -- at the time, they seemed like a potential successor to the Mamas & The Papas, especially once producer Steve Barri heard Pam Robins' powerful vocals. 

Despite a nicely honed sound and a year of work together, however, the group never got their act together or their signals straight; even the selection of the name "Wings" was sheer serendipity, after an extended period of disagreement, a suggestion by one of Jim Mason's friends. The finished album, produced by Steve Barri -- who, with his backgound as a member/producer of the Grass Roots, knew a thing or two about the folk-rock sound -- never sounded as good as it might have, reportedly due, in part, to the way that it was mastered, and they were unable to agree on a direction or a sound to emphasize when it came time to tour behind it. 

Despite some minimal success for the song "General Bringdown", the LP and the group vanished into history -- Peloquin, who had played with the Jefferson Airplane in its earliest days, continued working into the 1970's with various bands before giving up music, and Steve Knight later played with Mountain, while Oz Bach, who passed away in 1998, went on to form Tarantula and to a career as an actor and filmmaker. Paul McCartney later picked up on the group's name for his own uses, which has resulted in the occasional spectacle of unknowing vinyl enthusiasts finding the American group Wings' self-titled album and thinking they may have latched on to a McCartney-related rarity. Their sound was actually closer to that of the Mamas & The Papas or the Stone Poneys. 
by Bruce Eder

1. See Someone Hangin' (Oz Bach) - 4:11
2. That's Not Real (Jim Mason, Pam Robins) - 3:30
3. General Bringdown (Jim Mason, Oz Bach, Jack McNichol) - 2:34
4. First Time Is The Last (Oz Bach) - 3:04
5. What Do I Know (Jim Mason) - 2:43
6. Pretty Little Girl (Oz Bach) - 3:48
7. Takin' It Lazy (Oz Bach) - 3:09
8. Shrinking Violet (Jim Mason, Felix Pappalardi, Gail Collins) - 2:09
9. Different Kind Of Woman (Pam Robins, Seth Evans, Joe Piazza) - 2:43
10.Changes (Keep Coming About) (Oz Bach) - 2:26
11.Give Me Your Love (Jim Mason) - 2:14

*Paul "Oz" Bach - Bass, Vocals
*Jim Mason - Guitar, Vocals
*Pam Robins - Vocals
*Jack McNichol - Lead Guitar
*Steve Knight  - Keyboards
*Jerry Peloquin - Drums

Related Act
1966-70  Spanky And Our Gang - The Complete Mercury Recordings (2006 four discs box set) 

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Monday, March 25, 2019

Marc Ellington - Marc Time (1975 uk, splendid country folk classic rock, 2011 bonus tracks remasters)

I like the way how Marc Ellington approaches his songs and choices, Sandy Roberton's flawless production, great song adaptations, excellent musicians, and beautiful sound collages, which makes it possible for Marc Ellington  to embody and interpret the songs perfectly by smartly slipping from traditional country to folk and blues into straight rock tunes.

His 5th album titled "Marc Time" released 1975, -with contributions from some of the U K's top session players-, stands out the powerful "Ad Man", the self penned (along with Sandy) guitar acid funk "You Just Can't Believe What You See", the blues killer "Stealin" and the beautiful country song "Streets Of Baltimore", written by Harlan Howard, Tompall Glaser -first covered by Bobby Bare-, in any case the whole album moves in high level.

1. Wild About My Lovin' (Traditional) - 3:29
2. The Answer Is You (Marc Ellington, Sandy Roberton, Paul Kent) - 3:16
3. Stealin' (Traditional) - 2:43
4. Streets Of Baltimore (Harlan Howard, Tompall Glaser) - 2:46
5. Ad Man (Marc Ellington, Sandy Roberton) - 2:11
6. I Miss The Mississippi And You (Bill Halley) - 2:46
7. Shady Lies (Richard Thompson) - 2:34
8. Borrowing Time (Chris Hillman, Joe Lala) - 2:14
9. Close The Door (Sandy Roberton, Paul Kent) - 2:49
10.You Just Can't Believe What You See (Marc Ellington, Sandy Roberton) - 3:46
11.Anyday Woman (Paul Siebel) - 2:11
12.Peggy Gordo (Traditional) - 3:18

*Marc Ellington - Vocals, Guitar
*BJ Cole - Dobro, Steel Guitar
*Jerry Donahue - Electric Guitar
*Dave Mattacks - Drums
*Gerry Conway - Drums
*Roger Swallow - Drums
*Timmy Donald - Drums
*Pat Donaldson - Bass
*Sandy Robertson - Acoustic Guitar
*Simon Nicol - Acoustic Guitar
*Steve Ashley - Harmonica
*David Richards - Piano
*Ian Whiteman - Piano
*Tony Cox - Strings
*Katie Kissoon - Vocals
*Richard Thompson - Vocals
*Linda Thompson - Vocals
*Mac Kissoon - Vocals

1969  Marc Ellington - Marc Ellington (2009 korean remaster)
1971  Marc Ellington ‎- Rains-Reins Of Changes (2004 remaster)
1972  Marc Ellington - A Question Of Roads (2010 korean remaster)
1972  Marc Ellington - Restoration (2011 remasters)

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Thursday, March 21, 2019

Fantasy - Beyond The Beyond Plus... (1974 uk, remarkable prog rock, 2015 remastered edition)

Hailing from Gravesend in Kent, Fantasy formed in 1970 and were originally known as Chapel Farm, after their rehearsal space. The original line-up was Dave Metcalfe (keyboards), Paul Lawrence (guitar / vocals), Bob Vann (guitar), Dave Read (bass) and Brian Chatham (drums). Initially they focused on cover versions, then began to develop their own material, and decided to enter themselves in Melody Maker's annual 'Search' talent contest. On the day of their heat at a hotel in nearby Cliftonville, the band became concerned when they lost sight of Vann, who had been celebrating his 18th birthday with various drinks. To their horror they realized that he had fallen off a cliff and was lying on the beach below. An ambulance was summoned, but he died on the way to hospital.

Following that blow Chatham also departed their ranks, but the band decided to persevere with new members Pete James (guitar) and Jon Webster (drums), both recruited from a local band named Joy. With a new name of Firequeen, they rehearsed hard and scored support slots with bands including
the Pink Fairies and the Edgar Broughton Band. When they sent a demo tape to numerous labels, Polydor expressed an interest, on the understanding that they changed their name to Fantasy – a name they never liked, but decided to put up with. 

A contract was duly signed in the spring of 1973, and the band set about recording their LP in Chipping Norton Studios, Oxfordshire, with producer Peter Sames (who'd recently overseen another cult favourite, Bored Civilians by Cross & Ross, as well as collaborating with hitmaker Peter Skellern).

The album they cut was a superb piece of Moody Blues-inspired prog rock, featuring beautifully textured songs with strong melodies and sublime Mellotron flourishes. Especially notable was The Award', a tribute to their late guitarist Vann. Trailed by an equally rare brass-laden 45, 'Politely Insane' / 'I Was Once Aware' (Polydor 2058 405), which appeared in October (and features a non-LP B-side), the album appeared that winter as Polydor 2383 246, clad in a colourful gatefold sleeve. Its working title was Virgin On The Ridiculous, but fortunately they ended up retitling it. It could have done very well, but Polydor chose not to promote it - perhaps because the band had not committed to music full-time (they still had day-jobs).

Following its release they played a few gigs, including one at the Marquee supporting Queen, but momentum failed to build. Nonetheless, they remained upbeat, returning to the studio with Sames in July 1974  The sessions, The tracks finally emerged two however, did not go smoothly, decades later, as Beyond The and when Polydor rejected the Beyond, confirming that justice is tapes, Metcalfe decided to quit, rarely done in the music business...
CD Liner Notes

1. Introduction - 2:12
2. Beyond The Beyond - 5:38
3. Reality - 2:59
4. Alanderie - 9:01
5. Afterthought (David Metcalfe, David Read, Geoff Whitehorn, Paul Petley) - 5:52
6. Worried Man - 2:57
7. Just A Dream - 3:34
8. Winter Rose - 3:29
9. Church Clock - 3:51
10.Fire-Fire (Bonus Track) (Geoff Whitehorn) - 6:47
11.Vacuum (Bonus Track) (David Read) - 4:09
12.Alone (Bonus Track) (David Read)  - 4:38
13.Afterthought (Original Version) (David Metcalfe, David Read, Geoff Whitehorn, Paul Petley) - 7:30
14.Church Clock (Original Version) - 3:38
All songs by David Metcalfe, David Read, Paul Lawrence except where stated

*Paul Lawrence - 12 String Guitar, Lead Vocals
*David Read - Bass, Double Bass, Vocals
*David Metcalfe - Keyboards, Clarinet, Vocals
*Peter James - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Jon Webster - Drums, Vocals
*Geoff Whitehorn - Lead Guitar (Tracks 10-13)
*Paul Petley - Lead Vocals (Tracks 10-13)
*Brian Chattam - Drums (Tracks 10-13)

1973  Fantasy - Paint A Picture (2005 remaster with bonus tracks) 

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Monday, March 18, 2019

Humble Pie - Street Rats (1975 uk, great groovy classic rock, 2016 japan SHM remaster with extra tracks)

Humble Pie endured their share of turbulent times early in the band's existence, overcoming the early departure of guitarist Peter Frampton through a steady diet of regular album releases and a seemingly never-ending series of tours arranged by manager Dee Anthony. By the mid-'70s, they'd attained a measure of commercial success, sending a string of LPs into the American Top 40 and notching a handful of hit singles along the way -- but they were also flat broke, tired of life on the road, and coming apart at the seams.

The band's eighth studio LP, Street Rats, captures Humble Pie mid-implosion; in fact, according to the group's members, it wasn't even supposed to be a Humble Pie record at all. Bandleader Steve Marriott, burned out after one too many tours, wanted to take a break from making the band his top priority, and although their label, A&M Records, was impatient for more Pie product, he opted instead to begin work on three LPs -- a solo album, a duo record with the group's bassist Greg Ridley, and a proper Pie release. Unsurprisingly, between this scattershot creative approach and the musicians' overall burnout, the results weren't exactly coherent.

"Everything was so self-destructive at that point," pointed out drummer Jerry Shirley years later in Dan Muise's book, Gallagher, Marriott, Derringer & Trower: Their Lives and Music. "Everybody was doing everything in a dozen different directions and nothing was getting done." Adding to the band's dire financial straits was their ironclad contract with Anthony, who, as Shirley put it, "had us truly locked up ... it was a nightmare of a time."

Marriott, who ultimately ended up writing or co-writing five of the 11 tracks on Street Rats, dealt with the drama through overindulgence. "Steve's way of dealing with things was buying an ounce of coke every other day and burying himself in his studio," Shirley continued. "When you've got nothing but carte blanche studio time and all the coke in the world, all you do is record." Quantity doesn't necessarily constitute quality, however, especially when you're too addled to make sound decisions about the stuff coming out of the speakers, and so it was with the Street Rats sessions. "There were great bits here and there," argued Shirley, "but there was no one focus on one record."

Ridley, who described himself and Marriott in Muise's book as "two lonely souls," looked back on that period as a sort of sleepless musical haze. "We'd just sit there for almost a week at a time without sleeping," he recalled. "He and I would just go through different things. He'd say, 'Let's try this chord,' and then we'd go off from that."

Eventually, A&M execs grew tired of footing the bill for what appeared to be an increasingly aimless trio of projects and mandated that Marriott and the band bring in a producer to help shepherd the sessions. Their choice, flamboyant former Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham, had name value -- and experience with wrangling drugged-out musicians -- but he wasn't really the rough hand that Humble Pie needed at that point. Although he ended up doing a lot of work salvaging the recordings, Street Rats -- and the band itself -- was probably already a lost cause before he even walked through the door of the studio.

"The rot had long since set in," admitted Shirley. "He tried, he failed, let's put it like that. There was all kinds of nonsense going on."

Not that the band were the only parties guilty of nonsense. Insistent on releasing a Humble Pie album and steadfastly disinterested in Marriott's other plans, the label ultimately commandeered the tapes, demanding that an LP's worth of tracks from the period later dubbed the Scrubbers Sessions be cobbled together into the "band's" next effort. Under duress and fairly shady circumstances, Street Rats was born.

In the months after the album's February 1975 release date, Marriott and his bandmates would publicly disavow the results, with Marriott going so far as to insist that the label "stole" the tapes for the title track, which was played with people outside the band and had "nothing to do" with Humble Pie. Prior to the album's completion, however, the members of the group were more resigned than angry.

"No one cared. No one was talking. We'd already broken up," shrugged Shirley. "We'd agreed to allow the album to be released and to do a farewell tour. Other than that we were pretty much done."

And that's essentially the way it went down for Humble Pie during the Street Rats period. When a last-ditch effort to get Marriott and Ridley to clean up and redouble their commitment to the group failed -- along with an attempt to lure Who manager Bill Curbishley into their camp and ditch Anthony -- Shirley and guitarist Clem Clempson felt there was no choice but to walk away.

While Street Rats fared poorly in comparison to its predecessors, peaking at an unimpressive No. 100 on the Billboard albums chart, there was still plenty of demand for Humble Pie -- something that became abundantly clear during the farewell tour, which drew healthy crowds even if Shirley and Clempson were playing with one foot out the door. And although Marriott and Shirley would revive the band name in later years, both together and apart, the group's glory years were firmly behind them. After Marriott died in a house fire in April of 1991, all hopes for any kind of real reunion were permanently quashed.

Although it's easy to paint Humble Pie's story as another tragic tale of bad behavior and financial tomfoolery splitting up a once-promising band, not all of the group's former members agreed with that point of view. Years later, Clempson gave Muise a more philosophical take on what drove the Pie apart, speculating that the lineup might have dissolved no matter what.

"There are hundreds of Humble Pies and they may all have their personal reasons that they attribute to their downfall," he mused. "But it's usually just because they have a creative period and they get popular. They get some hit songs and everybody wants to hear them. And they just fail to live up to it for whatever reasons. The pressures of touring, the internal conflicts of egos, believing their own hype -- all these things are contributing factors."
by Jeff Giles, February 13, 2015

1. Street Rat (Steve Marriott) - 2:51
2. Rock And Roll Music (Chuck Berry) - 2:31
3. We Can Work It Out (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) - 3:20
4. Scored Out (Clem Clempson, Steve Marriott) - 2:34
5. Road Hog (Steve Marriott) - 3:09
6. Rain (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) - 4:02
7. Funky To The Bone (Fred Gowdy, Larry Wilkins) - 4:12
8. Let Me Be Your Lovemaker (Betty Wright, Clarence Reid, Willie Clarke) - 5:57
9. Countryman Stomp (Clem Clempson, Greg Ridley, Tim Hinkley) - 2:20
10.Drive My Car (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) - 3:42
11.Queens And Nuns (Unknown) - 3:05
12.Big Black Dog (Peter Frampton) - 4:05
13.Mister Ring (Greg Ridley) - 4:24
14.The Outcrowd (Jerry Shirley) - 2:51
15.I Don't Need No Doctor (Single Version) (Nickolas Ashford, Valerie Simpson, Jo Armstead) - 3:58

The Humble Pie
*Steve Marriott - Guitar, Harmonica, Keyboards, Vocals
*Clem Clempson - Guitar, Slide Guitar
*Greg Ridley - Bass, Vocals
*Jerry Shirley - Drums
*Mel Collins - Saxophones
*Tim Hinkley - Keyboards

1969  Humble Pie - As Safe As Yesterday Is (Japan edition)
1969  Humble Pie - Town and Country (2007 remaster and expanded)
1970  Humble Pie (Japan edition)
1971  Humble Pie - Rock On
1971  Humble Pie - Performance, Rockin’ The Fillmore (2013 issue, 4 discs set)
1972  Humble Pie - Smoikin' (Japan edition)
1973  Humble Pie - Eat It (Japan edition)
1973  Humble Pie - In Concert / King Biscuit Flower Hour
1974  Humble Pie - Thunderbox (2011 japan SHM remaster)
Related Act 
1967  Small Faces - Green Circles / First Immediate Album 
1968  The Small Faces - Ogden's Nut Gone Flake (3 discs set)
1965-69  Small Faces - The Immediate Years (four discs box, 1st edition)

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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Dry Ice - Dry Ice (1969 uk, outstanding hard acid psych rock, 2018 remaster)

The roots of Dry Ice go back to 1965, when guitarist Paul Gardner's band, The Select, were recording at Joe Meek's Holloway Road studios. In a legendary fit of pique Joe announced that if this partnership was to progress then the drummer had to go ...enter Terry.

Terry's first live gig was the Tiger's Head, Catford, which was a big gig on the rock circuit mid 60's. Later that year the other guitarist, Pat Allen quit, taking the PA with him. Paul and Terry then embarked on a musical journey with various bass players, including cousin Johnny Crooks and brother Derek.

Jack's Union was the first outfit. They had a residency at the Kew Boathouse, where a mention in Melody Maker's Raver column sealed their instant notoriety with the local mod community". Who influenced Jack's Union have smashing time at Kew Boathouse." An axe and a tailor's dummy were allegedly involved.!!!

It was around late '66 after a Marquee gig that the lads were approached by Phil Carson (later to be CEO at Atlantic Records, signing Led Zep). He was at this stage in charge of Olga Records, a Swedish Co. Impressed by the band's bizarre stage antics he offered his services. Paul and Terry also did session work for bands on the label like The Hep Stars (Bjorn's band pre-Abba) mainly cleaning and beefing up backing tracks.

In spite of Phil encouraging the band to be as outrageous as possible on gigs, one of which was a support slot to The Easybeats at the California Ballroom, Dunstable and another at Hastings' Pier Ballroom with Episode6  ...where singer Ian Gillan and bass player Roger Glover called the band "nutcases." ...he dropped them like a hot potato when the complaints, bills and barrings poured in from  various venues... Even dear old John Gee barred them from the Marquee. He relented later, bless him. 

As Psychedelica reared its head, the band morphed into Rainbow Reflection, playing at Middle Earth many times and rubbing shoulders with the likes of Arthur Brown, Joe Cocker, The Who, Dantalian's Chariot, Bowie, Bolan and an apocryphal gig with The Yardbirds. It was at Covent Garden's King St venue that they met Nick Butt, Middle Earth's resident electrician, Electric Nick as he was known.

As Nick recalls, the Dry Ice name was dreamed up over breakfast in Camden Town after an all-nighter. Enter Lee Gopthall of B&C and Stable Records. He gave Nick a small advance for the band and the promise of making an album. Mk1 lineup was Paul, Terry, Pete Bendall (keyboard) and Phil Griffiths (bass) (brother of Ron, Iveys/Badfinger). This line -up only played half a dozen or so gigs but one, on a Middle Earth night at The Roundhouse, was a real goody. Bendall went back to his native Minehead, but keyboard never really sat easy here and he was replaced by vocalist Jeff Novak.

It is now late '68 and the band also has an offer of a gig at the Royal Albert Hall on Festival '69. Out of the blue, Phil quits just after the photo session for The Albert Hall gig. The band had been rehearsing in Nick Butt's basement Studio in Portobello Road beneath Simon Stable's record shop. Dear Simon....hippy legend, DJ, music journo and good friend to the band. It was Simon that introduced them to Ian McDonald of King Crimson, who plays flute on the album track Lalia.

Thus the band are forced into overdrive to find a new bass player with only a couple of weeks before the big gig. Bass player John Gibson turns up to audition with his mate Chris in tow. It doesn't take long before they are both offered the job, with Chris joining on guitar. So there we are....the line-up Mk3 - that is on the records. Paul Gardner, Terry Sullivan, John Gibson, Chris Hyrenewitz* and Jeff Novak. *Never sure about the spelling...sorry Chris.

The album was recorded at IBC in Portland Place, London, home of many a legendary release. Nick Butt produced. By now the band was with Marquee Martin Management / Agency under the guidance of Mike Dolan, who also managed Hard Meat. They played lots of high profile gigs, including a stint at The Star Club, Hamburg with Rory Gallagher's Taste and at The Marquee, Midnight Court and The Country Club, Hampstead.

As there was no obvious single on the album, Paul was asked to write something. "Running to the Convent" ensued ...written in about 10 minutes in Nick's Portobello Road flat. The band recorded it in Trident Studio in Soho, produced by Mike Dolan. On Mike's suggestion the band recorded a Hard Meat song"Walking up Down Street" as the B side. Eventually however, it was not used and"Nowhere to Go" from the IBC sessions was used. The 45rpm single on B&C was released in November '69 . It was playlisted by Radio 1 and reviewed and played by Annie Nightingale. It is now rarer than a rare hen's toothy thing. So ...for whatever reason(s) the album was never released and the masters were left to gather dust for 49 years.
CD Liner Notes

1. Clear White Light - 3:34
2. She Gave - 3:11
3. Running To The Convent (Single Version) - 2:20
4. Fake It - 3:39
5. It's All Over Now, Baby Blue (Bob Dylan) - 4:36
6. Chinese House - 5:35
7. Falling Down - 3:30
8. Good Friday - 3:35
9. Laila - 5:33
10.Nowhere To Go - 2:49
11.Untitled '67 - 3:30
12.Ashes (Demo) - 4:02
13.Running To The Convent (Demo) - 3:38
14.It's All Over Now, Baby Blue (Alternative Mix) (Bob Dylan) - 4:31
All songs by Paul Gardner except where noted

The Dry Ice 
*Jeff Novak - Vocals
*Paul Gardner - Guitar, Vocals
*Chris Hyrenwicz - Guitar
*John Gibson - Bass
*Terry Sullivan - Drums
*Ian McDonald - Flute (Track 9)

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Saturday, March 9, 2019

The Floating Opera - The Floating Opera (1971 us, exceptional psych bluesy rock, 2018 korean remaster)

The Floating Opera is into a Blues-Rock sound made unique by guitarist Steve Welkom's persuasive singing in "Vision", he's joined by Gary Munce on bass, and Artie Alinikoff on excellent drums/vocals, while Carol Less provided driving keyboard counterpoint which consistently defined their sound.

The Floating Opera Self-Titled Original 1971 Embryo Records SD-730, has some real moments where the guitar takes off into the stratosphere. They do a nice job with the ballads, and it's cleanly produced. The album is packaged in a nice looking gatefold cover with the lyrics inside, and the group's picture on the front.

1. Song Of The Suicides - 4:54
2. The Vision - 6:09
3. Midnight - 3:25
4. Buckwheat Gal - 3:56
5. Fever Day (Carol Lees, John Nemerovski, Steve Welkom) - 4:32
6. Age Of Onan - 4:33
7. Crack On The Wall - 2:46
8. Back On The Street Again - 4:06
9. Angelfood Cake Song (Gary Munce, John Nemerovski, Steve Welkom) - 4:21
10.Soulful Feeling - 5:14
All songs by John Nemerovski, Steve Welkom except where stated

The Floating Opera
*John Nemerovski - Piano
*Steve Welkom - Vocals, Guitar
*Artie Alinikoff - Drums, Vocals
*Carol Lees - Keyboards, Vocals
*Gary Munce - Bass

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Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Bonnie Dobson - Bonnie Dobson (1969 canada, divine baroque folk psych, 2006 remaster)

Bonnie Dobson Had already acquired legendary; status by the time she recorded this, her eponymous album in 1969. In the ten years since she wrote it, her song "Morning Dew" had long taken on a life of its own and flown far beyond the cafes of Greenwich Village, where the era's emergent troubadours turned out to see her play. Joan Baez may have taken inspiration from Bob Dylan; but Dylan dug Dobson the flame-haired Canuck who had toured with Sonny Terry & Brownie McGee. He even turned out to see her at Gerde's Folk City, using her arrangement of "The Ballad Of Peter Amberly" for his own "Ballad Of Donald White". Fred Neil unleashed his wild fret board mercury on "Morning Dew", in the process creating an arrangement that Tim Rose took and turned into his signature song.

By the time Dobson got around to putting this collection of songs together, The Grateful Dead had also recorded "Morning Dew" for their debut album. It made sense for her to reclaim it. Hence the appearance of Dobson's most famous tune, re recorded for her first album in five years, with Ben McPeek's elegant strings rising with the threat of imminent devastation. "When I saw a film called On The Beach," she said, explaining the song's genesis, "it made a tremendous impression on me, particularly at that time because everyone was very worried about the bomb and whether we were going to get through the next ten years. I was singing in Los Angeles and staying with a girl named Joyce. She went to bed or something and I just say and suddenly I just started writing this song. I had never written anything in my life. Really it was a kind of re-enactment of that film in a way where at the end, there is nobody left and it was a conversation between these two people trying to explain what's happening."

Reconfigured by producer Jack Richardson for a world in which folk had forged myriad tributaries into pop and rock, Bonnie Dobson never sounded better than she does here. In what amounted to a soft-rock setting, her new songs held their own magnificently. "Rainy Windows" is a pensive itinerant's paean to heartbreak in the windy city: "Chicago seen through rainy windows/Always makes me wanna cry."

 "I'm Your Woman" ventures more emotional uncertainty before giving way to a baroque pop sunburst. Less than twenty seconds into "Winter's Going", a sitar serves notice of its arrival with soft, strident chords of portent. Dobson steers a straight course through her own paean to the decay of nature and, with it, romance while the inspired arrangement envelopes her It isn't difficult to see why RCA saw manifold pop possibilities in Dobson's return. Her cut-glass tones made the sort of sublime sense that calls to mind similar practitioners of the art: Eclection's Kerrilee Male, The Sunshine Company's Mary Nance.

In terms of releasing a single from the album, "I Got Stung" picked itself. Framed by tumbling drums, bonkers strings and dive-bar piano, this potent dose of woman scorned was none the worse for its passing resemblance to "He Quit Me", the song written by a then-unknown Warren Zevon and sung by Leslie Miller for the Midnight Cowboy soundtrack. Also featured on that soundtrack, of course, was Nilsson's "Everybody's Talkin'" a song Dobson would have known through her association with its writer Fred Neil. Thanks to its bustling rhythmic clatter, her version on the song here has long been a bona fide "results" record for clued-up DJs.

If "Morning Dew" instantly established Dobson as a songwriter, it does no harm to reiterate her credentials as a fine interpreter of other people's material. Her version of Jackson C Frank's "You Never Wanted Me" radiates warm empathy. No less arresting are Dobson's versions of J P Bourtavie and Hal Shape's "Time", the sort of fragrant pop chanson that loaf-haired lovelies of the French-speaking countries used to sing on '60s Eurovision Song Contests. Better still is Gilles Vigneault's "Pendant Que", an exquisite study in autumnal sadness piloted from floral harpsichord intro to sitar freakout in exactly three minutes.

Thirty-seven years on, Dobson's own ambivalent feelings towards the album may be informed by the fact that, ultimately these songs, offered no new commercial dawn for her. Of Richardson's opulent production, she says, "I suppose that's what I wanted [at the time]". But by the time Bonnie Dobson made its way into the world, the pop climate was already getting hostile to soft rock, no matter what the pedigree of its creator. Dobson herself raised her kids and settled down in London where she became head administrator in the Philosophy department at the University Of London's Birkbeck College. Thanks to that one song, her place in the corpus of popular music is assured. Bonnie Dobson gives you eleven more reasons to keep her name alive.
by Pete Paphides, London August 2006

1. I Got Stung - 2:57
2. Morning Dew - 3:20
3. Let's Get Together (Dino Valenti) - 3:08
4. I'm Your Woman - 3:00
5. Time (Hal Shaper, Jean Pierre Bourtayre) - 3:09
6. Rainy Windows - 2:40
7. Everybody's Talking (Fred Neil) - 3:26
8. Bird Of Space (Ben McPeek) - 2:50
9. You Never Wanted Me (Jackwon Carey Frank) - 3:11
10.Pendant Que (Gilles Vigneault) - 3:01
11.Elevator Man (Chad Allan) - 2:53
12.Winter's Going - 2:41
All compositions by Bonnie Dobson except where indicated

Bonnie Dobson - Guitar, Vocals

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Saturday, March 2, 2019

The Hollies - Bus Stop (1966 uk, fabulous beat roots 'n' roll, 2012 japan remaster)

When the Hollies -- one of the best and most commercially successful pop/rock acts of the British Invasion -- began recording in 1963, they relied heavily upon the R&B/early rock & roll covers that provided the staple diet for countless British bands of the time. They quickly developed a more distinctive style featuring three-part harmonies (heavily influenced by the Everly Brothers), ringing guitars, and hook-happy material, penned by both outside writers (especially future 10cc member Graham Gouldman) and themselves, eventually composing most of their repertoire on their own. The best early Hollies records evoke an infectious, melodic cheer similar to that of the early Beatles, although the Hollies were neither in their class (not an insult: nobody else was) nor demonstrated a similar capacity for artistic growth. They tried, though, easing into somewhat more sophisticated folk-rock and mildly psychedelic sounds as the decade wore on, especially on their albums (which contain quite a few overlooked highlights).

Allan Clarke (lead singer) and Graham Nash (vocals, guitar) had been friends since childhood in Manchester, and they formed the nucleus of the Hollies in the early '60s with bassist Eric Haydock. In early 1963, EMI producer Ron Richards signed the group after seeing them at the famous Cavern Club in Liverpool. Guitarist Vic Steele left before the first session, to be replaced by 17-year-old Tony Hicks. Drummer Don Rathbone only lasted for a couple of singles before being replaced by Bobby Elliott, who had played with Hicks in his pre-Hollies group, the Dolphins. The lineup changes were most fortuitous: Hicks contributed a lot to the group with his ringing guitar work and songwriting, and Elliott was one of the very finest drummers in all of pop/rock. Although their first singles were R&B covers, the Hollies were no match for the Rolling Stones (or, for that matter, the Beatles) in this department, and they sounded much more at home with pop/rock material that provided a sympathetic complement to their glittering harmonies. They ran off an awesome series of hits in the U.K. in the '60s, making the Top 20 almost 20 times. Some of their best mid-'60s singles, like "Here I Go Again," "We're Through," and the British number one "I'm Alive," passed virtually unnoticed in the United States, where they didn't make the Top 40 until early 1966, when Graham Gouldman's "Look Through Any Window" did the trick. In 1966, Eric Haydock left the group under cloudy circumstances, replaced by Bernie Calvert.

The Hollies really didn't break in America in a big way until "Bus Stop" (1966), their first Stateside Top Tenner; "On a Carousel," "Carrie Ann," and "Stop Stop Stop" were also big hits. Here the Hollies were providing something of a satisfying option for pop-oriented listeners that found the increasingly experimental outings of groups like the Beatles and Kinks too difficult to follow. At the same time, the production and harmonies were sophisticated enough to maintain a broader audience than more teen- and bubblegum-oriented British Invasion acts like Herman's Hermits. Their albums showed a more serious and ambitious side, particularly on the part of Graham Nash, without ever escaping the truth that their forte was well-executed pop/rock, not serious statements.
by Richie Unterberger

1. Bus Stop (Graham Gouldman) - 2:55
2. The Very Last Day (Paul Stooky, Peter Yarrow) - 2:57
3. Hard Hard Year (Allan Clarke, Tony Hicks, Graham Nash) - 2:17
4. Sweet Little Sixteen (Chuck Berry) - 2:25
5. That's How Strong My Love Is (Roosevelt Jamison) - 2:47
6. Oriental Sadness (Allan Clarke, Tony Hicks, Graham Nash) - 2:39
7. I Am A Rock (Paul Simon) - 2:52
8. Stop Stop Stop (Allan Clarke, Tony Hicks, Graham Nash) - 2:50
9. I Can't Let Go (Chip Taylor, Al Gorgoni) - 2:27
10.Fifi The Flea (Allan Clarke, Tony Hicks, Graham Nash) - 2:09
11.Stewball (Traditional) - 3:07
12.I've Got A Way Of My Own (Allan Clarke, Tony Hicks, Graham Nash) - 2:15
13.Take Your Time (Buddy Holly, Norman Petty) - 2:23
14.Don't You Even Care (Clint Jr Ballard) - 2:28
15.If I Needed Someone (Saturday Club 13th December 1965) (George Harrison) - 2:18
16.He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother (Top Of The Pops Tv 2nd October 1969) (Bob Russell, Bobby Scott) - 4:11