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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.


Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Rare Earth - Get Ready (1969 us, essential mix of funk, soul, and psych rock, 2015 remaster)

Based in the Motor City (Detroit, MI, USA), hometown to such (in)famous rockers as The MC5 and The Stooges to name but two, psychedelic influenced rhythm and blues rockers Rare Earth were notable on at least three accounts.  First and probably most importantly they were the first white band signed to Berry Gordy’s prestigious Motown label, receiving their own eponymous imprint, Rare Earth Records.  Second, the band’s front man and lead vocalist was their drummer.  Finally, the band’s repertoire consisted almost entirely of cover versions.  

During the 5 year period, 1969-1974, they were one of the hottest acts in the land (the USA), releasing 6 albums (5 studio and 1 live), as well as a string of 5 hit singles (followed by a few near misses) that ensured the band lots of Top 40 AM radio time, as well as extended album cuts that garnered the band airplay on the newly emerging FM radio market.  As a result Rare Earth consistently scored highly on the Billboard charts, albums and singles alike, and achieved this despite a rather limited repertoire of original material.  In fact, all of the songs the group was best known for, and continues to be remembered for, were cover versions and this occurring at a time when original material was deemed absolutely essential to success in the ever burgeoning rock market.  Being a huge fan of Rare Earth as well as a rock historian I invite you to join me on this adventure, tracing Rare Earth’s musical life (5 years worth anyway) by way of the tracks released during the period, documenting my journey along the way.

The band’s self-produced, heavy rocking rhythm and blues debut LP “Get Ready” entered the Billboard pop charts on 6 December 1969, peaking at #12 and remaining in the Top 200 albums for an impressive 77 weeks.  The group featured on the album was comprised of Pete Hoorelbeke aka Rivera (drums and lead vocals), Gil Bridges (saxophone, flute, percussion and vocals), John Persh (bass, trombone and vocals), Rod Richards (guitar and vocals) and Kenny James (organ and keyboards).  The album yielded a sizable hit single with its title track (written by William “Smokey” Robinson of Smokey Robinson and The Miracles fame), edited to just under 3 minutes from the LP version’s 21 minute plus run time. 

The single entered the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart on 14 March 1970, peaking at #4, charting for a respectable 20 weeks and outperforming The Temptations’ original release for good measure.  Rod Richards’ fiery, psychedelic guitar is featured on the heavy, rhythm and bluesy sound the band created, although Bridges’ saxophone and flute or Persh’s trombone added a jazzier, breezier element to the music. 
by Kevin Rathert, 2015

1. Magic Key (Gil Bridges, Kenny Folcik) - 3:59
2. Tobacco Road (John D. Loudermilk) - 6:18
3. Feelin' Alright (Dave Mason) - 5:05
4. In Bed (Lynn Henderson, Tom Baird, Wes Henderson) - 3:00
5. Train To Nowhere (Kim Simmonds, Chris Youlden) - 3:24
6. Get Ready (William "Smokey" Robinson) - 20:05

Rare Earth
*John Persh - Vocals, Bass Guitar, Trombone
*Pete Rivera - Vocals, Drums
*Rod Richards - Vocals, Guitar
*Kenny James - Vocals, Organ, Electric Piano
*Gil Bridges - Vocals, Saxophone, Tambourine

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  In Concert (2017 Audiophile) 
1972  Rare Earth - Willie Remembers (2017 audiophile) 
1974  Live In Chicago (2014 audiophile remaster)
1976/78  Midnight Lady / Band Together (2017 digipak remaster)
1975/77  Rare Earth - Back To Earth / Rare Earth (2006 remaster)

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Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Cathy Young - A Spoonful Of Cathy Young (1969 canada, elegant bluesy folk psych rock, 2015 reissue)

Already a familiar face on Yorkville, Toronto's thriving folk scene, Cathy Young came to wider prominence when she performed in front of 5000 people at the Queen's Park Love-in in May 1967, still aged only 16, on a bill that also included Leonard Cohen and Buffy Sainte-Marie. As she later commented: "It was my graduation from the streets of Yorkville... The only song I was able to play was Buffy Sainte-Marie's Codeine." Though she was scheduled right after Sainte-Marie on the bill, she went ahead with the song anyway, and cemented her reputation. 

Before long she'd been offered a recording contract by Mainstream's entrepreneurial Bob Shad, who specialized in signing up young artists and swiftly taping whatever they had to offer (the most prominent example having been Janis Joplin and Big Brother and the Holding Company). With musical backing from Dylan sideman Eric Weissberg (soon to become renowned for Duelling Banjos) and other session notables including Buddy Saltzman and Michael Abene, the album appeared in April 1969, prompting Billboard to write 'Cathy Young is the best female singer-songwriter to come along in a long time. The subtlety of her lyrics is a strong point, but her singing and Eric- Weissberg's musical arrangements also help to make this 'spoonful' an impressive debut album. Some of her best songs are Everyone's A Dealer, Circus, and Melody Plot. 

With much deserved airplay of these and other cuts, such as her unique rendition of the blues standard Spoonful, this album could become an underground smash. This one 'spoonful' should be all that's required to transform Cathy Young into a chart regular.' Unfortunately these predictions did not come to pass, but Young did go on to receive a prestigious Juno Award as Most Promising Female Vocalist in March 1974, following the release of her second album, Travel Stained, the previous year. 

Thereafter she has toured the world, as well as performing in stage musicals (including a stint as Mary Magdalene in the Canadian touring production of Jesus Christ Superstar), and becoming a popular performer on cruise ships and in luxury hotels.
CD Liner Notes

1. Spoonful (Willie Dixon) - 6:46
2. Misfit Matilda - 2:02
3. This Life - 3:07
4. Everyone's A Dealer - 4:17
5. Circus - 2:59
6. Mr. Moth - 1:51
7. Colour That Lightning - 4:00
8. 3 Billion Lovers - 2:01
9. Understanding Changes Misunderstood - 3:38
10.Following In Front - 2:49
11.Melody Plot - 3:37
All compositions by Cathy Young except track #1

*Cathy Young - Vocal, Guitar
*Eric Weissberg - Banjo, Guitar
*Don Payne - Bass
*Buddy Saltzman - Drums
*Ronnie Zito - Drums
*Michael Joseph Abene - Piano, Organ
*Patrick Rebillot - Piano, Organ

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Saturday, August 1, 2020

Forest Green - Forest Green (1973 us, exceptional brass jazz prog rock, 2019 korean remaster)

Since its formation in the Spring of 1970, Forest Green has devoted itself to a full-time, eminently professional exploration of its roots, influences, and the techniques at its command. Combining sensibilities hat stem and range from classical to the self-widening channels of improvisational jazz, 

Forest Green puts together a sound that is at once logical, tight, and satisfying. Most importantly, what emerges from the sophisticated incorporation of elements as diverse as a Big Band Sound or a Latin Pulse - is an exuberant lyrical innocence; a sense of wonder at all the wit and emotion that music may convey.

True then to the City of Philadelphia whose sound Forest Green has helped to further define, and to all others now interested in their music, Forest Green delivers a message of Youth and Life aspiring to newer, more progressive horizons.
by Matt Damsker, Associate Editor of "The Drummer"

A stunning debut album of this American band in 1973 features progressive and psychedelic rock with nice jazzy approach. Pretty awesome mixed bag album for prog jazz and classic rock.

1. Never Found A Way (Timothy Jordan) - 4:36
2. I've Been This Way Before (Syd Silverstein) - 3:12
3. What It's About (Timothy Jordan) - 3:01
4. Black Shepherd (Arthur Cohen) - 3:15
5. Beggar Man (Ray Barrett) - 4:07
6. Scream Fear (Syd Silverstein) - 4:26
7. The Ballad Of Widow Jenkins And Rita (Arthur Cohen) - 3:10
8. Movin' To The Country (Syd Silverstein) - 2:34
9. Boundless Sky (Ray Barrett) - 4:28
10.Mountain (Timothy Jordan) - 5:16

Forest Green
*Timothy Jordan- Vocal, Electric, Lead, Rhythm, Acoustic Guitars
*Syd Silverstein- Vocal, Bass
*Lon Poland- Drums, Bongo
*Ray Barrett- Vocal, Organ, Electric Piano, Clavinet, Recorder
*Donald Hettinger- Flute, Alto Sax, Bassoon, Percussion
*Robert Mast- Flute, Tenor Sax
*Arthur Cohen - Piano

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