In The Land Of FREE we still Keep on Rockin'

I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now

Plain and Fancy

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


Saturday, March 6, 2021

God's Children - Music Is The Answer The Complete Collection (1971 us, fascinating jazzy latino rock 'n 'soul, feat Little Willie G. backing by the Wrecking Crew, 2017 remaster)

The memories are rich, often as sun-splashed as one might expect, and I wish I had more of them. Seeing Santana at a Day on the Green in 1976, War at Winterland around the same time, Malo in the mix there somewhere as well. Growing up – and into a music obsessive – in late 60’s/early 70’s suburban California meant hearing the legacy of Latino rock’n’roll develop before my very ears, and regardless of my relatively cloistered existence in then-predominantly white East Bay outpost Concord, I’m convinced that being exposed to that ethnic strata helped both seed my imminent escape to the urban wilds of San Francisco and smooth the transition. I only know now, with the release of this long overdue collection, that my incidental education would have been all that much richer had it included seeing God’s Children, preferably prior to MCA subsidiary Uni getting their corporate claws in.

Now, on the surface, that stipulation is an odd one considering said interference involved landing the burgeoning hotshot band – whose pedigree, in the persons of Little Willie G (Garcia) and Lil’ Ray (Jimenez), reached back to genre pioneers Thee Midniters – in the studio with the legendary Wrecking Crew. But as the separation of tracks on Music Is The Answer makes lucently clear, even Carol Kaye and company, in this instance anyway, can’t help but be the applicators of some slickly competent lipstick on the pig of big label intentions. Yes, ruinous industry intrusion (especially back then) is a tale so common as to be the rule not the exception, but, listening to the evidence here, the dispiriting effect of that meddling, so often cited, could hardly be more accurately applied than in this case.

The verve, the vivacity, the inner soul/rock naturalism reflected on the collection’s first eight tracks, recorded, with one exception, with an outfit of local musicians simply referred to as the East LA Band, speaks in that type of single dynamic voice that was one of the era’s most enduring signal traits. In Garcia and Jimenez God’s Children had a pop-savvy duo with the chops and experience to not only compose their own Chicano soul classics but the confidence to pull them off on any hold-their-own stage you’d care to imagine, while in Lydia Amescua they had a spark plug vocal foil that could bring a combined light and fire to her roles as backing and lead singer (check her head-turning out-front performance on Lil’ Ray’s “If You Ever Go Away,” a pure force of intuitive phrasing at the mic). For an all-too-brief moment, the world was theirs, surely.

“It Don’t Make No Difference,” the harmonies divine, percolates along on a riverbed of B-3 organ and a rhythm section brimming like a very finely tuned V-8, the piano-based ballad “I Just Wish” situates somewhere between Frankie Lymon and Carole King, “Brown Baby” could very well be the tune that drew Berry Gordy west to LA, the yearning romanticism of “Lonely Lullaby” poignant enough to soundtrack every lover’s warm night dream of Southern California no matter where they live. And lest it be thought that God’s Children simply couldn’t deal with a larger studio contingent, skip to “Hey, Does Somebody Care.” Recorded at a session with a 40-piece orchestra booked by local entrepreneur Eddie Davis, the band nailed the track on a single take, at which point every hired musician stood and applauded as the conductor Arthur Freeman, in disbelief, said “I’ve never seen anything like this.”

A make-or-break opportunity, it would ultimately do both. Davis played some insider cards and the track became the theme song for Ben Casey star Vince Edwards’ new series Matt Lincoln. Though the show didn’t last past one season, the placement of their triumphant slice of symphonic soul brought God’s Children to the attention of Uni and the quiet tragedy of unforeseen consequences was set in motion. While the vocals on those Wrecking Crew sessions tend to retain their native zest (Lydia’s especially), the backdrops in to which they are plugged feel generic and paint-by-number, rendering what had been innately vital rather anodyne and bloodless. A waste of talent on multiple levels, it nonetheless cannot diminish God’s Children’s moment in the sun. A blink-and-you-miss-it ascendancy it may have been but, in retrospect, due to the talent and drive and dedication the trio brought to the project, what that short-lived burst produced was enough to maintain one’s faith in the concept of timelessness. [find Music Is
by Dave Cantrell

1. Music Is The Answer (William Anthony Garcia) - 4:07
2. It Don't Make No Difference (Raymond Titi Jimenez) - 3:24
3. If You Ever Go Away (Raymond Titi Jimenez) - 3:17
4. I Just Wish (Raymond Titi Jimenez) - 3:17
5. Dream (Raymond Titi Jimenez, William Anthony Garcia) - 3:08
6. Brown Baby (Wilbert Wade) - 3:12
7. Hey, Does Somebody Care (Linda Perhaps, Oliver Nelson) - 3:03
8. Lonely Lullaby (Mario Paniagua) - 2:24
9. Music Is The Answer (William Anthony Garcia) - 3:29
10.Music Is The Answer (William Anthony Garcia) - 3:35
11.Little Willie G. - Put Your Head On My Shoulder (Paul Anka) - 2:59
12.That's The Way God Planned It (Billy Preston) - 2:40
13.If You Ever Go Away (Raymond Titi Jimenez) - 3:17
14.If You Ever Go Away (Raymond Titi Jimenez) - 3:17
Tracks 1, 5 - 9, 12 featuring Little Willie G.
Tracks 2, 4, 7 featuring Little Ray
Tracks 3, 11, 13 featuring Lydia Amesqua

God's Children
*Little Willie G. - Vocals
*Little Ray - Vocals
*Lydia Amesqua - Vocals
*Fawn Rymal - Vocals
*Stacy Rymal - Vocals
*Steve Gutierrez - Drums
*Alan D. Flores - Bass
*Anthony "Beaver" Carroll - Bass
*Ray Montisanto - B3 Organ

The Wrecking Crew
*Hal Blaine - Drums
*Paul Humphrey - Drums
*Leon Russell - Piano
*David T. Walker - Guitar
*Carol Kaye - Bass

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Friday, February 26, 2021

Moby Grape - 20 Granite Creek (1971 us, remarkable west coast rural psych rock, 2017 japan SHM remaster)


20 Granite Creek was another comeback disc that Moby Grape issued in 1971, and delivers the goods in a more subdued, laidback country-rock fashion.

The five original members who played on the 1967 debut are all present though Skip Spence only contributes one fascinating original, the instrumental Chinese Song. Chinese Song is incredible, completely unlike anything the Grape would record again and more proof of Skip Spence’s genius. While Spence provided the Grape with an undefinable magic, Mosley, Lewis, Stevenson, and Miller’s contributions were just as important and really an underrated facet.

My first initial reaction to 20 Granite Creek was disappointment. The record’s production reminds me of the Doors’ LA Woman, slicker than their 60s records, making the band sound like a ghost of its former self. That being said, 20 Granite Creek is a much better album than their unfocused 1969 lp, Truly Fine Citizen, which was more or less contractual filler. Each track has something new to offer and as a whole this is one of Moby Grape’s very best offerings. Songs like Gypsy Wedding and Wild Oats Moan show off the group’s loose, bluesy hard rock side and would fit in well with classic rock radio as both these songs are full of great guitar riffs and busy arrangements. Goin Down To Texas is another excellent driving roots rocker with some great guitar hooks and a vibe that’s similar to Fall On You or Omaha. Other surprising highlights are the moody oblique psychedelia of Horse Out In The Rain and the boogie rocker I’m The Kinda Man, That Baby You Can – which bears a passing similarity to prime era Little Feat.

My picks off the album are Apocalypse and About Time, two reflective gems off the first side of the original lp. Apocalypse is more of a country-rocker that comes on like the calm after a storm and highlighted by fiddle and a rock steady beat. About Time is a complex production and notable for its unique tin drum section which gives it a distinct island influence. All in all this is a great guitar oriented roots rock lp that shows Moby Grape trying different ideas in the studio while keeping things fresh and simple. The original lp is fairly easy to find and was reissued on cd (but now out of print) by San Fransisco Sound in the 90’s albeit with shitty cover art though.
by Jason Nardelli

1. Gypsy Wedding (Bob Mosley) - 2:23
2. I'm The Kind Of Man, That Baby You Can Trust (Jerry Miller) - 3:32
3. About Time (Don Stevenson) - 2:51
4. Goin' Down To Texas (Peter Lewis) - 1:55
5. Road To The Sun (Bob Mosley) - 2:42
6. Apocalypse (Peter Lewis) - 2:11
7. Chinese Song (Alexander Spence) - 5:45
8. Roadhouse Blues (Jerry Miller) - 2:45
9. Ode To The Man At The End Of The Bar (Bob Mosley) - 3:42
10.Wild Oats Moan (Don Stevenson, Jerry Miller) - 3:03
11.Horse Out In The Rain (Peter Lewis) - 2:17

Moby Grape
*Peter Lewis - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
*Jerry Miller - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Bob Mosley - Bass, Vocals
*Skip Spence - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
*Don Stevenson - Drums, Vocals
*Jeffrey Cohen - Bass
*Andy Narell - Steel Drums
*David Rubinson - Electric Piano, Congas
*Gordon Stevens - Electric Viola, Dobro, Mandolin

1966-69  Live (Sundazed digipak issue)
1967  Moby Grape - Moby Grape (2007 remaster)
1967-68  The Place And The Time (2009 Sundazed release)

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Locksley Hall - Locksley Hall (1969-70 us, fine psych rock, 2019 reissue)

Named after a poem written in 1835 by Alfred Tennyson, Locksley Hall came from Spokane, Washington. Established 1967, the band was well regarded on the Pacific Northwest circuit until their demise in 1970. In 1969, The group put together an album intended to be released by the Epic label, but the effort failed to materialize. However, the tapes from these sessions were saved, and “Locksley Hall” has recently been reissued.

Operating in the same male-female vocal framework as groups such as Eternity’s Children, the Peanut Butter Conspiracy and It’s A Beautiful Day, the band was clearly a product of their time, yet had enough of their own bright ideas to forge a rather unique identity. Informed by adventure and imagination, “Locksley Hall” offers many mercurial moments to keep listeners interested and satisfied.

The introductory track is a short instrumental propelled by the spooky sound of a church organ, which duly whets the appetite. Plugging in at over seven minutes in length, “Let Me Blow Out Your Candles” is molded of a moody and meditative texture, intensified by spellbinding vocals, wavery acid-flavored guitar pickings and the lilting burr of a flute. Equally mesmerizing is the ghostly hymn-like approach of “When Autumn Leaves Turn To Gold,” while “Boy” rattles and rocks to a snarling edge.

Breezy jazz rhythms and shimmering melodies cement “Que-Ball,” and for a good laugh, there’s the corny “D.O.P.E.,” a strummy hillbilly sentiment about smoking grass. Exploding with sunny harmonies and effective hooks, “Wake Up (Tubby’s Tune)” is a pure pop gem smacking of hit single status, and “Some Say Love” carries a soulful hard rocking flair.

A lot of cool and clever stuff is happening throughout “Locksley Hall.” The vocals are strong and heartfelt, and the interplay between the guitars, keyboards and drums moves and grooves with freewheeling fervor. Containing an alluring mix of colors and tones, the album shows off the band’s vision on a variety of different levels. A homemade quality, coupled with a casual attitude gives “Locksley Hall’ an added dose of charm. As far as true blue hippy rock goes, here’s an album that certainly fits the term.
by Beverly Paterson

1. Locksley Hall (Poem) - 0:59
2. Boy - 4:14
3. Let Me Blow Out Your Candle - 7:35
4. Baby Blue Eyes - 4:06
5. D-O-P-E - 3:08
6. Some Say Love - 3:01
7. What Does A Lonely Heart Do? - 5:44
8. Que-Bell - 4:33
9. Wake Up (Tubby's Tune) - 2:20
10.When Autumn Leaves Turn To Gold - 4:18
11.Locksley Hall (Poem) - 0:30
12.After Thought - 0:41
13.Studio Chatter - 3:00
All songs written by Ben Staley

Locksley Hall
*Shannon Svenson - Vocals
*Ben Staley - Guitar, Vocals
*Randy Thompson - Drums
*Roy Castleman - Bass, Vocals
*Denny Langdale - Keyboards
*Kevin Svenson - Backing Vocals

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Thrice Mice - Thrice Mice (1970 germany, astonishing psych prog jazz rock with blues touches, 2003 remaster and expanded)

A sextet from Hamburg, playing the patented, distinctive German type of progressive jazz-rock typified by underground legends like Xhol and Out Of Focus (their 2nd & 3rd albums). The leading soloist in Thrice Mice was Wolfgang Buhre. Vocalist Karl-Heinz Blumenberg had little to do most of the time. Their album was recorded in November - December 1970 in Hamburg and released on Phillips in 1971. Buhre often tried to copy the wah-wah sax style of Ian Underwood of Mothers Of Invention, this was most apparent on the opening track, "Jo Joe". On "Vivaldi" the three soloists were playing duets, taking turns two at a time! Minnemann's organ sound was high, thin and cranky in the late sixties sort of way. 

The distinctive German underground sound, rooted in jazz, notably with influences as wide-ranging as Blodwyn Pig (two covers as bonus tracks) and Curved Air. Long jammings by highly talented musicians, all blending into an unique sound with the distinct spirit of krautrock. Bonus material, digitally remastered and with informative booklet.After a couple of years, the group resurfaced as Altona and made two further albums for RCA in 1974 and 1975.

1. Jo Joe (Arno Bredehöft) - 8:51
2. Vivaldi (Antonio Vivaldi) - 11:34
3. Trakov (Karl-Heinz Blumenberg) - 12:54
4. Fancy Desire (Wolfgang Buhre) - 8:00
5. Drve Me (Mick Abrahams) - 2:20
6. Pig Ii (Arno Bredehöft, Rainer von Gosen) - 10:56
7. Vivaldi's Revival - 7:18
8. Trying - 5:10
9. New Life - 2:20
10.Dawn - 2:57
11.An Invitation (Rainer von Gosen) - 3:10
Tracks 7-10 written by Wolfgang Buhre, Karl-Heinz Blumenberg, Werner von Gosen, Wolfram Minnemann, Arno Bredehöft, Rainer von Gosen
Bonus Tracks 5-11
Tracks 1-4 Recorded Nov./Dec. 1970, Windrose-Dumont-Time Studio, Hamburg.
Tracks 5, 6 Recorded live, 04.-06.09.1970 at Fehmann-Festival.
Track 7 Recorded live, March 1970, Ernst-Merck-Halle, Hamburg.
Tracks 8-10 Recorded live, Tochstedt (1969).
Track 11 Recorded 1967, Tonstudio Niemann & Richter

Thrice Mice
*Wolfgang Buhre - Saxophone
*Karl-Heinz Blumenberg - Vocals
*Werner Von Gosen - Guitar
*Wolfram Minnemann - Organ
*Arno Bredehöft - Drums
*Rainer Von Gosen - Bass

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Rory Gallagher - ‘Check Shirt Wizard-Live In ’77 (1977 ireland, superb classic hard blues rock, 2020 double disc digipak remaster)

Irish bluesman Rory Gallagher was always known as a fierce live performer and those not fortunate enough to catch him first-hand can still feel his power on his new posthumous release Check Shirt Wizard – Live In ‘77. The set comes out March 6th, 2020 via Chess/UMC as two CDs or three vinyl records and contains 20 previously unreleased live recordings from shows in early 1977 in London, Brighton, Sheffield and Newcastle. Many of the selected tracks are from Gallagher’s then-current album Calling Card and his 1975 effort Against The Grain. They’ve all been newly mixed from the original master tapes captured by The Rolling Stones’ mobile studio and were mastered at Abbey Road. This new record follows Gallagher’s successful Blues album of 2019 and is another tremendous batch of music from a talent who left us far too soon.

Rory Gallagher is arguably the greatest guitarist ever to emerge from Ireland and had a deep, passionate gift for playing the blues. His live performances during his 70s and 80s heyday are the stuff of legend and he was never more in his element than when he was onstage. His playing connected blues and rock influences to form a mighty guitar style that’s as relevant now as it was back then and his name is spoken in hushed, respectful tones in the guitar community to this very day. Gallagher died in 1995 at just 47 years old but his reputation has only grown in stature since then. He’s also been cited as an important figure in the development of guitar stars including Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Queen’s Brian May, and The Smiths’ Johnny Marr. He was a musician’s musician who left an empty spot behind him that’ll never be filled.

Check Shirt Wizard – Live In ‘77 begins with an audience chanting Gallagher’s name and, after a simple introduction, he goes right to work on the funky rocker “Do You Read Me.” Rory wastes no time and gets hot immediately on guitar and vocals. He pushes his battered old Stratocaster into overdrive and skillfully works unique melodic figures in between his blues licks. “Moonchild” follows and raises the tempo and intensity another few levels. Gallagher is bold and expressive, fearlessly taking the blues he loved into a rock environment that still sounds fresh and progressive. His tone and phrasing both shine here and represent a gold standard that emerging guitar heroes must still be judged against.

“Calling Card” is a jazz-tinged shuffle with a jam band flavor to it that gives Gallagher an entirely different context in which to situate his improvisations. The band stretches right along with him and together they touch on an Allman/Santana type of sound that everyone involved wears extremely well. Gallagher’s energy is unrelenting and gives this jam a harder edge than Duane or Carlos could, however, and he throws down like a boss.

Gallagher was one of the few blues/rock players who was just as compelling on solo acoustic as he was with an electric band, a fact made clear by tracks like “Barley & Grape Rag” and “Pistol Slapper Blues.” His acoustic efforts were always a cut above and he easily expanded to fill the space a solo stage gave him. “Too Much Alcohol” showcases Gallagher’s slashing acoustic slide playing and muscular rhythm style. He also engages vocally with his audience and you can tell that those assembled were paying attention to every word he sang.

“Bullfrog Blues” gets into Rory’s practically manic electric slide style and he deals out a seemingly endless string of tight bottleneck licks over a fast rock and roll beat. Gallagher never lets the energy lag even a little and keeps driving himself harder and harder. Impressive bass and drum solos complete the live band experience and help push Gallagher into the stratosphere.

Check Shirt Wizard – Live In ‘77 is a long and wonderful collection that explores a mostly undocumented period of Gallagher’s performance history. It shows us Rory at his best, giving his all to crowds that loved this music as much as he did. Gallagher was a house-rocker of the highest order and deserved to be more famous than he ever became. These live takes are treasures that all fans of blues music need to hear.
by Mike O’Cull

The New York Times obituary for blues rock guitarist Rory Gallagher says he was known for his “flashy guitar work,” which, while certainly true, is a dramatic oversimplification of Gallagher’s legacy. But the tribute, coming in at a scant 150 or so words, also crystalizes Gallagher’s career: misunderstood in the United States, underappreciated, and seen as one-dimensional by those who didn’t choose to delve into his full body of work. Check Shirt Wizard – Live in ‘77, a compilation of four European shows, won’t change Gallagher’s stature in the eyes of the public at large, but it does serve as a strong reminder of just what made him so great.

Gallagher’s live work is well-documented. There’s 1972’s Live In Europe, Irish Tour ’74, and 1980’s Stage Struck, plus some posthumous live releases. So it’s hard to say where Check Shirt Wizard fits into those other shows, other than as a great excuse to delve back into Gallagher’s catalog.

And one thing that comes across Check Shirt Wizard is that while Gallagher was a gifted guitar player, he was also a soulful singer. The vocal performances are impressive. I was particularly struck by “Calling Card,” with Gallagher, notoriously critical of his own abilities, sounding both relaxed and confident. While there’s plenty of “flashy” guitar punctuating the track, the piano and Gallagher’s weathered voice make it special.

Clocking in at twenty generous tracks, you get to hear Gallagher cover a lot of stylistic ground in-depth. There’s a nice run of acoustic songs, which make you feel like you’re hearing Gallagher in a pub. “Barley and Grape Rag,” just Gallagher and his acoustic guitar, sounds like Gallagher is performing across the room from you, a tribute to his ability to convey intimacy, and to the quality of the recording. “Too Much Alcohol,” the J. B. Hutto tune Gallagher tackled with a full band on Irish Tour ’74 is performed here as a Delta blues.

Gallagher also hits some surprisingly glam notes that I wasn’t expecting. “I Take What I Want,” a Sam and Dave soul cover, sounds like Sweet in Gallagher’s energized hands. “Walk on Hot Coals” has a similar power, with an abandon that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on a Led Zeppelin track. And here too, you have to be impressed with Gallagher’s vocals, which have a sexy smokiness. The joke is that European rock singers try to sound American and American singers try to sound British, but Gallagher, across the entire album, does a beautiful job of sounding like his true Irish self, but organically channeled through the American south.

As someone who doesn’t pay for the music being reviewed, I feel funny criticizing the length of an album, but at 20 tracks there’s a lot to process here. “Bullfrog Blues,” a fun tune with some vintagely wild Gallaher slide, clocks in at almost 10 minutes, largely because Gallagher introduces the band during the performance. It’s cute the first time, but as you might expect, the same introduction loses its charm over repeated listenings. It hardly detracts from what is a very strong album, but it would also be nice if labels understood that the things that make a one-time live show work don’t translate across the board for live albums.
by Steven Ovadia,  March 2, 2020

Disc 1
1. Do You Read Me - 5:51
2. Moonchild - 5:49
3. Bought And Sold - 7:27
4. Calling Card - 6:46
5. Secret Agent - 6:37
6. Tattoo'd Lady - 6:27
7. A Million Miles Away - 7:13
8. I Take What I Want (David Porter, Isaac Hayes, Mabon "Teenie" Hodges) - 5:50
9. Walk On Hot Coals - 7:58
All songs by Rory Gallagher except where stated

Disc 2
1. Out On The Western Plain (Huddie Ledbetter) - 4:44
2. Barley And Grape Rag - 2:37
3. Pistol Slapper Blues (Fulton Allen) - 2:42
4. Too Much Alcohol (J.B. Hutto) - 4:20
5. Going To My Hometown - 5:34
6. Edged In Blue - 5:56
7. Jack-Knife Beat - 8:47
8. Souped-Up Ford - 6:22
9. Bullfrog Blues (Traditional) - 9:51
10.Used To Be - 4:42
11.Country Mile - 5:49
All songs by Rory Gallagher except where noted

*Rory Gallagher - Vocals, Guitars, Mandolin
*Gerry McAvoy - Bass 
*Lou Martin - Piano, Guitar 
*Rod De'Ath - Drums, Percussion

1971  Rory Gallagher (Japan Mini Lp replica)
1971  Deuce (Japan Mini Lp replica)
1972  Live In Europe (2018 remaster)
1973  Blueprint (Japan Mini Lp replica)
1973  Tattoo (2012 promo copy)
1974  Irish Tour (2018 remaster)
1975  Against The Grain (2018 remaster)

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Siegel Schwall Band - R.I.P. Siegel Schwall (1974 us, essential blues rock, 2018 reissue)

R.I.P. Siegel/Schwall was the band’s swansong, of sorts. The Siegel-Schwall Band had broken up in February 1974, around the time of the release of Live: The Last Summer, but Wooden Nickel asked them to come up with one more studio album. The fittingly-titled R.I.P. Siegel/Schwall was released later that year; a collection of cover songs by the band’s favorite artists, the eclectic track list runs the gamut from John Prine and Little Richard to Little Walter, Muddy Waters and, of course, Jimmy Reed. Prine’s “Pretty Good” is bluesed-up pretty good with melodic harp-play that emphasizes the lyrics while Nappy Brown’s “Night Time Is The Right Time” offers red-hot rhythm and blues in a mighty fine performance.

After a decade on the road together, the band members decided that it was time to pursue other musical opportunities. R.I.P. Siegel/Schwall would be their last album for fourteen years; The Siegel-Schwall Reunion Concert, with the legendary Sam Lay taking over on drums, was released by Alligator Records in 1988. The band would also release a studio album of new songs titled Flash Forward on Alligator in 2005, and they’ve toured together as recently as 2014. The Siegel-Schwall Band may not receive the respect heaped upon similar blues-rock trailblazers, but their influence continues to resound with contemporary artists.

Nashville-based blues guitarist Mark Robinson grew up in Indiana, where he witnessed the Siegel-Schwall Band perform live. “I loved the power of Muddy and Howling Wolf, but I also loved the energy of Butterfield and Siegel-Schwall,” he remembers. “I felt that I might someday be able to play blues after hearing these younger guys doing it so well.” Robinson agrees that although the band “is not as well-known and not as influential as their contemporaries…their records were great and their performances were really strong. Elements of country-blues and jazz were more evident in their recordings than most of the other Chicago blues artists.” In the end, Robinson concludes, “I think their influence in Chicago and in the Midwest was considerable.” 
by Rev. Keith A. Gordon, January 4, 2019

1. Take Out Some Insurance (Charles Singleton, Wadense Hall) – 3:19
2. Pretty Good (John Prine) – 2:53
3. (I) Can't Believe You Wanna Leave (Leo Price, Richard Penniman) – 2:54
4. Wild About My Lovin' (Traditional) – 4:07
5. Night Time's The Right Time (Nappy Brown, Ozzie Cadena, Lew Herman) – 4:52
6. I'm A Hog For You Baby (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) – 4:38
7. Tell Me Mama (Walter Jacobs) – 1:52
8. You Don't Have To Go (Jimmy Reed) – 3:31
9. Long Distance Call (McKinley Morganfield) – 4:51
10.It's Too Short (W. R. Calaway, Clarence Williams) – 2:46
11.Women Make A Fool Out Of Me (Johnny Bond) – 3:20

The Siegel-Schwall Band
*Corky Siegel – Piano, Harmonica, Vocals
*Jim Schwall – Guitar, Mandolin, Vocals
*Rollo Radford – Bass, Vocals
*Shelly Plotkin – Drums, Percussion

1972  Sleepy Hollow
1973  953 West
1974  R.I.P. Siegel-Schwall (Vinyl issue)

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Michael Bloomfield - If You Love These Blues Play'em As You Please (1976 us, legendary electric acoustic traditional blues, 2004 reissue)

On 15 February 1981, the blues guitar legend was found dead from a drugs overdose, slumped in his car in a side street in San Francisco. 

During the 1960s, his guitar playing had ignited "live" performances and recordings by Bob Dylan, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and The Electric Flag, among others. He had also provided much of the focus for the Super Session and Live Adventures projects on which he shared joint headline credit with Al Kooper. 

Personal problems, and unease with the formulaic approach that success often demands, dogged many of his later recordings and diminished in many people's eyes the great contribution he had, undoubtedly, made to the electric guitar sound of the 60s. 

“If You Love These Blues, Play 'Em As You Please” is a timely reminder of what a consummate musician he was. 22 tracks of this CD were recorded in 1976 and released originally with the same album title on Guitar Player/Takoma 3002. The remaining nine tracks come from the Norman Dayron recorded session featuring Bloomfield with guitarist Woody Harris and were originally released on Kicking Mule KM 164. 

The 1976 sides were conceived by Bloomfield as a way of repaying the debt he felt he owed to his musical influences, the many black blues and white hillbilly performers from whom he had learned so much. Consequently, the musical performances range across a breadth of styles and are linked by simple narratives recited by Bloomfield himself. Rather than being something that wears thin with repetition, these link narratives are a rare opportunity to hear the man himself, talking about the music he loved best. 

Recorded in a relaxed atmosphere in the dark San Francisco basement studio of David Blossom, the sessions obviously took Bloomfield back to the dark Chicago clubs that he had enjoyed so much in his youth and missed badly in the era of the stadium concert. His singing is warm and unforced and works well with his stunning guitar playing and the laid-back support from such musical friends as singer/guitarist Nick Gravenites, organist Ira Kamin, bassist Doug Kilmer, drummers Tom Donlinger and Dave Neditch plus the occasional added horns of Ron Stallings and Hart McNee. 

For the session three years later with Woody Harris, the emphasis shifts from the secular to the sacred. All the tunes are gospel songs and the warm collaboration between the two guitarists is a joy. With the aid of studio overdubbing, Bloomfield plays both electric slide and acoustic guitars on the closing Peace In The Valley and both guitars, piano, organ, bass and drums on The Altar Song. Especially fine is Bloomfield's stinging, distorted electric guitar on Gonna Need Somebody On My Bond and Just A Closer Walk With Thee, both beautifully underpinned by Harris's acoustic guitar chords and picking.
by John Crosby

1. If You Love These Blues (Michael Bloomfield) - 1:10
2. Hey, Foreman (Michael Bloomfield) - 2:53
3. Narrative #1 - 0:35
4. Wdia (Michael Bloomfield) - 4:11
5. Narrative #2 - 0:10
6. Death Cell Rounder Blues (Michael Bloomfield) - 3:46
7. Narrative #3 - 0:05
8. City Girl (Michael Bloomfield) - 4:35
9. Narrative #4 - 0:19
10.Kansas City Blues (Jim Jackson) - 3:28
11.Narrative #5 - 0:15
12.Mama Lion (Nick Gravenites) - 4:05
13.Narrative #6 - 0:09
14.Thrift Shop Rag (Michael Bloomfield) - 2:00
15.Narrative #7 - 0:14
16.Death In My Family (Michael Bloomfield) - 4:12
17.East Colorado Blues (Stefan Grossman) - 1:34
18.Blue Ghost Blues (Lonnie Johnson) - 2:18
19.Narrative #8 - 0:24
20.The Train Is Gone (Michael Bloomfield) - 3:23
21.Narrative #9 - 0:06
22.The Altar Song (Traditional) - 2:25
23.I'll Overcome (Traditional) - 4:00
24.I Must See Jesus (Traditional) - 4:38
25.Great Dreams From Heaven (Traditional) - 2:54
26.Gonna Need Somebody On My Bond (Traditional) - 4:23
27.I Am A Pligrim (Traditional) - 2:43
28.Just A Closer Walk With Thee (Traditional) - 3:09
29.Have Thine Own Way (Traditional) - 2:23
30.Farther Along (Traditional) - 2:35
31.Peace In The Valley (Traditional) - 5:03

*Michael Bloomfield - Electric, Acoustic, Slide Guitars, Bass, Piano, Vocals
*Doug Kilmer - Bass
*Tom Donlinger - Drums
*Ira Kamin - Organ, Piano
*Eric Kriss - Piano
*Hart McNee - Baritone Saxophone
*Ron Stallings - Tenor Saxophone
*Roger Troy - Bass
*Nick Gravenites - Guitar, Vocals
*David Neditch - Drums
*Woody Harris - Acoustic Guitar

1964  The Original Lost Elektra Sessions
1965  The Paul Butterfield Blues Band
1966  East West
1966  The Butterfield Blues Band - East-West (2014 Hybrid SACD limited adition) 
1966-68  Strawberry Jam
1967  Electric Flag - The Trip
1968  Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper, Steve Stills - The Super Sessions (2014 Hybrid Multichannel SACD 24/88) 
1968-69  Electric Flag - An American Music Band / A Long Time Comin'  
196?-7?  The Electric Flag - Live
1968  Al Kooper, Mike Bloomfield - The Lost Concert Tapes, Filmore East
1969  Mike Bloomfield And Al Kooper - The Live Adventures
1969  Michael Bloomfield with Nick Gravenites And Friends - Live At Bill Graham's Fillmore West
1969  Nick Gravenites - My Labors
1970-71  Big Brother And The Holding Company - Be A Brother / How Hard It Is 

Friday, January 22, 2021

Siegel Schwall Band - Live The Last Summer (1974 us, fine chicago blues, 2018 reissue )

Siegel–Schwall Band's ninth album, was recorded live in the summer of 1973 at the Brewery in Lansing, Michigan and at the Quiet Knight in Chicago, Illinois. They had a regular Tuesday night spot there. The Quiet Night has been gone for over 30 years now, but the memory lives on in this recording. The Siegel-Schwall Band was an American electric blues band from Chicago, Illinois. 

The band was formed in 1964 by Corky Siegel (harmonica and piano) and Jim Schwall (guitar). Corky and Jim met each other when both were music students at Roosevelt University. Corky was originally a saxophonist interested in blues and Jim's background was mostly in country music. They combined these two genres producing a lighter sounding blues. 

1. Rock Me Baby (B.B. King, Joe Josea) - 5:31
2. You Don't Love Me Like That (Jim Schwall) - 3:47
3. I Won't Hold My Breath (Corky Siegel) - 4:25
4. Sun Is Shining (Jimmy Reed) - 6:13
5. Let's Boogie (Ken Goerres) - 0:08
6. Hey, Billie Jean (Jim Post, Corky Siegel) - 7:29
7. West Coast Blues (Jim Schwall) - 5:28
8. Out-A-Gas? (Corky Siegel) - 7:12

The Siegel Schwall Band
*Corky Siegel - Piano, Harmonica, Vocals
*Jim Schwall - Guitar, Vocals
*Rollo Radford - Bass, Vocals
*Shelly Plotkin - Drums, Percussion

1972  Sleepy Hollow
1973  953 West
1974  R.I.P. Siegel-Schwall (Vinyl issue)

Monday, January 18, 2021

The Outsiders - The Outsiders (1966-67 holland, excellent punkadelic, 2018 japan double disc remaster)

The Amsterdam-based combo were one of the most popular homegrown bands in the Netherlands from 1965 to 1967, and have since become a favorite among historians of the beat music era; Richie Unterberger wrote that The Outsiders "could issue a serious claim for consideration as the finest rock band of the '60s to hail from a non-English-speaking nation," and Richard Mason penned an essay on the group calling them "the most underrated band ever." 

The Outsiders were formed in 1964 by Wally Tax (vocals and rhythm guitar), Ronald Splinter (lead guitar), Appie Rammers (bass), and Lendert "Buzz" Busch (drums); the band embraced an eclectic style that made room for R&B, folk-rock, pop, and beat influences, as well as psychedelic accents as the decade wore on. After earning a reputation as a powerful live act (and adding additional guitarist Tom Krabbendam), The Outsiders made their recoding debut in 1965 with "You Mistreat Me" b/w "Sun's Going Down," which was released by the Muziek Express label. Both songs were originals, and The Outsiders were unusual among beat groups of the era in that they never recorded cover tunes. 

As the band's reputation as a striking live act grew (their show was frantic enough to get them banned from several major venues), The Outsiders found themselves opening for many leading U.K. beat groups touring the Netherlands, including the Pretty Things and the Rolling Stones, and after releasing a second single for Muziek Express, they signed a deal with Relax Records. After a handful of singles and an EP, they released their first full-length album in 1967, simply called The Outsiders, which featured one side of studio recordings and another taken from live performances. That same year, the single "Summer Is Here" b/w "Teach Me to Forget You" went Top Ten in the Netherlands, and a second album that compiled the group's single sides was issued. In 1968, Tom Krabbendam and Appie Rammers left the group; Frank Beek was recruited to play bass and keyboards, and the band opted not to replace Krabbendam. 

The same year, Relax Records was absorbed by Polydor, who released the third Outsiders album, CQ. Named for an amateur radio term meaning "Is anyone listening?," CQ was an ambitious set that combined the band's beat music influences with outré psychedelia and avant-garde sounds that were far ahead of the curve for the era. However, Polydor failed to promote the album properly -- the initial pressing was reportedly a mere 500 copies -- and The Outsiders disbanded in 1969. Ronnie Splinter dropped out of the music business, while Wally Tax and Lendert Busch started a new band, Tax Free. The Outsiders staged a successful reunion tour in 1997, but the group's story came to a permanent close with the death of Wally Tax in 2005. 
by Mark Deming

Disc 1
1. Story 16 - 6:39
2. Tears Are Falling From My Eyes - 3:36
3. Ain't Gonna Miss You - 2:11
4. I Wish I Could - 4:10
5. Afraid Of The Dark - 3:25
6. Teach Me To Forget You - 3:15
7. Filthy Rich - 2:42
8. I Would Love You - 2:50
9. Don't You Cry - 2:23
10.Won't You Listen - 2:51
11.If You Don't Treat Me Right - 2:13
All songs by Ronnie Splinter, Wally Tax

Disc 2
1. You Mistreat Me - 2:00
2. Sun’s Going Down - 2:41
3. Felt Like I Wanna To Cry - 2:46
4. I Love Her Still, I Always Will - 3:26
5. Thinking About Today - 2:46
6. Lying All The Time - 3:14
7. Keep On Trying - 2:57
8. That’s Your Problem - 2:37
9. Touch - 3:13
10.The Ballad Of John B - 5:58
11.Monkey On Your Back - 3:43
12.What’s Wrong With You - 3:19
13.Summer Is Here - 3:26
14.I’ve Been Loving You So Long - 3:15
15.I’m Only Trying To Prove To Myself That I’m Not Like Everybody Else - 2:32
16 Don’t You Worry About Me - 3:26
17.Bird In A Cage - 3:03
All songs by Ronnie Splinter, Wally Tax

The Outsiders
*Wally Tax - Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica 
*Ronnie Splinter - Lead, 12String Guitars, Bass, Vocals
*Appie Rammers - Bass 
*Tom Krabbendam - Guitar
*Leendert "Buzz" Busch - Drums 

1965-69  The Outsiders - Strange Things Are Happening The Complete Singles 

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Toe Fat - BBC Sessions (1969-70 uk, splendid hard bluesy rock, 2013 release)

Toe Fat - the improbable teaming of a slick, classy, 60's Soulster and three-quarters of an obscure Psychedelic/Blues outfit from the sticks - are one of those bands who invariably turn up in the middle of one of Pete Frame's Family Trees, the soile raison d'etre for their existence apparently being to act as the link between various seemingly disparate music and and groups. In Toe's case they provide the unlikely point of reference between Uriah Heep and Jethro Tull at one end of the spectrum, Cliff Bennett & the Rebel Rousers somewhere near the center, and the Bee Gees and Chas & Dave at the other. And yet although they were highly regarded, their albums critically well-received, and they'd begun to make a significant commercial impact in the United States, the band was abruptly terminated when their American management pulled the financial rug from under them following a stock flotation. 

Consequently, Toe Fat have rather been consigned to the ranks rather more for their album sleeve artwork and the subsequent career paths of their members than for anything they achieved under their own steam. Furthermore, despite their relatively short life-span (although they cut two albums they were together little more than a year) their history is both convoluted and confusing, a 50% turnover in personnel allied to a curious staffing credit on their album sleeves having led to mucho conjecture as to exactly who did actually play in the band. And yet - as this CD readily confirms - with just a little kinder shake of the dice they could so easily have evolved into one of that elite half-dozen or so English bands who carved out spectacularly successful American careers, far outstripping their popularity back home in dear ol' Blighty.

Now, way back in the late sixties, as Rock music got bluesier, heavier, and more self-conscious, a great many working muse's adapted to the changing musical and social climate simply by growing their hair, sprouting bushy sidebeards and droopy moustaches (the full beard was optional), widening their flares, dressing down, and going back to playing much the same stuff they'd been playing five years earlier - but several megawatts louder (and frequently with longer, considerably more self-indulgent solos). And Cliff Bennett was pretty much a case-in-point: following his split with the Rebel Rousers in the Summer of 1968 he grew his barnet, cultivated the regulation mutton-chops, underwent sartorial refit, and duly went Heavy. He recruited Billy J. Kramer's former backing group The Dakotas - by that time down to a trio, comprising former Pirates Mick Green (gtr) & Frank "All By Myself" Farley (drums), together with original member Robin McDonald (bass) - and added a four-piece brass section: billed as the Cliff Bennett Band, they subsequently set about trying to become London's equivalent of Blood, Sweat & Tears.

Bennett surely needs no introduction: but briefly, he'd formed the first line-up of the Rebel Rousers in the West Drayton/Hayes area way back in 1958 - they took their name from Duane Eddy's hit - with a sound, style, and repertoire based firmly on roots R&R. However, during the 60's they had evolved into a powerful R&B-flavoured Soul outfit and become one of the most in-demand bands on the live circuit, far more popular than their meager three entries in the Guinness Book Of Hit Singles would suggest. Bennett and his Rebels eventually parted company in less than wholly amicable circumstances: he wanted to get into rather more contemporary material - specifically, to move in the same direction as Blood, Sweat & Tears - whereas his band preferred to stick to their tried-and-tested good-time formula. Hence the (inevitable) split. The lads stayed together, initially as the Roy Young Band, eventually shedding half their members and evolving into Black Claw. Finally, in 1973, they slimmed down further and became Chas & Dave.

Meanwhile, the Cliff Bennett Band were struggling to get the right balance. The brass section had been jettisoned fairly early on, and then Green and McDonald had quit in March '69 to take rather more lucrative positions in Englebert Humperdink's Las Vegas-based backing band. They were replaced by Ken Hensley (formerly with The Gods) and a bassist no-one quite remembers, but is believed to have been Paul Bass. The multi-talented Hensley had indeed proven to be a real find: although he'd joined simply as a guitarist, he was a powerful frontline singer in his own right, equally adept on both keyboards and guitar, and a songwriter of enormous potential. 

This revised line-up had really begun to gel, both live and as a recording unit. They cut one single for Parlophone, "Memphis Street"/"But I'm Wrong" (R5792), but had broken up by the time of its release, grinding to a sudden and rather ignominious halt in June '69 following an accident during the course of which a long-forgotten keyboards player rolled the band's van, which duly burned out. All their gear - which was uninsured, unfortunately - perished with said van, and in the absence of a record or management deal drummer Farley was ultimately forced to quit life on the road in order to take a proper day job. However, Bennett & Hensley elected to stick together and try to form a new band - and eventually, following a couple of false-starts elsewhere, they decided to recruit a pair of the latter's former colleagues, viz: the Gods' rhythm section of John Glasscock (bass) and Lee Kerslake (drums).

The Hensley/Glasscock/Kerslake axis were in fact quite an experienced unit, having (along with guitarist Joe Konas) just cut two albums for EMI - and furthermore, the Gods had a messy, rather convoluted history themselves. They'd originally formed in Hatfield in '65 when Hensley (kbds/voc) and the preciously gifted 17-year old Mick Taylor (gtr) had teamed up with the Glasscock brothers, John & Brian, on bass and drums respectively. 

This first line-up lasted a couple of years, but had drifted apart in June '67 when Taylor was lured away to join his hero John Mayall. Hensley - by now based in Hampshire - reformed the band later in the year with new members, who at various junctures included Konas (gtr), bassists Paul Newton (later in Spice and Uriah Heep), Greg Lake (ditto King Crimson, Emerson Lake & Palmer, etc.) & Glasscock, and Kerslake (drums) - but they were never really a stable unit. Nonetheless, in the Summer of '68 they secured a deal with EMI and cut the superb "Genesis" (Columbia SCX 6286), an album which stacks up surprisingly well to this day. However, although a prolific studio band, cutting a trio of singles and a second album "To Samuel A Son" (SCX 6372) - which eventually came out in February '70, many months after they'd ceased trading - the cracks were already showing, and they were destined to break up again within just a few months. Which is roughly where Bennett came in.

In retrospect, it seems clear that the death throes of the Gods and the birth pangs of Toe Fat must have overlapped considerably, as the former were very much an operational recording band - indeed, they were still in the process of cutting their second album - long after Hensley had "left" in March '69 and they'd begun working with Bennett sometime later that Summer. But whatever the circumstances, EMI house producer Jonathan Peel (no, not the deejay) seems to have been the catalyst in their finally getting together, and so eventually, with their new line-up in place - i.e. Bennett (voc/piano), Hensley (gtr/kbds/voc), Glasscock (bass/voc), and Kerslake (drums) - they were up and running.

Having decided on a major realignment in musical direction - based largely on the new bluesier material which Hensley was writing - and realizing that a more "progressive" moniker was required to go with their new, heavier style, someone came up with TOE FAT. Bennett seems to recall that he and co-manager John Gunnell dreamed it up over dinner one night (apparently, it was the most disgusting name they could think of!) Initially, their live appearances were rather low-key affairs as Bennett's identity was still being kept pretty much under wraps: however, they set out on the UK colleges, pubs and clubs' circuits where they duly broke in their new material, on the back of which they scored an American record deal with Rare Earth, Motown's white/Rock-oriented label. 
by Robert M. Corich,  
additional information by Roger Dopson 
thanks to Cliff Bennett, Frank Farley and Pete Frame  

1. Born To Be Wild (Mars Bonfire) - 3:23
2. Interview With Cliff Bennett - 1:01
3. Memphis Street (Neil Diamond) - 3:03
4. Im Yours And Im Hers (Johnny Winter) - 2:57
5. That's My Love For You (Cliff Bennett, Frank Allen, M. Roberts) - 3:53
6. Bad Side Of The Moon (Elton John, Bernie Taupin) - 3:28
7. I Done Told You (Jimmy Witherspoon) - 5:01
8. Turns Out Like The Rest (Cliff Bennett, Alan Kendall) - 2:16
9. Idol (Alan Kendall) - 3:26
10.Gone (Cliff Bennett, Alan Kendall) - 3:14
11.Three Times (Alan Kendall, Cliff Bennett) - 4:00
12.Midnight Sun (Alan Kendall, Cliff Bennett) - 3:21
13.A New Way (Alan Kendall, Cliff Bennett) - 9:05
14.We'll Be Travellin On (Alan Kendall, Cliff Bennett) - 6:10
15.I Love Everybody (Johnny Winter) - 4:03
16.There Will Be Changes (Alan Kendall, Cliff Bennett) - 6:40
17.Midnight Sun (Alan Kendall, Cliff Bennett) - 7:37
18.Come On Down To My Boat Baby (A-Side) (Jerry Goldstein, Wes Farrell) - 2:46
19.Garage Man (B-Side) (Ken Hensley) - 2:29
Tracks 1-4 recorded on 23rd July 1969
Tracks 5-8 recorded on 19th February 1970
Tracks 9-10 recorded on 14th April 1970
Tracks 11-13 recorded on 6th October 1970
Tracks 14-17 recorded live in Port Chester, NY on 5th December 1970 
Tracks 18-19 as The Gods

Toe Fat
*Ken Hensley - Guitar, Organ, Piano, Vocals
*Cliff Bennett - Lead Vocals, Piano
*Alan Kendall - Guitar (Tracks 5-17) 
*Lee Kerslake - Drums, Vocals (Tracks 1-10)
*John Konas - Bass, Vocals (Tracks 5-17) 
*Brian Glascock - Drums (Tracks 11-17) 
*John Glascock - Bass (Tracks 5-17)

The Gods
*Gregg Lake - Vocals, Bass
*John Konas - Guitar
*Lee Kerslake - Drums
*Ken Hensley - Guitar, Organ, Vocals

Related Acts
1968  The Gods - Genesis (2009 japan extra tracks remaster)
1969  The Gods - To Samuel A Son (2009 japan bonus track remaster)
1970  Head Machine - Orgasm (2006 digipak edition)
1971  National Head Band - Albert One (2008 remaster) 
1973  Ken Hensley - Proud Words On A Dusty Shelf (2010 remaster)

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Dan Penn - Nobody's Fool (1973 us, essential country soul funk, 2016 japan remaster)

Nobody’s Fool was recorded by Penn for Bell Records in 1973, and remained his only solo album for more than two decades.  Penn, the co-author of such unquestioned classics as “The Dark End of the Street,” “Do Right Man, Do Right Woman,” “I’m Your Puppet,” and “Cry Like a Baby,” has a soft, reedy drawl of a voice that he deploys to soulful effect on tracks like the opening anthem and title song, “Nobody’s Fool.”  The track introduces Mike Utley’s warm keyboards, John Huey’s steel guitar, and the combined Nashville Horns and Strings.  (Renowned arranger Bergen White, no slouch in the songwriting department himself, handled the strings and Nashville Horns, while Wayne Jackson and Andrew Love wrote the charts for The Memphis Horns heard on later tracks.)  

Though the personnel shifts from track to track, the feel remains consistent as it blends deep soul and country with commercial pop gloss (strings, background vocals, etc.) circa 1973.  One could easily hear Elvis Presley singing these songs, though Penn acquits himself well.  Alex Chilton, lead singer of The Box Tops and later Big Star, actually did cover the loner’s anthem “Nobody’s Fool” nearly fifteen years later.

“Raining in Memphis,” co-written with Mic Lietz and Penn’s greatest collaborator, Spooner Oldham, has one of the album’s most potent melodies, with a catchy chorus and atmospheric verses.  It could also have been a major hit for The King or another blue-eyed soul great like Bill Medley.  But Penn’s laid-back growl is appealing on this tuneful slice of R&B, even if the N’awlins brass and varied arrangement threatens to overwhelm the delicacy of the song.  The Penn/Oldham team also supplied “Ain’t No Love,” allowing the singer to cut loose with a fiery performance.

“Tearjoint,” a co-write with veteran session keyboardist Donnie Fritts, is pure twangy country-and-western.  Penn and Tommy Richards share guitar duties, while Leo LaBlanc adds the requisite steel touch.  “I Hate You,” authored by Penn and Leroy Daniels, is similarly in the classic country vein of tears and heartbreak, and features the great session players David Hood and Roger Hawkins on drums and bass, respectively.

The master songwriter obviously thought enough of John Fogerty’s “Lodi” to make it the only cover selection on the album, and his down-home treatment is far-removed from Creedence Clearwater Revival’s swamp-rock original.  With Spooner Oldham’s graceful keys as fine support, Penn digs into the lyric with rough-hewn passion.  He also brings fire to the closing trilogy of songs, the socially conscious mini-suite of “Prayer for Peace,” “If Love Was Money,” and the spoken-word-over-instrumental “Skin.” The affecting “Peace” is one of the many tracks to feature background vocals by Mary and Ginger Holiday, has a gospel flavor and even a spoken “sermon” from the good Rev. Penn.  “If Love Was Money” is another shoulda-been-a-hit track, with its propulsive rhythm, big chorus, and brassy orchestration.  

The album finale “Skin” melds a mawkish if heartfelt rumination on race over a grand string composition and what sounds like backwards music.  It makes for an unexpected conclusion to a low-key, enjoyable album from the moonlighting songwriter.  While Penn’s vocals are sometimes lost in the album’s very-separated stereo mix, his voice as a composer and lyricist always comes through loud and clear.

Analog Spark’s reissue is housed in a single-pocket gatefold digipak, and sound is up to the label’s usual high standards.  There are no new liner notes nor are any bonus tracks present.  Dan Penn released one other single for Bell Records, “Stony” b/w “Blind Leading the Blind,” which might have made for a nice addition to this fine reissue.  (Interestingly, “Nobody’s Fool,” “Prayer for Peace” and “If Love Was Money” were issued on Dunhill’s Happy Tiger subsidiary prior to the Bell album, along with the non-LP track “Buckaroo Bill.”)  Nobody’s Fool would be worthy alone for the title track, “Raining in Memphis” and “If Love Was Money,” all of which can stand tall with Penn’s finest compositions.  In its entirety, the album is a fascinating lost statement from an underappreciated talent.  This under-the-radar reissue is one that connoisseurs of deep soul and lost pop shouldn’t miss.
by Joe Marchese, January 26, 2017

Dan Penn is one of the great songwriters. His work and his life are what legends are made of, and so is this recording. Penn wrote or co-wrote such ’60s classics as “Dark End Of The Street”, “Do Right Woman” and “I’m Your Puppet”; Nobody’s Fool, released in 1972, was his first solo record. His voice and demo recordings had been spoken about with great reverence, and he had written hits, so Bell records might have expected such a record from him. The sad truth was that it wasn’t very successful saleswise and didn’t stay in print very long.

Penn’s 1994 release on Sire Records, Do Right Man, covered the famous bases. It was a reminder and a testament to his talents and ability. That was a fine and necessary work, but Nobody’s Fool is even more interesting because it doesn’t rely on the tried and true. On this record, he stings hard with what he does best and still finds time, by the end, to walk out on the limb a bit.

Penn had a hand in writing all the material here, with the exception of John Fogerty’s “Lodi”. Penn’s reading of the Creedence classic is a natural; his incredibly soulful voice and a great arrangement make this an ideal cover choice. The title track, which opens the disc, is a loner’s anthem that sounds like a standard the first time your hear it. The great country-soul of “I Hate You” is also a stunner, with Penn’s warm voice lamenting in the first degree.

One of the mysteries of this record is why “If Love Was Money” wasn’t a massive hit. At the time this record was released, radio was eating this kind of thing up. A song that catches you big-time from the first note, it’s 3:22 long, which is about right for most great singles, but it’s never enough; it demands to be played again.

A couple of slightly self-indulgent forays in to the social concerns of the day make the end of the record seem a little overblown, but they don’t diminish the high worthiness of this work. This is an essential recording by an essential artist. They just don’t make records like this anymore, and it’s a shame.

1. Nobody's Fool (Bobby Emmons, Dan Penn) - 2:52
2. Raining In Memphis (Dan Penn, Mic Lietz, Spooner Oldham) - 3:43
3. Tearjoint (Dan Penn, Donnie Fritts) - 2:55
4. Time (Dan Penn) - 2:22
5. Lodi (John Fogerty) - 3:17
6. Ain't No Love (Dan Penn, Spooner Oldham) - 3:36
7. I Hate You (Dan Penn, Leroy Daniels) - 2:26
8. Prayer For Peace (Bill Rennie, Dan Penn, Greg Reding) - 2:45
9. If Love Was Money (Bill Phillips, Dan Penn) - 3:32
10.Skin (Dan Penn) - 2:47

*Dan Penn - Vocals, Guitar
*Spooner Oldham - Organ
*Jay Spell - Piano, Keyboards
*David Hood - Bass
*Sammy Creason - Drums
*Bill Phillips - Organ
*Greg Reding - Organ
*Mike Utley - Keyboards, 
*Tommy Richard - Guitar
*Charlie Freeman - Guitar
*Jim Johnson - Bass 
*Tommy McClure - Bass
*Dulin Lancaster - Drums, Backing Vocals, Horns

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

White Duck - White Duck (1971 us, awesome swamp country rock, 2014 korean remaster)

A whole herd of various ducks and ducklings nested on the rock scene of the seventies. This one is the debut album of the American band White Duck, which consisted of musicians who accompanied Jimmy Buffett's performances before starting their own band. Lanny Fiel also previously had experience with the Willie And The Red Rubber Band. The first self-titled album was recorded and mixed within two months at Creative Workshop under the direction of Buzz Cason ... A kind of lively psycho-folk-country rock.

Based on the fantasy album cover, to be honest, 'Billy Goat' was nothing like what I expected.  Built on a funky little riff and showcasing Kloetzke's rugged, blue-eyed soul vocals, the tune sounded like something a Memphis band like Big Star might have recorded.  Icing on the cake came in the form of Lanny Fiel's slide guitar.  'World (Keep On Turnin')' revealed itself as a sweet acoustic ballad.  The tune showcased Kloetzke's glistening twelve string guitar and the band's impressive hamronies, with Tabet's percussion adding a subtle Celtic edge.

Opening up with some lovely piano, 'Lonely' caught me totally off guard.  In fact, for a second I wondered if I'd mistakenly slapped on a Beatles album.  Penned by Kloetzke, the song was a beautiful keyboard powered ballad with vocals that bore an uncanny resemblance to McCartney.  It wasn't just the vocals - the entire song seemed to project a Fab Four vibe.  Always loved Friedel's melodic bass work on this one.  Possibly one of the best Beatles songs they never wrote. What started out as an attractive, but pedestrian pop tune turned out to be one of the album highlights.  Of course you had to wait until "Black-Eyed Susan" was half over which is when Lanny and Rick kicked in with their lysergic tinged  backwards guitar solos.

Another song that opened up with some attractive Kloetzke piano, 'Really' may have been the album's most original and commercial track.  The song had a wonderful melody (with a great bass line) and some gorgeous harmony vocals. The title and the opening sound collage left me thinking this was going to be a throwaway.  Instead, this was another slice of McCartney-the-rocker influenced hard rock.  Built on a tasty little guitar riff, this one would have made George Harrison proud. 

With driving lead guitar and a strong Kloetzke vocal 'No Time' got an A+ in the folk-rock awards.  Their backing vocals were truly impressive, making you wish this one had stretched on longer. The rocker 'I Never Wanna Go' found the band returning to a Memphis garage-rock feel.  With an insidiously catchy riff, this one as simply awesome and another track that faded out too early.

Until his death in 2009, Lanny Field remain active in music. Friedel returned to Wisconsin.  At least for a time he appears to have been the Director of the non-profit Wisconsin School Music Association Inc.  The Association focuses on supporting Wisconsin music teachers. Kloetzke had actually started his career as an artist and returned to art after the band called it quits.  He's known for portraits of wildlife, Green Bay Packer fans, and World War II aircraft. Tabet relocated to Las Vegas where he played in various Casino house bands for the next 40 years,  He died of heart failure in June, 2015.

After the release of the first White Duck album front men/brothers Lanny and Rick Fiel left White Duck.  Bassist Mario Friedel, keyboard player Don Kloetzke and drummer Paul Tabet elected to continue the nameplate recruiting a young John Hiatt (then working as a Nashville-based songwriter).

1. Billy Goat (Don Kloetzke, Rick Fiel, Lanny Fiel) - 4:10
2. World (Keep On Turning) (Don Kloetzke, Lanny Fiel) - 2:43
3. No (Don Kloetzke, Mario Friedel) - 2:47
4. Lonely (Don Kloetzke) - 3:03
5. Black-Eyed Susan (Rick Fiel) - 2:24
6. Really (Lanny Fiel, Paul Tabet, Don Kloetzke, Mario Friedel, Rick Fiel) - 3:53
7. Don`t Mix With Politics (Don Kloetzke, Rick Fiel, Lanny Fiel) - 3:02
8. Anna Belle (Mario Friedel, Paul Wittenburger) - 2:33
9. No Time (Paul Tabet, Lanny Fiel) - 2:36
10.I Never Wanna Go (Lanny Fiel, Don Kloetzke) - 2:21

White Duck
*Lanny Fiel – Guitar, Horn, Vocals
*Rick Fiel – Guitars, Keyboards, Vocals
*Mario Friedel – Bass, Keyboards, Vocals
*Don Kloetzke – Keyboards, Vocals
*Skip Rogers – Vocals
*Paul Tabet – Drums, Vocals 

Friday, January 1, 2021

Willie And The Red Rubber Band - We're Comin' Up (1969 us, awesome r 'n' b garage psych, original Vinyl)

Texas band, lead by Willie Redden and released two albums in the late 60's. This is their second effort "We're Comin' Up" saw the light of the day in 1969. A really pleasant trip with roots n' roll and blues to psych sunshine pop, influenced by Ray Charles, Muddy Waters, Buddy Holly among the others.

Way down deep roots, bare feet on warm earth - warm spreading, comin' up filling the vessel, gotta come out, come up and sounding like the Blues. Roots down deep in the soil of West Texas, the Blues lives there, is the soil, the warm earth, endless sky. Tapping the roots is all, filling the vessel.

1. Show Me (Willie Redden) - 3:04
2. Last Letter From Mary (Charles Addington) - 2:58
3. Deep Eyes Of Darkness (Smith, Rhodes, Willie Redden) - 2:55
4. L.A. T-H-E Man (Willie Redden) - 2:40
5. Try A New Day On (Willie Redden, Glen Ballard) - 2:4?
6. We're Comin' Up (Willie Redden) - 2:50
7. Watch Out Fool Self (Glen Ballard) - 2:47
8. San Luis Way - Back In '38 (Willie Redden) - 3:09
9. Everytime, And I Get Th' Blues (Willie Redden) - 3:28
10.Daddy, I Think I'm Going Blind (Willie Redden) - 2:28
11.Chicky-Chicky Boom Boom (Willie Redden, Charles Addington, Andrews Jr) - 2:10

Willie And The Red Rubber Band
*Willie Redden - Vocal, Guitar
*Glen Ballard - Guitar, Bass
*Charles Addington - Organ, Piano, Cello
*Conley Bradford - Drums
*Lanny Fiel - Guitar
*John Buck Wilken - Guitar
*Begie Chruser - Piano