In The Land Of FREE we still Keep on Rockin'

It's Not Dark Yet

Plain and Fancy

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


Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Atlanta Rhythm Section - Back Up Against The Wall (1973 us, splendid southern rock, 2018 japan SHM remaster)

The 11 songs on this album present a mix of up-tempo tunes and ballads-an approach that would become a cornerstone of the group's future success. The pace overall is slower and more restrained than where the group would go with future albums. But it is a beautiful timepiece of a group of talented musicians playing quality songs and working together to establish their collective sound. 

There's a mix of tempos, both between songs and within individual tunes, which the band would refine on future records. Two of the songs, the rocking Back Up Against the Wall and the reflective Conversation, would become staples of the band's live set. Eight original songs feature songwriter/producer Buddy Buie's writing in partnership with other members of the band, and three covers are highlighted by a version of Joe South's Redneck. 

The album starts off with “Wrong “ an acoustic, mid-tempo song with a country feel. The pace picks up with this rocking, up-tempo song about the "hot time" appeal of a small Southern town on “Cold Turkey Tenn”.

 “Will I Live On?” is a beautiful ballad features singer Ronnie Hammond's first breakout vocal performance articulating some eternal questions.  The tempo picks up and shifts repeatedly within “A Livin Lovin Wreck” that also includes harmonica and piano breaks.

Another slower paced song “Superman”, starts as ballad and shifts into blues. “What You Gonna Do About It?” a moderately paced tune musically mirrors the ups and downs of relationships.. “Conversation “ is classic ballad features Hammond's ponderings about a relationship gone bad over a subtle but beautiful musical background.

The opening harmonic wail on “Redneck“ leads into a punchy, up-tempo look at the particular qualities of a certain type of Southerner who receives his proper sendoff. A slower paced song “Make Me Believe It “ that ebbs and flows while examining the search for love.

The title song “Back Up Against The Wall “ is the high point of the album. It's a loping rocker that shows off the band's musical chops and reaches a new level of group energy. The closer “It Must Be Love” is a slower, bluesy song that drives the album home and lets the guitars break out for a glimpse of things to come.

1. Wrong (Buddy Buie, James B. Cobb Jr.) - 2:43
2. Cold Turkey, Tenn. (Robert Nix) - 3:17
3. Will I Live On? (Robert Nix, Dean Daughtry) - 2:52
4. A Livin' Lovin' Wreck (Otis Blackwell) - 3:07
5. Superman (Randall Bramblett) - 3:22
6. What You Gonna Do About It? (Ronnie Hammond) - 2:59
7. Conversation (Buddy Buie, James B. Cobb Jr.) - 3:28
8. Redneck (Joe South) - 3:48
9. Make Me Believe It (Buddy Buie, Robert Nix, Ronnie Hammond) - 3:13
10.Back Up Against The Wall (Buddy Buie, James B. Cobb Jr.) - 3:23
11 It Must Be Love (Robert Nix, Dean Daughtry, James B. Cobb Jr.) - 4:06

Atlanta Rhythm Section
*Ronnie Hammond - Vocals, Background Vocals
*Barry Bailey - Guitar
*Dean Daughtry - Keyboards
*J.R. Cobb - Guitar, Background Vocals
*Paul Goddard - Bass
*Robert Nix - Percussion, Drums, Background Vocals 
*Al Kooper - Synthesizer, ARP
*Billy Lee Riley - Harmonica

1975-76 Atlanta Rhythm Section - Dog Days / Red Tape (2005 remaster) 

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Crystal Syphon - Family Evil / Elephant Ball (1967-69 us, inpressive garage psych rock, 2021 double disc remaster and expanded)

Here, after over 50 years, is the total recorded output of Crystal Syphon. It is the amalgam of the talents and tastes of six musicians, friends and brothers from the little town of Merced, California. On almost every weekend, dances were held atone of Merced's four musical venues: The American Legion Hall, the Italo-American hall, the Women's Clubhouse, or the Merced Fairgrounds. Crystal Syphon was formed in 1965 by a group of musicians from Merced High School. Originally known as the Morlouchs, the founding members were Jeff Sanders on vocals, his brother Jim Sanderson rhythm guitar and vocals, Tom Salles on lead guitar and vocals, Dave Sprinkel on keyboards and vocals, Roger Henry on bass and Andy Daniel on drums.The band was very much influenced by the sounds of The Beatles and The Byrds, and is evidenced in their ability to do very difficult four part harmonies.

The group played many local area gigs, including Battle Of The Bands, but under the management of Jeff and his older brother Bob, the band began to pursue writing their own music. The band pooled ail their earnings for both equipment and recording sessions, and this practice continued the entire time the band was together. In May of 1966, Roger left the band and was replaced by Bob Greenlee on bass. In 1967, the band recorded Marcy, Your Eyes, Paradise, Have More Of Everything, and Try Something Different at Dick Terzian's studio in Fresno and were 3 track recordings; thus they were essential live with only some mild vocal or guitar overdubs. Other well known artists the band appeared with were Bo Diddley, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Youngbloods, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Country Joe & The Fish, The Grateful Dead, Buffalo Springfield, Elvin Bishop, Lee Michaels and Santana.

Throughout the band's existence, the band shopped itself to various record labels. With the assistance of Bob Sanders and Richard Delong, who replaced Bob as the band's manager in 1967. Ultimately, the band had several offers to sign, but because they insisted on artistic freedom and complete ownership of their publishing, no agreement was ever reached with a label at the time.

In late 1968, Jim Sanders left the band and was soon followed by Dave Sprinkel. The four remaining members continued on as a four piece group, with Jeff Sanders taking over on keyboards. The band stayed together until late 1969, finally disbanding in early 1970. When Marvin Greenlee moved to Stockton to play in other bands, Tom, Bob and Jeff (now on drums) joined up with Merced guitarist John Fox to form Boogeyman, who recorded a 45 on a local Merced label. They played together for several more years, finally disbanding in 1973.
CD Liner Notes

Disc 1 Family Evil 1967-68
1. Marcy, Your Eyes - 3:36
2. Paradise - 3:09
3. Have More Of Everything - 5:25
4. Try Something Different - 3:42
5. Fuzzy And Jose - 7:30
6. Are You Dead Yet? - 2:46
7. In My Mind - 2:42
8. Family Evil - 5:37
9. Fails To Shine - 5:42
10.Winter Is Cold - 6:56
11.Winter Is Cold - 6:12
All songs by Crystal Syphon
Tracks 8-10 recorded live At The Fillmore West 1-21-68
Track 11 recorded 2008

Disc 2 Elephant Ball 1967-69
1. Dawn Sermon - 1:21
2. For All Of My Life - 3:12
3. Tell Her For Me - 3:29
4. Elephant Ball - 4:26
5. Sing To Me - 8:36
6. It's Winter - 3:23
7. Snow Falls - 5:16
8. Don't Fall Brother - 3:20
9. There Is Light There - 6:33
All compositions by Crystal Syphon

Crystal Syphon
*Tom Salles - Vocal, Guitar
*Jim Sanders - Vocal, Guitar (Disc 1 Tracks 1-11, Disc 2 Tracks 1-3)
*Jeff Sanders - Vocals, Organ, Percussion, Drums 
*Bob Greenlee - Bass 
*Dave Sprinkel- Vocals, Organ, Percussion (Disc 1 Tracks 1-3, 5-11,  Disc 2 Tracks 1-3)
*Andy Daniel - Drums (Disc 1 Tracks 1-4, Disc 2 Tracks 1-3)
*Marvin Greenlee - Drums (Disc 1 Tracks 5-10, Disc 2 Tracks 4-9)

Monday, July 12, 2021

Julian's Treatment - A Time Before This (1970 uk, gorgeous epic art prog rock, with sci fi lyrics, 2017 japan SHM remaster)

Julian's Treatment is yet another forgotten and obscure gem of progressive and psychedelic rock. Not very often does a sci-fi author involve himself with music. Michael Moorcock's involvement with Hawkwind is one of the best examples. And Julian Jay Savarin is another author who involved himself in music, with this band Julian's Treatment. Savarin played the organ and he had an Australian named Cathy Pruden to handle the vocals, with some other guys to handle the guitar, bass, drums, and flute (no liner notes were included, unfortunately).

A Time Before This, released in 1970, was the one and only album by this band (Savarin released an album under his own name called Waiters on the Dance, which varying sources say was released in 1969, 1971, or 1973). Unsurprising, the album is a sci-fi concept album, a bit difficult for me to follow when a lyric sheet wasn't even included, but it seems to involve the destuction of the Earth in which a Terran ends up on a planet inhabited by strange, blue-skinned people, and an evil megalomaniac. Musically, it's late '60s sounding psychedelic with progressive rock with great spacy organ and a cosmic feel to the whole album. Great female vocals as well with the occasional spoken dialog. Highlights include "Phantom City", "The Black Tower", "Altarra, Princess of the Blue Women", "Twin Suns of Centauri", "Alkon, Planet of Centauri", "The Terran", "Fourth From the Sun", and "Strange Things".

All the music sounds like it should belong on some campy sci-fi film from the late 1960s, but that should not come as any surprise. One band that Julian's Treatment gets compared to is The United States of America, the American band that released an self-entitled album in 1968 that featured Joe Byrd and Dorothy Moskowitz. Also comparisons to such prog rock bands lead by female vocalists like Analogy, Sandrose, and Holland's Earth & Fire are pretty common as well. Which is safe to say, if you're a fan of any of these groups, chances are you'll like Julian's Treatment, a great lost gem that sure to grow on you. The original LP (released in Britain by Young Blood and in the U.S. on Decca) isn't exactly easy to come by, but regardless, this album is another excellent obscure gem to add to your collection. 
by Ben Miler

1. First Oracle - 1:30
2. The Coming Of The Mule - 3:52
3. Phantom City - 5:18
4. The Black Tower - 5:01
5. Alda, Dark Lady Of The Outer Worlds - 3:52
6. Altarra, Princess Of The Blue Woman - 4:14
7. Second Oracle - 1:39
8. Part One: Twin Suns Of Centuari - 2:59
9. Part Two: Alkon, Planet Of Centauri - 2:58
10.The Terran - 4:00
11.Fourth From The Sun - 2:48
12.Strange Things - 4:58
13.A Time Before This - 8:55
All compositions by Julian Jay Savarin

Julian's Treatment
*Julian Jay Savarin - Keyboards, Vocals
*Cathy Pruden - Vocals
*Del Watkins - Guitar, Flute
*Jack Drummond - Drums
*John Dover - Bass

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Rab Noakes - Do You See The Lights? (1970 uk, wondrous jazzy folk psych, 2010 korean remaster)

A gift for writing hook-laden songs and sensitively interpreting the work of American singer/songwriters has brought Rab Noakes to the forefront of Scottish pop music. His 1970 debut album, Do You See the Lights, included "Together Forever," which became a folk-pop hit for Lindisfarne.  Although he agreed to form a band, Steeler's Wheel, with Rafferty, he left the band to resume his solo career before the group recorded their Top Ten hit "Stuck in the Middle With You." Noakes has continued to record on his own.
by Craig Harris

Hearing Rab Noakes' debut LP, Do You See the Light, is a bit like listening to a late-'60s folk-rock recording for the Elektra or Vanguard label that somehow wasn't released. As many contributions as those labels made in this genre, however, a comparison such as this isn't necessarily high praise. For though Noakes at times echoes various early singer/songwriters -- Blonde on Blonde-era Bob Dylan, Donovan, Phil Ochs, Tim Hardin, Fred Neil, Tim Buckley, James Taylor, Tom Paxton, The Basement Tapes-era Dylan -- he doesn't project a strong identity of his own, and his material is blander than the '60s work of any of the aforementioned figures.

It's as if the music has been filtered through a lower common denominator of someone with a large collection of U.S. singer/songwriter LPs with a personal narrative flavor, though sung here with a Scottish accent. Sometimes the triggers of specific comparisons are strong: the easygoing country-rock of "Together Forever" - later covered by Lindisfarne recalls Dylan's "You Ain't Going Nowhere," and "East Neuk Misfortune" suggests early Tim Buckley as well as the idiosyncratically mild but glowing electric guitar tone heard on numerous Elektra folk-rock recordings. It's all competently done on an even emotional keel, but doesn't mark the artist as possessing distinguished talent of his own. 
by Richie Unterberger

1. Do You See The Lights? - 4:52
2. Song For A Pretty Painter - 5:19
3. On My Own I Built A Bridge - 3:25
4. Without Me, Just With You - 3:10
5. Somewhere To Stay - 3:36
6. Together Forever - 3:15
7. One More, One Less - 2:51
8. East Neuk Misfortune - 4:11
9. A Question Of Travelling - 3:48
10.Too Old To Die - 3:23
11.A Love Story - 3:24
12.Somebody Counts On Me - 4:17
Music and Lyrics by Rab Noakes 

*Rab Noakes - Guitar, Vocals
*Ronnie Rae - Bass
*Alan Trajan - Keyboards 
*Robin McKidd - Guitar, Harmonica

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Friday, July 2, 2021

Hope - Hope (1972 us, magnificent spiritual art rock with prog touches, 2008 remaster)

Hope was a Christian rock group from LaCrosse, Wisconsin who released an album and three singles. They posses a diversity of really good material and styles, which range from subdued vocal to gentle styling. Instrumentally they exhibit great dexterity and skill which should aid them in finding a place in the hearts of the audience.

Hope's  album released 1972, the line up was Wayne C. McKibbin vocals, guitar, Jim Croegaert vocals, piano, Boyd Sibley vocals, organ, David A. Klug vocals, bass and the drummer Jeff Cozy. Good time music, some of the best cuts include "Where Do You Want To Go" and "Valley Of Hope". The lyrics  implies that this is a spritual trip (Jesus Rock).

Wayne McKibbin, was an accomplished artist, photographer, singer and musician. He played in several bands except Hope, including Jerry Way and the Pacemakers, the Silvertones, the Jesters Three.  Wayne C. McKibbin, died on July 4, 2005, at the age 59, in Three Rivers, California, on his home following a courageous battle with cancer.

1. Where Do You Want To Go (Wayne C. McKibbin) - 3:44
2. One Man (Boyd Sibley) - 4:47
3. Find Him (Wayne C. McKibbin) - 4:10
4. Deliverance (Jim Croegaert) - 4:20
5. From Thy Father's Hand (Boyd Sibley) - 5:06
6. Walkin' Over Hills And Valleys (Wayne C. McKibbin) - 4:02
7. One Of These (Jim Croegaert) - 3:31
8. Little Things (David A. Klug) - 3:05
9. Valley Of Hope (Boyd Sibley) - 2:48
10.Cold Morning (Jim Croegaert) - 4:03
11.Everyone Needs (Wayne C. McKibbin) - 4:06

*Jim Croegaert - Vocals, Piano
*Boyd Sibley - Vocals, Organ
*Jeff Cozy - Vocals, Drums
*David A. Klug - Vocals, Bass
*Wayne C. McKibbin - Vocals, Guitar
*Harvey Shapiro - Cello
*Lucien Schmit - Cello
*Homer Mensch - Double Bass
*Russ Savakus - Double Bass
*Alan Rubin - Trumpet, Flugelhorn 
*Joe Ferrante - Trumpet, Flugelhorn 
*Irvin Markowitz - Trumpet, Flugelhorn 
*Raymond Crisara - Trumpet, Flugelhorn 
*Henry Pakaln - Viola 
*Richard Dickler - Viola 
*Arnold Eidus - Violin
*Bernard Eichen - Violin 
*David Nadien - Violin
*Harold Coletta - Violin 
*Harold Kohon - Violin 
*Max Ellen - Violin 
*Tosha Samaroff - Violin