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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.


Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Eddie Mottau - No Moulding (1977 us, splendid folk rock, 2020 korean remaster)

In June of 1974, Eddie Mottau rejoined John Lennon as a session musician on the Walls and Bridges album, then again in 1975 for the Rock N Roll recording sessions certified as Gold Records by the RIAA. Tracks from these recordings were then included on Lennon's certified Platinum compilation album, Shaved Fish.

In 1975 Eddie became friends with drummer/singer Bob Drew and bassist Jimmy Clark who were playing in a local band called Homegrown, which had a short history. However, the musical connection between the three of them continued and in May of 1977, Eddie and Jimmy, along with several New Hampshire friends, drove to Blue Hill, Maine for a week of recording in Stookey’s Neworld Henhouse; a live-in-studio 'no frills' rendering called «No Moulding».

The off-again, on-again musical relationship of Bob and Eddie re-emerged in the early 80's with the formation of the five piece Eddie Mottau Band featuring Ed on guitar and vocals of course and Bob on drums , vocals and harmonica. In 2001, Jimmy Clark joined the two of them for the recording of the Mottau, Drew and Clark debut album Dance For Love for Neworld Multimedia. This “backyard testimony” of original ballads and ragtime tributes was co-produced and mastered by Jim Mason, who called the three of them “seasoned veterans who handle the deep-pocket, laid-back grooves of ‘Hop Scop’ to the beautifully tender ‘Fell in Love Again’ with grace and ease that comes only to musicians with years of experience.”

1. Glory Of Love (Billy Hall) - 2:48
2. I Love You (Eddie Mottau, Eddie Ryan, Jimmy Clark) - 3:09
3. Living The Life Of Riley (Eddie Mottau, Jimmy Clark) - 3:41
4. Empty Pockets Blues (Pete Seeger, Lee Hays) - 2:45
5. Starting From Scratch (Walter Holt, Eddie Mottau) - 3:11
6. This Year (Jimmy Clark, Eddie Mottau) - 3:07
7. Jazz-Bo Brown (George Brooks) - 3:22
8. For You (Eddie Mottau, Eddie Ryan) - 2:35
9. Whistle A Tune (Eddie Mottau, Eddie Ryan) - 2:35
10.The Winner (Noel Paul Stookey) - 3:34
11.Jesus Is On The Main Line (Traditional) - 2:35
12.Morning Dancer (Jimmy Clark) - 3:36

*Eddie Mottau - Vocals, 6, 12 Strings Guitar
*Noel Paul Stookey - Melodica (Track 3), Backing Vocals (Track 11)
*Jimmy Clark - Bass, Harmony Vocals
*Vic Hyman - Acoustic, Electric Guitar, Backing Vocals (Track 11)
*Wayne Cadrain - Harmonica, Bells, Knees
*Walter Holt - 12 Strings Guitar, Harmony Vocals (Track 5)
*Stu Davis - Backing Vocals (Track 11)
*Elaine Sutherland - Backing Vocals (Track 11)
*Bob Wilson - Backing Vocals (Track 11)
*Elizabeth Stookey - Backing Vocals (Track 11)
*Anna Stookey - Backing Vocals (Track 11)
*Kate Stookey - Backing Vocals (Track 11)

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Friday, November 18, 2022

The O Band - The Knife (1977 uk, fine mix of funky glam and classic rock vibes, 2021 korean remaster)

The first song from "The Knife" is an old number by Spirit. The O-Band dutifully plays the song. The second song is also a cover penned by John Fogerty "Almost Saturday Night", from the third song the band does present their own material. "I'm Gonna Leave You" is a mid-tempo rock number with nice harmony vocals. "Strange Lovin'" sounds similar. The song sounds good and breathes a lot of west coast feeling with a pinch of country rock. "Back Alley Lightning" continues what has been heard so far. That sounds like US rock

"Time Seems To Fly" is another relaxed rock song. Here, too, practically everything is correct. "The Knife" is the heart of the album. The longest song on the album is also the most varied and interesting song with an interesting story. "Got To Run" follows the style of the previous song and picks up the thread of the song and the story. "Venus Avenue" ends the album in a balladesque way. Towards the end the song gets really interesting with an increasingly dissonant orchestration.

Too bad the band never made it. The Knife is a pretty good album. Singer Pix sounds very interesting, his voice has a high recognition value. The instrumental performances and harmony vocals are good. The own songs are well done. Especially the title track and the two following songs harmonize well with each other. Shortly after the release, Pix Pickford decided to leave for a solo career. The O Band later disbanded at the end of 1977. 

1. Look To The Left, Look To The Right (Randy California) - 3:15
2. Almost Saturday Night (John Fogerty) - 2:57
3. I'm Gonna Leave You (Craig Anders, Jonathan Pickford) - 3:29
4. Strange Lovin' (Jeff Bannister, Jonathan Pickford) - 3:53
5. Back Alley Lightning (Jeff Bannister) - 4:28
6. Time Seems To Fly (Jeff Bannister) - 3:45
7. The Knife (Jonathan Pickford) - 7:56
8. Got To Run (Jeff Bannister, Jonathan Pickford) - 4:26
9. Venus Avenue (Craig Anders) - 4:51

The O Band
*Jonathan Pix Pickford - Lead Vocals, Guitar
*Mark Anders - Bass
*Derek Ballard - Drums, Percussion  
*Craig Anders - Vocals, Peddle Steel Guitar, Slide Guitar 
*Jeff Bannister - Vocals, Piano, Electric Piano, Organ, Synthesizer

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Sunday, November 13, 2022

Blue Epitaph - Ode By Blue Epitaph (1974-75 uk, experimental art folk psych, 2003 expanded edition)

Reissue of rare 1974 UK folk psych album plus bonus tracks from the group Junction 32. Beautiful solid folk with filigree acoustic guitar.

Recorded on the Holyground label, Pete Howells wrote the songs and the arrangements with James Gordon on vocals, guitar and piano. 
1. Diane - 3:41
2. Orange Room - 2:37
3. The Game's Reversible - 2:52
4. Oh You Lucky Man - 3:37
5. You Made Me - 3:39
6. Ode - 5:35
7. Can't Stop The Music - 3:04
8. I Never Met You - 3:15
9. She Lie Shoe - Who Are You - 3:16
10.Ffief (Traditional) - 2:34
11.When I'm Blind - Snippets - 2:43
12.Underrated - 4:58
13.Third Take (McGuire) - 2:23
14.Whiskey In The Jar (Traditional) - 2:10
15.Prickety Bush (Traditional) - 4:03
16.Bill Bailey (Traditional) - 2:26
17.Bold Princess Royal (Traditional) - 2:24
18.Ropergate Rag (Leydon) - 3:05
All compositions by Pete Howells except where indicated
Tracks 13-18 by Junction 32

*James Gordon - Guitar, Vocals, Piano 
*Pete Howells - Guitar, Vocals, Piano 
*Rich Robinson - Bass  
*Paul Todd - Drums (Track 7)
*Dave Theobald - Drums (Tracks 5,12)
*Silvie McRoberts - Vocals (Track 5)

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Tuesday, November 8, 2022

John Kongos - Kongos (1971-75 south africa / uk, glamorus texture of rockin' beat delights, 2014 remaster and xpanded)

To most of the British public in the early 1970s, John Kongos was a passing two-hit wonder, known solely for his two 1971 #4 hits, "He's Gonna Step on You Again" and "Tokoloshe Man." Yet his career was already into its second decade and second continent, and was heavily intersecting with budding superstar Elton John's orbit by the dawn of the '70s. The reverberations of those two hit songs would be felt into the 1990s, via a hit cover of one of them and, more importantly, the ad infinitum use of a production technique pioneered by that same recording. In the US, despite the small splash that same track made in 1971, he remains virtually unknown, although his Kongos album (containing both hits) was picked up for Stateside distribution by the prestigious Elektra label.

Though only in his mid-twenties by the time "He's Gonna Step on You Again" climbed the UK charts, John Kongos had actually started recording way back in the early 1960s, as a teenager in the South African band the Dukes. The Johannesburg native recorded prolifically in South Africa as part of first the Dukes and, starting in 1962, Johnny Kongos & the G-Men. By 1966 he'd moved to England to try and crack the British Invasion explosion, doing a solo single for Piccadilly before heading the band Floribunda Rose (which made just one '67 single) and the more psych-pop Scrugg, who issued three 45s in the late '60s. The Kongos-penned debut Scruggs single "Everyone Can See"/"I Wish I Was Five" in particular was a quite respectable piece of trendy pop-psychedelia with groovy cathedral-toned organ, the latter song eventually getting anthologized on Rhino's Nuggets II box set of non-US '60s garage-psychedelic music.

Whatever name Kongos's projects were going by, none of his Piccadilly/Pye singles made a commercial impact, and by the end of the 1960s he'd gone the solo singer-songwriter route. Switching to Pye's new progressive subsidiary Dawn, his 1969 LP Confusions About a Goldfish was mild, introspective work that in places recalled the similarly tentative early singer-songwriting-pop efforts of the young David Bowie and Elton John. (All of Kongos's Piccadilly and Pye work, incidentally -- including the solo, Floribunda Rose, and Scrugg singles, as well as the entire Confusions About a Goldfish album -- has been reissued on the Castle CD anthology Lavender Popcorn.) That borne in mind, it's perhaps no surprise that his next album, Kongos, would be produced by a man who had already worked with both Bowie and John, Gus Dudgeon.

The Kongos-penned "Won't You Join Me" had been a big European hit (particularly in West Germany) for the Israeli-born actress Daliah Lavi (mostly known in the US for her role as "The Detainer" in the James Bond spoof Casino Royale), providing enough royalties for Kongos to put together a home basement recording studio. His home-produced demo of "He's Gonna Step on You Again" opened the door to working with Gus Dudgeon, who by that time had produced David Bowie's 1969 hit "Space Oddity." Dudgeon had also started his long stint as Elton John's producer, which would last through the singer-songwriter's rise to superstardom and include John's most popular 1970s singles and albums. Dudgeon's other credits included production for the Bonzo Dog Band, Ralph McTell, cult British folk-rocker Michael Chapman, and Ten Years After, as well as engineering for the likes of John Mayall and Marianne Faithfull.

Most of the musicians on the Kongos album were also sidekicks on early Elton John recordings, including guitarist Caleb Quaye, percussionist Ray Cooper, bassist Dave Glover, drummer Roger Pope, and backup singers Sue Glover and Sunny Leslie. (Also making appearances were fellow Dudgeon client Ralph McTell, on guitar, and eccentric avant-jazz-rock saxophonist Lol Coxhill.) It could have surprised few, then, that several of the tracks -? such as "Lift Me from the Ground," "I Would Have a Good Time," "Try to Touch Just One," and the gospel-influenced "Jubilee Cloud" (which sounded rather like a British variation of the gospel-rock of Norman Greenbaum's smash "Spirit in the Sky") -- boasted arrangements similar to those heard on early Elton John records. For "Tomorrow I'll Go," Kongos reached into his back catalog and remade one of his songs from Confusions About a Goldfish, this time with a less soppy approach. Indeed, Kongos as a whole was considerably more forceful and less gawky than its predecessor.

But the songs that got by far the most attention were the two hit singles, based around far heavier, almost jungle-like rhythms. "He's Gonna Step on You Again" used a tape loop of actual African tribal drums, and was eventually cited by The Guinness Book of Records as the first sample ever used on a record. Recognizing a good thing when he found one, Kongos's follow-up single "Tokoloshe Man" was also anchored by tribal stomp beats and almost disembodied, half-shouted vocals. The lyrics of both tunes, too, were most enigmatic, the target of "He's Gonna Step on You Again" coming off as a combination of roguish seducer and imperialist conqueror. Perhaps he's the same strange cat as the "Tokoloshe Man," which strongly hints at turning to Jesus Christ for help in warding off the Tokoloshe Man's mysterious threat in its final lines. That's just one of numerous references to Jesus in the album's lyrics, with "Come on Down Jesus" even name-checking the man in its song title.

It's been speculated that producer Mike Leander was influenced by the strange beats and noises on Kongos's pair of hits when crafting Gary Glitter's glam sound. And certainly, those songs were still remembered well by British musicians decades later, as the Happy Mondays took a cover of "He's Gonna Step on You Again" (retitled "Step On") to #5 in the UK in 1990, also covering "Tokoloshe Man" for good measure. The original "He's Gonna Step on You Again"'s impact in the US was relatively modest, however, reaching just #70 in 1971, though at least Kongos found release on the Elektra label, and now via this Collectors' Choice Music reissue.

Though the LP made #29 in Britain (on the Fly label, also home of T. Rex in early '70s), Kongos would thereafter vanish from the charts. But his surprising career path kept him in the industry, as engineer, producer, session musician, TV jingle and theme composer, and songwriter, with Sylvie Vartan scoring a big French hit with his "Ride the Lightning." And eventually, he would handle the programming of the Fairlight synthesizer on Def Leppard's #2-charting 1983 album Pyromania -- an interest foreshadowed, perhaps, by his then-futuristic use of synthesizer on one of Kongos's tracks, "Try to Touch Just One." 
by Richie Unterberger

1. Tokoloshe Man - 5:13
2. Jubilee Cloud (John Kongos, Peter Leroy) - 4:07
3. Gold (John Kongos, Christos Demetriou) - 4:28
4. Lift Me From The Ground (John Kongos, Robert Bailey) - 4:05
5. Tomorrow I'll Go - 4:49
6. Try To Touch Just One - 6:45
7. Weekend Lady - 2:55
8. I Would Have Had A Good Time - 4:20
9. Come On Down Jesus (John Kongos, Mike Moran) - 3:38
10.He's Gonna Step On You Again (John Kongos, Christos Demetriou) - 4:28
11.Sometimes It's Not Enough - 2:59
12.Tokoloshe Man - 3:59
13.Can Someone Please Direct Me Back To Earth - 3:56
14.Great White Lady (John Kongos, Christos Demetriou) - 3:53
15.Shamarack - 3:20
16.Higher Than God's Hat (John Kongos, Peter Leroy) - 4:11
17.Would You Follow Me - 4:09
18.Ride The Lightning (John Kongos, Peter Leroy) - 4:05
19.I Won't Ask You Where You've Been - 4:33
All songs by John Kongos except where noted
Tracks 1-10 fron LP "Kongos" 1971
Bonus Tracks 11-19
Tracks 14, 15 released 1972
Tracks 16, 17 released 1973
Tracks 18, 19 released 1975

*John Kongos - Vocals, Guitar, Bass
*Dave Glover - Bass  
*Robert Kirby - Brass  
*Claire Deniz  - Cello  
*Ray Cooper  - Congas, Maraccas  
*Roger Pope  - Drums  
*Caleb Quaye  - Electric Guitar. Piano  
*Gus Dudgeon  - Chair Squeak, Rusty Tin, Talking Drum  
*Lol Coxhill  - Saxophone 
*Mike Noble - Clapper Board
*Robert Kirby - Brass, Choir Arrangements
*Mike Mora - ARP Synthsizer
*Raplph McTell - Finger Style Guitar
*Rick Wakeman - Piano 
*Peter , Alex, Sue , Sunny - Backing Vocals 

Friday, November 4, 2022

Natural Acoustic Band - Branching In (1972 uk, marvelous folk rock, 2018 japan remaster)

The Natural Acoustic Band were a British folk band, formed in 1969 in Milngavie, Glasgow, Scotland. There were a number of personnel changes throughout the band's history. The band only produced two albums and one single (reaching No 1 in the Melody Maker folk charts). They were on the bill on three occasions at London's Marquee Club: November 17, 1971 (supported by Shape of the Rain), 12 April 1972 (supported by Gnidrolog) and 22 November 1972 (supporting Brewers Droop).

As a replacement for Krysia Kocjan the NAB had at first recruited Joanna Carlin but she never recorded with them. She was actually called Melanie Harrold but was trying to avoid confusion with the better known Melanie (Melanie Safka). She later made singles and solo albums (under both her names) and worked with the Albion Band and members of Steeleye Span. The NAB continued as a duo comprising Hoy and Thyne until 1975 when Hoy joined Magna Carta. Thyne also joined this band at a later stage.

Krysia Kocjan went on to provide backing vocals for Al Stewart, The Kinks, Mike Heron and many others. She made a solo album Krysia in 1974 (RCA LPL1 5052) with musicians including some Fairport Convention/Fotheringay members (specifically Jerry Donahue, Dave Pegg, Dave Mattacks - and also Rabbit Bundrick, and renowned percussionist Ray Cooper. On one track she revived her youthful talent for setting romantic English poetry to music with John Keats' La Belle Dame Sans Merci. Al Stewart's backing group, led by Peter White with Kocjan as a member, chose the name Shot In The Dark and released an album with the same title in 1981 (RSO 2394 297). On this Kocjan used her occasional alternative name of Krysia Kristianne and her few solo lead vocals here include "Some Towns".

She later moved to the US and in 1995 sang the track "The Lament" on the CD A Celtic Tale - The Legend of Deirdre by Mychael and Jeff Danna, a performance which drew review phrases such as "crystalline soprano" and "most moving" on Amazon.

In 1996 came the CD Tyger and Other Tales (Sentience Records 70002) with Leslie Chew and David Kronemyer which revived the Keats work along with ten other romantic English poems set to music. Her own favourite of these was "Complaint of the Absence of Her Lover Being Upon the Sea", as stated privately to a fan. She died on February 21, 2007, in Portland, Oregon where she had lived and worked as a singing teacher since 2000. A memorial service for Kocjan was held in Los Angeles on Saturday, March 10, 2007.

1. Running Into Changes (Krysia Kocjan, Tom Hoy) - 2:50
2. Echoes (Krysia Kocjan, Tom Hoy) - 3:51
3. Money (Krysia Kocjan) - 3:02
4. Follow Your Love (Tom Hoy) - 5:35
5. Road To The Sun (Krysia Kocjan) - 2:50
6. Is It True Blue? (There's Nothing Unnatural About Electricity) (Tom Hoy) - 3:33
7. First Boy (Krysia Kocjan, Tom Hoy) - 4:08
8. I'll Carry You (Tom Hoy) - 3:51
9. Little Leaf (Krysia Kocjan) - 2:57
10.Moontime Writer (Krysia Kocjan) - 3:00
11.Travellers On The Road (Robin Thyne) - 4:30

Natural Acoustic Band
*Tom Hoy - Guitar, Vocals, 
*Robin Thyne - Guitar, Bongos, Bass Recorder, Vocals, 
*Krysia Kocjan - Vocals, Guitar, Glockenspiel