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.


Tuesday, February 28, 2023

The Stillroven - Cast Thy Burden Upon (1966-68 us, spectacular garage beat psych)

The Stillroven may be an unknown quantity to most listeners -- even those specializing in '60s music -- but these 18 songs are all well worth hearing for anyone who enjoys not just garage punk music of the era, but also solid mid-'60s pop/rock. Based on what's here, the Stillroven should have had a shot at national exposure and a major-label contract -- an opinion likely shared by anyone favorably inclined toward the type of American band that would cover the music of the early (i.e., pre-psychedelic) Moody Blues. 

(Add to that the fact that the Stillroven's rendition of "And My Baby's Gone" -- which was a potential follow-up to their single "Hey Joe" and gives some indication of their range -- is, if anything, more energetic than the Moodies' original.) And their ventures into psychedelia, such as "Cast Thy Burden Upon the Stone," are filled with strange little touches -- the latter melds sitar flourishes and garage punk textures successfully into a compelling whole, with some influences of early Pink Floyd showing up in the second half, totally out of left field. And they do a version of the Small Faces' "Tell Me Have You Ever Seen Me" that is worth the price of admission, coming from a Minnesota-spawned band. They were also able to cover the Yardbirds' psych-pop single "Little Games" with greater enthusiasm than the Yardbirds themselves, and their version has an edge that the original lacked in the verses, even if the break isn't quite as technically bold as what Jimmy Page and company did.

Their version of "(I'm Not Your) Stepping Stone" is also well worth the listening time, familiar as the song is, for the abandon of their execution. And the Stillroven covers of the Rolling Stones and Love material are similarly impressive, showing off different attributes of their musicianship. All through this collection, it's clear that the Stillroven knew how to translate their best musical impulses as well as a lot of creative performance flourishes to their recordings without sacrificing energy or excitement. What the Stillroven lacked was an individual sound that was sufficiently memorable to make a lingering impression, and they might well not have fared too much better than they did, even with some national exposure. But as interpreters, and undoubtedly as a live band, they were first-rate, and this collection does distill that virtue down successfully from more than 50 years back.
by Bruce Eder

1. (I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone (Bobby Hart, Tommy Boyce) - 2:29
2. She's My Woman (Dave Dean, John Howarth) - 2:45
3. Hey Joe (Billy Roberts) - 2:39
4. Sunny Day (Dave Dean, John Howarth) - 2:24
5. And My Baby's Gone (Denny Laine, Mike Pinder) - 2:13
6. Little Picture Playhouse (Eric Hine) - 2:05
7. Cast Thy Burden Upon The Stone (Dave Dean) - 2:46
8. Tell Me Have You Ever Seen Me (Ronnie Lane, Steve Marriott) - 2:27
9. Have You Got A Penny (David Stuart Sandler) - 2:38
10.Cheating (Dave Rowberry, Eric Burdon) - 2:51
11.Little Games (Phil Wainman) - 2:27
12.Love Is A Beautiful Thing (Felix Cavaliere, Gene Cornish) - 2:37
13.Under My Thumb (Mick Jagger, Keith Richards) - 2:53
14.Signed D.C (Arthur Lee) - 2:48
15.Come In The Morning (Bob Mosley) - 2:10
16.Necessary Person (Mike O'Gara) - 2:27
17.Tell Me Have You Ever Seen Me (Ronnie Lane, Steve Marriott) - 2:32
18.Freakout (Phil Berdahl, Dave Dean, John Howarth, Dave Berget, Jim Larkin) - 7:01

The Stillroven
*John Howarth - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Phil Berdahl - Drums 
*Dave Dean - Keyboard 
*Dan Kane - Vocals, Rhythm Guitar (Tracks 1-5, 10-13)
*Rock Peterson - Bass (Tracks 1-5, 10-13)
*Mike O'Gara - Guitar, Vocals (Tracks 8, 14-18)
*Dave Berget - Bass, Vocals (Tracks 6,7,18)
*Jim Larkin - Rhythm Guitar (Tracks 6,7,18)
*Mike Flaherty - Bass (Tracks 14-16)

Friday, February 24, 2023

Buddy Miles - A Message To The People (1971 us, remarkable funky blues rock, 2021 remaster)

In the league of funk-rock albums, A Message to the People is top-notch. Buddy Miles was easily one the better bandleaders of the early '70s, and his ability to unite a group of talented players around well-crafted songs definitely makes this one of his best albums. The gorgeous "The Way I Feel Tonight," the funky, horn-driven "Place Over There," and the lovely closing "That's the Way Life Is" all rank among Miles' best songs and performances. 

Add to that two superb Gregg Allman covers (especially "Midnight Rider," which is arguably even more definitive than the original), and the results are impressive. Miles even predates hip-hop by lifting the horn riff from Joe Tex's "You're Right, Ray Charles" and crafting it into a new instrumental cut called, fittingly, "Joe Tex." Only a dud cover of Percy Sledge's "Sudden Stop" is the album's lone clinker. In fact, the album is so good, it's mystifying why it barely clocks in at a meager half-hour. "That's the Way Life Is" and the clavinet-laden "The Segment" are both over just as they've barely begun.

Similarly, no sooner does the cover of "Don't Keep Me Wonderin'" settle into a powerful groove than it stops to segue into the next cut. Why Miles felt the need to edit the material so severely is bizarre, since the album could easily have been twice as long and still hit its mark. It's a testament to Buddy Miles' talent that, as first-rate as the album is, it will leave any listener wanting more. Still, A Message to the People is every bit a funk classic. 
by Victor W. Valdivia

A really fantastic album from drummer Buddy Miles – an artist that many folks know for his key rock work in the Band Of Gypsys group of Jimi Hendrix, but a musician with an equally great ear for soul and funk as well! Miles began in Electric Flag, and certainly has ties to the world of psych – and here, he mixes funkier currents with lots of strong trippy guitar from Marlo Henderson – a player we don't know that well, but who adds some great lines that are a lot like some of the Phil Upchurch contributions over at Chess/Cadet at the same time. Miles sings on most numbers, with that nicely honest vocal approach we love so much – but there's a few instrumental moments too, and the set's got some great use of horns throughout, which brings in some southern funky currents too. Titles include "Joe Tex", "Place Over There", "The Segment", "Don't Keep Me Wondering", "Sudden Stop", and "That's The Way Life Is". 

1. Joe Tex - 4:58
2. The Way I Feel Tonight - 5:06
3. Place Over There - 5:43
4. The Segment (Buddy Miles, Hank Redd) - 2:40
5. Don't Keep Me Wondering (Gregg Allman) - 2:01
6. Midnight Rider (Gregg Allman) - 3:38
7. Sudden Stop (Bobby Russell) - 4:21
8. Wholesale Love (Otis Redding) - 2:40
9. That's The Way Life Is - 2:06
All songs by Buddy Miles except where stated

*Buddy Miles - Bass, Drums, Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
*Hank Redd - Saxophone 
*Frederick "Flintstone" Allen - Percussion
*Michael Fugate - Horn, Trumpet
*Tom T. Hall - Horn
*Marlo Henderson - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*David Hull - Bass, Vocals
*Stemsy Hunter - Saxophone, Vocals
*Charlie Karp - Rhythm, Lead, Acoustic Guitars, Vocals
*Andre Lewis - Organ, Clavinet, Piano, Vocals 

Related Acts
1967  Electric Flag - The Trip (2011 remaster)
1968-69  Electric Flag - An American Music Band / A Long Time Comin
1968-74  The Electric Flag - Live 

Friday, February 17, 2023

Wilderness Road - Sold For The Prevention Of Disease Only (1973 us, elegant roots rural rock, smart lyrics with satirical mood, 2013 remaster)

A rootsy group from the Chicago scene, but one with a fair amount of wit, too – a subtle political agenda that's buried a bit beneath more rocking modes, and which really helps set these guys apart from the pack! The songwriting is often pretty smart, at least from a social perspective – couched amidst riffs and rhythms that are more mainstream overall, yet which know how to underscore the right punch of the group's intentions. A key illustration of this fact is the longer "Gospel" track – kind of a mini-suite aimed at Christian radio.

Back in 1973, naming an album after a slogan found on condom dispenser wasn’t exactly a smart commercial move—but what do you expect from a band whose members met at the Second City club in Chicago? Wilderness Road’s Warren Leming and Nate Herman were satirists and fixtures on the local bluegrass scene when they started the group to raise funds for the Chicago Consipiracy Trial in the aftermath of the 1968 DNC convention; after making self-titled concept album for Columbia, they signed to Warner-Reprise and made this cult classic record in 1973. 

Though the front cover displayed them as futuristic glam-rockers, Wilderness Road actually played a mutant hybrid of mountain music, psychedelia, rock, country and avant political satire, sort of Chicago’s answer to Country Joe & the Fish and the Fugs…except they might have been funnier. For example, Sold… includes “The Gospel,” a suite of songs, fake commercial and spoken word interludes pointedly parodying religious radio, while “The Authentic British Blues” is a devastating takedown of the white boy blues genre.

1. Pot Of Gold (A. Harvey) - 3:05
2. Rock Garden (Nate Herman) - 4:00
3. A.M.A. (Warren Leming) - 3:31
4. The Gospel/What Key Does The Gold Lord Sing In?/Sunday, Sunday/Mouth Jive/H (Nate Herman, Warren Leming) - 7:54
5. Reno (Nate Herman, Andy Haban, Warren Leming) - 3:57
6. Bored (Nate Herman) - 5:09
7. Long Winter (Nate Herman) - 4:01
8. The Authentic British Blues (Nate Herman, Warren Leming) - 4:17

Wilderness Road
*Warren Leming - Electric, Acoustic Guitars, Banjo, Vocals, Moon Lute 
*Nate Herman - Lead Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards, Runa 
*Andy Haban - Bass, Vocals 
*Tom Haban - Drums, Vocals
*Venetta Fields - Vocals 
*Jim Horn - Alto, Tenor, Baritone Saxophones
*Clydie King - Vocals 
*Rick Mann - Pedal Steel
*Don Menza - Tenor Saxophone
*Shirlie Matthews - Vocals 

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Alan Ross - Are You Free On Saturday? (1977 uk, good groovy guitar rock with prog tinges, 2021 korean remaster)

"Are You Free On Saturday? " is the 1977 solo-album by British guitarist, songwriter and vocalist Alan Ross, this time for a small British label, Ebony Records. 

Ross is no mean guitarist and had previously knocked out two albums with his cryptically named band Ross along with a couple of others namely Ro-Ro and Stars. Like Duncan Browne he re-emerged after a quiet spell with two albums that caused little stir at the time but to my mind merit a listen. This is the first and is again one found quite cheaply still. 

On offer is melodic rock with fine guitar work and good instrumentation from a well oiled band including Ed Spevock on drums. I particularly like Ross’s work on the slower Mystified but there is much to be enjoyed with the title track and a version of Peter Gabriel’s Get The Guns also noteable. It’s a harder edged rock album again demonstrating Ross’s guitar prowess and again worthy of a listen. 

In 1980, he appeared on an album by Wilson-Gale called "Gift Wrapped Set". In 1983, he played on Alexis Korner's album "Juvenile Delinquent". 

1. Are You Free On Saturday ? - 5:27
2. What You Gonna Do About It ? - 3:56
3. Man With The White Glove - 6:29
4. Mystified - 4:49
5. Get The Guns (Martin Hall, Peter Gabriel) - 3:28
6. Nothing Gets In My Way - 4:29
7. Baby Please (Dave Mason) - 2:56
8. Punishment Park (Mike Finesilver, Peter Ker) - 4:42
9. Love Is Love - 6:25
All songs by Alan Ross except where stated

*Alan Ross - Guitar, Vocals
*John Cooke - Clavinet, Mini Moog, Moog Synthesizer, Percussion, Piano, Vocals
*Frank Wilson - Keyboards, Vocals, 
*Pete Dennis - Bass, Vocals
*Chris Fletcher - Percussion, Vocals
*Ed Spevock - Drums, Percussion
*Tom Compton - Drums

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Headstone - Bad Habits (1974 uk, amazing prog rock, 2021 korean remaster)

Mark Ashton, a remarkably resilient rock figure who first joined Rare Bird as a 19-year-old drummer. After two albums with the band, Ashton left and re-invented himself as a singer/guitarist in a new band, Headstone. Steve Bolton ex-Atomic Rooster. Bassist Phil Chen an Arrival veteran whilst keyboard player Tony Lukyn was previously with Tranquility.

They released two albums, both produced by John Anthony, with the second featuring cameos from Rare Bird-mates Steve Gould and Dave Kaffinetti. 

On "Bad Habits" The style here is very different than Rare Bird – a bit singer/songwriter, but still with a full band approach overall – recorded in modes that mix British and Cali mid 70s styles in the best way possible, and coming across with a lean sort of style that really lets Ashton shine in the spotlight.

1. Don't Turn Your Back - 4:25
2. Take Me Down - 4:15
3. High On You - 3:08
4. Love You Too - 2:24
5. O3B - 4:04
6. Open Your Eyes - 0:29
7. Live For Each Other - 3:47
8. You've Heard It All Before - 3:35
9. Bad Habits - 3:55
10.Take A Plane - 4:36
11.DMT - 4:32
All compositions by Mark Ashton except Track #5 by Steve Bolton

*Mark Ashton - Guitar, Vocals
*Steve Bolton - Guitar
*Chilli Charles - Drums
*Phil Chen - Bass
*Tony Lukyn - Moog Synthesizer, Synthesizer
*Joe O'Donnell - Guitar, Violin
*Dave Kaffinetti - Keyboards, Electric Piano
*Carl Douglas - Vocals
*Juanita "Honey" Franklin - Vocals
*Steve Gould - Vocals
*Sparkie - Vocals 

Related Acts