In The Land Of FREE we still Keep on Rockin'

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Plain and Fancy

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


Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Heavy Rain - Heavy Rain (1973-74 uk, tight heavy psych rock, 2023 release)

Formed in Blackpool in the late 60s, Heavy Rain was a ”heavy progressive blues” band who shared stage with big names like Hawkwind, Pink Fairies or Caravan. In 1973, now reduced to a power-trio (Geoff Carter on lead guitar/vocals, Oggy Hargreaves on bass and Bernie Worsley on drums), they went to London and registered an album which was never released at the time but a few metal acetates were made. Only one copy is actually known of this monster rarity. Music is 100% underground psychedelic hard-rock with heavy distorted fuzz-wah guitars and delay/echo effects. Seven original songs plus a spaced out Pink Floyd cover. 

1. Emily - 4:32
2. Thrutch In "B" - 4:05
3. Lady Matilda - 2:59
4. Lost Woman (Chris Dreja, Jeff Beck, Jim McCarty, Keith Relf, Paul Samwell-Smith) - 5:26
5. Chord Song - 5:06
6. I Need You - 5:53
7. Rising Of The Tide / Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun ( / Roger Waters) - 8:11
8. Ship Of Sin - 4:42
9. Flying High - 4:38
10.Out In The Street - 5:05
All songs by Bernie Worsley, Geoff Carter , Graham Hargreaves, except where stated

Heavy Rain
*Bernie Worsley - Drums
*Geoff Carter - Lead Guitar, Vocals, Harmonica
*Graham Hargreaves - Bass

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Grit - Grit (1972 uk, superb heavy psych rock. 2022 japan reissue)

Born from the ashes of a London band called Merlyn, Grit consisted of Frank Martinez (lead guitar, vocals), Paul Christodoulou (bass/vocals), Tom Kelly (drums, vocals) and Jeff Ball (vocalist).

Frank, nicknamed “Spider”, has an interesting story: at the beginning of his musical career he auditioned for Joe Meek at his Holloway Road studio. Later, he also played with a band called Grand Union - who supported Pink Floyd in 1968 - and with members of the John Dummer Band. An electronic wizard, Frank also worked building amps and electronic equipment at Nolan Amps, MIDAS, etc. He built the Twin Stacks and PA’s that later would form part of Grit's equipment.

Tom Kelly came from a band called Connexion and Paul Christodoulou had played in Merlyn along with Frank. After some attempts, the definitive line-up of Grit was born when Frank and Paul convinced drummer Tom Kelly to join them, after assisting to a Nazareth concert. They also recruited powerful singer Jeff Ball after an ad in Melody Maker.

On Christmas Eve, 1972, Grit recorded a demo at SWM Studios and four copies of a one-sided 12” acetate (one for each member) were pressed for promo purposes. It featured four self penned songs: the killer “Mineshaft” (pure underground fuzz hard-rock) and two lengthy numbers: “Child and The Drifter” (with some furious drumming, stunning leads and hard-prog moves) and the hard-psychedelic “What Do You See In My Eyes” / “I Wish I Was”.

Armed with the acetates, the band visited some music agents in London but nobody was interested. But while looking for a manager, they found a company who secured them a Greek tour. This was a true adventure and they managed to appear on television and play with big names from the Greek psych-prog scene like Socrates and Peloma Mpoklou in big festivals. Sadly, due to a family problem, Frank had to leave the band and return to England. That was the end for Grit.

40 years later, one of the original Grit acetates was found at a flea market in Germany, which led to its inclusion in the 7001 Record Collector Dreams book by famous collector Hans Pokora. The band still remained a mystery until 2019, when, by pure chance, Alex Carretero from Guerssen found Frank Martinez and he opened his vault, which included the original master tape of the Grit acetate and several tapes with rehearsals from Grit and Merlyn. 

1. Mineshaft - 3:54
2. The Child And The Drifter - 8:57
3. What Do I See In My Eyes / I Wish I Was - 9:23
4. 1000 Miles - 3:24
5. Across The Windowsill - 4:38
6. What Do I See In My Eyes / I Wish I Was - 7:52
7. Down In The Mine - Mineshaft - 3:44
All songs by Frank Martinez, Jeff Ball, Tom Kelly, Paul Christodoulou
Tracks 4-7 rehearsalls
Tracks 5 as Merlyn

*Frank Martinez - Guitar, Vocals
*Jeff Ball - Lead Vocals
*Tom Kelly - Drums, Vocals
*Paul Christodoulou - Bass, Vocals

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Smokey Circles - Smokey Circles Album (1970 uk / israel, beautiful orchestrated pop psychedelia, 2018 reissue)

This enigmatic album was the result of a collaboration between Ralph Murphy and Shmulik Kraus. Murphy had emigrated from the UK to Ontario, Canada aged six, and taught himself how to play guitar as he grew up. He played in New York and California during the early 60s folk boom, then formed a duo with his friend Jack Klaeysen back in Canada. When the Beatles hit, they decided to travel to the UK, arriving in February 1965. First they tried their luck in Liverpool, but the Merseybeat craze had petered out, so they relocated to London on the advice of Gerry & the Pacemakers. There they got in touch with agent Joe Collins, and began to play opening slots at the New Oxford Theatre for acts including the Pretty Things and the Byrds. Collins found them a berth on Pye Records, under producer Tony Hatch, and they issued four singles as The Slade Brothers, between June 1965 and September 1966. In that time they continued to act as an opener for touring artists, including the Kinks and the Walker Brothers.

As songwriters, they placed Call My Name with James Royal, who released it on CBS in January 1967. Produced by Collins' associate Mervyn Conn (primarily a tour promoter), it sold well, leading Murphy to place other songs with acts such as Billy Fury, Vanity Fare, Bella & Me and the Casuals, as well as co-producing cult band Kate with Conn. He also continued to collaborate with Klaeysen, under the new name Harper  & Rowe, releasing several singles and an LP, none of which appeared in the UK. Towards the end of 1967, the successful Israeli band the High Windows asked Murphy to translate their lyrics into English, in a bid to have success outside their homeland.

The High Windows were a trio led by the charismatic Shmulik Kraus. Born in Israel in 1935, he had made his name working with Abi Ofarim, before forming the band with Josie Katz (his wife) and Arik Einstein. When Einstein jumped ship, the couple moved to London, where Murphy ended up joining them as 'Raffi Murphy', and forming a songwriting partnership with Kraus. This resulted in two singles, issued in January and May 1968, both produced by Conn. When they didn't sell, the High Windows fell apart, but Murphy and Kraus continued their connection. with Conn when he formed his tiny Carnaby label in late 1969. John Walker recorded two of their songs, and another pair appeared on a promo-only single in March 1970, credited to Smokey Circles.

The following month, an entire album of their commercial pop songs appeared under the same name, performed by studio musicians, arranged by the renowned Ken Woodman, and produced by Conn. According to Disc & Music Echo, 'Long Long Love sticks in the brain like it should be a smash hit single, and Sun Comes Up is delightful,' but sadly sales didn't materialize and the duo parted ways. Thereafter Murphy continued to act as a writer-producer, until his death on 28 May 2019, of pneumonia, he was 75, while the volatile Kraus embarked on a solo career, remaining famous in his homeland, where he died in 2013. 
CD Liner notes

1. Long Long Love - 2:09
2. Chocolate Soldier - 3:18
3. Anybody Needs A Lover - 2:17
4. Traces Of Tomorrow - 3:29
5. Love Me While You Can - 2:03
6. Carnival - 3:22
7. Leaving Your Dreams Behind - 2:16
8. Whisper Streams - 3:24
9. Who Are We - 3:40
10.Sun Comes - 2:54
11.Find A Time - 2:23
12.Little Man - 3:07
All songs by Ralph Murphy, Shmulik Krauss

*Ralph Murphy - Composer
*Shmulik Krauss - Composer
*Leslie Danken - Vocals 
*Frank Shin - Vocals
*Ken Woodman - Arranger, Conductor
*Mervyn Conn - Producer

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Winterhawk - Electric Warriors (1979 us, outstanding hard rock, 2021 remaster)

San Francisco-based Indigenous hard rockers Winterhawk put out two records—one in 1979, one in 1980—that are both re-released by Don Giovanni Records, so we thought it was a good time to dive into the band’s first album, ’79’s Electric Warriors, to find out if it deserves the reissue.

This Winterhawk—who, by all accounts, took their culture’s traditions and values into their music and aimed to be good role models to youth—isn’t to be confused with Chicago’s Winterhawk, who were also around at the same time. (This band’s “Don’t Die” shirt is one sXe slogan away from being a piece of Earth Crisis merch.) Indeed, this Winterhawk took a positive and damn near squeaky-clean approach to their craft, and it only adds to the music.

“Prayer” is a killer opener, starting off with a slow burn that has tons of ’70s feel to it; it’s a courageous way to kick things off, not exactly diving head first into hard rock, but setting a mood, and doing it with authority. Then on to “Got to Save It,” and, man, I really like what this band is laying down here, incredibly solid on their instruments with a fantastic vibe—good-time KISS at its best—and a strong message. Fantastic opening pair of songs here. This song is 5:30 but doesn’t get old, it actually just gets stronger and stronger as it goes on.

“Black Whiskey” tells a tale of the evils of alcohol over a mid-tempo kinda-mellow tune, a song that wouldn’t sound half bad playing in a car stereo at 8pm on a summer night while you’re killing time in a parking lot with the buds. Winterhawk is doing absolutely nothing wrong on this record so far, three songs in. Win, win, win.

“Dark Skin Lady” ends off the original album’s side A with some killer guitar work that immediately brings to mind classy and classic Thin Lizzy, the band just incredibly solid, tight, working as a cohesive unit here. Love it. Side A done and done and absolutely no complaints here.

“Restaurant” is a slinky groover with tons of attitude, kinda absurd lyrics, and—I can’t stress this enough—a tight delivery. Seriously, these guys were incredibly locked in together on this album. This song rules, and, honestly, those stoopid lyrics only help.

“Selfish Man” is when the band’s personality really starts to shine, with some of their traditional Native American musical sounds coming through both in the music and vocals. Excellent track here, one that handles both quiet and louder parts with ease and power.

“Custer’s Dyin’” absolutely kills it, the band laying into a slinky boogie with charged lyrics and tons of their own flair in there. A great song, and then they end the album even stronger with “Fight.” This closes the album off with another streamlined rocker, vocals threatening to be a bit much at points but generally staying just this side of too much and instead rocking all night long, the band showing off their excellent riff skills one final time here, drumming concise and tight, everyone locked in for one final groove, bassist holding it down, man… I love Winterhawk, and the spoken part that ends off this song, and the album, just nails that home. Incredible.

This record being legit rocking, with tons of personality and a positive message behind it to boot. It’s aged perfectly and is one of the finest pieces of shoulda-been early metal/hard rock we’ve come across in this column to date.
by  Greg Pratt, October 14, 2021

1. Prayer - 3:00
2. Got To Save It - 5:28
3. Black Whiskey - 5:24
4. Dark Skin Lady - 3:32
5. Restaurant - 4:14
6. Selfish Man - 5:30
7. Custer's Dyin' - 4:59
8. Fight - 6:02
All songs by Nik Alexander

*Alfonso Kolb - Drums
*Frank J. Diaz de Leon - Bass, Vocals 
*Frankie Joe - Rhythm Guitar 
*Nik Alexander - Guitar, Vocals

Friday, December 8, 2023

Soul Inc. - Soul Inc. Vol. 2 (1965-69 us, stunning garage rock, rhythm 'n' blues)

Gear Fab Records continues its Souls Inc. story with the release of Volume 2. Originally a singles band from Kentucky, Soul Inc. was formed in 1965 when guitarist Wayne Young and drummer Marvin Maxwell secured a place on Dick Clark's Caravan of Stars tour prior to even forming a band. The two hired some musicians and backed up the likes of Lou Christi, Reparata & the Delrons, and others. On the second Dick Clark tour, Soul Inc. opened as a stand-alone band and quickly became a favorite of many of the top acts of the day, including Paul Revere & the Raiders. 

Over the following months, Soul Inc. built a reputation for themselves and began recording singles. The band recorded songs for the Rondo, Star Records, Boss and Counterpart labels, and became one of the most popular acts in Kentucky. Volume 1 of the Soul Inc. story collected 20 of the band's singles recorded between 1965 and 1969. Volume 2 now continues that story with an additional 16 tracks that were not on Volume 1, and features one song from the next incarnation of the band (known as the Elysian Field, not to be confused with the dream-pop band or the black-metal band named Elysian Fields). The music ranged from Beatles-influenced pop, garage rock, and surf-styled instrumentals to Motown soul and psychedelic rock. 

Throughout their entire career the band was constantly experimenting and progressing as the times changed. Soul Inc. split in 1969, with three members forming the Elysian Field while Wayne Young kept the Soul Inc. moniker and continued the band for a short time with various lineups. Sadly, by the end of 1969, Soul Inc. was no more. In 1999, Young reunited with the original band members and recorded a new Soul Inc. album. The sound quality on this CD is for the most part excellent, and is taken from master tapes where possible. With the release of this second compilation of Soul Inc.'s singles, the band's musical history has finally been completely documented. 
by Keith Pettipas

1. Connection (Mick Jagger, Keith Richards) - 2:45
2. Nothing But A Dream (Frank Bugbee, Jim Settle, Wayne Young) - 3:05
3. In The Midnight Hour (Wilson Pickett Jr., Steve Cropper) - 2:27
4. Hanging Out My Tears (Cannon Paul Wil, Holbert Thomas) -  3.14
5. Laryngitis (Marvin Maxwell, Wayne Young) - 2:27
6. Don't You Go (Kenny Smith) - 3:04
7. Love Me When I'm Down (Jim Settle, Wayne Young) - 2:07
8. When I Stopped Dreaming (Jim Settle, Wayne Young) - 2:28
9. Alligator (Marvin Maxwell, Jim Orten, Tom Jolly, Wayne Young) - 2.15
10.Soul Jam (Marvin Maxwell, Wayne Young) - 2:34 
11.Hanging Out My Tears (Cannon Paul Wil, Holbert Thomas) - 3:15
12.Stronger Than Dirt #3 (P. Wiliams, B. Busha) - 1:59
13.In The Midnight Hour (Wilson Pickett Jr., Steve Cropper) - 2:29
14.Satisfied (Barry Man, Cynthia Weil) - 2:42
15.Ready. Willing, And Able (Bob Stone) - 3:17
16.Get It Right With Your Man (Stanley E. Flaharty) - 2:21
17.Mother Hate (Dennis Ledford) - 2:47

Soul Inc
*Jim Orten - Bass, Vocals
*Tom Jolly - Trumpet
*Wayne Young - Guitar 
*Jim Settle - Bass, Vocals
*Marvin Maxwell - Drums
*Frank Bugbee - Guitar
*Denny Lile - Bass
*Eddie Humphries - Saxophone

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Monday, December 4, 2023

Dead Sea Fruit - Dead Sea Fruit (1967 uk, extraordinary beat psych, 2017 reissue)

In April 1967, Record Mirror's 'Names & Faces' column introduced Dead Sea Fruit. 'The Dead Sea Fruit used to be known as Some Sloane Squares, their first record is Kensington High Street / Put Another Record On, and they're on the Camp label,' it ran. 'So far, so good. They are gentlemen who met through an advertisement in the Times, no less. They worked the debutante circuit, making money, then went to the South of France. There's an LP on the way by this rather unusually talented outfit, which comprises lead vocalist Clive Foster Kennedy, a Freeman of the City of London, lead guitarist David Lashmar, who started up with skiffle, Simon Winsloe Clifford, who plays organ and is a jazz fan, bassist Christopher Hall, who was once a solicitor, and drummer John Errington-Townsend, who used to go to Portsmouth Grammar School (where also went Paul Jones)?

The band had formed the previous year. After briefly being known as Some Sloane Squares, they adopted the more modish moniker Dead Sea Fruit, after a line in Thomas Moore's 1817 romantic poem Lalla-Rookh: 'Like Dead Sea fruits, that tempt the eye / But turn to ashes on the lips!' were promptly arrested for wearing carnival clothes on a non-carnival day – though I fact  was just their standard hippie attire, Thereafter they found some success playing covers  in  local clubs, and more widely around; France, A good-humored, highly theatrical act more in the vein of the New Vaudeville Band than their more psychedelic peers, they recorded for the local Disquez A-Z label, and had a big hit with the old-timey Loulou, Put Another Record On To promote it, they made some TV appearances (which can be seen online), involving a strikingly long trumpet invented by Kennedy One appearance was with Salvador Dali.

Back in the UK in early 1967, they signed to the new Polydor offshoot label Camp, who put out their debut single in March. The disc c id not prove a hit, but an album ensued, which appeared in April 'Dead Sea Fruit's first album chalks up the first LP release from Camp Records, and really they needn't have bothered,' wrote Disc & Music Echo.

`Musically the group seem to fall somewhere East of Winchester Cathedral and considerably West of Waterloo and its sunsets. They should have got together before making any tapes, and decided what sort of music they were going to play. The album is further distinguished by a nauseatingly pretentious sleeve note.' Sales were pool; and the release of their single in the US (on Atlantic's Atco subsidiary) in June did nothing to alter their profile. On Friday 30th of that month they supported psychedelic legends Tomorrow at the UFO club in London (along with the Knack), but didn't play many gigs in the UK. They did, however, perform in front of Jimi Hendrix and Paul McCartney in their time. September saw the release of their second and final UK 45, Love At The Hippiedrome / My Naughty Bluebell. Around this time Hall departed, and was replaced by Arthur Marsh. Before long, Kennedy and Clifford decided to return to the UK from their French base, upon which Lashmar, Townsend and Marsh accepted a residency in a club in Dakar, Senegal. However, when it became clear that the club only wanted them to play covers, the band splintered.
CD Liner-notes

1. The 8.15 And The 5.45 (David Lashmar) - 2:07
2. Put Another Record On (Clive Kennedy) - 3:06
3. Psychiatric Case (Christopher Hall) - 2:09
4. Mr. Barman (Clive Kennedy) - 3:30
5. Matters (David Lashmar) - 3:39
6. Seeds Of Discontent (David Lashmar) - 3:28
7. I'll Come With You (David Lashmar) - 2:20
8. I've Been Away Too Long (Clive Kennedy) - 2:42
9. Mr. Coffee Pot (David Lashmar) - 1:58
10.Time Waits For No One (Clive Kennedy) - 3:55
11.I Should Have Guessed (Clive Kennedy) - 3:28
12.Kensington High Street (John Townsend) - 2:05

Dead Sea Fruit
*Clive Kennedy - Vocals
*Dave "Beano" Lashmar - Guitar, Vocals
*John Townsend - Bass, Percussion, Vocals
*Si Clifford - Organ, Piano
*Christopher Hall - Electric Bass, Guitar, Vocals