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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.


Sunday, June 30, 2024

Ted Lucas - Ted Lucas (1975 us, wonderful folk rock, 2010 korean remaster)

Yoga Records, in collaboration with Riverman, are hitting it out of the park in their first year. It seems a shame I haven’t heard this record before, as it’s an easy new favorite. Ted Lucas got his start playing in a Detroit folk revival band called The Spike-Drivers, eventually leaving to form other groups The Misty Wizards, Horny Toads, and the Boogie Disease. While he was a respected figure in Michigan’s folk and rock scene, his self-titled solo album (recorded largely in his attic studio during 1974) failed to break beyond local recognition.

The promo sticker nails the sound, placing Ted Lucas next to legends John Fahey, Nick Drake, and Skip Spence. It’s a right on comparison when you hear what this album has to offer. Each side of the record is plainly its own thing; Side A being a suite of six perfectly sweet folk originals and Side B containing an instrumental, an extended blues jam, and an 8-minute raga. The first three tracks have melodies that seamlessly weave in your head on first or second listen. “I’ll Find A Way” is the sleeper knockout, tucking in after the record’s gorgeous three song opener: “Plain & Sane & Simple Melody,” “It’s So Easy,” and “Now That I Know.” These tunes are so easy to love and will have no trouble lodging comfortably in your head. 

I can’t contain how much I dig the side A closer “It Is So Nice To Get Stoned,” especially when “Sonny Boy Blues” on side B warns “you better stop drinking that wine.” Arrangements are sparse, an acoustic guitar gracefully ornamented with sitar drones (Lucas played uncredited sitar on the Tempations’ “Psychedelic Shack”) and delicate electric fingerpicking, with some auto-harp and tasteful percussion elsewhere. For a lost psych-folk record, the sound is remarkably current.

Comes in a faithfully reproduced LP-style package, with a facsimile of the original insert, new liners and a save-worthy protective cover. Yoga just might make the CD format cool again! Even so, I might have to spring for the vinyl. The insert, by the way, is wonderful, showcasing a badass t-shirt with Stanley Mouse’s cover design and contains the lyrics and chords to the songs on the first side. Got to be one of the best reissues of the year.
by Brendan McGrath, September 28th, 2010

1. Plain Andane Andimple Melody - 2:40
2. It's So Easy (When You Know What You're Doing) - 2:58
3. Now That I Know - 2:30
4. I'll Find A Way (To Carry It All) - 3:29
5. Baby Where You Are - 2:37
6. It Is So Nice To Get Stoned - 4:25
7. Robins Ride - 3:25
8. Sonny Boy Blues - 7:18
9. Love And Peace Raga - 7:51
All songs by Ted Lucas

*Ted Lucas - Guitar, Vocals
*Carol Lucido - Tambura
*Danny Ballas - Congas

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Thursday, June 27, 2024

Kate Taylor - Kate Taylor (1978 us, wonderful soulful folk soft rock, 2006 japan remaster)

Like her famous brother James, folksinger Kate Taylor has shared a love for music since she could remember. Her roots in rockabilly and pop flesh out her connection to the classic Appalachian stylings she's known to perform. She formed her first band at 15 and had a solo deal with Atlantic four years later; Sister Kate marked her debut in 1971. 

A self-titled sophomore effort appeared in 1978, showcasing production work by brother James and Barry Beckett (Alabama, J.J. Cale, Bob Dylan). Kate Taylor was an impressive piece of work; however, 1979's It's in There didn't fare as well. From here, Taylor took a break from the music industry. She resurfaced in 2003 after a 23-year sabbatical to release Beautiful Road. This particular album is a personal one for Taylor. Her longtime manager and husband, Charlie Witham, became ill during its recording and died several months prior to Beautiful Road's April 2003 release. Beautiful Road was dedicated to him. 
by MacKenzie Wilson

1. A Fool In Love (Ike Turner) - 3:36
2. Smuggler's Song (Clay Jackson, Ethan Signer) - 2:43
3. Harriet Tubman (Walter Robinson) - 3:33
4. Stubborn Kind Of Woman (George Gordy, Marvin Gaye, William Stevenson) - 4:03
5. Happy Birthday Sweet Darling (James Taylor) - 3:00
6. It's In His Kiss (The Shoop, Shoop Song) (Rudy Clark) - 2:43
7. Slow And Steady (James Taylor, Zach Wiesner) - 3:22
8. It's Growing (William Robinson, Warren Moore) - 2:54
9. Tiah's Cove (Charlie Witham) - 2:50
10.Rodeo (Livingston Taylor) - 3:20
11.Jason And Ida (Duane Giesemann, Kate Taylor) - 2:28

*Kate Taylor - Vocals
*Kenny Ascher - Piano
*Rubens Bassini - Percussion
*Errol "Crusher" Bennett - Percussion
*Kenneth Bichel - Piano
*Randy Brecker - Trumpet, Tenor Saxophone
*Don Brooks - Harmonica
*Ron Carter - Bass
*Ronnie Cuber - Baritone Saxophone
*Jessy Dixon - Backing Vocals
*Cornell Dupree - Guitar
*Steve Ferrone - Drums
*Steve Gadd - Drums
*Don Grolnick - Organ, Piano
*John Hall - Backing Vocals
*Elsa Harris - Backing Vocals
*Bingo Hodges - Backing Vocals
*Will Lee - Bass
*Tony Levin - Bass
*Ralph Macdonald - Percussion
*Arif Mardin - Strings, Arranger
*Lou Marini - Tenor Saxophone
*Onnie McIntyre - Guitar
*Jeff Mironov - Guitar
*Gary Mure - Drums
*Alan Rubin - Trumpet
*David Sanborn - Alto Saxophone
*Carly Simon - Backing Vocals
*David Spinozza - Arranger, Horn
*Alex Taylor - Backing Vocals
*David Taylor - Trombone
*James Taylor - Guitar, Horn, Backing Vocals
*Richard Tee - Piano
*David Tofani - Tenor Saxophone

Sunday, June 23, 2024

Strife - Back To Thunder (1977-78 uk, stunning hard rock, 2021 remaster and expanded)

Liverpool based three piece Strife emerged during the mid-seventies amassing a strong live following on the club circuit and releasing an impressive debut album 'Rush' on the Chrysalis label. It was a work of intriguing possibilities, embracing both progressive and harder rock. Their songs were long and convoluted yet also signalled a penchant for melody and purpose that elevated them above the run of the mill units operating at the same time. Sadly, their label failed to recognise the potential and allowed the band to slip between the cracks, and ultimately, due to a contractual production dispute, the band was left in limbo.

Despite facing almost overwhelming odds, the band managed to eventually pick themselves up and negotiated a new record deal with the Gull label, the same outfit that signed Judas Priest and released their first two albums. The resulting Strife album, 'Back To Thunder', was as impressive as their debut, but less flamboyant and more focussed. Indeed, if it wasn't for the fact that they were just ahead of the rejuvenated interest in British hard rock (the NWOBHM) they could well have been sitting comfortably as one of the key acts operating on the scene.

Housing eight tracks, the album boasts a number of standout compositions, including 'Feel So Good', 'Shockproof, 'Sky' and the intriguingly titled 'Fool Injected Overlap'. All solid, punchy hard rock tracks that saw the band embrace a new stylistic approach whilst keeping their progressive rock influences proudly on display. Housed in one of the era's most attractive album sleeves, the record also boasts the appearance of keyboard wizard Don Airey, who was at the time a member of progressive giants Collosseum II."
by Derek Oliver

1. Shockproof - 3:34
2. Let Me Down - 5:15
3. Feel So Good - 2:51
4. Sky - 6:07
5. You Are What You Are - 3:53
6. Red Sun (Gordon Rowley) - 3:33
7. Fool Injected Overlap - 6:32
8. Weary Traveller - 3:50
9. You Don't Know - 2:54
10.School - 4:08
11.Go - 2:33
12.Unknown - 4:36
All songs by John Reid except where indicated
Bonus Tracks 9-12

*Gordon Rowley - Bass, Gong, Vocals
*John Reid - Vocals, Guitar
*David Williams - Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals
*Don Airey - Keyboards (Tracks 4,7,8)

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Shawn Phillips - Do You Wonder (1975 us, elegant prog folk rock)

As a fan of Shawn Phillips. it couldn't be missing from my collection, his misunderstood but beautiful album, "Do you wonder", released in 1975,  an attempt by Shawn to go into different sonic realms, funky rhythms, excellent arrangements -as always-, great horns. All these in a high perfomance standarts.

1. Do You Wonder - 2:57
2. Xasper - 5:12
3. City To City - 3:19
4. Blunt And Frank - 2:49
5. Believe In Life - 5:50
6. As All I Played- Maestoso-Intermezzo-Tristesse - 6:44
7. Golden Flower - 4:26
8. Looking At The Angel - 4:51
9. Summer Vignette - 4:53
All compositions by Shawn Phillips, except "Intermexxo" written by Peter Robinson

*Shawn Phillips - Guitar, Vocals
*Oren Waters - Backing Vocals
*Max Bennett - Bass
*Mike Baird - Drums
*Robben Ford - Guitar
*Peter Robinson - Piano, Synthesizer
*Jim Keltner - Drums
*John Guerin - Drums
*Don Menza - Saxophone
*Maxine Willard Waters - Backing Vocals
*Brandy Bento - Bass
*Luther Waters - Backing Vocals
*Findley Brothers - Brass
*Ben Benay - Guitar
*Julia Tillman Waters - Backing Vocals
*Jim Horn - Arrangements, Recorder, Saxophone
*Chuck Findley - Trombone

1970  Shawn Phillips - Contribution / Second Contribution (2009 remaster)
1971  Shawn Phillips - Collaboration
1969-72  Shawn Phillips - Faces (2014 remaster) 

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Karakorum - Prison Bitterness (1969 uk, extraordinary psych prog rock, 2021 digi sleeve release)

For many reasons 1969 was a remarkable year and the beginning of a hugely exciting new era for me....

Kingsley Ward (co-founder of Rockfield Studios) had asked if I would check out a new band that had been bugging him all summer. He wanted to help them and knew they offered something quite different. I first met Karakorum at their next rehearsal within a dilapidated chapel located in the grounds of Harewood Park (Herefordshire).

Of course the music on this album will speak for itself, but on that day, I was instantly blown away not only by their undoubted individual talent as musicians but also because they were each fearlessly original, creative and engagingly different. The band gradually became one of the most intriguing acts to play many of the University/College venues, concert halls and British club circuits - notably London's iconic Marquee Club and the famous Liverpool Cavern Club. It soon became apparent that Paul, James, Martin, and later Rich, were individually unique. They soon began to gain acknowledgements from fellow musicians.

The club/pub scene in London traditionally provided a 'shop window' for A&R reps to discover the latest 'happening' bands. Karakorum was indeed such a band but despite having generated a lot of curiosity and interest, the record industry was not quite ready for them. As time went on, the band's response was to consider changing musical direction. Ultimately, we drifted apart.

Karakorum was an exceptional band and the British music industry had clearly missed out on signing what I still believe would have become one of the UK's finest bands. I'm delighted that after all these years and through this album their creative spirit and musical genius has been allowed to surface once again.
by John Vigar

1. Arnold Collins In Drag - 3:46
2. Living My Life - 3:01
3. Prison Bitterness - 4:07
4. Breakfast - 5:22
5. When The War Is Over - 4:34
All songs by James Williams, Martin Chambers, Paul Cobbold

*James Williams - Guitar, Vocals
*Martin Chambers - Drums
*Paul Cobbold - Bass, Keyboards

Sunday, June 9, 2024

Mark LeVine - Pilgrims Progress (1968 us, awesome trippy acid psych folk rock feat. Ry Cooder, 2007 digipak remaster)

Mark LeVine is an opportunist, taking advantage of this year 1968, discographically blank for his mentor Bob Dylan, to follow in his footsteps. "Pilgrims progress" could have been a logical continuation of the masterpiece "John Wesley Harding" - 1967 as Dylan's shadow haunts these 12 compositions.

The album's title appears to be a nod to John Bunyan's Christian short story and allegory "The Pilgrim's Progress from this world to that which is to come" - 1678-1684. But here there is no question of virtue and puritanism: Mark Levine, draped in the trappings of the cursed poet, makes explicit reference to drugs and sex.

Among the studio musicians are a certain Ry Cooder, who no longer needs to be introduced, and the trio Jerry Scheff, Ben Benay and Toxey French, noted for having shared a few recording sessions with Curt Boettcher and publishing a obscure album under the name Goldenrod.

It's made with exactly the same features as Gentle Soul, and while that one has a soft rock or flowery feel, this one does away with excessive decoration, and has a finish that looks ahead to the singer-songwriter works of the 70s. It has become. Produced by Mike Deasy

1. Going To The Country - 4:21
2. Twenty-One Years Older Than Yesterday - 3:44
3. Dr. Grossman - 2:25
4. Purple Dreams Are Creepy - 3:22
5. The Love Song - 3:02
6. Richard Lee - 7:19
7. Miller's Crossing - 2:53
8. Texas Style - 6:37
9. Sure I Can Write - 4:53
10.Better Dad Than Dead - 5:19
11.Nothing More Is Nothing Less - 4:06
12.Periwinkle Blue - 2:27
Words and Music by Mark LeVine

*Mark Levine - Vocals, Rythm Guitar
*Ry Cooder - Acoustic Lead Guitar, Acoustic, Electric Bottleneck Guitar, Mandolin
*Michael Deasy - Acoustic, Electric Lead Guitar
*Joe Osborn - Bass
*Jerry Scheff - Bass
*Toxey French - Drums
*Paul Humphrey - Drums
*Larry Knechtel - Piano

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Redwing - Take Me Home (1973 us, fantastic dusty country rock, 2017 remaster)

A great record, with lots and lots of twang. They really upped the ante on their country bona fides: the album opens with the jaunty "Here I Go Again," an uptempo country-rock tune that's very reminiscent of the Gram Parsons-era Flying Burrito Brothers, followed by "Fast Locomotive," with some tight, funky chicken-picking guitar straight out of the Jerry Reed playbook, while the instrumental "Katy Warren Breakdown" showcases some awesome Joe Maphis-flavored flatpicking. 

Guitarists Andrew Samuels and Tom Phillips display a mastery of country picking that's head and shoulders above what most of the country-rockers were doing at the time, while guest fiddler Tiny Moore adds some sweet licks of his own, around Phillips' dazzling yet concise dobro and pedal steel. More conventional rock/pop riffs come into play on the boogie-funk of "Lost Highway" and the dreary slow-dance power ballad, "Our Day." 

As a viable regional band, Redwing might not have been able to set aside their hippie-pop and ballroom boogie roots, but even if those songs give the album an uneven feel, it's still packed with genuine gems. It's also worth noting that all the songs on here are originals, including the humorous, Doug Sahm-ish "Lowdown Samuel," co-written by fiddler-pianist Ed Bogas. If you're looking for a swell souvenir of the San Francisco country-rock scene at it's best, here it is. 

1. Here I Go Again (Ron Floegel, Tom Phillips) - 2:47
2. Fast Locomotive (Ron Floegel) - 2:18
3. Our Day (Andrew Samuels) - 3:30
4. Katy Warren Breakdown (Kay Warren, Arr By Tom Phillips) - 2:32
5. Lost Highway (Ron Floegel) - 3:54
6. Take Me Home (Tom Phillips) - 4:46
7. Lowdown Samuel (Orkin, Edgar Noel Bogas) - 3:32
8. The Maker's Chain (Andrew Samuels) - 4:12
9. Fingerlickin' (Tom Phillips) - 2:43
10.Burning Love (Ron Floegel) - 2:53

The Redwing
*Ron Floegel - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
*Tom Phillips - Lead Guitar, Electric Piano, Mandolin, Organ, Pedal Steel Guitar, Dobro
*George Hullin - Drums, Percussion, Vocals
*Andrew Samuels - Bass, Lead Guitar, Vocals
*John Myers - Bass
*Ed Bogas - Piano, Fiddle
*Dave Fraser - Piano
*Tiny Moore - Fiddle