segunda-feira, 25 de junho de 2018

Spirit - Clear 1969

Although this album may not be seen as the definitive Spirit statement, it has several moments of brilliance that prove what a revolutionary band they were. Coming off of the success of The Family That Plays Together and "I Got a Line on You," the group entered the studio with Lou Adler once again in the producer's chair. Unfortunately, the group appeared to be beginning to fragment, and it shows on this uneven but ultimately fine album. "Dark Eyed Woman" opens the album with promise, and it is indeed one of Spirit's hardest-rocking studio performances. Randy California's inspired guitar solo is one of the finest performances of the period. The riff and general feel of the track (right down to the siren sound effects) were borrowed by Traffic on "Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory." The record tends to go downhill from there (primarily due to some uninspired songwriting), but is not without its high points, like "Cold Wind" and the awesome closer "New Dope in Town." AMG.

listen here

Steamhammer - MK II 1970

The second version of the British combo Steamhammer released its first LP utilizing the talents of Steve Davy (bass), Martin Pugh (guitars), and Kieran White (vocals/guitar/harmonica/Jew's harp) from the original band as well as new recruits Steve Jolliffe (woodwind/brass/harpsichord/vocals) and Mick Bradley (drums). It was the blues that initially drove the combo on its debut long-player, Reflection (1969), likewise known as Junior's Wailing. This lineup adds more exploratory and intricate melodies, courtesy of the multi-instrumental talents and sonic sculpting of future Tangerine Dream member Jolliffe. While this version of the band would not remain past this album, its unique fusion would arguably peak on Mountains (1970), the follow-up to MK II (1969). There are definite shapes of things to come throughout this effort, thanks to the aggressive interaction of the new recruits. They immediately step up to the plate, providing a variety of interesting melodic and instrumental textures. These range from the full-speed gallop of Jolliffe's "Johnny Carl Morton" or the Baroque waltz "Turn Around" -- both of which are punctuated by some prominent harpsichord interjections reminiscent of other U.K. progressive groups such as Family and Blossom Toes. Pugh's guitar work is another of the band's conspicuous assets, as he is able to fluidly waft between the acoustic romanticism of the diminutive "Sunset Chase" to the bluesy and tongue-in-cheek "Contemporary Chick Con Song." The latter track includes a stretched-out instrumental jam that captures Pugh's criminally underrated electric fretwork. Steamhammer's various and seemingly disparate musical elements coalesce on the manic "6/8 for Amiran." They blend the complexities inherent in the time signature with a tightly executed and churning blues -- much in the same way that early Jethro Tull was able to do on sides such as "Nothing Is Easy" or "For Our Mothers." The second side consists of a suite containing "Down Along the Grove," "Another Travelling Tune," and "Fran and Dee Take a Ride." This 16-plus minute epic allows Steamhammer to improvise and stretch out. The open structure makes room for the various musical styles to be thoroughly explored with more intricacy than a majority of the three- and four-minute tunes. The double lead electric guitars, courtesy of the song's co-authors, Pugh and White, blend well with Jolliffe's jazzy sax and flute improvisations. Enthusiasts are encouraged not only to seek this platter, but the Mountains (1970) follow-up as well. AMG.

listen here

Barbara Acklin - Love Makes A Woman 1968

Always classy and elegant, Barbara Acklin's debut album, Love Makes a Woman could survive on the reputation of the title track alone. One of the premier recordings of writer/producer Carl Davis, "Love Makes a Woman" features the bright horns and relaxed rhythms that are hallmarks of his productions for the Brunswick label. Coupled with Acklin's tense, confident delivery, the results are one of pop-soul's true shining moments. Well-written originals here, like "Be By My Side" and "Come and See Me Baby," more than stand up to covers from the Bacharach/David canon, making this one of the most solid soul debuts ever released. AMG.

listen here

Camel - Mirage 1974

With their second album, MirageCamel begin to develop their own distinctive sound, highlighted by the group's liquid, intricate rhythms and the wonderful, unpredictable instrumental exchanges by keyboardist Pete Bardens and guitarist Andy LatimerCamel also distinguish themselves from their prog rock peers with the multi-part suite "Lady Fantasy," which suggests the more complex directions they would take a few albums down the line. Also, Latimer's graceful flute playing distinguishes several songs on the record, including "Supertwister," and it's clear that he has a more supple technique than such contemporaries as Ian AndersonCamel are still ironing out some quirks in their sound on Mirage, but it's evident that they are coming into their own. AMG.

listen here

B.B. King - Live At The Regal 1965

B.B. King is not only a timeless singer and guitarist, he's also a natural-born entertainer, and on Live at the Regal the listener is treated to an exhibition of all three of his talents. Over percolating horn hits and rolling shuffles, King treats an enthusiastic audience (at some points, they shriek after he delivers each line) to a collection of some of his greatest hits. The backing band is razor-sharp, picking up the leader's cues with almost telepathic accuracy. King's voice is rarely in this fine of form, shifting effortlessly between his falsetto and his regular range, hitting the microphone hard for gritty emphasis and backing off in moments of almost intimate tenderness. Nowhere is this more evident than at the climax of "How Blue Can You Get," where the Chicago venue threatens to explode at King's prompting. Of course, the master's guitar is all over this record, and his playing here is among the best in his long career. Displaying a jazz sensibility, King's lines are sophisticated without losing their grit. More than anything else, Live at the Regal is a textbook example of how to set up a live performance. Talking to the crowd, setting up the tunes with a vignette, King is the consummate entertainer. Live at the Regal is an absolutely necessary acquisition for fans of B.B. King or blues music in general. A high point, perhaps even the high point, for uptown blues. AMG.

listen here

Akira Ishikawa & Count Buffalo - Uganda 1972

Akira Ishikawa had a mission. He wanted to find the eternal now of rhythm. After a mind-blowing trip to Africa in 1970, the Japanese percussionist had a goal — true Afro-delic Acid Rock. He hooked up with composer Muroaka Takeru and this album was born in 1971. Awash in minimalist percussion — at times sounding like a field recording of a commune or some street performers — the album devolves into primitive heavy acid rock and throbbing seriousness. Ishikawa's intense personal vision and mission is no record-collector curiosity. This beauty deserves our attention.
Long known to collectors of bizarre Japanese psychedelic/heavy rock (see Cope, Julian), Uganda became something of a mystery and a holy grail. The album screams, too. It stumbles into that same primal early rock, excuse me, RAWK place that bands like Leaf Hound, The Edgar Broughton Band, and Australia's Buffalo ended up. In fact, this record comes off like a recording of the jam sessions that led to the riffs and beats of the James Gang's "Funk #49" but without all that familiarity from FM radio. Famed guitarist Mizutani Kimio trades monster licks with rambling percussion, an impressive drum kit (Ishikawa) and lots of moaning and throb.

listen here

The Chocolate WatchBand - No Way Out 1967

The Chocolate Watchband's debut album, No Way Out was also their most heavily Rolling Stones-influenced album, but appreciating the album and what's on it (and what's not) requires some explanation. Released in September of 1967, No Way Out came at the end of the band's first 15 months of existence, a period that encompassed the recording and release of four singles of generally extraordinary quality, and as good as anything heard from any garage band anywhere during that period. Just two of those single tracks, "Are You Gonna Be There (At the Love-In)" and "No Way Out," ended up on the original ten-track LP, but even they could (and should) have been the core of an immensely powerful LP. Instead, out of the remaining songs, only two -- the group's nicely cranked-up version of Chuck Berry's "Come On" and the psychedelic Bo Diddley-based "Gone and Passes By" -- were recorded by the entire group and released in the form intended. The other six tracks included Watchband recordings, such as "Let's Talk About Girls," "In the Midnight Hour," and "Hot Dusty Road," on which lead singer David Aguilar's vocals had been replaced by those of session singer Don Bennett(co-author of the band's single "Are You Gonna Be There (At the Love-In)") and also embellished with extra instrumental overdubs; two instrumentals, "Expo 2000" and "Dark Side of the Mushroom," recorded by a group of studio musicians put together by engineer Richie Podolor; and, finally, the bizarre "Gossamer Wings," a psychedelic digression by Bennett and company that used the band's basic track from the 1966 single B-side "Loose Lip Sync Ship" as its jumping-off point. So what's here is not really representative of the Chocolate Watchband that was seen in the movie Riot on Sunset Strip, or heard on those four killer singles in 1966 and early 1967. All of that said, No Way Out is still an extremely impressive and enduring album that nicely straddles the garage punk and psychedelic genres; the four tracks cut by the band themselves are all highly potent, slashing, exciting, clever pieces of music. "Gone and Passes By" and "No Way Out" are sharp works of psychedelic punk music, the former mixing sitar music with a shimmering Bo Diddley beat to superbly seductive effect, while the latter is built on a twisting, jagged blues- and raga-based lead guitar line that recalls the late-1966 vintage Jefferson Airplane's work. And "Are You Gonna Be There (At the Love-In)" is a stirring, even threatening anthem to youthful defiance. Of the rest, "Let's Talk About Girls" is still a very good track and a killer opener for the album, despite the tampering by the producers, and "In the Midnight Hour" and "Hot Dusty Road" are not too far behind. As for the instrumentals, "Dark Side of the Mushroom" and "Expo 2000" are decent filler, even if they have nothing to do with the band. So the record, though flawed from day one of its release history, is still an essential '60s album in any collection. AMG.

listen here

Ahora Mazda - Ahora Mazda 1970

This delightful Dutch band had its roots in 1965, when Rob van Wageningen (flute, saxophone) and Peter (bass) and Winky Abbink (drums) brothers played together in a band called Free Art Group, along with other musicians. This band played music, mostly inspired by classic and avant-garde jazz musicians, namely, Ornette Coleman, Sun Ra and John Coltrane.

In 1968, they were joined by Tony Schreuder in bass, renaming themselves Group 67/68, and Peter Abbink switching to guitar. During concerts in Felix Meritis they met Ruud Tegelaar, manager of center Fantasio, who offered them to become the house band in Fantasio. They also changed their name once again to Ahora Mazda, a corrupt version of the chief deity of Zoroastrianism, Ahura Mazda. (Zarathustra religion is also called "Mazdaizm.) The name was suggested by Tegelaar.
The band was known for their long jam sessions, but they recorded shorter and more arranged songs for their self-titled debut (and only) album. The album was recorded in three days and released on May 31, 1970.
During the next year, Tony Schreuder and Winky Abbink had some problems playing and rehearsing. At concerts they needed the help of substitute musicians, like guitarist Jan Landkroon and Michiel Krijnen. Abbink was replaced by Paul van Wageningen, who played drums in Groep 1850. Because of these difficulties and the lack of atmosphere that came with the substitutes the band ceased to exist.
Their music is a reflection of the "spacy" music (as implied by the name of the first track in the album) in Netherlands, yet, they owe more to the Kosmische Music scene of Germany than the symphonic approach of their fellow countrymen such as Focus, and of those which were yet to come, like Kayak and Finch. Though the tracks are relatively short (the longest clocking shortly over 9 minutes), they still retain the "jamming" and "experimental" features, which are landmarks of the kosmische Krautrock sound. The CD reissue adds 5 shorter bonus tracks, which still have the same characteristics. Progarchives.

listen here

R.B. Greaves - R.B. Greaves 1969

By far the best release of his short career, that claim doesn't say much for Greaves, because this record is as sporadic as they come. Containing the self-penned sing-along hit "Take a Letter Maria," at points Greaves shows signs of developing into a successful pop songwriter. Yet, just as the salsa-flavored horns on "...Maria" leave you smiling, Greaves' reading of Sam Cooke's "Cupid" and the Bacharach-David classic "Always Something There to Remind Me" leave the listener frustrated. It seems his voice is never as smooth as a pop singer, never as gritty as an R&B singer, and the middle ground he treads is devoid of any true feeling. Even the fact that the album was produced by Ahmet Ertegun and recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound cannot make up for the lack of emotional conviction in Greaves' voice. AMG.

listen here

Ralph MacDonald - Sound of a Drum 1976

New York session great and longtime Harry Belafonte percussionist Ralph MacDonald made his solo debut with Sound of a Drum, successfully fusing the strong Latin flavor of his previous work with the funk and disco sounds dominating clubs in bicentennial America. The title is no misnomer -- each song is a showcase for MacDonald's blistering percussion talents, but he never loses the humility and instincts of a sideman, allowing an expert cast including Grover Washington, Jr.Bob James, and Toots Thielemans their own turns in the spotlight as well. The eight-minute "Calypso Breakdown" is by far the best-known cut here, thanks to its inclusion on the mega-selling Saturday Night Fever soundtrack -- it remains a monster groove that's dated much better than many disco-era instrumentals, thanks in large part to William Eaton's clever, jazz-inspired arrangement and Eric Gale's ferocious guitar solo. AMG.

listen here

Ache - Green Man 1971

The seeds for Ache were sown in the early 60's via the Danish beat group The Harlows. When Harlows Torsten Olafsson (bass), Peter Mellin (organ) and Glenn Fischer (drums) were joined by former Mckenzie Set guitarist Finn Olafsson in 1968, Ache was born.

They spent the next two years working on an extended piece called "De Homine Urbano", which was released as programme music to an experimental "rock ballet" in 1970. Released on the Philips label the same year with an accompanying single of non-album tracks, it netted positive reviews in the Danish press. Ache's "rock theater" created something of a sensation in the rock underground, and "Green Man" followed in 1971. The next major Ache project, by a revised six-piece version of the band, was a conceptual work called "Pictures From Cyclus 7", written in collaboration with lyricist Bo Lillesöe in 1975 and released one year later.

Ache have remained active on and off, albeit sporadically, ever since. Their only other major work (i.e.: not counting singles and compilations) has been "Blå som altid", a folk-oriented album released in 1978.

listen here

49th Parallel - 49th Parallel 1969

49th Parallel was one of an unusual breed of garage punk bands to come out of Canada in the mid-'60s. Originally known as the Shades of Blond when they were formed in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, the band featured Dennis Abbott on vocals, Dan Lowe and Bob Carlson on guitars, Dave Petch at the organ, Mick Woodhouse on bass, and Terry Bare on drums. The band was signed to Gaiety Records and made their debut in mid-1967 with "Labourer," a piece of hard-edged garage punk, laden with fuzz-tone guitar and a defiant sneer, that sold moderately well in Canada. Their second single, "Blue Bonnie Blue" (co-written by a then-unknown Delaney Bramlettabout the equally unknown Bonnie Bramlett, no less) had more of a lyrical folk-rock feel, though it kept its sharp edge in the singing and lyrics. Around this time, Woodhouse exited the lineup and was succeeded by Dave Downey on bass; he was later replaced by Alf Cook, and Dennis Mundy (and later Jack Velker) succeeded Petch on organ. In the spring of 1969, they finally had a national hit in Canada with "Twilight Woman," which charted in parts of the United States as well, and sounded like a poppier, slightly folkier version of the sound that bands like Tomorrow were generating in England.
The group was never able to capitalize on the success of "Twilight Woman" and its follow-up, "Now That I'm a Man," however, in part because they were unable to hold their lineup together. Lead singer Dennis Abbott quit after their release, and in the course of changing personnel -- with Doran Beattie replacing him -- their sound changed. By 1970, the group had changed its name to Painter. The latter group scored a modest hit with "West Coast Woman" and its follow-up, "Crazy Feeling," before the band was renamed Hammersmith in the early to mid-'70s. They, in turn, issued a pair of singles, "Feelin' Better" and "Late Night Lovin' Man." At their best, 49th Parallel had a hard, cutting sound that could have put them in the front ranks of garage punk bands, their slashing guitars and swirling organ around Abbott's lead vocals making a compelling and memorable sound, which was easily adaptable to psychedelic punk. Their slow ballads were suitably spacey in a pop/rock vein, but it was their harder numbers that hold up best. Like a lot of '60s bands, they outlived their era and metamorphosed into new shapes and directions. Guitarist Dan Lowe later made a fortune in the field of multimedia sound design, as the inventor of Q-Sound. AMG.

listen here

domingo, 25 de fevereiro de 2018

Roscoe Mitchell - Nonaah 1977

1976-1977. This is one of Mitchell's best solo statements. It includes a full-side treatment of the title cut, solo works, duos, and an incredible alto number with MitchellHenry Threadgill (as), Joseph Jarman(reeds), and the undervalued Wallace McMillan (b). AMG

listen here

Phoebe Snow - Second Childhood 1976

Although it lacked a hit single to match "Poetry Man," Phoebe Snow's second album was another folk-pop-jazz confection that effectively showcased her one-of-a-kind voice in musical settings featuring the cream of New York's session musicians, and produced by Phil Ramone. It was a classy job on which Snow contributed seven originals and displayed her versatility on covers ranging from Motown to Gershwin. AMG.

listen here

Baker Gurvitz Army - Elysian Encounter 1975

The Baker Gurvitz Army was a British rock group formed in late 1974 by drummer Ginger Baker, formerly of Cream, and brothers Adrian (guitar) and Paul Gurvitz (bass), formerly of Gun. The band was filled out by vocalist Snips and keyboard player Peter Lemer. They released three albums between 1974 and 1976, the most successful of which was their self-titled debut, which charted in the U.K. and the U.S. AMG. 

listen here