domingo, 22 de março de 2020

Buzzy Linhart - Buzzy 1969

Linhart's debut album is a strange, unfocused affair, the kind of thing that would have only been issued by a major label in the late '60s. The singer varies between relatively short songs and way-extended workouts that mix folk with rock, Indian music (Big Jim Sullivan plays sitar), and even some mellotron. Linhart uses drawn-out blues-folk phrasing that owes quite a bit to Village folk-rockers like Tim Hardin and Fred Neil, and in fact a five-and-a-half-minute workout on Hardin's blues, "Yellow Cab," opens the LP. The ten-minute "Willie Jean" is next, and actually Phil Ryan's mellotron here gives the song an unusual lift that helps to differentiate what would otherwise be an OK but unremarkable anguished folk ballad. The 18-minute "Sing Joy" takes up most of side two, and its Indian-oriented improvisation gets tedious after a promising opening burst of ominous orchestral drone. When he milks that drone for an entire, albeit three-minute, song (the closing "End Song," overlaid with mellotron), the result is more interesting, recalling Fred Neil at his most despondent, but with freakier production. It's no mystery as to why Linhart favored these elastic, spontaneous-sounding folk/jazz/blues/Indian/rock fusions; he had no doubt played that kind of music when one of his bands, the Seventh Sons, backed Fred Neil live in the mid-'60s. Still, his singing, songwriting, and editing capabilities were not quite up to the point where he could shine on an album all his own. AMG.

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Arthur Brown's Kingdom Come - Kingdom Come 1972

This UK band was formed in 1971 by the eccentric Arthur Brown (b. Arthur Wilton-Brown, 24 June 1944, Whitby, Yorkshire, England), a vocalist who had achieved momentary commercial fame three years earlier with his memorable single, "Fire". This new venture was completed by Andrew Dalby (b. Gainsborough, England; guitar), Julian Paul Brown (b. Liverpool, England; synthesizer), Michael Harris (keyboards), Desmond Fisher (bass) and Martin Steer (drums), a line-up immortalized in the film Glastonbury Fayre. Their debut album, Galactic Zoo Dossier, was a radical, experimental set, and featured an extended version of "Space Plucks", a piece the singer had written for his previous band with organist Vincent Crane. This high standard was sadly not maintained on its follow-up, Kingdom Come, which relied on contemporary progressive styles and featured new bass player Phil Shutt. Harris and Steer were dropped from the band for Journey, on which Brown, Dalby and Shutt were joined by keyboardist Victor Peraino and a drum machine. Kingdom Come broke up completely when their founder embarked on an erratic solo career. AMG.

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Comus - First Utterance 1971

Comus' first album contains an imaginative if elusive brand of experimental folk-rock, with a tense and sometimes distressed vibe. Although there are elements of traditional British folk music, there's an edginess to the songwriting and arrangements that would be entirely alien in a Fairport Convention or Pentangle disc. At times, this straddles the border between folk-rock and the kind of songs you'd expect to be sung at a witches' brew fest, the haunting supernatural atmosphere enhanced by bursts of what sound like a theramin-like violin, hand drums, flute, oboe, ghostly female backup vocals, and detours into almost tribal rhythms. All of this might be making the album sound more attractive than it is; the songs are extremely elongated and fragmented, and the male vocals often have a grating munchkin-like quality, sometimes sounding like a wizened Marc Bolan. The lyrics are impenetrable musings, mixing pastoral scenes of nature with images of gore, torture, madness, and even rape, like particularly disturbing myths being set to music. It's been reissued on CD, but here's one case where you might want to get the LP reissue (on Get Back) instead, as it comes with a bonus 12" of three songs in a similar vein as their rare 1971 EP. AMG.

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Dave Mason & Cass Elliot - Dave Mason & Cass Elliot 1971

Ostensibly a Dave Mason solo album, this became one of his finest when he was coupled with Cass Elliot, a stroke of genius. Elliot's involvement is, while not suspect, somewhat limited. Although she provides excellent background vocals, she tends to get a little lost in the harmony stack. Nevertheless, this is a great moment for her too. The album, though, is propelled by Mason's awesome songwriting talents, and tracks such as "On and On," "Walk to the Point," and several others bear this out. His guitar playing is some of his finest recorded work, especially the epic "Glittering Facade," where he layers acoustic and electric guitars with a scintillating effect. Elliot's "Here We Go Again" showcases her ability as a great lead vocalist, and Paul Harris provides some excellent keyboard and string arrangements, providing a glimpse of the fine work that was to follow in Stephen StillsManassas. Overall, this was a highly underrated album, but in the end, it is also one of the finest from the '70s. AMG.

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Friendsound - Joyride 1969

Self-produced, 1969's "Friendsound" makes absolutely no attempt to go down the commercial road and to ours ears may deserve to be noted as one of the first real "jam" albums. It's also one of those rare instances where the liner notes are dead-on ... "A musical free-for-all ... The idea for Friendsound came to us when we were in the early stages of creating our first album. We rounded up all out musician friends in the area and headed for a recording studio to have a musical free-for-all." That pretty much says it all. Exemplified by material such as the title track and "Childhood's End", the six extended numbers were largely instrumental in nature. Credited as group compositions, songs such as "CHildsong" and "Empire of Light" are full of studio experimentation, including backward tapes, sound effects and acid-influenced ramblings. Raiders members Levin, Smith, and Volk were too grounded in top-40 pop to totally abandon such concepts as rhythm and melody, but it's pretty clear late night parting imbued them with a lot more freedom and creative latitude than your typical Paul Revere and the Raiders session.
Joyride is a celebrated item in psychedelic rock circles both for its predating of and similarity with krautrock styles of years later. From 1969, it's obviously not a surprise that this is a psychedelic album, although this avoids any pretense of being a pop album at all by concentrating on instrumental jams and studio experimentation, even on their shorter pieces. Influences must be vast, from Captain Beefheart to Iron Butterfly, from Vanilla Fudge to the Yardbirds, and from the Grateful Dead to Fifty Foot Hose. Joyride's similarity to music by bands like Group 1850 or Xhol Caravan is also surprising in such a light, pointing at aspects of the psychedelic jam session that would not come to such fruition until a few years later. Surely Anthem of the Sun could be considered a precursor in regards to studio trickery and experimentation, although there aren't a lot of other albums from the era that could be directly connected to Joyride.

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sexta-feira, 20 de março de 2020

V.A. - Glastonbury Fairie - The Electric Score 1972

A 1972 UK rock prog festival released at Glastonbury with some of the best acts at the moment.

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Little Feat - The Last Record Album 1975

The title of The Last Record Album isn't exactly accurate, but it cuts a lot closer than the band intended, for this really is the last album of the group's classic era. Starting here, leader Lowell George fades into the woodwork, and while the remainder of the group tries valiantly to keep the band afloat, the timing and the tension were too great. Musically, the group attempts to make Feats Don't Fail Me Now, Pt. 2, but the production from George is curiously flat, and, truth be told, the group just isn't inspired enough to make a satisfying album. For a very short album -- only eight songs -- too many of the cuts fall flat. Those that succeed, however, are quite good, particularly Paul Barrere and Bill Payne's gently propulsive "All That You Dream," Lowell George's beautiful "Long Distance Love," and the sublime "Mercenary Territory." Even these songs don't have the spark or character they would have had on the more organic Feats, due to George's exceedingly mellow SoCal production, which is pleasant but doesn't provide Little Feat with enough room to breathe. There are enough signs of Little Feat's true character on The Last Record Album -- the three previously mentioned songs are essential for any Feat fan -- to make it fairly enjoyable, but it's clear that the band is beginning to run out of steam. AMG.

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Garrett Lund - Almost Grown 1975

For over 25 years the Garrett Lund album is one of the most legendary West Coast pieces for collectors, truly a rare one! Originally recorded in 1975 at AM studios this is one of the finest productions for this genre. It amazingly reflects the blend of the early San Francisco groups such as Tripsicord Music Box, Quicksilver Messenger Service,  Kak ..etc, emotional singing and songwriting combined with great arrangements it reaches a unique feeling, cosmic and free!
The cover artwork by Garrett himself rounds off this artistic statement perfectly. In the early ‘70’s he was the singer in the L.A. group “The Caretakers”. This reissue is from the original master tapes and contains 5 unreleased bonus tracks (acoustic free-jam outtakes from a never-made second album).
Garrett Lund was and still is a mysterious person. From what is known, he was born in the early ’50s. His father deserted Garrett and his mother -before he was born- and in his teens, his beloved mother died. Garrett’s audition and acceptance as a member of The Caretakers, was a step up from his first local band to evolved into “Trane”, and became an instant success, playing the southwest of the US.
Trane appeared at numerous rock festivals and large clubs, opening for Led Zeppelin, Cream, Eric Burdon & The Animals, Jefferson Airplane and The Who. Almost immediately Trane was headlining their own –sold-out- shows. What happened then is unclear, except that Garrett began a solo career and three years after Trane completed “Almost Grown” which was promptly rejected by 22 record labels.
Convinced that the album could and should be an artistic and commercial success, Garrett’s manager/producer, along with friends and family, set out to independently release “almost Grown” with the help of record promoter, John Holcomb, succeeded in achieving rotation on nine radio stations and selling 2.000 units in less than two weeks. Armed with the independently released success, the record companies were once again given the chance to sign Garrett and once again they passed. Since then, there's virtually no information on “Almost Grown” or Garrett Lund until 2001.
World In Sound

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Mount Rushmore - High On Mount Rushmore 1968

Also-rans of the San Francisco psychedelic era, Mount Rushmore gigged frequently with fellow travelers Big Brother & the Holding CompanyCanned Heat, and Quicksilver Messenger Service, but this debut LP is evidence enough of why they aren't held in the same esteem. Mount Rushmore pumped out competent electric boogie with a boozy edge, but they coast on distortion and attitude rather than songcraft or instrumental prowess, placing them firmly in the garage band tradition but not among the trendsetters that shared their bills. The brief liner notes introduce the band as self-proclaimed "country boys" who "dig to take their funky grey truck on the road," and they sound like hicks too, full of confidence and bluster but possessing only the simplest of skills. Opening a debut LP with Jimi Hendrix's "Stone Free" is a bold move and a curious choice, establishing the territory that the band will mine and exactly how they measure up to the gold standard (in Mount Rushmore's case, nowhere near). However, High on Mount Rushmore contains some tracks of interest to the dedicated psych-rock historian. "I Don't Believe in Statues" closes out side one and functions as a manifesto of sorts, an indignant outsider cry set to charging riffs that sound like an Amboy Dukes record warped by the sun. The ten-minute epic "Looking Back" scores highest in rock action; plus, it features a crude but convincing space jam breakdown that boasts disoriented feedback, thunderstorm sound effects, and random hippie banter floating through the atmosphere. The LP concludes with a taste of Mount Rushmore's live act, as a small but enthusiastic audience joins the band in the studio to encourage their hammier tendencies. The resultant medley includes "Dope Song," a jokey jug band-style marijuana anthem, a boneheaded, boisterous singalong complete with kazoo and sure to irritate any hippie-hater. High On suffers from tinny sonics that sap volume and tone, and much of it sounds more like a demo than a finished album, but the low budget suits Mount Rushmore. In 2002, a European label called Lizard released a CD containing all of High on Mount Rushmore plus the sole follow-up LP, Mount Rushmore '69, but otherwise all of this obscure psych band's material has been difficult to find and not often sought out. Fans of UpBlue Cheer, and other Aquarius Age punks might hear music in Mount Rushmore's clumsy jams, but a full-fledged renaissance is unlikely beyond a minority of collectors. AMG.

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Tea & Symphony - Jo Sago 1970

Formed in Birmingham, England, this adventurous ensemble was part of the city’s Big Bear management stable. Although Tea And Symphony originally comprised James Langston (vocals, guitar), Jeff Daw (guitar) and Nigel Phillips (drums, ‘exotic’ instruments), they were often augmented by musicians from the agency including Bob Lamb and Mick Hincks from the group Locomotive. Tea And Symphony’s debut An Asylum For The Musically Insane, was an enchanting, if self-indulgent collection, but its period-piece madness was sadly jettisoned for the more formal follow-up, Jo Sago. Guitarists Bob Wilson and Dave Carroll were now part of the group’s fluid line-up, but the ensemble broke up in 1971 when both of these artists, and drummer Bob Lamb, joined the Idle Race. The three individuals remained with their new-found outlet when it became known as the Steve Gibbons Band. AMG.

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Ronnie McNeir - Ronnie McNeir 1972

Studio wiz Ronnie McNeir's one and only album for RCA -- his follow-up, another self-titled set released on Motown subsidiary Prodigal, didn't come until 1975 -- was laid down when the singer was in his early twenties. McNeir's combination of keyboard flair and sweet and low-key tenor was already in effect, as was a fully developed knack for the conceptual. These 11 songs aren't just sharply conceived songs of heartache and gratitude; they flow into and out of one another as a full piece, sometimes connected by brief interludes -- romantic dialogue with Kim Weston, for instance. A surprising level of maturity is there as well, with "Daddy's Coming Home" standing out the most in that respect. Deeply regretful about having to be away in order to provide, he addresses a son who is also caught in the middle of a broken relationship: "Me and your mama, we just couldn't get along/Please don't hold it against me, 'cause I'll never do you wrong." By no means a commercial success, the album was perhaps too subtle and low-profile for its own good, lacking that one bold single with a snappy chorus to help it stick out, but it is sturdily constructed. It's a fine companion piece to the debut from another Detroit product, the first self-titled album from Leon Ware, also released in 1972. (Warecoincidentally co-wrote this album's "Trouble's a Loser.") [Dusty Groove issued the album on CD for the first time in 2009.] AMG.

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Sundance - Sundance 1971

This classy slice of Northern Californian rural Psych was originally released in 1971, and makes its CD debut here. A winning combination of melodic Pop and heavier jamming that will appeal to fans of The Grateful Dead and The Allman Brothers, it features strong songs and memorable guitar interplay, but had the misfortune to appear just as its label was going under, and thus undeservedly sank without a trace.

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domingo, 15 de março de 2020

Noel Redding Band - Clonakilty Cowboys - Blowin' 1975-76

Former Jimi Hendrix Experience bassist Noel Redding's second attempt to lead a group (following Fat Mattress), the Noel Redding Band were more of a cooperative effort than their name would suggest. Redding may have been the organizing principal behind the unit, but David Clarke wrote or co-wrote almost all the material as well as singing lead vocals, while Eric Bell played lead guitar. Whoever dominated the band, however, their debut LP, Clonakilty Cowboys, was very much a British rock album of its time. There were hints here of the Faces and there of Mott the Hoople in a mainstream rock sound that seemed utterly familiar in the mid-'70s, but didn't much remind you of Redding's work with Hendrix. When Bell took off on his solo, for example, at the end of "Eight Nights a Week" (a paean to being a rock & roll star), his high-pitched work was out of Rock Guitar 101, but it had none of Hendrix's inventiveness. Maybe it's not fair to make such a comparison, but one falls into comparisons in discussing the music because it had little distinctive character of its own. As singers, neither Clarke nor Redding made it out of the rusty-voiced ranks of generic rock vocalists. Clonakilty Cowboys didn't make any noise on the charts and it didn't deserve to. Redding and company had made a fairly typical album for their time, but hadn't done anything that distinguished them from the pack. Noel Redding emphasized his primacy in the band named after him on their second album, Blowin', putting close-up photographs of himself alone on the front and back covers, albeit with humorous intention. (He was pictured on the front blowing up a big bubblegum bubble and on the back with the burst bubble stuck to his nose.) He also took over production duties on the record and wrote a couple of songs on his own. But this was still a group effort on which lead singer and primary songwriter David Clarke took a prominent, if not dominant, role. The album rocked harder than its predecessor, Clonakilty Cowboys, and, recorded largely in the U.S., seemed to have more of an American, on-the-road feel, beginning with its opening track, "Back on the Road Again." But the Noel Redding Band were still a faceless, nearly generic rock group with a rusty-voiced singer mouthing rock & roll clichés and a standard-issue guitarist. Blowin' didn't sell any better than Clonakilty Cowboys had, and that was about the end of the Noel Redding Band. AMG

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Tommy James & the Shondells - Something Special 1968

It's hard to conceive that seven of these 12 titles were Top 40 hits because "Gettin' Together," "I Like the Way," "Say I Am (What I Am)," and even the Shondells title track to their second album "It's Only Love" are not as radio memorable as "Mirage," "I Think We're Alone Now," and "Hanky Panky" (rumor has it some may have been "jukebox hits," added to jukeboxes but not necessarily radio play lists). The nearly a cappella "Out of the Blue" is a strange opener and shows the group's vocal prowess, a serious rock band coming off like a bubblegum Beach Boys. One can't quip with producers Bo Gentry and Ritchie Cordell crafting a sound for this group; they worked on everything here except "Say I Am (What I Am)" and "Hanky Panky" off the first Bob Mack/Henry Glover-produced disc (Mack co-wrote the second hit, "Say I Am" with James -- or so it says on the original disc; it is credited to George & Barbara Tomsco on this compilation) and Henry Glover's two productions from the second album, Tommy James' original "Don't Let My Love Pass You By" and the Ritchie Cordell hit "It's Only Love." 
The Top 25 "I Like the Way" is a wonderful slice of '60s-style British pop and had this follow-up hit to "Mirage" given the band a Small Faces direction, it may have helped to avoid the bubblegum stigma songs like "Love's Closin' in on Me" helped them obtain. It sounds more like Tommy Roe than Tommy James, but, despite having been written by James, bassist Mike Vale, and producers Gentry & Cordell, it still rocks straight from the Paul Revere & the Raiders school of power pop. Power pop over bubblegum is the solution, and side two hits you with "I Think We're Alone Now," "Mirage," and "Hanky Panky," their majesty interrupted by the summery "Real Girl" and the two songs from the second album. Not bad material, but a greatest-hits disc is supposed to help the fans get all their faves right in a row. At least the flip side to "Mirage," Ritchie Cordell's "Run, Run, Baby Run," is on side one and doesn't throw the flow. Tommy James' original "Don't Let My Love Pass You By" is the chorus to Every Mother's Son's "Come on Down to My Boat" from 1967, and James' lawyers should have gone after that one if he had the earlier copyright, but then again, Cordell's "It's Only Love" is derivative as can be, merging the traditional "This Old Man" with songs you know you've heard. Sure, Something Special! The Best of Tommy James & the Shondells was a premature Roulette marketing ploy, but it also shows what these times were all about. The Tee Vee International 20 Greatest Hits is more definitive but not as precise as The Best of Tommy James & the Shondells, which lives up to the title. This album is a good historical artifact nonetheless, and what true music lover can avoid the three irresistible classics included her. AMG.

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West, Bruce & Laing -Live 'n' Kickin' 1974

Following the exits of bassist/producer Felix Pappalardi and keyboardist Steve Knight, remaining Mountain members Leslie West (guitar) and Corky Laing (drums) forged a new alliance with ex-Cream bassist Jack Bruce. The hard rock supergroup's debut LP, Why Dontcha, appeared in 1972, followed a year later by Whatever Turns You On. The West, Bruce & Laing trio proved short-lived, however, dissolving prior to the 1974 release of the Live 'n' Kickin' concert set. AMG.

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