sábado, 24 de junho de 2017

Robert Palmer - Pressure Drop 1975

Before he moved to Nassau and became a carefree, laid-back expat who craved sunshine, Robert Palmer lived in New York City, hired Little Feat for a backup band, and released the all over the place yet still solid Pressure Drop. Named after the massive reggae hit from Toots & the Maytals and the excellent cover version Palmer performs here, Pressure Drop is sometimes wrongly sold as the singer's first island-styled album. Past the title cut, Feat and the New Orleans funk of the Meters are much bigger influences, along with smooth, dated disco ballads smothered in strings. The latter numbers are what make the album too blue-eyed and polished for fans of Palmer's more gutsy moments, but the soft songs are well written and convincing, especially the opening "Give Me an Inch." Better still is the loose and feel-good funk that has long made this effort a fan favorite, with Palmer delivering full-bodied vocals over bright horns and popping basslines. Since compilations and Palmer's own live set lists increasingly ignored the album over time, Pressure Drop has grown into the great overlooked album in the man's discography, and it's much more rewarding than the unfamiliar track list displays. AMG.

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Bob Brown - The Wall I Built Myself 1970

The first legit reissues of these rare, stellar LP's by DC-based singer/songwriter Bob Brown. Richie Havens took Bob under his wing, produced both albums, and released them on his Stormy Forest label distributed by MGM. Although they failed to make a commercial impact at the time, cosmic-folk enthusiasts and vinyl-heads have long placed these albums in high esteem alongside the works of exploratory greats like Tim Hardin and Tim Buckley.

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The Flying Circus - Prepared In Peace 1970

Formed in Australia by guitarist Doug Rowe, percussionist Colin Walker, vocalist Greg Grace, bassist Terry Wilkins and guitarist James WayneFlying Circus recorded two successful singles ("Hay Ride" and "La La") in their home country. Their country-rock style of live performance, however, was completely different from the bubblegum pop present on those singles. Flying Circus eventually immigrated to Canada and signed with Capitol. The band's albums include Flying Circus (1969), Prepared in Peace (1970), Bonza Beaut and Boom Boom (1972), Gypsy Road (1972), Last Laugh (1974) and the compilation Steam Trains and Country Days (1978). AMG.

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Claudine Longet - Colours 1968

A funny thing happened to easy listening pop around 1968: many of the studio musicians in Los Angeles and New York got turned on to the same hip new sounds as everyone else, and for a brief period, the middle of the road got gently psychedelicized. This led to oddball goodies like the fragmentary, dreamlike The Secret Life of Harpers Bizarre, those weird records where Sebastian Cabot and William Shatner were intoning Bob Dylan like he was Shakespeare, and Claudine Longet's Colours. Previously preferring Europop schmaltz like Paul Mauriat's "Love Is Blue," Longet stretches out to include two of Donovan's early folky tunes, "Catch the Wind" and the title track, a delicate acoustic reading of Gordon Lightfoot's "Pussywillows, Cat-Tails" that's really quite lovely, and perhaps most surprisingly, a tender recasting of the Everly Brothers' "Let It Be Me" with a coda featuring new French lyrics penned by Longet herself. Not everything works: the opening version of "Scarborough Fair/Canticle" doesn't hint at the complexity of the harmonies of the Simon & Garfunkel original, and Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now" skates so dangerously close to tweeness by itself that the addition of Longet's wispy little-girl vocals and prominent lisp sends it over the edge. Longet redeems herself at the album's end, however, with a delicately mournful take on Randy Newman's oft-recorded "I Think It's Going to Rain Today" that features only the composer's piano and Longet's uncharacteristically self-assured vocals. Colours is certainly enjoyable on the shallow, kitschy "ha ha, look at this" level that most modern-day hipsters condescend to, but for true connoisseurs of the style, it's probably Claudine Longet's best album. AMG.

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Dave Mason - Headkeeper 1972

Dave Mason's solo career, which had started so promisingly with Alone Together in 1970 and taken an odd, but pleasant detour with Dave Mason & Cass Elliot in 1971, hit a speed bump in 1972, when he entered into a dispute with his record label, Blue Thumb during preparations for a new album. As a result, Blue Thumb put together the half-a-studio-album Mason had completed with half of a live album and issued the consumer-confusing Headkeeper, which Mason denounced publicly and asked fans not to buy! Heard today, it's still a confusing album, though the first five tracks are enjoyable music in the manner of Alone Together and the last five are well-performed concert versions of such favorites as "Feelin' Alright?" and "Pearly Queen." (Originally released on Blue Thumb Records as Blue Thumb 34, Headkeeper was reissued by MCA Records as MCA 712, then reissued on CD in 1988 as MCA 31326.) AMG.

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Billy Cobham - Spectrum 1973

Drummer Billy Cobham was fresh from his success with the Mahavishnu Orchestra when he recorded his debut album, which is still his best. Most of the selections showcase Cobham in a quartet with keyboardist Jan Hammer, guitarist Tommy Bolin, and electric bassist Lee Sklar. Two other numbers include Joe Farrell on flute and soprano and trumpeter Jimmy Owens with guitarist John TropeaHammer, bassist Ron Carter, and Ray Barretto on congas. The generally high-quality compositions (which include "Red Baron") make this fusion set a standout, a strong mixture of rock-ish rhythms and jazz improvising. AMG.

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Fontella Bass - Free 1972

If Fontella Bass' "Rescue Me" is the best soul single that Aretha Franklin never made, then Free is the lost classic that deserves space in any record collection housing worn-out copies of the Queen of Soul's I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You and Spirit in the Dark. Reuniting Bass with producer Oliver Sain, who helmed her classic mid-'60s sides for Chess, Free draws on the singer's gospel roots to forge a deeply spiritual and moving examination of post-civil rights America. Cuts like "To Be Free," "Talking About Freedom," and "My God, My Freedom, My Home" showcase the remarkable power and poignancy of Bass' vocals, couched beautifully by Sain's nuanced, blues-inspired arrangements. This excellent, well-annotated reissue includes the original 1972 Free LP in its entirety along with four bonus tracks -- excellent stuff from a singer unjustly dismissed as a one-hit wonder. AMG.

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Captain Marryat - Captain Marryat 1974

Named after the 19th Century mariner and novelist, this Glaswegian band made just one privately-pressed LP. Its back cover announces that 'Captain Marryat is a Scottish band, and have been playing together for just under a year. They already have a sizeable following in the pubs n' clubs circuit and this, their first LP, is a sample of the music that brought them success'. The line-up was Tommy Hendry (vocals, acoustic guitar), Ian McEleny (lead guitar, acoustic guitar), Allan Bryce (organ, vocals), Hugh Finnegan (bass, vocals) and Jimmy Rorrison (sic) (drums, vocals). They were originally intending to record a single, but the engineer at the Glasgow studio they'd booked told them that there was time enough to make a whole album. They therefore taped five tracks they'd already written ('Blindness', 'It Happened To Me', 'A Friend', 'Songwriter's Lament' and 'Changes') and finished the LP with an improvised jam ('Dance Of Thor'). The result came in a drab flipback sleeve, and according to one dealer is 'a progressive rock rarity with psych flourishes -- doom-laden organ plus acid guitar riffs and strong male vocals'. 

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Doug Parkinson & The Southern Star Band - I'll Be Around 1979

Doug Parkinson is one of Australia's most recognizable and distinctive performers and has had a diverse career in music and theatre over three decades.
Parkinson's first high school band, the "A" Sound, released a folk single in 1966 titled "Talk About That" before breaking up at the end of the year. Parkinson then joined the Questions in 1967, who had released their debut album, What Is a Question?, in 1966 to little success. Parkinson's soul and blues style brought the Questions into the upper echelons of Australia's mid-'60s pop bands. In July 1967, the Questions placed second to the Groop in Australia's premier pop competition, the Hoadley's National Battle of the Sounds final. The Questions toured as support band to the Whothe Small Faces, and Paul Jones, but by February 1968, had disbanded and Parkinson formed Doug Parkinson in Focus. They issued the single "I Had a Dream" in May 1968 and then came third at the Hoadley's National Battle of the Sounds final behind the Groove and the Master's Apprentices. Doug Parkinson in Focus became one of the most popular bands in Melbourne and signed a deal with EMI/Columbia. Their cover of the Beatles' "Dear Prudence" peaked at number five on the Australian national charts, and in July 1969, Doug Parkinson in Focus won the Hoadley's National Battle of the Sounds final. Their next single, "Today (I Feel No Pain)," was withdrawn from release by EMI, who thought it wasn't commercial enough, and later appeared on the rare Doug Parkinson in Focus EP. This also contained "Dear Prudence" as well as their next single, "Without You," which peaked at number five in October. They later appeared at Australia's first rock festival, Pilgrimage for Pop at Ourimbah, before breaking up in 1971.
Parkinson began his solo career with the single "So Lonely" in August 1972 and in March 1973, appeared in the Australian stage version of the Who's rock opera Tommy with Billy Thorpe, Daryl Braithwaite, Colleen Hewett, Broderick Smith, Jim Keays, and Keith Moon. His debut solo album, No Regrets, was released in May 1973 and he also formed the band Life Organisation to play '40s big band jazz. Parkinson also worked as A&R manager for WEA during this time. In 1974, Parkinson contributed vocals to two songs for the cult Australian biker film Stone and toured Australia. In 1977, Parkinson appeared in the stage version of Ned Kelly and in 1978 formed the Southern Star Band, which played a mix of jazz and R&B. They released several singles, "I'll Be Around," the most successful, charting nationally at number 22, as well as the album I'll Be Around. In 1980, Parkinson released two solo singles, "Arcade" and "Under the Influence of Love," before signing to CBS. In 1981, the Southern Star Band broke up and Parkinson formed a new Doug Parkinson Band in March.
One solo album followed, Heartbeat to Heartbeat, in 1983, as well as several singles. In late 1983, he performed in the stage production Jesus Christ Superstar. Roles in Big River, The Hunting of the Snark, and as the Big Bopper in the highly successful Buddy followed. AMG.

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Bernard Pretty Purdie - Soul Drums 1969

Not so much an album as it is a master class in the art of funk percussion, Soul Drums is the quintessential Bernard "Pretty" Purdie LP, an unstoppable rhythm machine made all the more memorable by its fiercely idiosyncratic production. Paired with pianist/arranger Richard Tee, guitarists Eric Gale and Billy Butler, bassist Bob Bushnell, and tenorist Seldon PowellPurdie creates a suite of deep funk grooves notable for the sheer insistence of their energy as well as the remarkable imagination and skill of their beats, all topped off with echo-chamber-like production that underscores the music's visceral punch. It is virtually impossible to listen to Soul Drums without nodding your head and tapping your foot -- and physical response, not thoughts or words, are its most sincere praise. AMG.

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Alice Clark - Alice Clark 1972

The self-titled 1972 disc from Alice Clark has more than stood the test of time, it is a sublime masterpiece of R&B/pop from the house of Bob Shad, the jazz producer who founded Mainstream Records, the original home for this superior project. Perhaps it isn't a coincidence that Clark's repertoire is exactly the kind of material Janis Joplin would pick up on in her days after Big Brother & the Holding Company, as this was also the first imprint that Joplin & the Holding Company recorded for professionally. Jimmy Webb's "I Keep It Hid" starts things off, one of the singles released from this original package and a nugget from another soul masterpiece, Supremes Arranged and Produced by Jimmy Webb, when Webb oversaw the post-Diana Ross girl group the same year as this release. A rendition of Fred Ebb and John Kander's tune, "Maybe This Time" from the motion picture Cabaret, is included along with three compositions from "Sunny" author Bobby Hebb. The collection of material from WebbEbb, and Hebb is actually genius A&R because all of it is a perfect fit. Northern soul fans and R&B critics are aware of this hidden treasure, but the buildup in this review of all the magnificent trappings shouldn't overshadow the fact that Alice Clark delivers the goods from start to finish. Some call it acid jazz, but truth be told, beyond the cult niches of space age bachelor pad and Northern soul -- the base that keeps obscure gems such as this bubbling on a variety of radar screens -- this is some of the best R&B you've probably never heard. The trifecta of Bobby Hebb songs include "Don't You Care" and "Hard, Hard Promises," two titles Hebb has yet to release on his own. The third is an up-tempo version of "The Charms of the Arms of Love" which concluded his 1970 album Love GamesClark rips apart "It Takes Too Long to Learn to Live Alone" in wonderful fashion with tasteful guitar, chirping horns, and restrained vibraphone. Juanita Fleming's "Never Did I Stop Loving You" is just brilliant as the vocals take off into different dimensions inside and between the unique melody. The final track,"Hey Girl," is not the famous Carole King/Freddy Scott hit -- it's a true find originally covered by Donny Hathaway and written by Hathaway's percussion player, Earl DeRouen. Here Clark changes it to "Hey Boy" in a lively, jazz-heavy jaunt which concludes the Toshiba/EMI version of this dynamite set of recordings that should have made Alice Clark a superstar. AMG.

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Chester Thompson - Powerhouse 1971

Chester Thompson started to play piano at the age of 5. After High School he played at local Oklahoma bands until joining Rudy Johnson Trio at the age of 19. In 1973 he was heard by a member of Tower Of Power and was asked to join the band. Next 10 years he played with them until joining Santana's band in 1983 until 2009.

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terça-feira, 30 de maio de 2017

J.J.Cale - Naturally 1971

J.J. Cale's debut album, Naturally, was recorded after Eric Clapton made "After Midnight" a huge success. Instead of following Slowhand's cue and constructing a slick blues-rock album, Cale recruited a number of his Oklahoma friends and made a laid-back country-rock record that firmly established his distinctive, relaxed style. Cale included a new version of "After Midnight" on the album, but the true meat of the record lay in songs like "Crazy Mama," which became a hit single, and "Call Me the Breeze," which Lynyrd Skynyrd later covered. On these songs and many others on NaturallyCale effortlessly captured a lazy, rolling boogie that contradicted all the commercial styles of boogie, blues, and country-rock at the time. Where his contemporaries concentrated on solos, Cale worked the song and its rhythm, and the result was a pleasant, engaging album that was in no danger of raising anybody's temperature. AMG.

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Axe - Music 1969

Psychedelic progressive band from Northampton, UK. They were formed as Crystalline, becoming Axe in 1969. Although they are documented as existing through to 1974, during their lifetime they never got further than an acetate/demo of their album, and a few live recordings. All known recordings were released decades later.

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Santana - Caravanserai 1972

Drawing on rock, salsa, and jazz, Santana recorded one imaginative, unpredictable gem after another during the 1970s. But Caravanserai is daring even by Santana's high standards. Carlos Santana was obviously very hip to jazz fusion -- something the innovative guitarist provides a generous dose of on the largely instrumental Caravanserai. Whether its approach is jazz-rock or simply rock, this album is consistently inspired and quite adventurous. Full of heartfelt, introspective guitar solos, it lacks the immediacy of Santana or Abraxas. Like the type of jazz that influenced it, this pearl (which marked the beginning of keyboardist/composer Tom Coster's highly beneficial membership in the band) requires a number of listenings in order to be absorbed and fully appreciated. But make no mistake: this is one of Santana's finest accomplishments. AMG.

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