terça-feira, 14 de fevereiro de 2017

Grace Slick - Manhole 1974

Manhole was the last of the experimental Jefferson Airplane, and Grace Slick's first official solo album. While Bark and Long John Silver, the final stages of the original Airplane, displayed the excessive psychedelic nature of the musicians within the confines of their group format, Blows Against the Empire, Sunfighter, and Baron Von Tollbooth and the Chrome Nun allowed for total artistic expression. Manhole concluded this phase with 1974's other release, the Jefferson Starship's Dragonfly. By taking the name from Paul Kantner's Blows Against the Empire solo project, Dragonfly began the renewed focus on commercial FM which would turn into Top 40 airplay. Manhole is the antithesis of that aim, but is itself a striking picture of Grace Slick as the debutante turned hippy being as musically radical as possible. To the kids who think she's the cool singer on the mechanical Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now, Manhole is an alien concoction, but it works on many levels as great head music. The title track itself is almost 15-and-a-half minutes of orchestrated underground rock with Craig Chaquico on lead guitar; Jack Casady on bass, along with Ron Carter; voices from David Crosby, David Freiberg, Slick and Paul Kantner; mandolin by Peter Kaukonen; and a 42-piece orchestra (51, if you include the fragments of the Airplane/Starship onboard). It's fun stuff, but looking back one wonders how they maintained a distribution deal for Grunt records with R.C.A., the material being so far from commercial. The title track has a left-hand piano part which "was stolen from an improvisation by Ivan Wing," Slick's father, and the epic is rife with Spanish/English by the singer, translated in the booklet with Slick's "phonetic Spanish spelling." Again, this is total underground excess, but it is actually more than listenable than it looks on paper, and for fans, it has the serious/eccentric nature of this woman who emerged as a big, big star due to her quirky personality having the talent to back it up. Attacks on the government and Clive Davis in the elaborate booklet only prove all involved were not out to make friends, but songs like "Come Again? Toucan" are compelling and intriguing, more so than some of what would constitute 1981's Welcome to the Wrecking Ball, which contained more elements of guitarist Scott Zito than the star. On Manhole, the music is wonderfully dense, macabre, exhilarating, and totally out there. This is a great portion of music from the lead singer of one of America's great music groups. Maybe David Freiberg's "It's Only Music" deserved to be on an Airplane project or solo LP of his own, but it sounds great and works. "Better Lying Down" is Grace Slick and Pete Sears re-writing Janis Joplin's "Turtle Blues," a nice change of pace from the heavy instrumental backing of the other tracks. Slick is in great voice, and reflecting on the album years after it was recorded, the conclusion is that Manhole has much to offer fans. Compare this to Deep Space -- recorded live at the Hollywood House of Blues in the 1990s to see the difference between capturing the time and trying to recapture the magic. Despite the eye toward success and the more serious nature of that later project, it just doesn't have the charm of this artifact from the glory days. It's also a far cry from the 1980s, when Slick returned with three more solo outings: Dreams, Welcome to the Wrecking Ball, and Software, projects which differ vastly from Manhole. The hard rock of Wrecking Ball and the synths and post-Kantner Starship feel of producer Peter Wolf's collaborations on Software show a woman dabbling with other rock formats. Put those three discs in a boxed set with Manhole, and you have true culture shock from a major counterculture figure. Manhole is orchestrated psychedelia at its finest with the voice from "White Rabbit" stretching that concept across two sides. AMG.

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Jesse Colin Young - Young Blood 1965

Young's early 1965 album, more than the earlier material collected on The Soul of a City Boy, points toward the mixture of rock, folk, blues, and a little country he would take with the Youngbloods, even if little of the album boasts electric rock arrangements. Young combines originals with folk and blues covers on this pleasing set, highlighted by his already excellent vocals, which blend soulfulness and gentleness as well as any of his folk and folk-rock peers from the era. This wouldn't rate among his finest work, only because it doesn't contain anything that would rate among his best original songwriting. Still, there are glimpses of a more idiosyncratically wistful and tuneful composer on "Summer Rain," "Green Hill Mountain Home," and "Lullabye." The presence of some bass, as well as John Sebastian on harmonica, helps make this (for early 1965) an overlooked folk-rock precursor; "Nobody's Dirty Business" has actual drums and is (for early 1965) a pretty progressive combination of folk and rock elements. AMG.

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Dancer - Tales Of The Riverbank 1972

Dancer were formed from remnants of Isle of Wight folk rockers Shide & Acorn and future famed film director the late Anthony Minghella. Minghella had previously appeared as keyboardist in a small jazz group known as Earthlight. The musicians were discovered by Wilf Pine, former manager of Black Sabbath and future reputed ranking member of the Gotti mafia syndicate in the United States. Pine secured the group studio time at Olympia in the Barnes suburb of London in 1972, where they recorded seven tracks over a month's period under the direction of GroundhogsS guitarist Tony McPhee. McPhee, despite having an arm in a cast offered the guitar solo to close the title track. Dancer dissolved soon afterwards and their recordings remained forgotten until copies emerged nearly thirty years later and were released by Kissing Spell. Minghella would go on to a lengthy and successful career as a film producer, while Athey and Cuffe would form the funk band Big Swifty. Dancer merit a place in the ProgArchives.com for their brief but enjoyable contribution to progressive music at a transitional and largely forgotten period in the individual members' careers. ProgArchives.

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Clean Living - Meadowmuffin 1973

There are two bands by this name an (1) australian and and (2) American band.Boston, MA folk-rock band best known for their hit polka cover, 1972's "In Heaven Tere Is No Beer". The band formed in 1972 and was originally comprised of Timothy Griffin (drums, percussion), Robert "Tex" LaMountain (rhythm guitar), Robert LaPalm (vocals, guitar), Norman Schell (vocals, guitar), Frank Shaw (bass) and Elliot Sherman (keyboards).(1) clean living are a band from perth, western australia.They have released EP on the OWL'S label(andrew sinclair,Erasers,the Townhouses) and a split with frozen oceans.They have done diy interstate touring as well as many diy shows in perth.Band members are also in lord of the friends and sacred flower union. In addition to this they are associated with the something small festival a week long, free, local DIY festival organised and ran by the clean living drummer dan.

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Charles Watts & The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band - Hot Heat And Sweet Groove 1967

Hot Heat and Sweat Groove is the debut album by the funky band led by the charismatic Charles Wright. The Wright brood moved to Los Angeles when Charles Wright was 12. In Watts, Wright befriended doo woppers and balladeers like Jesse Belvinthe Hollywood Flamesthe Youngsters, and others who lived in the area. Propped by stars like Bill Cosby and publicized by two and a half years of sold-out crowds at the Haunted House (a local club), along with an unexpected local hit, the band was able to secure a contract with Warner Bros. Records. Nothing major came from this set that displayed a choppy rhythmic approach similar to Dyke & the Blazers. But this surprisingly hard-to-find album produced by James Carmichael, who went on to great success with the Commodores, features some thick funk: "Fried Okra," "Brown Sugar," and reworkings of "Yellow Submarine," "The Girl From Ipanema," and "Bring It on Home to Me." While not the most cohesive set, you can't knock the hot SoCal energy exhibited by Wright and his crew of young hopefuls, including future Earth, Wind & Fire member Al McKay, along with James GadsonMelvin Dunlap, Big John Rayford, Bill Cannon, Gabriel Flemings, and Joe Banks. The LP's most popular track, "Spreading Honey," charted at number 44 R&B and number 73 pop in 1967. The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band didn't even record the song. Wright cut the track with Bobby WomackLeon HaywoodJames Carmichael, and others as the theme song for DJ Magnificent Montague's radio show. But it smoked so much that Warner Bros. signed them on the dotted line and credited the single to the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band; this album followed, and the rest is history. AMG.

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The Electronic Hole - The Electronic Hole 1970

Raw, noisy, droning and completely mesmerizing album recorded by Phil Pearlman between the first Beat of the Earth album and Relatively Clean Rivers. Pearlman assembled The Electronic Hole in 1969 strictly for personal use – to audition musicians for his new band. To do this, and to add to his own collection of demos, he used local studios in off-hours thanks to his friendship with album engineer Joe Sidore. The result is entirely different from Beat of the Earth, as it abandons a freeform improvisational approach in favor of 'compositions', including a wild cover of Frank Zappa's 'Trouble Every Day'. Pearlman plays sitar to great effect on the album, and another track has the thickest wall of fuzz guitars imaginable – an effect he achieved by running his Fender amplifier out of a child's chord organ ('sounded great for about two weeks, then it blew up!'). Few albums have such an eclectic yet appealing sound.

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terça-feira, 7 de fevereiro de 2017

The Nice - Nice 1969

The Nice's third album was their first to break them into the star recording bracket in the U.K., where it reached number three on the charts. Though only measuring six songs in all, it covered a lot of territory, in a rich mixture of psychedelic rock, jazz, and classical that did a lot to map the format for progressive rock. The extended pretension of some of the numbers, viewed less forgivingly, might also seem like an antecedent to pop/rock. But the studio side of the LP (in its pre-CD incarnation) included one of their best tracks, a cover of Tim Hardin's "Hang on to a Dream," with grand Keith Emerson classical lines and an angelic choir. It also included a reworking of the B-side of their first single in "Azrael Revisited," a slight throwback to the more playful psychedelia of their roots with "Diary of an Empty Day," and the nine-minute "For Example," in which Emerson stretched out his jazz-classical mutations to a fuller length, throwing in a quote from "Norwegian Wood" along the way. More attention was given to the second side of the LP, recorded live at the Fillmore East, with a berserk workout of a number from their debut album, "Rondo" and a 12-minute overhaul of Bob Dylan's "She Belongs to Me." AMG.

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Buffalo Springfield - Last Time Around 1968

The internal dissension that was already eating away at Buffalo Springfield's dynamic on their second album came home to roost on their third and final effort, Last Time Around. This was in some sense a Buffalo Springfield album in name but not in spirit, as the songwriters sometimes did not even play on cuts written by other members of the band. Neil Young's relatively slight contribution was a particularly tough blow. He wrote only two of the songs (though he did help Richie Furay write "It's So Hard to Wait"), both of which were outstanding: the plaintive "I Am a Child" and the bittersweet "On the Way Home" (sung by Furay, not Young, on the record). The rest of the ride was bumpier: Stephen Stills' material in particular was not as strong as it had been on the first two LPs, though the lovely Latin-flavored "Pretty Girl Why," with its gorgeous guitar work, is one of the group's best songs. Furay was developing into a quality songwriter with the orchestrated "The Hour of Not Quite Rain" and his best Springfield contribution, the beautiful ballad "Kind Woman," which became one of the first country-rock standards. But it was a case of not enough, too late, not only for Furay, but for the group as a whole. AMG.

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The Allman Brothers Band - At Fillmore East 1971

Whereas most great live rock albums are about energy, At Fillmore East is like a great live jazz session, where the pleasure comes from the musicians' interaction and playing. The great thing about that is, the original album that brought the Allmans so much acclaim is as notable for its clever studio editing as it is for its performances. Producer Tom Dowd skillfully trimmed some of the performances down to relatively concise running time (edits later restored on the double-disc set The Fillmore Concerts), at times condensing several performances into one track. Far from being a sacrilege, this tactic helps present the Allmans in their best light, since even if the music isn't necessarily concise (three tracks run over ten minutes, with two in the 20-minute range), it does showcase the group's terrific instrumental interplay, letting each member (but particularly guitarist Duane and keyboardist/vocalist Gregg) shine. Even after the release of the unedited concerts, this original double album remains the pinnacle of the Allmans and Southern rock at its most elastic, bluesy, and jazzy. AMG.

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Fleetwood Mac - Then Play On 1970

This Peter Green-led edition of the Mac isn't just an important transition between their initial blues-based incarnation and the mega-pop band they became, it's also their most vital, exciting version. The addition of Danny Kirwan as second guitarist and songwriter foreshadows not only the soft-rock terrain of "Bare Trees" and "Kiln House" with Christine Perfect-McVie, but also predicts Rumours. That only pertains to roughly half of the also excellent material here, though; the rest is quintessential Green. The immortal "Oh Well," with its hard-edged, thickly layered guitars and chamber-like sections, is perhaps the band's most enduring progressive composition. "Rattlesnake Shake" is another familiar number, a down-and-dirty, even-paced funk, with clean, wall-of-sound guitars. Choogling drums and Green's fiery improvisations power "Searching for Madge," perhaps Mac's most inspired work save "Green Manalishi," and leads into an unlikely symphonic interlude and the similar, lighter boogie "Fighting for Madge." A hot Afro-Cuban rhythm with beautiful guitars from Kirwan and Green on "Coming Your Way" not only defines the Mac's sound, but the rock aesthetic of the day. Of the songs with Kirwan's stamp on them, "Closing My Eyes" is a mysterious waltz love song; haunting guitars approach surf music on the instrumental "My Dream"; while "Although the Sun Is Shining" is the ultimate pre-Rumours number someone should revisit. Blues roots still crop up on the spatial, loose, Hendrix-tinged "Underway," the folky "Like Crying," and the final outcry of the ever-poignant "Show Biz Blues," with Green moaning "do you really give a damn for me?" Then Play On is a reminder of how pervasive and powerful Green's influence was on Mac's originality and individual stance beyond his involvement. Still highly recommended and a must-buy after all these years, it remains their magnum opus. AMG.

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George Harrison - The Concert For Bangla Desh 1971

Hands down, this epochal concert at New York's Madison Square Garden -- first issued on three LPs in a handsome orange-colored box -- was the crowning event of George Harrison's public life, a gesture of great goodwill that captured the moment in history and, not incidentally, produced some rousing music as a permanent legacy. Having been moved by his friend Ravi Shankar's appeal to help the homeless Bengali refugees of the 1971 India-Pakistan war, Harrison leaped into action, organizing on short notice what became a bellwether for the spectacular rock & roll benefits of the 1980s and beyond. The large, almost unwieldy band was loaded with rock luminaries -- including Beatles alumnus Ringo StarrEric ClaptonBadfinger, and two who became stars as a result of their electric performances here, Leon Russell ("Jumpin' Jack Flash"/"Youngblood") and Billy Preston ("That's the Way God Planned It"). Yet Harrison is in confident command, running through highlights from his recent triumphant All Things Must Pass album in fine voice, secure enough to revisit his Beatles legacy from Abbey Road and the White Album. Though overlooked at the time by impatient rock fans eager to hear the hits, Shankar's opening raga, "Bangla Dhun," is a masterwork on its own terms; the sitar virtuoso is in dazzling form even by his standards and, in retrospect, ShankarAli Akbar Khan, and Alla Rakha amount to an Indian supergroup themselves. The high point of the concert is the surprise appearance of Bob Dylan -- at this reclusive time in his life, every Dylan sighting made headlines -- and he read the tea leaves perfectly by performing five of his most powerful, meaningful songs from the '60s. Controversy swirled when the record was released; then-manager Alan Klein imposed a no-discount policy on this expensive set and there were questions as to whether all of the intended receipts reached the refugees. Also, in a deal to allow Dylan's participation, the set was released by Capitol on LP while Dylan's label Columbia handled the tape versions. Yet, in hindsight, the avarice pales beside the concert's magnanimous intentions, at a time when rock musicians truly thought they could help save the world. AMG.

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segunda-feira, 23 de janeiro de 2017

Neil Merryweather - Word Of Mouth 1970

One of the less known Canadian groups to work on the 1960s US West Coast scene was the short-lived Merryweather, a talented bunch of Ontario musicians, fronted by former Mynah Birds member, bass player Neil Lillie (today better known as Neil Merryweather).

Slightly reminiscent of the early Steve Miller Band, Merryweather also shared the same label, Capitol Records, with whom they had signed with in January 1969 and produced two albums, including the double "super-jam" record, Word of Mouth before imploding later that year.

Merryweather made a prestigious appearance at Newport '69, a huge rock festival held at Devonshire Downs in Northridge on the weekend of 20-22 June. The three-day festivities also featured The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Credence Clearwater Revival, The Byrds and Poco among others.

"We opened up on the Sunday morning and it was great," remembers Neil Merryweather. "I had this guy in the audience that had an American flag with the peace symbol in the middle climb the hundred foot sound speaker towers and put it up at the top and everybody went ballistic. That was a great thing for us."

Back in Los Angeles, Merryweather returned to the Whisky A Go Go for a show opening for Leslie West's group, Mountain on 29 July. Earlier that month, work had begun on the band's second album, which was produced once again by John Gross. On this occasion, Merryweather were joined by various musicians, including Steve Miller, Howard Roberts, Barry Goldberg, Charlie Musselwhite and former Traffic guitarist Dave Mason to record a "super jam" album. As Ed Roth explains, aside from Mason who the band met on the street, the others were introduced to Merryweather on the day of the session in the studio.

The album kicks off in fine form with Merryweather's heavy-rock workout, "I Found Love", which features tasty guitar and organ solos and an amazing throat shredding vocal from Neil Merryweather. Other highlights include the catchy, "Teach You How To Fly", a band collaboration with guitarist Howard Roberts and the Merryweather-Roth co-write, "Where I Am", with stirring violin from Bobby Notkoff.

By this time, the band was starting to establish a following around the L.A area. On 21-23 September, Merryweather played one of their most high profile concerts to date, headlining at Thee Experience. Incidentally, it was at this gig that Neil Merryweather introduced his future girlfriend and musical partner, Lynn Carey, then singer with blues-rock band, C K Strong and invited her up on stage to jam with the group.

Burt remembers the three-night stand for different reasons. On the first night, Jimi Hendrix and The Band of Gypsies dropped by for an after hours jam after spending the day recording in a nearby studio. "Coffi Hall told me that they used to sit at the back of the club and listen to us until we finished our show," says the band's guitarist. "The first night, I get a tap on my shoulder and there's Jimi Hendrix standing beside me with his guitar asking to use my amp." canadianbands.com

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Chicken Shack - Unlucky Boy 1973

Originally released in 1973, but reissued with four extra tracks as part of Sanctuary's Blues Masters series in 2003, Chicken Shack's Unlucky Boy finds guitarist/vocalist/songwriter and band founder Stan Webb in fine form. Only drummer Paul Hancox remains from the uneven Imagination Lady, and indeed the horn-oriented approach here is much different than the plodding Led Zeppelin-isms of the previous disc. Webb contributes six originals, and even though they are derivative of Savoy Brown (a band he joined for the Boogie Brothers album just a year later), his approach here is much more subtle and controlled than on his last effort. Chris Mercer's saxes, often double tracked to sound like a horn section, bring a tough R&B to the mix, and drummer Hancox is a controlled powerhouse. Webb also reigns in his impulse to overextend guitar solos so prevalent on Imagination Lady, whipping off tight, controlled leads instead. Producer Neil Slaven contributes honest, witty, and often self-deprecating liner notes that help explain why two of these songs suffer from poor mixes (basically, he had consumed various substances and couldn't salvage the songs after the fact). Strings on "As Time Goes Passing By," (also included in a shorter single version) are a nice touch and bring a bit of class to the proceedings while maintaining the R&B slant of the disc. Two unedited studio jams make the cut as "Stan the Man" and the seven-minute "Jammin' with the Ash," both featuring pianist Tony Ashton, who really lets loose on the latter. Things get stripped down for an unusually delicate version of Lonnie Johnson's "Too Late to Cry" with just strummed guitar and bass. The opening trio of Webb-penned tunes shows some of his best songwriting with the instrumental "Prudence's Party" a terrific capsule of Webb's stinging, gritty guitar style. The album sounds dated but harkens back to a particular time in British blues that is charming in its anything goes attitude. That helps make this one of Stan Webb's more consistent and successful offerings. AMG.

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The Byrds - Sweetheart Of The Rodeo 1968

The ByrdsSweetheart of the Rodeo was not the first important country-rock album (Gram Parsons managed that feat with the International Submarine Band's debut Safe at Home), and the Byrds were hardly strangers to country music, dipping their toes in the twangy stuff as early as their second album. But no major band had gone so deep into the sound and feeling of classic country (without parody or condescension) as the Byrds did on Sweetheart; at a time when most rock fans viewed country as a musical "L'il Abner" routine, the Byrds dared to declare that C&W could be hip, cool, and heartfelt. Though Gram Parsons had joined the band as a pianist and lead guitarist, his deep love of C&W soon took hold, and Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman followed his lead; significantly, the only two original songs on the album were both written by Parsons (the achingly beautiful "Hickory Wind" and "One Hundred Years from Now"), while on the rest of the set classic tunes by Merle Haggardthe Louvin Brothers, and Woody Guthrie were sandwiched between a pair of twanged-up Bob Dylan compositions. While many cite this as more of a Gram Parsons album than a Byrds set, given the strong country influence of McGuinn's and Hillman's later work, it's obvious Parsons didn't impose a style upon this band so much as he tapped into a sound that was already there, waiting to be released. If the Byrds didn't do country-rock first, they did it brilliantly, and few albums in the style are as beautiful and emotionally affecting as this. AMG.

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The Eagles - Hotel California 1976

The Eagles took 18 months between their fourth and fifth albums, reportedly spending eight months in the studio recording Hotel California. The album was also their first to be made without Bernie Leadon, who had given the band much of its country flavor, and with rock guitarist Joe Walsh. As a result, the album marks a major leap for the Eagles from their earlier work, as well as a stylistic shift toward mainstream rock. An even more important aspect, however, is the emergence of Don Henley as the band's dominant voice, both as a singer and a lyricist. On the six songs to which he contributes, Henley sketches a thematic statement that begins by using California as a metaphor for a dark, surreal world of dissipation; comments on the ephemeral nature of success and the attraction of excess; branches out into romantic disappointment; and finally sketches a broad, pessimistic history of America that borders on nihilism. Of course, the lyrics kick in some time after one has appreciated the album's music, which marks a peak in the Eagles' playing. Early on, the group couldn't rock convincingly, but the rhythm section of Henley and Meisner has finally solidified, and the electric guitar work of Don Felder and Joe Walsh has arena-rock heft. In the early part of their career, the Eagles never seemed to get a sound big enough for their ambitions; after changes in producer and personnel, as well as a noticeable growth in creativity, Hotel California unveiled what seemed almost like a whole new band. It was a band that could be bombastic, but also one that made music worthy of the later tag of "classic rock," music appropriate for the arenas and stadiums the band was playing. The result was the Eagles' biggest-selling regular album release, and one of the most successful rock albums ever. AMG.

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