sábado, 23 de novembro de 2013

The Chambers Brothers - A New Time - A New Day 1968

Like their West Coast contemporaries Sly and the Family Stonethe Chambers Brothers shattered racial and musical divides to forge an incendiary fusion of funk, gospel, blues, and psychedelia which reached its apex with the perennial 1968 song "Time Has Come Today." The Chambers siblings -- bassist George, guitarist Willie, harpist Lester, and guitarist Joe, all of whom contributed vocals -- were born and raised in Lee County, MS; the products of an impoverished sharecropping family, the brothers first polished their vocal harmonies in the choir of their Baptist church, a collaboration which ended after George was drafted into the army in 1952. Following his discharge he relocated to Los Angeles, where the other Chambers brothers soon settled as well; the foursome began performing gospel and folk throughout Southern California in 1954, but remained virtually unknown until appearing in New York City in 1965. The addition of white drummer Brian Keenan not only made the Chambers Brothers an interracial group, but pushed their music closer to rock & roll; a well-received appearance at the Newport Folk Festival further enhanced their growing reputation, and they soon recorded their debut LP, People Get Ready.
As the Chambers Brothers toured rock clubs (including the famed Fillmore in San Francisco) and R&B venues (most notably the Apollo Theatre) alike, their music increasingly embraced elements of both; after recording 1968's Shout! for the Vault label, the group signed to Columbia to issue Time Has Come Today, scoring a major pop hit with the title track, an 11-minute psychedelic soul epic in its original album incarnation. The follow-up, A New Time--A New Day, yielded another Top 40 hit, a cover of the Otis Redding's classic "I Can't Turn You Loose," but subsequent efforts including 1969's Love, Peace and Happiness and 1970's Live at Fillmore East failed to maintain the commercial momentum. Upon completing 1972's Oh My God!the Chambers Brothers disbanded, only to reunite two years later for UnbondedRight Move appeared in 1975, and although no new studio records were forthcoming, the group regularly performed live in the decades to follow, with the brothers also pursuing individual projects; the Chambers Family Choir, a gospel group including the siblings' own children, remained a priority as well. AMG.

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Spirit - Farther Along 1976

This 1976 reunion of Spirit without Jay Ferguson, but with the inclusion of Matt Andes, brother of original bassist Mark Andes, who is also here, has some very special moments. The title track is a little R&B-folk number by Randy California, Andes, and Cassidy, while the second song, "Atomic Boogie," is California indulging himself again in musical excess. The entire band is listed as co-writers on this tune only, so they can all shoulder the blame for the weakest track on an otherwise excellent album that features many collaborations by the various musicians. "World Eat World Dog" is a nice slice of the old-style Spirit by John Locke, California, and Ed Cassidy, setting a mood and featuring conducting and arrangements by David Blumberg. "Stoney Night" continues in this vein, horns battling the bubbling guitars and providing proof that the collective forces of Spirit were truly a unique and important rock group. The John Locke instrumental "Pineapple" doesn't need words to convey the Hawaiian theme which runs through much of California's music. He doesn't have to write the song to influence it heavily. The percussion and vibes are magical, while John Locke's keyboards more than hint at what was missing when the band crafted recordings or played live without him. Al Schmitt's production shines on "Colossus"; the award-winning engineer for so many artists and Jefferson Airplane producer is in his element here. Note the Don Henderson-orchestrated instrumental version of the group's FM nugget "Nature's Way," which ends the set. This third Mercury release in the mid-'70s takes a couple of songs to get going, but the collaboration with the Andes brothers and John Locke puts Cassidy and California back into a true band setting, and the package becomes a very musical and cohesive unit. "Phoebe" is another luscious instrumental (three of the dozen titles are music with no words), while a Beatles-style "Once With You" and "Diamond Spirit," with its inclusion of the title track melody at the end, allow California to front a full Spirit without battling the strong personality of a Jay Ferguson. The Andes brothers, who backed up Ferguson with his Jo Jo Gunne band, are more interesting in this setting as well, and give support to California's music. Had the Staehely Brothers from the Feedback album combined here rather than the Andes boys, the direction would have totally changed, and it is an interesting thought to ponder. The five discs that make up the four Mercury 1970s releases from Spirit have great merit, and the best of this music could be combined with Epic/Legacy's Time Circle double CD to make for a nice four- or five-disc overview of this important set of sounds from an underrated band. AMG.

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New York Rock & Roll Ensemble - Faithful Friends 1969

The second release from this rock-classical fusion act is a highly enjoyable, albeit forgotten, album from the 1960s. One of the first major bands to mix classical music with rock, the New York Rock & Roll Ensemble also included future pop composer Michael Kamen. The ensemble's 1969 sophomore album continues where their debut left off, with pop/rock numbers like "I'm So Busy" and a cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Wait Until Tomorrow" interspersed with straight classical pieces such as Bach's "Trio Sonata No. 2 in G Major." The album's highlight is the acoustic-based original "Kite Song"; a song featuring falsetto vocals from ensemble member Brian Corrigan and a very pretty cello melody. Most of the songs sound influenced by Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, as well as late-'60s pop/rock harmony-based groups such as Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. Kamen lends his dramatized vocals to most of the tunes on the album in pure Broadway meets '60s rock fashion; other members of the ensemble sing as well. While heralded at the time for their courageous musical explorations, the New York Rock & Roll Ensemble peaked with this and their follow-up album, Reflections, failing to capture the same magic on their subsequent releases. AMG.

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Ray Russell - Ready or Not 1977

Guitarist Ray Russell may be the most successful member of the final lineup of the John Barry Seven, having gone on to a serious and highly regarded career in jazz and rock in England over the ensuing decades. Russell's introduction tothe John Barry Seven came when he read in the music press that the group's longtime lead guitarist, Vic Flick, was leaving the group -- he auditioned on a day off his regular job and won the spot by pretending that he could read music, and learned musical notation as a member of the band, after establishing his virtuosity. The corpulent, stockily built Russell (who resembled Roy Kinnear or Robbie Coltrane) was an improbable looking guitar hero, but his talent was incontestable. He made a good successor to Flick and stayed with the band to the end, in early 1965. He next played with Georgie Fame & the Blue Flames, and by the end of the 1960s he was working in tandem with Chris Spedding in the Mike Gibbs band, alongside bassist Jack Bruce and reedman Alan Skidmore.
During the 1970s, Russell passed through such ensembles as the Rock Workshop and the avant jazz-rock comboNucleus, and co-founded Chopyn (featuring Simon Phillips on drums) with keyboard player Ann Odell. He also played with Roxy Music's Andy Mackay on the soundtrack of the British television series Rock Follies, and became a member of Stackridge for a time. Russell was also the guitarist for the group Smith & D'Abo, and played a role in the benefit performances known as The Secret Policeman's Ball, alongside Eric ClaptonNeil Innes, et al. As a member of the fusion group the British Orchestra in the early '80s, he played and recorded the music of Gil Evans, and he also made his West End debut playing in the musical Time, starring Cliff Richard, in 1986.
Russell later formed his own group, the Ray Russell Band. He was a regular participant at the Montreux Jazz Festival throughout the 1980s and 1990s working in various group contexts, and has also played with the Simon Phillips Band. Although Russell is best known for his abilities as a jazz player, he has worked successfully across a vast range of musical idioms, including R&B/soul and heavy metal. Various recordings under his leadership have been issued over the years, including such career highlights as 1987’s Childscape featuring appearances by Gil Evans and Mark Ishamon the Theta label (reissued as Why Not Now on Melt 2000 in 1999 and with bonus tracks in 2004 on Angel Air), 1990’s A Table Near the Band on Last Chance Music (reissued by Angel Air in 2008), and 2006’s Goodbye Svengalion Cuneiform. AMG.

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James Cotton - Taking Care Of Business 1971

At his high-energy, 1970s peak as a bandleader, James Cotton was a bouncing, sweaty, whirling dervish of a bluesman, roaring his vocals and all but sucking the reeds right out of his defenseless little harmonicas with his prodigious lung power. Due to throat problems, Cotton's vocals are no longer what they used to be, but he remains a masterful instrumentalist. Cotton had some gargantuan shoes to fill when he stepped into Little Walter's slot asMuddy Waters' harp ace in 1954, but for the next dozen years, the young Mississippian filled the integral role beside Chicago's blues king with power and precision. Of course, Cotton had been preparing for such a career move for a long time, having learned how to wail on harp from none other than Sonny Boy Williamson himself.
Cotton was only a child when he first heard Williamson's fabled radio broadcasts for King Biscuit Time over KFFA out of Helena, Arkansas. So sure was Cotton of his future that he ended up moving into Williamson's home at age nine, soaking up the intricacies of blues harpdom from one of its reigning masters. Six years later, Cotton was ready to unleash a sound of his own.
Gigging with area notables Joe Willie Wilkins and Willie NixCotton built a sterling reputation around West Memphis, following in his mentor's footsteps by landing his own radio show in 1952 over KWEM. Sam Phillips, whose Sun label was still a fledgling operation, invited Cotton to record for him, and two singles commenced: "Straighten Up Baby" in 1953 and "Cotton Crop Blues" the next year. Legend has it Cotton played drums instead of harp on the first platter.
When Waters rolled through Memphis minus his latest harpist (Junior Wells), Cotton hired on with the legend and went to Chicago. Unfortunately for the youngster, Chess Records insisted on using Little Walter on the great majority of Waters' waxings until 1958, when Cotton blew behind Waters on "She's Nineteen Years Old" and "Close to You." AtCotton's suggestion, Waters had added an Ann Cole tune called "Got My Mojo Working" to his repertoire. Walterplayed on Muddy Waters' first studio crack at it, but that's Cotton wailing on the definitive 1960 reading (cut live at the Newport Jazz Festival).
By 1966, Cotton was primed to make it on his own. Waxings for Vanguard, Prestige, and Loma preceded his official full-length album debut for Verve Records in 1967. His own unit then included fleet-fingered guitarist Luther Tuckerand hard-hitting drummer Sam Lay. Throwing a touch of soul into his eponymous debut set, Cotton ventured into the burgeoning blues-rock field as he remained with Verve through the end of the decade.
In 1974, Cotton signed with Buddah and released 100% Cotton, one of his most relentless LPs, with Matt "Guitar" Murphy sizzling on backup. A decade later, Alligator issued another stand-out Cotton LP, High Compression, which was split evenly between traditional-style Chicago blues and funkier, horn-driven material. Harp Attack!, a 1990 summit meeting on Alligator, pairedCotton with three exalted peers: WellsCarey Bell, and comparative newcomer Billy Branch. Antone's Records was responsible for a pair of gems: a live 1988 set reuniting the harpist with Murphy and Tucker, and a stellar 1991 studio project, Mighty Long TimeCotton moved into the 21st century as one of the last surviving originators of the Chicago blues sound, and never slowed his pace a bit, releasing a series of fine albums, includingFire Down Under the Hill (2000) and Baby, Don't You Tear My Clothes (2004), both for Telarc Records, and Giant(2010) and Cotton Mouth Man (2013), both on Alligator Records. AMG.

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Oregon - Music of Another Present Era 1972

Music of Another Present Era remains Oregon's most enduring masterwork. Achieving a perfect balance of musical traditions from the East and West, ancient to future, they set the stage not only for a new transculturalism in jazz, but also created a lasting template for the fusion of musics from world traditions that would flower over a decade later. The four participants in Oregon, oboist and pianist Paul McCandless, guitarist and pianist Ralph Towner, upright bassist and pianist Glen Moore, and the late multi-instrumentalist Collin Walcott, operated on the premise that melodic ideas and expansive harmonies all contributed to a music that didn't bridge cultures, but erased them and eradicated them. This is a place where the astute dynamics of classical music meet the freedom of post-bop jazz in an inquiry of world rhythms and harmonics. Standout tracks include "North Star," with its celebration of rural music and rhythmic invention; the up-tempo "Sail," which offers a killer trio of Walcott's sprinting tablas, Towner's frenetic 12-string playing, andMoore's inquiring bass; the intensely improvisatory "Shard/Spring Is Really Coming"; and the lilting "The Swan." This is fusion music, to be sure, but it's the kind of fusion musicians have been trying unsuccessfully to emulate for decades.Music of Another Present Era is one of the most poetic and groundbreaking records to be released in the 1970s. AMG.

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Iron Butterfly - In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida 1968

With its endless, droning minor-key riff and mumbled vocals, "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" is arguably the most notorious song of the acid rock era. According to legend, the group was so stoned when they recorded the track that they could neither pronounce the title "In the Garden of Eden" or end the track, so it rambles on for a full 17 minutes, which to some listeners sounds like eternity. But that's the essence of its appeal -- it's the epitome of heavy psychedelic excess, encapsulating the most indulgent tendencies of the era. Iron Butterfly never matched the warped excesses of "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida," either on their debut album of the same name or the rest of their catalog, yet they occasionally made some enjoyable fuzz guitar-driven psychedelia that works as a period piece. The five tracks that share space with their magnum opus on In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida qualify as good artifacts, and the entire record still stands as the group's definitive album, especially since this is the only place the full-length title track is available. AMG.

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Nick Drake - Five Leaves Left 1969

It's little wonder why Drake felt frustrated at the lack of commercial success his music initially gathered, considering the help he had on his debut record. Besides fine production from Joe Boyd and assistance from folks like Fairport Convention's Richard Thompson and his unrelated bass counterpart from PentangleDanny ThompsonDrake also recruited school friend Robert Kirby to create most of the just-right string and wind arrangements. His own performance itself steered a careful balance between too-easy accessibility and maudlin self-reflection, combining the best of both worlds while avoiding the pitfalls on either side. The result was a fantastic debut appearance, and if the cult of Drake consistently reads more into his work than is perhaps deserved, Five Leaves Left is still a most successful effort. Having grown out of the amiable but derivative styles captured on the long-circulating series of bootleg home recordings, Drake imbues his tunes with just enough drama -- world-weariness in the vocals, carefully paced playing, and more -- to make it all work. His lyrics capture a subtle poetry of emotion, as on the pastoral semi-fantasia of "The Thoughts of Mary Jane," which his soft, articulate singing brings even more to the full. Sometimes he projects a little more clearly, as on the astonishing voice-and-strings combination "Way to Blue," while elsewhere he's not so clear, suggesting rather than outlining the mood. Understatement is the key to his songs and performances' general success, which makes the combination of his vocals and Rocky Dzidzornu's congas on "Three Hours" and the lovely "'Cello Song," to name two instances, so effective. Danny Thompson is the most regular side performer on the album, his bass work providing subtle heft while never standing in the way of the song -- kudos well deserved forBoyd's production as well. AMG.

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Fraction - Moon Blood 1971

Fraction was a short-lived Los Angeles garage band. In the summer of 1970, the band entered a studio and cut their only album, Moon Blood. Only 200 copies of this little psychedelic masterpiece were ever pressed, making it over the years a mega-rarity going for ridiculous sums of money. This 1999 reissue brings this fuzz and reverb festival onto compact disc for the first time and features three bonus tracks of previously unissued origin, "Prisms," "Dawning Light," and "Intercessor's Blues." Vocally, Jim Beach works the Jim Morrison side of the street while the band works the standard riffs of the era into a fuzz overloaded stomp that sounds like a perfect period piece. Lovers of fuzz-drenched psychedelia will go crazy over this one. AMG.

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Notes From The Underground - Notes From The Underground 1968

Notes from the Underground's sole album was bound to draw comparisons with early Country Joe & the Fish, if only because they shared the same label and producer, and also came from Berkeley. Like the Fish and several other Bay Area psychedelic bands, they unpredictably blended jug band music, blues, good-time novelty-tinged humor, jazz, and electric hard rock. But where the Fish and others were able, at their best, to pull this off to create an intoxicating brew,Notes from the Underground sound relatively strained and eclectic-for-the-heck-of-it. The album's not without its fun moments and some period charm, like the brooding, driving "Why Did You Put Me On," with its very '60s-sounding organ swoops. Other highlights are "Tristesse," whose gentle folk-rock is slightly reminiscent of the earlyYoungbloods, and a rock treatment of Herbie Hancock's "Cantaloupe Island." But the lack of strong vocals and tunes keeps it out of psychedelia's front ranks, and the abundance of forced-sounding jollity unflatteringly dates much of the material. AMG.

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Giles, Giles & Fripp - The Cheerful Insanity Of Giles, Giles & Fripp 1968

This pre-King Crimson aggregate involves the talents of Michael Giles (drums/vocals), Peter Giles (bass/vocals), andRobert Fripp (guitar/vocals) accompanied by a plethora of studio musicians -- most notably keyboardist Nicky Hopkinsand backing vocalists the Breakaways. By any standards The Cheerful Insanity of Giles, Giles & Fripp is one of the more eclectic albums to have been issued during the psychedelic rock movement of the late '60s. The album was initially issued in September of 1968 on the Decca Records subsidiary Deram -- whose releases were aimed specifically at the alternative or progressive rock market. That said, this disc is a far cry from the type of material that other artists on the label such as the Moody BluesCaravan, or Pacific Drift were concurrently issuing. The original record album was divided into two sections: "The Saga of Rodney Toady" and "Just George," which were named after the respective spoken word pieces that link the musical works on the A- and B-sides. Musically, Giles, Giles & Frippare wholly unlike anything before or since. Drawing upon folk, classical, pop, and even sacred music, each track brings a fresh listening experience. Among the highlights is the leadoff track, "North Meadow," which features some stunning fretwork from Fripp. Likewise, "Call Tomorrow" is a trippy noir tale involving an ambiguous practical joke. The classically influenced instrumental "Suite No. 1," as well as another one of Fripp's more esoteric compositions, "Erudite Eyes," likewise bear some semblance of sounds to come from the trio. While not everyone's cup of tea, there is a tremendous amount to enjoy on The Cheerful Insanity of Giles, Giles & Fripp for those whose expectations are not of King Crimson, but rather of lighthearted and decidedly folksy English tales. Parties interested in this disc should likewise be advised of The Brondesbury Tapes, which is a collection of semiprofessional demos made by this trio and original Fairport Convention vocalist Judy Dyble (vocals) and soon-to-be King Crimson member Ian McDonald(flute/sax). AMG.

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Creedence Clearwater Revival - Bayou Country 1969

Opening slowly with the dark, swampy "Born on the Bayou," Bayou Country reveals an assured Creedence Clearwater Revival, a band that has found its voice between their first and second album. It's not just that "Born on the Bayou" announces that CCR has discovered its sound -- it reveals the extent of John Fogerty's myth-making. With this song, he sketches out his persona; it makes him sound as if he crawled out of the backwoods of Louisiana instead of being a native San Franciscan. He carries this illusion throughout the record, through the ominous meanderings of "Graveyard Train" through the stoked cover of "Good Golly Miss Molly" to "Keep on Chooglin'," which rides out a southern-fried groove for nearly eight minutes. At the heart of Bayou Country, as well as Fogerty's myth andCreedence's entire career, is "Proud Mary." A riverboat tale where the narrator leaves a good job in the city for a life rolling down the river, the song is filled with details that ring so true that it feels autobiographical. The lyric is married to music that is utterly unique yet curiously timeless, blending rockabilly, country, and Stax R&B into something utterly distinctive and addictive. "Proud Mary" is the emotional fulcrum at the center of Fogerty's seductive imaginary Americana, and while it's the best song here, his other songs are no slouch, either. "Born on the Bayou" is a magnificent piece of swamp-rock, "Penthouse Pauper" is a first-rate rocker with the angry undertow apparent on "Porterville" and "Bootleg" is a minor masterpiece, thanks to its tough acoustic foundation, sterling guitar work, and clever story. All the songs add up to a superb statement of purpose, a record that captures Creedence Clearwater Revival's muscular, spare, deceptively simple sound as an evocative portrait of America. AMG.

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