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 Stills' Manassas. Overall, this was a highly underrated album, but in the end, it is also one of the finest from the '70s. AMG.
Long a fan favorite, Man's fourth studio album was recorded in 1971 during a harried one-week studio session that found the group having to write nearly the entire album, barring the tight and rocking "Angel Easy" and the group's multi-part masterwork "Many Are Called but Few Get Up." Frankly, the album sounds like a record that was largely jammed in the studio; the eight-minute-plus jams that close each side, "We're Only Children" and "Love Your Life," are particularly tiresome, good instrumental and lyrical ideas stretched well past their breaking points. However, besides the superior "Angel Easy" and "Many Are Called but Few Get Up," the album does include the rather wonderful "All Good Clean Fun," a showcase for pianist Clive John and lead guitarist Deke Leonard that has a delightful prog pop playfulness akin to some of Genesis' more lighthearted early moments or the daffiness of the later band Hatfield & the North. The album may be only half good, but that half is among Man's very best work. AMG.
The inclusion of the Paul Simon title cut (which is pretty catchy) and an 11-minute, four-song "Midnight Cowboy Medley" may make one think that this is a fairly commercial Buddy Rich big-band disc. But the arrangements are by Bill Holman, Don Piestrup and Roger Neumann; the other songs are originals by the trio, and among the soloists are altoists Richie Cole and Jim Mosher, trombonist Rick Stepton, trumpeter George Zonce and tenorman Pat Labarbara. In other words, the music on this album is on a higher level than one might think. Recorded live at the Tropicana in Las Vegas, this disc is recommended just to hear Buddy Rich drive the ensembles. AMG.
This group may be one of the more fondly remembered psychedelic cult bands of the late '60s, but their debut album hasn't dated that well. Their determinedly freaky material has some period charm, but the songwriting and singing really aren't all that hot. There are other problems: the frequent use of "Lothar," the group's theremin, sounds gimmicky rather than futuristic. They vacillate between good-time New York psychedelia in the style of The Youngbloods (who did it much better) and satirical shock-rock of The Mothers (who also did it much better), and the styles don't mix especially well. What sounded adventurous and far-out at the time can be a bit flat and embarrassing out of the context of the era. The saving grace of the CD reissue is the addition of six bonus cuts from their first three singles. Of variable quality, they nonetheless show The Hand People playing it straighter and, for the most part, the psychedelic folk-rock on these rare tracks was more effective and tuneful than the material on their LPs. The undoubted highlight is the fabulous "L-O-V-E (Ask For It By Name)," an explosive slice of pop-psychedelia that ranks as one of the best hit-singles-that-never-were of the late '60s. AMG.
Group of Florida , was formed around 1969. The group performed at many southern states . The album Peace did not hit one, although members of the group had plenty of time to work in the studio. Many songs sound style brass band alike Chicago. The group disbanded shortly after the release of the album , as many of the participants at the time in college and wanted to continue their education. Coldwater Army worked new compositions for their second album , without the horns , which were never released. Several members of the group later joined the renowned band Stillwater.
Lizard is very consciously jazz-oriented -- the influence of Miles Davis (particularly Sketches of Spain) being especially prominent -- and very progressive, even compared with the two preceding albums. The pieces are longer and have extensive developmental sections, reminiscent of classical music, and the lyrics are more ornate, while the subject matter is more exotic and rarified -- epic, Ragnarok-like battles between good and evil that run cyclically. The doom-laden mood of the first two albums is just as strong, except that the music is prettier; the only thing missing is a sense of humor. Jon Anderson of Yes guests on one key number, "Prince Rupert Awakes" (which vocalist/bassist Gordon Haskell never completed), and the album is stronger for his presence. At the time of its release, some critics praisedLizard for finally breaking with the formula and structure that shaped the two preceding albums, but overall it's an acquired taste. AMG.
Although it was a disappointing seller and signaled the start of Donovan's commercial decline, Open Road could have been a new beginning for the singer. Stripping down to a Celtic rock format that managed to be hard and direct, yet still folkish, Donovan turned out a series of excellent songs, notably the minor hit "Riki Tiki Tavi," that seemed to show him moving toward a roots-oriented sound of considerable appeal. Unfortunately, he was derailed by record company hassles and perhaps his own burnout, and Open Road turned out to be a sidestep rather than a step forward. AMG.
After hearing late-'60s rock & roll from his friend Chris Kachulis, Bruce Haack added acid rock to his already diverse sonic palette. The result was 1970s Electric Lucifer, a psychedelic, anti-war song cycle about the battle between heaven and hell. The underlying concept of this concept album is "Powerlove," a divine force that not only unites humanity but forgives Lucifer his transgressions as well. But though this album extols the healing powers of peace and love, Electric Lucifer uses often menacing music and lyrics to get its point across. "War" depicts the battle royale between good and evil with a martial beat and salvos from dueling synthesizers; a child's voice murmurs "I don't want to play anymore, " and a funereal synth melody replaces the electronic battle march. Haack's marriage of rock rhythms and his unique electronics creates a sound unlike either his previous work or the era's psychedelic rock, but songs like "Incantation" and "Word Game," with their percolating beats, buzzing synths and vocoders, are much trippier than most acid rock. The strangely forlorn "Song of the Death Machine" sounds a bit like a short-circuiting HAL singing "My Darling Clementine," while "Word Game" features cool, dark electro-rock and brain-teasing lyrics like "Ray of sun/Reason/Knowledge/No legends." Kachulis sings on both of these tracks, and his deadpan vocals complement the weirdness going on around him nicely. His involvement with Electric Lucifer also includes aiding the album's release on Columbia Records; though it was Haack's only major-label release, Electric Lucifer remains musically innovative and subversive. AMG.
Choice Quality Stuff/Anytime is not only the third long-player from It's a Beautiful Day, it also includes a personnel unique from either of its predecessors. This revolving-door musical cast ultimately resulted in decades of litigation. Perhaps most importantly, it also accounts for the disparate musical styles accompanying all three of the band's albums. Further, it was during the creation of this disc that lineup number two was replaced by lineup number three -- netting a separate band for the "Choice Quality Stuff" side and the "Anytime" side. It's a Beautiful Day, in essence, was becoming somewhat of a loose aggregate of Bay Area "all stars" by 1972. When the dust eventually settled, listeners were treated to notable contributions from Santana members Jose Chepitó Areas (percussion), Coke Escovedo(percussion), and Gregg Rolie (keyboards), as well as Bill Atwood (trumpet) -- who had already begun making a name for himself with contributions to Malo -- Cold Blood, and the Grateful Dead. The album also includes licks from Bruce Steinberg (mouth harp), who was better known for his LP cover artwork than musical abilities. A pleasant surprise is that this incarnation is as interesting in the grooves -- on tracks such as "Words" or "Bitter Wine" -- as they might seem on paper. However, any enthusiasts of the progressive rock leanings on their first release or even the decidedly pastoral work of Marrying Maiden would have been, quite frankly, at a loss for a majority of Choice Quality Stuff/Anytime. There is a distinct blues-based rock & roll attitude on "Creed of Love" and "Bye Bye Baby," which are more similar to Brit bluesmen John Mayall and Jeff Beck than any previous It's a Beautiful Day outing. This album is far from a washout. It is likewise remote in its musical representation of the band's previous sound. AMG.
Actor/singer Barry Gordon entertained kids (and adults) as a child star with his million-selling hit record "Nuttin' for Christmas" in the '50s, and in the '90s as the voice of Donatello in the phenomenally successful TV cartoon series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
It seems kismet that Gordon was born December 21, 1948, as a holiday favorite would prove to be his biggest hit. The Brookline, MA, native made his TV debut at three years old on Ted Mack's Amateur Hour. He also appeared on The Jackie Gleason Show and Star Time with Benny Goodman.
Recording for MGM Records, seven-year old Gordon was picked to sing the kids' song "Nuttin' for Christmas," written by Sid Tepper and Roy C. Bennett. The duo also wrote "Bagel and Lox," "Bullfighter Was a Lady," "The Angel in the Fountain," and music for the Elvis Presley movies Jailhouse Rock, Flaming Star, G.I. Blues, and Blue Hawaii. "Nuttin' for Christmas" b/w "Santa Claus Looks Just Like Daddy" went to number six pop on Billboard's charts on December 31, 1955. His follow-up single, "Rock Around Mother Goose" b/w "Seven" was his only other charting release (number 52 pop, early 1956), though he continued recording until he was in his thirties.
Gordon appeared as a leering paperboy in the 1956 Jayne Mansfield movie The Girl Can't Help It and on such '50s/'60s TV shows as The Jack Benny Show, The Danny Thomas Show, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. At 14, he received a Tony nomination for the role of Nick in the Broadway hit A Thousand Clowns, a role he reprised in the 1965 film version of the play that starred Jason Robards and Sandy Denis.
In 1967, he starred in Out of It as a super-smart high school nerd. Donning a nebbish Woody Allen-like persona,Gordon appeared in TV sitcoms The New Dick Van Dyke Show, The Don Rickles Show, A Family for Joe, the Barney Miller spin-off Fish, and Archie Bunker's Place. During the '90s, Gordon became an in-demand voice-over actor in TV animation and commercials, and was the voice of the scholarly, blue bandanna-wearing Donatello on the incredibly successful animated cartoon series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which first aired in syndication and later ran for several seasons as a part of CBS-TV's Saturday morning line-up. Gordon served as president of the Screen Actors Guild. Gordon's other releases are the MGM Records singles "Girl I Left Behind," "Rock Little Chillun" b/w "Pretty Lil Girl Next Door," "Santa Claus Looks Just Like Daddy" b/w "3," "Yes We Have No Bananas" b/w "Thief," the Dunhill singles "Ramshackle Guy" b/w "Days of Pearly Spencer," "Take Off the Veil" b/w "You Can't Love a Child," the United Artists Records singles "Talk, Talk, Talk" b/w "Sealed With a Kiss," "They" b/w "Katy" for the Era label, "You Can't Lie to a Liar" b/w "You Can't See the Trees" on Cadence, and "Zoomah Santa From Mars." His LPs are the MGM album Rock Little Children and the Telarc CD Distant Songs.
"Nuttin' for Christmas" can be found on the 1989 compilation Billboard Greatest Christmas Hits: 1955-Present from Rhino and Oldies Radio K-Earth 101 FM: Vol. 2-Ultimate Christmas Album from Collectables Records. AMG.
A hard-luck blues band of the '60s, Canned Heat was founded by blues historians and record collectors Alan Wilson and Bob Hite. They seemed to be on the right track and played all the right festivals (including Monterey and Woodstock, making it very prominently into the documentaries about both) but somehow never found a lasting audience.
Certainly their hearts were in the right place. Canned Heat's debut album -- released shortly after their appearance at Monterey -- was every bit as deep into the roots of the blues as any other combo of the time mining similar turf, with the exception of the original Paul Butterfield band. Hite was nicknamed "The Bear" and stalked the stage in the time-honored tradition of Howlin' Wolf and other large-proportioned bluesmen. Wilson was an extraordinary harmonica player, with a fat tone and great vibrato. His work on guitar, especially in open tunings (he played on Son House's rediscovery recordings of the mid-'60s, incidentally) gave the band a depth and texture that most other rhythm players could only aspire to. Henry Vestine -- another dyed-in-the-wool record collector -- was the West Coast's answer toMichael Bloomfield and capable of fretboard fireworks at a moment's notice.
Canned Heat's breakthrough moment occurred with the release of their second album, establishing them with hippie ballroom audiences as the "kings of the boogie." As a way of paying homage to the musician they got the idea from in the first place, they later collaborated on an album with John Lee Hooker that was one of the elder bluesman's most successful outings with a young white (or black, for that matter) combo backing him up. After two big chart hits with "Goin' Up the Country" and an explosive version of Wilbert Harrison's "Let's Work Together," Wilson died under mysterious (probably drug-related) circumstances in 1970, and Hite carried on with various reconstituted versions of the band until his death just before a show in 1981, from a heart seizure.
The Crosby, Stills & Nash triumvirate shot to immediate superstardom with the release of its self-titled debut LP, a sparkling set immortalizing the group's amazingly close, high harmonies. While elements of the record haven't dated well -- Nash's Eastern-influenced musings on the hit "Marrakesh Express" now seem more than a little silly, while the antiwar sentiments of "Wooden Ships," though well-intentioned, are rather hokey -- the harmonies are absolutely timeless, and the best material remains rock-solid. Stills' gorgeous opener, "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes," in particular, is an epic love song remarkable in its musical and emotional intricacy, Nash's "Pre-Road Downs" is buoyant folk-pop underpinned by light psychedelic textures, and Crosby's "Long Time Gone" remains a potent indictment of the assassination of Robert Kennedy. A definitive document of its era. AMG.
James Knight and his Butlers were part of the Miami sound of the late-’60s and early-’70s, combining funk, rock and psychedelia into one badass package. “Funky Cat” (which also appears on the excellent comp Miami Sound: Rare Funk & Soul From Miami, Florida 1967-1974) builds off drummer Roscoe Rice’s ratatat beat upon Knight’s command, “Now drumma, gimme a nice drum beat so I can move my feet!” The record is loaded with horns, organ and some ripping guitar-work from Knight. “Uncle Joe” is the best seven minutes on here, a mellow funker that builds into a noisy wash of guitars, horns and Knight’s echoed wails. This goes beyond funk into otherworldly psych. Knight and his Fabulous Butlers even whip out a blazing cover of Aretha Franklin’s “Save Me.” This a lost-and-found gem that will satisfy all of your freaky, funky needs.