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

listen here

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.

listen here

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.

listen here

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.

listen here

Grateful Dead - Workingman's Dead 1970

As the '60s drew to a close, it was a heavy time for the quickly crumbling hippie movement that had reached its apex just a few years earlier in 1967’s Summer of Love. Death and violence were pervasive in the form of the Manson murders, fatalities at the Altamont concert, and the ongoing loss of young lives in Vietnam despite the best efforts of anti-war activists and peace-seeking protesters. Difficult times were also upon the Grateful Dead, unofficial house band of San Francisco’s Summer of Love festivities and outspoken advocates of psychedelic experimentation both musical and chemical. The excessive studio experimentation that resulted in their trippy but disorienting third album, Aoxomoxoa, had left the band in considerable debt to their record label, and their stress wasn't helped at all by a drug bust that had members of the band facing jail time. The rough road the Dead were traveling down seemed congruent with the hard changes faced by the youth counterculture that birthed them. Fourth studio album Workingman's Dead reflects both the looming darkness of its time, and the endless hope and openness to possibility that would become emblematic of the Dead as their legacy grew. For a group already established as exploratory free-form rockers of the highest acclaim, Workingman’s Dead's eight tunes threw off almost all improvisatory tendencies in favor of spare, thoughtful looks at folk, country, and American roots music with more subdued sounds than the band had managed up until then. The songs also focused more than ever before on singing and vocal harmonies, influenced in no small way by a growing friendship with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. The band embraced complex vocal arrangements with campfire-suited folk on "Uncle John's Band" and the psychedelic cowboy blues of “High Time.”
Before they blasted off into hallucinatory rock as the Grateful Dead, several founding members had performed as Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions, a group that played traditional jug band music with earnest, heartfelt appreciation. Those early influences came into sharp focus on the bluegrass rhythms and hillbilly harmonies of "Cumberland Blues" and the glistening pedal steel and shuffling drums of "Dire Wolf." The more rocking songs add to the album's brooding feel with "New Speedway Boogie" directly addressing the violence at Altamont, and "Casey Jones," which appeared at first to be a lighthearted celebration of cocaine, but was really a lament for troubled times that felt like they were spinning off the rails.
The abrupt shift toward sublime acoustic sounds on Workingman's Dead completely changed what the Grateful Dead meant to their listeners at large. The enormous risk they took in changing their sound entirely resulted in a heartbreakingly beautiful, unquestionably pure statement and one of the more important documents of its time. They’d continue this trend on the even more roots-minded American Beauty, recorded later the same year, but the limitlessness, fearlessness, and true power of the band began here.


listen here

The Lemon Pipers - Green Tambourine 1968

Unlike the majority of bubblegum bands, the Lemon Pipers' albums are actually quite good, not least because they were one of the few bubblegum bands who were a proper band with their own songwriters (although outside writer/producers did provide the two hits, the inescapable "Green Tambourine" and the actually even better "Rice Is Nice," a sweet, harp-laden depiction of a wedding day). Even the album tracks are pretty groovy, like the Cat Stevens-like character sketches "Shoeshine Boy" and "The Shoemaker of Leatherwood Square," which effectively use trippy string sections and playful harmonies. The snottier folk-rock of "Ask Me if I Care" and the far-out "Fifty Year Void," to say nothing of the nine-minute freakout "Through With You," give Green Tambourine a harder edge than most bubblegum albums, though it's still closer to, say, the Cyrkle than Cream. Seek it out, bubblegum snobs: you'll find yourself pleasantly surprised. AMG.

listen here

Orpheus - Joyful 1969

Orpheus' final MGM album is softer and poppier than the other LPs the group had done for the label, but not that much softer and poppier, as Orpheus were already pretty piffling at the outset. Like their other albums, it's full of lushly orchestrated original material that strives to be grand and important, but is much closer to mushy, sunshine pop than art. The feel-good bounciness of the harmonies and lyrics is incessant. It's one thing to be airy, another to be airheaded, and the group often treads perilously close to the latter trait. In order for pop/rock this light and romantic to work, the melodies have to be damn good; on this album, however, they're not close to being good enough, though the disc might find favor with sunshine pop cultists after something with a little more pretension than is common in the style. All of the songs are included on the Big Beat double-CD compilation The Best of Orpheus. AMG.

listen here

Blonde On Blonde - Contrasts 1969

Blonde on Blonde's 1969 album is from the period when progressive rock, or more so pop, was new and fresh. Years before the likes of Emerson, Lake & PalmerYes, and Genesis made the genre a dirty word and punk evolved in order to destroy it, Blonde on Blonde were taking their pop and psychedelic roots that little bit further. Progressive, in the sense that the term was originally conceived: a new catchall name to describe the emerging form of music that arose from Sgt. Pepper, filled the Middle Earth Club, and by 1969, was increasingly getting more diverse than the quaint psychedelic form from which it was spurned. Blonde on Blonde had the then contemporary match of folky vocals (which could easily turn it up a gear into rock territory), fuzz guitar leads galore, and some interesting material, which veered from an almost cinematic version of "Eleanor Rigby" to the post-mod (think U.S. garage meets the Small Faces) snotty strut of "Conversationally Making the Grade," the archetypal heavy rock jam "Ride With Captain Max," and the slightly old-styled ballad "Goodbye." Of course, more dynamic musical interplay crept into the fold: classical-intoned aspirations, acoustic folk, ornate pop, and full-on rock. Contrasts is indeed an album that is characteristic of the music that was being bandied around the music press in 1969 as progressive, not the preposterous entity that it became. AMG.

listen here

The Mamas & The Papas - If You Can Believe Your Eyes And Ears 1966

In the spring of 1966, If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears represented a genuinely new sound, as fresh to listeners as the songs on Meet the Beatles had seemed two years earlier. Released just as "California Dreaming" was ascending the charts by leaps and bounds, it was the product of months of rehearsal in the Virgin Islands and John Phillips' discovery of what one could do to build a polished recorded sound in the studio -- it embraced folk-rock, pop/rock, pop, and soul, and also reflected the kind of care that acts like the Beatles were putting into their records at the time. "Monday, Monday" and "California Dreamin'" are familiar enough to anyone who's ever listened to the radio, and "Go Where You Wanna Go" isn't far behind, in this version or the very similar rendition by the Fifth Dimension. But the rest is mighty compelling even to casual listeners, including the ethereal "Got a Feelin'," the rocking "Straight Shooter" and "Somebody Groovy," the jaunty, torch song-style version of "I Call Your Name," and the prettiest versions of "Do You Wanna Dance" and "Spanish Harlem" that anyone ever recorded.
If the material here has a certain glow that the Mamas & the Papas' subsequent LPs lacked, that may be due in part to the extensive rehearsal and the exhilaration of their first experience in the studio, but also a result of the fact that it was recorded before the members' personal conflicts began interfering with their ability to work together. The work was all spontaneous and unforced here, as opposed to the emotional complications that had to be overcome before their next sessions. AMG.


listen here

Brian Auger & The Trinity - Definitely What! 1968

This was Brian Auger's proper solo debut album. It's billed to Brian Auger & the Trinity, but Julie Driscoll, who sang with Brian Auger & the Trinity on the act's most popular and best late-'60s recordings, is not present. Auger dominates the record not just with his organ, but also as composer of most of the original material, and as the vocalist. Auger was a good organ player, but not up to the level of the best British rock electric keyboardists of the 1960s, like Alan PriceRod ArgentGraham Bond, and Vincent Crane. He's also no more than adequate as a singer and songwriter, and the record is only adequate, sounding like a more progressive-minded Georgie FameAuger's principal influences are obvious in the songs he covers by Booker T. & the MG'sWes Montgomery, and Mose Allison, although there's also an odd version of "A Day in the Life" that is bolstered by an orchestra's worth of horns and strings. He gets into a Roland Kirk vibe on the title track, which is the longest, most ambitious, and not necessarily best cut. The CD reissue on Disconforme has a bonus track, "What You Gonna Do?," of undisclosed origin; it's a standard Brian Auger soul-rock original, taken from a vinyl source by the sound of things, as surface noise can be heard. AMG.

listen here

Brian Davison - Every Wich Way 1970

A few months after the disbanding of the Nice, drummer Brian Davison put together a new group he wanted to call Every Which Way and recorded what turned out to be his only solo album. Released in 1970, it was received with indifference and remains to this day cruelly underrated. While fellow ex-Nice Keith Emerson went on to form the widely successful prog rock trio Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Davison recruited unknown musicians to find a new sound miles away from the classical pomp of his former band. The result is a delightful rock album, very delicate and soft for the most part, tinged by blues and soul and reminiscent of Savoy Brown's albums of the early '70s, but also of Brian Auger's Oblivion Express. Most importantly, Davison never takes a leading role, keeping his drumming intelligent and efficient, but firmly anchored in the background. Keyboardist/singer Graham Bell wrote most of the material. Guitarist John Hedley (who disappeared after this LP) does a great job in the more energetic "All in Time." Future Procol Harum bassist Alan Cartwright puts his distinctive touch to the music. Saxophonist/flutist Geoffrey Peach (later in Lake) plays with much soul, evoking a cross between Elton Dean circa Soft Machine's Third and Mel Collins circa King Crimson's Islands. The music is deceptively simple, with exquisite arrangements and gripping vocals. The opener, "Bed Ain't What It Used to Be," pioneers a genre of restrained blues rock ballads that would become more common in the 1990s. "The Light" is the other highlight and sounds like Van der Graaf Generator playing the blues. Simplicity has rarely sounded so compelling. Every Which Way is an unsuspected treasure hidden among the piles of minor prog rock-related albums of the 1970s. AMG.

listen here

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.

listen here

segunda-feira, 2 de janeiro de 2017

The Mothers of Invention - Weasels Ripped My Flesh 1970

A fascinating collection of mostly instrumental live and studio material recorded by the original Mothers of Invention, complete with horn section, from 1967-1969, Weasels Ripped My Flesh segues unpredictably between arty experimentation and traditional song structures. Highlights of the former category include the classical avant-garde elements of "Didja Get Any Onya," which blends odd rhythmic accents and time signatures with dissonance and wordless vocal noises; these pop up again in "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Sexually Aroused Gas Mask" and "Toads of the Short Forest." The latter and "The Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue" also show Frank Zappa's willingness to embrace the avant-garde jazz of the period. Yet, interspersed are straightforward tunes like a cover of Little Richard's "Directly From My Heart to You," with great violin from Don "Sugarcane" Harris; the stinging Zappa-sung rocker "My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama," and "Oh No," a familiar Broadway-esque Zappa melody (it turned up on Lumpy Gravy) fitted with lyrics and sung by Ray Collins. Thus, Weasels can make for difficult, incoherent listening, especially at first. But there is a certain logic behind the band's accomplished genre-bending and Zappa's gleefully abrupt veering between musical extremes; without pretension, Zappa blurs the normally sharp line between intellectual concept music and the visceral immediacy of rock and R&B. Zappa's anything-goes approach and the distance between his extremes are what make Weasels Ripped My Flesh ultimately invigorating; they also even make the closing title track -- a minute and a half of squalling feedback, followed by applause -- perfectly logical in the album's context. AMG.

listen here

Bond & Brown - Two Heads Are Better Than One 1972

As epitaphs go, Graham Bond couldn't have done much better, even if he had known this set was to be his final album. Perhaps because the multi-instrumentalist was working with his old friend Pete Brown, the entire album has a wonderfully creative frisson to it, all heightened by the ease with which the band play off each other. It's particularly noticeable in the way Bond's piano and Derek Foley's lead guitar intertwine on the splendid, gospel-fired "Amazing Grass," a hallelujah to marijuana, of course. The lyrical slyness is equal to the musical adventurism, which slides deftly across genres, but is anchored by Bond's invariably barreling R&B style. Pricking the skin of dubious record head "Ig the Pig," or reflecting on the horrors of war on "CFDT (Colonel Frights' Dancing Terrapins)," drug dreams infuse the album's themes while romance lightens the mood. But it's the funky, jazzy, rockin' blues Bond & Brown celebrate across this excellent set that makes it positively unforgettable. AMG.

listen here

Michael Gibbs - Tanglewood '63 1971

A landmark record in the evolution of British jazz-rock, Tanglewood '63 assembles a who's-who of contemporary musicians -- guitarist Chris Spedding, bassist Jack Bruce and trumpeter Kenny Wheeler among them -- to create vividly majestic music of remarkable scope and energy. Mike Gibbs' ingenious arrangements suggest a pop art incarnation of a traditional big band -- assembled from blistering guitar riffage, fiery brass and deeply idiosyncratic rhythms, Tanglewood '63 nevertheless retains the soulfulness of conventional jazz, and for all its mind-expanding consciousness, the music speaks to the body as loudly as it does the intellect. Most impressive is the tactile sumptuousness of Gibbs' sound -- the music boasts as many tints and textures as a Pantone Color Guide. [Reissued in 2005 as one half of a Vocalion two-fer alongside Gibbs' self-titled Deram debut.] AMG.

listen here

Phil Ranelin - The Time is Now! 1974

Phil Ranelin's first record as a leader is worlds away from his later 1976 offering, Vibes From the Tribe. The Time Is Now is a vanguard jazz record, full of the spirit, determination, and innovation inspired by John ColtraneEric DolphyCecil TaylorPharoah Sanders, and Archie Shepp. Recorded in 1973 and 1974 and released at the end of 1974, the set shows Ranelin to be an imposing composer and frightfully good trombonist. The original album contained six compositions that are a deep musical brew of avant-garde improvisation, hard bop jazz esthetics, and soulful melodic ideas that were superimposed as a jump off point for both harmonic and rhythmic (read: Latin) invention. The stamp of Detroit is all over this thing. Tracks like the title and "Black Destiny" reflect the anger and vision of the era, while moving it all in a positive musical direction. Soloists on the set include the rest of the Tribe collective -- Marcus Belgrave and Wendell Harrison -- as well as local players who deserved far more than they received in terms of national recognitions: bassist Reggie "Shoo-Be Doo" Fields, trumpeter Charles Moore, pianist Keith Vreeland, drummer Bill Turner, and others including Ranelin himself. The arrangements on The Time Is Now were ahead of their time, clustering a rhythm section as part of the horn's front line ("13th and Senate" and the title track) and a stylistic angularity that reflected both musical history and futurism in jazz and R&B ("Time Is Running Out" and "Times Gone By"). Tortoise drummer and mastermind has remixed and remastered the entire album (and added three bonus tracks). Its sound and fidelity have changed substantially, but not the spirit or the letter of the music -- a remarkable achievement. The Time Is Now is a must for any vanguard jazz aficionado or anyone interested in the strange, rhythm-oriented evolution of Detroit music. AMG.

listen here

The Soul Children - Genesis 1972

A respectable record that, even more than many Stax albums from the late '60s and early '70s, has a substantial gospel influence. Gospel was an influence in just about every soul record, of course, but you really hear it with this quartet, especially in the opening, eight-minute "I Want to Be Loved." The mood is funky but a bit more low-key and subdued than was the case on many such LPs of the time, which is a plus -- it makes the record stand out from the crowd a little. The presence of different male and female lead singers, and shared leads within the same song, also gives it some welcome variety, even if the group didn't have what it took to be considered among the top tier of soulsters, either in terms of vocals or material. J. Blackfoot's hoarse, scratchy leads (like a muted mixture of James Brown and Otis Redding) provide the most distinctive voice. And it's his lead that paces "Hearsay," the album's upbeat hit single, which made number five on the R&B charts and the middle of the pop charts. The album was paired with 1974's Friction on a single-disc CD reissue. AMG.

listen here