quarta-feira, 30 de janeiro de 2019

The Band - Music From Big Pink 1968

None of the Band's previous work gave much of a clue about how they would sound when they released their first album in July 1968. As it was, Music from Big Pink came as a surprise. At first blush, the group seemed to affect the sound of a loose jam session, alternating emphasis on different instruments, while the lead and harmony vocals passed back and forth as if the singers were making up their blend on the spot. In retrospect, especially as the lyrics sank in, the arrangements seemed far more considered and crafted to support a group of songs that took family, faith, and rural life as their subjects and proceeded to imbue their values with uncertainty. Some songs took on the theme of declining institutions less clearly than others, but the points were made musically as much as lyrically. Tenor Richard Manuel's haunting, lonely voice gave the album much of its frightening aspect, while Rick Danko's and Levon Helm's rough-hewn styles reinforced the songs' rustic fervor. The dominant instrument was Garth Hudson's often icy and majestic organ, while Robbie Robertson's unusual guitar work further destabilized the sound. The result was an album that reflected the turmoil of the late '60s in a way that emphasized the tragedy inherent in the conflicts. Music from Big Pink came off as a shockingly divergent musical statement only a year after the ornate productions of Sgt. Pepper, and initially attracted attention because of the three songs Bob Dylan had either written or co-written. However, as soon as "The Weight" became a minor singles chart entry, the album and the group made their own impact, influencing a movement toward roots styles and country elements in rock. Over time, Music from Big Pink came to be regarded as a watershed work in the history of rock, one that introduced new tones and approaches to the constantly evolving genre. AMG.

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Stomu Yamashta, Steve Winwood, Michael Shrieve - Go 1976

Go (1976) is a concept album in the truest sense of the term, fusing pop/rock with tinges of jazz and elements of classical all connected by a central motif of space travel. More specifically, according to Robin Denselow's liner essay, the theme deals with "change and polarity-fantasy and reality, death and re-birth, things changing to their opposites." Stomu YamashtaSteve Winwood and Michael Shrievelead an impressive ensemble through soundscapes, unveiled in a variety of perspectives. Perhaps it is the international cast of performers that allows for such an unfettered consortium of ideas that brought together former Spencer Davis GroupTraffic and Blind Faith member Steve Winwood, as well as Santana co-founder Michael Shrieve and mid-'70s era Santana percussionist Yamashta -- the latter of whom were key benefactors to the criminally underrated Santana long-player Borboletta (1974). Ably assisting the festivities are Return to Forever's Al DiMeola (guitar), Klaus Schulze (synthesizer) whose contributions to Tangerine Dream and Ash Ra Tempel remain unequaled, and Winwood's one-time Traffic accomplice Rosko Gee (bass), who also had a fruitful run with Can. Each side of the original LP contains a complete suite of interconnected and continuous music. The haunting and brooding "Crossing the Line" is reminiscent of prog-rockers Alan Parsons Project or pretentious Pink Floyd [read: anything past Meddle (1971)]. Winwood's echo-laden vocals give him an almost palpable and uncomfortable quality, perfectly suited for the austere setting that is light years away from the likes of "Sea of Joy" or "Gimmie Some Lovin'," yet is remarkably akin to "No Time to Live" from Traffic's self-titled platter. Exceedingly soulful is the propellant "Ghost Machine," with DiMeola's fiery fretwork at its best. The funky "Time Is Here" gives Winwood a perfect outlet for his R&B roots, while "Winner/Loser" -- boasting the project's only lyrics penned by Winwood -- concludes with what is arguably the most accessible pop excursion. Robin Denselow's aforementioned essay goes into great detail regarding a rather involved story line aimed at further unifying the otherwise disparate pieces. While the plot won't be ruined here for potential consumers, if your non-musical interests include Dungeons & Dragons, Star Wars and other Brainiac-related activities, the two song cycles that comprise Go will definitely be right up your alley. It scored considerably well with audiences in 1976, reaching number 60 on the Pop Album chart. In 2004, Hip-O Select compiled both Go and the companion concert. Go Live From Paris (1977). on to a limited-edition (of 2,500) two-CD package with audio remastered by Gavin Lurssen of the illustrious Mastering Lab. AMG.

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Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & The Trinity - Jools & Brian 1969

The debut album from the formation of Julie DriscollBrian Auger & The Trinity, this record introduced to America a group that had been making some noise in England for some time already. The album is a bit fragmented, containing a few Julie Driscoll solo tracks, as well as some Auger/Trinity efforts without Driscoll. One of the most amazing moments opens the record: Driscoll's solo hit (in Europe), "I Know You Love Me Not." A swirling, churning string arrangement - not unlike a psychedelic Phil Spector - is the ground work for Driscoll's steely vocals. She come across as a combination of Dusty Springfieldand Annie Lennox with a passionate performance. It's truly one of the great lost British records of the era, and alone is worth the price of the record. There is, though, a lot more. Some excellent moments for Auger, such as the swinging-jazz drenched. "Kiko" illustrate what incredible jazz chops they had. There is also an excellent cover of "Didn't Want To Have To Do It," which renders this John Sebastion classic is a new, soulful light. An inspiring, fresh debut, and swinging London at it's finest. AMG.

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Jim Capaldi - Whale Meat Again 1974

Whale Meat AgainJim Capaldi's second solo album, appeared in 1974, just before Traffic released their final album, When the Eagle Flies, and while it, like Oh How We Danced before it, has appearances from his Traffic colleagues Steve Winwood and Rebop Kwaku Baah, it feels like a break from his band in ways that his debut never did. True, it's not a drastic break, but where Traffic was getting jazzier with each album, Capaldi kept things down to earth, relying heavily on the blues whether it was in the Plastic Ono grind of the title track, or in the sighing dobros of "Yellow Sun," a lengthy jam that's all about groove, not what's being played. Oh How We Danced also maintained a groovy, mellow feel but the emphasis there was clearly on the songs, and here it's more about mood: not the instrumental interplay, but ratcheting up the soulfulness in the performances and singing, giving this album a funkier, open feel that lingers longer than the songs. AMG.

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Leviathan - The Legendary Lost Elektra Album 1969

Excellent psych group. “Leviathan – The Legendary Lost Elektra Album” may well have disappeared without making much of a ripple even if it had seen the light of day back in 1969, knowing the band’s luck, but that is not to blind us from its many good qualities. Though Leviathan were never destined to make the higher reaches of the charts and struggled to even get their records released, they had an innate skill for producing excellent Psychedelic-toned Pop Music and finally, all these years later, we have the proof. Thanks to Rockasteria.

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quinta-feira, 24 de janeiro de 2019

Speedy Keen - Previous Convictions 1973

John Keen was young Pete Townshend’s flat mate and chauffeur, but he was a musician and songwriter in his own right; in fact, Keen wrote “Armenia City in the Sky” from The Who Sell Out.  In 1969 Pete and manager Kit Lambert paired Speedy up with Andy Newman and Jimmy McCulloch in the ready-made band Thunderclap Newman, which was intended as a showcase for the three musicians.

They recorded an album at Pete’s legendary home studio, and the Keen-penned single “Something in the Air” went on to hit number one in nine different countries.  Not too shabby.

After Thunderclap Newman, Keen recorded two solo albums (this was his first) and then went to work in the studio both as a studio musician and producer.

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Jimi Hendrix - Hendrix In The West 1970

There were a lot of terrible album debacles in the wake of Jimi Hendrix's death in 1970, but there were a handful of keepers. The Cry of Love and Rainbow Bridge were both excellent, but now the material from both albums has been officially released as part of First Rays of the New Rising Sun or on another compilation. Even the best material from the really bad albums like Midnight Lightning and War Heroes, has now been officially released without the egregious posthumous overdubs. But somehow, In the West, one of those keepers, remained basically out of print until 2011. Yes, it's a hodge-podge, made of live tracks largely from 1969 and 1970. But it's a bunch of great live tracks, including some real rarities. The opening sequence of "God Save the Queen" and "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" is rare and excellent in itself, and Hendrix's intro is hilarious (he was a truly funny guy). "Little Wing" and "I Don't Live Today" (not on the original LP) were also live rarities for Hendrix, but not as rare as him covering "Blue Suede Shoes" or "Johnny B. Goode" (an absolutely blistering version that might top Chuck Berry's). "Lover Man" was a live staple, but in this version, Hendrix slips in a quote from "Flight of the Bumble Bee," and listen for a quote from "Tomorrow Never Knows" in "I Don't Live Today." Fans familiar with the original vinyl should note some differences. The versions of "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" and "Little Wing" (recorded at Royal Albert Hall) have recently been released elsewhere, so they've been replaced with versions from San Diego 1969 and Winterland 1968 (oddly enough, this very same version of "Little Wing" was also released on the Winterland box set the same day). In addition, to "I Don't Live Today," "Fire," and "Spanish Castle Magic" are added as bonus tracks, also from the San Diego show. Old vinyl fetishists may quibble that the tracks have been resequenced, but most listeners will have no idea. In the West is a great sampling of Hendrix's late-period live material (and his sense of humor) making its long awaited appearance in the digital world. AMG.

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Man - Revelation 1969

A blast from Man's psychedelic past, this debut shows the band making an auspicious debut with Hammond-drenched guitar rock. It's easy to see, between the spacy effects and unearthly vocal choruses of their single "Sudden Life," how Man positioned themselves between the space prog of Nektar and the acid-fried rock of Quicksilver Messenger Service. When "The Future Hides Its Face" melds Apollo mission control transmissions with jamming, it's certainly evocative of time both musically and historically. "And Castles Rise in Children's Eyes" takes a more measured and orchestral approach, while the wonderful "Don't Just Stand There" is the great should-be single of the album, careening as it does between spiraling organ solos and sunny choruses of harmonica and Dylanesque vocals. Not every experiment works on this album, but when Man get it right, they get it very right. AMG.

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Ellen McIlwaine - We The People 1973

The brilliant slide playing that inspired the respect of fellow guitarists John Lee HookerJohnny WinterJeff HealeyDavid Lindley, and others is obvious right off the top. In her unfettered scat singing is a hint of the fiery independence that scared off record company execs and radio playlisters alike. This is a strong sophomore effort in New York City by a sadly underexposed talent who settled in the Western Canadian city of Calgary after many nomadic years. As she would at other times in her long career, she offers her own distinctive cover of a song by sometimes collaborator Jack Bruce. Her own "All to You" finds her in a rare romantic mood, while the traditional "Farther Along" is a moving gospel number that might have pleased this powerful performer's missionary foster parents. AMG.

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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.

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Synanthesia - Synanthesia 1969

Though recorded quickly over two days -- and indeed, literally recorded live in the studio with no overdubs -- Synanthesia's sole album from 1969 is a gentle treat for anyone interested in the obscurer realms of late-'60s U.K. folk and its descendants. It's always a pleasure to hear something that did not deservedly go out of print -- and therefore get an unnecessary reputation. Instead, the combination of bandleader Dennis Homes' gentle vocals and delicate guitar work, Leslie Cook's equally strong talents, and the ace-in-the-hole performing of sax and flute player Jim Fraser is often quite magical. That the band openly has a debt to the Incredible String Band and Bert Jansch practically goes without saying, but there's a difference between mere aping and finding a particular spin on a sound, and Synanthesiafirmly comes down on the side of the latter. For such a rushed and in-the-moment album, the sound is often quite rich -- credit not only to Vic Gamm's inspired engineering, but to the band's clear abilities as a solid live act. Hearing Homes' gentle vibes work on "Peek Strangely and Worried Evening" or Cook's flourishes on mandolin for "Fates" shows how well each complements the other songwriter's work. Yet Fraser in many ways is the key throughout -- clearly picking up on jazz influences as much as folk ones, much like his bandmates, and the result is a detailed, fluid series of performances on his chosen instruments, ranging from the restrained then strutting sax parts on "Morpheus" to gentle background flute on "Rolling and Tumbling." The band's weakest element might be the lyrics, but nothing is outright bad, just sometimes awkward. Sunbeam's 2006 re-release, in keeping with the label's similar work, features not only excellent sound but winning, retrospective liner notes from Homes and a slew of rare pictures, plus a bonus track, "Shifting Sands," that originally appeared on an obscure compilation album from 1970. AMG.

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Barney Wilen - Moshi 1973

In 1970 Barney Wilen assembled a team of filmmakers, technicians, and musicians to travel to Africa for the purpose of recording the music of the native pygmy tribes. Upon returning to Paris two years later, he created Moshi, a dark, eccentric effort fusing avant jazz sensibilities with African rhythms, ambient sound effects, and melodies rooted in American blues traditions. Cut with French and African players including guitarist Pierre Chaze, pianist Michel Graillier, and percussionist Didier Leon, this is music with few precedents or followers, spanning from extraterrestrial dissonance to earthbound, street-legal funk. Wilen pays little heed to conventional structure, assembling tracks like "Afrika Freak Out" and "Zombizar" from spare parts of indeterminate origins. AMG.

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Speedy Keen - Y`Know What I Mean 1975

Keen was born in Ealing, London. He played early on with such bands as The Krewsaders, The Second Thoughts (1964–65, with Patrick Campbell-Lyons and Chris Thomas) and The Eccentrics. Keen's first recorded song was "Club of Lights", recorded in 1966 for Reaction Records by Oscar (Paul Nicholas).
Before joining Thunderclap Newman, Keen shared a flat with and worked as a chauffeur for Pete Townshend of The Who. He is famous among fans of The Who for writing "Armenia City in the Sky" which was included on the album The Who Sell Out (1967). This was the only song The Who ever performed that was specifically written for the group by a non-member. "Armenia City in the Sky" was, apparently, inspired by a long-lost painting back in the 1960s. Though Pete Townshend, principal songwriter for The Who, claims that when Keen saw the name of the song on an album liner, he told Townshend that the name of the song was wrong. It should have read "I'm an Ear Sitting in the Sky".
He wrote "Something in the Air", his most well-known song, for Thunderclap Newman and recorded two solo albums for Track and Island both of which have been released on CD recently by Esoteric (Cherry Red). "I Promise You" from the second album was used in the American TV series, The Big C. Keen was later a record producer for The Heartbreakers and Motörhead.
As a session musician, Keen played for others such as Rod StewartThe Mission, and Kenny G. He also provided music for television advertisements and television programmes such as The Zoo. As a writer, apart from "Something in the Air", "Armenia City in the Sky" and "Club of Lights", he wrote songs for The Swinging Blue Jeans ("Something's Coming Along") and Crokodile Tears ("Your Love").
Keen died of heart failure in March 2002, seventeen days before his 57th birthday.

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Be Bop Deluxe - Sunburst Finish 1976

Adding keyboard player Andrew Clark to make Be Bop Deluxe a quartet, Bill Nelson finally found a balance between his virtuosic guitar playing and the demands of pop songwriting. The arrangements were still busy, but the humor of Nelson's music was on display as never before, and the songs frequently were catchy. For the first time, it began to seem that the group had a future beyond serving as a foundation for Nelson's splashy guitar work, as Be Bop Deluxe charted in the U.S. and the U.K. and even scored a Top 25 British hit with "Ships in the Night." AMG.

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Duke Pearson - Profile 1959

Duke Pearson was an accomplished, lyrical, and logical -- if rather cautious -- pianist who played a big part in shaping the Blue Note label's hard bop direction in the 1960s as a producer. He will probably be best remembered for writing several attractive, catchy pieces, the most memorable being the moody "Cristo Redentor" for Donald Byrd, "Sweet Honey Bee" for himself and Lee Morgan, and "Jeannine," which has become a much-covered jazz standard. Pearson was introduced to brass instruments and the piano as a youth, and his abilities on the latter inspired his uncle, an Ellington admirer, to give him his nickname. Dental problems forced Pearson to abandon the brass family, so he worked as a pianist in Atlanta and elsewhere in Georgia and Florida before moving to New York in 1959. There, he joined Donald Byrd's band and the Art Farmer-Benny Golson Sextet, and served as Nancy Wilson's accompanist. In 1963, he arranged four numbers for jazz septet and eight-voice choir on Byrd's innovative A New Perspective album; one of the tunes was "Cristo Redentor," which became a jazz hit. From 1963 to 1970, Pearson was in charge of several recording sessions for Blue Note, while also recording most of his albums as a leader. He also led a big band from 1967 to 1970 and again in 1972, hiring players like Pepper AdamsChick CoreaLew TabackinRandy Brecker, and Garnett BrownPearson continued to accompany vocalists in the 1970s, such as Carmen McRae, but he spent a good deal of the latter half of the decade fighting the ravages of multiple sclerosis. AMG.

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terça-feira, 22 de janeiro de 2019

Canned Heat - Hooker'n Heat 1971

When this two-LP set was initially released in January 1971, Canned Heat was back to its R&B roots, sporting slightly revised personnel. In the spring of the previous year, Larry "The Mole" Taylor (bass) and Harvey Mandel (guitar) simultaneously accepted invitations to join John Mayall's concurrent incarnation of the Bluesbreakers. This marked the return of Henry "Sunflower" Vestine (guitar) and the incorporation of Antonio "Tony" de la Barreda (bass), a highly skilled constituent of Aldolfo de la Parra (drums). Sadly, it would also be the final effort to include co-founder Alan "Blind Owl" Wilson, who passed away in September 1970. Hooker 'n Heat (1971) is a low-key affair split between unaccompanied solo John Lee Hooker (guitar/vocals) tunes, collaborations between Hooker and Wilson (piano/guitar/harmonica), as well as five full-blown confabs between Hooker and Heat. The first platter focuses on Hooker's looser entries that vacillate from the relatively uninspired ramblings of "Send Me Your Pillow" and "Drifter" to the essential and guttural "Feelin' Is Gone" or spirited "Bottle Up and Go." The latter being among those with Wilson on piano. Perhaps the best of the batch is the lengthy seven-minute-plus "World Today," which is languid and poignant talking blues, with Hooker lamenting the concurrent state of affairs around the globe. "I Got My Eyes on You" is an unabashed derivative of Hooker's classic "Dimples," with the title changed for what were most likely legal rather than artistic concerns. That said, the readings of the seminal "Burning Hell" and "Bottle Up and Go" kept their familiar monikers intact. The full-fledged collaborations shine as both parties unleash some of their finest respective work. While Canned Heat gets top bill -- probably as it was the group's record company that sprung for Hooker 'n Heat -- make no mistake, as Hooker steers the combo with the same gritty and percussive guitar leads that have become his trademark. The epic "Boogie Chillen No. 2" stretches over 11 and a half minutes and is full of the same swagger as the original, with the support of Canned Heatigniting the verses and simmering on the subsequent instrumental breaks with all killer and no filler. The 2002 two-CD pressing by the French Magic Records label is augmented with "It's All Right," with a single edit of "Whiskey and Wimmen." AMG

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