terça-feira, 25 de fevereiro de 2020

The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation - Remains To Be Heard 1970

Of the numerous British blues-rock bands to spring up in the late '60s, the Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation was one of the better known, though solid reception on tours did not translate into heavy record sales. Musically, the group recalled John Mayall's Bluesbreakers during the 1966-1967 era that had produced that group's A Hard Road album, though with a somewhat more downbeat tone. The similarities were hardly coincidental, as the band's founder and leader, drummer Aynsley Dunbar, had been in the Bluesbreakers lineup that recorded the A Hard Road LP. Too, bassist Alex Dmochowski would go on to play with Mayall in the 1970s, and guitarist Jon Morshead was friendly with fellow axeman Peter Green (also in the BluesbreakersA Hard Road lineup), whom he had replaced in Shotgun Express.
Though he was only 21 when he formed the Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation, the drummer had already played with several bands of note in both his native Liverpool and London. Stints in several Merseybeat groups had culminated in his joining the Mojos, and Dunbar played on a couple of singles by the group, though these were cut after their British chart hits. Shortly after leaving the Mojos, he did his stint with the Bluesbreakers, after which he played for a few months in the Jeff Beck Group, also appearing on their 1967 single "Tallyman"/"Rock My Plimsoul." Wanting to lead his own band, in mid-1967 he formed the Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation, joined by Morshead, who'd previously been in the Moments (with a pre-Small Faces Steve Marriott), Shotgun Express, and Johnny Kidd & the Pirates; singer/guitarist/keyboardist Victor Brox, who worked for a while with British blues godfather Alexis Korner; and bassist Keith Tillman. Shortly after forming, however, Tillman left to join John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, replaced by Dmochowski, who'd played in Neil Christian's Crusaders and Winston's Fumbs.
The band's first single, 1967's "Warning"/"Cobwebs" (the A-side of which was covered by Black Sabbath), was released on the Blue Horizon label, though their four LPs would appear on Liberty. (A 1967 recording credited to the Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation that was issued on the compilation History of British Blues, Vol. 1, "Stone Crazy," is not the original lineup, but Dunbar playing with singer Rod Stewart, guitarist Peter Green, and bassist Jack Bruce.) Though their records received some positive press, and the band toured heavily (including six weeks in the United States in early 1969), they didn't crack the LP charts. With the addition of keyboardist Tommy Eyre, they expanded to a five-piece for their third album, the John Mayall-produced To Mum, from Aynsley and the Boys, on which they added some mild jazz and R&B ingredients. In late 1969, however, the group split up, Dunbar and Eyre forming the short-lived jazz-rock band Aynsley Dunbar's Blue Whale. At the request of management, a fourth album, Remains to Be Heard, was posthumously compiled, in part using outtakes from To Mum, from Aynsley and the BoysDunbar appears on only four of the ten tracks, however, and the remaining half-dozen songs include some vocal and instrumental contributions from musicians not in the band, making for an anti-climactic and unrepresentative final release.
Dunbar had by far the most impressive career after the demise of the group, going on to play with Frank ZappaJourney, and Whitesnake. In addition to playing with MayallDmochowski subsequently worked with Morshead in Heavy Jelly, as well as doing sessions with ZappaGraham Bond, and Peter Green. AMG.

listen here

Steve Winwood - Steve Winwood 1977

Rock fans had been waiting for a Steve Winwood solo album for more than a decade, as he made his way through such bands as the Spencer Davis Group and Traffic. When Winwood finally delivered with this LP, just about everybody was disappointed. Traffic had finally petered out three years before, but Winwood, using such former members as Jim Capaldi and Rebop Kwaku Baah, failed to project a strong individual identity outside the group. That great voice was singing the songs, that talented guitarist/keyboardist was playing them, and that excellent songwriter had composed them, but nothing here was memorable, and the long-awaited debut proved a bust. AMG.

listen here

Tripsichord Music Box - Tripsichord Music Box 1969

The Tripsichord Music Box was one of the many San Francisco bands managed and produced by self-styled psychedelic svengali Matthew Katz -- despite a slim body of recorded work that stands among the most atmospheric and cosmic to emerge from the Bay Area scene in the post-Summer of Love era, they are sadly best-known as one of the so-called "fake Grape" units unleashed on unsuspecting audiences after Katz lost control of his former protégés, the legendary Moby Grape. Originally dubbed the Ban, Tripsichord Music Box formed in Lompoc, California in 1963 -- the group was founded by singer/guitarist Tony McGuire, bassist Frank Straight, keyboardist Oliver McKinney, and drummer Randy Guzman (sometimes credited as Randy Gordon to avoid conflict due to his parents' management of the act). 
According to the book Acid, Fuzz & Flowers, the Ban signed to the Brent label to release their lone single, the garage rock stomper "Bye-Bye," splitting soon after when McGuire was drafted to serve in Vietnam; the remaining threesome then recruited singer/bassist David Zandonatti, with Straight moving to lead guitar. Rechristening themselves the Now, they relocated to Los Angeles, sharing Sunset Strip stages with local acts including the Seeds and the Strawberry Alarm Clock before signing to Milton Berle's Embassy label for the 1967 effort "I Want." The single attracted little attention, however, and the Now relocated to San Francisco. There they connected with Katz, who essentially discovered Jefferson Airplane along with Moby Grape -- Katz soon signed the band to his San Francisco Sound label, rechristening them the Tripsichord Music Box. In late 1967 the group recorded three tracks -- "You're the Woman," "It's No Good" and "The Family Song" -- later included on the Fifth Pipedream: The San Francisco Sound, Vol. 1 compilation. When Moby Grape severed ties to Katz, he laid claim to their name, forcing Tripsichord Music Box to play a series of live dates under the Moby Grape aegis -- the deception ultimately prompted McKinney to quit the band in 1969, with guitarist Bill Carr signing on in his place. Around this same time, Zandonatti's high school friend Ron McNeeley also began sitting in on vocals, and after a 1969 single, "Times and Seasons," Tripsichord dropped the "Music Box" from their name in time to cut their sole full-length, a self-titled cult classic issued in 1970. Their dark yet ethereal music found few takers, however, and the band relocated to Utah, splitting when Zandonatti and McNeely joined the Sons of Mosiah, a Mormon musical troupe managed by future U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch. Ironically, Guzman later played drums in a legitimate incarnation of Moby Grape. AMG.

listen here

Keef Hartley Band - The Battle Of North West Six 1969

The Battle of North West Six is the second album by the Keef Hartley Band. At the time, Hartley's six-piece group was appearing augmented with a brass section as The Keef Hartley Big Band, and a number of songs on the album feature this extended line-up.

listen here

It's A Beautiful Day - Marrying Maiden 1970

The second long-player from It's a Beautiful Day is an exceedingly more pastoral effort than the band's self-titled debut. As many of the Bay Area groups -- most notably the Grateful Dead with Workingman's Dead and American Beauty -- had begun to do, the band realigns its sound from the dark psychedelia and proto-prog of its earlier works and into a lighter and earthier country-flavored rock. Marrying Maiden does, however, continue highlighting both the sextet's stellar instrumental proficiencies as well as vocals -- featuring the entire band -- throughout. "Don and Dewey," the album's opener, is a hot-steppin' spotlight for David LaFlamme's classically trained violin work. Presumably, the tune is an ode to the late-'50s/early-'60s R&B duo of the same name. The track has distinct hints of the concurrent contributions that LaFlamme had been making in an incipient incarnation of Dan Hick & His Hot Licks. It likewise sets the tenor for the remainder of the disc's down-home feel. The cover of folkie Fred Neil's "The Dolphins" is notable for Fred Webb's honky tonk piano fills and LaFlamme's vocals, recalling some of the earliest New Riders of the Purple Sage sides. One of the more solidly unifying factors linking the NRPS and It's a Beautiful Day is the guest appearance by Jerry Garcia, who is featured on two numbers. As he had done on Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's "Teach Your Children," Garcia lends a few distinct pedal steel guitar riffs to the perky "It Comes Right Down to You." The track also features former Charlatan Richard Olsen on, of all things, clarinet. Another sign of the times is the pickin' and grinnin' on the appropriately titled "Hoedown" -- on which Garcia adds some fiery banjo fretwork. AMG.

listen here

Clinic - Now We're Even 1972

New York-born singer/bassist Phil Trainer had spent several years traveling the world playing in various bands.  He'd also spent some time with former Shorty and Them keyboardist Alan Reeves in a band called Clinic.

The original Clinic never attracted much attention, but in 1969 Trainer was living in Paris where he crossed paths with singer/guitarist Phil Brigham.  Having moved to Paris with his family, Brigham was still in high school.  Attending The American School of Paris, he'd started a rock band with fellow students Chris Hayward and Gerry Murphy.   Along with Reeves, Trainer recruited the three high schoolers for a new version of Clinic.

listen here

sábado, 22 de fevereiro de 2020

R.J. Fox - Retrospective Dreams 1971

RJ Fox never released an album and was virtually unknown outside Marin County, which is precisely the reason why the two-CD, 39-track collection Retrospective Dreams is such a magical document. This two-guys-and-a-girl acoustic trio transplanted itself to San Francisco all the way from Detroit in the heady days of 1971, managed to finagle their way into the studio where David Crosby was recording his masterpiece, If I Could Only Remember My Name, and proceeded to stun Crosby and his producer Stephen Barncard with progressive folk songs of endless depth (both lyrical and musical) and brilliant three-part modal harmonies. 
They recorded an album for Atlantic that was shelved at the last minute due to some shady record-industry dealings, as well as a wealth of other recordings, experimental sessions, and solo demos over the next several years, none of which ever saw the light of day until reissued in this 1993 set. The first eight songs of disc one offer the legendary, unreleased 1971 Atlantic LP in its entirety, and the legend is dearly deserved. Offering four cuts apiece from Richard Hovey and Joel Siegel, the album is consistently thrilling, bathed in the same hazy beauty as all of Barncard's productions from the period. Songs like "Cheesecake," the stunningly labyrinthine "Lament #1," the loping country-gospel of "Amanda," and "Night of Rides" have such intricate, flawless harmonies that even CSN would have trouble hitting them, as well as wonderfully dense acoustic arrangements and progressive chord shifts. The rest of the first disc and the entirety of disc two consist of recordings made by various permutations of the group between 1971 and 1978, including eight selections from the 1973 album by Oasis, which essentially was Siegel and Sherry Fox's spin-off unit. Of these, Fox's chilling Joni Mitchell-like performances on "Parallel Trains," her own piano ode "Nobody's Home," and "Music Man" are nothing less than astounding (as is her singing throughout), but many of the other 30-odd songs are near-equals to the ones on the Atlantic record, some just a step or two below. Everything is remixed and remastered by Barncard himself, and the package is rounded out with a nice booklet of notes and photographs. Still, it was released in only a limited edition of 1,000 CDs, so may be difficult to come by. But if you've ever wondered why so many music lovers remain devoted to the era, it is because of an out-of-the-blue discovery like the stockpile of songs on Retrospective Dreams, an unearthing almost as astounding as that of Merrell Fankhauser's Mu recordings. AMG.

listen here

Edgar Broughton Band - Wasa Wasa 1969

Establishing themselves as an unholy collision between the still-nascent Pink Fairies and the legendary Fugs, the debut album by British free-festival favorites the Edgar Broughton Band almost literally re-created the spirit of their natural territory -- a muddy field full of sunbaked hippies -- with eight more or less epic tracks that, though their inspiration has long become the stuff of ancient history, remain essential listening to all but the most jaded ears. All maniacal cackle and frenzied riffing, the band's first single, "Evil," and the brutal bellowing of "Love in the Rain" are the most conventional numbers in that they were certainly written as crowd-pleasing stompers in the days before "Out Demons Out" established itself as the Edgar Broughton Band's all-consuming anthem. More impressive, however, are the numbers which see the band stretching both their capabilities and their audience's expectations -- the lengthy opus "Dawn Crept Away," the evocatively titled "Death of an Electric Citizen," and, best of all, "American Boy Soldier." Ranking alongside Black Sabbath's "War Pigs" as British rock's finest contribution to the Vietnam War, it is a Mothers of Invention-esque piece that blends sneering spoken word with a delightfully doo wop-ish invocation of all that war really has to offer and all that its servants leave behind. "Shot down from my plane/Never be the same again/I was just 16 years old." As jaggedly metallic as it is theatrically ambitious, Wasa Wasa (an Eskimo phrase meaning "from far, far away") stands alongside early albums by the Fairies, the Deviants, and Hawkwind as a dramatic snapshot of a very special moment in time, as the whimsical hopefulness of the late '60s gave way to the chilled cynicism of the early '70s. And, while the band would certainly produce better songs over the next three years, they never again unleashed such a potent mood. AMG.

listen here

The Fourth Way - The Sun and Moon Have Come Together 1969

Formed in 1968, musical group The Fourth Way was among the first bands to merge rock, jazz, and non-Western musical approaches in a way that mirrored the mixed-race membership of the band—white New Zealander pianist Mike Nock, black American violinist Michael White, white American bassist Ron McClure, and black American drummer Eddie Marshall—a notable feature at the time. The band’s eponymous debut and their second release, a live recording titled The Sun and Moon Have Come Together, were recorded in the fall of 1969. Their final recording, Werwolf, was a live recording of their appearance in the 1970 Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. However, with the exception of a small number of dates clustered around the band’s appearance in Montreux, The Fourth Way rarely performed outside of the San Francisco Bay Area, limiting their exposure.

listen here

The Lovin' Spoonful - Daydream 1966

The band's second LP was very strong; this time, most of the tunes are originals, with the exception of a cover of "Bald Headed Lena." Joe Butler and Yanovsky are featured on some lead vocals, and the album includes two more hits, "You Didn't Have to Be So Nice" and "Didn't Want to Have to Do It." [The 2002 reissue includes instrumental versions of "Jug Band Music" and "Fishin' Blues," demo versions of "Daydream" and "Didn't Want to Have to Do It," an alternate version of "Night Owl Blues" and an extra track, "Big Noise From Speonk."] AMG.

listen here

Deep Purple - Concerto For Group And Orchestra 1970

Back in 1970, it seemed as though any British group that could was starting to utilize classical elements in their work -- for some, like ELP, that meant quoting from the classics as often and loudly as possible, while for others, like Yes, it meant incorporating classical structures into their albums and songs. Deep Purple, at the behest of keyboardman Jon Lord, fell briefly into the camp of this offshoot of early progressive rock with the Concerto for Group and Orchestra. For most fans, the album represented the nadir of the classic (i.e., post-Rod Evans) group: minutes of orchestral meandering lead into some perfectly good hard rock jamming by the band, but the trip is almost not worth the effort. Ritchie Blackmore sounds great and plays his heart out, and you can tell this band is going to go somewhere, just by virtue of the energy that they put into these extended pieces. The classical influences mostly seem drawn from movie music composers Dimitri Tiomkin and Franz Waxman (and Elmer Bernstein), with some nods to RachmaninoffSibelius, and Mahler, and they rather just lay there. Buried in the middle of the second movement is a perfectly good song, but you've got to get to it through eight minutes of orchestral noodling on either side. The third movement is almost bracing enough to make up for the flaws of the other two, though by itself, it wouldn't make the album worthwhile -- Pink Floyd proved far more adept at mixing group and orchestra, and making long, slow, lugubrious pieces interesting. As a bonus, however, the producers have added a pair of hard rock numbers by the group alone, "Wring That Neck" and "Child in Time," that were played at the same concert. They and the third movement of the established piece make this worth a listen. AMG.

listen here

Chicken Shack - Accept 1970

This British blues-rock group is remembered mostly for their keyboard player, Christine Perfect, who would join Fleetwood Mac after marrying John McVie and changing her last name. Although they were one of the more pedestrian acts of the British blues boom, Chicken Shack was quite popular for a time in the late '60s, placing two albums in the British Top 20. The frontperson of Chicken was not Perfect/McVie, but guitarist Stan Webb, who would excite British audiences by entering the crowds at performances, courtesy of his 100-meter-long guitar lead. They were signed to Mike Vernon's Blue Horizon label, a British blues pillar that had its biggest success with early Fleetwood Mac.
Chicken Shack was actually not far behind Mac in popularity in the late '60s, purveying a more traditional brand of Chicago blues, heavily influenced by Freddie King. Although Webb took most of the songwriting and vocal duties, Christine Perfect also chipped in with occasional compositions and lead singing. In fact, she sang lead on their only British Top 20 single, "I'd Rather Go Blind" (1969). But around that time, she quit the music business to marry John McVie and become a housewife, although, as the world knows, that didn't last too long. Chicken Shack never recovered from Christine's loss, commercially or musically. Stan Webb kept Chicken Shack going, with a revolving door of other musicians, all the way into the 1980s, though he briefly disbanded the group to join Savoy Brown for a while in the mid-'70s. AMG.

listen here

Orpheus - Ascending 1968

On this, their second album, Orpheus has created more rococo, orchestrated sunshine pop. It's different from their debut only in the virtual absence of the occasional psychedelic flourishes. This release is also distinguishable from the first by some uncharacteristic departures into good-time folk-rock ("Borneo") and straightforward, late-'60s rock (the cover of "She's Not There"). Otherwise, it offers harmony and sunshine pop with lyrics and arrangements suggestive of a fairyland where lovers perpetually walk on air, best heard on "I'll Fly," which sounds a bit like a Jimmy Webb outtake that missed out on getting onto a Fifth Dimension LP. The group and producer Alan Lorber often seem to be trying to create elegant chamber rock, but the music could use a lot more guts and realism. The melodies prove that Orpheus is no Left Banke, although they give "Walk Away Renee" a try, launching their cover with harmonies ripped off from the Association's "Never My Love." With the exception of "Don't Be So Serious," all of the album's tracks are included on the double-CD Big Beat compilation The Best of Orpheus. AMG.

listen here

Food Brain - Social Gathering 1970

The project was created Ikuzo Orita - Head of the Japanese branch of Polydor, specifically for pubs Chen (Shinki Chen) with an invitation to other well-known (at that time, and especially in the future) Japanese musicians - keyboardist Hiro Yanagidy (Hiro Yanagida, ex-Apryl Fool), drummer Hiro Tsunody (Hiro Tsunoda) and bassist Masayoshi Kabe (Masayoshi Kabe). Prog with some rock psych touches.

listen here

Tea & Symphony - An Asylum For The Musically Insane 1969

Formed in Birmingham, England, this adventurous ensemble was part of the city’s Big Bear management stable. Although Tea And Symphony originally comprised James Langston (vocals, guitar), Jeff Daw (guitar) and Nigel Phillips (drums, ‘exotic’ instruments), they were often augmented by musicians from the agency including Bob Lamb and Mick Hincks from the group Locomotive. Tea And Symphony’s debut An Asylum For The Musically Insane, was an enchanting, if self-indulgent collection, but its period-piece madness was sadly jettisoned for the more formal follow-up, Jo Sago. Guitarists Bob Wilson and Dave Carroll were now part of the group’s fluid line-up, but the ensemble broke up in 1971 when both of these artists, and drummer Bob Lamb, joined the Idle Race. The three individuals remained with their new-found outlet when it became known as the Steve Gibbons Band. AMG.

listen here

terça-feira, 18 de fevereiro de 2020

Grateful Dead - Skull And Roses (Live) 1971

The Grateful Dead's second live album, released on October 24, 1971. Although the eponymous album was published without a title, it is generally referred to as 'Skull and Roses' due to the iconic cover art by Alton Kelley. The band originally wanted to call the album 'Skull Fuck', but not surprisingly, Warner Brothers objected. The album became the first Dead record to be certified gold by the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America).

listen here

J.J. Cale - Naturally 1971

J.J. Cale's debut album, Naturally, was recorded after Eric Clapton made "After Midnight" a huge success. Instead of following Slowhand's cue and constructing a slick blues-rock album, Cale recruited a number of his Oklahoma friends and made a laid-back country-rock record that firmly established his distinctive, relaxed style. Cale included a new version of "After Midnight" on the album, but the true meat of the record lay in songs like "Crazy Mama," which became a hit single, and "Call Me the Breeze," which Lynyrd Skynyrd later covered. On these songs and many others on NaturallyCale effortlessly captured a lazy, rolling boogie that contradicted all the commercial styles of boogie, blues, and country-rock at the time. Where his contemporaries concentrated on solos, Cale worked the song and its rhythm, and the result was a pleasant, engaging album that was in no danger of raising anybody's temperature. AMG.

listen here

King Crimson - Islands 1971

Considered as the weakest Crimson studio album from their first era is only a real disappointment in relation to the extraordinarily high quality of the group's earlier efforts. The songs are somewhat uneven and draw from three years of inspiration. "The Letter" is an adaptation of "Drop In," a group composition that was featured in the early set of the original Crimson lineup from 1969, while "Song of the Gulls" goes back to the pre-King Crimson trio of Giles, Giles & Fripp for its source ("Suite No. 1"). There are also a few surprises, such as the Beatles-like harmonies on the raunchy "Ladies of the Road" and the extraordinary interweaving of electric guitar and Mellotron by Robert Fripp on "A Sailor's Tale, which is one of the highlights of the early- to mid-period group's output. Some of the music overstays its welcome -- several of the six tracks are extended too far, out of the need to fill up an LP -- but the virtuosity of the band picks up most of the slack on the composition side: Collins' saxes and Wallace's drums keep things much more than interesting in tandem with Fripp's guitar and Mellotron, and guest vocalist Paulina Lucas' keening accompaniment carries parts of "Formentera Lady" that might otherwise have dragged. AMG. 

listen here