terça-feira, 30 de maio de 2023

James Cotton - High Energy 1975

Shipping Cotton off to New Orleans during the mid-'70s to work with producer Allen Toussaint wasn't a good idea at all. The end result can for the most part be described as disco blues with a Crescent City funk tinge, without much to recommend it on any level. AMG.

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Lazy Smoke - Corridor Of Faces 1968

Lesser imitations of the early Beatles aren't hard to find, but it's much tougher to locate diligent imitators of the group's late-'60s sound. Here is one unheralded example, offeringa collection of mid-tempo, accessible late-'60s rock sung by a vocalist with a remarkable resemblance to John Lennon. But the songs, while not bad, are really unmemorable once the record's finished, making this more of an oddity than something to avidly seek. The CD reissue on Arf! Arf! adds a dozen previously unreleased acoustic demos by leader and songwriter John Pollano, mixing different versions of songs from the album with compositions that didn't make it onto the LP; these make his fixation with John Lennon '67-68 sound even clearer. AMG.

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Cilibrinas do Éden - Cilibrinas do Éden 1973

Brazilian ephemeral duo created in 1972 and disbanded in 1973 as a folk-psychedelic project by ex-member of Os Mutantes Rita Lee and Lucia Turnbull.

The failure of criticism and the public forced them to a change of plans, and to the two they were added the musicians of Lisergia, a rock band from São Paulo. Changing for a glam-rock mood they created Tutti Frutti as a backing band for the solo career of Rita Lee. Lucia Turnbull played and composed as a member of the band on their 1st record, after this becoming a regular writing partner with guest appearances until the last album of Rita Lee & Tutti Frutti, Babilônia. They played in the Phono 73 Festival, although there are no known recordings by the duo.

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The Allman Brothers Band - Win, Lose Or Draw 1975

An unexpectedly poor showing from the group, considering the two-year lag between albums and what had come before. Despite a good cover of Muddy Waters' "Can't Lose What You Never Had" -- highlighted by a great Dickey Betts solo -- as an opener, there's not much here that's first-rate. The band sounds lethargic, although they still play decently. The title track and Dickey Betts' instrumental "High Falls" are among the few highlights, decent but unexceptional performances sparked by Betts' playing (which is engaging even on the loser tracks like "Louisiana Lou"). The album's main fault lies not with what it is, but what it could have been, and who it's from -- as a debut album from a new band, it would be excusable and acceptable. AMG.

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Joe Farrell - Moon Germs 1972

Recorded in 1972 and released in 1973 with Herbie HancockStanley Clarke, and Jack DeJohnette, Joe Farrell's Moon Germs was a foray into the electric side of jazz. On the opener, "Great George," Farrell leads off with the hint of a melody before careening into legato streams of thought along striated intervallic paths. DeJohnette is like a machine gun, quadruple-timing the band as Clarke moves against the grain in a series of fours and eights, and Hancock's attempts to keep the entire thing anchored are almost for naught. On the title track there is more of a funk backdrop, but the complex, angular runs and insane harmonic reaches Farrell attempts on his soprano, crack, falter, and ultimately turn into something else; the sheer busy-ness of the track is dazzling. "Bass Folk Song" by Clarke, is the only thing on the record that actively engages melody rather than harmonic structures. Farrell uses his flute and Hancock strides into the same kind of territory he explored with Miles Davis, chopping up chordal phrases into single lines and feeding them wholesale to the running pair of frontmen--in this case Clarke and Farrell. DeJohnette uses a Latin backdrop to hang his drumming on and pursues a circular, hypnotic groove on the cymbals and toms. It's a gorgeous piece of music and utilizes an aspect of space within the melodic frame that the rest of these firebrand tunes do not. This is sci-fi Farrell at his creative best. AMG.

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Alexis Korner & Friends - The Party Album 1979

Without Alexis Korner, there still might have been a British blues scene in the early 1960s, but chances are that it would have been very different from the one that spawned the Rolling Stones, nurtured the early talents of Eric Clapton, and made it possible for figures such as John Mayall to reach an audience. Born of mixed Turkish/Greek/Austrian descent, Korner spent the first decade of his life in France, Switzerland, and North Africa, and arrived in London in May of 1940, just in time for the German blitz, during which Korner discovered American blues. One of the most vivid memories of his teen years was listening to a record of bluesman Jimmy Yancey during a German air raid. "From then on," he recalled in an interview, "all I wanted to do was play the blues." 

It was during the '70s that Korner had his only major hit, as leader (with Peter Thorup) of the 25-member big-band ensemble CCS. Their version of Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" charted in England, and led to a tour and television appearances. In response, Korner released Bootleg Him, a retrospective compiled from tapes in his personal collection, including recordings with Robert PlantMick Jagger, and Charlie Watts. Korner played on the "supersession" album B.B. King in London, and cut his own, similar album, Get Off My Cloud, with Keith RichardsPeter FramptonNicky Hopkins, and members of Joe Cocker's Grease Band. When Mick Taylor left the Rolling Stones in 1975, Korner was mentioned as a possible replacement, but the spot eventually went to Ron Wood. In 1978, for Korner's 50th birthday, an all-star concert was held featuring Eric ClaptonPaul JonesChris Farlowe, and Zoot Money, which was later released as a video. AMG.

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domingo, 28 de maio de 2023

Rare Earth - Ecology 1970

Two strong tracks propelled Ecology up the pop charts: the swaggering, bravado-laden "Born to Wander," written by Tom Baird, and a hard-hitting, rocking rendition of the Temptations' "I Know I'm Losing You," written by Cornelius GrantEddie Holland, and Norman Whitfield; the epic remake of the latter is almost eleven minutes of pure funk-rock. Lead singer Pete Riviera had a powerful voice, similar to Dennis Edwards, that could sell a song; the percussion and echo vocals accentuate the classic. The guys do a nice job on John Lennon and Paul McCartney's "Eleanor Rigby," and bass player John Persh's "Nice Place to Visit" adds a different twist to Rare Earth's legacy. AMG.

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Iron Butterfly - Ball 1969

Following the huge success of their second record, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, Iron Butterfly scored a second straight Top Five album with Ball. On it the group trim away some of the acid rock excesses of their earlier records, and there are no acid rock freak-outs to compare with the epic "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida." Instead they experiment with shorter, more melodic songs while still retaining their brutally loud trademark heavy guitars. AMG.

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Gong - Continental Circus 1971

Gong performed the soundtrack for Continental Circus, Jerome Laperrousaz's film about the 1970 Grands Prix 500cc. Laperrousaz also collaborated with Gilli Smyth on the compositions, which are tighter and more intricate than the band's previous release, Magick Brother. This is possibly the smallest number of musicians involved on any Gong project, and it shows in the sound of the music -- straightforward progressive rock with no surprises. Keys and synth are kept to a minimum as the band plunges forth with the standard guitar, bass and drums. Malherbe's playing (sax/flute) has not yet moved to the forefront, and the band decided to drop the psychedelic angle for this outing. Much of the music is strictly guitar-driven, with the final instrumental cut resembling early King Crimson, as is the case on several cuts from the following, far superior release, Camembert Electrique. [There is a bootleg version of Continental Circus in existence with twice as many tracks.] AMG.

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Ivan Lins - Deixa o Trem Seguir 1971

Renowned as a carioca songwriter, vocalist, and pianist, Ivan Lins recorded several albums for EMI Brasil and Reprise, as well as writing Brazilian standards. Born in 1945, Lins came to fame in Brazil in 1970 when Elis Regina recorded his song "Magdalena" for a hit. His worldwide debut, A Noite, appeared in 1979. Lins' most famous composition, "Love Dance" ("Lembrança"), has been recorded by dozens of jazz artists, including Kenny BurrellSarah VaughanBetty CarterNancy WilsonMark MurphyGeorge BensonDiane Schuur, and James Blood Ulmer. Other noted songs by Lins ("The Island," "Comecar de Novo," "Dona Palmeira," "Nocturna") have been recorded by artists including Airto MoreiraHerbie Mann, and Terence Blanchard. AMG.

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Chet Baker - Once Upon Summertime 1977

Artists House, a classy if short-lived label, released this attractive Chet Baker LP, a quintet date with tenor saxophonist Gregory Herbert, pianist Harold Danko, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Mel Lewis. The challenging material ("The Song Is You" is the only one of the five songs that is a standard) inspires the musicians to play creative solos. It is particularly interesting to hear Baker interpret the Wayne Shorter tune "ESP." AMG.

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Manfred Mann Chapter Three - Manfred Mann Chapter Three Volume 1 (1969)

It's light years from the airy pop of "Do Wah Diddy Diddy," recorded by the hit-making first group formed by South African Manfred Mann and Mike Hugg in 1963. This is as much jazz as rock. There's hardly any guitar, but a swaggering horn section compensates. Imagine a darker, moodier Traffic with Mann manning the organ instead of Steve WinwoodHugg's raspy vocals are featured on the first album recorded with the new band. The standout tracks are the album-opening "Travelling Lady" and "Time," but they are hardly the only strong ones. AMG.

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quinta-feira, 18 de maio de 2023

Supertramp - Crime Of The Century 1974

Supertramp came into their own on their third album, 1974's Crime of the Century, as their lineup gelled but, more importantly, so did their sound. The group still betrayed a heavy Pink Floyd influence, particularly in its expansive art rock arrangements graced by saxophones, but Supertramp isn't nearly as spooky as Floyd -- they're snarky collegiate elitists, an art rock variation on Steely Dan or perhaps a less difficult 10cc, filled with cutting jokes and allusions, best heard on "Bloody Well Right." This streak would later flourish on Breakfast in America, but it's present enough to give them their own character. Also present is a slight sentimental streak and a heavy fondness for pop, heard on "Dreamer," a soaring piece of art pop that became their first big hit. That and "Bloody Well Right" are the concise pop moments on the record; the rest of Crime of the Century is atmospheric like Dark Side of the Moon but with a lighter feel and a Beatles bent. At times the album floats off into its own world, with an effect more tedious than hypnotic, but it's still a huge leap forward for the group and their most consistent album outside of that 1979 masterwork, Breakfast in America. AMG.

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Alpha Ralpha - Alpha Ralpha 1977

Alpha Ralpha was a short-lived band with Michel Mareska on electric guitar, Claude Alvarez-Peryre on electric and acoustic guitars, Jean Alain Gardet (Taï Phong) on keyboards, Charlie Charriras (Variations) on bass, and Emmanuel Lacordaire (Nemo) on percussion. On their only album, four more musicians appeared: Francois Breant on piano and synth, Jean de Anthony and Claude Samard on guitars, and Jean-Jaques Goldman on vocals. Alvarez-Peryre, a co-founder of the group was a member of Malicorne, while Gardet and Goldman were the members of Taï Phong. The band released only one album, the self-titled LP released for Warner in Canada and France in 1977. Their music could be described as a mixture of jazz-rock and French symphonic, where guitars are keyboards carrying the melodies for the most part, with occasional usage of vibraphone and marimba, and vocal harmonies.

Most super obscure prog rock bands are on tiny labels or even private releases that are extremely hard to find and cost a bunch of money, and you only hope some label took up to the plate and had it reissued, like Cathedral's Stained Glass Stories (which was reissued). The French band Alpha Ralpha is very obscure, I don't even bother bringing it up because no one's heard of it, and yet they recorded for Warner Bros. Original LPs aren't too terribly expensive, but might be a bit hard to find outside of France and Canada (it was also released in Canada). I remembered some websites believing this group was Canadian, from Quebec, but they're not, only because the person running that website owned the Canadian pressing. They're indeed French, but unfortunately never been reissued in any format.

Although recorded from May to September 1976, it didn't appear until 1977 (this album could have easily appeared in November 1976, but didn't, probably record company politics). This is some rather original, but perhaps not the most mindblowing prog you're going hear all year. The group consisted of bassist Charlie Charriras, guitarist Claude Alvarez-Pereyre, guitarist Michel Mareska, keyboardist Jean Alain Gardet, and drummer Emmanuel Lacordaire. I have a feeling this group was discovered by Tai Phong, not only being on the same label but the fact that Jean-Jacques Goldman and the two Vietnamese brothers Tai and Kahn guest on this album providing some wordless voices. Also some members of Malicorne guests as well as François Bréant, of the obscure and wonderful group Cruciferius, who later recorded two albums in 1978 and 1979 on EGG that aren't impossible to get a hold of. I really can't compare this to any group in particular. "Synergy" features some nice spacy string synths and nice guitar work. "Nova" features some more nice guitar and Mini Moog work, although there's a short passage with a country influence (complete with steel guitar) I think was a bit of a mistake. "Syris Major" seems to be just a short spacy bit that leads to the nice "Genese". I especially like the use of marimba on it. "Magellan" bears more than a passing resemblance to something I've heard off François Bréant's Sons Optique, which I guess is no surprise given he appears on that song providing his keyboard work, and I can easily tell it's him as he has a style totally different from Jean Alain Gardet.

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Jasper - Liberation 1969

The British group Jasper put out a weird, unimpressively erratic album in 1969, Liberation. The unfocused record consisted largely of loose blues-rock that sometimes resembled lower-level John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers in both their blues-rock and jazz/blues-rock phases, interspersed with odd repetitions of a classical theme, "Liberation." AMG.

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