domingo, 25 de julho de 2021

Niemen - Strange Is This World 1972

With a backing band including the members of SBB, Czesław Niemen's first English-language album is a wild trip through the spacey, psychedelic territory. Nieman's vocal performance brings to mind the mighty lungs of old-time psychedelic greats like Arthur Brown, whilst the musical backing warps these songs - including the Otis Redding I've Been Loving You Too Long and the title track, which is a mutation of a track from significantly earlier in Nieman's career - into weird, not-quite-ambient atmospheric jams. The end result is a fascinatingly original collaboration between some of the great names of the 70s-era Polish prog which will be of interest to all fans of the trippier end of prog.

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Milwaukee Iron - Milwaukee Iron 1978

This LP features 12 solid tracks that are heavily influenced by traditional country with hints of blues, folk and rock. The music is well played, but for the most part just standard country fare with plenty of banjo and lap-steel to drive the point home. Interesting lyrics ranging from funny ("Cheezy Rider") to gross ("Jerk Me Off"), all with a wink and a nod to late 60's - early 70's outlaw motorcycle lifestyle. Female vocalist/songwriter Rogene is featured on 8 of the 12 tracks and sings with a strong pure voice that at times seems almost too good for this material ('If I've Ever Seen A Biker, He Is 1"). When she does wander slightly off-pitch ("Turn Me Over, Don't Turn Me Out") the listener is reminded that these songs are nice enough, but could have used more studio time.

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Neil Young - Rust Never Sleeps 1979

Rust Never Sleeps, its aphoristic title drawn from an intended advertising slogan, was an album of new songs, some of them recorded on Neil Young's 1978 concert tour. His strongest collection since Tonight's the Night, its obvious antecedent was Bob Dylan's Bringing It All Back Home, and, as Dylan did, Young divided his record into acoustic and electric sides while filling his songs with wildly imaginative imagery. The leadoff track, "My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)" (repeated in an electric version at album's end as "Hey Hey, My My [Into the Black]" with slightly altered lyrics), is the most concise and knowing description of the entertainment industry ever written; it was followed by "Thrasher," which describes Young's parallel artistic quest in an extended metaphor that also reflected the album's overall theme -- the inevitability of deterioration and the challenge of overcoming it. Young then spent the rest of the album demonstrating that his chief weapons against rusting were his imagination and his daring, creating an archetypal album that encapsulated his many styles on a single disc with great songs -- in particular the remarkable "Powderfinger" -- unlike any he had written before. AMG.

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Joseph Jarman - Song For 1966

This was one of the early classics of the AACM. Altoist Joseph Jarman, who would become a permanent member of the Art Ensemble of Chicago shortly after this recording, is heard in a sextet with trumpeter William Brimfield, the legendary tenor Fred Anderson, pianist Christopher Gaddy, bassist Charles Clark, and either Steve McCall or Thurman Barker on drums. The four very diverse improvisations include one that showcases a Jarman recitation, a dirge, the intense "Little Fox Run," and the title cut, which contrasts sounds and a creative use of silence. Overall, this music was the next step in jazz after the high-energy passions of the earlier wave of the avant-garde started to run out of fresh ideas. It's recommended for open-eared listeners. The 1996 CD reissue adds an alternate take of "Little Fox Run" to the original program. AMG.

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The Zombies - Begin Here 1965

The Zombies were one of the best and most original pop groups to rise from the British Beat scene of the early to mid-'60s, with striking harmonies, gorgeous melodies, a gifted and nuanced lead singer in Colin Blunstone, and a keyboard player, Rod Argent, who was just as comfortable with jazz and blues as he was with rock, and not afraid to blend his influences in the course of a song. Given all this, the Zombies' first album, 1965's Begin Here, is a bit of a disappointment; while it's an inarguably fine set of songs, half of the tunes are covers, mostly of R&B standards, and while the band plays them with genuine passion and impressive skill, the truth is there were plenty of bands on the U.K. Beat scene who could play "I Got My Mojo Working," "Road Runner," or "You've Really Got a Hold on Me" at least as well if not better. It's on the originals, written by Argent and guitarist Chris White, where one hears what really made the Zombies special. "She's Not There" was an international hit, and the slightly ominous rumble of Argent's electric piano, the emphatic lead vocal from Blunstone, and the melodic lift of the harmonies give it a sound not quite like anyone else around at the time, while "I Can't Make Up My Mind" and "I Don't Want to Know" are similarly well-crafted and thoughtful. "Woman" and "What More Can I Do" are hard-driving R&B numbers that allow the group's individual personality to shine through (especially in Argent and White's forceful instrumental work), and "I Remember When I Loved Her" is a moody and atmospheric piece that anticipates the tone of the group's masterful final album Odessey and Oracle. Given the wealth of fine original tunes that the Zombies released on various non-LP singles and EPs during this period, it's a shame that so much of Begin Here was given over to covers; it's still a fine album and certainly better than what most of their peers had to offer in 1965, but what could have been achieved on a par with the KinksFace to Face or the BeatlesRubber Soul ended up being something quite good instead of an unqualified triumph. AMG,

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Heads Hands & Feet - Heads Hands & Feet 1971

A well crafted piece of rock music. This Eponymous LP shows the bands' musicianship throughout and in particular exudes some truly wonderful drumming and guitar playing . The analog production and engineering is in top form. Where this LP fails is its lack of strong melody and memorable hooks. The LP is quite diverse including tympani on Little Bit Lonely with a Beach Boys Pet Sounds overtone. Numerous attempts were made to grab the ear of the listener but it mostly seems to fall short. There's plenty of blue-eyed soul, funk and ballads with several bright spots just little sticky cerebral substance. I make this comparison as an example with their Old Grey Whistle Test performance of a song called "Warming Up The Band". A few exceptions might be the tasty Song For Suzie, Devil's Elbow (somewhat of a Gregg Allman sound) and bluesy Tirabad with it's inclusion of Albert Lee playing a slide through a chorus (or possibly a Leslie - common back in the day) note however how the track fades on the vocal line..somewhat out of place. For any Tony Joe White fans, you may enjoy this one notch further than your average listener. The TJW sporadic flavoring are remarkably similar on certain tracks. AMG.

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Archie Shepp - Poem For Malcolm 1969

This LP from the English Affinity LP is a mixed bag. Best is "Rain Forrest" on which tenor saxophonist Archie Shepp, in a collaboration with trombonist Grachan Moncur III, pianist Vince Benedetti, bassist Malachi Favors, and drummer Philly Joe Jones, perform some stirring free jazz; the interplay between Shepp and Jones is particularly exciting. On a four-and-a-half minute "Oleo," Shepp "battles" some bebop with fellow tenor Hank Mobley, but the other two tracks, a workout for the leader's erratic soprano on "Mamarose," and his emotional recitation on "Poem for Malcolm," are much less interesting, making this a less than essential release despite "Rain Forrest." AMG.

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quinta-feira, 15 de julho de 2021

Caetano Veloso - Jóia 1975

Jóia was released simultaneously with Qualquer Coisa in 1975, and bears resemblance both to that album and Caetano Veloso's previous and highly experimental studio album Araçá Azul. As on Qualquer Coisa, the sound is quiet, soft, and mainly acoustic. If anything, Jóia comes across as even more soft and quiet than Qualquer Coisa. There are many very beautiful melodies on the record, and two of the finest are "Lua, Lua, Lua" and "Guá." Unlike Qualquer Coisa, almost all of the songs here are Veloso originals, but there is also an unusual interpretation of "Help!," the famous Beatles song. The soft general tone of the album and some experimental tracks perhaps make Jóia less directly accessible than other Veloso classics, like for example his next album, Bicho. Nevertheless, the album is a great one and, to many people, one of the best Veloso has ever recorded. AMG.

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Ross - Ross 1974

British hard-rock and a prog band fronted by guitarist/singer Alan Ross (formerly with John Entwistle's group), also featuring Bob Jackson who played Keyboards and Lead Vocals with Indian Summer. They existed about two years 1973/1974 gaining international release on RSO Records, with some success in Germany and the States, but failing to get an audience in their home UK, they soon split up after "The Pit & The Pendulum" an ambitious sophomore concept album.

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Thin Lizzy - Johnny The Fox 1977

Jailbreak was such a peak that it was inevitable that its follow-up would fall short in some fashion and Johnny the Fox, delivered the same year as its predecessor, did indeed pale in comparison. What's interesting about Johnny the Fox is that it's interesting, hardly a rote repetition of Jailbreak but instead an odd, fitfully successful evolution forward. All the same strengths are still here -- the band still sounds as thunderous as a force of nature, Phil Lynott's writing is still graced with elegant turns of phrase, his singing is still soulful and seductive -- but the group ramped up the inherent drama in Lynott's songs by pushing them toward an odd, half-baked concept album. There may be a story within Johnny the Fox -- characters are introduced and brought back, at the very least -- but it's impossible to tell. If the album only had an undercooked narrative and immediate songs, such digressions would be excusable, but the music is also a bit elliptical in spots, sometimes sounding theatrical, sometimes relying on narration. None of this falls flat, but it's never quite as gripping as Jailbreak -- or the best moments here, for that matter, because when Johnny the Fox is good, it's great, as on the surging "Don't Believe a Word" or the elegiac "Borderline." These are the reasons why Johnny the Fox is worth the extra effort, because it does pay off even if it isn't quite as good as what came immediately before -- or immediately afterward, for that matter. AMG.

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Van Morrison - Blowin' Your Mind (1967)

Although Van Morrison's first solo album is remembered for containing the immortal pop hit "Brown Eyed Girl," Blowin' Your Mind! is actually a dry run for his masterpiece, Astral Weeks. Songs like "Who Drove the Red Sports Car" look to that song cycle, even as "Midnight Special" nods to Morrison's R&B past. But it's the agonizing "T.B. Sheets" -- all nine-plus minutes of it -- that dominates this record and belies its trendy title and pop association. "T.B. Sheets" takes the blues and reinvents it as noble tragedy and humiliating mortality. It's where Van Morrison emerges as an artist. [Blowin' Your Mind! was superseded in 1991 by Bang Masters, which contains all of its tracks except "He Ain't Give You None," presented in an alternate take, plus Morrison's other recordings for Bang.] AMG.

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Vanilla Fudge - Vanille Fudge 1967

In a debut consisting of covers, nobody could accuse Vanilla Fudge of bad taste in their repertoire; with stoned-out, slowed-down versions of such then-recent classics as "Ticket to Ride," "Eleanor Rigby," and "People Get Ready," they were setting the bar rather high for themselves. Even the one suspect choice -- Sonny Bono's "Bang Bang" -- turns out to be rivaled only by Mott the Hoople's version of "Laugh at Me" in putting Bono's songwriting in the kindest possible light. Most of the tracks here share the common structure of a disjointed warm-up jam, a Hammond-heavy dirge of harmonized vocals at the center, and a final flat-out jam. Still, some succeed better than others: "You Keep Me Hanging On" has a wonderfully hammered-out drum part, and "She's Not There" boasts some truly groovy organ jams. While the pattern can sound repetitive today, each song still works as a time capsule of American psychedelia. AMG.

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Paul Chambers - Whims Of Chambers 1956

Of the seven songs on this Blue Note date, four are more common than the other three because they contain solos by tenor saxophonist John Coltrane and have therefore been reissued more often. Actually there are quite a few solos in the all-star sextet (which includes the bassist-leader, Coltrane, trumpeter Donald Byrd, guitarist Kenny Burrell, pianist Horace Silver, and drummer Philly Joe Jones) and all of the players get their chances to shine on this fairly spontaneous hard bop set. Coltrane's two obscure compositions ("Nita" and "Just for the Love") are among the more memorable tunes and are worth reviving. "Tale of the Fingers" features the quintet without Coltrane, the rhythm section stretches out on "Whims of Chambers," and "Tale of the Fingers" is a showcase for Chambers' bowed bass. This is a fine effort and would be worth picking up by straight-ahead jazz fans even if John Coltrane had not participated. AMG.

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Thomas F. Browne - Wednesday's Child 1971

It's one of the unwritten laws of record collecting that some labels guaranteed quality simply by existing -- and, if a record bears that sainted logo, then it's worth any investment you care to make. Of course, it doesn't always work that way, as collectors of the legendary U.K. prog label Vertigo will ruefully inform you. But anybody taking a chance on one of the final albums to be released beneath the label's spiral logo, the one-and-only album by singer/songwriter Thomas F. Browne, might well find themselves wondering why the company wasted so much wax on half-hearted jazz-rock, and so little exploring the further reaches of the folk-rock hybrid. Browne himself was drummer with the '60s beat band Nero & the Gladiators, a heavily classics-influenced band that also featured future Spooky Tooth/Foreigner guitarist Mick Jones for a time. Indeed, Jones and Browne alone later worked together as the State of Mickey & Tommy, and Wednesday's Child continued the partnership, with additional (and supremely characteristic) help from fellow Spooky Gary Wright, and the Sandy Denny-less Fotheringay. Such heavyweight backing, of course, dictates much of the ensuing mood, a gently rolling collection of ballads that fall into much the same bag as the period Strawbs and Mike HeronBrowne's voice is not always at its best, lacking the depth of expression that his lyrics generally demand. But the power of the arrangements and some wonderfully atmospheric backing vocals from Doris Troy and Sue & Sunny readily salvage things, and songs like "Carry My Load" (with a breathtaking Jones guitar solo) and "Dark Eyed Lady"'s cheeky approximation of "Pinball Wizard"'s acoustic guitar hook are both supremely contagious, while "The Alamo" is as epic as the land it immortalizes. AMG.

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Ohio Knox - Ohio Knox 1971

Ohio Knox was formed in 1972 in Los Angeles, California, USA, by Peter Gallaway (vocals/guitar; ex-Fifth Avenue Band) and also comprised the session musicians Paul Harris (keyboards), Ray Neopolitan (bass) and Dallas Taylor (drums; ex-Clear Light and Crosby, Stills, Nash And Young). Ohio Knox featured the same lightweight pop rock of the singer’s previous band and bore an obvious similarity to the work of John Sebastian. Galloway started a solo career when Harris and Taylor joined Stephen Stills’ band, Manassas. AMG.

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