segunda-feira, 30 de abril de 2012

McGuinnes Flint - Happy Birthday, Ruthy Baby 1971

In the early '70s, Capitol had both the Band and McGuinness Flint on their roster, with both bands producing the best work of their careers. Like the Band, McGuinness Flint excelled by ignoring trends in rock music and drawing on styles with deeper roots. Also like the Band, Happy Birthday, Ruthy Baby is a follow-up that often surpasses their exceptional debut album. Where Dylan's former backup band was making the cover of Time magazine, though, McGuinness Flint remained largely unknown outside their native England. Happy Birthday, Ruthy Baby, with solid production by Glynn Johns and the gifted Nicky Hopkins on piano, expands on the rustic tone of the band's first album. The title track is a rousing pub rock tribute to one of the band's supporters, a touching picture of life as a struggling musician. Jazz influences permeate the propulsive "Reader to Writer" and "Fixer," with its stunning trombone solo. "Klondike" is a slice of Americana that could easily pass for a Robbie Robertson composition, and the acoustic "Sparrow" is as moving as any ballad to come out of the '70s. From beginning to end, Happy Birthday, Ruthy Baby is a gem, full of promise for the group. It's unfortunate that the album, and the band, were not more widely appreciated. Principle songwriters Gallagher and Lyle left after this album. Although McGuinness Flint rebounded in style with Lo and Behold, lead singer Dennis Coulson soon started a solo career, and the band folded in 1975. AMG. listen here

Barclay James Harvest - Their First Album 1970

Barclay James Harvest's sensibly titled debut album was one of the unsung classics of the late '60s, a post-psychedelic pop album that posits a peculiar collision between the Bee Gees' vision of classic grandeur and the heftier sounds leaking out of the rock underground. Add Norman Smith's epic production and one cannot help thinking that if the Pretty Things had ever looked elsewhere for their follow-up to S.F. Sorrow, Barclay James Harvest could have handed it to them on a plate. The opening "Taking Some Time On" is absolutely phenomenal, churning and riffing on the one hand, positively hymnal on the other -- and poised, during its chorus, to plunge into a virtual dry run for R.E.M.'s "Talk About the Weather." Elsewhere, "When the World Was Woken" is unmistakably daubed in a whiter shade of Procol Harum, while the 12-minute closer, "Dark Now My Sky," is simply spellbinding. Barclay James Harvest ranks among the finest albums of the entire early prog boom. AMG. listen here

Desmond Dekker - Action! 1968

Following hot on the heels of their Jamaican debut album, 1967's 007 (Shanty Town), Desmond Dekker & the Aces were ready for Action! the following year. Like its predecessor, Action! bundled up another slew of the quintet's recent hits, as did its successor, 1969's The Israelites. All were released only in Jamaica, and the fact that "007" reappeared on the Action! set tells you just how seriously producers took the album market on the island. Even so, with its mix of rocksteady and early reggae hits, Action! has remained a popular album, and has been reissued internationally on several occasions. Now it's been paired with the equally well recycled Intensified set. In any event, taken together, it's a solid selection of songs, heavy on the hits, but that's to be expected, as virtually everything Dekker & the Aces released pre-Leslie Kong's death in 1971 was, and by and large the group's albums merely rounded them all up on long-players. There are a few odd omissions -- no "Pickney Gal," for example, or "You Can Get It If You Really Want" -- and even stranger, "Israelites" appears under the peculiar title "Poor Me Israelites." However, all self-respecting fans already have "Pickney" and "Get It" in their collections. So what's of more interest here are the less recycled numbers, like the ethereal "Fu Man Chu," the demanding "Gimme Gimme," and the indeed memorable "Unforgettable," better known as "Bongo Gal." Unlike that latter, "Gimme" and "Fu" never saw British release, and seem not to have even received proper Jamaican ones, which makes their appearance here a boon for collectors. And "My Lonely World," which features an American R&B-styled spoken word break, and the emotive "Personal Possession" rarely turn up on the reissue shelves. That said, so often has the bulk of this set appeared that many fans will have to think hard before parting with their money, but for new aficionados, this is an excellent place to start. AMG. listen here

Paternoster - Paternoster 1972

One of the strangest and obscure bands to emanate from continental Europe during the glory years of the progressive rock movement of the early seventies was Vienna's Paternoster. While one can count the number of Austrian progressive rock bands from this era on one hand , most notably Eela Craig, Paternoster stood alone with their singular LP simply titled Paternoster which was derived from The Lord's Prayer in German by amalgamating Pater ( Lord ) and Noster ( Prayer ). Distinquished by the haunting dirge-like mournful vocal stylings of organist / vocalist Franz Wippel backed by guitarist / vocalist Gerhard Waller, bassist Gerhart Walenta and drummer Heimo Wisser they achieved a unique sound during the two years of their short existence from 1970-72. Not a Krautrock band per se, although almost always categorized as such, contemporary Kraurock elements were evident particularily in the form of primitive electronic effects in the form of distorted guitars and echo boxes similar to early Guru Guru and Tangerine Dream's primitive audio experiments. Classical devices were also employed which added to a gothic church-like sound at times.

While the sombre timbre of Wippel's dreary vocal deliveries might suggest sacreligious overtones they are quite the opposite. Black Sabbath and Jethro Tull were criticized for being anti-religious on their respective Master Of Reality and Aqualung albums but their messages were actually pro-religion but anti-church if listened to carefully. Albeit rather cynical Paternoster' s somewhat complex and poetic lyrics (sung in English) attempted to achieve the same protest against organized religion as exemplified by the relatively blatant track, " The Pope Is Wrong ". They also sang about suicide and death but the nightmarish meloncholic atmospheres created by Wippel's moaning vocals were contrasted by the very British sounding Hammond Organ led instrumenal accompaniments ( the only keyboard used on the album ) and Waller's psychedelic fuzzed out guitar. Comparisons have often been made to early Pink Floyd, The Nice, Uriah Heep and sometimes Van der Graaf Generator as well as to early material from German bands Tangerine Dream, Ash Ra Tempel, Virus, Pell Mell, Kin Ping Meh and the vocals of Jane.

Having disbanded shortly after releasing their lone LP in October 1972, Paternoster faded into Krautrock folklore along with other one album Krautrock wonders such as Dies Irae, Necronimicon and Sperrmull. Their mystique continued into the age of the internet where original vinyl copies of their eponymous 1972 recording have been known to fetch as much as $2000 on ebay as well as at record conventions. In 1991 a small German label, Ohrswashl records, which specializes in psychedelic music, released the album on CD and more recently on 180 grain vinyl with a full reproduction of the original album jacket. Both were reproduced by transferring vinyl to digital as all the master tapes had vanished over time. Both reproductions are a feat of audio engineering and the transfers are almost without flaw.

Those with an interest in Krautrock or early progressive rock will not want to miss this jewel from it's glory years.
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Return to Forever - Where Have I Known You Before 1974

This Return to Forever set finds guitarist Al DiMeola debuting with the pacesetting fusion quartet, an influential unit that also featured keyboardist Chick Corea, electric bassist Stanley Clarke and drummer Lenny White. On this high energy set, short interludes separate the main pieces: "Vulcan Worlds," "The Shadow of Lo," "Beyond the Seventh Galaxy," "Earth Juice" and the lengthy "Song to the Pharoah Kings." Acoustic purists are advised to avoid this music, but listeners who grew up on rock and wish to explore jazz will find this stimulating music quite accessible.AMG. listen here

Jon Anderson - Olias Of Sunhillow 1976

Inspired by the artwork of Roger Dean and the writings of Ver Stanley Alder, Jon Anderson developed an entire story around the idea of an interstellar exodus from Sunhillow, writing this album around the narrative (named for the spaceship's architect, Olias). The idea may seem overly ambitious, but Anderson fills the record with enough magical moments to delight fans of Yes' mystic side. The music is written and performed almost entirely by Anderson, who dubs vocals, plays guitar and harp, and adds percussion and the occasional synthesizer to flesh out his ideas so that at no point does the music lose its spellbinding effect for lack of sonic detail. Olias of Sunhillow is faithful to the spirit of Yes, though decidedly more airy than that band's visceral style -- its closest comparison would be Fragile's "We Have Heaven" or Going for the One's "Wonderous Stories" (which was clearly influenced by this record) on the vocal tracks, and Vangelis on the instrumental tracks. Although the album is effective in its entirety, "Sound Out the Galleon," "Olias (To Build the Moorglade)," and "Solid Space" are some of the more memorable excerpts. The arrangements incorporate elements of the four tribes of Sunhillow, the most noticeable being Oriental elements that prefigure Vangelis' own China (especially on the opening "Ocean Song"). While there are several songs that could have easily fit in Yes' own catalog, and the lyrics continue to mine the mystical musings that Yes fans had come to enjoy, Olias of Sunhillow is not the missing Yes album some might hope it to be, though it does deliver on the promise that the Jon & Vangelis collaborations seemed to hold. If possible, pick up the LP version of this release, since the packaging is stunning and features terrific artwork by Dave Roe. AMG. listen here

Marsupilami - Marsupilami 1970

Marsupilami's debut album is about as ungainly as the group's name in its strident, mordant, early progressive rock. There was a very large undertow of obscure albums with morose melodies, fuzz guitars, and organ at the end of the 1960s and very beginning of the 1970s. Marsupilami falls squarely into that bag, although it's differentiated from the American records of that type by a sort of British-European seriousness and early prog rock-jazz touches, particularly in Jessica Stanley Clarke's flute. The songs are long, winding, and portentous, with touches of the gothic and the funereal, especially in the organ and Dave Laverock's bowed guitar (particularly on the closer "Facilis Descencus Averni"). They're rather samey-sounding and unmemorable, though, and not so dark as to be as truly chilling as they might have wished. If you're looking for something in the same general ballpark that's almost equally obscure, Julian's Treatment's A Time Before This album (also from 1970) is much better than this LP, which was reissued on Get Back in 1999. AMG. listen here

Peter Bardens - The Answer 1970

Prior to this solo debut, Pete Bardens had been on the British R&B-rock and psychedelic scene for about half a dozen years, playing in early bands with Mick Fleetwood and Peter Green, as well as (briefly) in Them with Van Morrison. The Answer was his chance to step out of the shadows, and while his skills as a keyboardist were formidable, his songwriting just wasn't up to carrying an interesting album of his own. Devoted to a half-dozen lengthy tracks varying in duration from five to 13 minutes, Bardens offered a blues-progressive stew that, despite some flashy licks, lacked focus. It's a shame there wasn't better material to work with, for some quite talented musicians were among the supporting cast, including Love Affair singer Steve Ellis, session vocalist Linda Lewis, Bruce Thomas (later to back Elvis Costello in the Attractions), and most of all his old friend Peter Green. In fact, Green offers some of his best playing as a sideman on this record, which both makes it better than it could have been, and makes it worth checking out for serious fans of the guitarist. In common with some of Green's own solo work, however, it's a meandering record, bits of promising ideas swirling around before they've been honed into something cogent. Against the odds, however, the 13-minute "Homage to the God of Light" is the highlight, its mesh of Latin-esque rhythms, burning organ, and bluesy guitar recalling some of early Santana's more jammy grooves. AMG. listen here

Soft Machine - BBC Radio 1967-1971

There is no shortage of collections of archive material by the Soft Machine and some of them are pretty good (especially the ones released on Cuneiform). But this Hux double-CD compilation is the mother lode. You just can't beat BBC recordings for good sound quality and meaningful "alternate versions." This first volume covers the group's early years up to the departure of drummer Robert Wyatt, starting with a session from December 1967, when the Softs consisted of Kevin Ayers, Mike Ratledge, and Wyatt. Early demo and live versions of dubious quality of "Clarence in Wonderland," "Certain Kind," or "Hope for Happiness" are in circulation (see Turns On, Vol. 1, for instance), but these recordings are far more superior. A session from 1969 features Wyatt, Ratledge, Hugh Hopper, and Brian Hopper in a torrid medley of "Facelift" and the "Mousetrap" suite, but the jewel of the first disc is indisputably a full-band rendition (Ratledge, Wyatt, and Hugh Hopper) of "Moon in June," one of very few times it was performed as such (the studio version was mostly put together by Wyatt overdubbing all parts). Disc two presents sessions from 1971 with Elton Dean added to the regular lineup. The last track is another "Mousetrap" sequence seguing into "Esther's Nose Job," performed by the short-lived septet lineup (with a brass section formed by Dean, Lyn Dobson, Marc Charig, and Nick Evans). This is the closest thing to a studio recording existing by this particular group and it is well-worth the price of admission. If you are a relative newcomer to the music of Soft Machine and are looking to expand beyond their studio releases, start here before moving on to more obscure live sets. AMG. listen here

Van Der Graaf Generator - The Aerosol Grey Machine 1969

Beginning as a Peter Hammill solo effort following the dissolution of the first Van Der Graaf Generator, this quickly recorded album brought Hammill together with producer John Anthony and caused the reformation of the band (which immediately thereafter shifted personnel once again). A raw, energetic effort that sometimes did little to show off the young Hammill's talents, the album nevertheless has some fine moments that hint at the possibilities for future releases. The fact remains, mind you, that the second album, The Least We Can Do Is Wave to Each Other, is far superior. [CD versions of this album appeared in 1996 and 1997, both including additional material such as the first (and very rare) Van Der Graaf Generator single, and the previously unreleased VDGG recording of "Ferret and Featherbird."] AMG. listen here

domingo, 29 de abril de 2012

McChurch Soundroom - Delusion 1971

McChurch Soundroom is an eclectic psych free blues rock ensemble that has closed relationships with krautrock (in particular with the heavy, stoned jazzy sound of Nosferatu) but also with folkish bands from England (Jethro Tull first era...). Their original LP "Delusison" was released in 1971 on the legendary Pilz label (Popol Vuh, Wallenstein, Witthuser & Westrupp...). This psych folk underground act is now cult. listen here

RE-POST: Steamhammer - Speech 1972

Musically, Steamhammer was the cream of the crop of all rock bands from their thriving primordial era. In the realm of power rock trios, they were comparable to Cream. Yet this band is far superior in every way, but they failed to get the rave reviews and critical attention that the flashier Cream garnered. Diverging from the typical power rock style on Speech, their fourth and final album, the band found themselves in a dilemma without their vocalist, who had left after the previous release, Mountains. This led to a radical development for the band. Instead of hiring a new singer, the rest of the group picked up the slack, and reduced the role of the vocals significantly, opting for a progressive jam style that was hugely innovative for its time. Guitarist Martin Pugh offers a crashing, furious style that mixes Jimmy Page with early Robert Fripp. When Pugh seeks passages of beauty and tranquility, he finds them with ease, but when he aims for intensity, watch out! He literally attacks the listener, pounding them with his mammoth, perfectly executed riffs. Meanwhile, bassist Louis Cennamo is so talented and innovative that he single-handedly brought the bow into rock music with his bowed bass intro to the album. Several years before Page would pick up the bow for "Kashmir," Cennamo uses the bowed bass as means to an end, not for simple effect. Just as a normal bassist alone, masters within the genre owe their lifeblood to him. For he is able to play along with just about the toughest, most technical drumming around, that of drummer Mick Bradley, who is easily the most accomplished musician of the trio. To state that he is rock's greatest drummer is simply not enough. His energetic approach to the drum kit helped him become one of the first and only drummers in rock history, along with King Crimson's Michael Giles, to use polyrhythmic drumming, a style commonly used by jazz drummers. His dynamic performance on the primarily instrumental "For Against," which blows away John Bonham's "Moby Dick" and Ginger Baker's "Toad" in a heartbeat. On this album, there was a rumor that the band received some secret vocal and lyrical help from Yardbirds vocalist Keith Relf. Whether or not this is true remains a mystery, but what is fact, sadly, is that not long after this album Mick Bradley succumbed to Leukemia and passed away. This marked the end of Steamhammer, but the other two members forged on, forming a band called Armageddon. Speech is one of rock's finest and most creative hours, and one tends to wonder where Steamhammer could have gone from this point on had it not been for obscurity and sudden tragedy. AMG. listen here

RE-POST: The Temptations - Psychedelic Shack 1970

With everything the Temptations released pretty much guaranteed to turn to gold, not to mention platinum for that matter, even their tripped-out forays into sweet '60s psychedelic experimentation were sure to fire a string of hits. 1970's Norman Whitfield-produced Psychedelic Shack -- while perhaps a system shock to those fans who grooved to the band's lame-suited, Motown dance-routined R&B classics -- was a magnificent stretch into an epic and ultimately emerged as another in a long line of enduring sets. Deviating from form across the first songs, it was with the whimsical and willful title track (and a big thanks to the band from Georgia retro-ists the B-52's, who took their own homage, "Love Shack," to the top of the charts in 1989) that the Temptations broke their own mold with the acid-drenched party chant: "Psychedelic shack/That's where it's at." Opening that door and venturing outside the nonstop celebration, the band retains that vibe while returning to a slightly more staid stance on "Hum Along and Dance," leaving both the oddly paced "You Make Your Own Heaven and Hell Right Here on Earth" and the totally tripped-out "Take a Stroll Thru Your Mind" out on their own plane entirely. With such a strong collection of songs, it couldn't get much better than that. But, of course, it does, as the Temptations blister through the groovers "It's Summer" and "Friendship Train." And that, of course, just leaves the Whitfield-penned classic "War" to round out the mix. While fellow Motown-er Edwin Starr has etched what is now considered to be the definitive version of the song into the history tablets, the Temptations certainly took their own inspiration and added a unique spin as well. Not much else can be said, except that this is an absolutely outstanding album -- one which has stood the test of time, sounding as fresh as it did upon initial release. And for those who still suffer the scratchy vinyl, a 2002 CD reissue of the album on Dutch Motown finds Psychedelic Shack cunningly paired with the similarly superlative All Directions in a neat two-disc package. AMG. listen here

John Miles - Stranger in the City 1976

Best remembered for the rock ballad "Music," singer John Miles was born April 23, 1949 in Jarrow, England. His first musical venture of note was the Influences, which also launched the careers of Roxy Music drummer Paul Thompson and Geordie guitarist Vic Malcolm; following the group's breakup, he formed the John Miles Band, relocating to London in 1975 and soon landing a deal with Decca. Miles' debut LP Rebel followed a year later, launching the UK hit "Highfly"; the follow-up, the epic ballad "Music," reached the British Top Five and paved the way for a U.S. tour in support of Elton John. 1977's Stranger in the City also yielded a Top Ten entry in "Slow Down," but successive efforts like 1978's Zaragon, 1979's More Miles Per Hour and 1981's Miles High failed to recreate Miles' initial flush of success. In the wake of 1985's Transition, he lent vocals to projects from the Alan Parsons Project and Jimmy Page, subsequently touring behind acts including Tina Turner and Joe Cocker; Upfront, Miles' first new solo album in eight years, followed in 1993. AMG. listen here

quinta-feira, 19 de abril de 2012

Catapilla - Catapilla 1971

The debut album by one of the most dramatic and certainly the most visionary of all the British prog bands saddled with the epithet jazz-rock opens with little care for any of that. Taking a deep draught from the King Crimson/Van Der Graaf Generator book of sonic brutality, the opening "Naked Death" is a hard-riffing, thunderous clatter of apocalyptic imagery which -- if Crimson hadn't already dropped the same bomb with "21st Century Schizoid Man" -- might have proved as lethal as the weaponry it discusses. The same taste for Armageddon permeates the remainder of the album. Some spectacular moments drift through the carnage; Robert Calvert's sax and Graham Wilson's guitar might be most comfortable in full bludgeoning mode, but they can show restraint as well. Unfortunately, vocalist Anna Meek is allowed no such luxury, coming across in places like an extremely bad-tempered Sonja Kristina and in others like a dehumanized version of Lydia Lunch. But if the first three tracks, clocking in at 15, four, and six minutes, respectively, leave you feeling battered, bruised, and maybe not inclined to walk this way again, 24 minutes of the closing "Embryonic Fusion" place Catapilla firmly back on course. A solid, sax-driven suite, of course it has its share of death, doom, and destruction-type lyrics and enough moments of spine-chilling chaos to remind you that Van Der Graaf's similarly side-long "A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers" was fresh on the racks as this album came together. Unfortunately, such comparisons -- though valid -- are also unhelpful. No matter how influenced one band might be by another, it takes a lot more than a Xerox mind to pull off a piece of music this long this successfully. The fact is, Catapilla not only completes the marathon, they also leave you wondering how 24 minutes passed so quickly. AMG.

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Herbie Hancock - Sextant 1973

When Herbie Hancock left Warner Bros. in 1971 after releasing three musically sound but critically and commercially underappreciated albums -- The Crossing, Mwandishi, and Fat Albert's Groove -- he was struggling. At odds with a jazz establishment that longed for his return to his Blue Note sound and a fierce consciousness struggle with free music and the full-on embrace of electricity since his tenure with Miles Davis, Hancock was clearly looking for a voice. Before diving into the commercial waters that would become Headhunters in 1973, Hancock and his tough group (including Billy Hart, Julian Priester, Dr. Eddie Henderson, Bennie Maupin, and Buster Williams) cut this gem for their new label, Columbia. Like its Warner predecessors, the album features a kind of post-modal, free impressionism while gracing the edges of funk. The three long tracks are exploratory investigations into the nature of how mode and interval can be boiled down into a minimal stew and then extrapolated upon for soloing and "riffing." In fact, in many cases, the interval becomes the riff, as is evidenced by "Rain Dance." The piece that revealed the true funk direction, however, was "Hidden Shadows," with its choppy basslines and heavy percussion -- aided by the inclusion of Dr. Patrick Gleeson and Buck Clarke. Dave Rubinson's production brought Hancock's piano more into line with the rhythm section, allowing for a unified front in the more abstract sections of these tunes. The true masterpiece on the album, though, is "Hornets," an eclectic, electric ride through both the dark modal ambience of Miles' In a Silent Way and post-Coltrane harmonic aesthetics. The groove is in place, but it gets turned inside out by Priester and Maupin on more than one occasion and Hancock just bleats with the synth in sections. Over 19 minutes in length, it can be brutally intense, but is more often than not stunningly beautiful. It provides a glimpse into the music that became Headhunters, but doesn't fully explain it, making this disc, like its Warner predecessors, true and welcome mysteries in Hancock's long career. AMG.

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Re-Post: Fleetwood Mac - Mr. Wonderful 1968

Although it made number ten in the U.K., Fleetwood Mac's second album was a disappointment following their promising debut. So much of the record was routine blues that it could even be said that it represented something of a regression from the first LP, despite the enlistment of a horn section and pianist Christine Perfect (the future Christine McVie) to help on the sessions. In particular, the limits of Jeremy Spencer's potential for creative contribution were badly exposed, as the tracks that featured his songwriting and/or vocals were basic Elmore James covers or derivations. Peter Green, the band's major talent at this point, did not deliver original material on the level of the classic singles he would pen for the band in 1969, or even on the level of first-album standouts like "I Loved Another Woman." The best of the lot, perhaps, is "Love That Burns," with its mournful minor-key melody and sluggish, responsive horn lines. Mr. Wonderful, strangely, was not issued in the U.S., although about half the songs turned up on its stateside counterpart, English Rose, which was fleshed out with some standout late-'60s British singles and a few new tracks penned by Danny Kirwan (who joined the band after Mr. Wonderful was recorded). AMG.

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Bullangus - Bullangus 1972

Originally released in 1971. The debut from this east coast 6-piece features twin-guitars, lots of organ interplay and soaring vocals. A superb bridging of psychedelia and progressive. Highly recommended!! Thanks to ChrisGoesRock.

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Catapilla - Changes 1972

Catapilla's second album is probably better-remembered for its gatefold cover -- a bug-headed lettuce leaf which opens to reveal a fat, juicy maggot -- than for its contents. Delve in deeper than that, though, and the music is even more striking . A magnificent disc, Changes offered an absolute shift away from the grinding Armageddon of Catapilla's debut, with the opening "Reflections" viciously carving out a new territory which floats with breathtaking audacity. For over 12 minutes, vocalist Anna Meek and saxophonist Robert Calvert duel and duet in a manner which would influence everything from Deep Purple's voice and guitar confabulations to Gong's spectral, spacy meanderings. Indeed, experienced Catapilla-watchers will not have been surprised to see Calvert working with that band's Gilli Smyth in the mid-'90s; the blueprint is all over "Reflections." From such a spectacular high, Changes drops back somewhat for the next two tracks, preferring to refine the jazz-rock compounds its predecessor found so profitable, but without the eye-over-the-shoulder toward Crimson and company. "Charing Cross" is jerky and arrogantly discomforting; it's the closest thing to the first album's brittle battery. The relentless "Thank Christ for George," on the other hand, is a smorgasbord of textures underpinned by some absurdly angry guitar and one of Meek's most effective vocals. But it's the reflective instrumental "It Could Only Happen to Me" which truly returns us to the peaks of the opener. A lovely sax melody haunts the same pastoral landscapes as Pink Floyd inhabited across "Atom Heart Mother" and "Echoes" before being scythed into silence about three minutes in, as Graham Wilson's guitar not only rewires everything you thought you knew about Catapilla, but comes close to rewriting prog history as well. A third album from this most visionary of bands, drawing its impetus from "Reflections" and "It Could Only Happen," might have rendered even Dark Side of the Moon academic. As it is, we can only dream wistfully, "What if?" AMG.

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Badfinger - No Dice 1970

Badfinger's second album No Dice kicks off with "I Can't Take It," a rocker that signaled even if Badfinger still played pop and sang ballads, they considered themselves a rock band. What gave Badfinger character is they blended their desire to rock with their sensitive side instead of compartmentalizing. Even when they rock on No Dice, it's never earthy, like, say, the Stones. Badfinger's very sensibility and sound is modeled after the early British Invasion, where bands sang catchy, concise love songs. Yet there's a worldliness to their music absent from that of their forefathers, partially because Badfinger styled themselves as classicists, adapting the sound of their idols and striving to create a similar body of work. No Dice bears this out, boasting old-fashioned rockers, catchy pop tunes, and acoustic ballads. On the surface, there's nothing special about such a well-crafted, sharply produced, straight-ahead pop record, but the pleasure of a power pop album is in the craft. No Dice is not without flaws -- a byproduct of an all-writing, all-singing band is that some songs don't measure up -- but it does achieve the right balance of craft, fun, and emotion, due in no small part to Pete Ham's songwriting. Ham dominates the record, providing note-perfect openers and closers, along with the centerpiece singles "No Matter What" and "Without You," the latter a yearning, painful ballad co-written with Tom Evans. Collaborating with new guitarist Joey Molland, Evans wrote two other excellent songs ("I Don't Mind," "Better Days"), while Molland's own "Love Me Do" chugs along with nice momentum. Still, the heart of the album lies in Ham's work.. He proves that songcraft is what separates great power-pop from good, and it's what makes No Dice a superb pop record. AMG.

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domingo, 15 de abril de 2012

Alice Coltrane - Radha-Krsna Nama Sankirtana 1977

Radha-Krsna Nama Sankirtana was issued in the mid-'70s by Warner Bros. Forgoing jazz altogether, this set is a series of devotional songs from the Hare Krisha religion that Alice Coltrane practiced. Three of the tracks here are chants, with Coltrane backing a vocal chorus on Fender Rhodes and organ. They are memorable, catchy, and moving given the joy of the singers. The other two tracks here feature Coltrane's interpretations of Indian songs. On "Ganesha," she plays harp and is accompanied only by Sita Coltrane on tamboura. This is not jazz in any sense of the word, but it is engaging, utterly interesting music, particularly for Alice's juxtaposition of space against melody. "Om Nama Sivaya" is the album's closer, and at 19 minutes is over half of the disc's entire length. Here is where the great jazz musician shows her face. Playing Wurlitzer organ, Alice is backed only by John Coltrane Jr. on drums. She improvises against a traditional Indian mode and stretches it until it turns back on itself, breaks, moves into other modalities of harmonic invention, and rebuilds itself. It's driving, with a circular rhythm and head that reveals itself at odd junctures, and is full of great soloing. This track alone makes the set worth its purchase price. AMG.

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RE-POST: Crosby, Stills & Nash - Crosby, Stills & Nash 1969

The Crosby, Stills & Nash triumvirate shot to immediate superstardom with the release of its self-titled debut LP, a sparkling set immortalizing the group's amazingly close, high harmonies. While elements of the record haven't dated well -- Nash's Eastern-influenced musings on the hit "Marrakesh Express" now seem more than a little silly, while the antiwar sentiments of "Wooden Ships," though well-intentioned, are rather hokey -- the harmonies are absolutely timeless, and the best material remains rock-solid. Stills' gorgeous opener, "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes," in particular, is an epic love song remarkable in its musical and emotional intricacy, Nash's "Pre-Road Downs" is buoyant folk-pop underpinned by light psychedelic textures, and Crosby's "Long Time Gone" remains a potent indictment of the assassination of Robert Kennedy. A definitive document of its era. AMG.

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H.P. Lovecraft - H.P. Lovecraft 1967

Featuring two strong singers (who often sang dual leads), hauntingly hazy arrangements, and imaginative songwriting that drew from pop and folk influences, H.P. Lovecraft was one of the better psychedelic groups of the late '60s. The band was formed by ex-folky George Edwards in Chicago in 1967. Edwards and keyboardist Dave Michaels, a classically trained singer with a four-octave range, handled the vocals, which echoed Jefferson Airplane's in their depth and blend of high and low parts. Their self-titled 1967 LP was an impressive debut, featuring strong originals and covers of early compositions by Randy Newman and Fred Neil, as well as one of the first underground FM radio favorites, "White Ship." The band moved to California the following year; their second and last album, H.P. Lovecraft II, was a much more sprawling and unfocused work, despite some strong moments. A spin-off group, Lovecraft, released a couple LPs in the '70s that bore little relation to the first incarnation of the band.
With the exception of a couple of badly dated tracks, this is one of the best second-division psychedelic albums, with strong material that shows the immediately identifiable Edwards-Michaels vocal tandem at its best. According to the LP notes, the songs were largely inspired by novelist H.P. Lovecraft's "macabre tales and poems of Earth populated by another race." It's more haunting than gloomy, though, with deft touches of folk, jazz, and horns. AMG.

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Thelonious Monk - Underground 1968

This release has long been considered Thelonious Monk's acknowledgement to the flourishing youth-oriented subculture from whence the collection takes its name. Certainly the Grammy-winning cover art -- which depicts Monk as a World War II French revolutionary toting an automatic weapon -- gave the establishment more than the brilliant swinging sounds in the grooves to consider. Underground became Monk's penultimate studio album, as well as the final release to feature the '60s quartet: Charlie Rouse (tenor sax), Ben Riley (drums), and Larry Gales (bass) behind Monk (piano). One of the motifs running throughout Monk's recording career is the revisitation of titles from his voluminous back catalog. The tradition continues with the autobiographical leadoff track, "Thelonious." The instantly recognizable stride piano lines are delivered with the same urgency and precision that they possessed over two decades earlier when he first recorded the track for Blue Note. The presence of Charlie Rouse throughout the album is certainly worth noting. "Ugly Beauty" best captures the sacred space and musical rapport that he and Monk shared. Each musician functions as an extension of the other, creating solos that weave synchronically as if performed by the same pair of hands. Newer material, such as the playful "Green Chimneys" -- named after the school Monk's daughter attended -- as well as the unbalanced hypnotism of "Raise Four," asserts the timelessness and relevance of Monk's brand of bop. The disc ends as it begins with a new twist on an old favorite. Jon Hendricks -- who provides lyrics and vocals on "In Walked Bud" -- recalls the hustle and bustle of the real and spontaneous underground Harlem jam sessions of the late '40s. It is likewise an apt bookend to this chapter in the professional life of Thelonious Monk. AMG.

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segunda-feira, 9 de abril de 2012

Daevid Allen - Good Morning 1976

Daevid Allen's flights of fancy and cheerful hippie proselytizing have given birth to projects as diverse as the progressive rock of Gong as well as naturalistic solo works such as Good Morning. This record was recorded in 1976, six years after Allen's last solo outing, Banana Moon. It differs markedly from that record, as well as his group work with Gong. Good Morning is more acoustic, with no drums, and was recorded on a four-track tape machine at Allen's Majorcan home, "Bananamoon Observatory." As with Gong, Allen plays his cosmic-effected "glissando" guitar, and he calls on girlfriend Gilli Smyth for her signature "space whisper." Additionally, he employs an unknown Spanish group called Euterpe. The songs here merge together well and have a childlike wonder, punctuated by Allen's singsong delivery and some peaceful synth. Side one is the quiet, poetic side, whereas side two comes closest to Gong, with the moody 11-minute "Wise Man in Your Heart." Where previously Allen leaned on the compositional skills of Smyth, Christian Tritsch, and others, all of the songs on this record were written by Allen. The word that best describes his songwriting would be relaxed. Allen doesn't strive for profundity, and in so doing creates a work filled with humility and charm. AMG.

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Antonio Carlos Jobim - Stone Flower 1970

Recorded in 1970 at Rudy Van Gelder's studio in New Jersey under the production auspices of Creed Taylor, the arrangement and conducting skills of Deodato, and the engineering expertise of Van Gelder himself, Jobim's Stone Flower is quite simply one of his most quietly stunning works -- and certainly the high point of his time at Columbia. Nearly a decade after the paint peeled from the shine of bossa nova's domination of both the pop and jazz charts in the early '60s, Creed Taylor brought Jobim's tender hush of the bossa sound back into the limelight. With a band that included both Jobim and Deodato on guitars (Jobim also plays piano and sings in a couple of spots), Ron Carter on bass, João Palma on drums, Airto Moreira and Everaldo Ferreira on percussion, Urbie Green on trombone, Joe Farrell on soprano saxophone, and Harry Lookofsky laying down a soulful violin solo on the title track, Jobim created his own version of Kind of Blue. The set opens with the low, simmering "Tereza My Love," with its hushed, elongated trombone lines and shifting acoustic guitars floating on the evening breeze. It begins intimate and ends with a closeness that is almost uncomfortably sensual, even for bossa nova. And then there are the slippery piano melodies Jobim lets roll off his fingers against a backdrop of gauzy strings and syncopated rhythms in both "Choro" and "Brazil." The latter is a samba tune with a sprightly tempo brought to the fore by Jobim's sandy, smoky vocal hovering ghost-like about the instrumental shimmer in the mix. Take, for instance, the title track with its stuttered, near imperceptible percussion laid under a Jobim piano melody of such simplicity, it's harmonically deceptive. It isn't until Lookofsky enters for his solo that you realize just how sophisticated and dense both rhythm and the chromatic lyricism are. The album closes with a reprise of "Brazil," restating a theme that has, surprisingly been touched upon in every track since the original inception, making most of the disc a suite that is a lush, sense-altering mediation, not only on Jobim's music and the portraits it paints, but ON the sounds employed by Taylor to achieve this effect. Stone Flower is simply brilliant, a velvety, late-night snapshot of Jobim at his peak. AMG.

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Patto - Monkey's bum 1972

This '70s British group produced four albums in the early '70s while under the name of vocalist Mike Patto (of the psychedelic rock groups Bow Street Runners, Timebox, and Spooky Tooth). The show really belongs to guitarist Ollie Halsall, whose playing is an outstanding mix of rock and jazz techniques. After the reissue of the famed Hold Your Fire LP, the Italian Akarma label uncovered this unreleased album, which would have followed the Island release Roll 'Em, Smoke 'Em Put Another Line Out from 1972. With the group splitting up before its release, the album never saw the light of day, and is available here for the first time. Now issued 30 years later, this will be a great surprise for fans of Patto, completing the history of an outstanding British progressive rock unit. AMG.

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Fair Weather - Beginning from an End 1971

Perhaps best known today, at least in the States, as a member of Eric Clapton's early-'90s backing band, back in the '60s Andy Fairweather Low was a pop star, Amen Corner's frontman/guitarist. Formed in 1966, that group sent six singles spiralling up the U.K. pop chart, including "(If Paradise Is) Half as Nice," their 1969 number one. Amen Corner closed up shop in 1970, only to immediately reopen as Fair Weather, albeit with a slightly reduced staff -- brass players Mike Smith and Allen Jones had found employment elsewhere. By July, the band's debut single, "Natural Sinner," was taking its evil ways up the chart, reaching number six. Beginning from an End arrived soon after, but before year's end, the band had broken up for good and soon sank from memory. Thus Beginning's reissue on CD was a welcome return, for the set really completed Amen Corner's own story and returned the band to a variation on their early British beat sound -- a solid slab of British rock, albeit one with its R&B roots still proudly displayed. Check out the stomping cover of Stax classic "Don' Mess with Cupid" or the inspired psychedelia-tinged take on "I Hear Your Knocking" for proof. Incidentally, "I Hear You Knocking" was engineered by Dave Edmunds and is obviously the prototype for his own subsequent hit cover. But it's Fairweather Low's own compositions that best capture Fair Weather's transition into the rock age. From the funky "You Ain't No Friend," to the heady blend of proggy-blues on the instrumental "Looking for the Red Label," and across the sliding guitar of the country-flavored "Poor Man's Bum a Run," Fair Weather is stretching R&B into a big stadium sound centered around Fairweather Low and Neil Jones' magnificent guitars, and filled out in a hundred directions by Blue Weaver's phenomenal keyboards. Of course, they weren't the only British band at the time attempting this dramatic transformation from R&B into hard rock, but Fair Weather didn't stick around long enough to disintegrate into thumb-twiddling noodling and 20 minutes of tedious soloing. Still a pop band at heart, Fair Weather accomplished in sharp songs what others took an entire album side to do. And to drive home this point, this reissue appends all three of the band's singles, and A- and B-sides, as bonus tracks. Fair Weather sounded grand then, and they still do today. AMG.

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sábado, 7 de abril de 2012

George Thorogood & the Destroyers - George Thorogood & the Destroyers 1977

Thorogood's demo, Better Than the Rest, was recorded in 1974 and released in 1979. In 1976 he recorded his debut album: George Thorogood & The Destroyers with his band, The Destroyers (sometimes known as The Delaware Destroyers or simply GT and D) and issued the album in 1977. Thorogood released his next album titled Move It On Over in 1978 with The Destroyers, which included the Hank Williams remake "Move It On Over". "Please Set a Date" and their remake of the Bo Diddley song "Who Do You Love?" both followed in 1979. In the late 1970s, Thorogood played on a baseball team in Delaware in the Roberto Clemente League which was created in 1976. He was the second baseman and was chosen rookie of the year in the league.[citation needed] Soon after this achievement, The Destroyers forced him to quit playing the sport. In the 1970s, he and his band were based in Boston (see also Hound Dog Taylor).

Thorogood and the Delaware Destroyers were friends with Jimmy Thackery and the Washington D.C.-based blues band, The Nighthawks. While touring in the 1970s, the Destroyers and the Nighthawks happened to be playing shows in Georgetown (DC) at venues across the street from each other. The Destroyers were engaged at The Cellar Door and the Nighthawks at Desperados. At midnight, by prior arrangement, while both bands played Elmore James' "Madison Blues" in the key of E, Thorogood and Thackery left their clubs, met in the middle of M Street, exchanged guitar cords and went on to play with the opposite band. According to Thackery (in a 2011 exchange on Facebook),[citation needed] "A smart tech guy fixed us up with signal boosting cords to prevent a loss of signal due to the extraordinarily long guitar cables." The connection with the Nighthawks was extended further, when Nighthawks bass player Jan Zukowski supported Thorogood's set at the Live Aid concert in Philadelphia, PA on July 13, 1985.

Thorogood gained his first mainstream exposure as a support act for The Rolling Stones during their 1981 U.S. tour. He also was the featured musical guest on Saturday Night Live (Season 8, Episode 2) on the October 2, 1982 broadcast. During this time, Thorogood and the Destroyers also became known for their rigorous schedule, including the "50/50" tour of 1980, on which the band toured 50 US states in the space of 50 days. After two shows in Boulder, Colorado, Thorogood and his band flew to Hawaii for one show and then performed a show in Alaska on the following night. The next day the band flew to Washington State, met their roadies who had their Checker car and a truck, and continued a one show per state tour for all fifty states in exactly fifty nights. In addition, they played Washington, D.C. on the same day that they performed a show in Maryland.

This increased visibility occurred as Thorogood's contract with Rounder Records expired. He signed with EMI America Records and in 1982 released his best-known song, "Bad to the Bone", and an album of the same name. The song has been used frequently in television and film, including the sci-fi thriller Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the comedies Problem Child, and Problem Child 2, Stephen King's Christine, and many episodes of the television sitcom Married... with Children. This track also was used during the intro to the movie Major Payne also used in the 1988 drama film Talk Radio. The same song is also featured in the game Rock 'n Roll Racing. It is also played during football pregame festivities at Mississippi State University and at USHRA Monster Jam events to introduce Grave Digger (regardless of driver). "Bad to the Bone" was used for the 1984 Buick Grand National advertisements. Thorogood's version of "Who Do You Love?" is played in all Samuel Adams beer commercials.

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C.C.S - The Best Band In The Land - 1973

Collective Consciousness Society, more commonly known as CCS, were a British musical group, led by blues guitarist Alexis Korner.

Formed in 1970 by musical director John Cameron and record producer Mickie Most, CCS consisted largely of session musicians, and was created primarily as a recording outfit. The personnel also included Peter Thorup, vocals; Alan Parker, guitar; Harold McNair, flute; Herbie Flowers, bass; Roger Coulam, keyboards; Barry Morgan, drums; plus Don Lusher and Bill Geldard, trombone. Some of the musicians were also members of Blue Mink.

CCS are best known for their instrumental version of Led Zeppelin's 1969 track "Whole Lotta Love", which got into in the UK Singles Chart in 1970, and was used as the theme music for the BBC pop programme Top of the Pops for most of the 1970s, and, in a remixed version, between 1997 and 2003. Technically, the TOTP theme was not by CCS, but was recorded by the TOTP orchestra one morning before the day's rehearsals. Having said that, the band was conducted by John Cameron on that occasion and many of the musicians were CCS regulars. This enabled the production to tailor the tune to the correct duration and, more importantly, avoided the weekly payment of royalties to the record label. AMG.

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Bead Game - Welcome 1970

Solid, all-original psych rock that has prog & jazz leanings. Not real heavy sounding, but the musicianship is good enough & the compositions are interesting enough to appeal to fans of early prog or those who with more adventurous or eclectic tastes. A pretty rare Boston area LP. Selections are: Punchin' Judy; Lady; Wax Circus; Mora; Natural Song; Country Girls; Amos & Andy; Slipping. The group consists of: K. Westland Haag (rhythm guitar); John Sheldon (lead guitar); Jim Hodder (vocals & drums); R. (Robbie) Gass (Hammond organ); and Lassie Sachs (bass). Jim Hodder later joined Steely Dan, and keyboardist Robbie Gass later joined a commune and released a quasi-religious private press LP during the mid-70s. This is an original 1970 pressing on Avco Embassy Records (AVE 33009) and appears in overall beautiful MINT condition!

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terça-feira, 3 de abril de 2012

Professor Longhair - New Orleans Piano 1972

Justly worshipped a decade and a half after his death as a founding father of New Orleans R&B, Roy "Professor Longhair" Byrd was nevertheless so down-and-out at one point in his long career that he was reduced to sweeping the floors in a record shop that once could have moved his platters by the boxful.

That Longhair made such a marvelous comeback testifies to the resiliency of this late legend, whose Latin-tinged rhumba-rocking piano style and croaking, yodeling vocals were as singular and spicy as the second-line beats that power his hometown's musical heartbeat. Longhair brought an irresistible Caribbean feel to his playing, full of rolling flourishes that every Crescent City ivories man had to learn inside out (Fats Domino, Huey Smith, and Allen Toussaint all paid homage early and often).

Longhair grew up on the streets of the Big Easy, tap dancing for tips on Bourbon Street with his running partners. Local 88s aces Sullivan Rock, Kid Stormy Weather, and Tuts Washington all left their marks on the youngster, but he brought his own conception to the stool. A natural-born card shark and gambler, Longhair began to take his playing seriously in 1948, earning a gig at the Caldonia Club. Owner Mike Tessitore bestowed Longhair with his professorial nickname (due to Byrd's shaggy coiffure).

Longhair debuted on wax in 1949, laying down four tracks (including the first version of his signature "Mardi Gras in New Orleans," complete with whistled intro) for the Dallas-based Star Talent label. His band was called the Shuffling Hungarians, for reasons lost to time! Union problems forced those sides off the market, but Longhair's next date for Mercury the same year was strictly on the up-and-up. It produced his first and only national R&B hit in 1950, the hilarious "Bald Head" (credited to Roy Byrd & His Blues Jumpers).

The pianist made great records for Atlantic in 1949, Federal in 1951, Wasco in 1952, and Atlantic again in 1953 (producing the immortal "Tipitina," a romping "In the Night," and the lyrically impenetrable boogie "Ball the Wall"). After recuperating from a minor stroke, Longhair came back on Lee Rupe's Ebb logo in 1957 with a storming "No Buts - No Maybes." He revived his "Go to the Mardi Gras" for Joe Ruffino's Ron imprint in 1959; this is the version that surfaces every year at Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

Other than the ambitiously arranged "Big Chief" in 1964 for Watch Records, the '60s held little charm for Longhair. He hit the skids, abandoning his piano playing until a booking at the fledgling 1971 Jazz & Heritage Festival put him on the comeback trail. He made a slew of albums in the last decade of his life, topped off by a terrific set for Alligator, Crawfish Fiesta.

Longhair triumphantly appeared on the PBS-TV concert series Soundstage (with Dr. John, Earl King, and the Meters), co-starred in the documentary Piano Players Rarely Ever Play Together (which became a memorial tribute when Longhair died in the middle of its filming; funeral footage was included), and saw a group of his admirers buy a local watering hole in 1977 and rechristen it Tipitina's after his famous song. He played there regularly when he wasn't on the road; it remains a thriving operation.

Longhair went to bed on January 30, 1980, and never woke up. A heart attack in the night stilled one of New Orleans' seminal R&B stars, but his music is played in his hometown so often and so reverently you'd swear he was still around. AMG.

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Parrish & Gurvitz - Parrish & Gurvitz 1972

In 1971 The Gun broke up Paul Gurvitz started this act simply called Parrish & Gurvitz,(Brian Parrish, formerly of Badger), which was produced by George Martin.This was a one-off project on the Regal Zonophone label featuring the additional talents of Mike Kellie (ex-Spooky Tooth,Art), Micky Gallagher (pre-Ian Dury) and Rick Wills (pre-Foreigner).Lush production over beautiful crafted songs fully infused with the US west-coast sound.

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Kevin Ayers - Joy Of A Toy 1969

As the Soft Machine's first bassist and original principal songwriter, Kevin Ayers was an overlooked force behind the group's groundbreaking recordings in 1967 and 1968. This, his solo debut, is so tossed-off and nonchalant that one gets the impression he wanted to take it easy after helping pilot the manic innovations of the Softs. Laissez-faire sloth has always been part of Ayers' persona, and this record's intermittent lazy charm helped establish it. That doesn't get around the fact, however, that this set of early progressive rock does not feature extremely strong material. Ayers' command of an assortment of instruments is impressive, and his deep bass vocals and playful, almost goofy song-sketches are affecting, but they don't really stick with the listener. It's no accident that some of the tracks recall early Soft Machine: Robert Wyatt drums on most of the songs, and "Song for Insane Times" is virtually a bona fide Soft Machine performance, featuring actual backing from the group itself. A likable but slight album that is at its best when Ayers is at his folkiest. AMG.

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Big Brother & The Holding Company - Live in S.F. 1966

Recorded on July 28, 1966, before the band had cut any studio material, this performance was one of Janis Joplin's first gigs with Big Brother. The sound is decent, with several famous staples of their repertoire already in place: "Down on Me," "Coo-Coo," and "Ball and Chain." Yet, in comparison with their best studio and live recordings from 1967 and 1968, this is a bit limp. Big Brother was never noted for their polish, but made up for that with reckless bravado; however, that's largely missing at this juncture in their development, which finds them sounding somewhat tentative in their adaptation of R&B and garage band ethos to heavy guitar arrangements. Big Brother was never noted for their songwriting ability either, and this set is pretty reliant on R&B staples like "Let the Good Times Roll" and "I Know You Rider"; the unabashedly psychedelic workout "Gutra's Garden" hasn't aged well at all. Joplin's vocals are fairly strong, but these early versions of "Down on Me" and, especially, "Ball and Chain" don't hold a candle to her performances of the same tunes at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. Other members of the band take the lead vocal on a few numbers, emphatically proving -- as they always did when given a chance -- that Joplin was necessary to put them on the map. This show is an interesting glimpse into the group's formative days, though, and features eight songs not on their late-'60s albums. This set of material was first released in 1984 as Cheaper Thrills, and since then it's been around on various labels under various titles. The 2002 Varese Sarabande edition differs from previous iterations only in that it adds a live version of "Hall of the Mountain King," recorded at television station KQED in San Francisco on April 25, 1967 (a pretty cool cut, though it's been long available as part of the Ball and Chain video, which includes the entire half-hour set). AMG.

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Dr. Feelgood - Malpractice 1975

Dr. Feelgood's second album and their American debut, Malpractice was represented a major step forward for the group -- for starters, it was in stereo. Add to that the fact that the quartet had refined its sound, so that it was a match for what the Rolling Stones had generated on their debut album, and you had the makings of a classic; Lee Brilleaux's lead vocals and his and Wilko Johnson's guitars crunch and slash their way through 11 songs, starting with a Bo Diddley number; they turn "Rollin' and Tumblin'" into a rock & roll piece, and also turn in a brace of memorable originals, most notably "You Shouldn't Call the Doctor (If You Can't Afford the Bills" and "Don't Let Your Daddy Know," both by Johnson. AMG.

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Noel Redding Band - Clonakilty Cowboys, Blowin' 1975-76

Former Jimi Hendrix Experience bassist Noel Redding's second attempt to lead a group (following Fat Mattress), the Noel Redding Band were more of a cooperative effort than their name would suggest. Redding may have been the organizing principal behind the unit, but David Clarke wrote or co-wrote almost all the material as well as singing lead vocals, while Eric Bell played lead guitar. Whoever dominated the band, however, their debut LP, Clonakilty Cowboys, was very much a British rock album of its time. There were hints here of the Faces and there of Mott the Hoople in a mainstream rock sound that seemed utterly familiar in the mid-'70s, but didn't much remind you of Redding's work with Hendrix. When Bell took off on his solo, for example, at the end of "Eight Nights a Week" (a paean to being a rock & roll star), his high-pitched work was out of Rock Guitar 101, but it had none of Hendrix's inventiveness. Maybe it's not fair to make such a comparison, but one falls into comparisons in discussing the music because it had little distinctive character of its own. As singers, neither Clarke nor Redding made it out of the rusty-voiced ranks of generic rock vocalists. Clonakilty Cowboys didn't make any noise on the charts and it didn't deserve to. Redding and company had made a fairly typical album for their time, but hadn't done anything that distinguished them from the pack.
Noel Redding emphasized his primacy in the band named after him on their second album, Blowin', putting close-up photographs of himself alone on the front and back covers, albeit with humorous intention. (He was pictured on the front blowing up a big bubblegum bubble and on the back with the burst bubble stuck to his nose.) He also took over production duties on the record and wrote a couple of songs on his own. But this was still a group effort on which lead singer and primary songwriter David Clarke took a prominent, if not dominant, role. The album rocked harder than its predecessor, Clonakilty Cowboys, and, recorded largely in the U.S., seemed to have more of an American, on-the-road feel, beginning with its opening track, "Back on the Road Again." But the Noel Redding Band were still a faceless, nearly generic rock group with a rusty-voiced singer mouthing rock & roll clichés and a standard-issue guitarist. Blowin' didn't sell any better than Clonakilty Cowboys had, and that was about the end of the Noel Redding Band.

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Crazy Mabel - Crazy Mabel 1971

A cult British Sextet Lead by Alan Spriggs on vocals with Mick Connel, Les Cirkle, Geoff Leigh, Bryn Collinisn and Tom Parker. This band has full UK canterbury prog credentials.

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