sábado, 23 de novembro de 2019

Barry Melton - We Are Like The Ocean 1978

Barry "The Fish" Melton (born June 14, 1947) is the co-founder and original lead guitarist of Country Joe and the Fish and The Dinosaurs. He appears on all the Country Joe and the Fish recordings and he also wrote some of the songs that the band recorded. He appeared in the films made at Monterey Pop and Woodstock, and also appeared as an outlaw in the neo-Western film, Zachariah, and other films in which Country Joe and the Fish appear. An attorney and member of the State Bar of California, Melton has maintained a criminal defense practice since 1982.

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The Pretty Things - Electric Banana 1967

As chart activity became slim for the Pretty Things around 1967, they started a sideline of recording songs specifically for film soundtracks. This compilation features their vocal contributions to these projects, and consists mostly of fairly pedestrian psychedelic-tinged rock of a lower standard than either their 1967-68 singles or the S.F. Sorrow album. Highlights are the driving fuzzy rocker "Alexander" and an early version of the S.F. Sorrow track "I See You." AMG.

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Walter Egan - Fundamental Roll 1977

With an album cover that would make R. Kelly blush, (Egan appears on back cover getting frisky with a couple of high school cheerleaders) Fundamental Roll, the debut album from 70s one hit wonder Walter Egan proves that he was in fact much more than that. Initially Egan was interested in having Brian Wilson or Todd Rundgren produce his debut, but when neither became available his friend/engineer Duane Scott (who had worked with Egan on his previous band Wheels) suggested he get in touch with Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac. At the time Fleetwood Mac was riding their wave of success from the ‘White Album' and Lindsey was looking to cut his teeth in the studio as a producer. Buckingham enlisted fellow Fleetwood Mac member/ex-flame Stevie Nicks into the recording sessions to sing back up on six of the eleven tracks. The combination of Egan's warm soulful vocals coupled with Buckingham and Nicks gorgeous harmonies is undeniably great (the same formula would eventually give Egan his biggest success with 1978's "Magnet and Steel"). Dean Torrence of Jan and Dean fame also appears on backup vocals on the song "She's So Tough". But again its the chemistry between Walter, Lindsey, and Stevie that makes the record work and work well with such instantly catchy songs as the summertime pop of "Only The Lucky", the warm soft rock groove of "Won't You Say You Will", and the steamy "Yes I Guess I Am." Fundamental Roll is some of the best California Rock ever to be laid down on tape and is essential for fans of the Buckingham/Nicks version of Fleetwood Mac, who will feel right at home with Walter's perfect mesh of catchy pop-rock, soothing soft rock, and infectious mid 70s country rock. AMG.
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sexta-feira, 22 de novembro de 2019

Merryweather - Word Of Mouth 1970

Double album 1970 super jam in the Alman Bros vein from Neil Merryweather (pre-Mama Lion) and friends like Steve Miller, Dave Mason, Charlie Musselwhite and more. On the green Capitol label. Don't miss it!

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Warm Dust - Peace For Our Time 1971

Second album from this English brass rock band, that was a bit the answer to Chicago Transit authority mixed with some Caravan and some Dutch/Holland Solution. Actually it is interesting to note that England had The Greatest Show On Earth, If and Warm Dust (and to a lesser extent Colosseum) to answer to American's giants of brass rock (which automatically induced a jazz feel without being the typical jazz-rock): Blood Sweat & Tears, Chicago, Electric Flag and The Flock. None of course would match the New World's candidates for commercial success, but artistically the balance tips a whole lot more evenly. Lead by singer Les "Dansfield" Walker, the sextet had a double sax attack, even if both handled other duties (namely second keyboard and guitar), but as far as the proghead is concerned only first KB man Paul Carrack would face further success (first in new wave group squeeze, than later as a collab in later Steve Hackett albums), but their three albums are definitely worth a listen. Progarchives.

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The Doobie Brothers - Toulouse Street 1972

Toulouse Street was the album by which most of their fans began discovering the Doobie Brothers, and it has retained a lot of its freshness over the decades. Producer Ted Templeman was attuned to the slightly heavier and more Southern style the band wanted to work toward on this, their second album, and the results were not only profitable -- including a platinum record award -- but artistically impeccable. Toulouse Street is actually pretty close in style and sound at various points to what the Eagles were doing during the same period, except that the Doobies threw jazz and R&B into the mix, as well as country, folk, and bluegrass elements, and (surprise!) ended up just about as ubiquitous as the Eagles in peoples' record collections, especially in the wake of the singles "Listen to the Music" and "Jesus Is Just Alright." But those two singles represented only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what this group had to offer, as purchasers of the album discovered even on the singles -- both songs appear here in distinctly longer versions, with more exposition and development, and in keeping with the ambitions that album cuts (even of popular numbers) were supposed to display in those days. Actually, "Listen to the Music" (written by Tom Johnston) offers subtle use of phasing and other studio tricks that make its seemingly earthy, laid-back approach some of the most complex and contrived of the period. Johnston's "Rockin' Down the Highway" shows the band working at a higher wattage and moving into Creedence Clearwater Revival territory, while "Mamaloi" was Patrick Simmons' laid-back Caribbean idyll, and the title tune (also by Simmons) is a hauntingly beautiful ballad. The band then switches gears into swamp rock for "Cotton Mouth" and takes a left turn into the Mississippi Delta for a version of Sonny Boy Williamson II's "Don't Start Me Talkin'" before shifting into a gospel mode with "Jesus Is Just Alright." Johnston's nearly seven-minute "Disciple" was the sort of soaring, bluesy hard rock workout that led to the group's comparison to the Allman Brothers Band, though their interlocking vocals were nearly as prominent as their crunching, surging double lead guitars and paired drummers. And it all still sounds astonishingly bracing decades later; it's still a keeper, and one of the most inviting and alluring albums of its era. AMG.

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Juicy Lucy - Juicy Lucy 1969

If only one song can be said to encapsulate all that Juicy Lucy portended as their career got underway in the new decade of the '70s, it was "Who Do You Love?" The band's first single, spinning off their debut album, was as fast, mean, and dirty as any record could have been, a breakneck tour through the Bayou swamps and dirt-track roads of the American South powered by a razor-sharp guitar that would make your fingers bleed. And it gave the band a U.K. hit that still sounds fresh today. But Juicy Lucy were no one-trick pony. True, their debut album is remembered as much for its artwork (a mostly naked, fruit-draped lady) as for its content, but step inside and the group were locked firmly, and gleefully, into the free-freak movement of the age -- while Chuck Berry's "Nadine" was fed through a Hell's Angels nightclub jukebox, "Are You Satisfied" emerged as a festival chant spread out over six-and-a-half minutes, as mantra-like as (almost) anything the Edgar Broughton Band was doing at the time. The band's American roots are seldom far from the surface, of course: "Mississippi Woman" dripped oozing, cracked, croaky blues, and "Chicago North-Western" essentially offers up a history of the Midwestern railroads, while Glen Ross Campbell's steel guitar breathed Americana over everything it touched. But no matter how powerful Juicy Lucy may have been, it could not paper over the cracks that were already forming in the band themselves, and by the time they recorded their next album, the group that cut this one was already long gone. One can only dream of what they might have achieved had they stuck together. AMG.

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Canned Heat - Canned Heat '70 Concert Recorded Live In Europe 1970

This platter captures the 1970 incarnation of Canned Heat with Bob "The Bear" Hite (vocals), Alan "Blind Owl" Wilson (guitar/vocals/harmonica), Larry "The Mole" Taylor (bass), Aldolfo "Fito" de la Parra (drums), and newest addition Harvey Mandel (guitar), who had replaced Henry "Sunflower" Vestine (guitar) in 1969. They headed across the Atlantic in the spring of 1970 on the heels of "Let's Work Together" -- a Wilbert Harrison cover that charted within the Top Five in Europe. That outing yielded the combo's first concert disc, Live in Europe (1971) -- which had been issued almost a year earlier in the U.K. as Canned Heat Concert (Recorded Live in Europe) (1970). These are also among the final recordings to feature Wilson, whose increasing substance abuse and depression would result in an overdose prior to having re-joined the band for another stint in Europe in the fall of the same year. Indeed the brooding "Pulling Hair Blues" from this effort is marked not only by some decidedly dark and strung-out contributions, but more subtly, Hite's tentative introduction of Wilson -- indicating he had not been playing for the duration of the set. The Heat's performance style has shifted from the aggressive rhythm and blues of their earliest sides to a looser and more improvisational technique. The opener, Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup's "That's All Right Mama," is given a greasy mid-tempo groove over Hite's vocals . Mandel shines as his guitar leads dart in and out of the languid boogie. Although presented as a medley, "Back on the Road" is more or less an inclusive number with only brief lyrical references to "On the Road Again." Mandel's sinuous fretwork melds flawlessly with Wilson's harmonica blows. The powerful rendering of the aforementioned "Let's Work Together" is a highlight, with Canned Heat in top form as Wilson's electric slide riffs recall their seminal sound. AMG.

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Steamhammer - Reflection 1969

Reflection is also-ran late-'60s British blues-rock, with more rock-oriented takes on the kind of approach used by heroes Freddie King and B.B. KingB.B. King's "You'll Never Know," in fact, is covered here, though most of the material was penned by the band. Steamhammer doesn't put much of an original spin on its sources, or on the British blues-rock form, though this is competent and does generally have a moodier, more downbeat feel than most of the band's competition in the genre. The expressive qualities of Kieran White's voice, though, are limited, as though he's being pinched by something that keeps him from letting go too much. The best moments come when they venture just a little outside of the ordinary U.K. blues-rock model, particularly when Harold McNair adds some jazzy flute; "Down the Highway" sounds a little close to some of early Jethro Tull. Future Jefferson Starship member Pete Sears plays session piano. The 2002 CD reissue on Akarma adds two bonus tracks from 1969 singles, "Windmill" and "Autumn Song," which are more explicit forays into the more melodic jazz-blues-rock direction mined by the likes of Jethro TullColosseum, and Davy Graham in the late '60s, again with prominent flute. AMG.

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Al Stewart - Bedsitter Images 1967

Bedsitter Images unveiled a promising but tentative folk-rock singer/songwriter. Al Stewart's songs already displayed his talent for observational storytelling, though at this point he was detailing ordinary lives of British people and autobiographical romance, rather than epic historical incidents. Most of the cuts used a full orchestra, and although the folk-baroque approach worked for some folk-rock artists of the era like Judy Collins, here it seemed ill-conceived. The orchestration was twee, which made the already precious songs seem yet twee-er; Stewart has subsequently expressed regret over the decision to use such production. His work would have sounded better with straightforward folk-rock arrangements, or even as solo acoustic tunes. Despite its faults, it's fairly engaging, highlighted by the lengthy "Beleeka Doodle Day." Not only does that track eliminate the orchestration, it's also the best song on the album, with a characteristically haunting melody and more forceful, melancholy lyrics than those heard on most of the rest of the tracks. AMG.

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sábado, 16 de novembro de 2019

Al Kooper - Act Like Nothing's Wrong 1976

Kooper's sixth solo release opens daringly enough, with his own funky version of "This Diamond Ring," which he transforms completely from its Drifters-inspired origins. Most of the album is in a mid-'70s soul-funk vein, with Tower of Power turning up elsewhere and Kooper trying (with considerable success) to sound soulful on songs like "She Don't Ever Lose Her Groove" and "I Forgot to Be Your Lover." The playing throughout is excellent, with guitars by Kooper himself (who also plays sitar, Mellotron, organ, and synthesizer) as well as Little Beaver and Reggie Young, with Joe Walsh sitting in on one song, and horn arrangements by Kooper and veteran soundtrack composer Dominic Frontiere. The real centerpiece is the epic-length "Hollywood Vampire," which can't quite sustain its seven-minute length. The funkier numbers work, but some of the rest, like "In My Own Sweet Way," don't come off so well. This is two-thirds of a pretty fair album, and only lacks consistency. AMG.

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Blodwyn Pig - Basement Tapes 1969-74

A quirky detour of late-'60s British progressive/blues rock, Blodwyn Pig was founded by former Jethro Tull guitarist Mick Abrahams, who left Tull after the This Was album. Abrahams was joined by bassist Andy Pyle, drummer Ron Berg, and Jack Lancaster, who gave the outfit their most distinctive colorings via his saxophone and flute. On their two albums, they explored a jazz/blues/progressive style somewhat in the mold of (unsurprisingly) Jethro Tull, but with a lighter feel. They also bore some similarities to John Mayall's jazzy late-'60s versions of the Bluesbreakers, or perhaps Colosseum, but with more eclectic material. Both of their LPs made the British Top Ten, though the players' instrumental skills were handicapped by thin vocals and erratic (though oft-imaginative) material. The group were effectively finished by Abrahams' departure after 1970's Getting to This. They briefly reunited in the mid-'70s, and Abrahams was part of a different lineup that reformed in the late '80s; they have since issued a couple of albums in the 1990s. AMG.

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Aretha Franklin - Amazing Grace 1972

Aretha Franklin disproved the notion that once you leave the church, you can't go back. She returned in triumph on this 1972 double album, making what might be her greatest release ever in any style. Her voice was chilling, making it seem as if God and the angels were conducting a service alongside FranklinRev. James Clevelandthe Southern California Community Choir, and everyone else in attendance. Her versions of "How I Got Over" and "You've Got a Friend" are legendary. AMG.

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Can - Live Paris 1973

Live recordings of Can tend to be iffy things. Throughout their existence, they steadfastly refused to do anything but entirely improvise each set including wildly divergent takes on pieces from the L.P.s. They tended to be far less disciplined live than their very tightly edited and economic recordings as well and could end up sounding like a trainwreck quite frequently. Not so on this recording, though. They are dazzlingly on point here and traveling stealthily throughout the Kosmos with minimalist drum wizard Jaki Liebezeit at the helm. The spontaneous radical changes in tempo and willingness to luxuriously zero in on the subtlest regions and repetitions reveal a five-man collective organism at its peak powers.

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Curtis Mayfield - Curtis 1969

The first solo album by the former leader of the ImpressionsCurtis represented a musical apotheosis for Curtis Mayfield -- indeed, it was practically the "Sgt. Pepper's" album of '70s soul, helping with its content and its success to open the whole genre to much bigger, richer musical canvases than artists had previously worked with. All of Mayfield's years of experience of life, music, and people were pulled together into a rich, powerful, topical musical statement that reflected not only the most up-to-date soul sounds of its period, finely produced by Mayfield himself, and the immediacy of the times and their political and social concerns, but also embraced the most elegant R&B sounds of the past. As a producer, Mayfield embraced the most progressive soul sounds of the era, stretching them out compellingly on numbers like "Move on Up," but he also drew on orchestral sounds (especially harps), to achieve some striking musical timbres (check out "Wild and Free"), and wove all of these influences, plus the topical nature of the songs, into a neat, amazingly lean whole. There was only one hit single off of this record, "(Don't Worry) If There's a Hell Down Below We're All Going to Go," which made number three, but the album as a whole was a single entity and really had to be heard that way. AMG.

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Judy Henske & Jerry Hester - Farewell Aldebaran 1969

Judy Henske was a major talent who never quite broke through to major stardom, in part because no one seemed sure of what to do with her. Henske's big, bold voice was a bit too strong for the pop charts in the mid-'60s, and while she had a loyal following among folk music fans, her broad sense of humor and theatrical style set her apart from her very earnest counterparts. (In retrospect, it seems she would have been the perfect star for the right sort of Broadway musical comedy.) In 1969, Henske and her then-husband Jerry Yester (who had been a member of the Modern Folk Quartet and the Lovin' Spoonful, and would go on to produce albums for Tom Waits and Tim Buckley) made an album together, Farewell Aldebaran, and it's one of Henske's very best works, a showcase that's as eclectic and audacious as she was. Farewell Aldebaran can be described as a fusion of folk music, psychedelia, and arty pop, though that only scrapes the surface of the LP's stylistic complexity. The album leaps from the stomp-down primitivism of "Snowblind" and the playful pop of "Horses on a Stick" to the tongue in cheek religious satire of "St. Nicholas Hall," the beauty of "Three Ravens," and the grand scale sci-fi finale of the title cut -- every track on the album has a distinct personality of its own. What holds Farewell Aldebaran together is the strength of the songs and arrangements, where Yester brings together a striking range of sounds and moods, and makes imaginative use of mellotrons and early Moog synthesizers. Henske rarely sounded this nuanced and effective on record, mainly because Yester gave her musical landscapes that were big enough for her talent and personality. Farewell Aldebaran died a quick death in the marketplace in 1969, and it's not hard to see why -- as good as it is, this music was too eclectic and deliberately eccentric to find a place on radio, then or now. But the album has gained a cult following over the years, and with good reason; it's not difficult for anyone with open ears to find a place in their hearts for Henske and Yester's talent, wit, and musical daring. AMG.

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S.O.S. - Looking For The Next One 1975

When is a saxophone trio more than a saxophone trio? When they also play synthesizer, keyboards, and drums, as S.O.S. -- baritone/soprano saxophonist John Surman, alto saxophonist Mike Osborne, and soprano/tenor saxophonist Alan Skidmore -- did during the trio's brief existence during the mid- to late '70s. Before Cuneiform released the two-disc archival collection Looking for the Next One in 2013, S.O.S. had only one album to their name, an eponymous disc on Ogun in 1975, although the trio members were all major contributors to various other '60s and '70s British jazz projects. The 1975 album revealed Surman's multi-layered keyboards and synthesizer and Skidmore's drums to be effective complements to the threesome's saxes (and Surman's bass clarinet), and the previously unreleased Cuneiform set provides even stronger evidence of the group's stellar multi-instrumentalism. Three late-1974 London studio recordings begin disc one, the three-minute leadoff track "News" immediately establishing that S.O.S. had feet planted in both electronic music and improvisational jazz. The track actually features only Surman, playing forceful soprano with copious echo and wah-wah over the insistent sequencer patterns and rhythms of his EMS synthesizer. Those seeking unadulterated saxophone dialogues get their wish with "Rashied," written by Coltrane drummer Rashied Ali; the trio begins with an initially sparse conversation and builds into a tight riff supporting animated free blowing by each of the members in turn.
The title track suggests multiple groups sequentially morphing one into the other: from an intro of contrapuntal synth/keyboard ostinatos to Surman's expansive grand piano over a deep synth drone; from Skidmore's extended Coltrane-esque tenor showcase to his splashy rolling drums beneath Osborne's wild alto as Surman triggers a low burbling synth sequence and joins the fray on wah-wahed electric keys. "Looking for the Next One" indeed. The first disc's latter half features three additional studio recordings, all from September 1975. At close to eight minutes, the all-saxophone "Country Dance" is nearly twice the length of the version on the 1975 album, retaining the tune's regal theme and displaying astoundingly telepathic levels of interplay, while guest drummer Tony Levin expands the percussive capabilities of S.O.S. on the 14-minute "Q.E. Hall" and the Irish reel "The Mountain Road." But disc two -- recorded live at the Balver Hoehle Jazz Festival in Balver, Germany in July 1974, before S.O.S. had set foot in a recording studio -- presents the trio at its best. Seamlessly integrated multi-part suites dominate, including two -- "Trio Trio" and "Up There" -- that visit themes heard on disc one, with the group truly fired up by the spellbound audience. At times, the 25-minute "Suite" recalls Soft Machine's classic (Dean/Ratledge/Hopper/Wyatt) quartet, which had evolved toward a similarly fiery, exploratory, angular, and spacy style of music several years previously; here, S.O.S. approach that unique sound from their own vantage point, making this set a must-hear for fans of the inimitable world-class electric jazz that emerged from Britain during the '60s and '70s era. AMG.

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quinta-feira, 14 de novembro de 2019

Barry Melton - Bright Sun in Shining 1970

Guitarist Barry Melton entered music in his teens, in San Francisco, as a member of the Instant Action Jug Band, which was where he met Country Joe McDonald, a singer and guitar player who was also putting out an underground newspaper called Rag Baby. The two worked together on some of McDonald's recordings in support of his political journal, and out of that linkup, they decided to form a band -- the resulting group was christened Country Joe & the FishMelton's lead guitar -- a searing psychedelic assault on the strings -- was as essential a part of the group's three classic albums as McDonald's voice. Amid numerous personnel changes, especially after the third album, TogetherMelton and McDonald formed the stable core of the band, which lasted into the late '60s. Melton held the group together after McDonald withdrew from full-time work with the group to get married, and he brought ex-Big Brother & the Holding Company members Peter Albin and David Getz aboard when they were left high and dry after Janis Joplin's split with the band. Working as Barry "The Fish" Melton, he continued as a solo act through the 1970s and into the 1980s, also fronting the Barry "The Fish" Melton BandMelton has also been a practicing attorney since the early '80s; in more recent years, that career has apparently prevented Melton from participating in music as often as his former bandmates. AMG.

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