terça-feira, 19 de maio de 2020

Ed Askew - Ask the Unicorn 1968

An enigma even by the ultra-obscure standards of ESP-Disk Records, next to nothing is known about outsider folksinger Ed Askew. Although Askew has been recording songs since the late '60s, only one album has ever been released, 1969's Ask the Unicorn. A solo recording, the album features Askew accompanying himself on the ten-stringed lute-like acoustic instrument the tiple. A Latin instrument Askew discovered as a teenager because his ukulele-playing father owned one, the tiple quickly became a passion for Askew
While studying art at Yale in the mid-'60s, Askew began performing at local poetry readings, and soon incorporated the tiple into his act. Because the tiple is a difficult instrument, with the player having to press down hard on three tightly wound strings at once to get any sound, Askew's early material has a unique and oddly strained vocal quality that comes from the difficulty of singing while playing such a demanding instrument. After graduating from Yale and getting a teaching job in New York, Askew sent a demo tape to Bernard Stollman of the ultra-noncommercial ESP-Disk, possibly the most legendary indie label of the '60s; with his unique but attractive sound, Askew was quickly invited to record an album for the label. Easily one of the most bizarre and wonderful albums ever released by ESP-Disk, Ask the Unicorn is a psychedelic folk masterpiece, like the Holy Modal Rounders jamming with Alexander "Skip" Spence. A second album, Little Eyes, was recorded for ESP-Disk in 1970, but although it got as far as a test pressing, the label was beginning to run out of money and the album was never released. In most cases, that would be that, but while pursuing a career as a painter and poet, Askew sporadically kept up his performing career in New Haven and Boston during the '70s. Though he has never released anything commercially since Ask the Unicorn, his homemade tapes are traded on the fringe music underground. His recent music has included harpsichord, synthesizers, and drum machines along with guitar, piano, and his beloved tiple, but other than the more modern instrumentation, Askew's songs remain the same: quirky, but surprisingly accessible, with an engaging melodic sense and emotional, thoughtful lyrics that belie the easy "freaky outsider" tag that might otherwise get stuck upon him. AMG.

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Hank Ballard - You Can't Keep A Good Man Down 1968

Produced by James Brown in an attempt to resuscitate Hank Ballard's waning commercial fortunes, You Can't Keep a Good Man Down remains a minor soul classic -- Brown's admiration for Ballard galvanizes each and every groove, and his inimitably funky arrangements fit the singer's gritty vocals like a glove. While "Thrill on the Hill" and "Woman Is Man's Best Friend" nod to the muscular R&B of Ballard's early hits with the MidnightersYou Can't Keep a Good Man Down primarily serves to establish his credentials as a modern soul stylist -- a cover of Freddie Scott's "Are You Lonely for Me, Baby" is a particularly effective showcase for Ballard's rough-edged vocals, while "How You Gonna Get Respect" and "Come on Wit' It" prove his easy mastery of blistering, J.B.'s-type funk. A superb, sadly under-recognized recording. AMG.

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Ike & Tina Turner - Don't Play Me Cheap 1963

An early-'60s album from the formative days of the Ike And Tina Turner Revue. They were still developing the formula, but would soon begin striking soul gold. In the meantime, Turner was operating as an R&B and soul diva, although she later said that she hated singing these tunes. In this instance, what she was doing was mostly second-level material, but her husky, powerful voice sounded convincing. AMG.

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Flaming Youth - Ark 2 (1970)

This short-lived UK act comprised of Gordon Smith (guitar), Brian Chatton (keyboards), Ronnie Caryl (bass) and Phil Collins (drums). Their sole recording, Ark 2, was an ambitiously packaged concept album, written and arranged by Ken Howard / Alan Blakely, a team better known for creating the unashamed pop of the Herd and Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick And Tich. The project was the subject of considerable hype, but its new musical departure proved unconvincing and prematurely doomed Flaming Youth’s career. The group was effectively disbanded when Collins successfully auditioned for Genesis in 1970. AMG.

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The Incredible String Band - The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter 1968

The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter stands as the Incredible String Band's undisputed classic among critics and musicians alike -- ask Robert Plant, who touted its influence on Led Zeppelin's first album and general direction. Recorded and released in 1968, the album hit number five on the U.K. album charts, and was nominated for a Grammy in the U.S. It was produced by Joe Boyd, and engineered by John Wood using 24-track technology. Robin WilliamsonMike Heron, and Licorice McKechnie also utilized the talents of Dolly Collins (vocals, flute, organ, and piano), and David Snell (harp). Williamson and Heron employed a vast array of instruments on these songs including sitar, gimbri, pan pipe, oud, chahanai, mandolin, guitars, Hammond B-3, dulcimer, harpsichord, pan pipes, oud, water harp, and harmonica. The songs were much more freeform and experimental. Check Heron’s 13-minute “A Very Cellular Song,” which incorporates elements from a Sikh hymn and a Bahamian spiritual. Using the Hammond, a gimbri, pan pipes, handclaps, and other instruments, it begins on a two-chord vamp that employs a vocal round in five-part harmony, with secular and spiritual lyrics. It’s simply infectious. Other notables include the stellar “The Minotaur’s Song,” with its call and response chorus played on guitars, upright piano, and six-part harmonies. It melds a children's song with a drinking song to humorous and utterly memorable effect. Elsewhere, “Waltz of the New Moon,” employs two-chord drones on acoustic guitar with a meld of Middle Eastern vocal styles and Scottish field songs. “Three Is a Green Crown” is a psychedelic folk song in all its hypnotic droning glory with Williamson’s primitive sitar playing featured prominently. The tender, exotic, "Nightfall,” the album’s closer, is a lullaby, with guitar and sitar accompanying the vocal in whole tone intervals. The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter is the most ambitious, focused, and brilliantly executed record in ISB’s catalog. AMG.

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Earth Island - We Must Survive 1970

Issued in June 1970, at a time when rock music was beginning to embrace ecological themes, this Canadian quartet's sole album was produced by Kim Fowley, and features material co-written with Byrds bassist Skip Battin. Touching on rock, psychedelia and sunshine pop, it boasts fine vocal harmonies throughout.

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Dennis Brown - Words of Wisdom 1979

Alongside CulturePrince Far I, and the DJ Trinity, singer Dennis Brown helped establish the Mighty Two (Joe Gibbs and Errol Thompson) production brand during the late 1970s, and he did so through records like Words of Wisdom. The singer's delivery is strong and his concerns palpable on a set of songs that consist largely of sobering, reality themes. Though his fondness for lovers material served Brown well, earning him a hit with "Ain't That Loving You," the most memorable material is contained elsewhere. The God fearing opener "So Jah Say," the wise man's discourse of the title track, and "A True"'s pleas for deeper understanding in religious matters and life in general, are standouts. Though these may not be quite the equal of Visions' counterparts like "Malcolm X," "Repatriation," and "Deliverance Must Come," they were strong enough to suggest that Brown had lasting potential. The singer even revisits his first charting single, 1972s "Money in My Pocket," achieving greater success the second time around. Gibbs' studio band is in even sharper form than on Visions. The veteran rhythm section of Sly Dunbar (drums), Robbie Shakespeare (bass), Willie Lindo (guitar), Winston Wright (keyboards), and others urging Brown to arguably greater musical heights. Words of Wisdom's follow-up, Joseph's Coat of Many Colours, completed a highly successful trilogy of recordings for the Mighty Two. Brown's subsequent popularity led to a contract with A&M in the U.S., though later attempts at broadening his fanbase failed to produce results as successful as early albums like this one. AMG.

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C.J. & CO. - Devil's Gun 1977

One of the most interesting disco-soul hits of 1977 was CJ & Co's "The Devil's Gun," which was a major departure from the dance/love/party vibe that defined so many recordings of the disco era. While other dancefloor favorites from that period favored fun, escapist lyrics, "The Devil's Gun" warned listeners to be on their guard and not let evil bring them down. And the tune was as strong musically as it was lyrically; CJ & Co's forte was a gritty and funky yet sophisticated blend of disco and Detroit soul. Many of the people who bought that single ignored the group's debut album, which was also titled The Devil's Gun -- and that was a mistake because the rest of the LP is quite solid even though it falls short of the magnificence of the title song. Produced and arranged in Dearborn, MI, by Mike Theodore and one-time Motown session guitarist Dennis CoffeyThe Devil's Gun never fails to be Detroit-sounding. Danceable tracks like "We Got Our Own Thing," "Get a Groove in Order to Move," and "Sure Can't Go to the Moon" are relevant to the disco scene of 1977, although CJ & Co never forgets disco's soul heritage -- the three-man, two-woman vocal quintet obviously owes a major debt to the Temptationsthe Undisputed TruthEdwin Starr, and others who defined Detroit soul in the 1960s and 1970s. The Devil's Gun was mixed at Philadelphia's famous Sigma Sound Studios, but make no mistake: This good-to-excellent LP is very much a product of the Motor City. AMG.

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Bacon Fat - Tough Dude 1971

Bacon Fat was a band led by harmonica player Rod "Gingerman" Piazza and featuring Buddy Reed (guitar, vocals), Gregg Schaefer (guitar), J.D. Nicholson (vocals, piano), Jerry Smith (bass), and Dick Innes, Jr. (drums). They were signed to the British Blue Horizon label and made two albums before breaking up in the early '70s. AMG.

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999 - 999 (1978)

A truly neglected classic, 999's eponymous debut album was issued in March, 1978, on the back of three stunning 45s -- the romping "I'm Alive," the anthemic "Nasty Nasty," and the oddly ambitious "Me and My Desire." The first and last of these appeared on the album, together with the summer smash that never was, June, 1978's, "Emergency," and it is with these tracks as its benchmarks that 999 should be judged. A ferocious live band, the group harnessed every iota of their stage performance for the studio, turning in an album that zips past at the speed of light, in a blur of chant-worthy choruses and pogo-able riffs; even better, three bonus tracks round up the absent "Nasty Nasty" 45, plus a pair of period B-sides, to deliver a picture perfect portrait of 999's first year. There would, of course, be many more to come. AMG.

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quarta-feira, 6 de maio de 2020

Blind Faith - Blind Faith 1969

Blind Faith's first and last album, more than 30 years old and counting, remains one of the jewels of the Eric ClaptonSteve Winwood, and Ginger Baker catalogs, despite the crash-and-burn history of the band itself, which scarcely lasted six months. As much a follow-up to Traffic's self-titled second album as it is to Cream's final output, it merges the soulful blues of the former with the heavy riffing and outsized song lengths of the latter for a very compelling sound unique to this band. Not all of it works -- between the virtuoso electric blues of "Had to Cry Today," the acoustic-textured "Can't Find My Way Home," the soaring "Presence of the Lord" (Eric Clapton's one contribution here as a songwriter, and the first great song he ever authored) and "Sea of Joy," the band doesn't do much with the Buddy Holly song "Well All Right"; and Ginger Baker's "Do What You Like" was a little weak to take up 15 minutes of space on an LP that might have been better used for a shorter drum solo and more songs. Unfortunately, the group was never that together as a band and evidently had just the 42 minutes of new music here ready to tour behind. AMG.

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Batdorf & Rodney - Batdorf & Rodney 1972

John Batdorf and Mark Rodney were a soft rock duo of the early '70s who made three albums and reached the charts with two singles, "You Are a Song" and "Somewhere in the Night," in 1975, then split up, with Batdorf forming Silver in 1976. AMG.

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Catherine Ribeiro + Alpes - Âme Debout 1971

Originally released in 1971, Ame Debout was Catherine Ribeiro's third album and the first that she recorded for the Philips label. Ribeiro's often harsh voice evokes both pain and hope, while the group les Alpes backs her with an odd sort of progressive cosmic folk, with spacy guitar and keyboards and a pulsing bongo beat on some tracks. They turn up the energy on the spirited title track that opens the record, while "Diborowska" mellows out a bit, a flowing French neo-folk song that sounds similar to Brigitte Fontaine, but with a darker melancholic sound because of Ribeiro's deeper voice. Ribeiro sits out the next three tracks to let the group show its stuff. On "Aria Populaire," Ribeiro sings wordlessly over a strumming guitar, a simple but effective piece. "Kleenex, le Drap de Lit et l'Etendard" is the slowest piece on the record, as Ribeiro croons over a droning organ dirge, reminiscent of some of Nico's early stuff. "Dingues" ends the record with Ribeiro bouncing words around a steady and rollicking acoustic guitar lick for another odd dark folk melody in the Fontaine vein. AMG.

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David Porter - Sweat & Love 1973

David Porter is most famous as the songwriting partner of Isaac Hayes during the 1960s. Functioning as house composers for Stax, they penned most of Sam & Dave's hits, including such classics as "Soul Man" and "Hold On! I'm Coming"; they also wrote material for other acts on the roster, such as Carla ThomasJohnnie Taylor, and the Soul Children. Starting in the late '60s, Hayes became increasingly involved in his own recording career, eventually leading to the end of the partnership. Many soul fans remain unaware that Porter also began to record his own albums for Stax. In fact, in the '60s he had released a few singles for Savoy and Hi under the pseudonyms of Little David and Kenny Cain, and had done a single for Stax itself in 1965, "Can't See You When I Want To." A remake of "Can't See You When I Want To" became a Top 30 R&B hit for Porter, and he cut several albums for Stax in the early '70s, including an ambitious concept LP, Victim of the Joke?, which connected conventional pop/soul tunes with dialog. By this time he had teamed up with a different songwriting partner, Ronnie Williams, but as a solo artist he ultimately made little impact. In 2005, he and Hayes were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. AMG.

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Back Pocket - Buzzard Bait 1976

American Southern Rock band, with members of The Flying Burrito Brothers. Pat  Robinson started his career at age 15 by writing and singing his own songs. He signed his first recording contract with Four Star Productions with his band Fenwyck. They recorded an album at American Recording Studio with legendary producer Richie Podolor (Three Dog Night, Steppenwolf). After some personnel changes, Fenwyck changed their name to Back Pocket. They signed a recording contract with Del-Fi Records/Allied Records with established producer Bob Keane (Richie Valens, Sam Cooke, Bobby Fuller Four) and recorded the album "Back Pocket”. Following its release, the band toured the United States and Europe for several years. Back Pocket then signed with Joyce Records and recorded the album "Buzzard Bait”. Pat Robinson (acoustic & electric guitar, keyboards, symphonizer, synthesizer, jaw harp, percussion), Pat Maroshek (drums, percussion), Andy Way (bass), Johnny Hunt (bass), John Beland (electric guitar), Mike Katon (electric guitar), Larry McNeely (banjo, harp), Dick McIivery (steel guitar), Thad Maxwell (steel guitar), Alan Lindgren (keyboards) and Gib Guilbeau (fiddle).

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Bernie Worrell - All The Woo in the World 1978

Parliarment/Funkadelic keyboardist Bernie Worrell's first LP is more Funkadelic than Parliarment, and with the exception of one tune, less exciting than either. The keeper is "Insurance Man for the Funk," 12 minutes and 39 seconds of pure P-Funk; it has everything: layered sounds, a toe-tapping midtempo beat, and some incredible horns. The chorus has a great hook -- "Insurance Man for the funk/Take some insurance out on your romp/You are the beneficiaryyyy"; it also has some side cracking lines like "Leroy's (Lloyd's) of London," and a great synthesizer solo by Bernie. Not to knock Bernie's rendition, which is great, but if George had cut this with Parliament or Bootsy's Rubber Band, it would have blown up. Unfortunately, nothing else here measures up to "Insurance Man"; the other selections have a weird feel to them. Bernie does most of the lead vocals, and Junie Morrison plays a significant role. You get the feeling that most of these tracks were first slotted for other artists under George Clinton's umbrella of stars. "Woo Together" features Bernie and Junie on a funk number; Morrison leads the rather dull "I'll Be Here." The concept is supposed to be something called Woo, which is not adequately explained. AMG.

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David Chalmers - Primeval Road 1976

David Chalmers started his professional career in the rock and roll business in 1967 playing lead guitar for "Butterscotch Grove", managed by Irv Azoff present manager of; Eagles, Joe Walsh, and REO Speedwagon.
During those years of the 60s and early '70s, Irv took the band through the notoriously wild days when rock and roll icon's ruled the musical scene and pandemonium and coincidence charted the course of their destiny. These days of riotous rock and roll are being captured by one of the band members who presently is writing a book about these experiences.
Dave Chalmers moved on to further develop an opening in the playing field of his dynamic creativity by forming "The Dave Chalmers Band", touring the Midwest in the late 70s, and early 80s and performing with countless top name bands: Journey, Tom Petty, Climax Blues Band, and  The Outlaws just to name a few.

Columbia and Capitol/United Artists Records snapped up the option of distributing three albums of original music recorded by The Dave Chalmers Band. A fourth published album and a fifth acoustic LP was placed on the back burner and never released.
Always a little ahead of his time, Dave Chalmers is busy working in his sound studio in California, on new sounds in his musical world he hopes to release in the year 2000.
In 1970, David Chalmers started The Same Old Music Publishing Co., B.M.I.
Several small Independent Labels have used S.O.M. Publishing Company.  During the early '70s and into the middle of the '80s many published works were released. These were marketed and distributed by Columbia, Capitol, Decca, and other such Distributors.  As usual, Same Old Music is in a new and innovative growth pattern.

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A Passing Fancy - A Passing Fancy 1968

The pop group A Passing Fancy formed in Toronto, Canada, in the '60s. Though they only completed one album, it pulled off two big hits with the singles "I'm Losing You Tonight" and "I Believe in Sunshine."
A Passing Fancy had a number of members, including guitarists Ron ForsterBrian SmithJay Telfer, and Phil Seon; lead singer and pianist Fergus Hambleton' drummers Louis Pratile and Steve Wilson; organist Brian Price; and bassists Rick Mann and Dan Troutman. In 1967 the group released its one and only full-length album, a self-titled debut that was recorded under the Boo Records label. A few years later, the members split, some trying solo careers, others joining other bands. A Passing Fancy's album was re-released on CD in 2000 on the Peacemaker Records label. That was a delightful surprise for old fans who thought they would never see Passing Fancy tunes on anything other than black vinyl. AMG.

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domingo, 3 de maio de 2020

Grace Slick & The Great Society - Collector's Item From The San Francisco Scene 1971

This double-LP/single-CD reissue combines both of the Great Society's live albums, Conspicuous Only by Its Absence and How It Was, and features "Somebody to Love" in its original slower, more menacing version. It also includes the Society's extended version of Grace Slick's "White Rabbit" along with several other haunting originals which strike an exhilarating balance between tight songwriting and psychedelic jamming. Based on his raga-tinged work here, guitarist Darby Slick (Grace's then brother-in-law) deserves a lot more recognition than he's ever received for his pioneering explorations of Eastern scales. Bassist Peter Van Gelder isn't far behind him in the innovation department, and makes significant contributions here on saxophone and flute as well, plunging into John Coltrane territory on the former -- and his work on "White Rabbit," by itself, is worth the price of admission. Additionally, Grace Slick's singing was already about 95-percent of what it would be with the Airplane when she came aboard the latter, and if you close your eyes and forget what you're hearing, there are moments when you'd swear you were listening to her work from Surrealistic Pillow, After Bathing at Baxter's, or Crown of Creation. What's more, the CD edition is very nicely produced, the engineers overcoming most of the sonic limitations of the original concert tapes that made the original LP versions sound so flat in spots. All of these attributes make the title of this release something of a misnomer -- far more than a "Collector's Item," this is a genuinely exciting glimpse into the birth of psychedelic music, and essential listening for any devotees of the latter, or the San Francisco sound in any of its manifestations; the Great Society might not have made it past 1966, but they left behind music here that was as solid, substantial, and enduring -- and worth hearing today -- as anything the Airplanethe Grateful Dead, and the Charlatans were doing at the time. (And if you do look for this CD -- which, amazingly, is still in print as of 2007 -- a lot of stores tend to file it under Grace Slick rather than Great Society). AMG.

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