quinta-feira, 24 de setembro de 2020

The Rolling Stones - Goats Head Soup 1973

Sliding out of perhaps the greatest winning streak in rock history, the Stones slipped into decadence and rock star excess with Goats Head Soup, their sequel to Exile on Main St. This is where the Stones' image began to eclipse their accomplishments, as Mick ascended to jet-setting celebrity and Keith slowly sunk deeper into addiction, and it's possible hearing them moving in both directions on Goats Head Soup, at times in the same song. As Jagger plays the devil (or, dances with Mr. D, as he likes to say), the sex and sleaze quotient is increased, all of it underpinned by some genuinely affecting heartbreak, highlighted by "Angie." This may not be as downright funky, freaky, and fantastic as Exile, yet the extra layer of gloss brings out the enunciated lyrics, added strings, wah-wah guitars, explicit sex, and violence, making it all seem trippily decadent. If it doesn't seem like there's a surplus of classics here, all the songs work well, illustrating just how far they've traveled in their songcraft, as well as their exceptional talent as a band -- they make this all sound really easy and darkly alluring, even when the sex'n'satanism seems a little silly. To top it all of, they cap off this utterly excessive album with "Star Star," a nasty Chuck Berry rip that grooves on its own mean vulgarity -- its real title is "Starf*cker," if you need any clarification, and even though they got nastier (the entirety of Undercover, for instance), they never again made something this dirty or nasty. And, it never feels more at home than it does at the end of this excessive record.

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V.A. - Vertigo Annual (UK) 1970

In those times most record companies made compilations with the groups and singers of their own label in order to make themselves known, thus several compilations gave to the public in general the oportunity to know more groups. This is the prog rock from Vertigo that was linked to Philips / Phonogramm. Don't miss it. 

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New Riders Of The Purple Sage - Brujo 1974

Harking back to the era of singers who did not write their own songs, most record contracts continued to call for two albums a year in the 1970s, a provision most recording artists seemed to ignore. But Brujo was the New Riders of the Purple Sage's sixth album in just over three years. (That includes the band's previous release, Home, Home on the Road, a live LP from earlier in 1974, half of which consisted of previously unrecorded tunes.) Maybe it's not surprising, then, that a group which, on its debut, New Riders of the Purple Sage, in 1971, seemed like a songwriting vehicle for singer/guitarist John Dawson, has had to scrounge around for songs to fill up its albums. One source of material was singer/bassist Dave Torbert, who leaned in a rock & roll direction. But on Brujo he's been replaced by veteran Skip Battin, who has been kicking around the music business since the days of Skip & Flip and most recently was in the Byrds. In fact, with Dawson contributing only the nostalgic leadoff track, "Old Man Noll," the country-rocker "Instant Armadillo Blues," and the macabre story-song "Parson Brown," Battin, with his songwriting partner Kim Fowley, is the dominant voice and pen on the second half of this LP. Four of the last six songs are in his L.A. country-pop novelty style, so that the album can seem less like a New Riders record than a follow-up to Battin's solo album Skip. Happily, before that the band has found some appropriate outside material, including another of its discoveries from the country charts of the 1960s, Don Gibson's 1968 hit "Ashes of Love," as well as a good take on Bob Dylan's "You Angel You" from his comeback album Planet Waves of earlier in 1974. Also, lead guitarist David Nelson has collaborated successfully with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter on "Crooked Judge." Still, the addition of Battin skews what used to be a bunch of San Francisco hippie cowboys into much more of a Southern California-style group. AMG.

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Minette - Come to Me at Tea-Time 1968

Jacques Minette was born in Manhattan to visiting French parents, and raised in Boston. A child performer, her career as a female impersonator dates from the 1940s. As Minette she played all the big drag clubs of the period.
She, and most drag performers, were driven out of Boston in 1948 when Archbishop Cushing banned them. In New York she was a regular at 82 Club. She put out an LP, Come to Me at Tea-Time, 1968, and was a guest singer in the seminal film, The Queen, 1968, hosted by Jack Doroshow (Sabrina). She was a regular in Avery Willard’s Ava-Graph films, and also a member of the Ridiculous Theatre Company. She also worked with the underground film director, Andy Milligan, even to the point of sewing dresses when he opened a dress shop.

She is a connecting link from the drag shows in the days of vaudeville and burlesque, through the avant-garde of the 1960s to the end of the 20th century. However she says that she made more money as a sex worker than as a singer.

She was an activist in the early Gay Liberation movement in New York. Although she was non-op, she normally wore female clothing off-stage as well as on, and preferred female pronouns for herself. She was also a musicologist and gay historian.  She died at age 73.

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Randy Burns - Evening of The Magician 1968

Randy Burns' second album, 1968's Evening of the Magician, is an enormous improvement over his 1967 debut, Of Love and War. That album, while fine for what it was, included too many covers of songs by Burns' contemporaries in the Greenwich Village folk scene to show what the singer/songwriter was capable of. This album, which features ten good-to-great Burns originals, is far superior and much more personal feeling. Burns' new backing trio, the Sky Dog Band, provides sympathetic and low-key backing on keyboards (Matt Kastner), bass and flute (Bruce Samuels), and percussion (John O'Leary). The acid folk settings are similar to those of Burns' ESP-Disk labelmates Pearls Before Swine, but his solid, simple songs lack Tom Rapp's psychedelic flightiness. (This is either a good or bad thing depending on one's point of view.) Burns' three originals on Of Love and War hinted that the Connecticut native might be a gifted songwriter, and the best songs of Evening of the Magician more than fulfill that promise. Burns' forte is the evocative love song, and Evening of the Magician contains several, with "Echoes of Mary's Song," "Susan, Your Mind's Got Wings" (featuring some odd, seemingly random organ interjections by Kastner), and the heartbreaking "Girl from England" particularly lovely standouts. The brooding "Ron's Song" and "Rainy Day Children" are nearly up to those standouts, but "You've Got All of Love Standing at Your Door" is marred by a bizarrely stentorian, Anthony Newley-like chorus. Other than that misstep, however, Evening of the Magician is an excellent piece of gentle, lightly psychedelic folk-rock, and an album well worth rediscovery by fans of Pearls Before Swine, late-period Phil Ochs, or other acid folk artists. AMG.

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Reebop Kwaku Baah - Reebop 1972

The rhythms of Nigeria were brought to British rock by percussionist/singer Anthony "Reebop" Kwaku Baah. A member of Traffic during the early '70s, Baah became the only non-founding member with the group longer than Dave Mason. He subsequently worked with German rock bands CAN and Zahara, and recorded several impressive solo albums. His 1977 album Trance was a collaboration with traditional Moroccan musicians from the mystical Ganoua sect. A native of Lagos, Nigeria, Baah moved to England in the '60s. He was living in Sweden in 1971 when Steve Winwood invited him to record and tour with Traffic. Although he remained with the group for the remainder of the '70s, he balanced his involvement with solo projects. His debut solo effort Reebop, recorded with Swedish musicians and released in 1972, was followed by Anthony Reebop Kwaku Baah in 1973 and Trance in 1977. Baah died of a cerebral hemmorage in 1983 while onstage in Sweden. His final album, Melodies in a Jungle Man's Head, was never finished but found release in 1989. In addition to his work with TrafficBaah contributed to albums by Winwoodthe Rolling Stones, and Ginger Baker. AMG.

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Savoy Brown - Raw Sienna 1970

This high-water mark by the band finds them softening their rougher edges and stretching out into jazz territory, yet still retaining a blues foundation. There's not a bad cut here, with enough variety (bottleneck slide, acoustic guitar, horns, and strings) to warrant frequent late-night listenings. "A Hard Way to Go," "Needle and Spoon," and "Stay While the Night Is Young" are especially strong, as are two instrumental numbers. Unfortunately, leader Kim Simmonds lost his greatest asset when vocalist Chris Youlden quit for an ill-fated solo career after this recording. Youlden had one of the most distinctive voices in British blues, and Savoy would never fully recover from his exit. AMG.

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The J. Geils Band - The Morning After 1971

The Morning After is a near perfect follow-up to the J. Geils Band's self-titled debut album. It's more of the same winning blend of rocked-out blues, jumped-up soul, and pure rock & roll wildness with enough attitude and energy to get a club full of people from zero to sweaty in less than 60 seconds. Featuring the original versions of songs that became radio staples in their live incarnations ("Looking for a Love," the Magic Dick showcase "Whammer Jammer"), a batch of covers of rare soul gems ("So Sharp," Don Covay's "The Usual Place," the aforementioned "Looking for a Love"), and some fine originals (the rip-roaring opener "I Don't Need You No More," the very funky "Gotta Have Your Love," and the heart-rending ballad "Cry One More Time," which was covered memorably by Gram Parsons on G.P.), The Morning After is definite proof that the J. Geils Band were well on their way to becoming one of the best rock & roll bands of any era. AMG.

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domingo, 20 de setembro de 2020

Ray Russell - Dragon Hill 1969

To listen to guitarist Ray Russell's early Columbia recordings is to open an ear onto a different world, at least a different world in jazz. Dragon Hill's quartet of Russell, pianist Roger Fry, bassist Ron Matthewson, and drummer Alan Rushton was a frighteningly solid jazz unit. They could play the canon until the cows came home and yet, also made the best case for modern British jazz at the time. These were young, restless players; while the blues were fine and good, the edges explored by John Coltrane and the electric Miles Davis group were difficult to resist. Dragon Hill is the sound of a band reinventing itself; undoing the method they previously played music in and replacing it with an intense monster they could barely handle, let alone control. Nothing on this disc was edited, and everything was done in one take without overdubs of any kind. When Russell states a blues theme lifted straight from Davis' "All Blues," you wonder what's up.

But it lasts only a moment because he goes right out of the frame. The band keeps the mode harmonically, but 
Russell loops over the margins and gets the band to explore with him. They return periodically -- especially Russell, who seems afraid to let go -- but by the time they reach the next tune, "Something in the Sky," the fear is gone. "Dragon Hill" winds out, wailing the blues in a whole new context, unburdened by the chord changes. "Something in the Sky" is like a bebop tune that has become unwound. Adding a four-piece horn section here and on "Mandala," the album's closer, Russell reveals how much influence Jimi Hendrix had on him. He takes in the jazz leanings of the horn players, creates a new harmonic base with Fry, and then shoves his screaming rock guitar into the thick of jazz. It's as if he's trying to break it all apart and it works with the context of the group. The album's backbone is "Can I Have My Paperback Back." Russell's melodic line gets doubled by Fry on electric piano, and they take the blues to ride into the jazz-funk territory before spiraling the entire composition into pure improvisation without any regard for where or when they may return -- and they never do fully. It's a different tune at the end. Dragon Hill is the first in a pair of albums that revealed -- at least to those in Great Britain lucky enough to hear him play -- that Russell wasn't merely a fine jazz player, but a truly original musical thinker and an improvisational force to be reckoned with. This disc is a wonderful introduction to an underappreciated artist. AMG.

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Len Chandler - To Be A Man 1966

He would be forgotten several decades later, but in the early '60s Len Chandler was a reasonably well-known socially conscious folk singer/songwriter. Produced by the estimable John Hammond, his Columbia debut was commendably earnest and goodhearted New York 1960s folk. It's dated, though, in the melodramatic, serious execution of the material. While his concerns are diverse -- including anthemic odes to self-pride, blues, love ballads, and a yearning for a more just world -- and compassionate, the songs are lacking in outstanding or exceptionally moving qualities. That's particularly true of the vocals, which like so many folk recordings of the era have the sort of exhortatory vibrato that would get largely washed out of contemporary folk and folk-rock by the end of the 1960s in favor of more naturalistic styles. In view of Columbia's pioneering folk-rock efforts of the mid-'60s, it's interesting to hear the spiky electric guitar and tambourine on the bluesy "Feet First Baby," as if the label and Hammond were gingerly exploring possibilities of more contemporary backup. That arrangement isn't too typical of the album, though, which largely sticks to acoustic if rhythmic folk. AMG.

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Paul Williams - Someday Man 1970

Williams formed a band with his brother Mentor Williams called the Holy Mackerel. The group scored a deal with Reprise Records, but its sole self-titled album was a commercial disappointment, and Williams set out on a solo career as he worked on his songwriting. Williams cut his first solo album for Reprise, 1970's Someday Man, but it fared no better than the Holy Mackerel album. It was when Williams landed a job as a staff songwriter at A&M Records that his career finally started to click; working with Roger Nichols, his co-writer on Someday Man, he penned "Out in the Country," which became a major hit for Three Dog Night, and the group had major chart success with two other Williams tunes, "Just an Old Fashioned Love Song" and "The Family of Man." And a tune Williams and Nichols wrote for a bank commercial enjoyed an impressive second life when the Carpenters cut "We've Only Just Begun" and it became a massive chart success.
Jobbing songwriter and actor Paul Williams only provided lyrics on his debut album -- all the music was composed by producer 
Roger NicholsWilliams' vocal limitations are immediately clear. His voice is thin, inarticulate, and markedly stunted of range -- it takes considerable getting used to. The ten songs here roll along merrily enough in a soft rock vein, but none is particularly mesmerizing. The plaintive "I Know You" is a touching moment and "Roan Pony" reveals a penchant for the kind of greeting-card whimsy that would later spawn some of Williams' big songwriting hits ("Rainy Days and Mondays," "Evergreen"). The rest is stuff that no one would object to hearing, principally because the listener is more than likely to have forgotten it a few minutes after the disc stops spinning. AMG.

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Pacific Gas & Electric - Starring Charlie Allen 1973

The seeds of Pacific Gas & Electric were sown in Los Angeles back in 1966 when self-taught guitarist Tom Marshall formed Bluesberry Jam, whose ranks included drummer Charlie AllenAllen turned out to be such a fine vocalist that he ended up becoming the frontman; his drum chair was filled by Adolfo de la Parra in 1968. Later that year, de La Parra left to join Canned Heat, replacing Frank Cook who then joined Bluesberry Jam. After adding guitarist Glenn Schwartz and bassist Brent Block later in 1968, the group changed their name to Pacific Gas & ElectricTheir first album, Get It On, was released by Kent in 1968, but failed to make much of an impact. However, following their appearance at the Miami Pop Festival in late 1968, Pacific Gas & Electric signed with Columbia, who released Pacific Gas & Electric in 1969. Their next album, Are You Ready, supplied their first hit, the title track, which made it into the Top 20 in the summer of 1970.

Despite this success, all the bandmembers left, forcing Charlie Allen to build a new Pacific Gas & Electric around him. Enter guitarist Ken Utterback, bassist Frank PetriccaRon Woods on drums, Jerry Aiello on keyboards, trumpet player Stanley Abernathy, sax players Alfred Gallegos and Virgil Gonsalves, and percussionist Joe Lala. Around this time, the Pacific Gas & Electric Utility Company asked the band to change their name, which was shortened to PG&E, also the title of their 1971 album. They also appeared in and provided music for the Otto Preminger film Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon starring Liza Minnelli.

After 1972 or so, PG&E basically turned into a solo Charlie Allen vehicle. They released Starring Charlie Allen on Dunhill in 1973, then called it quits. AMG.

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Squeeze - Cool For Cats 1979

Rebounding after a difficult debut, Squeeze hunkered down with producer John Wood -- the engineer of U.K. Squeeze -- and cut Cool for Cats, which for all intents and purposes is their true debut album. More than U.K. SqueezeCool for Cats captures the popcraft of Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook, while also sketching out a unique musical territory for the band, something that draws deeply on '60s pop, the stripped-down propulsive energy of pop/rock, and the nervy style of new wave. Although this is considerably less chaotic and aggressive than U.K. SqueezeCool for Cats feels like it belongs to its time more than its predecessor, partially due to the heavy emphasis on Jools Holland's keyboards and partially due to the dry British wit of Difford, whose best work here reveals him as a rival to Elvis Costello and Ian Dury. Chief among those is "Up the Junction," a marvelous short story chronicling a doomed relationship, but there's also the sly kinky jokes married to deft characterizations on "Slap and Tickle," the heartbroken tale of "Goodbye Girl," and the daft surrealism of "Cool for Cats." These are subtle, sophisticated songs that are balanced by a lot of direct, unsophisticated songs, as Difford picks up on the sexually charged vibe of John Cale and gets even kinkier, throwing out songs about masturbation and cross-dressing, occasionally dipping into how he's feeling slightly drunk. Tilbrook pairs these ribald tales to frenzied rock & roll, equal parts big hooks and rollicking rhythms, including a couple of showcases for Holland's boogie-woogie piano. It's all a bit scattered but in a purposeful way, as the impish wit lends the pub rockers a kinky kick while Tilbrook's tunefulness gives it all an identity. Cool for Cats winds up being wild and weird, angular and odd in a way only a new wave album from 1979 could possibly be, but this is a high watermark for its era with the best moments effortless transcending its time. AMG.

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Toots & The Maytals - From The Roots 1970

From the Roots was Toots & the Maytals' fourth album, released by Trojan following the group's signing to Island Records in 1973. The record was cobbled together from odds and ends of tracks recorded between 1969 and 1970 for Leslie Kong's Beverley's label, and while it doesn't contain any of the more famous Kong-produced cuts ("Pressure Drop," "Sweet and Dandy"), it still exhibits the Maytals' trademark Jamaican version of gospel fervor, led by lead singer Toots Hibbert's barn-burning vocal style. Arguably this album, along with its Kong-produced predecessor, 1970's Monkey Man, contains the best and most explosive tracks in the Maytals' discography, and compilations that reshuffle the two albums in different combinations are common in the record bins. AMG.

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