sábado, 27 de março de 2021

Beast - Beast 1969

Beast was a rock group of the late '60s from Denver led by singer David Raines. It charted briefly with a self-titled album in 1969. AMG.

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Circus - Circus 1969

Circus produced a tightly woven jazz-rock sound, sometimes resembling Jethro Tull or Caravan, while comparisons to early King Crimson can also be assessed. Without the help of keyboards, Circus applied saxophone and flute to their impassioned but melodic brand of progressive music, with Chris Burrows' drum work coming to the forefront in nearly all of their tracks. The original Transatlantic recordings from 1969 were released in 2000 by the Castle label, combining to create Circus' debut album. With Mel Collins on sax, Circus' eight tracks are wonderfully inventive, merging the band's uplifting musical spirit with their innovative laid-back sound. Collins' sax gives their interpretation of "Norwegian Wood" a "juicy" sound, to say the least, with enough musical accessories to make it novel. "Pleasures" has Mel Collins' dad playing alto flute (which has a unique sound all its own) mixed in with some dreamy sax parts into rhythms that are both busy and delicate. Ian Jelfs' vocals aren't that becoming, proven on "Father of My Daughter" as he teams up with Collins for the singing duties, but it's Chris Burrows' Indian tabla that steals that show here. Burrows' best example of his percussive talents comes alive on "St. Thomas," partnering his drums perfectly with the woodwinds, while his conga's give "Don't Make Promises" its jazz-to-rock sway. Bass man Kirk Riddle is absolutely bewildering on Charles Mingus' "11 B.S.," displaying the band's love for improvisation while putting the electric guitar to good experimental use. Circus made a few more albums following this one, but it's here that the well-traveled Collins truly shines, capturing this relatively unknown band in their freshest stage. AMG.

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Creation Of Sunlight - Creation Of Sunlight 1968

Creation of Sunlight's sole album is a second- or third-division piece of late-'60s southern California psychedelia, although it's not unenjoyable in places. Certainly it will recall the Strawberry Alarm Clock to many seasoned psychedelic listeners, as this too has a combination of thick organ and fuzz guitar, as well as material and vocal harmonies that are a rather lighter shade than the arrangements. It really helps that the lead singing is breezier and a bit higher than that of many similar groups. The background harmonies have a fullness that smacks not just of the Strawberry Alarm Clock, but of a few other bands of their time and place, like Clear Light and (at its poppiest) the Association; the material can also bring to mind some aspects of the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band. And then there's that part of "Second Thoughts" where it veers off from a fairly sunny harmony number and suddenly sounds like the organ player's trying to imitate Ray Manzarek...so no, it's not the most individual of albums, even among obscure cult psychedelic ones. But even in the absence of truly fine songs, it's considerably better than the normal such derivative record of its time and place, with a likable trippy-if-safe optimism that's too heavy to be sunshine pop, though too lightweight to qualify as serious underground boldness. AMG.

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Frank Zappa - Sheik Yerbouti 1979

In order to finance his artier excursions, which increasingly required more expensive technology, Frank Zappa recorded several collections of guitar- and song-oriented material in the late '70s and early '80s, which generally concentrated on the bawdy lyrical themes many fans had come to expect and enjoy in concert. Sheik Yerbouti (two LPs, one CD) was one of the first and most successful of these albums, garnering attention for such tracks as the Grammy-nominated disco satire "Dancin' Fool," the controversial "Jewish Princess," and the equally controversial "Bobby Brown Goes Down," a song about gay S&M that became a substantial hit in European clubs. While Zappa's attitude on the latter two tracks was even more politically incorrect than usual for him, it didn't stop the album from becoming his second-highest charting ever. Social satire, leering sexual preoccupations, and tight, melodic songs dominated the rest of the record as well, as Zappa stuck to what had been commercially successful for him in the past. The "dumb entertainment" (as Zappa liked to describe this style) on Sheik Yerbouti was some of his dumbest, for better or worse, and the music was undeniably good -- easily some of his best since Apostrophe, and certainly the most accessible. Even if it sometimes drifts a bit, fans of Zappa's '70s work will find Sheik Yerbouti on nearly an equal level with Apostrophe and Over-Nite Sensation, both in terms of humor and musical quality. AMG.

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domingo, 21 de março de 2021

Betty Wright - My First Time Around 1968

Betty Wright is known most for the Top Ten pop and soul hit "Clean Up Woman" (1971) and the Grammy-winning "Where Is the Love" (1975), two of the most memorable crossover hits of the '70s. That barely indicates the breadth and depth of the lifelong Miami native's six-decade career. One of only a few singers who could be called both a powerhouse and a songbird -- she excited crowds with archetypal church-reared grit and left them spellbound by her whistle register -- Wright was also a songwriter of rare candor and additionally produced and arranged material for herself and artists she dutifully supported. Wright's Grammy-nominated recordings remarkably span 40 years, from "Clean Up Woman" to "Surrender," the latter from her final album, Betty Wright: The Movie (2011). Her work behind the scenes continued up to her death (in 2020), heard on albums by the likes of Joss StoneLil Wayne, and DJ Khaled, three of the many figures who credited her as a mentor crucial to their musical growth and navigation of the music industry. 
Born Bessie Regina Norris in Miami, Betty Wright started singing with her siblings as a toddler with the gospel group Echoes of Joy. She moved to secular music, and at the age of 13, in 1967, released her first two singles, "Good Lovin'" and "Mr. Lucky," written respectively by Johnny Pearsall and the team of Clarence Reid (later known as Blowfly) and Willie ClarkeWright then settled in with the Alston label, where one of her brothers, Milton, would also record. She scored her first big single in 1968 with the wisdom-dispensing "Girls Can't Do What the Guys Do," another Reid/Clarke composition, which peaked on the Billboard R&B chart at number 15. Atco distributed the concurrent LP, My First Time Around. After another couple charting A-sides, WrightReid, and Clarke achieved their greatest success together in 1971 with "Clean Up Woman," a number two R&B hit that also reached number six on the pop chart. The song was nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female, and earned a gold disc from the RIAA. 
Wright's run with Alston lasted through the '70s. The seven albums the singer released during the decade were highlighted by 1973's Hard to Stop, 1975's Danger High Voltage, and 1978's Betty Wright Live. The last of this sequence was Wright's most successful commercial LP, peaking at number six on the R&B chart. On-stage, Wright took her storytelling to another level and drew from a catalog that at that point included almost 20 charting singles, including "Where Is the Love" -- written by WrightWillie ClarkeHarry Wayne "KC" Casey, and Richard Finch -- which had won a Grammy for Best Rhythm & Blues Song. The set's version of the intimate "Tonight Is the Night," written by Wright and Clarke, became her tenth single to dent the Top 20 of the R&B chart. By the end of the '70s, Wright's collaborative work took off with a featured role on Peter Brown's "Dance with Me," and she co-wrote and produced "All This Love That I'm Givin'" for Gwen McCrae, who she had discovered (along with George McCrae) the previous decade. Although she wasn't as prominent as a lead artist in the '80s and '90s, Wright placed another dozen singles on the R&B chart during this time. Among these were the 1981 Stevie Wonder collaboration "What Are You Going to Do with It" and the 1988 hit "No Pain, No Gain," her last Top 20 R&B entry. Her first two albums during this period were released through Epic, after which she set up her own label, Ms. B, her solo outlet on an almost exclusive basis into the early 2000s, and initiated a long-term creative partnership with songwriter, bassist, and musical director Angelo Morris. Just as notably, Wright's classics and deep cuts alike were sampled many times over, most prominently for Candyman's "Knockin' Boots" and Color Me Badd's "I Wanna Sex You Up." Wright also filled a number of supporting roles on dozens of albums spanning R&B, jazz, rock, Latin and French pop, and reggae. Steady activity for Wright continued in the 2000s with the solo LP Fit for a King and connections made with Erykah BaduJoss Stone, and Trick Daddy, among many others. Her profile increased again in the latter half of the decade as the Diddy-appointed vocal coach for Danity Kane, as documented on the reality series Making the Band, and featured appearances on Angie Stone's "Baby" and Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III, both Grammy-nominated recordings. These were followed by Grammy nominations for "Go!" (a frank ballad about domestic abuse) and "Surrender," two songs Wright included on her last studio statement, 2011's Betty Wright: The Movie, on which she was assisted by the Roots. Before she died from cancer in 2020, she clocked studio time with fellow veterans and hopeful newcomers alike, from the O'Jays to Elise LeGrow, and appeared on number one albums by Rick RossDJ Khaled, and Lil Wayne. AMG. 

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Fifth Flight - Into Smoke Tree Village 1970

In the mid sixties, five football players from a local high school got together to Jam. The sounds blended and recorded an album for the Century label which was a late 60's early 70's Californian custom record label that pressed tens of thousands of small-run records for schools, church groups and obscure local bands. This was one of those delightful garage/psych jewels that occasionally cropped up on the label. 

With its rustic mill cover this a a garage psych album consisting mostly of covers, delivered with lashings of fuzz guitar and heavy, spooky organ. The stand-out track surely is the jaw droppingly awesome cover of Neil Young's "Sugar mountain". What you are hearing on this album are moods, transitions and feelings of the Fifth Flight.

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Geordie - Don't Be Fooled By The Name 1974

Geordie's second album, 1974's Don't Be Fooled by the Name, was a bit of a letdown after their debut, which merged the swagger of hard rock with the tuneful bombast of blue-collar glam acts typified by Slade. In some respects, Don't Be Fooled suggests Geordie were aiming for something a bit more mature and adventurous than they achieved on their debut, and they didn't entirely fail -- they reveal a tough, bluesy side on their cover of "House of the Rising Sun," a number that suits Brian Johnson's industrial-strength pipes, and the "St. James Infirmary" lift in opening cut "Goin' Down" leans toward the same direction. "Mercenary Man" boasts an undercurrent of sociopolitical commentary that wasn't normally the band's stock in trade, and "Ten Feet Tall"'s dynamics and guitar work (the latter courtesy of group leader Vic Malcolm) suggests Geordie had been studying their early Led Zeppelin albums. But even though this is a smarter and more ambitious album than the group's debut, Don't Be Fooled by the Name isn't necessarily better; the songs don't often give Johnson the chance to reveal the full power of his voice, the production (by Ellis Elias and Roberto Danova) is often too slick and gimmicky to make the most of the band's energy, and overall this just doesn't rock with the same passion as Geordie's first record. The best moments on Don't Be Fooled are impressive, and there are too many good things here for the album to fall into the "Sophomore Slump" file, but the truth is the band made a better record before, and would make better records again. AMG.

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Flora Purim - Everyday Everynight 1978

On this project, singer Flora Purim is backed by a large string orchestra and a countless number of top studio and jazz players, playing arrangements by Michel Colombier. Although some of the musicians are quite notable (including Michael BreckerRandy BreckerDavid SanbornOscar NevesJaco Pastorius and even Herbie Hancock), the overall music is generally forgettable. Most of the playing sounds planned in advance, and not much spontaneity occurs, certainly not from the London Symphony Orchestra. Purim's voice is fine, but none of the 11 songs (eight by Colombier) were destined to catch on. AMG.

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Hudson-Ford - Worlds Collide 1975

Though best known for their membership in The Strawbs, the rhythm section of John Ford (bass) and Richard Husdon (drums) worked together both before and after their '70 - '73 stint with the folk-prog band. Previously with Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera, and then The Velvet Opera, the duo moved on from the songwriting disputes of The Strawbs to form Hudson Ford in 1975. The two are well matched: in The StrawbsHudson would play low in the mix, often leaving the kit for entire songs to sing or play sitar, while Ford danced into the gap by playing a strongly precussive style of bass guitar. Their sound for Hudson Ford, though, ranged from McCartney-esque soft rock to glam, with a occasional nod to their electric folk past. Their roles broadened as well, with Hudson leaving the drums to others in order to focus on singing and lead guitar, and Ford expanding his vocal and acoustic guitar duties. The debut album "Nickolodeon" was bolstered by by the presence of Rick Wakeman and other studio sharpshooters, and the band scored a hit in the U.K. with the single "Pick Up the Pieces." Each successive album saw a dampening of their impact, though, and the two called it a day in 1977. Soon afterwards, though, the formed two more bands together: The Monks, and High Society. AMG.

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Ednardo - Do Boi Só Se Perde O Berro 1976

Ednardo is part of the group (along with Fagner, Alceu Valença, Belchior, and Geraldo Azevedo) which translated the music of the seminal creators Luiz Gonzaga and Jackson do Pandeiro to the mainstream Brazilian pop. He recorded 12 albums, some of which were also released in Argentina, Uruguay, Israel, Portugal, and Spain. He also wrote cinema and TV soundtracks. His biggest hit was "Pavão Mysterioso," based in the folkloric cordel literature, included in the surrealistic Globo Network soap opera Saramandaia (1976).

Ednardo began his piano studies at ten, and at 23, self-taught, he began a violão (acoustic guitar) apprenticeship. In 1969, he joined the group known as Pessoal do Ceará, which also had Rodger e Teti, with whom he recorded a LP in 1973, Meu Corpo, Minha Embalagem, Todo Gasto Na Viagem. In 1972, he moved to the southeast and had his "Beira-Mar" released as a single by Eliana Pittman for Odeon. O Romance do Pavão Mysterioso followed in 1974. In January 1975, he participated in the Festival Abertura with the song "Vaila" (with Brandão). His other LPs/CDs are Berro (1976), O Azul E O Encarnado (1977), Cauim (1978), Ednardo (1979), Imã (1980), Terra de Luz (1982), Ednardo (1983), Libertree (1985), and Rubi (1991). AMG.

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Daevid Allen - N'Existe Pas! 1974

Daevid Allen was one of the founders of the British progressive rock band the Soft Machine in 1966. After recording just one album with the group, he became the founder/leader of Gong, which he left in 1973 to begin a solo career (though his first solo album, Banana Moon, was released in 1971 while he was still in the group). Allen explored his quirky, folky take on rock throughout the '70s and '80s on albums like 1976's Good Morning and 1983's Alien in New York. His solo work also included collaborations with underground rock impresario Kramer like 1993's Who's Afraid? and 1996's Hit Men, which was released on Kramer's Shimmy Disc label. Allen returned in 1999 with Money Doesn't Make It, followed a year later by Stroking the Tail of the BirdNectans Glen also followed in 2000. In 2003 Allen formed a new version of Gong with members of the Japanese collective known as Acid Mothers Temple, as well as playing and releasing material with his California-based band University of Errors. He continued to release numerous live sets and one-off collaborations in limited editions on various independent labels under his own and various group names. A best-of, Man From Gong, which only scratched the surface of his lengthy discography, appeared from Snapper Music in 2006. After a battle with cancer, Allen died in Australia in March 2015 at the age of 77. AMG.

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Back Door - 8th Street Nites 1973

More bass-driven brilliance, produced by the late Felix Pappalardi, former producer of Cream. Though the album is less cohesive than their debut, it soars to even greater heights with its stand-out covers of Leadbelly and Robert Johnson. These blues numbers are largely played as unaccompanied bass and vocal pieces. There's something to this unadorned combination -- the inherent grittiness of the bass matched against his voice hearkens back to the raw power of Delta blues, where it's just a guy and his crappy old guitar. On "32-20 Blues," Hodgkinson sings an old Robert Johnson number while throttling away at the bass; on the opening "Laying Track," the whole band takes on Leadbelly in a sort of restrained funkiness, with the constant thrashing of a tambourine underlining the rhythm section's punches on the downbeat. AMG.

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terça-feira, 16 de março de 2021

Ray Fenwick - Keep America Beautiful, Get A Haircut 1971

Fenwick's only solo album, recorded with Elton John's rhythm section (Dee Murray on bass and Nigel Olsson on drums), touches on a lot of facets of British rock circa 1970 -- Traffic-like folk-rock, country-rock, Paul McCartney-ish melodic bits, and rumbling, pedestrian boogie -- without really getting anywhere. Much of the material was inspired by his travels in the U.S., and there are some quasi-suites supposed to reflect journeying through the American landscape, but the execution is unremarkable. The 1997 CD reissue adds five bonus tracks. AMG.

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Children Of The Mushroom - Children Of The Mushroom 1968

Children Of The Mushroom formed in Thousand Oaks, California, which is a small town near Los Angeles. First, they were called The Captives, and around the summer of love they became Children Of The Mushroom.

The band consisted of Jerry McMillen (guitar, vocals, flute), Bob Holland (organ), Al Pisciotta (bass), Dennis Christensen (drums), and Paul Gabrinetti (guitar, vocals). The band was inspired by The Doors, Iron Butterfly, and similar groups, which appeared around the L.A. area. In 1968 the Soho label out of Hollywood released their incredible single.

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Daryl Hall & John Oates - Beauty on a Back Street 1977

Beauty on a Back Street isn't quite as accomplished as its two predecessors, yet it is more ambitious and diverse, as Hall & Oates begin to add some arena-rock conventions to their sound, particularly distorted guitars and anthemic choruses. On War Babies they had tried a similar attack, but on Beauty on a Back Street, the duo's songwriting was stronger, which meant that the instrumental approach didn't overwhelm the actual songs. AMG.

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Ian Hunter - All American Alien Boy 1976

After the relative success of his debut, it would have been very easy for Ian Hunter to continue in the glam-inspired vein that made that album so successful. Instead, he twisted his sound in a jazz direction for All American Alien Boy, a partially successful attempt to open up his sound from its traditional rock & roll routes. Since Hunter couldn't utilize the producing and arranging skills of longtime cohort Mick Ronson because of a dispute with Ronson's manager, Hunter took the reins himself and invited a diverse cast of session musicians that included everyone from journeyman drummer Aynsley Dunbar to jazz bass wizard Jaco Pastorius. The resulting album mixture of conventional Mott the Hoople-style rock and sonic experiments never truly gels, but does contain some fine tracks. The experiments are hit and miss: the title track is a funky, sax-flavored exploration of Hunter's adjustment to life in America that works nicely, but the interesting lyrics of "Apathy 83" get buried in an uncharacteristically bland soft rock arrangement. The songs that work best are the more traditional-sounding numbers: "Irene Wilde" is a delicately crafted autobiographical ballad about the rejection that made Hunter decide to "be somebody, someday," and "God - Take 1" is a stirring, Dylan-styled rocker featuring witty lyrics that illustrate a conversation with a weary and down-to-earth version of God. However, the true gem of the album is "You Nearly Did Me In," an elegant and emotional ballad about the emptiness that follows a romantic breakup. It also notable for the stirring backing vocals from guest stars Queen on its chorus. In the end, All-American Alien Boy lacks the consistency to fully succeed as an album but still offers enough stellar moments to make it worthwhile for Ian Hunter's fans. AMG.

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