quarta-feira, 28 de abril de 2021

Poco - From The Inside 1971

From the Inside is Poco's most unusual record, and one the band -- especially founder Richie Furay, whose songs were sort of pushed into the background -- finally didn't like all that much. But it was a very good one anyway, produced in Memphis by guitar legend Steve Cropper and featuring the group generating a leaner, more stripped-down, somewhat bluesier sound. The harmonies are less radiant and the guitars more subdued, and the spirits also a little more low-key than usual. But the sound they get is still appealing, the singing more reflective and a little bit closer to R&B than to the post-Byrds country-rock for which they were known -- the songs are pretty, and in listening terms George Grantham's drums and Timothy B. Schmit's bass are nice and upfront in the mix, and the guitars have a really close presence, even if they are turned down. Paul Cotton's "Bad Weather" was the best-reviewed song, but other highlights were "You Are the One," "Hoe Down," "Railroad Days" (maybe their hardest rocker), and "Ol' Forgiver." AMG.

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Planet Earth Rock'n'Roll Orchestra - The PERRO Sessions 1971

The Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra is a nickname given to artists who recorded together in the early 1970s. They were predominantly members of Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and Crosby, Stills and Nash. Their first album together was Blows Against the Empire, when they were known as Jefferson Starship.

Starship founder Paul Kantner then came up with the term "Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra", a label of reference to the San Francisco musicians that played on David Crosby's If I Could Only Remember My Name. During the sessions for Crosby's album at Wally Heider Studios, the musicians of each band (who were working in other rooms) dropped into the sessions and improvised hours of music, and everything was recorded. Some of the basic tracks played during these recorded sessions in 1971 were used for Crosby's album. Engineer Stephen Barncard and David Crosby made rough mixes of some of the session tapes, and in 1991 Graham Nash sent a DAT tape to Paul Kantner which later showed up in the tape trading markets as a 'pristine' digital copy. Barncard came up with the PERRO abbreviation when he needed to identify the 2 inch wide tapes on sides, standing vertically.

The "PERRO Chorus" is credited on Crosby's song, "What Are Their Names") and several other solo albums after Crosby's (see discography). The name Jefferson Starship was later used for Paul Kantner and Grace Slick's new band formed in 1974. Paul Kantner recorded a solo album in 1983 as a tribute to this time, Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra.

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The Siegel-Schwall Band - 953 West 1973

Paul Butterfield and Elvin Bishop were not the only white dudes who formed a blues band in Chicago in the early '60s. Corky Siegel and Jim Schwall formed the Siegel-Schwall Band in the mid-'60s in Chicago and worked as a duo playing blues clubs like Pepper's Lounge, where they were the house band. All of the great blues players would sit in, all the time. Siegel played harp and electric Wurlitzer piano, with an abbreviated drum set stashed under the piano; Jim Schwall played guitar and mandolin. Both sang. Siegel was born in Chicago on October 24, 1943; Schwall was born on November 11, 1942, also in Chicago. Siegel met Schwall in 1964 when they were both music students at Roosevelt University; Schwall studying guitar, Siegel studying classical saxophone and playing in the University Jazz Big Band. Siegel first became interested in the blues that same year. Schwall's background ran more to country and bluegrass. The Siegel-Schwall Band approach to music (and blues) was lighter than groups like Butterfield or Musselwhite, representing somewhat more of a fusion of blues and more country-oriented material. They seldom played at high volume, stressing group cooperation and sharing the solo spotlight. When the Butterfield band left their in gig at Big Johns on Chicago's North Side, it was the Siegel-Schwall Band that took their place. Signed by Vanguard scout Sam Charters in 1965, they released their first album in 1966, the first of five they would do with that label. Bass player Jack Dawson, formerly of the Prime Movers Blues Band joined the band in 1967.

In 1969 the band toured playing the Fillmore West, blues/folk festivals, and many club dates, as one of several white blues bands that introduced the blues genre to millions of Americans during that era. They were, however, the first blues band to play with a full orchestra, performing "Three Pieces for Blues Band and Symphony Orchestra" in 1968 with the San Francisco Orchestra. The band later signed with RCA (Wooden Nickel) and produced five albums in the next several years. They broke up in 1974. In 1987, the band re-formed and produced a live album on Alligator, The Siegel-Schwall Reunion ConcertJim Schwall is a university professor of music and lives in Madison, Wisconsin. Corky Siegel has been involved in many projects over the years that fuse classical music with blues, including his current group, Chamber Blues, a string quartet with a percussionist (tabla), and Siegel on piano and harmonica. And on rare occasions, the old band still gets together and performs. AMG.

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Sweet Smoke - Just A Poke 1970

A solid debut from this Brooklyn prog-psyche group who relocated to Germany and recorded three albums in Germany in the '70s. Features the amazing 16-minute long jam Silly Sally where a psyched-out blues-rock jam takes off into an epic phased drums odyssey.


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terça-feira, 20 de abril de 2021

Fifty Foot Hose - Ingredients 1967

These seven songs were recorded prior to the Caldron album, and are rawer in form and execution than the Caldron material. Four of them show up as bonus tracks on Big Beat's CD reissue of Caldron -- including the best number, the jazzy "Fly Free" -- but three do not. Of those three cuts, "Good Morning Girl" and "Low Down Mostly" are much more in the normal blues-rock-influenced San Francisco 1967 psychedelic vein than most Fifty Foot Hose material, while "War" is a more typical electronic free-for-all. It's of peripheral importance unless you're a psychedelic completist. Don't think you're done collecting Fifty Foot Hose if you have the Caldron LP and Ingredients, though, since the expanded Big Beat reissue of Caldron has some additional demos that are not on either of those releases. AMG.

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Jefferson Airplane - Crown of Creation 1968

Crown of Creation appeared ten months after their last album, After Bathing at Baxter's, and it doesn't take the same kind of leap forward that Baxter's did from Surrealistic Pillow. Indeed, in many ways, Crown of Creation is a more conservative album stylistically, opening with "Lather," a Grace Slick original that was one of the group's very last forays (and certainly their last prominent one) into a folk idiom. Much of what follows is a lot more based in electric rock, as well as steeped in elements of science fiction (specifically author John Wyndham's book The Chrysalids) in several places, but Crown of Creation was still deliberately more accessible musically than its predecessor, even as the playing became more bold and daring within more traditional song structures. Jack Casady by this time had developed one of the most prominent and distinctive bass sounds in American rock, as identifiable (if not quite as bracing) as John Entwistle's was with the Who, as demonstrated on "In Time," "Star Track," "Share a Little Joke," "If You Feel" (where he's practically a second lead instrument), and the title song, and Jorma Kaukonen's slashing, angular guitar attack was continually surprising as his snaking lead guitar parts wended their way through "Star Track" and "Share a Little Joke." The album also reflected the shifting landscape of West Coast music with its inclusion of "Triad," a David Crosby song that Crosby's own group, the Byrds, had refused to release -- its presence (the only extant version of the song for a number of years) was a forerunner of the sound that would later be heard on Crosby's own debut solo album, If I Could Only Remember My Name (on which SlickPaul Kantner, and Casady would appear). The overall album captured the group's rapidly evolving, very heavy live sound within the confines of some fairly traditional song structures, and left ample room for Slick and Marty Balin to express themselves vocally, with Balin turning in one of his most heartfelt and moving performances on "If You Feel." "Ice Cream Phoenix" pulses with energy and "Greasy Heart" became a concert standard for the group -- the studio original of the latter is notable for Slick's most powerful vocal performance since "Somebody to Love." And the album's big finish, "The House at Pooneil Corners," seemed to fire on all cylinders, their amps cranked up to ten (maybe 11 for Casady), and BalinSlick, and Kantner stretching out on the disjointed yet oddly compelling tune and lyrics. It didn't work 100 percent of the time, but it made for a shattering finish to the album. AMG.

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Secos & Molhados - Secos & Molhados 1973

Secos & Molhados is an innovative Brazilian band formed in 1971 and best known for their first two studio albums that helped launch singer Ney Matogrosso's career. The other two members were João Ricardo, founder and main songwriter of the group, and Gerson Conrad. 

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T-Bone Walker, Joe Turner, Otis Spann - Super Black Blues 1969

Bob Thiele, the former head of blues at ABC Records who founded the Flying Dutchman imprint BluesTime in the late '60s, designed the 1969 album Super Black Blues as a way to showcase the label's three recently signed blues legends, T-Bone WalkerJoe Turner, and Otis Spann. That this LP happened to follow the format of Blue Horizon's recent hit Blues Jam in Chicago -- a record that featured plenty of Chicago stalwarts, including Spann, backed by Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac -- is not incidental. Super Black Blues was a way to bring these '40s stars to the attention of '60s audiences and perhaps entice a couple of old fans to listen as well. The record was just four tracks, with the long jams "Paris Blues" and "Blues Jam" anchoring the A and B sides and balanced by "Here I Am Broken Hearted" and "Jot's Blues." The emphasis on improvisation and long grooves certainly made Super Black Blues different than the original '40s and '50s sides by WalkerTurner, and Spann -- those were restricted by technology and taste -- and it's fun to hear them stretch out with George "Harmonica" SmithArthur WrightErnie WattsRon Brown, and Paul Humphrey in tow. If the record isn't necessarily energetic and sometimes flirts with formlessness, chalk that up to the aftermath of psychedelia, where jams were prized over energy. This does mean Super Black Blues is a bit dated and a bit of an anomaly in the catalogs of WalkerSpann, and Turner, but time has turned this into an amiable detour: not the first record to hear by any of these three by any means, but it's fun to hear the giants find common ground. AMG.

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Joe Cuba - Bustin' Out 1972

Latin, Latin soul, vibes Bustin' Out shows the influence of Harlem River Drive but lacks Eddie Palmieri's vision or consistency. Do You Feel It has a wonderful spoken intro and relocates the Harlem River Drive experience to Cuba's childhood barrio. But it is more mood than music, which is a shame considering the Sextet's ability and history with Latin soul. "Pud-Da-Din" is X-rated for airplay but probably would raise no hackles if broadcast now. The surprise track is "Ooh! Ah," which is closest to the best, most fun Joe Cuba Sextet material of previous albums. The rest range from instrumental jams to less successful vocal tracks. Of course, any Joe Cuba album is worth finding, and Do You Feel It is a classic, hip groove of the era's Chicano-funk variety. AMG.

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Guess Who - American Woman 1970

The Guess Who's most successful LP, reaching number nine in America (and charting for more than a year), has held up well and was as close to a defining album-length statement as the original group ever made. It's easy to forget that until "American Woman," the Guess Who's hits had been confined to softer, ballad-style numbers -- that song (which originated as a spontaneous on-stage jam) highlighted by Randy Bachman's highly articulated fuzz-tone guitar, a relentless beat, and Burton Cummings moving into Robert Plant territory on the lead vocal, transformed their image. As an album opener, it was a natural, but the slow acoustic blues intro by Bachman heralded a brace of surprises in store for the listener. The presence of the melodic but highly electric hit version of "No Time" (which the band had cut earlier in a more ragged rendition) made the first ten minutes a hard rock one-two punch, but the group then veers into progressive rock territory with "Talisman." Side two was where the original album was weakest, though it started well enough with "969 (The Oldest Man)." "When Friends Fall Out," a remake of an early Canadian release by the group, attempted a heavy sound that just isn't sustainable, and "8:15" was a similar space filler, but "Proper Stranger" falls into good hard rock groove. In August of 2000, Buddha Records issued a remastered version of this album with a bonus track from a subsequent session, "Got to Find Another Way." Ironically, American Woman was the final testament of the original Guess Who -- guitarist/singer Randy Bachman quit soon after the tour behind this album; the group did endure and even thrive (as did Bachman), but American Woman represented something of an ending as well as a triumph. AMG.

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Gentle Giant - Gentle Giant 1970

 

The astonishingly daring debut album, not as focused or overpowering as King Crimson's first but still crashing down barriers and steamrolling expectations. The mix of medieval harmonies and electric rock got stronger on subsequent albums, but the music here is still pretty jarring. Kerry Minnear was probably the only prog-rock keyboard player of the era who allowed his synthesizers to sound like themselves and not mimic orchestras; Gary Green's guitars are alternately loud and brittle or soft and lyrical, and always surprising; and the presence of saxes and trumpets (courtesy of Phil Shulman) was unusual in any rock band of the era -- all of which explains how Gentle Giant managed to attract a cult following but hadn't a prayer of moving up from that level of recognition. "Funny Ways" was the softest prog-rock song this side of Crimson's "I Talk to the Wind," but a lot of the rest is pretty intense in volume and tempo changes. "Nothing at All" by itself is worth the price of purchase. AMG.

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quarta-feira, 14 de abril de 2021

Juicy Lucy - Get A Whiff A This 1971

Juicy Lucy's third album in 18 months, and the third to draw as much attention for its artwork as its contents, would prove to be the band's last. Although a fourth Juicy Lucy album would appear in 1972, not a single founding member was left on board. Get a Whiff of This itself was very much the son of its predecessor, still locked firmly into a country groove (the twanging "Mr. A. Jones," the fast-pickin' "Jessica"), but looking out toward more unexpected pastures. The funky "Big Lil." and the blistering antiwar anthem "Midnight Sun" were both strong inclusions, while a take on the Allmans' "Midnight Rider" remains one of that particular anthem's most dynamic revisions. Despite at least half an album's worth of highlights, however, still there was nothing that really leaped out and grabbed the listener -- and nothing that could ever displace the band's debut from its sacred spot on the turntable, a fate that Glenn Campbell admitted he predicted when he conjured up that most distinctive title. It was his way of saying "the whole thing stinks." AMG.
 

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Sweathog - Sweathog 1971

Sweathog was a San Francisco-based quartet whose sound was fairly far removed from the music normally associated with that city. They were a powerful ensemble instrumentally, keyboardist/singer Lenny Lee (aka Lenny Lee Goldsmith), guitarist/singer Bob Jones, bassist/singer Dave Johnson, and drummer Frosty (aka Barry Smith, aka Bartholomew Smith) all top players in their field -- Frosty had played with Lee Michaels on his third and fourth albums, while Jones had played on Harvey Mandel's Cristo Redentor and Righteous in the late '60s, and Goldsmith was an ex-member of the Five Americans. They were not bad as singers, either, with Goldsmith handling the leads. Their music was a mix of Southern-style soul, early-'70s funk, and blues, all wrapped around a virtuoso rock sound. The group was signed to Columbia Records at the time of that label's fixation on West Coast acts, under Clive Davis's regime -- they were always looking for another Big Brother & the Holding Company, or something to take the place of that act on their roster. The group's self-titled debut album passed mostly without a musical trace, without an AM radio hit to drive sales, though its cover image of bare buttocks was censored in various countries. In 1972, they seemed to hit paydirt with their single "Hallelujah," a driving piece of explosive Southern-fried rock & roll with a soul edge that was a killer showcase for all four players (especially Frosty). It got to number 33 on the national charts, but that relatively modest performance doesn't indicate how popular it was on the radio, where it got airplay closer to that of a Top 20 hit. The song got the album (also titled Hallelujah) into stores, at least, but it never sold in huge numbers, despite a respectable promotion effort and a lot of exposure for the band, touring behind Black Sabbath, among other top acts of the period. They broke up in 1973, and Goldsmith later played on Martha Reeves' first post-Motown solo album before joining Stoneground. AMG.

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John Mayall´s Bluesbreakers - Crusade 1967

The final album of an (unintentional) trilogy, Crusade is most notable for the appearance of a very young, pre-Rolling Stones Mick Taylor on lead guitar. Taylor's performance is indeed the highlight, just as Eric Clapton and Peter Green's playing was on the previous album. The centerpiece of the album is a beautiful instrumental by Taylor titled "Snowy Wood," which, while wholly original, seems to combine both Green and Clapton's influence with great style and sensibility. The rest of the record, while very enjoyable, is standard blues-rock fare of the day, but somewhat behind the then-progressive flavor of 1967. Mayall, while being one of the great bandleaders of London, simply wasn't really the frontman that the group needed so desperately, especially then. Nevertheless, Crusade is important listening for Mick Taylor aficionados. AMG.

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Max Romeo & The Upsetters - War Ina Babylon 1976

Like the epochal Police & Thieves by Junior Murvin, which also originated at Lee "Scratch" Perry's Black Ark Studio and thus shares with this album Perry's trademark dark, swampy ambience, War ina Babylon is something of a mountain on the reggae landscape. But what makes it so remarkable is not just the consistently high quality of the music -- indeed, by 1976 one had come to expect nothing but the finest and heaviest grooves from Perry and his studio band, the Upsetters -- rather, it's the fact that Max Romeo had proved to be such a convincing singer of cultural (or "conscious") reggae after several years of raking it in as a purveyor of the most abject slackness. (His "Wet Dream" had been a huge hit in England several years earlier, and had been followed by such other delicacies as "Wine Her Goosie" and "Pussy Watch Man.") But there's no denying the authority of his admonishing voice here, and the title track (which describes the violent mood during Jamaica's 1972 general election) has remained a standard for decades. Other highlights include "One Step Forward" and "Smile Out a Style." Essential to any reggae collection. AMG.
 

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Sweet Smoke - From Darkness To Light 1973

The second album of the unique psychedelic jazz-rock band Sweet Smoke that celebrates its 40th anniversary surely is one of those albums which left deep and influence to rock music, but like many somehow was left behind. Although the band`s origins are from Brooklyn in New York where they have been formed in 1967, their true inspiring and creating territory was Germany. To be precise – the social community to where they moved from the USA at the end of the sixties. Like many hippy free-living communities that functioned in America and Europe, it gave many vibrations for creating a lot of good free-spirit music.  After their masterpiece debut album “Just a Poke” from 1970 (that ingeniously consisted of only two twenty-minute songs with long and technically sophisticated instrumental parts, that individually were placed on each side of the vinyl LP), they went further in

experimenting with the second. This six-song story is practically the aftermath of their first album. Five-piece band enlarged to seven members. The debut formation, that consisted of Marvin Kaminovitz (lead guitar and vocals), Andy Dershin (bass guitar), Michael Paris (tenor saxophone, alto recorder, vocals, percussion), Jay Dorfman (percussion and drums) and Steve Rosenstein (guitar and vocals) added Rochus Kuhn (violin, cello) and Jeffrey Dershin (piano, percussion, vocals) in order spread the musical possibilities. “From Darkness to Light” is more acoustic and diversified than the first one. Each of the six songs has its own stories, that create an, practically, tangible atmosphere.

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Jimi Hendrix - Electric Ladyland 1968

Jimi Hendrix's third and final album with the original Experience found him taking his funk and psychedelic sounds to the absolute limit. The result was not only one of the best rock albums of the era, but also Hendrix's original musical vision at its absolute apex. When revisionist rock critics refer to him as the maker of a generation's mightiest dope music, this is the album they're referring to. But Electric Ladyland is so much more than just background music for chemical intake. Kudos to engineer Eddie Kramer (who supervised the remastering of the original two-track stereo masters for this 1997 reissue on MCA) for taking Hendrix's visions of a soundscape behind his music and giving it all context, experimenting with odd mic techniques, echo, backward tape, flanging, and chorusing, all new techniques at the time, at least the way they're used here. What Hendrix sonically achieved on this record expanded the concept of what could be gotten out of a modern recording studio in much the same manner as Phil Spector had done a decade before with his Wall of Sound. As an album this influential (and as far as influencing a generation of players and beyond, this was his ultimate statement for many), the highlights speak for themselves: "Crosstown Traffic," his reinterpretation of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower," "Burning of the Midnight Lamp," the spacy "1983...(A Merman I Should Turn to Be)," and "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)," a landmark in Hendrix's playing. With this double set (now on one compact disc), Hendrix once again pushed the concept album to new horizons. AMG.

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Tim Buckley - Tim Buckley 1966

Buckley's 1966 debut was the most straightforward and folk-rock-oriented of his albums. The material has a lyrical and melodic sophistication that was astounding for a 19-year-old. The pretty, almost precious songs are complemented by appropriately baroque, psychedelic-tinged production. If there was a record that exemplified the '60s Elektra folk-rock sound, this may have been it, featuring production by Elektra owner Jac Holzman and Doors producer Paul RothchildLove and Doors engineer Bruce Botnick, and string arrangements by Jack Nitzsche. That's not to diminish the contributions of the band, which included his longtime lead guitarist Lee Underwood and Van Dyke Parks on keyboards. Buckley was still firmly in the singer-songwriter camp on this album, showing only brief flashes of the experimental vocal flights, angst-ridden lyrics, and soul influences that would characterize much of his later work. It's not his most adventurous outing, but it's one of his most accessible, and retains a fragile beauty. AMG.

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