terça-feira, 31 de agosto de 2021

Potliquor - Louisiana Rock and Roll 1972

Potliquor (sometimes erroneously referred to as Pot Liquor) was a 1970s rock group from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The band was formed by George Ratzlaff and Guy Schaeffer after the breakup of a successful cover band named the Basement Wall. Like several other bands of the American South, their musical style was a synthesis of influences such as Little Richard, Ray Charles, Jimmy Reed, and more, making Potliquor a part of the nascent Southern rock genre. Potliquor released four albums plus a compilation album but had only one hit single written and sung by George Ratzlaff.

Potliquor was a top regional touring band during the early 1970s, and although they made several national tours with prominent rock groups of the time, they never became the headliner of their own tour but did headline specific shows with some surprising opening acts, like ZZ Top, Aerosmith, and Billy Joel. The group suffered through internal conflicts after the death of their manager in 1973, and after several personnel changes, they were never able to recover the momentum built up through 1970–1973 to reach national prominence like some of the big-name bands and individuals they performed with: the Allman Brothers, Billy Joel, REO Speedwagon, Ray Charles, Lou Rawls, Aerosmith, Cactus, ZZ Top, B.B. King, Faces, and many more. Potliquor held the dubious distinction of being the only band booked to play the Fillmore West just before it closed forever. The promotional posters still exist.

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Jeremy Steig - Wayfaring Stranger 1970

Wayfaring Stranger is Jeremy Steig's one and only date for Blue Note Records as a leader. Originally issued in 1970, it was produced by Sonny LesterSteig had been recording as a leader for a number of labels since 1963, including Columbia, Verve (on What’s New, a co-lead date with Bill Evans), and Lester’s Solid State. The lineup here includes longtime cohort and bassist Eddie Gomez, drummer Don Alias, and guitarist Sam BrownSteig wrote or co-wrote five of the six tunes here. The title track is an expansive interpretation on John Jacob Niles' arrangement of the traditional folk tune. On it, Gomez lays out a strolling vamp, Steig goes to work building on the melody, and Brown comps and fills behind him. Alias colors the backdrop with shimmering brushwork and snare breaks. About three minutes in, Steig and Gomez both begin to take chances and funk up the melody without ever leaving it completely behind, but the group improvisation is at a premium, they move East, West, and even toward Latin inside it. Opener “In the Beginning" commences with a far-flung flute solo on which Steig displays brilliant flourishes with breath and tongue acrobatics. When the band comes it, it’s Gomez laying down proto-jazz funk on the upright and Alias breaking and popping in counter rhythm. “Mint Tea” weds together rock dynamics, soul-jazz, and hard bop vamps. The set’s final two tracks, “All Is One” and “Space,” sound like they belong on a different album, given that they are on-the-spot improvs that focus on tonal and textural investigations that sit firmly in the vanguard with deliberate use of silences as a mode to carry on very inventive conversations. They are anything but difficult to listen to, however; in fact, they’re both gorgeous and reflect how wide-ranging Steig’s (and by turn Gomez’s) vision was for the time. AMG.

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quinta-feira, 26 de agosto de 2021

Grateful Dead - Live/Dead 1969

The Grateful Dead's fourth title was likewise their first extended concert recording. Spread over two LPs, Live/Dead (1969) finally was able to relay the intrinsic sonic magnificence of a Dead show in real-time. Additionally, it unleashed several key entries into their repertoire, including the sidelong epic and Deadhead anthem"Dark Star" as well as wailing and otherwise electrified acidic covers of the Rev. Gary Davis blues standard "Death Don't Have No Mercy" and the R&B rave-up "(Turn on Your) Lovelight." Finally, the conundrum of how to bring a lengthy performance experience to the listener has been solved. The album's four sides provided the palette from which to replicate the natural ebb and flow of a typical Dead set circa early 1969. Tomes have been written about the profound impact of "Dark Star" on the Dead and their audience. It also became a cultural touchstone signifying that rock music was becoming increasingly experimental by casting aside the once-accepted demands of the short, self-contained pop song. This version was recorded on February 27, 1969, at the Fillmore West and is presented pretty much the way it went down at the show. The same is true of the seven remaining titles on Live/Dead. The rousing rendition of "St. Stephen" reinvents the Aoxomoxoa (1968) prototype with rip-roaring thunder and an extended ending which slams into an instrumental rhythmic excursion titled "The Eleven" after the jam's tricky time signature. The second LP began with a marathon cover of "(Turn on Your) Lovelight," which had significant success for both Bobby "Blue" Bland and Gene Chandler earlier in the decade. With Ron "Pigpen" McKernan at the throttle, the Dead barrel their way through the work, reproportioning and appointing it with fiery solos from Garcia and lead vocal raps courtesy of McKernan. "Death Don't Have No Mercy" is a languid noir interpretation of Rev. Gary Davis' distinct Piedmont blues. Garcia's fretwork smolders as his solos sear through the melody. Likewise notable is the criminally underrated keyboard work of Tom Constanten, whose airy counterpoint rises like a departing spirit from within the soul of the song. The final pairing of "Feedback" -- which is what is sounds like it might be -- with the "lowering down" funeral dirge "And We Bid You Goodnight" is true to the way that the band concluded a majority of their performances circa 1968-1969. They all join in on an a cappella derivative of Joseph Spence and the Pinder Family's traditional Bahamian distillation. Few recordings have ever represented the essence of an artist in performance as faithfully as Live/Dead. It has become an aural snapshot of this zenith in the Grateful Dead's 30-year evolution and as such is highly recommended for all manner of enthusiasts. The 2001 remastered edition that was included in the Golden Road (1965-1973) (2001) box set tacks on the 45 rpm studio version of "Dark Star" as well as a vintage radio advert for the album.

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Erasmo Carlos - Sonhos e Memorias 1941-1972 [1972]

Sonhos e Memórias: 1941-1972 is the third in Erasmo Carlos' classic trilogy from the early part of the decade that includes 1970's Erasmo Carlos & Os Tremendoes and 1971's Carlos, Erasmo... Unlike its predecessors, though, the singer/songwriter's hyperactive ambition here is of a more intimate variety. Its two halves sound like they originated on different albums, each reflecting one-half of its title ("Dreams and Memories" in Anglo). Carlos enlisted Jairo Pires (Tim Maia) as producer. The core of his studio band included pianist/organist José Roberto Bertrami, bassist Alex Malheiros, and drummer Ivan Conti -- the trio that became the jazz-funk fusion outfit Azymuth -- and guitarists Tavito and Luiz Claudio Ramos, among others. The "Sonhos" side opens with the unlikely but beautiful "Largo Da 2ª Feira," a Brazilian pop song with a decidedly Laurel Canyon take on country. "Mane Joao" melds Afro-Latin rhythms and jazzy soul. "Minha Gente" sounds like Meddle-era Pink Floyd backing Nick Drake on Five Leaves Leftwhile "Mundo Cão" closes the first half with slippery samba-flavored pop and affectionate glances at late doo wop and early Northern soul -- it's also more musically ambitious. On "Soriso Dela" Carlos, complete with Duane Eddy-esque guitar, haunting organ, a caporeira rhythm comprised of tom-toms and percussion, and a slow-walking circular bassline pays subtle homage to João Gilberto. "Sabado Morto"'s intro sounds like sun-kissed retro bossa, but its jazzy syncopation (one wonders if Michael Franks heard this album before recording 1976's The Art of Tea) eventually transforms itself into rocking, psychedelic soul. Capoeira chant informs the stacked harmonies on "Vida Antigua," answered by shimmering snares, breezy 12-string acoustic and hollow-body electric guitars, and a tenor saxophone break. (Think Stevie Wonder's Where I'm Coming From). "Meu Mar" offers pillowy psych-pop textures and incessant, chanting choruses. "E Proibido Fumar" is the hardest rocker here and ultimately travels into the psych stratosphere at its zenith. For Sonhos e Memórias: 1941-1972Carlos loosened his grip on the Tropicalia influence that framed his previous two records; he made room for new sources of inspiration. His experimentation with the lineage of Brazilian rhythms and harmonies, alongside influences from the emerging West Coast singer/songwriter scene, Harry Nilsson, abstract soul, folk, jazz, and rock, all formed part of MPB's next step during this era (its sibling recordings are Edu Lobo's 1971 date Cantiga de LongeCaetano Veloso's Transa, and Milton Nascimento's and Lo BorgesClube Da Esquina, both of which are also from 1972). This album was not a commercial success at the time, but has since become a classic, and deservedly so. AMG.

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Dr. K's Blues Band - Rock The Joint! 1968

One of the great unsung legends of the late-'60s British blues boom, Dr. K's Blues Band's eponymous debut album is a heavyweight mix of original material (penned, for the most part, by pianist Richard Kay -- the Dr. K of the title), and well-arranged standards. "Key to the Highway" and "Messin' With the Kid" both receive invigorating workouts, with the star of the show being guitarist Geoff Krivit, a tastefully imaginative player cut firmly in a John Mayall's Bluesbreakers-type vein. The majority of the cuts are surprisingly short. Just three top three minutes, including Krivit's own brooding "Walking" and Kay's "Long Distance Call"; for the most part, the Blues Band simply throw themselves at a song, say everything that needs to be said, and then move on. This emphasis on brevity does hamstring the album somewhat, although there are a few grand surprises -- "Rolty's Banjo Shuffle," for example, doesn't actually feature a banjo, while the distinctly psychedelic title "Strobe Lemming's Lament" emerges a boogie-down Dr. K piano showpiece. Even the number most frequently cited as a highlight of the album, "Crippled Clarence" (another pounding piano boogie) is just 120 seconds long. It does, however, serve as a powerful introduction to the album's true pièce de résistance, slide player Roger Rolt's "Pet Cream Man," an echoey, atmospheric 12-bar blues that is as distinctive as any Fleetwood MacChicken Shack, or Groundhogs opus, and for which Dr. K's Blues Band merit so much more than the footnote they currently occupy. AMG.

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Papa Nebo - Papa Nebo 1971

Not much info about this group formed by Michael Packer and Sandy Allen. An interesting album it present a mixed style with psych, southern country, hard blues, rural folk and some jazz & rock hints. Give it a listen.

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Third Ear Band - The Magus 1972

Falling giddily between the cracks of psychedelia, prog and free-form jazz, Third Ear Band baffled the best in the late '60s/early '70s, then cemented their reputation by providing the soundtrack to Roman Polanski's film Macbeth, which was also to be the band's third and final album. A fourth one, however, was recorded in December, 1972, under the aegis of Ear's soundman Ron Kort, who also supplied percussion and piano to the set. But with their deal with Harvest Records at an end, and no new takers for the album in sight, the band faded away, to surface a handful of times in later years. The tapes, meanwhile, were carefully preserved by Kort, until finally Angel Air offered them a home. Magus would have defied description at the time, and the musical progression over the intervening years has only highlighted the problem. Today a song like "New Horizon" with its gloomy electronics and militant beats would probably be tagged goth, a genre that didn't even exist back in '72. The title track, too, could fall into that same category with its insistent rhythm and moody melody, at least, until the organ swoops down in all its pompous, early-'70s glory. And what of "The Phoenix," a spoken word piece accompanied by recorder, twittering bird effects, and a low rumble-like aural wave? Beat poetry or improv jazz? The tribal drums that accompany "The Key" also sound thoroughly modern, while the violin that sweeps overhead in muted gypsy fashion pushes the number towards world music, although club crowds might prefer to claim it for their own. Elsewhere, the more electronic "Cosmic Wheel," with its rousing rhythm and Indian flavor, calls to mind the more intriguing electro-sounds of the early '80s. The song reappears as "Kosmik Wheel" at the end of the set, Mike Marchant's harsh vocals industrial in tone, the music itself now giving way to the total. AMG.

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Joni Mitchell - For the Roses 1972

On For the RosesJoni Mitchell began to explore jazz and other influences in earnest. As one might expect from a transitional album, there is a lot of stylistic ground explored, including straight folk selections using guitar ("For the Roses") and piano ("Banquet," "See You Sometime," "Lesson in Survival") overtly jazzy numbers ("Barangrill," "Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire," and hybrids that cross the two "Let the Wind Carry Me," "Electricity," "Woman of Heart and Mind," "Judgment of the Moon and Stars"). "Blonde in the Bleachers" grafts a rock & roll band coda onto a piano-based singer/songwriter main body. The hit single "You Turn Me on I'm a Radio" is an unusual essay into country-tinged pop, sporting a Dylanesque harmonica solo played by Graham Nash and lush backing vocals. Arrangements here build solidly upon the tentative expansion of scoring first seen in Ladies of the Canyon. "Judgment of the Moon and Stars" and "Let the Wind Carry Me" present lengthy instrumental interludes. The lyrics here are among Mitchell's best, continuing in the vein of gripping honesty and heartfelt depth exhibited on Blue. As always, there are selections about relationship problems, such as "Lesson in Survival," "See You Sometime," and perhaps the best of all her songs in this genre, "Woman of Heart and Mind." "Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire" presents a gritty inner-city survival scene, while "Barangrill" winsomely extols the uncomplicated virtues of a roadside truck stop. More than a bridge between great albums, this excellent disc is a top-notch listen in its own right. AMG.

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Gilberto Gil - Frevo Rasgado 1968

Gilberto Gil's second album is packed with some of the best songs of his career -- jubilant pop extravaganzas like "Domingo No Parque," "Pega a Voga, Cabeludo," and "Frevo Rasgado" that were equally inspired by the irresistible, brassy bombast of Carnaval and intelligent rock & roll from America and Britain. Even more than the other tropicalistas, though, Gil blends his rock and native influences seamlessly, resulting in songs like "Êle Falava Nisso Todo Dia" that chart an intriguing fusion of Brazilian and British Invasion (before he breaks into Portuguese for the first verse, the intro sounds exactly like a few early Rolling Stones productions). Gil's occasional backing band, the teenage tropicalia breakouts known as Os Mutantes, join in on the feel-good Brazilian pop anthem "Domingou." Enjoyable and never as experimental as his work would soon become, Gilberto Gil is one of the best tropicalia albums ever released. AMG.

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Dave Mason - Dave Mason 1974

Using his touring band, which included keyboard player Mike Finnigan and guitarist Jim KruegerDave Mason turned in a strong pop/rock collection on his second, self-titled Columbia album. "Show Me Some Affection" was one of those songs that should have been a hit single, Mason recut a fuller version of "Every Woman," originally heard on It's Like You Never Left, and the album also included Mason's version of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower," in an arrangement patterned after the one by Jimi Hendrix, on which Mason had played six years earlier. [Originally released by Columbia Records as Columbia 33096, Dave Mason was reissued on CD by One Way Records as One Way 26080 on October 31, 1995.] AMG.

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Camel - Camel 1973

Camel was still finding its signature sound on its eponymous debut album. At this point, Peter Bardens and his grand, sweeping organ dominate the group's sound and Andrew Latimer sounds tentative on occasion. Furthermore, the music fluctuates uncertainly between arty improvisations, jazz-inflected rhythms, and uninspired rock numbers. There are hints of promise scattered throughout the album, yet the record never gels into something special. AMG.

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terça-feira, 10 de agosto de 2021

Stretch - Elastique 1975

Stretch was a 1970s British rock band that grew from the collaboration between Elmer Gantry (real name Dave Terry) and Kirby (real name Graham) Gregory. Gantry had been the frontman of Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera. Kirby had been a member of Curved Air. 
 

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Basil Kirchin - The Abominable Dr. Phibes 1972

Experimental composer Basil Kirchin was born in Great Britain in 1927. He made his professional debut in December 1941 at London's Paramount, playing drums in his father Ivor's jazz band, and remained a fixture of the group throughout the remainder of World War II, playing 14 shows per week. After the war ended, Kirchin joined Harry Roy's newly-formed New 1946 Orchestra (one of the first true British big bands) as a featured soloist, gaining national exposure via the band's regular appearances on BBC radio. As the decade drew to a close, Kirchin signed on with the Ted Heath Big Band, at the time arguably the most popular big band in all of Europe -- in 1952 he returned to London to form his own group, installing his father as co-leader and recruiting trumpeters Tony Grant, Stan Palmer, Bobby Orr, and Norman Baron; saxophonists Ronnie BakerDuncan Lamont, Pete Warner, John Xerri and Alex Leslie, pianist Harry South, bassist Ronnie Seabrook, vocalist Johnny Grant, and arranger John Clarke. The Kirchin band made its debut on September 8 with a year-long residency at the Edinburgh Fountainbridge Palais, followed in November 1953 by an engagement at the Belfast Plaza Ballroom that extended into the spring of 1954. At the same time, the group also backed singer Ruby Murray during a 13-week series for Radio Luxembourg. In mid-1954 Ivor Kirchin was critically injured in an auto accident, and Basil attempted to lead the band on his own -- without a head for business, however, he struggled to keep the operation afloat before ultimately dissolving the lineup. Once Ivor recovered he returned to work and with the formation of the New Kirchin Band -- a unit featuring four trumpeters, four saxophonists, and three percussionists -- their sound veered away from traditional big band jazz to a more rhythmic, brassy approach that proved extremely popular with listeners, and after just ten months in existence, they placed fourth in a Melody Maker reader poll of Britain's most popular groups. After recording four singles and an EP for Decca, the Kirchin Band signed to Parlophone, where they collaborated with future Beatles' producer George Martin -- moreover, they were the first band to travel with their own P.A. system, and Basil obsessively recorded each live performance and rehearsal session, including now-legendary dates backing Billy Eckstine and Sarah Vaughan. However, he felt increasingly confined by the limitations of the big band model, and at the peak of the Kirchin Band's fame, announced its dissolution in 1957, spending the next few years traveling the globe, including extended stays in India and the U.S. After arriving in Sydney for what would amount to a two-year stay in Australia, Kirchin left his luggage -- including nine hand-compiled 7" tapes containing only the absolute highlights of the Kirchin Band's five-year run -- aboard his ship. Days later he received an apologetic phone call from the docks: In the process of removing the cargo from the ship, his luggage fell into the sea, and everything was destroyed -- in effect, his life's work was lost, with only their studio sessions to document the group's music. Although Kirchin finally returned to Britain in the spring of 1961, he abandoned traditional jazz forever, instead of working with engineer Keith Herd on a series of electronic compositions written for imaginary films -- from there, he was commissioned to score a number of actual films, television programs, documentaries, and theatrical productions. In 1964, Kirchin began pursuing an approach he dubbed World Within Worlds -- essentially, he began combining traditional instruments with wildlife sounds and the amplified noise of insects, painstakingly editing and manipulating the results to create beautiful yet utterly alien soundscapes that clearly anticipated the subsequent ambient experiments of Brian Eno, as well as a generation of electronic artists like Aphex Twin. Not until the Swiss tape recording manufacturing firm Nagra issued their next-generation tape machines and microphones in 1967 was Kirchin able to acquire the technology necessary to fully realize his vision -- his source material grew more and more obscure, and his tape manipulations grew more and more extreme with each new project, discovering new "inner sounds" virtually inaudible at standard playback speeds. While earning an income from soundtrack projects including 1967's The Shuttered Room, 1968's The Strange Affair, and 1971's The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Kirchin continued honing the World Within Worlds' aesthetic, finally releasing an LP under that name in 1971 -- a sequel followed two years later, this time featuring liner notes written by the aforementioned Eno. However, record company meddling and politics victimized both records, and a disillusioned Kirchin accepted more film and TV work in order to continue funding the equipment needed to further his more personal projects. Sadly, no new material was forthcoming for decades, and only in 2003 was Quantum -- a work fusing live performances from Evan ParkerDarryl RunswickKenny Wheeler, and Graham Lyons with ambient field recordings and the voices of autistic children -- finally issued on the Trunk label. The two-fer Charcoal Sketches/States of Mind -- the latter composed in 1968 for a psychiatric conference -- soon followed. AMG.

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Dave 'Snaker' Ray - Fine Soft Land 1967

Dave Snaker Ray split his second album about evenly between his own compositions and covers of songs from the likes of Sleepy John Estes, Arthur Crudup, and Leroy Carr. It's a tribute to Ray's feel for traditional blues styles that it's not easy to tell the originals from the covers, though overall it's just an average, if respectable, album. He accompanies himself on 12-string guitar on this set of acoustic blues, playing harmonica on his "Tribute" to Sonny Boy Williamson II, piano on the closing "Born to Surrender," and singing a one-minute snatch of Mose Allison's "Young Man" a cappella. The LP usually has a slow, relaxed ambience that sometimes gets a little too low-energy after a few songs at a time. Some of the highlights include his bottleneck guitar on "West Egg Rag" and his unusual, almost raga-tinged guitar work on "Baby Please Don't Go," which in spots is rather reminiscent of the approach Davy Graham used in England on "Blue Raga." Future Rolling Stone editor Paul Nelson produced. AMG.

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