terça-feira, 31 de maio de 2022

Ars Nova - Sunshine And Shadows 1969

Ars Nova was a rock/classical hybrid that formed in New York in 1967 around students of the Mannes College of Music. The band initially comprised Wyatt Day on guitar, keyboards, and vocals; Jon Pierson on trombone and vocals; Bill Folwell on trumpet and vocals; Jonathan Raskin on bass, vocals, and guitar; Giovanni Papalia on guitar, and Maury Baker on percussion. Elektra producer Paul A. Rothchild took credit for the discovery, and after signing them, called them "the most exciting thing since the Doors." The band released its debut album in April 1968 and was profiled in the June 28, 1968, issue of LIFE magazine, but the hype didn't appear to help. The album failed to chart, and the band reorganized around DayPierson, guitarist Sam Brown, trumpeter Jimmy Owens, bassist Art Koenig, and drummer Joseph Hunt. There was a second album, Sunshine & Shadows, in June 1969. AMG.

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King Crimson - Larks' Tongues in Aspic 1973

King Crimson reborn yet again -- the then-newly configured band makes its debut with a violin (courtesy of David Cross) sharing center stage with Robert Fripp's guitars and his Mellotron, which is pushed into the background. The music is the most experimental of Fripp's career up to this time -- though some of it actually dated (in embryonic form) back to the tail-end of the Boz Burrell-Ian Wallace-Mel Collins lineup. And John Wetton was the group's strongest singer/bassist since Greg Lake's departure three years earlier. What's more, this lineup quickly established itself as a powerful performing unit, working in a more purely experimental, less jazz-oriented vein than its immediate predecessor. "Outer Limits music" was how one reviewer referred to it, mixing Cross' demonic fiddling with shrieking electronics, Bill Bruford's astounding dexterity at the drum kit, Jamie Muir's melodic and usually understated percussion, Wetton's thundering yet melodic bass, and Fripp's guitar, which generated sounds ranging from traditional classical and soft pop-jazz licks to hair-curling electric flourishes. AMG.

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Bobby Pierce - Introducing Bobby Pierce 1972

Organ combo historians might be the only ones who remember Bobby Pierce, the Columbus, OH native and peer of Don Patterson, Eddie Baccus, and Hank Marr. His only other album for the Cobblestone/Muse family of record labels came out back in 1972, Introducing Bobby Pierce. It's long out of print, a collectors item for sure, and a reminder of the chitlin' circuit club scene where his central Ohio home was a focal point. At the time of this recording, he is based in Los Angeles, playing music in jazz, gospel, or classical settings after being devoted to a life apart from music for the better part of four decades. AMG.

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John Compton - To Luna 1971

First released in 1971, this is US singer-songwriter John Parker Compton's first solo LP after the break-up of the amazing Appaloosa and a duo album with violinist and subsequent jingle maestro Robin Batteau. To Luna was Compton’s last attempt to reach a wider audience at the time. The album was issued in 1971 and presented a set of his best-formed songs and personal and band playing that matches the highest quality produced at that time or any other time for that matter.

Quite a few of the albums recorded in the Sixties and Seventies bear quite a heavy mark of the times they were made in, both musically and lyrically. Listening to To Luna today it is almost impossible to pin down the period it was made in and sounds as relevant as it should have then.

While Compton’s songs vary from the staple singer/songwriter material (the opener “Colano Sound”) to more jazzy/bluesy variations that actually defy the cliche (“One Find Me Home”), it is the more melancholic songs that truly give this album that “lost treasure” stamp of approval - “Verandas”, “Yorkshire Pines” and the closer “Leave My Casos In Laos” should find their place in anybody’s late-night mix. Recently, due to the resize of To Luna album, first in Japan and then in the US, Compton’s music has started to fall on some more receptive ears. We’re lucky that somebody decided to brush off the dust of this diamond.

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Albert Ayler - Music Is The Healing Force Of The Universe 1969

Possibly the most notorious Albert Ayler release and universally misunderstood (i.e., hated) by fans and critics alike. When New Grass was released in 1969 it received a hostile outcry of "sell-out." Listening to New Grass in hindsight; it must be taken into account that even though commercial elements are apparent -- a soul horn section, backup singers, boogaloo drumming from Bernard "Pretty" Purdie, and electric rock bass -- Ayler's vocals and tenor playing could hardly gain commercial radio exposure at any time. It's likely Impulse prodded Ayler to move into a more pronounced blues-oriented sound and he went willingly. Ayler wasn't a stranger to R&B or gutbucket blues; he had started his career playing saxophone with Chicago bluesman Little Walter in the '50s. Ayler's screeching tone remains intact on New Grass, but it's mixed with definite R&B riffs like the obvious honkin' nod to "Slippin and Sliddin" on "New Generation." Ayler's attempt to explain himself on the opening track with "Message from Albert Ayler," reveals his impending dread over a controversy concerning the material. It is a problem many artists face at some point in their careers when trying to move in a different direction, no matter what the reason; they may end up losing a majority of their audience by taking a foreign approach. AMG.

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sexta-feira, 20 de maio de 2022

The Byrds - 5th Dimension 1966

Although the ByrdsFifth Dimension was wildly uneven, its high points were as innovative as any rock music being recorded in 1966. Immaculate folk-rock was still present in their superb arrangements of the traditional songs "Wild Mountain Thyme" and "John Riley." For the originals, they devised some of the first and best psychedelic rock, often drawing from the influence of Indian raga in the guitar arrangements. "Eight Miles High," with its astral lyrics, pumping bassline, and fractured guitar solo, was a Top 20 hit, and one of the greatest singles of the '60s. The minor hit title track and the country-rock-tinged "Mr. Spaceman" are among their best songs; "I See You" has great 12-string psychedelic guitar solos; and "I Come and Stand at Every Door" is an unusual and moving update of a traditional rock tune, with new lyrics pleading for peace in the nuclear age. At the same time, the R&B instrumental "Captain Soul" was a throwaway, "Hey Joe" not nearly as good as the versions by the Leaves or Jimi Hendrix, and "What's Happening?!?!" the earliest example of David Crosby's disagreeably vapid hippie ethos. These weak spots keep Fifth Dimension from attaining truly classic status. AMG.

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Michael Bloomfield, Al Kooper & Stephen Stills - Super Session 1968

As the BeatlesSgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) had done a year earlier, Super Session (1968) initially ushered in several new phases in rock & roll's concurrent transformation. In the space of months, the soundscape of rock shifted radically from short, danceable pop songs to comparatively longer works with more attention to technical and musical subtleties. Enter the unlikely all-star triumvirate of Al Kooper (piano/organ/ondioline/vocals/guitars), Mike Bloomfield (guitar), and Stephen Stills (guitar) -- all of whom were concurrently "on hiatus" from their most recent engagements. Kooper had just split after masterminding the groundbreaking Child Is Father to the Man (1968) version of Blood, Sweat & TearsBloomfield was fresh from a stint with the likewise brass-driven Electric Flag, while Stills was late of Buffalo Springfield and still a few weeks away from a full-time commitment to David Crosby and Graham Nash. Although the trio never actually performed together, the long-player was notable for idiosyncratically featuring one side led by the team of Kooper/Bloomfield and the other by Kooper/StillsThe band is fleshed out with the powerful rhythm section of Harvey Brooks (bass) and Eddie Hoh (drums) as well as Barry Goldberg (electric piano) on "Albert's Shuffle" and "Stop." The Chicago blues contingency of BloomfieldBrooks, and Goldberg provides a perfect outlet for the three Kooper/Bloomfield originals -- the first of which commences the project with the languid and groovy "Albert's Shuffle." The guitarist's thin tone cascades with empathetic fluidity over the propelling rhythms. Kooper's frisky organ solo alternately bops and scats along as he nudges the melody forward. The same can be said of the interpretation of "Stop," which had originally been a minor R&B hit for Howard TateCurtis Mayfield's "Man's Temptation" is given a soulful reading that might have worked equally well as a Blood, Sweat & Tears cover. At over nine minutes, "His Holy Modal Majesty" is a fun trippy waltz and includes one of the most extended jams on the Kooper/Bloomfield side. The track also features the hurdy-gurdy and Eastern-influenced sound of Kooper's electric ondioline, which has a slightly atonal and reedy timbre much like that of John Coltrane's tenor sax. Because of some health issues, Bloomfield was unable to complete the recording sessions and Kooper contacted Stills. Immediately his decidedly West Coast sound -- which alternated from a chiming Rickenbacker intonation to a faux pedal steel -- can be heard on the upbeat version of Bob Dylan's "It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry." One of the album's highlights is the scintillating cover of "Season of the Witch." There is an undeniable synergy between Kooper and Stills, whose energies seems to aurally drive the other into providing some inspired interaction. Updating the blues standard "You Don't Love Me" allows Stills to sport some heavily distorted licks, which come off sounding like Jimi Hendrix. This is one of those albums that seems to get better with age and that gets the full reissue treatment every time a new audio format comes out. This is a super session indeed. AMG.

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Maurice McIntyre - Humility In The Light Of Creator 1970

In the 1960s, bop snobs who condemned avant-garde jazz made comments that were not only uninformed and narrow-minded, but sometimes, their attacks on jazz's "new thing" (a term that was used to describe free jazz and Chicago AACM jazz as well as a lot of modal post-bop) were even mean-spirited and hateful. Such bop snobs loved to ridicule and mock the spirituality that characterized a lot of modal and avant-garde jazz; they treated it like a joke and a fad. But spirituality in music is hardly faddish; when explorers like John ColtraneArchie SheppPharoah Sanders, and Yusef Lateef were influenced by traditional Hindu, Islamic, or Jewish music, they were drawing on musical traditions that had been around for centuries. Spirituality is a big part of Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre's Humility in the Light of the Creator, a superb inside/outside date that is arguably his finest, most essential album. Recorded in 1969, this AACM classic owes a lot to the spiritual music of the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, and there are times when the Chicago saxophonist also blends avant-garde jazz with Native American elements. When singer George Hines is featured in three pieces, his wordless vocals show an awareness of the music used in traditional Native American religious ceremonies. Humility, McIntyre's first album as a leader, is a perfect example of the AACM approach to avant-garde jazz; while the blistering free jazz of Albert AylerCecil Taylor, and late-period Coltrane favors density, McIntyre and his fellow AACM explorers use space and silence to their creative advantage. As a result, Humility is often dissonant without ever being claustrophobic. (Not that claustrophobic is a bad thing: Coltrane's ferocious, claustrophobic Om is a gem, although it's a gem that isn't for everyone). McIntyre has a lot to be proud of, but if you were limited to owning only one of his albums, Humility would be the best choice. AMG.

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Brenton Wood - Oogum Boogum 1967

Brenton Wood's first LP for Double Shot records (or anybody, for that matter), it followed fast on the heels of his chart smash "The Oogum Boogum Song," an infectious ditty where Wood's elastic, charming vocals made you overlook the songs' Mickey Mouse production. As enticing is Wood's sincere delivery of "I Think You Got Your Fools Mixed Up." Also featured is a rendition of Count Five's (labelmates) "Psychotic Reactions" and his follow-up chartbuster "Gimme a Little Sign." A simplistic but arresting -- due solely to Wood's unpredictable vocalizing -- album. But at 23 minutes total running time, it's over before you can get your groove on. Out of print, but the best cuts are available on various best-of Brenton Wood CDs. AMG.

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The Greatest Show On Earth - The Going's Easy 1970

As had been the case with the Greatest Show on Earth's (GSOE) debut long-player, Horizons (1970), the follow-up, Going's Easy (1970), made very little impact despite their originality and certainly better-than-average material. The band's rather auspicious origins were the invention of EMI Records subsidiary Harvest, who set out to manufacture a British version of Blood, Sweat & Tears or Chicago -- both of whom successfully fused a brass and woodwind section into the framework of a rock & roll combo. After a less-than-stellar initial outing, GSOE returned to the drawing board and reconvened with a disc of longer and more jammed-out sides. They had also been listening to their stateside counterparts. The extended track "Borderline" is a group-credited composition that seems to lift several distinct features from the David Clayton Thomas version of Blood, Sweat & TearsColin Horton Jennings' (vocals/flute/guitar) bluesy lead vocals seem to practically mimic Thomas'. In fact, GSOE even goes one better than Blood, Sweat & Tears with an exceedingly heavier rock vibe. The acoustic and lilting "Magic Touch Woman" as well as the dark, pastoral "Storytimes & Nursery Rhymes" include some well-crafted harmonies that could easily be mistaken for latter-era Hollies. This is particularly interesting as the Hollies actually scored a minor hit with "Magic Touch Woman." "Love Magnet" is another lengthy track that features some of the band's best ensemble work. Mick Deacon's (vocal/keyboard) electric organ solo is especially noteworthy, giving GSOE a really jazzy workout. Lacking consumer or industry support, GSOE disbanded by mid-1971. Even while the group was able to sell out shows throughout the rest of Europe, the total lack of interest back home inevitably sealed their fate. AMG.

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Southwind - What a Place To Land 1971

Country-rock unit Southwind comprised singer/guitarist John Martin, singer/bassist Jim Pulte, organist Phil Hope and drummer Eric Dalton. Originally formed at the University of Oklahoma as a rockabilly combo called the Disciples, in 1967 the group relocated to Los Angeles at the suggestion of musician friend Fontaine Brown, adopting the more contemporary moniker Southwind and significantly expanding their sound to incorporate elements of British Invasion-inspired pop, psychedelic rock, and traditional country. Signing to the tiny Venture label, in 1968 Southwind issued their self-titled debut; Brown soon replaced Hope as a full-time member of the band, with a move to Blue Thumb preceding their 1970 follow-up Ready to Ride, in part recorded live at the Fillmore West. 1971's What a Strange Place to Land, meanwhile, spotlighted a more pronounced blues influence than past efforts. Southwind disbanded soon after the record's release; swapping his birth name for his nickname "Moon," Martin went on to back Linda Ronstadt, later recording a series of solo albums and writing the Robert Palmer smash "Bad Case of Loving You (Doctor, Doctor)." Pulte also cut a pair of 1972 solo LPs for United Artists before disappearing from the music scene. AMG.

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Norman Connors - L ove From The Sun 1973

Like Roy AyersGeorge Benson, and Patrice RushenNorman Connors is best known for his major R&B hits but started out as a jazz improviser. The drummer/composer was born and raised in Philadelphia, where he lived in the same neighborhood as Bill Cosby and became interested in jazz when he was only a child. As a kid in elementary school, Connors was exposed to jazz extensively thanks to such schoolmates as drummer Lex Humphries and the younger brother of bassist and Jazz Messenger-to-be Spanky De BrestConnors was in junior high when he began sneaking into jazz clubs and sat in for Elvin Jones at a John Coltrane gig. At 13, he first got to meet his idol, Miles Davis and started expressing his admiration for the famous trumpeter by dressing like him. Connors went on to study music at Philly's Temple University and the Juilliard School of Music in New York. Gigs with Jackie McLeanJack McDuff, and Sam Rivers followed, and he was first recorded as a sideman when Archie Shepp employed him on his 1967 Impulse! session Magic of Ju-JuAfter touring with Pharoah Sanders and playing on several of his albums, Connors signed with Buddah's Cobblestone label in 1972 and recorded his first album as a leader, Dance of Magic, and its follow-up, Dark of Light. A few more jazz-oriented Cobblestone and Buddah dates followed, and it was in 1975 that Connors made R&B his main priority with Saturday Night Special (which included the number ten soul hit "Valentine Love"). The rest of the 1970s found Connors featuring R&B singers prominently (including Michael HendersonJean Carn, and the late Phyllis Hyman) and scoring such R&B hits as "We Both Need Each Other," "Once I've Been There," and the lovely "You Are My Starship." Connors, who signed with Arista in 1977, wasn't as popular or as visible in the 1980s, although he would make a comeback in the 1990s by signing with Motown's MoJazz label and focusing on both urban contemporary and crossover. The 21st century found him moving along similar lines, releasing Eternity on Starship Records in 2000 and Star Power in 2009 on Shanachie Records. A

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John B. Sebastian - John B. Sebastian 1970 @ 320

When he led the Lovin' Spoonful from 1965 to 1967, John Sebastian experimented with a variety of styles, expanding from the folk, jug band, and rock & roll that were the band's basic mixture to include everything from country ("Nashville Cats") to orchestrated movie scoring ("Darling, Be Home Soon"). Freed from the confines of a four-piece band, he stretched further on his debut solo album, including the samba-flavored "Magical Connection" and the R&B-styled "Baby, Don't Ya Get Crazy" (complete with the Ikettes on backup vocals) in addition to traditional country on "Rainbows All Over Your Blues," which spotlighted Buddy Emmons on pedal steel guitar. But there were also delicate ballads like the string-filled "She's a Lady," a stripped-down remake of "You're a Big Boy Now," and "The Room Nobody Lives In," the last performed with only a harmonium and bass guitar. And there were pop/rock songs like "Red-Eye Express," "What She Thinks About," and the utopian "I Had a Dream" that you could imagine having fitted easily into the Spoonful's repertoire. The songs continued Sebastian's trend toward a more personal writing style, many of them containing images of travel that corresponded to his peripatetic lifestyle. Like Paul McCartney's McCartney, which followed it into the marketplace by a few months, the album was an eclectic but low-key introduction to the solo career of a former group member whose band was known for more elaborate productions, and all the more effective for that. (John B. Sebastian was the subject of a legal dispute between MGM records and Reprise records, with Reprise winning out, although MGM briefly issued its own version of the LP, apparently taken from a second-generation master. The MGM version is sonically inferior to the Reprise one and has different artwork, but the contents of the two LPs are identical.) AMG.

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Dory Previn - Mythical Kings and Iguanas 1971

A year on from the debut, Previn's cupboard was still bursting with demons. This time out, though, she put her childhood anxieties on hold and dealt with more immediate concerns -- the quest for spiritual fulfillment and the simple need to find a healthy, loving relationship -- in a series of mostly dark, experimental folk ballads. The record bore a more muted sound than its predecessor, but lyrically it was as incisive as ever. With beguiling candor, Previn neatly pinned down the inevitable inequalities of an affair with a younger man ("Whatever you give me/I'll take as it comes/Discarding self-pity/I'll manage with crumbs") on "Lemon Haired Ladies." "Angels and Devils the Following Day" remains a great modern-day fable about psychological abuse versus physical abuse -- wisely concluding that a few punches are nothing compared to chronic mental torture. Mythical Kings and Iguanas also contained "Lady with the Braid," the closest Previn came to an adult radio hit. AMG.

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domingo, 15 de maio de 2022

Procol Harum - Procol Harum Live In Concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra 1972

This whole album was an afterthought -- Procol Harum had been invited to play a concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and the Da Camera Singers in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, in August of 1971, at the tail-end of their last tour with Robin Trower in the lineup. Amid all of the preparation -- including the writing of new orchestral arrangements by Gary Brooker and with a new lead guitarist, Dave Ball, just joining the lineup -- Brooker decided that it might be a good idea to preserve a professionally made tape of the show and suggested that A&M Records, to which they were signed, might want to record the performance; the label agreed with just a week to go until the concert. Even "Conquistador," the song on which the resulting album's commercial success was built, was added at the last minute, with no time for the orchestra to rehearse the arrangement that Brooker wrote on the flight from England. They did it coldly, opening the concert, and the eventual album featured a performance -- highlighted by the orchestra's brass in a Spanish mode, running scales on the strings, and B.J. Wilson's powerful drumming -- helped loft the single to number 16 in America. The group's second-biggest hit record (after "A Whiter Shade of Pale"), in turn, helped lift the album into the American Top Five. Ironically, the success of the LP also left Procol Harum's image slightly askew, with the presence of the orchestra and choir and the selection of songs, from the most ambitious part of the band's repertory, all combining to present the group as more of a progressive rock act than they actually were. "Conquistador" was the most accessible song on the album, and nothing else here matches it for sheer, bracing excitement, but the rest -- especially "Whaling Stories", "A Salty Dog" and the multi-part "In Held 'Twas I" -- were all opened up by the vast canvas provided by the orchestra, and the group didn't wimp out in their own performance; Wilson, Ball, Brooker, and company all played hard and heavy where the songs required it. AMG.

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