Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Graham Nash - Songs For Beginners (1971 uk, marvelous folk country soft rock, 2008 digipak remaster)



Songs for Beginners is Graham Nash's solo debut apart from Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Released in 1971, it is a collection of songs that reflect change, transition, and starting over. The set was recorded in both Los Angeles and San Francisco, in the immediate aftermath of Nash's traumatic breakup with Joni Mitchell. Unlike the colorful dynamism of Stephen Stills' eponymous debut recording, or the acid-drenched cosmic cowboy spaciness of David Crosby's If I Could Only Remember My Name, Nash's album is by contrast a much more humble and direct offering. 

It is a true, mostly introspective songwriter's album full of beautifully performed and wonderfully recorded songs that reflect transition, movement, the desire to look backward and forward simultaneously. Like the aforementioned offering, this one is star-studded in its choice of players and singers: Crosby, Chris Ethridge, Jerry Garcia, Rita Coolidge, Clydie King, Venetta Fields, Dave Mason, Neil Young (under the pseudonym "Joe Yankee"), David Lindley, Bobby Keys, Phil Lesh, Dallas Taylor, and drummer John Barbata reflect some of the personnel on this heady yet humble session. The album is bookended by two of Nash's best-known tunes, the anthemic "Military Madness" that remains timeless in the 21st century, and "Chicago," that doesn't. That said, they are among the weakest songs here -- which reveals what a solid collection it is.

Unlike many recordings birthed from personal angst, Nash's engages in no self pity; instead, he focuses on the craft of songwriting itself. Despite its personal darkness, "Better Days," with its swirling piano and pronounced bassline, is also an actual paean to self-determination and perseverance, the logic being that there were better days in the past, so there must be better ones in the future as well. "I Used to Be a King," with Garcia on a gorgeous pedal steel and Lesh on bass, is a direct, mature response to "King Midas in Reverse," a song Nash wrote and recorded with the Hollies. "Simple Man," with its sparse melody and strings and a fine backing vocal from Coolidge, was written on the afternoon of the breakup with Mitchell. 

The violin-cello backdrop to Nash's piano is particularly effective and makes this one of his most memorable songs. The parlor room country waltz that commences "Man in the Mirror," features Garcia's steel, Young's piano, ex-Flying Burrito Brother Ethridge, and drummer Barbata; it shifts keys, tempo, and feel about a third of the way in with a very long bridge that transforms the song's sentiment as well. Ultimately, Songs for Beginners is the strongest of Nash's solo efforts (outside of his work with Crosby). 
by Thom Jurek
Tracks
1. Military Madness - 2:50
2. Better Days - 3:47
3. Wounded Bird - 2:09
4. I Used To Be A King - 4:45
5. Be Yourself (Graham Nash, Terry Reid) - 3:03
6. Simple Man - 2:05
7. Man In The Mirror - 2:48
8. There's Only One - 3:55
9. Sleep Song - 2:57
10.Chicago - 2:55
11.We Can Change The World - 1:00
Words and Music by Graham Nash except where notes

Musicians
*Graham Nash - Vocals, Guitar, Piano, Organ, Tambourine
*Rita Coolidge - Piano, Electric
*Jerry Garcia - Pedal Steel Guitar
*Joe Yankee - Piano
*Dorian Rudnytsky - Cello
*Dave Mason - Electric Guitar
*David Crosby - Electric Guitar
*Joel Bernstein - Piano On
*Bobby Keys - Saxophone
*David Lindley - Fiddle
*Sermon Posthumas - Bass Clarinet
*Chris Ethridge - Bass
*Calvin "Fuzzy" Samuels - Bass
*Phil Lesh - Bass
*Johnny Barbata - Drums, Tambourine
*Dallas Taylor - Drums
*P.P. Arnold - Backing Vocals
*Venetta Fields, Sherlie Matthews, Clydie King, Dorothy Morrison - Backing Vocals

1973  Graham Nash - Wild Tales
1974  Crosby Stills Nash And Young - Live (2013 four discs box set)

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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Maxwells - Maxwell Street (1969 denmark, brilliant jazzy psych prog rock, 2003 remaster)



Maxwells started in 1963 as "The Dragons". The group was formed by Lasse Lunderskov (guitar), Jørgen Werner (electric bass), Børge Mortensen (drums), Even Mørk Pedersen (rhythm guitar) and Lars Bisgaard (vocal). They were all, apart from Even, attending the Danish Church School, where they were trained in choral singing and obliged to sing in the Marble Church choir, the church of the royal castle Amalienborg.

The band had a repertoire consisting of cover versions of hits by The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, etc. Their skilful singing earned them a reputation as a pop rock band and as such they played a lot of gigs. In 1965 they changed the group's name to Maxwells and the band turned their direction more and more towards a Motown style adding three horns in 1966: Kjeld Ipsen (trombone), Torben Enghoff (tenor saxophone/flute) and Bent Hesselmann (alto saxophone/flute).

Bisgaard and Lunderskov appeared in "The Beggars Opera" at Gladsaxe Theatre and in "Superman" at the "Studenterscenen" late 1966.  In 1967 Maxwells performed the first psychedelic show in Denmark: "WE", a collage of scenes and songs at the "Studenterscenen".  Svend Åge Mortensen, elder brother of Børge the drummer, constructed a whole set of light devices from gramophone motors, old glass prisms and slide projectors for this performance. It was a sensation and from then on the band worked with psychedelic lighting.

The intelligentsia took an interest in the band and contemporary composer Per Nørgaard used the band members in his opera "The Labyrinth" at The Royal Theatre of Copenhagen. He also composed an original song for the group called "ABCDarian" which was performed in May 1967 when Maxwells had their first TV appearance in a show recorded at the museum of contemporary art, "Louisiana". This was a real breakthrough and was followed by radio coverage and interviews in all the pop magazines. Late in the summer of 1967 their first record, a single including "Flower Powder" by Lasse Lunderskov and Bisgaard and "What Did She Do?" by Torben Enghoff (Sonet 7250), was recorded at the "Rosenberg Studios".

From then on the band started to add compositions by band members to their repertoire. In the following years, between concerts and theatre engagements, the band toured Denmark.
In October 1967 Maxwells supported Frank Zappa's "Mothers of Invention". For these concerts the band had composed a "collage style" set. The set the band put together for these concerts started with a recital of a Dada poem in a sort of acapella unisono singing, slowly developing into a wild climax 40 minutes later. 

The unique psychedelic lighting, which developed together with the music from a red triangle kept still during the recital to a crescendo of rotating lights turning the crowd into a frenzy! It was an instant success and the audience as well as the critics favoured Maxwells as the best band of the concert, which was a bit unfair to The Mothers, who had played the concert using Maxwells instruments as their equipment was sent to Lapland by mistake. In December 1967 Niels Harrit (tenor saxophone/ flute/ Wurlitzer piano) joined the band. The band could now change its set-up during performances.

Niels usually played the Wurlitzer, but when playing soul standards like "Pots 'n' Pans", "I Feel Good" etc., he would play tenor sax, while Enghoff would switch to baritone sax, and Hesselmann would either play alto or soprano sax on top of the horn section with Ipsen's trombone on the base line.  In January 1968 Maxwells were hired by the "Montmartre" jazz club to play Monday nights, which they did for longer periods the following year. In August Lasse and Bent wrote and recorded the music for "le Chat Botté" at "The Little Theatre", the first theatre for children in Denmark. In September the entire orchestra played as musicians and actors in the first performance of the musical "Hair" at Gladsaxe Theatre adding to the original score with a strip theme by Hesselmann, original music to the song "The Bed" by Lunderskov and a collective "Trip Music".

In October the band started rehearsals with the Danish contemporary composer Niels Viggo Bentzon, followed by concerts and a recording session in November which produced the single "Memories of Lorca/Biafra", both by Bentzon (Additional musicians: Erik Moseholm (contrabass) and Ingolf Olsen (Spanish guitar). Philips PF 355350). In January 1969 the German jazz critic, Joachim Ernst Behrendt, heard the band in a concert at the Danish Film Academy. He was so enthusiastic about the band, that he signed them to record a session for MPS Saba in Villingen, Germany. This session took place over 4 days in June, with Behrendt as producer. The LP Maxwell Street was released in September same year on MPS15242.

At the end of 1969 two things happened that would later trigger the beginning of the end of Maxwells: All the band members were attending university. Lasse and Jørgen studying Law, Børge and Svend Åge Medicine, Lars Biology, Torben Literature and French, Kjeld Music at the Royal Conservatory and Niels Nuclear Physics at the Ørsted Institute, while Bent, 10 years older than the others, had finished his studies in English and History.

Everything had been going smoothly as they were able to adapt their studies to suit the band's activities but then Niels had to move to the Max Planck Institute for Radiology in Mülheim and stay there for more than a year. Furthermore Kjeld was told to stop his professional work immediately or he would be expelled from the conservatory and miss his degree as a first class solo trombonist. 

The band never recovered from the loss of these two versatile members and although they tried with different additional personnel it never really worked as well as it had done before! In 1970 the rest of Maxwells played a final concert at the Music and Light Festival in Skovlunde, North-West of Copenhagen, joined by Dan Nedergaard (trumpet) and Frankie Jackman (congas).

In these 7 years Maxwells changed from being a very popular pop rock band with all the trappings to a band that experimented with all the new things that appeared in these years. The long cascades of dada poetry mixed with absurd snippets taken out from conversations in daily life were never recorded. Neither were the long collective improvisations of up to 45 minutes as played at the "Montmartre" Mondays.

Reactions to the band ranged from raving, delirious enthusiasm to wrath and anger over psychedelic art, twice resulting in smashed furniture and the band getting beaten up. Being a forerunner always has its price - just think of Stravinsky, who had to escape through a window to flee the threatening mob at the first performance of "Le Sacre de Printemps" in Paris in 1911! But it was worth it! 

Today, Jørgen Werner works as a chartered accountant/counsellor of law, Børge Mortensen is a parish clerk at the Royal Church of Holmen, his brother, Svend Åge, is the chief anaesthetist of the heart transplantation centre at Rigshospitalet, Lars Bisgaard is a school teacher, Niels Harit is a professor of Nuclear Physics at the Ørsted institute and still plays in big-bands and occasionally as a soloist on records. Torben Enghoff is a composer and leader of a quartet playing classical and contemporary repertoire. Kjeld Ipsen has been touring the world with various artists such as Gloria Gaynor and still works in big-bands. Since 1970 Lasse Lunderskov has been working as an actor with growing success. He played a strong character as Onkel Leif in the Danish dogma film "The Celebration" and has appeared in many TV programmes. Lunderskov still plays guitar in his own band "Rootbeat" and works as a theatre and film composer and as a songwriter. 

Bent Hesselmann has toured Europe with Rainbow Band and Midnight Sun and Denmark with various groups and theatres as a band leader and occasionally as an actor. He mainly works as a theatre and film music composer. Together with Lunderskov he has written two books on the electric guitar and electric band equipment: "Beat Guitar" and "The Book on Electric Instruments". Lunderskov and Hesselmann are also both board members of the "Danish Songwriters Guild".
by Trevor Wilson and Annette Duffy, Special thanks to Bent Hesselman
Tracks
1. Esther (Lasse Lunderskov) - 4:57
2. Free To Be (Niels Harrit, Joergen Werner) - 5:27
3. a. Make It Break It (Niels Harrit, Mike Roy)
....b. Beni Riamba (Bent Hesselmann) - 10:18
4. Maxwell Street (Bent Hesselmann) - 13:40
5. What´s A Smock (Niels Harrit) - 6:01
6. What Did She Do?  (Torben Enghoff, Lars Bisgaard) - 2:32
7. Flower Powder (Lasse Lunderskov, Lars Bisgaard) - 2:51
8. Memories Of Lorca (Niels Viggo Bentzon) - 3:44
9. Biafra (Niels Viggo Bentzon) - 2:26
Bonus Tracks 6-9

The Maxwells
*Lasse Lunderskov - Guitars, Sitar
*Lars Bisgaard - Vocals, Percussion
*Kjeld Ipsen - Trombone, Basstrombone
*Bent Hesselmann - Flute, Alto Sax, Soprano Sax
*Torben Enghoff - Tenor Sax, Flute
*Niels Harrit - Piano, E-Piano, Organ, Flute, Vocals
*Joergen Werner - Bass
*Borge Robert Mortensen - Drums, Percussion

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Sunday, September 24, 2017

John Mayall's Bluesbreakers - Crusade (1967 uk, amazing classic blues rock, 2007 SHM remaster with extra tracks)



Mayall was outraged by the untrumpeted death of J.B. Lenoir, and Crusade was his attempt to force the blues down the throat of the mainstream (“I hope you’ll join forces with me,” he writes in the sleeve notes).

With Green gone, his eye had settled on a teenage Mick Taylor, who brings equal parts soul and swagger. Crusade took just seven hours to record and mix, which perhaps accounts for its wham-bam brilliance. The band tips its hat on The Death Of J.B. Lenoir, and Taylor arguably pips Clapton’s Hideaway with his jaw-dropping instrumental Snowy Wood.
by Henry Yates

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. 
by Matthew Greenwald
Tracks
1. Oh, Pretty Woman (A.C. Williams) - 3:33
2. Stand Back Baby - 1:44
3. My Time After Awhile (Ron Badger, Sheldon Feinberg, Robert Geddins) - 5:08
4. Snowy Wood (John Mayall, Mick Taylor) - 3:36
5. Man of Stone (Eddie Kirkland) - 2:25
6. Tears in My Eyes - 4:15
7. Driving Sideways (Freddie King, Sonny Thompson) - 3:57
8. The Death of J. B. Lenoir - 4:23
9. I Can't Quit You Baby (Willie Dixon) - 4:30
10.Streamline - 3:14
11.Me and My Woman (Gene Barge) - 4:00
12.Checkin' Up on My Baby (Sonny Boy Williamson II) - 3:56
13.Curly (Peter Green) - 3:23
14.Rubber Duck (Peter Green, Aynsley Dunbar) - 3:46
15.Greeny (Peter Green) - 3:54
16.Missing You (Peter Green) - 1:57
17.Please Don't Tell - 2:27
18.Your Funeral and My Trial (Sonny Boy Williamson II) - 3:55
19.Double Trouble (Otis Rush) - 3:21
20.It Hurts Me Too (Malvene R London) - 2:54
21.Suspicions (Part One) - 2:48
22.Suspicions (Part Two) - 5:30
All songs written by John Mayall except where indicated

Personnel
*John Mayall – Vocals, Organ, Piano, Harmonica, Bottleneck Guitar
*Mick Taylor – Lead Guitar
*John Mcvie – Bass Guitar
*Keef Hartley – Drums
*Chris Mercer – Tenor Sax
*Rip Kant – Baritone Sax
*Peter Green - Lead Guitar (Tracks 13-20)
*Aynsley Dunbar - Drums (Tracks 13-18)
*Mick Fleetwood - Drums (Tracks 19-20)
*Paul Williams - Bass Guitar (Track 21)
*Paul Schaeffer - Bass Guitar (Track 22)

1966  John Mayall Bluesbreakers With Eric Clapton (Japan SHM double disc set)
1967  John Mayall And The Bluesbreakers - A Hard Road (Double Disc Set)
1969  John Mayall - The Turning Point (Remaster And Expanded)
1972  John Mayall - Moving On (2009 remaster)
1967  Various Artists - Raw Blues

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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Twenty Sixty Six And Then - Reflections On The Future (1970-72 germany / uk, impressive heavy prog kraut rock, 2017 double disc remaster)



You just have to love these rarities that get unearthed from the vaults from time to time, and this particular release from the folks at MIG Music comes from the German band Twenty Sixty Six and Then, their lone album from 1972 titled Reflections of the Future. Originally signed to United Artists Records, the album was released by the band and proved to be a hit with critics, but ultimately didn't catch on and the band quickly broke up about a year later. It's a real shame, as Reflections of the Future is a spectacular album chock full of bristling dual Hammond organ, heavy guitar work, and the soulful vocal pipes of Geff Harrison, the only British member of the band. Fans of Deep Purple, Iron Butterfly, Black Widow, Atomic Rooster, Nektar, Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep, and Vanilla Fudge will find much to love here.

"At My Home" kicks things off with beefy guitar riffs, flute, and swirling Hammond organ, the acrobatic rhythms playfully keeping the hard rock thunder in check while Harrison's bluesy vocals soar over the top. It's an instantly catchy and heavy song, with Gagey Mrozeck's guitar lending plenty of muscle and the dueling Hammonds courtesy of Veit Marvos & Steve Robinson playing up a storm. Doom laden riffs, Hammond, and Mellotron permeate the creepy "Autumn", a near 9-minute journey into dark progressive rock that starts out all Sabbathy but then catapults into complex Purple/Heep styled mayhem. 

For "Butterking" the Mellotron again makes an appearance, colliding with huge, majestic riffs and tumultuous drumming from Konstantin Heinrich Bommarius and nimble piano, eventually giving way to gorgeous acoustic guitar picking and ominous vocals before a full on prog climax. The 15-minute title track is of course epic in every way, Dieter Bauer's booming bass weaving around Mrozeck scorching guitar and waves of Hammond organ, the band flowing back and forth between bluesy atmosphere to raging hard rock, psychedelia, and prog. Fantastic stuff. "How Would You Feel" allows the listener a bit of a breather after all the thunder, as lush piano and Mellotron float underneath Harrison's emotional vocal, the tune more of a psychedelic pop song compared to the heavy rock & prog that came before it.

This 2CD reissue contains a wealth of bonus material, starting off with a live in studio version of "At My Home" which adds almost 3 minutes of extra jamming to take this already super song to another level. "The Way That I Feel Today" brings the bands blues & jazz leanings into play, featuring plenty of piano and flute solos to go along with rampaging guitar & organ jams. Think early Iron Butterfly at the height of their powers. The colossal "Spring" is a duet for two Hammonds, Bommarius' drums steadily keeping the beat while both organs lay down a wealth of grandiose sounds. 

If you are a Hammond organ lover, this is the song for you. "I Wanna Stay" is pummeling hard rock not far removed from early Deep Purple or Uriah Heep, as is "Time Can't Take it Away", with rippling bass, wah-wah guitar riffs, Hammond, and multi-part vocal harmonies soaring to the heavens. A few demo tracks of pretty sub-par quality are also included, the very proggy "Winter", the bluesy pop piece "I Saw the World", and the completely different, R'n'B tinged number "You Are Under My Skin", which appears to be a Steve Robinson solo piece recorded much later. Though the booklet is sadly all in German, it no doubt contains a wealth of information on this long forgotten but totally formidable band. If you love discovering heavy rock rarities from the '70s, this little gem from Twenty Sixty Six and Then will need to be on your immediate radar. Fans of hard rock guitar & Hammond organ certainly need apply!! 
by Pete Pardo
Tracks
Disc 1 
1.  At My Home (Gerhard Mrozeck, Steve Robinson, Geff Harrison) - 05:02
2.  Autumn (Steve Robinson, Geff Harrison) - 09:05
3.  Butterking (Steve Robinson, Geff Harrison) - 07:20
4.  Reflections On The Future (Veit Marvos, Geff Harrison) - 15:47
5.  How Would You Feel (Veit Marvos, Geff Harrison) - 03:22
6.  At My Home (Studio Live Version) (Gerhard Mrozeck, Steve Robinson, Geff Harrison) - 07:58
Disc 2
1.  The Way That I Feel Today (Studio Live Version) (Veit Marvos, Geff Harrison) - 11:11
2.  Spring (duet for two Hammonds, rehearsal) (Steve Robinson) - 13:02
3.  I Wanna Stay (the Munich session) (Steve Robinson, Gerhard Mrozeck, Veit Marvos, Geff Harrison) - 03:59
4.  Time Can't Take It Away (the Munich session) (Veit Marvos, Geff Harrison) - 04:40
5.  Winter (Demo 1970) (Gerhard Mrozeck, Steve Robinson, Geff Harrison) - 07:17
6.  I Saw The World (Demo 1970) (Gerhard Mrozeck, Steve Robinson, Geff Harrison) - 04:30
7.  You Are Under My Skin (Steve Robinson) - 04:34

Twenty Sixty Six And Then
*Geff Harrison - Lead Vocals
*Gerhard Mrozeck - Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
*Veit Marvos - Keyboards
*Dieter Bauer - Bass
*Steve Robinson - Organ, Piano, Vibraphone, Synthesizer, Mellotron, Vocals
*Konstatin Heinrich Bommarius - Drums
Guests
*Wolfgang Schönbrot - Flute
*Curt Cress - Drums
*Davy Crockett - Bass
*Donna Summer - Vocals
*Thomas Klama - Guitar

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Friday, September 22, 2017

The Humblebums - Open Up The Door (1970 uk, wonderful folk rock with baroque and psych shades, feat Gerry Rafferty, 2006 japan remaster and expanded)



Scottish folk outfit the Humblebums aren't perhaps as well known as their two main individual members: Gerry Rafferty, who later scored hits with Stealers Wheel and as a solo artist, and Billy Connolly, who left music to become an internationally successful stand-up comedian. Connolly actually founded the group in 1965, along with guitarist Tam Harvey; both had been regulars on the Glasgow folk circuit, and Connolly had previously been playing old-time country music in a group called the Skillet Lickers.

The duo quickly became a popular attraction in Glasgow's folk clubs, particularly as Connolly honed his humorous between-song patter, which became an increasingly large part of their already whimsical act. After a few years of local celebrity, the Humblebums recorded their debut album, First Collection of Merrie Melodies, for the Transatlantic label, employing bassist Ronnie Rae to flesh out their sound; the repertoire was split between traditional folk songs and Connolly originals. 

Not long after the album's release, budding singer/songwriter Gerry Rafferty (a former member of a beat group called Fifth Column) approached the duo after one of their gigs for feedback on his original songs. He wound up being invited to join the group, officially making them a trio. Rafferty's songs soon took a prominent place in their repertoire, which led to friction with Tam Harvey; he departed around half a year into Rafferty's tenure. Toward the end of 1969, Rafferty and Connolly entered the studio together and cut the second Humblebums LP, The New Humblebums, which began to feature brass and woodwind arrangements. With Rafferty's pop instincts, the Humblebums grew more popular on the live circuit than ever, and they recorded another album in a similar vein, 1970's Open Up the Door. 

However, there was growing dissension between Rafferty and Connolly. Rafferty's material had a more serious bent than Connolly's lighthearted, dryly witty offerings, and Connolly's comedy bits were taking up a large portion of the Humblebums' stage show, to the point where Rafferty wanted him to cut the comedy altogether. Moreover, the extra session musicians who were used on Open Up the Door made it difficult for the duo to capture the feel of the record on stage. It was no surprise when the Humblebums broke up in 1971. Rafferty moved on to Stealers Wheel, best known for their hit "Stuck in the Middle With You," and later went solo, scoring a huge hit with "Baker Street." Connolly, meanwhile, realized that stand-up comedy was his true calling, and in a few short years became one of the most popular comedians not only in Scotland, but the whole U.K., with a career that's spanned decades. 
by Steve Huey
Tracks
1. My Apartment (Billy Connolly) - 2:53
2. I Can't Stop Now (Gerry Rafferty) - 4:47
3. Open Up The Door (Billy Connolly) - 3:34
4. Mary Of The Mountains (Billy Connolly) - 3:08
5. All The Best People Do It (Gerry Rafferty) - 3:00
6. Steamboat Row (Gerry Rafferty) - 2:09
7. Mother (Billy Connolly) - 3:02
8. Shoeshine Boy (Gerry Rafferty) - 3:19
9. Cruisin' (Billy Connolly) - 3:24
10.Keep It To Yourself (Gerry Rafferty) - 3:19
11.Oh No (Billy Connolly) - 2:22
12.Song For Simon (Gerry Rafferty) - 2:23
13.Harry (Billy Connolly) - 3:04
14.My Singing Bird (Traditional) - 3:31
15.Half A Mile (Church Version) (Gerry Rafferty) - 4:50
16.Half A Mile (Backing Track) (Gerry Rafferty) - 3:44
17.Continental Song (Gerry Rafferty) - 3:35
18.Continental Song (Backing Track) (Gerry Rafferty) - 3:11
19.Time (Billy Connolly) - 1:29
20.Mother (Live) (Billy Connolly) - 2:42
Tracks 15 - 19  Outtakes from "Open Up The Door" sessions.
Track 20 Live BBC Radio One Session Recorded 23 February 1970

The Humblebums
*Billy Connolly  - Guitar, Vocals
*Gerry Rafferty  - Guitar, Vocals
With
*Terry Cox  - Drums
*Barry Dransfield  - Violin
*Bernie Holland  - Guitar

1978-79  Gerry Rafferty - City To City / Night Owl (double disc set)

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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Thundermug - Strikes (1972 canada, stunning classic hard rock, 2010 remaster)



Once billed as 'the heaviest band in the world', London, Ontario's Thundermug features Joe DeAngelis on vocals, Bill Durst on guitar and vocals, Ed Pranskus on drums and Jim Corbett on bass. Writing very unusual songs with the most intense driving beat, they toured Canada and the States during the 70's. Greg Hambleton signed Thundermug in 1972 and his Axe Records released their first single "You Really Got Me" (AXE 3) followed by "Africa" (AXE 4) in 1972, from the 'Thundermug Strikes' album.

"Africa" was their most successful single and it became a cult favourite on Doug Morris' independent Big Tree label in the States. EMI licensed ‘Strikes’ in Europe and CBS released a US compilation in 1973. Their 2nd Axe album "Orbit" was recorded and released in late 1973 followed by their 3rd Axe album 'Ta-Daa' in 1974; released in the US by Mercury Records.

Bill continues to tour under his own name The Bill Durst Band and continues to write songs with Joe Deangelis. Ed records and performs under the name Izzy Bartok while both Jim and Ed tour as sidemen in various bands. 

Their first review: 
"Boy, do these guys ever strike!- with a knockout punch! They hit so hard, in fact, that a good description of them would be London's answer to Led Zeppelin. What else can you say about a group that is determined to blow a speaker each time it appears live or that has put together an album of original rockers that pound their way into your brain? " 
by Joe Matyas, London Free Press, 1972

Tracks
1. Africa (Bill Durst, Joe de Angelis) - 3:19
2. Page 125 / What Would You Do / Help Father Sun (Bill Durst, Joe de Angelis) - 10:21
3. And They Danced (Bill Durst, Joe de Angelis) - 4:18
4. You Really Got Me (Ray Davies) - 2:25
5. Fortunes Umbrella (Bill Durst) - 4:48
9. Jane "J" James (Bill Durst, Joe de Angelis, Ed Pranskus, James Corbett) - 2:54
7. Will They Ever (Bill Durst, Joe de Angelis, Ed Pranskus, James Corbett) - 4:00
8. Where Am I (Bill Durst, Joe de Angelis, Ed Pranskus, James Corbett) - 4:50

Thundermug
*Joe de Angelis - Guitar, Vocals
*James Corbett - Bass
*Bill Durst - Guitar, Vocals
*Ed Pranskus - Drums

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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Ivory - Ivory (1968 us, exceptional west coast psych, 2002 remaster)



Ivory may be the finest Jefferson Airplane album not by Jefferson Airplane themselves. It is not quite a masterpiece on a par with Surrealistic Pillow, but it easily holds its own with many of the second-tier albums from the band's prime era. Ivory -- and producers Les Brown Jr. and Al Schmitt -- definitely knew how to get the most out of their relatively minimalistic setup. It would be difficult to over-praise the abilities of Kenny Thomure and Mike McCauley, who exhibit a near-telepathic partnership on their instruments, while Christine Christman's full-bodied vocals are room-filling powerful -- all that plus a really first-rate studio drummer. 

Lyrically Ivory mostly dispensed with topics of amorousness, instead concentrating on far-out, cosmic concerns ranging from the stars to such nebulous ideas of the inner dimension as "infinite realms of peace" to more era-endemic principles like freedom. This does date the album, but the music is so often such a heady, enveloping thrill that it scarcely matters. The songs are mostly strong. The opening "Silver Rains" is perhaps the album's most potent track. A bit ominous and spooky, a bit chaotic and wired, it displays just how dynamic and forceful Christman's vocals could be. Nearly as stellar is the awesome garage psych of "A Thought," complete with guitars so fuzzy you could get a buzz off them and intertwining organ and piano lines that lead into a brief but scintillating rave-up with some of the boogie funk looseness of Traffic.

The album's most beautiful moment, however, is the tender "Losin' Hold," a song with more than a slight resemblance to the give-and-take duets perfected by Marty Balin and Grace Slick. It is nearly up to the standards of the classic ballads on Surrealistic Pillow. There are a couple of dull spots during the album's second half, and Ivory wasn't really able to develop a distinctive personality of their own -- one can only bemoan the band's early demise and speculate how they might have gone on to develop -- but borrowed sound and style or not, the band's sole album stands up as menacing, tough-nosed psychedelia loaded with flashes of genuine brilliance. 
by Stanton Swihart
Tracks
1. Silver Rains (Christine Christman, Kenny Thomure, Mike McAuley, Tony Christinetian) - 3:53
2. Free And Easy (Christine Christman, Kenny Thomure) - 3:45
3. Losin' Hold (Kenny Thomure) - 2:59
4. Laugh (Kenny Thomure) - 2:15
5. A Thought (Christine Christman) - 3:23
6. I Of The Garden (Christine Christman) - 3:25
7. All In My Mind (Kenny Thomure) - 3:32
8. A Light (Christine Christman, Kenny Thomure) - 2:17
9. Last Laugh (Kenny Thomure, Wark) - 2:22
10.Grey November (Christine Christman) - 4:42

The Ivory
*Michael McCauley - Keyboards, Vocals
*Christine Christman - Vocals
*Ken Thomure - Guitar, Vocals

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Sunday, September 17, 2017

Gordon Lightfoot - Sundown (1974 canada, brilliant folk rock, audio fidelity vinyl issue)



Sundown is a fine album which weaves conventional folk and pop strands into a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. The polish of Lightfoot's singing has tended in the past to undermine the seriousness of his songs, inviting the listener to appreciate his records mainly as aural artifacts rather than explore their contents. But most of Sundown's 12 songs are so evocative that they prohibit such easy perusal.

Lightfoot's singing is almost crooning—a style which under-states and redeems the rhetorical and sentimental conventions intrinsic to all formal songwriting. Producer Lenny Waronker has outdone himself helping Lightfoot achieve a balance between surface and substance, by providing a varied instrumental palette, richly acoustic and adorned by some excellent string charts from Nick DeCaro.

Lightfoot's reflections are those of a mature man, capable of strong romantic and political emotions, tempered by a suave sexuality and an elegiac mysticism. "Somewhere U.S.A." is a lovely evocation of romantic complications experienced during the daze of travel. "High And Dry" also celebrates travel and uses the image of a ship and its different skippers to affirm continuities. The six-minute "Seven Island Suite" is the album's most ambitious cut, and presents an elusive apocalyptic vision. More incisive are "Sundown," an ominous assertion of sexual jealousy, and "Circle Of Steel," a protest song about the antagonisms of welfare and poverty.

The album's last and most powerful cut, "Too Late for Prayin'" is perhaps Lightfoot's finest creation. A modified hymn, somewhat reminiscent of Paul Simon's "American Tune," "Too Late" is both a prayer for our spiritual restoration and a lament for its absence. It is the work of a master craftsman whose endurance and prolificacy have yet to receive just recognition in the United States.
by Stephen Holden
Tracks
1. Somewhere U.S.A. - 2:55
2. High, Dry - 2:17
3. Seven Island Suite - 6:03
4. Circle Of Steel - 2:49
5. Is There Anyone Home - 3:19
6. The Watchman's Gone - 4:20
7. Sundown - 3:37
8. Carefree Highway - 3:45
9. The List - 3:10
10.Too Late For Prayin' - 4:15
Words and Music by Gordon Lightfoot

Musicians
*Gordon Lightfoot - Lead, Backing Vocals, Six, Twelve String Acoustic Guitars, Chimes, Bells, High String Guitar
*Terry Clements - Acoustic Guitar
*Nick De Caro - Accordion, Horns, Orchestration, Piano, Strings
*Jim Gordon - Percussion, Drums
*Rick Haynes - Bass Guitar
*Milt Holland - Percussion, Congas
*Gene Martynec - Moog Synthesizer
*Red Shea - Dobro, Electric, Acoustic, Classical Guitars, Slide Dobro
*Catherine Smith - Harmony Vocals
*John Stockfish - Bass Guitar
*Jack Zaza - English Horn, Recorder

more Gordon Lightfoot
1965-84  Complete Greatest Hits
1966-67  Lightfoot! / The Way I Feel
1976  Summertime Dream  

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Friday, September 15, 2017

Creation Of Sunlight - Creation Of Sunlight (1968 us, elegant trippy psych)



They started off as Sunlights Seven and recorded an LP entitled Sunstroke in 1968. This recording never got beyond the acetate stage by DCT Recorders and is a monster, monster rarity that has not been reissued. The picture of it below, taken from the book 1001 Record Collector Dreams, shows that at least 5 songs were recorded, 2 of which did not show up on their eventual LP for Windi Records. These are Sevens Theme and Judy In Disguise. The other 3 songs shown in the picture, David, Light Without Heat and In The Middle Of Happy were released on their eventual LP, but probably as re-recorded versions. 

After the Sunstroke project was scrapped, the band hooked up with Windi Records and recorded a 7" under the name of Sunlight. This 7" consisted of Colors Of Love and Sometimes A Woman and was released under catalogue number W-1001 and W-1002. The versions of these songs are different than the ones that appeard on their LP. It is possible that these versions appeared on the flip side of the Sunstroke acetate. I have read that a non-LP 45 was released by Sunlights Seven, but have never heard or read anything else about that release so I suspect that this may be the item in question.

Finally settling on the name Creation Of Sunlight, they continued recording for Windi, finally releasing their self-titled LP and one 7" later in 1968. Their self-titled album on Windi WS-1001 contains 10 songs, 8 of which are original compositions with Gary Young and Jerry Griffin doing most of the songwriting duties. Interestingly, the credits for David, which was not written by the band, differ on the 7" and the LP. The entire album is absolutely great, loaded with organ and fuzz guitar just oozing with that acid and sunshine vibe. Original copies of this LP almost never turn up for sale and when they do, expect a really nice copy to reach four figures. This is one of the (too) few rarities that can musically justify their price tag. The only vinyl reissue has been a European bootleg on the "Windi" label. This is a nice sounding and nice looking job and it too seldom comes up for sale.
by John E. Midnight
Tracks
1. David (Daughrety, Prophet) - 4:18
2. Rushhour Blues (Gary Young, Jerry Griffin) - 3:27
3. Light Without Heat (Gary Young) - 3:45
4. In The Middle Of Happy (Gary Young) - 4:31
5. Hammonds Eggs (Jerry Griffin) - 4:54
6. Sometimes A Woman (G.C Prophe) - 3:20
7. Second Thoughts (Gary Young) - 3:16
8. Seven Times Infinty (Carl Estrella, Gary Young, Jerry Griffin, Steve Montague) - 3:42
9. Colors Of Love (Gary Young) - 6:05
10.The Fun Machine (Gary Young, Jerry Griffin) - 2:32

The Creation Of Sunlight
*Gary Young - Lead Vocals
*Carl Estrella - Lead Guitar
*Don Sain - Rhythm Guitar
*Steve Montague - Bass Guitar
*Jerry Griffin - Keyboards, Vocals
*Bob Morgan - Drums
*Ron Clark - Percussion, Flute, Saxophone

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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Pete Brown And Piblokto! - Thousands On A Raft (1970 uk, essential psych prog rock, 2009 digipak remaster)



Pete Brown is known chiefly as sometime lyricist for Cream, putting words into Jack Bruce's mouth on I Feel Free, White Room etc. After their split, he got his own outfit together, Pete Brown's Battered Ornaments, recording one album with them, A Meal You Can Shake Hands With in the Dark, before the rest of the band sacked him just before they played Hyde Park with the Stones (and, of course, King Crimson). Wasting no time, he formed Piblokto! releasing (deep breath) Things May Come & Things May Go, But the Art School Dance Goes on Forever within the year. 

Later the same year, their second and final album, Thousands on a Raft, appeared, breaking Brown's run of ridiculously lengthily-titled albums. In case you're wondering, aside from the Titanic and Concorde, the sleeve depicts several slices of beans on toast floating in a pond (not sure how they managed that), the album title apparently being cockney (non-rhyming) slang for the aforementioned culinary delicacy. Several band members had changed in the months between the two records, the fresh blood making their presence felt immediately, as opener Aeroplane Head Woman's Cream-like tones assault your speakers. 

After a piano ballad, Station Song Platform Two, the album goes completely bonkers, with the 17-minute semi-improvised Highland Song, followed on side two by If They Could Only See Me Now Parts I & II, which is almost as long. Mellotron (definitely Dave Thompson this time round) on Station Song Platform Two, with some pleasant background MkII strings.
Planet-Mellotron
Tracks
1. Aeroplane Head Woman  (Pete Brown, Jim Mullen) - 6:44  
2. Station Song Platform Two  (Pete Brown, Jim Mullen) - 3:43  
3. Highland Song  (Jim Mullen) - 17:04
4. If They Could Only See Me (Jim Mullen) - 12:07
5. Got A Letter From A Compu  (Pete Brown, Jim Mullen) - 5:51
6. Thousands On A Raft (Pete Brown, Jim Mullen) - 7:07

Musicians
*Jim Mullen - Guitar, Percussion, Bass
*Steve Glover - Bass Guitar, Percussion
*Rob Tait - Drums, Percussion
*Dave Thompson - Keyboards, Percussion, Soprano Saxophone , Mellotron
*Pete Brown - Vocals, Talking Drum, Congas

1972  Bond And Brown - Two Heads Are Better Than One (2009 remaster)

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Monday, September 11, 2017

The Elecric Toilet - In The Hands Of Karma (1970 us, impressive psych rock, 2002 issue)



When you first hear the name Electric Toilet your brain will, almost certainly, fire up a proper bell-ringing, shark-jumping alert. After all, by 1970, when this Tupelo band's album was released on the Nasco Revelations label, the hippie revolution's heavy lifting was done and giving yourself such a strikingly silly name could only add to the idea you were some newbie, face-painted arriviste. However, In The Hands Of Karma is, in fact, a fantastic record, as one listen to the album opener Within Your State Of Mind will confirm. Built on a supremely solid and utterly funky backing track, the Toilet – shall we call them that? – stretch out for a full eight minutes, allowing plenty of room for dancefloor-friendly Hammond-pumping (somewhere between a lobotomised Booker T and a youthful Charlatans) and a great ocean of skilfully manipulated feedback that weaves in and out of each instrument for a full five minutes. 

Revelations and Don't Climb Nobody Else's Ladder are far bluesier than most psychedelic bands would attempt (the latter is positively Stax-ian), while the title track is a down-tempo fringe-shaker lifted onto a whole new plane by a richly melodic Gospel chorus. Something raucous was clearly going down wherever the Toilet hung out as, even 47 years later, their mix of country-inflected, choogling blues-rock and acid-fuzz still sounds quite remarkable. As befits a gang of young men with heads bursting full of ideas, they played with the idea of death: "is there a reason why, for me to keep on living?" they sang on Goodbye My Darling (whose four-minute outro is an absolute treat in itself), "I'm ready to die…" About a fortnight after this was released (in minute quantities, an original will cost you about $400) two of the members died in a car accident and that was the end of that for The Electric Toilet and everyone who sailed in her.
by Rob Fitzpatrick

Alfred Wayne Reynolds and three other bandmembers were on their way to Searcy, Arkansas to pick up band equipment. Before reaching their destination they were involved in a autombile accident,inwhich,two of the bandmembers were killed. Alfred Wayne Reynolds was one, the other Grady Pannell...
Tracks
1. In The Hands Of Karma - 4:53
2. Within Your State Of Mind - 8:05
3. Revelations - 3:58
4. Mississippi Hippy - 3:15
5. Goodbye My Darling (Betts, Davis) - 6:18
6. Dont Climb Nobody Else's Ladder - 2:52
All songs by Dave Hall except where noted

Personnel
*Dave Hall - Vocals, Guitar
*Alfred Wayne Reynolds - Bass
*Jimmy Morgan - Drums
*Johnny Wigginton - Guitar
*Larry Nichols - Keyboard
*Grady Pannell - Lead Vocals

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Saturday, September 9, 2017

The Youngbloods - Good And Dusty (1971 us, beautiful folk country psych roots 'n' roll, 2003 remaster)



The cover photo of Good and Dusty album was like a picture postcard from California with an updated color snapshot of old friends. Band relocated to a small town north of San Francisco, got their own label and studio - relaxed, basic and down to earth.  The material shows the band's undying love for blues, country, R'n'B and good old Rock 'n' Roll.

The album is almost entirely covers of older material - blues ("Pontic Blues"), R&B ("Stagger Lee"), "Let the Good Times Roll", even the freaking hand jive song.  Now with new bassist Mike Kane, the band is almost roots-rock: straight versions with guitars, occasional piano and Young's sweet tenor.  

Banana avoids the electric piano, and the jazzyness of Elephant Mountain and Rock Festival only flares up in a few spots. Young has two songs, the blues of "Drifting and Drifting" and the better "Light Shine", an attempt at an uplifting anthem ("People let your light shine"). Earthquake Anderson shows up on harmonica again on a few tracks. 

Banana's contribution is the "Hippie from Olema #5", a thinly-veiled retaliatory shot aimed directly at Merle Haggard's "Okie From Muskogee" a 1969 country smash that raked San Francisco's hippies over the Coals. The title track is a minute and a half of instrumental racket).  It all sounds fine, the session has a Saturday night roadhouse vibe that makes you feel like moseying out to the back porch for a smoking plate of ribs ans a brew.
by Jud Cost
Tracks
1. Stagger Lee (Al Price, Harold Logan) - 3:15
2. That's How Strong My Love Is (Roosevelt Jamison) - 4:47
3. Willie And The Hand Jive (Johnny Otis) - 3:09
4. Circus Fire (Coral Miller) - 3:01
5. Hippie From Olema #5 (Lowell Levinger) - 2:01
6. Good And Dusty (Jesse Colin Young, Lowell Levinger, Joe Bauer, Michael Kane) - 1:29
7. Let The Good Times Roll (Leonard Lee) - 3:47
8. Drifting And Drifting (Jesse Colin Young) - 4:14
9. Pontiac Blues (Willie Sonny Boy Williamson) - 3:57
10.Moonshine Is The Sunshine (Jeffrey Cain) - 3:41
11.Will The Circle Be Unbroken (Traditional) - 3:20
12.I'm A Hog For You Baby (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) - 3:32
13.Light Shine (Jesse Colin Young) - 3:44

The Youngbloods
*Jesse Colin Young - Solo Voice , Guitar , Tenor Saxophone
*Banana (Lowell Levinger) - Guitars, Voice, Piano , Mandolin , Banjo
*Michael Kane - Bass , French Horn , Voice, Handset
*Joe Bauer - Battery
Guest
*Earthquake Anderson - Harmonica

1967/69  The Youngbloods / Earth Music / Elephant Mountain (plus 2014 japan blu spec issues)
1969  Elephant Mountain (Sundazed expanded and 2014 japan blu spec issue)
1970  Rock Festival (2003 Sundazed) 
1971  Beautiful! Live In San Francisco (Sundazed edition)
1972  High On A Ridge Top (Sundazed remaster)

Jesse Colin Young releases
1972  Together
1973  Song For Juli (2009 remaster)
1974  Light Shine
1976  On The Road (Japan remaster)

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Friday, September 8, 2017

Rare Earth - One World (1971 us, fascinating classic groovy rock, 2015 audiophile remaster)



One World followed almost exactly a year after Ecology, and yielded another hit single in a longtime classic, "I Just Want to Celebrate." The song peaked on the pop charts at number seven and the album broke the Top 50. 

One World is an underrated album produced by Tom Baird with a long version of "What I'd Say" by Ray Charles, and original cuts like "If I Die", a remarkable song written by Rivera since the prospect of a soldier at war (supposedly from Vietnam) about to die ... rain is falling on my head, pretty soon I might be dead, the end is here, Lord, it's plain to see, I guess my country's made a fool of me .... which could be interpreted by Crosby, Stills & Nash. 

"Any Man Can Be a Fool" rhythmic, melodic rock composition with soul influences by the bassist John Persh in which it speaks of the wise advices of his mother, or "The Seed", another great theme by Pete Rivera with funk rock, jazz rock and blues traces and a phenomenal synergy between first-rate instrumentalists and outstanding solo guitarist Ray Monette ... tell me where will it go from here .
Tracks
1. What'd I Say (Ray Charles) - 7:14
2. If I Die (Pete Rivera) - 3:30
3. Seed (Pete Rivera) - 3:32
4. I Just Want To Celebrate (Dino Fekaris, Nick Zesses) - 3:37
5. Someone To Love (Gil Bridges) - 3:47
6. Any Man Can Be A Fool (John Persh) - 3:35
7. Road (Tom Baird) - 3:36
8. Under God's Light (Eddie Guzman, Ray Monette, Mark Olson) - 4:51

Rare Earth
*Gil Bridges - Woodwinds, Vocals, Percussion, Flute
*Ray Monette - Guitars, Vocals
*Mark Olson - Keyboards, Vocals
*John Persh - Bass, Vocals
*Pete Rivera - Drums, Lead Vocals, Percussion
*Ed Guzman - Conga, Percussion

1968  Dreams/Answers (2017 remaster)
1969-74 Fill Your Head (three cds box set, five studio albums plus outtakes and alternative versions)

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Monday, September 4, 2017

Graham Bond - Solid Bond (1970 uk, spectacular prog jazz psych blues rock, 2004 extra tracks remaster)



When Solid Bond was issued in 1970, it was no surprise that its cover prominently billed Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker, John McLaughlin, Jon Hiseman, and Dick Heckstall-Smith in addition to the man who actually led the band who recorded the material. For the leader of the Graham Bond Organisation was, in 1970, less celebrated than any of the aforementioned musicians, particularly in the United States, where Bruce and Baker (as part of Cream), Hiseman and Heckstall-Smith (as part of Colosseum), and McLaughlin were all far more widely known than keyboardist-singer Bond himself.

Yet as serious fans of 1960s British rock know, Bond made a hugely underrated contribution to blues-rock as leader of the group in which these musicians played before moving on to more commercially successful projects. And while Solid Bond might have at first glance seemed to be a collection of leftovers issued to exploit the fame of Bond's one-time sidemen, in fact the recordings—some from 1963, when Bond was still playing jazz, and some from 1966, when he'd fully delved into an idiosyncratic mixture of blues, rock, jazz, and soul—were not just of considerable historical interest, but also of substantial musical merit.

The three tracks on Solid Bond from 1963 were likely the most hotly anticipated by 1970 rock fans owing to the presence of Bruce, Baker, and McLaughlin, yet at the same time probably not at all like what most such listeners were expecting. Recorded live at London's Klooks Kleek club, these present the Graham Bond Quartet, as the band were then known, as a rather straightforward modern jazz outfit. Bond at this point was concentrating on alto sax rather than keyboards; there were no vocals; and, despite the inclusion of a Jack Bruce number titled "Ho Ho Country Kicking Blues," there was barely a hint of the blues and R&B that would by the following year supersede jazz as the band's main influences. Bond and McLaughlin split the composing credits for "The Grass Is Greener," while the third number, "Doxy," was a cover of an oft-interpreted tune by jazz sax great Sonny Rollins.

Still, it's a valuable document of the musicians' little-known (in 1970, at any rate) straightahead jazz roots, though Bond and his group left these behind soon after McLaughlin left and saxophonist Heckstall-Smith joined in late 1963. Over the next couple years the Graham Bond Organisation, as they billed themselves, would record a couple LPs and a few singles that saw them embrace the British R&B boom wholeheartedly, albeit with a jazzier spin than most of the bands on that scene, emphasizing Bond's demonic organ and growling vocals.

The bulk of Solid Bond, however, comes from a 1966 session recorded not long after Bruce and Baker had teamed with Eric Clapton to form Cream. With Baker replaced by young jazz veteran Jon Hiseman, the group entered the studio to cut nine tracks as a keyboards-sax-drums trio. Just as much as the mid-'60s recordings by the Bruce-Baker lineup, these reveal Bond as an originator of a highly original and invigorating blues-rock-R&B-jazz fusion, though owing to unusual circumstances they wouldn't see the light of day for several years.

As Harry Shapiro reports in his 1992 biography Graham Bond: The Mighty Shadow, the material was recorded after the group were given 500 pounds to make a record by Polydor, the session for all nine tracks taking place at London's famed Olympic Studios between midnight and 6am. "Graham and Dick were both in worlds of their own," remembers Hiseman today. "I negotiated the deal and chose the studio with Eddie Kramer." An engineer most famed for working extensively with Jimi Hendrix shortly afterward, Kramer had already worked with Jon when Hiseman drummed on British jazz pianist Peter Lemer's album Local Colour.

At the time the trio entered the studio, continues Jon, "Graham was incensed at what he saw as a betrayal when Ginger forced Jack from the band and then a few months later left it to form Cream with Jack. Partly out of pique and partly because the band was always in such financial trouble, he decided to play the bass with his left hand. This gave everybody a lot of freedom and I was able to develop my two bass drum playing without muddying up the bass parts. As I remember my goal was not to make any concessions to recording (which was very usual then) and to capture the live sound of the band; to that extent I think these tracks were very representative of the live show. I was most pleased with the sound at the time and it was a magical experience for me, and was the start of my real interest in recording and producing that led to me building my own studio in the 1982."

Oddly, three of the songs ("Neighbour Neighbour," "Walkin' in the Park," and "Last Night") were re-recordings of tunes Bond had already done with the Bruce-Baker lineup on the Organisation's two mid-'60s LPs, while a fourth, "Long Legged Baby," had been cut by that band on their 1964 debut single. A fifth, "Only Sixteen" (a Bond original, not the famous Sam Cooke hit), had been in Graham's repertoire for some time, as he'd performed it on the BBC in 1965. "Contrary to popular belief there was always a shortage of material," Hiseman explains. "Graham, deep into a serious drug habit, was not very productive. Having talked up the chance to record for months he then had very little material, hence the repeats. Actually he never wrote enough to be able to weed out poor material or to give others a chance to express views. Graham was not critical at all of his own work. If he had managed to write it, it was GREAT!"

But Bond did come up with some quality new compositions that he recorded for the first time on this night. "Springtime in the City," "Can't Stand It," and especially "It's Not Goodbye" have the menacing quality unique to Graham in the British R&B/rock world, while "Green Onions" is a liberally jazzy interpretation of the classic Booker T. & the MG's instrumental. "I don't think 'copying' was part of Graham's vocabulary," observes Hiseman. "He considered himself a creative genius and tried always to surround himself with 'originals.' He was bright enough to realize that copies didn't count."

Yet while the nine tracks would have provided the foundation for a solid LP, they would stay in the vault for some time. As for the 500 pounds they'd been given by Polydor to make the record, says Hiseman, "at the time both Dick and I were convinced [Bond] spent the money on heroin. It was the band's money—not just his—and we never saw a penny from those recordings. The personnel changed at Polydor at that time, and the chap who commissioned the recording was replaced. His successor hated the whole idea of Graham's music and his flamboyant outfits. His job was to get hits for the company and Graham's was not hit music—something Graham never came to terms with."

Indeed, the Graham Bond Organisation would not release an LP while Hiseman was in the band from around mid-1966 to late 1967, when he and Heckstall-Smith departed. After playing together briefly in John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, the pair soon formed a formidable blues-jazz-rock group of their own, Colosseum. Fittingly, the first track of Colosseum's debut album was a cover of Bond's "Walkin' in the Park," which Hiseman feels is Graham's best song, "his classic contribution. Colosseum nearly got it away as a single hit—nearly."

According to Harry Shapiro's biography, Solid Bond was assembled in 1970 when the 1966 tapes, together with the 1963 live recordings, were sold to Warner Brothers for 5000 pounds. "Considering they were recorded in six hours the tapes must have been raw," says Hiseman in retrospect. "But I 'produced' the sound in that I spoke to Eddie Kramer about how I wanted it to sound—very upfront—and he agreed. When we were having trouble getting an upfront sound out of Lansdowne Studios with Colosseum I remember playing these tapes to [Colosseum manager] Gerry Bron as an example of what I was looking for and he was impressed."

Sadly, Bond never found the success his celebrated sidemen enjoyed in his own post-Organisation career, ending his life by throwing himself in front of a London tube train in 1974. But Hiseman retains fond memories of his one-time bandleader, summarizing, "I had a wonderful adventure with Graham and his madness has always had a place in my heart. It was an honor that he saw something in an amateur drummer and encouraged it by persuading me to turn professional in his band. If nothing else Graham taught me how not to run a band and I've tried not to live up to his example!" 
by Richie Unterberger
Tracks
1. Green Onions (Steve Cropper, Booker T. Jones, Al Jackson, Jr., Lewis Steinberg ) - 5:15
2. Springtime In The City – 3:11
3. Can't Stand It – 5:07
4. Only Sixteen – 5:01
5. Last Night (The Mar Keys) - 3:37
6. Long Legged Baby – 3:12
7. Walkin' In The Park – 3:03
8. It's Not Goodbye – 4:58
9. Neighbour, Neighbour – 3:13
10.Ho Ho Country Kicking Blues (Jack Bruce) – 7:55
11.The Grass Is Greener (Graham Bond, John McLaughlin) – 9:30
12.Doxy (Sonny Rollins) – 11:13
13.Waltz For The Pig (Harry Butcher) – 2:27
14. Wade In The Water (John Group, Paul Getty) – 4:0
All songs by Graham Bond except where indicated
Bonus Tracks 13-14
Track 1-9 recorded at Olympic Sound Studios, 1966
Track 10-12 recorded as The Graham Bond Quartet, live at Klook's Kleek, June 1963
Track 13 released as single as The Who Orchestra in UK and Germany, 1966
Track 14 released as US-Single, 1966

Personnel
*Graham Bond - Organ, Alto Saxophone, Piano, Vocals
*Jack Bruce - Bass
*Ginger Baker - Drums
*John McLaughlin - Guitar
*Jon Hiseman - Drums
*Dick Heckstall Smith - Alto, Soprano Saxophones

1962-72  Graham Bond - Live At BBC And Other Stories (2015 four discs box set)
1965  The Graham Bond Organisation - The Sound Of '65 / There's A Bond Between Us
1970  Graham Bond - Holy Magick (Vinyl issue)
1972  Bond And Brown - Two Heads Are Better Than One (2009 remaster)
Related Acts
1969  Colosseum - Those Who Are About To Die Salute You
1969  Colosseum - Valentyne Suite
1970  Colosseum - Daughter Of Time
1972  Dick Heckstall Smith - A Story Ended (2006 Japan remaster)  
1970  Philamore Lincoln - The North Wind Blew South (2010 remastered edition)

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Sunday, September 3, 2017

After All - After All (1969 us, brilliant prog jazzy blues psych rock)



After All may have only been a band in the loosest sense of the term, but its only record is a quite wonderful -- if ultimately difficult to categorize -- one-shot relic of the transitional late-'60s. The four members of the combo were actually friends and acquaintances in different bands on the Tallahassee, FL, rock circuit before culling their skills together, along with lyrical assistance from young local poet and songwriter Linda Hargrove, when an opportunity to record an album in a Nashville studio presented itself. 

The resulting piece of work is the type of strangely compelling hybrid album that could only have come together in the musical gumbo of the post-psychedelic era. Drummer and primary vocalist Mark Ellerbee wrote most of the music, and his songs are basically freeform, open-ended tone poems that eschew typical verse-chorus and melodic considerations (although the odd melodic hook or harmony surfaces from time to time) for music that is much more amorphous and improvisational. There are elements of rock, R&B, blues, progressive, classical, avant-garde composition, and, to an even greater degree, jazz weaving through the music, while a thick hallucinatory cloud hovers over the whole of the album, giving it an oddly surreal and even ghostly demeanor. It is a complex and ambitious mix that doesn't always come off seamlessly, but is by and large an engaging amalgam, exploring similar territory to that being investigated during the period by much higher profile bands such as Chicago, Procol Harum, and Blood, Sweat & Tears (Ellerbee's singing, in fact, is a dead ringer for David Clayton Thomas). 

Each band member displays near virtuosity on his instrument, which allows After All to harness all its sonic influences and renders the music exciting to hear even when the songwriting drags the slightest bit or loses its way. But, for the most part, the songs are rather outstanding. "Intangible She" and the psychedelic "A Face That Doesn't Matter" play with the foreboding, seedy flair that frequently made the Doors' songs seem like such ominous musical prophecies, while "Blue Satin" is a bit more swirling and romantic but maintains an edgy sense of intangible mystery, represented by the flute that threads through the song's final moments. 

"Let It Fly," on the other hand, is pure groove, and maybe the best example of the band's playing capabilities (if not the best song), while "And I Will Follow" builds a slow, tensive burn to match the yearning nature of the lyrics before turning more wistful. Hargrove's beautifully lustful and longing words frequently create an interesting tension with the spacier instrumental interplay, and the music is even more enigmatic as a result. After All is not easy to fully enter, but it is well worth the effort. As obscurities from the era go, it may not be one of the most fascinating, but it may have some of the most accomplished musicianship. 
by Stanton Swihart 
Tracks
1. Intangible She - 7:16
2. Blue Satin - 3:46
3. Nothing Left To Do - 7:07
4. And I Will Follow - 4:51
5. Let It Fly - 4:32
6. Now What Are You Looking For? (Bill Moon) - 3:05
7. A Face That Doesn't Matter - 4:31
8. Waiting - 4:23
All Music by Mark Ellerbee, all Lyrics by Linda Hargrove except where noted.

After All
Bill Moon - Vocals, Bass
Charlie Short - Guitar
Alan Gold - Keyboards
Mark Ellerbee - Drums, Vocals

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