Thursday, March 30, 2017

Pink Fairies - Kings Of Oblivion (1972-73 uk, stunning jagged proto punk, 2002 remaster and expanded)



This was The Pink Fairies’ last stand right before the rot of inactivity from lack of funds set in and cancelled their Polydor contract. An album of soaring Marshall Superfuzz anthems and Ladbroke Grooves, this was their last album while they were still (for a short time, anyway) a cohesive unit. The undertow of Paul Rudolph leaving in 1972, the sacking Mick Wayne after one shite single and a tour cancelled after a few gigs left The Fairies down to just the rhythm section of drummer Russell Hunter and bassist Sandy Sanderson. Their old friend Mick Farren suggested a replacement guitarist he knew from years earlier who had performed at the Phun City festival he had organised. 

The guitarist was none other than Larry Wallis, who had moved onto later-period Blodwyn Pig and then UFO before Farren’s suggestion. Lazza Wallis: a true Pink Fairy if there ever was one! He brought not only his cranked Stratocaster riffing and a good sense of structured songwriting to hang his flowing reckless guitar style upon, but a gleeful sense of humour and overall wiseacre rock and roll sensibility. “City Kids” (co-written by Wallis and Sanderson) is a street punk anthem of raving, speeding, hanging out and when Wallis sings the line “Park the car/And ruuuuuun” it’s about as “Under My Wheels”-era Alice Cooper as it gets. “I Wish I Was A Girl” begins another musical fray with soaring intro guitar and Russell Hunter spraying all his cymbals like a Merseybeat Ringo on methedrine and if that’s Sanderson on bass it was his most pronounced playing ever on record. 

An elongated bridge in the middle continues as Wallis’ guitars have now four-folded into an overdubbed, pile driving ecstasy, yet it’s beyond mere boogie as the momentum keeps plateau-ing up and up. Lazza’s guitar is not only melody but rhythm as well, as Hunter and Sanderson keep getting in and out of sync and overcompensate with just thrashing it out. The title gets repeated over and over as a faded mantra to the back of this rough and ready work out. “When’s The Fun Begin?” is a Notting Hill Gate doper weaving down a deserted West London street, the only light his blurred vision can see is the reflection of street lights on the wet tarmac. It’s coiled and tense yet opiate-slackened at the same time, and Hunter’s bashing over Wallis’ foot-controlled police siren solo make the bust inevitable as the vocals are shoved into the back of a police van -- the last words a panned, repeated phrase on the fadeout.

By this time the album has such a weirdly energetic and wasted atmosphere, you wonder how they can JUST keep it from falling apart. Larry Wallis’ structured songwriting and stunningly raw liquid-feel guitar playing keeps the sole surviving rhythm section busy, and the riotous instrumental, “Raceway” is where the three-man Fairies blast-out in a mid-sized hall at full volume with bright white overhead spotlights flicker on and off in an off-beat pattern catching the three longhairs in the act of proceeding to pummel their disbelieving audience. If Russell Hunter had four arms, he still wouldn’t be hitting half as many cymbals as he does here while multiple Wallis solos are bending in the air over the trio.

The coda is a flurry of high-pitched “Axe Victim” riffing, but trapped in a mandrax haze at twice the speed. “Chambermaid” and “Street Urchin” round out an album most people weren’t expecting from The Pink Fairies at this point in time: a strong, vibrant testimony to their no-bullshit rock and roll. And live it was even shatteringly LOUDER than before, which is damn near incomprehensible and frightening to even think about. 
by The Seth Man
Tracks
1. City Kids (Larry Wallis, Duncan Sanderson) - 3:42
2. I Wish I Was A Girl (Larry Wallis) - 9:38
3. When's The Fun Begin? (Larry Wallis, Mick Farren) - 6:09
4. Chromium Plating (Larry Wallis) - 3:44
5. Raceway (Larry Wallis) - 4:05
6. Chambermaid (Larry Wallis, Duncan Sanderson, Russell  Hunter) - 3:14
7. Street Urchin (Larry Wallis) - 7:02
8. Well, Well, Well (Single Version) (Mick Wayne) - 3:56
9. Hold On (Single Version) (Mick Wayne, Duncan Sanderson, Russell  Hunter) - 4:06
10.City Kids (Alternate Mix) (Larry Wallis, Duncan Sanderson) - 3:38
11.Well, Well, Well (Alternate Mix) (Mick Wayne)- 3:20

The Pink Fairies
*Larry Wallis - Guitar, Vocals
*Duncan Sanderson - Bass, Vocals
*Russell Hunter - Drums

1971  Pink Fairies - Never Never Land (2002 extra tracks issue)  
1974-78  Wayne Kramer And The Pink Fairies - Cocaine Blues (2016 edition)

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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Wilkinson TriCycle - Wilkinson TriCycle (1969 us, great psych rock with blues and acid folk shades, 2007 reissue)



Signed by CBS's Date subsidiary,1969's "Wilkinson Tri-Cycle" was co-produced by Warren Schatz and Stephen Schlake.  Musically the set offered up an engaging mix of heavy blues-rock ('Leavin' Trunk' and 'Antique Locomotives') more trippy, pseudo-psych attack ('What Of I' and the atypical heavily orchestrated 'Pourscha Poe') and occasional unexpected jazzy touches. In the negative column the trio lacked a truly distinctive lead singer (the limited liner notes didn't credit vocalists) and their overall sound was occasionally a bit thin giving the impression this was recorded quickly and without a lot of post-production touch up. 

Positives included some great guitar work from Mello - check out his work on the rocker '9-5 '59' and with the exception of the heavily orchestrated 'David's Rush' the material boasted surprisingly memorable melodies. Curiously, a couple of reference works I've seen describe material like 'Pourscha Poe' and 'Yellow Wall' as being Beatlesque (always a creative kiss of death). Wrong. Think along the lines of late-1960s San Francisco bands and you'll be closer to the mark.  Unfotunately Date did nothing to promote the album so sales proved limited with the band calling it quits before they could release anything else.  Too bad since these guys had considerable talent. 
Tracks
1. What Of I (Richard Porter) - 5:08
2. Leavin' Trunk (S. J. Estes) - 3:24
3. David's Rush (David Mello) - 5:12
4. Pourscha Poe (Richard Porter) - 4:28
5. Antique Locomotives (David Mello) - 5:24
6. 9-5 '59 (Richard Porter) - 5:49
7. I Like Your Company (David Mello) - 5:49
8. Yellow Wall (Richard Porter, David Mello, Michael Clemens) - 3:49

The Wilkinson TriCycle
*Michael Clemens - Drums
*David Mello - Guitar
*Richard Porter - Bass

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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Christie - For All Mankind (1971-75 uk, exceptional classic rock with country traces, 2005 extra tracks remaster)



This album, coupled with their live gigs, has shown that Christie have a lasting potential which may not have been all that evident in their brace of international gold-plated singles Yellow River and San Bernadino. Indeed, Christie are one of the few British bands to have achieved an enviable worldwide acceptance in the past few years.

But it could well be that this success has slightly inhibited the thinking of the group's namesake Jeff, for on this new album it appears that he is striving to encompass both the commercial and heavy markets — a commendable but also dangerous line to follow.

It is still the immediacy of pop which is the mainstay of the industry. There is absolutely no disgrace to sell millions of singles and keeping an equal number of people entertained.

Christie have made the first inroads, and this album shows that collectively they have the ability to exploit this asset to their utmost advantage. It would be a pity if they allowed their judgement to be swayed by the inverted snobbery of others who are perhaps less successful.

For All Mankind is perhaps the first time Christie have recorded to their own personal satisfaction, and is an album which should gain them a degree of respect to add to their reputation for discovering the secret of commercial success.

With a bit of thought, more experience and careful production, their next album could well prove to be a blinder, for between them, Jeff, Vic Elmes and Paul Fenton produce some excellent instrumental work.

The plaintive title track and If Only are commendable and make a good contrast to the hardness of Martian King and Magic Highway.
New Musical Express, July 1971
Tracks
1. Magic Highway (Vic Elmes) - 5:39
2. Man Of Many Faces - 2:18
3. Picture Painter - 3:07
4. Martian King - 5:25
5. For All Mankind - 4:14
6. Peace Lovin' Man - 3:05
7. My Baby's Gone - 5:42
8. Country B. Sam (Vic Elmes) - 3:11
9. I Believe In You - 4:51
10.If Only - 4:22
11.The Dealer (Down And Losin') (Bob Ruzicka) - 2:56
12.Pleasure And Pain - 2:43
13.Alabama - 3:41
14.I'm Alive - 3:13
15.Guantanamera (José Martí, Julian Orbon, Jose Fernandez, Herminio García Wilson) - 4:52
16.Navajo (Wake Up Navajo) (Kenny Young, Richard Kerr) - 4:02
17.The Most Wanted Man In The Usa (Peter Yellowstone, Roberto Danova) - 3:02
18.Rockin' Suzanna - 3:02
All songs by Jeff Christie except where stated
Bonus Tracks 11-18

The Christie
*Jeff Christie - Bass, Vocals
*Vic Elmes - Guitar, Vocals
*MIke Blakley - Drums
With
*Lem Lubin - Bass
*Paul Fenton - Guitar
*Danny Krieger - Guitar
*Tony Ferguson - Guitar
*Roger Willis - Drums
*Graham Whyte - Guitar
*Roger Flavell - Bass

1970  Christie - Christie (2005 Remastered and Expanded)

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Monday, March 27, 2017

Christie - Christie (1970 uk, marvelous classic rock, 2005 digipak remaster and expanded)



Christie was a UK band built around singer-songwriter Jeff Christie, and fleshed out with drummer Mike Blakely, and Blakely’s former Acid Gallery bandmate Vic Elmes on guitar. The band’s one brush with fame was their first single, “Yellow River,” which reached #23 in the U.S., supported an album that sold well, and produced three separate videos (see below!). 

The follow-up single, the country-tinged “San Bernadino,” scraped its way to #100, keeping the band (technically, at least) from being labeled a one-hit wonder. The album stretches out on the pop-inflections the band found in Creedence Clearwater Revival’s roots sound, and though they didn't manage any more chart singles, neither did they load up on filler. With a lucky break, or better promotion from their U.S. label, the band could easily have been remembered for more than “Yellow River.” If you like early ’70s country-rock from Gallery, the Stampeders, as well as their more famous peers, you should check this out. This 21-track  reissue expands upon this straight up digital reissue of the album’s original thirteen tracks.
Tracks
1. Yellow River - 2:46
2. Gotta Be Free - 3:11
3. I've Got A Feeling - 2:49
4. New York City (Mike Blakley, Vic Elmes) - 3:07
5. Inside Looking Out - 2:42
6. Put Your Money Down - 2:43
7. Down The Mississippi Line - 2:52
8. San Bernadino - 3:12
9. Country Boy - 2:38
10.Johnny One Time - 3:25
11.Coming Home Tonight - 2:58
12.Here I Am - 2:37
13.Until The Dawn - 2:39
14.Everything's Gonna Be Alright - 2:37
15.Freewheelin' Man - 2:54
16.Inside Looking Out (Single B-side Version) - 2:42
17.Iron Horse - 2:52
18.Every Now And Then (Vic Elmes) - 3:19
19.Fools Gold - 3:10
20.California Sunshine (Lem Lubin) - 3:06
21.Born To Lose (Vic Elmes) - 2:47
All songs by Jeff Christie except where stated
Bonus Tracks 14-21

The Christie
*Jeff Christie - Bass, Vocals
*Vic Elmes - Guitar, Vocals
*MIke Blakley - Drums
With
*Lem Lubin - Bass
*Paul Fenton - Guitar
*Danny Krieger - Guitar

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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Ashton Gardner And Dyke - Ashton Gardner And Dyke (1969 uk, stunning jazz prog rhythm 'n' blues)



The debut album by one of Britain's lesser-starred supergroup is a markedly different beast than fans of their former bands, the Remo Four and Creation, might have expected. Heavily influenced by the trio's shared love for jazz-rock, its nine songs are moods as much as music, only occasionally stepping out into something instantly recognizable -- distinctive covers of the Bee Gees' "New York Mining Disaster 1941" and Mose Allison's "Young Man Blues" are highlights. But the album peaks with its closing track, "As It Was in the First Place" a lengthy Ashton adaptation from the classical "Adagio from Concierto de Aranjuez."

With an arrangement borrowed from the Modern Jazz Quartet's own interpretation of the piece (among Tony Ashton's idols, few were more significant than MJQ's John Lewis), Ashton and Roy Dyke had already had one stab at the track, recording it with producer George Harrison during the last days of the Remo Four. The new version completely rewired that earlier performance, and stands as one of the pinnacles of British jazz-rock. The single "Maiden Voyage" offers another, while the group's sense of humor is well-evidenced by the similarly titled and themed pieces "Billy and his Piano Without" and "Billy and His Piano With." 
by Dave Thompson
Tracks
1. Rolling Home - 3:31
2. Why Did You Go - 2:59
3. The Falling Song - 3:31
4. Young Man Ain't Nothing In The World These Days (Mose Allison) - 4:04
5. Billy And His Piano Without - 4:00
6. Maiden Voyage - 3:56
7. New York Mining Disaster 1941 (Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb) - 5:03
8. Picture Sliding Down The Wall - 4:40
9. Billy And His Piano With - 3:49
10.Vaggsang - 1:38
11.As It Was In The First Place - 6:30
12.Maiden Voyage, Long Version - 5:23
13.See The Sun In My Eyes (Melouny) - 3:26
14.Resurrection Shuffle - 3:17
15.Can You Get It - 3:32
All songs written by Tony Ashton except where noted
Bonus Tracks 12-15

Personnel
*Tony Ashton - Keyboards, Organ, Piano, Vocals
*Kim Gardner -  Bass
*Roy Dyke - Drums

1970  Ashton, Gardner And Dyke - The Worst Of
1971  Ashton, Gardner and Dyke - Let It Roll / Live
Related Acts
1967-68  Remo Four - Smile
1964-66  The Creation - How Does It Feel To Feel  
1964-66  The Birds - Collectors' Guide To Rare British Birds
1971  Green Bullfrog - The Green Bullfrog Sessions

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Friday, March 24, 2017

Mason Proffit - Movin' Toward Happiness (1971 us, amazing folk psych rural rock, 2006 edition)



Based in Chicago, Mason Proffit played a style of country-rock that owed less to the more pop-oriented style of L.A. bands like Poco than it did to the newly bluegrass-happy Grateful Dead of American Beauty and its emerging offshoot, the New Riders of the Purple Sage. Despite the pedal steel guitar, fiddle, banjo, and Dobro, the Talbot brothers, who led the group, were less about a new Nashville than about a fusion of the Old West with hippiedom. They lamented the plight of Native Americans in "Flying Arrow," and while they could pick a mean hoedown on "Old Joe Clark," their version somehow managed to express antiwar sentiments. 

They recognized the connection between the cowboy myth and the independent spirit of truck drivers, and they managed to mix it all in with a sort of primitive Christianity. In this, they were very much of their time. Mike Cameron's "Good Friend of Mary's" fit into the emerging Jesus cult that identified the Christian savior as a kind of proto-hippie, preaching peace and love while wandering the country in long hair and sandals, and the Talbots sang it with their warm tenor harmony in complete sincerity. Such music wasn't going to make it far out of the early '70s, but in 1971 it was perfectly appealing, and Movin' Toward Happiness managed to make the national charts despite being released on the band's own label, suggesting that they had the potential to appeal beyond a cult.
by William Ruhlmann
Tracks
1. Michael Dodge -  2:58
2. Hard Luck Woman -  2:56
3. Children -  2:51
4. Hokey Joe Pony -  2:24
5. Flying Arrow -  3:30
6. Old Joe Clark -  4:02
7. Let Me Know Where You're Goin' -  2:29
8. Melinda -  3:40
9. Good Friend Of Mary's (Mike Cameron) -  2:46
10.He Loves Them -  3:33
11.Everybody Was Wrong -  5:20
All compositions by John Talbot, Terry Talbot

The Mason Proffit
*Terry Talbot - Acoustic, Electric Guitar, Piano, Vocals
*John Talbot - Acoustic, Electric Guitar, Vocals
*Tim Ayres - Bass
*Art Nash - Drums, Percussion
*Ron Schuetter - Guitar, Vocals

1969  Mason Proffit - Wanted (2006 issue)
1971  Mason Proffit - Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream (2006 isuue)
1973  Mason Proffit - Bareback Rider (2006 issue)  
1974  Mason Proffit - Come And Gone

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Man Made - Man Made (1972 canada, sensational psych brass rock with prog shades, 2010 remaster)



After Illustration disbanded, the individual members went their separate ways. Some toured with a production of Jesus Christ Superstar, while others, such as Roger Homefield, went on to record with such notable musicians as Stan Kenton, Buddy Rich, Maynard Ferguson, and The Miami Sound Machine. Several of the members of Illustration got back together in the following years with various bands, among which were Fox, The Michel Comeau Blues Band, and Man Made. Of these groups, Man Made achieved some critical and commercial success. 

It was a smaller band than Illustration and had an altogether new sound. They met with Gilles Talbot and producer Andre Perry and recorded a self-titled album on the Good Noise label, which was released in 1972. Man Made continued to play in Montreal with other musicians, including Jerry Mercer of April Wine, Rene Hamelin, Bob Baines, Denis Comeau, Gilles Beland, Roger Walls, and Gerry Labelle. In 1977, the members of Man Made anonymously recorded a disco single entitled “Dracula Disco” for songwriter Gerry Bribosia. However, the band never recorded a second album under their own name and disbanded by the end of the 1970s. 
Maquiavelito
Tracks
1. Man Made - 19:50
2. Carnival - 5:10
3. Reflections - 3:09
4. Evolution - 3:15
5. Keep On Moving - 2:21
6. Country Company - 2:42
All selections written by Jean Ranger, Billy Ledster

Man Made
*Billy Ledster - Vocals, Electric Piano
*Jean Ranger - Organ, Synthesizer, Backing Vocals
*Richard Terry - Bass, Backing Vocals
*Claude Roy - Drums
*Roger Walls - Horns, Flute
*Michel Como - Vocal
With 
*P.J. Lauzon - Guitar
*Jerry Mercer - Drums
*Glenn Higgins - Saxophone
*Denis Comeau - Flute
*Richard Provencial - Drums

1970  Illustration - Illustration (2006 Remaster)

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Illustration - Illustration (1970 canada, significant jazz brass rock, 2006 remaster)



For those who care for music labels, “big band jazz-rock” was a popular musical genre that began in the late 1960s. Blood, Sweat & Tears and Chicago are the bands that typically come to mind. But these were by no means the only bands to fall under this label. Among such others were Archie Whitewater and The Ides of March; however, arguably the least known of these bands, and today unjustly forgotten, was the Montreal-based Illustration. Bands that end up long forgotten often deserve it for various reasons, but the lack of notoriety Illustration now suffers is certainly undeserved. Illustration was an excellent group that demonstrated superior musicianship in every way, but after only one formal record release, poor management led to the band’s untimely demise. 

Formed at the Fontaine Bleu in St. Jean, Quebec in 1968, Illustration was essentially the combination of two other bands playing throughout Ontario and Quebec at the time: The Phoenix of Ayre’s Cliff and The Jades.  

The Phoenix of Ayre’s Cliff originally began as The Dynamics, a group formed by guitarist Jimmy Mann. Throughout the mid-sixties, the band underwent various makeovers, beginning with Jimmy Mann’s departure and eventual return. Chan Romero, famous for his song “Hippy Hippy Shake,” replaced Jimmy Mann in the interim period, during which time the band was known as Romero and The Reputations, but subsequently left the band while the group was in Quebec. The Dynamics eventually became The Phoenix of Ayre’s Cliff, whose members were Hans Stamer on vocals, Bob Deutscher on guitar, Norman Burgess on saxophone, Kenny Brabant on drums, Ken Folk on bass, and Richard Terry on organ.

The Jades originally began as The Flaming Stars in the early 1960s and were led by drummer Don Carpentier. This band played together for nine years throughout Quebec and Ontario appearing at such notable venues as the Esquire Show Bar in Montreal. Billy Ledster was the vocalist for the band with Rene Hamelin on guitar and Johnny Ranger on organ. 

By the late 1960s, members of The Phoenix of Ayre’s Cliff wanted to return to Western Canada, where most of them were from. Richard Terry and Norman Burgess, however, wanted to form a bigger group with which to go the United States. In particular, Richard Terry was intrigued by the Chicago-based group, The Mob, namely that band’s use of brass in its line-up, and wanted to do something similar. Norman Burgess had heard The Jades play before and thought they had the right sound. He proposed the idea of he and Richard Terry joining The Jades to realise their vision of a big band sound. When the two met organist Johnny Ranger and vocalist Billy Ledster from The Jades, who were performing at the Fontaine Bleu in St. Jean, Quebec in 1968, they agreed to form a new group, which, at Richard Terry’s suggestion, came to be called The Sound Syndicate. Don Carpentier and Rene Hamelin had different interests and declined to participate in the new band. With Johnny Ranger on organ, Richard Terry moved over to bass, and the band quickly began to grow adding Claude Roy on drums, who had previously played with The Jades, Benoit Perreault and Paul Perkins, from Boston, on trumpet, Garry Beattie, who had briefly played with The Phoenix of Ayre’s Cliff, on guitar, and Gerry Labelle on saxophone. The group was managed by Don Seat of Boston and began playing regularly at the Fontaine Bleu whereupon trumpeter Leo Harinen joined the group to replace Paul Perkins. 

The Sound Syndicate had quickly developed into a nine-member group and was still expanding. While playing at Lucifer’s in Boston one evening in 1969, trombonist Roger Homefield sat in with the band and found himself a new member by the end of the night. Continuing to play various clubs along the east coast of the United States, the band was in Seaside Heights, New Jersey when Gerry Labelle left to pursue work in Chicago. In need of new saxophone player, the band acquired Donald Sanders, whom Richard Terry knew from the early 1960s, and his wife, Scherri Saint James, who contributed additional vocals to the band.  

Having now eleven members, The Sound Syndicate was heard by manager Barry Wolfe who introduced the band to producer Alan Lorber. Alan Lorber was impressed with what he heard and signed the band for a one-record deal with Janus Records. The group began recording its debut album at A&R Studios in New York in late 1969. Eager to play their music, the band continued to perform at numerous venues on the east coast. The band once again changed personnel as Glenn Higgins joined the band to replace Donald Sanders who had left for Nashville to pursue other interests, and Billy Shiell joined the group in Miami adding a third trumpet. Prior to the band’s upcoming record release, Alan Lorber had a particular concept in mind and suggested that the band change their name. The band adopted their new name, Illustration, while playing at the Stock Market Club in St. Petersburg, Florida. 

During this time, the group shared the stage with some notable performers. While playing at the Newport Hotel in Miami, Florida the band backed up Ike & Tina Turner and later performed with Joe Cocker, Rod Stewart, Miles Davis, H.P. Riot, and Funkadelic. The band also enjoyed critical acclaim with a very positive review in the June, 1970 issue of Rolling Stone Magazine and similarly positive reviews from John Wilson, a jazz critic for the New York Times, Dave Bist, a music columnist for the Montreal Gazette, and Dennis Washburn, a music columnist for the Birmingham News. As well, the band’s first single, “Our Love’s a Chain,” did quite well on Canadian radio reaching at least as high as 12 on the hit parade.

However, by late 1971 many of the members were growing increasingly weary of what they perceived to be poor management. Despite having enough material for their next album and an offer from Warner Bros. Records, the prospects for the group were fading. While in Montreal, Quebec, Illustration was approached to record some music for a French-Canadian film called Après Ski, produced by Jean Zaloum. Five songs were recorded at RCA Victor Studios in Montreal and released on the soundtrack to the film. According to Johnny Ranger, the group recorded the five songs without any overdubs and within a short time of just a few hours. However, the band was never credited for its contribution to the film due to legal constraints until the album was re-released in 2012 by Disques Pluton. Shortly after recording the soundtrack the group disbanded.

It is unfortunate that Illustration did not last. Their music was sophisticated and their musicianship was excellent. The band played with a unified musical soul that gave them a unique sound that was distinctly their own. No other band could match the power of Illustration’s six-member horn section. Clearly, talent does not always guarantee commercial success, for if it did, Illustration would have gone much farther and would be well-known today. As it happens, they are today almost completely forgotten but for a few who recall their music. In 2012, for example, the soundtrack to the film Après Ski was remastered and re-released on the Pluton label in Quebec, where that music has remained sought after and has enjoyed somewhat of a cult status. Many of the former members of Illustration, however, continue to be active in music today; and in spite of their brief stint, their music remains as impressive today as ever it was. 
Tracks
1. Upon The Earth (Donald Sanders) - 2:10
2. Our Love's A Chain (Johnny Ranger, Donald Sanders) - 2:30
3. Distant (Richard Terry, Billy Ledster) - 3:49
4. I Don't Want To Cry (Luther Dixon, Chuck Jackson) - 3:17
5. Life Tasters, Time Wasters (Johnny Ranger) - 2:31
6. The Road (Billy Ledster) - 2:53
7. Home (Bernie Miller, Lesley Miller) - 4:26
8. Was It I (Donald Sanders) - 2:21
9. Box Of Glass (Billy Ledster) - 5:06
10.Thelicia (Donald Sanders) - 3:21

The Illustration
*Richard Terry - Bass
*Garry Beattie - Guitar
*Billy Ledster - Vocals
*Johnny Ranger - Organ, Piano
*Claude Roy - Drums
*Donald Sanders - Tenor Saxophone
*Norman Burgess - Baritone Saxophone
*Roger Homefield - Trombone
*Benoit Perreault - Trumpet
*Leo Harinen - Trumpet
*Scherri Saint James - Additional Vocals

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Saturday, March 18, 2017

Zoldar And Clark - Zoldar And Clark (1977 us, tremendous prog rock, 2008 remaster)



From 1976 to 1978, many albums were released on what is known as "tax scam" record labels, which were sometimes subsidiaries of larger record labels. These albums were printed in very small quantities, but the label would claim that thousands were printed and didn't sell so they could claim them as a major tax deduction. The scam supposedly ended when the tax loophole that allowed it was closed. Most of these albums were from unreleased tapes that these record companies owned or purchased or took, some of which were demos or unfinished albums, and very often the bands themselves didn't even know of their existence as band and song names were changed.

Zoldar & Clark is actually Jasper Wrath in disguise. They recorded two albums after Jasper Wrath that were both released as tax scam albums under the names Arden House and Zoldar & Clark. I've yet to track down Arden House's album Coming Home to listen to that one, but reviews seem to state that it's the weakest of the three. The original album release of Zoldar & Clark contained only 7 tracks, and all songs are excellent, extremely accessible progressive rock with crystal clear lyrics and production like Jasper Wrath. Standouts are the very trippy instrumental "Lunar Progressions," and the 6 and a half minute "The Ghost of Way," which is one of the best songs I've ever heard, full of incredible singing, multiple time changes, tremendous musical diversity and even the occasional mellotron thrown in for good measure.

To add to the confusion, not only has Zoldar & Clark been released on CD in its original 7-track format, but it also exists as an 11-track CD called The Ghost of Way, which contains only 5 of the 7 original tracks, 1 track from the Jasper Wrath album, 1 track from the Arden House album, and 4 tracks unique to that collection, and again, every song is more of the brilliant, accessible progressive rock that would appeal even to people who aren't usual fans of the genre. It's worth getting both versions to have all the tracks as this is essential stuff that would appeal to a very wide audience.
by Gary Bearman
Tracks
1. Lunar Progressions (Instrumental) - 4:57
2. The Ghost of Way - 6:32
3. Roland Of Montevere - 7:52
4. Touch The Sky - 5:15
5. Father - 5:10
6. Now Is The Time - 4:52
7. The City - 2:58
8. You - 2:43
9. Somewhere Beyond The Sun - 8:50
10.To Be Alive - 3:51
11.The Dream - 5:13

Zoldar And Clark
*Jeff Batter - Piano, Synths
*Jeff Cannata - Drums, Woodwinds, Guitar, Vocals
*James Christian - Vocals, Guitar
*Robert Giannotti - Guitar, Flute, Vocals
*Michael Soldan - Piano, Synths, Mellotron, Vocals
*Phil Stone - Bass, Flute, Vocals
*Scott Zito - Guitar, Keys, Vocals

1971  Jasper Wrath - Jasper Wrath (2009 remaster)  

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Friday, March 17, 2017

Jasper Wrath - Jasper Wrath (1971 us, awesome prog rock, 2009 remaster)



Jasper Wrath grabs you right away with crystal clear vocals and production, and a very melodic and accessible sound. It doesn't get too instrumentally adventurous, but stays very enjoyable throughout with well –crafted songs. "Look to the Sunrise" is an enthusiastic and upbeat opener. "Mysteries (You Can Find Out)" contains some nice guitar and great lyrics about ancient cities. "Autumn" contains some nice flute, which really comes to the fore in the excellent 7-minute "Odyssey" that closes out Side 1 - a very trippy and spacy track.

Side 2 opens with "Did You Know That," and has a very ‘70's good-timey feel. "Drift Through Our Cloud" contains some nice tribal percussion for a change of pace. The five-minute "Portrait: My Lady Angelina" is a beautiful track, and the eight-minute "Roland of Montevere" is a fitting complex and dramatic closer with a very baroque feel. This is a very solid and enjoyable effort by a band that was going places. 
by Gary Bearman
Tracks
1. Look to the sunrise (Jeff Cannata, Phil Stoltie) - 2:58
2. Mysteries (you can find out) (Jeff Cannata) - 3:53
3. Autumn (Jeff Cannata, Michael Soldan) - 4:55
4. Odyssey (Jeff Cannata, Phil Stoltie) - 7:09
5. Did you know that (Jasper Wrath, Joey Levine) - 2:57
6. Drift through our cloud (Jasper Wrath, Phil Stoltie) - 3:36
7. Portrait: My Lady Angelina (Jeff Cannata, Michael Soldan) - 5:07
8. Roland of Monteverre (Jeff Cannata, Michael Soldan, Robert Gianotti) - 7:55

The Jasper Wrath
*Michael Soldan - Keyboards, Vocals
*Jeff Cannata - Drums, Percussion, Guitar, Woodwinds
*Robert Gianotti - Guitar, Flute, Vocals
*Phil Stone - Bass, Vocals

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Paladin - Paladin (1971 uk, excellent fusing of prog rock jazz and latin, 2007 remaster)



Brainchild of ex-Terry Reid members Peter Solley and Keith Webb, Paladin was born to fuse. But even with their wildly eclectic sound -- incorporating Cuban rhythms, jazz, rock, and psychedelia, the quintet aimed at a surprisingly accessible sound, and should have been a commercial monster. Paladin inked a deal with Bronze and released their eponymous debut album in 1971, a set that still quivers with creativity. Recorded live in the studio, the entire album has an immediacy to it, with even the downtempo numbers filled with energy. 

The opening "Bad Times" shows they mean business, the Latin rhythms underpinning an organ melody and a rousing chorus Traffic would have ground to a halt for, but before the almost seven-minute song comes to the end, the band bounces into a Santana-esque jam led by the raging, psychedelic, acid-drenched organ, which gets an even bigger workout on the rocking "Fill Up Your Heart," a song which must have been absolutely lethal live. "Dance of the Cobra" slithers through so many genres it's hard to keep track -- Latin, funk, and jazz, for openers, and then guitarist Derek Foley strides in with a fiery solo before Webb launches into an extended big-band drum extravaganza, which he deftly transforms into rock, before the band goes out with a psychedelic flourish.

That number's breathtaking, "Third World" is groundbreaking. It's obviously inspired by the Last Poets, an exuberant drum and percussion piece in a Latin/Afro-beat mode, over which the vocalists chant/rap a series of () - sadly inaccurate) predictions for the years to come, ending with a sashay of jazzy R&B piano. That latter styling predominates across the bluesy, Southern tinged "Carry Me Home," another splendid number aimed straight at arena audiences. "Flying High" soars straight towards the airwaves, a luminescent pop number whose reggae undertones are so subtle they could almost go unnoticed. But there's no mistaking "The Fakir"'s ethnic origins, an exotic slice of Arabesque that swirls around the evocative melody like a dervish. As diverse as it is, Paladin's infectious rhythms and strong melodies pull the album together, and the excitement never lets up. 
by Jo-Ann Greene
Tracks
1. Bad Times (Peter Solley) - 6:50
2. Carry Me Home (Pete Beckett, Lou Stonebridge) - 3:23
3. Dance Of The Cobra (Keith Webb) - 7:39
4. Third World (Peter Solley) - 3:54
5. Fill Up Your Heart (Peter Solley) - 5:40
6. Flying High (Peter Solley) - 5:02
7. The Fakir (Lalo Schifrin) - 4:47

The Paladin
*Lou Stonebridge - Vocals, Electric Piano, Harmonica
*Peter Solley - Organ, Violin, Grand Piano
*Keith Webb - Drums, Percussion
*Derek Foley - Lead Guitar, Slide Guitar, Vocals
*Pete Beckett - Bass, Vocals

Related Acts
1966-69  Terry Reid - Superlungs / The Complete Studio Recordings (two disc set)
1967  Donovan - A Gift From A Flower To A Garden (2008 remaster)
1967-69  Ruperts People - Magic World Of Rupert's People (2001 Circle limited edition)
1970  Philamore Lincoln - The North Wind Blew South (2010 remastered edition)
1972  Bond And Brown - Two Heads Are Better Than One (2009 remaster) 

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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Good God - Good God (1972 us, intense jazz prog rock, 2012 remaster)



The early 1970's was a fertile period for the fusion of jazz and rock. Stanley Clarke, Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea along with "The Prince of Darkness" Miles Davis himself were making ground breaking albums. Good God certainly fits that description even though it did not get much attention at the time.

Featuring the keyboards of Cotton Kent along with Zeno Sparkles, guitar and vocals, Greg Scott, saxophones, John Ransome, bass and Hank Ransome drums, this album really cooks with a selection of tracks that still sound fresh almost forty years later.

Mainly instrumental with some vocal accents and one actual song the tight arrangements are inventive and hold your interest after repeated listening. Good God has a sound all their own. Standout tracks include "Glaorna Gavorna", featuring the British tenor man from John Mayall's band Johnny Almond, "King Kong", the Frank Zappa Classic, and a killer version of John McLaughlin's "Dragon Song"
Tracks
1. A Murder Of Crows (Larry Cardarelli) - 6:24
2. Galorna Gavorna (Cotton Kent) - 5:11
3. King Kong (Frank Zappa) - 8:53
4. Dragon Song (John McLaughlin) - 4:20
5. Zaragoza (Cotton Kent) - 6:31
6. Fish Eye (Larry Cardarelli) - 8:37

The Good God
*Zeno Sparkles "Larry Cardarelli" - Guitar, Vocals
*Cotton Kent - Keyboards, Soprano Saxophone, Marimba, Vocals
*Greg Scott - Soprano, Alto, Tenor Saxophones
*John Ransome - Bass
*Hank Ransome - Drums, Vocals
With
*Johnny Almond - Tenor Saxophone
*Bruce Solomon - Trombone
*Bob Martin - French Horn
*Bob Shemenek - Trumpet
*Larry Washington - Conga

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Monday, March 13, 2017

Help Yourself - 5 (1973 uk, exceptional folk prog classic rock, 2004 release)



Formed in London in 1969, Help Yourself released four very fine albums which drew heavily on the sound of West Coast outfits like Buffalo Springfield and Quicksilver Messenger Service.

In 1973 they began recording their fifth album. However, these sessions were never completed, the album was never released, and the band split later that year.

That legendary 'lost 5th album' has been highly sought after by collectors ever since.

After the band split, Malcolm Morley joined 'Man', while the rest of his former colleagues teamed up with 'Deke Leonard's Iceberg'.

Eventually, in the winter of 2002, the original Help Yourself band members, augmented by drummer Kevin Spacey, gathered once more to finally complete their fifth album. 
Tracks
1. Light Your Way (Malcolm Morley) - 3:49
2. Cowboy Song (Martin Ace) - 6:59
3. Monkey Wrench (Dave Charles, Ken Whaley, Malcolm Morley, Richard Treece, Sean Tyla) - 1:12
4. Romance In A Tin (Malcolm Morley) - 4:35
5. Grace (Malcolm Morley) - 3:43
6. Martha (Sean Tyla) - 3:24
7. Monkey Wrench (Reprise) (Dave Charles, Ken Whaley, Malcolm Morley, Richard Treece, Sean Tyla) - 1:46
8. The Rock (Malcolm Morley) - 6:00
9. Willow (Malcolm Morley) - 3:18
10.Alley Cat (Ken Whaley, Robert Catelinet) - 5:38
11.Duneburgers (Dave Charles, Ken Whaley, Richard Treece, Sean Tyla) - 4:37

Personnel
*Deke Leonard - Guitar
*David Charles - Drums, Vocals
*Sean Tyla - Guitar
*Malcolm Morley - Guitar, Keyboards, Piano, Vocals
*Kevin Spacey - Drums
*Richard Treece - Guitar
*Ken Whaley - Bass, Vocals

1971-73  Help Yourself - Reaffirmation An Anthology (2014 Remaster)  
Related Acts
1969  Man - Revelation (2009 remaster and expanded)  
1969  Man - 2 Ozs Of Plastic With A Hole In The Middle (2009 Esoteric remaster)
1971  Ernie Graham - Ernie Graham (2014 japan remaster)  

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Saturday, March 11, 2017

Nils Lofgren And Grin - 1+1 / All Out (1971-72 us, spectacular classic rock with folk and country drops, 2007 remaster)



1+1 was the second album from Grin, an LA based band fronted by Nils Lofgren (who originally hailed from Washington, DC). This lp followed their rock solid, self-titled debut album from 1971. 1+1 sounded stronger, more confident and clearly displayed Lofgren’s talent as a musician and songwriter.

Lofgren had always believed in straight ahead rock n roll though some of the songs on this lp veer towards roots rock and orchestrated pop rock. The first side of the original lp featured mid tempo rockers while side 2 was devoted to Emitt Rhodes/Paul McCartney-like ballads. It was yet another hard luck record from the era, and even though 1+1 had many shining moments, it still did not sell well. White Lies opened 1+1 on a firey note with sharp Lofgren vocals, Moody Blues-like harmonies and sparkling rustic accoustic guitars. The first half of this lp is really a record for classic rock fanatics and will surely appeal to fans of Todd Rundgren and Crazy Horse. Moon Tears, End Unkind and Please Don’t Hide are ballsy, hard hitting and tasteful, making it hard to believe that Lofgren is known for who he has played with (Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young) rather than that of his own music.

Most of the rock n roll heard on this record is much stronger than what you would hear on your local classic rock radio station. For pop obsessives side 2 had some lost gems. Hi, Hello Home has some pretty banjo and is a folk-rocker that strongly recalled the Buffalo Springfield classic A Child’s Claim to Fame. Other tracks such as Just A Poem, Sometimes and the excellent harpsichord/strings ballad Soft Fun have a lost romanticism that really penetrates the soul.

There are no weak moments on this lp and as solid as it is, Lost a Number is the one track that exists outside the box. It’s a timeless classic, a heartbreaking piece of lost love with beautiful accordian playing and a catchy melody. In a perfect world, had this wonderful power pop song been released as a single, it would have been a hit record. Lofgren went on to release a few more records with Grin and some fine critically acclaimed solo works throughout the 1970’s.
by Jason Nardelli

1+1 was recorded in an independent studio called Wally Heider’s in Los Angeles. “As the thing took shape, we realized that the batch of songs that we had were almost half and half — gentler and hard,” recalled Lofgren. “I don’t remember whose idea it was, but we all started batting around, ‘Well why don’t we just use it as a strength?’” The decision was made to have all the soft songs on one side and the up-tempo numbers on the other. This process also gave the new album its title: 1+1. “It was just a function of the Rockin’ Side and the Dreamy Side,” Lofgren said.

The cherry on the album’s icing is Briggs’ fabulous wide-screen production technique. 1+1 is described by the New Musical Express Encyclopedia Of Rockas “one of the lost classics of rock” because criminally, it failed to sell. “White Lies,” which opens the Rockin’ Side, became Grin’s only Top 40 chart entry.

By the time Grin released their third album, they had an additional guitarist. “My brother Tom Lofgren joined the band,” Lofgren said. “We just realized we had the rough, sparse thing covered as a trio, but now our music was getting a little more melodic and open and we really needed a fourth member.”

All Out (1973) is a thoroughly enjoyable record, if a little lightweight compared to its stunning predecessor. It was to be the band’s last record for Spindizzy, the controversial departure of Clive Davis making the band unhappy with the label. They ended up on A&M, but their final album, Gone Crazy (1974), is something of a damp squib, not just sales-wise but — for the first time — artistically. A&M pulled the plug.
by Patrick Prince, Editor of Goldmine
Tracks
1. White Lies - 3:28
2. Please Don't Hide - 4:00
3. Slippery Fingers - 4:09
4. Moon Tears - 2:17
5. End Unkind - 4:01
6. Sometimes - 2:37
7. Lost a Number - 3:09
8. Hi, Hello Home - 2:28
9. Just a Poem - 2:40
10.Soft Fun - 5:39
11.Sad Letter - 3:11
12.Heavy Chevy - 3:34
13.Don't Be Long (Roger McGuinn, Harvey Gerst) - 2:20
14.Love Again - 4:06
15.She Ain't Right (Nils Lofgren, Bob Gordon) - 3:27
16.Love or Else - 3:42
17.Ain't Love Nice - 2:09
18.Heart On Fire - 4:58
19.All Out - 3:07
20.Rusty Gun - 2:20
21.Just To Have You - 2:18
All songs written by Nils Lofgren except where stated.

Personnel
*Nils Lofgren - Guitars, Keyboards, Vocals
*Bob Berberich - Drums, Vocals
*Bob Gordon - Bass, Vocals
*Graham Nash - Vocals (Track 8)
*David Blumberg - Orchestration (Tracks 9, 10)
*Tom Lofgren - Guitars, Background Vocals (Tracks 11-20)
*Kathy McDonald - Vocals (Tracks 11-20)

1971  Grin - Grin (2005 remaster)

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Friday, March 10, 2017

Julie Driscoll - 1969 (1971 uk, magnificent jazz prog rock, 2006 remaster)



Julie Driscoll's (now Tippetts) first move away from the blues-oriented pop of the Brian Auger band turned out to be this prophetic slab of wax that revealed her penchant to transcend the trappings of rock and pop for something more adventurous. To this end, Driscoll employed the help of many of the Canterbury scene's best-known musicians, including Carl Jenkins, Elton Dean, future husband Keith Tippetts, and guitarist Chris Spedding. 

The set opens with what would become an anthem for Driscoll, the horn-laden rocker "A New Awakening," in which she details the benefits of the search for new ground emotionally and mentally. In addition, with its knotty, arpeggio-laden horn lines and angular arrangement by Tippetts that puts the track on the left side of the standard rock and pop fence. "Those That We Love," a simple acoustic tune with Driscoll on acoustic guitar and Tippetts on piano and celeste with Jeff Clyne on bass is a striking treatise on how much we hurt the ones we love the most, and how those who love us forget us most. Beautifully textured vocal lines open up all over the body of the tune, soaring into darkened corners and illuminating them. 

One of the most striking things about this slab is how the listener can hear Driscoll's voice begin to open up to the possibilities of life after pop, that there was an entire universe waiting to be explored in song, nuance, and technique. The band provides not only sympathetic, but inspired support in her stead. Other notables here include the guitar freakout orgy of "Break-Out," the chamber/salon song of "The Choice," and the jazzed out balladry (in Canterbury style) of "Leaving It All Behind." Despite its age, 1969 holds up shockingly well, and is still very forward thinking in its musical approaches. Driscoll's/Tippetts' rugged, open-heart emotionalism is truly transcendent here, and this aspect of her wonderful voice has aged not one bit in over 40 years. 
by Thom Jurek

Recorded in '69 but shelved by Polydor until January of 1971, Julie Driscoll's 1969 is truly a lost classic. Recorded following the disbanding of Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger and the Trinity, who scored a worldwide hit with their highly imaginative cover of Dylan's This Wheel's on Fire. The sessions featured a stellar cast of guest musicians from the worlds of jazz and rock.
Tracks
1. A New Awakening - 3:50
2. Those That We Love - 4:48
3. Leaving It All Behind - 4:50
4. Break-Out - 5:22
5. The Choice - 5:59
6. Lullaby - 4:22
7. Walk Down - 4:15
8. I Nearly Forgot – But I Went Back - 5:10
All compositions written by Julie Driscoll

Musicians
*Julie Driscoll - Vocal, Acoustic Guitar
*Mark Charig - Cornet
*Chris Spedding - Electric Guitar, Bass Guitar
*Jeff Clyne - Bass, Arco Bass
*Elton Dean - Alto
*Nick Evans - Trombone
*Keith Tippett - Piano, Celeste
*Trevor Tompkins - Drums
*Carl Jenkins - Oboe
*Bud Parkes - Trumpet
*Stan Salzman - Alto
*Derek Wadsworth - Trombone
*Brian Goding - Additional Vocals, Electric Guitar
*Brian Belshaw - Additional Vocals, Bass Guitar
*Jim Creegan - Electric Guitar
*Barry Reeves - Drums
*Bob Downes - Flute

1967  Brian Auger With Julie Driscoll And The Trinity - Open (2013 japan SHM remaster with extra tracks)  
1970  Brian Auger With Julie Driscoll - Streetnoise (2014 japan SHM remaster)  

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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Chuck and Mary Perrin - The Next Of Kin (1970 us, delicate folk rock, 2011 korean reissue)



Recorded live the weekend of December 5 & 6, 1969 at Jerry Milam‘s  Golden Voice Sound Studio in South Pekin, Illinois.  Mary & I  played guitar & sang, but this time we incorporated a rhythm  section. A few months earlier, I facilitated & produced a recording @  Golden Voice for a Notre Dame band called First Friday. This was an amazingly talented ensemble that featured fleet & talented rock guitarist Norm Zeller, & bassist Andy Wallace (who is now one of the most successful mixing engineers in the music  business, having mixed Nirvana’s “Nevermind”, as well as projects for  Sheryl Crow, Rage Against the Machine, Jeff Buckley, Smashing Pumpkins,  etc).  At any rate, Norm & Andy joined us on most of the tracks, as  did Peoria Shag drummer Dave Porter.

Bruce Brown handled the cover photographic effects, which  included making a Chuck & Mary framed photo appear to be hanging on  the wall of an old tintype photo I had found at a garage sale. Remember  this was in the days before computers & such things as Photoshop.

This was our second album, & we were determined to get out &  share our musical vision.  We would drive up to Chicago almost every  weekend to perform, mostly at an intimate little spot called the  Barbarossa in the Rush Street/Gold Coast area.

And summers we’d take off in my old ’53 International Harverster  travelall (with orange plexiglas windows!) to sing at places like the  Raven Gallery in Detroit, The Bitter End, Cafe Au Go Go, & the  Gaslight in New York’s Village, The Unicorn & the Turk’s Head in  Boston. While in NYC, we signed on with the College Coffee house  circuit, which sent us on a tour,  spending a week @ each college or  university where we would perform 3-4 nights in the local coffee house  or student center.  We toured Ohio, North Carolina, Kentucky, &  Tennessee, always gravitating back to Chicago where we were developing a  strong support base.
Tracks          
1. The Beginning - 0:40
2. Here Comes The Weekend Again - 2:21
3. Run Away With Me (Mary Perrin) - 0:59
4. Sundance (Mary Perrin) - 3:13
5. Bye Bye Billy - 2:21
6. Fugacity (Pat Garvey, Victoria Garvey) - 2:23
7. Reprise - 1:42
8. Dedication (Mary Perrin) - 3:44
9. This Is Just To Say (William Carlos Williams) - 0:20
10.Dealer - 2:41
11.Flying (Mary Perrin) - 2:27
12.This Is A Happy Song - 1:38
13.Statement - 0:53
14.The Beginning Again - 0:36
All songs by Chuck Perrin except where stated

Personnel
*Mary Perrin - Vocals, Guitar
*Chuck Perrin - Vocals, Guitar
*Norm Zeller - Guitar
*Andy Wallace - Bass
*Dave Porter - Drums

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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Cochise – Velvet Mountain An Anthology (1970-72 uk, magnificent classic guitar rock with country and folk elements, 2013 double disc set remaster)



Yes, that is indeed a naked female breast on the cover of this compilation of the underrated British rock act Cochise, taken from their 1970 self-titled debut and done by none other than the famed Hipgnosis. Probably pretty shocking for the time, but by today's standards we've seen much worse. Back to the music and band, Cochise released three albums from 1970-1972, Cochise, Swallow Tales, and So Far, and Velvet Mountain contains all three releases in one 2CD set. The band unfortunately became more well known for what their members did after Cochise broke up; guitarist Mick Grabham joined Procol Harum, pedal steel player B.J. Cole went on to work with Elton John, Joan Armatrading, and many others as well as a solo career, bassist Rick Wills hooked up with Foreigner, and both he and drummer John "Willie" Wilson recorded with Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour.

Cochise are a hard band to describe; on one hand, they do a great job playing US styled country rock made famous by acts such as The Eagles, Poco, and The Flying Burrito Brothers, much in part thanks to Cole's nimble pedal steel licks and the smooth vocals of both Stewart Brown (who appears on the debut) and John Gilbert (who sings on the final two albums). However, and this is probably due to the presence of Grabham, the band also unleashes some fine British hard rock on their albums as well. So, there's this constant battle brewing on all three of their albums between the hard rock side and the country rock side, but it all makes for an intriguing listen with plenty of variety.

The debut is filled with some really enjoyable fare, like the emotional "Past Loves", complete with yearning pedal steel from Cole, Grabham's Clapton inspired licks, and a great vocal from Brown. "Velvet Mountain" and "Trafalgar Day" are catchy rootsy rock tunes, and "Moment and the End" is a powerful rocker highlighted by Grabham's tasty riffs. The band pull off a real fun take on the Simon & Garfunkle hit "59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)" , and "Painted Lover" is possibly the most metallic hard rock tune on the album, featuring some great riffs and blistering tradeoffs between Grabham & Cole. Swallow Tales continued on with the same trends, though it's more consistently in the country rock vein along the lines of The Eagles On the Border, so there's a lot of meaty rock guitar playing alongside the soaring pedal steel and groove laden rhythms. "Love's Made a Fool of You", "Jed Collder" and "Why I Sing the Blues" (featuring backing vocals and piano from none other than Humble Pie/Small Faces legend Steve Marriott) are some of the albums highlights, with Gilbert's vocals really standing out. "Axiom of Maria" is another solid number, a lengthy, jammy track complete with plenty of sizzling axe work from both Cole and Grabham, and "Can I Break Your Heart" is a hook laden, country rock/pop tune that probably could have had radio potential back in the day.

1972's So Far basically was the result of a band that was on its last legs, but the music is actually a bit looser and funkier in spots, with "Cajun Girl", "Dance, Dance, Dance" mixing rock & funk, while "So Many Times" is a soaring country rocker that will appeal to any fan of the Flying Burrito Brothers or early Neil Young. "Diamond" evokes images of The James Gang with its hard rocking guitars and funky rhythms, "Wishing Well" is a quirky country rocker with some nimble fretwork, and closer "Midnight Moonshine" has some Southern Rock tendencies along the lines of Charlie Daniels Band, Marshall Tucker Band, and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

All three albums have been gloriously remastered by the folks at Esoteric Recordings, so the sound quality is spectacular, and the 2CDs come housed in a great digipack adorned with original artwork from all three albums and a lengthy booklet with photos and history of the band. Though Cochise worked their asses off on the live circuit opening up for many of the top acts of the day, by 1972 their time ended and the members all moved on to bigger and better things. It's a shame that they never broke through the mainstream, as there is plenty of great material on these three albums that should have been better received than it was. Thankfully it's now been made available once again, so if you missed out on Cochise the first time around, now's the time to make that initial discovery. 
by Pete Pardo
Tracks
Disc 1 Cochise 1970
1. Velvet Mountain (Mick Grabham) - 03:25
2. China (Mick Grabham) - 03:52
3. Trafalgar Day (B.J.Cole) - 05:08
4. Moment And The End (B.J.Cole) - 05:53
5. Watch This Space (Stewart Brown) - 03:54
6. 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) (Paul Simon) - 03:38
7. Past Loves (Stewart Brown) - 03:38
8. Painted Lady (Mick Grabham) - 07:01
9. Black Is The Color (Traditional) - 00:57
A-Side Of Single
10.Love's Made A Fool Of You (Buddy Holly) - 02:50
Swallow Tales 1971
11.Jed Collder (Mick Grabham) - 03:18
12.Down Country Girls (Mick Grabham) - 01:48
13.Home Again (Mick Grabham) - 03:40
14.Lost Hearts (B.J.Cole) - 03:25
15.Strange Images (B.J.Cole) - 02:01
16.Why I Sing The Blues (Mick Grabham) - 04:07
Disc 2  Swallow Tales 1971
1. Another Day (Mick Grabham) - 05:13
2. Axiom Of Maria (B.J.Cole) - 06:59
3. Can I Break Your Heart (Mick Grabham) - 04:59
4. O Come All Ye Faithful (Traditional) - 01:15
B-Side Single
5. Words Of A Dying Man (Mick Grabham) - 04:21
So Far 1972
6. Cajun Girl (Roy O’Temro) - 03:27
7. Blind Love (Dave Elliott) - 04:39
8. Dance, Dance, Dance (Neil Young) - 03:57
9. So Many Times (Rick Wills) - 03:15
10.Diamonds (Mick Grabham) - 03:23
11.Thunder In The Crib (B.J.Cole) - 03:56
12.Up And Down (Roy O’Temro) - 05:39
13.Wishing Well (Mick Grabham) - 03:01
14.Midnight Moonshine (Mick Grabham) - 06:12

The Cochise
*Mick Grabham – Lead Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Piano, Organ, Vocals
*B.J Cole – Pedal Steel Guitar, Resonator Dobro Guitar, Cello
*Ricky Wills – Bass, Percussion, Vocals
*John Gilbert – Lead Vocals
*Stewart Brown – Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
*Roy O'Temro – Drums, Percussion
*Willie Wilson – Drums, Percussion, Vocals
With
*Caleb Quaye - Piano, Guitar
*Steve Marriott - Piano, Vocals
*Nigel Olsson - Vocals
*Tim Renwick - Guitar
*Robert Kirby - Cello, Woodwind

1970  Cochise - Cochise

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Sunday, March 5, 2017

Renaissance - Renaissance (1969 uk, great prog jazz rock with classical influence, 2008 remaster)



The history of Renaissance is essentially the history of two separate groups, rather similar to the two phases of the Moody Blues or the Drifters. The original group was founded in 1969 by ex-Yardbirds members Keith Relf and Jim McCarty as a sort of progressive folk-rock band, who recorded two albums (of which only the first, self-titled LP came out in America, on Elektra Records) but never quite made it, despite some success on England's campus circuit. 

The band went through several membership changes, with Relf and his sister Jane (who later fronted the very Renaissance-like Illusion) exiting and McCarty all but gone after 1971. The new lineup formed around the core of bassist Jon Camp, keyboard player John Tout, and Terry Sullivan on drums, with Annie Haslam, an aspiring singer with operatic training and a three-octave range. 

The original group's debut album was a then-groundbreaking meld of progressive rock with classical and jazz influences. Vocalist Jane Relf had a striking individual style, and the classical influence was unique for its time.
by Bruce Eder
Tracks
1. Kings And Queens (Keith Relf, Jim McCarty) - 10:59
2. Innocence (Keith Relf, Jim McCarty) - 7:10
3. Island (Keith Relf, Jim McCarty) - 6:01
4. Wanderer (John Hawken, Jim McCarty) - 4:05
5. Bullet (Keith Relf, Jim McCarty) - 11:27
6. The Sea (Keith Relf, Jim McCarty) - 3:06
7. Island (Single Version) (Keith Relf, Jim McCarty) - 3:37
Bonus Tracks 6-7

The Renaissance
*Keith Relf - Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica
*Jim McCarty - Percussion, Vocals
*John Hawken - Piano
*Louis Cennamo - Bass Guitar
*Jane Relf - Vocals, Percussion

1974  Renaissance - Turn Of The Cardss
Related Acts
1977  Illusion - Out Of The Mist (2011 remaster)
1978  Illusion – Illusion (2011 remaster) 
1963-68  The Yardbirds - Glimpses (five disc box set, 2011 release)
1964  The Yardbirds - Five Live Yardbirds (2007 Repertoire digi pack with extra tracks)

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Saturday, March 4, 2017

Illusion – Illusion (1978 uk, startling prog rock, 2011 remaster)



In 1975 Keith Relf, the singer and former colleague of mine in the Yardbirds, called me up for a 'get-together' with his sister Jane, and Louis Cennamo. We had all been in Renaissance a few years earlier and were still getting royalty payments. Since the Renaissance days, Keith had been successful as a producer and had been in a band with Louis, Armageddon, who had made an album for A&M Records. I had made an album of my own songs on EMI under the band name Shoot, and Jane had sung on various TV advertisements. 

The remaining member of Renaissance, John Hawken, the keyboard player, was invited to join us and we spoke about reforming the old band as none of us were involved with any other projects at the time, and the fact that we were still getting royalties meant the music was still popular. John was a versatile pianist, having played with more rocky bands such as Spooky Tooth and Vinegar Joe, and he was responsible for the dominance of the keyboards in the band's sound. We organised some rehearsals at my house in Molesey and things seemed to go well. Having played together before, it didn't take long to recreate our old distinctive sound. We decided to give it a go again, and after recording some demo tapes tried to get record company interest. We were still seeking this when Keith was tragically electrocuted in his flat in Whitton in May 1976. 

Rather than making us abandon the idea, this event seemed to spur us on, and we decided to take on two more people: John Knightsbridge on guitar, and Eddie McNeil on drums, which left me free to sing lead vocal along with Jane. More songs came quickly and in July we recorded half a dozen more demos, including "Isadora" and "Solo Flight". Someone had once told me to take demo tapes to companies for whom you were earning money, so I contacted Island Records who were still selling the original Renaissance recordings. After a live audition we were promptly signed up, and recorded the album "Out Of The Mist" at Island Studios in Hammersmith. We needed a new name at that time as Renaissance had been transformed into a band of new members (Annie Haslam, Mick Dunford, etc.) We finally settled on Illusion, the title of our second Renaissance album, and went off on tour supporting Bryan Ferry in the UK and Europe. 

We were received well, though sales were only moderate. After another nationwide tour, supporting Dory Previn, we were pressed by the record company to start another album which was to 'break' us as a band. The first album had charted in the States, and it was generally thought that the production could be improved upon, so for the second album Paul Samwell-Smith, another former Yardbird, was brought in as producer. Paul was highly thought of by Island as he had produced a succession of Cat Stevens albums and of course the first Renaissance album. The consequent album ("Illusion") was fun to make, collaborating with Paul again, but due to the pressure of time and touring the material was not as strong as on the first album, in my opinion, although it did contain the classic track "Madonna Blue" which brought out the very best of everyone in the band.

The album was released in the UK and Europe, but not in the States, for some unknown reason, and this was a big blow to us. The new wave of punk music was becoming more and more popular, and the overall trend at the time (the late 70's) was far away from what we were doing. Our only hope had lain in the States, but after the non-release of the second album we were dropped by Island in 1979. 
by Jim McCarty, February 1994 

On Illusion the band had grown music wise. Also the help of old pal Paul Samwell-Smith, who had played with Jim McCarty in the Yardbirds, provided for a better production and a better sound. Highlights on their second release are the opening tune Madonna Blue and the final piece The Revolutionary. Especially on these tracks you hear the same kind of music Renaissance would record later on with vocalist Annie Haslam and keyboard player John Tout. The interaction between Jane Relf and Jim McCarty and the harmony vocals are much better than on Out Of The Mist. 

The music on both albums very much resembles the music of the first two Renaissance-albums mainly due to the fact that the key members of both Illusion and Renaissance were the same. That also applied for the compositions mainly written by McCarty and Hawken. Unfortunately both releases lack some additional tracks. Maybe they could have used some of the recorded demos for the upcoming third album, but they didn't. These songs later on appeared on the album Enchanted Caress (1990). Illusion disbanded in 1979. Punk rock and new wave regrettably pushed aside many great progressive bands at the end of the seventies. Who knows how many more fantastic albums Illusion would have recorded..?    
by  Henri Strik
Tracks
1. Madonna Blue (Jim McCarty) - 6:47
2. Never Be The Same (Jim McCarty) - 3:17
3. Louis' Theme (Louis Cennamo) - 7:42
4. Wings Across The Sea (Jim McCarty) - 4:50
5. Cruising Nowhere (Jim McCarty) - 4:59
6. Man Of Miracles (Keith Relf, Jim McCarty, John Hawken) - 3:28
7. The Revolutionary (John Hawken, Jim McCarty) - 6:16

Illusion
*Jim McCarty - Vocal, Acoustic Guitar, Percussion
*Jane Relf - Vocal
*John Hawken - Piano, Synthesizers, Mellotron, Hammond Organ, Fender Rhodes, Harpsichord
*Louis Cennamo - Bass Guitar
*John Knightsbridge - Electric And Acoustic Guitar
*Eddie Mcneil - Drums, Percussion

1977  Illusion - Out Of The Mist (2011 remaster)
Related Act
1963-68  The Yardbirds - Glimpses (five disc box set, 2011 release)
1964  The Yardbirds - Five Live Yardbirds (2007 Repertoire digi pack with extra tracks)

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