In The Land of Free, we still keep on Rockin'

Plain and Fancy

"I hope for nothing, I fear nothing, I am free"


Friday, July 27, 2012

Tax Free - Tax Free (1970 dutch, jazzy folk rock masterpiece, by Wally Tax "The Outsiders" frontman with guests John Cale and Richard Davis from "Astral Weeks" fame)



The short-lived Tax Free consisted of Wally Tax (vocals), David Oliphanr (guitar), Jody Purpora (vocals, guitar) and Leendert Busch (drums). Tax and Busch had both been members of legendary Dutch band The Outsiders, who'd broken up in mid-1969. They soon befriended the British-born Oliphant and the US-born Purpora in Amsterdam and - together with Ray Gordel - began to jam in a studio beneath a railway bridge, though they had to play in the dead of night to avoid the noise of passing trams. 

With management in place, in the spring of 1970 they travelled to New York, where they stayed in the infamous Chelsea Hotel. Having secured a record deal through contacts at Radio Luxemburg, they returned to NY that September (without Gordell) and set about taping an album at Jimi Hendrix's recently completed Electric Lady studio. The producer was Lewis Merenstein, who was also their co-manager (with Marty Thau). Merenstein is best known for his production of Van Morrison's Astral Weeks, an album with which Tax Free shares a certain introspective, jazz-tinged vibe. 

The influence of Tim Hardin (with whom Tax was personally acquainted) can also be detected. Merenstein had also worked with John Cale on his Vintage Violence album, and Cale contributed some viola to the Tax Free recordings, alongside other session heavyweights such as string bassist Richard Davis (who'd featured prominently on Astral Weeks). 

The sessions weren't smooth, however. Tax later complained that 'Lewis was going through a difficult divorce. Therefore he wasn't a very smooth coordinator. Sometimes he was late or didn't turn up at all.' An even worse portent was the death of Hendrix during the sessions, which overshadowed the atmosphere. Tax Free was released in March 1970. 

The original promo material boasted that it 'epitomizes the tender, intimate cool of an Amsterdam cellar, the impressionistic, mystic Dutch sky, the mellow, hazy sounds of sadness and joy. It's light, easy and quietly relaxing,' but few copies were sold, and the band was quickly lost in the shuffle. 

The band returned to Holland, and had split up by the summer, propelled by what Tax considered to be hypochondria from the sickly Purpora. Somewhat surprisingly, Billboard announced that September that 'Polydor plans to reissue the Tax Free LP due to heavy airplay and the review action it has received in the past six months.' Unfortunately, nothing changed second time around.

Tracks
1. Yiva - 5:23
2. Along the Shadowed Quay - 3:56
3. The Great Lie - 5:00
4. Day Revealed Your Face - 2:51
5. Ginny - 4:52
6. Amsterdam  -4:58
7. My Lady Truth 4:19
8. Evening - 3:42
9. Back by the Quinnipiac - 6:24

Tax Free
*Wladimir "Wally" Tax - Vocals
*David J.L. Oliphanr - Guitar
*Jody W. Purpora - Vocals, Keyboards
*Leendert H.M. Busch - Drums
with
*Jerry Spaulding - Saxophone
*Ron Johnsen - Vibes
*John Cale - Electric Viola
*Richard Davis - Bass

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William Penn And His Pals - William Penn And His Pals (1966 us, remarkable garage psych, with Gregg Rolie pre Santana)



Also known as the William Penn Fyve on many bootlegs. It's been a long time coming, in fact about 35 years. This group was formed in 1965 and extinct by 1968. They were one of the most famous groups in The San Francisco Bay Area at the time and their name was all over Radio KYA, KFRC and KLIV as opening act for the biggest national and international acts as well as headlining their own shows.

The lineup boasted Mickey Hart (for a brief period) of the Grateful Dead and Gregg Rolie of Santana/Journey fame was a full time member for 1 1/2 years before he started a group with a dude name Carlos Santana. Gregg sings lead on all but one of these songs.

Wm. Penn used to go toe to toe in Battle of the Bands with the Grateful Dead and recorded one of the most famous Garage Rock Classics by the name of Swami. Swami appears on at least five bootleg compilations along with the flip side.. Blow my Mind. The group changed it's name briefly to Wm. Penn V for Swami (actually it was William Penn Fyve but Pebbles called them William Penn V since they were/are bootlegging Swami) and there is some confusion as to whether William Penn and His Pals was in fact the same Wm Penn Fyve; they were. 

Other songs have appeared on "The Scorpio Record Collection" put out by Ace/Fantasy. Finally all the songs of this classic group are available to the public in one professionally manufactured CD with 8 pages of facts and photos. There are even a few gems that nobody except a select few have heard. Here are clips from all of the songs on the CD so you can get a good sample of what you will get. Hearing these songs is almost like being at an show in the 60's at The Longshoremans Hall in San Francisco. 

Besides the wonderful songs the liner notes include the original copy from San Francisco's I.D. magazine with the run down on Wm Penn and his Pals written by their manager. You must read this to get the full scope of just how popular this group was.

Tracks
1. Swami - 2:57
2. Gotta Get Away - 2:34
3. Far and Away (R. Cox, G. Rolie, M. Shapiro, J. Shelton, S. Leidenthal) - 2:32
4. Blow my mind (G. Rolie, M. Shapiro, R. Cox, S. Leidenthal) - 2:25
5. There I go I've said it again - 2:29
6. E2D - 2:25
7. Blow my mind (Alternate Version) (G. Rolie, M. Shapiro, R. Cox, S. Leidenthal) - 2:06
8. Gotta get away (Alternate Version) - 2:44
9. There I go I've said it again (Alternate Version) - 2:36
10. Fly Fly PSA (R. Cox, N. Holtman, M. Shapiro, J. Shelton, S. Leidenthal, V. Justus) - 1:00
All songs by Mike Shapiro except where indicated.

William Penn And His Pals
*Neil  Holtman (aka William Penn) - Lead Vocals, Hawaiian Guitar Steel
*Ron Cox - Vocals, Drums
*Mike Shapiro - Lead Guitar, Rhythm Guitar, 12-String Guitar
*Steve Leidenthal - Vocals, Bass
*Jack Shelton - Rhythm Guitar
*Gregg Rolie - Vocals, Organ
*Mickey Hart - Drums
*Vern Justus - Voice Over

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The Syndicate Of Sound - Little Girl (1966 us, superb garage beat, Sundazed edition)



Formed in San Jose, CA, in1964, the Syndicate of Sound were one of the premier garage bands and forerunners of psychedelic rock, establishing a national following based on one massive 1966 hit, "Little Girl." Comprised of vocalist/guitarist Don Baskin guitarist/keyboardist John Sharkey, lead guitarist Larry Ray, bassist Bob Gonzalez, and drummer John Duckworth, the predecessors to the Syndicate of Sound were groups called the Pharoahs and Lenney Lee and the Nightmen. After winning a Bay Area “Battle of the Bands” the Syndicate recorded an unsuccessful single for Del-Fi, “Prepare for Love”. On January 9, 1966, the Syndicate off Sound recorded "Little Girl", penned by Gonzalez and Baskin, at a studio in San Francisco for Hush Records; it became a regional hit in California after San Jose radio station KLIV latched onto it, attracting the attention of executives at Bell Records in New York, who later asked the group to record an album.

"Little Girl" began to break nationally first in Oklahoma City, and the record entered Billboard Magazine's Top 40; just before the single broke, original guitarist left the band, and was replaced by Jim Sawyers. Bell Records was anxious to get their group on the road, the Syndicate of Sound toured constantly for the latter half of 1966, taking time off to tape TV shows like “American Bandstand” and “Where the Action Is”. James Brown, who appeared with them on one of the TV shows, was so impressed that he invited them to open his Cow Palace show in San Francisco.

Drummer Duckworth joined the 6th Army Band rather than risk being drafted, and was replaced by Carl Scott. The pressures of constant touring and the need for a second hit caused tension in the group that ended with Sharkey’s leaving. As a four-piece group the Syndicate of Sound went back on the road and toured with a number of notable bands. They shared the stage with the Yardbirds, Mitch Ryder, Neil Diamond, Paul Revere and the Raiders, the Association, ? and the Mysterions, Janice Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, Sam the Sham and the Pharoes, the Left Bank, the Rascals and many others.

Little Girl topped out at number 8 on Billboard in May of 1966. The group recorded three additional singles up to the end of 1969, "You're Lookin' Fine" (a Kinks cover), "Brown Paper Bag," and "Mexico." Baskin moved to Los Angeles in 1970— the only remaining original member of the band — mounted an unsuccessful attempt at recording another album for Capitol Records in 1970, and then he disbanded the group.

Over the years, other artists have rerecorded "Little Girl" such as England's the Banned, who made it a Top Ten hit, and a “Punk Rock” classic. The DeVinyls made a video of their single, "Little Boy" (a gender change from the original “Little Girl”) which became a hit on MTV, and Dwight Yokham featured the song on his La Crox D’Amour album and subsequently made his recording of “Little Girl” part of his acclaimed “reprise Please, baby” boxed set. Not too surprisingly, a new radio-programming concept called classic rock was catching on and began kicking the dust off the hits of the 1960s up to current. "Little Girl," naturally, was among those getting significant airplay. In June 2007 reached the milestone of having over 1,000,000 major market plays, spurring on renewed interest in the Syndicate of Sound.

In 1990, original members Bob Gonzalez, and Don Baskin, along with John Duckworth, put the band back together. They called on Jim Sawyers for guitar and Ned Torney for keyboard. Jim was with the band during all the heavy touring after “Little Girl” became a hit. After the passing of Ned Torney in the fall of 2005, the band continues on as a four piece. With its current line-up, the band features three of its original members.

In 1995, Gonzalez and company were informed by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Museum that they were installing a plaque with the bands picture to be displayed in the museum citing "Little Girl" as a pivotal song in the history of rock & roll. Next to it is a tape-looped recording of "Little Girl" played at 20-minute intervals. The band achieving status as one of the most notable “One Hit Wonders”.

“Little Girl” was picked up by Touchstone in the spring of 2002 to featured in it’s movie; “Sorority Boy’s”. And Dick Clark featured “Little Girl” during a few episodes of his NBC series “American Dreams”.

The Syndicate of Sound was inducted into the San Jose Rocks Hall of Fame during its inaugural induction ceremony, October 2006.

The constant resurgence and ongoing popularity of their hit “Little Girl”; and their cult status as one of the greatest “Garage Bands” ever; will give the Syndicate of Sound their place in Rock and Roll history.

Tracks
1. Big Boss Man (Luther Dixon, Al Smith) - 2:54
2. Almost Grown (Chuck Berry) - 2:11
3. So Alone (John Sharkey) - 3:04
4. Dream Baby (Cindy Walker) - 2:37
5. Rumors (John Sharkey) - 2:06
6. Little Girl (Don Baskin, Bob Gonzalez) - 2:27
7. That Kind of Man (Don Baskin) - 2:17
8. I'm Alive (C. Ballard Jr., Clint Ballard, Jr.) - 2:20
9. You (John Sharkey) - 2:44
10.Lookin' for the Good Times (John Sharkey) - 2:24
11.The Witch (G. Roslie) - 2:30
12.Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby? (Bill Austin, Louis Jordan) - 2:20
13.The Upper Hand - 2:14
14.Mary (Don Baskin) - 2:32
15.Keep It Up (Don Baskin) - 2:44
16.Good Time Music (Don Baskin) - 2:12

The Syndicate Of Sound
*Don Baskin - Flute, Saxophone, Vocals
*John Duckworth - Drums, Vocals
*Bob Gonzales - Bass
*John Sharkey - Guitars,  Keyboards, Organ, Piano, Vibraphone, Vocals
*Larry Ray - Lead Guitar
*Jim Sawyers - Guitar, Vocals

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