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Plain and Fancy

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

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Moonrider - Moonrider (1973-75 uk, ravishing guitar rock with country shades, 2011 remaster and expanded)

Singer/songwriter Keith West is most known for his work in the fine cult 1960s British psychedelic band Tomorrow, as well as for the big U.K. hit single he scored as a solo artist while in the group, "Excerpt from a Teenage Opera." He did continue to record for quite a while after Tomorrow broke up, however, both as a solo artist and, in the mid-'70s, as part of Moonrider. He was the main songwriter on Moonrider's self-titled album, though it also had some material by ex-Family/Animals guitarist John Weider; the group also included bassist Bruce Thomas, who would soon join Elvis Costello's backup band, the Attractions. 

Despite the relative wealth of well-known names for such an obscure group, however, Moonrider's album is somewhat unexpectedly ordinary mid-'70s mainstream rock. Although West and Weider were in notable psychedelic/progressive rock acts, the feel is surprisingly American-influenced; indeed, on "Having Someone," America (without the "n") influenced so much of it that the track recalls America (the band). It's a bit of a jolt to hear a British group bearing such prominent traces of mid-'70s California country rock and soft rock, with some similarities to the Eagles and Crosby, Stills & Nash in both the songs and harmonies. 

The songs are pleasant and jovial spins on these styles, but lack bite and originality, occasionally toughening things up mildly with bluesy or funky licks. [There's no faulting the packaging on the 2011 CD reissue on RPM, however, which adds lengthy historical liner notes with plenty of quotes from West. It also has five bonus tracks, including a previously unreleased West demo of a song that didn't make the album, "Baby Blue," and both sides of two solo singles West did for Deram in 1973 and 1974, the A-sides of which ("Riding for a Fall" and "Havin' Someone") would be re-recorded on the Moonrider album. The B-side of the 1973 single, "Days About to Rain," is notable as one of the most dead-on early-'70s Neil Young soundalikes ever cut.
by Richie Unterberger

1. Riding For A Fall - 3:40
2. Days About To Rain - 4:08
3. Havin' Someone - 3:23
4. Know There's No Livin' Without You - 3:34
5. Angel Of Mercy - 4:48
6. Having Someone - 4:31
7. Our Day's Gonna Come - 4:17
8. Good Things (John Weider) - 3:30
9. Living On The Main Street - 2:36
10.Too Early In he Morning - 3:37
11.Gold Digger - 3:39
12.Danger In The Night - 3:44
13.Riding For A Fall - 4:02
14.As Long As It Takes (John Weider) - 3:58
15.I Found Love (John Weider) - 3:20
16.Baby Blue - 3:49
All songs by Keith West except where indicated

The Moonrider
*Chico Greenwood - Drums
*Bruce Thomas - Bass
*John Weider - Guitar, Vocals
*Keith West - Guitar, Vocals

Related Acts
1968  Tomorrow - Tomorow
1966-68  Eric Burdon And The Animals - Roadrunners! Rare Live And Studio Recordings
1967  Eric Burdon And The Animals - Winds of Change (2013 japan SHM double disc remaster)
1968  Eric Burdon And The Animals - The Twain Shall Meet (2013 japan SHM remaster)
1969-73  Family - In Their Own Time (two disc set)
1970  Family - Anyway (bonus tracks edition)
1970  Family - A Song For Me (2004 japan remaster and expanded)
1971  Trifle - First Meeting (2010 remaster)
1971  Jodo - Guts
1971  Quiver - Quiver
1971-79  Sutherland Brothers And Quiver - The Very Best Of
1972  Roger Morris - First Album (korean remaster with extra tracks)

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Stephen Stills And Manassas - Down the Road (1973 us, excellent folk country latin classic rock, japan issue)

Stephen Stills and Manassas released a brilliant debut album in 1972 and it would become recognized as one of the better albums of its era. So what did they do for an encore? They issued a solid, if not brilliant follow-up.

Down The Road has been criticized as a poor album, but I have to disagree. It may not have had the highs of its predecessor, but there are also very few lows. Any of the tracks could have been included on their first album without reducing its quality. Unfortunately this was the last gasp for Manassas as Stephen Stills was again moving on. In retrospect he should have realized that this band was a keeper.

All the musicians from the classic first release were back. Drummer Dallas Taylor, guitarist Chris Hillman, percussionist Joe Lala, pianist Al Perkins, bassist Fuzzy Samuels, and steel guitarist Al Perkins formed a tight and talented unit. They were also a notable live band. Stills, Hillman, and Taylor shared production chores for the second album in a row.

The one fact which is very plain is the writing credits. Members of the group wrote or co-wrote five of the ten tracks with Stills. That means Stills took a solo writing credit for the other five, which was a much smaller percentage than the first album and may say something about his overall commitment.

There is a lot of listenable material here. “Isn’t It About Time” is a hard edged rocker with Joe Walsh bringing his guitar virtuosity to the mix. “Down The Road” is another competent rock tune. Even Chris Hillman gets into the rock ‘n’ roll act on “Lies” with his lyrics about superficial love. “Rollin’ The Stone” is the final track and it sends Manassas rocking into the night. To truly appreciate this track you need to turn your stereo system up to near sonic levels, sit back, and hang on to something.

My favorite track may be “Pensamiento” which is a nice Latin influenced rock fusion piece with Stills providing some stellar piano work.

Down The Road remains very representative of early seventies rock. It may not be a masterpiece but it is very good. It was also a farewell to one of the better bands of its time.
by David Bowling

1. Isn't It About Time - 3:02
2. Lies (Chris Hillman) - 2:55
3. Pensamiento (Nelson Escoto, Stephen Stills) - 2:37
4. So Many Times (Chris Hillman, Stephen Stills) - 3:31
5. Business Οn Τhe Street - 2:56
6. Do You Remember Τhe Americans - 2:10
7. Down Τhe Road - 3:17
8. City Junkies - 2:54
9. Guaguanco De Vero (Joe Lala, Stephen Stills) - 2:58
10.Rollin' My Stone (Calvin "Fuzzy" Samuels, Stephen Stills) - 4:47
All compositions by Stephen Stills except where stated

The Manassas
*Stephen Stills - Guitar, Piano, Bass, Vocals
*Dallas Taylor - Drums
*Chris Hillman - Guitar, Bass, Mandolin, Vocals
*Joe Lala - Percussion, Vocals
*Al Perkins - Guitar, Pedal Steel Guitar, Banjo
*Calvin "Fuzzy" Samuel - Bass, Vocals
*Paul Harris - Piano
*Joe Walsh - Slide Guitar
*Bobby Whitlock - Keyboards
*Sydney George - Flute
*Jerry Aiello - Organ
*Charlie Grimes - Guitar
*Guille Garcia - Percussion
*Lachy Espinol - Percussion
*Pat Arnold - Vocals

1970  Stephen Stills - Stephen Stills (2008 japan SHM remaster)
1971-73  Manassas - Pieces (2009 release)
1972  Stephen Stills - Manassas (2006 HDCD)  
1975-76/78  Stephen Stills - Stills / Illegal Stills / Thoroughfare Gap (2007 double disc issue)
Related Acts
1968  Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper, Steve Stills - The Super Sessions (2014 Hybrid Multichannel SACD 24/88)
1974  Crosby Stills Nash And Young - Live (2013 four discs box set)
1976  The Stills Young Band - Long May You Run
1979  McGuinn, Clark And Hillman - McGuinn, Clark And Hillman (2014 japan SHM remaster)

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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Juicy Lucy - Get A Whiff A This (1971 uk, great classic rock with country and blues traces, 2013 remaster)

For an impressionable teenager still in my final year at school, Juicy Lucy's version of Who Do You Love was a welcome injection of energetic blues-rock when it entered the U.K. singles chart. This was the dawning of the '70s however and for me the more adventurous sounds of King Crimson, Yes and Gentle Giant beckoned with my hard-rock cravings satisfied by the likes of Deep Purple and Uriah Heep. Juicy Lucy in the meantime followed the success of the single and their 1969 self-titled debut album with Lie Back And Enjoy It (1970), Get A Whiff A This (1971) and Pieces (1972).

By the time they came to record the third album, Get A Whiff A This, the band was all but unrecognisable from the one that had impressed the 15 year-old schoolboy less than two years earlier. Chris Mercer (saxophone, piano, organ) and Glenn Campbell (steel guitar) remained but along the way Paul Williams (vocals), Micky Moody (guitar), Rod Coombes (drums) and Jim Leverton (bass) had come on-board. Whilst these names may not carry the same weight now, back in the early '70s this was a formidable line-up by anyone's standards.

Singer Williams had a hand in most of the song-writing with a couple of cover versions thrown in to make up the numbers. Of these, it's Mr. Skin by American band Spirit that opens the album in fine style. With strong dynamics, this psychedelic proto-prog workout features a catchy introductory riff similar to Jan Ackerman's stumbling guitar bridge from Focus' Sylvia which this predates by a year. Juicy Lucy's version of The Allman Brothers' county-rock standard Midnight Rider on the other hand benefits from Williams' soulful vocal and Leverton's pumping bass line. 

Of the original songs, the R&B rocker Midnight Sun stands out thanks to a gutsy vocal and Coombes' intelligent drumming. The song's structure (if not the riff) is reminiscent of Deep Purple's Smoke On The Water which again did not appear until the following year. After this encouraging start however Juicy Lucy begin to run out of steam. Despite some superb guitar and bass interplay and another sold riff, Harvest is nothing to write home about whilst Mr. A. Jones is the first of three laidback country-rock tunes. With its pedal steel and acoustic guitar sound (in the style of The Faces) Mr. A. Jones sits comfortably alongside Sunday Morning with its Dr. Hook flavoured vocal and restrained guitar picking. 

Whilst not as successful as its predecessors, sales for Get A Whiff A This were not unreasonable but it failed to consolidate the band. Following its release Campbell, Mercer, Coombes and Leverton all bailed out leaving Williams and Moody to soldier on. After one more album they too called it a day although the band did eventually resurface in 1995. 
by Mark Hughes

1. Mr. Skin (Jay Ferguson) - 3:50
2. Midnight Sun (Paul Williams) - 3:48
3. Midnight Rider (Greg Alman, Kim Payne) - 3:19
4. Harvest (Bob Darin) - 4:19
5. Mr. A. Jones (Paul Williams) - 3:10
6. Sunday Morning (Paul Williams, Jim Leverton) - 3:57
7. Big Lil (Paul Williams) - 4:35
8. Jessica (Paul Williams, Mick Moody) - 4:10
9. Future Days (Jim Leverton) - 4:11

The Juicy Lucy
*Paul Williams - Vocals
*Chris Mercer - Keyboards, Saxophone
*Glenn "Ross" Campbell - Steel Guitar
*Micky Moody - Guitar
*Rod Coombes - Drums, Percussion
*Jim Leverton - Bass

1970  Juicy Luicy - Lie Back And Enjoy It (2010 remaster)
Related Acts
1965-66  The Misunderstood - Before The Dream Faded
1966-67/69  The Misunderstood - The Legendary Goldstar Album / Golden Glass  
1969  The Koobas - Koobas
1968  Tramline - Somewhere Down the Line (2008 digi sleeve)
1969  Tramline - Moves Of Vegetable Centuries
1969  Zoot Money - Transition (2009 edition)

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The British North American Act - In The Beginning... (1969 canada / uk, eminent garage acid psych)

Named for an act of British Parliament that helped establish the Canadian constitution, the British North-American Act were, fittingly enough, comprised of musicians from both Canada and the U.K. (though in the true spirit of internationalism, keyboard man Andy Bator was born in Hungary), and their sole album, originally released in 1969, is a gentle and likable fusion of folk-rock and psychedelia, with a bit of garage rock creeping in around the edges. "Joe Cool" is a swaggering tale of a self-styled ladies' man that wouldn't seem at all out of place on a vintage garage rock playlist (especially with Bob Allen's primal guitar work), and "If You're Looking for Honey" covers similar musical ground, but most of the album follows a gentler and trippier path, especially the sunny "Corduroy Coat," the languid and low-key "The World Would Understand," the baroque pop exercise "Just How Do You Feel" (complete with harpsichord), the moody and Farfisa-driven "Don't Run Away," and the bittersweet "Only a Dream." 

The light, poppy touch of many of these songs makes the British North-American Act sound just a bit behind the times for 1969 -- while most of their peers were cranking up their amps and dropping acid, these guys were seemingly following more benign pursuits, both musically and recreationally, but the songs are well crafted, the band plays them with strength and taste, and the 12 tunes are just varied enough to give the performances a broad musical palette without losing sight of the group's identity. 

Αt a time when bands were beginning to stretch their albums out to epic scale, In the Beginning... offers plenty of entertainment in an efficient 29 minutes. There's little that's visionary and life-changing about the British North-American Act, but they produced engaging and likable pop that deserves a wider hearing among fans of the music of the era. 
by Mark Deming

1. See How Free - 2:08
2. Baby Jane Days And Nights - 2:45
3. Only A Dream - 2:55
4. Joe Cool - 2:25
5. The World Would Understand - 2:34
6. I'll Find A Way - 2:02
7. Just How You Feel - 2:43
8. Corduroy Coat - 2:10
9. Give Yourself A Ride - 1:59
10.If You're Looking For Honey - 2:13
11.Don't Run Away - 2:34
12.All The World Is In Your Eyes - 2:14

The British North American Act
*Bob Allen - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Kirk Armstrong - Bass
*Andy Bator - Organ, Piano
*Rick Elger - Guitar, Harmonia, Vocals
*Dave McCall - Drums

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Friday, May 12, 2017

Boondoggle And Balderdash - Boondoggle And Balderdash (1971 us, magnificent country folk swamp rock, 2015 SHM edition)

Boondoggle and Balderdash are John Herron and Robert McLerran. Herron is a Colorado musician who performed with GNP in 1967. He was also with a group called "Climax" - not "Precious and Few" and then joined a later configuration of the Electric Prunes. Rob McLerran had been with a group called Spinning Wheel, and also an evolution of Boulder Colorado's surf band the Astronauts - called Hardwater. The two joined up to form Boondoggle. John died in an automobile accident in the 1990s.

John Herron and Rob McLerran released only album under alias name "Boondoggle & Balderdash" in 1971 and the album has been demanded by numerous collectors and music devotees over decades. This classic swamp rock legend reminds of The Band. 

1. Never Got To Know Him - 2:33
2. Mr. Driver - 2:33
3. Old Porch Swing - 3:52
4. When Will It All Be Over - 2:39
5. You Always Find A Way - 4:41
6. The Whiskey Got To Me - 2:29
7. Songs I'm Singing - 2:50
8. You've Got Me - 3:44
9. 7 A.M - 3:13
10.I've Been Delayed - 3:42
Music and Lyrics by John Herron, Robert McLerran

*John Herron - Keyboards, Vocals
*Robert McLerran - Guitar, Vocals
*Pete Wyant - Guitar
*Tom Dewey - Guitar
*George Bell - Guitar, Drums
*Dub Campbell - Guitar
*Tuck Andress - Guitar
*John Beland - Guitar
*Don Duca - Drums
*David Tanner - Bass
*Bob Barnes - Bass
*Rick Martincz - Bass
*Eddie Abner - Dobro
*Famous Darrell Leonard - Horns
*Velinore Snake - Horns

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Monday, May 8, 2017

Doctor Feelgood - Something To Take Up Time (1971 us, spectacular blues jazz rock with prog tinges, 2007 digipak remaster)

Doctor Feelgood evolved out of Boston’s North Shore music scene of the early 60s with Cooper, Corelle, and Winters having played in the rock band The Sensations.

Later that band evolved into Teddy And The Pandas issuing a few singles on Musicor and eventually signing to Capitol’s Tower label for one album. Playing mostly covers, along with a few originals, they got plenty of gigs at local school dances. But finding out that there was another band called the Sensations, a name change was in order. Looking through a dictionary, it was Cooper who came up with the Pandas, and it was a group decision to put Teddy Dewart’s name in front of it. Cooper soon left, replaced by drummer Jerry Labrecque. 

High school gigs turned into college gigs and club dates (the first was the Intermission Lounge in the Combat Zone), and the band traveled throughout New England, improving their stage act by, for instance, hiring a choreographer to teach them some good stage moves. Then they met promotion man Bruce Patch, who would end up being their producer after insisting that they trim down to a quintet by getting rid of Paul Daly. A 1965 visit to Ace Recording Studio in Boston resulted in two original songs: “Once Upon a Time” backed with “Bye Bye (Out the Window).” The record — first on the Coristine label, then rereleased on Musicor — was a local hit on WBZ and WMEX, and the band started getting some dates outside of New England, but it failed to chart nationally. When a couple of follow-up singles didn’t take off, they parted ways with Musicor, eventually recording the 10-song 1968 album Basic Magnetism on Capitol’s subsidiary, Tower Records. 

Dewart had left the band to go to college, and was replaced by guitarist Paul Rivers, but Dewart contributed to the album and got a “guest artist” credit. The album went nowhere, and in 1969, Corelle and Rivers left to form the band Doctor Feelgood (not to be confused with the British pub rockers), reuniting with Sensations members Winters and Cooper, releasing one album, 1971’sSomething To Take Up Time. That was the end of the Pandas. But in 2002 a collection of alternate takes and demos, titled Rarities and Forgotten Gems, was released and the band has reunited for the occasional concert in Beverly, with Dewart on guitar.
by Ed Symkus

Dr. Feelgood rounded it out with two of the original Sensations, saxophonist Dick Winters and drummer Ralph Cooper. At the time both were members of another North Shore group, the Warlocks. “They left the Warlocks, and we left the Pandas to start our own band,” Corelle says. “When Paul and I left, the Pandas didn’t replace us. They just stopped playing.” 

Dr. Feelgood played gigs around New England for about three years, then disbanded when a deal with Epic Records fell through. They did record one jazz-rock album, “Something to Take Up Time,” with producer Larry Patch on an independent label. Corelle speaks highly of Winter’s contributions to that album. 

“Dickie picked up the flute in addition to both tenor and soprano sax,” he says. “He played two saxes at the same time. There weren’t too many (musicians) who could play double horn. He did a lot of solos and double horn work on the album. It was incredible.” 
by Joseph Tortelli

1. Number Ten - 2:49
2. The Roach Did It - 3:05
3. Smoke Dream - 8:51
4. Mr. Bojangles - 2:36
5. Medicine Man - 4:06
6. Nasal Greens And Toe Jam - 3:13
7. Hey Gyp - 5:15
8. 5 XR.V.W - 6:08
9. Something To Take Up Time - 7:39
10.Junk - 5:29

The Doctor Feelgood
*Dick Winters - Vocals, Flute, Tenor, Baritone, Soprano Saxophones, Maracas
*Ralph Cooper - Drums, Congas, Maracas
*Bill Corelle - Bass Guitar, Cow Bell
*Paul Rivers - Electric, Acoustic Guitar

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Thursday, May 4, 2017

Gary Wright And Wonderwheel - Ring Of Changes (1972 us / uk, astonishing soulful classic rock, 2016 release)

In a career spanning seven decades, there’s little Gary Wright hasn’t accomplished.  Having earned a role on Broadway before hitting his teenage years, the musically-talented New Jersey native moved to London, formed Spooky Tooth, befriended George Harrison, played on hit records from Harrison, Ringo Starr and Harry Nilsson, and launched his own successful career with smashes like “Dreamweaver” and “Love is Alive.”  But one chapter of the Gary Wright story has been long lost: his 1972 album Ring of Changes, recorded with his band Wonderwheel for A&M Records.  Though singles were released bearing the promise “From the album Ring of Changes,” the LP never arrived…until now.  Esoteric Recordings, an imprint of Cherry Red Group, has teamed with Universal Music for the first release of Ring of Changes this Friday, July 29.

Singer-songwriter/keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist Wright departed Spooky Tooth in January 1970 to pursue a solo career, signing with Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss’ legendary A&M label and recording Extraction that spring.  The following year, he recorded his sophomore set, Footprint.  When Footprint failed to perform to expectations, Wright decided to return to a band format.  He formed Wonderwheel with guitarist-singer Mick Jones, later of Foreigner, as well as bassist Tom Duffey and drummer Bryson Graham.  The group traveled to Apple Studios on Savile Row in London to record the album that became Ring of Changes.  

Most of the album comprised straight-ahead, melodic and muscular rock tunes, but a softer, Laurel Canyon influence was also detectable on the more acoustic-oriented, harmony-laden cuts.  George Harrison, who frequently welcomed Wright to his own LPs, played a trademark slide guitar solo on the mid-tempo, country-flecked ballad “Goodbye Sunday” which Wright wrote with his sister Lorna Lee.  (In the liner notes to Esoteric’s first-time issue, the artist also indicates that Harrison may have played on other tracks, but it’s difficult to confirm as Mick Jones had also picked up the slide at that time.)

A&M released “I Know” on 45 RPM in the U.S., Italy and Germany (b/w “Tonight It’s Right,” not included on this release), and the anthemic “Ring of Changes” b/w “Somebody” in the U.K., but no album was forthcoming.   The decision was made by A&M to shelve Ring of Changes.  Its fate led Wright to re-establish Spooky Tooth, this time with Wonderwheel’s Jones and eventually Graham coming on board.  The LP sat in the A&M vaults for more than 40 years, but Esoteric is finally presenting this lost rock classic in full with three bonus tracks: the outtake “What We Can Do,” and the non-LP sides “I Know” and “Somebody.”

Mark Powell provides the informative liner notes in the color 14-page booklet here, drawing on a new interview with Gary Wright, and Wright himself has newly mastered the album with Kevin Bartley at Hollywood’s Capitol Studios.  
by Joe Marchese

1. Lovetaker - 4:34
2. Wild Bird - 3:43
3. Something For Us All - 4:10
4. Set On You - 3:59
5. Ring Of Changes - 3:53
6. Goodbye Sunday - 4:35
7. For A Woman - 5:03
8. Workin' On A River - 3:58
9. Creation - 5:19
10.I Know (Gary Wright) - 2:57
11.What Can We Do (Mick Jones, Gary Wright) - 5:09
12.Somebody (Gary Wright) - 2:50

The Wonderwheel
*Gary Wright - Vocals, Keyboard, Guitar
*Mick Jones - Lead, Acoustic Guitars, Vocals
*Tom Duffey - Bass, Vocals
*Bryson Graham - Drums
*George Harrison - Slide Guitar

1971-72  Gary Wright - Extraction / Footprint
Related Acts
1968  Spooky Tooth - It's All About (2005 and 2010 SHM)
1969  Spooky Tooth - Spooky Two (2005 remaster and 2010 SHM)

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Monday, May 1, 2017

Diamond Reo - Diamond Reo (1975 us, excellent hard groovy glam rock, 2008 digi pak remaster)

The Diamond Reo band was founded in 1974 by Frank Zuri, Bob McKeag, Norman Nardini and Robbie Johns. McKeag and Zuri played together earlier in the group Igniters, which managed to release only one single in 1968 at Atlantic Records. 

With the contribution of this company and the production of Tom Cossie, the Diamond Reo members release their first eponymous LP for less than a year after their creation.

With the cover version of Marvin Gaye's song "Is Not That Peculiar," the band had some nationwide success and toured in the States along with Kiss, Kansas, Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, Frank Zappa, Ian Hunter, Blue Oyster Cultem and Canned Heat.

1. Rock 'N' Roll Till I Die (Bob McKeag) - 3:27
2. I Want You (J. MacDonald) - 3:43
3. Work Hard Labor (J. MacDonald) - 3:03
4. Thing For You (Bob McKeag) - 3:19
5. Nowhere To Run (Brian Holland, Edward Holland, Jr., Lamont Dozier) - 3:15
6. Ain't That Peculiar (Marvin Tarplin, Robert Rogers, Smokey Robinson, Warren Moore) - 2:45
7. Lover In The Sky (Bob McKeag) - 3:17
8. It's Gonna Be Alright (J. MacDonald) - 3:54
9. Sittin' On Top Of The Blues (Bob McKeag) - 3:21
10.I'm Movin' On (J. MacDonald) - 4:20

The Diamond Reo
*Norman Nardini - Vocals, Bass
*Bob McKeag - Guitars, Vocals, Bag
*Frank Zuri - Voclas, Keyboards
*Rob Jones - Drums, Percussion, Vocals
*Warren King - Guitars
*Al Mossburg - Acoustic Guitar
*Ed Jonnet - Tenor, Alto, Soprano Saxophones
*Chris Patarini - Tenor Saxophone
*Van Crozier - Baritone, Alto Saxophones

1976  Diamond Reo - Dirty Diamonds (2012 remaster)

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Locomotive - Locomotive (1969 us, good hard bluesy rock, 2013 reissue)

Guitarist John Ussery wrote almost all the songs, and he is a functional blues player with an appropriately slightly scratchy voice. But the band has an almost ceaseless approach to blues/rock, with a bit of contemporary roots-rock thrown in for good measure.

1. Big City Car - 2:39
2. Get On Away - 3:16
3. Barbara Jean - 3:24
4. All Come Free - 4:35
5. Catch You Later - 4:29
6. Thinking Of You - 4:44
7. Roberta - 3:33
8. Wah Wah - 2:34
9. Don't Cut Your Hair (Johnson, John Ussery) - 3:57
10.Move On Up - 3:55
All songs by John Ussery except where noted

The Locomotive
*Pat Clausing - Keyboards
*Russ Kammerer - Drums
*Skip Morehouse - Keyboards
*Bill Stroum - Bass
*John Ussery - Guitar, Vocals

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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Terry Dolan - Terry Dolan (1972 us, amazing classic rock with psych country and blues flavours, 2016 remaster and expanded)

On April 24, 1971, the San Francisco Examiner ran a piece titled “The Hit That Isn't a Record.” It was about an unsigned local musician named Terry Dolan who was “doing the impossible – having a hit without making a record.” A demo tape Dolan had cut with Rolling Stones' piano man Nicky Hopkins had found its way into heavy rotation on two FM underground stations, and one of the songs, Inlaws and Outlaws, was lighting up the phones. The article would prove strangely prescient, because after the demo helped land him a deal with Warner Brothers, Dolan made a record that never became a record. At least not until forty-four years later.

Music history is peppered with lost albums, those vinyl equivalents of Atlantis – from The Beach Boys' Smile to Prince's Black Album. But what if not only a landmark album went missing in time, but along with it an artist and the potential of an entire career?

“Who knows what would've happened with Terry's career had it come out in 1972?” says Mike Somavilla. “Who knows what his next album for Warner Brothers would've sounded like?”

Somavilla, a resident San Francisco music expert and fan, spent twenty-seven years, on and off, considering these questions as he worked to get Dolan's lost album released. “I made it my life's ambition,” he says. “A long time ago, Terry gave me a cassette of it, then when I moved out to the Bay Area in 1987, he gave me one of the original test pressings. It was like getting one of the lost pieces of San Francisco's music scene, the holy grail.”

That holy grail, co-produced by Nicky Hopkins and Pete Sears (a multi-instrumentalist featured on Rod Stewart's early work), included a stellar cast of 70s-era west coast musicians including Greg Douglass, Prairie Prince, John Cipollina and Neal Schon. Heard today, the album brings to mind classics from that year like Leon Russell's Carney and Elton John's Honky Chateau - a soulful singer-songwriter collection given rock and gospel muscle through energetic arrangements and Dolan's powerful tenor voice.

Born and raised in Connecticut, Terry Dolan picked up a guitar at age 14, soaking up songs by Hank Williams and Leadbelly. Inspired by the burgeoning folk scene of the early '60s, he dropped out of college to pursue a career. In 1965, he moved to San Francisco, quickly finding a place strumming in the city's Haight-Ashbury and North Beach coffee houses. As he sang in Inlaws and Outlaws: “When I came, I came along for the ride / yeah, we were coming into ‘Frisco, I believe so good to be alive…”

In the mid-1960s, San Francisco was briefly nicknamed “Liverpool of the West” because of the burgeoning music scene. KSOL radio disc jockey Sylvester “Sly” Stone was moonlighting as a producer for bands like The Mojo Men and The Beau Brummels. Experimental author Ken Kesey was throwing the first of his infamous “acid tests” at the Fillmore, with psychedelic rock band Jefferson Airplane supplying the fuzzed-out soundtrack. And at the hippie church known as the The Avalon, the first trippy light show projected pulsing liquid blobs across the laid-back country rock epics of the Grateful Dead.

London-born Pete Sears, who'd end being a co-producer on Dolan's record, and moved to San Francisco in 1968, says, “It felt like a new frontier. The scene was like folk music plugged in. There was a freedom, a character. Being next to the bay, having all these clubs that were open late at night, a community of musicians. It was an anything goes atmosphere, with bands everywhere.”

Dolan sometimes joked that he was “too hard for folk, too soft for hard rock,” but by 1970, he'd found his niche in clubs like Matrix and Keystone Korner, mixing his east coast coffee house ballad sensibility with a more energetic, jam-friendly west coast sound.

Greg Douglass, guitarist for psych-rock band Country Weather, (and later Steve Miller Band) says of Dolan, “He had balls for days, getting up in front of our audience, armed with only his voice, guitar, and a fiery, Irish inner-flame goading him.”

Douglass was a key player in the demo session with Hopkins that led to the record deal with Warners. But he recalls that there were problems right out of the gate. “Things became bogged down due to Nicky's schedule,” he says. “Everybody wanted his time and talent, and the Rolling Stones were a tad higher on the food chain than Terry. Finally, Terry tearfully appealed to Nicky, and time was scheduled.”

With a band that included John Cipollina, Prairie Prince, Lonnie Turner, and The Pointer Sisters, the first side of Dolan's album went to tape at Wally Heider's studio in January 1972. Expectations were high. But the momentum was soon halted, as Hopkins was called away for overdubs on the Stones' Exile on Main Street, then a US tour. Warner Brothers hedged on the budget to finish. “Terry had lost not only his producer, but also one of the chief bargaining chips that got him his deal in the first place,” says Douglass. “Terry's album was the first thing Nicky had ever produced, and Terry became a victim of the fact that Mr. Hopkins was now the hottest keyboard player in rock. Terry was beyond distraught. The label was pissed.”

Enter Pete Sears. “There'd been a really long gap,” he says. “It was August when I came in to do side two. The label was running out of money, and there something going on with Warners. I think Terry's A & R guy had left the label, and the relationship had deteriorated.”

Sears called in favours to get a good deal at Pacific Recorders and recruited guitarists Greg Douglass and Neal Schon, and David Weber on drums. “I played bass, piano and organ,” he says. “It's hard to remember the details. We did the entire side in three and a half days. It was just another session, in some regards. But it was good fun, and Terry was a great singer.”

With the master tapes, artwork and photos by Herb Greene in hand, Warner Brothers slated the record for February 1973. But two months before, they canceled the release and dropped Dolan from the label.

Sears says, “It's a very common story in the music business. An artist gets signed, everyone's excited, then the champion at the label gets fired or leaves, and it's like turning off a tap.”

Douglass adds, “Without Nicky's complete participation, Warners deemed the album not commercially viable and decided not to release it. Terry was inconsolable and I didn't hear from him for a very long time.”

Somavilla says, “He eventually moved on and got over the disappointment, and kept making music.” His band Terry and The Pirates, including Greg Douglass and John Cipollina, were beloved mainstays of the San Francisco scene through the 1980s, releasing several indie albums. By 1989, Somavilla had befriended Dolan and told him he intended to get the rights back to his lost album.

“Terry said, 'Good luck, have fun,'” Somavilla says. “When I contacted Warners the first time, they ignored me. As time went by, I couldn't live with no answer, so I tried again, and was told that the master belonged to them in perpetuity. I still didn't like that answer. More time went by. Then George Wallace from High Noon Records was out here looking for lost music, and I played him the test pressing. From the first notes, he fell in love. We got a lawyer down in LA. The pieces finally came together, and my dream came true. And Terry's too.”

Unfortunately, Dolan didn't live to see the release (he died of heart failure in 2012). But his wife Angie and several of the session musicians have joined Somavilla in celebrating the lost album, which came out in November 2016.

Sears says, “Terry's record really captures the Marin County scene that was going on in the early 1970s. It was a moment in time. There's a rawness about it. All this collision of folk and rock and gospel, this interplay between the musicians. We did what we felt like doing. There wasn't much thought about whether it was commercial, but there are some songs on there that could've been radio hits.”

Somavilla says, “I've done forty-three record deals for different artists since 1992 and I'm proud of each and every one, but this is the high bar. Terry gave me my start in the business and to bring this out for the public, with it looking so sharp and sounding so good, it's really gratifying.”

He adds with a laugh, “Now I'm just waiting it for it to go gold.”
by Bill DeMain

1. See What Your Love Can Do - 3:20
2. Angie - 5:33
3. Rainbow - 5:01
4. Inlaws And Outlaws - 5:21
5. Purple An Blonde...? - 4:54
6. Burgundy Blues - 5:36
7. Magnolia - 7:26
8. To Be For You - 1:16
9. Inlaws and Outlaws - Take 18 - 6:08
10.See What Your Love Can Do - Take 14 - 3:21
11.Angie - Take 12 - 5:22
12.Rainbow - Take 2 - 6:13
13.See What Your Love Can Do - Take 12 - 3:24
14.Inlaws And Outlaws - Dirt Leg Mix - 6:08
All songs by Terry Dolan except Track #7 by J.J. Cale and Track #8 co-written with Pete Sears

*Terry Dolan - Guitar, Vocals
*John Cipollina - Guitar, Slide Guitar
*Angie Dolan - Handclapping
*Greg Douglass - Guitar, Soloist
*Spencer Dryden - Percussion
*Mic Gillette - French Horn
*Nicky Hopkins - Arranger, Piano
*Kathi Mcdonald - Vocals
*The Pointer Sisters - Vocals
*Prairie Prince - Drums
*Neal Schon - Guitar, Soloist
*Pete Sears - Bass, Guitar, Keyboards, Piano
*Lonnie Turner - Bass, Wind Chimes
*David Weber - Drums
*Dallas Williams - Vocals

1973  Copperhead - Copperhead

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Mortimer - On Our Way Home (1969 us, wondrous baroque folk country light psych rock, 2017 release)

I can remember seeing a while back an old reprint of advertisement for the Beatles Apple label, showing a one man band who in the ad copy signed to the Fabs label and subsequently made enough to run a Bentley. Looking back now, it seems very much the only people who actually struck gold via Apple were the lawyers. New Yorker trio Mortimer certainly didn’t. They did however manage to get their eponymous debut released on Phillips in 1968, but despite the personal intervention of George Harrison to get the band on board at Apple, the follow up recorded for the label was left to languish unloved for nearly 50 years until its release now. Originally intended to be released after the Iveys album (the future Badfinger got stiffed in the same way too) in the summer of 1969, this record was produced by Peter Asher (Macca’s the girlfriend Jane’s brother), but for reasons we will go into later never managed to reach the pressing plant.

Mortimer had their roots in Garage quintet the Teddy Boys, who cut four well-received singles for Cameo Parkway in 1966. On the back of that they offered the chance to record an album which was duly completed, but Cameo were taken over by Abkco (the company of one Allen Klein, who will loom large in the Mortimer story unfortunately) and the record was junked. The Teddy Boys were aghast at this setback after their hard work, but slimming down to a three piece they threw themselves into work on the New York Folk circuit (even though they were hardly a folk band at all). This got them noticed by manager Danny Secunda (brother of The Move’s handler Tony), who after organising their debut album with Phillips, decided that they would be able to make more impact in the UK.

Details are sketchy but as to why “On Our Way Home” was not released at the time, but a key element seems to have been the arrival of Allen Klein (lightning did strike twice for Mortimer unfortunately) at Apple replacing their fervent backer Ron Kass. One might have thought Klein was nurturing some sort of grudge against the Mortimer boys and drummer Guy Masson was unceremoniously escorted out of Apple by Klein’s “business associates” when he tried to find out if that was the case. Whatever the reasons, in the can the LP remained ever since.

Which is a great shame, because the majority of the LP is jolly good, in fact a bit of a masterclass in late 60s Soft Pop Sike. Mortimer came on like an acoustic Beach Boys/Bee Gees mix up, lots of tight harmony singing with fans of the Lovin’ Spoonful finding much to enjoy here I would think too. Though Mortimer specialised in lazy, hazy sunny day Pop occasionally they did produce the odd tougher offering – “You Do Too” is faster, harder hitting and there is some stinging fuzz guitar, perhaps as a look back to their Teddy Boys days. Singer Tom Smith’s voice is a little reminiscent at times of Mickey Dolenz, no bad thing of course and this song does recall one of the Monkees’ more “out-there” efforts. “Don’t Want To See You Anymore” is a sparsely accompanied beauty and “I Don’t Know” seems in a mad rush to cover as many Pop modes as possible, with orchestral strings jostling with MOR/Easy Listening and Beat to dazzling effect.

Of the bonus tracks “Christine Tildsley” is a very pretty Harmony Pop character portrait, “Last Of The H” starts with an atypical chant/bongo combination and “Ingenue’s Theme” is a lovely piece of John Sebastian/Paul Simon-style slowly drifting Folk Rock. The title track here was given to them by Paul McCartney (later cut by the Fabs as “Two Of Us”)”, but otherwise the entire record was all self-penned by the three band members, showing such a sure talent for composition that Macca’s effort doesn’t over-shadow the other writing here at all.

Sadly the set-back from Apple HQ was the final straw for the band as Mortimer split and though Smith and bass player Tony Van Benschoten stayed in the UK (mindful of possibly being drafted to ‘Nam on their return home), Guy Masson did go back to the Big Apple to play on the Van Morrison LP “Moondance”. It’s a real shame as that was the last time any of the trio recorded, as they were clearly a talented bunch, thwarted by business concerns rather than any fault on their part. “On Our Way Home” stands up in 2017 as a gentle but alluring 60s Pop album of no small charm and merit.
by Ian Canty

1. On Our Way Home (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) - 3:06
2. I Didn't Know - 3:38
3. You Do Too - 3:12
4. Dolly - 4:43
5. People Who Are Different - 5:41
6. You Don't Say You Love Me - 3:03
7. Miles Apart - 3:12
8. Don't Want to See You Anymore - 3:58
9. No Business Being Here - 3:06
10.In Memory Of Her - 3:15
11.Pick Up Your Heart - 4:50
12.Christine Tildsley - 3:39
13.Last Of The "H" - 4:22
14.Laugh Children Laugh - 2:46
15.Ingenue's Theme - 2:24
All compositions by Guy Masson, Tom Smith, Tony Van Benschoten

*Guy Masson - Vocals, Drums, Percussion
*Tom Smith - Vocals, Guitar
*Tony Van Benschoten - Vocals, Bass, Guitar
Richard Hewson - Piano, Arrangements

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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Timber - Bring America Home (1971 us, great rural psych rock with funky vibes, 2009 extra tracks issue)

A curious mix of white-boy boogie-funk and more rural material, reminiscent of Leon Russell and Little Feat, with Wayne Berry apparently the more versatile songwriter: he contributes a couple of the more effective funk-pop tunes, as well as some twangier, more acoustic material, such as the overtly country "Canada" and the softer, folkie ballad, "Don't Underestimate Your Friends." I'd say Clinton got into heavier, deeper grooves, though I like Berry's songs better. 

Several tracks also feature a third vocalist, Judy Elliott, a more folk-oriented singer who recorded with Timber on both their albums, and later did some work with Hoyt Axton... I find her a little distracting because she seems stylistically out of sync with the blues-rock vocals of the guys, but she helps create a funky feel in their choruses.

Also worth noting is the album's political content - the opening tracks are about social decay and the draft-dodging of the Vietnam War era, while the rest fo the songs are more oblique and veiled, fuzzy ruminations about life and spirituality that are pretty typical of the era. 

1. Bring America Home (George Clinton) - 3:01
2. Canada - 2:25
3. Pipe Dream - 3:30
4. Remember (George Clinton) - 4:25
5. Don't Underestimate Your Friends - 3:22
6. Witch Hunt - 2:26
7. The Spirit Song - 2:47
8. Caught In The Middle - 3:54
9. Same Ole Story (George Clinton) - 4:00
10.From The Time I Rise - 6:20
11.Outlaw - 4:42
12.Song For Two Signs - 3:23
13.Splinters From Timber - 6:01
All compositions by Wayne Berry unless as else stated

The Timber
*Wayne Berry - Vocals, Bass, Guitar
*George Clinton - Vocals, Keyboards, Woodwinds, Autoharp
*Warner Charles Davis - Drums, Percussion
*Judy Elliott - Vocals
*Roger Johnson - Lead Guitar, Vocals

1970  Part Of What You Hear (Vinyl Edition)  

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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Zakary Thaks - It's The End The Definitive Collection (1966-69 us, magnificent tight garage rock, 2015 remaster)

Although our hometown Corpus Christi is somewhat isolated on the Texas coast, in the 1960s it had a very active local music scene, which turned out to be the proving ground for the Zakary Thaks to develop a unique style and sound. From the outset, we were hell-bent on growing a reputation of being one of the rowdiest yet tightest bands around.

It’s hard to imagine it has been almost 50 years since the nucleus of the Zakary Thaks was formed. What is equally notable is in that time we have seen over a half-dozen compilations of our vintage recordings. Still, there were a number of tracks which had never been sourced from the original master tapes. When we briefly reunited in 2005 and found ourselves back in Sugarhill Studios inHouston, chief engineer Andy Bradley played us a song we had totally forgotten about recording – ‘A Passage To India’. We were shocked!

Even more exciting was the news Alec Palao had unearthed several more lost Thaks masters, in addition to those missing tape reels. With their discovery, Alec felt the time had come to put out a definitive anthology of our material – and we couldn’t agree more! It feels as though new life has been breathed into our songs, now that they’ve been professionally presented from the original sources.

We have never been more proud than with the release of this collection. The new discoveries, the title track, ‘It’s The End’, along with ‘She’s Got You’, have elevated the Thaks brand to the next level, and hopefully cemented our legacy in the annals of garage rock. The Zakary Thaks raison d’etre was and always will be making unabashed yet well-executed music. And now finally, Ace Records has captured that.
by Chris Gerniottis

1. She's Got You (Chris Gerniottis, John Lopez, Pete Stinson, Rex Gregory, Stan Moore) - 2:18
2. Bad Girl (Chris Gerniottis, John Lopez, Pete Stinson, Rex Gregory, Stan Moore) - 2:08
3. Face To Face (Chris Gerniottis, John Lopez) - 2:45
4. Won't Come Back (Chris Gerniottis, John Lopez) - 2:46
5. It's The End (Chris Gerniottis, John Lopez, Pete Stinson, Rex Gregory, Stan Moore) - 2:58
6. I Need You (Ray Davies) - 2:28
7. Please (Mike Taylor) - 2:06
8. A Passage To India (Chris Gerniottis, Pete Stinson) - 2:34
9. Mirror Of Yesterday (Mike Taylor, Rex Gregory) - 2:57
10.My Door (John Lopez, Rex Gregory, Stan Moore) - 3:33
11.Can You Hear Your Daddy's Footsteps (Mike Taylor) - 2:33
12.Green Crystal Ties (John Lopez, Rex Gregory, Stan Moore) - 3:30
13.Outprint (Chris Gerniottis, John Lopez, Rex Gregory, Stan Moore) - 2:12
14.Weekday Blues (Chris Gerniottis, Dennis Rasmussen, John Lopez, Stan Moore) - 3:01
15.Everybody Wants To Be Somebody (Chris Gerniottis, John Lopez, Rex Gregory, Stan Moore) - 2:55
16.Face To Face (Alternate Version Take 12) (Chris Gerniottis, John Lopez) - 3:04
17.Please (Alternate Stero Mix) (Mike Taylor) - 2:10
18.Mirror Of Yesterday (Alternate Stereo Mix) (Mike Taylor, Rex Gregory) - 3:07
19.Can You Hear Your Daddy's Footsteps (Alternate Stero Version) (Mike Taylor) - 2:39
20.I'd Only Laugh (Alternate Version) (Mike Taylor) - 3:05
21.People Sec. IV (Mike Taylor) - 3:01
22.Gotta Make My Heart Turn Away (Lofton Kline, Mike Taylor) - 2:42

The Zakary Thaks
*Mike Taylor - Vocals
*Rex Gregory - Bass, Keyboards, Vocals
*Stan Moore - Drums
*John Lopez - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Chris Gerniottis - Lead Vocals (Tracks 1 - 9, 11, 13 - 19)
*Pete Stinson - Rhythm Guitar (Tracks 1 - 9, 11, 13 - 19)

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

We The People - Too Much Noise (1966 us, awesome garage beat, 2008 reissue)

Although they were blessed with two excellent in-house songwriters (Wayne Proctor and Tommy Talton) and produced several above-the-mill garage band singles in the mid-'60s, Florida's We the People never captured any kind of national attention, which is hard to believe given the vitality, quality, and proto-punk punch of the band's material. After releasing a debut single for Florida label Hotline Records in early 1966, the group signed with West coast-based Challenge Records, eventually issuing three excellent singles with them in 1966 before jumping to RCA Victor in 1967. This set collects both sides of those three singles and adds in a host of previously unreleased tracks from the group's stay at Challenge, essentially creating, some 40 years later, the album We the People never had the opportunity to make for the label.

Consisting entirely of original material written by either Proctor or Talton, the first thing that strikes home is how cohesive this set is. It sounds like an actual album and not just a collection of odds and ends, and songs like the garage band anthem "Too Much Noise," the striking surf-raga "In the Past," the impressive and kinetically psychedelic "Mirror of Your Mind," the delightfully punky bossa nova "(You Are) The Color of Love," and the lovely, string-laden "St. John's Shop" are all top-notch tracks, usually delivered with a punk intensity and sneering vocals that are all the more striking because they are actually based around fully realized melodies.

In a fair world, We the People should have been a widely lauded and celebrated band, but time doles out fate, and the band remains an obscure cult treasure. Too Much Noise does a good job of showcasing the band's brief stay at Challenge. Collectables' Declaration of Independence release presents a stripped down survey of the band's best singles and Sundazed's two-disc Mirror of Our Minds covers the whole arc of their recording career, and both are worth checking out as well. 
by Steve Leggett

1. You Burn Me Up And Down - 2:24
2. My Brother The Man (Wayne Proctor) - 2:09
3. By The Rule - 2:07
4. Mirror Of Your Mind - 2:46
5. Declaration Of Independence (Wayne Proctor) - 2:20
6. Free Information - 2:27
7. Too Much Noise - 2:27
8. In The Past (Wayne Proctor) - 2:36
9. Half Of Wednesday (Wayne Proctor) - 2:18
10.(You Are) The Color Of Love - 2:29
11.Beginning Of The End (Wayne Proctor) - 1:57
12.He Doesn't Go About It Right - 2:30
13.Alfred, What Kind Of Man Are You? (Wayne Proctor) - 2:28
14.St. John's Shop (Wayne Proctor) - 2:26
All songs by Tommy Talton except where indicated

We The People
*Tommy Talton - Vocals, Guitar
*Wayne Proctor - Guitar
*Lee Ferguson - Drums
*Randy Boyte - Keyboards
*David Duff - Bass

1964-67  We The People - Mirror Of Our Minds (2 Disc Set)

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Sunday, April 9, 2017

Audience - Lunch (1972 uk, sublime electric folk prog rock, 2015 bonus tracks remaster)

Audience rose from the ashes of a semi-professional soul band named Lloyd Alexander Real Estate, which had included all the Audience members with the exception of Connor, who had unsuccessfully auditioned for the earlier band when John Richardson left to form The Rubettes. However, when Werth, Williams, and Gemmell decided to form their new band, it was Connor who came to mind as the right man to complete the line-up.

Audience recorded three albums with Charisma, the members producing and designing the first Friends Friends Friend themselves before bringing in legendary producer Gus Dudgeon and top record sleeve designers Hipgnosis to get the best from their follow-up albums House on the Hill and Lunch.

Their first two albums were not issued in the U.S. Elektra signed them (around the time Elektra signed Lindisfarne, another Charisma group), and their final two albums were issued in the U.S.

Dudgeon's first 45rpm production for the band, "Indian Summer", took the band into the lower reaches of the U.S. charts, but by this time they were exhausted and fractious, having worked virtually non-stop for three years. A U.S. tour with Rod Stewart and The Faces, although successful, brought things to a head, resulting in Gemmell leaving the band.

The unfinished Lunch album was completed with the help of The Rolling Stones and Mad Dogs and Englishmen brass section, Jim Price and Bobby Keys, following which they went straight back on the road with new members Pat Charles Neuberg, from Joyce Bond Revue, on alto and soprano sax and ex-B B Blunder Nick Judd on electric piano.

The new line-up never really worked well together, and Williams, the band's main lyricist, resigned eight months later. When Nick Judd received an offer to join Juicy Lucy, the band folded. Judd later went on to join Alan Bown, The Andy Fraser Band, Brian Eno, Frankie Miller and Sharks, most recently emerging in a Madness spin-off band.

Soon after Howard Werth released his first solo album, still with Charisma and produced by Dudgeon. Called King Brilliant, his band, containing members of Hookfoot and with Mike Moran on keyboards, was dubbed Howard Werth and The Moonbeams, and came close to having a major hit with Lucinda. However, it wasn't to be, and when he was headhunted by The Doors (Audience stable-mates on the U.S. Elektra record label) to replace Jim Morrison, Werth left for the USA. In any event, The Doors did not reform, and Werth found himself engaged in numerous short term projects with Doors' keyboard man Ray Manzarek and musicians from Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band before returning to the UK in the early 1980s. Although appearing live only occasionally, Werth subsequently recorded two more solo albums, 6 of 1 and Half a Dozen of the Other on Demon Records and The Evolution Myth Explodes for his own Luminous Music label.

1. Stand by the Door (Howard Werth) - 3:57
2. Seven Sore Bruises - 2:38
3. Hula Girl (Howard Werth, Keith Gemmell) - 2:41
4. Ain't the Man You Need - 3:20
5. In Accord (Tony Connor, Trevor Williams) - 4:56
6. Barracuda Dan - 2:20
7. Thunder and Lightning (Howard Werth) - 3:37
8. Party Games - 3:19
9. Trombone Gulch - 2:42
10.Buy Me an Island (Howard Werth) - 5:13
11.Grief And Disbelief - 4:05
12.Hard Cruel World - 3:38
13.Elixir Of Youth - 3:20
All songs by Howard Werth, Trevor Williams unless otherwise written.

*Howard Werth - Guitar, Vocals
*Tony Connor - Drums, Marimba, Vibraphone
*Gus Dudgeon - Percussion
*Keith Gemmell - Clarinet, Flute, Wind
*Nick Judd - Piano, Keyboards
*Bobby Keys - Saxophone
*Jim Price - Trombone, Trumpet, Horn
*Trevor Williams - Bass, Keyboards, Vocals

1969 Audience (2002 remaster edition)
1970  Friends, Friends, Friend 
1971  House On The Hill (2015 Remaster and Expanded)
1975  Howard Werth And The Moonbeams - King Brilliant  

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Friday, April 7, 2017

Audience - House On The Hill (1971 uk, impressive prog rock, 2015 remaster and expanded)

"The House on the Hill"  is maybe Audience's strongest effort, made up of simple, elegantly arranged songs, focusing around Howard Werth's "electric classical" guitar and Keith Gemmel's tenor sax and clarinet. "Jackdaw" has Werth showing off his vocal range by hollering out the chorus in full force.

"Raviole" is an instrumental piece painted with lovely acoustic guitar and is one of the real gems on the album. There's not a lot of meat on each of the songs, but the use of flute and vibraphone give this album a unique feel and is deemed interesting mainly for that purpose.

The overall atmosphere is quite comfortable, and the hypnotizing effect aroused from the woodwind instruments creates an absorbing mood one might not expect to find here. Snippets of jazz fusion make up the title track, overlapped with some rich saxophone playing. After a few listens, this band slowly rises from being heard to being enjoyable.
by Mike DeGagne

1. Jackdaw (Howard Werth, Keith Gemmell) - 7:30
2. You're Not Smiling (Howard Werth, Keith Gemmell) - 5:21
3. I Had a Dream - 4:18
4. Raviole - 3:41
5. Nancy - 4:15
6. Eye to Eye - 2:32
7. I Put a Spell on You (Screaming Jay Hawkins) - 4:09
8. The House on the Hill - 7:32
9. You're Not Smiling (Single Mix) (Howard Werth, Keith Gemmell) - 4:18
10.Indian Summer (Single Edition) - 3:17
11.You're Not Smiling (Promotional Radio Version) (Howard Werth, Keith Gemmell) - 4:17
All compositions by Howard Werth, Trevor Williams except where stated

*Howard Werth - Electric Guitar, Vocals
*Tony Connor - Percussion, Drums, Vocals, Vibraphone
*Gus Dudgeon - Percussion
*Keith Gemmell - Clarinet, Flute, Saxophone
*Trevor Williams - Bass Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Andy Armstrong - Before I Forget (1979 australia, beautiful folk rock, vinyl edition)

Before I Forget… was recorded at Pepper Studios, The first side of the album contains five songs. The opener is a marvellous effort; the gentle, personal “My Song” which features some beautiful singing and a layered vocal fade out that would do Brian Wilson proud.

The next two tracks are upbeat – “Strangers’ Names” comes first; a song about the difficulties of reconciling your inner self with the externally presented veneer. It features some top-quality backing vocals, scored and arranged by Andy. This is followed by the gentle boogie of “Half the World”, which postulates the notion of escaping from the seemingly universal propensity for conflict; “Half the world is crazy, picking on the other half”. Ex-Fraternity member “Uncle” John Ayers’ accomplished harmonica augments the bluesy feel of the song. To my mind these two songs come rather too early in the piece, creating a musical feel that isn’t typical of the rest of the record. Perhaps they could have been separated.

Track four is the sublime “Lullaby” – a haunting, beautiful song about love, protection and the fear of loss – “Who’s going to sing you to sleep if not me?”. This song is one of the highlights of the album. The inspired use of a string quartet, arranged by 19 year-old Tim Sexton, lifts what is already a very impressive piece.

The last song is the traditional ballad “Willy of Winsbury”, the only non-original on side one, and it treads familiar folk territory while featuring some interesting chording. Andy was inspired to record this after seeing it performed by folk band British folk band Pentangle some years before.

Side two opens with “Mountain”, seemingly a song about reaching an impasse and struggling to achieve your goals. The track immediately reminds me of Crosby Stills Nash & Young’s “Teach Your Children”. It features an impressive wah-guitar solo, reputedly done in one-take in the studio. All very pleasant.

From there we go into “Spiritual”, the second of this record’s real treats. A lone piano (reminiscent of “Hallelujah”) is joined by Andy’s passionate vocals and the song builds gradually, but purposefully, to create the most powerful moment of “Before I Forget…”.

This second-half of the record continues to showcase Andy’s songwriting talents, the only exception being the inclusion of another traditional number. “Lord Franklin”, the story of Sir John Franklin’s ill-fated discovery of the Northwest Passage in 1845 is the album’s penultimate song. Mandolin is supplied by Jock (John) Munro, who joins the band for the last two tracks. Ron Pearce also joins the band on accordion for this song.

The album finishes with the cosmic overload of “Seabird” and, although not as powerful as “Spiritual”, is an ideal closer and a good song to boot. Musical imagery abounds in the lyrics of this tale of arrival at what is, perhaps, the Promised Land. At least, that’s my interpretation. Andy tells me that the inspiration for this song was rooted in the natural world, although no less wondrous.

And, as “Seabird” disappears into silence, we are done.

Most of the songs on this album were written a few years before its release – more like 1972 than 1979 – and, upon listening, that makes sense.

1. My Song - 2:18
2. Strangers' Names - 4:06
3. Half The World - 3:44
4. Lullaby - 3:52
5. Willy Of Winsbury (Traditional) - 6:21
6. Mountain - 4:41
7. Spiritual - 3:38
8. Lord Franklin (Traditional) - 3:01
9. Seabird - 6:45
Lyrics and Music by Andy Armstrong unless as else stated

*Andy Armstrong - Vocals, Guitars
*Phil Cunneen - Keyboards
*Dean Birbeck - Drums, Percussion
*Graham Conlen - Acoustic, Electric Guitars
*Geoff Kluke - Acoustic, Electric Bass
*John Ayers - Harp
*Maggie Russell - Vocals
*Sue Van Cott - Vocals
*Naomi Cundell - Vocals
*Jock Munro - Mandolin
*Ron Pearce - Acordion
*Tim Sexton - String Quartet Arrangements

1967  Andy Armstrong - At Last (2011 korean issue)
1972  Andy Armstrong - Perspective Works (2011 korean remaster)

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