Saturday, February 18, 2017

Stackridge - Stackridge (1971 uk, exceptional orchestrated folk psych with prog tinges, 2001 japan remaster)

Among the most legendary names of the British folk rock movement, this Bristol-based band were formed in 1969 by Andy Creswell-Davis and James Warren as Stackridge Lemon, soon to be named simply Stackridge. 1970 finds the band having an intense live activity, playing at the first Glastonbury Festival and, a year later, supporting Wishbone Ash on their UK tour and signing with the MCA Records.

“Stackridge” is actually a mixed bag of short Beatles-esque pop tunes and longer arrangements played in some sort of symphonic/folk style. Even the short accesible tunes are well-played with rich instrumentation and good multi-vocals, blended nicely with folsky violins, tracks which even The Beatles would be proud of creating. But it is these long arrangements which make this album so special like the great “The Three Legged Table”, starting off like Phillips-era Genesis, pastoral acoustic-driven musicianship later to become a catchy brass/violin-rock heaven with perfect vocal lines. “Essence of Porphyry” is another instrumental highlight with complex instrumentation featuring violin and cello in a medieval style and excellent acoustic passages with fantastic flute work, always under a classical nature, like a cross between Genesis and Gentle Giant…or the 14-minute long “Slark”, which closes the album, a beautiful composition split between folk ballad, medieval music and symphonic rock with again some superb vocals. A real treasure.

Stackridge’s debut is more than simply a great album. Even the easy-listening side of the band contains unbelievable professionalism and unmet personality, marking this effort as one of the most significant and impressive debut’s in UK’s prog history. 
1. Grande Piano (Andrew Davis, James Warren) - 3:20
2. Percy The Penguin (Andrew Davis, James Warren) - 3:41
3. The Three Legged Table (James Warren) - 6:49
4. Dora The Female Explorer (Andrew Davis, James WarrenMichael Evans, Michael Slater, Billy Bent) - 3:46
5. Essence Of Porphyry (James Warren) - 8:07
6. Marigold Connection (James Warren) - 5:00
7. 32 West Mall (Andrew Davis, James Warren) - 2:27
8. Marzo Plod (James Warren) - 3:07
9. Slark (Jim Walter, Andrew Davis) - 14:10

The Stackridge
*Andy Cresswell-Davis - Electric, Acoustic Guitars, Lead, Backing Vocals, Piano, Harmonium
*James Warren - Electric, Acoustic Basses, Lead, Backing Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
*Michael Evans - Violin, Backing Vocals
*Michael "Mutter" Slater - Flute, Backing Vocals
*Billy "Sparkle" Bent - Drums, Triangle

1972  Stackridge - Friendliness (2006 remaster and expanded)
1973  Stackridge - The Man In The Bowler Hat (2007 remaster)

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Friday, February 17, 2017

Kathe Green - Run The Length Of Your Wildness (1969 us / uk, smart baroque psych folk, 2009 remaster)

Strangely scattershot, if fitfully entertaining LP, Run the Length of Your Wildness can't quite make up its mind whether to be pop-folk, Swinging London pop/rock, or middle of the road pop. In that respect, as well as in its Baroque orchestral arrangements (which verge on the fruity at times), it's reminiscent of another late-'60s record, Dana Gillespie's Foolish Seasons -- not surprising, as Wayne Bickerton produced both albums. You can throw in some similarities to a few other British female vocalists of the time straddling the lines between pop and folk, like Marianne Faithfull and (much more distantly) Judith Durham of the Seekers. Kathe Green's record, however, isn't nearly as good as Gillespie's, in part because Gillespie's a significantly better singer, though Green's adequate. 

The material's also better on Foolish Seasons, and both the similarity and disparity between the two singers is emphasized by a song that appears on both LPs ("Tears in My Eyes"), which is handled notably better by Gillespie. Green did write or co-write much of the material on Run the Length of Your Wildness, and some of it's above average for this orchestrated British pop-folk-rock genre, particularly "Primrose Hill" and the slightly Donovan-ish "Promise of Something New." 
by Richie Unterberger
1. Primrose Hill (Kathe Green, Liz Sacks) - 3:47
2. Ring Of String (Kathe Green) - 3:25
3. Only A Fool (Jackie Lomax, Wayne Bickerton) - 2:17
4. Why? (The Child's Song) (Kathe Green) - 1:51
5. Bossa Nova (Kathe Green) - 1:54
6. Tears In My Eyes (Tony Waddington, Wayne Bickerton) - 3:05
7. If I Thought You'd Ever Change Your Mind (John Cameron) - 3:11
8. Promise Of Something New (Glenn Close, Kathe Green) - 2:38
9. Once There Was You (Kathe Green, Liz Sacks) - 2:43
10.Part Of Yesterday (Kathe Green, Liz Sacks) - 3:47
11.I'll Never Forget (John Cameron) - 2:55
12.Run The Length Of Your Wildness (John Cameron, Kathe Green, Liz Sacks) - 5:16
13.I Love You (Though You Are Not Here) (Kathe Green, Pat Lewis) - 0:43

*Kathe Green - Vocals

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Hatfield And The North - Hatfield And The North (1974 uk, glorious divine canterbury prog rock, 2011 SHM extra tracks remaster)

When Andy Tillison included a piece of music entitled The Canterbury Sequence on The Tangent’s debut album he certainly started something. Or more appropriately I should say he revived something, namely a highly creative musical heritage that dated back to the heady days of the late 60’s and early 70’s. Slightly to the left of the prog mainstream, the Canterbury scene was typified by a more avant-garde, jazzy approach whose key exponents included Soft Machine, Gong, National Health, Henry Cow, Egg and Hatfield And The North. It’s difficult to discuss the history of any one of these bands without reference to the others, so interchangeable were the various members. The line-up for the debut Hatfield album for instance was bassist and vocalist Richard Sinclair (Caravan), keyboardist Dave Stewart (Egg, National Health), guitarist Phil Miller (Matching Mole) and drummer Pip Pyle (National Health, Gong). Guests included saxophonist, flautist Geoff Leigh (Henry Cow) and Robert Wyatt (Soft Machine).

Although listed as individual tracks averaging around the 2 to 3 minute mark, 1974’s Hatfield And The North flows beautifully as one continuous piece of music. Subject matter is fairly redundant in this context allowing the bands sense of humour to reflect in the song titles which are often surreal (Gigantic Land Crabs In Earth Takeover Bid) occasionally juvenile (Big Jobs No.2 [By Poo And The Wee Wees] and quote from Monty Python (Your Majesty Is Like A Cream Donut). They have no issues in poking fun at themselves either as in Rifferama where the histrionic soloing is greeted with hysterical laughter (it has to be heard to be appreciated). If you’re unfamiliar with the Hatfields then describing their music can be equally perplexing. Jazz-rock excursions played with impeccable skill and timing (truthfully I can’t think of a more proficient quartet on the planet) is an obvious pointer but there is more to the band than that. The music is tastefully mellow and melodic for the most part with instruments juxtaposed in a complimentary fashion rather than colliding in a jarring clash of egos.

Shaving Is Boring is one of the few occasions on the debut album when they engage in lengthy soloing but the bass and drum work in particular reach such heights of excellence that they can be forgiven the indulgence. Vocals are sparingly used throughout often as wordless harmonies acting like a fifth instrument as is the case of Calyx and Fol De Rol. If one track summed up the band to perfection however then it would have to be Stewart’s Son Of 'There's No Place Like Homerton’. It demonstrates the keyboardist’s flair for complex, almost classical arrangements with subtle organ and piano punctuated by dramatic sax ala Frank Zappa’s The Grand Wazoo album. The dreamy female harmonies are surprisingly lush and deceptively intricate and there’s some by stellar guitar picking from Miller.

Bonus tracks are usually hit and miss affairs but those included on Hatfield And The North really hit the mark. Let's Eat Real Soon and Fitter Stoke Has A Bath were the respective A and B sides of a single released in November 1974 intended as a stop gap for their next album due early the following year. They are both jolly tunes with Sinclair adopting traditional lyrics (and a cockney accent ala Robert Wyatt). The final piece Your Majesty Is Like A Cream Donut incorporating Oh What A Lonely Lifetime includes characteristic fuzzed organ as a prelude to an instrumental section delivered with power and grace. It demonstrates the band at their best and made a fitting addition to a Virgin sampler album released in January 1975. Mindful of the debts incurred from recording the first album at Virgin’s Manor studios under the direction of Tom Newman, the Hatfields entered the On Saturn studios, Worthing in January 1975 to self produce their follow up. Released in March of that year The Rotters’ Club is generally considered to be their crowning glory and often receives a listing in the top prog albums of all time polls. It’s more strident than its predecessor with a greater contrast between tracks and an emphasis on fusion virtuosity. The sterling line-up of Sinclair, Stewart Miller and Pyle thankfully remained intact joined by such Canterbury stalwarts as Jimmy Hastings (flute, Saxes), Lindsay Cooper (oboe, bassoon), Tim Hodgkinson (clarinet) and Mont Campbell (French horn). Barbara Gaskin, Amanda Parsons and Ann Rosenthal (aka The Northettes) were once again on hand to provide the heavenly backing vocals.

Picking up from where the recent single let off, the opener Share It features Sinclair’s busy accented vocals (Park Life anyone?) with a very Emerson sounding synth solo (circa Trilogy from the album of the same name) providing a welcome respite at the midway point. Chaos At The Greasy Spoon benefits from a prominent bass line in the style of a certain Chris Squire which snarls and growls its way into Pyle’s The Yes / No Interlude, the albums jazziest instrumental workout. Stunning keys and sax interplay joined by distorted guitar gives the impression that this could be a spooky (and disturbing) soundtrack to a gothic horror movie. In contrast, the captivating Fitter Stoke Has A Bath (from the same writer) is an engaging diversion which in addition to the wry humour has an unpretentious majesty about it.

Didn't Matter Anyway is something of a departure and easily my favourite song on The Rotters’ Club. Sinclair’s bittersweet ballad includes a hint of mellotron but is most memorable for the sumptuous flute playing from fellow Caravan member Jimmy Hastings. The breezy instrumental Underdub is more in the traditional jazz style with electric piano and flute once again dominating. It leads into the 20 minute Mumps, Stewart’s magnum opus in four distinct parts. Your Majesty Is Like A Cream Donut [Quiet] opens with angelic female harmonies before the centrepiece Lumps displays a colourful range of emotions including melodic guitar and bass work giving way to restless fuzzed organ and a wailing sax break. Electric piano supplies a rhythmic under current throughout. Following the restless Prenut, where Pyle’s intricate drumming sounds not unlike Bill Bruford’s playing on The Fish (from Fragile), Your Majesty Is Like A Cream Donut [Loud] provides an uplifting, almost grandiose finale. The bonus material comes in the shape of three live tracks recorded at separate venues in ’74 and ‘75 as previously made available on the 1987 CD release. They are very welcome nonetheless demonstrating that the band were equally adept on stage as they were in the studio. The lively Halfway Between Heaven And Earth may be dominated by wall to wall vocals but it’s rounded off by a superbly articulate keys solo which curiously fades leaving Stewart suspended in full flight. The relatively brief Oh, Len's Nature! is probably the bands heaviest piece by far (on record) which has something of King Crimson’s 21st Century Schizoid Man about it. And speaking of KC, Miller’s acidic guitar work during his own Lything And Gracing has Fripp written all over it with the whole band coming together to end on an explosive note.

Although The Rotters’ Club charted at number 43 in the UK album chart the bands demise later that same year was put down to insolvency as well as internal issues. They would all go on to participate in other Canterbury combinations, most notably National Health. Richard Sinclair took a break from the music business to reappear in 1977 for a two year stint as the bass player in Camel. Dave Stewart had unexpected success as a singles artist along with Barbara Gaskin reaching number 1 in the UK and Germany. The pair continue to work together to this day preventing Stewart from taking part in several Hatfield reunions and live appearances which were sadly blighted by the unexpected death of Pip Pyle in August 2006. It’s a telling indictment when author (and Hatfield fan) Jonathan Coe was promoting his new book ‘The Rotters’ Club’ in 2001 that only the Italian and French interviewers remembered or expressed any interest in the music that influenced his book.

It’s interesting to speculate on what Hatfield And The North could have achieved had they stayed together for more than three years, a short career for any band. It was without doubt a unique combination of talented musicians that could have only emerged from the progressive rock genre, albeit of the jazz fusion vein. Often experimental but always superbly structured and melodic they leave behind two fine albums as a welcome reminder of a brief but illustrious career. The first in particular is one that I hold in high regard, sounding so fresh and vital on its initial release. Whilst the follow up was still a landmark release the bands style was understandably less of a revelation second time around. I also love the debut albums flowing continuity, possibly influenced by producer Tom Newman’s work on Tubular Bells the year before. The Rotters’ Club for its part boasts the bands lengthiest credited track (Mumps) but in comparison this is more a collection of individual pieces masquerading as an epic. I’m merely expressing a personal preference of course (and probably nitpicking to boot) because either way they are both excellent releases and are always worthy of re-evaluation. 
by Geoff Feakes
1. The Stubbs Effect (Pip Pyle) - 0:22
2. Big Jobs (Poo Poo Extract) (Richard Sinclair) - 0:36
3. Going Up To People And Tinkling (Dave Stewart) - 2:25
4. Calyx (Phil Miller) - 2:45
5. Son Of "There's No Place Like Homerton" (Dave Stewart) - 10:10
6. Aigrette (Phil Miller) - 1:37
7. Rifferama (Richard Sinclair) - 2:56
8. Fol De Rol (Richard Sinclair) - 3:07
9. Shaving Is Boring (Pip Pyle) - 8:45
10.Licks For The Ladies (Richard Sinclair) - 2:37
11.Bossa Nochance (Richard Sinclair) - 0:40
12.Big Jobs No. 2 (By Poo And The Wee Wees) (Richard Sinclair) - 2:14
13.Lobster In Cleavage Probe (Dave Stewart) - 3:57
14.Gigantic Land Crabs In Earth Takeover Bid (Dave Stewart) - 3:21
15.The Other Stubbs Effect (Pip Pyle) - 0:37
16.Let's Eat (Real Soon) (Richard Sinclair, Pip Pyle) - 3:14
17.Fitter Stoke Has A Bath (Pip Pyle) - 4:33
18.Your Majesty Is Like A Cream Donut Incorporating Oh What A Lonely Lifetime (Dave Stewart) - 6:08
Bonus Tracks 16-18

The Hatfield And The North
*Phil Miller - Electric, Acoustic Guitars
*Dave Stewart - Hammond, Piano, Fender Rhodes, Hohner Pianet, Minimoog, Tone Generator
*Richard Sinclair - Bass, Vocals
*Pip Pyle - Drums, Percussion,
*Jeremy Baines - Pixiephone, Flute
*Geoff Leigh - Tenor Saxophone, Flute
*Didier Malherbe - Tenor Saxophone Solo
*Robert Wyatt - Vocals
*Cyrille Ayers - Vocals
*Barbara Gaskin - Backing Vocals
*Amanda Parsons - Backing Vocals
*Ann Rosenthal - Backing Vocals
*Sam Ellidge - Voice

1975  Hatfield And The North - The Rotters' Club (2011 Japan SHM bonus tracks remaster)  
Related Acts 
1970 Delivery - Fools Meeting 
1972  Matching Mole - Matching Mole (Japan remaster)
1968  Caravan (Japan SHM remaster)
1970  If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You (Japan SHM remaster)
1971  In The Land Of Grey And Pink (Japan SHM remaster)
1971 In The Land Of Grey And Pink (2011 double disc deluxe edition) 
1972  Waterloo Lily (Japan Mini LP)
1973  For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night (japan SHM remaster)
1974  Caravan And The New Symphonia (japan SHM remaster)
1975 Cunning Stunts (Japan remaster)
The Egg 
1969  Uriel - Arzachel (2007 remaster, collectors edition)
1969-72  The Metronomical Society
1971  Egg - The Polite Force (2008 Esoteric remaster)
1969-70  Egg (2008 Esoteric remaster)
1974 Egg - The Civil Surface

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Monday, February 13, 2017

Hatfield And The North - The Rotters' Club (1975 uk, elegant inspired canterbury prog rock, 2011 japan SHM bonus tracks remaster)

Featuring some of the most stunning musicianship ever associated with England's Canterbury scene, Hatfield and the North's second LP features, like their eponymous debut, Dave Stewart on keyboards, Phil Miller on guitar, Richard Sinclair on bass and vocals, and Pip Pyle on drums (supplemented by a few guest instrumentalists and the ever-ethereal Northettes with their "la la" backing vocals). The participants show an admirable sense of restraint and, like their Canterbury peers, are careful to avoid the pomposity and bombast of better-known prog rockers of the era, such as Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Yes. 

The Hatfields' convoluted instrumental passages segue into the occasional Sinclair vocal vehicle, in which the exemplary bassist sings in a polite and mellow croon that utterly avoids melismatic displays, histrionics, or over-emoting; in other words, his style -- closer to, say, Bing Crosby than, say, Joe Cocker -- would likely cause many 21st century pop music listeners to scratch their heads with bemusement. And the songs' rather whimsical lyrical content, while perhaps another conscious attempt to steer clear of the pretentiousness of the typically overbearing prog rock song style, certainly reflects a '60s/'70s mindset more than a 21st century one, so today's jaded listeners should realign their expectations. Things get off to a strong start with "Share It," a catchy little number with Sinclair expressing some idealistic and hard-to-criticize Brit hippie sentiments. Elsewhere, the "songs" are few and far between, but crop up in odd spots nevertheless; the Hatfields were masters of the segue and the most accomplished demonstrations of instrumental technique wind up bleeding into ditties that might seem out of place to some. 

But Stewart, Miller, Sinclair, and Pyle all make wonderful instrumental statements. Particularly noteworthy are Miller's two short jazzy numbers, "Lounging There Trying" and "Underdub," which, with their sparkling electric piano work from Stewart, have a light and airy improvisational feel despite rather thorough scoring; Pyle's propulsive "Yes No Interlude" with its furious melding of Stewart's keyboards and the sax of guest Jimmy Hastings; and Stewart's 20-minute opus "Mumps." The latter is particularly impressive, with everything anyone would want from an extended-form Canterbury-style workout. The piece ebbs and flows through nimbly executed thematic passages and variations, featuring one of Stewart's most compelling themes and also one of the best fuzz organ solos that he (or Mike Ratledge or David Sinclair for that matter) ever recorded.

Smack dab in the middle of it all, another Sinclair-sung tune arrives, this time making punning use of letters of the alphabet. But the suite gets back on track with a dramatic instrumental coda, melding spacy effects, more great organ playing from Stewart, and spectacularly executed unison lines from Miller and Hastings in crescendo before the final fade. The Virgin Records CD reissue features several live bonus tracks (also found on the Afters compilation), including two comparatively crazed and heavy Miller instrumental pieces recorded in France and, from a date at the Rainbow Theatre in London, Sinclair's "Halfway Between Heaven and Earth," which has a bit more of the feel of his vocal work with Caravan than with the Hatfields. Too bad there's a premature fadeout during another great Stewart organ solo. One wonders where the band was headed with that. 
by Dave Lynch
1. Share It (Richard Sinclair, Pip Pyle) - 3:03
2. Lounging There Trying (Phil Miller) - 3:14
3. (Big) John Wayne Socks Psychology On The Jaw (Dave Stewart) - 0:43
4. Chaos At The Greasy Spoon (Richard Sinclair, Pip Pyle) - 0:30
5. The Yes No Interlude (Pip Pyle) - 7:01
6. Fitter Stoke Has A Bath (Pip Pyle) - 7:33
7. Didn't Matter Anyway (Richard Sinclair) - 3:31
8. Underdub (Phil Miller) - 3:53
9. Mumps (Dave Stewart) - 20:23
.a.Your Majesty Is Like A Cream Donut (Quiet)
.d.Your Majesty Is Like A Cream Donut (Loud)
10.Halfway Between Heaven And Earth (Full Version) (Richard Sinclair) - 6:18
11.Oh, Len's Nature (Phil Miller) - 2:00
12.Lything And Gracing (Phil Miller) - 3:58
Bonus Tracks 10-12

 The Hatfield And The North 
*Phil Miller - Guitars
*Dave Stewart - Hammond Organ, Fender Rhodes, Piano, Minimoog, Tone Generator
*Richard Sinclair - Bass, Lead Vocals, Guitar
 *Pip Pyle - Drums, Percussion
*Mont Campbell - French Horn
 *Lindsay Cooper - Oboe, Bassoon
 *Jimmy Hastings - Flute, Soprano, Tenor Saxophones
 *Tim Hodgkinson - Clarinet 
*Amanda Parsons - Backing Vocals
*Ann Rosenthal - Backing Vocals
 *Barbara Gaskin - Backing Vocals

Related Acts 
1970 Delivery - Fools Meeting 
1972  Matching Mole - Matching Mole (Japan remaster)
1968  Caravan (Japan SHM remaster)
1970  If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You (Japan SHM remaster)
1971  In The Land Of Grey And Pink (Japan SHM remaster)
1971 In The Land Of Grey And Pink (2011 double disc deluxe edition) 
1972  Waterloo Lily (Japan Mini LP)
1973  For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night (japan SHM remaster)
1974  Caravan And The New Symphonia (japan SHM remaster)
1975 Cunning Stunts (Japan remaster)
The Egg 
1969  Uriel - Arzachel (2007 remaster, collectors edition)
1969-72  The Metronomical Society
1971  Egg - The Polite Force (2008 Esoteric remaster)
1969-70  Egg (2008 Esoteric remaster)
1974 Egg - The Civil Surface

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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Riff Raff - Riff Raff (1973 uk, fantastic prog rock, 2016 korean remaster)

Riff Raff's self-titled effort from 1973 was the band's first album proper. Alan Marshall was not replaced when he left, with Tommy Eyre, Roger Sutton, and Pete Kirtley all taking turns on the vocal chores. The jazz -rock sound that Eyre and Sutton had explored with Mark-Almond was the springboard for the exploratory rock music made by Riff Raff. Here deep groove -- à la Brian Auger's Oblivion Express -- and tough rock choruses and dynamics were married to the jazz sense of structure and composition.

Far more "progressive" sounding than their early demos, this music nonetheless has little to do with the excesses of the Canterbury Scene. From the opener, with the glorious Fender Rhodes and electric guitar interplay in which the blues and jazz commingle in a rock picture frame, through the improvisational melodic and modal work on "Dreaming" to the glorious theatricality and drama of "La Même Chose" that closes the album, Riff Raff comes off as one of the most original, innovative, and brilliant bands of the early '70s. It's too bad they never got to America; they would have been as huge as their former bosses in Mark-Almond. 
by Thom Jurek
1. Your World (Roger Sutton) - 7:39
2. For Every Dog (Peter Kirtley) - 3:46
3. Little Miss Drag (Thorpe, Richardson) - 3:12
4. Dreaming (Peter Kirtley) - 4:32
5. Times Lost (Tommy Eyre) - 4:15
6. You Must Be Joking (Peter Kirtley) - 7:29
7. La Même Chose (Roger Sutton, Tommy Eyre) - 12:12

Riff Raff
*Tommy Eyre - Hammond Organ, Piano, Acoustic Guitars, Concert, Bass Flute, Vocals
*Peter Kirtley - Guitar, Vocals
*Roger Sutton - Basses, Acoustic Guitars, Vocals
*Aureo De Souza - Drums, Percussion
Guest Musicians
*Bud Beadle - Saxophones

1974  Riff Raff - Original Man (2017 korean remaster)  
Related Acts
1968  Joe Cocker - With A Little Help From My Friends (2015 SACD)
1969  Jody Grind - One Step On (2006 japan remaster)
1969  Jaklin - Jaklin
1969-70  The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation - To Mum From Aynsley And The Boys / Remains To Be Heard
1972  Roger Morris - First Album (korean remaster with extra tracks)
1974  Zzebra - Zzebra
1976  The Sensational Alex Harvey Band - British Tour

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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Riff Raff - Original Man (1974 uk, remarkable jazz prog rock, 2017 korean remaster)

Tommy Eyre and Roger Sutton were neighbours in 1969. Eyre was the organ player with Joe Cocker's Grease Band, and when the band broke up after their No.1 hit () - "With a Little Help From My Friends") he chose to stay in London and try his luck rather than go back home to Sheffield. Tommy got the gig with Aynsley Dunbar's Retaliation and brought Roger in for the Blue Whale project. When Aynsley left to join Frank Zappa, Roger, in turn, introduced Tommy to John Mark and Johnny Almond who had just left John Mayall's Turning Point band. The four of them became the Mark-Almond Band which was very succesful in the USA for about three years. Roger Sutton left the Mark-Almond Band shortly before their third album, when he and Jon Mark couldn't get along, () - check Roger's lyric, "God damn the man who ever tried to put his mark on you"). It was recorded in a place that Richard Branson had recently opened as a "live-in" studio called the Manor, Oxfordshire, England, a beautiful old mansion where Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells" was made.

When John Mark's behaviour forced even Tommy to quit, he and Roger spoke about reforming a studio band, Strabismus (pre-Riff Raff) that they had put on hold due to the success of Mark-Almond. They were introduced to Peter Kirtley, guitarist, singer and composer who had been involved with all the major bands in his native Newcastle. His musical ideas fit perfectly with Eyre and Sutton's plans and he was asked to join () - it was Peter who came up with the name Riff Raff). Tommy brought in Kenny Slade from the Grease Band on drums and of course Alan Marshall, Strabismus' brilliant singer who was going to be the linchpin. Songs were written, demos recorded and then Alan quit. His management advised him that merely being the singer in a band would be a back-step for him and he should pursue a career as a soloist. Kenny Slade decided the music was too complex () - "I couldn't get to grips with all these strange time signatures!"), so auditions were held and the Brazilian drummer Aureo de Souza was hired, while Peter and Roger took over vocals. Tommy suggested recording at the Manor, Riff Raff produced the record themselves and the sessions were wonderful. Bud Beadle played sax, Tom Newman engineered. When it came to mix time, though, their inexperience showed and Peter recommended Eddie Offord who remixed the album in a now-defunct studio in Victoria, London.

During the next few months, Tommy also worked extensively on other projects with producer-composer Ken Burgess, and when Riff Raff's second album was due, Tommy recommended Ken to co-produce. Ken and Tommy had used a studio in Kent called Escape. It was a converted coast house, (a building for drying hops in the beer-making process). Its biggest claim to fame was that Jeff Beck lived nearby and would often come in to jam, Jeff's the guitarist on "Put a light on me" on Zzebra's "Panic" album, (uncredited, of course).

Thus, "Original Man" was recorded. Buddy Beadle and Steve Gregory played saxes, Tony Taverner engineered and some dubs were done at Advision Studios in London, engineered by Martin Rushent. For Riff Raff the US deals that had looked so promising collapsed one by one. But there were other problems too. Aureo was not granted an extension on his work permit in England. The British goverment and the Musicians Union were inflexible and that was that. Aureo had to return to Brazil, Peter joined the Alan Price group, Roger and Tommy returned to studio work.

However, many of the connections made during this time endured. In one form or another the music has continued until the present day. The reader will see many of the same names turning up in the most unlikely of places, but the future of music that we hoped for never happened. Apart from beautiful exceptions (Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Weather Report), everything in the seventies seemed to revert to the mindless three-minute pop song, new dance crazes and artists with no musicianship but great make-up.

There will always be the Top 40. Nobody has any problem with that, but the feeling at that time was that pop and progressive music could co-exist and everyone would be the better for it. AM for the teenagers and FM for the people that were intrigued and wanted to know more. Well it never happened.
by Tommy Eyre, Encino, California. 1999
1. Original Man (Pete Kirtley) - 7:47
2. Havakak (Kenny Craddock, Pete Kirtley, Colin Gibson) - 6:13
3. Goddamm The Man (Roger Sutton) - 6:18
4. In The Deep (Pete Kirtley) - 4:06
5. The Waster (Roger Sutton) - 5:18
6. Tom's Song (Tommy Eyre) - 4:28
7. Speed (Roger Sutton) - 9:26

Riff Raff
*Tommy Eyre - Keyboards, String Synthesizer, Vocals
*Bud Beadle - Saxophones
*Steve Gregory - Saxophone, Flute, Clarinet
*Pete Kirtley - Guitars, Vocals
*Roger Sutton - Bass, Cello, Vocals
*Aureo De Souza - Drums, Percussion
Guest Musicians 
*Joanna Newman - Vocals
*Joe O'Donnell - Viola

Related Acts
1968  Joe Cocker - With A Little Help From My Friends (2015 SACD)
1969  Jody Grind - One Step On (2006 japan remaster)
1969  Jaklin - Jaklin
1969-70  The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation - To Mum From Aynsley And The Boys / Remains To Be Heard
1972  Roger Morris - First Album (korean remaster with extra tracks)  
1974  Zzebra - Zzebra
1976  The Sensational Alex Harvey Band - British Tour

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Saturday, February 4, 2017

Various Artists - Let’s Go Down And Blow Our Minds The British Psychedelic Sounds (1967 uk, impressive psych mod freak beat, 2016 three disc box set)

Top-notch psychedelic box set capturing the far out sound of 1967, focussing mainly on classic underground bands, such as The Pretty Things, Human Instinct, Tintern Abbey and Fleur De Lys, who blend with some who became household names later, such as David Bowie and Marc Bolan.

The psychedelic road has always taken many twists and turns, and this was just as true in 1967 as it is now. The art of a good psychedelic box set is balance and variety, and Cherry Red have definitely succeeded in both, as they did with their Love Poetry and Revolution box set, a couple of years ago. Every shade is included here.

Although Let’s Go Down deals mainly with the underground sounds of 1967, a few familiar-to-most names pop up, such as The Move (Vote For me), The Moody Blues (Life’s Not Life) and Dave Davies from The Kinks (Funny Face), all with lesser-known songs than the ones that made them superstars. And amongst the more underground acts, you can see how some of the featured selections echo their more famous counterparts. Take Turquoise, here under an alias, The Brood, with Village Green. It’s a different Village Green to the song by The Kinks, but it’s along the same lines. Bandwagon jumpers? Or did they record theirs first? Who cares: just enjoy the music!

And in a similar way, it’s interesting to see that during this time of high creativity and experimentation, certain records like say Rain by The Beatles or A Whiter Shade of Pale by Procul Harum set blueprints, forming their own sub-genres within the psychedelic spectrum. Check out The Mirage: Lazy Man and Rupert’s People: Reflections of Charlie Brown, respectively. And then there’s joyous freakbeat shenanigans from the likes of Human Instinct, with A Day In My Mind’s Mind –   from a totally different end of the psych spectrum

Balancing the rocking stuff with the more laidback, it’s great to see Jason Crest here under their previous name The Good Thing Brigade, with the lazy organ-fuelled My House Is Burning. You think you know Arthur Brown, he of The Crazy World and the God of Hell Fire? Think again! On Give Him a Flower, the wonderfully camp and distinctly English song of his on this box set, he sounds more like Kevin Ayers. And while we’re on the bonkers British tip, check out Granny Takes a Trip by Purple Gang

Marc Bolan pops up from his pre-fame days as a member of the Mod-psych warriors, John’s Children, with Desdemona. And speaking of pre-fame, David Bowie is here too as The Riot Squad, with Toy Soldier, a slightly dodgy ode to S&M, with lyrics that echo the Velvets’ Venus in Furs.

Far too many gems here to mention: hearing is believing. And as always with Cherry Red, it comes with great artwork & photos, plus all the information you need about the records, captured in a 44 page booklet. Some of the tracks are alternate versions and some are on CD for the first time. And it’s good news for those who already have an interest in the British psych/freakbeat movement, via compilations such as the Rubble series, because there is plenty of material here that won’t overlap, and no really obvious choices.
by Arash Torabi
Disc 1
1. The Alan Bown - Toyland (Single Version) - 2:55
2. The Attack - Magic In The Air - 3:38
3. The Tickle - Subway (Smokey Pokey World) - 2:41
4. Episode Six - I Can See Through You - 3:24
5. Dantalian's Chariot - The Madman Running Through The Fields - 4:11
6. Geranium Pond - Dogs In Baskets - 2:05
7. The Scots Of St. James - Eiderdown Clown - 2:15
8. George Alexander - Dear Delilah - 2:53
9. The Sorrows - Pink Purple Yellow And Red - 2:49
10.The Mirage - Lazy Man (Alternative Version) - 3:00
11.The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown - Give Him A Flower - 3:01
12.Tintern Abbey - Tanya - 2:56
13.Fleur-De-Lys - Prodigal Son - 1:59
14.The Lomax Alliance - See The People - 2:14
15.The Mickey Finn - Time To Start Loving You - 2:40
16.The Fingers - I Hear The Sun - 2:01
17.Crocheted Doughnut Ring - Nice - 3:05
18.The Good Thing Brigade - My House Is Burning - 3:22
19.The Motives - Ice Woman - 2:49
20.Louise - Look At The Sun - 3:30
21.Neo Maya - I Won't Hurt You - 2:30
22.Cliff Ward - Path Through The Forest - 4:33
23.The Spencer Davis Group - Sanity Inspector (Single Version) - 3:01
24.The Summer Set - 'Cos It's Over - 2:45
25.Those Fadin' Colours - Try Me On For Size - 2:39
26.The Slender Plenty - Silver Tree Top School For Boys - 2:22
27.Guy Darrell - Evil Woman - 2:26
Disc 2
1. Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera - Flames - 3:13
2. One In A Million - Double Sight - 2:35
3. Paul & Barry Ryan - Keep It Out Of Sight - 2:48
4. The Pretty Things - Defecting Grey (Extended Version) - 5:12
5. John's Children - Desdemona - 2:24
6. The Doves  - Smokeytime Springtime - 3:03
7. John Williams - Flowers In Your Hair - 2:42
8. Sweet Feeling - All So Long Ago - 3:13
9. Rupert's People - Reflections Of Charles Brown - 4:19
10.The Riot Squad ,The Riot Squad Featuring David Bowie David Bowie - Toy Soldier - 3:10
11.The Rats - The Rise And Fall Of Bernie Gripplestone - 4:08
12.Circus - Something To Write About - 3:27
13.Dave Davies - Funny Face - 2:17
14.The Brood - Village Green - 2:23
15.Tony Rivers And  The Castaways - Mr. Sun - 2:17
16.The Peep Show - Your Servant Stephen - 3:01
17.The Uglys - And The Squire Blew His Horn - 3:36
18.The Move - Vote For Me - 2:49
19.The Human Instinct - A Day In My Mind's Mind - 2:14
20.Murray Head - She Was Perfection - 2:48
21.Peter And The Wolves - Little Girl Lost And Found - 2:29
22.The Bunch - Spare A Shilling - 2:32
23.Big Jim Sullivan - Flower Power - 3:26
24.Procol Harum - Kaleidoscope (Extended Stereo Mix) - 3:08
25.The Searchers - Crazy Dreams - 2:37
26.The Artwoods - In The Deep End - 3:07
Disc 3
1. Our Plastic Dream - Someone Turned The Light Out - 2:36
2. Hat And Tie - Finding It Rough - 2:49
3. The Fresh Windows - Fashion Conscious - 2:21
4. The Game - The Addicted Man - 2:23
5. Felius Andromeda - Meditations - 4:09
6. The Honeybus - Delighted To See You (Demo Version) - 2:33
7. Ice - So Many Times - 2:06
8. The Flower Pot Men - A Walk In The Sky - 3:53
9. Five's Company - Friends And Mirrors - 2:10
10.The Late - Family Tree - 3:04
11.The Secrets  - I Think I Need The Cash - 2:18
12.Skip Bifferty - Schizoid Revolution - 3:29
13.The Purple Gang - Granny Takes A Trip - 2:35
14.The Picadilly Line - Emily Small (The Huge World Thereof) - 2:31
15.The Outer Limits - Help Me Please - 2:28
16.Focal Point - 'Cept Me - 2:53
17.Jade Hexagram - Great Shadowy Strange - 4:04
18.The Truth - Busker Bill - 2:59
19.The Moody Blues - Life's Not Life - 2:35
20.Don Craine's New Downliners Sect - I Can't Get Away From You - 2:49
21.The Symbols - Again - 1:58
22.The Hi-Fi's - Odd Man Out - 2:21
23.The Marmalade - Laughing Man - 3:24
24.T. J. Assembly - Ginger - 2:31
25.The 23rd Turn Off - Michelangelo (Demo Version) - 2:16
26.The Q. P. R. Supporters - Supporters - Support Us - 2:47
27.Sands - Listen To The Sky - 3:36

For the most of the Acts listed here in this compilation, I have already added some of their albums, if you're interesting of any of them, just write the artist's name on "Search This Blog"  ticker box, if you won't find it just let me know. Thank you.

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Friday, February 3, 2017

Karen Dalton - In My Own Time (1971 us, brilliant acid folk blues rock, 2006 remaster)

To hear Karen Dalton sing "How Sweet It Is" or "When a Man Loves a Woman" is to hear the song completely transformed. The Oklahoma-bred, New York City-based singer sustains what were previously just grace notes, moves the accents around, inverts the rhythms, and plays hide-and-seek with meter. Dalton even changes the lyrics at the end of "When a Man Loves a Woman", fitting them to her female perspective. Her talent isn't merely interpretive, but imperialistic: She takes these songs over completely, bending their melodies and meanings to fit her specific mood. And In My Own Time, her second and final album, has a very specific mood: These songs exalt love, but acknowledge its transitory nature. Dalton gives herself over to its joys on "How Sweet It Is", notes its passing on her majestic take on Richard Manuel's "In a Station", then sounds resigned on closer "Are You Leaving for the Country?" The album contains just the slightest hint of a narrative-- a struggle between love and loss, the city and the country, joy and sorrow-- but she sounds honestly conflicted, a jaded romantic trying to find her way.

So that phrase "in my own time" fairly neatly sums up her life. She arrived in New York City with her daughter Abra in the early 1960s and became a fixture on the budding East Village folk scene-- even sharing the stage with Bob Dylan. But Dalton moved around compulsively, played rarely and begrudgingly, drank and did drugs heavily, and recorded almost never. She enjoyed playing privately with friends and hated the Billie Holliday comparison that dogged her throughout her entire life. Producer Nick Venet reportedly had to trick her into recording songs for her first album, It's So Hard to Tell Who's Going to Love You Best, released in 1969 and reissued by Koch in 1997, four years after her death. Dalton casts a subtle but powerful spell as she sings songs by Tim Hardin, Fred Neil, and Duke Ellington with minimal accompaniment. In My Own Time was released in 1971 on producer Harvey Brooks' Just Sunshine label and has since been a collector's treasure on vinyl. Admirers Nick Cave and Devendra Banhart (who is turning folkie resurrection into a cottage industry) extol her talents in the liner notes for this affectionate reissue.

Compared to It's So Hard to Tell Who's Going to Love You Best, In My Own Time sounds a little more adventurous and lively with its full band and free-wheeling performances, seamlessly and playfully blending folk, country, rock, jazz, and soul. More than a dozen musicians coalesce into a loose, loopy backing band that knows exactly when to push forward ("In a Station"), exactly when to back off ("Take Me"), and exactly when to let Dalton take front and center (pretty much always). In My Own Time has the laidback, lackadaisical vibe of a close-knit group of friends doing single takes around an inspired singer. They play up the jazzy breeziness of "Take Me" and "Satisfied" and soak "In a Station" with multiple organs and Richard Bell's rambling piano, giving the song a majestic push ideally showcasing Dalton's dramatic range. They tackle the tripping rhythms of "How Sweet It Is" as Dalton sings almost independent of the familiar melody.

With such a clear dynamic between all these musicians, it's ironic that two of the album's most moving tracks are also its most naked: the bleakly existential "Katie Cruel" and the supremely lonely-sounding "Same Old Man" showcase her elastic vocals and piercing banjo with only minimal accompaniment. You could easily spill a thousand words on her pronunciation of "mackintosh." Like her debut, In My Own Time reveals a demanding, intuitive, eccentric singer and arranger who never sang her own words but clearly and confidently expressed herself with others'. She was a free spirit who sounds freest on these ten tracks. So "Are You Leaving for the Country?", with its swooning melody and laidback vibe, closes the album on a poignant note: this is her final take, her last number ever. It makes you wish there was just one more record to reissue and even more music to pore over obsessively.
by Stephen M. Deusner
1. Something On Your Mind (Dino Valenti) - 3:23
2. When A Man Loves A Woman (Calvin Lewis, Andrew Wright) - 2:59
3. In My Own Dream (Paul Butterfield) - 4:17
4. Katie Cruel (Traditional Arranged By Karen Dalton) - 2:22
5. How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) (Lamont Dozier, Brian Holland, Eddie Holland) - 3:43
6. In A Station (Richard Manuel) - 3:52
7. Take Me (George Jones, Leon Payne) - 4:40
8. Same Old Man (Traditional Arranged By Steve Weber) - 2:45
9. One Night Of Love (Joe Tate) - 3:18
10.Are You Leaving For The Country (Richard Tucker) - 3:14

*Karen Dalton - Vocals, Banjo, 12 String Guitar
*Richard Bell - Piano
*Harvey Brooks - Bass
*Amos Garrett - Guitar
*John Hall - Guitar
*Daniel Hanken - Guitar
*Bill Keith - Pedal Steel Guitar
*Ken Pearson - Organ
*Denny Seiwell - Drums
*John Simon - Piano
*Greg Thomas - Drums
*Dennis Whitted - Drums
*Bobby Notkoff - Violin
*Hart Mcnee - Tenor Saxophone
*Robert Fritz - Clarinet
*Marcus Doubleday - Trumpet

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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Elvin Bishop - Struttin' My Stuff (1975 us, fine southern funky blues rock, 2013 japan SHM remaster)

Shortly after recording this show for the King Biscuit Flower Hour in April 1976, Elvin Bishop, along with his current album at that time, Struttin' My Stuff, made it to the #2 position on the Billboard pop chart and went gold (thanks, in large part, to its hit single, "Fooled Around And Fell In Love"). The single was already a hit, but it was this Biscuit show that gave Bishop his first extensive national radio exposure.

In addition to Elvin Bishop himself on guitar and vocals, the group featured on his recording was made up of bassist Fly Brooks, keyboardist Bill Slais, second guitarist Johnny Vernazza, drummer Donny Baldwin and vocalists Reni Slais and Mickey Thomas. Thomas, who had charted his first international hit as the singer on "Fooled Around," would emerge two years later (along with Baldwin) as a member of rock-revamped Jefferson Starship, with whom they would reach superstar status, thanks to hits like "Find Your Way Back" and "We Built This City." 
1. Struttin' My Stuff (Philip Aaberg, Elvin Bishop ) - 4:09
2. Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey (Philip Aaberg, Elvin Bishop, Mickey Thomas) - 3:30
3. My Girl (Smokey Robinson, Ronald White) - 3:05
4. I Love The Life I Lead - 2:29
5. Fooled Around And Fell In Love - 4:35
6. Holler And Shout - 3:11
7. Slick Titty Boom - 5:00
8. Grab All The Love - 2:52
9. Have A Good Time - 2:30
10.Joy - 4:02
11.Silent Night (Traditional Arr. Elvin Bishop) - 4:00
12.Silent Night (Instrumental) - 4:15
All songs by Elvin Bishop except where stated
Bonus tracks 11-12

*Elvin Bishop - Rhythm, Slide Guitar, Vocals
*Donny Baldwin - Congas, Drums, Percussion, Vocals
*Philip Aaberg - Clavinet, Keyboards, Piano
*Michael Brooks - Bass
*Terry Hanck - Tenor Saxophone
*Mike Keck - Keyboards, Organ, Piano
*Bill Slais - Keyboards, Synthesizer, Vocals
*Mickey Thomas - Vocals
*John Vernazza - Rhythm, Slide Guitar, Vocals

1969-70/72  Party Till The Cows Come Home
1974  Elvin Bishop - Let It Flow
1977  Live! Raisin' Hell (2012 remaster)

with Paul Butterfield Blues Band
1964  The Original Lost Elektra Sessions
1965  The Paul Butterfield Blues Band
1966  East West
1966-68  Strawberry Jam

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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Web - Fully Interlocking (1968 uk, beautiful ethereal baroque psychedelia with jazz and prog elements, 2008 remaster)

One of the more eclectically inclined bands to emerge out of the British psychedelic scene, the Web hailed from the same neck of the woods as Robert Fripp, Greg Lake, and Al Stewart, and very much shared in the same serious outlook that characterized those talents. Jazz-tinged and blues-laden, the Web moved to London in 1966, eventually signing to one of the few labels that actually seemed geared toward their darkly uncommercial brew, Decca's Deram subsidiary, but the three albums the band cut were never going to set the charts on fire, no matter how sincerely atmospheric the music therein.

Moodily produced by Mike Vernon, 1968's Fully Interlocking debut is generally regarded as the band's finest hour, a thoughtful and oftentimes dense exploration of themes, rhythms, and melancholies that were uniquely their own. Three bonus tracks then bounce this reissue up to 13 songs via an intoxicating blueprint for Blood, Sweat & Tears' "I'm a Man" and "God Bless the Child," and -- standing out like more sore thumbs than any single band should be able to raise -- the Bee Gees' "To Love Somebody." What were they thinking? 
by Dave Thompson
1. City Of Darkness (Tony Edwards, John Eaton) - 3:07
2. Harold Dubbleyew (Tom Harris, John Eaton) - 3:11
3. Hatton Mill Morning (John Eaton) - 3:49
4. Green Side Up (Tom Harris) - 2:01
5. Wallpaper (Tom Harris, John Eaton) - 3:00
6. Did You Die Four Years Ago Tonight? (Lennie Wright, John Eaton) - 2:11
7. Watcha Kelele (Tony Edwards) - 3:51
8. Reverend J. McKinnon (John Eaton) - 2:59  
9. Sunday Joint (Lennie Wright, John Eaton) - 2:02
10.War Or Peace - 9:42
.1.Theme (Terry Noonan)
.2.East Meets West (John Eaton)  
.3.Battle Scene (Lennie Wright, Kenny Beveridge)
.4.Conscience (Lennie Wright, John Eaton)
.5.Epilogue (Terry Noonan, Lennie Wright, John Eaton)
11.I'm A Man (Steve Winwood) - 3:33
12.God Bless The Child (Billie Holiday, Arthur Herzog Jr) - 5:00
13.To Love Somebody (Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb) - 3:29

The Web
*John L. Watson - Vocals
*Kenny Beveridge - Drums, Percussion
*Lennie Wright - Vibes, Percussion
*John Eaton - Guitar
*Tony Edwards - Guitar
*Dick Lee-Smith - Bass
*Tom Harris - Saxes, Flute

Related Act
1971  Samurai - Samurai (2008 remaster)

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