Monday, January 23, 2017

Donovan - A Gift From A Flower To A Garden (1967 uk, brilliant jazzy trippy folk psychedelia, 2008 remaster)

Separately released in the U.S. as the pop record from 1967's double-LP A Gift From a Flower to a Garden, Wear Your Love Like Heaven stands on its own as one of the brightest, most pleasant works Donovan ever recorded. The title track and "Oh Gosh" were the only nods to the charts (and, tellingly, the only songs produced by Mickie Most). For once in Donovan's career, the remainders far outshone the singles, with brisk, breezy productions and the thoughtful playing of an actual band behind Donovan -- usually just bass, keyboards, and soft, whisking drums or bongos. Donovan's voice is better than ever, playful and unassuming on romps like "Mad John's Escape," "Skip-A-Long Sam," and "Oh Gosh," while expressive and controlled for the slower material. He also makes evocative folkie nostalgia work much better than it should on "Sun" and "Little Boy in Corduroy," helped by the breathy flute playing of Harold McNair. 

The second American LP released from the British two-record set A Gift From a Flower to a Garden, For Little Ones is almost wholly an acoustic-guitar work, with only a few touches of brushing percussion, flute, and harmonica. Donovan frames his long-ago fairy tales with an appropriately faraway yen to his voice, and the songwriting is influenced more by Lewis Carroll and Childe ballads than Bob Dylan. There's a pronounced air of sadness to many of these songs, so small children may grow uneasy by "The Enchanted Gypsy" or "Widow With Shawl (A Portrait)." Donovan's childlike sense of humor also comes through, however, including the irresistible closer "Starfish-On-The-Toast." 
by John Bush 
1. Wear Your Love Like Heaven - 2:30
2. Mad John's Escape - 2:23
3. Skip-A-Long Sam - 2:29
4. Sun - 3:20
5. There Was A Time - 2:05
6. Oh Gosh - 1:52
7. Little Boy In Corduroy - 2:37
8. Under The Greenwood Tree - 2:00
9. The Land Of Doesn't Have To Be - 2:32
10.Someone's Singing - 3:09
11.Song Of The Naturalist's Wife - 2:47
12.The Enchanted Gypsy - 3:23
13.Voyage Into The Golden Screen - 3:17
14.Isle Of Islay - 2:25
15.The Mandolin Man And His Secret - 3:36
16.Lay Of The Last Tinker - 1:54
17.The Tinker And The Crab - 2:56
18.Widow With A Shawl - 3:03
19.The Lullaby Of Spring - 3:28
20.The Magpie - 1:33
21.Starfish-On-The-Toast - 2:48
22.Epistle To Derroll - 5:47
All songs by Donovan P. Leitch, except track #8 lyrics by William Shakespeare, music by Donovan 

*Donovan - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Harmonica, Banjo, Whistling
*Eric Leese - Electric Guitar
*Cliff Barton - Electric Bass
*Ken Baldock - String Bass
*Jack Bruce - Electric Bass
*Keith Webb - Drums
*Mike O'Neil - Keyboards
*Harold Mcnair - Flute
*Tony Carr - Drums, Bells, Conga, Turkish, Finger Cymbals
*"Candy" John Carr - Conga, Bongo
*Mike Carr - Vibraphone

1967  Donovan - In Concert, The Complete Anaheim Show (2006 two disc set)  
1973  Donovan - Cosmic Wheels  

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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Joe Walsh - So What (1974 us, wonderful guitar rock, 2015 SACD)

Joe Walsh got his start at a guitarist for the James Gang, which he left for a solo career in 1971. Known best for his efforts with the Eagles, it was Walsh's 1974 album, So What, that secured him a place with the Eagles after Bernie Leadon departed. Walsh is still credited as the guy that gave The Eagles's laid-back sound a swift kick in the ass.

First and foremost, Walsh is an unbelievably solid guitar player. Walsh belongs to a class of guitar player that hasn't surfaced in the 90's alternative rock scene. It's almost sad really. Walsh is really a master of his instrument, while recently formed groups can barely play (i.e. Veruca Salt, seen 3/15/97 on my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Saturday Night Live).

So What has a sound that is firmly rooted in the 70's. Today, the 70's feel is very refreshing. When you listen to So What, you feel like you've jumped back to the mid-70's again, which is a nice feeling. You catch all of the harmonized backing vocals that was a 70's staple, while listening to guitar work that is creative in any era.

"Welcome To The Club" has a enough rhythm changes to keep you hooked for hours, with signature Walsh guitars that build and fade meticulously. Lyrically, Walsh is a bit more subtle here than he's famous for, spinning a yarn about crazy situations on the road.

"Falling Down" has a soulful, western feel to it. The rhythm work is done on a 12-string, with most of the leads added delicately with a 6-string electric. Present again are the 70's vocal harmonies, which are layered so that they're almost ghost like.

On "Time Out", Walsh returns the style that made him famous on "Rocky Mountain Way." The song features a combination of standard and slide lead guitar that Walsh does so well. To date, I can't think of anyone who so perfectly combines these two styles. The drumming and bass are very prominent on this track. Walsh seems to let the rhythm guys hold the song while he paints over it. This isn't anything new, it's the standard Rx for rock and roll. It's just that when you listen to this album, you notice all of the ridiculously simple things that many bands don't do anymore.

"Help Me Through The Night" was the doorway into the Eagles and beyond. This was the first song that Henley, Frey and Walsh worked on together. With Henley and Frey on backing vocals, it sounds like the song is from Hotel California. While the presence of the Eagles is noticeable, the song still preserves the feel of the rest of the album.

While So What lacks any mega hits, it's probably his most beautiful album. With it's firmly rooted 70's style, it will show some signs of age on the turntable today. But its strengths, great guitar work, great vocal harmonies, and peaceful demeanor are timeless in any era. With So What in the background, a nice drink and a loved one nearby, the album promotes a wonderful "time out" to unwind.
by Bill Ziemer
1. Welcome to the Club - 5:09
2. Falling Down (Joe Walsh, Don Henley) - 4:57
3. Pavanne for the Sleeping Beauty (Maurice Ravel) - 1:57
4. Time Out - 4:26
5. All Night Laundry Mat Blues - 1:02
6. Turn to Stone - 3:49
7. Help Me Through the Night - 3:40
8. County Fair - 6:40
9. Song for Emma - 4:42
All songs written by Joe Walsh except where stated.

*Joe Walsh - Synthesizer, Bass, Guitar, Piano, Vocals,  Moog Synthesizer, Mellotron, ARP
*Jody Boyer - Vocals
*Dan Fogelberg - Guitar, Vocals
*Glenn Frey - Vocals,
*Guille Garcia - Percussion, Conga
*Bryan Garofalo - Bass, Vocals,
*Ron Grinel - Drums
*Don Henley - Vocals
*Russ Kunkel - Drums
*Randy Meisner - Vocals
*Kenny Passarelli - Bass, Vocals
*J.D. Souther - Guitar, Vocals
*Leonard Southwick - Harmonica
*Tom Stephenson - Organ, Keyboards
*John Stronach - Vocals
*Joe Vitale - Flute, Drums, Keyboards

Related Act
1969  James Gang - Yer' Album (Japan SHM remaster)  
1970  James Gang - Rides Again (2010 SHM remaster)  

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Friday, January 20, 2017

Stone The Crows - Live In Montreux (1972 uk, great hard blues rock, 2002 edition)

Although Ontinuous Performance remains the ultimate Stone the Crows live album, if only by virtue of its age, anybody seeking the true sound of the band at its peak would do far better to seek out this latter-day exhumation. Clocking in at a shade over 54 minutes, Live in Montreux 1972 features just five tracks, but what epics they are. Incendiary versions of "Friends," "Penicillin Blues" (the only cut duplicated on the earlier album), "Love 74," "Danger Zone," and some 20 minutes of Bob Dylan's "Hollis Brown" feature the classic Crows lineup of Maggie Bell, Colin Allen, Ronnie Leahy, Steve Thompson, and Leslie Harvey -- in fact, the show was recorded just weeks before Harvey's death, on-stage in Swansea on March 3, 1972. 

The sound quality is superb, capturing the true feel of one of Britain's most solid and reliable live experiences; indeed, alongside the band's John Peel sessions album, Live in Montreux 1972 ranks up there alongside the greatest Crows albums of them all. 
by Dave Thompson
1. Friends (Leslie Harvey, James Dewar) - 9:19
2. Penicillin Blues (Brownie McGhee, Sonny Terry) - 6:52
3. Love 74 (John McGinnis) - 11:28
4. Danger Zone (Curtis Mayfield) - 6:14
5. Hollis Brown (Bob Dylan) - 21:01

Stone The Crows
*James Dewar - Bass, Vocals
*Colin Allen - Drums, Percussion
*Leslie Harvey - Guitar
*Maggie Bell - Vocals
*John McGinnis - Organ, Piano

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Maggie Bell - Suicide Sal (1975 uk, splendid hard blues classic rock, 2006 remaster)

Scottish soul-rock singer Maggie Bell first gained prominence singing with Stone the Crows, which released its first album in 1970 and broke up in June 1973. Bell went solo with Queen of the Night (featuring the U.S. number 97 "After Midnight") in 1974.

A tougher, more energized set than its predecessor, Suicide Sal is electrifying live feel reflects the incendiary stage shows Bell and her new backing band had been playing in the intervening time between recordings. The two bonus tracks, recorded at a gig later that year, capture their live ferocity. Intriguingly, the funky, fiery title track, an homage to Bell's Aunt, a music hall star, is one of only two originals on this set. The second, the lavishly bluesy "If You Don't Know" was penned by band keyboardist Pete Wingfield, and boasts a guesting Jimmy Page on guitar. The storming "Coming on Strong" also has a Bell connection, being co-penned by ex-Crow Colin Allen and Zoot Money. 

The rest of the album comprises astutely chosen covers drawn from an eclectic selection of artists. One of the standouts is "It's Been So Long," a powerful gospel number written by the Pretty Things' Phil May, who not only rewrote some of the lyrics for Bell, but added his backing vocals to the song. Free's classic "Wishing Well" gets a sensational workout, while that band's offshoot Kossoff, Kirke, Tetsu & Rabbit's "Hold On" is taken to new emotive heights. From barrelling Beatles pop to the Sutherland Brothers poignant Gaelic ode, from ballads to hefty rock & roll, Bell struts across this set with style and such assurance, that even Aunt Sal must have been impressed. One of Britain's greatest soul singers, showcased at her best, this magnificent album also includes an excellent, expansive biography of this crucial artist. 
by Jo-Ann Greene
1. Wishing Well (John "Rabbit" Bundrick, Paul Kossoff, Paul Rodgers, Simon Kirke, Tetsu Yamauchi) - 3:33
2. Suicide Sal (Chris Trengrove, Maggie Bell, Mark London, Mike Clifford, Pete Wingfield) - 3:45
3. I Was In Chains (Gavin Sutherland, Iain Sutherland) - 3:03
4. If You Don’t Know (Pete Wingfield) - 3:54
5. What You Got (Charles Armstrong) - 2:54
6. In My Life (David Courtney, Leo Sayer) - 3:11
7. Comin On Strong (Colin Allen, Zoot Money) - 4:07
8. Hold On (Paul Kossoff, Simon Kirke) - 4:49
9. I Saw Him Standing There (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) - 4:18
10.It’s Been So Long (Phil May) - 4:34
11.Comin On Strong (Colin Allen, Zoot Money) - 5:55
12.Going Down (Don Nix) - 5:10
Bonus Live Tracks 11-12

*Maggie Bell - Vocals
*Brian Breeze - Guitar, Vocals
*Hugh Burns - Guitar
*Roy Davies - Keyboards
*Paul Francis - Drums
*Ray Glynn - Guitar
*Delisle Harper - Bass
*Jimmy Jewell - Saxophone
*Cuddley Judd - Bagpipes
*Mickey Keene - Guitar
*Billy Lawrie - Bass
*Mark London - Vocals
*Jimmy Page - Guitar
*Clark Terry - Guitar
*Pete Wingfield - Keyboards

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Buckingham Nicks - Buckingham Nicks (1973 us, wonderful melodic sliky rock, 2016 korean remaster and expanded)

While it will be hard to find, this lone album cut by a young and ambitious (and still romantically attached) Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham a short two years before joining Fleetwood Mac is well worth digging out for your turntable. There are a few CD versions floating around, but they were no doubt burned from vinyl copies anyway, so don't be fooled. With the Mac's highly lucrative 1997 reunion there was serious talk of a re-release, but apparently it was just talk. Considering what the duo was to later accomplish, Buckingham Nicks is an engaging listen and served as a proving ground of sorts for both artists' songwriting chops and for Buckingham's skills as an emerging studio craftsman. 

It was a good enough resumé for Fleetwood Mac, who re-recorded the beautifully cerebral "Crystal" when the duo joined them for 1975's self-titled comeback album. The high-octane rockabilly of "Don't Let Me Down Again" became a staple of the band's concert sets well into the 1980s. Crisp, ringing acoustic guitars and a bottom-heavy rhythm section (using the talents of Waddy Wachtel, Jim Keltner, and Jerry Scheff) framed the pair's songs in a sound something akin to FM-ready folk-rock. Lesser known tracks like the glistening opener, "Crying in the Night," from Nicks and Buckingham's lonely-guy lament, "Without a Leg to Stand On," are on a par with their later mega hits. At the same time, the misogyny of Buckingham's "Lola, My Love" is a real eye-roller and the orchestral overtones of "Frozen Love" show that the two were over-reaching themselves just a bit. Buckingham-Nicks was a stiff however and the couple had lost their deal with Polydor. But 1975, of course, proved to be one of their better years. 
by John Duffy
1. Crying In The Night - 2:57
2. Stephanie (Lindsey Buckingham) - 2:12
3. Without A Leg To Stand On (Lindsey Buckingham) - 2:09
4. Crystal - 3:48
5. Long Distance Winner - 4:46
6. Don't Let Me Down Again (Lindsey Buckingham) - 3:51
7. Django (John Lewis) - 1:02
8. Races Are Run - 4:14
9. Lola (My Love) (Lindsey Buckingham) - 3:44
10.Frozen Love (Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham) - 7:17
11.Crying In The Night (Single) - 2:58
12.Don't Let Me Down Again (Mono Single) (Lindsey Buckingham) - 3:30
13.Sorcerer - 4:43
14.Garbo - 3:12
15.Cathouse Blues - 1:38
16.That's Allright - 3:10
17.Candlebright - 2:09
18.Without You - 3:39
19.Lola (Lindsey Buckingham) - 4:20
20.Races Are Run - 4:38
21.Rhiannon - 3:00
All compositions by Stevie Nicks except where stated
Tracks 1-10 from the original 1973 album
Bonus Tracks 11-21
Tracks 19-21 Live In Tuscaloosa, Alabama 1973

*Lindsey Buckingham - Vocals, Guitars, Bass Guitar, Percussion
*Stevie Nicks - Vocals
*Gary 'Hoppy' Hodges - Drums, Percussion
*Jorge Calderón - Percussion
*Richard Hallagan - String Arrangement
*Jim Keltner - Drums
*Peggy Sandvig - Keyboards
*Jerry Scheff - Bass Guitar
*Monty Stark - Synthesizer
*Mark Tulin - Bass Guitar
*Ronnie Tutt - Drums
*Waddy Wachtel - Guitars

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Saturday, January 14, 2017

Arthur Lee With Band Aid - Vindicator (1972 us, tremendous multiblended rock with psych, folk, southern, rhythm and blues overtones, 2008 extra tracks remaster)

Love's 1967 masterpiece Forever Changes was an album so beautiful and timeless that it tends to dwarf everything else in the group's repertoire, and its gentle balance of grace and dread has made a lot of people forget just how hard Love could rock when Arthur Lee and his bandmates were of a mind. While Love's debut album pushed folk-rock into an overdrive that resembled punk, Lee's first solo set, 1972's Vindicator, was a muscular set of guitar-fueled hard rock laced with blues, showing the clear influence of Lee's late friend Jimi Hendrix.

With Charles Karp's powerful guitar leads dominating the arrangements and Lee's vocals strutting with maximum rock star swagger on tunes like "Love Jumped Through My Window" and "Sad Song," Vindicator boogies with a cocky confidence that belies the fact Lee's career was in need of a clear direction at the time, and while there are no signs of the delicacy of Forever Changes, three decades on this sounds like mid-'70s guitar rock at its best. Lee was able to bring a soulful edge to songs like "Everybody's Gotta Live" and "He Knows a Lot of Good Women," and he connects with a sly blues shuffle on "He Said She Said," but it's when Lee and Karp crank up their guitars and the rhythm section of Don Poncher and David Hull turn up the heat that Vindicator really takes off, inviting the spirit with the kiss-the-sky spirit of "You Want Change for Our Re-Run" and laying out some thick Marshall-stack crunch on "Every Time I Look Up I'm Down." 

And anyone wanting a dose of Lee's well-documented eccentricity won't be at all disappointed with the brief spoken word fragment "You Can Save Up to 50% But You're Still a Long Ways from Home" and the anti-fast food tirade "Hamburger Breath Stinkfinger," both of which confirm Lee didn't turn away his muse when he cut these sessions. While Arthur Lee could create music of simple and fragile beauty, that doesn't change the fact he was a rocker at heart, and he rarely rocked harder or with more passion than he did on Vindicator. 
by Mark Deming
1. Sad Song - 2:19
2. You Can Save Up To 50%, But You're Still A Long Ways From Home - 0:19
3. Love Jumped Through My Window - 2:55
4. Find Somebody - 3:47
5. He Said She Said - 2:18
6. Every Time I Look Up I'm Down Or White Dog (I Don't Know What That Means!) - 3:56
7. Everybody's Gotta Live - 3:33
8. You Want Change For Your Re-Run - 4:16
9. He Knows A Lot Of Good Women (Or Scotty's Song) - 3:14
10.Hamburger Breath Stinkfinger - 2:45
11.Ol' Morgue Mouth - 0:53
12.Busted Feet (Arthur Lee, Charles Karp) – 4:51
13.Everybody's Gotta Live - 3:34
14.He Knows A Lot Of Good Women - 3:15
15.Pencil In Hand - 2:19
16.E-Z Rider - 2:59
17.Looking Glass Looking At Me - 4:19
All tracks composed by Arthur Lee except where indicated
Bonus Tracks 13-17

*Arthur Lee - Guitar, Vocals
*Charlie Karp - Guitar
*Frank Fayad - Bass
*Clarence McDonald - Organ
*Don Poncher - Drums
*Craig Tarwater - Guitar
*David Hull - Bass

1966  Love - Love (remaster and expanded)
1967  Love - Da Capo (remaster and expanded)  
1967  Love - Forever Changes (2008 digi pack double disc set)  
1971  Love - Lost Love (2009 Sundazed release)  
1973  Love - Black Beauty (2013 bonus tracks remaster) 
1974  Love - Reel to Real (2015 deluxe sdition)  
1992  Arthur Lee And Love ‎– Five String Serenade
Related Act
1966-82  Bryan MacLean - Ifyoubelievein

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Friday, January 13, 2017

Love - Black Beauty (1973 us, exciting rough garage psych rock, 2013 bonus tracks remaster)

Supremely talented yet prone to devastating self-sabotage, Arthur Lee was on the ropes in the early 1970s. Glory days on the Sunset Strip, and authorship of one of the greatest records ever – Love’s Forever Changes – had soured, giving way to an incoherent odyssey, and a meandering, undistinguished string of new “Loves”. Occasional bursts of new inspiration were more likely than not to fizzle amid record label flameouts, reluctance to tour, and concomitant drug and personal problems.

Yet for those willing to a) overlook Lee’s steadfast refusal to relive the inimitable themes and textures of Forever Changes, and b) forgive him his excesses and volatilities, by the early ’70s Lee had begun to forge a forceful, distinctive new style: sizzling hard rock true to the spirit of his friend Jimi Hendrix; gritty, inner-city funk underpinnings à la Curtis Mayfield; a few nods to his folk-rock, pop-star past; plus bits of blues and reggae around the edges. Some of this material appeared in real time, in the shape of his ’72 solo outing Vindicator and Love’s ’74 swansong Reel To Real. More has surfaced on archival releases, like Sundazed’s 2009 set, Love Lost.

Bankrolled by entrepreneur Michael Butler (producer of the hit musical Hair) and reuniting Lee with his old Elektra friend, producer Paul Rothchild, Black Beauty was intended to be a culmination, the crowning achievement of Lee’s new direction. It ended up as just another scrapped project. Butler’s label, Buffalo Records, went belly-up before the disc ever reached the market. It would be Lee’s penultimate shot at the big time, 1974’s calamitous UK tour with Eric Clapton sealing his future on the margins.

Black Beauty began organically enough, though. Ditching the ad hoc bands he’d been gigging with around LA, Lee started from scratch, organising a brand-new, all-black Love. The group – guitarist Melvan Whittington, bassist Robert Rozelle, drummer Joe Blocker – bristles with authority and immediacy, imbuing Black Beauty with a raw, pugnacious, in-your-face sound.

Whereas, say, an early take of “Midnight Sun” sounds forced and claustrophobic on Love Lost, its Black Beauty counterpart burns with apocalyptic fervour, resonant of a camaraderie and telepathic interplay oft-lacking in Love’s post-Forever Changes work.

Opening with the gut-punch of “Good & Evil (Young & Able)”, a lascivious, un-PC piece of Hendrixian punk-funk, Black Beauty sprouts tentacles, beaming in testosterone-fuelled garage blasts (“Stay Away”, think Nuggets on steroids), the sumptuously anti-authoritarian riff “Lonely Pigs” and “Can’t Find It”, a haunting lament gliding on a gorgeously elliptical melody, with jagged guitar bits bubbling up through the mix.

For all its hard-rock glory – and Hendrix’ spectre casts a long shadow everywhere on Love’s 1970s work – Black Beauty is eclectic, shifting gears gracefully, suggesting myriad musical directions a healthy Arthur Lee could have pursued. “Beep Beep”, for instance, reflects his infatuation with reggae, and while it might be fluffy kid’s-song fare, it’s catchy as anything. An off-the-wall cover of The Rooftop Singers’ 1963 smash “Walk Right In” is also an inspired call, an album highlight, its jangly guitars and soulful vocal hook signalling a nod to Love’s 1966 folk-rock heyday.

“Skid”, though, with its Dylanesque sneer and gritty depiction of ghetto misery, is Black Beauty’s most startling cut. Lee is at his dramatic best here, falling into the song’s dark atmosphere with an eerie, ghostly desperation – one of his best vocals ever. Skittering from funky acoustic rhythms to a driving, haunting chorus to Whittington’s superb psychedelic guitar fills, one would think this song, if properly promoted, could have put Love back on the map. As it is, it’s an inestimable gem in the group’s vaunted catalogue, its majesty posing a giant “what if?” in the Love saga.

In fact, the better-late-than-never appearance of Black Beauty itself poses some big questions. Could Lee and company have refined, expanded and built on its strengths? Did Arthur have yet more material of this calibre up his sleeve? Nonetheless, supplemented by bonus tracks and Ben Edmonds’ fine liner notes, Black Beauty slots in as a fascinating, decidedly consistent effort from an artist in the throes of disintegration.
by Luke Torn
1. Young And Able (Good And Evil) - 3:24
2. Midnight Sun - 3:33
3. Can't Find It - 3:46
4. Walk Right In (Gus Cannon, Hosea Woods) - 3:23
5. Skid (Angela Rackley, Riley Racer) - 2:52
6. Beep Beep - 2:14
7. Stay Away - 2:47
8. Lonely Pigs - 4:25
9. See Myself In You - 3:03
10.Product Of The Times - 4:11
11.Thomasine And Bushrod (Title Song From The Motion Picture) - 2:26
12.Arthur Lee Interview - 22:16
13.Every Time I Look Up, I'm Down  - 3:32
14.Nothing  - 3:06
15.Keep On Shining  - 5:56
16.L.A. Blues (Tom T. Hall) - 3:02
All songs by Arthur Lee except where noted
Tracks 1 to 9 recorded Spring-Winter, 1973 at Valentine's, North Hollywood, CA; Paramount Recording Studios, Hollywood, CA; Wally Heider Studios, Hollywood, CA.
Track 10 Recorded Live at Boston Tea Garden 1970
Tracks 13-15 Live at Electric Gardens, Glasgow, 5/30/1974

*Arthur Lee - Guitar, Vocals, Harpsichord
*Joe Blocker - Drums, Vocals
*Robert Rozelle - Bass
*Melvan Whittington - Guitar, Harpsichord
*Frank Fayad - Bass
*Don Poncher - Drums
*Byron Reynolds - Drums
*Riley Racer - Dobro
*Craig Tarwater - Guitar
*Carl McKnight - Steel Drums
*Matt Devine - Bass, Guitar, Vocals
*John Sterling - Guitar

1966  Love - Love (remaster and expanded)
1967  Love - Da Capo (remaster and expanded)  
1967  Love - Forever Changes (2008 digi pack double disc set)  
1971  Love - Lost Love (2009 Sundazed release)  
1974  Love - Reel to Real (2015 deluxe sdition)  
1992  Arthur Lee And Love ‎– Five String Serenade  
Related Act
1966-82  Bryan MacLean - Ifyoubelievein  

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Fire - Underground And Overhead-The Alternate Fire (1967-69 uk, superb psych freakbeat)

Anthology of 1967-69 tracks recorded by British psychedelic popsters responsible for the classic psych single "Father's Name Is Dad', two versions of which are included on this release together with its equally stellar B-side "Treacle Toffee World'. Other tracks include aborted follow-up singles, both sides of the group's Who-influenced 1967 Oak label acetate (recorded under their previous name of Friday's Chyld), three earlier (and better) versions of songs that appeared on the 1970 concept LP The Magic Shoemaker and the ten-minute mini-pop opera "Alison Wonderland'. Superb booklet includes a lengthy essay on the band.

"Fire's 1968 classic "Father's Name Is Dad' is a true Zeitgeist record, measuring perfectly the distance the teen psyche had travelled in three years. The angst of a "My Generation' or the weekender ethic of "Friday On My Mind' is blown away in a sugarcube-shaped instant by lead singer Dave Lambert's disdainful "I laugh at it all". The other eighteen tracks here prove Fire to have been an adventurous and inventive combo capable of state-of-the-art whimsy on "Man In The Teapot', drama-laden balladry on "Only A Dream', pulsating groove-throb on "Alison Wonderland', and prescient lyricism on "I've Still Got Time'. The sleevenotes tell a familiar tale of ambition thwarted by insensitive record company clods (they had a brief brush with Apple), and, hilariously, a bilious 1973 encounter between Lambert, by then a pop star with the Strawbs, and former manager Ray Hammond, by then a journo for Disc & Music Echo." (Mojo)

"Best-known, and rightly so, for the 1968 mod-pop jewel "My Father's Name Is Dad', Fire's discography was always besoiled by an embarrassing follow-up single, "Round The Gum Tree', and a rather twee storytale/concept album, The Magic Shoemaker. With Underground & Overhead, Wooden Hill attempt to apply a new shine to Fire's tarnished image, presenting a selection of mostly-unreleased tracks from 1967-69 that UK pop-psych fans can actually sit down and listen to from start to finish. "Father's Name Is Dad' and its equally whimsical flipside, Treacle Toffee World', are certainly the most memorable songs here, but not far behind are the intended follow-up "Spare A Copper' and "Happy Sound', the latter with its warbled Bolan-esque back-ups, coming off a lot like John's Children. Other highlights include the driving "I've Still Got Time' and "Magic Shoes', a superb slice of melodic pop-psych which was re-recorded (in inferior form) for the Magic Shoemaker album. Another top-notch release..." 
Ugly Things
1. Father's Name Is Dad - 2:28
2. Treacle Toffee World - 2:08
3. Happy Sound - 2:17
4. Spare A Copper - 2:41
5. Will I Find Love? - 2:18
6. Man In The Teapot - 2:22
7. Only A Dream - 2:48
8. It's Just Love - 3:56
9. Magic Shoes - 3:56
10.I've Still Got Time - 2:23
11.I Know You Inside Out - 4:25
12.Reason For Everything - 2:33
13.Alison Wonderland - 10:44
14.I Just Can't Wait - 2:29
15.I Didn't Know You - 2:44
16.Can't Be So Bad (Miller) - 1:43
17.Green-Legged Auntie Sally - 8:13
18.Mama - 6:03
19.Oh Johnny - 5:54  
20.Father's Name Is Dad (Alternative Version) - 2:33
All songs by Dave Lambert except track #16

The Fire
*Dave Lambert - Vocals, Keyboards, Guitar
*Dick Dufall - Bass, Vocals
*Bob Voice - Drums, Vocals
*Paul Brett - Guitar

1969-70  Fire - The Magic Shoemaker (2009 bonus tracks remaster)  
Related Act
1970  Paul Brett's Sage - Paul Brett's Sage (Japan remaster)

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Monday, January 9, 2017

Fire - The Magic Shoemaker (1968-70 uk, extraordinary psych prog rock, 2009 bonus tracks remaster)

For me the most depressing thing about today’s rock music is that so much of it exhibits such a lack of creativity or originality. If something sells, clone it, quickly. What a contrast to the late sixties, when for a brief heady spell the artists rather than the bean-counters had the whip hand and the spirit of experimentation soared over everything. Of course this produced as many heroic failures as acknowledged triumphs; Fire’s The Magic Shoemaker bombed on release, and even such retrospective reviews as it has received have frequently been ambivalent. Ah, what have we got here, then? Former psychedelic outfit moves towards progressive rock with a song-cycle that’s too lightweight plot-wise to be a concept album, too naïve and inconsequential to be a rock opera . . . hmmmm. But what is true is that it certainly represents a brave attempt to be different.

London trio Dave Lambert (vcl, gtr, keys), Dick Dufall (bs, vcl) and Bob Voice (drs, vcl) had impressed the Beatles’ Apple label sufficiently to score a deal that resulted in the classic psych A-side “Father’s Name Is Dad”. The marriage was not a happy one, though, and Fire soon found themselves at odds with the music industry at large. Retiring to the suburbs, Lambert spent a year writing and demo-ing the songs for The Magic Shoemaker, based around a whimsical children’s bedtime story in which a shoemaker cobbles together a pair of shoes that unexpectedly allow the wearer to fly. These are loaned to a king whose country is threatened with war by a neighbouring state; when the king confronts his opposite number from the sky the latter’s army are spooked and a peace treaty is forthcoming. Admittedly, it’s a slender peg to hang your creative coat on, but in its own quirky homespun fashion it works.

The premise of the album is that the narrator (Lambert, in a homely Home Counties accent) tells the story to a group of kids on a coach trip (real kids’ voices, overdubbed travel noises). Short pieces of the narrative occur between and within the songs whose lyrics broadly parallel episodes in the tale, some closely, others in more abstract fashion. Musically the songs follow a basic guitar-driven pop-rock template, varying widely in style and tempo – Tommy would undoubtedly have been an influence – with frequent psychedelic studio enhancement, particularly on the opening “Tell You A Story”, “Only A Dream” and the long instrumental coda of “Reason For Everything”. Pick of the bunch for me is “I Can See The Sky” with its raw freakbeat vibe, but they’re all quite engaging. Lambert’s lead vocal, somewhere between Daltrey and Bowie, is sometimes somewhat over-affected, but the musicianship is excellent throughout with the basic guitar trio being complemented by Lambert’s modest keyboards and plenty of top-drawer lead guitar work from himself and Velvet Opera’s Paul Brett. Future Strawbs partner Dave Cousins makes a cameo appearance on banjo on the superfluous jugband ditty “Happy Man Am I”. The production by Pye’s Ray Hammond is unsophisticated but its contemporary favouring of stereo separation and reverb suits the project and the interleaving of songs and narration is seamless.

Predictably, The Magic Shoemaker tanked well and truly on its release on Pye in 1970, being too late for psych and too lightweight for prog, and subsequently became a much-sought-after rarity until its inevitable reissue on CD. The current Sanctuary edition tailgates the original album with the A’s and B’s of both of Fire’s earlier psych singles including the indispensable “Father’s Name Is Dad” and “Treacle Toffee World”. As an interesting epilogue, after a long and successful association with Cousins in the Strawbs Lambert reformed Fire for a one-off concert in 2007, performing Shoemaker in extended form including the earlier psych sides and other unreleased songs. The gig was recorded for sound and video and subsequently released on CD by Angel Air as The Magic Shoemaker Live, receiving wide acclaim . . . which is more than the original release achieved.
by Len Liechti
1. Children Of Imagination - 0:18
2. Tell You A Story - 6:41
3. Magic Shoes - 3:42
4. Reason For Everything - 7:35
5. Only A Dream - 5:41
6. Flies Like A Bird - 5:41
7. Like To Help You If I Can - 4:06
8. I Can See The Sky - 5:15
9. Shoemaker - 5:18
10.Happy Man Am I - 0:57
11.Children Of Imagination - 0:35
12.Father’s Name Is Dad - 2:32
13.Toffee Treacle World - 2:09
14.Round The Gum Tree - 1:33
15.Toothie Ruthie - 1:56
All Songs by Dave Lambert
Bonus Tracks 12-15

The Fire
*Dave Lambert - Vocals, Keyboards, Guitar,
*Dick Dufall - Bass, Vocals,
*Bob Voice - Drums, Vocals

Related Act
1970  Paul Brett's Sage - Paul Brett's Sage (Japan remaster)

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Sunday, January 8, 2017

Tom Rush - Merrimack County / Ladies Love Outlaws (1972/74 us, great country folk rock, 2000 edition)

Named after the county where he resided, Merrimack County is also the first Tom Rush album which didn't show any ground gained. It is still a fine effort. Perhaps by including mainly originals instead of interpretations of others' tunes, Merrimack County is a bit of a letdown. A minor effort from a major star. 

Tom Rush's main strength, Ladies Love Outlaws plunges the listener full-tilt into the country-rock sound which so many were finding in the mid-'70s. Included here are Guy Clark's "Desperados Waiting for a Train," Lee Clayton's title track, and a stunning redo of Rush's own "No Regrets" helped along by the likes of the Eagles and Carly Simon on backup. But the best is saved for last, where Rush covers Bruce Cockburn's "One Day I Walk," showing that he hadn't lost his touch. A bit rough in places, but well done for the most part. 
by James Chrispell
Merrimack County 1972
1. Kids These Days (Tom Rush, Trevor Veitch) - 4:14
2. Mink Julep (Tom Rush) - 2:29
3. Mother Earth (Eric Kaz) - 2:35
4. Jamaica Say You Will (Jackson Browne) - 4:15
5. Merrimack County II (Tom Rush, Trevor Veitch) - 2:49
6. Gypsy Boy (Bob Carpenter) - 3:24
7. Wind On the Water (Tom Rush) - 3:37
8. Roll Away the Grey (Bob Carpenter) - 2:59
9. Seems the Songs (Tom Rush) - 3:41
10.Gone Down River (Tom Rush) - 4:20
Ladies Love Outlaws 1974
11.Ladies Love Outlaws (Lee Clayton) - 2:31
12.Hobo's Mandolin (Michael Peter Smith) - 3:12
13.Indian Woman From Wichita (Wayne Berry) - 4:20
14.Maggie (Tom Rush) - 3:33
15.Desperados Waiting For the Train (Guy Clark) - 3:30
16.Claim On Me (Lee Clayton) - 4:09
17.Jenny Lynn (Richard Dean) - 3:01
18.Black Magic Gun (Wayne Berry) - 3:27
19.No Regrets (Tom Rush) - 5:41
20.One Day I Walk (Bruce Cockburn) - 2:16

1972  Merrimack County 
*Tom Rush - Guitar, Lead Vocals
*Trevor Veitch - Guitar, Mandolin, Background Vocals
*James Rolleston - Bass, Background Vocals
*Gary Mallaber - Drums, Percussion, Vibraphone
*Paul Armia - Fiddle
*Erik Robertson - Organ, Piano
*Bill Stevenson - Piano
*Kathryn Moses - Flute
*John Savage - Drums
1974  Ladies Love Outlaws
*Tom Rush - Acoustic Guitar, Lead Vocals
*Jeff "Skunk" Baxter - Electric Guitar
*Elliott Randall - Electric Guitar
*Bob Babbitt - Bass
*James Taylor - Background Vocals
*Carly Simon - Background Vocals
*Rupert Holmes - Background Vocals
*Jerry Friedman - Electric Guitar
*Leon Pendarvis - Keyboards
*Allan Schwartzberg - Drums
*Andrew Smith - Drums
*George Devens - Percussion
*Wayne Jackson - Trumpet
*Jack Hale - Trombone
*Ed Logan - Tenor Saxophone
*Andrew Love - Tenor Saxophone
*James Mitchell - Baritone Saxophone
*Carl Hall - Background Vocals
*Tasha Thomas - Background Vocals

1965  Tom Rush - Tom Rush
1968  Tom Rush - The Circle Game
1970  Tom Rush - Tom Rush / Wrong End Of The Rainbow

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