Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Association - Original Album Series (1966-69 us, awesome psych beat, 2016 five discs box set)

The Association was one of the more underrated groups to come out of the mid- to late '60s. Creators of an enviable string of hits from 1966 through 1969, they got caught in a shift in popular culture and the unwritten criteria for significance in that field and never recovered. The group's smooth harmonies and pop-oriented sound (which occasionally moved into psychedelia and, much more rarely, into a harder, almost garage-punk vein) made them regular occupants of the highest reaches of the pop charts for two years -- their biggest hits, including "Along Comes Mary," "Cherish," "Windy," and "Never My Love," became instant staples of AM play lists, which was a respectable achievement for most musicians at the time. That same sound, along with their AM radio popularity, however, proved a liability as the music environment around them changed at the end of the decade. Additionally, their ensemble singing, essential to the group's sound and appeal, all but ensured that the individual members never emerged as personalities in their own right. The Association was as anonymous an outfit as their contemporaries the Grass Roots, in terms of any individual names or attributes, despite the fact that both groups generated immensely popular hits that millions of listeners embraced on a deeply personal level.

The group's roots go back to a meeting in 1964 between Terry Kirkman, a Kansas-born, California-raised music major, proficient on upwards of two dozen instruments, and Jules Alexander, a Tennessee-born high school drop-out with an interest in R&B who was a budding guitar virtuoso. Alexander was in the U.S. Navy at the time, serving out his hitch, and they agreed to link up professionally once he was out. That happened at the beginning of 1965, and they at once pursued a shared goal, to put together a large-scale ensemble that would be more ambitious than such existing big-band folk outfits as the New Christy Minstrels and the Serendipity Singers. The result was the Men, a 13-member band that played folk, rock, and jazz, who earned a spot as the house band at the L.A. Troubadour. The group's promising future was cut short, however, when the group's lineup split in two after just a few weeks with seven members exiting. The remaining six formed the Association, the name coming at the suggestion of Kirkman's wife Judy.

Ted Bluechel, Jr. was their drummer, Brian Cole played bass, Russ Giguere was on percussion, and Jim Yester, brother of Easy Riders/Modern Folk Quartet alumnus Jerry Yester, played rhythm guitar behind Alexander. Each member was also a singer -- indeed, their vocal abilities were far more important than their skills on any specific instruments -- and several were multi-instrumentalists, able to free others up to play more exotic instruments on stage. The group rehearsed for six months before they began performing, developing an extremely polished, sophisticated, and complex sound.

The Association shopped itself around Los Angeles but couldn't do any better initially than a single release on the Jubilee label -- their debut, "Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You," wasn't a success, nor was their subsequent 1965 recording of Bob Dylan's "One Too Many Mornings" on Valiant Records, which was an early folk-rock effort that was probably a little too complex for national exposure -- though it got decent local radio play in Los Angeles. The group came completely into its own, however, with the recording of the singles "Along Comes Mary" and "Cherish."

The recording of those songs was to set a new standard in the treatment of rock music in America. As Ted Bluechel recalled in a 1984 Goldmine article by Marty Natchez, the voices were recorded at Columbia studios, while the instruments -- played by Terry Kirkman and Jules Alexander, plus a group of studio musicians -- were cut in an improvised four-track studio owned by Gary Paxton. Those two songs, and the entire album that followed, revealed a level of craftsmanship that was unknown in rock recordings up to that time. Producer Curt Boettcher showed incredible skill in putting together the stereo sound on that album, which was among the finest sounding rock records of the period. The fact that most of the members didn't play on their records was not advertised, but it was a common decision in recording in those days -- Los Angeles, in particular, was home to some of the best musicians in the country; they worked affordably and there was no reason to make less-than-perfect records. Even the Byrds, apart from Roger McGuinn, had stood on the sidelines when it was time to do the instrumental tracks on their earliest records, although this sense that the Association's music was a "production" rather than the work of an actual band probably helped contribute to their anonymity as a group. 

Considering their lightweight image in the later 1960s, the Association made a controversial entry into the music market with "Along Comes Mary" -- apart from its virtues as a record, with great hooks and a catchy chorus, it was propelled to the number seven spot nationally with help from rumors that the song was about marijuana. No one is quite certain of what songwriter Tandyn Almer had in mind, and one wonders how seriously any of this was taken at the time, in view of the fact that the song became an unofficial sports anthem for Catholic schools named St. Mary's. "Cherish," a Kirkman original (which was intended for a proposed single by Mike Whelan of the New Christy Minstrels), was their next success, riding to number one on the charts. Among the most beautiful rock records ever made, the song has been a perennial favorite of romantic couples for decades since. The group's debut album And Then...Along Comes the Association reached number five late in 1966. 

It was just at this point that the exhaustion that came with success and the avarice of their record label, along with a couple of artistic and commercial misjudgments, combined to interrupt the group's progress. Their next single, "Pandora's Golden Heebie Jeebies," was not an ideal choice as a follow-up to one of the prettiest and most accessible rock records of the decade, reaching only number 35, and "No Fair at All," the next single, also fared poorly. Equally important, the group was forced to rush out a second album, Renaissance (produced by Jim Yester's brother Jerry Yester), while they were honoring the burgeoning tour commitments attendant to a pair of huge national hits. It was also during this time that Valiant Records, including the Association's contract, was absorbed by Warner Bros. Records. 

A major personnel problem also arose as Jules Alexander, one of the core players in the group, decided to leave. He headed off to India, where he spent most of the next year. He returned in 1967, intending to form his own group, which never got off the ground. In the meantime, the Association recruited multi-instrumentalist Larry Ramos of the New Christy Minstrels to replace Alexander. The group's lineup change coincided with their getting access to a song by Ruthann Friedman called "Windy." Another number one single, it was tougher to realize as a finished work, cut over a period of 14 hours with Friedman and Yester's wife, arranger Cliff Burroughs, and his wife, along with numerous others, all singing with them. 

Insight Out, their third album, was a tough one to record as well. Initially to have been produced by Jerry Yester, it fell apart after it was half done when the group became unhappy with the sound and shape he was giving it. Instead, they turned to Bones Howe, an engineer and producer (most noted for his work with the Fifth Dimension, among many other popular acts), who finished the album with them. Insight Out was a better album than Renaissance, with pop, folk-rock, and hard rock elements that hold together reasonably well, although its audio textures lacked the delicacy of the group's debut long-player. The album's two hits, "Windy" and "Never My Love," were among their most popular and enduring records and helped drive sales of the 12" platter. The final track, "Requiem for the Masses," which featured a Gregorian chant opening, was a strange song mixing psychedelia and social commentary -- its lyrics were a searing social indictment, originally dealing with the death of boxer Davy Moore (Bob Dylan had written a song, very little known at the time, on the same subject four years earlier).

Immediately prior to the release of Insight Out, the group played the most visible live gig in their history, opening the Monterey International Pop Festival. The group didn't seem absurdly out of place, in the context of the times, on a bill with Simon & Garfunkel, the Who, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Eric Burdon and the Animals, and the Mamas & The Papas. It was an ideal showcase, and as the tapes of the festival reveal, the group was tight and hard that night, their vocals spot-on and their playing a match for any folk-rock band of the era -- Ted Bluechel's drumming, in particular, and Larry Ramos's and Jim Yester's guitars are perfect, and even Kirkland's flute came out well on stage. 

Had any part of their Monterey set been released, it might've helped correct the image that the Association were rapidly acquiring of being a soft, pop/rock group. Instead, their performance took some 20 years to see the light of day and longer than that for a pair of songs to show up on CD. The group's next album, Birthday, was a departure from its three predecessors, their attempt at creating a heavier sound. It was around this same time that they cut the single "Six Man Band," a very nasty critique of the music business written by Kirkman. The measures that the group took to change its image came too late -- Birthday fell largely on deaf ears when it was issued in 1968, and the singles "Six Man Band" and "Enter the Young," the latter a re-recording of a song that highlighted their debut album, charted only moderately well.

Warner Brothers' release of a greatest hits album in 1969 boosted the group's album sales and consolidated the audience that they had, but did nothing to stop the rot that had set in. By 1969, the sensibilities of the rock audience had hardened, even as that audience splintered. Suddenly, groups that specialized in more popular, lighter fare, usually aimed at audiences outside the 17-25 age group, and especially those with a big AM radio following, such as Paul Revere and the Raiders and the Grass Roots, and the Association were considered terminally out of fashion and uncool by the new rock intelligentsia. If they got mentioned or reviewed in the pages of Rolling Stone, Crawdaddy, or Circus magazine, it was usually for a lark rather than in a fully serious context. They were usually lumped together with bubblegum acts such as the 1910 Fruitgum Company and the Ohio Express and represented the kind of music you left behind (especially if you were a guy) once you got out of ninth grade, if you had any intentions of being considered cool. 
by Bruce Eder
Disc 1 - And Then...Along Comes 1966
1. Enter the Young (Terry Kirkman) - 2:04
2. Your Own Love (Jules Alexander, Jim Yester) - 2:02
3. Don't Blame It on Me (Don Addrisi, Dick Addrisi) - 2:03
4. Blistered (Billy Edd Wheeler) - 1:05
5. I'll Be Your Man (Russ Giguere) - 2:04
6. Along Comes Mary (Tandyn Almer) - 2:05
7. Cherish (Terry Kirkman) - 3:02
8. Standing Still (Ted Bluechel) - 2:04
9. Message of Our Love (Tandyn Almer, Curt Boettcher) - 4:00
10.Round Again (Jules Alexander) - 1:05
11.Remember (Jules Alexander) - 2:03
12.Changes (Jules Alexander) - 2:03
Disc 2 - Renaissance 1966
1. I'm the One (Russ Giguere) - 2:30
2. Memories of You (Jim Yester) - 2:20
3. All Is Mine (Terry Kirkman) - 3:16
4. Pandora's Golden Heebie Jeebies (Jules Alexander) - 2:49
5. Angeline (Jules Alexander, Terry Kirkman) - 3:10
6. Songs in the Wind" (Ted Bluechel) - 2:41
7. You May Think (Jules Alexander, Terry Kirkman) - 1:55
8. Looking Glass (Jules Alexander) - 2:13
9. Come to Me (Jules Alexander, Jim Yester) - 2:17
10.No Fair at All (Jim Yester) - 2:37
11.You Hear Me Call Your Name (Jules Alexander, Terry Kirkman) - 2:24
12.Another Time, Another Place (Jules Alexander) - 1:51
Disc 3 - Insight Out
1. Wasn't It a Bit Like Now? (Terry Kirkman) - 3:33
2. On a Quiet Night (P. F. Sloan) - 3:21
3. We Love Us (Ted Bluechel) - 2:25
4. When Love Comes to Me (Jim Yester) - 2:45
5. Windy (Ruthann Friedman) - 2:56
6. Reputation (Tim Hardin) - 2:38
7. Never My Love (Don Addrisi, Dick Addrisi) - 3:10
8. Happiness Is (Don Addrisi, Dick Addrisi) - 2:13
9. Sometime (Russ Giguere) - 2:38
10.Wantin' Ain't Gettin' (Mike Deasy) - 2:20
11.Requiem for the Masses (Terry Kirkman) - 4:06
Disc 4 - Birthday
1. Come On In (Jo Mapes) - 3:19
2. Rose Petals, Incense And A Kitten (Ric Mcclelland, Jim Yester) - 2:57
3. Like Always (Bob Alcivar, Tony Ortega, Larry Ramos) - 3:08
4. Everything That Touches You (Terry Kirkman) - 3:22
5. Toymaker (Jeff Comanor) - 3:30
6. Barefoot Gentleman (Skip Carmel, Jim Yester) - 3:27
7. Time For Livin' (Don Addrisi, Dick Addrisi) - 2:48
8. Hear In Here (Ted Bluechel) - 3:17
9. The Time It Is Today (Russ Giguere) - 2:19
10.The Bus Song (Terry Kirkman) - 3:34
11.Birthday Morning (Skip Carmel, Jim Yester) - 2:25
Disc 5 - The Association 1969
1. Look At Me, Look At You (Terry Kirkman) - 3:08
2. Yes, I Will (John Boylan) - 2:32
3. Love Affair  (Gary Alexander) - 4:07
4. The Nest (Ted Bluechel, Jr., Skip Carmel) - 3:25
5. What Were The Words (Jim Yester) - 2:28
6. Are You Ready (Larry Ramos, Jr., Tony Ortega) - 2:45
7. Dubuque Blues (Gary Alexander) - 3:17
8. Under Branches (Gary Alexander, Skip Carmel) - 4:24
9. I Am Up For Europe (Brian Cole, Gary Alexander) - 2:32
10. Broccoli (Russ Giguere) - 2:16
11. Goodbye Forever (Terry Kirkman, Gary Alexander, Rita Martinson) - 2:32
12. Boy On The Mountain (Terry Kirkman, Richard Thompson) - 4:20

The Association
*Russ Giguere - Vocals, Guitar
*Brian Cole - Vocals, Bass, Clarinet
*Terry Kirkman - Vocals, Brass, Woodwinds, Tambourine, Piano
*Jim Yester - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards, Harpsichord, Piano, Bells
*Gary Alexander - Vocals, Guitar
*Ted Bluechel Jr - Vocals, Drums, Percussion
*Larry Ramos, Jr. - Vocals, Bass, Guitar
*Jerry Scheff - Bass
*Hal Blaine - Drums
*Joe Osborn - Bass
*Mike Deasy - Guitar
*Larry Knechtel - Keyboards

1966  The Association - And Then...Along Comes (2013 Japan remaster)
1967 The Association - Insight Out (Xpanded)
1968  The Association - Birthday (2013 Japan remaster)
1969 The Association - The Association (Xpanded)  
1972 The Association - Waterbeds In Trinidad 

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Saturday, October 14, 2017

Leon Russell - Leon Russell And The Shelter People (1971 us, an assured piece of work, a driving dynamite rock package, 2016 Audio Fidelity)

Leon Russell's accolades are monumental in a number of categories, from songwriting (he wrote Joe Cocker's "Delta Lady") to session playing (with the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan, just to name a few) to his solo work. Unfortunately, it's the last category that never really attracted as much attention as it should have, despite a multitude of blues-based gospel recordings and piano-led, Southern-styled rock albums released throughout the 1970s. Leon Russell and the Shelter People is a prime example of Russell's instrumental dexterity and ability to produce some energetic rock & roll. Poignant and expressive tracks such as "Of Thee I Sing," "Home Sweet Oklahoma," and "She Smiles Like a River" all lay claim to Russell's soulful style and are clear-cut examples of the power that he musters through his spirited piano playing and his voice.

His Dylan covers are just as strong, especially "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" and "It Takes a Lot to Laugh," while "Love Minus Zero/No Limit" and "It's a Hard Rain Gonna Fall" have him sounding so forceful, they could have been Russell's own. A hearty, full-flavored gospel sound is amassed thanks to both the Shelter People and the Tulsa Tops, who back Russell up on most of the tracks, but it's Russell alone that makes "The Ballad of Mad Dogs and Englishmen" such an expressive piece and the highlight of the album. On the whole, Leon Russell and the Shelter People is an entertaining and more importantly, revealing exposition of Russell's music when he was in his prime. The album that followed, 1972's Carney, is an introspective piece which holds up a little better from a songwriting standpoint, but this album does a better job at bearing his proficiency as a well-rounded musician. 
by Mike DeGagne
1. Stranger In A Strange Land (Don Preston, Leon Russell) - 4:03
2. Of Thee I Sing (Leon Russell) - 4:27
3. A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall (Bob Dylan) - 5:10
4. Crystal Closet Queen (Leon Russell) - 2:59
5. Home Sweet Oklahoma (Leon Russell) - 3:27
6. Alcatraz (Leon Russell) - 3:52
7. The Ballad Of Mad Dogs And Englishmen (Leon Russell) - 4:03
8. It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry (Bob Dylan) - 4:02
9. She Smiles Like A River (Leon Russell) - 3:00
10.Sweet Emily (Leon Russell) - 3:22
11.Beware Of Darkness (George Harrison) - 4:40
12.It's All Over Now, Baby Blue (Bob Dylan) - 3:39
13.Love Minus Zero/No Limit (Bob Dylan) - 3:21
14.She Belongs To Me (Bob Dylan) - 3:28
Bonus Tracks 12-14

*Leon Russell - Vocals, Guitar, Piano, Organ
*Jesse Ed Davis - Guitar
*Claudia Lennear - Vocals
*Jim Price - Organ
*Jim Keltner - Drums
*Jim Gordon - Drums
*Barry Beckett - Organ
*Chuck Blackwell - Drums
*Joey Cooper - Guitar, Vocals
*John Gallie - Organ
*Roger Hawkins - Drums
*David Hood - Bass Guitar
*Jimmy Johnson - Guitar
*Kathi Mcdonald - Vocals
*Don Preston - Guitar, Vocals
*Carl Radle - Bass Guitar
*Chris Stainton - Guitar

1968  The Asylum Choir - Look Inside (2007 remaster)
1972  Leon Russell - Carney
1971  Leon Russell And Marc Benno - Asylum Choir II (japan SHM 2016 remaster) 
1979  In Session At The Paradise Los Angeles With J.J. Cale (2003 remaster) 

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Grannie - Grannie (1971 uk, great heavy psych prog rock, 2010 edition)

What became Grannie formed around guitarist Phil Newton in 1968/69 and was initially a cover band playing gigs around East London. Newton then began to write for the band and they began to master tracks like Leaving, Romany Refrain and Saga Of The Sad Jester in rehearsals. Around this time, Newton saw an advert in the Melody Maker for an all-inclusive deal at David Richardson’s SRT business that offered 8 hours of studio time, a master tape and 99 finished LPs for £100. A booking was made and the line-up that went into the studio some time in 1971 was Phil Newton (lead guitar/vocals), Dave ‘H’ Holland (bass/vocals), Fred Lilley (vocals), Johnny Clark (drums) and the futures Mrs. Newton, Jan Chandler (flute/vocals). 

There was also an appearance by John ‘Stevie’ Stevenson who played keyboards on one track Coloured Armageddon. the band began to play on the club circuit at venues like The Greyhound, The Marquee and even the Roundhouse although their journey ended when all of their gear - including one of the first mellotrons - was stolen

Feverishly sought-after by genre aficionados since its belated discovery in the early 1990s (Record Collector magazine included it in their list of the '100 Most Valuable Records of All Time.') One of the most valuable jewels of the early 1970s British progressive rock scene.'

'This is one of these mega-rare privately-pressed albums which originally only appeared in demo form with just 99 copies being available in a home-made paste-on sleeve. Later a few stock copies found their way into collector's hands. In its December 2004 edition 'Record Collector' valued this item at 850 pounds. The musical menu is guitar-dominated heavy progressive rock but with sufficient melody to make it worth a listen. It contains six cuts in all with Coloured Armageddon, the punchy Saga Of A Sad Jester and Leaving, which had some melodic guitar work, the pick of the bunch.' - Vernon Joynson/The Tapestry Of Delights

'The quality of this unknown outfit's sole album effort is clear. It's guitar-led soft rock, similar in style to Wishbone Ash's debut, with the bonus of a half-decent singer and an abscence of keyboards. One of the rarest albums of the period, and a very pleasant surprise.' 
by Giles Hamilton, Galactic Ramble
1. Leaving - 6:32
2. Romany Return - 4:07
3. Tomorrow Today - 7:08
4. Saga of The Sad Jester - 4:32
5. Dawn - 5:07
6. Coloured Armageddon - 9:25
All songs by Phil Newton

*Phil Newton - Guitar, Vocals
*John Clark - Drums
*John Stevenson - Keyboard
*Dave Holland - Bass, Vocals
*Fred Lilley - Vocals
*Jan Chandler - Flute, Vocals

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Eric Clapton - Eric Clapton (1970 uk, classic first solo album, japan SHM 2006 double disc set)

Well, to tell you the truth, Eric, we had begun to wonder. What with all the running around you've been doing of late, we'd begun to worry that you'd become just another studio musician, hobnobbing with the rich and famous. After all, overexposure to Leon Russell has been known to turn some people into wind-up tambourine-beating rocknroll dolls.

But no. Even though it's a "supersession," even though the personnel is liberally salted with old Delaney and Bonnie Friends, it comes off as a warm, friendly record of the kind that I haven't heard since the first Delaney and Bonnie album. Of the tunes, we have some good old tambourine beaters, one beautiful all-acoustic piece authored entirely by Clapton (most of the rest are by him and Delaney Bramlett, who produced), and a bunch of simply delightful D'n'B-styled gospel-type numbers, which, unlike a lot of the recent attempts in this genre, succeed because they build sensibly to a climax rather than indulging in the type of excess that spoiled Leon Russell's album, at least for me.

Clapton's voice is a revelation. He'd been scared to use it before because he thought it was terrible, but Delaney told him that his voice was a gift from God, and if he didn't use it, maybe God would take it away from him. Which, I thought, is maybe a nice way of saying "Well, maybe it ain't too hot, but you should sing along anyway." But Clapton's voice is just fine; rough and unfinished, maybe, but it adds to the rustic quality of the music.

"Bet you didn't think I knew how to rock and roll ..."   Sure I did, Eric. And you play a mean guitar, too.
by Ed Ward, September 3, 1970

Eric Clapton's eponymous solo debut was recorded after he completed a tour with Delaney and Bonnie. Clapton used the core of the duo's backing band and co-wrote the majority of the songs with Delaney Bramlett -- accordingly, Eric Clapton sounds more laid-back and straightforward than any of the guitarist's previous recordings. There are still elements of blues and rock 'n' roll, but they're hidden beneath layers of gospel, R'n'B, country, and pop flourishes. And the pop element of the record is the strongest of the album's many elements -- "Blues Power" isn't a blues song and only "Let It Rain," the album's closer, features extended solos.

Throughout the album, Clapton turns out concise solos that de-emphasize his status as guitar god, even when they display astonishing musicality and technique. That is both a good and a bad thing -- it's encouraging to hear him grow and become a more fully rounded musician, but too often the album needs the spark that some long guitar solos would have given it. In short, it needs a little more of Clapton's personality. 
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Disc 1
1. Slunky - 3:33
2. Bad Boy - 3:33
3. Lonesome And A Long Way From Home (Bonnie Bramlett, Leon Russell) - 3:29
4. After Midnight (J.J. Cale) - 2:51
5. Easy Now (Eric Clapton) - 2:57
6. Blues Power (Eric Clapton, Leon Russell) - 3:08
7. Bottle Of Red Wine - 3:06
8. Lovin' You Lovin' Me - 5:02
9. I've Told You For The Last Time (Bonnie Bramlett, Steve Cropper) - 3:06
10.Don't Know Why - 3:10
11.Let It Rain - 5:02
12.Blues In "A" (Eric Clapton) - 10:25
13.Teasin' (Bonnie Bramlett, Curtis Ousley) - 2:14
14.She Rides - 5:08
All songs by Bonnie Bramlett, Eric Clapton except where stated
Disc 2
1. Slunky - 3:33
2. Bad Boy - 3:41
3. Easy Now (Eric Clapton) - 2:57
4. After Midnight (J.J. Cale) - 3:17
5. Blues Power (Eric Clapton, Leon Russell) - 3:19
6. Bottle Of Red Wine - 3:06
7. Lovin' You Lovin' Me - 4:03
8. Lonesome And A Long Way From Home (Bonnie Bramlett, Leon Russell) - 3:48
9. Don't Know Why - 3:43
10.Let It Rain - 5:03
11.Don't Know Why - 5:12
12.I've Told You For The Last Time (Bonnie Bramlett, Steve Cropper) - 6:46
13.Comin' Home - 3:14
14.Groupie (Superstar) (Bonnie Bramlett, Leon Russell) - 2:48
All songs by Bonnie Bramlett, Eric Clapton except where noted

*Eric Clapton  - Guitar, Vocals
*J.I. Allison - Vocals
*Bonnie Bramlett  - Vocals
*Delaney Bramlett  -  Rhythm  Guitar, Vocals
*Rita Coolidge - Vocals
*Sonny Curtis -  Vocals
*Jim Gordon - Drums
*Bobby Keys - Saxophone
*Jim Price - Trumpet
*Carl Radle - Bass
*Leon Russell  - Piano
*John Simon - Piano
*Bobby Whitlock - Organ, Vocals

With The Yardbirds
1963-68  Glimpses (five disc box set, 2011 release) 
1964  Five Live Yardbirds (2007 Repertoire digi pack) 

With The Bluesbreakers
1966  John Mayall Bluesbreakers With Eric Clapton (SHM double disc set)  

With The Cream
1966  Fresh Cream (SHM remaster)
1967  Disraeli Gears (SHM remaster)
1969  Goodbye (2010 SHM remaster)
1967-68 Live Cream (2010 SHM remaster)
1972  Live Cream II (2010 SHM remaster)
1968  Wheels Of Fire (2014 japan SHM remaster) 

With Derek And The Dominos
1970  Layla (2013 platinum SHM edition) 

With Delaney, Bonnie And Friends
1969-72  D 'n' B Together (2003 extra tracks remaster) 

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Monday, October 9, 2017

Wishbone Ash - First Light (1970 uk, fascinating hard guitar blues rock with prog shades, 2007 release)

Wishbone Ash have been well served by Talking Elephant and First Light (TECD108) goes right back to the very dawn of the band.

Once thought lost, these demo recordings surfaced a few years ago at a Christies auction. Recorded in spring and summer 1970, the tracks were rejected at the time as too raw.

For fans and those who appreciate the art of twin-guitar, this is well worth having. It's classic seventies rock, and if a little tentative it does show the musical quality that was to captivate audiences a few years later. The early period is characterised by a folksy-bluesy approach that sometimes recalls Rory Gallagher.

'Roads Of Day To Day' is particularly impressive and a good vehicle for the guitar interplay of Andy Powell and Ted Turner, whilst the rhythm section of Steve Upton (drums) and Martin Turner (bass) excels throughout. This track, and 'Alone', demonstrates the band's enduring ability to pen a catchy tune, the latter ditty not dissimilar to their contemporaries (and early label-mates) Caravan.

'Blind Eye' is straight blues rock whilst the instrumentals 'Joshua' and 'Handy' have early seventies prog tendencies as well as freewheeling guitar figures. Five tracks were included on the band's debut album whilst 'Alone' appeared on 'Pilgrimage' in 1971. It's easy to see why this early bash attracted the interest of MCA and soon after Ash were on the ascendancy
by David Randall
1. Lady Whiskey - 3:08
2. Roads Of Day To Day - 5:48
3. Blind Eye - 3:32
4. Joshua - 2:11
5. Queen Of Torture - 3:06
6. Alone (With Vocals) - 3:06
7. Handy - 12:37
8. Errors Of My Way - 6:24
All songs by Andy Powell, Martin Turner, Ted Turner, Steve Upton

The Wishbone Ash
*Martin Turner - Bass, Vocals
*Andy Powell - Guitar, Vocals
*Ted Turner - Guitar, Vocals
*Steve Upton - Drums

1972-2001  Wishbone Ash - Tracks (2001 double disc release) 
1972  Wishbone Ash - Argus (2013 SHM remaster) 

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Sunday, October 8, 2017

Mogul Thrash - Mogul Thrash (1970 uk, stunning heavy prog jazz brass rock, 2011 extra tracks reissue)

Recorded in July 1970, but released in January 1971, this very energetic, inventive but still underrated LP was a brainchild of James Lithefiand - formerly vocalist & guitarist of Colosseum. Other important musicians in die band were trumpeter Michael Rosen (ex-Eclection) and die young bass p t ay er J oh n We 11 o n. 

This excellent album is very much in the style of the first two Colosseum records bid: a bit more faster; intensive, hard-rocking and brassier, but with no keyboards. It contains songs mostly dominated by heavy and sometimes furious guitar solos, groovy and tasteful brass improvisations, truly amazing bass parts and very solid drumming. In t he Summer of 1971 John Wetton got an invitation from Family and as a. result the band broke up.
1. Something Sad - 7:36
2. Elegy - 9:36
3. Dreams of Glass and Sand - 5:09
4. Going North, Going West - 12:01
5. St. Peter - 3:39
6. What's This I Hear - 7:13
7. Sleeping in the Kitchen - 2:45
8. St Peter - 3:41
9. Sleeping in the Kitchen - 3:38
10.St Peter - 3:09
11.I Can't Live Without You - 7:34
12.Fuzzbox - 3:36
13.Conscience - 5:48
Tracks 7-8 Uk mono single
Tracks 9-13 1971 BBC Sessions

Mogul Thrash
*James Litherland - Guitar, Vocal
*John Wetton - Bass, Guitar, Vocal
*Bill Harrison - Drums
*Malcolm Duncan - Tenor Saxophone
*Michael Rosen - Trumpet, Mellophone, Guitar
*Roger Ball - Alto, Baritone, Saprano Saxophones
Guest Musician
*Brian Auger - Piano (at St. Peter)

Related Act
1968  Eclection - Eclection (2011 remaster and expanded) 

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Friday, October 6, 2017

Eclection - Eclection (1968 uk, gorgeous folk rock with sunny psych tignes, 2011 remaster and expanded)

 The rare, sole, and self-titled album by Eclection was one of the finer overlooked folk-rock recordings of the 1960s, and perhaps the best relatively unknown British folk-rock LP of its time. The band had a great deal going for them: four strong singers, rich multi-part harmonies, strong original material by two composers, deftly textured mixes of electric and acoustic guitars, and tasteful orchestration that gracefully enhanced the soaring bittersweet melodies and male-female vocal blends. They were also one of the few British acts signed to Elektra Records, the hippest American independent label of the era.

None of this translated into high sales or wide renown. Eclection, so full of promise on this 1968 album, had split up by the end of 1969, never having issued another full-length release. The simple label of "British folk-rock band" applies to Eclection as much as any description could. Upon closer scrutiny, that term fails to capture the complexities of this enigmatic group. For this British band had but one actual British member, the rest of the group hailing from Norway, Australia, and Canada; for that matter, when one of the Australians left, she was replaced by an American.

The group are closely connected to the Fairport Convention family tree via the presence of two future members of the band, yet neither of them wrote material or took prominent lead vocal roles on the Eclection album. Despite the Fairport connection, the folk background of some of the members, and the obvious vocal and instrumental folk-rock elements, they didn't think of themselves as folk-rock.

Too, this British album, recorded in London by mostly non-British musicians, sounded more like a product of California than anything else, despite the absence of any Americans on the recording. Tying it all together was the unlikely figure of producer Ossie Byrne, most known for overseeing the first international hits of the Bee Gees. Byrne, of course, was not British either, hailing from Australia.

Eclection was an apt name for a group originating from such disparate regions. Georg Hultgreen, who wrote eight of the eleven songs on the album and handled twelve-string electric and acoustic guitars, was born in Norway. The son of Russian prince Paulo Tjegodiev Sakonski and Finnish sculptress Johanna Kajanus, he moved to Paris just before entering his teens. Shortly afterward he moved with his family to Quebec, where he learned English, and worked as a stained glass window designer before ending up in England. Michael Rosen, who wrote the remaining three songs on the LP and played trumpet in addition to six-string acoustic and electric guitars, came from Canada.

Singer Kerrilee Male, an Australian, had in the mid-1960s sung in Dave's Place Group; that outfit was featured on the Australian folk music television show Dave's Place, featuring ex-Kingston Trio guitarist Dave Guard, who had somehow ended up living in Sydney. Fellow Australian Trevor Lucas had the most on-record experience of any member of Eclection, having released a couple of rare folk albums, as well as contributing to the EP The Folk Attick Presents, singing backup vocals on British folk legend A.L. Lloyd's Leviathan, and appearing on the soundtrack to Far from the Madding Crowd.

Completing the unlikely quintet was their sole British member, drummer Gerry Conway, who was just leaving his teens. Conway had been playing in the group of musical giant Alexis Korner, whose band was famous for helping train numerous future British rock stars, including members of the Rolling Stones, Cream, and Led Zeppelin. If it seems like an unlikely transition from a blues-oriented ensemble such as Korner's to the pop-folk-rock of Eclection, it should be remembered that Korner's band had also given apprenticeships to Danny Thompson and Terry Cox, the rhythm section of one of the most successful British folk-rock groups, Pentangle.

After about a year of gigging with post-Kerrilee Male lineups, Eclection broke up in late 1969 (though Henderson did head a revamped version of the band in the 1970s). Lucas and Conway formed the rhythm section of Fotheringay, featuring Trevor's girlfriend (and, later, wife) Sandy Denny, who had just established herself as the finest British folk-rock singer as part of Fairport Convention. Fotheringay made a fine folk-rock album in 1970 before Denny left for a solo career.

Lucas and Denny would play together again in Fairport Convention in the mid-1970s, though Denny died tragically young in 1978, while Lucas passed away in 1989. Conway's long career took in stints in Jethro Tull and Pentangle, as well as recordings with John Cale, Sandy Denny, Joan Armatrading, the Everly Brothers, Cat Stevens, Richard Thompson, Al Stewart, and many others. He's now, in 2001, the drummer in Fairport Convention, an institution that's still going strong more than thirty years after their formation.

As for the others, Hultgreen, under the name Georg Kajanus, joined Sailor, who had a couple of Top Ten British singles in the mid-1970s. An accomplished artist as well as a musician, he is now, believes Conway, living in Paris. Rosen later played with obscure early-1970s progressive rockers Mogul Thrash, which also included future Family/King Crimson/Asia member John Wetton. Gerry last saw Michael in the early 1980s in Canada while touring with Richard Thompson, "and as far as I know, he was working in his uncle's steel mill." Conway's lost all contact with Kerrilee Male, whom he believes went back to Australia after quitting Eclection. "As it started as it finished, I suppose," he chuckles. "Everybody disappeared back to the four corners of the earth."
by Richie Unterberger
1. In Her Mind - 3:57
2. Nevertheless (M. Rosen) - 2:51
3. Violet Dew - 3:51
4. Will Tomorrow Be The Same - 3:13
5. Still I Can See - 4:18
6. In The Early Days - 3:39
7. Another Time Another Place - 4:26
8. Morning of Yesterday - 4:11
9. Betty Brown - 3:06
10.St. Georg And The Dragon (Up The Night) (M. Rosen) - 4:58
11.Confusion (M. Rosen) - 5:04
12.Mark Time (B-Side) - 2:51
13.Please (A-Side) - 2:51
14.Please (Mark II) (A-Side) - 2:56
15.Nevertheless (A-Side) - 2:50
16.In The Early Days (B-Side) - 3:37
17.St. Georg And The Dragon (B-Side)  (M. Rosen) - 4:58
18.Nevertheless (BBC Sessions) - 3:00
19.Will Tomorrow Be The Same (BBC Sessions) - 3:08
20.Violet Dew (BBC Sessions) - 3:22
21.Please (BBC Sessions) - 2:53
22.Morning Of Yesterday (BBC Sessions) - 4:10
All songs by Georg Hultgreen (Kajanus) except where indicated
Bonus Tracks 12-22

*Georg Hultgreen (Kajanus) - Vocals, Guitars
*Trevor Lucas - Bass , Vocals
*Gerry Conway - Drums, Vocals
*Kerrilee Male - Vocals
*Michael Rosen - Vocals, Guitars, Trumpet

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Thursday, October 5, 2017

Jack Traylor And Steelwind - Child Of Nature (1973 us, fine country folk rock with some psych traces, vinyl edition)

Jack Traylor was a Grateful Dead/Jefferson Airplane associate who contributed towards Kantner, Slick and Freiberg's Baron Von Tollbooth and the Chrome Nun, various members of the collective returning the favour by playing on his 1973 solo album, Child of Nature, credited to Jack Traylor and Steelwind.

Jack was the main songwriter and vocalist, and sticks to unvarnished acoustic rhythm guitar. The have a female vocalist, Diana Harris, who also happens to play some piano, a lead guitarist who mainly sticks to electric, a third guitar player, Skip Morairty, and a bassist.  Plus, longtime Airplane producer Al Schmitt produced their debut, Child of Nature.

Traylor's an okay singer/songwriter (the title track is catchy), the young Chaquito gets in some nice work, and has one extended solo which owes a lot more to flashy rock than folk ("Time to be Happy"). Besides Traylor and Chaquico, the other members of Steelwind dropped off the face of the planet.  The drummer is Malo member Rick Quintanal, and Freiberg plays faint mellotron on one track.  "Caveat Emptor".
1. Child Of Nature - 3:48
2. Birds And Beasts And Bumblebees - 3:32
3. I've Got You - 3:14
4. Smile - 4:14
5. Time To Be Happy (Gerald D. Moriarty) - 4:30
6. Come On, Children - 3:50
7. Fifteen Years After - 4:17
8. Gone To Canada - 4:31
9. Caveat Emptor (Craig Chaquico) - 5:12
All songs written by Jack Traylor except where noted

*Jack Traylor - Guitar, Vocals
*Craig Chaquico - Guitar, Mandolin
*Danny Virdier - Bass, Vocals
*Skip Moriarty - Guitar, Flute, Vocals
*Diane Harris - Piano, Vocals
*David Freiberg - Keyboards
*Bill Laudner - Vocals
*Kent Middleton - Harmonica, Percussion
*Rick Quintanal - Drums

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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Whistler Chaucer Detroit And Greenhill - The Unwritten Works Of Geoffrey, Etc. (1968 us, astonishing folk psych rock)

Whistler, Chaucer, Detroit and Greenhill's only album was a minor but decent late-'60s folk-rock-psychedelic record, at times (but not always) reflecting the influence of California groups of the period like Buffalo Springfield. Certainly a few of the tracks, especially "The Viper (What John Rance Had to Tell)" (written by a young T-Bone Burnett, who produced) and "House of Collection" sound much like the folkier things Neil Young was writing and singing in the Springfield's later days and his early solo career.

They're also competent at integrating both psychedelia ("Days of Childhood") and country-rock ("Just Me and Her") into that Springfield-esque palate, though at times the songs aren't particularly rootsy. "Upon Waking from the Nap," for instance, goes for a more baroque orchestrated mood, and Burnett's "Street in Paris" seems like an attempt to craft an eccentric throwback to '30s European cabaret. There's an understated mood to the record that makes it a cut above many similarly derivative albums of the time, as it doesn't seem to be straining as hard to ride the trends of the day as if they're cloaks to be worn for the duration of the recording sessions. 
by Richie Unterberger
1. The Viper (What John Rance Had To Tell) (Joseph Burnett) - 2:24
2. Day Of Childhood (Edd Lively, Scott Fraser) - 3:01
3. Upon Waking From The Nap (David Bullock) - 1:59
4. Live Til' I Die (David Bullock) - 3:11
5. Street In Paris (Joseph Burnett) - 2:58
6. As Pure As The Freshly Driven Snow (Joseph Burnett) - 1:38
7. Tribute To Sundance (David Bullock) - 2:55
8. House Of Collection (Edd Lively, Scott Fraser) - 1:43
9. Just Me And Her (Edd Lively, Scott Fraser) - 2:23
10.On Lusty Gentleman (Joseph Burnett) - 2:40
11.Ready To Move (David Bullock) - 3:18

Whistler Chaucer Detroit And Greenhill
*John Carrick - Guitar, Vocals
*Scott Fraser - Bass, Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
*Eddie K Lively - Guitar, Vocals
*Philip White - Bass, Keyboards, Vocals

Related Act
1970-78  Space Opera - Safe At Home (2010 Issue) 
1972  Space Opera - Space Opera (2014 korean remaster) 

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Monday, October 2, 2017

Quicksilver Messenger Service - Happy Trails (1969 us, west coast psych masterpiece, 2012 Audiophile remaster)

QMS formed in late 1965 and continued through several lineup changes until late 1967 when they settled into to what would be their most creative lineup of John Cipollina (guitar), Gary Duncan (guitar), David Freiberg (bass, vocals) and Greg Elmore (drums). They put off signing with a label for years to avoid the pressures of touring and consequently getting rushed by record companies into making albums not up to their own standards (a fate they witnessed befall several contemporary San Franciscan groups.). 

Living on a ranch north of San Francisco in high style with their ladies, grass, guns and living out their space cowboy trips, QMS also benefited greatly from an abundance of local gigs they picked up in the absence of The Airplane or The Dead, whose unavailability was due to national tours and out of town engagements. And it was through this constant stream of live performances that afforded them the opportunity to tighten up every loose end in their repertoire while stretching out musically and evolving their sound beyond any reasonable set of expectations.

Comprised of four Virgos, their group name was as astrologically correct as it was perfect in describing their music’s characteristics. Chosen for its associations with Mercury (the ruling planet of Virgo and communication) as well as the double entendre for ‘quicksilver’ (the element, mercury) whose dual properties were simultaneously both liquid and metal, it was an appropriate description of the band’s own dual-guitar undulations.

A key influence on QMS (along with countless others) at this time was Bo Diddley, whose amplified cigar box and ever-shifting shuffle beat lent itself easily to interpretations of extended electric guitar-based improvisations with its simplicity, buoyant consistency and hard, sawn-off jagged primitivism that allowed itself to be employed as if it were some new aural material which was highly conductive to electricity and malleable enough to stretch out into spaced-out plasticity. And in the hands, heads and hearts of QMS, two of his numbers would turn into sprawling epics. A cover of his “Who Do You Love” (credited on the original album as “Who Do You Love Suite” and comprised of six separate ‘movements’) spanned the entire first side of “Happy Trails.” The entire album was recorded live at The Fillmore East and West in 1968, and the sparks just flew all over the place.

Cipollina and Duncan exchange solo and rhythm duties on “Happy Trails” so effortlessly that despite the production’s extreme stereo separation (Duncan on the left channel, Cipollina on the right) it’s never anything but a seamless series of intuitively placed fits of opposing forces with an undying attraction to each other. At times Duncan’s rhythm is a fat, toned-down punk buzzsaw working as a wash against Cipollina’s agile counterpointing and sometimes Cipollina’s solos are the smallest of strategic rhythmic strokes while Duncan’s rhythm playing at times appears more like solos rendered in shorthand. These free-flowing qualities were accented with carefully controlled, soaring feedback and stinging arpeggios of the purest tones. 

These numerous and spectacular displays of twin guitar exchanges are supported by the impeccably synchronised rhythm section composed of David Freiberg on bass (and accompanying brusque vocals) and the perfectly restrained drumming of Greg Elmore. This backing was uncluttered and tough enough to allow the group’s paces to ebb or flow at a single moment’s notice: as gracefully evident in the manner in which “Who Do You Love” constantly shifts, unfolds and turns into passages both reflective and active. By the time they reach the middle passage (subtitled “Where You Love”) they’ve brought it all the way down to so the guitars are now more a cross-stitching of muted, across the bridge picking approximating the tinkling of mechanical chimes. Volume control knobs on guitars are tweaked to neatly stagger the otherwise feedbacking sound signals into blocks of zapping noise. 

A wafting current of slight feedback tilts into the near-quietude as the appreciative Fillmore audience starts clapping along in time with the bass drum, and soon it’s all panning from speaker to speaker: yelps and cries from the stage and audience until what was once Bo Diddley has now been reduced to the simplest elements of communal grooving and joy and the group are in no hurry to fall back into the song until the last grunt, handclap and cry has been squeezed out. But they do when Cipollina tears a single, screaming note outta his SG with a twist of Bigsby whammy bar to signal the lurch into the breakneck pace of “How You Love”: a showcase of his quickly incisive and multi-directional arpeggio’d notes that scatter and flee to all four corners of the Fillmore but always regroup back into the ever-ascending main riff. After they cool off during Freiberg’s bass solo spot, they’re quietly circling back over “Who Do You Love” proper. All is simmering until they finally decide to go for broke one final time. Before they hit a final cluster of building crescendos, Freiberg and at least two other members have been vocally going for it by yelling bits of the lyrics over the tumult of guitar riffs and Elmore’s now constant swish of cymbals. But after a series of short solos and heat-generating noise and whining feedback, it elegantly drops roars of applause.

The announcement “This here next one’s rock’n’roll” begins side two with the other Bo Diddley interpretation, “Mona.” Thudding tom-toms and Freiberg’s throb/pulse bass line propels the track as ringing feedback trails off from Cipollina’s amp and juxtaposed against Duncan’s rhythm riffing grind-outs. Eventually dropping down in volume so that an amp hissing like a street sweeper in the distance is audible, Cipollina switches to wah-wah and adjusts his loose guitar cord and the energy is crackling just as sharply. The tom-tom heavy main refrain returns and the band jumps in, only to see things halt and head immediately into “Maiden Of The Cancer Moon.” 

The two solos that erupt on this track are nothing short of volcanic and although this was a Duncan composition, it appears that the solos are pure Cipollina in full flight/total heat complete with hallmark whammy bar, distortion and howling feedback. It continually returns to a shaded riverbank at dusk where cool respite is found -- but the calm is soon interrupted by an irritable scratching guitar pick run up against the grain and full length of a guitar neck with accompanying swooping, sonorous feedback. There’s a final low throttling of guitar that’s about the nastiest sound on the entire album, falling into the quiet whistling down the desert winds of the live in the studio instrumental, “Calvary.” 

For years I always misinterpreted it as “Cavalry” because its near-Morricone spaghetti western instrumental feel creates instant vistas of adobe villages, Spanish tiled rooftops and horse charges under the burning desert sun (But a cry of “Call it anything you want!” towards the end was probably an auto-suggestive incentive.) But the scope and depth of its impressionism of “Calvary” does intimate a musical interpretation of SOME vast human struggle in the desert. This epic sweeps across the deserts as much as the howling winds and droning dust/freakstorms of dark conflict that build and rage throughout with ever-reoccurring dark squalling of feedback as vibrato’d, piercing feedback like teams of whinnying, ghostly steeds. Some eons later, the dense clouds finally subsist and dissipate and guitar playing from an indefinite past age emerges as gentle scratchings of acoustic guitar, wood and flints are picked up from the scattered debris, before the final gusts blow it all away...

The lazy western campfire of “Happy Trails” ends the album on a heartwarming note as clip-clop percussion, piano and drawling vocals from Greg Elmore bids the listener farewell. Whistling takes us down the dusty trail, as jingling spurs head into the distance of a brightly setting sun on the plains, closing a unique album that was like no other. 
by The Seth Man, May 2002
1. Who Do You Love - Part 1 (Ellis McDaniel) - 3:32
2. When You Love (Gary Duncan) - 5:15
3. Where You Love (Quicksilver Messenger Service, Fillmore Audience) - 6:07
4. How You Love (John Cipollina) - 2:45
5. Which Do You Love (David Freiberg) - 4:38
6. Who Do You Love - Part 2 (Ellis McDaniel) - 3:05
7. Mona (Ellis McDaniel) - 7:01
8. Maiden of the Cancer Moon (Gary Duncan) - 2:54
9. Calvary (Gary Duncan) - 13:31
10.Happy Trails (Dale Evans) - 1:29

*John Cipollina - Guitar, Vocals
*Gary Duncan - Guitar, Vocals
*Greg Elmore - Drums
*David Freiberg - Bass, Vocals

1967-68  Quicksilver Messenger Service - Lost Gold And Silver (double disc issue)
1968  Quicksilver Messenger Service (2005 japan, 2012 audiophile mini LP replica)
1969  Quicksilver Messenger Service - Shady Grove (2012 Audiophile remaster)
1969  Quicksilver Messenger Service - Castles In The Sand
1970  Q. M. S. - Just For Love  (2005 japan, 2012 audiophile mini Lp replica)  
1970  Q. M. S. - What About Me (2005 japan, 2012 audiophile mini LP replica)
1971  Quicksilver Messenger Service - Quicksliver (2012 Audiophile Vinyl replica)
1972  Quicksilver Messenger Service - Comin` Thru (2012 Audiopfile mini LP replica)  
1975  Quicksilver Messenger Service - Solid Silver
Related Acts
1973  Copperhead - Copperhead (2001 reissue)

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Sunday, October 1, 2017

Atlantis Philharmonic - Atlantis Philharmonic (1974 us, spectacular heavy prog rock, 2016 SHM remaster and expanded)

While in high school Joe DiFazio began taking classical music lessons. Graduating high school he applied to and was accepted to Ohio's Baldwin-Wallace College's music program. College opened up the door to the world of rock and roll and just two semesters short of graduating, DiFazio quit school in order to play keyboards for a Canadian Beatles cover band. 

Interested in finding a way to meld rock with his earlier affection for classical music, in 1974 DiFazio decided to strike out on his own. Recruiting percussionist Royce Gibson, the pair began writing and recording material. Unable to interest a major label in their efforts, the pair eventually released the DiFazio and Perry Johnson produced "The Atlantis Philharmonic" on their own Dharma label.

Taken as a package, it makes for a fairly impressive debut. Even more so when you consider it was recorded independently and with minimal financial resources. Following the album's release DiFazio and Gibson toured the Midwest extensively, though plans to record a pair of follow-on albums never saw fruition. 

By the early-'80s DiFazio had largely dropped out of music. Increasingly interested in computer technology and musical applications he went back to college, obtaining bachelor and masters degrees in computer technology from Indiana State University, though he also found time to complete his music degree. DiFazio is currently a professor of new media and computer technology at Indiana State University.
1. Atlantis (Joe DiFazio) - 5:16
2. Woodsmen (Gerald Willcox, Joe DiFazio) - 7:40
3. Death Man (Joe DiFazio) - 5:29
4. Fly the Light (Joe DiFazio) - 4:39
5. My Friend (Joe DiFazio) - 4:03
6. Atlas (Gerald Willcox, Joe DiFazio) - 8:23
7. Terra Re Natus Overture (Live) - 4:42
8. Death Man (Live) (Joe DiFazio) - 5:56
9. Atlas (Live) (Gerald Willcox, Joe DiFazio) - 9:24
10.In The Hall Of The Mountain (Live) - 3:09
Bonus Tracks 7-10

Atlantis Philharmonic
*Joe Difazio - Vocals, Keyboards, Bass, Piano, Harpsichord, Mellotron, Moog, Synthesizer, Guitar
*Royce Gibson - Timpani, Bass Drum, Gong, Ratchet, Snare, Vocals

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Jackson Browne - Late For The Sky (1974 us, sensitive skillfully melodious rock ballads, 2014 remaster)

Late for the Sky, Jackson Browne's third Asylum album, is his most mature, conceptually unified work to date. Its overriding theme: the exploration of romantic possibility in the shadow of the apocalypse. No contemporary male singer/songwriter has dealt so honestly and deeply with the vulnerability of romantic idealism and the pain of adjustment from youthful narcissism to adult survival. Late for the Sky is the autobiography of his young manhood.

The album's eight loosely constructed narratives rely for much of their impact upon stunning sections of aphoristic verse, whose central images, the antinomies of water and sand, reality and dreams, sky and road, inextricably connect them. Browne's melodic style, though limited, serves his ideas brilliantly. He generally avoids the plaintive harmonies of southern California rock ballads for a starker, more eloquent musical diction derived from Protestant hymns. Likewise his open-ended poetry achieves power from the nearly religious intensity that accumulates around the central motifs; its fervor is underscored by the sparest and hardest production to be found on any Browne album yet (Late for the Sky was produced by Browne with Al Schmitt), as well as by his impassioned, oracular singing style. 

On side one, Browne tells bluntly about his personal conflict between fantasy and reality in erotic relationships, struggling with his quest for idyllic bliss. The title cut explores an affair at its nadir ("Looking hard into your eyes/There was nobody I'd ever known"), concluding with an image of the sky, the album's symbol for escape, salvation and death. "Fountain Of Sorrow" develops parallel themes of sex and nothingness, fantasy and realism, as Browne, looking at the photograph of a former lover, recalls: "When you see through love's illusion, their lies the danger/And your perfect lover just looks like a perfect fool/So you go running off in search of a perfect stranger." In the chorus, highly romanticized sexuality becomes a "fountain of sorrow, fountain of light." Later in the album the water images are developed into a larger metaphor for death and rebirth.

"Farther On" and "The Late Show" complete the first part of the song cycle. Locating the sources of Browne's exacerbated romaticism "in books and films and song," "a world of illulsion and fantasy," "Farther On" defines Browne's quest as a "citadel" in "a vision of paradise." Its desolate conclusion finds Browne alone and older, "with my maps and my faith in the distance, moving farther on." By "The Late Show," Browne is so absorbed in despair that if he "stumbled on someone real" he'd "never know." Midway in the song, however, he meets a lover and in an impulsive gesture they drive away from the past in the "early model Chevrolet" pictured on the album cover.

The second side of the album describes the precariousness of the journey, as Browne's sense of personal tragedy metamorphoses into a larger social apprehension. "The Road and the Sky," a jaunty rock song, reintroduces the water motif. "For A Dancer," which follows, is one of the album's two masterpieces, a meditation on death that harks back to "Song For Adam" on Browne's first album. But "For A Dancer" is not a lament; it calls for joyful procreation to combat metaphysical terror. Browne's graceful lyric, as fine as any he's written, finds its counterpart in music, an ethereal tango in which David Lindley's fiddle dances against Browne's vocal. A crisp little rock song, "Walking Slow," celebrates Browne's newfound domestic stability. "Before The Deluge," the album's summary cut, brings together in a comprehensive social context the themes of the rest of the album. The verses are linked by a moving secular prayer for music, shelter and spiritual sustenance: "Let creation reveal its secrets by and by/When the light that's lost within us reaches the sky." This chorus's final statement follows a verse so imagistically potent as to suggest literal prophecy
by Stephen Holden, Rolling Stone, 11-7-74
1. Late For The Sky - 5:42
2. Fountain Of Sorrow - 6:52
3. Farther On - 5:21
4. The Late Show - 5:14
5. The Road And The Sky - 3:08
6. For A Dancer - 4:46
7. Walking Slow - 3:55
8. Before The Deluge - 6:27
Lyrics and Music by Jackson Browne

*Jackson Browne - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Piano, Slide Guitar
*David Campbell - String Arrangement
*Joyce Everson - Harmony Vocals
*Beth Fitchet - Harmony Vocals
*Dan Fogelberg - Harmony Vocals
*Doug Haywood - Bass, Harmony Vocals
*Don Henley - Harmony Vocals
*David Lindley - Electric Guitar, Lap Steel Guitar, Fiddle; Harmony Vocals
*Terry Reid - Harmony Vocals
*Fritz Richmond - Jug
*J. D. Souther - Harmony Vocals
*Jai Winding - Piano, Organ
*Larry Zack - Drums, Percussion
*H. Driver, Henry Thome, Michael Condello - Handclaps

1972  Jackson Browne - Saturate Before Using 

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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Graham Nash - Songs For Beginners (1971 uk, marvelous folk country soft rock, 2008 digipak remaster)

Songs for Beginners is Graham Nash's solo debut apart from Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Released in 1971, it is a collection of songs that reflect change, transition, and starting over. The set was recorded in both Los Angeles and San Francisco, in the immediate aftermath of Nash's traumatic breakup with Joni Mitchell. Unlike the colorful dynamism of Stephen Stills' eponymous debut recording, or the acid-drenched cosmic cowboy spaciness of David Crosby's If I Could Only Remember My Name, Nash's album is by contrast a much more humble and direct offering. 

It is a true, mostly introspective songwriter's album full of beautifully performed and wonderfully recorded songs that reflect transition, movement, the desire to look backward and forward simultaneously. Like the aforementioned offering, this one is star-studded in its choice of players and singers: Crosby, Chris Ethridge, Jerry Garcia, Rita Coolidge, Clydie King, Venetta Fields, Dave Mason, Neil Young (under the pseudonym "Joe Yankee"), David Lindley, Bobby Keys, Phil Lesh, Dallas Taylor, and drummer John Barbata reflect some of the personnel on this heady yet humble session. The album is bookended by two of Nash's best-known tunes, the anthemic "Military Madness" that remains timeless in the 21st century, and "Chicago," that doesn't. That said, they are among the weakest songs here -- which reveals what a solid collection it is.

Unlike many recordings birthed from personal angst, Nash's engages in no self pity; instead, he focuses on the craft of songwriting itself. Despite its personal darkness, "Better Days," with its swirling piano and pronounced bassline, is also an actual paean to self-determination and perseverance, the logic being that there were better days in the past, so there must be better ones in the future as well. "I Used to Be a King," with Garcia on a gorgeous pedal steel and Lesh on bass, is a direct, mature response to "King Midas in Reverse," a song Nash wrote and recorded with the Hollies. "Simple Man," with its sparse melody and strings and a fine backing vocal from Coolidge, was written on the afternoon of the breakup with Mitchell. 

The violin-cello backdrop to Nash's piano is particularly effective and makes this one of his most memorable songs. The parlor room country waltz that commences "Man in the Mirror," features Garcia's steel, Young's piano, ex-Flying Burrito Brother Ethridge, and drummer Barbata; it shifts keys, tempo, and feel about a third of the way in with a very long bridge that transforms the song's sentiment as well. Ultimately, Songs for Beginners is the strongest of Nash's solo efforts (outside of his work with Crosby). 
by Thom Jurek
1. Military Madness - 2:50
2. Better Days - 3:47
3. Wounded Bird - 2:09
4. I Used To Be A King - 4:45
5. Be Yourself (Graham Nash, Terry Reid) - 3:03
6. Simple Man - 2:05
7. Man In The Mirror - 2:48
8. There's Only One - 3:55
9. Sleep Song - 2:57
10.Chicago - 2:55
11.We Can Change The World - 1:00
Words and Music by Graham Nash except where notes

*Graham Nash - Vocals, Guitar, Piano, Organ, Tambourine
*Rita Coolidge - Piano, Electric
*Jerry Garcia - Pedal Steel Guitar
*Joe Yankee - Piano
*Dorian Rudnytsky - Cello
*Dave Mason - Electric Guitar
*David Crosby - Electric Guitar
*Joel Bernstein - Piano On
*Bobby Keys - Saxophone
*David Lindley - Fiddle
*Sermon Posthumas - Bass Clarinet
*Chris Ethridge - Bass
*Calvin "Fuzzy" Samuels - Bass
*Phil Lesh - Bass
*Johnny Barbata - Drums, Tambourine
*Dallas Taylor - Drums
*P.P. Arnold - Backing Vocals
*Venetta Fields, Sherlie Matthews, Clydie King, Dorothy Morrison - Backing Vocals

1973  Graham Nash - Wild Tales
1974  Crosby Stills Nash And Young - Live (2013 four discs box set)

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