Tuesday, October 31, 2017

It's A Beautiful Day - It's A Beautiful Day / Marrying Maiden (1969-70 us, gorgeous psych folk prog rock)



It's a Beautiful Day were no less memorable for their unique progressive rock style that contrasted well with the Bay Area psychedelic scene. Led by David LaFlamme (flute/violin/vocals) and his wife, Linda LaFlamme (keyboards), the six-piece unit on this album vacillates between light and ethereal pieces such as the lead-off cut, "White Bird," to the heavier, prog rock-influenced "Bombay Calling." One of the most distinct characteristics of It's a Beautiful Day is their instrumentation. The prominence of David LaFlamme -- former violin soloist with the Utah Symphony and original member of Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks -- adds a refinement to It's a Beautiful Day's sound. Likewise, the intricate melodies -- mostly composed by the LaFlammes -- are structured around the band's immense virtuosity, a prime example being the exquisitely haunting harpsichord-driven "Girl With No Eyes." The noir framework, as well as lyrics such as "...she's just a reflection of all of the time I've been high," point rather candidly to the hallucinogenic nature of the song's -- if not the band's -- influences. 

The same can be said of the languidly eerie "Bulgaria." The almost chant-like quality of the track slowly crescendos into an hypnotic and dreamlike sonic journey -- led by LaFlamme's brilliant violin work. By virtue of being a Bay Area fixture in the late '60s, It's a Beautiful Day could also easily double as a hippie dance band -- which they can also execute with great aplomb -- as the wildly up-tempo "Time Is" amply proves. It's a Beautiful Day remains as a timepiece and evidence of how sophisticated rock & roll had become in the fertile environs of the San Francisco music scene. 

The second long-player from It's a Beautiful Day is an exceedingly more pastoral effort than the band's self-titled debut. As many of the Bay Area groups -- most notably the Grateful Dead with Workingman's Dead and American Beauty -- had begun to do, the band realigns its sound from the dark psychedelia and proto-prog of its earlier works and into a lighter and earthier country-flavored rock. Marrying Maiden does, however, continue highlighting both the sextet's stellar instrumental proficiencies as well as vocals -- featuring the entire band -- throughout. "Don and Dewey," the album's opener, is a hot-steppin' spotlight for David LaFlamme's classically trained violin work. Presumably, the tune is an ode to the late-'50s/early-'60s R&B duo of the same name. The track has distinct hints of the concurrent contributions that LaFlamme had been making in an incipient incarnation of Dan Hick & His Hot Licks. It likewise sets the tenor for the remainder of the disc's down-home feel.

The cover of folkie Fred Neil's "The Dolphins" is notable for Fred Webb's honky tonk piano fills and LaFlamme's vocals, recalling some of the earliest New Riders of the Purple Sage sides. One of the more solidly unifying factors linking the NRPS and It's a Beautiful Day is the guest appearance by Jerry Garcia, who is featured on two numbers. As he had done on Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's "Teach Your Children," Garcia lends a few distinct pedal steel guitar riffs to the perky "It Comes Right Down to You." The track also features former Charlatan Richard Olsen on, of all things, clarinet. Another sign of the times is the pickin' and grinnin' on the appropriately titled "Hoedown" -- on which Garcia adds some fiery banjo fretwork. 
by Lindsay Planer
Tracks
It's A Beautiful Day 1969
1. White Bird (David Laflamme, Linda Laflamme) - 6:06
2. A Hot Summer Day (David Laflamme, Linda Laflamme) - 5:46
3. Wasted Union Blues - 4:00
4. Girl With No Eyes (David Laflamme, Linda Laflamme) - 3:49
5. Bombay Calling (David Laflamme, Vince Wallace) - 4:25
6. Bulgaria - 6:10
7. Time Is - 9:42
Marrying Maiden 1970
8. Don And Dewey - 5:10
9. The Dolphins (Fred Neil) - 4:25
10.Essence Of Now (Mitchell Holman) - 3:15
11.Hoedown - 2:25
12.Soapstone Mountain - 4:15
13.Waiting For The Sun (Hal Wagenet) - 1:15
14.Let A Woman Flow (David LaFlamme, Pattie Santos) - 4:25
15.It Comes Right Down To You (Fred Webb, Robert Lewis) - 3:10
16.Good Lovin' (Fred Webb, Mitchell Holman) - 4:55
17.Galileo (Hal Wagenet) - 3:00
18.Do You Remember The Sun? (Fred Webb, Robert Lewis) - 3:05
All songs by David LaFlamme except where indicated.

It's A Beautiful Day
*Pattie Santos - Percussion, Vocals
*Val Fuentes - Drums, Vocals
*Fred Webb - French Horn, Keyboards, Vocals
*David Laflamme - Flute, Violin, Guitar, Vocals
*Mitchell Holman - Bass, Harmonica, Vocals
*Hal Wagenet - Guitar, Vocals
Guests
*Bruce Steinberg - Harmonica (Track 2)
*Avenue Theatre - Organ (Track 12)
*Richard Olsen - Clarinet (Tracks 8-18)
*Jerry Garcia - Banjo, Pedal Steel (Tracks 8-18)

1968  It's A Beautiful Day - Live At The Fillmore (2013 release)
1971  It's A Beautiful Day - Creed Of Love

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Monday, October 30, 2017

It's A Beautiful Day - Live At The Fillmore (1968 us, outstanding psych prog rock, 2013 release)



When looking back at all the San Francisco bands who toiled the psychedelic scene of the late '60s/early '70s, It's a Beautiful Day seems to have taken a backseat to other more popular acts like the Grateful Dead, Santana, and Jefferson Airplane. Listening to their music here in 2013, it's kind of hard to imagine why this band didn't achieve superstar status. Led by the powerful vocals & soaring electric violin of David LaFlamme, It's a Beautiful Day combined pop, psychedelia, jazz, prog, folk, rock, and classical into a unique sound that peaked with their hit single "White Bird" in 1969, but by 1974 the band had all but split up, reforming in various incarnations from time to time before fully reuniting in 2000 with LaFlamme, his current wife Linda Baker LaFlamme, original drummer Val Fuentes, Gary Thomas on keyboards, guitarist Rob Espinosa, bassist Toby Gray, and percussionist Michael Prichard.

This particular concert was recorded at the famous Fillmore West in San Francisco in 1968, and captured them at the peak of their powers. Along with LaFlamme & Fuentes were vocalist Patti Santos, Linda Neska LaFlamme on keyboards (David's first wife...apparently he likes the name Linda), and bassist Mitchell Holman. As there was no guitar player in the band at this time, their music is rich with the dual female/male vocal attack, LaFlamme's energetic violin, and Linda's insistent organ textures. Psychedelic pop tracks like "Love For You" and "White Bird" contain some really great melodies and vocal harmonies, but here in the live setting all these songs are pushed to epic length and feature some spectacular violin & organ passages.

"Wasted Union Blues" is like a meeting of Vanilla Fudge and Jefferson Airplane, while "Bombay Calling" is a moody anti-war piece whose main musical theme was borrowed by Deep Purple for their legendary song "Child in Time" which appeared on their In Rock album less than 2 years later. The epic, near 10-minute "Time Is" is littered with sizzling guitar & organ lines, a real treat for all the prog lovers in the house, and has a bass lick like the classic Animals track "We Gotta Get Out of This Place". Other highlights include the mysterious, gypsy/blues of "Changes" and the atmospheric rocker "Hot Summer Day", another song with addicting organ from Linda and soaring vocal interplay between David and Patti.

The sound quality on this vintage concert is quite good, and the informative DVD documentary contains plenty of interview segments with David LaFlamme & Fuentes, as well as some notable journalists, who talk about the history of the band and the San Francisco music scene back at the end of the '60s. Filled with some vintage live clips as well as more recent footage of the band, it's a nice little companion piece to the live CD. It's a shame that the booklet is somewhat bare bones other than two short essays and three photos, but overall this is a nice package documenting a fascinating band who never got the attention they deserved. 
by Pete Pardo
Tracks
1. Love For You. 6:44
2. Bulgaria (With Love For You Reprise). 6:51
3. White Bird. 8:02
4. Wasted Union Blues. 10:28
5. Time Is. 9:30
6. Countryside (David LaFlamme, Linda LaFlamme) - 5:19
7. Bombay Calling. 7:38
8. Changes. 8:26
9. Girl With No Eyes. 5:40
10.Hot Summer Day. 11:03
All songs written by David LaFlamme except where noted.

It's A Beautiful Day
*David LaFlamme - Violin, Vocals
*Linda Neska LaFlamme - Keyboards
*Patti Santos - Vocals, Percussion
*Mitchell Holman - Bass
*Val Fuentes - Drums

1971  It's A Beautiful Day - Creed Of Love

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Saturday, October 28, 2017

Groundshaker - Groundshaker (1971-72 us, fine rough hard rock)



Groundshaker was an American hard rock band from the early 1970s. They played many times in the cafe "The Continental Hyatt House" and in some other places of Hollywood. One of their managers was Charlie Green from the management company Brian Stone & Charlie Green, which represented some well-known collectives of the 60's as Iron Butterfly, Sonny ‘n’ Cher and Buffalo Springfield. 

They had many offers from record labels, but they drop them down, and ofcourse without any contract the group disbanded in 1973. More than three decades later,  Morgana Welch and Terry C. Corbett produced their only self-titled album, collecting records from old tapes. 

This never before released hard ‘n’ heavy psych opus, contains eight long tracks (plus three bonus alternate versions) with a frenzied attacking guitar and jams, a powerful loud vocals, and heavy rhythm section.
Tracks
1. On My Way (Dave Pike) - 3:30
2. World That's Tight (John Sanchez) - 4:58
3. Things (John Sanchez, Ron Barron) - 4:21
4. Leavin' (Traditional) - 3:52
5. Got Those Blues (Skip Gillette, Dave Pike, Steve Schweizer) - 3:59
6. Fly (John Sanchez) - 3:16
7. Abaseal (John Sanchez, Skip Gillette, John Sanchez, Ron Barron) - 6:02
8. Hearts And Flowers (Skip Gillette, John Sanchez, Ron Barron) - 5:50
9. Hearts And Flowers (Slight Different Mix) (Skip Gillette, John Sanchez, Ron Barron) - 5:51
10.Abaseal (Slight Different Mix 1) (John Sanchez, Skip Gillette, John Sanchez, Ron Barron) - 6:02
11.Abaseal (Slight Different Mix 2) (John Sanchez, Skip Gillette, John Sanchez, Ron Barron) - 5:58

The Groundshaker
*Skip Gillette - Drums
*Steve Schweizer - Bass
*John Sanchez - Guitar
*Ron Barron - Vocals

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Friday, October 27, 2017

Ford Theatre - Time Changes (1969 us, spectacular bosstown acid psych, 2011 remaster)



The origins of Ford Theatre lie in a popular Boston-based group called Joyful Noise, which played the college circuit. The four members of the band were James Altieri (bass), Arthur Webster (guitar), Robert Tamagni (drums) and John Mazzarelli (keyboards, vocals). All of them were childhood friends from Milford, Massachusetts. The group attracted the attention of New Yorker Harry Palmer who first came across the band when attending college in Boston. Palmer was a composer by nature and was looking for that band that could play the musical ideas he had, and on his return to Boston, a few years later, contacted Joyful Noise to do just that. The link between the band and Palmer was their eventual manager Fred Cenedella who used to book bands for dances to pay off his tuition fees and who had met Palmer on a visit in 1965. There exist acetate recordings from 1967 of the quartet Joyful Noise as they made two demo recordings in the hope of acquiring a record deal. The tracks included are Known the World Over, Something Of A Change, Good Thing and Stop.

The group were impressed by Palmer's material and slowly he became a fully fledged member of the band. However a few changes were made to the band. First a vocalist, Joe Scott, was drafted in (also from Milford, Massachusetts), and secondly the name of the band had to be changed. The reason for this was that Palmer's music was dark and ominous, a reflection of the times as America was still reeling from the assassination of President Kennedy and was in the midst of the Vietnam war. Thus Joyful Noise became Ford Theatre, the place where President Lincoln was shot. (Actually the name of that place is Ford's Theater, but the group dropped the 's and changed Theater to Theatre.) On the other hand an interview with the band at the time of the release of their first album has them dismissing the link and instead stressing that the name was actually a combination of two factors. The Ford was used as a sign that the group would one day make money doing auto commercials while on the other hand the Theatre gives the group a dramatic and serious slant. The first concert that the band played under the moniker of Ford Theatre came in the summer of 1967 at the Unicorn Theatre in Boston.

Following the release of the first album, the band went on tour of seven cities including Chicago, New York and Philadelphia performing with bands such as Big Brother And The Holding Company, Iron Butterflyand Procol Harum as well as playing local television shows. However poor promotional backing from ABC did not help the band. A classic example was the summer of 1968 when the band played in front of 10,000 people at the Kiel Auditorium, sharing the bill with Big Brother and Iron Butterfly. The album was being played in heavy rotation in its entirety on the local radio (KSHE), thus achieving a large amount of publicity. However there was one snag. The area of St Louis was not supplied with records of the band and thus all the publicity that was achieved was all useless! 

September of 1969 saw the release of the band's second album, Time Changes (ABC ABCS 681/Stateside SSL 10288; Value BS15:00). Though dubbed a concept album, it is in fact a loose collection of songs, most of which were new songs composed by Harry Palmer. Recordings took place at the original Hit Factory in New York while production was entrusted to Bill Scymczyck. Time Changes was the first piece of production work for Szymczyck, who would go on to achieve fame for his production work with James Gang, Joe Walsh, Edgar Winter and The Eagles. Also there was a change in line-up for the recordings of the album as James Altieri had left the band and was replaced by Johnny Pate.

Two singles were released from the album Time Changes/Wake Up In The Morning (ABC 11192) and I've Got The Fever/Jefferson Airplane (ABC 11227).

Jim Altieri continued to play with various bands in the Boston area while Bob Tamagni teaches at the Berklee School Of Music in Boston. Harry Palmer went back to New York, producing other bands and artists before moving towards the business side of the musical worlds and becoming an executive for various record companies such as Polygram, Atlantic, BMG and Sony. 
by Nigel Camilleri
Tracks
1. Introduction - 1:00
2. Time Changes - 3:12
3. Interlude One - 1:10
4. That's My Girl - 2:10
5. Wake Up In The Morning - 3:06
6. I've Got The Fever - 5:13
7. Crash - 1:05
8. At The Station - 3:44
9. Back To Philadelphia - 3:56
10.Clifford's Dilemma - 1:52
11.Jefferson Airplane - 3:02
12.I Feel Uncertain - 2:25
13.Interlude Two - 1:15
14.Good Thing - 2:20
15.Outroduction - 0:57
All songs by Harry Edward Palmer

The Ford Theatre
*Harry Palmer - Guitar, Percussion
*Jimmy Altieri - Bass, Vocals
*Joey Scott - Bass, Vocals
*John Mazzarelli - Organ, Piano, Vocals
*Robert Tamagni - Drums, Percussion, Vocals
*Arthur "Butch" Webster - Lead Guitar, Sleigh Bells

1968  Ford Theatre - Trilogy For The Masses

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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Flock - Truth / The Columbia Recordings (1969-70 us, brilliant jazz prog avant garde rock, 2017 double disc remaster)



After starting its The Rock Machine Turns You On campaign in 1968, CBS continued releasing bargain compilations that consolidated its position at the forefront of contemporary US music. The striking cover of 1970’s Fill Your Head With Rock featured electric violinist Jerry Goodman in full curtain-haired reverie while the comp featured his band The Flock’s version of The Kinks’ Tired Of Waiting; hardly representative of an album that pushed the jazz-rock envelope further out than fellow Chicagoan label-mates Blood, Sweat & Tears and CTA.

With enthusiastic sleevenotes by John Mayall, 1969’s self-titled debut started with Goodman’s keening Introduction ushering in The Flock’s hefty blend of densely textured jazz-rock charged with classical and avant jazz flavours, climaxing with the epic blues of Truth. Also helmed by veteran jazz-classical producer John McClure, 1970’s LSD-inspired Dinosaur Swamps – here dubbed their Sgt Pepper’s by guitarist Fred Glickstein – saw The Flock flying further into exotic experimental areas to forge an American prog milestone. Perhaps inevitably, all these directions were already pulling the band apart when Goodman was poached for the Mahavishnu Orchestra, sealing their fate.

This collection corrals both albums, along with edits and out-takes, making for a compelling account of this overlooked gaggle.
by Kris Needs
Tracks
Disc 1
1. Introduction - 4:53
2. Clown - 7:45
3. I Am the Tall Tree - 5:34
4. Tired of Waiting (Ray Davies) - 4:39
5. Store Bought - Store Thought - 7:00
6. Truth - 0:15:24.
7. What Would You Do If the Sun Died? - 2:48
8. Lollipops And Rainbows - 4:05
9. Tired of Waiting (Single Version) - 2:42
10.Store Bought - Store Thought (Single Version) - 2:44
11.Clown (Part One) - 3:12
12.Clown (Part Two) - 4:38
All songs by The Flock except where noted
Disc 2
1. Green Slice - 2:03
2. Big Bird - 5:50
3. Hornschmeyer's Island - 7:25
4. Lighthouse (Rick Canoff, Fred Glickstein, James Taylor, Tom Webb) - 5:18
5. Crabfoot - 8:14
6. Mermaid - 4:53
7. Uranian Sircus - 7:13
8. Chanja - 2:38
9. Atlantians Truckin’ Home - 4:50.62]
10.Afrika - 4:34
11.Just Do It - 6:35
12.Mermaid (Single Version) - 2:49
13.Crabfoot (Single Version) - 2:49
All songs by  Rick Canoff, Fred Glickstein, Tom Webb except where indicated

The Flock
*Rick Canoff - Tenor Saxophone, Vocals
*Fred Glickstein - Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals, Hammond Organ
*Jerry Goodman - Violin, Guitar, Vocals
*Ron Karpman - Drums
*Frank Posa - Trumpet
*Jerry Smith - Bass, Vocals
*Tom Webb - Sax (Disc 1)
*John Gerber - Alto, Tenor Saxophones, Flute, Banjo, Vocals (Disc 2)

1969  The Flock - The Flock
1970  The Flock - Dinosaur Swamps 
1975  The Flock - Inside Out (Vinyl issue)

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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Ars Nova - Ars Nova (1968 us, magnificent psychedelia with baroque and some latin tinges, 2004 remaster)



If you name your band “Ars Nova” you have to be: a) Serious Artists; b) Sarcastic reactionaries; c) Into psychedelic drugs; or d) Japanese. It’s Latin, for goodness sake, and means “New Art.” This particular manifestation, hailing from New England in the late 60s, is probably type a and possibly a bit of c. But in 1968, it was okay to be a Serious Artist, so Ars Nova ended up on Elektra with support to record an ambitious album of psychedelic rock.

Prominent use of trombone and trumpet set the band apart from the run of rock bands of their (or any) era. They also borrowed liberally from Classical music, either directly by adaptation or stylistically, using of guitar and organ parts reminiscent of eras from Baroque to Romantic. Badly done, such things could be disastrous, but in this case the result is almost universally successful. The Beatles had used trumpet (think “Penny Lane”) and here was a band with two trained brass players as members, and no need to hire outside musicians. In additional to the Classical shadings, there are elements of West Coast country rock and vaudevillian swagger, which makes for a unique whole. It holds together amazingly well due to the sophistication of the writing and imagination in the arrangements. Management and label difficulties left this outstanding album without the backing it deserved, and the band only recorded one other (with different personnel for a different label) before dispersing. Lovers of elaborate psych, don’t miss this one. 
by Jon Davis

Ars Nova's first album was intermittently intriguing eclectic psychedelic rock with a slight classical influence, as well as some unusual instrumentation in the bass trombone of lead singer Jon Pierson and the trumpet and string bass of Bill Folwell. The songs --often linked by brief interludes -- are a mixed bag, though, that seem to indicate a confusion over direction, or a bit of a psychedelic throw-in-everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach. There are haunting tunes with a folk-rock base and a faint Renaissance ballad melodic influence; jaunty narratives with a vaudevillian air that bear the mark of then-recent albums such as Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band; and harder-rocking period psychedelic tracks with a bent for unpredictable bittersweet progressions and vocal harmonies. 

It's unusual, and in some senses attractive. But to be less charitable, there's a sense of listening to a generic psychedelic band that sounds better than many such acts mostly by virtue of benefiting from Elektra's high-class production, here handled by Paul Rothchild of Doors fame. Put another way, the songs themselves aren't as good as their arrangements. "Fields of People," about the best of those songs, might be the most famous one here due to getting covered in an elongated treatment by the Move, who did a better job with it than Ars Nova. The 2004 CD reissue on Sundazed adds historical liner notes by Jon Pierson.
by Richie Unterberger
Tracks
1. Pavan For My Lady (Wyatt Day) - 2:45
2. Genral Clover Ends A War (Wyatt Day, Gregory Copeland) - 2:44
3. And How Am I To Know (Wyatt Day) - 5:07
4. Album In Your Mind (Wyatt Day, Jon Pierson) - 3:02
5. Zarathustra (Maury Baker) - 3:32
6. Fields Of People (Wyatt Day, Jon Pierson) - 3:39
7. Automatic Love (Wyatt Day) - 4:52
8. I Wrapped Her In Ribbons (Wyatt Day, Gregory Copeland) - 2:37
9. Song To The City (Wyatt Day, Gregory Copeland) - 3:04
10.March Of The Mad Duke's Circus (Wyatt Day, Gregory Copeland) - 3:19

Ars Nova
*Maury Baker - Keyboards, Organ, Percussion
*Wyatt Day - Rhythm Guitar, Keyboards, Organ, Piano, Vocals
*Bill Folwell - Bass, String Bass, Trumpet, Vocals
*Jon Pierson - Trombone, Vocals
*Jonathan Raskin - Bass, Guitar, Vocals

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Monday, October 23, 2017

Froggie Beaver - From The Pond (1971-73 us, beautiful melodic prog rock with psych touches)



Froggie Beaver were in fact from Nebraska. Guitarist John Fischer, drummer Tom Jackson (replaced by Rick Brown), keyboardist Ed Stasko, and lead vocalist John Troia were in fact cornhuskers who played music on a part time basis.  Originally determined to showcase their own material, their efforts were met with indifference which led them to focus on top-40 tunes.  They were apparently a pretty good cover band since their performance saw a loyal regional following when they played local clubs such as Omaha's Aquarius Lounge and The Club at Westroads Mall.  That in turn gave them an opportunity to incorporate original material in their repertoire and by 1973 they'd made enough money to record this surprisingly impressive album at Omaha's Sound Recorders Studios.  

Produced by David Sandler, 1972's "From the Pond" was apparently a self-financed vanity project released on the band's own Froggie Beaver label.  Interestingly various references I've seen categorize the album as progressive.  Technically I guess that's correct since 'Lovely Lady and 'Road To Tomorrow' embed fairly complex musical structures, including some swirling ELP-styled keyboards. That said, be forewarned that if you're looking for hard core progressive moves this probably won't punch your ticket.  

With Fischer responsible for the majority of the seven tracks (Stasko and Troia co-wrote 'Lovely Lady'), most of the album sported a highly commercial sheen.  In fact songs such as 'Buy Back My Life' and the pretty ballads 'Come To Believe' and 'Just for You' would have sounded great on top-40 radio.  To be honest the entire album was pretty catchy.  Fischer was quite an accomplished guitarist (check out the atypical slice of Pink Floyd-influenced psych 'Away from Home'), while Troia had a likeable voice that could have made a car dealership jingle entertaining.  Fisher was also a decent singer.

Adding guitarist Steve Beedle to the lineup, the band toured in support of the album; but couldn't generate much interest in the collection (they even camped in front of a local radio station until the station agreed to add the album to their playlist).  By 1974 they were history.

There's also an earlier non-LP 45 which I've never heard, but is suppose to be quite impressive: 'Movin' On' b/w 'Nothing for Me Here' (Million catalog number 34).

The collection has been reissued a couple of times.  The Italian Arkama label released it on vinyl and CD with the single added as bonus material.  Gear Fab released it on CD. 
Tracks
1. Road To Tomorrow (Part 1) (John Fischer) - 0:55
2. Lovely Lady (John Fischer, Ed Stazko, John Troia) - 5:05
3. Buy Back My Life (John Fischer) - 3:18
4. Come To Believe (John Fischer) - 5:48
5. Away From Home (John Fischer, Mark Gorat) - 9:43
6. Just For You (John Fischer) - 5:28
7. Road To Tomorrow (Part 2) (John Fischer) - 2:05
8. Movin' On (John Troia) - 2:27
9. Nothing For Me Here (D. Lapsley Rotstein, John Fischer) - 2:47
10.Visions Of My Life (Ed Stazko, John Troia) - 4:17
11.Bring My Children Home (John Troia) - 4:50
12.Janine In Somewhere Land (John Fischer, Ed Stazko, John Troia) - 7:02
Tracks 1-7 recorded at Sound Recorders, Omaha, Nebraska
Track 8 single from the Million release 1972
Tracks 9-12 Previously Unreleased studio recordings from 1971

The Froggie Beaver
*John Troia - Lead Vocal
*Ed Staszko - Organ, Piano, Vocals, Key Bass
*John Fischer - Guitar, Vocal
*Rick Brown - Drums, Percussion, Vocals
*Chris Stovall - Vibes
*Tom Jackson - Drums
*Steve Beedle - Lead Guitar, Bass (1973)

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Saturday, October 21, 2017

Front Page Review - Mystic Soldiers (1968 us, amazing bosstown acid psych rock)



Front Page Review was a Boston band. Although they signed a contract with the MGM label, their only album was produced by Alan Lorber, the legendary inventor of "Bosstown Sound", but for several reasons it never came to be released. Front Page Review made an interesting Psychedelic Rock, typical of the late 60's, with influences from California groups like The Doors or Jefferson Airplane. 

Band formed in 1965, as the typical group of Boston area, making their living playing rock 'n' roll hits in local clubs, between 1965-1967.  Their fate and direction will radically change in late 1967, with the arrival of the charismatic, guitar, singer and songwriter Steve Cataldo.

Steve carried with him, deep, serious musical and social directions to the group, which were immediately added to the Front Page Review repertoire. His social explorations and his great musical vision led the group, to even higher levels of maturity and quality, much more than could be expected of a group of young people between 17 and 19 years. 

Their sole album, "Front Page Review" is a really delightful work, lasting only 29 minutes, but intense at times, full of intelligent and original ideas, changes of unexpected times and interesting melodies, with inspirational lyrics and original musical proposals. Alan Lorber did a spectacular job, taking advantage of this unique combination of musicality and social content, characteristic of the group, he managed to integrate the magnificent themes of the band into a new sound dimension, adding sound effects that raised dramatic intensity and realism of the excellent instrumental parts, obtaining a very cinematographic effect, when transporting the listener to an almost real scene, making him visualize moving images as if it were a movie. A clear example of this we have in the subject that opens the disc, "Prophecies / Morning Blue" , where the sound of children who play, confident and unprepared, are represented in a world of sudden nuclear devastation by a frenetic change of pace 5/4 Jazz as the nuclear cloud gets closer and closer to them.

Steve Cataldo signed a new contract for the recording of a solo album with the label "ABC Records" and in 1969 under the name "Saint Steven" he released the excellent album "Over The Hills" " . In the 1970s Cars group manager Freddie Lewis and group leader Ric Ocasek helped him get a contract with "Elektra Records" in Los Angeles, in which the first work of his new group was released the Nervous Eaters . Already in the 80 edited a second album with this same group in a small independent seal. Other contributions can be heard on the albums of Wille Alexandre , for which he recorded some magnificent acoustic guitars, in several of his classic songs, among them "Mass Ave" or "Keronac" .

With their unique album, in their unusual format of musical fusion and poetic narrative , Front Page Review left an extraordinary and original contribution to the history of Rock from Boston and to what was dubbed the Boston Sound . Fortunately, the album "Front Page Review" , which remained for more than 30 years in complete oblivion and on some shelves filled with dust, was finally unearthed and edited in 1997 from the original Master Tapes. This is a little forgotten gem that deserves close attention.
Tracks
1. Prophecies / Morning Blue - 3:54
2. Prism Fawn - 3:44
3. One Eyed Minor - 1:54
4. Feels Like Love - 2:32
5. Silver Children - 6:27
6. Valley Of Eyes - 2:16
7. Without You - 3:45
8. For The Best Offer - 3:35
Lyrics and Music by Steve Cataldo

The Front Page Review
*Steve Cataldo - Voice, Guitar.
*Richard Bartlett - Guitar
*David Weber - Battery
*David Christiansen - Guitar
*Thomas Belliveau - Bass
*Joseph Santangelo - Organ, Piano

1966-69  Saint Steven - Over The Hills / The Bastich 

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Friday, October 20, 2017

Splinter - Harder to Live (1975 uk, wonderful folk soft rock, 2015 korean remaster)



Splinter's second release on Dark Horse had a lot less involvement from George Harrison, which is felt throughout the album. This means that the album is not as strong as their debut (1974's The Place I Love), but it is still a very good album. Splinter is comprised of Bill Elliot and Bobby Purvis, both vocalists, who create a beautiful harmony together. They also managed to form a tight, talented, and famous backup band, arranged by the ever-talented Tom Scott (who also contributes musically). 

Included in the band is Chris Spedding providing strong guitar, and Harrison, who contributes production and guitar (under the name Hari Georgeson) to the wonderful and moving "Lonely Man," which was also the theme to Harrison's first venture into film producing, Little Malcom and His Struggle Against the Eunuchs. It is also co-written by Mal Evans and is by far the strongest track on the album. Other highlights include the beautiful "Green Line Bus" and "Berkley House Hotel," which harkens back to the folk sound of their debut. 
by Aaron Badgley
Tracks
1. Please Help Me - 2:39
2. Sixty Miles Too Far - 4:07
3. Harder To Live - 3:21
4. Half Way There - 2:59
5. Which Way Will I Get Home - 3:57
6. Berkley House Hotel - 3:22
7. After Five Years - 3:09
8. Green Line Bus - 4:03
9. Lonely Man (Bobby Purvis, Malcolm Evans) - 5:31
10.What Is It (If You Never Ever Tried It Yourself) (Bobby Purvis, Bill Elliott) - 3:42
All compositions by Bobby Purvis except where stated

Musicians
*Bill Elliott - Lead Vocals, Harmony Vocals
*Bobby Purvis - Lead Vocals, Harmony Vocals
*Bill Dickinson - Bass
*Hari Georgeson (George Harrison) - Guitar
*Jim Keltner - Drums
*Ralph MacDonald - Percussion
*Bill Nuttycombe - String Concertmaster
*Earl Palmer - Drums And Percussion
*Billy Preston - Organ
*Tom Scott - Synthesizer, Percussion, Horns
*Chris Spedding - Guitar
*John Taylor - Keyboards, Fender Rhodes
*Waddy Wachtel - Guitar

1974  Splinter - The Place I love (2008 bonus tracks remaster) 

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Splinter - The Place I love (1974 uk, fabulous soft melodic rock, france Vinyl edition and 2008 bonus tracks remaster)



In 1970, Tyneside musicians Bob Purvis (born: 31 May 1950) and Bill Elliott (born: 28 July 1950) played live for the first time as a duo singing two songs 'Wondering Buck' and 'How It Really Feels Inside.' They then got together with a couple of other guys and formed a band called Stone Blind, played a few gigs and made some demo tapes. Rob Hill became their manager and sent the tapes off to record companies. In the meantime, Stone Blind changed their name to Half Breed, before going on to produce more demos. Mal Evans, The Beatles' former road manager and producer of a number of the Apple acts, was in Newcastle at the time and produced more demos with the group in David Wood's Impulse Studios, in Wallsend. These were taken back to Apple and made into a demonstration album. Bob Purvis, who was in Half Breed as a songwriter, found it hard to pretend he was enjoying himself; to be honest, there were lots of bad feelings, so exit Bob.

The upshot of all this was that Apple wanted the singer (Bill Elliott) and the songwriter (Bob Purvis), but they would not buy into the group. Mal got Bill Elliott a job singing 'God Save Oz' (which was changed to 'God Save Us'), a John Lennon and Yoko Ono song, for the benefit of Oz magazine. Bill handled the song really well, but it was a very controversial issue and he didn't get a fair crack at it [chart success]. There were rumours he was in line for another song, but nothing came of this. Half Breed changed its name, for one week, to the Elastic Oz Band and went on tour in Scotland promoting the song. Bill was still loyal to the band, but on their return, it was obvious that something was wrong. Mal Evans wanted to take Bill and Bob under his wing and manage them, however, they already had a manager in Rob Hill.

Eventually, in mid-1971, Rob, Bill and Bob decided to get a whole new band together. The band was called Truth. Now everyone seemed far happier because Truth was a far tighter band with professional musicians. Bob carried on as a songwriter while Bill took over the lead vocals. For the next six months, Truth played continuous gigs and to Bill and Bob, the band was a breath of fresh air. The Truth was out there! However, things changed again when Bob Purvis decided to leave the band to their own devices and strike out on his own career as a singer/songwriter.

Bob moved down to London in July, 1972, and Mal Evans became his manager. He worked with Tony Visconti making demos and wrote songs with Mike Gibbins of Badfinger. Bob married Marilyn, his girlfriend of two years, on July 29, 1972; they had a basement flat near Hampstead Heath for a few months and to make ends meet, he also did a bit of session singing to make a few quid. It was also in these months that Rob Hill, Bob's ex-manager and lifelong friend, came to stay, along with his girlfriend Anne. Rob was still Bill's manager and suggested that the two of them should get back together. (Rob eventually became Splinter's manager and, it is fair to say, without him Splinter would never have happened). Bill had been very disillusioned with music and life at this time. He was also missing Yvonne, his girlfriend, who was living abroad. 

His band Truth wasn't going the way he had planned, and for awhile he thought about giving it up altogether. Bob Purvis knew that with Bill on-board, prospects would be better. It had worked in the beginning, and it could work now. Bill and Bob never had to try too hard to sing together; they naturally complemented each other. One would take the harmony, one would take the lead and vice-versa. It would be hard to tell them apart on record, but Bob admits that Bill had the most amazing country singing and ballad voice and Bob's songwriting would be tapered with this in mind. Bob was also a natural singer, but Bill really kept him on his toes, so it was agreed that there would be no-one but Bill -- no bands with massive egos or hangers-on who came along for the milk and honey. Splinter was the name and together, they were the perfect match.

Splinter were about songs and singing; they both sang and both wrote. Bob played 12-string guitar and Bill played mouth organ. Things quickly moved and in the next few months they were offered deals by Tony Visconti, Threshold Records (label for The Moody Blues) and Apple. Apple wanted the duo to appear in a John Hurt, David Warner film called 'Little Malcolm and his Struggle Against the Eunuchs.' The song they were going to record was a Cat Stevens song called 'How Can I Tell You', but when they heard a song that Mal Evans and Bob Purvis wrote called 'Another Chance That I Let Go' (which eventually turned into 'Lonely Man' and was featured on their second album, 'Harder to Live'), they used the song as the theme music. 'Lonely Man' is the only song Bob and Mal ever wrote together, but Bob is quick to point out that Mal wrote some very good lyrics on this piece. George Harrison of The Beatles liked the song and wanted to hear more. Splinter signed-up with George and Dark Horse Records (distributed by AandM) in 1973 and made their first album ('The Place I Love') in which Bob recalled: "We both sang our hearts out. It took over a year to make the album and we are both very, very proud to be associated with such a great man and a fine album."
Tracks
1. Gravy Train - 4:09
2. Drink All Day (Got To Find Your Own Way Home) - 3:24
3. China Light - 4:35
4. Somebody's City - 5:53
5. Costafine Town (Bob Purvis, Bill Elliott) - 3:12
6. The Place I Love - 4:29
7. Situation Vacant - 4:01
8. Elly-May - 2:45
9. Haven't Got Time - 3:58
10.China Light (Single Edit) 3:42
11.Lonely Man (Bob Purvis, Malcolm Evans) - 5:33
12.Lonely Man (Single Edit) (Bob Purvis, Malcolm Evans) - 4:20
13.Lonely Man (Japanese Version) (Bob Purvis, Malcolm Evans) - 4:16
14.Round And Round (Jerry Parker McGee) - 3:11
All songs by Bob Purvis except where noted
Bonus Tracks 10-14
Tracks 11-13 From "Harder To Live" 1975
Track 14 From "Two Man Band" 1977

Musicians
*Bob Purvis - Vocals
*Bill Elliott - Vocals
*Klaus Voorman - Bass
*Mike Kelly - Drums
*George Harrison - 6 And 12-String Guitars, Dobro, Harmonium, Jew's Harp, Percussion, Bass, 8-String Bass, Moog Synthesizer
*Alvin Lee - Guitar
*Mel Collins - Horn Arrangements
*Billy Preston - Electric Piano
*Jim Keltner - Drums
*Gary Wright - Piano
*Billy Preston - Organ
*Graham Maitland - Accordian
*Jai Raj Harisein - Percussion
*Kenny Buttrey - Drums
*Norbert Putnam - Bass
*Parker McGee - Guitar
*Steve Gibson - Guitar
*Rod Argent - Synthesizer

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Association - Live (1970 us, elegant sunny beats, 2003 remaster)



The Association had their last Top Forty hit in 1968, but were still a popular concert attraction as the new decade began. Recorded live at the University of Utah on April 3, 1970, the double-LP Live encapsulated their career highlights and added a few lesser-traveled items as well. It also gave fans a chance to hear the group as they sounded on stage, away from the studio, where top Los Angeles session men often handled the bulk of the backing tracks.

Asked to compare the group's sound live and in the studio, the Association's Jim Yester responds, "Live was a lot more visceral, because it was a lot more bare-bones. But we structured things so that we could, live, cover at least the high points of every arrangement, so that the people would get the same feeling. Get, if not exactly the same instrumentation, the same impact of the instrumentation. We were very concerned about our live performance. A lot of stuff that we did in the studio, we would hold things back, because we said, 'Well, how are we going to cover that?'

"We were an excellent performance group. That was always our focus, performance. We performed for a year and a half before we ever got close to the record thing. When we first started, we worked eight hours a day, six days a week, on our performance before we ever performed anywhere. So by the time we got to stage, we were pretty slick. We did skits and bits and stuff that nobody else really was doing. I think that's 'cause we came out of the folk thing, where we were more concert-oriented, rather than just playing a bunch of songs. We were not a dance band. We starved because we refused to do Top Forty, and refused to work the clubs. But in the long run, it paid off for us."

The album also gave the group a chance to demonstrate that it could indeed play competently on stage, despite its reliance on session players for much of its studio output. "It was a good group, instrumentally and vocally," adds Yester. "It's just that that was the deal back then. If you wanted to record, 'This is the producer, and you guys are using studio musicians period, take it or leave it.' And it wasn't that big of a deal to us. Because, you know, a lot of people were using studio musicians. And now it comes out that a lot of people that you thought weren't, were! Even the Beatles used people."

Some footage that has recently come to light on DVD has indeed demonstrated that the Association could handle their instrumentals with respectable skill onstage, playing "Along Comes Mary" on The Ed Sullivan Show without any evident assistance from backing tracks. They do the same tune on the bonus footage with the DVD version of the Monterey Pop documentary, though Yester says of their performance at that 1967 festival, "that was kind of a disappointing thing. We were used as the guinea pigs for that whole thing. They threw us on first to get the sound all set, get the lights and everything, and then they started the festival. They threw us to the lions!"

As for the performance captured on Live, Yester feels that "by and large, it was very representative of what was going on. One of the things I noticed years later in listening to it is, you can really hear the battle that's going on between two lead guitars. They're trying to top each other all the time, and some things, I wish one of them would have just comped." The high-altitude Utah air also created some problems, as Yester admits, "It's a little harder to sustain long notes and stuff like that because the air is so thin. But the audience was so incredible. The Mormon schools just loved us, and when [manager] Pat [Colecchio] talked to University of Utah and they responded so favorably, we couldn't resist. It was such a wonderful venue to do that. They just absolutely loved us. So we decided to give that a little more credence. And we had played up there in Utah so much that we were used to it. It wasn't something that caught us by surprise. We had a lot of oxygen in the dressing room. There was even oxygen on the side of the stage if anybody had any problem.

"But it was what it was, and I think by and large, we were all very pleased with it. I'm certainly very proud of it. I think a lot of people were surprised at that time, that we were as strong as we were instrumentally, just on our own. I know I was surprised! I went out to Wally Heider's truck out in back of the auditorium afterwards, and they threw up a rough mix, just brought up all the faders, and the first time they played anything back I went, 'My god! That's how we sound?' I was blown away."

While the 22-song set included all the expected hits, there were some surprises too, like the covers of Bob Dylan's "One Too Many Mornings" and the folk standard "Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You," which had been the Association's initial folk-rock singles in 1965; the non-LP 1970 45 "Just About the Same"; and the anti-war protest "Requiem for the Masses," which had been the B-side of "Never My Love." A particular highlight was their cover of Dino Valenti's "Let's Get Together," which had been a Top Five hit in 1969 by the Youngbloods, and recorded by numerous other acts in the '60s, including the Jefferson Airplane. "That was one of the first things we had ever done when we first started performing," notes Yester. "We had never recorded it, and always wished we had. We couldn't even remember the original vocal arrangement, which was just killer. But still, we wanted to have it on the album because we'd been doing it for so long. So we decided to include that, 'cause it was always part of our concert. It was a couple-hour-long concert, so we just decided, 'Okay, this is us, let's run it up the flagpole and see if anybody salutes.'"

At 74 minutes, the resulting double LP was quite long for a 1970 rock concert album, which might have scared away prospective casual buyers, as it peaked at a disappointing #79 in the charts. "It was very disappointing that it didn't do as well as we had anticipated, and I think that's probably why," speculates Yester. "It was just too much." The CD era, however, enables us to squeeze the entire hour and a quarter onto a single disc, catching the Association at their peak of their popularity as a touring attraction. 
by Richie Unterberger
Tracks
1. Dream Girl (Ted Bluechel) - 1:36
2. One Too Many Mornings (Bob Dylan) - 2:52
3. Along Comes Mary (Tandyn Almer) - 5:23
4. I'll Be Your Man (Russ Giguere) - 3:20
5. Goodbye Columbus (Jim Yester) - 2:29
6. Let's Get Together (Chet Powers) - 3:22
7. Wasn't It A Bit Like Now (Terry Kirkman) - 4:35
8. Never My Love (Don Addrisi, Dick Addrisi) - 3:12
9. Goodbye Forever (Jules Alexander, Rita Martinson, Terry Kirkman) - 2:49
10.Just About The Same (Rhodes, Stec, Fennelly, Mallory, Edgar) - 2:51
11.Babe I'm Gonna Leave You (Anne Bredon) - 3:43
12.Seven Man Band (Terry Kirkman) - 2:25
13.The Time Is Today (Russ Giguere) - 3:02
14.Dubuque Blues (Jules Alexander) - 4:42
15.Blistered (Billy Edd Wheeler) - 2:58
16.What Were The Words (Jim Yester) - 2:28
17.Remember (Jules Alexander) - 3:19
18.Are You Ready (Larry Ramos, Tony Ortega) - 2:52
19.Cherish (Terry Kirkman) - 5:15
20.Requiem For The Masses (Terry Kirkman) - 4:28
21.Windy (Ruthann Friedman) - 3:41
22.Enter The Young (Terry Kirkman) - 3:09

The The Association
Gary "Jules" Alexander - Guitar, Vocals
Russ Giguere - Guitar, Vocals
Jim Yester - Guitar, Keyboards, Saxophone, Vocals
Larry Ramos - Guitar, Harmonica, Saxophone, Vocals
Brian Cole - Bass, Clarinet, Vocals
Ted Bluechel - Drums, Vocals
Terry Kirkman - Drums, Vocals

1966-69  The Association - Original Album Series (2016 five discs box set) 
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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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
Tracks
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
With
*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
Tracks
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

Personnel
*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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