Saturday, April 21, 2018

Atomic Rooster - Death Walks Behind You (1970 uk, impressive heavy psych prog rock, 2016 SHM remaster with bonus tracks)

In the progressive rock community there is some controversy regarding the status of Atomic Rooster as a full-fledged prog band.  Like many Seventies acts often placed under the ‘heavy prog’ umbrella (Captain Beyond and High Tide to name but two), in the eyes of purists they are little more than glorified hard rock combos with some hints of something more complex, yet more akin to Deep Purple and Black Sabbath than Genesis or Yes. In recent times I have happened to see Atomic Rooster labeled as a ‘dark’ band – a definition that made me think of the likes of The Cure or Siouxsie and the Banshees rather than any of the classic bands of the Seventies.

On the other hand, as both the brilliant title and the iconic cover (depicting William Blake’s “Nebuchadnezzar” on a simple black background) suggest, Death Walks Behind You is a very dark album – a haunting, Hammond-drenched effort which sounds like a encounter between Black Sabbath and Deep Purple with ELP writing the soundtrack. In many ways, it can be seen as the blueprint for the heavier side of prog, a lavish feast for any self-respecting fan of the mighty Hammond organ, and a welcome respite from the pastoral soundscapes of  Camel or Genesis, or the mind-boggling intricacy of Yes. Definitely hard-edged, occasionally oppressive, undeniably raw and unpolished, it possesses the kind of power that many more recent albums strive in vain to achieve.

This is one of the rare albums that captured my attention right from the first listen. True, Death Walks Behind You is not perfect, but then very few albums are, even those normally hailed as masterpieces. Vincent Crane’s highly effective, aggressive playing style, perfectly complemented by the expressive voice and blistering guitar lines of John DuCann (formerly with proto-prog outfit Andromeda), is a real treat for the ears of every Hammond lover. The third band member, drummer Paul Hammond (who replaced co-founder Carl Palmer when the latter joined ELP), lays down a powerful backbeat, assisted by Crane’s skillful use of both keyboard and foot pedals to replace the missing bass lines. This idiosyncratic take on the classic power trio unleashes a massive volume of music that, while not as technically impeccable as what ELP or Deep Purple were producing at the time, is brimming with sheer intensity.

A couple of tracks relieve the tension and overall dark mood of the album – namely the catchy, almost upbeat “Tomorrow Night” (originally released as a single), and the heavy rock-goes-commercial “I Can’t Take No More”. Neither are personal favourites: in my view, especially the latter could be scrapped from the album without doing a whole lot of damage. On the other hand, the slow, melancholy number “Nobody Else”, dominated by Crane’s piano, sees a remarkably emotional vocal performance by DuCann, providing a perfect foil for Crane’s despondent, foreboding lyrics (he suffered from mental problems and ended up committing suicide, as did Hammond).

The real highlights of the album, however, are to be found elsewhere. The title-track is introduced by dissonant, menacing piano, then explodes into a memorably hypnotic organ riff punctuated by the obsessive repetition of the title, “Death Walks Behind You”.  “7 Streets” is a more structured composition, based on the interplay between organ and guitar, while “Sleeping for Years” is in a similar vein, though with a slightly darker tone – both excellent examples of vintage heavy prog, somewhat influenced by Black Sabbath, but with better vocals and lashings of keyboards replacing Tony Iommi’s monstrous riffing. The two instrumentals, “VUG” and “Gershatzer”, are probably the most progressive offerings on the album, showcasing Crane’s skills as a Hammond player; the latter, which is almost 8 minutes long, has the slightly loose feel of a jam session, intensified by the presence of a short drum solo.

Though not exactly flawless, Death Walks Behind You is an impressive offering  that is  almost a must-listen for Hammond fans and anyone who likes their prog with a harder edge (though not necessarily metal). A fascinating, almost addictive album by an underrated band, whose long but chequered career ended tragically with Vincent Crane’s death in 1989.
by Raffaella Berry
1. Death Walks Behind You (John Du Cann, Vincent Crane) - 7:31
2. Vug (Vincent Crane) - 5:00
3. Tomorrow Night (Vincent Crane) - 3:59
4. 7 Streets (John Du Cann) - 6:43
5. Sleeping For Years (John Du Cann) - 5:28
6. I Can't Take No More (John Du Cann) - 3:34
7. Nobody Else (John Du Cann, Vincent Crane) - 5:01
8. Gershatzer (Vincent Crane) - 8:04
9. Play The Game (John Du Cann) - 4:45
10.The Devil's Answer (1970 Demo) (John Du Cann) - 4:03
11.The Devil's Answer (Alternative Version) (John Du Cann) - 3:28
Bonus Tracks 9-11

Atomic Rooster
*John Du Cann - Guitars, Lead Vocals, Bass
*Vincent Crane - Hammond Organ, Backing Vocals, Piano
*Paul Hammond - Drums, Percussion

1970  Atomic Rooster - Atomic Rooster (2016 Japan Mini LP SHM remaster) 
1970-72/81  Atomic Rooster - Devil's Answer / Rare Live Recordings 
Related Acts
1967-68  The Attack - About Time (2006 remaster with unreleased material)
1967-69  The Attack - Magic In The Air
1967-69  Andromeda - The Definitive Collection
1968  The Five Day Week Straw People - The Five Day Week Straw People
1970  Skin Alley - Big Brother Is Watching You (2011 two discs with unreleased material)
1972  Skin Alley - Two Quid Deal (2005 japan remaster)
1973  Skin Alley - Skin Tight

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Friday, April 20, 2018

Man – Slow Motion (1974 uk, amazing prog rock, 2008 remaster and expanded)

Man's second album of 1974 had the unenviable task of competing with the group's highest charting album to date, Rhinos, Winos And Lunatics, released just five months earlier. Unsurprisingly, in that time the band had undergone another line-up change with keyboard player Malcolm Morley jumping ship after the group's first successful American tour. That left the band as a four-piece again with Micky Jones on guitar and vocals, Deke Leonard on guitar, piano and vocals, Ken Whaley on bass and Terry Williams on drums and vocals. Amazingly, after the five-week US tour, the band only had a week off before heading off to Clearwell Castle in Gloucestershire to write the next album, a feat they accomplished in just two weeks! Boy, how times have changed!

The album was written and recorded in an atmosphere described by Jones as "Post American blues" with Leonard stating that the group felt somewhat "displaced and after the wide open spaces [of the US] we felt mildly claustrophobic". As a consequence, the album, particularly in the lyrical department, is quite downbeat, with main lyric writer Leonard stating that his mind was elsewhere - "a really morbid alley-way which is full of death, disease and real black images". This is true of opening number, A Hard Way To Die, as if the title was not somewhat of a giveaway! However, musically it is quite a jolly number and opens up the recording in readiness for the string-laden Grasshopper. The first of two ballads, Grasshopper is a gentle and lovely acoustic number with a complete string section providing most of the impetus of the song. Rock And Roll You Out, a song inspired by Leonard's exclusion from a Welsh night club for wearing jeans, is a bluesy number with a pretty standard beat but with the added attraction of some nifty slide guitar work and even a harmonica solo! Another true incident, the theft of Micky's possessions while on holiday in Italy, was the inspiration behind You Don't Like Us. There is a definite air of Badfinger about this track, ironic as those other fabulous Welsh rockers were to support Man on their next UK tour.

An energetic guitar and synth introduction starts off Bedtime Bone which has quite a few instrumental passages, mostly because the band objected to Leonard's original lyrics about a chap dying whilst in the arms of a prostitute. Attempts at alternative lyrics were no more positive and so the original words were edited leaving space for a somewhat uninspiring synth solo. The lively One More Chance also hides a rather morbid lyric, but one doesn't notice it behind the delightfully cheery chorus and the twin guitar assault that makes the song a classic example of the Man oeuvre. The second ballad is Rainbow Eyes which also benefits from a string section, although not in as prominent a role as in Grasshopper. A more positive number from the pen of Micky complete with choral vocals on the middle eight, it sounds like a pop song from the late sixties, and although fairly distinct in the Man repertoire it is none-the-less a minor gem of a song. They still manage to slip a death into the lyric though! Last track of the original album is the single Day and Night which, at the time, was a favourite of John Peel's; he even nominated it as single of the week when he reviewed it for Sounds magazine. Peely, as ever, was spot on in his assessment and it is surprising that the group didn't even score a minor hit with the song with it being a catchy ditty an all.

As for all the Esoteric Man re-issues, the CD contains a host of previously unreleased bonus tracks, starting with the first mix of Rock And Roll You Out whose main difference is a saxophone, which although barely discernable in the final mix plays a major part in this initial version, featuring in its own solo and in an interesting trade-off with guitar in the end section. The b-side to the Day And Night single, a live version of A Hard Way To Live is an energetic number which first featured on Deke Leonard's solo Iceberg album. Despite the original having been recorded after Leonard being fired from Man over attitude problems, the rest of Man were quite familiar with the material as several of them had played on the album and the band Leonard formed to promote the album (who were also called Iceberg) had supported Man on one of their UK tours. As if in reposte, the next bonus track is a live rendition of Hard Way To Die which comprehensively shows how the group were able to take a good studio song and ramp it up to another level when on stage. Hard Way To Die is the first of four live tracks taken from a concert recorded in California in April 1975, the second, Somebody's Calling (otherwise known as Someone Is Calling) is a relative rarity having only previously appeared on the 'Rare Man' CD and a couple of live bootlegs. Although less than 3 minutes long, the first high quality release of this number is a great bonus for Man collectors and completists. 

The final two tracks are the classic Many Are Called, But Few Get Up and another version of A Hard Way To Live. Maybe it would have been better to include another track from this concert instead of the latter track although one can't quibble too much in these matters! The version of Many Are Called... also displays the skill of the band in taking a regularly performed number and rearranging it within the confines of a familiar framework, much in the way that the Grateful Dead were able to do. This explains the popularity of the plethora of live releases, many of which contain similar track listings.

Although not often cited as a pinnacle album in the band's career, that is possibly due to the classic album that came immediately prior to it and the fact that Slow Motion was released so soon after. In addition, the general negative vibes might put some people off. However, all that withstanding, Slow Motion is a worthy addition to any Man collection. 
by Mark Hughes
1. Hard Way to Die - 5:20
2. Grasshopper - 5:12
3. Rock and Roll You Out - 3:54
4. You Don't Like Us - 4:34
5. Bedtime Bone - 5:55
6. One More Chance - 4:27
7. Rainbow Eyes - 6:06
8. Day and Night - 4:08
9. Rock And Roll You Out (First Mix) - 4:37
10.A Hard Way To Live (Deke Leonard) - 2:59
11.Hard Way To Die - 5:51
12.Somebody's Calling - 2:48
13.Many Are Called, But Few Get Up (Martin Ace, Clive John, Micky Jones, Deke Leonard, Ken Whaley, Terry Williams) - 13:13
14.A Hard Way To Live (Deke Leonard) - 3:16
All songs by Micky Jones, Deke Leonard, Ken Whaley, Terry Williams except where stated
Track 9 recorded at Morgan Studios 30th August 1974 previously unreleased
Track 10 B side of single UP 35739 released in May 1975
Tracks 11 to 14 recorded at the Keystone, Berkeley, California in April 1975

*Deke Leonard – Guitar, Vocals
*Micky Jones – Guitar, Vocals
*Ken Whaley – Bass
*Terry Williams – Drums, Vocals
*Chris Mercer - Saxophone
*Stuart Gordon - Strings

1969  Man - Revelation (2009 remaster and expanded)
1969  Man - 2 Ozs Of Plastic With A Hole In The Middle (2009 remaster)
1971  Man - Man (2007 remaster with extra tracks)
Related Acts
1971-73  Help Yourself - Reaffirmation An Anthology (2014 Remaster)
1973  Help Yourself - 5 (2004 release)
1976-78  Tyla Gang - Pool Hall Punks / The Complete Recordings

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Richie Havens - Stonehenge (1970 us, gorgeous orchestrated folk psych, 2001 remaster)

Richie Havens was born in Brooklyn, New York, the eldest of nine children, formed street corner doo-wop groups with his friends, and sang with the McCrea Gospel Singers at the age of 16. Although he had already visited the artistic hotbed Greenwich Village, to read poetry, he was 20 before he moved there to live, soon learning to play the guitar and performing in the Village's folk venues, where this 6ft 6in tall African American stood out in the largely white clubs.

His distinctive guitar playing and soulful, gruff singing style quickly marked him out as a performer to watch, and after a couple of albums on the Douglas label, Havens was signed up by Bob Dylan's manager, Albert Grossman, who secured a record deal with Verve Records.

The first album with Verve, Mixed Bag (1967), included his own anti-war ballad, Handsome Johnny (co-written with the actor Louis Gossett Jr), and a handful of covers, including John Lennon and Paul McCartney's Eleanor Rigby and Dylan's Just Like a Woman. As with all his subsequent covers, he made the songs his own, with his highly rhythmic guitar accompaniment.

In 1968, he told the American folk music magazine Sing Out! that he wanted to put "the intonations of America" on Eleanor Rigby and other Lennon and McCartney songs. A couple more albums were released before Woodstock – Something Else Again (1968) and Richard P Havens, 1983 (1969). The latter included an apocalyptic vision of the future inspired by George Orwell and was his first album to make the US top 100 charts.

His Woodstock success encouraged Havens to found his own record label, Stormy Forest, and although the first album, Stonehenge (1970), was more subdued than his Woodstock audience expected, his next record, Alarm Clock (1971), indeed became a wake-up call: it was his highest charting album, and a single of George Harrison's Here Comes the Sun made the US top 20.

Havens went on to release several more albums through the mid-1970s, although it was his live performances that earned the greatest praise. In the same year as Woodstock, he appeared at the Isle of Wight festival, and the studio audience for his appearance on The Johnny Carson Show in the US was so enthusiastic that Carson invited him back the following evening – only the second time this had ever happened.

During the 1970s, Havens diversified into acting. He starred in the original stage performance of the Who's Tommy in 1972 and took the lead role in Catch My Soul, the 1974 film based on Othello. He co-starred with Richard Pryor in the 1977 film Greased Lightning.

Into the 1980s, Havens continued to tour and record, although he never improved on his previous chart success. His voice was heard on McDonald's adverts all over America, singing Here Comes the Sun, and he collaborated with the British electronic music duo Groove Armada – their song Hands of Time featured on the soundtrack of the Tom Cruise film Collateral (2004).

From the 1970s, Havens became concerned about educating young people about ecological issues. He co-founded a children's oceanographic museum in the Bronx, the North Wind Undersea Institute, and encouraged young people to have a hands-on role in making a positive contribution to improving the environment.

His 1993 retrospective album, Resume: The Best of Richie Havens, did much to remind a new audience of his back catalogue. In the year it was released, he appeared alongside Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins and Arlo Guthrie at the Troubadours of Folk festival in Los Angeles. A capacity audience would not let him leave the stage at the end of his concert. He later described it as a "Greenwich Village class reunion".

Havens sang at Bill Clinton's 1993 presidential inauguration and also performed several times for the Dalai Lama. He appeared at the 30th and 40th Woodstock anniversary celebrations, and at Dylan's 30th anniversary concert in 1992, where he sang Just Like a Woman. His autobiography, They Can't Hide Us Anymore, was published in 1999; the title refers to his thoughts during his helicopter ride over the Woodstock crowds in 1969. His last album was Nobody Left to Crown (2008).

Havens's repertoire was always a mixture of his own compositions and covers of other songwriters: he had a special talent for interpreting other people's songs, always delivered in his soulful, fiery and passionate vocal style with his attacking, urgent, rhythmic guitar accompaniment.

After kidney surgery in 2010, Havens retired from touring. He is survived by four daughters. Richie passed away April 22nd 2013.
by Derek Schofield
1. Open Our Eyes (Leon Lumpkins) - 2:54
2. Minstrel From Gault (Richie Havens, Mark Roth) - 3:35
3. It Could Be The First Day - 2:21
4. Ring Around The Moon (Greg Brown, Richie Havens) - 2:06
5. It's All Over Now, Baby Blue (Bob Dylan) - 4:59
6. There's A Hole In The Future - 2:04
7. I Started A Joke (Barry Gibb) - 2:55
8. Prayer - 2:58
9. Tiny Little Blues - 2:06
10.Shouldn't All The World Be Dancing? - 8:04
All songs by Richie Havens except where noted

*Richie Havens - Guitar, Autoharp, Sitar, Koto, Vocals
*David Bromberg - Dobro
*Warren Bernhardt - Organ
*Daniel Ben Zebulon - Drums, Conga
*Monte Dunn - Guitar
*Donny Gerrard - Bass
*Ken Lauber - Piano
*Bill Lavorgna - Drums
*Eric Oxendine - Bass
*Donald Mcdonald - Drums
*Bill Shepherd - String Arrangements
*Paul "Dino" Williams - Guitar

1967  Richie Havens - Mixed Bag 

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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Ellis - Riding on the Crest of a Slump / Why Not? (1972-73 uk, awesome pub classic rock, 2006 remaster)

Steve Ellis first began singing in a band at the age of 15. The band were called Soul Survivors, initially gate crashing weddings, youth clubs and barmitzva's in north London on the pretence that they were booked to perform. When the band improved substantially they began to play venues such as The Marquee, The Flamingo, Tiles and Mod clubs in Brighton, Clacton and Soul clubs in Manchester, Stoke etc.

After the bands first release on Decca Records, they moved on to CBS and became one of the most successful British pop acts of the late '60s, under their new name "Love Affair", and had a string of hit records. The music was inaudible due to the Beatle-mania like mayhem that ensued and was never repeated until a decade later when the Bay City Rollers found success.

In autumn 1969, Steve Ellis walked out of Love Affair to re-think his musical direction. CBS retained him as a solo artist and his future looked decidedly rosy. Without him, Love Affair floundered, while Steve seemed to have the world at his feet. But it didn't work out that way.

Despite a succession of different bands and deals, he never again tasted chart success - undeservedly so, judging by the records - and his career was cut painfully short in 1981 when he suffered a horrific accident after retiring from the music business to work as a docker.

But a brave fight to regain his mobility led him back to music in the early '90s, and for the next 10 years, he toured as Steve Ellis' Love Affair, belting out a mixture of the band's old hits and newer material to an audience of nostalgists and younger converts. He's also plugged in to the enduring Mod scene, organising and performing at the Small Faces Convention at the Ruskin, East London as a tribute to the late Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane. The upshot of this was sell-out concerts at The Astoria and The Royal Albert Hall, with proceeds going to Ronnie Lane's sons after their house in Wales burnt down. Both shows included all star guests paying tribute to Marriott and Lane. "A Mod is for life, not just for Christmas", he laughs.

And he teamed up with Paul Weller to record a single, "Step Inside My Love", issued 1998 to raise funds for the NSPCC. The single's production has echoes of smooth mid-80s soul - indeed, Glen "I Won't Cry" Goldsmith sings backing - and Ellis's voice is still in fine fettle. It's been a long haul...

After deciding to leave the Love Affair, Steve discussed forming a band with Zoot Money, Jimmy McCulloch from Thunderclap Newman and Terry Reid. But nothing came of these plans, so Steve instead went solo. His first project was contributing to the soundtrack of Loot, the screen adaptation of a play by the infamous playwright, Joe Orton.

In 1971, Steve found a new manager. "I bumped into (ex-Animal and Hendrix/Slade manager) Chas Chandler in a nightclub and we got chatting. He made the right noises. I stayed with Chas for a couple of singles, including 'Take Your Love'. Then I did 'Hold On' with Howie Casey and his big brass section, Johnny Steele from the Animals on drums, little Jimmy McCulloch on guitar, Zoot Money on piano and a Canadian band, Eggs Over Easy, who were touring over here with Loudon Wainwright. That was a bloody good band. We did a few gigs."

The following year, Steve assembled a new band - billed simply as Ellis or, later, the Ellis Group. "That was Zoot and two bass players - Jim Leverton (Fat Mattress), who ended up with Steve Marriott, then Nick South (ex-Vinegar Joe/Alexis Korner). We also had a German guitarist, Andy Grober, alias Andy Gee (ex-Springfield Park) and Davie Lutton (drums) from Eire Apparent.

"Zoot's great. He's a complete character, a great keyboard player and a good singer, too. Working with him was brilliant. That was one seriously good band, if a bit way out - Zoot with his jazzy influence. It was a meeting of everything, really."

"Riding On The Crest Of A Slump", Ellis's first album, was produced by the Who's Roger Daltrey: "He's a good lad. I lived next door to him near Heathfield, Sussex in a spare cottage of his for three years to get out of London. I got people like Maggie Bell from Stone The Crows, Mike Patto and Roger Chapman and we'd rehearse there. I think Roger regretted it, because we made a lot of bloody noise. He was moaning. He done a good job, though. We had Glyn Johns come in, the Stones' producer. Say what you like, mate! The whole album had a good feel."

Daltrey's role was taken by Mike Vernon for Ellis's second LP, "Why Not?" (1973). "That's got three/four good tracks but the rest didn't work out. We did a blues, which is unbelievable - about eight minutes long. Mike's very business-like. I knew him in the early days and thought he'd be good to work with. But he was matter-of-fact, very formal - 'right, time to go'. Bad chemistry. We didn't seem to get the backing from CBS we thought we deserved. I wrote this single, 'El Doomo', and the head of CBS was going to sue the charts because it got to No. 50 in 1974 and didn't budge for three weeks."
1. Good to Be Alive (Colin Allen, George Money) - 3:26
2. Doomo (Steve Ellis) - 6:20
3. You're the Only Reason (Jim Leverton) - 3:42
4. Tune for Brownie (Steve Ellis) - 3:00
5. Your Game (Steve Ellis) - 4:21
6. Three Times Corner (George Money) - 3:55
7. Morning Paper (Steve Ellis) - 3:25
8. Wish I Was Back Home (Steve Ellis, Andy Gee) - 3:00
9. Angela (Colin Allen, George Money) - 7:20
10.Goodbye Boredom (Steve Ellis) - 4:25
11.Opus 17 3/4 (Steve Ellis, George Money) - 4:27
12.Future Passed (Steve Ellis, Andy Gee) - 3:58
13.Loud and Lazy Love Songs (Steve Ellis) - 3:44
14.Open Road (Steve Ellis, George Money) - 2:39
15.All Before (George Money) - 5:49
16.Leaving in the Morning (George Money) - 2:42
17.Mighty Mystic Lady (George Money) - 3:37
18.We Need the George Money Too (Steve Ellis, Gee) - 3:55
19 Gyupp (Courtesy Granny Granger) - 0:05

*Steve Ellis - Vocals
*Zoot Money -  Keyboards, Piano
*Nick South - Bass
*Andy Gee - Guitar
*Davey Lutton - Drums
*Jim Leverton - Bass
Additional Musicians
*Colin Allen - Percussion
*Boz Burrell  - Vocals
*Roger Chapman - Tambourine, Vocals
*Julie Driscoll - Vocals
*Gary Farr - Harmonica
*Maggie Bell - Vocals
*Mike Patto - Vocals
*Mick Weaver - Keyboards

Related Acts
1967-69  Love Affair - The Everlasting Love Affair (2005 bonus tracks edition) 
1970  Love Affair - New Day (2008 bonus tracks remaster)
1967  Dantalian`s Chariot - Chariot Rising 
1968  Zoot Money - Transition (2009 reissue)
1969  Eire Apparent - Sunrise (2010 Flawed Gems issue)

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Monday, April 16, 2018

Andy Roberts - Just For The Record The Solo Anthology (1969-76 uk, splendid folk rock with prog shades, 2005 two disc set)

Born 12 June 1946, Hatch End, Middlesex, England. Folk singer-songwriter and guitarist Roberts’ solo achievements have been overshadowed by his work on recordings by other artists. He first came to public attention after meeting BBC disc jockey John Peel in 1967. During this period Roberts accompanied the Scaffold before going on to join the Liverpool Scene in 1968. He recorded his highly acclaimed solo debut Home Grown while still a member of the Liverpool Scene. Initially released on RCA Records in 1970, the album was reissued in shortened form by B&C Records the following year. Roberts recorded two further albums in 1971; the beautiful solo album Nina And The Dream Tree continued the fine work begun on Home Grown, while Everyone was recorded with the ill-fated band of the same name, featuring Roberts, Bob Sargeant, Dave Richards and John Pearson.

In 1972 Roberts joined Plainsong with whom he recorded the highly regardedIn Search Of Amelia Earhart. He then joined former Liverpool Scene colleagues Roger McGough and Adrian Henri in the Grimms from 1973-76, during which time he appeared on their final two albums. During this period Roberts also released two further solo albums, Urban Cowboy and Andy Roberts And The Great Stampede. In 1974, he featured in his first stage musical, Mind Your Head, but thereafter concentrated on session work. He worked with Roy Harper, the Albion Band and Hank Wangford. He recorded and toured with the latter artist until 1984, but continued with other session commitments, including playing guitar on Pink Floyd’s The Wall in 1981. Roberts also provided a singing voice for UK television’s satirical puppet seriesSpitting Image from 1983-84.

From the mid-80s onwards, Roberts has been heavily involved in composing music for film, television and theatre. His flexibility is reflected in the diversity of the programmes he has composed for, ranging from television drama series such as The Men’s Room (excellent theme song sung by Sarah Jane Morris, ‘I Am A Woman’) -  to Madhur Jaffrey’s Far Eastern Cookery. In his capacity as composer, Roberts has been involved with Z Cars, Bergerac and the six-part television documentary series, Where On Earth Are We Going?, in addition to writing music for the movies Loose Connections, A Masculine Ending, Priest, Mad Love, Face, and Going Off Big Time. He also acted as musical director for the Royal Court in Sloane Square, London, during the early 80s. He has also played on countless sessions by a wealth of artists, and since the early 90s has toured and recorded with the reunited Plainsong. 
Disc 1
1. The Raven - 2:30
2. Applecross - 6:49
3. Moths And Lizards In Detroit - 5:18
4. The One Armed Boatman And The Giant Squid - 5:57
5. Creepy John (John Koerner) - 3:36
6. Home Grown - 2:53
7. Your A Machine - 4:34
8. John The Revelator (Traditonal Arr. Andy Roberts) - 2:03
9. Baby Baby - 2:16
10.Autumn To May (Peter Yarrow, Noel Paul Stookey) - 2:36
11.Queen Of The Moonlight World - 4:46
12.Lonely In The Crowd - 2:32
13.Radio Lady - 3:20
14.Dont Get Me Wrong - 4:27
15.Sitting On A Rock - 3:05
16.Gig Song - 1:47
17.Richmond - 4:51
18.Elaine - 4:23
19.Just For The Record - 3:51
20.Good Time Charlie (John Koerner) - 2:50
All songs by Andy Roberts except where stated
Disc 2
1. Keep My Children Warm - 5:01
2. I've Seen The Movie - 5:44
3. 25 Hours A Day/Breakdown/Welcome Home - 7:37
4. The Dream Tree Sequence - 15:41
5. Poison Apple Lady - 4:12
6. Urban Cowboy - 3:44
7. Living In The Hills Of Zion - 3:28
8. Charlie (Traditional Arr. Andy Roberts) - 1:29
9. Big City Tension - 4:29
10.Home At Last - 2:53
11.Home In The Sun - 3:57
12.New Karenski - 4:06
13.Bluebird Morning - 2:47
All songs by Andy Roberts except where noted

*Andy Roberts, Vocals, Acoustic, Electric Guitars, Dulcimer, Slide Dulcimer, Kriwacek String Organ
*Bob Sargeant - Vocals, Organ, Piano, Mellotron
*Dave Richards - Bass Guitar, Harmonium, Electric Piano, Backing Vocals
*John Pearson - Drums, Percussion
*Timi Donald - Drums
*Bob Ronga - Bass, Acoustic Guitar, Backing Vocals
*B.J. Cole - Pedal Steel Guitar
*John Megginson, Piano
*Mike Kellie - Drums
*Gerry Conway - Tambourine
*Charlene Collins - Backing Vocals
*Pat Donaldson - Bass
*Mike 'Ace' Evans - Bass
*Carol Grimes - Backing Vocals
*Gordon Huntley - Steel Guitar
*Neil Innes - Electric Guitar
*Mik Kaminski - Electric Violin
*Mac Kassoon - Backing Vocals
*Kathy Kissoon - Backing Vocals
*Mike London - Backing Vocals
*Iain Matthews - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Tambourine
*Zoot Money - Piano, Organ
*John Pearson - Drums
*Roger Powell - Keyboards
*Tim Renwick - Guitar, Vocals
*Ray Warleigh - Saxophone
*Ian Whiteman - Piano

Related Acts
1971  Everyone - Everyone (2011 extra tracks edition) 
1972  Plainsong - Plainsong (2013 japan remaster) 

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Sunday, April 15, 2018

Dr. Strangely Strange - Halcyon Days (1969-70 ireland, fine hippie folk psych, 2007 digipak edition)

Dr Strangely Strange were a sort of Irish hippy folk band who strode the earth for a few years up to 1971. Best known for the inclusion of their track Strangely Strange But Oddly Normal (from their first album ''Kip Of The Serenes') on the Island records sampler 'Nice EnoughTo Eat'.

They were usually compared to The Incredible String Band, which was fair comment, though DSS were often a lot more fun. They started off acoustically but by the time of their second album, 'Heavy Petting' they had embraced electric instruments on some tracks, even eventually adding a drummer.

The original plan for 'Halcyon Days' was to issue the tracks they recorded for the BBC, but this fell through. Adrian Whittaker, whose baby this project very much is, was amazed to find instead, that there were nearly enough unissued, and in some cases previously unknown, tracks to fill an album, with the band (who still exist when they feel like getting together) adding three new songs recorded last year in their original style.

And this is what we have here. The delightful Going To Phoulapouca is highly representitive of their early sound, as is HMS Avenger, the tale of a 19th Century shipwreck narrated with humour and weirdness.

Their later, rockier, sound shows up in Sweet Red Rape and Horse Of A Different Hue, then latter featuring a Santana-style intro inspired by the time DSS supported them (!). The three new songs fit perfectly too, especialy The Invisible Kid, with it's clever lyrics. Adrian's sleevenotes give a full history of the band, and a guide to the many strange characters who populate their songs.

Anyone who liked them first time round will love this album, and hopefully a whole new generation of fans will discover it and work backwards.
by Grahame Hood
1. Cock-a-Doodle-Doo (Ivan Pawle) - 4:15
2. Existence Now (Tim Goulding) - 3:50
3. Good Evening Mr. Woods (Speak of Tsao Tsao) (Ivan Pawle) - 4:15
4. Going to Poulaphouca (Tim Booth) - 2:52
5. Mirror Mirror (Ivan Pawle) - 4:12
6. Sweet Red Rape (Tim Booth) - 5:24
7. Horse Of A Different Hue (Tim Goulding) - 5:39
8. Lady Of the Glen (Ivan Pawle) - 3:54
9. HMS Avenge (Ivan Pawle)  - 5:34
10.Halcyon Days (Ivan Pawle) - 4:06
11.The Invisible Kid (Tim Booth) - 3:01
12.Le Le Rockin Sound (Tim Goulding) - 2:33
13.Cock-A-Doodle-Doo (Kip Version) (Ivan Pawle) - 3:24

Dr. Strangely Strange
*Ivan Pawle - Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, Whistle, Electric Guitar
*Tim Booth - Acoustic Guitar, Mandolin, Bass, Vocals
*Tim Goulding - Piano, Hammond Organ, One-String Fiddle, Electric Piano, Melodic, Whistle, Vocals
Guest Musicians
*Jay Myrdal – Glockenspiel
*Neil Hopwood - Percussion, Drums
*Joe Thoma - Fiddle, Mandolin
*Linus - Vocals, Percussion

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Friday, April 13, 2018

Mick Farren - People Call You Crazy The Story of Mick Farren (1967-78 us, spectacular garage psych proto punk)

The story of Mick Mick Farren? If only that were true. But one of the most ferociously determined careers of the past four decades has twisted down far too many alleyways for a single disc to sum it up. There's nothing here from either the Ork days or the Stiff EP (although there is a live version of the killer "Screwed Up"), while the latter years of the re-formed Deviants and sundry Mick Farren spin-off projects are also absent. Look back at the two Total Energy comps that appeared during 2000-2001, and the same story was told with a lot more precision by either. 

That said, what People Call You Crazy does, it does well. All three original Deviants albums are represented with undeniable highlights -- the Zappa-esque "Billy the Monster" and a superbly subversive rampage through "Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow" included. The solo Carnivorous Circus drops in that drooling rendition of "Mona" that makes every other version of the song sound anaemic, while Mick Farren's most commercial album ever, 1978's Vampires Stole My Lunch Money, delivers both "I Want a Drink" and "Half Price Drinks," by way of light relief. 

Meanwhile, 1999's The Deviants Have Left the Planet turns in a seething version of Dylan's "It's Alright Ma," another of Mick Farren's most priceless cover versions. Neither does the album lack the sense of occasion that the best of Mick Farren's work takes for granted. Rocker, poet, and author, Mick Farren is to the underground all that Patti Smith could have been to the mainstream, a voice of furious dissent that's as likely to veer off into a screaming tone poem as cut loose with a sharp riff rocker. 

Ten minutes of "Dogpoet" and isolated blasts elsewhere all lift the listener out of the seat with their ferocity -- a talent that too few other performers have ever dared employ, and the reason, perhaps, why there are so many vast gaps in Mick Farren's recorded time scale. People were usually too scared to sign him. It's the memory of that fear that makes this collection so enjoyable -- and so infuriating as well. There've been Mick Mick Farren compilations in the past; no doubt there'll be more in the future. But not one of them tells the story, no matter how adamant this set's subtitle sounds. This is just the highlights of a couple of chapters -- the full tale would take up a box set. So where is it? 
by Dave Thompson
1. Slum Lord (Sid Bishop, Mick Farren) - 2:21
2. I Want A Drink (Mick Farren, Larry Wallis) - 1:47
3. The Junior Narco Rangers (If We Gotta Get Raleigh from Chicago, We're ...)  (Paul Rudolph) - 0:29
4. Aztec Calendar (Andy Colguhoun, Mick Farren) - 4:25
5. Billy the Monster (Paul Rudolph) - 3:27
6. Garbage  (Sid Bishop, Mick Farren, Russell Hunter) - 5:38
7. Half Price Drinks  (Mick Farren, Larry Wallis) - 3:36
8. Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow (Al Frazier, John Harris, Carl White, Turner Wilson, Jr.) - 2:34
9. But Charlie It's Still Moving (Mick Farren) - 1:02
10.People Call You Crazy (Andy Colguhoun, Mick Farren) - 2:52
11.Who Needs the Egg? (Peter Daltrey, Eddy Pumer) - 3:17
12.It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)  (Bob Dylan) - 4:52
13.Rambling B(l)ack Transit Blues (Deviants) - 5:17
14.Somewhere to Go (Mick Farren, Russell Hunter, Duncan Sanderson) - 7:23
15.I'm Coming Home (Sid Bishop, Mick Farren, Russell Hunter) - 5:58
16.Drunk in the Morning (Mick Farren, Larry Wallis) - 4:09
17.Mona (The Whole Trip) (Ellis McDaniels) - 7:30
18.Dogpoet (Mick Farren) - 9:41
19.Screwed Up (Mick Farren) - 2:15

*Mick Farren – Lead Vocals, Guitar, Piano
*Sid Bishop – Guitar, Sitar
*Cord Rees – Bass, Spanish Guitar
*Russell Russell Hunter – Drums, Vocals
*Duncan Sanderson, Stephen Sparkes, Ashworth - Vocals
*Paul Rudolph – Guitar, Vocals
*M J McDonnell - Bass, Vocals
*Dennis Hughes - Organ
*Tony Ferguson - Organ
*John Gustavson – Bass
*Peter Robinson - Organ, Piano
*Steve Hammond - Guitar, Vocals
*Alan Powell – Drums
*Larry Wallis - Guitar, Bass
*Andy Colquhoun - Guitar, Bass

1967-68  The Deviants - Ptooff! / Disposable
1969  The Deviants - The Deviants 3 (japan edition)

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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Midnight Circus - Midnight Circus (1972 germany, good folk psych prog rock, 2003 remaster)

Fantastic German folk-, psych- and krautrock-album, originally released on Bellaphon/Bacillus in 1972. Midnight Circus'sole album was recorded at the famous Dierks Studio with Peter Hauke producing. Midnight Circus hailed from the surroundings of Cologne and it seems as if the idea behind Midnight Circus, a duo accompanied by session musicians, was to emulate the cosmic folk of f.i. Bröselmaschine or Witthüser & Westrupp, but with English vocals for more international appeal. It was a successful attempt, but also a touch rockier and strongly influenced by Dieter Dierks involvement in the sessions. 

The atmospheric tracks, featuring mellotron and flute, also recall The Moody Blues and early King Crimson (Freeman Brothers in 'The Crack In The Cosmic Egg'). These recordings, remastered from the master tape, include two bonus tracks taken off Midnight Circus' 1971 released 7-inch 'Coloured Is Gay' b/w 'Get It' and a latter song 'Seagull' from the vaults of the band's archive. 
1. The Light - 05:52
2. I Had A Dream - 03:29
3. November Church - 08:53
4. Mr. Clown - 02:58
5. Indian Impression - 02:17
6. Disappointed Love - 03:53
7. Meditation - 05:22
8. Coloured Is Gay - 03:03
9. Get It - 03:07
Words and Music by Christian Bollmann, Torsten Schmidt

The Midnight Circus
*Christian Bollmann - Vocals, Guitars, Trumpet, Recorders
*Torsten Schmidt - Vocals, Guitars
*Thomas Engel - Drums
*Veit Madaus - Keyboards
*Dave Crocket - Bass
*Rainer Marz - Guitar
*Jan Van Roosendahl - Guitar
*Peter Hauke - Drums, Percussion

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Man - Man (1971 uk, sensational guitar bluesy psych prog space rock, 2007 remaster with extra tracks)

The group Man evolved from the Bystanders, a mid-'60s Welsh combo whose blend of Beatlesque harmonies and blue-eyed soul yielded a number of well-received singles, most notably the progressive and poppy "Royal Blue Summer Sunshine Day." That side was indicative of the direction they would take after changing their name to Man. Perhaps due to the eponymous moniker, this album has long been mistaken as a debut effort. However, prior to this title, they had already released a pair of LPs, Revelation (1969) and the somewhat more centered and ambitious follow-up 2 Ozs. of Plastic with a Hole in the Middle (1969). By the time of this platter, Clive John (organ/piano/electric guitar/harpsichord/vocals), Deke Leonard (guitar/vocals), Martin Ace (acoustic guitar/bass guitar/vocals), Terry Williams (percussion/drums), Roger Leonard (acoustic guitar/piano/electric guitar/steel guitar/vocals), and Micky Jones (acoustic guitar/electric guitar/vocals) had settled into what most enthusiasts consider to be a seminal aggregate.

In addition to their exceptional improvisational skills, Man would display a more aggressive sound. The opening track, "Romain," instantly gels into driving blues behind Leonard's woozy steel guitar interjections. "Country Girl" is reminiscent of the New Riders of the Purple Sage, complete with a distinct West Coast county-rock lilt. Both of the extended pieces, "Would the Christians Wait Five Minutes?...The Lions Are Having a Draw" and "Alchemist" are pastiches of well-developed instrumentals, although at times they come off as somewhat dated. There is plenty of inspired interaction, however, especially on the latter song as they unleash some definitive heavy metal licks that could easily be mistaken for seminal Black Sabbath. "Daughter of the Fireplace" is another highlight as a compact and attitude-heavy rocker. [Interested parties should note that Repertoire's CD reissue of Man (2003) augments the original five cuts with the 45 rpm edits/mixes of "Daughter of the Fireplace" -- which has been amended from five-minutes-and-19-seconds to just under three minutes -- and "Country Girl [Single Version].
by Lindsay Planer
1. Romain (Martin Ace, Clive John, Micky Jones, Deke Leonard, Terry Williams) - 6:12
2. Country Girl (Martin Ace, Deke Leonard) - 3:08
3. Would The Christians Wait Five Minutes?/The Lions Are Having A Draw (Martin Ace, Micky Jones) - 12:56
4. Daughter Of The Fireplace (Deke Leonard) - 5:18
5. Alchemist (Martin Ace, Clive John, Micky Jones, Deke Leonard, Terry Williams) - 20:42
6. Daughter Of The Fireplace (Single Version) (Deke Leonard) - 3:01
7. Country Girl (First Version) (Martin Ace, Deke Leonard) 3:05

*Micky Jones - Guitars, Vocals
*Deke Leonard - Guitars, Piano, Vocals
*Terry Williams - Drums, Percussion
*Martin Ace - Bass, Acoustic Guitar
*Clive John - Organ, Piano, Guitar, Harpsichord, Vocals

1969  Man - Revelation (2009 remaster and expanded) 
1969  Man - 2 Ozs Of Plastic With A Hole In The Middle (2009 remaster) 
1972  Man - Be Good To Yourself At Least Once A Day (2007 remaster with extra tracks) 
Related Acts
1971-73  Help Yourself - Reaffirmation An Anthology (2014 Remaster) 
1973  Help Yourself - 5 (2004 release) 
1976-78  Tyla Gang - Pool Hall Punks / The Complete Recordings

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Monday, April 9, 2018

Atomic Rooster - Atomic Rooster (1970 us, stunning heavy psych prog rock, 2016 Japan Mini LP SHM remaster)

The incipient incarnation of Atomic Rooster -- with Vincent Crane (organ/vocals), Nick Graham (vocals/bass), and Carl Palmer (drums) -- was together just long enough to document its debut, Atomic Roooster (1970) -- (note: the extra O is intentional). Prior to the last-minute addition of Graham -- the only bassist Atomic Rooster ever had -- the band emerged from the remnants of the then recently defunct Crazy World of Arthur Brown. The material was primarily courtesy of Crane and consisted of heavier sides. His versatility is evident throughout the impressive array of styles ranging from the folk-inspired pastoral "Winter" to the bluesy horn arrangement heard on "Broken Wings." 

This directly contrasts driving rockers such as the album's edgy opener, "Friday 13th," or the aggressive "S.L.Y." "Decline and Fall" is a jazz-infused number boasting some exceptional if not incendiary instrumental interaction, most notably from Crane and Palmer. Lyrically, Crane reveals his penchant for dark imagery, including the fatalistic "What is the point of going on?" chorus that runs through the aforementioned "Winter" or the sexually snide "And So to Bed." Support was bolstered by strong live appearances, positive word-of-mouth, and a few significant BBC Radio sessions -- all of which resulted in Atomic Roooster making a respectable showing at number 49 on the U.K. LP charts.

By the time the platter was picked up by Elektra Records in North America, the personnel had already changed with John Cann (guitar/vocals) replacing Graham. In an interesting move, they decided that Cann should also overdub guitar parts to "S.L.Y." and "Before Tomorrow," as well as provide a new vocal to "Friday 13th." The transformation didn't end there, either, as the original running order was also significantly altered. Parties interested in hearing both should locate the 2004 reissue, as the supplementary selections feature the U.S. version(s), plus a pair of uniformly excellent selections broadcast on BBC Radio -- "Friday 13th" and "Seven Lonely Streets" (aka "Seven Streets") from Atomic Rooster's follow-up LP, Death Walks Behind You (1970). Of further historical note is that the live-in-the-studio BBC recordings were documented less than a week before the departure of Palmer, effectively ending the first lineup. 
by Lindsay Planer
1. Friday The 13th - 3:31
2. And So To Bed - 4:09
3. Winter - 6:53
4. Decline And Fall (Vincent Crane, Nick Graham, Carl Palmer) - 5:45
5. Banstead (Vincent Crane, Nick Graham, Carl Palmer) - 3:29
6. S.L.Y. - 4:43
7. Broken Wings (John Mayall) - 5:47
8. Before Tomorrow - 5:52
9. Friday The 13th - 3:28
10.Before Tomorrow - 5:47
11.S.L.Y. - 4:53
All songs by Vincent Crane except where noted
Bonus Tracks 9-12 US Versions

The Atomic Rooster
*Vincent Crane - Hammond Organ, Backing Vocals, Piano
*Nick Graham - Bass Guitar, Lead Vocals, Flute, Guitar
*Carl Palmer - Drums, Percussion, Congas, Glockenspiel
*John Du Cann - Guitar, Vocals (Tracks 9-11)

1970-72/81  Atomic Rooster - Devil's Answer / Rare Live Recordings 
Related Acts
1967-68  The Attack - About Time (2006 remaster with unreleased material)
1967-69  The Attack - Magic In The Air
1967-69  Andromeda - The Definitive Collection
1968  The Five Day Week Straw People - The Five Day Week Straw People
1970  Skin Alley - Big Brother Is Watching You (2011 two discs with unreleased material)
1972  Skin Alley - Two Quid Deal (2005 japan remaster)
1973  Skin Alley - Skin Tight

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Saturday, April 7, 2018

Artie Kaplan - Confessions Of A Male Chauvinist Pig (1972 us, extraordinary jazz blues art rock)

Artie Kaplan was born , brought up and officially educated in Brooklyn, New York. His father was a small businessman with a surpassing love for music Early Artie learned that the wide world was full of interests, different from what he was officially taught; that a man had to educate himself, a process in which he is still madly engaged. 

Turning to jazz, his youthful great heroes were Stan Kenton, Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Dizzy Gillespie and Stan Getz. He travelled round the country playing with Territory Bands, and with every other kind of band he could get into, playing every style of music put before him, always learning, trying everything. 

He {has played in the Music Business for twelve years, assisting other artists, getting ideas but learning to keep them to himself, taking part in hundreds of hit records. He has been writing for ten years, and now he regards composition seriously, which means devoting himself to it whenever he can get a free hour or two. 

Artie venerates music, thinks almost everybody working in it has something to offer the public, and especially admires the musicians working with him.  Arnie Lawrence on alto sax and Burt Collins on trumpet, he trunks are "marvellous". Vinnie Bell to him is a wonderful guitar player, Bobby Mann is another who will be heard from more, and Chris Dedrick, young, only 24, is someone to watch.
CD Liner Notes
1. Confessions Of A Male Chauvinist Pig (Artie Kaplan, Nat Simon) - 11:06
2. Bensonhurst Blues (Artie Kaplan, Artie Kornfeld) - 3:24
3. Harmony (Artie Kaplan, Nat Simon) - 3:33
4. God Fearin' Man (Artie Kaplan) - 3:34
5. Stay, Don΄T Go (Artie Kaplan, Nat Simon) - 3:18
6. Music Is Sweet Music In My Soul (Artie Kaplan, David White Tricker, Len Barry) - 3:15
7. The American Dream (Artie Kaplan, Nat Simon) - 7:10

*Arthur Kaplan - Vocals
*Richard Davis - Guitar, Bass
*Mel Lewis - Drums
*Bert Collins - Trumpet
*Chris Dedrick - Horn
*Gordon Edwards - Bass,
*Vincent Bell - Guitar
*Paul Griffin - Piano
*Arnie Lawrence - Sax Alto
*Bernard "Pretty" Purdie - Drums

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Friday, April 6, 2018

John D. Loudermilk - The Open Mind Of John D. Loudermilk (1961-68 us, magnificent trippy folk psych, 2006 remaster)

Despite the widespread if somewhat under-publicized popularity of many of his songs, it's hard to know just what to expect from John D. Loudermilk's own recordings. One of the most original songwriters in 1960s Nashville, Loudermilk penned a number of hits that have been recorded by artists ranging from Nina Simone and Norah Jones ("Turn Me On") to William Bell ("Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye"), from Johnny Cash ("Bad News") to the Flying Burrito Brothers ("Break My Mind"), and from Paul Revere and the Raiders ("Indian Reservation") to practically every delinquent garage band on the planet ("Tobacco Road"). Loudermilk himself recorded many of these and released them some forty years ago on albums with titles like The Open Mind of John D. Loudermilk, John D. Loudermilk Sings a Bizarre Collection of the Most Unusual Songs, and Suburban Attitudes in Country Verse.

Sure, there was an element of novelty-song humor to some of Loudermilk's work, but much of what's collected on this disc -- a fantastic-sounding reissue of Open Mind and almost all of Most Unusual Songs, plus some other numbers of note, twenty-seven songs in all -- reveals Loudermilk to have been a witty, pop-conscious songsmith who at his best transcended novelty and exhibited, yes, an open mind during years of uncertainty and peril. While some of what's here might seem uncomfortably obvious today, the social consciousness, the regard for life of all stripes, is often remarkable. Even if having the white male in an interracial relationship call his companion "Brown Girl" overdoes it just a bit, that Loudermilk addressed such a situation nearly 40 years ago is admirable. (It's more tactful, but considerably less rockin', than the Rolling Stones' "Brown Sugar".) Although the apparently authentic chanting in "The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian" might be cringe-inducing to the modern listener, the sentiment is hard to argue with and the performance is effectively ominous. And to contemplate the ethical problem of shooting a bird in "The Little Grave", especially in the context of a country-pop album, is a risk few songwriters then and now would be willing to take.

That Loudermilk tempers some of his commentary with humor doesn't serve to weaken it. The first track here, a musical rip-off of "Hi-Heel Sneakers" called "Goin' to Hell on a Sled", makes use of funny voices, all of the opinion that, yes, that's where the world is going if war is rampant, weed isn't just what grows in the cracks on the sidewalk, and prayer isn't allowed in schools. "The Jones'", the ones so many of us strive to keep up with, are seen as ever-present to the point that they control all forms of media. Often the humor is used to demonstrate the resilience of the characters in Loudermilk's story-songs, which typically involve various down-on-their-luck folks who manage to see the silver lining in their predicament. The drifter in "Interstate 40", a "happy son of a gun", says, "The government's given me Interstate 40 / And the good lord's give me a thumb". Ma Baker, owner of a little acre of land which she adamantly refuses to sell to the Tennessee Valley Authority, winds up with a little island where "she can float / And catch big bass from her motorboat / And when the wind ain't a-blowin' too strong / She can water-ski". And of course the singer of "Bad News" -- he who causes trouble everywhere he goes -- can at least say he's a hit with the little girls.

While the lyrical content of even the less interesting songs is above average, it's easy to miss because Loudermilk wasn't as innovative or clever in the musical department. A song like "No Playing in the Snow Today", which cautions against making contact with potentially radioactive snow, has a sickly-sweet melody, cloying background vocals, and syrupy swathes of strings, which detract from the lyrics by making the song sound utterly ordinary. At least "The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian" sports a bluesy guitar figure to counteract the obviousness of the tom-toms. In fact, it may come as something of a surprise to have to reconcile the very authentic blues feel of some of these recordings, especially "Tobacco Road" and the moan Loudermilk lets slip during the fadeout of "Interstate 40", with the photo of the bespectacled, totally Squares-ville man in the booklet. One thing's for certain: the man had impressive range, and a thorough command of rural idioms.

For the pop-music fan familiar with the hit versions of his songs, The Open Mind of John D. Loudermilk is a fine place to get acquainted with the songwriter's own recorded efforts. In terms of availability, it'll probably be easier to find than Bear Family's earlier reissues, and at seventy consistently-high-quality minutes, it's a bargain. Entertaining listening for a ride on the 21st-Century sled, too.
by Tom Useted
1. Goin' To Hell On A Sled - 2:04 
2. The Jones' - 3:17 
3. War Babies - 2:41 
4. Peace Of Heart - 2:29 
5. Sidewalks - 2:33 
6. To Ann - 1:43 
7. More Than He'll Have To Give - 2:19 
8. Poor Little Pretty Girl - 2:24 
9. Nassau Town - 2:03 
10.Geraldine - 1:35 
11.Laura - 2:43 
12.Brown Girl - 4:12 
13.To Hell With Love - 2:43 
14.Ma Baker's Little Acre - 2:26 
15.No Playing In The Snow Today - 3:37 
16.Bad News - 2:59 
17.The Little Grave - 2:16 
18.Talkin' Silver Cloud Blues (Gordon Lightfoot) - 3:49
19.I'm Looking For A World - 1:58 
20.The Lament Of The Cherokee Reservation Indian - 3:33 
21.Interstate 40 - 2:27 
22.Where Have They Gone - 1:50 
23.The Little Bird - 1:59 
24.Tobacco Road - 2:55 
25.Bubble, Please Break - 2:13 
26.It's My Time - 2:38 
27.That Ain't All - 1:52 
All songs by John D. Loudermilk except where noted

*John D. Loudermilk - Voclas, Sitar, Guitars, Organ, Bass
*Henry Strzelecki - Bass
*Forest Borders - Organ
*Jimmy Isbell - Drums
*Billy Sanford - Flat Top, Electric Guitars
*Norris Wilson - Voice
*Pete Sayers - Voice
*Boyce Hawkins - Piano
*Norris Wilson - Voice
*Don Gant - Voice
*Buzz Carson - Voice
*Bergen White - Voice
*Jerry Carrigan - Drums
*Norbert Putnam - Bass
*David Briggs - Piano
*Rick Powell - Piano
*Jerry Kennedy - Guitar
*Joseph Tanner - Guitar
*James Colvard - Guitar
*Floyd Crame - Piano
*James Stewart - Organ
*Charlie McCoy - Harmonica
*Norro Wilson - Harpsichord
*Ray Stevens - Organ
*Byron Bach, Brenton Banks, George Binkley, Howard Carpenter - Strings
*Lillian Hunt, Pamela Goldsmith, Martin Kathan - Strings
*Anita Kerr, Dorothy Ann Dillard, Luis Nunley, Bill Wright - Vocals
*Gordon Stoker, Raymond Walker, Hoyt Hawikins, Neal Matthews - Vocals

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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

McGuinn Clark Hillman - The Capitol Collection (1979-80 us, awesome country folk classic rock, three albums with bonus tracks, on a 2007 double disc set)

McGuinn, Clark & Hillman were one of a series of post-Byrds linkups between the original members that fizzled after a lot of initial promise. They were greeted with great enthusiasm in the rock press in early 1977, but -- as with the self-titled Byrds reunion album on Asylum four years earlier -- never lived up to the promise of the talents involved. Possibly it was too much to expect that they would succeed, given the shakiness of some of the personalities involved (specifically, Gene Clark, arguably the most talented songwriter of the three, who pulled out early on) and the music environment of the time, which had just sworn itself off of prog rock, burned itself out on punk rock, and worn out a fixation on disco. Absent a trio willing to make a committed effort by all three parties, which never fully happened after the debut album, they were always a day late and a dollar short in terms of getting much more than sympathetic enthusiasm from the press and attracting the loyalty of unreformed early-'70s hippies (the audience that would hang on Crosby, Stills & Nash's periodic reunions). 

What this double-CD set reminds listeners, however, is that there was some very fine, if not brilliant or groundbreaking, music generated by these guys, at least on their first two albums, when they were still more or less a trio. No, the songs -- with the exception of Clark's contributions -- weren't the finest ever written, but they were mostly catchy and had good hooks; though why is it that one feels that, say, Chris Hillman's "Stopping Traffic" would have worked better as an acoustic number by the trio? The set ends with a pair of acoustic Roger McGuinn demos that are almost worth the price of admission by themselves -- if the group could have sounded as simple and adorned in its official releases as McGuinn sounds here, it might just have had a commercial future, even as a duo. Given the on-again, off-again availability of the group's catalog on CD since the early '90s, the quality of this set is excellent, from the artwork and packaging to the sound quality, which is a significant improvement on the original LPs. They still don't sound much like the Byrds, but Byrds completists should definitely own this double-CD set, and fans of the actual trio will discover a lot that is worthwhile as well. 
by Bruce Eder
Disc 1
McGuinn, Clark And Hillman 1979
1. Long, Long Time (Chris Hillman, Ramsey, Rick Roberts) - 3:09 
2. Little Mamma (Gene Clark) - 4:21 
3. Don't Write Her Off (Bob Hippard, Roger McGuinn) - 3:21 
4. Surrender To Me (Rick Vito) - 3:40 
5. Backstage Pass (Gene Clark) - 4:29 
6. Stopping Traffic (Chri Hillman, Peter Knobler) - 3:20 
7. Feelin' Higher (Gene Clark, Jim Messina) - 5:25 
8. Sad Boy (Chris Hillman) - 4:03 
9. Release Me Girl (Gene Clark, Thomas Jefferson Kaye) - 4:00 
10.Bye Bye Baby (Bob Hippard, Roger McGuinn) - 4:01 
City 1980
11.Who Taught the Night (Chri Hillman, Peter Knobler) - 3:06 
12.One More Chance (Jacques Levy, Roger McGuinn) - 4:11 
13.Won't Let You Down (Gene Clark) - 3:59 
14.Street Talk (Chris Hillman, John Sambataro) - 2:50 
15.City (Camilla McGuinn, Roger McGuinn) - 4:40 
Disc 2 
City 1980
1. Skate Date (Camilla McGuinn, Chris Hillman, Roger McGuinn) - 3:05
2. Givin' Herself Away (Lynn Tobola, Tom Kimmel) - 3:52
3. Deeper In (Chris Hillman, Douglas Foxworthy) - 2:43
4. Painted Fire (Gene Clark) - 2:53
5. Let Me Down Easy (Chri Hillman, Peter Knobler) - 4:02
McGuinn Hillman (Mean Streets) 1980
6. Mean Streets (Chris Hillman, Douglas Foxworthy) - 2:57
7. Entertainment (Chris Hillman, Roger McGuinn) - 3:27
8. Soul Shoes (Graham Parker) - 3:16
9. Between You and Me (Graham Parker) - 3:01
10.Angel (Chris Hillman, Douglas Foxworthy) - 3:23
11.Love Me Tonight (Robbie Seidman) - 3:18
12.King for a Night (Chris Hillman, Roger McGuinn) - 3:34
13.A Secret Side of You (Will McFarlane) - 3:44
14.Ain't No Money (Rodney Crowell) - 3:35
15.Turn Your Radio On (Chris Hillman, Roger McGuinn) - 3:06
Bonus Tracks
16.Making Movies (Roger McGuinn, Chris Hillman) - 3:00
17.Surrender To Me (Rick Vito) - 2:30
18.Little Girl (Unknown) - 4:10
19.I Love Her (Camilla McGuinn, Roger McGuinn) - 2:54

Disc 1 McGuinn, Clark And Hillman 1979 Tracks 1-10
*Chris Hillman - Bass, Guitar, Vocals
*Gene Clark - Vocals
*Roger McGuinn - Guitars, Vocals
*Paul Harris - Keyboards
*Joe Lala - Percussion
*Donna Rhodes - Vocals
*John Sambataro - Guitar, Vocals
*George Terry - Guitars, Piano
*Greg Thomas - Drums
*Charles Chalmers - Vocals
*Sandra Chalmers - Vocals
*Mike Lewis - Horn Arrangements, String Arrangements
Disc 1 Tacks 11-15, Disc 2 Tracks 1-5 City 1980
*Gene Clark - Vocals
*Roger McGuinn - 12 String Guitar, Vocals
*Chuck Crane - Guitar
*Skip Edwards - Steel Guitar, Keyboards
*Chris Hillman - Guitar, Bass, Vocals
*Stephen Scott Kirkpatrick - Drums, Vocals
*John Sambataro - Guitar, Vocals
Disc 2 McGuinn Hillman (Mean Streets) 1980 Tracks 6-15
*Roger McGuinn - Electric, Acoustic, Six-String, Twelve-String Guitars
*Chris Hillman - Bass
*John Sambataro - Electric Guitar
*Wayne Perkins - Electric Guitar
*Barry Beckett - Keyboards
*Scott Kirkpatrick - Drums
*Joe Lala - Percussion

1973  Roger McGuinn - Roger McGuinn (2013 Edition)
1975  Roger McGuinn And Band - Roger McGuinn And Band (2004 extra tracks remaster)
1976  Roger McGuinn - Cardiff Rose (2013 edition)
1979  McGuinn, Clark And Hillman (2014 Japan SHM Remaster)
1967  Gene Clark - Echoes
1968-69  Dillard And Clark - Fantastic Expedition / Through The Morning, Through The Night
1971  Gene Clark - White Light
1972  Gene Clark - Roadmaster  (2011 Edition)
1976  Chris Hillman - Slippin' Away (2002 reissue)
The Byrds
1964  The Byrds - Preflyte (2012 Edition)
1968  The Byrds - Sweetheart Of The Rodeo  (Double Disc Set)
1969  The Byrds - Live At Fillmore
1971  The Byrds - Live At Royal Albert Hall
1971  The Byrds - Farther Along (Blu Spec 2014 extra tracks release)
1971  The Byrds - Byrdmaniax (2013 Japan Blu Spec edition)
1973  Byrds - Byrds (2004 issue)
Related Acts
1971-73 Manassas - Pieces (2009 release)
1972  Stephen Stills - Manassas (2006 HDCD)  
1973  Stephen Stills And Manassas - Down the Road (Japan issue)

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