fredag 18 januari 2019

Joy - Under the Spell (Psychedelic Retro-Hardrock US 2014 (Sounds like a Band From US 1969)

160:- (US pressad digipack CD med mycket bra retro-hardrock. Gillar du: MC5, Blue Cheer, Randy Holden så är detta album något för dig. Finns tyvärr inte som Mini LP. Rekommenderas starkt.)

The gnarly flows like wine all through Joy‘s Tee Pee Records debut, Under the Spell Of…, and the trio rip into an assortment of classic heavy rock jams comprised of tripped out explorations, psychedelic and organic in kind. 

A trio based out of San Diego, the bluesy circles they run offer a touch of earlier Radio Moscow, but with longer songs — all but two over six minutes and one of those is the album’s intro — Joy distinguish themselves with a raw sense of killing it for the sake of killing it, and the only real question is whether they named themselves after the joy they get in creating this sonic thrust or the joy they give crowds lucky enough to watch them do it. Maybe both.

Guest spots show up throughout Under the Spell Of…‘s eight tracks/46 minutes including Hawkwind‘s Nik Turner, Parker Griggs of the aforementioned Radio Moscow and Astra‘s Brian Ellis, who also produced, and each of them mesh smoothly with the classic power trio dynamic of guitarist/vocalist Zach Oakley, bassist Justin Holson and drummer Paul Morrone, honed over the two years since they made their self-titled, self-released debut in shows alongside the likes of Earthless, Harsh Toke and Mystery Ship. 

To wit, an early groover like “Evil” subtly draws back the initial charge of “Miles Away” and “Confusion,” setting up the later boogie of “Driving Me Insane,” which smooths progressive shifts in tempo and rhythm with tossoff-style ease. Supreme shuffle ensues, and after the quieter, semi-acoustic sojourn “Death Hymn Blues,” closer “Back to the Sun” feels like a victory lap touting the parsecs traveled since the record’s psyched-out launch in the intro “Under the Spell” and “Miles Away. 

”Under the Spell Of… doesn’t make a show of nuance, but it’s there for those who want to hear it, nestled into the airtight, live-sounding performances, particularly West Coast take on heavy psych and blown out echoes of “Miles Away,” which you can hear on the player below. Its seven minutes only comprise a small piece of what Joy have to offer, but I think you’ll find it’s almost impossible not to get lost in it once you start out, and in that, it definitely represents the spell that trio are looking to cast.

Southern California psychedelic savages JOY have signed to Tee Pee Records! The sound of JOY has been described as "a spaced-out sonic groove-ride" and "outer reach freak out", but that hyperbole alone doesn't do justice to the group's measured mode of attack. 

JOY puts a premium on establishing both structure and dynamics, its kaleidoscopic flurry and full-throttle riffage is anchored by both subtle detail and surprising textural depth. Record Collector says that JOY "take the blues about as far out as they can stretch 'em and they're far more psychedelic than a band like Blue Cheer ever was, even in their most lysergic moments," a claim that can be debated by those whom have seen JOY share the stage with acts such as Dead Meadow, Harsh Toke, Hot Lunch, Sacri Monti and at last year's well-documented west coast tour with psychedelic giants (and new labelmates) Earthless. 

The sound of JOY has been described as "a spaced-out sonic groove-ride" and "outer reach freak out", but that hyperbole alone doesn't do justice to the group's measured mode of attack. JOY puts a premium on establishing both structure and dynamics, its kaleidoscopic flurry and full-throttle riffage is anchored by both subtle detail and surprising textural depth. 

Record Collector says that JOY "take the blues about as far out as they can stretch 'em and they're far more psychedelic than a band like Blue Cheer ever was, even in their most lysergic moments," a claim that can be debated by those whom have seen JOY share the stage with acts such as Dead Meadow, Harsh Toke, Hot Lunch, Sacri Monti and at last year's well-documented west coast tour with psychedelic giants (and new labelmates) Earthless.

01. Under The Spell Of 01:36
02. Miles Away 07:03
03. Confusion 07:40
04. Evil 06:31
05. One More Time 06:16
06. Driving Me Insane 06:03
07. Death Hymn Blues 03:36
08. Back To The Sun 07:15

söndag 23 december 2018

Earth & Fire - S/T (1a Albumet UK 1970) + Bonus

330:- (UK versionen på  skivbolaget "Nepentha" från 1970. 24-Bit Remastering med gimmick konvolut. Mycket eftertraktat album, 2:a albumet som jag har haft till salu, Passa på.)

In 1970, the band released their self-entitled debut. And just to let everyone know, the one with the Roger Dean cover is not the original pressing, that was a 1971 UK pressing on the Nepentha label, and of course that's the cover used for the German Repertoire label CD reissue, as well as the newer Japanese reissue. The original Dutch LP was released on Polydor/Medium (has the same familiar red Polydor label, with the "Medium" logo under the "Polydor" logo) and featured a gimmick matchbox cover, which shows a picture of the band, and when you fold open the cover, you see matches, and a list of the songs. 

This album is less polished than their following (ie. Song of the Marching Children, Atlantis) and there's plenty of that late '60s psych elements still left. The band consisted of female vocalist Jerney Kaagman, with twin brothers Chris Koerts on guitar and Gerard Koerts on organ and flute, with drummer Ton van der Kleij and bassist Hans Ziech. This album managed three hits, "Seasons", "Ruby is the One", and "Wild and Exciting". 

"Seasons" and "Ruby is the One" featured original drummer Cees Kalis (Ton v.d. Kleij hopped on board once they started recording their debut LP), since both of those were released as a single prior to the album's release, "Seasons" being their first ever release, released at the end of 1969 ("Hazy Paradise" was the B-side, and "Mechanical Lover" was the flip side of "Ruby is the One"). "Love Quiver" is the one cut that bears a striking resemblance to Jefferson Airplane, but unlike the Airplane, you get treated with a great organ solo. 

"What's Your Name" is a laid-back acoustic piece with flute. And there's lots of times that "21st Century Show" is called "21st Century Land", because of the previous cut entitled "Vivid Shady Land", but it's actually entitled "21st Century Show". "Seasons", as mentioned, dates from 1969, and wasn't written by either of the Koerts brothers or E&F members, but George Kooysman of Golden Earring (who supported E&F, and helped them get a deal with Polydor, in which Golden Earring recorded for). "Twilight Dreamer" sounds like a precursor to "Carnival of the Animals" (from Song of the Marching Children) and near the end what sounds like the band's first ever use of a synthesizer (sounds like a Moog). "Vivid Shady Land" is a perfect example of the band still sticking to that late '60s psychedelic sound.

On the Repertoire CD reissue, you have the complete album, which ends with "What's Your Name" (track 9), and then you have a whole bunch of bonus cuts, all non-album singles, all the way up to 1976, where the band decided to go disco. You get "Hazy Paradise", "Mechanical Lover", the ever wonderful "Invitation" (one of my favorite non-album singles the band released) and the equally wonderful Mellotron-oriented "Memories". 

You also get the original single version of "Song of the Marching Children", which was released several months before the album's release, and what separates this version from the album version is Jerney Kaagman's singing sounds different. "Lost Forever" (flip side of "Storm and Thunder") and "From the End 'till the Beginning" (flip side of "Memories") are also featured. Missing here is "Tuffy the Cat" (flip side of "Love of Life"), but I guess they couldn't include that because of lack of space, thanks to all the other bonus cuts. 

Then they included two songs from where the band went disco, "Thanks For the Love" (1975) and "What Difference Does it Make" (1976), complete with strings, horns and hi-hats. Unfortunately Earth & Fire fell victim in the late '70s by recording increasingly commercial material, and you know it's time to run when comparisons to ABBA start surfacing (but it didn't hurt the band in terms of success, although it's understood that most prog rock fans don't usually bother with much anything they released after 1975). Regardless, this CD is a wonderful historical document, not just for the debut, a great album that shows even better things to come, but you get lots of non-album singles as well.

01. Wild and Exciting
02. Twilight Dreamer
03. Ruby Is the One
04. You Know the Way
05. Vivid Shady Land
06. 21th Century Land
07. Seasons
08. Love Quiver
09. What's Your Name

10. Hazy Paradise
11. Mechanical Lover

lördag 6 oktober 2018

Strawbs - Selftitled (Great 1st Folkrock UK 1969)

300:- (SHM-CD Limited Remaster Edition. Deras första album med original konvolut, dvs, vik upp albumet och ta ut disken innefrån konvolutet. Endast detta exemplar i lager.)

Anyone waiting the debut album of their much beloved folk trio must have been pretty surprised by what they got on the Strawbs "Tie Salad" album when it finally emerged in June 1969. It was a big jump from the repertoire of the two besuited guitarist/vocalists and double bass player who honed their skills playing first mainly bluegrass, with a touch of trad folk, in the clubs and pubs of West London (usually after work, hence the suits). Whilst the later sixties saw them featuring predominantly self-written material and fronting their own club and Arts Lab in Hounslow's White Bear pub, the gatefold album from major US label A&M's first UK signings went well beyond all of that, a foretaste of just how far their music would progress and develop over the years.

As aficionados will recall, on the strength of "Oh How She Changed"/"Or Am I Dreaming", the Strawbs now had their big advance from A&M and had set about making an album with very big ideas - a full-blown pop extravaganza, with some real nods to the Beatles (not least recruiting for the sessions cellist Lionel Ross who played on "I Am The Walrus").

So the boys headed for the studio and recorded a number of songs (some of which they'd already recorded with Sandy Denny in Copenhagen) which were to be connected together by brief spoken word pieces. But then – two bits of bad luck: first, Simon & Garfunkel beat them to the punch with Bookends, which employed the same connecting device so out went the links (apart from the intro to "Jesus" which survived the cull; secondly, the A&M people didn't like what they'd done! 

Having heard the first single A&M thought the boys were a gentle folky/acoustic slightly psychedelic outfit and weren't at all prepared for the full-on pop onslaught which was Dave and Tony's pride and joy. So back to the drawing board, some of the more pop-oriented tracks got sidelined and the boys headed back into the studio to record some additional songs more in keeping with the label's expectations.

Now, until the CD release of the Strawberry Sampler, which collected together those lost tracks, it was difficult to share what might have been, but now it is possible. So firstly I'll review the album as released and then in a subsequent mail, I'll review the "lost" album as I believe it may have first been presented to A&M execs.

The album as released starts out at a pretty frenetic pace – "Jesus", opening with the only retained spoken word piece – then-unknown actor Richard Wilson doing his Cockney vox pop over a traffic noise background. Thrashing acoustic guitars well up as he draws to a close, followed by a thudding electric bassline, pounding drums from Ted Heath Band drummer Ronnie Verrell and sidesman Nicky Hopkins' piano. As the story unfolds, they are joined by Alan Parker's fuzz guitar, first wailing, then distorted guitar then both. And that last long drawn-out sustained fuzz chord … blimey! Real power and energy delivered with astonishing conviction. And, being one of the earlier Strawbs songs from the old White Bear days, "Jesus" could have been one of the folkier numbers, but no, this is a cracking rock song despite its folk club origins.

(I have to confess that I'd always thought that this one featured Led Zepp's John Paul Jones on bass, but according to the personnel listings on By Choice - where it was remastered – it credits Alan Weighell on bass – in any event you do wonder what Ron Chesterman was doing whilst this was all going on …)

Next, one of my favourites and a change of pace. Visconti's recorded and strings presaging the cello-heavy folk motif of Dragonfly (unsurprising in that it came from the final sessions), but this time with more elaborate orchestral support. The central focus is however the weaving guitar figure, underlaid with Chesterman's jazzy double bass (in many ways Ron was essentially a jazz player who got beached in the folk world). And that last verse -

"And my life is yet determined
By the span of what it holds
And the span grows ever shorter
As my lifetime folds away."

What I love most is that perky closing instrumental – I don't know what musical form (can anyone tell me) – an intricate counterpoint of recorder, double bass and guitars. Acoustic Strawbs – one crying out for your three guitar treatment, methinks.

"All The Little Ladies" is a Cousins/Hooper collaboration, with a stop/start variable tempo, pared back to the basic three-piece – two guitars and bass. One of Cousins' typical "story songs" of the period, in my view capturing perfectly the twilight world of sadness and loneliness these genteel aging ladies inhabited, a crystallised picture of sixties middle England, just like "How Everyone But Sam Was A Hypocrite".

Another favourite – "Pieces Of 79 And 15", again co-written by Dave and Tony, gives Tony Hooper given his first lead here, over the boys' guitars/double bass plus some lush, swooping Visconti orchestration, very Beatles IMHO. The swelling harmonies and separate parts remind me of "On My Way" and "All I Need Is You" on the Copenhagen recordings – and I've always particularly loved the understated Cousins line "pieces of people and places" which comes just after the middle eight instrumental – just before the backing sweeps across from one speaker to the other, again, very Beatles stereo trickery in style. The only faults for me are that the song isn't longer (an extra verse or reprise or two wouldn't have gone amiss) and that rather than having an ending, it sort of tapers out. Small caveats in relation to such a splendid song.

Plucked from the Omar Khayyam Arab restaurant off Oxford Street, so the story goes, (no doubt where Cousins and Hooper had enjoyed some good garlicky meals, as was their wont in those days) Nosrati and his Arab friends provide eastern fiddle and percussion backing for "Tell Me What You See In Me", a perfect foil for Cousins' open tuned guitar and vulnerable if understated vocals (maybe one of the tracks where producer Gus Dudgeon and Cousins argued over the volume level for the vocals – myself, I'd certainly have pushed them up a bit, particularly on the last verse where they do get a bit buried in the mix and it sounds like Dave sang it over the phone!). But the chorus has sweet Tony and Dave harmonies which couldn't be bettered, sitting just under the main Cousins vocal. Not certain again whether Ron had much of a role in this recording though he may be in there somewhere as he had been when this was recorded before, but it sounds like Nosrati had his own bass instrument in there too.

So, that very first Strawbs moment on vinyl: the single "Oh How She Changed". Harmonics, strings, then the pure voice of Tony Hooper – possibly his finest moment ever with the Strawbs. Cousins brings in harmonies on every other line and the first chorus line has a folky descant behind it. Then guitars, drums, tympani and Visconti's striking orchestral arrangement takes the whole thing to a new peak. The drums and cymbals are little distorted – no doubt recorded right up there in the red to get the biggest possible contrast between the sweet quiet sections and the noisy dramatic ones. Then another quiet section, the chorus again with strings backing, finally mounting to the closing "round" harmony chorus, with a swelling roll of tympani providing a stirring and abrupt ending. A truly remarkable track and a stunning first single, though I'd still argue that it was more "pop" than "folk", whatever the A&M folks said.

"Or Am I Dreaming" was more in the folky/psychedelic mould with not terribly deep, slightly trippy lyrics, gently delivered over the band plus lush Visconti strings, with woodwind, triangle (?) and the showband-style drummer underpinning it the whole thing , tap tap tap on the cymbals. Even then, in the middle eight both orchestration and percussion gather pace and the piece veers more towards pop than folk. Satellites were big in the pop world in the 60s and the lyrical style was much more redolent of some of the Copenhagen recordings than the more recent and much sharper material Dave was now writing) - Strawbs "Lite", definitely.

That riff on "Where Is This Dream Of Your Youth" is for me one of Cousins best intros ever, and I'd love to see Acoustics take this song apart and reconstruct it - with Cousins and Lambert on vocals it could work a treat, and maybe even Brian would sing (or maybe not ....).

Joined by hand drums, cymbals and drums and soon piano, there are weird vocal delays, oohs and aahs which make up a rich underlay. Then the end of the first verse and the striking multi-part closing line, modelled on the four part unaccompanied folk harmonies of the Young Tradition, but set against a backdrop of almost jazz-rock as the piano player takes the off-beat and the drums strike a similar note. (I think the piano player was from the Ted Heath Band, though it COULD have been Nicky Hopkins again or Alan Hawkshaw on keys - there seems to be an electric bass player in there rather than Ron, again making it most likely that this was recorded whilst the Ted Heath Band guys were around.) Another track where I think Gus Dudgeon did Cousins' lead vocal no favours in terms of volume. 

There's supposed to be an alternate mix of this knocking around too, but I've not heard it. The last four vocal lines build and build until the final echo-laden note of the chorus. Then the jazz players strike up the riff once more and play out to the end. Excellent.

Never a favourite of mine, the story song "Poor Jimmy Wilson" suffers from a trite set of words requiring Dave to adopt a slightly unnatural vocal phrasing. The instrumentation seems a bit twee, relying over heavily on the Visconti recorders, this time slightly overdone I feel. Apparently it originally had a much darker ending with Jimmy being befriended by a bloke on the common and never being heard from again, but I'd find it hard to mourn his loss. This is probably the track I'd have dropped from the album to reinstate one of the pop tunes - a much better story song would have been the unusually arranged "How Everyone But Sam", but more of that in the next installment.

No such reservations about the next track, probably my favourite on the album. The opening segment "Where Am I" has guitars and bass (and later tinkling top-end piano) behind Tony's beautifully sweet vocal. This echoes and fades and the song segues into the unusual open tuning guitars of "I'll Show You Where To Sleep" (unusual in that it involves the fingers of the left hand blocking the frets from above not below the guitar, apparently picked up Cousins from Joni Mitchell). Nice Cousins vocals on the first verse with multi-tracked harmonies from the two. The second verse and chorus proceeds in unison and chimes provide a nice pastoral backdrop for the middle eight. And lastly the third verse has Dave and Tony alternating between singing in unison and Dave striking out alone, again with oohs and aahs underneath. Again, like "79 & 15", over all too soon, and could have had more of an ending.

And finally, six and a half minutes of "The Battle", the first of many Cousins "epic" Strawbs tracks – a real harbinger of things to come, including the mellotron-soaked prog epics of the mid seventies. The song is on one level a description of a game of chess and on another the expression of Cousins' rejection of war and racial hatred; it succeeds on both. For many, it was the defining song on the album, enjoying good airplay and such an extremely positive media response that a single release was briefly contemplated (both almost unthinkable in the era of the three minute pop tune).

The orchestration is stunning, heavily featuring cello – presumably "Walrus" session man Lionel Ross and the whole thing pays homage (particularly in the alternate mix – see below - have I got you interested then ?) to the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby". (Could the recruitment a few months later of a full time cello player in Claire Deniz really have been that much of a surprise ?).

The music frequently describes the lyrical content: a flail on the acoustic guitars is intended to be the Bishop's men shivering in the damp and the trembling horses sensing fear, whilst the organ mimics the "headlong flight into the moat" of a soldier. Later, the brass section careers round the soundspace as the queen who "runs screaming round the walls" urging the men to fight.

Opening with just Dave's acoustic guitar, he's quickly joined by church-like organ, plaintive cello, double bass and marching brass. Martial drums join in with the second verse and Tony begins to support Dave on vocals. After the plainsong harmony communion, staccato organ stabs depict the rooks taking flight. The carnage of battle builds and builds, the brass section like a trumpet call, Dave's vocal becoming more bitter and strident. Then, the closing verses quieten down, with haunting strings balancing the acoustic guitars, reflecting the calm of the battle's aftermath, as those who are left lick their wounds and thank God for their survival. Appropriately therefore, Dave and Tony both sing the last verse, the last half of which takes on a churchy feel with multi-tracked plainsong harmonies and echoing ethereal organ. The track ends with the fading noise of the wind over the battlefield (I hear an echo, eight years later in the ending to "Beside The Rio Grande").

After the recording of the tapes which would eventually be released as All Our Own Work (and later Sandy And The Strawbs), Dave Cousins set out to find a UK record label (they were signed to Danish Sonet Records). However, Sandy Denny then decided to join Fairport Convention. US label A&M were just starting up a London office, and Sonet's head, Karl Knudsen, played a copy of the Sandy tapes to a A&M's Dave Hubert, who in turn sent it over to Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss. 

As a result the Strawbs became the first UK band signed to the label. They quickly recorded a single "Oh How She Changed"/"Or Am I Dreaming", which was produced by Gus Dudgeon (who lived upstairs from Tony in his Haverstock Hill flat - the subject of the song "Pieces Of 97 And 15") and arranged by Tony Visconti, newly arrived from the US. It proved quite popular, they appeared on Tony Blackburm's TV show and then settled down to make an album, with the same team.

The album they initially put together was a pop masterpiece, Gus Dudgeon had booked countless session musicians including John Paul Jones on bass and Nicky Hopkins on piano, as well as a 32 piece orchestra for some of the big ballad numbers that Sandy originally sang. Cousins retaliated by getting an Arab band ("Norati and his Arab Friends") from a restaurant to come in and play on "Tell Me What You See In Me".

However, when played to Hubert and A&M's SVP Gil Friesen, the reaction was bluntly negative - thought they'd signed progressive folkies rather than pop hopefuls, and, despite having spent large wedges of cash (an advance of £30,000 in all, the most expensive album since Sergeant Pepper) already, the Strawbs went back to the studio to record some more tracks. The album as released received critical acclaim, and didn't do badly on a commercial basis, 25,000 copies in the UK. The single from the album "The Man Who Called Himself Jesus" was, predictably, banned by the BBC.

Outtakes from the intial sessions appeared on the limited pressing Strawberry Sampler No. 1 along with some other demos and rarities.

Line-up - Musicians
Dave Cousins - vocals, guitars
 Tony Hooper - vocals, guitars
 Ron Chesterman - double bass

 Tony Visconti - "Musical vibrations"

01. The Man Who Called Himself Jesus (3:41) 
02. That Which Once Was Mine (2:48) 
03. All The Little Ladies (2:15) 
04. Pieces Of 79 And 15 (2:56) 
05. Tell Me What You See In Me (4:58) 
06. Oh How She Changed (2:50) 
07. Or Am I Dreaming (2:25) 
08. Where Is This Dream Of Your Youth (3:04) 
09. Poor Jimmy Wilson (2:33) 
10. Where Am I / I'll Show You Where To Sleep (3:25) 
11. The Battle (6:30)

Bonus tracks
12. Interview - That Which Once Was Mine (3:41) *
13. Poor Jimmy Wilson (2:28) *
14. The Battle (6:09) *

* Recorded for John Peel's "Top Gear" BBC Radio One Show, 12th January, 1969.

måndag 10 september 2018

Outsiders - The Outsiders (Netherland 1967 + Bonus CD (Singlar)

290:- (24-Bit Limited Remaster Edition, Netherland 1967 (2CD) Psychedelic garagerock. CD2 innehåller bl.a. deras singlar. För 1:a gången utgiven som Mini LP. Endast 1 ex. i lager.)

Cleveland, Ohio's the Outsiders enjoyed a few chart hits in the mid-'60s, but their Dutch namesakes (who never released a record in the United States during their years together, despite the fact they wrote and sang in English) managed something a bit more remarkable during their time together. The Amsterdam-based combo were one of the most popular homegrown bands in the Netherlands from 1965 to 1967, and have since become a favorite among historians of the beat music era; Richie Unterberger wrote that the Outsiders "could issue a serious claim for consideration as the finest rock band of the '60s to hail from a non-English-speaking nation," and Richard Mason penned an essay on the group calling them "the most underrated band ever." 

The Outsiders were formed in 1964 by Wally Tax (vocals and rhythm guitar), Ronald Splinter (lead guitar), Appie Rammers (bass), and Lendert "Buzz" Busch (drums); the band embraced an eclectic style that made room for R&B, folk-rock, pop, and beat influences, as well as psychedelic accents as the decade wore on. After earning a reputation as a powerful live act (and adding additional guitarist Tom Krabbendam), the Outsiders made their recoding debut in 1965 with "You Mistreat Me" b/w "Sun's Going Down," which was released by the Muziek Express label. Both songs were originals, and the Outsiders were unusual among beat groups of the era in that they never recorded cover tunes. 

As the band's reputation as a striking live act grew (their show was frantic enough to get them banned from several major venues), the Outsiders found themselves opening for many leading U.K. beat groups touring the Netherlands, including the Pretty Things and the Rolling Stones, and after releasing a second single for Muziek Express, they signed a deal with Relax Records. After a handful of singles and an EP, they released their first full-length album in 1967, simply called The Outsiders, which featured one side of studio recordings and another taken from live performances. 

That same year, the single "Summer Is Here" b/w "Teach Me to Forget You" went Top Ten in the Netherlands, and a second album that compiled the group's single sides was issued. In 1968, Tom Krabbendam and Appie Rammers left the group; Frank Beek was recruited to play bass and keyboards, and the band opted not to replace Krabbendam. The same year, Relax Records was absorbed by Polydor, who released the third Outsiders album, CQ. 

Named for an amateur radio term meaning "Is anyone listening?," CQ was an ambitious set that combined the band's beat music influences with outré psychedelia and avant-garde sounds that were far ahead of the curve for the era. However, Polydor failed to promote the album properly -- the initial pressing was reportedly a mere 500 copies -- and the Outsiders disbanded in 1969. Ronnie Splinter dropped out of the music business, while Wally Tax and Lendert Busch started a new band, Tax Free. The Outsiders staged a successful reunion tour in 1997, but the group's story came to a permanent close with the death of Wally Tax in 2005.

Their super-raw debut album, a few songs of which were recorded live. Some of this is too melodically primitive and clumsy to survive the ages, but tracks like "Filthy Rich," "Won't You Listen," and "If You Don't Treat Me Right" are comparable to little else of the era with their savage, Pretty Things-on-speed mood and hyper-fast tempos.

01. STORY 16 

09. TOUCH 

söndag 9 september 2018

Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thorntorn - She's Back (US Blues 1951-57)

270:- (24-Bit Limited Remaster US Blues, very rare tracks + Bonus 1951-57)

Everything about Willie Mae 'Big Mama' Thornton was Big. She was a big woman with a big voice, a big harmonica sound, a big stage presence and a big hit record. Her version of Leiber and Stoller's 'Hound Dog' sat on top of the R&B chart for seven weeks in 1953, but that achievement was overshadowed by the worldwide impact of the Elvis version released in 1956. When she wrote the tour de force number 'Ball and Chain', it became the song that launched the worldwide career of Janis Joplin, and Big Mama was left in the shadows again.

When Big Mama was small, she sang with her mother in the Alabama church where her father was the minister. In 1941, the 14 year old Willie Mae moved to Georgia to join The Harlem Hot Review which afforded her seven years in which she polished her singing and her stagecraft as the Revue toured the South. Finally she settled in Houston, Texas appearing on the club scene as an accomplished singer, a fine harmonica player and a solid drummer. She signed for Don Robey's Peacock Records in 1951, scoring a regional hit with 'Partnership Blues'.

Like many Texas based artists, Willie Mae had contacts in Los Angeles and while she was there, she was given the song, 'Hound Dog' by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. She recorded the track in 1953 with Johnny Otis, who claimed a writing credit on this version, and it was the biggest R&B record of the year. Despite this monster hit, Willie Mae never really troubled the charts again, even though she issued a steady stream of good records on Peacock, such as 'I Smell a Rat' and 'Stop Hoppin' On Me', and she also toured extensively with various R&B packages. When she was back in Houston in 1954, Willie Mae was a witness to the accidental death of rising young pianist/singer Johnny Ace, who had shared a duet with her on 'Yes Baby'. He was waving a pistol around backstage, and may have been quite drunk when he put the gun to his head and blew his own brains out.

In 1961, Willie Mae relocated to the San Francisco Bay area where she was a fixture at the local Blues clubs. In 1965 she toured Europe with the Folk/Blues Festival and in London she recorded a live album with the Muddy Waters Blues Band. She repeated the idea back in SF with the Chicago Blues Band, both albums appearing on the Arhoolie label. 'Ball and Chain' was the title track of her 1968 album, a powerful Blues on the pains of love that Willie Mae wrote herself. It was immediately picked up by Janis Joplin and recorded as the stand-out track on Big Brother and the Holding Company's breakthrough album. Once again her finest work was usurped by an iconic white artist, and her version largely overlooked in popular memory.

Willie Mae put out further albums with Mercury, 'Stronger Than Dirt' and 'The Way it Is' around the turn of the decade. 

She continued to work the Festival circuit throughout the seventies, and a sudden burst of recording activity in 1975 saw her release two live albums 'Sassy Mama' and 'Jail'. 

The latter was recorded at sessions in two north-western prisons, and features a long laid-back version of 'Ball and Chain'. Drinking was starting to take a toll on Willie Mae's health, and she began to lose weight, becoming positively scrawny compared to the statuesque figure she cut in her prime. She died alone in a Los Angeles rooming house from a heart attack in 1984. It was a sad end for a genuine Blues talent whose best work was never given the credit it deserved.



torsdag 31 maj 2018

Various Artist - Whaam Records 1981-84 (UK 1984)

270:- (24-Bit Limited Remaster Edition. Samlings albums som släpptes 2008 på "Vinyl Japan Label" med totalt 23 låtar. 1:a exemplaret som jag har haft till salu sedan 2008.)

Compliation albums! Never really given the same kudos as 'proper' studio albums or even 'Live' albums, and yet....there have been a few Compilation albums that have surpassed even the greatest of all studio albums; Lenny Kaye's 'Nuggets' of course, the magisterial 'Pillows & Prayers' and virtually anything on Sarah Records or Bam-Caruso.

But, as far as I am concerned, the most important Comp in my record buying lifetime simply has to be Dan Treacy's Whaam Records catch-all 'All For Art....And Art For All'. This record is one of the very few that ABSOLUTELY changed my life!!

'All For Art....' was released in the Summer of 1984, but I didn't find it till the December of that year. I was going through a 60s psychedelic phase at the time, and when I found this in the record racks I assumed with it's images of Andy Warhol, band names like The Laughing Apple, and song titles like 'Only The Sky Children Know' that this was a collection of obscure 60s tracks. On first play, when I realised it was a contemporary collection, I was a little disappointed, but very quickly the thrill of the music took me over.

This album is bookended by TWO of my Top 10 Favourite songs OF ALL TIME....two EPICS that still make my heart flutter and my head reel furiously....but we'll get to them later.

First, let's deal with The Mixers....their first track on the album, 'Never Find Time' thwacks along driven by a snapping snare that conjures up a tooth-coroding mix of The Jam and The Honeycombs...and is every bit as sweet. Later they serve up 'Love Hurts' laced through with acidic Lalala's....a song SO 1960s it's wearing Cuban Heels.

Next up, The Page Boys.....and a song called 'Honey'. Anachronistic contemporary drum machines and Casio-like keyboards are swept away by a recurring 'Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah' motif (starting to get the picture?). A song that manages to sound 60s and 80s in the same three minutes. 

Tangerine Experience's 'Only The Sky Children Know' probably sounds exactly like you imagine. Like some huge Prog Rock anthem played by sussed's a gigantic, multi-hued explosion of psychedelic wibblery.
It's left up to The Pastels to follow it up. Aaaaah....The Pastels!!! Here sounding SO young, pale and undernourished it's a wonder social services weren't called. 'I Wonder Why' is a song so fey you want to give it a mug of soup! But it's beauty is every bit as comforting.

Ex-Swell Map Jowe Head follows up with 'Lolita', a weird melange of whistling, fractured vocals and erratic guitar playing. It's the kind of song that could probably give David Tibet nightmares. He appears later with a track called 'February' which is even stranger. Like an underwater medieval folk took me YEARS to appreciate his contributions to the album, I was probably just too young at the time.

The Direct Hits contribute two of the very best tracks on the album, 'Girl In The Picture' and 'What Killed Aleister Crowely'. 'GITP' is a beautifully crafted pop song of pure unrequited love as the vocalist sits in his room fantasising about the titular Girl. It could also be about stalking!! I love the swooshy phasing effect on this track. '...Aleister Crowely...' is another perfectly produced mini-masterpiece which ends with the threatening "I can see through Aleister Crowely's eyes..." I have to confess I didn't know who Crowely was at the time I bought the album, and finding out obviously changed the entire song for me.

Dan Treacy's hand is, obviously, all over this record, from producing it, designing the sleeve, running the label, and being the main man in The Television Personalities and it is they who bring Side One to an end with the wondrous 'The Dream Inspires'. I've often wondered if this is a song about Oxford, but it is SO good that who really cares?

On to Side Two:
Kicking off with The Mad Hatters, 'Dancing With The Dead' is almost pure fact the intro is reminiscent of (the then psychedelic) Status Quo's 'Ice In The Sun'. 

Acoustic strumming, a harp, and the most tremulous voice imaginable...yes, it's Jed Dmochowski and his beautifully fragile lament 'I'm Sad'.

Then comes The Laughing Apple and the brilliant, vibrant, amphetamine hit of 'Wouldn't You', featuring on vocals Alan McGee....yes, THAT Alan McGee. The Laughing Apple would later change it's name to Biff Bang Pow and re-record 'Wouldn't You' in a rather over-produced fashion. This is the better version.

The Gifted Children are next with the brilliant 'My Favourite Films', a song that manages to namecheck Malcolm MacDowell, Albert Finney, Tom Courtney, Oliver Reed, Carol White, Wendy Craig and Rita Tushingham. What? No Terence Stamp or Julie Christie?

Which leaves us with the BIG TWO!
The opening track on this album is 'In The Afternoon' by The Revolving Paint Dream; this is, as I've said, one of my favourite songs of all time. It begins quietly enough with what sounds like the oldest, tinniest drum machine, punctuated with occasional LOUD snare whacks. On top of this is a cyclical guitar pattern, and then the vocals kick in; "Dont Go..." they beg, DRENCHED in echo and reverb. The verse builds and builds until it collapses under it's own overwroughtness into the chorus "In the afternoon....we made love" The song is full of snatches of impassioned pleading, "Sometimes feelings go beyond words....and I don't feel real at all", "Maybe I could make it better?", "Now this lust was always love" "When she goes away....." Eventually the voices become so overlapping and echoey it begins to sound like a Gregorian Chant and becomes so loud in the mix, it distorts....or that could just be my copy! The Revolving Paint Dream would later release a proper album of their own with a re-recorded version of this track complete with female lead vocals....but THIS is the ABSOLUTE mutt's plums!!! It can still make me cry even just writing about it.

The album ends with another Television Personalities track 'Happy All The Time', and WHAT an incredible song!! "She paints an earthquake" Dan mutters at the start before we're off into another cyclical guitar pattern, heavy drums and weird keyboard effects. It's a song about unhappiness, maybe even depression; "Ha ha ha said the clown// As he fell down// And the audience laughed and cheered//But they never saw the tears" sings Dan before the mighty chorus; "And I'm just looking for rainbows//In a star filled sky//And I'm just waiting for the sun to shine//I remember somebody told me//That God is yours and mine//But nobody ever told me that pigs could fly".

After about three minutes the song ends, then comes a bunch of weird noises, the sound of a tape being rewound, and then three false re-starts before the song goes back into the chorus. If Jean Luc Godard ever produced a pop record, THIS is what it would sound like. The false starts and weird edits give the song a poignancy that has stuck with me for almost 25 years now.

This album would always make my list of Top 10 Albums Of All Time, even if it just had those two tracks on it.

The album has never been properly re-issued on CD, but a grab-bag of all of Whaam! Records output was released under the title of 'Whaam Bam Thank You Dan' which contains a good 75% of the tracks that appeared on this album.

01. Revolving Paint Dream - In The Afternoon
02. Television Personalities - I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives
03. The Mixers - Never Find Time
04. The Page Boys - You're My Kind Of Girl
05. Tangerine Experience - Only The Sky Children Know
06. Direct Hits - Too Shy
07. Television Personalities - The Dream Inspires
08. The Marble Staircase - Still Dreaming
09. 1000 Mexicans - The Art Of Love
10. The Mad Hatters - Dancing With The Dead
11. Jed Dmochowski - Part Of The World
12. Laughing Apple - Wouldn't You?
13. Television Personalities - Bike
14. The Page Boys - In Love With You
15. Direct Hits - Naughty Little Boys
16. The Gifted Children - My Favorite Films
17. The Marble Staircase - Dark Ages
18. Television Personalities - I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives 2
19. The Mixers - Love Hurts
20. The Gifted Children - Painting By Numbers
21. 1000 Mexicans - News Of You
22. Television Personalities - No One's Little Girl
23. Direct Hits - What Killed Aleister Crowley?

fredag 11 maj 2018

Savoy Brown Blues Band - Shake Down (1st Album UK Blues 1967)

270:- (24-Bit Limited Remaster Edition. Laminerat konvolut samt Decca originaletikett. Utgången Utgåva sedan länge.)

Most Savoy Brown aficionadoes are aware that Kim and Co released their first album in England only in 1967, that it was called Shake Down, and that most Americans have heard very little of this album, probably only the two cuts featured on the compilation Savoy Brown Chronicles. The true SB fan might have to search far and wide to find a copy, as with Jack the Toad, the later, pub-rocking Savoy Brown album now considered a classic. 

Well, friends, start searching again, because I have recently unearthed a copy of this excellent album, and believe me, it's worth searching for!! Kim assembled a multiracial band in 1965/66 and by 1967 had recorded Shake Down. It's a traditional blues album that is very reminiscent of Getting to the Point, SB's second album (first in America) that is much better known than this one.

Shake Down consists mostly of blues covers, save one excellent instrumental, "Doormouse Rides the Rails", featuring the band's first-rate second guitarist, Martin Stone. His interplay with SB guru Kim Simmonds on such tracks as "It's All My Fault," "Shake 'Em on Down," and especially on the traditional blues opus "Black Night" are among the high points of the album. 

Singer Bryce Portius (one of the first blacks to front a British blues band) has a somewhat limited vocal style, but it works very well for this material. His highlights include the Howlin' Wolf classic "I Ain't Superstitious," and the Willie Dixon-penned tune, "Little Girl". Kim is already showing maturity beyond his teenage years in terms of track selection and musical direction; as a guitarist, he shows his chops very nicely on "Shake 'Em On Down," already clearly grasping the less-is-more concept that makes for great blues.

His playing in these early years is still somewhat limited, otherwise we'd be looking at a timeless classic. Special thanks to Denis in St. Petersburg, Russia, for helping me to obtain this underappreciated gem. Now that Kim handles his own record distribution (through his new label, Panache Records), perhaps he would consider rereleasing Jack the Toad, Lion's Share, and of course this album in the United States to satisfy his legion of fans. Until then, please pursue this album diligently; it's a blues gem that will have you shaking it on down with the best of them!!!

Limited edition Japanese only reissue of the 1967 album has been fully remastered with the origianal tracks and comes in a miniature LP sleeve. Decca. 2005.

Released September 1967
Recorded Mid 1967 at Decca Studios, West Hampstead, North West London

Brice Portius – vocals
 Kim Simmonds – lead and rhythm guitar
 Martin Stone – lead and rhythm guitar
 Ray Chappell – bass
 Leo Mannings – drums, percussion
 Bob Hall – piano (on "I Ain't Superstitious", "Little Girl", "Shake 'Em On Down")

01. "I Ain't Superstitious" (Willie Dixon) – 3:25
02. "Let Me Love You Baby" (Dixon) – 3:00
03. "Black Night" (Jessie Mae Robinson) – 4:47
04. "High Rise" (Beverly Bridge, Sonny Thompson, Freddie King) – 2:44
05. "Rock Me Baby" (B.B. King, Joe Josea) – 2:56
06. "I Smell Trouble" (Deadric Malone) – 4:28
07. "Oh! Pretty Woman" (Albert King) – 2:28
08. "Little Girl" (Dixon) – 1:38
09. "The Doormouse Rides the Rails" (Martin Stone) – 3:32
10. "It's My Own Fault" (John Lee Hooker) – 4:55
11. "Shake 'Em On Down" (Traditional, arranged by Bob Hall & Savoy Brown) – 6:00