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Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Ides Of March - Last Band Standing The Definitive 50 Year Anniversary Collection (1965-2015 us, amazing colorful blend of music, 2015 four discs box set)

“Beware the ides of March,” goes the famous admonition.  Thankfully, Jim Peterik, Larry Millas, Bob Bergland and Mike Borch didn’t heed the warning.  Formed in Berwyn, Illinois in 1965 as the Shon-Dels, The Ides of March are still going strong 50 years later with their brassy blend of good-time rock and roll, R&B, pop and soul epitomized on the 1970 hit single “Vehicle.”  These rock and roll survivors and local legends around the Chicago scene have recently assembled a definitive box set tracing their career from the spring of 1965 to the present day.  The aptly-titled Last Band Standing, released on the group’s own Ides of March Records label, features four CDs and one DVD in a numbered, 500-unit limited edition slipcase signed by the band members.  This set packs a powerful punch, and should let everybody else in on the secret that Chicago’s known for years: that The Ides of March is one hell of a great band!

From their early days playing sock hops and clubs around Chicago, Peterik (lead vocals/lead guitar), Millas (keyboards/guitar/bass/vocals), Borch (drums/percussion/vocals) and Bergland (bass/saxophone/vocals) developed the Ides’ sound from roots in Hollies and Kinks-inspired white R&B.  During the crucial years leading to the group’s major-label signing with Warner Bros., Peterik was finding his own voice as a songwriter, too, honed from years of performing covers of songs by James Brown, The Beatles, Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs, and later, Traffic and the Buffalo Springfield.

After kicking off with three high-octane new songs in tasty retro-modern arrangements (including the title track, featuring guitar from guest Steve Cropper), the first disc of Last Band Standing jets back to the mid-sixties with all of the Ides’ singles for Epitome (their own label), Parrot and Kapp Records.  Even more excitingly, the disc presents eight previously unreleased tracks from this formative period before the group adopted its horn section.  Including the strong ballad “I Put It Out of My Head” (with Larry Millas on lead vocal) and covers of Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio’s “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore” and Johnny Cash’s “Train of Love,” these varied songs are remarkably polished – and filled with youthful energy, tight and jangly arrangements, vivid harmonies, catchy melodies, and a sure grasp on the various styles on pop radio circa 1966-1967.  Not only are the unreleased tracks as strong as the released singles, but it’s nearly impossible to believe that they’ve been on the shelf for nearly 50 years!  There are also assorted other rarities, like a new stereo mix of the bright Monkees-esque B-side “Girls Don’t Grow on Trees.”

With the addition of Ray Herr (guitar/bass/vocals), John Larson (trumpet/flugelhorn) and Chuck Soumar (trumpet/vocals) to the line-up, the band began to clearly define its muscular signature sound rooted in melodic rock.  The Ides entered Chicago’s Columbia Studios to record an album of both originals and time-tested covers that had worked well onstage and fit into the “heavier” sound the band was cultivating. “One Woman Man” was released prior to Vehicle, the album, and was the Ides of March’s first single. It remains a mystery why the band didn’t catch fire with such a strong melody. Melding the rich harmonies of The Association with the Ides’ developing horn sound (and a memorable trumpet riff), it closes the first disc of Last Band Standing along with its soaring B-side “High on a Hillside.”

The second disc features selections from the Vehicle album (recently reissued on CD by Real Gone Music), its follow-up, 1971’s Common Bond, and related Warner Bros. singles.  The song destined to become the Ides of March’s calling card, “Vehicle” itself gets two airings – once in its album version and once in its mono single mix.  With crack support from Millas’ organ, Borch’s drums, and the three horns, Peterik channeled Blood, Sweat and Tears’ David Clayton-Thomas on “Vehicle,” tearing into its over-the-top, erotically-charged lyrics and earning the Ides a No. 2 smash on the pop chart. In addition to album cuts like the beautiful, Neil Diamond-meets-The-Righteous-Brothers ballad “Home” and the psychedelic jam “Symphony for Eleanor (Eleanor Rigby),” this disc is peppered with other rare tracks including the band’s reverent, harmony-filled rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” a Pepsi commercial set to “Vehicle,” and the previously unreleased “Reunion,” a hard-driving rock track sans brass that pointed the way for the next phase of the band’s stylistic evolution.

At RCA, The Ides of March largely stripped down their sound, abandoning their horns in the process.  Bob Bergland hung up his sax.  Chuck Soumar remained on vocals and percussion, and John Larson departed.  (Ray Herr had already left the group between Vehicle and Common Bond.)  The third disc of Last Band Standing samples the never-on-CD albums World Woven (1972) and Midnight Oil (1973), featuring six tracks from the former and four from the latter.  On World Woven, the band tried on blue-eyed soul, country and even bubblegum rock; if the last term there seems an oxymoron, just listen to the catchy sing-along choruses of “Mother America” and “All Join Hands.”  (Peterik’s knack for crafting anthems would serve him well when he founded Survivor!)  The shifting, shimmering “Children” recalled the group’s funky, extended jams, and “Flipside” allowed Soumar a triumphant moment back on the trumpet.  Midnight Oil featured further changes.  Rather than adding flourishes on the organ, Larry Millas contributed guitar, bass, and flute.  Dave Arellano, who also played on World Woven, handled keyboards.  Rusty Young of Poco dropped in to add pedal steel and dobro to Oil, the Ides’ most countrified album.  On both the ballads (“Lay Back,” “Roadie Ode”) and the uptempo tracks (the southern rock-inflected “Hot Water,” “Quicksilver”), the Ides hardly sound like the band of “Vehicle” and “One Woman Man.”

Live tracks spanning 1972 to 2008 round out this disc.  This lengthy period spans both the original group’s breakup (in November 1973) and their reunion (in 1990).  Highlights include a ten-minute take on The Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Summer in the City” recalling the likes of ‘Symphony for Eleanor,” as well as the buoyant, brash “Gotta Share This Feeling” from a 1972 date at Michigan Tech which recalls the best of early Chicago.  (How was this hit single-in-the-making not recorded in the studio?) This disc also has one of the Ides’ career highlights with “Finally Next Year,” the song released in summer 1999 to commemorate the Chicago Cubs’ season and included on a Cubs CD sold at the ballpark.

The fourth and final CD in the set brings the Ides of March’s story up to date, with tracks recorded between 1997 and 2010 and primarily released on the band’s own, independent label.  1991’s “Spirit of Chicago,” like the other tracks from 1991’s Ideology, bridges the sonic gap between The Ides of March and Survivor.  The anthemic power ballad even features Peterik’s Survivor collaborator and sparring partner, Frankie Sullivan, as well as Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen.  The cheeky “One Hit Wonder,” from 2000, taps into the Ides’ own history with “Vehicle” and pays tribute to the band’s one-hit wonder brethren, wrapping the fun, nostalgic trip in an “Oh, Pretty Woman” riff.  There’s more musical autobiography on the 2010 track “Still Nineteen.”  Peterik and Millas even play Lennon and McCartney as they return to the Beatles songbook with a 2010 recording of “A Day in the Life.”  A DVD wraps the Ides’ story up (for now!) with a live concert recorded at Chicago’s House of Blues on May 31, 2014.  This program includes the Ides’ rendition of Peterik’s Survivor hits “Eye of the Tiger” and “The Search is Over” and “Caught Up in You” and “Hold On Loosely,” both of which he wrote for 38 Special.  Bonus features include a music video for “Last Band Standing,” a From the Vaults segment with archival footage dating back to the band’s early days, and a performance of “Vehicle” with Buddy Guy.

Last Band Standing is accompanied by a booklet featuring notes from the current Ides lineup of Peterik, Millas, Borch, Bergland, Scott May, Dave Stahlberg, Tim Bales and Steve Eisen.  Photographs, credits and a discography are also provided.  Larry Millas has remastered each track on these four CDs which are housed in jewel cases within the autographed slipcase.  In addition, the booklet notes that a portion of the proceeds from the set will go to the Ides of March Scholarship Fund.

For a longtime fan of the Ides of March (or Survivor, for that matter!) or an Ides newbie, Last Band Standing is a vibrant, nostalgic and captivating audiovisual journey with a band that’s far more than just “Vehicle.”  It makes a perfect companion, too, to Jim Peterik’s new album Risk Everything, a collaboration with Marc Scherer.  As for his partnership with Larry Millas, it’s alive and well, too.  The pair co-wrote “Sail Away” on Brian Wilson’s new No Pier Pressure.  One of that album’s standout tracks, it features both Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin.  The Ides of March may be the last band standing, but it sure looks like they’ll be standing and rocking with their positive and upbeat brand of rock and roll for more years to come.
by Joe Marchese

Disc 1
1. Last Band Standing (Jim Peterik, Mike Borch) - 5:42
2. Who I Am - 3:35
3. Too Far To Turn Around - 4:18
4. Like It Or Lump It (Jim Peterik, Larry Millas, Mike Borch) - 3:28
5. No Two Ways About It (Jim Peterik, Larry Millas, Mike Borch) - 2:16
6. You Wouldn't Listen (Jim Peterik, Larry Millas, Mike Borch) - 2:32
7. I'll Keep Searching (Jim Peterik, Larry Millas, Mike Borch) - 2:24
8. I'll Take You Back - 2:05
9. Please Don't Tell Me Lies - 2:39
10.Train Of Love (Johnny Cash) - 2:48
11.Don't Cry To Me - 2:45
12.You Tell Me Why (Ronald Elliot) - 3:28
13.I Put It Out Of My Head - 3:07
14.The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore (Bob Crewe, Bob Gaudio) - 2:13
15.Roller Coaster - 2:32
16.Things Aren't Always What They Seem - 2:28
17.My Foolish Pride - 2:18
18.Give Your Mind Wings (Jeff Mine) - 2:55
19.Hole In My Soul - 2:53
20.Girls Don't Grow On Trees - 2:56
21.I'm Gonna Say My Prayers - 3:00
22.You Need Love - 2:47
23.Sha La La La Lee (Mort Shuman, Kenny Lynch) - 2:57
24.Nobody Loves Me - 2:40
25.Strawberry Sunday - 2:52
26.One Woman Man - 3:16
27.High On A Hillside - 2:52

Disc 2
1. Vehicle (Mono Hit Single Mix) - 2:56
2. Lead Me Home Gently - 2:58
3. Aire Of Good Feeling - 3:14
4. Symphony For Eleanor-Eleanor Rigby (John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Jim Peterik) - 9:44
5. Bald Medusa (Jim Peterik, Mike Borch) - 3:02
6. Home - 3:37
7. Wooden Ships (Dharma For One) (Stephen Stills, Paul Kantner, Ian Anderson, Clive Bunker) - 7:15
8. Superman (Stereo Album Mix) - 3:00
9. L.A. Goodbye - 2:52
10.Hymn For Her - 4:03
11.Tie Dye Princess - 11:39
12.We Are Pillows (Prelude To Freedom) - 3:42
13.Freedom Sweet - 3:30
14.Giddy Up Ride Me - 2:59
15.Melody - 2:48
16.Reunion (Jim Peterik, Mike Borch) - 3:47
17.Pepsi (Vehicle Commercial) - 1:02
18.Vehicle (Stereo Album Mix) - 2:55
19.The Star Spangled Banner (Francis Scott Key) - 1:39

Disc 3
1. Mother America - 3:50
2. All Join Hands - 3:13
3. Colorado Morrow - 2:54
4. Diamond Fire - 4:38
5. Flipside - 3:45
6. Children - 6:58
7. Hot Water (Jim Peterik, Mike Borch, Dave Arrellano) - 4:07
8. Lay Back - 4:09
9. Quicksilver - 3:33
10.Roadie Ode - 4:23
11.Gotta Share This Feeling - 4:15
12.American Express - 5:08
13.Rag For A Vagabond Lady - 4:58
14.Love's Got The Power (Jim Peterik, Anthony Gomes) - 6:25
15.Summer In The City (John Sebastian, Steve Boone, Mark Sebastian) - 9:50
16.Don't Fight The Feeling - 3:48
17.Finally Next Year (Jim Peterik, Scott May) - 3:24

Disc 4
1. Friendly Stranger (Vehicle Overture) - 4:29
2. Spirit Of Chicago (Jim Peterik, Dick Eastman) - 4:44
3. I'd Love Her Anyway - 4:17
4. Love Don't Choose - 5:18
5. Age Before Beauty - 3:37
6. Moon Out Of Phase - 3:58
7. One Hit Wonder - 4:52
8. Come Dancing - 4:22
9. A Day In The Life (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) - 7:28
10.The Forgotten Oldie - 3:58
11.Pepperhead - 2:45
12.Secrets Of A Woman - 4:15
13.Soul To Soul (Jim Peterik, Bob Bergland) - 4:57
14.For One Moment - 4:01
15.Still 19 - 6:45
16.Live Life - 4:39
17.Keep Rocking - 5:07
All songs written by Jim Peterik except where indicated

The Ides Of March
*Jim Peterik - Lead Guitar, Lead Vocal
*Larry Millas - Rhythm Guitar, Bass, Keyboards, Backing Vocal
*Bob Bergland - Bass, Saxophone, Backing Vocals
*Ray Herr - Bass, Backing Vocals
*Michael Borch - Drums, Percussion
*John Larson - Trumpet, Flugelhorn
*Jim Larson - Trumpet, Backing Vocal
*Chuck Soumar - Trumpet, Vocals, Odds, Ends
*Scott May - Vocals, B3 Organ, Keyboards
*David Stahlberg - Trombone
*Tim Bales - Trumpet
*Steve Eisen - Sax, All Reeds, Percusion
*Dave Arellano - Keyboards
*Steve Daniels - Trumpet
*Conrad Prybe - Trombone
*Dave Southern - Trombone

1965-68  The Ides Of March - Ideology (sundazed remaster edition)
1970  The Ides Of March - Vehicle (2014 remaster and expanded)
1971  The Ides Of March - Common Bond (extra tracks issue)

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Carp - Carp (1970 us, heavenly psych folk country rock with spiritual references, 2017 korean remaster)

Carp is known not so much for its music as it is for being the launching pad for the career of fledgling actor Gary Busey. Singer/drummer Busey formed the group in the spring of 1966 with fellow Oklahoma State University students Ron Getman on guitar, John Crowder on bass, and Glen Mitchell on piano. After relocating to Los Angeles, Carp signed with Epic to record a self-titled 1969 album rooted equally in rock, blues, and country -- two singles () - "Save the Delta Queen" and "Page 258" were released to little commercial notice, and the band soon dissolved. 

While Getman, Crowder, and Mitchell continued collaborating as session musicians behind Loudon Wainwright III and Janis Ian, Busey pursued a career as an actor, although he continued playing drums under the alias Teddy Jack Eddy, backing artists including Kris Kristofferson and Leon Russell. In 1975, he also contributed his original song "Since You've Gone Away" to Robert Altman's film masterpiece Nashville.

Busey's music career was, ultimately, the determining factor in landing the role that made him famous: As the ill-fated title character in 1978's The Buddy Holly Story, he performed his own renditions of the rock & roll legend's biggest hits, and earned an Academy Award nomination for his efforts. 
by Jason Ankeny

1. Drink To The Queen Of The May (Gary Busey, Ron Getman) - 2:33
2. Circuit Preacher Brown (Gary Busey, Ron Getman) - 2:40
3. He's Comin' Back To Check On What You've Done (Gary Busey, Glen Mitchell, Ron Getman) - 2:36
4. Pine Creek Bridge (Gary Busey, John Crowder, Ron Getman) - 3:46
5. Rosabelle Bovine (Gary Busey, Glen Mitchell, Ron Getman) - 2:17
6. Page 258 (Gary Busey, Ron Getman) - 2:37
7. Jotham Clay, Mississippi (Gary Busey, Ron Getman) - 2:49
8. The Great Kansas Hymn (Michael McGinnis) - 5:25
9. Mammoth Mountain Blues (Gary Busey, John Crowder, Glen Mitchell, Ron Getman) - 2:46
10.There Goes The Band (Gary Busey, John Crowder, Ron Getman) - 3:00
11.Jesus Is The Mountain (Gary Busey, Ron Getman) - 3:48
12.The Firehouse Dog (Gary Busey) - 1:04

The Carp
*Gary Busey - Drums, Vocals
*John Crowder - Bass, Vocals
*Ron Getman - Guitar, Vocals
*Glen Mitchell - Keyboards, Vocals
*Sneaky Pete - Steel Guitar
*Bouncin'Bobby Bruce - Fiddle

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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Leon Russell And Marc Benno - Asylum Choir II (1971 us, outstanding psych protest bluesy rock with experimental mood, japan SHM 2016 remaster)

1971's "Asylum Choir II" was originally intended as a follow-up to 1968's "Looking Inside the Asylum Choir".  Unfortunately Smash Records executives shelved the set where it sat for the next three years.  The collection was ultimately rescued in 1971 when Leon Russell (enjoying stardom as a solo act), bought the tapes and released the collection on his newly formed Shelter imprint. Ironically, by the time the sophomore album saw the light of day, Russell and singer/multi-instrumentalist Marc Benno had dissolved their musical partnership. 

Musically the set wasn't a major change from the debut, though there were a couple of marked differences.  While the debut was very much a collaboration, this time around the focus was clearly on Russell.  That may have something to do with the fact Russell was responsible for the collection's release.  As on the debut, Benno was credited with co-writing most of the material (there were three tracks credited to Russell alone), but Benno's other contributions were far and few between.  He handled backing vocals on a couple of tracks, but elsewhere was largely absent.

While full of engaging melodies, lyrically the album was a topical timepiece - though I've always found it an engaging reflection of the times.  There were a couple of nifty anti-war tracks ('Down On the Base' and 'Ballad for a Soldier') and some dated social/political commentary ('Sweet Home Chicago' with it's not-to-subtle commentary on 1968's Democratic National Convention and 'Straight Brother'). 

Speaking of dated, amazing how time impacts language ...  "when you're bass player's flat and your drummer drags, don't you wish you had a fag"  Anyone under 30 probably doesn't realize he was talking about cigarettes, not lifestyles.  Bottom line is that it was a good effort, though largely a Russell solo effort and simply not on a par with the debut.

1. Sweet Home Chicago - 3:22
2. Down On The Base - 2:17)
3. Hello Little Friend (Leon Russell) - 2:52
4. Salty Candy - 2:27
5. Tryin' To Stay 'Live - 2:50
6. ...Intro To Rita... - 2:07
7. Straight Brother - 3:07
8. Learn How To Boogie - 2:45
9. Ballad For A Soldier (Leon Russell) - 4:25
10.When You Wish Upon A Fag (Leon Russell) - 4:09
11.Lady In Waiting (Leon Russell) - 3:38
All songs by Leon Russell, Marc Benno except where stated.

*Marc Benno - Guitars, Vocals
*Leon Russell - Bass, Guitar, Keyboards, Piano, Vocals
*Jesse Ed Davis - Guitars
*Chuck Blackwell - Drums
*Carl Radle - Bass
*"Donald Duck" Dunn - Bass

1968  The Asylum Choir - Look Inside (2007 remaster)
1972  Leon Russell - Carney
1970  Marc Benno - Marc Benno (2012 korean remaster)
1973  Marc Benno And The Nightcrawlers - Crawlin (with young Stevie Ray Vaughan, 2006 release) 

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Christopher Kearney - Pemmican Stash (1973 canada, wonderful folk country classic rock, 2014 korean remaster)

Toronto-born Christopher Kearney moved to the cottage area of Lindsay, Ontario at age 4. He became serious about music in the mid-60's after relocating to the US West coast where he met Gordon Lightfoot who put up the money for his first demo recordings.

In 1970, Apex Records released Kearney's first single "Theme For Jody". He returned to Toronto in 1971 and used his Lightfoot connection to land a publishing deal with Early Morning Music and an album deal with Sun Dog Productions who signed him to Capitol Records.

His first self-titled album was released in 1972 and spawned the single "Loosen Up". His career became a whirlwind of touring throughout the US in folk clubs and festivals with opening slots next to the likes of Anne Murray. Kearney went to Brazil in 1972 with The Stampeders to represent Canada at the Seventh Rio International Song Festival held in Rio de Janeiro.

A follow-up LP, 'Pemmican Stash', was released in 1973 and Kearney's career slowly faded shortly after 1975's 'Sweetwater'.

In the early ‘80s Kearney joined China with fellow Canadians Bill King and Danny McBride for one album on CBS Records.

Kearney returned to the spotlight briefly in 1993 when he wrote "A Letter From Sarajevo" with Scott Lane and Neil Dobson that accompanied a star-studded public service video about the plight of children in the war-torn city of Sarajevo in Bosnia.

Kearney is currently living in San Diego, California and released a new album in 2008 called "Just A Step Away". 

1. The Hobo's Creed - 4:00
2. Jubal's Dream - 3:18
3. Sarah's Stopover (Jim Laramie) - 3:52
4. Youngbird (Christopher Kearney, Josh Onderisin) - 3:08
5. One Helluva Rock 'N' Roll Band (Christopher Kearney, Josh Onderisin) - 4:48
6. Shot Down - 3:09
7. Remember Me My Brother - 4:00
8. The Ballad Of William Bent - 6:48
9. A Taste Of Snow - 4:22
Music and Lyrics by Christopher Kearney except where noted

*Christopher Kearney - Vocals, Acoustic, Electric Guitars
*Josh Onderisin - Acoustic, Electric Lead Guitars
*Jim Laramie - Bass
*Gord Neave - Drums
*D'Arcy Wickham - Background Vocals
*Gord Noore - Background Vocals
*Duane Ford - Keyboards
*Ralph Cole - Slide Guitar
*Larry Good - Banjo
*Ollie Strong - Steel Guitar
*Jerry Cingolani - Cordovox
*Bruce Good - Autoharp

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Monday, June 12, 2017

Bobby Whitlock - One Of A Kind (1975 us, wonderful blend of classic rock southern tastes and blues, 2016 japan SHM remaster)

The Memphis-born/Austin resident with a soulful voice soaked in gospel, R&B, and blues continues to represent the true South, the legacy he began when he was the first white artist to be signed to the Stax label at the tender age of sixteen. 

1975 marked the release of “One of a Kind”, it's a vast improvement very close to his prior best efforts. Bobby plays piano and organ and these are the intruments that subity dominate the album.

His singing is a mix of original blue eyed soul and southern rock a music he helped pioneer.

1. Movin’ On - 5:09
2. You Still On My Mind - 3:12
3. Rocky Mountain Blues - 2:58
4. Be Honest With Yourself - 4:06
5. Goin’ To California - 3:50
6. Free And Easy (Way Of Lovin’ You) - 4:33
7. The Right Road Back Home - 4:36
8. You Don’t Have To Be Alone - 5:49
9. Have You Ever Felt Like Leavin’ - 3:27
10.We Made It To The Moon - 3:36
All songs by Bobby Whitlock except Track #6 co-written with Dru Lombar

*Bobby Whitlock - Vocals, Organ, Piano, Leslie, Acoustic Guitar, Chimes, Percussion
*T.J. Tindall - Lead Guitar, Banjo
*Kenny Tibbetts - Bass
*Rick Eckstein - Drums
*Richard Betts - Slide Guitar
*Chuck Leavell - Piano
*Dru Lombar - Slide Guitar
*Jaimoe (A.K.A Jai Johanny Johanson) - Congas
*Johnny Sandlin - Tambourine
*Sid Sharp And His Magic Violins - Strings

1972  Bobby Whitlock - Where There's a Will There's a Way (2013 remaster)
1970  Derek And The Dominos - Layla (2013 platinum SHM edition)

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Friday, June 9, 2017

Ian And Sylvia - The Beginning Of The End (1971 canada, wonderful country folk rock)

Born in Victoria, BC in 1933, it wasn't until he was a teen, laid up in a hospital after a rodeo accident, that Ian Tyson picked up a guitar for the first time.Once the broken leg mended, he continued learning the guitar, and always a poet and writer, began writing songs.

While attending the Vancouver School of Art, he made his singing debut at Vancouver's Heidelberg Cafι in 1956. Realizing he might be able to afford his education, he continued playing, and later joined The Sensational Stripes. They were an up and coming rock and roll band made up of other students at UBC and gave Tyson a better exposure to different sounds.

Still pursuing his artistic dreams, he moved to Toronto and got a job as a commercial artist once he'd graduated from the VSA in 1958. Taking advantage of the burgeoning folk scene in Yorkville, he made ends meet by performing in the local clubs.

In 1959 he was introduced to Chatham, Ontario's Sylvia Fricker, another folk singer trying to make it in the big city. They hit it off, and by that summer were performing together at the Village Corner, first part time, and eventually they were a full-fledged duo, one of the hottest on the scene.

They married in 1961, and over the next year earned a loyal following while working their way out of the dimly lit Toronto clubs and coffee shops throughout the US northeastern seaboard, and were frequent performers at festivals, including their first of many appearances over their careers at the famed Mariposa Folk Festival in Orillia, Ont.

After moving to New York in '61, they were performing in Greenwich, when Albert Grossman, Bob Dylan's manager, saw and liked the act. He offered to represent them, and soon after he sent the duo off to expand their territory, where they played throughout the Chicago/Detroit area and onto the west coast.

Grossman helped land them a deal with American based Vanguard Records, who released their self-titled debut in the summer of 1962. It was the first in a long line of records throughout the decade that transcended folk and country, delving into blues and early pop. Covers of "CC Rider," "Down By The Willow Garden," and "Handsome Molly"were mixed in with early signs of what would become a legendary waving of the Canadian music flag, with the 19th century standard "Un Canadien Errant" and "Pride of Petrovar." That song also showed their range from fast tempo two-steppers to the slow, melodic "Got No More Home Than A Dog" (a traditional hobo song), and the prison work song "Rocks And Gravel."

In early 1963 they released what has been heralded as some as the greatest Canadian song ever written, "Four Strong Winds." The title track to their sophomore record, the album barely made a dent in the charts on either side of the border, but the song has been covered by everyone from Bob Dylan and Neil Young to a Swedish version by The Hep Stars. Performed by an ensemble cast, it also still traditionally closes out the Edmonton Music Festival each year.

The rest of the album was another mix of French Canadian songs, ("V'la L'bon Vent"), the Scottish ballad "Every Night When The Sun Goes Down," a cover of Dylan's "Tomorrow Is A Long Time," and another old traditional prison work song from the deep south, "Poor Lazarus". "Jesus Met The Woman At The Well" and "Every Time I Feel The Spirit" also showcased the duo's gospel's roots.

Their second album of '63 was met with mixed critical reviews, as well as public reaction. NORTHERN JOURNEY made the top 40 at home, but only peaked at #70 in the US. Backed by Ian's cowboy lamenting in "Texas Rangers" with a capella for a base. It also featured the sing-alongs "Moonshine Can" and "Little Beggar Man," the gospel standard "Swing Down Chariot," and Sylvia's first solely written and recorded song, the reflective "You Were On My Mind," which was later covered by Bobby Bare, San Fransisco's folk/rock band We Five, and then British pop star Crispian St. Peters.

The Tysons had met Gordon Lightfoot earlier in their respective careers, and 1964's EARLY MORNING RAIN featured a pair of his songs - "For Lovin' Me" and the title track, which went peaked in the top 40 at home but only made it as high as #77 in the US. Johnny Cash's "Come In Stranger" is one of the few other covers on the record, the first time the duo had recorded mostly their own material, centred for the most part around Canadian roots, such as "Travelling Drummer," and also often with a political undertone, as in "Song For Canada," co-written with Ian by future CBC journalist Peter Gzowski.

After moving back to Canada later that year, they took time off to have their first child, Clayton Dawson Tyson, in the spring of '65. They didn't return to the studios until later that year, releasing PLAY ONE MORE. Felix Pappalardi, arranged, contucted, played bass and assisted in production of the record, which leaned more towards the pop spectrum than its predecessors. The cover of Burt Bacharach's "24 Hours To Tulsa" and the title track showed a fuller band sound than what fans were used to, and the shift in direction translated to less than expected sales. Further evidence of experimentation was evident with the organ in Sylvia's "Gifts Are For Giving" and Ian's "When I Was A Cowboy." Unlike previous records, this one had no adaptations of traditional folk songs, but the more typical sounding music from them was showcased in "Changes," with its standard guitar and autoharp, and "The French Girl," with the accompanying string arrangement and banjo drives "Molly and Tenbrooks."

Wanting out of their record deal with Vanguard anyway, they experimented with the blues on their next project, SO MUCH FOR DREAMING. Released in the fall of 1966, the record was all but a flop with the fans and critics alike, with Sylvia singing lead on much of it, including "Catfish Blues" and "The Circle Game." "Come All Ye Fair And Tender Ladies" was a minstrel-like ballad Ian penned, and other tracks included the occasional nod to the seafaring life they liked to do with "Cutty Wren," and "Summer Wages."

Their first album for new label MGM was THE LOVIN' SOUND in the spring of '68. They brought in new producer John Court with the intent of coming out of the studio with a more pop accessible album. Even the title reflected the change, a spin on The Lovin' Spoonful, one of the hottest pop groups at the time. The lead-off "Windy Weather" was criticized as being nothing more than a conglomeration of The Association's "Windy" and The Mamas and Papas' "Monday Monday." But sticking to their folk roots, they also covered Dylan's "I Don't Believe You," although it too was criticized for its flower power arrangement. The one straight out country song was a cover of Johnny Cash's "Big River."

Looking to make a straighout country album, they packed up and made Music City their new temporary home. But while writing the material, they were informed they were still owed Vanguard Records one more album. Their contractual obligation was filled before '68 was up with the appropriately titled NASHVILLE. Abandoning all other experimentations, they hired producer Elliot Mazar and released a straighout country album, which featured another pair of covers of Bob Dylan's - "The Mighty Quinn" and "This Wheel's On Fire," and made great use of strings as backup, in tune with the changing landscape at the time of country music.

They were already in the middle of an exhaustive year-long tour when FULL CIRCLE was released. The album was more experimental in previous records, as office execs had pretty much given the duo creative control carte-blanche, and the result was sort of a free-flow, new age country/western experiment. The lead off "Here's To You" sounded more like a pop arrangement with a steel guitar just to make it a country song. Also included was the obligatory Dylan cover "Tears of Rage" and a remake of "Mr Spoons" from the previous album, a song about their son Clay.

Reworking their stage show on advice from the suits in the office, they assembled a new straight country backing band with Amos Garrett, Buddy Cage, Ken Kalmusky, and ND Smart, and now dubbed themselves Ian Tyson & The Great Speckled Bird, which quickly began touring the continent, including the high profile live events like the Atlanta Pop Festival and Festival Express 1970.

After a double album greatest hits package, the '70s opened with the album GREAT SPECKLED BIRD on the ill-fated Ampex label. Produced by Todd Rundgren, it was too experimental for the mainstream, and it came and left the scene just as fast. Sylvia's "Trucker's Cafe," was a formulatic heartbreak tune, the waltz inspired "Flies in the Bottle," the upbeat "Love What You're Doing Child," and the gospel inspired "We Sail."

Their second album entitled IAN & SYLVIA in the spring of '71 was their first with new label Columbia. Each took turns churning out more country flavourings, but less as an actual harmonized duo. Sylvia's slow bluesy feel to "Midnight Barney" to Ian's tale-telling in "Lincoln Freed Me," to the remake of "Summer Wages" from the SO MUCH FOR DREAMING album and the cover of the folk standard "Needle of Death" didn't translate particularly well in sales, and stalled before making the top 50 on either side of the border. The first single was "Creators of Rain," and was followed by "More Often Than Not," which gassed out at the #22 spot in Canada.

Their last album together of original material came a year later with YOU WERE ON MY MIND. Sylvia's title track was a remake from an earlier album, and would be a comeback of sorts. Their last single together, it reached #4 on the Canadian chart. After moving back to Toronto, they began hosting a CTV variety show called "Nashville North" for two seasons, beginning in '74. The duo played their final public performance in 1975, and went through a relatively amicable divorce later that year.

1. More Often Than Not (David Wiffen) - 3:08
2. Creators Of Rain - 2:51
3. Summer Wages (Ian Tyson) - 3:28
4. Midnight - 4:16
5. Barney - 4:35
6. Some Kind Of Fool (Ian Tyson) - 2:41
7. Shark And The Cockroach - 2:41
8. Last Lonely Eagle (John Dawson) - 5:09
9. Lincoln Freed Me (David Paton) - 2:54
10.Needle Of Death (Bert Jansch) - 3:51
11.Everybody Has To Say Goodbye (Sylvia Tyson) - 2:28
12.Give It To The World (Ian Tyson) - 2:59
13.Jordan Station - 5:28
14.Long Beach - 2:52
15.Love Is Strange (Mickey Baker, Ethel Smith, Ian Tyson, Sylvia Tyson) - 2:51
All songs by Ian Tyson, Sylvia Tyson except where stated

*Ian Tyson - Vocals, Guitar
*Sylvia Tyson - Vocals, Piano
*Ken Asher - Harpsichord, Organ
*David Briggs - Piano
*Kenny Buttrey - Drums
*Lloyd Green - Guitar
*Kirk Hamilton - Bass, Vibraphone
*Buddy Harman - Drums
*Ernie Hayes - Organ, Piano
*John Hill - String Arrangements
Herb Lovelle - Drums
*Charlie McCoy - Harmonica
*Weldon Myrick - Guitar
*Norbert Putnam - Bass
*Joe Renzetti - Guitar
*Stuart Scharf - Guitar
*David Wilcox - Guitar, Mandolin

Related Act
1970 Great Speckled Bird - Great Speckled Bird (2007 japan bonus track remaster) 

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Monday, June 5, 2017

William R. Strickland - Is Only The Name (1969 us, prominent introspective experimental folk rock, 2009 remaster)

One of the most unusual signings by the legendary Deram label, not least of all because he was American, poet/singer/songwriter William R. Strickland was paired with keyboardist/synthesizer player Philip Springer and placed under the direction of Buddy Kaye for one of the most the unique albums of the age, William R. Strickland Is Only the Name.

Well will listeners of a certain age recall their first exposure to it, courtesy of the label's budget-priced compilation Wowie Zowie: The World of Progressive Music. Skittering electronics pinged and pongs across "Computer Lover," a sci-fi romance that absolutely predicted later electronic music (not least of all great swathes of ELP's "Karn Evil 9 Third Impression"). And then you ventured into the LP to discover a quite astonishing collision between beat-styled poetry and progressive rock, with Strickland's acoustic guitar playing off Springer's sympathetic and versatile backings. Hammond organ sweeps across "Romeo De La Route," sax jazzes up "You Know My Body," while pastoral flute ripples through "Touch." 

All the while, Strickland strums his guitar and riffs on the themes of life and love. "World War 3 1/2," however, is his piece de resistance. Imagine Arlo Guthrie eagerly joining the army instead of successfully dodging the draft, and going off to boot camp and then a futuristic war. It's a witheringly sardonic look at the military mentality that leaves the rest of the songs lyrically in the shade. It's an adventurous and bold album, that has remained little more than a collector's item in the years since its release. But it was certainly worthy of resurrection and reissue. 
by Dave Thompson

1. You Can Know My Body (But You'll Never Know My Soul) - 4:15
2. Computer Lover - 4:47
3. Romeo De La Route - 3:55
4. Touch - 6:41
5. If I Stand Here Much Longer - 7:18
6. Oops That's Me!!! - 2:14
7. World War 3½ - 11:20
All compositions by William R. Strickland 

*William R. Strickland - Vocals, Guitar
*Gershon Kingsley - Synthesizer Arrangements
*Phillip Springer - Synthesizer Arrangements

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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Juicy Lucy - Juicy Lucy (1969-70 uk, stunning blues swamp psych rock, 2010 bonus track remaster)

Back a ways there was one album that just about every 14 year old wanted – not for the music, they used to steal the cover alone from the local record shop. The image of Zelda Plum on the cover clad only in fruits was more than most teenagers could stand. If they had released the cover as a poster it would probably have been a million seller but as it was the album still made the top forty.

Juicy Lucy were formed after garage band The Misunderstood broke up and they brought a combination of Blues, Garage/punk and straight out Raunch together and it is simply brilliant even by today’s standards.

‘Mississippi Woman’ is a Louisiana swamp groove  raw vocals it is only a taster for the monstrous version of Bo Diddley’s ‘Who Do You Love’ which was a single hit but sounds ten times better as an album track with original vocalist Ray Owen’s gravel and sneer and Glen-Ross Campbell’s screaming slide producing a mesmerising morass of sound. ‘Just One Time’ is very deep and dense, very Gris Gris and ‘Train’ is simply a brilliant and mature jazz/Blues while ‘Nadine’ harks right back to the garage credentials of The Misunderstood.
by Andy Snipper

1. Mississippi Woman (Glen Ross Campbell, Chris Mercer, Ray Owen, Neil Hubbard, Keith Ellis) - 3:51
2. Who Do You Love (Castle Version) (Ellis McDaniels) - 3:03
3. She's Mine She's Yours (Keith Ellis, Nigel Thomas) - 5:44
4. Just One Time (Neil Hubbard, Glen Ross Campbell) - 4:41
5. Chicago North Western (Neil Hubbard, Glen Ross Campbell) - 4:04
6. Train (Buddy Miles, Herb Rich) - 5:51
7. Nadine (Chuck Berry) - 2:49
8. Are You Satisfied (Peter Dobson, Chris Mercer, Nigel Thomas) - 6:20
9. Walking Down The Highway (Bonus Track) (Ray Owen, Glen Ross Campbell, Chris Mercer) - 4:44

The Juicy Lucy
*Glen "Ross" Campbell - Steel Guitar
*Ray Owen - Vocals
*Chris Mercer - Sax
*Neil Hubbard - Guitar
*Keith Ellis - Bass
*Pete Dobson - Drums, Percussion

1970  Juicy Luicy - Lie Back And Enjoy It (2010 remaster)
1971  Juicy Lucy - Get A Whiff A This (2013 remaster)
1972  Juicy Lucy - Pieces
Related Acts
1965-66  The Misunderstood - Before The Dream Faded
1966-67/69  The Misunderstood - The Legendary Goldstar Album / Golden Glass  
1969  The Koobas - Koobas
1969  Zoot Money - Transition (2009 edition)
1971  Ray Owen's Moon - Moon

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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Moonrider - Moonrider (1973-75 uk, ravishing guitar rock with country shades, 2011 remaster and expanded)

Singer/songwriter Keith West is most known for his work in the fine cult 1960s British psychedelic band Tomorrow, as well as for the big U.K. hit single he scored as a solo artist while in the group, "Excerpt from a Teenage Opera." He did continue to record for quite a while after Tomorrow broke up, however, both as a solo artist and, in the mid-'70s, as part of Moonrider. He was the main songwriter on Moonrider's self-titled album, though it also had some material by ex-Family/Animals guitarist John Weider; the group also included bassist Bruce Thomas, who would soon join Elvis Costello's backup band, the Attractions. 

Despite the relative wealth of well-known names for such an obscure group, however, Moonrider's album is somewhat unexpectedly ordinary mid-'70s mainstream rock. Although West and Weider were in notable psychedelic/progressive rock acts, the feel is surprisingly American-influenced; indeed, on "Having Someone," America (without the "n") influenced so much of it that the track recalls America (the band). It's a bit of a jolt to hear a British group bearing such prominent traces of mid-'70s California country rock and soft rock, with some similarities to the Eagles and Crosby, Stills & Nash in both the songs and harmonies. 

The songs are pleasant and jovial spins on these styles, but lack bite and originality, occasionally toughening things up mildly with bluesy or funky licks. [There's no faulting the packaging on the 2011 CD reissue on RPM, however, which adds lengthy historical liner notes with plenty of quotes from West. It also has five bonus tracks, including a previously unreleased West demo of a song that didn't make the album, "Baby Blue," and both sides of two solo singles West did for Deram in 1973 and 1974, the A-sides of which ("Riding for a Fall" and "Havin' Someone") would be re-recorded on the Moonrider album. The B-side of the 1973 single, "Days About to Rain," is notable as one of the most dead-on early-'70s Neil Young soundalikes ever cut.
by Richie Unterberger

1. Riding For A Fall - 3:40
2. Days About To Rain - 4:08
3. Havin' Someone - 3:23
4. Know There's No Livin' Without You - 3:34
5. Angel Of Mercy - 4:48
6. Having Someone - 4:31
7. Our Day's Gonna Come - 4:17
8. Good Things (John Weider) - 3:30
9. Living On The Main Street - 2:36
10.Too Early In he Morning - 3:37
11.Gold Digger - 3:39
12.Danger In The Night - 3:44
13.Riding For A Fall - 4:02
14.As Long As It Takes (John Weider) - 3:58
15.I Found Love (John Weider) - 3:20
16.Baby Blue - 3:49
All songs by Keith West except where indicated

The Moonrider
*Chico Greenwood - Drums
*Bruce Thomas - Bass
*John Weider - Guitar, Vocals
*Keith West - Guitar, Vocals

Related Acts
1968  Tomorrow - Tomorow
1966-68  Eric Burdon And The Animals - Roadrunners! Rare Live And Studio Recordings
1967  Eric Burdon And The Animals - Winds of Change (2013 japan SHM double disc remaster)
1968  Eric Burdon And The Animals - The Twain Shall Meet (2013 japan SHM remaster)
1969-73  Family - In Their Own Time (two disc set)
1970  Family - Anyway (bonus tracks edition)
1970  Family - A Song For Me (2004 japan remaster and expanded)
1971  Trifle - First Meeting (2010 remaster)
1971  Jodo - Guts
1971  Quiver - Quiver
1971-79  Sutherland Brothers And Quiver - The Very Best Of
1972  Roger Morris - First Album (korean remaster with extra tracks)

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Stephen Stills And Manassas - Down the Road (1973 us, excellent folk country latin classic rock, japan issue)

Stephen Stills and Manassas released a brilliant debut album in 1972 and it would become recognized as one of the better albums of its era. So what did they do for an encore? They issued a solid, if not brilliant follow-up.

Down The Road has been criticized as a poor album, but I have to disagree. It may not have had the highs of its predecessor, but there are also very few lows. Any of the tracks could have been included on their first album without reducing its quality. Unfortunately this was the last gasp for Manassas as Stephen Stills was again moving on. In retrospect he should have realized that this band was a keeper.

All the musicians from the classic first release were back. Drummer Dallas Taylor, guitarist Chris Hillman, percussionist Joe Lala, pianist Al Perkins, bassist Fuzzy Samuels, and steel guitarist Al Perkins formed a tight and talented unit. They were also a notable live band. Stills, Hillman, and Taylor shared production chores for the second album in a row.

The one fact which is very plain is the writing credits. Members of the group wrote or co-wrote five of the ten tracks with Stills. That means Stills took a solo writing credit for the other five, which was a much smaller percentage than the first album and may say something about his overall commitment.

There is a lot of listenable material here. “Isn’t It About Time” is a hard edged rocker with Joe Walsh bringing his guitar virtuosity to the mix. “Down The Road” is another competent rock tune. Even Chris Hillman gets into the rock ‘n’ roll act on “Lies” with his lyrics about superficial love. “Rollin’ The Stone” is the final track and it sends Manassas rocking into the night. To truly appreciate this track you need to turn your stereo system up to near sonic levels, sit back, and hang on to something.

My favorite track may be “Pensamiento” which is a nice Latin influenced rock fusion piece with Stills providing some stellar piano work.

Down The Road remains very representative of early seventies rock. It may not be a masterpiece but it is very good. It was also a farewell to one of the better bands of its time.
by David Bowling

1. Isn't It About Time - 3:02
2. Lies (Chris Hillman) - 2:55
3. Pensamiento (Nelson Escoto, Stephen Stills) - 2:37
4. So Many Times (Chris Hillman, Stephen Stills) - 3:31
5. Business Οn Τhe Street - 2:56
6. Do You Remember Τhe Americans - 2:10
7. Down Τhe Road - 3:17
8. City Junkies - 2:54
9. Guaguanco De Vero (Joe Lala, Stephen Stills) - 2:58
10.Rollin' My Stone (Calvin "Fuzzy" Samuels, Stephen Stills) - 4:47
All compositions by Stephen Stills except where stated

The Manassas
*Stephen Stills - Guitar, Piano, Bass, Vocals
*Dallas Taylor - Drums
*Chris Hillman - Guitar, Bass, Mandolin, Vocals
*Joe Lala - Percussion, Vocals
*Al Perkins - Guitar, Pedal Steel Guitar, Banjo
*Calvin "Fuzzy" Samuel - Bass, Vocals
*Paul Harris - Piano
*Joe Walsh - Slide Guitar
*Bobby Whitlock - Keyboards
*Sydney George - Flute
*Jerry Aiello - Organ
*Charlie Grimes - Guitar
*Guille Garcia - Percussion
*Lachy Espinol - Percussion
*Pat Arnold - Vocals

1970  Stephen Stills - Stephen Stills (2008 japan SHM remaster)
1971-73  Manassas - Pieces (2009 release)
1972  Stephen Stills - Manassas (2006 HDCD)  
1975-76/78  Stephen Stills - Stills / Illegal Stills / Thoroughfare Gap (2007 double disc issue)
Related Acts
1968  Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper, Steve Stills - The Super Sessions (2014 Hybrid Multichannel SACD 24/88)
1974  Crosby Stills Nash And Young - Live (2013 four discs box set)
1976  The Stills Young Band - Long May You Run
1979  McGuinn, Clark And Hillman - McGuinn, Clark And Hillman (2014 japan SHM remaster)

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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Juicy Lucy - Get A Whiff A This (1971 uk, great classic rock with country and blues traces, 2013 remaster)

For an impressionable teenager still in my final year at school, Juicy Lucy's version of Who Do You Love was a welcome injection of energetic blues-rock when it entered the U.K. singles chart. This was the dawning of the '70s however and for me the more adventurous sounds of King Crimson, Yes and Gentle Giant beckoned with my hard-rock cravings satisfied by the likes of Deep Purple and Uriah Heep. Juicy Lucy in the meantime followed the success of the single and their 1969 self-titled debut album with Lie Back And Enjoy It (1970), Get A Whiff A This (1971) and Pieces (1972).

By the time they came to record the third album, Get A Whiff A This, the band was all but unrecognisable from the one that had impressed the 15 year-old schoolboy less than two years earlier. Chris Mercer (saxophone, piano, organ) and Glenn Campbell (steel guitar) remained but along the way Paul Williams (vocals), Micky Moody (guitar), Rod Coombes (drums) and Jim Leverton (bass) had come on-board. Whilst these names may not carry the same weight now, back in the early '70s this was a formidable line-up by anyone's standards.

Singer Williams had a hand in most of the song-writing with a couple of cover versions thrown in to make up the numbers. Of these, it's Mr. Skin by American band Spirit that opens the album in fine style. With strong dynamics, this psychedelic proto-prog workout features a catchy introductory riff similar to Jan Ackerman's stumbling guitar bridge from Focus' Sylvia which this predates by a year. Juicy Lucy's version of The Allman Brothers' county-rock standard Midnight Rider on the other hand benefits from Williams' soulful vocal and Leverton's pumping bass line. 

Of the original songs, the R&B rocker Midnight Sun stands out thanks to a gutsy vocal and Coombes' intelligent drumming. The song's structure (if not the riff) is reminiscent of Deep Purple's Smoke On The Water which again did not appear until the following year. After this encouraging start however Juicy Lucy begin to run out of steam. Despite some superb guitar and bass interplay and another sold riff, Harvest is nothing to write home about whilst Mr. A. Jones is the first of three laidback country-rock tunes. With its pedal steel and acoustic guitar sound (in the style of The Faces) Mr. A. Jones sits comfortably alongside Sunday Morning with its Dr. Hook flavoured vocal and restrained guitar picking. 

Whilst not as successful as its predecessors, sales for Get A Whiff A This were not unreasonable but it failed to consolidate the band. Following its release Campbell, Mercer, Coombes and Leverton all bailed out leaving Williams and Moody to soldier on. After one more album they too called it a day although the band did eventually resurface in 1995. 
by Mark Hughes

1. Mr. Skin (Jay Ferguson) - 3:50
2. Midnight Sun (Paul Williams) - 3:48
3. Midnight Rider (Greg Alman, Kim Payne) - 3:19
4. Harvest (Bob Darin) - 4:19
5. Mr. A. Jones (Paul Williams) - 3:10
6. Sunday Morning (Paul Williams, Jim Leverton) - 3:57
7. Big Lil (Paul Williams) - 4:35
8. Jessica (Paul Williams, Mick Moody) - 4:10
9. Future Days (Jim Leverton) - 4:11

The Juicy Lucy
*Paul Williams - Vocals
*Chris Mercer - Keyboards, Saxophone
*Glenn "Ross" Campbell - Steel Guitar
*Micky Moody - Guitar
*Rod Coombes - Drums, Percussion
*Jim Leverton - Bass

1970  Juicy Luicy - Lie Back And Enjoy It (2010 remaster)
Related Acts
1965-66  The Misunderstood - Before The Dream Faded
1966-67/69  The Misunderstood - The Legendary Goldstar Album / Golden Glass  
1969  The Koobas - Koobas
1968  Tramline - Somewhere Down the Line (2008 digi sleeve)
1969  Tramline - Moves Of Vegetable Centuries
1969  Zoot Money - Transition (2009 edition)

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The British North American Act - In The Beginning... (1969 canada / uk, eminent garage acid psych)

Named for an act of British Parliament that helped establish the Canadian constitution, the British North-American Act were, fittingly enough, comprised of musicians from both Canada and the U.K. (though in the true spirit of internationalism, keyboard man Andy Bator was born in Hungary), and their sole album, originally released in 1969, is a gentle and likable fusion of folk-rock and psychedelia, with a bit of garage rock creeping in around the edges. "Joe Cool" is a swaggering tale of a self-styled ladies' man that wouldn't seem at all out of place on a vintage garage rock playlist (especially with Bob Allen's primal guitar work), and "If You're Looking for Honey" covers similar musical ground, but most of the album follows a gentler and trippier path, especially the sunny "Corduroy Coat," the languid and low-key "The World Would Understand," the baroque pop exercise "Just How Do You Feel" (complete with harpsichord), the moody and Farfisa-driven "Don't Run Away," and the bittersweet "Only a Dream." 

The light, poppy touch of many of these songs makes the British North-American Act sound just a bit behind the times for 1969 -- while most of their peers were cranking up their amps and dropping acid, these guys were seemingly following more benign pursuits, both musically and recreationally, but the songs are well crafted, the band plays them with strength and taste, and the 12 tunes are just varied enough to give the performances a broad musical palette without losing sight of the group's identity. 

Αt a time when bands were beginning to stretch their albums out to epic scale, In the Beginning... offers plenty of entertainment in an efficient 29 minutes. There's little that's visionary and life-changing about the British North-American Act, but they produced engaging and likable pop that deserves a wider hearing among fans of the music of the era. 
by Mark Deming

1. See How Free - 2:08
2. Baby Jane Days And Nights - 2:45
3. Only A Dream - 2:55
4. Joe Cool - 2:25
5. The World Would Understand - 2:34
6. I'll Find A Way - 2:02
7. Just How You Feel - 2:43
8. Corduroy Coat - 2:10
9. Give Yourself A Ride - 1:59
10.If You're Looking For Honey - 2:13
11.Don't Run Away - 2:34
12.All The World Is In Your Eyes - 2:14

The British North American Act
*Bob Allen - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Kirk Armstrong - Bass
*Andy Bator - Organ, Piano
*Rick Elger - Guitar, Harmonia, Vocals
*Dave McCall - Drums

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Friday, May 12, 2017

Boondoggle And Balderdash - Boondoggle And Balderdash (1971 us, magnificent country folk swamp rock, 2015 SHM edition)

Boondoggle and Balderdash are John Herron and Robert McLerran. Herron is a Colorado musician who performed with GNP in 1967. He was also with a group called "Climax" - not "Precious and Few" and then joined a later configuration of the Electric Prunes. Rob McLerran had been with a group called Spinning Wheel, and also an evolution of Boulder Colorado's surf band the Astronauts - called Hardwater. The two joined up to form Boondoggle. John died in an automobile accident in the 1990s.

John Herron and Rob McLerran released only album under alias name "Boondoggle & Balderdash" in 1971 and the album has been demanded by numerous collectors and music devotees over decades. This classic swamp rock legend reminds of The Band. 

1. Never Got To Know Him - 2:33
2. Mr. Driver - 2:33
3. Old Porch Swing - 3:52
4. When Will It All Be Over - 2:39
5. You Always Find A Way - 4:41
6. The Whiskey Got To Me - 2:29
7. Songs I'm Singing - 2:50
8. You've Got Me - 3:44
9. 7 A.M - 3:13
10.I've Been Delayed - 3:42
Music and Lyrics by John Herron, Robert McLerran

*John Herron - Keyboards, Vocals
*Robert McLerran - Guitar, Vocals
*Pete Wyant - Guitar
*Tom Dewey - Guitar
*George Bell - Guitar, Drums
*Dub Campbell - Guitar
*Tuck Andress - Guitar
*John Beland - Guitar
*Don Duca - Drums
*David Tanner - Bass
*Bob Barnes - Bass
*Rick Martincz - Bass
*Eddie Abner - Dobro
*Famous Darrell Leonard - Horns
*Velinore Snake - Horns

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Monday, May 8, 2017

Doctor Feelgood - Something To Take Up Time (1971 us, spectacular blues jazz rock with prog tinges, 2007 digipak remaster)

Doctor Feelgood evolved out of Boston’s North Shore music scene of the early 60s with Cooper, Corelle, and Winters having played in the rock band The Sensations.

Later that band evolved into Teddy And The Pandas issuing a few singles on Musicor and eventually signing to Capitol’s Tower label for one album. Playing mostly covers, along with a few originals, they got plenty of gigs at local school dances. But finding out that there was another band called the Sensations, a name change was in order. Looking through a dictionary, it was Cooper who came up with the Pandas, and it was a group decision to put Teddy Dewart’s name in front of it. Cooper soon left, replaced by drummer Jerry Labrecque. 

High school gigs turned into college gigs and club dates (the first was the Intermission Lounge in the Combat Zone), and the band traveled throughout New England, improving their stage act by, for instance, hiring a choreographer to teach them some good stage moves. Then they met promotion man Bruce Patch, who would end up being their producer after insisting that they trim down to a quintet by getting rid of Paul Daly. A 1965 visit to Ace Recording Studio in Boston resulted in two original songs: “Once Upon a Time” backed with “Bye Bye (Out the Window).” The record — first on the Coristine label, then rereleased on Musicor — was a local hit on WBZ and WMEX, and the band started getting some dates outside of New England, but it failed to chart nationally. When a couple of follow-up singles didn’t take off, they parted ways with Musicor, eventually recording the 10-song 1968 album Basic Magnetism on Capitol’s subsidiary, Tower Records. 

Dewart had left the band to go to college, and was replaced by guitarist Paul Rivers, but Dewart contributed to the album and got a “guest artist” credit. The album went nowhere, and in 1969, Corelle and Rivers left to form the band Doctor Feelgood (not to be confused with the British pub rockers), reuniting with Sensations members Winters and Cooper, releasing one album, 1971’sSomething To Take Up Time. That was the end of the Pandas. But in 2002 a collection of alternate takes and demos, titled Rarities and Forgotten Gems, was released and the band has reunited for the occasional concert in Beverly, with Dewart on guitar.
by Ed Symkus

Dr. Feelgood rounded it out with two of the original Sensations, saxophonist Dick Winters and drummer Ralph Cooper. At the time both were members of another North Shore group, the Warlocks. “They left the Warlocks, and we left the Pandas to start our own band,” Corelle says. “When Paul and I left, the Pandas didn’t replace us. They just stopped playing.” 

Dr. Feelgood played gigs around New England for about three years, then disbanded when a deal with Epic Records fell through. They did record one jazz-rock album, “Something to Take Up Time,” with producer Larry Patch on an independent label. Corelle speaks highly of Winter’s contributions to that album. 

“Dickie picked up the flute in addition to both tenor and soprano sax,” he says. “He played two saxes at the same time. There weren’t too many (musicians) who could play double horn. He did a lot of solos and double horn work on the album. It was incredible.” 
by Joseph Tortelli

1. Number Ten - 2:49
2. The Roach Did It - 3:05
3. Smoke Dream - 8:51
4. Mr. Bojangles - 2:36
5. Medicine Man - 4:06
6. Nasal Greens And Toe Jam - 3:13
7. Hey Gyp - 5:15
8. 5 XR.V.W - 6:08
9. Something To Take Up Time - 7:39
10.Junk - 5:29

The Doctor Feelgood
*Dick Winters - Vocals, Flute, Tenor, Baritone, Soprano Saxophones, Maracas
*Ralph Cooper - Drums, Congas, Maracas
*Bill Corelle - Bass Guitar, Cow Bell
*Paul Rivers - Electric, Acoustic Guitar

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Thursday, May 4, 2017

Gary Wright And Wonderwheel - Ring Of Changes (1972 us / uk, astonishing soulful classic rock, 2016 release)

In a career spanning seven decades, there’s little Gary Wright hasn’t accomplished.  Having earned a role on Broadway before hitting his teenage years, the musically-talented New Jersey native moved to London, formed Spooky Tooth, befriended George Harrison, played on hit records from Harrison, Ringo Starr and Harry Nilsson, and launched his own successful career with smashes like “Dreamweaver” and “Love is Alive.”  But one chapter of the Gary Wright story has been long lost: his 1972 album Ring of Changes, recorded with his band Wonderwheel for A&M Records.  Though singles were released bearing the promise “From the album Ring of Changes,” the LP never arrived…until now.  Esoteric Recordings, an imprint of Cherry Red Group, has teamed with Universal Music for the first release of Ring of Changes this Friday, July 29.

Singer-songwriter/keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist Wright departed Spooky Tooth in January 1970 to pursue a solo career, signing with Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss’ legendary A&M label and recording Extraction that spring.  The following year, he recorded his sophomore set, Footprint.  When Footprint failed to perform to expectations, Wright decided to return to a band format.  He formed Wonderwheel with guitarist-singer Mick Jones, later of Foreigner, as well as bassist Tom Duffey and drummer Bryson Graham.  The group traveled to Apple Studios on Savile Row in London to record the album that became Ring of Changes.  

Most of the album comprised straight-ahead, melodic and muscular rock tunes, but a softer, Laurel Canyon influence was also detectable on the more acoustic-oriented, harmony-laden cuts.  George Harrison, who frequently welcomed Wright to his own LPs, played a trademark slide guitar solo on the mid-tempo, country-flecked ballad “Goodbye Sunday” which Wright wrote with his sister Lorna Lee.  (In the liner notes to Esoteric’s first-time issue, the artist also indicates that Harrison may have played on other tracks, but it’s difficult to confirm as Mick Jones had also picked up the slide at that time.)

A&M released “I Know” on 45 RPM in the U.S., Italy and Germany (b/w “Tonight It’s Right,” not included on this release), and the anthemic “Ring of Changes” b/w “Somebody” in the U.K., but no album was forthcoming.   The decision was made by A&M to shelve Ring of Changes.  Its fate led Wright to re-establish Spooky Tooth, this time with Wonderwheel’s Jones and eventually Graham coming on board.  The LP sat in the A&M vaults for more than 40 years, but Esoteric is finally presenting this lost rock classic in full with three bonus tracks: the outtake “What We Can Do,” and the non-LP sides “I Know” and “Somebody.”

Mark Powell provides the informative liner notes in the color 14-page booklet here, drawing on a new interview with Gary Wright, and Wright himself has newly mastered the album with Kevin Bartley at Hollywood’s Capitol Studios.  
by Joe Marchese

1. Lovetaker - 4:34
2. Wild Bird - 3:43
3. Something For Us All - 4:10
4. Set On You - 3:59
5. Ring Of Changes - 3:53
6. Goodbye Sunday - 4:35
7. For A Woman - 5:03
8. Workin' On A River - 3:58
9. Creation - 5:19
10.I Know (Gary Wright) - 2:57
11.What Can We Do (Mick Jones, Gary Wright) - 5:09
12.Somebody (Gary Wright) - 2:50

The Wonderwheel
*Gary Wright - Vocals, Keyboard, Guitar
*Mick Jones - Lead, Acoustic Guitars, Vocals
*Tom Duffey - Bass, Vocals
*Bryson Graham - Drums
*George Harrison - Slide Guitar

1971-72  Gary Wright - Extraction / Footprint
Related Acts
1968  Spooky Tooth - It's All About (2005 and 2010 SHM)
1969  Spooky Tooth - Spooky Two (2005 remaster and 2010 SHM)

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