Mar 31, 2009
WAYNE FONTANA & THE MINDBENDERS - ERIC RICK WAYNE & BOB (FONTANA 1966) Jap mastering cardboard sleeve + 6 bonus
Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders first emerged out of apprentice telephone engineer Glyn Geoffrey Ellis' daydreams of becoming a successful pop performer. Rechristening himself Wayne Fontana after Elvis Presley's drummer, DJ Fontana, Fontana's first band was the Jets, a staple on the Manchester circuit through 1961-1962, but one which was doomed to failure.
Renaming the band after Dirk Boarded's then-recently released hit movie The Mindbenders (Fontana, of course, was allowed to keep his name!), the quartet's first release, in June 1963, was a cover of one of the aforementioned stage favorites, Fats Domino's "My Girl Josephine," retitled "Hello Josephine." It was not a major hit, peaking at number 46, and two further singles, "For You, For You" (October 1963) and a cover of the Diamonds' "Little Darling'" (February 1964), were even less successful.
But the label did not lose faith. After all, what sort of headlines would "Fontana drop Fontana" make? The band plugged on, and in May 1964, their version of Ben E. King's "Stop Look and Listen" made number 37. Again it was a tiny drop in the ocean, but this time the Mindbenders were able to capitalize upon it. By early fall, they were riding the Top Five with a spellbinding take on Major Lance's masterpiece of incoherence, "Um Um Um Um Um Um."
The Mindbenders' original recording of the song was produced by Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham -- their label rejected it and insisted on a re-recording, cut with Fontana's own Jack Baverstock. The first recording remains unreleased; the remake soared to number five. An EP titled after the hit followed it to number seven, while the band's eponymous debut album reached number 18. As was standard at this time, the entire LP was recorded in one day, crammed in to a schedule which included their first major British tour, supporting Brenda Lee.
Meanwhile, back in the singles chart, the band was busy confirming their ascendancy with a skillful adaptation of Clint Ballard's "The Game of Love," featuring a moonlighting member of the Spinners folk group on backing vocals and a devastating Stewart guitar solo, played on a Les Paul borrowed from Jimmy Page. It reached number two in Britain and number one in America, despite being not only the Mindbenders' first Stateside release, but also one of the first releases on the American Fontana label...(to be continued!)
Mar 26, 2009
If any group and song was the prototype for sunshine pop, it would be Harpers Bizarre and their hit version of "Feelin' Groovy". Their high range choir boy harmonies, positive themed material, and sophisticated arrangements were all part of the genre's model.
Along with Spanky and Our Gang, The Association, The Sunshine Company, The Free Design, The Cowsills, and the Fifth Dimension, Harpers Bizarre produced music that poured out of AM radios in the 1960's.
"Harpers Bizarre 4" was originally released in 1969 as their fourth LP.
This set finds the group breaking away from their usual sound. Ted Templeman and Dick Scoppettone are still singing soft and high, but the lush orchestration of strings, flutes, and oboes, has been augmented with a more organic mix of guitars, horns, and prominent percussion.
The song choices are different, also. Instead of new takes on standards and show tunes, there are two Otis Redding compositions("Knock On Wood" and "Hard To Handle"); a Beatles favorite ("Blackbird); some folk ("Cotton Candy Sandman" and "Leaving On A Jet Plane"); plus the usual smattering of originals ("When The Band Begins To Play", "There's No Time Like Today", and "All Through The Night"). The prototypical Harpers Bizarre sound is featured on the movie theme "I Love You, Alice B. Toklas".
Highlights include their absolutely hypnotic take on Jim Pepper's "Witchi Tai To"(wow!); Barry Mann and Gerry Goffin's "Something Better" and their own autobiographical "Soft Soundin' Music"(with some nifty guitar work).
Bonus tracks include Harry Nilsson's eccentric "Poly High" and Tommy Dorsey's gospel tinged "If We Ever Needed The Lord Before".
There would not be any more releases from the group until 1976, when 4/5 of the original line-up reunited for the Forest Bay LP release, "As Time Goes By"...[net]
Mar 25, 2009
Originally from Mississippi, the Gordian Knot emerged in Los Angeles in 1967. They recorded this fascinating hybrid of Association-esque soft pop/soft psych/country rock with LA's finest studio musicians and the Hi-Lo's own Clark Burroughs in the producers chair. The result is the finest harmony pop psych offering in the entire Verve catalog.
Fronted by Jim Weatherly, who just a few years later would pen Gladys Knight's finest moment, "Midnight Train To Georgia," the Gordian Knot entertained countless in-crowd LA parties frequented by Hollywood's elite, and performed as part of a USO tour throughout Vietnam with friend and fan Nancy Sinatra.A must for all fans of Softpop, Pop Psych and just plain good music everywhere!
Gordion Knot was a short-lived band from southern California, by way of Mississippi. They released only one album,"Tones" a terrific soft rock/harmony pop effort produced by Clark Burroughs of the Hi-Los. The group formed at the University of Mississippi and was led by ex-Mississippi all-American quarterback/guitarist/lead vocalist Jim Weatherly, a native of Pontotoc, MI. The group caught their biggest break after they appeared at a party thrown by Nancy Sinatra, who apparently liked them so much that she asked them to accompany her on a USO trip to Vietnam. According to their liner notes, they were "one of the few groups since the Beatles to possess genuine charm...not a phony showbiz glucose charm, but the real thing." The bulk of the songs for their album were written by Weatherly, and have a edgier, husky country-rock vibe compared with those written by Leland Russell, whose beautiful tunes are comparatively similar to the Association (Burroughs, it should be pointed out, was also a vocal arranger on the Association’s “Insight Out” and “Waterbeds In Trinadad” albums). “One Way Street” is the band's lone obligatory jug band entry. The band also appeared as themselves in a 1968 MGM teensploitation flick called ”Young Runaways”, performing an original entitled “Ophelia’s Dream”....[net]
Mar 22, 2009
Seven guys and gals, coming together in harmony pop brilliance -- thanks to a great set of arrangements from the legendary Artie Butler! In a world of soundalike groups in the 60s, The Eighth Day really stand out -- working in a batch of all-original material here, one that uses folk, Sunshine, and harmony styles in the presentation -- but somehow manages to focus the best elements of all modes together into a really sparkling little sound! Most numbers have a catchy sing-songy quality that should have made them bigger hits -- yet there's also an under-discovered quality here that's probably one the things that makes the record so great! [Dusty Groove America]
...finally Kapp records gave the best offer, which included a full color 45. This was the deal breaker. This 8th Day was the first group in history to get a full color release on their first record. The contact also included a complete album deal, with full orchestration with one of the up and coming great arrangers Artie Butler.They music tracks were recorded at Bell Sound, which was and may still be one of the famous studios in the World. We added the vocals later at Mayfair Studios. We spent the entire summer in New York City . Things started to sour as we couldn't understand why it was taking so darn long to complete this album. It was just ridiculous. Glenn Reasner was only 16, and he needed to get back into school. The other thing that was frustrating was that we wanted to do our own songs. Davy didn't get to sing any of his raw rock songs that he was so good at. We were young and impatient. They did tell us to just take it slow and that all of that would happen for us in time...(full story here)...
Take a Picture has taken on a dynamic life of its own since its 1968 release, especially for an album that went relatively unheard at the time. It is not difficult to figure out what all the retroactive acclaim is about once you hear the sweet, delicate strain of gently kaleidoscopic music on the sole album from Margo Guryan. It is the soft pop of which gauzy dreams are made, full of the hazy changes and transitory variations of autumn, an album that you invariably want to wrap up in.
The thing that really elevates her above many of her contemporaries and competitors for the soft rock tiara, though, is her wonderfully idiosyncratic songwriting capabilities. A classically trained pianist and jazz composer by education and trade, her songs are much more than your standard pop fare. Although the song structures are simplistic on a superficial level (which should have made them perfect nuggets for commercial radio play in 1968), the arrangements beneath them are anything but. There are all kinds of intriguing things going on with or underneath the melody, either instrumentally (hammy trombones, old-tavern piano, touches of sitar) or via affect. Just when you think a chorus or hook is as ethereal as it could possibly be, Guryan tweaks it just slightly enough that it rises even higher and takes you to an even more elevated emotional plane. She manages the difficult trick of cajoling something already beautiful to something truly sublime. There is also an expert, fluid balance of juxtapositions within the music. Tempos are shifted frequently but seamlessly, and Guryan's chord progressions tend to switch from balladic choices during the slower verses to sly and unconventional jazz progressions during the quicker paced breaks and bridges, with the influence of bossa nova particularly heavy in many of the tunes. Her classical background is spliced into the mix as well, generically via the orchestral splashes of various songs, but more explicitly on "Someone I Know," where her own pop melody is superimposed over the chorale of Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring." The two fit perfectly, point and counterpoint, like the complex pocket symphonies of Brian Wilson, a huge influence, and far more interesting with each listen. Other highlights include her own version of "Sunday Morning," the breezily kittenish "Sun," and the tough go-go groove of "Don't Go Away," but really every song is a gem...[net]
Mar 19, 2009
One of the great, lost prog rock albums, Dr. Z's “Three Parts to My Soul” ended up being one of the rarest albums on the "swirl" Vertigo label, with only 80 copies said to exist.
Dr. Z was lead by North Wales university professor Keith Keyes, who handles keyboards (harpsichord, piano, organ), as well as vocals, with Bob Watkins on drums, and Rob Watson on bass. This is another album, like BLACK WIDOW's “Sacrifice”, that featured lyrics that flirted with the occult in a prog rock setting. Here Keyes had the idea that in the afterlife, your soul is divided in to three parts, with a Latin term to each, Spiritus, Manes et Umbra. Spiritus was the soul that goes to heaven, Manes is the soul that's damned to Hell, and Umbra being the soul that stays on Earth to eternally haunt. What you get is early British prog, dominated mainly by harpsichord, with occult lyrics and very peculiar vocals, trying to sound "evil". The production isn't the greatest in the world, although it was produced by Patrick Campbell-Lyons of NIRVANA (the late '60s/early '70s UK band that is, hardly the Kurt Cobain-led grunge band everyone knows of).
"Evil Woman's Manly Child" is said to be a reverse of the Ten Commandments. Here you get two voices, a whispered voice and a sung voice. This is truly one of the album's many high points. "Spiritus, Manes et Umbra" could almost sound like a hit if things worked out a bit different for the band (and of course, rid of the drum solo). It's such a catchy little song. "Summer For the Rose" shows some psychedelic elements, showing how in 1971, the 1960s hadn't totally vanished. "Burn in Anger" is a piano-dominated ballad that truly screams 1971, while "Too Well Satisfied" is one of those cheesy songs with lots of appeal. "In a Token of Despair" is the closing ballad, regarding the spirit that haunts the Earth. The entire album has that theatrical quality. Many of the reissues come with two bonus cuts, "Lady Ladybird" and "People in the Street", which was released as a single back in 1970 on Fontana. What's really interesting about these two cuts, written by Keith Keyes as on “Three Parts to My Soul”, is you will find absolutely no signs of occult subject matters in these two songs. "Lady Ladybird" is a pretty cheery number. "People in the Street" on the other hand sounds too much like straight-up pop, lacking the charm of "Lady Ladybird". But for “Three Parts to My Soul”, this might not to be everyone's taste, but I like the album, regardless what might be said.(Review by proghead0)
Clear Blue Sky were just one of these bands that have a most definite blues influence. However, their ability to introduce a number of variations within their musical structure such as subtle classical influences as well as a degree of complexity that went beyond the average band enabled their music to be appreciated by a wider range of audiences.
The album starts with the suite, "Journey To the Inside Of The Sun" which occupied the whole of first side of the original vinyl album, and is in itself subdivided into three tracks. The opening Sweet Leaf is a real stomper, with a classical blues riff. As can be expected, a line-up comprising guitar, bass and drums could be rather limited in the amount of musical diversity that can be created, yet on the other hand the band manage to carry this off well. The opening nine and a half minutes (all of Sweet Leaf) are instrumental with John Simms belting out one guitar solo after the other, ably backed by Sheather and White. On the other hand one can note the classical influence on these musicians when occasional the stomp is abruptly stopped with a short classical interlude (played on guitar) taken from Dvorak's New World Symphony.
The Rocket Ride starts with a Hendrix-like riff, however the track takes an unexpected twist with some rapid changes in time signature and key just before the entry of Simms on vocals. It proceeds on a blues-based foundation though the occasional twist and turn does occur, as happens also with I'm Comin' Home. At times there are traces of Cream, whilst at others one feels that the riffs that shift from an almost acoustic feel to a more abrasive distortion are on a par with Jimmy Page's riffs with Led Zeppelin.
You Mystify has the band letting all hell let loose with Simms' searing guitar work. The shifts in time signature are continuous, once again proving the group's ability to go beyond the routine twelve bar format. Tool Of My Frade also has a backing Hammond, which stays firmly in the background, just adding to the fullness of the sound thus allowing for Simms to do away with the distortion, and even introduce an acoustic guitar. As always the guitar work is fantastic, but a word must be put in for the rhythm section, most notably Ken White's drumming which is constantly changing creating the perfect backbone for Simms and his guitars.
My Heaven and Birdcatcher bring the album to a close. My Heaven could be considered to be the mellower of the two blending both hard and acoustic rock, making it one of the more easy listening tracks on the album. On the other hand Birdcatcher is a straight forward track with Budgie-sque riff featuring plenty of blues influences. Of particular interest on this closing track is use of a flute which adds that Jethro Tull touch to the track. This touch as well as the interlude halfway through the track which has just flute and guitar with footsteps used to keep the beat create and incredibly fantastic atmosphere...[net]
"Patrick Campbell-Lyons was responsible for producing some of Vertigo's most fascinating releases. Among them was the debut album from Clear Blue Sky, which in my own estimation rates as the label's finest work. The band was a three piece from Acton, who were only 18 years old when the album was issued in 1971. Their album is now very collectable, and they are easily the match of any of their contemporaries."
Barry Winton/Record Collector/'The Vertigo Label'
Mar 16, 2009
One of the best psyche treasures on late 60s Mainstream Records -- a sunny, fuzzy album that's beyond compare! The Art Of Loving have a mixed male/female vocal style at their head -- a sound that's somewhere in the Mamas & Papas mode, but a bit more stripped down -- and crafted here with leaner, darker sounds that are really great -- and almost a bit spooky at times! As with other Mainstream rock sessions, there's something magical about the way the bass is recorded -- a completely flat tone that pushes the music up from the bottom, and really makes a magical platform for rougher guitar, organ, and drums. Tracks are almost all originals by male singer Paul Applebaum -- and titles include "Paul's Circus", "Take A Ride", "Good Times", "Daily Prayer", "The First Time", "You'll Walk Away", "State Of Mind", and "And I Have Seen Them All"...[net]
The Mainstream Records production is on par for the Chicago-based blues & jazz label which tended to hold back when recording psych bands such as Big Brother & the Holding Company, Tiffany Shade, Growing Concern, Bohemian Vendetta and Orient Express.
The Art of Lovin's talented female singer Gail Winnick wasn't given a chance to develop a stronger persona, and critics have described her unkindly as a faceless Grace Slick. However her contributions here are very nice.
Interestingly highlights include the arrangement of 'Paul's Circus' which opens the album auspiciously, the powerful 'You've Got The Power'and 'State Of Mind' gets in a nice groove and feature some good guitar...[net]
An obscure bit of psychedelic pop issued briefly on the Mainstream label at the end of the 60s -- one that's got a tighter groove and hipper sound than most of its contemporaries! The Stone Circus may have only left this one album behind in their career -- but it's a plenty great one, and shows the group to be extremely focused and polished, with a sound that's often highly rhythmic, and even a bit funky at times! Before the release of the album, the combo were actually known as The Funky Farm -- which might have something to do with the sound -- and the music here is a tight blend of basslines, snapping drums, organ, and guitar -- with bits of vibes thrown into the mix at a few especially great points in the set. Tracks are mostly originals -- done with a bit of fuzz at times -- with clever lyrics and titles that include "People I Once Knew", "Camino Real", "Inside-Out Man", "Sara Wells", "Carnival Of Love", "Blue Funk", and "What Went Wrong"...[net]
If you've been searching for an album full of dreamy, pseudo-psych pop-rock, then 1969's "The Stone Circus" may be the answer to your search. Largely written by keyboardist Caine (someone by the name of Murphy contributed two selections and co-wrote two of the songs with Caine), the album's quite enjoyable. Musically tracks such as 'What Went Wrong' and 'Sara Wells' were full of pretty melodies, nice harmonies and interesting studio effects. In terms of performances, Paige had a nice voice that was well suited to the band's blend of commercial moves and more psych/experimental efforts. Elsewhere, guitarist Haines offered up plenty of feedback drenched guitar on tracks such as 'Mr. Grey' and 'Blue Funk'...[net]
Mar 11, 2009
The Buckinghams had freed themselves from Guercio and consequently moved in more adventurous directions, as their brand of clean collar pop-rock was becoming fast outdated. Yes, the band explored new territory, but it was only new territory for them. In One Ear has a pile of songs that sound like second-rate tunes from other bands, either Love's orchestrated and acoustic dreams (the hushed "Simplicity"), or Paul Revere and the Raiders pop ("Till the Sun", "Are You There", "The Time of My Life"). Some sound like a deliberate attempt to break with their earlier sound (the country-rock attempt at humor "Our Right to Be Wrong" with phony vocals and massive amounts of slide guitar). Psychedelia only gets a few passing nods (the hazy, contemplative "I Know I Think" written by Grebb and Poulous, and the lame opening to "Song of the Breeze"). Giamarese did get to solo, but he does not show any of the exuberance displayed on their debut (the distorted guitars on "I Can't Find the Words" are a frustratingly missed opportunity). Still, In One Ear has plenty of "regular" Buckinghams materials, even though they had run out of Holvay/Bieber songs. Guercio's last work is here (Grebb's bluesy "What Is Love"), but even with Guercio gone, Grebb and arranger Sam Andrews know how to put major 7th chords, and horn and string arrangements together to copy the Buckingham's finer moments (the intro to "Back in Love Again" sounds eerily like Chicago). Their pre-Guercio style shows up only intermittently, such as on the fun soul flashback "Can I Get a Witness?"...[net]
The Buckinghams' 1968 swan song is easily their most adventurous album. Mostly, though, the music here is jazzy, horn-driven pop, precisely the sort of thing that would dominate the charts in another couple of years courtesy Blood, Sweat and Tears, and Chicago.
There are also a couple of oddball tracks that shouldn't be missed. "This is How Much I Love You" is prime pop psychedelia, with a baroque trumpet line lifted from the Beatles "Penny Lane," and a swirling fuzz guitar raga rock solo. "Our Right to Be Wrong" is a demented country breakdown which sounds for all the world like an early attempt at a deliberate low-fi esthetic. Best of all is "The Time of My Life," a metallic guitar workout (sans horns), that could be the Monkees crossed with the Who--it's far and away the hardest-rocking thing these guys ever did...[net]
Association are best known for their popularity in the 1960s, when they had numerous hits at or near the top of the Billboard charts. They are also notable for being the lead-off band at 1967's Monterey Pop Festival, essentially the first multi-group rock festival. They are known for their tight vocal harmony.
The national break would come with the song "Along Comes Mary", written by Tandyn Almer. Alexander first heard the song when he was hired to play on a demo version and persuaded Almer to give The Association first crack at it. The recording went to #7 on the Billboard charts, and led to the group's first album, And Then... Along Comes the Association, produced by Curt Boettcher. A song from the album, "Cherish", written by Kirkman, would become The Association's first #1 in September 1966.
The group followed with their second album, Renaissance, released in early 1967. Somewhat surprisingly, the band changed producers, dumping Boettcher in favor of Jerry Yester (brother of Jim and formerly of The Modern Folk Quartet). The album did not spawn any major hits (the highest charting single, "Pandora's Golden Heebie Jeebies" stalled at #35) and the album only reached #34, compared with a #5 showing for its predecessor.
In late 1966 Warner Bros. Records, which had been distributing Valiant, bought the smaller label (and with it, The Association's contract.) In 1967 when Jules Alexander left the band to study meditation in India, he was replaced by Larry Ramos (born April 19th, 1942, Waimea, Kauai, Hawaii), who had played with The New Christy Minstrels and recorded a solo single for Columbia Records.
With the lineup settled, the group returned to the studio, this time with Bones Howe in the producer's chair. The first fruits of this pairing would be the single "Windy" written by Ruthann Friedman. It reached #1 on the charts in May of 1967, and was followed closely by the album Insight Out which made it to #8 in June. On June 16, 1967, The Association had the unique honor of being the first act to perform at the Monterey Pop Festival. (The Criterion Collection DVD of the festival includes their spirited reading of "Along Comes Mary" on disc 3.)
The group's winning streak continued with their next single, "Never My Love", written by Don and Dick Addrisi; it went to #2 in Billboard and #1 in Cash Box in autumn 1967. It became the group's only double-sided charted record as its B-side, "Requiem For The Masses", made a brief showing on the Billboard chart.
"Never My Love" has been accredited by BMI as the song with the second most US airplay in the 20th century...[net]
Mar 9, 2009
Johnny Kidd's musical career began as leader of the 'Nutters' skiffle group. As the 1950s drew to a close most of the Lonnie Donegan inspired groups began to migrate to rock and roll. So it was with Johnny Kidd who with former 'nutter' Alan Caddy, Tony Docherty, Johnny Gordon and Ken McKay formed his new group 'The Pirates'. Their first release 'Please Don't Touch' managed to reach the chart, but didn't get inside the top twenty. As that rare commodity, 'British Rock and Roll' it ought to have done better. After failure of its follow-up the band reverted to a cover 'You Got What It Takes' which managed #25 despite direct competition from Marv Johnson who took the song to #5.
The Pirates line up gradually changed and Brian Gregg (bass) and Clem Cattini (drums) replaced Gordon and McKay. It was the first single with the new line-up that pushed Johnny Kidd to the top. 'Shaking All Over' is arguably the most atmospheric and original rock and roll record ever to have been produced in a British studio, though much is owed to the guitar riff played by session man Joe Moretti.
Further personnel changes were made to the Pirates over the years and some change of style took place with the coming of the British 'Beat Boom', but the underlying theme remained. The band would dress in pirate regalia and Kidd would always wear his eye-patch which is often unnecessarily explained through an apocryphal story concerning a broken guitar string.
Sadly, Johnny Kidd- possibly Britain's most original rock and roll performer- was killed in a road accident on October 7th 1966 near Bolton in Lancashire when he and his latest batch of Pirates were driving away after a performance.
The groups' numerous recordings offer some great cuts, with many gems hidden away on the flipsides of singles. There are also many tracks that were unreleased in Kidd's lifetime, including those from a 1964 aborted album which show off how powerful the group's sound could be... A two CD set, 56 tracks, newly remastered...
Here Disc One
Here Disc Two
Mar 7, 2009
Duncan Browne's melancholy first album, Give Me, Take You -- released on music impresario Andrew Loog Oldham's Immediate label in 1968 -- is one wonderfully tender album. Many who are discovering it more than 20 years after its original release are comparing its dulcet introspective tone to Nick Drake's albums. It does fall into a similar English folk vein, though Browne's arrangements are, on the whole, more Baroque, giving the album a semi-classical, regal feel. Browne charted his own classical arrangements and wrote out vocal charts for a choir, but turned to his art school friend David Bretton for song lyrics. It's Bretton's lovely Pre-Raphaelite style phrases, used here in the guise of lyrical content, that fans of this album often react strongly to, one way or another. True, there's a youthful innocence and melancholy that comes off as somewhat naïve sounding, mawkish, and awkward in our modern age -- "Better a tear of truth than smiling lies" is one example -- but this is a minor quibble. Immediate issued only one single from the album, "On the Bombsite," but it failed to connect with listeners. At the time of its release, Oldham's Immediate was reportedly falling apart. He was in financial ruin and reportedly cut the sessions short to save money...[net]
Duncan Browne's "Give Me Take You" is one of those rare albums where humanity, mythology, poetry, spirituality and the innocence of childhood somehow all converge into a wondrous work that seems out of place in this world. The beauty of this album is haunting and once you hear it, it is tough to forget the experience. Duncan charted his own classical arrangements and choir and did it with a stark yet amazingly beautiful compactness that works even better than Robert Kirby's work on Nick Drake's "Five Leaves Left."
Mar 6, 2009
Curved Air was founded in 1969 by Francis Monkman (keyboards, guitar), Darryl Way (electric violin, vocals), Sonja Kristina Linwood (vocals), Florian Pilkington-Miksa (drums), Rob Martin (bass). The group evolved from the band Sisyphus and was named by Monkman after the piece A Rainbow in Curved Air by contemporary composer Terry Riley.
The line-up experienced frequent changes, Ian Eyre taking over on bass for the second album and Mike Wedgwood for the third; later members included Eddie Jobson (later Roxy Music, Frank Zappa and Jethro Tull), Stewart Copeland (The Police) and Tony Reeves (ex-Greenslade, Colosseum, John Mayall). Only Sonja Kristina continuously remained as member. Monkman, member of Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, was later to play with John Williams in a group called Sky.
The musicians developed from quite different artistic backgrounds, classic, folk, and electronic sound, which resulted in a mixture of progressive rock, folk rock, and fusion with classical elements.
The band’s groundbreaking 1970 debut , Air Conditioning, reached no. 8 in the UK Albums Chart, and was the first ever picture disc. In 1976 the band recorded their last studio album and then eventually split . Intermittently since then, the group, particularly in its original line-up, has re-joined for periodic concerts, one of which in 1990 gave rise to another live album...[net]
"Air Conditioning" Curved Air's first record should be labeled a musical odyssey. The sheer brilliance of Francis Monkman's keyboards and guitar would be reason enough to procure the album. There are a myriad of mesmerizing events that further escalate the urgency in owning the recording. Sonja Kristina's vocals are captivating. Each word has a such a presence that the listener rids themselves of all internal distractions. Darryl Way's violin is played with the aggression of a guitar. It resonates in your mind long after the musical selection has ceased. While you often hear the band fall under the words progressive rock, they were influenced by avant-garde composer Terry Riley...[net]
Mar 5, 2009
Gallagher formed the first version of Taste in his native Ireland in 1966, with bassist Eric Kittringham and drummer Norman Damery. In May of 1968, he relocated to London and, still months shy of his 20th birthday, formed a new version of Taste with bassist Charlie McCracken (who had played bass with Spencer Davis, though not at the peak of Davis' hit-making days) and drummer John Wilson (who had been a drummer with Them, likewise not during one of their well-known incarnations). Two studio albums followed in 1969 and 1970, the second of which made the British Top 20. Taste was still virtually unknown in the States, when they broke up shortly afterwards...
"On The Boards" the group's second LP was issued in 1970 and was a much more satisfying affair than their debut. The record opens with the Taste show stopper "What's Going On" a powerful electric blues raveup with some stinging Gallagher guitar work. "Railway and Gun" is a folkish blues not too far removed from early Thin Lizzy. "It Happened Before, It'll Happen Again" is a remarkable number that really stretches out, Rory plays some really thoughtful runs on guitar and even plays some useful Alto Sax in the mid section.
"If The Day Was Any Longer" is a pretty laid back song that's almost folk-rock, Rory plays some nice Mel Lyman style harp on this one. "Morning Sun" is a full out rocker again recalling fellow Irishmen Thin Lizzy.
Side two opens with another blistering raver called "Eat My Words" the group is really clicking on this one Richard McCracken's plays lead bass right in your face ala Andy Fraser, Rory plays some razor sharp bottleneck lines while John Wilson plays the Ginger Baker part on drums.
"If I Don't Sing I'll Cry" is a blues rock stomper in the Savoy Brown mold and may be seen as a throwaway but nothing too bad. "See Here" is a beautiful solo acoustic song by Rory, kinda like Danny Kirwan's contributions to Fleetwood Mac's classic "Then Play On" album.
"On The Boards" finishes with "I'll Remember" which is the best song on the album, the arrangement is great, the band are totally in sync and they rock like there is no tomorrow. "On The Boards" is a tight well played album that is filled with great songs with no frills just the way Rory liked it...[net]
The title track "On The Boards" is a very interesting one that uses space to great effect, Rory's guitar sounds very San Francisco-ish like he just got done jamming with Barry Melton...
Mar 3, 2009
The band EUPHORIA was short-lived (1968 to 1969), consisting of 4 members, Roger Penney and Wendy Penney, Tom Pacheco, and Sharon Alexander.
Roger and Wendy were a folk duo performing in Greenwich Village, using the names Roger Becket and Wendy Becket.
EUPHORIA is generally regarded as a Sunshine pop group.
Initially, Roger and Wendy were approached by Tom and Sharon to form a band with the express purpose of procuring a recording deal. Roger and Wendy were to front the band as lead vocalists in the Folk Rock group, with Roger Penney on electric autoharp and keyboard, Wendy on bass guitar, Tom on guitar, and Sharon on percussion. They signed with Jerry Ross's Heritage Records, which was affiliated with MGM as distributor and promoter, and recorded one album entitled "Euphoria (Sunshine Pop a la The Mamas And Papas or Spanky And Our Gang). Arranged by Joe Renzettii it was released in 1969, but without promotional support. A single was released of "You Must Forget", with Roger singing lead. Another single, of "Calm Down" was also released on Polydor Records. The album and the group's live performances were subjects of printed articles in Record World magazine,Go magazine,Cashbox magazine, and Variety. Euphoria performed with such notables as Van Morrison, and the 1910 Fruitgum Company at Madison Square Garden's Felt Forum as well as with Sly and the Family Stone and Iron Butterfly. They appeared on the Bozo The Clown television show at WWOR-TV from New York City, and were slated for a performance on the Johnny Carson Show but disbanded before appearing. Roger and Wendy went on to form Bermuda Triangle Band...[net]
Nothing unusual about these guys, because the record's a great batch of Sunshine Pop vocal work -- very much in the best spirit of bigger work from the late 60s! The album's the only one we've ever seen from the group, but it's a real gem through and through -- a great batch of tracks that blends male and female voices together with a wonderfully swirling sort of sound -- supported by arrangements that are full, but never too lush to smother the vocals -- and served up with a nicely groovy sense of rhythm at the bottom! A few tracks have a nice undercurrent of subtle funk -- thanks, no doubt, to production from Harold Battiste -- and titles include "Close Your Eyes", "Topanga Canyon", "My Bag", "All Day Long", "Bright Spectrum Of Colors", "Feeling Kinda Sunday", "Little Sister", and "It's Good To Be Happy"...[net]
Raved about by collectors of 60s sunshine pop, the Unusual We's first and only record is quite shitty. A weak mix of Free Design and Up With People, this Harold Battiste production would be disposable if not for the funky and stylistically jarring song, "My Bag." The flute/drum intro reminds me of Manfred Mann Chapter III or Stark Reality, and I would be surprised if someone somewhere hasn't sampled it. The groove established and Free Design style group vocals come in. It is an odd mix of sounds - stoned, slinky funk and straight, uptight vox - but it works. The second song I'm laying on you - "Little Sister" - makes the cut only because "My Bag" is so good and I don't want to leave you with just one song. The band? I have no idea. The sleeve notes suggest that it is made up of four couples - loving couples and, if the front cover is photo is any hint, swingers. Chances are that the couple are props or at least not couples but session players, as usual with these kind of sounds...(crudcrud blog review)
well..I must say I totally agree with the second reviewer & the only reason for this post is that many people out there asked me for it...so here it is..get it!
24bit digitally Remastered from the original mastertapes. Limited 500 copies only worldwide.
Mar 2, 2009
The Ozark Mountain Daredevils were among the more popular of mid-'70s country-rock outfits, slotting in chronologically and stylistically between the Eagles and Firefall. As exponents of '70s country-rock, the group rode a wave of success for five years on A&M Records and survived in some form into the 1990s, with a following just large enough to justify occasional record releases in their later years. The sextet was formed in Missouri during the early '70s, consisting of guitarists John Dillon and Steve Cash, blues harpist/singer/guitarist Randle Chowning, drummer/guitarist/singer Larry Lee, keyboard player Buddy Brayfield, and bassist-vocalist Michael Granda, and was signed to A&M Records in 1973. Their first album, recorded under the supervision of producer Glyn Johns (who had also worked with the Eagles), was a critical success and yielded a Top 30 hit in "If You Want to Get to Heaven." A year later, they had the biggest hit in their history, "Jackie Blue," a mellow piece of country-rock that got to number three on the charts and still gets played occasionally as a '70s oldie. They had an ethereal edge to their sound and songs that made them especially appealing to college-age listeners during the middle of the decade. Their self-titled debut album set the tone for the group's next four releases, although by 1978's Don't Look Down, the sound was somewhat closer to country-pop than country-rock. Collegiate girls and their boyfriends could relate to them, and a sense of humor didn't hurt (their third LP, The Car Over the Lake Album had cover art featuring -- you guessed it -- a car over a lake). Lee, Dillon (who later played with fellow Daredevil Steve Cash on the Waylon Jennings/Jessi Colter White Mansions concept album), and Chowning authored most of the songs that anyone knows ("Jackie Blue," "Following the Way I Feel," "Fly Away Home"). The group enjoyed success primarily on FM radio from 1973 until 1978, and were popular enough to justify the recording and release of a double-LP concert album...[net]
Mar 1, 2009
Scotland's String Driven Thing composed of Chris Adams and his wife and guitarist John Mannion. While they stayed rather unsuccessful for a long while, with their debut album completely unnoticed on a independent label. By 71, the group had seen Mannion leaving, but he was replaced with violinist Grahame Smith and bassist Colin Wilson. Soon they got signed to the Charisma label and with Shel Talmy producing two excellent albums, encountering a certain kind of success in Continental Europe, but staying close to unknown in the Isles. After health-related problems in a tour founder Chris Adams quit with his wife leaving Grahame Smith reforming the group from scratch for two further albums. Neither of these albums will have the charm or adventure of the two earlier albums, developing a more AOR rock that had no real distinction except for a violin sound and the group folded in the mis-70’s.
An archetypal progressive rock outfit, formed in mid-1968 by husband and wife Chris and Pauline Adams. Although their debut album bears little resemblance to their subsequent work, being full of US West Coast-influenced breezy harmony-pop, only 100 copies were pressed and it's now inevitably rare and sought-after.
In 1972 they expanded the line-up, with Graeme Smith a classically trained violinist from the Scottish National Orchestra, Bill Hatje and Colin Wilson. The same year they signed to Charisma and released an eponymous album which enjoyed considerable critical acclaim. Characterised by Chris Adams' hard bitten lyrics and doomy vocals and Graham Smith's wailing violin playing, their 'sound' had built up a strong following on the club/college circuit. 1972 also saw them on tour in the U.S. with Genesis...[net]