Dec 23, 2010

EARLY BRITISH ROCK & ROLL (EMI Recordings 1956 - 1961) 2CD [64 songs]

This double-CD set lives up to its title, at least as a representative compilation of the period it covers -- no vinyl compilation ever aspired to offer anything like the 64 tracks presented here, all dug out of the EMI vaults. Conceptually this is a killer collection, representing early dawning years of British rock, when acts like Vince Taylor & the Playboys, jazz trombonistDon Lang, and be-bop drummer Tony Crombie and his group the Rockets all competed for the public's attention, and the book was still being written on how to make (or succeed in) rock & roll. It all predates the Beatles as a recording act, though a handful of names came through the transition wrought by the Liverpool quartet and are recognizable today (albeit not always for rock & roll, as in the case of Jim Dale) -- the Shadows, Johnny Kidd & the Pirates, and Adam Faith (who does a killer rendition of "High School Confidential" years before he became a success with a smoother brand of rock & roll) are among those who survived to rock another day. But as obscure as Janice Peters (who sounded like a British version of Jo Ann Campbell) or the Five Chesternuts may be today, the music here is all eminently enjoyable, and on a lot more than a historical basis -- these acts could rock out, and if they weren't as original or creative as the Americans whose sounds they emulated, they did put on a great show.

Two acts here, Dickie Pride and Bobby Angelo and the Tuxedos, are a genuine surprise, delivering as good a rock & roll sound as anyone ever heard on this side of the Atlantic. The influences that abound are fascinating, the near-ubiquitous sound of Elvis Presley (and, to a lesser degree, Jerry Lee Lewis) vocally, on the part of most featured singers, vying for prominence with the boogie-woogie-inspired jazz origins of Bill Haley, with some influence also felt from Jerry Lee Lewis' band. Nobody, at least at EMI's various labels, apparently ever considered trying to re-create Chuck Berry's or Bo Diddley's sounds. Speaking of sound, it ranges from the very good to the startlingly excellent, nice and loud with a lot of presence and sharper than the records ever were. There are a few gaps, like the absence of Janice Peters' "A Girl Likes," and it seems a little unnecessary to have included Johnny Kidd & the Pirates' "Shakin' All Over," except to give purchasers at least one familiar hit. But considering that the contents are limited to the EMI vaults, the quality and consistency of the contents across two hours of listening is astonishing. And the notes by Dave Travis are practically worth the purchase price by themselves. ~ Bruce Eder

Part One

Part Two

Part Three


For their second Reprise Records outing, Pearls Before Swine worked primarily with Nashville-based musicians, including a small orchestra who provide a stately feel to the highly intimate nature of the material. According to Tom Rapp's comments in the liner booklet accompanying the Jewels Were the Stars (2003) box , the songs were written while he and his wife were living in the Netherlands, which Rapp said contributed significantly to the air of romanticism throughout. "Jeweller" opens the album with an exquisite tale that exemplifies Rapp's remarkable abilities to draw upon disparate metaphors such as shining coins and worshiping God, both involving the Use of Ashes -- hence the title. The rural mood created by the notable Music City USA stalwarts effortlessly fuses with David Briggs' baroque-flavored harpsichord on the delicate "From the Movie of the Same Name," featuring Rapp and spouse Elisabeth on non-verbal vocalizations as they "da-da-da" the melody. Although "Rocket Man" predates the Elton John cut by a couple of years, Bernie Taupin cites it as his inspiration for the lyrics behind John's 1972 Top Ten hit. The words are credited as having been influenced by a Ray Bradbury novella that dealt with the universal emotion of loss. Again, Briggs' keyboard runs relate the story with subdued refinement. By contrast, "God Save the Child" is one of the more amplified inclusions, making good use of session heavies Kenneth A. Buttrey (drums) and Charlie McCoy (guitar), especially when placed against the restrained string section. Another sonic texture in the tapestry is the jazzy "Tell Me Why," shimmering with an uncredited vibraphone lead gliding beneath Rapp's whimsical lines. These tracks are offset by the noir "When the War Began," the ethereal love song "Margery," and the mid-tempo retelling of the "Riegal," a ship whose 4,000 inhabitants perished during World War II. Rapp's juxtaposition of stark imagery reveals that while Pearls Before Swine might not have continued the bombastic direction set about on their earlier protest works "Uncle John" or "Drop Out," they maintained social and political relevance.


By early 1969, the original line-up of Pearls Before Swine - which had only ever performed in the studio, never live - was disintegrating around its leader and mainstay, singer and songwriter Tom Rapp. Original members Lane Lederer and Roger Crissinger had left, and Rapp had married Dutch traveller Elisabeth (surname unrecorded), whom he had met in New York when recording the album Balaklava. Original member Wayne Harley remained in the group, but left shortly after These Things Too was recorded.
The group had now left ESP-Disk and joined Reprise, a major label, and Rapp and producer Richard Alderson recruited studio musicians to play on the album. Chief among these was Jim Fairs, formerly of garage band The Cryan’ Shames, who acted as co-producer and arranger as well as musician. Other musicians included violinist Richard Greene, later of Seatrain, and jazz drummer Grady Tate.
These Things Too has been described as Rapp’s ”dreamy” album, and it is generally less well regarded by critics than the albums which immediately preceded and followed it, Balaklava (1968) and The Use of Ashes (1970). Rapp stated that it was the first Pearls Before Swine album which reflected drug use in the writing of the songs.
The album sleeve showed a 15th century painting of Christ by Giovanni Bellini. The picture was removed from the version of the album issued in Germany because it showed Christ’s nipple exposed

PEARLS BEFORE SWINE - BALAKLAVA (ESP 1968) Jap mastering cardboard sleeve

For this second album, original group members Tom Rapp, Wayne Harley and Lane Lederer were joined by Jim Bohannon, who replaced Roger Crissinger. Like the group’s previous LP on ESP-Disk, "One Nation Underground", it was recorded at Impact Sound in New York City. Recordings probably took place in early 1968 – although some CD reissues state that it was recorded in 1965, this appears to be an error. Lederer left the group during, or shortly after, the recordings, and the basic group was augmented by studio musicians.
Rapp has stated that he wanted to produce a themed anti-war album, and chose the Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava in 1854 as an example of the futility of war. The album was dedicated to Private Edward Slovik, the only US soldier executed for desertion in the Second World War. The front cover, a detail of "The Triumph of Death" by Pieter Brueghel the Elder, showed a grotesque allegorical depiction of the horrors of war, while the back cover showed a photograph of a young girl at an anti-war protest. The cover also included the quote ”Only the dead have seen the end of war” by George Santayana, together with surreal and horrific drawings by Jean Cocteau. Incidentally, the cover contributed to the mystique surrounding the group - there were few if any photographs of its members published, and Pearls Before Swine did not perform in concert before 1971.
The album itself starts with a recording of “Trumpeter Landfrey” (his name was in fact Martin Lanfried), one of the original buglers from the 1854 battle. Together with the recording of Florence Nightingale later on the album, this was taken from an archive 1890 cylinder recording, which had been reissued on 78rpm records in the 1930s.
"Images of April", in contrast, is an evocation of nature, featuring dubbed bird song. After "There Was A Man", a simpler story-based folk song, another highlight is "I Saw The World". Its innocent but heartfelt lyric (Rapp was just 21 at the time) - "I saw the world spinning like a toy / Hate seems so small compared to it all, so why don’t you do joy ?" - is supplemented by overdubs of natural sounds including waves, as well as wind chimes and a lush string arrangement. "Guardian Angels" is a ballad recorded deliberately to sound as it if it were on a scratchy 1920s 78rpm record, and was presented as such ("recorded in Guadelope, Mexico, in 1929…" ) on the sleeve.
The generally less artistically successful second side of the original LP starts with a version of Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne" , followed by Rapp’s original "Lepers and Roses", a complex ballad full of allegorical classical references. After the archive recording of Florence Nightingale, the final track, "Ring Thing", is a dramatic evocation of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings with crashing gongs and bagpipe drones. At the end, the sound of a tape spooling backwards through the album takes the listener back to "Trumpeter Landfrey" – the message seeming to be that the cycle of war and confusion is destined to continue.
The album repeated its predecessor’s critical success on the underground college scene of the late 1960s, and has subsequently been regularly rated most highly of all Rapp’s albums. Following the album's release, Rapp extricated himself from his ESP contract and signed with Reprise Records...

PEARLS BEFORE SWINE - ONE NATION UNDERGROUND (ESP 1967) Jap mastering cardboard sleeve

Psychedelic-folk debut from one of the most erudite, literate minds in rock, Thomas D. Rapp (and the first of his ever-changing Swine). Although the songs here lack some cohesion, this is still a stunning piece of work, from the nightmarish sleeve art -- the "Hell Panel" from Hieronymus Bosch's 15th century painting "Garden of Delights" -- to the strange yet powerful songs. "Another Time," the most memorable selection, is an understated acoustic song, the first that Rapp ever penned, based on his experience in a horrific car crash where he walked away unscathed. Of similar mood is the beautiful "Ballad of an Amber Lady." "Drop Out" is a straightforward song built around a popular credo of the '60s. "Uncle John" is one of the earliest protest songs about the Vietnam War. Strangest (and funniest) of all is "(Oh Dear) Miss Morse," where Rapp adopts a Victorian persona and sounds out the Morse code spelling of F-U-C-K, accompanied by banjo and Farfisa organ.
Considering Rapp's fascination with history, it's not surprising that one of the songs here, "I Shall Not Care," features a co-writer credit to "Roman Tombs." The cryptic words that comprise this song's title were discovered on a tomb that dates to the final days of the Roman Empire.
It was recorded at Impact Sound in New York City, between May 6-9, 1967, by the Florida-based group, which at that point comprised main songwriter and singer Tom Rapp, Wayne Harley, Lane Lederer, and Roger Crissinger. Percussion was by session musician Warren Smith.
The album presents a mixture of styles - "psychedelic folk reminiscent of Donovan collides with Farfisa-driven punk and hard-to-categorize repetitive minimalism, all thrown together with the undisciplined, creative exuberance of youth"...

Dec 15, 2010

B.J. THOMAS - I'M SO LONESOME I COULD CRY (SCEPTER 1966) Jap mastering cardboard sleeve + 5 bonus

B.J.Thomas was raised in and around Houston, Texas, graduating from Lamar Consolidated High School in Rosenberg. Before his solo career, Thomas sang in a church choir as a teenager then joined the musical group The Triumphs. During his senior year he made friends with Roy Head of Roy Head and The Traits. The Traits and the Triumphs held several Battle of the Bands events in the early 1960s featuring Head and Thomas.

In 1966, B. J. Thomas and The Triumphs released the album, I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry (Pacemaker Records). The album featured a hit cover of the Hank Williams song, "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry". It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. In the same year, Thomas released a solo album of the same name on Scepter Records.
What distinguishes I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry is the title tune, B.J.’s take on the Hank Williams classic. The original single was a big hit in his hometown of Houston, TX, and as such led to his contract with Scepter Records.
The record features another Hank cover, “There’ll Be No Teardrops Tonight,” a weepy ballad that Thomas gives his all to. As was the rather common practice for a new artist in 1966, B.J. recorded a few other well-known songs, including versions of “It’s Not Unusual,” and “In The Midnight Hour.”
A songwriting friend of B.J.’s from Houston, Mark Charrone wrote five songs that were included on I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry. One of his specialties was in the art of the one word song title: “Mama,” “Wendy,” “Terri,” and “Maria.” The fifth? Two words: “I Wonder"...

BERT JANSCH - NICOLA (TRANSATLANTIC 1967) Jap mastering cardboard sleeve + 2 bonus

Jansch's third solo album is perhaps too lightly dismissed by both folk critics and the artist himself. Bowing slightly to commercial pressures, he allowed orchestration to be used on five of the 12 tracks. Actually, the orchestrated cuts aren't that bad at all, and the remainder are pretty much keeping with the character and high standard of his other '60s work. Nine of the 12 cuts are Jansch originals, and ably display his nimble guitar work, incorporation of blues, traditional British Isles folk influences into a contemporary style, and his Donovan-esque vocals. For the first and only time, he played both electric and acoustic guitars on this LP; it's also his first work to feature drumming. Some of the orchestrated numbers, especially "Woe Is Love, My Dear," were actually deemed to have potential as singles. That didn't happen (the cut "Wish My Baby Was Here" would have been a better choice in any event), but that doesn't take away from their fey period charm.
An orchestrated version of 'Train Song' was attempted during the Nicola sessions but, while fondly remembered by arranger David Palmer, did not make the finished product. Neither did two further outtakes 'In This Game' and 'Dissatisfied Blues' (both of which he performed live during the city hall tour of early 1967) although they later appeared on Box Of Love - The Bert Jansch Sampler Vol. 2 (1972), issued on Transatlantic shortly after Bert had left the label. They have also been resurrected on the new reissue of Nicola...

PENTAGLE - SOLOMON'S SEAL (REPRISE 1972) Jap DSD mastering cardboard sleeve

It was the last album recorded by the original Pentangle line-up, before the band split in 1973. Jacqui McShee has stated that it is her favourite Pentangle album. The album title refers to the Seal of Solomon — a mythical signet ring with magical powers, sometimes associated with the pentagram symbol adopted by Pentangle.
Solomon's Seal was recorded at Sound Techniques studio, London, between February and March 1972. Pentangle's contract with Transatlantic had expired and, amid a dispute with Transatlantic over royalties, the band had switched allegiance to Warner/Reprise, who had been their U.S. distributor. The album was released in September 1972, to coincide with the start of new tour. However, by the start of 1973, the band had split and sales of the album were disappointing, leaving the band members still paying off their debts, against the album's advance royalties, into the early 1980s.
The album opens with their version of Cyril Tawney's song of a sailor's lost love: "Sally Free and Easy". Unlike its usual rendition as a sea shanty, Pentangle treat this to a slow bluesy rhythm. The remainder of the album is divided between traditional songs and the band's own compositions.
It includes some thoughtful arrangements (the use of sitar and recorders in "The Snows", for example) and displays production values of ensuring that every instrument is audible but balanced in the whole sound. However, it lacks some of the riskier features of early Pentangle albums: there are no improvised jazz duets between the two guitarists and no double bass solos, for example. As such, it could be praised for being a very "polished" sound or criticised for lacking the exciting creative edge of earlier Pentangle work. Colin Harper wrote "Solomon's Seal is a record of people's weariness, but also the product of a unit whose members were still among the best players, writers and musical interpreters of their day."

SEEDS - A WEB OF SOUND (GNP-CRESCENDO 1966) Jap mastering cardboard sleeve + 1 bonus

‘A Web of Sounds’ shows The Seeds continuing with the same caliber tracey Garage Rock they injected into the California rock & roll circuit with their debut. Though it was not much of a progression, it is easy to hear their influence on the upcoming psychedelic scene of 1967.
Apart from the inclusion of instant Garage Rock classic ‘Mr. Farmer’, one of the most important, yet least impressive tracks on ‘A Web of Sound’ is ‘Up in Her Room’. THE SEEDS did have the longest recorded extended jam on a Rock & Roll LP on their debut with the 6 minute ‘Evil Hoodoo’. Since then, THE ROLLING STONES released their own extended jam titled ‘Goin’ Home’ on the LP ‘Aftermath’. Sky was obviously not satisfied with THE STONES retort and extended ‘Up in Her Room’ to 14.5 minutes. Their title would be taken forever a mere 4 months later when LOVE dedicated an entire side of their upcoming sophomore release ‘Da Capo’ to one song (‘Revelation’).
Seed's music was a big influence on many popular bands of the day including THE DOORS. The seeds are often lumped into the NUGGETS crowd of 'One-Flop-Wonders' but with a little more awareness these guys could easily attain the current status that a band like, say, the MC5 have today. They were equally as important & ‘A Web of Sound’ makes that obvious...

THE SEEDS - THE SEEDS (GNP-CRESCENDO 1966) Jap mastering cardboard sleeve + 1 bonus

The Seeds were formed in 1965 with Saxon joining as a response to an advertisement. Keyboardist Daryl Hooper was a major factor in the band's sound; the band was one of the first to utilize keyboard bass. Guitarists Jan Savage and Jeremy Levine with drummer Rick Andridge completed the original quintet, but Levine left shortly after the first recording sessions for personal reasons.
Their first single, "Can't Seem To Make You Mine", was a regional hit in southern California in 1965. The song was also played regularly on AM rock stations in northern California (and probably elsewhere), where it was well received by listeners. The band had their only national Top 40 hit, "Pushin' Too Hard", in 1966 (#44 in Canada). Three subsequent singles, "Mr. Farmer" (also 1966), a re-release of "Can't Seem To Make You Mine" (1967) (#33 in Canada), and "A Thousand Shadows" (1968) achieved more modest success, although all were most popular in southern California. Musically uncomplicated and dominated by Saxon's vocal style and flair for simple melodic hooks, their first two albums are today considered classics of '60s garage music. A later album was devoted to the blues (with liner notes by Muddy Waters), and another (Future, 1967) was full-blown psychedelic rock, with ornate flower-themed graphics to match.
By mid-1968, with their commercial popularity flagging, the group's personnel began to change; the band was renamed "Sky Saxon and the Seeds" in 1969, by which point Bob Norsoph, guitar, and Don Boomer, drums, had replaced Savage and Andridge. Saxon continued to use the name "The Seeds", using various backup musicians, at least through 1972; the last major-label records of new material by The Seeds—two non-charting singles on MGM records—were released in 1970.
"Pushin' Too Hard" was named one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.
"Pushin' Too Hard" was featured in one episode of the television situational comedy The Mothers-In-Law. A character in the show became the manager of a band known as "The Warts." The band was actually the Seeds.
"Mr. Farmer" was featured in the end credits of the documentary "King Corn".
"Pushin' Too Hard" was featured in the opening sequence of the movie "Air America".
"Can't Seem To Make You Mine" has been covered by seven different groups...

Dec 10, 2010

BEN SIDRAN - FEEL THE GROOVE (CAPITOL 1971) Jap mastering cardboard sleeve

A rare Capitol Records outing from Ben Sidran – and one of his best from the early years! The album's a quirky batch of tracks that also gets nice and funky at times – and some of the best cuts have a tightly snapping feel with plenty of breaks – so much so that the album's been a beathead classic for years! But even the cuts without the breaks are great – straighter jazz, but with a really nice edge – and really in the frontiers of jazz vocal work – hardly the stuff that might have been recorded a few years before. Most instrumentation is small combo, with a mixture of electric and acoustic instrumentation – and titles include the sublime groover "About Love", plus "Poor Girl", "Leo's My Name", "Spread Your Wings", "My Wife", and "That Fine Day"[Dusty Groove America]
At the time of the first release for “Feel The Groove” back in 1971 Ben was very much aprt of the rock world due to his extensive involvement with THE STEVE MILLER BAND both as musician, co-writer and eventually producer.
“Feel Your Groove” features many well know guests including fellow STEVE MILLER accomplice BOZ SCAGGS, HUMBLE PIES PETER FRAMPTON & GREG RIDLEY, CHARLIE WATTS of THE ROLLING STONES, Jazz Trumpeter BLUE MITCHELL, MIMI FARINA (sister of JOAN BAEZ, session giant JIM KELTNER and numerous other well known West Coast and Texas musicians.
A Great Album! Don't miss it!

BOB DOWNES OPEN MUSIC - ELECTRIC CITY (VERTIGO 1970) Jap mastering cardboard sleeve

One of the hippest albums of the British jazz rock generation – a set that stretches out in ways the definitely live up to the "open mind" in the title! Bob Downes heads up the group on vocals and saxes – and he's working here with a great array of players who include Kenny Wheeler, Harry Beckett, and Ian Carr on trumpets; Chris Spedding and Ray Russell on guitars; and the great Latin player Robin Jones on percussion! Although many tracks have a rock-like structure and composition, there's also a fair bit of jazzy influences going on here too – especially on the album's funkier moments, which often mix some great work from the larger horn section from tighter rhythms at the core of the ensemble. Downes handled all arrangements, and often shows a vision that's not unlike that of Johnny Cameron at the time on similar projects. Groovers include the jazzy "Dawn Until Dawn", the Latiny groover "West II", the guitar/drum workout "Go Find Time", and the modal "Crush Hour" – plus "Don't Let Tomorrow Get You Down", "In Your Eyes", and "Gonna Take A Journey"[Dusty Groove America]

INNER DIALOGUE - INNER DIALOGUE (RANWOOD 1969) Jap/Kor mastering cardboard sleeve

A superb sunshine pop album, with some baroque touches. Two women singers and their intertwining vocals weave complex vocal parts around top rate arrangements. This record could give Free Design a run for their money any day.
Yes, it is very good sunshine pop that manages to not cross over the line into…saccharine embarrasment. Never as elaborately conceived and just out and out radical as The Free Design at their best, nor as perfectly realised as the Curt Boettcher produced Eternity’s Children…this, if you are into sunshine pop with that ever so slightly subversive element, is a thoroughly worthwhile purchase and as good if not better than some of the major names in this odd and wonderfully time-locked genre. (RYM Reviews)

Hello!!!....Back home again!

Back home again after a couple of month's work in the village. (Collecting olives is a hard work but I suppose it's worth the money!)
Here are some photos...
These gigantic mushrooms (last photo) growing there in large numbers under the trees but I can't tell for sure if they are good for eating! I better stay away!!