Aug 24, 2011

HOT TUNA - DOUBLE DOSE (GRUNT/RCA 1978) JVC K2 mastering cardboard sleeve

Hot Tuna, now a quartet with the official addition of keyboardist Nick Buck, released this two-LP live album, its first concert material in seven years, and having thus summed things up, broke up as the album hit record stores. Double Dose gave a good sense of mature Hot Tuna as a vehicle for the musical interests of Jorma Kaukonen, who used the entire first side as an acoustic solo set, then included the excellent "Genesis" from his solo album Quah on side B. Elsewhere, the electrified group alternated between Kaukonen's best Hot Tuna compositions and blues and rock standards. It was produced by Felix Pappalardi (Cream, Mountain), who gave Hot Tuna its best recorded sound; even though it's a "live" record, there seems to have been a lot of studio overdubbing. ~ William Ruhlmann
Side A
"Winin' Boy Blues" (Jelly Roll Morton) – 5:57
"Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning" (Reverend Gary Davis) – 3:08
"Embryonic Journey" (Jorma Kaukonen) – 1:56
"Killing Time in the Crystal City" (Kaukonen) – 6:35
Side B
"I Wish You Would" (Billy Boy Arnold) – 4:20
"Genesis" (Kaukonen) – 4:16
"Extrication Love Song" (Kaukonen) – 4:26
"Talking 'Bout You" (Chuck Berry) – 5:34
Side C
"Funky #7" (Kaukonen, Jack Casady) – 8:49
"Serpent of Dreams" (Kaukonen) – 6:43
"Bowlegged Woman, Knock Kneed Man" (Bobby Rush, Calvin Carter) – 4:51
Side D
"I See the Light" (Kaukonen) – 5:49
"Watch the North Wind Rise" (Kaukonen) – 4:58
"Sunrise Dance with the Devil" (Kaukonen) – 5:38
"I Can't Be Satisfied" (McKinley Morganfield) – 4:58

JEFFERSON STARSHIP - SPITFIRE (GRUNT/RCA 1976) JVC K2 mastering cardboard sleeve

Spitfire was Jefferson Starship's 1976 follow-up to the chart-topping Red Octopus (1975), and it found the band in a cooperative mood. All seven bandmembers earned writing credits on at least one of the nine songs, along with eight outsiders, and even drummer John Barbata got a lead vocal on the simple rock & roll song "Big City." But the three main power centers in the group remained in place. Singer/guitarist Paul Kantner continued to turn out his lengthy, complex songs with their exhortatory, vaguely political lyrics (the five-minute "Dance with the Dragon" and the seven-minute "Song to the Sun: Ozymandias/Don't Let It Rain"). Singer Grace Slick contributed her own idiosyncratic compositions, simultaneously elliptical and passionately stated ("Hot Water" and "Switchblade"). And singer Marty Balin, whose romantic ballad "Miracles" had fueled the success of Red Octopus, wrote (or located) and sang more songs of love and pleasure ("Cruisin'," "St. Charles," "With Your Love," and "Love Lovely Love"). Weaving the three styles together were the fluid lead guitar work of Craig Chaquico and the alternating bass and keyboard playing of David Freiberg and Pete Sears. The result was an album that quickly scaled the charts, spending six consecutive weeks at number three in Billboard and going platinum. That it didn't do better on the band's considerable career momentum can be put down to the relatively disappointing nature of the material. There was no "Miracles" on the album, to begin with. Grunt Records released the more modest "With Your Love" as a single and got it into the Top 20, but the closest thing to "Miracles" was really "St. Charles," a song that certainly had some of the same elements but lacked the kind of direct emotional statement that made "Miracles" a classic. Similarly, "Dance with the Dragon" was no "Ride the Tiger" (from Dragon Fly [1974]), and while "Switchblade" was an unusually clear statement of romantic intent from Slick (whose "lyrical wordplay is...not easily accessible yet compelling and thought-provoking," as 2004 reissue annotator Jeff Tamarkin generously says of "Hot Water"), its provocative title made it an unlikely choice for an adult contemporary hit. Spitfire was more than the sum of its parts, boasting the sort of vocal interplay and instrumental virtuosity that had always been the hallmarks of Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship. If the band had taken more time to write and find better songs, it might have matched the sales and quality of its predecessor.[allmusic]

RENAISSANCE - PROLOGUE (SOVEREIGN/CAPITOL 1972) Jap mastering cardboard sleeve

The first album by the '70s (i.e. Annie Haslam) version of Renaissance is a transitional work, rooted in more standard hard rock sounds (including psychedelia) than what followed. One can spot the difference, which may please some listeners and put others off, in the fairly heavy guitar sound of "Prologue," Rob Hendry's electric instrument playing both lead and rhythm parts prominently at various times behind Annie Haslam's soaring vocals and adjacent to John Tout's piano. "Kiev" may also startle some longtime fans, since Haslam doesn't handle the lead vocals, the male members' singing being much more prominent. The ethereal, flowingly lyrical "Sounds of the Sea" is the cut here that most resembles the music that the group became known for in the years ahead, and shows Haslam singing in the high register for which she would become famous. "Spare Some Love," with its prominent folky acoustic guitar, also anticipates material (specifically "Let It Grow" and "On The Frontier") off of the group's better known second album, Ashes Are Burning. "Bound For Infinity" marked the final creative contribution by co-founder Jim McCarty, of the '60s version of Renaissance, and is pretty enough even if it doesn't fit in anywhere with their subsequent sound. And the 11-minute epic "Rajah Khan," with its elements of raga-rock, including sitar-like passages on Hendry's electric guitars and an extended VCS 3 synthesizer solo by Francis Monkman, is a more advanced and virtuoso descendant of late '60s psychedelia. It, too, has little to do with the sound that the group subsequently adopted (although it does intersect, in the most peripheral way, with "Song of Scheherazade" and some of the other Eastern-theme works that preceded it), but the track is entertaining and does show off a startlingly different type of art-rock toward which this group could have gravitated. The sound is clean, and this version of Prologue is to be preferred over Capitol's abortive attempt to reissue it in the late 1980's as In The Beginning, which cut some of the material and had totally lackluster sound.[allmusic]

Aug 19, 2011

FIFTY FOOT HOSE - CAULDRON (LIMELIGHT/MERCURY 1968) Jap mastering cardboard sleeve + 7 bonus

Fifty Foot Hose were one of the most unusual '60s San Francisco psychedelic bands, in part because they weren't really that psychedelic. Like a few other acts of the time (most notably the United States of America), they were trying to fuse the contemporary sounds of rock with electronic instruments and avant-garde compositional ideas. Only one album resulted from the ambitious enterprise, and that record (Cauldron, 1968) still remains unknown to all but hardcore collectors. Although an erratic work, it was intriguing for its mix of jazzy psychedelic rock tunes with electronic sound effects that anticipated future models of synthesizers, but sounded fiercer and more primitive.
Fifty Foot Hose were founded by bassist Cork Marcheschi, who had previously been in a conventional rock/R&B band the Ethix. Under Marcheschi's prodding, in 1967, the Ethix released one wildly atonal single, "Bad Trip," whose violent musique concrete foreshadowed the avant-garde postures of his subsequent group (in fact, "Bad Trip" was more avant-garde than anything Fifty Foot Hose would record). (Apparently it was played once on a local underground radio station, and then never again.) Interested in the ideas of experimental composers like Edgar Varese, John Cage, Terry Riley, and George Antheil, Marcheschi constructed his own electronic instrument from a combination of elements like Theremins, fuzz boxes, a cardboard tube, and a speaker from a World War II aircraft bomber.
Fifty Foot Hose were filled out by guitarist David Blossom and his vocalist wife Nancy, who brought both psychedelic and jazz influences to the band, and a couple of musicians who had played with Marcheschi in other acts. A home demo successfully demonstrated their fusion of electronic effects and songs that were loosely in tune with the San Francisco psychedelic vibe. It led to a deal with Limelight, a subsidiary of Mercury that focused more upon experimental music than conventional rock and pop outings.
Cauldron was perhaps more interesting for its experimental textures than the sometimes routine compositions -- eerie electronic swoops and jolts swam through the background and foreground of the tracks, enhanced by techniques like putting instruments through an FM transmitter. The jazzier and spookier tunes worked better than the bluesier hard rock items, yet it was an admirably risk-taking effort. But, ultimately, a pretty uncommercial one -- although they got some live work in San Francisco, the album was heard by few at its time of release.[allmusic]

Aug 15, 2011

ROGER THWAITES - AGE OF TIME (SOUND UNLIMITED 1971) Kor mastering cardboard sleeve

Hailed from Araluen, Australia, Roger Thwaites is a folk singer released two albums. "Age Of Time" is his second album released right after the first album called "200 Years" in 1970. Don't miss Roger's growling voice!
..."Well, from the first song on, a surprisingly good LP which appears almost as if it had been produced with my specific tastes in mind! The vocals are mostly big and booming with plenty of echo, the songs are great, the lyrics interesting (mostly about the Australian outback and people), the backing a peculiar mix of folk, early rock'n'roll, psychedelia, country and pop, with some songs featuring scorching acid guitar and studio effects. The closest reference point would be Lee Hazlewood's solo LPs, which happen to be among my favourites, and if Mr Thwaites hadn't heard Lee (did his solo records get released in Australia?) then he surely must have been a fan of Elvis and Johnny Cash...." []

Aug 1, 2011

HEAVEN & EARTH - REFUGE (OVATION 1973) Kor mastering cardboard sleeve

A female psychedelic duo's sole album released in 1973. Very well polished folk, pop and psychedelic sound with Anita Kerr Singers harmonies.
Whatever your musical taste, psych-folk, funk, soft rock… this LP seems to fit perfectly. Should appeal to fans of BJ Ward, Wendy & Bonnie, Linda Perhacs, Christine Harwood, Sunforest, Margo Guryan, Lyn Christopher, Barbara & Ernie...
Recorded through October & November at Streeterville Studios, Chicago. Produced by Dick Schory & George Andrews. Solo voice- Jo D. Andrews, 2nd Voice- Pat Gefell. Acoustic guitars- Pat Gefell, Charles Chittenden, Ron Steele. Flute & Echoplex- Arthur Lauer. Congas & Bongos- Bobby Christian. Strings arranged & conducted by- George Andrews. Strings- Joseph Golan, Joseph Sciacchitano, Samuel Magad, Jerry Sabranski, Fred Spector, William Schoen. Vocal Arrangements by Jo D Andrews.


The Washington Apples were from the Pacific Northwest and consisted of Janet Marble (vocals), Joe Hadlock (keyboards), Tom Chapman (guitar), David King (bass), and Scott Schreckengost (drums).
After starting their careers cutting a series of radio commercials in support of Washington apples, the band got a chance to record some more conventional material and saw the release of a 1970 album on the Seattle-based Delicious Records label. “Fresh Country Apples” is definitely different. The first side offers up a series of expanded versions of their earlier commercial jingles. Powered by excellent vocals, material such as the title track isn’t half bad, the only major mis-step being the hokey “Apple Core Baltimore” (the title says it all). The flip side features the band in a more contemporary setting and is actually quite good.
Highlights include a bluesy cover of “Summertime”, “Blues for J” and Hadlock’s pseudo-jazzy “Another Day”, and a version of the Youngbloods’ “Sunlight”. While some dealers have hyped the album as being a psych classic, most of the set sports a far more commercial orientation. The one exception is the extended closer “Ode To Cory”. Complete with thunderstorm effects, squealing guitar and a dirge like tempo, this one sounds like it was torn out of some acid-tripping San Francisco band’s catalog. Quite impressive. (Acid Archives)

THESE TRAILS - THESE TRAILS (PP 1973) Kor mastering cardboard sleeve

Reissuing a rare, privately pressed Hawaiian LP from 1973, These Trails' self-titled debut documents a singularly exotic strain of acid-folk. Ethereal male/female harmonies soar over rich melodies and traditional island instrumentation to create gorgeously verdant psychedelia that captures the very essence of tropical paradise. In addition to conventional Hawaiian elements like slack guitar and swaying rhythms, These Trails integrate Far Eastern sounds like tabla and sitar into the equation, further expanding the music's otherworldliness. From its effortless evocation of ocean waves to lush arrangements that capture the beauty and mystery of jungles glistening in the morning dew, no other record sounds quite like this one. ~ Jason Ankeny
These Trails was never really a band; it was an album of music originally birthed upon the world in 1973 made by everyday-people-type inhabitants of Hawaii. Nonetheless, it was a powerful expression that stands with up other recently discovered heroes of the private press world, such as Linda Perhacs & Gary Higgins, whose singular musical endeavors stand with the best of what the hippified 1970s had to offer.
Liner Note Authors: Rob Sevier; Margaret Morgan.
Recording information: Sinergia, Inc., Honolulu.
Photographer: Joseph Martin.
Arranger: David Choy.
Personnel: Patrick Cockett (vocals, guitar, slide guitar, tabla); Margaret Morgan (vocals, guitar, dulcimer); Carlos Pardeiro (vocals, guitar, sitar); Eric Kingsbury (guitar); David Choy (recorder, ARP synthesizer).