Oct 20, 2011

THE HUMAN BEAST - VOLUME ONE (DECCA 1970) Jap mastering cardboard sleeve

Although it was optimistically titled Volume One, this would turn out to be the sole album by this obscure, odd, Edinburgh early heavy rock trio. The tracks are dominated by the Jimi Hendrix/Cream-influenced guitar of Gillies Buchan, which leans heavily on devious wah-wah effects. Indebted to blues-rock and early heavy metal, but not quite in either bag, the sound is somewhat skeletal even as power trios go. The ethos of the hippie era are evident even in the song titles alone: "Appearance Is Everything, Style Is a Way of Living," "Brush with the Midnight Butterfly," "Reality Presented as an Alterative," and "Naked Breakfast."
This was a short-lived heavy power trio whose album is now quite rare by some collectors. They had earlier been known as Skin. Tracks like Mystic Man, Brush With The Midnight Butterfly and Reality Presented As An Alternative typify the heavy psych genre, but the two outstanding tracks are slow and in the classic psychedelic mould; Appearance Is Everything Style Is A Way Of Living, which brings to mind US Boston band Beacon Street Union and has fine Eastern - influenced guitar work and the more acoustic than electric Maybe Someday, which had a good hypnotic melody and a certain Eastern feeling.
Sought after, and absolutely excellent heavy UK psychedelic album from 1970, alternately hypnotic and hard-driving, with intense guitar workouts in a classic psych mould; much high-caliber Eastern-influenced guitar work and cracking drums?highly recommended, although those of you who know this album will need no encouragement, historical buffs note that David McNiven from Bread, Love and Dreams contributed the few lyrics (strange as they are) on this mostly instrumental album...

THE END - INTROSPECTION (DECCA 1969) Jap mastering cardboard sleeve + 2 bonus

Although never achieving the success they deserved, the End are best remembered for their Bill Wyman-produced psychedelic-pop that was a masterful mixture of swirling, dream-like numbers, and flowery, but never twee, pop. Their Introspection album is now viewed as one of the finest examples of British psychedelia. Dave Brown and Colin Giffin formed the End in 1965 following the demise of beat group the Innocents. Nicky Graham and John Horton were drafted in from Dickie Pride's backing group, the Original Topics, and the line-up was completed with former Tuxedos drummer Roger Groom. After recording at the now legendary R.G. Jones' Morden studio, successful friend Bill Wyman arranged a tour with the Rolling Stones. They also appeared with Spencer Davis on ITV television's Thank Your Lucky Stars playing "Hallelujah I Love Her So." At this time their music was very much in the club-soul/blue-eyed soul style that was sweeping England by storm. Following the tour, Roger Groom quit to be replaced by Hugh Atwooll, a former school friend of Nicky Graham. John Horton also quit, but the split was amicable as he continued to help out on their second single, "Shades of Orange." Cut by Bill Wyman, with the addition of Charlie Watts on tabla, the song was recorded during the sessions for the Rolling Stones' psychedelic foray, Their Satanic Majesties Request. "Shades of Orange" epitomizes British Psychedelia and is one of the genre's most sought after items.
Following the single's release, Gordon Smith also left and was replaced by former Mode guitarist Terry Taylor. The band then decamped to Spain, where several singles were released domestically, including "Why," a Top Five hit in April 1967. By Christmas 1968, both Colin Giffin and Hugh Attwooll had left after recording the Introspection album, and although a new drummer, Paul Francis, was enlisted, the writing was on the wall. With the arrival of another Mode refugee, Jim Henderson, the End metamorphosed into the more progressive-sounding Tucky Buzzard. Introspection was delayed for over a year due to a fallout from the Rolling Stones' bust-up with Allen Klein and was musically the type of psychedelia that had gone out of fashion by the time of its December 1969 release. The band had changed name and style, leaving this glorious album to sink without a trace.[allmusic]

CAPABILITY BROWN - FROM SCRATCH (CHARISMA 1972) Jap mastering cardboard sleeve

Sextet Capability Brown were quintessentially multi-instrumentalists that could whip up CSN harmonies with the slightest of ease. The first watering was when ex Moments bassist Kenny Rowe, bassist /vocalist Tony Ferguson and percussionist Joe Williams from Tony Rivers’ folky Harmony Grass joined ex Gremlins Roger Willis and ex Fuzzy Duck guitarist/lute/balalaika player Grahame White to form Capability Brown. Under the Charisma umbrella the group launched their first single “War” in 1971 followed by the 1972 debut album From Scratch. The entirety of the album was a blend of art rock projection with a shimmer of Prog tracing on tracks like “Rayge” and the concept “Sole Survivor”, song about escaping the holocaust in a time machine. From Scratch had a lot of power as in the bass thundering “No Range” with Ferguson playing some sizzling flute coupled with Climax Blues styled harmonies. Atmospheric renditions of Rare Bird’s “Beautiful Scarlet” and “Red Man” plus a severing version of Argent’s “Liar” (Russ Ballard) / “Keep Death Off The Road” with White slicing emphatically was superb in the making. (later covered by Three Dog Night) These cats were harmony kings that could fuse folk with rock in the same spaces as Gentle Giant or Hookfoot. By 1973 Capability launched Voice which opened up with Affinity’s “I Am And So Are You” written by another Charisma student Alan Hull from Lindisfarne. This album holds their greatest number “Sad Am I” with a definite nod to Marmalade, Stealers Wheel or Iveys.
Capability Brown had and still have a cult following in UK music history as a "progressive" band, ultimately based on an outstanding piece from their second album, Voice. But largely their range covered mainstream pop music, treated in an "arty", alternative fashion. The band was a six-piece in which everyone sang and played instruments. The line-up consisted of Tony Ferguson (guitar, bass), Dave Nevin (keyboards, guitar, bass), Kenny Rowe (bass, percussion), Grahame White (guitar, lute, balalaika, keyboards), Joe Williams (percussion) and Roger Willis (drums, keyboards).
Ferguson and Nevin wrote the majority of the band's material, and the band also excelled in covers of obscure material (Rare Bird's Beautiful Scarlet and Redman, Argent's Liar, Affinity's I Am And So Are You and Steely Dan's Midnight Cruiser).
Capability Brown's forte was vocalizing. Together they sounded not unlike The Association: a massed choir of voices, ranging from baritone to high clean falsettos. Their first album, From Scratch, which included Liar, was average and unexceptional. The second album Voice, released in 1973, was their claim to fame, incorporating an over-20-minute richly melodic piece called Circumstances (In Love, Past, Present, Future Meet) - a stunning piece of music incorporating keyboards, a cappela voices, synthesizers and mellotrons, solo vocals, delicate harpsichord-like acoustic guitar sections, powerful electric guitar chords and massed vocal choirs.
The band did not manage to record again after this, and in 1974 Tony, Roger and Graham were recruited by friend and Christie member Roger Flavell to join his group, Christie for a tour of South America. Thus Capability Brown was no more.[progarchives]