Jan 16, 2011

COLIN BLUNSTONE - ONE YEAR (EPIC 1971) Jap mastering cardboard sleeve + 2 bonus

As the lead singer of the Zombies, Blunstone was one of the greatest '60s rock vocalists, pacing the group's minor-key masterpieces with his inimitable choked and breathy vocals. After retiring from the business briefly in the late '60s (to work in the insurance industry, of all things), he went solo in the early '70s with a string of interesting pop/rock albums that were more of an extension of the late Zombies sound than the more well-known work of Argent, the other Zombies spin-off act. The Zombies connection is hardly incidental; chief Zombie songwriters Rod Argent and Chris White gave Blunstone some songs, as did Argent member Russ Ballard, though Blunstone penned much of his material himself. With their moody melodies and Baroque touches of muted keyboards, classical guitars, and inventive string arrangements, his early-'70s albums sometimes sounded like a mellower take on the direction the Zombies pursued with their pop-psychedelic masterwork Odessey and Oracle. Blunstone managed some small British hits with "How Could We Dare Be Wrong," "I Don't Believe in Miracles," and the Top 20 single "Say You Don't Mind," a cover of a tune written and recorded by Denny Laine after he left the Moody Blues and before he joined Wings. Blunstone's first album, One Year (1971), was his best, though the follow-ups Ennismore and Journey also had their moments.[allmusic]

MAMA CASS - DREAM A LITTLE DREAM (ABC-DUNHILL 1968) Jap mastering cardboard sleeve + 2 bonus

At the time the Mamas & the Papas broke up in 1968, it was painfully obvious that Dunhill Records was placing all their bets on Elliot as far as a successful solo recording career. They certainly had good reason. While Elliot wasn't always the lead voice on the hits (Denny Doherty usually was), she provided the sound that brought the vocal majesty together, as well as an image. The "final" Mamas single, "Dream a Little Dream," was now billed as a "Mama Cass" single, and Dunhill quickly brought her into the studio for an album. The result is one of her finest, and an important sociological record, too. It can easily be described as the sound of Laurel Canyon in 1968, with songs by Graham Nash (whom Elliot was in the process of introducing to Stills and Crosby), John Sebastian, and Robbie Robertson. John Simon exquisitely produced this album, employing his "nuts and bolts" technique that was so effective on his work with the Band. It was a great start for her solo career. Unfortunately after this, Elliot fell into the record industry machinery, and quickly began turning out bubblegum hits that weren't really where she was at. This sounds like a place closer to her heart, and to listeners' hearts as well.[allmusic]

ALVIN LEE & MYLON LEFEVRE - ON THE ROAD TO FREEDOM (CHRYSALIS 1973) Jap mastering cardboard sleeve + 1 bonus

Alvin Lee known for his lightning fast licks on guitar, soulful bluesy tunes and amazing live performances throws us a curve ball with his first solo album. Much more mellow and melodic than his work with Ten Years After, but with great feeling and depth. He shares the vocalist duties with American gospel singer Mylon LeFevre and Mylon also belts out some very nice songs of his own.
Each song utilizes the various noteworthy musicians (including the entire Traffic cast), with Alvin Lee playing guitar on almost all of the tunes. It has a variety of music styles as well, with a very country tune “Funny”, to an almost gospel like tune “Lay me Back” to a very nice traditional rock and roll jam “Rockin’ Til The Sun Goes Down”. The title track is a deceptively simple prime cut with its searing guitar, solid drumming, tasteful piano, a rousing melody.
The combination of Alvin Lee’s fabulous talent and that unmistakable voice of Mylon LeFevre make an interesting album.

SEEDS - FUTURE (GNP-CRESCENDO 1967) Jap mastering cardboard sleeve + 2 bonus

The "A Thousand Shadows" 45 rpm from this album, Future, came in a pink sleeve decorated by gray four-leaf clovers and a negative picture of the Seeds next to a sign that says "Wishing Well - Help Us Grow." "A Thousand Shadows" is the melody as well as the feel of their Top 40 1967 hit "Pushin' Too Hard." Breaking no new ground, the band insisted on revisiting its formula, reinventing new versions of "Pushin' Too Hard" like "Flower Lady & Her Assistant." This is a sophisticated package with a gatefold which includes lyrics over pastel sunflowers as if the band was Joni Mitchell. Three colorful pages come inside the album, including two beautiful photos of the group along with single flowers representing the songs on the disc with instructions: "Cut out paste on whatever" for grade schoolers or those so strung out on LSD they have regressed to that point. "Six Dreams" is Black Sabbath's Ozzie meeting George Harrison in some biker film soundtrack with weird sound effects and a sitar. The harp on "Fallin'" underscores Saxon's passionate garage vocal. Imagine, if you will, Brian Jones during the recording of Satanic Majesties deciding to bare all the excesses of rock stardom. This album is a trip, not because it reflects the ideas captured in the Peter Fonda film of the same name, but because a band had the audacity to experiment with record company money and make something so noncommercial and playful. Droning organ sounds penetrate "Fallin'," the seven minute, 40 second final track. Saxon writes in the inner-sleeve essay "Originations of the Flower Generation" "...The farmer lives by the elements alone, the sun, the rain, and the earth, but the earth needs its seeds to sow the flower generation of the leaf...." It's heady stuff, and the melody and sound of "Pushin' Too Hard" permeates incessantly. Hardly a Future, as the title proclaims, this is actually the Sgt. Pepper of the flower-power set, a reinvention of past efforts, but no "Strawberry Fields" or "Day in the Life" to bring it out of its cult niche. Very listenable, highly entertaining, and totally not for the mass audience.[allmusic]