Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Curt Boettcher - Another Time (1969 us, remarkable orchestrated sunny psych, 2013 Blu Spec, fourth part of eight box set)



Based around the ’69 recordings for the supposed solo album on his own Together label, co-owned with soulmates and collaborators Gary Usher and Keith Olsen, Another Time is quite possibly the closest you’ll get to an actual Curt Boettcher album, even though there was an official one soon to follow.

The Spector-cular opener Baby It’s Real is a song rescued from the Millennium days, the title song is a stripped down acoustic arrangement of the Sagittarius classic followed by the “hurdy-gurdy” piece of psych called Lament Of The Astral Cowboy, given away to Curt’s Ballroom bandmate Michele O’Malley, just as was the “misty” popsike ballad Misty Mirage, considered one of his highlight performances.

That’s The Way It’s Gonna Be is, of course, his second attempt at the Phil Ochs/Bob Gibson-written shoulda-been HIT song, already recorded with Lee Mallory, which is as psychedelic and jazzy as bubblegum could ever get, while Tumbling Tumbleweeds is another sparkling cover, turned into a SMiLE-ing Americana.

Also present is Curt’s softish country sophistication Share With Me, coupled with Sometime for a Together single release, as well as a pair of songs from another aborted solo album sessions, 1973’s Chicken Little Was Right, recently also reissued by Sonic Past Music. The first of these, Louise, is probably among the closest Curt got to the traditional folky sound after his GoldeBriars days, while the other one is a perfect slice of country bubblegum called Rest In Peace.

The furthest you’ll get into the past is through a bunch of groovy high quality ’67 demos of songs, later recorded by either Millennium, Sagittarius, Sunshine Company or Eternity’s Children, of which at least one not only matches but outshines the officially released version (If You Only Knew), and as a special bonus, there’s also the ’65 demo acetate of Along Comes Mary, featuring Curt on vocals, backed by the author Tandyn Almer on piano and The Association’s own Gary Alexander on guitar, along with an unknown drummer.

Considering the amount of unreleased Boettcher-related material that has re-surfaced in the recent years, it seems as if “another time” might as well be the subtitle to each one of his recording, foreseeing the date of its release.
by Garwood Pickjon
Tracks
1. Baby It's Real (Curt Boettcher, Michael Fennelly, Sandy Salisbury) - 2:43
2. Another Time - 2:40
3. Lament Of The Astral Cowboy - 2:16
4. I Just Want To Be Your Friend - 2:21
5. Louise (Jerry Netkin) - 2:41
6. Share With Me (Lee Mallory, Joey Stec, Gary Usher) - 3:06
7. Along Comes Mary (Tandyn Almer) - 2:39
8. Sometimes (Curt Boettcher, Lee Mallory) - 2:58
9. That's The Way It's Gonna Be (Bob Gibson, Phil Ochs) - 3:30
10.The Know It All - 2:07
11.Misty Mirage - 4:15
12.If You Only Knew - 2:39
13.Rest In Peace - 2:40
14.Tumbling Tumbleweeds (Bob Nolan) - 3:50
15.You Know I've Found A Way (Curt Boettcher, Lee Mallory) - 1:52
16.Another Time (Curt Boettcher, Lee Mallory) - 2:59
17.Meanwhile Back At The World - 2:53
All songs by Curt Boettcher except where noted

Musicians
*Curt Boettcher - Guitars, Vocals, Bass, Harmony Vocals
*Lee Mallory - Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
*Doug Rhodes - Piano
*Sandy Salisbury - Vocals
*Ron Edgar - Drums
*Jerry Scheff - Bass
*Ben Benay - Guitar
*Mike Melvoin - Piano, Organ
*Toxie French - Percussion, Vibes, Marimba
*Red Rhodes - Pedal Steel
*Waddy Wachtel - Electric Guitar

1965-68  The Millennium - Voices Of The Millennium (2013 Blu Spec)  
1967-68  The Millennium - Pieces (2013 Blu Spec)  
1968  The Millennium - Begin (2013 Blue Spec edition)
1966-68  Sagittarius - Present Tense
1967-72  Michael Fennelly - Love Can Change Everything (2013 release)
1970  Crabby Appleton - Crabby Appleton 
1971  Crabby Appleton - Rotten To The Core
1973  Michael Fennelly - Lane Changer (2015 issue)

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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Millennium - Voices Of The Millennium (1965-68 us, bautiful sunshine psychedelia. 2013 Blu Spec issue, third part of eight discs box set)



The Voices Of Millennium are actually telling us about how some of the band members were spending their time after The Millennium break-up (if there ever was one) towards the end of the decade. Though it might not be as adventurous as it was while they were only just “begin-ining”, these sessions show that they were still spending some quality time together.

Some of the tracks, with an almost baroque country feel, with the kind of a Wilson-ian touch too, like I Still Can See Your Face and Will You Ever See Me, as well as the chamber-psych The Blue Marble, later surfaced on Gary Usher’s sophomore Sagittarius release of the same title, while another easy country piece, Share With Me, graced the sunny side of Curt Boettcher’s Together single.

Along with the Spector-ized opener Come To Me Baby, the ones contributing to the more cheery side of the album, are mostly the songs coming from the pen of Sandy Salisbury, with or without a collaborator.

His Measure Of A Man is another piece of more innocent sounding country, as if done by Herman’s Hermits, Navajo Girl adds a bit of a bubblegummy flavour too, with an additional eastern touch through the sitar solo, while the yummy sounding Gouldman-like Together In The End and Little Lost & Found continue to blow the same bubbles, and Midnight Sun is a piece of popsike Monkee-business.

Hear the Voices Of The Millennium and let yourself be taken back to the “sonic past” … once again!
by Garwood Pickjon
Tracks
1. Come To Me Baby (Wilson) - 2:44
2. I Still Can See Your Face (Gary Usher) - 3:02
3. Measure Of A Man (Sandy Salisbury) - 2:26
4. Magic Island (Lee Mallory, Curt Boettcher) - 3:14
5. Will You Ever See Me (Gary Usher) - 2:17
6. The Blue Marble (Gary Usher) - 3:01
7. Together In The End (Curt Boettcher, Sandy Salisbury) - 2:33
8. Share With Me (Curt Boettcher, Joey Stec, Gary Usher, Lee Mallory) - 3:12
9. Midnight Sun (Gary Usher, Sandy Salisbury) - 2:09
10.Little Lost And Found (Sandy Salisbury) - 1:56
11.Navajo Girl (Sandy Salisbury, Gary Usher) - 2:33
12.Keep On Dreamin' (AKA There Is Nothing More To Say) (Curt Boettcher, Michael Fennelly, Lee Mallory, Sandy Salisbury) - 2:07

Musicians
*Curt Boettcher - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
*Lee Mallory - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
*Sandy Salisbury - Guitar, Vocals
*Ben Benay - Lead Guitar
*Chuck Girard - Vocals
*Jerry Scheff - Bass
*Gary Usher - Vocals
*Skip - Drums

1967-68  The Millennium - Pieces (2013 Blu Spec)  
1968  The Millennium - Begin (2013 Blue Spec edition)
Related Acts
1966-68  Sagittarius - Present Tense
1967-72  Michael Fennelly - Love Can Change Everything (2013 release)
1970  Crabby Appleton - Crabby Appleton 
1971  Crabby Appleton - Rotten To The Core
1973  Michael Fennelly - Lane Changer (2015 issue)

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Monday, June 26, 2017

The Millennium - Pieces (1967-68 us, brilliant baroque sunny psych, 2013 Blu Spec part of eight discs box set)



There's an old L.A. music biz tale that details a stunned Brian Wilson accidentally overhearing a recording session down the hall from his own. As the story goes, Wilson was hanging at Studio Three West with Pet Sounds collaborator Gary Usher in the spring of 1966 when he caught snippets of a recording conducted by 21-year-old wunderkind Curt Boettcher. Boettcher, fresh from producing The Association's first record, and with something of a rare talent for soaring, angelic vocal arrangements along the lines of Wilson's very own, took Wilson and Usher by complete surprise. In fact, legend has it that Boettcher's ability to produce majestically layered instrumental and vocal pieces seemingly at the drop of a hat threw Wilson for a loop, and is rumored to have started the breakdown that would ultimately destroy his Smile project, and indeed his life ever after.

Even if you don't buy the story, Boettcher's effect on L.A. pop cannot be denied. Usher would soon pull him in as a collaborator on what would later become Present Tense by Sagittarius, a psych-pop outfit whose only LP is one of the great, lost classics of "sunshine pop." Boettcher's other major projects in the 60s were work with his own band The Ballroom, and later, a curiously overlooked record by songwriter supergroup The Millennium. In addition to his love of exquisite harmony vocals, Boettcher's stereo productions were remarkably crisp for the time-- certainly more so that Wilson's concurrent adventures in mono. I'd say Boettcher's own songs (and that of most sunshine pop artists) usually weren't of the same depth as Wilson's, but that's another argument.

The Millennium was comprised of several successful songwriters and musicians living and working in Los Angeles in the mid-60s, including Lee Mallory, Sandy Salisbury and Joey Stec. All had worked with or around Boettcher and Usher, and proved themselves capable of delivering on what would become the largest recording budget in Columbia Records' history to that point. Their result was 1968's Begin, and though it's probably the single greatest 60s pop record produced in L.A. outside of The Beach Boys, it (like Wilson's music) found itself very much outside the times that year. After Begin tanked, the band was dropped from Columbia-- setting up the perfect cult record years later. Of course, the band had planned to make many more albums, and Pieces collects demos intended for their follow-up.

Anyone hip to The Millennium or other Boettcher projects might recognize many of the songs here, as they've been released before as Again, though Pieces includes many tracks that failed to make that compilation. Most importantly, almost all of these songs will be of interest to folks looking for perfect pop in the mold of The Association, Beach Boys and even into the budding country-rock of The Byrds. "I Just Don't Know How to Say Goodbye" is an almost perfect realization of the styles of each of those artists, though the tune and loose, gentle optimism of Salisbury's vocal give it a strength to stand on its own. The song, with rising, major-key guitar figures and a folkish bent (much of this music could have worked in a completely acoustic setting) did show up on Salisbury's 1968 solo LP.

"Can You See" is one of many Stec/Michael Fennelly songs (the pair was also responsible for the magnificent "To Claudia on Thursday" from Begin), and is a typically upbeat, sunny tune that might pass for The Monkees were it not for its surprisingly down-to-earth lyrics lamenting love lost over material concerns. The strength of the writing throughout the album is such that the band's failure to break through is a little shocking. "How Much I Love You" is a tender acoustic ballad also penned by Stec and Fennelly, and though it probably helped give birth to Jewel mk. I, it's nonetheless at once achingly melancholy and performed with professionalism that could have made it a hit in another universe. The same goes for the pair's "Sometime or Another", though this actually approaches indie-torch song along the lines Uncle Tupelo.

Although not every song on Pieces matches up with the band's best, none of it ever really betrays its origination as demo recordings. Boettcher obviously had some hand in this, though since all of the band were insiders to some degree, it's not surprising they had access to studios and engineers no other similarly unknown band could ever dream of. Song like "Suspended Animation" (first rate country-pop with a strange sci-fi theme) or the Beatlesque "It's You" sound better than 90% of the music to actually chart in 1968. The latter song in particular, with its pristine harmony vocals and chugging, "Baby You're a Rich Man" bass work, makes it hard to believe Clive Davis never saw anything in these guys.

If all of this is news to you, my advice is to run out in grab a copy of Begin. After that, check out Sagittarius and Boettcher's other projects. And then, when you think you've run out of sugary fun-time pop with a faint dejected edge, head here. The Millennium deserved better way back when, but anyone interested in 60s pop and folk-rock should have no problem digging them now.
by Dominique Leone
Tracks
1. Prelude (Ron Edgar, Doug Rhodes) - 1:04
2. To Claudia On Thursday (Michael Fennelly, Joey Stec) -  2:51
3. Baby It's Real (Curt Boettcher, Michael Fennelly, Sandy Salisbury) - 2:37
4. It's You (Michael Fennelly, Joey Stec) - 2:48
5. I Just Don't Know How To Say Goodbye (Sandy Salisbury, Joey Stec) - 2:04
6. Good People (Michael Fennelly, Joey Stec) - 3:07
7. Can You See (Michael Fennelly, Lee Mallory) - 2:24
8. How Much I Love You (Michael Fennelly, Joey Stec) - 4:06
9. The Blues Is Just A Good Woman Gone Bad (Michael Fennelly, Lee Mallory) - 2:39
10.Once Upon A Time (Curt Boettcher, Lee Mallory) - 2:27
11.Dying With You (Michael Fennelly, Joey Stec) - 2:14
12.The Word (Lee Mallory) - 3:02
13.Share With Me (Lee Mallory, Sandy Salisbury, Joey Stec, Gary Usher) - 3:06
14.Something Or Another (Michael Fennelly, Joey Stec) - 3:41
15.A Younger Me (Michael Fennelly, Lee Mallory) - 2:54
16.I Need To Be By Your Side (Michael Fennelly, Joey Stec) - 1:51
17.Sunshine Girl (Michael Fennelly, Joey Stec) - 2:41
18.Suspended Animation (Curt Boettcher, Lee Mallory, Sandy Salisbury, Joey Stec) - 3:11
19.The Ways I Love You (Michael Fennelly, Joey Stec) - 2:07
20.The Hills Of Vermont (Michael Fennelly, Lee Mallory, Sandy Salisbury) - 3:13
21.It Won't Always Be The Same (Michael Fennelly, Joey Stec) - 3:09

Personnel
*Curt Boettcher - Vocals, Guitar
*Ron Edgar - Drums, Vocals
*Michael Fennelly - Guitar, Vocals
*Lee Mallory - Vocals
*Doug Rhodes - Horn, Keyboards, Vocals
*Sandy Salisbury - Guitar, Vocals
*Joey Stec - Guitar

1968  The Millennium - Begin (2013 Blue Spec edition)
Related Acts
1966-68  Sagittarius - Present Tense
1967-72  Michael Fennelly - Love Can Change Everything (2013 release)
1970  Crabby Appleton - Crabby Appleton 
1971  Crabby Appleton - Rotten To The Core
1973  Michael Fennelly - Lane Changer (2015 issue)

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Friday, June 23, 2017

The Mystery Trend - So Glad I Found You (1966-67 us, marvelous folk psych garage rock, extra tracks edition)



If the Airplane and the Dead were the Beatles and Stones of San Francisco's mid-1960s rock heyday, then the Mystery Trend were its Zombies or Left Banke, peddling craftsmanship and high quality pop songs in an era of burgeoning indulgence. Ahead of anyone else except perhaps the Charlatans, the Trend was the first alternative rock group in the Bay Area, debuting in May 1965.

Unlike the ex-folkies and beatniks that comprised the rest of the scene, the group, led by keyboardist and songwriter Ron Nagle, were older and came from an art school background, eschewing the jams and free-form modality of other local groups for concise ensemble arrangements. "The kind of writing that was going on in San Francisco then, to me, it was dogshit" says Nagle."Everyone was into this wankingsoloingpsychedelic-droneout. It was very uncool to play three minute pop songs." Nagle and guitarist Bob Cuff were turning out gems like Carl Street and Words You Whisper by the dozen, to the general indifference of crowds at countercultural hotspots like the Matrix or Fillmore.

Consequently, the Trend was a neurotic, uptight set of individuals who lent their quirky pop a garage-band edge. Shows were few and far between for these musical outcasts who preferred cocktails to acid, and Burt Bacharach to Ravi Shankar. In late 1967, while all around were being signed up in a major label feeding frenzy, the group quietly broke up. Nagle went on to release the classic cult album "Bad Rice" before pursuing his chosen vocation as a world-renowned ceramic artist.

The combo's sole vinyl legacy was the barnstorming 1967 single Johnny Was A Good Boy, but for years rumours have persisted of an unreleased album recorded for Kingston Trio manager Frank Werber's Trident Productions. So Glad I Found You finally uncovers these legendary sessions to reveal what could have been, and it's a remarkable batch of material. The bright Spoonful-esque jangle of Ten Empty Cups and One Day For Two reflects an innate pop sensibility that is in stark contrast to fuzz-toned neuroses- laid-bare like Mercy Killing and What If I. There's eclectic covers like Smiley Lewis' Shame Shame Shame and the Who's Substitute, majestic mood music with the bossa nova Mambo For Marion, and a forgotten masterpiece in the epic So Glad I Found You.

And in addition to collecting together the Mystery Trend's entire studio recordings, all resplendent in crystal-clear stereo from the original master tapes, So Glad I Found You adds a brace of illuminating demo cuts, including the cryptic Wake Up Cryin' and erstwhile guitarist Larry West's bewitching Lose Some Dreams, to fully tell the story of this unique group. In tried-and-tested Nuggets fashion, there's the usual bevy of pictures and memorabilia, to illustrate a lengthy sleeve note that draws upon the recollections of several band members. With this long-awaited compilation, a significant chapter, not just in the San Francisco 1960s chronology but in pop music history in general, has finally been closed.
by Alec Palao
Tracks
1. Carl Street (Ron Nagle) - 2:50
2. So Glad I Found You (Bob Cuff, Ron Nagle) - 2:20
3. Words You Whisper (Bob Cuff) - 2:23
4. Johnny Was a Good Boy (Bob Cuff, Ron Nagle) - 2:44
5. One Day for Two (Bob Cuff, Larry Bennett, Ron Nagle) - 2:08
6. Carrots on a String (Bob Cuff, Ron Nagle) - 1:57
7. Ten Empty Cups (Bob Cuff, Ron Nagle) - 2:21
8. Mercy Killing (Ron Nagle) - 3:02
9. Mambo for Marion (Bob Cuff, Ron Nagle) - 2:03
10.Substitute (Pete Townshend) - 3:00
11.There It Happened Again (Bob Cuff, Ron Nagle) - 2:28
12.Shame, Shame, Shame (Miss Roxie) (Ken Hopkins, Reuben Fisher) - 2:26
13.House on the Hill (Bob Cuff, Ron Nagle) - 2:22
14.From the Collection of Dorothy Tate (Ron Nagle) - 2:14
15.Carrots on a String (audition version) (Bob Cuff, Ron Nagle) - 2:05
16.What If I (Ron Nagle) - 2:46
17.Wake Up Cryin' (Ron Nagle) - 3:00
18.Lose Some Dreams (Larry Walorny) - 3:03
19.Empty Shoes (Bob Cuff, John Luby, Ron Nagle) - 4:08
20.Let Me See with My Eyes (Bob Cuff) - 5:51
21.Carl Street (audition version (Ron Nagle) - 2:36

The Mystery Trend
*Larry Bennett - Bass
*John Luby - Drums, Vocals
*John Gregory - Guitar
*Ron Nagle - Vocals, Clavinet, Piano, Organ
*Bob Cuff - Vocals, Guitar
*Larry West - Guitar (Tracks 17-19)

Related Act
1971  Stoneground - Stoneground

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Rock Workshop - Rock Workshop (1970 uk, exciting jazz blues prog rock, 2002 bonus tracks remaster)



Formed in 1970, this fluid but short-lived jazz rock group formed by Ray Russell (guitar) and featured several of the UK’s leading young jazz musicians, and originally included Harry Beckett (trumpet/flugelhorn), Bob Downes (saxophone), Bud Parkes (trumpet) and Tony Roberts (trumpet/woodwind), Derek Wadsworth (trombone) Alan Greed (vocals) and Brian Miller (keyboards), Daryl Runswick (bass), Alan Rushton and Robin Jones (drums).

Several were involved in other, simultaneous projects, notably solo albums by Downes and Russell and session appearances for albums at that time by Jack Bruce, Keef Hartley and Harvey. Wadsworth and Parkes appeared on the latter’s solo album, Roman Wall Blues, and Harvey who appears on just four of the eight songs on its debut album, but the presence of both a couple of subsequently familiar songs and a vocal workout to rival anything on Framed or Next establish them among his finest performances.

A savage rearrangement of the traditional "Wade in the Water" and his own (with fellow Workshop-per Ray Russell) "Hole in Her Stocking" are both bruising R&B stampers, punctured by howling horns and a guitar riff, in the first-named case, that could have escaped from "Walk Don't Run," Blood, Sweat & Tears-style. Harvey himself is in breathtaking form, utterly undistinguishable from the showman who brought listeners "Vambo," and the only regret is that he is confined to just the four songs -- the remainder of Rock Workshop, while certainly a blistering blur of hot and sweaty jazz-soul-boogie, also sinks into anonymity by comparison, just another white English fusion band honking and stomping around the room. Indeed, there are moments when the sound effects that open and link the songs are more interesting than the songs themselves.

Nevertheless, Rock Workshop remains a key passage in Alex Harvey's career, all the more so in its 2002 CD incarnation, where the original LP is appended by half a dozen bonus tracks, including alternate takes of "Hole in Her Stocking" and "Born in the City," plus a couple of songs that didn't make the album itself. (Despite the track listing's claims to the contrary, incidentally, Harvey does not sing the prettily Traffic-like "Primrose Hill.") 
by Dave Thompson
Tracks
1. Ice Cold (R. Shepherd, Ray Russel) - 2:58
2. Wade In The Water (Traditional) - 3:45
3. Hole In Her Stocking (Alex Harvey, Ray Russel) - 4:09
4. He Looks At Me / Mooncross Grove - 10:19
5. Spine Cop - 3:47
6. Born In The City - 3:01
7. Theme For Freedom - 7:34
8. You To Lose (R. Cameron, Ray Russel) - 6:41
9. Spine Cop (Alt Version) - 3:50
10.Hole In Her Stocking (Alt Version) (Alex Harvey, Ray Russel) - 5:31
11.Born In The City (Alt Version) - 2:47
12.You To Lose (Alt Version) - 5:25
13.Primrose Hill (R. Shepherd, Ray Russel) - 5:41
14.Return Of The Goddess - 5:40
All songs by Ray Russell except where noted
Bonus Tracks 9-14

Personnel
*Harry Beckett - Horn
*Bob Downes - Wind
*Alan Greed - Keyboards, Vocals
*Alex Harvey - Vocals
*Robin Jones - Drums
*Brian Miller - Keyboards
*Tony Roberts - Wind
*Daryl Runswick - Bass
*Alan Rushton - Drums
*Ray Russell - Guitar
*Derek Wadsworth - Trombone

Related Acts
1969-71  Paul Korda - Passing Stranger (2012 remaster and expanded)
1973  Mouse - Lady Killer  
1972-73  The Sensational Alex Harvey Band - Framed / Next 
1974-75  The Sensational Alex Harvey Band - The Impossible Dream / Tomorrow Belongs to Me
1975-76  The Sensational Alex Harvey Band - Live / The Penthouse Tapes
1976-78  The Sensational Alex Harvey Band - Stories / Rock Drill
1969  Keef Hartley Band - The Battle Of North West Six (2008 remaster) 
1969  Sweet Pain - Sweet Pain

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Gulliver - Gulliver (1969 us, charmy sunny folk blue eyed soul with young Daryl Hall, 2002 remaster)



Brought together by manager/producer John Madara, Gulliver was one of the first shots at corporate music. With a line up consisting of Temple University student/vocalist Daryl Hall, drummer Jim Helmer, bassist Thomas Sellers and guitarist Tim Moore, the group had more than it's share of talent quickly attracting the attention of Elektra. 

Largely penned by Moore, the album found the quartet trying to find a path between conventional rock ("I'm Really Smokin'" and "Flogene") and early stabs at blue-eyed Philly soul ("Every Day's a Lovely Day" and "Over the Mountain"). On the other hand, Hall's voice was instantly recognizable and most of the songs sported decent melodies ("Lemon Road").

The album proved a commercial flop and the group quickly disbanded, though not before recording a couple of demos with guitarist John Oates. Hall went on to enjoy gigantic success as a member of Hall and Oates.
Tracks
1. Everyday's A Lovely Day (Tom Sellers, Tim Moore, Daryl Hall) - 2:49
2. I'm Really Smokin' (Jim Helmer, Daryl Hall) - 2:28
3. Christine (Barry, Tom Sellers, Daryl Hall) - 1:51
4. Rose Come Home (Jim Helmer, Daryl Hall) - 3:41
5. Enough / Over The Mountain (Tim Moore) - 4:33
6. Angelina (Tim Moore) - 3:13
7. Flo Gene (Tim Moore) - 2:23
8. Lemon Road (Tim Moore) - 3:09
9. Seventy (Tom Sellers, Tim Moore) - 3:14
10.A Truly Good Song (Tim Moore) - 4:33

The Gulliver
Tom Sellers – Bass, Keyboards
Jim Helmer – Drums
Tim Moore – Guitar, Vocals
Daryl Hall – Keyboards, Vocals

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Monday, June 19, 2017

H.Y. Sledge - Bootleg Music (1971 us, fine hard rock, psych, and gentle ballads, 2015 edition)



Calling Valparaiso, Florida home, H.Y. Sledge featured the talents of singer/keyboardist Michael Ewbank, multi-instrumentalist Billy Jones, former Wilkinson Tri-Cycle guitarist Richard "Dickie Porter, bassist Jan Pulver, and drummer Monte Yoho.  Pulver had previously been a member of Those Five, while Jones and Yoho had been members of the Tampa-based Dave Graham Band.  Interestingly, only credit Ewbank, Porter, and Pulver were credited on the album liner notes, which also fail to provide any writing credits.

Signing a recording contract with Shelby Sumpter Singleton Jr.'s SSS International label, the group made their debut with 1971's "Bootleg Music". Co-produced by Ewbank and Porter, the album wasn't  the most original collection you've ever heard.  The band were certainly talented with a couple of decent singers and an excellent bassist.

Their sole album was originally issued in the summer of 1971.
Tracks
1. Citation On Liberty - 5:21
2. Such An Easy Day - 3:01
3. Canadian Exodus - 7:39
4. Cellophane Lady / Nowhere To Go - 3:54
5. Ride The Waves - 4:06
6. I'm Your Brother  - 3:28
7. Tamara - 2:18
8. Day Of Realization - 2:06
9. It's In The Air  - 4:46
10.Finding It - 2:28
All songs by Michael Ewbank, Richard Porter, Jan Pulver

The H.Y. Sledge
*Michael Ewbank - Vocals, Keyboards
*Billy Jones - Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards
*Richard "Dickie Porter - Vocals, Lead  Guitar, Keyboards
*Jan Pulver - Vocals, Bass, Percussion
*Monte Yoho - Drums, Percussion

1969  Wilkinson TriCycle - Wilkinson TriCycle (2007 reissue) 
1973  Outlaws – Anthology / Live 'n' Rare (2012 four disc set) 

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Saturday, June 17, 2017

J.J. Cale - In Session At The Paradise Los Angeles Featuring Leon Russell (1979 us, excellent classic blues roots rock, 2003 remaster)



Almost like a fly on the wall, we are witness to the young J.J. Cale and Leon Russell, stretching out among friends in Russell’s Paradise Studios in Los Angeles, in June of 1979. In a 21 song set, they are having the time of their lives, and we are left to watch in wonder. Joining Cale and Russell are his wife, Christine Lakeland, along with Marty Green, Nick Rather, Jimmy Karstein, Bill Boatman and Ambrose Campbell.
by Keith Hannaleck

There isn't a bad track on this album. The playing is way more muscular than on his records. The band just lays right into it from the opening track Nowhere to Run and never lets up. You will not believe the bass pouring out of your speakers. The beat is big thumping tremendous and propels the whole album. The drums and guitars are crisp. The solos are tasty. The mood is very relaxed and the band is having a great time. 

The standout track for me is Going Down  where they, ahem, take it up a notch. The energy on that track is just phenomenal, which is saying something since we've already heard the band in a rip-snorting version of JJ's signature song Cocaine. Studio owner, Leon Russell, lets it rip on piano and kinda snarls out of the side of his mouth. Then the saxes take over with a wailing chorus the whole backed up with fer-ro-cious rhythm guitar. It ain't all up-tempo though, JJ can sing a ballad with the best of ‘em viz Sensitive Kind.
by Ray Chowkwanyun
Tracks
1. Nowhere To Run - 2:43
2. Cocaine - 2:58
3. Ten Easy Lessons - 4:20
4. Sensitive Kind - 3:33
5. Hands Off Her - 3:39
6. Louisiana - 2:38
7. Going Down (Don Nix) - 5:14
8. Roll On - 2:51
9. No Sweat - 3:13
10.Crazy Mama - 3:13
11.Fate Of A Fool - 2:55
12.Boilin' Pot - 3:36
13.After Midnight - 4:13
14.Same Old Blues - 2:55
15.Don't Cry Sister - 3:05
16.Call Me The Breeze - 3:22
17.Ever Lovin' Woman - 2:34
18.Katy Kool Lady - 2:39
19.Lies - 3:19
20.Don't Wait (Christine Lakeland Cale) - 3:31
All songs written by J.J. Cale except where stated

Personnel
*J.J. Cale - Guitar, Vocals
*Leon Russell - Piano, Organ, Vocals
*Christine Lakeland - Guitar, Harmonica, Backing Vocals
*Larry Bell - Piano
*Marty Grebb - Horn
*Nick Rather - Bass
*Jimmy Karstein - Percussion, Drums
*Bill Boatman - Guitar
*Ambrose Campbell - Percussion, Drums
*Pat ‘Taco’ Ryan - Brass
*Shamsi Sarumi - Percussion

Related Acts
1968  The Asylum Choir - Look Inside (2007 remaster)
1972  Leon Russell - Carney

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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Christine Perfect - The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions (1969 uk, beautiful blues melodic rock, 2008 remaster)



Christine McVie (nee Perfect) is one of the great unsung talents of British blues and pop. Her work with Fleetwood Mac is often overshadowed by her more showy counterparts, Lindsay Buckingham, Peter Green or Stevie Nicks. She provided the spine to their material, and especially added a consistency during the group's wilderness years between 1970 and 1975 (for those of you who haven't had the pleasure, check out her contributions to 1973's Mystery To Me album).

This release is her oft-reissued Christine Perfect album, recorded for Mike Vernon's Blue Horizon label in the period between her leaving Chicken Shack and before she joined her husband-to-be John McVie in Fleetwood Mac. McVie herself has frequently played down the record. Although certainly not a major work, it is a pretty textbook example of pleasant blues rock as the 60s became the 70s. To be honest, her tracks sound pretty much like later Fleetwood Mac album material, which given the presence of John McVie on bass and Danny Kirwan on guitar, is fairly understandable. Her version of Kirwan's When You Say is a standout, easily giving Fleetwood Mac's Then Play On version a run for its money. Perfect's piano work here strives to distil the very essence of the blues.

It is the additional material that highlights her at her best: the demo, Tell Me You Need Me, that was also demoed by Fleetwood Mac is by far and away the best track here. The song underlines the pleasure of her best work; languid, expressive, soulful. With three BBC session recordings here as well, The Complete Blue Horizon Recordings, although hardly essential, is a very welcome listen. 
by Daryl Easlea
Tracks
1. Crazy 'Bout You Baby (Walter Jacobs) - 3:01
2. I'm On My Way (Deadric Malone) - 3:08
3. Let Me Go (Leave Me Alone) - 3:34
4. Wait And See - 3:13
5. Close To Me (Christine Perfect, Rick Hayward) - 2:39
6. When You Say (Danny Kirwan) - 3:14
7. And That's Saying A Lot (Chuck Jackson, W. Godfrey) - 2:57
8. No Road Is The Right Road - 2:48
9. For You - 2:45
10.I'm Too Far Gone (To Turn Around) (Album Version) (Clyde Otis, Belford Hendricks) - 3:25
11.I Want You (Tony Joe White) - 2:23
12.Tell Me You Need Me (Previously Unreleased) - 3:20
13.I'm Too Far Gone (To Turn Around) (Single Version) (Clyde Otis, Belford Hendricks) - 3:16
14.Hey Baby (Previously Unreleased BBC Sessions) - 2:33
15.It's You I Miss (Previously Unreleased BBC Sessions) - 3:44
16.Come Into The Sun (Previously Unreleased BBC Sessions) - 2:43
All songs by Christine Perfect except where stated

Personnel
*Christine Perfect - Organ, Piano, Vocals
*Martin Dunsford - Guitar
*Chris Harding - Drums, Flute, Percussion
*Rick Hayward - Guitar
*Danny Kirwan - Guitar, String Arrangements
*John Mcvie - Bass
*Terry Noonan - Horn Arrangements, Trumpet
*Andy Silvester - Bass
*Top Topham - Guitar
*Derek Wadsworth - Horn Arrangements, Trombone
*Bud Parkes - Trumpet
*Geoff Drixcoll - Tenor Sax
*Dave Coxhill - Baritone Sax

Related Acts
1968  Chicken Shack - 40 Blue Fingers, Freshly Packed And Ready To Serve (2013 extra tracks reissue)  
1968-71  Fleetwood Mac - The Best Of Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Leon Russell - Carney (1972 us, fascinating fairly straightforward roots rock and twisted psychedelia, japan issue)



What Leon has given us is a song cycle that eloquently elaborates the daily vicissitudes of his fulfilled dream of popstardom. While the 8 1/2 motif is hardly new to rock, no one, with the exception of the Dylan of Blonde On Blonde, has captured the ambivalence inherent to the pop hero's situation any more sagaciously or incisively than Russell.

Carney (carnival barker) is certainly Leon's most gentle and personal statement, in which even the hardest rocker ("Roller Derby") seems tame when compared to earlier efforts like "Roll Away the Stone" or "Pisces Apple Lady." Like "8 1/2," the record is as much a view of one small, often ugly corner of contemporary society as it is an interior monologue. Leon touches upon a first love lost to junk ("Me And Baby Jane"), prying grafters from a certain prominent periodical ("If the Shoe Fits"), a pasquinade that sounds like an Asylum Choir number and confusion over whether or not the show must, indeed, go on ("Tightrope").

Leon's marble-mouthed, drawling vocals are a joy throughout, which comes as quite a treat to one who thoroughly detested much of his previous caterwauling (such as his Godawful mistreatment of George Harrison's "Beware Of Darkness"). He renders selections like "Tightrope" and the double-tracked vocal on "Out In The Woods" with just the right amount of tension and "Manhattan Island Serenade" and "This Masquerade" (a lovely melody whose tonic is the same as the Matt Dennis-Earl Brent chestnut, "Angel Eyes") with unabashed, yet understated tenderness. There is none of the cloying quality in Russell's voice and phrasing that somewhat marred his delicate "A Song For You," which was on the first solo album and is the most poignant lyric he has penned to date.

The production is hardly lavish, considering Leon's penchant for doing the large-scale gospel-influenced numbers, and the instrumental backing by this Shelter people troupe (which might be considered to be Russell's repertory company) is superbly subtle, especially John Gallie's organ work.

Like Fellini's Guido, Leon Russell will continue to partake in "the lonely game" he plays because it is his lifeblood, not to mention that he has managed to play it with consummate skill and shrewdness. Perhaps Carney is no more than another cool calculation on the part of its creator, but one comes away from the album secure in the knowledge that Leon is capable of exuding more wit, charm and candor than almost anyone else working in his medium.
by James Isaacs, 9-14-1972 
Tracks
1. Tight Rope - 2:59
2. Out In The Woods - 3:35
3. Me And Baby Jane - 3:52
4. Manhattan Island Serenade - 3:25
5. Cajun Love Song - 3:08
6. Roller Derby - 2:22
7. Carney - :47
8. Acid Annapolis (Leon Russell, Don Preston) - 2:47
9. If The Shoe Fits - 2:21
10.My Cricket - 2:55
11.This Masquerade - 4:22
12.Magic Mirror - 4:56
All songs composed by Leon Russell except where indicated

Musicians
*Leon Russell - Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Piano
*Don Preston - Guitar, Vocals
*Joey Cooper - Guitar
*Carl Radle - Bass
*Chuck Blackwell - Drums
*Jim Keltner - Drums
*John Gallie - Organ

1968  The Asylum Choir - Look Inside (2007 remaster)

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