Sunday, 3 May 2015

Maxine Brown - Out of Sight (Great Soul US 1968)

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A later set from singer Maxine Brown – recorded a few years after her better-known sides for Wand in the 60s, but a totally great set with an even deeper soul feel! Arrangements and production are by Mike Terry, of Funk Brothers fame – and he gives Maxine a soaring style that's a bit more in the southern soul mode than some of her earlier uptown soul, and which has her vocals crackling wonderfully on a range of funky covers and lesser-known gems. Even when singing other folks' tunes, Maxine's a the top of her game – and the arrangements from Terry help transform the sound of the record so that each song sparkles as if it's her very own. 

Titles include "Plum Outta Sight", "Sugar Dumplin", "In My Entire Life", "Don't Leave Me Baby", "Stop", "Sunny", "I Wish It Would Rain", and the sublime Chi-soul cut "Seems You've Forsaken My Love". 

Maxine Brown is an R&B singer from South Carolina. Born in Kingsgtree, Maxine began singing as a child. When she reached her teens, Maxine performed with the New York based Gospel groups, the Manhattans and the Royaltones, in the late Fifties. She also sang with a group called the Freys before, in 1960, she signed with the Nomar Records imprint. At Nomar, Maxine released ‘All in My Mind’ b/w ‘Harry Let's Marry’ (the A-side was penned by Maxine herself). ‘All in My Mind’ reached number two on the U.S. R&B charts (number 19 pop).

The single was followed in 1961 with ‘Funny’ b/w ‘Now That You're Gone’, which went on to reach number three on the charts. She released a third Nomar 45, entitled ‘Heaven In Your Arms’ b/w ‘Maxine's Place’ (the flipside performed by Frankie & The Flips). Maxine then switched imprints to ABC-Paramount in 1962, releasing a further three singles, entitled ‘Think Of Me’ b/w ‘I Don't Need You No More’ (in 1961), ‘After All We've Been Through Together’ b/w ‘My Life’ (in 1961) and ‘What I Don't Know (Won't Hurt Me)’ b/w ‘I Got A Funny Kind Of Feeling’ (in 1962).

Billboard Review July 1968
She then switched labels again, this time to the Wham Records imprint in 1962. Maxine’s stay at Wham was short-lived, and she returned to the ABC imprint for a further 5 single releases. She then moved on to the New York-based, Wand Records, a Scepter Records subsidiary, in 1963. Maxine stayed at Wand Records up until 1968.

Her releases at the label included the Carole King/Gerry Goffin song ‘Oh No Not My Baby’ b/w ‘You Upset My Soul’ (in 1964, featuring Dee Dee Warwick on background vocals), which reached number 24 on the pop charts. 

A further Goffin/King composition was also released in 1965, entitled, ‘It's Gonna Be Alright’ b/w ‘You Do Something To Me’, which reached number 26.

Maxine recorded duets with another Wand artist, Chuck Jackson. These included, ‘Something You Got’ b/w ‘Baby Take Me’, in 1965, which reached number 10 on the R&B chart. Many of the background vocals on Maxine’s singles were performed by Cissy Houston and the Sweet Inspirations, Dee Dee Warwick and Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson.

With an increasing focus on other artists at Wand, Ashord & Simpson approached Scepter Records hoping for a deal, and a further collaboration with Chuck and Maxine at the label. Scepter turned them down, so they approached Berry Gordy at Motown Records who recruited them to his Motown Records imprint. 

Maxine released two singles at Commonwealth, the first being ‘We'll Cry Together’ b/w ‘Darling Be Home Soon’, which reached number 10 in the Billboard R&B chart. 

A follow up 45 was entitled ‘I Can't Get Along Without You’ b/w ‘Reason To Believe’ (in 1970).Maxine moved on to the Avco Embassy Records imprint.

She released three singles at the label, namely ‘I Can't Get Along Without You’ b/w ‘Reason To Believe’ (in 1971), ‘Treat Me Like A Lady’ b/w ‘I. O. U.’ (in 1972), and ‘Picked Up, Packed And Put Away’ b/w ‘Bella Mia’ (in 1972). 

One single of note is Maxine’s 1966, Wand Records, take on the Beatles ‘We Can Work It Out’, which was later released on an Ace Records CD release, which was a various artists tribute to the Beatles.

Album Discography:
The Fabulous Sound Of Maxine Brown (Wand Records 1963)
 Spotlight On Maxine Brown (Wand Records 1965)
 Sayin' Something (Wand Records 1965)
 Hold On We're Comin' (Wand Records 1966)
 Out Of Sight (Epic Records 1968)
 Well Cry Together (Commonwealth Records 1969)

01. Sugar Dumplin'
02. Plum Outa Sight
03. Sunny
04. I Wish It Would Rain
05. I'm in Love
06. In My Entire Life
07. Don't Leave Me Baby
08. Just Give Me One Good Reason
09. Stop
10. Seems You've Forsaken My Love
+ 2 Bonus Tracks
11. When a Man Loves a Woman

1. Link
2. Link

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Cross Country - Selftitled (Great and Hard to Find Rock Album US 1973)

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Cross Country is a band formed in 1973 by three fourths of the musical group The Tokens- Jay Siegel, Mitch Margo and Phil Margo. The group released one self-titled album.

Compared to those who know about Intercourse by The Tokens, only few will know about this hidden gem. Somehow hidden away by Atlantic Records, this may be the most incredible effort ever by Phil and Mitch Margo, and Jay Siegel of the original "The Tokens" who helped create the smash hit The Lion Sleeps Tonight in 1961. 

If you can find a Cross Country CD consider yourself lucky! If you can find a vinyl you might want to check it into a museum. There are very few originally issued. These are gorgeous, haunting and original songs mostly by Mitch Margo, the mastermind behind Intercourse.

Fantastic album. Harmony vocals are very reminiscient of the Beach Boys but with a subtle touch of country music. Don't know anything about these guys, but it's a shame they didn't make any more records.

The song titles may lack imagination, but the music more than makes up for it. I'm a huge 70s country rock fan, & though I wouldn't call this country rock, it gets regular plays @ my house right between the Band, Byrds & Burritos.

Cross Country are a bit like Crosby Stills Nash & Young, at least in the tight harmonies and rural folky hippie rock they produce. 

Nice laid back sip on iced tea and smoke some herb type o' stuff. Every now and then they do give rocking out a shot so it's not all mellow. This was released in 1973 on Atco records and is their only LP. 

01. Today - 2:52
02. Just A Thought - 3:22
03. Cross Country - 3:49
04. In The Midnight Hour - 3:16
05. Thing With Wings - 4:35
06. Tastes So Good To Me - 3:13
07. A Fall Song - 2:48
08. Choirboy - 3:18
09. A Ball Song - 2:52
10. A Smile Song - 4:26

1. Link
2. Link
German Single 1973

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Picture of the day...

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Gene Vincent and The Blue Caps (1:a Albumet US 1957)

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Gene Vincent and The Blue Caps is an album by Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps. It was originally released in 1957, four months after its predecessor, Bluejean Bop. It was released on the Capitol label.

Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps, cut in October 1956, only four months after its predecessor, came about under slightly less favorable circumstances than the Bluejean Bop album. Cliff Gallup, whose lead guitar had been so central to the group's original sound, and rhythm guitarist Willie Williams, who was only somewhat less important to their sound, had been gone from the band for nearly two months when producer Ken Nelson decided it was time to cut material for more singles and a second album. 

Gallup was persuaded to rejoin temporarily for the sessions that yielded this album, and with him he brought not only a hot-sounding instrument but one first-rate original song, "You Better Believe," alongside a few other notable band originals ("Cruisin'," "Hold Me, Hug Me, Rock Me") that are among the best songs Vincent and his band ever recorded. 

The sound ends up similar to the Bluejean Bop album, with a little more depth in places and Vincent showing more maturity and confidence, which is how he gets away with "Unchained Melody," the most challenging ballad he'd cut up to that time -- Gallup's trilled, mandolin-like playing (which turns up on "I Sure Miss You" as well) also serves to make this one of the more unusual and memorable of the many good versions of this song. Vincent's singing also stands out on his dark, moody, ominous rendition of the Delmore Brothers' "Blues Stay Away From Me." And the band runs circles around virtually every other white rock & roll outfit of the period. 

Unfortunately, Gene Vincent & His Blue Caps would also be the last time that this version of the band would turn up on record with Vincent -- Gallup soon left again, and in less than three months, every member of the group except drummer Dickie Harrell would be gone. In 1998, Collectables Records reissued this album, paired with Bluejean Bop, on Bluejean Bop/Gene Vincent & His Blue Caps.

Biography by AMG:
Gene Vincent only had one really big hit, "Be-Bop-a-Lula," which epitomized rockabilly at its prime in 1956 with its sharp guitar breaks, spare snare drums, fluttering echo, and Vincent's breathless, sexy vocals. Yet his place as one of the great early rock & roll singers is secure, backed up by a wealth of fine smaller hits and non-hits that rate among the best rockabilly of all time. The leather-clad, limping, greasy-haired singer was also one of rock's original bad boys, lionized by romanticists of past and present generations attracted to his primitive, sometimes savage style and indomitable spirit.

Vincent was bucking the odds by entering professional music in the first place. As a 20-year-old in the Navy, he suffered a severe motorcycle accident that almost resulted in the amputation of his leg, and left him with a permanent limp and considerable chronic pain for the rest of his life. After the accident he began to concentrate on building a musical career, playing with country bands around the Norfolk, VA, area. Demos cut at a local radio station, fronting a band assembled around Gene by his management, landed Gene Vincent & the Blue Caps a contract at Capitol, which hoped they'd found competition for Elvis Presley.

Indeed it had, as by this time Vincent had plunged into all-out rockabilly, capable of both fast-paced exuberance and whispery, almost sensitive ballads. The Blue Caps were one of the greatest rock bands of the '50s, anchored at first by the stunning silvery, faster-than-light guitar leads of Cliff Gallup. The slap-back echo of "Be-Bop-a-Lula," combined with Gene's swooping vocals, led many to mistake the singer for Elvis when the record first hit the airwaves in mid-1956, on its way to the Top Ten. The Elvis comparison wasn't entirely fair; Vincent had a gentler, less melodramatic style, capable of both whipping up a storm or winding down to a hush.

Brilliant follow-ups like "Race With the Devil," "Bluejean Bop," and "B-I-Bickey, Bi, Bo-Bo-Go" failed to click in nearly as big a way, although these too are emblematic of rockabilly at its most exuberant and powerful. By the end of 1956, The Blue Caps were beginning to undergo the first of constant personnel changes that would continue throughout the '50s, the most crucial loss being the departure of Gallup. The 35 or so tracks he cut with the band -- many of which showed up only on albums or b-sides -- were unquestionably Vincent's greatest work, as his subsequent recordings would never again capture their pristine clarity and uninhibited spontaneity.

Vincent had his second and final Top Twenty hit in 1957 with "Lotta Lovin'," which reflected his increasingly tamer approach to production and vocals, the wildness and live atmosphere toned down in favor of poppier material, more subdued guitars, and conventional-sounding backup singers. He recorded often for Capitol throughout the rest of the '50s, and it's unfair to dismiss those sides out of hand; they were respectable, occasionally exciting rockabilly, only a marked disappointment in comparison with his earliest work. His act was captured for posterity in one of the best scenes of one of the first Hollywood films to feature rock & roll stars, The Girl Can't Help It.

Live, Vincent continued to rock the house with reckless intensity and showmanship, and he became particularly popular overseas. A 1960 tour of Britain, though, brought tragedy when his friend Eddie Cochran, who shared the bill on Vincent's U.K. shows, died in a car accident that he was also involved in, though Vincent survived. By the early '60s, his recordings had become much more sporadic and lower in quality, and his chief audience was in Europe, particularly in England (where he lived for a while) and France.

His Capitol contract expired in 1963, and he spent the rest of his life recording for several other labels, none of which got him close to that comeback hit. Vincent never stopped trying to resurrect his career, appearing at a 1969 Toronto rock festival on the same bill as John Lennon, though his medical, drinking, and marital problems were making his life a mess, and diminishing his stage presence as well. He died at the age of 36 from a ruptured stomach ulcer, one of rock's first mythic figures.

01. "Red Blue Jeans and a Ponytail" (Bill Davis, Jack Rhodes) - 2:14
02. "Hold Me, Hug Me, Rock Me" (Vincent, Tex Davis) - 2:15
03. "Unchained Melody" (Alex North, Hy Zaret) - 2:37
04. "You Told a Fib" (Vincent, Cliff Gallup) - 2:21
05. "Cat Man" (Vincent, Tex Davis) - 2:18
06. "You Better Believe" (Cliff Gallup) - 2:01
07. "Cruisin'" (Vincent, Bill Davis) - 2:12
08. "Double Talkin' Baby" (Danny Wolfe) - 2:12
09. "Blues Stay Away from Me" (Henry Glover, Wayne Raney, Alton Delmore, Rabon Delmore) - 2:16
10. "Pink Thunderbird" (Bill Davis, Paul Peek) - 2:32
11. "I Sure Miss You" (Charles Matthews) - 2:38
12. "Pretty, Pretty Baby" (Danny Wolfe) - 2:27

Bonus Tracks:
13. "Be-Bop-A-Lula" (Capitol F3450 US) (6/4/56) (Capitol 45-CL 14599 UK)
14. "Blue Jean Bop" (Capitol F3558 US) (10/56) (Capitol 45-CL 14637 UK)
15. "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain" (From Album "CRAZY TIMES" CAPITOL T1342 & ST1342 1960)
16. "Vincent's Blues" (From Album "SOUNDS LIKE GENE VINCENT" CAPITOL T1207 1960)

1. Gene Vincent
2. Gene Vincent

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Simon Dupree & Big Sound - Without Reservations (UK 1967)

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Simon Dupree & the Big Sound's sole LP was, oddly, recorded and released prior to their one big British hit, the psychedelic pop single "Kites." It's in much more of a blue-eyed soul vein than "Kites" (or some of their other subsequent work), with hints of ska and pop, though its brassy American-styled soul-with-organ that carries the day. As far as such British acts went, Simon Dupree & the Big Sound were neither the best nor the worst; they were pretty driving and soulful, actually, but not too innovative or creative. 

Too, this kind of blue-eyed soul was just starting to pass out of fashion in the U.K. by the time it came out in 1967, though the LP did edge into the British Top 40. Still, this has some pretty fair soul-rock cuts, like their version of the Five Americans' "I See the Light," their cover of a young Albert Hammond's "Reservations," and "Love," a pretty cool exuberant number penned by Jackie Edwards, who'd written hits for the Spencer Davis Group. Some of their original tunes and attempts at heavier, more serious soul, however, are more plodding and not nearly as inviting. 

Simon Dupree and the Big Sound were a British psychedelic rock/psychedelic pop band formed by three Scottish brothers, Derek Shulman, born 1947 (vocals), Phil Shulman, born 1937 (vocals, saxophone, trumpet), and Ray Shulman, born 1949 (guitar, violin, trumpet, vocals); also known for their later prog rock band, Gentle Giant.

They started as The Howling Wolves and then became The Road Runners, playing R&B around the Portsmouth area, home of the Shulman brothers, becoming Simon Dupree and the Big Sound in early 1966. Making up the rest of the group were Peter O'Flaherty (bass guitar) (born 8 May 1944, in Gosport, Hampshire), Eric Hine (keyboards) (born Eric Raymond Lewis Hines, 4 September 1944, in Portsmouth, Hampshire), and Tony Ransley (drums) (born Anthony John Ransley, 17 May 1944, in Portsmouth, Hampshire). 

Those early group names aside, their repertory was focused a lot more on the 
songs of Wilson Pickett, Don Covay, and Otis Redding, than on the Howlin' Wolf or Bo Diddley. 'Simon Dupree and the Big Sound' came about in the course of their search for a flashy name.

The group were signed to EMI's Parlophone label, under producer Dave Paramor. Their first few singles, notably "I See The Light" (1966), failed to chart, then in October 1967, the group's management and their record label decided to try moving Simon Dupree and the Big Sound in the direction of psychedelia.

Simon Dupree And The Big Sound - France Single 1968
They broke through at the end of 1967 with the psychedelic "Kites", a Top 10 hit in the UK Singles Chart. Regarding themselves as blue-eyed soul brothers, they hated it as it was so unrepresentative of their usual style. The follow-up, "For Whom The Bell Tolls", was only a minor hit, and a subsequent single "Broken Hearted Pirates", featuring an uncredited Dudley Moore on piano, made no headway at all.

A then unknown keyboard player by the name of Reginald Dwight was hired to fill in for an ill Eric Hine and he joined them on a 1967 tour in Scotland. They were asked to allow him to stay on, and he was almost recruited as a permanent member. They politely rejected the chance to record any of his compositions (although they did ultimately record "I'm Going Home" as the B-side of their final (contractually obligated single), and laughed when he told them he was adopting the stage name of Elton John. On 5 April 1968, Simon Dupree and the Big Sound appeared alongside Amen Corner, Gene Pitney, Don Partridge and Status Quo at The Odeon Theatre, Lewisham, London, on the first night as part of a twice nightly UK tour. 

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In early 1969 they were booked to appear at the Lanchester Polytechnic in Coventry, but did not turn up. Their support act Raymond Froggatt played the entire evening.

The group released one studio album; Without Reservation, on Parlophone Records (1967), and a compilation Amen (1980). A more recent set, Part Of My Past (2004), includes all their singles, album tracks and previously unreleased material prepared for their second album, release of which was cancelled at the time.

In late 1968, they released a single "We Are The Moles (Part 1)/(Part 2)" under the moniker The Moles. Released on the Parlophone label, the single did not give any hint towards the identity of the artists, claiming that both songs were written, performed and produced by The Moles. Rumours began to spread that it was an obscure output by The Beatles, who also were under contract at Parlophone, with Ringo Starr on lead vocals. When interest began to rise concerning the release, Syd Barrett stated that Simon Dupree & The Big Sound were the faces behind The Moles. Confronted with this, the band admitted.

Frustrated as being seen as one-hit wonders being pushed by their record label as a pop group rather than the soul band they had always intended to be, they disbanded in 1969 and the Shulman brothers went on to form the progressive rock group Gentle Giant.

01. Medley: 60 Minutes of Your Love, A Lot of Love
02. Love
03. Get Off My Bach
04. There's a Little Picture Playhouse
05. Day Time, Night Time
06. I See the Light
07. What Is Soul
08. Teacher, Teacher
09. Amen
10. Who Cares
11. Reservations

1. Link
2. Link

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Not to be missed: Speed, Glue & Shinki - Selftitled (Japanese Psychedelia 1972)

Size: 144 MB
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This far flung, double yellow Tiger bomber wrapped brown bag in paper was unleashed in Japan on Atlantic Records, Speed, Glue & Shinki’s second album did the impossible by being even more of a wrecked and loose a masterpiece as their previous album, “Eve.” Two separate LPs came tethered together in the oversized obi enclosure of one wraparound brown paper bag sleeve designed by the Taj Mahal Travellers’ self-made instrumentalist Michihiro Kimura. And the album’s lyric and credits sheet were littered with typos, crossed out words and all the reproductive cut marks, tape and detritus no white-out or non-repro blue zone exposure of all fuckups unmasking. 

And most of the music here on their final and eponymous named effort mirrored this, comprised of one-takes mishandled with searing guitar overdubs, occasional phasing on the drums and a direction mapped out not by some flimsy, preconceived fad but by a truly unselfconscious and of-the-moment reaching, succeeding and staggering just over the finish line in such a sublimely wrecked and burnt manner that it made an art form out of just teetering on the edge of falling apart altogether. It’s a miracle it was ever played and recorded, let alone released for Speed, Glue & Shinki were loose cannons on the loosest ship of the loosest navy ever and seemed more like three stringless kites that soared so high upon the currents of Rock they never came down. Nothing was ever a big deal for these guys, they were so damn loose.

Speed, Glue & Shinki were a highly unorthodox trio comprised of three rock’n’roll kings of oblivion disguised as Pacific Rim gipsy mongrels who already had spent nearly a decade apiece performing a succession of groups and loose musical configurations. Previous bassist Masayoshi “Ruiseruis” Kabe had spent several years in the successful Group Sounds outfit The Golden Cups before subsequently joining fellow Yokohama native, guitarist Shinki Chen, in the premier Japanese supergroup Food Brain. And Shinki himself had cut his teeth in innumerable blues-based bands, the “New Rock” group Power House and many sporadic live jam sessions. By the end of 1970, Shinki quickly recorded his solo album “Shinki Chen & Friends” with various Power House members and included Kabe on bass on the album’s one true classic: the distended, 13-minute freak out, “Farewell To Hypocrites.” By this time, Shinki had already checked out Zero History, a Filipino quartet hired to perform in a circuit of Tokyo department stores. 

Although their repertoire was primarily cover versions of psychedelic top ten hits, it was the unforgettable power of longhaired vocalist/drummer Joey Smith who caught Shinki’s attention. Shinki performed several times with Zero History, and once Food Brain was no longer a going concern, Shinki invited Smith to form a band. Once Kabe was tracked down, the trio was complete. Smith’s pedigree went as far back as the late fifties performing as vocalist, drummer and sometimes both through a succession of popular Filipino rock’n’roll bands that were virtually all but unknown outside The Philippines. The best-known were The Downbeats, who scored a coveted opening slot for The Beatles at their notorious concert in Manila on July 4, 1966. And Smith’s vocals grew to be a yammer of a soul hammer while his drum fills were deft, hit hard and oftentimes spun out exaggeratedly as if replicating the sound of a sack of potatoes being flung down a corridor lined with floor toms and set-up crash cymbals and laced with extra volleys of spud-lobbing galore.

And on “Speed, Glue & Shinki” it was different kettle of mess boiling all over the kitchen to match the Little Rascals’ surprise cake, for the group were augmented by a further trio of musicians; the most prominent of which was drummer/vocalist Joey Smith’s longtime friend and bandmate Michael Hanopol, brought in to replace original bassist Masayoshi “Glue” Kabe at the onset of the album’s recording. It would be an inspired choice as Hanopol not only evenly matched Smith’s contributions song for song and brought to the shebang heavy bass, heavier vocals and the heaviest lyrics for tracks of the heaviest sludge properties, but also contributed occasional keyboards and even co-wrote side four’s synthesizer suite with Smith. And as the new Glue in town, Hanopol helped drive the band to their very outermost limits: igniting Shinki’s guitar playing to unlock his inner Jimi and through his re-connection with his previous Filipino Rock Brother No. 1, drove the drumming, lyrics and (especially) the vocals of Joey Smith right up the wall, and into an overall lower, larynx strangulating register.

When the world tries to make one feel meaningless of life, to join their robot parade, crank the music of the hard rock idiom loud to chase bad vibes off the cliff and reinforce inner fortress of mind, heart, spirit. For too soon are we all crushed into dust. Live we must. Love we trust. Hate is a bust. Break the crust. Blow out the must. Shake off rust. Pant with lust. Woman is all inside, outside log waits to jam up inside cream with flesh rag and dance continues. The people of big hassle remain balcony hidden with cheat masks of extra bad actor faceless like a sore crack in hell.

The air becomes heavy: feeling the energy which it tries probably to create good ones. The vigor fullest capacity is with the sound, which overflows. Rock soul is felt in the performance which is made dark slippery. When such dark sound is decided, it becomes the pleasant sensation which is hard to change into many things -- In the vocal which is approached to the force perfect score darkly with thick voice; it is the case that the timbre of the functional guitar keeps being covered. Speed, Glue & Shinki have something to say, and say it over and over to make it stick. And it would, anyway: Woman do Joey wrong, so he sings pain how it is. You know. Terror you want no one to know, and tears well in your heart to stretch out time to infinity between minute and second hands of heart clock within and nothing familiar seems real or comfort provide as life merges into constant corner of crushing no change where once was only life: sun; with face. Then rain, on your head and all free forever. 

Tiger Album the FirstSides 1&2 of Tiger Album the First starts off with sniffing, snorting and overall gleeful knocking stuff all over the place during a bargain basement jumble in the dark for “Sniffin’ & Snortin’ Pt. 1 (Vitamine C)” barges in and kicks down the door with a sonic moronic display driven off the edge with Shinki’s buzz-sawn-off Chuck Berry riffing shot up with immediate stomp appeal and Joey Smith’s lead foot kick drum stepping on the gas and bashing out at all around him...And to think that this is only a warm-up exercise for once the faders and mental house lights go up on “Run And Hide,” the band are firing on all cylinders at once, cutting loose like a retarded version of “The Immigrant Song.” Backwards. 

And slowed to 8rpm. Minus a handful of random notes. Sort of. Cradled in woman’s arms and your broken head. Forever. Joey sings like he plays drums; crude and willful to make a stand for himself and the people in the streets (IN THE STREETS!) but not bitter: rather, knowing ultimately of compassion not himself only but for all living things and none surviving impact of tsunami culture war but for all living things and no surviving brain cells. Shinki Chen rips and tears through the track like Food Brain LP never was but only looked: charging drunken elephant sleeve with big tease Amon Düül the Second gatefold masking a dozen overplayed Zoot Money overdrafts from the Hammond B-3 bank. Over-amplified bass dump from Kabe and Shinki’s alternating buzzsaw rhythm and multi-dubbed soloing like tattooed brain of small but effective “Electric Ladyland” detailing in both production and guitar. “Give us back the night..!” barks out Joey into the impending dusk, the sinking sun and the dying embers of old land.

The first of Michael Hanopol’s contributions enters with “Bad Woman”, setting Speed, Glue & Shinki off into West, Pappalardi & Laing territory but with half the calories, the map being read upside down and topped off with the stinky tiara of “Mississippi Queen” and Hanopol handling the Steve Knight role on organ. And with its Leslie (!) speaker-filtered guitar solo, tops off an already overqualified Mountain metaphor about as unwieldy as the Les Weinstein of old hisself. Hanopol lets loose a bevy of insane bass propulsions near the coda, and it’s equally weird that this is the sole song of Hanopol’s that Smith sings -- and in his newfound slow and strained, near-Louis Armstrong holler.

“Red Doll” is another Hanopol composition, performed at the speed of burning barge and oozing kooze with Hanopol on accompanying spook-o-rama spidery organ fills following his overdubbed bass propulsions following Joey Smith’s raining blows of sticks upon his tiny kit, clearing a 2mph riff and drumming to approximate a desert belly crawl with no oasis sighted for days and at the speed of surgery at the pace of exhaustion that presses on regardless. In all certainty, if it stopped for one moment to think it would perish outright. Shinki tosses in a Leslie-fed guitar solo, flanked by Smith’s errant drum fills that always fling themselves just across the tempo’s finish line every damn time. And although sung by Hanopol, the character here is Joey, for:

I always imagined Red Doll is ginger lady Joey walks to over his bed to kiss naked and only he cares and Joey and her both know but no bother for Speed brother. Red sister and Joey draw together and big bang later make them both go dead to disperse bad world silt from their ocean souls. They want whole world to get tired so they sleep in each others hair and walk better as people. You kiss a red hair sister and hair fire shoots into your belly and her body lays fine and two breast shine below only moonlight attic window in Joey’s crash pad. It’s dark and next morning not so and Joey smokes big cigarette to make things whole and light again. Red woman is circle unbroken for Joey. Not clean, but cleansed. Apple woman she says take a bite, my wound is your head inside, then we fall. Fire in the darkness from red sister spark cream delight inside. Rejoice. Joey Smith: motherfucker drummer with two team totem pole sticks twice as big as wood, looking through the knothole of goddess unblinking and rolling a jay. Heaving big log in forest of silence only he hears, up against open seam of woman and push into love dish of sugar outside in the rain. Stay and awake the stamen.

Album side the Second of Album No. One begins with a gradual build of super-phased drumming that projects outward through a massive mushroom cloud exhalation of cannabis sativa and they’re off and walking through “Flat Fret Swing.” Joey’s vocals once more swell like a big Louis Armstrong (and a little headstrong Mark E. Smith) soul holler lodged in the throat against the horizontal, mid-tempo backing. Joey’s trying to get his head together for the umpteenth time, and the greatest lines of the album are: “And leave all the miseries behind me/Cradle all of the good things in mind...” Joey’s thinking things over and hanging out, making air whistle out of his head and trying to figure out how to get up off the floor and leave so he can get back once more to some more good times. At first listen, I never thought too much of this track, but it’s now grown to anthem proportions in my head. Forever. 

A reprise of the opener, “Sniffin’ & Snortin’ Pt. 2 (Vitamine C)” follows and bears about as much resemblance to the version on the previous side as the two versions of “Revolution” by The Beatles...Which is to say, they’re night and day and this one’s high noon and with a far wilder speed differential to and all the while continually cops successive quick feels off of Jimi’s “Come On (Part 1).” It’s probably Masayoshi Kabe pounding out the bass here, for his style always easily reached those rave up qualities of an amphetamine’d Paul Samwell-Smith channeling through Jack Bruce’s amplification. As it races into hyperspace stereo “War Pigs” tape-sped warp conclusion, the soothing Shinki Chen instrumental “Don’t Say No” wafts in like a summer breeze through opened window. In your head. Forever. 

Shinki collaborates here with drummer Hiroshi Oguchi and keyboardist Shigeki Watanabe (two musicians he’d team up with the following year in the short-lived and unrecorded band, Orange.) It gathers together becalmed organ buoyancy floating above the surface of low slung bass, drums as a wordless wail of content melodiously sounds over the instrumental’s slow and measured paces like “Careful With That Axe, Eugene” in dub and capturing that same heartfelt sense of farewell Steve Winwood channeled through his organ playing so poignantly well on “Sea of Joy.” It approximates that feeling of being suddenly caught within the cool shadow of a huge, dark and imperceptibly moving cloud formation on an otherwise clear and sunny day. Oddly, there’s only one appearance from Shinki’s guitar here and it is a single, small but perfectly placed overdubbed ‘woman tone’ solo -- inserted like a perfect crystal within this organically framed setting. 

The entire scene turns upside down with the entry of “Calm Down” as wave upon wave of crazily hit fills and cymbals part for a two-toned BRAANNGGG-INGGG guitar to steam shoveling all to the side in its wake all silence up against the wall and out of existence. Guitar tone is a loud and bronzed blur, fried from the sun, hallucinogens and who the fuck knows what else. Tremendous wah-wah guitar from Shinki over a second fuzz rhythm combined with Hanopol’s piledriving bass with a vocal delivery that sidles right up against the rhythm and feels it up just to get off. Here, my mind is already drowning in all the colours, especially with a musical bridge cut from the most rudimentary material I’ve ever heard. Giddily, the song falls away and into a drum solo like no other: Namely, taking its fucking time taking a major tumble down a ravine while going out of its way to hit as many branches, boulders and rocky outcroppings as possible before finally landing crumpled on the valley floor two miles down.

Tiger Album No. TwoSides 3&4 of Tiger LP No. Two begins with a word from behind the now streaming, sweaty and belaboured kit of Smith after downing a long, tall cool one. Smacking his lips, he do declare “That’s the best wine I’ve ever tasted” and he’s already crashed into his cymbals, prefaced with another quick drum roll and is already headlong into his Armstrong-along-60-second-long holler, “Doodle Song.” After which, they just grease most of the album side out in the most wrecked and transcendental way possible. Smith calls out to regroup with a “Right!” “Yeah!” and “Ya ready?” and they break directly into the epic “Search For Love.” Oh, Motherfucker. What a track. 

The running time sez 8:44, which is ridiculous: for time seems all but suspended for the duration of the raging depths of this howling, sprawling track. The intro to “Moby Dick” off “Zeppelin Album No. One” is all but hustled roughly into a burlap sack with the drum solo thrown off the back of the Speed, Glue & Shinki 18-wheeler as they head steaming down the highway on 24 hour beaver patrol: But at 80mph in fourth gear with their collective scroti dragging behind them alongside a case of empty Sapporo beer cans and 12 drained plastic gallon jugs of Happy Sunshine cough mixture marked ‘For Institutional Use Only’; set off by two oversized silver foil pinwheels that catch, refract and shine into all eyes of creation sun’s bright rays of illuminated genius at the gates of dusk as impromptu sunspots get caused by residual white powder still alighting on the surface from the previous night’s snort-sesh. 

The main part is hazardously heavy and simple and Hanopol brays out the vocals swaggering all the way. All else cuts out during the guitar solo number 1: overlaid with the very same number 1 and staggered directly at the only point where it could and does extend into a 3D topographic mind map of the DNA emotion spiral in ancient memory banks’ nighttime deposits of the contact high as exquisitely overdriven bass amplitudes in a howling buzz discharged from the belching innards of Rock Behemoth until all fades out to leave Shinki alone perched upon a cloud with his guitar, plugging into the rising sun rays extending from behind as they exchange complimentary, throbbing hues and using them as amplification. It all vanishes like the techincolour daydream it is, awakening back to the “Moby Dick”-ed up introduction and the vocals. 

Bass resounds, thunder craps, rain and wind storm and through this weather pattern breaks through another insane guitar solo. Out cuts a trap door from within and TADA out falls Joey Smith still rapping out his spastically insistent drum heads while Pinoy brother Michael brays out his will to get woman, get high, get good and stoked and fucked. Enter guitar solo two number up causing heavens to thunder and split and crack open with rain to make the parched drains green with moss and make love grow in one’s head, body caught in uncontrollable shudder, to shake your brains to the core, body to the mantle and spirit out of baked seasonal crust. Dough girl smiles from within, winking. Me, too...a pinky. Thunderclaps drown it out as crickets and other mossy denizens resound in humid black air.

Dropping in for a brief, mood-breaking baroque keyboard not unlike the “Lake Isle of Innisfree” upchuck on Sir Lord Baltimore’s “Kingdom Come” is the nonplussing “Chuppy.” This hiccough sounds nothing like the rest of the album and is a saccharine-sweet nightmare performed on cembalo; a keyboard that looks like a spinet (apparently), sounds like a harpsichord and is entirely incongruous to its surroundings. The only annoying moment of the album, “Chuppy” is light years away in approach from Shigeki Watanabe’s far more subtle and unstudied keyboard performance on “Don’t Say No.”

“Wanna Take You Home” commences as the final blare’n’bump’n’grind of the album, as well as being the slowest moment of the album outside of the near-standstill “Red Doll.” Originally written and recorded in 1969 by the obscure San Franciscan trio Fields as “Take You Home,” here it’s appropriated by Speed, Glue, Shinki & Friends, which is more than all right: ‘Specially as Fields’ version was nothing less than taking Cream’s cover of Albert “Flying V” King’s “Born Under A Bad Sign”, dropping a few notes, adding new lyrics and PRESTO came up with this bird-doggin’ come-on supreme for all the sweet young things of heaving nubile bosom with stars in their eyes at their West Coast ballroom gigs opening for John Mayall (This track would also spill over into a third version by Juan de la Cruz, the Filipino power trio Smith would form the following year back home with Hanopol and guitarist Wally Gonzalez.) The Blue Cheer sand in the grease grinding of the original is greatly adhered to, especially since it was already such an integral part of Speed, Glue & Shinki’s lexicon of sound and a long lost cousin that they could’ve written, anyway. Michael Hanopol, with a fantastic sense of the appropriate and appropriation judged it as worthy noise to work into the loose collage that is this huge and expansive double album. Because:

Where there’s nothing left and day is caught darkness on its tail, the last people left waiting dazed are collected up and into black drug pit at nighttime Texas Pop Festival ’69 when Zeps unfurl “Dazed And Confused” for people who forgot their name yet remember nighttime soul and no hangnail hang-ups on monkey’s uncle backside besides. Evening is balm to head, silence no longer crazy and no mystery any longer left: so Joey Smith reminds heaven and earth through tinny portable sounds Grundig machine and he grokks and all are zonked as well: remembering their reason for being by taking a form under circling sun so many times half in darkness left.

Completing an ingenious album that is one of the best records of the hard rock idiom stoned emperor 100 percent comes the run-on suite of “Sun”/“Planets”/“Life”/“Moon” and “Song For An Angel” performed on Moog synthesizer for Side four’s entire seventeen minute duration. A lift-off from all earthly desires prostrate on the floor as a series of charged electronic trajectories waft and smear together. Even on Moog synthesizer, Joey Smith makes it as Rock as his vocals, drumming and guitar playing because his attitude is so strong, careless and perfect, discharging a slow motion round of rocket launchings, pink noise twittering and knuckle dragging undertows as the air-locked elevation of soul continues to jettison all with Moog starship to lift-off beyond prefecture of asteroid, stratospheric inner space where neurons circle and spark brain coral of interior pink neon to litter all around sensation’s head quarters to ultimate collision with your only self. Self and soul unite. In your head. Forever. 

Disc 1:
01. Sniffin' & Snortin' Pt. 1 (Vitamine C) (3:48)
02. Run And Hide (4:47)
03. Bad Woman (4:34)
04. Red Doll (4:54)
05. Flat Fret Wing (4:42)
06. Sniffin' & Snortin' Pt. 2 (Vitamine C) (2:36)
07. Don't Say No (5:35)
08. Calm Down (4:50)

Disc 2:
01. Doodle Song (1:32)
02. Search For Love (8:50)
03. Chuppy (1:42)
04. Wanna Take You Home (5:58)
05. A) Sun, B) Planets, C) Life (13:16)
06. Song For An Angel (4:22)

1. Speed
2. Speed

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

The Gentle Soul - Gentle Soul (Outstanding Pop-Rock Album US 1968)

Size: 122 MB
Bitrate: 256
Ripped by: ChrisGoesRock
Artwork Included
Source: Japan 24-Bit Remaster

The Gentle Soul's sole album is suffused with pretty and wistful folk-rock tunes, deftly produced by Terry Melcher to incorporate dreamy orchestral instrumentation -- harpsichord, flute, and cello -- while retaining an understated subtlety. If you like the Stone Poneys, who made similar material in the late 1960s, there's no way you're not going to like this album. If you're sitting on the fence after that conditional recommendation, it might be too mellow for your tastes. If you want to know how exactly it might differ from the Stone Poneys, it's a little more on the soft-rock side, and definitely heavier on the male-female harmonies. All of which might be underselling the record, which is pretty attractive, though not astounding, on its own terms. That's probably Ry Cooder making his presence felt on the gutsiest and bluesiest tunes, "Young Man Blue" and "Reelin'," both of which feature excellent acoustic slide guitar. Although Pamela Polland and Rick Stanley sing and write well together, it's Polland whose personality comes through stronger, particularly as she takes the occasional unharmonized lead vocal and is the sole composer of one of the record's strongest tunes, "See My Love (Song for Greg)." Is this worth the three figure prices it commands on auction lists? No. But what is? It's decent music if you can get it.

It was finally reissued on CD by Sundazed in 2003 with the addition of nine bonus cuts, including all five songs from their late-'60s non-LP singles, an alternate take of the single "Tell Me Love," and three previously unreleased outtakes, among them the early Jackson Browne composition "Flying Thing." With the exception of a bluesy 1968 version of "2:10 Train" (also covered by the Stone Poneys and the Rising Sons), most of these have a poppier sound than the album, sometimes showing the influence of the Byrds and the Mamas & the Papas in the harmonies and guitar parts.

 It’s kind of amazing that this record wasn’t reissued much sooner than just a few years ago. While the Gentle Soul themselves faded into obscurity within a couple years of the release of this album, the name-dropping of musicians involved with the band pretty much demands that these tracks be made more widely available to all manner of music fans. Rick Stanley and Pamela Polland formed the nucleus of the band and aren’t exactly household names, but they ran with an impressive crowd. A very young Ry Cooder appears here on guitar and more importantly mandolin. Van Dyke Parks appears on the heels of his fated collaboration with Brian Wilson on the Beach Boys’ ‘SMILE’ recordings. Larry Knechtel was already a well-known keyboardist of Simon & Garfunkel fame and plays organ here. Flautist Paul Horn had just left a lucrative gig with Tony Bennett and is also on the record. And a teenage Jackson Browne had caught the ear of Polland, who recorded one of his first compositions, “Flying Thing”. This track didn’t appear on the original vinyl, but is included on the CD reissue. Browne also briefly replaced Stanley in the touring version of Gentle Soul before it disbanded and he went on to a solo career.

The Gentle Soul - US Promo Single 22 May 1967
Unfortunately this CD version was produced from a digital copy of the vinyl release and suffers a bit as a result. The sound isn’t bad, but there are a few slightly fuzzed-over spots that seem to have been too manipulated. But if you are looking for this record you’ll have to settle for the CD for the time being at least, unless you have a very fat wallet and feel like hunting down one of the few and rare original vinyl copies.

In the 21st century this comes off as a very mild, West Coast soft-rock and country-tinged body of work. But for its time this was really fairly innovative stuff. The Eagles hadn’t yet made Hollywood country rock a radio staple yet, and the blending of folk, country, and some orchestral instrumentation with well-harmonized vocals was still a novel thing. The sounds here are in stark contrast with what Simon & Garfunkel were doing in New York, much less ethnic and more rural-sounding and a bit closer to the less-jaded West Coast hippie crowd, but not quite Haight-Asbury hippie. Very refined really. While Simon & Garfunkel were more likely to appear on an Ivy League college’s student green for a wine and cheese recital, Gentle Soul come off as just as likely to show up in a smoke-filled coffee house or even on the beach. The songs are almost all about relationships or introspection, and seem to consciously avoid more controversial social topics, and certainly not anything political.

The Gentle Soul w. Papersleeve - US Promo Single 27 Feb 1967
Almost all the songs on the original release were composed by Polland, with the exception of “Young Man Blue” and the last two tracks. An interesting trivia note: the lyrics for “Dance” were actually written by actor the late Ned Wynn, best known for his role of the dastardly Colonel Bat Guano in the Stanley Kubrick film ‘Dr. Strangelove’. Enough name-dropping already? Like I said, this album itself isn’t as impressive as are the number of accomplished artists who were involved with the band at some level or another.

Ry Cooder is the musical star though, turning out consistently excellent if rather simple guitar and mandolin performances on every track. Polland and Stanley are a great matched set on vocals, harmonizing well with each other and giving this a truly folk tinge. The more interesting tracks include the opening “Overture”, a sort of medley of the rest of the album’s tracks; the harpsichord-dominant “Marcus” written as a lullaby for band manager Billy James’ young son; and the Stanley autobiography “Young Man Blue”, which succeeds almost entirely due to Cooder’s bluesy and trance-like slide guitar. “Empty Wine” offers the most exquisite vocals from Polland, as well as some fine cello from sometime Bob Dylan sideman Ted Michel.

The Gentle Soul - US Promo Single 27 Feb 1967
The ‘bonus’ tracks are mostly b-sides or earlier tracks that didn’t make it onto the original album. “2:10 Train” features Taj Mahal himself on harmonica. The sound quality of these tracks varies widely, but all of them are at least cleaned up enough to merit being put into this collection. Most are fairly forgettable, although the flower-powered “Our National Anthem” (not the one you’re probably thinking of) is mildly interesting in a hippie/love/peace kind of way. Pretty dated sentiments today though.

This is a very decent folk album, probably qualifying as progressive just because it would have been a bit of a novelty in 1968, especially the stringed instruments and harpsichord. Extra points for providing an early and obscure glimpse into the genius of Ry Cooder. I’ll give it a very high three stars with recommendation for most folk fans. []

 Pamela Polland - female vocals, guitar
 Rick Stanley - vocals, guitar
 Tony Cohan - tabla
 Ry Cooder, Mike Deasy - guitar
 Van Dyke Parks - harpsichord
 Paul Horn - flute
 Ted Michel - cello
 Larry Knechtel - organ
 Bill Plummer - bass
 Gayle Levant - harp


 Riley Wyldflower - guitar
 Jerry Cole - guitar
 Joe Osborne - bass
 Sandy Konikoff - drums
 Hal Blaine - drums
 Terry Melcher - producer (01-11)

01. Overture - 4:35
02. Marcus (Pamela Polland) - 2:52
03. Song For Eolia - 2:12
04. Young Man Blue (Rick Stanley) - 2:30
05. Renaissance - 3:10
06. See My Love (Song For Greg) (Pamela Polland) - 3:55
07. Love Is Always Real - 2:55
08. Empty Wine - 2:35
09. Through A Dream - 3:54
10. Reelin' (Pamela Polland) - 3:17
11. Dance (Rick Stanley/N.Wynn) - 3:23

Rare Bonus Tracks:
12. Tell Me Love (mono, single A-side) (Rick Stanley) - 2:24
13. Song For Three (mono, single B-side) (Pamela Polland/G.Copeland) - 2:56
14. 2:10 Train (mono) (T.Campbell/L.Albertano) - 2:52
15. Flying Thing (previously unissued) (Jackson Browne) - 3:15
16. God Is Love (previously unissued) - 2:19
17. You Move Me (single A-side) (Pamela Polland) - 2:12
18. Our National Anthem (single B-side) (Pamela Polland) - 2:28
19. Tell Me Love (alternate version, previously unissued) (Rick Stanley) - 2:22
20. Love Is Always Real (alternate version, previously unissued) - 3:02

1. Link
2. Link