Wednesday, 15 April 2015

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


Size: 122 MB
Bitrate: 256
mp3
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. [progarchives.com]

Personnel:
 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

and

 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
or
2. Link
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Monday, 13 April 2015

Breakthru - Adventures Highway (Psychedelia UK 1967-70)


Size: 128 MB
Bitrate: 256
mp3
Ripped by: ChrisGoesRock
Artwork Included

Breakthru were a powerful live act who never managed to "break through" into the record charts despite a talented and charismatic line-up. 40 years later, Circle Records has released a compilation of their recorded material that we can now hear and appreciate for the first time.

Breakthru never managed to have an album released of their own which was unfortunate as their only record was a solitary single "Ice Cream Tree" that has since appeared on various 1960s compilations. The group were never happy with the single as it was not a good representation of their "sound", and particularly as the song was not composed by the band themselves. All the group members were actively involved in song writing with some of this backlog occasionally committed to tape whenever time and money would permit. Now, decades later, the previously un-released recordings they made have been assembled into the one and only Breakthru album titled "Adventures Highway". This collection the band members say, represents how they would like the group to be best remembered.


Circle Records is an independent U.K. based record label that specializes in obscure groups from the 1960s and 70s. Operated by Peter Wild, the label prides itself in releasing high-quality vinyl pressings and CDs with the emphasis on attention to detail as well as respect for the artists themselves. "Quality not Quantity" is their motto so if the Breakthru album is any indication of this, I look forward to any other projects they do involving West Midlands bands.

Circle Records is an independent U.K. based record label that specializes in obscure groups from the 1960s and 70s. Operated by Peter Wild, the label prides itself in releasing high-quality vinyl pressings and CDs with the emphasis on attention to detail as well as respect for the artists themselves. "Quality not Quantity" is their motto so if the Breakthru album is any indication of this, I look forward to any other projects they do involving West Midlands bands.


Circle Records have done an amazing job in putting this package together. With full co-operation and assistance from former group members, the Breakthru "Adventures Highway" album includes the best of the band's previously un-issued recordings from 1967 to 1970. The audio quality of some individual tracks does vary as you can pretty much tell those done as demos or salvaged from acetates but do not let this distract you from enjoying the music. Reportedly a year in the making, the complete "Breakthru package" comprises two compact discs (CD and CD EP) in a jewel case with booklet, a vinyl LP in an attractive printed sleeve with full-size book, and a reproduction vinyl 45 rpm single in its own printed sleeve.

You can order the CDs separate from the vinyl, but then you'd be missing out on the full-size artwork and book. After getting used to CDs over the years, it feels wonderful to hold a new "vinyl" album in my hands again and being able to clearly read all the liner notes and book without use of a magnifying glass! The quality of the packaging for both LP and CD is exceptional with full-colour artwork throughout and more than 100 vintage photos (some in colour) of the band as taken by their "official" photographer Barry Gonen. Also appearing in the artwork are reproductions of original advertisements and other memorabilia associated with the group. The CD booklet comprises 16 pages with a well-researched and highly detailed history of the group as written by Mike Stax of Ugly Things magazine.


Getting down now to the music - did I mention there was music in this package? Well yes there is and lots of it too! Chronologically and starting with Ice-Cream Tree, this was the A-side to the group's only single and issued in 1968. It's very much a period piece but really not half as bad as the group made it out to be. I rather like it as there's a very catchy chorus (ring-a-ring of roses I can see, let's all dance round the ice cream tree...) and indeed could have become a hit. Just as well for the band it wasn't though so they were spared the embarrassment of having to perform it for more than a few times live on stage. The B-side Julius Caesar was an original composition by drummer Richard Thomas and less "pop" but more "rock". I love the drums and bass on this one - too bad it didn't go on for longer as it lends itself to an extended instrumental solo somewhere in the middle.


Going now to the unreleased material, the first batch of which was recorded at Tetlow's Recording Studio in Birmingham at the end of 1967. The group-written Yours was an early attempt of an original song but would have been difficult to dance to with its stops and shifting rhythm. A cover of the Gershwin classic Summertime sounds much more accessible with plenty of Hammond organ powering it along. Toyland from 1968 was an unusual one for the band as it was a cover of the Alan Bown version and according to Keith Abingdon, may not have ever been played live by the group. All these mentioned tracks appear on the CD EP that comes with the standard CD package.

As for the "Adventures Highway" album itself, this was assembled from a combination of unreleased-demos, BBC sessions, and surviving recordings from the results of various excursions into the studio by the group between 1967 and 1970. Side one kicks off with the high-energy group-composed Believe It from 1970. You can just imagine the band going all out on this one with its high-energy blues-driven attack. Here Comes The End from 1967 is a lot more psychedelic sounding with abundant echo effects but still very powerful. The bluesy cover of Willie Dixon's Spoonful really gives an indication of what Breakthru were all about. Gary Aflalo's blues-harmonica playing on this one is exceptional against a backdrop of thundering hammond organ and distorted guitars. If you really hate your neighbours then this is the one to play loud!



Love Is Strange starts out with some crashing guitars/bass/drums highly reminiscent of The Beatles Rain. This one is supposedly based on the Everly Brother's version of the song and features both Gary Aflalo and Keith Abingdon doing a good job harmonizing on the vocals. This is followed by the album's title track Adventures Highway from 1968 and what a number it is too! Menacing hammond organ joined by pounding drums and guitar build into a climax of sheer volume that soon becomes a backdrop for spaced-out lyrics; Oh let's get transmitted, there's no planet that's too far. We'll see Jupiter and Mars, we'll see strange and weird sights on our space bound trip tonight... (make of it what you will).

The melodic and hypnotic I Have A Dream composed by Geoff Garratley, reaches the height of social consciousness to include actual recorded excerpts from Martin Luther King's famous speech. Interestingly, this track was left off the vinyl version of the Breakthru album. Bob Booth's Growing Older is similarly laid-back but does include some wild hammond fingering towards the end. Troubleshoot co-written by Keith Abingdon and Richard Thomas is an excellent psychedelic rampage with lyrics to match. It has some great wah-wah guitar effects similar to what Roy Wood was doing at the time on many of The Move's records. We then go right into The Story Of Peer Gynt with its opening riff taken directly from Hall Of The Mountain King (almost seems like a tradition amongst Brum bands to pay tribute to classical music at some time or another). This rocking track was considered for single release at the time but for some reason it never happened. A pity as it would surely have made a good follow up to Ice Cream Tree.

The remaining tracks on the album were recorded in 1970 at London's Piccadilly studios. Although the group were on the verge of splitting by this time, they recorded (ironically) what are regarded as some of their best tracks. Alice Dropped Out from these sessions, would have made a fine single. As one of several Breakthru tracks co-composed by Keith Abingdon and Richard Thomas, this one is a driving blues-rock number with guitars very much at the forefront and the trademark hammond absent. This would have been a powerful one when performed by the band live. It is followed on the album by Happiness which shows the band could still be tuneful in a commercial direction when they wanted to. Shake Off That Lead is another such radio-friendly track that bounces along with a catchy keyboard-driven melody.

The final track on the Breakthru album is titled Sailor Song. A wonderfully harmonious partnership of keyboard and guitar, and as the title suggests, the lyrics tell of a seafaring character who would rather spend his life out on the ocean rather than be troubled by the problems experienced by those on land. Maybe it's meant as an expression of ultimate freedom (or freedom of expression) that seems to run through the groups music from start to finish on these collected tracks that make up the Breakthru album.

The Circle Records "Breakthru" album package serves as a fine tribute to one of the West Midlands great performing groups of the late 1960s. Breakthru were one of those bands who were at the leading edge of the pop music revolution at a time when innovation and the growth of new musical ideas was reaching its peak during the 1960s. "Adventures Highway" fulfills a dream they had back then and this time you can join them on their journey. Highly reccommended!


Only known for the one single in 1968 “Ice Cream Tree” /”Julius Caesar” on Mercury, (and largely misunderstood from this to be a ‘pop’ act), Birmingham’s Breakthru were in fact one of the loudest, hairiest and most exciting ‘psychedelic’ rock bands of their time. However, they could create soulful, sensitive or just plain ‘catchy’ sounds too. Young and very fashionable, many audiences had seen nothing like them. They took their wild stage show, complete with smoke and lights, all over Great Britain: Playing many of London’s most important clubs of the day in the process, such as “Happening 44”, “The Electric Garden”, “Blaises” and “The Marquee”. They also were resident at a club in Switzerland for a time, and made a big impression at Plumpton’s 1969 “National Jazz and Blues Festival”.

This is their first complete album, and gathers together all their surviving recordings. Despite the sole single release, the band recorded much material from 1967 to 1970. Included here are their cancelled second Mercury 45 “Peer Gynt”/”Troubleshoot”, alongside 14 other unreleased titles, and two which only made a brief appearance on a contemporary compilation. The ‘album’ C.D. runs for over 50 minutes, and has been put together to show the band as the ex-members would like best to be remembered.

The ‘E.P.’ disc contains their single release, alongside three of their earliest/more pop-orientated numbers. Together, these show the band’s musical range in full. In the overcrowded, constantly re-cycling ‘60s reissue market, this is new, fresh and largely unheard, restored as far as possible from original tapes and acetates. In development for over a year, this C.D. gives something different to the seasoned collector and curious ‘adventurer’ alike.

Breakthru were formed in 1967 as a professional group and were based in Sutton Coldfield. The members came from a couple of young semi-pro bands; The Clampets who were an R&B band from the Kingshurst area of Birmingham, and The Set who were a pop group from Castle Bromwich. The original members of Breakthru were Keith "Smoke" Abingdon (guitar), Bobby Booth (bass guitar), Geoff Garratley (Hammond organ), and drummer Jim Leyland. Breakthru were fronted by the charismatic and afro-equipped Gary Aflalo who more than filled the position of lead vocalist.

Gigs were booked by the Richardson Entertainments agency of Birmingham. The original concept of the band was to establish an exciting live act that would combine soul and Tamla standards with self-composed progressive music. Some reviewers who attended a Breakthru performance would describe the band's music as "Psychedelic Soul" which was probably a good description of it for that time. The Breakthru soon became a popular live act who played most of the well known local venues in Birmingham and throughout West Midlands. The group also had a residency at London's Marquee Club as well as playing bookings all over the U.K. which included performances at outdoor music festivals.

By 1968 there were a few changes to the Breakthru line-up with Jim Leyland leaving to be replaced by drummer Richard "Plug" Thomas, and Frank Farrell replacing Bobby Booth on bass guitar. A significant booking for the band was the Woburn Abbey "Festival of Flower Children" held in August of 1967. This three day event also included such famous names as The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Bee Gees, Eric Burdon, and The Small Faces amongst others. The festival was hosted by the influential British DJ John Peel (film footage of this concert still exists). Breakthru also performed at the highly-rated Plumpton and National Jazz and Blues festivals (for more information, check out The Archive - an excellent website that profiles the great UK rock festivals from 1960 to 1975).

Breakthru were signed to the Mercury Records label in 1968 for whom they recorded a single. The A-side entitled Ice Cream Tree was composed by Tom Loach, while the B-side Julius Caesar was a song composed by the bands' manager Russell Thomas. According to drummer Richard Thomas, the record was not a good representation of the band's sound at that time. The single was released in November of 1968 but apparently had no success in the record charts. A follow-up single Peer Gynt remained unreleased.

One of the more unusual performances by the band was a gig played on the roof of Nelson House clothing shop on Birmingham's Bull Street. This ground-breaking event was organized to drum up publicity for the opening of the new store and it pre-dated the Beatles famous rooftop concert by a year! 1969 saw more changes to the Breakthru line-up when Birmingham School of Music graduate Bill Hunt replaced Geoff Garratley on the Hammond organ.

The recording of a proposed Breakthru album of original material for Mercury Records was well underway during 1969 but unfortunately nothing was ever released due to the cancellation of the band's recording contract. In 1970, the group toured Europe but disbanded shortly after returning to the U.K. with the various members going in their own musical directions.

Gary Aflalo went on to a lead role in the famous musical Hair in 1971. Frank Farell (now deceased) played bass guitar with the successful progressive rock band Supertramp and later worked with Leo Sayer co-composing his No. 1 hit record Moonlighting. Keith Abingdon carried on as a working musician and composer. Bill Hunt became part of the first live line-up of the Electric Light Orchestra (see The Move) and later became a member of Roy Wood's chart-topping band Wizzard. He is now a music teacher.

Richard Thomas moved to London and worked with American guitarist Joe Jammer before joining the respected prog-rock band Jonesy with whom he recorded three albums. In 1974, Richard Thomas formed the group "Gold" who were originally a pop act but later became one of the most successful bands to record advertising "jingles" during the 1980s. Richard also formed a recording group with former Breakthru band-mate Keith Abingdon called "Spot The Dog" under which name they released a couple of good (though non-charting) singles during the early 1980s. Richard is still a full-time musician and song writer, also producing music for TV. To read more about Breakthru, visit the website of Richard Thomas at www.dickiethomas.co.uk

Breakthru never managed to have an album released of their own which was unfortunate as their only record was a solitary single 'Ice Cream Tree' that has since appeared on various 1960s compilations. The group were never happy with the single as it was not a good representation of their "sound", and particularly as the song was not composed by the band themselves.

All the group members were actively involved in song writing with some of this backlog occasionally committed to tape whenever time and money would permit. Now, decades later, the previously un-released recordings they made have been assembled into the one and only Breakthru album titled 'Adventures Highway'. This collection the band members say, represents how they would like the group to be best remembered.

Circle Records is an independent U.K. based record label that specializes in obscure groups from the 1960s and 70s. Operated by Peter Wild, the label prides itself in releasing high-quality vinyl pressings and CDs with the emphasis on attention to detail as well as respect for the artists themselves. "Quality not Quantity" is their motto so if the Breakthru album is any indication of this, I look forward to any other projects they do involving West Midlands bands.

Circle Records have done an amazing job in putting this package together. With full co-operation and assistance from former group members, the Breakthru 'Adventures Highway' album includes the best of the band's previously un-issued recordings from 1967 to 1970. The audio quality of some individual tracks does vary as you can pretty much tell those done as demos or salvaged from acetates but do not let this distract you from enjoying the music. Reportedly a year in the making, the complete "Breakthru package" comprises two compact discs (CD and CD EP) in a jewel case with booklet, a vinyl LP in an attractive printed sleeve with full-size book, and a reproduction vinyl 45 rpm single in its own printed sleeve.

You can order the CDs separate from the vinyl, but then you'd be missing out on the full-size artwork and book. After getting used to CDs over the years, it feels wonderful to hold a new "vinyl" album in my hands again and being able to clearly read all the liner notes and book without use of a magnifying glass!

The quality of the packaging for both LP and CD is exceptional with full-colour artwork throughout and more than 100 vintage photos (some in colour) of the band as taken by their "official" photographer Barry Gonen. Also appearing in the artwork are reproductions of original advertisements and other memorabilia associated with the group. The CD booklet comprises 16 pages with a well-researched and highly detailed history of the group as written by Mike Stax of Ugly Things magazine.

Getting down now to the music - did I mention there was music in this package? Well yes there is and lots of it too! Chronologically and starting with 'Ice-Cream Tree', this was the A-side to the group's only single and issued in 1968. It's very much a period piece but really not half as bad as the group made it out to be. I rather like it as there's a very catchy chorus (ring-a-ring of roses I can see, let's all dance round the ice cream tree...) and indeed could have become a hit. Just as well for the band it wasn't though so they were spared the embarrassment of having to perform it for more than a few times live on stage.

The B-side 'Julius Caesar' was an original composition by drummer Richard Thomas and less "pop" but more "rock". I love the drums and bass on this one - too bad it didn't go on for longer as it lends itself to an extended instrumental solo somewhere in the middle.

Going now to the unreleased material, the first batch of which was recorded at Tetlow's Recording Studio in Birmingham at the end of 1967. The group-written 'Yours' was an early attempt of an original song but would have been difficult to dance to with its stops and shifting rhythm. A cover of the Gershwin classic 'Summertime' sounds much more accessible with plenty of Hammond organ powering it along.

'Toyland' from 1968 was an unusual one for the band as it was a cover of the Alan Bown version and according to Keith Abingdon, may not have ever been played live by the group. All these mentioned tracks appear on the CD EP that comes with the standard CD package.

As for the "Adventures Highway" album itself, this was assembled from a combination of unreleased-demos, BBC sessions, and surviving recordings from the results of various excursions into the studio by the group between 1967 and 1970. Side one kicks off with the high-energy group-composed 'Believe It' from 1970. You can just imagine the band going all out on this one with its high-energy blues-driven attack.

'Here Comes The End' from 1967 is a lot more psychedelic sounding with abundant echo effects but still very powerful. The bluesy cover of Willie Dixon's 'Spoonful' really gives an indication of what Breakthru were all about. Gary Aflalo's blues-harmonica playing on this one is exceptional against a backdrop of thundering hammond organ and distorted guitars. If you really hate your neighbours then this is the one to play loud!

'Love Is Strange' starts out with some crashing guitars/bass/drums highly reminiscent of The Beatles Rain. This one is supposedly based on the Everly Brother's version of the song and features both Gary Aflalo and Keith Abingdon doing a good job harmonizing on the vocals.

This is followed by the album's title track 'Adventures Highway' from 1968 and what a number it is too! Menacing hammond organ joined by pounding drums and guitar build into a climax of sheer volume that soon becomes a backdrop for spaced-out lyrics; Oh let's get transmitted, there's no planet that's too far. We'll see Jupiter and Mars, we'll see strange and weird sights on our space bound trip tonight... (make of it what you will).

The melodic and hypnotic 'I Have A Dream' composed by Geoff Garratley, reaches the height of social consciousness to include actual recorded excerpts from Martin Luther King's famous speech. Interestingly, this track was left off the vinyl version of the Breakthru album. Bob Booth's 'Growing Older' is similarly laid-back but does include some wild hammond fingering towards the end.

'Troubleshoot' co-written by Keith Abingdon and Richard Thomas is an excellent psychedelic rampage with lyrics to match. It has some great wah-wah guitar effects similar to what Roy Wood was doing at the time on many of The Move's records. We then go right into 'The Story Of Peer Gynt' with its opening riff taken directly from Hall Of The Mountain King (almost seems like a tradition amongst Brum bands to pay tribute to classical music at some time or another). This rocking track was considered for single release at the time but for some reason it never happened. A pity as it would surely have made a good follow up to Ice Cream Tree.

The remaining tracks on the album were recorded in 1970 at London's Piccadilly studios. Although the group were on the verge of splitting by this time, they recorded (ironically) what are regarded as some of their best tracks. 'Alice Dropped Out' from these sessions, would have made a fine single.

As one of several Breakthru tracks co-composed by Keith Abingdon and Richard Thomas, this one is a driving blues-rock number with guitars very much at the forefront and the trademark hammond absent. This would have been a powerful one when performed by the band live. It is followed on the album by 'Happiness' which shows the band could still be tuneful in a commercial direction when they wanted to. 'Shake Off That Lead' is another such radio-friendly track that bounces along with a catchy keyboard-driven melody.

The final track on the Breakthru album is titled 'Sailor Song'. A wonderfully harmonious partnership of keyboard and guitar, and as the title suggests, the lyrics tell of a seafaring character who would rather spend his life out on the ocean rather than be troubled by the problems experienced by those on land. Maybe it's meant as an expression of ultimate freedom (or freedom of expression) that seems to run through the groups music from start to finish on these collected tracks that make up the Breakthru album.

The Circle Records "Breakthru" album package serves as a fine tribute to one of the West Midlands great performing groups of the late 1960s. Breakthru were one of those bands who were at the leading edge of the pop music revolution at a time when innovation and the growth of new musical ideas was reaching its peak during the 1960s. 'Adventures Highway' fulfills a dream they had back then and this time you can join them on their journey. Highly reccommended!

Breakthru Personnel were:
Keith (Smoke) Abingdon: guitar (still colleague and writing partner)
 Gary Aflalo: lead vocal (joined cast of ‘Hair’ in leading role 1970)
 Bob Booth: bass guitar (left in 1968, now photographer)
 Geoff (Gladys) Garratley: Hammond organ (left in 1968, now AV producer)
 Jim Leyland: drums (left in 1968)
 Frank Farrell: bass guitar (joined in 1968, now deceased, multi-talented Frank played bass for Supertramp later worked with Leo Sayer co-writing his no1 hit ‘Moonlighting’)
 Richard (Plug) Thomas: drums (joined in 1968)
 Bill Hunt: Hammond organ (joined in 1969, later joined first ELO line up and later Wizzard)

Album Disc:
01. Believe It (Farrell, Abingdon, Aflalo, Thomas) - 3:51
02. Here Comes The End (Aflalo, Abingdon) - 3:06
03. Spoonful (Dixon) - 5:05
04. Love Is Strange (Smith, Robinson, Baker) - 2:55
05. Adventures Highway (Abingdon, Booth, Garratley, Thomas) - 4:10
06. I Have A Dream (Garratley) - 4:35
07. Growing Older (Booth) - 3:43
08. Troubleshoot (Abingdon, Thomas) - 3:01
09. The Story Of Peer Gynt (Farrell) - 2:44
10. Alice Dropped Out (Abingdon, Thomas) - 2:52
11. Happiness (Farrell) - 4:28
12. Shake Off That Lead (Abingdon, Thomas) - 3:33
13. The Sailor Song (Abingdon, Thomas) - 4:32

EP:
01. Ice-Cream Tree (Loach) - 2:39
02. Julius Caesar (Thomas) - 2:49
03. Yours (Abingdon, Thomas, Leyland, Booth, Garratley, Aflalo) - 2:50
04. Summertime (Gershwin, Heyward) - 3:26
05. Toyland (Roden, Catchpole) - 2:52

1. Link
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2. Link
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