Saturday, November 08, 2014

Hour Glass - The Hour Glass (1st Album US 1967)

Size: 102 MB
Bitrate: 256
Ripped by: ChrisGoesRock
Artwork Included
Source: Japan SHM-CD Remaster

Hour Glass was the debut album by the group of the same name, issued in October 1967 on Liberty Records, the first of two by the group that featured the namesakes of The Allman Brothers Band.

The album was recorded by a group saddled by a producer unable to quite realize the group's potential. Dallas Smith, a formulaic producer noted for his work with Bobby Vee, knew the group was from the South. He knew they had formed from the ashes of groups that had performed liberal amounts of blues covers. And he heard soulful qualities in the voice of nineteen-year-old Gregg Allman. Therefore, he referred to them as a "Motown band", much to the chagrin of the group.

The Hour Glass was recorded with an emphasis on lead vocalist Gregg Allman's voice and dispensing with nearly all original material. Of the eleven tracks on the original LP, only one was penned by a group member, Gregg Allman's "Got To Get Away". The remaining ten were written by songwriters running the gamut from Curtis Mayfield and Jackson Browne to Del Shannon and the Goffin-King team. The Hour Glass performed the basic tracks, which were overdubbed by Smith with layers of vocals and instrumentation.

The album was a failure in both sales terms and in properly showcasing the group. On the follow-up, 1968's Power of Love, the group would be given a bigger role in the making of the album.

Chances are that the Hour Glass' two albums would never have been reissued, but for the fact that the group was formed by Duane and Gregg Allman out of the ruins of their first full-time band, the Allman Joys; additionally, its lineup featured future Capricorn Records star record producers Johnny Sandlin on drums and Paul Hornsby on organ and piano. And that would also be a bit unfair, because the Hour Glass were an above-average white soul group -- no Allman Brothers Band by a long shot, at least on their recordings, but an imposing outfit.

Hour Glass Single US 1967
From Elvis in Memphis Originally named the Allman-Act (a pun on "almanac"), they got an audition with Liberty Records with help from the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and a recording contract resulted. There was also a name change to the Hour Glass. Unfortunately, it turned out that Liberty was primarily interested in Gregg Allman as a lead singer, and did its best to dress up the group's recordings with layer upon layer of production, including a full horn section and a soul chorus. The resulting debut album didn't sound a lot like the group, although it was polished and often effective white Southern soul, sometimes crossing paths with the sounds later heard from Elvis' glorious Indian Summer period on the From Elvis in Memphis album, which was still two years away. Other moments, such as "Silently," fit more easily into the languid pop-psychedelic spirit of 1967.

Amid this over-production, there wasn't a lot of the actual Hour Glass on the album, and not much in the way of sales success. By the time of their second album, Power of Love, the band's lineup had changed, with Pete Carr, a friend of Sandlin and company from Pensacola, FL, replacing Mabron McKinney on bass. 

This time out, they were given a freer hand in choosing the songs that went onto the new album, which gave it a bluesier feel than its predecessor. the Hour Glass still wielded virtually no control in the studio in terms of how the songs were arranged or recorded, but elements of their sound slipped through. Gregg Allman also wrote a couple of songs during this period, one of which, "It's Not My Cross to Bear," would turn up later on the Allman Brothers Band's debut album. Unfortunately, the Hour Glass' best moments were nowhere near the studio sessions where these two albums had been recorded but, rather, at the long jams they played at the Whisky a Go Go.

They made an attempt to record an album of their own, putting together demos for a proposed third release at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, AL -- they also cut a handful of tracks, most notably a B.B. King medley featuring Duane Allman out in front which, although not adequate from a commercial standpoint, did show off his playing in the studio better than any records up to that time. Liberty Records had no interest in the resulting tapes or in doing a third album, the first two having stiffed, and the band broke up soon after. Gregg and Duane tried playing in a band with their friend Butch Trucks, called the 31st of February, but Gregg headed back to California while Duane remained in Florida.

Although Liberty rejected the results of the Muscle Shoals sessions, they ended up benefiting all concerned in a far more roundabout fashion. Duane Allman's playing on those tracks led to a contract for session work at Fame, where he got to play on records by Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, and King Curtis, and was heard by manager Phil Walden and persuaded to form a new band. The rest, as they say, is history.

01. "Out of the Night" (Alex Moore, Bob Welch) - 1:57
02. "Nothing But Tears" (Jimmy Radcliffe, B. J. Scott) - 2:28
03. "Love Makes the World Go 'Round" (Deon Jackson) - 2:42
04. "Cast off All My Fears" (Jackson Browne) - 3:31
05. "I've Been Trying" (Curtis Mayfield) - 2:40
06. "No Easy Way Down" (Gerry Goffin, Carole King) - 3:20
07. "Heartbeat" (Ed Cobb) - 4:52
08. "So Much Love" (Gerry Goffin, Carole King) - 2:57
09."Got to Get Away" (Gregg Allman) - 2:14
10. "Silently" (Dan Bourgoise, Del Shannon) - 2:48
11. "Bells" (Edgar Allan Poe, arr. Peter Alin) - 2:24

12. "In a Time" (Paul Hornsby) - 2:17
13. "I've Been Trying" (alternate version) (Curtis Mayfield) - 2:35
14. "Kind of a Man" (Composer Unknown) - 3:07
15. "D-I-V-O-R-C-E" (Bobby Braddock, Curly Putman) - 3:12
16. "She Is My Woman" (Composer Unknown) - 2:38
17. "Bad Dream" (Gregg Allman) - 3:37
18. "Three Time Loser" (Don Covay, Ronald Miller) - 2:40

Tracks 1-11 constitute the original album.
Tracks 12-13 are outtakes from the album.
Tracks 14-18 are tracks from aborted 1968 and 1969 sessions by Gregg Allman (present on 1992 re-release only).

1. Link
2. Link

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Johnny Jenkins - Ton-Ton Macoute! (w. 'Allman Bros' Members US 1970)

Size: 87.5 MB
Bitrate: 256
Ripped by: ChrisGoesRock
Artwork Included
Source: SHM-CD Remaster Edition.

Ton-Ton Macoute! is the 1970 album by Johnny Jenkins, a former bandleader who first hired Otis Redding in his band, The Pinetoppers, as a singer. "Ton-Ton Macoute!" was originally intended as a Duane Allman solo album, before he departed to form The Allman Brothers. Most of the guitar tracks were played by Allman, and Jenkins later supplied the vocal tracks. The album is a blend of Southern Blues/Rock/Country and Soul. Guest musicians include future Allman Brothers Duane Allman, Berry Oakley, Jaimoe, and Butch Trucks. The standout tracks are Dr. John's "I Walk on Gilded Splinters", Bob Dylan's "Down Along the Cove", and J.D. Loudermilk's "Bad News".

The phrase "Ton-Ton Macoute" is actually a phrase in Haiti, meaning "bogey man" (literally: "Uncle Bagman") in the Haitian language. "Ton-Ton Macoute" was the name Papa Doc Duvalier used for his secret police, who wreaked havoc in Haiti in 1950s. The "bogey man" of Haitian folklore refers to a man visiting during Christmas Eve, entering peoples homes at night and taking naughty children into his knapsack.

Johnny Jenkins' Ton-Ton Macoute is a fine bowl of Southern gumbo. Aided and abetted by the likes of Duane Allman (this started as an Allman solo disc, but when he formed the Allman Brothers Band, Jenkins put his vocals over the tracks best suited), Dickey Betts, and those great guys from Muscle Shoals, Jenkins cooks on such cuts as "Down Along the Cove" from the pen of Bob Dylan, and Muddy Waters' "Rollin' Stone." But it is Dr. John's "I Walk on Guilded Splinters" which shines here and is the one which folks will recognize as the basis for Beck's hit "Loser." On the slippery "Blind Bats & Swamp Rats" you can almost feel the heat and humidity rolling out of the bayou. This reissue also includes the mighty fine bonus cuts "I Don't Want No Woman" and "My Love Will Never Die." Great Southern funk & roll for the discerning listener. It even includes educational liner notes which tell the tale behind each cut.

Guitarist, singer, and songwriter Johnny Jenkins may have had a long pause between records, but his heart, ears, and mind were always close to blues music. Jenkins never wanted to be a professional musician, and always worked day jobs, including digging wells, logging, and mechanical work. Jenkins' style is, at times, reminiscent of Elmore James, and at other times one can hear echoes of Jimi Hendrix in his guitar playing -- probably because Jenkins was a seminal influence on Hendrix.

Born in Macon, GA in 1939, Jenkins grew up in a rural area called Swift Creek. He listened to a battery-powered radio and first heard the sounds of blues and classic R&B artists like Bill Doggett, Bullmoose Jackson, and others. Jenkins built his first guitar out of a cigar box and rubber bands when he was nine, and began playing at a gas station for tips. He played it left-handed and upside down, and this practice continued after his older sister bought him a real guitar a couple of years later.

Capricorn Records founder Phil Walden first heard Jenkins on a local radio talent show in 1959. Walden began to book Jenkins' band, the Pinetoppers, which included Otis Redding on lead vocals. Redding got his first big break in 1962 when he drove Jenkins to Stax Studios in Memphis to record a follow-up to Jenkins' regional hit, "Love Twist." The producer encouraged the young Redding to take a turn at singing in the studio, and he recorded "These Arms of Mine" with some extra studio time. Redding's career began to take off and Jenkins was asked to become part of his band but he refused, ironically, because of his fear of air travel.

Johnny Jenkins - US Promo Single 1970
Following Redding's untimely demise in an plane crash, Jenkins stayed close to home, playing regionally and working day jobs to support his family. His unorthodox guitar style left lasting marks on the young, impressionable Jimi Hendrix, who came out to see Jenkins play while visiting relatives in the Macon area. Later, in 1969, Jenkins and Hendrix teamed up to play together at The Scene, a club owned by Steve Paul in New York. In 1970, Walden put Jenkins into the studio with several members of the Allman Brothers Band to record his debut album, Ton Ton Macoute, one of the fledgling Capricorn label's first releases. Although Ton Ton Macoute was finally released to high critical praise in 1972, the then-small label had other priorities to deal with, including the newly successful Allman Brothers.

Blessed Blues In 1996, Capricorn founder Walden convinced Jenkins to record a "comeback" album, Blessed Blues. He's backed by a stellar cast of musicians, including Chuck Leavell on keyboards and Muscle Shoals percussionist Mickey Buckins. Capricorn also reissued Jenkins' now-legendary Ton Ton Macoute on compact disc in 1997.

01. "I Walk on Gilded Splinters" (Dr. John) - 5:49
02. "Leaving Trunk" (Sleepy John Estes) - 4:19
03. "Blind Bats & Swamp Rats" (Jackie Avery) - 4:44
04. "Rollin' Stone" (Muddy Waters) - 5:21
05. "Sick and Tired" (Dave Bartholomew/Chris Kenner) - 4:41
06. "Down Along the Cove" (Bob Dylan) - 3:25
07. "Bad News" (J.D. Loudermilk) - 4:08
08. "Dimples" (John Lee Hooker/James Bracken) - 2:55
09. "Voodoo in You" (Jackie Avery) - 5:00
10. "I Don't Want No Woman" (Don Robey) - 2:12
11. "My Love Will Never Die" (Otis Rush) - 5:33

1. Johnny Jenkins
2. Johnny Jenkins

Monday, November 03, 2014

The Hot Dogs - Say What You Mean (Good Rock Album US 1973)

Size: 89.3 MB
Bitrate: 256
Ripped by: ChrisGoesRock
Artwork Included
Source: Japan 24-Bit Remaster

The Hot Dogs were a Memphis group who recorded for Stax offshoot Ardent Records in the early- to mid-'70s. Ardent was also Big Star's label and studio during this time period, and the Hot Dogs were a similar band in many respects, drawing on the same mix of Beatlesque guitars and harmonies, although without the skewed, edgy deconstructive feel that made Big Star so distinctive and posthumously revered. 

A loose conglomeration of Stax session players, including singer and bassist Bill Rennie, singer, guitarist and pianist Greg Reding, and later, guitarist Jack Holder and drummer Fred Prouty, along with producer and lead guitarist Terry Manning, the Hot Dogs released two albums, the pretty, harmony driven Say What You Mean in 1973, and the rockier, less distinctive Hot Dog in 1977. Say What You Mean is a lovely set, highlighted by the title track, which features some spot-on George Harrison-styled lead guitar work, and "Morning Rain," which sounds like a lost Zombies song with some funky Memphis organ tossed into the mix. 

"Take the Time to Let Me Know" is another gem, with its massed acoustic and electric guitars building to a nice, leisurely crescendo. Mellow, melodic, and full of wonderful vocal harmonies, Say What You Mean will be of interest to Big Star fans (producer Manning also worked with Big Star member Chris Bell at Ardent), and is a stellar of example of that curious Memphis power pop micro-genre that centered around the Ardent studios in the early 1970s.

The Hot Dogs featured the talents of Memphis-based musicians Greg Reding and Bill Rennie.  keyboardist/guitar player Reding had previously been a member of Village Sound, while singer/bass player Rennie had been in The Poor Little Rich Kids (he was known as Bill Renni).  Along with former Piccadilly Circus guitarist Jack Holder, in 1970 the pair started playing together under the moniker Silver.  The same year the trio went into Memphis' famed Ardent Studios to record some demos. The demos caught the attention of producer Terry Manning who brought in sessions drummer Prouty for backup.  Unfortunately Silver  fell apart before anything could come of it, with Reding and Rennie subsequently paying their bills as touring sidemen for Albert King.   

Back in Memphis, 1972 saw Reding and Rennie renew their relationship with producer Manning and with his support went into the Stax-affiliated Ardent Studios to record an album.  With backing from Holder, guitarist Robert Johnson, and Prouty, 1973's Manning-produced "Say What You Mean" was a surprisingly likeable set of British-influenced power pop.  With Reding and Rennie responsible for much of the material (Manning also contributed several tracks), these guys clearly had an affection for English-styled pop with more than a passing nod to the Fab Four.  In fact, imagine what Badfinger would have sounded like if they'd been from Memphis and you'd be in the right aural ballpark.

The Hot Dogs - US Single 1974 (Terry Manning)
01. The title track 'Say What You Mean' was a gorgeous ballad with a haunting melody and some beautiful harmony vocals.  Even better were the stunning guitar solos (I'm guessing Holder and Johnson were the featured performers).  You had to wonder how this was overlooked as a single. 
02. Kicked along by a xylophone (?), 'Morning Rain' started out with a beguiling laidback tropical feel, before taking brief detours into Uriah Heep organ terrain, following by a Hammond B3 cocktail jazz interlude, and ending with a tasteful lead guitar (Terry manning?).  For some reason this one's always reminded me of an early Steely Dan track.  It would have slotted nicely on "Can't Buy a Thrill".  Very nice.   
03. Shifting gears 'When I Come Home Again' displayed the group's proficiency in the country-rock department.  Nice melody with an incidiously catchy chorus be forewarned that  this one will stick in your head.   
04. 'Time Is All' started out as an acoustic ballad, but exploded into an outright rocker before returning to it's roots.  Not my favorite track, though the guitar solo was pretty hot ... 
05. Side one ended with another acoustic ballad in 'Another Smile'.  This one had a pretty melody and some wonderful harmony vocals from the pair.  Always liked the chiming twelve strings and the handclap percussion on this one. 
06. 'Thanks' was one of the track that reminded me of something out of the Badfinger catalog.  Pretty melody and a dazzling guitar solo made this one of the best songs on the album.  Great Rennie bass pattern to boot. 
07. 'Take the Time To Let Me Know' was another pretty ballad, but it didn't really go anywhere.  Once again the highlight came in the form of the tasty guitar solo. 
08. Manning's 'Feel Real Fine' offered up a weird mix of country and rock influences.  It was definitely weird and almost sounded like a "White Album" outtake. Kicked along by some acoustic slide guitar and harmonica, this was actually one of the catchiest numbers.  Beats me why I like it so much.   
09. Starting off as another country-tinged number the mandolin-propelled 'Let Me Look At the Sun' came as another major surprise.  Showcasing a fabulous melody and the album's best lead guitar, this was another lost single. 
10. Following a pattern, 'Way To Get To You' opened up with spare acoustic guitars before bursting into a fuller rock arrangement.  Another pretty melody with glorious harmony vocals ... 
11. 'Lowdown' ended the album with another out-and-out rocker.  While the song was quite good (another killer guitar performance), on this one Reding and Rennie seemed somewhat uncomfortable singing in the high key.  This one was tapped at their third and final single.  

01. Say What You Mean   (Steve Smith - S.T. Smith) - 6:34 
02. Morning Rain    (Greg Reding - Bill Rennie - Terry Manning) - 4:48 
03. When I Come Home Again   (Steve Smith - S.T. Smith) - 2:23 
04. Time Is All   (Bill Rennie - Jack Holder - Terry Manning - Ruleman) - 3:32 
05. Another Smile  (Bill Rennie - Terry Manning) - 2:55 
06. Thanks    (Greg Reding - Bill Rennie) - 2:53 
07. Take the Time To Let Me Know    (Greg Reding - Jack Holder - Bill Rennie) - 3;34 
08. Feel Real Fine  (Terry Manning) - 2:53 
09. Let Me Look At the Sun    (Bill Rennie - Terry Manning) - 3:52 
10. Way To Get To You    (Greg Reding - Bill Rennie) - 2:33 
11. Lowdown    (Greg Reding - Bill Rennie - Terry Manning) - 3:33

1. The Hot Dogs
2. The Hot Dogs