Saturday, April 01, 2017

Evensong - Selftitled (Great Folkrock UK 1973)

Size: 107 MB
Bitrate: 256
Ripped by: ChrisGoesRock
Artwork Included
Source: Japan 24-Bit Remaster

The first official re-release of this album, with sound taken from the original master tapes and adding six bonus tracks. Evensong's self-titled album nowadays is a high-prized UK folk-pop artefact, originally released in 1973 to critical acclaim and strong sales. The duo's fragile, harmony-drenched songs are given instrumental muscle by seasoned session players Clem Cattini, B.J. Cole and Herbie Flowers, and ornate string arrangements courtesy of former Spencer Davis Group guitarist Ray Fenwick.

Evensong were a British Folk Baroque duo with a psychedelic edge, similar to Heron. They toured for three months in America after they recorded their only album. 

Evensong is a similar to the likes of Magna Carta or Strawbs mixed with American and Australian duo songwriter folk in a more British way and with more solo lead vocals, with one Christian song and with one theme inspiration on country folk. This is harmonious folk-pop for which their name Evensong, -which is an Anglican expression for evening prayer-, should describe the aspect of a pastoral softness in their music. One of the two musicians, the British born Michael Lawson had a first life in American rock'n roll touring and playing support acts for American bands and singers in Birmingham, like with a band called The Grasshoppers. After having played with few more bands like The Shanes, The D'Fenders, The N'Betweens and Varsity Rag when the last band split, Evensong was formed as a new inspiration and direction.

The first track immediately sets the tone strongly with a warm voice, acoustic pickings and a full orchestral lush sweetness (strings and clarinet arrangements) benefiting the song, not forgetting the harmony vocal accents finishing touch. This is the track closest to folk-pop acts Magna Carta and the likes. The uptempo humtump electric “I was her cowboy” shows the American interest, and is somewhat out of its place against the other tracks, it does places the songwriter with his logical step in the other direction. The slightly melancholic but strongly focused next song, “Store of Time” is accompanied by nothing else but acoustic guitar but has also a few electric slide accents. “Story Of Time” sounds more psychedelic with its tam tam percussion, its melancholic flute theme with triangle arrangements added to the dual vocals with guitar. 

The next beauty, “Smallest man in the world”, has again more orchestral harmonies, comparable to the opener, with the inclusion of some flute. The next Christian song has a beautiful Bert Jansch-like guitar arrangement, congas and some electric guitar. 

The singing reminds me a bit of Cat Stevens here. With more drumming and electric guitar this has similar pop/rock strength too, again with well focused songwriting. “Borderline” is again a strong song, with all the right musical harmonies and arrangements to make this work perfectly. With strong drumming accents and very classical baroque orchestrations this is just wonderful and need to be heard. “Rum Rummer” has a little more up tempo and strong harmony vocals and more orchestrations. The last track is a melancholic guitar led song.

Surprisingly six bonus tracks were added of which 3 were recorded in the studios around the same time, and two came from their off-LP 1973 single. “Home Made Wine” for instance is with similar harmony vocals and acoustic/electric guitars but is rockier. Also here the American influence and accent is more dominant. These tracks still fit, but direct often towards a more (American) East Coast feeling.

In the mid 60s Mike Lawson played in Rock & Roll bands in Birmingham (The Shanes, The D'Fenders, The N'Betweens, Varsity Rag), supporting American bands and singers on tour. Tony Hulme worked as a ballad singer in the Manchester club circuit (named "Mr. Manchester") due to his stage show. Tony Hulme died in 2010.

01. Dodos and Dinosaurs - 03.50
02. I Was Her Cowboy - 03.18
03. Store of Time - 03.35 
04. Gypsy - 02.38
05. Smallest Man in the World - 03.38
06. Take Your Son to Church Mother - 04.47
07. Borderline - 03.02
08. Firefly - 02.40
09. Rum Runner - 03.50
10. Sweetbriar Road - 04.02

Bonus Tracks
11. Homemade Wine  [Unreleased CBS Studios 1971] - 02.59
12. Reaching Out for Someone  [Unreleased CBS Studios 1971] - 02.52
13. Wooden Wheels  [Unreleased CBS Studios 1971] - 04.32
14. Tell Me a Story  [Unreleased CBS Studios 1971] - 2.22
15. Dance Dance Dance [Phillips Single 1973] - 02.46
16. Romeo [Phillips Single 1973] - 03.41

1. Evensong
2. Evensong
3. Evensong

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Tamam Shud - Evolution (Great Aussie Psychedelic Rock 1969)

Size: 109 MB
Bitrate: 256
Ripped by: ChrisGoesRock
Artwork Included
Source: Japan 24-Bit Remaster

In the late '60s, director Paul Witzig traveled the globe, 16mm camera in tow, shooting silent footage of some of Australia's top surfers on the shores of North Africa, Puerto Rico, France and Portugal, as well as in locations all over their homeland. The end result was Evolution, and though the IMDb doesn't list any Witzig works outside of being a camera operator on Bruce Brown's classic surf documentary The Endless Summer, enthusiasts of the sport tell a remarkably different tale.

Evolution is thought of by aficionados as one of the crucial surf films for a few reasons chief among them the lack of dialogue, and how Witzig allowed the skill of his subjects and the depth of its soundtrack to guide the narrative. As one of the bands contracted for its soundtrack, Tamam Shud created an album's worth of material, composed to projections of the raw footage Witzig collected on his shoots. It's not a film Ive seen, nor is it readily available outside of VHS bootlegs, but if the music here is any indication, I'm sold.

Tamam Shud (meaning 'the end' in Persian, so claims their liner notes) existed in an earlier incarnation as the Sunsets, and frontman Lindsay Bjerre had been commissioned to write original music for Witzig's previous surf doc, The Hot Generation. The nature of this working relationship must have been a trusting one, as it's hard to imagine a whole film playing out to hard psych this undeniably cool. Bjerre's band (Zac Zytnik on guitar, Peter Barron on bass, and drummer Dannie Davidson) were joined in the studio by Peter Lockwood and Michael Carlos of the band Tully, whose group's music also appeared in Evolution. Though their music sounds a bit out of the moment for its 1969 studio date, its blues structures and full, lively arrangements survive any sort of serious aging for all but the most detail-oriented collector.

Chunks of Australia's underground rock history are only now becoming known to world audiences, with Aztec's dynamite reissue series, and long-rumored compilations by early Lobby Loyde groups like the Wild Cherries coming to the fore. That said, there doesn't seem to be much historical mention of Tamam Shud, even in the collectors' niches of record, and no earlier reissues barring a Radioactive label offering of dubious legality. Evolution should do well to right that wrong. This is an astounding, wild, free sounding album, steeped in the Beatles and Hendrix in just the right ways, much as it is with inspiration from the sun, surf and sand & the sand especially, as the organic and gritty production of Evolution gives the feeling of granular, between-the-toes crunch. The big, rounded, feedback-studded fuzz on the guitars here is astounding, with a hollow-body or possibly acoustic origin that works its way into the composition of slow, evocative minuets like 'I'm No One' and 'Jesus Guide Me, & and billows throughout the heart and veins of the harder tracks that surround them.

There are plenty of mistakes in the playing, but somehow they only add to the character of these tracks, which flow out of the performers as easily as breath. Songs sound as if they'd just been written, as melodies climb the scales with trepidation before locking into bass runs and expressive, lyric soloing. Bjerre's clear, high tenor, which counts off most of the songs here, fits impressively alongside the guitar tones, with a bit of a yodeling quality in spots that puts him in the class of belters like Family's Roger Chapman, but with a more palatable, less manic range. 

He's still able to break off a scream or two, but that's not where he's heading, so when it does happen, it makes the moment that much more righteous. Moreover, he knows when to hold back and let the guitars do the talking, as graceful lines open their parachute into tastefully wild psychedelic scatter. As a group, their album plays out as effortless, beatific rock, a successful and non-excessive jam session with incredible character and one-of-a-kind surge, even going as far as to imbue surf guitar with more modern, even progressive, influences, as the tension created in album closer 'Too Many Life' suggests.

This Japanese papersleeve reissue of Evolution, part of EM Records' surf soundtrack series, includes 1971s Bali Waters EP, three cleaner songs with the progressive tack reaching to the fore. Bjerre sounds as strong as he did on the album, but the band is a little more reined in, with a polish that still evokes a surfborne spirit. These three tracks are fine, but not as gloriously blasted out as the album, as if the group was waiting for their career to foment. Still, it's not a bad way to finish off such a satisfying album, a true surprise in a time where hundreds of psych reissues of almost random quality surface at ridiculous prices. It's nice to roll with a winner now and again.

Line-up Musicians
Dannie Davidson - drums
 Zac Zytnic - guitars
 Lindsay Bjerre - guitars, vocals
 Peter Barron - bass

01. Music Train (03:52)
02. Evolution (02:45)
03. I'm No One (02:08)
04. Mr. Strange (02:34)
05. Lady Sunshine (04:39)
06. Falling Up (02:48)
07. Feel Free (03:12)
08. It's a Beautiful Day (02:53)
09. Jesus Guide Me (03:53)
10. Rock on Top (02:49)
11. Slow One and the Fast One (06:58)
12. Too Many Life (03:04)

Bonus Tracks "Bali Waters EP (1972)
13. Bali Waters [Bali Waters EP 1972] (06:14)
14. Got a Feeling [Bali Waters EP 1972] (02.37)
15. My Father Told Me [Bali Waters EP 1972] (03:47)

1. Tamam Shud
2. Tamam Shud
3. Tamam Shud