Saturday, June 08, 2024

Various Artist - A Pot of Flowers (Great Garagerock & Psychedelic Rock US 1967)

Size: 161 MB
Bitrate: 320
Ripped by: ChrisGoesRock
Artwork Included

When it first appeared in 1967, With Love: A Pot of Flowers was an enigmatic relic of the early San Francisco psychedelic rock scene, comprised of a dozen tracks by groups that never made a national impact. The 2010 CD reissue on Chiswick does much to make its place in the history of San Francisco rock more comprehensible, due both to the addition of 14 bonus tracks (more tracks, in fact, than were on the original LP itself) and compiler Alec Palao's customarily thorough and lengthy historical liner notes. These explain how the Mainstream label made a concerted effort to get into the action of the early San Francisco Bay Area rock scene in the mid-'60s, resulting in the numerous recordings by the obscure bands on this CD, though none of the groups they signed would make it big save one (Big Brother & the Holding Company, who are not represented on the compilation). While the hope was, of course, to have hits, viewed from a distance it's almost like a documentary snapshot of some of the more notable bands that never made it, and indeed might have rarely or never gotten inside a recording studio if not for Mainstream's interest.

All that noted, the dozen songs on the original LP (presented as the first 12 tracks on this CD) are more typical early San Francisco rock than they are brilliant, often showing more of a garage rock influence than a psychedelic one. There's also a folk-rock feel, especially in the tracks by Wildflower, with some echoes of the Byrds and the Beau Brummels, though the trademark bittersweetness of the San Francisco sound is part of the mix too. 

The Harbinger Complex's "My Kind and Dear Sir," in contrast, sounds something like a mid-‘60s, country-rock Kinks, and is a standout in both its quality and its relatively unusual approach in these surroundings. The 14 bonus tracks are a mixture of rare singles on the Mainstream label and its Brent subsidiary, along with some unissued cuts and mono single versions of songs from the original LP. While these generally aren't up to the level of the cuts on the original album, they have their moments, especially the New Dawn's "Slave of Desire," one of the most accurate Animals imitations ever (though it borrows quite liberally from the Animals' "Inside Looking Out"). Other sides among the bonus material are yet even more raw and more undeveloped than those in the main program, with future Big Brother & the Holding Company singer Kathi McDonald taking lead vocals on Thee Unusuals' "I Could Go On." [AMG]

“With Love: A Pot Of Flowers” was originally issued in late 1967 by Mainstream Records. It is testament to the quality of the groups and songs included, not to mention the A&R proclivities of Mainstream head honcho Bob Shad – as irascibly indefatigable as anyone you might choose in the hothouse atmosphere of the independent record business of that era – that the album plays so well and, if you’ll pardon the pun, really grows on you. That in hindsight it also plucked four bands from within the vortex of 1966 nascent psychedelia and places them in a historically fascinating context, is equally remarkable. This expanded version of “A Pot Of Flowers” includes additional material by other relevant groups released on Brent or Mainstream from 1965 to 1967, as well as the mono single mixes of selected tracks from the album and some unreleased cuts.

The collection was amongst the first of a swathe of rock albums that Mainstream issued towards the end of the 1960s, the result of a remarkable A&R odyssey conducted by Shad across the United States, in much the same fashion as the location recording expeditions the producer had made to the south in the late 1940s in search of blues and R&B acts. Whether by luck or design, Shad decided to make one of his first ports of call San Francisco, which in early 1966 was well into the honeymoon period of its own socio-cultural renaissance, with the entire Bay Area awash with rock’n’rollers of all shapes and sizes. 

As our extensive liner note details, he had initially issued several unsuccessful singles by Bay Area groups on both Mainstream and Brent, but by subsequently collecting the best of these together on “A Pot Of Flowers” he unwittingly created one of the more satisfying surveys of the scene at the time. The acts in question were the Wildflower, pioneering folk-rockers who were an early fixture at the Fillmore and Avalon; San Jose’s popular garage band the Otherside; legendary East Bay punks the Harbinger Complex; and, from southern California via Texas, the idiosyncratic Euphoria, whose pathfinding, off-beat take on psychedelia has given the group a cult reputation. 

The bonus material included on this Big Beat reissue doubles the track list of “A Pot Of Flowers” y adding appropriate folk-rock and proto-psych sides from other West Coast acts on Mainstream such as the New Dawn, the Word, the Ariel and Thee Unusuals, the latter a Northwest group featuring blue-eyed chanteuse Kathi McDonald, who would later to take Janis’ spot in Big Brother & the Holding Company (who were also signed by Bob Shad during his California sorties). We are also proud to include several stellar unissued garage rockers from the Ban and the Montells, as well as the original mono singles mixes of selected tunes. 

Mainstream has a particular cachet with aficionados of late 1960s psych, and thanks to assiduous research conducted in the label’s vaults, we are proud to announce an exhaustive Mainstream pop-psych anthology forthcoming on Big Beat. Stay tuned. [Ace Records]

Album Tracks 1967:
01. The Wildflower - Baby Dear   02:21 
02. The Wildflower - Wind Dream   02:16 
03. Euphoria - Hungry Women   03:18 
04. The Other Side - Streetcar   02:17 
05. The Wildflower - Coffee Cup   02:16 
06. The Harbinger Complex - I Think I'm Down   02:24 
07. The Wildflower - Jump In   02:45 
08. The Other Side - Walking Down the Road   02:21 
09. The Harbinger Complex - When You Know You're in Love   02:11 
10. Euphoria - No Me Tomorrow   03:09 
11. The Harbinger Complex - Time to Kill   02:08 
12. The Harbinger Complex - My Dear and Kind Sir   02:24
Bonus Tracks:     
13. The New Dawn - Slave of Desire   02:31 
14. The Word - Now It's Over   02:45 
15. The Ban - Thinking of Your Fate   02:16 
16. The Montells - I'm Lonely   02:54 
17. Thee Unusuals - I Could Go On   02:01 
18. The Ban - Bye Bye   02:48 
19. The Ariel - It Feels Like I'm Crying   02:02 
20. The Word - So Little Time   02:40 
21. The Montells - You're Wrong to Think It   01:52 
22. The Ban - Place of Sin   02:38 
23. The Wildflower - Wind Dream (Mono Single Version)   02:16 
24. The Other Side - Streetcar (Mono Single Version)   02:19 
25. Euphoria - Hungry Women (Mono Single Version)   03:01 
26. The Harbinger Complex - I Think I'm Down (Mono Single Version)   02:26 


Early Moods - Early Moods (Great Heavy Hardrock US 2022)

Size: 139 MB
Bitrate: 320
Ripped by: ChrisGoesRock
Some Artwork Included

The self-titled full length debut of Los Angeles quintet Early Moods is a marriage of classic underground doom like Candlemass, Witchfinder General, Pentagram, Trouble and Saint Vitus, paired with traditional “big box” Heavy Metal melodies and song structure. These two contrasting aesthetics may seem incongruous, but the skilled musicianship of Early Moods — some of whom have played music together since their early teens — manages to find the perfect balance between grit and gloss.

“From the beginning, the purpose for this band was to incorporate our love of traditional doom metal with a heavy metal approach,” guitarist Eddie Andrade says. “We wanted to show that heavy doom can be complemented with melodies and harmonies. Black Sabbath meets NWOBHM is what we aim for, really.”

The band was founded in 2015 by Andrade and vocalist/keyboardist Alberto Alcaraz after a few years of playing in thrash and death metal projects before the two realized that the classic doom that they’d grown up with was what they really wanted to explore. Going through a few lineup changes while delving deeper into the diverging influences that were calling, Early Moods arrived at the sound and lineup that grew their fanbase locally. The band soon captured the attention of German label Dying Victim Productions, who released their debut EP, Spellbound in 2020. Early Moods is Oscar Hernandez on lead guitar, Chris Flores on drums, Elix Felciano on bass, Alcaraz on vocals/synth and Andrade on guitar.

Early Moods was recorded at 7th Street Studios in downtown L.A. by Carlos Cruz (Warbringer, Chris Poland, Power Trip) from October to December of 2021. It was mixed by Allen Falcon of Birdcage Studios and mastered by Brad Boatright of Audio Siege who has worked with bands like Sleep, Obituary, and High On Fire.

The album opens with a slow fade of ringing feedback that builds into the main motif, an infectious trilling Iommi-esque guitar line of “Return To Salem’s Gate” that turns on a dime into a double time gallop and just as quickly back again, all the while building subtle harmonies of vocals and guitars. “Live To Suffer” nods to the swinging denim doom of Trouble while “Funeral Rites” takes a more grunge leaning tack with syrupy guitars and Pentagram style narrative structure. The band’s namesake song “Early Moods” begins as an eerie ballad with chorus-soaked guitars playing a sinister riff that slowly grows as Alcaraz sings of tortured souls. Then suddenly it all breaks into a chugging charge with a gloriously simple but effective hammer-on melodic guitar line that soon transforms into a scorching lead. Throughout, the band deftly shows its skill with refined prowess. 

The first thing that came to my mind when I listened to Early Moods was: “Fashion changes, but style endures”.

I know that a quote by Coco Chanel is one of the most unlikely opening lines you expect to read in a traditional doom metal album review, but I cannot find a better way to express my conviction that, despite all the evolution and the branching out of metal in the last 50+ years, the back-to-basics style will always be a winner, but only when done rightly and respectfully.

Early Moods have not reinvented the wheel. Au contraire, they are using a formula that has been done time and time again. They take the trad riffs and the groovy rhythms of bands like Black Sabbath, Pentagram, Witchfinder General, and Trouble, they spice it up with some Iron Maiden and Angel Witch melodies, they have a darker Sean Harris (Diamond Head) to sing on top, and the end product, leaning more to the doom metal side rather than the heavy metal one, is irresistible. You cannot go wrong if you go classic, provided that the style is not the only thing that is right on the money. The songs have to be worthy of that classic sound, too.

From the upbeat opener “Return To Salem’s Gate” to the epic closer “Funeral Macabre”, the band puts down quality riff after quality riff and gripping solo after gripping solo. The guitars are lightly fuzzy and the vocals have some reverb, so that the album showcases a little bit of a stoner-y character, but not too much, thankfully. The song “Early Moods” is a highlight, following the Black Sabbath paradigm of having the same band name, song title, and debut album title, but my personal favourite is “Damnation”; it sounds as if Alice In Chains are doing an alternate take of the main riff of Metallica’s “Sad But True”, and it has a magnificent solo.

Everything about this release is cool: the black and white band photo, the actual look of the band members (check out the vocalist’s afro), the ‘70s-style logo, but, most importantly, the music. I am a sucker for this type of doom metal, but I am also very difficult to convince because the best of this has already been done, in my opinion. This is why most bands that just go for the retro sound, without the songwriting chops and the musicianship to justify the throwback, end up in my trash bin. Early Moods’ debut will end up in my year-end list instead.

01. Return To Salem's Gate
02. Live To Suffer
03. Early Moods
04. Defy Thy Name
05. Memento Mori
06. Last Rites
07. Curse The Light
08. Damnation
09. Funeral Macabre


Love Gang - Meanstreak (Very Good Hardrock in Early 70´s Vein US 2022)

Size: 94,4 MB
Bitrate: 320
Ripped by: ChrisGoesRock
Artwork Included

Love Gang’s newest album ‘Meanstreak,’ out via Heavy Psych Sounds was done full analog to tape and captured a pure raw sound.

Love Gang is a rock ‘n’ roll band based out of Denver, Colorado. Formed in 2015, Love Gang is a throwback to the golden days of rock ‘n’ roll when the amps were loud, the hair was long and the drugs were cheap. Influenced by the obscure and underground rock of the 70s, they manage to keep their sound classic and true while also creating original, compelling songs that don’t grow tired or sound as if you’ve heard it all before. Love Gang likes to play fast, high energy songs full of driving blues boogie, wailing psychedelic guitar solos and crunchy Hammond organ.

Love Gang’s newest album ‘Meanstreak’ was recorded in Austin, TX by Gian Ortiz at his home studio. The recordings were done full analog to tape. The album’s lyrical content involves relevant topics in the band’s life ranging from women, political unrest in the U.S., depression, drugs, motorcycles, and wild nights in Juarez, Mexico.

How’s it going guys? You’re full of news. We recently premiered your track ‘Blinded By Fear,’ from your latest album out in January on Heavy Psych Sounds. Tell us how long you worked on your latest album?

Kam Wentworth: It didn’t take long to record the album. The whole album was tracked in five days in Austin, TX with Gian Ortiz of Amplified Heat in March of 2021. However, it did take us a while to find a label to press and release the record, so we’re excited it’s finally out with Heavy Psych Sounds!

Would you like to talk a bit about your background?

We all met playing music in the Denver music scene and going to shows. I grew up here in Colorado, Shaun is from New Jersey, Leo from Juárez, Mexico and Conner from Kansas City, Missouri. We formed the band sometime around 2015, jamming at Shaun’s house on Colfax Ave.

Were you in any other bands previously?

The first band that I played with was Chicago proto-metal legends, Medusa. They had just reformed in Colorado as original members, Gary and Donna Brown, were living in Broomfield, CO and had just released their album ‘First Step Beyond’ via Numero Group, with the original, unheard recordings from the 70’s.

Leo and I met hanging out at shows in Denver. We hit it off and shared musical influences and that’s when we decided to start a band.

I met Shaun playing a gig with his other band, The Munsens. Shaun was playing drums for The Munsens and when Love Gang formed and we needed a drummer, my first thought was to ask Shaun.

Our new bass player, Conner Murphy, joined the band recently and before that played in The Gorlons in Kansas City, MS with his brother Ross.

What kind of instruments, pedals and gear did you use for your latest album?

I play a 70’s Burny Les Paul copy through a Tube Screamer and a ‘79 Marshall Club & Country JMP 4140 that’s been heavily modified by my good friend Justin Kelly. The amp was originally a combo amp that’s been chopped and rebuilt to the same specs as a 2203 JMP and also a Super Lead on the other channel. We recorded on Amplified Heat’s vintage Marshall’s to get our tone for the album.

Leo plays a Korg CX-3 through a Fender Bassman and a Leslie pedal normally. For the album, Leo used a Hammond M3 straight into a Marshall to get a more aggressive tone in the style of Jon Lord or Ken Hensley. Conner plays a Fender P-Bass through a 70’s Acoustic 370/371 amp and cab.
Shaun Goodwin plays on a 4 piece Pearl set with Zildjian cymbals. 22” kick, 14” and 16” toms.

Can you share some further details on how your latest album, ‘Meanstreak’ was recorded?

It was recorded all analog to tape at Gian’s home studio. It was a great environment to record because we were able to capture a more natural sound, as if we were jamming at our rehearsal space… amps cranked and everyone playing all together. Also, staying at his house for the recording session added to the experience as well. We basically lived and breathed the album, recording all day and sometimes late into the evening. When the session was done for the day we’d make sure to go celebrate at the bar.

How pleased were you with the sound of the album?

Very pleased! I think this new album sounds better than any of our previous recordings and I believe Gian helped push us to get better performances of our songs. You need someone there that’s not afraid to tell you to play it better.

♦ Kam Wentworth – Guitar/Vocals
♦ Leo Muñoz – Organ
♦ Shaun Goodwin – Drums
♦ Conner Murphy – Bass

01. Deathride  04:41
02. Meanstreak   04:21
03. Bad News  04:02
04. Blinded By Fear  04:33
05. Shake This Feelin'  03:40
06. Headed Down To Mexico  06:15
07. Same Ol' Blues  03:11
08. Fly Away  05:31