Friday, November 17, 2017

The Litter - Emerge (1969 us, superb garage psych pre stoner rock, 2009 edition)

In 1968 Electra Records made an offer to sign the group after their performance at the famed Cheetah Club in LA. with "Genesis" and "The Iron Butterfly".

In August 1968 "The Litter" recorded 7 songs live at The Electric Theatre for the movie "Medium Cool".  The band was paid $500 for the days shooting, but when the movie was released to theatres the scenes of "The Litter" on stage were intact but the soundtrack was Frank Zappa.

In 1969 The Electric Theatre in Chicago held a contest to see which band was louder, "The Litter", or "Blue Cheer".  "The Litter" won hands down.

ABC Probe Records signed "The Litter" sight unseen to a recording contract and the album Emerge - The Litter was recorded in Michigan.  Although the record was charting in Billboard and the group was touring the U.S. with acts like "The Who", unavailability of their albums due to distribution problems, plagued the group everywhere they appeared.

The album Emerge - The Litter is the only album by the group to chart in Billboard magazine, also was #1 in Puerto Rico and successful as well in the European market.

The single Silly People (flip side Feeling) from the album Emerge - The Litter was picked as a Special Merit Spotlight in Billboard magazine, but was banned from airplay by some radio stations because of the lyrics.

Dan Rinaldi is the only member of "The Litter" to have played in and recorded with all 12 versions of the band.
1. Journeys (Mark Gallagher, Ray Melina) - 2:14
2. Feeling (Jim Kane, Mark Gallagher, Tom Murray) - 2:50
3. Silly People (Jim Kane, Mark Gallagher, Ray Melina, Tom Murray) - 3:31
4. Blue Ice (Jim Kane, Tom Murray) - 3:10
5. For What It's Worth (Stephen Stills) - 5:21
6. Little Red Book (Burt Bacharach, Hal David) - 3:30
7. Breakfast At Gardenson's (Ray Melina) - 3:02
8. Future Of The Past (Jim Kane) - 12:37
9. On Our Minds (Mark Gallagher, Sean Jones) - 2:15

The Litter
*Jim Kane - Bass, Fuzz Bass, Special Effects
*Tom Murray - Drums, Percussion
*Dan Rinaldi - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
*Ray Melina - Lead Electric, Acoustic Guitars, Vocals
*Mark Gallagher - Lead Vocals

1966-68  The Litter - Distortions / Live At The Electric Theatre 
1968  The Litter - One Hundred Dollar Fine
Related Act
1968-71  Lightning - Lightning

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Litter - Distortions / Live At The Electric Theatre (1966-68 us, stunning garage beat)

The Litter were one of the few garage bands to invest enough energy and imagination into their interpretations to make a cover-heavy LP worth hearing. "Action Woman" is here, and they go about tackling, and sometimes dismantling, numbers like the Small Faces' "Whatcha Gonna Do About It" and the Who's "A Legal Matter" (both of which were barely known in the U.S. at this point, incidentally). 

"I'm a Man," though based on the Yardbirds' version, gets into some pretty incredible feedback/distortion swirls in the closing rave-up section. Distortions has been reissued a few times, but the 1999 CD on Arf! Arf! is the one to get, as it includes two outtakes ("Hey Joe" and the 25-second, hardly worth noting "Harpsichord Sonata #1") and seven songs, mostly previously unreleased, recorded live at Chicago's Electric Theatre in August 1968. This was the music that the band played while filming a scene in Haskell Wexler's film Medium Cool (although none of the music was used in the movie), and it's in a heavier, bluesier hard rock direction than their 1967 recordings, but still retains some of the punky spirit of the Distortions era. 
by Richie Unterberger
1. Action Woman (Warren Kendrick) - 2:32
2. What'cha Gonna Do About It? (Brian Potter, Ian Samwell) - 2:27
3. Codine (Buffy Sainte-Marie) - 4:30
4. Somebody Help Me (Jackie Edwards) - 1:55
5. Substitute (Pete Townshend) - 2:36
6. The Mummy (Tom "Zippy" Caplan, B. Bomberg) - 1:25
7. I'm So Glad (Skip James) - 3:47
8. A Legal Matter (Pete Townshend) - 2:47
9. Rack My Mind (Jeff Beck, Chris Dreja, Paul Samwell-Smith) - 3:41
10.Soul Searchin' (Warren Kendrick) - 2:47
11.I'm a Man (Doc Pomus, Mort Shuman) - 4:00
12.Hey Joe  (Billy Roberts) - 4:08
13.Harpsichord Sonata #1 - 0:25
14.Here I Go Again - 2:37
15.The Egyptian - 2:52
16.(Under the Screaming Double) Eagle (Tom "Zippy" Caplan, Denny Waite, Woody Woodrich) - 3:01
17.Confessions (Of a Traveler Through Time) (Larry Loofbourrow) - 2:23
18.Blues One (Tom "Zippy" Caplan, Denny Waite) - 4:03
19.She's Not There (Rod Argent) - 7:53
20.Pegasus - 3:19
Tracks 14-20 Live At The Electric Theatre, 18th August 1968

The Litter
*Denny Waite - Vocal, Keyboard
*Tom "Zippy" Caplan - Lead Guitar
*Dan Rinaldi - Rhythm Guitar
*James Worthington Kane - Bass
*Tom Murray - Drums
*Bill Strandlof - Lead Guitar
*James Worthington Kane - Organ, Vocals

1968  The Litter - One Hundred Dollar Fine
Related Act
1968-71  Lightning - Lightning

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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Maria Muldaur - Maria Muldaur (1973 us, charming mixture of folk country jazz and blues)

From the sweet to the salacious to the poignant, Maria Muldaur's eponymous, strong debut features savvy studio vets, talented guests, strong tunes, and Muldaur's lissome pipes. The outstanding players include Ry Cooder, David Grisman, Clarence White, and Mac Rebennack, better known as Dr. John. A tasteful guitar solo by the underrated Amos Garrett elevates the charming surprise hit single "Midnight at the Oasis." Although she later gravitated to jazz and gospel, Muldaur's first outing is heavy on songs derived from country and blues. A rousing "Work Song," borrowed from Kate & Anna McGarrigle, is only one of several highlights. 
by Mark Allan
1. Any Old Time (Jimmie Rodgers) - 03:45
2. Midnight At The Oasis (David Nichtern) - 03:49
3. My Tennesse Mountain Home (Dolly Parton) - 03:32
4. I Never Did Sing You A Love Song (David Nichtern) - 02:49
5. The Work Song (Kate McGarrigle) - 04:04
6. Don't You Make Me High (Don't You Feel My Leg) (Blue Lu Barker, Danny Barker, J. Mayo Williams) - 02:48
7. Walkin' One And Only (Dan Hicks) - 02:47
8. Long Hard Climb (Ron Davies) - 03:03
9. Three Dollar Bill (Mac Rebennack) - 03:58
10.Vaudeville Man (Wendy Waldman) - 02:41
11.Mad Mad Me (Wendy Waldman) - 03:13

*Maria Muldaur - Vocals
*Clarence White - Acoustic Guitar
*Bill Keith - Banjo
*Ry Cooder - Acoustic Guitar
*David Lindley - Hawaiian Guitar
*Andrew Gold - Acoustic Guitar
*David Nichtern – Acoustic, Electric Guitar
*David Grisman - Mandolin
*Dr. John – Keyboards, Horn Arrangements
*Jim Dickinson - Piano
*Mark T. Jordan - Piano
*Spooner Oldham - Piano
*Greg Prestopino - Piano
*James Gordon - Organ
*Chris Ethridge - Bass
*Klaus Voormann - Bass
*Ray Brown - Bass
*Dave Holland - Bowed Bass
*Jimmy Calhoun - Bass
*Tommy Mcclure - Bass
*Freebo - Bass
*Amos Garrett - Bass, Guitar, Vocals, Guitar Solo
*Jim Keltner - Drums
*Ed Shaughnessy - Drums
*John Boudreaux - Drums
*Jim Gordon - Drums
*Chris Parker - Drums
*Jerry Jumonville - Alto Horn, Horn Arrangements
*Artie Butler - Alto Horn, Horn Arrangements
*Nick Decaro - Accordion, String Arrangements
*Richard Greene - Violin
*Larry Packer - Violin, Viola
*Karen Alexander -  Vocals
*Gloria Jones -  Vocals
*Ellen Kearney -  Vocals
*Bettye Lavette -  Vocals
*Jessica Smith -  Vocals
*Beryl Marriott - Violin

1967  Geoff And Maria Muldaur - Pottery Pie
Related Acts
1972  Nick Gravenites And Mike Bloomfield - Steel Yard Blues (2015 remaster)
1979  Geoff Muldaur And Amos Garrett - Live In Japan

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Sunday, November 12, 2017

Geoff And Maria Muldaur - Pottery Pie (1967 us, remarkable blues folk rock)

One of just two albums to be released by the easier-going American equivalent of Richard & Linda Thompson (without the brooding gloom and biting irony), this set includes some virtuoso folk-blues performances, as well as the version of "Brazil" made famous in Terry Gilliam's movie of the same name. Though the ten tunes here are all covers, Geoff & Maria Muldaur treat each as if molded from clay of their own making, just as they had old traditional numbers as members of the Jim Kweskin Jug Band. 

It's probably no coincidence that this album would eventually find its way to Joe Boyd's Hannibal label. It's a collection that suggests the Richard & Linda Thompson albums he would release throughout the '70s. Although it's often difficult to find, many fans will find Pottery Pie more than worth the money and effort. 
by Brian Beatty
1. Catch It (Eric Von Schmidt) - 3:20
2. I'll Be Your Baby Tonight (Bob Dylan) - 3:57
3. New Orleans Hopscop Blues (George Thomas) - 2:46
4. Trials, Troubles, Tribulations (Traditional) - 4:47
5. Prairie Lullaby (Billy Hill) - 4:51
6. Guide Me, O Great Jehovah (Traditional) - 1:39
7. Me and My Chauffeur Blues (Memphis Minnie) - 6:25
8. Brazil (Ary Barroso, Bob Russell) - 3:31
9. Georgia On My Mind (Hoagy Carmichael, Stuart Gorrell) - 3:44
10.Death Letter Blues (Son House) - 6:14

*Geoff Muldaur - Guitar, Keyboards, Piano, Vocals
*Maria Muldaur - Vocals
*Peter Ecklund - Trumpet, Whistle
*Amos Garrett - Guitar
*Hal Grossman - Horn
*Bill Keith - Steel Guitar, Pedal Steel
*Rick Marcus - Drums
*Billy Mundi - Drums
*Betsy Siggins - Vocals
*Bill Wolf - Bass

Related Acts
1972  Nick Gravenites And Mike Bloomfield - Steel Yard Blues (2015 remaster) 
1979  Geoff Muldaur And Amos Garrett - Live In Japan 

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Saturday, November 11, 2017

Paladin - Charge! (1972 uk, tremendous crossover prog rock, 2007 extra tracks remaster)

Having failed to ignite the populace with their eponymous debut, a set brimming with joie de vivre and creative crossovers, Paladin decided the only way to break into the mainstream was to assault it. And this they set about doing with their sophomore set, 1972's Charge. Far heavier than their previous set, the quintet seemed determined to beat listeners into submission. That's evident from the get go, as they bash their way through the opening track "Give Me Your Hand," a rhythm-heavy number fueled by fiery guitar solos, strident vocals, and a hard rocking sound. The only reminder of their previous musical predilections is the Latin percussion that bubbles up halfway through the piece. But then this is much more a hard rock album, with Derek Foley's guitar now given far more prominence while the vocals stray into Robert Plant territory, and the organ is invariably set towards psychedelia. 

This inevitably constricts their musical experimentations, yet the band still take some interesting excursions along the way. "Good Lord," for instance, encompasses Latin rhythms, a Southern rock segment, space rock passages, and even pop. "Watching the World Pass By" is even more diverse, kicking off in an easygoing fashion with a jaunty harmonica solo, then running into discordance, a majestic church organ, bouncy blues, a country hoedown, and a jig before a ferocious guitar solo takes the piece out in hard rock style. The Beatles get a nod on "Any Way," funk goes psychedelic on "Get One Together," and the roots of rock are explored on the barrelling "Well We Might," with the rest of the set dedicated to R&B laced rock. Yet somehow it all sounds a bit forced and heavy-handed. Still it's a hard rocking extravaganza. 

The Roger Dean cover art inevitably excited interest, the band's new hard rock approach garnered them more praise, but not enough to prevent them from calling it a day. In later years, Charge's reputation among prog rock fans soared, more so than their far superior self-titled set. [Esoteric wisely reissued both, with Charge buttressed further by five bonus tracks. Three are alternate takes of songs from the set, the other two instrumental versions of Paladin numbers.]
by Jo-Ann Greene
1. Give Me Your Hand - 6:50
2. Well We Might - 5:05
3. Get One Together (Keith Webb) - 2:38
4. Anyway - 4:20
5. Good Lord (Derek Foley, Lou Stonebridge, Peter Beckett) - 6:47
6. Mix Your Mind With The Moonbeams - 6:03
7. Watching The World Pass By (Lou Stonebridge) - 9:38
8. Give My Love To You (Derek Foley, Keith Webb) - 2:31
9. Sweet Sweet Music - 2:48
10.Anyway (Alternate Version) - 4:19
11.Sweet Sweet Music (Alternate Version) - 2:48
12.Well We Might (Alternate Version) - 6:10
13.Fill Up Your Heart (Instrumental) - 5:43
14.Bad Times (Instrumental) - 7:14
All songs by Peter Solley except where indicated
Bonus Tracks 8-14

The Paladin
*Lou Stonebridge - Vocals, Electric Piano, Harmonica
*Peter Solley - Organ, Violin, Grand Piano
*Keith Webb - Drums, Percussion
*Derek Foley - Lead Guitar, Slide Guitar, Vocals
*Pete Beckett - Bass, Vocals

1971  Paladin - Paladin (2007 remaster) 
Related Acts
1966-69  Terry Reid - Superlungs / The Complete Studio Recordings (two disc set)
1967  Donovan - A Gift From A Flower To A Garden (2008 remaster)
1967-69  Ruperts People - Magic World Of Rupert's People (2001 Circle limited edition)
1970  Philamore Lincoln - The North Wind Blew South (2010 remastered edition)
1972  Bond And Brown - Two Heads Are Better Than One (2009 remaster)

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Thursday, November 9, 2017

Glencoe - Glencoe (1972 uk, magnificent prog rock, 2013 korean remaster)

Having recorded two albums under the Forever More nameplate, in 1971 the four principals (drummer Stuart Francis, bassist Alan Gorrie, and guitarists Onnie McIntyre and Mick Strode, decided to reinvent themselves as Glencoe.

Before the band could record anything Gorrie and McIntyre bailed, reappearing in The Average White Band.  Francis and Strode quickly recruited keyboard player Graham Maitland and bassist Norman Watt-Roy.  The quartet hit the road touring the English club and college circuit, but in early 1972 Strode quit.  He was replaced by guitarist John Turnbull, whose resume included time with The Chosen Few, ARC, and Skip Biffery.

The band were quickly signed by Epic, with Columbia signing them to it's newly establish Grand Western Gramaphone subsidiary.  In an unusual move, the band were allowed to produce their own debut.  Released in 1972, "Glencoe" stands as one of those albums that makes you wonder how these guys escaped wider attention.  With Maitland and Turnbull responsible for the majority of  material, the set featured a likeable mixture that crossed country-rock ('Lifeline'), pop, and progressive moves (frequently within the same song).  Tracks like 'Airport', 'Lifeline' and 'Look Me In the Eye' were smooth and highly melodic and that may have spelled their demise.   With so many talented early-'70s bands out there, these guys were too mainstream for hard rock fans.  They were also too rock oriented for country-rock fans, and too bright and commercial for progressive fans.  Maybe not the most album of 1972, but thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish.

In support of the album, Epic put them on the road opening for Deep Purple, but that did little for sales. 
1. Airport (Graham Maitland, Reed) - 5:04
2. Look Me In The Eye (Graham Maitland, Reed) - 4:15
3. Lifeline (Graham Maitland, Reed) - 5:45
4. Telephonia (John Turnbull) - 5:02
5. It's (John Turnbull) - 5:40
6. Book Me For The Flight (Graham Maitland) - 5:26
7. Hay Fever (John Turnbull) - 4:44
8. Questions (Graham Maitland) - 3:24
9. Sinking Down A Well (John Turnbull, Micky Gallagher) - 5:00

The Glencoe
*Stuart Francis - Drums, Vocals
*Graham Maitland - Keyboards, Vocals
*John Turnbull - Guitar, Vocals
*Norman Watt-Roy - Bass, Vocals

Related Acts
1965-69  Les Fleur De Lys - Reflections
1966-69  Skip Bifferty - The Story of Skip Bifferty (double disc edition) 
1970  Forever More ‎- Yours / Words On Black Plastic (2007 remaster)
1970  The Greatest Show On Earth - Horizons (2012 remaster) 
1970  The Greatest Show On Earth - The Going's Easy (2012 remaster)
1970  Five Day Rain - Five Day Rain (2006 remaster bonus track issue) 
1971  Bell And Arc - Bell + Arc 

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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Genya Ravan - Genya Ravan (1971 us, great soulful funky blues rock, Vinyl edition)

Genya Ravan is an important rock & roll personality and influential vocalist and record producer, born Genya Zelkowitz on April 19, 1945, in Lodz, Poland. Her mom later changed her name to Goldie Zelkowitz, Ravan taking her birth name back when she formed the band Ten Wheel Drive. When her parents left Poland, they went into a Russian camp. The singer kindly gave personal details of her youth to AMG on April 4, 2002: "We lost everyone. I never had an aunt or an uncle, I had two brothers, they died. I never met my grandparents, it was me and my sister and my mom and dad. They came from big families and saw all of them die. We escaped to the U.S. via a ship. We were DPs and went straight to Ellis Island."

Young Goldie Zelkowitz never knew she could sing until in her late teens "then I picked up alto sax, drums, and harmonica." In the summer of 1962, she asked to sing with the Escorts (not Felix Cavaliere's band from Syracuse University nor the '50s group or U.K. band of the same name) who were performing at the Lollipop Lounge in Brooklyn, NY. She remembers it was the summer because: "I had pants that showed my belly button, they could not get their eyes off it." Soon, she was rehearsing with the band and became the first girlfriend of Richard Perry, bass vocalist in the group and the man who would go on to produce Ringo Starr, Carly Simon, Leo Sayer, the Pointer Sisters, and so many others. The band recorded and released a few singles on Coral Records in 1962 and 1963: "Somewhere" b/w "Submarine Race Watching," "I Can't Be Free" b/w "One Hand, One Heart," and "Something Has Changed Him" b/w "Back Home Again."

After she left the Escorts, Zelkowitz formed Goldie & the Gingerbreads, an original all-female band that was only the first of many firsts for Zelkowitz. All girls in a man's music world was as daunting a task as a woman trying to become president of the United States. Petula Clark, Lulu, Cilla Black, Skeeter Davis, and Kitty Wells simply did not have a crew of women backing them up. Where the Go-Go's became a bit of a novelty years later, the people who came before that hit '80s band, Goldie & the Gingerbreads, Fanny, and later, Isis, all had a harder edge and would have done more for the cause's credibility had they had the hit singles to go along with their critical acclaim. 

Genya Ravan released an album a year starting in 1969 with Ten Wheel Drive's Construction #1 on Polydor, up to the 1974 release of Goldie Zelkowitz on Janus, but created her most popular recordings on 20th Century Fox in 1978 and 1979 when she released the self-produced ...And I Mean It / Urban Desire one-two punch. Genya Ravan, her first solo disc which Columbia released after she left Ten Wheel Drive, was the catalyst for Ravan producing herself. Perhaps the most shocking thing about the record is that it is the only one she recorded for Columbia, a place that seemed like the perfect home for a woman with so many talents. Clive Davis originally wanted Richard Perry to produce, and it wasn't the fact that he was Ravan's first boyfriend that the idea was nixed, his pop work with Carly Simon was not what this artist is about. Larry Fallon former partner of producer Jimmy Miller and the guy behind "Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)"for The Looking Glass (he had also put strings on an unreleased version of "Wild Horses" for Jimmy Miller and the Rolling Stones ) was brought in. But "Brandy" was more pop than "You're So Vain" if you think about it.

To feel comfortable, Ravan asked for, and got, her original partners in Ten Wheel Drive, Aram Schefrin, and Michael Zager, and with the band Baby behind her, Goldie Zelkowitz made the first album of her career beyond Goldie & the Gingerbreads and Ten Wheel Drive. It is a pure document of her transition. This is the shift between the sounds of Ten Wheel Drive and what would follow on 1973's They Love Me, They Love Me Not and 1974's Goldie Zelkowitz. She takes Rod Stewart and the Faces superb and little recognized "Flying" and makes it her own, a tune she would continue to perform live in concert. Stephen Stills' "Sit Yourself Down" gets a total reworking, just as Gabriel Mekler would revamp Whipping Post with her in 1974, when Ten Wheel Drive was re-forming with Annie Sutton. It is an amazing thread of events, with players from both the Rolling Stones and Janis Joplin filtering through her recorded work, and where this album could have been Columbia Records replacing Janis Joplin with Genya Ravan, the singer opted to take her music into a realm where Diane Schuur would feel at home, rock influenced by jazz rather than high-powered blues rock. Indeed, the final track on side one, "Takuta Kalaba," is blended into "Turn on Your Love Lights," a song Janis Joplin did with the Grateful Dead if memory serves on one of the live tapes of theirs that has circulated over the years, so there was this thread, though the result is 180 degrees from where Joplin took it. Genya Ravan did not want to fill the Janis Joplin void for Mr. Davis -- she wanted to be herself. 

Clive told her, "You are either a rock singer or you're a jazz singer, but you cannot do both," and maybe for short-term marketing he had a point, but for longevity and vision, the Larry Fallon-produced "I'm in the Mood For Love" is exquisite. Fallon had come from a jazz band with Jimmy Miller, who coincidentally produced Genya Ravan's next album for his production company, released on ABC Dunhill. James Moody's saxophone solo is thrilling, and a real touch of class. The cabaret atmosphere seguing into the African drum sound of Michael Olatunji and his "Takuta Kalaba," which was released as a single in Europe. Brilliant material which would certainly stifle the Janis Joplin comparisons. The soulful rendition of Leonard Cohen's "Bird on a Wire" was tracked long before Cohen was considered chic. Columbia released "What Kind of Man Are You" from this album on a 45 rpm with the non-LP A side of "Morning Glory," written by Michael Holmes, and produced by he and Dixon Van Winkle, making for five producers during these sessions! 

The single was the idea of Clive Davis, and it is beautiful, the style of music that Bette Midler was having success with at this point in time. Midler eventually covered Genya Ravan's "Stay With Me" for The Rose film and soundtrack, bringing things full circle. Genya Ravan is an album brimming with this creative woman's personality, talent, and amazing vocal prowess. "Morning Glory" should eventually find itself on a Sony/Legacy re-release of Genya Ravan, important music that is continuously contemporary because of the long-range vision of the artist. 
by Joe Viglione
1. What Kind Of Man Are You (Ray Charles) - 3:26
2. Sit Yourself Down (Stephen Stills) - 2:32
3. I Hate Myself (Doc Pomus, Ken Hirsch) - 4:59
4. I'm In The Mood For Love (Jimmy McHugh, Dorothy Fields) - 3:50
5. Takuta Kalaba Turn On Your Love Lights (Babatunde Olatunji, Deadric Malone, Joseph Scott) - 6:25
6. Lonely, Lonely (Aram Schefrin, Michael Zager) - 3:45
7. Flying (Rod Stewart, Ron Wood, Ronnie Lane) - 6:00
8. Every Little Bit Hurts (Ed Cobb) - 3:37
9. Bird On The Wire (Leonard Cohen) - 4:49
10.I Can't Stand It (Smokey McAllister) - 3:18

*Genya Ravan - Harmonica, Percussion, Vocals
*Peter Hodgson - Bass
*Bian Keenan - Drums
*Mitch Styles - Guitar
*John Platania - Guitar
*Nick Oliva - Keyboards
*Bernard Williams - Percussion
*Arnie Lawrence - Saxophone
*James Moody - Saxophone
*Michael Olatunji - African Drums 

1969-71  Ten Wheel Drive With Genya Ravan - The Best Of 

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Monday, November 6, 2017

Sweet Salvation - Sweet Salvation (1972 us, solid funk blues rock, 2009 edition)

Led by long-established New Orleans musicians drummer "Big John" John Thomassie, keyboard player Wayne DeVillier and guitarist Don Normand, Sweet Salvation could have been one of the all-time great r&b/funk/rock/gospel bands. Unfortunately due to business mis-steps and bad timing it was not meant to be. Also featuring 2 great women singers, DeEtta Little and Fritz Basket, and Alex Smith on bass, Sweet Salvation covered ground that includes New Orleans second line, blues, r&b, rock and 70's funk. They were very much connected to Allen Toussaint and the Meters, but maybe heavier in sound and style, closer to rock.

"Sweet Salvation" features 2 great cover tracks, very elaborate and creative arrangements of Randy Newman's "Sail Away" and Aretha Franklin's "Rock Steady". "Sweet Salvation" also delivers some first-rate original tunes in what could have led to a powerful and unique style. It's great to hear rock-solid r & b and second line grooves combined with Devillier's brilliant and virtuosic piano playing, which is beautifully recorded (loud and thick sounding, not too bright) and is the backbone of the band's sound. 
by Adam Holzman
1. Do A Number (Fritz Basket) - 3:35
2. Ain't Nobody's Fault But Your Own (Wayne DeVillier) - 4:18
3. I Just Find Myself Falling (John Vinidigni, Wayne DeVillier) - 3:28
4. Who's A Blue (Fritz Basket, Wayne DeVillier) - 3:52
5. Sail Away (Randy Newman) - 5:31
6. Carry Me Home (Wayne DeVillier) - 1:58
7. Have You Ever Had The Blues (Bill Jennings, Harold Logan, Lloyd Price) - 2:22
8. Stick With Me (John Vinidigni, Wayne DeVillier) - 2:49
9. Keep On Pushin' (Wayne DeVillier) - 2:50
10.Rock Steady (Aretha Franklin) - 8:21

The Sweet Salvation
*Wayne DeVillier - Keyboards, Vocals 
*John Evans Thomassie - Drums, Vocals
*Don Normand - Guitar
*Alexander Smith jr - Bass 
*Deetta Little - Vocals
*Fritz Basket - Vocals

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Sunday, November 5, 2017

Ten Wheel Drive With Genya Ravan - The Best Of (1969-71 us, impressive jazz blues brass rock)

Ten Wheel Drive was a highly influential rock/jazz group not afraid to push the envelope while exploring various musical styles. Though musicians came and went, including the original lead vocalist, by the time the fourth album was released, the records have stood the test of time, influencing the successful Bette Midler breakthrough film The Rose, inspiring women with the drive and ambition to front their own group in a once male-dominated industry, getting sold on online auction sites to be discovered by new generations of music lovers. 

When Bette Midler put the Jerry Ragovoy/Larry Weiss song "Stay With Me" in her film The Rose, it was a sly tribute to the genius of Genya Ravan and her innovative ensemble Ten Wheel Drive. The former Goldie Zelkowitz hit big in Europe with "Can't You Hear My Heartbeat," which Peter Noone has said Zelkowitz/Ravan's manager nicked off producer Mickey Most's desk. Most and Noone, of course, hit in America with "Can't You Hear My Heartbeat" on a Herman's Hermits release. Zelkowitz emerged from her pioneering girl group (later producing Ronnie Spector's first solo disc) to front an adventurous and highly experimental unit known as Ten Wheel Drive.

With elements of Blood, Sweat and Tears meeting Big Brother and the Holding Company somewhere in the middle, Ten Wheel Drive covered the gamut of pop styles. The band's three albums with Ravan, and a fourth without her on Capitol, only hinted at Ten Wheel Drive's potential. Polygram's Bill Levenson has done another commendable job putting together a solid collection featuring six tracks each from the first two discs and four from the third. A track from the Capitol disc co-written by Schefrin/Zager/Ravan and entitled "Why Am I So Easy to Leave" would have made this perfect but, clocking in at 79:05, this disc is generous indeed.

"Come Live With Me" has Ravan's exotic vocals slinking up and down the scale alongside bass and guitar, and "Brief Replies" is reminiscent of Mae West singing in the film Myra Breckinridge, but it is Ravan's screaming-from-the-cosmos wail in her astonishing performance of "Stay With Me" that is the album's zenith. Pearl producer Paul A. Rothschild was enlisted to recreate Ravan's performance somehow and Bette Midler did a wonderful tribute to her, as well as to Joplin and to songwriter Ragovoy (who also co-wrote Joplin's signature tune "Piece of My Heart."

Make no mistake, both Joplin and Midler have owed a debt to the work of Genya Ravan. Just listen to "Last of the Line," with its experimental pop that Big Brother and the Holding Company flirted with so often, or the dreamy "Shootin' the Breeze," which sounds like a Jackie DeShannon/Burt Bacharach reunion. It is second only to "Stay With Me" as the showpiece of the disc. Any group that goes out on so many limbs to cover pop, jazz fusion, hard rock, country, blues, and any other musical format whether in vogue or not, deserved the opportunity to generate more sound. This "best-of" is a unique snapshot of talents who have yet to receive their due.
by Joe Viglione
1. Tightrope (Genya Ravan, Leon Rix) - 5:10
2. Lapidary - 4:32
3. Eye Of The Needle - 8:11
4. Candy Man Blues (Elizabeth Hoff, Louie Hoff) - 4:36
5. Ain't Gonna Happen - 5:39
6. House In Central Park - 4:29
7. Morning Much Better (Genya Ravan, Mike Zager) - 2:36
8. Brief Replies - 5:20
9. Come Live With Me - 5:22
10.Stay With Me (George David Weiss, Jerry Ragovoy) - 4:20
11.How Long Before I'm Gone - 6:43
12.Last Of The Line - 5:20
13.The Night I Got Out Of Jail - 3:46
14.Shootin' The Breeze - 3:18
15.Love Me - 5:03
16.I Had Him Down - 3:53
All compositions by Aram Schefrin, Mike Zager except where stated

Ten Wheel Drive
*Genya Ravan - Vocals, Harmonica, Tambourine
*Aram Schefrin - Guitar, Vocals, Banjo, Percussion
*Michael Zager - Organ, Piano, Clarinet
*Bill Takas  - Bass
*Leon Rix - Drums, Percussion, Cello
*Louie Hoff - Flute, Tenor, Baritone Saxophones
*Dennis Parisi - Trombone
*Jay Silva - Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Flute 
*Richard Meisterman - Trumpet, Flugelhorn
*Peter Hyde - Piccolo Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Trumpet
*Allen Herman - Drums, Percussion, Vibes
*Bob Piazza  - Bass, Vocals
*Dave Liebman - Flute, Soprano, Tenor, Baritone Saxophones
*Steve Satten - Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Hamesha, Cowbell
*John Gatchell - Trumpet, Flugelhorn
*John Eckert - Trumpet, Flugelhorn
*Blake Hines  - Bass
*David Williams- Drums, Percussion
*Alan Gauvin - Woodwinds
*Tom Malone - Trombone
*Dean Pratt - Trumpet
*Frank Frint - Trumpet
*Danny Stiles Francisco - Trumpet

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Friday, November 3, 2017

Margo Guryan - Take A Picture (1968 us, divine ethereal baroque jazzy psych, 2009 HDCD digipak remaster)

Routinely selling for huge sums of money on the vinyl market and making its way into the collections of pop fanatics as far afield as Japan, Take a Picture has taken on a dynamic life of its own since its 1968 release, especially for an album that went relatively unheard at the time. It is not difficult to figure out what all the retroactive acclaim is about once you hear the sweet, delicate strain of gently kaleidoscopic music on the sole album from Margo Guryan. 

It is the soft pop of which gauzy dreams are made, full of the hazy changes and transitory variations of autumn, an album that you invariably want to wrap up in. Better than most similar efforts from the time, the album maintains a vibrant resonance outside the milieu in which it was created because the songcraft is not only infectious but also highly intelligent, and because Guryan's performance is so delicious. Perhaps a bit too thin and breathy for mass consumption, her voice is an acquired taste in an era loaded with wispy pop princesses, not to mention brassy belters such as Grace Slick, Janis Joplin, and Mama Cass. Once you accept its whispery invitation, though, Guryan's singing, equal parts girl group innocence and seductive torch, envelops you.

The thing that really elevates her above many of her contemporaries and competitors for the soft rock tiara, though, is her wonderfully idiosyncratic songwriting capabilities. A classically trained pianist and jazz composer by education and trade, her songs are much more than your standard pop fare. Although the song structures are simplistic on a superficial level (which should have made them perfect nuggets for commercial radio play in 1968), the arrangements beneath them are anything but. There are all kinds of intriguing things going on with or underneath the melody, either instrumentally (hammy trombones, old-tavern piano, touches of sitar) or via affect. Just when you think a chorus or hook is as ethereal as it could possibly be, Guryan tweaks it just slightly enough that it rises even higher and takes you to an even more elevated emotional plane. She manages the difficult trick of cajoling something already beautiful to something truly sublime. There is also an expert, fluid balance of juxtapositions within the music. 

Tempos are shifted frequently but seamlessly, and Guryan's chord progressions tend to switch from balladic choices during the slower verses to sly and unconventional jazz progressions during the quicker paced breaks and bridges, with the influence of bossa nova particularly heavy in many of the tunes. Her classical background is spliced into the mix as well, generically via the orchestral splashes of various songs, but more explicitly on "Someone I Know," where her own pop melody is superimposed over the chorale of Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring." The two fit perfectly, point and counterpoint, like the complex pocket symphonies of Brian Wilson, a huge influence, and far more interesting with each listen. 

Other highlights include her own version of "Sunday Morning," the breezily kittenish "Sun," and the tough go-go groove of "Don't Go Away," but really every song is a gem. The CD reissue, housed in a handsome special edition digipak with a 12-page booklet that contains a brief biography, liner notes, and lyrics, also includes three stellar bonus publisher's demos that mark a significant addition an album that was already one of the most endearing cult soft rock records from an era full of them. 
by Stanton Swihart
1. Sunday Morning - 2:20 
2. Sun - 2:36
3. Love Songs - 2:37
4. Thoughts - 2:25
5. Don't Go Away - 2:04
6. Take A Picture - 3:08
7. What Can I Give You - 2:31 
8. Think Of Rain - 2:25 
9. Can You Tell - 2:34 
10.Someone I Know - 2:46 
11.Love - 5:26
12.I Think A Lot About You - 2:19 
13.It's Alright Now - 2:04 
14.Timothy Gone - 1:50
Music and Lyrics by Margo Guryan
Bonus Tracks 12-14

*Margo Guryan - Vocals
*Phil Bodner - Oboe
*Paul Griffith - Keyboards
*Kirk Hamilton - Bass, Flute
*Buddy Sultzman - Drums
*John Hill - Guitar

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