- New Sounds
- Jimi Hendrix Official Bootlegs
- Old Favortites
- New From Wales
I left California right at the beginning of 1980, and as a result missed out on the birth of what became known as the Paisley Underground scene. Andrew Lauder made sure I was aware of Rain Parade, when I visited London in the summer of 1984. By then, I was well into their work, as well as bands like True West, Dream Syndicate, Three O'Clock, The Bangles, Green On Red and, The Long Ryders. In reality, these bands didn't have so much in common musically, but they did share a philosophy about music that ran counter to the slick MTV sounds of the era. The Rain Parade were always a favorite of mine, as they had a lovely flowing sound, and they weren't afraid of guitar solos. Their second studio album was on Island, and there seemed to be some chaffing at the demands of a major label, and the band broke up soon afterwards. The fragments became Opal, which evolved into the fairly successful Mazzy Star, and Viva Saturn. VS was fronted by Steven Roback and Matt Piucci, essentially Rain Parade without David Roback. In the mid 90's, Jud Cost took me around to the studio to meet Roback and Piucci while they were working on their final release, Sound Mind. The album failed to create much noise, and the band was dropped, and a follow up was never released.
Matt Piucci eventually found himself a member of Crazy Horse, and more recently a part of The Billy Talbot Band. Boatclub is most of the Billy Talbot Band, with the addition of Mark Hanley. The song writing and singing is shared by the three guitarists, in various combinations. The results isn't that far removed from Rain Parade. There is enough of the familiar psych sounds of RP, but they never seem to force the issue. The results succeed on their own merits.
The eighteen songs clock in at under 50 minutes, and there is never a dull moment. From the start, a short accpella piece, the record just flows along with a new discovery at every turn. I'm not sure what to even suggest it sounds like, as none of that would be fair to this record and this band. Their own press says:
Now consisting of five members, with the addition of John Thoman - a fourth songwriter and also ex Rain Parade guitar player - boatclub is already knee deep in recording their long awaited follow-up cd. Heavy on psychedelic guitars and soaring harmonies, boatclub packs a wallop. enjoy.
10 Questions with Matt Piucci can be found at the Trip Inside This House blog plus some related videos.
In a year that has seen a handful of startling releases, this one sits right at the top.
Matt Piucci - Hellenes
The predecessor to the above reviewed Boatclub album was released in 2000. Hellenes is billed as a Matt Piucci album, he's written or cowritten and sings all eleven songs. Billy Talbot is present on three tracks, Crazy Horse band mate Ralph Molina joins the fray for one tune, as does veteran keyboard player, Barry Goldberg. Rain Parade fans will be pleased to know that the feel of this album is not too far removed from the familiar Paisley sounds. While searching the web for information about this, I was surprised to see one critic dismissing Hellenes as "sounding awful". Nothing could be further from the truth.
In many ways, this feels and sounds like the natural follow up to Crashing Dreams, the Rain Parade's final album. If you've heard the self released "Demolitions" cd, you'll be aware the band wasn't happy with the heavy handed influence Island Records had on that album. Hellenes never holds back. Guitars drone and blaze. The sometimes minimalist lyrics are always effective. The core group of players include Piucci, guitarist John Thoman, Billy Blaze, and the ubiquitous Alec Palao. Ex-Rain Parader Steven Roback co-produced and plays on several tracks. This is a wonderful, belated addition to my collection. It's a shame this seems to have only been released in Europe. I'd never seen it until now. Get it now, before it's gone.
Hellenes is available directly from Inbetweens Records
Ideal Free Distribution - Then We Were Older
The second release by IDF sees the band undergo a major personel shift, with only singer, Tony Miller retained from the first album. If the debut album was an attempt to capture some of the magic of the psych originals, Then We Were Older blows the rules out of the water. In a sense, this album is truer to the spirit of psychedelic music. Freed from any restrcitions, the music flows freely from synth space drones, to bright pop, to guitar driver rock. After repeated listens, I drew a few comparisons. On one hand, I kept hearing a bit of the first Hawkwind album, the song Hurry Sundown in particular. In other ways, IFD reminds me of what Echo And The Bunnymen could have sounded like if they were really a psych band, as they were often touted. Remove the signature 80's production and place Ian McCullough in a modern indie band, and you might end up with something as good as When We Were Older. There might be hints of GbV and Olivia Tremor Control too, but more for the melodic invention, not for any lo-fi pretentions. If you discovered Ideal Free Distribution via their debut, then you should find this the logical evolution.
This album moves from mood to mood, with the whole thing glued together by Tony Miller's strong voice. Extra points for the great cover graphics which seem to borrow from old National Park posters.
Ideal Free Distribution - Ideal Free Distribution
Ideal Free Distribution's self titled release was created by a much different band, lead by Craig Morris. He was the principal songwriter and produced the album. Robert Schneider, from Apples In Stereo, helped mix the tracks. The songs fall easily into the psych pop mould. They name check the Zombies and Pretty Things in their press, which is fair enough. The material is all strong and original and never suggests a mere recreation of 60's sounds. Having heard this record the same week I discovered Then We Were Older, I must say they are two of my favorite listens of the year.
I think Phil K. Dick and Jimi Hendrix are the two most prolific dead artists I enjoy. In Hendrix's short career he release three studio albums. His best selling album was the Band Of Gypsies, a live album recorded to fulfill a contractual obligation for a piece of paper he signed in 1965. Shortly after his death in 1970 two albums made up of material he was working on for what would have been his fourth studio album, his first since the 1968 release of Electric Ladyland. Both Rainbow Bridge and Cry Of Love had some outstanding songs, and only confirmed that Jimi Hendrix was set to launch a new musical direction. Things went seriously wrong after that. War Heroes and Loose Ends, which was never released in the US were only mildly interesting bits from the vaults and didn't contain any new revelations.
Even worse were the two albums assembled by Alan Douglas, which added new overdubs to existing tracks. Crash Landing and Midnight Lightning can only be described as the worst sort of exploitation. Douglas showed no respect for the original tapes, and erased some of the original performances. After this, there was a series of live albums, some very good, and some again tampered with by Alan Douglas. MCA ended up with the rights to the catalog, and made a few feeble attempts to get things on the right track. A long series of lawsuits followed, before the rights to "all" of Jimi Hendrix's material were returned to his family. The original albums were remastered by Eddie Kramer and a new series of well considered archive releases has begun. Through the Official Jimi Hendrix Web Site there is now a "bootleg" label, Dagger Records releasing some of the most interesting vault discoveries yet. Eight of the nine cds under examination come from this sanctioned outlet one is from the suspect Purple Haze Records. Enjoy.
Hear My Music
A mixed bag of recordings from New York and London cover a period from February through May 1969. Four of the albums 11 tracks had appeared in edited or altered form after Hendrix's death. Trash Man is restored to it's original form, minus Alan Douglas's ill conceived Midnight Lightning overdubs. Slow Version, Ezy Ryder/Star Spangled Banner and Blues Jam At Olympic feature some of the last recording by the original Experience lineup. All three are fantastic examples of the communication that had developed, despite the personal tension between Hendrix and Redding. Four solo demos, one at the piano, round out the collection. Electric Ladyland had done much to expand the scope of what Hendrix was now free to pursue in the studio. Those around Hendrix were not terribly pleased with his new recording habits. Chas Chandler had left during the Ladyland sessions, fed up with the lack of discipline in the studio. Noel Redding was not happy with the new direction, and soon found himself on the outside, and out of the band. What is clear, Hendrix was compiling ideas for the fourth album at least eighteen months before his death, and just short of completing the album. This collection shows a period of transition, a sketch book of idea, some just musical exercises, others the first steps towards The First Rays Of The New Rising Sun. Not quite as essential as Burning Desire, but a satisfying listen for any serious fan.
Studio recordings from November 7, 1969 and two days in January 1970 make up the eight titles on Burning Desire. This is a wonderful collection of material that opens a window on the musical explorations that were a part of the effort to visualize the long awaited fourth studio album. Some "experts" might complain that this isn't enough, but any serious fan would not find fault with this release.
Buddy Miles is present on all the tracks, Billy Cox is on all except the two earliest cuts. A few of the titles will be familiar to most of us. These instrumental sessions are more than just loose jamming. Hendrix seems to be searching for the thread that will help him realize the final arrangements. The 20 minute Ezy Ryder/MLK Jam finds Hendrix soaring through some tightly structured improvisation. Record Plant 2X might be the only true "jam" here, and again features a downpour of Hendrix guitar. Two different attempts at Villanova Junction Blues show how these ideas were developed over a two month period. Later in the year, the most promising recordings would be collected and overdubs were added. It's a shame the album was never completed. Hendrix did leave behind a proposed running order for the first three sides of the double album. The financial pressures of building Electric Ladyland meant Hendrix was out playing huge festivals when he would have rather been in the studio perfecting his musical vision.
Live At The Isle Of Fehmarn
Dagger has taken a popular bootleg recording of what was to be Jimi's final concert and done their best to make it an enjoyable listening experience. Apparently recorded by the promoter on the sly, this is by no means a professional effort. The performance is fairly amazing. It has a lot more life than the familiar Isle Of Wight album. The second half of the show was playing during a heavy rain storm, which may account for the shorter set. Room Full Of Mirrors is the only song performed here which wasn't on the IOW set list. Again, Hendrix seems to try and balance the show with a mix of old favorites and new material. A fan bellowing for Hey Joe early in the show was probably something Jimi was all too familiar with. Despite the less than ideal conditions, the show sees Jimi in good spirits, playing with a lot of fire. The rough sound would probably put this in the "for fans only" column, but it is an important part of the Hendrix catalog.
Live At Oakland Coliseum
The first release is a full length recording of Hendrix's Oakland Coliseum concert from Spring 1969. The sound isn't half bad, recorded on a portable reel to reel deck. It's classic vintage bootleg sound, from the same venue as the Stones Liver Than You'll Ever Be. The playing is very good, and Hendrix seems to be in fine form. Jack Cassidy joins the Experience on stage for the finale of Voodoo Chile (Slight Return). The field recording gives no indication of his low note rumblings. If you are a serious bootleg collector, you'll love this one, just for the thrill of knowing a taper got his recording released.
Live At Clark University
From March 1968 is a short set with interviews from the same night added to the disc. One of the best of these tracks, Fire has also appeared as part of the Hendrix (the purple velvet) Box.
The Baggy's Rehearsal Sessions
Things get considerably more interesting with The Baggy's Rehearsal Sessions. This is compiled from rehearsals for the Band Of Gypsies gigs recorded to a two track machine. The sound a wonderful, but it's the performances that excel. The Fillmore East concert recordings have been remastered, and the expanded Fillmore East double cd adds to this. Unfortunately, Microsoft mogul, Paul Allen owns the multi tracks masters, and didn't see fit to share them for this release, so the album is a compilation of rough mixes done by Kramer shortly after the concert. Nothing wrong there, and you get the a generous helping of the two nights that were recorded. This expanded version shows how the original album distilled from these tapes show the band off at their best. Buddy Miles may be a great R 'n B drummer but he has none of the fluid dexterity that Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell brought to the table. On the other hand, the Baggy's tapes show Hendrix, Miles, and Billy Cox running through a large portion of the set in a beautiful relaxed manner that often surpasses the live recordings. There is no Machine Gun, or the older hits, it's the newer material played with care and feeling. Essential for any fan.
Live In Ottawa
This recording has been on the trading circuit for a long time, but of course this sounds much better, benefiting from a remaster job by Eddie Kramer. The early 1968 North American Tour is one of the best periods for live recordings. Any tidbit is appreciated. The liner notes suggest that this show was recorded by Hendrix himself, or at his request. It's not a pro job, but it very good. Hendrix is in a humorous and the band plays particularly well.
The set contains two gems worth the price of admission. They open this, the second show of the night with a rousing version of Killing Floor, and follow that with nearly eleven minutes of Tax Free. Almost all of the 8.1 songs are given extended treatments. Wild Thing just gets started when the tape runs out. Again well worth seeking out.
Morning Symphony Ideas
This one is a different kettle of fish entirely. Rather than proper songs, this is a collection of sketches, albeit long ones, of ideas for future use. Either the lest interesting of the lot, or maybe the best, as it's the only one that completely breaks away from the familiar song list. Four of these six songs are just Jimi unloading ideas with Buddy Miles keeping time. Billy Cox joins in on one. The last two are solo efforts. The "Acoustic Demo" is a snippet of one of Jimi's home recordings. A few of these have surfaced are a real treat. Hearing Hendrix at his most relaxed, out side the confines of the studio and just playing for himself. Probably for serious fans only
Paris 1967/ San Francisco 1968
In 1966 The Jimi Hendrix Experience went to France just after forming to open for Johnny Halliday. Two songs from these early days did surface on the Experience Box Set. Those show the band already a serious fighting unit. It would be great to hear some of the other R'nB covers they were performing at the time like Midnight Hour. The essential, yet out of print Stages Box included yet another Paris live session recorded just days before the Fillmore gig that makes up the second half of this disc. The October Olympia show has no real surprises, just some great playing. Two more songs from this night can be found on the Experience Box.
The Fillmore Show is in fact the last night of a four night stand in San Francisco. It seems to be one of the tapes from Bill Grahams recording set up, off the board. It's not nearly complete. The band seems to be winding down from the long weekend, and don't reached the height achieved over the previous three nights. Catfish Blues showed up for the second time in the set list this night, but this is probably the only night that they played Mr Fantasy. Buddy Miles takes over the drum stool for this loose instrumental take. A tantalizing taste of a historical weekend.
Having seen the Friday night's show, I can only say it's a shame that the whole weekend wasn't recorded. The two sets I saw included three unreleased numbers: Driving South, Catfish Blues, and Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window! My friends who went on Saturday were treated to a screaming version of Sgt Pepper's. Oh well, I have my memories.
The Rainbow Bridge Concert
Rather than appearing on the Dagger label, this slightly mysterious release is on the English Purple Haze label. Tapes of these shows have circulated for years, but these seem to come from multi tracks. The sound is very good, but it's hard to say who's responsible. There is little in the way of documentation. This double cds set was advertised in major UK monthlies, but it's legality has never been confirmed. I've actually only seen the one copy that I own, and a single disc vinyl version.
What ever the case, it's a stunning set, Hendrix is playing for a few hundred people and playing very well. If you've seen the film footage you know the circumstances. The two sets draw primarily from material that was new at the time. The early show features four familiar tracks, three from Are You Experienced and one from Ladyland. The second second set is much looser, with Red House being the only familiar title. The songs flow together with little chat between. An incredible document, and one worth owning.
The Action Rolled Gold
In the late sixties as we were trying to track down records by all the UK bands we were hearing about, one group managed to elude us, The Action. I read about them and their plans for recording an album. There was even a competition to design the album cover.
I had never heard the Action until Andrew Lauder assembled all the Ultimate Action Anthology in 1980. Ten years earlier, a friend had turned up a copy of an album by a band called Mighty Baby. This was a major revelation.
Mighty Baby were the band the Action had evolved into with the addition of Ian Whitman and later Martin Stone. I'd known of Martin Stone from his participation on the first Savoy Brown album. Mighty Baby were heavily influenced by the west coast guitar bands of the era. The album had been produced by Guy Stevens and released on the Chess subsidiary Head Records. It seems Head had folded even before the album was released. Eventually a few remaindered copies showed up in the bins, but it had come and gone with no notice at all.
I suppose we had hoped the Action sounded like the Who. I don't know why, maybe because weâd lumped them in with names like the Creation. In some ways I suppose they did remind me of the Who or maybe the Move if either were playing pretty straight Motown Sounds. There were no screaming feed back guitars, just great singing and a great groove.
In the mid '80s another bit of Action appeared on a five song mini LP called Action Speaks Louder. The five songs originate from a period in 1968 when the Action was transforming itself into something much different. These five sides are all very good, but don't really have the charm of the Action's singles or the confidence of the best work of Mighty Baby. These were eventually added to the Might Baby album when it was released on cd. More recently an album worth of demos also recorded in 1968 were released as Rolled Gold. Ric Menck from the American band Velvet Crush has now released it in the States on his own Reaction Label. These 14 songs are a whole different matter.
This truly can be called a lost classic. It might be correct to refer to the band that recorded these songs as Mighty Baby with Reg King on vocals. Reg King was apparently one of the great singers of the era. This record supports that theory. The songs on Rolled Gold hint at the complex sounds the Beatles were making at the time, but there is that over cast of the West Coast all through it. It also shows what a big influence Simon And Garfunkel were at the time. The multi voice harmonies and acoustic guitar give off a scent of folk-rock. Cutting across that is the searing lead guitar of Martin Stone.
Long lost demos aren't suppose to sound this good. The sound is a treat. No scratchy acetate sources here. All the tracks would appear to have been mastered from the original tapes. You can find a lot of material from the Action/Mighty Baby circle. The various members did a lot of session work on countless albums from the late '60s. Reg King released a solo lp at the beginning of the '70s. Alan King was guitarist for Ace, who had a hit with How Long. Rolled Gold could actually be the first Action album you might want to investigate.
If the '60s pop sounds are what interest you, then the Ultimate Action compilation would be the direction youâd want to follow. If it's the late '60s guitar sounds that catch your ear, then Mighty Baby is the variation you'd want to hear. This one has been on the box nonstop here at the Career Records world HQ. Available from our friends at ModLang.
The Animals - Animalism
The like many of their contemporaries found that their US labels were able to assemble more albums out of their catalog than their UK counterpart's. In the case of the Animals MGM managed five albums plus a hits Compilation. To make matters even more confusing, the the albums titled Animalism were completely different affairs in the US and UK. The UK Animalism was known as Animalization here in the states. The US release never appeared in England, and seems to have fallen off the world map.
The album, Animalism, that is under discussion here is the US version, and the final release by "the original Animals". More correctly they might be called Animals MK2, with Dave Rowberry and Barry Jenkins replacing Alan Price and John Steel. Right up to the point of this release, the Animal were still a potent hit machine and live act in the States. They'd had two chart entries with Don't Bring Me Down and Inside Looking Out and the Animalization album. Those first four US albums, had been solid collections of choice covers, adaptations of blues standards, songs supplied by tin pan alley writers, and a few originals.
Animalism followed the same formula, less the Brill Building supplied sure fire hit material. In some ways, this was their most honest album. What you get a dozen perfect performances. The songs are divided equally between blues standards (Rock Me Baby, Smokestack Lightning, Louisiana Blues, and Going Down Slow) and R&B chestnuts (Shake, Lucille, Hit The Road Jack and That's All I Am To You) The four contemporary numbers include two covers (The Other Side Of This Life, Hey Gyp) and two that seem to be originals though they are not credited (All Night Long and the fantastic Outcast).
Once again the album was produced by Tom Wilson, a man who's resume includes Dylan, Velvets, Simon and Garfunkle, and the Soft Machine. He seemed content to let the band run with their instincts and just play. Frank Zappa gets an "arranger" credit for the opening track, All Night Long. The intro of this song is nothing short of amazing, and wouldn't have been out of place on one of the poppier songs on Freak Out.
This album is simply one of the perfect '60's albums. Eric Burdon is in fine voice, and hadn't succumbed to the hippie philosophy of the later versions of the band. No, the band simply pays tribute to the deep pool of influences and does it with their own style. Each side ends with the slow speed versions of choice blues numbers, Smokestack Lightning, and Going Down Slow. The spare arraignments allow the soloists, particularly Hilton Valentine to stretch out and show off their solid chops. In between it's non stop, joy, soul and deep thoughts. The afore mentioned Outcast is a garage-punk classic.
It's ironic that ever album that followed this one is currently in print, and endless compilations of the earlier material can be found; but these twelve songs are nowhere to be found. Even the once common vinyl, a regular item in late 60's cut out bins, has evaporated. On a recent trip to Seattle, I couldn't resist buy both copies that I spotted to augment the well played original I've enjoyed since it's release in 1966.
***2007 Update. Not long after I wrote this review, the Universal reissue arm, Hip-O-Select did infact reissue this album. They didn't go out of their way to do anything special. It's just the straight album with the original cover reproduced for the CD. It sounds great, and well worth searching out.
Pink Floyd - Obscured By Clouds
Any discussion of Pink Floyd usually begin with the clear distinction between the Syd Barrett era and the rest of the band's career. Then there is the whole matter of Dark Side Of The Moon. This monolithic concept album is both one of the biggest selling albums in the universe and one that is often harshly criticized. The Floyds haven't helped their cause by becoming pompous fat rich rock stars.
Me, I do OK until the Wall which does have a few good songs, but is sunk by Roger Waters incessant whining about his childhood. The Last Cut, which began as the soundtrack to the Wall film is possibly the worst album recorded by a band I like.
So why Obscured By Clouds? This soundtrack to the film La Vallee is a near perfect distillation of the Pink Floyd sound of the 70's. After Barrett left the band, they bounced back with the wonderful Saucerful Of Secrets and their first movie music effort More. The next three albums found them looking for a new way to present their music. Ummagumma the half live, half self-indulgent solo efforts, isn't half bad, but it's the live tracks that do the heavy lifting. Atom Heart Mother and Meddle are two variations on the same format. A side long "epic" and a handful of shorter tracks on the flip. The ambitious Atom Heart was a near miss, while Echoes on the Meddle album became an FM Radio classic.
For Obscured, they returned to the straight song format for the first time in a long while. In retrospect I see it as Dark Side without the concept or the links. The songs and music stand up on their own in a way DSOTM doesn't always. Part of it's success lies in the song writing credits. David Gilmour and Richard Wright both make major contributions alone and in various combinations. This would be the last album not dominated by Rog Waters and his "big themes".
I always felt that this album had some of the down to earth sounds of contemporaries like Van Morrison. The music is just a simple four piece, recorded with a stark dry ambiance. Songs like Stay and Gilmour's Childhood's End are some of the best things they ever wrote. The four instrumental tracks a equally as engaging. It's all piano, Hammond, and perfectly understated guitar sounds.
When we interviewed Dave Gilmour in 1977, I asked him why they only played the title track live a few times, and none of the others. He shrugged and said "Richard didn't want to play it". I suppose by the time it came out, they were already touring with the early version of Dark Side, which was called Eclipse at one point. Songs from Meddle took up the rest of the set list. I guess they were more concerned about the work in progress when they toured in 1973.
Recently when Deniz and Jim Dickson were in town, the conversation turned to Dark Side. I mentioned to Ron Craighead that I had a Quad copy of DSOTM, which I eventually spun for the post dinner crowd. Everyone told an anecdote about the album, including Deniz. He said while he'd heard some of the songs, he'd never listened to the whole album in one sitting. He also mentioned that Obscured By Clouds was one of his favorite records, and asked if I knew it. Since it's release I've had a Capitol Records cassette of it that is almost always in my car cassette box. It seems to be the perfect soundtrack to any trip, especially cross the wide open spaces of Montana.
Robert Wyatt & Friends In Concert
I've been a big fan of Robert Wyatt since I saw him perform live with the Soft Machine, when they opened for Jimi Hendrix at Winterland in 1968. With the help of a good friend in London, I'd collected a shelf full of live recordings from through out his career. One of the best is the Drury Lane Concert that was Wyatt's first public appearance after his death defying fall out of a forth story window.
Now thanks to Hannibal, the multi track tapes have been given a new mix and an official released. It should be noted that the tapes four or five songs have been lost, so part of the second set, including The God Song is absent. That is the only disappointment.
The band on this date was made up of a host of Wyatt's friends and musical accomplices. Hugh Hopper from the Softs handles the bass through out. The drumming chore is shared by Laurie Allen and Nick Mason from Pink Floyd. Dave Stewart (Egg, Hatfield And The North) is the main keyboard player. Guitars are shared between Mike Oldfield and Fred Frith. Julie (Driscoll) Tippetts, John Peel and Ivor Cutlor lend their voices to Wyatt's.
As for the material, half the show is given over to Rock Bottom along with I'm A Believer and Memories which were released on a single at the same time. Except for Julie Tippetts' Mind Of A Child, the other four tracks are taken from End Of An Ear, Matching Mole and Hatfield And The North.
With the release of Shleep, Wyatt has been back in the public eye once again. There are currently fresh remasters of all his solo material, and heaps of live recording with both the Soft Machine and Matching Mole in release. You wouldn't go wrong with most any of these, but this one stands a head and shoulders above the pack.
Graham Bond - Jazz, Blues, Rock & Alchemy
Graham Bond will always be a footnote in the history of Cream. Plans for a comprehensive collection have never materialized due to the many contractual conflicts. Jazz, Blues, Rock & Alchemy gathers together 14 hard to find single sides, a sound track number and six BBC sessions recordings. The latter make up the most interesting part of this wonderful underground release.
After a period of exile in Los Angeles in the late 60's, Bond returned to London where he formed the Graham Bond Initiation, who are heard on the five songs which were aired on the BBC in 1970. Hearing his hippie anthem, Love Is The Law performed by this band is the highlight of the CD which shows no weak spots.
Most of the other fourteen track are from 1965 and 1966, with the famous Graham Bond Organization. This is probably the only place you can find Waltz For A Pig, on CD. In 1966 the Who found themselves locked in a legal battle with their producer Shel Talmy and were unable to record. The Graham Bond Organization, performing as "The Who Orchestra" supplied this jazz instrumental track for the B-side of the Substitute 45. Recorded just before Ginger Baker jumped ship to form Cream, this is one of the best examples of that band captured.
Graham Bond probably did a lot to ensure he would never capture the audience he deserved. By the time of his tragic death in 1975, he'd worn out his welcome, even with his best friends. Luckily there are still plenty of fans out there, and at least one who has done a fine job of gathering up some loose ends in the worth package.
The Rolling Stones - Mad Shadows
Wot? Another Stones bootleg?
Unlike the Beatles and a few others who have attempted to satisfy the collectors and deflect the work of the gray market labels, the Stones have simply ignored their treasure trove of material left in the can. At least some of this problem can be laid at the feet of Allen Kline, who controls everything they recorded up through 1969. Except for a handful of loose ends found on the Hot Rocks Vol 2 reissue, none of the recent remasters contained any unreleased material. Even a recent Rarities release merely gathered some, not all of the post 1969 B-sides.
At the same time, the Stones have released more live albums than just about anyone except the Dead.
So what does this one have to offer? Probably nothing you didn't already have if you are a serious Stones collector. But it does gather together 20 great unreleased gems. The earliest material is from their 1964 visit to Chess Studios. These six numbers, including Stewed and Keefed are presented in very good sound. These are followed by an unlisted take of Heart Of Stone. This seems to be the same one found on Metamorphoses.
Looking Tired was a song recorded for Could You Walk On Water, an album that was scrapped in favor of Aftermath, hence the title of the latter. This is a tidy country blues number that would have seemed out of time and place with the rest of the album. There are alternate versions of Have You Seen Your Mother and Street Fighting Man, with the original Everybody Pays Their Dues lyrics. From the same session as Have You Seen Your Mother is, I Can See It, a track that is new to my ears. A very soulful, and funky work out. Recorded in the run up to Between The Buttons, it sounds nothing like that slice of UK psych.
Good Time Woman is an early version which evolved into Tumblin' Dice. There are a two other Mick Taylor era tracks that I'd not heard before. Don't Know The Reason Why is a ten minute blues, with lots of guitar and a horn section. A version of 32-20 come from 1972 tour rehearsals.
In this age of bit-torrents, the age of proper bootlegs may be passing. Still there is nothing like a well executed and packaged release. And with the Rolling Stones there are loads of songs that will only be heard via the underground.
Tweke Lewis - Into The Chill Kamikharsi Records
The only time I saw Tweke play live was when he was a member of Glen Cornick's post-Tull band, Wild Turkey. You can see a Bill Graham flyer for this show on Tweke's myspace page. Curiously, the drummer in that band was Jeff Jones, the original Man drummer. The next year Alan "Tweke" Lewis had joined Man just as they were becoming a major attraction. His tenure with the band was short, and he only appeared on one album, Back Into The Future, and then he's only on two of the studio tracks, and the two live numbers. There are more than a few who consider the Roundhouse performance of C'mon to one of Man's finest moments ever. Before that line up dissolved, there was one more session that produced the famously unreleased "Single" and "The Symbol", a pair of songs that enjoyed a lot of radio play in the Bay Area.
Micky might have said Tweke played too much in the same style, and didn't offer enough contrast in sound. You do have to listen close to tell when Micky isn't playing, meaning you are hearing Tweke. The BBC In Concert recording, which is now out of print, presents two more recordings from this period. After leaving Man, Tweke spent time in the Sean Tyla Gang. He then joined the Micky Jones Band for a short period in 1977 - 1978. After that, it appears he put music on the back burner for the next few years. From what I gather, he was and still is a regular fixture on the South Wales live scene. He even took up the sax to expand his skills.
Into The Chill is a collection of home recordings. They are a bit more than demos, but more accurately should be called sketches. Guitar, bass, some keyboards and a drum machine are the instruments heard. There is a bit of vocal, but it's the guitar that is featured. The liner notes name check Jeff Beck and Frank Zappa, as well as Micky Jones as influences. The sound is not unlike some of Micky's expansive playing on the Call Down The Moon album. Some of the pieces are more structured than others.
As a guitar player, I find this a great listen. The solid sense of melody lift it above the modest intentions. I find it odd that he considers himself just an "electric blues" guitarist. This shows a talent far beyond the scope of what passes for blues these days. There are some stand out tracks, and no duds. The seventeen tracks create an enjoyable mood as they flow one to the next. Tweke is far too good for this to ever slip into cliché. It's a shame he didn't think to work with a rhythm section. That might have made the best ideas really stand out. I suspect this was recorded for his own satisfaction, with no intention of a proper release. I'm sure it was the label that encouraged him to assemble the tracks into an album. It's a treat for those of use who can't get to Swansea to see him out on the boards with any of the various outfits he plays with.
Another piece of the Man puzzle is a welcome addition to the library. I'm looking forward to more from Mr Lewis. In the mean time check out his MySpace and iSound sites for several more examples of his amazing guitar playing.
Man - Diamonds And Coal Point 134
There was plenty of surprise when The Manband reformed in 1983, after a seven year layoff. Diamonds And Coal is only the fourth studio album to be released over the twenty plus years they have been back on the road. There have been at least three 'official" live albums, and several "fan club" recordings to fill the gaps. Since the release of Endangered Species in 2000, things have not gone well in the Man camp. Health issues sidelined Deke, and eventually lead to his leaving the band. Phil Ryan's return was short lived due to his own health crisis. In the midst of all this, Micky Jones was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Micky's son George was brought in to replace Deke, who returned to the line up while Micky was out of action. Eventually Josh Ace, Martin's son was drafted when it became clear Micky would not be able to rejoin the band.
This new album is the work of a band finding their own sound. The good news is George Jones studied well at his father's knee. He's a fine guitarist, with a good voice. Josh Ace is still very young but shows promise as a singer and song writer. Word from the road has him improving in leaps and bounds. Martin Ace has had to step up and by default become the primary songwriter.
The score card shows at least five solid songs, better than 50% average. The album opens with the title track sung by Josh. A proud father putting his own right to the front. He pulls it off, despite it all. It's a good song, that I want to hear again in a couple of years when Josh is full of confidence and found the power in his voice. The mix puts his slightly tentative singing down in the mix. Nothing wrong with the results, but if you were expecting Deke or Micky, or even Phil Ryan, you could be disappointed. George has been on the road with Man for a few years now, and has a stronger voice. You can hear the Jones genes at work. Not of voice as "sweet" as his father, but give him a bit more time. His guitar work is coming along too. He's very good, but maybe lacking the stunning originality of his father, or Deke. Those are big shoes to fill. I'd like to see him get beyond some of the obvious modern licks he uses. He will find his sound now that it's all on his shoulders.
The arrangements are always interesting. Some clever twists keep the listener engaged. It's a shame Gareth Thorrington, the keyboard player, left after completing his work on the album. At this point another melodic element seems crucial. Martin has generously waited for the two newest members to take a turn before he steps up. Freedom Fries. You can hear the experience in his song that is lacking up to this point on the album. That said, this fine number runs on a bit too long. When George does jump in on the long outtro, it kicks things up a notch.
It's the next two songs that convince me this band could well match the level of this band's legacy. Twistin' The Knife and Man Of Misery rise above the the others. They just seem more fully formed and performed. I'm still going to deduct point for the lyrics. They have neither the stoned humor or clever word play that one has become to expect from a Man record.
The final four songs fail to lift the energy, and the album ends on a slightly ordinary note. Not a complete success, but far from a failure. Over the past 40 years the Manband set some very high standards and their fans should expect them to live up to that. Under the circumstances, I am happy to cut them some slack. This one might be a bit more interesting than Twang Dynasty, but without Micky or Deke on board there is going to be something lacking. I understand the band is working on material for the follow up. That seems like the only logical plan.
Since writing this, Man were in the studio to record the follow up to Diamonds And Coal. After completing the album with Phil Ryan, there was a major disagreement and the band split into two factions. Bob Richards and George Jones left, and Martin has formed a "new" Man Band. According to reports, the completed album will now not be released.