In The Land Of FREE we still Keep on Rockin'

Plain and Fancy

"I hope for nothing, I fear nothing, I am free"

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Doug Snyder And Bob Thompson - Daily Dance (1972 us, psychedelic instrumental experimental improvisation rock, 2010 mini LP reissue)

Less often than not, a sound recording will reach your ears that turns speculation into confirmation and leaves you wondering if it all really happened. TWS is usually the case when the bold soul finds itself face to face with the Daily Dance. The unlikely town of Washington Court House, between Columbus and Cincinnati in southern Ohio, was obviously the atmosphere needed to generate a document of such solidarity and perspective.

Snyder and Thompson were a guitarist and drummer respectively, and this is their vibratory postcard from nowhere. This duet has nothing to do with anything that has gone before, as even today it seems to dodge categorization. To the unseasoned ear, it might initially sound like a dilapidated cathedral of noise, but upon closer investigation you begin to realize the lack of pretension and sheer dazzle of its being.

The duo tear through seven "songs" with titles such as "Time Overlaps Itself," :'Soul And Universe" and "Truth Is A Pathless Land.'' They generate waves of energy through cascading feedback squall and drnrnbo bash and shimmer. A few tracks will start with something vaguely resembling a "groove," before they quickly deteriorate into their lonely Buckeye din. Daily Dance has much more in common with '90s groups like Fushitshusha or the Dead C than anyone operating in the US in the '70s.

Ya Ho Wa 13 and the likes included. This type of recording eventually achieves a sort of religious quality, where what was only thought of as a possibility becomes an undeniable reality pressed into a dark black circle of wax. An adventurous outing to say the least, and one that could only exist within the private press cosmos. Carefully repackaged and remastered by Cantor Records and Lion Productions, a greater andience now has the opportunity to reach what are indeed New Frontiers.
by Dante Carfagna, January 2009

1. Daily Dance - 10:29
2. Living With Crocodiles - 1:29
3. Time Overlaps Itself - 8:06
4. Unseen, Unheard - Rec. For 'daily Dance' - Prev. Unrel. - 1:56
5. Soul And Universe - 4:54
6. Hit And Run - 5:34
7. Truth Is A Painless Land - 2:47
8. Teenage Emergency - 8:28
All compositions by Doug Snyder, Bob Thompson

*Doug Snyder - Electric Guitar
*Bob Thompson - Drums, Percussion

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Monday, December 11, 2017

The Marshall Brothers Band - The Marshall Brothers Band (1975 australia, fine classic rock with prog touches, 2005 edition)

The Marshall Brothers Band are lesser-known Aussie proggers, quite possibly due to their lounge-act name, but also quite possibly due to their lounge-act music, certainly when compared to the likes of Aleph or the mighty Sebastian Hardie. The Marshall Brothers Band (produced by noted 'Tronnist Chris Neal).

There aren't any Marshall Brothers on the band, their name came after Rob Scott's wish to use the word "Brothers" like Allman Bros or Doobie Bros, so they called the band after Dave’s amplifier brand! 

Classical rock music influenced by King Crimson, Vanilla Fudge and Rick Wakeman. Their 1975 sole album sold quite well, spending eight weeks in the charts. 

1. Falcon 1959-1912 - 5:42
2. Bright Light Lady (David Hinds, Chris Browne) - 2:35
3. Pioneer Suite - 4:27
4. Mr. 'l' - 5:11
5. Come Out With Your Hands Up, Baby (Chris Neil) - 2:48
6. Flying High - 5:56
7. Summer Love (Chris Browne) - 5:28
8. Younger Now - 11:18
All songs written by Robert Scott except where indicated

The Marshall Brothers Band
*Chris Browne - Vocals
*John 'Funky' Halls - Drums
*David Hinds - Guitar
*Karl Hofman - Guitar
*John Rairty - Drums
*Robert Scott - Keyboards, Vocals
*Kevin Wyatt - Bass, Vocals

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Sunday, December 10, 2017

Wooden Lion - Wooden Lion (1973 uk, great prog space downer rock, 2014 release)

Recorded over forty years ago by the original five-piece band, these insanely rare Wooden Lion tracks have, regrettably, been locked away for an eternity - until now that is. This dastardly and calculated act of betrayal compelled us to free the beast once and for all. In fact it is our sworn and solemn duty at AA Towers to bring you the best and the rarest recordings from the UK Underground of the late 60s and early 70s no matter how challenging the task. 

Not only was the vault securely locked but all keys were mercilessly destroved such is the breathtaking rarity of the sounds you are about to hear Mention the name Wooden Lion to most collectors of 70s prog and psych and more often than not you will be met with a baffled look.

For some though the name may trigger a garbled recital of weird and wonderful names; characters like The Captain, The Mad Molecule and Cardinal Biggies with tales of on-stage frippery and dark delight from long ago. The name fell into place when Roy Wood and Johnny Lyons disbanded Grope, their former band. The first Wooden Lion line-up comprised Roy Wood (electric guitar/6 and 12 string guitars), John Phillips (vocals), Johnny Lyons (bass), Gareth Kiddier (12 string guitar) and Wai Mansfield (drums).

It is this original quintet that was responsible for laying down the five tracks on this CD having been painstakingly re-mastered from a beyond rare acetate of which only one known copy exists. Housed in an adapted gatefold sleeve and customized to include rare pasted on photos and hand written lyrics the relic is an unsurpassed rarity.

As can be heard on these embryonic demos an early Hawkwind influence is apparent here and there whilst the gloomy vocal delivery is very much akin to the late 60s Basildon doom-metal merchants The Iron Maiden. Wooden Lion unleashed their melancholic theatrics and dark cosmic energy to captivated audiences across southern England on the pub and club circuit securing some useful support slots along the way especially at venues like the Dagenham Roundhouse where they opened up for SAHB.

By 1974 when the personnel had changed the band introduced some on stage gimmicks most notably a giant inflatable tube in a bid to gain increased attention not least from a record company or two. With appearances at various open air festivals including Windsor and Watchfield under their belts and another in a park in Basingstoke where they were banned due to excessive volume (yeah right), there was still no sign of a recording deal which only serves to make the earlier session in Hitchin all the more significant now. 

A session incidentally whereby the studio operatives were proposing to enter the tapes into a competition. Heard that one somewhere before! As the line-up continued to chop and change the band experimented by bringing in a synth player namely Alan Essex aka Cardinal Biggies who had occasionally performed with Hawkwind but things finally petered out as the punk scene reared its snotty nose in 1976 by which time the only two original members left were Roy and long standing drummer Wal. Roy then changed his name to Weard and joined circuit band Dogwatch who signed to Terry Murphy's Bridgehouse label.

The gods may have denied Wooden Lion their forty minutes of vinyl glory first time around but four decades on you can at last trip out to the very rarest UK cosmic doom album of the early 70s. This is the original Wooden Lion my friends, rescued from oblivion for you.
CD Liner-notes

1. She Paints Strange Pictures - 5:36
2. Hero - 1,11,111 - 5:36
3. Now The Day Is Over (Roy Wood, Gareth Kiddier, Johnny Lyons) - 5:34
4. Ice Maiden - 6:47
5. McAlistaire's Phantom - Parts 1,11,111 - 9:30
All songs by Roy Wood except track #3

The Wooden Lion
*John Phillips - Vocals
*Roy Wood - Lead, Slide Guitar, Vocals
*Johnny Lyons - Bass
*Gareth Kiddier - 12 String Acoustic Guitar
*Wal Mansfield - Drums

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Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Dave Miller Set - The Mr Guy Fawkes 1967-70

(Removed by Frenzy Music request)

Frenzy Music said... 
I request that you take down the post for The Dave Miller Set CD as released by RPM/Frenzy. It has taken 5 years to coordinate this release from Warner Music in Australia and ensure that Dave gets a good deal. Dave has had numerous problems in the last few years and is relying on healthy sales of this CD to help him through a difficult time. Thanking you in advance. Grant Gillanders (Frenzy Music) and Mark Stratford (RPM).

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Lee Pickens - Lee Pickens Group (1973 us, tight hard rock, 2010 digi pak remaster)

After leaving Bloodrock in '72, Lee Pickens put LPG together, and it certainly wasn't a commercial success. It was more of an artistic success. Comparing LPG to Trower's and Beck's as a better listening experience, it falls in between. LPG had all original songs written by the band, one titled "I Can't Stand it" has the same title as Trower's, both different but great tunes. LPG had a better vocalist then BBA, but James Dewar's vocals were miles ahead of both. 

Lee Pickens guitar work is great, and the songs the band wrote, give him plenty of room to explore his unique style and great tone. Lee's band is tight throughout, and all the players, Bass, Keyboard and Drummer add to the mix of funk, hard rock and country rock. One song, my favorite on LPG "It's Not Right" is a Funk Jazz-rock Monster. LPG may not have been a commercial success, but it was solid and Rockin', unfortunately , Capitol Records pulled the plug on Lee and LPG. A shame really, Lee was/is a great guitarist and that was the last time most of us heard his guitar sing.
by K. M. Barker

1. You'd Better Stop (Milton Walters) - 3:16
2. Sail Away (Lee Pickens) - 3:17
3. She's My Lover (Eddie Deston) - 4:16
4. It's Not Right (Milton Walters, Eddie Deston) - 5:28
5. I Can't Stand It (Eddie Deston) - 3:05
6. Hold On To Me (Eddie Deston) - 6:59
7. 2 Degress South (Charlie Bassman, Milton Walters) - 4:41
8. Ten After Never (Lee Pickens) - 3:13
9. Thumbs Up (Gary Owen) - 4:46

*Lee Pickens - Guitar
*Eddie Deaton – Vocals, Guitar, Organ
*Charlie Bassman – Drums, Congas, Vocals
*Gary Owen – Bass, Vocals
*Milton Walters – Keyboards, Vocals

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Friday, December 1, 2017

Southern Comfort - Southern Comfort (1971 uk, splendid folk country rock, 2017 reissue)

Southern Comfort haven t found the going easy since Ian Matthews left them 18 months ago, but they are anxious not to let it get them down. Their main problem is that the public have taken a long time to forget Matthews, and think of the split as being quite recent. They brought out one hasty album, Frog City, to offset Matthews' departure, but the new one has obviously had a lot more thought and planning out into it.

Gordon Huritley's pedal steel guitar and Mark Griffiths on mandolin do much to add to the individual charm of the album, and probably save it from becoming too near to pop. However, the group don't see themselves in that light at all. "We did some dates in Scotland recently," Mark Griffiths says, "but they weren't too good because it was obvious the audience were expecting a pop group, and didn't know what to make of us."

They did better in the States, where their type of music is going down well at the moment. Their first album was released there just before the tour with the Faces and Deep Purple, and sold well. To support the new album in Britain, they are making a short documentary film, playing some numbers from the album, to be shown in cinemas between the feature films. But they are still worrying about their receptions in this country.

"It's a really strange situation here. It's been a long time trying to forget about Ian, and we've found it hard trying to find a path for ourselves and be accepted. We don't see Ian as any opposition, although there must be some split loyalties among any fans we had. There was never any doubt about us carrying on when Ian left, although his departure was sudden. We've changed a lot, added different instruments. Now we use keyboards and mandolin, when before we depended more on the pedal steel.

We got over the voice difficulty. Too. Ian has a distinctive voice, but we think that Carl Barnwell has a good one too. Carl writes most of the material with me.

So now Southern Comfort are working their way round Britain, trying to build up their name, and face life without Ian Matthews. Ian is currently working with a new unit called Plainsong, and doesn’t see Southern Comfort as any kind of opposition or competition, because he is not choosing to look at things that way, although other might. In fact, his music with Plainsong is surprisingly different from what you might expect from him, after being conditioned to Southern Comfort.
Disc, January 22nd 1972

1. River Woman (Carl Barnwell) - 4:21
2. I Wanna Be Your Mama Again (Doug Sahm) - 3:46
3. Josephine's Biscuit (Carl Barnwell, Mark Griffiths) - 4:32
4. Moganbo/Devil's Canyon (Mark Griffiths) - 5:02
5. Cosmic Jig (Mark Griffiths) - 3:06
6. Lily Brown (Carl Barnwell) - 4:48
7. Russian River (Mark Griffiths) - 2:29
8. Ol' Rudd (Carl Barnwell) - 3:35
9. Harlem Girl (Carl Barnwell) - 4:12
10.I Don't Know (Mark Griffiths) - 2:50
11.Good Ol' 2-6-2 (Mark Griffiths) - 4:50

The Southern Comfort
*Andrew Leigh - Bass, Vocals
*Ray Duffy - Drums
*Carl Barnwell - Vocals, Guitar, Piano
*Mark Griffiths - Guitar, Vocals, Harp, Mandolin, Organ
*Gordon Huntley - Pedal Steel Guitar
*Ray Duffy - Percussion

Related Acts
1970  Andrew Leigh - Magician (2011 remaster) 
1970  Matthew's Southern Comfort - Later That Same Year (2008 remaster) 

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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Tales Of Justine - Petals From A Sunflower Complete Recordings (1967-69 uk, wonderful delicate swinging psychedelia, 2016 remaster)

Tales Of Justine were one of those bands that came along at the outset of UK Psychedelia in the mid to late 60s but their pop dabbling soon lost them the “head” audience as the fashion went more towards heavy, experimental jamming rather than their snappy but trippy songs. Though they (and bands like them), never quite cut the mustard with the hip crowd back then, time on the whole has been kind to them and the type of “caught between two stools” late 60s Psych-Pop that they turned out has subsequently found favour with people all over the world that were too young to experience the Summer Of Love themselves, but wise to the value of a good tune well performed. That’s the odd thing about Psychedelia in broad terms – it worked as expansive, highly experimental underground music but somehow also as an intricate, “instant-nostalgia” pop art format. Justine clearly fitted comfortably into the later group.

With a past that dated back to Potters Bar beat band the Sound Of Silence, Tales Of Justine were spearheaded by the talented David Daltrey, singer, guitarist and yes, relative of the ‘orrible ‘Oo’s Roger. After a brief time as the Court Jesters, they assumed the Tales Of Justine name and hit the early 60s Psychedelic scene that was taking off in clubs such as Middle Earth and the Electric Garden, in the hope that they could become leading lights in the mode of emerging stars Pink Floyd. They were in truth far more traditional in their approach, very pop-orientated indeed and as the evidence here displays, far the better for it.

During the summer of 67 they were espied in concert by Tim Rice, who quickly came to realise their potential. Rice, who along with his partner the awful Andrew Lloyd Webber would of course go on to write some highly lucrative and bafflingly successful musicals, was at this time keeping a keen eye on the pop scene for any rising talent in his role at EMI A&R.Daltrey and Co clearly fitted the bill. He quickly signed them up to a management contract and also got their monikers on the dotted line with his record company overlords too. Success only looked a short step away for Tales Of Justine, but it didn’t quite turn out that way….

Sharing some common ground with fellow Psych-Pop would-be wunderkinds Muswell Hill’s Turquoise (the makers of “Tales Of Flossie Fillett”, who benefited from some association with their near neighbours the Kinks), TOJ specialised in a whimsical and stately version of Psychedelia, but they were not adverse to throwing in the odd mind-melting Freakbeat-esque effort when it pleased them (the stop-start “Sunday School” and the rough version of “Evil Woman” are both somewhat in that mode, some cracking fuzz guitar included in both). 

Though the Rice/Lloyd Weber patronage got them into Abbey Road to record (which explains the high sound quality on this lovingly-realised collection) it couldn’t even get them more than one record released. In truth the A side “Arthur” was far from being their best material, being a merely ok bit of nursery rhyme of Psychedelia, which does not display them in their best light at all. It is hardly suprising that it did not make an impact in the winter of 67 when the charts were awash with this kind of thing (Rice admits on the sleeve-notes that they should have flipped the sides with “Monday Morning”, a nifty piece of Mod guitar pop with way more appeal, being far the better of the two recordings on the single). What is harder to understand is why no-one at EMI thought that anything else they set down at Abbey Road over the two year period documented here other than those two tracks warranted any further exposure?

But of course the single flopped and that was the end of Tales Of Justine, as far as officially released material was concerned anyway. Despite that they recorded repeatedly over the next year or so and those recordings that never saw the light of day at the time make up the bulk of this compilation. The sad thing though is that the potential of the band is clear to see. A case in point is the goofy but wonderful “Come To Me Softly” (actually a David Daltrey solo) – nonsense female vocals, parping horns and a crashing guitar which prefigures cousin Rog’s “We Won’t Get Fooled Again”, all adding up to an attractive and totally adorable novelty. 

The “Victorian Music-Box” sound of “Sitting On A Blunestone” is another joy to the ears and “Pathway” has the kind of melodramatic, highly orchestrated and well-arranged (probably down to Lloyd Weber I suppose, I’ll give him that) feel that gave the Walker Brothers so much success in the same period. Very well sung too. The “bad trip” story of “Eleventh Obsolete Incident” is also outstanding and would have made a fine single, like most of the tracks here (which again makes you wonder why they plumped for “Arthur”?). In an alternate world, they would have been a hit machine.

This collection contains everything that Tales Of Justine laid down on tape at the time, along with a couple of solo David Daltrey recordings, all which glisten with the hope and heady atmosphere of that moment nearly 50 years back now. You also get the full, convoluted story in David Wells’ excellent sleeve-notes in the booklet (Wells’ release of the same name on his Tenth Plant imprint nearly 20 years ago presented more Tales Of Justine material for the first time and forms the backbone of what is presented here) to accompany the jaw-dropping beauty on show here amongst the songs. 

Tales Of Justine never made more than a ripple at the time but this set does deserves much more – the 60s flower children missed out on some great tunes. A combination of bad luck, bad timings and bad advice contributed to their eventual fate, but we can be thankful that what has endured in the dank vaults at EMI for all those years has finally seen the light of day. They were brilliant at times were Tales Of Justine and now we can finally tell.
by Ian Canty

1. Albert - 2:54
2. Monday Morning - 3:24
3. Eleventh Obsolete Incident - 3:03
4. Sitting On A Blunestone - 2:39
5. Sunday School - 3:25
6. Evil Woman (David Daltrey, Paul Myerson) - 3:33
7. Music To Watch Us By - 3:06
8. So Happy - 3:15
9. Morpheus - 4:07
10.Aurora - 2:56
11.Something Special - 2:45
12.Pathway - 3:47
13.Saturn - 3:23
14.Jupiter - 2:19
15.If This Is Love - 2:57
16.Easy To Be Hard (Galt MacDermot, Gerome Ragni, James Rado) - 3:03
17.Come Softly To Me (Gretchen Christopher, Barbara Ellis, Gary Troxel) - 2:41
18.Obsolete Incident - 2:40
19.Evil Woman (Alternative Version) (David Daltrey, Paul Myerson) - 3:32
20.Albert - 2:56
21.So Much Love To Give You - 3:31
All songs by David Daltrey except where indicated
Tracks 16-17 David Daltrey solo recordings

Tales Of Justine
*David Daltrey - Vocals, Electric, Acoustic Guitars, Bass, piano, Mellotron, Sitar, Celeste
*Paul Myerson - Organ, Bass, Celeste, Vocals
*Bruce Hurford - Drums (1967)
*Paul Locke - Drums (1968-69)

1967-69  Tales Of Justine - Petals From A Sunflower (Vinyl issue) 

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Monday, November 27, 2017

Jackson Browne - For Everyman (1973 us, fascinating country folk rock, 2004 remaster)

For inwardly panoramic songwriting of an apocalyptic bent, Jackson Browne's second album is rivaled only by his first (the second one wins), and Jackson himself is rivaled by nobody. His work is a unique fusion of West Coast casualness and East Coast paranoia, easygoing slang and painstaking precision, child's-eye romanticizing and adult's-eye acceptance. He can expand explicit experience until it takes on the added dimension of an overview, or he can philosophize with such intimacy that every generality becomes a private truth. Either way, his songs hang suspended in an extraordinary twilight zone between reality and myth.

For Everyman further establishes Jackson as a purebred Seventies intelligence, though it also includes some of his precocious late Sixties material. He is the first major songwriter to have emerged with the knowledge that the battles Bob Dylan depicted a decade ago are either over or too ambiguous to be worth fighting any more. But unlike most older writers, he is not yet ready to retreat into merely mining the realm of private problems for subject matter. He has internalized the remains of those larger struggles and still dares to hope for solutions.

Nevertheless, he has progressed beyond the proselytizing stage, as the stunningly eloquent title cut carefully indicates. "For Everyman" is a more thoughtful, less impetuous reworking of "Rock Me on the Water"; both songs provide visions of the apocalypse, but this time the image is significantly altered "Rock Me" was a fiery youthful fantasy shot through with contempt ("Oh, people, look around you . . . "), dreams of escape ("While your walls are burnin', your towers are turnin'/I'm gonna leave you here, and try to get down to the sea somehow"), and nervous premonitions that escape might be just one more illusion ("Everyone must have some thought — That's gonna pull them through somehow").

"For Everyman" presents the crisis in gentler terms ("Everybody I talk to is ready to leave. With the light of the morning . . . " and offers an impassioned disc aner of special wisdom ("I'm not trying to tell you that I've seen the plan/Turn and walk away if you think I am"). Most notably, the renegade spirit who once dreamed of being bathed by "the sisters of the sun" while everything around him went up in flames is now ready to be left behind on the eve of the exodus — "holding sand," weighing "all my fine dreams, well thought-out schemes to gain the Motherland," and realizing that this time patience may make more sense than flight.

The daydreamer who waits to discover in himself the essence of "Everyman" is curiously suspended in time. He sits just shy of maturity, and will not progress until the object of his search takes clearer shape. Yet his childhood is over, however much he may long for "that place in the sun/Where a sweet child is still dancing." Jackson himself seems equally divided between teacher and searcher, mock-adult and mock-child, and one of his finest songs toys with the irony of his trying to play both roles at once.

In his best rocker, "Ready Or Not," he assumes one guise after another; the song sounds like the album's most sardonic fantasy, though it's actually the closest he comes to detailing a true story. His girl is pregnant, and he narrates the tale most comfortably by playing naive: "Someone's gonna have to explain it to me. I don't know what it means." He met the mother-to-be in a bar, "doing my very best Bogart," affecting sophistication. But after an initial show of bravado he's suddenly helpless again, posing (as in "Jamaica Say You Will") as passive, irresponsible, a child: "Next thing I remember she was all moved in, and I was buying her a washing machine."

Even when he asks the song's key question, the innocence is a sham: "Take a look in my eyes and tell me, brother/If I look like I'm ready . . .?" Why is he asking? The "not" of the title becomes all the more emphatic for remaining unspoken, despite the song's somewhat forced happy ending. (When Jackson performs it in concert, he turns the "rock & roll bad man" of the last line into a "rock & roll asshole," seemingly as uncomfortable with his tough-guy role as he is with any of the others.)

"Ready Or Not"'s final resolution rings a little false because it disrupts the pattern of descent that figures into Jackson's other songs. Most of his melodies build up their energy at the start of each line, wear down by line's end, then regroup and try again, once he's caught his breath. His lyrics often follow a similar scheme, starting off with something reasonably definite and then floating off into troublesome ambiguities.

"The Times You've Come," the album's sweetly erotic heartbreaker, takes the pattern of descent even further, exploring it on both spiritual and sexual levels. The title verb takes on progressively more sexual meaning, building up to a wonderfully evocative chorus (sung with Bonnie Raitt), then trailing off into post-orgasmic reverie. Meanwhile, the song begins with a relatively matter-of-fact assessment of the risks entailed in a relationship ("we've lost as much as we have won"), then falls further and further away from the concrete.

The final verse offers up a sense of sexual security, pauses, and then proceeds to undermine the calm with an ominous note to which the spirit has descended while the body was preoccupied: "Now we're lying here, so safe in the ruins of our pleasure/Laughter marks the place where we have fallen/And our lives are near, so it wouldn't occur to us to wonder/Is this the past or the future that is calling?"

For all the pessimism those lines imply, For Everyman also develops a faith in the writer's own ability to check his fall. Although the title cut rejects relatively traditional means of uplift ("that strong but gentle Father's hand"), in "Our Lady of the Well" he creates his own secular sacrament, once again placing faith in the ritual and restorative powers of water, which lent such mystical resonance to his last album. Back of the bus, Bob Heinlein.

Despite themes that bind many of its songs together, For Everyman is essentially a collection rather than an album, most of the songs are so complete that they resist Jackson's attempts to run them together (although "Sing My Songs to Me" is an exception, a longish fragment that serves to introduce the daydream spirit of the title cut).

So not everything fits smoothly, although even the jarring moments work in a positive way. The early songs, for instance, serve as fascinating keys to why Jackson — who was good to begin with — has gotten so much better. "These Days" is an elegantly composed exercise in sulky defensiveness, "Colors of the Sun" an oversimplified, childish indictment. Each is too single-minded to measure up to his current level of complexity, but their presence underscores the strength of his mature synthesis by demonstrating the emotional purity of its components.

"Take It Easy," the one song here that is not entirely Jackson's own — it was Glen Frey, of the Eagles, who was standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona — is the only cut whose melody actually outshines its lyrics. Jackson can usually turn street talk around to his own advantage, restoring cliches to their original meanings and arriving at an amazingly loose form of expression. (Sometimes he makes up phrases so natural they sound like street cliches the first time you hear them.) But the glibness gets out of hand in parts of "Take It Easy," and even more so in "Redneck Friend," which sounds like too deliberate an attempt to create a single by someone whose art, even at its most casual, remains too complex for strictly AM audiences. Still, "Redneck Friend" inadvertently offers up a line that's a concise, albeit conservative, estimation of the whole album's merits: "Eleven on a scale of ten."

Jackson's musicianship still lags behind his extraordinary abilities as a poet. Although his melodies blend beautifully with the mood and cadence of his lyrics, both tunes and arrangements seem shaped around the words. But the best arrangements here are effective on a startlingly deep level. "For Everyman" begins and ends with a low rumble from Russ Kunkel, then bursts out into a high-spirited release that mirrors the spirit of the song's resolution, simultaneously joyful and cautious. "Colors of the Sun" has an eerie, dirge-like quality that creates just enough tension to offset the song's more grandiose moments.

Even the more conventional arrangements work wonderfully well, with most of the spark coming from David Lindley, the guitar/fiddle jack-of-all-strings who also functions as Jackson's house wizard. The album has no official producer (Jackson thinks that's an unnecessary function, says the whole thing just "trickled out"), but most of it sounds like a brilliant, if understated, composite of the author's fluid downward progressions and Lindley's euphoric whimsy.

His singing has greatly improved since the last album, showing off a new expressiveness in his more soulful moments (particularly "These Times You've Come") and hitting the high notes with much more confidence and energy than before. He still doesn't write for his own voice, though; either that, or he sometimes can't play (especially piano) in whatever key he would sing best in. He often couples descending verses with choruses that shoot upward, and while the split evokes both a waking-dreaming polarity and an attempt to check downward drifting, it also forces him into the sort of low notes he can only mumble.

But every last note here, singable or otherwise, has a special resonance. Jackson's concerns, even more than his.
by Janet Maslin, November 22, 1973

1. Take It Easy - 3:52
2. Our Lady Of The Well - 3:39
3. Colors Of The Sun - 4:17
4. I Thought I Was A Child - 3:45
5. These Days - 4:47
6. Redneck Friend - 3:59
7. The Times You've Come - 3:39
8. Ready Or Not - 3:36
9. Sing My Songs To Me - 3:25
10.For Everyman - 6:12
All compositions by Jackson Browne except track #1, co-written with Glenn Frey

*Jackson Browne - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Piano, Rhythm Guitar
*David Crosby - Harmony Vocals
*Craig Doerge - Piano
*Wilton Felder - Bass Guitar
*Glenn Frey - Harmony Vocals
*Doug Haywood - Bass, Harmony Vocals
*Don Henley - Harmony Vocals
*Elton John - Piano
*Jim Keltner - Drums
*Sneaky Pete Kleinow - Pedal Steel
*Russ Kunkel - Drums
*David Lindley - Acoustic Guitar, Electric Fiddle, Electric Guitar, Lap Steel Guitar
*Gary Mallaber - Drums
*Mickey Mcgee - Drums
*Joni Mitchell - Electric Piano
*Spooner Oldham - Organ
*David Paich - Piano
*Bill Payne - Piano
*Bonnie Raitt - Harmony Vocals
*Leland Sklar - Bass
*Mike Utley - Organ

1972  Jackson Browne - Saturate Before Using 
1974  Jackson Browne - Late For The Sky ( 2014 remaster)

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Sunday, November 26, 2017

Original Sloth Band - Whoopee After Midnight (1973 canada, fine blues jazz ragtime jug bluegrass, 2011 korean remaster)

This is a collection of songs recorded as The Original Sloth Band would play them live - without overdubbing.

The first song is an old fiddle tune. Learned from Chet Parker's hammered dulcimer version "The New Heartbreak Blues" is roughly based on Gus Cannon's "Heart Breaking News" with a few words from Willie McTell. Fats Waller was the inspiration for "The Sheik of Araby". "Heaven" has been recorded by Flatt & Scruggs, among others (notably Red Allen & The Kentuckians on County). "The Johnson Rag" was adapted from Jimmy Dorsey and his Dorseyland Band's version, featuring the inimitable Claire "Shanty" Hogan. Probably the only other version of "I Just Want To Be Horizontal" is by Pat Flower and his Rhythm. "Stealin' " is from the most prolific of the old jug bands: The Memphis Jug Band.

Side Two opens with the old Coon & Saunder's Nighthawk's hit, "Rhythm King". "Get A Job" is by that traditional folk group, The Silhouettes. More than one source went into "The How Long Blues" but it owes its greatest debt to Franki "Half-pint" Jaxon. We found "Vulture..." at a Kiwanis Club rummage sale. "Mandolin King Rag" is in honour of the original mandolin king, Ex-King Thug III of Belgravia. "Coming In Glory" is from the singing of Fred Price, Clint Howard, and Doc Watson. "Buddha's Got The Blues" comes from the hot sleepy delta land of southern North York.

Back in the mid sixties of the last century, in the hot, sleepy delta land of southern North York, the Original Sloth Band began. Brothers Chris and Ken Whiteley and their friend Tom Evans started what was originally a jug band called Tubby Fats Original All Star Downtown Syncopated Big Rock Jug Band.

By 1973 they were known as the Original Sloth Band. At the forefront of independent recording, they released their first album, "Whoopee After Midnight." It was an incredibly eclectic mix of styles ranging through jug band to swing, fiddle tunes to doo wop, obscure songs from the 20's, 30's and 40's, bluegrass and more. Between the three of them they played 17 different instruments, all recorded live off the floor.

In 1975 the "Sloths" were back in the studio recording "Hustlin' and Bustlin." This time out they added string bass and drums to some tracks and were focusing more on early blues, jazz and jug band music. The early 1970s also marked their emergence in the burgeoning folk festival scene. They went on to prominence at festivals across Canada and in the United States.

Their third album was recorded and mixed by Daniel Lanois and featured contributions from the legendary Chicago blues pianist Blind John Davis. Titled for the year of its recording and release, "1978" demonstrated their growing musical sophistication while retaining their funky, old time roots. Also in 1978, they recorded with Leon Redbone on his album "Champagne Charlie" touring with him and appearing together on the famed television show "Saturday Night Live."

The following year Ken Whiteley recorded a gospel album, "Up Above My Head" which enlisted the support of his fellow Sloth Band members and also added the vocal harmonies of a trio of women calling themselves the Honolulu Heartbreakers. For the next two years they began doing shows as an 8 piece ensemble! 

After 1981, Chris and Ken both began pursuing other musical ventures. However they would still get the Original Sloth Band together for special engagements. The band gave it's last performance just a year and a half before Tom Evans' untimely death in 2009.

Chris and Ken Whiteley are both still very active in the Canadian musical scene. Chris has been focusing on his work with blues artist Diana Braithwaite. Ken is noted for his blues and gospel performances, his work in children's music and his record production. From time to time, though Chris and Ken will perform together and echoes of those early jug band blues, Original Sloth Band days will ring out once again.
CD Liner Notes

1. Temperance Reel - 1:09
2. The New Heartbreak Blues - 2:52
3. The Sheik Of Araby - 2:45
4. Heaven - 2:21
5. The Johnson Rag - 2:04
6. (I Just Want To Be) Horizontal - 2:59
7. Stealin' - 2:38
8. Rhythm King - 2:10
9. Get A Job - 1:26
10.How Long Blues - 2:35
11.I'm A Vulture (For Horticulture) - 3:05
12.Mandolin King Rag - 1:15
13.He's Coming In Glory - 2:21
14.Buddha's Got The Blues - 2:07
All compositions by Tom Evans, Chris Whiteley, Ken Whiteley

The Original Sloth Band
*Tom Evans - Mandolin, Clarinet, Tenor, Soprano Sax, Vocals,, Triangle
*Chris Whiteley - Trumpet, Harmonica, Bass Harmonica, Guitar, Vocals
*Ken Whiteley - Guitar, Mandolin, Washboard, Jug, Accordion, Vocals

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Friday, November 24, 2017

Tim Hardin - Tim Hardin 2 (1967 us, gorgeous melodic folk rock, 2006 reissue)

It’s fair to say Tim Hardin’s surge of creativity between ’66 and ’67 produced some of the decade’s best songwriting. While his debut album, Tim Hardin 1, feels rushed – most songs clock in at two minutes with splatters of orchestral strings over simple lyricism – Tim Hardin 2 paints a more complete picture.

Hardin’s hit parade was squandered by Bobby Darin’s rendition of the record’s opener, “If I Were A Carpenter.” Darin broke the Top 10 with “Carpenter” in ’66, which Hardin was unaware of until he heard it on his car radio. It’s a mere imitation of Hardin’s plaintive vocals, which were modeled after jazz pianist Mose Allison and country singer Lefty Fizzell.

“If I were a carpenter and you were a lady/ Would you marry me anyway, would you have my baby,” Hardin sings. It’s a question directed at Susan Morss, his lover and muse. On the album cover, she palms her swollen stomach as he peers out at the back courtyard of their Spanish house in L.A.

Hardin met Morss, whom he calls “Susan Moore,” when she was acting on the soap opera The Young Marrieds. They hooked up at the disapproval of her father, a former major-general in the Army and a prosecutor in New Jersey. On “The Lady Came from Baltimore,” Hardin describes him as a man who “read the law” and believes that Hardin marries “Susan Moore” to “steal her money.”

Despite Hardin’s affection for Morss, his relationship with heroin (which he describes in “Red Balloon”) proved to be overwhelming, and within three years his life as a “family man” ended. “Bought myself a red balloon and got a blue surprise,” he lulls over the song’s haunting chords. But it’s not all so dark; his brightness is very much alive on “See Where You Are and Get Out” and “Black Sheep Boy.”

Hardin tried to stop using prior to the birth of their son Damion in ’67. He seems painfully aware of nearing fatherhood in the songs “Baby Close Its Eyes” and “Speak Like a Child,” where he parallels his state to Hank Williams’ death: “Goodbye Hank Williams my friend/ I didn’t know you but I’ve been the places you’ve been.” “Tribute to Hank Williams” concludes the album, delicately sketching a farewell to Williams that’s oddly reflective of his own goodbye – Hardin overdosed on December 29, 1980.

Every muse has a lifespan, and it’s certainly true for Hardin, whose songwriting did not thrive after Morss took Damion and left him at his home in Woodstock. His drug use soon increased and his writing dried up. Tim Hardin 2  opens a window into his short-lived genius.
by James K. Williamson

1. If I Were A Carpenter - 2:44
2. Red Balloon - 2:36
3. Black Sheep Boy - 1:56
4. Lady Came From Baltimore - 1:52
5. Baby Close Its Eyes - 1:55
6. You Upset The Grace Of Living When You Lie - 1:49
7. Speak Like A Child - 3:17
8. See Where You Are And Get Out - 1:14
9. It's Hard To Believe In Love for Long - 2:18
10.Tribute To Hank Williams - 3:13
Music and Lyrics by Tim Hardin

Tim Hardin – Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards

1966-68  Tim Hardin - The Millennium Collection (2002 issue)
1969-70  Tim Hardin - Suite For Susan Moore / Bird On The Wire
1972  Tim Hardin - Painted Head (2007 japan remaster)

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