sâmbătă, 28 februarie 2009

The Flower Pot Men - Let's Go to San Francisco (1967)

This British group was an outgrowth of mid-'60s pop group the Ivy League. Songwriting partners John Carter and Ken Lewis wrote, produced and performed "Let's Go to San Francisco" and licensed it out to Deram, who had an international hit with it as the Summer of Love was just winding down. The pair released four more singles, including one under the moniker Friends. None were hits and the group dissolved in 1970. Though they were extremely derivative of the then-au courant West Coast sound (especially the post-surf Beach Boys), the group managed to come up with some worthwhile tracks that showed a talent for smooth pop in a variety of modes (folkish, progressive, psychedelic, etc.) albeit with little rock backbone.
The most comprehensive collection around, this has all their singles (most notably, the extended version of the Pet Sounds-influenced title track and a fantastic 1968 B-side, "You Can Never Be Wrong,") and 11 tracks not released until the '80s and '90s, some from an aborted album project. Though it can't really be called essential, much of the Flower Pot Men's legacy will nevertheless be enjoyable to lovers of '60s pop, who will be able to spot traces of the Beach Boys, the Turtles, the Left Banke, the Easybeats, the Zombies, the Move, the Moody Blues and others. (AMG).

Tracklist :
1. Let's Go to San Francisco (Pts. 1 & 2)
2. A Walk in the Sky
3. Am I Losing You
4. Man Without a Woman
5. You Can Never Be Wrong
6. Piccolo Man
7. Mythological Sunday
8. In a Moment of Madness
9. Young Birds Fly
10. Sweet Baby Janes
11. Journey's End
12. Silicon City
13. Busy Doin' Nothing
14. White Dove
15. Let's Go to San Francisco pt.1
16. Let's Go to San Francisco pt.2
17. Cooks of Cake and Kindness
18. Gotta Be Free
19. Heaven Knows When
20. Brave New World
21. Children of Tomorrow

vineri, 27 februarie 2009

The Paupers - Magic People (1967)

In 1967 the great band from the North released their debut record. The Paupers, along with the Guess Who, were one of the first Canadian bands to capitalize on the British Invasion. They started releasing singles in 1965 with a lineup consisting of Denny Gerrard (Bass), Skip Prokop (Drums), Bill Marion (Guitars) and Chuck Beal (Guitars). Prokop and Marion handled all the songwriting chores on their first clutch of singles.
Their early sound was a classy mixture of roots music, blues and folk-rock (think early Byrds or Lovin’ Spoonful crossed with the Blues Project circa 1965). The band began rehearsing 14 hours a day, honing their setlist and evolving into one of the tightest bands around. They hit the hip Yorkville District of Canada, playing to packed out venues daily and in return this gained them immense popularity. Rumor has it that the Paupers blew the mighty Jefferson Airplane off stage one night. In 1966/1967, Bill Marion exited the band for reasons unknown, prompting the Paupers to recruit Adam Mitchell. Mitchell (guitar and vocals) proved to be an excellent songwriting partner for Prokop, and at this point the band set out to create their debut lp.
Magic People has a good mid 60’s sound and is anchored by the band’s folk-rock leanings. There are a trio of good psychedelic sunshine pop fuzz rockers on the record. These songs, Magic People, It’s Your Mind and Think I Care, are highlighted by Prokop’s distinct drum patterns, special guitar effects, and great raga soloing. The only dud on the album is One Rainy Day, which is a jaunty good time Lovin’ Spoonful rocker. The remaining six songs are good to great folk-rockers, that recall the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and the Beau Brummels. The catchy You and Me feels like a throw back to a 1965 Byrds or Brummels folk-rock sound. Tudor Impressions is excellent, reflective, and abstract, including horns, sparkling accoustic guitars and a Beach Boys-like harmony pop ending. Black Thank You Package and My Love Hides From Your View have a great outsider feel. Black Thank You Package has a distinct, exciting intro and a catchy chorus while My Love Hides is an absolute haunting masterpiece of acid-folk. (RisingStorm.net).

Tracklist :
1. Magic People
2. It's Your Mind
3. Black Thank You Package
4. Let Me Be
5. Think I Care
6. One Rainy Day
7. Tudor Impressions
8. Simple Deed
9. My Love Hides Your View
10. You And Me

joi, 26 februarie 2009

Paul Revere and The Raiders - Revolution! (1967)

No other rock & roll band has experienced the rollercoaster ups and downs in reputation that Paul Revere & the Raiders have known across 40 years in music. One of the most popular and entertaining groups of the 1960s, they enjoyed 10 years of serious chart action, and during their three biggest years (1966-69) got as much radio play as any group of that decade, sold records in numbers second only to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, and received nearly as much coverage in the music press of the period (which included a lot of teen fan magazines) as the Beatles or the Rolling Stones. Yet when most histories of rock started getting written, Paul Revere & the Raiders were scarcely mentioned -- at best, they were usually a footnote to the boom years of the late '60s.
If not as consistently a knockout as Spirit of '67, Revolution! is nevertheless right on its heels, containing as it does an even greater degree of pop experimentation within the form. Suffice to say that this group managed to make the transition from the simple, tough R&B-flavored rock they helped found to the more psychedelic popcraft/acidic majesty that soon unfolded behind the 1964-1965 Beatles' lead. And if Spirit is the Raiders' Revolver, then Revolution! is their less wacked-out Sgt. Pepper. Beginning with one of their most supreme moments — the rough-and-tumble, aggressive yet amazingly catchy "Him or Me — What's It Gonna Be" — the LP takes the same twists and turns as its predecessor through a multitude of entertaining styles, from the sharp laze blues of "Reno" to the quintessential upbeat smack of "Mo'reen" and especially "Gone-Movin' On." Through it all, bandleader Mark Lindsay is a minor marvel. Lindsay may not have been blessed with a classic pop voice croon, but his exciting lower-range grunt and snarl compliments his upper-range prettier voice in a way that adds bushels of unfiltered attitude. His gutsy, versatile style totally blends with the rough edges of both the production and playing, which belies the more gilded pop moments. Lindsay is the glue that holds what would have been a willy-nilly collection together. Truly 1967 was the most magical year in pure pop history. But if many with-it fans have already bathed in the unbelievable sonic pleasures of that year, far too few have given the Raiders their rightful place in this pantheon, even though they certainly held such a place in their time. There can be no reason for this oversight to continue, for here is the evidence once again laid bare. (AMG).

Tracklist :
1. Him Or Me (What's It Gonna Be)
2. Reno
3. Upon Your Leaving
4. Mo'reen
5. Wanting You
6. Gone - Movin' On
7. I Had A Dream
8. Tighter
9. Make It With Me
10. Ain't Nobody Who Can Make It Like Leslie Can
11. I Hear A Voice

miercuri, 25 februarie 2009

Stained Glass - Crazy Horse Roads (1969)

The wonderful world of Crazy Horse Roads, released in 1969 by Stained Glass, has been unjustly forgotten with the passing of time. The band started out life covering Beatles songs in San Jose, California. Their first single, a cover of the Beatles’ If I Needed Someone was released in 1966. It was a respectable cover of the Beatle’s classic though the flip was better, being a moody folk-rock original.
The single tanked, prompting the band to quickly release the self-penned My Buddy Sin later on that year. My Buddy Sin was an excellent folk rock song with wailing harmonica, soaring harmonies, sharp lyrics and an acid tinged production. This single failed to attract attention despite it’s quality, forcing the band to record a brill building classic for their next 45.
In the 1960’s, artists and rock bands depended on the success of the single to grant them artistic and creative control/freedom (making albums). We Got A Long Way To Go was a huge local hit, well executed, pleasant enough and professional, though betraying the band’s roots and creative aspirations. A few other decent though commercially unsuccessful singles followed in the psychedelic pop vein. Eventually the band was granted freedom to record two albums on the Capital label.
Crazy Horse Roads is a unique effort, and much different from their jam oriented Aurora album. There are some solid psych pop songs (Night Cap, Twiddle My Thumbs and Fingerpainting), soul rock (Two Make One and Fahrenheit), galloping country-rock (Horse On Me) and hard folk-rockers (Light Down Below, Doomsday, I Sing You Sing, and Soap and Turkey). Doomsday really stands out as the lost mini classic though, with some huge vibrating fuzz riffs, hard strumming accoustic guitars, tight harmonies and a psychedelic production. Night Cap is also a really good bouncy, twisted psych pop song with a British influence. You never know whats coming next throughout the album and the band’s sound resembles Moby Grape, HMS Bounty and Buffalo Springfield.
Jim McPherson, the founding member of Stained Glass, went on to form Copperhead with Quicksilver’s John Cippolina. Together they made one expensive (for the time), quality album that was overlooked in it’s day. (RisingStorm.net).

Tracklist :
1. I Sing You Sing; 2. Finger Painting; 3. Soap and Turkey; 4. Twiddle My Thumbs; 5. Fahrenheit; 6. Nightcap; 7. Horse on Me; 8. Two Make One; 9. Light Down Below; 10. Piggy Back Ride and the Camel; 11. Doomsday

marți, 24 februarie 2009

The Tokens - Intercourse (1971)

This Brooklyn doo wop group was originally known as the Linc-Tones when they formed in 1955 at Lincoln High School. Hank Medress, Neil Sedaka, Eddie Rabkin, and Cynthia Zolitin didn't have much impact in their early days recording for Melba. They later disbanded, but Medress re-formed the group in 1960 as the Tokens. Brothers Phil and Mitch Margo and Jay Siegel were now the members. They recorded for Warwick in 1960, then had their one glorious hit in 1962, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." It was based on the South African Zulu song "Wimoweh," and reached number seven on the R&B chart while topping the pop surveys. The Tokens formed their own label in 1964, B.T. Puppy, but weren't able to keep the hits coming very long, although "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" remains a standard.
The Tokens are generally thought of as the vocal group who brought their "Lion Sleeps Tonight" hit to yet another generation through the success of The Lion King. But what we have here is the great lost Tokens album, recorded in 1968 and promptly turned down by Warner Bros. To fill a contractual obligation, a few hundred copies were pressed up -- in a slightly altered form -- and the album pretty much remained an interesting catalog sighting before its CD-era reissue. What we also have here is a White doo wop group delivering an album that falls somewhere between Pet Sounds and Sgt. Pepper's. No wonder Warner didn't know what to make of it; previous attempts by other doo woppers at updating their sound produced some of the most laughable examples that the genre has to offer. But everything on here works in a very organic manner: all of the songs follow a neat continuum and could easily be termed as a humanistic song cycle, each one surrounded by late-'60s Beatlesque production values, right down to the massively compressed drum sounds and omnipresent tape saturation. Trippy, loopy, and totally of its time, classic doo wop this is not; great, however, it is. (AMG).

Tracklist :
1. It's Amazing to Be Alive
2. Droplet of Water
3. Bathroom Wall
4. Animal
5. Greenfields
6. Wonderful Things
7. Commercial
8. Gray Is Gray
9. Waiting For Something
10. I Could Be
11. Girl on 6
12. I Want to Make Love to You
13. In and Out
14. Stereo
15. You Loser You Fool
16. It's Amazing to Be Alive - Reprise
17. Some People Sleep

luni, 23 februarie 2009

Dead Sea Fruit - Dead Sea Fruit (1967)

Combining the deadpan wit of the Bonzo Dog Band and the social-conscious lyricism of the Kinks, Dead Sea Fruit helped to bring the British Invasion of the 1960s to France. Formed in 1966, the group spent three years based in Paris thrilling French audiences with their hook-laden songs. Although all but two members relocated to Dakar, Senegal, electric bassist/guitarist/vocalist Arthur Marsh, who had replaced founding member Christopher Hall in early 1967, returned to England after three months when club owners demanded that they stick to cover tunes. Dead Sea Fruit reached their apex in 1967, when their tongue-in-jowl single, "Lulu, Put Another Record On," reached the top position on the British music charts. Their self-titled album was released the same year. (AMG).

Tracklist :
1.The 815 And The 545; 2. Lulu, Put Another Record On; 3. Psychiatric Case; 4. Mr. Barman; 5. Matters; 6. Seeds Of Disconcent; 7. I'll Come With You; 8. I've Been Away Too Long; 9. Mr. Coffee Pot; 10. Time Waits For No One; 11. I Should Have Guessed; 12. Kesington High Street

duminică, 22 februarie 2009

Ro-D-Ys - Earnest Vocation (1968)

The Ro-d-ys were from the northern part of The Netherlands and were formed somewhere around 1965. The name Ro-d-ys was chosen after they heard there already was a band called The Rowdies. There very first single, released in 1966 flopped saleswise but got a lot of airplay. Their lucky break came with the follow up single "Take Her Home" in 1967. The succes continued with their best known single "Just Fancy" which was a hit late summer/early autumn 1967. In 1968 more quality singles were met with increasing lack of succes and after one more failed attempt with the beautiful and haunting single "Winter Woman" early 1969 the group called it quits. They released two albums, "Just Fancy"in 1967 and "Earnest Vocation" in 1968. If you like sixties rock with influences from The Beatles, The Kinks & The Yardbirds then this is it.
1968 had to be the year of the Ro-D-Ys.They released their more experimental psychedelic album Earnest vocationwich was produced by Hans van Hemert wich also produced the albums by Q65 and Group 1850.
The album was somewhat a concept album based around the story of The Little John by Frederik van Eeden(wich was a 19th/20th century writer) - a fantastical adventure of an everyman who grows up to face the harsh realities of the world around him and the emptiness of hopes for a better afterlife, but ultimately finding meaning in serving the good of those around him.
The album sold good,but the singles didn’t get any attention.

Tracklist :

1. Unforgettable Girl
2. Isn't It a Good Time
3. Love Is Almost Everywhere
4. Robinetta
5. No Place Like Home
6. Everytime a Second
7. Earnest Vocation
8. Easy Come, Easy Go
9. Look for Windchild
10. Let It Be Tomorrow
11. Dr. Sipher
12. Peace Ants

sâmbătă, 21 februarie 2009

Thorinshield - Thorinshield (1968)

Thorinshield is sometimes labeled a sunshine pop band by collectors, but though they share some traits with Californian sunshine pop artists, they had a more straightforward, less lightweight rock flavor than many acts given that label. On their sole, obscure, self-titled album (from 1968), the influences of the melodic rock and vocal harmonies of the 1966-1967 Beatles are evident, as are some of the ornate orchestration, production trickery, and trippily optimistic-romantic lyrics that were becoming in vogue throughout much pop music by the late '60s.
In any given era, there are numerous albums by rock musicians who've obviously assimilated styles and ideas by many leading figures of the period, but don't synthesize them in a particularly interesting way. Such was the case with Thorinshield's only album, where elements of the psychedelic Beatles, the Byrds, California harmony pop groups, and singer/songwriters jostle side by side, but the songs themselves aren't too notable. It's pop-folk-rock sung, played, harmonized, and produced with late-'60s Los Angeles craftsmanship, and if you're looking for stuff that's well-executed with those traits, it has its pleasing qualities. You'd be hard-pressed to say much about what makes this stick out from the crowd, however, and at times the inspirations become kind of obvious. "Brave New World" sounds like a mating of the Byrds, Donovan, and the Mamas & the Papas, for instance; "The Best of It" shades those colors with something of a more mainstream pop slant to the songwriting; "Prelude to a Postlude" nods to earnest singer/songwriters of the time by Bob Lind, Tim Hardin, and the like, though again with a more mainstream approach; and "One Girl" is a pretty blatant, if decent, cop of 1966-1967 Donovan. (AMG).

Tracklist :
1. Life Is a Dream ;2. Brave New World; 3. Wrong, My Friend; 4. Here Today; 5. Pleasure Time; 6. The Best of It; 7. Daydreaming; 8. Light That Love Brings; 9. Prelude to a Postlude; 10. One Girl; 11. Collage of Attitudes

The Peep Show - Mazy (1967-1968)

16 Track compilation of British psychedelic pop band whose 1967 single 'Mazy' has long been regarded as a classic in the genre. All tracks were recorded in 1967/1968 and the most are previously unreleased. The album was officially released in 1999.

The Peep Show were purveyors of very decent psych fare indeed. Decidedly darker in tone and far less acid-driven than many of their contemporaries, the band remain something of an enigma. Songs such as Your Servant Stephen and Esprit De Corps marked them out as oddballs even then; but then with the former dealing with a man’s plea to his pregnant girlfriend’s father and the latter with the inadequacy felt when comparing oneself to a Battle Of Britain pilot, it’s not overly surprising. Although not necessarily in-tune with the kids, The Peep Show, in the space of no-more than a year, recorded a series of solid psych tracks, one of which, Mazy, is now rightly regarded as a classic. It’s for songs such as Do Not Wait for Better Times, Morning and the wonderful When You're Getting Tired, however, that the band should be remembered.
Satirical, pessimistic and peculiarly English, The Peep Show are in a fine tradition that stretches from The Kinks to The Smiths. The wilful difference of much of the material here will surprise those expecting another just another psych reissue. These guys were genuine mavericks and, 40 years on, they still sound refreshingly different. (Record Collector).

Tracklist :
1. Your Servant Stephen
2. Mazy
3. Big Giant Man
4. Lost My Lover
5. Lovey Dovey Feeling
6. Silver Queen Of The Screen
7. When You're Getting Tired
8. Rum Sensation
9. Called And Chosen
10. Esprit De Corps
11. The Hovercraft Song
12 . Goodbye Child
13. Morning
14. Do Not Wait For Better Times
15. Mazy # 2
16. My Friends And I

vineri, 20 februarie 2009

Herman's Hermits - Blaze (1967)

Herman's Hermits were one of those odd 1960's groups that accumulated millions of fans, but precious little respect. Indeed, their status is remarkably similar to that of the Monkees and it's not a coincidence that both groups' music was intended to appeal to younger teenagers. The difference is that as early as 1976, the Monkees began to be considered cool by people who really knew music; it has taken 35 years for Herman's Hermits to begin receiving higher regard for their work. Of course, that lack of respect had no relevance to their success: 20 singles lofted into the Top 40 in England and America between 1964 and 1970, 16 of them in the Top 20, and most of those Top Ten as well.
While Herman's Hermits couldn't keep up with the revolutionary sounds created in 1967 by the Beatles, Cream, or Jimi Hendrix, they did manage to release pop records that steadily revealed maturity, especially evident on Blaze, their final MGM studio release. At the helm once again was producer Mickie Most, who incorporated production (and studio musicians) on par with his burgeoning Donovan hits (whose "Museum" is covered here) and similar sounding material by the Hollies. The lyrical content continued to mature with Ray Davies-style subject matter previously highlighted by "There's a Kind of Hush" and "Dandy." Unfortunately, the teen idol image of front man Peter Noone was becoming a double-edged sword, as he was starting to be replaced by a new generation of teen idols, while not being able to make the transition into hip 1967. The original cover, a kaleidoscopic view of the band members in Sgt. Pepper-type threads, wasn't enough to regain their declining credibility. Blaze has a short running time at only five songs per side but includes great lost pop songs like "Last Bus Home," "I Call Out Her Name," and "Upstairs, Downstairs." MGM put out The Best of Herman's Hermits, Vol. 3 and called it a day with the band, leaving Blaze to languish as an unappreciated pop gasp. (AMG).

Tracklist :
1. Museum
2. Upstairs, Downstairs
3. Busy Line
4. Moonshine Man
5. Green Street Green
6. Don't Go Out Into The Rain
7. I Call Out Her Name
8. One Little Packet Of Cigarettes
9. Last Bus Home
10. Ace, King, Queen Jack

joi, 19 februarie 2009

Edwards Hand - Edwards Hand (1969)

Originally formed in 1967 as Picadilly Line by Rod Edwards and Roger Hand, English psychedelic pop group Edwards Hand released three albums before disbanding in the mid-'70s (1968's The Huge World of Emily Small [as Picadilly Line] featured the talents of Danny Thompson, Alan Hawkshaw, Jan Barber, Herbie Flowers, and Harold McNair). The group's highly collectible eponymous debut was produced by George Martin, who worked with very few pop acts outside of the Beatles. The record received its share of critical acclaim, earning comparisons to the Bee Gees, as well as the aforementioned Fab Four. Stranded (1970) and Rainshine (1973) were also produced by Martin.
Because Edwards Hand were one of the few pop-rock acts other than the Beatles who were produced by George Martin in the late 1960s, their obscure self-titled debut album has generated some rough comparisons to the Beatles' own work. It's true that the harmonies, melodies, and orchestrations bear some similarity to those heard on the very most pop-oriented of the Beatles' productions, though in truth there's a stronger resemblance to the ornate pop-psychedelia of the late-1960s Bee Gees. Throwing those names into the hat so quickly, though, is a little misleading and might spark hopes for a buried treasure that's better than it is. For the actual songs are certainly coyer and more saccharine than the compositions of the Beatles, and even make the Bee Gees' late-'60s stuff sound melancholy and a little hard-edged. It's more something of a combination of Beatles/Bee Gees-lite with poppier, soaring, sometimes fruity orchestral arrangements -- most likely Martin's strongest contribution to the record -- and more of a middle-of-the-road/sunshine pop/toytown psychedelic influence than the Bee Gees (and certainly the Beatles) admitted. Certainly some of the lyrics make one blanch a bit on the printed page, with their fey references to picture books, kings and queens, bringing flowers in the morning, walking down London's Charing Cross Road, magic cars, and the like. If you like those elements, of course, there are things to enjoy about this record. It has reasonably catchy though not stunning melodies, good duo vocal harmonies, and an ambience that captures something of the most innocuous side of the Swinging London/flower power era. It does sound best, however, when it gets most serious and Bee Gees-like, "If I Thought You'd Ever Change Your Mind" and "Orange Peel" being two examples. (AMG).

Tracklist :
1. Banjo Pier; 2. Friday Hill; 3. Episodes, Being The First Part; 4. Close My Eyes; 5. House Of Cards; 6.If I Thought You'd Ever Change Your Mind; 7. Characters Number One; 8. Orange Peel; 9. Sing Along With The Singer; 10. Magic Car; 11. Days Of Our Life

miercuri, 18 februarie 2009

The Gosdin Brothers - Sounds of Goodbye (1968)

Despite a strong association with the Byrds, the Gosdin Brothers' progressive blend of bluegrass and country-rock never found its way to a popular audience, though Vern Gosdin would later become one of country's more acclaimed vocalists.
The Gosdin Brothers' obscure 1968 LP Sounds of Goodbye is an overlooked country-rock milestone, and one that owes as much to the sound of the 1966-1967 era Byrds as it does to country music. That's unsurprising, perhaps, given that the Gosdins helped out a lot on Gene Clark's debut solo album in 1967, and sometimes shared bills with the early Byrds, as they shared the same management. In truth, this will appeal far more to the early Byrds fan than to the straight country fan. That's not damning with faint praise, far from it; it's actually high praise. It's a fair guess, too, that anyone who likes Gene Clark's early work will enjoy this record, as it has a similar low-key, hurt, vulnerable mystique to the melodies, vocals, and harmonies. The material, though sometimes average, is also sometimes outstanding, as on "Love at First Sight," which actually comes quite close to the classic 1966 Byrds jangle rock sound; the melancholy, graceful "She's Gone," with the kind of unexpected compelling chord changes you'd expect from the Gene Clark songwriting school; and "The Victim," with its pungent burned-by-love lyrics, and an odd (though not displeasing) dash of psychedelic echo on the chorus. The covers cast an eclectic net ("Catch the Wind," "Let It Be Me," the Everly Brothers' "Bowling Green") and are not as distinctive as the originals, but even so there's an excellent reading of Ewan MacColl's "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face." (AMG).

Tracklist :
1. Sounds of Goodbye; 2. Tell Me; 3. There Must Be a Someone (I Can Turn To); 4. Woman's Disgrace; 5. Multiple Heartaches; 6. Love at First Sight; 7. The Victim; 8. Uncommitted Man; 9. Catch the Wind; 10. She's Gone; 11. No Matter Where You Go (There You Are); 12. Hangin' On; 13. Wishing; 14. Louisiana Man; 15. I'll Live Today; 16. For Us to Find; 17. One Hundred Years from Now; 18. Bowling Green; 19. I'll Live With God (To Die No More); 20.The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face; 21. Love of the Common People; 22. She Still Wishes I Were You; 23. Had a Lot of Friends; 24. Let It Be Me .

marți, 17 februarie 2009

The Mystic Astrologic Crystal Band - The Mystic Astrologic Crystal Band (1967)

A third-tier late-'60s L.A. psychedelic outfit, the Mystic Astrologic Crystal Band were not as weird as their name indicated. They were, more to the point, as trendy as their name led one to believe, recording common-denominator psychedelic pop for the GNP label that emulated much of the form, but delivered little in the way of lasting content. Steve Hoffman wrote all of the group's material, which largely consisted of passable emulations of the Association, the Seeds, and much of the L.A. psychedelic pop that fell between these extremes. Their sound is so anonymous, in fact, that one suspects they were only playing psychedelic music because it was fashionable -- if it were 12 years later, they may have opted to wear skinny ties and sound like the Knack instead. Perhaps that's too harsh an assessment, but there's not much to put your back against on their albums, despite their status as collector's items. (AMG).

Tracks :
1. Factory Endeavour
2. Early Dawn
3. Antagonizing Friend
4. Barnyard Philosophy
5. Flowers Never Cry
6. Geometry Alley
7. October Sunshine
8. Le Vent
9. Publicly Inclined
10. Yesterday Girl

luni, 16 februarie 2009

Mortimer - Mortimer (1968)

Despite the reputation surrounding their highly sought-after 1968 LP, New York quartet Mortimer are probably best remembered for their association with The Beatles' Apple empire. Indeed they recorded a whole album with Peter Asher in 1969 which remains unreleased to this day, largely due to the arrival of Allen Klein at Apple and his culling of several projects. It wasn't the first time that Klein had axed the release of an album by the band. In 1966 the pre-Mortimer garage rock band The Teddy Boys were signed to the Cameo Parkway label where they issued two fine and furious singles and cut an album's worth of material. Klein entered the picture at Cameo in 1967 and nixed the release of the album. Regardless of these misfortunes, The Teddy Boys were hot property in the New York clubs and were soon signed up by B, B & D Productions, a company co-run by Englishman Daniel Secunda, brother of notorious UK pop manager Tony Secunda. They installed the band at their trendy manhattan night club, Arthur, and gave them a flat where they wrote new material in a more acoustic and melodic vein. An album was duly recorded for Mercury using this acoustic approach and a couple of promo singles lifted. The irresistable opener "Dedicated Music Man" received heavy airplay in the New York area and the album reportedly sold 35,000 copies. Secunda suggested the band visit England in the summer of 1968 and they did so, securing the Apple contract almost immediately when George Harrison heard them play a floor show in the Apple offices. But that's another story.

Tracks :
1. Dedicated Music Man; 2. Where Dragons Guard The Doors; 3. Would You Believe; 4. Singing To The Sunshine; 5. Mortimer's Theme; 6. Take Your Troubles; 7. To Understand Someone; 8. Waiting For Someone; 9. Life's Sweet Music; 10. Yes We Know

duminică, 15 februarie 2009

Tages - Studio (1967)

Tages (pronounced “tah-guess”) are universally known as the best sixties pop band from Sweden. They struck it big early, hitting the Swedish #1 with “Sleep Little Girl” in 1964! Their efforts in the psychedelic era would be their last. Studio should sit comfortably next to masterpieces of the year, a few notches closer to Odessey & Oracle than Sgt. Pepper and not very far at all from the following year’s Birthday Party. Thanks to the tape cuts, orchestration, harmonies, and studio tricks, it even sounds like they got their hands on a copy of Brian Wilson’s unreleased Smile tapes. Certainly, anybody willing to spend enough time exploring all the rabbit holes in the Beatles catalog owes themselves a trip through this marvelous record.
The album opener, Have You Seen Your Brother Lately, proves how apt the name “Studio” is for such a creatively produced statement. Few won’t be sold within the first few seconds, hearing a looping string quartet surrender to a commanding rhythm highlighted by pounding drums and boxy plucked bass lines. Delicate touches of grand piano and kazoo bust open the door to an album rife with auditory treats and excellent craftmanship. Vocals are good, reminding me of an edgier Colin Blunstone, with plenty of fine backup parts.
But Studio is a diverse affair, It’s My Life, the 2nd track growls out dark guitar distortions straight from the Move arsenal under workout vocal leads. The drums stand out, consistently providing ahead-of-their-time and vicious beats. Tunes are often loaded with orchestration, like the soft ballad, People Without Faces, and bouncier brass marches like What’s The Time and She’s Having A Baby Now. Tasteful psychedelic treatments abound in backwards guitar leads, weird stomp boxes, and sound effects sprinkled throughout the record. Songs are short pop winners, maybe missing some of the excellent songwriting of their contemporaries, but the entrancing production really makes up for the lack of a better bridge or two. Members of the Tages would form Blond in 1969 but disband by 1970. (The Rising Storm.net).

Tracks :
1. Have You Seen Your Brother Lately
2. It's My Life
3. Like a Woman
4. People Without Faces
5. I Left My Shoes at Home
6. She's a Man
7. Seeing With love
8. Created by You
9. What's the Time
10. It's in a Dream
11. She's a Having a Baby Now
12. The Old Man Wafwer

We All Together - 2 (1974)

The Peruvian band We All Together, though unknown beyond a core cluster of cultists, was among the prime exponents of Beatlesque pop/rock in the early '70s. Led by singer and frequent composer Carlos Guerrero, who (along with some other members) had been in the Peruvian rock band Laghonia, they released two albums (singing in English) in the first half of the '70s. These were fashioned after the lighter side of the late-'60s Beatles, particularly in the vocal harmonies, melodic tunes and sophisticated arrangements blending keyboards, acoustic guitars and electric guitars in a graceful manner. Although Lennon, McCartney, and for that matter, Harrison's influence, show up in We All Together's work, they had more of an affinity for McCartney's engaging melodicism than for the other members of the Fab Four, to the point of covering some obscure, early McCartney solo tunes.
Their second and final album strongly echoes late-period Beatles, particularly Paul McCartney; in fact, it often seems pitched about midway between the 1969-70 Beatles and the beginning of McCartney's solo career. Although it's hard to shake the nagging feeling while listening to this CD that it's somehow been created by a cover band who got access to discarded early-'70s McCartney demos, it's a convincing and enjoyable emulation of Lennon & McCartney's pop-rock craftsmanship, if more lightweight, less cogent and personal, and lacking in truly world-class tunes. It's on a much higher plateau than Klaatu, for instance. And the Beatles aren't the sole point of reference; guitar riffs on "Follow Me If You Can," for instance, have been altered just enough from Yes' "Roundabout" to avoid plagiarism, while the full guitars and harmonies on many cuts will appeal to many a Badfinger fan. The CD reissue has five bonus cuts, some quite worthwhile. On "Rock of Ages," they offer a surprisingly convincing raunchy rocker, in contrast to their usual midtempo blends of voice, guitar, piano, and some orchestration; Carlos Guerrero's "Together Forever" and "It's Us Who Say Goodbye" are in the mold of folky White Album ballads like "I Will" and "Julia"; and there's a faithful version of McCartney's "Band on the Run," not exactly a common cover choice for bands of the time. (AMG).

Tracks :
1. Persons And Faces
2. Who Knows
3. Littlw Boy
4. Silly Roadman
5. Cloudy Night
6. Ozzy
7. Beautiful People
8. Follow Me If You Can
9. I'd Like Her To Be Mine
10. She's So Sweet
11. Rock Of All Ages
12. Band On The Run
13. Nadie Me Ama Como Tu
14. Together Forever
15. It's Us Who Say Goodbye

sâmbătă, 14 februarie 2009

The Buckinghams - Portraits (1968)

If everyone on the northwest side of Chicago who claims to have hung out with the Buckinghams during their heyday had faithfully bought all their releases, the rock group might have sold more records than the Beatles. Popular attractions while still in high school, the quintet changed its name from the Pulsations to the Buckinghams to reflect the British Invasion craze and signed with Chicago's USA Records in 1966. Backing Dennis Tufano's buoyant lead vocals with prominent harmonies and punchy soul-styled brass, the group came across the wistful "Kind of a Drag," and in short order, the Buckinghams had a million-selling pop chart-topper on their hands. They quickly graduated to recording for Columbia. As long as songwriter Jim Holvay supplied more material of the same high quality as "Kind of a Drag," the Buckinghams were sitting pretty. Holvay cowrote "Don't You Care," "Hey Baby (They're Playing Our Song)," and the pseudo-psychedelic "Susan," and they all proved to be major hits for the band. The group's R&B roots surfaced on a vocal adaptation of Cannonball Adderley's jazz standard "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy," their second-biggest hit. But the Buckinghams' fortunes soon changed drastically -- one of the top-selling rock groups of 1967, they managed only one hit after early 1968, and by 1970 the group was kaput. Two original members, guitarist Carl Giammarese and bassist Nick Fortuna, have since revived the Buckinghams for oldies tours. (AMG).

Tracks :
1. C'Mon Home
2. I Love All Of The Girls
3. We Just Know
4. We Just Know - Reprise
5. Inside Looking Out
6. Hey Baby (They're Playing Our Song)
7. Susan
8. The Mail
9. Big Business Advisor
10. Have You Noticed You're Alive
11. Have You Noticed You're Alive - Reprise
12. Just Because I've Fallen Down
13. Any Place In Here
14. Any Place In Here - Reprise

vineri, 13 februarie 2009

Honeybus - Story (1970)

The story of Honeybus is almost a cautionary tale. Considering that most have never heard of them, it's amazing to ponder that they came very close, in the eyes of the critics, to being Decca Records' answer to the Rubber Soul-era Beatles. The harmonies were there, along with some catchy, hook-laden songs and usually tastefully overdubbed brass and violins. The pop sensibilities of Honeybus' main resident composers, Pete Dello and Ray Cane, were astonishingly close in quality and content to those of Paul McCartney and the softer sides of John Lennon of that same era. What's more, the critics loved their records. Yet, somehow, Honeybus never got it right; they never had the right single out at the proper time, and only once in their history did they connect with the public for a major hit, in early 1968. Their best known lineup consisted of Pete Dello (vocals, keyboards, guitar), Ray Cane (vocals, bass, keyboards), Colin Hare (rhythm guitar, vocals), and Pete Kircher (drums, vocals), with Dello and Cane writing most of their songs. Dello and Cane, songwriting partners and ex-members of various minor early-'60s rock bands, most notably Grant Tracy & the Sunsets, were the prime movers behind Honeybus.
In March 1968, "I Can't Let Maggie Go" b/w "Tender Are The Ashes" became the third Honeybus single and the one which would ensure their place in the history books. "Maggie" captures the Honeybus ethos perfectly with it's baroque arrangement and fragile harmonies. Dello wrote both sides with "Tender" continuing the series of harder flip sides.The single hit number 8 in the UK and became a huge hit in dozens of territories but the resulting merry-go-round of gigs, press and TV conflicted with Dello's vision. He saw Honeybus as essentially a studio project and had had enough of life on the road during the early 60's. With a record in the top ten, the record company screaming for a follow-up and album and widespread adulation, Pete Dello quit his own group.Such a blow would have signalled the end for most bands but the remaining members of Honeybus were more resourceful than that. First, they recruited Jim Kelly on vocals and guitar, then set about recording a follow-up to "Maggie". Before Dello's departure, both "I'm A Gambler" and live favourite "Francoise" had been mooted, but his compositions were now unavailable.It was six months until Cane's "Girl Of Independent Means" b/w the group composition "How Long" featuring Kircher on lead vocals was released. A great upbeat single featuring brass and an insistent hook, "Girl" nevertheless failed to sustain the group's success. The song was probably too far removed from it's predecessor and was released too late to register.Next, Cane came up with "She Sold Blackpool Rock" which appeared in May 1969 with Colin Hare's first recorded composition "Would You Believe" on the flip. "Blackpool" is a charming, string-laden piece which possibly tries too hard to emulate "Maggie". The single flopped in the UK but sold well in Europe, prompting the recording of an Italian language version.The band had virtually called it a day by summer 1969 but at Terry Noon's insistence the sessions continued and soon they'd completed an album's worth of new material. Pete Kircher left the group during the sessions to join Englebert Humperdinck's touring band and was replaced by Lloyd Courteney and old friend Bob Henrit, now with Argent.The album was eventually released without promotion in February 1970, by which time Honeybus was no more. Rather confusingly titled Story it remains a classic of the era, twelve shining gems written mostly by Cane with a couple from Hare. Blending Beatlesque pop ("She's Out There"), folk ("He Was Columbus"), country ("Ceilings No 1" and "Ceilings No 2", the same song played at different tempos), baroque pop ("She Said Yes") and gentle psychedelia ("Under The Silent Tree").

1. Story
2. Black Mourning Band
3. Scarlet Lady
4. Fresher Than The Sweetness In Water
5. He Was Columbus
6. Ceilings No. 1
7. Under The Silent Tree
8. She's Out There
9. She Said Yes
10. I Remember Caroline
11. How Long
12. Ceilings No. 2

Forever Amber - The Love Cycle (1969)

There’s a tangible aura about “lost albums”, something that draws you into their parallel universe. Beyond high-profile items such as the Beach Boys’ Smile and Prince’s Black Album are a wealth of “private pressings” issued in tiny quantities by local bands; almost all are half-baked, classics only to the socially challenged obsessive. Forever Amber’s The Love Cycle, though, resides in a secret garden all of its own, bursting with unfettered melodic glee and the pop experimentation prevalent in the provinces in 1968.
Originally they were an act called the Country Cousins, gigging at Cambridgeshire air bases for homesick Americans. By 1967 they were driving to gigs in a psychedelically painted ambulance – the new moniker was an abbreviation of Forever Ambulance. Meanwhile, the 18-year-old accountancy student John Hudson was spending his lunchtimes writing songs for the group’s sole album in a rehearsal room above a shop in Cambridge.
Hudson had ambition. The Love Cycle’s 16 songs, like Pet Sounds, cover a relationship sequentially from first meeting to grim denouement. He found a studio to fit his £200 budget below a musical instrument shop in Hitchin. The album was recorded in a marathon 19-hour session on a Sunday in September 1968, and the band made great use of the profusion of riches upstairs; glockenspiel, penny whistle, a wah-wah pedal, and plenty of harpsichord.
Years of harmonising had created a group with five strong lead singers, though Mick Richardson’s woody, middle-class delivery stands out. English as tuppence, The Love Cycle has a distinctly Grantchester Baroque atmosphere – the nearest comparisons are the Zombies and neighbours Pink Floyd, though the naive yearning of songs such as Bits of Your Life and Going Away Again are pretty much their own.
Only 99 copies were pressed and flogged off at gigs to the lucky few. The drummer Barry Broad sold his only copy recently and recarpeted his entire house with the proceeds.
John Hudson went on to run his own accountancy firm. Of the band, only Chris Parren turned pro, ending up as the keyboard player on George Michael’s Careless Whisper, which outsold The Love Cycle by roughly three million copies. (Times Online).

1. Me oh My
2. Silly Sunshine
3. Bits of Your Life, Bits of My Life
4. For a Very Special Person
5. The Dreamer Flies Back
6. Misunderstood
7. Better Things Are Bound To Come
8. On a Night In Winter
9. On Top of My Own Special Mountain
10. Mary (the Painter)
11. All the Colours of My Book
12. Going Away Again
13. A Chance to Be Free
14. I See You As You Used to Be
15. Letters From Her16. My Friend
16. My Friend

joi, 12 februarie 2009

Marc Brierley - Welcome to the Citadel (1968)

A minor player on the late-'60s British folk-rock scene, guitarist and singer/songwriter Marc Brierley made a couple of albums in the late '60s that were somewhat in line with the folk-pop-rock Donovan was making around the same time, though they were milder and far less distinctive. Brierley made his recording debut in 1966 with a five-song acoustic EP for Transatlantic Records that was similar in nature to the early acoustic recordings of Donovan and Bert Jansch. His 1968 debut LP, Welcome to the Citadel, expanded his arrangements into light folk-rock and touches of orchestration, with Tony Reeves and Mike Travis (who'd just toured with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers) as the rhythm section. One-time Donovan manager Ashley Kozak produced 1969's more melodic Hello, which moved toward slightly fuller pop/rock arrangements, though as on its predecessor these sometimes had a Baroque flavor. Other than a couple of non-LP singles in 1969 and 1970, that would be Brierley's entire recording career, as he retired from music in 1973. All of Brierley's recordings are contained on the two-CD compilation Autograph of Time: The Complete Recordings 1966-1970. (AMG).

Tracks :
1. The Answer Is
2. Vagabond Of Sleep
3. Matchbox Men
4. Over The Hills
5. Symphony
6. Take Me For A Ride On Your Aeroplane
7. Welcome To The Citadel
8. Hold On, Hold On, The Garden Sure Looks Good Spread Out On The Floor
9. Autograph Of Time
10. Sunlight Sleepers Song
11. Making Love
12. Time Itself
13. And Who Would But Think
14. Thoughts & Sounds

The Merry-Go-Round - The Merry-Go-Round: You're a Very Lovely Woman - Live (1967)

The Merry-Go-Round were formed in Los Angeles during the summer of 1966 when Palace Guard drummer Emitt Rhodes left that band and began rehearsing in the Rhodes family garage with his high-school buddy Gary Kato. After a couple weeks with friends Mike Rice and Doug Harwood on bass and drums, respectively, the duo hooked up with a couple of L.A. movers: bassist Bill Rinehart had played in the Leaves and drummer Joel Larson with the Grass Roots, and both had been in the short-lived Gene Clark Group in 1966 and later played on Clark's classic 1967 album, Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers. Rhodes, Kato, Rinehart, and Larson recorded demos that attracted label attention and led to a deal with A&M. "Live" was released as a single in early 1967 and quickly became a huge hit in L.A., and eventually reached number 63 in the Billboard singles chart. The B-side, "Time Will Show the Wiser," became somewhat well known too, as Fairport Convention cut a version on their 1968 debut album.
The Merry-Go-Round's self-titled 1967 album is a breathtaking blend of chiming folk-rock guitars, British Invasion harmony vocals, baroque pop arrangements, and pure pop songcraft that sounds daisy fresh in 2009. The Beatles are a huge influence, and there is plenty of McCartney in Emitt Rhodes' sweet vocals and their vocal harmonies. You can hear the Byrds a bit, some Left Banke (especially on the sweeping orchestral pop gem "You're a Very Lovely Woman"), some L.A. garage on rockers like "Where Have You Been All My Life" and "Lowdown"; the group definitely didn't exist in a vacuum. But there are some songs that are quite unique and original like "Time Will Show the Wiser" with its otherworldly sped up and backward guitars and enchanting melody, the bouncy and warm hit single "Live," and "Had to Run Around," an exquisite ballad whose tender beauty foreshadows Rhodes' classic 1970 Emitt Rhodes album. These songs, and the overall quality of the songs and the group's loose and earthy playing, help lift the album above the pack and should lead to it being mentioned in the same breath as Love's first album or Buffalo Springfield's first when talking about classic American debut albums of the '60s. (AMG).

Tracks :
1. Live
2. Time Will Show the Wiser
3. On Your Way Out
4. Gonna Fight the War
5. Had to Run Around
6. We're in Love
7. You're a Very Lovely Woman
8. Where Have You Been All of My Life
9. Early in the Morning
10 .Low Down
11. Clown's No Good
12. Gonna Leave You Alone

miercuri, 11 februarie 2009

The Twilights - Once Upon a Twilight (1968)

A clear case could be made for citing The Twilights’ Once Upon a Twilight as Australia’s greatest pop-psych album. Although almost totally ignored on its original release in June 1968, the album now takes its place among the best of the genre (MOJO magazine’s 2004 Special Edition on Psychedelia listed Once Upon a Twilight as one of the great unheralded World Psych albums).
Between 1966 and 1967 The Twilights enjoyed eight Top 40 hit singles. Near-perfect pop-psych gems like ‘9.50’, ‘Young Girl’, ‘Time and Motion Study Man’, ‘The Way They Play’, ‘Cathy Come Home’ and ‘Comin’ on Down’ remain some of the finest moments in Australia’s 1960s musical legacy. The Twilights had gained much inspiration and experience on their trip to the UK (October 1966 to February 1967), during which they recorded three tracks at EMI’s Abbey Road Studios with in-house producer Norman Smith (Pink Floyd, The Pretty Things): a cover of The Hollies’ ‘What’s Wrong with the Way I Live’, ‘9.50’ and ‘Young Girl’. Upon returning to Australia , the band set about recording what was to be their greatest (and final) LP.

Just what is it that makes The Twilights’ Once Upon a Twilight such an important pop-psych artefact? First and foremost is the quality of the songs themselves, with nearly all having been written by the band’s resident musical genius, guitarist Terry Britten. Secondly, under the guidance of producer David MacKay, the band recorded the album as a complete work, so that even today it displays a unity of purpose and holistic purity not generally achieved elsewhere. Thirdly, the sound of the album boasts all the trappings of period psychedelia, with all manner of studio trickery from echoed harmonies and gentle phasing to vocals fed through rotating Leslie cabinets.
After the break-up of The Twilights, lead singer Glenn Shorrock went on to join Axiom and later, the internationally famous Little River Band. Britten became an in-demand session player and producer for the likes of Cliff Richard (for whom he co-wrote ‘Devil Woman’, ‘Carrie’ and ‘Green Light’), as well as a highly successful songwriter (Christie Allen, Tina Turner, Michael Jackson).

1. Once Upon A Twilight
2. What A Silly Thing To Do
3. Bessemae
4. Stop The World For A Day
5. Mr. Nice
6. Take Action
7. Blue Roundabout
8. Devendra
9. Found To Be Thrown Away
10. Tomorrow Is Today
11. The Cocky Song
12. Paternosta Row

The Five Americans - Progressions (1967)

The Five Americans' third album, Progressions, lives up to its title. The group, which had gained success with the pounding frat rocker "I Saw the Light" and the bubbly pop hit "Western Union," began to show some real artistic growth as they stretched out and explored new sounds. Some of the tracks sound like more assured versions of their earlier efforts — the bubblegummy "Zip Code" (the attempted follow-up to "Western Union"), the tender folk-rock of "(But Not) Today," the sparkling pop of "Stop-Light" — but they also incorporate some harder guitar rock on "Black Is White — Day Is Night," Kinks-y baroque pop psych on "Rain Maker," and blue-eyed soul on "Come on Up." They also ditched the at times too slick sound achieved by producer Dale Hawkins, took over the production chores themselves, and did a fine job of creating a full and rich sound with just enough experimentation to keep things unpredictable. Progressions is a substantial leap of quality for the group; with the right push, it could have been big. Instead it is a hidden gem that fans of fine '60s pop should seek out and savor. (AMG).

1. Stop-Light
2. Con Man
3. Black Is White-Day Is Night
4. (But Not) Today
5. Come on Up
6. Zip Code
7. Rain Maker
8. Sweet Bird of Youth
9. Evol-Not Love
10. Somebody Help Me
11. Call on Me