marți, 31 martie 2009

Plastic Penny - Currency (1969)

Plastic Penny were an unremarkable late-'60s British group who made the U.K. Top Ten in early 1968 with "Everything I Am," a labored ballad augmented by strings, that wasn't even one of their best songs. Much of their material was psychedelic pop with hints of encroaching prog-rock, sometimes recalling the Who a bit, elsewhere going into more fey story-songs. Their guitarist, Mick Grabham, would play with Procol Harum for a few years in the 1970s.
Plastic Penny's second album offers various shades of British psychedelic pop that aren't near either the top or bottom of the class. It left the impression of a group who were good musicians, but not ones who had exceptional material or a markedly identifiable style. Beatlesque psychedelic pop that was lighter than the Beatles was the main ingredient, perhaps with elements of the Bee Gees and the poppiest facet of the Who as well, though there was more organ involved in Plastic Penny's arrangements than there was in those of any of these other groups. Sometimes the keyboard-driven sound had shades of Procol Harum and Traffic. It's respectable listening, but not a record to win commendations for originality; "Give Me Money" in particular is a shameless imitation of the Who and the Move in their circa 1967 power pop days, albeit a pretty good one. The inclusion of a couple instrumentals (the closing "Sour Suite," lasting eight minutes, and "Currency") with a heavier, more improvised-sounding organ-grounded approach, as well as mediocre covers of "Hound Dog" and "MacArthur Park," raises the suspicion that the group really didn't have enough material ready to make an album, even though those instrumentals aren't bad. Serious Elton John fans, however, will be interested in collecting this record for the presence of an early Elton John-Bernie Taupin composition, "Turn to Me," that Elton John never recorded. The way Plastic Penny do it, it sounds like an early Badfinger track. (AMG).

Tracklist :
1. You Way To Tell Me Go
2. Hound Dog
3. Currency
4. Caledonian Mission
5. Mcarthur Park
6. Turn To Me
7. Baby You're Not To Blame
8. Give Me Money
9. Sour Suite
10. She Does
11. Celebrity Ball

joi, 26 martie 2009

The Paper Garden - The Paper Garden (1968)

A decent if somewhat candy-coated effort in the pop-psychedelic vein, combining cheerful sunshine pop sensibilities with some hard-edged psychedelic playing. It all falls somewhere between the Beatles' Revolver album and the Zombies' Odessey & Oracle (the latter especially on "Man Do You" and "Raven"), with some Sgt. Pepper-type layered choruses and overdubbed strings and other instruments. The question is how well it represents the sound of the Paper Garden -- and that begs the larger question behind the purpose of recording an LP; The Paper Garden dates from a period when the answer to that question was starting to change. According to the account of singer/guitarist Joe Arduino, the New York City-based quintet had a solid stage repertory established from performances at colleges in the Northeastern United States in 1967 and 1968, when they got the chance to cut this album under the auspices of British producer Geoff Turner, who was working at Musicor in New York at the time -- presented with that opportunity, the members ended up writing a whole new body of songs for the occasion; thus, the album become a new, self-contained artistic statement rather than a representation of the music by which they'd first attracted attention and defined themselves. The songs are filled with catchy tunes played on a mix of virtuoso electric lead and acoustic guitars -- with the occasional sitar, courtesy of rhythm guitarist Sandy Napoli -- and violin, string orchestra, trumpet, and trombone embellishment, and the lead singing coming down somewhere between Paul McCartney and Colin Blunstone with the backing usually very Lennon-esque. The group had three talented songwriters in their ranks whose work was worth hearing and the 27-minute running time isn't even a problem -- the content is substantial enough to make this a nicely full sonic meal and one of the most enjoyable albums of the psychedelic era. The 2002 Gear Fab CD reissue offers glittering sound and includes full annotation and credits, and is recommended to those who enjoy the Zombies' Odessey & Oracle album, or the Merry-Go-Round/Emitt Rhodes' releases. (AMG).

Tracklist :
1.Gypsy Wine
2.Sunshine People
3.Way Up High
4.Lady's Man
5.Mr. Mortimer
6.Man Do You
8.I Hide
10.A Day

marți, 24 martie 2009

Harmony Grass - This Is Us (1969)

A late-'60s band that anticipated Prelude's highly commercial harmony vocals, Harmony Grass evolved out of Tony Rivers & the Castaways. They were signed to RCA a year after being formed in Essex, and scored aTop 30 British hit with "Move in a Little Closer Baby."
Harmony Grass' sole LP has a few songs from their late-1960s singles (including "Move in a Little Closer," their only British hit), and it's also filled out by a few Tony Rivers originals and an assortment of covers. This odd, occasionally impressive and sometimes saccharine mix of pop/rock casts the group among the few British exponents of sunshine pop. Sometimes the airplane-commercial harmonies and cheeriness is vacuous. On the other hand, Rivers proves himself a competent emulator of the Beach Boys' most upbeat material on "Summer Dreaming" and "My Little Girl," as well as the Pet Sounds era on "I've Seen to Dream." On yet another hand, with "Chattanooga Choo Choo," "Tom Dooley," and the weird "(It Ain't Necessarily) Byrd Avenue," the group sounds like a college glee club, here to entertain for your social function, backed by extremely competent studio musicianship. On "Ballad of Michael," Rivers grapples with somewhat more serious lyrical themes in a tale of a philandering bachelor, but the song also finds him trying to squeeze too many words into too little space. (AMG).

Tracklist :
1. Move in a Little Closer Baby
2. My Little Girl
3. What a Groovy Day
4. I've Seen to Dream
5. (It Ain't Necessarily) Byrd Avenue
6. Chattanooga Choo Choo
7. Good Thing
8. Mrs Richie
9. Summer Dreaming
10. I Think of You
11. Ballad of Michael
12. Tom Dooley
13. What Do You Do When Love Dies

sâmbătă, 21 martie 2009

Blues Section - Blues Section (1967)

Blues Section is considered a seminal and ground-breaking band in Finnish rock music. They started in 1967, formed around the vocalist Jim Pembroke, a British expatriate song-writer now living in Finland. The other members of the band were Eero Koivistoinen (saxophone), Ronnie Österberg (drums), Hasse Walli (guitar), and Måns Groundstroem (bass). Their influences came among all from John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and Jimi Hendrix, who had played a sensational gig in Helsinki in May 1967. One can also hear in Pembroke's British-flavoured song-writing some echoes from The Beatles and The Kinks. Blues Section released a self-titled album late 1967 on Helsinki's Love Records. In 1968 Groundstroem and Pembroke left the band, being replaced by Pekka Sarmanto and (another British vocalist) Frank Robson, respectively. Also Koivistoinen would leave the band during the same year, and by the end of 1968 Blues Section was over. The Blues Section members would continue in such acclaimed progressive rock bands as Wigwam and Tasavallan Presidentti. Eero Koivistoinen was to become an internationally acclaimed jazz musician, and Hasse Walli would discover world music, playing in such bands as Piirpauke.

Tracklist :
1. Paint It Michael And Others, Maybe
2. Answer To Life
3. The Day The Bird Of Paradise Looked Down Trough A
4. Wolf At The Door
5. End Of A Poem
6. Please Mr. Wilson
7. Once More For The Road
8. The East Is Red
9. Carpets And Bags And Balls
10. Apartment 51
11. Call Me On Your Telephone
12. Hey Hey Hey

joi, 19 martie 2009

Kensington Market - Aardvark (1969)

The Kensington Market were a Toronto band that recorded two albums in the late 60s off the Warner Brothers label. Their first album, Avenue Road appeared in 1968 and was greeted with great acclaim. Avenue Road was a modest effort that was noteworthy for a few reasons, it featured decent pop instincts and solid songwriting. In 1969 the band released their final lp titled Aardvark. After the release of this disc the band broke up a few months later, leaving behind a much stronger lp than their debut.
Aardvark is a weird and wonderful mini masterpiece in which much of the Kensington Market’s reputation rests. This time out there were no silly jugband tracks and many of the album’s ideas are fully formed and well thought out. Some of the songs, like the beautifully trippy Cartoon and the ahead-of-it’s-time Help Me, use primitive synthesizer in all the right ways. Help Me sounds like a lost Flaming Lips track with its open arrangement and blissed out guitar playing. Side I Am would have had radio potential had it not been for the experimental Smile-era Beach Boys intro. It’s a stunning pop song with Penny Lane horns, fine vocals and that special, inspiring 60s magic. Other tracks like Think About The Times and If It Is Love have more of a meloncholy air but are equally excellent and reveal a more pessimistic side of the band. The experimental Americana of Half Closed Eyes is another standout composition that’s superb in an early morning folk-strum Dylan way with unusual synthesizer flourishes.
Aardvark requires a few close listens to sink in but it really is a great Beatles influenced pop album by an underrated band. (

Tracklist :
1. Help Me
2. If It Is Love
3. I Know You
4. The Thinker
5. Half Closed Eyes
6. Said I Could Be Happy
7. Ciao
8. Ow-ing Man
9. Side I Am
10. Think About The Times
11. Have You Come To See
12. Cartoon
13. Dorian

miercuri, 18 martie 2009

The Shamrocks - Smoke Rings Around the Cadillac (1964-1967)

The Shamrocks were the most succesfull Swedish beat group in Europe during the 60's. They never made it into the Swedish charts, but they were popular in Germany, France, Netherlands and Japan. It all started in 1962 when the Shamrocks were founded. 1963 was the year of beeing part in several talent competitions. The result were a few bookings and the first recording for EMI - "Jag Har Bott Vid En Landsvag/Petite Fleur". In 1964 a new lineup (still with founding members Bjorn and Ian) won a competition: they were elected "The Beatles of Stockholm" and got a recording contract with "Karussell Records". They recorded "We Gonna Make It" and "A Lonely Man", both songs written by themselves.
In 1965 they became famous with the Renegades song "Cadillac". The song failed the Swedish charts but made it all over Europe. The band went on tour in Finland, Sweden and in 44 towns in Germany. In 1966, the band toured again on the continent and played 14 days in "Star Club Hamburg". In July, the band recorded in Hamburg, in three days, their first LP - "Smokerings". A lot of TV shows and gigs in France, Netherlands, Finland, Sweden and Germany were done in 1967.
To enter the UK market, a few songs were recorded in London and published later in '67 on the LP "Shamrock A Paris". Somewhere in the summer of the same year, founding member Jan Granaht (guitar) quit the band. The remaining band members decided to go on as a trio. Germany, France and Denmark saw the new Shamrocks shows with a lot of visual effects (fireworks, smoke-screens, bengal fires etc.).
In 1968, Kent Risberg (guitar) left the band to settle in Bonn, where the band spent a lot of time between their touring on the continent. Two weeks later, Shamrocks were back on the road again in Germany and France with Jonny Wallin on guitar. Then the band return home to Sweden and after a long due rest , Bjorn and Dieter (founding members) decided to make one last "thanks and farewell" tour in Germany. During this tour, Bertil Petterson was playing guitar. The story of the Shamrocks ended at the end of the 60's when the great beat era came to an end.

Tracklist :
1. We Gonna Make It
2. A Lonley Man
3. Skinny Minny
4. A Mountain Of Silver
5. Cadillac
6. Easy Rider
7. And I Need You
8. Zip-a-dee-doo-dah
9. La La La
10. Things Will Turn Out Right Tomorrow
11. Balla Balla
12. Oxford Street 43
13. Don't Say
14. Nobody Cares About Me
15. Days
16. Smokerings
17. See Me Coming
18. I'm On The Outside Locking In
19. Please Don't Cry (For Me)
20. Gipsy Lullaby at 1030
21. Missconception
22. I'm Ready For The Show
23. Cadillac (Paris version)
24. How The Time Flies
25. Travelin' Man
26. The Smiling Kind
27. Don't You Know She's Mine
28. Daytime Nightime
29. Rich Life

duminică, 15 martie 2009

The Tremeloes - Here Come the Tremeloes (1967)

It's difficult for anyone who has heard them not to like -- or even love -- the Tremeloes. They were one of the more prodigiously talented British pop/rock bands of the '60s, and they threw that talent into making amazingly catchy and well-crafted singles that lit up the charts and radio on both sides of the Atlantic for four years running, from 1966 through 1970.
Yet, the Tremeloes are also one of the least-known and least-respected of '60s English bands. The precise reason for the lack of respect is difficult to pin down, except perhaps that their timing was off, as far as making the most of their success. They generally didn't write their own material and they cut their best singles long after the British Invasion (and the mystique surrounding the bands that were part of it) had ended. Yet, ironically, the Tremeloes are also one of the longest surviving English rock & roll bands, still playing regularly more than 40 years after the group's founding.
Here Come The Tremeloes may be the best "forgotten" British album of the 1960's, at least for sheer fun. When Brian Poole quit the Tremeloes in 1966, the conventional wisdom was that the band would soon fold. Instead, with bassist Chip Hawkes and drummer Dave Munden handling the lead vocals, they put out a string of hit singles and this LP on British CBS, which made No. 15 in England (in America, it appeared as Here Comes My Baby on Epic Records). The music is a mix of upbeat rockers ("Here Comes My Baby"), "Good Day Sunshine"), covers of American soul ("Loving You (Is Sweeter Than Ever)"), and unexpectedly strong originals, highlighted by the psychedelic-garage textured "What A State I'm In," and even a killer rendering of "You," an early song by one Gilbert O'Sullivan that's not only catchy but features some fierce fuzz-tone playing from guitarist Rick Westwood. None of it was the most challenging music coming out of England in 1967, but it's all utterly enjoyable, catchy pop-rock with a sharp edges in some of the playing, tempos, and singing. (AMG).

Tracklist :
1. Here Comes My Baby
2. Run Baby Run
3. My Town
4. Round And Round
5. What A State I'm In
6. Loving You
7. Good Day Sunshine
8. You
9. Let Your Hair Hang Down
10. Shake Hands
11. When I'm With Her
12. Even The Bad Times Are Good

sâmbătă, 14 martie 2009

The Fredric - Phases and Faces (1968)

From Grand Rapids, Michigan, the Fredric issued a rare, limited-run album in the late '60s, Phases and Faces, that's highly valued in some collector quarters. It would be ultimately inaccurate to call this garage psychedelia; it's too clean-cut and poppy, with conscientious harmonies, guitar-organ interplay, and light lovelorn lyrics. They were a very young group, and it shows in the callow songwriting, despite the well-executed arrangements. The single "Red Pier" made some modest local noise, and by 1970 they were signed to Capitol, who changed their name to the Rock Garden. They disbanded shortly after beginning their relationship with Capitol; drummer-vocalist David Idema eventually had a hit as David Geddes, "Run Joey Run." (AMG).
Lead vocalist Joe McCargar and guitarist Bob Geis were high school mates playing in a local band. When their existing drummer and guitarist quit, shortly before a gig, they drafted in Steve Thrall, with whom they immediately struck up an accord. In the days that followed, David Idema - a family friend - and Ron Bera were added, and the band began to rehearse extensively.They soon caught the eye of a booking agent, who got them a support slot for U.K. duo Harper and Rowe, who were doing a U.S. promotional tour. Harper and Rowe, didn't want to be upstaged by a local support, so the band changed their name to The Fredric on their way to the first gig in Fredric, Michigan. They soon developed a good local reputation, and opened shows for The Box Tops, Tommy James and The Shondells, and Yellow Balloon amongst others.

Tracklist :
1. Federal Reserve Bank Blues
2. The Girl I Love
3. All About Judi
4. Henry Adams
5. Morning Sunshine
6. Taggin'
7. Cousin Mary Knows
8. My Yellow Tree
9. Red Pier
10. Old Fashioned Guy
11. Born in Fire
12. Saturday Morning With Rain

Tinkerbells Fairydust - Tinkerbells Fairydust (1969)

Originally known as the Rush, Tinkerbells Fairydust was a late 60s English pop-psych ensemble that changed their name in 1967 upon the release of their debut single (an outstanding cover of Spanky & Our Gang's 'Lazy Day' b/w 'In My Magic Garden'). Band members included Steve Maher (guitar, vocals), Stuart Attride (guitar, keyboards, vocals), Gerry Wade (bass, vocals), Barry Creasy (drums, vocals), Charlie Wade (drums, vocals), Eileen Woodman (organ, vocals) and Dave Church (vocals).
In 1968, they released a second single ('Twenty Ten' b/w 'Walking My Baby') which didn't chart high in the U.K., but managed to become a #1 hit in Japan. In 1969, they briefly worked with Idle Race and future ELO guru Jeff Lynn to release a final single ('Sheila's Back In Town' b/w the Lynn penned 'Follow Me Follow'). That same year they released a self titled LP, which had a limited issue of 500 copies and now goes for thousands of dollars on the collectors market. The album includes some original material as well as some great covers, including the previously released 'Lazy Day' and Joe Cocker's 'Marjorine'. Unfortunately, the group split soon after the record's completion.

Tracklist :
1. 20-10
2. In My Magic Garden
3. Marjorine
4. You Keep Me Hanging On
5. The Worst That Could Happen
6. Never My Love
7. Lazy Day
8. Every Minute Every Day
9. Whole World
10. They Didnt Believe Me
11. Happy
12. Sheila's Back In Town
13. Jeff's Boogie

miercuri, 11 martie 2009

Turquoise - The Further Adventures of Flossie Fillett: The Complete Recordings (1966-1969)

A quick listen to Turquoise with no knowledge of their background will surely bring two names immediately to mind: the Kinks and the Who. So, it should be no surprise that Turquoise were not only influenced by their British peers but were close associates, friends of Ray and Dave Davies, produced by Dave for their first demos -- when the band was still known as "the Brood" -- and produced by Keith Moon and John Entwistle for their second round of pre-professional recordings. Turquoise released two singles for Decca in 1968 before disbanding and those two singles, like much British pop-psych, earned them a cult of some size, eventually leading to Rev-Ola's 2006 release of The Further Adventures of Flossie Fillett: The Complete Recordings which collects both sides of those two singles -- "53 Summer Street"/"The Tales of Flossie Fillett" and "Woodstock"/"Saynia" -- along with all the other demos, unreleased cuts and alternate takes the group left behind. More than any other band from the late '60s, Turquoise modeled themselves after mid-period Kinks, circa Something Else and Village Green Preservation Society to the extent that singer/songwriter Jeff Peters (who wrote almost all of the band's recorded work, usually in collaboration with Ewan Stephens) even penned his own tune called "Village Green." Like the Kinks, Turquoise were distinctly, defiantly British in subject matter and approach -- among their unreleased items is a knees-up stomp-along called "Sunday Best" reminiscent of the Small Faces (and oddly prescient of Blur's "Sunday Sunday") -- often sounding fey and campy yet managing to stay away from being overtly twee, and even if their melodies could sigh and swirl in psychedelic colors, they never were that trippy: they were grounded by acoustic guitars that jangled like Ray Davies' on Something Else and they had ragged harmonies and a pop sense reminiscent of the brothers Davies. And when Turquoise broke free of the Kinks -- as on the absolutely terrific "Woodstock" which barrels forward on a moddish Motown beat and has a wicked Dylan impression on the chorus -- they're quite terrific, but when they were close to the Kinks, which they were for most of their career, they're merely good, even if not especially memorable. But for fans of British pop of the '60s that was obsessed with being British -- whether that means the Kinks, the Small Faces, mod-era Who or parts of the Move -- The Further Adventures of Flossie Fillett provides just enough unheard gems to be worthwhile. (AMG).

Tracklist :
1. Tales of Flossie Fillett
2. Flying Machine [Second Version]
3. Sister Saxophone
4. 53 Summer Street
5. Sea Shines
6. Village Green
7. Saynia
8. Sunday Best
9. Woodstock
10. Stand Up and Be Judged
11. Woodstock [First Reduction]
12. Flying Machine [First Version]
13. Leana [Backing Track]
14. What's Your Name
15. Mindless Child of Motherhood
16. You're Just Another Girl (As the Brood)
17. Wrong Way (As the Brood)
18. Turquoise 1968 Christmas Record

marți, 10 martie 2009

Rainbow Ffolly - Sallies Fforth (1968)

Thirteen examples of pleasant, mid-tempo, mildly amplified psychedelic pop, most of them owing some considerable debt to the influence of the Beatles' Rubber Soul and Revolver (though not their production), with some of the nutsy brand of humor that Giles, Giles, & Fripp later traded in. This is basically Paul McCartney-influenced psychedelia, not only in the tone and texture of the lead vocals, but the retro style of songs like "I'm So Happy," with some vaguely progressive touches that make one think of the more ornate tracks off of Bee Gees' 1st. "Montgolfier" is a folky/trippy, deliberately antiquated cut that intersects somewhere midway between the early psychedelic Bee Gees and the early work of Amazing Blondel. The group also had the temerity to write and record a bouncy number called "Drive My Car" that sounds McCartney-esque (even anticipating the scatting on the latter's "Heart of the Country") without ever sounding at all like the Beatles' song of that name. Other cuts, such as "Goodbye," contain elements that anticipate Simon & Garfunkel's "So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright." It's all under-produced, which makes the attempted guitar flourishes on "Hey You" seem a bit anemic, but imparts a nicely lean and trippy sound to "Sun Sing." Every track here was essentially a demo, a fact that may explain why the album never found an audience in an era when layer upon layer of overdub was the norm -- but it is pretty, in a minimalist sort of way. (AMG).
Obviously influenced by labelmates The Beatles, the sole album of Rainbow Ffolly is a psychedelic delight of the first order. Lush, inventive arrangements and sharp winning melodies are presented in a truly wide range of styles at once sophisticated and witty. It can be said without exaggeration that this album exceeds on musical grounds the period piece value of many of its contemporaries. Great use of sound-effects contributes to its excellence, while the feeling is so thoroughly English as on few other albums. A single with "Drive My Car" on the flip, which is not the Lennon/McCartney song, sank without a trace and no further recordings were made. The vast diversity and the great accessibility make it hard to understand why this album was completely ignored, but it makes completely clear why it is as sought-after as it is.

Tracklist :
1. She's Alright
2. I'm So Happy
3. Montgolfier
4. Drive My Car
5. Goodbye
6. Hey You
7. Sun Sing
8. Sun and Sand
9. Labour Exchange
10. They'm
11. No
12. Sighing Game
13. Come or Go

luni, 9 martie 2009

The Lemon Pipers - Jungle Marmalade (1968)

The Lemon Pipers were a 1960s /psychedelic pop band from Oxford, Ohio known chiefly for their song "Green Tambourine", which reached number one in the United States in 1968. The song has been credited as being the first bubblegum No.1 hit and ushering in the bubblegum pop era.
The band, formed in 1966 from two Oxford bands, Ivan and the Sabres and Tony and the Bandits comprised singer Ivan Browne (b. 1947), guitarist William Bartlett (b. 1946), keyboardist Robert G. "Reg" Nave (b. 1945), drummer William Albaugh (1948-1999), guitarist Ron Simkins (b.1948) and New Zealand-born bassist Steve Walmsley (b. 1949).
The band played a mix of blues and rock jams regularly in Oxford clubs and a Cincinnati underground rock venue, the Ludlow Garage, and released a single on the Carol Records label, "Quiet Please". In late 1967 they were offered a recording deal by a talent scout from Buddah Records and moved to New York.
Working with producer and songwriter Paul Leka, the group’s debut on Buddah was a Bartlett composition, "Turn Around and Take A Look". When the song failed to make the charts, the label approached Leka and his songwriting partner, Shelley Pinz, who were working out of an office in the same Broadway building as Buddah, to come up with a song. The pair wrote "Green Tambourine" and the band reluctantly recorded it. The song entered the Billboard Hot 100 at the end of 1967 and hit No.1 in February 1968. The song peaked at No. 7 in the UK and was also a hit worldwide.
Its success led to pressure being placed on the band by the label to replicate the song with an identical follow-up and in March the band released another Leka/Pinz song, "Rice Is Nice", which peaked at No. 46 in the US and No. 41 in the UK in May. The band had little enthusiasm for either song, however, dubbing them "funny-money music" and recording them only because they knew they would be dropped by Buddah if they refused.
Their pop success created what Nave has described as "the duality of the Lemon Pipers": "We were a stand-up rock 'n' roll band, and then all of a sudden, we're in a studio, being told how to play and what to play."
The chasm between the label’s aspirations and the band’s own musical tastes became apparent on the Lemon Pipers’ debut album, Green Tambourine (1967). Produced by Leka, the album contained five Leka/Pinz songs and the band-written free-form and extended blues-inspired tracks "Fifty Year Void" and "Through With You" (the latter bearing influences of The Byrds and running to more than nine minutes). Writing in Bubblegum is the Naked Truth, Gary Pig Gold commented: "It was the Pipers’ way with a tough-pop gem in the under-four-minute category which was most impressive by far: 'Rainbow Tree', 'Shoeshine Boy' and especially 'Blueberry Blue' each sported a taut, musical sophistication worthy of The Move and, dare I say it, even the Magical Mystery Beatles."
The band recorded a second album for Buddah, Jungle Marmalade, which again showed both sides of the band – another Leka/Pinz bubblegum song, "Jelly Jungle", (released as a single and peaking at No. 51 in the US), a version of the Carole King/Gerry Goffin song "I Was Not Born to Follow" (released in 1968 by the Byrds) and an 11-minute, 43 second epic, "Dead End Street/Half Light".
The band left the Buddah label in 1969 and later dissolved.

Tracklist :
1. Jelly Jungle
2. I Was Not Born to Follow
3. Everything Is You
4. Catch Me Falling
5. Hard Core
6. Love Beads and Meditation
7. I Need Someone
8. Mirrors
9. Wine and Violet
10. Dead End Street/Half Light

sâmbătă, 7 martie 2009

The Young Rascals - Once Upon a Dream (1968)

After releasing three classic garage blue-eyed soul records, the Rascals felt a need to expand their sound, become a bit more ornate, and take in the influence of psychedelia. In early 1968 they released Once Upon A Dream, a vague concept lp inspired by recent albums Pet Sounds and Sgt. Pepper’s. The concept is a bit unclear to me but I believe each track is supposed to represent a different dream. The group’s vocal arrangements were some of their most ambitious to date and where the previous three albums had been excellent collections of album tracks and singles, Once Upon A Dream hangs together quite well as an album - a finished product if you will.
Once Upon A Dream opens up with a fairly well known track, Easy Rollin’. Easy Rollin’ is one of the mini classics on this album and stands out from previous Rascal outings in that it’s more roots influenced with edgy acoustic guitars, harmonica, and B-3. The production on this song is remarkable: one can hear birds chirping in the background and the band itself seems to have more space and breathing room. Other tracks like the dreamy Silly Girl and zany Rainy Day are psychedelic pop songs that have strings and horns in the mix. These sweet, confectionery treats give way to harder edged psych rockers Please Love Me and It’s Wonderful. Please Love Me harks back to the band’s mid 60s garage soul period but has wonderful flute and swirling fuzz guitar effects. Other great songs are the soul-blues of Singin’ The Blues Too Long which has a clear Ray Charles influence, and the great, overlooked blue-eyed soul classic, My World. My World is notable for including female backup singers as well as the Rascals’ own excellent vocal arrangement.
The Rascals would release other good albums after Once Upon A Dream but few pop records from the time are as instantly memorable and sophisticated as this. At the time, the album’s production and sound were considered a triumph. This is a true classic and should be part of any serious rock n roll collection. (

Tracklist :
1. Intro/Easy Rollin'
2. Rainy Day
3. Please Love Me
4. It's Wonderful
5. I'm Gonna Love You
6. My Hawaii
7. My World
8. Silly Girl
9. Singin' The Blues Too Long
10. Sattva
11. Finale Once Upon A Dream

joi, 5 martie 2009

White Plains - My Baby Loves Lovin' (1993)

The British group White Plains had a big hit single in 1970. "My Baby Loves Lovin" was a bubblegum classic that features the ubiquitous vocals of Tony Burrows and a bouncy, happy, and decidedly British pop sound. The group formed when the the Flowerpot Men, best known for the dippy, bubble-psych hit "Let's Go to San Francisco," decided a name change and a stylistic change were in order. Burrows was in the last incarnation of the Flowerpot Men and he carried over into the initial White Plains lineup; as did pianist Pete Nelson, bassist Robin Shaw, and Ricky Wolff, who was proficient on guitars, keyboards, flute, and saxophone. The group soon recruited drummer Roger Hills and lead guitarist Robin Box, both of whom had played backing Peter & Gordon and Paul Jones.
On October 26, 1969, the band recorded four tracks from which "My Baby Loves Lovin'" was picked as the single. Released on January 9th of 1970 on Deram, the single zoomed up the charts in the U.K., eventually landing in the Top Ten. It also hit big in the U.S., reaching number 13 on the Hot 100. Burrows never was a real member of the group, he only sang lead at that initial session (which was actually intended as a Flowerpot Men session until the brains behind the group decided on the switch). The band carried on as a five-piece, releasing three more singles in 1970 and eventually a self-titled album. The album sold respectively in the U.K. but only reached number 166 on the U.S. charts after a skimpy four-week run. The album as well as all their singles were produced by the prolific duo of Roger Greenaway and Roger Cook. They also wrote most of the songs. They guided the sound of White Plains away from the trippy harmony pop of the Flowerpot Men towards a more adult and softly rocking sound. Their output was neatly split between light-hearted and chugging, kiddie pop tunes like "My Baby Loves Lovin'" and "Sunny Honey Girl"; and mainstream pop songs like "You've Got Your Troubles" and "Young Birds Fly," which are bathed in strings and masses of choir-like vocals that wrap around the emotional, Neil Diamond-esque lead vocals.
The group kept plugging away, releasing three singles in 1971 and a sophomore album, When You Are a King, none of which did much on the charts. The next three years found them losing a member, Ricky Wolff was replaced by organist Ron Renolyds, and releasing more singles (two in 1972, three in 1973, and one in 1974); including the cowbell driven "Ecstasy," which is notable for being the rare track written by Roger Cook without Roger Greenaway. However, the band was never able to recapture the success of their first single and in 1974 White Plains left Deram, and in 1976 recorded one last single, "Summer Nights," and stopped recording. After some time apart, most of the band regrouped and began touring the oldies circuit. (AMG).

Tracklist :
01. I've Got You On My Mind (2:46)
02. When Tomorrow Comes Tomorrow (3:56)
03. Taffeta Rose (2:27)
04. (I Remember) Summer Morning (3:46)
05. To Love You (2:34)
06. In A Moment Of Madness (2:53)
07. My Baby Loves Lovin' (2:51)
08. Today I Killed A Man I Didn't Know (3:27)
09. You've Got Your Troubles (4:21)
10. Show Me Your Hand (2:44)
11. Young Birds Fly (2:26)
12. Sunny, Honey Girl (3:12)
13. Lovin' You Baby (3:14)
14. Julie Do Ya Love Me (2:40)
15. Every Little Move She Makes (2:56)
16. When You Are A King (2:55)
17. Gonna Miss Her Mississippi (3:06)
18. Carolina's Comin' Home (2:35)
19. I Can't Stop (3:05)
20. Dad You Saved The World (3:01)
21. Step Into A Dream (2:28)
22. Does Anybody Know Where My Baby Is? (2:42)
23. Julie Anne (3:03)
24. Ecstacy (3:15)

marți, 3 martie 2009

The Grass Roots - Let's Live for Today (1967)

Released in the spring of 1967, Let's Live for Today was almost a musical throwback, steeped in folk-rock, which was fairly passé at the time, rather than psychedelia, but that's what makes it so appealing to listeners today. Listeners in 1967 were probably disappointed that there was nothing on the album as dramatic or memorable as the title track, but everything else is solid folk-rock with a pretty hard edge, which allows it to stand quite well alongside rival releases by the Beau Brummels, the Cryan Shames, the Blue Things, et al. Most of the music here is derived from the P.F. Sloan/Steve Barri songwriting and production team, spiced with four surprisingly strong originals — mostly drawn from the original demo tape that they submitted as the 13th Floor — by the band members themselves. The Sloan-Barri numbers are smooth, hook-laden folk-rock "Things I Should Have Said," "Is It Any Wonder," some of it with a garage band edge, and with elements of mild pop psychedelia ("Wake Up, Wake Up") occasionally manifesting themselves. Sloan and Barri's production gave the music a polish that made it thoroughly commercial without entirely losing sight of the band's fervor; the Grass Roots, only a few months out of playing bowling alleys, rose to the occasion in the singing and the basic playing, but they were also in the hands of two producers who knew how to add such embellishments as an unobtrusive harpsichord or flute over a garage band workout like "Tip of My Tongue," and who also took full advantage of stereo separation. The latter made this album a real treat for the fans, who bought it and got to hear the playing by Sloan (who contributed some guitar), Creed Bratton, and Warren Entner, and the singing by all of them (especially on "Is It Any Wonder") in vivid detail. Also surprising are the group originals, such as Entner and Bratton's "Beatin' Round the Bush" and Bratton's rocking "House of Stone," each of which is a match musically for most of the Sloan-Barri numbers. Admittedly, the lyrics on Sloan and Barri's songs are somewhat more sophisticated than those on most of the group originals, but the simpler words on the latter firm up this album's rock & roll credentials. (AMG).

Tracklist :
1. Things I Should Have Said
2. Wake Up, Wake Up
3. Tip of My Tongue
4. Is It Any Wonder
5. Let's Live for Today
6. Beatin' Round the Bush
7. Out of Touch
8. Won't You See Me
9. Where Were You When I Needed You
10. No Exit
11. This Precious Time
12. House of Stone

luni, 2 martie 2009

Blossom Toes - We Are Ever So Clean (1967)

They never had any commercial success in the U.K. or the U.S., but Blossom Toes were one of the more interesting British psychedelic groups of the late '60s. Starting as the Ingoes, just another of thousands of British R&B/beat bands of the mid-'60s, the group hooked up with legendary impresario Giorgio Gomelsky (early mentor of the Stones and manager of the Yardbirds and Soft Machine, among others) in 1966. Gomelsky changed their name and put them on his Marmalade label. Their 1967 debut LP was miles away from R&B, reflecting an extremely British whimsy and skilled, idiosyncratic songwriting more in line with Ray Davies. After some personnel changes, the group released their second (and final) album a couple years later. Another extremely accomplished work, it was markedly different in character than their first effort, showing a far more sober tone and heavier, guitar-oriented approach. The group broke up at the end of the decade; members Brian Godding and Brian Belshaw formed the equally obscure B.B. Blunder, and Godding became active on the fringes of the British experimental rock scene.
Imagine the late-'60s Kinks crossed with a touch of the absurdist British wit of the Bonzo Dog Band, and you have an idea of the droll charm of Blossom Toes' debut album. Songwriters Brian Godding and Jim Cregan were the chief architects of the Toes' whimsical and melodic vision, which conjured images of a sun-drenched Summer of Love, London style. With its references to royal parks, tea time, watchmakers, intrepid balloon makers, "Mrs. Murphy's Budgerigar," and the like, it's a distinctly British brand of whimsy. It has since been revealed that sessionmen performed a lot of these orchestral arrangements, which embellished the band's sparkling harmonies and (semi-buried) guitars. But the cello, brass, flute, and tinkling piano have a delicate beauty that serves as an effective counterpoint. The group sings and plays as though they have wide grins on their faces, and the result is one of the happiest, most underappreciated relics of British psychedelia. (AMG).

Tracklist :
1. Look at Me I'm You
2. I'll Be Late for Tea
3. The Remarkable Saga of the Frozen Dog
4. Telegram Tuesday
5. Love Is
6. What's It For?
7. People of the Royal Parks
8. What on Earth
9. Mrs Murphy's Budgerigar
10. I Wil Bring You This and That
11. Mister Watchmaker
12. When the Alarm Clock Rings
13. The Intrepid Balloonist's Handbook, Vol. 1
14. You
15. Track for Speedy Freaks (Or Instant LP Digest)

duminică, 1 martie 2009

The Marmalade - Reflections of the Marmalade (1970)

Marmalade is one of those groups that just seems to endure. They are best remembered today for one record, their cover of the Beatles' "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da," although they charted number one records and even Top Ten American singles into the 1970s. The group, especially as constituted up through the early '70s, had many sides, including white soul, harmony dominated pop/rock, and progressive pop, all very much like the Beatles in their middle years. However, it was their cover of a Beatles song, oddly enough, that weighed down their reputation.
In point of fact, they did somewhat resemble the Beatles musically, having started out as a band of teenagers eager to play hard rock & roll; like the Beatles, they developed a great degree of sophistication in their singing and playing, but they never had the freedom to experiment with the different sides of their music. Ironically, in their prime, their career arc most resembled that of the Tremeloes, who made incredibly well-crafted pop/rock but were never taken seriously.
The group re-emerged in the winter of 1969 after nearly a year of inactivity with "Reflections of My Life," a daring original by Campbell and Ford incorporating pop/rock and harder progressive elements, including some superb guitar work. It topped the English charts six weeks after its release, in the final week of January 1970, and became a Top Ten American single as well. They followed this up with the equally appealing (though less successful) "Rainbow," which charted in both England and America.
These twin hits were followed by the LP Reflections of the Marmalade, which proved to be something less than a success, owing to the sheer diversity of sounds on it that ranged from soulful rockers and harmony dominated progressive-sounding material to their covers of singer/songwriter-type repertory. The LP never found an audience in England, but did in America, where it was retitled Reflections of My Life and reached number 71. (AMG).

Tracklist :
1. Super Clean Jean
2. Carolina On My Mind
3. I'll Be Home (In A Day Or So)
4. And Yours Is A Piece Of Mine
5. Some Other Guy
6. Kaleidoscope
7. Dear John
8. Fight Say The Mighty
9. Reflections Of My Life
10. Life Is

The World of Oz - The World of Oz (1969)

The World of Oz were a British psychedelic pop band that enjoyed a short string of successful singles in Europe. Between those major charting records in Holland and a lot of good press at home, the release of an album was planned -- yet they managed to throw it all away with an unexplained split. All four original members -- Tony Clarkson (bass, vocals), David "Kubie" Kubinec (organ), Christopher Robin (guitar, piano, vocals), and David Reay (drums) -- hailed from Birmingham, and had been parts of that city's burgeoning pop/rock culture for varying amounts of time. Clarkson had several years' experience playing in various bands, and had also performed on the European continent. Kubinec had spent two years working mostly in Germany as a member of the Pieces of Mind, doing a mixture of R&B and soul. Reay and Robin (real name Christopher Evans) had played in a band called the Mayfair Set, working in Germany for a year before returning to Birmingham late in 1967, where they broke up. The pair decided to form a new band, and Kubinec and Clarkson were recruited through advertisements in musician magazines. In January of 1968 they formed the group, the "Oz" name and imagery fitting in with the trippy ambience of the late '60s.
This album was, for many years, a choice and expensive collectable in the U.K. and elsewhere, mostly owing to its sheer obscurity -- the group had virtually ceased to exist by the time the 12" vinyl platter made it into record shops on either side of the Atlantic, and it disappeared soon after. But The World of Oz has more than rarity or obscurity to recommend it -- it actually works on two levels, the original album's 11 songs holding up as first-rate sunshine pop, strongly reminiscent of the Bee Gees' Horizontal and Idea albums, while more select parts of the record document a band that was regarded as one of the more promising to come out of late-'60s Birmingham. On the softer side of the music, "Beside the Fire" recalls "World" from the former album, while "Jackie" is strongly reminiscent of any number of early Robin Gibb-sung ballads, and that is hardly to be considered negative criticism. The group does reveal a somewhat heavier sound on "The Hum-Gum Tree," which was also their third single -- the thicker-textured guitar and bass work are probably closer to what this group sounded like on-stage, while the haunting "With a Little Help" mixes a restrained orchestral accompaniment and Beatlesesque harmonies, it's a great compromise between their pop and rock aspects. The music may sometimes seem a bit fey and light, but as with the Bee Gees on Horizontal, one does get a strong sense of a band with some solid chops there beneath the harmonies and orchestral flourishes. "Mandy-Ann" works even better as a horn-and-harmony driven piece with the rhythm section coming to the fore, though one wishes that the producers had avoided one annoying punctuating sound-effect. (AMG).

Tracklist :
1. Muffin Man
2. Bring The Ring
3. Jackie
4. Beside The Fire
5. Hum Gum Tree
6. With A Little Help
7. We've All Seen The Queen
8. King Croesus
9. Mandy Ann
10. Jack
11. Like A Tear
12. Willow's Harp