domenica 27 agosto 2017

Byzantium - Seasons Changing (2013 Prog Temple) 1973

Biography The final album from Byzantium is a real eclectic mix of sounds, more of a sampler of the various members’ backgrounds and stylistic experiences than any kind of cohesive band effort.
And that’s okay for the most part; the tracks here are all very well arranged, and the production is mostly good. The bass and drums seem to wash out from time to time, but that’s not really all that unusual for heavy rock/prog bands of that time period.
Nico Ramsden had moved on to a career of solo and session work by the time this album was released, replaced by guitarists Jamie Rubenstein and Mike Barakan. Both these guys also contribute vocals throughout, as do the rest of the members except drummer Stephen Corduner.
Their first album is impossible to find, but I’ve heard the second several times and have noted in reviews that it sounds a bit like a cross between Uriah Heep and Wishbone Ash. That’s not quite true of this, the band’s third and final album. The first track maybe, but with a little bit of Edgar Winter prog-blues keyboards thrown in for good measure. The group also shows a definite tendency toward commercial-sounding riffs mixed in with some excellent extended guitar jamming. So the roots of proglike music is here, but these guys were all journeymen musicians looking to make their careers in the business, so they weren’t going to shy away from sounds that might either sell, or at least gain the ear of a record executive. In fact, at least three of these guys left good old England and landed in the Los Angeles music scene after Byzantium’s breakup.
“My Season's changing with the Sun” is a short but interesting three-part vocal harmony number with a simple rhythm and a little syncopated percussion, just the kind of thing that reinforces my opinion that these guys were working out a sound that would gain them a big swing in the popular music business. “Show Me the Way” and “I’ll Always be your Friend” on the other hand sound like a different type of commercial play; specifically, very Jeff Lynne-sounding compositions with lively piano, pop vocals, and a simple beat. “October Andy” is a pleasant enough tune but the production is rather flat on the lower end and it ends up sounding pretty muddled.
The album closes with about twenty minutes of ”Something You Said”, a three-part meandering work that moves from soft blues to early seventies pop to a sort of jazzy slow-tempo section to and extended guitar jam. Very cool, very laid-back, very early seventies. Kind of borders on some of the stuff Santana was doing around the same time, and makes for a great close to an otherwise average album.
A few interesting trivia bits on this lineup: guitarist Mike Barakan would resurface a few years later in Los Angeles as the lead guitarist for the band Lone Justice (how’s that for a descriptive genre label?). But by then he was (and still is) going by the name Shane Fontayne. I’m not sure which is his real name. Lone Justice of course was a completely Hollywood fabrication compiled around a flurry of hype and promotion, and would have been rather dull were it not for the stellar vocals of a young Maria McKee, sister of Love founder Bryan MacLean. Shortly after Barakan/Fontayne made his westward migration, McKee abandoned Lone Justice and reversed his path, ending up in Ireland and then Germany for a time. To the best of my knowledge she’s still there.
This is not essential prog music, and an argument could be made it isn’t prog at all. But it is an interesting album, probably mostly to real hard-core modern music collectors. As such it is almost by definition a two star album. Not particularly recommended especially since it’s kind of hard to find and not really worth the effort. Enjoy it if you run across it, but don’t try too hard to add it to your collection. Review by ClemofNazareth

01.What A Coincidence 
02.My Season's Changing With The Sun 
03.Show Me The Way 
04.I'll Always Be Your Friend 
05.October Andy 
06.Something You Said - A Trilogy 
- Part 1 (Something You Said) 
- Part 2 (I Can See You) 
- Part 3 (Morning)

Robin Lamble - vocal, bass 
Chas Jankel - vocal, guitar, keyboards 
Mike Barakan - vocal, guitar 
Jamie Rubinstein - vocal, guitar 
Steve Corduner  drums 

Guest musicians 
Frank Riccotti - conga, conbassa 
B.J. Cole - pedal steel guitar 
David Hentschel - synthesiser 
Robin Sylvester - synthesiser

giovedì 24 agosto 2017

Sweet Smoke - Darkness To Light (2013 Eastworld Records) 1972

Biography Second album of unique psychedelic jazz-rock band Sweet Smoke that celebrates its 40th anniversary, surely is one of those albums which left deep and influence to rock music, but like many somehow was left behind.
Although band`s origins are from Brooklyn in New York where they have been formed in 1967, their true inspiring and creating territory was Germany. To be precise the social community to where they moved from USA at the end of the sixties. Like many hippy free-living communities that functioned in America and Europe, it gave many vibrations for creating a lot of good free-spirit music. After their master-piece debut album “Just a Poke” from 1970 (that ingeniously consisted of only two twenty-minute songs with long and technically sophisticated instrumental parts, that individually where placed on each side of the vinyl LP), they went farther in experimenting with second. This six-song story is practically the aftermath of their first album. Five-piece band enlarged to seven members. The debut formation, that consisted of Marvin Kaminovitz  (lead guitar and vocals), Andy Dershin (bass guitar), Michael Paris (tenor saxophone, alto recorder, vocals, percussion), Jay Dorfman (percussion and drums) and Steve Rosenstein (guitar and vocals) added Rochus Kuhn (violin, cello) and Jeffrey Dershin (piano, percussion, vocals) in order spread the musical possibilities.
“From Farkness to Light” is more acoustic and diversified that the first one. Each of six songs have their own stories, that create an, practically, tangible atmosphere. Album starts with “Just another empty dream” - maybe the only song that more or less reminds of the first album, maybe because of its tempo and rhythm brakes in the middle. Second song “I'd Rather Burn Than Disappear” is a deep-minded confession in folk sounding acoustic manners, accompanied with alto recorder’s soft and pure sound. That`s where the band already moved the barriers of their musical experimenting. Much farther they went with the third, last A side song – Kundalini, that shows how much they were influenced and inspired by yoga and Indian culture they experienced in commune. Song transforms to jazz jamming closer to the end.
B side begins with folk rock track “Believe me my friends” that has that Crosby Stills and Nash groove and multi-vocal support. At some parts it even goes more progressive, and of course more jazzy. Next “Show Me the Way to the War” is funky-jazz oriented song probably inspired by Vietnam and the whole cold political situation that they observed from the peace environment they were at the moment. The last song album-titled “Darkness to Light” is almost thirteen-minute mix of various influences demonstrated in this combination of soft singing poem and good individual solos with many rhythm breaks.

Maybe this is not band`s best issue, especially comparing it to their debut, but it`s definitely the album each psychedelic rock fan must hear, because of its diversity in innovation of the arrangements and writing. Review by Andrija Babovic

01.Just An Empty Dream 4:24
02.I'd Rather Burn Than Disappear 4:18
03.Kundalini 13:28
04.Believe Me My Friends 4:30
05.Show Me The Way To The War 5:33
06.Darkness To Light 12:50

Michael Paris - saxophone, block flute, percussion, vocals
Marvin Kaminowitz - lead guitar, vocals, percussion
Steve Rosenstein - rhythm guitar, percussion, vocals
Jeffrey Dershin - piano, percussion, vocals
Andrew Dershin - bass guitar, percussion
Jay Dorfman - drums, percussion
Rochus Kuhn - violincello
Marty Rosenberg - percussion on "Believe Me My Friends" and tenpura on "Kundalini"
Puppa Kuhn - flute on "Darkness to Light"
Peter von de Locht - alto saxophone on "Darkness to Light"

lunedì 14 agosto 2017

Paice Ashton Lord - Malice In Wonderland (2001 Purple Records Special Edition) 1976

Biography The Deep Purple spin-off project Paice Ashton Lord were formed by ex-Deep Purplers Ian Paice (drums) and Jon Lord (organ) with Tony Ashton, who had been in the Remo Four during the British Invasion era and then in Ashton, Gardner & Dyke (famous for "Resurrection Shuffle"). When they got together in mid-1976, Deep Purple had just broken up; for the sole Paice Ashton Lord album, the sound was filled out by guitarist Bernie Marsden and bassist Paul Martinez. That LP, Malice in Wonderland, was not nearly as heavy as Deep Purple had been, though it still owed much to mainstream British hard rock. However, there was a fair amount of jazz influence in the arrangements (which sometimes included brass) and some soul ingredients to the songwriting. All of this didn't add up to anything more than an average mid-'70s rock album, the kind you could have heard as filler on numerous AOR-oriented FM stations at the time. You didn't, though, since the album didn't sell much, and Paice Ashton Lord disbanded, although they did start work on a second LP. Eight songs from the unreleased second album appeared on the CD reissue of Malice in Wonderland on Purple Records in 2001. Review by Richie Unterberger

01.Ghost Story 5:46
02.Remember The Good Times 5:47
03.Arabella (Oh Tell Me) 4:07
04.Silas & Jerome 3:25
05.Dance With Me Baby 3:22
06.On The Road Again, Again 4:00
07.Sneaky Private Lee 6:08
08.I`m Gonna Stop Drinking 5:10
09.Malice In Wonderland 6:06
Bonus Tracks
10.Steamroller Blues (Another Story 2001) 4:52
11.Nasty Clarinet (2001) 4:30
12.Black & White (2001) 4:14
13.Moonburn (2001) 3:21
14.Dance Coming (2001) 4:57
15.Goodbye Hello LA (2001) 3:55
16.Untitled (2001) 3:16
17.Ballad Of Mr. Giver (2001) 5:53

Ian Paice - drums, percussion
Tony Ashton - vocals, keyboards
Jon Lord - keyboards, synthesizer
Paul Martinez - bass
Bernie Marsden - guitar, backing vocals

giovedì 3 agosto 2017

Skip Bifferty - Skip Bifferty (2010 Grapefruit Records) 1968

Biography Many genuine psychedelic enthusiasts feel like heading for the hills when the phrase "psychedelic pop" rears its head in reviews, especially when used in connection with British bands of the late '60s one gets sonic images of tinkling harpsichords and trippy pop/rock tunes. Skip Bifferty's self-titled LP is one of the notable exceptions oh, they're cheerfully spaced out, and their music is heavily ornamented with bells, echo, and all manner of sound effects, but at its core, this was a ballsy, hard-playing band that recognized the need for a solid rock & roll base to this kind of music. They might not exactly have been the Rolling Stones but they could have given the Idle Race or the Creation a run for their money. "Guru" is the trippiest number here, a tabla-laden piece of minimalist psychedelia that's all voices chanting and pounding percussion, and it works. "Time Track" is a crunchy, guitar-driven workout with a pleasing (though disjointed) break, and "Gas Board Under Dog" is a cute, comical number that breaks up the mood, while "Orange Lace" is reminiscent of "Pegasus" by the Hollies, a kind of psychedelic lullaby, and it's followed up by the soaring, driving "Planting Bad Seeds," a piece of high-wattage psychedelic punk with a chorus that could have come off of the Move's Shazam album; and "Follow the Path of the Stars" is British psychedelic soul. In all, it's cheerful psychedelia with a hard edge and some great virtuoso playing, pleasingly heavy guitar, soaring choruses, and eerie psych-pop lyrics evoking variant states of mind, somewhat akin to Pink Floyd's early singles laced with the kind of heavy edge that the Creation brought to the genre. The 2001 CD-R reissue features three singles tracks as bonuses, of which two are fairly dire, but the third, "Man in Black," is as good as anything on the original LP. Review by Bruce Eder

01.Money Man 2:55
02.Jeremy Carabine 2:26
03.When She Comes To Stay 2:02
04.Guru 2:46
05.Come Around 2:49
06.Time Track 3:32
07.Gas Board Under Dog 2:21
08.Inside The Secret 3:04
09.Orange Lace 2:34
10.Planting Bad Seeds 2:04
11.Yours For At Least 24 4:07
12.Follow The Path Of The Stars 2:31
13.Prince Germany The First 2:11
14.Clearway 51 2:19
Bonus Track
15.On Love 2:45
16.Cover Girl 2:48
17.Happy Land 2:42
18.Reason To Live 1:45
19.Man In Black 2:45
20.Round And Round 3:46
21.Skizoid Revolution 3:29
22.Jesus Smith(The Other Side Of) 2:23
23.Skizoid Revolution(Alternative Version) 3:28

Graham Bell - Vocals
Jon Turnball - Guitar
Micky Gallagher - Keyboards
Colin Gibson - Bass
Tom Jackman - Drums

domenica 23 luglio 2017

Jeremy Spencer - Jeremy Spencer And The Children (2007 FootPrint Records) 1972

Biography Jeremy Spencer and the Children is an album by British blues rock musician Jeremy Spencer, who was a member of Fleetwood Mac from 1967 to 1971. Released in 1972, this is his second solo album although it was credited to Jeremy Spencer and the Children, referring to his band made up of members of the Children of God (Family International) organisation. After leaving Fleetwood Mac while on tour in the United States in February 1971, Spencer joined the Children of God and has remained with the organisation ever since. The band toured in the US and released a single "Can You Hear the Song" / "The World in Her Heart" to accompany this album. The lyrics were heavily religious, with references to the love of God, finding purpose in life within Christianity, along with anti-war themes and apocalypticism. Although this was the first recording for which Spencer dropped his mimicry and parody of 1950s music and Elmore James blues tunes, he nevertheless continued to show his talent for drawing inspiration from other styles of music. Influences from many contemporary sources can be heard, such as The Byrds, The Beatles, Jefferson Airplane and Creedence Clearwater Revival. Spencer has often stated in interviews that he was unhappy with the poor production quality on the album, once declaring, "It was just like mud."
It has never been released on CD, and Spencer has said that the master recordings were lost in a fire many years ago, but recently he expressed an interest in reworking some of the songs. Wiki

01.Can You Hear The Song 3:00
02.The World In Her Heart 3:15
03.Joan Of Arc 3:41
04.The Prophet 3:23
05.When I Looked To See The Sunshine 4:28
06.Let's Get On The Ball 4:23
07.Someone Told Me 3:43
08.Beauty For Ashes 2:57
09.War Horse 6:05
10.I Believe In Jesus 2:16

Jeremy Spencer - vocals, slide guitar, piano
Michael - harmonica, guitar, vocals
Phil Ham - lead guitar, flute, sitar
Moriah - vocals, tambourine
Boaz - bass guitar, vocals, recorder
Ginnethon - drums, congas, timpani, tablas

giovedì 20 luglio 2017

Fate - Sgt.Death (Shadoks Music Normal Records) 1968

(1) Biography Jay Sneider's first band The Electrons came together in Saco, Maine in 1963. They soon changed their name to The Id and would release two 45s that have become highly prized by moronic record collectors. The second 45 released as Euphoria's Id to differentiate them from several other Ids around at that time. Around 1967 Sneider (now Snyder) and drummer Skip Smith formed Fate.
The album was recorded in 1968 under the guidance of Thomas Jefferson Kaye at Studio 3 in New York, where Billy Joel's Hassles would record their debut LP. Demos were sent out and the popular DJ Roscoe (also the voice on an album by John Berberian) started playing it. It would be picked up by a couple more NYC stations, yet the only record label to show any interest was Musicor. Still the band's production company (Elephant 5) chose to pass on the offer, nothing further happened and a disillusioned band went their separate ways.
Such a shame; this is an accomplished opus and so evocative of its time. The mood is reflective, often sombre, but also confrontational (as in the overtly anti-Vietnam title track). Stylistically it varies from baroque-rock with psychy flashes to hard melodic rock, and a strong hint of The Doors on the more introspective cuts. The latter comparison used to irritate Jay Snyder but the setting, key and timbre of Frank Youngblood's vocals makes this unavoidable. Sexual Fantasy #8 is an immediate stand-out; it has a pealing George Harrison-like guitar motif that'll haunt you for months. Elsewhere they take on the blues and Bo Diddley in a hard-rock setting with searing guitar.
Jay Snyder recounts his musical odyssey and the stories behind his songs in revealing detail on both CD and LP. A very welcome and recommended release. Incidentally, the opening track on the original demo album, Prelude, was omitted from the reissues as it was not recorded by Fate, instead being put together by their producer.
An article in Billboard magazine in October 1968 reported that "Fate's demonstration discs are being played on three radio stations in New York", but the only original copy so far to turn up has a mastering date of February 1969 etched in the vinyl trail-off. It could be that there were different demo discs in circulation at different times. If you actually own one of these original demo FATE records, you could sell it on ebay to a moronic record collector and buy the entire state of Hawaii
By specimen unknown

(2) Biography The roots of the American group Fate dates back to 1963 when Maine was formed group The Electrons, amending later name to The Nomads, The Id (under this name they released even one single), and ultimately on The Euphoria's Id (under which the band released their next single, and years later, in 2003, a compilation collecting all the recordings the group, entitled "Mastering the Art of French Kissing"). The team consisted of keyboardist Jay Snyder (born. Sneider), drummer Skip Smith, singer / guitarist Jimmy Drown, bassist Terry Drown, and saxophonist David Wakefield. In 1967, Snyder and Smith decided to form a new band, which they called Fate. Composition fulfilled vocalist Frank Youngblood, guitarist Steve Dore, and bassist Art Webster.

In 1968, in New York, the musicians recorded their only material. The recordings were sent to radio stations and soon the group received a proposal to release the album on a small label Musicor. However, it was rejected by the production company Elephant 5, with whom the band collaborated. More offers did not come, and disappointed they had decided to go their separate ways and hearing about them missing. At least until 1999, when the American label Rockadelic released album "Sgt. Death" in the limited, red vinyl. It contained all the recordings, which the team has made during that session. In Europe the album was released on compact disc, German label Shadoks. Title and order of the songs was the same as on the album Rockadelic, but was changed to cover.

From the very beginning of the album "Sgt. Death" sounds like a lost work of The Doors - sound bodies Jay Snyder is the same as in Ray Manzarka and vocalist Frank Youngblood, not only sings in the style of Jim Morrison, but the tone of voice is very similar. Some of the songs could easily hit the recorded at the same time, "Waiting for the Sun" (especially "Simone"). The only difference is the presence of bass (very clear indeed), and on a bigger role guitars - if Robby Krieger in some songs of The Doors show his skills as a soloist, as Steve Dore doing it in almost every piece (shapely solos played in catchy "Sergeant Death" and the somewhat dreary ballad "Mannequin"). Sometimes it happens that the keys suffer as a result ("Sexual Fantasy"). On the other hand, here is a song, but rather a miniature, which is actually a solo show of keyboardist ("Having a Cigarette"). Almost any song does not go below a certain level (the exception is dismal "I Need a Woman").

Do not forget the lyrics - songs were created during the war in Vietnam, which is why the opposition against the war, fear and anxiety are the dominant theme of the album. By "Sgt. Death" leaves little to be desired, but no fan of psychedelic rock should not be disappointed with this material. by adamus67

01.Sergeant Death 5:04
02.Simone 3:59
03.Sexual Fantasy 3:39
04.Having a Cigarette 2:11
05.I Need a Woman 4:12
06.Hungry Lovin' Blues 2:44
07.Mannequin 5:43
08.Tribute To The Bo 4:20
09.Smoke & Stone 5:09

Steve Dore - Guitar
Skip Smith - Drums
Jay Sneider (Snyder) - Keyboards, Vocals
Art Webster - Bass
Frank Youngblood - Vocals

giovedì 13 luglio 2017

Isaiah - Isaiah (2014 Digatone Records 2CD Digipack) 1975

Biography Isaiah's only album 1975 features a mix of jazz, blues and progressive rock elements. Lead by the charismatic voice of flautist and guitarist Gert Raabe, the band counts as one of Austria's most versatile bands of the 1970's, often likened to Jethro Tull, YES and ELP. Digatone restored their demos for the previously unreleased second album which were declined by the label at the time for being too weird. The band disbanded 1977. Original copies of the album very rarely come up for sale these days and when they do command a price of several hundred €uros. For the first time available: 2xLP + 2xCD Deluxe Reissue incl. their rare original album, a LP full of unreleased songs, liner notes & enhanced bonus material. Heavy gatefold package with glued in and removable CD.

CD1 The Original Album 1975
01.Jericho 5:10
02.Summer Farewell 5:11
03.Leave It All Behind 5:28
04.Afterwards 7:42
05.Prophet 8:39

CD2 Unreleased Demos 1973 - 1977
01.Playing The Circle Game 2:43
02.Nightmare 4:35
03.Same To You 4:46
04.No Reason 4:46
05.The Fighter 4:21
06.Long Way 10:35
07.Hero 11:15
08.Sunset 3:43

Gerd Raabe - lead vocals, flute, acoustic guitar
Michael Bornhorst - tenor sax, clarinet
Hans Gasser - bass guitar
Walter Reschauer - drums, percussion
Edu Weber - lead guitar, 12-string guitar, backing vocals
Hubertus K. Nolte - piano, Fender Rhodes, keyboards, backing vocals

mercoledì 12 luglio 2017

Spot - Spot (Black Rills Records Digipack) 1971

Biography An early seventies Swiss band that showcases heavy blues-rock in fusion with the psychedelic influences of other swiss bands like Krokodil or Country Lane. Some excellent guitar playing. Great copy of this stunning guitar prog LP by the Switzerland-based band! I have a press kit in my archive on this group which reveals that the singer was Greek, the bassist and drummer were both Swiss, and their incredible guitarist John Woolloff was British, so he may well be the John Wooloff that later played fusion with Patrick Moraz. The Spot LP is one of the rarest from the European underground scene for sure; it was pressed across the border in France under contract like the Splendid label stuff was (Pacific Sound, Aftershave, etc.), which makes it highly unlikely that it ever made it past an initial order of a few hundred copies for their local fan base. If you like heavy rock with searing distorted wah-wah guitar, this has it. If you like the juxtaposition provided by the short acoustic numbers on the Tractor LP, Spot does that as well. All the vocals are in English. 

01.I Am One 1:55
02.By the Way 4:44
03.Portobello 4:42
04.In My Dreams 3:50
05.Free 4:30
06.Travelling Man 3:28
07.Jersey Thursday 6:30
08.I Know 4:22
09.Oh What a Day 4:58
Bonus Tracks 
10.Sabre Dance 3:34
11.Who Are You 3:22

Pavlo Pendaki - vocals, keyboards
John Woolloff - lead guitar, vocals
Andre Jungo - bass
Philippe Dubugnon - drums


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