Friday, 18 April 2014

Alan Hull - Pipedream (1973)

Pipedream is the Debut Solo Album by the English Folk-Rock Singer Alan Hull.
Alan Hull started his musical career in a Band called The Chosen Few alongside Mick Gallagher in 1962. He was working as a nurse in a mental hospital to support himself through this times. In 1968 he joined The Downtown Faction which evolved into Lindisfarne in 1970, when they released their Debut. It was with Lindisfarne that he came to prominence, as the main contributor in terms of Songwriting and being one of the Lead-Vocalists, he was regarded by everybody as the leader of the Band, and as the Band was receiving loads of attention, getting their Album on the Top 10, he became a notorious musical figure at the time. By the time of their Third Album, Dingly Dell, he became dissatisfied with the Band and together with the other Lead-Vocalist of the Band, Ray "Jacka" Jackson, made a complete re-formation. That very same year, 1973, Alan Hull released his Debut Album, Pipedream, shortly after the Original Line-Up collapsed, featuring Band Members from the First and Second generation of Lindisfarne Musicians. Pipedream is mostly a reclusive Album, talking about his personal life and experiences.
Best Tracks - "Breakfast", "Just Another Sad Song", "Money Game", "United States Of Mind", "Country Gentleman's Wife", "Song For A Windmill" and "Blue Murder". I was quite impressed with Pipedream, more than i was expecting. I must say that I have an irrational fear of Solo Albums, and i always expect them to be weaker than Band Albums, I am not sure why this happens. Nonetheless this was a great experience and I recommend anyone interested in British Folk-Rock should listen to this fantastic Album. The Cover-Art is just amazing, a painting by René Magritte, where a man is smoking his own nose. Great choice.

Alan Hull (Pipedream Personnel):
- Alan Hull - Lead-Vocals, Guitar, Piano, Harmonium.
- John Turnbull - Guitar.
- Colin Gibson - Bass.
- Ken Craddock - Piano, Organ, Harmonium, Electric Piano, Guitar.
- Ray Laidlaw - Drums.
- Ray Jackson - Harp, Mandolin, Vocals.
- Dave Brooks - Saxophone.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Dando Shaft - An Evening With Dando Shaft (1970)


An Evening With Dando Shaft is the Debut Album by the British Psychedelic/Progressive Folk Band Dando Shaft.
Dando Shaft formed in 1968 in Coventry, England, taking their name from a 1965 Book by Don Calhoun with the same name. The Band started as a Quintet, later adding a Sixth Member in 1970. For two years Dando Shaft played in Local English venues until being contacted by the Young Blood Records Label and getting a record contract with them. As soon as they got it, they started preparing their First Album, an entirely Acoustic (No electric instruments were used) Folk Album, focusing in the relationship of Man with Nature. When An Evening With Dando Shaft was released in 1970, they were immediately compared with another Folk-Revival Band which most of you know, Pentangle (the comparisons would increase when they added a Female Vocalist to their Band as Pentangle have Jacqui McShee as their Lead-Singer). Dando Shaft were however much more Folk oriented than Pentangle, at least in this Album, as they would implement a lot of Jazz in their next 2 Albums.
Best Tracks - "Rain", "Cold Wind", "September Wine", "In The Country", "End Of The Game" and "Lazily Slowly". It is a great Album, and everyone who likes the British Folk-Revival should check this one out. They are fantastic musicians and they composed amazing songs. I am definitively going to check their other 2 Albums, so expect them to be posted here in a near future. Enjoy!

Dando Shaft:
- Ted Kay - Percussion.
- Dave Cooper - Vocals, Guitar.
- Kevin Dempsey - Bass, Guitar, Vocals.
- Martin Jenkins - Flute, Mandolin, Violin, Vocals.
- Roger Bullen - Bass.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Sandy Denny - The North Star Grassman And The Ravens (1971)

The North Star Grassman And The Ravens is the Debut Solo Album by the English Folk Singer Sandy Denny.
Denny's Band Fotheringay had ended due to Joe Boyd's job change, and as such she needed a place where she could continue showing her Songwriting and Vocal capacities. This time however she wasn't going to go through the work of forming a new Band, but she would go Solo. Work on her Debut began in March 1971, and only came to an end in May, already in a different Studio. Two songs from Fotheringay were used (They were recording an Album when the Band was "forced" to end) as were two songs by Bob Dylan ("Down In The Flood" and "Let's Jump The Broomstick"), the rest of them being Denny's own Songs, written and composed by her alone. Initially John Wood was supposed to Produce the Album, and he even did some things, recommending her to use the arranger Harry Robinson, who had quite a hand on the Album, but in the end it was Denny who Produced it herself (Richard Thompson, from Fairport Convention also helped it the Producing).
Best Tracks - "Late November", "Blackwaterside", "John The Gun", "The Optimist", "Wretched Wilbur", "The North Star Grassman And The Ravens" and "Crazy Lady Blues". It is not the best Album by Sandy Denny, not even the Best Solo Album, but it stands as a great listen and it has some great songs on it, like "Blackwaterside" (I'm in love with this song, what can i do?). Denny's voice is without a shadow of a doubt one of the greatest of the last century, and listening to her work his mandatory, and while most mandatory things are quite bad, this one is more than pleasant to oblige.

Sandy Denny (The North Star Grassman And The Ravens Personnel):

- Barry Dransfield - Back-Vocals, Violin.
- Buddy Emmons - Pedal Steel Guitar.
- Gerry Conway - Drums.
- Ian Whiteman - Piano, Flute, Organ.
- Jerry Donahue - Electric Guitar.
- Pat Donaldson - Bass.
- Richard Thompson - Accordion, Electric,Acoustic And 12-Sting Guitar, Bass, Vocals.
- Robin Dransfield - Back-Vocals.
- Roger Powell - Drums.
- Royston Wood - Back-Vocals.
- Sandy Denny - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Piano.
- Tony Reeves - Bass.
- Trevor Lucas - Acoustic Guitar, Back-Vocals.


Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Van Der Graaf Generator - Still Life (1976)

Still Life is the Sixth Album by the English Progressive Rock Band Van Der Graaf Generator.
Van Der Graaf Generator had a difficult run right singe their formation in 1967. They had multiple problems with Labels (specifically the Record Label Mercury), their manager, who was also a founder of the Label Charisma Records, failed to support the Band financially and to advertise them, and when they were getting started their gear was stolen. By 1972 they were threw of all this problems and called it a quit. Even so, they kept getting along with each other, even helping Peter Hammill to record his Solo Album. The Classic Line-up decided then that it was time to start recording again, and in 1975 they got together once again and in a period of 12 months were able to record 3 Albums heavily influenced not only by the Progressive sound but also by Classical music and Jazz, giving the Band a much darker sonority. The lyrics of Still Life are mostly about Humanity and its Psychological existence. Van Der Graaf's Tour in 1975 in Italy caused numerous riots and problems with the police, which for me is extremely important as i down-grade every Band that hasn't sparked a riot once on their career. Just another note before ending, the Albums recorded during this period of the Band were produced by themselves, which didn't happen in their earlier works.
Best Tracks - "Pilgrims", "La Rossa" and "My Room (Waiting For Wonderland)". I wanted to listen to Van Der Graaf Generator for a while, and when i decided to look for an Album to listen to, i chose this one simply because it had an awesome Cover (a Lichtenberg figure) and i choose Albums numerous times because their covers are fantastic. The Music however matched its interior, it is a great Album.

Van Der Graaf Generator:
- Peter Hammill – Vocals, Guitar, Piano.
- David Jackson– Saxophone, Flute.
- Hugh Banton - Organ, Bass, Mellotron, Piano.
- Guy Evans - Drums, Percussion.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Quintessence - In Blissful Company (1969)

In Blissful Company is the Debut Album by the Psychedelic/Raga Rock Band Quintessence.
Quintessence was formed in April 1969 by the Flautist Raja Ram following and advertisement in the Music Magazine Melody Maker and an audition in an hall in Notting Hill. The six Members who formed the Band were all deeply involved with Indian Mysticism and Hinduism, but were also involved with Christianity and of course Buddhism who was, as you all know, very common amongst the Hippies. One of their first gigs in a Festival allowed them to be spotted by the just formed Island Records, getting them signed as one of the first Bands on the Label (along with Jethro Tull, Sandy Denny and Nick Drake). Their concerts were regarded as being very good, they often Jammed on-stage and brought local Hare-Krishna to sing chants with them, as their main goal when playing was to bring their audience into a Trance, much to what the Grateful Dead did when they played The Merry Pranksters Acid Tests. Their sound was a mesh of Jazz with a lot of Indian Influences and a lick of Progressive Rock and Psychedelia, with the use of Flute and Sitars which lead them to be very well regarded by the masses at the time.
Best Tracks - "Giants", "Manco Capac", "Body", "Gange Mai", Notting Hill Gate" and "Midnight Mode". A very interesting Album. I have been interested in the Indian-influenced Music lately and this Band was a great find. I will check out their other Albums (they still recorded 4 more Albums) and maybe in the future I will post another one by them.

Quintessence:
- Shiva Shankar Jones - Vocals, Keyboards.
- Raja Ram - Flutes, Bell, Percussion, Raspers.
- Alan Mostert - Lead Guitar.
- Maha Dev (Dave Codling) - Rhythm Guitar.
- Shambhu Baba (Bhava) - Bass.
- Jake Milton - Drums.
- Mike - Sitar.
- Surya - Tamboura.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers - Bare Wires (1968)

Bare Wires is the Fifth and Final Album by the English Blues-Rock Band John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers.
By the time of the release of Bare Wires, on June 1968, John Mayall was done with the purist Blues phase, at least for now, and was ready to try to do something more in touch with the Sound of the Time. The Bluesbreakers were not the same. Peter Green, Keef Hartley and Andy Fraser had all been replaced when Bare Wires started to be recorded, all of them going for other musical directions, like Fleetwood Mac, which lead this Album to have an almost new Line-up. This continuos change of Band Members lead John Mayall to drop the Bluesbreakers moniker and start recording as a Solo artist, as right after the Band released this one, there were more desertions. Despite all this conflicts behind the scenes, this was the Band's best-selling Album and also John Mayall's best-seller ever. The Cover on this one is also very important, you can almost sense the changes on the Band's music just by looking at their Discography's Covers. Bare Wires Cover is a product of its time. The Photo is by Pete Smith and colored by Jan Persson.
Best Tracks - "Bare Wires - Suite", "I'm A Stranger", "No Reply", "Hartley Quits" and "Sandy". I listened this Album on a friend's house and heard it, start to finish, about 4 times in a row. It is a very interesting listen and advised to Blues fans.

John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers:
- John Mayall – Vocals, Harmonica, Piano, Harpsichord, Organ, Harmonium, Guitar.
- Mick Taylor – Lead Guitar, Hawaiian Guitar.
- Chris Mercer – Tenor, Baritone Saxophone.
- Dick Heckstall-Smith – Tenor, Soprano Saxophone.
- Jon Hiseman – Drums, Percussion.
- Henry Lowther – Cornet, Violin.
- Tony Reeves – Bass.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Them - Time Out! Time In For Them (1968)

Time Out! Time In For Them is the Second Album by the Northern Irish Psychedelic-Rock Band Them.
It was with Them that Van Morrison reached the International Circuit, as with the previous Band he had, the Monarchs, he only got to tour U.S. Military bases in Scotland, Germany and England. But after a dispute with Decca Records the Band broke-up (not before playing some concerts with The Doors as their openers and influencing a young Jim Morrison). In 1967, the remains of the Band, now without Morrison regrouped and left behind the R&B influences and as many Bands of the age they were extremely influenced by oriental sounds (Raga-Rock) and there is quite a lot of Sitars and such sounds on this Album. In America they quickly entered the West-Coast stream and settled in Los Angeles, where they were signed to the same Label where The Chocolate Watchband was also playing for, called Rev-Ola. Them would still release 3 more Albums, the last one Live, which have all been re-issued by both Rev-Ola and Fallout. Time Out! Time In For Them and their previous Record, Now And Them, still remain as the Bands best Post-Morrison Albums.
Best Tracks - "Time Out For Time In", "She Put A Hex On You", "Bent Over You", "Waltz Of The Flies", "Black Widow Spider", "Just On Conception" and "But It's Alright". This Album was a find! It is great Psychedelic rock played by excellent Musicians and with the right amount of Oriental Sounds. Jim Armstrong, especially, is one hell of a Guitarist and a Sitar Player.

Them:
- Kenny McDowell - Lead-Vocals.
- Alan Henderson - Bass.
- Jim Armstrong - Guitar, Sitar.
- Dave Harvey - Drums.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Spirit - Twelve Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus (1970)

Twelve Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus is the Forth Album by the American Psychedelic-Rock Band Spirit.
This was the last Album by the original Line-Up of the Band, as as soon as the Album was released two of the founding Members left to form a Band called Jo Jo Gunne (Jay Ferguson and Mark Andes) and Ray California leaving for a while to pursue a Solo career. During the recording California fell from his horse and fractured his skull, resulting in a delay of several months, as he spent more than 1 month recovering at the hospital and another one at home. Even after all that he couldn't still work as he had before for a while. The Last Album is also considered to be the Bands best, overcoming their Debut, which is also regarded as one of the Bands best works, but which lacks the amazing songwriting and composition characteristics of Dr. Sardonicus. Mind you that this is a Conceptual Album, not telling a story, but with a main theme that is followed in every song. Our existence and its fragility. Spirit is one of the Best Bands of their age, and were extremely influential to today's Music.
Best Tracks - "Prelude - Nothin' To Hide", "Nature's Way", "Animal Zoo", "Love Has Found A Way", "Space Child", "When I Touch You" and "Street Worm". I don't know why i hadn't listened to Spirit since i posted their Debut. I truly don'y know why i did so. Well, it was a mistake and it is now corrected, as i will now listen to the two Albums between Dr. Sardonicus and Spirit.

Spirit:
- Mark Andes - Bass, Vocals.
- Randy California - Bass, Guitar, Vocals.
- Ed Cassidy - Percussion, Drums.
- Jay Ferguson - Percussion, Keyboards, Vocals.
- John Locke - Keyboards.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Miles Davis - Bitches Brew (1970)

Bitches Brew is the Thirty Forth Album by the American Jazz Musician Miles Davis.
In 1968, acts like Sly & The Family Stone, Jimi Hendrix and James Brown, influenced immensely Miles, along with the growing Acid-Rock movement. Miles entered then his Electrical age, transforming his Old-Style quintet in a full garnished "Rock" Band, and adding new Members of the new generations tho his ranks. Chick Corea and John McLaughlin were replacing the older Members (even though they would still play with him numerous times) and bringing new sounds to the group, both Live and in Studio. Bitches Brew was recorded in just 3 days, and the numerous Musicians who played on it where not given any orientation on what to do until some moments before the recording, and even then they were just told basic stuff like the Tempo, some chords and the basic Melody. On some of the quieter moments you can even hear Miles talking to some of the Musicians telling them what they should do now. Miles wanted to work this way to force the Musicians to pay more attention to eachother. This Album earned Miles Davis his first Gold Record and is nowadays considered to be on the Top Ten Jazz Albums ever.
Best Tracks - "Pharaoh's Dance", "Bitches Brew", "Spanish Key", "John McLaughlin" and "Miles Runs The Voodoo Down". Bitches Brew is also considered to be one of the first Jazz-Rock Fusion Albums ever, and many of the Members of the Band like McLaughlin and Corea would go on to expand the genre with other seminal works of the Genre.

Bitches Brew:
- Miles Davis – Trumpet
- Wayne Shorter – Soprano Saxophone.
- Bennie Maupin – Bass Clarinet.
- Joe Zawinul – Electric Piano.
- Chick Corea – Electric Piano.
- John McLaughlin – Electric Guitar.
- Dave Holland – Bass.
- Harvey Brooks – Electric Bass.
- Lenny White – Drums.
- Jack DeJohnette – Drums.
- Don Alias – Drums, Congas.
- Juma Santos (Jim Riley) – Shaker, Congas.
- Larry Young – Electric Piano.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Okko - Sitar & Electronics (1971)

Sitar & Electronics is the Debut Solo Album by the Dutch Multi-instrumentalist Okko Bekker.
I'll start by saying that i did not find much information on Okko. Okko Bekker emerged on the Hamburg scene on the Late 60's, obviously influenced by Eastern Sounds and Synth music. In 1971 Okko Bekker set of to record his Debut Album where he mixed those two influential Sonority's thus creating Sitar & Electronics (a quite explicit name) where he played the Sitar and Synthesizer accompanied by some Flutes, Guitars and Tablas played by some Psychedelic Musicians. The Album was recorded in Windrose-Dumont-Time Studios, if anyone is interested to know. Of the 8 songs present on the Album there are two covers, both Beatles songs ("A Day In The Life" and "If I Needed Someone"). They are quite good covers, with little resemblance to the original songs, which is what all Covers should be like. I heard that he went on to play with some Bands which names i do not know. The Producer of this Album is Henning Ruete and the Artists responsible for its trippy cover were Christian Rabbe and Harke, Rabbe for the Photo and Harke for the Art improvements.
Best Tracks - "Ganges Delta", "East Indian Traffic", "If I Needed Someone", "Shivas Lullaby", "Painted Sails On Ganges" and "A Day in the Life". The Album is not magnificent but very interesting and enjoyable if you are deeply into Instrumental Sitar.

Okko:
- Herb Geller - Flute.
- Peter Haesslein - Guitar.
- Okko Bekker - Tabla, Sitar, Moog Synthesizer.
- Simon Alcott - Moog Synthesizer.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Ravi Shankar - At The Woodstock Festival (1969)

At The Woodstock Festival is a Live Album by the Indian Sitar player Ravi Shankar.
By 1966, after he started hanging out with the likes of George Harrison, Ravi was a very well regarded musician to the whole Hippie crew. Raga Rock was at its peak and he was a mentor to anyone who liked the genre and was seen as the most famous Indian Musician in the whole World. He was sometimes seen around Haight-Astbury in San Francisco. He participated on the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 where he literally blew the minds of both the crowd and the other Musicians performing there (including Jimi Hendrix, who listened to Shankar with his mouth open, as seen in the Recordings of the Festival). After being such great act in Monterey he was thus invited to play the Woodstock Festival in August 1969. Shankar hated the concert and was never a proponent of it, as he also broke up with the Hippie community at the time, he was however the first Musician to release his concert, and one of the few to release the whole performance. By 1970 Shankar had definitely nothing to do with the Hippies, but who cares, by 1970 the Hippies were done with (to my dislike obviously).
Best Tracks - "Raga Puriya - Dhanashri Gat In Sawarital", "Tabla Solo In Jhaptal" and "Raga Manj Khamaj" (all the three songs on the Album). It is not only Shankar who displays a full control over his instrument. Alla Rakha, the Tabla player, is also considered as one of the best Indian Musicians of his age and he shows that abundantly on this Album. This is not his best moment, but it is a great performance in the most famous Festival of all times.

Ravi Shankar (At The Woodstock Festival Personnel):
- Ravi Shankar - Sitar.
- Alla Rakha - Tabla.
- Maya Kulkarni - Tamboura.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Soft Machine - Volume Two (1969)

Volume Two is the Second Album by the English Canterbury Scene Progressive Rock Band Soft Machine.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience were managed by the same managers of Soft Machine, getting them to open to Hendrix's Tour in 1968. It was during this period that Wyatt, Ayers and Ratledge were exposed to large audiences (Daevid Allen went to France when he was denied entry on UK and formed Gong) but in the last concert, Ayers went in another direction (He released some excellent Solo Albums) and thus the Band was no more. Fortunately they had an obligation to the Label to record more Albums, leading Wyatt and Ratledge to re-form again, inviting their Road-Manager and Bassist Hugh Hopper to form a Trio, and getting their hands to work. They were extremely influenced by The Mothers Of Invention 1967 Album Absolutely Free, making them opt for 2 long songs and 2 quick ones instead one 14 separate ones. Even though it was not on purpose, their Sound was starting to evolve into the Jazz Fusion sonority, which they later developed in following Albums. This Line-up was the Backing-Band to Syd Barret's The Madcap Laughs, even though they were uncredited.
Best Tracks - "Pataphysical Introduction - Pt I", "Hibou, Anemone And Bear", "Dada Was Here", "Out Of Tunes", "As Long As He Lies Perfectly Still", "Dedicated To You But You Weren't Listening", "Pig", "A Door Opens And Closes" and "10.30 Returns To The Bedroom" (Since there are only 2 big Songs and two smaller I wrote the best divided Parts of the Songs). This Album revived my interest on the Canterbury Scene and Wyatt (Robert Wyatt is one of my favorite Musicians), it has great Sounds and very Psychedelic-Progrevisse taints. The Cover is also quite weird a sort of collage of a woman's body, all weird, and quite resembling a childhood draw. I can't seem to understand the idea behind it, but it is very appealing.

Soft Machine:
- Robert Wyatt – Drums, Vocals.
- Hugh Hopper – Bass, Acoustic Guitar, Alto Saxophone.
- Brian Hopper – Soprano And Tenor Saxophone.
- Mike Ratledge –Piano.
- Lowrey Holiday De Luxe - Organ, Hammond Organ, Harpsichord, Flute.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Donovan - Mellow Yellow (1967)

Mellow Yellow is the Fourth Album by the Scottish Singer and Guitarist Donovan.
As Sunshine Superman, Mellow Yellow wasn't released in the UK due to Legal problems. This prompted the release of this two Albums together in June 1967, Mellow Yellow blending in with Sunshine Superman under the latter's name. But Mellow Yellow was quite different from the previous record. Mellow Yellow is a transition Album, some of the Songs keep up with the earlier work, some of them being left-overs, but others give the Album a somber sound, showing Donovan's new writing style. An early John Paul Jones features on the Album as an arranger, supposedly against Donovan's will, even though Mickie Most, Donovan's Producer liked his arrangements a lot. Donovan makes a reference to Bert Jansch, undoubtedly one of the most important figures on the Folk Revival of 1965 (if maybe not the most). The Song "House of Jansch". Mellow Yellow was Donovan's Second Electric Album, showing the evolution of Folk Music as just two years earlier Dylan made his famous Electric Debut on the Newport Folk Festival.
Best Tracks - "Mellow Yellow", "Writer In The Sun", "Sand And Foam", "House Of Jansch", "Young Girl Blues", "Museum", "Hampstead Incident" and "Sunny South Kensington". I do think that Sunshine Superman is quite superior, both the Lyrics and the Songs. That does not mean it is not a fantastic Album because it is, listening is mandatory.

Donovan (Mellow Yellow Personnel):
- Donovan - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar.
- Joe Moretti - Rhythm Guitar
- John McLaughlin - Rhythm Guitar
- John Cameron - Piano, Harpsichord, Organ, Celesta.
- Big Jim Sullivan - Electric Guitar.
- Jimmy Page - Electric Guitar.
- Eric Ford - Electric Guitar.
- Danny Thompson - Bass.
- Spike Heatley - Bass.
- John Paul Jones - Bass.
- Phil Seamon - Drums.
- Bobby Orr - Drums.
- Tony Carr - Percussion, Drums.
- Danny Moss - Saxophone.
- Ronnie Ross - Saxophone
- Harold McNair - Flute.
- Shawn Phillips - Sitar.
- Pat Halling - Violin.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Ralph McTell - Spiral Staircase (1969)

Spiral Staircase is the Second Album by the English Folk Singer/Guitarist Ralph McTell.
McTell was heavily influenced by foreign Art movements. African Music and the American Beatniks led him to pick up an Ukelele, later getting a Guitar (The Guitar was only introduced to England on the 50's). Ralph led a life outside of the law, traveling all over the world (Yugoslavia, France, Belgium and Germany) and living in a Caravan in Cornwall. During this period, McTell started playing the Folk Clubs, getting in contact with such personalities as Jacqui McShee and Martin Carthy. The Rhythm of his travels continued, this time through Italy and Greece, when he stopped in Paris, a city he would go to often, he studied Guitar with the famous Reverend Gary Davis. It was in 1966 that he took up the name of McTell, the same time when he started being requested to play in a number of Clubs. From then on his career was set, in 1967 he landed a deal with Transatlantic Records and released his Debut the following year. John Peel and the BBC were pretty enthusiastic with his work and played it on the Radio numerous times giving him a lot of airplay. His Second Album features what is now considered to be his signature song.
Best Tracks - "Streets of London", "Mrs. Adlam's Angels", "Wino And The Mouse", "Last Train And Ride", "Spiral Staircase", "Daddy's Here" and "Rizraklaru (Anag)". I was recommended a book called "Electric Eden" which I currently reading and they mention Ralph over there, as many other artists from the 60's Folk Revival, which led me to a sudden interest in Folk music. This is a very good Album, not one of the best though, it is a landmark Album and an important landmark in Folk history. Thank you again, person who recommended the book! I am enjoying it a whole lot.

Ralph McTell (Spiral Staircase Personnel):
- Ralph McTell - Guitar, Vocals.
- Brian "Brock" Brocklehurst - Double Bass.
- Mick "Henry VIII" Bartlett - Jug.
- "Whispering Mick" Bennett - Washboard.
- Peter Berryman - Guitar.

Steeleye Span - Below The Salt (1972)

Below The Salt is the Fourth Album by the English Folk-Rock Band Steeleye Span.
Below The Salt was the First Album by the new Line-up of Steeleye Span, Ashley Hutchings and Martin Carthy had left, disapproving of the new direction the Band was going to, and going on to pursue more purist Folk Sounds. Below The Salt is often regarded as one of the best Albums by the Band and also the one closer to the Medieval Music (Some of the tracks are reinterpretations of old Renaissance songs). Even the name of the Album is a reference to a practice which happened in the Middle Ages, when the Lords set some Salt on the dining table (Salt as almost every substance of its genre was extremely rare and costly) to separate themselves from their subjects, who sat "below the salt". Their Fourth Album also features their first Hit song "Gaudette", an old christmas song, without any instruments. This did not help the Album that much as they still only reached number 43 on the English Charts. I do not see it as being their best Album, as their previous 3 were better, especially Please To See The King. They were Signed to Chrysalis now, the same Label in which Jethro Tull were, expanding even further the friendship between the Bands.
Best Tracks - "Spotted Cow", "Rosebud In June", "Sheep-Crook And Black Dog", "Royal Forester", "King Henry", "Gaudete", "John Barleycorn" and "Saucy Sailor". Steeleye Span were and are a fantastic Band and after what I've heard until now (about 5 Albums) they haven't let me down. Maddy Prior especially is amazing on this one, her voice is superb and gets her to the same level of other Folk-Singers as the likes of Sandy Denny. Highly recommended!

Steeleye Span:
- Maddy Prior - Vocals.
- Tim Hart - Vocals, Appalachian Dulcimer, Guitar.
- Peter Knight - Violin, Viola, Mandolin, Banjo, Piano, Vocals.
- Rick Kemp - Bass, Drum, Vocals.
- Bob Johnson - Guitar, Vocals.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Tyrannosaurus Rex - Prophets, Seers & Sages: The Angels Of The Ages (1968)

Prophets, Seers & Sages: The Angels Of The Ages is the Second Album by the English Psychedelic-Folk Duo Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Mark Bolan was obviously influenced by the Lord Of The Rings, as his fellow Musician in Tyrannosaurus Rex was named Steve Peregrin Took, which most of you know, is one of the names of the 4 hobbits. For this one any mention of the 20th century was completely erased, dedicating all the songs to Greek and Persian mythology, and once again basing his compositions on LOTR. Overall though the Album is quite similar to their Debut, My People Were Fair And Had Sky In Their Hair... But Now They're Content To Wear Stars On Their Brows and the time between both releases was of just a few months, from July to September, but the follow-up sounds as if they had lost some of their energy, it is all there mind you, but it lacks the Freakish sounds of the Debut. In 1969 Took started getting involved with the more Anarchic, Drug-Taking, Wild faction of the 60's Musicians, influenced by the Pink Fairies and Mick Farren, leading to the first divergence with Bolan, eventually leading to their break-up.
Best Tracks - "Deboraarobed", "Stacey Grove", "Wind Quartets", "Aznageel The Mage", "Salamanda Palaganda", "Eastern Spell" and "Scenescof Dynasty". As I previously said, this one lacks some of the energy and the overall weird arrangements of the Debut, but it is a pretty good Album and should be listened to nonetheless.

Tyrannosaurus Rex:
- Marc Bolan - Vocals, Guitar.
- Steve Peregrine Took - Bongos, African Drums, Kazoo, Pixiephone, Chinese Gong.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Montreal - A Summer's Night (1970)

A Summer's Night is the First and Only Album by the Canadian Psychedelic-Folk/Jazz Band Montreal.
A Summer's Night was recorded shortly before a series of events in Quebec known as the October Crisis, led by a terrorist Marxist-Leninist independence group called Front de libération du Québec. This movement deeply influenced Quebec Musicians who dropped the English language and started singing on their native language, French (only one of the Songs on A Summer's Night features French lyrics). Canadian Musicians Fran Losier, Gilles Losier and Jean Cousineau went to New York where 4 other American Musicians joined them to record the Album, including Richie Havens who plays the Sitar, and is also the Producer. Needless to say, the Album failed to Chart, and i couldn't track the whereabouts of the Musicians after this effort. A Summer's Night isn't obviously a record with the capacity to get to the charts, as it is calm, reflective Music, with many Jazz arrangements and an incredible rendition of "Summertime". Fran Lousier's Voice is probably what i would consider to be the highlight of the whole endeavor.
Best Tracks - "What About The Wind?", "A Summer's Night", "Every Passing Moment", "Summertime" and "Infinity". The Album is very good, no weak points. Soft Psychedelia, Jazz and Folk combined to create a product fit to listen to any fan of the 60's. It grows more and more interesting and enjoyable with each listen.

Montreal:
- Jeremy Stieg - Flute.
- Buzzy Linhart - Vibes.
- Skeeter Camera - Drums.
- Richie Havens - Sitar.
- Fran Losier - Vocals.
- Gilles Losier - Piano, Bass.
- Jean Cousineau - Guitar.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Soft Machine - Third (1970)

Third is the Third Album by the English Canterbury Scene Progressive Rock Band Soft Machine.
Shortly after the Release of Volume Two, their previous Album, 4 Horn Musicians were added to the Band, even though after a couple of months only 1/4 of those Musicians remained in the Band (Elton Dean and his Saxophone). The Albums consists basically of one composition divided in 4 and in 2 different LP's, much in the style of Miles Davis Bitches Brew, marking their evolution from Psychedelic Rock to full-blown Jazz Fusion. Third was in print for over 10 years, a rarity in those days when most Bands were given a single print, and very few copies. The songs were worked with different effects, using old Live recordings and riffs, slowing down and speeding up the tracks, using collages of different songs and creating a old and raunchy sound, due to the use of home recordings and the collages. There are still some Vocals on the Album, even though for the most part the songs are already Instrumental. Their next Album (called Forth) would be their First full Instrumental LP and also the last featuring Robert Wyatt, who would go on to form Matching Mole.
Best Tracks - "Facelift", "Slightly All The Time", "Moon In June" and "Out-Bloody-Rageous" (All the 4 songs are awesome, getting them all to the Best Track status). This is a great Album, especially if you are into Jazz. However it is not as good as Volume Two, at least in my perspective. Third is considered to be the Soft Machine's Masterpiece obviously by the above statement you can see I don't see it that way. The Psychedelic sounds of their previous are far more interesting.

Soft Machine:
- Mike Ratledge – Hohner Pianet, Lowrey organ, Piano.
- Hugh Hopper – Bass.
- Robert Wyatt – drums, vocals, Hammond Organ, Hohner Pianet, Piano, Bass.
- Elton Dean – Alto Saxophone, Saxello.
- Lyn Dobson – Soprano Saxophone, Flute.
- Jimmy Hastings – Flute, Bass Clarinet.
- Rab Spall – Violin.
- Nick Evans – Trombone.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Milton Nascimento E Lô Borges - Clube Da Esquina (1972)

Clube Da Esquina is the Debut Album by the Brazilian Collective of Musicians Clube Da Esquina (Credited to Milton Nascimento E Lô Borges).
Milton Nascimento moved to the capital of Minas Gerais (Belo Horizonte) in 1963, and it was there that he met Lô and Márcio Borges, as they both lived on the same building. One day, after watching Jules Et Jim by Truffaut numerous times, non-stop, they started composing songs together, dividing by the two of them the roles of composer and lyricist (Milton composed the Songs and Márcio wrote them). Milton started recording Solo Albums in 1967 (with his Debut, Travessia, already posted on this Blog), but many of them were with the help of Márcio and Lô who had become good friends and important collaborators. It wasn't until 1972 however that they (Clube Da Esquina) released their Debut, composed of 21 Songs and 2 LP's. At the time of its release however it was treated by the Critics as a disgusting and uninteresting Album, but after it gained International recognition, they changed their opinion, god knows why... Clube Da Esquina is now seen as one of the Top-10 Albums to come out of Brasil (That's what the country is called, with an S, Americans imagine it with a Z if you want).
Best Tracks - "Tudo Que Você Podia Ser", "O Trem Azul", "Saídas E Bandeiras Nº 1", "Cravo E Canela", "Dos Cruces", "Um Girassol Da Cor Do Seu Cabelo", "Clube Da Esquina Nº 2", "Os Povos", "Saídas E Bandeiras Nº 2", "Lilia", "Trem De Doido" and "Ao Que Vai Nascer". Something attracts me to Milton's Voice, and that added to the high-quallity Musicians and Lyrics are really something. Rolling Stone graded it as the seventh greatest Brazilian Album Ever. The Cover depicts two boys, (one black and the other white) symbol of the unity between Milton and Lô.

Clube Da Esquina:
- Lô Borges - Vocals, Guitar, Viola, Percussion, Back-Vocals.
- Milton Nascimento - Vocals, Guitar, Viola, Piano.
- Tavito - Vocals, Guitar, 12-String Guitar, Viola.
- Beto Guedes - Vocals, Viola, Back-Vocals.
- Alaide Costa - Vocals.
- Nelson Angelo - Guitar, Piano, Surdo, Percussion.
- Toninho Horta - Guitar, Percussion, Back-Vocals.
- Wagner Tiso - Piano, Electric Piano, Organ.
- Robertinho Silva - Drums, Percussion.
- Luís Alves - Caxixi.
- Paulinho Braga - Percussion.
- Luiz Gonzaga - Back-Vocals.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Richie Havens - Alarm Clock (1971)

Alarm Clock is the Seventh Album by the American Folk Musician Richie Havens.
After the big success of his performance in the Woodstock Festival, where he, as you all know, opened the festivities and performed for a huge crowd for about 3 hours, as the other Musicians scheduled were being flown to the precinct by Helicopter. You have all heard "Motherless Child" so you can get why he got so famous after that. Following this, he created his own Label, Stormy Forest, in which he released 6 Albums, starting with Stonehenge and ending in Mixed Bad II, in the latter he was already a subsidiary to Polydor (It looks like Stormy Forest is again on activity and is re-printing Richie's Albums from this Period). Alarm Clock consists mostly of Havens Compositions except for the opening track, a fantastic rendition of George Harrison's "Here Comes The Sun", and the rest of the Songs feature exactly what we are all expecting, fantastic songs with Havens strong Vocals and quick guitar strumming. Alarm Clock was also the first Album that reached the Top 30 stop on the Billboard Charts, showing the evolution of popularity he was feeling at the time.
Best Tracks - "Here Comes The Sun", "To Give All Your Love Away", "Younger Men Grow Older", "Girls Don't Run Away", "Missing Train" and "Alarm Clock". It is not definitively Mixed Bag, but it is a quite good Album by a fantastic Artist. There are some really worthwhile songs on here and should be listened to.

Richie Havens (Alarm Clock Personnel):
- Warren Bernhardt - Organ.
- RickDerringer - Electric Guitar.
- Alan Hand - Piano.
- Richie Havens - Guitar, Percussion, Piano, Vocals.
- Bill Keith - Steel Guitar.
- Bill Lavorgna - Drums.
- Buzzy Linhardt - Vibraphone.
- Bob Margoleff - Moog Synthesizer.
- Eric Oxendine - Bass.
- Dennis Persich - Electric Guitar.
- Joe Price - Congas.
- Paul Williams - Guitar.
- Daniel Ben Zebulon - Congas.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Ford Theatre - Trilogy For The Masses (1968)

Trilogy For The Masses is the Debut Album by the American Progressive/Psychedelic Rock Band Ford Theatre.
Ford's Theater was the place where Abraham Lincoln was murdered. They chose this name to present themselves as a voice of the present (at least the present 40 years ago, where the Vietnam War was at the highest pick and Kennedy had just been assassinated). A Present filled with assassinations and violence. This was the main idea expressed on the liner notes of the Album, and idea amplified by the fact that all the lyrics are in the second Person, talking directly to You (or Us). Ford Theatre was formed from the ashes of a Boston-based Band (Joyful Noise) and a Composer called Harry Palmer, when the latter saw them play on a College, and decided they were the ones who could bring his Ideas to life, slowly he became a Member of the Band and the Name was changed accordingly. By the Summer of 67 the Band was already playing under this moniker and in the Setlist was already Trilogy For The Masses, which caused a big sensation on a DJ from Boston called Dick Summers and who got them the deal with ABC Records. Trilogy was recorded in two takes with the Band playing the Setlist continuously as if they were playing a Live Concert.
Best Tracks - "Theme For The Masses", "101 Harrison Street (Who You Belong To)", "Excerpt (From The Theme)", "From A Back Door Window", "Theme For The Masses" and "Postlude Looking Back". This has to be probably one of the Best Albums i have ever heard, it has an aura in it, there is something that grips me to this Record and doesn't let me go. It is far better Psychedelia than some of the things that were being made back-then. I haven't listened to it enough times to list it as one of my Top Ten's but in time he may find a way to get there. It has amazing melodies driven by a very strong Keyboard and some very relaxing Vocals. The Cover-Art is also amazing! A Drawn eye with a real eye in the middle, very somber.


Ford Theatre:
- Harry Palmer - Guitar.
- Robert "Bobby" Tamagni - Drums, Vocals.
- Arthur "Butch" Webster - Guitar.
- James "Jimmy" Altieri - Bass.
- Joey Scott - Vocals.
- John "Mazz" Mazzarelli - Organ, Vocals.
- Bernard Eichen - Strings.
- Charles McCracken - Strings.
- George Ricci - Strings.
- Aaron Rosand - Strings.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Free - Fire And Water (1970)

Fire And Water is the Third Album by the English Hard-Blues Rock Band Free.
After the difficulties over the making of the previous Album (The Self-Titled Free, released in 1969, which you can check out in the Blog) Fire And Water came out much smoother, with a much more cohesive Band, and a new sound. Fire & Water was a huge success, climbing its way to Number 1 on the Billboard Chats in the UK (Number 17 in America), a huge difference, since their previous two Albums had failed to Chart at all. "All Right Now" became their theme Song after the huge performance in the Isle Of Wight Festival, 1970 in front of over 600,000 spectators. At the time of the release the Members of the Band were aged from 18 to 20. In Later years the Band would re-open the wounds healed by Island Records owner Chris Blackwell, splitting-up and re-uniting in 1972 only leading to Andy Fraser's departure in 1972 in a clash with Guitarist Paul Kossoff and his growing Drug-Addiction (He would often now show up to concerts and even when he appeared, sometimes he hadn't the capacity to play) and differences with Vocalist Paul Rodgers. Eventually, Free broke-up for good in 1973, each Member going on a new direction. (Kossoff died in 1976, due to complications over his Drug Addiction).
Best Tracks - "Fire And Water", "Oh I Wept", "Remember", "Heavy Load", "Mr. Big" and "All Right Now". An amazing Album and just superb Vocals. Free were truly one of the Best Bands of it's Time. All of them were amazing Musicians and it is a shame there were so many problems that led to their extinction.

Free:
- Paul Rodgers - Vocals.
- Paul Kossoff - Guitars.
- Andy Fraser - Bass.
- Simon Kirke - Drums.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Pearls Before Swine - The Use Of Ashes (1970)

The Use Of Ashes is the Fourth Album by the American Psychedelic-Folk Band Pearls Before Swine.
After the release of the previous Album (These Things Too) all the original Musicians had left with the exception of its leader Tom Rapp. Abandoned by his fellow Musicians, Rapp moved to the home-country of his wife Elisabeth, the Netherlands. It was during this months in a house near Utrecht that Rapp wrote most of the Lyrics to the Songs used here, and generally considered to be some of the best Lyrics of the whole PSB Discography. When Rapp left the Netherlands he quickly assembled a group of the Best session Musicians available in Nashville and recorded the Songs, which basically is a Tom Rapp Solo Album, as he had the last word in everything. Most of this Musicians were Members of the Country Rock Band Area Code 615 (Released two Albums before disbanding). As all the other Albums in PSB discography the Cover-Art also features a piece of Classical Art from the Renaissance, in this case a piece of a Flemish Tapestry from the 15th Century called "The Hunt of the Unicorn: VI, The unicorn is brought to the castle", featuring three knights bringing down a unicorn with their spears.
Best Tracks - "The Jeweler", "From The Movie Of The Same Name", "Rocket Man", "Margery", "Riegal" and "When The War Began". Even though it is considered by many as the best Album by Rapp, I still think that both Balaklava and One Nation Underground are better, more interesting Albums overall. The Use Of Ashes has some amazing Songs and is definitively a great Album.

Pearls Before Swine:
- Tom Rapp - Vocals, Guitar.
- Elisabeth - Vocals.
- Charlie McCoy - Dobro, Guitar, Bass, Harmonica.
- Norbert Putnam - Bass.
- Kenneth Buttrey - Drums.
- Buddy Spicher - Violin, Cello, Viola.
- Mac Gayden - Guitar.
- David Briggs - Piano, Harpsichord.
- John Duke - Oboe, Flute.
- Hutch Davie - Keyboard.
- Bill Pippin - Oboe, Flute.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Gil Scott-Heron - Small Talk At 125th And Lenox Ave (1970)

Small Talk At 125th And Lenox Ave is the Debut Album by the American Jazz Poet Gil Scott-Heron.
Since his early childhood Scott-Heron was praised by everyone for his amazing writing abilities, even earning himself a place in a very restrict school where only rich kids and exceptional students had a place (the fact that there were 5 Black kids in the school, Scott-Heron included probably explains it all). When he went to college (Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, the same attended by Communist writer Langston Hughes, his biggest influence) he started to form Bands, with such names as Black & Blues, showing already his distinct Black-Pride. Just two years after entering college he took a year off so that he could devote his attentions to writing two novels (The Vulture and The Nigger Factory), the first one released in 1970, same year as this Album, got fantastic reviews and helped this Album get good reviews by contact (he had also release a volume of his poetry). The Album was recorded Live in a Bar located between 125th Street and Lenox Avenue, Scott-Heron providing the Vocals and three Percussion Musicians the Music. The Poems are mostly about numerous parts of the Black Struggle and White Middle-Class Trash. He was heavily influenced by the likes of Richie Havens, Otis Redding and Malcolm X.
Best Tracks - "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised", "Omen", "Brother", "Comment 1#", "The Subject Was Faggots", "Evolution (And Flashback)", "The Vulture", "Enough", "Who'll Pay Reparations On My Soul" and "Everyday". Gil Scott-Heron is a fantastic Poet (and from what I've heard he is also a great Novelist) and as this is the Sole Album I have heard from him, until now, I can't say anything about his whole Discography. If they are like this one then i can say that they are all excellent.

Gil Scott-Heron (Small Talk At 125th And Lenox Ave):
- David Barnes – Percussion, Vocals.
- Charlie Saunders - Congas.
- Eddie Knowles – Congas.
- Gil Scott-Heron – Guitar, Piano, Vocals.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Colosseum - Valentyne Suite (1969)

Valentyne Suite is the Second Album by the British Jazz-Rock Band Colosseum.
Formed in September in 1968, Colosseum was almost a mesh of Musicians from two diverse famous Bands in the Jazz and Blues tradition. There were Members of the John Mayall And The Bluesbreakers and the Graham Bond Organization there, all of them, therefore, experienced Musicians. Upon their Live Debut they were recorded and featured on the Radio Show, Top Gear, of the great DJ John Peel, which gave them a lot of exposure, as John Peel's Show was highly regarded by everyone, back then and still today. They used numerous compositions by Graham Bond, using some in their Debut Album, released in 1969. Before the release of this Album in November of the same year, Colosseum played the recorded Jam Session called Supershow, which featured Led Zeppelin, Stephen Stills, Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton. Trading their previous Label Fontana for the new Vertigo Records, the subsidiary of Phillips which released more Underground Acts (Black Sabbath were one of the First Bands in the Label), Colosseum released their Second Album, Valentyne Suite which is seen by many Fans as their Masterpiece. Valentyne Suite is mostly Jazz-Rock experimentalism.
Best Tracks - "The Kettle", "Elegy". "Butty's Blues", "The Valentyne Suite Theme One - January's Search", "The Valentyne Suite Theme Two - February's Valentyne" and "The Valentyne Suite Theme Three - The Grass Is Always Greener". This is not my favorite Band and i did not find this Album amazing. It is a nice and good listen, but no more than that.

Colosseum:
- Dave Greenslade - Hammond Organ, Vibraphone, Piano, Back-Vocals.
- Dick Heckstall-Smith - Saxophone, Flute.
- Jon Hiseman - Drums.
- James Litherland - Guitar, Lead-Vocals.
- Tony Reeves - Bass.