MOM'S APPLE PIE - Mom's Apple Pie (1972) & #2 (1973)
Mom's Apple Pie was an American ten-member rock band from Warren, Ohio. They were best known for their album cover and for the voice of lead singer Bob Fiorino. The band released two albums, Mom's Apple Pie in 1972 and Mom's Apple Pie II in 1973. A third album was recorded but was not released until 2011. Their manager was Larry Patterson, and they recorded on a record label owned by Terry Knight, Brown Bag Records. The band enjoyed a successful career nationally and toured extensively across the United States. Venues included a wide array of college campuses, clubs, concert halls, the Whiskey A-Go-Go in Los Angeles and Madison Square Garden. They performed with such artists as The Doobie Brothers and David Bowie. Patterson booked the demo session with record producer Kenny Hamann at the Cleveland Recording Company. Pia Knight, Terry's wife, overheard the demo being played in one of the rooms in the back of the recording studio and convinced her husband to sign the group.
Both albums have become favorites among collectors, due in part to the self-titled first album's risqué cover artwork, which contains a subtle depiction of female genitalia. The cover, designed by Nick Caruso, was banned shortly upon the album's release and an alternative cover was released, making both versions highly sought-after among collectors. The same picture was used, but the artist added a miniature brick wall, topped with razor wire, covering up the vulva in the pie, policemen looking in the windows, and a tear running down the woman's face. The third unreleased album tapes have been discovered by Patterson.
VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR - The Box (2000)
The sad fact about box sets is that there's always a fan out there who thinks they could have compiled a better one. An even sadder fact is that they're often correct, and the very notion of anthologizing Van Der Graaf Generator was a fraught one for that very reason. More, perhaps, than any other band of the early-'70s prog era, VDGG polarized their fans as much as the band's blatantly inhospitable sound outraged outsiders. They cut just eight studio albums, and all eight possess a wholly different character, all the more so since the band actually broke up midway through the sequence. Past compilations, then, sensibly dealt with one or other of those eras -- The Box, contrarily, swallows the entire beast whole, 34 tracks over four stuffed discs, and it gets full marks for courage, whatever its other sins may be. Unfortunately, there are quite a few other sins. From the collectors point of view, the most apparent flaw is the absence of any genuinely new material. Leaving aside two songs drawn from past posthumous collections, in official terms a dozen tracks are previously unreleased, including eight BBC radio sessions dating back to 1968, and four live performances from an August, 1975, show in Rimini, Italy. Unfortunately, not only have these long been available on two of the precious few VDGG bootlegs in circulation, but they're also taken from precisely the same source tapes, with apparently little effort made to clean them up. It's disappointing, too, that the especially hiccup-heavy 1968 session should be preferred over even a fleeting examination of the group's earliest strivings -- the original demos which the (genuinely luxurious) booklet discusses, the maiden "People You Were Going To"/"Firebrand" 45, the Aerosol Grey Machine debut album. On the plus side, several of these performances are spectacular, regardless of sound quality. VDGG were never going to top the pristine majesty of the studio take of "Refugees" (from 1970s The Least We Can Do Is Wave to Each Other album), but a 1971 radio session at least shows them trying. The closing "The Sphinx in the Face," from the band's 1977 John Peel broadcast, too, is a magnificent indication of the oft-times chilling energies at the group's disposal. But the highlight has to be the churning live rendition of "In the Black Room/The Tower," a song best associated with vocalist Peter Hammill's solo output, but drafted into the VDGG arsenal following their 1975 reunion. A vicious, Byronic nightmare set to trauma-inducing turbulence and oft-times impossible time signatures; even with bootleg hiss and ambient crackle, it's like stepping barefoot into a snuff movie. The gig itself must have been terrifying. VDGG's first incarnation bows out midway through disc two with the purgative "A Plague if Lighthouse Keepers," the side-long monolith which highlighted 1971's Pawn Hearts album. Perhaps surprisingly, we get the regular LP version here -- surprisingly, because an astonishing live rendition exists, taken from a Belgian TV performance and, in its own way, it is actually superior to the official take -- plus, how many other rock bands are there who could so cleanly execute a multi-layered, multi-part 23 minute opus from memory? Probably about as many as would announce their comeback with the likes of "Lemmings" and "Man Erg," excerpts from the Rimini concert which informed the audience that whatever else may have changed during VDGG's absence, their ability to grind skulls between slabs of sonic cement was not one of them. Yet it cannot be denied that such moments become few and far between as discs three and four progress. Hammill, the band's chief lyricist, was conducting his own solo career parallel to the final VDGG albums and, while nobody would ever accuse him of keeping the best songs for himself, the fact that he did have another outlet ensured there was no longer anything to counteract his bandmates' long-held penchant for excruciatingly convoluted art rock -- a balance, of course, which was crucial to the original group's versatility. Of course there are still moments of sublime magic: the neo-classical vastness of "Wondering" would have dignified any earlier VDGG album, while "Sleepwalkers," "The Wave," and another live performance, "Sci-Finance" (from the group's final release, the in-concert Vital), all offer further insights into the passions which the group's memory still stirs. But too much of these final discs sounds are portentously overbearing today; too much is simply way too much, and the discerning ear retreats back to discs one and two -- or, better still, to the original albums from which the best cuts were culled: The Least We Can Do and Pawn Hearts, of course, but also the savage majesty of 1971's H To He, Who Am the Only One, and, yes, even to Aerosol Grey Machine. Place those four albums in a box together, and you might never need to buy another record again. You certainly won't be needing The Box.
SAGITTARIUS - Present Tense (1967) & Blue Marble (1969)
Although it only reached number 70 in the national charts, Sagittarius' 1967 single "My World Fell Down" is one of the great experimental psychedelic pop gems of the era. Sounding very much like a lost Beach Boys classic from the "Good Vibrations"/SMiLE era, the record had beautiful California pop harmonies, exquisite symphonic orchestration, and a downright avant-garde middle section of carnival and bullfight noises. It was perhaps too weird to become the Top 40 smash it deserved to be, but in any case, Sagittarius would have had a difficult time launching a successful career, as the group didn't really exist. It was a studio project of noted producer Gary Usher, who wrote several great Beach Boys songs with Brian Wilson and produced classic albums by the Byrds.
Usher made the recordings that came out under the Sagittarius name in his spare time, with help from such prominent friends as Beach Boy Bruce Johnston and Glen Campbell (who sings lead on the "My World Fell Down" single). The most important of Usher's associates, however, was fellow songwriter/producer/singer Curt Boettcher, who has a cult following of his own for the sunshiny California pop with a touch of psychedelia that he produced during the era, especially as part of the Millennium. Boettcher wrote and sang much of the material that ended up on Sagittarius' 1968 Columbia album, Present Tense. Unlike the "My World Fell Down" single (included on the LP in a brutally edited version), the album wasn't reminiscent of the Beach Boys at their best and most progressive. It was California good-time pop with a mild dab of psychedelia, relentlessly and sometimes annoyingly cheerful, although immaculately crafted and produced, particularly in the layered harmony vocals. Not as commercial as the Association (with whom Boettcher also worked), it still had a lot more in common with the Turtles and the Mamas & the Papas than Pet Sounds or the Byrds. Although it only sold in the neighborhood of 40,000 to 50,000 copies, the record has a cult following, and has been reissued several times, usually with numerous bonus tracks.
COWBOY - 1970/77
Cowboy was an American country rock and southern rock band formed in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1969. The group's main members consisted of songwriters Tommy Talton and Scott Boyer, alongside a rotating group of musicians. They released four albums on the Capricorn Records label in the 1970s: Reach for the Sky (1970), 5'll Getcha Ten (1971), Boyer and Talton (1974), and Cowboy (1977). The song "Please Be with Me"–perhaps their best-known song–featured a performance from Duane Allman. It was also later covered by Eric Clapton on his album 461 Ocean Boulevard (1974). The group's sound has been compared to Hearts & Flowers, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and Pure Prairie League. Steve Leggett of Allmusic considered Cowboy "one of Capricorn Records' and Southern rock's best-kept secrets during the genre's golden age in the 1970s. Cowboy was formed in 1969 in Jacksonville, Florida by singer-songwriters Scott Boyer and Tommy Talton, with pianist/guitarist Bill Pillmore, bassist George Clark, guitarist Pete Kowalke, and drummer Tom Wynn rounding out the original lineup.
The six musicians, all from around the Orlando/Jacksonville area, rented a home in Jacksonville where they lived and rehearsed together. Previously, Boyer had played with Duane Allman and his brother, Gregg, in the folk-rock group the 31st of February. Duane, at that point of the Allman Brothers Band, sested them to Phil Walden, owner of Capricorn Records. Leggett writes that the band's lineup was ever-changing during this time, besides "Talton and Boyer, both of whom became de facto members of the Capricorn house band, playing with the Allman Brothers, Gregg Allman, Alex Taylor, and Bonnie Bramlett." Their debut album, Reach for the Sky, was released in 1971, and their second, 5'll Getcha Ten, followed later that year. The latter album featured "Please Be with Me", which featured Allman on dobro. Eric Clapton later covered the song for his album 461 Ocean Boulevard (1974).
By 1972, much of the original Cowboy lineup departed. "People just started moving in different directions. I don't remember there being any animosity about it," Talton recalled in 2014. He and Boyer continued on as Cowboy, supporting Gregg Allman on his first solo effort Laid Back in 1973, and accompanying him as his backing band on its ensuing tour, which was captured on the 1974 live album The Gregg Allman Tour. The band's third album, Boyer & Talton, saw release the same year. Their final, self-titled record was released in 1977.
THE STONE PONEYS - 1967/68
Before becoming a solo act, Linda Ronstadt was the lead singer of the Stone Poneys, an L.A.-based trio with an acoustic folkish sound and strong original material. The band's focal point and greatest asset was Ronstadt's clear, powerful singing. Originally recording in a coffeehouse folk style not far removed from Peter, Paul and Mary, the group rocked up its sound slightly and scored a Top 20 hit with "Different Drum," written by Mike Nesmith of the Monkees, in 1967.
The Stone Poneys is the debut studio album by the Stone Poneys; other than an early single of "So Fine" that was produced by Mike Curb in 1965, this album marks the first official recordings by Linda Ronstadt. Whether intended or not, the front cover photo appears to show the band as a more modern version of Peter, Paul and Mary with several of the songs sung in the same three-part harmony.
Evergreen, Vol. 2 is the second album from the Stone Poneys, released five months after The Stone Poneys. It was the most commercially successful of the Stone Poneys' three studio albums. In a departure from the first album, Linda Ronstadt was the lead vocalist on almost all songs, with only occasional harmony vocals. The exception is the title song, "Evergreen" (also released on the B-side of the album's first single, "One for One"). Kenny Edwards sang lead on "Part One", while "Part Two" is an instrumental. Both parts have a psychedelic rock feel and feature sitar playing (also by Edwards). The album contains the band's biggest hit, "Different Drum", written by Mike Nesmith prior to his joining The Monkees. The Stone Poneys' version went to No. 12 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart (with 'featuring Linda Ronstadt' on the single label; she was the only band member on the track).
Linda Ronstadt, Stone Poneys and Friends, Vol. III is the third and final studio album by The Stone Poneys, released on April 29, 1968. Singer Linda Ronstadt would release her first solo album the following year. While ostensibly a Stone Poneys album, Vol. III represents a transition and a shift in focus from the first two releases by the band, formed in 1965 as a harmony group with Ronstadt as an occasional soloist, to the singer's solo career. Billing Ronstadt as the lead singer (in concert bookings as well as on the third album) was demanded by Capitol Records executives and encouraged by producer Nik Venet, who all saw her potential as a solo artist with the recording and subsequent success of "Different Drum," a single from the previous album. The song, 'featuring Linda Ronstadt', was backed by outside musicians instead of her bandmates Kenny Edwards and Bobby Kimmel – creating tensions in the band that would worsen, irrevocably damaging morale. Edwards quit the group during the recording sessions for their third album, following a brief tour in early 1968; and Kimmel would leave later that year.
NRBQ - High Noon: A 50-Year Retrospective (2016)
NRBQ is an American rock band founded by Terry Adams (piano), Steve Ferguson (guitar) and Joey Spampinato (bass). The group was formed around 1965. Adams disbanded the group for a time, and they re-formed in 1967. It is known for its live performances, containing a high degree of spontaneity and levity, and blending rock, pop, jazz, blues and Tin Pan Alley styles. Its current membership comprises the quartet of pianist Adams, bassist Casey McDonough, guitarist Scott Ligon, and drummer John Perrin. Some of the more notable members in the band's long history are singer, writer and bassist Joey Spampinato, guitarists Al Anderson and Johnny Spampinato; drummers Tom Staley and Tom Ardolino; and vocalist Frank Gadler. The abbreviation "NRBQ" stands for New Rhythm and Blues Quartet (originally Quintet).
The first ever career-spanning boxed set, produced and compiled to celebrate 50 years of the New Rhythm and Blues Quartet - NRBQ! Founded in 1966 in Louisville, Kentucky, NRBQ has given their dedicated fan base decades of great recordings and exceptional live shows in countless festivals, clubs, colleges, and concert halls. No style of music is safe around NRBQ - their first Columbia album, for example, ranged from Eddie Cochran to Sun Ra and their own diverse compositions have been covered by artists including Bonnie Raitt, Dave Edmunds, She And Him, Steve Earle, Los Lobos, and Widespread Panic. There are very few bands that have lasted for half a century, and the list of those that are still at the top of their creative game is even smaller. Their legendary live shows are programmed on the spot, drawing on their own classics (“Me And The Boys,” “RC Cola And A Moon Pie,” “Wacky Tobacky,” “Ridin’ In My Car,” “12 Bar Blues” and “Christmas Wish”) along with great new material and countless other surprises. Their fans include Keith Richards, Wilco, The Replacements, Elvis Costello, R.E.M., and Bob Dylan among others and their songs have been featured on The Simpsons, Weeds, and Wilfred. With more than 30 albums recorded, they have proven themselves to be peerless musicians, songwriters and performers. So to celebrate NRBQ, Omnivore Recordings is proud to present High Noon: A 50-Year Retrospective consisting of five CDs of hits, rarities, concert staples and previously unissued gems (106 songs in all), all lovingly remastered, alongside extensive booklet notes and many previously unseen photos. After so many years of brilliant, unpredictable, joyfully exciting musical explorations on stage and in the studio, it’s time to honor NRBQ. Fifty years of celebrating is worth celebrating!
JACKSON BROWNE - The First 4... (1972/76)
Jackson Browne, in full Clyde Jackson Browne, German-born American singer, songwriter, pianist, and guitarist who helped define the singer-songwriter movement of the 1970s. Born in Germany to a musical family with deep roots in southern California, Browne grew up in Los Angeles and Orange county. His interest in music led to his membership in the fledgling Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and to late-1960s stints in New York City as a backing musician for Nico of the Velvet Underground and for Tim Buckley. He was first noticed as a songwriter, and his compositions were recorded by performers such as Tom Rush, the Byrds, and Linda Ronstadt before he recorded his eponymous debut album in 1972 (featuring the Top Ten hit “Doctor My Eyes”). Part of a coterie of musicians that established Los Angeles as the home of country rock, Browne cowrote several songs for the Eagles (most notably “Take It Easy”). Profoundly influenced by Bob Dylan and in the tradition of Jack Kerouac and Thomas Wolfe, Browne created a protagonist whose quest for love, understanding, and justice was a mythic extension of his own experience...
Jackson Browne [or Saturate Before Using] is the eponymous debut album of singer Jackson Browne released in 1972. It peaked on the Billboard 200 chart at number 53. Two singles were released with "Doctor, My Eyes" peaking at number 8 on the Pop Singles chart and "Rock Me on the Water" reaching number 48. Browne had found minor success as a songwriter but had not yet obtained his own recording contract. After he sent a demo of "Jamaica Say You Will" to David Geffen in early 1970, Geffen began looking for a record deal for Browne. Geffen ended up founding his own label, Asylum Records, and signed Browne. The album was certified as a Gold record in 1976 and Platinum in 1997 by the RIAA.
For Everyman is the second album by American singer-songwriter Jackson Browne, released in 1973. The album peaked at number 43 on the Billboard 200 chart and the single "Redneck Friend" reached number 85 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. In 2012, the album was ranked number 450 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. For Everyman marked the debut of multi-instrumentalist David Lindley's long association with Browne. Guest artists included David Crosby (harmony on the title track), Glenn Frey (harmony on "Redneck Friend"), Elton John (credited as Rockaday Johnnie, piano on "Redneck Friend"), Don Henley (harmony on "Colors of the Sun"), Joni Mitchell, and Bonnie Raitt.
Late for the Sky is the third studio album by American singer–songwriter Jackson Browne, released by Asylum Records on September 13, 1974. It was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1975. It peaked at number 14 on Billboard's Pop Albums chart. In 2021, the album was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry. In 2000 it was voted number 594 in Colin Larkin's All Time Top 1000 Albums. In 2003, the album was ranked number 372 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, Browne's highest ranking. In a 2012 update it ranked at 377. The album was certified as a Gold record in 1974 and Platinum in 1989 by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
The Pretender is the fourth album by the American singer-songwriter Jackson Browne, released in 1976. It peaked at No. 5 on Billboard's album chart. The singles from the album were "Here Come Those Tears Again", which reached No. 23, and "The Pretender", which peaked at No. 58. The Pretender was released after the suicide of Browne's first wife, Phyllis Major. The album has production by Jon Landau and a mixture of styles. The album was certified as a gold record in 1976 and platinum in 1977 by the RIAA. It reached multi-platinum in 1997 and 2006.
THE WHO - 30 Years of Maximum R&B (1994)
This exemplary four-disc box takes the high road, attempting nothing less than an honest reconstruction of the Who's stormy, adventurous, uneven pilgrimage. While offering an evenhanded cross-section of single hits and classic album tracks, 30 Years garnishes the expected high points with B-sides, alternate and live versions of familiar tracks, and the quartet's earliest singles as the High Numbers. Reinforcing the package's documentary agenda are interview and stage-patter sound bites. What emerges is a fascinating chronicle of how the Shepherd's Bush mods journeyed from the giddy, explosive concision of their January 1965 debut single, "I Can't Explain," to the discursive, knotty sweep of creative architect Pete Townshend's "rock operas," Tommy, Quadrophenia, and the uncompleted, unreleased Lifehouse. The Who's swift evolution into rock visionaries is traced chronologically, meaning the band's original immersion in "maximum R&B," which forged their earliest club dates, doesn't surface on record until midway through the sequence, on key tracks from their thundering Live at Leeds album. Fans may quibble over the relative weight given specific albums, but the shape of the Who's career and their passionate identification with their audience are rendered faithfully. So, too, is Townshend's skill at mingling issues of faith and identity with generational manifestoes and sly broadsides. And there's ample evidence of the quartet's outsize musical power; the sheer volume and violence that earned them notoriety early on is matched by a lyricism that deepens by mid career. Given the candor of the presentation, it's not surprising that 30 Years reaches its zenith midway through the set or that the last song (a reunion of the surviving trio covering Elton John) can't help seeming anticlimactic.
In July 1994, to mark the thirtieth anniversary of The Who’s first record release (as The High Numbers), Polydor/MCA released a four CD box set containing all their best known work, several rarities and a number of previously unreleased recordings. The package was extremely well received by critics. Q magazine in the UK gave it a maximum five star rating and described it as the best box set ever produced by any artist; similarly, Rolling Stone in the US gave it a maximum five stars too.
CHEAP TRICK - In Another World (2021)
It’s hard to tell if Cheap Trick still want you to want them, since a lot of In Another World, the band’s 20th full-length, fails to launch. Sure, there are the big choruses, bigger guitar riffs, and smart-alecky Nielsenisms that their die-hard cult craves, but at the same time, songs like “The Summer Looks Good on You” and “Light Up the Fire” sound like Cheap Trick by Numbers. At their most prosaic, they sound like they’re unimaginatively paying tribute to their formative influences. This is nothing new for the band, whose Beatles worship is a big part of why their power pop hit so hard in the Seventies, but these days, more often than not, it feels like they’re relying on muscle memory. The group sounds positively comfortable with adorning their Who-like arena-rock riffs with Beatlesy vocal harmonies on “Summer” and obliquely cribbing a line like “If mountains fall into the sea, I thought there’d still be you and me” from Led Zeppelin’s “Thank You” for their own Zeppeliny ballad, “So It Goes.” “The Party” is their paean to Hendrix, while “I’ll See You Again” worships at the altar of Beach Boys harmonies, right down to Brian Wilson-esque falsettos. But there are some reminders of Cheap Trick’s early greatness. “Passing Through” has a vaguely Middle Eastern feel (and distant John Lennon–style backups to boot) but its easygoing riff and some impressionistic Rick Nielsen guitar noise elevates it above Sgt. Pepper worship. And the upbeat “Here’s Looking at You,” which Linda Perry cowrote, sounds more like an extension of their “Dream Police” days with its gargantuan “No way out of here alive/Won’t give up without a fight” chorus and its sparkling keyboards than any particular homage. And, as always, Nielsen knows that he can always spin his multi-necked wheel-of-fortune guitar around to find a solo that could save an otherwise ordinary song (“Boys & Girls & Rock & Roll,” their cover of John Lennon’s “Gimme Some Truth,” which ironically also features the Sex Pistols’ Steve Jones on guitar). But with 19 other Cheap Trick albums of varying quality to choose from, nothing on In Another Planet sounds truly out of this world.
EDWARDS HAND [PICADILLY LINE] - 1967/71
The British group might be more famed for evolving into Edwards Hand, who had a couple albums produced by George Martin. Before that, however, Picadilly Line put out an obscure album on CBS, 1967's The Huge World of Emily Small, in the lightest and poppiest side of the British pop-psychedelic style. They also did a couple non-LP singles, one of which, "Yellow Rainbow," was written by then-Hollie Graham Nash.
Rod Edwards and Roger Hand formed this breezy, psychedelic pop outfit after briefly recording as The Picadilly Line. Sadly, this album never made it to a British release as their record label folded, which subsequently took their EMI deal and UK distributor contract away at precisely the wrong time. This is therefore a genuine lost UK '60s gem that received glowing reviews upon its release in the U.S. It makes its debut here on CD. Recorded on four track tape at EMI St. Johns Wood in late '68, with Geoff Emerick and George Martin during a break in the sporadic White Album sessions, you can hear the benefits from Martin and Emerick's vast experience, technical skills and orchestral arrangements. There is plenty of swinging London vibes and whimsical vocals here, as well as dreamy vocal harmonies and elaborate electric and acoustic arrangements very much of the era.
The Beatles connection is obviously strong, and much of this material is reminiscent of late '60, early '70s Paul McCartney as well as Donovan -- with its chirpy, evocative lyrics, harmonies and warm arrangements -- but there is also a late Small Faces/Kinks vibe in their lyrical descriptions of old London Town. Other late '60s comparisons would certainly include Kaleidoscope (UK) and the early orchestrated material by The Strawbs. This exact limited edition reissue is housed in a reproduction of the original sleeve (featuring a sleeve note from George Martin) and packaged in a jewel case. Re-released with full consent of the producer and band.
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