PHIL LESH & FRIENDS - There and Back Again (2002)
After releasing Love Will See You Through, a live album featuring onetime guests like Jorma Kaukonen, Phil Lesh organized a permanent touring and recording band under the moniker Phil Lesh & Friends. This quintet, with an instrumentation that replicated the Grateful Dead's except for the inclusion of only one drummer, featured former Allman Brothers Band guitarists Warren Haynes and Jimmy Herring, former Zen Tricksters keyboardist Rob Barraco, and former Bruce Hornsby & the Range drummer John Molo. There and Back Again is this unit's first studio album and, not surprisingly, it sounds like a cross between the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers Band. Lesh has made one other crucial connection, bringing in Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter to write the words for six of the 11 songs. (One of them is "Liberty," a Jerry Garcia co-composition the Grateful Dead performed toward the end.) Hunter has a distinctive, wordy writing style, full of allusions, aphorisms, and wordplay that will be familiar to any Deadhead. The leadoff track, "Celebration," with music by Lesh, is very much the product of the team who wrote the Grateful Dead's "Box of Rain"; it is a statement of purpose, proclaiming a recommitment to a positive viewpoint despite "stolen elections, corruption, and hate." Haynes, who does most of the singing (though Lesh and Barraco get leads, too), was a careful student of Gregg Allman's throaty style, and his stinging slide guitar work recalls Duane Allman. For the most part, the bandmembers keep their natural tendency to jam in check, placing emphasis on the well-written songs. The tracks run four to six minutes each and usually fade out with the band still playing, so this material no doubt stretches out in concert. The result is a surprisingly well-organized and accessible collection that is the best album yet made by a Grateful Dead spinoff band.
V.A. - Leo Blokhuis Presents The Sound Of The South 1961-1976 (2011)
Southern soul is a type of soul music that emerged from the Southern United States. The music originated from a combination of styles, including blues (both 12 bar and jump), country, early rock and roll, and a strong gospel influence that emanated from the sounds of Southern African-American churches. The focus of the music was not on its lyrics, but on the "feel" or the groove. This rhythmic force made it a strong influence in the rise of funk music. Pioneers of southern soul include: Georgia natives Ray Charles and James Brown; Little Willie John, Bobby "Blue" Bland, New Orleans R&B artist Allen Toussaint; and Memphis DJ Rufus Thomas.
Southern soul was at its peak during the 1960s, when Memphis soul was created. The most significant contributors were Stax Records and their house band Booker T. & the MGs. The Stax label's most successful artist of the 1960s, Otis Redding, was influenced by fellow Georgia native Little Richard and the more cosmopolitan sounds of Mississippi-born Sam Cooke. Other Stax artists of note included Carla Thomas, Eddie Floyd, Johnnie Taylor, The Staple Singers, and Isaac Hayes. Atlantic Records artists Sam & Dave's records were released on the Stax label and featured the MGs. Wilson Pickett launched his solo career through his collaboration with the Stax team. After Sam & Dave moved from Stax to Atlantic Records; Porter and his songwriting and production partner Isaac Hayes decided to put together a new vocal group of two men and two women. They recruited J. Blackfoot, together with Norman West, Anita Louis, and Shelbra Bennett, to form The Soul Children. Between 1968 and 1978, The Soul Children had 15 hits on the R&B chart, including three that crossed over to the Billboard Hot 100, and recorded seven albums.
The Sound of the South consists of four wonderful CDs, with music from artists such as Aretha Franklin, Elvis Presley, Percy Sledge, Al Green, Etta James, Tony Joe White, Joe South, Bobbie Gentry and Charlie Rich...
CILLA BLACK - Completely Cilla: 1963 - 1973 (2012)
Priscilla Maria Veronica White OBE (1943 – 2015), better known as Cilla Black, was an English singer, television presenter, actress, and author. Championed by her friends in the Beatles, Black began her career as a singer in 1963, and her singles "Anyone Who Had a Heart" and "You're My World" both reached number one in the UK in 1964. She had 11 Top Ten hits on the British charts between then and 1971, and an additional eight hits that made the top 40. In May 2010, new research published by BBC Radio 2 showed that her version of "Anyone Who Had a Heart" was the UK's biggest-selling single by a female artist in the 1960s. "You're My World" was also a modest hit in the US, peaking at No. 26 on the Billboard Hot 100. Along with a successful recording career in the 1960s and early 1970s, Black hosted her own variety show, Cilla, for the BBC between 1968 and 1976. After a brief time as a comedy actress in the mid-1970s, she became a prominent television presenter in the 1980s and 1990s, hosting hit entertainment shows such as Blind Date (1985–2003), The Moment of Truth (1998–2001), and Surprise Surprise (1984–2001). In 2013, Black celebrated 50 years in show business. British television network ITV honoured this milestone with a one-off entertainment special which aired on 16 October 2013. The show, called The One & Only Cilla Black, featured Black herself and was hosted by Paul O'Grady. Black died on 1 August 2015 after a fall in her villa in Estepona. The day after her funeral, the compilation album The Very Best of Cilla Black went to number one on the UK Albums Chart and the New Zealand Albums Chart; it was her first number one album.
Massive six disc (five CDs + DVD) anthology from the British vocalist and Pop icon. The CDs feature all of Cilla's recordings from 1963-73, the majority produced by George Martin. Cilla Black OBE is without doubt one of Britain's most successful and best-loved entertainers. Over the years, she has had 19 Top 40 singles (including two #1 hits), sold out concert venues around the world and presented many iconic TV shows. The Completely Cilla set showcases all the music recordings which Cilla made with producer George Martin and is a testament to that musical legacy of which she is so proud.
BILL WYMAN - Stone Alone (1976)
Stone Alone is an album by Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman. It was released in 1976 by Rolling Stones Records. The album reached number 166 on the Billboard 200.Van Morrison plays the saxophone in "A Quarter to Three". Joe Walsh, Dr. John, Ron Wood, Al Kooper, Nicky Hopkins and Jim Keltner played on the album.
In a retrospective review, AllMusic rated the album one and a half stars out of five. They noted "Apache Woman" and "Quarter to Three" but cautioned that "highlights like these are few and far between and this problem reduces Stone Alone to a curio that should only be sought out by Bill Wyman fans and Rolling Stones completists." They criticized the album for lacking "the focus and solid songs of the previous album and ends up feeling like the typical rock star's ego-trip side project. Stone Alone can't be faulted for ambition, though: nearly every song tries out a different musical style ('50s-style rock, disco, and reggae) and Wyman enlists a veritable who's who of guest musicians (everyone from Dr. John to Al Kooper to Joe Walsh) to bring the songs to life."
NICKY HOPKINS, RY COODER, MICK JAGGER, BILL WYMAN, CHARLIE WATTS - Jamming With Edward (1972)
Jamming with Edward! is a 1972 album by three Rolling Stones band members (Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman) accompanied by Nicky Hopkins and Ry Cooder. The album was recorded at London's Olympic Studio in Spring 1969, during the Let It Bleed sessions, and released on Rolling Stones Records in 1972. It consists of a series of loose jams performed by band members while waiting for Keith Richards to return to the studio. The reason for Richards' absence is uncertain; though it's commonly believed that he walked out over Cooder being brought in as a support guitarist, producer Glyn Johns has attributed his absence to a phone call from his girlfriend Anita Pallenberg. Jamming with Edward! reached number 33 on the US charts, although it failed to make the UK listings.
"Edward" is a nickname for pianist Nicky Hopkins, originating from some earlier studio conversation between Hopkins and another Rolling Stone, Brian Jones. Hopkins also contributed the cover art. In the original liner notes, Mick Jagger describes the album as "a nice piece of bullshit... which we cut one night in London, England while waiting for our guitar player to get out of bed. It was promptly forgotten (which may have been for the better) ... I hope you spend longer listening to this record than we did recording it." On the CD version there are additional notes written by Mark Paytress adding more context and describing the result as a "curio to top all curios, perhaps". Johns said of the album "it was just a joke really, just a laugh. I recorded it and they played it, and then, I don't know how long later, we dug the tapes out, I mixed it and they stuck it out on album. It didn't really warrant releasing really, but it was okay, a bit of fun, and there's some good playing on it." According to Rolling Stone, the release was delayed several months due to the appearance of an expletive on the back cover art, which was partially covered with stars in the ultimate release
TRACKS: 01. The Boudoir Stomp 02. It Hurts Me Too 03. Edwards Thrump Up 04. Blow With Ry 05. Interlude A La El Hopo 06. The Loveliest Night Of The Year 07. Highland Fling
FOCUS - The Focus Family Album (2017)
Expecting the unexpected is never a bad shout when it comes to the Dutch titans. The band may be moving through their twilight but they remain downright willful in their refusal to pull down the creative shutters. Instead, windows are flung wide to whatever takes their fancy, an admirably adventurous approach writ large accross this 20-track collection. Released to coincide with a South American and European tour, the album stands as something of a signpost to both their recent past and ever-restless future. Bringing together tracks recorded with talented collaborators in far flung studios, alternate takes from the Focus X sessions and solo interludes from each of the current line-up, it’s a set that’s nothing if not varied. You could do with a sat-nav as the band journey to everything from old school blues and stomping rock through Latin feistiness and classical grace. There’s even a little flirt with reggae, albeit in a tentative toe-in-the-water kind of way. Not everything absolutely works (Five Fouth seems a little cumbersome; Birds Come Fly Over is a hybrid where the vocal is maybe miscast) and, not surprisingly, there are moments that feel like an extended jam whose destination is uncertain.
But plenty here hits the mark. Thijs Van Leer’s trademark Hammond and Menno Gootjes’ guitar gold make often dazzling dance partners – the splendidly titled Mosh Blues a big, bold riff-driven highlight. Pierre Van Der Linden, whose two solo percussion workouts admittedly could carry ‘purists only’ tags, remains an ever-inventive force on drums. And judging by his fairly breathtaking contributions here, new bass ace Udo Pannekeet has been a gift from the Gods. His solo pieces – one a Pat Methany-esque jazz glide and the other all fun and funk – are stunning. Pannekeet alone should make sure Focus enjoy renewed oxygen to their creative flame.
WALTER TROUT - Survivor Blues (2019)
Walter Trout is back, and he’s once again encouraging his listeners to embrace the blues in a new way. For Survivor Blues, which Trout recorded for release on Provogue Records at Robby Krieger’s private studio in Los Angeles, Trout had dozens of songs in mind that he was interested in covering and, with the help of his wife Marie, narrowed the list down to 12. Odds are good that you haven’t heard most of these, even if you are a diehard blues fan—and that’s precisely the point of this album. “The songs are survivors,” Trout recently told Blues Rock Review. “They remain beautiful and relevant.” Trout’s idea for this project came when he heard Muddy Waters’ oft-covered “Got My Mojo Workin’” on the radio—another cover by yet another band. After spending decades immersed in the genre as both a fan and contributor of new material, Trout recognized the value of exposing new audiences to classic songs and realized there was an opportunity for him to do the same with songs that are often overlooked.
SANTANA - In Search of Mona Lisa (2019)
On three spellbinding and transportive new songs, Carlos' dramatic new EP, In Search of Mona Lisa, takes listeners inside a magical and deeply personal experience he had when he visited the Louvre Museum in Paris, France and set his eyes on Leonardo da Vinci’s beguiling masterpiece. The experience of seeing the Mona Lisa for the first time came flooding back to Santana months later, when he awoke from a dream with the lyrics to what would become the songs “In Search of Mona Lisa” and “Do You Remember Me” fully formed in his mind. “It was the first time that I ever woke up and lyrics were there in a tangible way,” he reveals. “I could just grab them and write the songs.” On “Do You Remember Me", Carlos begins the song, with passionate melodies and an invitation to dance. Once the band kicks in with a graceful Afro-Cuban groove (courtesy of Cindy on drums, with Karl Perazzo on congas, timbales and percussion), Santana opens up on a full five minutes of some of his most gorgeous soloing yet – his lead lines are stinging, teasing, crying and sensuous – before singers Andy Vargas and Ray Greene take over. The EP’s title track sets an entirely different mood. Santana had shown his lyrics for “In Search of Mona Lisa” to producer Narada Michael Walden, who sested a Bo Diddley-esque rhythm. “I wasn’t expecting that, but I immediately liked the idea,” Santana says. With Walden rocking a rave-up drumbeat (he also overdubbed bass and keyboards), Santana lets loose with biting, wah-drenched call-and-response phrases with singer Cornell “CC” Carter before he takes flight on an impassioned extended guitar solo. While “In Search of Mona Lisa” was being recorded, Cindy sested doing something more symphonic and bringing in bass master Ron Carter. “That’s all I needed to hear,” Santana enthuses. “I was like, ‘Oh, my God. Of course!” The resulting track, “Lovers From Another Time,” unfolds much like the painting that inspired the music itself, with the dual drumming of Cindy and Walden mixing with Carter’s elegant basslines to create a living and breathing canvas on which Santana splashes vibrant six-string colors and textures.
FLAMIN' GROOVIES - The First 4... (1969 - 1976)
The Flamin’ Groovies story goes all the way back to 1965 when the band began as the Chosen Few in their hometown of San Francisco, California. After a name change and a self-released 10 inch album called “Sneakers”, which sold amazingly well, the band caught the attention of Columbia who signed them up and sent them into the studio with a big budget to record their first real album, “Supersnazz”, on the Epic label. Their next two albums were on Kama Sutra (home of their heroes, The Lovin’ Spoonful): “Flamingo”, and the now revered classic “Teenage Head”.
Lead singer Roy Loney left the band right after that and lead guitarist Cyril Jordan moved the group to England with Chris Wilson (formerly of Loose Gravel) taking over as front man. They continued their style of straight ahead guitar driven rock n’ roll but this time with a more 60’s rather than 50’s influence. A few singles on United Artists, recorded at the legendary Rockfield Studios in Wales with Dave Edmunds producing, followed in the early ’70s. In ’76 they signed to Sire Records, who released three true gems of power pop: “Shake Some Action”, “Flamin’ Groovies Now”, and “Jumpin’ In The Night”.
Another lineup change ensued in the next decade with Wilson moving to England and joining the Barracudas. The Groovies continued on thru the 80’s and into the early ’90s touring Australia and Europe, putting out a fine but overlooked album called Rock Juice and then finally calling it quits. Jordan formed a new band called Magic Christian while Wilson released solo albums in Europe.
JO-ANN KELLY - Jo-Ann Kelly (1969) & Blues & Gospel Rare & Unreleased Recordings (2004)
The rock era saw a few white female singers, like Janis Joplin, show they could sing the blues. But one who could outshine them all Jo Ann Kelly seemed to slip through the cracks, mostly because she favored the acoustic, Delta style rather than rocking out with a heavy band behind her. But with a huge voice, and a strong guitar style influenced by Memphis Minnie and Charley Patton, she was the queen. Born January 5, 1944, Kelly and her older brother Dave were both taken by the blues, and born at the right time to take advantage of a young British blues scene in the early '60s. By 1964 she was playing in clubs, including the Star in Croydon, and had made her first limited-edition record with future Groundhogs guitarist Tony McPhee. She expanded to play folk and blues clubs all over Britain, generally solo, but occasionally with other artists, bringing together artists like Bessie Smith and Sister Rosetta Tharpe into her own music. After the first National Blues Federation Convention in 1968 her career seemed ready to take flight. She began playing the more lucrative college circuit, followed by her well-received debut album in 1969. At the second National Blues Convention, she jammed with Canned Heat, who invited her to join them on a permanent basis. She declined, not wanting to be a part of a band and made the same decision when Johnny Winter offered to help her.
Throughout the '70s, Kelly continued to work and record solo, while also gigging for fun in bands run by friends, outfits like Tramp and Chilli Willi essentially pub rock, as the scene was called, and in 1979 she helped found the Blues Band, along with brother Dave, and original Fleetwood Mac bassist Bob Brunning. The band backed her on an ambitious show she staged during the early '80s, Ladies and the Blues, in which she paid tribute to her female heros. In 1988, Kelly began to suffer pain. A brain tumor was diagnosed and removed, and she seemed to have recovered, even touring again in 1990 with her brother before collapsing and dying on October 21. Posthumously, she's become a revered blues figure, one who helped clear the path for artists like Bonnie Raitt and Rory Block. But more than a figurehead, her recorded material and unreleased sides have appeared often since her death show that Kelly truly was a remarkable blueswoman.
THE LA DE DAS - The Happy Prince (1969)
Most people remember Auckland's La De Das for classic r'n'b 60s rock such as How is the Air Up There? and Don't You Stand in My Way, two songs which established them as the Rolling Stones of our hometown. There was much more to them, but this album seemed to pass most people by. Even before Pete Townshend wrote Tommy, band members Bruce Howard and Trevor Wilson were talking of a conceptual story in rock -- and they settled on Oscar Wilde's short story The Happy Prince (I guess because like many people of that time they'd heard the spoken word version on the kids' Sunday morning radio show on 1ZB). The LDDs worked on the idea off and on in 66-67 but then the project was put on hold when they toured in Australia, although they did include a few songs from it (notably the pop-psychedelic Come And Fly Me) in their set. They started recording in late '68 and the album (with prissy narration by Adrian Rawlins) was released in mid '69 to public indifference. The band upped and went to the UK, and The Happy Prince slipped into obscurity. To be honest, it isn't the LDD's finest hour but the reissue comes with two versions: the first with the narration, the second (and better) without.
RY COODER - Live at the Great American Music Hall, San Francisco (2013)
Recorded with a full band over two nights in 2011, this Ry Cooder & Corridos Famosos concert offering marks the guitarist's first live recording under his own name since 1988. His band is, as one would expect, full of killer musicians, many of them old friends. The vocalists include Juliette Commagere, Terry Evans, and Arnold McCuller. Son Joachim holds down the drum chair while Robert Francis plays bass and Flaco Jiménez appears intermittently on accordion. In addition, Cooder recruited the ten-piece brass ensemble La Banda Juvenil from Mexico. The program consists of 12 tunes. While only two are originals live readings of tunes from Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down many of these selections are Cooder heritage favorites. The opener is a snarling, soul-blues read of "Crazy 'Bout an Automobile," with a mean slide solo and Arturo Gallardo's bass sax burping in tandem. It's followed by a fine, gospelized reading of "Why Dont You Try Me?" (from 1980's Borderline) that gets not only all three vocalists in on the action, but the entire horn section as well. The big surprises are the inclusion of "Boomer's Story" with excellent martial shuffling by Joachim and the "The Dark End of the Street," with Evans and McCuller in duet, and Jiménez's accordion adding a lonesome sweetness to the proceedings. Cooder's stage banter is in fine form as well, as evidenced by his introduction to the smoking "El Corrido de Jesse James." The other original, "Lord Tell Me Why," with Evans singing the ironic "racial" lyric, underscores its intentional absurdity. Cooder remains a master of traditional and cover material. There are two Woody Guthrie tunes here and both are radically reworked. "Do Re Mi" is a polka in which Pablo Molina's Sousaphone and Jiménez's accordion duel for dominance, and "Vigilante Man" is nasty, moaning, grimy blues driven by the slide guitar. Sam "The Sham" Samudio's "Wooly Bully" is given a full-on boogie treatment by the whole band, and there is a reprise of Gene Barge's "School Is Out," that first appeared on the live album Show Time in 1976. Commagere takes center stage on the Fernando Maldonado classic "Volver Volver," with Le Banda Juvenil in full mariachi mode. She delivers the tune with stirring, soulful commitment. The set closes with a loose, beautifully performed "Goodnight Irene," with Jiménez coloring in the edges with his deft squeeze box, and Cooder's guitar answering with one of his most tender solos on record. For those who've longed for the return of his immediate, loose, warm, live recordings, Live at the Great American Music Hall is where it's at.
CANNED HEAT - Canned Heat '70 Concert: Recorded Live In Europe (1970)
This platter captures the 1970 incarnation of Canned Heat with Bob "The Bear" Hite (vocals), Alan "Blind Owl" Wilson (guitar/vocals/harmonica), Larry "The Mole" Taylor (bass), Aldolfo "Fito" de la Parra (drums), and newest addition Harvey Mandel (guitar), who had replaced Henry "Sunflower" Vestine (guitar) in 1969. They headed across the Atlantic in the spring of 1970 on the heels of "Let's Work Together" a Wilbert Harrison cover that charted within the Top Five in Europe. That outing yielded the combo's first concert disc, Live in Europe (1971) which had been issued almost a year earlier in the U.K. as Canned Heat Concert (Recorded Live in Europe) (1970). These are also among the final recordings to feature Wilson, whose increasing substance abuse and depression would result in an overdose prior to having re-joined the band for another stint in Europe in the fall of the same year. Indeed the brooding "Pulling Hair Blues" from this effort is marked not only by some decidedly dark and strung-out contributions, but more subtly, Hite's tentative introduction of Wilson indicating he had not been playing for the duration of the set. The Heat's performance style has shifted from the aggressive rhythm and blues of their earliest sides to a looser and more improvisational technique. The opener, Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup's "That's All Right Mama," is given a greasy mid-tempo groove over Hite's vocals . Mandel shines as his guitar leads dart in and out of the languid boogie. Although presented as a medley, "Back on the Road" is more or less an inclusive number with only brief lyrical references to "On the Road Again." Mandel's sinuous fretwork melds flawlessly with Wilson's harmonica blows. The powerful rendering of the aforementioned "Let's Work Together" is a highlight, with Canned Heat in top form as Wilson's electric slide riffs recall their seminal sound.
R.E.O. Speedwagon - The Early Years 1971 - 1977 (2018)
Although best known for the AOR and radio hits from the early 1980s, REO Speedwagon's long history goes way back to their formation in Champaign, Illinois in 1967. By the time they came to record their debut LP for Epic Records in 1971, the line-up had settled around Terry Luttrell on lead vocals, driving force Gary Richrath on guitar and Gregg Philbin on bass, joining Neal Doughty and Alan Gratzer. Although guitarist Gary Richrath has long been an important and influential figure in the songwriting and musical direction of the band, by the release of second LP, REO/TWO, the band were joined by Kevin Cronin on lead vocals. His tenure with REO was cut short when he was replaced on lead vocals by Mike Murphy for 1973's Ridin' The Storm Out, 1974's Lost In A Dream and 1975's This Time We Mean It, the latter co-produced by future Eagles producer, Bill Szymczyk. By 1976's REO, Kevin Cronin had returned to the fold, making a significant contribution to the songwriting alongside Gary Richrath. Produced by John Stronach, REO would also be the last studio LP to feature Gregg Philbin on bass, who'd be replaced by Bruce Hall following 1977's double concert album Live (You Get What You Play For). As well as extensive liner notes from Malcolm Dome, this expansive set features a wealth of bonus tracks.
V.A. - Midnight Rider: Tribute To The Allman Brothers Band (2014)
One of rock s biggest genre bending jernauts gets their due tribute by an eclectic group of country, rock, and blues legends on this very special release! Features energetic new covers of the group s classic hits Midnight Rider, Ramblin Man, Whipping Post as well as one of the most famous instrumental songs in all of rock music Jessica and more! This 12-song collection, helmed and herded by Florida guitarist John Wesley, features new performances of some of the band’s classic songs, including “Midnight Rider,” “Statesboro Blues,” “Ramblin’ Man,” and “Whippin’ Post” done by a host of guitarists and singers, Ronnie Earl, Debbie Davies, Eli Cook, Eric Gales, Pat Travers, among them. It's fine as a tribute, but only underscores how influential and unique the Allman Brothers Band always was. Nothing tops the ABB versions of these songs, which really should come as no big surprise to anybody.
PEARLS BEFORE SWINE - One Nation Underground (1967) & Balaklava (1968)
The psychedelic folk band Pearls Before Swine was the brainchild of singer, composer, and cult icon Tom Rapp, born in Bottineau, North Dakota in 1947; after writing his first song at age six, he later began performing at local talent shows, and as a teen, he bested a young Bob Dylan at one such event. Upon relocating to Eau Gallie (now part of Melbourne), Florida, Rapp formed Pearls Before Swine in 1965, recruiting high-school friends Wayne Harley, Lane Lederer, and Roger Crissinger to record a demo which he then sent to the ESP-Disk label; the company quickly signed the group, and they soon traveled to New York to record their superb 1967 debut, One Nation Underground, which went on to sell some 250,000 copies. The explicitly antiwar Balaklava, widely regarded as Pearls Before Swine's finest work, followed in 1968; the group -- by this time essentially comprising Rapp and whoever else was in the studio at the moment -- moved to Reprise for 1969's These Things Too, mounting their first-ever tour in the wake of releasing The Use of Ashes a year later. Two more albums, City of Gold and Beautiful Lies You Could Live In, followed in 1971; moving to Blue Thumb, Rapp resurfaced as a solo artist with 1972's Stardancer, but upon the release of Sunforest a year later he then retired from music, subsequently becoming a civil rights attorney.
Frequently cited as a key influence by the likes of Damon & Naomi, the Bevis Frond, and the Japanese psych band Ghost, Rapp made an unexpected return to live performance in mid-1998 when he appeared at the Terrastock festival in Providence, Rhode Island, joining son Dave and his indie pop band Shy Camp; he soon began work on 1999's A Journal of the Plague Year, his first new LP in over two decades. Constructive Melancholy, a retrospective of Pearls Before Swine's tenure on Reprise, also appeared that same year. This sparked renewed interest in the band, with Water music releasing a box set of the Reprise material in 2003 (Jewels Were the Stars) as well as a set of unreleased demo and live recordings entitled The Wizard of Is. ESP also remastered and combined their first two albums as The Complete ESP-Disk Recordings in 2005. Tom Rapp died in Melbourne in February 2018; he was 70 years old.
KANSAS - Sail On: The 30th Anniversary Collection (2004)
Sony's Sail On: The 30th Anniversary Collection is certainly the most lovingly crafted of the many Kansas retrospectives. Featuring 27 album cuts that range from classic FM hits like "Dust in the Wind" and "Point of No Return" to fan favorites such as "Song for America," a 35-page booklet that includes extensive liner notes and career-spanning photos, and a 16-track DVD that collects numerous television appearances, videos, and live recordings, Sail On seems to be the definitive tome of the Midwest art rock band's very existence. The album tracks are dished out in a linear fashion, making Bret Adams' interviews with the rotating cast of bandmembers all the more resonant, and the much needed remastering the band's first two albums arrived in this form a month before crackles with the kind of indulgent glee that can only come from the combination of crispy Hammond B-3 riffing over crafty mid-'70s time signatures. There's not much new here for fans who bought 1994's Box Set besides the additional DVD and the inclusion of five tracks from albums released on post-Epic/Legacy labels MCA, Intersound, River North, Diablo, Compendia Music, and Magna Carta, but for fans who have yet to upgrade their Columbia House copy of The Best of Kansas with its inevitable scratches and fingerprints from late-night/post-bar fumbling Sail On may open up a whole new world of appreciation for this tenacious group of prog-pop gentlemen.
Disc One: Though they wouldn't experience an incredible mainstream breakthrough until years later, Kansas actually began in 1974 with vocalist/keyboardist Steve Walsh, vocalist/violinist Robby Steinhardt, guitarist/keyboardist Kerry Livgren, guitarist Richard Williams, bassist Dave Hope and drummer Phil Ehart. In that original existence, the band had a very unique progressive rock influenced sound that- as unveiled throughout the first half of this installment- may have been musically intricate and astute, but lacked radio accessibility and could be considered pretentious. Epic pieces like "Journey From Mariabronn," "Song For America" and "Lamplight Symphony" all stretch beyond the eight minute mark and are loaded with a series of complicated solos, yet they lack the hook-laden classic rock sensibilities they'd soon discover. After patiently trudging through selections from the group's self-titled debut, 1975's Song For America and the subsequent Masque, listeners will be greeted with the much easier to digest Leftoverture moments. This album would become the group's cornerstone, spawning the mega single "Carry On Wayward Son" (this volume's primary highlight) and fan favorites like "What's On My Mind" and "Miracles Out of Nowhere."
Disc Two: Part two in the package begins with multiple cuts from 1977's commercially strident follow-up Point of No Return, culling together the title track, power ballad "Dust In the Wind" and the memorable "Lightning's Hand." However (as the text in the accompanying book points out) the band faced personal problems and drug abuse, which put the creative juices on hold for a little bit. With those glitches, a live record was in order, traced in this collection with "Paradox" (from the subsequent Two For the Show). Tracks from Monolith and Audio Visions were also scattered attempts at crossing over into pop realms, though a rebound at radio becomes apparent with Vinyl Confessions excerpts. The 1982 album saw the departure of Walsh, who was promptly replaced by John Elefante, the melodic basis behind smashes like "Play That Game Tonight" and "Fight Fire With Fire" (off 1983's Drastic Measures). Though Walsh returned come 1986, the group almost nestled into an adult contemporary safety net ("All I Wanted") while the following decade of material was virtually ignored outside of die-hards.
NAZARETH - Loud & Proud! (2018) [32CD Box Set]
Nazareth are a Scottish hard rock band formed in 1968, that had several hits in the United Kingdom, as well as in several other West European countries in the early 1970s, and established an international audience with their 1975 album Hair of the Dog, which featured their hits "Hair of the Dog" and a cover of the ballad "Love Hurts". The band continues to record and tour. Formed in 1968, Nazareth rose from the pubs and clubs of their native Scotland to become one of the most successful rock bands in the world, notching up a string of hit records along the way. Hard-working, honest, sincere, and unaffected by the vagaries of fashion, this band of the people have influenced many great artists. Half a century later, and having sold in excess of 20 million albums around the globe, the legendary Nazareth are still rocking hard! This comprehensive box set is a celebration of Nazareth’s incredible career to date. It contains: their original studio albums, live albums, singles, rare and unreleased audio, a hardback book with new and previous band interviews, reproduced original memorabilia and a metal badge.
This box set is a limited edition of 5000 units.
SPIRIT - It Shall Be: Ode & Epic Recordings 1968-1972 [5CD Box Set] (2018)
In 2010, Sony presented Spirit's first five albums in a budget-priced box set. There wasn't anything extra, just five albums in a -looking slipcase. Great Britain's Esoteric Recordings felt the band deserved better. Spirit's first five albums are also included here with newly remastered sound -- alongside a slew of associated outtakes, singles, and alternate mixes offered in 1991 for Time Circle compilation. They also added the original mono mix of the band's self-titled 1968 debut album, and the group's soundtrack for French writer-director Jacques Demy's 1969 film Model Shop. As most fans know, Spirit's meld of jazz, blues, psychedelia, and pop proved highly influential, but was never quite sustainable commercially. Despite smoking and commercially viable singles such as "Fresh Garbage," "I Got a Line on You," "Uncle Jack," and "Nature's Way," the band's wildly eclectic sound never really connected with the masses. Listening to the band's Ode debut is a case in point. The strange mix of genres, while seamless, was unsettling and more often than not, regarded as dark, mysterious, and brooding -- check "Mechanical World," "Fresh Garbage," and "Taurus." This was enhanced by their appearance in the fragmented cover photo with 17-year-old guitarist Randy California (who'd played with Jimi Hendrix at 16), his stepfather, jazz drummer Ed Cassidy (Roland Kirk, Art Pepper, New Jazz Trio) -- whose waxy-looking bald pate looked downright strange, even in 1967 -- keyboardist John Locke (New Jazz Trio), vocalist Jay Ferguson, and bassist Mark Andes. The released stereo version of the debut album with 1968's The Family That Plays Together -- that netted the hit "I Got a Line on You" -- reveals a tale of two bands: The former seeking to express all the core elements in their sound, and the latter from an outfit that has found a way to make them gel. Disc two opens with the Model Shop soundtrack cut in 1968, followed by the slightly schizophrenic but nonetheless rewarding Clear, which was, in retrospect, deeply influenced by the experience of the film score yet contains some of the band's finest accessible tracks in "Dark-Eyed Woman" "Give a Life, Take a Life, and "New Dope in Town." Disc three contains not only their most commercially successful album in The Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus, but all of its attendant sessions. Disc four offers the mono mixes of Spirit as well as four bonus cuts from those sessions and Time Circle mixes. The final platter contains eight more Time Circle mixes, assorted outtakes from The Family That Plays Together and Clear, both sides of the "1984" and "Animal Zoo" singles, and other assorted mixes. It's all held together in a handsome clamshell package with a booklet chock-full of photos, liner notes by Malcolm Dome, and archival interviews with California and Cassidy. Though Spirit continued recording and touring in one way or another until California's death in 1997, It Shall Be: The Ode & Epic Recordings is a definitive aural portrait from a band whose influence continues unabated into the 21st century.
THE ACTION - Rolled Gold (2002) & Uptight And Outasight (2004)
The Action were an English band of the 1960s, formed as The Boys in August 1963, in Kentish Town, North West London. They were part of the mod subculture, and played soul music-influenced pop music. The band was formed as The Boys in August 1963, in Kentish Town, North West London. The original members were Reg King (lead vocals), Alan 'Bam' King (rhythm guitar, vocals), Mike "Ace" Evans (bass guitar, vocals) and Roger Powell (drums) as The Boys, who had a brief spell as a bar band in Germany, and then as a backing band for Sandra Barry, (sometimes referred to as Sandra Barry and the Boyfriends) including on her single ""Really Gonna Shake" in 1964.. After the stint with Barry, Pete Watson was recruited as lead guitarist, and in 1964 they changed their name to The Action. Shortly after their formation, they signed to Parlophone with producer George Martin. "Land of a Thousand Dances" b/w "In My Lonely Room" was well received by critics, but sold poorly. None of the Action's singles achieved success in the UK Singles Chart. After disastrous experiences with the Rikki Farr management, Peter Watson left the band in 1966. They continued as quartet, but were dropped from Parlophone in 1967. In the late 1960s keyboardist Ian Whiteman and guitarist Martin Stone joined the band and the Action moved toward a mid-tempo psychedelic ballad style, and then into folk rock. Reg King left the band in 1967, and Alan King took over as main lead vocalist. In 1969, when signing to John Curd's Head Records, the band was renamed Mighty Baby. Alan King later went on to form Ace, who had a US hit in 1975 with “How Long”. A 1980 compilation of the Action's Parlophone tracks came with sleeve notes by Paul Weller ("the Action had it in their soul") and did much for their profile, while the Rolled Gold album demos were hailed as genuine lost classics when they were reissued in the early 1990s. In 1998, the original lineup of the Action reformed for a concert on the Isle of Wight. The band played regularly over the next six years. Notably, they are one of the favourite bands of Phil Collins, who performed with the reunited band in June 2000. "For me it was like playing with the Beatles", he later commented on the experience.
THE AMAZING RHYTHM ACES - Stacked Deck (1975) + Too Stuffed To Jump (1976) 
The Amazing Rhythm Aces is an American country rock group, which has characterized its music as "American music" or "roots music" a blend of rock, country, blues, R&B, folk, reggae and Latino. The band is best known for its 1970s hit "Third Rate Romance". It has released 18 albums over 30 years (a period including a 15-year hiatus). The band's music is distinguished by its eclectic scope, literate and often quirky lyrics, and distinctive vocals by lead singer and songwriter Russell Smith.
Stacked Deck is the debut album by American country rock group the Amazing Rhythm Aces, released in 1975 on the ABC label. The album was recorded at the Phillips Recording Studio in Memphis, Tennessee and was produced by group member Barry "Byrd" Burton. Most of the material was composed by the group's lead singer Russell Smith. Stacked Deck reached #11 on the US country chart and #120 on the Billboard albums chart. It includes the group's biggest hit single, "Third Rate Romance", which peaked at #11 country and #14 pop, and did even better in Canada where it topped both the country and pop chart. "Amazing Grace (Used to Be Her Favorite Song)" was also released as a single and made #9 on the country chart, although it stalled at #72 on the pop chart. Stacked Deck has become a very highly regarded album, and has been given the maximum five-star rating on the Allmusic website.
Too Stuffed to Jump is the second album by American country rock group the Amazing Rhythm Aces, released in 1976 on the ABC label. Most of the material was composed by the group's lead singer Russell Smith. Too Stuffed to Jump reached #16 on the US country chart and #157 on the Billboard albums chart. The single "The End Is Not in Sight (The Cowboy Tune)" reached #12 on the country chart, and #42 on the pop chart. "Dancing the Night Away" was later covered by Crystal Gayle on her 1979 album Miss the Mississippi. "The End Is Not in Sight (The Cowboy Tune)" won the 1976 Grammy award in the category Country Vocal Performance by a Group.
JOHNNY WINTER - Live In NYC' 97 (1998) & Captured Live! (1976)
Johnny Winter assembled Live in NYC '97 with assistance of his fan club, drawing all of the recordings from an April 1997 performance at the Bottom Line. Produced by Winter's longtime colleague Dick Shurman, the record doesn't follow the predictable pattern of a live album -- instead of hits, it offers fan favorites and covers, which makes for a much more interesting listen. Throughout the album, Winter simply rips, tearing through all five songs with blistering energy. This is the live album hardcore fans have been wanting for years, and it doesn't fail to deliver on its promise.
On the back cover of Captured Live!, Johnny Winter's second live album (following 1971's Live Johnny Winter And), Winter is pictured with his band (second guitarist Floyd Radford, bass player Randy Jo Hobbs, and drummer Richard Hughes) from the back, playing before a giant, open-air sports stadium full of fans. The photograph is not identified, leaving the impression, along with the large cheering heard on the LP itself, that Winter was headlining such a venue -- but he couldn't have been, because he isn't that big a name. He must have been performing as part of a festival or opening for an act that can fill stadiums, like the Rolling Stones. The photograph encapsulates the dilemma of Johnny Winter's career, seven years after he signed a lucrative contract with CBS Records (his discs are now issued by its Blue Sky subsidiary). His early renown came as a fleet-fingered blues guitarist, but the music industry pitched him as a potential superstar performer. Instead, Live Johnny Winter And has turned out to be his only gold album, and he remains a fleet-fingered guitarist, as usual playing rock & roll as well as blues. One reason he hasn't satisfied the potential the business people saw in him probably is that he hasn't turned out to be a songwriter; here, the only song credited to him is the 12-and-a-half-minute slow blues number "Sweet Papa John" that closes the disc. Otherwise, he plays the standards "Bony Moronie," "It's All Over Now," and "Highway 61 Revisited," as well as songs written for him by his old bandmate Rick Derringer ("Roll with Me") and John Lennon ("Rock & Roll People"). All the songs are basically vehicles for his guitar playing, sometimes performed in unison with Radford. Winter plays fast, filling up measures with torrents of notes that must impress any guitar fan, and he earns the big cheers heard in between numbers. It's no surprise that his biggest seller is a live album, and this one is another accomplished effort. But there's nothing on it to sest that he will ever sell out a huge stadium on his name alone.
MATTHEW FISHER - Matthew Fisher (1979) & Strange Days (1981) 
Matthew Charles Fisher is an English musician, songwriter and producer. He is best known for playing the Hammond organ on the 1967 single "A Whiter Shade of Pale" by Procol Harum, for which he subsequently won a songwriting credit.
Digitally remastered edition of 2 original albums on a single CD. After a 3 year stint as Procol Harum's keyboard player (which included the recording of "A Whiter Shade of Pale") Fisher went on to produce Robin Trower's first three solo albums before he released his own in 1973. Both "Matthew Fisher" and 1981's "Strange Days" reveal that Fisher's talents as a keyboard player stretch far beyond that of Procol Harum's realm, while demonstrating his ability to write as well. Matthew Fisher employed Rod Argent on background vocals and session man Tim Renwick on guitar (Ace, David Bowie, Elton John). This album focuses more attention on Fisher's Hammond organ prowess than "Strange Days", while the songs are engulfed in a sturdier rock (and soft rock) habitat as well.
PETER FRENCH - Ducks In Flight (1978)
Renowned for fronting both Leafhound and Atomic Rooster, with this 1978 solo album Peter French took the somewhat surprising step of eschewing the heavy underground trademarks of both these bands and going for a more commercial approach. And it worked. There are influences from the likes of Bad Company, The Faces and Thin Lizzy here, on songs which are sharp with real melodic attitude. Moreover, French brought in a battery of highly proficient musicians to help out. From guitarists Brian Robertson and Micky Moody to drummers Henry Spinetti and Kenney Jones and keyboard player Tim Hinkley, the line-up gives the album a genuine feel of being a bunch of pals having fun, and in the process making a coherent sound. From the funk-fuelled opener Slipped And Stumbled, almost everything here has an upbeat momentum, with Shame, Shame, Schoolday and Hold Me Take Me having a swagger that even Rod Stewart would envy. Only on the rather mundane Without You does the pace slacken. Otherwise this is a purposeful success. The pity is that it’s French’s sole solo album.
PINK FLOYD - Meddle (1971) [Limited 4 CD Deluxe Edition, 2018]
Meddle is the sixth studio album by English progressive rock group Pink Floyd, released on 31 October 1971 by Harvest Records. It was produced between the band's touring commitments, from January to August 1971. The album was recorded at a series of locations around London, including Abbey Road Studios and Morgan Studios. With no material to work with and no clear idea of the album's direction, the group devised a series of novel experiments which eventually inspired the album's signature track, "Echoes". Although the band's later albums would be unified by a central theme with lyrics written entirely by Roger Waters, Meddle was a group effort with lyrical contributions from each member, and is considered a transitional album between the Syd Barrett-influenced group of the late 1960s and the emerging Pink Floyd. The cover has been explained by its creator, Storm Thorgerson, to be an ear underwater. As with several previous albums designed by Hipgnosis, though, Thorgerson was unhappy with the final result. The album was well-received by music critics upon its release, and was commercially successful in the United Kingdom, but lackluster publicity on the part of their United States-based label led to poor sales there upon initial release.
Limited Edition of 300 numbered copies.
ERIC CLAPTON - Transmission Impossible: Legendary Radio Broadcasts From The 1960s-1990s (2018)
Eric Clapton's musical output across a career spanning 55 years and counting, has been nothing short of extraordinary. But added to this, that the lion s share of his work has been of a quite staggering quality, with more than occasional brilliance displayed, has made Clapton one of a handful of musicians, composers and performers from the rock age who patently deserve their place at the top table of the industry. This 3 X CD set celebrates and champions the contribution Eric has made to the pantheon of intelligent rock music as it contains three broadcast recordings of live shows from the 1960s, the 1970s and the 1990s. Kicking off with a superb concert the great man gave as part of Cream, the super-group which also of course featured the talents of Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker, recorded at the LA Forum in October 1968. Next up on disc two is a unique gig Clapton gave at Dallas s Convention Center in Texas towards the end of 1976, hot on the heels of his No Reason To Cry album. Concluding the collection, disc 3 takes EC forward more than 20 years, to his astonishing show at the Edmonton Coliseum in Alberta, Canada in September of 1998.
GROUNDHOGS - The United Artists Years (1972-1976) 
The Groundhogs are a British rock band founded in late 1963, that toured extensively in the 1960s, achieved prominence in the early 1970s and continued sporadically into the 21st century. Tony McPhee (guitar and vocals) is the sole constant member of the group, which has gone through many personnel changes but usually records and performs as a power trio.
This 3-CD set is a companion to the earlier ‘The Liberty Years 1968-1972' which charted the band’s transformation from blues to proto-heavy rockers. But it was only with ‘Split’ that the band hit proverbial paydirt. It is commemorated here with the inclusion of several tracks in a complete 1972 BBC In Concert. This BBC concert (and one from 1974) have been available on CD before (save for four tracks), originally on Windsong and later on the abbreviated 2002 release ‘BBC Live In Concert’. By 1972's ‘Hogwash’ (the first with Clive Brooks on drums) the band had lost their earlier frenetic blues rock drive as they honed the sound to an altogether more refined and produced situation. This is also evidenced in the “bonus” 7” edit of ‘Live A Little Lady’ from 1976's ‘Crosscut Saw’. This album and the same year’s penultimate UA release, ‘Black Diamond’, are also included here although they didn’t make any real impact at the time and perhaps even less so now on reinvestigation. It seemed then that Groundhogs were sounding less like themselves and more like others as they evidently jostled with changing musical tastes. In a similar way their contemporary Rory Gallagher was also facing an identity crisis at this time. The band will still be remembered for their light that shone bright for a relatively short two or three year window at the dawn of the seventies. And sadly, like Tony McPhee’s ongoing health problems, after several later reunions they never really recovered.
LED ZEPPELIN - Led Zeppelin (1969)
Led Zeppelin is the eponymous debut album by English rock band Led Zeppelin. It was released on 12 January 1969 in the United States and on 31 March in the United Kingdom by Atlantic Records. The album was recorded in September and October 1968 at Olympic Studios, London, shortly after the band's formation. It contains a mix of original material worked out in the first rehearsals, and remakes and rearrangements of contemporary blues and folk songs. The sessions took place before the group had secured a recording contract and were paid for directly, and took 36 hours and less than L2,000 to complete. The album showed the group's fusion of blues and rock, and their take on the emerging hard rock sound was immediately commercially successful in both the UK and US. Although the album was not critically well-received when first released, critics have since come to view it in a more favourable light.
Released on January 12, 1969 - 50 YEARS!!!
WALTER TROUT & THE FREE RADICALS - Live Trout (2000) & WALTER TROUT & FRIENDS - Full Circle (2006)
No overdubs, no sweetening, in fact, no extra music to flesh out this relatively slim double disc (available at a single price) that clocks in at a combined total of only 96 minutes: Welcome to one full Walter Trout performance, complete with between song patter as well as every note -- and there are a lot of them -- the guitarist played at this March 2000 show. Filled with blistering, unrefined, and unadulterated blues-rock, Trout has been playing shows identical to this for years in Europe where he is a fairly major star. The accomplished guitar slinger unfailingly delivers the sizzling six-string goods, especially in concert with his gritty yet undistinguished voice and frenetic leads. On his second live album, but first easily available in the States, Trout pulls out all the stops, shifting from the stinging slow blues and soft-loud dynamics of "Finally Gotten Over You" and "The Reason I'm Gone" to the all-out grinding swamp of "Gotta Broken Heart" and the meat and potatoes Chuck Berry by way of Johnny Winter rock and roll of "Good Enough to Eat." Tough, roughshod, and passionate, Trout, who had gone without sleep for 24 hours before this show, doesn't sound a bit fatigued. The liner notes state that this even adds an edge to this performance. A sideline into Bob Dylan's "I Shall Be Released" adds some much needed subtly and a bit of gospel flavor to the proceedings, but Trout works best when his lightening fingers, brawny sustain, and hot dog fret runs are given free reign. It's all sweaty, powerful, and uncompromising, but without a unique voice, either vocally or instrumentally, Trout remains a gifted, hard working, undoubtedly scintillating live performer without the idiosyncratic edge to pull away from a pack of equally talented blues rockers.
In his mid-fifties at the time of this album's release in 2006, Walter Trout seemed to be in a reflective mood. His 2005 album was a collection of older, previously unreleased tracks from various stages in his extensive career. This follow-up finds him reconnecting with many artists he has worked with, laying down newly recorded originals. In fact, this is Trout's first studio recorded disc of fresh material since 2001's Go the Distance. As the Full Circle title implies, the guitarist rounds up some musicians/friends he has played with for a spontaneous set of performances. The liner notes explain that some of these tracks were unrehearsed first takes, and the heightened energy level throughout reflects that. Also impressive is that Trout was eye-to-eye with each artist, as opposed to projects where guests lay down solos at various times in different cities and never see each other. The disc kicks off in fine, heated form with John Mayall sharing vocals and guitar and adding harmonica to a fiery eight-minute slow blues workout "She Takes More Than She Gives." Trout restrains slightly his propensity to pummel more notes per minute than the next guy, infusing greater passion into his playing as evidenced by the swampy blues-rock of "Workin' Overtime," featuring Jeff Healey. Fellow fret shredders of his genre such as Bernard Allison, Coco Montoya, and especially Joe Bonamassa add predictable firepower with their contributions and seem to spur Trout to new heights. In this heavy company, it's refreshing to hear him shift into a jazzier mood with Junior Watson on "Slap Happy" and even go acoustic on "Firehouse Mama," where he trades hyperactive riffs with neighbor Eric Sardinas. Harp master/vocalist James Harman (who, with his burly face and long white beard looks more like Moses everyday) and organist Deacon Jones bring comparative subtlety to the proceedings and alter the groove to a less frenzied attack than when Trout is trading licks with his guitar buddies. Guitar Shorty, Little Feat drummer Richard Hayward, and noted DJ Larry Keene whose articulated fast talking can be compared to Trout's own style on guitar also appear, the latter for a spoken word title cut finale that could have been left on the cutting room floor. Deep blues fans will still probably shy away due to the album's guitar heavy appeal and Trout's tendency to overextend his furious solos. But for the blues-rocker who loves a red blast of electricity and barrages of notes played with no-frills intensity, this is arguably Trout's most listenable, impressive, and diverse album yet.
V.A. - Chicago Plays The Stones (2018)
They’ve been celebrating this music since the ’60s, but the Rolling Stones really amped up their adulation of the songs and giants of Chicago blues with their acclaimed 2016 album Blue and Lonesome. There was always an irony in the fact that it took a British band to introduce much of America to the kings and queens of Chicago blues, but it was with the utmost sincerity that the Stones first covered these songs and then came to Chicago to be at Chess Studios and hang out with heroes like Muddy Waters. The gritty, urban, amplified and electrifying sound of Chicago blues was tapped by the original rock ’n’ rollers of the ’50s and even more so by the Rolling Stones starting in the mid-’60s. Blues titans like Muddy and Buddy Guy recognized and benefitted from the Stones’ outspoken adoration of them and their Windy City brethren, and a long-lasting cross-continental kinship was born. This is what spawned the idea of Chicago Plays the Stones even before the Stones announced the coming of Blue and Lonesome. Producer Larry Skoller and co-producer/arranger Vincent Bucher had already been working up Chicago-blues covers of Rolling Stones songs dating from the ’60s to the ’90s. “In May of 2016, I was asked to produce Chicago Plays the Stones, timed to be released in conjunction with the Chicago opening of Exhibitionism: The Rolling Stones in April of 2017,” says Skoller. “The idea was to bring a set of Stones songs ‘back home’ by playing them with a Chicago blues groove to imagine them as tunes played by Muddy, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, Jimmy Reed and the other Chicago blues icons the Stones have idolized and covered.”
GOV'T MULE - The Deep End: Vol.1 & Vol.2 & Bonus CD "Hidden Treasures" (2001)
The first of a two-volume set, The Deep End stands as both Gov't Mule's fourth studio album and as a tribute to their late bass player, Allen Woody, who died accidentally in August 2000. To rise above the tragedy, remaining members Warren Haynes and Matt Abts ambitiously and brilliantly recorded each track with a different bass player and guest vocalist or guitarist, many of them favorites of Woody's and all renowned throughout the music world. Cream's Jack Bruce, Bootsy Collins, the Who's John Entwistle, Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Deep Purple's Roger Glover, and Larry Graham of Graham Central Station are among those lending a hand and there are hints of an equally impressive guest roster for Vol. 2. Gov't Mule elected to continue as a four-piece with the addition of a full-time keyboardist, and the material on The Deep End serves as a great introduction to this new direction. While most tracks are reminiscent of their three previous studio outings, many also take advantage of the expanded instrumental arsenal to stretch out a bit, particularly on "Down and Out in New York City," with its jazzy stylings, and "Sco-Mule," with its classic Santana-esque delivery. Through it all, the distinctive and powerful vocals, guitar playing, and songwriting of the ridiculously talented Haynes ensures that the end result is a cohesive collection of material that will delight fans while bringing many new admirers on board. This second and final installment of the band's ambitious tribute to their late bass player, Allen Woody, concludes what they began with 2001's Vol. 1 namely, to record each track with a different bass player while retaining a cohesive feel to each album. The two are indeed bookends; this second release is by no means comprised of leftover tracks. Rather, so many of Woody's favorite players wanted to be involved that it led to the recording of enough material to fill two full-length CDs. As on Vol. 1, the guest list includes notable players from different genres, such as Les Claypool (Primus), Billy Cox (Jimi Hendrix), Phil Lesh (Grateful Dead), Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel, King Crimson), Meshell N'degeocello, Jason Newsted (ex-Metallica), and Chris Squire (Yes), among others. The intent was to have each guest incorporate their own style into their selected track, while retaining the identifiable sound of the band, and again they have succeeded, especially on the Squire track, "Sun Dance." A notable exception is "Greasy Granny's Gopher Gravy, Pt. 1" which is pretty much transformed into a Primus song by Claypool's distinctive bass and vocal. It's still a worthwhile song, but more enjoyable if you're a fan of his band. Three covers out of 13 tracks Tower of Power's "What Is Hip?," the more obscure "Hammer and Nails," and the traditional "Catfish Blues" fit in smoothly alongside new originals such as "World of Confusion" and "Slow, Happy Boys." After the death of founding member and bass guitarist Allen Woody, the band considered breaking up. Instead, remaining members Warren Haynes and Matt Abts recorded several songs with bass players Woody had admired. So many musicians wanted to participate that the band ended up recording two albums worth of material. Vol 1 was issued in 2001. Originally, The Deep End, Volume 1 was released with a bonus disc called Hidden Treasures which featured live performances by the "New School of Gov't Mule" (Haynes, Abts, bassist Dave Schools, and keyboardist Chuck Leavell).
GOV'T MULE - New Year's Run 2018 - 2019 [2018-12-31] (2019)
Gov’t Mule closed out 2018 they way they have ended almost every year since 2002 with a celebratory show at New York City’s Beacon Theatre. The band rang in 2019 with the help of Jackie Greene and Saturday Night Live drummer Shawn Pelton dedicating their entire second set to traveling tunes loading the frame with debut covers about modes of transportation and being on the road. The four-piece got their evening going at the historic 2,800+ capacity venue with “Broke Down On The Brazos” that segued into “Tributary Jam.” From there, Warren Haynes & Co. would work their way through cuts from their own catalog before offering up their first taste of the transportation-related theme of the night with “Railroad Boy” from 2009’s By A Thread. Later in the opening frame Mule would drop the debut of Jimi Hendrix'”Hear My Train A Comin'” in the middle of “Blind Man In The Dark.”
Mule was joined by Greene and Pelton for their entire second frame. The augmented ensemble appropriately opened things up with “Traveling Tune” from Revolution Come…Revolution Go. Next, they would reel off a string of debuts with Deep Purple’s “Highway Star,” The Rolling Stones’ “Silver Train” from Goats Head Soup, The Black Crowes’ “Wiser Time” and Little Feat’s “Two Trains.” “Trane” from Mule’s 1995 self-titled debut came ahead of their first-ever take on Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Tuesday’s Gone.” The cut from (Pronounced ‘Leh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd) was used to help welcome in 2019 as it segued into the traditional “Auld Lang Syne.” The debuts kept coming as Mule & Co. would offer up the Grateful Dead’s “Casey Jones,” Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers’ “Runnin’ Down A Dream,” Allman Brothers Band’s “Seven Turns” and “Ramblin’ Man” and Jethro Tull’s “Locomotive Breath.” First time takes on “Traveling Man,” a song that Ricky Nelson made famous in 1961 and Bob Seger’s “Beautiful Loser” helped close out the lengthy stanza. Gov’t Mule continued to work in transportation songs when they returned for their encore. The foursome was joined once again by Pelton and Corky Laing to start things off. The Mountain drummer subbed for Matt Abts as the ad-hoc act dug in on yet another debut this time delivering “Crossroader” from the hard rock band’s 1974 album Twin Peaks. An extended drums jam followed as Laing, Pelton and Abts showed off their percussion skills. Jimmy Vivino emerged next for Jeff Beck’s “Freeway Jam” and the final debut of the night Bob Dylan’s “It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry.” The blues standard “Key To The Highway” brought Mule’s New Year’s Eve show to close.
THE RUNAWAYS - The Runaways (1976) + Queens Of Noise (1977) (2008)
When the Runaways debuted in 1976 with this self-titled LP, aggressive female rockers were the exception instead of the rule. Women had no problem becoming folk-rockers, singer/songwriters or Top 40 icons, but female artists who had more in common with Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith than Joni Mitchell were hardly the norm. With this album, the Runaways made it crystal clear that women (or specifically, adolescent girls) were more than capable of playing intense, forceful hard rock that went directly for the jugular. Lusty classics like "Cherry Bomb" and "You Drive Me Wild" made no attempt to conceal the fact that teenage girls could be every bit as sexual as the guys -- a message that both men and women found intimidating. And on "Is It Day or Night," Cherie Currie sings about life in the fast lane with every bit as much conviction as Axl Rose would 11 years later. Currie and Joan Jett are equally riveting, and a 17-year-old Lita Ford was already an impressive guitarist. This LP was far from a commercial hit in the U.S., where timid rock radio programmers simply didn't know what to make of the Runaways. But interestingly, it did earn the band a strong following in the major rock market of Japan.
The Runaways didn't compromise a bit on their outstanding sophomore effort, Queens of Noise. Melodic yet tough and aggressive, this is hard rock that pulls no punches either musically or lyrically. Classics like "Neon Angels (On the Road to Ruin)," "Take It or Leave It," and "I Love Playing with Fire" wouldn't have been shocking coming from Aerosmith or Kiss, but suburban adolescent girls singing openly and honestly about casual sex, intoxication, and wild all-night parties was certainly radical for 1977. Joan Jett and Cherie Currie articulated the thoughts and feelings of the "bad girls" Kiss and countless others were describing, and they didn't hesitate to say that yes, women fantasized about sex. "Johnny Guitar" is a fine vehicle for guitarist/singer Lita Ford, who had solid chops before she was old enough to vote. Queens of Noise would be Currie's last album with the groundbreaking band.
VAN MORRISON - Inarticulate Speech of the Heart (1983) & A Sense Of Wonder (1984)
Almost a forgotten album, Inarticulate Speech of the Heart takes listeners to the deepest, most inward areas of Van Morrison's renegade Irish soul, the culmination of his spiritual jazz period and also perhaps not coincidentally the last record he made for Warner Bros. Four of the 11 tracks are moody instrumentals, which might partly explain the indifference of many rock critics toward the album, although the album's very title gives a clue to their presence. The mood is predominantly mellow but never flaccid or complacent; there is a radiance that glows throughout. "Higher Than the World" is simply one of the most beautiful recordings Morrison ever made, with Mark Isham's choir-like synthesizer laying down the lovely backdrop. The instrumental "Connswater" is the most Irish-flavored piece that Morrison had made up to that point, and would continue to be until he recorded with the Chieftains in 1988. "Rave on, John Donne" in part a recitation invoking a roster of writers over a supple two-chord vamp seems to have had the longest afterlife, reappearing in Morrison's live shows and greatest-hits compilations. "The Street Only Knew Your Name" is the only piece that could be classified as a rocker, tempered even here by the synthesizer overlays. The record sold poorly, but many of those who bought it consider it one of the most cherished items in their Van Morrison collections.
Van Morrison's U.S. label debut with Polygram (which had issued his Live at the Grand Opera House Belfast album in England earlier) A Sense Of Wonder is a strong effort, mixing some of his familiar influences R&B, poetry, mysticism on such characteristic tracks as "Tore Down a la Rimbaud." It might be fair to say that, by now, Morrison's fans had heard what he had to say and the rest was just repetition, but he continued to write and perform at a high level at this mature stage in his career. The 29 January 2008 reissued and remastered version of the album contains an alternative take of "Crazy Jane on God" and "A Sense of Wonder".
V.A. - Dante's Paradiso - The Divine Comedy Part III (2010)
The Finnish prog association Colossus and its Italian chairman Marco Bernard have been very active since 2000 in producing numerous 4-disc projects for various prog artists around the world to participate in. Perhaps two of the largest ordeals have been the trilogies based on Boccaccio's Decameron (Pt. 3 of it was released in 2016) and Dante's The Divine Comedy. "Paradiso" is naturally the final part of the latter. Here's my modest look at it, to accompany Octopus-4's more detailed review. Marco Piva has written a 7-page essay of Dante's work. The lay-out of the thick booklet lists, including little pics too, all the performers and their instruments, with (mainly?) Gustave Doré's graphic art in the background instead of being lavishly illustrated with full-colour paintings as in the Decameron series. Looks very good anyway. These Colossus projects are always a great way of getting to know dozens of prog acts all over the world and to hear how they are inspired by the literary source material and how they obey the producer's wish to sound like 70's prog. Italy is however much more represented than any other country, and it's understandable that often the same artists reappear on several projects. "Paradiso" could well be among the finest ones, even if the content is not as celestial as one could think, starting from the beautiful cover art.
MAGNA CARTA - Tomorrow Never Comes: The Anthology 1969-2006 (2007)
Magna Carta is an English 'folk' band, formed in 1969 in London by Chris Simpson, Lyell Tranter, and Glen Stuart. They were part of the early progressive wave, but without really fully stepping into the progressive realm. Magna Carta's music is largely inspired and influenced by the folk of Simon & Garfunkel, focussing on soft and gentle acoustic music, often with a traditional feel, augmented with orchestral arangements and good vocal harmonies. Influences and similar artist include the already mentioned Simon & garfunkel, Fairport Convention, Kevin Ayers, Moody Blues, Amazing Blondel, Caravan, Al Stewart, the softer folk/singer songwriter genre and Canterbury genre. Magna Carta has gone through numerous personel changes over the years, with the only constant factor being Chris Simpson. Most notable members include Glen Stuart, an amazing vocalist with a great range, Lyell Tranter, who soon departed for Australia to be replaced by Davey johnstone on guitars (left Magna Carta to join Elton John as long time band member), and Linda Taylor who would later merry Chris Simpson.
Between 1969 and 1975 Magna Carta made some wonderfull albums, with the beautifull "Seasons' and 'Lord Of The Ages' as absolute highlights. Also the live album "In Concert" recorded in 1971 in Amsterdam is not to be missed. With the leaving of Glen Stuart the magical beauty was lost, and for a while the band seemed to fall apart. Chris Simpson however managed to keep the band alive and Magna Carta continoud making nice highly enjoyable music. In 1983 Chris met Linda Taylor and they continued mostly as a duo keeping the Magna Carta name alive. Studio albums became rare, but rereleases of studio albums, and new live recordings kept them performing throughout Europe until today (2006).
CAPTAIN & TENNILLE - Ultimate Collection - The Complete Hits (2001)
Daryl Frank Dragon (August 27, 1942 – January 2, 2019) was an American musician and songwriter, known as Captain from the pop musical duo Captain & Tennille with his then wife, Toni Tennille. Dragon died on January 2, 2019, from renal failure.
The Captain & Tennille were American recording artists whose primary success occurred in the 1970s. The husband-and-wife duo were "Captain" Daryl Dragon and Toni Tennille. They have five albums certified gold or platinum and scored numerous hits on the US singles charts, the most enduring of which included "Love Will Keep Us Together", "Do That to Me One More Time", and "Muskrat Love". They hosted their own television variety series on ABC in 1976–77.
PEGI YOUNG - Pegi Young (2007)
Margaret "Pegi" Young (December 1, 1952 – January 1, 2019) was an American singer-songwriter, environmentalist, educator and philanthropist. Her debut as a singer came in 1983 when she was a member of The Pinkettes, the backing vocalists of Neil Young's Rock-a Billy Shocking Pinks tour. In 1994 she made her first nationwide TV appearance at the Academy Awards, singing backup on the song "Philadelphia", composed by her husband. Young met future husband Neil Young in 1974 when she was working as a waitress at a diner near his ranch, a story he tells in the 1992 song "Unknown Legend". They married in August 1978 and had two children, Ben and Amber, in addition to her becoming stepmother to his first child, Zeke. In July 2014, Neil filed for divorce in California. Young died of cancer on January 1, 2019, aged 66.
Most singer-songwriters don't wait a lifetime to release their debut album. But for Pegi Young, life kept getting in the way raising a son and a daughter, co-founding The Bridge School for special needs children like her son Ben and touring the world as a backup singer for husband Neil Young. Now, on a self-titled album filled with country-rockin' heartache tunes pondering the tug-of-war between love and independence, Pegi Young finally takes center stage. This has to be one of the most delayed debut albums in singer-songwriter history. Pegi Young wrote some of the original songs here more than thirty years ago, long before she married Neil Young. But one of the unexpected pleasures of Pegi Young (along with the sound of Neil playing electric sitar in "Love Like Water") is hearing Pegi revisit questions and impressions from her youth "Key to Love," "White Line in the Sun" in a voice etched with the deep-cut grain of adult experience. Pegi's recent songs, such as "Fake" and "Sometimes," are as simple and direct in their promises and worries as her husband's, and producer Elliot Mazer sets them in a pedal-steel sparkle that inevitably echoes Neil's Harvest.
JOHN ENTWISTLE - Thunderfingers: The Best Of (1996)
Thunderfingers: The Best of John Entwistle is a compilation album by John Entwistle, who was the bassist for The Who. The album was released in 1996 by Rhino Records John Entwistle's debut and final record to be released by that company.
When Allmusic rated the album they said: "As a solo artist separate from the Who, John Entwistle has never been more than a cult figure. His solo music rocks harder than Pete Townshend's, and, at least initially, what he lacked as a singer he more than makes up for in the sheer weirdness of his lyrics. This 18-song collection may make a few converts, showcasing the best songs from five albums cut between 1971 through 1981. The five songs off Smash Your Head Against the Wall are the best tracks here, while a surprising amount of the rest is Entwistle's retro-inspired parodies of vintage rock & roll, most notably "Roller Skate Kate" (a dark-humored parody of numerous late-'50s/early-'60s teen death songs) and "Mad Dog" (paying tribute to "My Boyfriend's Back"). "Drowning" has a few obvious remarks about songwriting, and "Fallen Angel" could easily be a statement by Entwistle about his own status as a rock star. "Too Late the Hero" makes a sufficiently somber coda, with some very dense electronic orchestrations and catchy choruses highlighting an eerie, bittersweet song about life's disappointments.
JIM CROCE - The Studio Album Collection (2015) [7 CD Box Set, Ltd. Edition]
In the music industry, arguably the worst tragedy that can befall an artist is to die in his or her prime, when just beginning to break through to the mainstream and reach people on a national or international level. One such artist was Jim Croce, a songwriter with a knack for both upbeat, catchy singles and empathetic, melancholy ballads. Though Croce only recorded a few studio albums before an untimely plane crash, he continues to be remembered posthumously. Croce appealed to fans as a common man, and it was not a gimmick -- he was a father and husband who went through a series of blue-collar jobs. And whether he used dry wit, gentle emotions, or sorrow, Croce sang with a rare form of honesty and power. Few artists have ever been able to pull off such down-to-earth storytelling as convincingly as he did.
Limited seven CD box set spanning the entire career of singer/songwriter Jim Croce and featuring all the studio recorded albums as well as a bonus disc of demo recordings. Croce's untimely death in an aeroplane crash (in September 1973, at just the age of 30 years old) came at a point in his career when he seemed set for a lengthy and rewarding career. This box is the first time all the studio albums have ever been brought together in a single package, from the self-released debut Facets, recorded and released for just $500 - a wedding gift from Jim's parents - to "I Got a Name," which was released posthumously after his death whilst on tour promoting the previous album. Discs Two and Three are collaborations with his wife Ingrid, and Discs Four, Five and Six were are recorded for and released by ABC Records. The final bonus disc of this set features demo recordings including those which when presented to ABC Records secured the deal for the albums. The booklet which is the eight piece in this set, includes the lyrics and comprehensive 5000 word note by Alan Robinson.
Dr. HOOK AND THE MEDICINE SHOW - ST (1971) + Sloppy Seconds (1972) + Belly Up! (1973) 
Dr. Hook (shortened from Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show in 1975) was an American blue-eyed soul, rock band, formed in Union City, New Jersey. They enjoyed considerable commercial success in the 1970s with hit singles including "Sylvia's Mother", "The Cover of 'Rolling Stone'" (both 1972), "Only Sixteen" (1975), "A Little Bit More" (1976), "Sharing the Night Together" (1978), "When You're in Love with a Beautiful Woman" (1979), "Better Love Next Time" (1979), and "Sexy Eyes" (1980). In addition to their own material, Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show performed songs written by the poet Shel Silverstein. The band had eight years of regular chart hits, in both the United States, where their music was played on top-40, easy listening, and country music outlets, and throughout the English-speaking world including the UK, Canada and South Africa. Their music spanned several genres, mostly novelty songs and acoustic ballads in their early years; their greatest success came with their later material, mostly consisting of disco-influenced soft rock, which the band recorded under the shortened name Dr. Hook.
2008 digitally remastered two CD set featuring the first three CBS albums from the Country rockers. The first 3 CBS albums released in early 70s from the country rockers. Their debut, Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show was released in 1971, followed by Sloppy Seconds in 1972, then Belly Up! in 1973. This double CD set features 'Sylvia's Mother', 'Freakin' At The Freaker's Ball', 'Queen Of The Silver Dollar', 'The Cover Of The Rolling Stone' and more.
Ray Sawyer (February 1, 1937 – December 31, 2018), the Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show member who sang the 1973 hit "The Cover of 'Rolling Stone,'" has died at the age of 81.
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