SPIDER - The Complete Anthology (2012)
This British boogie group was formed on Merseyside in 1976 by the Burrows brothers. The band comprised bassist/vocalist Brian Burrows, drummer Rob E. Burrows and guitarists Sniffa and Col Harkness. After incessant gigging around the north-west, they relocated to London and were eventually signed by RCA Records in 1983. They debuted with Rock 'N' Roll Gypsies, a fuel-injected collection of boogie-based rockers, identical in almost every respect to the style of Status Quo. From then on, they were regarded as a poor-man's Quo. The album sold miserably and RCA dropped them. Picked up by A&M Records, they released Rough Justice, a semi-concept affair concerning a courtroom trial. Spider were the defendants, being accused of playing heavy metal rock 'n' roll. Another flop, it left the band without a label once more. Undaunted they plodded on, with Stu Harwood replacing Sniffa on guitar in 1986. Moving to the Mausoleum label, they produced Raise The Banner the same year. Musically they had not progressed, and the market for low-tech, three-chord boogie proved an ever contracting one. Outdated, and out of luck, they broke up shortly after the album was released. Brian Burrows is now a cartoonist and record sleeve designer.
Early 80s boogie metal band produced some fine (some might say clichéd) tracks that really are well enjoyable and worth checking out. After a number of reissues and compilations of varied quality we now get the complete works. 4 CDs, all in quality card sleeves, in a box with a thick booklet, with photos and Dave Ling penned sleevenotes. The band’s debut Rock’n’Roll Gypsies kicks off with AWOL and also features the blistering Talkin’ ‘Bout Rock’n’Roll and the slightly chunkier Part Of The Legend. There’s also the more than decent Rock’n’Roll Will Forever Last. The album featured a couple of singles and the band toured the Gillan at the time. The boogie owes much to Status Quo, and there’s plenty of twin guitar shred and vocal harmonies. A little rough’n’ready but it’s full on heavy metal rock’n’roll. Second albumm Rough Justice is a little more polished, and a tad more varied too. Opener Death Row is solid, and The Minstrel has it’s gentler moments but features a keyboard and some quality guitar work. There’s still plenty of boogie, especially in the heads down You Make Me Offers I Can’t Refuse and Here We Go Rock’n’Roll. The blistering solos over the boogie do work well. The band’s final album was not given much of an official release at the time (1986) as the record company went into liquidation on the day of release. It’s a good album but the weakest of the three, it sounds very mid 80s, it’s not dated so well, but it’s good, and good to get an official release. All three albums come with bonus tracks (singles et al), and the fourth disc is entitled The Early Years, rounding up pre debut album singles and the like.
V.A. - Living Chicago Blues, Volume 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 (1978/80)
Every night in Chicago, the sounds of blues bands reverberate from narrow barrooms, basement taverns, and small, modest lounges throughout the city. At black neighborhood bars on the South and West Sides, decorated with Christmas tinsel, day-glo zodiac posters, handwritten signs on the walls; at the more publicized, fashionable nightspots on the North Side; or just at house parties out on the streets- the blues men and women of Chicago are singing, shouting, crying, laughing, celebrating. Songs of hard times, heartbreak, loneliness; songs to drive the blue feelings away, to rock the night and let the good times roll.
This is the living, continuing blues tradition of Chicago. Vibrant music with rich heritage of legendary names and classic songs from years gone by--but music not resigned to mere history. The blues still speaks to neighborhood crowds at clubs like Theresa’s, Florence’s, The Checkerboard, Pepper’s, Porter’s, Queen Bee’s and Morris Brown’s on the South Side, Eddie Shaw’s New 1815 Club, Ma Bea’s, The Majestic, The Golden Slipper, and The Poinciana on the West Side. And in recent years blues has drawn white audiences to popular North Side clubs: The Wise Fools Pub, Elsewhere, Kingston Mines, Biddy Milligan’s and others. The North Side clientele and décor differ, and the atmosphere is not so loose as in the black taverns. But, black or white, the blues clubs are much the same size and offer fine entertainment at similar prices. The small bands echo the sounds of the 1950s and ‘60s, but they’ve updated the music, too, with new patterns, new rhythms. In an era of pervasive rock, soul and disco trends, blues has thrived in the Chicago bars. On weekends, clubgoers can find live blues at 20 or 30 clubs. Hundreds of singers and instrumentalists appear in the blues joints every year, just as they have ever since the 1940s and ‘50s, when thousands of blacks were arriving in Chicago from Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, and Louisiana. Today, black Southern musicians no longer migrate to the city in such numbers, but a whole new generation of bluesmen has grown up in the urban streets. And on the North Side, young white performers from the suburbs, the East and Midwest have moved in to participate with the blues veterans, sharing bands as well as bandstands.
ROY WOOD - Boulders (1973) & Mustard (1975) [2006/07 Remasters]
Roy Wood is an English singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. He was particularly successful in the 1960s and 1970s as member and co-founder of the Move, Electric Light Orchestra and Wizzard. As a songwriter, he contributed a number of hits to the repertoire of these bands. Altogether he had more than 20 singles in the UK Singles Chart under various guises, including three UK No. 1 hits. The BBC has described Wood as being "responsible for some of the most memorable sounds of the Seventies" and "credited as playing a major role in the glam rock, psychedelic and prog rock movements". In 2008, Wood was awarded an honorary doctorate for his contribution to rock and pop by the University of Derby. In 2015, his long and eclectic career was recognised with the "Outer Limits" award at the Progressive Music Awards in London. Wood was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017 as a member of Electric Light Orchestra.
Boulders is the debut solo album by English musician Roy Wood, recorded from 1969 to 1971 and released in July 1973 by Harvest Records. Wood began work on the album as a whimsical side-project away from his band the Move, and conceived it to explore numerous instruments he had collected in the 1960s but felt unable to use in the Move. Nonetheless, its release was delayed for several years due to his busy schedule with the Move, Wizzard and the Electric Light Orchestra. Apart from harmonium on one song played by John Kurlander, all the instruments on the album, including guitars, cello, saxophones, bouzouki, banjo and recorders, were played by Wood, who also wrote, arranged, and produced the whole record, in addition to providing all the vocals. The musician also painted the unfinished self-portrait on the cover. The record is eclectic and eccentric in style, exploring numerous genres like classical music, art rock, folk, psychedelia, country and rock and roll, and exemplifies Wood's surreal humour, with songs exploring curious subjects.
Mustard is the second solo album by English musician Roy Wood, released in December 1975 by Jet Records. The album was recorded at De Lane Lea Studios and Phonogram Studios, although a dispute at one of the studios delayed the release of the album. Produced and entirely performed by Wood, who also designed the album artwork, Mustard was a departure from his previous solo album Boulders (1973), with a more ambitious approach and denser, more layered production, again mixing a number of musical styles. Annie Haslam and Phil Everly contributed guest vocals to the album, while Wood's influences on the record included the Andrew Sisters, the Beach Boys and Led Zeppelin. Upon release, the album was a commercial failure, failing to chart in the United Kingdom or United States, likewise the singles "Look Thru' the Eyes of the Fool" and "Any Old Time Will Do", reflecting Wood's declining popularity. However, contemporary reviews were generally positive, highlighting the album's ambitious sound.
SAGA - The First Four... (1978/81)
Over the course of a career that's spanned five decades, Saga have established themselves as one of Canada's most successful progressive rock bands, and have found a loyal, international audience for their ambitious music. Emerging in the late 1970s, the band broke big in 1981 with the release of their fourth full-length effort, World's Apart, which featured the hits "On the Loose" and "Wind Him Up." Despite enduring myriad lineup changes over the decades, Saga maintained a huge European fan base, specifically in Germany, and managed to release over 20 albums (and sell over eight million of them), before ceasing operations in 2018. Saga was formed in Oakville, Ontario by bassist and keyboard player Jim Crichton, and singer, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist Michael Sadler; Crichton had been a latter-day member of Toronto rockers Fludd and when he struck up a friendship with Sadler, they began writing songs. Crichton recruited fellow Fludd alumni Steve Negus (drums) and Peter Rochon (keyboards), as well as his brother, Ian Crichton (lead guitar), and the first lineup of Saga was complete, with the new band making their live debut in June 1977. From the outset, Saga was committed to playing original material their own way, and with close to 30 songs already in their repertoire, Saga went into the studio to record an album six months after their first show.
The self-financed project was picked up for release by the Canadian branch of Polygram Records, and Saga's self-titled debut was released in June 1978; the album also featured two songs in what would become known as "The Chapters," a non-sequential song cycle which formed a futuristic narrative spread out over several albums. The album sold well in Canada and did surprisingly well in Germany as an import item, and Polygram signed the band to an international deal. For Saga's second album, 1979's Images at Twilight (which spawned a minor hit single in Canada, "It's Time"), Greg Chadd replaced Peter Rochon, and on 1980's Silent Knight, Chadd was out and Jim Gilmour became the band's new keyboard player. Silent Knight sold well in Canada, and Saga's next effort, 1981's World's Apart, would be their international breakthrough; produced by Rupert Hine, the album featured a major hit single in "On the Loose" ("Wind Him Up" also reached the Top 40), and earned platinum sales awards in Canada and the United States; the tour that followed produced a live album, 1982's In Transit. 1983's Heads or Tales also sold well, if not as well as its predecessor, and featured another successful single, "The Flyer," while 1985's Behaviour included the hit "What Do I Know." However, Behaviour was Saga's last album with Hine as producer, and their next effort, 1987's Wildest Dreams, found Gilmour out of the band and Steve Negus replaced by session drummer Curt Cress. Gilmour and Negus formed the Gilmour-Negus Project, and Saga went on hiatus following 1989's The Beginner's Guide to Throwing Shapes, which was a commercial disappointment. In 1993, Saga returned with their classic lineup -- Sadler, the Crichton Brothers, Gilmour, and Negus -- for a new album, The Security of Illusion. The album marked a return to the more purely progressive style of Saga's early work, and while it didn't fare well on the Canadian or American sales charts, it sold well in Germany, Sweden, and Scandinavia, where the group had developed a passionate following, and from this point onward, Saga would focus most of their touring and promotional efforts on these markets as well as their native Canada.
In 1994, Saga wrote and recorded musical scores for a short-lived American television series, Cobra; this music would become the basis of the 1994 album Steel Umbrellas. 1995's Generation 13 was that prog rock staple, a concept album, and in 1997, as the band celebrated their 20th anniversary, they released two discs -- a new studio set, Pleasure and the Pain, and an archival release, Phase 1, which collected demo recordings of the songs from Images at Twilight. In 2001, the band scored an unexpected hit single in Canada with "Money Talks," an acoustic-flavored tune from the album House of Cards. In 2003, Steve Negus left Saga, and Christian Simpson became the band's new drummer, making his recorded debut on the 2004 album Network. Simpson only lasted two years with Saga, and in 2005, Brian Doerner, formerly of Helix, took over behind the drums. More surprising for many fans was the announcement by Michael Sadler that he would leave Saga at the end of 2007, citing the stress of traveling and a desire to spend more time with his family. Rob Moratti, ex-Final Frontier, was tapped to become Saga's new singer, and he appeared on their 2009 album The Human Condition. In 2011, Saga announced that Michael Sadler had rejoined the lineup, followed by major tours of Europe and Scandinavia. They released a live album from a Munich concert in 2013, and a full-length studio album, Sagacity, in 2014. In 2017 Sadler announced that the band would be calling it quits upon the conclusion of their Final Chapter farewell tour. A concert album and film, So Good So Far -- Live at Rock of Ages, was issued in September, 2018, followed by a pair of final performances in Montreal and Quebec City, later that December.
CREAM - 4 Albums [1966/69] (Mini LP Japan 2013-2014)
Cream were a British rock band formed in London in 1966. The group consisted of lead vocalist/bassist Jack Bruce, guitarist/vocalist Eric Clapton and drummer Ginger Baker. The group's third album, Wheels of Fire (1968), is the world's first platinum-selling double album. The band is widely regarded as the world's first successful supergroup. In their career, they sold more than 15 million records worldwide. Their music included songs based on traditional blues such as "Crossroads" and "Spoonful", and modern blues such as "Born Under a Bad Sign", as well as more current material such as "Strange Brew", "Tales of Brave Ulysses" and "Toad". The band's biggest hits were "I Feel Free" (UK number 11), "Sunshine of Your Love" (US number 5), "White Room" (US number 6), "Crossroads" (US number 28) and "Badge" (UK number 18).
The band made a significant impact on the popular music of the time, and, along with Jimi Hendrix and other notable guitarists and bands, popularised the use of the wah-wah pedal. They provided a heavy yet technically proficient musical theme that foreshadowed and influenced the emergence of British bands such as Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath in the late 1960s and the early 1970s. They also influenced American southern rock groups the Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd. The band's live performances influenced progressive rock acts such as Rush. Cream were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993. They were included in both Rolling Stone and VH1's lists of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time", at number 67 and 61 respectively. They were also ranked number 16 on VH1's "100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock".
BATDORF & RODNEY
John Batdorf and Mark Rodney were a soft rock duo of the early '70s who made three albums and reached the charts with two singles, "You Are a Song" and "Somewhere in the Night," in 1975, then split up, with Batdorf forming Silver in 1976.
The two began performing in the summer of 1970 in Las Vegas. They toured extensively with many of the most famous acts of the 1970s. Their tours included playing at Carnegie Hall. They issued three albums on three different labels between 1971 and 1975, logging two chart hits during their final year after signing with Arista Records. Their self-titled second album featured the track "Home Again," an FM radio staple that at 6:30 was perhaps too long to be a hit single. A track from their third album, "You Are a Song," written by Jim Weatherly, was released as a single and reached number 87 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 during the summer of 1975. It also reached #19 on the Canadian Adult Contemporary chart. Their other hit, a non-album single, was an early version of "Somewhere in the Night," which reached number 69 in December of that year. Issued concurrently with Helen Reddy's version, the song became a Top 40 hit for her in 1976 and a Top 10 hit for Barry Manilow in 1979. Another song, "All I Need," reached the Canadian Adult Contemporary chart in 1973, peaking at #79. Batdorf & Rodney disbanded in 1975. Remaining with Arista, Batdorf soon formed the group Silver then released "Wham Bam" in 1976, the most successful single of his career, which reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 2008, the duo reunited to record an album titled Still Burnin'.
AL KOOPER - The First Four (1968/71)
Al Kooper is an American songwriter, record producer and musician, known for organizing Blood, Sweat & Tears, although he did not stay with the group long enough to share its popularity. Throughout much of the 1960s and 1970s, he was a prolific studio musician, playing organ on the Bob Dylan song "Like a Rolling Stone", French horn and piano on the Rolling Stones song "You Can't Always Get What You Want", and lead guitar on Rita Coolidge's "The Lady's Not for Sale", among many other appearances. He also produced a number of one-off collaboration albums, such as the Super Session album that saw Kooper work separately with guitarists Mike Bloomfield and Stephen Stills. In the 1970s he was a successful manager and producer, notably recording Lynyrd Skynyrd's first three albums. He has also had a successful solo career, written music for film soundtracks, and has lectured in musical composition. He is currently retired.
I Stand Alone is the 1968 debut album of American singer-songwriter Al Kooper, issued on Columbia Records. It was recorded after his collaboration with Michael Bloomfield and Stephen Stills on the 1968 album Super Session. After ten years of session playing, collaborations and playing in other bands, Kooper released his first solo album. It is an eclectic mix of country, soul, blues, and rock with a dose of psychedelia mixed throughout. It is a continuation of Super Session in its mix of disparate covers from the likes of Bill Monroe, Harry Nilsson and Traffic, and with originals running the gamut of feelings. Unlike the Super Session album, however, the spotlight is on Kooper alone and Kooper's alternate utilization of orchestras and professional Nashville studio musicians; the tracks are far more focused, all within two and five minutes. "Camille" is lifted from "Overture to Le Domino Noire" by French composer Daniel Auber.
You Never Know Who Your Friends Are is the second solo album by American multi-instrumentalist Al Kooper, issued in 1969 on Columbia Records. Kooper wasted no time recording this album, coming just seven months after his debut release. It is a continuation of sorts of his debut; the album contains another eclectic mix of rock, rhythm and blues, jazz, pop, and blues, though without the psychedelics that had somewhat permeated through I Stand Alone. Utilizing a large group of musicians under the direction of Charlie Calello, known collectively as "The Al Kooper Big Band", Kooper also strayed away from the heavy string orchestrations of his debut. Relying on more original compositions, with nine of twelve tracks by Kooper, and the remaining three by Harry Nilsson and Motown Records staff songwriters, the album further helped to cement Kooper's reputation. The album reached #125 on the Billboard 200 on October 25, 1969, and was on the charts for six weeks.
Easy Does It is the third solo album by American singer-songwriter Al Kooper, recorded and released in 1970 for Columbia Records. A double album, Easy Does It featured Kooper on an expanded number of instruments, including sitar (used to effect on the country-tinged "Sad, Sad Sunshine"), vibes and electronic effects. While mostly backed by Bretheren rhythm section Stu Woods and Rick Marotta, Kooper also utilized groups in Nashville and Los Angeles to record the tracks for the album. Two tracks were also featured on the soundtrack to the 1970 counter-culture film, The Landlord, "Brand New Day" and "Love Theme from The Landlord".
New York City (You're a Woman) is the fourth album by American singer-songwriter Al Kooper for Columbia Records, recorded and released in 1971. The album was recorded with two separate groups, one in Los Angeles, California (which produced eight tracks) and the other in London, England (which produced three). It was inspired by the likes of Elton John (whose "Come Down in Time" is covered), The Beatles and Neil Young. Kooper trotted out a more subdued sound than on his previous albums, recorded without the horns and orchestrations. He kept to his normal format of original compositions interspersed with covers, including the traditional folk-song "500 Miles". Among the best-known tracks from the album is the title track, the only released portion of the presumably unfinished New York City: 6 A.M. to Midnight project.
MUNGO JERRY - The Dawn Album Collection (2017) & The Albums 1976-1981 (2018)
The Dawn Album Collection (2017): UK five CD box that rounds up all of Mungo Jerry's recordings for the Dawn label between 1970-74. Disc one is the debut Mungo Jerry album which hit #13 in the UK and #14 in Germany. Now comes with four bonus cuts including the rare Italian only 45 'Santo Antonio Santo Francisco'. The second CD contains the Electronically Tested album which hit #14 in the UK charts back in 1970 and includes the world-wide #1 'In The Summertime' which sold over 30 million singles. Also included is the UK #1 'Baby Jump' (Germany #11) whilst the #5 hit 'Lady Rose' is amongst the bonus tracks, as is the previously non-CD USA version of 'Have A Whiff On Me'. The UK #13 hit single 'You Don't Have To Be In The Army' is the lead track on the band's third album which now comes with four bonus tracks including three rare album session out-takes. Disc four is the legendary Boot Power album. The single versions of '46 And On' and 'Open Up' (UK #21, Germany #28) have been added as a bonus. The fifth disc is the Long Legged Woman album which was more a collection of non-LP singles and B-sides than a proper album. Includes the UK hits 'Long Legged Woman Dressed In Black' (#13) and 'Alright Alright Alright' (UK #3, Germany #12) as well as the German hit single 'Wild Love'. The booklet contains liner notes by Alan Clayson plus stacks of picture sleeves from around the globe to get the collectors updating their "wants" lists!
The Albums 1976-1981 (2018): UK five CD clam shell box set that concentrates on the years 1976-1981 in the long lasting and highly successful career of Mungo Jerry. Disc One features the Impala Saga album from 1976, now with six bonus cuts. Features the singles 'Hello Nadine' and 'Don't Let Go' plus two rare demos. The second disc is 1977's Lovin' In The Alleys Fightin' In The Streets LP, making it's debut on CD. Now with five bonus cuts and featuring the singles 'Sur Le Pont D'Avignon', 'All That A Woman Should Be' and 'Heavy Foot Stomp'. The self-titled Ray Dorset & Mungo Jerry from 1978 can be found on Disc Three, again making it's debut on CD. Two previously unreleased demos have been added to an album that features the singles 'Hello It's You Again', 'We're O. K. ' and 'Sugar Mama'. Disc Four is the Six A Side compilation from 1980 which at the time collected a whole batch of non LP singles and B-sides and put them on an album. Seven bonus tracks have been added including rare solo 45's by vocalist Ray Dorset. The final disc is 1981's mainland Europe only Together Again album. This featured the singles 'Stay With Me' and 'Rockin' On The Road' and has now been joined by six rare bonus cuts. The detailed booklet contains line notes by noted Rock historian Alan Clayson and is illustrated with numerous picture sleeves from across Europe of all the singles and albums from the time.
CHRISTONE 'Kingfish' INGRAM - Kingfish (2019) & 662 (2021)
A guitarist whose music is based in the blues but also reflects the influence of rock, R&B, and hip-hop, Christone "Kingfish" Ingram was just 20 years old when he released his first album and had already earned a reputation after being cited as a talent to watch by a number of respected rock and blues artists. Ingram had been performing in public since he was 11 and had already appeared on-stage with the likes of Buddy Guy, Robert Randolph, and the Tedeschi Trucks Band when he dropped Kingfish in 2019, where he showed off a full-bodied style that ran the gamut from the tough, rumbling attack of blues-rock to the gentle but potent touch of classic acoustic blues. Kingfish established Ingram as a force in modern blues and he consolidated its success with 662, the sophomore set he released in 2021. Christone Ingram was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi in 1999. A cousin of country star Charley Pride, he began playing the drums when he was six and picked up the bass when he was nine. He developed an interest in the blues when he saw a documentary on Muddy Waters with his father, and when he was 11, his parents bought him his first guitar and he soon enrolled in music classes at Clarksdale's Delta Blues Museum. Mississippi blues musicians Bill "Howl-N-Madd" Perry and Daddy Rich, who taught at the museum, saw potential in him, and Perry nicknamed the youngster "Kingfish" when they performed at a local venue called the Ground Zero Blues Club. In 2014, Ingram performed for Michelle Obama at the White House when a group of students from the Delta Blues Museum played in the capital. 2015 saw Ingram presented with the Rising Star Award by the Rhythm & Blues Foundation, and Tony Coleman, who played in B.B. King's road band, liked Ingram's music enough that he later arranged for the young guitarist to meet King at a festival in Mississippi.
Blues guitarist Eric Gales invited Ingram to perform on his 2017 album Middle of the Road, and blues legend Buddy Guy, funk icon Bootsy Collins, Nirvana and Foo Fighters member Dave Grohl, and hip-hop trailblazer Rakim were all singing Ingram's praises. The producers of the television series Luke Cage saw clips of Ingram performing online and cast him in a supporting role on the show, as well as using his interpretations of "The Thrill Is Gone" and "I Put a Spell on You" on the soundtrack. After completing high school, Ingram ramped up his touring schedule, and was regularly playing clubs and blues festivals in the United States, Europe, and the Netherlands. In 2018, he traveled to Nashville to begin work on his debut album with producer Tom Hambridge, who had previously worked with Buddy Guy, Susan Tedeschi, and George Thorogood. Featuring guest appearances by Buddy Guy and Keb' Mo', the album Kingfish was released by Alligator Records in May 2019.
It was nominated in the "Best Traditionalist Blues Album" category at the 62nd Grammys awards show and it won Album of the Year at the Blues Music Awards; it was one of five trophies Ingram took home that evening. Ingram returned with his second album 662 in the summer of 2021. Like Kingfish, 662 was produced by Tom Hambridge, and it featured a collection of songs largely co-written by Ingram.
PHIL KEAGGY - The First Four... (1973/78)
Phil Keaggy is an excellent all-around guitarist who has been a part of the CCM scene for over two decades. Born and raised in Ohio in a Catholic family of ten, Keaggy always loved music and spent hours listening to such singers as Johnny Ray and Elvis Presley. He began imitating the latter as young as age four. Keaggy was also exposed to other kinds of music and became well versed in classical. His first guitar was a late-'50s Gretsch Anniversary model; at age ten his father bought him a Sears Silvertone, and by the end of fifth grade, he was playing in front of his entire school. Three years later, Keaggy was playing professionally with the Squires. He and his longtime friend, drummer John Sferra, founded Glass Harp in the late '60s when he was in the eleventh grade. They soon became known as one of the most innovative power trios around, even though they were never together long enough to break through commercially. They had a contract with Decca, toured the country several times, and had a growing base of devoted fans, many of whom were knocked out by Keaggy's lightning-fast guitar riffs and experimental sounds. At their pinnacle, Glass Harp was opening for such major acts as Iron Butterfly, Yes, Traffic and Chicago.
It was a lot of fame to be heaped upon such young musicians, and it being the late '60s, Keaggy was exposed to and partook of his share of drugs. His life changed dramatically on February 14, 1970. While lying in a hotel room suffering from a bad LSD trip, his parents were involved in a head-on auto crash back in Ohio. His mother died soon afterward, and this spawned a crisis for Keaggy that led to his becoming a born-again Christian. In the early '70s, Keaggy took to testifying before bewildered Glass Harp listeners after their concerts. He left Glass Harp in 1972 and the following year recorded his first solo album, What a Day. He then spent many years working with a Christian fellowship and married. Since then, Keaggy has released well over thirty albums earning critical acclaim for both his virtuosity on guitar and his songwriting, which ranges from the Beatlesque pop of Sunday's Child to more subtle intrumentals. He occasionally gets back together with the other members of Glass Harp for reunion concerts and continues to release solo projects including Roundabout in 2006.
LUCIFER'S FRIEND - The First Four... (1970/74)
A German outfit fronted by a British singer, Lucifer's Friend first gained minor notoriety, and later major cult status, as both early practitioners of heavy metal and progressive rock. Formed in 1970 Hamburg, by former German Bonds members Peter Hesslein (guitar), Peter Hecht (keyboards), Dieter Horns (bass), and Joachim Rietenbach (drums), the group was initially dubbed Asterix and recorded an entire album's worth of material before connecting with singer John Lawton, whose then band, Stonewall, was playing a residency at the city's famed Top Ten Club. Lawton's vocals would grace Asterix's only, eponymous album later the same year, and all involved were excited enough by the results that they immediately began collaborating on more material with which to relaunch the band under the provocative new moniker of Lucifer's Friend. Released in 1970, the Lucifer's Friend album contained organ-intensive hard rock along the same lines as contemporary proto-metal bands like Deep Purple, Atomic Rooster, and, especially, Uriah Heep, for whom, coincidentally, Lawton would wind up singing several years down the line. But, for now, Lucifer's Friend's biggest challenge was a problematic aversion to touring, as well as a compositional restlessness that saw their sophomore effort, 1972's curiously named Where the Groupies Killed the Blues, morphing drastically to acquire progressive rock tendencies reminiscent of King Crimson and, to a lesser degree, the quickly emerging Krautrock acts of the period. These compositional experiments would only intensify on 1973's I'm Just a Rock 'n' Roll Singer, which added entire brass sections in the vein of Chicago Transit Authority, and 1974's Banquet (featuring new drummer Herbert Bornhold), which soared upon even jazzier elements and symphonic arrangements delivered with help from the James Last Orchestra. Lucifer's Friend would finally reign in such extravagance on 1976's Mind Exploding LP (where Bornhold was demoted to percussionist behind new drummer Curt Cress), and they even considered increasing their touring engagements, but their only problem now was that Lawton had quit - accepting the offer to join Uriah Heep that was mentioned earlier. Scotsman Mike Starrs (formerly singer for Colosseum II) was brought in to replace him and Lucifer's Friend proceeded to abruptly abandon their progressive past for good, embracing melodic mainstream rock on a pair of albums: 1978's Good Time Warrior and 1980's Sneak Me In (adding second keyboardist Adrian Askew). Then, John Lawton returned for a final, harder-rocking Lucifer's Friend album, 1981's Mean Machine, after which the group officially split up until 1994's one-off reunion LP, Sumo Grip. Interestingly, through all of these years and stylistic changes, it's ironically that original Lucifer's Friend album - more so than their more abundant prog rock releases - which has enjoyed the most frequent reissues, being considered a classic document of early heavy metal.
RUSS BALLARD - The First Four... (1974/80)
Russ Ballard is an English singer, songwriter and musician. Originally coming to prominence as the lead singer and guitarist for the band Argent, Ballard became known by the late 1970s as a songwriter and producer. His compositions "New York Groove", "You Can Do Magic", "Since You Been Gone", "I Surrender", "Liar", "Winning", "I Know There's Something Going On", "Can't Shake Loose", "So You Win Again" and "God Gave Rock and Roll to You" were hits for other artists during the 1970s and 1980s. He also scored several minor hits under his own name in the early and mid-1980s. Ballard was initially a guitarist, joining Buster Meikle & The Day Breakers in 1961 together with his older brother Roy and their friend the drummer Bob Henrit. After a stint with The Roulettes, backing Adam Faith, he then went on to join Unit 4 + 2 in 1967, before becoming the lead singer and guitarist of Argent (along with Henrit, who joined as drummer), writing their hit "God Gave Rock and Roll to You", which would later be covered by both Petra and KISS. Ballard is most well known as the vocalist on Argent's smash "Hold Your Head Up". In 1972, Ballard performed on Colin Blunstone's album Ennismore, which was produced by Chris White. Ballard also wrote the hit single "I Don't Believe in Miracles", which featured on that album.
As a solo artist, Ballard charted once on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, when "On the Rebound" reached No. 58 in 1980. English rock band Uriah Heep covered "On the Rebound" in 1982 on their album Abominog. In 1980, he released a solo album on Epic entitled Barnet Dogs. It reached no. 187 on the Billboard 200. Another notable solo hit, "Voices" – from his second self-titled album (1984) – was featured in the Miami Vice episode "Calderone's Return: Part 2 – Calderone's Demise", which aired on 26 October 1984. The song was a brief hit on rock radio stations, peaking at No. 15 on the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. However, "Voices" stalled below the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 110. Another song from the same album, "In the Night" was featured in the episode "Calderone's Return: Part 1 – The Hit List". The show also featured "Your Time Is Gonna Come" by Ballard later in its run. "The Fire Still Burns", the title track of his 1985 album matched the placement of the previous year's "Voices", peaking at No. 15 on the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.
AC/DC - High Voltage (Australian + International Version) [1975-1976]
As debut album titles go, AC/DC's High Voltage supplied a perfect encapsulation of the band's electrifying brand of rock & roll. So perfect, in fact, they actually used it twice: for their first album proper, the Australian-only version of High Voltage, released in February 1975; and for the better-known international debut from mid-1976, which was essentially a collection of highlights from the former and its late-1975 successor, TNT Ironically, the two versions of High Voltage had little else in common besides that title, including radically different cover art (the Aussie edition depicted a dog pissing on an electrical service box), and just two songs shared between them: the abnormally laconic "Little Lover" (a remnant of AC/DC's glam rock origins, believe it, or not!), and the anything but subtle "She's Got Balls," whose lyrics newly arrived singer Bon Scott penned, tongue-in-cheek, when his then-wife demanded he write a song for her. Of the album's remaining six tracks, at least four will sound familiar to the average, dedicated AC/DC fan, because they later surfaced on the Jailbreak '74 EP. They are the exceedingly bluesy "Show Business," the surprisingly infectious "You Ain't Got a Hold on Me," the mysteriously disconcerting "Soul Stripper," and the positively explosive cover of Big Joe Williams' "Baby Please Don't Go." So it's ultimately a pair of far more obscure songs that continue to draw AC/DC completists to the original edition like bees to honey: those being the rather uneventful but still perfectly kosher groove rocker "Stick Around," and the conversely shocking "Love Song" - a ballad featuring the band's one and only flirtation with keyboards and an almost unrecognizably soppy performance from Scott and co., which will surely sound like an outright travesty to most fans. But then, AC/DC were a very young band who were still coming into their own at the time, and that process of self-discovery is what makes the original version of High Voltage both the most inconsistent and unique of all the Bon Scott albums. Fans may also be interested to learn that Malcolm Young played his only known lead breaks for AC/DC on this release, trading solos with Angus on "Soul Stripper" before taking full charge of "Show Business"; and that bass guitar and drum duties were handled by elder brother George Young and one Tony Kerrante, respectively - not the yet-to-arrive Mark Evans / Phil Rudd rhythm section.
TONY BANKS - The First 3... (1979/91)
Genesis keyboardist Tony Banks has made several stabs at a solo career since 1978, writing and recording in various styles and occasionally under different group names. However, none of his attempts have been very commercially successful, a sore point for the man many deem responsible for a large portion of the Genesis sound. For many observers, Banks is one of the more undeservedly underrated keyboard players in progressive rock, while flashier figures such as Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman, with their extroverted personalities, long ago gathered the press coverage needed to earn the admiration of starstruck listeners from the '70s (and enjoy instant name recognition decades years later), Banks' work was so subsumed by Genesis for so long that he never quite achieved the profile of his slightly older rivals, despite playing an essential role in shaping the sound of his group, which, along with Yes, was one of the two most successful prog rock bands of the '70s.
A Curious Feeling is the début solo album from Genesis keyboardist Tony Banks. It was recorded at ABBA's Polar Music Studios during a brief Genesis hiatus and released in 1979 on Charisma Records. It is one of only two of Banks' solo albums to have entered the UK Albums Chart, reaching 21 and staying on the chart for five weeks. The album is a loose adaptation of the 1966 Daniel Keyes novel Flowers for Algernon. Its cover was designed by Hothouse and contains Wuluwait - Boatman of the Dead by Australian artist Ainslie Roberts. It was digitally remastered in 2009.
As it comes from Tony Banks, known for his complex and dense keyboard work with Genesis, the sparse instrumentation on The Fugitive is quite a surprise. Even the instrumental "Thirty Three's" is given a light touch. Moreover, The Fugitive is far more rhythmically centered than previous Banks material and contains very little of the difficult wordplay often associated with the composer. Part of the reason for the change in direction was that Banks was writing songs to be sung by himself. While it can't be said that Banks has a great voice, it is certainly an interesting one, and works far better with his music than many of the other more bombastic vocalists he has recorded with as a solo artist. Although not successful as singles, the reggae-like "This Is Love" and the rockier "And the Wheels Keep on Turning" are stronger than most early-'80s pop material. "By You," another highlight of the record, also shows some reggae influences and finds Banks in an uncharacteristically romantic mood. While some parts of the album, such as the Atari-like rhythm track to "Charm," have not aged well, overall this might be Banks' most consistent offering.
Still is the third solo studio album by English keyboardist and songwriter Tony Banks, released in 1991 on Virgin Records in the UK and Giant Records in the U.S. The album was originally going to be named after the track Still It Takes Me by Surprise, but was later shortened to Still. Despite a fairly heavy promotional effort by Giant Records, the album failed to sell well.
PETER GABRIEL - Peter Gabriel 1, 2, 3 & 4 (1977/82)
As the leader of Genesis in the early '70s, Peter Gabriel helped move progressive rock to new levels of theatricality. He was no less ambitious as a solo artist, but he was more subtle in his methods. With his eponymous debut solo album in 1977, he explored dark, cerebral territory, incorporating avant-garde, electronic, and worldbeat influences into his music. Released on 25 February 1977, it was produced by Bob Ezrin. Gabriel and Ezrin assembled musicians, including guitarist Robert Fripp, and his future King Crimson bandmate Tony Levin on bass. On the album's release, Gabriel began touring with a seven-piece band under his own name. The album went to No. 7 in UK and No. 38 in the US. This album is often called either Peter Gabriel I or Car, referring to the album cover by London artist Peter Christopherson. Music streaming services currently refer to it as Peter Gabriel 1: Car. Gabriel's first solo success came with the album's lead single "Solsbury Hill", which Gabriel has said is about "being prepared to lose what you have for what you might get ... It's about letting go."
Peter Gabriel (known as Peter Gabriel 2 and Scratch) is the second solo album by English singer-songwriter Peter Gabriel, released in 1978. The album is the second of four with the same title. It was produced by guitarist Robert Fripp. The album did not sell as well as the first Peter Gabriel, but reached No. 10 in the UK. In the US, the album was titled Peter Gabriel II. The album is also often referred to as Scratch, referring to the album cover by Hipgnosis. The influence of producer Robert Fripp is evident in the use of "Frippertronics" on the track "Exposure".
Peter Gabriel (known as Peter Gabriel 3 and Melt) is the third eponymous solo studio album by English rock musician Peter Gabriel, released on 30 May 1980 by Charisma Records. The album has been acclaimed as Gabriel's artistic breakthrough as a solo artist and for establishing him as one of rock's most ambitious and innovative musicians. Gabriel also explored more overtly political material with two of his most famous singles, the anti-war song "Games Without Frontiers" (which became a No. 4 hit and remains his joint highest-charting single in the UK) and the anti-apartheid protest song "Biko", which remembered the murdered activist Steve Biko. The album was remastered, along with most of Gabriel's catalogue, in 2002. In the U.S., the album was titled Peter Gabriel III. The album is also often referred to as Melt owing to its cover photograph by Hipgnosis.
Security - which was titled Peter Gabriel everywhere outside of the U.S. - continues where the third Gabriel album left off, sharing some of the same dense production and sense of cohesion, yet lightening the atmosphere and expanding the sonic palette somewhat. The gloom that permeates the third album has been alleviated and while this is still decidedly somber and serious music, it has a brighter feel, partially derived from Gabriel's dabbling in African and Latin rhythms. These are generally used as tonal coloring, enhancing the synthesizers that form the basic musical bed of the record, since much of this is mood music (for want of a better word). Security flows easily and enticingly, with certain songs - the eerie "San Jacinto," "I Have the Touch," "Shock the Monkey" - arising from the wash of sound. That's not to say that the rest of the album is bland easy listening - it's designed this way, to have certain songs deliver greater impact than the rest. As such, it demands close attention to appreciate tone poems like "The Family and the Fishing Net," "Lay Your Hands on Me," and "Wallflower" - and not all of them reward such intensive listening. Even with its faults, Security remains a powerful listen, one of the better records in Gabriel's catalog, proving that he is becoming a master of tone, style, and substance, and how each part of the record enhances the other.
APRIL WINE - The First 4... (1971/75)
April Wine first came together in 1969 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, when Myles Goodwyn, a singer who played guitar and keyboards, and his neighbor, bassist Jim Henman, decided to form a band with Henman’s cousins, drummer Ritchie Henman and guitarist David Henman. All of the musicians had been members of other local rock bands and took their new name from a rock opera that David Henman had written about a young woman named April. The second part of the band’s name was added to make it romantic, yet ambiguous enough that the group would not be pigeonholed as just another rock group. April Wine’s first rehearsals took place in Halifax in December of 1969 but the band moved to Montreal, Quebec, in early 1970. Among its first tasks was writing and recording music for the play The Lion in Winter. Shortly afterwards the group recorded its first single, “Fast Train,” which received radio airplay across Canada.
The group’s self-titled debut album was released in late 1971 on Aquarius Records. Jim Henman, who sang most of the lead vocals, decided to go back to college during the recording session; he was replaced by Jim Clench on bass. Myles Goodwyn stepped in to take lead vocals on the group’s second album, On Record, in 1972. The album featured the number-one Canadian hit “You Could Have Been a Lady,” a cover tune of a song initially performed by Hot Chocolate. The track also entered the American charts, where it hit the lower reaches of the top 40. Despite the band’s initial success, tensions between its members were growing. After a split pitted Goodwyn and Clench on one side and the Henman brothers on the other, the Henmans left the group in 1973. Jerry Mercer, a veteran of numerous other rock bands, joined April Wine as its drummer. Other musicians would briefly join the group over the next decade, but with the addition of Brian Greenway on guitars and vocals in 1977, the steady lineup of Clench, Goodwyn, Greenway, and Mercer formed the heart of April Wine.
After the Henmans left, April Wine released the harderedged Electric Jewels in 1973. The group promoted the album on its first national tour in 1974, making a successful transition from a bar band into a bona fide arena attraction. The band’s 1975 album Stand Back was another success; April Wine received the first of its eight Juno Awards, given by the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, in that same year. The group added the Juno Award for Best-Selling Album in 1976 when Whole World’s Goin’ Crazy sold over a million copies in Canada, an unprecedented feat at that time. The band’s 1976 national tour also set a new record when it took in over one million dollars in ticket sales. In 1977 April Wine opened two unannounced shows by the Rolling Stones at Toronto’s El Mocambo Club, where the legendary British group planned to record a live album. The appearances made headlines across North America after Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards was arrested for heroin possession and rumors were printed of an affair between singer Mick Jagger and Margaret Trudeau, the wife of Canada’s Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. The publicity helped launch April Wine in the United States when the band opened for the Rolling Stones on its 1977 American tour. After releasing two live albums, Live at the El Mocambo and Unreleased Live, April Wine recorded First Glance in 1979. A single from the album, “Roller,” won a Juno Award as Best-Selling Single in Canada and became the group’s second top-40 hit in the United States. Having won the Juno Award as Canada’s Group of the Year from 1975-78, April Wine repeated the feat every year from 1980-83.
NANCI GRIFFITH - There's A Light Beyond These Woods (1978) & Poet In My Window (1982)
Nanci Griffith, singer who blended Folk and Country, dies at 68. Her best-loved songs were closely observed tales of small-town life, sometimes with painful details in the lyrics, but typically sung with a deceptive prettiness.
Nanci Griffith (1953 - 2021) was an American singer, guitarist, and songwriter, raised in Austin, Texas, who lived in Nashville, Tennessee. Griffith appeared many times on the PBS music program Austin City Limits starting in 1985 (season 10). In 1990, Griffith appeared on the Channel 4 programme Town & Country with John Prine, where she performed at The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, along with Buddy Mondlock, Robert Earl Keen, and Barry "Byrd" Burton. Straddling the fine line between folk and country music, Nanci Griffith has become as well-known for her brilliant, confessional songwriting as her beautiful voice. A self-styled "folkabilly" singer, Griffith began as a kindergarten teacher and occasional folksinger. The country scene took her to heart in the mid-'80s, giving her a reputation as a quality songwriter through hit covers of Griffith's songs by Kathy Mattea and Suzy Bogguss. Finding no luck with commercial country radio however, Griffith recorded several pop-oriented albums and then returned to her folk roots by the mid-'90s.
There's a Light Beyond These Woods is singer-songwriter Nanci Griffith's debut album. It was recorded live to two-track over four days, December 9 to 11, 1977 and January 3, 1978, in Austin, Texas. Griffith wrote most of its songs, as she would on almost all of her subsequent albums.The album cover features a photograph of Griffith taken in the autumn of 1978, tinted by Frank Golden, as well as lettering by Eric Taylor. The cover was designed by Pat Alger and Griffith's father, Marlin Griffith.
Poet in My Window is the second album by the singer-songwriter Nanci Griffith, released in 1982. A reissue of the album included a bonus track, "Can't Love Wrong", in the unusual position as the album's lead-off track, preceding all of the original tracks. Griffith wrote all but one of the album's tunes. Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr., for AllMusic, wrote that "While Poet in My Window is only a small step up from Nanci Griffith's debut, the album finds her inching toward the mature art of Once in a Very Blue Moon."
CANNED HEAT [Harvey Mandel Albums]
The final Canned Heat album to feature co-founder Alan Wilson, Future Blues was also one of their best, surprisingly restrained as a studio creation by the band, the whole thing clocking in at under 36 minutes, as long as some single jams on their live discs. It was the last to feature the band's classic lineup, as Larry Taylor and Harvey Mandel had both departed by July 1970, prior to its release to record with John Mayall and songwriter Alan Wilson died shortly after on September 3, 1970. It was also one of their most stylistically diverse efforts. Most of what's here is very concise and accessible, even the one group-composed jam - Alan Wilson's "Shake It and Break It" and his prophetically titled "My Time Ain't Long" (he would be dead the year this record was issued), which also sounds a lot like a follow-up to "Going up the Country" until its final, very heavy, and up-close guitar coda. Other songs are a little self-consciously heavy, especially their version of Arthur Crudup's "That's All Right, Mama." Dr. John appears, playing piano on the dark, ominous "London Blues," and arranges the horns on "Skat," which tries for a completely different kind of sound - late-'40s-style jump blues - than that for which the group was usually known. And the band also turns in a powerhouse heavy guitar version of Wilbert Harrison's "Let's Work Together."
Historical Figures and Ancient Heads is the eighth album by Canned Heat, released in 1971. It was the first album not to feature original member and songwriter Alan Wilson who had died the previous year, and their bassist Larry Taylor, who had left to join John Mayall's band. Featuring new guitarman Joel Scott Hill and Little Richard on "Rockin’ With the King". The record also includes Tony de la Barreda on bass, who left with Hill after this album and subsequent tour.
Canned Heat lived on the wild side while enjoying immense popularity, primarily during the early to late '70s. This production marks vocalist Bob "The Bear" Hite's last complete recording with the band due to his passing on April 5, 1981. Recorded in 1977 and released in 1978, this set features guest appearances by blues-rock guitarist Harvey Mandel and backing vocals by the Chambers Brothers on selected tracks. Essentially, this affair features a fairly typical exposition of what many listeners would come to expect, as the group works its way through a series of high-octane blues, rock, and boogie motifs. Hite was in good form throughout while also displaying potent chops as a viable blues harpist whereas guitarists Mark Skyer, Chris Morgan, and Mandel implement raucous crunch chords amid some scathing lead lines. Hence, this effort represents a hearty snapshot of the quintet's overall appeal. There are some memorable tracks here, although this offering didn't garner widespread recognition upon its initial release.
CANNED HEAT - The First 4... (1967/69)
Canned Heat is an American blues and rock band that was formed in Los Angeles in 1965. The group has been noted for its efforts to promote interest in blues music and its original artists. It was launched by two blues enthusiasts Alan Wilson and Bob Hite, who took the name from Tommy Johnson's 1928 "Canned Heat Blues", a song about an alcoholic who had desperately turned to drinking Sterno, ally called "canned heat", from the original 1914 product name Sterno Canned Heat. After appearances at the Monterey and Woodstock festivals at the end of the 1960s, the band acquired worldwide fame with a lineup consisting of Hite (vocals), Wilson (guitar, harmonica and vocals), Henry Vestine and later Harvey Mandel (lead guitar), Larry Taylor (bass), and Adolfo de la Parra (drums). The music and attitude of Canned Heat attracted a large following and established the band as one of the popular acts of the hippie era. Canned Heat appeared at most major musical events at the end of the 1960s, performing blues standards along with their own material and occasionally indulging in lengthy 'psychedelic' solos. Two of their songs - "Going Up the Country" and "On the Road Again" - became international hits. "Going Up the Country" was a remake of the Henry Thomas song "Bull Doze Blues", recorded in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1927. "On the Road Again" was a remake of the 1953 Floyd Jones song of the same name, which is reportedly based on the Tommy Johnson song "Big Road Blues", recorded in 1928. Since the early 1970s, numerous personnel changes have occurred. For much of the 1990s and 2000s and following Larry Taylor's death in 2019, de la Parra has been the only member from the band's 1960s lineup. He wrote a book about the band's career, titled Living the Blues. Mandel, Walter Trout and Junior Watson are among the guitarists who gained fame for playing in later editions of the band.
Canned Heat is the 1967 debut album by Canned Heat. It was released shortly after their appearance at the Monterey Pop Festival, and is a blues cover album.
Boogie with Canned Heat is the second album by Canned Heat. Released in 1968, it contains mostly original material, unlike their debut album. It was the band's most commercially successful album, reaching number 16 in the US and number 5 in the UK. Boogie with Canned Heat includes the top 10 hit "On the Road Again", one of their best-known songs. "Amphetamine Annie", a warning about the dangers of amphetamine abuse, also received considerable airplay.
Livin' the Blues is the third album by Canned Heat, a double album released in late 1968. It was one of the first double albums to place well on album charts. It features Canned Heat's signature song, "Going Up the Country", which would later be used in the Woodstock film. John Mayall appears on piano on "Walking by Myself" and "Bear Wires". Dr. John appears on "Boogie Music". The 20-minute trippy suite "Parthenogenesis" is dwarfed by the album-length "Refried Boogie", recorded live.
Hallelujah is the fourth album by Canned Heat, released in 1969. It was re-released on CD in 2001 by MAM productions with four bonus tracks. It was the last album to feature classic lineup Mark 1, as Vestine left the band prior to Future Blues.
RACING CARS - The Albums 1976-1978 (2021)
Formed in the Rhondda Valley, South Wales in 1975, Racing Cars comprised Graham Headley Williams (guitar), Gareth ‘Monty’ Mortimer (vocals/guitar), Ray ‘Alice’ Ennis (guitar), David Land (bass) and Robert Wilding (drums). Released by Chrysalis Records, their albums also included bit-parts for session pianist Geraint Watkins, American saxophonist Jerry Jumonville, the Bowles Brothers Band (on vocal harmonies).
Four CD set covering all of Welsh Rock band Racing Cars recordings for Chrysalis Records between 1976-78. Disc One is debut LP Downtown Tonight which spent six weeks in the UK National Charts, peaking at #39. This features the singles 'Ladee-Lo' plus the international chart hit "They Shoot Horses Don't They?" which reached #14 in the UK and #32 in Australia. Now comes with the addition of a previously unissued four track session recorded for the John Peel show in 1976. The second disc is 1977's Weekend Rendezvous LP which makes it's debut on CD. Features the single 'Down By The River' and now comes with the bonus of a previously unissued four track session recorded for the John Peel show in 1977. Disc Three is 1978's Bring On The Night LP, also appearing here on CD for the very first time. Includes the 'Bring On The Night' 45. The final disc contains two full In Concerts recorded for the BBC in 1977. The booklet contains detailed liner notes by History Of Rock editor Michael Heatley featuring a new interview with guitarist Graham Hedley Williams alongside numerous rare European picture sleeves and memorabilia from the era.
ALLAN HOLDSWORTH - The First 4... (1976/86)
Guitarist Allan Holdsworth was widely considered one of the finest instrumentalists in all of jazz fusion, yet never truly received the recognition that he so rightfully deserved. Born on August 6, 1946, in Bradford, Yorkshire, Holdsworth was originally taught music by his father, who was a pianist. He didn't pick up the guitar until he was 17 years old, but learned the instrument quickly. After playing in local outfits (and learning the violin), Holdsworth relocated to London, where he was taken under the wing of saxophonist Ray Warleigh. By 1972, Holdsworth had joined progressive rockers Tempest, appearing on the group's self-titled debut a year later before joining Soft Machine in December 1973 -- and radically changing the latter outfit's sound to guitar-based fusion in the process. U.S. drummer Tony Williams discovered Holdsworth around this time, which led to an invite for the up-and-coming guitarist to replace John McLaughlin in Williams' Lifetime project -- Holdsworth abruptly left Soft Machine in March of 1975, subsequently appearing on the Williams recordings Believe It and Million Dollar Legs. But Holdsworth's union with Williams was a brief one, as the guitarist joined up with French-English prog rockers Gong for such albums as 1976's Gazeuse! (released as Expresso in the U.S.) and 1978's Expresso II, in addition to appearing on recordings by Jean-Luc Ponty, Bill Bruford, Gordon Beck, Jack Bruce, and UK.
Also in the late '70s, Holdsworth launched a solo career, which over the years has seen the release of nearly 20 albums (a few standouts include 1983's Road Games, 1985's Metal Fatigue, 1994's Hard Hat Area, and 2000's The Sixteen Men of Tain), as the guitarist was joined by such acclaimed musicians as Paul Williams (a former bandmate of Holdsworth's in Tempest), Gary Husband, Chad Wackerman, Jimmy Johnson, Steve Hunt, and Alan Pasqua, among others. In the mid-'80s, Holdsworth was one of the first musicians to use a SynthAxe, a guitar that contained a breath controller that proved to be a cross between a synthesizer, guitar, and saxophone (Holdsworth was awarded Best Guitar Synthesist from 1989 through 1994 in the readers' poll of Guitar Player magazine). In the '90s, Holdsworth also created his own signature guitar model with the Carvin company. In the mid-'90s, Holdsworth briefly shifted away from his fusion originals and recorded an album with longtime musical partner Gordon Beck that dipped into jazz standards. The Sixteen Men of Tain (2000) marked another shift, in that it was the first Holdsworth release to feature an all-acoustic rhythm section. This was followed in 2002 by All Night Wrong, his first official live release. Then! Live in Tokyo was next, featuring Holdsworth's 1990 live band, which was followed by Against the Clock, a career retrospective, in 2005.
Over the next several years the guitarist appeared on a series of collaborative recordings: Conversation Piece, Pts. 1-2 with Beck, Jeff Clyne, and John Stevens (Belle Antique, 2008); Propensity with Danny Thompson and Stevens (Art of Time Recordings, 2009); and Blues for Tony with Alan Pasqua, Chad Wackerman, and Jimmy Haslip (MoonJune, 2009). While continuing to tour and play live, Holdsworth undertook a PledgeMusic campaign in 2015 to issue the rarities collection Tales from the Vault; it appeared digitally a year later. It was followed on April 7, 2017 by a double-disc retrospective entitled Eidolon and the massive 12-disc box set The Man Who Changed Guitar Forever! (a title that Holdsworth -- not one to boast about his talents -- reportedly disliked), which collected all of his solo albums plus bonus material. Only eight days later, Holdsworth passed away on April 15 at the age of 70.
PHANTOMS DIVINE COMEDY - Phantom's Divine Comedy, Part 1 (1974)
How do you rate an album like this? On originality, it gets about a zero, but as a hint at what another Doors album could have sounded like, it gets a nine out of nine -- "Tales From a Wizard" aping the group at its most pretentious, and "Devil's Child" as a parody of numbers like "Love Me Two Times." Other titles, like "Spiders Will Dance (On Your Face While You Sleep)" (which opens up seemingly bent on parodying "Alabama Song") and "Stand Beside My Fire" are equally self-explanatory. Actually, it's hard to imagine Morrison, Manzarek, Krieger, and Densmore coming out with something quite this unimaginative - they always added something new to each album - unless they were producing themselves and Morrison was really wasted. But the album is a good imitation of what the Doors' music sounded like if you weren't listening too closely to it on the radio. At the time, it fulfilled a need for some listeners, and it was an early indicator of just how large Jim Morrison loomed in the back of some listeners' consciousnesses, long before Oliver Stone ever got near a movie camera. The sound is decent but unexceptional, not that this is a big consideration on this sort of album. There never was a Part 2, incidentally, or at least not one that saw the light of day, but this record did point the way toward careers for Doors tribute bands like Crystal Ship, L.A. Woman, and Soft Parade.
Who is Phantom's Divine Comedy? The Phantom was the late Arthur Pendragon (a.k.a. Ted Pearson), who wrote all the songs on ‘Phantom’s Divine Comedy – Part 1‘ and provided vocals and piano to them. The rest of the band was James Rolland (drums), Harold Breadly (bass), and Russ Klatt (keyboards), and the album was recorded and produced by Gary Gawinek, in the band’s home state of Michigan. Not a lot else exists or is readily available about what eventually became of the band and its members, other than a confirmation that Pendragon / Pearson had passed away, since he was thought to be the resurrected Jim Morrison. Unfortunately, very few photos of Arthur Pendragon exist, yet ironically, one that does, and is known to be him, was taken backstage at a performance with The Doors’ keyboardist Ray Manzarek and Iggy Pop.
THE SHADOWS - The Best Of The Shadows (2012)
The Shadows, London-based instrumental rock group whose distinctive sound exerted a strong influence on other young British musicians in the 1960s and beyond. The original members were lead guitarist Hank B. Marvin, rhythm guitarist Bruce Welch, bassist Jet Harris and drummer Tony Meehan. Later members included drummer Brian Bennett and bassist John Rostill. Formed in 1958 as the Drifters, the foursome became the backing group for Cliff Richard, the British answer to Elvis Presley. A name change to avoid conflict with the American vocal group the Drifters prefaced the release of the first of the Shadows’ singles. The group’s trademark was the smooth twangy sound produced by lead guitarist Marvin’s lavish use of the tremolo arm of his Fender Stratocaster, an effect that could be made to sound either lyrical or sinister. As the primitive charm of the skiffle era faded, the Shadows showed a generation of embryonic British rockers what to do. Thousands learned to play guitar by imitating the Shadows’ hits, which included “Apache,” “F.B.I.,” and “Wonderful Land”; many went on to buy their own Stratocasters as the British “beat boom” took off. The era of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones made the Shadows’ music obsolete, and the group officially disbanded in 1968. The Shadows reunited in 1973 and released the albums Rockin’ with Curly Leads (1974) and Specs Appeal (1975), both of which featured an updated sound that included, for the first time, vocals. The Shadows rode a wave of popularity that lasted well into the 1980s. The band faded from the scene once again, until 2004, when the Shadows embarked on what was billed as a farewell concert tour. Another final tour took place in 2009–10, and a 50th-anniversary album, Reunited, appeared in 2009. Bennett and Welch were named Members of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2004; Marvin declined the honour.
THE ASSOCIATION - Original Album Series (2016)
While there are plenty of amazing moments on the Association's albums that never came anywhere near a single, the group was first and foremost a singles-oriented act, just as L.A. sunshine pop contemporaries like the Beach Boys (Pet Sounds notwithstanding) and the Mamas & the Papas were. That's part of what makes this anthology such an effective encapsulation of the group's gestalt. The last major Association anthology, Rhino's 2002 double-disc release Just the Right Sound, took a more expansive approach to organizing its retrospective. But by presenting the A- and B-sides of each Association single from 1965's Bob Dylan cover "One Too Many Mornings" to 1971's "That's Racin'" in chronological order, the Now Sounds collection allows listeners to experience the group's evolution in exactly the same way a fan of 45s would have done during the Association's heyday. And while assembled A-sides like "Along Comes Mary," "Cherish," "Windy," and "Never My Love" lend this two-CD offering a definitive greatest-hits aspect, the B-sides are often non-LP cuts, adding some serious heft to the archival side of the project.
Stylistically speaking, it's fascinating to hear the growth the Association experienced over the course of just a few years. While the succulent vocal harmonies remained a signature throughout the group's career, the arrangements and songwriting underwent some major changes. The band began in a folk-rock mode with tracks like the aforementioned Dylan tune before settling into a lush, heavenly pop paradise all their own on circa 1968 masterpieces like "Everything That Touches You." At the same time, the fuzzed-out guitar lines of another 1968 single, "Six Man Band," showed the Association to be entirely comfortable with psychedelia. By 1969, the hits pretty much stopped coming, but the group didn't hit the pause button on its evolutionary process. 1970 B-sides "I Am Up for Europe" and "Look at Me, Look at You" show that the Association was capable of convincingly shifting toward heavy, blues-based rock and country-rock, respectively, while it's easy to envision "It's Gotta Be Real" hitting the early-‘70s R&B charts if only it had come from an act with a bit less of a squeaky-clean straight pop image. If you let it, The Complete Warner Bros. & Valiant Singles can simultaneously underline the Association's commercial peak and deepen your understanding of the group's true musical personality.
BLACKFOOT - The First 4... (1975/80)
Blackfoot were contemporaries of Lynyrd Skynyrd, and tried for years to make it as a Southern rock band, although they finally succeeded as a hard rock outfit, in the manner of AC/DC and the Scorpions. They racked up a hit album (Strikes) and a pair of successful singles ("Train, Train," "Highway Song") in the late '70s and early '80s, before they became lost in the post-MTV era of visually oriented bands. The group started out as a quartet comprising singer/guitarist Rickey Medlocke (the grandson of bluegrass musician Shorty Medlocke, who wrote "Train, Train"), drummer/singer Jakson Spires, bassist/singer Greg T. Walker, and lead guitarist Charlie Hargrett. Named Blackfoot as an acknowledgment of Medlocke's heritage, they were signed to Island in 1975, evidently as that label's resident Southern rockers, but moved to Epic the following year. Neither relationship was successful, but in 1979, after moving to Atco, their first album for the new label, Strikes, hit a responsive chord - the group spent the next few years on that label, racking up impressive sales with the follow-ups Tomcattin' and Marauder.
In the mid-'80s, Blackfoot added ex-Uriah Heep keyboardist Ken Hensley in order to bring a new side to their sound. Their fortunes declined amid the advent of MTV and the growth in importance of rock video promotional clips, as well as the influence of sounds from Europe and Australia, and they never recovered, despite efforts to adapt their sound and image. Hensley was replaced, and a new lineup recorded Rick Medlocke & Blackfoot (1987). Only two albums, Medicine Man (1990) and After the Reign (1994), were released during the first half of the 1990s. Committed to his duties in Lynyrd Skynyrd, Medlocke put Blackfoot on ice in 1997. The following decade and into the 2010s, the band was active as a performing act featuring original members but not Medlocke. Blackfoot released a handful of live sets, including On the Run (2004) and Fly Away (2011). In 2012, Medlocke - still part of Lynyrd Skynyrd - chose four new musicians to represent Blackfoot and acted as the band's producer.
WILSON PICKETT - The Complete Atlantic Albums Collection (2017)
10 CD Clamshell box with replica LP Sleeves. Wilson Pickett was a pioneer of American R&B and soul music. After signing with Atlantic Records in 1964, the Alabama-born singer/songwriter went on to record unforgettable hits like Mustang Sally, Land of 1000 Dances and his signature track, In The Midnight Hour. Wilson Pickett’s extraordinary legacy is being celebrated with a new boxed set that brings together all 10 of the studio albums the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer recorded with Atlantic Records between 1965 and 1971.
The new collection features 10 classic studio albums: In the Midnight Hour (1965), The Exciting Wilson Pickett (1966), The Wicked Pickett (1967), The Sound of Wilson Pickett (1967), I’m In Love (1968), The Midnight Mover (1968), Hey Jude (1969), Right On (1970), Wilson Pickett in Philadelphia (1970), and Don’t Knock My Love (1971). Each one is presented in a sleeve that replicates the original release’s artwork. All the discs are presented in a handsome clamshell box.
GRAVY TRAIN - Discography 1970/74
Typifying the excesses that have frequently been denounced in their genre, UK progressive rock band Gravy Train recorded a series of albums for Vertigo Records and Dawn Records in the early 70s bedecked in grandiose, conceptual artwork. The group’s core members were Norman Barratt (vocals/guitar; b. 5 February 1949, d. 30 July 2011), Barry Davenport (drums), J.D. Hughes (woodwind/keyboards/vocals) and Les Williams (bass/vocals). Their first, self-titled 1970 album was dominated by Hughes’ flute melodies, which earned the group initial comparisons to Jethro Tull, as well as extended rock riffs. One of the songs, ‘Tribute To Syd’, was an obvious salute to the genius of Syd Barrett. The follow-up collection, which sold poorly, was Ballad Of A Peaceful Man. Despite its relative lack of success, many critics considered it to be far superior to the group’s debut, with its complex arrangements, strong musical values and disciplined vocals attracting particular praise. Though they continued to draw crowds on their extensive UK touring schedule, Vertigo became frustrated with their lack of record sales, leading to a move to Dawn. Second Birth is considered by most to be a disappointing effort, lacking the focus and drive of its predecessor. For their final album, 1974’s Staircase To The Day, the group experimented with Greek folk and classical signatures (notably on the Bach-inspired title track), while Roger Dean supplied the cover artwork. The group utilized a wide variety of collaborators for this album, including Russell Cordwell (drums), Jim Frank (drums), George Lynon (guitar), Pete Solley (synthesizer) and Mary Zinovieff (synthesizer/violin). Original drummer Davenport had now left, and the rest of the band elected to close their career after further moderate sales.
CARAVAN - The First 4... (1968/72)
Caravan were one of the more formidable progressive rock acts to come out of England in the 1960s, though they were never much more than a very successful cult band at home, and, apart from a brief moment in 1975, barely a cult band anywhere else in the world. They only ever charted one album in their first six years of activity, but they made a lot of noise in the English rock press, and their following has been sufficiently loyal and wide to keep their work in print for extended periods during the 1970s, the 1990s, and in the new century. Caravan grew out of the breakup of the Wilde Flowers, a Canterbury-based group formed in 1964 as an R&B-based outfit with a jazzy-edge. The Wilde Flowers had a lineup of Brian Hopper on guitar and saxophone, Richard Sinclair on rhythm guitar, Hugh Hopper playing bass, and Robert Wyatt on drums. Kevin Ayers passed through the lineup as a singer, and Richard Sinclair was succeeded on rhythm guitar by Pye Hastings in 1965. Wyatt subsequently became the lead singer, succeeded by Richard Coughlan on drums. Hugh Hopper left and was replaced by Dave Lawrence, then Richard Sinclair, and Dave Sinclair, Richard's cousin, came in on keyboards. Finally, in 1966, Wyatt and Ayers formed Soft Machine and the Wilde Flowers dissolved. In the wake of the earlier group's dissolution, Hastings, Richard Sinclair, Dave Sinclair, and Richard Coughlan formed Caravan in January of 1968.
The group stood at first somewhat in the shadow of Soft Machine, which became an immediate favorite on the London club scene and in the press. This worked in Caravan's favor, however, as the press and club owners began taking a long look at them because of the members' previous connections. A gig at the Middle Earth Club in London led to their being spotted by a music publishing executive named Ian Ralfini, which resulted in a publishing deal with Robbins Music and then, by extension, a recording contract with MGM Records on their Verve Records imprint, which the American label was trying to establish in England. Their self-titled debut album, Caravan, was a hybrid of jazz and psychedelia, but also enough of a virtuoso effort to rate as a serious progressive rock album at a time when that genre wasn't yet fully established; along with the Nice albums on Immediate and The Cheerful Insanity of Giles, Giles & Fripp, it planted the roots of progressive rock. The Caravan album never sold in serious numbers, and for much of 1968 and early 1969, the members were barely able to survive -- at one point they were literally living in tents. And then, to add insult to injury, the record disappeared as MGM's British operation shut down in late 1968. Out of that chaos, however, the group got a new manager in Terry King and, with the help of a fledgling producer named David Hitchcock (who'd seen the band in concert), a contract with England's Decca Records, which was a major label at the time. Their Decca debut album, If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You, released in early 1970, was a major step forward and, indeed, a milestone in their history, establishing the mix of humor and progressive sounds, including classical, jazz, and traditional English influences that would characterize the best of their work over the next six years. Moreover, with Decca's then-formidable distribution behind it, the album got into stores and was heard and even sold well on university campuses.
Suddenly, Caravan were an up-and-coming success on the college concert circuit, even making an appearance on British television's Top of the Pops. With national exposure and a growing audience, the group was at a make-or-break moment in their history. They rose to the occasion with their second Decca LP, In the Land of Grey and Pink, which showed off a keen melodic sense, a subtly droll wit, and a seductively smooth mix of hard rock, folk, classical, and jazz, intermingled with elements of Tolkien-esque fantasy. The songs ranged from light, easy-to-absorb pieces such as "Golf Girl" to the quietly majestic "Nine Feet Underground," a 23-minute suite that filled the side of an LP. One of the hardest-rocking yet musically daring extended pieces to come out of the early progressive rock era, "Nine Feet Underground" didn't seem half as long as its 23 minutes and it was a dazzling showcase for Pye Hastings' searing lead guitar and Dave Sinclair's soaring organ and piano work. Although few observers realized it at the time, the suite's length pointed up a problem that the group faced fairly consistently -- in contrast to most progressive rock outfits of the era, Caravan were inventive enough to justify extending even the relatively simple songs in their repertoire to running times of six or seven minutes, and they were also extremely prolific. Those two situations meant that they were frequently forced to leave perfectly good songs off their albums and to edit those that they did issue. Most listeners didn't find this out until a wave of Caravan reissues arrived in 2001 with their running times extended ten to 25 minutes each by the presence of perfectly good, previously unissued songs and unedited masters of previously released songs. Keyboard player and singer Dave Sinclair left the group's lineup in 1971, joining his ex-Wilde Flowers bandmate Robert Wyatt in the latter's new group, Matching Mole, and he was succeeded by Stephen Miller of the jazz-based band Delivery, who lasted through one album, Waterloo Lily (1972), moving them in a much more bluesy direction. Friction between the members resulted in Miller's departure and the exit of Richard Sinclair, who subsequently joined Hatfield and the North. When the smoke cleared, Caravan were back as a five-piece that included Geoff Richardson on the electric viola, which added a new and rich timbre to their overall sound. By the time they cut their next album, For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night, Dave Sinclair was back on keyboards. The album was a success, as was its follow-up, Caravan & the New Symphonia, a live 1973 performance accompanied by a full orchestra, released the following year......
PATTI SCIALFA - Discography 1993/2007
The Born in the U.S.A. tour started on a Friday night. The Sunday prior, Bruce invited a red-haired singer that he had known from the Jersey Shore music scene to come to one of the E Street Band’s final rehearsals. One day later, the singer was hired and told to pack her bags: she was in the band, and she had to be in St. Paul in three days.The decision might have been made at the last minute, but Patti Scialfa certainly wasn’t an unknown quantity when she joined the E Street Band. She and Bruce were friends, having been at the same shows at the Stone Pony on many nights in the early ’80s. Patti had toured with Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, and she had worked with Tone, the band David Sancious formed after leaving the E Street Band. She had been educated at the University of Miami’s School of Music and New York University. While first attempting to earn a living by playing music in the mid-’70s, she had answered an ad in the Village Voice that led to an audition with the E Street Band; she had even recorded with Bruce in the studio during the Born in the U.S.A. sessions, laying down a vocal track that went unused on record. Bruce had used female vocals in the past in his music, most notably during Suki Lahav’s five month stint in an early incarnation of the band, but adding a female singer full-time, “busting up the boys’ club,” as Bruce noted years later, was a big change. Initially, her role was to make sure that “someone’s gonna hit that note, every night,” but having a woman in the band also provided a new element to the band’s visual impact. The male/female interplay that was possible with Patti’s presence became a key part of the Tunnel of Love tour in 1988, with Patti in a featured role at center stage with Bruce on “Tougher Than the Rest,” “Tunnel of Love,” and “One Step Up,” among others. Having fallen in love on the Tunnel tour, Bruce and Patti married in 1991; they have three children. Patti’s balance of her home life and her role in the present-day E Street Band has led to her periodic absence from the stage, with Bruce humorously noting that, with teenagers at home, “the fort must be guarded.” https://ydray.com/get/l/BO16278074897918/RGFEfVOax8Y
Rumble Doll, Patti’s debut solo album, was released in 1993. 23rd Street Lullaby followed in 2004, along with her first solo tour (with a special guest named Bruce showing up from time to time). She also opened the final show on the Vote for Change tour at the Continental Airlines Arena in 2004. When her most recent album, Play It as It Lays, was released at the same time as an E Street Band tour, Patti’s “Town Called Heartbreak” was added to the E Street set, performed as a duet between Patti and Bruce on the first leg of the Magic tour in 2007.
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