ARC - ...At This (1971)
After singer Graham Bell joined Brian Davison's Every Which Way, English foursome ARC emerged from Skip Bifferty [aka Heavy Jelly] in 1970. They were a lesser but very talented blues-based heavy prog outfit comprised of Michael Gallagher's keys, Tom DUFFY's bass, the drums of David Montgomery and guitarist John Turnbull. Evidently they recorded two studio albums though only one is currently documented, 'At This' from 1971 on Decca. Occasionally compared to Patto though they also remind of Supertrump if that group had been young and hungry, ARC sound not unlike many bands of the era who took from what the Beatles had established but adding a harder, rawer feel mixed with the semi-classical sparks of early YES, making 'At This' a respectable collector's item. ARC were songwriters at heart and composed surprisingly good material easily overshadowed by the other more well-versed, attention-getting acts. Clearly progressive however, and a fine example of early melodic Prog before things got so involved.
NEIL YOUNG - Young Shakespeare (2021)
Just two months after the release of his seminal album After The Gold Rush, Neil Young played a solo show at The Shakespeare Theater, Stratford, CT on January 22 1971. The show was filmed and recorded, and the concert shown on German TV later in 1971. In 2020, while Neil and his team were reviewing his Archive for future projects, Neil re-visited the 16mm film and audio recording of this show that had been preserved in the Archive for almost 50 years. Piecing together the tapes and footage, Neil realized that he had the full concert – the film of which is the earliest live footage of Neil performing that is known to exist. Neil has written on NYA that this show is“superior to our beloved “Massey Hall”. A more calm performance, without the celebratory atmosphere of Massey Hall, captured live on 16mm. “Young Shakespeare” is a very special event. To my fans, I say this is the best ever.” As an insight into Neil’s prolific song writing at the time, the concert features two songs from the recently released After The Gold Rush but four songs from the classic Harvest album that was still over a year away from being released. The wonderful set list also includes acoustic renditions of favorites such as “Ohio”, “Cowgirl In the Sand”, “Helpless”, “Down By The River” and “Sugar Mountain”. The ancient analog tapes have been lovingly restored – resulting in (as Neil says on NYA) “one of the most pure sounding acoustic performances we have in the Archive”. This beautiful concert is being released on LP and CD, plus a deluxe boxed edition that includes both LP and CD and, for the first time ever, a DVD of the concert. Young Shakespeare is being released almost exactly 50 years after the original performance.
GOSPEL OAK - Gospel Oak (1970)
Formed in London in 1969, Gospel Oak, a band of American expats (including future Kingfish leader Matthew Kelly), was unable to gig in the UK due to work permit issues, so the group focused instead on rehearsing and writing an album. Gospel Oak appeared in the autumn of 1970, by which time the band had returned to the US. A superb blend of folk, pop, blues, rock, and country influences, it has a growing cult reputation and makes its long-awaited CD debut here, complete with detailed background notes and images. Matthew Kelly was a Californian who'd previously attracted attention playing blues harmonica and touring with the likes of Mel Brown, John Lee Hooker, and T-Bone Walker. The man clearly had some chops to be supporting names like that. Kelly soon found himself caught-up in San Francisco's burgeoning rock scene. He added electric guitar to his repertoire and started playing with Chris Herold and Dave Torbert. In 1969 the three of them were hired to play in the band Horses which was fronted by sometimes actor and lead singer Don Johnson (the Miami Vice guy). Horses recorded one self-titled album before collapsing. Digitally remastered.
A FOOT IN COLDWATER - A Foot In Coldwater (1972) & The Second Foot In Coldwater (1973)
A Foot in Coldwater (sometimes credited as A Foot in Cold Water) was a late 1960s Canadian progressive rock band. Its members were Alex Machin (vocals) who would later also front the rock group Moxy, Hughie Leggat (bass, acoustic guitar, vocals), Paul Naumann (guitar, vocals), Bob Horne (keyboards) and Danny Taylor (drums, percussion). A Foot in Coldwater, sometimes shortened to simply AFIC by fans, had a number of other names and false starts before settling into what fans would remember them being. Members of this '70s progressive rock group included lead singer Alex Machin; guitarist, bassist, and singer Paul Naumann; drummer and percussionist Danny Taylor; singer, bassist, and acoustic guitarist Hughie Leggat; and keyboardist Bob Horne. In 1971 A Foot in Coldwater was formed out of members from two bands, Island and Nucleus, and a year later a self-titled album was completed. One of the debut's singles, "(Make Me Do) Anything You Want," found its way straight onto the Canadian music charts. In 1973 a sophomore album was released, A Second Foot in Coldwater, recorded under the Daffodil Records label. The second offering didn't do very well, but the band went on with a third, All Around Us. Some of the singles landed on the charts, one rising up to a Top Ten spot. After the third album, A Foot in Coldwater ran into trouble. First, its record label folded, then there were some problems between members that cost them Bob Horne in 1976. There were a few more recordings, but things were pretty much over by 1977. In 1988 a few of the original members came together to tour a little. Some of the albums from the '70s were reissued around the same time. In 1998 many of the group's best-known songs were placed on a new two-CD set, The Very Best of a Foot in Coldwater. Some of the tunes fans can sample from this group include "Breaking Through," "Midnight Lady," "How Much Love Can You Take," "In Heat," "Deep Freeze," and "Love Is Coming."
Fruupp were a 1970s progressive rock band, which originated in Belfast, Northern Ireland, but developed a fan base in Great Britain. They were relatively popular, particularly on the student scene and as a supporting act, opening for such bands as Genesis, Queen, and King Crimson.
Future Legends is the debut studio album by North Irish progressive rock band Fruupp. Recorded in July 1973 and produced by Denis Taylor, it was released on 5 October in the United Kingdom on the Dawn Records label, a subsidiary of Pye Records for underground and progressive rock music. To promote the album, the band undertook a two-month tour which finished on 29 November with a concert in The Whitla Hall, Belfast where they played with the Ulster Youth Orchestra. The track "On a Clear Day" written by Stephen Houston featured in the first hundred vinyl pressings of Future Legends but was later withdrawn from the album. It resurfaced as a bonus track in the 2009 Esoteric Recordings remastered edition.
Seven Secrets is the second studio album by North Irish progressive rock band Fruupp, released on 19 April 1974 in the United Kingdom on the Dawn Records label, a subsidiary of Pye Records for underground and progressive rock music. Like the band's debut album, it was recorded at Escape Studios in Egerton, Kent, but was this time produced by David Lewis, the frontman of another North Irish rock band Andwella. Before Fruupp entered the recording studio, they had written six songs, but felt that the album's name "Seven Secrets" would be much appropriate than "Six Secrets", so Vincent McCusker composed an acoustic guitar and spoken song "The Seventh Secret" to ensure the album had seven tracks to match its new title.
The Prince of Heaven's Eyes is the third studio album by North Irish progressive rock band Fruupp, released on 8 November 1974 in the United Kingdom on the Pye label's underground and progressive music imprint Dawn Records. Recorded from August to September 1974 at Morgan Studios in London, it was the only album produced by Fruupp themselves. The band supported the recording with a two-month tour which commenced on 24 October with a highly successful concert in The Ulster Hall in Belfast. In January 1975, Stephen Houston left the band to become a Christian clergyman, and was replaced by John Mason, with whom Fruupp recorded their last album to date, Modern Masquerades (1975). The Prince of Heaven's Eyes was the group's debut LP which had been promoted by 7" singles. The first single was "The Prince of Darkness" backed with "Annie Austere", released on 11 October 1974. During the recording sessions, Fruupp composed a song called "Prince of Heaven" credited for the first and only time the whole band. It is about the album concept as opposed to being part of it, and for that reason was not included on the album and was released as the second single with "The Jaunting Car" as a B-side. It was issued as a promo on 4 October 1974 and became available at retail on 18 October. Most subsequent reissues of The Prince of Heaven's Eyes on CD featured "Prince of Heaven" as a bonus track.
Modern Masquerades is the fourth and final studio album by North Irish progressive rock band Fruupp, released on 14 November 1975 in the United Kingdom on the Pye label's underground and progressive music imprint Dawn Records. Recorded from August to September 1975 at Basing Street Studios in London, it was produced by multi-instrumental musician Ian McDonald, best known as a founding member of King Crimson and Foreigner. In addition to the production role, McDonald also played alto saxophone and percussion. Modern Masquerades proved to be the only Fruupp's recording without founding keyboardist Stephen Houston who had been replaced by John Mason in early 1975. The supporting tour commenced in Hastings on 5 December 1975 and finished in Manchester on 2 February 1976.
JONI MITCHELL - Love Has Many Faces: A Quartet, A Ballet, Waiting To Be Danced (2014)
In the '60s and '70s, Joni Mitchell was widely seen as the archetypal female singer/songwriter, the original Lady from the Canyon who sang passionate but laid-back songs full of organic wisdom about love and life. Of course, that image was never an accurate portrait of the sort of artist Mitchell was - emotionally she was never hesitant to cut deep, even on languid acoustic numbers, and her skills as a lyricist, vocalist, and guitarist were estimable. One might imagine that the ambitious, marvelously crafted jazz-pop of 1974's Court and Spark was an effort by Mitchell to prove she was more than just a moody girl with a guitar, and much of her subsequent music of the '70s and '80s was not just an expression of her eclectic muse, but an ongoing project to show off the range and intelligence of her musical impulses. Mitchell has long been overdue for a career-spanning box set, and she's finally delivered one with Love Has Many Faces: A Quartet, A Ballet, Waiting to Be Danced, a four-disc 53-song collection compiled, annotated, and designed by Mitchell with the stated intent of dealing with love and human interaction in its many forms. At the same time, Love Has Many Faces is a writ-large summary of Mitchell's recorded legacy that finds her offering an idiosyncratic view of her career. A number of Mitchell's most popular songs from her early days, including "Big Yellow Taxi," "The Circle Game," "Chelsea Morning," "Cactus Tree," and "Woodstock," are missing from the program, with Mitchell putting a greater emphasis on material from largely overlooked albums like Wild Things Run Fast, Chalk Mark in a Rain Storm, and Night Ride Home. (The fact Mitchell wants us to recall "Dancin' Clown," an embarrassing duet with Billy Idol, is little short of astonishing.) Mitchell also presents several major selections in the orchestral re-recordings she created for the album Travelogue, and as she did on themed compilations such as Dreamland and Songs of a Prairie Girl, Mitchell has remixed a few of the tracks on this set. As a consequence, while most box sets are intended to summarize the career of an artist, Love Has Many Faces instead presents Joni's own preferred perspective on her music, where the jazzier and more stylistically ambitious creations take center stage and Joni the Folkie barely exists. Some fans might find this set's point of view to be a bit curious, especially since it favors less popular (and often less acclaimed) material over Mitchell's more celebrated compositions, but in this context, many of these songs play significantly better than they did on her uneven projects of the '80s and '90s, and the lyrical strength and bold musical vision that inform this music are genuinely remarkable on nearly every tune. For many fans, Love Has Many Faces may not be the Joni Mitchell box set they want, but as a summation of her own musical world-view, it's a powerful and revealing accomplishment.
JOAN ARMATRADING - Love and Affection: Joan Armatrading Classics 1975-1983 (2003)
This is the way a Joan Armatrading best-of collection should be assembled in the first place. The numerous single-disc compilations never came close to being representative of her achievement as a recording artist. Culling 43 tracks over eight years and 11 albums is even better in many ways than issuing an Armatrading box set. All of the expected material from the early years is included on disc one, such as "Cool Blue Stole My Heart," "Travel So Far," "Dry Land," "Down to Zero," "Love and Affection," "Help Yourself," "Woncha Come on Home," "Show Some Emotion," "Willow," "Barefoot and Pregnant," "Bottom to the Top," "You Rope You Tie Me," "Your Letter," and many more, including "The Flight of the Wild Geese" from the soundtrack to the film. It covers Armatrading's prolific period from 1975-1979, where a lot of old hippies, now upwardly mobile professionals seeking mellow escapes from their relentless and often ruthless pursuit of "the good life," got off the bus and remained stuck, listening only to her early records along with those of the Jacksons, Eagles, and James Taylor. The only problem with this is that Armatrading was just beginning to gain a confidence that led her to become really adventurous, taking huge chances with both her songwriting and production styles in the 1980s. She became a pop singer whose lyrics were anything but pop and whose music expanded the boundaries of pop to include reggae, jazz, and slippery folk music. Admittedly, the results were sometimes erratic, but were never, never less than utterly compelling. Disc two features all four tracks from the excellent How Cruel EP, including the reggae soul-drenched bluster of "Rosie," the title track, and "He Wants Her," with its dubbed-out drums and snaky guitar slinking through her sensual vocal. Eight cuts from the Me Myself I album represent the vast majority of it; it also marked Armatrading's first true rock & roll outing. She had heard the late-'70s music from England and Jamaica - as well as the Lower East Side of New York - and was affected by it. She didn't try to make punk rock or new wave music, but she let its freedom enter her songwriting consciousness and open it up. As she hung out with producers like Richard Gotteher (Robert Gordon, Mink DeVille, and Lou Reed) and Henry Lewy, rock and roll became Armatrading's chosen vehicle of expression.
By the time she made her bravest recordings, Walk Under Ladders in 1981, The Key in 1983, and Track Record with Steve Lillywhite (U2, Ultravox, Psychedelic Furs, etc.) in 1983, the English audiences went crazy while the Americanskis walked away almost entirely. Armatrading's songs had turned dark and grew tenser with the times, dealing with themes of emotional and physical abuse, vulnerability that is not necessarily willful, but is welcomed in a first-person way. They made folks who wore designer clothes, drove BMWs, and spouted "liberal" causes feel queasy - one listen to "The Weakness in Me," "I Really Must Be Going," or the infamous " (I Love It When You) Call Me Names" made the yuppies flee in droves. The final two tracks, "Frustration" and "Heaven," are awesome. The former is post-rock and downright right funky with its collapsible backbeat. She took South African township jive, mixed it with greasy fretless basslines and celebratory melodic schematics, and juxtaposed it against tough lyrics of street life and cultural suffocation. "Heaven" is, in a sense, a small nod back to where Armatrading had come from, asking a wider and darker series of the questions she was asking on her earlier records, but its twists and turns make it as much a spiritual love song as a secular one. For Armatrading, need, love, obsession, sensuality, and excess had all become inseparable from one another in her songwriting; along with the pumped-up rock aesthetic, it made her music downright dangerous. She dared to proclaim her darkness without regretful confession or repentance. She dared to make anthems out of raw need and insecurity, and made the tension between lovers something truly sensual. As an artist, Armatrading never sought to find innocence; her vision as an artist has always been expansive, and she took on race and class issues in her songs via amorous relationships, daring both parties to step out of their fear. These songs tell stories so intimate and so encompassing it's no wonder most that people don't get them; they can't even imagine what addressing that fear would be like, let alone have somebody do it in wondrous pop songs you can hum to. Necessary, explosive, and brilliant, listen and behold the songs of a sage whose wisdom is from the school of hard knocks and transcendent courage, and whose musical sophistication is second to none. This is the only Joan Armatrading collection worth owning.
KOPPERFIELD - Tales Untold (1974)
Michigan was a powerhouse region for rock & roll music in the late '60s and early '70s. From Motown to the MC5, the Stooges, and the System to lesser-known lights like the Rationals and Frijid Pink, the state was responsible for some of the most raucous and soulful rock music of the era. Kopperfield belongs, in a sense, to that last category of band, although they never earned even a modicum of commercial success. They did, however, gain a considerable following throughout the state and Midwest with their brand of progressive hard rock. Kopperfield emerged out of the ashes of a couple high school bands in Edwardsberg, MI. Keyboard player Keith Robinson and bassist Jerry Opdycke were in competing combos, but were also good friends who had frequently jammed and discussed the possibility of connecting in a band. The opportunity finally presented itself when their respective bands began to disintegrate in the fall of 1971. Opdycke soon put in a call to Robinson. Chuck Eagan and longtime friend Bill Wallace accompanied Opdycke into the group on guitars and Robinson brought in his little brother Jimmy as the lead vocalist. Tom Curtis, at the time playing bass in another band, joined on drums. The new collection of players jammed and gelled instantly and Kopperfield was formed. From the very beginning, they were writing a prodigious number of original songs. By 1972, they had worked up enough courage to journey to Chicago and record some of them, although they were still rough early efforts. By 1973, the material had improved so much that the band began work on its Tales Untold project in between extensive stretches on the road. Kopperfield also lost Wallace during this period and replaced him with another keyboard player and vocalist, Paul Decker. Tales Untold was finally finished and released in 1974 and Kopperfield immediately began work on its second LP, tentatively titled Back to Bitchin' (the album was never finished or released). They also signed with a booking agency out of Chicago, allowing them to open for groups and artists like Foghat, Country Joe McDonald, Kansas, the James Gang, and H.P. Lovecraft. By 1975, however, Kopperfield came to an end. In 2001, Gear Fab reissued virtually the entire recorded legacy of the band on CD.
DAVID GILMOUR - Solo Discography 1978-2015
David Gilmour is the debut solo studio album by Pink Floyd guitarist and co-lead vocalist David Gilmour. The album was released in May and June 1978 in the United Kingdom and the United States, respectively. The album reached number 17 in the UK and number 29 on the Billboard US album charts; it was certified Gold in the US by the RIAA. The album was produced by Gilmour, and consists mostly of blues and guitar-oriented rock songs, except for the piano-dominated ballad "So Far Away". The tracks used for the album were recorded between February and March 1978 with engineer John Etchells at Super Bear Studios in France. They were then mixed at the same studio by Nick Griffiths. Session musicians included bass guitarist Rick Wills and drummer Willie Wilson, both of whom used to be part of Jokers Wild with Gilmour. The album cover used for the first EMI pressings of the album LP was done by Hipgnosis and Gilmour and includes Gilmour, Rick Wills and Willie Wilson in the cover photo. Gilmour was credited on the cover for contributing "Keyboards, Vocals" although he played guitar. The CBS/Columbia pressings (outside Europe) listed Gilmour as contributing "Guitars, Keyboards, Vocals". Among those depicted on the inner sleeve is Gilmour's then-wife, Ginger.
About Face is the second solo studio album by the English singer and musician David Gilmour. It was released on 5 March 1984 by Harvest in the UK and Columbia in the United States, a day before Gilmour's 38th birthday. Co-produced by Bob Ezrin and Gilmour, the album was recorded in 1983 at Pathé Marconi Studio, in Boulogne-Billancourt, France. The lyrics of two tracks, "All Lovers Are Deranged" and "Love on the Air," were written by Pete Townshend of the Who. The album received positive reviews and peaked at #21 on UK Albums Chart and #32 on the US Billboard 200. Two singles were released: "Blue Light" peaked at #62 in the United States, while "Love on the Air" failed to chart. The album was certified gold by the RIAA. Gilmour said he wanted to take his time and make "a really good album" and "get the best musicians in the world that I could get hold of to play with me." Musicians on the album include drummer Jeff Porcaro, bass guitarist Pino Palladino, Deep Purple keyboardist Jon Lord, backing vocalists Roy Harper, and Sam Brown, orchestral arranger Michael Kamen (who had also worked on The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking and The Wall), and keyboardist Steve Winwood.
On an Island is the third solo studio album by Pink Floyd member David Gilmour. It was released in the UK on 6 March 2006, Gilmour's 60th birthday, and in the US the following day. It was his first solo album in 22 years since About Face in 1984 and 12 years since Pink Floyd's 1994 album The Division Bell. The album features Robert Wyatt, Jools Holland, Georgie Fame, David Crosby, Graham Nash, Pink Floyd keyboardist Richard Wright, early Pink Floyd member Bob Klose and Pink Floyd session and touring musician Guy Pratt. Chris Thomas and Roxy Music's Phil Manzanera assisted with production. Engineering duties were undertaken by long time collaborator Andy Jackson. The lyrics were principally written by Gilmour's wife, writer Polly Samson. On an Island entered the UK charts at #1, giving Gilmour his first ever chart-topping album outside of Pink Floyd. It reached #1 on the European Chart, and #2 in Canada, Portugal and Iceland. It has also provided Gilmour with his first US Top 10 album, reaching #6.
Rattle That Lock is the fourth solo studio album by former Pink Floyd singer and guitarist David Gilmour. It was originally released on 18 September 2015 via Columbia Records. Gilmour completed short tours of Europe in September and October 2015 and South America in December 2015 to support the album, with a similar tour of the United States and Canada following in March and April 2016. The artwork for the album was created by Dave Stansbie from The Creative Corporation under the direction of Aubrey Powell, who has worked with Gilmour and Pink Floyd since the late 1960s. The album, Gilmour's first in nine years, became his second solo number one. The album was recorded at Gilmour's recording studios. Phil Manzanera, co-producer of the album, estimated that Gilmour had been writing the material for Rattle That Lock over the previous five years, though he pointed out that one piano piece was recorded 18 years ago in Gilmour's living room. Most of the album was recorded at Medina Studio, in Hove – the additional recording was at the Astoria houseboat studio, in both cases by long time collaborator, engineer Andy Jackson.
ROBIN TROWER - Compendium 1987-2013 (2013)
This two-disc set from ex-Procol Harum member and pioneering English guitar player Robin Trower features a collection of highlights from his post-Chrysalis Records period. Boasting 35 tracks culled from the albums Passion (1987), Take What You Need (1988), In the Line of Fire (1990), 20th Century Blues (1994), Go My Way (2000), Living Out of Time (2003), Another Day's Blues (2005), Seven Moons (2008), What Lies Beneath (2009), The Playful Heart (2011), and Roots and Branches (2013), Compendium 1987-2013 offers up a solid overview of Trower's later works, and would pair nicely with 2012's Farther On Up the Road: The Chrysalis Years (1977-1983).
Robin Trower may seem a modest and quiet man, but his achievements are great. Over the decades since he formed his own band back in 1973, he has conceived many fine solo albums that showcase his exceptional talents as a guitarist, singer and composer. Here’s a truly outstanding new collection of some of the finest recordings by one of rock’s most admired guitar heroes. This double CD set comprises 35 tracks gathered from a range of original recordings released between 1987-2013, now all together for the first time on one album. Our compilation runs from his first studio album after leaving Chrysalis Records, 1987’s ‘Passion’, to the latest highly regarded ‘Roots And Branches’, an album of covers and retro-inspired originals that pays homage to Trower’s blues roots. The track listing is the most comprehensive yet offered by any label. It was selected in collaboration with Robin himself to perfectly represent the second half of his stellar career, that still continues both ‘live’ and on record. Like all the great bluesmen, Trower gets better with age! Some tracks included here are hard or impossible to find, due to label changes in Robin’s latter career. The 35 tracks represented give a fully detailed picture of his development as a guitarist and musician over the past 26 years. And there’s more to come… A very high standard of musicianship is maintained throughout and, above it all, soars Trower’s magically emotive guitar playing that has remained on top form for more than 5 decades. Booklet with authoritative and extensive liner notes written by respected author and journalist Michael Heatley (‘Record Collector’ and ‘Guitar & Bass’). It includes quotes from four separate interviews he has conducted over the past decade with Robin Trower. Expertly remastered. Superb sound - top quality reproduction. The best in the business!
ZOOT - Archaeology (2018)
Zoot became one the most popular Australian bands of the second ‘pop wave’ of the late ‘Sixties when they and other acts like The Valentines, the Masters Apprentices, Russell Morris and The New Dream were scoring hits and causing riots. Like so many groups at the time, Zoot were drawn along by the rapid stylistic shifts of that uncertain period and they suffered under some ill-advised management decisions that led to them being tagged as a lightweight ‘bubblegum’ act an undeserved reputation which overshadowed their fine musicianship and their genuine desire to be taken seriously. Ironically, they’re probably best remembered these days for the 1970 single that they hoped would scuttle their pop image for good - their classic heavy-metal version of The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” and also for the fact that Zoot was first successful outing for two future stars solo performer and soapie heart-throb Rick Springfield, and Little River Band lynch pin Beeb Birtles. Zoot was one of several significant Aussie bands that emerged from the fertile musical hothouse of Adelaide in the mid-1960s the same scene that produced The Masters Apprentices and The Twilights. Zoot started out as one among scores of hopeful young beat groups who that formed in and around the migrant settlement suburbs around the South Australian capital of Adelaide. New satellite suburbs such as Elizabeth and Port Noarlunga were established in the 1950s to receive the huge influx of “New Australians”, and many of the young British kids who settled there with their families had actually seen the leading British beat groups in person before leaving for Australia.
In 2018, the band released an anthology entitled Archaeology, including a new recording of "Life in a Northern Town".
BLACKFEATHER - At The Mountains Of Madness (1971) & Boppin' The Blues (1972)
Blackfeather are an Australian rock group which formed in April 1970. The band contained three members of the very successful Dave Miller Set. Miller had decided to go solo so John Robinson, Leith Corbett and Mike McCormack teamed up with Neale Johns on vocals to form Blackfeather. Within their first year they had the first of many lineup changes when Al Kash joined on drums, and Bob Fortesque on bass. It was this lineup that was soon signed to Infinity Records and before 1970 had ended they were in the studio recording their first album, “At The Mountains Of Madness”. On this album was a song that was to become not only a hit for two different bands, but also proved to be the catalyst for another major problem within the band. The song “Seasons of Change” was recorded using a couple of musicians from the band Fraternity, Bon Scott and keyboardist John Bissett. Bon had sung some backing vocals and had played recorder on the track. He loved the song and asked could he record it with Fraternity. A deal was eventually struck that allowed Fraternity to record it and release it as a single on the understanding that Blackfeather would not release their version in competition. Unfortunately, against the bands wishes, the record company reneged on the deal as soon as they saw how popular the song was. This caused a major rift between the band and the record company which eventually led to more lineup changes. The band split at this point but it was soon discovered that Neale Johns had exclusive rights to the name Blackfeather. He formed what was known as the MKII version with Warren Ward on bass, Jim Penson on drums, Zac Zytnick on guitar and Paul Wylde on piano. After yet another lineup change they recorded the song “Boppin’ The Blues” which featured a much more boogie influenced sound. The song went to number one in October 1972 and was their biggest hit. The band continued to change lineups but never really found the success that they had deserved. Eventually they disbanded in 1983 but apparently still perform an occasional show.
BANCHEE - Banchee (1969) + Thinkin' (1971) (2001)
Heavy Psychedelic band from the East Coast, USA, late 1960s to early 1970s. Both of Banchee's albums are combined onto one CD on this reissue. From 1969, Banchee's self-titled debut LP was energetic but fairly faceless psychedelic hard rock, making nods to West Coast guitar psych and early metal-ish sounds, as well as dipping into some rousing Crosby, Stills & Nash-like harmonies and uplifting lyrics. But it's an unfocused record, the songs often drifting through their changes without holding your attention, and not containing riffs, tunes, or unusual thoughts of note within the super-competitive world of adventurous late-'60s rock. It's not just a problem that the hard and soft rock sounds simultaneously explored by the group weren't too compatible; it's more of a hindrance that the material they cooked up wasn't exciting. The 1971 follow-up, Thinkin', was similar, but harder rocking and even more meandering, putting some more Santana-like percussion and soul-rock into the mix. Though the good intentions of the band often ooze through the lyrics, in some respects it epitomizes some of the least attractive facets of early-'70s hard rock, particularly in the overlong guitar solos and unappealingly loosely structured songwriting.
Harmonia was a West German musical "supergroup" formed in 1973 as a collaboration between members of two prominent krautrock bands: Cluster's Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius joined by Neu! guitarist Michael Rother. Living and recording in the rural village of Forst, the trio released two albums: Musik von Harmonia (1974) and Deluxe (1975) - to limited sales before dissolving in 1976. In 1997, a series of shelved 1976 collaborations between Harmonia and British musician Brian Eno saw release as Tracks and Traces; it was reissued with more unearthed material in 2009. Following the release of the live album Live 1974 (2007), the trio reformed between 2007 and 2009. In 2015, Grönland Records released the 6-disc box set Complete Works, featuring remastered recordings and archival material. AllMusic described the group as "one of the most legendary in the entire krautrock/kosmische scene." Collaborator Brian Eno described them in the mid-1970s as "the world's most important rock group." Harmonia's work would influence the development of ambient music by Eno and albums by David Bowie, as well as other electronic and rock acts.
Though Harmonia began as a sideline excursion for Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius of Cluster and Michael Rother of Neu!, the group became one of the most legendary in the entire Krautrock/kosmische scene with the release of several mid-'70s LPs. After two studio albums recorded as Cluster, Roedelius and Moebius moved out to the German countryside to build their own studio in the village of Forst. After several disappointments in his attempt to expand Neu! into a live unit, Rother retreated to Cluster's studio for a series of relaxed, improvisational jam sessions that wedded Cluster's exploratory space music with the chugging rhythms and guitar sense of Rother. The debut Harmonia LP, Musik Von Harmonia, appeared in 1974 (with an accomplished live track, recorded in Amsterdam). Though Rother also continued with Neu! to create another Krautrock classic, Neu! '75, Harmonia remained his focus for another LP, 1975's De Luxe. Brian Eno had proclaimed Harmonia "the world's most important rock group," and he eventually joined the proceedings for several 1976 sessions - the legendary results of which lay unreleased for over 20 years, until Rykodisc acquiesced with the release of Tracks & Traces. Though Cluster and Eno continued their collaboration during the late '70s, Rother began a solo career with 1978's Sterntaler.
Bullfrog were born in Munich in 1973. Their brand of krautrock, featuring mostly guitar and some mean organ play, is rather melodious and a bit reminiscent of German art rockers Jane. Their latest incarnation consisted of keyboardist Harald Kaltenecker, guitarist Sebastian Leitner, bassist Vincent Trost, drummer Ali Halmatoglu and vocalist Gerd Hoch (who committed suicide in the summer of '95). Their first (eponymous) album didn't break any grounds but their second, "High in Spirit" ('77) boasted a much better production and thus brought the band a sizeable following both in Germany and in the US. It also gathered quite a huge fan base in Portugal where the album managed to relegate both ABBA and Pink Floyd to second and third place on the local charts. Encouraged by the warm reception, they toured a great deal and finally released a third LP in 1980, "Second Wind", their most accomplished work to date. They were gathering material for a fourth when dissension grew amongst the ranks and brought an end to their reunion. Interesting material but not essential. Recommended strictly for collectors of early krautrock.
GERRY RAFFERTY - Rest in Blue (2021)
Gerry Rafferty was a Scottish rock singer-songwriter. His solo hits in the late 1970s included "Baker Street", "Right Down the Line" and "Night Owl", as well as "Stuck in the Middle with You", which was recorded with the band Stealers Wheel in 1973.
Gerry Rafferty’s posthumous release Rest In Blue is his 11th solo studio album. Rafferty had been working on the project off and on since 2006, but sadly passed away in 2011, leaving his daughter Martha Rafferty to complete the project. Many of the demos left by Rafferty included multiple layers of synths, which Martha stripped back to showcase his vocal abilities. The result is an album brimming with raw emotion, and a quintessential collection of blues, rock, and folk. Some of the demos Rafferty had singled out as potential tracks for his new album date back as far as 1970. With songs written at varying parts of Rafferty’s career, the album tackles a variety of topics including climate change on Sign Of The Times, the legality of war in Lost Highway, and alcoholism in the emotively honest Still In Denial. Aong with the new originals, the album features popular traditional folk songs such as Wild Mountain Thyme and Dirty Old Town. It also features a cover of Richard & Linda Thompson’s It’s Just The Motion. The album finishes with a re-record of the Stealers Wheel classic Stuck In The Middle With You cut back in the ’90s, giving the track a fresh, country-inspired interpretation.
LE LONDON ALL STAR - British Percussion (1965) 
Many fans of John McLaughlin or Led Zep's Jimmy Page never heard this album exists. Recorded in a single session in 1965 and released on French Barclay label only same year,this recording demonstrates rare very early UK blues-jazz scene's music played by unknown musicians, many of them will become real stars very soon. Twelve compositions + 2 bonus tracks are groovy, melodic, often keyboards based, sometimes with almost big band-like arrangements. Participation of Jimmy Page on solo guitar, extremely rare John McLaughlin playing rhythm guitar and Arthur Greenslade on piano all make this album collectors' dream. All project was extremely short-lived and in fact formed just for one recording session - the concept was to record special album of fashionable in that time "new" British music for French market. Music itself is quite enjoyable combining British r'n'b,bluesy jazz-rock and orchestral arrangements. Not a masterpiece, this album is really rewarding listening for fans of all mentioned musicians.
NEKTAR - 5 Essential Albums (2019)
Nektar, formed in Germany by four Englishmen, never stormed the charts during prog-rock's brief early-'70s heyday, but they created their own distinctive sounds with early work that conjured images of floating through outer space, including chunky guitar chords, doom-laden organ, and phased vocals suggesting a cold and lonely trip through vast cosmos (a parallel but harder-rocking universe to Saucerful of Secrets-era Pink Floyd). There was also a change in direction during the mid-'70s, featuring crisper production as well as pop lyrics and choruses, deemphasizing the abstract, spacy elements that initially made Nektar's music distinctive. At its peak, the quartet was capable of powerful music that ranks among the best progressive rock, and for a little while in the early to mid-'70s, it seemed like they might take the American rock world by storm. They continued recording until the early '80s, reformed in the 21st century to record further and appear at various progressive music festivals. The roots of Nektar lie with a group of Englishmen -- Allan Freeman (keyboards, vocals), Roye Albrighton (guitar, vocals), Derek Moore (bass, Mellotron, vocals), and Ron Howden (drums) -- who all came to Hamburg from England in 1965 as members of different bands. They met in 1968 at the Star Club, where they discovered some common ground in the Beatles as well as early rock & roll but were drawn to the more experimental sounds just beginning to emerge on the rock scene. A year later they formed Nektar and began working at combining these influences into an effective whole. By 1970, with a light show (designed and operated by unofficial fifth member Mick Brockett) added to their stage act, they began attracting a growing following in Germany. They were signed to the Bellaphon label in 1971 and released their debut album, Journey to the Centre of the Eye. Their second album, A Tab in the Ocean, arrived in 1972, and achieved a cult following as a direct import. Their extended songs, usually involving extensive variations on the same theme, found a growing audience in an era dominated by the sounds of Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Yes. Nektar's sound, built around guitar, electronic keyboards, and bass, was far more gothic, with dense textures that didn't always reproduce well on-stage -- but the fans didn't seem to notice. On radio, however, their music filled in large patches of time and attracted listeners ready to graduate from Iron Butterfly and Vanilla Fudge, seeking a re-creation of the drug experience in progressive rock.
Their third album, Remember the Future, released in Germany in 1973, was the group's breakthrough. The title track, broken into two side-length halves, took up the entire record, and became a favorite of FM radio in 1974. It was followed later in 1973 by Sounds Like This, which was made up of shorter, simpler songs, but it was eclipsed in the United States by the American release of Remember the Future on the Passport label, their first U.S. release. When the group made their New York debut at the Academy of Music on September 28, 1974, Remember the Future was still the only Nektar album officially available in the United States. An indication of their stage presence and the nature of their act can be gleaned from the fact that between the wattage of their instruments and their light show, they blew the power at the Academy of Music upon taking the stage. Their next album, Down to Earth (1974), featured ten support musicians and singers, among them P.P. (Pat) Arnold, but it didn't attract nearly the radio play of Remember the Future. Their next album, Live at the Roundhouse (1974), was cut live at the London venue, and didn't include "Remember the Future" among its tracks. They maintained a devoted and significant cult following in America as well as Germany, and their German label later released two double-live albums from concerts in New York (which, between them, included two versions of "Remember the Future, Pt. 1" and two versions of "Pt. 2"). Ironically, Passport Records never released either album in the United States. Albrighton was gone by the time of Magic Is a Child (which featured one of the worst title puns ever in "Eerie Lackawanna"), replaced on guitar by Dave Nelson and synthesizer virtuoso Larry Fast joined the lineup for this album. The release of a double-LP best-of anthology in 1978 heralded the end of the group's run of success during the decade, although Man in the Moon, with David Prater on drums, was issued in 1980. However, the band re-formed in 2002 and began releasing new albums and appearing at progressive rock festivals such as that year’s NEARfest in Trenton, New Jersey. Original members Albrighton and Howden were featured in the group’s lineup, along with bassist Randy Dembo and organist Tom Hughes, although both Dembo and Hughes departed Nektar in 2006, and have since been replaced by Peter Pichl on bass and Klaus Henatsch on keyboards. During the 2000s, Nektar’s albums have included The Prodigal Son (2001), Evolution (2004), and Book of Days (2007). The live album Fortyfied was issued in 2009. Various studio and live albums filled the next decade, including 2013's Time Machine, 2018's Megalomania, and 2020's The Other Side.
DAN FOGELBERG - The First Four (1972/77)
If James Taylor epitomized the definition and the original, late-'60s incarnation of the term singer/songwriter, Dan Fogelberg exemplified the late-'70s equivalent of that term at its most highly developed and successful, with a string of platinum-selling albums and singles into the early '80s and a long career afterward, interrupted only by a health crisis that led to his untimely death in 2007. He came out of a musical family, born Daniel Grayling Fogelberg on August 13, 1951, in Peoria, IL, where his father was an established musician, teacher, and bandleader. His first instrument was the piano, which he took to well enough, and music mattered to him more than the sports that were the preoccupation of most of the boys around him. At age ten, he was saving and listening to any old records he could find. And if there's a "God-shaped space" in everyone, Fogelberg's was filled with music, something his family might've guessed if they'd seen how much he loved the music in church but was bored by the sermons. His other great passions were drawing and painting. His personal musical turning point came in the early '60s, before he'd reached his teens. A gift of an old Hawaiian guitar from his grandfather introduced him to the instrument that would soon supplant the piano, and at age 12, he heard the Beatles for the first time, which not only led him to a revelation about how electric guitars could sound, but also made him notice for the first time the act of songwriting as something central to what musicians did. It was also at that point that he began picking up on the music of Carl Perkins, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Buddy Holly, all of whom were, of course, in the Beatles' repertory.
Home Free is the debut album by American singer-songwriter Dan Fogelberg, released in 1972. Upon its original release, Home Free had lukewarm success, but following a later reissue, it was certified platinum by the RIAA for certified sales of 1,000,000 copies.
Souvenirs is the second studio solo album by the American rock singer-songwriter Dan Fogelberg. The album was released in late 1974, on the label Epic Records. The album reached No. 17 on the Billboard 200 in March 1975 and was certified double platinum by the RIAA. Joe Walsh produced the album and played on ten of the eleven tracks.
Captured Angel is the third album by American singer-songwriter Dan Fogelberg, released in 1975. He promoted the album with a tour in support of The Eagles. The album peaked at No. 23 on the Billboard 200. It has sold more than a million copies.
Nether Lands is the fourth album by American singer-songwriter Dan Fogelberg, released in 1977. The album title is a play on Nederland, Colorado, the location of one of the studios used to record the album.
JOHN MAYALL - London Blues 1964-1969 (1992)
This two-hour-plus compilation of the first five years of the history of John Mayall and his band the Bluesbreakers in their many permutations covers all the expected bases and then some. Eric Clapton, Peter Green, and Mick Taylor are all represented, but so are Bernie Watson and Roger Dean, both of whom preceded Clapton in the guitarist's spot in the band. What's more, they're not bad; they may not have been the assertive soloist that Clapton came to embody, but Dean plays a pretty hot solo on "Crocodile Walk," which was good enough to make the A-side of a single in 1965. Moreover, there was more to any of the Mayall bands than their guitarists, and Mayall's blues harmonica is showcased throughout, on tracks such as "Crawling Up a Hill" and "Blues City Shakedown." The familiar Immediate and Decca/London sides featuring Clapton are here, though the lion's share of space on this set is devoted to the Peter Green version of the lineup, spread over two discs. Other highlights include a handful of tracks from 1967 featuring Paul Butterfield, and a handful of cuts featuring Green working in a lineup that includes saxmen John Almond and Nick Newell as well as trumpeter Henry Lowther. The Mick Taylor lineup, which also includes Dick Heckstall-Smith as one of the reedmen, takes up the bulk of the second disc and shows no diminution of the group's authoritative approach to the blues. Indeed, the Clapton sides represented on this collection, being the most familiar and widely circulated, may well prove to be the least interesting; distilling down the best work of everyone else, including Mayall, on the other hand, is a welcome service and makes this package particularly useful, and short of a Mayall box - an unlikely prospect - this is as good an overview as you're likely to see of his early work.
BLACK SABBATH - The Last Four (1992/2013)
Dehumanizer is the sixteenth studio album by English rock band Black Sabbath, released on June 22, 1992. It was Sabbath's first studio album in over a decade to feature vocalist Ronnie James Dio and drummer Vinny Appice, and their first in nine years to feature original bassist Geezer Butler. Initial writing and demo sessions at Rich Bitch Studios in Birmingham featured drummer Cozy Powell; bootlegs of these sessions exist. However, when Cozy became injured with a broken hip, he was replaced with Vinny. With Vinny back in the band, this effectively reunited the Mob Rules lineup. The band spent two weeks writing material before spending six weeks rehearsing and recording demos at Monnow Valley Studios in Wales. The album's lineup – Dio, Appice, Butler and guitarist Tony Iommi – reunited in 2006 for a greatest hits set, Black Sabbath: The Dio Years, and a new studio album in 2009, The Devil You Know (billed as Heaven & Hell).
Cross Purposes is the seventeenth studio album by English rock band Black Sabbath, released in January 1994. Dehumanizer saw the reunion of Mob Rules-era Black Sabbath, but, after the tour, Ronnie James Dio (vocals) and Vinny Appice (drums) departed. They were replaced by former Sabbath vocalist Tony Martin and former Rainbow drummer Bobby Rondinelli. Geezer Butler remained with the group, although he would depart later in the year again before the recording of the Forbidden album. Rondinelli left the recording sessions for Quiet Riot's album "Terrified" to join Black Sabbath. The song "Cardinal Sin" was originally intended to be titled "Sin Cardinal Sin" (or "Sin, Cardinal Sin") but a printing error on the album sleeve caused the first word to be removed. Sabbath simply adopted the title "Cardinal Sin" as the name of the song.
Forbidden is the eighteenth studio album by English rock band Black Sabbath, released in June 1995. This recording saw the reunion of Black Sabbath's Tyr-era line-up from 1990, with the return of Neil Murray and Cozy Powell. It was the last album to feature Tony Martin on vocals, Geoff Nicholls on keyboards, and the last by the band until 2013 when Ozzy Osbourne and Geezer Butler returned for the album 13. The album sold 21,000 copies in the U.S in its first week and as of 2013, Forbidden has sold 191,000 copies in the US. The album received a generally negative response from critics and fans alike. After its release, the band underwent several line-up changes and found itself at a career crossroads. However, original Black Sabbath vocalist Ozzy Osbourne would reconcile with guitarist Tony Iommi not long afterwards.
13 is the nineteenth and final studio album by English rock band Black Sabbath. It was released on 10 June 2013 through Vertigo Records, acting as their first studio album in 18 years, following Forbidden (1995). It was the band's first studio recording with original singer Ozzy Osbourne and bassist Geezer Butler since the live album Reunion (1998), which contained two new studio tracks. It was also the first studio album with Osbourne since Never Say Die! (1978), and with Butler since Cross Purposes (1994). Black Sabbath's original line-up first began work on a new studio album in 2001 with producer Rick Rubin. The album's development was delayed over a 10-year period, as Osbourne resumed his solo career while the rest of the band members went on to pursue other projects, including GZR and Heaven & Hell. When Black Sabbath announced the end of its hiatus on 11 November 2011, the band announced that they would restart work on a new album with Rubin. In addition to original members Osbourne, Butler and guitarist Tony Iommi, the band was joined at the recording sessions by drummer Brad Wilk, of Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave, following original drummer Bill Ward's decision to not participate in the reunion, due to a "contractual dispute."
MIKE OLDFIELD - The First Four (1973/78)
Composer, multi-instrumentalist, and producer Mike Oldfield rose to global fame on the success of Tubular Bells, an eerie, album-length conceptual piece employed to stunning effect in William Friedkin's 1973 film The Exorcist; it has since sold some 15 million copies and become an indelible entry in the history of popular instrumental music. Oldfield enjoys a special place in pop history not only for his most famous composition, but as a bridge between prog-rock, new age, mainstream pop, and cinematic music. His other '70s recordings (Hergest Ridge, Ommadawn, Incantations) are widely considered prog-rock classics, comprised of sounds ranging from Celtic folk and guitar rock to jazz, spidery funk, and neo-classical. In addition to Tubular Bells, Oldfield's music has been widely used in films. He composed the Golden Globe-nominated score for Roland Joffe's Oscar-winning The Killing Fields in 1984, while selections from his other recordings have been used in feature films, on television programs, and in video-game soundtracks. While he pursued a direction that elucidated itself via pop during the '80s and '90s, his progressive rock and jazz leanings returned in the 21st century on albums such as Return to Ommadawn. In addition to his own recordings, Oldfield is a prolific session player and arranger. He has worked extensively with Kevin Ayers, David Bedford, Pierre Moerlin's Gong, Robert Wyatt, sister Sally Oldfield, Michel Polnareff, and many more.
Tubular Bells, originally dubbed Opus 1, grew out of studio time gifted him by Richard Branson, who at the time was running a mail-order record retail service. After its completion, Oldfield shopped the record to a series of labels, only to meet with rejection; frustrated, Branson decided to found his own label, and in 1973, Tubular Bells became the inaugural release of Virgin Records. An atmospheric, intricate composition that fused rock and folk motifs with the structures of minimalist composition, the 49-minute instrumental piece (performed on close to 30 different instruments, virtually all of them played by Oldfield himself) spent months in the number one spot on the U.K. charts, and eventually sold over 16 million copies globally. In addition to almost single-handedly establishing Virgin as one of the most important labels in the record industry, Tubular Bells also created a market for what would later be dubbed new age music, and won a Grammy for Best Instrumental Composition in 1974. The follow-up, 1974's Hergest Ridge (named after Oldfield's retreat in a remote area of Herefordshire) also proved phenomenally successful, and dislodged Tubular Bells at the top of the British chart. With 1975's Ommadawn, he explored ambient textures and world music; however, the emergence of punk left Oldfield baffled, and he retreated from sight for three years following the LP's release.
He resurfaced with 1978's Incantations. Platinum, issued a year later, kept its eye on the clubs, and featured a dance version of the Philip Glass composition "North Star." With 1980's QE2, Oldfield moved completely away from his epic-length pieces and traveled into pop territory, a shift typified by the album's cover of ABBA's "Arrival." He continued in a pop vein for much of the '80s, as albums like 1983's Crises, 1984's Discovery, and 1987's Islands encroached further and further upon mainstream accessibility. In 1992, Oldfield teamed with producer Trevor Horn for Tubular Bells II, which returned him to the top of the U.K. charts. The Songs of Distant Earth appeared two years later, followed by a third Tubular Bells update in 1998. In 2003, Oldfield re-recorded Tubular Bells in celebration of its 30th anniversary, with John Cleese as master of ceremonies replacing the late Vivian Stanshall; the album was issued as a two-disc set including a video disc. Light + Shade, a double-disc conceptual work of new studio material, appeared in 2006. An album-length classically influenced piece, Music of the Spheres, a work deeply influenced by classical music, appeared in 2008, followed by a live offering. After a four-year break from his own work, Oldfield reentered the studio and began working on a return to pop/rock-influenced music. In early 2014 he emerged with Man on the Rocks. Its critical reception was the best he'd received since the '90s and it charted all over Western and Eastern Europe. Two years later, alongside the re-release of remastered scores from 1984, he issued the vinyl-only The 1984 Suite, which remixed highlights from Discovery and The Killing Fields. In late 2015, Oldfield announced via Twitter that he had begun to work on a sequel to 1975's Ommadawn. He completed it the following November. Containing two tracks simply titled "Part I" and Part II," the composer described it as "handmade... a genuine piece of music rather than production: hands, fingers, fingernails." It features 22 instruments including mandolin, guitars, acoustic bass, bodhran, African drums, and tin whistle. Its lone sample is from a line by the children's choir in the 1975 song "On Horseback." Return to Ommadawn was released in January 2017.
STEVE HACKETT - Surrender Of Silence (2021)
'Surrender of Silence’ is the brand-new studio album from legendary guitarist Steve Hackett. As with his acoustic album from earlier this year, this too was recorded during lockdown and involving several musicians and singers contributing from around the world. “Lockdown cobwebs are blown away in one fell-swoop here”, says Steve… “With the monster rhythm section of Jonas Reingold, Craig Blundell, Nick D’Virgilio and Phil Ehart along with Rob Townsend’s soaring sax and bass clarinet, Nad Sylvan, Amanda Lehmann and myself on vocals, Roger King’s darkly powerful organ and my guitar, we plunge full-pelt into that wild release of energy”… “Alongside the heaviness is that constant need to explore and blast through boundaries. We’re starting to embrace life again. We can’t travel everywhere just yet, but this album travels around the world from the Far East to Africa, with the beautiful vocals of Amanda plus Lorelei and Durga McBroom, Ubaidulloev Sodikhorn’s extraordinary dutar and Malik Mansurov’s exotic tar… all bound together with Roger’s beautiful orchestral textures, highlighted by Christine Towsnend’s sublime violin and viola.”
GILBERT O'SULLIVAN - The First Four (1971/74)
Gilbert O'Sullivan is an Irish singer-songwriter who achieved his most significant success during the early 1970s with hits including "Alone Again (Naturally)", "Clair", and "Get Down". O'Sullivan's songs are often marked by his distinctive, percussive piano playing style and observational lyrics using word play. Born in Waterford, Ireland, O'Sullivan settled in Swindon, England, as a child. In 1967, O'Sullivan began pursuing a career in music. Worldwide, he has charted 16 top 40 records including six No. 1 songs, the first of which was 1970's "Nothing Rhymed". Across his career, he has recorded 19 studio albums, up to his UK top 20 self-titled record in 2018. The music magazine Record Mirror voted him the top UK male singer of 1972. He has received three Ivor Novello Awards, including “Songwriter of the Year” in 1973.
Himself is the debut album by Irish singer-songwriter Gilbert O'Sullivan, first released in the United Kingdom in August 1971 by MAM Records, following the success of the Top 10 hit "Nothing Rhymed", which features on the album. It was produced by Gordon Mills, whom O'Sullivan had contacted after failing to achieve success for three years. The album was originally conceived by O'Sullivan to feature only his voice and piano playing, until Mills persuaded him to use full instrumentation and arrangements by Johnnie Spence. Mills also aided O'Sullivan with his songwriting, which incorporates an observational style and word play, the usage of the latter being influenced by Spike Milligan. Upon release, Himself was a commercial success in the UK, reaching No. 5 on the UK Albums Chart.
I'm a Writer, Not a Fighter is the third studio album by Irish singer-songwriter Gilbert O'Sullivan, originally released by MAM Records in September 1973. After becoming one of the most successful performers worldwide in 1972, O'Sullivan pursued new directions with the album, taking influence from rock music and funk and incorporating an array of then-new electric keyboards, as well as emphasizing a new rhythmical focus. The album was recorded "on and off" with producer Gordon Mills at the latter's studio, and although several overdubs were recorded in the United States, O'Sullivan referred to the album as an ultimately "very ad hock home based" project. The funk-influenced single "Ooh Baby" failed to make the UK top 10 and marked the start of the singer's decline in popularity, while the album itself reached number 2 on the UK Albums Chart, and although it spent 25 weeks on the chart, this was less than its predecessors.
Back to Front is the second studio album by Irish singer-songwriter Gilbert O'Sullivan, released in October 1972 by MAM Records. The album follows the success of his 1971 debut album Himself and singles such as "Alone Again (Naturally)". Coinciding with the album, O'Sullivan abandoned his distinctive dress sense, which included a short cap and trousers, and instead presented himself as a more masculine, hairy-chested singer with a perm, wearing sweaters with the letter "G" emblazoned on them, which helped establish him as a sex symbol. O'Sullivan wrote the album's songs at home during night-time writing sessions, and recorded the album with his manager and producer Gordon Mills in London. Upon release, Back to Front was a critical and commercial success, reaching number 1 on the UK Albums Chart and allowing O'Sullivan to become the era's best-selling British-based artist.
A Stranger in My Own Back Yard is the fourth studio album by British-Irish singer-songwriter Gilbert O'Sullivan, originally released in October 1974 by MAM Records. Peaking at number 9 on the UK Albums Chart, it was O'Sullivan's fourth and, to date, final top ten album, although it received positive reviews from critics. After the funk-inflected I'm a Writer, Not a Fighter, A Stranger in My Own Back Yard marked a return to the style of O'Sullivan's first two albums. The album's only single, "A Woman's Place", was O'Sullivan's first since his breakthrough to miss the top 40 of the UK Singles Chart. Union Square Music reissued the album on the Salvo label in 2012 as part of the Gilbert O'Sullivan - A Singer & His Songs collection.
IRON MAIDEN - Senjutsu (2021)
In recent years Iron Maiden have gone through a remarkable creative renaissance. Typified by epic prog-leaning arrangements and ambitious melodic dynamism, modern era Maiden – of which Senjutsu is a prime example – is eccentric, bombastic heavy metal at its finest. The band (one of the most notoriously tight-lipped camps in metal) recorded Senjutsu in early 2019 during a break in their Legacy of the Beast tour, managing to keep it under wraps throughout the pandemic. Their second double album, Senjutsu is as ambitious and heavy as its predecessor (2015’s The Book of Souls), but tempered by a more windswept, melancholic vibe, alongside some of their most fiendishly complex melodies to date. It opens with the title track, an ominous tribal drum pattern giving way to a soaring mid-tempo rocker. Bruce Dickinson’s voice has taken on a pleasingly oaken quality with age, powerful bass notes accentuated as he sings of the last, bloody days of a fantastical empire. The Writing on the Wall is a first for Maiden - an easygoing, southern rock-inflected groove – while Lost in a Lost World opens with gentle acoustic strumming and some wobbly Planet Caravan-esque vocal reverb before settling on a capering lead riff. Indeed, this folksy, playful element (primary songwriter Steve Harris is a big Jethro Tull fan) appears throughout Senjutsu; the album has a palpably ancient bearing that calls to mind castle barricades, mud-caked peasants and heroic derring-do. The wonderfully overblown Death of the Celts - a 10-minute epic that takes in acoustic finger picking, trademark gallop and a lyric discussing ancient battle topography - is a case in point, teetering thrillingly just on the edge of high-camp Spinal Tap absurdity; album closer Hell on Earth, meanwhile, traverses darker emotional waters. This is stunning escape-velocity songwriting that proves - yet again - that Maiden’s true golden age is their current one.
RINGO STARR - The First Four (1970/74)
Sentimental Journey is the debut album by English rock musician Ringo Starr. It was released by Apple Records in March 1970 as the Beatles were breaking up. The album is a collection of pre-rock 'n' roll standards that Starr recalled from his childhood in Liverpool. As a departure from the experimental quality that had characterised solo LPs by George Harrison and John Lennon since 1968, it was the first studio album by an individual Beatle to embrace a popular music form. Starr began recording Sentimental Journey in London in October 1969, in response to Lennon's private announcement that he was leaving the Beatles. He recruited George Martin to produce the sessions and used different musical arrangers for each song. Starr made a promotional film for the song "Sentimental Journey", in which he performed with an orchestra and dancers at the Talk of the Town nightclub. The cover of the album shows Starr in front of a pub in the Dingle area of Liverpool, where he grew up. The album's impact was compromised by Paul McCartney's refusal to delay the release of his solo debut, McCartney, and by McCartney then initiating the group's break-up. Despite receiving mixed reviews from music critics and confusing Beatles fans through its choice of music, Sentimental Journey charted inside the top ten in the United Kingdom and peaked at number 22 on the Billboard Top LPs chart in the United States. The album was a forerunner to standards collections by artists such as Harry Nilsson and Linda Ronstadt, and to the vogue from the late 1990s onwards for rock artists such as Bryan Ferry, Rod Stewart and Boz Scaggs to embrace big band music.
Beaucoups of Blues is the second studio album by the English rock musician and former Beatle Ringo Starr. It was released in September 1970, five months after his debut solo album, Sentimental Journey. Beaucoups of Blues is very far removed in style from its pop-based predecessor, relying on country and western influences. A longtime fan of the genre, Starr recorded the album over three days in Nashville with producer Pete Drake and an ensemble of local session players. Beaucoups of Blues failed to chart in Britain but achieved moderate commercial success in the United States, where it reached number 35 on Billboard's Country Albums list and number 65 on the Billboard Top LPs chart.
Ringo is the third studio album by English musician Ringo Starr, released in 1973 on Apple Records. It peaked at No. 7 on the UK Albums Chart and No. 2 on the Billboard 200, and has been certified platinum by the RIAA. In Canada, it reached No. 1 on the RPM national albums chart. The album is noted for the participation of all four former Beatles, and for its numerous guest stars, something which would become a signature for Starr on many of his subsequent albums and tours.
Goodnight Vienna is the fourth studio album by Ringo Starr. It was recorded in the summer of 1974 in Los Angeles, and released later that year. Goodnight Vienna followed the commercially successful predecessor Ringo, and Starr used many of the same players, including Billy Preston, Klaus Voormann, Robbie Robertson, Harry Nilsson, and producer Richard Perry. The title is a Liverpool slang phrase meaning "it's all over". While all three other former Beatles had contributed to Ringo (1973), only John Lennon contributed to Goodnight Vienna. On 17 June 1974, Starr called Lennon, who was about to record his Walls and Bridges album, and asked him to write a song he could include on his next album. Lennon wrote what became the title track, "Goodnight Vienna". A demo of "(It's All Down to) Goodnight Vienna" was recorded by Lennon on 28 June, with the session musicians from Walls & Bridges and sent to Starr in advance of the sessions. Besides writing and playing piano on the title track, Lennon suggested Starr cover The Platters' hit "Only You (And You Alone)" playing acoustic guitar and providing a guide vocal for Starr to follow. Starr's versions of both "Only You (And You Alone)" and "(It's All Down to) Goodnight Vienna" were recorded at a session produced by Lennon. Elton John also contributed a track, "Snookeroo", co-written with Bernie Taupin. Harry Nilsson gave Starr the track "Easy for Me", which he later recorded his own version of for his Duit on Mon Dei album.
GEORGE HARRISON - The Apple Years 1968-75 (2014)
In November 1968, George Harrison released 'Wonderwall Music'. A soundtrack to an art film called 'Wonderwall' this predominantly Indian music collection was the first solo album to be released by a Beatle and also the first album on the newly formed Apple Records. George would continue to release albums on Apple (and EMI) through to 1975's soul-influenced 'Extra Texture (Read All About It)' touching on experimentalism with 'Electronic Sound', the magnificent triple album 'All Things Must Pass', the chart-topping 'Living In The Material World' and the, perhaps, less well-known 'Dark Horse'. This box brings all these eclectic albums together in one set that mirrors 2004's 'Dark Horse Years' box set and will contain a perfect bound book with a DVD. All albums have been remastered by Dhani Harrison and Paul Hicks and all will be packaged in high-quality card packs and all albums, apart from 'All Things Must Pass' and 'Living In The Material World' contain newly written notes by Kevin Howlett. The DVD contains a brand new, never before seen video which has been painstakingly overseen by Olivia Harrison and all packages contain new photos many never seen before.
The Apple Years 1968-1975 brings together George Harrison’s first six solo albums on The Beatles’ Apple Records label, digitally remastered from the original analogue masters for CD and digital release.
GEORGE HARRISON - The Dark Horse Years 1976-1992 (2004)
George Harrison's albums for Dark Horse drifted out of print in the late '90s as his contract with Warner Brothers expired. Over the half-decade, they fetched high prices on the collector's market, as any relatively rare Beatles-related item does, and the demand for these records - along with the Traveling Wilburys albums, which were part of Harrison's Dark Horse/Warner contract - never diminished. At the time of his death in November 2001, the albums were being prepared for reissue, but his passing delayed them for a few more years, and it wasn't until February 2004 that the albums - Thirty Three & 1/3 (1976), George Harrison (1979), Somewhere In England (1981), Gone Troppo (1982), Cloud Nine (1987), and Live in Japan (1992) - were reissued, both individually and as part of the lavish box set Dark Horse Years 1976-1992. All five of the studio albums have been remastered and are graced with a bonus track or two, while the double-live set has been reissued as a hybrid SACD with a 5.1 surround mix (a nice gesture, but it does raise the question of why wasn't the entire set released as hybrid SACD, the way the 2002 Rolling Stones and 2003 Bob Dylan reissues were). In addition, the box set contains an exclusive booklet and a DVD containing video highlights of the Dark Horse years. It seems like the box would be the definitive word on Harrison's latter-day career, and it very nearly is, but it comes short in a couple of ways. First, there is the aforementioned puzzling decision to release only one SACD in the set, which only highlights the fact that the rest of the discs are standard CDs (which do have very good remastering). Second, the bonus tracks are underwhelming. With the exception of Cloud Nine, which has two songs from the Shanghai Surprise soundtrack, there's only one bonus track per disc, and with the exception of Thirty Three & 1/3, which has the fine "Tears of the World," a demo of a song that's on the album. Harrison has a lot of unreleased material in the vault - Somewhere In England is notorious for being reworked on Warner's request, so at the very least the excised songs could have been featured on this reissue - so it's a disappointment that there's not more bonus material here. Third, the DVD isn't nearly as complete as it should have been, containing a ten-minute "Dark Horse Feature," some selections from the Live in Japan video, and the Shanghai Surprise movie, plus seven promotional videos, all prefaced with interview excerpts from Harrison. While the featurette would have been much more interesting if it was expanded to a full documentary, the real disappointment is that this doesn't contain all of Harrison's promotional music videos, with such gems as the lovely "Blow Away" missing in action (some may also wish that the videos had been mixed for 5.1 sound as well). Considering the steep price of the box set, it's hard not to think that this DVD could have been a little bit more thorough. That said, the box set is very well made: the art direction is lovely, the sound is terrific, and the hardcover minibook is beautiful, with good notes from David Fricke. All of this makes it an essential purchase for Harrison fans, who have already accepted the uneven quality of the albums and want them in their collection anyway.
B.B. KING - Milestones Of A Blues Legend (2015)
Universally hailed as the king of the blues, the legendary B.B. King was without a doubt the single most important electric guitarist of the last half of the 20th century. His bent notes and staccato picking style influenced legions of contemporary bluesmen, while his gritty and confident voice -- capable of wringing every nuance from any lyric -- provided a worthy match for his passionate playing. Between 1951 and 1985, King notched an impressive 74 entries on Billboard's R&B charts, and he was one of the few full-fledged blues artists to score a major pop hit when his 1970 smash "The Thrill Is Gone" crossed over to mainstream success (engendering memorable appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and American Bandstand). After his hit-making days, he partnered with such musicians as Eric Clapton and U2 and managed his own acclaimed solo ...
10 CD set containing ten original albums plus bonus tracks by the blues legend B.B. King. It's a unique collection of hits and rarities from 1949 to 1962. The rare LP 'Twist with B.B. King' is appearing here for the first time on CD.
RICHIE FURAY - The First Three... (1976/79)
Richie Furay started his musical career playing folk clubs as a solo artist in the 1960s, as well as with bands like the Monks and the Au Go Go Singers (which included Stephen Stills in the lineup). After meeting Neil Young they formed Buffalo Springfield with Bruce Palmer and Dewey Martin. The band cut its first album, Buffalo Springfield, in 1967; it included the single "For What It's Worth." Buffalo Springfield recorded two more albums - Buffalo Springfield Again and Last Time Around - before disbanding in 1968. Furay and Jim Messina (who had replaced Palmer in the Springfield) formed a new band, Poco, with steel guitar player Rusty Young, George Grantham (ex-Boenzee Cryque), and Randy Meisner (ex-Poor). Poco recorded its first album, Pickin' Up the Pieces, and Meisner quit soon afterward. The band continued as a quartet, building a reputation at the Troubadour. Timothy B. Schmit was added as their second album, Poco, was released. After Poco's third album, Deliverin', Messina quit and was replaced by Paul Cotton (ex-Illinois Speed Press). Poco went on to cut albums such as From the Inside, A Good Feelin' to Know, and Crazy Eyes before Furay left.
At David Geffen's request, Furay formed the Souther-Hillman-Furay Band with Chris Hillman (ex-Byrds) and J.D. Souther. The band split after two unsuccessful albums in 1974 and 1975. Furay then converted to Christianity and formed the Richie Furay Band, a Christian group featuring Jay Truax, John Mehler (ex-Love Song), and Tom Stipe. After two albums - Dance a Little Light and I Still Have Dreams - the band recorded Seasons of Change for Myrrh Records, Furay's first album for a Christian label. Furay became a minister in Colorado and continued singing and recording. He rejoined Poco in 1990 for their comeback album, Legacy, which included the hit single "Call It Love." In 1997, Furay recorded his fifth solo album, In My Father's House, for the Christian Calvary Chapel label. The Christian-themed I Am Sure followed on the Friday Music label in 2005, while also signaling that Furay remained a country-rocker who maintained his old connections -- the album featured appearances by the likes of Rusty Young (who had also played on In My Father's House), Jim Messina, Paul Cotton, and Chris Hillman. Released in 2006, Heartbeat of Love kept the country-rock flame burning and included contributions from Steven Stills and Neil Young. The Richie Furay Band’s two-disc Alive set -- recorded on tour in Colorado -- arrived in 2009. Furay has also made selected live appearances (along with other Poco alumni) with the post-millennial incarnation of Poco led by original bandmember Rusty Young (and also featuring Paul Cotton until March 2010). Furay, Young and Stills finally reunited as Buffalo Springfield for a pair of shows at Young's annual Bridge School Benefit in the fall of 2010. It wasn't a complete reunion, since bassist Bruce Palmer had died in 2004 and drummer Dewey Martin passed in 2009, but the three singers used drummer Joe Vitale and bassist Rick Rosas to fill in. The same configuration played six concerts in the spring of 2011, but reportedly did no studio work.
BOB DYLAN - The First Four... (1962/64)
Bob Dylan is the debut studio album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released on March 19, 1962 by Columbia Records. The album was produced by Columbia's legendary talent scout John H. Hammond, who had earlier signed Dylan to the label, a decision which was at the time controversial. The album primarily features folk standards, but also includes two original compositions, "Talkin' New York" and "Song to Woody". The latter was an ode to Woody Guthrie, a major influence in Dylan's early career. The album did not initially receive much attention, but it achieved some popularity following the growth of Dylan's career, charting in the UK three years after its release, reaching #13.
The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan is the second studio album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released on May 27, 1963 by Columbia Records. Whereas his self-titled debut album Bob Dylan had contained only two original songs, this album represented the beginning of Dylan's writing contemporary words to traditional melodies. Eleven of the thirteen songs on the album are Dylan's original compositions. It opens with "Blowin' in the Wind", which became an anthem of the 1960s, and an international hit for folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary soon after the release of the album. The album featured several other songs which came to be regarded as among Dylan's best compositions and classics of the 1960s folk scene: "Girl from the North Country", "Masters of War", "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall" and "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right". Dylan's lyrics embraced news stories drawn from headlines about the Civil Rights Movement and he articulated anxieties about the fear of nuclear warfare. Balancing this political material were love songs, sometimes bitter and accusatory, and material that features surreal humor. Freewheelin' showcased Dylan's songwriting talent for the first time, propelling him to national and international fame. The success of the album and Dylan's subsequent recognition led to his being named as "Spokesman of a Generation", a label Dylan repudiated. The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan reached number 22 in the US (eventually going platinum), and became a number-one album in the UK in 1965. In 2003, the album was ranked number 97 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
The Times They Are a-Changin' is the third studio album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released on January 13, 1964 by Columbia Records. Whereas his previous albums Bob Dylan and The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan consisted of original material among cover songs, Dylan's third album was the first to feature only original compositions. The album consists mostly of stark, sparsely arranged ballads concerning issues such as racism, poverty, and social change. The title track is one of Dylan's most famous; many feel that it captures the spirit of social and political upheaval that characterized the 1960s. Some critics and fans were not quite as taken with the album as a whole, relative to his previous work, for its lack of humor or musical diversity. Still, The Times They Are a-Changin' peaked at No. 20 on the US chart, eventually going gold, and belatedly reaching No. 4 in the UK in 1965.
Another Side of Bob Dylan is the fourth studio album by American singer and songwriter Bob Dylan, released on August 8, 1964, by Columbia Records. The album deviates from the more socially conscious style which Dylan had developed with his previous LP, The Times They Are A-Changin'. The change prompted criticism from some influential figures in the folk community – Sing Out! editor Irwin Silber complained that Dylan had "somehow lost touch with people" and was caught up in "the paraphernalia of fame". Despite the album's thematic shift, Dylan performed the entirety of Another Side of Bob Dylan as he had previous records – solo. In addition to his usual acoustic guitar and harmonica, Dylan provides piano on one selection, "Black Crow Blues". Another Side of Bob Dylan reached No. 43 in the US (although it eventually went gold), and peaked at No. 8 on the UK charts in 1965.
HEART - The First Four (1975/78)
Heart is an American rock band formed in 1967 in Seattle, Washington as The Army. Two years later, they changed their name to Hocus Pocus, then they changed their name again to White Heart a year later, and eventually changed the name a final time to Heart in 1973. By the mid-1970s, original members Roger Fisher (guitar) and Steve Fossen (bass guitar) had been joined by sisters Ann Wilson (lead vocals and flute) and Nancy Wilson (rhythm guitar, backing and occasional lead vocals), Michael Derosier (drums), and Howard Leese (guitar and keyboards) to form the lineup for the band's initial mid- to late-1970s success period. These core members were included in the band's 2013 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Heart rose to fame with music influenced by hard rock and heavy metal, as well as folk music. The band's popularity declined in the early 1980s, and the band began a successful comeback in 1985 which continued into the mid-1990s. Heart disbanded in 1998, resumed performing in 2002, went on hiatus in 2016, and resumed performing in the summer of 2019. Heart's US Top 40 singles include "Magic Man" (1975), "Crazy on You" (1976), "Barracuda" (1977), "What About Love" (1985), "Never" (1985), and "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You" (1990), along with no. 1 hits "These Dreams" (1986) and "Alone" (1987). Heart has sold over 35 million records worldwide, including approximately 22.5 million albums in the United States. They have placed top 10 albums on the Billboard 200 in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990 and 2010s. Heart was ranked number 57 on VH1's "100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock" and ranked number 49 on Ultimate Classic Rock's Top 100 Classic Rock Artists.
Dreamboat Annie is the debut studio album by American rock band Heart. At the time, the band was based in Vancouver, British Columbia; the album was recorded in Vancouver and first released in Canada by the local label Mushroom Records in September 1975 eventually reaching number 20 on the RPM Album Chart and being certified double platinum in sales. It was released in the United States on February 14, 1976, through the US subsidiary of Mushroom Records in Los Angeles, peaking at number 7 on the Billboard Album Chart. It also made the top ten in the Netherlands and Australia in early 1977. The album contains three commercially successful singles, two of which, "Crazy on You" and "Magic Man", became staples on North American FM radio. Producer Mike Flicker helped the group to polish their sound and obtain a recording contract with the label.
Magazine is the second studio album by American rock band Heart. It was originally released on April 19, 1977, by Mushroom Records in unfinished form, without the band's permission. A second authorized version of the album was released on April 22, 1978. The album has been certified platinum in both the United States and Canada.
Little Queen is the third studio album by American rock band Heart. It was released on May 14, 1977, by Portrait Records. The album was recorded and mixed at Kaye-Smith Studios in Seattle, Washington, from February to April 1977. On June 29, 2004, a remastered version of Little Queen was released by Epic Records and Legacy Recordings with two bonus tracks. The group intended Magazine to be the official follow-up to their debut album Dreamboat Annie. However, a contract dispute with their label, Mushroom Records, resulted in the group signing with the newly formed Portrait Records, a division of CBS Records (now Sony BMG). The Mushroom contract called for two albums, and the label took the position that they were owed a second one. On that basis, Mushroom attempted to prevent the release of Little Queen and any other work by Heart. They took the five unfinished tracks for Magazine and added a B-side and two live recordings. The first release of the album in April 1977 included a disclaimer on the back cover.
Dog & Butterfly is the fourth studio album by American rock band Heart, released on October 7, 1978, by Portrait Records, following a legal dispute with Mushroom Records over the release of the band's second studio album, Magazine, in April 1978. Dog & Butterfly peaked at number 17 on the US Billboard 200 and has been certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The album spawned the singles "Straight On" and "Dog & Butterfly". As Heart themselves noted on the album's release, side one was the Dog side, and was the more "rocking" compared to the Butterfly side two, which consisted mostly of ballads, with the exception of the closer "Mistral Wind". Though the first song, "Cook with Fire", sounds like a live recording, the liner notes to the 2004 CD reissue state that it was actually recorded at Sea-West Studios along with the rest of the album. Audience sounds from a live performance were overdubbed on the studio recording.
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