PATTI SMITH - The First Four... (1975/79)
Patti Smith is an American singer, songwriter, poet, painter and author who became an influential component of the New York City punk rock movement with her 1975 debut album Horses. Called the "punk poet laureate", Smith fused rock and poetry in her work. Her most widely known song is "Because the Night", which was co-written with Bruce Springsteen. It reached number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1978 and number five in the U.K. In 2005, Smith was named a Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture. In 2007, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. On November 17, 2010, Smith won the National Book Award for her memoir Just Kids. The book fulfilled a promise she had made to her former long-time partner, Robert Mapplethorpe. She placed 47th in Rolling Stone magazine's list of 100 Greatest Artists published in December 2010 and was also a recipient of the 2011 Polar Music Prize.
Horses [30th Anniversary Legacy Edition] (1975): It isn't hard to make the case for Patti Smith as a punk rock progenitor based on her debut album, which anticipated the new wave by a year or so: the simple, crudely played rock & roll, featuring Lenny Kaye's rudimentary guitar work, the anarchic spirit of Smith's vocals, and the emotional and imaginative nature of her lyrics all prefigure the coming movement as it evolved on both sides of the Atlantic. Smith is a rock critic's dream, a poet as steeped in '60s garage rock as she is in French Symbolism; "Land" carries on from the Doors' "The End," marking her as a successor to Jim Morrison, while the borrowed choruses of "Gloria" and "Land of a Thousand Dances" are more in tune with the era of sampling than they were in the '70s. Producer John Cale respected Smith's primitivism in a way that later producers did not, and the loose, improvisatory song structures worked with her free verse to create something like a new spoken word/musical art form: Horses was a hybrid, the sound of a post-Beat poet, as she put it, "dancing around to the simple rock & roll song."
Radio Ethiopia (1976): After the success of Horses, Patti Smith had something to prove to reviewers and to the industry, and Radio Ethiopia aimed at both. Producer Jack Douglas gave "the Patti Smith Group," as it was now billed, a hard rock sound, notably on the side-opening "Ask the Angels" and "Pumping (My Heart)," songs that seemed aimed at album-oriented rock radio. But the title track was a ten-minute guitar extravaganza that pushed the group's deliberate primitivism closer to amateurish thrashing. Elsewhere, Smith repeated the reggae excursions and vocal overlaying that had paced Horses on "Ain't It Strange" and "Poppies," but these efforts were less effective than they had been the first time around, perhaps because they were less inspired, perhaps because they were more familiar. A schizophrenic album in which the many elements that had worked so well together on Horses now seemed jarringly incompatible, with Radio Ethiopia Smith and her band encountered the same development problem the punks would as they learned their craft and competence set in, they lost some of the unself-consciousness that had made their music so appealing.
Easter (1978): Patti Smith came back from the year-and-a-half break caused by her fall from a stage in January 1977 without having resolved the art-versus-commerce argument that had marred her second album, Radio Ethiopia. In fact, that argument was in some ways the theme of her third. Easter, produced by Bruce Springsteen associate Jimmy Iovine, was Smith's most commercial-sounding effort yet and, due to the inclusion of Springsteen's "Because the Night" (with Smith's revised lyrics), a Top Ten hit, it became her biggest seller, staying in the charts more than five months and getting into the Top 20 LPs. But Smith hadn't so much sold out as she had learned to use her poetic gifts within an album rock context. Certainly, a song that proclaimed, "Love is an angel disguised as lust/Here in our bed until the morning comes," was pushing the limits of pop radio, and on "Babelogue," Smith returned to her days of declaiming poetry on New York's Lower East Side. That rant (significantly ending, "I have not sold my soul to God") led into the provocative "Rock n Roll Nigger," a charged rocker with a chorus that went, "Outside of society/Is where I want to be." Smith made the theme from the '60s British rock movie Privilege her own and even got into the U.K. charts with it. And on songs like "25th Floor," Iovine, Smith, and her group were able to accommodate both the urge to rock out and the need to expound. So, Easter turned out to be the best compromise Smith achieved between her artistic and commercial aspirations.
Wave (1979): The Patti Smith Group's most conventional album, Wave was given a bright pop/rock sound by producer Todd Rundgren. It was the last album Smith made before marrying and retiring from record-making for nine years, and it can be heard as a farewell to the music business, from "Frederick," the love song to her husband-to-be, Fred "Sonic" Smith, that leads it off, to the version of "So You Want to Be (A Rock 'n' Roll Star)," among the most bitter accounts of fame on record. But Smith also achieves a sense of charm and sincerity on Wave that she hadn't even attempted on her earlier albums, even to the point of her imagined small-talk encounter with the late Pope John Paul I on the title track. Still, the overall mediocre quality of the material makes this the slightest of Smith's efforts.
THE BAND - Rock of Ages (1972) 
Released on the heels of the stilted, static Cahoots, the double LP-album Rock of Ages occupies a curious yet important place in Band history. Recorded at a spectacular New Years Eve 1971 gig, the show and album were intended to be a farewell of sorts before the Band took an extended break in 1972, but it turned out to be a last hurrah in many different ways, closing the chapter on the first stage of their career, when they were among the biggest and most important rock & roll bands. That sense of importance had started to creep into their music, turning their studio albums after The Band into self-conscious affairs, and even the wildly acclaimed first two albums seemed to float out of time, existing in a sphere of their own and never having the kick of a rock & roll band. Rock of Ages has that kick in spades, and it captures that road warrior side of the band that was yet unheard on record. Since this band -- or more accurately its leader, Robbie Robertson -- was acutely aware of image and myth, this record didn't merely capture an everyday gig, it captured a spectacular, in retrospect almost a dry run for the legendary Last Waltz. New Orleans R&B legend Allen Toussaint was hired to write horn charts and conduct them, helping to open up the familiar tunes, which in turn helped turn this music into a warm, loose, big-hearted party. And that's what's so splendid about Rock of Ages: sure, the tightness of the Band as a performing unit is on display, but there's also a wild, rowdy heart pumping away in the backbeat of this music, something that the otherwise superb studio albums do not have. Simply put, this is a joy to hear, which may have been especially true after the dour, messy Cahoots, but even stripped of that context Rock of Ages has a spirit quite unlike any other Band album. Indeed, it could be argued that it captured the spirit of the Band at the time in a way none of their other albums do.
ZZ TOP - RAW ['That Little Ol' Band From Texas' Original Soundtrack] (2022)
ZZ Top have released a new album titled RAW, with classic tracks recorded in connection with the band’s 2019 Netflix documentary That Little Ol’ Band From Texas. The Grammy-nominated feature from Banger Films and director Sam Dunn includes an interlude that finds the group’s classic line up—Billy Gibbons, Frank Beard and the late Dusty Hill—gathering for an intimate session at Gruene Hall, “the oldest continually run dance hall in Texas.”
Gibbons explained, “The director suggested we find a way to illustrate the early style from the start of our five plus decades run. Gruene Hall was selected as a fitting backdrop to replicate the look of the band’s very beginnings. When we arrived, we were surprised to see that all our gear had been transported there so, as cameras rolled, we picked up the instruments and commenced an unplanned jam session. Fortunately, our stage engineers were on hand with tape machines in place to capture the performances that went down. That became, in essence, the soundtrack to the film and now it’s also an audio document of ZZ Top’s early beginnings. RAW comes via Shelter Records/BMG on 180-gram vinyl, CD and through digital platforms and is dedicated “In righteous memory of Dusty Hill.” The liner notes were written by Gibbons and Beard.
MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP - Immortal (2021) & Universal (2022)
Immortal (2021) is the first MSG studio album since In the Midst of Beauty (2008). It looked like Schenker had moved on. The new album might be the first MSG album in 13 years, but Schenker has kept himself busy with side projects Schenker’s Temple of Rock (2011-2016) and Michael Schenker Fest (2017-2020). MSF may have been MSG in all but name, as it saw Schenker reunite with former MSG vocalists Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet, Robin McAuley and Doogie White for a celebration of all eras of Schenker’s main band. Ronnie Romero also guested on a track on the previous MSF album, which gives a continuity as he is now the main vocalist on the new album. Immortal establishes MSG as a band with a core line-up again, consisting of Romero (vocals), Barry Sparks (bass) Bodo Schopf (drums), Steve Mann (keyboards), but just like in the MSF project, there’s room for friends and guests to appear. The album features additional lead vocal contributions from Joe Lynn Turner, Ralf Scheepers, and Michael Voss, who all gets two songs each. Robin McAuley and Gary Barden appear with Romero on the final song of the album. Musical guests are Simon Philips (drums), Derek Sherenian (keys), and Brian Tichy (drums).
Universal (2022) - 11 new songs from the German guitar legend, Michael Schenker, this time with Ronnie Romero (Rainbow, Vandenberg) as main vocalist. In addition, countless other brilliant musicians have been involved in the making of the new album; guest singers Michael Kiske (Helloween), Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear), Graham Bonnet (ex-Rainbow), drummers Simon Phillips (Toto, The Who), Brian Tichy (Whitesnake, Foreigner), Bobby Rondinelli (Rainbow, Blue Öyster Cult) and Bodo Schopf (Eloy) + legendary bassists Bob Daisley (Black Sabbath), Barry Sparks (Malmsteen, Dokken) and Barend Courbois (Blind Guardian, Zakk Wylde), and Tony Carey has been involved as a very special guest.
STEVE MORSE BAND - The First Four... (1984/91)
Steve Morse has enjoyed a healthy following particularly among guitar players, he has scored highly in readers' polls held annually by musicians' magazines. Although initially inspired by the Beatles as a teen, Morse began to expand his listening to include the Yardbirds, Jimi Hendrix, and Led Zeppelin. Although he played a little piano and some clarinet, he became fascinated with guitar after seeing a concert by classical guitarist Juan Mercadal, who later gave the teenaged Morse some lessons. Deeply influenced by a campus performance by John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra while he was attending the University of Miami, Morse decided to focus on instrumental rock music; in 1974 he put together his first band, the Dixie Dregs (later simply the Dregs), which would go on to become one of the defining groups in the fusion genre. After Morse had fronted the Dregs on some 14 albums, the Steve Morse Band began their recording career in 1984. Soon after, Elektra Records snatched Morse up and he cut two albums for the label, The Introduction in 1984 and Stand Up in 1985, before joining Kansas and appearing on two of the arena prog band's albums for the MCA label, Power (1986) and In the Spirit of Things (1988).
After the 1983 breakup of the Dregs, Morse then formed the Steve Morse Band, a trio with bassist Jerry Peek and drummer Doug Morgan (formerly a member of Glass Moon). After the first tour of the eastern United States, Morgan left for previous commitments; the choice to replace Morgan was Rod Morgenstein. They began recording The Introduction in September. The group toured Germany in early 1984 with Morse conducting clinics, and the group was signed by Elektra Records, who released The Introduction mid-year. A second German tour began in December 1984 and Stand Up was released in 1985. This effort included guest vocalists and guitarists (Eric Johnson, Alex Ligertwood, Peter Frampton, Albert Lee, Van Temple), and violinist Mark O'Connor. He toured with Rush as a main opener on their Power Windows tour.
DIXIE DREGS - The First Four... (1977/80)
One of the top jazz-rock fusion ensembles ever, the Dixie Dregs combined virtuoso technique with eclecticism and a sense of humor and spirit too frequently lacking in similar projects. Guitarist Steve Morse and bassist Andy West played together as high-school students in Augusta, GA, in a conventional rock band called Dixie Grit. When Morse was expelled from school for refusing to cut his hair, he enrolled at the University of Miami School of Music, where he met violinist Allen Sloan, who had played with the Miami Philharmonic, and drummer Rod Morgenstein. The three decided to form a band, and Morse convinced West to come to Miami and join. The Dixie Dregs completed their lineup with keyboardist Steve Davidowski. Their demo album, The Great Spectacular, was recorded for a class project in 1975 and later released by the band (it is long out of print). Following graduation, the quintet began playing live around the South and got its break after opening for Sea Level on 1976, when a representative from Capricorn Records was impressed enough to sign the band. Mark Parrish, a former member of Dixie Grit, replaced Davidowski for their official debut, 1977's Free Fall.
Their follow-up, What If, proved to be one of their most artistically successful albums, and the Dixie Dregs played at the 1978 Montreux Jazz Festival with T Lavitz replacing Parrish. Half of Night of the Living Dregs contains excerpts from that concert. The group shortened its name to the Dregs for 1981's Unsung Heroes, and added both vocalists and three-time national fiddling champ Mark O'Connor, whose old-timey playing style added another dimension to the group's sound, for Industry Standard. The Dregs then disbanded; the highly respected Morse formed his own band and recorded several albums, later joining Kansas from 1986 to 1988, while Morgenstein hooked up with pop-metallists Winger.
The Dregs reunited briefly in 1988 for a series of live dates, but a full-fledged reunion didn't take place until 1992, with Morse, Lavitz, Morgenstein, and Dave LaRue of the Steve Morse Band in West's place. Allen Sloan rejoined only briefly, with his position then filled by ex-Mahavishnu Orchestra member Jerry Goodman. Bring 'Em Back Alive was culled from the group's tour, and 1994's Full Circle was also well received. California Screamin' followed in early 2000.
SUPERSONIC BLUES MACHINE (2016/22)
Supersonic Blues Machine are a blues-rock "supergroup." Though only drummer Kenny Aronoff is generally well-known, his bandmates bassist/producer Fabrizio Grossi and guitarist/vocalist Kris Barras are also highly respected first-call players. The trio share the unqualified respect of their peers, offering a raucous, guitar-driven sound that reflects a shared love of classic blues and riff-driven hard rock. 2016's West of Flushing, South of Frisco showcased prominent guitar slingers as guests, including Billy Gibbons, and Warren Haynes. It inadvertently became a trademark, as each subsequent release has hosted them too: 2017's Californisoul included appearances from Eric Gales, Robben Ford, and Walter Trout. 2022's Voodoo Nation included contributions from Joe Louis Walker, Sonny Landreth, and Ana Popovic, among others. In 2010, Aronoff and Grossi served as the rhythm section Goodfellas, an occasional jam band comprised of studio aces and led by Toto guitarist Steve Lukather. The pair wanted to continue expanding the Goodfellas concept, to create a touring and recording band rather than just a "session ensemble for hire."
Not long afterward, Grossi was working on an album by guitarist and vocalist Lance Lopez and introduced him to Aronoff. When Billy Gibbons contacted Grossi to collaborate with him in writing and producing a song for a commercial, Gibbons suggested he write nine more songs and start his own band. While the music they were working on didn't result in a commercial, it did evolve into "Running Whiskey," the first single off Supersonic Blues Machine's 2016 debut album, West of Flushing, South of Frisco, which included not only Gibbons, but also Warren Haynes, Walter Trout, Robben Ford, and Chris Duarte. The set made its way to the blues album charts and the band hit the road playing gigs in greasy clubs as well as on festival stages across the U.S. and Europe. Since then, they have operated continuously as a band of comrades and kindred spirits. Their revolving door line-up of guests extends to live performances when schedules permit. 2017's Californisoul showcased a summery vibe, wedding blues-rock to the good-time funk made immortal by George Clinton (with whom Grossi worked extensively). They also added Lukather and Eric Gales to their guest mix of top-shelf guitarists.
Lopez left the band after the album's release but before the tour. Supersonic Blues Machine hired English singer and guitarist Kris Barras as his replacement. Deeply influenced by the British Isles blues-rock tradition from Jimmy Page and Rory Gallagher to Gary Moore Barras had been leading his own recording and touring group since 2015. The trio hit the road hard in 2018, running across the U.S., Europe, and Asia. In 2019 they released the document Road Chronicles: Live! as Barras' debut. The set featured Gibbons on six of its 14 tracks, and landed on blues albums charts. After being sidelined by the COVID-19 pandemic for most of 2020 and part of 2021, Supersonic Blues Machine toured in the U.S. that summer and fall. Late in the year, Barras and his band cut the album Death Valley Paradise. Issued in March 2022, it went Top 30 in England. Before its release, Supersonic Blues Machine recorded their third studio effort Voodoo Nation. Issued in June, its massive guest list included old friend Gales, and a slew of new ones, including Louisiana's Sonny Landreth, Ana Popovic, Charlie Starr (Blackberry Smoke), Joe Louis Walker, Kirk Fletcher, King Solomon Hicks, and Josh Smith. The set's overall sound was darker, more intimate, and immediate, with SBM opening their sound up further to incorporate Barras' influences and songwriting style into their mix.
TRAFFIC - Far From Home (1994) & The Last Great Traffic Jam (2005)
Far From Home is the eighth and final studio album by the rock band Traffic. It was recorded at a large house called Woodstock, outside Kilcoole to the south of Dublin, and mixed at the Chateau Miraval in Correns, southern France. The project began as a revival of the writing collaboration between Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi, but soon blossomed into the first Traffic project since 1974. Far From Home was released on 9 May 1994. The album reached number 29 in the UK Albums Chart, where it remained for four weeks, making it by far Traffic's most commercially successful album in their home country since John Barleycorn Must Die. In Germany, it scored two minor hits ("Here Comes a Man" and "Some Kinda Woman") and reached number 22 in the album charts. It also managed to reach number 33 in the USA Billboard chart.
In 1994, Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi temporarily put aside their solo careers to re-form as Traffic for the first time in 20 years. (Of the original quartet formed in 1967, erstwhile member Dave Mason had not been a part of the band since 1971, and Chris Wood had died in 1983.) They recorded a new album, Far from Home, and embarked on a five-month tour of the U.S. in the spring and summer, using a backup band consisting of reed player Randall Bramblett, bassist Rosko Gee (a member of the 1974 version of Traffic), guitar and keyboard player Mike McEvoy, and percussionist Walfredo Reyes, Jr. Also taken along was filmmaker Simon Vieler, whose efforts finally see the light of day 11 years later in this, his 102-minute documentary of the tour, The Last Great Traffic Jam. Vieler, who is also the only credited cameraman on the film, has chosen to emphasize Traffic's ties to the hippie milieu and the jam band community, which may be appropriate given that a handful of the tour's 75-plus dates found the group opening for the Grateful Dead (including shows at Soldier Field in Chicago, RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., and Giants Stadium in New Jersey, with Jerry Garcia sitting in on "Dear Mr. Fantasy" at the last) and that Woodstock '94 was on the itinerary. But it isn't just the long-haired freaks and tie-dyed T-shirts in the audience that Vieler chooses to focus on. He attempts visual equivalents of the psychedelic jazz-rock sound of the band, using multiple film stocks, a variety of visual effects, quick cutting, and a combination of on-stage, backstage, and travel footage. Each of the 11 songs is heard in full, with much of the playing seen, but it is heavily intercut with other material. In a three-minute music video, such an approach would be eye-catching, but it is wearying over the course of more than an hour and a half. Still, the band performs well, and Capaldi in particular likes to mug for the camera, while bandleader Winwood, despite being the most photogenic person in the film, never seems to be hogging the spotlight, even when he's occupying it, which is most of the time.
THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND - 2009 Beacon Box Set 2009 [47CD Box] (2009)
To commemorate their 40th anniversary, The Allman Brothers Band has released a Beacon Box 2009 live CD package, capturing all 15 sold-out shows from the group’s March 2009 stand at the venerable Beacon Theatre in New York City. This is the first time the band has made CDs available from their annual visits to New York, which date back to 1989 and includes 188 consecutive sold-out shows at the Beacon. Individual shows are available as well. This run was dedicated to the memory of Duane Allman, seminal guitarist and founder of the band, and to help celebrate Duane’s legacy, 62 special guests shared the stage with the Allman Brothers Band. The list includes a “Who’s Who” of rock, jazz and jams greats, including Levon Helm, Taj Mahal, Buddy Guy, Boz Scaggs, Johnny Winter, Sheryl Crow, Widespread Panic’s Jimmy Herring and John Bell, Kid Rock, Billy Gibbons, Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo and Cesar Rosas, Bob Margolin, Phish’s Trey Anastasio and Page McConnell, Chuck Leavell, Jimmy Hall, Susan Tedeschi, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh and many others. Also appearing for two nights with the band was the inimitable Eric Clapton, who teamed with Duane Allman to record Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs in 1970, considered by many critics to be the finest guitar album of all time. This marked the first occasion that Clapton had played with the Allman Brothers Band in a public setting. The fact that the band performed at its considerable best in its 40th year is a remarkable testament to the talents of this Rock and Roll Hall of Fame group. All the magic of their timeless classics, newer tunes and spectacular cover songs shines through on the Beacon Box live CD package. The 15 historical shows, containing 100 different songs, are packaged in a custom-made, hand-crafted, serial numbered box that has the Beacon Theatre’s marquee silkscreened across the front. In addition to the Beacon concerts, this box set include a special bonus performance of the Allman Brothers Band at Warren Haynes’ 20th Annual Christmas Jam, which occurred in December of 2008. Also included in the box set edition is a CD booklet with liner notes, set list and exclusive photos taken during the run by ABB Tour Mystic, Kirk West. Shows are available on an individual basis as well, so take advantage of this once in a lifetime offer to savor a once in a lifetime event!
OUTLAWS - Anthology (Live & Rare) 1973-1981 
Outlaws are an American southern rock band from Tampa, Florida. They are best known for their 1975 hit "There Goes Another Love Song" and extended guitar jam "Green Grass and High Tides" from their 1975 debut album, plus their 1980 cover of the Stan Jones classic "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky".
Anthology (Live & Rare) 1973-1981 - Most of the live material comes from the band's first three albums: 1975's Outlaws, 1976's Lady in Waiting, and 1977's Hurry Sundown. Multiple versions of several songs are collected including "There Goes Another Love Song," "Stick Around for Rock and Roll," "Knoxville Girl," "Freeborn Man," "Song in the Breeze," "Gunsmoke," and "Green Grass and High Tides," among others. One stand-out rarity is the cover of Jackson Browne's "Red Neck Friend." Disc one includes performances from 1975 shows in Denver, Colorado; Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania; Cleveland, Ohio, and the Record Plant recording studio in Sausalito, California. Disc two features 1976 performances at the Record Plant in Los Angeles, California. Disc three captures 1977 performances in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Passaic, New Jersey; as well as 1981 tracks also from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Disc four is the most interesting for longtime fans because it includes studio demos recorded between 1973 and 1977. Nine demos from the Outlaws, Lady in Waiting, and Hurry Sundown sessions are followed by eight previously unreleased ones. "Never See Your Face" is bouncy country rock, "Windy City Blues" is a smoldering and surprisingly effective 7-and-a-half-minute jam, "Nighttime's Passing Dream" is melodic and easygoing, and "Goodbye Tupelo" is very nearly pure country. An informative essay is included in the liner notes, but specific details on the origins and sources of this material Radio broadcasts? Soundboard recordings? Venues? Precise dates? Lineups? are incomplete. Despite occasional shrillness, the overall sound quality of these recordings is excellent.
CAT STEVENS - The Very Best of Cat Stevens (2004)
After making a successful run at the British charts in the late '60s, Cat Stevens left behind the pop-oriented style of his early days and became one of the most celebrated folk-rock singer/songwriters of the era. It was all thanks to landmark albums like 1970's Tea for the Tillerman and its 1971 follow-up, Teaser and the Firecat. His earthy voice, introspective lyrics, and themes of spirituality struck a chord with audiences around the world, turning songs like "Wild World," "Father and Son," and "Peace Train" into anthems for a generation seeking comfort from the turbulent 1960s. As his popularity peaked in the front half of the '70s, Stevens began to chafe at the effects of his stardom, and after a near-death experience in 1976, he began a religious conversion to Islam. By 1978, he had formally changed his name to Yusuf Islam and retired from popular music. Over the next several decades, he remained focused on his family and devoted himself to humanitarian aid, charitable causes, and educational efforts. His musical pursuits eventually began to re-emerge in the 1990s with a series of Muslim children's albums, and in 2006 he returned to Western pop with the album An Other Cup, released under the name Yusuf. Still a devout Muslim, he found a balance between his faith and honoring the work he'd previously made as Cat Stevens. The ensuing decade was marked by continued charitable work, a return to touring, and the release of more pop-oriented Yusuf albums like 2014's bluesy Tell 'Em I'm Gone and 2017's Grammy-nominated The Laughing Apple.
TWICE AS MUCH - Sittin' On A Fence / Twice As Much - The Immidiate Anthology (1999)
One of the most anonymous-sounding acts of the British Invasion, Twice as Much was the duo of Dave Skinner and Andrew Rose, harmony singers who also wrote much of their own material. Signed to the Immediate label (run by Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham), the pair recorded several singles and a couple of albums between 1966 and 1968. Most of these recordings were innocuous, pleasantly forgettable pop affairs in the Peter & Gordon/Chad & Jeremy mold, with light orchestral pop/rock arrangements that sometimes employed a touch of the Baroque. They had their only British Top 40 success with a cover of the Stones' "Sitting on a Fence"; although the Stones' version was one of their best cuts from the Between the Buttons era, the Twice as Much interpretation seems to miss the point completely, transforming it into a chipper, quasi-vaudevillian tune without a hint of ambiguity or sullenness.
The duo's two albums are assembled together on one CD, and appended with singles that weren't on either, all in glittering sound (it took till the mid-'90s, at least, for proper sources to be assembled on the Immediate Records catalog). The first six tracks, representing single A- and B-sides, have a fair amount of appeal today as artifacts of '60s pop/rock, with "Step Out of Line," an original by the duo, probably representing their own sound best, kind of between Simon & Garfunkel and Peter & Gordon, and closer to the latter. The album cuts are a more difficult fit, ranging from Broadway tunes to covers of Beatles and other songs -- though if these guys were to have covered any Beatles tracks, the right ones were chosen in "Help!" and "We Can Work It Out," and the harmony versions of the Small Faces songs are an interesting variant on the latter, even if they won't displace the Small Faces' own renditions. There are also good covers of Phil Spector material ("Is That What I Get for Loving You Baby?") and rock classics like "Do You Wanna Dance," but their very best efforts were, in many ways, the duo's own songs, and filmmaker Peter Whitehead seems to have had the best instincts when he lifted their "Night Time Girl" from the first album for use in his documentary Tonite Let's All Make Love in London. Fans of Vashti Bunyan may also want to pick this CD up for the presence of "The Coldest Night of the Year," as the folksinging legend appeared with the duo, fully credited, on the record.
JEFF BECK & JOHNNY DEPP - 18 (2022)
Jeff Beck found a kindred spirit in Johnny Depp when the two met in 2016. They bonded quickly over cars and guitars and spent most of their time together trying to make each other laugh. At the same time, Beck’s appreciation grew for Depp’s serious songwriting skills and his ear for music. That talent and their chemistry convinced Beck they should make an album together. Depp agreed and they started in 2019. Over the next three years, they recorded a mix of Depp originals along with a wide range of covers that touches on everything from Celtic and Motown, to the Beach Boys and Killing Joke. In 2020, during the pandemic, they previewed their collaboration with their well-timed cover of John Lennon’s “Isolation.” The duo’s 13-track album, dubbed 18, will arrive on July 15. Beck explains the album title: “When Johnny and I started playing together, it really ignited our youthful spirit and creativity. We would joke about how we felt 18 again, so that just became the album title too.” The cover features an illustration of Beck and Depp as 18-year-olds that was drawn and designed by Beck’s wife Sandra. For the last 12 years Depp has recorded and toured with the Hollywood Vampires, a band he started with Alice Cooper and Joe Perry. The supergroup has released two studio albums that include guest appearances by some of rocks biggest names: Paul McCartney, Dave Grohl, and Joe Walsh. The list also includes Beck, who played guitar on “Welcome To Bushwackers,” a song on Rise, the Vampires’ second album, which came out in 2019. Soon after, Depp asked Beck to play lead on a tune he’d written, the album’s first single “This Is A Song For Miss Hedy Lamarr,” an homage to the actress/inventor. Beck says it was the catalyst for the collaboration and is one of his favorite songs on the new album. “I was blown away by it,” he says. “That song is one of the reasons I asked him to make an album with me.” Of Beck, Depp adds, ““It’s an extraordinary honor to play and write music with Jeff, one of the true greats and someone I am now privileged enough to call my brother.”
THE CITY - Now That Everything's Been Said (1968)
We all know the Carole King who wrote some of the biggest hits of the ‘60s, from “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” to “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” via “The Locomotion” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.” We also know the singer-songwriter behind Tapestry, the album that launched King as a solo singer in her own right. But in between–and not nearly as well known–is King’s band, The City, and their album, Now That Everything’s Been Said. By the mid-‘60s, King’s marriage to Gerry Goffin, with whom she’d written many of those wonderful hits, had hit the rocks. A divorce loomed, and King all but retired to raise their two daughters. She headed west to Laurel Canyon in ‘67, taking the children with her, and made the previously unlikely move of joining a progressive folk-rock band. King formed The City with future husband Charles Larkey on bass and Danny Kortchmar on guitar and vocals. With King on piano and vocals, they created a folk rock sound that pre-empted the singer-songwriter boom of the ‘70s. Produced by Lou Adler and featuring Jimmy Gordon on drums, The City’s sound is deep and soulful, imperfect but passionate. And the songs, with King writing or co-writing all but one, are as exceptional as you’d expect and as widely covered as her factory work. “Now That Everything’s Been Said” was a hit for American Spring, “A Man Without A Dream” was tackled by The Monkees, and “Hi-De-Ho (That Old Sweet Roll)” was a hit for Blood, Sweat & Tears. Central to the album’s appeal is King’s own stirring reading of her track “Wasn’t Born To Follow,” covered masterfully by The Byrds for the Easy Rider soundtrack. King had been used to a life on the sidelines, and her stage fright left the trio unable to tour the LP which adversely affected their fortunes. That, plus some behind-the-scenes distribution problems, meant the album was quickly deleted, and it remained so for the next thirty years–partly at King’s request. Even so, its failure was a surprise to those concerned. “I was 26 when Now That Everything’s Been Said was released in 1968,” King says of the album. “[We] expected it to zoom to the top of the charts within, at most, a few weeks. Individually and together, we optimistically imagined the album’s success as if it had already happened. Danny and Charlie kept telling each other, ’It’s a great album. The City is gonna be Number 1 with a bullet!’" Listening now, you can feel the threads that lead to Tapestry and to the hugely successful performing career that followed.
LONG JOHN BALDRY - The First Four... (1964/69)
Like Cliff Richard, Chris Farlowe, Slade, Blur, and eel pie, Long John Baldry is one of those peculiarly British phenomena that doggedly resists American translation. As a historical figure, he has undeniable importance. When he began singing as a teenager in the 1950s, he was one of the first British vocalists to perform folk and blues music. In the early '60s, he sang in the band of British blues godfather Alexis Korner, Blues Incorporated, which also served as a starting point for future rock stars Mick Jagger, Jack Bruce, and others. As a member of Blues Incorporated, he contributed to the first British blues album, R&B at the Marquee (1962). He then joined the Cyril Davies R&B All Stars, taking over the group (renamed Long John Baldry and His Hoochie Coochie Men) after Davies' death in early 1964. This band featured Rod Stewart as a second vocalist, and also employed Geoff Bradford (who had been in an embryonic version of the Rolling Stones) on guitar. In the mid-'60s, he helped form Steampacket, a proto-supergroup that also featured Stewart, Julie Driscoll, and Brian Auger. When Steampacket broke up, he fronted Bluesology, the band that gave keyboardist Reg Dwight - soon to become Elton John - his first prestigious gig. He was a well-liked figure on the London club circuit, and in fact the Beatles took him on as a guest on one of their 1964 British TV specials, at a time when the Fab Four could have been no bigger, and Baldry was virtually unknown.
Ironically, his greatest commercial success came not with blues, but orchestrated pop ballads that echoed Engelbert Humperdinck. The 1967 single "Let the Heartaches Begin" reached number one in Britain, and Baldry had several other small British hits in the late '60s, the biggest of which was "Mexico" (1968). (None of these made an impression in the U.S.) The commercial success of his ballads led Baldry to forsake the blues on record for a few years. He returned to blues and rock in 1971 on It Ain't Easy, for which Rod Stewart and Elton John shared the production duties. The album contained a tiny American chart item, "Don't Try to Lay No Boogie-Woogie on the King of Rock'n'Roll," and Stewart and John split the production once again on the 1972 follow-up, Everything Stops for Tea. Baldry never caught on as an international figure, though, and by 1980 had become a Canadian citizen. He continued to record, and did commercial voice-overs as well as the voice of Doctor Robotnik in children's cartoons. After battling a severe chest infection for several months, Long John Baldry passed away on July 21, 2005, while hospitalized in Vancouver.
Andromeda was a psychedelic/progressive rock trio formed by singer-guitarist John Cann (also known as John Du Cann), formerly of the psychedelic garage band the Attack, Mick Hawksworth (bass, vocals), and Ian McClane (drums, vocals). The group performed in various London venues including Middle Earth and the Marquee Club. Cann's guitar was the dominant instrument, leading listeners through classically based psychedelic and progressive directions and creative dissonances, contributing to the trio's impressive live sets. Andromeda combined their own original writing with elements appropriated out of familiar classical material. They were signed to RCA in 1969 but before that they'd appeared live on the BBC's Top Gear program in 1968, and in the 1990s, other live recordings from their performances at Middle Earth have surfaced as well. The group's first single, "Go Your Way," was released in 1969 and a self-titled album (which featured some impressive vocals) followed quickly. The group broke up late in the year, and Cann joined Vincent Crane in Atomic Rooster, and revived the group with him at the end of the '70s, while Hawksworth played with Alvin Lee and became a member of Ten Years After (and Ten Years Later), as well as playing with Matthew Fisher.
LES DUDEK - The First Four... (1976/81)
Les Dudek began playing guitar in bands in Flordia at age 14. His musical influences, he says, were The Beatles, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, and The Ventures. He had built quite a reputation around the Florida area as a proficient guitar player. He was noticed by Gregg Allman, and was hired as a studio guitarist for the recording of the Brothers and Sisters album. He played on the well-known songs “Ramblin' Man” and “Jessica”. The latter song, he co-wrote with Dickey Betts. His next stops were as a guitarist for Boz Scaggs and The Steve Miller Band. Les was invited to play in a supergroup called Journey but Les had received an offer to record for Columbia Records as a solo artist. His work was praised by the critics but widespread fame and success eluded him. He had two minor hits with “City Magic” and “Old Judge Jones” which were played frequently on local radio stations in the Los Angeles area,where he lived at the time. He later collaborated with Cher, Stevie Nicks, and with two other Columbia Artists; Mike Finnegan and Jim Krueger with whom he formed DFK (Dudek, Finnegan, and Krueger). Between the years 1980 and 1982 Les and Cher had a personal relationship as well as professional. Les wrote and performed some of the music for the 1984 movie “Mask” starring Cher, Sam Elliott, Eric Stoltz, and Laura Dern.He also had a small part in the film as "Bone", abiker. He has also done work for NBC, ABC, ESPN, FOX Sports, and E Entertainment Television. His work can be heard on many television series including the popular TV show Friends. In 1989 Les did a brief stint with legendary Canadian rock group John Kay & Steppenwolf as their guitarist. But problems developed between Les and John Kay which led to his being fired by Kay after only one month with the band. In 2007 Les hit the road again with Bryan Hawkins on drums, Dan Walters on bass, and Mike Kindred on keyboards. Les currently resides in Florida.
2007 digitally remastered two-fer from the famed studio musician and solo artist. Dudek has played with, among others, Steve Miller, Cher, Boz Scraggs, Dave Mason and Stevie Nicks. Les also played on the Allman Brothers’ album Brothers And Sisters, co-writing 'Jessica'. Les' self-titled album was released in 1976, followed a year later by Say No More. The CD comes housed in a slip case and features extensive liner notes.
Digitally remastered two-fer from the veteran session guitarist and solo artist containing a pair of albums on one CD: Ghost Town Parade (1978) and Gypsy Ride (1981). Guitarist Dudek has played with the likes of the Allman Brothers, Steve Miller and Boz Scaggs, and yet also found time for a solo career. These were his third and fourth albums.
BLACK STONE CHERRY - Live From The Royal Albert Hall... Y'all! (2022)
Black Stone Cherry is an American rock band, formed in 2001 in Edmonton, Kentucky. They were signed to Roadrunner Records until 2015; the band is now signed to Mascot Label Group. The band consists of Chris Robertson (lead vocals, lead guitar), Ben Wells (rhythm guitar, backing vocals) and John Fred Young (drums, backing vocals). Black Stone Cherry has released seven studio albums as well as two EPs, and have charted seventeen singles on the US Mainstream Rock Tracks charts. Their latest album, The Human Condition, was released in 2020.
On Wednesday September 29, 2021 - the year of the band's 20th Anniversary - Kentucky's favorite sons, Black Stone Cherry, realized their childhood dream of playing at the legendary Royal Albert Hall, London. And they don't disappoint as they open with the explosive "Me and Mary Jane." From clubs to arenas and Festival headline performances, no one puts on the kind of show that these boys do. They tear through an impressive back catalog, playing songs from their most recent studio album The Human Condition through to their biggest hits and fan favorites. The band have always belonged to the fans and vice versa, which is why when you hear those songs emanate from the stage and then sung back, every fan in the world can close their eyes and remember either being there or imagine being there and the sheer joy and pride in the boys for realizing a dream. On the Blu-ray, the live footage is dotted with behind-the-scenes interviews, fly on the wall footage and archival insights into the band as kids first starting out, snippets of their first ever UK tour and heartfelt moments of reflection. But ultimately Live From The Royal Albert Hall... Y'All was about bringing rock 'n' roll to London, Kentucky style, and they tore the roof off that mother.
THE SEEDS - The First Four... (1966/67)
The Seeds were an American psychedelic rock band formed in Los Angeles, California in 1965. The band's classic line-up featured frontman Sky Saxon, guitarist Jan Savage, keyboardist Daryl Hooper and drummer Rick Andridge. In 1968, the band changed their name to Sky Saxon and the Seeds, with Savage and Andridge departing the band. They went on to release a handful of additional singles, with Hooper also departing at some point before splitting up in circa 1972. In 1989, the original lineup of the band reformed for a handful of live dates in the US. In 2003, Saxon reformed the Seeds with original guitarist Jan Savage (who departed part way through a European tour the same year due to ill health). Releasing 2 further studio albums, the band continued to tour the US, UK and Europe up to Saxon's death in 2009.
The Seeds is the debut album by American rock band the Seeds. It was released in April 1966 through GNP Crescendo Records and produced by Marcus Tybalt and Sky Saxon. After the release of two singles in 1965, "Can't Seem to Make You Mine" and "Pushin' Too Hard", the album was released and charted in the United States where it peaked at No. 132 on the Billboard Top LPs & Tapes chart. Modern reception of the album is positive, with critics considering the album's similarity to punk rock a decade later.
A Web of Sound is the second album by the American rock band the Seeds. Produced by Marcus Tybalt and released in October 1966, it contained the single "Mr. Farmer" and the 14-minute closing song "Up In Her Room". The album did not chart, though it has received generally favorable reviews from music critics.
Future is the third studio album by Los Angeles rock band the Seeds. The album is a notable shift in musical direction for the band as they moved away from garage rock, and began experimenting more with psychedelic rock. Upon its release in 1967, the album reached the Top 100 on the Billboard 200, but their single, "A Thousand Shadows", was less successful than The Seeds' previous hits.
A Full Spoon of Seedy Blues is the fourth album by the American rock band, the Seeds, credited to the Sky Saxon Blues Band, and released on GNP Crescendo in November 1967. The album saw the group take a completely different and controversial direction from the psychedelia featured on their previous effort, Future, towards a style rooted in blues. However, the results of the venture were ill-received, both commercially and within their loyal fanbase.
THE SEEDS - Raw & Alive: The Seeds In Concert At Merlin’s Music Box (2014)
The Seeds were an American psychedelic rock band formed in Los Angeles, California in 1965. The band's classic line-up featured frontman Sky Saxon, guitarist Jan Savage (born Buck Jan Reeder), keyboardist Daryl Hooper and drummer Rick Andridge. In 1968, the band changed their name to Sky Saxon and the Seeds, with Savage and Andridge departing the band. They went on to release a handful of additional singles, with Hooper also departing at some point before splitting up in circa 1972. In 1989, the original lineup of the band reformed for a handful of live dates in the US. In 2003, Saxon reformed the Seeds with original guitarist Jan Savage (who departed part way through a European tour the same year due to ill health). Releasing 2 further studio albums, the band continued to tour the US, UK and Europe up to Saxon's death in 2009.
This is an expanded version of The Seeds fifth, and for all intents and purposes, final LP - their blinding opus, Raw & Alive: The Seeds in Concert. The “Raw & Alive: The Seeds In Concert At Merlin’s Music Box” package is completed by a 28 page full color booklet, with notes including interviews by compiler Alec Palao, complete track annotations and many never before seen photos. In line with its counterparts, the deluxe edition of Raw & Alive: The Seeds in Concert is mastered perfectly. The Seeds recordings have never sounded better than the versions available in this series. It also includes reproductions of the original album art, era corresponding archival photos, and well researched and detailed liner notes that include session details and recent band interviews. If you’re familiar with this album it’s likely you are aware that, although The Seeds did record this album live at Untied Western studio in Hollywood; a live audience track was later overdubbed. So, it’s a real treat to not only have the original album in this package, but also the recording without the audience overdub (for the record it sounds crazier with the audience track).
JOURNEY - The Last Two...(2011/22)
Journey is an American rock band formed in San Francisco in 1973 by former members of Santana, Steve Miller Band, and Frumious Bandersnatch. The band currently consists of guitarist/vocalist Neal Schon (the only constant original member), keyboardists/vocalists Jonathan Cain and Jason Derlatka, drummer/vocalist Deen Castronovo, and lead vocalist Arnel Pineda.
Journey manages to pull off a nifty trick on 2011’s Eclipse: they fuse their prog rock beginnings with their arena rock heyday of the mid-‘80s. What they neglect to do is find hooks to have this play for an audience larger than the already devoted. There is no “Separate Ways,” no “Don’t Stop Believing,” no “Open Arms” here because the emphasis is not on the song, it’s on the instrumental action, the way the group carves soundscapes out of massive guitars, intricate rhythmic interplay, and cascades of synthesizers. That’s not to say that Eclipse is hook-less, because there are melodies for Arnel Pineda to sing and riffs for Neal Schon to churn out, but both certainly take a backseat to the overall sound Journey creates, one that is certainly classic rock without sounding particularly classic. Eclipse pulsates with a certain insular chill that isn’t especially welcoming; this is music made for the musicians, and if anybody else happens to like it, that’s just a minor bonus.
Arriving 11 years after 2011's Eclipse, Freedom is Journey's 15th studio effort and their third outing with vocalist Arnel Pineda. It also marks the return of Raised on Radio bassist Randy Jackson, who stepped in after the band's abrupt split with founding member Ross Valory in 2020. Journey's post-Steve Perry releases have been reliable yet unremarkable, with showrunners Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain attempting to wring out every last bit of headband sweat from the group's chart-topping heydays. That trend continues on Freedom, a relentlessly anthemic and underwhelming set filled with over-the-counter power ballads and bloated AOR rockers that do very little to earn a 70-minute runtime. The performances, however, are top-notch, with Narada Michael Walden and former member Deen Castronovo sharing drum duties, Schon flexing his still impressive melodic-lead muscles, and Pineda continuing to push his voice outside the Perry penumbra. It's the songwriting that feels tired. That said, a band that's been around for just under 50 years has every right to indulge in some artistic navel-gazing. Classic rock is the new oldies, and artists still fanning and feeding the flames do so with shovels encumbered by nostalgia. Songs like "Together We Run" ("Don't Stop Believing"), "Don't Give Up On Us" ("Separate Ways [World Apart]"), and "You Got the Best of Me" ("Any Way You Want It") stand out not because they're the best cuts on the album, but because the tracks they're parroting are superior in every way.
JESSE 'ED' DAVIS - Jesse Davis (1970) & Ululu (1972)
Jesse Ed Davis was perhaps the most versatile session guitarist of the late '60s and early '70s. Whether it was blues, country, or rock, Davis' tasteful guitar playing was featured on albums by such giants as Eric Clapton, Neil Diamond, John Lennon, and John Lee Hooker, among others. It is Davis' weeping slide heard on Clapton's "Hello Old Friend" (from No Reason to Cry), and on both Rock n' Roll and Walls & Bridges, it is Davis who supplied the bulk of the guitar work for ex-Beatle Lennon. Born in Oklahoma, Davis first earned a degree in literature from the University of Oklahoma before beginning his musical career touring with Conway Twitty in the early '60s. Eventually the guitarist moved to California, joining bluesman Taj Mahal and playing guitar and piano on his first three albums. It was with Mahal that Davis was able to showcase his skill and range, playing slide, lead, and rhythm, country, and even jazz guitar during his three-year stint.
The period backing Mahal was the closest Davis came to being in a band full-time, and after Mahal's 1969 album Giant Step, Davis began doing session work for such diverse acts as David Cassidy, Albert King, and Willie Nelson. In addition, he also released three solo albums featuring industry friends such as Leon Russell and Eric Clapton. In and out of clinics, Davis disappeared from the music industry for a time, spending much of the '80s dealing with alcohol and drug addiction. Just before his death of a suspected drug overdose in 1988, Davis resurfaced playing in the Graffiti Band, which coupled his music with the poetry of American Indian activist John Trudell. The kind of expert, tasteful playing that Davis always brought to an album is sorely missed among the acts he worked with.
KATHY SMITH - Some Songs I've Saved (1970) & 2 (1971)
Kathy Smith was an American singer-songwriter from Californian who performed at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970. Smith was part of the California folkie scene, playing at local venues and coffeehouses. A legendary venue (but rather unknown) was Paradox where people like Tim Buckley, Jackson Browne, Steve Noonan, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, John McEuen, and Penny Nichols used to play. Nobody found out about the place so it had to close down. The musicians found a new podium at the Troubadour. Smith started to share stages there with people like Penny Nichols, Pamela Polland and Jackson Browne (which explains how their songs ended up on her albums). Polland (known from her album The Gentle Soul) was going to appear on Smith's debut album. Penny Nichols, who first sang with a bluegrass band with John, Bill & Alice McEuen (until John took Jackson Browne's place in the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band), then formed a duo with Kathy Smith called the Greasy Mountain Butterballs which toured Vietnam in the fall of 1966. A testimony from her days at the Troubadour related how “Kathy was the first person I ever heard use the term "Love Generation", and she was housemother to the bunch of us. And she had this 100 megawatt smile.”
Smith recorded a couple of albums for Richie Havens' Stormy Forest label in the early 70s, a label that didn’t really make it enough and was closed down pretty quickly. The albums' personnel included Colin Walcott (only later he was going to focus much more on his sitar playing to become a great jazz fusion solo artist; he was part of the group Oregon around that time)*, Tony Levin, Jan Hammer, Artie Traum, jazz flutist Jeremy Steig, and Jim Fielder (Blood, Sweat & Tears) were among the players who appeared on either or both albums. The production (led by Mark Roth, engineered by Val Valentin) and partly beautifully orchestrated arrangements (and brass arrangements on the last track) are simply perfect.
ARGENT - Hold Your Head Up: The Best Of Argent (2022)
Argent was formed in 1969 by Rod Argent and Chris White, who had been the keyboard player and the bassist, and principal songwriters, in 60s hitmakers The Zombies. Chris White now assumed a writing and producing role, so Jim Rodford (Argent's cousin and formerly with the Mike Cotton Sound) was recruited on bass. The line-up was completed by drummer Bob Henrit and guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Russ Ballard (both previously with The Roulettes and Unit 4 + 2). The first two albums – “Argent” (1970) and “Ring Of Hands” (1971) – performed well but it was the third album “All Together Now” (1972) that catapulted the band to stardom. Written by Argent and White, first single “Hold Your Head Up” reached number 5 in both the UK and the US, where it sold over a million copies, and second single “Tragedy”also sold well. The next album “In Deep” (1973) featured the massive rock anthem “God Gave Rock & Roll To You”, another worldwide hit, written by Russ Ballard. The song gained a new lease of life in 1991 when Kiss’s cover version was featured at the end of the film “Bill And Ted’s Bogus Journey”. The album also included the hit “It’s Only Money (Pt 2)”.
This 28 track 2 CD compilation gathers all the hits and the cream of the album tracks, including Rod Argent’s “Christmas For The Free”, which feature virtuoso performances and amazing vocal harmonies. The booklet incudes annotation by Alan Robinson.
FELIX PAPPALARDI - Dont Worry, Ma (1979)
Notwithstanding a 1978 report that former Mountain bassist Felix Pappalardi was reuniting with former Mountain drummer Corky Laing and joining Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson in a new supergroup, 1979's Don't Worry, Ma was a Pappalardi solo effort, the follow-up to his 1976 album Felix Pappalardi & Creation, in which he teamed with a Japanese rock quartet. This time, he employed a bunch of New York super-session musicians, only acting as singer with a basic band consisting of guitarist Eric Gale, keyboardist Richard Tee, bassist Chuck Rainey, and drummer Bernard Purdie (who also, amazingly, was the credited producer instead of Pappalardi), plus a collection of strings, reeds, and horns, as well as a trio of female backup singers. Nor had Pappalardi, as he usually did, co-written original material with his wife and lyricist, Gail Collins. Instead, this is a collection of covers including the leadoff track, the folk-blues standard "Bring It with You When You Come," the folk standard "Water Is Wide," Tommy Tucker's 1964 R&B hit "Hi-Heel Sneakers," and, in a funk arrangement, Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love" (for which Pappalardi produced the original recording). The arrangements are in a bluesy, funky style, for the most part, suggesting Memphis soul or James Brown's band. It's the sort of music that requires a distinctive vocalist, but Pappalardi boasted only a conversational light tenor. At the age of 39, he was a bit long in the tooth to be switching gears and selling himself as a white soulman, not to mention that fans who knew his name from Cream and Mountain probably would buy this LP expecting music in his hard rock mode, and would therefore be disappointed.
MUD - The Albums 1975-79 (2021)
Mud are an English glam rock band, formed in February 1966. Their earlier success came in a pop and then glam rock style, while later hits were influenced by 1950s rock and roll, and they are best remembered for their hit singles "Dyna-mite" , "Tiger Feet", which was the UK's best-selling single of 1974, and "Lonely This Christmas" which reached Christmas number 1 in December 1974. After signing to Rak Records and teaming up with songwriters/producers Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, the band had fourteen UK Top 20 hits between 1973 and 1976, including three number ones.
Four CD clamshell box set covering the albums recorded by '70s legends Mud between 1975 and 1979. Disc One is 1975's Use Your Imagination album which reached #33 in the UK charts. It features the Top 10 singles 'L'L' Lucy' (#19 in Germany) and 'Show Me You're A Woman' (#43 in Germany). The second disc is the It's Better Than Working! Album which contains the singles 'Beating Round The Bush' and 'Nite On The Tiles' (#37 in Germany). Among the bonus tracks is the UK #7 smash hit 'Lean On Me' (#44 in Germany) and the #12 hit 'Shake It Down' (#45 in Germany). 1978's Rock On album can be found on Disc Three which features the 45s 'Slow Talking Boy', 'Cut Across Shorty' 'Drift Away' and 'Just Try (A Little Tenderness)'. The final disc is the band's last studio album, As You Like It which includes the 'You'll Like It' and 'Why Do Fools Fall In Love / Book Of Love' singles. Among the bonus tracks are two rare singles recorded under the name of Roly which appear for the first time on CD. The booklet contains detailed liner notes by '70s expert Phil Hendriks plus repros of relevant sleeves from around the globe.
BRUCE COCKBURN - Greatest Hits [1970-2020] (2021)
Bruce Cockburn is a Canadian singer-songwriter and guitarist. His song styles range from folk to jazz-influenced rock and his lyrics cover a broad range of topics including human rights, environmental issues, politics, and Christianity. Cockburn has written more than 350 songs on 34 albums over a career spanning 50 years, of which 22 have received a Canadian gold or platinum certification as of 2018, and he has sold over one million albums in Canada alone. In 2014, Cockburn released his memoirs, Rumours of Glory. In 2016, his album Christmas was certified 6 times platinum in Canada for sales of over 600,000.
The consummate collection curated by Bruce Cockburn himself, presents 30 songs over a double album that defines the acclaimed singer-songwriters' 50 year career. These songs are both the ones that shot to the top of the charts when they were released, and also are the fan favourites most often requested at Bruce's concerts. With over 125 minutes of music, and notes on each song by the artist.
MARC BRIERLEY - Welcome To The Citadel (1968)  & Hello (1969) 
Marc Brierley was a talented folk artist who made his name as a singer-songwriter during the second half of the Sixties. After making an EP in 1966 for Transatlantic, Marc signed with CBS for two albums, Welcome To The Citadel (1968) and Hello (1969), helped by some of the best musicians on the circuit. Both are now prized collectors items by fans of the Acid Folk era.
Although Marc Brierley had released an EP on Transatlantic in 1966, 1968's Welcome to the Citadel was the British folkie's first album. It was an accomplished yet rather bland work, built around Brierley's singing, songwriting, and acoustic guitar. But it was also pushed a little toward folk-rock and pop by the use of electric bass and drums (by Tony Reeves and Mike Travis, who'd just been touring with John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers), as well as some cello, trumpet, and violins. It's on the mild and twee side of British folk-rock; Brierley's slight vocals and drifting compositional sense fall in the realm of other minor British singer/songwriters of the genre like Keith Christmas. Observational sketches like "Matchbox Men" and the title track have an attractive but forgettable baroque-folk flavor; other numbers like "Take Me for a Ride on Your Aeroplane" seem a little like forced attempts at getting an electric Bert Jansch-type sound; and more acoustic-based numbers mine the dreamy folk-pop espoused by numerous British troubadours from Donovan on down. It's a varied album, but you could get roughly similar stuff elsewhere by performers of far greater distinction. The entire album has been reissued on the Brierley compilation Autograph of Time, which also includes his second album (^1969's Hello), his 1966 EP, and couple of non-LP singles.
Marc Brierley's second album boasted considerably more color in the arrangements than his 1968 debut Welcome to the Citadel had. Perhaps the production input of Ashley Kozak, who had been Donovan's manager, helped move Brierley in the more melodic, accessible direction that characterized Donovan's brand of folk-rock. (For that matter, sidemen Harold McNair, on flute, and Tony Carr, on percussion, had played on some of Donovan's fine 1960s recordings.) Brierley's not a "Sunshine Superman," though, and while it marks an improvement from its predecessor, Hello is still pretty tame, unmemorably effusive period late-'60s British folk-pop/rock. The mood ranges from light bonhomie with a vaudevillian speckle ("Sunny Weather"), earnest flowery orchestrated folk-pop ("Lady of the Light" and "When Martha Comes"), and jazzy bossa nova ("Lookin' Around the Room") to more melancholy and acoustic material, the title track recalling both Donovan and Al Stewart. The net effect, however, is to remind you just how much better Donovan's records were, though this is superficially similar in some respects.
ARTHUR LOUIS featuring ERIC CLAPTON - Knockin' On Heaven's Door (1976)
Arthur Louis (1945 – 2014) was a British rock, blues and reggae cross-over musician. Arthur's line-up for the recording of “Knockin' on Heavens’ Door” including a young bass player called Mike Oldfield, whom Arthur introduced to Richard Branson, leading to the signing of Tubular Bells, and history in the making. Eric Clapton and Gene Chandler guested on the album, and Eric loved Arthur’s reggae arrangement of the title track so much, he went on to release his own version as a single, and covered “Someone Like You” on the B side as a thank you. The album was released and achieved chart success in Japan - reaching no. 5 in 1976. Having lost his bass player to fame and posterity, and the album not achieving the status it deserved, Arthur abandoned recording and took to painting in America. However, demand for live performances in England and Europe led Arthur back to music. A German label, Discovery Sounds, licensed and re-mastered “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” in 1991 for an audiophile release on vinyl only because of the albums' status amongst collectors.
MARC BENNO - The First Four... (1970/79)
Marc Benno has been giving blues, rock n roll, and pop music an unmistakable Texas flavor for years. A singer/songwriter who plays the guitar and piano, Benno is a strong force behind some of rock and blues greatest talents making them sound even better. The list of legends he’s worked with includes The Doors, Eric Clapton, Lightnin Hopkins, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Bill Wyman, Georgie Fame, Rita Coolidge, Eddie Murphy, Leon Russell and many more! In the 60’s, after performing in Dallas with Steve Miller, Boz Scaggs, the Eagles, first known as Felicity and The Moving Sidewalks, Aka ZZ Top, Benno headed to Los Angeles to further his career. That put him in the right place at the right time! Marc Benno recorded a pair of albums with Leon Russell as a duo under the name The Asylum Choir. These recordings are considered rock classics by Billboard Magazine. Benno was then picked to play guitar on an album by the psychedelic rock greats The Doors.
The sessions were for the classic L.A. Woman (1971), the group’s last LP before Jim Morrison’s death. Benno recorded four albums for A&M Records in Hollywood in the 70’s. Eric Clapton played guitar on two tracks from Benno’s 1979 album Lost in Austin, recorded in London, produced by Glyn Johns who was famous for producing The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. He toured with Rita Coolidge as lead guitarist and band leader opening for The Byrds at Royal Albert Hall in London! After two years serving as Lightnin Hopkins bandleader and lead guitarist, Benno formed Marc Benno & TheNightcrawlers, opening shows across America for Humble Pie and The J. Geils Band. One of the Crawlers was a young guitarist named Stevie Ray Vaughan. Benno’s career got an unexpected boost in 1985, when his song “Rock & Roll Me Again”, recorded by The System for the movie Beverly Hills Cop, won a Grammy for Best Composition for a Motion Picture Soundtrack! Guitar World Magazine credits Benno for giving The Doors a Texas flavor, with his style of guitar playing on their album titled LA Woman release in 1971. He is featured on The Doors Greatest Hits album. Leon Russell’s Greatest Hits, a long overdue release, features the Asylum Choir II classic, Tryin to Stay Live, co-authored by Marc and Leon.
THE FLOCK - Truth: The Columbia Recordings 1969-1970 (2017)
Hailing from Chicago, The Flock was one of the most original groups to emerge on the late 1960s buoyant music scene. Along with their fellow Chicagoans Blood Sweat & Tears and Chicago, The Flock were highly original in their musical approach, successfully fusing jazz, rock, blues and even classical influences. The band recorded three singles in 1966 and 1967 before changing musical direction and recruiting virtuoso electric violinist Jerry Goodman to their ranks. With a line-up of Fred Glickstein (guitar, lead vocals), Jerry Goodman (violin), Jerry Smith (bass), Ron Karpman (drums), Rick Canoff (saxophone), Tom Webb (saxophone) and Frank Posa (trumpet), The Flock came to the attention of manager Aaron Russo, owner of Chicago’s famous Kinetic Playground venue. Russo secured the band a contract with Columbia Records for whom The Flock recorded two excellent albums for the label, “The Flock” (1969) and “Dinosaur Swamps” (1970). Despite enthusiastic critical acclaim and patronage of established musicians such as John Mayall (who declared them to be the best band in America in 1969), The Flock sadly failed to fulfill their commercial potential and their classic line-up broke up in 1971, with Jerry Goodman joining The Mahavishnu Orchestra, but they did leave a recorded legacy of fine music.
Truth – The Columbia Recordings 1969 – 1970 celebrates the music of this excellent band and features both of their Columbia albums in re-mastered form, along with six rare single tracks previously unissued on CD and six rare non-album session recordings from 1969 & 1970, including a re-recording of their early single What Would You Do If the Sun Died. The anthology features an illustrated booklet that includes a new essay with an exclusive interview with Flock guitarist Fred Glickstein.
ROGER McGUINN - The First Five... (1973/77)
As the frontman of the Byrds, Roger McGuinn and his trademark 12-string Rickenbacker guitar pioneered folk-rock and, by extension, country-rock, influencing everyone from contemporaries like the Beatles to acolytes like Tom Petty and R.E.M. in the process. James Joseph McGuinn was born on July 13, 1942, in Chicago, where by his teenage years he was already something of a folk music prodigy. After touring with the Limelighters, in 1960 he signed on as an accompanist with the Chad Mitchell Trio, appearing on the LPs Mighty Day on Campus and At the Bitter End; frustrated with his limited role in the group, he soon joined Bobby Darin's group when the singer moved from pop to folk. After appearing on sessions for Hoyt Axton, Judy Collins, and Tom & Jerry (soon to be known as Simon & Garfunkel), McGuinn began playing solo dates around the Los Angeles area, where he soon formed the Jet Set with area musicians David Crosby and Gene Clark. After a failed single under the name the Beefeaters, the group recruited bassist Chris Hillman and drummer Michael Clarke, changed their name to the Byrds, and set about crystallizing McGuinn's vision of merging the poetic folk music of Bob Dylan with the miraculous pop sounds heard via the British Invasion.
McGuinn was the only member of the Byrds to play on their landmark debut single "Mr. Tambourine Man," but his jangly guitar work quickly became the very definition of the burgeoning folk-rock form; still, despite the Byrds' immediate success, both commercially and critically, the group was plagued by internal strife, and following the release of their 1968 country-rock breakthrough Sweetheart of the Rodeo, McGuinn was the only founding member still in the band. Under the direction of McGuinn who had changed his first name to Roger after a flirtation with the Subud religion the Byrds soldiered on, delving further and further into country and roots music before finally dissolving in February 1973. That same year, McGuinn issued his self-titled solo debut, an ambitious, eclectic affair which explored not only folk and country but surf and even space rock. 1974's Peace on You and 1975's Roger McGuinn & His Band preceded a stint with Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue, which helped revitalize his standing within the musical community. 1976's Cardiff Rose was regarded as his best solo effort to date, but the next year's Thunderbyrd, which featured a cover of Tom Petty's "American Girl," failed to connect with audiences.
In late 1977, McGuinn reunited with Byrds mates Chris Hillman and Gene Clark; the resulting LP, 1979's McGuinn, Clark & Hillman, notched a Top 40 pop hit with the McGuinn-penned "Don't You Write Her Off." Midway through recording the follow-up, 1980's City, Clark departed, and the album was released under the name "Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman Featuring Gene Clark." Following another effort, 1981's McGuinn/Hillman, they went their separate ways. After undergoing another religious conversion, this time becoming a born-again Christian, McGuinn spent the remainder of the 1980s without a recording contract and performing solo dates. The appearance of a faux Byrds led by Michael Clarke prompted McGuinn to reform the group with Hillman and David Crosby in 1989, resulting in a series of club performances, an appearance at a Roy Orbison tribute, and a handful of new recordings for inclusion on a box set retrospective. In 1991 - the same year the Byrds were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame - McGuinn issued his first new solo recordings in over a decade, the all-star Back to Rio, which was met with great public and critical acclaim. Live From Mars, a retrospective of songs and stories, appeared in 1996.
NINA SIMONE - To Be Free: The Nina Simone Story (2008)
Eunice Kathleen Waymon (1933 – 2003), known professionally as Nina Simone was an American singer, songwriter, pianist, and civil rights activist. Her music spanned styles including classical, folk, gospel, blues, jazz, R&B, and pop. The sixth of eight children born to a poor family in Tryon, North Carolina, Simone initially aspired to be a concert pianist. With the help of a few supporters in her hometown, she enrolled in the Juilliard School of Music in New York City. She then applied for a scholarship to study at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where she was denied admission despite a well received audition, which she attributed to racism. In 2003, just days before her death, the Institute awarded her an honorary degree. To make a living, Simone started playing piano at a nightclub in Atlantic City. She changed her name to "Nina Simone" to disguise herself from family members, having chosen to play "the devil's music" or so-called "cocktail piano". She was told in the nightclub that she would have to sing to her own accompaniment, which effectively launched her career as a jazz vocalist. She went on to record more than 40 albums between 1958 and 1974, making her debut with Little Girl Blue. She had a hit single in the United States in 1958 with "I Loves You, Porgy". Her musical style fused gospel and pop with classical music, in particular Johann Sebastian Bach, and accompanied expressive, jazz-like singing in her contralto voice.
To Be Free: The Nina Simone Story is a 3 CD Career Retrospective (1957-1993) including her work for Bethlehem, Colpix, Philips, RCA, CTI and Elektra, PLUS a DVD featuring the 1970 Emmy-nominated never-before-released documentary. This package includes 54 songs, 8 previously unreleased tracks, including some never recorded elsewhere. The box includes all chart hits (U.S. and U.K.) and her most famous signature songs. An added bonus are liner notes which include track-by-track commentary from Simone biographer, David Nathan, and introduction by Ed Ward, NPR's "rock & roll historian", and never-before-seen photos from her family archives, recording sessions and performances.
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