viernes, 23 de octubre de 2015

COMMANDER CODY - Live From Armadillo World Headquarters 1973 and The Capitol Theatre 1975 [USA roots 2007] SPV

There have been many dubious live offerings by the classic Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen over the years. This is not to say that the tapes weren't licensed in some way -- perhaps they put some much needed pocket change in the various ex-members' pockets, which is fine. But this one is an authoritative reissue; one of these two discs has not previously been heard on CD. In some ways, this is the real Grail for those looking for Lost Planet Airmen rarities and shows. Issued on the SPV Blue imprint, disc one in this collection, recorded in 1973 at the Armadillo World Headquarters, contains the editing-room casualties from the band's first live album, Live from Deep in the Heart of Texas. While the released set has the official distinction of being one of Rolling Stone mag's greatest 100 records of all time, hardcore fans knew it was in some ways a hatchet job because it doesn't flow the way a Commander show usually did. What's on this disc is the reason: 13 of these cuts were issued on the Music Avenue label as Texas Roadhouse Favorites in 2006, but this set contains 17. It's the rock and blues set with a few country and trucker faves such as "What Made Milwaukee Famous" and "Truck Driving Man" thrown in. But this is a burning live rock and blues set. The horn section was especially tight on this night, and never sounded better. The second disc was recorded at the Capitol Theater in Port Chester, NY, in 1975, during the band's Warner Bros. period. For those in the know, the Warner recordings (reissued by Wounded Bird on CD, thank God) are vastly underrated and are essential for anyone interested in this band. (This does not include the live We've Got a Live One Here!, an abomination issued to fulfill a contract.) This set is a little dodgier in terms of sound, but the performance is even stronger. With 25 tracks clocking in at 78 minutes, this one is full of old and new tunes, originals, and covers: band standards like "Down to Seeds and Stems Again," "Truck Driving Man," "My Window Faces South," "Hot Rod Lincoln," and "Lookin' at the World Through a Windshield" are all here, but so are readings of "Cajun Rag," "Everybody's Doin' It," "Diggy Diggy Lo," "Keep on Lovin' Her," "Wine Do Your Stuff," "I'm Comin' Home," "Mama Tried," "Beat Me Daddy Eight to the Bar," and "Don't Let Go." It also includes the return of pedal steel boss Bobby Black to the band's fold after a stint with Barbara Mandrell. The rougher sound of the second volume does nothing to diminish the crackling energy and sheer sophisticated musicality of the performance. This double set -- at a reasonable price -- is a must for any fan of the Commander Cody/Lost Planet Airmen show. 

Commander Cody

viernes, 2 de octubre de 2015

TOMMY JAMES & THE SHONDELLS - Cellophane Symphony [USA pop psych 1969]

Cellophane Symphony, credited to Tommy James & the Shondells, came only seven catalog numbers after the Crimson & Clover album, but oddly got a Top Ten hit in between the four hits that the earlier disc spawned. "Sweet Cherry Wine" is as good a pop song as one will ever hear, hitting the Top Ten in April of 1969, five months after "Do Something to Me" and five months before "Sugar on Sunday," both from Crimson & Clover (though it was the Clique who clicked with their version of "Sugar on Sunday"). This beautiful song, "Sweet Cherry Wine," is the epitome of peace, love, and '60s understanding, with a sound that is very much like TJ's own version of "Sugar on Sunday." The radio attention to a single on the highly experimental Cellophane Symphony is equally extraordinary because the album is very much like Tommy James doing his own Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. There are oddities, like side one's closer, "Papa Rolled His Own," which could be "When I'm Sixty Four" meets "You Know My Name, Look up the Number"; two Beatles offbeat ditties; and the almost as wacky "On Behalf of the Entire Staff & Management," which ends side two. In between is some lovely pop music, which one finds after they trip their way through the amazing nine and a half minutes of the title track. The instrumental song "Cellophane Symphony" is early Pink Floyd meets "20,000 Light Years From Home" when the Stones gave Satanic Majesties Request. It is the only title credited to the entire band, followed by two of five Ritchie Cordell/Tommy James co-writes: the poppy and excellent "Makin' Good Time" and the beautiful "Evergreen." Covered in keyboards and acoustic guitar, "Evergreen" is Tommy James being the folky and the pop star, a unique look at this underrated and important artist. It's a perfect setup to "Sweet Cherry Wine," which is the standout track, the subtle intro exploding into a chorus of the best type of anti-war sentiment: "Let's just get along." Pete Lucia writes two songs with James, one being the amazing "Changes," which opens side two, while Mike Vale helps James on "Loved One," making this a very special collection of ten songs wrapped up in a stunning black-and-white psychedelic cover of a hatch shell, empty benches, and cool '60s photography. Though Tommy James is all over the book Bubblegum Music Is the Naked Truth, he is beyond just an artist who hit with that genre. He's an artist whose value is evident on his country album, My Hed, My Bed, and My Red Guitar, as well as other catalog treats, like this disc with its strong compositions "Loved One," "The Love of a Woman," and the Richard Grasso/Tommy James hit that is a true pop classic, "Sweet Cherry Wine." 

jueves, 1 de octubre de 2015

REBIRTH - Into the Light [USA Jesus music folk rock 1970]

Great home-made vibes on this first custom lp from talented Virginia college students performing in a gently flowing electric hippie folk-rock groove. Soft dreamy harmonies with an edge, Elaine Warfel’s voice being particularly lovely. Spooky organ brings a twinge of psych to ‘Lovely America’ and the trippy title cut, the latter with electric guitar work that gives fleeting moments of Wilson McKinley and The Youngbloods. Also some piano backing on several tracks. Melodic ‘60s influences can be found on the delicate folky harpsichord-backed ‘Young Girl’, as well as the lively trumpet-backed pop tune ‘I Got Me’ which includes a few unexpected explosions of manic fuzz guitar. That’s quite a contrast from the quiet acoustic ballad ‘Life’ or their a cappella version of ‘Quiet Place’. Other covers include ‘The First Time’, ‘I Shall Be Released’ and ‘Hymn’. As with bands like The Bridge, I believe the appropriate word here is “charming”. See the entry under The Manifest Destiny for an earlier version of the group. (The Archivist, 4th Edition by Ken Scott).


BRINSLEY SCHWARZ - Silver Pistol [1971] Please Don't Ever Change [1973] 2004 BGO

This two-album-on-one-CD compilation captures Brinsley Schwarz at their musical peak on two levels. The material on Silver Pistol, arguably their best album, is remastered impeccably so that you can practically hear the action on the acoustic guitar strings on "Nightingale" and get just as close to the electric guitar on "Silver Pistol," while the electric bass on "The Last Time I Was Fooled" feels like it's in your lap. Those songs, along with "Unknown Number," "Merry-Go-Round," and "Egypt," were all authored by Nick Lowe, and alternating with some equally substantial contributions by Ian Gomm, they made Silver Pistol about the most dazzling body of American rock songwriting since the days when Neil Young, Stephen Stills, and Richie Furay were divvying up Buffalo Springfield's classic albums between them -- indeed, this CD makes one think of the artistic peak that the latter group never had a chance to reach, owing to personnel problems; and, in fact, Lowe's and Gomm's divergent yet not dissimilar roots-based styles call the Stills/Young pairing to mind on yet another level. And then there's the second half of the CD, the somewhat slapped-together contents of Please Don't Ever Change, any of which sounds like it could easily be among the best work of the band. And even that shows the levels of perfection Brinsley Schwarz were achieving on just the individual, one-off efforts they generated when they weren't shooting for any big targets. (And except for Showaddywaddy, what other group during the 1970s was covering the Cadillacs' "Speedo" as a serious number?). And all of it, off both albums, is presented in glittering state of the art digital audio and backed up with superb notes by Alan Robinson -- it's all a little bit of what one corner of rock & roll heaven should sound like.

lunes, 28 de septiembre de 2015

FRANKIE MILLER - Double Trouble [UK rock 1978]

Double Trouble is the fifth album by Frankie Miller. The album took shape in April 1978 at the Record Plant in New York, with Miller receiving backing from drummer BJ Wilson from Procol Harum, guitarist Ray Russell, two-man horn section Chris Mercer and Martin Drover, and keyboardist and vocalist Paul Carrack, who co-wrote five of the songs with Miller. Steven Tyler from Aerosmith also makes a guest appearance as backing vocalist.

ROOM 13 - Peaceful War [UK punk psychedelic 1980-82] Bevis Frond

After the demise of the Von Trap family, Room 13 rose like a phoenix from the ashes in the early 1980s. Sadly, it was a bit of a short-lived phoenix, as they only existed for a brief period before Nick's motorbike accident put an end to the band. Musically you could call them post-punk garage psychedelia if you really wanted an ill-fitting pigeonhole to squeeze them into - better to listen and decide for yourself. They released one incredibly rare 12" Single - Need Some Dub / Murder Mystery in 1982. This compilation comprises all of the studio cuts they recorded during that brief period and includes an LBC interview and their appearance on Jellybone Jury. One live recording exists which you can also find on this Bevis Frond site. The phoenix was to rise again in 1986 as the Bevis Frond, feeling altogether healthier.


martes, 11 de agosto de 2015

RANDY BURNS - Songs for an Uncertain Lady [USA folk 1970]

Burns, who was in the traditional Village acoustic folk mold when he started recording, was by his third album a folk-rock singer/songwriter, even if the songs didn't often use drums. Reserved to the point of recalcitrance, Burns sometimes recalls a way-lower-key (and also lower-voiced) Tim Hardin or Tim Buckley with his melancholy, though not quite gloomy, meditations on fragile and crumbling love affairs. As was habitual for ESP rock productions, these sometimes sound more like demos than polished results, particularly on those few cuts when a full band's involved. There are echoes of a lot of singer/songwriters here and there -- traces of Leonard Cohen and even James Taylor can be heard from time to time. And when several comparisons keep coming to mind, the chief drawback of the work is highlighted: Burns doesn't plow territory that's inimitably his, and while his songs are kind of melodic, they're not captivating. "Child for Now" is totally unlike the rest of the songs in that it's very much a fast-paced folk-funk workout in the style of tunes that Tim Buckley did in that vein, like "Gypsy Woman." "Deegen Street," the final and hardest-rocking track, is also wholly atypical of the record, uncannily mimicking the sound of 1969-1970 Neil Young.