lördag 24 februari 2018

CONTACT/UTMARKER 2379.023 (-71) SWEDEN

(eng. "Outskirts") A follow-up to their then surprisingly successful second LP "Hon Kom Över Mon" (see earlier post). As that was partly garage psych with left-wing lyrics released on the independent MNW label I guess nobody had expected a breakthrough, but when it started to sell the band moved over to the much more resourceful Polydor label for this third and, as it turned out, last album before break-up. I get about the same message here, just conveyed a lot smoother - political input not as strong and garage feeling totally gone, which would be expected when recorded for a world-wide company with access to the best studios. A good album with a couple of highlights, but a little too polished for my taste thus hampering direct connection. With that in mind there are still four cuts that hit me hard. "Fyrvaktarns Dotter" (The Lighthouse Keepers Daughter) and "Ode Till En Fjord" (Ode To A Fiord), both catchy folk rock with melodic support by fiddler trio "Skäggmanslaget" (League Of Bearded Men). I also like the jazzy title track because of its desolate atmosphere and the country ballad "Västerns Son" (Son Of The West) - about a Vietnam deserter - with verse in Swedish and refrain in English. In my world an album not as good as HKÖM, but those four songs makes it worthwhile and a keeper. Released in Sweden only. Never reissued on CD, but most of the tracks can be found on the 2004 MNW CD compilation "Samma Vindar, Samma Dofter" (Same Winds, Same Scents) (MNWCD 2015). Premiere vinyl had label as shown here and laminated fold/out cover. (SCÄ*) (CCÖ*)

onsdag 21 februari 2018

ZEPHYR CPLP 4510-S (-69) US

Colorado white blues band founded as "Etheral Zephyr" 1969, today probably most known as an early springboard for guitar hero Tommy Bolin (1951-76). This debut, first released on US ABC:s psych/prog subsidiary Probe, did fairly well at first and became the label's most successful album, managing Billboard #48. But it seems the response today, from former fans as well as professional reviewers, comes more lukewarm - discribed as "an ok blues album" or "likable enough". Maybe that has to do with expectations. First thing I'm hearing is the then uncategorized blend of white blues, hard rock, prog and garage, not uncommon for that period before the genres started to subdivide. A band playing what they like without worrying too much about stamps or sales. Impression is post-produced live in the studio, like softened garage, and the audio is splendid allowing connection. Singer Candy Givens (1947-84) has been repudiated as a Janis Joplin sound-alike, though to my ears she wares it well and once you're over that semblance it works just fine. Band sounds tight, with a very promising 18 y.o. Tommy Bolin at the guitar. Not yet the virtuoso he would turn out to be - e.g. his effort in Billy Cobham's "Spectrum" - but with enough skill to raise this album way above average. Favorite tracks - "Sail On" a blues/prog/hard rock anthem with tempo changes and good guitars, "Cross The River" jazzy prog with amazing guitars and "Huna Buna" where Candy Givens sounds as herself and it's good. UK 1969 on Probe (SBP 1006). Early releases also in Canada, Italy, South America and Downunder. Japan 2015 CD on Wasabi Records (WSBAC-0013) came with four bonus tracks. Premiere US had label as shown here and glossy fold/out cover. (YZÄ*) (FÄV*)

måndag 19 februari 2018

PICNIC - A BREATH OF FRESH AIR SHSS 1/2 (-70) UK

A to me indispensable 2-LP promotional sampler, containing cuts from eighteen Harvest albums released 1969-70, most of them getting hard or almost impossible to find at an ok price today. And there's further frosting on this cake - first issue of the Pink Floyd song "Embryo" and the only place for it till 1983, when it showed up on the US Capitol collection "Works". Too much good stuff to go in detail with here, just check the track list below. Got many favorites, but to mention a few - Pretty Things "The Good Mr. Square", Bakerloo "This Worried Feeling", Quatermass "Black sheep Of The Family", Syd Barrett "Terrapin" and of course - "Embryo". If I have to say something negative - most tracks are cut very loud, which fits some of the songs while others are on the edge of cracking. Not too bad - Deep Purple "Into The Fire" bursts all seams while the rest plays enjoyable enough. This sampler is getting quite scarce, but not super rare and copies still show up in used bins at affordable prices. Should You spot one of those don't hesitate, just pick, pay and run! 1970 release also in Germany (Harvest 1C 178-04 424/25). Never reissued on CD. The 2007 UK Harvest 3xCD compilation "A Breath Of Fresh Air : A Harvest Records Anthology 1969-74" though carrying fiftytwo tracks only had three in common with this. Premiere UK had label as shown here and laminated fold out cover with "29/11" price sticker. (SÄM*) (HÄVL*)

lördag 17 februari 2018

ELECTRIC FOOD E 424 (-70) GERMANY

One of many early incarnations of the band that later would emerge as Lucifer's Friend. Here working as a backing combo to (uncredited) singer George Mavros for the German "Europa" label. Showing on a rather common set-up at the time, where aspiring groups were hired cheaply by budget labels to anonymously play on recordings then issued to cash in on the flavour of the day. Another known exemple on that would be The Good Earth "Hard Rock And All That", preformed by a primary setting of Mungo Jerry and issued by UK Saga 1968 (see earlier post). But while that was a small catastrophy, today only loved by the most die-hard Mungo Jerry fans and a few stubborn garage freaks, this is already very good hard rock much in the same vein as the fully blossoming Lucifer's Friend. Nine self-penned tracks coupled with three covers. All in a style slenderly reminding of UK contemporaries as Uriah Heep or Spooky Tooth, yet with a personal touch taking it far from copying. Performance working on all levels - good singer, lots of howling guitars and hard working drums, production and mix sufficiant and audio a-ok. So it may have been sold as budget, but the outcome is certainly full price. Favorite tracks - the very heavy guitar larded "Tavern" and "Nosferatu" borderline psych with high-pitch groans spread over a carpet of fuzz. Album also released in Italy 1972 (same sleeve and number). Unofficial 2004 CD reissue on Mason Records contained both this and their second album "Flash". Early German vinyl had label as shown here and either laminated or matt sleeve. Not sure which was first. (GÖXÄ*)

torsdag 15 februari 2018

JOHN FRED AND HIS PLAYBOY BAND/AGNES ENGLISH LPS 2197 (-67) US STEREO

Louisiana band today mostly seen as a one-hit-wonder. Formed as "John Fred & His Playboys" 1956 by 15 y.o. John Fred Gourrier (1941-2005) and 1958 reached #82 on Billboard with the song "Shirley". Non of their next thirteen singles made any list impact and It was first with the 1967 "Judy In Disguise (with glasses)" - written as a kind of pastiche on The Beatles title "Lucy In The Skies With Diamonds" - they got a breakthrough, topping the US list and reaching top ten in a number of other countries. The follow-up - "Hey Hey Bunny" - managed a Billboard #57, but that was it and their next ten 45:s flunked. This album didn't make it that big either and aware of the background maybe you'd expect a bright shining hit surrounded by fillers, but it's not that bad. Most of the songs self-penned, stylistically ranging between blue-eyed soul/funk and contemporary brit-pop. John Fred is a very good singer, backing and arrangements impeccable and the audio on this US stereo lovely - coming through warm and well-mixed. And though JIDWG is the star of this show, some of the rest is good too. E.g. "Agnes English" a bouncy love song dedicated to a very British lady, "Up And Down" dance friendly up-tempo soul and the Alan Price-ish "She Shot A Hole In My Soul" quite catchy. As a whole maybe not life-changing, still good listening all through. Originally also released in Canada, South-africa, downunder and a couple of European countries. First UK on Pye International (NPL 28111). German 1991 CD Repertoire Records (REP 4153-WZ). Early US had label as shown here and thick glossy cover. (YZÄ*)

tisdag 13 februari 2018

LARRY CORYELL/CORYELL SVRL 19059 (-69) UK

Texan jazz guitarist (born Lorenz Albert Van DeLinder III 1943-2017), today known as "the godfather of fusion". After a period in music school he continued playing in a number of rock and jazz bands - among them The Free Spirits, Gary Burton and Chico Hamilton - before setting on a solo carreer and relesing his first own LP "Lady Coryell" (US Vanguard VSD 6509) early 1969. I first discovered him at the time of his third album "Spaces" (US Vanguard VSD 6558). A supergroup collaboration with John McLaughlin, Billy Cobham, Miroslav Vituos and Chick Corea, which was something totally new back then. Recorded more or less live in the studio, flaunting fast brilliant solos in an atmosphere somewhere between jazz and rock it struck hard and is now seen as the work that more or less fathered the jazz fusion genre. Me and my friends loved it and I remember vivid discussions who was the best guitarist - Coryell or McLaughlin. Today, as my ears are getting slower, I'm not that blinded by speed anymore, but actually prefer this his second album. It has jazzy parts, but the overall impression is more towards funk and blues. Guitars are still brilliant, though here against a steadier foundation making the listening more secure. For exemple - opening track "Sex" can best be described as funk psych with its warped vocals and reckless guitar sound and in the instrumental "Elementary Guitar Solo #5" he's working hard and fast, without once forgetting it's the blues. He may not be the best singer, but there's not much of that and you forget it anyway as soon as the next solo appears. The audio on this UK press is superb - big, bold and natural with a separation allowing every part to be heard clearly. Premiere US on Vanguard Apostolic (VSD 6547). Also originally released on Vanguard in Canada, France and Germany. Japan 2001 CD on King Record (KICP 777). First UK had label as shown here, heavy vinyl and fully laminated cover.

EVERY OTHER DAY

Have a lot on my hands at the moment so in the nearest future I wont be able to post this frequently. Starting tomorrow it'll be every other day instead. Not a huge change, so I hope it's OK. Thank's for checking in. Kindly/Erik

måndag 12 februari 2018

HAWKWIND LBS 83348 (-70) UK

Hawkwind's debute LP and by many also regarded the beginning of space-rock. There had been previous trials that, in retrospective, might fit the genre - for exemple the Pink Floyd cuts "Astronomy Domine", "Interstellar Overdrive" and "Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun" - but those still coined "psych" as they were part of a much wider repertoire. Hawkwind however stayed with the concept and can therefore be called the first true space-rockers. After just coming together and without even having a fixed name - first appearing as "Group X" or "Hawkwind Zoo" - they took part in a talent show and was there spotted by John Peel, which eventually led to a contract for Liberty label. Well at the recordings producer Dick Taylor (who'd just quit as guitarist in Pretty Things) had a hard time to organize any kind of acceptable outcome by conventional means and therefore decided to let them just do their thing live in the studio and then mold the result downstream. And that's about what I hear here. With exception of "Hurry On Sundown" opening and "Mirror Of Illusion" ending the set, all in between sounds like live takes more or less chopped up and divided into separate tracks. As first accustomed to their next two LP:s "In Search Of Space" and "Doremi Fasol Latido" I like it a lot. To my ears the folky "Hurry On Sundown", though good in itself, doesn't fit the ambience, but the rest is exactly how I want my Hawkwind - long hypnotic whim-filled parts with, what it seems, more concern for inner groove than public approval. Favorite tracks - "Paranoia" (both parts) and "Mirror Of Illusion". This press sounds marvellous - big, strong and natural with top separation it's still the Hawkwind original with best audio. 1970 issues in parts of Europe and South Africa. US 1971 on United Artists (UAS 5519). UK 1975 reissue on Sunset (SLS 50374). Japan 2010 remastered limited edition CD in paper sleeve (Liberty TOCP-95059) came with four bonus tracks. Very first UK on blue label was reputedly pressed in less that 1000 copies. I'm confident the black label copy shown here is quite early too as the matrixes are A-2/B-2, the vinyl more than medium thick (later pressings would have considerably thinner vinyl) and wrapped in the original matt fold/out cover. (HÖWK*)

lördag 10 februari 2018

MERIT HEMMINGSON/TROLLSKOG 4E 062-34604 (-72) SWEDEN

For artist background check post on her second album "Merit Hemmingson Plays". That was jazz/pop hammond interpretations of known songs, some reminding of Booker-T & The MG:s. After continuing the same idiom for a third RCA LP - "Merit!" - she switched label to Columbia and changed direction to Swedish traditional, resulting in an album trilogy - "Huvva!" (Yikes!), Trollskog" (Troll Forest) and "Bergtagen" (Bewitched) - where folk music, hymns, kulning (herding calls) and other pastoral tunes were transformed to jazz, pop and rock. This, the second, is subtitled "mer svensk folkmusik på beat" (more Swedish folk music on beat). It's divided into two suites, both stringing bits and pieces from more or less ancient Swedish music tradition into coherent sets of modern presentation. Hemmingson does all organ, some moog and most of the vocals as wordless tuning, humming or kulning. Backing mostly folk jazz played by studio musicians Janne Schaffer, Björn J:son Lindh and Sabu Martinez among many others, together with professional folk music practitioners. It's hard to pick any favourite track since it all stick together. I guess there are two ways listening to it - either you're already familiar with the underlying tradition and then it'll come rather natural, or you're not and it will take lots of good work to get in. No run-of-the-mill folk album, but interesting as it is. To my knowledge released in Sweden only, also on cassette (same number) and 1992 CD (EMI 4750192). Premiere vinyl had label as shown here and laminated fold/out cover. (FÄV*) (SCÄ*) (CCÖ*)

fredag 9 februari 2018

CHICAGO 66233 (-70) UK

As I'm feeling abnormally tired this very early morn my first plan was to more or less copy last week's post on Chicago's debute for this their second album, cause it's the same blend of experimental and melodic, skillfully performed and carrying many memorable moments. Since I haven't listened properly to it for a year or so I took it for a spin and all was exactly as I remembered - like a joyride with a couple of very good friends. And somewhere in there I rediscovered "25 Or 6 To 4". Always liked that song before, but now it became so much more. Suddely it drew me in and I felt like getting a well needed fuel injection. The beautiful melody...hard working drums...elaborate brass and ethereal guitars...braided together to a piece of art...wow and goosebumps everywhere. Played it five times already and only fear of getting evicted made me stop. No clue why it hit me so hard this very moment. Maybe lack of sleep has made me peculiarly impressionable, or it is that good and never really realized it before. In any case it feels fine and now, if the neighbours allow, I must play it just one more time...