In The Land of Free, we still keep on Rockin'

Plain and Fancy

"I hope for nothing, I fear nothing, I am free"


Monday, February 27, 2017

Julie Felix - Clotho's Web (1972 us / uk, amazing folk rock with great accompaniment, 2009 remaster and expanded)



From the opening title track, with its arresting arrangement possibly masterminded by John Paul Jones, it’s immediately clear that this is an album to be taken seriously. At the time of its release, Julie Felix was already well established, having enjoyed ample BBC TV coverage for her easy folk song interpretations. By 1970, however, she was ready to move forward when she signed with Mickie Most.

The first 12 tracks here make up her Clotho’s Web album, which features all Felixpenned songs bar one. More importantly, it pulled in fuller instrumentation from the likes of Danny Thompson, Big Jim Sullivan, Davey Johnstone and the aforementioned Mr Jones, whose work with Most’s production helped make the resultant collection striking, atmospheric and highly convincing. Felix’s vocals are strong, confident and are placed well up front. Eight bonuses, mostly non-album singles, are added, making this a good value package. Worth the price of admission for the title track alone, which stands as one of the great folk-rock moments.
by Kingsley Abbott


Tracks
1. Clotho's Web - 3:35
2. Windy Morning - 3:05
3. Fire Water Earth And Air - 3:06
4. Clickety Clack - 2:57
5. Beside The Still Fjord - 2:47
6. The Ballad Of San Andreas (John Carter, Gillian Shakespeare) - 3:22
7. Hills Of May - 1:55
8. Moonlight - 2:41
9. Happiness - 3:48
10.The Lean Years - 3:05
11.Summer On Fire - 4:36
12.Lady - 4:24
13.Heaven Is Here (Errol Brown, Tony Wilson) - 3:12
14.Soon - 3:28
15.Watching, Waiting - 2:22
16.Portrait of A Mistress As A Young Girl - 3:51
17.If I Could - 3:12
18.Alone - 2:33
19.Snakeskin - 3:08
20.Moonlight - 3:01
All compositions by Julie Felix except where stated

Musicians
*Julie Felix - Vocals, Guitar
*Big Jim Sullivan - Guitars
*Cozy Powell - Drums
*Danny Thompson - Bass
*Davey Johnstone - Guitar
*Dougie Wright - Drums
*John "Rabbit" Bundrick - Keyboards
*John Fiddy - Bass
*John Paul Jones - Bass
*Stephan Grossmann - Guitar

1966  Julie Felix - Changes (Vinyl issue)
1967  Julie Felix - Flowers (Vinyl release)  

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Friday, February 24, 2017

Shawn Phillips - Rumplestiltskin's Resolve (1976 us, extraordinary progressive art folk rock, 2013 remaster)



Upon reflection, the front sleeve for Rumplestiltskin’s Resolve might have helped its initial dismissal, in 1976, as raggle-taggle hippie meandering, but it’s worth fresh appraisal today. 

Shawn Phillips delivered a work of lyrical invention and gentle beauty – though he could also surprise, as the disco-influenced Hie Away proves with its tale of “the thanatoid elite, with rattling and multi-prattling tongues” riding on a bed of ARP synths, bass and sax. 

Mostly recorded and mixed in California, Rumplestiltskin’s Resolve varies from the strong and suitably ordered Early Morning Hours, through the lengthier Today and the lyrically simpler Serendipity Peace, to the multi-sectioned title track that closes the album. Throughout, Phillips ensures that his vocals suit each song’s needs, whether that be invoking the intimacy of Nick Drake or Cat Stevens, or, elsewhere, providing a bolder, confident delivery. Still sounding fresh nearly 40 years on, this is certainly one to investigate.
by Kingsley Abbott


Tracks
1. Early Morning Hours - 5:22
2. Spitefull - 4:55
3. Today - 10:24
4. Wailing Wall - 5:54
5. Hie Away - 5:33
6. Serendipity Peace - 2:50
7. Rumplestiltskin's Resolve - 7:16
All compositions by Shawn Phillips

Musicians
*Shawn Phillips - Chimes, Guitar, Sitar, Vocals
*Paul Buckmaster - Keyboards, Organ
*Michael Clarke - Drums
*Barry Desouza - Drums
*John Gustafson - Bass
*Steve Hammond - Guitars
*Paul Jackson - Bass
*Robert Lichtig - Bass
*Mike Miller - Bass, Guitars
*John Pullen - Oboe, Organ
*Caleb Quaye - Guitar
*Peter Robinson - Keyboards, Percussion, Piano, Synthesizer
*Bill Summers - Percussion
*Albert Wing - Saxophone

1970  Shawn Phillips - Contribution / Second Contribution (2009 remaster)
1969-72  Shawn Phillips - Faces (2014 remaster)
1974  Shawn Phillips - Furthermore (2014 issue)
1977  Shawn Phillips - Spaced (2013 remaster)  

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Lydia Pense And Cold Blood - Live Blood (2008 us, superb blues jazz funky brass rock)



Live Blood was recorded at the Sunbanks Music Festival in Washington State, and captures the band in their most natural of habitats: on stage and smokin. Live Blood is what Cold Blood fans have been waiting forlightning in a bottle, laid down by a tight six-piece band, fronted by the incomparable Ms. Pense. Live Blood stays true to the throbbing, thumping, horn-laced tunes for which the band has come to be known.

Lydia’s vocals are right-on and she’s sounding  as good as she ever has.  Needless to say Cold  Blood’s performance is all about funk and soul, capturing the magic  from the beginning of this record with the opening  killer version  of ‘I Just Want To Make Love To You", the 13 minutes "Funky On My Back" is a remarkable jam trip with guitar blasts, dymanic vocals and wind instruments..


Tracks
1. I Just Wanna Make Love To You (Willie Dixon) - 6:52
2. Can't Take It (Don't Give A Damn) (L. White) - 4:47
3. No Way Home (Raul Matute, Danny Hull) - 5:08
4. I'm A Good Woman (Barbara Lynn Ozen) - 4:28
5. Funky On My Back (Cecil Stoltie, Danny Hull, Larry Field, Lydia Pense, Raul Matute, Rod Ellicott) - 13:03
6. Back Here Again (Paul Tillman Smith) - 7:39
7. Face The Music (Steve Dunne) - 5:09
8. It Takes A Lot Of Good Lovin (Alvertis Isbell, Booker T. Jones) - 5:09
9. You Got Me Hummin' (David Porter, Isaac Hayes) - 8:37

The Cold Blood
*Lydia Pense - Lead Vocals
*Steve Dunne - Guitars, Vocals
*Donny Baldwin - Drums, Vocals
*Robert Zuckerman - Saxophones, Flute
*Rich Armstrong - Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Percussion, Vocals
*Stephen Salinas - Keyboards, Vocals
*Evan Palmertson - Bass

1969-70  Cold Blood - Cold Blood / Sisyphus
1972  Cold Blood - First Taste Of Sin
1973  Cold Blood - Thriller
1973  Cold Blood - Vintage Blood Live
1974  Cold Blood ‎- Lydia (2004 remaster)

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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Redbone - Beaded Dreams Through Turquoise Eyes (1974-75 us, pleasant blue eyed soul with funky and roots 'n' roll tones, 2013 expanded reissue)



A blend of contrasts highlights this fine record, from a group that seems equally at home with hard rockers, what used to be called "blue eyed soul" or wekk handled ballads. Adept at using a single lead voice with backup chorus or working with harmony.

Redbone have put together an exceptionally comercial set here with virtually every cut showing single possibility. Use of strings aids rather thatm hinders the material on the few cuts where they offered and the production of Pat and Lolly Vegas is superb. 
B/Board October 1974


Tracks
1. One More Time (Lolly Vegas) - 3:05
2. Suzi Girl (Lolly Vegas) - 2:58
3. Only You And Rock And Roll (Pat Vegas, Lolly Vegas) - 3:01
4. Blood Sweat And Tears (Pat Vegas) - 2:51
5. Cookin' With D'redbone (Lolly Vegas) - 3:57
6. (Beaded Dreams Through) Turquoise Eyes (Pat Vegas) - 3:22
7. Beautiful Illusion (Lolly Vegas) - 3:42
8. Interstate Highway 101 (Pat Vegas) - 2:55
9. I'll Never Stop Loving You (Pat Vegas, Lolly Vegas, James Ford) - 2:49
10.Moon When Four Eclipse (Lolly Vegas) - 4:48
11.I've Got To Find The Right Woman (Lolly Vegas) - 3:15
12.Physical Attraction (Pat Vegas) - 2:59
13.Keep Me Uptight (Pat Vegas, Lolly Vegas) - 6:08
14.To Get the Love I Need (Pat Vegas, Lolly Vegas) - 3:02
15.A Little Bitty Ditty (Pat Vegas, Lolly Vegas) - 2:59
16.Echoes From Another Planet (Pat Vegas) - 3:39

The Redbone
*Lolly Vegas - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Tony Bellamy - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
*Patrick Vegas - Bass, Vocals
*Butch Rillera - Drums, Percussion, Vocals

1970  Redbone - Redbone (2006 edition)
1972  Redbobe - Already Here (2011 bonus tracks reissue)

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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Quintessence - Spirits From Another Time (1969-71 uk based international multicultural trippy psych prog rock, 2016 double disc set)



Formed in fashionable Ladbroke Grove in 1969, this international six-piece played extended, improvisatory compositions highlighted by lengthy guitar solos, flute, sitar and communal, Indian-inspired chanting. They took on Eastern names to match their philosophies, with Australian flautist and founder Ronald Rothfield becoming Raja Ram, for example, and American bassist Richard Vaughan known as Shambhu Babaji. Far from a niche, underground concern, however, Quintessence quickly signed to Island after a major-label bidding war, and soon appeared frequently in the music weeklies, and even live on BBC2 and in Nicolas Roeg’s Glastonbury Fayre. Across five studio albums, ranging from 1969’s In Blissful Company to 1972’s Indweller, they journeyed into their own groovy mysticism, lyrically paying as much heed to St Pancras and Ladbroke Grove as to Mount Kailash and various deities.

Despite their popularity at the time, they have since slipped under the radar in recent years, being denied the resurgence of, say, The Incredible String Band, or even the credibility of weirder Eastern-inspired acts like The Third Ear Band. Spirits From Another Time attempts to rectify this, with two CDs of outtakes and alternative recordings from the vaults, many forgotten by their creators and in need of reconstruction; two cuts here even feature new guitar and vocals from Dave ‘Maha Dev’ Codling and Phil ‘Shiva’ Jones.

The results are impressive, though Quintessence were clearly at their best when they abandoned their scenester pretensions and Jones’ slightly hammy vocals, and instead launched into relaxed improvisation. Disc One’s 12-minute take of “Epitaph For Tomorrow” is stunning, a steady, subtle groove over which lead guitarist Allan Mostert is free to slowly unwind his subtle soloing, his instrument increasingly affected by echo and wah-wah effects; “Body” similarly embarks on some swinging guitar improvisation, while opener “Notting Hill Gate” moves from exhortations of meditation and “getting it straight” into peals of echoed flute and buzzing sitar. What’s most striking is the restrained, almost ambient manner of their sound, presumably aimed straight at enlightenment rather than hedonism.

If Quintessence’s music is at times too time-stamped, and lyrics like “celestial wine filling you with divinity” too gauche for the cynical decades that came after, perhaps now, with the continuing resurgence of new age music and renewed appreciation for the likes of the Grateful Dead, is the right time again to appreciate these overlooked cosmic adventurers.
by Tom Pinnock


Tracks
Disc 1
1. Notting Hill Gate (Ronald Rothfield, Shiva Shankar Jones) - 5:42
2. Brahman - 5:38
3. Sea Of Immortality (Version 1) - 5:41
4. Epitaph For Tomorrow - 11:40
5. Only Love (Take 3) - 7:11
6. Spirits From Another Time - 1:22
7. Untitled Guitar - 2:33
8. Hari Om - 3:16
9. Body - 5:41


Disc 2
1. Sea Of Immortality (Version 2) - 5:30
2. Tree Of Life - 6:35
3. You Never Stay The Same - 6:32
4. Only Love (Take 2) - 7:59
5. Marwa - 3:10
6. Wonders Of The Universe - 3:38
7. Maha Mantra - 6:01
8. Untitled Harpsichord - 2:00
9. Sunlit Kitchens - 3:33
10.Twilight Zones (Lyrics by Stanley Barr) - 6:01
11.Move Into The Light - 6:25
All compositions by Quintessence except where noted

The Quintessence
*Allan Mostert - Lead Guitar
*Dave Codling - Rhythm Guitar
*Jake Milton - Drums
*Ron Rothfield - Flute
*Shambhu Babaji - Bass Guitar
*Shiva Shankar Jones - Vocals

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Second Hand - Death May Be Your Santa Claus (1971 uk, intense prog experimental rock, 2010 remaster)



By the time Second Hand released this, the band's second album, in 1971, the progressive elements were much stronger, and the group went further with experimentation. Only a couple tracks have guitar, but there are plenty of high-energy rockers just the same, especially the title track, "Lucifer and the Egg," and "Somethin' You Got," and the lack of guitar is more than made up for by plenty of long, wild organ solos. "Hangin' on an Eyelid" adds in easy listening elements to a rock song for an oddly effective mix.

The experimental leanings become especially prevalent on the second side of the record, where the group leaves song structure aside for several segued tracks of bizarre, mostly instrumental material, a wise choice given that Rob Elliott is only a marginally better vocalist than his brother Ken, who sang on the first album. (Fortunately, on many of the tracks they use processing to make the vocals sound more interesting.) "Cyclops" is a long instrumental of mostly keyboards, whereas "Sic Transit Gloria" has some weird chanting and explosions before suddenly going into "Revelations Ch. 16, Vs. 9-12" with nightmarish tones. The two bonus tracks on the CD, placed between the two sides rather than at the end, are quirky pop songs, one of which has guest saxophonist Lol Coxhill. 
by Rolf Semprebon


Tracks
1. Death May Be Your Santa Claus (Ken Elliott) - 2:37
2. Hangin' On An Eyelid (Ken Elliott) - 4:19
3. Lucifer And The Egg (Ken Elliott) - 7:49
4. Somethin' You Got (Kieran O'Connor) - 2:57
5. Cyclops (George Hart, Ken Elliott) - 6:30
6. Sic Transit Gloria Mundi (George Hart, Ken Elliott, Kieran O'Connor) - 1:01
7. Revelations Ch. 16 Vs. 9-21 (Ken Elliott, Mike Craig) - 3:35
8. Take To The Skies (Ken Elliott, Mike Craig) - 2:04
9. Death May Be Your Santa Claus (Reprise) (Ken Elliott) - 5:21
10.Funeral (Paul Greedus, Alan Morgan) - 3:01
11.Dip It Out Of The Bog Fred (Ken Elliott) - 1:38
12.Baby RU Anudder Monster? (Ken Elliott) - 3:22

The Second Hand
*Ken Elliott - Organ, Mellotron, Vocals, Piano
*Kieran O'Connor - Percussion, Drums, Noise, Vibraphone, Vocals
*George Hart - Bass, Vocals, Violin
*Moggy Mead - Guitar
*Rob Elliot - Vocals
Guest Musicians
*Lol Coxhill - Saxophone
*Tony Mcgill - Guitar

1968  Second Hand - Reality

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Saturday, February 11, 2017

American Blues - Do Their Thing (1969 us, superb psych blues rock, 2016 korean remaster)



Released by MCA's Uni subsidiary, 1969's "The American Blues Do Their Thing" was a major improvement. Self-produced, the collection found the band opting for a major change in direction. Written by the Hills, material such as the lead-off "You Were So Close To Me", "Captain Fire" and "Just Plain Jane" found the band attempting to capitalize on San Francisco-styled psychedelics. 

Elsewhere, the collection found the group mining a more conventional rock format; "Wonder Man" and "Shady" reflecting a distinctive Cream-influence, while the blazing "Comin' Back Home" (complete with Beard and Rocky Hill meltdown solos) offered up a nice Hendrix imitation. Sure, it was largely derivative, but that didn't lessen the enjoyment factor. A commercial failure, Uni promptly dropped the band. (On a personal note, we've always wondered about the discrepancy between the front and back covers showing a trio and the liner notes listing four members.) Beard promptly left to join the newly formed ZZ Top, quickly recruiting Dusty bassist.


Tracks
1. You Were So Close To Me - 3:32
2. Wonder Man - 2:25
3. Just Plain Jane - 2:37
4. Shady - 2:08
5. Comin' Back Home - 5:35
6. Captain Fire - 3:20
7. Chocolate Ego - 3:06
8. Nightmare Of A Wise Man - 3:26
9. Dreams - 2:58
10.Softly To The Sun - 2:34
All selections by Dusty Hill, Rocky Hill

The American Blues 
*Dusty Hill - Bass, Lead Vocals
*Frank Beard - Drums, Vocals
*Rocky Hill - Guitar, Vocals
*Doug Davis - Keyboards, Vocals

1968  American Blues - Is Here

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