Tuesday, 29 October 2019

The Band - Endless Highway (1973)

Most people probably already know the history of The Band, but a brief recap is always handy. The members of the group gradually came together in the Hawks, the backing group for Toronto-based rockabilly singer Ronnie Hawkins, with a line up of Levon Helm, Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel, and Garth Hudson when they eventually left Hawkins' band in 1963. In late summer 1965, Bob Dylan was looking for a backup band for his first U.S. 'electric' tour, and Levon And The Hawks (as they were then known) were recommended by blues singer John Hammond Jr., and although Dylan originally only wanted to hire Helm and Robertson, they told Dylan that out of loyalty to their bandmates that they would only continue with him if he hired all of the Hawks. Dylan accepted and invited Levon And The Hawks to tour with him. The band recorded some tracks with Dylan, and others feature one or two members, but they were mainly employed as his live backing band. On July 29, 1966, while on a break from touring, Dylan was injured in a motorcycle accident that precipitated his retreat into semi-seclusion in Woodstock, New York, and for a while The Hawks returned to the bar and roadhouse touring circuit. In February 1967 Dylan invited The Hawks to join him in Woodstock, and Danko, Manuel and Hudson rented a large pink house, which they named 'Big Pink', in nearby West Saugerties, where they started to record the songs which would later be bootlegged as 'The Basement Tapes'. The Hawks were also writing their own songs by this time, and in 1967 they went into the recording studio, even thouhg they still didn't have a name. After some rejected suggestions Robertson mentioned that during their time with Dylan everyone just referred to them as "the band" and the name stuck. 
'Music from Big Pink' was released in 1968 and was widely acclaimed, being followed by a series of well-received albums throughout the late 60's and early 70's. During the recordings there were usually one or two songs left over, and this album collects all the out-takes from those sessions, along with a few from the Basement Tapes period were the Band recorded without Dylan, but in a different form to the versions released on 'The Basement Tapes'. For 'Orange Juice Blues' Manuel and Danko laid down the basic track in Woodstock in 1967, and the contributions of the rest of the Band were overdubbed eight years later, but this take is the original performance, without overdubbing. It's been suggested that 'Bessie Smith' was recorded sometime between their 1969 second album and 'Stage Fright', although others says that it was recorded by the Band in 1975 in their Shangri-La studio in Los Angeles, as 'The Basement Tapes' was being prepared for official release. 'Long Distance Operator' was written by Dylan, and is an outtake from the 'Music from Big Pink' sessions, even though it appeared on 'The Basement Tapes', but this take is the longer version with an extra verse. The rest of the tracks were recorded by the group between 1971 and 1973 (or 1975 if you think 'Bessie Smith' is a later recording), and as their sound never really changed that much during their career then this album stands up pretty well as a Band record in its own right.  

Track listing

01 Long Distance Operator  
02 Orange Juice Blues (Blues For Breakfast)
03 Get Up Jake   
04 Endless Highway  
05 Baby Lou  
06 Bessie Smith  
07 Don't You Do It  
08 Didn't It Rain  
09 Crying Heart Blues  
10 Shakin'  
11 What Am I Living For   
12 Going Back To Memphis  

Enjoy / Enjoy

You might also like
The Band - 'The Basement Tapes'

Friday, 25 October 2019

Mott The Hoople - The Saturday Gigs (1974) UPDATE

For anyone who's downloaded this album, it's been pointed out to me that it contains a file which has some tracks missing, others that are in there that shouldn't be, and the whole thing in the wrong order. I have no idea how that happened, but luckily I still had all the original files so I've re-uploaded it to the original page, and you can now download the correct album from there.

The Mars Volta - Thirteen Seconds (2008)

The story of The Mars Volta is a rather strange one from my perspective, as I'll admit from the start that I've never been a great fan of At The Drive-In, even though their 2000 album 'Relationship Of Command' is generally regarded as a high-point in indie rock, and in theory they should be exactly the sort of band that I liked in the early noughties. So when Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala left At The Drive-In to form their own band I never gave them a second thought - until I heard a track from 'Deloused In The Comatorium' on the radio. I don't remember which track it was, and it doesn't really matter, but it was exactly the sort of prog/indie/experimental music that I was into, and I bought the album the same week. Apparently there were always strained relationships in At The Drive-In, with Rodriguez-Lopez and Bixler-Zavala being unhappy with the mainstream direction the band was taking, and so they quit in 2001 to experiment with their dub-influenced side-project De Facto, but with the addition of Eva Gardner on bass and Blake Fleming on drums they recorded two tracks which would become the first demo for The Mars Volta. Jon Theodore replaced Fleming on drums, and with former De Facto members Isaiah Owens on keyboards and Jeremy Ward on sound manipulation joining the band, they recorded their first EP 'Tremulant', which was released in early 2002. 
Following 'Tremulant', The Mars Volta continued touring with a fluid line-up while preparing to record their debut full-length album 'De-Loused in the Comatorium', produced with Rick Rubin and released in 2003. Whereas 'Tremulant' had no general theme, the album was a unified work of speculative fiction telling the first-person story of someone in a drug-induced coma, battling the evil side of his mind. The Mars Volta had no official bassist during the recording session, but Flea (of the Red Hot Chili Peppers) played bass on nine of the album's ten songs, with Justin Meldal-Johnsen playing double bass on 'Televators'. A permanent replacement was found in Juan Alderete, but then during a tour with The Red Hot Chili Peppers in support of the album, founding member Jeremy Michael Ward died of a heroin overdose. The band cancelled the tour's second leg, and the first single from the album was later dedicated to Ward. As the band resumed touring, they added Marcel Rodríguez-López (Omar's brother) on percussion, and work on their second album began in 2004. 
'Frances the Mute' was another concept album, with the story based on a diary that had been found in a repossessed car by late sound technician Jeremy Ward, while working as a repo-man. The author of the diary is unknown but appeared to be someone who was adopted and was searching for their birth parents, and who may have suffered from mental illness caused by the death of a loved one. The lyrics for each track on the album are loosely based on characters and life events described in this person's diary. Several songs written during the original recording sessions for the album never made the final cut, most notably, the self-titled 14-minute epic 'Frances the Mute', which was originally intended to open the album, and was ultimately supposed to decode the album's concept, but was not included due to time constraints. 
After finishing the tour for 'Frances the Mute' in 2005, Rodríguez-López traveled to Amsterdam and wrote what became 'Amputechture', the band's third album, which was released in 2006. It was once again a concept album, but rather than telling a story, this album was a series of vignettes, with each song telling a different story. Red Hot Chili Pepper's guitarist John Frusciante played on nearly all of the album, except for 'Asilos Magdalena', and Rodríguez-López contributed the solos and riffs where the guitar work needed to be doubled. In 2006, Blake Fleming returned to fill the drummer slot, after Jon Theodore was fired, but he didn't last long and was soon replaced by Thomas Pridgen in 2007, and this line-up recorded their fourth album, 'The Bedlam in Goliath'. Despite finding a permanent drummer and getting the band back on track, the recording and production of the album was reportedly plagued by difficulties related to a bad experience with a Ouija board purchased in a curio shop in Jerusalem. According to Rodríguez-López, their original engineer experienced a nervous breakdown, his studio flooded twice, and both he and mixer Rich Costey claimed that various tracks would disappear at random. 
Their fifth album 'Octahedron', was issued in 2009, and 'Noctourniquet' followed in 2012, and then it was all over for the band, with Rodríguez-López deciding to put the Mars Volta on hold to fully concentrate on his new project, Bosnian Rainbows. In August 2013, a collection of unreleased songs, demos, alternate versions, and in-studio jams roughly spanning from 2005 until the 'Noctourniquet' sessions was leaked online, with the source remaining unknown. However, that's not what we have here, which is a collection of studio recordings which didn't make the albums, such as the 'Frances The Mute' title song, the full 'Tremulant' EP, some choice covers from Siouxsie And The Banshees, Pink Floyd, The Circle Jerks, Soft Machine, The Sugarcubes, and Nick Drake which came out on b-sides, as well as some hard to find bonus tracks from Japanese issues of their albums. I know that this music is something of an acquired taste if you are new to the band, so if that's the case then you are better off starting with 'Deloused In The Comatorium' and 'Frances The Mute', but for fans of the group I can guarantee that there's an abundance of treasures here. It's a long album, at just over an hour, but then us fans should be used to that by now from this band, and if there's enough interest I can post the 2013 bootleg later, although it is very bitty, and is only for the real fanatic.

Track listing

01 Cut That City (from the 'Tremulant' EP 2002)
02 Concertina (from the 'Tremulant' EP 2002)
03 Eunuch Provocateur (from the 'Tremulant' EP 2002)
04 Back Up Against The Wall (free download of Circle Jerks cover 2007)
05 Ambuletz (bonus track on Japanese 'De-Loused In The Comatorium' 2003)
06 Candy And A Currant Bun (hybrid vinyl/CD single - Pink Floyd cover 2008)
07 Frances The Mute (b-side of 'The Widow' 2005)
   - In Thirteen Seconds
   - Nineteen Sank, While Six Would Swim
   - Five Would Grow And One Was Dead
08 Pulled To Bits (b-side of 'Wax Simulcra' - Siouxsie & The Banshees cover 2007)
09 The Bible And The Breathalizer (single 2005)
10 Memories (Soft Machine cover from Japanese 'The Bedlam In Goliath' 2008)
11 Things Behind The Sun (Nick Drake cover from Japanese 'The Bedlam In Goliath' 2008) 
12 Mr Muggs (planchette-shaped vinyl disc free with 'The Bedlam In Goliath' 2008)
13 Birthday (Sugarcubes cover from Japanese 'The Bedlam In Goliath' 2008)

Johnny Winter - Winter Blues (1969)

Johnny Winter is rightly regarded as one of the greatest blues guitarists of all time, but growing up in the 50's, being born in 1944, meant that he also loved rock 'n' roll, and this is evident on most of his albums, where he mixed the blues with rock 'n' roll classics such as 'Johnny B. Goode', 'Bonie Morone', and 'Riot In Cell Block #9'. His recording career began in 1959 at the age of fifteen, when his band Johnny and the Jammers released 'School Day Blues' on a Houston record label, and it was at this time that he saw performances by classic blues artists such as Muddy Waters, B.B. King, and Bobby Bland. In the early days, Winter would sometimes sit in with Roy Head and the Traits when they performed in the Beaumont area, and in 1967 he recorded a single with the Traits, 'Tramp' / 'Parchman Farm'. In 1968, he released his first album 'The Progressive Blues Experiment', but his big break came in December 1968, when Mike Bloomfield invited him to sing and play a song during a Bloomfield and Al Kooper concert at the Fillmore East in New York City. Representatives of Columbia Records were at the concert, and when Winter played B.B. King's 'It's My Own Fault' to loud applause, it impressed them enough to offer him $600,00.00, reportedly the largest advance in the history of the recording industry, to sign to Columbia Records. 
Winter's first Columbia album, 'Johnny Winter', was released in 1969, and featured the same backing musicians with whom he had recorded 'The Progressive Blues Experiment', which was bassist Tommy Shannon and drummer Uncle John Turner, along with his younger brother Edgar Winter on keyboards and saxophone. The album was a mixture of blues standards, rock 'n' roll songs, and some of Winter's own compositions, and was something of a success, leading to Imperial Records picking up 'The Progressive Blues Experiment' for a wider release. Winter's blues trio toured and performed at several rock festivals, including Woodstock in 1969, and with Edgar added as a full member of the group, Winter recorded his second Columbia album 'Second Winter', which was the same mix of rock and blues as the previous two, with this one featuring a couples of songs that later became staples of his live show, Chuck Berry's 'Johnny B. Goode' and Bob Dylan's 'Highway 61 Revisited'. 
While all three albums are great records, I'm not that keen on the rock 'n' roll stuff, and much prefer his blues recordings, and as well as covering the classics from Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, and Leadbelly, he also wrote a lot of his own material. What I really wanted to hear was an album of Johnny Winter's own compositions purely in the blues style, so that's what we have here. It's drawn from his three albums from 1968 and 1969, and shows not only his skill on both electric and acoustic guitar, but also that he can pen a mean blues tune. All the tracks are the original recordings, apart from 'Dallas', which is a band recording instead of the solo acoustic take on 'Johnny Winter'. Winter was professionally active right up until the time of his death in Switzerland on July 16, 2014, when he was found dead in his hotel room two days after his last performance at the Cahors Blues Festival in France. The cause of Winter's death was not officially released.

Track listing

01 Mean Town Blues
02 Bad Luck And Trouble
03 Black Cat Bone
04 Leavin' Blues
05 I'm Yours And I'm Hers
06 Dallas
07 Leland Mississippi Blues
08 38, 32, 20
09 I Love Everybody
10 Low Down Gal Of Mine
11 Fast Life Rider
12 Kind Hearted Woman
13 Hustled Down In Texas

Georgie Fame - Bidin' My Time (1967)

Clive Powell was born in on 26th June 1943 in Leigh, Lancashire, England. He took piano lessons from the age of seven and on leaving Leigh Central County Secondary School at 15 he worked for a brief period in a cotton weaving mill, and played piano for a band called the Dominoes in the evenings. After taking part in a singing contest at the Butlins Holiday Camp in Pwllheli, North Wales, he was offered a job there by the band leader, Rory Blackwell, and at sixteen years of age he went to London and entered into a management agreement with Larry Parnes. Parnes had famously given new stage names to artists Marty Wilde and Billy Fury, and wanted to change Powell's name to George Fame, but Powell was very much against it, until Parnes threatened to drop him from his shows if he didn't change it. Over the following year Fame toured the UK playing beside Wilde, Joe Brown, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran and others, and played piano for Billy Fury in his backing band, the Blue Flames. When the backing band got the sack at the end of 1961, they were re-billed as Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames and went on to enjoy great success with a repertoire largely made up of rhythm and blues numbers. 
Fame was influenced by jazz, blues, and the musicians Mose Allison and Willie Mabon, and was one of the first white musicians to be influenced by ska after hearing it in cafés in Jamaica and Ladbroke Grove in England. In 1963, the band recorded its debut album 'Rhythm and Blues At The Flamingo', which was released in place of a planned single by EMI Columbia, but it failed to chart, although the October 1964 follow-up, 'Fame At Last', did reach No. 15 in the UK Albums Chart. Fame enjoyed continued chart success, enjoying three number one hits in the UK, with his version of 'Yeh, Yeh' spending two weeks there in 1965. 'Get Away' was another number 1 hit in 1966, being originally written as a jingle for a petrol commercial, and his version of the Bobby Hebb song 'Sunny' made No. 13 in the UK charts. However,  his greatest chart success was in 1967 when 'The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde' made number 1 in the UK, and No. 7 in the US. Fame continued playing into the 1970's, having a hit with 'Rosetta' with his friend Alan Price of the Animals in 1971, and in 1974, he reunited the Blue Flames and began to sing with European orchestras and big bands, but this album concentrates on his output between 1965 and 1967, when he released a flurry of 7" singles and EP's, many of which were not taken from his then current albums. This is a fine collection of jazz-tinged r'n'b, with a mixture of carefully chosen covers and original material, and highlights a much under-rated talent in the field of jazz and r'n'b. 

Track listing

01 In The Meantime (single 1965)
02 Telegram (b-side of 'In The Meantime') 
03 I'm In Love With You (single 1964)
04 Bend A Little (b-side of 'I'm In Love With You')
05 Do-Re-Mi (b-side of 'Yeh, Yeh' 1965)
06 No No (EP 1965)
07 Blue Monday (from the 'No No' EP)
08 So Long (from the 'No No' EP)
09 Sick And Tired (from the 'No No' EP)
10 Sunny (single 1966)
11 Knock On Wood (single 1967)
12 Bidin' My Time ('Cos I Love You) (single 1967)
13 Road Runner (b-side of 'Knock On Wood')
14 Because I Love You (b-side of 'Bidin' My Time')
15 Try My World (single 1967)
16 No Thanks (b-side of 'Try My World')

Enjoy/ Enjoy

Journey - Charge Of The Light Brigade (1973)

In 1973 guitarist Neal Schon and lead vocalist/keyboardist Gregg Rolie left Santana, and with ex-Frumious Bandersnatch members Ross Valory and George Tickner joining them, they formed a progressive rock/jazz fusion group, as yet un-named. Prairie Prince, who had just left The Tubes for a while, became Journey’s first drummer, and together they recorded a demo tape that was known under the title 'Charge Of The Light Brigade'. Many of the songs eventually ended up on the band's debut album under the name Journey, but these are different versions, some of which were incomplete and had no vocals dubbed onto them, and other were abandoned when they recorded their debut album proper. The reason why the band never bothered releasing this album or anything from it was simple: the drumming style of Prairie Prince was way too complex for Journey’s music, which is why he left shortly after this demo tape was recorded, in order to focus on recording and performing with The Tubes, and he was replaced by Aynsley Dunbar, fresh from a stint with Frank Zappa. Of the tracks on this album, 'Mystery Mountain' is pretty much the same as the track of the same name from the first album, but this was an unfinished studio mix. 'In the Morning Day', 'In My Lonely Feelings/Conversations', and 'To Make Some Music' are instrumental versions of the songs from 'Journey', and although 'Kohoutek' is also on that album, this is a very different take, having more in common with another track 'Topaz'. The rest of the tracks are unique to this release, with the title track featuring blazing guitar riffing, killer solos, and amazing organ work. This bootleg CD has been around for a while, but it's just too good to keep hidden, and while the original disc included alternate versions of 'To Make Some Music' and 'Charge Of The Light Brigade', I've kept just the best takes of each song, and removed the three live tracks by Birthday from a 1973 concert in Hawaii in order to make a concise 46 minute album. I've also given it some new artwork as I was never that keen on the front cover, with the back being much better, so it's based on that.

Track listing

01 Mystery Mountain
02 In The Morning Day
03 Charge Of The Light Brigade
04 Still Lovers
05 To Make Some Music
06 In My Lonely Feeling/Conversations
07 Angels from Heaven
08 Can You Hear Me?
09 Kohoutek
10 Out of Control
11 See the Light

Enjoy / Enjoy

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Joni Mitchell - The Hissing Of Summer Demos (1975)

In January 1974 Joni MItchell release her 'Court And Spark' album, marking the beginning of her flirtation with jazz and jazz fusion, and the start of her experimental period ahead. 'Court and Spark' went to No. 1 on the Cashbox Album Charts, and made her a widely popular act for perhaps the only time in her career, on the strength of popular tracks like 'Raised on Robbery', 'Free Man In Paris', and 'Help Me', which became her only Top 10 single when it peaked at No. 7 in the first week of June. While recording 'Court and Spark', Mitchell had tried to make a clean break with her earlier folk sound, producing the album herself and employing jazz/pop fusion band The L.A. Express as what she called her first real backing group. In the Spring of 1975 Mitchell went into the studio to record acoustic demos of some songs she'd written for a potential follow-up record, including an early version of 'Dreamland', a song that two years later would appear on the album 'Don Juan's Reckless Daughter'. A few months later she recorded band versions of the tunes with most of the same musicians she employed on 'Court And Spark', and this song cycle was released in November 1975 as the album 'The Hissing Of Summer Lawns'. The LP was a big seller and peaked at #4 on the Billboard album charts. Generally, however, the album was greeted less than enthusiastically, with fans feeling that Mitchell had ceased being the confessional song-writer, and had turned her razor sharp observations outwards to society, and this was not what fans and critics expected or wanted from her. This was probably the first time that a musical direction of her's had been questioned, really wounding her, and she's since talked of the sting she felt at those bad reviews. As is generally the case, though, there were also quite a few good notices for the album, and over the years it has become one of her best known and most-loved releases. When these songs appear on bootlegs they are often packaged with filler, but this album contains just those 1975 demos, apart from one extra song 'Hunter (The Good Samaritan)', which was originally scheduled for 'Blue', but was only ever included on a rare test pressing, and has never since been officially issued. The cover uses Mitchell's own painting which was later adapted for use with the actual album.  

Track listing

01 Harry's House
02 Edith And The Kingpin
03 In France They Kiss On Main Street
04 Sweet Bird 
05 Shades Of Scarlett Conquering
06 Shadows And Light
07 Dreamland
08 The Boho Dance
09 Hunter (The Good Samaritan)

Enjoy / Enjoy

Friday, 18 October 2019

The Animals - Animals Noises (1966)

I'll start by saying that this post is more for the UK visitor than the American one, as it's based on the Animals' British discography, where they released just three albums during their lifetime - 'The Animals' (1964), 'Animal Tracks' (1965), and 'Animalisms' (1966). During this period they also released a lot of singles, but hardly any of them were taken from these albums, not even their biggest hit 'House Of The Rising Sun'. For the US market their record company plundered the British albums, adding the singles and dropping other songs to make room for them, and then gathering those abandoned tracks up on other albums later on. The band started out in Newcastle upon Tyne during 1962 and 1963, when vocalist Eric Burdon joined the Alan Price Rhythm and Blues Combo, lending his raucous vocals to Alan Price (organ and keyboards), Hilton Valentine (guitar), John Steel (drums), and Bryan "Chas" Chandler (bass). After some success in their hometown, they moved to London in 1964, in the immediate wake of Beatlemania, and the beat boom take-over of the popular music scene. They performed fiery versions of the staple rhythm and blues repertoire, covering songs by Jimmy Reed, John Lee Hooker, and Nina Simone, and were soon signed to EMI's Columbia label, who released a rocking version of the standard 'Baby Let Me Follow You Down' (retitled 'Baby Let Me Take You Home') as their first single. This was followed in June 1964 by the transatlantic number one hit 'House of the Rising Sun', putting The Animals name on the world stage, and with Alan Price's haunting organ riffs creating arguably the first folk rock hit. 
The band's two-year chart career, produced by Mickie Most, featured intense, gritty covers such as Sam Cooke's 'Bring It On Home To Me' and the Nina Simone-popularised number 'Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood', whereas their album tracks stayed with rhythm and blues, with John Lee Hooker's 'Boom Boom' and Ray Charles' 'I Believe to My Soul', and consequently none of their singles appeared on their UK albums. By May 1965, the group was starting to feel internal pressures, and Price left due to personal and musical differences, as well as fear of flying on tour, and Mick Gallagher filled in for him on keyboards for a short time, until Dave Rowberry replaced him, and was on hand for the hit songs 'We Gotta Get out of This Place' and 'It's My Life'. As 1965 ended, the group signed a new deal with the American label MGM Records for the US and Canada, and switched to Decca Records for the rest of the world, but 'Don't Bring Me Down' was their last hit as The Animals, and the group disbanded in September 1966. By including all their non-album singles and their b-sides on this album, it's almost a greatest hits collection, as well as a mopping-up exercise of their rarities, so this one should appeal to people who only know them from 'House Of The Rising Sun', as well as to the long-term fans of this legendary UK band.

Track listing

01 Baby Let Me Take You Home (single 1964) 
02 Gonna Send You Back To Walker (b-side of 'Baby Let Me Take You Home)
03 The House Of The Rising Sun (single 1964)
04 Talkin’ ‘Bout You (b-side of 'House Of The Rising Sun')
05 I’m Crying (single 1964)
06 Take It Easy (b-side of 'I'm Crying')
07 Blue Feeling (b-side of 'Boom Boom' 1964)
08 Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood (single 1965) 
09 Club-A-Go-Go (b-side of 'Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood')
10 Bring It On Home To Me (single 1965) 
11 We’ve Gotta Get Out Of This Place (single 1965)
12 I Can't Believe It (b-side of 'We've Gotta Get Out Of This Place')
13 It’s My Life (single 1965)
14 I’m Going To Change The World (b-side of 'It's My Life') 
15 Don't Bring Me Down (single 1966)
16 Cheating (b-side of 'Don't Bring Me Down')
17 Inside Looking Out (single 1966)
Enjoy / Enjoy

John Mayall - Alabama Blues (1968)

Following the departure of Peter Green, Mayall once again needed a new guitarist, and his first choice was 18-year-old David O'List, guitarist from the Attack. O'List declined, however, and went on to form The Nice with organist Keith Emerson, so Mayall placed a 'musicians wanted' ad in Melody Maker and also conducted his own search, and eventually found three other potential guitarists for his Bluesbreakers, Terry Edmonds, John Moorshead (later to join The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation), and 18-year-old Mick Taylor. The latter made the band quickly, but Mayall also decided to hire Edmonds as a rhythm guitarist for a few days. In the meantime, he assembled a studio album to showcase his own abilities, with former Artwoods drummer Keef Hartley drumming on half the tracks, and everything else being played by Mayall himself, with 'The Blues Alone' coming out in 1967. 
A six-piece line-up consisting of Mayall, Mick Taylor as lead guitarist, John McVie still on bass, Hughie Flint or Hartley on drums, and Rip Kant and Chris Mercer on saxophones, recorded the album 'Crusade' in 1967, and following it's release the band spent most of the year touring abroad, with Mayall taping the shows on his portable recorder. At the end of the tour, he had over sixty hours of tapes, which he edited into an album in two volumes: 'Diary Of A Band Vol 1' and 'Diary Of A Band Vol 2', released in February 1968. Meanwhile, a few line-up changes had occurred: McVie had departed for Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac, and was replaced by Paul Williams, who soon quit to join Alan Price and was himself replaced by Keith Tillman, with Dick Heckstall-Smith taking over the saxophone spot. Following a US tour, there were more line-up changes, starting with the troublesome bass position. First Mayall replaced bassist Tillman with 15-year-old Andy Fraser, but within six weeks Fraser left to join Free and was replaced by Tony Reeves, previously a member of the New Jazz Orchestra. Hartley was required to leave, and he was replaced by New Jazz Orchestra drummer Jon Hiseman, and Henry Lowther, who played violin and cornet, joined in February 1968. 
Two months later this line-up of The Bluesbreakers recorded 'Bare Wires', before Hiseman, Reeves, and Heckstall-Smith moved on to form Colosseum. Mayall managed to retain Mick Taylor and added drummer Colin Allen bassist Stephen Thompson, and in 1968 the new quartet recorded the superb 'Blues From Laurel Canyon'. The final post of this series collects the remaining tracks from 'Raw Blues', some previously unreleased tracks featuring Peter Green, Taylor's first single with the band 'Suspicions', and topped off with two great unreleased tracks from the 'Bare Wires' sessions. Despite the unbelievably turbulent history of the Bluesbreakers, I hope that these posts show that in their many incarnations they produced some of the best British blues ever recorded. 

Track listing

01 Evil Woman Blues (from 'Raw Blues' 1967)   
02 Missing You (previously unreleased 1967)   
03 Greeny (previously unreleased 1967)  
04 Milkman Strut (from 'Raw Blues' 1967) 
05 Suspicions (Part One) (single 1967)    
06 Suspicions (Part Two) (b-side of 'Suspicions (Part One))  
07 Mama Talk To Your Daughter (previously unreleased 1967)  
08 Alabama Blues (previously unreleased 1967) 
09 Your Funeral And My Trial (previously unreleased 1967)    
10 Jenny (single 1968) 
11 Picture On The Wall (b-side of 'Jenny')  
12 Knockers Step Forward (previously unreleased 1968)   
13 Hide And Seek (previously unreleased 1968)    

Enjoy / Enjoy

Santana - Hot Tamales (1969)

For this second volume of Santana demos I've picked the best of the extended jam sessions that actually sound like Santana to me. 'Jam In E' and 'Jammin' Home' don't have the Latin flavour of early Santana, and so I think that they really are Neal Schon's audition recordings from 1970, with a heavier rock guitar sound more to the fore, and while I'm sure 'Santana Jam' really is the band, it doesn't really go anywhere so I've omitted those three tracks. That leaves us with five recordings from the early 1969 version of the band, and with a few nips and tucks it's an excellent showcase for what the group could accomplish when they were left to stretch things out as long as was needed. As before, if anyone has a definitive history for these tracks then I'd love to hear it. 

Track listing

01 El Corazon Manda
02 Hot Tamales
03 Fried Neckbones And Home Fries
04 Jam In G Minor
05 Latin Tropical

Rachel Flowers - Plays Zappa (2018)

Rachel Flowers has always had an affinity with Frank Zappa, sharing a birthday with him on 21st December (1993 for Rachel and 1940 for Frank). Even more spooky is the fact that Zappa died just 17 days before Rachel was born, so believers in reincarnation can draw their own conclusions. She has covered more Zappa compositions than any other artist, even her beloved Emerson, Lake & Palmer, and so I thought it was worth collecting them all together on one 43 minute 'album'. Rachel regularly plays with Dweezil Zappa in his Zappa Plays Zappa band, and excerpts from some of their gigs are available on Youtube, so do search them out. There's also an hour-long video here showing the recording process of the 'Zomby Woof' track, and how Rachel plays and overdubs all the instruments herself to make up the track. So as not to infringe copyright, the links are directly to Rachel's Soundcloud page and to Youtube, and it's entirely up to you if you download them yourself. To reacquaint yourself with Rachel's amazing story then check out her Prog rock post.

Track listing

01 Inca Roads
02 Zoot Allures
03 Montana
04 Peaches En Regalia
05 The Black Page 1
06 The Black Page 2
07 Zomby Woof
08 The Mammy Anthem

All titles composed by Frank Zappa

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

John Mayall - Double Trouble (1968)

While 'Blues Breakers With Eric Clapton' was the album which finally put John Mayall on the map, it was to be a short-lived success, as while the album was still in the charts, it was revealed in the music press that Clapton had teamed up with Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker to form Cream, which meant that he would have to leave Mayall's band. This was something of an embarrassment to Clapton, who had not said anything about this to Mayall, and his last gig with The Blues Breakers was in July 1966 in Bexley, south-east of London, and Cream played a warm-up gig just a couple of weeks later. Mayall now needed to find a new guitarist, but luckily for him he succeeded in persuading Peter Green to return to the fold. During the following year, with Green on guitar and using various other sidemen, some 40 tracks were recorded, with the album 'A Hard Road' being released in February 1967. It's another British blues classic, showing that Green was the perfect replacement for Clapton, and a few months later the band released an EP recorded with American blues harpist Paul Butterfield. Also in 1967 the Ace Of Clubs label released a collection of blues tracks called 'Raw Blues', including otherwise unavailable recordings from Mayall, Clapton, Green and Steve Anglo, otherwise known as Stevie Winwood, alongside songs from Otis Spann, Champion Jack Dupree, and Curtis Jones. Soon after the release of 'A Hard Road' Peter Green  gave notice that he was starting his own band with Mick Fleetwood, and later bassist John McVie, who stayed with Mayall for a while after Green left, before teaming up with his former bandmate in Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac. This second volume of rarities features some of Mayall's contributions to 'Raw Blues', the complete Butterfield EP, and a few stand-alone singles and their b-sides. 

Track listing

01 Sitting In The Rain (single 1967) 
02 Out Of Reach (b-side of 'Sitting In The Rain')
03 Curly (single 1967) 
04 Rubber Duck (b-side of 'Curly') 
05 Please Don't Tell (previously unreleased 1967) 
06 It Hurts Me Too (single 1967) 
07 Double Trouble (b-side of 'It Hurts Me Too') 
08 All My Life (single 1967, with Paul Butterfield))
09 Ridin´ On The L. And N. (b-side of 'All My Life')
10 Little By Little (b-side of 'All My Life')
11 Eagle Eye (b-side of 'All My Life')
12 Burn Out Your Blind Eyes (from 'Raw Blues' 1967)
12 Long Night (from 'Raw Blues' 1967)

Enjoy / Enjoy

Friday, 11 October 2019

Neil MacArthur - World Of Glass (1974)

Neil MacArthur released three singles on the Deram label in 1969, including a psychedelic cover of the Zombies classic 'She's Not There', before vanishing, never to be heard of again. His voice was very similar to the Zombies singer Colin Blunstone, leading some people to believe that Neil MacArthur and Colin Blunstone were one and the same person - and of course they were. After The Zombies split following the lack of success of their 'Odessey And Oracle' album (did people have cloth ears back in the 60's?!) Blunstone briefly worked as a clerk in the insurance business before resuming his musical career, signing a deal with Deram in 1969 and recording a cover of his former band's best known song. Two more singles followed, a mixture of covers and originals, and he also recorded songs by Buffalo Springfield and The Assocation which remained unissued for many years. He released an Italian version of 'She's Not There' for the European market, but even with that song added in, it would still make quite a short album, so I've added a couple of obscure b-sides from 1971 and 1974, as well as a track which was included on the US version of his 1974 album 'Journey', but which was omitted from the UK version. This is definitely a must hear for Zombies fans, as that voice is just as good on these songs as it was with his former band, and as well as the new tracks, it's great to hear songs we know and love given the Blunstone treatment.    

Track listing

01 She's Not There (single 1969)
02 World Of Glass (b-side of 'She's Not There')
03 Hung Upside Down (peviously unreleased)
04 Don't Try To Explain (single 1969)
05 Without Her (b-side of 'Don't Try To Explain')
06 Twelve Twenty Nine (b-side of 'It's Not Easy)
07 Never My Love (previously unreleased)
08 It's Not Easy (single 1969)
09 Ma Non E Giusto (She's Not There) (single 1969)
10 I Hope I Didn't Say Too Much Last Night (b-side of 'Mary, Won't You Warm My Bed' 1971)
11 It's Magical (single 1974)
12 You Who Are Lonely (from the US version of 'Journey' 1974)

Enjoy / Enjoy

John Mayall - I'm Your Witchdoctor (1966)

John Mayall is rightly considered to be the godfather of British blues, with his Bluesbreakers being the starting point for a myriad of artists who later went on to find fame with other bands. He was born in Macclesfield, Cheshire in 1933, and from an early age he was drawn to the sounds of American blues players such as Lead Belly, Albert Ammons, Pinetop Smith and Eddie Lang. Following a three year stint in Korea for national service, he came back to England and enrolled at Manchester College of Art, playing with semi-professional bands in his spare time. In 1962 Mayall became a member of the Blues Syndicate, which included rhythm guitarist Ray Cummings and drummer Hughie Flint, whom Mayall already knew, and while playing at the 'Twisted Wheel' cellar club in central Manchester, Alexis Korner persuaded him to opt for a full-time musical career and move to London. In 1963 the renamed Bluesbreakers started playing at the Marquee Club, and by the following Spring Mayall had obtained his first recording date with producer Ian Samwell. The band, with Martin Hart at the drums, recorded two tracks, 'Crawling Up a Hill' and 'Mr. James', which were issued as his first single under the Bluesbreakers name. Shortly afterwards, Hughie Flint replaced Hart and Roger Dean took over the guitar from Bernie Watson, and this line-up backed John Lee Hooker on his British tour in 1964. A recording contract with Decca soon followed, and a live performance of the band was recorded at the Klooks Kleek, as well as a studio-recorded single, 'Crocodile Walk', although neither met with any success when released, and the band were dropped from the label. In April 1965 former Yardbirds guitarist Eric Clapton replaced Roger Dean and Mayall's career entered a decisive phase. 
The addition of Clapton to the ranks began to attract considerable attention, and by the Summer the band had cut a couple tracks for a single, 'I'm Your Witchdoctor' and 'Telephone Blues'. In August, however, Clapton left for a jaunt to Greece with a bunch of relative musical amateurs, and after some unsuccessful attempts to find a new guitarist, Peter Green was announced as his replacement. At the same time John McVie was dismissed, and during the next few months Jack Bruce, from the Graham Bond Organisation, played bass. In November 1965 Clapton returned, and Green departed as Mayall had guaranteed Clapton his spot back in the Bluesbreakers whenever he decided to return. McVie was also allowed back, and Bruce left to join Manfred Mann, but not before a November live date by the Mayall-Clapton-Bruce-Flint line-up was recorded on Mayall's two-track tape recorder at London's Flamingo Club. Mayall and Clapton cut a couple of tracks without the others, and the 'Lonely Years'/'Bernard Jenkins' single was released under the name of John Mayall and Eric Clapton on Mike Vernon's Purdah Records label. In April 1966 the Bluesbreakers returned to Decca Studios to record a second LP with producer Vernon, and 'Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton' was released in the UK on 22 July 1966, announcing Mayall's commercial breakthrough, and subsequently gaining classic status. The first of three posts collects all of the songs mentioned here, as none of them ever made it to an album, including a scorching take of 'They Call It Stormy Monday' from the Flamingo Club tape, as well as a live BBC recording and a previously unreleased track. 

Track listing

01 Crawling Up A Hill (single 1964)
02 Mr James (b-side of 'Crawling Up A Hill')  
03 Crocodile Walk (single 1965) 
04 Blues City Shakedown (b-side of 'Crocodile Walk') 
05 I'm Your Witchdoctor (single 1965)   
06 Telephone Blues (b-side of 'I'm Your Witchdoctor')   
07 My Baby Is Sweeter (previously unreleased 1965)
08 Bye Bye Bird (live at the BBC 1965) 
09 Looking Back (single 1966) 
10 So Many Roads (b-side of 'Looking Back') 
11 Lonely Years (single 1966)   
12 Bernard Jenkins (b-side of 'Lonely Years) 
13 They Call It Stormy Monday (live at the Flamingo Club 1966)

Enjoy / Enjoy

Santana - Soul Sacrifice (1968)

When I discovered a double CD collection of 1968 demos from Santana I was surprised that I had never heard of it before, as I love the band and thought I'd heard just about everything that they'd recorded. The music itself is just what you would expect - raw, extended versions of some songs from their first album, long jam sessions, and a few covers, and all in excellent quality, but trying to track down any information about them was fraught with difficulties. It turns out that these tracks have been packaged and re-packaged many, many times, by many different labels and in many different forms, and every release has different information about them. Some claim they are all recorded in 1968, immediately before Santana signed to CBS in 1969. Other sources say that some of the tracks were from Neal Schon's audition, which would date them as 1970, and 'Jam In E' does sound like someone trying to impress with their guitar virtuosity. There are some that try to date a few of the recordings to Pacific Recording Studios, San Mateo, California in 1969, and then there are those 'experts' who claim that some of these tracks aren't even Santana at all, but a soundalike band who were signed up after Santana's first album was a hit, and were persuaded to record tracks with a similar sound in 1969. In the end I gave up trying to work out when they were recorded as the information was just so conflicting, and decided to just pick out the best of them and try to compile them into a more listenable form. Some of the jams went on for up to 10 minutes, while the shorter songs were generally more concise and focused, so for this album I've taken the extended demos of the four tracks that eventually ended up on 1969's 'Santana', and added a nice take on a blues classic and a few other previously unheard instrumentals, to make up an album which could have easily been released in 1968, a full year before their actual debut came out. Later on I'll be posting a second volume made up of the best of the longer tracks, but for now enjoy some great music from an emerging Santana. If anyone has a definitive explanation of where these recordings came from then I'd love to hear it.  

Track listing

01 Evil Ways
02 Acapulco Sunrise
03 Everyday I Have The Blues
04 Persuasion
05 Coconut Grove
06 Jingo
07 As The Years Go By
08 Soul Sacrifice

Enjoy / Enjoy

Caravan - Looking Left, Looking Right (1975)

Caravan are one of my all-time favourite progressive rock bands, and I've been collecting their music for many, many years. In 1968 Caravan emerged from the Canterbury-based band The Wylde Flowers, whose lineup included David and Richard Sinclair, Pye Hastings and Richard Coughlan, albeit not all at the same time. They started to write and rehearse material in a rented house, and by October they had generated enough interest for music publisher Ian Ralfini to sign them to the American label Verve Records, and become the first British act to be signed to them. Verve subsequently released the band's eponymous debut album later the same year, but a few months after that Verve they moved out of the UK record business and dropped the band. Caravan soon signed to Decca Records and began recording their second album 'If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You', which featured a more progressive sound than their first, and included the 14-minute track 'For Richard', showing the band's contrast in styles and jazz-rock influence. For the next album 'In the Land of Grey and Pink', the balance of songwriting changed from the previous two albums, with Richard Sinclair taking a more prominent role. The group decided to follow up 'For Richard' with a suite of short sections of songs written by David Sinclair, that the rest of the band worked on and linked together to form the side-long track 'Nine Feet Underground'.
The album became one of their most critically acclaimed works, and although 'Nine Feet Underground' was recorded in five separate stages and spliced together, the band managed to perform the suite live as it was finally presented on the album, and it remained a popular piece in their live set for many years. Unfortunately the critical acclaim did not result in commercial success, with the band believing that Decca were not promoting them properly or investing enough money, and in August 1971 David Sinclair accepted a job with former Soft Machine drummer Robert Wyatt's new band, Matching Mole. The remaining members continued on together and Richard Sinclair invited keyboardist Steve Miller to join the band, although it was immediately apparent that the style of the band would change. Sinclair and Miller wanted to perform more jazz-rock, while Hastings was frustrated that the previous sound was being neglected, and that Miller could not replicate David Sinclair's style. 'Waterloo Lily' came out in 1972, and despite having some fine pieces on it, could only be a disappointment after '... Grey And Pink', and with musical differences coming to a head following its release, the band split. Hastings and Coughlan decided to continue as Caravan, and the duo recruited viola player Geoffrey Richardson, bassist Stu Evans and keyboardist Derek Austin, and they toured extensively. This line-up did not make any recordings before Evans was replaced by John G. Perry and Dave Sinclair rejoined the group in 1973. The resulting album 'For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night' was a major critical achievement, and remains one of my favourites. Following the release of the live album 'Caravan and the New Symphonia' in 1974, Perry left the group, and was replaced by Mike Wedgwood for 1975's 'Cunning Stunts'. It was the last album released on Decca, and this and other problems in the band caused David Sinclair to leave, to be replaced by Jan Schelhaas, and resulting in the band's sound becoming more mainstream. They signed to Miles Copeland's BTM Records and released 'Blind Dog at St. Dunstans' in 1976, but that was the last album of their that I bought. 
They made one final album in 'Better by Far' in 1977, and then split up. I still have all the original albums from their classic period of 1969 to 1976, as well as a few CD's from their re-union in the 90's, and a couple of live bootlegs, so I thought that I'd heard everything that they'd ever recorded. It was therefore an extremely pleasant surprise to find that the recent re-issues of the 70's albums had been boosted by a number of studio recordings that I never knew existed. The tracks are evenly spread throughout their career, so they seemed to have recorded one or two extra tracks at the sessions for each album, thereby giving us a constantly evolving sound as we listen to them, from the early jazzy prog right through to the almost pop sound of 'Keeping Back My Love'. 'Green Bottles For Marjorie' is basically an early version of 'If I Could Do It All Over Again....', and 'Feelin', Reelin', Squealin'' is a great extended take on the Soft Machine classic, but the rest are all typical Caravan songs, and they would have enhanced any album that they'd appeared on.  

Track listing

01 Green Bottles For Marjorie  (1970) 
02 Feelin', Reelin', Squealin'  (1971)
03 A Day In The Life Of Maurice Haylett  (1970)
04 I Don't Know It's Name (Alias 'The Word')  (1971)
05 Pye's June Thing  (1972)
06 Ferdinand  (1972)
07 Looking Left, Looking Right  (1972)
08 Pye's Loop  (1972)
09 Any Advance On Carpet? (Incorporating 'Bossa Nochance')  (1972)
10 Derek's Long Thing  (1973)
11 Keeping Back My Love  (1975)

Enjoy / Enjoy

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Pat Travers - Blues (1994)

Pat Travers is a Canadian singer/guitarist, who made one of he best hard rock albums of the 70's with 'Makin' Magic'. Growing up in Toronto, he picked up the guitar at age 12, and began playing in bands in his early teens, and it was while playing in one of these, Merge, that he caught the attention of rock artist Ronnie Hawkins, who invited him to join his band. In his early twenties Travers moved to London and signed a recording contract with the Polydor label, and his eponymous debut album was released in 1976. It was classic hard rock of the period, with Travers' raucous vocals and raunchy guitar being ably backed by a driving rhythm section of bassist Peter 'Mars' Cowling and drummer Roy Dyke. Cowling would become a mainstay in Travers' band for several years, but Dyke was later replaced on the drum-stool by Nicko McBrain, who stayed for a few years before moving on to later find fame with Iron Maiden. 'Makin' Magic' was released the following year, which was my introduction to the band, and during 1977 Travers added a second guitarist, changed drummers twice, and by the time 'Heat in the Street' was released in 1978 had put together the Pat Travers Band. 
One of the highlights of 'Makin' Magic' was his cover of the blues classic 'Statesboro Blues', and as I've always felt that the blues gives guitarists room to produce some of their best work, I wondered if there were any other blues tracks on his albums that would go well with that one to make a purely blues album that I could enjoy. It turns out that there weren't actually that many from his early work, but I did find a few excellent tracks on albums from the 90's that I could add to them, and eventually came up with a quite superb 40 minute blues album from the band. He obviously has a love of the genre, as he's released two albums himself called 'Blues Tracks' (1992) and 'Blues Tracks 2' (1998), comprising new recordings of old blues songs, but I wanted to hear him at his peak in the 70's and 80's, along with those few songs from his return to form in the early 90's, and they make up a really outstanding blues-rock album. If you like this then do check out the two 'Blues Tracks' albums as they are well worth hearing.  

Track listing

01 Statesboro Blues (1977)
02 You Shouldn't Have Hurt Me (1994)
03 Too Cool Woman Blues (1993)
04 The Pain (1993)
05 This World We Live In (1994)
06 Born Under A Bad Sign (1980)
07 (I Just Want To) Live It My Way (1981)

Enjoy / Enjoy

Friday, 4 October 2019

The Bevis Frond - Frondant Fancies (1990)

The Bevis Frond is basically Nick Saloman and whoever he can get at the time to help him out with his recording. He's been involved in music from the 60's, but really came into his own in 1997 when he started recording under the name of The Bevis Frond. Saloman was originally in a band known as the Bevis Frond Museum in the late 1960's, and in the 1970's, whilst at college, he played bass guitar, congas and electric piano for a duo called Oddsocks, who released one album, 'Men of the Moment', in 1975. In 1979 he formed The Von Trap Family, who released their one and only single on Saloman's own Woronzow Records label in 1980. The next release on Woronzow was a 12" single by Room 13 in 1982, featuring Saloman on guitar and future Bevis Frond member Martin Crowley on drums. After Room 13 reached the end of its natural life, Nick Saloman had a bad motorbike accident that left him with a constriction of movement in his left arm, but he had the arm set so that he could continue playing guitar. With the proceeds from a damages claim he bought a 4 track recorder and recorded some music which he decided to press as a limited release of 250 albums, more for the sake of just releasing an album than anything else, and he was very surprised when Funhouse records in Kent phoned him up and asked for a couple of hundred copies as they had been selling the album quite briskly. Subsequent albums were also recorded in a home studio and released on Woronzow until 1988, when he signed a deal with Reckless Records for the UK and USA. 
To date he has released 23 albums (the 22nd one was called 'Example 22' to help you keep track), and they are all first-rate psychedelic rock music full of scorching guitar solos. However, for this albums I'm going right back to the start of his career, and have compiled an album featuring songs by Oddsocks, The Von Trap Family, Room 13, The Bevis Frond Museum, and The Bevis Frond themselves. His first single as The Bevis Frond was a split flexi-disc with The Steppes which was given away with issue 4 of Freakbeat magazine, and subsequent singles followed suit, with 'Bad Time' being included with issue 36 of The Bob magazine, and 'High In A Flat' added to issue 27 of Bucketful Of Brains. A couple of years later he released a split single with The Walking Seeds on Clawfist Records, which I wanted to include as it's a cracking track and it's nigh on impossible to find online (so you'll have to excuse the sound quality of my vinyl rip), and pointing the way to the sound that we would hear on the albums that followed. There have been recent retrospectives for both The Von Trap Family and Room 13 made available on Bandcamp, so if you like what you hear then do check them out.   

Track listing

01 Sphinx (1975)
02 Blind And Unknowing (1975)

The Von Trap Family
03 Brand New Thrill (1980)
04 Dreaming Again (1980)
05 No Reflexes (1980)

Room 13
06 Murder Mystery (1982)
07 Need Some Dub (1982)

The Bevis Frond Museum 
08 African Violet (1987, given away with issue 4 of Freakbeat magazine)

The Bevis Frond
09 Bad Time (1988, given away with issue 36 of The Bob magazine)
10 High In A Flat (1988, given away with issue 27 of Bucketful Of Brains magazine)
11 Sexorcist (1990, split single with The Walking Seeds covering each other's songs)