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Friday, December 27, 2013

Trust, France

Trust - Le Mutant. 1970 Philips

Another one from the CD-R revisit pile...

"Le Mutant" is basically a French pop rock album, with a distinct British proto-prog feel where The Beatles have to be considered an obvious influence here, despite it all being sung in French. Similar to countrymen Iris and M.O.T.U.S. in that same way. Not as adventurous as the first two albums from Alain Markusfeld, for example. Speaking of which, it is rumored that both Markusfeld (guitar) and Jacky Chalard (bass) play on this (though uncredited). Non-essential fluff for the most part, but a good one to hear for specialists. This Trust is not related to the French hard rock group of the same name that later supplied Iron Maiden with its drummers.

Priority: none

Monday, December 23, 2013

News: Latest announcements from Lion Productions


I haven't heard any of these, but they look interesting enough to call out. And we know Lion will do a top notch job on them! Presumably, if you've been following my blog, you know the Laurence Vanay's are available now. LP's are on their way early next year as well. Don't miss those gems! As well, Probe 10 looks like a February 2014 release - can't wait for that one!

OK, onto the latest batch, with descriptions provided by the label:

The CASE "Blackwood" LP edition—catalogue number: (LION LP-119); UPC: 778578311919; CD edition—catalogue number: (LION 659); UPC: 778578065928: Blackwood. The title alone is portentous, at the very least semi-evil sounding. Fear not, there are no devils, demons, or witches lurking in these woods. Instead we have a heretofore almost completely unknown and rarely spoken of album of nine original tracks, self-released on the legendary RPC Records label by a group of self-motivated teens from Pennsylvania. Luckily for lovers of musical mayhem, the Case got access to their school music room and a four-track recorder over a Christmas break in 1971. A rock-solid, hard-driving rhythm section lays down the necessary underpinning for moody organ and beautifully-toned guitar. There is sheer joy at play here, a kind of rock 'n' roll exuberance—with ample raw talent and wicked riffing—which shines through on every cut. Terrific raw, primitive album, simultaneously loose and intense, like the Velvet Underground at their best. • American primitive album recorded in 1971 by very advanced high-schoolers during their Christmas vacation, self-released on the legendary RPC Records label • Color insert includes notes by the band + rare photos • Both formats limited to 500 copies

FUSIÓN "Top Soul" (LION 673); UPC: 778578067328: Impossible to find jazz/soul/funk monster by Fusión, issued in Chile in 1975 by ALBA (ALD-041)—a fulsome combination of funk, electric jazz, and soul, with Latin roots. Bassist Enrique Luna had lived and studied art in New York, and knew first-hand the last, avant-garde years of John Coltrane, and Miles Davis’ mutation from hard bop trendsetter into an electric jazz pioneer; Matias Pizarro had appeared on the scene in the mid-60s as a young pianist of outstanding technical ability and advanced ideas. Together they formed a band around a core of Peruvian musicians, with soloists including David Estánovich (tenor sax) and Lautaro Rosas (guitar), plus a rhythm trio of Mario Lecaros (electric piano, former Village Trio), and Orlando Avendaño (drums), with guest appearances by trumpeter Daniel Lencina, and young percussionist Santiago Salas (Santa y su gente). Censorship during the Chilean military regime meant heavy restrictions on the artists in the local jazz/soul/funk scene. Thus the Fusión album was pressed in a very limited quantity, and never legally re-issued—until now! Comes with a bi-lingual booklet which explores the story of Fusión in the context of the rich Chilean rock music scene.

SANTA Y SU GENTE (SANTA & HIS PEOPLE) (LION 674); UPC: 778578067427: In the 1970's in Chile, recording anything was complicated. The state-owned IRT label was administered by the military. Domestic releases gave way to an invasion of foreign music. Recitals or concerts were impossible—at most a group could hope for one appearance on television, or a very low-key event—this was the reality of the music world after the coup. Yet a few groups had the good fortune to overcome the prevailing censorship: this was the case with Santa y su Gente (Santa and his People). Santiago Salas was a percussionist stepped in jazz. It was he who assembled a band with musicians of the caliber of Lautaro Rosas and Mario Lecaros. The latter was a powerful musician, who would appear in other jazz fusion projects in those difficult years, and then leave Chile together to do an impressive job abroad with his group Comet. The one and only album of Santa y su Gente, “Urgente,” was released by RCA/IRT/Alba in 1974. This album is very rare, and therefore not very well known; but it contains all you can ask for: a Latin Afro-jazz fusion, half salsa and half Afro, with something powerful to say. Highly recommended. Comes with a bi-lingual booklet which explores the story of Santa y su Gente in the context of the rich Chilean rock music scene.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Montoro, Spain

Montoro - Esencia. 1991 Perfil-Divucsa.

And yet another CD-R revisit. This album would be at the tail end of the LP only era, before CDs became de rigueur. 20 years later, LP only releases are back in fashion. Who would have thunk?

Montoro's sole album is a good example of Flamenco Rock, past the 1970's glory days of course. The spiritual successor to Triana's “Sombra y Luz” as it were. Make no mistake, this album is as commercial as it is progressive. But it features fine lead guitar, excellent Arabian vocals, and thoughtful compositions. Much better than contemporary Medina Azahara, for example. Worth hearing, though not exemplary by any means.

Priority: none

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Plebb, Sweden

Plebb - Yes It Isn't It. 1979 private

And we continue with the CD-R revisit project.

Plebb are in essence a hard rock band with that patented twin guitar attack. They offer a smorgasbord of musical styles presenting the instrumental palette of two guitars, bass, and drums. With "Yes It Isn't It" you will hear reggae influenced hard rock ('Reaggie IIb'); Brilliantly intense dual guitar jamming like the Dutch group Cargo ('Push Box'); Hard rock party music ('Rockaria'); Early riffing metal with nice melodic leads ('Tankar om Natten'); Heavy rock balladry / proto Power Pop like early 80's Scorpions ('Förflutet'); Instrumental dual acoustic guitar ('Psst'); And proggy hard rock ('Fresh Fish'). Some of the lead electric guitar work presented here is truly sublime. Swedish vocals add an exotic touch, for us English speakers anyway. 'Push Box' and 'Tankar Om Natten" are the highlights for sure. This album has grown on me over time.

Priority: 3

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Bigroup, England

The Bigroup - Big Hammer. 1971 Peer International

More from the CD-R revisit project... Moving away from the US bands for the time being.

In today's culture, one might presume the Bigroup to be some sort of avant garde transsexual troupe. But most likely in 1971, it stood for nothing more than "The Big Group". Then again, they do have a composition entitled 'Blow-Suck Blues', so perhaps they were ahead of their time after all? Musically, however, they sound more like a late 60s group than a pioneering cutting edge post-Swinging London progressive band from 1971. "Big Hammer" is, in effect - if not actually the case - an all instrumental film library psychedelic album with copious flute, sitar, surf guitar, and roller rink organ. There's not much in the way of compositional development, which would be typical of the incidental film music genre. Somewhat similar to the Italian groups like Blue Phantom, Psycheground Group, or Fourth Sensation. Fun stuff.

Priority: 3

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Second Coming, USA

Second Coming - The Second Coming. 1970 Mercury

Another one from the CD-R revisit pile, though in this case, I went ahead and bought the vinyl afterward (it's not an expensive record for those of you in the market for one). The cover above is that copy, since there really wasn't good scan out there. Comes in a nice gatefold. There's also a UK press with a different cover (and considerably more expensive).

Second Coming are an old school horn rock band originally on Mercury Records (also the label behind the even better horn rock band Aura). I’m probably one of the world’s biggest horn rock fans, but it’s rare to find albums in this style with any kind of consistency. And Second Coming are no exception. They’ll mix a brilliant 7 piece instrumental with simplistic blues and pop music. Their arrangements were a little tighter than most, and they actually allowed their guitar player to go in frenzied Terry Kath mode, which is what kept the early Chicago albums interesting (and kept them rooted in the underground). Second Coming take this inconsistency even a bit further, and have brilliant moments within each track - along with the ordinary. For example, the staccato trumpet and drum corps bit on 'Requiem for a Rainy Day' is about as good as it gets. 'Landlubber' and the 11 minute progressive oriented 'Jeremiah Crane' also have much to recommend with some fiery guitar solos, and wonderful brass charts. But the boozy woozy numbers 'Take Me Home' and 'Roundhouse' are wretched in comparison, though the latter features a fine bluesy guitar solo at least. Tracks like "Requiem.." and 'It's Over' most certainly had major hit potential, but it wasn't meant to be I guess. A very talented band, that time has forgotten. Worth seeking out for fans of the style.

Priority: 3

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Pulse, USA

Pulse - s/t. 1968 Poison Ring. Also 1969 Major Minor (UK)

Next from the CD-R revisit pile:

Pulse are a heavy blues rock band from New Haven, Connecticut. I particularly enjoy the heavy tone coming from the guitar and the appropriate-for-the-genre gruff voice. There's quite a bit of harmonica to sit through, which is unfortunately one of my least favorite instruments. For the style, Pulse is a cut above the norm. Some of the tracks are lengthy and as such, they’ll throw in a creative idea or two with respect to composition and instrumentation. Still, in the end, nothing to get overly excited about. A classic period piece.

Priority: none

Friday, December 13, 2013

Valhalla, USA

Valhalla - s/t. 1969 United Artists

And we continue the CD-R revisit project...

Valhalla's sole album is more typical of the "USA confused year of 1970" than 1969. You can tell they are shedding their psychedelic past, yet that sound is still very prominent in Valhalla's repertoire. Certainly UK bands like Deep Purple had a profound influence on Valhalla and there's also an obvious - what we now call - proto-progressive sound with a strong organ presence. Comparisons to bands like Vanilla Fudge and Iron Butterfly wouldn't be out of place either. Definitely worthy of a professional reissue. At this point, the album is languishing in the gutters of the pirate market.

Priority: 3

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Randy Holden, USA

Randy Holden - Population II. 1970 Hobbit.

Next one up for the CD-R revisit project...

After playing on one half of a Blue Cheer album, Holden launched this literally named solo album with the addition of the drummer from Kak (hence a population of 2). For fans of loud, bluesy guitar and screaming gruff vocals with pounding 4/4 rhythms, then here you go. No tricky meters and any of that art school stuff here, just blitzed out hard rock - one style, all the time. This album has to be the source of the "just turn the amps to 11" gag. So uncompromising, it was bound to be a cult classic. And it is. Limited appeal, but too obscure to fall into the wrong hands. 

There is a legit LP reissue put out by Holden himself in 2005, but never pressed on CD (legit that is - there are plenty of bootlegs out there). Perhaps the prevailing thought is that you need the fuzz on the needle for this one anyway. :-)

Priority: 3

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Sapphire Thinkers, USA

Sapphire Thinkers - s/t. 1969 Hobbit.

More from the CD-R revisit project...

At its core, Sapphire Thinkers are a psych pop band. Sometimes complex, while elsewhere a naïve simplicity is brought forth. All the tracks save the close are between the 2 and 4 minute mark. Reference groups are Strawberry Alarm Clock, Crosby Stills & Nash, The Free Design, and Phluph. Very good album, though not exceptional, despite flashes of brilliance ('I Feel a Bit Strange', 'Not Another Night', and 'Doin' Alright' in particular) with some good fuzz guitar and flute. Boots exist on LP and CD.

Priority: 3

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

News: Steve Linnegar's Snakeshed to be reissued by Guerssen

Thanks to a note from Steve Linnegar's sister, Diane, we learned today that "Classic Epics" will be coming out on CD from Guerssen. Now of course Guerssen is more known to all of us for LP reissues (and we presume it will also come out in on vinyl as well), but they have done CD issues in the past. Definitely welcome news! Our feature for the album here.

Phluph, USA

Phluph - s/t. 1968 Verve.

Next one up on the CD-R revisit project. This album received a CD press from Akarma in 2001, but like most of their US releases, the origins of the rights are dubious at best. So, at the very least, we are calling for a better reissue from a specialist label like Sundazed or Lion, with new liner notes from the band and an attempt at using the master tapes.

Phluph were like many one-offs during the psych era - faceless, nameless, and a $1 cutout bin special. On the clueless Verve label, and lost in the shuffle with many of their Boston ("Bosstown Sound") contemporaries, Phluph went away with barely a murmur. Starts off in typical lame-o psych / rock territory. But then it takes an interesting turn towards the weird by the third track (though perhaps  not weird enough). One distinguishing characteristic of Phluph's sound is the prominent use of organ. Has that carnival sound, like The Doors, but the similarities end there. Some surprising fuzz guitar outbursts too. Even a rare progressive rock move here and there. A very good listen that grows on you over time.

Priority: 3

Monday, December 9, 2013

Velvert Turner Group, USA

Velvert Turner Group - s/t. 1972 Family.

More from the CD-R revisit project...

This is one of those albums that had two releases: a Soul and a Rock mix. Of interest to us is the latter of course. Velvert Turner is heavily, and I mean HEAVILY, influenced by classic Jimi Hendrix, whom apparently he had a student/mentor relationship with. On this, his only album, Turner pretty much imitates the vocal and compositional style to perfection. Nice guitar work as well, but of course falls short of the master. A bit too much hero worship here for me to recommend further. Multiple boots exist.

Priority: none

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Purple Image, USA

Purple Image - s/t. 1970 Map City

OK, back to the CD-R revisit project (see the John Bassman Group entry below for a quick explanation). I have a few of these ready to go. Let's see how many I can get out this week.

Purple Image's sole work is nominally a hard rock album with touches of Motown soul pop, which primarily surface via the harmony vocals (especially on 'We Got to Pull Together'). Some good psychedelic guitar and studio phasing are evenly spread throughout the LP. From the ghettos of Cleveland. In comparison to similar bands from that background, Purple Image are not as intense as Philadelphia's Del Jones' Positive Vibes nor "Maggot Brain" era Funkadelic (Detroit). All the same, a worthy listen if you can track a copy down. Bootlegs exist on both LP and CD, but nothing legitimate has surfaced to date.

Priority: none

Saturday, December 7, 2013

News: Wooden Hill reissues rare Charge demo album from the UK

Saw this one come over the wire today. This was one of many obscure Kissing Spell reissues that first popped up in the mid 1990s, which is why I never put it in the main list. According to the below, this is the first authorized version, and it appears to include significant bonus material. I wouldn't mind hearing this album again - it sort of blew by without notice nearly 20 years ago. Wooden Hill is an interesting label. They tend to come up with one intriguing reissue every year or two.

Label says: "Recorded in January 1973 as a demo-only pressing to hawk around the major record companies of the era, heavy rock trio Charge's frenzied, guitar-drenched album was counterfeited on both vinyl and CD in the 1990s, and consequently is now firmly established as one of the most legendary rarities to escape from the early Seventies British psychedelic/progressive underground scene. This first-ever authorised reissue adds a previously undocumented LP from twelve months earlier and tells the band's story for the first time. With re-mastered sound and a 12-page booklet with numerous hitherto-unpublished photos, this is the definitive issue of a definitive album!"

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

News: Bureau B reissues Gunter Schickert's "Kinder in Der Wildnis"!

Apparently this is the year of reissues for one Gunter Schickert! This was the last of his solo releases to not find its way onto CD prior (only on CD-R). Perhaps next will be the GAM "1976" cassette?

I just learned of this release today via the Wayside catalog updates (also reissued on vinyl). Strange I had not seen a single update regarding this, even though it's been out for close to two weeks now. I guess I'll need to start scanning the Bureau B website for updates!

Anyway, great news - and entirely unexpected!