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Monday, June 30, 2014

News: Musea is back in the reissue business! Program starts with two Robert Wood albums


I'm not sure I could have better news than this! Francis Grosse has rejoined the Musea team, and they have big plans for many reissues to come. As we have stated many times in the past, no label has ever surpassed Musea in terms of the sheer amount of quality reissues. And they pioneered the right way to do reissues, by obtaining legal rights, working directly with the artists and writing historical essays, printing unique photos, and adding relevant bonus tracks.

Without Grosse, the label has focused on their contemporary roster, and as such have been pretty silent with reissues for the last 7 years or so. There's been a couple of false starts in the past, and I have maintained sporadic contact with Francis throughout. But this time it appears we have tangible evidence that reissues will be released soon!

I have received a sneak preview into what the future holds, and I have to say it is very (VERY) impressive. Not only for straight reissues (many of which are in CDRWL awaiting patiently), but also archival material. Up soon in fact will be an archival second album from one of my all-time favorite French bands. That alone gives me a new reason to live. I can only hope that everything I saw on the list gets released.

The program kicks off with Robert Wood's two Polydor albums from 1976/77. I actually haven't heard these myself, but appears they have a great reputation amongst fans with similar tastes to mine. The gimmick here is that Wood plays electric vibraphone in a traditional instrumental rock setting. Sounds good to me. As a bonus to each, there will be tracks spread across from an unreleased 3rd Polydor album.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The New Age, USA

The New Age - Neptuned. 1980 Microdot

I first found this LP in 1996 at Bananas Record Warehouse in St. Petersburg, Florida. I was in Tampa for some Oracle DBA training (this was back when I actually had applicable skills), and of course didn't miss the opportunity for a little record shopping while I was there. Brought home a nice stack of LPs from that venture (the record store is still active!), of which The New Age (from Atlanta) was a part of. I also hung out with my buddy, newspaper columnist Richard P (still there man?), who was kind enough to show me the Tampa beach music scene one evening.

I thought the record was good - perhaps not great - and my old buddy Heavyrock was dying for a copy at that time. So I dubbed it to cassette, sold him the record, and then off it went to the mists of time. That cassette eventually became a CD-R, and here we are doing the CD-R revisit project, and up comes The New Age. I said to myself that I should just go ahead and get the CD - it's a good progressive rock record. Worth owning.

Then I realized there was a problem with that statement. In 2007, I had announced on the original CDRWL (from my old thomashayes.com site) that The New Age is now on CD, and it goes under the name Jordan Oliver (he apparently wasn't fond of Larry Oliver or The New Age anymore). You could go to CD Baby and obtain a copy. Problem solved.

Ah... CD Baby. I really like the website, and I think they're very good business folks, with excellent customer service skills. But they do one thing that drives me nuts....

.... they do not distinguish between CD's and CD-R's. Even now, you can go to the site and they list it as a CD. Now I don't own a copy, but everywhere else, it's listed as a CD-R - and I just confirmed with an industry friend that it is indeed a CD-R.

Is that such a big deal? I don't know if it's a big one, but it's a deal breaker for me. CD-R's are an inferior product. You can burn them on your laptop, and while most hold up, I've thrown plenty of them away as they stopped playing. Not all CD-R's will run in the various systems out there. I've never had to throw a factory pressed CD away, even ones that are "bronzed" from the 1980s. They still work - and play everywhere.

If these things don't matter to you, then by all means grab the CD-R. It's 100% legit and was released personally by Jordan Oliver.

But as we state in the FAQ, albums stay in the CDRWL until they receive an actual CD. CD-R's do not count. So we're calling for a more professional reissue.

The New Age is not the only album in this state, and there are a few more I'll be adding back in as I go. Some through the collection project and other via this CD-R revisit project.

Oh.... The music on The New Age is a decent classically inspired keyboard symphonic progressive rock work. A sound very much out of vogue for 1980 - similar to 1970 era ELP and, more to the point, The Nice.

Priority: 3

Friday, June 27, 2014

Late Nite Music Band, USA



Late Nite Music Band - s/t (EP). 1982 private

Here's another one from Midwest Mike's last submissions. Prior to this entry on the CDRWL, finding evidence of this album on the internet proved to be impossible (though there's some nice live footage on YouTube that I urge you all to check out - especially if you like to watch white groupies dance...). I have since added the album to Gnosis and RYM, and the photos here will be the only ones out in the cloud as they say.

Late Nite Music Band were from The Bronx, and this EP is their sole release. Musically they fit the late 70s and early 80s American style of instrumental funky fusion. I was reminded of Maine's Franklin Street Arterial from a compositional perspective, though Late Nite Music Band put more focus on guitar, slap bass, and electric piano rather than synthesizer and sax. The last track 'First Meeting' features some fiery psychedelic guitar, giving the album the rough edge it needs. Fortunately, this is one of the songs you can hear the band play live on YouTube. It's pretty cool - check it out.

Priority: none (though if they have more studio archival material such as 'First Meeting' sitting somewhere in a canister, I would bump this up as high as a Priority 2).

Friday, June 20, 2014

Bodkin, Scotland



Bodkin - s/t. 1972 West

(sigh). Bodkin is another album that has recently come up in the CD-R revisit project, and after some thought, I decided to give it an entry into the CDRWL. Like some of my CD-R's, this is an album I once owned (in this case a reissue), but decided to part with it - primarily because it was an inferior product, moreso than a true evaluation of the music itself.

So, as mentioned above, if I had a reissue already, why place it here? Well - good question, and perhaps not an easy answer will follow. Some of you are most likely expecting me to say "because they are all boots, that's why." But that's not the case here.

The first photo is the actual LP. It was not issued with a cover - or if it was - only a plain white sleeve. The story goes then that a West German dealer in the 1980s bought the remaining stock, and created a cover for it to make it more attractive to potential buyers (second and third photo - though the label itself is different making that story seem a bit suspect). In 1989, the German label Witch & Warlock debuted their catalog with a CD reissue of the album (4th photo). Ah, but you say, I know Witch & Warlock is a pirate concern. Perhaps they ended up making poor decisions, but they didn't start out that way. Witch & Warlock are in fact the same guys behind the German Oak album. And I think we can safely presume they did not bootleg their own privately released album. To this day I own that version of the German Oak CD, and it's without question authentic and most certainly the best copy to possess. The next CD on the label was Dom's Edge of Time, and while I later upgraded to the Second Battle versions (LP and CD), it's pretty apparent from the short notes on the CD that the members knew each other. Most everyone accepts this version as legit (though the sound wasn't improved upon at all). This was followed by an archival German Oak album, and then finally they decided to try their hand at needle drops and foregoing obtaining legal permission. Those things are just so tiring after all... (confession: I still own their CD version of Diabolus and patiently await for a legit version to surface). Anyway, before they reissued their own album, they reissued three albums from Scotland including Soho Orange and Tentacle - both of these being archival releases. Most websites consider these to be legit. And it makes sense, when you consider the German connection to the Bodkin album, as mentioned above.

Problem is... that CD version is near extinct. Foolishly I did not buy it at the time (1989-1990), though I'd heard the album and had easy access to it. By the time I did got off my arse (2001?), all that was available was the Akarma releases. Once I saw the absolutely amazing multi-foldout LP cover that opens up to a cross, I had to have that version (5th photo). It seemed my patience had paid off. This most assuredly is the definitive edition right? Wrong! What an utter disaster of a reissue. A needle drop (fine), but with skips and scratches. C'mon, really? How stoned do you have to be? I eventually parted with it... and so that's why it's only on CD-R here at Casa Ashratom (June 20, 2015 note... yes, exactly one year later! I did manage to score the W&W CD. But that changes nothing regarding the status for a better CD).

There is a legit LP that recently surfaced from England on the Acme label (2012). I wouldn't have high hopes for a sonic revelation, but it's probably the only way to own the album at this point. Unless...

...unless someone reissues it again on CD. Legit that is....

Priority: 3

Oh, the music you ask? It's been well documented, so I didn't feel the need to describe... but basically it's heavy organ rock with long tracks and plenty of jams including guitar - one of the better pure Hammond driven albums out there.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Felt, USA

Felt - s/t. 1971 Nasco

This entry comes as a result of the ongoing CD-R revisit project. I didn't feature it prior, since there exists a CD from a decade ago on the always gray area Akarma label of Italy. This one, like most of their US based releases, seems to be lacking in corroborating data as to the legitimate source. Rather than question the legality, we at the very least, are calling for a higher quality reissue.

Felt, from Northern Alabama, reminds me quite a bit of another band from the same region: After All (Tallahassee, Florida). Since Felt is two years on, the music has moved to a harder, bluesier rock sound. And so it's not quite as psychedelic and jazzy as After All, perhaps to its detriment. But tracks like 'Now She's Gone' and 'Destination' could have easily fit on the aforementioned album. Hammond organ and guitar are the main lead instruments here, along with the soulful bluesy vocals. Solid album from America's southeast region - an area not as well known for progressive music, and yet many bands did give it a whirl back in the day (and a few of those were on the same Nashville based Nasco Records). And most of those albums are well under the radar.

Priority: 3 

Please note our good friend Spacefreak's comment regarding an LP reissue: "(Felt has been) officially reissued in vinyl by the Greek Anazitisi label in 2012. A deluxe 180 gr vinyl + extensive 4 pages liner notes and containing a 7 inch with new tracks by FELT, on a more typical prog vein."

Friday, June 13, 2014

Child's Play, USA

Child's Play - s/t. 1979 Moonlight Records

Here's another album that arrived from the last CD-R pile sent in from Midwest Mike. I liked it so much, I immediately set out to buy an original copy, and lo and behold a sealed LP was up for auction on ebay at a cheap price. The photo above is indeed that copy (and fortunately the ring wear was only on the shrink wrap - which has now been safely removed and stored into a nice polyurethane sleeve). I've been so busy at work, that the LP arrived over a week ago, and I'm finely able to sit down to get a fresh and proper listen and pen an entry for the CDRWL.

Child's Play are an all instrumental progressive fusion band from Richmond, Virginia who successfully mix melodic and atmospheric composition with kinetic jazz school chops. Piano and electric guitar get the lion's share of attention, and the tracks move at a fast clip, keeping the listener's attention focused at all times. Plenty of excellent guitar solos, with some wah-wah applied to great effect. I really appreciate the psychedelic tones he achieves. The ivory tickling here is very impressive as well. The rhythm section does a great job of holding it all together with some crisp fills and meter shifting. Actual attention is paid to composition as well, so the album is not just a flimsy excuse for non-stop boring solos. For 70s fusion fans, this is a guaranteed hit. File alongside Genre (New Mexico), 3PM (North Carolina), and Momentum (California). Another great find from MM!

Priority: 2

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

News: Merlin's Nose reissues rare album by Gulaab

This one caught my eye yesterday morning right before one of those classic 18 hour work days complete with social events. Trying to catch up here, and wanted to get this news out as soon as possible. I'm not familiar with this title, and apparently it was released only on cassette. The description below, though, looks to be highly appealing to me. I also read one review on RYM that likened the album to Algarnas Tradgard. Since it appears to be a solo album, I'll keep my expectations in check - but it does look intriguing all the same.

The label is Merlin's Nose, which I haven't run into prior. "Ultra-rare lost psychedelic Kraut-Folk from 1979. First time on CD and LP! Taken from the original mastertapes! Gulaab means “rose” in Nepalese language. Gulaab is a German virtuoso on the acoustic guitar who has served three years as an after dinner musician in a luxury restaurant in Nepal to play for an amazing number of well known personalities of the 20th century during the early 70s. A strongly influential experience that shaped his musical expression big time but also let him become an open minded spirit. “Ritt durch den Hades” is the result of his experimentation with sounds, atmospheres and a multitude of styles in traditional music from Latin to Eastern Asian elements. It was first released in 1979, vanishing into obscurity soon after , waiting to be rediscovered by a more open minded generation of music lovers now. Traditionalists be forewarned : This mystic grail of 70s “kraut folk” stands far out from the average folk and singer / songwriter stuff combining guitar harmonies of the highest order with a cosmic drone that backs up the hypnotizing picking and trippy swirls of sounds. This album is in fact more like a musical journey than just a piece of music taking you from secret sacrificial altars in the Andes to the ceremonial places of the ancient Himalayan population with a short stopover for a little “joint venture” in the musical space centers of highly flown out German originators like ASH RA TEMPEL / Manuel Göttsching, POPUL VUH / Florian Fricke, WITTHÜSSER & WESTRUPP, BRÖSELMASCHINE, DOM or DEUTER. Now take a ride through Hades with GULAAB!"

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

News: Leong Lau and Abbhama now out on CD!


Just a quick note to let everyone know that, after a couple of delays, the Leong Lau CD is now out! As is the Abbhama, that was recently announced. Both are from Strawberry Rain. Be on the lookout for some notes over at Unencumbered Music Reviews in the next few weeks!