Thursday, August 17, 2017

Hot 'lanta (Allman Brothers band) (LP 132-133)

The Allman Brothers Band The Allman Brothers Band (Vinyl - Polydor, 1969) *****
The Allman Brothers Band At Fillmore East (Vinyl (double LP) - Polydor, 1971) ****

Genre: American pop/ rock

Places I remember: Both from Marbecks Records (Auckland)

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Black Hearted Woman 

Gear costume: You Don't Love Me, Whipping Post (on both albums)

Active compensatory factors: Sorry for the lack of chronology with my Allman Brothers Band albums. Blame it on the fact that I am travelling between my CD and vinyl collections. That explains why I've covered Idlewild South and Eat a Peach before getting to the vinyl copies of these two earlier albums.

The live album has come to be regarded as a classic and although nobody talks about the stunning debut much, it is also a classic album. Funny old world innit.

I remember coming across them in an import shipment Roger got from the States along with a host of other great albums including amazing stuff by Jefferson Airplane/Hot Tuna/Grateful Dead. I loved the covers and just had to have them!

I love live albums that sound and feel like a whole concert - applause leads into the next track. I'm less thrilled when the applause fades and the next track starts after a pause. That's the case with this album and weirdly the chronology of the concert is off anyway - side two ends with the first bars of Whipping Post (here placed on side four!). That explains the four star rating.

That said - the playing here is breath-taking. The lyrical In Memory of Elizabeth Reed is a spectacular guitar work out by Dickey Betts and Duane Allman before Gregg Allman embarks on some brilliant organ, then it's back to Duane and Dickey for a set of ascending wig outs. 

And that's just one high point amongst many on At Fillmore East.

Their first album is another example of a band seemingly fully formed on debut. Anyone who has heard tracks by Hourglass knows that they had a history before this album but by 1969 Gregory LeNoir Allman's rich vocals are fully there, the band are tight, the songs are all there, the two drummers and two guitarists are in place as well. Duane Allman and Dick Betts are particularly there!

Sidebar: a tad sad looking at those group lineups on these two covers - only Dickey Betts and Jaimoe are still around of the six original members of The Allman Brothers Band.

Where do they all belong? Back on track chronologically speaking - Brothers and Sisters (yes, another classic five star album) is next.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Stuck in the middle (Stealers Wheel) (LP 131)

Stealers Wheel Stealers Wheel (Vinyl - A&M, 1972) ***

Genre: Scottish pop/ rock

Places I remember: Slow Boat Records (Wellington)

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Stuck in the Middle

Gear costume: Next to Me

Active compensatory factors: Stealers Wheel (no apostrophe employed) come with some clear Beatle connections.

  • Geoff Emerick on engineering duty
  • Recorded at Apple Studios, 3 Savile Row, London
  • Joe Egan/Gerry Rafferty harmonies that are very reminiscent of the Fabs at times
  • Songs that are very Beatle-esque  

Gerry Rafferty, of course, went onto some bigger hits (Baker Street anyone?) but this debut album of Stealers Wheel does have its moments. Most notably the hit song Stuck in the Middle (as it's labelled on the cover) and some lovely mid-paced songs like Next to Me and You Put Something Better Inside Of Me. 

The rest is nothing less than pleasant, distinguished by those smooth Rafferty vocals and those harmonies.

Where do they all belong? This is the only Stealers Wheel album I own. I do mean to pick up Ferguslie Park at some point though.

Monday, August 7, 2017

All around man (Rory Gallagher) (LP 130)

Rory Gallagher Against The Grain (Vinyl - Chrysalis, 1975) ****

Genre: Irish pop/ rock

Places I remember: Marbecks Records (Auckland) 

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Souped-Up Ford

Gear costume: All Around Man, Out on the Western Plain

Active compensatory factors: Another nice one Rory!

It's 1975 and Rory's been at for seven albums as a solo artist (before that he was the main man in Taste, of course). He's Mr Consistency.

The blueprint had long been established and not much had changed since 1966 - Rory is still playing amazingly varied guitar (lyrical at times, hard as nails at others), his vocals are still right on the money, the band is still tight as a fish's bum (Gerry McAvoy - bass, Lou Martinkeyboards, Rod de'Ath – drums) and the songs have always been there.

Suddenly though, Against The Grain hit the right vein with Americans and it became more well received than previous albums. 

Rory hadn't changed, it's just that critics and audiences had started catching up with a good thing.

Where do they all belong? More good times coming, Calling Card's next up.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Into the void (Black Sabbath) (LP 128 - 129)

Black Sabbath Paranoid (Vinyl/CD - Vertigo, 1970) *****
Black Sabbath Master Of Reality (Vinyl/CD - Vertigo, 1971) *****

Genre: English pop/rock

Places I remember: The RCA Record Club was a wondrous thing. I could save my pennies - pore over the catalogue, make a selection, send off a money order and get a record in the post!! Wohsers! 

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Sweetleaf

Gear costume: War Pigs/ Paranoid/Fairies Wear Boots/Into The Void/Electric Funeral...I could go on!

Active compensatory factors: These two are lumped together because I bought Master Of Reality (their third album) first, then got Paranoid (their second album) pretty quickly afterwards.

Does that make sense?

For me, they are like Rubber Soul and Revolver - two albums that are almost Volume 1 and 2.

Sweetleaf was a revelation in 1971 (I was a very naive 13 year old, and so had no idea they were singing about marijuana). I played it loud!! A lot!! What must my parents have thought?

The sound of these two albums is quite similar, production wise. Even now, listening to the songs on the debut Black Sabbath and Vol 4, they sound weedy (no pun intended) or unfocused in comparison, whereas the two albums in between hold grungy, resonant riffermania thrills aplenty.

Ozzy was never better than here. 

Where do they all belong? Even though I loved these two albums I never bothered with the first and fourth albums. These two stand alone, and were never bettered. I stand by my decision.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Trick of the light (Wayne Roland Brown) (LP 127)

Wayne Roland Brown Trick Of The Light (Vinyl - RCA/ Mandrill Records, 1981) **

Genre: NZ and Australian pop/rock

Places I remember: Slow Boat Records (Wellington)

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles/ Gear costume: This Close To Love

Active compensatory factors: Kind of appropriate that I bought this singer-songwriter's album in Wellington - his home town. I like bits of Wellington - the main few streets around Cuba Mall, Arty Bees and Unity bookshops, Slow Boat Records, the waterfront by Te Papa and the botanical garden is cool, but that's about it.

I'd dimly remembered the name and the cover of a previous album (left) but it was the back cover information that made me take a punt on this. 

I have a soft spot for Mandrill Records (a NZ label) and the backing musicians are world famous in NZ: Bruce Lynch; Frank Gibson Jnr; Stuart Pearce (Streettalk); Eddie Hansen (Ticket); Brian Smith (various jazz combos); Jacqui Fitzgerald; Suzanne Lynch (The Chicks); Glyn Tucker Jnr (producer to the stars).

So expectations were high, tempered by the fact it was released in 1981! It's always a punt with stuff from the eighties.

The musicianship is first class, but in the end, the slickness of the sound, the pleasant but not distinct enough voice, and the so so-ness of the songs make it a good sounding but ho-hum, meh, kind of record. 

Sorry Wayne, I really wanted to like the record but, you know - that's the way the cookie crumbles sometimes.

Where do they all belong? Hmm - flip comment would be - back in 1981. I'll hang onto the record because it's part of Kiwi music history, and that supporting cast - ooee baby.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Le chant grégorien est un chant sacré anonyme (LP 126)

The Deller Consort  Gregorian Chants - Wedding of Cana (Vinyl - Everest Records, 1979) *** 

Genre: Classical

Places I remember: Marbecks Records (Auckland)

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles/Gear costume: It all morphs into one extended ambient sound collage.

Active compensatory factors: Incredibly calming sounds these; bought after hearing something similar at Roger Marbeck's place.

This form of chanting goes back to the 9th and 10th century. For me, it's similar to Buddhist chanting and Brian Eno's ambient albums - meditative and refreshing after listening to 'modern' music. 

Best listened to on a Sunday morning or late at night. 

Where do they all belong? This album stands alone. Every home should have one!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A sign of the times (LP 125)

Les and Larry Elgart Sound Of The Times - More Au Go-Go (Vinyl - CBS, 1966) ** 

Genre: Easy Listening

Places I remember: My dad's collection

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles/ Gear costume: California Dreaming is nicely arranged and the Batman Theme is bold and brassy.

Active compensatory factors: This is at the meatier end of the Easy Listening genre but it still conforms to the norms - orchestral/jazzy versions of hits of the day (the sound of the time) by The Beatles, Beach Boys and Herb Alpert (Spanish Flea). It's all here, plus the garish girly having fun cover. The shoddily prepared wrinkled backdrop is eerily appropriate.

It's all very swinging 1966.

Larry Elgart is the alto saxophonist, his brother Les plays trumpet.

Dad loved this stuff - let's just say I didn't share his enthusiasm back in 1966 when I was 9. 

Now? I can listen to it in the right spirit - in a vaguely warm, nostalgic glow.

They don't make 'em like this anymore!  

Where do they all belong? Next up in this section is George Martin's more authentic, but equally easy listening, take on some Beatle chunes.