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.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The spatial effect of stereo (LP 124)

Phillips Presents Super Stereo Demonstration (Vinyl - Phillips, no date anywhere but it's old, okay) * 

Genre: Comedy (because of the sketches and sound effects)

Places I remember: My dad's collection. It has always been around. I can remember this being played when I was still in single figures.

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles/Gear costume: Fab and gear is pushing it but the Philip Morgan Super-agent sketch was useful when Greg Knowles and I did our crazy tapes!

Active compensatory factors: A relic from a distant age, when mono made way for stereo and early adopters like my dad needed a stereo presentation record to...erm...actually I'm not sure why he needed this.

Its principal format is, on side 1, a narrator examining the benefits of stereo separation. There are snippets of songs and sketches - like a motel room skit (weirdly put onto YouTube by some weird weirdo above) and 'an overworked commercial traveller desperately trying to get some sleep' - cue the clock ticking, a tap dripping and a brigade of mosquitoes!

Side 2 features the New Westminster Orchestra playing standards, like Hello Dolly, in an easy listening style that my dad was particularly fond of, and I hated. Still doesn't do anything for.

But the whole record is all wonderfully comforting for me - a real, tangible link to my musical history. It's nuts, but I can't imagine my collection without this record.

Where do they all belong? File this in the barking mad category - which, I guess is why I have it nestled into the comedy genre.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Locomotion (John Coltrane) (LP 123)

John Coltrane Blue Train (Vinyl - Blue Note, 1958) ****

Genre: Jazz

Places I remember:
 Marbecks Records (Auckland)

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Locomotion (Trane/train - see what he did there?)

Gear costume: Blue Train

Active compensatory factors: Coltrane’s only album on the famous Blue Note label was his self-proclaimed favourite album up to 1960.

It's a varied hard bop affair with Lee Morgan, on trumpet, Kenny Drew, piano, and Curtis Fuller, on trombone, joining the rythym section (Paul Chambers, bass, 'Philly' Joe Jones, drums), to provide additional colour to Coltrane's masterful tenor sax.

Overall, it's hard to argue with the sleeve notes that highlight the 'free, but not disorganized, blowing mood that has everyone in exceptional form both individually and collectively'.

Where do they all belong? Coltrane would next take a giant step in 1959.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

You got me working day and night (Michael Jackson) (LP 122)

Michael Jackson Off The Wall (Vinyl - Epic, 1979) ****

Genre: Soul

Places I remember:
 Marbecks Records (Auckland)

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Rock With You

Gear costume: Off The Wall, Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough

Active compensatory factors: Off The Wall was eclipsed by Thriller's uber-mega-success but, for me, this is a purer, funner, Michael Jackson album. Even if there are only three songs written by MJ.

Off The Wall is just a load of fun, from the first whooooo to the last disco tune.

In fact, there is a neat balance between the dance/disco material that bookends the album (the very funky Don’t Stop ‘til You Get Enough…to the slightly weak final Burn This Disco Out), the impressive but soppy ballad (She’s Out Of My Life), and superior pure pop (Rock With You).

The quality control isn’t 100% though with at least one track on each side that is a little weak and/or formulaic. Never mind. The joy and high energy elsewhere more than makes up them.

Where do they all belong?  The behemoth was coming.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

New dawn fades (Joy Division) (LP 121)

Joy Division Unknown Pleasures (Vinyl - Factory, 1979) *****

Genre: Alternative

Places I remember: Marbecks Records (Auckland)

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: New Dawn Fades

Gear costume: She's Lost Control

Active compensatory factors: Everything about this record should be depressing - black unrelenting cover (where music is reduced to sound waves), songs without titles (and when they are revealled they are titles like Disorder, New Dawn Fades, Wilderness, She's Lost Control, I Remember Nothing) and a bleak history thanks to Ian Curtis' death, BUT, call me weird, somehow, I find this record curiously uplifting. Same curious thing happens when I listen to the blues.

I have good memories of listening to it during my last few years at Auckland University - the surreal sounds suited my academic reach as I studied a potpourri of poetry and drama and novels for my masters degree in English.

The bleak post punk Mancunian landscape was purely of my imagination. 

The mystery associated with the album - no band pictures (or even names), no song titles - gave it a deeply satisfying aura. I had to make all that stuff up in my head. 

Most definitely a case of unknown pleasures!

Where do they all belong? Closer is coming.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Blues Power (Derek and The Dominos) (LP 120)

Derek and The Dominos In Concert (Vinyl - RSO, 1973) ****

Genre: Blues

Places I remember: Real Groovy (Auckland)

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Roll It Over

Gear costume: Tell The Truth

Active compensatory factors: Recorded at the Fillmore East, In Concert is the only other surviving record from the Derek and Layla period (apart from Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, of course).

Interestingly, only three songs in the nine song set actually come from Layla: Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad; Have You Ever Loved A Woman; Tell The Truth. And Layla itself is conspicuous by it's absence.

For me, this is one of Clapton's peak periods and he's had a few hasn't he.  With the combination of Bobby Whitlock's organ, Jim Gordon's flamboyant drumming, Carl Radle's bass anchor, and Eric in great firey form, this foursome is tight!!

Where do they all belong? Eric would shed the pretense of being someone other than who he was and release 461 Ocean Boulevard next - which I've already blogged about. So, I think it'll be some back tracking with Cream next, if that's okay.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

We can swing together (Lindisfarne) (LP 117 - 119)

Lindisfarne Nicely Out Of Tune (Vinyl - Philips, 1970) **** 
Lindisfarne Fog On The Tyne (CD - Charisma, 1971) *****
Lindisfarne Dingly Dell (Vinyl - Charisma, 1972) *** 

Genre: Folk

Places I remember: The vinyl is from Real Groovy (Auckland) and the CD from HMV (Stratford Mall, London)

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Lady Eleanor, Meet Me On The Corner.

Gear costume: It may be a little glib to say but everything else on the first two albums is pretty gear. There are some amazing songs on Nicely Out Of Tune and Fog On The Tyne. Dingly Dell has some great moments but it's without a killer track. 

Active compensatory factors: I'm a late comer to Lindisfarne albums, although I did buy Dingly Dell way back in 1972 (I sold it along the long and winding road, so this is a 'new' copy). Instead, over the years, I have used a great compilation as my Lindisfarne go to item.

The albums are something of a revelation to someone like me who just has all the hits on the best of CD. One great song after another from the principle song writers Alan Hull and Rod Clements.

Like a lot of classic musical combos, having the different vocalists, subtle stylistic changes associated with having different, strong song writers, and the multi tasking musicianship makes for a great great sound and, more important - album!

Where do they all belong? Kind of like Wishbone Ash and Black Sabbath, the first three or four albums of their career were never bettered. Next up for Lindisfarne was a couple of crap albums before Back And Fourth, which is coming up, eventually. Interesting that all of these other bands also abandoned fancy album titles and went for Wishbone Ash 4; Black Sabbath Vol. 4. Just sayin'.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Blessing in disguise (Michael Murphey) (LP 116)

Michael Murphey Cosmic Cowboy Souvenir (Vinyl - EMI, 1973) ***

Genre: Country

Places I remember: Slow Boat Records (Wellington)

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Blessing in Disguise

Gear costume: Rolling Hills

Active compensatory factors: Roger Marbeck once gave me a tape of Blue Sky - Night Thunder by Michael Murphey. It contained the hit song Wildfire, which I was immediately drawn to, but it turned out I loved the whole album. Murphey's voice is an authentic one.

Sadly the tape was munched many years ago and I've been searching for a replacement copy ever since*.

I did find this earlier album last year in Slow Boat Records. It's no where near as good as Blue Sky - Night Thunder but it's still a worthwhile record in its own right.

Straying into the poppier end of country from time to time, there is still plenty of  pedal steel and mandolin from Herb Steiner to keep it real.

Extra kudos: it's produced by the great Bob Johnston.

Where do they all belong? Still, the search goes on for Blue Sky...*

* Since writing this post I found a copy! Vinyl too! And it's as great as I remember it. It will be the next cab off the rank in this genre.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The heat goes on (Asia) (LP 115)

Asia Under The Bridge (Vinyl - The Vinyl Countdown, 2012) ***

Genre: Progressive Rock

Places I remember: The Warehouse (Hastings)

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles:  Heat of The Moment from the live album is always a great source for early eighties memories.

Gear: Soul Survivor

Active compensatory factors: Supergroup Asia's debut was firmly in the prog vein, thanks to sinuous songs, John Wetton's wonderful vocals (sadly John passed away in January this year), Geoff Downes' pop smarts, and great musical chops from Palmer and Howe. 

Under The Bridge is an 'official bootleg' of a show by the original band members from 2008 in San Francisco. One of those shows where legacy bands play a whole album - in this case their debut.

It's pretty good, too.

Sidebar for Under The Bridge: Naff cover is NOT by Roger Dean.

Where do they all belong? Asia would go through numerous personnel changes and I'd lose interest from the debut, persevering with collecting Yes albums instead. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Meanwhile back at the ranch (Badfinger (LP 114)

Badfinger Wish You Were Here (Vinyl - Warner Bros, 1974) ****

Genre: Apple/ Dark Horse Records (yes, I know it's not on either of those labels, but I group all the related stuff under that umbrella 'genre').

Places I remember: Real Groovy Records (Auckland)

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Know One Knows (yes - that's how it's spelt on the album)

Gear costume: Dennis (another Pete Ham classic)

Active compensatory factors: Maybe their best album, and pretty much know one knows it (sic). Their second album of 1974 was withdrawn soon after being released and its appearance on CD is severely limited.

Blame naff lawsuits for this travesty. My copy was a great find at a second hand shop in Auckland way back at the end of the seventies. It has a 'Promotional Copy: Not For Sale' pink sticker and originally came from the USA.

The album stands as Pete Ham's last contributions to the much loved, but badly treated Badfinger. His vocals alone are worth your time.

Like The Beatles, the band had a number of song writers and so variety of approach (and quality) can be an issue on their albums. All contributions here are strong and stand the test of time.

Where do they all belong? Wish You Were Here was a peak; afterwards - heart breaking suicides, patchy records with various combinations of old and new band members, live and lost recordings. A sad slow winding pathway for a once magnificent band.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

You really got a hold of me (The Beatles) (113)

The classic version
The Beatles With The Beatles (CDs/ Vinyl - Parlophone, 1963) ***
The Beatles Meet The Beatles (Vinyl - Apple, 1963 ***

Genre: Beatles pop

Places I remember: The vinyl came from Noel Forth via swap deals - the American version (Meet...) is on Apple! The Australian vinyl of With... has a really bad cover (not the classic shadow one) and the various CDs are from either NZ or Kings Recording in Abu Dhabi (the remastered box set).

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: It Won't Be Long - for John's vocals!

Gear costume: Don't Bother Me 

My vinyl Aussie version
Active compensatory factors: The difficult second album: With The Beatles is a bit of a mixed bag. The first side gets off to a roaring start with four stone cold classics before John's weak Little Child and Paul's cringe inducing Till There Was You shake the side up, Please Mr Postman ends things well enough, but it's a cover and (whisper it) kind of slight.

Side 2 has some great moments and ends strongly with John's brilliant Money cover, but along the way we have Ringo's less than stellar take on the knock off I Wanna Be Your Man and the weakish Devil In Her Heart. A mixed bag, as I said.

Meet The Beatles is the American version and is even more piecemeal; it includes some singles (I Want To Hold Your Hand) and choice cuts off Please Please Me (I Saw Her Standing There) along with those less than stellar songs from With The Beatles. Weird.

Where do they all belong? Next up:  A Hard Day's Night. Back on track in a big way!