Thursday, August 31, 2017

Nothing to show (Badfinger) (LP 138 - 140)

Badfinger Airwaves (Vinyl - Elektra, 1979) *** 
Badfinger Apple Daze (CD - Raven Records, 1991) * 
Badfinger Head First (CD - Snapper, 2000) ** 

Genre: Apple/ Dark Horse Records

Places I remember: Respectively - Marbecks Records; Real Groovy Records; Fives (Leigh-on-sea, UK)

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Love Is gonna Come At Last (from Airwaves)

Gear costume: The Dreamer (another Joey Molland song from Airwaves)

Active compensatory factors: Airwaves could have been called 'And Then There Two' as only Joey Molland and Tom Evans appear on it. When I got a glimpse of the album while working at Marbecks Records in the late seventies, my expectations were low as my favourite Badfinger songs mostly came from Pete Ham. 

Depending on your point of view, the album stands as either a brave attempt to move the Badfinger story on or to cash in. 

Tom and Joey were both strong vocalists in the original band, so it does have enough of the classic Badfinger sound to make it a brave attempt for my money. 

Whatever, given Tom Evans' suicide in 1983, it ends up as another sad chapter in the end (as is, I suspect, Say No More, a follow up by the duo under the Badfinger name which I have yet to find anywhere).

Apple Daze is an interesting interview disc with Tom Evans about Apple, Beatles, Badfinger related content. One for obsessives though.

As is Head First, recorded at Apple Studios. It was supposed to be the follow up to Wish You Were Here but was put on hold. It's no surprise to find that it's a miserable slog of an album - songs about the dire situation with management (Hey, Mr Manager, Rock'n'Roll Contract) don't help the situation one bit.

Where do they all belong? Next up is a brace of live albums by the original band.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

If I Fell (The Beatles) (LP 136 - 137)

The Beatles A Hard Day's Night (CD/ Vinyl - Parlophone, 1964) *****
The Beatles Something New (Vinyl - Apple Records, 1964) ****

Genre: Beatles pop

Places I remember: A Hard Day's Night came from a trip to Sydney with the family in 1973; Something New from Real Groovy Records (Auckland)

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: A Hard Day's Night (From that first magic chord onwards - it's a perfect song!). Not sure how the whole film is on YouTube but there you go. Feel free to watch the whole kit and kaboodle.

Gear costume: Tell Me Why (oh, and all the other songs on A Hard Day's Night as well)

Active compensatory factors: Each song's a gem, but not only that - every song's a different kind of gem. An emerald here, a sapphire there.

Each song is seared into my consciousness, and has become a shortcut to scenes in the best rock 'n' roll movie of all time. 

Best. Of. All. Time.

Something New gets 4 stars because it's another weird Capitol version with some of the A Hard Day's Night songs, plus some EP tracks and the German vocal songs. Great great songs, but not a cohesive whole by any means. What were they thinking in that Capitol tower$$. Oh sorry. That should have been ??

Where do they all belong? Beatles For Sale/ Beatles IV/ Beatles '65/ Beatles No. 5

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Tuff E nuff (Johnny Otis) (LP 134 - 135)

The Guess Who Wild One (Vinyl - Pickwick, 1972 ) ** 
The Guess Who The Way They Were (Vinyl - RCA, 1976 ) ***  

Genre: Canadian pop/ rock

Places I remember: Wild One - Real Groovy Records (Auckland); TWTW - Music Box Record Exchange (Hastings)

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Species Hawk

Gear costume: Tuff E Nuff is a load of hunky fun, as is This Could Be Love with youthful Burton Cummings vocals. On TWTW, Silver Bird and Palmyra hinted at greatness to come. The Answer road tests the distinctive harmonies.

Active compensatory factors: These two are bracketed because they both pre date Wheatfield Soul, their first 'real' album.

Wild One features the Chad Allan led version of the band. Strictly speaking, it's a compilation of material done between 1965 and 1967 but because of the narrow focus it sounds like a bona fide studio album. 

Weirdly, their first hit, a 1965 rendition of Johnny Kidd & the Pirates' Shakin' All Over is not included in the package. Nor are other singles of this era!

Just to weird it out some more, Chad left in 1966 and so the band effectively continued as a quartet for the next four years with:

  • Burton Cummings (keyboards/ vocals)
  • Randy Bachman (guitars, backing vocals)
  • Jim Kale (bass, backing vocals)
  • Garry Peterson (drums, backing vocals)

The Way They Were is also an oddity, including as it does some good stuff recorded before Wheatfield Soul with Jack Richardson but not released until 1976 (after the original band called it a day).

Hope you're keeping up! 

That's the background. What about the music?

Wild One's sound is nowhere near the Burton Cummings' led band that we all know and love. Instead it's a tentative series of songs in thrall to American rock of the mid sixties, looking for a distinctive voice. As such, it sounds a lot like New Zealand music of the time. Outsiders both.

Chad Allan sounds like the American teen idol that, I guess, he wanted to be. Randy Bachman tries out surf guitar and some psychedelic licks at times, but it would have been going out on a limb to think these guys would evolve to mega stardom.

By the time they recorded the material on The Way They Were the band had taken a quantum leap forward. Burton had become a much more assured vocalist and Randy's guitar style had also undergone a transformation into a more distinctive heavy riffing style.

And the songs had improved! No more covers - Cummings/Bachman had become a thing.

Where do they all belong? Wheatfield Soul would prove itself to be a game changer.

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.