Various Artists – Tropical Tribute To The Beatles (1996)

FrontCover1Tropical Tribute to the Beatles is a tribute album of tropical artists released in 1996 by RMM Records (Ralph Mercado’s record company), produced by Oscar Gomez (distributed by Bellaphon & Uni Distribution).

Arrangements were made by Steve Roistein, and lyrics were adapted into Spanish by Jorge Córcega, who had previously adapted the lyrics of Salvatore Adamo.

The concert in New York City at Radio City Music Hall was released on DVD. In 1996 a tour was made through Spain (Plaza de Toros (Valencia), Madrid, La Coruña’s Coliseum, Barcelona). (by wikipedia)

On December 31, 1962, the Beatles performed the classic song “Besame Mucho” at the Star Club in Hamburg, Germany, in recognition of the highly emotive music from Latin America. Four decades later, RMM decided to bring the Beatles’ greatest hits back, this time played by some of the most prominent Latin artists in a tropical tribute to one of the most influential acts in popular music ever. After the opening track, “Hey Jude,” by Puerto Rican singer Tony Vega, Tito Nieves and the percussion virtuoso Tito Puente deliver a freewheeling “Let It Be.” The Cuban soloist Guianko performs a salsa version of “Can’t Buy Me Love,” followed by Johnny Rivera’s “Hard Day’s Night.” Latin diva Celia Cruz sings her own version of “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” while New York-based Ray Sepúlveda and Manny Manuel do the same on “The Fool on the Hill” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” respectively. Domingo Quiñones’ cover of “Day Tripper” is followed by “Lady Madonna” by Venezuelan-born Oscar D’Leon, and Jesus Enríquez joins Cuban Miles Peña on “With a Little Help From My Friends.” RMM Tropical Tribute to the Beatles comes to an end with a stylish version of “Yesterday” by Cheo Feliciano (aka José Cheo Feliciano), a bolero-inflected “And I Love Her,” and “Come Together” by Latin jazz symbol Tito Puente. A joyous 13-track record with captivating and even exuberant performances in both English and Spanish. (by Drago Bonacich)

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For its opportunism and potentially dreadful results, the mere idea of a salsa adaptation of Beatles songs is enough to make you fear for the worst. But Spain-based producer Oscar Gomez and most of the RMM roster rose to the occasion with an above-average homage that is fun, edgy and artistically serious.

Except for the elimination of harmonies in “Day Tripper” by Ray Sepulveda and a surprisingly cheesy interpretation of “And I Love Her” by Jose Alberto, the record successfully achieves its main goals, keeping the essence of the original music, adding significant arrangements and still remaining a pure salsa album. (by latimes.com)

Oh yes, this is a very special tribute ot “The Fab Four” !

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Personnel:
Ed Calle (saxophone)
Tony Concepcion (trumpet)
Oscar Gomez (percussion, background vocals)
Chema Moncillo (bass)
Sammy “Timbalon” Pagan (percussion)
Steve Roistein (keyboards, background vocals)
Dana Teboe (trombone)
Rene Luis Toledo (guitar)
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Yuni Brito (tambora on 07.)
Wilfrido Drullarpiano (bass on 07.)
Nilo Gonzalez (bass on 07.)
Rafael Rojas (percussion on 07.)
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background vocals:
Cheito Quiñones – Jose Morato – Juan Canovas – Rosa Giron

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Tracklist:
01. Tony Vega: Hey Jude 5.29
02. Tito Nieves: Let It Be 519
03. Guianko: Can’t Buy Me Love (No Puedes Comprarme) 4.37
04. Johnny Rivera: A Hard Day’s Night 5.00
05. Celia Cruz: Obladi, Oblada 4.44
06. Ray Sepulveda: The Fool On The Hill 4.29
07. Manny Manuel: I Wanna Hold Your Hand (Dame La Mano Y Ven) 4.27
08. Domingo Quiñones: Day Tripper 4.16
09. Oscar D’Leon: Lady Madonna 4.47
10. Jesus Enriquez & Miles Peña: With A Little Help From My Friends (La Ayuda De La Amistad) 5.07
11. Cheo Feliciano: Yesterday 5.52
12. Jose Alberto: And I Love Her (Mi Gran Amor Le Di) 3.16
13. All Star Ensemble(*):  Come Together (Vamos Juntos) 5.57

All songs written by Paul McCartney & John Lennon

(*) Tony Vega, Tito Nieves, Guianko, Johnny Rivera (2), Celia Cruz, Ray Sepulveda, Manny Manuel, Domingo Quiñones, Oscar D’Leon, Jesus Enriquez, Miles Peña, Cheo Feliciano & Jose Alberto “El Canario”

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Focus – At The Rainbow (1973)

USFrontCover1At the Rainbow is the first live album from the Dutch rock band Focus, released in October 1973 on Imperial Records. The album was recorded at the Rainbow Theatre in London on 5 May 1973. A studio album was initially slated for release, but it was shelved due to disagreements within the band. (An album compiled from the tapes of these sessions was later released with the title Ship of Memories.) At the Rainbow was released instead. (by wikipedia)

The instrumental rockers of the early ’70s never were any good at dulling down their musical expertise; and, indeed, it’s only a matter of seconds into their first and only live release — Live at the Rainbow — until one realizes just how talented Focus were. Jan Akkerman, named “World’s Best Guitarist” by Melody Maker in 1973 ahead of Eric Clapton and others, was amazingly on form in this performance. Thijs Van Leer, chief songwriter and performer in the band, showcased his talents on flute, vocals, and organ with unparalleled finesse. Bert Ruiter knocked out his basslines tight to Pierre Van Der Linden’s drums, undoubtedly two of the finest players on their respective instruments. It would be so easy to go off on a tangent explaining the mastery that Focus had musically; suffice to say, however, the bands technical proficiency is rarely matched in the world of rock. Live at the Rainbow featured some of the band’s best and most well known tracks: “Sylvia,” “Hocus Pocus,” “Focus II,” and so on.

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Original Dutch front + back cover

Although much of the content sticks closely to its original studio form (12-minute tracks were regular on studio albums), with maybe an extra solo or two thrown in for good measure, a few songs host drastic changes. “Hocus Pocus,” for example, is almost unrecognizable. This live version is multiple times faster than its studio counterpart — those familiar with only the studio version are certainly in for a shock! Throughout the album the performance is simply astonishing. Live at the Rainbow is a fine purchase for any Focus fan, or, indeed, anyone looking for a band with a good degree of originality and musical ability. (by Ben Davies)

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Original Dutch labels

This is a live album by Focus. It is an excellent live performance of the early Focus. The selected tracks are interesting: there are “Hocus Pocus”, “Focus 2” “Sylvia” and a shortened version of the epic “Eruption”, among others. The sound is pretty good, and the musicians almost sound like on the studio albums. The polite crowd favorably responds at the end and the beginning of the tracks. On “Focus 2”, Jan Akkerman seems not at his best: he often hesitates: I think the track is a bit played too fast. The mellow version of “Eruption” is particularly brilliant. “Hocus Pocus” is almost better than the studio version: they play it much faster. The yodeling is very well succeeded, and there are even a couples of further extravagant vocals parts and whistling: IMPRESSIVE! The other shorter version of “Hocus Pocus” is also fantastic, with again another special & different yodeling. (by greenback)

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Personnel:
Jan Akkerman (guitar)
Thijs van Leer (keyboards, flute, vocals)
Pierre van der Linden (drums)
Bert Ruiter (bass)

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Tracklist:
01. Focus III (v.Leer) 3.53
02. Answers? Questions! Questions? Answers! (Akkerman/Ruiter) 11.29
03. Focus II (v.Leer) 4.36
04. Eruption (Excerpt) 8.29
04.01. Orfeus (v.Leer) 1.33
04.02. Answer (v.Leer) 1.25
04.03. Orfeus (v.Leer) 1.22
04.04. Answer (v.Leer) 0.20
04.05. Pupilla (v.Leer) 1.10
04.06. Tommy (Barlage) 1.54
04.07. Pupilla (v.Leer) 0.45
05. Hocus Pocus (Akkerman(v.Leer) 8.30
06. Sylvia (v.Leer) 2.48
07. Hocus Pocus (Reprise) (Akkerman/v.Leer) 2.48

Performed at the show, but still unreleased

“Anonymus 2”
“House Of The King” (Instrumental) (filmed)
Lute solo (“Britannia” by John Dowland)

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Europa Galante – I Concerti Dell’ Addio (Antonio Vivaldi) (The Farewell Concertos) (2015)

Maquetación 1Vivaldi concerto discs appear on these pages every month it seems. Rarely do I give them a second glance, let alone a first listen. That doesn’t mean I don’t like the music; quite the contrary, in fact. When this appeared on the New Releases list, I grabbed it with all speed. For me, no one does Vivaldi like Fabio Biondi and his band.

In January 2002, whilst on holiday in the UK, I attended a concert of theirs in the Christopher Wren-designed Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford. There is no doubt that it could have been a tiddlywinks competition and still been wonderful because of the venue. However, despite the uncomfortable hard seats and the foggy weather bringing on an asthma attack for my wife sitting next to me, this was perhaps the most memorable classical concert I have attended. The Four Seasons were transformed from pleasant background music into high drama: it was as though the summer storm was inside the theatre, such was their playing.

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I bought their Opus 111 recording of the Four Seasons as soon as possible afterwards, and just about everything that they released on Virgin Classics subsequently, Vivaldi or otherwise. I soon found that almost nothing of their work beyond the Red Priest worked anywhere near as well, Boccherini being perhaps the only exception. The Corelli concertos were disappointing, and the Mozart violin concertos a failure. After the demise of Virgin Classics, there was a Telemann release on the Agogique label: again, underwhelming. Now on Glossa, they return to Vivaldi, and the wondrous verve is back.

These six concertos are from a collection held currently in Brno in the Czech Republic, purchased in June 1741 from the composer by Count Vinciguerra Collalto. The “Farewell” in the title refers to the fact that Vivaldi was within six weeks of death, alone and unappreciated in a Vienna preoccupied with the death of an emperor the previous year. As with essentially all his compositions, precise dates are not known, but Biondi in his intelligent booklet article suggests that they show clear signs of being written late in Vivaldi’s career.

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Biondi’s detractors criticise his overuse of abrupt tempo changes, and there is no doubt that some composers suffer from such treatment. However, Vivaldi’s music seems to me to revel in the drama that Biondi creates. One criticism that I have of so many period instrument Baroque performances is that everything is fast, even the slow movements. That is never the case with Europa Galante. I can happily report that these concertos show the group back at their very best. Everything that makes their Vivaldi dazzle and wow is here, but there is also a restraint in places, totally apposite, which I believe is a consequence of the style of these late works.

The recording is very clear, though a little close at times, so that we hear Biondi’s intake of breath. I have already noted the quality of the booklet article, and it is a well-filled disc. I can only celebrate that Biondi and Europa Galante have returned to their natural habitat, and if you have had reservations about them in the past, please give them another try here in works that you are unlikely to know well or at all. (by David Barker)

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Personnel:

Europa Galante (Orchestra) conducted by Fabio Biondi:

Alessandro Andriani (cello)
Nicola Barbieri (violone)
Isabella Bison (violin)
Fabio Biondi (violin)
Rossella Borsoni (violin)
Elin Gabrielsson (violin)
Luca Giardini (violin)
Simone Laghi (viola)
Stefano Marcocchi (viola)
Carla Marotta (violin)
Giangiacomo Pinardi (lute)
Perikli Pite (cello)
Paola Poncet (harpsichord)
Andrea Rognoni (violin)

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Tracklist:

Violin Concerto In B Minor, RV 390:
01. Andante Molto 1.02
02. Allegro Non Molto 5.16
03. Largetto 2.37
04. Allegro 3.41

Violin Concerto In E Minor, RV 273:
05. Allegro Non Molto 4.21
06. Largo 3.42
07. Allegro 3.43

Violin Concerto In B Flat Major, RV 371:
08. Allagro Ma Poco 5.00
09. Largo 4.35
10. Allegro 3.57

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Violin Concerto In C Major, RV 189:
11. Larghetto 0.31
12. Allegro Non Molto e Pianissimo 5.01
13. Largo 6.05
14. Allegro Molto 4.15

Violin Concerto In B Flat Major RV 367:
15. Allegro Ma Poco Poco 6.01
16. Andante Ma Poco 3.21
17. Allegro 3.54

Violin Concerto In F Major, RV 286 (Per la Solemnità di San Lorenzo):
18. Largo Molto e Spiccato 0.29
19. Allegro Moderato) 4.46
20. Largo 2.55
21. Allegro Non Molto 4.44

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Sam “The Man” Taylor – Rockin At The Hop (1958)

FrontCover1.jpgSamuel Leroy Taylor, Jr. (July 12, 1916 – October 5, 1990), known as Sam “The Man” Taylor, was an American jazz and blues tenor saxophonist, whose honking style set the standard for tenor sax solos in both R&B and jazz.

Taylor was born in Lexington, Tennessee. He attended Alabama State University, where he played with the Bama State Collegians. He later worked with Scatman Crothers, Cootie Williams, Lucky Millinder, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles, Buddy Johnson, Louis Jordan and Big Joe Turner. Taylor was one of the most requested session saxophone players in New York recording studios in the 1950s. He also replaced Count Basie as the house bandleader on Alan Freed’s radio series, Camel Rock ‘n Roll Dance Party, on CBS.

Taylor played the saxophone solo on Turner’s “Shake, Rattle and Roll”. He also played on “Harlem Nocturne”; on “Money Honey”, recorded by Clyde McPhatter and the Drifters in 1953; and on “Sh-Boom” by the Chords.

During the 1960s, he led a five-piece band, the Blues Chasers. In the 1970s, he frequently played and recorded in Japan.

Taylor died in 1990 in Crawford Long Hospital, Atlanta, Georgia. (by wikipedia)

SamTaylor01.jpgA certified honking sax legend, Sam “The Man” Taylor’s non-stop drive and power worked perfectly in swing, blues, and R&B sessions. He had a huge tone, perfect timing, and sense of drama, as well as relentless energy and spirit. Taylor began working with Scat Man Crothers and the Sunset Royal Orchestra in the late ’30s. He played with Cootie Williams and Lucky Millinder in the early ’40s, then worked six years with Cab Calloway. Taylor toured South America and the Caribbean during his tenure with Calloway. Then, Taylor became the saxophonist of choice for many R&B dates through the ’50s, recording with Ray Charles, Buddy Johnson, Louis Jordan, and Big Joe Turner, among others. He also did sessions with Ella Fitzgerald and Sy Oliver. During the ’60s, Taylor led his own bands and recorded in a quintet called the Blues Chasers. He currently has one session available on CD, recorded in the late ’50s with Charlie Shavers and Urbie Green. (by Ron Wynn)

And here´s one of his exciting R & B albums … and yes … this album is hot, hotter than hell …

Oh yes Baby … let me be your Road Runner …

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Personnel:
Leroy Kirkman (guitar)
Sam “The Man” Taylor” (saxophone)
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some more unknown session musicians

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Tracklist:
01. The Big Beat (Harris/Kirkland) 2.53
02. Let’s Ball (Taylor) 2.40
03. Fish Roll (Harris/Kirkland) 2.30
04. Oo Wee (Taylor) 2.31
05. Look Out (Taylor) 2.40
06. Sam’s Blues (Taylor) 2.40
07. The Boss Is Home (Harris/Kirkland)  2.46
08. Ride, Sammy, Ride (Harris/Kirkland) 2.36
09. Real Gone (Kirkland/Taylor) 2.56
10. Do-A-Lu (Sears) 2.52
11. Taylor Made (Phillips/Taylor) 2.35
12. Road Runner (Kirkland/Taylor) 2.29

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Samuel Leroy Taylor, Jr. (July 12, 1916 – October 5, 1990)

Oblivion Sun ‎– The High Places (2012)

FrontCover1Oblivion Sun hail from Maryland, USA and rose from the ashes of Happy The Man (HTM). Founding members Frank Wyatt (keyboards, sax) and Stanley Whitaker (guitars, vocals) started this band in 2006 together with Bill Plummer (keyboards), Dave DeMarco (bass guitar) and Chris Mack (drums). Their eponymous debut album has been released in 2007. Now five years later they finally recorded a successor.

On The High Places their second keyboardist Bill Plummer has left the band. As a result you might expect that the music on this album sounds differently, or in any case more guitar-orientated than their first CD. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t; it depends on how you listen to the guitar and keyboard parts throughout the album, but I guess that’s a minor aspect as long as the songs are worth listening. And they surely are! The style of HTM can still be heard in the band’s compositions, but that seems logical to me. In the opening piece Deckard these influences are evident. This instrumental composition could have been taken from any of their albums. The drum patterns, the piano parts and the guitar riffs clearly tend towards the music of HTM.

On March Of The Mushroom Men, the second instrumental, the band shows to be capable of playing another type of music as well. This time the music refers to albums recorded by bands like Focus and Camel, mainly due to Whitaker’s melodic guitar parts. Sometimes his playing reminds me of Jan Akkerman’s or Andy Latimer’s playing. Whitaker proves to be a fine singer as well in Everything. This short ballad already appeared on the eponymous album recorded by another Whitaker-Wyatt project namely Pedal Giant Animals (2006). This rather short composition sounds like a track of Primary Elements from his other band Six Elements that contains musical elements from early Genesis and Cat Stevens. Next track Dead Sea Squirrels is the third instrumental piece on which the guitars sound rather heavy and a bit in the vein of the riff in Crazy Horses (The Osmonds). Fortunately the keyboards assure that this song holds enough prog rock sounds to keep you focussed till the end.

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The album ends with the title track. Having a playing time of 22 minutes it’s not only the longest track, but also the best one. It’s an adaptation of the old HTM piece Merlin Of The High Places from the Death’s Crown (1999) album. On this epic piece, which is divided into six chapters, they sound like a mixture of HTM and Genesis at the time of A Trick Of The Tail (1975). It’s mainly Whitaker’s voice and Wyatt’s playing on the acoustic piano, sounding like Phil Collins and Tony Banks respectively, which are responsible for this comparison. This piece also contains the best keyboard playing of the album; the synthesizer solo on the second chapter Awakening is just awesome! It makes you forget ex-HTM keyboardist Kit Watkins. After listening to this epic track I felt in a good mood and I realized that these musicians are still able to write superb compositions.

Of course Oblivion Sun aren’t HTM and The High Places isn’t an album like Crafty Hands (1978), but that doesn’t mean that the music of Oblivion Sun is less enjoyable. On the contrary! I’m inclined to say that people who cherished the music of HTM are obliged to listen to the music of Oblivion Sun! I’m certain that you won’t regret it; neither did I. The High Places contains music of a very high standard similar to the music of HTM! (by Henri Strik)

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Personnel:
Bill B. Brasso (drums)
David Hughes (bass)
Stanley Whitaker (vocals, guitar)
Frank Wyatt (keyboards, saxophone)

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Tracklist:
01. Deckard (Wyatt) 6.34
02. March Of The Mushroom Men (Whitaker) 3.38
03. Everything (Whitaker) 2.39
04. Dead Sea Squirrels (Whitaker) 6.35

The High Places (22,22)
05. My Eyes (Wyatt) 6.10
06. Awakening (Wyatt) 2.00
07. Flowers (Wyatt) 2.31
08. The Rules (Wyatt) 5.41
09. The Cage (Wyatt) 3.53
10. Our Eyes (Wyatt) 2.07

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Mott the Hoople – Mad Shadows (1970)

LPFrontCover1Mad Shadows was the second album by Mott the Hoople. It was recorded in 1970 and released in the UK on Island Records in September 1970 (catalogue number ILPS 9119) and in the US by Atlantic Records (cat. no. SD 8272). As with their debut album, it was produced by Guy Stevens.

The original pressing reached No. 48 in the UK Albums Chart in October 1970. (by wikipedia)

When Mott the Hoople went into the recording studio to record this, their second album, it was known as Sticky Fingers. The front sleeve was already complete and featured an outsize Frankenstein’s monster driving a dragster through the night. But Mott had reckoned without their producer Guy Stevens getting friendly with the Rolling Stones, who were next door mixing their new album for impending release. Hearing the title of Mott’s new album, Mick’n’Keef promptly nicked it off them. And so it was that Mott’s second LP had to be retitled Mad Shadows, a title originally chosen for the projected Steve Winwood solo album which was soon to become Traffic’s come-back LP John Barleycorn Must Die. Confused? Well, you always would be when Guy Stevens was involved. And Mott could hardly complain, especially as Guy had got Mott together in the first place.

This second LP, Mad Shadows, was to be Mott’s greatest statement of all and a true cry from the heart for Ian Hunter. His wife had taken his children and returned to Shrewsbury, telling him that she would not accept his new longhair and new lifestyle, and the whole album resounds with Hunter’s wailing and fist-pounding as the ghosts of his still recent former life spill over into every song. The sledgehammer attitude of the first album is, if anything, overtaken by the brutality of musical execution of Mad Shadows. Indeed, what makes Mad Shadows so powerful is the brazen way in which the other much younger musicians interpret Hunter’s work. Simple to the point of repetition because of his ultra-limited piano playing, Hunter’s songs actually gain from this flash, virtually punk energy which the rest of the band bring, and his desperate cry from the heart of a dissolving 30-something marriage is gloriously mis-translated by rampant musical interpreters barely out of their teens.

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Throughout the LP, Overend Watts’ bass is far more reminiscent of Bill Wyman’s storming work on “Have You Seen Your Mother Baby”, than Rick Danko of the Band or any equivalently subtle American musician. Buffin’s drums are proto-flash to the point of bluster, and were thoroughly ripped off by Cheap Trick’s Bun E. Carlos to later drive a far more brash kind of music. Verden Allen’s overdriven Hammond organ cranks out the same old riff song after song, even resorting to that dreadful Bar Mitzvah lick from “Like a Rolling Stone”, but never does Guy Stevens scream ‘Enough!’ He just lets them get on and on with it, and often on songs of six and seven minutes in length. It is this suffocatingly, axe-wieldingly sentimental glue which fixes the entire album together, and the freedom was given to the band by Guy Stevens. Crediting himself with ‘spiritual percussion and psychic piano’, Guy Stevens is an awesome presence on Mad Shadows – not for what he contributes but for the space he allows them all to fill. Mott the Hoople may have made their name with a David Bowie song, but it was Stevens who created them, and he who created this LP. For Mad Shadows is their masterpiece.

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This huge emotional reverberator drop kicks into life with the frantic five minutes of “Thunderbuck Ram”, in which Mick Ralphs’ raucous guitar riffs ring out across a Cheddar Gorge of chasmic reverb. The proto-Paranoid riff propells them all into the chorus with such venom that Guy Stevens’ record-this-live-at-all-costs mode is immediately confronted and challenged head-on by huge glaring errors, as minors and majors clash and buzz. Yet the song thunders on relentlessly, until the tail-out becomes a huge one chord burn-out and the first of Ian Hunter’s Velvets-meets-Jerry Lee Lewis high velocity piano attacks kicks in like cooking amphetamines into a hot curry.

Verden Allen’s monolithic Hammond organ introduces the massive six minutes of “No Wheels to Ride”, as Ian Hunter grinds his teeth and pounds the piano in grief, the OverendWatts1memories of his children so recently taken from his life manifesting in a gargantuan emotional haemorrhage, as the band behind him try desperately to upstage him. “Can’t get enough, can’t get enough, can’t get enough of your love,” he howls over and over and over until even Mick Ralphs jots down the hookline (for later use). Then it’s off into another huge and simple three chord emotional Hammond organ and pounding piano blow-out, like some kind of Spectorized proto-punk gross out. It’s fair to remind ourselves at this moment that Guy Stevens once claimed: “There are only two Phil Spectors … and I’m one of them!” Indeed, In-fucking-deedio!

Following close behind on the coattails of “No Wheels to Ride”, “You are one of us” is virtually the same song with the same frantic emotion and the same ‘Hang on Sloopy” chord sequence, while Hunter screams about how he ‘wants to thank everyone’ and the band return to their single-minded intention of upstaging each other. Apparently, Hunter wants to THANK the band for letting him stay IN the band, while they accompany him as though they think he’s already left.
And when they finish side one with “Walking with a Mountain”, Mott is a Foden truck with the intentions of a Cadillac. Brutal, brash and totally without finesse, the bass and piano threaten to drive the whole tune into a lake at any moment, while Buffin’s totally overachieving ideas of drumming are matched only by his inability to achieve any of it. Startling upstart rock’n’roll this is indeed and their producer Guy Stevens would have made the worst politician ever. He can’t even be bothered to do a cover-up of thee most glaring errors. No wonder Mott’s labelmates Traffic would later disparagingly allude to Mott’s flash and bluster in their album title The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys.

But subtlety was the last thing Stevens was searching for here, which is good because he would have been more than disappointed. Instead, he opted for huge Viking emotions and Neanderthal gestures. Side two begins with the sentimental and monumentally real seven-minute last-waltz of “I Can Feel”. I say ‘real’ because it is both dopey and refreshing at the same time. The most mawkish female singers this side of Joe Cocker’s “With a Little Help From my Friends” coo and placate Hunter as he stands knee deep in pain and self-pity. Huge descending piano and organ chords swoop gratuitously as lumpen melody bass and ernie-ernie guitars squeeze out huge obvious solos from their wrung-necks. Only opera dares to be more brutal than Mott the Hoople when describing sad emotions.

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Then it’s off to the rodeo for “Threads of Iron” with its C&W rhythm and good time melody and cliched lyrics, until Mick Ralphs reminds us all that ‘You are what you are’ and the whole group bludgeon some poor old blues riff until it becomes subsumed into their standard two-chord thrash out, and we’re off again into pounding and huge Albert Hall-sized Jerry Lee Lewis piano and that fucking merciless punk rock bass that wants to be a lead guitar played on telegraph wires. Of course, the whole thing disintegrates into utter painful chaos. Crash, bash, wallop. Oh, and then some more wallop.

Then we’re down and down and downer still … to the very last song on the album. Legend has it that Guy Stevens switched the tape on for “When My Mind’s Gone” without letting Ian Hunter write lyrics, telling him that whatever he sung would be the last track on the LP, so he’d better make it good. Stevens told the press that he’d hypnotised Hunter and sat at the other end of the piano staring the song into Hunter’s eyes. If it’s the truth, then Ian Hunter was a human sponge for emotion and instant song-writing. If, as Hunter later claimed, he was touching cloth and made it all up at the drop of a hat, then he’s still a genius. Whatever, for “When My Mind’s Gone”, the standard three chords got wheeled out by Hunter, who proceeded to hammer his muse for all it was worth.

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“What once was true is now untrue … what once was clean is now unclean … what once was safe is now … unsafe.” Does it cut it, damn right it does. It is magnificent and tragic and funny and the best thing on the LP. Only Verden Allen dares play along with any confidence, while the rest of the band hesitate and splutter in the background for the whole six and a half minutes. And Mott prove themselves with their one great album; an album so flawed that it makes the Faces look tight and cover versions of Vanilla Fudge seem subtle.

Mad Shadows takes its name from a poem by Baudelaire, which Guy Stevens reproduced on the back of the gatefold sleeve. It includes such lines as: “Descend the way that leads to hell infernal, Plunge in a deep gulf where crime’s inevitable.” So we must presume from this evidence that, if Ian Hunter was really Pinocchio to Guy Stevens’ Gepetto at this time, Mad Shadows is a brilliantly unhinged example of an albeit briefly, but nevertheless perfectly balanced rock’n’roll symbiosis. (by Julian Cope)

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Personnel:
Verden Allen (organ, background vocals)
Dale “Buffin” Griffin (drums, background vocals)
Ian Hunter (vocals, piano, guitar)
Mick Ralphs (guitar, vocals on 01. + 06.,  background vocals)
Pete “Overend” Watts (bass, background vocals)
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Guy Stevens (piano, percussion)

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Tracklist:
01. Thunderbuck Ram (Ralphs) 4.50
02. No Wheels To Ride (Hunter) 5.50
03. You Are One Of Us (Hunter) 2.26
04. Walkin’ With A Mountain (Hunter) 3.49
05. I Can Feel (Hunter) 7.13
06. Threads Of Iron (Ralphs) 5.12
07. When My Mind’s Gone (Hunter) 6.31

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PETE OVEREND WATTS R.I.P. 1947-2017

Mott the Hoople founding member Pete Overend Watts has died aged 69. The bassist played on songs including Roll Away The Stone and the group’s best known hit All The Young Dudes, written and produced by David Bowie. He died on Sunday (January 22, 2017) of cancer, said Peter Purnell from record label Angel Air Records. He said Watts was a “highly intelligent and witty man who throughout his adult life was both an immensely likeable character and an enigma”. His death comes almost exactly a year after that of drummer Dale Griffin. (BBC)

More from Mott The Hoople:

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Tracy Chapman – Demos (1987)

FrontCover1.jpgTracy Chapman was discovered in 1987 by fellow Tufts University student Brian Koppelman. “I was helping organize a boycott protest against apartheid at school, and someone told me there was this great protest singer I should get to play at the rally,” says Koppelman, who now works in A&R at Elektra. He went to see Chapman perform at a coffeehouse called Cappuccino. “Tracy walked onstage, and it was like an epiphany,” he says. “Her presence, her voice, her songs, her sincerity — it all came across.”

Koppelman approached Chapman after the performance and said, “I don’t normally do this, but I think my father could help you a lot.” (Charles Koppelman, his father, was then co-owner of SBK Publishing, one of the largest independent song publishers in the world.) Chapman listened politely but didn’t say much and went on her way.

Undaunted, Koppelman continued attending her shows, sitting in the front row. Although Chapman finally agreed to talk, she declined to cut any demos for him. Then Koppelman found out that Chapman had already recorded some demos at the Tufts radio station, WMFO, for copyright purposes. (In exchange, the station got to broadcast her songs.) Koppelman went to the station, and while a friend distracted the DJ, he lifted one of the tapes. It had one song, “Talkin’ Bout a Revolution,” on it. He made a copy and took it to his father. “He immediately got the picture and flew up to see her,” Koppelman says.

Chapman’s demo tape with SBK led to a signing with Elektra. “I have to say that I never thought I would get a contract with a major record label,” she told an interviewer shortly after the album’s release. “All the time since I was a kid listening to records and the radio, I didn’t think there was any indication that record people would find the kind of music that I did marketable. Especially when I was singing songs like ‘Talkin’ Bout a Revolution’ during the Seventies. . . . I didn’t see a place for me there.” (takenn from the Tracy Chapman website)

And here are these demo recordings … Tracy Chapman pure … another chance to discover one of the finest ladiey in music !

It is labeled 1987 but a source who knows a bit about Tracy Chapman history believes
these might have been recorded in 1986 in Medford MA at WMFO studios
at Tufts University where Tracy was going to school.

The tape was probably circulated locally in conjunction with a few shows
she was doing in Boston at that time. It was before her debut was recorded.

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Tracy Chapman as a street musician in 1985

Personnel:
Tracy Chapman (vocals, guitar)

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Tracklist:
01. Baby Can I Hold You 3.00
02. Talkin’ ’bout A Revolution 2.59
03. This Time 3.50
04. Mountain O’ Things 4.47
05. For You 3.28

All songs written by Tracy Chapman

CD1

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