The Brian Auger Piano Trio – Full Circle – Live At Bogie’s (2018)

FrontCover1.jpgConsidering he was a self taught pianist, Brian Auger’s progress into the heart of the British modern jazz scene of the late 1950’s and early 60’s was particularly impressive. He gained invaluable experience the hard way, paying his dues at The Cottage Club, and the original Ronnie Scotts on Gerrard Street, working with renowned saxophonists Tommy Whittle, Dick Morrisey and Jimmy Skidmore – and sessions in smoky East End pubs with his friend, arguably Britain’s greatest jazz saxophonist Tubby Hayes.
The inclusion of several of his rare, early 60’s piano trio tracks on both volumes of ‘Back To The Beginning – The Brian Auger Anthology’ brought long overdue attention to Brian’s early jazz career, which many were simply unaware of prior to their release. The enthusiastic reaction to those tracks that stuck in Brian’s mind, and later, fate intervened, as he himself explains; “A couple of years later, Ken Greene, the Music Director of Bogie’s, called and told me that he was starting a project, to whit, a week at Bogie’s with a different jazz piano trio each night”.
The material Brian decided to play features tracks from a selection of his musical influences, heroes and friends including ‘Chelsea Bridge’ by one of his favourite composers, the great Billy Strayhorn, Freddie Hubbard’s ever green ‘Little Sunflower’, the much loved standard ‘There is No Greater Love’ which Brian used to play in his original early 60’s piano trio, and his own composition Victor’s Delight he wrote a tribute to the great English Jazz musician Victor Feldman who he first discovered via his tenure with The Cannonball Adderley Quintet.
Surprisingly, this is Brian’s very first jazz piano album of his illustrious and award winning career, and marks a return to the instrument and the music that first entranced and enthralled him as a young boy. His musical journey, which began in austere post war London, and on which he absorbed so many varied styles of music, and literally took him around the world, enrapturing audiences worldwide, has indeed come full circle. (Press release)

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This release may be a surprise to some who associate Auger, quite correctly, with the rock music and performing pyrotechnics seated at the Hammond organ. During an illustrious career he has worked with the likes of Rod Stewart, Jimi Hendrix, John McLaughlin and Led Zeppelin. An early claim to fame is that he played on ‘For Your Love’ by The Yardbirds. That was in 1965. A little later he formed Brian Auger and the Trinity. His duet with Julie Driscoll on Bob Dylan’s ‘This Wheel’s on Fire’ reached number 5 on the UK Singles chart in 1965. Their joint album billed as Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger and the Trinity reached number 12 in the UK Albums Chart in the same year.
In 1970 Auger moved into the area of jazz fusion forming Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express. Much more has happened in the intervening years, in fact, too much to detail here.

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The “Live At Bogies” EP

So, with a background favouring rock, R&B and soul music, why should he now release a jazz trio album? Well, it’s not so unexpected as one might think. Auger began to hear jazz from an early age by way of the American Armed Forces Network and an older brother’s record collection. By his teens he was playing piano in clubs and by 1962 had formed the Brian Auger Trio with Rick Laird on bass and Phil Kinorra on drums, both of whom were later to join him in the Trinity. In 1964 he won first place in the categories of “New Star” and “Jazz Piano” in a reader’s poll in the Melody Maker music paper. He was even house pianist for a time at the original Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in Gerrard Street. So his jazz credentials are clear to see.

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Now the title of this new album becomes clear in that Auger’s career has indeed gone full circle. Auger plays a Steinway Grand Piano throughout with his son, Karma, behind the drums and Dan Lutz on both double bass and electric bass guitar. The set list is pleasantly varied, opening with the old jazz war-horse ‘A Night In Tunisia’, with the familiar opening vamp picked out on bass guitar and the trio soon hit the swinging stride. Next is ‘Creepin’ written by Joe Sample. This is soulful, funky playing from all concerned and there is a particularly nice bass guitar feature too. ‘For Dancers Only’ is a fine lightly swinging piece written by Sy Oliver which originally saw the light of day in 1937 and is here given a contemporary face lift.
The set continues with trumpeter Freddie Hubbard’s ‘Little Sunflower’. Here I’m reminded of the music of Horace Silver, certainly no bad thing. ‘It Ain’t Necessarily So’ gets a swinging bluesy treatment. Billy Strayhorn’s magnificent composition, ‘Chelsea Bridge’, gets a suitably reverent treatment. Bass guitar ushers in Miles Davis’ ‘All Blues’ – all very soulful.
There are ten tracks on the album, all but one having impressive jazz pedigrees, the only original composition is the pianist’s tribute to fellow keyboard maestro Victor Feldman, ‘Victor’s Delight’.
For me however, they saved the best to last with a version of Don Grolnick’s ‘Pools’. This is set up by the drums of Dan Lutz before the familiar theme is played impeccably by all.
All-in-all this is a fine album which I cannot recommend highly enough. Go out and buy it immediately. (by Alan Musson)

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Personnel:
Brian Auger (piano)
Karma Auger (drums)
Dan Lutz (bass)

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Tracklist:
01. A Night In Tunisia (Gillespie) 5.13
02. Creepin´ (Silver) 5.55
03. For Dancers Only (Raye) 4.19
04. Little Sunflower (Hubbard) 7.15
05. It Ain’t Necessarily So (Gershwin)
06. Chelsea Bridge (Strayhorn) 5.19
07. All Blues (Davis)
08. There Is No Greater Love (Jones) 3.53
09. Victor’s Delight (Auger) 5.33
10. Pools (Grolnick) 6.15

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Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express (feat. Alex Ligertwood) – Live in Los Angeles (2015)

FrontCover1.jpg2015 live Oblivion Express album – featuring the dream team of Brian’s utterly unique, exuberant and uplifting playing alongside Alex Ligertwood’s stratospheric singing. Many years have passed since their first collaborations – both their respective talents remain utterly undiminished. The highlights of this new collection are almost too numerous to list, but the opener Freedom Jazz Dance still has that edgy, dark feel that has thrilled Brian Auger fans since the early 1970’s, when they took the Eddie Harris original instrumental version and injecting it with a vital and progressive new groove, adding incisive lyrics and Brian’s astounding organ solo that still stands today as a goose bump inducing ride, and the high standard many keyboard players still aim to achieve. In contrast, Happiness Is Just Round The Bend continues to be the joyous, life affirming funky, soul jazz outing that cannot but help lift ones spirit. Of course, The Main Ingredient had a bigger commercial success with their cover version, but to quote Dobie Gray ‘the originals are still the greatest!’

Absolutely amazing that Auger (74 when this was recorded in 2013) and Ligertwood (67 at the time) still have such undiminished chops at this stage of life. They nail the groove with every tune on this two CD set. Auger is still one of the few the reigning champions of the Hammond B-3 and I defy anyone to show me a vocalist that sounds as good as Ligertwood does now as he did in 1972. His range and phrasing is still phenomenal and while considered an acquired taste by some, there is no denying his energy and passion.

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I’ve seen them both several times over the last 40 years and this set sounds as good as any of the times I’ve seen either of them play. I got to see and speak at length with Ligertwood a few times when he was performing at a small supper club on Ventura Blvd in the L.A. area in the early 2000’s and he was gracious and charmingly candid as we discussed his career beginning with Troc (a French band with drummer André Ceccarelli from the early 70’s), Oblivion Express, David Sancious (True Stories, released in 1978 – sadly out of print on CD but hire Pinkerton’s to find a copy for you, it’s an amazing recording as well) and Santana. Auger was equally charming the one time I got to converse with him about his career as well. They’re both class acts and I can’t imagine a fan of either of these two underappreciated giants being disappointed with this purchase. Highly recommended. (by Dave Hoeltje)

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Personnel:
Brian Auger (keyboards)
Karma Auger (drums, background vocals)
Les King (bass)
Yarone Levy (guitar)
Alex Ligertwood (vocals, guitar, percussion)

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Tracklist:

CD 1:
01. Freedom Jazz Dance (Harris/Auger/Ligertwood) 7.38
02. Happiness Is Just Around The Bend (Auger) 6.53
03. Straight Ahead (Dean) 6.26
04. Bumpin’ On Sunset (Montgomery)  11.25
05. Inner City Blues (Gaye(Nyx) 6.08
06. Whenever You’re Ready (Dean) 7.47

CD 2:
01. Truth (Ligertwood) 7.53
02. Don’t Look Away, Look Around (Ligertwood/Dean/Mullen) 8.21
03. Second Wind (Auger) 5.07
04. I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know (Kooper) 7.30
05. Future Pilot (Auger) 7.26
06. Compared To What (McDaniels) 11.54
07. Brain Damage (Ligertwood/Mills) 8.02

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I love to lie and lie to love
A-Hangin’ on, we push and shove
Possession is the motivation
that is hangin’ up the God-damn nation
Looks like we always end up in a rut (everybody now!)
Tryin’ to make it real — compared to what? C’mon baby!

Slaughterhouse is killin’ hogs
Twisted children killin’ frogs
Poor dumb rednecks rollin’ logs
Tired old lady kissin’ dogs
I hate the human love of that stinking mutt (I can’t use it!)
Try to make it real — compared to what? C’mon baby now!

The President, he’s got his war
Folks don’t know just what it’s for
Nobody gives us rhyme or reason
Have one doubt, they call it treason
We’re chicken-feathers, all without one gut. God damn it!
Tryin’ to make it real — compared to what? (Sock it to me)

Church on Sunday, sleep and nod
Tryin’ to duck the wrath of God
Preacher’s fillin’ us with fright
They all tryin’ to teach us what they think is right
They really got to be some kind of nut (I can’t use it!)
Tryin’ to make it real — compared to what?

Where’s that bee and where’s that honey?
Where’s my God and where’s my money?
Unreal values, crass distortion
Unwed mothers need abortion
Kind of brings to mind ol’ young King Tut (He did it now)
Tried to make it real — compared to what?!

Tryin’ to make it real — compared to what?

 

Various Artists – A Classic Rock Salute To The Doors – Light My Fire (2014)

FrontCover1.jpgSouthern California-based Purple Pyramid Records and producer, instrumentalist Billy Sherwood raised the bar with this tribute to The Doors by convening a star-studded cast, featuring classic rockers performing with progressive rock luminaries. And the jazz contingent is onboard, evidenced by jazz guitar great Larry Coryell appearing with Focus keyboardist Thijs Van Leer on “Love Me Two Times.”

When I first broke the seal on this recording and perused the personnel listing I was delighted yet partly suspicious, fearing this would be an unbalanced project and/or a riffing contest framed on The Doors songbook. Such is not the case. Thus, Todd Rundgren performing alongside Captain Beeheart Magic Band guitarist Zoot Horn Rollo and Yes keyboardist Geoff Downes signify one of many rather unlikely, yet markedly productive and enticing state of affairs. It’s a varied set, where all the vocalists retain their signature chops and modus operandi. Although one unremitting factor is centered on their penchant for extracting the force-field of The Doors’ vocalist Jim Morrison’s commanding delivery.

The production’s stunning sound quality yields additional bonus points and should warm the hearts of audiophiles. Ultimately, each rendition of The Doors’ songbook is imbued with the musicians’ idiosyncratic niceties amid a plethora of shrewdly placed dynamics, layered keys and guitar shadings. They inject distinct characteristics but don’t sacrifice The Doors’ core song-forms. Hence, disparate musical personalities uncannily attain an accord on many fronts by imparting a sense of ownership and camaraderie, whether or not they were recording tracks in the same studio at the same time.

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It’s easy to discern that Sherwood and associates maximized the talents and style of each artist’s strengths, juxtaposed by strong soloing spots and the obligatory personal touches that many of us would anticipate. Van Leer helps give “Love Me Two Times ” a modern uplift by instilling some good old Hammond-B3 organ style boogie rock, abetted by Coryell’s Texas blues patterns and hard rock phrasings. Moreover, guitar hero Leslie West (Mountain) does what he does best via his emphatically thick vocals, coupled with sinuous slide guitar leads atop Rod Piazza’s harmonica notes, as they punch it out on this husky finger-snapping spin on “Roadhouse Blues.”

Tony Kaye (Yes) uses a synth emulated electric piano sound during “Riders On The Storm” and Keith Emerson (Emerson, Lake & Palmer) preludes “People Are Strange” with stride piano clusters and synths alongside time-honored session ace, guitarist Jeff “Skunk” Baxter’s deft acoustic guitar work. Yet rockabilly vocalist Robert Gordon croons through “Touch Me” with the resonance and machismo of Morrison, complemented by pumping rhythms and Nik Turner’s (Hawkwind) swirling sax notes and prog rock keyboard great Jordan Rudess’ spiraling notes. Whereas, Rundgren tenders a pop-ish and clement outlook on The Doors’ swaggering and bluesy torch piece “Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar).

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Highlights are thriving components, especially when infamous Yes alumni, guitarist Steve Howe and keyboardist Rick Wakeman delve into an extended call and response motif, spanning rock, jazz and classical nuances in the bridge section of “Light My Fire.” Here, Ian Gillan provides the antithesis of what we’d expect, considering his high-impact vocals with Deep Purple, as he counterbalances the soloists with a care-free and straightforward rendering of the familiar choruses. Indeed, this tribute endeavor covers all the bases and then some. It’s not to be overlooked. Kudos to the production team for bestowing their rather enlightening plan of attack as it’s quite apparent that a lot of thought prefaced the onset of this astonishing alignment of rock’s past and present rock stars. (by Glen Astarita)

First off readers let me say that I do not like cover bands, cover albums, tribute albums and compilation albums. I have always felt they should be considered a separate genre and that they usually do a disservice to the original composers and bands. After listening to “A Classic Rock Salute To The Doors” though I am rethinking those thoughts. It is hard to cover every song here, there are 16 of their greatest hits, so I will try to give an over view of what I think is important. I will leave the final decision up to you as to how good it really is after you listen to it.

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I was fortunate enough to see ‘The Doors’, 3 times, once at Cobo Hall in Detroit. They were a very unassuming band with almost no equipment. They used no special effects, fireworks, light shows or anything other than themselves, a few instruments and only a couple amps and speakers. The stage was pretty empty even by the standards of the 1960’s. What they lacked in equipment they made up by how tight and cohesive they were as a group when they were all in sync with each other and halfway sober. Jim Morrison usually took all eyes off the other 3 members but make no mistake that without them Jim Morrison would probably have become another undiscovered rock star.

Several of the guests on this album most likely knew ‘The Doors’ back in the day and are by all rights are ‘Superstars’ themselves. More than 42 of rock’s greatest classic ‘Superstars’ showed up to play on this album. That’s a lot of “tribute” to any person or group and shows the love and respect they all had for ‘The Doors’ and their music. By my count there are at least 7 tribute albums out there for ‘The Doors’ but from where I sit this is probably the only one that should matter.

The album starts off with one of my favorites, ‘LA Woman’. From their 6th, album released in 1971, ‘LA Woman’. Jami Jamison, Ted Turner and Patrick Moraz do an admirable job of covering this tune. The guitar work, Ted Turner I am assuming, gives an old favorite a different twist.

I could go into much more detail on more songs off this album but since space is limited I will just give some observations here. This is certainly an album to help introduce anyone who has never heard ‘The Doors’ before to their greatness. After listening to it I guarantee they will hunger for the original music just to hear who these 4 guys, who cut out a slice of rock history for themselves, really were.

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The guitar work on every song is clean, precise and shredded, something that Robby Kriegers “fingerstyle” guitar playing did not allow him to do. Not that Robby Krieger wasn’t great, he was just not as technical since “fingerstyle“ playing is better suited to Flamenco and Folk Music. It’s probably the most notable difference in all of the tunes here.

Conspicuous by its absence here though is ‘The Unknown Soldier’ which could have easily replaced the version of ‘People Are Strange’ with David Johansen and Billy Sherwood. This is the only song I really felt did not belong among the 16 cuts on this album.

The closing song is my all time favorite and appropriately is, ‘The End’, featuring Pat Travers and Jimmy Greenspoon. Listening to this version gave me goose bumps and almost brought tears to my eyes. The depth is so different but not nearly as dark as the original. I think you’ll find yourself listening to it over and over again! (Mike Langford)

One of the finest tribute albums ever !

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Personnel:

Jimi Jamison: vocals (1); Patrick Moraz: keyboards (1); Ted Turner: guitars (1); Scott Connor: drums (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 11, 13, 16); Billy Sherwood: bass (all tracks), guitar, piano, synths (8), drums, keyboards (12); Lou Gramm: vocals (2); Thijs Van Leer: keyboards (2); Larry Coryell: guitar (2); Leslie West: guitar, vocals (3); Brian Augur: Hammond B-3 organ (3); Rod Piazza: harmonica (3); Mark Stein: vocals, Hammond B-3 organ (4); Mick Box: guitar (4); Joe Lynn Turner: vocals (5); Tony Kaye: Hammond B-3 organ (5); Steve Cropper: guitar (5); Edgar Winter: vocals (6); Chris Spedding: guitar (6); Keith Emerson: acoustic 7 ft. grand piano and original Moog, modular synthesizer (7); Jeff “Skunk” Baxter: acoustic guitar (7); Joel Druckman: acoustic upright bass (7); David Johansen: vocals (8); Robert Gordon: vocals (9); Jordan Rudess: keyboards (9); Steve Morse: guitar (9); Nik Turner: saxophone (9); Adam Hamilton: drums (9); Graham Bonnet: vocals (10); Christopher North: Hammond organ & Leslie (10); Steve Hillage: guitar (10); Ken Hensley: vocals, Hammond B-3 organ (11); Roye Albrighton: guitar (11); Eric Martin: vocals (12); Elliot Easton: lead and Spanish guitars (12); Todd Rundgren: vocals (13); Geoff Downes: keyboards (13); Zoot Horn Rollo: guitars (13); Mark Farner: vocals, guitar (14); Chick Churchill: keyboards (14); Glenn Grossman: drums (14); Ian Gillian: vocal (15); Rick Wakeman: keyboards (15); Steve Howe: guitar (15); Ricky Joyce: drums (15); Pat Travers: vocals, guitar (16); Jimmy Greenspan: keyboards (16).

For details see booklet

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Tracklist:
01. Jimi Jamison, Ted Turner, Patrick Moraz: L.A. Woman 7.28
02. Lou Gramm, Thijs van Leer, Larry Coryell: Love Me Two Times 3.21
03. Leslie West, Brian Auger, Rod Piazza: Roadhouse Blues 4.06
04. Mark Stein, Mick Box: Love Her Madly 3.26
05. Joe Lynn Turner, Tony Kaye, Steve Cropper: Riders On The Storm 6.19
06. Edgar Winter, Chris Spedding: The Crystal Ship 2.44
07. Keith Emerson, Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter, Joel Druckman: Intro (People Are Strange) 3.58
08. David Johansen, Billy Sherwood: People Are Strange 2.21
09. Robert Gordon, Jordan Rudess, Steve Morse, Nik Turner: Touch Me 3.49
10. Graham Bonnet, Christopher North, Steve Hillage: The Soft Parade 8.04
11. Ken Hensley, Roye Albrighton: Hello, I Love You 2.39
12. Eric Martin, Elliot Easton: Spanish Caravan 2.54
13. Todd Rundgren, Geoff Downes, Wake: Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar) 3.26
14. Mark Farner, Chick Churchill: Break On Through (To the Other Side) 2.51
15. Ian Gillan, Rick Wakeman, Steve Howe: Light My Fire 7.00
16. Pat Travers, Jimmy Greenspoon: The End 11.23

All songs written by Jim Morrison – John Densmore – Ray Manzarek – Robby Krieger
except:
06.: written by Jim Morrison &
13.: written by Kurt Weil – Bertolt Brecht

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Brian Auger´s Oblivion Express – Same (1971)

FrontCover1.jpgAfter the last throes of Trinity, Brian decided to form a new band from scratch and allow for more instrumental space in his music. And what a departure this was from the Trinity days. Here the music took a more severe turn away from his previous sound while remaining accessible, but being much more energetic as well and combined jazz and rock even further. With Dean and McIntosh as a solid rhythm section, Brian had to look for a guitarist that wouldn’t be tempted to overdo his own antics on the keyboards and eventually he chose Jim Mullen. With the artwork depicting our favourite Ogre unleashing his Oblivion Express out of his chest and straight into your face and ears, it’s easy to see that Brian is the boss with the majority of the compositions to his name. It wouldn’t be the case every time as the following Better Land (but much poorer album) is mostly penned by Mullen.

Opening on the fantastic McLaughlin’s Dragon Song, Brian’s crew is out for your throat and eardrums tight from the starting blocks, with Brian unleashing all hell from his Hammond, while Mullen backs him up quite complementarily. On the 11-mins+ Total Eclipse, however, I find that they over-stretched a bit too much the track duration: the rhythm section finds the groove almost instantly and go on to maintain for the full duration, allowing lengthy solos from Mullen and Auger. At the start of the track, Auger changes from piano to organ to electric piano, but later seem unfortunately to get his finger stuck on his Hammond. The hard-driving jazz-rock The Light gives us a chance to hear Brian’s voice, which is apt, but he’s strongly helped out by Dean and Mullen in the chorus. The track strolls on 100 MPH on the Hammond Express before fading out electronically a bit too early only to come back and add further electronics death throes.

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On the flipside, Brian shows his vocal limits (and lyrical ideas all the same) with the up-tempoed On The Road, Mullen’s guitar sizzling in its middle section with our Ogre’s organ covering him from all sides. Another up-tempoed Sword has some Purple accents, especially coming from Lord’s many chord changes rather than Blackmore’s metallic riffs, Mullen’s play remaining less chunky (thankfully) than Ritchie’s. This leaves us with the anthemic eponymous track, where Brian shows that, vocals excepted, he feared nothing from crunchier guitar-lead groups. Again very much in the line of what Jon Lord would do, Brian changes chords constantly, allowing Mullen boulevards to expand and exploding his organ into saturation and leaving you the fan to lift the needle back onto that slice of wax.

Certainly one of the better hard Hammond-driven rock albums coming out of the early 70’s from England, BA’s OE is a 100 MPH album that gives no rest, bar in the longer groove of Total Eclipse. Indeed Brian’s train is one jazzier than Jon Lord’s Purple tram, but than again the tram would show more regularity in the long run and gather much more success. Definitely very close to a five star, but not quite partly because of their main weakness, the vocals. (by Seane Trane)

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Personnel:
Brian Auger (keyboards, vocals)
Barry Dean (bass, background vocals)
Robbie McIntosh (drums)
Jim Mullen (guitar, background vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. Dragon Song (McLaughlin) 4.30
02. Total Eclipse (Ball) 11.38
03. The Light (Auger) 4.24
04. On The Road (Auger/Mullen) 5.25
05. The Sword (Auger) 6.36
06. Oblivion Express (Auger) 7.45

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Brian Auger and The Trinity and Julie Driscoll – Streetnoise (1969)

FrontCover1Streetnoise is a 1969 album by Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger and the Trinity, originally released as a double LP.

It includes cover versions of The Doors’ “Light My Fire”, Nina Simone’s “Take Me To The Water”, Laura Nyro’s “Save the Country”, Miles Davis’ “All Blues”, Richie Havens’ “Indian Rope Man”, and “Let The Sunshine In” and “I Got Life” from the musical Hair. Driscoll covers this wide range of musical influences easily and with her highly emotive and distinctive vocals, and with Auger’s intense Hammond organ, the album is instrumentally interesting, too. (by wikipedia)

The final collaboration between singer Julie Driscoll (by that time dubbed as “The Face” by the British music weeklies) and Brian Auger’s Trinity was 1969’s Streetnoise — it was an association that had begun in 1966 with Steampacket, a band that also featured Rod Stewart and Long John Baldry. As a parting of the ways, however, it was Trinity’s finest moment. A double album featuring 16 tracks, more than half with vocals by Driscoll, the rest absolutely burning instrumentals by Trinity. (Auger on keyboards and vocals, Driscoll on acoustic guitar, Clive Thacker on drums, and Dave Ambrose on bass and guitars.) “Tropic of Capricorn,” an instrumental Auger original, kicks off in high gear.

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It’s a knotty prog rock number that contains elements of Memphis R&B. it sounds better than it reads; it twists and turns around a minor key figure that explodes into solid, funky grit with Thacker double timing the band. Driscoll enters next with “Czechoslovakia,” a wide-open modal tune that hints at the kinds of music she would explore in the very near future on her debut 1969 and later, with future husband Keith Tippett. Broken melody lines and drones are the framework for Driscoll to climb over and soar above, and she does without faltering before she slides into the traditional gospel tune, “Take Me to the Water.” And this is how this record moves, from roiling progressive rock instrumentals and art songs, done rock style, to inspired readings of the hits of the day such as “Light My Fire,” “Flesh Failures (Let the Sunshine In)” from Hair, and one of most stirring readings ever of Laura Nyro’s “Save the Country” that closes the album. “Indian Rope Man,” is a burning, organ-driven churner that fuses Stax/Volt R&B funkiness with psychedelic rock and jazz syncopation.

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Driscoll’s vocal is over the top; she’s deep into the body of the tune and wrings from it every ounce of emotion from it. Auger’s organ solo is a barnburner; reeling in the high register, he finds the turnarounds and offers his own counterpoint in the middle and lower one with fat chords. The rhythm section keeps the groove, funking it up one side and moving it out to the ledge until the coda. Another steaming rocker is “Ellis Island,” with it’s dueling Fender Rhodes and organ lines. it may be the finest instrumental on the album. “Looking in the Eye of the World” features Driscoll in rare form, singing in her voice’s lower register accompanied only by Auger’s piano on a blues moan worthy of Nina Simone. Streetnoise was a record that may have been informed by its era, but it certainly isn’t stuck there, especially in the 21st century. The music sounds as fresh and exciting as the day it was recorded. This is a must-have package for anyone interested in the development of Auger’s music that was to change immediately with the invention of the Oblivion Express, and also for those interested in Driscoll’s brave, innovative, and fascinating career as an improviser, who discovered entirely new ways of using the human voice. Streetnoise is brilliant. (by by Thom Jurek)

In other words: One of most important albums from the Sixties !

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Personnel:
David “Lobs” Ambrose (bass, guitar, vocals)
Brian “Auge” Auger (keyboards, vocals)
Julie “Jools” Driscoll (vocals, guitar)
Clive “Toli” Thacker (drums, percussion)

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Tracklist:

HOW GOOD WOULD IT BE TO FEEL FREE:
01. Tropic Of Capricorn (Auger) 5.30
02. Czechoslovakia (Driscoll) 6.45
03. Take Me To The Water (Simone) 4.00
04. A Word About Colour (Driscoll) 1.35

KISS HIM QUICK, HE HAS TO PART:
05. Light My Fire (Densmore/Krieger/Manzarek/Morrison) 4.30
06. Indian Rope Man (Havens/Price/Roth) 3.00
07. When I Was Young (Traditional/Driscoll) 7.00
08. The Flesh Failures (Let the Sunshine In) (Rado/Ragni/MacDermot) 3.05

LOOKING IN THE EYE OF THE WORLD:
09. Ellis Island (Auger) 4.10
10. In Search Of The Sun (Ambrose) 4.25
11. Finally Found You Out (Auger) 4.15
12. Looking In The Eye Of The World (Auger) 5.05

SAVE THE COUNTRY:
13. Vauxhall To Lambeth Bridge (Driscoll) 6.30
14. All Blues (Davis/Brown) 5.40
15. I’ve Got Life (Rado/Ragni/MacDermot) 4.30
16. Save The Country (Nyro) 3,56

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Brian Auger And The Trinity With Julie Driscoll – Open (1967)

LPFrontCover1.jpgFrom the outgrowth of Steampacket, a band that included not only Brian Auger and Julie Driscoll, but also a young Rod Stewart, came Auger and Driscoll’s collective effort that produced two albums. When Driscoll left in 1969 to pursue a solo career, Auger, drummer Clive Thacker, and bassist Dave Ambrose continued as Brian Auger & the Trinity. Open has been unfairly characterized as a kind of groove jazz rip, one that combines Wes Montgomery, Jimmy McGriff, and the rock sensibilities of the psychedelic era. Whatever. There are many tracks here, from deep grooved funky jazz to lilting ballads and greasy blues numbers and the skronky exotica number “Goodbye Jungle Telegraph.”

Auger may not have been as gifted an organist as Alan Price technically, but he could more than hold his own on the Hammond B-3 (as evidenced by the first two tracks here which are instrumentals, “In And Out” and “Isola Nate”). He was also able to pull more sounds out of the instrument than any of his peers. Auger wasn’t much of a vocalist, but he could dig deep and get the emotion out of a song — especially in a funky number like “Black Cat,” which featured a killer though uncredited studio horn section.

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Driscoll’s contributions are all on the second half of the album, beginning with the shuffling choogle of Lowell Fulsom’s “Tramp,” continuing through a moving reading of Pops Staples’ “Why (Am I Treated So Bad),” two Auger originals, and concluding in a reading of Donovan’s “Season of the Witch” that single-handedly established her reputation as a vocalist of great interpretative ability and emotional dexterity. Almost eight minutes in length, it is the perfect interplay for the quartet with its dark, smoky swirling energy and extant soul groove, and capos the album on a high note, making it a delightful precursor to the classic Streetnoise which was to follow. (by Thom Jurek)

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The debut LP from the team of Julie Driscoll (vocal) and Brian Auger & the Trinity’s (organ/vocals) — took less than six hours to complete. Under the care and watchful eye of legendary producer Giorgio Gomelsky, the ten performances were essentially cut live at Chappell Studios, London, in front of a small group of friends attending the sessions, who are audible between tracks. They took the novel approach of having Auger and company on one side, with Driscoll joining in for the second. An obvious influence on Auger’s keyboarding, if not choice for material, is the legendary Jimmy Smith (organ).

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Auger commences his section with an inspired reading of Wes Montgomery’s limber “In and Out.” His ostentatious original rave-up “Black Cat” kicks off with a full frontal brass-fuelled blast, recalling the Miracles’ Motown classic “Going to a Go-Go” before Auger launches into his (thankfully) one-off vocal. Granted, his singing isn’t as incendiary as his playing, but it does give him the rare opportunity to pull double duty. For a direct contrast, the lovely and languid “Lament for Miss Baker” is a pining, introspective acoustic piano outing. While conspicuous when compared to the majority of Open, it is an apt illustration of Auger’s remarkable sensitivity and stylistic diversity. The tribal vibe of “Goodbye Jungle Telegraph” flows freely as the driving percussive rhythm is similar — if not a foreshadowing — of Ginger Baker’s excursions with Fela Kuti. Especially the definite undercurrents of the early-’60s Afro-Cuban pop scene.

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Driscoll’s selections are observant of her distinct phrasing and full-bodied persona, ranging from the soulful lead on the remake of Lowell Fulson’s “Tramp” to the intricate jazz changes peppered throughout the unhurried “Why (Am I Treated So Bad).” She’s arguably at her peak, however, on the noir and trippy cover of Donovan’s “Season of the Witch.” More accurately, the pair are at their collective peak with an intensity that ebbs and flows over the simmering and meditative support. The four bonuses are of particular interest as they include a newly unearthed pulsating, up-tempo Felix Pappalardi composition titled “I’ve Gotta Go Now” circa 1967, as well as their incendiary overhaul of Bob Dylan’s “This Wheel’s on Fire” — which was a Top Five U.K. single — David Ackles’ lonesome “Road to Cairo” and the Franklin Sisters’ (as in Aretha, Carolyn and Erma) “Save Me.” The remastered audio bests all previous incarnations, while the dozen-panel liner insert contains lots of memorabilia eye candy surrounding an essay from Mojo Magazine’s Lois Wilson. (by Lindsay Planer)

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Personnel:
David Ambrose (bass)
Brian Auger (keboards, vocals)
Gary Boyle (guitar)
Julie Driscoll (vocals)
Clive Thacker (drums)
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unknown horn section

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Tracklist:
01. In And Out (Montgomery) 3.22
02. Isola Natale (Auger) 5.17
03. Black Cat (Auger) 3.25
04. Lament For Miss Baker (Auger) 2.41
05. Goodbye Jungle Telegraph (Auger) 6.20
06. Tramp (McCracklin/Fulsom) 4.16
07. Why (Am I Treated So Bad) (The Staple Singers) 3.38
08. A Kind Of Love In (Auger/Driscoll) 2.36
09. Break It Up (Auger/Sutton) 3.05
10. Season Of The Witch (Leitch) 8.00
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11. I’ve Gotta Go Now (Pappalardi) 4.12
12 Save Me (Ousley/Franklin) 4.03
13 This Wheel’s On Fire (Dylan/Danko) 5.20
14 Road To Cairo (Ackles) 3.30

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US front + back cover

Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express – Looking In The Eye Of The World (2006)

frontcover1Since forming this groundbreaking fusion ensemble in 1970, the legendary rock and jazz organist has thrived despite various incarnations of the group and numerous personnel changes. The early 2000s lineup was one of the best, in part because of the powerful, emotional contributions by Brian Auger’s children, lead vocalist Savannah Grace Auger and drummer/percussionist Karma D. Auger. Savannah’s soulful turns on a moody rendering of Herbie Hancock’s “Butterfly” and a magical, retro-soul/funk reading of Marvin Gaye’s “Troubleman” are early highlights here, as are Brian’s brisk and lively “Happy Overture” and the buoyant, horn drenched “Freddie’s Flight.” Savannah and Karma collaborate with bassist Chris Golden on the mystical ballad “Homeward,” another showcase for Savannah’s heartfelt voice. Most of the rest of this supercharged date is a mix of original barnburners (“Meet Mr. Eddie”) and the wistful, low-key title track, with a few cool retro exceptions: a soulful, bluesy rendering of Donovan’s thought-provoking ballad “Season of the Witch” and a unique, mid-tempo arrangement of “Light My Fire” that makes it a jazzy torch tune. Although Brian’s magical retro keys are front and center, every brilliant, transcendent moment here belongs to his daughters, who carry on her father’s tradition in grand style. (by Jonathan Widran)

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Personnel:
Brian Auger (keyboards)
Karma Auger (drums)
Savannah Grace Auger (vocals)
Katisse Buckingham (saxophone, flute)
Chris Golden  (bass)
Larry Williams (trumpet)

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Tracklist:
01. Happy Overture (B.Auger) 2.04
02. Butterfly (Auger/Hancock) 6.15
03. Troubleman (Gaye) 4.44
04. Freddie’s Flight (B.Auger) 6.01
05. Homeward (K.Auger/Golden) 6.52
06. Light My Fire (Krieger/Morrison) 5.31
07. Meet Mr. Eddie (B.Auger) 5.53
08. Looking In The Eye Of The World (B.Auger) 4.43
09. Ghostown (B.Auger) 6:38
10. The Night Town (B.Auger/K.Auger/Golden) 4.59
11. Season Of The Witch (Leitch) 6.59
12. Mugusic (B.Auger) 4.13
13. Soundcheck (B.Auger/K.Auger/Golden) 6.08
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