ZZ Top – Fandango (1975)

FrontCover1.jpgFandango! is the fourth album by the American blues rock band ZZ Top, released in 1975. Half the tracks are selections from live shows, the rest are new songs from the studio. A remastered and expanded edition of this album was released on February 28, 2006.

Fandango, from which the album gets its name, is a type of dance similar to flamenco.

In the late 1980s a digitally remixed version of the recording was released on CD and the original 1975 mix version was discontinued. The remix version created controversy among fans because it significantly changed the sound of the instruments, especially drums. The remix version was used on all early CD copies and was the only version available for over 20 years. A remastered and expanded edition of the album was released on February 28, 2006, containing three bonus live tracks. The 2006 edition is the first CD version to use Terry Manning’s original 1975 mix. The album was re-released in 2009 on 180 gram vinyl using the original master tapes. It appears exactly the same except that it had a 180 gram vinyl LP sticker, by Back to Vinyl records.

The only single released from the album was “Tush”. The single peaked at #20 on the US Billboard Hot 100, making it the band’s first top 40 single.

Tracks 1-3 (side A of the original LP) were recorded live at The Warehouse in New Orleans on April 12 1974, “captured as it came down-hot, spontaneous and presented to you honestly, without the assistance of studio gimmicks”. Tracks 4-9 (side B) were new studio recordings. (by wikipedia)


Blessed with their first full-fledged hit album, ZZ Top followed it up with Fandango!, a record split between a side of live tracks and a side of new studio cuts. In a way, this might have made sense, since they were a kick-ass live band, and they do sound good here, but it’s hard not to see this as a bit of a wasted opportunity in retrospect. Why? Because the studio side is a worthy successor to the all-fine Tres Hombres, driven by “Tush” and “Heard It on the X,” two of their greatest songs that build on that album by consolidating their sound and amplifying their humor. If they had sustained this energy and quality throughout a full studio album, it would have been their greatest, but instead the mood is broken by the live cuts. Now, these are really good live cuts — and “Backdoor Medley” and “Jailhouse Rock” were fine interpretations, making familiar songs sound utterly comfortable in their signature sound — and Fandango! remains one of their better albums, but it’s hard not to think that it could have been even better. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)


Frank Beard (drums, percussion)
Billy Gibbons – guitar, vocals)
Dusty Hill (bass, keyboards, background vocals, vocals on 02., “Balinese”, and “Tush”, co-lead vocals on “Backdoor Medley” and “Heard It on the X”



Side one (live):
01. Thunderbird (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 4.10
02. Jailhouse Rock (Leiber/Stoller) 1.56
03. Backdoor Medley (9.25):
03.01. Backdoor Love Affair (Gibbons/Ham) 1.10
03.02. Mellow Down Easy (Dixon) 3.39
03.04. Backdoor Love Affair No. 2 (Gibbons) 2.05
03.04. Long Distance Boogie (Hooker) 2.32

Side two (in the studio):
04. Nasty Dogs And Funky Kings (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 2.45
05. Blue Jean Blues (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 4.45
06. Balinese (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 2.38
07. Mexican Blackbird (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 3.05
08. Heard It On The X (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 2.23
09. Tush (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 2.16



Blues Project – Matrix ,S.F. September 1966 (2014)

FrontCover1.jpg“They play through the hugest amplifiers we’ve ever seen, and their music makes your ears ring for two days after. Oh, yes–they swing like mad and drive their audiences insane.” (Hit Parader Magazine)

For people who were around in the ’60s, The Blues Project (TBP) were one of the most exciting and innovative groups around. They combined folk, blues, rock, jazz, r&b, and even a smidgen of classical music styles into one new kind (at the time) of music that was unheard of before. Other American bands (like Butterfield’s) were beginning to look past musical borders and combining different types of music, but TBP was one of the first–and one of the most exciting–to consistently blend their music into something new. I can still recall listening to the band’s albums when they were released and thinking that this is something new and different–and very exciting. This set from The Matrix in 1966, (which has been issued before) is a good example of how exciting the band was live. The sound is very decent across this reissue–fairly clean and very immediate sounding. The booklet has a portion of an interview from Hit Parader Magazine from 1966, which helps give more of a period feel to those times, but doesn’t give newcomers any real background on the band’s career. Fans of course know about the very fine 2 CD set “Anthology” that came out a few yeas back, which is the best way to hear TBP in the studio and live, plus the booklet is very informative.

ConcertPoster.jpgBut if you’re a fan of this band (and if you like ’60s music you should definitely know about TBP) and haven’t heard this great set, you need to pry a few bucks out of your pocket and get this set sooner rather than later. At one time TBP was heralded as possibly the most exciting and innovative band in the country. And listening to this set it’s easy to hear why they deserved that title. Remember, 1966 was a time before many bands had become known for incorporating different genres of music into one sound, and then stretching out into long jams, both on their albums and on stage. Included are blues tunes like “Hoochie Coochie Man”, folk songs (“Love Will Endure”), jazz things (“Flute Thing”), r’n’r (“You Can’t Catch Me”), and several tunes that incorporate different musical genres. The band sounded best on tunes like “Steve’s Song”, “I Can’t Keep From Crying Sometimes”, “Wake Me Shake Me”, “Cheryl’s Going Home” (all included here), and other similar songs that gave the band a chance to show their musical influences.

With Danny Kalb you had one of the most exciting electric guitarists of the period. Steve Katz too was a fine guitar player, and his harmonica playing was very good for the times. Al Kooper’s jazzy, bluesy organ sound was new and exciting, and set the sound for other bands to follow. But one of the identifying sounds of TBP was Andy Kulberg’s (who also played bass) flute work. His jazzy sound was extremely innovative for the era. He also had a slight classical sound that blended well with his jazzier playing style. It’s not well known except by fans, but the band was heavily influenced by the music of John Coltrane (among others in both jazz and blues), and it shows in Kulberg’s musical flights, and when he and Kalb would get going together in long winding solos, the music was very advanced sounding. Holding everything together on drums was Roy Blumenfield (who gets a short solo on “Flute Thing”) that is of the times.


The only flaw (to some fans) is the lack of a good vocalist. By this set their original vocalist, Tommy Flanders (who released a pretty decent album, “The Moonstone”), had left. In some ways he was the ingredient that helped elevate the band to the top of the heap of then emerging bands. Kalb, Katz, and Kooper handled the vocals after he left, and you’ll hear why they never really wanted the job. Kalb handled the blues tunes, Katz the folk stuff, and Kooper the more rock arranged songs. But taken altogether the band was one of the best to ever come out of that whole ’60s era.


So if you already own “Anthology”, or the individual albums (the two studio and two live sets–one of which isn’t actually live), you need to add this exciting set to your shelf. Be aware that some of these tunes are (quite possibly) taken from one of the band’s live albums, but that’s a minor complaint. When taken as a live set this is one of the more exciting and “new” sounding live albums from a band that knew how to blend genres and stretch then out into awesome workouts. And it’s a good example of just how exciting music was becoming in the late ’60s.

It’s good to have this set easily available once again. It’s a perfect example of how new and exciting music was becoming in the ’60s. It’s too bad TBP fell apart when they did. But the music they left behind is some of the period’s best. (by Stuart Jefferson)


The original bootleg frontcover

Roy Blumenfeld (drums)
Danny Kalb (guitar)
Steve Katz (guitar)
Al Kooper (organ, vocals)
Andy Kulberg (bass, flute)


01. Louisiana Blues (Morganfield) 4.58
02. Steve’s Song (Katz) 4.17
03. I Can’t Keep From Crying Sometimes (Kooper) 6.10
04. Caress Me Baby (Reed) 7.58
05. Flute Thing (Kooper) 8.57
06, Wake Me Shake Me (Kooper)  8.46
07. The Way My Baby Walks (Kulberg) 4.07
08. Love Will Endure (Sky/Lynch) 2.49
09. Jelly Jelly Blues (Eckstein/Hines) 6.37
10. Cheryl’s Going Home (Lind) 3.08
11. You Can’t Catch Me (Berry) 5.54
12. Shake That Thing 5:34
13. Catch The Wind (Leitch) 4.43
14. You Can’t Judge A Book By Looking At The Cover (Dixon) 6.43
15. Flute Thing (Kooper) 9.40
16. Hoochie Coochie Man (Morganfield) 5:11
17. If You Don’t Come Back (unknown) 4.49


The Blues Project – Live At Town Hall (1967)

FrontCover1.JPGThe Blues Project came together in NYC’s Greenwich Village in 1965. The original quintet was guitarists Danny Kalb and Steve Katz, bass and flautist Andy Kulberg, drummer Roy Blumenfeld and vocalist Tommy Flanders. Session musician Al Kooper joined after the band failed a COLUMBIA audition. Although his keyboard skills were limited, Kooper contributed respectable vocals and good original songs.

In 1966, they recorded “Live At Cafe Au Go Go” and “Projections” for the Verve Forecast label. By early ’67 when work began on “The Blues Project Live At Town Hall” (FT/FTS 3025), Kooper had left the group (Katz followed him later in the year).

There’s only one cut here actually recorded at Town Hall. The balance is other “live” a performances at Stony Brook College, plus studio tracks with added applause. Kooper’s “No Time Like the Right Time,” the group’s only charting single, is a studio take augmented with applause that’s reminiscent of the Animals. “Mean Old Southern” rolls as fast as an express train at full throttle. The extended “Flute Thing” opens with organ and flute playing in unison.

“I Can’t Keep From Crying” is a fairly standard rocker. “Love Will Endure” features Katz’s baritone vocal. It’s another simulated “live” recording. “Where There’s Smoke” is a decent Kooper leftover. The album closing “Wake Me, Shake Me” nicely illustrates how Blues Project sounded in-concert: tight, intense and improvisational. (by Annie Van Auken)


Released just after Al Kooper left the band, one imagines that neither he nor the other members of the group were pleased with this LP. According to Kooper, it was a pastiche of studio outtakes and a few live performances, and only one of the songs was actually recorded at New York City’s Town Hall. Anyway, this has a meandering, ten-minute “Flute Thing” and decent live versions of “Wake Me, Shake Me” and “I Can’t Keep from Crying” which, despite a somewhat rawer feel, are not necessary supplements to the fine studio takes. “Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire” and the great “No Time Like the Right Time” had already been released as singles; to hear them without canned applause, you only need to turn to Rhino’s first-rate Best of the Blues Project instead. That compilation also contains the other cut of note on this album, an outtake-sounding cover of Patrick Sky’s “Love Will Endure.” (by Richie Unterberger)


Roy Blumenfeld (drums)
Danny Kalb (guitar, vocals)
Steve Katz (guitar)
Al Kooper (organ, vocals)
Andy Kulberg (bass)


01. Introduction / Electric Flute Thing (Kooper) 10.29
02. I Can’t Keep From Crying Sometimes (Johnson/Kooper) 5.35
03. Mean Old Southern (unknown) 2.39
04. No Time Like The Right Time (Kooper) 2.51
05. Love Will Endure ( Lynch/Sky) 2.26
06. Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire (Kooper/Levine/Brass) 2.33
07. Whake Me Shake Me (Traditional) 8.37
08. Electric Flute Thing (Kooper) 10.29
09. Can’t Keep From Crying Sometimes (Johnson/Kooper) 5.35
10. Mean Old Southern (nknown) 2.39
11. No Time Like The Right Time (Kooper) 2.51
12. Love Will Endure (Lynch/Sky) 2.26
13. Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire (Kooper/Levine/Brass) 2.33
14. Whake Me Shake Me (Traditional) 8.37
15. Lost In The Shuffle (McDuffy/Brien) 2.56
16. Gentle Dreams (Katz/Kulberg) 2.59

Tracks 8-16 Mono versions