Howe-Wooten-Chambers – Extraction (2003)

FrontCover1.jpgExtraction is a collaborative studio album by guitarist Greg Howe, drummer Dennis Chambers and bassist Victor Wooten, released on October 7, 2003 by Tone Center Records.[2] According to Howe, the album went through a very difficult recording process which spanned two years, resulting in disagreements between the three musicians and Shrapnel founder Mike Varney, as well as several delays in the release date.

“A Delicacy” is a re-recording of an instrumental released on Now Hear This, a 1991 album by Howe II (an earlier band formed by Howe). “Proto Cosmos” is a jazz fusion composition by pianist Alan Pasqua that appeared on The New Tony Williams Lifetime’s 1975 album Believe It.

Todd S. Jenkins at All About Jazz gave Extraction a mixed review, describing it as “just about evenly divided between well-crafted, thoughtful compositions and dead-end chops demonstrations.” Praise was given to each musician for their technical craft and musical contributions, but criticism was directed at some of the songs for being “pretty much inconsequential filler, the kind of aimless noodling that almost put fusion in its grave a decade ago.” Furthermore, he remarked that Howe “tries to say too much at times” and Wooten “tends to fall into the 16th-note babble pattern.” Jenkins concluded by saying “Extraction does have its moments, but it’s not the most wisely considered entry in anyone’s catalog here.” (by wikipedia)

Dennis Chambers

Greg Howe’s first record, critically acclaimed by the guitar cognoscenti, was voted by readers of Guitar Player Magazine as one of the best two records of that year. Throughout the decade Greg has developed his style further and has amassed a legion of fans which have led him to gigs as a guitarist for Michael Jackson, Enrique Englesias, N’Sync and Justin Timberlake. Greg’s solo albums have always been laden with musical integrity and have inspired many. “Extraction” brings him together with bassist Victor Wooten who has carved out a brilliant career as a solo artist, music educator and as a member of the critically acclaimed Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. Dennis Chambers is known for his work with Steely Dan, Parliament, Funkadelic, John McLaughlin, and Santana. Each musician on this CD is arguably the best at what they do and they are three of the most three of the most respected players in the circle of musician’s musicians. (guitar9.com)

Victor Wooten

Although he’s primarily known as a heavy metal shredder, guitarist Greg Howe can pretty much adapt to any style thrown his way — including jazz fusion. And this is precisely the style that is featured throughout 2003’s Extraction, which saw Howe joined by such top-notch instrumentalists as Victor Wooten on bass and Dennis Chambers on drums (as well as David Cook on keys). Longtime fans of Howe who are hoping for at least a glimpse of his hard rock roots are out of luck here, as the tunes often recall the carefree fusion days of the 1970s, when such artists as Billy Cobham, Stanley Clarke, and Al di Meola were consistently giving a clinic with chops-heavy tunes.

Greg Howe

As far as modern-day fusion goes, Extraction is pretty darn consistent from front to back, as evidenced by such uptempo ditties as “Extraction” and “Crack It Way Open,” as well as more tranquil moments like “Tease” and “Ease Up.” Howe, Wooten, and Chambers have certainly succeeded in summoning up a heavy ’70s vibe throughout Extraction, and as a result, the album wouldn’t sound out of place played between School Days and Where Have I Known You Before. (by Greg Prato)

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Personnel:
Dennis Chambers (drums)
David Cook (keyboards)
Greg Howe (guitar, guitar synthesizer, keyboards)
Victor Wooten (bass)

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Tracklist:
01. Extraction (Howe) 6.14
02. Tease (Howe) 6.07
03. Crack It Way Open (Howe) 6.00
04. Contigo (Howe) 6.30
05. Proto Cosmos (Pasqua) 4.16
06. A Delicacy (Howe) 2.25
07. Lucky 7 (Howe) 6.02
08. Ease Up (Howe) 6.21
09. Bird’s Eye View (Howe) 6.19

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Jan Akkerman – Live At Montreux Jazz Festival (1978)

FrontCover1.jpgA perfect live album.

This Jan Akkerman record is a real gem! After firs spin I was convinced this by far his best live album. The material comes mainly from his self-titled record (1977), though Tommy (of the Eruption suite) of Focus is added and two new compositions in the spirit of the self-titled Jan Akkerman album. The recording of this live album is perfect, nothing more can be expected, not even today.

For newcomers. Jan Akkerman is ex-guitarist of Dutch prog band Focus. In his solo career he concentrated on jazz-rock/fusion and some historical lute-guitar playing. Though at first (Profile, Tabernakel) Jan akkerman would use his rockin’ electric guitars most of the time, in 1977 Jan decided to become the master of the clean jazz-guitar. This resulted in the 1977 self-titled album with clean guitars, a great band and the best of string arrangements. The compositions had a relaxing but slightly magical vibe and some up-tempo moments. Most of the compositions of this record were played on this live album.

Now, the problem Akkerman and band had to face was the fact that on the album these unbelievable string arrangements made a big contribution to the end result, but they weren’t able to get such an arrangement for their tour. The problem was successfully solved by adding an inspired percussionist (I love his contribution) and some synths that JanAkkerman06both helped to establish a more progressive climate, though the main genre would still be fusion. The two minuted atmospheric synth opening track by Jasper Van ‘t Hoff really gets me warm for the rest of the album!

A nice track from the Focus era, Tommy, is played with precision but the great vocals of Thijs van Leer are a loss. Still the band makes a great symphonic jazz track with that magical feel and the great guitar solo’s (this time clean) of Jan Akkerman.

Conclusion. This recording is perfect, the tracks are great, there’s a magical progressive climate on this concert, all instruments are played perfect, some problems concerning the arrangements were solved very intelligent and Jan Akkerman plays plain beautiful. There’s only one letdown: the album is short. Running for 35 minutes this doesn’t live up to the standards of these days. Still this album is highly recommended to basically every-one who can hear the difference between elevator music and great Fusion. A big four star.

After some more listens I have decided this is a masterpiece.  A warm recommendation! (by friso)

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Personnel:
Jan Akkerman (guitar)
Tom Barlage (keyboards, saxophone)
Willem Ennes (keyboards)
Jasper Van ‘t Hoff (keyboards)
Cees van der Laarse (bass)
Neppie Noya (percussion)

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Tracklist:
01. Transitory (v.Hoff) 2.08
02. Skydancer (Akkerman) 8.37
03. Pavane (Akkerman) 7.17
04. Crackers (Akkerman) 6.53
05. Tommy (Barlage) 3.38
06. Azimuth (Bijlsma) 6.11

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More from Jan Akkerman:

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Joe Zawinul – Zawinul (1971)

FrontCover1.jpgJosef Erich Zawinul (7 July 1932 – 11 September 2007)[1] was an Austrian jazz keyboardist and composer. First coming to prominence with saxophonist Cannonball Adderley, Zawinul went on to play with Miles Davis and to become one of the creators of jazz fusion, a musical genre that combined jazz with rock. He co-founded the groups Weather Report and The Zawinul Syndicate. He pioneered the use of electric piano and synthesizer, and was named “Best Electric Keyboardist” twenty-eight times by the readers of Down Beat magazine.


Zawinul grew up in Vienna, Austria. Accordion was his first instrument. When he was six or seven, he studied clarinet, violin, and piano at the Vienna Conservatory[3] (Konservatorium Wien). During the 1950s he was a staff pianist for Polydor. He worked as a jazz musician with Hans Koller, Friedrich Gulda, Karl Drewo, and Fatty George.[4] In 1959 he moved to the U.S. to attend Berklee College of Music, but a week later he received a job offer from Maynard Ferguson, so he left school and went on tour.[3] He then accompanied Dinah Washington.[5] He spent most of the 1960s with Cannonball Adderley. During this time he wrote “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” and “Walk Tall”, and “Country Preacher” and played electric piano. At the end of the decade he recorded with Miles Davis on In a Silent Way as Davis was establishing the genre of jazz fusion, combining jazz with rock. (by wikipedia)

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Conceptually, sonically, this is really the first Weather Report album in all but name, confirming that Joe Zawinul was the primary creative engine behind the group from the beginning. It is also the link between WR and Miles Davis’ keyboard-laden experiments on In a Silent Way; indeed, the tune “In a Silent Way” is redone in the more complex form in which Zawinul envisioned it, and Miles even contributes a brief, generous tribute to Zawinul on the liner. Two keyboardists — Zawinul and the formidable Herbie Hancock — form the underpinning of this stately, probing album, garnishing their work with the galactic sound effects of the Echoplex and ring modulator. Earl Turbinton provides the Wayne Shorter-like beams of light on the soprano sax, spelled by Wayne himself on “Double Image.” The third founder of WR, Miroslav Vitous, checks in on bass, and hard-bopping trumpeter Woody Shaw proves to be perfectly adept at the jazz-rock game. Two short-lived standards of the jazz-rock era, the aforementioned “Double Image” and “Doctor Honoris Causa,” are introduced here, yet it is mood pieces like “His Last Journey” and “Arrival in New York” that with the help of tape-speed manipulation, establish the lasting, murky, reflective ambience of this album. (by Richard S. Ginell)

In other words: A true milestone in modern music !

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Personnel:
Walter Booker (bass)
Joe Chambers (percussion)
George Davis (flute)
Herbie Hancock (piano)
Billy Hart (percussion)
David Lee (percussion)
Woody Shaw (trumpet)
Earl Turbinton (saxophone)
Miroslav Vitous (bass)
Joe Zawinul (piano)
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Jack DeJohnette (percussion, melodica on 03.)
Hubert Laws (flute on 04.)
Wayne Shorter (saxophone on 04.)

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Tracklist:
01. Doctor Honoris Causa 13.47
02. In A Silent Way 4.49
03. His Last Journey 4.36
04. Double Image 10.33
05. Arrival In New York 1.58

Music composed by Joe Zawinul

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Josef Erich Zawinul (7 July 1932 – 11 September 2007)

Jeff Beck – Plus Nobody In Japan (1999)

JeffBackFrontCover1.jpgThis is a great performance by one of the best players ever, if not the best depending on your taste. Jeff has the aid of Jennifer Batten on this show and they perform some of the songs from their sudio albums. If you are a fan of the albums Who Else! and You had it Coming then you will like this CD. This is a sound that is unique to Jeff and an example of a very good performance by him and the band. I saw this tour and it is still one of my favorite shows. Jeff takes 90 % of the solos and Jennifer provides 90% of the backing guitar, keyboard sounds and effects. There is a lot of sound coming from two guitars, a bass and a drum. In fact I kept looking for the keyboard player on the stage, until I realized there wasn’t one. It was Jennifer playing her guitar through the effects she had. You may or may not dig every song played because there is such a huge variety of sounds coming from Jeff’s guitar. But there is enough material on the two discs to justify the price of admission. A Day In the Life is so over the top that it remains one of my favorite concert experiences. But I like it all so I am very pleased with this two CD set. (by Chris)

It’s Jeff- It’s Live and it is very very good. I have a few live outings from Mr Beck and they are all good and all slightly different showing that he just doesn’t go through the motions JeffBeck02when he performs live. This is a very solid and the bass is heavy and driving. Good (but probably not audiophile) recording – if you are a Jeff beck fan you need this in your collection. And if you are a Jeff Beck fan you will know that out of the Great English Guitar Triumvirate (Beck, Page & Clapton) he is the best, the most innovative and the most under rated by the music world. (Ducman)

It sounds better and more acoustically even than a soundboard recorded bootleg I’ve got. The set list is less than an hour and a half, but this CD set is worth twice the price. As I recall, the concert got progressively louder and louder until it became quite painful, but the mastering of these CDs takes care of that. What an enjoyable show to hear again and again. Beck sounds amazing as you might guess, and Jennifer Batten sits prominantly in the mix. She’s a gifted player–but this is Jeff’s show. (David Porter)

A splendid album, all the way around. The audio clarity highlights the astonishing midi playing of Jennifer Batten and her interplay with beck amazes me. There is no keyboard person: the keyboard and synthesizer is Batten. Which gets me to a gripe: I have read reviews saying that Batten plays inaudible guitar. This is simply wrong and evidence of a lack of information that is preposterous in people writing reviews for publication.
Beck is, as always, a joy, delight, inspiration, and unique. (Philosophical Lizard)

I add the official tour programm from this tour through Japan.

Recorded live at the Club Kanagawa Kennin, Kaikan, Japan, May 25, 1999
 excellent soundboard quality

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Personnel:
Steve Alexander (drums)
Jennifer Batten (guitar)
Jeff Beck (guitar)
Randy Hope-Taylor (bass)

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Tracklist
01. What Mama Said (Beck/Batten/Hymas) 3.55
02. Psycho Sam (Hymas) 4.50
03. Brush With The Blues (Beck/Hymas) 6.42
04. Star Cycle (Hammer) 3.52
05. Savoy (Beck/Bozzio/Hymas) 4.17
06. Blast From The East (Hymas) 4.40
07. A Day In The Life (Lennon/McCartney) 5.09
08. Declan (Lunny) 4.02
09. THX 138 (Hymas) 6.23
10. The Pump (Phillips/Hymas) 5.47
11. Led Boots (XXX) 9.18
12. Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers (Wonders) 4.39
13. Angels (Hymas) 6.34
14. Even Odds (Hammer) 2.44
15. You Never Know (Hammer) 6.15
16. Blue Wind (Hammer) 7.23
17. Where Were You (Beck/Bozzio/Hymas) 3.19
18. Big Block (Beck/Bozzio/Hymas) 7.55

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Passport – Running In Real Time (1985)

FrontCover1.jpgIt’s quite impressive knowing Passport as they were very productive in generating albums and this “Running in Real Time” was their 14th studio album since their first inception in 1971. Many have considered this Germany-based band in comparison with its American counterpart Weather Report eventhough the music is not quite the same. This release is quite surprise to me as it features two kind of music: the original root of Passport with its jazz-rock fusion style with many saxophone work and those with vocals where the music tend to be R&B instead of jazz.

The opening track “At Large” demonstrates the original root of Passport in jazz-rock fusion style featuring sax solo combined nicely with guitar work laid over jazzy rhythm section. The next track “Auyrin” is a slow speed jazzy tunes with sax as main melody backed with solid basslines. There is also nice guitar solo right after sax. These two opening tracks resembles the original style of Passport music. “Talisman” is explorative in nature, demonstrating bamboo flute played by the band leader Klaus Doldinger cmbined nicely with vocals as well as excellent percussion by the band’s long serving drummer: Curt Cress. Starting with “Help Me” Passport made an effort to do differently, introducing vocal by Victoria Miles. The music has the kind of R&B style. But of course it’s not a typical R&B you can hear easily at radio station. It’s in fact quite enjoyable.

Overall, I consider this album is a good one especially for those who love jazz-rock fusion but don’t get surprises if you find some kind of R&B music as the vocal enters. Keep on proggin’ ..! (by Gatot)

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Personnel:
Curt Cress (drums, percussion)
Klaus Doldinger (saxophone, bamboo flute, keyboards)
Victoria Miles (vocals)
Kevin Mulligan (guitar)
Dieter Petereit (bass)
Hermann Weindorf (keyboards)
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Bill Lang (guitar 0n 01., 03. – 06.)
Claus Reichstaller (trumpet on 08.)
Franz Weyerer (trumpet on 08.)
Roykey Wydh (guitar on 07. + 08.)

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Tracklist:
01. At Large 4.48
02. Auryn 5.37
03. Talisman 7.32
04. Help Me 4.14
05. Joy Riding 6.40
06. Slap Shot 5.47
07. Mr. Mystery 4.16
08. Running In Real Time 3.43

Music composed by Klaus Doldinger

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More Passport:

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Lighthouse – Can You Feel It (1973)

FrontCover1.jpgOne of Canada’s most original pop groups ever, Lighthouse was formed in Toronto early in 1969 when drummer Skip Prokop (ex of The Paupers, Janis Joplin, Al Kooper and Carlos Santana) had a vision of incorporating horns and strings with modern rock, sort of a heavy-hitting ‘big band’ sound. After a chance meeting in New York with Paul Hoffert – who was actually trained in more classical stylings and already an established sessions-player. Ralph Cole joined soon after. Originally a native of Kalamazoo, Michigan, Cole knew Prokop when he was in Thyme, who had actually performed on many bills with The Paupers during the latter half of the decade. They added mul

The ‘full orchestra sound’ which would become the band’s trademark was at first rounded out by an additional 10 members including singer Pinky Dauvin. Their sound was as diverse as their listening audience, and contained cellos, violas, an array of horns and a full percussion section. The band was doing their first gig outdoors by May of that year and were signed to a deal with RCA shortly thereafter. They went to Toronto’s Eastern Sound Studios in the spring of ’69 and released their self-titled debut that same year. Produced by Prokop and Hoffert, it was met with critics’ praises, following the success of such tracks as “Mountain Man” and the cover of the Byrds’ “Eight Miles High”.

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“Can You Feel It”? came out in ’73, recorded in New York’s Record Plant. The upbeat pop-smash “Pretty Lady”, along with the title track and “Set The Stage” fetched the band more gold. But despite following their proven forumula, they were finding themselves in the middle of a changing musical environment. (canadianbands.com)

If you love groups like the early Chicaog or Blood, Sweat & Tears …than you should listen to Lighthouse, too.

Lighthouse was one of the best Jazz/Brass-Rock bands in the early Seventies !

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Personnel:
Dick Armin (cello)
Ralph Cole (guitar, vocals)
Dale Hillary (saxophone, vocals)
John Naslen (trumpet)
Don DiNovo (viola)
Skip Prokop (drums, percussion, guitar, vocals)
Larry Smith piano, vocals)
Rick Stepton (trombone)
Alan Wilmot (bass)

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Tracklist:
01. Set The Stage (Cole) 4.47
02. Same Train (Prokop) 5.58
03. Magic’s In The Dancing (Cole) 4.09
04. Pretty Lady (Prokop) 4.01
05. Disagreeable Man (Prokop) 5.28
06. Can You Feel It (Prokop) 4.39
07. Is Love The Answer (Cole) 3.15
08. Lonely Hours (Prokop) 6.36
09. No More Searching (Hillary) 4.05
10. Bright Side (Cole) 4.26

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Still alive and well (here their website from 2019):

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Ronald Harry “Skip” Prokop (December 13, 1943 – August 30, 2017)

Brian Auger´s Oblivion Express – Live At Winterland (1975)

FrontCover1.jpgBrian Auger has always demonstrated a rare devotion and dedication toward developing new musical forms. Equally comfortable with pop, R&B, and jazz, Auger was a founding member of the group, Steampacket, which helped launch the careers of singers Long John Baldry, Julie Driscoll, and Rod Stewart. Partnering with Julie Driscoll, Auger formed the Trinity, which recorded some of the most intriguing albums of the late 1960s, achieving international recognition for their cover of Dylan’s “This Wheel’s On Fire” in 1968. Straddling jazz, rhythm & blues, folk, gospel and pop in equal measure, the Trinity albums refused to be categorized. Auger’s intention was to overlay soulful pop rhythms with jazz harmonies and solos and his late-1960s recordings exemplify this unique approach. Following the demise of the Trinity, he formed Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express at the dawn of the 1970s, another genre-defying group that would gain him much wider recognition, eventually entering the jazz, pop and R&B charts simultaneously. The Oblivion Express created high energy, jazz-inspired music, with Auger’s high energy Hammond organ style, in the tradition of Jimmy Smith, dominating the proceedings.

This performance, recorded at San Francisco’s Winterland, when Auger’s Oblivion Express opened for Fleetwood Mac, captures the band during a particularly interesting time and with its quintessential lineup. The band’s album Reinforcements had just been released and their stage repertoire here includes two fresh new band originals from that album, as well as three of the most impressive jazz-inflected covers from their earlier releases.

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Following Auger’s high-spirited introduction of the band members, they launch headfirst into the leadoff track from the new album with “Brain Damage.” A collaboration written by vocalist/guitarist Alex Ligertwood (who would soon be recruited as lead vocalist for Santana) and lead guitarist Jack Mills, this is an explosive opening number that explores a diverse range of influences resulting in a progressive jazz/rock fusion sound. Auger’s high energy Hammond organ style, in the tradition of Jimmy Smith, is exemplary, and the musicians maintain a tight, cohesive blend on the extended improvisations held togethre by percussionists David Dowle (who would later go on to record four early albums with Whitesnake) and Lennox Laington.

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Venturing back to material from the Second Wind album, they next deliver a tight rather economical performance of Eddie Harris’ “Freedom Jazz Dance,” before again stretching out on Wes Montgomery’s classic, “Bumpin’ On Sunset.” Here, the group establishes a relaxed, but nonetheless infectious groove, featuring Auger’s superb, yet never over-bearing technical abilities and the entire band reaching inspired heights. Like the best jazz bands, the Oblivion Express plays with deep feeling and a cohesiveness that is a rarity among rock bands of the mid-1970s.

They next return to the Reinforcements material for a crack at Clive Chaman’s “Foolish Girl.” A recruit from the Jeff Beck Group, Chaman is an outstanding and creative bass player and this composition ventures into the funk territory that would be explored by groups like the Average White Band and countless others as the decade progressed.

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The set concludes with a foot-stomping, full blown funky jazz blowout on a cover of Les McCann’s “Compared To What.” The original version of the song is a powerful example of black pop and soul that wasn’t afraid to address political issues; in this case the Vietnam War, and it is no less powerful in the hands of the Oblivion Express. Although lyrically the song is clearly dated to the late-1960s, Auger’s bluesy Hammond organ licks have a timeless appeal and he and the group’s offbeat humor are apparent throughout.

All through this performance, Auger’s technique is jaw-dropping and the amount of energy he and the group generates is unparalleled and relentless. The broad-minded musical attitude and skill of these musicians is never less than impressive and they manage to bridge the gap between rock and jazz-fusion in a way that remains inviting, accessible, and musically compelling. (wolfgangs.com)

Recorded live at the Winterland (San Francisco, CA), Nov 29, 1975
Excellent soundboard recording

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Personnel:
Brian Auger (organ, vocals)
Clive Chaman (bass)
David Dowle (drums)
Lennox Laington (percussion)
Alex Ligertwood (vocals, guitar, percussion)
Jack Mills (guitar)

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Tracklist:
01. Introduction / Brain Damage (Ligertwood/Mills) 15.56
02. Freedom Jazz Dance  (Harris) 5.59
03. Bumpin’ On Sunset (Montgomery) 14.45
04. Foolish Girl (haman) 8.26
05. Compared To What (McDaniels) 12.28

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