Melissa Etheridge – Same (1988)

FrontCover1Melissa Etheridge was born in Leavenworth, Kansas, the younger of two girls of Elizabeth (Williamson), a computer consultant, and John Etheridge, an American Constitution teacher at Leavenworth High School. She attended David Brewer School, which is still located at 17th and Osage Streets. She graduated in 1979 from Leavenworth High School (LHS) at 10th Avenue and Halderman. Etheridge was a member of the first “Power and Life” musical/dance group at LHS. Her childhood home was at 1902 Miami Street.

Etheridge’s interest in music began early; she picked up her first guitar at 8. She began to play in all-men country music groups throughout her teenage years, until she moved to Boston to attend Berklee College of Music.

While at Berklee, Etheridge played the club circuit around Boston. After three semesters, Etheridge decided to drop out of Berklee and head to Los Angeles to attempt a career in music.[3] Etheridge was discovered in a bar called Vermie’s in Pasadena, CA. She had made some friends on a women’s soccer team and those new friends came to see her play. One of the women was Karla Leopold, whose husband, Bill Leopold, was a manager in the music business. Karla convinced Bill to see her perform live. He was impressed, and has remained a pivotal part of Etheridge’s career ever since. This, in addition to her gigs in lesbian bars around Los Angeles, led to her discovery by Island Records chief Chris Blackwell. She received a publishing deal to write songs for movies including the 1986 movie Weeds.

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In 1985, prior to her signing, Etheridge sent her demo to Olivia Records, a lesbian record label, but was ultimately rejected. She saved the rejection letter, signed by “the women of Olivia”, which was later featured in Intimate Portrait: Melissa Etheridge, the Lifetime Television documentary of her life.

After an unreleased first effort that was rejected by Island Records as being too polished and glossy, she completed her stripped-down self-titled debut in just four days. Her eponymous debut album Melissa Etheridge, released in 1988, was an underground hit, and the single, “Bring Me Some Water”, a turntable hit, was nominated for a Grammy.

At the time of the album’s release, it was not generally known that Etheridge was a lesbian. While on the road promoting the album, she paused in Memphis, Tennessee, to be interviewed for the radio syndication, Pulsebeat—Voice of the Heartland, explaining the intensity of her music by saying: “People think I’m really sad—or really angry. But my songs are written about the conflicts I have…I have no anger toward anyone else.” She invited the radio syndication producer to attend her concert that night. He did and was surprised to find himself one of the few men in attendance. (by wikipedia)

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And here´this great debutalbum … :

This was one of the most stunning debut albums of the 1980s. Given the domination of synthesizer pop on the radio, Melissa Etheridge was a breath of fresh air when she burst out of the gate with this roots rock album sung with a sensitive bravado often compared to Janis Joplin. Although the passionate vocal deliveries are similar, the comparisons end there: Etheridge is a Midwesterner who was clearly influenced by classic rock artists such as Bruce Springsteen and John Cougar Mellencamp. The main theme explored is the emotional complexity of relationships, and throughout the album she sings about the hunger for affection, the pain of unrequited love, and the fire of obsessive romance. While the limited scope of the songwriting requires the listener to enter her world and exorcise the demons of relationships past, the album is full of infectious, up-tempo songs that propel the album forward. Etheridge’s true talent, however, is reconciling uncontrollable emotions such as jealousy with a strong and fiercely independent spirit (“Similar Features,” “Like the Way I Do”). Perhaps that’s why Etheridge became a role model for a generation of young women who found her to be an uncompromising artist unafraid to expose (and celebrate) her strengths and weaknesses. This is a fine introduction to Melissa Etheridge, and it is one of her most enjoyable albums. (by Vik Iyengar)

Oh yes … a string debut album by a strong woman ! Listen !

The two singles from this album;

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Personnel:
Wally Badarou (keyboards)
Melissa Etheridge (guitar, vocals)
Craig Krampf (drums, percussion)
Kevin McCormick (bass)
Johnny Lee Schell (guitar)
Scott Thurston (keyboards)
Waddy Wachtel (guitar)

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Tracklist:
01. Similar Features 4.42
02. Chrome Plated Heart 3.59
03. Like The Way I Do 5.23
04. Precious Pain 4.15
05. Don’t You Need 4.59
06. The Late September Dogs 6.33
07. Occasionally 2.36
08. Watching You 5.33
07. Bring Me Some Water 3.52
08. I Want You 4.07

All songs written by Melissa Etheridge

 

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Janis Joplin – I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama! (1969)

LPFrontCover1I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama! is a 1969 studio album by Janis Joplin. It was the first solo studio album Joplin recorded after leaving her former band, Big Brother and the Holding Company, and the only one released in her lifetime (Pearl was released 3 months after Joplin’s death).I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama! is a 1969 studio album by Janis Joplin. It was the first solo studio album Joplin recorded after leaving her former band, Big Brother and the Holding Company, and the only one released in her lifetime (Pearl was released 3 months after Joplin’s death).

Recording began on June 16, 1969 in New York City and ceased on June 26. For the album, Joplin recruited guitarist Sam Andrew of the Holding Company to take part in development, along with the Kozmic Blues band. Joplin installed a brass and horn section into the tracks, a feature her previous band would not allow. It was a total contrast to Joplin’s previous psychedelic rock as the compositions chosen were more soul Janis Joplinand blues driven. All but two tracks were cover versions that producer Gabriel Mekler and Joplin chose. The other two tracks, “One Good Man” and “Kozmic Blues”, were written by Joplin herself. Overall, the album was a more polished work, but with the lack prominent accompanists like the Holding Company, the album was not as successful as Cheap Thrills.

The LP was released on September 11, 1969 and reached gold record status within two months of its release.[5] It was issued by Columbia under #KCS 9913. The first pressing was titled only on the spine and disc labels. Later, the title of the album was added as a sticker designed by R. Crumb and stuck to the shrink wrap. The album was re-released by Columbia as WKPC 9913 and again as PC 9913 both on vinyl. The re-issued album did not have the same title sticker, instead the re-issues had the title printed on the cover and the Sony’s “Nice Price” sticker on the shrink wrap. Some of the newer PC 9913 have a bar code. A 180 Gram Limited Edition classic LP high-definition Virgin Heavy Vinyl pressing was also released in 2010. Technically, this album was reissued on vinyl a total of six times. Many collectors are mistaken in thinking the issue that included the R. Crumb sticker was the original issue; it was not. The hard-to-find original sealed issue is KCS 9913, which had no R. Crumb sticker, and the title was only on the spine of the cover. Columbia Records released as a single Kozmic Blues b/w Little Girl Blue 4-45023. The single peaked at #41 on the US Billboard charts.

I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama! also contains the hits “Try (Just A Little Bit Harder)”, “Kozmic Blues” and “To Love Somebody”. The CD reissue of the album includes the outtake cover of Bob Dylan’s “Dear Landlord”, with new lyrics and arrangements provided by Joplin, and versions of “Summertime” and “Piece of My Heart” recorded live at Woodstock as bonus tracks.

John Burks of Rolling Stone wrote in a November 1, 1969 interview praising Joplin’s vocal performance. However, he notes that her vocals are hindered by her backup band’s instrumental role in the album. Overall, Burks was satisfied with Joplin’s change in musical direction, but recommends “reaching the point where you are able to shut out the band”.

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Janis Joplin’s solo debut was a letdown at the time of release, suffering in comparison with Big Brother’s Cheap Thrills from the previous year, and shifting her style toward soul-rock in a way that disappointed some fans. Removed from that context, it sounds better today, though it’s still flawed. Fronting the short-lived Kozmic Blues Band, the arrangements are horn heavy and the material soulful and bluesy. The band sounds a little stiff and although Joplin’s singing is good, she would sound more electrifying on various live versions of some of the songs. The shortage of quality original compositions — indeed, there are only eight tracks total on the album — didn’t help either, and the cover selections were erratic, particularly the Bee Gees’ “To Love Somebody.” On the other hand, “Try” is one of her best soul outings, and the reading of Rodgers & Hart’s “Little Girl Blue” is inspired. (by Richie Unterberger)

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Personnel:
Sam Andrew (guitar, vocals)
Maury Baker (drums)
Brad Campbell (bass)
Lonnie Castille (drums)
Terry Clements (saxophone)
Jerry Edmonton (drums; uncredited)
Cornelius Flowers (saxophone)
Luis Gasca (trumpet)
Janis Joplin (vocals, guitar)
Richard Kermode (keyboards)
Goldy McJohn keyboards; uncredited)
Gabriel Mekler (keyboards)
Michael Monarch (guitar; uncredited)
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Mike Bloomfield – guitar on 02., 03. ´08.)

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Tracklist:
01. Try (Just a Little Bit Harder) (Ragovoy/Taylor) 3.57
02. Maybe (Barrett) 3.41
03. One Good Man (Joplin) 4.12
04. As Good As You’ve Been To This World (Gravenites) 5.27
05. To Love Somebody (B.Gibb/R.Gibb) 5.14
06. Kozmic Blues (Joplin/Mekler) 4.24
07. Little Girl Blue (Hart/Rodgers) 3.51
08. Work Me, Lord (Gravenites) 6.45
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09. Dear Landlord (Session outtake) (Dylan/Joplin) Joplin 2.32
10. Summertime (Live at Woodstock) (G.Gershwin/I.Gershwin) 5.04
11. Piece Of My Heart (Live at Woodstock) (Ragovoy/Berns) 6.31

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Traffic – On The Road (1973)

FrontCover1On The Road is a live album (2 LPs, reissued on 1 CD) by English rock band Traffic, released in 1973. Recorded live in Germany, it features the Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory lineup plus extra keyboardist (for live performances) Barry Beckett.

The initial U.S. release of On the Road (Island/Capitol) 1973 was as a single LP consisting of: “The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys” (edited to 15:10), “Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory,” “(Sometimes I Feel So) Uninspired” & “Light Up or Leave Me Alone.”

The album reached number 40 in the UK and number 29 in the USA. (by wikipedia)

One of the finest live albums….and who knew that Steve Winwood was such a fine guitarist? Was lucky enough to seem them in 1974 and this album is a fine reminder of just how good they were live. (by Cletus Dodgy-Mullet)

Strong effort live effort byTraffic. It’s pretty hard to sound bad when you have the Muscle Shoals rhythm section backing you up. The jams on Glad and Low Spark are burning! They could have eliminated one of the two songs from Shootout at the Fantasy Factory. But overall a good showing. (by Seanon)

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Get “On The Road” the drive is so good that you will want to stay “On The Road” there are not any pot holes, but there is definitely one big Traffic jam! Piano-guitar-Percussion-Bass-Sax-Flute-Drums-Keyboards. A flowing Traffic jam like none you have ever been in, get “On The Road” and experience live Traffic! (by Tripp Gazzeron)

Backed by Muscle Shoals sidemen, Winwood, Capaldi, and Wood rock like never before. Traffic songs that were already great were transformed into extended jazzy jams with interesting interplay between all the players. A funky groove unites all the separate tracks, making this a great driving album or a soundtrack for doing housework. Too bad the sidemen split from Traffic after this, since the album promised potential future development that might have significantly altered the direction of contemporary music. As it is, it’s a lesser-known gem in the rock archive that is absolutely necessary for any true music fan of 70’s progressive rock. (by Manley Peebleson)

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Thefirst time I saw Traffic was in 1973 at the Circus Krone, Munich … And it was such a thrilling concert … they played over 3 hours … one of the finest concerts I ever saw.

And here is one of the finest live albums ever … a timeless classic recording …  !

And a few weeks ago I saw Steve Winwood again … and he´still in a great shape !

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Personnel:
Reebop Kwaku Baah (percussion)
Barry Beckett (keyboards)
Jim Capaldi (drums, percussion, vocals)
Roger Hawkins (drums)
David Hood (bass)
Steve Winwood (vocals, guitar, piano)
Chris Wood (saxophone, flute)

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Tracklist:
01. Glad (Winwood) / Freedom Rider (Capaldi/Winwood) 21.00
02. Tragic Magic (Wood) 8.41
03. (Sometimes I Feel So) Un-Inspired (Capaldi/Winwood) 10.34
04. Shoot Out At The Fantasy Factory (Capaldi/Winwood) 7.04
05. Light Up Or Leave Me Alone (Capaldi) 10.49
06. Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys (Capaldi/Winwood) 12.46

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Andwella’s Dream – Love And Poetry (1969)

FrontCover1Andwella were a Northern Irish psychedelic rock band formed in 1968, originally as The Method and later renamed Andwellas Dream. The trio were fronted by Dave Lewis (Guitar/keyboard/vocals), with Nigel Smith (bass/vocals) and Gordon Barton (drums).[1]

Their first album, as Andwellas Dream, Love and Poetry, was recorded in London in 1968, and featured jazz musician Bob Downes on saxophone and flute, and Wilgar Campbell on drums on the track “Felix”. However, the album failed to sell, and Lewis then recorded a solo album, privately pressed, on the Ax label in 1970; which included new versions of some of the Andwella’s Dream songs. Then in 1970 David Lewis wrote the music for and produced poet David Baxter’s “Goodbye Dave” album, for which he was backed by Andwella.

With the addition of Dave McDougall on guitar and vocals, the band was renamed Andwella. This line-up issued World’s End, before Dave Struthers replaced Nigel Smith on bass and Jack McCullock joined as drummer. This lineup recorded the bands’ last album, People’s People, in 1971, after which the band broke up in 1972.

Lewis later went on to write “Happy to Be on an Island in the Sun”, recorded in the 1970s by Demis Roussos.

Love and Poetry is the first studio album by British psychedelic band Andwella’s Dream. It was released in 1969 on CBS Records.

Love and Poetry was composed entirely by band member Dave Lewis. It captures the true original sounds of Irish psychedelic rock. Relatively unknown, this album has achieved certain cult status after 40 years and is eagerly sought after by collectors of the genre.

It is featured in Record Collector’s Top 100 British Psychedelic Records of the 1960s. (by wikipedia)

Andwella´s Dream

Although Andwella’s Dream were a versatile psychedelic group, they were nonetheless generic no matter what angle they were taking. On Love & Poetry, you get sustained guitar that walks the line between freakbeat and heaviness, some swirling organ and husky vocals that betray the influence of Traffic and Procol Harum, pastoral acoustic folky tunes in the Donovan style, airy-fairy dabs of phased guitars and storybook lyrics, etc. Eclecticism is to be commended, and since late-’60s British psychedelia is an interesting genre in and of itself, generic music in the subgenre is more interesting than some other generic music in other styles. Still, generic music is generic music, and being able to do a bunch of different things in an unexceptional manner does not make you exceptional. The fairly tuneful folk-rocker “Midday Sun” is the best cut; it’s also interesting to hear a song about “Cocaine” in 1969, before the drug was too well known even in the counterculture. (by Richie Unterberger)

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Personnel:
Gordon Barton (drums)
Bob Downes (flute, percussion)
David Lewis (vocals, guitar, keyboards)
Nigel Smith (bass, vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. The Days Grew Longer For Love 3.56
02. Sunday 3.12
03. Lost A Number Found A King 6.04
04. Man Without A Name 2.42
05. Clockwork Man 2.44
06. Cocaine 5.00
07. Shades Of Grey 3.37
08. High On A Mountain 2.32
09. Andwella 3.16
10. Midday Sun 3.41
11. Take My Road 3.23
12. Felix 4.17
13. Goodbye 2.18

All songs composed by Dave Lewis

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Live at the Marquee Club, London … what a time !

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Various Artists – Havana Jam 1 (1979)

FrontCover1Havana Jam was a three-day music festival that took place at the Karl Marx Theater, in Havana, Cuba, on 2–4 March 1979. It was sponsored by Bruce Lundvall, the president of Columbia Records, Jerry Masucci, the president of Fania Records, and the Cuban Ministry of Culture.

The festival included, on the American side, Weather Report, the CBS Jazz All-Stars, the Trio of Doom, Fania All-Stars, Stephen Stills, Billy Swan, Bonnie Bramlett, Mike Finnigan, Kris Kristofferson, Rita Coolidge and Billy Joel. The Cuban acts included Irakere, Pacho Alonso, Zaida Arrate, Elena Burke, Orquesta de Santiago de Cuba, Conjunto Yaguarimú, Frank Emilio, Juan Pablo Torres, Los Papines, Tata Güines, Cuban Percussion Ensemble, Sara González, Pablo Milanés, Manguaré, and Orquesta Aragón.

In 1977, US President Jimmy Carter and Cuban President Fidel Castro started to loosen the political tension between the two countries and opened Interest Sections both in Havana and Washington. It was the first time in almost two decades after Castro’s rise to power that there was a real interest in establishing a normalization of diplomatic relations and the lifting of the United States embargo against Cuba.

With a real crisis in the music industry in the United States and the start of the salsa boom, in April 1978, CBS Records director, Bruce Lundvall, saw an open door to probe Cuban music and together with a group of the company’s music enthusiasts made a four-day trip to Havana, where they were overwhelmed by the sound of Cuban music, but especially by Afro-Cuban jazz band Irakere, one of Cuba’s most highly regarded and virtuoso musical acts.

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After months of talks, Lundvall managed to sign Irakere and in July the group traveled to New York to perform an unannounced guest set at the famed Newport Jazz Festival-New York. Rave reviews led to an invitation from the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland.

A few months later, Irakere won their first Grammy with the album Irakere, recorded at their Montreux Jazz Festival and Newport Jazz Festival performances, and Lundvall wanted to try his luck with other Cuban bands too. So, in the Fall of 1978, he joined forces with Fania Records director Jerry Masucci and convinced the Cuban cultural authorities to organize a three-day festival in Havana with the participation of Cuban and American musicians. The event would be recorded and televised for the enjoyment of both the Cuban and American people.

So they all agreed to set a date for the festival, spontaneously entitled Havana Jam. March 2 through 4, 1979, were the days earmarked for this historical step toward establishing a cultural exchange between the two enemy nations. In order to carry out the Herculean task of planning, Lundvall brought aboard Jock McLean and Phil Sandhaus, of Columbia’s artists development department. Both veterans of major concert promotion, they knew the festival needed professional production of the highest caliber, and enlisted Showco (a Dallas-based concert production company) and Studio Instrument Rentals for the task.

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At this point in time, Lundvall was diligently “feeling out” select members of the Columbia artist roster, all of whom were honored to accept the invitation to perform in Cuba. By early February the talent was confirmed. Representing the U.S. would be Billy Joel, Stephen Stills, Weather Report, Kris Kristofferson with Rita Coolidge, the Fania All-Stars and the CBS Jazz All-Stars. The latter group was conceptualized by Lundvall and scheduled to feature more than 20 top jazz artists on the label.

With the festival within grasp, other CBS Records personnel were summoned into the picture-rehearsals were set up for the CBS Jazz All-Stars, travel accommodations were made, equipment was rented, a wide cross-section of media was invited, and both recording and videotaping plans were confirmed.

Record producers Bert deCoteaux and Mike Berniker flew down with a crew from the CBS Recording Studios along with a support team and mobile 24-track Recording Studio from Record Plant NY.

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Engineered by David Hewitt with Phil Gitomer and Michael Guthrie. McLean, Sandhaus, Freston and various other people were already busy working in Havana’s Karl Marx Auditorium when the musicians landed at the José Martí airport on March 1.

Havana Jam was an invitation-only event, with mostly cultural personalities and members of the Communist Party and their children in attendance, though some students from different art and music schools were also invited.

The festival was hardly mentioned on the Cuban press, and thirty years later not many Cubans know it ever existed. (by wikipedia)

In 1979 many of Columbia’s top recording artists made a rare visit to Cuba where they performed (and recorded) at a series of concerts with some of the top Cuban groups. This double LP (unlike the strictly jazz Havana Jam 2) covers a wide range of music from Weather Report, the CBS Jazz All-Stars (an allstar group with Dexter Gordon, Stan Getz and Woody Shaw) and The Trio of Doom (John McLaughlin, Jaco Pastorius and Tony Williams) to Irakere, Stephen Stills, Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge. There is enough worthwhile jazz on the two-fer to make this set worth picking up (by Scott Yanow).

What a great jam recording !

Recorded live at the Karl-Marx Theatre, Havana, Cuba, March 2-4, 1979

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Personnel:

CBS Jazz All-Stars:
Willie Bobo (percussion)
Arthur Blythe (saxophone)
Stan Getz (saxophone)
Dexter Gordon (saxophone)
Jimmy Heath (saxophone)
Percy Heath (bass)
Bobby Hutcherson (marimba)
Hubert Laws (flute)
Woody Shaw (trumpet)
Cedar Walton (piano)
Tony Williams (drums)

Cuban Percussion Ensemble:
Frank Emilio Guillermo Barreto, Changuito, Tata Guines, Los Papines (percussion)

Irakere:
Jorge “El Nono” Alfonso (percussion)
Carlos Averhoff (saxophone)
Armando Cuervo (percussion)
Paquito D’Rivera (saxophone)
Carlos Emilio Morales (guitar)
Enrique Pla (drums)
Carlos del Puerto (bass)
Arturo Sandoval (trumpet)
Jesus “Chucho” Valdes (piano)
Oscar Valdez (percussion)
Jorge Varona (trumpet)

Stephen Stills Band:
Bonnie Bramlett (vocals)
Mike Finnigan (keyboards)
Joe Lala (percussion)
George “Chocolate” Perry (bass)
Stephen Stills (guitar, vocals)
Gerry Tolman (guitar)
Joe Vitale (drums)

Trio Of Doom:
John McLaughlin (guitar)
Jaco Pastorius (bass)
Tony Williams (drums)

Weather Report:
Peter Erskine (drums)
Jaco Pastorius (bass)
Wayne Shorter (saxophone)
Joe Zawinul (electric piano, synthesizer)

And now, I´m too lazy to search all other musicians … sorry …

 

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Tracklist:
01. Weather Report: Black Market (Zawinul) 8.59
02. Irakere: Concerto Para Flaut y Adagio de Mozart(Rivera/Mozart) 9.48
03. Stephen Stills: Cuba al Fin(Stills) 7.48
04. Sara González: Su Nombre Es Pueblo (Gonzalez) 3.54
05. CBS Jazz All-Stars:  Project “S” (Heath) 8.36
06. Orquesta Aragón: Que Barla Mionda (Valdés) 7.37
07. Kris Kristofferson: Living Legend (Kristofferson) 4.29
08. Rita Coolidge: (Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher and Higher (Smith/Miner/Jackson) 3:33
09. CBS Jazz All-Stars: Black Stockings (Laws) 6.24
10. Mike Finnigan + Bonnie Bramlett: How Wrong Can You Be (Gronenthal/Grace) 4.46
11. Fania All-Stars: Juan Pachanga (Blades/Ramirez/Masucci) 4.41
12. Trio Of Doom: Dark Prince (McLaughlin) 3.54
13. Cuban Percussion Ensemble: Scherezada/Sun Sun (Rimsky-Korsakov/Traditional) 7.41

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Procol Harum – New York WPLJ-FM (1971)

FrontCover1The raunchy riff of Memorial Drive opens this recording and the band quickly builds an impressive groove. This is a hard-driving and exemplary rock number. Robin Trower plays gutsy and muscular rhythm guitar and rips off multiple bluesy runs. These aggressive, snarling flourishes sound threatening and add an extra dynamic to Keith Reid’s dark lyric full of references to slavery, greed, and abuse.

Gary Brooker spits out the lyrics with nuance, bluesy strength, and considerable bluster. When you hear him sing, ‘Worked like a Mexican donkey / Used like a hole in the ground’, he delivers that line with such grit and authentic feeling that it immediately conjures the expected revulsion at the perversion that it depicts. In addition, during this spectacular performance, his powerful left hand is slamming out some inspired rock and roll piano that offers spectacular counterpoint to Trower’s guitar and BJ Wilson’s impeccable drumming.

Wilson’s drumming is a definite highlight of this performance. He plays a number of inventive fills and exhibits an innate sense of timing that sets him apart from many of his contemporaries. Another quality on full display here is his unerring finesse as he spars with both Trower and Brooker throughout the course of the song. Wilson is a criminally unheralded drummer of unusual distinction and this stellar opener offers ample evidence of his skill.

Wilson’s drums open the next song Still There’ll Be More with a series of energetic rolls before the band comes sweeping in with an amazing, fully formed ensemble sound. There are no holes in Harum’s aural tapestry; the musical dialogue between the players is seamless and complete. Trower’s thrashing rhythm guitar work is quite outstanding here.

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Furthermore, his soaring leads lend an empathic edge to one of the most threatening lyrics in pop music. In a series of images that grow progressively darker as the song goes on, Keith Reid conjures a vision of a cruel, amoral force tearing through life and leaving chaos in its wake. In response to an absolutely stunning sonic assault punctuated by Trower’s brilliant lead guitar, Brooker summons all of his power as he belts out the dire threat of the chorus, ‘I’ll blacken your Christmas / And piss on your door / You’ll cry out for mercy / But still there’ll be more’. When he sings lines like, ‘I’ll waylay your daughter / And kidnap your wife / Savage her sexless / And burn out her eyes’, Brooker’s voice glows with the white heat of unhinged brilliance.

As mentioned earlier, Trower’s lead guitar on this song is muscular, inventive, and brings a distinctive edge to the song. He shows total mastery over a wide assortment of stock blues guitar phrases, but the individual touches that he brings to these phrases are quite thrilling. His playing is often audaciously generous and always sympathetic to the excellent musicians surrounding him. The rhythm section of Wilson and bassist / organist Chris Copping is simply exemplary. This band sounds so complete here in a way that few bands ever do. This is a jaw-dropping performance of one of the nastiest songs ever.

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A couple of boisterous wags in the audience yell out requests for Repent Walpurgis and Homburg, but Brooker expertly cuts them off with some dismissive remarks. He introduces the next song as ‘a slow Scottish lament in D minor’ and the band launches into the plaintive dirge of Nothing That I Didn’t Know. This gorgeous, heart-rending song pays tribute to a young girl who died before her time in spare and vivid language. There is no poetic conceit in a line like ‘Twenty six, and now she’s dead / I wish that I could have died instead’ – it is a simple, unadorned expression of loss and Brooker’s sensitive, emotive vocals give additional weight to these words. In the hands of another band, this song could have easily descended to the level of commercial pap, but this is a song of great beauty and class. The interplay between Brooker, Trower, and Chris Copping is the dominant element here and weaves an evocative picture of regret. At the 3:27 mark, the band shifts gears and finishes the song with a coda of unusual beauty.

The distinctive opening riff of Simple Sister rips out at you, covered with vitriol, and Brooker’s enormous, bellowing voice matches Trower’s outstanding guitar. During the instrumental breaks between verses, listen carefully to the piano underneath Trower’s guitar. These two instruments play an amazing counterpoint with each other that gives this song its propulsive power. Trower’s solo here is outstanding and very emotional.

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Lyrically, it’s another dark tale of neglect and abuse. Superficially, it has the overtones of child abuse: ‘Simple sister / Got Whooping Cough / Have to burn her toys / Take her treats / Eat her sweets / Scare off all the boys’. By the third verse, the barely concealed malice rises to the surface: ‘Simple sister / Got Whooping Cough / Lock her in a cell / Throw the key / Into the sea / Hope she never gets well’. Whew. Reid’s words have the precision of a fine surgical instrument.

Brooker introduces the next song, Luskus Delph, as a bit of ‘underhanded smut’. His dreamy, languid piano opens this delicate piece. This is a song about sexual desire, but quite unlike any you have ever heard in popular music. I certainly cannot think of another rock song about copulation this breathless and fevered. This is a raunchy song filled with multiple, explicitly sexual images that are unique in the lexicon of pop music. Despite the overwrought quality of the words, Brooker makes them work with a simple vocal melody that sounds delirious and loving.

Gary Brooker

Chris Copping’s distinctive organ work makes its presence felt once again in this song. His elegant lines possess a ghostly beauty. BJ Wilson’s thoughtful, precise drumming is another highlight here and his stylistic innovations manufacture a compelling tension in the music. Seemingly able to adopt his playing to any style, Wilson exhibits the intricacy and taste that was a hallmark of his playing. He punctuates Brooker’s vocals brilliantly and lays down a beautiful groove during the instrumental breaks. His drum fills here are things of beauty. Brooker’s piano playing is melodic and full of subtle touches that lend the song a classical, ornate quality. I think it is safe to say that only Procol Harum would have attempted a song such as this and, like it or not, I think you would be hard pressed to deny how truly unique it is.

Brooker counts the band in and they launch into Shine on Brightly. Trower’s screaming notes contribute a great deal to the song’s hallucinatory qualities and the band, once again, sounds like a fully formed ensemble. There is a complexity and depth to the band’s collective sound capable of conveying the entire range of human experience. On this recording, we have heard songs of regret, anger, desire, hatred, and destruction. The songs depict these fundamental parts of the human experience in a musical setting so vast and panoramic that it approaches the profound. Furthermore, there is a genuine and highly innovative pop sensibility at work in many of these songs. Listen closely to Copping’s stunningly beautiful organ passage that begins at the 2:26 mark and the fantastic dynamics that Trower and Wilson build as the band reaches a crescendo before launching into the third and concluding verse. This is a stately performance of a true classic from the era.

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The band launches into the offbeat, jazzy groove introduction to Whaling Stories. Brooker’s piano and Wilson’s artful drumming are the stars in this opening section. The band slows it down and opens the first verse with Brooker’s voice, piano, and some spare, emotional guitar from Trower. This is a song of brooding, tormented brilliance with impenetrable lyrics suffused with apocalyptic imagery. The ominous, unnamable sense of dread that the song conjures gain momentum throughout the first two verses before dissipating on the final line of the second verse.

The extended instrumental section that follows brings us full circle with Brooker’s piano, Wilson’s drumming, and Trower’s guitar building another dramatic movement. Their work carries the band into a highly theatrical third verse that ends magnificently with a piercing scream from Brooker following its final line. Trower steps out for a blistering, torrid solo that Wilson matches with some truly powerhouse drumming. The song ends with a final verse that revisits many of the same dynamics utilized so well throughout the performance and is distinguished further by the flawless execution of the musicians involved.

A pensive, looping piano figure from Brooker opens the next song, Broken Barricades. This poetic exploration of a vibrant world that has tumbled into the abyss undoubtedly had a great deal of resonance in 1971 and remains equally relevant today. It works on many levels lyrically. Lyrics such as ‘It was all once bright jewels / And glittering sand / The oceans have ravaged / And strangled the land’ clearly hint at some sort of environmental disaster, but they also work as eloquent symbolism describing the turbulent conflicts of the late 60s and early 70s. It is a song examining a precipitous fall from grace, but it holds out no hope for redemption. It merely tallies the casualties and wonders how many more will fall.

BJWilson

The elegiac musical sweep that it achieves is sympathetic to these words. Notice how the instrumentation compliments the key words of the first two lines, ‘glittering’ and ‘bright’ with lovely and radiant synthesizer lines. Listen to Wilson’s drums follow the narrative of the song with remarkable finesse and artistry. The hypnotically seductive melody and Brooker’s sensitive performance amplify the power of the words. The song concludes with a remarkable duet between Wilson and Trower.

The Chicago-style blues of Juicy John Pink begins with Trower’s rabid, swaggering riff. Wilson establishes an authoritative groove that Trower and Brooker lock onto with unerring skill. Brooker’s blood-and-guts, throat-thrashing bellow rips through this brilliant blues pastiche filled with typical Keith Reid twists such as the lines, ‘I opened my eyes this morning / Thought I must be dead’. The apocalyptic strain present in so much of the band’s work is here in equal measure as well. When you hear Brooker snarl, ‘Well, the sky began to tremble / And the rain began to fall / Four angels standing around me / And it weren’t no social call’, you can believe that The End has come for Brooker and he’s none too happy about it.

Trower unleashes a blistering solo in this song that exploits every cliché in the blues player’s handbook but does so with such sure-footed intelligence and creativity that you can forgive the well-trodden paths he takes. Trower’s reputation has suffered at the hands of misguided criticism that sees him as little more than another Hendrix imitator, but the blues guitar that he offers here gives evidence of much more. It is proof that Trower is actually an attentive student of his instrument who has taken elements from a variety of artists and assimilated them into a coherent whole that has its own unique identity. His blues playing here is equal to that of any of his contemporaries.

The next song is the venerable classic A Salty Dog, probably my personal nominee for the most enduring musical achievement in the band’s history. In Walt Whitman’s poem Song of Myself, he writes, ‘I am large, I contain multitudes’. This large song contains multitudes and despite its curious, dated language, it nevertheless reaches through time and vividly evokes the bygone age of exploration when a new world sprang forth from the work of desperate, fearless men who lived with the specter of death every waking moment of their lives. Lines such as ‘We sailed for parts unknown to man, where ships come home to die / No lofty peak, nor fortress bold, could match our captain’s eye’ are shot through with imagination and Brooker delivers an impassioned reading of these words.

His vocal is dream-like and mysterious, like some garrulous, ancient ghost condemned to recite this tale of mariner woe. His voice soars and plummets through the lyric with rapt KeithReidattention to every word and proper appreciation of the drama inherent in its narrative. His piano provides much of the song’s haunted, forlorn melody, but the embellishments of Copping on organ are essential to the song. Wilson’s drumming here is extraordinarily sensitive to the cadence of the music. He weaves in and out of the band’s texture and adds blasts of percussion where appropriate. This entire performance is one of incomparable skill and is an impassioned take on a true classic.

The band plays a brief snippet of boogie blues before launching into the full on assault of Whisky Train, one of rockiest numbers in Procol Harum’s catalogue. BJ Wilson’s frantic cowbell gives this song much of its identity, but the fabulous guitar riff from Trower is the whole point. It’s catchy and immediate; it’s played with such fluid skill that it grabs you by the throat. Brooker’s chugging piano and Wilson’s frantic percussion touches give Trower an unimpeachable foundation for some blazing lead work sandwiched between the furious riffing. Brooker’s vocals are lusty and believable; he really puts a lot into this twist on the classic quit-drinking song.

The final song of the recording is a particularly Procol take on the touring life of a rock and roll band. Wilson’s busy, vaguely tribal drumming opens the song. I’m not particularly fond of this song [Power Failure], but it has the unique perspective that Procol brought to even the most clichéd of subjects for a rock band, such as the ‘life on the road’ number.

The tune revolves around a repetitive piano figure from Brooker that is played with driving, rhythmic skill. The musical arrangement features chords structured in such a way that they are well suited to action verbs littered throughout the lyrics. The words describe a landscape where disorder and chaos reigns supreme. Many of the images presented by the lyric bear only tangential relation to the problems of a touring rock and roll band, but the word play is compelling nevertheless and matched well by the song’s heavy rock groove.

Wilson takes an extended drum solo beginning at 2:41 in the curious time signature of 5 / 4, but he puts any doubts you have to rest immediately with his inspired, dramatic runs, his mastery of syncopation, and his innate skills as a timekeeper. Wilson’s performance makes this song a worthwhile experience for me. The band as a whole delivers yet another outstanding performance, but I find myself distant from the song’s repetitive structure and its remorseless catalogue of turmoil.

Copping

This is one of the final performances featuring Robin Trower as the guitarist for this band, and when the Brooker-Trower-Copping-Wilson lineup split up, an important era in this band’s history came to a premature end. There were great albums that could have laid ahead. But Procol Harum forged ahead as a much different animal and Trower went on to become an important solo artist. What we have as consolation are wonderful recordings such as this that have been preserved for posterity.

But what a consolation! This epic show displays every side of this prodigiously creative and idiosyncratic band. The level of musicianship on display here is breathtaking at times. Gary Brooker is a truly gifted singer with masterful gifts of interpretation. Robin Trower is an enormously talented guitarist distinguishable for his versatility at playing both rhythm and lead guitar. Chris Copping handles the bass and organ duties with seeming ease and BJ Wilson demonstrates why he is one of the greatest drummers in rock history on nearly every track. I find it wonderful that the band didn’t perform A Whiter Shade of Pale on this recording and instead touched on some of the more obscure selections from their discography. This is an overwhelming performance at times and sounds as fresh to me now as it did the first time I listened to it. (by procolharum.com)

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Personnel:
Gary Brooker (vocals, piano)
Chris Copping (bass, organ)
Robin Trower (guitar)
B.J. Wilson (drums, percussion)

Tracklist:
01. Memorial Drive 3.48
02. Still There’ll Be More 5.21
03. Nothing That I Didn’t Know 3.42
04. Simple Sister 3:44
05. Luskus Delph 3:43
06. Shine On Brightly 5:45
07. Whaling Stories 8:54
08. Broken Barricades 2:59
09. Juicy John Pink 4:09
10. A Salty Dog 4:50
11. Whisky Train 5:30
12. Power Failure 4.23

Music: Gary Brooker
Lyrics: Keith Reid

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Mr. Big – Lean Into It (1991)

FrontCover1Lean into It is the second studio album by the American rock supergroup Mr. Big, released in 1991. The band’s breakthrough release, Lean into It peaked at number 15 on the Billboard 200 charts, while the single “To Be with You” became the band’s first and only song to hit number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The follow-up single, “Just Take My Heart”, was another Top 40 hit, peaking at number 16 on the Billboard Hot 100.Lean into It is the second studio album by the American rock supergroup Mr. Big, released in 1991. The band’s breakthrough release, Lean into It peaked at number 15 on the Billboard 200 charts, while the single “To Be with You” became the band’s first and only song to hit number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The follow-up single, “Just Take My Heart”, was another Top 40 hit, peaking at number 16 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The cover image is a picture from the Montparnasse train accident that occurred on October 22, 1895 in Gare Montparnasse station in Paris, France.
The “CDFF” prefix of the Jeff Paris-penned “Lucky This Time”, is the song “Addicted to That Rush” from the band’s 1989 eponymous debut album, played at a higher playback speed; hence the “CDFF” for “Compact Disc Fast Forward”. (by wikipedia)

Paul Natkin Archive
On its sophomore album, Mr. Big has covered all the hard-rock bases in search of a hit. There are lively, gutsy tunes like ”Never Say Never,” a mellow, radio-friendly number in ”CDFF — Lucky This Time,” and the weepily romantic ”Just Take My Heart.” And since the quartet sports two virtuoso players — guitarist Paul Gilbert and bassist Billy Sheehan — there’s a lot of instrumental fanciness sprinkled throughout. On ”Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy,” the two even play their instruments with cordless drills in harmony (”Don’t try this at home, kids,” the lyric sheet warns). Lean Into It was released last March, but none of these tricks was able to keep it on the charts until the recent release of the single ”To Be With You.” This simple little ballad features acoustic guitar and hand-clap percussion, and is by far the best song on the album. So much for formulas and fretwork, eh, boys? (by ew.com; February 14, 1992)

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Personnel:
Paul Gilbert (guitar, background vocals)
Eric Martin (vocals, guitar)
Billy Sheehan (bass, background vocals)
Pat Torpey (drums, percussion, background vocals)

Tracklist:
01. Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy (The Electric Drill Song) (Sheehan/Gilbert/Pessis/Martin/Torpey) 3.56
02. Alive And Kickin’ (Gilbert/Martin/Pessis/Sheehan/Torpey 5.29
03. Green-Tinted Sixties Mind (Gilbert) 3.30
04. CDFF-Lucky This Time” (Paris) 4.14
05. Voodoo Kiss (Martin/Pessis) 4.05
06. Never Say Never (Martin/Vallance) 3.49
07. Just Take My Heart (Martin/Pessis) 4.25
08. My Kinda Woman (Gilbert/Martin/Sheehan) 4.12
09. A Little Too Loose (Gilbert) 5.21
10. Road To Ruin (Torpey/Paris/Gilbert/Sheehan) 3.59
11. To Be With You (Martin/Grahame) 3.28

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The singles from this album:

Singles