Savoy Brown – Blue Matter (1969)

FrontCover1Blue Matter is the third album by the band Savoy Brown. Teaming up once again with producer Mike Vernon, it finds them experimenting even more within the blues framework. Several tracks feature piano (played by Bob Hall, guitarist Kim Simmonds, and vocalist Chris Youlden, who even plays guitar here) as well as trombone.
This album featured a mix of live and studio recordings. The live tracks were recorded on December 6, 1968 at the now defunct City of Leicester College of Education because the band was scheduled to tour the USA and needed additional tracks to complete the album in time for the tour. The booking at the college represented their only chance to record the extra tracks in a live venue before embarking on the tour. An offer to perform the concert free of charge was accepted by Chris Green, the college Social Secretary, who had made the original booking, and the concert was duly recorded, a number of the live tracks being added to the album.
Because Chris Youlden was suffering from tonsillitis, Dave Peverett stood in as lead vocalist on the live tracks.
The album track “Vicksburg Blues” had first appeared as the B-side of Decca single F 12797 (released June 1968), fronted by “Walking by Myself”. (by wikipedia)
The third release by Kim Simmonds and company, but the first to feature the most memorable lineup of the group: Simmonds, “Lonesome” Dave Peverett, Tony “Tone” Stevens, Roger Earl, and charismatic singer Chris Youlden. This one serves up a nice mixture of blues covers and originals, with the first side devoted to studio cuts and the second a live club date recording. Certainly the standout track, indeed a signature song by the band, is the tour de force “Train to Nowhere,” with its patient, insistent buildup and pounding train-whistle climax. Additionally, David Anstey’s detailed, imaginative sleeve art further boosts this a notch above most other British blues efforts.(by Peter Kurtz)

Side One is marked “Studio”; Side Two is marked “Live” and was recorded at The City of Leicester College of Education, Friday 6th December 1968.

SavoyBrownLive1969
Savoy Brown, live in 1969
Personnel:
Roger Earl (drums, percussion)
Bob Hall (piano)
“Lonesome” Dave Peverett (guitar, vocals)
Kim Simmonds (guitar, harmonica, piano)
Tone Stevens (bass)
Chris Youlden (vocals, guitar, piano)
+
Rivers Jobe (bass on 01., 02. + 04.)
Mike Vernon (percussion on 01.)
+
trombones on 01:
Terry Flannery – Keith Martin – Alan Moore – Brian Perrin – Derek Wadsworth

BackCover

Tracklist:
01. Train To Nowhere (Simmonds/Youlden) 4.12
02. Tolling Bells (Simmonds/Youlden) 6.33
03. She’s Got A Ring In His Nose And A Ring On Her Hand (Youlden) 3.07
04. Vicksburg Blues (Hall/Youlden) 4.00
05. Don’t Turn Me From Your Door (Hooker) 5.4
06. Grits Ain’t Groceries (All Around Te World) (bonus track) (Turner) 2.46
07. May Be Wrong (Peverett) 7.56

08. Louisiana Blues (Morganfield) 9.05
09. It Hurts Me Too (London) 6.51
LabelB1
AlternateFrontCover
Alternate frontcover from Australia

Papa George Lightfoot – Natchez Trace (1969)

originalfrontcover1Thanks to a handful of terrific 1950s sides, the name of Papa Lightfoot was spoken in hushed and reverent tones by 1960s blues aficionados. Then, producer Steve LaVere tracked down the elusive harp master in Natchez, cutting an album for Vault in 1969 that announced to the world that Lightfoot was still wailing like a wildman on the mouth organ. Alas, his comeback was short-lived; he died in 1971 of respiratory failure and cardiac arrest.

Sessions for Peacock in 1949 (unissued), Sultan in 1950, and Aladdin in 1952 preceded an amazing 1954 date for Imperial in New Orleans that produced Lightfoot’s “Mean Old Train,” “Wine Women Whiskey” (comprising his lone single for the firm) and an astonishing “When the Saints Go Marching In.” Lightfoot’s habit of singing through his harp microphone further coarsened his already rough-hewn vocals, while his harp playing was simply shot through with endless invention. Singles for Savoy in 1955 and Excello the next year (the latter billed him as “Ole Sonny Boy”) closed out Lightfoot’s ’50s recording activities, setting the stage for his regrettably brief comeback in 1969. (by Bill Dahl)

One of the finest of southern juke joint bluesmen, Papa George Lightfoot’s music was totally untainted by the folk and blues revivals of the late 50s and mid-60s. Born Alexander Lightfoot in Natchez on March 2, 1924, the Deep South harmonica player and singer recorded for Peacock, Aladdin, Imperial and Savoy. His 1954 Imperial side papageorgelightfoot01Wine,Women,Whiskey was later issued in England in 1969 as a single on Liberty. Later that same year, Lightfoot was tracked down by Steve La Vere and recorded at the new Malaco studio in Jackson, Mississippi on 21st July 1969. The session was originally released as “Natchez Trace” by Vault Records of California and saw almost simultaneous release in the UK on Liberty Records. Among the sides is New Mean Old Train, an updated version of Mean Old Train, a song Lightfoot recorded earlier for both Imperial and Savoy. “Goin’ Back To The Natchez Trace” presents the earlier LP together with 5 previously unissued tracks and an extended spoken monologue. The recordings have been completely restored from original analogue master tapes, the sound quality vastly improved upon and the music totally remixed by Vie Keary at Chiswick Reach Studio, London, on valve equipment. If you previously knew this LP when it was available on either Vault, Liberty or Crosscut, you are in for a big (and pleasant) surprise. Papa George is accompanied by a fine little group including soul man Tommy Tate on drums, Carson Whitsett on piano, Jerry Puckett on guitar and Ron Johnson on bass. Following the album’s release he appeared at the famous Ann Arbor, Michigan Blues Festival in 1970 but, before he could capitalise on his turn of fortune, he died suddenly on 28th November, 1971 at Natchez Charity Hospital. “Goin’ Back To The Natchez Trace” stands as a testament to his music and to the kind of Deep South blues now long gone.

This is one of the blues harmonica Albums I´ve ever heard ! A real forgotten hero of the Blues !

papageorgelightfoot02

Personnel:
Ron Johnson (bass)
Papa George Lightfoot (vocals, harmonica
Jerry Puckett (guitar)
Tommy Tate (drums)
Carson Whitsett (piano)

originalbackcover1

Tracklist:
01  My Woman Is Tired Of Me Lyin’ (Lightfoot) 7.08
02. New Mean Old Train (Lightfoot) 3.30
03. Love Me Baby (Lightfoot) 5.15
04. Goin’ Down That Muddy Road (Lightfoot/LaVere) 4.17
05. Ah, Come On Honey (Lightfoot) 4.08
06. I Heard Somebody Cryin’ (Lightfoot) 4.21
07. Take It Witcha (Lightfoot) 4.11
08. Nighttime (Lightfoot) 6.05

label1

*
**

biography1

 

Colosseum – Valentyne Suite (1969)

frontcover1Valentyne Suite was the second album released by the band Colosseum. It was Vertigo Records’ first album release, and reached number 15 in the UK Albums Chart in 1969.[1]
Though the song “The Kettle” is officially listed as having been written by Dick Heckstall-Smith and Jon Hiseman, a credit which is confirmed by Hiseman’s liner notes for the album, bassist and producer Tony Reeves later claimed that it was written by guitarist and vocalist James Litherland. (by Wikipedia)
One of England’s prime jazz-rock — or, more accurately, rock-jazz — outfits, most of the members of Colossuem had apprenticed in blues bands, and it shows very strongly on some of the material here. Both “The Kettle” and “Butty’s Blues” are essentially tarted-up 12-bar blues, although they work well in a grander context; in the latter case much grander, as a brass ensemble enters for the last part, drowning out everything but the guitar, an indication that this recording is in dire need of remastering. “Elegy” is a fast-paced, minor-key blues that stretches guitarist James Litherland’s vocal abilities. Things do get far more interesting with “The Machine Demands a Sacrifice,” which offers solo opportunities to organist Dave Greenslade and sax player Dick Heckstall-Smith before re-emerging in what can only be called a proto-industrial style, all heavily treated clattering percussion.
colosseum1969
The album’s real joy comes with “The Valentyne Suite,” which takes the band out of their bluesy comfort zone into something closer to prog rock. Bandleader Jon Hiseman is a stalwart throughout, his busy drumming and fills owing far more to jazz than the studied backbeat of rock. Greenslade proves to be a largely unsung hero, his only real solo in the suite something to offer a challenge to vintage Keith Emerson, but with swing. As to criticism, bassist Tony Reeves has very little flow to his playing, which severely hampers a rhythm section that needs to be loose-limbed, and Litherland’s guitar playing is formulaic, which can be fine for rock, but once outside the most straightforward parameters, he seems lost. In retrospect this might not quite the classic it seemed at the time, but it remains listenable, and for much of the time, extremely enjoyable. (by Chris Nickson )
Without any doubts: This is one of the finest jazz-rock albums ever recorded and this is one of my most favourite Albums.
colosseum1969_02
Live at the Bath Festival, June 28th, 1969
Personnel:
Dave Greenslade (keyboards, vibraphone, background vocal on 03.)
Dick Heckstall-Smith (saxophones, flute)
Jon Hiseman (drums, percussion)
James Litherland (guitar, vocals)
Tony Reeves (bass)

+
Neil Ardley (conductor)
booklesmallt

Tracklist:
01. The Kettle (Heckstall-Smith/Hiseman) 6.46
02. Elegy (Litherland) 3.14
03. Butty’s Blues (Litherland) 3.28
04. The Machine Demands A Sacrifice (Litherland, Heckstall-Smith/Brown, Hiseman) 3:55
05. Valentyne Suite Theme One: January’s Search (Greenslade) 6.20
06. Valentyne Suite Theme Two: February’s Valentyne (Greenslade) 6.57
07. Valentyne Suite Theme Three: The Grass is Always Greener (Heckstall-Smith/Hiseman) 3.37
frontbackcover

Beach Boys – Live In London (1969)

originalfrontcover1Live in London is a live album by American rock band the Beach Boys released by EMI in the UK in May 1970. When released in the US on November 15, 1976, the album was renamed Beach Boys ’69 via Capitol Records.

1968 was a very difficult year for The Beach Boys at home, where their reputation had soured considerably, yet their European success was still strong as evidenced by these confident performances recorded while the group were making their 20/20 album. After the surprise success of the Endless Summer and Spirit of America hits packages in 1974 and 1975, the Beach Boys enjoyed a resurgence of popularity at home, especially on the concert circuit. It was during this time that Capitol decided to strike while the iron was hot and issue a renamed edition of the album for the first time in the US. The reissue had art by rock artist Jim Evans, and a new title, Beach Boys ’69. Besides the fact that the live performance was actually recorded in December 1968, the LP’s appearance added confusion to the marketplace as the group had recently issued a new, live double album—The Beach Boys in Concert—on their own Brother Records label, as part of a distribution deal with their new label, Reprise. Despite this, the record became a small chart success in the US, following the Top 10 placing of 15 Big Ones, reaching #75 in the Fall of 1976 during a US chart stay of 10 weeks. The UK edition failed to chart.

It is believed that The Beach Boys owed Capitol one more album (this may have been it, instead of the Fading Rock Group Revival/Reverberation project), and so, this release ended their relationship with the record label, and with EMI in the UK. (by wikipedia)

beachboys1969_01
Though their studio output is the stuff of legend, the Beach Boys’ live performances aren’t as familiar to the casual fan. Live in London (also released as Beach Boys ’69) represented the second live set from the band, after 1964’s teen-scream Beach Boys Concert. By the turn of the 1960s into the ’70s, the group was finally rising to the task of translating its lush, layered sound into a live arena. Classics like “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” and “Darlin'” carry all of their original beauty, bolstered by the energy of the live setting and by swinging horn accompaniment. More unexpected cuts, such as the celebratory “Wake the World” and a bluesy take of “Bluebirds Over the Mountains,” fit in perfectly with staples like the tempo-shifting, musically precise version of “Good Vibrations,” just one crowd-pleaser among many on Live in London. (by Rovi Staff)

alternatefrontcovers
Alternate frontcovers

Personnel:
Al Jardine (vocals, guitar)
Bruce Johnston (vocals, keyboards, bass)
Mike Love (vocals, tambourine)
Carl Wilson (vocals, guitar)
Brian Wilson (vocals, bass, keyboards)
Dennis Wilson (vocals, drums)

originalbackcover

Tracklist:
01. Darlin’ (B. Wilson/Love) 2.14
02. Wouldn’t It Be Nice (B. Wilson/Asher) 1.45
03. Sloop John B (Tradotional) 2.20
04. California Girls (B.Wilson) 1.48
05. Do It Again (B. Wilson/Love) 2.15
06. Wake The World (Jardine/B. Wilson)1.48
07. Aren’t You Glad (B. Wilson/Love) 2.26
08. Bluebirds Over The Mountain (Hickey) 2.31
09. Their Hearts Were Full Of Spring (Troup) 1.47
10. Good Vibrations (B. Wilson/Love) 3.34
11. God Only Knows (B. Wilson/Asher) 2.27
12. Barbara Ann (Fassert)  1.57
+
13. Don´t Worry Baby (B.Wilson/Christian) 2.57
14. Heroes And Villains (B.Wilson/Parks) 3.45

labela1

*
**

Lightnin’ Hopkins – Lightnin’ (1969)

frontcover1Sam “Lightnin'” Hopkins was one of the most influential musicians in modern days blues music. Born and raised in Texas, Hopkins lived early life as a rambler, playing music for most of his career on street corners and in local bars. As blues and folk music took the world by storm in the early 1960s, Hopkins became famous for his contributions, having recorded a number of widely popular albums and gaining a worldwide fan base. His music changed the way the world viewed blues music. (by highbeam.com)

“This is a twin LP package of twenty tracksby the great blues singer and guitarist and includes many of his older classics as well as a lot of new material. It is excellently recorded and is one of the best blues packages of the year.” (by Ralph J. Gleason, Rolling Stone)

“Lightnin’ Hopkins may have made more records than any other bluesman and with a few exceptions those records were remarkably consistent. There were peaks and valleys but the general form remained the same: a solid rhythmic accompaniment in E or A broken by bright fierce guitar runs and that amazing voice.

Hopkins always sounds relaxed sometimes almost asleep but with an underlying edge that goes right to the heart and gut. He invites comparison with John Lee Hooker that other master of the dark brooding vocal but his guitar work has a sophistication that Hooker’s lacks and his tunes stay closer to the standard 12-bar framework (although in Hopkins’s hands that could shrink to 11 or stretch to 13 1/2 bars).

lightin-hopkinsHopkins had an endless ability to improvise new songs but he had a few favorites that he came back to again and again. Virtually all those favorites are here played by Hopkins either solo or with a drummer nailing down the rhythm and on one track with a full band. Hopkins plays his acoustic guitar through a magnetic pickup and amplifier giving his playing a bite and sustain that his pure acoustic recordings lack.
Drummer Francis Clay though listed on 16 tracks appears on only bout half of them. On classics like his trademark `Baby Please Don’t Go’ his reinvention of Ray Charles’ `What’d I Say’ and the humorous boogie romp `Ain’t It Crazy’ Hopkins appears solo allowing free rein to his unique sense of pacing and dynamics. When the drums do come in on a driving `Mojo Hand’ and a fine version of `See That My Grave Is Kept Clean’ (here called `One Kind Favor I Ask Of You’) Hopkins takes advantage of their presence to extend his high note runs leaving Clay to hold down the rhythm.

The one band cut `Rock Me Baby’ shows Hopkins flawlessly adopting the Muddy Waters Mississippi/Chicago sound with results Waters must have admired. For lagniappe one cut `I Hear You Calling Me’ gives an extremely rare glimpse of Hopkins playing slide. Hopkins was one of the true greats a master artist whose work transcended the blues genre and this album is an unmatched sampler of his music.” (Elijah Wald, SingOut!)

A superb blues album !

backcover1

Personnel:
Jeffrey Carp (harmonica)
Franis Clay (drums)
Sam “Lightnin'” Hopkins (guitar, vocals)
Geno Scaggs (bass)

booklet

Tracklist:
01. Hold Up Your Hand (Corley) 3.26
02. My Starter Won’t Start This Morning  3.20
03. What’d I Say (Charles) 2.46
04. One Kind Favor (Hopkins) 4.30
05. Baby Please Don’t Go (Broonzy) 3.00
06. Trouble In Mind (Jones) 3.13
07. Annie’s Blues (Hopkins) 2.31
08. Baby (Hopkins) 2.35
09. Little And Low (Hopkins) 3.33
10. I Hear You Calling (Hopkins) 2.06
11. Mojo Hand Part 1 (Hopkins/Robinson/Lewis) 3.06
12. Mojo Hand Part 2 Hopkins/Robinson/Lewis) 2.59
13. Have You Ever Had A Woman (Hopkins) 4.15
14. Ain’t It Crazy (Hopkins) 2.30
15. Black And Evil (Hopkins) 3.09
16. Rock Me Baby (King/Josea) 3.34
17. Hello Central (Hopkins) 4.35
18. Back Door Friend (Hopkins) 1.51
19. Little Girl, Little Girl (Hopkins) 6.03
20. It’s Better Down The Road (Hopkins) 2.36

label

*
**

 

Mark Spoelstra – Same (1969)

frontcover1A week ago .. a reader of this blog wrote me:

Thank you for your great shares. One artist I see to little of is Mark Spoelstra. If you’ve got anything to share, I’m sure folks would appreciate it.

Mark Warren Spoelstra (June 30, 1940 – February 25, 2007) was an American singer-songwriter and folk and blues guitarist.

He was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri. He began his musical career in Los Angeles in his teens and migrated around to wind up in New York City in time to take part in the folk music revival of the early 1960s. He is best remembered for his activity in the Greenwich Village area. He performed with Bob Dylan soon after Dylan’s arrival in New York City, was a contributor to Broadside Magazine and recorded a number of albums for Folkways Records and other labels.

Spoelstra was raised as a Quaker. His career was put on hold from 1963 to 1965, when he performed alternative service as a conscientious objector in Fresno, California. In the mid-1960s, he frequently performed at the Ash Grove in West Hollywood. It was here that he wrote most of his best songs, including an album of country songs used as the sound-track for the movie Electra Glide in Blue.

In 1969, while living in Sonoma County, California, he formed the Frontier Constabulary with Mitch Greenhill and Mayne Smith. After Spoelstra left to resume his solo career in 1970, the band continued as the Frontier.

Spoelstra later settled near Modesto, California, where he lived until his death. Withdrawing from the touring life to raise a family, Spoelstra and his wife Sheri embraced Christianity. In the mid-1970s he became a minister and used his musical talents as a means to preach his spiritual messages. In the late 1970s, he recorded and released two albums of Gospel music, Somehow I Always Knew and Comin’ Back To Town.

markspoelstra01
Mayne Smith, Mark Spoelstra, Mitch Greenhill, 1969

Retiring from music in the early 1980s, he worked for a number of years as a tour bus driver in Yosemite National Park. Throughout this period in his life, Spoelstra remained in touch with his music. In 2001, he recorded an album entitled, Out Of My Hands for the Origin Jazz Library label; the first record he’d made in 20 years. The album is a mix of new songs written for the album and some of his old favorites. In his later years he returned to the stage to perform on a limited scale. He would perform until the summer of 2006 when illness forced him to stop. Several of his albums recorded for Elektra Records, long out of print, have been reissued. Spoelstra died from complications of pancreatic cancer at his home in Pioneer, California on February 25, 2007. (by wikipedia)

After a few years without a label, Mark did manage to record  a rare self-titled 1969 album on Columbia, produced by James Guercio (who was then hot with Chicago and Blood, Sweat & Tears). “It was done at a time when folk, as I had been doing it on the previous four albums, just wasn’t gonna cut the mustard anymore,” concedes Spoelstra. “So this was more commercial than anything I’d previously done. [Guercio’s] backers wanted him to drop me; all they wanted was money, and they could see money with Chicago. But I got some of my old friends, and I had a band, and we were trying to go more commercial. I got Mitch Greenhill, I had Jim Gordon playing drums, and Michael Deasy played lead guitar. We had some good stuff going on there. But Guercio almost didn’t finish it, and didn’t talk to me for about four or five months after we had already recorded a number of songs. I think he just felt like he’d gotten himself into something that wasn’t gonna make any money. So he did decide finally, after pressure from me, that he should follow his word, and follow through on what he said he was gonna do. So we finished it, and there was very little promotion, if any.

And this is rare Columbia album, maybe not his best, but it´s still a pretty good one … and I will present more albums of this forgotten hero of the US folk-scene in the best months … It´s time to discover Mark Spoelstra again !

markspoelstra02

Personnel:
Davd Blue (guitar)
Roy Blumenfeld (drums)
Harvey Brooks (bass)
James Burton (guitar)
Mike Deasy (guitar)
James Gordon (drums)
Mitch Greenhill (guitar, organ)
Joe Osborn (bass)
Michel Rubini (keyboards)
Meyer Snifin (violin)
Mark Spoelstra (guitar, vocal)
Ed Trickett (dulcimer)

backcover

Tracklist:
01. Hobo Poet 2.50
02. Not So Inclined To Be Kind 3.57
03. Thanks Anyway 3.21
04. Sound Of The Rainbow 2.55
05. You Should Know 03:10
06. Meadow Mountain Top 2.49
07. Don Jaun’s Turn To Bow 2.48
08. Song Of Sad Bottles 4.06
09. Mona Sue 3.09
10. Dim Lights And Bar Fights 3.24
11. Child Statue 3.58
12. Empty Words 3.03

All songs written by Mark Spoelstra

labela1
*
**

Dick Hyman – Moog – The Electric Eclectics Of Dick Hyman (1969)

frontcover1In the late ’60s, pianist Dick Hyman, famous for “Moritat, Theme from Threepenny Opera,” aexperimented with various keyboard instruments, including Baldwin and Lowrey organs. This release was his first with what was then a completely newfangled machine, the Moog synthesizer. Hyman took the Moog by the horns and milked it for all it was worth on nine originals, including the monster hit single “The Minotaur” (which inspired Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s “Lucky Man”).

The first few tracks are in a pop-song mold, but they are pop songs composed as only a jazz musician with two decades of experience under his belt could. Hyman then hits the listener with a few spacier, improvised numbers that come off as very accessible avant-garde music. Following the “The Minotaur” are two improvised pieces. Moog: The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman ends with “Evening Thoughts,” an impressionistic track reminiscent of “Ebb Tide” by Earl Grant, on which the sounds of the seashore are conjured up on various keyboard instruments. Hyman writes about his intentions for each track in the liner notes.

dickhyman
Aside from some other Moog tracks sprinkled throughout DCC Compact Classics’ Music for a Bachelor’s Den series, it’s surprising that it’s taken this long in the lounge reissue bonanza for the Moog to finally appear (not counting The Moog Cookbook, a fab spinning of modern rock nuggets into string cheese.) Moog features three bonus tracks from Hyman’s next album Age of Electronicus; his recasting of James Brown’s “Give It Up or Turn It Loose” is well worth the price of admission.

Though this album could easily be tossed into the novelty or “period piece” category, it was not originally intended as that. Hyman recorded a showcase what this new instrument could do, and in the process made an enjoyable album. (by Jim Powers)

backcover1

Personnel:
Dick Hyman (synthesizer)

booklet

Tracklist:
01. The Topless Dancers Of Corfu 3.01
02. The Legend Of Johnny Pot 2.04
03. The Moog And Me 3.00
04. Tap Dance In The Memory Banks 2.30
05. Four Duets In Odd Meter 4.28
08. The Minotaur 8.26
09. Total Bells And Tony 2.01
10. Improvisation In Fourths 2.24
11. Evening Thoughts 3.20

Composed by Dick Hyman

labelb1

*
**

variretyreview1969

Review in “Variety”, 1969