Spooky Tooth – Live In Europe (2001)

FrontCover1.jpgA new dawn broke in England in 1966-67 and it was a blues-rock dawn. Bands like Cream, Free, Ten Years After, The Rolling Stones and even Fleetwood Mac were blending their blues roots with the insistent beat of rock and gaining commercial success from it. and during the late 1960s, Spooky Tooth was one of a contingent of new British rock bands inspired by the first British Rock Invasion of acts like The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds and The Animals.

Spooky Tooth took Europe and America by storm; alongside their Island Records label mates Traffic, Free and Jethtro Tull. From 1967 through 1974, they released seven Billboard-charting albums. After the band’s demise, all of the members went on to careers as solo artists or members of other successful bands.

It’s been 30 years since “It’s All About”, their first Stateside release on Bell Records (later reissued by A&M as “Tobacco Road”). For musicians who have not recorded together for many years, there were a number of obstacles to overcome. Each of the group members had created their own lives and coming together again presented somewhat of a challenge. Although the group wanted to honor some of their past material, they were also very conscious of writing contemporary new material which would reflect who they are now.

Part of the Spooky Tooth legacy is that they were always great at covering songs by then-unknown writers (Elton John, Robbie Robertson) and at recording songs by established writers and making them their own (Lennon/McCartney, Al Kooper, Bob Dylan) in the inimitable Spooky Tooth style.

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One of the more intriguing components of the blues-rock movement was Spooky Tooth. They differed from other bands in that they utilized two very distinctive, talented vocalists (Mike Harrison and Gary Wright) and they featured an ominous yet potent organ sound.

By 1968, they had broken through commercially in England and were on the verge of releasing their most popular material. It was at this time that they performed on several editions of BBC´s radio program Top Gear.

Six of the nine tracks presented on BBC Sessions are taken from those appearances and showcase a band poised at the brink of big-time success. An aural snapshot of a well known band at that juncture of its recording career is very rare.

~Spooky Tooth´s “BBC Sessions” is that rare photograph~

As a special bonus, three additional tracks are included, one an obscure 1966 recording from Deep Feeling (featuring Spooky Tooth guitarist Luther Grosvenor and pre Traffic drummer Jim Capaldi !)) and two alternate mixes from the Spooky Tooth´s 1999 reunion release Cross Purpose.

Music from Deep Yesterday, Classic Yesterday and Reunion Yesterday´s BBC Sessions is everything a title like this should be.

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This is a nice addition for every serious Spooky Tooth collector, but:

For years now bootlegs of Spooky Tooth’s BBC recordings have been circulating, most with less than excellent sound. Finally we get a chance to hear the band at its finest: LIVE “at the Beeb,” and what do we get? A truncated set, short in selections and definitely not what we would like to hear. The half dozen BBC songs come from but one or two of the numerous sessions the band recorded between 1968 and 1969, and many are faded in, suggesting that they are taken from transcription discs with spoken voice-over introductions that were simply edited out. Missing are some of the best BBC sessions, songs like “Tobacco Road,” and “Evil Woman” that were hallmarks of the band in concert. Although the studio outtakes from the 1999 reunion album are nice to have, they really do not fit comfortably into this collection. Equally disappointing are the two “bonus cuts” tacked on to the end of the disc which come from a 1970 Berlin concert, but which are rather shabby sounding, and which appear with no explanation as to their origins. In short we get a taste of what might have been, namely a Spooky Tooth BBC set to rival those recently issued by the Kinks, and the Who, but which instead winds up a missed opportunity. (by Christopher L. Dolmetsch)

More rare Spooky Tooth recordings will come !

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Personnel:

Live at the BBC:
Mike Harrison (vocals, keyboards)
Luther Grosvenor (guitar)
Mike Kellie (drums)
Greg Ridley (bass)
Gary Wright (vocals, organ)

Deep Feeling:
Jim Capaldi (drums, vocals)
Luther Grosvenor (guitar, vocals)
Gordon Jackson (guitar)
David Meredith (bass)
Poli Palmer (vibraphon, flute)

1999 Reunion:
Mike Harrison (vocals)
Luther Grosvenor (guitar, percussion)
Mike Kellie (drums, percussion, background vocals)
Dave Moore (keyboards, synthesizer)
Greg Ridley (bass, background vocals)

Live in Berlin, 1970:
Mike Harrison (vocals, keyboards)
Luther Grosvenor (guitar)
Mike Kellie (drums)
Andy Leigh (bass)
Gary Wright (vocals, keyboards)

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Tracklist:

Live at the BBC:
01. Sunshine Help Me (Wright) 2.03
02. Too Much Or Nothing (Dylan)I 3.54
03. Feelin’ Bad (Kellie/Wright) 2.56
04. The Weight (Robertson) 3.17
05. I Can’t Quit Her (Kooper/Levine) 3.02
06. Blues Town (Harrison/King/Wright) 3.35

Deep Feeling (feat. Jim Capaldi and Luther Grosvenor):
07. Pretty Colours (unknown) 2.41

1999 Reunion Recordings Studio Outtakes:
08. Sunshine (Wallinger) 4.55
09. How (Kellie) 4.49

Live in Berlin, 1970:
10. Better You Better Than Me (Wright) 4.17
11. Soulful Lady (unknown) 8.50

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Mike Harrison (03 September 1945 – 25 March 2018)
Mike Kellie (24 March 1947 – 18 January 2017)
Greg Ridley (23 October 1947 – 19 November 2003)

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Kaleidoscope – Bernice (1970)

FrontCover1Kaleidoscope (originally The Kaleidoscope) was an American psychedelic folk and ethnic band who recorded 4 albums and several singles for Epic Records between 1966 and 1970. The band membership included David Lindley, who later released numerous solo albums and won additional renown as a multi-instrumentalist session musician.

The group was formed in 1966. The original members were:

David Lindley (b. March 21, 1944, Los Angeles, California)
Solomon Feldthouse (b. January 20, 1940, Pingree, Idaho)
Chris Darrow (b. July 30, 1944, Sioux Falls, South Dakota)
Chester Crill (a.k.a. Max Budda, Max Buda, Fenrus Epp, Templeton Parcely) (b. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma)
John Vidican (b. Los Angeles, California)

Lindley was an experienced performer on a variety of stringed instruments, notably the banjo, winning the Topanga Canyon Banjo Contest several years in a row in the early 60s. While studying at La Salle High School in Pasadena, he formed his first group, the Mad Mountain Ramblers, who performed around the Los Angeles folk clubs. There, he met Darrow, who was a member of a rival group, the Re-Organized Dry City Players.

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Soon afterwards, around 1964, the pair formed a new group, the Dry City Scat Band, which also included fiddle player Richard Greene (later of Seatrain), but Darrow soon left to set up a new rock group, The Floggs. Lindley also began forming his own electric group. In the course of this he met Feldthouse, who had been raised in Turkey and, on returning to the US, had performed flamenco music and as an accompanist to belly dancing groups. Lindley and Feldthouse then began performing as a duo, David and Solomon, when they met Chester Crill. They invited him to join their band, and by the end of 1966 added Darrow and drummer John Vidican, so forming The Kaleidoscope.

Kaleidoscope03The group was founded on democratic principles – there was no “leader”. They soon began performing live in clubs, winning a recording contract with Epic Records. The first single, “Please”, was released in December 1966. It was produced by Barry Friedman (later known as Frazier Mohawk), as was their first album Side Trips, released in June 1967. The album showcased the group’s musical diversity and studio experimentation. It included Feldthouse’s “Egyptian Gardens”, Darrow’s “Keep Your Mind Open”, and versions of Cab Calloway’s “Minnie the Moocher” and Dock Boggs’ “Oh Death”. Crill, for reasons he never made clear (but ex-bandmates speculated had to do with concerns about overreactions from his “straitlaced” parents), was credited as “Fenrus Epp” on the first album and adopted various other pseudonyms on later recordings.

Between them, the group played a huge collection of stringed instruments in such psychedelic songs as “Egyptian Gardens” and “Pulsating Dream.” They played fusions of Middle-Eastern music with rock in longer pieces such as “Taxim,” which they performed at numerous venues including the Berkeley Folk Festival on July 4, 1967 and the Newport Folk Festival and The Family Dog at The Avalon Ballroom (San Francisco) in 1968. Live, band numbers were sometimes interspersed by solo instrumental turns from Feldthouse or Lindley, and occasionally Feldthouse brought belly dancers or flamenco dancers on stage. The band performed many different styles, including rock, blues, folk, jazz, Middle-Eastern and also featured music by Calloway and Duke Ellington in their repertoire. Kaleidoscope were one of the progenitors of World Music.
Cover of the Kaleidoscope’s second album “A Beacon from Mars,” with album art by Tad Hunter aka San Andreas Fault.

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The band’s second album A Beacon from Mars was released in early 1968, to generally good reviews but poor sales. The album was a mix of Middle-Eastern, country, folk and rock musical styles. The title track, inspired by a Howlin’ Wolf musical riff originally in his song Smokestack Lightning, was recorded live in the studio, and featured a long psychedelic electric guitar solo by Lindley, which later caused Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page to refer to the Kaleidoscope as his “favourite band of all time.”  In live performances of the tune, Lindley used a violin bow on his electric guitar, probably influencing Page to use the same effect later. Another live “no overdubs” track on the album was “Taxim,” with solos from Lindley on a “harp guitar” and Felthouse, who played oud and saz on the lengthy cut.

Liner notes to the much-later CD reissue claim the album’s original title was “Bacon From Mars,” but that the title was misprinted. This is a complete myth, initiated by a joke printed in the magazine ZigZag during their three-part feature on Kaleidoscope.

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Darrow left the group after recording the album and was replaced by bassist Stuart Brotman, previously a member of an early version of Canned Heat. However, Darrow returned briefly for studio work when the group backed first Johnny “Guitar” Watson and Larry Williams on their 1967 single “Nobody”, and later Leonard Cohen on “So Long, Marianne” and “Teachers” on his first album. Vidican was also replaced by drummer Paul Lagos who had a jazz and R&B background, having played with Little Richard, Johnny Otis, and Ike and Tina Turner.

The band recorded their third album, Incredible! Kaleidoscope, in 1968. It featured “Seven-Ate Sweet”, a long progressive instrumental piece in 7/8 time signature which they had been playing live since the early days of the group. The album reached No. 139 on Billboard in 1969, the only Kaleidoscope album to chart. Around this time they also did soundtrack work on educational and other films, and also made an appearance at the Newport Folk Festival.

Kaleidoscope’s fourth and final album from their Epic Records era, Bernice, featured more electric guitar work than the earlier albums, and more country influence. There were further personnel changes, adding singer-guitarist Jeff Kaplan, and bassist Ron Johnston who replaced Brotman during the making of the album. Feldthouse also left the group.

At the end of 1969, Kaleidoscope contributed two new songs (“Brother Mary” and “Mickey’s Tune”) to Michelangelo Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point, and supported Cream on their American farewell tour. The band split up soon afterwards.

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After the end of Kaleidoscope, Lindley became a highly respected session and live musician with Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne and others, before forming his own band, El Rayo-X, in the early 1980s. Feldthouse performed at Renaissance Pleasure Faires, and with various flamenco and Middle Eastern groups. Darrow formed the Corvettes with Bernie Leadon before becoming a leading session musician and solo performer. Crill became an underground comic writer for a time, co-writing the Mickey Rat series, and also produced the first 78rpm record by R. Crumb’s group, Armstrong’s Pasadenans. Brotman became involved with the LA folk dance scene and has done considerable work as a movie extra. In the 1980s he became active in the Klezmer Revival, playing bass and tsimbl for Brave Old World and most recently is a member of the San Francisco-based trio, Veretski Pass whose most recent CD, “Klezmer Shul,” was released in 2011. He is also a regular instructor at KlezKamp, KlezCanada, and other ethnic music gatherings. Paul Lagos died on October 19, 2009.

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In 1976, ex-members Brotman, Crill, Darrow, Feldthouse and Lagos reconvened for the reunion album, When Scopes Collide, which was released on Michael Nesmith’s Pacific Arts label. Lindley also contributed, but distanced himself from the project by appearing as “De Paris Letante.”

Fourteen years later, Crill and Darrow organized a second reunion session, this time for Gifthorse Records. Greetings from Kartoonistan (We Ain’t Dead Yet) again brought together the same lineup, with Brotman contributing the instrumental, Klezmer Suite. (Though invited, Lindley declined to participate.) (by wikipedia)

The American band Kaleidoscope was formed in southern California in 1966 and quickly became a fan favorite in the psychedelic scene due to their unique instrumentation and wild studio techniques. After three unique and acclaimed albums and a popular live career the band released their final album “Bernice” in 1970 on Epic Records.

Their fans didn’t particularly like the record, citing a lack of enthusiasm and creativity in comparison to the earlier albums. The band had gone through several personnel changes leading up to “Bernice”, with a new rhythm section appearing on the record alongside new singer Jeff Kaplan. With that much of a shakeup in members and the album’s straightforward ’70s rock vibe, many fans saw this as a completely different band from the Kaleidoscope they knew and loved.

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Despite the negative fan reaction and it’s reputation as a lackluster effort from a band on it’s last legs (they broke up shortly after the recording session) “Bernice” has some of my favorite Kaleidoscope songs on it. To me it sounds like a wild psych band doing their take on the heavy blues cock-rock that was all around them, and I can’t help but love it.

For instance, dig the country-fried funk of the first two tracks, “Chocolate Whale” and especially “Another Lover.”

…or the odd psychedelic honky-tonk of “Sneaking’ Thru The Ghetto”…

My favorite two tracks and what I consider the most unique offerings on the album are right in the middle. First up is track 4, “To Know Is Not To Be” transitioning us from the Southern California vibe of the early tracks with a breezy psychedelic treatise on consciousness, moving along in odd time and flavored with unique harmonies that herald back to earlier albums.

Then after a grungy revamp of an older song, entitled “Lulu Arfin Nanny” we have the spot-on Zappa impression “Lie & Hide” sports a slick riff over a laconic rhythm section, with deliberately cartoonish falsetto’s espousing the benefits of hiding your illicit behavior from law enforcement and society at large. The tongue in cheek commentary on the bold ideas but reclusive nature of hippie culture is strong in this one, and overall the song does manage to capture the band’s sense of humor.

With the exception of the aimless jamming of the final track, “New Blue Ooze,” the album is fairly balanced and moves along briskly, coming in at less than half an hour. If you’re just getting into Kaleidoscope, start off with one of their first two albums as an introduction. But if you’re a fan of both late ’60s Summer-Of-Love psych and early ’70s country/blues rock then “Bernice”, while not necessarily a legendary album, will satisfy your urges for a time as you move on to more substantial rock offerings of the era. (by Old Time Religion Radio Hour)

I can´t agree: The jam on “New Blue Ooze” is a great jam tune, especially the harmonica solos …

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Personnel:
Stuart Brotman (bass)
Connie Crill (keyboards)
Solomon Feldthouse (guitar, oud, vocals)
Jeff Kaplan (vocals)
Paul Lagos (drums,percussion, rap vocals)
David Lindley (guitar, vocals)
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Robert “Big Boy” Armstrong (saw)
Max Buda (Chester Crill) (harmonica)
Ron Johnson (bass on 01. + 02.)

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Tracklist:
01. Chocolate Whale (Feldthouse) 2.24
02. Another Lover (Lindley) 2.44
03. Sneakin’ Thru The Ghetto (Crill/Lagos) 3.15
04. To Know Is Not To Be (Lagos) 2.14
05. Lulu Arfin Nanny (Lindley/Lagos/Crill/Feldthouse/Brotman/Darrow) 3.07
06. Lie And Hide (Crill/Lagos/Lindley/Brotman) 2.50
07. Ballad Of Tommy Udo (Lindley) 2.44
08. Bernice (Crill) 2.39
09. Soft And Easy (Feldthouse) 2.54
12. New Blue Ooze (Lindley/Lagos/Crill/Feldthouse/Brotman) 9.24

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Canned Heat – Boston Tea Party (1970)

FrontCover1.jpg30 years ago, I got this concert from a friend on a tape … Canned Heat “Canned Heat: Live At The Boston Tea Party”;

Time for blues and boogie with the Canned Heat, having guests on a couple of tracks a band called Kaleidoscope (*) (with David Lindley and Chris Darrow). Recorded at the Boston Tea Party, a club that welcomed artists like Led Zeppelin, Velvet Underground, Allman Brothers Band, Procol Harum, Jethro Tull, Mountain, Santana and many more.
The 8th track is about 40 minutes long, now that’s something that definitely I would not call easy-listening 🙂 (by soundabord.blogspot)

The Boston Tea Party, one of the most famous sixties rock venue in the world, opened on Friday January 20, 1967 in an abandoned temple at 53 Berkeley Street. Two years after (July 12, 1969) the club had moved to an old warehouse on 15 Landsdowne Street (it was originally a club called The Ark which failed a few days earlier as the Tea Party was looking for a bigger place and they took it over). The club closed on December 29, 1970.

This appearance at The Tea Party in Boston winds up becoming some of the last for Alan Wilson, since he died in September of that year. The band went through a number of personnel changes over the years, but the surviving three members have kept things going and are still widely popular throughout the world.

(*) Kaleidoscope was a California psychedelic-folk band from the 60’s, built around the nucleus of David Lindley and Chris Darrow. They join Canned Heat for the last tune. Forty minutes of blues boogie jammin’ !!!

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Personnel:
Bob Hite (vocals, harmonica)
Harvey Mandel (guitar)
Adolfo de la Parra (drums)
Larry Taylor (bass)
Al Wilson (guitar, vocals, harmonica)
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Tracklist:
01. Intro 1.18
02. I Found Love (Leigh) 5.12
03. Catfish Blues (Petway) 13.55
04. Bullfrog Blues (Traditional) 6.07
05. Gonna Find A New Woman (unknown) 6.41
06. Killing Floor (w/ members of Kaleidoscope) (Burnett) 6.00
06. Bring It On Home (Dixon) 5.59
07. Kaleideheat Boogie Jam w/ Kaleidoscope 39.43

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Strawbs – Just A Collection Of Antiques And Curios – Live At The Queen Elizabeth Hall (1970)

LPFrontCover1Just a Collection of Antiques and Curios is the third album by the Strawbs mostly recorded live at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London on 11 July 1970. The album reached number 27 in the UK Albums Chart.

The band line-up had changed from the previous album, Dragonfly. Only founder-members Dave Cousins and Tony Hooper remained; with double bass player Ron Chesterman and cellist Claire Deniz having departed the band, and bassist John Ford, drummer Richard Hudson, and keyboardist Rick Wakeman having joined.

The concert was instrumental in bringing Rick Wakeman’s virtuosity to the attention of the music media, when Melody Maker prophesied super-stardom for the keyboard player. (by wikipedia)

This album, cut live at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall in July of 1970, was the first Strawbs album to be released in the United States. It didn’t do much in the U.S., but it did chart in England, and the original concert also got Rick Wakeman his first front-page coverage in the British music press, owing to his bravura performance on the solo piano spot, “Temperament for a Mind.” The group is trying really hard here to make the jump from folk to folk-rock. They still play a lot of acoustic music, and some of it is surprisingly diverse, but this is a fairly successful album bridging the gap between the acoustic Strawbs combo of their first incarnation and the harder, more strident folk-rock stylings that followed on From the Witchwood, with hints of progressive leanings.

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The original finale, the rocking, searing nine-minute epic “Where Is the Dream of Your Youth,” which clearly showed where the band was heading, was supplemented on a remastered CD reissue (A&M 540-938-2) with a haunting, moody “Vision of the Lady of the Lake,” featuring Dave Cousins and Rick Wakeman, and Tony Hooper’s showcase number, the surprisingly rousing “We’ll Meet Again,” from the same concert, and the contemporary studio creation “Forever.” The latter is the only track that doesn’t fit, its heavy string overdubs and studio ambience clashing with the live sound on the rest of the CD, although it does have Cousins’ best vocals of the album. The sound throughout is excellent, as one might expect since the producers returned to the original concert recordings, with rich detail and an especially robust presence to John Ford’s bass playing. (by Bruce Eder)

And “Where Is This Dream Of Your Youth” is one of the finest tracks, Strawbs ever recorded (including a short version of “America” by Leonard  Bernstein played in The Nice style).

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Personnel:
Dave Cousins (vocals, guitar, dulcimer)
John Ford (vocals, bass)
Tony Hooper (vocals, guitar, tambourine)
Richard Hudson (vocals, drums, percussion, sitar)
Rick Wakeman (keyboards, harpsichord, celeste)

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Tracklist:
01. Martin Luther King’s Dream (Cousins) 2.56
02. The Antique Suite (Cousins) 12.15
02.1. The Reaper
02.2. We Must Cross The River
02.3 Antiques And Curios
02.4. Hey It’s Been A Long Time
03. Temperament Of Mind (Wakeman) 4.53
04. Fingertips (Cousins) 6.17
05. Song Of A Sad Little Girl (Cousins) 5.29
06. Where Is This Dream Of Your Youth (Cousins) 9.09
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07. The Vision Of The Lady Of The Lake (Cousins) 10.06
08. We’ll Meet Again Sometime (Cousins) 4.19
09. Forever (Cousins/Hooper) 3.34

(“Forever” is a studio track and was released as a single in 1970)

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Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Pictures At An Exhibition (VHS rip) (1970/1986)

FrontCover1.jpgELP is one of my favorite bands right up there with Zep, Floyd and Alice. Theirs is a unique sound and a singular vision. That vision is brought to light exquisitely by this DVD. It is a treat to see the young trio playing their instruments and such, but after a while them just standing and playing would start to get old (especially after repeated viewings). I mean, you can watch Keith Emerson’s hands all day long, but that isn’t going to mean you can play like him.
There are some groovy psychedelic effects in the middle part of the show that both both enhance the viewing experience and illustrate what ELP is all about. The swirls turn into comic-book images (not cartoons). These are Marvel comics characters from the 60’s by Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko– two artistic visionaries that were doing with pen and ink what ELP did with sound. The visuals are thus a perfect match! Dr. Strange and the Fantastic Four in particular are well suited to ELPs music.
Some people may be annoyed that they can’t see the band clearly the whole time, but there is plenty of unadulterated footage of the band doing its thing. By the time the visuals start you ought to be in the proper state of mind to enjoy them them anyway. They wash over you just like the music does. (by Psychedelic Cowboy)

There are some unfortunate things about this video. The special effects are annoying to the point of being nauseating. The overly “creative” post production crew really got carried away with the psychedelic tint & color saturation effects.
Yes, the performance is over the top. But so is about every live rock performance from that era. Just look at the recently released Zeppelin DVD. But hey, the era was what it was. I’m just glad that some of these bands were captured live while they still had some fire in their bellies. (by M. A Maupin)

Without any doubts: “Pictures At An Exhibition” ist one of the finest classical adaptions by a rock group ever recorded.

Recorded live at the Lyceum Theatre, London,  9 December 1970

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Personnel:
Keith Emerson (organ, synthesizer)
Greg Lake (bass, vocals, guitar)
Carl Palmer (drums)

Directed by Lindsey Clennell

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Tracklist:
01. Promenade (Mussorgsky)
02. Gnome (Mussorgsky)
03. Promenade (Lake/Mussorgsky)
04. The Sage (Lake)
05. The Old Castle (Mussorgsky)
06. Blues Variation (Emserson/Lake/Palmer)
07. Promenade (Mussorgsky)
08. The Hut Of Baba Yaga (Mussorgsky)
09. The Curse Of Baba Yaga (Emserson/Lake/Palmer)
10. The Hut Of Baba Yaga (Mussorgsky)
11. The Great Gates Of Kiev (Lake/Mussorgsky)

Total time: 40.37

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Keith Emerson:
02 November 1944 – 11 March 2016

Greg Lake:
10 November 1947 – 07 December 2016

 

 

 

Grand Funk Railroad – Closer To Home (1970)

LPFrontCover1Closer to Home is Grand Funk Railroad’s third studio album and was released on June 15, 1970 by Capitol Records. It was produced by Terry Knight. This album reached RIAA gold record status in 1970, making it the group’s third gold record in one year. The songs “Sin’s a Good Man’s Brother” and “Aimless Lady” were later covered by South African group Suck. “Sin’s a Good Man’s Brother” was also covered by the band Monster Magnet on their first full-length album Spine of God (1991), by former Dokken guitarist George Lynch on his 2004 covers album “Furious George”, and by Gov’t Mule on their album The Deep End, Volume 1 (2001). The album’s inside artwork shows a live photo of the band performing at Madison Square Garden in February 1970.

In the 2009 film Law Abiding Citizen, the song “Sin’s a Good Man’s Brother” is featured in the closing credits. (by wikipedia)

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Closer to Home, the trio’s third album, was the record that really broke them through to the commercially successful level of metal masters such as Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. Rather than rushing headlong into their typical hard, heavy, and overamplified approach, Grand Funk Railroad began expanding their production values. Most evident is the inclusion of strings, the acoustic opening on the disc’s leadoff cut, “Sins a Good Man’s Brother,” as well as the comparatively mellow “Mean Mistreater.” But the boys had far from gone soft. The majority of Closer to Home is filled with the same straight-ahead rock & roll that had composed their previous efforts. The driving tempo of Mel Schacher’s viscous lead basslines on “Aimless Lady” and “Nothing Is the Same” adds a depth when contrasted to the soul-stirring and somewhat anthem-like “Get It Together.” The laid-back and slinky “I Don’t Have to Sing the Blues” also continues the trend of over-the-top decibel-shredding; however, instead of the excess force of other bands, such as MC5, Grand Funk Railroad are able to retain the often-elusive melodic element to their heavy compositions. (by Lindsay Planer )

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Personnel:
Don Brewer (drums, vocals)
Mark Farner (guitar, keyboards, vocals)
Mel Schacher (bass)

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Tracklist:
01. Sin’s A Good Man’s Brother 4.50
02. Aimless Lady 3.28
03. Nothing Is The Same 5.14
04. Mean Mistreater 4.25
05. Get It Together 5.07
06. I Don’t Have To Sing The Blues 4.37
07. Hooked On Love 7.12
08. I’m Your Captain (Closer To Home) 9.54

All songs written by Mark Farner

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Neil Merryweather, John Richardson & Boers – Same (1970)

FrontCover1.jpgNeil Merryweather, a real unique musician (still active !) in his own words:

After his exit from the band “Merryweather”, Neil and his manager flew to Toronto where Neil found his new band members. He recruited Robin Boers as drummer. Robin was in the “Ugly Ducklings”, a local Toronto band that had a single on the Canadian charts. For guitarist, he chose John Richardson who had played with the “Lords of London” and “Nucleus”, two popular bands on the Toronto scene. Neil and Morey Alexander flew them back to LA.

The “Merryweather, Richardson & Boers” album was recorded for Kent Records as a one-off deal to raise money to support the band, with the advance being used to rent a house to live and rehearse in. The LP was recorded in one night at Paramount Studios. Neil wrote the songs on the fly, they did a couple of cover songs, and it was done in about four hours. It was quickly mixed at Village Recorders.

Neil brought Jack Velker into the crew to play organ. He was a member of a Canadian band called the “49th Parallel” that disbanded in LA.

“Merryweather, Richardson & Boers” added Neil’s girlfriend, Lynn Carey, to the band for some more recordings at Kent Studios. They did covers of “Shop Around” and “Lucille” with Neil and Lynn singing a two-part harmony. Kent Records put the songs out as a single by “Mama & Papa Rock ‘n’ Family”.

“Merryweather, Richardson & Boers” never played a live date. (taken from his website)

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l to r – Neil Merryweather, John Richardson, Robin Boers

Neil Merryweather in an interview with Ruth McCartney:

Ruth: Merryweather, Richardson & Boers was your next recording – tell me about it.

Neil: Well, there I was without a group and I thought I’d go back to Toronto because they had some great players up there. I felt comfortable going back there and knew I’d find some new band members and that it would work. So, Morey Alexander, my manager and I flew to Toronto. We hit the Village scene that we all played on during the 60s and found a couple of guys I knew of. Robin Boers had been the drummer for the “Ugly Ducklings”, who had a hit single a few years before up in Canada, and they were a good blues band, and I knew he was a real solid drummer. We found John Richardson who played with “Lords of London” and “Nucleus”. I liked his playing too, and liked him as a person. We bought them tickets and flew them back to LA with us. JJ Velker was a keyboardist from Calgary. He was in a group called the “49th Parallel” and they had just broken up. I brought him into the sessions and it worked out fine.

Merryweather02Morey was working with Kent Records, the old Bihari Brothers label in downtown LA. Morey suggested that a way to get the new band going was to do an album for Kent Records. I thought it was a good idea because I would get an advance and could support the band. We went into the studio. I had a couple of ideas for songs, and the record turned into an all out jam. We even covered the Lou Rawls song “Your Good Thing (Is About to End”, and a funky version of Stephen Stills “Hot Dusty Roads” that I re-vamped using some of his lyrics.

We did the whole record in one night – set up, jammed the tracks, did the vocals. I took the money for the job to stay alive which allowed us to rent a house in the Valley. We rehearsed there and Lynn and I worked out some harmonies and did a couple cover tunes. Morey liked them and suggested that we do an act for Kent Records. We called it “Mama and Papa Rockin’ Family”. We went back into the studio and cut “Shop Around” and Little Richard’s “Lucille”. Even though I think Kent pressed a single under that title, we didn’t sign as an act.

Those were the days … and we here a real great jam LP including a psych version of the blues classic “Dust My Broom”… let´s take a trip in the year 1970 …

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Personnel:
Robin Boers (drums)
Neil Merryweather (bass, vocals, harmonica)
John Richardson (guitar)
Jack Velker (keyboards)

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Tracklist:
01. Aren’t You Glad That You Know (Merryweather) 3.05
02. City Boy (Merryweather) 3.01
03. Dust My Blues (James) 2.39
04. Flat Black (Richardson/Merryweather/Boers) 4.15
05. You Must Live It (Carey/Merryweather) 2.44
06. Your Real Good Thing (Is About To End) (Porter/Hayes) 3.31
07. Local 149 (Everyone) / Are You Ready (Velker/Richardson/Merryweather/Boers) 10.51

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