Quatermass – Same (1970)

frontcover1Quatermass were a British progressive rock band from London, active between 1969 and 1971. A related band, Quatermass II was active in the mid-1990s.

The trio consisted of bass player and vocalist John Gustafson, keyboardist J. Peter Robinson and Mick Underwood on drums. Underwood had previously played with Ritchie Blackmore in the Outlaws, while Gustafson had been a member of The Big Three and The Merseybeats. Underwood later became drummer with Episode Six, and was joined by Gustafson after Roger Glover left to join Deep Purple.[2] The band took its name from Professor Bernard Quatermass, a fictional scientist who had been the hero of three science fiction serials produced by BBC Television in the 1950s, and were signed to Harvest Records.

The group formed as a power trio with Hammond organ as the main instrument. Their first and only album sold itself through “…compactness, wealth of ideas, forceful lead vocals and complicated arrangements, enriched by pianist Robinson’s tasteful use of classical strings which are on display along with spacious keyboard passages at their height in the mold of The Nice.” One track, “Laughin’ Tackle”, includes 16 violins, 6 violas, 6 cellos, and 3 double bass, arranged by Robinson, and a drum solo by Underwood. Underwood remained in close contact with Blackmore, and visited Deep Purple in the studio while they were recording In Rock.

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The group split in early 1971. Gustafson formed a new band, Bullet with ex-members of Atomic Rooster.

The band’s song “Black Sheep of the Family” was the first track to be recorded by Rainbow, having been rejected for the Deep Purple album Stormbringer.
In 1994, Underwood, and founding Deep Purple member Nick Simper joined in a project titled Quatermass II. Gustafson contributed two songs on their album, Long Road (1997), which also involved Gary Davis and Bart Foley on guitars, with Don Airey on keyboards.

Quatermass is the only studio album by English progressive rock band Quatermass, released in May 1970 by Harvest Records.

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Despite the album had not performed well on the charts at the time of the release, it started to attract considerable attention in 1975, when guitarist Ritchie Blackmore covered the second track, “Black Sheep of the Family”, for the debut album from Rainbow. As a consequence of the revived interest, Quatermass was re-released and sold further 20,000 copies. Since then, it has gained a cult status  and has received favorable retrospective reviews. (by wikipedia)

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Quatermass’ only album is a must-have for prog rock enthusiasts, especially lovers of the keyboard-dominated style which flourished in the early ’70s. Although there are only three members of the band, their histories are just as colorful as the music they produced. Keyboard player Pete Robinson and bass man Johnny Gustafson met drummer Mick Underwood and founded Episode Six, a band which included Ian Gillan who later fronted Deep Purple. Underwood was also involved with the Outlaws as well as the Herd, only a few years before Peter Frampton arrived. When the band finally formed Quatermass in 1970, they had set their sights on a power rock format which would use Robinson’s keyboards to shape their sound. Both “Black Sheep” and “One Blind Mice” were released as singles which fell mostly on deaf ears, but the band’s sound was equally as moving as the Nice’s repertoire, for example, at around the same time. Quatermass’ sound is far from sounding hollow, isolated, or directionless, but all of the cuts are rather rock-sturdy and instrumentally voluptuous from all points.

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The string work that swoops in is encompassing, Underwood’s drumming exhibits personality, and the keyboard portions are remarkably striking and distinct. Even Gustafson’s robust vocals work well within the music’s structure, subsiding and ascending when called for, and all of the cuts result in worthy examples of well-built progressive rock, in both ballad and power rock form. Following this album, the band broke up, with Gustafson later doing session work for Kevin Ayers, Steve Hackett, and Ian Hunter, among others, while Robinson found new life within the jazz-prog band Brand X. Beautifully packaged with informative liner notes, Quatermass sounds as resounding today as it did in 1970, and upon hearing it, one can only wonder why it was so overlooked during its release. (by Mike DeGagne)

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This a very biased review from someone who is a Deep Purple fan. Now that that’s out of the way, it means that I’m a sucker for heavy keyboards a la Jon Lord. Look no further, but Quatermass delivers – big time. As mentioned from other reviewers, this is primarily a heavy rock album with some prog. rock flourishes. You won’t hear ELP here, but you might get a cross between Fields and Le Orme´s _Collage_ LP. Of note is the gut-wrenching vocal delivery of one John Gustafson of Roxy Music-fame. The vocal delivery on the track _Post War Saturday Echo_ rivals that of Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan on “Child In Time”. Not so much in the high decibel range, just the delivery in relation to the build up of the song and the emotion. The emotional despair must have left this man exhausted after it was recorded. “Black Sheep Of The Family” was later covered by Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow. Peter Robinson’s keyboard sounds nothing like his work as a member of Brand X. His sound is strictly in the Atomic Rooster, Graham Field, Jon Lord and Ken Hensley school of prog. rock. Bottom-end heavy duty organ. In the heavy organ category, Quatermass is an undeniable masterpiece which has few rivals. (by Gooner)

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Personnel:
John Gustafson (vocals, bass)
Pete Robinson (keyboards)
Mick Underwood (drums)
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on “Bluegaloo/Broken Chords-Scales” (live 1974 in Sweden)
John Gustafson (vocals, bass)
Pete Robinson (keyboards)
Janne Schaffer (guitar)
Barry de Souza (drums)

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Tracklist:

Part 1: Original album:
01. Entropy (Robinson) 1.10
02. Black Sheep Of The Family (Hammond) 3.41
03. Post War Saturday Echo (Robinson/Gustafson/Ross) 9.43
04. Good Lord Knows (Gustafson) 2.54
05. Up On The Ground (Gustafson) 7.11
06. Gemini (Hammond) 5.54
07. Make Up Your Mind (Hammond) 8.44
08. Laughin’ Tackle (Robinson) 10.35
09. Entropy (Reprise) (Robinson) 0.42

Remastered Deluxe Edition (2013):
01. One Blind Mice (single A-side) (Gustafson) 3.27
02. Entropy (Robinson) 1.11
03. Black Sheep Of The Family (Hammond) 3.41
04. Post War Saturday Echo (Robinson/Gustafson/Ross) 9.52
05. Good Lord Knows (Gustafson) 3.12
06. Up On The Ground (Gustafson) 7.09
07. Gemini (Hammond) 5.55
08. Make Up Your Mind (Hammond) 1.44
09. Was What That (Hammond) 5.59
10. Make Up Your Mind (Reprise) (Hammond) 1.03
11. Laughin’ Tackle/Entropy (Reprise) (Robinson) 11.31
12. Punting (single B-side)  (Gustafson) 7.21
13. Afraid Not (previously unreleased) (Gustafson) 5.25
14. Bluegaloo (Gustafson)/Broken Chords-Scales (Robinson) (live 1974) 6.30

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John Frederick Gustafson (8 August 1942 – 12 September 2014)

Mr. Fox – Same (1970)

FrontCover1.jpgMr Fox were an early 1970s British folk rock band. They were seen as in the ‘second generation’ of British folk rock performers and for a time were compared with Steeleye Span and Sandy Denny’s Fotheringay. Unlike Steeleye Span they mainly wrote their own material in a traditional style and developed a distinct ‘northern’ variant of the genre. They demonstrate the impact and diversity of the British folk rock movement and the members went on to pursue significant careers within the folk rock and traditional music genres after they disbanded in 1972 having recording two highly regarded albums.

By the late 1960s Bob and Carole Pegg were already well-established singers and musicians on the British folk scene based in Yorkshire. In 1969 they moved south and played London folk clubs, where they met Ashley Hutchings, who had recently left Fairport Convention and was attempting to form a new group involving members of the Irish band Sweeney’s Men including Terry Woods. They took part in rehearsals but the embryonic band soon broke up and Hutchings went on to form Steeleye Span with Woods and his wife Gay. The Peggs were approached by record producer Bill Leader. He secured them a contract with Transatlantic Records. For their first album they recruited Alun Eden (drums), Barry Lyons (bass), Andrew Massey (cello) and John Myatt (woodwinds) and adopted the name Mr Fox, the title of one of their songs and a nod towards one of the recurring figures of folk lore.

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The group’s first eponymous album released in 1970, was in some ways very similar to the work of Steeleye Span, but, consisted largely of original compositions, mainly by the Peggs, with a Dave Mason tune, ‘Little Woman,’ and the songs ‘Salisbury Plain’ and ‘Mr Trill’s Song’ with lyrics by Hutchings. The use of classically trained musicians and the wide variety of instruments used (including organ, melodeon, tin whistle, terrapin, fiddle, cello, flute, clarinet) made for very complex arrangements and sounds. It was well received by the music press and was made Melody Maker album of the year.[4]

Massey and Myatt left soon after the first album and the second, The Gipsy (1971), as a result, had less complex instrumentation, but more experimentation.[3] A more varied album than the first offering, it was also based around self-penned material, but included two traditional songs ‘The House Carpenter’ and the finale ‘All the Good Times’ on which the Gridley Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra guested.
Break-up and after

Single.jpgThe band had a reputation as an unpredictable live act, sometimes startlingly good and sometimes lacklustre. At the Loughborough Folk Festival in 1971 they were on the same bill as Steeleye Span and, while the latter put in a memorable performance, Mr Fox were on bad form and the band was heavily criticised in the press, an event often seen as a turning point in the band’s fortunes. Recordings made by the couple before the group was formed were released as He Came from the Mountain (1971), but by this point the Peggs’ marriage was already under strain. In 1972 Eden and Lyons quit to join Trees, and were replaced by guitarist Nick Strutt and Ritchie Bull on bass. When Carole left later that year the band dissolved.

Carole (as Carolanne Pegg) recorded an eponymous solo album in 1973, and briefly joined the band Magus before moving on to become a respected ethnomusicologist. Recordings of songs by Sydney Carter made by the Peggs before the band were formed were released as And Now it is So Early in 1973. Bob Pegg recorded two albums with Nick Strutt: Bob Pegg and Nick Strutt (1973) and The Shipbuilder (1974). He then made a solo album Ancient Maps (1975), before moving on to become an author, oral historian and entering theatre education. The band’s two albums were released as a double album set on vinyl in 1975 and on CD in 2004.

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Despite the comparisons with Steeleye Span, Mr Fox had a very distinctive style from contemporaneous British folk rock bands. They did not rely on electric guitars, but did use drums. They also used a very wide range of instruments, prefiguring some of the developments that would be undertaken by The Albion Band and Home Service. Carole Pegg had an unusual fiddle style, quite unlike Fairport’s Dave Swarbrick or Steeleye Span’s Peter Knight, based partly on what she had learnt from older Yorkshire fiddle players. They also used more complex, perhaps more staid, classical arrangements for their songs, leading one critic to note that their songs sounded, ‘as if they had been penned by Bartok’.

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The distinctive feature of their music was the dominance of self-penned songs drawing on the atmosphere and folklore of the Yorkshire Dales, often, like ‘The Hanged Man’ (the story of a lost fell walker coming to grief), sounding like modern day Child Ballads. One thing they lacked was an outstanding singer like Maddy Prior or Sandy Denny, with Carole Pegg’s vocals usually being perceived as eerie or atmospheric in their best moments, so much so that they have been described as ‘psychedelic’ (by wikipedia)

Mr. Fox was a septet formed in 1970 and started out with a self-titled debut album on Transatlantic that generated a massive amount of enthusiasm and controversy, over their mix of traditional folk forms and experimental touches in the rhythms and other embellishments. They were serious rivals to acts like Steeleye Span for a time.

Such a great album from the early days of British Folk ! Enjoy all the fine melodies and lyrics !

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Personnel:
Alun Eden (drums)
Barry Lyons (bass)
Andrew Massey (cello)
John Myatt (flute, clarinet, bassoon)
Bob Pegg (vocals, organ, melodeon, tin whistle, synstesizer)
Carole Pegg (vocals, fiddle)

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Tracklist:
01. Join Us In Our Game (B.Pegg/C.Pegg) 2.58
02. The Hanged Man (B.Pegg) 4.19
03. The Gay Goshawk (C.Pegg) 3.20
04. Rip Van Winkle (B.Pegg) 4.28
05. Mr. Trills Song (Hutchings) 2.56
06. Little Woman (Mason) 2.37
07. Salisbury Plain (B.Pegg/Hutchings) 5.22
08. The Ballad Of Neddy Dick (B.Pegg)
09. Leaving The Dales (B.Pegg) 3.36
10. Mr. Fox (B.Pegg) 4.40
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11. Mendle (C.Pegg) 7.12

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I got this rare item from Mr. Sleeve — and I had to say thanks again !

Savoy Brown – Raw Sienna (1970)

FrontCover1.jpgRaw Sienna is the fifth album by the band Savoy Brown.

It was recorded and released by Decca in the UK 1970 in both mono and stereo (LK/SKL 5043). For release in USA and Canada, tapes were leased to Parrot Records (London Records)—PAS 71036.

This high-water mark by the band finds them softening their rougher edges and stretching out into jazz territory, yet still retaining a blues foundation. There’s not a bad cut here, with enough variety (bottleneck slide, acoustic guitar, horns, and strings) to warrant frequent late-night listenings. “A Hard Way to Go,” “Needle and Spoon,” and “Stay While the Night Is Young” are especially strong, as are two instrumental numbers. Unfortunately, leader Kim Simmonds lost his greatest asset when vocalist Chris Youlden quit for an ill-fated solo career after this recording. Youlden had one of the most distinctive voices in British blues, and Savoy would never fully recover from his exit. (by Peter Kurtz)

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Here’s an excellent album of heavy piano and bass, some excellent Chicago brass which is for once not overused, and all merged into a good Kim Simmonds lead that can range around from Bike movie stuff to some verdant upper range fingering. It’s all woven around a hard, simple yet very together rhythmic frame — analytical verbiage for sounds which more than occasionally ignite to fuse into a genuinely new kind of sound that arises from its own synthesis. Terry Noonan’s arrangements for bass and string help unite what could have been very conflicting types of sound. Something of Mose Allison’s voice comes through. Remember Mose on “Needle and Spoon,” another anti-drug song? “I rise with the sun and sleep with the moon but I feel alright with my needle and spoon.” Never mind all that. The music is lots of fun by some people who deserve more recognition than they’ve received.(Jonathan Eisen, Circus, 7/70)

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Rising from the depths of the underground to the thick of the chart races, Savoy Brown bids for the top of the charts with another hot album and featured single “A Hard Way to Go.” Chris Youlden is a superfine rock/blues singer, and co-writes the group’s subtle, penetrating material. Never better, the outfit scores throughout, especially on “While the Night is Young” and “Needle and Spoon.” (Billboard, 1970)

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Personnel:
Roger Earl (drums, percussion)
“Lonesome” Dave Peverett (guitar, bottleneck guitar on 05.)
Kim Simmonds (guitar, piano on 02. + 03.)
Tone Stevens (bass)
Chris Youlden (vocals, piano on 04., 06. + 09.)
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brass + string section

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Tracklist:
01. A Hard Way To Go (Youlden) 2.25
02. That Same Feelin’ (Simmonds) 3.40
03. Master Hare (Simmonds) 4.54
04. Needle And Spoon (Youlden) 3.21
05. A Little More Wine (Youlden) 4.57
06. I’m Crying (Youlden) 4.21
07. Stay While The Night Is Young (Youlden) 3.11
08. Is That So (Simmonds) 7.44
09. When I Was A Young Boy (Youlden) 3.05

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Inlet

The Gunter Kallmann Choir – Christmas Sing In (1970)

FrontCover1At first glance, the Gunter Kallmann Chorus looks like a German version of the Ray Conniff Singers, all clean cut and smiling as they heartily sing out their phonetically precise English lyrics to international pop hits (“Moore then the grate-hest laaf I giff to Hugh”). Then you notice something odd, some annoying, persistent ambient noise. Like some leftover from a bad dub. You check the stereo. Still there. What the hell is that? It never goes away. God, it’s irritating. So much for this record. As you slip it back into the sleeve your eye catches some fine print beneath the words, “Gunter Kallmann Chorus”: “with Orchestra and Bells.”

Yes, Gunter Kallmann has the bright idea to accompany his cheery singers with a string orchestra and an ensemble of bell ringers. Throughout every number, the bells tinkle away in harmony to the melody. They never go away. It is possibly the most consistently irritating sound in the archives of space age pop, like a mosquito buzzing in your ear. Thousands of listeners in Germany and America must have liked it, because Gunter and his gang had several Top 10 hits in Germany, most notably “Elizabeth Serenade,” also known as “Serenade for Elizabeth.”

Hot on the heels of Horst Jankowski’s international success with “A Walk in the Black Forest,” Kapp Records when looking for a Horst sound-alike and snatched up the next German choral/instrumental group that was lying around without an American distribution contract. They didn’t have quite the same level of success as Mercury did with Jankowski, but somebody must have bought the records, because Kapp went on to release at least nine albums between 1965 and 1970. (by spaceagepop.com)

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Frontcover from Spain

This album, in a nutshell, is an experience!

The chorus sings their heart out, complete with German accents and tones. In the middle of one medley, the chorus sings the soft, reverent tones of “Silent Night”, then burst into “Ding Dong Merrily On High” with all the force of an oompah band!

The orchestra swings, one moment lush and full of strings, then getting down and funky with the bassline coming across loud and clear. Throughout most of the album, the arrangements tend to favor the orchestra member on glockenspiel, chimes, or bells. It’s cute at times, annoying most of the time. By the end of the album, you want to shove those bells down someone throat.

The standout track is song number one – “We Wish You A Merry Christmas / Jingle Bells / Where Did My Snowman Go?”. “We Wish You” begins in a rather Teutonic way, then switches into smooth 70s mode. It then switches into a bells blazin’ version of “Jingle” only to be followed by a funky cover of “Where Did My Snowman”. It’s a mini opera and sets the tone for the rest of the album handsomely.

Other favorite tracks on this album include “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer / Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”, “Once In Royal David’s City / The Holly And The Ivy” is an epic, “Happy Holiday / I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”, and “Mistletoe And Holly / Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow”. (by christmasyuleblog.blogspot.com)

And some tracks were arranged by Mike Vickers … oh yes, the guy who played for many years with Manfred Mann.

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Alternate frontcover

Personnel: 
The Gunter Kallmann Choir

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Tracklist:

01. Medley 01: (3:43)
01.1. We Wish You A Merry Christmas
01.2. Jingle Bells
01.3. Where Did My Snowman Go

02. Medley 02: (2:47)
02.1. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer
02.2. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

03. Medley 03: (3:27)
03.01. The First Noel
03.02. Silent Night
03.03. Ding Dong Merrily On High

04. Medley 04: (2:54)
04.1. The Little Drummer Boy
04.2. December Dream

05. Medley 05: (3:23)
05.01. Winter Wonderland
05.02. The Season Of Winter

06. Medley 06: (2:50)
06.01. One In Royal David’s City
06.02. The Holly And The Ivy

07. Medley 07: (3:23)
07.01. While The Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night
07.02. Away In A Manger
07.03. Good King Wenceslas

08. Medley 08: (2:32)
08.01. Happy Holiday/
08.02. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

09. Medley 09: (3:07)
09.01. Little Donkey
09.02. Do You Hear What I Hear

10. Medley 10: (2:32)
10.1. Mistletoe And Holly
10..2. Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

11. Medley 11: (2:59)
11.1. Christmas Alphabet
11.2. White Christmas

12. Medley 12: (4:32)
12.1. Oh Come All Ye Faithful
12.2. God Rest Ye
12.3. Hark The Herald Angels Sing

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Joe Pass – Intercontinental (1970)

FrontCover1.jpgIntercontinental is an album by jazz guitarist Joe Pass that was released in 1970. The album is a collection of mainly swing and Latin jazz standards with the exception of the country/pop hit “Ode to Billie Joe”. A highlight of the album is “Joe’s Blues”, a fine example of Joe’s musical range, taste and splendid technique. Pass, a virtuoso solo performer, seems quite at ease within the guitar/bass/drums trio format. His signature chord melody style, interspersed seamlessly with bebop and swing single note lines, is heard throughout. Drummer Kenny Clare and bassist Eberhard Weber do a fine job respectively. This album is notable as a rare example of Eberhard Weber playing straight-ahead bass on covers of standards. (by wikipedia)

Joe Pass recorded almost exclusively for American record labels during his long career, so this 1973 studio date for BASF is a rare exception. With bassist Eberhard Weber and drummer Kenny Clare’s brushwork, the legendary guitarist plays a half dozen or so standards, including gently swinging takes of “Chloe” and “Stompin’ at the Savoy,” a soft arrangement of Jobim’s Meditation,” and a very lively version of “I Love You” (also featuring solos by his rhythm section).

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Alternate front + back cover

He also improvises the tasty “Joe’s Blue’s,” plays a light samba written by the session’s recording director (“El Gento”), puts some life into the normally tame 1960s pop hit “Ode to Billie Joe” by playing it in a Latin groove, and concludes with the very familiar standard from the Count Basie songbook, “Lil’ Darlin’,” which he must have performed hundreds of times during his career. While his playing is rather reserved compared to his later extensive recordings for Pablo, and this release is by no means near the top of the late guitarist’s considerable discography as a leader or soloist, fans of Joe Pass who listen to this set won’t be disappointed. (by Ken Dryden)

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Personnel:
Kenny Clare (drums)
Joe Pass (guitar)
Eberhard Weber (bass)

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Tracklist:
01. Chlo-e (Kahn/Moret) 5.21
02. Meditation (Jobim/Mendonça/Gimbel) 5.22
03. I Cover The Waterfront (Green/Heyman) 4.07
04. I Love You (Porter) 4.57
05. Stompin’ At The Savoy (Goodman/Razaf/Sampson/Webb) 4.17
06. Watch What Happens (Legrand) 5.15
07. Joe’s Blues (Pass) 5.53
08. El Gento (Fruth) 4.02
09. Ode To Billie Joe (Gentry) 3.26
10. Lil’ Darlin’ (Hefti) 3.41

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John Williams – Spanish Guitar Music (1990)

FrontCover1.jpgAll of the music on this disc was recorded for Columbia Records between 1964 and 1970 for release on four different LP albums. These are those albums:

COLUMBIA RECORDS PRESENTS JOHN WILLIAMS (1964)
VIRTUOSO MUSIC FOR GUITAR (1965)
MORE VIRTUOSO MUSIC FOR GUITAR (1967)
JOHN WILLIAMS PLAYS SPANISH MUSIC (1970)

This compilation is something of a classic of acoustic guitar playing. John Williams’ virtuoso technique and talent for bringing forth a wide swathe of sounds from the guitar make it immediately obvious why it has this reputation.

Certain moments astound. For example, a passage at the end of Manuel De Falla’s “The Miller’s Dance” (track10) left me agog. Williams is able to delineate and fully play both melody and accompaniment using different timbres for each. My guess is that he was using his left hand to play the arpeggio accompaniment on the fretboard while with the same hand dampening the strings for the melody in the treble. Very impressive.

Williams is a cerebral player; he doesn’t bring passion and drama to the music. His style is about different timbres and precision. The disc opens with what is probably the single most famous piece for classical guitar, “Asturias” by Isaac Albeniz. Williams presents a fine performance, but it doesn’t have the wild Flamenco passion others bring to the music. Instead it is precise and planned and impeccably articulated. The sole item by a non-Spanish author, the Brazilian Hector Villa-Lobos’ 4th Prelude (track 19), also deserves mention as one of the strongest parts of the disc. The Prelude calls for a variety of different touches, including some high “martellato” touches brilliantly done by Williams.

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The collection includes everything from Renaissance and Baroque to postwar compositions. The content is uneven. I found tracks such as “El Colilbri” and those by Manual De Falla not all that interesting musically. Another drawback this release has is insufficient documentation about the sessions themselves. It’s clear from how it sounds that Albeniz’s “Cordoba” (track 15) was recorded at a different time than some of the others. Whatever its provenance, I found “Cordoba” to be one of the disc’s highlights, amply displaying Williams’ tremendous gifts. The music is presented with a wide range of timbres and articulations, reaching from the bottom to the top of the instrument’s range, all done with exacting precision.

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The sound engineering is generally very good, important for a performer like Williams. Williams’ art isn’t for those who insist on passion and emotion in their playing, but he is justly renowned for his technique and the different sounds he elicits from the guitar. A memorable recording. Highly recommended. (by jt52)

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Personnel:
John Williams (guitar)
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English Chamber Orchestra conducted by Sir Charles Groves (on 06. + 18.)

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Tracklist:
01. Asturias (Albéniz) .20
02. Tango (Albéniz) 2.49
03. Canarios (Sanz) 1.23
04. Fandango (Rodrigo) 3.45
05. Nocturno (Torróba) 3.32
06. El Colibri (Sagreras) 1.14
07. Sonata In D (Albéniz) 3.13
08. The Corregidor’s Dance (de Falla) 1.49
09. Fisherman’s Song (de Falla) 2.29
10. The Miller’s Dance (de Falla) 2.21
11. Madroños (Torróba) 2.47
12. La Nit De Nadal (Traditional) 1.11
13. El Noy De La Mare (Traditional) 2.27
14. La Maya De Goya (Granados) 3.43
15. Cordoba (Albéniz) 6.43
16. Recuerdos de la Alhambra (Tárrega) 3.33
17. Spanish Dance No. 5 (Granados) 4.21
18. El Testamen de Amelia (Traditiional) 2.13
19. Prelude No. 4 In E Minor (Villa-Lobos) 3.26
20. Sevilla (Albéniz) 4.32
21. Homanaje (de Falla) 3.32
22. Fantasía (Mudarra) 1.43
23. Fandanguillo, Op. 36 (Turina) 4.40

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John Christopher Williams, OBE (born 24 April 1941) is an Australian virtuosic classical guitarist renowned for his ensemble playing as well as his interpretation and promotion of the modern classical guitar repertoire. In 1973, he shared a Grammy Award in the Best Chamber Music Performance category with fellow guitarist Julian Bream for Julian and John (Works by Lawes, Carulli, Albéniz, Granados). Guitar historian Graham Wade has said: “John is perhaps the most technically accomplished guitarist the world has seen.” (by wikipedia)

Bo Diddley – The Black Gladiator (1970)

FrontCover1.jpgSans, say, drugs, the closest you’ll ever come to hearing an album again for the first time is through the ears of another – i.e. their reaction. In this case the album in question is Bo Diddley’s 1970 psych-funk monster, The Black Gladiator – the ears on loan from my wife. While spinning the new Light In The Attic Records reissue en route to pick her up, she stepped into the car just as “Funky Fly’ was fading out – seconds before “I Don’t Like You” kicks in. If you’ve never had the pleasure, the most efficient way to describe the track is surrealist operatic-r&b-funk. Truly. It also holds the distinction as one the first recorded appearances of the Dozens. Some choice examples: “you gonna play football and get kicked” and, my personal favorite, “you gonna play mountain and get climbed on” – to which Diddley lasciviously retorts “start climbing, baybeh.” Touche’. My wife’s reaction to the album was something akin to “this is Bo Diddley??” and in an instant I suddenly heard it again for the catalog outlier it is.

Born Ellas Otha Bates, Diddley unloaded The Black Gladiator on the masses in 1970. A fuzzed out, funked out gutbucket of psychedelic garage, it’s one of Bo Diddley’s strangest full-lengths. It may also be his most fun. Like Muddy Waters‘ Electric Mud, and Howlin’ Wolf’s dogshit album, Diddley’s Gladiator was largely met with confusion and derision at the time of its release. Contextually, it’s important to note that just a couple of years prior Diddley was still performing chestnuts like “Road Runner” and cutting standard blues sides with the likes of Little Walter, Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf. In that respect The Black Gladiator came off like the left-field discography oddity that it is. Here, 40 years later, that same sound is anything but. Taking the long view, Gladiator stands tall next to sounds as similar and disparate as Black Merda, early Funkadelic, Sly Stone and (insert another dozen examples of your own here). And that’s just considering the seventies.

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It was four years between the release of Bo’s last album of all-new cuts, 500% More Man, and this album, during which time he’d spent time recording with Chess’ top bluesmen, Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf. The death of Leonard Chess in October of 1969 resulted in the sale of the label to the GRT corporation, and cost the company what little artistic guidance it had. The result was The Black Gladiator, an attempt to reshape Bo into a funk artist, in the manner of Sly and the Family Stone. As an experiment it’s understandable, and Bo tries very hard (even making another song-length sexual boast on “You, Bo Diddley,” which also ends with a great guitar/organ duet between Bo and Bobby Alexis), but he finally fails to find a groove that works. Despite some good guitar here and there, this record falls into the same category as Muddy’s Electric Mud and After the Rain albums, and Howlin’ Wolf’s New Album, all of which attempted to transform each into a psychedelic rocker. “Power House” is a pretty good cut, using a modified Muddy Waters-“I’m a Man”/”Mannish Boy” beat and lyrics. Much of the rest is for absolute completists only, however. (by Bruce Eder)

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Personnel:
Bobby Alexis (organ)
Bo Diddley (vocals, guitar)
Clifton James (drums)
Chester Lindsey (bass)
Cookie Vee (tambourine, vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. Elephant Man 4.33
02. You, Bo Diddley 3.19
03. Black Soul 2.52
04. Power House 2.54
05. If The Bible’s Right 3.12
06. I’ve Got A Feeling 2.50
07. Shut Up, Woman 3.48
08. Hot Buttered Blues 3.59
09. Funky Fly 3.13
10. I Don’t Like You 3.09

All songs written by  Cornelia Redmond – Bobby Alexis & Kay McDanial

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