Lynyrd Skynyrd – Second Helping (1974)

FrontCover1.jpgSecond Helping is the second studio album by Lynyrd Skynyrd, released April 15, 1974. It featured the band’s biggest hit single, “Sweet Home Alabama,” an answer song to Neil Young’s “Alabama” and “Southern Man”.[2] The song reached #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in August 1974. This L.P. was the last to feature Bob Burns on drums.

The album reached #12 on the Billboard album charts. It was certified Gold on September 20, 1974, Platinum and 2x Platinum on July 21, 1987 by the RIAA.

After the success of debut (Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd), Lynyrd Skynyrd’s fan base continued to grow rapidly throughout 1973, largely due to their opening slot on the Who’s Quadrophenia tour in the United States. Second Helping features King, Collins and Rossington all collaborating with Ronnie Van Zant on the songwriting, and cemented the band’s breakthrough.

Reviewing for Rolling Stone in 1974, Gordon Fletcher said Lynyrd Skynyrd performs a consistent style of Southern music-influenced blues rock similar to the Allman Brothers Band but lacks that group’s “sophistication and professionalism. If a song doesn’t feel right to the Brothers, they work on it until it does; if it isn’t right to Lynyrd Skynyrd, they are more likely to crank up their amps and blast their way through the bottleneck.” Fletcher concluded that Second Helping is distinct from (Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd) “only by a certain mellowing out that indicates they may eventually acquire a level of savoirfaire to realize their many capabilities”. Robert Christgau was also lukewarm in Creem, saying Lynyrd Skynyrd is “still a substantial, tasteful band, but I have a hunch they blew their best stuff on the first platter.”

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Christgau warmed to the album later, however, reappraising it in Christgau’s Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies (1981); he observed “infectious putdowns of rock businessmen, rock journalists, and heroin”, and “great formula” in general: “When it rocks, three guitarists and a keyboard player pile elementary riffs and feedback noises into dense combinations broken by preplanned solos, while at quieter moments the spare vocabulary of the best Southern folk music is evoked or just plain duplicated. Houston Press named it in #2 on its list “Five Essential Boogie-Rock Albums.” (by wikipedia)

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Lynyrd Skynyrd wrote the book on Southern rock with their first album, so it only made sense that they followed it for their second album, aptly titled Second Helping. Sticking with producer Al Kooper (who, after all, discovered them), the group turned out a record that replicated all the strengths of the original, but was a little tighter and a little more professional. It also revealed that the band, under the direction of songwriter Ronnie Van Zant, was developing a truly original voice. Of course, the band had already developed their own musical voice, but it was enhanced considerably by Van Zant’s writing, which was at turns plainly poetic, surprisingly clever, and always revealing. Though Second Helping isn’t as hard a rock record as Pronounced, it’s the songs that make the record. “Sweet Home Alabama” became ubiquitous, yet it’s rivaled by such terrific songs as the snide, punkish “Workin’ for MCA,” the Southern groove of “Don’t Ask Me No Questions,” the affecting “The Ballad of Curtis Loew,” and “The Needle and the Spoon,” a drug tale as affecting as their rival Neil Young’s “Needle and the Damage Done,” but much harder rocking. This is the part of Skynyrd that most people forget — they were a great band, but they were indelible because that was married to great writing. And nowhere was that more evident than on Second Helping. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)

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Personnel:
Bob Burns (drums)
Allen Collins (guitar)
Ed King (guitar, background vocals, bass on 02. + 03.)
Billy Powell (keyboards)
Gary Rossington (guitar)
Leon Wilkeson (bass, background vocals)
Ronnie Van Zant (vocals)
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Al Kooper (piano,  background vocals on 03. + 05.)
Mike Porter (drums on 02.)
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horns on 03. + 08.:
Bobby Keys – Trevor Lawrence – Steve Madaio
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background vocals on 01.:
Merry Clayton – Clydie King – Sherlie Matthews

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Tracklist:
01. Sweet Home Alabama (King/Rossington /Van Zant) 4.44
02. I Need You (King/Rossington /Van Zant) 6.55
03. Don’t Ask Me No Questions (Rossington/Van Zant) 3.27
04. Workin’ for MCA (King/Van Zant) 4.50
05. The Ballad Of Curtis Loew (Collins/Van Zant) 4.51
06. Swamp Music (King/Van Zant) 3.31
07. The Needle And The Spoon (Collins/Van Zant) 3.53
08. Call Me The Breeze (Cale) 5.07

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Ronnie Van Zant
Ronnie Van Zant (January 15, 1948 – October 20, 1977)

Big wheels keep on turning
Carry me home to see my kin
Singing songs about the Southland
I miss Alabamy once again
And I think its a sin, yes

Well I heard mister Young sing about her
Well, I heard ole Neil put her down
Well, I hope Neil Young will remember
A Southern man don’t need him around anyhow

Sweet home Alabama
Where the skies are so blue
Sweet Home Alabama
Lord, I’m coming home to you

In Birmingham they love the governor
Now we all did what we could do
Now Watergate does not bother me
Does your conscience bother you?
Tell the truth

Sweet home Alabama
Where the skies are so blue
Sweet Home Alabama
Lord, I’m coming home to you
Here I come Alabama

Now Muscle Shoals has got the Swampers
And they’ve been known to pick a song or two
Lord they get me off so much
They pick me up when I’m feeling blue
Now how about you?

Sweet home Alabama
Where the skies are so blue
Sweet Home Alabama
Lord, I’m coming home to you

Sweet home Alabama
Oh sweet home baby
Where the skies are so blue
And the governor’s true
Sweet Home Alabama
Lordy
Lord, I’m coming home to you
Yea, yea Montgomery’s got the answer

Les Dudek Band – KSA Record Plant (1974)

FrontCover1.jpgLes Dudek (born August 2, 1952, at Naval Air Station, Quonset Point, Rhode Island, United States) is an American guitarist, singer and songwriter.

In addition to his solo material, Dudek has played guitar with Steve Miller Band, The Dudek-Finnigan-Krueger Band, Stevie Nicks, Cher, Boz Scaggs, The Allman Brothers Band, as well as Maria Muldaur, Bobby Whitlock, Mike Finnigan, Jim Krueger and Dave Mason.

This section of a biography of a living person does not include any references or sources. Please help by adding reliable sources. Contentious material about living people that is unsourced or poorly sourced must be removed immediately.
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Les Dudek01Les Dudek’s father, Harold, was born in Campbell, Nebraska, and was a World War II veteran in the United States Navy. His mother, Alma, born in Brooklyn, was a former Radio City Music Hall Rockette. Les has one older sister, Sandy, who was born in Brooklyn. The family is of Czech, German, Italian, and Russian ancestry. Six years after Les was born, his father retired from the Navy and the family moved to Florida where he grew up.

The Beatles caught Dudek’s ear at an early age. In 1962, at the age of ten, Les asked his parents for a guitar for Christmas. They bought him an acoustic guitar from Sears & Roebuck. His musical influences, along with The Beatles, were Cream, Jimi Hendrix, and The Ventures. He had built quite a reputation around the Florida area as a proficient guitar player, having started playing in local bands as a teenager. Those bands were “The United Sounds”, “Blue Truth” and “Power”. That reputation would place him in the studio with the Allman Brothers Band for the recording of the Brothers & Sisters album. He played guitar harmonies with Dickey Betts on the well-known song “Ramblin’ Man” and acoustic guitar on “Jessica”.[1][4] In Alan Paul’s book, One Way Out: The Inside History of the Allman Brothers Band, Dudek claimed to have written the part in “Jessica” from when it modulated into G then eventually back to A.

Les Dudek02His next stops were as a guitarist for Boz Scaggs and The Steve Miller Band. Dudek was invited to play with Journey,[citation needed] but he had received an offer to record for Columbia Records as a solo artist. He recorded four solo albums for Columbia Records, Les Dudek, Say No More, Ghost Town Parade and Gypsy Ride. He had two minor hits with “City Magic” and “Old Judge Jones” which were played frequently on local radio stations in the Los Angeles, California area, where he lived at the time, having moved to West Hollywood in the mid-1970s.

He later collaborated with Cher, Stevie Nicks, and with two other Columbia artists, Mike Finnigan and Jim Krueger, with whom he formed The Dudek Finnigan Krueger Band in 1978. A DFKB album was released by Columbia Records a year later.

Between the years 1979 and 1982, Les and Cher had a personal as well as professional relationship. Dudek wrote and performed some of the music for the 1984 movie Mask starring Cher, Sam Elliott, Eric Stoltz, and Laura Dern. He had a small part in the film as “Boner”, a biker.[8] Dudek also appeared in the TV movie, Streets of Justice (1985). He has worked for NBC, ABC, ESPN, Fox Sports, and E! Entertainment Television. He can be heard on many television series including Friends.

In 1985, Dudek played guitar with Stevie Nicks on her album, Rock a Little, and undertook her subsequent tour.

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In 1989, he did a brief stint with Canadian rock group John Kay & Steppenwolf as their guitarist. But problems developed between Dudek and Kay which led to him leave the band after a month of touring.

Two more solo albums later, Deeper Shades Of Blues (1994) and Freestyle, Dudek hit the road again with his own band, and has been performing songs from all his records, plus a few hits he has recorded with other artists.

In 2013, he released another solo album, Delta Breeze. (by wikipedia)

After touring with Boz Scaggs and Steve Miller in 1973-74, Miller asked Dudek to join his band so Dudek moved to California. He formed Polar Bear with members of the Steve Miller and Boz Scaggs bands. They did some demos for Warner Brothers who passed. Dudek was then invited to the first Journey rehearsal to audition. On the same day, he was offered a solo contract by Columbia Records and he chose Columbia. In addition to his solo material, Dudek has played guitar with The Dudek-Finnigan-Krueger Band, Stevie Nicks, Cher, The Allman Brothers Band, as well as Maria Muldaur, Bobby Whitlock, Mike Finnigan and Dave Mason. (b-igo)

These recordings are from The Record Plant – Sausalito, California, when Les was playing with a band called Polar Bear. This was a live in the studio setting, I guess. The source seems to have been a cassette tape, so it’s a little slurry sounding at times. But not that bad. Not hardly bad enough to spoil the fun of hearing Les doing Les before we knew of him. Knowing that, it’s actually quite a nice sounding recording. (http://skydogselysium.blogspot.com)

Thanks to Dowling for sharing the KSAN broadcast at The Traders’ Den.

Recorded live at the Record Plant, Sausalito, CA; November 10, 1974.
Fairly to very good KSAN FM.

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Personnel:
Les Dudek – guitar
Gerald Johnson – bass
Joachim Young – keyboards
Billy Meeker – drums

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Tracklist:
01. Jam (Dudek/Johnson/Young/Meeker) 7.29
02. Time To Pick It (unknown) 5.48
03. Take The Time (Dudek) 5.37
04. Band intro / Sarah (unknown) 6.12
05. Bulldog’s Groove (unknown) 7.56
06. Avatar (Dudek) 7.55
07. Time Out 5:55

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Les Dudek today

Papa John Creach & Zulu – Playing My Fiddle For You (1974)

FrontCover1.jpgJohn Henry Creach (May 28, 1917 – February 22, 1994), better known as Papa John Creach, was an American blues violinist, who has also played classical, jazz, be-bop, R&B, pop and acid rock music. Early in his career, he performed as a journeyman musician with such luminaries as Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller, Stuff Smith, Charlie Christian, Big Joe Turner, T-Bone Walker, Nat King Cole and Roy Milton.

Following his rediscovery by drummer Joey Covington in 1967, he fronted a variety of bands (including Zulu and Midnight Sun) in addition to playing with Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna, Jefferson Starship, the San Francisco All-Stars (1979–1984), The Dinosaurs (1982–1989) and Steve Taylor.

Creach recorded a number of solo albums and guested at several Grateful Dead and Charlie Daniels Band concerts. He was a regular guest at the early annual Volunteer Jams, hosted by Charlie Daniels, which exposed him to a new audience that was receptive to fiddle players.

Creach was born at Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. As a child, he was introduced to the violin by an uncle, and he received both tutoring in the instrument and conservatory training. He began playing violin in Chicago bars after his family moved there in 1935, and also did some symphonic work when he was in his early 20s, which was unusual for a black musician at the time. At one point, he joined a local cabaret trio called the Chocolate Music Bars, and toured the Midwest with them.

PapaJohnCreach02According to Creach, knowing how to play in a variety of style was a necessity to survive as a musician in Chicago at the time:

[B]ecause of all the nationalities [there], I had to learn to play everything. At some jobs it was strictly German music, or Polish. Now, they used to dance and knock holes in the floor.

He had some difficulty in learning to play jazz violin, having to adjust his bowing technique, but was helped when he purchased an electric violin in 1943.

Moving to Los Angeles in 1945, he played in the Chi Chi Club, worked on an ocean liner for five years,[2] appeared in several films, including with Nat King Cole in Fritz Lang’s The Blue Gardenia, and performed as a duo with Nina Russell.

Creach initially met and befriended drummer Joey Covington at a union hiring hall in Los Angeles in 1967. When Covington joined Jefferson Airplane in 1970, he introduced Creach to them. In the fall of 1970, he was invited to join both Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna, Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady’s side band. He remained with both groups while also recording and touring as a solo artist for Jefferson Airplane’s Grunt Records. During this period, his backing band Zulu included guitarist Keb’ Mo’.

Creach left Hot Tuna in 1973, but remained on board when Jefferson Airplane was reorganized as Jefferson Starship in 1974. He toured and recorded with Jefferson Starship from 1974 to 1975, a period that included platinum selling album Red Octopus (1975). In August 1975, Creach left the band to focus on his solo career. Nevertheless, he remained on amicable terms with the group and briefly returned as a touring member for the band’s spring 1978 engagements.

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A year later, Creach renewed his working relationship with Covington as a member of the San Francisco All-Stars. He also performed with Covington’s Airplane predecessor Spencer Dryden as a member of The Dinosaurs. Creach continued to make occasional guest appearances with Hot Tuna. He was performing with them at the Fillmore Auditorium in 1988 when Jack Casady and Jorma Kaukonen of Hot Tuna reunited with Paul Kantner and Grace Slick for the first time on stage since 1972.

In 1992, Creach joined Kantner as a member of the relaunched Jefferson Starship and performed with them until he succumbed to congestive heart failure on February 22, 1994. A heart condition had been causing bouts of pneumonia from continual fluid build-up in his lungs. He was 76.

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Jefferson Starship performed a benefit concert to raise money for his family after his death, and released tracks from their performances as the album Deep Space/Virgin Sky.

Playing My Fiddle for You is Papa John Creach’s third solo album and his last with Grunt Records. All the songs on the album are played with the supporting band Zulu, featuring Kevin Moore who would later be known as Keb’ Mo’. After this album, the supporting band changed their name to Midnight Sun. (by wikipedia)

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Fronting a six-piece band called Zulu, Papa John Creach produces a set of R&B, jump blues, ballads, and rock. A horn section augments the proceedings, as Creach and Zulu take on an instrumental version of “Milk Train” co-written by Grace Slick and featured on the 1972 Jefferson Airplane album Long John Silver and the similarly soaring “String Jet Continues.” But “I Miss You So” is an old pop ballad, “Golden Dreams” is an airy instrumental, and “Playing My Music” is Creach’s autobiography-in-song. A varied collection. (by William Ruhlmann)

And “String Jet Continues” is a perfect jam number from this decade.

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Personnel:
Papa John Creach (violin, vocals)
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Zulu;
Carl Byrd (drums, percussion, vocals)
Kevin Moore (guitar)
Johnny Parker (clavinet, organ, celeste, vocals)
Holden Raphael (congas, percussion, harmonica)
Sam Williams (bass)

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Tracklist:
01. Friendly Possibilities (Byrd/Parker/Raphael/Moore/Williams) 4.06
02. Milk Train (Slick/Creach/Spotts) 3.05
03. I Miss You So (Henderson/Scott/Robin) 3.36
04. Playing My Music () 3.44
05. String Jet Continues (Creach) 7.49
06. Git It Up (Creach/Byrd/Parker/Raphael/Moore/Williams) 2.56
07. Gretchen (Creach/Byrd/Parker/Raphael/Moore/Williams) 3.50
08. One Sweet Song (Byrd/Parker/Raphael/Moore/Williams) 4.16
09. Golden Dreams (Byrd/Parker/Raphael/Moore/Williams) 3.12

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John Henry Creach (May 28, 1917 – February 22, 1994)

James Cotton Band – 100% Cotton (1974)

FrontCover1.JPGJames Henry Cotton (July 1, 1935 – March 16, 2017)[1] was an American blues harmonica player, singer and songwriter, who performed and recorded with many of the great blues artists of his time and with his own band. He played drums early in his career but is famous for his harmonica playing.

Cotton began his professional career playing the blues harp in Howlin’ Wolf’s band in the early 1950s. He made his first recordings in Memphis for Sun Records, under the direction of Sam Phillips. In 1955, he was recruited by Muddy Waters to come to Chicago and join his band. Cotton became Waters’s bandleader and stayed with the group until 1965. In 1965 he formed the Jimmy Cotton Blues Quartet, with Otis Spann on piano, to record between gigs with the Muddy Waters band. He eventually left to form his own full-time touring group. His first full album, on Verve Records, was produced by the guitarist Mike Bloomfield and the singer and songwriter Nick Gravenites, who later were members of the band Electric Flag.

In the 1970s, Cotton played harmonica on Muddy Waters’ Grammy Award–winning 1977 album Hard Again, produced by Johnny Winter

James Cotton04Cotton was born in Tunica, Mississippi. He became interested in music when he first heard Sonny Boy Williamson II on the radio. He left home with his uncle and moved to West Helena, Arkansas, finding Williamson there. For many years Cotton claimed that he told Williamson that he was an orphan and that Williamson took him in and raised him, a story he admitted in recent years is not true. However, Williamson did mentor Cotton during his early years. Williamson left the South to live with his estranged wife in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, leaving his band in Cotton’s hands. Cotton was quoted as saying, “He just gave it to me. But I couldn’t hold it together ’cause I was too young and crazy in those days an’ everybody in the band was grown men, so much older than me.”

Cotton played drums early in his career but is famous for his harmonica playing. He began his professional career playing the blues harp in Howlin’ Wolf’s band in the early 1950s.[3] He made his first recordings as a solo artist for Sun Records in Memphis in 1953.[3] In 1954, he recorded an electric blues single “Cotton Crop Blues”, which featured a heavily distorted power chord–driven electric guitar solo by Pat Hare.[6] Cotton began working with the Muddy Waters Band around 1955.[3] He performed songs such as “Got My Mojo Working” and “She’s Nineteen Years Old”, although he did not play on the original recordings; Little Walter, Waters’s long-time harmonica player, played for most of Waters’s recording sessions in the 1950s. Cotton’s first recording session with Waters took place in June 1957, and he alternated with Little Walter on Waters’s recording sessions until the end of the decade.

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In 1965 he formed the Jimmy Cotton Blues Quartet, with Otis Spann on piano, to record between gigs with Waters’s band. Their performances were captured by producer Samuel Charters on volume two of the Vanguard recording Chicago/The Blues/Today! After leaving Waters’s band in 1966, Cotton toured with Janis Joplin while pursuing a solo career.[3] He formed the James Cotton Blues Band in 1967. The band mainly performed its own arrangements of popular blues and R&B from the 1950s and 1960s. Cotton’s band included a horn section, like that of Bobby Bland’s. After Bland’s death, his son told news media that Bland had recently discovered that Cotton was his half-brother.

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In the 1970s, Cotton recorded several albums for Buddah Records. He played harmonica on Waters’s Grammy Award–winning 1977 album Hard Again, produced by Johnny Winter. In the 1980s he recorded for Alligator Records in Chicago; he rejoined the Alligator roster in 2010. The James Cotton Blues Band received a Grammy nomination in 1984 for Live from Chicago: Mr. Superharp Himself!, on Alligator, and a second for his 1987 album Take Me Back, on Blind Pig Records. He was awarded a Grammy for Best Traditional Blues Album for Deep in the Blues in 1996. Cotton appeared on the cover of the July–August 1987 issue of Living Blues magazine (number 76). He was featured in the same publication’s 40th anniversary issue of August–September 2010.

In 2006, Cotton was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame at a ceremony conducted by the Blues Foundation in Memphis. He has won or shared ten Blues Music Awards.

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Cotton battled throat cancer in the mid-1990s, but he continued to tour, using singers or members of his backing band as vocalists. On March 10, 2008, he and Ben Harper performed at the induction of Little Walter into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, playing “Juke” and “My Babe” together; the induction ceremony was broadcast nationwide on VH1 Classic. On August 30, 2010, Cotton was the special guest on Larry Monroe’s farewell broadcast of Blue Monday, which he hosted on radio station KUT in Austin, Texas, for nearly 30 years.

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Cotton’s studio album Giant, released by Alligator Records in late September 2010, was nominated for a Grammy Award. His album Cotton Mouth Man, released by Alligator on May 7, 2013, was also a Grammy nominee. It includes guest appearances by Gregg Allman, Joe Bonamassa, Ruthie Foster, Delbert McClinton, Warren Haynes, Keb Mo, Chuck Leavell and Colin Linden. Cotton played harmonica on “Matches Don’t Burn Memories” on the debut album by the Dr. Izzy Band, Blind & Blues Bound, released in June 2013.[13] In 2014, Cotton won a Blues Music Award for Traditional Male Blues Artist and was also nominated in the category Best Instrumentalist – Harmonica.

Cotton’s touring band includes the guitarist and vocalist Tom Holland, the vocalist Darrell Nulisch, the bassist Noel Neal (brother of the blues guitarist and harmonica player Kenny Neal) and the drummer Jerry Porter.
Death
Cotton died of pneumonia on March 16, 2017, at the age of 81, at a medical center in Austin, Texas and was buried on July 11, 2017 in Texas State Cemetery in Austin. (by wikipedia)

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And here´s one of his great albums from the Seventies:

The ebullient, roly-poly Chicago harp wizard was at his zenith in 1974, when this cooking album was issued on Buddah. Matt “Guitar” Murphy matched Cotton note for zealous note back then, leading to fireworks aplenty on the non-stop “Boogie Thing,” a driving “How Long Can a Fool Go Wrong,” and the fastest “Rocket 88” you’ll ever take a spin in. (by Bill Dahl)

Released in 1974, this LP is one of Cotton’s best ! His band is smokin’ hot on every tune with Mat Murphy ( guitar ) in his finest form.
When this was released , I was on a roadtrip to San Francisco and the radio stations were playing different cuts off it all week long .
And a lot of billboards up there had James Cotton ads on them .
Back in the late 60’s , during the heyday of the Fillmore auditorium , Cotton’s Blues Band was probably the #1 concert attraction…. hands down ! (by Michael Schoppmeyer)

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James Cotton is another of those blues artists that deserves much wider recognition. He has recorded and played live close to 60 years. I was fortunate enough to meet him in the mid 1970’s when he was touring. I was an immature, drunk idiot yet he treated me graciously like the true gentleman that he is. The music on 100% Cotton is modern blues that is always grounded in the delta (where he was born – in Tunica, Mississippi, in 1935). He learned harp listening to Sonny Boy Williamson, backed Muddy Waters in the late 1950’s following Little Walter Jacobs. James Cotton has recorded some remarkable albums. It’s a shame that his 1971 album ‘Taking Care of Business’ has never been released on CD. It was produced by Todd Rundgren (who contributes some excellent guitar work) with guest appearances by Johnny Winter and Mike Bloomfield. It’s a further example of the high caliber of work that James Cotton has always put forth…from his first Sun recordings in the late 1940’s, and thankfully up to now. (by ZolarCzakl)

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Personnel:
Little Bo (saxophone)
Charles Calmese (bass)
James Cotton (vocals, harmonica)
Kenny Johnson (drums)
Mat Murphy (guitar)
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Lenny Baker (saxophone on 02.)
Phil Jekanowski (piano on 01.)

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Tracklist:
01. Boogie Thing (Murphy) 3.22
02. One More Mile (Cotton) 2.39
03. All Walks Of Life (Cotton) 2.28
04. Creepers Creeps Again (Cotton) 6.58
05. Rocket 88 (Brenston) 2.34
06. How Long Can A Fool Go Wrong (Cotton) 4.08
07. I Don’t Know (Mabon) 2.49
08. Burner (Murphy) 3.50
09. Fatuation (Cotton) 3.30
10. Fever (Cooley/Davenport) 5.13

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James Henry Cotton (July 1, 1935 – March 16, 2017)

Eric Clapton – E.C. Was Here (1975)

FrontCover1.JPGE. C. Was Here is a 1975 album by Eric Clapton. It was recorded live in 1974 and 1975 at the Long Beach Arena, the Hammersmith Odeon, and the Providence Civic Center by Record Plant Remote during Clapton’s first tour since Derek and the Dominos in 1970. (by wikipedia)

Following Eric Clapton’s recovery from heroin addition in 1974 and subsequent comeback (announced by 461 Ocean Boulevard), the guitar legend retained his fine band and toured extensively, and this live album is a souvenir of that period. Despite having such pop-oriented hits as “I Shot the Sheriff,” E.C. Was Here makes it clear that Clapton was and always would be a blues man. The opening cut, “Have You Ever Loved a Woman,” clearly illustrates this, and underlines the fact that Clapton had a firm grasp on his blues guitar ability, with some sterling, emotionally charged and sustained lines and riffs. A short version of “Drifting Blues” also drives the point home, with a lazy, Delta blues feel that is intoxicating. Aside from these standout blues workouts, Clapton provides a surprise with two songs from his Blind Faith period.

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“Presence of the Lord” and Steve Winwood’s classic “Can’t Find My Way Home” are given great readings here and highlight Clapton’s fine touring band, particularly co-vocalist Yvonne Elliman, whose singing adds a mellifluousness to Clapton’s blues vocal inflections. The market was a bit oversaturated with Clapton and Cream reissue products at the time, and this fine record got lost in the shuffle, but it remains an excellent document of the period. (by Matthew Greenwald)

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Personnel:
Eric Clapton (guitar, vocals)
Yvonne Elliman (vocals)
Marcy Levy (tambourine)
Jamie Oldaker (drums)
Carl Radle (bass)
Dick Sims (organ)
George Terry (guitar)
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Tracklist:
01. Have You Ever Loved A Woman (Myles) 7.52
02. Presence Of The Lord (Clapton) 6.44
03. Driftin’ Blues (Moore/Brown/Williams) 11.31
04. Can’t Find My Way Home (Winwood) 5.19
05. Ramblin’ On My Mind (Johnson) 7.29
06. Further On Up The Road (Medwick/Robey) 7.40

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Robert Hunter – Tales Of The Great Rum Runners (1974)

FrontCover1.jpgAlthough the Grateful Dead enjoyed a reputation for lengthy musical improvisations, their career was based on a solid core of songwriting craft. Robert Hunter, who has died aged 78, wrote the lyrics for many of their best-loved songs, and his work was vital in developing the mystique that earned the American band an extended international family of loyal followers, the so-called Deadheads.

A list of the songs that bear Hunter’s byline amounts to a road map of the Grateful Dead’s career. Dark Star (1968) and St Stephen (1969) were emblematic of their psychedelic beginnings, while Truckin’ (1970), Playing in the Band (1971) and Uncle John’s Band (1970) were imaginatively embroidered chunks of the Dead’s autobiography. Friend of the Devil (subsequently covered by countless other artists) had the feel of an old west fable, and like many other of their compositions tapped into the folk and blues roots that Hunter and the guitarist-songwriter Jerry Garcia had grown up with. Touch of Grey (with its trademark lines “I will get by, I will survive”) was an ode to the group’s longevity and earned them their only Top 10 hit in the US in 1987.

Although it is his work with the Dead for which he will be chiefly remembered, Hunter engaged in several other successful collaborations. An intermittent partnership with Bob Dylan began when he co-wrote the tracks Silvio and The Ugliest Girl in the World on Dylan’s 1988 album Down in the Groove, and he later shared authorship of most of the songs on Together Through Life (2009) and collaborated on Duquesne Whistle from the album Tempest (2012).

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He also worked with Bruce Hornsby (who played keyboards with the Dead late in their career) and Los Lobos. As Hornsby put it, after Hunter had written his song Cyclone (2009), “I’ve loved so many of the Garcia/Hunter songs. They’re just timeless-sounding to me, could have been written hundreds of years ago.”
Robert Hunter in the Grateful Dead’s rehearsal studio in San Rafael, California, 1977.

Hunter was born Robert Burns in Arroyo Grande, California, and later adopted his stepfather’s surname. “When I was nine my family split up,” he revealed, claiming that his father “was an electrician, an itinerant kind of a goldminer, something like that … I’ve only heard from him once in 20 or 30 years.” One of his earliest memories was his mother singing along to pop songs on the radio while she bathed him. He spent several years in foster homes before returning to live with his mother, who later married Norman Hunter, a publishing executive at McGraw-Hill, when Robert was 11.

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He had a band called the Presidents in Palo Alto high school, a Dixieland outfit in which he played trumpet. After a six-month stint in the army in 1959 (“It was an experience a lot of kids could probably benefit from,” he said), he spent a year at the University of Connecticut where he played in a folk trio, then moved back to California. He first met Garcia through a mutual girlfriend, and in 1961 they briefly formed the duo Bob and Jerry as well as playing in several bluegrass bands together. They parted company as Garcia pursued his musical ambitions while Hunter concentrated on writing.

In 1962 he volunteered to participate in a Stanford University programme testing psychedelic drugs (not realising this was run by the CIA), and was given LSD, mescaline and psilocybin. He considered that these experiences greatly boosted his writing skills, and he displayed a knack for expressing his altered state of mind. “By my faith, if this be insanity, then for the love of God permit me to be insane,” he wrote on one occasion.

However, a subsequent over-fondness for amphetamines prompted him to leave California for New Mexico, where he began writing song lyrics, including St Stephen, Alligator and China Cat Sunflower. He sent these to Garcia, who was sufficiently impressed to urge Hunter to come to San Francisco and become the lyricist for the fledgling Grateful Dead.

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Alligator appeared on the band’s second album, Anthem of the Sun (1968), while the follow-up, Aoxomoxoa (1969), was almost totally written by Hunter and Garcia. Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty (both 1970) found the group moving away from trippy experimentalism towards a more traditional, country-flavoured, Americana style, and between them added up to a trove of the Dead’s finest songs, Cumberland Blues, Uncle John’s Band, Casey Jones, Box of Rain, Friend of the Devil and Sugar Magnolia among them. American Beauty’s Ripple was solely composed by Hunter, and contained what he claimed to Rolling Stone magazine to be his favourite of his own lines: “Let it be known there is a fountain that was not made by the hands of man.”

Their working methods were elastic. Sometimes Hunter would listen to the band working on a new song and devise lyrics on the spot; sometimes he would listen to tapes of musical ideas and write lyrics to fit; or he would give the group lyrics that they would then build music around. “What we were doing was almost sacred,” he said in 2015. “I didn’t feel we were a pop music band. I wanted to write a whole different sort of music.”

RobertHunter05His partnership with Garcia lasted right through to the Dead’s final studio album, Built to Last (1989). Garcia died in 1995. “I didn’t get the feeling he intended to live very long,” Hunter told Rolling Stone. “There are things about Jerry I just don’t understand. Or maybe am not capable of knowing.”

Hunter also undertook collaborations with the songwriter Jim Lauderdale, with whom he wrote the album Patchwork River (2010), and the Dead’s drummer Mickey Hart, contributing lyrics to the albums Mysterium Tremendum (2012) and Superorganism (2013). He co-wrote four songs with Bill Payne on Little Feat’s album Rooster Rag (2012).

Hunter performed in his own right occasionally, undertaking his final solo tour in 2013 in part to raise money to pay medical bills incurred during treatment for a spinal abscess. He recorded several solo albums, including Tales of the Great Rum Runners (1974), Tiger Rose (1975), Flight of the Marie Helena (a poem read against a musical backing, 1985) and Rock Columbia (1986). He also published several volumes of poetry, as well as two volumes of translations of the poems of Rilke. In 2013 he was given the lifetime achievement award of the Americana Music Association, and in 2015 Hunter and Garcia were inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame.

He is survived by his wife, Maureen, whom he married in 1982, and his children, Kate, Charlotte and Jess. (theguardian.com)

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And here´s his debut album:

On his debut album, supported by several members of the Grateful Dead and other Bay Area musicians, Robert Hunter demonstrated the musical and lyrical approach that had made his co-compositions with Jerry Garcia the best of the Dead’s original material. Hunter’s poetic language was redolent with a rustic Americana of roads, rivers, roses, and rain, and if his melodies lacked Garcia’s grace and the backup lacked the Dead’s cohesion, nevertheless this was identifiably music in the Dead vein. Hunter was an uncertain singer, alternately straining for a higher register reminiscent of Garcia and half-talking in a deeper voice that seemed more natural and advantageous to his lyrics. The album was overly ambitious musically, ranging from folk ballads to rockers and horn-filled raveups, along with barroom choruses and Scottish airs. But Hunter demonstrated he was more than just a lyricist. (by William Ruhlmann)

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Robert Hunter’s first solo album was released in June 1974 on Round Records. The album features Robert Hunter backed by all star guest cast of musicians including Jerry Garcia, Mickey Hart, John Cipollina, David Grisman, Barry Melton, Keith and Donna among quite a few others. The album was engineered and produced by everyone involved which also created a bit of a problem when the master tape was being prepared for cd. Jerry suggested to Hunter that he might want to use a cleaned up and digitized copy from the vinyl album rather than the master tape due to parts having fallen off the master. This was caused by somewhat improper engineering but Hunter wanted to use the master tape. As a result, there are places were certain overdubs are missing such as Jerry’s beautiful guitar fills on Standing At Your Door. The songs are all generally 5 stars while It Must Have Been The Roses would become something of a staple in Grateful Dead shows and I Heard You Singing would be recorded for Quicksilver’s Solid Silver. (by Grateful Jerry)

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Alternate labels (German edition)

Personnel:
Peter Albin (bass)
Rodney Albin (fiddle, background vocals)
Maureen Aylett (spoons)
Chrisie Bourne (castanets)
Buddy Cage (pedal steel-guitar)
T. Will Claire (background vocals)
Snookey Flowers (saxophone)
David Frieberg (bass)
Keith Godchaux (keyboards)
Mickey Hart (drums)
Robert Hunter (vocals, guitar, organ)
Steve Schuster (saxophone)
Markee Shubb (banjo, mandolin)
Rick Shubb (banjo, mandolin)
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Mario Cipolina* (bass on 04.)
Jerry Garcia (guitar on 11., 13.)
Donna Jean Godchaux (vocals on 02., 09.)
Barry Melton (guitar on 02., 03., 04.)
Jamie Paris (guitar, harmonica on 12.)
Hadi El Sadoon (trumpet on 13.)
Robbie Stokes (guitar, harmonica on 12.)

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Tracklist:
01. Lady Simplicity 0.20
02. That Train 4.26
03. Dry Dusty Road 2.16
04. I Heard You Singing 3.34
05. Rum Runners 3.00
06. Children’s Lament 4.06
07 Maybe She’s A Bluebird 1:57
08 Boys In The Barroom 1:09
09 It Must Have Been The Roses
10. Arizona Lightning 3:32
11. Standing At Your Door 4.28
12. Mad 4.00
13. Keys To The Rain 4.13

All songs written by Robert Hunter

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Robert C. Hunter (June 23, 1941 – September 23, 2019)

Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends (1974)

FrontCover1.JPGWelcome Back, My Friends, to the Show That Never Ends ~ Ladies and Gentlemen is the second live album by the English progressive rock band Emerson, Lake & Palmer, released as a triple album in August 1974 on Manticore Records. It was recorded in February 1974 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California during the group’s 1973–74 world tour in support of their fourth studio album, Brain Salad Surgery (1973).

The album was a commercial success, reaching number 4 on the Billboard 200, the band’s highest charting album in the US.[1] In the UK, the album peaked at number 6. The album is certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for 500,000 copies sold in the US. Following its release, Emerson, Lake & Palmer took an extended break from writing and recording.

The album was recorded in February 1974 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California during the group’s 1973–74 world tour in support of their fourth studio album, Brain Salad Surgery (1973). Its title comes from the introduction to the show spoken by the show’s Master of Ceremonies (Pete Murray, the UK disc jockey) and the opening line of “Karn Evil 9: First Impression, Part 2”.

To record the album, staff and equipment were brought in from Wally Heider Studios in Los Angeles, including a 24-track mobile recording unit and a 40-input console. Peter Granet, one of the engineers, called it “the finest recording experience I’ve ever had”. The band used a Quadrophonic PA system on the tour, allowing a Quadrophonic mix of the album to be released on three 8-track cartridges. A four-channel sound LP, known as Quadradisc, was planned for release but it was scrapped due to engineering issues with master recording which prevented JVC, the manufacturer, from cutting a stable master to meet the format’s specifications.

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Most of the recordings on the album were first used for broadcast on the American rock music radio show, The King Biscuit Flower Hour. In 1999, the radio recordings were released on CD.

AllMusic gave the album a mixed retrospective review, saying that it “makes one realise how accomplished these musicians were, and how well they worked together when the going was good.” They praised the set for including all but one song from Brain Salad Surgery, and particularly commended the performance of “Karn Evil 9” as being far superior to the studio rendition. However, they noted that unlike most live albums of the era, Welcome Back did not incorporate studio overdubs, limiting the band’s ability to recreate moments from their albums and resulting in poor sound quality: “Even the most recent remastered editions could not fix the feedback, the occasionally leakages, the JapanAd.jpgecho, the seeming distance – the listener often gets the impression of being seated in the upper mezzanine of an arena.” (by wikipedia)

The year was 1974, and progressive rock supergroup Emerson Lake & Palmer had just finished an unbelievable run of chart topping studio recordings since their inception in 1970, and headed out to a massive stadium world tour dubbed ‘Somebody Get Me a Ladder’, which was documented in this legendary live album Welcome Back My Friends to the Show That Never Ends-Ladies and Gentleman. Originally released as the first ever triple-vinyl live rock album, this live set showcased the true musical powers of the band onstage, pulling some of the best songs from their first four studio albums and turning them into musical theater for their fans.

A band fully capable of not only writing their own fantastic songs, but also taking traditional pieces and recreating them in their own vision, ELP put both on display here alongside daring improvisations for a live prog masterpiece. The late Keith Emerson’s uncanny abilities on his array of keyboards (Hammond organ, Moog, and piano) are on full display throughout, highlights being of course the epic “Tarkus”, the upbeat romps “Hoedown”, “Toccata”, and his gorgeous “Piano Improvisations”. Greg Lake adds some stellar lead guitar and Carl Palmer drops in an acrobatic drum solo on the classic “Karn Evil 9”, while the band deliver powerful melodic prog in the form of “Jerusalem” and the yearning “Take a Pebble”, with the lovely Lake ballads “Still…You Turn Me On” and “Lucky Man” housed within for good measure.

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Bombastic, virtuosic, and most importantly, melodic, are just a few descriptions of what you are in store for on Welcome Back My Friends to the Show That Never Ends-Ladies and Gentleman, quite simply a mandatory live album for any fan of ’70s rock … and a wonderful tribute to this legendary band. (seaoftranquility.org)

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Personnel:
Keith Emerson (keyboards)
Greg Lake (bass, guitar, vocals)
Carl Palmer (drums, percussion)

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Tracklist:
01. Hoedown (Copland) 4.27
02. Jerusalem (Parry/Blake) 3.18
03. Toccata (Ginastera) 7.22
04. Tarkus 27.12
04.1. Eruption (Emerson)
04.2. Stones Of Years (Emerson/Lake)
04.3. Iconoclast (Emerson)
04.4. Mass (Emerson/Lake)
04.5. Manticore (Emerson)
04.6. Battlefield (Lake) / Epitaph (Fripp/Lake/McDonald/Giles/Sinfield)
04.7. Aquatarkus (Emerson)
05. Take A Pebble / Still…You Turn Me On / Lucky Man (Lake) 11.05
06. Piano Improvisations (including Friedrich Gulda’s “Fugue” and Joe Sullivan’s “Little Rock Getaway”) (Emerson) 11.52
07. Take A Pebble (Conclusion) (Lake) 3.14
08. Jeremy Bender / The Sheriff (Emerson/Lake) 5.24
09. Karn Evil 9 / 35.14
09.1. 1st Impression (including “Percussion Solo (Con Brio)) (Emerson/Lake/Palmer) 17.26
09.2. 2nd Impression (Emerson) 7.36
09.3. 3rd Impression (Emerson/Lake/Sinfield) 10.17

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Keith Emerson:
02 November 1944 – 11 March 2016

Greg Lake:
10 November 1947 – 07 December 2016