Santabarbara – Charly (No Dejes De Soñar) (1974)

FrontCover1.JPGSantabarbara was a Spanish pop band founded in 1973, comprising Enrique Milian (born 1947; singer, bass), Mario Balaguer (guitar, vocals) and Alberto López (drums). They met as Georgie Dann’s backing musicians in 1970.

Mario Balaguer worked (born in 1947 in Barcelona and died in 1999)  1970 in a machine facotry in Erlangen/Germany and founded the band “Fantomas”. Two years later he play with a band called “Capitolo XIII” in Spain before he joined “Santabarbara” and …

… they got a big nº 1 hit with “Charly” in 1973.

Here´s their debut album …

… it´s a mixed bag: mostly MOR and cheesy Pop, including their Euro-hit from 1973 “Charly”, but …

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… attention please: also three HardRocker gems hidden in between: “Rommel”, “Lucifer” and “Vueltas”

“Lucier” is a brilliant hard rock songs … it beginns very softly …but then you will hear great and exciting power chords on the guitar.

And “Vueltas” sounds a little bit like “Silve Machine” from Hawkwind !

So, give this album a chance … because you can three unknowns hard rock gems from the Seventies.

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Personnel:
Mario Balaguer (guitar)
Enrique Milian (bass, vocals)
Alberto López (drums, percussion)

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Tracklist:
01. Toda La Verdad (Milian/Girado) 3.20
02. Paz (Milian) 2.53
03. America (Balaguer) 4.02
04. Charly (Milian/Gil) 3.43
05. No Dejes De Sonar (Milian/Girado) 3.16
06. Adios Amigo (Girado) 3.30
07. Rommel (Milian/Balaguer) 3.19
08. Perdoname Otra Vez (Milian) 2.16
09. Lucifer (Milian/Balaguer) 5.55
10. Vueltas (Milian) 2.50

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Unicorn – Blue Pine Trees (1974)

FrontCover1.JPGAs the old saying goes, appearances can be deceptive. Yes a very hackneyed cliché, but often true. Take Unicorn for instance: signed to premier Progressive Rock label Charisma, produced by Dave Gilmour of Pink Floyd (then basking in the huge success of Dark Side Of The Moon), liberal use of a mandolin and this record emerged to the general public in the great-coat high watermark of 1974. Could this be anything other than super-overreaching, meandering Prog Rock? Well yes it is. If I am being totally honest, I felt a mixture of relief and disappointment at this. Relief because for me some Prog can be taxing in the extreme, disappointment as in the correct dosage it can remarkable listening in its insane over-ambition and sheer audacity. But let us accept and appreciate Blue Pine Trees for what it actually is, rather than what it clearly is not.

Before I heard this new version of Blue Pine Trees I knew next to nothing about Unicorn, bar some wild guessing they were some sort of early ’70s hairy bunch, but it turns out they have an interesting and diverting backstory (most of which, I’ll hold my hands up, I have cribbed from Malcolm Dome’s excellent sleeve-notes). Beginning as a skiffle band called the Senders in the early ’60s, they had a spell in the latter part of the decade backing heartthrob Billy J Kramer after he had been deserted by the Dakotas and also operated in their own right as the Late.

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Finally a year into the new decade they became known as Unicorn at their record label Transatlantic’s insistence and released their debut album Uphill All The Way for which this album was the belated follow up. The band’s line up at this point was Ken Baker on guitar and vocals, Kevin Smith on lead (and that mandolin!) plus a rhythm section of Pete Perryer and Pat Martin.

Having spluttered on at length about what Blue Pine Trees is not, let us concentrate here on what music Unicorn did provide us with on this album. For a start, there is a big Country music influence going on here, but far more like the Country Rock the Byrds experimented with at length towards the end of their original tenure. The twist here though is that the singing of Unicorn (they had fine voices and could sing harmony) was very English sounding, taking the songs imbued with this uniquely US sound somewhere else entirely. They also had a great deal in common with Slim Chance, far more than any Prog behemoths. Of course if you’re resembling in any way Ronnie Lane’s team that can only be a good thing.

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Electric Night is one of those evocative, dreamlike drifters that “the Chance” made a fine art of, but it’s far from a carbon copy and whilst The Farmer is not The Poacher, it is one catchy old hoe-down. But it is carefree Country Rock that truly defined them. Just Wanna Hold You is a lovely ballad in that mode, both sad and touching and the nippy Sleep Song is an excellent example of Unicorn’s strengths in smoky C&W. There’s even a hint of CCR on Holland that gets as close to chooglin’ as a UK band could.

When not indulging in Home Counties And Western or some raggle-taggle Folk Rock Unicorn favoured a restrained approach which had a lot of parallels with low-key indie bands of say 20 years later. This LP does in fact sound pretty up to date to these ears. In The Gym puts me in mind of something in the same sort of area as 10cc or even Beautiful South (I would have to say Unicorn are for me far superior to BS though), wordy, witty Pop music.

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The Ooh Mother single that is among the bonus tracks relies and makes a virtue of the band’s vocal prowess within a complex arrangement. But Nightingale Crescent is the true ace in the pack on this collection for me – a magical take on the kind of kitchen-sink soap-opera the Kinks/Hollies specialised in, there’s even a bit of Badfinger in there plus a Adlittle of Needles And Pin” – mixing Proto-Power Pop, song story-telling and even a little Prog finally to great effect! It is wonderful.

As a footnote, during the recording of this album the band’s tour manager got bass player Pat Martin and drummer Peter Perryer to record with his mate’s young sister and as a result Dave Gilmour got to know about it too.

You’re probably ahead of me already – that 15 year old turned out to be Kate Bush and one of the songs they recorded with her ended up as the flip to the Army Dreamers single, which to her great credit she saw the Unicorn twosome alright royalties-wise even after the six year time-lapse between recording and release.

Unicorn, despite their outward stylistic trimmings, plainly knew the value of a good tune and stuck to what they felt was right by ignoring fleeting trends. Though perhaps a better fit for the then thriving Pub Rock circuit where the brand leaders Brinsley Schwartz were doing something not entirely dissimilar, their take on Country Folk Rock has stood the test of time really well and rather better than the vast majority of outfits seemingly more in tune with the zeitgeist. (by Ian Canty)

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Personnel:
Kenny Baker (guitar, keyboards, vocals)
Pat Martin (bass, vocals)
Pete Perrier (vocals, drums)
Kevin Smith (guitar, mandolin)
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David Gilmour (pedal steel-guitar)

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Tracklist:
01. Electric Night (Baker) 4.58
02. Sleep Song (Baker) 4.59
03. Autumn Wine (Smith/St.John/Waters) 3.04
04. Rat Race (Smith/St.John/Waters) 4.24
05. Just Wanna Hold You (Baker) 5.08
06. Holland (Baker) 3.28
07. Nightingale Crescent (Baker) 3.37
08. The Farmer (Baker) 3.33
09. In The Gym (Baker) 5.29
10. Blue Pine Trees (Baker) 3.49
11. Ooh Mother (Baker) 3.57
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12. Volcano (Baker) 3.18
13. The Ballad Of John And Julie (BBC Session 1974) (Baker) 4.52
14. Bog Trotter (Baker) 4.53
15. Ooh Mother (single version) (Baker) 2.46
16. I’ll Believe In You (The Hymn) (Baker) 3.36
17. Take It Easy (Baker) 2.43

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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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