Vangelis – Spiral (1977)

FrontCover1Evángelos Odysséas Papathanassíou (29 March 1943 – 17 May 2022), known professionally as was a Greek musician and composer of electronic, progressive, ambient, jazz, and orchestral music.

He was best known for his Academy Award-winning score to Chariots of Fire (1981), as well as for composing scores to the films Blade Runner (1982), Missing (1982), Antarctica (1983), The Bounty (1984), 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992), and Alexander (2004), and for the use of his music in the 1980 PBS documentary series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage by Carl Sagan.

Aphrodite's Child

Vangelis began his career working with several pop bands of the 1960s such as The Forminx and Aphrodite’s Child, with the latter’s album 666 (1972) going on to be recognized as a progressive-psychedelic rock classic. Throughout the 1970s, Vangelis composed scores for several animal documentaries, including L’Apocalypse des Animaux, La Fête sauvage, and Opéra sauvage; the success of these scores brought him into the film scoring mainstream. In 1975 he set up his new 16-track studio, Nemo Studios in London, which he named his “laboratory”, releasing many solo albums including Heaven and Hell and China among others. In the early 1980s, Vangelis formed a musical partnership with Jon Anderson, the lead singer of progressive rock band Yes, and the duo released several albums together as Jon & Vangelis; he had previously joined Yes as their keyboard player, but left the group before recording any material with them.

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In 1980, he composed the score for the Oscar-winning film Chariots of Fire, for which he won an Academy Award for Best Original Score. The soundtrack’s single, the film’s theme, also reached the top of the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and was used as the background music at the London 2012 Olympics winners’ medal presentation ceremonies. He also composed the official anthem of the 2002 FIFA World Cup held in Korea and Japan. In his last twenty years he collaborated with NASA and ESA on music projects Mythodea, Rosetta and Juno to Jupiter, which was his last studio album.

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Having had a career in music spanning over 50 years and having composed and performed more than 50 albums, Vangelis is considered to be one of the most important figures in the history of electronic music.

Vangelis died on 17 May 2022, aged 79, at a hospital in Paris due to heart failure while receiving treatment for COVID-19. (wikipedia)

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Spiral is a studio album by the Greek electronic composer Vangelis, released in December 1977. It was the third album produced by Vangelis in Nemo Studios, London, which was his creative base until the late 1980s. For the track “To the Unknown Man” Vangelis received the Midem International Instrumental award in 1978.

It is a concept album, thematically inspired by ancient Tao philosophy, exploring the nature of the universe moving in spirals. On the front cover is cited Tao Te Ching: “Going on means going far – Going far means returning”, while the sleeve notes state that the track “Dervish D” is “inspired by the Dervish dancer who by his whirling realises the spiralling of the universe”.

It was a less known and acclaimed album than the two which preceded in the 1970s, Heaven and Hell (1975) and Albedo 0.39 (1976).

The album reached #38 on the Dutch album charts in 1978.

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In 2011, the album was included, along with Heaven and Hell and Albedo 0.39, in a 3-CD box set series “Original Album Classics” by Sony, RCA and Legacy Recordings. In 2013, the album was released in a remastered and reissued digipak edition by Esoteric Recordings. It includes a bonus track, previously never issued on CD, “To The Unknown Man (II)”, which was released as a B-side of the single “To the Unknown Man” in 1977.

The album is entirely instrumental, apart from Vangelis’ processed vocals on “Ballad”. Vangelis plays synthesizer, sequencers, electric piano, electronic organ, harmonica, brass, timpani, percussion. It is the first album on which Vangelis used the Yamaha CS-80 synthesizer, on which he would come to rely heavily in subsequent work, and is the most sequencer-based album of his career.

Henri Stirk from Background Magazine rated the 2013 edition by Esoteric Recordings 4/5 stars.

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In December 1977, the follow-up album ‘Spiral’ was released. It was inspired by ancient Tao philosophy, exploring the nature of the universe moving in spirals. The album oozes with a myriad of spectacular sounds. It featured the unforgettable marching track ‘To the Unknown Man’, for which Vangelis was awarded the Midem International Instrumental of the year 1978.In December 1977, the follow-up album ‘Spiral’ was released. It was inspired by ancient Tao philosophy, exploring the nature of the universe moving in spirals. The album oozes with a myriad of spectacular sounds. It featured the unforgettable marching track ‘To the Unknown Man’, for which Vangelis was awarded the Midem International Instrumental of the year 1978. (www.nemostudios.co.uk)

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As far as Vangelis’ early work is concerned (pertaining to the five years of his solo career), Spiral stands up quite well, although it’s almost always regarded as an inessential effort. Although the structures and the overall dynamics of the pieces are less complicated and less sophisticated, Spiral’s keyboard utilization is still extremely effectual, even if it does take awhile to get off the ground. The five tracks that make up the album aren’t as atmospheric or as elaborately shifting as 1975’s Heaven and Hell or 1976’s Albedo 0.39, but his musical movement does seem to transgress toward full, complete soundscapes, especially in “To the Unknown Man,” the album’s best example of Vangelis’ artistry. The album is based on a dancer’s appreciation of the universe and how it spirals into infinity, a concept which came to him through his own pirouettes. Both “Spiral” and “Ballad” touch ever so lightly on melody, appropriately relating to the album’s theme, while the lengthy “3+3” begins to unveil Vangelis’ creativity and sense of electronic exploration. After Spiral, Vangelis’ style changed somewhat, with more of a smoother, more melodic approach to the synthesizer, implemented to create a closer relationship between classical and electronic music. Albums such as Beauborg and China lay claim to this, also employing stronger ties between the theme and the music, while 1981’s Chariots of Fire has him merging the two styles completely. (by Mike DeGagne)

I can´t agree with Mike DeGagne:

An often overlooked masterpiece that all of his fans should listen to. (Jake Roberts)

Or: A fascinating journey through the possibilities of electronic music !

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Personnel:
Vangelis (synthesizer, keyboards and other instruments)

Booklet

Tracklist:
01. Spiral 6:55
02. Ballad 8:27
03. Dervish D 5:21
04. To The Unknown Man 9:01
05. 3+3 9:43
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06. To the Unknown Man (Part Two) 2.55

Music composed by Vangelis

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Sex Pistols – Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols (1977)

FrontCover1The Sex Pistols were an English punk rock band that formed in London in 1975. Although their initial career lasted just two and a half years, they are regarded as one of the most groundbreaking acts in the history of popular music. They were responsible for initiating the punk movement in the United Kingdom and inspiring many later punk and alternative rock musicians. Their fashion and hairstyles have been credited as a significant influence on punk image, and they are often associated with anarchism within music.

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The Sex Pistols originally comprised vocalist John Lydon (known at the time by his stage name “Johnny Rotten”), guitarist Steve Jones, drummer Paul Cook and bassist Glen Matlock. Matlock was replaced by Sid Vicious in early 1977. Under the management of Malcolm McLaren, the band attracted controversies that both captivated and appalled Britain. Through an obscenity-laced television interview in December 1976 and their May 1977 single “God Save the Queen”, the latter of which attacked Britons’ social conformity and deference to the Crown, they popularised punk rock in the UK. “God Save the Queen” was banned not only by the BBC but also by nearly every independent radio station, making it the “most heavily censored record in British history”.

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The band’s only album Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols (1977)—a UK number one—is a staple record of punk rock. In January 1978, at the end of their over-hyped and turbulent tour of the US, Rotten announced the band’s break-up. Over the next few months, the three remaining band members recorded songs for McLaren’s film version of the Sex Pistols’ story, The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle. Vicious died of a heroin overdose in February 1979, following his arrest for the alleged murder of his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen. Rotten, Jones, Cook and Matlock reunited for a highly successful concert tour in 1996.[1] Further one-off performances and short tours followed over the next decade.

The Sex Pistols have been recognised as an influential band. In 2004, Rolling Stone placed them No. 58 on its list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”. On 24 February 2006, the Sex Pistols—the four original members plus Vicious—were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but they refused to attend the ceremony, calling the museum “a piss stain”

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Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols is the only studio album by English punk rock band the Sex Pistols, released on 28 October 1977 by Virgin Records in the UK and on 11 November 1977 by Warner Bros. Records in the US. The album has influenced many bands and musicians, and the industry in general. In particular, the album’s raw energy, and Johnny Rotten’s sneering delivery and “half-singing,” are often considered game-changing. It is frequently listed as the most influential punk album, and one of the most important and best albums of all time.

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The band’s internal relationships were always volatile, and the lineup saw changes during the recording of the album. Original bass guitarist Glen Matlock left the band early in the recording process, and while he is credited as a co-writer on all but two of the tracks, he only performed bass and backing vocals on one track, “Anarchy in the U.K.” Recording sessions continued with a new bass player, Sid Vicious, who is credited on two of the songs the band wrote after he joined. While Vicious’s bass playing appeared on two tracks, his lack of skill on the instrument meant that many of the tracks were recorded with guitarist Steve Jones playing bass instead. Drummer Paul Cook and singer Johnny Rotten appear on every track. The various recording sessions were led alternately by Chris Thomas or Bill Price, and sometimes both together, but as the songs on the final albums often combined mixes from different sessions, or were poorly documented who was present in the recording booth at the time, each song is jointly credited to both producers.

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By the time of its release, the Sex Pistols were already controversial, having spoken profanity on live TV, been fired from two record labels, and been banned from playing live in some parts of Britain. The album title added to that controversy, with some people finding the word “bollocks” offensive. Many record stores refused to carry it and some record charts refused to list its title, showing just a blank space instead.

Review

Due in part to its notoriety, and in spite of many sales bans at major retailers, the album debuted at number one on the UK Album Charts. It achieved advance orders of 125,000 copies after a week of its release and went gold only a few weeks later, on 17 November. It remained a best-seller for nearly a year, spending 48 weeks in the top 75.[1] The album has also been certified platinum by the RIAA. It has seen several reissues, the latest in 2017.

In 1987, Rolling Stone magazine named the album the second best of the previous 20 years, behind only the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The same magazine ranked it number 80 on their list of 500 greatest albums of all time in 2020. In 2006, it was chosen by Time magazine as one of the 100 greatest albums ever. (wikipedia)

Acetate disc:
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While mostly accurate, dismissing Never Mind the Bollocks as merely a series of loud, ragged midtempo rockers with a harsh, grating vocalist and not much melody would be a terrible error. Already anthemic songs are rendered positively transcendent by Johnny Rotten’s rabid, foaming delivery. His bitterly sarcastic attacks on pretentious affectation and the very foundations of British society were all carried out in the most confrontational, impolite manner possible. Most imitators of the Pistols’ angry nihilism missed the point: underneath the shock tactics and theatrical negativity were social critiques carefully designed for maximum impact.

The Picture Disc edition:
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Never Mind the Bollocks perfectly articulated the frustration, rage, and dissatisfaction of the British working class with the establishment, a spirit quick to translate itself to strictly rock & roll terms. The Pistols paved the way for countless other bands to make similarly rebellious statements, but arguably none were as daring or effective. It’s easy to see how the band’s roaring energy, overwhelmingly snotty attitude, and Rotten’s furious ranting sparked a musical revolution, and those qualities haven’t diminished one bit over time. Never Mind the Bollocks is simply one of the greatest, most inspiring rock records of all time. (by Steve Huey)

I remember well when the Sex Pistols made it big … I was quite outraged because they made my “old heroes” look so bad … smile.

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Personnel:
Paul Cook (drums)
Steve Jones (guitar, bass, background vocals)
Glen Matlock (bass and background vocals on 07.)
Johnny Rotten (vocals)
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Sid Vicious (bass on 04. + 08.)

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Tracklist:
01. Holidays In The Sun (Cook/Jones/Rotten/Vicious) 3.21
02. Body (Cook,/Jones/Matlock/Rotten) 3.02
03. No Feelings (Cook,/Jones/Matlock/Rotten) 2.49
04. Liar (Cook,/Jones/Matlock/Rotten) 2.41
05. God Save The Queen (Cook,/Jones/Matlock/Rotten) 3.19
06. Problems (Cook,/Jones/Matlock/Rotten) 4.11
07. Seventeen (Cook,/Jones/Matlock/Rotten) 2.01
07. Anarchy In The U.K. (Cook,/Jones/Matlock/Rotten) 3.32
08. Submission (Cook/Jones/Rotten/Vicious) 4.11
10. Pretty Vacant (Cook,/Jones/Matlock/Rotten) 3.16
11. New York (Cook,/Jones/Matlock/Rotten) 3.05
12. E.M.I. (Cook,/Jones/Matlock/Rotten) 3.11

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The Dictators – Search & Destroy + Sleepin´ With The TV On (1977)

FrontCover1The Dictators are an American punk rock band formed in New York City in 1973. Critic John Dougan said that they were “one of the finest and most influential proto-punk bands to walk the earth.”

The band was formed in 1972 by Andy “Adny” Shernoff who was attending The State University of New York at New Paltz and Ross “The Boss” Friedman who was playing in the local band, Total Crudd. Scott “Top Ten” Kempner was asked to join, and the trio rented a house in Kerhonkson, New York, where they lived and rehearsed with various drummers. The original recording line-up consisted of vocalist/bassist/songwriter Andy Shernoff, lead guitarist Ross Friedman (aka Ross Funicello), rhythm guitarist Scott Kempner, and drummer Stu Boy King. It was this line-up–along with roadie/occasional vocalist and “Secret Weapon” Handsome Dick Manitoba–which recorded the band’s 1975 debut album, The Dictators Go Girl Crazy! for Epic Records, produced by Sandy Pearlman and Murray Krugman (best known for their work with Blue Öyster Cult). The album sold poorly at the time but is now considered to be the starting point for American punk rock . Entertainment Weekly wrote “Go Girl Crazy’s junk-generation culture and smart-aleck sensibility did provide an essential blueprint for ’70s punk. With its TV references and homely vocals, this ground-breaking and long-unavailable album continues to inspire underground groups everywhere.”

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Frustrated by the lack of sales, the band broke up for a few months in late 1975, but reconvened in early 1976, with bassist Mark “The Animal” Mendoza replacing Shernoff and Ritchie Teeter replacing King. After a few months Shernoff was persuaded to return to the group as the group’s keyboardist. This line-up soon secured a contract with Asylum Records (at least partly due to the notoriety the group had developed following a well-publicized brawl between Manitoba and Wayne County) and released their second album, Manifest Destiny, in 1977. The album was produced by Pearlman and Krugman with songs written by Shernoff. (wikipedia)

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And here´s their “Special Limited Edition” (12″, 45 RPM) single from their album “Manifest Destiny,”

In particular “Search & Destroy” has become a cult song … rightly so …  the song ist a killer in the best MC5 tradition !

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Personnel:
Ross H. “Ross The Boss” Friedman (guitar)
Scott “Top Ten” Kempner (guitar)
Handsome Dick Manitoba (vocals)
Andy Shernoff (keyboards, vocals)
Rich Teeter (drums, vocals)

TheDictators01Tracklist:
01. Search & Destroy (Osterberg/Williamson) 3.27
02. Sleepin’ With The TV On (Shernoff) 4.17

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Still alive and well: The official website:
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Alice Cooper – Lace & Whiskey (1977)

FrontCover1Alice Cooper (born Vincent Damon Furnier, February 4, 1948) is an American singer, songwriter, and actor whose career spans over 50 years. With a raspy voice and a stage show that features numerous props and stage illusions, including pyrotechnics, guillotines, electric chairs, fake blood, reptiles, baby dolls, and dueling swords, Cooper is considered by music journalists and peers to be “The Godfather of Shock Rock”. He has drawn equally from horror films, vaudeville, and garage rock to pioneer a macabre and theatrical brand of rock designed to shock audiences.

Originating in Phoenix, Arizona, in 1964, “Alice Cooper” was originally a band with roots extending back to a band called The Earwigs 1964, consisting of Furnier on vocals and harmonica, Glen Buxton on lead guitar, and Dennis Dunaway on bass guitar and background vocals. By 1966, Michael Bruce on rhythm guitar joined the three and Neal Smith was added on drums in 1967. The five named the band ‘Alice Cooper’ and released their debut album in 1969 with limited chart success. The band reached their commercial peak in 1973 with their sixth studio album, Billion Dollar Babies. They broke up in 1975 and Furnier adopted the band’s name as both his legal name and his stage name, beginning his solo career with the 1975 concept album Welcome to My Nightmare.

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Cooper has experimented with a number of musical styles, including art rock, hard rock, heavy metal, new wave,[6] glam metal,[7][8] and industrial rock. He helped to shape the sound and look of heavy metal, and has been described as the artist who “first introduced horror imagery to rock and roll, and whose stagecraft and showmanship have permanently transformed the genre”.[9] He is also known for his wit offstage, with The Rolling Stone Album Guide calling him the world’s most “beloved heavy metal entertainer”. Away from music, Cooper is a film actor, a golfing celebrity, a restaurateur, and, since 2004, a radio DJ with his classic rock show Nights with Alice Cooper.

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Lace and Whiskey is the third solo studio album by American singer Alice Cooper, released on April 29, 1977 by Warner Bros. Records.

After many years of portraying a dark and sinister persona Alice Cooper decided to try something new and donned the persona of a heavy drinking comic PI named “Maurice Escargot” – a fictional character in the same vein as Inspector Clouseau. Cooper is pictured as Escargot on the back cover of Lace and Whiskey, which was still a rock-based album but was stylistically influenced by Cooper’s love for 1940s’ and 1950s’ movies and music. The album only peaked at No. 42 in the US and No. 33 in the UK Albums Chart.[6]

The album’s lead single, “You and Me”, was an easy listening ballad which provided Cooper with his last US top-ten single for twelve years. “(No More) Love at Your Convenience”, a disco-inspired pop song, was released as the second single – it did not chart in most countries. Music videos were created for both songs, at a time well before the advent of MTV. The song “King of the Silver Screen” features a sampling of the main motif of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic”.

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Cooper’s “King of the Silver Screen” tour in support of this album, featured a stage set designed as a giant TV, with its slit screen allowing Cooper and his dancers to jump into and out of it along to filmed choreographed sequences during songs, and had comedic mock commercials screened in between some songs. The tour only ran in the US and Canada, throughout the summers of 1977 and 1978 (renamed the “School’s Out for Summer” tour in 1978). Filmed highlights from the opening night of the 1977 tour, capturing a very inebriated Cooper, were featured in the Alice Cooper and Friends TV special. The tour’s Las Vegas concerts were recorded, resulting in The Alice Cooper Show live album. With the exception of “It’s Hot Tonight”, which was a regular part of setlists on the 2001 ‘Brutal Planet’ and the 2008-2009 ‘Psychodrama’ tours,[7] and “Road Rats” which was a regular during the 1980 ‘Flush the Fashion’ tour,[8] nothing from Lace and Whiskey has been performed live since the end of the tour supporting the following From the Inside album. “Damned If You Do”, “Ubangi Stomp”, “(No More) Love at Your Convenience”, “I Never Wrote Those Songs”, and “My God” have never been played live by Cooper.

It was after the completion of the 1977 tour, that Cooper checked into a New York-based sanitarium for his first treatment for alcoholism.

During the initial stage of this album’s era, when it was clear that Cooper was not going to return from his new success, original Alice Cooper group members Dennis Dunaway, Neal Smith, and Michael Bruce formed a new band with Mike Marconi and Bob Dolin called “The Billion Dollar Babies”. Michael Bruce sang their lead vocals.

Lace and Whiskey was digitally remastered and re-released on CD by Metal Blade Records in 1990.

The opening song “It’s Hot Tonight” would later be sampled by the hip hop group The Beastie Boys for the song “What Comes Around” on their 1989 album Paul’s Boutique. (wikipedia)

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Lace and Whiskey is the tenth studio album by Alice Cooper, released in May 1977. After many years of portraying a dark and sinister persona Alice Cooper decided to try something new and donned the persona of a heavy drinking comic PI named “Maurice Escargot” – a fictional character in the same vein as Inspector Clouseau. Cooper is pictured as Escargot on the back cover of Lace and Whiskey, which was still a rock-based album but was stylistically influenced by Cooper’s love for 1940s’ and 1950s’ movies and music. The album’s lead single, “You and Me”, was an easy listening ballad which provided Cooper with his last US top-ten single for twelve years. (press release)

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As the rock & roll that made him famous began to grow stale, Alice Cooper found himself desperately trying to revive that fad with Lace and Whiskey. There are no shocking songs here — just flat, dull melodies that sound like a bad combination of ’50s rock & roll and classic ’70s rock. One exception to the album might be the Top 20 hit “You and Me,” but even this somewhat catchy ballad doesn’t save the album from being a bore. Although it isn’t as horrible as many critics have claimed it to be, Lace and Whiskey still fails to get anywhere beyond mediocrity. (by Barry Weber)

But … a real great cover !

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Personnel:
Bob Babbitt (bass)
Alice Cooper (vocals)
Steve Hunter (guitar)
Allan Schwartzberg (drums)
Dick Wagner (guitar; vocals)
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Josef Chirowski (keyboards)
Bob Ezrin (keyboards)
Jim Gordon (drums on 03., 04. + 05.)
Prakash John (bass on 03.)
Tony Levin (bass on 03., 04. + 05.)
Al MacMillan (piano on 04.)
Jimmy Maelen (percussion)

Inlet02ATracklist:
01. It’s Hot Tonight (Cooper/Wagner/Ezrin) 3.22
02. Lace And Whiskey (Cooper/Wagner/Ezrin) 3.14
03. Road Rats (Cooper/Wagner/Ezrin) 2.43
04. Damned If You Do (Cooper/Wagner/Ezrin) 3:.14
05. You And Me (Cooper/Wagner) 3.29
06. King Of The Silver Screen (Cooper/Wagner/Ezrin) 5.35
07. Ubangi Stomp (Underwood) 2.13
08. (No More) Love At Your Convenience (Cooper/Wagner/Ezrin) 3.49
09. I Never Wrote Those Songs (Cooper/Wagner/Ezrin) 4.34
10. My God (Cooper/Wagner/Ezrin) 5.41

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Pat Travers – Makin’ Magic (1977)

FrontCover1Patrick Henry Travers (born April 12, 1954) is a Canadian rock guitarist, keyboardist and singer who began his recording career in the mid-1970s.

Pat Travers was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario. Soon after picking up the guitar at age 12, he saw Jimi Hendrix perform in Ottawa. Travers began playing in bands early in his teens; his first bands were the Music Machine (not to be confused with the Californian psychedelic/garage band of the same name), Red Hot, and Merge, which played in clubs in the Quebec area.

While performing with Merge, he was noticed by rock artist Ronnie Hawkins, who invited Travers to perform with him. In his early twenties Travers moved to London and signed a recording contract with the Polydor label. His self-titled debut album was released in 1976, and featured bassist Peter “Mars” Cowling, who would become a mainstay in Travers’ band for several years. An appearance on the German TV show Rockpalast in November 1976 was later released on DVD under the title Hooked on Music. This performance showcases an early version of Travers’ band featuring Cowling and drummer Nicko McBrain. (wikipedia)

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And here´s his second solo-album:

What a revelation “Making Magic” was after Pat’s first sincere, but pedestrian & hurried (Ten days) effort “Pat Travers”. No one could have expected the wonderful music that was to come from this visionary Canadian guitarist. “Making Magic” just jumped off the vinyl through the speakers into my head like some sort of sonic train that I could ride on the rest of my life! The album starts off with the funky intense namesake song filled with snaking snarling leads & intricate time changes that were to become a Pat Travers signature. Next came “Rock’N’Roll Susie” & “You Don’t Love Me,” showing PT’s roots in the blues, but faster & more high energy than most artist have ever dreamed of at that time or since. “Stevie” is a moving song dedicated to PT’s little brother that shows what a sense of beautiful melody PT has & how he could sonicly build a song structure to epic purportion. “Statesoro Blues,” retools the old blues tune in everyway made famous by The Allman Brothers. “Need Love” & Hooked on Music” are the real crown jewls of this album for me. Killer, killer, fast funky rock that would inspire later bands like Extreme. “Need Love” starts with funk that is just pure groove & seamlessly runs into the fast & furious metal tinged funk of “Hooked on Music”! The all instrumental ending tune “What You Mean to Me” is another prime example of Pat’s melodic sense, & serves as a taste of even better songs to come on the next album, “Putting it Straight.” (James McCormick)

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Personnel:
Peter “Mars” Cowling (bass)
Nico McBrain (drums, percussion)
Pat Travers (guitar, vocals
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Roy Dyke (drums on 05.)
Glenn Hughes (background vocals on 04.)
Brian Robertson (guitar on 05.)
Peter Solley (keyboards on 03., 04. + 08.)

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Tracklist:
01. Makin’ Magic 4.58
02. Rock ‘N’ Roll Susie 3.39
03. You Don’t Love Me 3.28
04. Stevie 7.14
05. Statesboro Blues 3.47
06. Need Love 5:04
07. Hooked On Music 6.19
B4 What You Mean To Me 4.34

All songs written by Pat Travers,
except 05, written by Blind Willie McTell

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Steve Goodman – Say It In Private (1977)

FrontCover1Steven Benjamin Goodman (July 25, 1948 – September 20, 1984) was an American folk music singer-songwriter from Chicago. He wrote the song “City of New Orleans,” which was recorded by Arlo Guthrie and many others including John Denver, The Highwaymen, and Judy Collins; in 1985, it received a Grammy award for best country song, as performed by Willie Nelson. Goodman had a small but dedicated group of fans for his albums and concerts during his lifetime, and is generally considered a musician’s musician. His most frequently sung song is the Chicago Cubs anthem, “Go Cubs Go”. Goodman died of leukemia in September 1984.

On September 20, 1984, Goodman died of leukemia at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle, Washington. He had anointed himself with the tongue-in-cheek nickname “Cool Hand Leuk” (other nicknames included “Chicago Shorty” and “The Little Prince”) during his illness. He was 36 years old.

Four days after Goodman’s death, the Chicago Cubs clinched the Eastern Division title in the National League for the first time ever, earning them their first post-season appearance since 1945, three years before Goodman’s birth. Eight days later, on October 2, the Cubs played their first post-season game since Game 7 of the 1945 World Series. Goodman had been asked to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” before it; Jimmy Buffett filled in, and dedicated the song to Goodman. Since the late 2000s, at the conclusion of every home game, the Cubs play (and fans sing) “Go, Cubs, Go”, a song Goodman wrote for his beloved team.

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In April 1988, some of Goodman’s ashes were scattered at Wrigley Field, the home of the Chicago Cubs He was survived by his wife and three daughters.[9] His eldest daughter, Jesse, died in 2012.

In 2006, Goodman’s daughter, Rosanna, issued My Old Man, an album of a variety of artists covering her father’s songs.

Interest in Goodman’s career had a resurgence in 2007 with the publication of a biography by Clay Eals, Steve Goodman: Facing the Music. The same year, the Chicago Cubs began playing Goodman’s 1984 song “Go, Cubs, Go” after each home game win. When the Cubs made it to the playoffs, interest in the song and Goodman resulted in several newspaper articles about Goodman. Illinois Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn declared October 5, 2007, Steve Goodman Day in the state. In 2010, Illinois Representative Mike Quigley introduced a bill renaming the Lakeview post office on Irving Park Road in honor of Goodman. The bill was signed by President Barack Obama on August 3, 2010 (wikipedia)

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Steve Goodman reached the charts with his first two albums for Asylum Records, Jessie’s Jig & Other Favorites (1975) and Words We Can Dance To (1976), and that may have convinced the label to spend more money on his next LP (money intended to be recoupable against royalties should the album take off, of course), because the sessions for Say It in Private appear to have been quite elaborate. For the first time since his second album, Somebody Else’s Troubles (1973), Goodman had a real producer (i.e., somebody who produced records for a living), Joel Dorn, and among the six dozen singers and players who contributed to the sessions were plenty of arrangers and string players. Nevertheless, Say It in Private ended up being a fairly typical Steve Goodman album. In a sense, the cover art told the story. It featured a painting by Howard Carriker that replicated Jacques Louis David’s famous 1793 portrait Death of Marat, in which French revolutionary and invalid Jean-Paul Marat was shown lying in his medicinal bath after having been assassinated. In Carriker’s version, the body belonged to Goodman, who was alive and smiling. So, here was an expensive-looking illustration that was making a macabre joke, and the album was more of the same, really. For all the production and all those musicians, Goodman was still doing what he loved to do, writing a few modest, entertaining songs and gathering other ones from various genres. The covers included the 1913 ballad “There’s a Girl in the Heart of Maryland,” which, despite the strings and chorus, was essentially a duet between Goodman’s voice and Jethro Burns’ mandolin; the 1936 country song “Is It True What They Say About Dixie?,” another frantic Goodman/Burns duet; Hank Williams’ “Weary Blues from Waitin'”; and Smokey Robinson’s account of romantic schizophrenia, “Two Lovers.”

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With his own pen, Goodman turned out a couple of warm love songs that were sequenced back to back at the start of the disc, “I’m Attracted to You” and “You’re the Girl I Love,” followed by a novelty, “Video Tape,” and then the four cover tunes. Next came two consecutive musical obituaries, both of them surprising. “Daley’s Gone” was this Chicago native’s lament for the late Mayor Richard J. Daley, a man much despised by those of Goodman’s generation in connection with his activities during the Democratic Convention of 1968. Even more personal was “My Old Man,” about Goodman’s own father. Some relief was needed after that, and it came in the form of a folk anthem co-written by Goodman and his pal John Prine, “The Twentieth Century Is Almost Over.” Again, there was a big vocal chorus, but again the song was in some ways just a duet between Goodman and an acoustic musical instrument played by another mentor, in this case the banjo of Pete Seeger. There may have been 73 musicians in the credits for Say It in Private, but it still ended up sounding like an old-fashioned folk collection most of the time. (by William Ruhlmann)

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Personnel:
David Amram (flute on 05.)
Ken Ascher (piano on 02. + 03.)
Erroll Bennett (percussion on 05.)
Saul Broudy (vocals, harmonica on 07.)
Peter Bunetta (drums on 01.)
Steve Burgh (guitar on 07.)
Jethro Burns (mandolin on 04. + 06.)
Francesco Centeño (bass on 02. + 03.)
Rick Chudacoff (guitar, piano, bass on 01.)
Tony Conniff (bass on 07.)
Steve Goodman (guitar, vocals)
Milton Grayson (vocals on 05.)
Scott Hamilton (saxophone on 01.)
Milt Hinton (bass on 04.)
Will Lee (bass on 05.)
Jimmy Maelen (percussion on 01. – 03.)
Cliff Morris (guitar on 05.)
Denny Morouse (saxophone on 02.)
Rob Mounsey (piano on 05.)
Gary Mure (drums on 05.)
Larry Packer  (fiddle on 07.)
Leon Pendarvis (piano on 05.)
Pete Seeger (vocals, banjo on 10.)
Allan Schwartzberg (drums on 02. + 03.)
Mauricio Smith (saxophone on 02.)
David Tofani (saxophone on 02.)
John Tropea (guitar on 05.)
Roger Rosenberg (saxophone on 02.)
Eric Weisberg (guitar on 02., pedal steel-guitar on 03.)
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strings:
Alan Shulman – Alfred Brown – Barry Finclair – Charles Libove – Charles McCracken – David Nadien – Guy Lumia – Harold Kohon – Harry Cykman – Joseph Malin – Julien Barber – Kathryn Kienke – Kermit Moore – Marvin Morgenstern – Max Ellen – Max Pollikoff -Ralph von Breda-Selz – Richard Sortomme – Sanford Allen – Selwart Clarke – Yoko Matsuo
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background vocals:
Andrew Holland – Arlene Martell – Benny Diggs – Bill Swofford – Chris King – Delores Hall – Ellen Bernfeld – Heather Wood – Helen Miles – Helene Edner – Jack Tobi – Jean Denise Quitman – John Prine – Kenny Vance – Linda November – Mary Sue Johnson – Michael Gray – Rob Mounsey – Sally Lloyd – Sheila Ellis – Thomas Dunn – Vivian Cherry – Yvonne Lewis

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Tracklist:
01. I’m Attracted To You (Chudacoff/Goodman) 3.17
02. You’re The Girl I Love (Goodman) 3.54
03. Video Tape (Goodman) 3.16
04. There’s A Girl In The Heart Of Maryland (MacDonald/Carroll) 1.55
05. Two Lovers (Robinson) 3.43
06. Is It True What They Say About Dixie? (Marks/Caesar/Lerner) 2.21
07. Weary Blues From Waitin’ (Williams) 3.49
08. Daley’s Gone (Goodman) 4.32
09. My Old Man (Goodman) 4.07′
10. The Twentieth Century Is Almost Over (Prine/Goodman) 5.09

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Back in 1899, when everybody sang “Auld Lang Syne”
A hundred years took a long, long time for every boy and girl
Now there’s only one thing that I’d like to know
Where did the 20th century go?
I’d swear it was here just a minute ago
All over this world

And now the 20th century is almost over
Almost over, almost over
The 20th century is almost over
All over this world
All over this world, all over this world
The 20th century is almost over, all over this world

Does anyone remember the Great Depression?
I read all about it in True Confession
I’m sorry I was late for the recording session
But somebody put me on hold
Has anybody seen my linoleum floors
Petroleum jelly, and two World Wars?
They got stuck in the revolving doors
All over this world

And now the 20th century is almost over
Almost over, almost over
The 20th century is almost over
All over this world
All over this world, all over this world
The 20th century is almost over, all over this world
The winter’s getting colder, summer’s getting hotter
Wishin’ well’s wishin’ for another drop of water
And Mother Earth’s blushin’ ’cause somebody caught her
Makin’ love to the Man in the Moon
Tell me how you gonna keep ’em down on the farm
Now that outer space has lost it’s charm?
Somebody set off a burglar alarm
And not a moment too soon
Because…

The 20th century is almost over
Almost over, almost over
The 20th century is almost over
All over this world
All over this world, all over this world
Now the 20th century is almost over, all over this world

Old Father Time has got his toes a tappin’
Standing in the window, grumblin’ and a rappin’
Everybody’s waiting for something to happen
Tell me if it happens to you!
The Judgment Day is getting nearer
There it is in the rear view mirror
If you duck down I could see a little clearer
All over this world!
And now the 20th century is almost over
Almost over, almost over
The 20th century is almost over
All over this world
All over this world, all over this world
The 20th century is almost over, all over this world

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Steve Goodman (July 25, 1948 – September 20, 1984)

Quantum Jump – Barracuda (1977)

FrontCover1Quantum Jump was a 1970s British band, consisting of singer and keyboard player Rupert Hine (21 September 1947 – 4 June 2020), guitarist Mark Warner, bass player John G. Perry (then of Caravan), and drummer Trevor Morais (who had previously played in The Peddlers). The band is best remembered for its 1979 UK hit single “The Lone Ranger”.

Quantum Jump were formed in 1973 at Farmyard rehearsal studios by Trevor Morais and Jeffrey Levinson. The idea for the name came from a conversation Rupert Hine had with Anthony Stern, an ex-Cambridge University friend and filmmaker. “He had told me about the relatively recent discovery at Cambridge of the manner in which an electron’s energy increases and decreases, not linearly as had been long assumed, but in a discrete step, known as a “quantum”. The term “quantum jump” (later to be commonly referred to as “quantum leap”) was coined by the Cambridge team. I preferred “jump”, as it had more of a “soul / funk” music connotation”.

Quantum Jump’s sound was a hybrid of fusion, funk, and jazz rock. The first album was written and arranged in 1973–1974, and recorded (with equipment hired from AIR London) at Farmyard. Hine produced the sessions, with Steve Nye as sound engineer. The sessions were independently financed by Jeffrey Levinson (of Mountain Fjord) but, explained Hine, after some 18 months of managerial and contractual problems, the rights to the album were sold to The Electric Record Company in 1975. The label’s MD, Jeremy Thomas, believed that the song “The Lone Ranger” was a potential hit single if only it had something more “interesting” for the intro.

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Hine picked up on his remark and sang the longest word in the world (listed in The Guinness Book of Records) a capella, replacing the original intro to the song altogether.[1] The word in question, taken from the language of the Maori, New Zealand’s indigenous people, was the name of the hill Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand. On the record, the word (made to sound as if it were Native American, in keeping with the Lone Ranger and Tonto theme) is chanted as follows:

Taumata-whaka-tangi-hanga-kuayuwo
tamate-aturi-pukaku-piki-maunga
horonuku-pokaiawhen-uaka-tana-tahu
mataku-atanganu-akawa-miki-tora

“The Lone Ranger” was first released in 1976. After it was chosen as Tony Blackburn’s BBC Radio 1 “Record of the Week” (the nationwide morning radio show with the highest ratings in the UK at the time), it was banned when some fragments of lyrics were deemed to contain references to drugs and homosexuality. The BBC stopped playing the record, and it failed to chart. Disillusionment with the length of time it had taken to get the original record deal, and the lack of any really cohesive management, led to guitarist Mark Warner’s decision to leave and join Cat Stevens’ live band.

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Quantum Jump soldiered on for a second album, recorded in late 1976 as a trio with the help of various musician friends, most notably Caravan multi-instrumentalist Geoffrey Richardson. Barracuda was released in April 1977, coinciding with the band going out on the road for a couple of UK tours with Roye Albrighton (of Nektar) on guitar. The album had been expensive to record, and when it did not sell well enough, Quantum Jump disbanded at the end of 1977.

The band would, however, make an unexpected return two years later when a re-release of the “Lone Ranger” single became an unexpected hit. The song had been widely played by Kenny Everett on both his radio and TV shows. Re-released in 1979, it eventually reached number 5 in the UK Singles Chart. The band (including Mark Warner) reconvened for an appearance on Top of the Pops. A third Quantum Jump album was released to coincide with this unexpected “smash” single. Titled Mixing, it was essentially a collection of the best tracks from the first two albums, albeit heavily reworked and remixed.

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Hine went on to become the producer of more than 100 albums for artists as varied as Tina Turner, Bob Geldof, Chris de Burgh, the Thompson Twins, Stevie Nicks, Rush, the Waterboys, Suzanne Vega, Duncan Sheik, the Fixx and Howard Jones. He would also appear to form another band in the mid-1980s, called Thinkman, but this was simply another name for his solo recordings. In addition, there is the Soundtrack album Better Off Dead on A&M Records, featuring Rupert Hine, Cy Curnin (the Fixx), Martin Ansell, Terri Nunn, Thinkman, and E. G. Daily. The production is centered on Rupert Hine, and this is the first appearance of Thinkman. (by wikipedia)

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QJ’s second album more or less continues on the sound built-up with their debut, even taking the loss of Mark Warner (to Cat Stevens’s group) without that much notice. Their light jazzy rock bordering on the Canterbury was never that demented or incredibly attention-grabbing. On more than one occasion, I was brought to think of Steely Dan’s rather funky jazz-laced almost-MOR rock as the closest musical cousin. This may not be that attractive a description, but if you bear along with me a few minutes (and a few dozen listens of the album), you will find also some Happy The Man and maybe also the second part of Camel’s career (with Caravan members).

One can hear all the class of keyboard man Rupert Hine as well as (ex-Caravan) John G Perry’s funky bass lines, and if no tracks really stands out, none are weak bar the slightly less even Europe On A Dollar A Day.

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Worthy of notice is Simon Jeffes’s Penguin Café String Ensemble, but they stay very wise (and well clear of the RIO of their own albums) and blend in quite nicely with the overall soft and genteel mood of the album on the title track for example. The Tower Of Lowther horn section also intervenes but do not add that much, either. What I find is lacking in this album is the more aggressive feel and wished that Manzanera had guested on a few tracks.

Not usually a fan of Voiceprint Records, I must say that this re-issue of a minor work is almost flawless, although the bonus tracks are completely forgettable and the sound a bit flat, but since I have never heard the original vinyls… not that I was missing that much for the last three decades with QJ. (by Sean Trane)

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Personnel:
Rupert Hine (vocals, keyboards)
Trevor Morais (drums, percussion)
John G. Perry (bass, vocals)
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Elkie Brooks (vocals)
Ray Cooper (percussion)
Paul Keogh (guitar)
Helen Liebmann (cello)
Geoffrey Richardson (guitar, viola, flute)
Gavyn Wright (violin)
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The Tower Of Lowther Horn Section;
Jeff Daly (saxophone)
Henry Lowther (trumpet, flugelhorn)
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The Penguin Cafe String Ensemble:
Helen Liebmann (cello)
Gavyn Wright (violin)

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Tracklist:
01. Don’t Look Now (Hine/Morais/Perry/Hall) 4.13
02. The Seance (Hine/Morais/Perry/Obstoj) 3.45
03. Barracuda (Hine/Morais/Perry/Hall) 6.05
04. Starbright Park (Hine/Morais/Perry/Hall) 5.46
05. Love Crossed (Like Vines In Our Eyes) (Hine/Morais/Perry/Obstoj) 6.26
06. Blue Mountain (Hine/Morais/Perry/Obstoj) 3.45
07. Europe Ona Dollar A Day (Hine/Morais/Perry/Hall) 3.44
08. Neighbours (Hine/Morais/Perry/Obstoj) 6.39
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09. Dont Look Now (mixing version) ((Hine/Morais/Perry/Hall) 3.29
10. Blue Mountain (mixing version) (Hine/Morais/Perry/Obstoj) 5.57
11. Barracuda (mixing version) (Hine/Morais/Perry/Hall) 3.38
12. Take Me to the Void Again (incomplete work-in-progress mix) Take Me To The Void Again (Hine/Morais/Perry/Hall) 3.42
13. Summer In The City (J.Sebastian/M.Sebastian/Boone) (4:02)

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Rupert Hine

Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express – Happiness Heartaches (1977)

FrontCover1Brian Albert Gordon Auger (born 18 July 1939) is an English jazz rock and rock music keyboardist who specializes in the Hammond organ.

Auger has worked with Rod Stewart, Tony Williams, Jimi Hendrix, John McLaughlin, Sonny Boy Williamson, Eric Burdon. He incorporated jazz, early British pop, R&B, soul music, and rock into his sound. He has been nominated for a Grammy Award.

In 1965, Auger played on “For Your Love” by The Yardbirds as a session musician. That same year, Auger formed the group The Steampacket with Long John Baldry, Julie Driscoll, Vic Briggs, and Rod Stewart. Due to contractual problems there were no official recordings made by the band; nevertheless, nine tracks were laid down for promotional use in late 1965 and released on a CD by Repertoire Records in 1990 (licensed from Charly Records) as well as 12 live tracks from Live at the Birmingham Town Hall, February 2, 1964. Stewart left in early 1966 and soon thereafter the band broke up.

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With Driscoll and the band Trinity, he went on to record a cover version of David Ackles’ “Road to Cairo” and Bob Dylan’s “This Wheel’s on Fire”, which appeared on Dylan Covered. In 1969 Auger, Driscoll, and Trinity performed in the United States on the NBC special 33⅓ Revolutions Per Monkee.

In 1970, he formed the jazz fusion ensemble Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express shortly after abandoning the abortive “Wassenaar Arrangement” jazz rock commune in a small suburb of The Hague. Oblivion Express cultivated the talents of several notable musicians, including Average White Band drummers Robbie McIntosh and Steve Ferrone, as well as guitarist Jim Mullen. In 1971 he produced and appeared on Mogul Thrash’s only album, Mogul Thrash. Two members of that band, Roger Ball and Malcolm Duncan, would go on to form the Average White Band.

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Auger toured with Kim Simmonds, Gregg Errico, and Tim Bogert in the mid 1980s in a band they called Maestro. No album resulted from this collaboration and tour. In 1986, he played keyboards for the Italian singer Mango on the album Odissea.
Brian Auger after a show at the Cabaret de Monte-Carlo with bassist-arranger Pino Presti in 2006

In 1989, Auger was musical director for the thirteen-part film retrospective series Villa Fantastica made for German TV. A live recording of the series, Super Jam (1990), features Auger on piano, Pete York on drums, Dick Morrissey on tenor saxophone, Roy Williams on trombone, Harvey Weston on bass guitar, and singers Zoot Money and Maria Muldaur.

Auger toured with Eric Burdon in the early 1990s and recorded the live album Access All Areas with him in 1993. Oblivion Express was revived in 2005 with recording and touring. The group featured Brian Auger, his son Karma Auger on drums, his daughter Savannah Auger on vocals, and Derek Frank on bass.

In 2012, Auger released Language of the Heart, one of the few solo albums of his career, produced by Tea. It features Jeff “Skunk” Baxter and Julian Coryell on guitars.

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In 2014, Auger was invited by producer Gerry Gallagher to record with El Chicano as well as Alphonse Mouzon, David Paich, Alex Ligertwood, Ray Parker Jr., Lenny Castro, Vikki Carr, Pete Escovedo, Peter Michael Escovedo, Jessy J, Salvador Santana, Marcos J. Reyes, Siedah Garrett, Walfredo Reyes Jr., and Spencer Davis. This major recording project is due for release in 2019.

In 2014 Brian Auger and Oblivion Express played at the KJAZZ festival in Los Angeles and toured in Japan and Europe with Karma Auger on drums, daughter Ali Auger on vocals, Alex Ligertwood on vocals, Yarone Levy on guitar, Les King on bass, and Travis Carlton on bass. (by wikipedia)

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Originally released in 1977, and reissued on CD by Wounded Bird, Happiness Heartaches is a rock solid date by the Oblivion Express. Along with Brian Auger’s gigantic musical personality, the set is also driven in equal part by former Miles Davis and Return To Forever drummer Lenny White, as well as percussionist Lennox Laington. Rhythm is the key to groove, and it is displayed here in overdrive. This is “groove jazz” with teeth, and a deeply funky and welcome alternative to the increasing presence of disco drum machines in jazz recordings. And make no mistake, Happiness Heartaches is a jazz record, a claim many of the era’s jazzmen who were recording cannot hope to claim, so complete was their cave in to disco’s chart influence. “Spice Island,” with its languid vocal line and melody, influenced by Airto and Flora to be sure, but also by Leon Thomas’ solo recordings, is a case in point. Auger’s contrapuntal solo coming as a tag off the vocal and being played foil to by Jack Mills’ guitar is simply sublime. On “Gimme A Funky Beat,” the band takes the notion of Brazilian Carnaval into overdrive, with a rollicking bassline by Clive Chaman.

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Alex Ligertwood’s vocals leave a bit to be desired, as he is clearly not a jazz singer, but they aren’t too irritating. The set ends with a tour de force by Auger entitled “Paging Mr. McCoy,” a keyboard orgy propelled by the rhytmnatist’s percussion team. It’s full of crescendos, stops, starts, and side passages (like a beautiful, sped-up quote from the theme of John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme”) as well as regal overtones. The only real complaint is a consistent one regarding Wounded Bird’s reissues: rather than recasting and re-contextualizing the original cover art, they just shrink it, and there are no liner notes, making for a shoddy little package. Nevertheless, the music’s the important thing, so despite the real lack of aesthetics shown by the label visually, this is certainly a welcome addition to ever Brian Auger collection. (by Thom Jurek)

Oh yes, this is the funky side of Brian Auger !

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Personnel:
Brian Auger (keyboards)
Clive Chaman (bass)
Lennox Langton (percussion)
Alex Ligertwood (vocals, guitar)
Jack Mills (guitar)
Lenny White (drums, percussion)

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Tracklist:
01. Back Street Bible Class (Auger) 5.28
02. Spice Island (Mills/Auger) 8.56
03. Gimme A Funky Break (Ligertwood) 4.39
04. Never Gonna Come Down (Chaman) 5.34
05. Happiness Heartaches (Dennison/Ligertwood) 5.14
06. Got To Be Born Again (Langton) 4.18
07. Paging Mr. McCoy (Auger) 4.30

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The Band – Islands (1977)

FrontCover1Islands is the seventh studio album by the Canadian-American rock group the Band. Released in 1977 to mixed reviews, it is the final studio album from the group’s original lineup.

Primarily composed of previously unreleased songs from the Band’s career (including their 1976 cover of “Georgia on My Mind”, which was recorded to aid Jimmy Carter in his presidential bid), Islands was released to fulfill the group’s contract with Capitol Records, so that the soundtrack to their film The Last Waltz could be released on Warner Bros. Records. In the CD liner notes, Robbie Robertson compares the album to the Who’s Odds & Sods. (wikipedia)

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Ever since I first heard the magnificent ‘Acadian Driftwood’ and marvelled in particular at Garth Hudson’s tasteful use of synthesiser, it has always been a mystery to me why The Band’s last album, Northern Lights, Southern Cross, wasn’t universally hailed as an all-time classic.

I reckon it vies pretty closely with their second one as being the best Band album of them all, and if you missed it or were dissuaded from listening to it by some bird brained ‘critic’, then you are well and truly advised to make amends.

Meanwhile, the boys from Woodstock, who you may remember ceased operations earlier in the year – and held a million dollar bash in San Francisco to convince everybody of the fact – have gone and made another album! A good job too, because while almost every other ‘established’ band in America has become hopelessly erratic, or splintered off into and thousand and one nebulous side-trips, The Band remain constant, as reassuring an outfit as there’s ever been in rock music.

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I can’t for one minute believe that there are any of you out there who are not 100% convinced of the outstanding contribution The Band have made to contemporary American music, so I will not waste my limited supply of superlatives on preaching to the converted. I will employ then instead to transmit the pleasure I’ve gained from repeatedly listening to this new album.

At first I must admit that I was disappointed with it, and Richard Williams’ unfavourable review in MM seemed less of a hatchet job than it does now. However, I continued to play it day and night, and sure enough, its intricacies, subtle melodies and lyrical strength began to permeate my bleary senses.

It’s true it hasn’t got an epic on the scale of ‘Acadian Driftwood’, or a ballad with the power and beauty of ‘It Makes No Difference’ (we can really only expect to hear a handful of songs like that every year), but Islands does have many oustanding moments. Robbie Robertson, as usual, dominates the songwriting credits, and of the eight cuts which he wrote or co-wrote, ‘Right As Rain’ (also the new single), ‘Let The Night Fall’, a superb song called ‘Christmas Must Be Tonight’, and the somewhat ethereal instrumental title track are all well up to accepted Band standards, while the other songs, substantial thought they are, do not (for my ears) distinguish themselves individually yet.

Two standards, ‘Georgia On My Mind’ and ‘Ain’t That A Lot Of Love’, complete the album, and are treated with the same degree of sensitivity and enthusiastic reappraisal that made their ‘oldies’ album, Moondog Matinee, such a success.

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The quality of the arrangements, musicianship and production are, naturally, faultless; and if there is much less evidence of Robbie Robertson’s precise and imaginative playing than I would have liked, the splendidly authoritative work of Garth Hudson and Richard Manuel, in particular, compensate to some extent.

Although (God help me) I can’t for the life of me find ANY of my Band albums except the last one, I’ve never yet heard a record of theirs that I didn’t like a great deal, and the same goes for this one. I’ve already spent more time listening to it than all but three or four other albums released this year, and its several memorable passages stand up to the most exacting comparisons.

Even if they carry out their intention of staying off the road, I sincerely hope they keep making records for a very long time, especially if they are as good as this. (by Andy Childs. from ZigZag magazine, May 1977.)

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Personnel:
Rick Danko (bass, vocals)
Levon Helm (drums, vocals)
Garth Hudson (keyboards, piccolo, saxophone)
Richard Manuel (keyboards, vocals)
Robbie Robertson (guitars, vocal on 09.)
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Jim Gordon (flute on 06.)
Tom Malone (trombone on 06.)
Larry Packer (violin on 06.)
John Simon (saxophone on 06.)

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Tracklist:
01. Right As Rain (Robertson) 3.52
02. Street Walker (Robertson/Danko) 3.16
03. Let The Night Fall (Robertson) 3.11
04. Ain’t That A Lot Of Love (Banks/Parker) 3.08
05. Christmas Must Be Tonight (Robertson) 3.37
06. Islands (Robertson/Hudson/Danko) 3.54
07. The Saga Of Pepote Rouge /Robertson) 4.15
08. Georgia On My Mind (Carmichael/Gorrell) 3.09
09. Knockin’ Lost John (Robertson) 3.52
10. Livin’ In A Dream (Robertson) 2.51

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Rick Danko
(December 29, 1943 – December 10, 1999)

Levon Helm
(May 26, 1940 – April 19, 2012)

Richard Manuel
(April 3, 1943 – March 4, 1986)

Bo Hansson – Music Inspired by Watership Down (1977)

FrontCover1Bo Hansson (10 April 1943 – 23 April 2010) was a Swedish musician best known for his four instrumental albums released in the 1970s.

Music Inspired by Watership Down is a progressive rock album by Swedish musician Bo Hansson. The album is Hansson’s fourth solo album and is, as its name suggests, built around musical ideas inspired by Richard Adams’ heroic fantasy novel Watership Down. It was the second album of Hansson’s to have been based on a novel; his first solo album, Music Inspired by Lord of the Rings, had likewise been based on J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Hansson had already composed and released a musical suite inspired by Watership Down on his previous album Attic Thoughts. However, beyond its title, the Music Inspired by Watership Down album contains few overt references to the novel and instead features excerpts from the works of various poets, such as John Keats and Alexander Pope.

Music Inspired by Watership Down was originally released in Sweden as El-Ahrairah by YTF Records in 1977. This title was taken directly from the pages of Watership Down, with El-Ahrairah being the name of a trickster, folk hero-deity rabbit, known as “The Prince with a Thousand Enemies”. The album was subsequently released with its English title by Charisma Records in the United Kingdom and Sire Records in the United States, but it failed to chart on either side of the Atlantic. Music Inspired by Watership Down was reissued on CD in 2004 by Virgin Records. (by wikipedia)

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Bo Hansson’s fourth, & sadly his last, major album was inspired by the Richard Adams novel about the world seen through the eyes of rabbits. But even if you couldn’t care less about rabbits & you’ve never read the book & never will, this is still thoroughly enjoyable musical imagery. This is music that sounds like the theme it depicts. At times the listener can just picture the wind rippling grass in the fields or the sunset over the meadows. And yet at the same time it is still essentially rock music.
I agree with reviewers who have praised “Born of the Gentle South”, the lenghty opening track, & a miniture masterpiece in itself. But also, I have always enjoyed this album for it’s continuity. It has a near continuous flow of music following a single theme, and some segments are linked by delightful piano interludes.
By the time of this release (1977) many advances had been made in synthesizer design, & so organ was becoming obselete. Bo plays a variety of synthesizer/keyboards on this album, as well as piano & some guitar & some bass, and there are six other Swedish artists providing basses,drumming,concert flute,& wooden flute.
Guitarist Kenny Hakansson who appeared on “Attic Thoughts” & “Magicians Hat” makes some fine contributions of his unusual electric guitar style, but he also played a considerable role in the composition of parts of this music.

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There is a well composed air to this record & it has a realism about it. If other Hansson albums tend to carry you into a fantasy in some way, this one is a more feet on the ground affair.
Those familiar with the original vinyl version may feel at first that the addition of the “Migration Suite” seems out of place, but I have lived with both the vinyl & the CD for some time & I now consider this bonus piece an essential part of the music. Hakansson’s guitar playing alone on this extra track, & the fact that it was recorded live in the studio, make it worthwhile listening.
For me “Watership Down” represents the closing of an era when for a time rock music was often fused with other styles to produce some very sophisticed instrumental works. But a new young generation soon emerged who favoured a return to a strong rock back beat. At the time of this release [which was largely ignored by critics] terms such as “progressive rock” & “new age” didn’t exist. But whatever we call it nowadays this type of music has stood the test of time, & I am glad the works of Bo Hansson & similar artists are being remastered into CD format for all to enjoy, now & in the future. (by Stephen Keen)

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Personnel:
Sten Bergman (flute)
Torbjörn Ekman (wooden flute)
Kenny Håkansson (guitar, bass)
Bo Hansson (keyboards, guitar, bass, tambourine)
Göran Lagerberg (bass)
Tomas Netzler (bass)
Fredrik Norén (drums)
Pontus Olsson (piano)
Bo Skoglund (drums, percussion)

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Tracklist: 
01. Born In The Gentle South (Hansson/Håkansson) 16.34
02. Allegro For A Rescue (Hansson) 1.23
03. Legend And Light (Hansson/Håkansson) 3.39
04. Trial And Adversity (Hansson) 4.10
05. The Twice – Victory (Hansson) 8.14
06. The Kingdom Brightly Smiles (Hansson) 1.24
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07. Migration Suite (live studio recording) (Hansson/Håkansson) 11.39

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