Status Quo – If You Can’t Stand The Heat (1978)

FrontCover1f You Can’t Stand the Heat… is the eleventh studio album by English rock band Status Quo. Recorded at Wisseloord Studios, Hilversum, Holland, and produced by Pip Williams, it was released in October 1978 and reached #3 in the UK album chart. The sleeve notes that Aphex Aural Exciter was used in the recording process, thus contributing to a more atmospheric sound than its predecessor, “Rockin’ All Over The World”. Unusually for a Status Quo record, a brass section, The David Katz Horns, was used, as well as a backing vocal trio: Jacquie Sullivan, Stevie Lange, and Joy Yates.

“Again and Again” was the first single to be released from the album and managed to reach #13.

The second single to be released from the album was an edited version of “Accident Prone” which stalled at #36. (by wikipedia)

After the turn toward a more accessible sound that Rockin’ All Over the World supposed, the British band returned to its hard rock approach on its next work. If You Can’t Stand the Heat isn’t so hard and heavy as Quo or Blue for You, but it incorporates subjects — the electric guitars filling everywhere again, the groovy boogie spirit — that recover the rocking essence they seem to have lost only one year before. One of the best examples is the infectious “Again and Again,” the first single from the record, but also the sweaty “Gonna Teach You to Love Me” and the danceable “Long Legged Linda,” borrowed from keyboardist Andy Bown’s previous solo album.

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Status Quo keeps on worrying here about a clean production that enriches the different textures within the songs. The job is endorsed to Pip Williams for the second time, after the successful results in Rockin’ All Over the World. Parallel to the groovy approach, the band also tries to experiment with its sound, without giving its roots up. Surprises are specially relevant in “Accident Prone” — filled with disco synths, and one of the most singular and effective songs in the record — or in the gospel choirs found in “Oh! What a Night!” Accurate and precise performances in the rest of the album, in which also stand out the catchy “Stones” and “Let Me Fly” and the gorgeous ballad “Someone Show Me Home,” made of the 12th record by Status Quo one of their most unfairly underrated efforts from their discography from the second half of the ’70s. (by Robert Aniento)

Status Quo … again and again ….

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Personnel:
John Coghlan (drums)
Alan Lancaster (bass, guitar, vocals)
Rick Parfitt (guitar, vocals)
Francis Rossi (guitar, vocals)
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Andy Bown (keyboards, background vocals)
Frank Ricotti (percussion)
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background vocals:
Jacquie Sullivan – Stevie Lange – Joy Yates
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The David Katz Horns

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Tracklist:
01. Again And Again (Parfitt/Bown/Lynton) 3.41
02. I’m Giving Up My Worryin'” (Francis Rossi, Bernie Frost) 3.07
03. Gonna Teach You To Love Me (Lancaster/Green) 3.11
04. Someone Show Me Home (Rossi/Frost) 3.64
05. Long Legged Linda (Bown) 3.30
06. Oh, What A Night (Parfitt/Bown)
07. Accident Prone (Williams/Hutchins) 5.05
08. Stones (Lancaster) 3.57
09. Let Me Fly (Rossi/Frost) 4.24
10. Like A Good Girl (Rossi/Young) 3.27

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Paul Brett – Interlife (1978)

FrontCover1Paul Brett began his career appearing (while still a teenager) as an uncredited backing guitarist on ROY HARPER’s 1966 debut ‘Sophisticated Beggar’ which is generally acknowledged as contemporary British folk classic although not especially progressive when compared to some of Harper’s later work into the mid-seventies and beyond.

The same can be said of AL STEWART’s ‘Zero She Flies’, recorded in 1969 with Brett again appearing as a nameless studio musician while other studio players such as Trevor Lucas and Gerry Conway of FOTHERINGAY do appear in the liner notes.

Brett appeared (with credits) on the STRAWBS’ ‘Dragonfly’ studio album which was also recorded in 1969, and cut a couple of singles with ARTHUR BROWN. That same year he played guitar on most of ELMER GANTRY’S VELVET OPERA second and final release ‘Ride a Hustler’s Dream’, and closed out the decade as a member of the short-lived psych band FIRE, largely leading the studio effort for the now ultra-rare ‘The Magic Shoemaker’ LP.

After his work with the STRAWBS Brett formed his own band (PAUL BRETT SAGE) and released three studio albums between 1970-1972. That group consisted at various times of Nicky Higginbottom (flute, saxophone), Mike Piggot (later of the PENTANGLE), bassist Dick Dufall (STRAWBS, FIRE), Stuart Cowell (guitars) and percussionist Bob Voice (FIRE), among others. The band’s sound ranged from contemporary to progressive folk and mildly heavy rock with occasional blues-rock and even a bit of jazz.

Brett would go on to a lengthy solo career as a mostly 12-string guitarist, recording contemporary rock albums, along with a few progressive works including the complex guitar instrumentals ‘Earth Birth’ and ‘Interlife’. In later years he would release a number of modern folk, instructional and mainstream albums including several K-Tel records. (by Bob Moore)

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An innovative blend of folk and jazz rock, “Interlife” was an all instrumental album like “Earth Birth”, only this time Brett chose the ensemble approach rather than playing solo acoustic guitar. While he wields his considerable talent on all manner of axe, a weighty supporting cast helps bring forth a more celebratory vision. Among the well known talent are featured the ever present Mel Collins on saxes and a post Strawbs Rod Coombes on drums.

The title cut took up a whole side of the original vinyl, and is a tour de force of eclectic instrumental progressive rock. The main theme is noteworthy enough, but that which occupies most of the central minutes of the opus is simply brilliant, and lends itself, at turns, to light experimentation on guitars, saxes, synthesizers, even bass. This is like a less brocaded Mike Oldfield and better for it, especially relative to what Oldfield was doing around the same time. It’s hard to believe this is produced by assembled hired hands, so in sync are the participants.

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Side 2 consists of 4 shorter tracks in a similar vein. “Celebration” begins in a more folkie style with just Brett on acoustic guitar but gradually everyone joins in and Brett delivers a searing lead solo. Some of the time shifts are of a more jazzy nature, but the track eventually ends in a near jig, reminding us of Brett’s sturdiest roots. “Segregation” has a similar structure but the lead solo is just as impressive for its bass work by Delisle Harper. While the shift from the relative shelter of the interlife into real life is no doubt a stormy one in practice, and the finale “Into Life” conveys this, it’s heavy rock is out of place on the disk, and really the only disappointment.

It’s a shame that “Interlife” did not appear a few years earlier. Not that it wasn’t innovative even in its time, but in 1974 it might have had a chance to achieve for Paul Brett some merited recognition. Unfortunately, this release remains unavailable on CD, even though it begs for another life. (by Keneth Levine)

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Personnel:
Derek Austin (keyboards)
Paul Brett (guitar)
Mel Collins (brass)
Rod Coombes (drums)
Steve Gregory (brass)
David Griffiths (bass)
Delisle Harper (bass)

Alternate US frontcover:
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Tracklist:
01. Interlife 16.23
02. Celebration 5.36
03. Segregation 5.32
04. Isolation 3.16
05. Into Life 6.56

Music composed by Paul Brett

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Jorge Santana – Same (1978)

LPFrontCover1Guillermo “Jorge” Santana (13 June 1951 – 14 May 2020) was a Mexican guitarist, brother of musician Carlos Santana.

He was a member of Malo, who had a top twenty hit in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 with “Suavecito” in 1972.

He released two solo albums on Tomato Records, Jorge Santana and It’s All About Love, featuring former Malo members. In the mid-1970s he played with the Fania All-Stars.

His distinctive guitar is a green Fender Stratocaster, acquired in the 1970s.

After a long split, Santana toured with his brother, Carlos. The album Sacred Fire: Live in South America was recorded in Mexico City on this tour, featuring Jorge Santana, who played a personalized orange Paul Reed Smith guitar.

In 1994 he recorded an album with his brother and Carlos Santana’s nephew, Carlos Hernandez, called Santana Brothers.

He passed away of natural causes on 14 May 2020, aged 68. (by wikipedia)

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Musician Jorge Santana, guitarist and a pioneer of the Latin rock sound of the early ’70s through the Bay Area-based band Malo, has died. The 68-year-old musician died of natural causes on Thu., May 14 at his home in San Rafael, Calif., according to family.

Carlos Santana posted a tribute to his younger brother on his Facebook page on Friday: “We mourn the loss of our beloved brother, Jorge. He transitioned unto the realm of light that casts no shadow. The eyes of my heart clearly see him right in between our glorious and magnificent mother Josfeina and our father Jose.”

Jorge Santana and Malo — initially the Malibus — had a brush with chart fame through “Suavecito,” a single from the group’s self-titled first album, released in 1972. Though the group disbanded after four albums, it has recently become a popular concert draw on revival oldies circuits.

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But while that single remains a Latino soul classic, Malo was much more than that: As we pointed out for NPR’s Morning Edition feature One Hit Wonders/ Second-Best Songs, Malo was a musically sophisticated amalgamation of many influences, such that it deserves a place alongside other early-’70s, genre-defying bands.

It could have been the toughest job in the music business: being Carlos Santana’s guitar-playing younger brother. But musician, bandleader and WBGO radio host Bobby Sanabria summed it up well on his Facebook tribute to Jorge Santana: “Picture Blood Sweat & Tears fused with Chicago, fused with Afro-Cuban rhythms and guitar driven rock. It was Santana on steroids.”

Jorge Santana’s early-’70s peak was a heady time for Latin music. The younger Santana came roaring out of the starting blocks with his self-titled first album. Sensing an appetite for something beyond the more mainstream Latin acts, like Trini Lopez and Jose Feliciano, a mini-movement of Latin rock bands began to find, and create, their own spaces. Among them were Southern California’s jazz-influenced El Chicano; the Bay Area’s Azteca, which featured more than 15 members and leaned much more heavily on funk than rock; and even War, the largely African-American outfit that borrowed from cha-cha-chá and mambo, mixing them with deep-groove R&B.

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It was also the era of lead-guitarist gunslingers — and Jorge Santana more than held his own. The below playlist illustrates his ability to offer perfectly placed poetry amidst the dynamic passion of Afro-Cuban percussion and intricate horn arrangements.

The tragedy of that era is that ultimately the mainstream music business at the time, seemingly, had room for just one “Latin” act.

Santana was central in helping to open ears and hearts to the various forms of Latin music — the result is that everyone, from Gloria Estefan to J.Lo to Bad Bunny, can now more ably find a seat at the table. (www.npr.org)

And here´s his debut album as a solo artist … but … sorry folk … this album was inspired from this Funk/Disco/Philly-Sound style of these years … and this is relly not the kind of music I like …

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Personnel:
Richard Bean (vocals, guitar)
Jerry Marshall (drums)
Kincaid Miller (keyboards)
Yogi Newman (percussion)
Carlos Roberto (bass)
George  “Jorge” Santana (lead guitar, vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. Sandy (Bean/Santana)
02. Tonight You’re Mine (Bean/Santana)
03. Darling I Love You (Bean/Santana)
04. We Were There (Bean/Santana)
05. Love You, Love You (Bean/Santana)
06. Love The Way (Bean)
07. Seychells (Takanaka)
08. Nobody’s Perfect (Bean/Miller/Estrella)

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Guillermo “Jorge” Santana (13 June 1951 – 14 May 2020)

Elkie Brooks – Shooting Star (1978)

FrontCover1Elkie Brooks (born Elaine Bookbinder, 25 February 1945) is an English singer. She was a vocalist with the bands Dada and Vinegar Joe, and later became a solo artist. She gained her biggest success in the late 1970s and 1980s, releasing 13 UK Top 75 singles, and reached the top ten with “Pearl’s a Singer”, “Sunshine After the Rain” and the title track of the album No More the Fool. She has been nominated twice for Brit Awards.

She is generally referred to as the “British Queen of Blues”. Her 1981 album Pearls became the best-selling album by a UK female artist in the history of the charts at that point.[citation needed] In 2012, Brooks was the British female artist who had achieved the most Top 75 UK Albums Chart entries.

Brooks’ third album was a departure from her previous work and enjoyed relative success in the UK charts. Taking the place of Leiber & Stoller was renowned producer David Kershenbaum who guided Brooks along a more funk-orientated sound than on her previous work. The album has been released on CD, paired with its 1979 successor Live and Learn. (by wikipedia)

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This may not be the best album by Elkie Brooks . I still like her version of, “As”, better then the George Michael cover. (by bessie)

A bit of a low point here. Terrible versions of The Faces’ “Stay With Me” and Stevie Wonder’s “As”. Plus this album has some of the worst cover artwork too, so there really is no need to bother. (by MH 1000)

Indeed, Elkie Brooks sounds much better in her days with Vingar Joe ! On this album she sounds as just another Disco Queen …

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Personnel:
Elkie Brooks (vocals)
Jerry Knight (bass, background vocals)
Andy Newmark (drums)
Elliott Randall (guitar)
Jean Roussel – keyboards
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Pete Gage (guitar)
Simon Morton (percussion)

Elkie Brooks performs on stage circa 1978. (Photo by Gus Stewart/Redferns)

Tracklist:
01. Only Love Can Break Your Heart (Young) 3.05
02. Be Positive (Brooks) 3.47
03. Since You Went Away (Roussel/Knight) 3.43
04. Putting My Heart On The Line (Frampton) 3.09
05. Stay With Me (Wood/Stewart) 2.59
06. As (Wonder) 4.03
07. Learn To Love (Doheny) 4.04
08. Too Precious (Brooks/Hinkley) 4.23
09. Shooting Star (Gage) 2.51
10. Just An Excuse (Brooks) 3.41

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Striker – Same (1978)

FrontCover1This versatile hard rock quartet was formed in 1977 by the multi-talented Rick Randle (vocals, keyboards, guitar). Enlisting the services of Scott Roseburg (vocals, bass, guitar), Rick Ramirez (guitar) and Rick Taylor (drums, vocals), Striker signed with Arista Records the following year. Their music incorporated rock, funk, boogie, blues and soul influences, and although this eclecticism avoided press pigeon-holing, it also limited their potential audience. Their album featured impressive guitar and vocal harmonies, but lacked identity because of the varied styles employed. Failing to win an appreciative audience, Randle dissolved the band in 1979. Rick Ramirez went on to join Bruzer. (by AllMusic)

Striker was an American combo from Seattle, Washington, which sole album (self-titled, 1978) largely deserve an official remaster. Until this happens, an obscure bootleg label has released the album on CD, transferred from vinly, yes, but really well done.

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Originally known as Randle-Rosburg, the group became Striker in the mid-seventies and was amongst Seattle’s leading hard rock bands of the era. The group was soon signed by a major label (Arista) and recorded & released their debut in 1978.
Their style was pretty ahead of its time, blending classic hard rock with some melodic rock twist that would become popular on FM radio two years after.
Think Legs Diamond, The Babys (John Waite), some of New England, and why not, a bit of Angel (Giuffria).

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‘Think About It’ is an extremely contagious opener with a catchy guitar work, smooth vocals and some synth flourishes. ‘Midnight Flyer’ is more midtempo, melodic and with lovely harmony vocals.

Striker add acoustic guitars on the dynamic ‘Wish’, while ‘More Than Enough’ rocks with a fine swaggering riff. Then ‘Hard On Me’ is an edgy blues tinged rocker in the mould of early Legs Diamond. All very ‘American’.

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Check carefully the main riff of ‘On My Way’… holy cow, this is exactly the same used later by Def Leppard for their hit ‘Photograph’!
‘Hard On Me’ has some Aerosmith on it, then the style changes completely in the Californian AOR of ‘By Your Side’, a smooth melodic piece that should have been ranked high on FM radio.

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‘Running In The Wrong Lane’ returns to rock ‘n roll plenty of swagger complete with a bar-room piano and a hooky chorus, then the album ends ‘We Got The Power’ a rocker bringing to mind the very first Foreigner.

“Striker” is a lost little gem from the late Seventies US scene, and rocks with an energy and melody sure to appeal classic rock fans. Unfortunately, the group disbanded in 1980 with all members joining renowned acts, like vocalist and keyboard / guitar player Rick Randle being involved with the excellent band Bighorn.

Highly Recommended. (0dayrox.org)

And “More Than Enough” could be a perfect song for Rod Stewart & The Faces …

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Personnel:
Rick Ramirez (lead guitar)
Rick Randle (vocals, keyboards, guitar)
Scott Rosburg (vocals, bass, guitar)
Rick Taylor (drums)

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Tracklist:
01. Think About It (Randle) 3.24
02. Midnight Flyer (Randle) 3.34
03. Wish (Randle) 3.47
04. More Than Enough (Rosburg) 4.33
05. On My Way (Randle) 3.52
06. Hard On Me (Randle/Ramirez) 3.08
07. Somebody Help Me (Rosburg/Ramirez) 3.28
08. By Your Side (Randle) 3.39
09. Running In The Wrong Lane (Rosburg/Ramirez) 3.33
10. We Got The Power (Randle) 4.39

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Kenny Rogers – The Gambler (1978)

FrontCover1Kenneth Ray Rogers (August 21, 1938 – March 20, 2020) was an American singer, songwriter, actor, record producer, and entrepreneur. He was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2013. Rogers was particularly popular with country audiences but also charted more than 120 hit singles across various music genres, and topped the country and pop album charts for more than 200 individual weeks in the United States alone. He sold over 100 million records worldwide during his lifetime, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time.

On March 20, 2020, Rogers died under hospice care at his home in Sandy Springs, Georgia, a representative for the singer said in a statement. Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the family is planning a small private service with a public memorial planned for a later date.

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The Gambler is the sixth studio album by Kenny Rogers, released by United Artists in December 1978. One of his most popular, it has established Rogers’ status as one of the most successful artists of the 1970s and 1980s. The album reached many markets around the world, such as the Far East and Jamaica, with Rogers later commenting “When I go to Korea or Hong Kong people say ‘Ah, the gambler!'” (as per the sleeve notes to the 1998 released box set “Through the Years” on Capitol Records). The album has sold over 35 million copies.

The title track “The Gambler” was written by Don Schlitz, who was the first to record it. It was also covered by several other artists, but it was Kenny Rogers’ adaptation of the tale that went on to top the country charts and win a Song of the Year Grammy, later becoming Rogers’ signature song. Although Johnny Cash recorded the song first, Kenny Rogers’s version was released first. Both this song and “She Believes in Me” became pop Postermusic hits, helping Rogers become well-known beyond country music circles. Although largely compiled from songs by some of the music business’s top songwriters, such as Alex Harvey, Mickey Newbury, and Steve Gibb, Rogers continued to show his own talent for songwriting with “Morgana Jones”. The album was produced by Larry Butler.

Its popularity has led to many releases over the years. After United Artists was absorbed into EMI/Capitol in 1980, “The Gambler” was reissued on vinyl and cassette on the Liberty Records label. Several years later, Liberty issued an abridged version of the album, removing the track “Morgana Jones”. EMI Manhattan Records released “The Gambler” on CD in the 1980s.[3] An ‘Original Master Recording’ from Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs was released on vinyl (audiophile edition vinyl).[4] Finally, “The Gambler” was released on Rogers’ own Dreamcatcher Records in 2001 as part of the Kenny Rogers “Original Masters Series.”

In Britain, both the title cut and the album did very well in the country market, but both failed to reach the top 40 of the pop charts. In the 1980s the single of “The Gambler” was re-issued and made the top 100 sales list, but again charted outside the top 40. It wasn’t until the song was re-issued in 2007 when the song was adopted by the England Rugby Team at the Rugby World Cup that it charted at its #22 peak.

Additionally, “I Wish That I Could Hurt That Way Again” was later a single in 1986 for T. Graham Brown, whose version went to #3 on the country charts. (by wikipedia)

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Kenny Rogers took a bit of a chance in releasing this loosly based concept album at the time, but boy, did it pay off! Sales for the album went through the roof, as the title track and “She Believes In Me” became pop crossover hits, with the latter reaching the pop Top 10. Later, “The Gambler” was turned into a string of made-for-television movies. (by James Chrispell)

he Gambler was Kenny Rogers’ third album of 1978, after Love or Something Like It and Every Time Two Fools Collide, a duet album with Dottie West. Thanks to its career-defining title track, The Gambler was also Kenny’s best-selling studio album, with more than five million copies sold in the US.

Written by Don Schlitz, “The Gambler” was a story song, the type at which Rogers excelled. It tells the tale the down-on-his-luck narrator who receives some unsolicited advice from a professional gambler during a late-night chance meeting on a “train bound for nowhere”. It was a monster hit, reaching #1 on the country chart, #3 on the adult contemporary chart and #16 on the Hot 100, and is Rogers’ best-remembered song today. Surprisingly, he wasn’t the first to record it. Bobby Bare and Johnny Cash had both released it as an album cut and Schlitz recorded his own version, which maxed out at #65. The album’s other hit single was the ballad “She Believes in Me”, a lush ballad about a struggling musician and the supportive wife he repeatedly takes for granted. It’s a bit too AC-leaning for a lot of people, but it’s a song I’ve always liked a lot. It reached #1 on the country and AC charts, and reached #5 on the Hot 100.

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“I Wish That I Could Hurt That Way Again” is another nice ballad, written by Rafe Van Hoy, Don Cook and Curly Putman, that would go on to be a big hit for T. Graham Brown in 1986. I think Kenny’s version could have been a big hit, but perhaps United Artists didn’t want to release another ballad on the heels of “She Believes In Me”. Sonny Throckmorton’s “A Little More Like Me (The Crucifixion)”, about a charismatic celebrity — a thinly veiled metaphor for Christ — is another track I really enjoyed.

KennyRogers02In the 1970s, country artists with crossover potential rarely released albums that were country through and through, preferring instead to include a variety of styles in order to appeal to as wide an audience as possible (although more often than not they managed to please no one). Kenny Rogers was no exception. I expected The Gambler to be a more country-leaning album, but a number of tracks: “Makin’ Music for Money”, “The Hoodooin’ of Miss Fannie DeBerry” (both written by Alex Harvey) and “Tennessee Bottle” incorporate a bluesy, funky vibe that might have been considered cutting edge in the late 70s, but it hasn’t aged at all well. I didn’t like any of these songs. Add to that list Rogers’ original composition “Morgana Jones”, a hot mess of a song that features some jazz scatting along with the R&B and funk.

Overall, The Gambler is a mixed bag. Only the two hit singles are essential listening. The album can be streamed, and it may be worth picking up a cheap copy if you can find it, but I recommend cherry-picking the handful of decent songs and forgetting about the rest.(by Razor X)

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Personnel:
Thomas Cain (keyboards)
Pete Drake (steel guitar)
Gene Golden (keyboards, background vocals)
Steve Glassmeyer (keyboards, saxophone, background vocals)
Hargus “Pig” Robbins (keyboards)
Kenny Rogers (vocals)
Edgar Struble /synthesizer, clavinet, percussion, background vocals)
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guitar:
Jimmy Capps Randy Dorman – Ray Edenton – Rick Harper – Billy Sanford – Jerry Shook –Tony Joe White – Reggie Young
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bass:
Tommy Allsup – Bob Moore – Dennis Wilson
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drums, percussion:
Eddy Anderson – Jerry Carrigan – Bobby Daniels – Byron Metcalf
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strings (arranged by Bill Justis)
Byron Bach – George Brinkley – Marvin Chantry – Roy Christensen – Carl Gorodetzky –Lennie Haight – Sheldon Kurland – Steven Smith – Gary Vanosdale – Pamela Vanosdale
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background vocals:
Dottie West – The Jordanaires – Bill Medley – Mickey Newbury

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Tracklist:
01. The Gambler (Schlitz) 3.31
02. I Wish That I Could Hurt That Way Again (Van Hoy/Cook/Putman) 3.00
03. King Of Oak Street (Harvey) 5.15
04. Makin’ Music For Money (Harvey) 3.20
05. Hoodooin’ Of Miss Fannie Deberry (Harvey) 4.40
06. She Believes In Me (Gibb) 4.19
07. Tennessee Bottle (Ritchey) 4.02
08. Sleep Tight, Goodnight Man (Lorber/Silbar) 2.55
09. Little More Like Me (The Crucifixion) (Throckmorton) 2.50
10. San Francisco Mabel Joy (Newbury) 3.44
11. Morgana Jones (Rogers) 3.10

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Kenneth Ray Rogers (August 21, 1938 – March 20, 2020)

Bob Weir – Heaven Help The Fool (1978)

FrontCover1Heaven Help The Fool was the second solo album by Grateful Dead rhythm guitarist Bob Weir, released in 1978. It was recorded during time off from touring, in the summer of 1977, while Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart recovered from injuries sustained in a vehicular accident. Weir returned to the studio with Keith Olsen, having recorded Terrapin Station with the producer earlier in the year. Several well-known studio musicians were hired for the project, including widely used session player Waddy Wachtel and Toto members David Paich and Mike Porcaro.

Unlike Weir’s previous solo album (Ace), none of the songs entered Grateful Dead set lists – except the title track, which was briefly played as an instrumental version in the Fall of 1980. Those performances were at the Warfield Theatre in San Francisco (nine performances in September and October), twice at the Saenger Performing Arts Center in New Orleans, and six times at Radio City Music Hall in New York City (all in October).

Additionally, “Salt Lake City” was played at one Grateful Dead concert, in Salt Lake City, at the Delta Center, February 21, 1995. (by wikipedia)

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Issued half a decade after his first solo LP, Ace (1972), Heaven Help the Fool is the antithesis of Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir’s debut effort. Although initially dismissed by critics and Deadheads alike as a slick, soulless, L.A.-sounding disc, the passage of time has somewhat mitigated that assessment — but not by very much. One of the primary factors in the decidedly over-produced and at times uncomfortable-sounding approach can be directly attributed to the absence of his Grateful Dead bandmates. This is in direct contrast to Ace — which was, in reality, a full-blown Dead album in disguise. Another common thread is producer Keith Olsen. As he had done with the Dead’s Terrapin Station (1977) long-player the previous year, Olsen obscures some uniformly interesting melodies with disco-laden arrangements, the most blatant offenders being “Wrong Way Feelin'” and a reworking of Marvin Gaye’s “I’ll Be Doggone.” They’re abused with synthesizer-drenched rhythms and disposable, generic backing vocals.

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Even the array of studio talent — which includes Waddy Wachtel (guitar), David Foster (keyboards), fellow Bay Area Sons of Champlin-founder Bill Champlin (keyboards), Mike Porcaro (bass), Tom Scott (woodwinds), and former Elton John bandmembers Nigel Olsson (drums) and Dee Murray (bass) — is unable to salvage a majority of the material on Heaven Help the Fool. However, it is Weir’s uniformly strong original compositions — penned with longtime lyrical collaborator John Barlow — and well-conceived choice of cover tunes which suffer the most. Those wishing to hear infinitely more tolerable interpretations of tracks such as “Bombs Away,” “This Time Forever,” “Shade of Grey,” and Lowell George’s “Easy to Slip” should seek out Weir/Wasserman Live (1998). Likewise, the more industrious enthusiast might even wish to locate the Grateful Dead’s very occasional live versions of “Heaven Help the Fool” and “Salt Lake City.” (by Lindsay Planer)

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Personnel:
Mike Baird (drums)
David Foster (keyboards)
David Paich (keyboards)
Mike Porcaro (bass)
+Bob Weir (guitar, vocals)
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Bill Champlin (keyboards on 02., 03., 07. + 08, background vocals)
Dee Murray (bass on 02.)
Nigel Olsson (drums on  02. + 07.)
Peggy Sandvig (keyboards on 04.)
Tom Scott (saxophone on 01., 03. + 05.)
Waddy Wachtel (lead guitar on 02., 03. + 07.)
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background vocals:
Carmen Twilley – Tom Kelly – Lynette Gloud

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Tracklist:
01. Bombs Away (Barlow/Weir) 5.05
02. Easy To Slip (George/Kibbee) 3.03
03. Salt Lake City (Barlow/Weir) 4.00
04. Shade Of Grey (Barlow/Weir) 4.23
05. Heaven Help The Fool (Barlow/Weir) 5.28
06. This Time Forever (Barlow/Weir) 4.06
07. I’ll Be Doggone (Moore/Robinson/Tarplin) 3.05
08. Wrong Way Feelin’ (Barlow/Weir) 5.07

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Herb Alpert & Hugh Masekela – Same (1978)

FrontCover1Herb Alpert / Hugh Masekela is collaborative studio album by Herb Alpert and Hugh Masekela. It was recorded in Hollywood, California and released in 1978 via A&M Records and Horizon Records labels.

A mustachioed Herb Alpert breaks out of his ’70s blue funk to fuse himself with fellow horn player Hugh Masekela and producer/pianist Caiphus Semenya in a magnificent LP of South African/American pop/jazz. From the joyous opening strains of the South African oldie “Skokiaan,” to the haunting groove of “Moonza,” Alpert wholeheartedly melts into Masekela’s distinctive idiom, his trumpet a relaxed foil for the South African exile’s blazing flügelhorn. But Masekela can also lean the other way, joining Alpert in TJB-like dual harmony on “Ring Bell.” The band is mostly a coterie of L.A. sessionmen, but they can swing along to the township jive pretty well, and they have some excellent musical material (mostly by Semenya) to work with. Alpert sounds like he’s having more fun making music than he has in a long time. (by Richard S. Ginell)

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I got this album on vinyl when it first came out in the late 1970s, but lost my copy (along with the equipment needed to play it) in the flooding from Hurricane Katrina. I was reminded of how much I missed it when I heard on the radio a few minutes ago a version of one of the songs from it (“Skokiaan”) by local (New Orleans) trumpeter Kermit Ruffins. Ruffins is a great guy and a capable player, but his “Skokiaan” can’t hold a candle to the version done all those years ago by Alpert and Masekela.

At the time I first heard this album, I was the music editor of an Atlanta publication called “Creative Loafing.” In that capacity, I received dozens of free review copies of records and the opportunity to go out practically every night for club and concert performances, at no cost to me. Naturally, after a while I became as jaded about music as a prostitute probably does about sex. It took a lot to get me enthused about a record or a performance.

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In that context, “Herb Alpert/Hugh Masekela” managed to get my attention and win my affection with its irresistibly infectious combination of sunny melodies and African rhythms. Not quite jazz, but not fitting neatly into any other musical pigeonhole, either, this music has the power to transport the listener to an African savannah on a cloudless day, there to watch water buffalo leisurely enjoying a watering hole while gazelles cavort nearby. There’s a purity and simplicity about tunes like “Ring Bell,” “Happy Hanna,” and “African Summer” that makes them timeless, and they’re played with an apparently effortless ease. American Alpert and South African partner Masekela (along with their stellar bandmates) simply sound as if they were born to make music together. They sound as if they were born to make THIS music together.

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In a nutshell, the music on this record is a perfect respite from a world rife with economic distress and cynical political wrangling. The world truly NEEDS this kind of music right now, but no one’s playing stuff quite like this these days. That’s why it’s criminal that this record is out of print, and used CD copies start at $78.00. (Walter Bonam)

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Personnel:
Herb Alpert (flugelhorn, trumpet, background vocals)
Hotep Cecil Barnard (piano)
Paulinho da Costa (percussion)
Chuck Domanico (bass)
James Gadson (drums)
Hugh Masekela (flugelhorn)
Caiphus Semenya (piano, background vocals)
Ian Underwood (synthesizer)
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guitar:
Arthur Adams – Freddie Harris – Lee Ritenour
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Michael Boddicker (synthesizer on 06.)
Craig Hindley (synthesizer on 04.)
Louis Johnson (bass on 01.)
Tommy Tedesco (guitar on 05.) (tracks: 5)
Carlos Vega (drums on 05.)
Spider Webb (drums on 06.)
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french horn:
Marylin L. Robinson – Sidney Isaac Muldrow
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trombone:
Donald Cooke – George Bohanon – Maurice Spears
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background vocals:
Hugh Masekela – Lani Hall – Letta Mbulu

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Tracklist:
01. Skokiaan (Glazer/Msarurgwa) 3.46
02. Moonza (Semenya/Alpert) 4.43
03. Ring Bell (Weiss/Ragovoy) 3.29
04. Happy Hanna (Semenya/Barnard) 5.04
05. El Lobo (The Wolf) (Lobo) 7.24
06. African Summer (Semenya) 3.23
07. I’ll Be There For You (Semenya) 7.08

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Larry Coryell – Standing Ovation (1978)

FrontCover1A mixed bag with classical, traditional Indian songs, originals, and even modified funk played by Coryell and L. Subramaniam on violin and tampura. Coryell also plays a little piano and proves an effective partner, although sometimes the stylistic leaping around can be jarring. by Ron Wynn

Named after the guitar brand he uses, this album also implies “solo” written on the same level as the album. Indeed Standing Ovation sits firmly well in the late 70’s acoustic period of LC, beit solo or in duo, PC or SK and later the Meting Of The Spirit trio with PDL and JMcL. So we have an album where LC plays an excellent relaxing acoustic guitar, shifting from 16 to 12 strings at will, with one track where he tries himself on the piano, aptly titles Piano Improvisation and one more track, an Indian raga where he’s accompanied by violinist Subramanian. The acoustic guitar pieces (all written by him) range from roughly 2 minutes to just below five and show LC in varying moods featuring his mastery of the guitar and the depth of his talent, but the usual Reinhardt influences are certainly not as audible as it is on his other albums of the time.

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Progheads will have a preference for the Indian raga Spiritual dance and its 7-mins+ music happiness, the only non-Coryell track of the album. As for LC’s performance on the piano, it is adequate and demonstrates a good understanding of the instrument, but understandably he’s less at ease. Not an essential album for progheads, although if you’re a Coryell fan, it will quickly become one. (by Sean Trane)

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Personnel:
Larry Coryell (guitar, piano)
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L. Subramaniam (violin, tambura on 09.)

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Tracklist:
01. Discotexas (Coryell) 3.27
02. Excerpt (Coryell) 4.00
03. Ravel (Coryell) 3.47
04. Wonderful Wolfgang (Coryell) 4.51
05. Piano Improvisation (Coryell) 2.07
06. Sweet Shuffle (Coryell) 4.57
07. Moon (Coryell) 3.29
08. Park It Where You Want (Coryell) 1.46
09. Spiritual Dance (Subramaniam) 7.36

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Larry Coryell (April 2, 1943 – February 19, 2017)

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Gabor Szabo – Belsta River (1978)

FrontCover1Belsta River is an album by Hungarian guitarist Gábor Szabó (March 8, 1936 – February 26, 1982) featuring performances recorded in Stockholm in 1977 and released on the Swedish Four Leaf Clover label.

For Szabo’s second Swedish recording, only guitarist Janne Schaffer returned. Producer Lars Samuelson, a talent scout of eclectic tastes, cast the rest of the band with a variety of European musicians including Zappa bassist (and, subsequently, classical composer) Pekka Pohjola. Named for the Ballstaan River crossing through Sundbyberg, a suburb north of Stockholm where the recording was made (and pictured on the cover), BELSTA RIVER is an enjoyable, often engaging session with a pleasant back-to-basics feel.

Significantly, BELSTA RIVER does not wear the dated shackles of so much “jazz” made in 1978. While rife with the electronic instrumentation and (somewhat) danceable beats of its predecessor (FACES) and the final album which follows (FEMME FATALE), there is an abundant sense of invention and interplay here lacking in Szabo’s American recordings at the time. The long tunes allow for plenty of blowing and a refreshing opportunity for expression. The talent involved contributes directly to the musicality of the proceedings here rather than to the string and vocal contrivances that falsely decorate the other albums. And Samuelson’s production is crystal clear — a substantial sonic achievement over the more satisfying SMALL WORLD. It is perhaps one of the cleanest ever provided to Szabo.

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“24 Carat” starts as little more than a jam on a riff (partially borrowed from Tony Dumas’s “It Happens”), ignited by the bassist and chockful of vamps familiar to the guitarist. But it’s worth noting how much Szabo seems to feel at home here; craftily weaving a fabric of moods into a genuine musical frenzy. Gulgowski and Pohjola, spellbound and spellbinding, solo impressively.

Likewise, “First Tune In The Morning” adds a twist of dark funk (courtesy of Pohjola) to the mysterious Eastern influence of the earlier “Lady Gabor.” It is a mesmerizing concoction wherein Szabo, Schaffer and Gulgowski’s keyboards stir a lavish, infectious brew.

“Stormy,” presumably dated by 1978, gets a new reading here by Szabo (his first is on GABOR SZABO 1969) but pleasingly yields one of his finer, beautifully constructed song-like solos. Schaffer’s rockish solo follows; as much in its brief space a showpiece as a tribute to the leader who’s style he’d clearly assimilated.

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Perhaps the most fascinating turn of all is the unusual guitar/bass dirge of “Django.” Jarring as much as an acid-trip elegy, it’s Szabo’s first and only reference to Django Reinhardt, the subject of John Lewis’s famous ode. After several listens, “Django” impresses most in the way Gabor Szabo can make a hollowed-out body of wood and strings positively sing. A devilishly seductive piece.

Szabo is clearly at ease here; comfortable with his surroundings and seemingly satisfied with his support, even as he spins himself into worlds of his own. As a result, his playing is spirited, and, though too often reliant on pet licks, quite enjoyable. Gulgowski and Pohjola are outstanding additions and contribute notably here through a high level of musicianship and an apparent ability to easily slip into Szabo’s universe. (dougpayne.com)

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Issued in 1978 on LP, Belsta River, one of Hungarian guitarist and composer Gabor Szabo’s finest albums, is finally out on CD — in a double pack with his other Stockholm date, 1972’s Small World. The set is on Four Leaf Records and is available as an inexpensive import. Six years after the pair of sessions that yielded the critically acclaimed but commercially ignored Small World, Szabo once again teamed with Swedish guitarist Janne Schaffer in a sextet setting that also featured keyboards, bass, drums, and hand percussion. There are only four tracks on the set: two fine Szabo originals (“24 Carat,” “First Tune in the Morning”), “Django” by the Modern Jazz Quartet’s John Lewis, and J.R. Cobb’s classic “Stormy.” With Schaffer playing foil on every track here and Wlodek Gulgowski’s stunning left-handed improvisational work on piano, this is more of a blowing session than any Szabo had ever played on.

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It’s funky, greasy, and elegant. “24 Carat,” with its bluesy Latin funk, is the perfect opportunity for everyone to get acquainted — solos and bubbling bass riffs pop the tune so deep into a groove there’s nowhere to go but over the top. “Django” is taken with gracious restraint, as is the beginning of “First Tune in the Morning,” which becomes a trippy exercise in the kind of exotica that Weather Report once did so well, powered by a pair of deeply lyrical superchopper guitar players. “Stormy” is a lyric masterpiece that, in its understatement, gives way to some of the most tasteful interactive soloing in electric jazz history. In all, this was Szabo’s last fine moment on record, but what a moment it was. (by Thom Jurek)

Recorded at Europa Film Studio in Stockholm, Sweden on January 6 & 7, 1978

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Personnel:
Malando Gassama (percussion)
Wlodek Gulgowski (piano, synthesizer)
Pekka Pohjola (bass)
Janne Schaffer (guitar)
Peter Sundell (drums)
Gábor Szabó (guitar)

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Tracklist:
01. 24 Carat (Szabó) 14.00
02. Django (Lewis) 4.07
03. First Tune In The Morning (Szabó) 13.06
04. Stormy (Buie/Cobb) 8.28

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