Rory Gallagher – Notes From San Francisco (2011)

FrontCover1.jpgNotes from San Francisco is a posthumous album by Irish musician Rory Gallagher. Released in 2011, It consists of two CDs. The first disc is a never released album that Gallagher recorded in San Francisco in December 1977. The album was to be a major shift for Gallagher. Rather than producing it himself, he worked with Elliot Mazer a successful producer who had a long track record with artists such as Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin and The Band. At the last minute — causing great distress to his manager and brother Dónal and to his record company — Gallagher decided to just pull the record. In an interview, Gallagher stated “it wasn’t because of the material or the musicians or anything like that. It was a song thing that I didn’t think on the technical side everything worked. So I scrapped the thing” After scrapping the album Gallagher reworked his band firing all the musicians except the bass player and hiring a new drummer. This new Gallagher power trio re-recorded the San Francisco songs with Gallagher producing and released them as Photo-Finish.  Shortly before his death, Rory reportedly gave Dónal permission to eventually release the original San Francisco versions of the songs if they were remixed. Dónal had his son Daniel remix the songs in 2011. The second disc is a live performance also recorded in San Francisco in December 1979.  Peter Notes from San Francisco is a posthumous album by Irish musician Rory Gallagher. Released in 2011, It consists of two CDs. The first disc is a never released album that Gallagher recorded in San Francisco in December 1977. The album was to be a major shift for Gallagher. Rather than producing it himself, he worked with Elliot Mazer a successful producer who had a long track record with artists such as Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin and The Band.

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At the last minute — causing great distress to his manager and brother Dónal and to his record company — Gallagher decided to just pull the record. In an interview, Gallagher stated “it wasn’t because of the material or the musicians or anything like that. It was a song thing that I didn’t think on the technical side everything worked. So I scrapped the thing” After scrapping the album Gallagher reworked his band firing all the musicians except the bass player and hiring a new drummer. This new Gallagher power trio re-recorded the San Francisco songs with Gallagher producing and released them as Photo-Finish. [1] Shortly before his death, Rory reportedly gave Dónal permission to eventually release the original San Francisco versions of the songs if they were remixed. Dónal had his son Daniel remix the songs in 2011. The second disc is a live performance also recorded in San Francisco in December 1979.

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It’s surprising, considering the interesting back story on the studio portion of this posthumous Rory Gallagher release, that there are no notes on the actual packaging to chronicle its eventual appearance in 2011, nearly 33 years after being recorded in December 1977. According to the press release though, Gallagher clashed with producer Elliot Mazer about the mix on these dozen tunes and not only shelved the tapes, but broke up his longtime band after the San Francisco session ended. Out went keyboardist Lou Martin and drummer Rod de’Ath, replaced by skinsman Ted McKenna (bassist Gerry McAvoy remained) to strip down the sound for his next phase. About half these songs, such as “Mississippi Sheiks,” “Fuel to the Fire,” “Brute Force & Ignorance,” “Cruise on Out,” and “Overnight Bag” appeared on 1978’s Photo Finish in different performances. Some, like the closing “Out on the Tiles” and “B Girl,” will be new to all but the most ardent Gallagher followers. Shortly before his death, the guitarist apparently mentioned to his brother Donald that he’d like the tapes to be released someday if they were remixed, which is exactly what Donald’s son Daniel did in 2011, resulting in these long-lost tracks finally seeing the light of day.

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Despite Gallagher’s reservations, everything here is up to his usual high standard, and he obviously respected the material enough to re-record the bulk of it with a different band and producer later that year. The electric violin on “Mississippi Sheiks” is a new twist on both Gallagher’s blues-rock style and the song, which helps differentiate this version from the more famous one that appeared on Photo Finish. Saxophone, played by Martin Fiero, enhances two cuts, also bringing a unique groove, especially to the lumbering “Brute Force and Ignorance.” The package includes a December 1979 live show, also recorded in San Francisco, that finds Gallagher and his two-piece in typically fine fettle. They revisit the Taste-era chestnut “Bullfrog Blues” and tear into the rarity “I’m Leavin'” with their notorious paint-peeling approach. He digs back some years for a tough take on “Tattoo’d Lady,” but most of the set is derived from his mid- to late-’70s albums Top Priority, Photo Finish, and Calling Card. A breathless “Sea Cruise” closes the set, and is probably a nod to Jerry Lee Lewis, on whose album Gallagher guested. It caps off a roaring, electrifying show that, along with the studio disc, makes a worthwhile addition to any Gallagher lover’s collection. Even lacking detailed liner notes, this is a keeper and an important historical document in Rory Gallagher’s short but eventful career. (by Hal Horowitz)

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Personnel:
Rod de’Ath (drums on CD 1)
Rory Gallagher (guitar, vocals, harmonica)
Lou Martin (keyboards)
Gerry McAvoy (bass)
Ted McKenna (drums on CD 2)
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Martin Fiero (saxophone on CD 1 – 01.)
Joe O’Donnell (violin on CD 1 – 08.)

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Tracklist:

CD 1 (studio recordings):
01. Rue The Day 4.26
02. Persuasion 4.45
03. B Girl 4.42
04. Mississippi Sheiks 5.56
05. Wheels Within Wheels 3.40
06. Overnight Bag 4.46
07. Cruise On Out 5.19
08. Brute Force & Ignorance 5.45
09. Fuel To The Fire 5.43
10. Wheels Within Wheels (alternate version) 3.55
11. Cut A Dash 3.49
12. Out On The Tiles 4.22

CD 2 (live recordings):
01. Follow Me (from Top Priority) 6.25
02. Shinkicker (from Photo-Finish) 3.42
03. Off The Handle (from Top Priority) 7.01
04. Bought And Sold (from Against the Grain) 4.43
05. I’m Leavin’ 4.35
06. Tattoo’d Lady (from Tattoo) 6.49
07. Do You Read Me (from Calling Card) 6.11
08. Country Mile (from Calling Card) 3.51
09. Calling Card (from Calling Card) 5.51
10. Shadow Play (from Photo-Finish) 5.11
11. Bullfrog Blues  (from Live in Europe) (Traditiional) 5.38
12. Sea Cruise 3.29

All songs written by Rory Gallagher except as indicate

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Rory Gallagher (2 March 1948 – 14 June 1995)

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Roger Chapman And The Shortlist – Live In Hamburg (1979 – 2004)

LPFrontCover1It was  1978 when Roger Chapman decided to embark on a solo career, a career that would prove extremely successful and indeed still is today. His first solo offering was CHAPPO, released in 1979 to critical acclaim. Never one to follow fashion or to look like a rock star, Roger appeared on the front cover wearing a red boiler suit under the guise of an Otis lift engineer. The album was a collaboration with David Courtney and featured several songs that would become and indeed still are firm crowd pleasers such as Moth To A Flame and the glorious Who Pulled The Night Down. Roger also paying homage to legendary American songwriter the late Tim Hardin with a superb cover of Hang On To A Dream. Touring the UK in 1979, both the fans and press enthusiastically received Roger`s brand of rock infused R&B, Roger Chapman was back and performing better than ever. At this time in the UK the punk movement was at its height and the British music establishment would rather spend their resources on the latest fad or fashion that support a veteran rock singer from the sixties who had never been one to follow the crowd or indeed the latest musical trend and quality material from established artists gave way to a plethora of new young acts that would grace the pages of the UK music press.

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The rest of Europe on the other hand was a different matter, a chance meeting in Hamburg with a group of like minded musicians led him to appear on the renowned German TV rock show Rockpalast, a show that went out to over fourteen countries with a combined audience of over twenty five million, Roger was reborn and the fire reignited. A top flight backing band helped Roger release the single Let`s Spend The Night Together and soon his version of the Rolling Stones classic hit was also a hit for Roger Chapman, rising high in the German charts and once more the name of Roger Chapman was to stir interest and acclaim in the music press. The album LIVE IN HAMBURG followed in 1979 and was released both in Germany and England and featured such notable guest musicians as Tim Hinckley and Mel Collins. Included on the album was a cover of the Micky Jupp penned Shortlist which was soon to become a live favourite with fans and was also to become the name of Roger`s backing band. This was the album that would launch an extremely successful solo career …

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The “Live in Hamburg” Album was recorded on August 28, 1979 at the Markthalle Hamburg(GermanyThe glossy sounds of Roger Chapman’s solo debut (Chappo) are replaced here by renditions that crackle with energy. This album, originally an August 1979 radio broadcast, pairs a hard-hitting band with Chapman’s gruff vocals, and it was demonstrative of Chapman’s dedication to his R&B roots with covers of Willie Dixon, Chuck Berry and Little Richard. Thanks to this album’s lineup of the Shortlist (Mel Collins, Tim Hinkley, Jerome Rimson), even the ballads rock. (by Patrick Little)

And here´s the complete concert on 2 CDs … What a night !

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Personnel:
Roger Chapman (vocals)
Mel Collins (saxophone)
Tim Hinkley (keyboards)
Jerome Rimson (bass, background vocals)
Geoff Whitehorn (guitar)
Leonard “Stretch” Stretching (drums)
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background vocals:
Helen Hardy – Kathy O’Donaghue

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Tracklist:

CD 1:
01. Moth To A Flame (Chapman) 5.52
02. Keep Forgettin’ (Leiber/Stoller) 4.59
03. Midnite Child (Chapman) 5.23
04. Who Pulled The Night Down (Chapman) 5.51
05. Talking About You (Berry) ( Going Down (Nix) 2.43
06. Shortlist (Jupp) 6.45
07. Can’t Get In (Chapman/Tench) 6.41
08. Keep A Knockin’ (Chapman) 1.07
09. “I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man” Willie Dixon 3:57
10. Let’s Spend The Night Together (Jagger/Richards) 5.57

CD 2:
01. Shape Of Things (Chapman) 5.33
02. Hey Mr. Policeman (Chapman/Whitney/Grech) 4.29
2-3 Hang Onto A Dream (Hardin) 4.57
2-4 Always Gotta Pay In The End (Chapman/Bain) 6.01
2-5 Can’t Turn You Loose (Redding) 3.58
2-6 Burlesque (Chapman/Whitney) 4.15

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Bill Grant & Delia Bell – In England (1980)

FrontCover1Bill Grant and Delia Bell are a bluegrass music duo from Oklahoma. Emmylou Harris has said of Delia Bell: “If Hank Williams and Kitty Wells had married and had a daughter, she would have sounded like Delia Bell.” Grant has been recognized as “Ambassador of Bluegrass Music” by three Oklahoma

Delia Bell was born Delia Nowell on 16 April 16, 1938 in Bonham, Texas. Bell moved to Hugo as a child. She started playing music with her sisters and brother as a child, and began singing in her teens. She married Bobby Bell in 1959.

Bill Grant was born Billy Joe Grant on May 9, 1930, a Choctaw tribal member, and grew up on a ranch near Hugo, Oklahoma. Inspired by the music of Bill Monroe, he took up mandolin.

In 1959, Bell began singing with Bobby’s friend Bill Grant. Bell accompanied herself on guitar, and Bill Grant played mandolin, and Bell sang tenor to Grant’s lead. In 1960, Bell and Grant were regulars on the Little Dixie Hayride radio show on KIHN radio.

When Bill Monroe heard them perform, he invited them to perform at his festivals in Bean Blossom, Indiana. This introduced the duo to a wider audience.

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In the late 1960s, Grant and Bell formed the Kiamichi Mountain Boys (also known as the Bonham Brothers), named after the Kiamichi Mountains near their home.

They recorded more than a dozen albums for their own label Kiamichi Records as well as albums on County Records, Rebel Records, Rounder Records, and Warner Brothers. They toured England and Ireland 11 times during the 1970s.

The Kiamichi Mountain Boys were disbanded in 1980. After that, Grant and Bell worked either worked with the Johnson Mountain Boys or as a mandolin/guitar duo.

Emmylou Harris picked up Bell’s solo album Bluer Than Midnight at a California record shop. Impressed by Bell’s version of Ruth Franks’ song “Roses In The Snow,” Harris recorded it as the title track of her 1980 bluegrass album. In 1982, Harris produced Bell’s self-titled solo album on Warner Bros. Records. One of the songs, “Flame in My Heart,” was a duet with John Anderson. The album reached #35 on the Billboard charts, but Warner Bros. dropped her and others artists from their roster.

During the 1980s, Bell and Grant recorded three albums for Rounder featuring accompaniment and harmonies by members of the Johnson Mountain Boys and Del McCoury. The 1989 album Dreaming collected songs from their Rounder albums.

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Bell and Grant continued to perform as a duo until 2006 when their partnership ended. Grant was diagnosed with a brain tumor which was successfully removed, and he recovered succeefully. In 2007, Grant would began singing on a limited basis with his stepdaughter Amy Patrick.

In 2006, Grant received the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Distinguished Achievement award.

Grant and Bell have each been recognized as a Pioneer of Bluegrass Music by the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Owensboro, Kentucky.

Grant was also inducted in to the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame.

From 1969 until 2003, Grant hosted Grant’s Bluegrass Festival on a 360-acre cattle ranch near Hugo. He named the festival site “Salt Creek Park.”

In 1987, Bell and Grant also launched a March Early Bird Bluegrass Show, which was staged annually for almost 20 years (by wikipedia)

And here´s a fine example of their music. Great Bluesgrass and Country Music … full with a lot of sentimental tunes, including a Sundown In Nashville  …

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Personnel:
Delia Bell (guitar, vocals)
Karl Benson (bass)
Bill Grant (vocals, mandolin)
Dave Nutt (guitar, steel-guitar)
Bob Pearce (drums, percussion)
Dave Sheriff (piano, harmonica, guitar)
Drew Taylor (fiddle.mandolin)

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Tracklist:
01. I Know You’re Married 2.28
02. Blue Kentucky Girl 2.38
03. Good Hearted Woman 3.44
04. Troubles 3.03
05. Dim Lights, Thick Smoke 2.33
06. You Win Again 2.22
07. Best Female Actress 2.21
08. When My Time Comes To Go  1.46
09. Crazy Arms 2.24
10. Nothing Can Blow Out The Flame 2.26
11. Stranger In My Home 2.26
12. Don’t Worry 3.17
13. Come Walk With Me 2.34
14. Sundown In Nashville 2.32
15. We Must Have Been Out Of Our Minds 2.10
16. I Know The Time Is Near For Me 2.35

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ZZ Top – Deguello (1979)

FrontCover1Degüello is the sixth studio album by the American rock band ZZ Top, released in 1979.

“Degüello” means “decapitation” or, idiomatically, when something is said to be done “a degüello”, it means “no quarter” (as in “no surrender to be given or accepted–a fight to the death”) in Spanish. It also was the title of a Moorish-origin bugle call used by the Mexican Army at the Battle of the Alamo, Texas, in 1836. It was the first ZZ Top release on Warner Bros. Records and eventually went platinum.

Degüello was produced by Bill Ham, recorded and mixed by Terry Manning, and mastered by Bob Ludwig. (by wikipedia)

Just before Billy Gibbons (vocals/guitars), Dusty Hill (bass/vocals) and Frank Beard (drums) successfully integrated synthesizers into their formula, 1979’s Deguello further nudged Texas’ proudest boogie-blues outfit into the big time. Gibbons’ bedrock riff and sneaky vocal melody on iconic single “Cheap Sunglasses” still loom large on a modern FM soundscape shaped in part by indebted groups like the Black Keys, while the warped “Manic Mechanic”underscores their importance to future genre-manipulating misfits (and avowed ZZ Top acolytes) such as Ministry’s Al Jourgensen. But 1983’s Eliminator’s willfully gimmicky string of videos forever colored the band’s image, leaving some with the misconception that Gibbons, Hill and Beard are mere goofballs, thus sadly resigning the essential Deguello and its preceding LPs to relative under-appreciation. (by Rollin Stone)

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Degüello opens with a cover of Sam & Dave’s 1968 Soul hit “I Thank You”, written by Isaac Hayes and David Porter. ZZ Top’s version takes the Soul roots and treats it with Texas flavored blues-boogie, with Gibbons vocals being extra rough but potent. “She Loves My Automobile” is more blues with the added synthesized horn arrangement by Hill complimenting Gibbon’s bluesy guitar solos.

“I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide” is more rock oriented than the previous tracks with a cool drum shuffle by Frank Beard. The song is cut a bit rough with the overdubbed guitars, but this ultimately adds to the overall charm of the song, which was released as a single. A cool outro goes into a bit of a funk with a backing clavichord by Hill. The fine beat-driven ballad “A Fool for Your Stockings” is sonically different than anything else on the album, with a few excellent, mood-driven guitar instrumentals above dry and pointed bass and drums. Side One ends with “Manic Mechanic”, a unique and almost Frank Zappa-esque track with oddly-produced spoken vocals over strong rock and funk riffing.

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Like the first side, the second starts with a cover. Robert Johnson‘s “Dust My Broom”, was made most famous by Elmore James in the 1950s and ZZ Top’s version sticks pretty close to that version with a pure, standard blues arrangement and some slide guitars. “Lowdown In the Street” is back to a more edgy approach, with an interesting vocal arrangement that complements the main riff. “Hi Fi Mama” features Hill’s only lead vocals on the album and he employs a Little Richard-type hyper approach to the vocals. Musically, there is a nice back-n-forth between Gibbons’ guitars and Hill’s synth horn arrangement.

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The album’s climax comes with “Cheap Sunglasses”, built on a consistent groove which has been derided as either a rip-off of Edger Winter’s “Frankenstein” or Blind Faith’s “Had to Cry Today” (or both). No matter the case, this is a musical highlight for the band, with a long, cool, middle section built on a bass groove and key riffs with some bluesy lead guitar by Gibbons and great drumming by Beard throughout. After a final verse, the song slowly dissolves through scaled back groove. “Esther Be the One” is the most like a standard late seventies pop/rock song, with a full arrangement of dual guitars, keyboards, and a great bass groove to top off the album.

The platinum selling Degüello reached the Top 40 on the charts and sparked the group’s first tour of Europe in 1980. More importantly, it re-ignited ZZ Top’s career and introduced the band to a new radio audience, which brought even more popularity through the early 1980s. (by classicrockreview.com)

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ZZ Top returned after an extended layoff in late 1979 with Degüello, their best album since 1973’s Tres Hombres. During their time off, ZZ Top didn’t change much — hell, their sound never really changed during their entire career — but it did harden, in a way. The grooves became harder, sleeker, and their off-kilter sensibility and humor began to dominate, as “Cheap Sunglasses” and “Fool for Your Stockings” illustrate. Ironically, this, their wildest album lyrically, doesn’t have the unhinged rawness of their early blooze rockers, but the streamlined production makes it feel sleazier all the same, since its slickness lets the perversity slide forth. And, forget not, the trio is in fine shape here, knocking out a great set of rockers and sounding stylish all the time. Undoubtedly one of their strong suits. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)

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Personnel:
Frank Beard (drums, percussion, alto saxophone on 02. + 08.)
Billy Gibbons (vocals, guitar, baritone saxophone on 02. + 08.)
Dusty Hill (bass, background vocals, vocals on 06. + 08., tenor saxophone on 02. + 08.)

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Tracklist:
01. I Thank You (Porter/Hayes) 3.26
02. She Loves My Automobile (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 2.23
03. I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 4.47
04. A Fool For Your Stockings (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 4.17
05. Manic Mechanic (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 2.36
06. Dust My Broom (James) 3.09
07. Lowdown In The Street (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 2.50
08. Hi Fi Mama (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 2.26
09. Cheap Sunglasses (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 4.48
10. Esther Be The One (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 3.31

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Blackfoot – Strikes In Denver (1979)

FrontCover1.jpgThis is the story of one of the greatest southern-rock bands ever:

Blackfoot is an American Southern rock musical ensemble from Jacksonville, Florida organized during 1970. Though they are primarily a Southern rock band, they are also known as a hard rock act. The band’s classic lineup consisted of guitarist and vocalist Rickey Medlocke, guitarist Charlie Hargrett, bassist Greg T. Walker, and drummer Jakson Spires.

They’ve had a number of successful albums during the 1970s and early 1980s, including Strikes (1979), Tomcattin’ (1980) and Marauder (1981).

More informations: here

And this is Blackfoot live: recorded from a show at the Rainbow Music Hall in Denver (Source: FM Broadcast). Most songs are from the Strikes album, one of their best works.

And this is high energy southern rock … what a brilliant concert !

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Personnel:
Charlie Hargrett (guitar)
Rickey Medlocke (vocals, guitar)
Greg T. Walker (bass, background vocals)
Jakson Spires (drums, background vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. Intro 0.32
02. I Want To Talk To You (R.Medlocke) 5.25
03. Pay My Dues  () 3.11
04. I Got A Line On You (California) 5.29
05. Wishing Well (Rodgers/Kossoff/Yamauchi/Bundrike/Kirke) 4.06
06. Left Turn On A Red Light (R.Medlocke) 4.05
07.  Baby Blue ( R. Medlocke/Hargrett/Spires) 3.54
08. Road Fever (R.Medlocke) 4.06
09. Trouble In Mind (Johnson) 10.44
10. Train Train (S.Medlocke) 7.48
11. Highway Song (R.Medlocke/Spires) 9.28

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Rory Gallagher – My Father´s Place (1979)

FrontCover1A class act is exactly what [My Father’s Place] got whenever Rory Gallagher came to town. Rory played at My Father’s Place on several occasions. This bootleg is from his performance there on September 7, 1979 during the American leg of his top priority tour. After doing a successful three-night stand at the Bottom Line that Robert Palmer calls, “creative and inspired,” Rory heads out to the quaint village of Roslyn, named after a Castle in Scotland, and part of what’s called the North Shore Gold Coast of Long Island… It’ll be a show you won’t want to miss.

With Gallagher’s death in 1995 at the age of 47, the world lost an ace guitarist and, for generations after, younger fans will think of Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page and RoryGallagherignore Gallagher when it comes to blues guitarist. This is what Gallagher said in a 1991 interview:

I have respect for Eric Clapton from the early days, but I’m surprised they always link his name with me. Maybe earlier on there might have been more of a comparison, but not at the moment. Clapton seems to be the icon of all guitarists including Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. I suppose he’s the successful face of what the blues is and I’m probably the guy on the sidelines. He’s working in a different area from me now. And even in the blues field, I cover different blues tangents than Eric does. I work in country blues and even though I do some numbers that are in the B.B. King and Albert King area, I work in a lot of other influences in as well. My blues roots are all over the place, where Eric’s tend to be a little narrower. (shadowplays.com)

Listen to this great bootleg … That´s what I call high energy blues-rock !

What a concert !

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Personnel:
Rory Gallagher (guitar, vocals)
Gerry McAvoy (bass)
Ted McKenna (drums)

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Tracklist:

CD 1:
01. Shinkicker (Gallagher) 3.38
02. Last Of The Independents (Gallagher) 5.41
03. Keychain (Gallagher) 5.53
04. Moonchild (Gallagher) 5.10
05. The Mississippi Sheiks (Gallagher) 5.45
06. I Wonder Who (Morganfield) 7.48
07. Tattoo’d Lady (Gallagher) 5.10
08. Pistol Slapper Blues (Allen) 3.03
08. Too Much Alcohol (Hutto) 3.48

CD 2:
09. Shadow Play (Gallagher) 5.43
10. Bought And Sold (Gallagher) 4.59
11. Walk On Hot Coals (Gallagher) 5.26
12. Messin’ With The Kid (London/Wells) 5.23
13. Bullfrog Blues (Traditional)) 2.51
14. Sea Cruise (Gallagher) 2.59

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Laboratorium – Quasimodo (1979)

LPFrontCover1The end of the 60’s is an important period in jazz, as well as rock music. Both in Poland and the rest of the world, the year 1969 was a caesura for those who saw in records such us King Crimson’s debut the birth of progressive rock, and those for whom Krzysztof Komeda’s death marked the end of a certain stage in Polish jazz. The boundaries are of course a totally contractual and unspecified matter, but definitely the turn of the 60’s and 70’s was an extremely creative period, which set the foundations for various styles and trends. In this time – the year 1970 – in Krakow, Laboratorium was also born – although its roots must be searched for in a more distant past…

Janusz Grzywacz, Laboratorium’s leader, set his first musical steps in Krakow. Basically throughout the whole high school period he regularly formed bands: Smiacze, Lamparty, Tytani, in which also played Marek Stryszowski, his school companion, who happened to live on the same street. In that time Grzywacz had also connections with Krakow’s cabaret scene and with the emerging STU Theatre. During his collage years in Polish studies he formed another band. Eventually a five-person lineup was set, consisting of Janusz Grzywacz (piano), Mieczyslaw Górka (drums), Waclaw Lozinski (flute), Edmund Maciwoda (bass, soon to be replaced by Maciej Górski) and Marek Stryszowski, who did the vocals and played the bassoon, to finally replace it by a sax.

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Their live debut was on the Gitariada ’71 festival. They start to play fusion, jazz-rock music, as the predecessors of such sounds in Poland. The first years of their activity brought mainly acoustic music, cleverly escaping any definitions. The musicians searched and experimented. The situation in which Poland was at that time – the limited access to Western recordings and albums – was not an obstacle for the band. On the contrary, Laboratorium became an unique sound, which was often underlined in various reviews.

The band’s album debut was in January 1973. The record consisted of two tracks recorded in April ’72 in a studio that belonged to the PR III of the Polish Radio. That recording session was an award for taking second place on the Jazz Nad Odra ’72 festival. The tracks were noticed for a different approach both towards harmony and tension-building. The first song – ‘Choral’ – included also a vocal fragment by Marek Stryszowski. In the latter period his signing became an important and significant element building Labolatoriu’s style, although it limited only to vocalizations, often revealing the use of electronic voice-modulation effects – here, however, Stryszowski, as a ‘classical’ vocalist, sings the track’s lyrics.

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In 1973 the band was again awarded on the Jazz Nad Odra festival, this time taking first place and the award for best composition (Janusz Grzywacz’s ‘Prognoza na jutro’). This prize actually meant an advance from the amateur status to professionalism. In 1975 Czeslaw Niemen, who just left his band Aerolit, offered the group his cooperation. He performed with Laboratorium on several shows and festivals, presenting music from the album ‘Katharsis’ along with new songs, which became the basis for a double-album ‘Idee Fixe’, released a few years later. The cooperation had however only a ‘guest’ character – Niemen soon formed a new band, while Laboratorium kept following their own path. The band met at that time with another musician – Tomasz Stanko, with whom they performed at Zaduszki Jazzowe ‘ 75. The music undergone some changes (Janusz Grzywacz replaced his acoustic piano for a novelty at that time – Fender Rhodes), so did the lineup. The band parted with Waclaw Lozinski and Maciej Górski was soon replaced by Krzysztof Scieranski (known from playing with Marek Grechuta), followed by his brother Pawel Scieranski, who became the first guitarist in the history of Laboratorium. In this lineup the band recorded its first official album – ‘Modern Pentathlon’.

The record consisted of a long, five-part title track – „Pieciobój nowoczesny’ and four shorter songs, apart from one (‘Grzymaszka’), strongly settled in the funky style. In the title suite we can hear electronically modulated vocalizations by Marek Stryszowski (whose experiments could resemble the style of Urszula Dudziak), as well as a rich usage of sound potentiality of a single, monophonic Roland synthesizer (which was operated at that time by Janusz Grzywacz) and accelerated, fragments based on twitchy, pulsating drums, and recalling the achievements of Mahavishnu Orchestra. What is important, the band with all those various references kept their artistic identity, confirmed with musical sensitivity and the musicians’ skills.

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The album was released in the Polish jazz series (nr 49) in an unbelievable pace considering the Polish phonographic standards at that time. There often occurred such situations when the time from recording the album to releasing it took about a year or even longer, while Laboratorium’s debut – recorded in the beginning of summer ’76 – was launched in fall, during the next Jazz Jamboree festival. An innovatory (at that time) album premiere was organized in the Polish Recordings hall in Warsaw, along with record-signing (years after it was announced that the sales count for ‘Modern Pentathlon’ reached 115 thousand copies!). Following the success of their album the band begins to perform again, apart from playing in Poland it also visits Germany, as well as the exotic Jazz Yatra festival, which took place in 1978 in India and was another important step in the group’s career (apart from Laboratorium the Polish representation consisted also of Czeslaw Niemen’s and Zbigniew Namyslowski’s bands).

Laboratorium05Even before the trip to the festival, in 1997 the group recorded another two albums with a lineup extended by Pawel Valde-Nowak, playing the congas. During the September shows in Warsaw’s ‘Akwarium’, an album for the „Bialy Kruk Czarnego Krazka’ series was recorded – ‘Aquarium Live No. 1’, which tried to capture the atmosphere present on Laoratorium’s concerts. Meanwhile, in Krakow’s ‘Rotunda’ the band recorded the album ‘Nurek’, which was supposed to be released by Polskie Nagrania, at the time of the Jazz Yatra festival. Unfortunately that didn’t happen. Simultaneously the band was contacting Helicon (the International Jazz Federation’s record label), which eventually released ‘Nurek’ under the English title ‘Diver’. As for Polskie Nagrania, the group prepared in 1979 a one-record album ‘Quasimodo’ (Polish Jazz series, nr 58), while the material meant for Elacoli, ‘Nogero’, was released on the German market by View Records. The first of the albums contained a few longer compositions intertwining with various and fascinating miniatures.

The end of the 70’s brought another personal changes within the band – the group parted with Mieczyslaw Górka, who was in Laboratorium from the beginning. Andrzej Mrowiec, previously known from Maanam, became Laboratorium’s new drummer. Soon after that Krzysztof Scieranski left the band and started a cooperation with Zbigniew Namyslowski (he was replaced by Krzysztof Olesinski, also from Maanam) and so did his brother Pawel (Ryszard Styla took his place in Laboratorium).

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After a successful performance at the Zurich Jazz Festival, a Swiss agency Face Music took care of the band. In these years Laboratorium performed on less shows in Poland, more often visiting the West. In the turn of February and March ’82 the group recorded its performances in Krakow’s STU Theatre and released them on an album ‘The Blue Light Pilot’ (with the following lineup: Grzywacz – Stryszowski – Styla – Olesinski – Mrowiec). The band’s music slowly changed, so did the instrumentation – Janusz Grzywacz more often used various synthesizers, as well as one of the first in Poland, custom-made 16-step sequencer. On that album for the first (and only) time appeared a track which wasn’t written by the band – Thelonious Monk’s ‘Straight No Chaser’, arranged in an unique way, mostly thanks to the mentioned sequencer. In the title track, extremely mechanical and full of energy, there are interwoven various citations and references. The next album – ‘No. 8’ (1984) – continued the band’s search, giving more original ideas. Among them worth mentioning are the use of a vocoder, the enrichment of the rhythmic pattern by adding Jan Pilch’s various percussion instruments and the guest appearance by violin player Jan Bledowski, who later toured with the band. The last studio album with brand new material was prepared two years later. ‘Anatomy Lesson’ was another logical step in Laboratorium’s career. Sampled sounds appeared – yet another progress in the musical search. The album till this day intrigues with the variety of its sound, in the same time being compact and characteristic to the band’s overall creation.

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The group also functioned as a trio: Grzywacz – Stryszowski – Pilch, performing with this lineup on festivals such as ‘Electric Music Island’ in Wroclaw (1984). Meanwhile, Jan Pilch permanently joins the band. In the last years of their activity, Laboratorium was supported by Jaroslaw Smietana, among other places they visited Switzerland.

In various press articles from the 90’s one can see the year 1990 as the end of Laboratorium’s career. During the next decade the band appeared several times on stage, also during the celebration of their 25th anniversary (which was documented by TV production ’25 Years of Laborka’) – all the band’s guitarists appeared together on stage at that time. Janusz Grzywacz is an active illustrative musician, he writes for the theatre (more than 100 premieres) and for the film, he also released two solo albums – ‘Muzyka osobista’ and ‘Mlynek Kawowy’. Marek Stryszowski performs with his band Little Egoist, he’s also the boss of a PSJ branch in Krakow. It’s impossible not to write about all of Laboratorium’s musicians – some of them are still active on the scene, others ended their careers in music. Laboratorium, however, gained a solid and unquestionable status in Polish rock and jazz music. Janusz Grzywacz sums it up: I think we had our fantastic.. no, not five – eleven minutes, which I sincerely wish to all musicians. We played more than a thousand concerts, were invited by major festivals and recorded 9 albums. I know that such thing is impossible to achieve in the jazz market nowadays. I also know that Laboratorium never really fell apart, to be honest. It’s because that our music is still inside us. In each of us there’s still the same way of thinking and playing, the same sensitivity and perspective towards music, which characterized Laborka. And it always will. (Michal Wilczynski)

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This is the 2nd album by Polish Jazz-Rock Fusion ensemble Laboratorium, which was one of several great Polish bands (like Extra Ball for example) playing in that vein during the 1970s. Founded by keyboardist Janusz Grzywacz, the band’s founding members included also saxophonist / vocalist Marek Stryszowski and drummer Mieczyslaw Gorka. After an initial period of trying to find a musical identity, the band was joined by brothers Pawel Scieranski on guitar and Krzysztof Scieranski on bass (one of the greatest Polish bass players) and settled into the Fusion genre, with a musical approach and sound not far away from Weather Report. This, their second recording, presents them in their full power and the recording is quite stunning in its sophistication and instrumental aptitude. The music includes pieces composed by all members of the group. As opposed to most American Fusion at the time, which was mostly based on simplistic melodies and endless instrumental doodling, this music is atmospheric, intelligent, sophisticated, well developed and coherent, clearly well rooted in the European musical tradition. Fusion fans are well advised to try this out and explore this wonderful music, which is expanding the genre’s limitations to the max. This music will also interest fans Prog fans, as it is close in spirit to the Canterbury genre. Superb stuff (Adam Baruch)

In other words: High class Jazz-Rock !!!

CD1

Personnel:
Mieczysław Górka (drums, percussion)
Janusz Grzywacz (piano, synthesizer)
Krzysztof Ścierański (bass)
Paweł Ścierański (guitar)
Marek Stryszowski (saxophone, vocals, effects)

LPBackCover1Tracklist:
01. Przejazd (The Journey) (K. Ścierański) 1.35
02. I’m Sorry, I’m Not Driver (K. Ścierański) 7.07
03. Etiudka / Little Etude (Grzywacz) 1.26
04. Śniegowa Panienka (The Snow Girl) (M. Stryszowski) 8.16
05. Lady Rolland (M. Stryszowski) 1.44
06. Quasimodo (Grzywacz) 10.51
07. Kyokushinkai (Górka/P. Ścierański) 2.54
08- Ikona / An Icon (In Memory Of Zbigniew Seifert) (Grzywacz) 6.15
+
09.  Etiudka (Grzywacz) 2.34
10. Sniegowa Panienka (M. Stryszowski) 11.08
11. Odjazd (Górka/Grzywacz/K. Ścierański/P.Ścierański/Stryszowski) 5.36
12. Zdrowie Na Budowie (Grzywacz) 6.46

LabelB1*
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Source: jazz.umk.pl