Paul Brett – Guitar Trek (1980)

FrontCover1.JPGPaul Brett is one of my favorties acoustic guitar player from UK.

The final album of guitar virtuoso Paul Brett´s disk contract with RCA, “Guitar Trek” is by far the most obscure. It was met with a dearth of promotional effort, but it’s hard to know whether this was because Brett had already signed on to produce a K-Tel record, its predecessors were fracturing the cutout bins or their day, or it’s the least inspired of the three.

Nothing is missing from Brett’s technique, which is more focused on acoustic guitar in a rock setting, but most tracks do seem almost like placeholders for exhibits of the man’s awesome fretting power. His ability is such that he can overpower pieces that other guitarists might complement better. Here and there we find snippets of what was generally better developed on prior albums; for instance, “In Search of Aztecs” hearkens back to the suite “Interlife” while failing to capture the ensemble effect that really propelled the flow of those choice 16 minutes. “Alternative 12-string” at times approximates works like “Calypso” and “Silent Runner” off “Eclipse” but tries out too many concepts for its own good in under 6 minutes. Gershwin’s “Summertime” does not revive the magic of Brett’s prior adaptation of Brubeck’s “Take Five”, but perhaps it is just not as fresh or appealing a number to begin with.

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The three tracks that work the best do so for different reasons – “Forever Autumn” succeeds as much because the Jeff Wayne composition is so brilliant as anything, but one must give substantial credit to Brett for treating it sensitively and imbuing it with his own identity, while leaving its spirit intact. “Even when the sun shines” expands upon the courtly folk of “Overture for Decadence” off “Eclipse”, but incorporates more rock aspects, consistent with the album as a whole. Finally, the closer “Blood on the Frets” actually parlays the guitarist’s prowess into the realm of country, bluegrass and rock and roll all at once, succeeding brilliantly. (by Keneth Levine)

For me, it´s another brilliant Paul Brett album …

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Personnel:
Paul Brett (guitar)
Richard Harvey (keyboards, recorder)
John Joyce (guitar)
Tom Nichol (drums)
Paul Townshend (bass)
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Alan Todd (guitar on 02.)

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Tracklist:
01. Alternative 12 String (Brett) 5.48
02. Forever Autumn (Wayne/Osborne/Vigrass) 3.17
03. Before Tequila (Brett/Joyce) 3.11
04. Summertime (Gershwin) 3.55
05. The Bishop Went Down To Fulham (Brett/Joyce) 3.25
06. In Search Of Aztecs (Brett) 3.51
07. Even When The Sun Shines (Brett) 2.57
08. Jazz For The Late Night Wife Swappers (Brett) 3.25
09. Handbuilt By Robots (Brett/Joyce) 4.04
10. Blood On The Fretts (Brett) 2.40

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More from Paul Brett, a real master of the acoustic guitar:

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Ian Hunter Band (feat. Mick Ronson) – Live At Rockpalast (2011)

FrontCover1.jpgWith Mott the Hoople, guitarist/vocalist Ian Hunter established himself as one of the toughest and most inventive hard rock songwriters of the early ’70s, setting the stage for punk rock with his edgy, intelligent songs. As a solo artist, Hunter never attained the commercial heights of Mott the Hoople, but he cultivated a dedicated cult following.

Hunter was born in Owestry, Shropshire, but was raised in cities throughout England since his father worked in the British Intelligence agency called MI5 and had to move frequently. Eventually, the family returned to Shrewsbury, where the teenaged Hunter joined a band called Silence in the early ’60s. Silence released an album, but it received no attention. In the years following Silence, Hunter played in a handful of local bands and worked a variety of jobs.

In 1968, Hunter began playing bass with Freddie “Fingers” Lee and the duo played around Germany. Shortly afterward, Hunter became the vocalist for Mott the Hoople. During the next six years, Hunter sang and played piano and guitar with the band, becoming its lead songwriter within a few albums. Although few of their records sold, Mott the Hoople was one of the most popular live bands in England. In 1972, David Bowie produced their breakthrough album, All the Young Dudes, which brought the band into the British Top Ten and the American Top 40. For the next two years, the group had a consistent stream of hits in both the U.K. and the U.S.

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Toward the end of 1973, the band began to fall apart, as founding member and lead guitarist Mick Ralphs left the band. Hunter carried on through another album, but he left the group in late 1974, taking along former Bowie guitarist Mick Ronson, who had just joined Mott. Just prior to leaving the group, Hunter published Diary of a Rock Star, an account of his years leading Mott the Hoople, in June 1974.

Hunter moved to New York, where he and Ronson began working on his solo debut. Released in 1975, Ian Hunter spawned “Once Bitten, Twice Shy,” a Top 20 U.K. hit. Following its release, Hunter and Ronson embarked on a tour. After its completion, the pair parted ways, although they would reunite later in the ’80s. All-American Alien Boy, Hunter’s second solo album, was recorded with a variety of all-star and session musicians, including members of Queen. Released in the summer of 1976, All-American Alien Boy was a commercial failure. It was followed in 1977 by Overnight Angels, an album that saw Hunter moving closer to straightforward rock & roll; disappointed with the completed album, Hunter decided to leave it unreleased in America.

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Following the mainstream approach of Overnight Angels, Hunter became involved with England’s burgeoning punk rock movement, producing Generation X’s second album, 1979’s Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. For Hunter’s next solo album, he reunited with Mick Ronson, who produced and arranged 1979’s You’re Never Alone with a Schizophrenic. The album was a hit, especially in America, where it peaked at number 35. Hunter and Ronson set out on another tour, which resulted in the 1980 double live album, Ian Hunter Live/Welcome to the Club. In 1981, Hunter released Short Back N’ Sides, which was produced by the Clash’s Mick Jones.

Two years later, he released All of the Good Ones Are Taken. After its release, Ian Hunter Ian Hunter03became a recluse, spending the next six years in silence; occasionally, he contributed a song to a movie soundtrack. In 1989, he resumed recording, releasing YUI Orta with Ronson. After its release, Hunter remained quiet during the ’90s, appearing only on Ronson’s posthumous 1994 album Heaven and Hull, and at tribute concerts for Ronson in 1994 and Freddie Mercury in 1992. Hunter returned to recording with Artful Dodger, which was released in Britain and Europe in the spring of 1997. After a Columbia/Legacy compilation titled Once Bitten Twice Shy offered a wealth of Hunter solo titles in the year 2000, much attention was paid to 2001’s fine Rant. In 2002, Hunter performed a pair of semi-acoustic concerts in Oslo, Norway, which were recorded for later release on CD and home video; the resulting project, called Strings Attached, introduced some new songs, including “Twisted Steel,” inspired by the events of September 11, 2001.

Shrunken Heads, a collection of all-new material, was released in 2007 on the Yep Roc label, followed by Man Overboard in 2009 from New West Records. That same year, Hunter unexpectedly reunited with Mott the Hoople for a series of concerts at the end of the year; Live at HMV Hammersmith Apollo 2009 documented these well-reviewed gigs. After a couple of quiet years, Hunter returned in the fall of 2012 with When I’m President, another critically acclaimed collection of rock & roll. Live in the UK 2010, a document from the Man Overboard tour, arrived in 2014, and in 2016 Hunter released another studio album, Fingers Crossed. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)

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And here´s a great show with Ian Hunter, featuring his old band mate from the Mott The Hoople dasys, Mick Ronson:

The newly re-christened Hunter-Ronson Band also toured incessantly, and Live At Rockpalast 1980 is a better document of this period than it really has any right to be. Recorded for a late-night television concert series from Germany’s Rockpalast, this concert displays both the short-lived band’s many strengths, but also a few of its weaknesses.

The late Ronson is definitely a great onstage foil for Hunter here, and his razor-sharp playing is much in evidence throughout this album. However, he also appears to be holding back at times. When the band launches into Mott the Hoople’s near-hit “All The Way From Memphis,” it lacks the 1970s glam-rock snarl of known live Mott recordings (even with the hapless Grosvenor). After Hunter sings “took out my six-string razor, and hit the sky,” you keep waiting for that great lead part from the original record. But it never comes. However, Ronson does add some impressive new lead guitar bits to the chorus. A version of “Once Bitten, Twice Shy” likewise falls just a bit short of the original version, although it is thankfully a bit grittier sounding than the ’80s polish of the Great White cover (“they taught us how to love”).

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Songs like “I Wish I Was Your Mother” and “Irene Wilde” also display Hunter’s considerable talents as a songwriter cut straight from the Blonde On Blonde-era Dylan mold. This was something Hunter was trying to focus on more following his days as a 1970s glam-rocker with Mott, and although the songs are undeniably good, I have to admit I still found myself waiting for the band to bust out a bit more here.

Outside of Hunter and Ronson, there are a bunch of really non-descript players. Good at what they do, sure. But also lacking both the admitted sloppiness, yet undeniable explosiveness of what Mott the Hoople could do on a great night. It’s right about here that you really want to see Hunter strap on that giant “H” guitar, and kick some ass. Or at least, those ridiculous, knee-high boots worn by bassist Pete “Overend” Watts during Mott’s glammier days.

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Fortunately, the band rallies somewhat to kick things up a notch with the rockers, including “Cleveland Rocks,” “Just Another Night,” “All The Young Dudes,” and especially a scorching version of “Bastard” from Hunter’s great Schizophrenic album. Here, the band falls into a tight-ass little funk pocket (well, outside of some misplaced synthesizer anyway), and Ronson gets a chance to flex his muscles on guitar a bit more. Ian Hunter also bites off the lyrical phrases to this song with all the fiery spirit of his obvious hero, Dylan. This performance alone is worth the price of admission.

Live At Rockpalast 1980 isn’t perfect, by any means. But it is still just about as good a document of Ian Hunter at his post-Mott the Hoople peak as one could have hoped for. It’s also a real treat to see Mick Ronson rock out on guitar, even if those moments are a little too fleeting on this album. (by Glen Boyd)

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Personnel:
Martin Briley  (bass)
Ian Hunter (vocals, guitar)
Tom Mandel (keyboards)
George Meyer  (saxophone, keyboards)
Tom Morrongiello (guitar)
Eric Parker (drums)
Mick Ronson (guitar, vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. F.B.I. (Gormley) 3.41
02. Once Bitten Twice Shy (Hunter) 5.24
03. Angeline (Hunter) 5.00
04. Laugh At Me (Bono) 4.26
05. Irene Wilde (Hunter) 4.41
06. I Wish I Was Your Mother (Hunter) 6.53
07. Just Another Night (Hunter/Ronson) 7.24
08. We Gotta Get Out Of Here (Hunter) 4.19
09. Bastard (Hunter) 7.41
10. All The Way From Memphis (Hunter) 4.17
11. Cleveland Rocks (Hunter) 8.02
12, All The Young Dudes (Bowie) 3.50
13. Slaughter On 10th Avenue (Rogers) 2.46

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And here´s the show on video:

Peter Green – Little Dreamer (1980)

FrontCover1.jpgLittle Dreamer is an album by British blues rock musician Peter Green, who was the founder of Fleetwood Mac and a member from 1967–70. Released in 1980, this was his third solo album, and the second in his ‘middle period’ of the late 1970s and early 1980s. (by wikipedia)

When Peter Green issued Little Dreamer in 1980, it was the second straight year he had released an album after a nine-year gap. Fairport Convention drummer Dave Mattacks must have wondered what he had gotten himself into because the opener, “Loser Two Times,” ais almost as close to disco as the Rolling Stones got with “Miss You.” Green continues in a funky vein with “Mama Don’t You Cry,” as if shaking off the cobwebs and actually trying to pay attention to the current scene. He goes right back to his roots on the album’s third tune with “Born Under a Bad Sign” and stays with blues derivatives the rest of the way.

Peter Green - 1980, Peter Green - 1980 (Photo by Brian Rasic/Getty Images)

The album-ending title track sounds like a seven-minute version of the dreamy Green tune “Albatross,” a hit for Fleetwood Mac in the ’60s. Sounding more confident than on his comeback album, he seems more like the Greeny of old, although the move toward funk didn’t really suit him. (by Mark Allan)

Most of the tracks on this album were written by Green’s brother Mike. so this is a really strange album by Peter Green …  but his guitar was still amazing.

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Personnel:
Peter Green (guitar, vocals, harmonica)
Ronnie Johnson (guitar)
Dave Mattacks (drums)
Morris Pert (percussion)
Roy Shipston (organ)
Paul Westwood (bass)
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John ‘Rhino’ Edwards (bass on 05.)
Kuma Harada (bass on 07.)
Peter Vernon-Kell (piano on 04.)
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background vocals:
Pam Douglas – Carol Ingram

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Tracklist:
01. Loser Two Times (M.Green)  4.27
02. Momma Don’tcha Cry (M.Green) 3.18
03. Born Under A Bad Sign (Jones/Bell) 5.54
04. I Could Not Ask For More (M.Green) 4.56
05. Baby When The Sun Goes Down (M.Green) 5.31
06. Walkin’ The Road (M.Green) 3.49
07. One Woman Love (M.Green) 5.26
08. Cryin’ Won’t Bring You Back (M.Green) 5.03
09. Little Dreamer (P.Green/M.Green) 6.54

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And here´s one of his finests albums:

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Al Jarreau – This Time (1980)

FrontCover1.jpgThis Time is the fourth studio album by Jazz vocalist Al Jarreau, released in 1980 on Warner Bros. Records. The release marked a change in Jarreau’s sound to a more R&B-oriented flavor. As a result, the album achieved more success on the mainstream charts than his previous works, while also topping the Jazz Charts. It also reached #6 on the R&B charts and #27 on the Billboard 200.” In 1981 “Never Givin’ Up” gave Jarreau a Grammy Award nomination for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male.

This Time marked Jarreau’s first foray into the top 40 on the Hot 200 or top ten on the R&B charts, as well as his first #1 on the Jazz charts. His next album would prove even more successful, topping both the Jazz and R&B charts.

“Never Givin’ Up” peaked at #26 R&B, while “Distracted” and Gimme What You Got” peaked at #61 and #63 on the R&B charts.

“Never Givin’ Up” received a Grammy Award nomination for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male in 1981, Jarreau’s first nomination in the R&B field. It lost to Jarreau’s Warner Bros. labelmate George Benson for the Give Me the Night album, who had recently undergone a similar change in sound. (by wikipedia)

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Al Jarreau finally found success in the U.S. after 1975’s We Got By. The later albums that followed ,like 1977’s live Look to the Rainbow and 1978’s All Fly Home found him attaining the all-important cult status and accolades from the jazz community. Those facts made his switch to pop/R&B on This Time even more surprising. For This Time, Jarreau is paired with producer Jay Graydon. Despite his jazz credentials, This Time does prove that this style is where Jarreau truly prospers. The jittery “Never Give It Up” and the melodic and pensive “Gimme What You Got” have a crisp and refined L.A. sound, and Jarreau gives the songs weight with his methodical yet playful vocals. In the same vein, the poignantly sung and arranged “Your Sweet Love” displays Jarreau’s gift of ringing emotion where you’d least expect it. Jarreau also adds deft lyrics to jazz standards “(A Rhyme) This Time” and “(I Can Recall) Spain.” The best song to bridge the gap between the two incarnations, “Alonzo,” is strikingly beautiful and has Jarreau nearly reaching operatic heights. During its release, This Time was stunning for its fresh sound and a sense of warmth. Upon repeated plays, those attributes still ring true. (by Jason Elias)

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Personnel:
Tom Canning (keyboards)
Oscar Castro-Neves (guitar)
George Duke (piano)
Chuck Findley (horn, trumpet)
David Foster (piano)
Steve Gadd (drums)
Steve George (synthesizer)
Jay Graydon (guitar, synthesizer)
Jerry Hey (flugelhorn, trumpet)
Ralph Humphrey (drums, percussion)
Al Jarreau (vocals, percussion)
Earl Klugh (guitar)
Abraham Laboriel, Sr. (bass)
Greg Mathieson (keyboards, synthesizer)
Michael Omartian (synthesizer)
Dean Parks (guitar)
Earl Lon Price (saxophone)
William Frank “Bill” Reichenbach Jr. (trombone)
Les Thompson (harmonica)
Carlos Vega (drums)
Larry Williams (piano, synthesizer)

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Tracklist:
01. Never Givin’ Up (Canning/Jarreau) 3.59
02. Gimme What You Got (Canning/Jarreau) 3.46
03. Love Is Real (Canning/Jarreau/Kellock) 4.26
04. Alonzo (Jarreau) 5.27
05. (If I Could Only) Change Your Mind (Canning/Willis) 4.18
06. Spain (I Can Recall) (Corea/Jarreau/Maren) 6.33
07. Distracted (Jarreau) 5.53
08. Your Sweet Love (Canning/Jarreau/Kellock) 4.15
09. (A Rhyme) This Time (Jarreau/Klugh) 3.42

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The Alan Parsons Project – The Turn Of A Friendly Card (1980)

lpfrontcover1The Turn of a Friendly Card is the fifth studio album by the British progressive rock band The Alan Parsons Project, released in 1980 by Arista Records. The title piece, which appears on side 2 of the LP, is a 16-minute suite broken up into five tracks, with the five tracks listed as sub-sections. The Turn of a Friendly Card spawned the hits “Games People Play” and “Time”, the latter of which was Eric Woolfson’s first lead vocal appearance.

“The Gold Bug”, which references the same-titled short story by Edgar Allan Poe, includes a whistling part by Parsons, who imitates the style of Ennio Morricone’s legendary Spaghetti Western film themes,[3] and wordless vocals by Rainbow, while the main theme is played on an alto saxophone. The saxophone player, originally credited as Mel Collins, is instead credited on the liner notes for the remastered edition as “A session player in Paris whose name escapes us”; this refers to the fact that the saxophone part is a composite of several separate takes.[citation needed] Similarly, the accordion part on “Nothing Left to Lose” is credited in the liner notes to “An unidentified Parisian session player”. Also on “The Gold Bug”, the newer liner notes credit a “Harmonized Rotating Triangle” to drummer Stuart Elliott. This refers to the phasing sound effects heard throughout the rhythm-free introduction to the piece. (by wikipedia)

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With two of the Alan Parsons Project’s best songs, the lovely ballad “Time” and the wavy-sounding “Games People Play,” The Turn of a Friendly Card remains one of this group’s most enjoyable albums. Parsons’ idea, the subject of the album’s six tracks, centers around the age-old temptation of gambling and its stranglehold on the human psyche. On “Games People Play,” vocalist Lenny Zakatek sounds compelling and focused, giving the song a seriousness that aids in realization of the album’s concept. With “Time,” it is Eric Woolfson who carries this luxurious-sounding ode to life’s passing to a place above and beyond any of this band’s other slower material. The breakdown of human willpower and our greedy tendencies are highlighted in the last track, entitled “The Turn of a Friendly Card,” which is broken into five separate parts.

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“Snake Eyes,” sung by Chris Rainbow, is the most compelling of the five pieces, and ties together the whole of the recording. As in every Parsons album, an instrumental is included, in this case an interesting number aptly titled “The Gold Bug.” Like most of the band’s instrumentals, its flow and rhythm simulate the overall tempo and concept of the album, acting as a welcome interlude. Although short, The Turn of a Friendly Card is to the point and doesn’t let down when it comes to carrying out its idea. (by Mike DeGagne)

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Personnel:
Ian Bairnson (guitar, pedal steel guitar on 03.)
Dennis Clarke (saxophone)
Stuart Elliott (drums, percussion)
Elmer Gantry (vocals on 01.)
Alan Parsons (synthesizer, clavinet, harpsichord, vocals on 03.)
David Paton (bass)
Chris Rainbow (vocals)
Eric Woolfson (piano, harpsichord, vocals on 03.)
Lenny Zakatek (vocals on 02., 04.)
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The Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Andrew Powell

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Tracklist:
01. May Be A Price To Pay 5.00
02. Games People Play 4.24
03. Time Eric Woolfson 5:04
04. I Don’t Wanna Go Home 4.52
05. The Gold Bug 4.34

The Turn Of A Friendly Card:
06. The Turn Of A Friendly Card, Pt. 1 2.45
07. Snake Eyes 3.16
08. The Ace Of Swords 2.58
09. Nothing Left To Lose 4.08
10. The Turn Of A Friendly Card, Pt. 2 3.22
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11. May Be A Price To Pay (Intro/demo) 1.40
12. Nothing Left To Lose (Basic backing track) 4.36
13. Nothing Left To Lose (Chris Rainbow overdub compilation) 2.03
14. Nothing Left To Lose (Early studio version with Woolfson’s guide vocal) 3.12
15. Time (Early studio attempt) 4.43
16. Games People Play (Rough mix) 4.33
17. The Gold Bug (Demo) 2.52

All songs written by Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson

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British Lions – Trouble With Women (1980)

FrontCover1.JPGBritish Lions were a short-lived British rock band, together from 1977 to 1980, with former members of Mott and Medicine Head. They released just two studio albums with little commercial success in the UK. (by wikipedia)

British Lions were in large part a continuation of Mott (the post-Ian Hunter version of Mott the Hoople), retaining keyboardist Morgan Fisher, lead guitarist Ray Major, bassist Overend Watts, and drummer Dale Griffin; ex-Medicine Head singer/guitarist John Fiddler was added on lead vocals. Just as Mott had been a devolution from Mott the Hoople, so did British Lions continue the dilution into journeyman British hard rock. The British Lions concentrated on the American market, feeling the UK scene to be unsympathetic to veteran rockers during the new wave/punk days, and toured the US supporting groups like Blue Oyster Cult and UFO.

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Their single “Wild in the Streets” made the lower reaches of the Top Hundred, and they did an album for RSO in 1978. The band collapsed after making a second album, which RSO did not release, although it was issued in the early 1980s. Another album (Live and Rare) of live-in-the-US recordings from the 1978 tour, as well as some previously unreleased demos and rehearsals, appeared in 1999. (by Richie Unterberger)

This is surely not the best album from the post Mott The Hoople period, but it´s still a good album with some superb power rock songs like “Trouble With Women” and “Any Port In A Storm”, plus a lot of rarities … including a new version of the Medicine Head (the former band of John Fiddler) hit “Rising Sun””

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Personnel:
John Fiddler (vocals)
Morgan Fisher (keyboards)
Dale Griffin (drums, percussion)
Ray Major (guitar)
Overend Watts (bass)

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Tracklist:
01. British Lions US Radio Promo (bonus track) 0.30
02. Trouble With Women (Fiddler) 3.33
03. Any Port In A Storm (Fiddler) 4.23
04. Lady Don’t Fall Backwards (Watts/Fiddler) 4.22
05. High Noon (Fisher/Fiddler) 4.25
06. Lay Down Your Love (Watts/Fiddler) 4.50
07. Waves Of Love (Watts/Fiddler) 4.20
08. Electric Chair (Fiddler) 4.59
09. Won’t You Give Him One (More Chance) (Martin/Scott) 3.51
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10. British Lions US Radio Promo 0.29
11. One More Chance To Run (demo) (Fiddler) 3.29
12. But The Night Is Young (demo) (Fiddler) 6.03
13. The Studio Song (Watts) 4.22
14. Eat The Rich (The Status Quo demo) (Fiddler) 3.42
15. British Lions US Radio Promo 0.29
16. Rising Sun (live) (Fiddler) 4.59
17. Come On (live) (Berry) 2.59
18. My Life’s In Your Hands (live) (Fiddler) 5.43
19. Wild One (live) (unknown) 5.30
20 The Entire Catalogue Of British Lions Us Radio Promo’s 0.39

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Peter “Pete” Overend Watts (13 May 1947 – 22 January 2017)

Sea Level – Long Walk On A Short Pier (1980)

FrontCover1.JPGSea Level recorded their fourth album for Capricorn on the cusp of the label’s 1979 bankruptcy, and Long Walk on a Short Pier went unreleased in the United States for nearly 20 years, finally issued in 1998 by a resurrected Capricorn, with distribution through Mercury/Polygram. The album continues down the path of the band’s third album, 1978’s On the Edge, caught up in a disco-fied era and trying a little bit of this, a little bit of that, hoping that something might catch fire. Or maybe, with the group photo on the front cover showing the bandmembers fishing off that short pier, they were “Casting out a line/But no one’s biting” — to quote Randall Bramblett’s “God Was in the Water” from his first New West recording, 2001’s No More Mr. Lucky. Anyway, Long Walk on a Short Pier begins with Chuck Leavell’s slick R&B/dance track “Tear Down This Wall,” recorded by the band at Capricorn’s studio in Macon but punched up with a horn section recorded at Bramblett’s old stamping ground of Sea Saint Studio in New Orleans, where he had recorded Light of the Night, his stellar — and far less slick — sophomore solo album released by Polydor in 1976. The horn section enlivens “My Love,” another uptempo track written and sung by Leavell, but one begins to wonder why the keyboardist apparently stopped composing instrumental music for Sea Level to focus on clubby R&B/pop/rock (the horns play with more authentic feeling on “Thirsty” and “Morning Light,” a pair of Bramblett numbers co-written with guitarist Davis Causey).

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Thankfully, Leavell does get some chances to display his old keyboard magic, and there are several instrumental numbers scattered about: bassist Lamar Williams’ sprightly “Just a Touch” with very Allman Brothers-ish guitar harmonies; the brief, funky “A Two n’ Two”; and guitarist Jimmy Nalls’ steady-rolling closing track, “Twenty Miles from Nowhere.” The latter introduces country and bluegrass elements into the mix — but that shouldn’t be surprising for Sea Level given some of the bandmembers’ previous work as session musicians with a wide range of Capricorn artists, including Alex Taylor and Cowboy (“Twenty Miles from Nowhere” could have fit into the track listing of the 1975 Cowboy album Boyer & Talton without raising an eyebrow). Three tracks from Long Walk on a Short Pier — “Tear Down This Wall,” “Canine Man” (a badass Bramblett blues-rocker with hot guitar from Nalls), and “Twenty Miles from Nowhere” — were deemed strong enough to include on the 1990 Polydor Best of Sea Level comp, and while “Tear Down This Wall” probably could have been traded out without anybody shedding a tear, the other two fit reasonably well into the best-of. But with this album finding Sea Level searching for a successful formula amidst market indifference to the band’s strengths, the two-decade wait for Long Walk on a Short Pier’s release ended with a decidedly uneven listen for the band’s patient U.S. fans. (by Dave Lynch)

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Personnel:
Randall Bramblett (saxophone, keyboards, vocals)
Davis Causey (guitar)
Joe English (drums)
David Earle Johnson (percussion)
Chuck Leavell (keyboards, vocals)
Jimmy Nalls (guitar)
Lamar Williams (bass)
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saxophone:
Charlie Brent – Harold Williams – Jon Robert Smith – Tony DaGrady
trumpet: Ed Dowling – Joe Woolie – Rodney Lafon

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Tracklist:
01. Tear Down This Wall (Leavell) 4.11
02. Canine Man (Bramblett/Causey) 4.14
03. My Love (Leavell) 4.01
04. Just A Touch (Williams) 5.28
05. Thirsty (Bramblett/Causey) 3.50
06. A Two ‘n Two (Bramblett/Causey/Nalls) 3.32
07. Morning Light (Bramblett/Causey) 2.45
08. Too Many Broken Hearts (Walker/Weaver) 3.36
09. Twenty Miles From Nowhere (Nails) 3.02

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SeaLevel

Chuck Leavell + Randall Bramblett

More Sea Level:

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