SAMMLUNG-ELEKTRONISCHE KASSETTENMUSIK, DÜSSELDORF 1982-1989.

Sammlung-Elektronische Kassettenmusik, Düsseldorf 1982-1989.

As the seventies gave way to the eighties, a new chapter in Düsseldorf’s musical history began. Music like Düsseldorf’s landscape, was changing and changing fast. Düsseldorf’s city centre was undergoing a period of regeneration, with familiar buildings being given a makeover. Suddenly, it seemed that many of the buildings that had been considered Düsseldorf’s landmarks were being modernised. Even the Old Town, which was a bohemian area, full of students and people who were interested in  art, literature and music. 

Ever since the late sixties, many young musicians had gravitated towards the Old Town, looking for likeminded people. Given the influx of advertising and marketing companies, the Old Town was no longer the place it had been during the late-sixties and seventies. That was a golden period for in Düsseldorf’s musical history, when the Old Town had a vibrant and thriving music scene.

Especially,during the Krautrock era, when Kraftwerk, Neu! and La Düsseldorf would go on to release groundbreaking albums of innovative and influential music. These albums would go on to influence several generations of musicians. So would a new breed of groups that were formed late in the seventies.

In 1976, disenchanted and disenfranchised youths in cities across Western Europe, embraced punk. This included in  Düsseldorf. Suddenly, the Ratinger Straße area became known as the area where the punk community congregated. However, by the time the seventies gave way to the eighties, punk was a remnant of music’s past, and the baton had passed to post punk. 

Despite that, punk, just like Krautrock, would continue to influence the latest generation of musicians in Düsseldorf. Especially, the electronic instruments that many Krautrock bands had deployed so effectively on albums. They were also being put to good use by musicians from the Berlin School of Electronic music, who had released ambitious and groundbreaking albums. Even some of the post punk musicians were using electronic instruments, albeit with decidedly mixed results. Everyone it seemed was using electronic instruments by the early eighties.

That was no surprise, as the price of drum machines, samplers, sequencers and synths were no longer prohibitively expensive. Instead, they were well within the reach of even hobbyist musicians. This was a game-changer, and would make it easier for a new breed of musicians in Düsseldorf to record and release  albums.

They were part of a new musical community that was taking shape within Düsseldorf. Many of these musicians shared flats, drank in the same bars and shared a similar taste in music. They listened to Cabaret Voltaire, Eric Random, Human League and Throbbing Gristle. However, one of the favourite releases of the time was a compilation entitled The Elephant Table Album. It would influence many aspiring musician as they embarked upon a career as a professional musician in Düsseldorf.

Inspired by D.I.Y. philosophy of punk, many of these young, aspiring musicians in Düsseldorf decided to eschew record companies, and self release the music that they had made. Rather than release their music on vinyl, which was prohibitively expensive, many within the Düsseldorf music community released their music on cassette. This includes the thirteen artists on Sammlung-Elektronische Kassettenmusik, Düsseldorf 1982-1989, which was recently released by Bureau B.

Konrad Kraft opens Sammlung-Elektronische Kassettenmusik, Düsseldorf 1982-1989. It’s was released in 1985, and finds Konrad Kraft continuing to develop polyrhythmic structures on a captivating and mesmeric track. 

In 1986, Deux Balaines Blanches released their debut album Singende Dräht. It featured nine short tracks, that featured on a C20 cassette album. This incdued Draht 8, an understated, bubbling and hypnotic sounding track that marries elements of abstract and ambient with avant-garde.

One of the earliest tracks on the compilation is Bzw, which  comes courtesy of Ettlinger. Its lo-fi sound is  reminiscent of the soundtrack to early computer games. Having said that, there’s a cinematic sound to this melodic and member track.

Although Mentocome sounds like it was one of a new generation of eighties groups, it was the moniker of Axel Grube. He recorded fourteen tracks which were released in 1986 on Mentocome’s eponymous album. It wasn’t released on cassette. Instead, it was released as an LP on Giraffe Rec., and nowadays is a much prized rarity among record collectors. That is no surprise, given the quality of on B6 a truly ambitious and experimental track. 

Frigorex featured the combined talents of Dino Oon and Konrad Kraft, who wrote and produced The Beginning. It’s taken from the 1982 cassette compilation Im Namen Des Volkes. It features contributions from Goldfinger, Konrad Kraft and Frigorex. Their finest moment, is  The Beginning is  a minimalist sounding track that sounds as if it’s been inspired by one of Düsseldorf’s most successful bands, Kraftwerk.

Frigorex featured the combined talents of Dino Oon (Birgit Gasser) and Konrad Kraft (Detlef Funder), who wrote and produced The Beginning. It’s taken from the 1982 cassette compilation Im Namen Des Volkes. It features contributions from Goldfinger, Konrad Kraft and Frigorex. Their finest moment, is  The Beginning is  a minimalist sounding track that sounds as if it’s been inspired by one of Düsseldorf’s most successful bands, Kraftwerk. 

One of the highlights of Sammlung-Elektronische Kassettenmusik, Düsseldorf 1982-1989 is Dino Oon’s contribution, Nr. 6. It’s a carefully crafted soundscape from 1989, that has a much more sophisticate sound. Nr. 6 is also dark, dramatic, cinematic and timeless. 

Thirty years ago, in April 1987, the Wstretscha compilation was released. Although it featured sixteen tracks, it was a showcase for four up-and-coming Düsseldorf bands. This included Deux Baleines Blanche, Eiterschlangen, Wooden Barrows and Pfad Der Tugend, who contributed a  trio genre-melting tracks. Einklang found Pfad Der Tugen fusing electronica, avant-garde and Krautrock to create a moody, spooky and cinematic track. It’s without doubt, the finest of Pfad Der Tugend’s three contribution to Wstretscha.

Catherine Ledit masterminded Kurzschluss, who contributed  L’Inconnu to the Phase Pervers Kompilation in 1987. Stylistically L’Inconnu is quite different from the previous tracks on the compilation. Rolls of rocky drums combine with synths to create what’s best described as a dramatic, filmic soundscape.

Andrea Bearch and Andreas Bongartz wrote and produced the  Wooden Barrows’ 1987 track Zyklus VI. It featured on the Wstretscha compilation, which was released in April 1987. Zyklus VI is a really accomplished and atmospheric, cinematic soundscape that even today, would be perfect for a short film.

Catherine Ledit masterminded Kurzschluss, who contributed  L’Inconnu to the Phase Pervers Kompilation in 1987. Stylistically L’Inconnu is quite different from the previous tracks on the compilation. Rolls of rocky drums combine with synths to create what’s best described as a dramatic, filmic soundscape.

To release the music being released by the new bands that sprung up in Düsseldorf during the eighties, many small independent labels were founded. This included Turnabout Tapes, who signed Le Petit Mort, which was a collaboration between Catherine Ledit and Dirk Grützmann. Le Petit Mort released their debut album Inconsequence in 1986, and contributed to tracks several compilations. Geheimes Wissen is an eerie, rhythmic and hypnotic track from 1987, which showcases the talents of Le Petit Mort.

Originally, Strafe Für Rebellion released Boston in 1985, but four years later, it featured on their compilation Vögel. It was released by the British label Touch, and showcased sixteen tracks recorded between 1981 and 1989. This included Boston, an experimental track that’s haunting and otherworldly.

Maria Zerfall was at the heart of the Düsseldorf during the eighties, and was involved in a variety of projects. She also released a series of solo albums. However, Wohin featured on Turnabout Records’ Phase Pervers Kompilation in 1987. Wohin is an ambitious track, where Maria Zerfall combines elements of experimental and industrial music

Closing Sammlung-Elektronische Kassettenmusik, Düsseldorf 1982-1989, is Dörper’s Dream a track from Add. This was a one of several monikers Bernd Zimmermann has used during his career. Dörper’s Dream is a genre-melting track from 1983, where elements of dub, electronica, experimental and industrial music combine to create an ambitious and moody soundacape.

Sammlung-Elektronische Kassettenmusik, Düsseldorf 1982-1989 features thirteen tracks lasting forty minutes. Back in the eighties, these tracks would’ve fitted onto one side of the C45 cassette tape. This was a notoriously unreliable musical format, which is why so few of the albums and compilations that these tracks were taken from exist today. Playing a cassette was, and still is, like the musical equivalent of Russian roulette. Every time play was pressed, there was every chance the cassette would unravel. However, for new artists in the Düsseldorf music scene during the eighties, the cassette allowed them to have their music heard by a wider audience.

For artists and bands on a budget, it was possible to buy a quantity of blank tapes and record copies of the album at home. Some artists even designed their own cassette cover. It was a D.I.Y. scene, much like the punk era. Other artists and bands signed to one of the cassette labels, that sprung Düsseldorf. They’re well represented on Sammlung-Elektronische Kassettenmusik, Düsseldorf 1982-1989. For many people, this will remind them of their local music scene during the eighties. 

Every large town and city had a similar scene, where tapes circulated of new and up-and-coming artists and bands. Along with the burgeoning fanzine movement, it was an exciting time for everyone involved. Sadly, in many cities and towns, there’s very left to remind people of these musical scenes. Not every town or city will have a record company like Bureau B compiling a musical document Sammlung-Elektronische Kassettenmusik, Düsseldorf 1982-1989.

Not every town or city had such a vibrant music scene as Düsseldorf. That has been the case since the late-sixties. Since then, bands like Kraftwerk, Neu!, La Düsseldorf, DAF, Der Plan and Die Krupps have all started life in Düsseldorf, and gone on to creat important, innovative and influential music. While none of the artists or bands that featured on Sammlung-Elektronische Kassettenmusik, Düsseldorf 1982-1989 reached the same heights, they recorded and released ambitious, innovative and genre-melting music.

The music on Sammlung-Elektronische Kassettenmusik, Düsseldorf 1982-1989 features elements of ambient, avant-garde, Berlin School, dub, electronica, experimental, industrial and Krautrock. It’s a potent musical mixture, that’s variously broody and moody, to dark and dramatic to melodic and memorable. Other times, it’s haunting and otherworldly. However, one word describes much of the music on Sammlung-Elektronische Kassettenmusik, Düsseldorf 1982-1989…cinematic.

Throughout Sammlung-Elektronische Kassettenmusik, Düsseldorf 1982-1989 the word cinematic is the perfect way to describe the soundscapes. This cinematic sound has stood the ravages of time.That is the case with the majority of the music on Sammlung-Elektronische Kassettenmusik, Düsseldorf 1982-1989. This is testament to the artists and bands who recorded the music. All too often, electronic music doesn’t age well, and quickly sounds dated. Not the music on Sammlung-Elektronische Kassettenmusik, Düsseldorf 1982-1989, which features thirteen tracks from some of leading lights of Düsseldorf’s electronic underground scene.

Sammlung-Elektronische Kassettenmusik, Düsseldorf 1982-1989.

 

 

SANDY DENNY-WHO KNOWS WHERE TIME GOES?

Sandy Denny-Who Knows Where Time  Goes?

On the 21st of April 1978, Sandy Denny passed away aged just thirty-one. That day, the career of one of the finest British folk singers of her generation was cut tragically short. Music lost a hugely talented singer and songwriter. There was no doubt about that. Sandy Denny stood head and shoulders above many of her contemporaries, including some she had shared a stage with. The loss of Sandy Denny was a tragedy

Music was in mourning at the loss of Sandy Denny. She had achieved so much  in a short space of time. This included a brief spell with The Strawbs, before becoming the lead singer of Fairport Convention. However, Sandy left Fairport Convention in December 1969 to hone her songwriting skills. That was the plan.

Not long after her departure from Fairport Convention, Sandy decided to form a new band, Fotheringay. So in the early 1970, Sandy began putting together a new band. One of the first musicians she brought onboard was guitarist Trveor Lucas. 

He had been born in Australia, but was now based in Britain. Trevor was now a familiar face in the British folk scene. Previously, Trevor was a member of Eclection. That’s when Trevor met Sandy Denny. The pair started dating in May 1969, and eventually, married in 1973. However, Trevor’s career began back in Australia, in the early sixties.

Back then, Trevor Lucas was a solo artist. He released his debut solo album See That My Grave Is Kept Clean in 1964. Then on New Year’s Eve Trevor boarded a ship and made the journey from Australia to Britain. That’s when he became a member of Eclection, and met drummer Gerry Conway.

Eclection were a folk-rock band, who were formed in 1967, and broke up two years later in 1969. However, by then, Trevor Lucas and Gerry Conway were firm friends. They renewed their musical partnership in Fotheringay.

Gradually, Sandy’s new band was taking shape. The final pieces in the musical jigsaw were two former members of The Poet and The One Man Band. Guitarist Jerry Donahue had moved from Manhattan to Britain,  where he quickly became stalwart of the folk scene. This wasn’t surprising. Jerry’s father was big band saxophonist Sam Donohue. However, Jerry wasn’t inspired by his father. Instead, Gerry McGee, Earl Scruggs, Chet Atkins and Duane Eddy inspired Jerry, who in 1970, joined Fotheringay with Edinburgh born bassist Pat Donaldson.

By 1970, Pat Donaldson was a familiar face in the London music scene. He had moved to London in the early sixties. Since then, he had been a member of Bob Xavier and the Jury, Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band and the reformed Dantalian’s Chariot. Fotheringay was just the latest group the twenty-seven year old bassist work with. 

With the lineup of her new band finalised, all Sandy Denny needed was a name for the band. She decided on Fotheringay, after Fotheringay Castle where Mary Queen Of Scots was imprisoned. With its lineup complete and a name in place, Sandy Denny’s new band could begin work on their debut album.

Fotheringay.

Sandy Denny didn’t waste any time recording Fotheringay’s debut album. She wrote four tracks and cowrote Peace in the End with Trevor Lucas. He also penned The Ballad of Ned Kelly. Other tracks included covers of Gordon Lightfoot’s The Way I Feel, Bob Dylan’s Too Much Of Nothing and Banks of the Nile. These ten tracks were recorded between February and April, 1970 at Sound Techniques, in London with Joe Boyd producing what became Fotheringay.

Once Fotheringay was completed, the album was released in June 1970. It was one of the most eagerly awaited albums of the year. Critics and record buyers eagerly anticipated the release of Fotheringay. 

They weren’t disappointed. Critics hailed the album a masterful debut. Sandy Denny was back, and better than ever. Her enchanting, ethereal vocal was complimented by a tight, talented band. They won not just the critics, but record buyers.

Fotheringay sold well upon its release in June 1970, and reached number eighteen in Britain. Good as this was, it wasn’t good enough for Island Records. Their expectations and Fotheringay’s differed. Island Records hoped the album would be one of the label’s biggest selling albums. That wasn’t the case. This resulted in Island Records’ pressurising Sandy to embark upon a solo career.

Sandy Denny dug her heels in. She was determined to continue with Fotheringay. So work began on what was meant to be Fotheringay’s sophomore album.

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Fotheringay 2.

A total of eleven tracks were meant to feature on Fotheringay’s sophomore album. This time, Sandy Denny only wrote two songs. Trevor Lucas and Pete Roach penned Knights of the Road and Restless.Among the other tracks were traditional songs, a cover of Bob Dylan’s I Don’t Believe You and the Dave Cousins’ composition Two Weeks Last Summer. These eleven tracks were recorded by an expanded lineup of Fotheringay.

Joining the usual lineup of Fotheringay was Linda Thompson. She was going to add backing vocals when the sessions began in November 1970. The sessions continued into December 1970. Everyone thought that things were going to plan. Sadly, that wasn’t the case.

In January 1971, it was announced that Fotheringay were no more. The band split-up and what would eventually become Fotheringay 2 was shelved. It wasn’t released until 2008. With Fortheringay now consigned to musical history, Sandy Denny embarked upon a solo career.

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Sandy Denny signed to Island records, and soon, began to work  on to release her debut solo album,The North Star Grassman and The Ravens. For Sandy Denny, this was the start of a new and exciting chapter in her career.

The North Star Grassman and The Ravens.

After Fotheringay split-up, Island Records were keen for the latest signing to enter the studio. Sandy Denny, Island Records believed, could become one of the company’s biggest selling artists. So Sandy entered the studios in March 1971.

By then, Sandy Denny was maturing as a songwriter. That was what she set out to do, when she left Fairport Convention. For The North Star Grassman and The Ravens, Sandy wrote eight of the eleven songs, including Late November and John The Gun which had been recorded for the Fortheringay 2 sessions. Among Sandy’s other compositions, were The Sea Captain, The Optimist, Next Time Around, Wretched Wilbur, The North Star Grassman and The Ravens and Crazy Lady Blues. They joined a rework of the traditional song Blackwaterside, Bob Dylan’s Down In The Flood and Charles Robins’ Let’s Jump The Broomstick. These songs were recorded over a three month period, with some familiar faces.

The recording sessions began in March 1971, at Sound Techniques, with Sandy Denny, John Wood and Fairport Convention’s Richard Thompson tanking charge of production. Just two songs were recorded there Blackwaterside and Let’s Jump The Broomstick. Then things were moved in-house and the rest of the sessions took place at Island Studios, in London.

At Island Studios, Sandy was accompanied on some of the tracks, by the rest of Fotheringay. Other musicians were drafted in when needed. This included Buddy Emmons on pedal steel guitar; drummer Roger Powell; bassist Tony Reeves; violinist Barry Dransfield and Ian Whiteman on piano and flute organ. Royston Wood and Robin Dransfield added backing vocals on John The Gun. Richard Thompson played accordion, bass, electric and acoustic guitar. His vocal featured on Down In The Flood. Harry Robertson arranged the strings on Next Time Around and Wretched Wilbur. By May 1971, The North Star Grassman and The Ravens was complete. It would be released four months later.

Before the release of The North Star Grassman and The Ravens, critics had their say on Sandy Denny’s debut solo album. With its mixture of Sandy Denny compositions, and cover versions, it was a truly captivating album. Sandy’s vocals were compelling, as she breathed meaning and emotion into lyrics. Among the highlights were John The Gun, Late November, the wonderfully wistful Next Time Around and The North Star Grassman and The Ravens. That’s not forgetting Down In The Flood, where the interplay between Richard Thompson’s guitar and Sandy’s vocal is masterful. The only song some critics felt let the album down slightly, was Let’s Jump The Broomstick and Down In The Flood. Still, though, The North Star Grassman and The Ravens was a hailed a musical masterpiece and minor folk rock classic. Sandy Denny it seemed, could do no wrong.

When The North Star Grassman and The Ravens was released in September 1971, the album didn’t sell in the huge quantities that Island Records had hoped. They seemed to envisage Sandy Denny enjoying the commercial success that Joni Mitchell was enjoying. That wasn’t to be. However, Sandy Denny enjoyed the same critical acclaim that her American counterpart was enjoying.

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Sandy.

There was no rest for Sandy Denny, after she returned from a tour to promote the release of her debut album, The North Star Grassman and The Ravens. Two weeks later, in November 1971, Sandy began recording his sophomore album Sandy at Sound Techniques and Island Studios.

Sandy had been busy, and written eight new songs. This included It’ll Take a Long Time, Sweet Rosemary, For Nobody to Hear, Listen, Listen, The Lady, Bushes and Briars, It Suits Me Well and The Music Weaver. These songs joined covers of Bob Dylan’s Tomorrow Is A Long Time, and the traditional song The Quiet Joys Of Brotherhood, which Richard Fariña had written lyrics for. These songs were recorded by a familiar faces and new names.

The first change was that Trveor Lucas had been hired to produce Sandy. John Wood who had played such an important part in the sound and success of The North Star Grassman and The Ravens was relegated to engineer. Similarly, Richard Thompson’s only part in Sandy was playing on five songs. However, one thing hadn’t changed, where the studios that were used.

Just like with Sandy Denny’s debut album, recording took place at Sound Techniques and Island Studios. The first sessions took place in November 1971 Sandy was joined by British folk royalty, including Fotheringay bassist Pat Donaldson. He was joined by four members of Fairport Convention, Richard Thompson on mandolin, acoustic and electric guitar, vocalist Linda Thomson, violinist Dave Swarbrick and Trevor Lucas on acoustic guitar. They were joined by some new names.

This included The Flying Burrito Brothers’ pedal steel player Sneaky Pete Kleinow. He was joined by organist and pianist John Bundrick. Both men played on It’ll Take A Long Time and Tomorrow Is A Long Time. The final member of Sandy’s band was John Kirkpatrick who played concertina on It Suits Me Well. Now the recording could get underway.

With her all-star band for company, Sandy recorded the ten songs over five sessions help during November 1971 and then in April and May 1972. Once the ten songs were recorded, the strings and horns were added.

Harry Robertson was brought in to arrange the strings on Listen, Listen, The Lady and The Music Weave. One change was the addition of on one of the tracks on Sandy. So, Allen Toussaint was drafted in to arrange the horns on For Nobody to Hear. Rather than travel to Britain, Allen Toussaint recorded the horn section at the Deep South Studio in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Once the strings and horns were added, and Sandy was mixed and mastered, the album was ready for release.

Before that, critics received their advance copy of Sandy. The promotion of Trevor Lucas to the position of producer had paid off. He managed to combine the two sides of Sandy Denny’s music. This was the traditional folk sound, and the more modern folk rock sound. Part of this was in the choice of instruments. Traditional instruments like a mandolin and acoustic guitar harked back to folk music’s past; while the pedal steel and Hammond organ were its future. However, key to the success of Sandy were Sandy’s skills as a singer and songwriter. 

Some of Sandy’s finest moments were on Listen, Listen, where strings and a mandolin accompany her vocals, and on The Lady, where Sandy delivers a heartfelt vocal. Then on Quiet Joys Of Brotherhood, the lushest of strings provide the perfect backdrop for Sandy. It was a similar case with the horns on For Nobody to Hear. Bob Dylan’s oft-covered Tomorrow Is A Long Time takes on new meaning thanks on Sandy. Critics were calling Sandy a minor classic. Surely the album would bring commercial success Sandy Denny’s way?

Sadly, it wasn’t to be. When Sandy was released in September 1972, history repeated itself. Sandy was the commercial success that Island Records were hoping for. Again, Sandy Denny had failed to find mainstream success. It was a huge disappointment for Sandy, and it would nearly two years before she returned with her third album Like An Old Fashioned Waltz.

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Like An Old Fashioned Waltz.

After returning from a tour where she was promoting her sophomore album Sandy, Island Records wanted Sandy Denny to head back into the studio. The recording then touring schedule was relentless. However, the tour gave Sandy time to think.

She decided that she wanted to make her impression musically. Sandy Denny had been rubbing shoulders with two Britain’s biggest musical exports, Led Zeppelin and The Who. She had performed with both bands, and seeing how the other half lived, decided that she wanted to enjoy a taste of the commercial success both bands were enjoying. This was music to executives at Island Records’ ears.  However, Sandy was disappointed by the commercial failure of her first two albums. It seemed folk rock wasn’t going to make Sandy rich. So Sandy had decided to broaden her appeal.

In her heart of hearts, Sandy Denny knew her music had to change if it was to appeal to a much wider audience. So for her third album Like An Old Fashioned Waltz, Sandy decided to make some changes. Elements of pop and jazz would join her usual folk rock sound on her next album, Like An Old Fashioned Waltz. Despite deciding to change direction musically, Sandy decided to stick with Trevor Lucas who had produced Sandy.

It would’ve been awkward if Sandy Denny decided to change producer, as Trevor Lucas and Sandy were married during 1973. The only change Sandy made, was to bring John Wood back as co-producer. They would co-produce Like An Old Fashioned Waltz in London and Los Angeles.

For Like An Old Fashioned Waltz, Sandy Denny had written eight new sings. The only cover versions were Doris and Fred Fisher’s Whispering Grass and  Until The Real Thing Comes Along Sammy Cahn, Saul Chaplin and L.E. Freeman. Sandy remembered them from her father’s record collection, and gave them a jazzy makeover. These songs were recorded in Sound Techniques and A&M Studios, Los Angeles, between May and August 1973. Again, the great and good folk were present. Sandy Denny was joined by former Fotheringay bassist Pat Donaldson, and six members of her former group Fairport Convention. This included  Richard Thompson on mandolin, acoustic and electric guitar, guitarist Jerry Donahue, bassist Dave Pegg, drummer Dave Mattacks, violinist Dave Swarbrick and Trevor Lucas on acoustic guitar. They were joined by some old faces and new names.

The old face was John Bundrick, who played on Sandy. This time around, he played organ, piano and clavinet. New names included bassist Danny Thompson, who had previously worked with Nick Drake and John Martyn. Joining Danny Thompson was drummer Gerry Conway and saxophonist Alan Skidmore. Sandy’s band was shaping up nicely. Other new names included  Diz Disley on acoustic guitar; organist Jean Roussel and pianist Ian Armit. They were part of a band that spent three months recording  Like An Old Fashioned Waltz in L.A. and London. The album was completed in August 1973. This meant that Like An Old Fashioned Waltz would be released in late 1973. Or it should have been.

That was if Sandy Denny hadn’t dropped a bombshell. She was rejoining Fairport Convention. From Autumn 1973 to June 1974, Sandy toured with Fairport Convention. Eventually, Island Records scheduled the release of An Old Fashioned Waltz for June 1974.

When critics heard An Old Fashioned Waltz, they were struck by what was a very personal album. Many of the songs dealt with things that preoccupied and worried Sandy Denny. This included everything from loss and loneliness, the changing of the season, a fear of the dark and ironically, the passing of time.  Like An Old Fashioned Waltz was a very different album from her two previous albums. Jazz and pop stylings featured on an album where the lushest of strings joined a subtle piano in creating a ruminative and wistful album. Highlights included the album opener Solo, Friends, Dark The Night, At the End Of The Day and No End, which gave some insight into who Sandy Denny was as a person. However, Like An Old Fashioned Waltz divided the opinion of critics.

While some reviews were positive, the usual suspects like self-styled Dean of American Rock Critics wasn’t impressed. In his Village Voice review he called Like An Old Fashioned Waltz a “slugging album.” Other critics took a more favourable view of Like An Old Fashioned Waltz. Some felt this was the album was destined to change Sandy Denny’s fortunes.

It wasn’t to be. When Like An Old Fashioned Waltz was released in June 1974, commercial success eluded the album. Whispering Grass was chosen as the lead single, and was released in 1973. This was a strange choice, as it wasn’t one of the stronger songs on the album. Unsurprisingly, it failed to catch the attention of record buyers. Worse was to come when the release of Like an Old Fashioned Waltz as a single was cancelled. For Sandy Denny, her dreams of becoming one of the biggest names in music had come to nothing. So, Sandy rejoined Fairport Convention for the third and final time.

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Sandy embarked upon a world tour with Fairport Convention. Trevor Lucas, Sandy’s husband had also rejoined Fairport Convention. For the time being, her solo career was on hold. Then as 1975 drew to a close,  Sandy’s thoughts turned to her solo career, and her fourth album Rendezvous.

Rendezvous.

As 1975 gave way to 1976, Sandy began writing Rendezvous. She penned Gold Dust, Take Me Away, One Way Donkey Ride, I’m A Dreamer, All Our Days and No More Sad Refrains. The other three songs on Rendezvous were cover versions. This included Richard Thompson’s I Wish I Was a Fool For You (For Shame of Doing Wrong); Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s Candle In The Wind and Jack Rhodes and Dick Reynolds’ Silver Threads and Golden Needles. Recording of these songs began in April 1976.

By then, Sandy Denny and Trevor Lucas had decided to try one more time, to move Sandy’s music towards the mainstream. This would mean Rendezvous would feature a contemporary rock sound. Rendezvous was recorded between April and June 1976 at Island Studios Basing Street and Hammersmith; CBS Studios in London; Strawberry Studios  in Stockport and  Sound Techniques in Chelsea, London. Accompanying Sandy was a band the featured over thirty musicians and backing vocalists.

This included Sandy Denny’s former colleagues in Fairport Convention, guitarist Jerry Donahue and Richard Thompson, bassist Dave Pegg, drummer Dave Mattacks and Trevor Lucas on acoustic guitar. They were joined reggae guitarist Junior Murvin, John Bundrick on synths and piano; Steve Winwood on organ, piano and clarinet and former Fotheringay bassist Pat Donaldson. Adding backing vocals were Benny Gallagher and Graham Lyle; Kay Garner and Clare Torry; Sue Glover and Sunny Leslie. Even The Silver Band made a guest appearance on Silver Threads and Golden Needles. Much of Rendezvous had been recorded between 23rd of April and 7th of June 1976 at Basing Street and Island Studios.

When the everyone arrived at the studio, Harry Robertson had arranged the strings on Candle In The Wind, I’m a Dreamer and All Our Days. Steve Gregory had arranged the horns on Take Me Away. Even The Silver Band’s appearance on Silver Threads and Golden Needles required the Robert Kirby to be brought onboard. John Wood again, returned to the role of engineer as Trevor Lucas produced Rendezvous. Now the sessions began. Straight away, there was a problem.

During these sessions, Sandy Denny’s voice no longer had neither the same purity nor ethereal quality. During the Fairport Convention tour, she had been drinking and smoking heavily. Eventually, this took its toll. However, still Sandy could still unleash a powerful vocal whilst always in control, and could breath life, meaning and emotion into lyrics. Sandy was still a great singer and storyteller. She recorded her parts, and took her leave. Little did Sandy know she would never enter a studio again.

Despite Sandy Denny having recorded her vocals, Rendezvous was still not complete. Another session took place between the 9th and 18th of June 1976. By then,Trveor Lucas was at the overdubbing stage. He added layers of string, and also overdubbed layer after layer of backing vocals and instruments. This would prove controversial.

With the album completed in July 1976, the original album title was Gold Dust. The release date was scheduled for October 1976. However, the release date kept being postponed. When the album was eventually released in May 1977, the album was called Rendezvous. It was an album that didn’t win over critics.

Many critics felt Rendezvous had been overproduced. This was a result of Trevor Lucas overdubbing of layers of strings, backing vocals and instruments. There were too many strings, backing vocalist and the lead guitars threatened to overpower Sandy’s vocals. That was a great shame, given the quality of Sandy’s songwriting, and vocals. If Trevor Lucas had taken a less is more approach, Rendezvous would’ve been a much better album. However, it was not without some fine moments.

Among them, where Gold Dust took on a Caribbean influence. Take Me Away and I’m A Dreamer became soulful torch songs. All Our Days  was a seven minute pastoral epic, which seemed to draw inspiration from Vaughan Williams. I’m A Dreamer, All Our Days and No More Sad Refrains all showcased Sandy Denny’s talents as a singer and songwriter. However, when Rendezvous was released in May 1977, it was to mixed reviews. 

When Rendezvous was belatedly released, the album passed record buyers by. It became Sandy Denny’s least successful album. The dream was almost over.

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Gold Dust.

Not long after the release of Rendezvous, Island Records quietly dropped Sandy Denny. Despite being without a record label, she went ahead with plans to record a live album, Gold Dust. 

After the release of Rendezvous, Sandy Denny headed out on tour to promote the album. The last date on the tour was at the Royalty Theatre in London on 27th November 1977. That night the tapes rolled.

Sandy Denny accompanied by her band, worked their way through the seventeen songs. Closing the set was a spine-tingling version of one of Sandy’s best songs Who Knows Where the Time Goes? That proved to a poignant way to end what was Sandy’s last public performance was on Gold Dust, which was released somewhat belatedly in 1998. 

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After Rendezvous failed commercially, Island Records dropped Sandy. She was already drinking heavily, smoking and snorting cocaine. Her behaviour became erratic. Sandy was also suffering from severe headaches. So a doctor prescribed a distalgesic. However, Sandy continued to drink. Whether this played a part in a fall she had in late March 1978 is unknown. What we know, is that tragedy struck on 17th April 1978. 

That night, Sandy Denny was admitted to the Atkinson Morley Hospital in Wimbledon. She fell into a coma, and four days later, on 21st April 1978, Sandy Denny died. The cause of Sandy’s death was a brain haemorrhage and blunt force trauma. It’s likely that when Sandy Denny fell, this played a contributory factor in her death. Tragically, Sandy Denny was only thirty-one. 

Despite her relatively youth, Sandy Denny had platted a huge part in the British folk scene. She had played a huge part in the success of Fairport Convention, and founded Fotheringay. Their music has only recently received the recognition it deserved. So to some extent have Sandy Denny’s solo albums. It’s only recently that they’ve been reevaluated and started to finds a wider audience. They’re a a reminder of  British folk music’s greatest ever folk singer, Sandy Denny, who passed away thirty-nine years ago. As Sandy Denny sang in her finest song Who Knows Where Time  Goes?

SANDY DENNY-WHO  KNOWS WHERE TIME GOES?

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DAYME AROCENA-CUBAFONIA.

Daymé Arocena-Cubafonía.

When it comes to music, nowadays, the world is a much smaller place that it used to. Especially when compared to the sixties, seventies or even the eighties. Back then, it was almost impossible to discover music from anywhere other than North America, parts of Europe or Britain. It was impossible to discover the delights of African, Eastern European, Latin American or Cuban music. Eventually, this began to change, after the birth of the internet.

This was a game-changer for record buyers worldwide. So was the changing political climate. Eastern Europe was now open for business, while many countries were now regarded as tourist destinations. People were exposed to different types of music when they holidayed in South America, the Caribbean, parts of Africa and in Cuba. However, for most people, the internet was the start of a musical voyage of discovery.

Suddenly, they were able to discover music from all over the world. Soon, online marketplaces meant that record buyers were able to buy music from all over the world. Record buyers were regularly buying LPs from Asia, South America, Africa and Eastern Europe. This new generation of record buyers had truly  eclectic taste.

Soon, new independent record labels were being founded to specifically cater for the eclectic taste of this new breed of discerning record buyers. They took a different approach to compilations and reissues. Suddenly, record shops were stocking compilations of African, Latin American and Cuban music. For many artists that featured on these compilations, this the big break that they had been waiting for. It certainly was the case for Daymé Arocena, who first came to prominence in 2014 on Havana Cultura Mix-The Soundclash!, which was released on  Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Recordings.

Three years later, and Daymé Arocena recently released her sophomore album Cubafonía on Brownswood Recordings. It’s the followup to Nueva Era, which was released in 2015. Cubafonía  is a carefully crafted and accomplished album from Daymé Arocena, who was destined to become a singer.

The Daymé Arocena story is one of triumphing over adversity. She was born in Havana in 1994, and grew up in a two bedroom house with twenty-one other people. It was far from an ideal start in life. However, it was where Daymé Arocena first heard and experienced the countless different and disparate rumba rhythms. They regularly filled the house, and were akin to a joyous call to dance. From an early age, Daymé Arocena was immersed in the different types of Cuban music. This was the start of her lifelong love affair with music.

By the age of nine, Daymé Arocena had entered one of Havana’s most prestigious, state-funded classical conservatoires. Already, Daymé Arocena had come a long way from her humble beginnings.

As classical training progressed, Daymé Arocena was encouraged to try and learn to play the piano, violin and guitar. Soon, though, she discovered that her voice was the instrument she could make the best use of. Already Daymé Arocena was showing signs of becoming one of the future stars of Cuban music. 

Despite this, Daymé Arocena turned her attention to choir directing whilst at the prestigious classical conservatoire. That was also where she joined several children’s bands. Later, this  included  the fusion jazz quintet Sumsum Corda, which Daymé Arocena joined in 2010. It embarked upon tours of Nicaragua and Norway. However, despite playing fusion, Daymé Arocena never forgot her musical roots. That would be the case throughout Daymé Arocena’s career, which would blossom over the next few years.

Having enjoyed being a member of Joaquin Betancourt’s big band, Daymé Arocena decided that the time was right to form her own band. This lead to Daymé Arocena founding Alami, an all-girl band.

In 2013, Alami were invited to play at the Jazz Plaza Festival by Canadian saxophonist Jane Bunnet. They must have made an impression on Jane Bunnet, who later, asked Alami to join her new project Maqueque.

For Alami, this was the start of a new and exciting chapter in their career. Jane Bunnet and Maqueque collaborated on what became eponymous debut album. It was released in 2014, and won the 2015 Juno Award, in Best Album Jazz category. By then, a new chapter in Daymé Arocena’s career was well underway.

Over the last couple of years, Daymé Arocena’s music came to the attention of a Havana Cultura, which helps to promote  contemporary Cuban culture. Through Havana Cultura, Daymé Arocena  came to the attention of broadcaster, DJ, promoter and record label founder Gilles Peterson in 2014. By then  Daymé Arocena was one of Cuban music’s rising stars.

Gilles Peterson met Daymé Arocena and was so impressed by the twenty year old that he invited her to become part of his latest  project. Havana Cultura Mix-The Soundclash! was the first album from what was billed as Gilles Peterson Presents Havana Cultura. Daymé Arocena played a starring role on the compilation, contributing vocals to U Knew Before, Me Lleva La Habana and Sandunga. One of the highlights of the compilation was U Knew Before, which featured a vocal masterclass from Daymé Arocena. 

After her performance on Havana Cultura Mix-The Soundclash!, Gilles Peterson was keen to sign Daymé Arocena to his Brownswood Records. By then, other record labels had heard about the considerable talents of Daymé Arocena. However,  there was never any doubt that Daymé Arocena was going to sign for Brownswood Records.

Having signed to Brownswood Records, Gilles Peterson became Daymé Arocena’s musical mentor. He would lead his latest signing  through what can be a maze, where pitfalls lurk round every corner. Soon, Daymé Arocena would make her debut for Brownswood Records.

As 2015 dawned, Daymé Arocena released The Havana Cultura Sessions EP, which was her debut for her new album. It featured four songs, including a compelling cover of Cry Me A River. The Havana Cultura Sessions EP was enough for record buyers and those within the music industry to sit up and take notice.

This was the start of what was the busiest year of Daymé Arocena’s career so far. She spent much of 2015 recording her debut album and playing live. It was a whirlwind, that ended with the release of Daymé Arocena’s debut album Nueva Era in late 2015. Nueva Era was released to widespread critical acclaim, and was an important album culturally. 

Nueva Era found Daymé Arocena attempting to redefine Nueva Era what Cuban music stood for. Daymé Arocena was determined move Cuban music beyond what she saw as its stereotypical sound. This was a big ask, especially from an artist who was just releasing their debut album. However, Daymé Arocena had put a   great deal of thought into what she was doing.

Daymé Arocena had a vision for the future of Cuban music. Her classical training has played its part in forming Daymé Arocena’s interconnected vision of Cuban music. It takes its inspiration from the different rhythms and styles that are unique to each Caribbean island. 

These are all very different, but played an important part in the musical development of Daymé Arocena. This includes Changüí, which originated in the Guantánamo Province in the nineteenth Century. It’s an ancestor of modern salsa, which was popular in Cuba during the twentieth Century. Then there’s Guaguancó, which is a sub-genre of the rhumba, and combines percussion, voices and dance. There’s two types of Guaguancó, Havana and Matanzas, which Daymé Arocena was introduced to growing up. It was a similar case with the ballada style that was popular in Cuba during the seventies. Each style of music had influenced Daymé Arocena growing up, and as she embarked upon a career as a singer.

By 2015, Daymé Arocena was already a talented and versatile singer. Seamlessly, she could switch between musical styles, as she revisits Cuba’s musical past and marries them with a much more contemporary Nu-Soul and jazz-tinged sound. Mostly, Daymé Arocena sings in Spanish, but sometimes, she switches to English and even French. This depends upon what the mood and spirit dictates for one of the rising stars of Cuban music.

Buoyed by the success of her debut album, career continued apace. During 2016, Daymé Arocena released an E.P. of cover versions One Takes. It was another showcase for the vocal prowess of Daymé Arocena. So was the second collaboration with Jane Bunnet.

A year after their eponymous debut album won a Juno Award, in Best Album Jazz category Jane Bunnet and Maqueque returned with their much-anticipated sophomore album Oddara. It was released to plaudits and praise in 2016, and the rise and rise of Daymé Arocena continued apace.

The last few years had been a whirlwind of activity for Daymé Arocena. She had played at some of the most prestigious events, including the Jazz Na Fabrica Festival, in Brazil; Les Voix Humaines Festival, in Cuba; the Duc des Lombards and Worldwide Festival, in France. There’s also been appearances in  London, Los Angeles and Tokyo. The name Daymé Arocena is already known far and wide.

This comes as no surprise. Already Daymé Arocena has shared a stage with the legendary Roy Ayers, and with Brazilian superstar Ed Motta. That was one of the proudest moments of her career. So much so, that she left the tears in tears of joy. Other highlights of Daymé Arocena included collaborating with jazz musicians Roberto Fonseca and Yasek Manzano, and with Russian DJ Raumskaya. All these collaborations shape Daymé Arocena’s approach to music, and how she continues to redefine Cuban music.

Although Daymé Arocena continues to redefine Cuban music, she’s extremely proud and protective of her musical heritage and roots. It’s something to be taken seriously, as it’s part of Cuban culture and history. Daymé Arocena is determined to help keep Cuba’s distinct and disparate musical dialects alive. This includes through her own music, including Daymé Arocen much-anticipated sophomore album Cubafonía, which was recently released by Brownswood Recordings.

Cubafonia is a truly ambitious from the newly crowned Queen of Cuban music. It features eleven new songs that showcase the versatility and vocal prowess of a singer who in the future, has the potential to crossover. That wouldn’t come as a surprise, as there’s a soulfulness to Daymé Arocen’s voice, which is equally comfortable singing jazz and pop. Meanwhile, though, Daymé Arocen remains loyal to her roots. 

So much so, that she fuses irresistible Cuban rhythms with chants that are a reminder of Daymé Arocen’s Afro-Cuban Santería faith on the album opener Eleggua. Elsewhere, Daymé Arocen seamlessly switches between and incorporates elements of disparate musical genres during the eleven songs on Cubafonia. They’re guaranteed to toy with the listener’s emotions.

Other songs have a strong narrative, including La Rumba Me Llamo Yo, an energetic rumba guaguancó workout. It tells the story of a woman who embarked upon a relationship her mother warned her about. Later, it takes on a joyous sound, as what sounds like a musical party unfolds. Lo Que Fue is the perfect showcase for Daymé Arocen as she unleashes a soul-baring vocal. Maybe Tomorrow is another soulful confessional, where Daymé Arocen combines emotion and power against a carefully crafted arrangement that features lush strings. Soon, though, Daymé Arocen takes Cubafonía in a different direction.

Very different is Negra Caridad, which references Cuba’s musical past. Especially, Benny More’s big band and the one time Queen of Cuban music Lupe. However, a new Queen has been crowned, and continues to showcase her versatility as her vocal  veers between soulful vocal and a scat on Mambo Na’ Mà, while the band fuse soul, jazz, and mambo that sounds as if it was recorded in downtown New Orleans. Soon, Daymé Arocen  drops the tempo.

Cómo is the first of a trio of ballads. Sonically and stylistically it’s reminiscent of Sade in her prime. That sound is given a makeover, and definitely has widespread appeal. It could be the direction for Daymé Aroce to head in, if she wants to enjoy mainstream success. Todo Por Amor picks up where Cómo left off, and is another beautiful ballad. Completing the trio of ballads is the jazz-tinged and soulful Ángel, which features another soul-baring vocal. After this, the voice of an Ángel changes direction once again.

Genre-melting describes It’s Not Gonna Be Forever, as Cuban  rhythms combine with funk and jazz on this carefully crafted song. Daymé Aroce’s vocal veers between soulful to a scat, as one of the best arrangement on Cubafonía unfolds. This leaves just the understated, folk-tinged strains of Valentine, which comes from Cuba with love.

Cubafonía marks the musical coming age of Daymé Aroce, whose a truly talented and versatile vocalist. Seamlessly, she switches between musical genres, as Daymé Aroce breathes life, meaning and emotion into the lyrics. She’s equally at home on the energetic rumba guaguancó workout La Rumba Me Llamo Yo, as she is on the ballads like Cómo, Todo Por Amo and Ángel.  These tracks feature both Cuban music’s past and present.

Daymé Aroce is immensely proud of her Cuban musical roots, and continues to embrace and incorporate them throughout Cubafonía. That is admirable, as it would be all too easy to change direction musically in pursuit of fame and fortune. After all, Daymé Aroce is blessed with a deeply soulful and velvety voice. It’s perfectly suited to the ballads and more soulful sides on Cubafonía. When it comes to the jazzier cuts, Daymé Aroce is equally at home. She’s one of the most versatile singers of recent years, and proves that throughout Cubafonía. She’s also a singer who has crossover appeal.

It would be an interesting experiment if Daymé Aroce were to record a crossover album of that featured soulful ballads and jazzier songs. Would this be the album that transformed the fortunes of Daymé Aroce and turn her into the next Queen of Nu-Soul? There’s every chance, as Daymé Aroce certainly has the vocal prowess and versatility.

For the time being, though, it’s highly unlikely that Daymé Aroce would even consider turning her back on her musical roots.  Especially considering how popular her unique of music is proving. It’s won Daymé Aroce fans all over the world. She’s come a long way since she left Joaquin Betancourt’s big band. 

Since then, the rise and rise of Daymé Aroce has continued apace. What she’s already achieved must be beyond her wildest dreams. It’s certainly a long way from that two bedroom house that Daymé Aroce shared with twenty-one other people as a child. These days are long behind Daymé Aroce, who has used her talent to overcome adversity, and what must have been a difficult start in life. However, what Daymé Aroce is only the the start of what should be a long and successful career.

While Cubafonía may only Daymé Aroce’s sophomore album, it’s a career defining album from a truly talented and versatile vocalist. It marks the coming of age musically of Daymé Aroce who has already been crowned the new Queen of Cuban music.  No wonder, given the given the quality of music that Daymé Aroce has already released. Her finest moment is Cubafonía, which is a musical Valentine from the new Queen of Cuban music Daymé Aroce, who has the voice of an Angel.

Daymé Arocena-Cubafonía.

TAPIMAN-HARD DRIVE.

Tapiman-Hard Drive.

During the seventies, the hard rocking Spanish power trio Tapiman, released a trio of albums between 1972 and 1979. This includes Tapiman, which is a cult classic, that nowadays, changes hands for over £800. It was, without doubt Tapiman’s finest hour. Sadly, these three albums amount to everything that Tapiman recorded during their seventies heyday. Recently, it became apparent that that wasn’t strictly true.

The three albums released by Tapiman during the seventies, were recorded by what was the second lineup of the band. Recently, it transpired that the original lineup of Tapiman had recorded ten tracks in 1971. Very few people were aware of these homemade recordings, which include a cover of Black Sabbath’s Planet Caravan. That is why they’ve lain unreleased for nearly forty-six years

Recently, the  recordings by the original lineup of Tapiman made their debut on  Hard Drive, which was  released by Guerssen Records on ’28th’ April 2017. It features Tapiman at their hard rocking best, as they switch between, and combine, hard rock, proto-metal and even a hint of psychedelia and the Canterbury Scene. These eleven tracks on Hard Drive are reminder of the original lineup of Tapiman in 1971, as their career began,

Tapiman were formed in Barcelona, Spain in early 1971 by drummer Joseph María Vilaseca “Tapioles” and guitar virtuoso Miguel Angel Núñez. The pair struggled for a while to find the right bassist. They auditioned a few different bassists, but the chemistry just wasn’t right. Things changed when Pepe Fernández auditioned. Suddenly, the nascent band had found its bassist. Now the power trio had an enviable lineup of experienced musicians.

By then, Joseph María Vilaseca “Tapioles” was regarded as one of the best drummers at the time. He had previously been a member of Máquina, and played on their legendary 1970 debut album Why? Máquina looked as if they were destined to become one of the biggest rock groups in Spain. That was until lead singer Jordi Batiste left Máquina.

This was essentially the end of the road for Máquina. While different line-ups of the band were tried out, it was never the same band. The end came for Joseph María Vilaseca “Tapioles” when three other members of the Máquina formed a new band. This Joseph decided the time for him to found his own band.

Not long after this, Joseph María Vilaseca “Tapioles” met Miguel Angel Núñez. The pair soon formed a friendship, and realising that they worked well together, decided to form a new band. This was the basis for a successful band, as they were both experienced and talented musicians.

Previously, Miguel Angel Núñez had been already been a member of several different bands. At first he was the singer, but gradually, he began to play guitar in the some of the bands. Soon, Miguel Angel Núñez was well on his way to becoming one of Spain’s most exciting and flamboyant guitarists. He found the perfect home for his talents in the new group.

This new group didn’t as yet, have a name. Soon, the two friends hit on an idea that would provide the name for their band. They decided to take the first letters of their names and combine them. Joseph María Vilaseca “Tapioles” took the first four letters from surname (Tapi), while Miguel Angel Núñez took the initials from each name (man) and Tapiman was born. All that remained was finding a bassist.

After trying a few bassists, Tapiman discovered Pepe Fernández, who was the final piece in the jigsaw. Not only did his playing style suit the new band’s, but he well known with Barcelona’s progressive rock scene. Pepe had also previously been a member of the psychedelic blues band Vértice who recorded the single Take Me Away in 1970. Given his experience and track record, Pepe was the perfect addition to the nascent power trio. Sadly, Tapiman would only be together less than a year.

Despite only being together such a short time, Tapiman certainly made their mark on Spanish music. The rise and rise of Tapiman was certainly rapid. After Tapiman had honed their sound, Barcelona’s newest power trio started playing on live. Soon, Tapiman were a familiar face on the local music scene. Unlike most new bands, Tapiman soon became a popular draw. However, it wasn’t just music lovers that arrived at their gigs. 

Three months after Tapiman were formed, an A&R representative from a local record label, Edigsa arrived at one of their concerts. They wanted to sign Tapiman, and for the group to record and release their debut single on Edigsa. 

This wasn’t going to be just any single though. No, Claudi Marti who owned Edgisa, had very specific ideas about the single. It had to last a certain time, and have a “unique” sound so that record stations would play the single. 

Having signed a contract with Edgisa, the three members of Tapiman got to work, and penned Hey You, where Miguel Angel Núñez’s vocal and Pepe Fernández’s play lead roles in the sound and success of the song. For the B-Side, Miguel Angel Núñez penned Sugar Stone. These two songs became Tapiman’s debut single, when it was released in 1971. For Tapiman, this was the next part of a musical adventure.

Not long after the release of their debut Hey You, Tapiman entered the First Trocadero Music Festival. While Tapiman were one of the favourites, the competition was fierce. Two Barcelona based prog-psych bands, Máquina! and Pan and Regaliz were regarded as the favourites. Both were experienced campaigners. Despite their experience, it was Tapiman that triumphed. They proved to be the favourites of what was an enthusiastic audience. 

This was just one of many enthusiastic audiences Tapiman played in front of. Others included their morning shows at the Iris and at the Barbarella club in Mallorca. This was just one of the many top clubs that Tapiman played at during what was one of the busiest periods of their short career. However, one of the highlights came when they played at the Granollers First Festival of Progressive Rock. 

Tapiman who were one of the newest groups on the bill at the First Festival of Progressive Rock. Despite this, they stole the show with their acid rock sound. Suddenly, the Spanish music press were heaping praise on Tapiman. They were hailed as one of the rising stars of Spanish underground rock, who had a bright future in front of them.

It certainly looked that way. Suddenly, Tapiman were receiving offers from far and wide. This included from Jim Inman, who managed American bands. He wanted to take Tapiman to America, where they would spend a month touring San Francisco and the West Coast of America with major bands like Jefferson Airplane. This Jim Inman hoped, would Tapiman to the lucrative American market. That never happened though.

Instead, Tapiman were meant to start recording their debut album. It was hoped that the album would capture Tapiman’s live sound. Tapiman live shows were raw and energetic. To capture this sound, a decision was made to record the album live. After Tapiman encountered technical difficulties, they had to rethink their approach to recording the album.

Eventually, Tapiman decided to record the album at Gema Studios, in Barcelona. Rather than a closed session, Tapiman decided to record the album with members of the public present.  This method had been used in America, but never before in Spain. The lucky members of the public that arrived at the studio got to hear Tapiman in full flight, on what was a musical first in Spain. Once again, Tapiman were breaking new ground. Things were looking good for Tapiman.

They were regarded as one of the rising stars of Spanish underground rock. Tapiman were a popular live draw, who were starting to play further afield. This included a concert in Andorra, that took place not long after Tapiman had recorded their debut album. For Tapiman, this should’ve been a time to celebrate, as soon, their debut album would be completed and ready for release. Sadly, that wasn’t the case.

By the time of the concert in Andorra, there had been was some arguments between members of the band. This isn’t unusual in bands. Especially one like Tapiman, which featured three talented and creative people, who over the last few months had spent much of their time together. It was only natural that there will be the occasional disagreement. What nobody was prepared for, was Miguel Angel Núñez’s announcement that he was leaving Tapiman. For the other two members of the band this was a huge body blow.

Tapiman had just recorded their debut album. All that remained was to do some overdubbing, and then the album would be ready for release. That wouldn’t be possible without Miguel Angel Núñez, whose guitar playing was a crucial part of the album. Without him, the album wouldn’t be finished. It was imperative that Miguel Angel Núñez changed his mind, and the album was completed. After all, this album was what Tapiman had spent the last few months working towards. Now it looked like it would all be for nothing.

Despite the best efforts of Joseph María Vilaseca “Tapioles” and Pepe Fernández, Miguel Angel Núñez wasn’t willing to change his mind. Even Claudi Marti who owned the Edgisa label, couldn’t convince  Miguel Angel Núñez to change his mind about leaving Tapiman. It was the end of an era.

The ten tracks that were recently released as Hard Drive were never released, and since 1971, have lain in the Tapiman vaults. That was a great shame, as they showcase they combined and considerable talents of the original lineup of Tapiman.

Opening Hard Drive is the title-track, which is one of the songs recorded at Tapiman’s rehearsal space. Drum rolls and Miguel’s searing guitar riffs give way to Pepe’s bounding bass and soon, Tapiman are in full flight. As the drums provide the heartbeat, the bass and searing, scorching guitar play leading roles in this hard rocking track. They’re soon joined by Miguel’s urgent rocky vocal, which sounds as if it’s been inspirited by Black Sabbath, Deep Purple or Led Zeppelin. When the vocal drops out, Tapiman unleash a raw, rocky jam. Their playing is tight, inventive and briefly, pays homage to The Who, before reaching a glorious rocky crescendo.

No Control was meant to feature on the B-Side of Tapiman’s sophomore album No Control, which was never unreleased. As is often the case, B-Sides prove to be hidden gems. A searing, psychedelic guitar sets the scene for a vocal powerhouse. Meanwhile, Tapiman’s rhythm section lock down a groove as Miguel struts and swaggers his way through the lyrics. Behind him, drums pound, the bass bounds and cymbals crash. Miguel unleashes a fleet fingered, bristling guitar solo, before spraying machine gun riffs across the arrangement as hard rock meets psychedelia. If ever a song deserved to fare better than a B-Side, it’s No Control, which is a tantalising reminder of what the ordinal lineup of Tapiman were capable of.

Eight is the third of five tracks Tapiman recorded in their rehearsal rooms. This instrumental is like hearing the original lineup of Tapiman live. As the rhythm section lay down a groove, the bass bounds and snakes around the drumbeats. Soon, Miguel steps up, and delivers an effects laden solo. Behind him, Joseph continues to works his way round the kit, sometimes relying upon the ride, before pounding the drums enthusiastically. It’s a much more restrained performance, which results in much more mellow and melodic track. Latterly, the arrangement is stripped bare, when a drum roll, gives way to wailing feedback. Miguel’s searing guitar ensures the psychedelic rock of Eight reaches an impressive crescendo.

Time On Space is another instrumental, and is a showcase for a guitar masterclass from Miguel. He unleashes a blistering solo,  while the bass cuts through the arrangement and drums power the arrangement along. Although Tapiman are a talented power trio, it’s Miguel that steals the show with another scorching, fleet fingered solo from a musical wizard. 

Joseph’s drums take centre-stage on No Title as he powers his way round the kit. Soon, Pepe’s bass and Miguel’s Hendrix inspired guitar join and the tempo rises. The rhythm section power the arrangement along, with the bass matching the guitar every step of the way. Meanwhile, Miguel’s playing is fast, fluid and flamboyant, as the bass provides the heartbeat. Soon, the drums enjoy their moment in the sun, with flamboyant flourishes of guitar adding the final touch as Tapiman reach new heights. As astounded studio audience gasp in disbelief, before a walking bass and effects laden guitar power the arrangement along as No Title reaches a dramatic ending. It’s one of the highlights of Hard Drive.

Having counted the band in a tack piano plays on Before Last Minute. Soon, it’s joined by quivering effects laden guitar as the rhythm section provide the heartbeat. Meanwhile, the music of two decades melts into one. Elements of sixties psychedelia and seventies rock melt combine to create a punchy, driving dramatic instrumental 

Straight away, lysergic and dreamy describes Miguel’s vocal on Long Sea Journey. Again, there’s a sixties psychedelic sound to the understated and spacious arrangement. Here, less is more as guitars and swirling, droning  organ are deployed. Along with the vocal, they play leading roles in this cinematic psychedelic song.

Just a lone acoustic guitar accompanies a wistful vocal as Tapiman cover Black Sabbath’s Planet Caravan. Soon, rhythm section enter, and Tapiman march to the beat of Joseph’s drum. Meanwhile, a prowling bass works its way across the arrangement, before a scorching, psychedelic guitar soars high above the arrangement. When it drops out, a military beat, prowling bass and acoustic guitar accompany the emotive, wistful  vocal on this poignant cover of Black Sabbath’s Planet Caravan.

Closing Hard Drive is an acoustic demo version of Eight, which features the shimmering, glistening guitars that intertwine. They’re at the heart of this short instrumental, that lasts just over a minute. That is enough to hear how the track evolved, and became the version that featured earlier on Hard Drive. However, it’s the demo of Eight that closes this chapter in the Tapiman story.

The chapter in the Tapiman story that Hard Drive covers, is one that very few people were aware of. Some people were aware that it was the second lineup of Tapiman that recorded three albums between 1972 and 1979, Tapiman, Rock ’n’ Roll Music and En Ruta. However, very few knew that the original lineup of Tapiman began work on an album before they split-up. They certainly weren’t aware that the album wasn’t almost complete. Sadly, it was never completed.

Instead,  Max Sunyer joined the band and they embarked upon a new chapter in their career. This was the most successful period in their career. However, if Miguel Angel Núñez hadn’t decided to leave the band in 1971, there’s every chance that the original lineup of Tapiman would’ve gone on to reach even greater heights.

The ten tracks on Hard Drive are a tantalising reminder of what the original lineup of Tapiman sounded like. How would the songs have sounded if they had been completed, and album released? Maybe that would’ve been the first step in a musical journey that saw Tapiman become not just one of the biggest Spanish bands of the seventies, but a giant of European music. Tapiman certainly had the talent. Sadly, their differences got in the way of a successful career.

Maybe if they a manager who could’ve helped the three members of Tapiman resolve their differences, then things would’ve been very different? Certainly Tapiman’s debut album wouldn’t have lain unreleased for forty-six years. Sadly, that was what happened.

Recently,ten homemade recordings by the original lineup of Tapiman made their debut on Drive, which was released by Guerssen Records. It features Tapiman at their hard rocking best, as they switch between and combine hard rock, proto-metal and even a hint of psychedelia. There’s even a nod to the Canterbury Scene, on Hard Drive. It features the hard rocking sound of Tapiman in full flight on Hard Drive, which is a tantalising reminder of what the original lineup of Tapiman were capable of, and the heights they could’ve and should’ve achieved.

Tapiman-Hard Drive.

BOO HEWERDINE-SWIMMING IN MERCURY.

Boo Hewerdine-Swimming In Mercury.

There aren’t many people who have spent the past four decades doing something they love. Nowadays, they’re in the minority, and are the lucky ones. Award winning singer-songwriter Boo Hewerdine is one of the lucky ones, and has been fortunate enough to spend the last four decades fulfilling what was once a dream.

This dream began as a seven year old, when Boo Hewerdine was given a handful of singles and a Dansette record player. He remembers: “I would study the labels. The title, the singer, the numbers, Columbia, HMV, the stuff about rights written around the edge and most intriguing–the names in the brackets. It turned out that these people had “written” these songs. Songs could be made up. Conjured out of thin air. I decided then, at the age of seven, that’s what I would do. I couldn’t sing or play an instrument but I had an internal jukebox going on the whole time.” This Boo Hewerdine would put to good use in the future.

By the time Boo Hewerdine left school a decade later, he had mastered the guitar and was an aspiring singer-songwriter. Despite his ambition and aspirations, Boo Hewerdine ended up working in the warehouse of Andy Records’ in Bury. St. Edmunds. However, Boo Hewerdine always had ambition beyond working in a record shop. 

This first materialised when he formed his first band with a friend. Placebo Thing may have been a short-lived band, but it gave Boo a tantalising taste of life as a musician. Suddenly, he wanted to be making records rather than selling them.

Boo Hewerdine made his recording debut thirty-five years ago with The Great Divide. Four decades later, and Boo Hewerdine is regarded as one Britain’s leading singer-songwriters. He will release his much anticipated solo album Swimming In Mercury, on Reveal Records on ‘28th’ 2017. It’s a very personal, insightful and autobiographical album, with Boo Hewerdine reflecting on the past on Swimming In Mercury. There’s been much for Boo Hewerdine to reflect on during a career that’s spanned  four decades.

The Great Divide.

Fortunately, he didn’t have long wait. Boo Hewerdine joined The Great Divide in the early eighties. They were another local band, but one that looked as if they were going places. 

By 1982, The Great Divide had signed to a local Cambridge label, Wimp Records. Twenty-one year old Boo Hewerdine made his debut on the single Who Broke the Love Bank. Not long after this, The Great Divide caught a break, when Mike Scott of The Waterboys heard the band. 

He thought that The Great Divide had potential, so recommended them Ensign Records. Executives at Ensign Records agreed, and signed The Great Divide. They went on to release a trio of singles on Ensign Records. Alas, commercial success eluded these singles. By 1985, Boo Hewerdine was back where it all started for him.

With The Great Divide consigned to musical history, Boo Hewerdine was back working in a record shop in 1985. This time, Boo Hewerdine was behind the counter of the Beat Goes On record shop in Cambridge. While this allowed Boo to be around music, he hadn’t given up on his dream of making a living as a musician. So when Boo met jazz drummer Tony Shepherd, it looked like his time behind the counter could be coming to an end.

The Bible.

Originally, Tony Shepherd was a jazz drummer when he met Boo Hewerdine. While Tony sat in with other bands, he was like Boo,  between bands. So the pair decided to form a new band, and The Bible were born. They drafted in Kevin Flanagan another former member of The Great Divide. Before long, The Bible began to make an impression locally.

Soon, The Bible were a popular band locally. They had quickly acquired a cult following. Word began to spread further afield about this new band from Cambridge. This was through word-of-mouth. So it was no surprise that a record company decided to sign The Bible.

The label that signed The Bible was Black Records, a Norwich based independent label. They released The Great Divide’s 1986 debut album Walking The Ghost Back Home. It reached number ten in the UK Indie Charts, and featured two hit singles. Graceland reached number eighty-seven in UK charts, before Mahalia reached number fifteen in the UK Indie Charts. Given the success of Walking The Ghost Back Home, it was no surprise that bigger record labels started to take an interest The Bible.

Eventually, The Bible decided to sign to Chrysalis. They began work on their sophomore album Eureka. The Great Divide had decided to produce the album with Pete Smith and Owen Morris. However, the initial sessions proved unsatisfactory for the band. It was then that their management suggested bringing country rocker Steve Earle onboard to produce Eureka. This worked, and the album was scheduled for release in 1988.

Prior to the release, the reviews of Eureka were positive. Despite this, the album stalled at just seven-one in the UK. For everyone involved, this was disappointing, considering how popular The Bible were. Surely this was a blip?

Just a year later, The Bible enjoyed the most successful single of their career. A rerecorded version of Graceland reached fifty-one in the UK. It looked like things were improving for them. Then Honey Be Good reached fifty-four in the UK. However, when The Bible released their third album Dodo, it failed to chart. Things were set to get even worse.

A year later, and The Bible split-up in 1990. After five years together, and a lineup that’s best described as fluid, it looked like the end of the road for The Bible. It wasn’t.

Since then, The Bible have reformed twice. The first time came in 1994, and the second in 2011. However, then Boo Hewerdine was a successful solo artist.

Boo Hewerdine and Darden Smith-Evidence.

Once The Bible split-up, Boo Hewerdine decided to concentrate on his solo career. He knew the direction his career was heading. A meeting a year earlier had influenced the direction his music was about to head in.

This meeting took place in 1989, while The Bible were still together. That was when an A&R executive introduced him to New Country singer Darden Smith. The two realising they had much in common, decided to write and record an album together. Time was short though.

Somehow, Darden Smith and Boo Hewerdine managed to write and record an album in just nine days. This album became Evidence, which was released to critical acclaim in 1989. This was the first, but not the last time Boo would collaborate with other artists. By then, he would be a solo.

The Solo Years.

Now that The Bible had split-up, Boo Hewerdine embarked upon a solo career. This solo career began in 1990. Since then, Boo has released a string of E.P.s. and will soon release his ninth album Swimming In Mercury.

Two years after the demise of The Bible, Boo Hewerdine released his debut album Ignorance in 1992. Critical acclaim accompanied the release Ignorance. It was a much anticipated  and highly accomplished album of carefully crafted songs. However, three years would pass before the followup was released.

The reason for the delay, was that by then, Boo Hewerdine was writing for other artists. This included writing for Eddi Reader and Clive Gregson’s 1993 album Wonderful Lie. Since then, Boo has written songs for many successful artists, including KD Lang, Kris Drever, David McAlmont, Natalie Imbruglia and Alex Parks. However, this sometimes curtailed his ability to release albums quickly.

It wasn’t until 1995 that Boo Hewerdine returned with his sophomore album Worlds End. Just like Ignorance, praise and plaudits accompanied the release of World’s End. Buoyed by the response and success of World’s End, Boo released Baptist Hospital in 1996. Some critics felt that was the best album of Boo’s career. With album he seemed to be maturing and growing as a singer and songwriter. Like a fine wine, Boo was maturing with age.

So when Nick Hornby was looking for someone to write the soundtrack to the film adaptation of his book Fever Pitch, Boo got the call. The film was released in 1997, the same year that the film Twenty Four Seven was released. Boo and Neil MacColl had written the soundtrack. The other soundtrack that Boo penned for the television film Our Boy. For Boo, writing for film and television was a whole new world, and one he would return to later. Before that, Boo released a new solo album. 

Three years had passed since Boo Hewerdine had released Baptist Hospital in 1996. He returned in 1999 with his fourth album Thanksgiving. It featured a guest appearance by Martha Wainwright. By then, Boo’s music was reaching a wider audience. That wasn’t surprising given the quality of songs on Thanksgiving. The Birds Are Leaving, Hope Is A Name, Our Boy, Homesick Son and A Long Winter showcased a talented singer, songwriter and storyteller. However, in 2002, Boo added another string to his bow.

This came about when Boo Hewerdine was asked to co-produce Eddie Reader’s album Angels and Electricity. Boo had written a number of songs for Eddi, but was now co-producing her albums. Soon, Boo was producing The Corrs, Heidi Talbot and Chris Difford. Along with his work as a songwriter, Boo was constantly busy. Sometimes, his solo career seemed to take a backseat. However, in 2001, Boo’s contribution to music was recognised. 

In 2001, Boo Hewerdine was named as  the Performing Rights Society’s songwriter in residence at The Song’s The Thing concert series in London. Boo had come a long way from when he was working in a record shop warehouse and about to form his first band. Now he was regarded as one of Britain’s top songwriters. He took to the stage during one of The Song’s The Thing concerts, and got the opportunity to showcase his skills as a singer and a songwriter. However, another opportunity for Boo to showcase his songwriting skills arose during 2001.

This came when Boo returned to the world of soundtracks. One of his songs featured in Christine Lahti‘s My First Mister. For Boo, this meant a whole new audience would hear his music. This couldn’t have happened at a better time, as Boo would released a new album in 2002.

Anon, which was released in 2002, was Boo Hewerdine’s first album of the new millennia. By then, Boo’s star was in the ascendancy. It seemed that every album he released was welcomed with open arms by admiring critics. His new album Anon was no different. Boo was consistently releasing albums of carefully crafted, thought provoking songs. That continued to be the case. 

When Eddi Reader entered the studio to record her  critically acclaimed album Sings The Songs Of Robert Burns, Boo Hewerdine was drafted in to co-produce the album. The result was one of the most successful albums of Eddi Reader’s career. It found favour with Burns aficionados across the world. Buoyed by the success of Sings The Songs Of Robert Burns. 2003 had been a good year for Boo.

It got even better when Boo’s song Different God was chosen to feature on the soundtrack to the film Intermission. After such a successful year, Boo’s thoughts began to turn to his solo career.

Two years later, and Boo Hewerdine returned with a new album in 2005. This was his sixth album, Harmonograph. Boo it seemed had the Midas touch, and critics heaped praise on Harmonograph. However, Boo it seemed, was in no rush to release a followup.

That wasn’t surprising. Boo Hewerdine now spending more time writing songs for other artists. He was also in demand as a producer. He also recorded a comeback album with The Bible. Money and Time was released in 2007. However, Boo hadn’t turned his back on his solo career.

Still, though, he found time to play live, and when he had the time, headed into the studio. The fruits of his most recent sessions were his seventh album God Bless The Pretty Things. It was released in 2009, and just like the albums the had preceded it, was well received by the critics. They lavished praise on God Bless the Pretty Things, which was a welcome, and some felt overdue addition to Boo’s back-catalogue.

Little did they realise it would be six years before Boo Hewerdine released another album. During that period featured on State Of The Union’s two albums. He wrote much of their eponymous debut album and shared the lead vocals with Brook Williams. This was the case when State Of The Union released their 2012 sophomore album Snake Oil. These albums weren’t the only albums Boo worked on.

When Kris Drever was recording his solo album Last Man Standing, Boo featured on the album. Last Man Standing was released in 2015, the same year that Boo released his long-awaited comeback album.

Open was released in 2015, and found Boo Hewerdine crowned the comeback King. He may have been six years since his last solo album, but the fifty-three year old’s comeback album had been well worth the wait. Critical acclaim accompanied the release of Open. However, Boo’s fans wondered when they would hear from Boo again? 

Born E.P.

Little did they realise it would be so soon. Just a year later, in 2016, Boo Hewerdine returned with  The Born E.P. This the first E.P. that Boo has released since Toy Box No. 2  in 2008. However, the Born E.P. was a very personal collection of songs. It was a collaboration between Boo Hewerdine and his son Ben. They penned five songs, including The Year I Was Born and Swimming In Mercury. They were a tantalising taste of what was in store on Boo Hewerdine’s ninth album Swimming In Mercury. 

Swimming In Mercury. 

Boo Hewerdine made his recording debut thirty-five years ago with The Great Divide. Four decades later, and Boo Hewerdine is regarded as one Britain’s leading singer-songwriters. He will release his much anticipated solo album Swimming In Mercury on Reveal Records on ‘28th’ 2017. It’s a very personal, insightful and autobiographical album, with Boo Hewerdine reflecting on the past on Swimming In Mercury. There’s been much for Boo Hewerdine to reflect on during the past four decades. 

While The Born E.P. was a akin to a musical amuse bouche, Swimming In Mercury was the entree. It featured twelve new songs. Most of these songs were penned by Boo Hewerdine. That is apart from Swimming in Mercury which Boo and Ben Hewerdine cowrote. These twelve songs would eventually become Swimming in Mercury, which was recorded at Chris Pepper’s studio in Cambridge.

Given Swimming in Mercury was an album of autobiographical music and memories, Boo Hewerdine decided to record the album in a very different way to recent albums. He recalls: “the new album was recorded in the spirit of the first four track recording I ever did… but instead of a chunky cassette deck we were able to use Chris Pepper’s Cambridge studio. It was an incredibly enjoyable and creative way to work. Often I would write a song in the morning and by the end of the day we would have another track done”. This was a very different approach to how most albums are recorded nowadays.

In most studios, a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), like Pro Tools or Logic is at the heart of most studios. They allow artists to use an unlimited amount of tracks. As a result, often 100-200 tracks are used to record a track. Not when Boo Hewerdine recorded Swimming in Mercury. He restricted himself to just four tracks. Still though, he was able to get his message across on Swimming in Mercury as he reflects on this past on what’s a very personal and  autobiographical album.

Satellite Town opens Swimming In Mercury. Stabs of a buzzing synth and organ usher in Boo’s vocal as memories come flooding back, of the life he once knew and lived. As he remembers his younger self, he sings “I live in a Satellite Town and I don’t mind,” harmonies, drums and synths are part of the carefully crafted arrangement. Soon, it floats dreamily along a bass and braying saxophone combining with a shimmering guitar. After a refrain of the introduction as Boo remembers: “and on the morning I said goodbye, nobody asked me why?” By then the arrangement is melodic, full of poppy hooks and has a narrative that paints pictures like The Beatles’ A Day In The Life. Later, the understated arrangement skips along, the rhythm section and glistening guitars accompanying Boo’s tender, thoughtful vocal, before a wash of feedback brings this irresistible and radio friendly track to crescendo.

Drums reverberate on A Letter To My Younger Self as lo-fi keyboards usher in Boo’s vocal. Meanwhile, the bass and guitar join the arrangement as Boo reflects on what he would tell his younger self? “Let somebody love you” is the answer. Soon, a saxophone and punchy harmonies joins the carefully which continues to build. Later, when the vocal drops out, an ascending keyboard line adds to the energy of this melodic and hook laden song.

My First Band is another song where Boo reflects on the past. A tack piano is played urgently before the rhythm section and guitar set the scene for Boo’s vocal. He remembers” :broken strings and cheap guitars, rehearsal rooms and beat-up cars.” Despite this: “nothing beats My First Band.” Meanwhile, cooing, Beatles-esque harmonies, and later scorching guitar solo are added as Boo remembers and pays homage to “My First Band.”

Boo replicates the sound of an American TV show during the introduction. It gives way to oo’s vocal on this ballad, and soon, he’s reminiscing about “monochrome” Britain of the sixties, and California; “the American dream where the colours are so much brighter.” Meanwhile, a piano, rhythm section, acoustic guitar and Beach Boys influenced harmonies accompany, and compliment, Boo’s vocal as the memories come flooding back. He remembers how: “the colours were much brighter, California was a dream, a place I saw on American TV, back when I was a boy.” When Boo’s vocal drops out, wistful harmonies provide a backdrop before his vocal returns and the arrangement builds and reaches memorable and melodic crescendo.

A clock chimes on Sleep, which Boo sings along to. Soon, the rhythm section and guitar play slowly and accompany Boo’s tender vocal as the arrangement flows along. Tender harmonies, keyboards and guitar accompany as Boo reflects: “life is a dream, and we dream our lives away” Later, Boo from the moment we are all born we’re marathon dancers who sway until dawn, until the music is done, everyone has to sleep.” By then, the arrangement waltzes thoughtfully along, as a ruminative Boo continues to reflect on life.

A horn plays while drums pound urgently and a guitar glistens on Gemini. Soon, the arrangement builds and takes on a celebratory sound. It provides the backdrop for a joyous Boo whose found the ‘one’ he’s spent a lifetime searching for. “Gemini I know you think I’m mad, you were once in a dream I once had.” Bells ring, a horns sound and the drums march the arrangement along. Later, a searing guitar and lush strings are added to the celebratory sounding arrangement. They’re part of a hook-laden and joyous song from a musical master craftsman.

The Boy Who Never Cried Wolf finds Boo remembering his school days, against a backdrop where a bubbling synth combines with percussion. This allows Boo’s vocal to take centre-stage, as he sings about doing what it took to fit it in. In Boo’s case; “I knew how to make them laugh, I was a holy fool. Ruefully, Boo reflects: “ I never told them the truth, I was The Boy Who Never Cried Wolf.” Meanwhile, the arrangement  builds and frames Boo’s vocal. When his vocal drops out, a guitar replaces it. Still the bubbling synth provides the heartbeat to another autobiographical song.

A drum pounds, as if replicating a heartbeat. It sets the scene for Boo’s piano. Soon, he’s delivering a tender, thoughtful vocal, as he reflects upon 1962, “The Year That I Was Born.” He sings of the Cold War, the Berlin Wall, President “Kennedy’s first State Of The Union Speech” and an uncertain future. Briefly, a bass synth pulsates, adding an element of drama. By then, Boo reflects upon “the trial in Jerusalem” and later, “the death of (Ernest) Hemingway.” Uncertainty and sadness it seems, are omnipresent as Boo’s vocal takes centre-stage. Meanwhile, the piano and synth play supporting roles. Later, Boo sings of “The Beatles in The Cavern, the cellar full of noise, all the post war girls and boys, in a world that might that explode.” Boo’s vocal is impassioned and heartfelt, before a vortex of ethereal, celestial sounds sit above the arrangement. Later, wonderment and hope join the uncertainty in what’s a beautiful, reflective song.

Just like several songs on Swimming In Mercury, there’s a Beatles influence to Drinking Alone. It’s the choice of instruments used, the way they’re combined and the cinematic lyrics and vocal. Before that, the bass and guitars combine to provide the perfect backdrop for Boo, who delivers a weary vocal: “it’s only now and then that you head for oblivion, shipwrecked in a bottle again, Drinking Alone”. Later, when the vocal drops out, the strolling arrangement becomes wistful when trad jazz clarinets joins the guitars, bass and piano. Soon, a rueful Boo sings: “it makes you want to laugh out loud, as you think of that old crowd.” They’re just one of the costs of “Drinking Alone,” in this poignant and powerful song about someone who climbed into a bottle and sadly, can’t escape.

Just a piano accompanies Boo on An Atheist In A Foxhole. It’s another poignant and ironic song. Like many people who call themselves an atheist, when they face a crisis in their life, they’re on their knees praying. They become hypocrites who through fear and desperation, embrace religion. Literally, it’s any port in a storm. This becomes apparent with the line: “if I had a rosary, I would turn it in my hand.” Meanwhile, strings sit above the piano before a guitar shimmers and glisten. Deep down, though Boo knows that there’s no one there to hear my call.”

Voice Behind The Curtain is a reminder that for a singer like Boo, the show must go on. It doesn’t matter if “his heart is hurting, hear you go again, stand in the spotlight taking what is yours.” They may receive applause, but deep down, their life can be a mess. However, onstage it’s a case of business as usual. Meanwhile, a guita, piano and later wistful strings accompany Boo on a song where he reflects on life as a modern day troubadour, in another carefully crafted song.

The introduction to Swimming in Mercury, which closes the album is almost jaunty. Just a piano accompanies Boo’s vocal as he sings: “I was a boy growing in up in suburbia, you showed the future to me, skinny and pale, Swimming in Mercury.” By then, Boo has been transported back in time, as he delivers a tender, wistful vocal. He remembers: “we didn’t care, we went everywhere, Swimming in Mercury.” When Boo’s vocal drops out, the piano ensures the spartan arrangement seems to waltz along, all the time, painting pictures.

Two years after the release of his last album Open, one of Britain’s finest troubadours Boo Hewerdine, makes a welcome return with the ninth album of his career Swimming In Mercury. It will be released on Reveal Records on ‘28th’ April 2017. It’s without doubt the finest albums of Boo Hewerdine’s long and illustrious career.

Swimming In Mercury finds Boo Hewerdine in a reflective mood, as he looks back on his life and career so far on this carefully crafted autobiographical album. It features twelve songs, which range from ballads to uptempo tracks. The hooks certainly haven’t been spared by Boo Hewerdine on Swimming In Mercury.  

Some of the songs on Swimming In Mercury are beautiful, joyous, melodic, memorable  poignant, powerful and thought-provoking. Others are melancholy and ruminative, and invite reflection about the subject matter. Many of the songs on Swimming In Mercury are cinematic, as Boo paints pictures with the lyrics on what’s an autobiographical album from one of Britain’s greatest singer-songwriter. 

For newcomers to Boo Hewerdine’s music, Swimming In Mercury is the perfect introduction to his burgeoning back-catalogue. Veterans of Boo Hewerdine’s music will embrace what is without doubt his finest album. Incredibly, it was recorded using just a four channels. Despite this self-imposed restriction, Swimming In Mercury is the work of a true musical master craftsman at the peak of his powers as Boo Hewerdine reflects upon his life and career on this autobiographical opus.

Boo Hewerdine-Swimming In Mercury.

IAN MATTHEWS-VALLEY HI AND SOME DAYS YOU EAT THE BEAR…SOME DAYS THE BEAR EATS YOU.

Ian Matthews-Valley Hi and Some Days You Eat The Bear… Some Days The Bear Eats You.

Having completed recording of Journeys From Gospel Oak, Ian Matthews had discharged his contractual obligations to Vertigo. Journeys From Gospel Oak was the third and final album he owed Vertigo. This left Ian Matthews free to sign a two album deal with  Elektra Records. For Ian Matthews this was the start of a new chapter in his career.

Not only was Ian Matthews signing to a new record label, but he and his family had decided to move to Los Angeles. That was where Ian Matthews would record his next album Valley Hi, with producer Michael Nesmith. Valley Hi and the followup Some Days You Eat The Bear…Some Days The Bear Eats You, were recently remastered and reissued by BGO Records, and are a reminder of Ian Matthews’ Elektra Records’ years.

Valley Hi.

Once Ian Matthews had settled in Los Angeles, work began on his Elektra Records debut, Valley Hi. This was a dream come true for the twenty-four year old singer, songwriter and musician. He was about to record an album in LA, which was something Ian Matthews had dreamt about. Now that dream was about to become a reality. It had been a long time coming

The discussions about the album, and who was going to produce it, began before Journeys From Gospel Oak was recorded. When it came to choosing a producer, Electra Records’ founder Jac Holzman had suggested that Ian Matthews talk to Michael Nesmith. 

He had embarked upon a solo career after leaving The Monkees, but was also a successful songwriter and budding producer. At Jac Holzman’s suggestion, Ian Matthews flew from Britain to LA to meet Michael Nesmith, and talk about recording an album together. The talks lasted two weeks, with Michael Nesmith agreeing to produce Ian Matthews’ Elektra Records’ debut Valley Hi.

For Valley Hi, Ian Matthews decided to record an album of  new songs and cover versions. This included three songs that Ian Matthews had penned, Keep On Sailing, Leaving Alone and Save Your Sorrows. Ian Matthews decided to cover one of Michael Nesmith’s songs Propinquity. The other six songs included the traditional song Old Man At The Mill, Richard Thompson’s Shady Lies, Jackson Browne’s These Days, Steve Young’s Seven Bridges Road, Randy Newman’s What Are You Waiting For and Don Gibson’s Blue Blue Day. These ten tracks would become Valley, which was recorded in LA with some top musicians.

Recording of Valley Hi took place at The Countryside Studio, in Los Angeles. Producer Michael Nesmith was assisted by engineer Fritz Richmond. They were joined by a band that had been hand picked to record an album of country rock. This included a rhythm section that featured drummer Danny Lane, bassist and fiddler Billy Graham and guitarists Jay Lacy, Bobby Warford and Michael Nesmith. They were augmented by keyboardist David Barry and O.J. Red Rhodes on pedal steel and dobro. This all-star band accompanied Ian Matthews, who played guitar and laid down the vocals on Valley Hi. Once it was completed, Ian Matthews’ Elektra Records’ debut was released in the summer of 1973.

Before the release of Valley Hi, critics had their say on the album. It found favour with critics, who hailed the album a country rock masterpiece.

That was no exaggeration. Valley Hi was a strong and cohesive album that showcased Ian Matthews’ talents as a songwriter and showcased his versatility as a singer. That’s the case from the opening bars of the Ian Matthews’ composition Keep On Sailin’ right through to the closing notes of Don Gibson’s Nashville classic Blue Blue Day. They’re just two of the highlights of Valley Hi and feature two sides to Ian Matthews. 

He’s equally comfortable interpreting urban and rural songs. Sometimes he stays true to the original, like on his rueful cover of Jackson Browne’s These Days, while he takes Randy Newman’s What Are You Waiting For in a new direction. Always though, he breathes life, meaning and emotion into each and every song. Especially on Shady Lies and Leaving Alone which are perfect for Ian Matthews’ interpretative style. It’s as if Ian Matthews has lived and survived the lyrics. However, one of the most melodic and beautiful songs on Valley Hi was Seven Bridges Road. Valley Hi was a country rock classic in waiting, that oozed quality, and had the potential to transform Ian Matthews’ fortunes in America.

When Valley Hi was released in the summer of 1973, the album failed to find an audience. For Ian Matthews, producer Michael Nesmith and everyone at Elektra Records, this was a huge disappointment. Especially given the quality of music on Valley Hi, which nowadays, is regarded as one of the hidden gems on Ian Matthews back-catalogue.

Despite the disappointment, Ian Matthews returned to the studio in late 1973 to record his second album for Elektra Records Days You Eat The Bear…Some Days The Bear Eats You.

Days You Eat The Bear…Some Days The Bear Eats You.

Not long after the release of Valley Hi, Ian Matthews began work on the followup album Days You Eat The Bear…Some Days The Bear Eats You. Ian Matthews wrote four new songs, A Wailing Goodbye, Keep On Saying, Home and The Fault. They were augmented by six cover versions. This included Tom Waits’ Ol’ ’55, Danny Whitten’s I Don’t Wanna Talk About It and Gene Clark’s Tried So Hard. They were joined by Donald Fagen and Walter Becker’s Dirty Work, Pete Dello’s Do I Still Figure in Your Life and Jesse Winchester’s Biloxi. These songs were recorded at one of LA’s top studios in late 1973.

Elektra Sound Recorders was booked for the recording Days You Eat The Bear…Some Days The Bear Eats You. The session began on the ‘3rd’ December 1973, but there was no sign of producer Michael Nesmith. This time around, Ian Matthews decided to produce the album himself. Still though, he was joined by some top musicians.

It was essentially an all-star band that joined Ian Matthews at Elektra Sound Recorders. The rhythm section included drummer Willie Leacox, bassist David Dicke and guitarist Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter who played electric, acoustic and pedal steel. David Lindley played lap steel guitar, while Danny Weis and Steve Gillette acoustic guitar. They were joined by pedal steel guitarist B.J. Coles, saxophonist Lyn Dobson pianist Michael Fonfars, pianist and organist David Barry, fiddler Richard Green and Richard Curtis on mandolin.  Ian Matthews played guitar, added lead vocals and took charge of production. By the ‘10th’ of January 1974, Days You Eat The Bear…Some Days The Bear Eats You was complete. Now it was ready for release.

Before that, critics had their say on Days You Eat The Bear…Some Days The Bear Eats You. They were greeted by carefully crafted album that was quite different from Valley Hi. 

Ian Matthews moved away from country rock on Days You Eat The Bear…Some Days The Bear Eats You, and switched between the LA country sound, the West Coast Sound and soft rock. The music was slick, polished and radio friendly. That was no surprise, given the personnel that played on the album. They provided the perfect accompaniment for Ian Matthews. Especially on his rueful cover of Tom Waits’ Ol’ 55, and soul-baring covers of I Don’t Wanna Talk About It and Tried So Hard. There was also a cover of Steely Dan’s Dirty Work, where Ian Matthews and his all-star band stay true to the carefully crafted original. Then on Wailing Goodbye, Keep On Sailing and Home Ian Matthews’ showcased his talents as a singer and songwriter. However, he had kept one of his finest songs until last. The melodic and memorable strains of The Fault closedDays You Eat The Bear…Some Days The Bear Eats You. 

When Days You Eat The Bear…Some Days The Bear Eats You was released in 1974, the album was bang on trend. However, just like Valley Hi, the album failed to trouble the charts. Given the quality of music on Days You Eat The Bear…Some Days The Bear Eats YouYou this was a huge disappointment for everyone involved.

For Ian Matthews, this was the end of the Elektra Records’ years. When his two album deal expired, it wasn’t renewed. So Ian Matthews signed to Columbia Records. While the Elektra Records’ years weren’t the most successful years of Ian Matthews recording career, he released two albums that ooze quality.

The first of these albums was Ian Matthews’ oft-overlooked 1973 country rock masterpiece, Valley Hi. It was followed up by Days You Eat The Bear…Some Days The Bear Eats You where Ian Matthews reinvents himself and switches between the LA country sound, soft rock and the West Coast Sound. It was a carefully crafted album that featured slick, radio-friendly music. Despite its undoubted quality, Days You Eat The Bear…Some Days The Bear Eats You failed to find an audience. For Ian Matthews, these two albums were the ones that got away.

Forty-three years after Ian Matthews left Elektra Records, BGO Records have remastered and reissued Valley Hi and Days You Eat The Bear…Some Days The Bear Eats You. Both album ooze quality and are a reminder of what was an oft-overlooked period in Ian Matthews’ career, the Elektra Records’ years.

Ian Matthews-Valley Hi and Days You Eat The Bear…Some Days The Bear Eats You.

JÓHANN JÓHANNSSON-30 YEARS MAKING MUSIC

Jóhann Jóhannsson-30 Years Making Music.

It was whilst studying languages and literature at university in Reykjavík, that Jóhann Jóhannsson’s musical career began. He was just eighteen when he joined his first indie rock band in 1987. Over the next few years, Jóhann Jóhannsson played with several indie rock bands in Reykjavík’s vibrant and thriving music scene. Little did Jóhann Jóhannsson realise that this was the start of a long and successful musical career.

Eventually, Jóhann Jóhannsson would become known worldwide as a composer, multi-instrumentalist and producer. This didn’t happen overnight. 

Jóhann Jóhannsson was twenty-seven when he wrote the music to Kristín Ómarsdóttir’s play Margrét Mikla. This was a breakthrough for Jóhann Jóhannsson. He would go on to write the music for film, television, theatre and dance. This included the television program Corpus Camera in 1999. The same year, Jóhann Jóhannsson cofounded a think tank in 1999.

Thirty year old Jóhann Jóhannsson was one of the cofounders of the Kitchen Motors think tank. It was a both an arts organisation and record label. Kitchen Motors also encouraged artists from different disciplines to collaborate. This meant jazz and classical musicians could collaborate with electronic and even punk musicians. For Jóhann Jóhannsson these musical experiments would influence his future career.

As the new millennia dawned, Jóhann Jóhannsson’s career began to take. Between 2000 and 2002, he wrote eleven soundtracks. This included everything from feature films to television programs and plays to contemporary dance. It was one of the busiest periods of Jóhann Jóhannsson’s career. Despite this, he found time to release his debut album Englabörn in 2002.

This was the start of another chapter of Jóhann Jóhannsson’s career. He was working on a variety of different projects. One of the them, was writing and recording the soundtrack to Tim Shore’s short film Keepsake. It was released in Britain in 2003, and was the first project Jóhann Jóhannsson worked on outside of his native Iceland. For Jóhann Jóhannsson this was an important project.

Following Keepsake, Jóhann Jóhannsson managed to juggle his solo career while writing for film, television, theatre and dance. He released his sophomore album Virðulegu Forsetar in 2004. After this, Jóhann Jóhannsson began working on what was another first for him.

He had never before written and recorded a soundtrack album. Dí­s which was released in May 2005 was a first. This may have been the first, but wasn’t the last soundtrack album Jóhann Jóhannsson would write and record. Not when his star was in the ascendancy.

That was the case with Jóhann Jóhannsson’s solo career. After just two solo albums, he was signed to British independent label, 4AD. They released Jóhann Jóhannsson third album BM 1401, A User’s Manual in September 2006. It was lauded as an innovative album from what critics were calling a rising star of Icelandic music. Little did the critics realise that Jóhann Jóhannsson had spent seven years working long and hard to establish himself in his native Iceland. This was beginning to pay off as his music found an audience outside of Iceland.

Still though, the majority of the music Jóhann Jóhannsson was composing for film, television, theatre and dance was for being used within Iceland. That would change during 2008.

Jóhann Jóhannsson had written the score to Marc Craste’s short film Varmints. It was released in 2008, and was well received by critics and cultural commentators. So much so, that later in 2008, Varmints won the award for the Best Original Score at the Rhode International Film Festival and  Sapporo Short Film International Film Festival. Buoyed by this success, Jóhann Jóhannsson scheduled the release of his new album for the autumn 2008.

On 31st October 2008, Jóhann Jóhannsson released Fordlandia. This was meant to be the second part in a trilogy about he technology and industrial archeology. Just like the first instalment, A User’s Manual, Fordlandia was released to critical acclaim. For Jóhann Jóhannsson this was the perfect way to round off what had been one of the most successful years of his career.

After the success of Fordlandia, Jóhann Jóhannsson decided to release an album of music that featured on the award winning short film Varmints. This became And In The Endless Pause There Came The Sound Of Bees. It was released on the 11th December 2009, and is captivating, beautiful and haunting fusion of electronics and orchestral music. For Jóhann Jóhannsson the Varmints would open doors to other soundtrack work. 

Before that, Jóhann Jóhannsson returned with a new solo album, The Miners’ Hymns on the 15th September 2011. The album had been recorded in Durham Cathedral, England and accompanied American filmmaker Bill Morrison’s film The Miners’ Hymns. This wasn’t the only film Jóhann Jóhannsson was working on.

Jóhann Jóhannsson had been busy on a variety of projects. He continued to juggle a myriad of disparate projects. Many of them came to fruition during 2012, with one bringing another award the way of Jóhann Jóhannsson.

During 2012, several films featuring a soundtrack that was written, recorded and produced by Jóhann Jóhannsson were released. This included Free The Mind and Copenhagen Dreams. Jóhann Jóhannsson was responsible for the soundtrack to a quartet of feature films, including So Yong Kim’s For Ellen, Phie Ambo’s Free The Mind, Camilla Magid’s White Black Bo and Lou Ye’s Mystery. It was Mystery that won Jóhann Jóhannsson the award for the Best Original Score at Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival Awards. 2012 had been one of the most productive and successful years of Jóhann Jóhannsson’s career. 

It wasn’t going to be easy to surpass the success of 2012. That was despite Jóhann Jóhannsson’s soundtrack to Prisoners receiving praise and plaudits during 2013. However, when Jóhann Jóhannsson was asked to write, record and produce the soundtrack to The Theory of Everything, that proved to be a game-changer.

Jóhann Jóhannsson’s soundtrack to The Theory of Everything was nominated for some of the most prestigious awards. This included an Academy Award for Best Original Score, BAFTA Award for Best Film Music and Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media. The other award The Theory of Everything was nominated for during 2014 was the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score.  Suddenly, his name was all over the televisions and press. Everyone seemed to know the name Jóhann Jóhannsson. It was a far cry from when he was playing in indie rock bands during his university days in Reykjavík.

After his success with the soundtrack to The Theory of Everything, Jóhann Jóhannsson returned in 2015 with  another soundtrack. Sicario was released on the 18th September 2015 and soon, was being nominated for some of the most prestigious awards. This included the Academy Award for Best Original Score and the BAFTA Award for Best Film Music. Alas, this time, Jóhann Jóhannsson was out of luck. Despite this he released a new album later in 2015.

Jóhann Jóhannsson released his new album End of Summer in December 2015. It was a collaboration with Hildur Guðnadóttir and Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe that documented Jóhann Jóhannsson’s journey to the Antarctic Peninsula. During that journey, he discovered tranquil scenery and watched how the landscape changed with the seasons. On his return home, Jóhann Jóhannsson sculpted an album of soundscapes that documented what had been a truly memorable and life affirming journey and experience. They became End Of Summer, the latest addition to his burgeoning discography.

The next addition was the soundtrack to the psychological science fiction film Arrival. It was premiered at the Vienna Film Festival on September the 1st 2016. Just over two months later, Arrival was released on the 11th of November 2016. Since then, it’s been nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score. By then, Jóhann Jóhannsson had released a new solo album Orphée, on Deutsche Grammophon.

On Orphée, Jóhann Jóhannsson’s attention turns to the beauty and the process of creation. Orphée features Jóhann Jóhannsson tracing a path from darkness into light. Inspiration for Orphée comes from the opéra bouffe Orphée aux enfers (Orpheus in the Underworld). It was written by Ludovic Halévy, and later, revised by Hector-Jonathan Crémieux. The score was written by Jacques Offenbach and became the first full length operetta. Its first performance came in 1858. Since then, this ancient and famous tale has been retold countess times. 

Orphée found Jóhann Jóhannsson at his most inventive as he constantly pushes musical boundaries to their limits, and sometimes way beyond. The result was an ambitious, genre-melting and career defining album from a true musical innovator. He was following in the footsteps of many  illustrious names by retelling the story of Orpheus. That was fitting.

Everyone from Ovid to Jean Cocteau have told the story of the legendary Greek musician, poet and prophet Orpheus. His story is one of death, rebirth, change and the transient nature of memory. For some, the story of Orpheus is also one about artistic creation, and the elusive nature of beauty. Especially beauty’s relationship with an artist. Another part of the story of  Orpheus is when he’s about to leave the underworld, he turns back to rescue his wife Eurydice. This lead to the theory, that art is created through transgression. That has been the case with many artists, including Jóhann Jóhannsson.

Throughout his long and illustrious career, Jóhann Jóhannsson has not been afraid to transgress musical rules and norms. This is something many musicians are afraid to do. Especially those without a formal musical education. They’re unsure when it’s possible to break musical rules. Jóhann Jóhannsson, who is a talented multi-instrumentalist does, and has been since releasing his debut album. 

Ever since, Jóhann Jóhannsson has transgressed musical rules. This includes combining disparate musical genres, including some that aren’t natural bedfellows. A good example of this was BM 1401, A User’s Manual where Jóhann Jóhannsson combined a sixty-piece string quartet with electronics alongside the original tape recordings of IBM’s singing computer. The result was what was without doubt, a truly ambitious  and groundbreaking album. Since then, Jóhann Jóhannsson has continued to release ambitious albums. That was the case on his most recent album, Orphée.

It’s just the latest chapter in Jóhann Jóhannsson’s  long and illustrious musical career,  which began thirty years ago, when he was a student in  Reykjavík.  Little did he realise when he joined his first indie band that this was the start of a musical journey that would last thirty years. Since then, Jóhann Jóhannsson has became  one of Icelandic music’s most successful composers, musicians and producers, and has spent thirty years  making  music that’s ambitious, inventive and innovative. 

Jóhann Jóhannsson-30 Years Making Music.

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EMERSON, LAKE AND PALMER-1971-1974: THE GLORY YEARS.

Emerson, Lake and Palmer-1971-1974: The Glory Years.

Nowadays, the seventies are regarded as a golden age for rock music. Especially progressive rock. One of the giants of British progressive rock were Emerson, Lake and Palmer. They were formed in 1970, and went on to enjoy commercial success and critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic. That was the case right up until Emerson, Lake and Palmer split-up in 1979.

By then, Emerson, Lake and Palmer had amassed nine consecutive gold discs in America. Just like Led Zeppelin and Jethro Tull, Emerson, Lake and Palmer were more popular in America, than they were in Britain.

In Britain, two of Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s albums were certified gold, while another was certified silver. Emerson, Lake and Palmer were just the latest band to be under appreciated in their home country.  That was a great shame.

Emerson, Lake and Palmer were undoubtably, one of the most ambitious and innovative of the British progressive rock bands. They released seven groundbreaking studio albums and two live albums where they pushed musical boundaries to their limits.  However,  Emerson, Lake and Palmer released some of the best music of their career between 1970 and 1974. For  Emerson, Lake and Palmer, this proved to be their glory years.

The Emerson, Lake and Palmer story began back in in 1970. That was when Keith Emerson and Greg Lake first met at the Filimore West, in San Francisco. Both of them were at a musical crossroads. Keith was a member of The Nice, while Greg Lake was a member of King Crimson. Nether Keith nor Greg felt fulfilled musically. So, the decided to form a new band. 

This new band would feature Keith on keyboards, Greg on bass and a drummer. Their first choice for a drummer was Mitch Mitchell, who was without a band, after The Jimi Hendrix Experience split-up. They agreed to jam together. Then the music press heard about this jam session. 

Rumours started doing the rounds that Jimi Hendrix was going to join this new supergroup. That put an end to the jam session. It never took place. Jimi Hendrix had never been asked to join the supergroup. Mitch Mitchell meanwhile, lost interest in the project. This presented a problem. Keith and Greg still didn’t have a drummer. Then Robert Stigwood, who was then the manager of Cream, suggested Carl Palmer’s name.

Carl Palmer was another experienced musician. He’d previously been a member of The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown. At that time, he was a member of Atomic Rooster. So Carl was approached. He was, at first, reluctant to leave Atomic Rooster, which he’d cofounded. However, when he spoke to Keith and Greg he realised that he could be part of something special. 

Having left Atomic Rooster, he became the third member of the newly formed supergroup Emerson, Lake and Palmer. They made their debut at The Guildhall, Plymouth, on 23rd August 1970. Then on 26th August 1970, Emerson, Lake and Palmer stole the show at the Isle Of Wight Festival. This resulted in Emerson, Lake and Palmer being offered a recording contract by Atlantic Records.

Ahmet Ertegün the President of Atlantic Records realised the potential in Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Here was a band who wouldn’t just sell a huge amount of records, but could fill huge venues. So, not long after signing Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Ahmet Ertegün sent them into Advision Studios, London, where they recorded their eponymous debut album.

Emerson, Lake and Palmer.

At  Advision Studios, Emerson, Lake and Palmer recorded ten tracks. They became Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Although this was meant to be the birth of a supergroup, the ten tracks on Emerson, Lake and Palmer came across as a series of solo pieces. However, Emerson, Lake and Palmer were a new band, who’d just recorded an eclectic and innovative album.

Although many people refer to Emerson, Lake and Palmer as prog rock band, they’re much more than that. Their music is eclectic. They draw inspiration from a variety of sources on Emerson, Lake and Palmer.  This includes folk rock, jazz, psychedelia, rock and classical music. The classical influence is apparent on the opening track, The Barbarian and Knife Edge. Elsewhere,  Take A Pebble finds Emerson, Lake and Palmer heading in the direction of jazz, with folk guitar and improvisation playing a part in this band workout. The Three Fates was the first three part suite Emerson, Lake and Palmer wrote and recorded. However, Lucky Man, a folk rock ballad was one of the album’s highlights, and kept until last. It found Emerson, Lake and Palmer experimenting. 

This determination to experiment, is one of the reasons some of the music on Emerson, Lake and Palmer sounds futuristic. That’s in part to Keith Emerson’s use of the Moog synth. The result was a pioneering, innovative album that would launch Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s career.

When critics heard Emerson, Lake and Palmer, they hailed the album as innovative and influential. On its release  in the UK in October 1970,  Emerson, Lake and Palmer reached number four. Three months later, on New Year’s Day 1970, Emerson, Lake and Palmer was released in the US. It reached number eighteen in the US Billboard 200 and was certified gold. Ahmet Ertegün, the President of Atlantic Records had been vindicated. Emerson, Lake and Palmer were on their way to becoming rock royalty.

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 Tarkus.

It was a case of striking when the iron was hot for Emerson, Lake and Palmer. They returned to  Advision Studios, in London to record what became their sophomore album Tarkus. It was much more of a “band” album. Emerson, Lake and Palmer were now a tight, musical unit. This was very different from Emerson, Lake and Palmer, which was more like an album of solo pieces. Tarkus saw the birth of Emerson, Lake and Palmer as one of the giants of prog rock.

Tarkus was released in June 1971. That wasn’t originally the plan. Instead, Pictures At An Exhibition was meant to be Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s sophomore album. This was a live album which was recorded in March 1971. It saw Emerson, Lake and Palmer interpret Modest Mussorgsky’s opus Pictures At An Exhibition. it was a groundbreaking album. There was a problem though. Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s management didn’t agree. They weren’t sure that what essentially a interpretation of a classical suite was the direction Emerson, Lake and Palmer should be heading. So, Tarkus became the followup to Emerson, Lake and Palmer.

On its release in June 1971, critics realised that Tarkus marked a much more united Emerson, Lake and Palmer. They were well on the way to finding their trademark sound. Gone were ballads and jazz-tinged tracks. Instead, it was prog rock all the way. Record buyers loved Tarkus. It reached number one in the UK. Over the Atlantic, Tarkus reached number nine in the US Billboard 200 and was certified gold. Emerson, Lake and Palmer had released the best, and most successful album of  their career. That was why, following the commercial success of Tarkus, Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s were keen to release Pictures At An Exhibition later in 1971.

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Pictures At An Exhibition.

Three months before the release of Tarkus, Emerson, Lake and Palmer arrived at Newcastle City Hall, in Newcastle, England on the 26th March 1971. They were about to record their first live album, Pictures At An Exhibition. This was no ordinary live album.

Instead, Emerson, Lake and Palmer had decided to adapt Russian classical composer Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures At An Exhibition. This was one of the first times classical music had been adapted by a rock band.  That night in Newcastle, just four of the original ten pieces in Mussorgsky’s suite, along with the linking Promenade were recorded, They  were performed live as one continuous piece, with new parts written by Emerson, Lake and Palmer. These new parts linked Mussorgsky’s original themes, which Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s played with enthusiasm and energy. Despite this, Pictures At An Exhibition was nearly never released.

It seemed that Pictures At An Exhibition was fated. Problems with their management meant that Pictures At An Exhibition’s release was delayed.  It wouldn’t be until November 1971 the album was released. However, at one point it looked as if Pictures At An Exhibition wouldn’t be released. Atlantic Records were reluctant to release what was essentially a classical suite as an album. This they feared, wouldn’t sell well. So the project was put on the back burner, Suddenly, it looked unlikely that Pictures At An Exhibition would be released. That was until Tarkus was certified gold in America. All of a sudden, Atlantic had a change of heart,

Rather than release Pictures At An Exhibition on the main Atlantic label, a decision was made to release the album as a budget priced album. Atlantic Records it seemed were hedging their bets. That seemed a wise move when the reviews were mixed. Rolling Stone magazine was far from impressed with Pictures At An Exhibition. Neither was the self styled Dean of American Rock Critics, Robert Christgau, Despite this, Pictures At An Exhibition sold well.

When Pictures At An Exhibition was released in November 1971, it reached number three in the UK. In America, Pictures At An Exhibition reached number ten in the US Billboard 200. This resulted in Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s third consecutive gold album. Emerson, Lake and Palme were also one of the biggest selling progressive rock bands, and were about to enjoy release another successful album, Trilogy.

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 Trilogy.

Just like previous albums, Emerson, Lake and Palmer were determined to push musical boundaries on Trilogy, their third studio album. Just like their two previous albums, Trilogy was recorded at Advision Studios, London. Emerson, Lake and Palmer were at their innovative best, recording  progressive rock, but with a twist. 

An example of this was the inclusion of Abaddon’s Bolero on Trilogy. Rather than the usual 3/4 rhythm a Bolero would have, it was turned into a march by using a 4/4 rhythm. Emerson, Lake and Palmer also pioneered the beating heart sound on Trilogy. Pink Floyd would use it to such good effect on Dark Side Of The Moon. So would Jethro Tull on A Passion Play and Queen on Queen II. This sound was first heard on Endless Enigma Part One. It came courtesy of Carl Palmer’s Ludwig Speed King bass drum pedal. Once again, Emerson, Lake and Palmer were demonstrating that they were one of the most innovative progressive rock bands. Their efforts were rewarded.

On its release in July 1972, Trilogy reached number two in the US. As usual, Emerson, Lake and Palmer enjoyed more success in the US. Trilogy reached number five in the US Billboard 200. This resulted in another gold disc for Emerson, Lake and Palmer. In the space of just two years Emerson, Lake and Palmer were one of the most successful progressive rock bands, and were had  released what was their most ambitious album, Trilogy. They were in the middle of the hottest streak of their careers. Incredibly, though things were about to get better for Emerson, Lake and Palmer though.

Of the three previous studio albums Emerson, Lake and Palmer had recorded, they complex, innovative, genre-melting affairs. Emerson, Lake and Palmer embraced the latest technology in what seemed like their quest for musical perfection. They also made use of overdubbing. This made their music difficult to replicate live. The band always felt they came up short live. So Emerson, Lake and Palmer set about recording an album they could replicate accurately live. This was Brain Surgery Salad.

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Brian Surgery Salad.

Recording of Brian Surgery Salad took place between June and September 1973. Brain Salad Surgery was a fusion of prog rock and classical music. This is obvious straight away. 

Emerson, Lake and Palmer adapted  William Blake and Hubert Parry’s hymn Jerusalem and then Alberto Ginastera’s Toccata. Greg Lake wrote Still…You Turn Me On and then cowrote Benny The Bouncer and Karn Evil 9: 3rd Impression with Keith Emerson and Peter Sinfield, one of the founding members of King Crimson. Keith Emerson penned Karn Evil 9: 2nd Impression and cowrote Karn Evil 9: 1st Impression, Part 1 with Greg Lake also penned Karn Evil 9: 1st Impression, Part 1. These tracks were brought to life by Emerson, Lake and Palmer at their inventive best.

On Brain Salad Surgery, Keith Emerson played Hammond organ, piano, accordion and a myriad of synths. Greg Lake took charge of vocals, acoustic, electric, and twelve-string guitars. He also played bass guitar. Carl Palmer played drums, percussion, percussion synthesizers, gongs and timpani. Greg Lake produced Brian Surgery Salad, which was released in November 1973. Before that, critics had their say on Brian Surgery Salad,

Mostly, the reviews of Brain Salad Surgery were positive. However, the usual contrarian critics were’t as impressed. They seemed unwilling to recognise that Brain Salad Surgery was the finest hour of Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s four album career. Brian Surgery Salad featured Emerson, Lake and Palmer at their tightest and loudest. Here was a tight, visionary band fusing prog rock, jazz and classical music. It was an ambitious, powerhouse of an album. Emerson, Lake and Palmer were at the peak of their creative powers, and record buyers on both sides of the Atlantic realised this.

When Brain Salad Surgery, was released in November 1973, it became Emerson, Lake and Palmer most successful album. It reached number two in the UK and number eleven in the US Billboard 200. This resulted in two more gold discs to add to Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s collection. They were well deserved though.

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Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends-Ladies and Gentlemen.

After the release of Brain Salad Surgery, Emerson, Lake and Palmer embarked upon a lengthy and gruelling world tour. It began in November 1973, continued into the first half of September 1974. Night after night, Emerson, Lake and Palmer took to the stage and played a selection of songs from their first four studio albums. Some nights, the tapes were running and the concert was recorded. Emerson, Lake and Palmer were considering releasing another live album. It would be very different from Pictures At An Exhibition, which featured a selection of Modest Mussorgsky’s classic pieces.

This time around, Emerson, Lake and Palmer would get the opportunity to showcase their talents as songwriters. That hadn’t been the case on Pictures At An Exhibition. It would also allow record buyers to hear that live, Emerson, Lake and Palmer were versatile and accomplished musicians. They were equally comfortable playing live, and capable of replicating what was complex music live. That music Emerson, Lake and Palmer had recorded between 1970 and 1973. Some of this music would find its way onto Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends-Ladies and Gentlemen.

Each night of what seemed to be the tour that never seemed to end, Emerson, Lake and Palmer were improving as musicians. Review after review remarked upon this. Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends-Ladies and Gentlemen would document this.

Rather than record one or two shows, Emerson, Lake and Palmer ensured that tapes were running on a number of nights. This allowed them to cherry pick nine tracks, which included four suites. This included Tarkus, Take A Pebble. Piano Improvisations and Karn Evil. There was also the medley of Jeremy Bender and The Sheriff. Along with Hoedown, Jerusalem, Toccata and Take A Pebble (Conclusion), Welcome Back My Friends to the Show That Never Ends-Ladies and Gentlemen was representative of the first three years of  Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s career. However, having chosen such lengthy tracks, Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends-Ladies and Gentlemen was going to be unlike most live albums.

Instead, Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends-Ladies and Gentlemen was a triple album. The nine tracks were spread across three LPs, and in the 2016 Remaster across two CDs. Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends-Ladies and Gentlemen which had been produced by Greg Lake, and scheduled for release in August 1974.

Before that, critics had their say on Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends-Ladies and Gentlemen. Critics were won over by Welcome Back My Friends to the Show That Never Ends-Ladies and Gentlemen. Many critics expressed surprise that Emerson, Lake and Palmer were so accomplished live. So much so, that there was Emerson, Lake and Palmer eschewed overdubbing on Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends-Ladies and Gentlemen. It was live and uncut, and a true musical document of Emerson, Lake and Palmer live.

When Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends-Ladies and Gentlemen was released on 19th of August 1974, it reached number nineteen in Britain, and ten in the US Billboard 200. This resulted in Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s sixth consecutive gold disc in America. Elsewhere,  Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends-Ladies and Gentlemen reached the top ten in the Canadian, German, Finnish and Dutch album charts. The Emerson, Lake and Palmer success story continued. Or so it seemed.

Following the release of Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends-Ladies and Gentlemen, Emerson, Lake and Palmer decided to take a break to work on side projects and solo albums. Nothing was heard of  Emerson, Lake and Palmer until 1976.

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That’s when they reunited in Mountain Studios, Montreux, Switzerland  to record Works Volume 1, which was released on the 17th of March 1977.  It was certified gold in America, Canada and Britain. The followup Works Volume 2, was released on 1st November 1977. Although it was certified gold in America, Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s were no longer as popular.  Sadly, that was the case with many progressive rock bands.

That had been the case since  the birth of punk. The punks saw  progressive rock as musical dinosaurs. They were the antithesis of everything that punk stood for. As punk and then post punk’s popularity grew, progressive rock’s popularity declined. 

On 18th November 1978, Emerson, Lake and Palmer released Love Beach. This allowed Emerson, Lake and Palmer to discharge their contractual obligations to Atlantic Records.  Although it wasn’t well received by critics, it was still certified silver in Britain and gold in America. However, Love Beach failed to reach the upper reaches of the charts.  Love Beach proved to be Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s  swan-song,  and the band split-up shortly thereafter. 

Nearly fourteen years later  Emerson, Lake and Palmer returned on 27th June 1992 with Black Moon. Sadly, the album failed to reach the heights of their previous albums. It was a similar case with In The Hot Seat, which was released on 27th September 1994.  In The Hot Seat failed to make an impression on the charts, and it was a disappointing way to end  Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s recording career. It had spanned nine studio albums which were released between 1970 and 1994.

For many people, Emerson, Lake and Palmer released some of their finest music during the early years of their career.  This includes their first four studio albums,  1970s Emerson, Lake and Palmer, 1971s Tarkus, 1972s Trilogy and 1973s Brain Salad Surgery. That’s not forgetting  Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s first two live albums, 1971s Pictures At An Exhibition and 1974s Welcome Back My Friends to the Show That Never Ends… Ladies and Gentlemen. Each of the six albums feature Emerson, Lake and Palmer at their innovative and groundbreaking best. 

That wasn’t surprising, given Emerson, Lake and Palmer were three of the most gifted and visionally musicians of their generation. They were able to seamlessly combine musical genres, and had been since their eponymous debut album. 

On their first four studio albums, Emerson, Lake and Palmer flitted between prog rock, jazz and classical music,  creating genre-melting music. This music was ambitious, complex and innovative. That was no surprise. Emerson, Lake and Palmer had always embraced the latest technology in what seemed like their quest for musical perfection.

To achieve musical perfection, Emerson, Lake and Palmer made use of overdubbing extensively. They added  layer upon layer of instruments. The result were complex, multilayered, orchestral arrangements. The only problem was replicating the songs live. 

This Emerson, Lake and Palmer soon realised was impossible. After several attempts to play these songs live,  Emerson, Lake and Palmer realised there was no way they could play these songs live. Eventually, they gave up, and cut these songs from their set, as they embarked on extensive tours.

This included their eleven month 1973-1974 tour, which is documented on  Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends-Ladies and Gentlemen. It found Emerson, Lake and Palmer at their most accomplished, as they toured North America and Europe. Several of these shows were recorded, and parts of these concerts found their way onto Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends-Ladies and Gentlemen. It’s a reminder of just how good a live band  Emerson, Lake and Palme were.  

After the release of Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends-Ladies and Gentlemen, Emerson, Lake and Palmer took a prolonged break. Sadly, Emerson, Lake and Palmer never reached the same heights.  

By 1974,  Emerson, Lake and Palmer had released the best music of their career. This included four cohesive studio albums and two live albums. Each of these albums were certified gold in America. However,  it wasn’t just in America where Emerson, Lake and Palmer enjoyed commercial success and critical acclaim.

Between 1970 and 1974,  Emerson, Lake and Palmer were one of the most successful bands  on both sides of the Atlantic. They also were popular in Canada, Europe and Australia.  Emerson, Lake and Palmer were titans of progressive rock, who were already  festival favourites and stadium fillers. Emerson, Lake and Palmer were well on their way to becoming one of the most successful progressive rock bands.

From 1970s Emerson, Lake and Palmer, 1971 Tarkus and Pictures At An Exhibition, 1972s Trilogy and 1973s Brain Salad, Surgery and 1974s Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends-Ladies and Gentlemen it seemed that Emerson, Lake and Palmer could do no wrong. They were one of the most successful bands of the progressive rock era. Their music was innovative, inventive and influential. 

Even today, Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s music continues to influence a new generation of musicians. Especially, the music Emerson, Lake and Palmer released between 1970 and 1974. During that period, Emerson, Lake and Palmer were a visionary band, who created what was without doubt, the best music of their career. The albums Emerson, Lake and Palmer recorded during that four year period, aren’t inventive, innovative and influential, but timeless, epic and ambitious that feature a group at the peak of their creative powers during their glory years.

Emerson, Lake and Palmer-1971-1974: The Glory Years.

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JON SAVAGE’S 1967-THE YEAR THAT POP DIVIDED.

Jon Savage’s 1967 -The Year Pop Divided.

Nowadays, 1967 is regarded by critics and cultural commentators as one of the most important years in musical history. It’s remembered for its Summer Of Love in San Francisco, and the birth of Flower Power. 1967 is also a remembered as the year that pop divided. 

A signal of what was about to unfold was the Human Be-In in San Francisco, Polo Fields on January the ’14th’ 1967. Young Americans flocked what was advertised as “A Gathering of the Tribes for a Human Be-In”. The “tribes” were invited by LSD guru Dr. Timothy Leary to: “turn on, tune in, drop out.” Most of the audience dropped acid which was freely available and watched as poets like Allen Ginsberg and local bands like the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane. The bands showcase the new psychedelic West Coast sound that would provide the soundtrack to much of 1967.

Meanwhile, record buyers on both sides of the Atlantic watched the events of January the ’14th’ 1967 with interest. They realised that music was about to change. What nobody could foresee was how much music would change during 1967.

Especially in Britain, where the birth of progressive pop in 1966, proved to be a game-changer. At the forefront of this change were The Beatles, who released Revolver during 1966. This showcased a much more sophisticated and progressive sound. It was very different from the MOR and bland pop that filled the UK charts. Alas, that was still the case as 1967 dawned.

Things though, were about to change in 1967, when psychedelic rock transformed the musical landscape. Psychedelia played an important part in the eclectic soundtrack to Britain’s Summer Of Love. So to some extent, did folk rock, pop, ska and the soul music being produced by Stax and Motown. Little did record buyers realise in January 1967 musical history would be made throughout 1967.

Hardly a week went by in 1967 without a significant musical event happening. This ranged from bands new being formed and old band breaking up. Meanwhile, top bands embarked on major concert tours and festivals like the Monterey Pop Festival grew in popularity. However, 1967 was also a year when numerous classic singles and landmark albums were released. 

This included the release of The Doors eponymous debut album in January 1967. Jefferson Airplane’s Surrealistic Pillow and The Byrds’ Younger Than Yesterday followed in February. In  March, The Grateful Dead released their debut album Grateful Dead and two classic albums were released, Aretha Franklin’s I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You and The Velvet Underground and Nico’s eponymous debut album. Already, 1967 was shaping up to be an important year in musical history.

April 1967 saw the release of The Electric Prunes’ eponymous debut album, which featured I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night). May saw Country Joe and The Fish release Electric Music for the Mind and Body, while a week later, The Jimi Hendrix’s Are You Experienced? June marked the release The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and week later Moby Grape. During the first six months of 1967, the music being released was truly eclectic. 

In Britain, popular music had become even more divided than before. Popular music had always become divided into “tribes,”  from the days of mods and rockers. This continued to be the case as sixties progressed. 1967 was no different. There were still many who preferred the bland pop and MOR. They had rejected out of hand progressive pop and had eschewed  psychedelia. Others embraced psychedelia and were drawn to this new and innovative genre. Others rejected pop and rock out of hand, preferring ska and the soul that was being produced by Stax and Motown. Some record buyers had eclectic taste in music and were enjoying the eclectic music that was being released during 1967, which was the first year that albums outsold singles. No wonder, given the music that had been released, and was about to be released.

Just like first half of 1967, the second half of 1967, countless classic albums were released. This included psychedelic folk rockers the Incredible String Band’s landmark album The 5000 Spirits Or The Layers Of The Onion. It was just the latest career defining album to be released during 1967.

August 1967, saw several debut albums being released. This included Pink Floyd’s Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, Frank Zappa’s Lumpy Gravy,Big Brother and the Holding Company and Vanilla Fudge. Tim Buckley’s also released his sophomore album Hello and Goodbye. Little did anyone realise when each of these albums hit the shelves for the first time, that fifty years later they would be regarded as classics. 1967 was shaping up to be one of the most important years in the history of music. 

Still though, artists and bands continued to release groundbreaking and influential albums. September saw the release of two more debut albums, when Captain Beefheart’s Safe As Milk and Scott Walker’s Scott. The Doors returned with their much-anticipated sophomore album Strange Day. 1967 was the year that kept on giving.

In October, Buffalo Springfield returned with Buffalo Springfield Again and Judy Collins released Wildflowers. Two important debut albums were Ten Years After and Sly and The Family Stone’s A Whole New Thing. However, one of the most important musical months of 1967 was November.

Over the course of thirty days, Cream released Disraeli Gears, The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour and Love’s released their career defining third album Forever Changes. Making a welcome return were Jefferson Airplane with After Bathing At Baxter’s and Country Joe and the Fish with I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-To-Die. It wasn’t going to be easy to surpass the music released during November 1967.

Some of music’s big hitters returned with new albums during December 1967. They all had the ucrative Christmas market in mind. In the UK, The Jimi Hendrix Experience released Axis: Bold As Love. A week later, the Rolling Stones released Their Satanic Majesties Request. This was just the tip of the musical iceberg. The Who released The Who Sell Out and Leonard Cohen debuted with Songs Of Leonard Cohen. Another group making their debut were Traffic, who released Mr. Fantasy. One of the last albums to be released during 1967, was Miles Davis’ Sorcerer. It was just the latest landmark album that was released during 1967, which was the year of Flower Power, the Summer of Love and the Monterey Pop Festival. It was, without doubt, one of the most important years in musical history, and is documented and celebrated on Jon Savage’s 1967 -The Year Pop Divided, which was recently released by Ace Records.

Disc One.

Opening Jon Savage’s 1967 -The Year Pop Divided is The Byrds released their anthemic single So You Want To Be A Rock N’ Roll Star. It was released  on Columbia on ‘9th’ January and reached number twenty-nine on the US Billboard 100. So You Want To Be A Rock N’ Roll Star was taken ’from The Byrds’ fourth album Younger Than Yesterday, which was released in February 1967. It found The Byrds building on their previous album Third Dimension, as they continue to incorporate psychedelic rock into their music.

February 1967 saw psychedelic pioneers the 13th Floor Elevators release as a Levitation as single. This fusion of proto-punk and psychedelia failed to find an audience. Later in 1967, Roky Erickson and Co. returned with their sophomore album Easter Easter. This was the followup to their groundbreaking debut album The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators. One of the highlights of Easter Easter is Levitation, which features the 13th Floor Elevators at the peak of their powers.

Many people won’t have heard of the Chicago based rock band, The Shadows Of The Night. By the time they released their sophomore album Back Door Men in February 1967, The Shadows Of The Night were pioneering the raga-rock sound. One of their finest moments of this oft-overlooked album is Behemoth, which is a welcome addition to the compilation.

Gladys Knight And The Pips released Take Me In Your Arms And Love Me as a single in March 1967. It was taken from her third album Everybody Needs Love, which was released on the Soul label. Take Me In Your Arms And Love Me features Gladys Knight at her soulful best as she delivers a sensual vocal. This resulted a breakthrough hit for Gladys Knight And The Pips, when Take Me In Your Arms And Love Me reached number thirteen in the UK.

In March 1967, Soft Machine released their debut single Love Makes Sweet Music on Polydor. Tucked away on the B-Side was Feelin’ Reelin’ Squeelin’, a groundbreaking slice of lysergic music from musical pioneers Soft Machine, who would go on to enjoy a long and illustrious career.

When The Move released I Can Hear The Grass Grow on Deram in late March 1967, Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne’s love of The Beatles shawn through. The Fab Four have obviously inspired this melodic psychedelic single, that would give The Move a top five single.

Since the release of their debut single in 1965, The Young Rascals had been signed to Atlantic Records. Two years later, and they released Groovin’ in May 1967. This was their answer to The Lovin’ Spoonful’s 1966 single Summer In The City. Groovin’ caught the imagination of record buyers on both sides of the Atlantic, reaching number one on the US Billboard 100 and number eight in UK. Fifty years later, and Groovin’ is a classic single and is still regularly features on radio playlists.

The Bar-Kays were formed in 1966, and a year later in July 1967, released Soul Finger on Stax’s Volt imprint. This instrumental gave The Bar-Kays the biggest single of their career when it reached seventeen in the US R&B charts and thirty-three in the UK. Later in 1967, The Bar-Kays biggest single lent its name to their debut album Soul Finger.

In June 1967, Aretha Franklin released a cover of Otis Redding’s Respect as a single on Atlantic Records. Respect was taken from her album I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You. One of the highlights of this classic album was Respect, which gave the further Queen of Soul one of the biggest singles of her career. Respect topped the US Billboard and US R&B charts, and in the UK reached number eight. Fifty years later, and Respect is regarded as a soul classic.

One of the hidden gems on disc one is The Hand Don’t Fit The Glove, which comes courtesy of Terry Reid With Peter Jay’s Jaywalkers. It was released on Columbia in April 1967, and showcased the considerable talent of the man who later become known as Super Lungs. Terry Reid was only seventeen when he unleashed a vocal powerhouse on The Hand Don’t Fit The Glove was released. Even then, it was apparent that Terry Reid was destined for greatness.

Dyke and The Blazers were formed in 1965 in Phoenix, Arizona. They’re best known for their 1966 hit single Funky Broadway. However, there’s more to Dyke and The Blazers than one single. In May 1967, they released So Sharp, which reached forty-one in the US R&B charts. So Sharp has an uber funky groove and a wistful, plaintive and powerful vocal. Later in 1967, So Sharp featured on The Funky Broadway, which proved to be Dyke and The Blazers’ only album.

My final chose from disc one of Jon Savage’s 1967 -The Year Pop Divided is Buffalo Springfield’s Mr. Soul, which was the B-Side of their single Bluebird. It was released on Atco in June 1967. Later in 1967, Mr. Soul opened Buffalo Springfield’s sophomore album Buffalo Springfield Again. This hidden gem features a musical masterclass, and is a tantalising reminder of Buffalo Springfield in their prime.

Disc Two.

Sharon Tandy was born and brought up in South Africa, but when she moved to Britain embarked upon a musical career. She’s best known for blue-eyed soul and psychedelia. One of her finest releases was Hold On, which was released on Atlantic Records in July 1967. Sadly, this psych soul single failed to find the audience it deserved. Recently, there’s been a resurgence of interest in Sharon Tandy’s music, and this underrated singer’s music is belatedly reaching a wider audience.

Birmingham based The Fortunes were founded in 1963 and in 1965, enjoyed a hit on both sides of the Atlantic with You’ve Got Your Troubles. Two years later, in 1967, The Fortunes signed to United Artists and released The Idol in August. It was produced by Mel Shalmy, who previously had produced The Kinks. He plays his part in this melodic slice of power pop.

Eleven years after making their recording debut, The Four Tops released You Keep Running Away as a single in October 1967. It was penned and produced by Holland-Dozier-Holland, who would become one of Motown’s most successful songwriting and production partnerships. You Keep Running Away is a carefully crafted song, that featured soul-baring vocal. Given the quality of the single, it’s no surprise that You Keep Running Away reached twenty-six in the UK and nineteen in the US Billboard 100. 

September 1967 saw Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band released their debut album Safe As Milk Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band. Four month later, in January 1968 Yellow Brick Road was released as a single. However, if failed to make any impression on the charts. The majority of the record buying public neither understood nor appreciated what was a groundbreaking single from a classic album. Sadly, fifty years later and that’s still the case.

Although Booker T and MGs were Stax Records’ house band, they also enjoyed a successful recording career. Their recording career began in 1962, and five years later Booker T and MGs were Stax Records released Groovin’ as a single stateside. It reached number twenty-one in the US Billboard 100. Tucked away on the B-Side was Slim Jenkins Place a simple, funky and effective instrumental that showcases the talents of Booker T and MGs.

One of most underrated bands of the psychedelic era were The Seeds. They were formed in Los Angeles and were fronted by he inimitable Sky Saxon. One of The Seeds’ finest singles was The Wind Blows Your Hair, which was released on GNP Crescendo in October of 1967. Despite the undoubted quality of The Wind Blows Your Hair, which is dark, eerie, otherworldly and lysergic, it passed record buyers by. For The Seeds it was a case of what might have been. Sadly, that was the case with their career. However, recently, there’s been a resurgence on interest in their music, and somewhat belatedly The Seeds music is finding a wider audience.

Ken Booth was only nineteen in when he recorded The One I Love with Tommy McCook and The Supersonics. Despite his youth, his vocal heartfelt bristles with emotion. By the time The One I Love was released on Jamaican Caltone label in November 1967, Ken Boothe’s star was in the ascendancy. He had enjoyed  a successful UK tour and was being tipped as one of the rising stars of Jamaican music. That proved to be the case, with Ken Boothe enjoying a successful career where he crossed-over and was popular among reggae fans and mainstream audiences.

By December 1967, Aretha Franklin’s hot streak continued when she released a cover of Don Covay’s Chain Of Fools on Atlantic Records. It had been recorded at Rick Hall’s Fame Studios, with the legendary rhythm section of drummer Roger Hawkins, bassist David Hood, guitarist Jimmy Johnson and keyboardist Roger Hawkins providing the perfect backdrop for the future Queen of Soul. She reached new heights on Chain Of Fools of soulfulness, on a single that reached number two in the US Billboard 100 and number one on the US R&B charts. However, in the UK Chain Of Fools struggled to thirty-seven in the charts. Still though, it’s one of the finest singles of Aretha Franklin’s career.

December 1967 saw The Mickey Finn release Garden Of My Mind as a single on the Direction label. It’s a propulsive fusion of pop, psych, rock and soul with glorious Hendrix inspired ascending guitar riffs. There’s an intensity and energy to this long lost hidden gem, which was The Mickey Finn’s sixtes’ swan-song.

The Easybeats were formed in Sydney, Australia towards the end of 1964, and by 1965 the band had signed to Parlophone, After releasing a trio of albums, The Easybeats moved to London, where they recorded their fifth album Vigil. It was released in December 1967 and featured The Music Goes Round My Head. It’s a haunting, lysergic and melodic song that’s the perfect way to closeJon Savage’s 1967 -The Year Pop Divided, which was recently released by Ace Records.

Jon Savage’s 1967 -The Year Pop Divided features forty-eight tracks that are spread across two CDs. They range from hit singles to little-known hidden gems, classic singles, B-Sides and album tracks. This ranges from folk and folk rock to funk, pop, and psychedelia, to R&B, reggae, rock  and soul. It’s an eclectic and lovingly compiled collection of songs fourteen year old Jon Savage remembers growing up to.

So do many other people, who embraced Flower Power and the Summer Of Love during 1967. Jon Savage’s 1967 -The Year Pop Divided documents and celebrates what was a landmark year for music. It saw a generation: “turn on, tune in, drop out,”  as they experimented with the drug ju jour LSD. For many, it fuelled the psychedelic revolution that unfolded during 1967. It’s now part of musical history.

For many who weren’t around to witness Flower Power and the Summer Of Love then Jon Savage’s 1967 The Year Pop Divided is the perfect introduction to what was a landmark year for music. Hardly a week went by without the release of a groundbreaking or classic album from artists and bands old and new. This included many members of musical royalty, who along with many of the artists on Jon Savage’s 1967 -The Year Pop Divided, played their part in transforming the musical landscape. Never again would music be the same, after 1967, which marked a changing of the guard musically, as music evolved and pop divided during what will always be remembered as a landmark year for music.

Jon Savage’s 1967 -The Year Pop Divided.

STEPHAN MEIDELL-METRICS.

Stephan Meidell-Metrics. 

Three years after the release of his critically acclaimed, groundbreaking debut album Cascades, Stephan Meidell is about to return with his much-anticipated sophomore album Metrics, which will be released on Hubro Music on the ‘28th’ April 2017. Metrics marks the return of a true musical pioneer and sonic explorer Stephan Meidell, who takes the listener on a captivating musical journey on Metrics. That’s no surprise, given thirty-four year old Stephan Meidell’s career so far.  

His recording career began in 2007, whilst he was still a student at the prestigious Conservatorium van Amsterdam. Stephan Meidell had enrolled at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam in 2004, when he was twenty-one, and would spend the next four years studying jazz. This would stand him in good stead as recording career began.

As 2007 dawned, Stephan Meidell was putting what he had learnt into practise with the pan-European jazz quintet Mr. Eart. They had already written and recorded their debut album, Facts In The Case Of The Mysterious Pop Murders. It was scheduled for release in February 2007. When Facts In The Case Of The Mysterious Pop Murders was released, it was well received by critics. Alas, Mr. Eart’s album proved to be a one-off. However, Stephan Meidell’s recording career was already underway, and he hadn’t even graduated from the Conservatorium van Amsterdam.

A year later, in 2008, Stephan Meidell graduated from the Conservatorium van Amsterdam with his degree in jazz. Now he was ready to embark upon a career in music. 

After his graduation, Stephan Meidell didn’t return to Kristiansand, where was born in 1982. Instead, he decided to base himself in Bergen, which had, and still has, a vibrant and thriving music scene. This was the perfect place for Stephan Meidell to found the Playdate concert series in 2009. Since then, the Playdate concert series has continued to focus on and champion improvisational music. 

That was no surprise, given Stephan Meidell’s background is in jazz and improvised music. By 2009, he was a member of Vanilla Riot, a groundbreaking jazz trio who took improvised music in a new direction. Vanilla Riot combined drums, clarinet and guitar with two laptops. This was a new and exciting musical development, which made its debut on Vanilla Riot’s debut album Stitch. It was released to critical acclaim in December 2009. Despite the critical acclaim, there was no followup to Stitch.

Two years later in 2011, Stephan Meidell returned with another innovative new band, Velkro. The experimental trio released their debut album The Future Of The Past in 2011. The album received praise and plaudits, and the future looked bright for Vekro. 

As 2012 dawned, this was the start of busiest years of Stephan Meidell’s career so far. He returned in January 2012 with a new album from his latest band, The Sweetest Thrill, which featured drummer Øyvind Hegg-Lunde. The pair had also recorded The Sweetest Thrill’s genre-melting album Jewellery. It was fusion of indie rock, Krautrock, noise rock and shoe gaze. Upon Jewellery’s release in January 2012,  The Sweetest Thrill’s unique brand of sonic sorcery found favour with critics.  Soon, thing were about to get even better for Stephan Meidell.

Four months later, Stephan Meidell’s latest band Cakewalk released their debut album Wired in May 2012. It was a compelling fusion of musical genres and influences. Everything from drone and electronica was combined with improv, Krautrock, noise rock and rock. Wired was one of the best debut albums by a Norwegian band released during 2012. Cakewalk were heralded as one of the rising stars of the Nordic music scene 

Later in 2012, Stephan Meidell’s career headed in a different direction, when he became the chairman of Ny Musikk Bergen (New Music Bergen). This was position he held until 2014. Together with his role as curator of the Playdate concert series and as music critic with Bergens Tidende, Stephan Meidell was keeping busy. Still, though, he found time to record and release another album. 

This was Krachmacher’s debut album Paratrooper, which was described as an: “avant-kraut, art-rock experiment gone pop.” The Bergen based quartet’s debut album was well received upon its release, and the future looked brought for Krachmacher. However, they’ve never released a followup to Paratrooper. Despite this, Stephan Meidell was kept busy.

He featured on Erlend Apneseth’s debut solo album Blikkspor, which was released in early October 2013. Later that month, Cakewalk would return with their sophomore album Transfixed.

Seventeen months after releasing their debut album Wired, Cakewalk returned with their much-anticipated sophomore album Transfixed. It was released in October 2013, and built on their criticality acclaimed debut album Wired.  Avant-garde was combined with jazz and rock on Transfixed which was a musical tapestry of musical genres and influences. Transfixed further reinforced that Cakewalk were about to become one of the leading lights of the Nordic music scene.

The following year, 2014, would be another important year in Stephan Meidell’s musical career. Not only would two bands from his past hit the comeback trail, but Stephan Meidell was about to embark upon a solo career.

Seven years after making his recording debut, Stephan Meidell released his debut solo album Cascades on Hubro Music in February 2014. Cascades was released to critical acclaim, and was hailed as a groundbreaking album from a musical pioneer. The followup to Cascades was eagerly awaited by critics and music fans. Before that, two bands from Stephan Meidell’s past were about to make a welcome comeback. 

This included sonic sorcerers The Sweetest Thrill, who returned with their sophomore album Strings and Timpani later in 2014. Strings and Timpani was the much-anticipated followup to Jewellery, which had been released in 2012. Just like Jewellery, Strings and Timpani’s genre-melting sound well received by critics, who welcomed the Norwegian duo’s return. It was a similar case with another band from Stephan Meidell’s past, Velkro.

Three years after releasing their debut album, the multinational trio Velkro returned with Don’t Wait For The Revolution in November 2014. The album had been recorded in Lisbon, in June 2012, but had lain unreleased for over two years. Despite that, the music on Don’t Wait For The Revolution still sounded ahead of the musical curve. It was another album of inventive and innovative music from Velkro, who reached new heights as they switched between and combined alt-rock, electronica, improv and noise rock on Don’t Wait For The Revolution. Just like The Sweetest Thrill’s sophomore album Strings and Timpani, Velkro’s Don’t Wait For The Revolution was an ambitious album that marked a return to form from both bands.

In 2016, Stephan Meidell  was busy working on a variety of different projects. He was a member of the Erlend Apneseth Trio who released their critically acclaimed debut album Det Andre Rommet in February 2016. Five months later, Stephan Meidell returned with a new project Strings and Timpani.

The lineup of Strings and Timpani was the same as The Sweetest Thrill, with Stephan Meidell joined by drummer Øyvind Hegg-Lunde. However, as Strings and Timpani the pair use improvisation to create catchy and rhythmic music by fusing elements of world music, jazz and lo-fi pop. To do this, they incorporate prepared sounds as part of their extensive musical arsenal. This was something that Stephan Meidell had been doing successfully for several years, and would continue to do so. 

These prepared sounds played a part in the sound and success of Strings and Timpani’s debut album Hyphen when it was released in July 2016. Buoyed by the success of Hyphen, Stephan Meidell turned his attention to several other projects that would be released during 2017.

This included Vellkro’s third album Too Lazy To Panic, which was the followup to 2014s  Don’t Wait For The Revolution. It was released in January 2017 and is another ambitious, inventive and intense album. Seamlessly, Velkro switch between and fuse disparate musical genres, including mprov, experimental electronic music and psychedelic rock. The result is a music that’s  variously harsh, dreamy and melodic and is without doubt, Velkro’s finest album.

One of the other albums that Stephan Meidell had been working on during 2016, was Cakewalk’s long-awaited third album Ishihara, which will shortly be released in the rest of Europe on Hubro Music. So too will Stephan Meidell’s long-awaited sophomore solo album Metrics.

Metrics.

Nearly three years after the release of Cascades, Stephan Meidell returns with his carefully crafted sophomore album Metrics. He’s accompanied by some of Norway’s talented musicians on what’s a very different to Cascades.  Each of the musicians in the multitalented ensemble, that feature on Metrics have been hand picked especially for the parts that they play on the album.  

Great care had also gone into choosing the array of instruments that would be used on Metrics. They various musical registers of each instrument had to compliment each other. This is something  that Stephan Meidell has taken great care with throughout his career. Essentially, each musician is one piece of a musical jigsaw, and if Stephan Meidell had chosen the right personnel, all the pieces will fit together perfectly. 

This includes Erlend Apneseth who plays Hardanger Fiddle. He’s joined by clarinetist Morten Barrikmo; harpist Hans Knut Sveen and Stefan Lindvall who plays baroque violin parts. Magda Mayas was drafted in to play the piano parts. However, rather than use the piano parts in their entirety, they were later edited and manipulated by Stephan Meidell and become some of the prepared sounds he deploys on Metrics. 

Meanwhile, Stephan Meidell plays guitar, synths and adds drum machines, electronics and tapes. Stephan Meidell and his ensemble improvise on the seven pieces that would later became Metrics. However, the album wasn’t completed yet.

Still, Stephan Meidell had to edit the seven pieces. This was something that Holger Czukay pioneered in the late-sixtes and early seventies. Forty years later, and  Stephan Meidell was using editing effectively, and had been for the best part of ten years. Stephan Meidell also had at his disposal samplers, tape machines and drum machines. These became part of his palette of sound, as he deployed a myriad of prepared sounds and programmed electronic drums beats. Suddenly, Stephan Meidell was more like a sculptor, as he gradually shaped the seven soundscapes. This required processing and effects. Gradually, though Metrics began to take shape.

Once the recording and editing of Metrics was complete, the album was mixed at Kakofon Studio. All that remained was for the album to be mastered in Berlin at Dubplates and Mastering.  Now Metrics was ready for release, and will be released by Hubro Music on the ‘28th’ April 2017. 

Metrics finds Stephan Meidell heading in a new direction, and one where disparate musical genres and influences seamlessly melt into one. This ranges from baroque to electronica and techno right through to musique concrete and progressive rock. They’re part of sonic sorcerer Stephan Meidell’s genre-melting, cinematic musical journey on Metric.

Opening Metrics is Baroque I, where crackling sounds give way what sounds like the sound of a train as this new musical journey begins. Suddenly, the understated soundscape becomes dramatic and atmospheric. It’s also cinematic, as it takes on an Eastern sound. Meanwhile, pulsating beats provide a dramatic backdrop,  but don’t overpower the rest of this meandering filmic arrangement. However, they add a degree of drama and tension, whilst constantly conjuring up pictures of somewhere distant, Eastern and exotic. Maybe it’s a market or souq? Stephan Meidell certainly continues to deploys a myriad of sounds that add to, and compliment the Eastern influence. Later, the music becomes ruminative, inviting contemplation and reflection. Always though, it’s atmospheric, dramatic, moody and cinematic, as Stephan Meidell paints pictures with music.

Baroque II picks up where Baroque I left off. Mesmeric,  jangling sounds signal the start  of the day in some faraway Eastern city. Soon, a powerful, dramatic drone sounds and reverberates and the city is awake. Meanwhile, a harp, that adds a contrast, while  screeching, searing sounds  replicate the bray and cry of animals. By then, there’s an urgency as if the citizens of a sprawling city start to go about their daily business. As they do, the drama builds and grows. So does the sense of urgency as seamlessly Stephan Meidell conjures up a sprawling metropolis awakening.

Contrasts abound as State I begins to unfold. What sounds like the sound of a door being locked is accompanied by thunderous techno drums. Still, the door squeaks and scrapes as it’s unlocked and then locked. Meanwhile, a carefully crafted and catchy dance track is unfolding. Filters have been used on the beats,  while washes of synths and then sirens interject. They pay homage to Acid House,  as the arrangement continues to build. However, in the background, scraping, screeching sounds can be heard. So can dark, dramatic drones and the dark sound of a piano. Is something sinister going on, and are the thunderous beats that power this dance-floor friendly track along merely a ruse to disguise the actions of State I?

Otherworldly, dark and futuristic describes the introduction State II.  Especially when growling, gnarling and drones escape from soundscape. Industrial sounds join futuristic, otherworldly and eerie sounds. Together, they create a dark, dramatic, moody and pulsating backdrop. Sometimes, the music is elegiac, melancholy and melodic as  tension and drama pervades this filmic soundscape before it reaches a crescendo. This leaves only one question left unanswered what is State II, and what is its purpose? Has it some sort of Orwellian purpose in a futuristic nation?

Straight away, there’s a dreamy, ethereal and exotic sound as State III unfolds.  The arrangement floats dreamily, with Stephan Meidell leaving space in this lysergic soundscape. Instruments and sounds flit in and out, but each one has a purpose. It’s one part in the musical jigsaw that gradually takes shape. Meanwhile, a  less is more approach has been taken, allowing the music to evolve. Later it becomes thoughtful, moody, dramatic and pensive. Always, the music  is cinematic. However, it’s up to the listener to provide the script as latterly, the music veers between pensive and mournful.

Biotop is twelve minute epic, which allows Stephan Meidell the opportunity to experiment. This he does, as a myriad of prepared and found sounds join with beats and recreate a machine-like backdrop. It’s as if Kraftwerk’s Man Machine has awakened and walked onto the set of a Wim Wenders movie, where Ry Cooder’s shimmering guitar is setting the scene. Soon, the music is  atmospheric and moody, as pulsating beats propel the arrangement along. Meanwhile, Biotop limbers along, emitting squeaks, creaks and beeps. Sometimes, it scrapes and jars, as the music becomes moody, eerie, dramatic and otherworldly. Still, the music is melodic and captivates as it takes on a futuristic sound as the beats gallop along, providing the pulsating heartbeat. Later, there’s a jarring, squeaking sound as the haunting soundscape glides along, as if Biotop is en route some distant galaxy. 

On Tauchgang which closes Metrics, it sounds as if Stephan Meidell is taking the listener on another journey. Gradually the tension and drama builds, before speaks and creaks are emitted from the soundscape. They join a myriad of otherworldly sounds as a stab of piano adds to the drama that continues to build. By then, it’s as if Stephan Meidell is providing the soundtrack to a sci-fi film. To do this, he puts to good use his sonic palette to successfully create a dramatic backdrop. This sets the listener’s imagination racing, as they imagine alternative scenes and scenarios. Especially with two minutes left as a degree of urgency is added, and the tension rises as the drama continues to build. By then, the music is dark, moody and mesmeric as it reaches a crescendo. Tauchgang is an example of cinematic music at its best from a musical master craftsman.

Stephan Meidell has spent the last ten years forging a career in music. This he’s done with various bands, and now as a solo artist on his much-anticipated sophomore album Metrics, which will be released by Hubro Music on 8th’ April 2017. Metrics marks the return of a true musical pioneer and sonic sorcerer Stephan Meidell, who takes the listener on a captivating musical journey on Metrics.

With the help of handpicked and multitalented band, Stephan Meidell carefully crafts the seven soundscapes on Metrics. They’re variously  atmospheric, dramatic, moody, mournful,  and pensive. Other times, they’re futuristic and otherworldly. Sometimes, the music is catchy, elegiac, ethereal and melodic. Always the soundscape on Metrics are captivating and cinematic.  All the listener is left to do is add a script the seven groundbreaking and genre-melting soundscapes on  Metrics.

To create the soundscapes on Metrics, Stephan Meidell has combined a myriad of musical genres. This ranges from avant-garde, baroque, electronica and experimental, to improv and industrial, Nordic Wave. Add to that, elements of Berlin School, post jazz, post rock and progressive rock. Elements of each of these musical genres were carefully sculpted by Stephan Meidell to create the seven soundscapes on Metrics. It marks the welcome return of Stephan Meidell after three years.

Stephan Meidell’s much-anticipated sophomore album Metrics is no ordinarily album. Instead, Metrics is a career defining solo album from Stephan Meidell. So much so, that Metrics marks the coming of age of sonic sorcerer and musical pioneer Stephan Meidell on his ambitious and groundbreaking album, Metrics.

Stephan Meidell-Metrics. 

BACK ON THE STREET AGAIN (AUSTRALIAN FUNK, SOUL AND PSYCH (MOSTLY) FROM THE FESTIVAL VAULTS.

Back On The Street Again (Australian Funk, Soul And Psych (Mostly) From The Festival Vaults).

All too often, many record buyers forget that there’s more to music than the classic rock that was produced on both sides of the Atlantic during the late-sixties and seventies. While this was a hugely important and influential period musically, and was when some of best, and most important albums in the history of music were released, there’s a whole world of music awaiting discovery. 

Sadly, many music lovers know what they like, and like what know. They’re resistant to new types of music, and have a very  narrow musical taste. If it’s not The Beatles, Rolling Stones or The Beach Boys, they don’t want to know. That is a great shame, given how much music from the four corners of the world has been reissued over the past three decades.

All this music has been embraced by a new generation of music fans. They want to discover the delights of Afrobeat, Anatolian, Asian, Cuban, Eastern European, Haitian, Iranian, Latin and South American music. This new generation of record buyers have also embraced the Berlin School of electronic music, industrial and Krautrock, and helped fuel the resurgence of interest in both genres. It’s a similar case with the Nordic music scene which is thriving, and has been embraced by a new generation of music lovers. They have a truly eclectic taste in music.

This has been helped no end, by the internet. Now it’s possible to discover music from all over the world at the click of a button. If they like what they hear, they can buy an album or compilation from the comfort of their sofa. Never has buying music been easier. A new compilation that will be of interest to not just those with an eclectic taste in music, but anyone who loves good music, is Back On The Street Again (Australian Funk, Soul And Psych (Mostly) From The Festival Vaults), which was recently released by Festival on CD and as a double LP.

Back On The Street Again (Australian Funk, Soul And Psych (Mostly) From The Festival Vaults) was compiled by DJ Kinetic, who has dug deep to discover the twenty tracks that feature on the compilation. They’re not by the biggest names in Australian music. Instead, they’re by artists who were popular locally, but never found the commercial success their music deserved nationally. This includes Billy Thorpe and The Aztecs, Johnny Rocco Band, Renée Geyer, John Sangster, Ray White Revival, McPhee, Kahvas Jute, Al Styne and Hot Source. Many of these artists and bands released just the one groundbreaking album, before disappearing into obscurity. Nowadays, these albums are highly collectable and prized possessions among record collectors.   DJ Kinetic’s decision to compile a compilation of these tracks was a masterstroke, as Back On The Street Again (Australian Funk, Soul And Psych (Mostly) From The Festival Vaults) is chock full of hidden gems.

It’s Billy Thorpe and The Aztecs cover of Etta James’ Back On The Street Again that opens Back On The Street Again (Australian Funk, Soul And Psych (Mostly) From The Festival Vaults). It’s taken from Billy Thorpe and The Aztecs’ 1975 sophomore album Million Dollar Bill, which was released on the Infinity label, which was an imprint of Festival Records. The highlight of Million Dollar Bill was the moody, atmospheric cover of Back On The Street Again which is funky and soulful. It deserved to fare much better than thirty-seven in the Australian charts.

Fifty years ago, in 1967, The ID released what was their one and only album Big-Time Operators on the Spin label. The ID were lead by Jeff St. John, whose regarded as possessing one of the most soulful voices in Australia. He puts it to good use on this storming, hook-laden, mod-soul cover of Feel Awight. It would go down well on the UK’s Northern Soul scene.

Ross D. Wyllie was born in Brisbane, Queensland in 1948 and released a handful of singles between 1967 and 1972. This included Do The Uptight on Festival Records in 1967. It was penned by Johnny Young of Young’s Talent Time, and is another song that was a favourite of Australian mods.

One of the pioneers of Australian funk was the Johnny Rocco Band. Their career began in the early seventies, and by 1975 they released their one and only album Rocco on The Ritz Gramophone Company. A year later, Rocco was released in North America by 20th Century Records. One of the funkiest tracks on Rocco was Funky Max, which has a harder, funky sound that heads in the direction of P-Funk. Funky Max has a truly timeless funky sound that’s testament tp bandleader Russell Dunlop, who sadly, passed away in 2009.

In 1972, the Daly-Wilson Big Band Featuring Kerrie Biddell released their debut album The Exciting Daly-Wilson Big Band on Festival Records. It’s a captivating fusion of influences, with big band music combining with jazz and funk to create a heady musical brew. Especially on City Sounds, which features a vocal powerhouse from Australian jazz singer Kerrie Biddell. She’s the Daly-Wilson Big Band’s secret weapon, on this dance-floor filler.

Another dance-floor filler is Voodoo Funk, which was on the B-Side of a promo released by Dalvanius and The Fascinations on Infinity in 1977. Checkmate On Love had been chosen as the single. Not for the first time, the better song was relegated to the B-Side. Later in 1977, Checkmate On Love was released as a single, with Voodoo Lady still tucked away on the flip-side. Any DJ who flipped over to Voodoo Funk would’ve discovered a glorious slice of disco funk that’s just as good as anything that was being released in Britain, Europe and America. Sadly, Voodoo Funk was the one that got away for Dalvanius and The Fascinations. Nowadays, it’s a much prized asset of clued up

Renée Geyer was only twenty-four when she released her third album Moving Along on RCA Victor in 1976. It reached number eleven in Australia, and was Renée Geyer’s first album to be released by RCA Victor in America. That was no surprise, as the Melbourne born singer had established a reputation as having one of the finest voices in Australian music. Proof of that is Be There In The Morning where Renée Geyer delivers one of her most soulful vocals on Moving Along.

John Sangster solo career began in 1967, when the composer, drummer, cornettist and vibraphonist released his debut album The Trip. Two years later, and John Sangster released his third album Ahead Of Hair on Festival Records. It was another ambitious album from the man that’s nowadays remembered as one of Australia’s finest jazz drummers. He puts his many talents to good on Hair, playing vibes and drums on this groundbreaking jazzy track.

Very little is known about the Ray White Revival who covered Stevie Wonder’s Superstition in 1976. However, it’s an uber funky and soulful track from the long forgotten and truly talented Ray White Revival. 

Just like many record companies in the seventies, Festival Records had their own studio band. This was the Festival Studio 24 Orchestra, who released two albums between 1974 and 1976. Their sophomore album was Heading In The Right Direction, which featured Africa (L’Ete Indien). It was released as a single in 1976, and smooth slice of soul funk from the  the Festival Studio 24 Orchestra.

Brute Force And His Drum only released the one single on the Copperfield label. This was Weird and Wonderful in 1974, which begins with a soliloquy that says: “hey drum, let’s play something weird and really wonderful.” It certainly does. Weird And Wonderful was left-field percussive funk track that’s one of the rarest tracks on Back On The Street Again (Australian Funk, Soul And Psych (Mostly) From The Festival Vaults). Copies are almost impossible to find, and when they come up for sale, change hands for large sums of money. However, DJ Kinetic makes it possible to hear Weird and Wonderful without taking out a second mortgage.

Two tracks from McPhee’s 1972 eponymous debut album are included on Back On The Street Again (Australian Funk, Soul And Psych (Mostly). It’s thought that Moto was self-released, and only 500 copies being pressed. Anyone who has a copy, doesn’t seem willing to part with highly prized heavy psych album. It sometimes heads in the direction pop. proto-prog and soul, while referencing Black Sabbath and Jefferson Airplane vocalist vocalist Grace Slick. Twp of the highlights of this oft-overlooked album are The Wrong Time and ndian Rope Man.

Back in 1971, Kahvas Jute released their debut album Wide Open on the Infinity label. It was a groundbreaking album and found Kahvas Jute pioneering progressive rock. Since then, Wide Open has become another highly collectable, hidden gem that today, changes hands for over £1,200. One reason why, is Odyssey which is one of the highlights of Wide Open.

In 1969,Tamam Shud released their debut album Evolution on CBS. Great things were expected from Tamam Shud. However, a year after the release of Goolutionites And The Real People in 1971, Tamam Shud split-up in 1972. Forty-five years later, and  Tamam Shud are regarded as one of the greatest Australian psychedelic and progressive rock bands. A reminder why is the lysergic, progressive delights of Sea That Swells (From Morning Of The Earth).

Blackfeather were without doubt, one of the most popular and successful groups of the early seventies. They were formed in 1970, and a year later, released At The Mountains Of Madness on Infinity in 1971. Originally, Blackfeather started life as a progressive rock band. The progressive sound can be heard throughout At The Mountains Of Madness, and on The Rat Suite “Main Title” which features some blistering, blazing guitar riffs. Later, though, Blackfeather their sound, moving towards a much populist rocky sound which found favour with the wider record buying public. However, The Rat Suite “Main Title” is a reminder of Blackfeather’s progressive rock era.

During the seventies, Al Styne was an actor and singer who popular in the club circuit. In 1977, Al Styne got the opportunity to record an album for Festival Records. He was joined by The ABC Showband on his 1977 album Yesterday When The World Was Warm. It featured Vehicle, which features a funky and jazz-tinged arrangement as Al Styne’s vocal unleashes a powerful, soulful vocal.

British composer Keith Mansfield penned Oz Bump (Soul Thing) for Hot Source in 1975. It was released on Festival Records and was funky and dance-floor friendly. Hot Source it seemed were looking to jump on the disco bandwagon. However, when the single failed to make any impression on the charts, Hot Source didn’t release a followup. Since then, it’s become a much prized single, that regularly changes hands for in excess of £100.

Count Copernicus and The Cosmic Fire released Painted Ego as a single on Festival Records in 1974. It featured an impressive array of talent. They put that to good use on a funky, soulful, rocky and lysergic sounding song. It’s another hidden gem that’s a welcome addition to the compilation.

Closing Back On The Street Again (Australian Funk, Soul And Psych (Mostly) From The Festival Vaults) is a cover of The Beatles’ A Day In The Life from John Sangster’s sophomore album The Joker Is Wild. It was released on Festival Records in 1968, and is best described as acidic easy listening. In doing so, John Sangster stays true to psychedelic sound of the original.

Back On The Street Again (Australian Funk, Soul And Psych (Mostly) From The Festival Vaults) which was recently released by Festival, is without doubt, one of the best compilations of 2017 so far. It’s quality all the way, as DJ Kinetic introduces  the listener to twenty tracks from the sixties and seventies. This ranges from avant-garde, disco, easy listening, funk, jazz, progressive rock, psychedelia, rock and soul on this truly eclectic and captivating compilation. 

There’s contributions from familiar faces, new names and a few old friends. Most of these tracks are hidden gems, including several from artists who only released the one single. Others got as far as releasing an album, while some released two or more albums. Sometimes, the artists and bands who released just one or two albums, left behind innovative and groundbreaking albums. Many of these albums are now collector’s items, that change hands for large sums of money. 

Indeed, to buy copies of each of the singles or albums that the tracks from Back On The Street Again (Australian Funk, Soul And Psych (Mostly) From The Festival Vaults) were taken from, would cost upwards of £4,000. That’s if copies of the singles or albums could be found. Many are almost impossible to find, it’s highly unlikely that those who own them would be willing to sell. However, Back On The Street Again (Australian Funk, Soul And Psych (Mostly) From The Festival Vaults) gives everyone the opportunity to discover the delights of some of the hidden gems that are tucked away in the Festival Records’ vaults.

Back On The Street Again (Australian Funk, Soul And Psych (Mostly) From The Festival Vaults).

BIRTH OF SOUL: SPECIAL DETROIT EDITION 1961-64.

Birth Of Soul: Special Detroit Edition 1961-64.

Twenty-one years have passed since the very first instalment in the Birth Of Soul compilation series was released by Kent Soul in May 1996.  Birth Of Soul featured an impressive all-star lineup, that included many of the giants of soul. Bobby Bland rubbed shoulders with Otis Redding, Jerry Butler, Etta James, Sam Cooke, William Bell and The Impressions. With a track listing that featured a who’s who of soul, it was no surprise that Birth Of Soul was released to critical acclaim and was one of Kent Soul’s most successful compilations. Despite that, nobody thought that Birth Of Soul was the start of a compilation series that would still be going strong three decades later.

Especially when nearly two years passed before the release of Birth Of Soul-Volume Two in 1998. By then, it looked as if Birth Of Soul was a one-off compilation. Then came the release of Birth Of Soul-Volume Two in February 1998. It featured a mixture of old friends, familiar faces and new names. However, just like Birth Of Soul the emphasis was on quality, on a compilation that featured old favourites and hidden gems. Birth Of Soul-Volume Two proved popular not just amongst the soul community, but with music fans dipping their toe into soul music. The Birth Of Soul was a perfect place to start and became an important part in many a newcomer to soul’s musical education. They awaited the next instalment in the series. 

Over three-and-a-half years later, Birth Of Soul-Volume Three was released by Kent Soul in October 2001. Just like the previous volume in the series, Birth Of Soul-Volume Three featured contributions from familiar faces and new names. Old favourites joined hidden gems, while dancers and ballads rubbed shoulders. For veterans and newcomers to soul compilations, Birth Of Soul-Volume Three proved popular. The next instalment in the series was eagerly awaited 

2,059 days later, and Birth Of Soul-Volume Four was released in May 2007. Ady Croasdell had dug deep for the twenty-four tracks on Birth Of Soul-Volume Four. There were rarities, hidden gems and the usual smattering of familiar faces and old friends. Birth Of Soul-Volume Four was a welcome addition to the Birth Of Soul family.

So was Birth Of Soul: Special Chicago Edition, which was released in 2009. This was a celebration of the Windy City’s soulful past. After all, Chicago had been home Veejay, Kent, Okeh, ABC-Paramount, One-derful, Brunswick, Curtom, Chess and Cadet. Compiler Tony Rounce had plenty of music to choose from for this celebration of Chicago’s illustrious musical past. Eventually, he settled on an all-star lineup that included  Jerry Butler, Major Lance, Etta James,  Barbara Lewis, The Bells, Sugar Pie DeSanto and Gene Chandler.  This fifth instalment in the Birth Of Soul series proved a popular addition to Kent Soul’s long-running and successful series. 

Sadly, since the release of Birth Of Soul: Special Chicago Edition, there’s been no further instalments in the Birth Of Soul series. That was until recently, when Birth Of Soul: Special Detroit Edition 1961-64 was released by Kent Soul, which is an imprint of Ace Records. Just like Birth Of Soul: Special Chicago Edition, Birth Of Soul: Special Detroit Edition 1961-64 is a celebration of another of America’s soul capitals.

During the period that Birth Of Soul: Special Detroit Edition 1961-64 covers, the Detroit music scene was thriving. Especially on West Grand Boulevard, where the Motown soul factory continued to churn out its sanitised version of soul. This was proving popular on both sides of the Atlantic. Elsewhere in Motor City, many other smaller independent labels were blossoming. 

These labels were recording everything from blues and gospel to R&B and rock ’n’ roll. Other labels followed in the footsteps of Motown, and specialised in soul. This includes the labels that feature on Birth Of Soul: Special Detroit Edition 1961-64, which is the sixth instalment in the Birth Of Soul series. 

Birth Of Soul: Special Detroit Edition 1961-64 is a twenty-four track compilation that features Barbara Lewis, J. J. Barnes, Bettye LaVette, The Falcons, Priscilla Page, Laura Johnson, James Lately, The Pyramids, Tony Clarke, Geraldine Hunt and The Del-Phis. They’re just a few of the artists that feature on Birth Of Soul: Special Detroit Edition 1961-64.

The Sonnettes open Birth Of Soul: Special Detroit Edition 1961-64 with I Cried For My Last Time. This is an unreleased track that was recorded on Armen Boladian’s short-lived K.O. Records, which only ever released two singles, both by The Sonnettes. They released their debut single I’ve Gotten Over You in August 1962, but it failed commercially. When The Sonnettes entered the studio to record their sophomore single, they decided to record a song that Thelma Gordy cowrote, I Cried For The Last Time.  Sadly, the song was never released as a single, and has lain in the  K.O. Records’ vaults since then. That is a great shame. It features a vocal that’s an outpouring of emotion and the sweetest harmonies. They’re  a potent combination, which could’ve transformed the fortunes of  The Sonnettes, who released just one further single Hit And Run Lover.

By 1963, Barbara Lewis was an aspiring singer-songwriter who had signed to Atlantic Records a year earlier. She was back in Detroit to record her next single with the man that discovered her, Ollie McLaughlin. Barbara Lewis had penned Hello Stranger and Think A Little Sugar, When  Hello Stranger was released in March 1963, it gave Barbara Lewis her breakthrough single which reached number three on the US Billboard 100 and topped the US R&B charts. Tucked away on the B-Side was Think A Little Sugar, an uptempo, organ driven which showcases Barbara Lewis’ skills as a singer and songwriter.

Four years after embarking upon a solo career, J. J. Barnes signed to Scepter Records and was about to release Just One More Time as a single in January 1964. This was a song that J. J. Barnes cowrote, arranged and produced the single with former postman turned music magnet Fred Brown.  It was originally released on Detroit based label Mickays, in September 1963 and was picked up by local DJ Frantic Ernie Durham. Soon, the song was the toast ofWJLB. Not long after this,  Just One More Time was picked up by Scepter Records and should’ve been a game-changer. Alas, the single failed to find an audience, apart from in Ontario, Canada where it charted for a week on CKLW’s local charts. For J. J. Barnes, Just One More Time was the one that got away, and meant he never ever escaped the drudgery of the 9-5 in the Chrysler plant.

Sixteen year old Bettye LaVette made a breakthrough with in September 1962 with her debut single My Man-He’s A Lovin’ Man. Just under a year later, she returned with You’ll Never Change. Hidden away of the B-Side was the Jack Thomas and John Thornton composition Here I Am. It features a soulful powerhouse from the youthful Bettye LaVette, who would go on to enjoy a lengthy career.

Laura Johnson was a talented and versatile singer, who was capable of seamlessly switching between musical genres. Her career began in the late-fifties, and she sung at some of Detroit’s top clubs. In 1959, Laura Johnson opened for James Brown at Harlem Apollo. It looked like she was going up in the musical world. By 1962, she was no nearer to securing a recording contract. However, when she got at a job as a secretary at one Detroit’s nascent labels, it looked like Laura Johnson’s luck was changing. It wasn’t. She was so keen to record some songs, that she ended up funding the session. Backed by some of Motor City’s top musicians, Laura Johnson recorded I Know How It Feels, which was released in September 1962 on Brent. Although it featured a soul-baring vocal, commercial success eluded the single. Sadly, Laura Johnson’s recording career was over before it had even began, as she never recorded another single. I Know How It Feels is a reminder of a truly talented singer, Laura Johnson.

The Falcons recording career began in 1956, when they released : Baby That’s It on Mercury. Six years later and eight labels later, The Falcons signed to Atlantic Records. They released Fine, Fine Girl in October 1963, which featured Oh Baby on the B-Side. This was the stronger of the two sides. When Fine, Fine Girl was released, the single sunk without trace. How different things might have been if the Oh Baby had been released as a single? Maybe this heart-wrenching ballad would’ve brought success The Falcons’ way?

Melvin Davis was born in Georgia, but moved to Detroit when he was three. His career began in 1962, when he was twenty. This was the start of a long career for the singer, songwriter, drummer, horn player and producer. However, in 1963, Melvin Davis released Wedding Bells a song he wrote with Dave Hamilton on the Temple label. Commercial success eluded this single, which is one of several hidden gems on Birth Of Soul: Special Detroit Edition 1961-64.

Tony Clarke was born in New York, but grew up in Detroit. That was where his musical career began in 1962, when he released Cry on Armen Beladian’s Fascination label. Another song Tony Clarke recorded for Fascination was one of his compositions It’s Easy. It was never released, and makes a welcome debut on Birth Of Soul: Special Detroit Edition 1961-64. It’s Easy builds on the rock ’n’ roll sound of Cry. This is very different from the music that Tony Clarke would go on to records for Chess Records, after leaving Fascination.

Many of the record companies that sprung up across Detroit, were happy to record singles then sell them to a bigger label. This was what Wilburt Golder, the owner of the Correc-Tone label was doing in 1962.  He took The Donays into his studio to record a cover of Richard Drapkin’s Devil In His Heart. Not long after the sessions, Wilburt Golder  cut a deal with the Brent label. They released Devil In His Heart in August 1962, while Oriole released the single in Britain. While Devil In His Heart proved popular in Detroit, it also caught the attention of The Beatles. They recorded Devil In Her Heart, which featured on With The Beatles in November 1963. Sadly, by then The Donays had split-up. Their one and only single was their soulful take on Devil In His Heart

The Volumes were discovered by Detroit based musical impresario Willie ‘Tony’ Ewing, who signed them to his Chex label. It released their debut single I Love You in February 1962, which gave the band a nationwide hit.  Come Back Into My Heart was released as the followup in July 1962, but failed to replicate the success of I Love You. While this was a disappointment for The Volumes, they felt they weren’t receiving enough money from I Love You. This resulted in group parting company with Chex. After releasing two singles on Jubilee, The Volumes released Why on the Old Town label in January 1964. Although Why was stylistically similar to I Love You, it failed to replicate its success. Why was the one the got away for The Volumes, and is another welcome addition to Birth Of Soul: Special Detroit Edition 1961-64.

Although Chicago born Geraldine Hunt’s recording career began in the late-fifties, she didn’t embark upon a solo career until 1962 when she was seventeen. A year later, Geraldine Hunt released It Never Happened Before on the USA label in 1963. Despite being accompanied by an all-star band, It Never Happened Before failed to find an audience and is nowadays is a real rarity.

Closing Birth Of Soul: Special Detroit Edition 1961-64, is Nosey Folks, which was recorded by The Del-Phis before they signed to Motown. Nosey Folks was penned by Joseph Hunter with Martha Reeves. Once The Del-Phis signed to Motown, the group changed their name to Martha and The Vandellas. Nosey Folk has never been released before, and is essentially Martha and The Vandellas. before they found fame at the Motown soul factory.

Seven years after the last instalment in the Birth Of Soul series, Kent Soul, an imprint of Ace Records released Birth Of Soul: Special Detroit Edition 1961-64. It’s the second special edition, that’s been released. Last time, it featured the music of the Windy City. This time, Kent Soul turn their attention to Detroit, and show that Motor City had much more to offer than Motown. 

Many small labels had sprung up across the city, and Birth Of Soul: Special Detroit Edition 1961-64 features releases from these labels. While some of these artists went on to bigger and better things, others enjoyed never quite reached the heights their talent deserved. Sadly, some disappeared after releasing just one or two singles. They’ve all played a part of Detroit’s musical history and make a welcome comeback on Birth Of Soul: Special Detroit Edition 1961-64.

This is the sixth instalment in Kent Soul’s occasional series, Birth Of Soul. The Birth Of Soul series began in 1996, and twenty-one years later is still going strong. Recentlym Birth Of Soul: Special Detroit Edition 1961-64 was released, and features songs from old friends, familiar faces and new names. They contribute unreleased songs, B-Sides and a myriad of über soulful singes to Birth Of Soul: Special Detroit Edition 1961-64, which marks the welcome return of the Birth Of Soul series.

Birth Of Soul: Special Detroit Edition 1961-64.

DUENDE LIBRE-DUENDE LIBRE.

Duende Libre-Duende Libre.

Having graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Jazz Studies in 2003, keyboardist Alex Chadsey, like many new graduates, found himself wondering what the future held for him? He was a talented and versatile musician who was fluent in jazz and classical music, and was one of the beneficiaries and success stories of the conservatory-style music education. This would stand him in good stead as he embarked upon his music career. That was the theory. The only problem was Alex Chadsey was still undecided about his future. Eventually, he decided to head to Seattle, home of the Seahawks and Storm, and the birthplace of Jimi Hendrix, Ray Charles and grunge.

After arriving in The Emerald City, Alex Chadsey’s career took an expected twist. He turned his back on jazz and classical music, and joined a salsa band. Soon, he was a familiar face within Seattle’s salsa scene, playing in various bands. It was through playing in the salsa bands that Alex saw firsthand how music creates a sense of community. Soon, Alex was accepted into Seattle’s vibrant Latin music community, and his love of Latin music blossomed.

Salsa was merely a starting point for Alex, ands soon, he was digging deeper and deeper into the various sub-genres of Latin music. Alex remembers: “that started me on a steady diet of Latin music. I got to know and play with Joe Santiago, who’d worked with artists like Eddie Palmieri, Tito Puente, and Celia Cruz…That’s when it grabbed me. That’s almost all I played for several years. I really fell in love with it.” This was a turning point for Alex who now had a sense of purpose musically.

He had arrived in his Seattle looking for musical direction, and found it within the Latin music community. That was also where he met two likeminded musicians, Farko Dosumov and Jeff Busch, who both shared Alex’s love of Afro-Caribbean music. This was the start of a friendship and musical partnership.

Over the next few years, the three friends would often play and collaborate together.This included on Alex’s latest musical project Duende Libre, who will self-release their eponymous debut album on the ‘5th’ of May 2017 via the band’s website. Duende Libre is the first album from the multitalented triumvirate of Alex Chadsey, Farko Dosumov and Jeff Busch. Having met his future band mates, Alex’s career took an unexpected twist.

Not long after meeting Farko Dosumov and Jeff Busch, Alex got involved with the Seattle Fandango Project, which was originally founded by members of the Chicano rock band Quetzal. They’re one of the most innovative bands of all the Chicano bands. Through his work with the Seattle Fandango Project, Alex got to know the members of Quetzal, who invited him to share a stage with them. This lead to Alex contributing to Quetzal’s 2012 album ​Imaginaries. It was nominated for, and won the Grammy Award for the Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album in 2013. For Alex, the opportunity to work with Quetzal was in important part in his musical development.

“They opened my mind to the possibility that there’s so much more beyond the music itself. What a musician can do and say and the role they play. Reclaiming some of the power that the professionalisation and commodification of music has taken away.” With this in mind, Alex took a different approach after this.

Up until he played with Quetzal, Alex had relied upon his formal musical education. Soon, this began to change and his approach to music making moved away from his formal musical training, towards tradition, community and collective expression. This was partly the influence of his musical mentors from Mexico, Cuba, and Los Angeles” who “had a big impact on my music.” Through working and talking to them, Alex realised that they hadn’t benefited from the education he had.

“These mentors often had no formal training. That was not an impediment. They could express themselves in interesting and creative ways. There was a process of me, humbling myself to try to get past some of my training. I put myself in a position of learning from these folks, these keepers of strong and rich musical traditions.” This would influence Alex’s musical future and especially, his latest project Duende Libre.

Alex decided to found Duende Libre when he decided that he wanted to play more of his own compositions. Some of these compositions had been inspired and influenced by the Afro-Cuban and Latin music that Alex had studied and had grown to love over the last few years. All these traditional types of music would play their part in the musical tapestry that he would weave with Duende Libre over the next few weeks and months.

Joining Alex, who would play piano and keyboards in Duende Libre, were two of two of his closest friends from the Seattle music scene, bassist and vocalist Farko Dosumov and drummer and percussionist Jeff Busch. They had been invited to join the band, and were excited by Alex’s latest musical venture.

The three members of Duende Libre spent the next few months working on ideas for new songs. To do this, they used a digital audio workstation and loops. This allowed the three musicians to create the framework for songs that they were composing. Gradually, these songs started to take shape and Duende Libre began to demo them. Eventually, they became full-fledged songs, that would feature on Duende Libre. However, Alex’s approach to composition and arranging was quite different to what he had learnt at the University of Michigan.

He recounts: “I knew I didn’t want to come in with an 8-page score. In fact, I didn’t want the guys to have to read anything if possible. I wanted them to approach the music more intuitively.” This was no surprise, given his experience working with different bands and musicians.

This included the time Alex had spent working with Grammy Award winning band Quetzal. He had also worked extensively with legendary songwriter and reggae roots artist Clinton Fearon. Alex explains: “they don’t rely on notation. I eliminated the barrier. Reading music changes the way you play.” With that in mind, the three members of Duende Libre began preparing to record their debut album.

Eventually, Duende Libre were ready to record what would become their eponymous debut album. They booked two days at Studio Litho, and on the ‘5th’ of May 2016, Duende Libre arrived at the studio. Duende Libre planned to record eleven tracks that Alex had written over the course of the next two days. Joining them, was engineer Floyd Reitsma who would later mix the album. Before that, Alex also took charge of the production of Duende Libre’s eponymous genre-melting debut album. It was completed on schedule on the ‘6th’ of May 2016.

Another year will have passed before Duende Libre is eventually released. Just like many bands, Duende Libre decided to self-release their eponymous debut album through their own website on ‘7th’ of May 2017. It showcases Duende Libre’s unique brand of genre-melting music.

Alex was inspired to write Rio Pescadores which opens Duende Libre, after a trip to Veracruz, in Mexico. Straight away, Alex’s fingers fly across the piano, before the rhythm section provide the backdrop for the piano as it takes centre-stage. It’s joined by percussion and a bubbling bass as briefly, jazz gives way to Afro-Cuban music. Soon, it’s all change and the arrangement flows along as Duende Libre paint pictures with their music. Later, the tempo drops and the arrangement is almost stripped bare, as the music becomes ruminative. Gradually, it rebuilds, and soon, Duende Libre are in full flight,  showcasing their considerable skills. They feed off each other and play with freedom on this uplifting track that’s a reminder of the musical relationship between Veracruz and Cuba.

Joining Duende Libre on Forgotten Well, is singer, songwriter and musician Chava Mirel. As she harmonises, the arrangement has a mesmeric sound. This changes when the piano enters and is played with confidence. Still, Chava adds harmonies, until the tempo drops and the piano takes centre-stage, adding a quite beautiful, wistful backdrop. Meanwhile, the arrangement is understated. That changes midway through the track, when the bass and percussion play a more prominent role. By then, Alex adds flamboyant flourishes of piano as the rhythm section accompany him. He passes the baton, and the rest of Duende Libre enjoy their chance to shine, before the track reaches a wistful crescendo.

The introduction to Michel was inspired by a rhythm Duende Libre heard on a mid 20th-century Cuban record by blind pianist Frank Emilio Flynn. Soon, it’s all change as the rhythm section propel the arrangement along and jazz gives way to jazz funk and later, fusion. Meanwhile, Alex adds twinkling keyboards which adds a mid-seventies sound, as the arrangement breezes along. Later, the arrangement becomes understated, before Farko adds a fleet fingered bass solo. Then the arrangement rebuilds and Duende Libre are in full flight. Alex’s piano takes centre-stage, and is augmented by the rhythm section. Jeff
concentrates on the cymbals and percussion, and later enjoy his moment in the spotlight when the band improvise. He pounds his drums before twinkling keyboards disappear into the distance on this genre-melting epic.

Funkination pays homage to the eighties, when 808s keyboard-driven riffs were the order of the day. Shimmering keyboards reverberate, providing a spacey backdrop before the rhythm section, complete with bubbling bass, lock into a groove. Alex’s glistening keyboards join the rhythm section and percussion, before the keyboards takes on an eighties sound. It’s the musical equivalent of time-travel, as the arrangement flows along to the beat of the drum. After a brief pause, shimmering seventies keyboards join with the rest of Duende Libre. They flit between jazz funk an fusion, before a harder funky sound emerges. This comes courtesy of the unmistakable sound of an 808. Proving a contrast, are synth strings, which are another reminder of the eighties, as Duende Libre’ revisit the past on this captivating musical adventure.

Razzle Dazzle is a much more experimental sounding track Alex eplains: “I was trying to see if I could write something in an odd meter that still grooves hard, that didn’t feel mathematical.” That isn’t the case, the tempo drops and glistening keyboards join the pedestrian rhythm section. Although they play slowly, there’s still a fluidity and freedom in their playing. When the time signature changes, there’s still a fluidity as the arrangement swings. Meanwhile, Alex unleashes a solo on his keyboards and is joined by the rhythm section. Soon, they drop the tempo, before the keyboards then bass enjoy their moment in the sun and showcase their skill and versatility. Later, a four second pause allows Duende Libre to regroup, before they reach a crescendo on what’s without doubt one of the most innovative and experimental tracks on the album, and one that grooves hard.

There’s an element of drama as Sevilla unfolds, with Alex’s piano joining the rhythm section and percussion. Soon, jazz and Afro-Cuban combine to create expressive, emotive and dramatic music as the arrangement ebbs and flows. For the first three minutes, the piano takes centre-stage, before the baton passes bassist Farko Dosumov. He scats above his tight, propulsive bass line while percussion and piano accompany him. After this, the band reunite and Afro-Cuban rhythms give way to jazz as the music becomes dreamy and flows along. That’s until the next irresistible excursion into Afro-Cuban music where Duende Libre again, showcase their talent and versatility.

From the opening bars of Moon Waltz, it’s apparent that a beautiful track is about to unfold. The piano leads the way, while the rhythm section provide an understated accompaniment. That is all that’s required, even when Alex plays the tempo rises and Alex adds flamboyant flourishes of piano. Still, the rhythm section take care not to overpower the piano. Later it leaves space for Farko to scat, before he adds one of his bubbling bass solos. Meanwhile, Jeff flits between percussion and drums, before the piano returns and takes centre-stage. Its played with confidence, before joining with the rhythm section to produce a ruminative backdrop to this beautiful track.

Chava Mirel returns on the joyous sounding For The Rekkerd. It bursts into life, with the rhythm section and keyboards powering the arrangement along. Meanwhile, Chava adds an ethereal and soulful scat, while Alex’s keyboards provide the perfect accompaniment. When the vocal drops out, the arrangement heads in the direction of jazz funk and even fusion. Soon, though, bassist Farko is adding one of his finest solos. When the baton passes to Alex, he’s inspired and plays with speed and accuracy as percussion accompanies him. Later, Chava returns and with Duende Libre powering the arrangement along, delivers her most soulful scat.

The influence of a track by Salif Keita provided the initial inspiration for Salif. It’s a wistful, ruminative track which features a lone piano. Then midway through the track, the piano gives way to shakers and bass. When the piano returns, it plays a supporting role, before taking centre-stage playing in this beautiful, mediative, melancholy and cinematic track. 

Still shows yet another side to musical chameleons Duende Libre. The introduction gives no hint of what’s about to unfold. A scrabbled bass teases the listener as the arrangement meanders along. Then at 1.22 Duende Libre kick loose. The rhythm section provide the backdrop for the glistening keyboards, before the Hammond organ takes charge and powers the genre-melting arrangement. It already features elements of jazz, jazz funk, funk and soul jazz. Sometimes, flamboyant flourishes of Hammond organ are added, as genres melt into one. Later, though, the arrangement takes on a much more understated sound as Farko’s bass and scat take centre-stage. Gradually, the irresistible arrangement rebuilds, as Afro-Cuban rhythms are added. They’re the final piece of the musical jigsaw, which is akin to a call to dance.

Sinister Minister which closes Duende Libre, sees the tempo drop. Jangling, angular percussion joins the rhythm section glistening keyboards. Duende Libre play with a freedom and fluidity, as the mid-tempo arrangement ebbs and flows. It veers between jazz to jazz funk and fusion. By then, the keyboards lock into a groove with the bass and create an edgy backdrop for Farko’s distant scat. Soon, galloping percussion appears, disappears and reappears as the rhythm section join with the keyboards. Later, though, it’s all change as the piano makes a welcome appearance, and is played confidently, as it dominates the arrangement. The rhythm section lift their game, and join with the piano in powering the arrangement along. Then with thirty-seconds remaining, the arrangements dissipates, leaving just a memory of what’s one of the highlights of Duende Libre.

After eleven genre-melting tracks lasting nearly sixty-eight minutes, Duende Libre’s eponymous is over. It showcases the considerable talent and versatility of three experienced musicians. They seamlessly flit between musical genres, and play with freedom and fluidity throughout Duende Libre. There’s also an intuitiveness to Duende Libre’s playing.

That is a result of Alex’s determination to eliminate barriers, which would allow the members of Duende Libre to express themselves. To do this, Alex didn’t want the other members of Duende Libre reading music, which could stifle their performance. Instead, he encouraged his bandmates to rely on their intuition and play with an inventiveness, freedom and fluidity. This succeed in doing throughout Duende Libre, which is a truly eclectic and groundbreaking album.

Duende Libre features a myriad of disparate genres, which can be heard throughout the album. This ranges from Afro-Cuban and experimental to funk, fusion and jazz. There’s also elements jazz funk, Latin, soul and soul jazz on Duende Libre. Sometimes, several genres melt into one in the one track. However, this all makes perfect musical sense, and is all part of Duende Libre’s captivating musical journey.

Sometimes, this musical journey becomes a magical mystery tour, as Duende Libre throw curveballs and spring surprises. It’s a case of expect the unexpected, as Duende Libre keep the listener on their toes. Other times, the music is variously beautiful, cinematic, melodic, ruminative and wistful. Sometimes, though, the music is inspirational, irresistible and joyous on an album where no two tracks are same.

What all the tracks on Duende Libre have in common, is that Alex Chadsey, Farko Dosumov and Jeff Busch have pushed musical boundaries to their limits in the pursuit of an album of groundbreaking and genre-melting music. This they succeed in doing on Duende Libre, which is a heady and irresistible musical brew.

Duende Libre-Duende Libre.

 

 

TO LOVE SOMEBODY:THE SONGS OF THE BEE GEES 1965-1970.

To Love Somebody: The Songs Of The Bee Gees 1966-1970.

During a career that spanned the best part of fifty years, the Bee Gees released twenty-two albums and sold 220 million records worldwide. Despite that, Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb considered themselves first and foremost as songwriters. That was certainly the case between 1967 and 1970, when the great and good of music covered songs written by the Bee Gees. This includes the twenty-four artists that feature on To Love Somebody: The Songs Of The Bee Gees 1966-1970, which was recently released by Ace Records.

To Love Somebody: The Songs Of The Bee Gees 1966-1970 is the latest instalment in Ace Records’ long running Songwriter Series. It pays homage to some of greatest songwriting partnerships in the history of popular music. This time, the spotlight is shawn on the Gibb brothers during what was one of the most creative period of their long and illustrious careers. That was why some of the biggest names in music covered songs penned by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb.

This included Al Green, James Carr, Percy Sledge, Nina Simone, Bettye Swann, Sidewalk Society, Sandie Shaw, Status Quo, David Garrick, John Holt and Jose Feliciano. The Bee Gees’ songs were being covered by all types of artists, ranging from jazz, pop and psychedelia, to reggae, rock and soul. Especially soul singers; with many members of soul royalty dipping into the Gibb brothers’ songbook in search of a hit single. That was no surprise, given the 

quality of songs the Gibbs were writing. They penned several classic songs during this period, and they feature on To Love Somebody: The Songs Of The Bee Gees 1966-1970. It features a myriad of musical delights.

Opening To Love Somebody: The Songs Of The Bee Gees 1966-1970 is World, which in 1968 was covered by one of music’s rising stars Sharon Tandy. She had moved from South Africa to Britain in 1964, and within a year, had released her debut single in 1965. By 1966, Sharon Tandy was recording for Stax Records, and in 1967, signed to Atlantic Records.  In January 1967, Sharon Tandy released Fool On The Hill. On the B-Side of the American version, which was released on Atco, was  a cover of World which was produced by Richard Hill. His impressive and carefully crafted arrangement is the perfect accompaniment to Sharon Tandy’s emotive, soulful vocal. Nine months later, Sharon Tandy returned with her freakbeat classic Hold On in October 1968. It shows a very different side her soulful take on the Gibb brothers’ World.

When Al Green released his fourth album Let’s Stay Together in 1972, it proved to be his breakthrough album. It reached number eight in the US Billboard 200, number one in the US R&B charts and was certified gold. One of the highlights of Let’s Stay Together was How Can You Mend A Broken Heart, which is six minutes of heartbreak, hurt and regret.

James Carr never enjoyed the commercial success his considerable talents deserved, despite being one of the greatest Southern Soul singers. Sadly, James Carr was a trouble soul and suffered from mental health problems throughout his career. At what proved to be his final Goldwax session, James Carr wasn’t in the best of health. He was suffering baldy from depression, and cut a lonely figure as he sat in studio surrounded by some of Memphis’ top session players. Despite his failing health, James Carr managed to record one song, his soul-baring cover of To Love Somebody. When it was released as a single in 1969, it reached number forty-four in the US R&B charts. Forty-eight years later, and Jams Carr’s cover of To Love Somebody is without doubt, the definitive version of the song. Nothing Else comes close.

Bettye Swann’s career began in 1963 when she signed to Money Records. Four years later, in April 1967, Bettye released Make Me Yours as a single. When it reached number one on the US R&B charts and number twenty-one on the US Billboard 100, it gave Bettye her third and biggest hit single. A year later, and Bettye left Money Records and signed to Capitol Records, where she released two albums during 1969. This included The Soul View Now! which features Bettye’s heartfelt rendition of Words. It veers between hopeful to rueful, as Bettye breathes emotion and meaning into the lyrics. It’s one of the The Soul View Now!’s finest moments. Sadly, seven years later, in 1976, Bettye turned her back on music after the death of her husband. 

In 1970, The Staple Singers headed to Muscle Shoals to record a new album with Al Bell. This would mark the debut of Yvonne Staples, who had replaced her brother Pervis in the family group. The new lineup of The Staple Singers recorded twelve songs that became The Staple Singers. It was released in 1971 and reached 

117 in the US Billboard and nine in the US R&B charts. One of the highlights of the album was Give A Hand-Take A Hand which features The Staple Singers at their soulful best. Especially Mavis Stapes, who delivers a vocal masterclass. 

Marbles hailed from Skegness, in Lincolnshire and featured future Rainbow frontman Graham Bonnet. However, when Robert Stigwood first encountered the group, they were called Bonar Law. He suggested they change their name to Marbles, when he became their manager. Soon, Robert Stigwood sent the newly named Marbles into the studio to record a string-drenched version of the power ballad Only One Woman. When Marbles signed to Polydor, Only One Woman became their debut single. It reached number five in the UK charts in late 1968, and was perfect showcase for Graham Bonnet’s powerhouse of a vocal. 

Although Sandie Shaw had been a fixture in the British charts since 1965, her big break came when the won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1967 with Puppet On String. Two years later, Sandie Shaw returned with her seventh album for Pye Records Reviewing The Situation. It featured  a beautiful, wistful and emotive cover of With The Sun In My Eyes.

Having left Manfred Mann in 1966, Paul Jones embarked upon a solo career.  Two years later, he released the Peter Asher produced And The Sun Will Shine on Columbia. It was recorded at Abbey Road, with a supergroup accompanying Paul Jones. Jeff Beck, Nicky Hopkins, Paul Samwell-Smith and Paul McCartney all featured on And The Sun Will Shine. Despite his illustrious backing back, And The Sun Will Shine was the one that got away for Paul Jones. It’s a hidden gem, that makes a welcome appearance on To Love Somebody: The Songs Of The Bee Gees 1966-1970.

After several names changes, Status Quo was born in 1967. They released their debut single Pictures Of Matchstick Men later that year. A year later, Status Quo released their debut album Picturesque Matchstickable Messages From The Status Quo, on Pye Records in 1968. It showcased one of the rising stars of British psychedelia. Especially the lysergic and cinematic sounding Spicks And Specks, which is a reminder of Status Quo at the beginning of a long and successful career.

After two years as the lead singer of The Techniques, Pat Kelly embarked upon a solo career. By 1978, he had signed to the Third World label, and was about to release his fifth album Give Love A Try. It featured I Started A Joke which Pat Kelly gives a lover’s rock makeover.

When John Holt was recording his 1973 landmark album 1000 Volts Of Holt for Trojan Records, one of the songs he covered was Morning Of My Life. It’s also given a lovers rock makeover, and shows a different side to this familiar song.

Puerto Rican guitarist, singer and composer José Feliciano, closes To Love Somebody: The Songs Of The Bee Gees 1966-1970 with First Of May. It featured on José Feliciano’s album of cover versions  10 To 23, which was released by RCA Victor in 1969. First Of May was one of the highlights of the album and featured an impassioned vocal from José Feliciano. It’s a beautiful way to close the compilation that pays homage to the Gibb brothers songwriting skills.

While Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb considered themselves first and foremost as songwriters, most people regarded them as recording artists. That was no surprise, given the Bee Gees had been together nearly fifty years and released twenty-albums. These albums sold by the million. By the time, the Bee Gees’ career was over, they had sold 220 million records worldwide and enjoyed three number one singles in Britain and nine in America. Elsewhere, the Bee Gees were a hit making machine. It’s almost understandable that the Gibb brothers are perceived primarily as recording artists.  However, that may change having heard To Love Somebody: The Songs Of The Bee Gees 1966-1970 with First Of May.

The twenty-four songs on To Love Somebody: The Songs Of The Bee Gees 1966-1970 are just a small selection of the Gibb brother’s compositions covered during this period. Many other artists dipped into the Gibb brothers’ songbook, in search of a hit single. So much so, that Ace Records could potentially release a followup to To Love Somebody: The Songs Of The Bee Gees 1966-1970.

This period covers just a small period of the Gibb brothers’ career. They continued to write songs together throughout their long and illustrious career.  However, one of the most productive periods of the Gibb brothers’ career was between 1967 and 1970. It’s documented on To Love Somebody: The Songs Of The Bee Gees 1966-1970, when the Gibb brothers were enjoying a rich vein of form creatively.

To Love Somebody: The Songs Of The Bee Gees 1966-1970.

THE ANIMALS’ SIXTIES’ HEYDAY.

The Animals’ Sixties’ Heyday.

A lot can happen to a band in just five years.  The Animals were proof of this. They released their eponymous debut album in September 1964, and over the next few years, became one of the biggest British Invasion bands. However, by 1969, The Animals’ story was over. By then, the seven separate lineups of The Animals had released ten albums since the group had had been formed in 1962.

That was when The Animals were formed in Newcastle, England. However, The Animals roots can be traced to a band that that had been formed four years earlier, in 1958, The Alan Price Rhythm and Blues Combo.

They were popular within the Newcastle area, in the late-fifties and early sixties. However, by 1962, music was changing, and changing fast. The Beatles had burst onto the scene, and this was a game-changer. So in 1963, The Alan Price Rhythm and Blues Combo decided to add a vocalist to their lineup.

The man they chose was Eric Burdon. He joined a rhythm section of drummer John Steel, bassist Bryan “Chas” Chandler and guitarist Hilton Valentine. Completing the lineup,  was organist and the man who lent his name to the Combo, Alan Price. However, not for long.

Not long after Eric Burdon joined the band, The Alan Price Rhythm and Blues Combo decided to change their name to something more rock ’n’ roll, The Animals. They set about making their presence felt in the Newcastle music scene.

Soon, The Animals were one of the most popular local bands. Their fiery sets of saw The Animals fusing electric blues and rock. This proved popular, and won over audiences night after night. Each night, The Animals’ sets were combination ran through covers of songs recorded by blues greats like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker and Jimmy Reed. This struck a nerve with audiences in their home city. However, The Animals had set their sights higher than being a big fish in a small pond.

In 1964, The Animals made the decision to move to London. By then,  The Animals had struck up a relationship with music impresario Giorgio Gomelsky. He owned the Crawdaddy Club, and for a time managed the Rolling Stones, who were the club’s house band. However, by 1964, the Rolling Stones had gone on to bigger things. Soon, so would The Animals.

Not long after The Animals moved to London, they were signed by Columbia Records. Quickly, The Animals repaid Columbia Records’ faith in them. Their debut single Baby Let Me Take You Home was produced by producer and pop impresario Mickie Most. When the single was released in March 1964, it reached twenty-one on the UK singles charts. Success had come quickly for The Animals in Britain. America was a different proposition though.

Five months later, and Baby Let Me Take You Home was released in America, but stalled at 102 in the US Billboard 100. Soon, though, The Animals would be one of the biggest British Invasion bands.

Three months later, in June 1964, The Animals released The House Of The Rising Sun as a single. This traditional song transformed The Animals’ career it when it reached number one in Britain, America, Canada, Australia and Sweden. Elsewhere, including Germany and Holland, The House Of The Rising Sun gave The Animals a top ten single. They were well on their way to becoming one of the biggest bands on both sides of the Atlantic.

The Animals.

Given the success of The House Of The Rising Sun, The Animals were sent into the studio to record an album with producer Mickie Most. Columbia wanted an album quickly, to build on the success of The House Of The Rising Sun.

Twelve songs were chosen and would become The Animals. The songs included old blues and R&B numbers, and was a reminder of The Animals’ musical roots. Among the songs that were chosen were Ray Charles’ Talkin’ About You Baby,  John Lee Hooker’s Mad Again, Fats Domino’s I’ve Been Around. It was joined I’m in Love Again which Fats Domino wrote with Dave Bartholomew. Two Chuck Berry’ songs were chosen, Around and Around and Memphis, Tennessee. They joined The Animals first two singles Baby Let Me Take You Home and The House Of The Rising Sun. These songs became The Animals eponymous debut album. It was released later in 1964.

Before that, critics reviewed The Animals debut album. It was mostly well received, and showcased what The Animals as a band were about. The Animals was then released in Britain and America in September 1964.

On both sides of the Atlantic, The Animals built on the success of The House Of The Rising Sun. The Animals reached number six in the UK and seven in the US Billboard 200. This was the start of rise and rise of The Animals to become one of the most successful British Invasion groups.

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Animal Tracks.

Just eight months later, The Animals released their sophomore album Animal Tracks. It had been recorded during 1964 and 1965, and mostly, followed in the footsteps of The Animals’ eponymous debut album.

Mainly, Animal Tracks was another album of covers of R&B and blues. This included Chuck Berry’s How You’ve Changed, Ray Charles’  Hallelujah I Love Her So, Big Maceo Merriweather’s Worried Life Blues, Clarence Carter’s I Ain’t Got You, Jimmy Reed’s Bright Lights, Big City and Bo Diddley’s Roadrunner. There was also a cover of Shirley Goodman and Leonard Lee’s Let The Good Times Roll, which Ray Charles made famous. However, tucked away on side two of Animal Tracks, was the first song penned by a member of The Animals.

It was Eric Burdon who was the first member of The Animals to write a song for an Animals’ album. His contribution was For Miss Caulker. This was just the start of Eric Burdon’s songwriting career, which blossomed over the new few years. Before that, Animal Tracks was recorded with producer Mickie Most. Once the album was complete, it was released in Britain in May 1965.

Unlike the reviews of their eponymous debut album, Animal Tracks wasn’t as well received by critics. Some of the songs were as strong as those on The Animals. They lacked the quality and energy. However, this didn’t bother record buyers.

When Animal Tracks was released in  May 1965, it reached number six in the UK. However, Animal Tracks wasn’t released in America until September 1965, but reached just fifty-seven in the US Billboard 200. Before Animal Tracks was released in America, The Animals released their American sophomore album The Animals On Tour.

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The Animals On Tour.

After the released of their eponymous debut on both sides of the Atlantic, The Animals ‘ popularity soared stateside. They quickly became one of the most popular and successful British Invasion groups. So a decision was made to record an album that would only be released in America, The Animals On Tour.

This was the start of confusing time for fans of The Animals. Albums were released in Britain and America at different times.  Some albums, including The Animals On Tour weren’t officially released in Britain. The first album that wasn’t officially released in Britain, was The Animals On Tour.

Given the title, many record buyers thought The Animals On Tour was a live album. It wasn’t. Instead, it was another album of cover versions. Some of the tracks had featured on Animal Tracks, including Chuck Berry’s How You’ve Changed, Ray Charles’  Hallelujah I Love Her So, Big Maceo Merriweather’s Worried Life Blues, Calvin Carter’s I Ain’t Got You, Jimmy Reed’s Bright Lights, Big City and Bo Diddley’s Roadrunner. There was also a cover of Shirley Goodman and Leonard Lee’s Let The Good Times Roll. They rubbed shoulders with John Lee Hooker’s Boom Boom and Dimples, which he wrote with James Bracken. The only new track on The Animals On Tour was an Eric Burdon and Alan Price composition I’m Crying. These twelve tracks were recorded in 1964 and produced by Mickie Most. 

The Animals On Tour was released in March 1964, the same times as Animal Tracks was released in Britain. Doubtless copies of Animal Tracks made their way across the Atlantic, where fans of The Animals were in for a surprise. Both albums featured a number of similar tracks.  So it was no surprise that The Animals On Tour stalled at a lowly ninety-nine in the US Billboard 200. This was a disappointing outcome for The Animals.

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What was a bigger disappointment was when of organist Alan Price quit The Animals in May 1965. Tension had been building within the band for some time.  They had also been touring almost non stop. The constant touring made things worse, as Alan Price had a a fear of flying. So when he left The Animals, reasons cited were personal and musical differences, plus Alan Price’s fear of flying. This was a huge blow for The Animals.

Mick Gallagher stepped into the fray, and replaced Alan Price on a temporary. This was only until Dave Rowberry joined The Animals and became their keyboardist. This was the start of a new era for The Animals.

Things improved for The Animals when Animal Tracks was released in America in September 1965.  It reached fifty-seven in the US Billboard 200. That was despite many of the tracks on Animal Tracks having already featured on The Animals On Tour. It seemed that The Animals were still one of the most popular and prolific British Invasion bands.

The Animals had released three albums in America in the space of a year. Each album had sold well, and by late 1965, The Animals were one of the most popular British Invasion bands. They were rubbing shoulders withThe Kinks and The Who, and had set their sights on The Beatles and Rolling Stones. If all went well, The Animals could be one of the biggest British bands of the sixties. However, the pressure continued to build as The Animals began to work on their new American album, Animalization.

Animalization.

When work began on Animalization, the lineup of The Animals featured a rhythm section of drummer John Steel, bassist Bryan “Chas” Chandler and guitarist Hilton Valentine. Completing the lineup, were vocalist Eric Burdon and keyboardist Dave Rowberry. They chosen twelve songs that became Animalization.

Just like previous albums, the majority of Animalisms featured cover versions. This included covers of  soul, blues and R&B songs. Among them, were Joe Tex’s One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show, John Lee Hooker’s Maudie, Chuck Berry’s Sweet Little Sixteen, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ I Put a Spell on You and Alonzo Tucker and Jackie Wilson’s Squeeze Her, Tease Her. Joining the nine cover versions were a trio songs penned by members of The Animals.

Eric Burdon and new keyboardist Dave Rowberry formed a new songwriting partnership, penning You’re On My Mind and She’ll Return It. Dave Rowberry also wrote Clappin’. The Animals’ newest member was making his presence felt. Soon, though Dave Rowberry was no longer the new member of The Animals.

When recording of Animalization began, work began on laying down twelve tracks with producer Mickie Most. Dave Rowberry made his Animals’ debut, adding keyboards. However, with eight tracks recorded, drummer John Steel quit. He was replaced by Barry Jenkins, who featured on Don’t Bring Me Down, Cheating, See See Rider and She’ll Return It. Once the album was complete, Animalization was released in June 1966.

Prior to the release of Animalization, reviews of the album were published. They were mostly positive, with some of the reviews calling Animalisms one of The Animals’ best albums. Elements of blues, rock, R&B and soul were combined by The Animals. The only problem was, The Animals were still too reliant on cover versions. Maybe the Eric Burdon and Dave Rowberry songwriting partnership would flourish? That was in the future.

When Animalization was released in America, the album reached number twenty in the US Billboard 200, and became The Animals’ second biggest selling American album. Now they had to build on the success of Animalization.

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Animalisms (US Version).

Just four months later, The Animals released an American version of Animalisms. It featured an alternative track listing, which featured twelve cover versions. They were an eclectic selection of songs.

Frank Zappa’s All Night Long sat side by side with Sam Cooke’s Shake, Fred Neil’s The Other Side of This Life, Howlin’ Wolf’s Smokestack Lightnin’, Percy Mayfield’s Hit The Road Jack, Muddy Water’s Louisiana Blues and Donovan’s Hey Gyp. These songs were recorded during July 1966.

The recording session took place at Lansdowne Recording Studio, in London, England and T.T.G, Hollywood, in California. Tom Wilson took charge of production. He gave The Animals more freedom to express themselves artistically. They embraced this opportunity on what was the last session that featured drummer Barry Jenkins. He played on ten tracks, with John Steel playing on Outcast and That’s All I Am to You. When the sessions were complete, Animalisms was released on 21st November 1966.

When critics heard Animalisms they were impressed with the album, which found The Animals relishing their new found artistic freedom. They flit seamlessly between musical genres on Animalisms. Sadly, when Animalisms was release, it failed to chart. This was a huge disappointment. However, the times they were a changing for The Animals.

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When a cover of the blues classic See See Rider was released, the group were now billed as Eric Burdon and The Animals. This lineup was short-lived and split-up in September 1966. The Animals’ career was over after just two years.

Eric Burdon and The Animals.

A new chapter in The Animals’ story began shortly thereafter. Eric Burdon began putting together a new band. Drummer Barry Jenkins was the first person recruited by Eric Burdon for his new band.

This new band became Eric Burdon and The Animals, who musically had undergone a Damascene conversion musically. Previously, Eric Burdon had a been a disciple of hard driving blues. Not any longer. He decided to incorporate his take on psychedelic rock into Eric Burdon and The Animals’ music. This began on their debut album Eric Is Here.

While Eric Burdon and The Animals was a new band, not all members of the band featured on the band’s debut album Eric Is Here. It comprised entirely of twelve cover versions. This time around, Eric Burdon was relying on many Brill Building songwriters. This included Goffin and King’s On this Side of Goodbye, Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil’s It’s Not Easy and Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart’s In The Night. Three Randy Newman songs were also chosen, including Mama Told Me Not To Come, I Think It’s Going To Rain Today and Wait Till Next Year. These songs were quite unlike what The Animals had previously covered. However, this was a new beginning for Eric Burdon and The Animals.

What didn’t change was that Tom Johnson produced Eric Is Here. He brought onboard an orchestra, who accompanied Eric Burdon and The Animals. They combined  blues rock, R&B psychedelic rock and rock on Eric Is Here. Alas, it was neither a potent nor heady brew.

When Eric Is Here was released, only Eric Band and Barry Jenkins were credited as having played on the album.  It proved to be an inauspicious start to Eric Burdon and The Animals’ career. Neither critics nor record buyers were won over by Eric Is Here. The reviews of Eric Is Here included some of the worst that any Animals album had received. Things got were when Eric Is Here was released in March 1967. The album stalled at a lowly 121 in the US Billboard 200. Across the Atlantic, Eric Is Here failed to chart in Britain. All that Eric Burdon could hope, that things would improve when Eric Burdon and The Animals released their sophomore album, Winds Of Change.

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Winds Of Change.

Following the disappointment of Eric Is Here, Eric Burdon began putting together Eric Burdon and The Animals. Joining  drummer Barry Jenkins in the rhythm section was bassist Danny McCulloch and guitarist Vic Briggs. The final piece of the jigsaw was John Weider, who played electric violin. Now  Eric Burdon and The Animals could begin to move towards psychedelic rock on their sophomore album Winds Of Change.

On their previous album Eric Is Here, Eric Burdon and The Animals had just toyed with psychedelic rock. Not this time. psychedelic rock. Eric Burdon and The Animals wrote ten new tracks, and covered Mick Jagger and Keith Richards’ Paint It Black. Producing Winds Of Change was Tom Johnson.

Recording of Winds Of Change took place over a two week period in March 1967, at TTG Studios in Los Angeles. That was where Eric Burdon and The Animals recorded their hard rocking cover of Paint It Black. The rest of Winds Of Change was the most psychedelic album Eric Burdon and The Animals recorded and released.

Winds Of Change was released in September 1967, but before that, critics lavished the album with critical acclaim. It was Eric Burdon and The Animals at their most psychedelic, on what was one of their best albums. Among the highlights were Winds Of Change and  Yes I Am Experienced which was Eric Burdon and The Animals’ answer to the Jimi Hendrix Experience. The quality continued on San Franciscan Nights, Good Times and the album closer, It’s All Meat. It found Eric Burdon and The Animals at their most psychedelic. After a false start, Eric Burdon and The Animals had returned with a career defining album.

When Winds Of Change was released in September 1967, it reached forty-two in the US Billboard 200, but failed to chart in Britain. Despite that, it looked as if Eric Burdon and The Animals might go on to reach the heights that The Animals reached between 1964 and 1966. The new group certainly had the talent, and had something that The Animals lacked. Eric Burdon and The Animals featured five talented songwriters. They would put their songwriting skills to good use on The Twain Shall Meet.

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The Twain Shall Meet.

For the very first time in the history of The Animals and Eric Burdon and The Animals,  an entire album was written by members of the band. This was a first. No longer were Eric Burdon and The Animals reliant on old blues or R&B songs. Gone also, were the days when Eric Burdon and The Animals relied upon songs by Brill Building songwriters. The Twain Shall Meet was written by the five members of Eric Burdon and The Animals. 

Among the songs they wrote for The Twain Shall Meet was Monterey, a celebration of 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. Sky Pilot Parts 1 & 2) was an anti Vietnam War song, which would give Eric Burdon and The Animals  a number fourteen hit single in the US Billboard 200. It tapped into the mood of the American nation. These songs were recorded in December 1967.

When the recording began, Tom Wilson returned to produce The Twain Shall Meet. This time though, two vocalist were used on The Twain Shall Meet. Eric Burdon took charge of the vocals on five  songs, while bassist Danny McCulloch added the vocals on Just the Thought and Orange and Red Beam. These seven songs were completed later in December 1967, and released in April 1968.

Unlike Winds Of Change which was released to critical acclaim, The Twain Shall Meet received mixed reviews. One of the fiercest critics of The Twain Shall Meet was Rolling Stone magazine. This was disappointing for Eric Burdon and The Animals.

So was the performance of The Twain Shall Meet.  It was only released. When it was released in March 1967, Eric Burdon and The Animals’ third album stalled at just seventy-nine in the US Billboard 200, but failed to chart in Britain. The only small crumb of comfort was the performance of the singles.

Monterey was the lead single, and fifteen in the US Billboard 100. The followup Anything, reached just a lowly eighty in the US Billboard 100. However, Sky Pilot then reached number fifteen in the US Billboard 100 and forty in the Britain. Two top twenty singles almost made-up for The Twain Shall Meet stalling a seventy-nine in the US Billboard 200. Maybe Eric Burdon and The Animals’ next album, Every One of Us, would be bigger success?

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Every One of Us.

1968 was without doubt, the busiest year of Eric Burdon and The Animals’ career. They released a trio of albums. The second album in the trio was Every One of Us, which was recently reissued by BGO Records. It’s a welcome reissue, because when Eric Burdon and The Animals released Every One of Us, it was never released in Britain. 

Eric Burdon and The Animals were never as popular as The Animals in Britain. None of their albums had charted in Britain. It was very different to when The Animals enjoyed three top ten albums. That was the past, and the past was another country for Eric Burdon and The Animals.

When work began on Every One of Us, Eric Burdon and The Animals were now a sextet. Zoot Money, a British vocalist and keyboardist  had joined the band. The addition of a new band member was risky. There was always the potential that it would upset the equilibrium of the band. Especially since the band had been working well together, and had written two albums. This changed on Every One of Us.

For Every One of Us, which featured seven tracks, Eric Burdon wrote much of the album He penned White Houses, Uppers and Downers, The Immigrant Lad, The Year Of The Guru and cowrote New York 1963-America 1968 with Zoot Money. Eric Burdon also arranged the traditional song St. James Infirmary Blues. The only song that Eric Burdon didn’t play a part in was Serenade To A Sweet Lady. It was written by John Weider. These seven songs would become Every One of Us.

When recording of Every One of Us began, there was no sign of producer Tom Wilson. Instead, Eric Burdon and The Animals produced For Every One of Us. By then, the rhythm section consisted of drummer Barry Jenkins, bassist and 12-string guitarist Danny McCulloch and guitarist and bassist Vic Briggs. John Weider switched between guitar and celeste and Zoots Money played Hammond organ and piano. This time round, Eric Burdon took charge of all the vocals. Once Every One of Us was complete, it was scheduled for release later in 1968.

When Every One of Us was released in August 1968, this accomplished album of psychedelic blues stalled at just 152 in the US Billboard 200. This was a huge disappointment, considering the quality of the music and musicianship. The critics had thought that Every One of Us would fare much better. Things didn’t improve when White House was released as a single. It reached just sixty-seven in the US Billboard 100. For Eric Burdon and The Animals this just rubbed salt into their wounds.

Especially since Eric Burdon and The Animals had released what was without doubt, one of their finest albums since the release of Eric Is Here in March 1967. The only album that surpasses Every One of Us, is Winds Of Change which was released in September 1967. Given the quality of music on Every One of Us, it was a frustrating time for Eric Burdon and The Animals. However, soon, they began work on their third album of 1968. Love Is. 

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Love Is.

For Love Is, the lineup of Eric Burdon and The Animals and changed yet again. Vic Briggs and Danny McCulloch had left the band, and former Police guitarist joined Eric Burdon and The Animals. They were no longer a sextet to  a quintet, as work began on their tenth album, which would be Eric Burdon and The Animals’ first double album.

Unlike recent albums, Love Is featured mostly cover versions. This included Phil Spector, Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich’s River Deep-Mountain High; Sly Stone’s I’m an Animal; June Carter and Merle Kilgore’s Ring Of Fire and Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood’s Colored Rain. They were joined by Barry and Robin Gibb’s To Love Somebody plus Don Deadric Robey’s As the Years Go Passing By. Eric Burdon contributed just the one song, I’m Dying (Or Am I?). Completing Love Is was an eighteen minute epic where  Steve Hammond’s Gemini gave way Zoot Money and Andy Summers’ Madman Running Through the Fields. These eight tracks would become Love Is.

Recording of Love Is took place at TTG and Sunset Sound Studios, in Hollywood, California during October 1968, with The Animals producing Love Is. It featured the recording debut of the new lineup. Its rhythm section featured drummer Barry Jenkins; bassist pianist and organist Zoot Money o plus  guitarist and violinist John Weider. This time around, the vocals were shared, with Zoot Money featuring on I’m Dying (Or Am I?) and on Gemini, while Eric Burdon took charge of the rest of the vocals. Once recording of Love Is was completed in October 1968, the album was released in December 1968.

Before that, critics had their say on Love Is, which was a very different album from recent albums. Love Is featured mainly cover versions. These cover versions were totally transformed by Eric Burdon and The Animals. The songs featured extended arrangements, and sometimes, new lyrics and sections. Among the highlights were Ring Of Fire and Traffic’s Coloured Rain, which featured a guitar masterclass from Andy Summers. His guitar solo lasts an incredible four minutes and fifteen singles. Eric Burdon and The Animals bowed in style with Gemini and Madman Running Through The Fields, an eighteen minute epic that took up the final side of Love Is. Whole most of the reviews proved positive, there were a few dissenting voice among the critics.

Despite that, Love Is recached 123 in the US Billboard 200, which surpassed the commercial success of Every One Of Us. An edited version of Ring Of Fire was then released as a single. It reached thirty-five in the UK and entered the top forty in Australia, Germany and Holland. Things it seemed, were looking up for Eric Burdon and The Animals.

Sadly, that wasn’t the case. Love Is proved to be Eric Burdon and The Animals’ swan-song.  In 1969, Eric Burdon and The Animals disbanded for the second time. This time, it looked as if it was the end of the road for one of the most successful of the British Invasion groups. They had enjoyed four successful years together.

Between them, The Animals and then Eric Burdon and The Animals released nine studio albums and one live album between 1964 and 1968. These albums proved more successful in America than they were in Britain.  The Animals and then Eric Burdon and The Animals enjoyed ten top twenty singles in the UK and America. Their most successful single was The House Of The Rising Sun in 1964, which reached number one on both sides of the Atlantic and sold five million copies worldwide. Nowadays, The House Of The Rising Sun is synonymous with The Animals and Eric Burdon and The Animals.

That’s somewhat ironic, as there’s much more to their career than just one song. Proof of that is the ten albums that The Animals and later, Eric Burdon and The Animals released during their four year recording career. These albums are a reminder of a truly talented band, that constantly reinvented their music to ensure their music music remained relevant. That was the case right up to Eric Burdon and The Animals released heir swan-song Love So  in December 1968.  Not long  after the release of Love So, Eric Burdon and The Animals disbanded in 1969. That was the end of the road for Eric Burdon and The Animals. 

Sadly, there was no pot of gold waiting for Eric Burdon and The Animals. Just like many bands, they had been mismanaged over the years.  So it was no surprise that eight years later,  the original lineup of The Animals announced they were about to reunite.

The Animals released their first reunion album, Before We Were So Rudely Interrupted was released to critical acclaim in August 1977.  It reached number seventy  in the US Billboard 200, and was the most successful album since  the release of Winds Of Change in September, 1967. Despite the success of Before We Were So Rudely Interrupted, The Animals comeback was brief and consisted of just the one album.

Another six years passed The Animals made their second comeback, when they released  Ark in August 1983. Although the album was well received, there were a few dissenting voices. Despite that, Ark reached sixty-six in the US Billboard 200. Ark proved to be last album the reunited line-up of The Animals released. This time there would be no more comebacks. 

Never again, would The Animals reunite. This time, it really  was the end of the road for one of the most successful and influential of the British Invasion bands. While their two comeback albums were a reminder of what The Animals were capable of, The Animals released the finest music of  their career during their sixties heyday.

The Animals’ Sixties’ Heyday.

MORE FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF THE TRAX: VOLT 45 RPM RARITIES 1960-1964.

More From The Other Side Of The Trax: Volt 45rpm Rarities 1960-1968.

Nowadays, Pablo Picasso is regarded as one of the most important and influential artists in the history of art. Not only was he a painter, playwright, poet and printmaker, but a sculptor and ceramicist. Pablo Picasso also cofounded the Cubist movement, co-invented collage and invented constructed sculpture during his long and illustrious career. He was, without doubt, a revolutionary artist who was one of the most important figures in twentieth Century art. One of the most important periods of Pablo Picasso’s career was his Blue Period. However, it wasn’t just Pablo Picasso who enjoyed a Blue Period. So did Memphis-based Stax Records.

While Pablo Picasso’s Blue Period began in 1901 and lasted until 1904, Stax Records’ Blue Period lasted considerably longer. It began in June 1961, and lasted until March 1968. During that period, the famous blue label adorned a total of 225 singles that were released by Stax and Volt. These singles feature some of the best music Stax Records  released between 1961 and its bankruptcy in 1975.

Sixteen years later,  the 225 singles released by Stax and Volt during their Blue Period were released in 1991 as part of The Complete Stax/Volt Singles nine CD box set. This Magnus Opus also featured a selection of B-Sides from the Blue Period. Sadly, since then, the remainder of the Blue Period B-Sides have lain unreleased. That was until January 2016.

That was when Kent Soul, an imprint of Ace Records released The Other Side Of The Trax: Stax-Volt 45rpm Rarities 1964-1968, which featured twenty-four B-Sides from the Blue Period. Just over a year later, and Kent Soul return with the much-anticipated followup, More From The Other Side Of The Trax: Volt 45rpm Rarities 1960-1968. It features old friends, familiar faces and some new names.

Another twenty-four tracks feature on More From The Other Side Of The Trax: Volt 45rpm Rarities 1960-1968. This includes contributions from Stax royalty, including William Bell, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, Eddie Floyd and The Mar-Keys. There’s also songs from Barbara andThe Browns, The Premiers, Barbara Stephens, The Four Shells and Sir Mack Rice. Some of the artists feature on more than one occasion, with William Bell, Carla Thomas and Rufus Thomas all featuring four times.

Opening More From The Other Side Of The Trax: Volt 45rpm Rarities 1960-1968 is Barbara and The Browns’ I Don’t Want Trouble. It was the B-Side of their third and final Stax single My Lover, which was released in April 1965. I Don’t Want Trouble was penned by Barbara Brown, and is a dynamic and irresistible dance track.

Three of William Bell’s four contributions were penned with Steve Cropper. They forged a successful songwriting partnership. An examples of this is What’cha Gonna Do, a defiant ballad that featured on the B-Side of Told You So in January 1963. Three months later, William Bell released Just As I Thought in April 1963 as a single. Tucked away on the B-Side was I’m Waiting On You where horns accompany his needy, hopeful vocal. In February 1964, William Bell released Who Will It Be Tomorrow as a single. On the B-Side was the heartfelt ballad Don’t Make Something Out Of Nothing. The final song from William Bell is One Plus One, which was written by Isaac Hayes and David Porter.  It’s was the flip-side to Eloise (Hang On In There), when it was released in July 1967. One Plus One was tailor made for William Bell, who came into his own on this soul-baring ballad.

The Mar-Keys were formed in Memphis, in 1958, and became Stax’s house band in the label’s early years. Still, though, The Mar-Keys found time to enjoy successful  recording career.  In January 1963, The Mar-Keys released their eighth instrumental single Bo-Time, which featured The Dribble on the B-Side. Horns and a Hammond organ play leading roles in the sound and success of The Dribble, which showcases the considerable talents of The Mar-Keys. So does The Shovel, which was the B-side of Banana Juice when it was released in March 1965. Eight months later, in November 1965, The Mar-Keys released Grab This Thing  Pt. 1 as a single. On the B-Side was Grab This Thing  Pt. 2,  where Steve Cropper’s searing guitar takes centre-stage on what was one The Mar-Kays’ finest singles. 

The Premiers only ever released one single on Stax, Make It Me. Sadly, it failed to make any impression on the charts, and The Premiers left Stax. However, Make It Me was one of the first songs penned by Isaac Hayes and David Porter songwriting team. They also wrote the B-Side You Make A Strong Girl Weak. It’s an engaging, memorable and soulful reminder of another musical age, from The Premiers.

Having just signed to Stax, Eddie Floyd released Things Get Better (When I’m With You) in March 1966. It was a taste of what was to come from Eddie Floyd. So was Good Love, Bad Love which Eddie Floyd wrote with Al Bell. It’s a beautiful ballad that showcases a talented and versatile singer-songwriter, who would bring success Stax’s way.

Before Stax, there was Satellite, which Jim Steward and Estelle Axton founded in 1959. A year later, Carla and Rufus released Cause I Love You as a single. Atlantic Records on hearing the single, picked it up and released it on their Atco imprint. While Cause I Love You wasn’t the success Atlantic Records had hoped, it lead to them offering Stax a seven year distribution deal. This proved to be a game-changer for the nascent label. All this was possible because of Cause I Love You, which features a hidden gem of a ballad on the B-Side, Down Deep Inside.

Barbara Stephens released a trio of singles for Stax between October 1961 and March 1962. The second single was The Life I Live, which gave Barbara Stephens a hit locally. This resulted in Atlantic Records releasing The Life I Live nationally. Alas, the single failed to trouble the charts. Hidden away on the B-Side, was a Barbara Stephens composition I Don’t Worry. It’s a mid tempo slice of R&B which showcases a defiant, powerhouse of a vocal. 

Carla Thomas never turned her back on Stax, despite receiving many offers from other labels. By the time she released Something Good (Is Going To Happen To You) in  December 1966, she was an established artist. On the B-Side was the confessional ballad It’s Starting To Grow. It shows how Carla Thomas was maturing as a vocalist. In March 1968, Carla Thomas released confessional A Dime A Dozen. Hidden away on the B-Side was  I Want You Back,  a catchy and memorable mid-tempo track.

The Four Shells released their one and only single Hot Dog (My Baby’s Comin’ Home) on Volt in May 1966. On the B-Side was delicious dance track Reputation. Fifty-one years later, and it’ll still fill dance-floors on the Northern Soul scene.

Closing More From The Other Side Of The Trax: Volt 45rpm Rarities 1960-1968 is Carla Thomas’ Don’t Let The Love Light Leave. It’s the B-Side of A Woman’s Love, which was released in October 1964, and reached number thirty-nine on the US Billboard 100.  Elements of R&B and gospel feature on Don’t Let The Love Light Leave while  the future Queen of Stax delivers a hopeful, soulful vocal. One of  Carla Thomas’ best songs it seems has been kept until last.

Following up the critically acclaimed compilation The Other Side Of The Trax: Stax-Volt 45rpm Rarities 1964-1968 was never going to be easy. Not only has compiler Tony Rounce has managed to so, but surpassed the quality of the first instalment in this series. That comes as no surprise, as Tony Rounce has compiled countless compilations. He also had a plentiful supply of Stax Records’ B-Sides that have never made it onto CD to choose from.

Twenty-four of them featured on More From The Other Side Of The Trax: Volt 45rpm Rarities 1960-1968. It features familiar faces, new names and plenty old friends. Some of these artists, including William Bell, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, Eddie Floyd and The Mar-Keys   enjoyed long and successful careers at Stax Records. Other artists enjoyed just a short stay at Stax Records. That proved to be  the case for Barbara and The Browns, The Premiers, Barbara Stephens and The Four Shells. Despite playing only a walk-on part in the Stax Records story, they contributed towards the label’s legacy.

It was previously documented on a trio of box sets. The Complete Stax-Volt Singles 1959-1968 was released in 1991, with The Complete Stax/Volt Soul Singles, Volume 2: 1968-1971 following in 1993. Completing this overview of Stax Records’ musical legacy was The Complete Stax /Volt Soul Singles, Volume 3: 1972-1975 in 1994. These three box sets were the most comprehensive overview of the music released by the Stax Records’ family. Despite filling twenty-seven CDs, there wasn’t enough space for some B-Sides on these three lovingly compiled box sets.

While The Complete Stax-Volt Singles 1959-1968 covered every single released Stax Records’ Blue Period, only a selection of selection of B-Sides featured in the box set. Kent Soul, an imprint of Ace Record decided to rectify this with the release of The Other Side Of The Trax: Stax-Volt 45rpm Rarities 1964-1968 in January 2016. This was followed recently by More From The Other Side Of The Trax: Volt 45rpm Rarities 1960-1968. Both compilations are a reminder, if any was needed, of Stax Records’ Blue Period. 

While Pablo Picasso’s Blue Period was a landmark period in his career, so was Stax Records Blue Period. It was when Stax and Volt released some of its best and most successful music. The famous blue label that adorned adorns the 225 singles that were released by Stax and Volt between June 1961 and March 1968 signifies quality soul music. This includes the twenty-four B-Sides on More From The Other Side Of The Trax: Volt 45rpm Rarities 1960-1968. They’re a  reminder of what was a golden period for Stax Records, which nowadays, is regarded as one of soul music’s greatest labels.

More From The Other Side Of The Trax: Volt 45rpm Rarities 1960-1968.

 

UZELLI PSYCHEDELIC ANADOLU.

Uzelli Psychedelic Anadolu.

By the early seventies, many Turkish people had moved to other parts of Europe in search of a better life. Some headed to Britain and France, settling in large cities like London and Paris. Others headed to Germany, and in particular Frankfurt. Soon, Frankfurt, like many other European cities, had a burgeoning Turkish community. While they found the better life that they were looking for, many of the Turkish community missed things that reminded them of home. That was until two brothers decided to open a shop in the early seventies.

This was the Uzelli brothers, who decided to open a shop that would sell reminders of home to the Turkish community. At first, they sold carpets, tea glasses and works of art that would proudly adorn the walls of the exiled Turks’ homes. This all proved popular within the Turkish community. So did the music that the Uzelli brothers sold from their shop.

When the Uzelli brothers first started selling music in their shop, it proved hugely popular. Soon, members of the Turkish community were regularly making their way to the Uzelli brothers shop, seeking the music that reminded them of home. This proved to be one of their most popular products. So much so, that the Uzelli brothers decided to dip their toes into the Turkish music industry.

Rather than just selling LPs and cassettes, the Uzelli brothers decided to found their own label in 1975. That was when Uzelli label was born. Little did the Uzelli brothers know that their nascent label would eventually become an international company. 

Eventually, the Uzelli label would release 1,300 albums. At first, Uzelli’s albums were released on vinyl. This was the case until the late-nineties. However, by the mid-eighties, vinyl was no longer as popular so Uzelli started to also release albums on cassette. This changed in the late-eighties, when here was a decline in popularity of cassettes. While this affected many Turkish record companies, Uzelli had realised that CDs were the future, and opened  a chain of record shops in Turkey. They were the latest addition to the Uzelli musical empire.

After a period of expansion, Uzelli owned warehouses and manufacturing plants in Turkey. The company had come a long way from the small shop in Frankfurt. What helped was that Uzelli weren’t resistant to change. That was the case when the digital revolution arrived. They were early adopters and nowadays, much of Uzelli’s back-catalogue is available digitally. Eventually, all of its Uzelli’s 1,300 album back-catalogue will be available digitally.  Despite that, Uzellia also continue to release albums and compilations on CD.

The latest Uzelli CD release is Uzelli Psychedelic Anadolu, which features ten tracks released between 1975 and 1984. This period encompasses the heyday of vinyl and the beginning of cassette culture. Uzelli Psychedelic Anadolu also documents a period when Turkish music was changing, in more ways than one.

The story began in Turkey in the late sixties, when musicians started to combine traditional folk music with rock music. This became known as Anatolian rock. One of its founding fathers was Barış Manço who helped popularise this hybrid of Turkish folk and rock. Soon, other artists were following in the footsteps of Barış Manço, and Anatolian rock’s popularity was growing.

Gradually, the music began to evolve and head in different directions, including in the direction of psychedelia. However, Turkish psychedelia was very different from its American and British counterparts. Especially with the inclusion of electrified version of traditional Turkish instruments were introduced. This included the electrified bağlama, which became a favourite of many Turkish musicians during the psychedelic era. So would synths, including the Moog,  which can be heard in many Anatolian psychedelic tracks, including some on Uzelli Psychedelic Anadolu.

The period that Uzelli Psychedelic Anadolu covers, proved a turbulent one of Turkey. During much of the seventies, there was conflict between right-wing and left-wing factions. Sometimes, this lead to violence, bloodshed and sadly, death. A total of 500,000 were arrested between the 1971 Coup by Memorandum and the coup d’état in 1980. It was lead by the Chief of the Turkish General Staff General Kenan Evren, and for the next three years, the Turkish Army ruled the country via the National Security Council. After that three year period, democracy was restored.

It was a traumatic time for the Turkish people. However, the political problems in Turkey provided inspiration for many Turkish musicians. This includes some of the ten tracks that feature on Uzelli Psychedelic Anadolu.

The ten tracks on Uzelli Psychedelic Anadolu feature  songs from familiar faces and new names. They rub shoulders on Uzelli Psychedelic Anadolu. There’s contributions from Zor Beyler, Erkin Koray, Kerem Güney, Aşık Emrah and Elvan Sevil. That is not forgetting Akbaba İkilisi, Ünol Büyükgönenç, Neşe Alkan and Ali Ayhan. These artists play their part in a compilation that’s a perfect introduction to Turkish psychedelia… Uzelli Psychedelic Anadolu.

Opening Uzelli Psychedelic Anadolu is Intro the first of two tracks from Zor Beyler. They’re regarded as something of a mystery band. However, they released at least one album, Gozumdeki Yaslar in 1985. It doesn’t feature, the funky, driving, psych of Intro. Although less than two minutes long, this is something of a hidden gem that’s a reminder of Turkish music in the mid-eighties. 

Zor Beyler’s second contribtion is Gözündeki Yaslarina, a track their 1985 album Gozumdeki Yaslar. Nowadays, it’s a real rarity, with copies changing hands for upwards of £100. Given the quality of  Gözündeki Yaslarina, that comes as no surprise. It’s a genre-melting track where a myriad of musical influences and instruments are combined by Zor Beyler. This includes Anatolian folk, Arabian music, pop and psych. To this, they add futuristic, sci-fi synths, a myriad of subtle percussion and an electric bağlama. The result is a lysergic sounding, genre-melting song that’s a tantalising taste of Zor Beyler’s one and only album Gozumdeki Yaslar.

Erkin Koray is without doubt, one of the greatest Turkish guitarists. His career began in 1973, when he released his eponymous debut album. By the time of the 1980 coup, Erkin Koray was regarded as Turkey’s finest progressive rock guitarists. After the coup, Erkin Koray lived in exile in Germany, where he recorded his 1981 album Silinmeyen Hatıralar. It was one of Erkin Koray’s most psychedelic albums, and featured Öksürük (Cough). It’s a powerful poem full of social comment and funky guitar licks that is punctuated by coughs as Erkin Koray complains and protests about the recent events in Turkey.

In 1979, Kerem Güney was one of the leading lights of the Turkis music scene. He was a songwriter, arranger and owned his own record company. However, in 1970, Kerem Güney and Günesin Sofrasi decided to release an album together, Yetmez Mi Gönül. It’s an extremely rare album, with copies changing hands for in excess of £130. The songs on Yetmez Mi Gönül were based on the poems of revolutionary poet Sabahattin Ali. This included Sicak Bir Sevda (Isn’t Enough Heart), a powerful and lysergic fusion of psychedelic rock and progressive folk. 

Very little is known about Aşık Emrah who contributes Bu Ellerden Göçüp to Uzeli Psychedelic Anadolu. That is a great shame, considering the quality of the song. Similarly, nothing is know about the musicians that accompanied Aşık Emrah on Bu Ellerden Göçüp. They’re certainly talented, and help Aşık Emrah seamlessly combine disparate musical genres and instruments.  The result is a mesmeric and haunting backdrop for Aşık Emrah’s impassioned vocal on this hidden gem.

Elvan Sevil is best known as a film star in Turkey, but occasionally found time to dabble in music. Given her busy career, she released just two singles and a cassette album. Another song Elvan Sevil recorded was Yar Senin Için, which featured on the Uzelli compilation Pop Folk which was released in 1975. It’s the perfect showcase for the crystalline vocal of Elvan Sevil.

Brothers Müslüm and Hamza Akbaba were born in Turkey, but were living in Frankfurt when they formed Akbaba İkilisi. Initially, they played at weddings, christenings and bar mitzvahs. This was akin to a musical apprenticeship, and allowed them to hone their music. By the time their recording career began, their music was a fusion of Arabian music, funk and folk.  That is the case on Seker Oglan, a track from their 1983 album Darıldım Darıldım, which is a tradition folk song given a psychedelic twist by kbaba İkilisi.

When Uzelli were compiling their Pop Folk compilation in 1975, one of the tracks the chose was Kaçma Güzel, which was the B-Side to Neşe Alkan’s single Dilo Dilo Yaylalar.  Both songs were arranged and orchestrated by Zafer Dilek. Why Kaçma Güzel was consigned to the B-Side seems strange, given the quality of this beautiful song for a truly talented vocalist.

Closing Uzeli Psychedelic Anadolu is Bana Göre Kizlar Çok which Ali Ayhan recorded for his 1984 album Leylo. This was one of trio of albums Ali Ayhan recorded during the time he spent at Uzelli. Two of these albums were successful, which was a good strike rate for the one time Uzelli backing vocalist. However, he was always destined for greater things. Proof of that is Bana Göre Kizlar Wok. Ali Ayhan deliver a vocal masterclass while swathes of dancing strings, a wah-wah guitar and a Hendrix-esque bağlama solo accompany him. It seems that one of the finest moments on Uzeli Psychedelic Anadolu has been kept until last.

Having said that, the quality of music on Uzeli Psychedelic Anadolu is of the highest standard. It’s a case of all killer, no filler. This makes Uzeli Psychedelic Anadolu the perfect introduction not just to the Uzelli back-catalogue, but to Anatolian psychedelia. 

Just like other genres of Turkish music, Anatolian psychedelia has been growing in popularity over the last few years. This is all part of the recent resurgence in interest in Turkish music. Still though, the majority of record and CD buyers are still unaware of Anatolian psychedelia, which sadly, is still one of music’s best kept secrets. Not any more, though.

Uzelli’s recent release of Uzeli Psychedelic Anadolu is the perfect introduction to Anatolian psychedelia. It’s an oft-overlooked genre, which has a myriad of musical delights awaiting discovery. The music on Uzeli Psychedelic Anadolu is just a tantalising taste of delights awaiting the newcomer to Anatolian psychedelia. A musical feast awaits them, and Uzeli Psychedelic Anadolu is the perfect amuse-bouche.

Uzelli Psychedelic Anadolu.

SIMRIT-SONGS OF RESILIENCE.

Simrit-Songs Of Resilience.

Ethereal, haunting, mesmeric and spiritual describes the beautiful, poignant and meditative music that features on Simrit’s album Songs Of Resilience. It was released on Simrit Kaur Music and went on to top the World Music Charts. This came as no surprise, as Simrit’s songs speaks to all of humanity, who can relate to the powerful music on Songs Of Resilience. It’s the latest album from the latest in a long line of talented Greek female vocalists…Simrit.

Her story began in Athens, Greece, where  Simrit was was born into one of the city’s most important musical families. Sadly, circumstances dictated that her parents had to give up their newborn daughter for adoption, and Simrit was adopted by an American-Greek couple, who lived in South Carolina. That was when Simrit grew up and first discovered her love of music.

It has played an important part in Simrit’s life since childhood. Even  before she went to pre-school, Simrit’s parents remember their daughter humming along to her own little tunes. It seems that even at such an early age Simrit was musically inclined.

This continued to be the case as Simrit grew-up. As she learnt traditional Greek dances, she can remember music playing in the background. Simrit can also remember learning the Greek language, and then singing in the Greek Orthodox Church choir. Even now, she can remember being fascinated and mesmerised by the chants and hymns that were part of the service.

Simrit recounts: “There was a specific system used to teach us the melodies and it made them very interesting to learn. Many are in these haunting minor keys, with this deep, mystical sound. I was steeped in that from the time I was really young. It’s still some of my favourite music and has had a huge impact on my work.”  So would some of the other music that Simrit was listening to.

By then, Simirt was an aspiring musician, whose parents proved supportive. They paid for piano, drum and singing lessons. Meanwhile, Simrit had an eclectic taste in music, and was listening to everything from the dreamy rock of Mazzy Star, to singer-songwriters like Jeff Buckley, folk singer Loreena McKennitt, roots reggae and world music from the Mediterranean to the Subcontinent. This provided the backdrop for Simrit’s life as she finished high school.

Now college beckoned for Simrit. It was around this time that Simrit became interested in African drumming. This came after she heard the Ghanaian Odunde Ensemble at the Spoleto Festival. Simrit was captivated by the Ensemble. So much so, that: “I wanted so much to be a part of this. I approached the drum master from Ghana, though there weren’t a lot of European-heritage folks or women in the group. I said I’d never played this way, but I knew something about rhythm. They invited me to come to practice the next week, and they gave me a djembe and some rhythms. I was hooked.” For Simrit this was  a turning point.

Since then, Simrit has incorporated her passion for West African drumming into her own music. She has been inspired by several drum masters, including American kora player Salif Bamakora, who was originally born Gordon Hellegers. He later studied  in Mali with drum masters Toumani and Madou Sidiki Diabate, Karamo Susso and Yacouba Sissok. They influenced Salif Bamakora who in turn, has been a big influenced on Simrit. Salif Bamakora’s influence can be heard on Nana,  which is a reworking of an old Manding song Salif was taught as a student. This has been dedicated to Salif’s grandmother, and is  a truly poignant song and features one of the things that has influenced Simrit.

Apart from West African drumming, Simrit has been inspired and influenced by the songs, tales, mantras and excerpts from devotional literature that have been gathered by religious leaders over hundreds and thousands of years. These texts are usually recited or sung as part of the worship process and are used for guidance. They’re also used widely by yoga practitioners. That was where Simrit first encountered the poems and mantras.

The first time that Simrit encountered the poems and mantras was during a Kundalini yoga class. The songs which have been based on the Gurmukhi-language works play a role in the practice of Kundalini yoga. These songs affect both the singer and listener physically. They change the way they think feel and think. “Simrit explains that: “This music changes consciousness, and that is where we can start. For the world to shift into a potentially peaceful place, we must start with ourselves first.” Before long, the mantras and yoga began to play a bigger part in Simrit’s life.

At first, yoga played a much more important part in Simrit’s daily life. Gradually though, Simrit began to spend more time listening to the mantras, and they began to influence her daily life. She remembers: “I started to listen to some mantras at the time. I really loved the repetitive nature. It reminded me of Byzantine music. A light came on. I realised I could contribute my talents. I could bring something really powerful to this.”

It was then that Simrit had an epiphany. If she were to incorporate the mantras into her own music, it had the potential to subtly transform the music that she was making. This lead to Simrit writing her own songs. Soon, she decided to perform both her new and the traditional songs at various workshops and gatherings that brought the yoga community together. Not long after this, Simrit began hearing and working on new arrangements for her music. By then, yoga and mantras were part of everyday life for Simrit.

Over the next few years, Simrit dedicated herself to music. Still though, yoga and the mantras were part of her daily routine as Simrit’s recording career began.

Simrit released her debut album The Sweetest Nectar to critical acclaim in June 2010. Just over three years later, Simrit returned with much-anticipated The Oracle Sessions. This beautiful, powerful album received praise and plaudits upon its release. So did Simrit, when it was released in July 2014. It was an enchanting album that featured the voice of an angel. A year later, came From the Ancient Storm which was released in July 2015 and hailed as a career defining album. By then, Simrit was topping the World Music charts. Now she had to do all over again on Songs Of Resilience.

For Songs Of Resilience, Simrit wrote five new songs and cowrote the three others that would feature on the album. She wrote Clandestine with Salif Bama Kora and Kenny Childers. Nana was adapted from the traditional Manding Song, and was written by Samrit, Salif Bama Kora and Rowen White, while Still I Cry was penned by Samrit and Kenny Childers. These eight songs would eventually become Songs Of Resilience.

Recording of Songs Of Resilience took place at Primary Sound Studios, in Bloomington, Indiana.  Veteran rock and Americana producer Paul Mahern was drafted in to record the album, while Mahan Kalpa Singh took charge of production. Joining Simrit was a versatile and talented band.

This included a rhythm section of drummer and percussionist Devon Ashley who also played conga and pueblo log drum; bassist, pianist and slide guitarist Heidi Gluck and Kenny Childers who switched between electric and acoustic guitars. They were joined by Jason Wilber who also played acoustic guitar. Meanwhile, cellist Shannon Hayden took charge of electronics, while Mahan Kalpa Singh added treatments and played the pueblo log drum. Salif Bama Kora who had been such a big influence on Simrit, played kora, pueblo log drum and conga. Simrit added vocals and played harmonium and mellotron. Gradually, Songs Of Resilience took shape and was ready for release in America in September 2016.

On its release, Songs Of Resilience topped the World Music Charts. It even reached number three in the prestigious US Billboard World Music charts and reached number one in iTunes World Music charts. For Simrit, Songs Of Resilience was the most successful album of her five album career. That was no surprise given the quality of music on Songs Of Resilience.

Prithvi Hai opens Songs Of Resilience is a driving folk rock track. It’s also a song that Simrit says can bring: “deep peace, balances left and right hemispheres of the brain, and re-aligns the mind.” Chiming, chirping guitars combine with the rhythm section and create the perfect backdrop for the ethereal beauty of Simrit’s vocal. It captivates, as it soars high above the arrangement. Then when it drops out, a wistful cello adds a contrast. Soon, though Simrit’s tender, heartfelt vocal returns, and is accompanied by weeping and strummed guitars. They add an atmospheric accompaniment.  Especially when joined by the cello and later pueblo log drums. Together, they create a beautiful, mesmeric and dreamy backdrop for Simrit on this elegiac and ruminative song,

An acoustic guitar is panned left, while electronics are panned right on Clandestine. Before long, the kora is added and the arrangement meanders along. Soon, the rhythm section usher in Simrit’s wistful and emotive vocal, and she delivers the cinematic lyrics. Meanwhile, hypnotic drums never miss a beat and combine with guitars,  a pueblo log drum and kora. Sadness fills Simrit’s voice as she sings: “I look and can’t be seen, I listen and can’t be heard, I reach and can’t be grasp.” Later, comes the realisation that: “we return to nothing.” It’s a poignant truism, that’s framed by melancholy strings and flourishes of kora. There’s even a roar, that soars above the captivating arrangement. Then Simrit  repeats the thoughtful refrain “we return to nothing” on this melodic, memorable and cerebral song.

Slowly the atmospheric arrangement to Pavan Guru meanders and sways along. A less is more approach is taken to the arrangement, allowing Simrit’sl elegiac vocal to take centre-stage. That’s where it belongs. Meanwhile, a drum provides the heartbeat, while percussion, shimmering, chirping and weeping guitars accompany Simrit. Later, the cello adds a rueful contrast. Mostly, though, there’s an air of positivity as the arrangement sweeps along,  accompanying a beautiful, ethereal vocal during this uplifting song that Simrit believes: “increases the life force energy in a person.”

The focus of the mantra Ad Such Simrit says: “is  to help remove blocks when you get stuck and help get you moving.” As the arrangement unfolds, it’s understated. Gradually, though, it builds as a rumbling bass joining the kora, guitar and harmonium. They accompany Simrit’s tender, heartfelt vocal. Later, a cello plays adding a melancholy sound, before the vocal drops out. This allows Simrit’s band to showcase their considerable skills. Then when her vocal returnsm its full of emotion, as it soars elegiacally above the arrangement. It features a captivating combination of disparate instruments that combine create a heart-wrenching and beautiful accompaniment to Simrit on this inspirational and meditative mantra.

Nana is a poignant song that was dedicated to Salif Bama Kora’s grandmother. It features one of Simrit’s finest vocals. Before that,  acoustic guitars and the kora combine with clip clop percussion as the arrangement flows alongs. Soon,  a ruminative cello interjects and is joined by a bass before Simrit delivers a powerful, impassioned vocal. As it soars above the arrangement it briefly quivers, before becoming clear and crystalline. Then when it drops out, the band fill the void, as drums pound and join a kora, cello and percussion. Soon, Simrit returns, and delivers a vocal masterclass, as she reaches new heights on this heartfelt homage to Nana. 

The origins for Song Of Bliss can be found in a sixteenth century Gurmukhi hymns. It’s totally transformed, but retains its spiritual sound. Thunderous drums provide the backdrop for Simrit as she delivers her mantra. Soon, instruments are being added to the arrangement as it builds.  This includes a  guitar, percussion, kora and cello. Taking centre-stage is Simrit’s vocal, which veers between heartfelt and tender to impassioned and spiritual. Behind her cymbals crash and rinse, while drums play and the mournful lament of the cello plays. It’s joined by flourishes of kora as the arrangement builds, and reveals its secrets and subtleties and heads towards its crescendo. In doing so, they add to what is without doubt a spiritual sounding Song Of Bliss from the truly talented Simrit.

At just under three minutes, Still I Cry is the shortest song on the album. It’s also one of the most beautiful. As a piano plays, Simrit delivers a soul-baring vocal on this song about love lost. Meanwhile, the rhythm section play slowly and a cello sweeps, adding to the sense of sadness as the arrangements waltzes along. All the time, Simrit lays bare her hurt and heartache for all to hear on what’s without doubt, one of the highlights of Songs Of Resilience. It features the sound of a heartbroken angel.

Sat Narayan closes Songs Of Resilience and is a mantra that’s: “chanted to create inner peace.” A strummed guitar accompanies Simrit’s ethereal vocal as she delivers  her mantra. Soon, washes of sound quiver and shiver, but they’re sculpted so that they become part of the arrangement. By the time they drops out, the rhythm section have joined and play slowly and deliberately. Later, Simrit adds elegiac harmonies before continuing to deliver a tender, heartfelt and elegiac vocal. By then, Simrit and her band have combined to create a dreamy, ruminative backdrop as she delivers her mantra and message of positivity. It’s a beautiful and uplifting way to close this captivating album.

Songs Of Resilience is, without doubt, the finest album of Simrit’s five album career. She’s well on her way to becoming  one of the biggest names in world music, after Songs Of Resilience topped the charts. That comes as no surprise, given the quality of music on this carefully crafted album. 

That is the perfect way to describe Songs Of Resilience. It features music that veers between dreamy, elegiac and ethereal to haunting, mesmeric, meditative and spiritual. Sometimes, the mantras on Songs Of Resilience veer between inspiring and uplifting,  to melancholy, poignant and wistful.  Other times, the songs are ruminative and invite reflection. Often, they’re cerebral and thought provoking. Always though, the music on Songs Of Resilience are memorable, melodic and proves to be captivating, compelling and beautiful. That’s why Songs Of Resilience is a powerful, career-defining album from Simrit, whose a truly talented singer, songwriter and musician who is destined for greatness. 

Simrit-Songs Of Resilience.

KREIDLER-EUROPEAN SONG.

Kreidler-European Song.

Ever since the late sixties, Düsseldorf has had a thriving, vibrant and eclectic music scene. In the early days, the heart of the Düsseldorf music scene was in the Old Town. This was a bohemian area, full of students and people who were interested in  art, literature and music. Many young musicians gravitated towards the Old Town, looking for likeminded people. Soon, they were forming bands together, and began to write a new chapter in German music. 

Especially between 1969 and 1986, when Düsseldorf became synonymous with electronic music. This was a golden age for electronic music. Some of the best, and most innovative electronic music that was released during this period, came out of Dusseldorf. This music went on to influence several generations of bands. The same can be said of many other bands whose roots can be traced to Düsseldorf.

This includes Kraftwerk, Kluster, Cluster, Neu!, La Düsseldorf, DAF, Der Plan and Die Krupps. Their roots can be traced to Düsseldorf. So can Kreidler’s who were formed in Düsseldorf in 1994, by Thomas Klein, Andreas Reihse, Detlef Weinrich, and Stefan Schneide. This was the start of a three decade musical adventure for Kreidler.

Twenty-three years later, and Kreidler are still together. The only change in the lineup came in 1998, when Stefan Schneider left to form To Rococo Rot. The bassist was replaced by Alexander Paulick of Coloma and Narrow Bridges. That has been the lineup of Kreidler ever since.

Nineteen years later, and Kreidler continue to combine electronic and analog instruments to create their own unique, genre-melting sound. It’s featured on twelve studio albums so far. Soon, twelve will become thirteen when Kreidler release their new album European Song on the Bureau B label on the 7th of April 2017. European Song is very different album than Kreidler had originally envisaged.

The story began in early 2016, when Kreidler decided to begin work on the followup to ABC, which was released in 2014. To record the album, Kreidler flew to Mexico City. That was where the band began recording an album that had a much lighter, more minimalist and playful sound than their recent albums. It looked like Kreidler were going to showcase a very different side to their music. However, this changed after the events of November ‘8th’ 2016.

The four members of Kreidler had followed the US Presidential election closely. When Donald Trump triumphed over Hilary Clinton, this came as a shock to the members of Kreidler. They weren’t convinced by his “man of the people” approach to politics.  Instead, Kreidler saw this as yet another example of what was wrong with the world. This would add to the uncertainty, violence and xenophobia that was spreading across parts of Europe.

This had already happened in Britain, after the country voted to leave the EU. Meanwhile, other parts of Europe lurched to the right. Right wing extremists were making their presence felt in Turkey, Russia and Hungary. It was a similar case in Germany, Holland and France. Kreidler were horrified as they watched these events unfold. They still hadn’t finished their new album, so decided to write new tracks that had been inspired by the events in America and Europe.

Having written these new tracks, Kreidler entered the studio in late 2016. They had just returned from a short tour, and were playing better than ever. It was perfect timing for Kreidler as they returned to the studio. 

Drummer Thomas Klein was joined by bassist and guitarist Alexander Paulick. Detlef Weinrich was responsible for electronic sequences and Andreas Reihse for  synthetic soundscapes.As recording began, Kreidler’s playing was tight as they improvised on the five tracks that became European Song. Once they were completed, neither overdubbing nor post-production was required. All that was needed was some editing to tighten the mixes and remove some of the rough edges. Now European Song was ready for release on ‘7th’ April 2017, by the Hamburg based Bureau B label.

As Boots opens European Song there’s a sense of drama and urgency. Metallic sounds reverberate, while a growling, mesmeric  bass synth joins jangling ethnic percussion. This is ironic, as 

Kreidler is about to replicate sonically the rise of the far right across Europe. Soon, sci-fi synths briefly interject, They drop out, but soon return. Still, the slow, mesmeric soundscape continues to build. So does the drama, urgency and tension. Later, futuristic, shimmering sounds warns of danger ahead. The danger is  the far right, as its tentacles spreads further across Europe. By then, the tension, drama and darkness has grown. It continues to build, just like the far right, marches along relentlessly across Europe. Boots is a ruminative reminder of the changing political climate, and its potential ramifications.

Urgent stabs of dark synths join crisp drums on Kannibal, and create a hypnotic backdrop. Soon, the drums gallop and the tempo rises. Washes of eerie synths join the galloping drums and later, sinister chants are added. Although there’s a darkness to the music, it’s melodic. Later, snarling, growling sounds can be heard, as Kreidler replicate Europe eating itself on a this captivating soundscape full of social comment.

The arrangement to Coulées scurries along, with a myriad of percussion and synths replicating the sounds of machines. Soon, it sounds as if Kreidler have brought Kraftwerk’s Man Machine to life. It becomes part of an alternative electronic symphony. Bells ring while buzzes, beeps, squeaks, industrial sounds join with a plucked bass and pounding drums. By then, the Man Machine is dancing. What to though? Surely not to the tune of politicians who have transformed Europe political landscape? Meanwhile, drums crack, seesaw strings are scrubbed, a bass is pounded and industrial sound punctuate the soundscape. All the time, sounds flit in and out, playing their part in an electronic symphony that’s melodic and cinematic.

Drums pound, percussion jangles and joins jarring sounds on Radio Island. Soon, they’re joined the crackling sound of radio that’s not been tuned properly. They’re part of galloping, genre-melting soundscape. Always there’s an urgency and intensity to this pulsating, bristling soundscape. It’s as if it could explode at any minute. Meanwhile, sounds continually flit in and out. This includes a whining, whistling sounds and the hopeful beep of a synth. At the heart of the arrangement are drums, percussion and synths. They drone, beep, squeak, whine and crackle as the drums power the soundscape relentlessly along. All the time, sonic adventurers Kreidler sculpt this myriad of disparate sounds and instruments to create an urgent, bristling and dramatic thirteen minute epic soundscape.

No God closes European Song. Swells of shrill synths shriek, but soon, are replaced by thunderous drums, edgy harmonies and a crackling. Midway through the soundscape the shrill synths return, and are joined by eighties synths. They provide a contrast to the drama created by the thunderous drums. Still, crackling sound, punchy harmonies and stabs of synths are and sci-fi sounds added. Later, ethereal sounds rain down and are joined by the harmonies. Soon, they’re replaced by pounding drums, sci-fi sounds and punchy, edgy harmonies as the drama builds and defiantly, Kreidler proclaim there’s No God.

After five carefully sculpted soundscapes lasting thirty-six minutes, Kreidler’s captivating new album European Song is over. Kredler it seems have concentrated on quality rather than quantity. This has worked well for Kreidler as there isn’t a weak soundscape on European Song. It’s one of the best album Kreidler have released in recent years.

On European Song, Kreidler combined elements of avant-garde, Berlin School, DarkPop, electronica, experimental, industrial and Krautrock. It’s a potent musical mixture, and one that Kreidler have spent the last twenty-three years honing. However, on European Song they reach new heights on what’s one of the most important albums of recent years.

European Song was inspired by the changing political climate in Europe and America, at the end of 2016. This resulted in a very different album to the one Kreidler began to record in Mexico City. It was replaced by European Song, which featured what’s described as five “apocalyptic soundscapes.” They’re thought provoking and full of social comment. The music on European Song also ruminative and invites reflection at the change in the political landscape. That is just part of the story of European Song.

The five genre-melting soundscapes on European Song are variously dark, dramatic, futuristic, hypnotic and mesmeric. Other times, there’s an immediacy and an urgency to the music on European Song. Always though, the music is captivating, cinematic and melodic. European Song is also a thought-provoking album full of social comment, where Kreidler create compelling  cinematic soundscapes and in the process, reach new musical heights.

Kreidler-European Song.