STANLEY TURRENTINE-COMIN’ YOUR WAY.

Stanley Turrentine-Comin’ Your Way.

Label: Blue Note Records.

When bandleader and saxophonist Stanley Turrentine entered Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, in New Jersey on January the ’20th’ 1961, he was twenty-six and about to record what would eventually become Comin’ Your Way.  It was the third time he had made this journey since he had signed to Blue Note Records.

The first time was just a month earlier, in December 1960, when he completed the recording Blue Hour, a collaboration between Stanley Turrentine and The Three Sounds. It had been recorded during two sessions in 1960, and was scheduled for release during March 1961. This album he was about to record would be released later in 1961. Or so  Stanley Turrentine thought.

Sadly, that wasn’t the case and the release of Comin’ Your Way was postponed at the last minute. In its place, Up At “Minton’s”, a live album that was recorded at the famous Harlem venue, just one month after the Comin’ Your Way session. This came as a surprise to Stanley Turrentine and must have been disappointing and frustrating. However, he had still released his debut solo album on the legendary Blue Note Records. Surely it was only a matter of time before Comin’ Your Way was released?

Little did Stanley Turrentine realise that seventeen years would pass before the tracks on Comin’ Your Way were  eventually released in 1978 by Blue Note Records as part of the Jubilee Shouts’ compilation. By then, he was signed to Fantasy Records and changed direction musically. However, Comin’ Your Way was a reminder of Stanley Turrentine as he blossomed as a bandleader and tenor saxophonist. 

Now forty-two years later, Blue Note Records have reissued Comin’ Your Way as part of their Blue Note Tone Poet Series and is a 180 gram audiophile LP. It’s a welcome reminder of the late, great Stanley Turrentine who nowadays, is recognised as one of the great tenor saxophonists.

Stanley William Turrentine was born on April the 5th 1934, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and grew up in a musical family in the Hill District. His father Thomas Turrentine, Sr, was a saxophonist with Al Cooper’s Savoy Sultans, while his mother played piano and Stanley’s elder brother Thomas became a professional trumpeter and in January 1961, played on Comin’ Your Way. That was in the future.

When Stanley Turrentine started out, he wasn’t playing jazz. Instead, he was a member of various blues and R&B  bands. However, his main influence was  jazz tenor saxophonist, Illinois Jacquet who is remembered for his solo on Flying Home, which nowadays, is regarded as the first ever R&B saxophone solo. He wrote his name into musical history and later, so would Stanley Turrentine.

During the fifties, Stanley Turrentine was a member of Lowell Fulson and Earl Bostic‘s bands.  However, when he joined  Earl Bostic‘s band he was literally standing in the shadow of a giant as he replaced John Coltrane in 1953. Stanley Turrentine was also a member of pianist Tadd Dameron’s band during this period. Then in the mid-fifties  Stanley Turrentine was drafted.

During his time serving his country, Stanley Turrentine received the only formal musical training he ever had. When he left the US Army in 1959 he was a much more complete musician.

Upon leaving the military, Stanley Turrentine joined Max Roach’s band. He featured on four albums by the jazz drummer including 1959s Moon Faced and Starry Eyed, 1960s Quiet As It’s Kept and Parisian Sketches plus 1964s Long as You’re Living. However, when Stanley Turrentine wasn’t working with Max Roach he was in constant demand as a sideman.

Another album he played in during 1959 was Abbey Lincoln’s Abbey Is Blue. This was just the start of prolific period for Stanley Turrentine, who by then, had met his future wife.

As the new decade decade dawned, Stanley Turrentine married organist Shirley Scott in 1960, and the pair often played and recorded together. He accompanied his new wife on nine albums between 1961 and 1978. However, there was no sign of Shirley Scott when Stanley Turrentine recorded his debut album.

In 1960, he signed to Blue Note Records and on June the 16th recorded the six tracks with drummer Al Harewood, bassist George Tucker and pianist Horace Parlan that became Look Out! It was a recording of traditional bop which was quite different from his later bluesy, soul-jazz outings. However, his debut  was well received by critics who were impressed by the power, clarity and sweet and articulate album where Stanley Turrentine played within himself. Look Out! was a sign of what was to come from Stanley Turrentine.

Apart from recording his debut album Look Out! in 1960,  Stanley Turrentine recorded Blue Hour, a collaboration with and The Three Sounds. It was recorded on June the ‘29th’ and December ‘16th’ 1960 at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, in New Jersey.

That was also where hard bop and post bop pianist Horace Parlan recorded his album Speakin’ My Piece on July the ‘14th’ 1960. It was just one of a number of albums Stanley Turrentine played on during 1960. These albums were released during 1961.

As 1961 dawned, Stanley Turrentine journeyed to Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, in New Jersey on January the ’20th’ 1961 to record his sophomore album Comin’ Your Way.

 It featured six tracks including Dorothy Fields and Albert Hague’s My Girl Is Just Enough Woman For Me; Yip Harburg  and Arthur Schwartz’s Then I’ll Be Tired of You; Leon Mitchell’s Fine L’il Lass; George and Ira Gershwin’s Someone to Watch Over Me and Wild Bill Davis’ Stolen Sweets. While Stanley Turrentine didn’t write any of the tracks on Comin’ Your Way, his brother Tommy contributed Thomasville and joined the band. 

Just like in his debut album, tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine was joined by  drummer Al Harewood, bassist George Tucker and pianist Horace Parlan.The addition of his brother Tommy Turrentine on trumpet meant Comin’ Your Way was a quintet recording.

The session was engineered and ran by Rudy Van Gelder with Alfred Lion producing Comin’ Your Way. It found Stanley Turrentine moving away from the traditional bop of his debut album towards a bluesy soul-jazz sound.  

Comin’ Your Way opens with a pliant and swinging version of My Girl Is Just Enough Woman For Me. While the rhythm section of drummer Al Harewood and bassist George Tucker create a jolting  groove, Stanley Turrentine takes centrestage when he plays the main melody with an expressiveness and a  smoothness that many of contemporaries would be envious of. However, he’s not finished and raises the bar with a solo that twists and turns. Then like any good bandleader, Stanley Turrentine lets other band members showcase their skills. This includes hs brother Tommy on trumpet and pianist Horace Parlan on this breathtaking opener.

Many people will know and love Ella Fitzgerald’s version of Then I’ll Be Tired of You. After one listen to the quintet’s cover that will be the case here. Tommy Turrentine takes centrestage before the baton passes to his brother and bandleader Stanley. Just like on his debut album he plays within himself, playing tender and emotively. When Tommy returns he ads to the sense of melancholy before later, the two horns combine on this beautiful, wistful, late night  ballad. 

There’s almost a subdued sound to Fine L’il Lass before Stanley Turrentine’s plays his a soulful saxophone solo.  Later, George Tucker plays his only bass solo on the album. By then, this soulful track is starting to reveal its secrets, and is swinging.

Thomasville was penned by the older of the Turrentine brothers and is a blistering, driving slice of hard bop. Drummer Al Harewood drives and powers the arrangement along and also adds some swing. When it’s time for the solos it’s Stanley Turrentine whose up first and then his brother Tommy. It’s then time for Horace Parlan to steals the show with an uber funky piano solo, before Al Harewood  enjoys a brief moment in the sun. Just like on the album opener,  Stanley Turrentine allows his band the opportunity to shine on this hard bop opus.

Very different is the Gershwin’s standard Someone To Watch Over Me. It’s another beautiful, emotive ballad where Stanley Turrentine mournful, melancholy tenor saxophone plays a starring role. It’s soul-baring sound is accompanied by the rhythm section who take great care to play within themselves. In doing so, they play their part in a breathtakingly beautiful version of a much-loved jazz standard.

Closing Comin’ Your Way is Stolen Sweets which was written by R&B organist Wild Bill Davis. Following what’s akin to a fanfare, the Turrentine brothers lock horns as they play a series of ascending melodies. Then Tommy Turrentine drops out and leaves his younger brother to showcase his considerable talents as he plays an emotive and impassioned  bop-tinged solo. Although Comin’ Your Way was only his sophomore album, Stanley Turrentine was determined to close the album on a high and does so.

After Stanley Turrentine and his band recorded  Comin’ Your Way in January 1961, the twenty-six year old bandleader must have been looking forward to what was a breathtaking album of soul-jazz with diversions via hard bop and balladry. Here was an album that showcased the considerable talents of Stanley Turrentine and his band. They had accompanied him on his debut album with the exception of his brother Tommy, and he proved to be the missing piece of the jigsaw.  

Tommy Turrentine could prove the perfect accompaniment for his brother, and other times was the perfect foil. Sometimes, he spurred his younger brother on to even greater heights and helped bring out the best in Stanley Turrentine. While he had been playing professionally for a while, he was relatively inexperienced as a bandleader and solo artist. Maybe having his elder brother beside him in the studio brought out the best in him. Stanley Turrentine playing is almost flawless on Comin’ Your Way and why executives at Blue Note Records decided to shelf the album at the last moment seems strange?

In its place, Up At “Minton’s”, a live album that was recorded at the famous Harlem venue, just one month after the Comin’ Your Way session was released by Blue Note Records later in 1961. The album was a success, and Up At “Minton’s” Volume 2 followed later in 1961. This allowed  executives at Blue Note Records to argue that their decision to shelf Comin’ Your Way was vindicated. That is debatable as it may have been a much more successful album than Up At “Minton’s” and could’ve transformed Stanley Turrentine’s nascent solo career.

He spent the rest of the sixties signed to Blue Note Records and released albums of the quality of Hustlin’,  Easy Walker, The Spoiler and The Look Of Love. Then as the seventies dawned, Stanley Turrentine left Blue Note Records.

In 1970 Stanley Turrentine signed to Creed Taylor’s CTI Records and changed direction musically. He recorded a series of albums of fusion including one of his finest outings Sugar which was released in 1970.

The  following year 1971, Stanley Turrentine and Shirley Scott divorced after eleven years of marriage. Sadly, this talented couple never recorded another album together.

Following his divorce, Stanley Turrentine continued to record for CTI Records and released several critically acclaimed album. This included  Salt Song, Cherry with Milt Jackson and Don’t Mess With Mister T.  Then in 1974, Stanley Turrentine left CTI Records and signed for Fantasy Records. It was the end of an era.

Just like his time at Blue Note Record and CTI Records, Stanley Turrentine was prolific during his time at Fantasy Records. He released nine albums between 1974 and 1980 which encompassed a variety of styles.  These albums were orchestrated by the likes of Gene Page and featured an all-star group. Despite that, the albums received mixed reviews, with some of the negative reviews often unwarranted. The Fantasy Records’ years weren’t as successful as Stanley Turrentine’s time at Blue Note Record and CTI Records.

In 1978, Comin’ Your Way was discovered in the Blue Note Records’ vaults and belatedly released as part of the Jubilee Shouts’ two LP compilation in America. 

Another nine years passed before Comin’ Your Way  was released on LP and CD by Blue Note Records in 1987. It was a case of better late than never. At last, record buyers were able to hear Stanley Turrentine’s stunning, mythical lost album of soul-jazz, hard bop and beautiful ballads which had the potential to transform his nascent solo career if it had been released in 1961.

Stanley Turrentine-Comin’ Your Way.

LOCOMOTIVE-WE ARE EVERYTHING YOU SEE.

Locomotive-We Are Everything You See.

Label: Magic Box.  

By 1965, all over Britain, new groups were being founded every day. They had watched as The Beatles and the rest of the British Invasion groups took America by storm. The new groups watched enviously, hoping and dreaming that one day soon, they would be signed by a record label.

For many of these groups, they would’ve been happy to release even one single. It would be something to show the grandchildren in the future. 

Others groups however, wanted more than that. While they recognised the importance of singles, they wanted to make a statement musically, and the only way to do that was by releasing an album. They could also explore and fuse different musical genres and experiment musically. Birmingham-based Locomotive did all this on their 1970 debut album We Are Everything You See, which was recently released on vinyl by Magic Box. However, the story begins five years earlier in 1965. 

That was when the group the Kansas City Seven was founded in Birmingham, England, by trumpeter Jim Simpson and singer Danny King, drummer Mike Kellie, bassist Pete Allen, organist Richard Storey and saxophonists Chris Wood and Brian “Monk” Finch. They had all been members of other local bands before joining forces in the Kansas City Seven. 

Initially, the new group played a variety of music including jazz. However, when they started to play more R&B and soul and less jazz, they changed their name to The Locomotive. That was when the group started to gain a reputation for their live performances. However, as is often the case with new bands, The Locomotive’s started to change.

By the end of 1966, Chris Wood had left to join Steve Winwood, Dave Mason and Jim Capaldi in Traffic.  Danny King, Mike Kellie, Pete Allen, Richard Storey and Brian “Monk” Finch all left The Locomotive. Jim Simpson was the only original member of the group. 

During this period, new arrivals included drummer “Mooney” Mezzone,  bassist Jo Ellis, keyboardist Norman Haines and saxophonist Bill Madge. The arrival of Norman Haines was particularly important to the development of  The Locomotive.

Norman Haines had worked in a record shop in Smethwick, a district of Birmingham, where he developed an interest in ska. 

He also filled the void after vocalist Danny King’s departure from the group. For The Locomotive this was the start of a new era.

By 1967, The Locomotive had signed to the Direction label and had recorded their debut single Broken Heart, which was written by Norman Haines. Tucked away on the B-Side was a cover of Dandy Livingstone’s Rudy-A Message To You  which twelve years later in 1979, gave The Specials a hit single. That was still to come.

Before that, Broken Heart was released by The Locomotive and their debut single gave them a hit single in 1967. This could’ve launched the group’s career.

In 1968, Jim Simpson left the group and became The Locomotive’s manager. He also setup a new record label Big Bear Records. This wasn’t the end of the changes in changes in lineup.

Bassist Jo Ellis was replaced by Mick Hincks, while drummer “Mooney” Mezzone left and his replacement was Bob Lamb. The final change in personnel was the addition of Mick Taylor who replaced Jim Simpson who was now The Locomotive’s manager. 

It was also at this time that The Locomotive decided to shorten their name to Locomotive.  They also signed to Parlophone Records, and it was full steam ahead for Locomotive.

Their sophomore single was another Norman Haines composition, Rudi’s In Love. When it was released in late 1968, it reached twenty-five in the UK charts and gave the group another hit single. Executives at Parlophone Records wanted to build on the momentum, and work began on Locomotive’s debut album.

The majority of the album was written by the band. Mick Hincks penned Rain, Mick Taylor wrote Now Is The EndThe End Is When and Overture was written by Nigel Phillips who cowrote Nobody Asked You To Come, A Day In Shining Armour and The Loves Of Augustus Abbey-Parts One, Two and Three with Norman Haines. He also contributed Mr. Armageddon, Lay Me Down Gently, You Must Be Joking and Times Of Light And Darkness. They were joined by covers of the United States Of America’s Coming Down and Love Song For The Dead Che on what would eventually become We Are Everything You See.

By the time recording took place at Abbey Road Studios, with producer Gus Dudgeon, Locomotive had changed direction musically and were playing progressive rock. This was based around Norman Haines’ keyboard skills. We Are Everything You See was going to be a very different album than their first two singles.

As the recording began,  Locomotive’s lineup featured drummer and percussionist Bob Lamb, bassist Mick Hincks who added backing vocalist and sang the lead on Rain. Norman Haines took charge of the rest of the lead vocals and played harpsichord, mellotron, organ and piano. Horns came courtesy of trumpeters Mick Taylor and Henry Lowther plus tenor saxophonists Bill Madge, Chris Mercer, Dick Heckstall-Smith and Lyn Dobson plus trumpeter Henry Lowther. While the completed album saw Locomotive move in the direction of progressive rock, there were also elements of progressive folk, psychedelia, soul and a good deal of jazz,  especially the changes in tempo. Executives at Parlophone Records were in for a surprise when they heard We Are Everything You See.

That’s the case from the album opener Overture, a cinematic and symphonic sounding track that is a tantalising taste of what’s to come. This includes the dramatic sounding  Mr. Armageddon. The drama comes courtesy of the vocal, washes of organ and sweeping, swirling string. Horns add to to the drama in We Are Everything You See, a lysergic, progressive rock track where effects are used effectively by Locomotive and producer Gus Dudgeon. Then Lay Me Down finds Locomotive seamlessly switching between rock and jazz, while there’s a progressive folk sound to Nobody Asked You To Come. Closing side one is You Must Be Joking, a carefully crafted, melodic and memorable genre-melting track which is one of the highlights of the album.

Elements of progressive rock,  jazz and even R&B can be heard on A Day In Shining Armour, where Locomotive showcase their versatility and ability to switch between and fuse disparate genres. This they continue to do on The Loves of Augustus Abbey, Parts 1-3 which features on side two. Unlike other similar suites, it’s broken up by other tracks including the wistful and ruminative sounding Rain which features Mick Hincks only lead vocal. There’s also a “suite” of United States Of America’s Coming Down and Love Song For The Dead Che which later featured on several progressive compilations. Closing the album was the lysergic and anthemic rocker Times Of Light and Darkness which closes this hidden gem of an album on a high.  

It was a very different album to the one executives at Parlophone Records expected. So much so, that when they heard it, they decided to delay the release of the album. This was a huge disappointment for the group.

It also caused a great deal of uncertainty and Parlophone Records decided that Locomotive should record a cover of Question Mark and the Mysterians’ I’m Never Gonna Let You Go. When it was released later in 1969, i sunk without trace. Things then went from bad to worse.

Keyboardist Norman Haines left the group later in 1969. He was then asked to join Black Sabbath, but turned down the chance and formed the Norman Haines Band. This wasn’t his best decision, and Locomotive had lost one of its creative forces.

Later in 1969, Mr. Armageddan was released as the lead single from We Are Everything You See. However, just like Locomotive’s previous single it failed to trouble the charts.  This didn’t augur well for the release of their debut album.

As the seventies dawned, We Are Everything You See was belatedly released in early 1970. While the album was well received by critics who appreciated Locomotive’s new and more sophisticated sound, their fans weren’t won over by it. They preferred the group’s previous R&B sound and the album failed commercially.  For Locomotive this was another disaster and spelt the end of the line for that lineup of the group.

After the release of We Are Everything You See most of the group left. Only Mick Hincks and Bob Lamb remained and tried to continue Locomotive with two new members John Caswell and Keith Millar. The new lineup released one more single a Locomotive,  Roll Over Mary.

Later in 1970, Locomotive was no more, after group as renamed as The Dog That Bit People. The new band released their eponymous debut album in 1971, but spilt up later that year. 

Fifty years after the release of We Are Everything You See, Music Box has rereleased Locomotive’s only album on vinyl. For too long it was an oft-overlooked album, but nowadays We Are Everything You See is starting to receive the recognition this  progressive cult classic deserves. 

It’s not just an album of progressive rock. We Are Everything You See also features  elements of progressive folk, psychedelia, R&B, soul and jazz. Throughout the album  Locomotive switch between and fuse disparate genres and seamlessly change tempo on an album where the vocals are impassioned, emotive and sometimes sound almost tormented. It’s a captivating album and a reminder of one of the great lost British groups of the late-sixties and early seventies. Sadly, their star only was shining brightly for only a short period of time. We Are Everything You See is a reminder of Locomotive, a tight, talented and versatile band whose music on what was an album of ambitious, imaginative and innovative music that features a band at the peak of their powers when their star was shining at its brightest.

Locomotive-We Are Everything You See.

CULT CLASSIC: LONNIE MACK-THE WHAM OF THAT MEMPHIS MAN!

Cult Classic: Lonnie Mack-The Wham Of That Memphis Man!

By 1963, twenty-two year old Lonnie Mack was already an experienced musician. He had been making a living as a musician since he was thirteen. That was when Lonnie Mack quit school, after getting involved in an argument with a teacher. For most thirteen year olds, this would’ve spelt disaster. This wasn’t the case for Lonnie Mack. He knew exactly what he wanted to do with his life…make a career out of music.

That’s what Lonnie Mack went on to do. He recorded thirteen albums during a career a career that spanned six decades including his debut album was The Wham Of That Memphis Man!  By then, Lonnie Mack was being hailed a musical pioneer who had changed music.  However, when Lonnie embarked upon a musical career aged thirteen this must have seemed a pipe dream to Lonnie’s parents, Robert and Sarah Sizemore McIntosh. 

They were living in West Harrison, Indiana when the future Lonnie Mack was born on July 18th 1941. He grew up in a series of farms along the Ohio River. However, by the time Lonnie Mack was seven, he had already developed an interest in music. The young Lonnie Mack swapped his bicycle for an acoustic guitar. It would soon prove to a wise move.

It was Lonnie Mack’s mother that showed him a few rudimentary chords on his new guitar. After this Lonnie practised long and hard, in an attempt to master the guitar. Then when his finders were sore with practising, he would listen to The Grand Ole Opry on a battered old radio. It was powered by a truck battery, as there was no electricity in the McIntosh house. Listening to the stars of The Grand Ole Opry made Lonnie all the more determined to master his guitar. 

Before long, Lonnie Mack had mastered the acoustic guitar, and would sit outside the family home and playing country music. Passers-by would throw spare change to Lonni3. Soon, he was braving the nearby hobo jungle, where he would play for spare change. Little did Lonnie know, that he was serving what was akin to the first part of his musical apprenticeship.

Lonnie Mack’s musical apprenticeship ended somewhat suddenly, when he was thirteen. He got involved in an argument with one of his teachers. When Lonnie came off second best, he vowed never to return. He was as good as his word, and that proved to be the end of his formal education. Now the next chapter in Lonnie’s life began; when he decided to embark upon a career as a musician.

There was a problem though. Lonnie Mack was only thirteen, and too young to play in Cincinnati’s bars and roadhouses around.  Luckily, Lonnie looked older, so with the help of a fake id, he was able to play in Cincinnati’s bars and roadhouses. They were a tough and uncompromising audience, but this never phased Lonnie . Nothing seemed to.

Not even the thought of forming his own band or making an appearance on television. This came after Lonnie Mack heard Elvis Presley and Carl Perkins. This inspired him to form his own rockabilly trio. They were invited to appear on a local television show, and covered Blue Suede Shoes. For fifteen year old, Lonnie Mack this was his first, but wouldn’t be his last television appearance. Not long after this, Lonnie played on his first recording.

This came when Lonnie Mack played on a session by Al Dexter. He was recording Pistol Packin’ Mama. Later, Lonnie played on two single by his cousins Aubrey Holt and Harley Gabbard. Already, it seemed, Lonnie was comfortable within the environs of a recording studio. However, before long, he would make a change to his sound.

Up until then, Lonnie Mack’s musical weapon of choice had been a Gibson Kalamazoo. However, in 1958 Lonnie decided to buy a Gibson Flying V. This came at a cost. The Gibson Flying V was an expensive and desirable guitar. Lonnie knew this, and was willing to pay $300 to order the new guitar. Maybe he secretly knew it would be a musical investment? Especially when he added the final piece of the jigsaw? Then his trademark sound would be complete.

Over the next few years,  Lonnie gigged regularly throughout Ohio. It was in the early sixties at the Twilight Inn, that club owner Frog Childs christened Lonnie’s band. Thereafter, they became known as  Lonnie Mack and The Twiliters. However,  when Lonnie heard Robert Ward play in 1960 he realised what was missing from his sound..,a tube driven amplifier.

This was what gave Robert Ward’s guitar the rich vibrato sound. When Lonnie Mack asked about the amplifier, Robert Ward explained it was a tube driven Magnatone 460 amplifier. However, it had been modified, and included an inbuilt electronic vibrato. Instantly, Lonnie knew that this amplifier could transform his guitar sound. He went out and bought one of the amplifiers, and Lonnie’s trademark sound was complete.

With the new amplifier Lonnie Mack showcased his new sound.  This involved Lonnie fitting the thickest strings available to his guitar. However, the Magnatone 460 amplifier was crucial to what Lonnie called a “watery” sound. Later, Lonnie added a Magnatone 440 amplifier, and ran it through a Fender Twin guitar amplifier. Gradually, Lonnie began to experiment, changing amplifiers to suit venues. At one point, he used an organ amplifier, which Lonnie described as a “rotating, fluttery sound.” That was still to come. Before that, Lonnie was a session musician at Fraternity Records, based in Cincinnati, Ohio

After working at Fraternity Records for a few years, Lonnie Mack’s solo career began on 12th March 1963. The sessions took place at King Records’ studio, where Lonnie and his band were backing The Charmaines, who were signed to Fraternity Records. At the end of the sessions, there was just enough time for Lonnie and his band to lay down an instrumental version of Chuck Berry’s Memphis. The with literally minutes to spare. Lonnie and his band recorded his own composition Down In The Dumps. When producer Carl Edmondson heard the recordings, he thought they had potential.

So Carl Edmondson went to see Harry Carlson, who owned Fraternity Records. Harry Carlson agreed, and decided to release Memphis as a single. 

By the time Memphis was released, Lonnie Mack was out on tour, working with the Troy Seals band. Troy had been a member of Lonnie band in the late fifties; and the two men had been friends ever since. So when news came through that Memphis reached number five in the US R&B charts, it was a cause for celebration. 

The release of instrumental version of Memphis saw Lonnie Mack hailed a musical pioneer. The electric guitar took centre-stage on Memphis, as Lonnie unleashed breathtaking and blistering solos. Lonnie played with speed, accuracy and some said, aggression. Other guitarists could only look on enviously. It was obvious to them that the arrival of Lonnie was a game changer. Critics agreed, hailing Lonnie a musical pioneer. Already, Lonnie’s thoughts had turned to the followup to Memphis.

For his sophomore single, Lonnie Mack chose one of his own compositions, Wham. On the B-Side, he added a cover of Dale Hawkins, Stanley Lewis and Eleanor Broadwater’s Suzy-Q. Everyone thought that Wham would repeat the success of Memphis. However, the single stalled at twenty-four on the US R&B charts. Wham dissevered to fare much better. Lonnie’s sophomore single had been short-changed. It featured another breathtaking performance from Lonnie, as he unleashed  a series of blistering solos on Wham. Again, he played with speed, accuracy, determination even a little aggression.  Lonnie’s rivals were awestruck, as he drew inspiration from the blues and R&B to create his own unique blues-rock sound. It would go on to influence everyone from Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck; to Duane Allman and Stevie Ray Vaughan; and even Ted Nugent and Bootsy Collins. However, in 1963, Lonnie was thinking no further than his next single.

The song chosen, was Jimmy Reed’s Baby, What’s Wrong. On the flip-side, was Lou William’s Where There’s A Will (There’s A Way). On its release later in 1963, the Carl Edmondson entered the US Billboard 100. Usually, this would’ve been a cause for celebration. Not this time.  Baby, What’s Wrong reached a lowly ninety-three on the US Billboard 100. For Lonnie Mack, this was a bitter blow. It had been downhill since the release of his debut single. Despite this, Fraternity Records’ owner Harry Carlson agreed to release Lonnie’s debut album The Wham Of That Memphis Man! in October 1963.

In many ways, Harry Carlson had little to lose. The Wham Of That Memphis Man! featured Lonnie Mack’s first three singles and their B-Sides. To this, two new songs from Lonnie  and three cover versions were added. Lonnie penned the ironically titled Down and Out and Why. The cover versions included Hank Ballard’s I’ll Keep You Happy; Martha Carson’s Satisfied and Charlie Fizer, Eddie Lewis and Walter Ward’s The Bounce. These songs were recorded at King Records’ studio and produced by Edmondson. Once the tracks were recorded, Fraternity Records began work on the release of Lonnie Mack’s debut album.

The Wham Of That Memphis Man! was released in October 1963, and was hailed a groundbreaking album. Critics and record buyers had never heard  an album like The Wham Of That Memphis Man! Partly, that was down to Lonnie Mack’s  band.

Accompanying Lonnie Mack on The Wham Of That Memphis Man! were a rhythm section of drummer Ron Grayson and bassist Wayne Bullock. Pianist Fred Stemmerding was joined by a horn section of Irv Russotto, Marv Lieberman and tenor saxophonist Donald Henry, who also added maracas. He and the rest of the band provide eleven backdrops that veer between bluesy and soulful. Meanwhile Lonnie Mack steps up and unleashes a series of breathtaking, virtuoso performances. 

Wham! opens The Wham Of That Memphis Man! which is two minutes of foot to the floor music. Growling horns add an element of drama, as the rhythm section power the arrangement along. When the horns drop out, up steps Lonnie Mack. He unleashes a blistering solo. It climbs high above the arrangement, as the fleet fingered virtuoso never misses a note. Later, when the horns return, Lonnie and the band are heading towards a crescendo, and do so in style. However, it’s Lonnie the musical pioneer, that steals the show.

Where There’s A Will (There’s A Way) shows another side to Lonnie Mack. It’s a heartfelt, soulful ballad, where gospel tinged harmonies accompany Lonnie. He delivers a soul-baring vocal, as the rhythm section, origin and harmonies provide a slow backdrop. This proves the perfect accompaniment to his vocal which later, becomes needy, impassioned and emotive. It’s a track that shows there’s more to Lonnie Mack than a fleet fingered guitar slinger.

Braying horns join the jaunty rhythm section in driving the arrangement to The Bounce along. They’re joined by Lonnie, and his shimmering, vibrato guitar. Its crystalline sound is accompanied by punchy, soulful harmonies. Meanwhile, Lonnie fingers fly up and down the fretboard. Later, a backing vocalist sings: “just one more time.” She sings calla and response, as Lonnie and the bands head for the finishing line and another impressive crescendo.

I’ll Keep You Happy marks another change in style. Lonnie delivers another heartfelt, needy vocal. He’s joined by backing vocalists, while the rhythm section and wistful piano create a slow meandering backdrop for this ballad. His vocal veers between needy to hopeful, as Lonnie breathes emotion into the lyrics. It’s further proof that Lonnie was a talented vocalist, as well as a virtuoso guitarist.

Memphis was the single that launched Lonnie Mack’s career. Choppy, bristling and chiming guitar licks join the rhythm section, and add a degree of urgency. The guitar is crucial to the sound and success of this instrumental. Especially, as this instrumental unfolds. By then, Lonnie has taken centre-stage and is playing a starring role. His searing, blistering guitar is played briskly, chirping and chiming. A hint of vibrato is used sparingly, before the choppy licks bookend this instrumental version of Chuck Berry’s Memphis. It’s one of the highlights of The Wham Of That Memphis Man. 

Baby, What’s Wrong was written by a giant of the blues Jimmy Reed. It’s given a makeover by Lonnie Mack. Choppy, chirping guitar licks join the rhythm section in setting the scene for Lonnie’s vocal. It’s full of hurt and sadness, as he asks “Baby, What’s Wrong with you.” Backing vocalists accompany and then augment his scorching guitar solo. They add soaring harmonies, before Lonnie rejoins them. He adds a vocal, while adding a bristling guitar solo. It rings out, as the punchy and later, soulful harmonies join Lonnie’s hurt-filled vocal. By then, it’s obvious that this another of Lonnie’s finest moments. Despite this, commercial success eluded this song when it was released as a single. Fifty-three later, and this reworking of Baby, What’s Wrong has an almost timeless sound.

Down And Out is a slow, bluesy shuffle. The horns add to the bluesy sound while stabs of piano help the rhythm section drive the arrangement along. Meanwhile, Lonnie unleashes a vibrato soaked guitar solo. It shimmers, glistens and quivers. Other times Lonnie plays with urgency and aggression, before later, deploying speed and accuracy. This shows how versatile a guitarist he is. However, playing an important part in the sound of the bluesy instrumental, are Lonnie’s band. They frame another spellbinding performance from the virtuoso guitarist, as he pioneers the blues rock sound.

Horns bray, and washes of organ join the rhythm section on Satisfied. It has a surprise in store. This comes when  Lonnie sings: “on well you ask me if I’m happy, I have a peace within, if I worry…as I reach my journey’s end.” This gospel track is reworked by Lonnie, and shows yet another side to him and his music. Blazing horns, gospel tinged, soaring harmonies testify as Lonnie unleashes an impassioned, powerful vocal. It’s soulful and delivered with sincerity as also Lonnie adds  a guitar part. This time, it’s Lonnie’s vocal that steals the show. Aided and abetted by the backing vocalists, Martha Carson’s song takes on new life and meaning; and back in 1963, was heard by a new audience.

Dale Hawkins is regarded as being responsible for the definitive version of Susie Q. Despite this, Lonnie’s version is one of the best cover versions. Subtle rasping horns punctuate the arrangement while the rhythm section provide the heartbeat. Meanwhile, Lonnie’s crystalline, chiming and bristling guitar soars above the arrangement. It quivers, as vibrato is added and steals the show. Especially, as Lonnie’s fingers fly up and down the fretboard at breakneck speed. All this effort is well worthwhile, and results in one of the best cover versions of Susie Q. 

Slow, bluesy and moody describes Why. Lonnie’s crystalline guitar quivers, ringing out as blues horns join the rhythm section. They set the scene for Lonnie’s heartbroken vocal. He delivers the lyrics as if he’s lived them. His vocal is a mixture of power, emotion and hurt. Meanwhile, cooing harmonies soothe and sympathise. Lonnie continues to lay bare his soul on this tale of hurt and heartbreak. It’s without doubt one of the best songs Lonnie wrote for The Wham Of That Memphis Man! and is one of most moving songs on the album.

Down In The Dumps closes The Wham Of That Memphis Man! It’s another instrumental, penned by Lonnie Mack. His quivering guitar is joined by braying horns as the rhythm section and piano drive the arrangement along. Soon, the scorching guitars soar high above the arrangement. When they drop out, Lonnie’s guitar takes centre-stage. From there, the horns and guitar play leading roles, on what’s a perfect showcase for Lonnie Mack and his talented band.

Despite the undeniable quality of The Wham Of That Memphis Man!, the album reached just 103 in the US Billboard 200 when it was released in October 1963. Those that bought a copy of The Wham Of That Memphis Man! heard a musical pioneer, who changed the future direction of music.

Suddenly, the electric guitar could play a starring role in track. It was no longer just playing a supporting role. Nobody tried this before Lonnie Mack released Memphis and Wham as singles. They were game-changers, which would influence several generations of musicians. Everyone from Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck to Duane Allman, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Ted Nugent were inspired by Lonnie Mack. They owe him a debt of gratitude.

Without Lonnie Mack, the musical landscape would be very different. Many musical historian credit Lonnie for laying the foundations for Southern Rock. Lonnie Mack was also a pioneer of blues rock, but was equally comfortable playing rock ’n’ roll, rockabilly and singing soul. Indeed, Lonnie Mack is regarded as one of the greatest blue eyed soul singers in musical history. He shows his considerable skills as a vocalist and guitarist on The Wham Of That Memphis Man!  

Although it’s an important and influential album, it wasn’t a hugely successful upon its release and isn’t as well known as it should be. The Wham Of That Memphis Man! is a cult classic whose importance is understood by musicians and critics who realise it’s a gamechanger of an album. It’s also an album that’s stood the test of time and is a reminder of a multitalented and versatile musician, as he embarked upon a recording career that lasted until 1990. During that period, Lonnie Mack released thirteen solo albums. Sadly, in 1990, Lonnie Mack called time on his recording career.

That wasn’t the end of Lonnie Mack’s career. He continued to play live up until the early years of the new millennia. Sadly, on April 21st 2016, Lonnie Mack passed away in Smithville, Tennessee. Lonnie Mack was only seventy-five. That day, music lost a true pioneer, whose had a huge influence in modern music. Even today, Lonnie Mack continues to influence a generation of guitarists and his debut album The Wham Of That Memphis Man! is a fitting reminder of a truly versatile and talented musician who is sadly missed, but will always be remembered.

Cult Classic: Lonnie Mack-The Wham Of That Memphis Man!

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CULT CLASSIC: GARY BARTZ-LOVE SONG.

Cult Classic: Gary Bartz-Love Song.

By 1976, saxophonist Gary Bartz’s reputation was on the rise.This came as no surprise to those within the jazz community. Already, Gary Bartz had played with some of the biggest names in jazz. Especially before he formed his own band in 1969.

Baltimore born Gary Bartz had started his career playing with Max Roach and Abbey Lincoln in 1964. This came about when Gary happened to meet Max Roach in Baltimore a few years earlier. The two men swapped numbers and kept in touch. Eventually, Gary decided to move to New York. Max Roach had given him his number, and told Gary to phone him when he arrived in New York. 

Upon his arrival in the Big Apple, Gary Bartz phoned Max Roach. He took the young saxophonist under his wing, and even brought him into his band. For Gary Bartz, this opened doors that might have remained closed.

In 1965, Gary Bartz spread his wings and joined Art Blakeley’s Messengers. Gary who could play alto and soprano saxophone became the Messengers’ new alto saxophonist. He made his recording debut on Art Blakey’s 1966 album Hold On I’m Coming.  This was the start of a prolific recording career.

Two years later, and Gary Bartz was back working with Max Roach. He played on his 1968 album Members, Don’t Git Weary.  The same year, Gary played on Roy Ayers’ Stoned Soul Picnic, and on Helen Merill’s A Shade Of Difference. Gary also joined McCoy Tyner’s band and was a member from 1968 until 1976. However, the most significant release of 1968 was Gary’s debut as bandleader.

The Gary Bartz Quintet released their debut album Libra in 1968. It had been recorded on May 31st and June 15th 1967 at Plaza Sound Studios, New York. Libra was released in 1968 by Milestone Recordings. They would also release Gary’s next release, Another Earth in 1969. That was the year Gary release one of his most famous bands, Gary Bartz NTU Troop.

Over the five years, Gary Bartz NTU Troop would release six groundbreaking albums. That was no surprise, Gary was aided and abetted by all-star cast that included Andy Bey, Ron Carter, Stafford James and Woody Shaw. However, throughout the life of Gary Bartz NTU Troop, their lineup, just like the music would evolve. Gary Bartz NTU Troop’s debut album featured a sextet. It was released their debut album as the seventies dawned.

This was Home, which was released on Milestone Records in 1970. This was followed by the release of two of Gary Bartz NTU Troop’s finest albums during 1971, Harlem Bush Music-Uluru and Harlem Bush Music-Taifa. Both were innovative, genre-melting albums where elements of avant-garde were combined with free jazz, jazz funk and post bop. These two albums brought Gary Bartz NTU Troop to the attention of Prestige.

Gary Bartz NTU Troop signed to Prestige and released their fourth album Ju Ju Street Songs in 1972. It was another ambitious album. This time though, the music moved in the direction of fusion. It seemed that Gary Bartz NTU Troop were a musical chameleons, their music constantly changing to ensure it stayed relevant.

That was the case when they released Follow, The Medicine Man was released in 1973. Everything from jazz-funk and fusion to avant-garde and soul could be heard on Follow, The Medicine Man. Later in 1973, Gary Bartz NTU Troop returned with a  double live album. I’ve Known Rivers and Other Bodies had been recorded Montreux Jazz Festival, in Switzerland on Saturday, July 7th 1973. By then, the lineup featured Gary, Howard King and Stafford James. Despite being reduced to a trio, the Gary Bartz NTU Troop produced a show-steeling performance, which is replicated on I’ve Known Rivers and Other Bodies. This proved  to be their swan-song.

Although one further album was released, it didn’t bear the Gary Bartz NTU Troop name. Instead, when Singerella-A Ghetto Fairy Tale was released in 1974, it was credited to Ntu Gary Bartz. This was the only album that Ntu Gary Bartz released. After this, Gary Bartz returned to his solo career.

Accompanied by some top New York based session players, Gary Bartz bang work on sophomore album. This would become The Shadow Do. It was released on Prestige in 1975, and was the start of a new chapter in the career of Gary Bartz. This continued when Gary Bartz released Ju Ju Man in 1976.

Ju Ju Man.

After the release of The Shadow Do, Gary Bartz began work on his third solo album. He wrote the title-track Ju Ju Man and Pisces Daddy Blue. The other three tracks were cover versions. This included Rogers and Hart’s My Funny Valentine, John Coltrane’s Straight Street and Billy Strayhorn’s Chelsea Street. These five tracks would become Ju Ju Man, which was recorded by some top session players.

Recording of Ju Ju Man took place at Sage and Sound Studio, Hollywood, Los Angeles during 1976. Accompanying Gary Bartz, were a rhythm section of drummer bassist Howard King and Curtis Robertson. He switched between acoustic and electric bass on Ju Ju Man. The other members of the band were pianist Charles Mims Jr, and vocalist Syreeta whose vocal features on My Funny Valentine. On Ju Ju Man, Gary Bartz showcased his versatility. The reedman played alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, clarinet, synths and added vocals. Taking care of production was Pat Britt. Once the five tracks that became Ju Ju Man were completed, the album was released later in 1976.

Before that, critics had their say on Ju Ju Man. They were won over by what was the strongest album of Gary Bartz’s solo career. It had a much more traditional jazz sound. There were neither diversions into avant-garde nor free jazz, like in the days of the Gary Bartz NTU Troop. This much more traditional sound, was the perfect showcase for Gary Bartz and his band.

That was the case from Ju Ju Man, where vocals pay homage to John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme. Just like the rest of Ju Ju Man, the rhythm section drive and power the arrangement along. Pianist Howard King plays a starring role. However, it’s Gary’s blistering, braying saxophone that steals the show. Soon, though it’s all changed. 

My Funny Valentine has an understated and later sultry arrangement. It’s the perfect accompaniment for Syreeta’s soulful vocal. As she takes her bow, Straight Street unfolds, and showcases a much more tradition jazzy sound, Again, Gary is at the heart of the action, as he delivers one of finest best solos on Ju Ju Man. There’s no letup, as Gary and drummer Howard King take centre-stage on Pisces Daddy Blue. Soon, the rest of the band are playing their part. However, Howard King’s piano plays a starring role, as Gary plays with controlled power on what’s blues-tinged slice of straight ahead jazz. It’s another of the highlights of Ju Ju Man. It closes with Chelsea Bridge where Gary switches to alto saxophone. There’s a slow, sparse wistful sound for much of the track. Later, the tempo increases and Gary plays with intensity and passion on what’s a quite beautiful track. 

Given the consistency and quality of Ju Ju Man, it was no surprise that critics hailed the album the finest of Gary Bartz’s career. This more traditional sound seemed to allow him to showcase his considerable talents. However, given that many regarded this as the sound jazz’s past, how popular would Ju Ju Man be?

Later in 1976, Prestige released Ju Ju Man. Despite the critical acclaim that had preceded the release of Ju Ju Man, the album failed to chart. It still found a small but loyal audience who had followed Gary Bartz’s career closely. They released that the majority of music fans had missed out on his finest solo album so far. 

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Music Is My Sanctuary.

That was until the release of Music Is My Sanctuary in 1977. This was the first album Gary Bartz released on Capitol Records. It was also  a big budget recording.

For Music Is My Sanctuary, some of the top session players were brought onboard. So were one of the most successful production teams, the Mizell brothers. However, it would be a familiar face that played a starring role on Music Is My Sanctuary, Syreeta.

She added the vocal on the anthemic title-track. It would later become synonymous with Gary Bartz. Similarly, Music Is My Sanctuary is regarded as one of Gary’s finest hours. 

It found him following in the footsteps of Donald Byrd, as he combined elements of funk, soul, jazz, fusion and even disco. This looked like being the album that brought Gary Bartz to the attention of the wider record buying public.

Music Is My Sanctuary won over the majority of critics. That was apart from jazz purists. They turned  turned their back on Music Is My Sanctuary, disappointed and disapproving of the direction Gary Bartz’s music was heading.

Despite bring released to mostly critical acclaim, Music Is My Sanctuary failed to make much of an impression on the charts. The album had been released a year to early.

Later, though, Music Is My Sanctuary would be regarded as one of Gary Bartz’s finest hour, with the title-track becoming a classic, and a favourite of DJs and compilers. However, the followup to Music Is My Sanctuary, would be another accessible album that should’ve appealed to a wider audience, Love Song.

 

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Love Song.

Despite the disappointing sales of Ju Ju Man and then Music Is My Sanctuary, Gary Bartz began work on his next solo album, Love Song, later in 1977.  For his fourth solo album he penned two new songs Afterthoughts and Love Song, which lent its name to the album. They were joined by Earl Shuman and Leon Carr’s Prelude and Lonely Girl; Eddie Holman and James Solomon’s Interlude And Don’t Stop Now; Ivy Jo Hunter, Jack Alan Goga and Jeffrey Bowden’s You and George Cables’ Interlude And Just Suppose. These six songs would become Love Song, which was recorded in the familiar surroundings of Sage and Sound Studio in L.A.

When recording of began later in 1977, the same rhythm section accompanied Gary Bartz. Drummer Howard King and basset Curtis Robertson were joined by guitarist Carl McDaniels. They were joined by keyboardist George Cables and vocalist Rita Greene. She would feature on Love Song and Interlude And Just Suppose. Adding backing vocals, were Clydie King, Shirley Matthews and Billy Thedford. Meanwhile, Gary played alto saxophone, soprano saxophone and added vocals. He also decided to take charge of production on Love Song. The result was a very different album than Ju Ju Man.

Critics realised this when they received their gold stamped promo copies in 1978. Love Song wasn’t just a jazz album. Elements of soul, R&B and pop shawn through on an album that featured familiar tracks. That’s apart from Love Song a sultry, soulful and jazzy track. The soul came courtesy of Rita Green’s vocals, which were augmented by harmonies. So were the familiar strains of Prelude and Lonely Girl, where jazz meets soul. Gary’s alto sax and harmonies play leading roles as the rhythm section provide a slow, steady backdrop. Soon, though, the tempo rises.

What doesn’t change on Interlude and Don’t Stop Now is that soul meets jazz. There’s a tougher, slightly funkier sound as the tempo ebbs and flows. This allows the band to stretch their legs. You has a similar sound as the two preceding tracks. It’s jazz-tinge and soulful, as the backing vocalists and Gary’s saxophone play leading roles. 

Then on Interlude and Just Suppose, the tempo drops as Rita Green returns. Before that, it’s just Gary accompanied by the keyboards. When Rita’s vocal enters, the track heads in the direction of jazz funk. Later, when her vocal drops out,  futuristic synths and then keyboards take the track in the direction of fusion and then jazz funk. This nine minute epic finds Gary at his most inventive, as he embraces the role of producer. Afterthoughts which closes Love Song, is a short track penned by Gary. With the piano for company, Gary produces an understated, late night, jazzy sound. Its melancholy sound is a reminder of another of  Gary’s albums, Ju Ju Man. It hadn’t found the audience it deserved. Would Love Song?

Critics found Love Song a very accessible and listenable album. It was also a much more eclectic album. There was much more than jazz on Love Song. Elements of soul, R&B, pop, funk, fusion and jazz funk can be heard. This soulful, funky, jazzy and dance-floor friendly album should’ve meant that Love Song appealed to a wider audience.

Sadly, it wasn’t to be. When Love Song was released later in 1978, the album failed to find the wider audience it deserved. Just like Ju Ju Man, it found an audience within the jazz, soul and R&B community. They welcomed this much more eclectic sounding album from Gary Bartz. However, it would only be later that Gary Bartz’s music was discovered by the wider record buying public.

Many people were introduced to Gary Bartz’s music through his previous album Music Is My Sanctuary, whose title-track later, became a favourite of compilers. This lead to record buyers digging deeper into Gary Bartz’s back-catalogue. 

Many started at the beginning, with the Gary Bartz Quintet’s 1968 album Libra. After this, record buyers discovered Gary’s 1969 debut solo album Another Earth. This was just the start. There was still Gary Bartz NTU Troop and Ntu Gary Bartz’s back-catalogue to discover. Eventually, they made their way to Gary’s solo career. The Shadow Do was Gary’s long-awaited sophomore solo album. However, it was his next album Ju Ju Man, that was one of Gary Bartz’s finest albums.

Ju Ju Man was very different to previous albums, and was an album of straight ahead jazz. This many jazz fans thought was yesterday’s sound. However, Gary Bartz was perfectly suited to this sound. It was the perfect showcase for one of the most talented reedman of his generation. Whether he was playing alto saxophone, soprano saxophone or clarinet, Gary Bartz played with power, passion inventiveness and control. Time after time, he came into his own. This was the case on 1977s Music Is My Sanctuary, and its followup, the cult classic Love Song. 

Backed by a tight, talented and versatile band, backing vocalists and Rita Green, Gary Bartz showcases his versatility on Love Song. The music is funky, jazzy, soulful and dance-floor friendly. It should’ve won over dancers, DJs as well as anyone interested in soul, jazz and funk. Alas, it wasn’t to be, and Love Song remained one of the hidden gems in Gary Bartz’s back-catalogue and features one of finest reedman of his generation at the peak of his musical powers. 

Cult Classic: Gary Bartz-Love Song.

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PAVLOV’S DOG-PAMPERED MENIAL.

Pavlov’s Dog-Pampered Menial.

Label: Music On Vinyl.

In the history of progressive rock, Pavlov’s Dog’s 1975 debut album Pampered Menial is regarded as a genre classic. That was despite the album’s commercial failure. It was released initially by ABC-Dunhill. The initial commercial failure was totally unexpected as the label had given Pavlov’s Dog a large advance, which was thought to be in the region of $650,000. For everyone concerned this wasn’t just disappointing, it was a disaster. 

Pavlov’s Dog was a big signing for ABC-Dunhill, who thought that the group’s debut album Pampered Menial was going to be a commercial success. They were regarded as rising stars of the progressive rock scene, and had come a long way in just three years. 

The Pavlov’s Dog story began in St. Louis, Missouri, in  1972, but how the band came into being is disputed. Mike Safron claims that he and Siegfried Carver  founded the band. However, the other version of the story is that after the demise of a local covers band High On A Small Hill, which featured vocalist and guitarist David Surkamp and bassist Rick Stockton, Pavlov’s Dog was formed.  By 1973, they were joined by drummer and percussionist Mike Safron, guitarist Steve Levin, keyboardist David Hamilton and flautist Doug Rayburn  who also played mellotron. This was the first lineup of the Pavlov’s Dog.

Within a year, there was a change in the group’s lineup when Steve Levin left and was replaced by lead guitarist Steve Scorfina, who previously, was a member of REO Speedwagon. This new lineup headed to a studio in Pekin, Illinois.

That was where Pavlov’s Dog recorded a number of songs that they had recorded. When they listened to them, it wasn’t a case of the tracks having potential, the band felt they were good. So did executives at ABC-Dunhill Records.

When they heard the recordings, they wanted to sign Pavlov’s Dog and were willing to pay a hefty price. This was thought to be around $650, 000 a not inconsiderable amount of money in the mid-seventies. It was no surprise when Pavlov’s Dog signed on the dotted line.

Like many groups who are signed by a label, they had already written what they thought would be part of their debut album. However, despite having liked the songs Pavlov’s Dog  had already recorded, only some of them made it onto the album. 

It featured nine songs, including Julia, Fast Gun, Theme From Subway Sue, Episode and Of Once and Future Kings which were penned by David Surkamp who cowrote Late November with Steve Scorfina. He also contributed Natchez Trace and Mike Safron penned Song Dance and Siegfried Carver wrote Preludin. These nine songs were produced by Sandy Pearlman and Murray Krugman who had worked with Blue Oyster Cult. When the album was completed, the release was scheduled for the spring of 1975.

Pavlov’s Dog’s much-anticipated debut album Pampered Menial was released on April the ‘4th’ 1975, it featured that distinctive cover, which featured engravings by Sir Edwin Landseer. By then, he had been dead for almost one hundred years and a new generation were discovering his work.

Mostly, critics were won over by Pampered Menial and it received  plaudits and praise. Some critics disliked the band, and one reason was David Surkamp’s voice. It seemed to divide the opinion of critics. Despite this, executives at ABC-Dunhill thought they had a successful album on their hands.

When Pampered Menial was released it failed to even trouble the charts. To make matters worse, Pampered Menial Siegfried Carver left the band just after the release of the album. What happened next was unusual.

In mid-June, Pampered Menial was reissued by Columbia with a slightly different sleeve. The album entered the lower reaches of the charts, and stalled at a lowly 181 in the US Billboard 200. Pampered Menial wasn’t the commercial success that executives hoped although Julia gave the group a minor hit in Australia when it reached seventy-nine. 

Forty-five years later, and Pampered Menial has been reissued on vinyl by Music On Vinyl, and this for many record buyers will be the first opportunity to discover the delights of an album which features elements of progressive rock, hard rock and  art rock. 

Pavlov’s Dog in 1975 were a tight, talented and versatile band and Pampered Menial is proof of it. Each of the mucicians were master craftsmen, and David Surkamp’s inimitable vocal was unlike the majority of progressive rock vocalists. They showcase their considerable talents on Pampered Menial.

Seamlessly, Pavlov’s Dog switch between a variety of songs on Pampered Menial. They open the album with the instrumental Julia, which gave them a minor hit single in Australia. It gives way to the  beautiful, emotive sounding instrumental Late November and then the hard rocking Song Dance. Fast Gun features an impassioned vocal from David Surkamp as the rest of the band combine to create one of the finest arrangements on the album. Then Natchez Trace which closes the first side, is a beautiful, melodic and sometimes haunting and dramatic song.

Opening side two is Theme From Subway Sue where blasting guitars give way to a piano and David Surkamp’s trademark vocal. It’s a mixture of power, passion and emotion on this anthemic track. The quality continues on Episode which gradually reveals its secrets and showcases Pavlov’s Dog’s considerable talents and another highlights of the album. Preludin is a stunning progressive rock instrumental and one of the album closer Of Once And Future Kings is one of the most ambitious tracks on Pampered Menial.

Although Pampered Menial wasn’t a commercial success upon its release in 1975, the album eventually started to find the wider audience it deserved. Gradually, fans of progressive rock discovered the delights of the album that should’ve  launched Pavlov’s Dog’s career. Nowadays, this once lost album is regarded as a genre classic and in retrospective reviews is getting the critical acclaim it deserves.  

No wonder, Pavlov’s Dog were like musical master craftsmen on their debut album Pampered Menial. The members of Pavlov’s Dog successfully combined an esoteric mixture of instruments to create a carefully crafted cult classic that forty-five years after its release, is  best described as an ambitious and timeless progressive rock opus.

Pavlov’s Dog-Pampered Menial.

 

JAMIE 3:26 PRESENTS A TASTE OF CHICAGO.

Jamie 3:26 Presents A Taste Of Chicago.

Label: BBE Music.

Release Date: ‘27th’ March 2020.

Two years after releasing a 12” preview sampler, BBE Music will release Jamie 3:26 Presents A Taste Of Chicago on the ‘27th’ March 2020. It’s a compilation of  edits from the DJ and producers Jamie 3:26, who hails from the birthplace of house music, Chicago. The sound of the Windy City can be heard throughout this much-anticipated compilation that features seven edits from Jamie 3:26.

He was born Jamie Watson, and was brought up in Beverley, on the South Side of Chicago. Growing up, music was an important part of his life, and it was no surprise when Jamie became a DJ and then producer.

One of the secrets of Jamie 3:26’s success as a DJ, was his willingness to embrace and spin all types of music from different eras. Old favourites, floorfillers and long long hidden gems found their way into his record box as he was a man on a mission. Jamie 3:26 was determined to  help people for the problems in their lives and keep the dancefloor full. This he succeeded in doing  home and then, further afield.

Meanwhile,  Jamie 3:26 was embarking upon a career as a producer, and in 2008, released his debut single The Basement Edits-Volume One. Two years later, in 2010, The Basement Edits-Volume Two. This was the start of  Jamie 3:26’s production career.

Over the next few years, he released singles on labels in America, Britain and the UK. This included Insanity Project on Rush Hour Store Jams in 2014. 

There were also a couple of collaborations, including with Masalo on Testify which was released on the Local Talk label in 2016. They pair were reunited in 2017 for Red Light which was released on the Japanese label Eureka! The following year, Jamie 3:26 released a 12” sampler on BBE Music.

This was the Jamie 3:26 Presents A Taste Of Chicago. It featured edits of Calender’s Comin’ On Strong and a remix of  Cabrini-Greens And Cornbread’s Stomps And Shouts. The two edits were a tantalising taste of what was to come from Jamie 3:26, who was by then, an international touring DJ.

Two years after the release of the 12” sampler on BBE Music comes the album Jamie 3:26 Presents A Taste Of Chicago. It features seven of Jamie 3:26’s edits that are guaranteed to fill any dancefloor.

This includes the album opener Venus and Mars by BSTC’s album Music For A Saturday Evening which was released in 2008. It’s a genre-melting track where elements of Acid House, funk, stabs of blazing horns, rocky guitars and a myriad of percussion that drives the arrangement to this uplifting and irresistible track along.

Mighty Science released The Lesson on 2010. It was written and produced by Errick P Spencer and the version included on the compilation is an edit of Doc Brucio’s Original Mix. The arrangement is almost mesmeric, and more than hints at house music’s roots in the Windy City as the vocal adds the finishing touch to what’s a welcome addition to the compilation. 

The Jungle  was released by Jungle Wonz in 2011 and was edited by Jamie 3:26. This became Jamie’s Jungle Sounds Edit. It’s pulsating, hypnotic and filmic as a myriad of jungle sounds assail the listener on this captivating and memorable track.

When Quest released Mind Games in 1989, it featured a vocal  from Liz Torres. There were three tracks on the original 12” and Jamie 3: 26 has edited the  Underground Mix. It’s the musical equivalent of time travel, and for many people of a certain age, will be a welcome reminder of the early days of house.  

Just like Jamie 3:26, Braxton Holmes is a producer, remixer and DJ from Chicago. In 2003, Braxton Holmes featuring Cabrini-Greens and Cornbread released Stomps and Shouts. Fifteen years later, the Jamie 3:26 Basement Edit featured on the 12” sampler Jamie 3:26 Presents A Taste Of Chicago. It makes a welcome return on the compilation and is a fusion of funk, disco and house. Together they play their part in what’s a joyous, driving and hands-in-the-air floorfiller that’s guaranteed to get any party started.

In the history of house music, Chip E’s name looms large. He started DJ-ing in 1982 and by 1984 was working as a producer. In 1985 he released the genre classic It’s House which was one of the reasons why Street Mix magazine crowned Chip E as the Godfather of House Music in 1986. Thirty-five years later and It’s House is recognised as one of the most important, influential and innovative house tracks and Jamie’s Basement Edit is a homage to a classic.

Jamie 3:26 Edit of New Jersey funk band Calendar’s Comin’ On Strong closes the compilation. It’s taken from their 1976 album It’s A Monster, which also features their proto-disco song Hypertension. However,  Comin’ On Strong is an oft-overlooked hidden gem where funk and disco are fused by Calendar and provide the perfect way to close Jamie 3:26 Presents A Taste Of Chicago.

For anyone who enjoyed the 12” sampler which BBE Music released in 2018, then Jamie 3:26 Presents A Taste Of Chicago  is a must have compilation. It features seven edits from Jamie 3:26 and showcase his eclectic taste in music that is a feature of his DJ sets. Classics and hidden gems rub shoulders on Jamie 3:26 Presents A Taste Of Chicago which is a tantalising taste and a sample of the sound, style and culture of the Windy City and the genre it lents its name to, house. 

Jamie 3:26 Presents A Taste Of Chicago.

 

HIDETO SASAKI, TOSHIYUKI SEKINE QUARTET +1-STOP OVER.

Hideto Sasaki, Toshiyuki Sekine Quartet + 1–Stop Over.

Label: BBE Music.

Release Date: ‘27th’ March 2020.

Ever since the sixties, rather than sign to a label, many artists and bands have released their albums as private pressings. However, the majority of the labels releasing private pressings during this didn’t have the same resources as the major labels or even an indie labels.

Sometimes, the label was owned by the artist and it has only been setup for the release of this one album.  Often the  release was only a short run, with anything from 200-300 pressed. The more optimistic artists and groups took a chance and press 1,000-2,000 copies of an album in the hope that they don’t gather dust in a basement, spare room or garage. They tried not to think of that, and instead, hoped that the album was picked up by a bigger label. That was further down the line, and they had albums to sell before that.

The label usually didn’t have a distribution deal, so often the band hauled copies of the album around local record shops, hoping that the owner would take five or ten copies. Often, the best offer was sale or return, and as they looked at store owner, they wondered what were the odds of getting paid or their records back? It was a case of handing over the albums and hoping the vinyl gods smiled on them. If they were lucky, they would get either get some money back, or a pile of dusty vinyl. The alternative didn’t bear thinking about as often, artists and bands had put their savings into a private press and couldn’t afford to lose money.

Given many of the private presses released since the sixties were distributed by the artist or band locally, they never found their way to other parts of the country, never mind halfway around the world. This was all happening in world where before Spotify or You Tube where it’s now possible to find music from all the world in an instant. So every year, thousands of private presses were released to little or no fanfare, and often disappeared without trace. 

Especially, if there were only between 50 and 100 copies of an album pressed. With so few copies of an album pressed, it would be easy for the album to disappear without trace and never be heard again. However, that didn’t happen to Hideto Sasaki, Toshiyuki Sekine Quartet + 1’s  groundbreaking J-Jazz cult classic Stop Over, which will be reissued by BBE Music on the ‘27th’ of March 2020. This all-acoustic hard bop album is the sixth instalment in their critically acclaimed J-Jazz series which is curated by Tony Higgins and Mike Peden.

The story begins at Chuo University in 1975, where a group of amateurs musicians joined the modern jazz study group. During term time they held regular jam sessions where the members of the modern jazz study group were joined by some of the top local jazz musicians. 

Sometimes, the modern jazz study group headed to what were referred to as jazz training camps. They were held in Kita Kuraizawa, a rural area an hour to the North West of Tokyo. One of the musicians who attended a camp in the spring of 1975 was Toshiyuki Sekine, a twenty year old pianist who was a student at Chuo University. That was where he met Hideto Sasaki who just over a later, would produce Stop Over.

Before that, various jam sessions that took place at the jazz training camps and having heard them, Hiroyuki Inokari decided that he wanted to record an album by the university jazz study group in a recording studio. By then, he had already recorded some of their jam sessions and concerts.  This was the next logical step for him. 

Meanwhile, Toshiyuki Sekine’s band had just split up. They were raising stars and had been taking to the stage in some of Tokyo’s jazz clubs, including the Pit Inn. It was the end of an era, and the young bandleader decided to return to the environs of the modern jazz study group.

His timing turned out to be perfect, and Toshiyuki Sekine played piano at the modern jazz study group’s first formal concert. That night, they were joined by guest artist pianist Fumio Karashimo and his trio. This was  a landmark concert for the modern jazz study group.

During the mid-seventies, Japan had a vibrant jazz scene and there were many jazz clubs not just in Tokyo, but across the country. This was perfect for young, up-and-coming artists like the members of the modern jazz study group who were making their way in the world of jazz.

By then, most jazz musicians had gravitated towards fusion, the marriage of jazz and rock. As a result, it wasn’t  unusual to see drums, electric bass and guitars joining forces with synths and saxophones as well as piano and horns. However,  that was not the case on the ‘15th’ of August 1976.

That was when Hideto Sasaki, Toshiyuki Sekine Quartet + 1 entered the studio to record their debut album Stop Over. The line up was  drummer Takashi Kurosaki,  bassist Kei Narita, pianist Toshiyuki Sekine, trumpeter Hideto Sasaki and alto saxophonist Noriyasu Watanabe. This was an all acoustic group who had decided to record an album of material that was similar to what they played in their live sets.

This included Denny Zeitlin’s Carole’s Garden, Tadd Dameron’s Soultrane, Cedar Walton’s Turquoise Twice, Robert Hutcherson‘s Little B’s Poem and Hideto Sasaki’s Stop Over. These five tracks were recorded with produced Hiroyuki Inokari on the ‘15th’ of August 1976 and released later that year on the Smile label.

The Smile label had been set up by Akihiro Nakayama, who was a member of the modern jazz study group. Stop Over was the first album released on the label and  it’s thought that there were only between 50 and 100 albums pressed. Most of the them were given away to friends and family of the band and those involved in the making of the album. This wasn’t an album that was going to be available in the record shops of Tokyo and across Japan.

That’s a great shame as this blistering and breathtaking romp through four cover versions and Hideto Sasaki’s Stop Over  as this acoustic combo turn back the clock and revisit the hard bop sound. This was very different to the majority of the albums their peers and contemporaries were making. Maybe, it was a case of playing the music they loved and were passionate about?

Stop Over opens with a cover of  Denny Zeitlin’s Carole’s Garden, which originally, featured on his 1964 album Carnival. However, instead of staying true to the original version, the combo draw inspiration from Jean Luc Ponty’s cover on his 1967 outing Sunday’s Walk and breeze through the track at breakneck speed never missing a beat. It’s a truly impressive performance and Toshiyuki Sekine’s piano playing alone, is worthy of a rapturous round of applause.

Tadd Dameron wrote Soultrane for his 1957 collaboration with John Coltrane’s Mating Call. In the combo’s hands it has a beautiful, melancholy, late night sound. It’s music for those that have love and lost, and those that are yet to find that special one.

Cedar Walton recorded Turquoise Twice for his 1967 album Cedar. On Stop Over, the acoustic combo stay true to that version as this nine minute epic breezes along, the drums and bass locking down the groove with Toshiyuki Sekine’s piano drive the arrangement along. For some purists, a minor criticism would be that the ride cymbal is too prominent in the mix. That’s because of the close miking technique that had been used since the late-sixties. Having said that,  Stop Over wasn’t a big budget recording run by a professional recordist, and it would be easy for an inexperienced engineer to place the microphone to close to the ride cymbal. However it could be argued this adds to the authenticity and honesty of the recording. Meanwhile, the maestro Toshiyuki Sekine  plays with urgency, fluidity and confidence as his fingers effortlessly fly up and down the keyboard showcasing his considerable skills on this epic track.

The late, great vibes and marimba player Robert Hutcherson penned Little B’s Poem and it featured on his 1965 Blue Note album Components. It’s another beautiful, dreamy  sounding track with another virtuoso performance from Toshiyuki Sekine, while the guitar and bass play supporting roles. Later, the alto saxophone soars above the arrangement its wistful sound adding the finishing touch to one of the album’s highlights.

Stop Over closes with the title-track which was written by Hideto Sasaki.  It’s a breathtaking, blistering and explosive track that features nine magical minutes of hard bop as this group of young, talented amateur musicians shine brightly and never burn out as they close the album on a truly memorable high on this opus. Hopefully,  having closed the album in such style Hideto Sasaki, Toshiyuki Sekine Quartet + 1 all took a bow as they finished recording Stop Over.

Sadly, Stop Over was the only recording by Hideto Sasaki, Toshiyuki Sekine Quartet + 1. It features four almost flawless covers and the one original Stop Over, where the combo shine bright as they showcase their combined and considerable skills on an album of hard bop that veers between spellbinding, beautiful,  breathtaking, blistering and melancholy.

By then, hard bop was regarded by critics and most jazz fans as yesterday’s sound, but that didn’t matter to Hideto Sasaki, Toshiyuki Sekine Quartet + 1 when they were recording Stop Over. They wanted to record the music they loved and were passionate about. It wasn’t as if the album was a big budget release on a private press. Instead, it was a reminder of a group of friends studying together and making music in their spare time. When they went their separate ways after leaving Chuo University, Stop Over was a reminder of the time they spent together and the music they made. Or so they thought.

The Smile label only pressed between 50 and 100 albums, and they were given to friends of family of the band and everyone involved in the album. Despite that, Japanese jazz fans heard about Stop Over which remained tantalisingly out of reach given its rarity. 

That remains the case today, and it’s almost impossible to find a copy of Stop Over which is on every J-Jazz  fan’s want list. However, unless they’re fortunate enough to come across a copy in a thrift store, junk shop or dusty warehouse Stop Over will continue to elude them. Thankfully, BBE Music  will reissue Stop Over on the ‘27th’ March 2020 and at last, a wider audience can discover the delights of one of  rarest albums of J-Jazz released during its golden era.

 Hideto Sasaki, Toshiyuki Sekine Quartet + 1–Stop Over.

CULT CLASSIC: EL POLEN-FUERA DE LA CIUDAD.

Cult Classic: El Polen-Fuera De La Ciudad.

Sadly, not every influential and innovative band enjoys a long and illustrious career, and instead, their career is short-lived. That was the case with the groundbreaking Peruvian rock band El Polen who released just two albums between 1972 and 1973. This includes their debut album Cholo (Música Original De La Banda De Sonido) and their much-anticipated sophomore album Fuera De La Ciudad which was a groundbreaking album from one of the most important Peruvian rock bands of the late-sixties and early seventies,

The El Polen story began in 1969, when brothers Juan Luis and Raul Pereira decided to form a new band. They had decided that their new band would head in a new direction and make music that was different to their previous band,  the Pereira brothers realised that Peruvian music was about to change.

By 1969, the first wave of new Peruvian  bands were combing beat music and surf sounds, which they played at Matinales which were concerts that took place on a  Sunday morning. These concerts were always popular, and so were the bands that took to the stage. However, the music was starting to sound tired, and yesterday’s sound. What Peruvian music needed was a revolution.

Juan Luis Pereira who was part of the burgeoning hippy movement, realised this, and with his brother Raul formed El Polen, and set about reinventing music in the new Peru. It was a very different country since 1968, and it was an exciting time for the Pereira brothers as they started their new band.

Peru was transformed in 1968, when a nationalist government was established by Juan Velasco Alvarado. This brought to an end the oligarchic state, which had previously ruled Peru. Suddenly, many people started to migrate from the country to the city, seeking a new life in the new Peru. 

This coincided with new Andean singers and bands playing concerts in Coliseums located on the outskirts of cities. Many within the audience were those who had migrated from the country to the city, and they enjoyed the concerts that they attended.

Meanwhile, their was an upsurge of interest in Andean music, and sales of new recordings increased. The Andean sound which had first been recorded and promoted by Jose Maria Arguedas by the late-forties was growing in popularity. Soon,  new bands were being formed and Andean sound became more popular than ever and the Peruvian musical industry expanded. However, Juan Luis and Raul Pereira had their own plans for Peruvian music.

As the sixties, gave way to the seventies, Juan Luis and Raul Pereira realised that the fusion of beat music and surf sounds many bands had been playing was yesterday’s sound and no longer as popular as it had once been. It was time for Peruvian music to change. The Pereira decided to fuse the sound of today with some of the music that they had heard growing up. 

This included classical music, Peruvian waltzes and huaynos, which had influenced and moulded the Pereira brothers in their formative years. So did Andean folklore music which would become part of El Polen’s sound. They were about to combine Andean music, folk rock and psychedelia, and this new genre-melting was  groundbreaking. Nobody had ever tried this before and the members of El Polen were about to become musical pioneers.

By then, the members of El Polen had been on a journey which would help them improve as musicians and spiritually. El Polen had traveled to Cusco, where they learned more about Andean instruments and musical traditions. This was they saw as part of their continuing musical education, and having gathered new knowledge, El Polen began the next part of this two-part journey.

It took El Polen to Santa Eulalia high in the mountains above Lima, where they examined their burgeoning spirituality. After this, the members of El Polen were ready to change Peruvian music forevermore.

By then, the hippy movement had exploded in popularity as Peruvian music fans embraced psychedelia and sought altered states of consciousness. With the new hippy generation enjoying and embracing the new, alternative lifestyle and psychedelic music El Polen had a captive audience.

The members of El Polen had much in common with the people who they hoped would embrace their music. They had lived in a community, and shared many of the same values and beliefs. El Polen also hoped that the new hippy generation would embrace their music.

When El Polen took to the stage, they sought to eliminate the boundaries between rock and huayno. To do this, they deployed acoustic guitars, a cello, mandolin, percussion and quenas, as they combined Andean music, folk rock and psychedelia. This proved popular, and soon, El Polen was at the forefront of a new musical movement that was blossoming in Peru. 

Given their popularity, it was only a matter of time before El Polen came to the attention of one of the Peruvian record companies. Virrey won the signature of El Polen who soon, began work on their debut album.

Cholo (Música Original De La Banda De Sonido).

For their debut album, El Polen was asked to write the soundtrack to the film Cholo (Música Original De La Banda De Sonido), which was based on the life of the famous Peruvian Soccer Player Hugo Sotil.

For Cholo (Música Original De La Banda De Sonido), El Polen wrote six new tracks, and covered Cholito Pantalion Bianco which was written by singer and songwriter Luis Abanto Morales. These seven tracks were recorded by the six members of El Polen.

As recording of Cholo (Música Original De La Banda De Sonido) began, El Polen’s lineup featured guitarist Juan Luis Pereira and his brother Raul who played guitar and took charge of the vocals. They were joined by cellist Juan Sebastián Montesinos, violinist Fernando Silva, percussionist Ernesto Pinto and Carlos Martínez who played mandolin. As Cholo (Música Original De La Banda De Sonido) took shape, the six members of El Polen had no idea that they were about to make musical history.

Prior to the release of Cholo (Música Original De La Banda De Sonido), critics had their say on El Polen’s debut album. While El Polen’s debut album was well received and hailed as an ambitious and exciting release, it was only later that critics realised the importance of Cholo (Música Original De La Banda De Sonido).

It was a game-changer of an album, and Cholo (Música Original De La Banda De Sonido) proved not just to be innovative, but also influential. El Polen paved the way for other bands to fuse Andean music and rock and would influence several generations of bands and musicians.

Nowadays, Cholo (Música Original De La Banda De Sonido) is regarded as a landmark album in the history of Peruvian music. That is no surprise as El Polen was the first band to fuse traditional Andean music with folk and psychedelia and rock. They were also the first group to combine traditional Andean instruments with Western instruments. 

Fuera De La Ciudad.

Buoyed by the commercial success and critical response to their debut album, El Polen began writing their sophomore album. Eventually, El Polen had written five new songs that would eventually become Fuera De La Ciudad. 

When El Polen entered the studio, they were no longer a six piece band any more, and their lineup had changed. It featured lead guitarist, harpist and vocalist Juan Luis Pereira and his brother Raul who played rhythm guitar, Quena and took charge of the vocals. They were joined by violinist Fernando Silva and percussionists Ernesto Pinto and Cuto Vásquez who also played mandolin. Gradually, Fuera De La Ciudad started to shape, and it wasn’t long before the album was completed. El Polen were about to make history once more.

Critics on hearing Fuera De La Ciudad in 1973 recognised the quality of what was another which innovative genre-melting album. However, they didn’t realise that Fuera De La Ciudad was a game-changer of album and that would inspire and influence two generations.

Side A

Ironically, this was apparent from the uptempo album opener Concordancia, where  El Polen combine blues, folk rock and traditional Peruvian instruments. Sweeping, swirling strings , a  bluesy harmonica and  mandolin accompany a beautiful  soul-baring vocal. By comparison Mi Cueva has a much more tradition Andean sound.This is because of the choice of instruments during what’s a haunting sounding fusion of folk and traditional Andean music. Strings sweep as the joyous sounding A Las Orillas Del Vilcanota unfolds and reveals its secrets. What follows is an irresistible mixture of the traditional Andean music and folk.

Side B.

From the get-go, there’s a degree of drama during the fourteen minute epic El Hijo Del Sol. It’s cinematic and rich in imagery, even before the choir, harpsichord  and pizzicato strings are added. Later, folk, folk rock and traditional Andean music combine as the tempo and drama increase on this ambitious, innovative and genre-melting Magnus Opus, which is El Polen’s finest moment on Fuera De La Ciudad. It closes with La Puna a slow and ruminative sounding track where traditional Andean instruments take centre-stage as Fuera De La Ciudad closes on a high.

Fuera De La Ciudad which found El Polen switching between and combining blues, folk, folk rock, psychedelia, rock and traditional Andean music saw the Lima-based band pickup where they left off on Cholo (Música Original De La Banda De Sonido). The followup Fuera De La Ciudad was another landmark album, full of ambitious and innovative music from musical pioneers El Polen.

They began their mission to revolutionise Peruvian music on  Cholo (Música Original De La Banda De Sonido) in 1972.  El Polen’s musical revolution continued in 1973 with the release of Fuera De La Ciudad. Ironically, many critics didn’t realise just how important and influential Fuera De La Ciudad.

Despite that, two generations of Peruvian musicians were influenced and inspired by El Polen’s sophomore album Fuera De La Ciudad.

El Polen managed to revolutionised Peruvian music in the space of just two albums. This included Fuera De La Ciudad a groundbreaking and genre-melting album from El Polen, who looked as if they were about to enjoy a long and illustrious career.

Sadly, two years after the release of Fuera De La Ciudad a El Polen split-up in 1975. By then, many bands would follow in El Polen’s footsteps, after being influenced by Cholo (Música Original De La Banda De Sonido). These albums were regarded as  turning point for Peruvian music, and revolutionise Peruvian music forevermore and in the process.

Nothing more was heard of El Polen for twenty-one years, until they made a comeback in 1996. Three years later, self-released their third album Signos E Instrumentos. Sadly, not long after releasing their first album in twenty-six years El Polen split-up once again.

Fifteen years later, in 2014, there was an El Polen reunion, as they rolled back the years. Sadly, that was the last that was heard from one of the most important groups in the history of modern Peruvian music.

El Polen certainly made their mark on Peruvian music during the six-year period between 1969 and 1975. During this period, they released two ambitious and innovative albums Cholo (Música Original De La Banda De Sonido) in 1972, and followed this up with Fuera De La Ciudad in 1973 which was El Polen’s second classic album in Peru. Sadly, outside of Peru,El Polen aren’t as well known as they deserve to be, and Fuera De La Ciudad is a cult classic that that has only been discovered by a coterie of discerning musical lovers. However, hopefully this hidden gem of an album one day finds the wider audience it so richly deserves.  

Cult Classic: El Polen-Fuera De La Ciudad.

CULT CLASSIC: DEUTSCH AMERIKANISCHE FREUNDSCHAFT-FUR IMMER.

Cult Classic: Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft-Für Immer.

History treats groups differently, and that was the case with Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft a.k.a. DAF,  who released four albums between 1980 and 1982. They’ve been described variously as the “godfathers of techno,” the pioneers of EBM and the forefathers of electropunk. DAF recorded five albums during the four years that they were together, and bowed out in 1982 with their swan-song Für Immer. However, the DAF story began four years earlier in 1978.

Gabi Delgado-López and Robert Görl met at the at punk club Ratinger Hof, in Düsseldorf, Germany, in August 1978, where the pair were regulars. Not long after this, the two friends decided to form a band together. This was DAF which initially, was a duo featuring Delgado-López on stylophone and drummer Robert Görl. 

When DAF started out, they were one of a number of early Neue Deutsche Welle bands that had been formed within their social circle. However, very few of these bands were as influential as DAF.

Having started out as a duo, Gabi Delgado-López and Robert Görl were joined by bassist Michael Kemner,  guitarist Wolfgang Spelmans and keyboardist Kurt “Pyrolator” Dahlke. This new, expanded lineup of DAF decided to enter the studio for the first time.

The early recordings didn’t go to plan, which resulted in Gabi Delgado-López leaving the band temporarily. This meant just four of the members of DAF entered the studio to record their debut album.

Ein Produkt der Deutsch-Amerikanischen Freundschaft.

This was Ein Produkt der Deutsch-Amerikanischen Freundschaft (A Product Of German-American Friendship for Kurt “Pyrolator” Dahlke’s Ata Tak label. When Ein Produkt der Deutsch-Amerikanischen Freundschaft was released in 1979, this fusion of punk and industrial music received mixed reviews from critics. Some critics confused by the album and simultaneously found captivating and repugnant. There seemed to be no middle ground with DAF’s debut album.

Shortly, after the release of Ein Produkt der Deutsch-Amerikanischen Freundschaft was released Kurt “Pyrolator” Dahlke left the band, to pursue other projects. He was replaced by assist and saxophonist Chrislo Haas who also played various electronic instruments. 

Not long after this, the new lineup of DAF moved to London, as that was where many of the major and independent record labels were situated. This included Daniel Miller’s Mute Records who signed DAF.

Die Kleinen und die Bösen.
Daniel Miller had a longstanding love and admiration for Krautrock and modern German music, arranged for DAF to record with producer Conny Plank. He produced one side of Die Kleinen und die Bösen while the other was recorded live. When Die Kleinen und die Bösen was released later in 1980 it was hailed as an ambitious album that saw DAF start to make move from industrial music to modern dance music. However, the sales of Die Kleinen und die Bösen were low and what was one of the early electropunk albums was DAF’s only release for Mute.

Following the release of Die Kleinen und die Bösen, DAF’s numbers were reduced, and by the time they signed to Virgin Records, they were a duo featuring Gabi Delgado-López and Robert Görl.

Alles Ist Gut.

For their Virgin Records’ debut, DAF once again headed to Canny Plank’s Studio, where they worked with one of the legends of modern German music between December 1980 and January 1981. The sessions resulted in DAF’s third album Alles Ist Gut which was released later in 1981.

Critical acclaim accompanied Alles Ist Gut which was ambitious, innovative and genre-melting album. It was a fusion of Neue Deutsche Well, electronic body music (EBM) and electropunk. Alles Ist Gut reached number eight in Austria, fifteen in Germany where it would eventually sell hundreds of thousands of copies. However, that wasn’t the end of the success.

DAF had chosen Der Mussolini as the lead single from Alles Ist Gut. This resulted in the band’s first hit single and DAF were going from strength to strength.  

Gold und Liebe.

Buoyed by the success of Alles Ist Gut, DAF returned to Canny Plank’s Studio in August 1981 and spent two months recording Gold und Liebe. It was completed in September 1981, and scheduled for release in late 1981.

The Conny Plank produced Gold und Liebe was released to mixed reviews. One of the criticisms was that the music wasn’t as eclectic as on Alles Ist Gut, and that DAF had just about exhausted the possibilities offered by the sixteen-step sequencer. Still, a few critics felt that the album was innovative and ambitious, as it examined the themes of alchemy. Despite there being no consensus amongst critics, Gold und Liebe enjoyed a degree of commercial success.

In Austria, Gold und Liebe reached number four and spent ten weeks in the charts. Meanwhile, Gold und Liebe stalled at thirty-five in the German charts, and failed to replicate the success of Alles Ist Gut. Despite that, 1981 had been a successful year for DAF.

At the end of 1981, the British music magazine included Alles Ist Gut in its top ten albums of the year. 1981 had been an important year for DAF, who had released two albums, and made a commercial breakthrough just three years after the band was formed. 

Für Immer.

1981 had been a roller coaster year for DAF, who made  their commercial breakthrough with Alles Ist Gut, and watched as Gold und Liebe failed to enjoy the same success. Gabi Delgado-López and Robert Görl knew that they needed another successful album to kickstart their career.

The criticism that DAF had just about exhausted all of the possibilities offered by the sixteen-step sequencer must have stung, because they added ab Oberheim OB-Xa to their musical arsenal for the recording of Für Immer.

Conny Plank who had worked with some of the most innovative musicals of the seventies, including pioneers of Krautrock at one end of the spectrum to electropop artists at the other. The pioneering producer was the perfect person to encourage DAF to expand their musical horizons.

By the time that DAF began work on Für Immer, they were already disillusioned after the reception of Gold und Liebe. At Conny Plank’s Studio in May 1982 DAF began recording what was an ambitious album that was very different from much of the music that had been released during the first half of 1982. The music wasn’t exactly melodic, but couldn’t be described as harsh or brittle as DAF switched between EBM, electropunk, funk, rock ’n’ roll,  twisted metal drone and a full-blown dance track on Wer Schön Sein Will Muss Leiden which would later close the album. DAF’s decision to record such an eclectic album seemed to be their way answering their critics who had criticised Gold und Liebe.

Soon, though, what the critics thought of Gold und Liebe was the least of DAF and Virgin Records’ worries. The sense of disillusionment that was present when DAF entered Conny Plank’s Studio had been slowly tearing the band apart. Maybe it hadn’t been a wise decision to let DAF begin recording Für Immer, and when  things came to a head, the band decided to split-up. 

After five albums in just three years it was the end of the road for DAF, who released Für Immer later in 1982. DAF’s swan-song was well received as they flitted between EBM, electropunk, funk, rock ’n’ roll and twisted metal drone. It was  a truly eclectic album that opened with the Kraftwerk inspired electropop of Im Dschungel Der Liebe (In The Jungle Of Love). However, other tracks were quite different, and some were regarded as dark and controversial songs. 

Especially Kebabträume which featured ambiguous lyrics about Turkish immigrants. Lyrics like: “Turkish culture behind the barbed wire…Germany, everything has passed!..,We are the Turks of tomorrow” brought criticism DAF’s way. So did Die Götter Sind Weiß which features  the lyrics: “your body is white, like the body of the gods.” Even the album cover was deemed controversial, and some critics compared it to the fascistic imagery of the past. DAF it seemed were playing were with fire on Für Immer. 

Elsewhere was the EBM anthem Ein Bißchen Krie which was hard and funky. Verlieb Dich In Mich (Fall In Love With Me) was hook-laden, dancefloor  friendly and sometimes, hinted at Sparks. Geheimnis (Secret) is a genre-melting track that is oft-overlooked and falls into the category of hidden gem. Dark, dramatic and ominous sounding describes Die Lippe (Lip). Very different was the beautiful paean Prinzeßin which shows another side to DAF on  Für Immer. However, like most EBM groups DAF returned to familiar themes.

This included the themes of health and beauty were more like obsessions to EBM groups. Proof of this is Verehrt euren Haarschnitt (Adore Your Haircut), which features the unforgettable lyrics: “worship your haircut.” Then there’s the album closer Wer Schön Sein Will, Muss Leiden (Who Wants To Be Beautiful, Must Suffer) which is a full-blown dance track that closes Für Immer on a high, and allows DAF to bow out in style.

Sadly, when Für Immer was released later in 1982, the album failed to replicate the success of their Virgin Records debut Alles Ist Gut. In fact, it never even came close to enjoying the success of Gold und Liebe. Instead, Für Immer was the one that got away for DAF. 

Despite the darkness, controversy and the obsessions with health and beauty that were common to many EBM groups, Für Immer is an underrated album that deserves to be reevaluated. The recent reissue offers this opportunity to revisit Für Immer, which was the swan-song for DAF who were only together four years, but managed to release five albums. Their finest album was Alles Ist Gut, which was the first of the Virgin Records trilogy which ended with Für Immer. It was the end of era for DAF, who nowadays, are regarded as groundbreaking group.

Since they split-up, DAF have variously been described as the “godfathers of techno,” the pioneers of EBM and the forefathers of electropunk. DAF achieved a lot in what was a relatively short space of time. They were founded in 1978, and released their debut album in 1979. This was the first of five albums that DAF recorded over the next three years, before bowing out in style in 1982 with Für Immer a cult classic which was their swan-song. 

Cult Classic: Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft-Für Immer.

 

CULT CLASSIC: HOLGER CZUKAY-MOVIES.

Cult Classic: Holger Czukay-Movies.

By 1979, Holger Czukay’s career was at a crossroads, after Can the group he cofounded in 1968, had split-up.  After releasing eleven albums in eleven years, one of music’s most innovative groups were no more. This came as no surprise to Holger Czukay, who was about to resume his solo career.

During the ten years Can had been together, Holger Czukay’s solo career had been on hold. He had released his debut solo album Canaxis 5 in 1969, and since then, there had been no sign of Holger Czukay’s sophomore album. With Can consigned to musical history, Holger began work on Movies, which was released in 1979. Movies marked the comeback of Holger Czukay, after the demise of Can.

The last few years had been tough for Holger Czukay. He had watched as Can slowly disintegrated. Latterly, Can were a far cry from the group that released some of the most innovative Krautrock that was released between 1969 and 1977. This included their legendary golden quartet of albums.

From Tago Mago in 1971, to 1972s Ege Bamyasi, 1973s Future Days and 1974s Soon Over Babaluma, Can were all conquering colossus of a group. They were musical pioneers, who released groundbreaking albums of genre-melting music. This music would go on to influence several generations of musicians. However, latterly, things had gone awry for Can.

The problems began in 1977, when Rosko Gee and Rebop Kwaku Baah had joined Can. They made their debut on Can’s ninth album Saw Delight, which was recorded at the group’s Inner Space Studio in Cologne, in January 1977.

Saw Delight.
When recording of Saw Delight got underway, Can’s music had changed since they released their golden quartet. Landed in 1975, and 1976s Flow Motion saw Can’s music move towards a more traditional sound. So much so, that Flow Motion featured a disco track, I Want More. It reached twenty-six in the UK. Can were still basking in the glow of their hit single when work began on their ninth album.

At Inner Space Studio in Cologne, the old and new members began work for the first time. Drummer Jaki Liebezeit was joined by guitarist Michael Karoli and keyboardist Irmin Schmidt. Bassist Holger Czukay was relegated to adding a myriad of sound-effects. Replacing Holger Czukay was former Traffic bassist Rosko Gee. He was joined by another former member of Traffic, percussionist Rebop Kwaku Baah. Along with the original members of Can, the new recruits spent January 1977 recording Saw Delight.

Before Saw Delight was released, critics had their say on Can’s ninth album. It was an ambitious album that found Can embracing world music. Alas, Saw Delight was way ahead of its time, and failed commercially. For Can, it was a familiar story.

They had always been trailblazers, who were ahead of their time. This had been the case with their golden quartet. History repeated itself on Saw Delight, which if it  had been released in the eighties, like albums by Paul Simon or Peter Gabriel, would’ve been a commercial success. Sadly, by then Can were no more. That was still to come. However, already things weren’t well within the Can camp as they began recording the prophetically titled Out Of Reach.

Out Of Reach.
Following the commercial failure of Saw Delight, Can returned to Inner Space Studio in Cologne, in October 1977. By then the cracks were showing within Can. Holger Czukay felt he was being: “sidelined.” ?During the recording of Out Of Reach, I felt an outsider in my own group. I was on the outside looking in. I was on the margins. All I was doing was adding sound-effects.” Holger Czukay felt his group had been “hijacked by Gee and and Baah Things got so bad, that I quit Can.”

Following the departure of Holger from Can, Baah and Gee began to dominate the recording of Out Of Reach. However, they didn’t understand what Can were about. Gone was the free flowing sound that featured on classic Can albums and it was replaced by the rhythmic discipline that Baah and Gee introduced. This hampered Can. Jaki Liebezeit’s drumming was reigned in, and became almost subdued. Considering Jaki provided the group’s heartbeat, this was a major faux pax. Only Michael Karoli’s guitar sound remained unchanged. Everything else was changing.

The critics rounded on Out Of Reach. They found very little merit in Out Of Reach. Gee and Baah were rightly blamed for the album’s failure. Even Can disliked Out Of Reach. Holger, Michael, Jaki and Irmin later disowned Out Of Reach.

So it was no surprise that when Out Of Reach was released in July 1978, that the album passed record buyers by. By then, Can had already recorded their eleventh album Can. Holger’s role in the making of Can was minimal.

Can.
Following the failure of Out Of Reach, the members of Can began recording what became Can. Remarkably, Gee and Baah were still part of Can. Sadly, Holger Czukay was not longer a member of Can, having left during the making of Out Of Reach. His only involvement was editing Can.

Can had been recorded during February 1978, at the familiar surroundings of Inner Space Studio in Cologne. As the group reconvened to record their eleventh album, Can were a group on the brink. It was touch and go whether they would survive the recording sessions. They did, and the result was Can, which provided a challenge for Holger Czukay.

Even Holger’s renowned editing skills couldn’t save Can. Try as he may, he could only work with what he was given. Once he completed editing Can, which is sometimes referred to as Inner Space, the album was released in July 1979.

Again, critics weren’t impressed by Can. It received mixed reviews. They agreed one one thing, that Holger was sadly missed. However, little did anyone realise how bad things were within the Can camp.

Things had gotten so bad, that Can split-up after the release of Can. It proved to be their swan-song. However, even before that, the warning signs were there. Holger had “felt marginalised since Gee and Baah became part of Can. They had hijacked Can,” who were now consigned to musical history. A once proud and innovative group became a shadow of its former self since 1977. This saddened Holger, as he decided to resume his solo career.

There was a problem though. Holger hadn’t really been making music since 1976. The last three Can albums saw Holger editing the music. So, Holger set about finding “his own sound again. I had “been through this with Can,” Now he’d have to do so again. It would be worth it though, when he released his first solo album since 1969s Canaxis 5, Movies.

Movies.

For his sophomore album Movies, Holger Czukay wrote four new songs, Cool in the Pool, Oh Lord, Give Us More Money, Persian Love and Hollywood Symphony. These four tracks were recorded with friends and foe alike.

Recording of Movies took place at Inner Space Studio, Cologne, which was where Can had recorded the best music of their career. It was like a Can reunion. Jaki Liebezeit played drums and congas on Movies. The other original members of Can played walk-on parts on Movies. Guitarist Michael Karoli featured on Oh Lord, Give Us More Money; while Irmin Schmid added grand piano. Incredibly, Rebop Kwaku Baah was drafted in to play organ on Oh Lord, Give Us More Money!. Meanwhile, Holger was akin to a one-man band. Not only did Holger record Movies, he also played guitars, bass, keyboards and synths. Then when the four songs that became Movies were recorded, Holger mixed and produced the album. Movie would see Holger hailed the comeback King.

When Movies was released in 1979, it was to widespread critical acclaim, and was hailed as one of the best albums of 1979. Movies found its way into NME’s album of year list. Sounds’ magazine went even further, and called Movies one of the top 100 albums. Holger’s decision to embark upon a solo career had been vindicated. He was back doing what he did best, creating ambitious, groundbreaking and pioneering music on Movies ! Sadly, this groundbreaking opus wasn’t the commercial success it deserved to be. 

Cool In The Pool opens Movies, and shows another side to Holger Czukay’s music.  A briskly strummed guitar is panned right, before a French horn is panned left, and ushers in the rhythm section and Holger’s vocal. It’s tinged with humour, theatre and faux sass. Especially as Holger suggests: “let’s get Cool In The Pool.” Backing vocalists reply: “is it hot?”Meanwhile, washes of keyboards join the rhythm section who nail a 4/4 beat. It provides the heartbeat, as Holger adds a variety of instruments, sounds and samples. Everything is added at the right time, as if Holger is putting together a musical jigsaw. He adds a chiming guitar, scratchy strings, a wailing braying, horn and a variety of samples. This includes a cockerel, snippets of dialogue and what sounds like a horse whinnying. By now, the newly enlivened Holger plays a starring role. So do the keyboards, and rhythm section who inject some funk into a track where the hooks haven’t been rationed. The result is an irresistible, innovative and timeless slice of hook-laden musical magic that once heard, will never be forgotten.

Oh Lord, Give Us More Money is a thirteen minute epic. Straight away, washes of synths add a degree of drama. They’re joined by a crystalline guitar, probing bass, rustling, rumbling drums and crashing cymbals. Meanwhile, stabs of the grand piano add to the darkness and drama.  Again, Holger has carefully chosen each instrument, and deploys them when it makes sense. This includes a variety of synths, a funky bass and searing, blistering guitar. It cuts through the arrangement, which is powered by Can’s former rhythm section. By then, there’s a progressive rock influence. Then the arrangement is stripped bare, and only a pulsating bass remains. That’s until  a burst of drama signals the arrival of Holger’s vocal. It’s delivered quickly and with passion, as a myriad of disparate sound flit in and out of this musical vortex. Shrill synth strings, a pulsating bass, a dark, dramatic piano and a myriad of samples and sounds are added. Snippets of dialogue;  animals snarling and growling; traffic, sirens and thunder punctuate the arrangement. Still, Holger ensures the drama remains. Key to this is the grand piano and funky rhythm section. Then as futuristic otherworldly sounds are added, Holger’s vocal veers between whispered, impassioned and pleading. Later, the arrangement is understated before Michael Karoli adds a crystalline, blistering guitar and join with the rhythm section and organ in adding the finishing touch to a dramatic, cinematic opus.

Deliberate washes of synths sweep in as Persian Love unfolds. They’re joined by an impassioned vocal, while a chirping guitar joins washes of synths and exotic percussion. The cinematic arrangement literally meanders along, constantly painting pictures of a distant, ancient land. Then the rhythm section add a pulsating heartbeat. They’re soon joined by a crystalline guitar which is panned left, and replaces the synths, On their return,  the arrangement continues to meander along. Holger adds snippets of dialogue,  and then a sample of a Middle Eastern female vocalist. Her quivering, heartfelt vocal gives way to another sample of male vocalist, while the rhythm section, congas and guitar lay down the groove on this fusion of Afro-reggae, funk and world music. Later, a chirping guitar dances above the bass while the drums provide the heartbeat on this beautiful captivating and genre-melting track.

Hollywood Symphony a fifteen minute epic, closes Movies. Radio waves bristle and quiver, before a thunderous rhythm section and guitar set the scene for Holger’s tender, thoughtful vocal. Synth strings accompany him, while bursts of the thunderous rhythm section and guitar are added. Meanwhile, Holger’s vocal has been multi tracked, with a touch of delay add to the second vocal. Soon, sound effects and samples are added, as the arrangement veers between dramatic, cinematic and melodic. Still, the earlier drama remains. Now it comes courtesy of a bristling, crystalline guitar runs; a broody, moody bass and bubbling, futuristic, sci-fi sounds. Along with a myriad of samples, they punctuate the atmospheric arrangement, before it’s all change.Having built up the drama, the tempo rises, as synth strings and the rhythm section propel the arrangement along. They’re join by squelchy, acidic synths and the earlier bristling, crystalline guitar. Later, swathes of synth strings, samples and a blistering guitar solo play leading roles as the tempo drops. However, the drama remains for the rest of this captivating, sprawling, cinematic epic. It marked the welcome return of Holger Czukay.

After three years away, Holger Czukay certainly hadn’t lost his Midas touch. Instead, he had reinvented himself musically with a truly eclectic album that captured the imagination of critics and record buyers alike. They realised that Movies marked a return to form from the former Can bassist. 

For the other members of Can, this must have been embarrassing. They had backed the wrong horse back in 1977, when Holger decided to quit Can. The problem lay with Gee and Baah, who Holger felt had “hijacked” Can. However, rather than sack Gee and Baah, the other members of Can watched as their old comrade left the group he had cofounded. Sadly, after two further albums, Can were no more. This proved ironic.

While Can split-up in 1979, later that year, Holger resumed his solo career with Movies It featured a newly enlivened Holger Czukay. He embarked upon a creative spree that included a string of albums and collaborations. Through the eighties, nineties and beyond, Holger continued to create groundbreaking music that introduced his music to a much wider audience. However, the album that started this creative spree was Movies.

Movies features a musical pioneer at the peak of his powers, on a genre-melting album. Holger combines elements of Afro-Reggae, avant-garde, disco, funk,  pop, progressive rock, rock and world music. These genres are combined by Holger, as he incorporates a myriad of musical instruments, sounds and samples. Indeed, sampling and editing played an important part in the sound and success of Movies.

Holger has used sampling throughout his long and illustrious career. Indeed, he was one of the pioneers of sampling, and used sampling extensively on Movies. That was also the case with editing, which Holger pioneered from the early days of Can. After lengthy jams, Holger edited the various takes, splicing the parts together to make a complete track. This was the case on Movies, where a myriad of instruments, sounds and samples were akin to part of a musical jigsaw which Holger had to put together.

Seamlessly, Holger puts all various parts together in a way that the music on Movies makes sense. The result is an album that’s variously beautiful, captivating, cinematic, dramatic, hook-laden, irresistible and melodic. After three year years away from making music, Holger Czukay returned with Movies, his long-awaited and much-anticipated sophomore album which should’ve been the most sucessful of his career. Sadly, that wasn’t the case. Despite that, Movies is a career defining album that marked the return of one the most innovative and progressive musicians of his generation, the comeback King Holger Czukay.

Cult Classic: Holger Czukay-Movies.

 

 

CULT CLASSIC: BRIAN ENO-HERE COME THE WARM JETS.

Cult Classic: Brian Eno-Here Come The Warm Jets.

For Brian Eno, 1973 was the year the second chapter in his career began as he had just left Roxy Music after touring their sophomore album, For Your Pleasure. By the end of the tour, he had realised the life of a rock star wasn’t for him. He found the life of a rock star tedious. The constant touring, and spending half his life either on stage, or in an anonymous hotel room, wasn’t for Brian Eno. Then there were the disagreements with Roxy Music’s flamboyant frontman, Bryan Ferry. All this meant that Brian Eno’s time with Roxy Music was at an end. This however, was a huge decision.       

Leaving Roxy Music was a brave and controversial decision for Brian Eno. Roxy Music were one of the most successful British bands of the early seventies. However, Brian Eno’s creativity was being stifled. He felt that he had much more to offer music. Having toured For Your Pleasure, a frustrated and restless Brian Eno left Roxy Music, and embarked on a solo career.

Having left Roxy Music, straight away, Brian Eno began work on his debut album Here Come The Warm Jets. It’s best described as a fusion of art rock, avant garde, experimental and glam rock. Here Come The Warm Jets was an innovative album from Brian Eno.

Freed from the shackles of Roxy Music, Brian Eno wrote six songs for what became Here Come The Warm Jets. He also cowrote four other tracks. He penned Needles in the Camel’s Eye and Cindy Tells Me with ex-Roxy music colleague, Phil Manzanera. Brian and King Crimson founder Robert Fripp cowrote Blank Frank. The other track on Here Come The Warm Jets, was Some Of Them Are Old. It was a collaboration between Brian, Paul Thompson, Busta Jones and Nick Judd. These ten tracks became Here Come The Warm Jets, which was recorded over twelve days in September 1973, at Majestic Studios, London.

When recording of Here Come The Warm Jets began at Majestic Studios, London, Brian Eno was accompanied by the great and good of British rock. Over twelve days in September 1973 at Majestic Studios, London, Brian, and sixteen guest musicians recorded the ten tracks that became Here Come The Warm Jets.

Joining Brian Eno for recording of Here Come The Warm Jets, were some of biggest names in music and some of the top session players. This included guitarists Robert Fripp of King Crimson, Roxy Music’s Phil Manzanera, Chris Spedding and Paul Rudolph. Lloyd Watson, who had opened for Roxy Music and King Crimson played slide guitar. Bassists included John Wetton of King Crimson and Family, Chris Thomas, Busta Jones and Bill MacCormick. Keyboardists included Roxy Music’s Andy MacKay, Nick Judd and Nick Kool and the Koolaids. Percussion came courtesy of Simon King, Marty Simon and Paul Thompson, who was then the Roxy Music drummer. Sweetfeed added the all important backing vocals on On Some Faraway Beach and Blank Frank. Brian Eno produced Here Come The Warm Jets, added vocals and played guitar, synths and keyboards. Once Here Come The Warm Jets was completed later in September 1973, Brian Eno was ready to release his debut album.

On its release in January 1974, Here Come The Warm Jets was mostly well received, by critics. Reviews ranged from favourable to positive. There were some contrarian critics, namely Rolling Stone. However, since then, Here Come The Warm Jets has been reappraised by a new generation of critics. They realised that Here Come The Warm Jets was an ambitious, innovative album. As a result, Here Come The Warm Jets is now regarded as a classic album, one that shows what Brian Eno, freed from the restraints of Roxy Music was capable of. However, the record buying public didn’t seem to “get” Here Come The Warm Jets.

When Here Come The Warm Jets  was released in January 1974, it only reached number twenty-six in the UK and number 151 in the US Billboard 200. This must have been a disappointment for Brian Eno who previously, had been part of one of the most successful British bands of the early seventies. Belatedly, however, Here Come The Warm Jets record buyers recognised the quality of music on Brian’s debut album. Here Come The Warm Jets, Brian Eno’s debut album was the album he had been longing to make.

Needle In The Camel’s Eye opens Here Come The Warm Jets. It’s a guitar driven, explosion of energy. From the get-go, a wall of joyous, melodic and hook laden music assails you. As guitars drive the arrangement along, drums pound urgently. The guitars are panned left and right. They surround and assail you. Meanwhile, Brian Eno delivers the vocal with energy and enthusiasm. Later, as his vocal drops out, a sixties influenced guitar solo takes centre-stage. It toys with the listener, before Brian and his all-star band kick loose during the rest of this anthemic track.

Listening to The Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch, it’s obvious that this track influenced David Byrne’s Talking Heads. This is the case from the moment Brian Eno’s delivers a vampish, flamboyant vocal. He’s accompanied by chiming, funky and searing guitars, the rhythm section and harmonies. Later, a myriad of futuristic, sci-fi sounds and a piano adds to what’s an ambitious and innovative track that spawned a thousand imitators.

Urgent and dramatic describes the ominous, slightly sci-fi introduction to Baby’s On Fire. Again, Brian Eno’s vocal is vampish. It’s as if each track is a short story, and he’s playing a starring role. As a result, he adapts his vocal to suit each song’s lyrics. Keyboards, the rhythm section and sci-fi sounds join a searing, bristling, scorching guitar solo from Robert Fripp. He steals the show, wielding his guitar like a musical wizard. This adds a healthy dose of drama to what, thanks to Robert’s guitar, and earlier, Brian Eno’s vocal, is an epic track.

Cindy Tells Me has a vintage sound, one that brings back memories of a musical era. Think late fifties, early sixties. However, this being Brian Eno, he gives the music of the past a makeover. Stabs of piano and cooing harmonies join Brian Eno’s vocal. It veers between wistful to ironic. Sometimes, seems to mock, even pity those he’s singing about. Above his vocal, washes of guitar are akin to musical vapour trails. They’re joined by angelic, ethereal harmonies. They prove to be the finishing touch to what’s a fusion of music’s past, present and future.

Driving Me Backwards has an almost Bowie-esque sound. However, it’s taken further than before. Brian Eno’s impassioned, soul-baring vocal is accompanied by a piano which is bathed in effects. Meanwhile, guitars reverberate, a bass buzzes and drama abounds. The result is a track that’s moody, broody and given that it paints pictures in your mind’s eye, cinematic. 

Just a lone piano and ethereal harmonies combine on On Some Faraway Beach. In the distance drums and keyboards and a searing guitar plays. As the arrangement grows, they almost overpower the piano. Almost but never quite. Instead, and like Brian Eno’s tender vocal they compliment what’s already beautiful, dramatic arrangement.

Blank Frank is very different from the previous track. They’re polar opposites. Raw power and nihilistic describes Blank Frank. Brian Eno delivers a snarled vocal tinged with irony and anger. Meanwhile his band play loosely and with aggression. They almost attack their instruments. Guitars growl, while keyboards and drums are pounded. Soon, the track becomes a captivating jam. However, the aggression and anger of Blank Frank might well have  played a part in inspiring punk two years later.

As drums and a piano play, you wonder where what direction Brian Eno  will take Dead Finks Don’t Talk. Against a backdrop of drums and piano, Brian sounds like a preacher delivering an ironic, spoken word vocal. It soon changes, becomes a tender, thoughtful vocal. He’s accompanied by howling backing vocals. Then when they drop out, a blistering guitar solo is unleashed. It’s replaced by handclaps and Brian’s chameleon like vocal. It veers between tender, thoughtful, comedic and  ironic on what’s best described as a mixture of music, theatre and comedy. 

Straight away, Some Of Them Are Old has wistful, melancholy sound. Just an organ and deliberate harmonies accompanies Brian Eno on what’s a beautiful, wistful and lysergic track.

Here Come The Warm Jets closes with the title-track. Guitars bathed in effects, accompany the driving rhythm section and keyboards. Later, they’re joined by harmonies. They’re responsible for a driving, everyman, anthem.

Just ten months after leaving Roxy Music, Brian Eno released Here Come The Warm Jets, his much anticipated debut album in January 1974. Here Come The Warm Jets was well received upon its release. Reviews ranged from favourable to critically acclaimed. Despite that, Here Come The Warm Jets only reached number twenty-six in the UK and number 151 in the US Billboard 200. This must have been a disappointment for Brian, who previously, had been part of one of the most successful British bands of the early seventies. Belatedly, however, Here Come The Warm Jets record buyers recognised the quality of music on Brian Eno’s debut album.

 Here Come The Warm Jets  is best described as a fusion of art rock, avant garde, experimental and glam rock is considered one of Brian Eno’s finest albums. Belatedly, this genre defying cult classic is starting to find a wider audience. No wonder as it’s an ambitious and innovative album. This was the album Brian Eno had been longing to make. However, as a member of Roxy Music this wasn’t possible. 

Here Come The Warm Jets was a step too far from the music Roxy Music released. They couldn’t risk releasing an album like Here Come The Warm Jets, so early in their career. That would risk everything Roxy Music had worked towards. So, the only alternative for Brian Eno was to leave Roxy Music, the group he co-founded. Roxy Music had just made that all important commercial breakthrough, and were the critic’s darlings. That was a lot to sacrifice. Brian Eno however, was willing to make that sacrifice. It paid off.

Between 1974 and 1983, Brian Eno could do no wrong. He was one of the most innovative musicians of his generations. This run of critically acclaimed albums continued with his sophomore album Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy), which was released in November 1974.  While Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) wasn’t a commercial success, critical acclaim accompanied its release. That was the case from 1975s Another Green World and Discreet Music, to 1977s Before and After Science and 1978s Music For Films, which is another classic album. After that, Brian embarked upon a string of innovative albums. This includes 1982s Ambient 4: On Land, 1983s Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks and then 1983s More Music For Films. This was one of the most fruitful periods of Brian Eno’s career.

Ten years after leaving Roxy Music, Brian Eno wasn’t just enjoying a solo career. He collaborated with a wide range of artists and had reinvented himself as a successful producer. His decision to leave Roxy Music had paid off. 

While Brian Eno didn’t enjoy the same commercial success as a solo artist, as he would’ve with Roxy Music, Brian Eno’s self respect was intact and he was making music he believed in. Much of this music was groundbreaking, innovative and influential. This includes his groundbreaking debut album Here Come The Warm Jets, where freed from the shackles of Roxy Music, Brian Eno embarked upon the start of a long and illustrious solo career.

Cult Classic: Brian Eno-Here Come The Warm Jets.

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FAVORITE HIPPIES-NORTHERN  SKIES.

Favorite Hippies-Northern Skies.

Release Date: ‘28th’ March 2020.

Album Of The Week.

Just over four years after the release of their critically acclaimed sophomore album Love is Hard in early 2016, Favorite Hippies,  who are one of the top Swedish alt-rock and Americana bands, returned with their much-anticipated and long-awaited third album Northern Skies. It’s been available to stream and download since early 2020. However, on the ‘28th’ March 2020 Northern Skies will be released on vinyl and showcases the considerable talents of the Favorite Hippies. They’ve come a long way in just ten years.

In 2010, guitarist, songwriter and charismatic frontman Örjan Mäki found himself with some free time between his regular gigs. That was when he decided to found a side project that became the Favorite Hippies.

Back then, Örjan Mäki who is from Kaunisvaara, in the far north of Sweden , was already a familiar face in the vibrant Swedish scene. The talented, inventive and versatile roots guitarist was a member of the renowned  Willy Clay Band and had already played alongside artists like Chip Taylor, Doug Seegers and Will Kimbrough.  Although he enjoyed being part of a band and working as a sideman, Örjan Mäki wanted to develop and showcase his skills as a singer, songwriter and guitarist. That was when he hit on the idea of a founding a new band, and the Favorite Hippies was born.

In the new band, Örjan Mäki was able to take centrestage, playing lead guitar and took charge of  the vocals. He was already a gifted songwriter and when he sang, he became a storyteller who painted picture with his lyrics. Meanwhile, the rest of the Favorite Hippies proved the perfect foil for him as they combined disparate musical genres including alt-rock, Americana and roots rock. The new band were on their way.

Three years after founding the Favorite Hippies, they released their debut album Sidekick Stories in 2013, on Rootsy Records. It was released to critical  acclaim and great things were forecast for the band.

They headed out on tour to promote Sidekick Stories. However, not long after the release of Sidekick Stories, the Favorite Hippies decided to relocate, and headed to rural idyl just outside of Stockholm. This resulted in a change in the band’s lineup. For many bands, this could’ve proved disastrous, but the Favorite Hippies regrouped and became a stronger and tighter band.

By 2015, this new lineup of the Favorite Hippies were ready to record their sophomore album.They had honed their sound by touring and were more than ready to lay down the tracks that became Love Is Hard. 

When the Favorite Hippies released their much-anticipated  Love Is Hard in early 2016, it was to the same critical acclaim as their debut Sidekick Stories. Critics and fans agreed that the album was well worth the wait, and were looking forward to the followup.

After the release of Love Is Hard, the Favorite Hippies headed out on the road to promote the album. They were now used to touring and doing the hard miles as they traversed Sweden, Denmark and Finland promoting Love Is Hard which was hailed as their finest album to date.

When the Favorite Hippies returned to the studio to record the followup to Love Is Hard, the lineup included the tight and talented rhythm section of Zacharias Ahlvik and bassist Morgan Korsmoe. While Örjan Mäki played lead guitar and took charge of lead vocals, his nephew Johan Mäki. They form a formidable partnership on  Northern Skies which wasn’t the easiest album to record.

It took a while before the Favorite Hippies were happy with the sound of the nine songs on Northern Skies. Forever the perfectionists, their perseverance and dedication was worthwhile and resulted in a career-defining album.

There’s something for everyone on the Favorite Hippies’ carefully crafted third album Northern Skies. It was released to earlier in 2020, and finds the Favorite Hippies switching between and fusing disparate genres. The majority of these genres’ roots are in the deep South.  

They’re part of what’s an eclectic collection of songs from a tight, talented, rocking band who in the space of nine songs switch between alt-rock, and sentimental sounding classic country to guitar driven Southern Rock to R&B and roots music which is the basis for the album.

Örjan Mäki explains: “All our songs still derive their common ground in roots music from the American south. I bet you all can quite easily figure out who our musical heroes are. This is just our interpretation of their legacy; American roots music in a Northern Scandinavian fashion. I’ve reached that certain age where you find a soothing self confidence to write music and stories that you’d like to listen to yourself, I simply don’t have to please anyone else..If i felt like quoting Joe Hill in a raging outcry, or singing a melancholic story about a father and his grown-up son, I’ve just gone all in and let it end up on the same record. And this time around we’ve definitely let the lyrical content guide the musical vibe of each and every song.”

Favorite Hippies kick loose on the album opener In The Back Seat Of A Beat Up Ford Back In Nineteen Seventy Eight. They’re a tight talented group who have done the hard miles over the last ten years, and from the opening bars seamlessly combine good time rock ’n’ roll,  Southern Rock and Americana. There’s more than a nod to the Rolling Stones, while  frontman Örjan Mäki sounds uncannily like Neil Young in his prime on one of the best tracks I’ve heard in a long time. It sets the bar high for the rest of the album.

The tempo drops on Speak Of Peace, as a harmonica and acoustic guitar combine before Örjan Mäki showcases his skills as a songwriter and storyteller. His vocal is lived-in and emotive as he paints picture with the lyrics. Meanwhile, the rhythm section anchor the arrangement as the wistful harmonica and guitar on this melodic and memorable song.

It’s all change on Tears In Her Tip Jar, which is a beautiful and heart-wrenching country ballad. Örjan Mäki who again, sounds like Neil Young in the seventies, delivers the sentimental and cinematic lyrics. Meanwhile the rhythm section, jangling piano and weeping pedal steel provide the perfect backdrop to a track that tugs at the heartstrings and sounds as if it was recorded in Nashville, not Sweden.

Pick and Strum was rebased as the lead single from Northern Skies. It’s a jaunty sounding fusion of Americana and country about a reluctant soldier. All he wants to do is Pick and Strum, which the Favorite Hippies do with aplomb on what’s one of the album’s highlights.

The tempo drops, on the moody, thoughtful sounding Wolf Hour. It features some  blistering guitar licks  before Örjan Mäki’s lived-in vocal enters. He’s a talented storyteller who paints pictures as he delivers a needy, emotive vocal. Later, drums provide the heartbeat and then pound adding drama, as searing guitars combine as the Favorite Hippies join forces and showcasing their considerable talents. Adding the finishing touch to this seven minute epic is a soul-baring vocal that bristles with emotion.

As the rocky sounding Organise unfolds, the guitars combine with the rhythm section and washes of swiping organ. Örjan Mäki delivers a powerhouse of a vocal as scorching guitars are unleashed and thunderous drums pound. The four members of the band morph into one on this irresistible fusion of Southern Rock and R&B. It’s a glorious a reminder of what rock music used to sound like.

 I Need A Rocker explodes into life and is a slice of good time rock ’n’ roll that brings to mind The Killer, Jerry Lee Lewis. Favorite Hippies transport the listener back in time on this irresistible sounding track that’s guaranteed to get any party started.

The tempo drops on Perfect Timing, where alt-country guitars combine with the rhythm section complete with slow,  pounding drums before it’s all change. Just Örjan Mäki’s wistful vocal and a strummed guitar combine, and this contrast prove effective. Soon, though, the arrangement builds and the rhythm section and guitars are added and. occasionally, Favorite Hippies sound like Wilco. Both bands have something in common, lead vocalists who can breath life, meaning and emotion into lyrics like Örjan Mäki does here.

Closing Northern Skies is the title-track which is quite different to other tracks. The arrangement is spacious and is allowed to breath as the Favorite Hippies taking a less is more approach. Just a guitar, bass, drums and harmonica combine with Örjan Mäki’s heartfelt vocal as he sings to his son on this quite beautiful slice of bluesy and sentimental sounding Alt-country music. It’s the perfect way to end the album.

Four years after the release of their critically acclaimed sophomore album Love Is Hard, Favorite Hippies return with their much antiquated third album Northern Skies. It finds the talented quartet switching between alt-country, Americana, country, good time rock ’n’ roll, R&B and Southern Rock. There’s even diversions via alt-rock and elements of blues as they showcase their considerable skills on Northern Skies. 

It features a series breathtaking performances and is an almost flawless album. There’s a reason for this. Rather than record twelve to fifteen songs, Favorite Hippies recorded just nine tracks for Northern Skies and every one of these carefully crafted tracks is of the highest quality. They’re part of Northern Skies, which is a career-defining album from the truly talented and versatile Favorite Hippies.

Favorite Hippies-Northern Skies.

BODDI SATVA-18.

Boddhi Satva-18.

Label: BBE Music.

Release Date: ‘20th’ March 2020.

Boddhi Satva was born and spent much of the the early part of his life in Bria in the Eastern part Central African Republic. Soon, he was immersed in music, and spent his time writing, rapping  and producing with the hip hop crew the Gbekpa Crew, which he had founded with his friends. Although Boddhi Satva enjoying being an integral part of the local music scene he wanted his music to be heard much further afield. 

When he headed to Belgium in 2000 to continue his studies, his dream of his music reaching a wider audience came true. That was where he discovered something that he quickly became passionate about,…deep house music.

Now that he had discovered deep house, Boddhi Satva started immersing himself in the music. Quickly, he discovered the giants of the deep house scene including  Kevin Yost, Alton Miller, Osunlade and Masters At Work who were soon, among his favourites artists.

Having discovered deep house, Boddhi Satva wasn’t content to just listen to the music and dance to it. Instead, he wanted to make a career out of the music he loved. He decided to embark upon a career as DJ and producer. DJ-ing and producing was how Boddhi Satva was going to earn a living. 

That is still the case today.  Twenty years later and Boddhi Satva, the founding father of Ancestral Soul, founder of Offering Recordings and one of the pioneers of modern day African music will release a retrospective double album 18, on BBE Muisc on the ‘20th’ March 2020. It features nearly two decades of innovative music.

In 2006, Boddhi Satva had been working as a DJ and producer for six years when he released his first solo project for Yoruba Records, Bria’s Offering. It was a tribute to Bria, the city he grew up and started making music. This was the first of a number singles and EPs Boddhi Satva released on Yoruba.

This included  two EPs with Alton Miller in 2006.  The pair collaborated on the See The Day EP. For Boddhi Satva this was a dream come true as Alton Miller was one of his favourite deep house producers and one the artists who inspired him to be embark upon a career as a DJ and producer, and had be inspired him to make a career out of the music he loved. This was Alton Miller who collaborated on two EPs with Boddhi Satva.

Already Boddhi Satva was receiving recognition from his peers in the music industry. Quickly, he established a reputation as a talented producer, one capable of producing  music that had an uplifting quality. He was already in demand  as a remixer and producer. The next step would be for Boddhi to start his own label, Offering Recordings.

Having established Offering Recordings, Boddhi set about releasing quality music, music that was uplifting, had a spiritual quality and carried a message

By 2007, Boddhi Satva had already established a reputation as a talented and imaginative remixer. The Boddhi Satva Ancestral Soul Mix of God Is Love by DJ Pippi vs. Danny Marquez feat. Marcel was released by Bubble Soul Music and showcased his talents as a remixer and his trademark sound.

The flowing year, 2008 was a busy one for Boddhi Satva and two tracks from that year feature on 18. This includes the timeless sounding Manda Island, a track from Afefe Iku’s album Artifacts Of Pottery Vessels. It was released on Osunlade’s Yoruba Records. So was Gabriele Poso’s album  From The Genuine World which featured Until Our Work It’s Done. After the album was released,  the Genuine Remixes EP was released and featured  Boddhi Satva’s Ancestral Remix of Until Our Work It’s Done.  It’s the highlight of the EP and is a truly memorable remix.

2009 was another busy year for Boddhi Satva, who was busy producing his own music and remixing. He released Big Theme on his own label Offering Recording, which was inspired by the Kenny Dope track No Hook. That’s certainly not the case here.  Boddhi Satva remixed Jay Tripwire’s  Into The Shadows and his Ancestral Soul Remix was a dancefloor filler. 

Another of his remixes  from 2009 was V’s  Born Again. This time, Boddhi Satva and Mr. V joined forces for the Retouch of Born Again. When Mr. V played the track to Louie Vega who in turns played it to Pete Adarkwah from BBE Music wo released the track. This was the start of a relationship that has continued for over a  decade.

Meanwhile, Boddhi Satva had established and was running his own label Offering Recordings. This didn’t stop Louie Vega, from Masters At Work signing Boddhi Satva to his label in 2010. This was one of the people who inspired Boddhi Satva, and had  fuelled his love of house music.

Louie Vega was by now a Grammy Award winning producer and owner of Vega Records and started introducing everyone to Boddhi Satva’s music. From Miami’s World Music Conference, to London’s Ministry of Sound and everywhere from Amsterdam to Ibiza, music lovers and music industry insiders were introduced to Boddhi Satva and his music.

In 2011, Boddhi Satva’s continued to divide his time between DJ-ing, production and remixing. He was asked to remix Wake With The Day by Koyla featuring Zaki Ibrahim. The Boddhi Satva Afriki Soul Mix takes the song in new and sometimes unexpected directions and showcases a talented and inventive remixer at work.

Later in 2011 Boddhi Satva and Abel Tabu’s Moina Ya Mokili EP was released on Atal Music. The title-track was the first song to feature a vocal from Boddhi Satva. He and Abel Tabu drew inspirations from their respective backgrounds and cultures to create a a powerful, but dancefloor friendly track. It was the perfect way to end the year.

Three months later, in March 2012, Boddhi Satva released Invocation to critical acclaim on BBE Music. It was a truly eclectic collection of disparate music spanning Nu Soul, African Roots and ragga, all with Boddhi Satva’s own unique sound. It recorded during visits to Africa and features Oumou Sangare, Vikter Duplaix, C. Robert Walker, Freddy Masamba  Leslie Kisumuna and Pegguy Tabu. They played their part in an album of uplifting, inspirational and beautiful music, music that crosses and fuses the musical genres.

Followup the release of Invocation, Boddhi Satva returned with the Ode To Ancestral Healing later in 2012 on Offering Recordings. It featured Yuba who can be heard on the spiritual sounding The Depth Of The Source. It’s a welcome addition to 18 and is a reminder of where Boddhi Satva was as a composer, arranger and producer in 2012.

Three years later, and Boddhi Satva released his sophomore album Transition on his own label Offering Recordings. It featured Mama Kosa where Boddhi Satva collaborated with Kaysha. However, one of the highlights of the album was the opening track Papa, which he multitalented and versatile Boddhi Satva who cowrote, arranged, mixed and produced Papa. The song features vocalist Mohamed Diaby who delivers a heartfelt vocal on this beautiful and emotive Boddhi’s late father. 

In 2016, Boddhi Satva released Sweet Brown Sugar on Offering Recordings. This was another of his compositions which he also arranged and produced. It features another of Boddhi Satva’s house music heroes E-Man. Yet again, he was getting a chance to work with the people who had inspired him musically.

During 2017, Boddhi Satva who has long been passionate about Gwana music and culture had to travel to Casablanca, in Morocco, where he collaborated with Maalem Hammam on four tracks. This included Belma Belma, a tribute to Gwana culture and spiritually. Belma Belma is also the combination of the colours that known and used for healing purposes in Gwana culture. 

Another track Boddhi Satva released in 2017 was Ni An Bagay, which he cowrote with David Walters. It was mixed and produced by Boddhi Satva and released on Offering Recordings’ founder and released in 2017. It’s a welcome addition to 18 and shows how Boddhi Satva’s music was evolving by 2017.

Closing 18 is  Kanga Mu a collaboration between Boddhi Satva and Spilulu that features H-Baraka’s vocals. They play their part in what was one of Boddhi Satva’s biggest club hits. By then, Boddhi Satva Kanga Mu  had come a long way since his early days in Belgium when he decided to embark upon a career as a deep house DJ and producer. It was a gamble, but one that had paid off.

Twenty years after embarking upon his career as a deep house DJ and producer, BBE Music will release 18, a two disc retrospective focusing on the first two decades of Boddhi Satva’s career on the on the ‘20th’ of March 2020.  It features seventeen tracks and covers the period between 2006 and 2018. 

During this period, Boddhi Satva has gained a reputation as a talented, inventive, innovative and versatile producer and remixer. He’s regarded as the founding father of Ancestral Soul and is  one of the pioneers of modern day African music. Boddhi Satva has also run his own label Offering Recordings for over a decade and released music for the soul, music that helps people forget their worries, fears and pain. Although Boddhi has an almost unique take on music, he doesn’t forget that the music he’s producing is for people to dance to. That is no surprise, as deep house was what inspired him to embark upon a career as a producer. 

This is something that Boddhi Satva was born to do, and for twenty years has created music that crosses and often fuses disparate musical genres. During that period, he’s created his own trademark sound, Ancestral Soul . It’s what we’ve come to expect from Boddhi Satva.

Two decades after the founding father of Ancestral Soul, embarked upon a career as a DJ and producer Boddhi Satva is still making music that is dancefloor friendly and also uplifting, joyous, inspirational,  beautiful, powerful and spiritual and 18 is the perfect introduction to his music.

Boddhi Satva-18.

ART TAYLOR-A.T.’S DELIGHT.

Art Taylor-A.T.’s Delight.

Label: Blue Note Records.

One of the most influential drummers in the history of jazz is Art Taylor, who was born in New York, on the ‘6th’ of April 1929, and as a teenager, played in a local Harlem-based band that featured pianist Kenny Drew and saxophonists Sonny Rollins and Jackie McLean. Each of these young musicians would enjoy a successful career in jazz, and record for Blue Note Records. 

Art Taylor only released one album for Blue Note Records, A.T.’s Delight in 1960. It was was recently reissued and is a reminder of the man who “helped define the sound of modern jazz drumming,” Art Taylor.

In 1948,  nineteen year old Art Taylor joined Howard McGhee’s band. This was akin to a musical apprenticeship as Art Taylor played alongside one of the first bebop trumpeters.

As the fifties dawned, Art Taylor joined Coleman Hawkins band. Just like Howard McGhee, the Hawk was an inventive and innovative musician who forged his own sound. Although Art Taylor was only the Hawk’s drummer until 1951, it was another learning experience.

Having left the Hawk’s employ, Art Taylor joined bebop clarinetist Buddy DeFranco’s band in 1952. He was regarded as the finest jazz clarinet player and once again, Art Taylor was playing alongside top musicians. However, a year later, he was on the move again.

Art Taylor joined jazz pianist Bud Powell’s band for the first time in 1953. By then, Bud Powell was a hugely influential musician who nowadays, is credited with being a leading figure in the development of modern jazz. Once again, Art Taylor who was still only twenty-four was learning from the best and made his recording debut in 1953. He would feature on twelve albums Bud Powell released between 1953 and 1958, including five for Blue Note Records. However, in 1954 Art Taylor moved on.

In 1954, Art Taylor playing in George Wallington and Art Farmer bands, before returning to Bud Powell’s employ in 1955. Still, Art Taylor was a member of George Wallington’s band until 1955.

That year, 1955, Art Taylor played on Elmo Hope and Frank Foster’s album Hope Meets Foster. This was the start of a prolific period when the recording studio became a second home for Art Taylor.

The following year, 1956, was an important year for Art Taylor. As sideman, he played on the first of eleven Red Garland albums released between 1956 and 1961, and the first of twelve Gene Ammons solo albums released during the same period. He also joined Jackie McLean for the first time, and played on nine albums released between 1956 and 1960. Prolific seemed to be Art Taylor’s middle name.

During 1956, Art Taylor could be heard on a number other albums. This included two albums released by Thelonious Monk;  Matthew Gee’s Jazz By Gee; Kenny Burrell’s All Night Long; Horace Silver’s Silver’s Blue;  Lee Morgan’s Introducing Lee Morgan and Donald Byrd and Art Farmer’s collaboration 2 Trumpets. Although Art Taylor was still only twenty-seven, he was quickly becoming the go-to drummer for many jazz mucicians given his talent, versatility and inventiveness. 

Art Taylor had also joined Gigi Gryce in 1956, and featured on five albums released between 1956 and 1958. The same year 1956, he formed his own band Taylor’s Wailers and also joined Donald Byrd’s band. Art Taylor would spend six years touring and also recording with Donald Byrd between 1957 and 1963. By then, Art Taylor was a respected figure and always in demand as a sideman.

1957, was a significant year for Art Taylor, who was now working with some of the giants of jazz. He was touring with Thelonious Monk, and in 1957, featured on Miles Davis album Miles Ahead. Art Taylor was part of John Coltrane’s band and featured on thirteen albums released between 1956 and 1964. This meant that Art Taylor featured on 1958s Soultrane, 1959s Giant Steps and 1964s Bahia.  However, Art Taylor played on many more albums during the late-sixties.

When jazz fans looked at the credits on a number of albums released during 1957, often the drummer was Art Taylor. He played on Kenny Burrell’s All Day Long and 2 Guitars; Paul Chambers’ Bass On Top; Sonny Clark’s Sonny’s Crib; Pepper Adams’ Baritones and French Horns;  Milt Jackson’s Bags and Flutes; Thad Jones’ After Hours;Toots Thielemans’ Man Bites Harmonica;  Ernie Henry’s Presenting Ernie Henry; Sahib Shihab’s Jazz Sahib; Julius Watkins; Clifford Jordon’s  and Charlie Rouse‘s Les Jazz Modes and two releases by Lee Morgan’s City Lights and Candy. Art Taylor was also a member of The Prestige All Stars on Interplay For 2 Trumpets and 2 Tenors. By then, he was still just twenty-eight and had come a long way.

Art Taylor had also released his critically acclaimed debut album Taylor’s Wailers, on Prestige in 1957.  He had spent the best part of a decade as sideman, and had stepped out of the shadows on Taylor’s Wailers.

Despite that, 1958 saw Art Taylor return to working as a sideman, dividing his time between live work and spending time in the studio. Just like the last few years, Art Taylor featured on a number of albums released during 1958. He continued to work with Gene Ammons, Donald Byrd, Gigi Gryce John Coltrane and Red Garland. Art Taylor played on Dorthy Ashby’s two albums In A Minor Groove and Hip Harp; Kenny Bureell’s Just Wailin’; Dizzy Reece’s Blues In Trinity and Louis Smith’s Here Comes Louis Smith. However, the following year 1959, saw Art Taylor turn his attention to his solo career. 

That was despite being busy working as a sideman for a growing number of jazz musicians live and in the studio. However, Art Taylor played on Clark Terry’s Top and Bottom Brass; Lem Winchester’s Winchester Special; Oliver Nelson’s Meet Oliver Nelson; Tiny Grimes’ Tiny in Swingville; Benny Golson’s Gettin’ With It; Arnett Cobb’s Party Time; Walter Davis Jr’s Davis Cup  and Jimmy Cleveland’s  A Map of Jimmy Cleveland. The other album Art Taylor recorded in 1959 was his much-anticipated sophomore album Taylor’s Tenors.

Just like his 1957 debut album Taylor’s Wailers, Taylor’s Tenors  featured two of Thelonious Monk’s compositions, Rhythm-A-Ning and Straight, No Chaser. The album also featured the Art Taylor composition Dacor. This was a first for Art Taylor, whose album was released to plaudits and praise just like Taylor’s Wailers. However, Taylor’s Tenors was the last album Art Taylor released for Prestige. His next album A.T.’s Delight was released on Blue Note Records.

As the sixties dawned, there was no letup for Art Taylor as he continued to divide his time between his solo career and his work as a sideman. Before recording his third solo album and Blue Note Records’ debut A.T.’s Delight, on the ‘6th’ of August 1960, Art Taylor worked on Arnett Cobb’s More Party Time and Movin’ Right Along; Kenny Dorham’s Showboat; Ken McIntyre’s Looking Ahead; Julian Priester’s Spiritsville; Charlie Rouse’s Takin’ Care Of Business ; Johnny “Hammond” Smith’s Talk That Talk and Lem Winchester’s Lem Beat and Duke Jordan’s Flight To Jordan on the ‘4th’ of August 1960.

A.T.’s Delight.

Two days after recording with Duke Jordan’s on  his fourth album Flight To Jordan, Art Taylor and his band made their way to Van Gelder Studio, in Englewood Cliffs to record A.T.’s Delight.

Joining drummer Art Taylor were bassist Paul Chambers, pianist Wynton Kelly, trumpeter Dave Burns, tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine and conga player Carlos “Patato” Valdes. They recorded six tracks with producer Alfred Lion.

For A.T.’s Delight, Art Taylor wrote Cookoo and Fungi, while the other five tracks were cover versions. This included John Coltrane’s Syeeda’s Song Flute; Kenny Clarke and Thelonious Monk’s Epistrophy; Denzil Best’s Move and two Kenny Dorham compositions High Seas and Blue Interlude. These six recordings became Art Taylor’s third album and Blue Note Records’ debut A.T.’s Delight.

When A.T.’s Delight was released to widespread critical acclaim later in 1960, and was hailed as the finest album of Art Taylor’s career. It was as if everything he had done had been working towards this one album. 

A.T.’s Delight opens with Syeeda’s Song Flute, which was a John Coltrane’s composition from Giant Steps that hardly anyone covered. It’s reinvented and reinvigorated by Art Taylor and his band who take the track in a new direction. Playing starring roles are solos by Dave Burns’ trumpet and Stanley Turrentine’s tenor saxophone while Paul Chambers pizzicato bass returns to the melody in this bright, percussive and uplifting epic. 

There was no surprise when Art Taylor’s covered Monk’s Epistrophy, which was originally called Fly Rite. It’s an atonal 32-bar tune in ABCB-form, where each member of the band enjoys their moment in the sun and showcases their considerable skills. This includes Carlos “Patato” Valdes’ whose congas compliment the drums as the arrangement bounds along during this homage to one of Art Taylor’s heroes Thelonious Monk.

As Move unfolds, the tempo rises and rhythm section power the arrangement along. There’s no stopping Art Taylor and the band who ensure the track swings and then some. Playing a starring role is trumpeter  Dave Burns who steals the show with a barnstorming and blistering solo.

High Seas is a relatively simple but extremely effective 32 bar minor key theme. It finds  Art Taylor’s drums and Paul Chambers bass power the pulsing arrangement along on this dark, bluesy and ruminative sounding track.

Cookoo and Fungi is the only Art Taylor composition on the album. When it eventually unfolds, it bristles with nervous energy before morphing into a calypso during the main theme. It’s akin to a trip on a musical roller coaster where it’s a case of expect the unexpected from Art Taylor and his band.

Closing A.T.’s Delight is the second Kenny Dorham composition Blue Interlude. It’s has a spacious arrangement that  breezes along and later becomes dark and moody but still swings as this all-star band showcase their skills one last time.

A.T.’s Delight was the third of five albums that Art Taylor released during a career that spanned forty-seven years. For much of that time, Art Taylor was content to be a sideman and worked with the great and good of jazz. However, when he took centre-stage on his first three solo albums they’re a reminder of one of the best and most influential and inventive  jazz drummers. Proof of that can be found on A.T.’s Delight, where Art Taylor comes of age as a solo artist on a flawless and truly timeless album that was the finest of his career.

Art Taylor-A.T.’s Delight.

UZELLI ELEKTRO SAZ 1976-1984.

Uzelli Elektro Saz 1976-1984.

Label: Uzelli.

By the early seventies, many Turkish people decided to move to other parts of Europe in search of a better life. Some headed to England 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 exiled Turks found the better life that they had been 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 in 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 reminder 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 form 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. By the mid-eighties, vinyl was no longer as popular so Uzelli started to release albums on cassette. This changed in the late-eighties, when there was a decline in popularity of cassettes. While this affected many Turkish record companies,  Uzelli had realised 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 the Uzelli company wasn’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.  Uzellia have continued to release albums and compilations to this day.

Their latest Uzelli release is a new compilation Uzelli Elektro Saz 1976-1984. It was curated by Murat Ertel, who is  the lead singer and saz player of psych band BaBa Zula and his wife, Esma Ertel. They’ve chosen thirteen tracks from the  Uzelli archives which features one of the most important instruments in Anatolian culture, the electric saz or bağlama.

Originally, the saz was an acoustic instrument and was one of the most significant  instruments used in traditional Turkish folk music. It’s been around since 1400BC, when it was first used in the Anatolia region. It was named the saz by the Seljuks around the ‘11th’ Century, and the bağlama in the ‘18th’ Century and became a core instrument in Turkish folk music.

Just like in Britain and America, as folk music evolved, the instruments that musicians used started to change. In Britain and America, the electric guitar was used by the first wave of folk rockers. A similar thing happened in Turkey when musicians started using the electric saz.

It was essentially an updated and electrified version of what was by then Turkey’s most-used traditional string instrument, the saz.  It plays an important part in Anatolian culture and previously, has been described as the “people’s instrument” and “the  mouthpiece to rebellion.”  Proof of this is the music on  Uzelli Elektro Saz 1976-1984.

The compilation features an eclectic and exotic selection of tracks from the Uzelli archives. There’s something for on  Uzelli Elektro Saz 1976-1984. This  included psychedelic rock, popular music from the period and updated covers of traditional Turkish folk songs. The music veers between trippy, lysergic, spacey, otherworldly and dreamy to catchy, and irresistible to ruminative and wistful. Many of the tracks are the equivalent to time travel and take the listener back to Turkey between 1976 and 1984. It’s a captivating, intriguing and intoxicating  collection of songs where the emphasis is on quality.

Choosing just a few of the highlight on a compilation as good as Uzelli Elektro Saz 1976-1984 isn’t easy. This includes Akbaba İkilisi’s rocky ballad Darildim Darildim, the exotic and cinematic Anatolian rock of Kina Gecesi Ensemble’s Misket and Sari Zeki’s beautiful, thoughtful sounding Topal. 

While the emphasis is on the electric saz on the compilation,  Sultan Sümbül’s Mercanlar and Gülcan Opel’s Yaz Dostum both feature impassioned and powerful vocals. 

Sarı Zeki’s psych-folk jam Dom Dom Kursun is one of the standout tracks. So is Kina Gecesi Ensemble’s second contribution Ari Yildiz which features  a peerless blistering and fleet fingered electric saz solo. However, it would be remiss not to include Asik Emrah’s lysergic, rocky and truly memorable sounding 20 Asrin Bozuk Duzeni which closes Uzelli Elektro Saz 1976-1984. It’s the perfect way to close this latest lovingly curated compilation from the Uzelli archives. 

Uzelli Elektro Saz 1976-1984 features thirteen tracks released from a period that encompasses the heyday of vinyl and the beginning of cassette culture. Cassettes were something that Uzelli embraced during this period. For many Turkish music lovers was how they discovered and grew to love and appreciate the music that Uzelli released between 1976 and 1984.  

The music on Uzelli Elektro Saz 1976-1984 still sounds as good in 2020, and has an timeless quality. Unlike a lot of music released during this period, the eclectic selection of music on Uzelli Elektro Saz 1976-1984 doesn’t sound dated. It’s stood the test of time and Uzelli Elektro Saz 1976-1984 is also a tantalising taste of the delights awaiting the newcomer to the Uzelli label. A musical feast awaits them, and Uzelli Elektro Saz 1976-1984 is the perfect amuse bouche. 

Uzelli Elektro Saz 1976-1984.

BREAD, LOVE AND DREAMS-AMARYLLIS-VINYL.

Bread, Love and Dreams-Amaryllis-Vinyl.

Label: Magic Box.

When Scottish acid folk trio Bread, Love and Dreams appeared at the 1968  Edinburgh Festival, David McNiven, Angie Rew and Carolyn Davis had no idea that the concert was going to transform their lives. In the audience that night, was Ray Horricks, a Decca Records staffer, who nowadays, is credited with discovering Bread, Love and Dreams. 

They already had a loyal local following and were regarded as one of Scotland’s up-and-coming groups. It was no surprised when  Bread, Love and Dreams were signed by Decca Records and went on to release three albums between 1969 and 1971. Their swansong was Amaryllis, which was recently released on vinyl by Magic Box. 

Having signed to Decca Records, Ray Horricks took Bread, Love and Dreams to London, where they began work on their eponymous debut album. It featured mostly original material, apart from a cover of Artificial Light (Of All The Living Lies). The album was produced by Ray Horricks, with Ian Green writing, arranging and conducting the strings on Bread, Love and Dreams. Once the album was completed, it was scheduled for release in early 1969.

Bread, Love and Dreams.

Upon  its release, Bread, Love and Dreams was well received by critics who noticed the similarities to another Scottish group who had influenced them, the Incredible String Band. On their eponymous debut album, Bread, Love and Dreams showcased their trademark acid folk sound on an album that featured several tracks with string arrangements. It was a carefully crafted album of acid folk that deserved to find a much wider audience. However, the problem was that there many other groups releasing similar albums and the album failed commercially. 

This must have been a huge disappointment for the band given the quality of music on the album. Guitarist Carolyn Davis was so disappointed that she left the band. However, that wasn’t the only problem facing Bread, Love and Dreams.

After the commercial failure of Bread, Love and Dreams, Decca Records wanted to drop the band. However, Ray Horricks still believed in the band and went into back for them. This resulted in Bread, Love and Dreams being given a second chance by Decca Records.

Bread, Love and Dreams headed out on tour with Magna Carta and T Rex, and during their downtime, wrote new material for their sophomore album. That wasn’t all. 

During this period,  Bread, Love and Dreams began working with the Traverse Theatre Group in Edinburgh. Their director Max Stafford wanted David McNiven to adapt one of the songs he had written , Mother Earth, for the stage. It was performed to critical acclaim first in Edinburgh and then London, before heading to Scandinavia, the Benelux countries and Spain. This was the break that Bread, Love and Dreams had been looking for. 

The Strange Tale Of Captain Shannon and The Hunchback From Gigha.

In the summer of 1970, Bread, Love and Dreams entered the studio to record a new album.  They were joined by guest artists including drummer Terry Cox, Pentangle’s double bassist Danny Thompson, bassist Dave Richmond and organist and pianist Alan Trajan.  Over a five day period, managed to record enough material for two albums. 

The reason that Bread, Love and Dreams recorded two album’s worth of material was that they were scared they were about to be dropped by Decca Records.  

Despite having enough material for their next two albums, Bread, Love and Dreams briefly considered releasing a double album like the Incredible String Band’s Wee Tam and The Big Huge. However, eventually, Bread, Love and Dreams decided to release two more albums, the first being The Strange Tale Of Captain Shannon and The Hunchback From Gigha.

When Bread, Love and Dreams released their sophomore album The Strange Tale Of Captain Shannon and The Hunchback From Gigha in  1970, it was to critical acclaim. The album feature the epic title-track which sounded as if it had been influenced by the Incredible String Band and Sucking On A Cigarette, which featured former guitarist Carolyn Davis.  She played a walk-on  part on an album that could’ve transformed the fortunes of Bread, Love and Dreams.

Sadly, when The Strange Tale Of Captain Shannon and The Hunchback From Gigha was released it failed commercially. This was a disaster for the two remaining members of Bread, Love and Dreams, and frustrated executives at Decca Records decided to rush release third album, Amaryllis.

Amaryllis.

In a way, Bread, Love and Dreams decision to record enough material for two albums backfired as the group knew that Amaryllis was the stronger and best album of their career. 

David McNiven had written the three-part title-track, Amaryllis, Time’s The Thief and Circles Of Night. He also penned My Stair-Cupboard At 3 A.M. with Lindsay Levy. The other track on the album was Brother John which was written by Angie Rew, a talented songwriter and multi-instrumentalist.

Vocalist Angie Rew played guitar and percussion on Amaryllis, while David McNiven played guitar and added vocals. Augmenting Bread, Love and Dreams were drummer Terry Cox, double bassist Danny Thompson, bassist Dave Richmond plus organist and pianist Alan Trajan. Just like the two previous albums, Amaryllis was produced by Ray Horricks and released in 1971.

In their haste to release Amaryllis in 1971, Decca Records made two massive mistakes. The first was failing to promote the album properly. While this didn’t necessary mean the album was doomed to failure, failing to press enough albums was. 

Ironically,  Amaryllis was released to widespread critical and was regarded as their finest hour. Despite this, the album failed to even match the sales of Bread, Love and Dreams’ first two albums. This was because Decca Records had failed to press enough copies of Amaryllis, which had the potential to launch Bread, Love and Dreams’ career. Sadly, it wasn’t to be.

Side one of the album is taken up with Amaryllis, an ambitious three-part suite. Part. 1: Out Of The Darkness and Into The Night has a dark, mysterious and ruminative sound. Despite being released in 1971, there’s a flower power sound. There’s also acid guitar and beautiful folksy harmonies from Angie Rew and David McNiven as the song blossoms and Bread, Love and Dreams move Out Of The Darkness and Into The Night. The  centrepiece of the first side was Part 2: Zoroaster’s Prophecy, an eleven minute epic that was inspired by religion and philosophy. Several songs are weaved into one by Bread, Love and Dreams to create this lengthy, imaginative and mysterious piece of modern musical folklore. It’s without doubt the album’s highlight. Closing side one is Part 3: Light, a truly  beautiful, heartfelt, romanic and emotive song. Much of the success of the song is because of the way Angie Rew and David McNiven blend combines and creates another of the album’s highlights.

Opening side two is Time’s The Thief, a lovely folk ballad which is driven along by an acoustic guitar. Although Bread, Love and Dreams were often influenced by the Incredible String Band, here there’s a nod to Fairport Convention’s Song No. 5. Another beautiful folk ballad is My Stair-Cupboard, which hints at Sandy Denny’s Fotheringay and Pentangle which starred Danny Thompson who plays double bass on Amaryllis. Then on the wistful and ruminative sounding Brother John the hugely Angie Rew’s heartfelt and soul-baring plays a starring role as she paints pictures with the lyrics. Closing Amaryllis is Circle of Night which is the most traditional sounding folk song on the album. It’s also uplifting and irresistible and closes this oft-overlooked hidden gem of an album on a high.

On Amaryllis, Bread, Love and Dreams and friends fuse elements acid folk, traditional folk and progressive folk on what’s an album of quite beautiful, cerebral, emotive and sometimes romantic music. These tracks were part of a vastly underrated album that when it was released in 1971 deserved to find a much wider audience. 

Sadly, that wasn’t the case. Decca Records’ failure to promote Amaryllis properly and then their failure to press enough copies of the album is an object lesson in how not to release an album. Ironically, Amaryllis was regarded as Bread, Love and Dreams’ strongest and best album and had the potential to transform their careers from also rans to acid rock contenders. Alas, that wasn’t to be for the band who many critics thought were about to follow in the footsteps of the Incredible String Band.

Following Bread, Love and Dreams’  presentation at the Royal Court Theatre in Edinburgh, executives at Decca Records decided to drop the band. The three albums that Bread, Love and Dreams recorded for the label were written down as a tax write off. It was a sad end to a musical adventure that began just three years earlier in 1968 and promised so much.  However, Bread, Love and Dreams kept their finest album until last, and their ambitious and critically acclaimed opus Amaryllis, makes a welcome return thanks to a reisue by Magic Box on vinyl.

Bread, Love and Dreams-Amaryllis-Vinyl.

CULT CLASSIC: VOIGT/465-SLIGHTS UNSPOKEN.

Cult Classic: Voigt/465-Slights Unspoken.

The story of Voigt/465 is a case of what might have been. They were formed in Sydney, Australia in 1976, and spent the next three years trying to make a breakthrough. By May 1979, things were looking up for Voigt/465 and they looked on the verge of a breakthrough. Their single State was being played on radio in London and Sydney. Not long after this, Voigt/465 secured a residency in Sydney, and even embarked upon a short tour of Melbourne. Voigt/465 were playing better than ever before, and had built up a loyal following. Surely, nothing could go wrong? 

Unfortunately it did. What started off as a discussions about the future direction of Voigt/465 resulted in bassist Lindsay O’Meara leaving the band. Given how important a part he was in Voigt/465’s sound, the rest of the band knew that they couldn’t continue without out him. Voigt/465 called time on their career, after being tantalizingly close to making a breakthrough.

Although it looked like had been consigned to musical history, discussions were taking place between the band members to reunite one last time. They wanted to document the life and times of Voigt/465. After much cajoling, the five band members agreed to record what became an album at Axtent Studios, in suburban Kogarah. That album was Slights Unspoken which was released on the Unanimous Weld Enunciations in 1979. Sadly, Slights Unspoken marked the end of the road for Voigt/465.

Things had looked very different, three years earlier in 1976, the year that punk arrived in Australia, and across the country new bands were being formed. Many were short-lived, and never came close to playing live, never mind recording a single. A few, including Voigt/465 went on to make their on the Australian music scene.

Voigt/465 was formed by a group of friends in Sydney in 1976. The original lineup of the band included bassist Lindsay O’Meara, guitarist Rod Pobestek, keyboardist and vocalist Phil Turnbull plus vocalist Rae Bryom. They had been inspired by the music of Can, Faust, Henry Cow, Pere Ubu, Slapp Happy, Syd Barrett, The Stooges and early Roxy Music five friends decided to form a band. These influences would play their part in one of the first wave of post-punk bands in Australia.

The newly formed Voigt/465 set about honing their sound, and over the next few weeks and months, gradually the nascent’s band started to emerge. It a raw, abrasive and genre-melting sound that over the next couple of years, would incorporate elements of art rock, avant-garage, DIY, electronica,  improv,industrial, Krautrock, noise, post-punk and psychedelia. This new sound would gradually find favour with Sydney’s post-punk scene.

By 1978, Voigt/465 were one of the leading light of Sydney’s thriving and vibrant post-punk scene. They had spent the last two years creating their own scene. In the early days when Voigt/465 couldn’t find somewhere to play live, they found makeshift venues. This included a free open air gig at Bigge Park, in Liverpool, a suburb of Western Sydney. Later they graduated to playing pubs and clubs on the local circuit. This was akin to their musical apprenticeship, and allowed the band’s sound to evolve. The next step was to record their debut single.

Unlike many post-punk bands, Voigt/465 hadn’t rushed into recording their debut single. Instead, they waited until the group had matured, and its sound had evolved. By then, Voigt/465 had also matured as songwriters. They had penned State, which they planned to record as their debut single, with A Secret West on the B-Side. Voigt/465 booked a local studio to record their debut single.

This was Axent Studios, which was based in Kogarah, a suburb of Sydney. Joining Voigt/465 was a local musician Ross McGregor, who would co-produce State and A Secret West. State was raw and rocky, but was melodic and showcased a truly talented post punk band. The B-Side, A Secret West, was a much more experimental sounding track, that showed the pop psych side of Voigt/465. These two tracks were recorded during one session, and would showcase the different sides Voigt/465.

When State was pressed, it was as a limited edition of just 547. As a result, copies of State are now incredibly rare, and have changed hands for Aus$325. When State was released, it was on a local label Unanimous Weld Enunciations. Singles were sold locally and at gigs. A few were sent to DJs, and would later spread the word about Voigt/465.

Buoyed by having released their debut single State, Voigt/465 were full of energy and enthusiasm. They played several gigs and in August 1978, managed to convince the owners of French’s Wine Bar to allow them to play live. For the show, Voigt/465 took along a slide projector, which would show a lysergic light show. This was all very Pink Floyd circa 1967, and something that Voigt/465 thought would appeal to the patrons.

As Voigt/465 took to the stage the venue was just about full. When started to play, it looked like they had won over the audience. Then came the lysergic light show, which proved to be their undoing. Suddenly, the audience turned on Voigt/465 and someone through a glass tankard at the band. Ross Turnbull remembers the shouts of: “you bunch of hippies.” For a group with impeccable post punk credentials that one hurt. Especially when Voigt/465 realised that the hecklers were fans of Voigt/465. The only small crumb of comfort was that the band got paid. However, the fallout continued the next day.

To make matters worse, the events at French’s Wine Bar resulted in drummer Bruce Saddler leaving Voigt/465 the next day. What should’ve been a successful show had cost the band their second drummer. Now the search began for a replacement.

Eventually, Voigt/465 settled on Mark Boswell, who was chosen as Bruce Stadler’s replacement. He soon had settled into life as Voigt/465’s drummer, and was ready to make his debut.

Mark Boswell made his Voigt/465 debut at Garibaldi’s, an Italian community centre in East Sydney that had seen better days. That didn’t matter to Voigt/465, who were one of the bands supporting The Thought Criminals. When Voigt/465 started to play, they soon, had won over the audience. So much so, by the time that Voigt/465 left the stage, it was a to a standing ovation. That night, Voigt/465’s music was discovered by a whole new audience.

That came as no surprise. After the events at French’s Wine Bar, Voigt/465 went in search of like-minded people. Suddenly, they were preaching to the converted and playing in front of audiences who were part of Sydney’s post-punk scene. This made a huge difference, and soon, Voigt/465’s star in the ascendancy.

Suddenly, things started to fall into place for Voigt/465. The group moved into a new rehearsal room in October 1978 in Darlinghurst. At last, they could practise anytime they wanted. This was very different to the two previous years, where they were constantly hunting for places to practice and work on new songs. Not any more, now that Voigt/465 had their own practise area. They also hoped to interest a record company in their music.

Although there were a number of record companies in Sydney, Voigt/465’s bassist Lindsay O’Meara was about to embark upon a journey overseas, where he hoped to interest record companies in their single State b/w A Secret West. The five members of Voigt/465 had high hopes for the single, and hoped that when Lindsay O’Meara returned, it would be with several offers of recording deals.

Before Lindsay O’Meara headed off on his journey, Voigt/465 decided to play one more gig. Just like many of gigs that Voigt/465 had played, it would be financed by the band. The venue they choses wasn’t in one of Sydney’s many pubs or clubs. Instead, in the spirit of ’76, it was at the Western Distributor construction site in Pyrmont. 

This was somewhere that was off-limits for the public. That was no surprise, given huge electricity pylons crisscrossed the makeshift venue. However, someone managed to secure entry into the site, and the band started setting up their equipment. Soon, Voigt/465 were ready to play. That was when things started to go awry.

As the band took to makeshift stage, most of the band weren’t feeling well. They had caught a flu bug from Ross Turnbull, but didn’t want to disappoint their fans by cancelling. The show had to go on. To make matters worse, the band were experiencing problems with their PA. After a lengthy delay, eventually, Voigt/465 took to the makeshift stage, and when they looked down, the crowd numbered no more than fifteen, including a couple of curious kids. Not long after Voigt/465 started to play, site security turned up the gig was over before it began. However, Voigt/465 managed to squeeze in I Wanna Be Your Dog as an encore. For Voigt/465 it had been a night to forger. Especially when they realised that they had lost Aus$64.

While the Pyrmont gig was a disappointment, soon, Lindsay O’Meara returned from his travels, and had some good news. Although he hadn’t received any offers of recording contracts, it turned out that John Peel had been playing State on BBC Radio one show, and the song was being on the Australian radio station 2JJ. Buoyed by this news Voigt/465 decided to concentrate their efforts, and see if they could make a breakthrough. It certainly seemed tantalizingly close.

Over the next month, things started to fall into place for Voigt/465. They secured a residency at the Sussex Hotel in May 1979, and proved a popular draw. Those who paid the Aus$1 entry fee, saw Voigt/465 at the peak of their powers. The band had never played as well. It was as if everything had been leading to this. Later, in May 1979, Voigt/465 embarked upon a short, but successful tour of Melbourne. Just like their performances at the Sussex Hotel, the gigs they played in Melbourne are regarded as some of the band’s finest performances. It seemed that Voigt/465 were on the verge of a breakthrough.

Sadly, that wasn’t the case. After having enjoyed a hugely successful time during May 1979, Voigt/465 started discussing their future musical direction. There had already been disagreements about the band’s future direction. Some of Voigt/465 wanted to play rock, while others in the band wanted to focus solely on improv. This was something that Voigt/465 had already explored and incorporated as part of their genre-melting sound. However, what had started off as a discussions about the future direction of Voigt/465 resulted in bassist Lindsay O’Meara leaving the band. 

Given how important a part Lindsay O’Meara played in Voigt/465’s sound, the rest of the band knew that they couldn’t continue without out him. Voigt/465 called time on their career, despite being tantalizingly close to making a breakthrough.

After making the decision to split-up, the band started to regret that they had never documented the life and times of Voigt/465. Now it was too late. Or was it? 

Eventually, the five members of Voigt/465 started to talk about reuniting for the sole purpose of documenting their musical lives together. It took much cajoling and convincing, but the members of Voigt/465 agreed to put their differences to once side to record an album together.

To record the album, Voigt/465 returned to Axtent Studios, in suburban Kogarah. That was where the session for the album Slights Unspoken was recorded. The album was recorded quickly, with Voigt/465 drawing inspiration from a variety of bands, whilst fusing elements of art rock, avant-rock, electronica, improv, industrial, Krautrock, noise, post-punk, psychedelia and punk. Over the course of the session, an emboldened Voigt/465 strut their way through the ten songs that would eventually become Slights Unspoken. 

Voigt/465 play with power and  intensity, and sometimes with freedom and fluidity. Other times, their playing is inventive and innovative as they throw curveballs and take the music is a very different direction. Sometimes, they experiment and  improvise as they take the listener on a voyage of discovery. For what was their swan-song, up the ante and play as if their very lives depended upon it during that final session at Axtent Studios, where they documented three years of making music. 

They play with power and intensity on the album opener Voices A Drama, where post punk meets art rock in this anthem-in-waiting. This gives way to the genre-melting Red Lock On See Steal, which features Voigt/465  at their most inventive and innovative, as they seamlessly fuse elements of Krautrock, industrial, electronica and psychedelia. In doing so, they reveal the other side of Voigt/465. A Welcome Mystery is reminiscent of Voices A Drama, with art rock and post-punk playing their part in another anthemic track. Imprint is a jittery fusion of post punk and punk, that brings memories of ’76. Many Risk bursts into life, and finds the two sides of Voigt/465 becoming one. It’s not just rocky, melodic, memorable and mesmeric, but showcases the much more experimental side of Voigt/465. Elements of Krautrock, industrial, art-rock and post-punk combined and close side one.

Voigt/465 play with power, intensity and inventiveness on Is New Is, as they use punk and post punk as the building blocks for the track. To this they head briefly in the direction of improv, before lysergic washes of Hendrix-inspired feedback transform the track. Briefly, 4 Hours meanders, before this choppy and punchy post punk gradually begins to reveal it secrets. It’s one of the highlights of the album. At just a minute long, P is the musical equivalent of an amuse-bouche. P’s hypnotic and strangely melodic sound is sure to tantalize. F1 finds Voigt/465 experiment and improvise as they take the listener on a voyage of discovery during this seven minute epic. Closing the album was Winchsoul, where the two sides of Voigt/465 unite. Elements of improv and rock are combined with post punk as Voigt/465 close Slights Unspoken on a high.

These ten songs that were recorded at Axtent Studios would  eventually become Slights Unspoken which was Voigt/465’s debut album. Slights Unspoken was released in September 1979, and was released by Unanimous Weld Enunciations. Two different pressings of the album were released. The first features a white picture sleeve cover, while the second version has an orange coloured album cover with different artwork. Nowadays, both are incredibly rare and highly collectible. Both versions of Slights Unspoken are an irresistible reminder of Voigt/465 and their genre-melting sound, and are a reminder of one of the greatest bands to emerge out of Sydney’s post-punk scene.

Despite that, Voigt/465 went their separate ways after the release of Slights Unspoken. There were no last-gasp attempts to rescue the group. By then, the damage had been done, and some members of Voigt/465 had moved on. It was the end of era, for the five members of Voigt/465, who if things had been different, could’ve gone on to greater things. Alas, it wasn’t to be.

Instead, Voigt/465’s musical legacy was  Slights Unspoken, which features a band at the peak of their powers. It features Voigt/465 the day they reunited to record what wasn’t just their debut album, but was also their swan-song, Slights Unspoken, a cult classic that documents their place in Sydney’s musical history.

Cult Classic: Voigt/465-Slights Unspoken.

 

 

 

 

CULT CLASSIC: RUPTURE-ISRAEL SUITE/DOMINANTE EN BLEU.

Cult Classic: Rupture-Israel Suite/Dominante En Bleu.

Over the last fifty years, bands and artists have penned ambitious concept albums about all manner of subjects. No subject matter it seems is off-limits when it comes to the concept album. There’s been concept albums about bureaucracy and censorship, death and dreams, evolution and revolution, heaven and hell, hurt and heartbreak, love and loss, power and politics and even wizards and warlocks. However, one of the most ambitious and powerful concept albums ever written and recorded was Rupture’s 1973 album Israel Suite/Dominante En Bleu. 

It was a very different to most concept albums, and set out to document the history of the Israel. Israel Suite/Dominante En Bleu was released as a private press, in 1973. Very few copies of the album were released, which nowadays, is a spiritual jazz classic. However, it’s also one of the rarest European jazz records of the past fifty years. Copies hardly ever come up for sale, and when they do, they’re beyond the budget of most record buyers. The story behind Israel Suite/Dominante En Bleu began in 1973.

That was when the French songwriter Boris Bergman decided to write and record a concept album that documented the history of Israel. This was very different to previous projects that Boris Bergman had been involved with.

By 1973, Boris Bergman was an experienced and well known songwriter. He was also a prolific songwriter, who from 1967 onwards, had been writing songs for some of the biggest names in French music. However, as the seventies dawned, Boris Bergman  was penning songs for Aphrodite’s Child, Nana Mouskouri, Sophia Loren, Demis Roussos, the New Seekers, Charles Aznavour, Nicoletta and Patrick Juvet. Already, Boris Bergman had written well over 200 songs. They had been recorded by an eclectic selection of artists. However, these songs were very different to the concept album twenty-eight year old Boris Bergman was about to write and record. 

Having made the decision to write and record a concept album based around the history of Israel, Boris Bergman decided to approach one of France’s top musicians, drummer, percussionist  and singer Sylvain Krief.

Just like Boris Bergman, Sylvain Krief already had a wealth of musical experience. He had played alongside many artists, including Michel Fugain, Charles Aznavour, Clark Terry and Bud Powell. Now Sylvain Krief was about to join Boris Bergman in his new project.

Having secured the services of Sylvain Krief, who would play drums, percussion and add vocals, soon, many other top musicians were joining the band that eventually, became Rapture. This included J.-F. Jenny-Clark who played contrabass, and previously, had worked with Don Cherry, Steve Lacy and Karlheinz Stockhausen. The next recruit was Total Issue guitarist Georges Locatelli, who played acoustic, electric and 12-string guitar. Multi-instrumentalist and future soundtrack composer Jean-Pierre Mas joined Rupture, and played electric piano, guitar, organ, percussion, piano and added vocals. Jean-Louis Chautemps was drafted in to play soprano saxophone on Israel Suite and flute on Entre Ses Cils. He became part of what was essentially a European jazz supergroup. They were joined by Le Big Bazar choir, and vocalists Michel Fugain and Nicole Croisille. They would spend the next three months recording Israel Suite/Dominante En Bleu at Studio Davout, in Paris.

That was where Rupture recorded the six compositions that became Israel Suite/Dominante En Bleu. They were arranged by Sylvain Krief and Jean-Pierre Mas. This included Mes Histoires Bleues, Voyage Sous La Mer and Autrefois which were written by Jean-Pierre Kernoa and Jean-Pierre Mas. Jean-Pierre Kernoa wrote Alice Aux Miroirs and Entre Ses Cils with Sylvain Krief. He composed the music to Israel Suite while Boris Bergman wrote the lyrics. Israel Suite would feature on side one of Israel Suite/Dominante En Bleu when the album was released in 1973.

Once Israel Suite/Dominante En Bleu was completed, it was decided to release the album as a private pressing. This Rupture were able to do with the help of the Futura label. Only a small number of albums were pressed, and when Israel Suite/Dominante En Bleu was released, this genre-melting album has only heard by a small number of people. That was great shame, given then quality of music on Israel Suite/Dominante En Bleu.

Israel Suite opens Israel Suite/Dominante En Bleu and took up the entire first side of the original album. There’s an element of drama, as sounds emerge from the distance. Gradually, the grow in power, as the rhythm section combine with a wah-wah guitar. Suddenly, drum pounds and dialogue enters ominously. It’s akin to a newsflash, which adds to the drama. Meanwhile, the vortex  of sound is omnipresent until a piano enters. It’s played quickly and accompanies the dialogue. The tempo slows and quickens, highlighting and nuancing the dialogue subtly. By then, Rupture hove switched between and combined jazz, funk, rock and avant-garde. Soon, though, it’s all change.

When the choir enter, they combine pop and soul, as the all-star jazz group provide a flowing accompaniment. That’s until they reprise an earlier part of the suite, before heading in a direction marked jazz. The piano plays a leading role, while the contrabass joins with the drums in powering the hopeful and uplifting arrangement along. It breezes along, picking up speed before dialogue interjects, and an impassioned, wailing soprano saxophone plays a leading role as the track heads in the direction of fusion. Seamlessly, Rupture cope with the changes, before dialogue interjects adding another newsflash.

After the dialogue drops out,  much more understated and subdued jazz track emerges, while the soprano saxophone heads towards free jazz. It’s as if it’s reacting to the news and is pained and troubled by it. Later, the choir return and sing tenderly, before a gospel influence emerges. So does an impassioned solo, as the piano and rhythm section combine and drive the arrangement along. When the vocal drops out, Rupture enjoy another chance to showcase their skills and versatility as the tempo rises. The when it drops all that remains is a poignant piano, which accompanies dialogue. Soon, the track rebuilds with soulful vocals joining the dreamy arrangement as this eighteen minute Magnus Opus heads towards its conclusion.

Mes Histoires Bleues  bursts joyously into life, with the rhythm section, guitar and piano powering the jazzy arrangement along. They accompany Jean-Pierre Mas’  heartfelt and emotive vocal, while he adds a breathtaking, fleet fingered piano solo. It plays a starring role. Meanwhile, the rhythm section anchor the arrangement, and with the piano, add pregnant pauses, which add an element of drama. Soon, Rupture rebuild, and continue to combine jazz with elements of funk and fusion over two memorable and melodic minutes.

The tempo drops on Voyage Sous La Mer  which has a slow, spacious arrangement. Less is more, with just the contrabass and guitar accompanying an ethereal,  cooing backing vocal. This signals the arrival of, Jean-Pierre Mas’ tender, but wistful vocal. By then, an electric piano has been added, and is soon, joined by and replaced by a piano. It’s played quickly and confidently, and replaces the vocal. Still, though, the rest of Rupture play slowly adding a dreamy, ruminative backdrop. When the rueful vocal returns, the piano fills in the gaps it leaves, and in the process,proves the perfect foil and accompaniment during this beautiful, melancholy ballad.

As Alice Aux Miroirs unfolds, a bass plays and is joined by keyboards which are panned quickly and ghostly harmonies. They’re replaced by Sylvain Krief’s impassioned vocal. Meanwhile, the rhythm section and electric piano combine with harmonies as the arrangement builds. Soon, it changes and heads in the direction of fusion and rock. This allows Rupture to stretch their legs, and jam. Guitarist Georges Locatelli and keyboardist Jean-Pierre Mas play starring roles, with drummer also enjoying his moment in the sun as Rupture showcase their skills and versatility.

A shimmering electric piano opens Autrefois. It’s played slowly, before the baton passes to the drums. They’re joined by Jean-Pierre Mas’ vocal, as he reminisces about “the old days,” while the Choir add soulful harmonies. They prove to be the perfect  accompaniment to the vocal, as the vocal and harmonies take centre-stage. Later, when they drop out, Rupture jam, with the electric piano, bass and guitar enjoying their moment in the sun. Then when Jean-Pierre Mas and the Choir return, the rest of Rupture play a supporting role. That’s apart from the electric piano and bass which augment the impassioned vocal and soulful harmonies. They play their part in the sound and success of this beautiful, soulful ballad about “the old days.”

Closing Israel Suite/Dominante En Bleu is Entre Ses Cils, which is another ballad. Just a piano plays as the rhythm section enter and a flute flutters above the arrangement. They accompany Sylvain Krief’s slow, emotive vocal. Meanwhile, the piano is at the front of the mix, while the bass meanders and the subtle flute adds a wistful sound. Later, as the tempo rises, the vocal drops out and the drums play a more important role. Still, though, the piano plays a leading role, while the flute augments it. That’s the case when Sylvain’s impassioned vocal returns, before the song reaches a dramatic and poignant crescendo, and in the process, closes one of the rarest concept albums ever recorded.

Very few copies of Israel Suite/Dominante En Bleu were pressed when the album was released. As a result, for many years, Israel Suite/Dominante En Bleu remained one of music’s best kept secrets. Only a few connoisseurs of European jazz were aware of this genre-melting album’s existence.

Israel Suite/Dominante En Bleu which featured Rupture switching between and fusing jazz, funk, fusion, free jazz, pop, psychedelia and rock. There’s even elements of avant-garde, gospel, progressive and soul on Israel Suite/Dominante En Bleu. It features Rupture, who were essentially a French jazz supergroup. They put their considerable talents to good use on Israel Suite/Dominante En Bleu, which for far too long, was one of was one of music’s best kept secrets. Many jazz aficionados were even aware of the album’s existence. However, eventually, record buyers became aware of Israel Suite/Dominante En Bleu.

Just like many rare albums, it was like a gold rush as record buyers went in search of a copy of Israel Suite/Dominante En Bleu. Despite searching record shops, dusty warehouses, second hand shops and thrift stores, very few crate diggers discovered that elusive copy of Israel Suite/Dominante En Bleu. Those that had a copy weren’t for selling their copy. That was no surprise, given the quality of the album.

With each passing year, more record buyers discovered the delights of Rupture’s one and only album, Israel Suite/Dominante En Bleu. By then, the album was the Holy Grail for many record collectors. They couldn’t pass a record store or junk shop without searching the racks of records. It was all in vain, and for the majority of people searching for a copy of Israel Suite/Dominante En Bleu it’s unlikely that they’ll find what’s become their own personal Holy Grail.

Israel Suite/Dominante En Bleu was a landmark album that finds Rupture documenting the history of Israel,  and is, without doubt, one of the most ambitious and powerful concept albums ever written and recorded. One listen to Rupture’s cult classic Israel Suite/Dominante En Bleu and that will become apparent.

Cult Classic: Rupture-Israel Suite/Dominante En Bleu.

VICTOR CAVINI-JAPAN.

Victor Cavini-Japan.

Label: Be With Records.

In the the history of German library music, Selected Sound is regarded as an institution by collectors and connoisseurs and one of its finest releases was Japan, which was released by Victor Cavini in 1983. 

Thirty-seven years, this rarity is a cult classic that’s on the wants list of many collectors. Sadly, this instantly recognisable album of koto funk, which features  the giant Buddha of Kamakura on the front cover, never turns up. Crate diggers and collectors continue their search their usual haunts, but there’s no sign of copies of Japan in backstreet record shops, thrift stores and online auctions. It’s an elusive album. That is no longer the case.

Recently, Be With Records reissued  Japan and at last, Victor Cavini’s cult classic is available once again. Record collectors, connoisseurs of library music and sample hungry producer will give thanks for this reissue. Many of them have never heard the album, and only know it by reputation. Now they can add it to their collection at a lot less than the cost of an original copy.

Anyone who is interested in German library music will know that Victor Cavini was the pseudonym composer and  musician Gerhard Trede used when he recorded albums of library music. He was prolific composer and multi-instrumentalist who could play over fifty instruments,  and showcases his versatility by playing a variety of traditional Japanese wind and string instruments on the fourteen tracks on Japan. Gerhard Trede didn’t restrict himself to just one genre of music, and was a versatile musician who had the talent to seamlessly switch between different types of music. This included music from all around the world, including Japan.

When he recorded Japan, Gerhard Trede donned his Victor Cavini alias and set about recording an album of traditional Japanese folk music, which he reinterpreted and sometimes gave a twist.  Japan was essentially how Victor Cavini, a  Western musician interpreted and reinvented  Japanese folk music, occasionally taking  in a new and unexpected direction. 

When Japan was released in 1983, the fourteen Pictures of Japan are variously airy and spacious, bewitching and mesmeric and sometimes, intense, urgent and unrelenting. However, always, the music on Japan captivates and is breathtakingly beautiful. Especially during the first twelve Pictures Of Japan, where mostly,  the koto and flute play leading roles and combine with a myriad of percussion and strings. Together, they create airy and uncluttered arrangements where space is left for the track to breathe. Quite different is Pictures of Japan XII which only features drums.

Having thrown  his first curveball Victor Cavini, nothing prepares the listener for the understated insalubrious sleazy sounding Pictures of Japan XIII. In some ways, this is just a musical aperitif as the entire band join forces and kick loose on the genre-melting Pictures of Japan XIV where traditional Japanese instruments are combined with elements of funk and psychedelia as Victor Cavini brings the album to an impressive close. Its a case of saving the best until last on Japan.

Japan was  released in 1983, which was during a golden era for library music. It began in the late-sixties and continued right into the eighties. During this period, a number of classic library records were released, including two in 1973. They  were Rino de Filippi’s Oriente Oggi and Giancarlo Barigozzi’s Oriente in 1973. Both albums  have influenced Victor Cavini when he made his genre classic Japan. These three albums are highly prized amongst collectors and connoisseurs of library music.

That’s no surprise as Japan is a captivating and enchanting album that’s truly timeless, and showcases the considerable talents of composer and multi-instrumentalist Victor Cavini at peak of his creative powers.

Victor Cavini-Japan.

NANCY PRIDDY-YOU’VE COME THIS WAY BEFORE-VINYL. 

Nancy Priddy-You’ve Come This Way Before-Vinyl.

Label: Sundazed. 

Nowadays, many people remember Nancy Priddy as an actress who appeared in Bewitched, The Waltons and Matlock and later, alongside her daughter Christina Applegate in the television series Married…With Children and the film The Sweetest Thing. However, other people remember Nancy Priddy as a singer-songwriter who in 1968, released her debut album You’ve Come This Way Before. It’s a captivating and enchanting album of psychedelic baroque-folk that nowadays, is regarded as a cult classic and was recently reissued by the Sundazed label.

Nancy Lee Priddy was born to Katherine Iona Driggs and Carl Priddy on January the ’22nd’ 1941, in South Bend, Indiana. Growing up, music played an important in her life, and after graduating from high school Nancy Priddy studied liberal arts at Oberlin College, and eventually graduated from the Northwestern School of Drama. 

After graduating, Nancy Priddy decided to embark upon a career in the theatre. Initially, she worked in cabaret but soon decided to change direction.

In 1964, Nancy Priddy headed to Greenwich Village where she joined the folk group The Bitter End Singers. She joined Bob Hider, Lefty Baker, Norris O’Neill, Tina Bohlmann and Vilma Vaccaro in The Bitter End Singers who later in 1964, were signed by Mercury.

Having signed to Mercury, The Bitter End Singers began work on their debut album. Discover The Bitter End Singers was released later in 1964.  The followup Through Our Eyes was released by in 1965. However, following the release of their sophomore album  Nancy Priddy decided to leave The Bitter End Singers and resume her acting career.

Having left New York, Nancy Priddy moved to Chicago, where she resumed her acting career and began writing her own songs. She entered the studio and recorded demos of some of these songs. It seemed Nancy Priddy was still interested in a musical career, and in 1967, she left the Windy City and returned to New York.

When Nancy Priddy  returned to the Big Apple, Leonard Cohen was about to record his debut album and was looking for a backing vocalist. Nancy Priddy fitted the bill and contributed backing vocals on the classic album Songs Of Leonard Cohen. It was released later in 1967 and launched the career of Leonard Cohen. 

Later in 1967, Nancy Priddy met Phil Ramone, who was an up-and-coming producer. At the end of the year, the pair began working on what became Nancy Priddy’s debut album You’ve Come This Way Before.

It featured ten tracks which Nancy Priddy penned with various songwriting partners. This included And Who Will You Be Then, You’ve Come This Way Before and Christina’s World with Everett Gordon. Bobby Whiteside and Nancy Priddy penned Ebony Glass, while she wrote Mystic Lady and Epitaph with John Simon. The other four songs We Could Have It All, My Friend Frank, O Little Child and On The Other Side Of The River were written by Nancy Priddy and Manny Albam. These tracks were recorded at A & R Studios, in New York.

Phil Ramone took charge of production, and three arrangers worked on the album. This included Everett Gordon who arranged Christina’s World and John Simon arranged Mystic Lady, We Could Have It All and Epitaph. Manny Albam arranged the rest of the tracks on You’ve Come This Way Before which featured some top musicians including drummer Bernard “Pretty” Purdie. When it was completed, it was released by the Los Angeles based Dot Records in late 1968.

When You’ve Come This Way Before was released, Dot Records did little to promote Nancy Priddy. After It was no surprise when Nancy Priddy’s debut album When You’ve Come This Way Before disappeared without trace. 

That was a great shame as When You’ve Come This Way Before is a hidden gem of an album that has been  rediscovered by critics and discerning record buyers. It’s a fusion of disparate musical genres, ranging from baroque-folk to folk and folk-rock to pop, pop-soul and psychedelia to underground music that sounded unlike anything else that was released in 1968.

Although Nancy Priddy had been a member of The Bitter End Singers and recorded with Leonard Cohen, with the help of producer Phil Ramone she seemed to have no preconceived ideas about an album should be recorded. 

There’s an innocence and unworldly sound Nancy Priddy’s vocal as she delivers some of the lyrics on Ebony Glass. Sometimes, Nancy Priddy delivers lyrics that are lysergic and trippy and sometimes have a surreal quality. It’s like a musical equivalent of Alice In Wonderland. Other times, the lyrics are akin to a stream of consciousness and sometimes, the lyrics have a dream like quality. However, some songs on When You’ve Come This Way Before are full of symbolism. It’s a quite beautiful, intricate album where layers of music are combined by Nancy Priddy and her band.

They try new things and push musical boundaries to their limits, and sometimes beyond. To do this effects units were deployed including echo and ring modulators which add to the instruments and vocals on a number of tracks and add to the psychedelic sound on You’ve Come This Way Before. 

Meanwhile, the arrangements are quite different from those on other albums released in 1968. Curveballs are thrown as the mood and time signatures change keeping the listener on their toes. It’s a case of expect the unexpected on an album that features everything from the lushest of strings to trumpets that sound as if they belong on a Bacharach and David session.  It’s as if You’ve Come This Way Before is trying to appeal to fans of pop and psychedelia and everything in between. And no wonder.

You’ve Come This Way Before is a beautiful, captivating and enchanting album and will win the listener over after just one listen. Soon, it’ll become a firm favourite as the listeners try to decipher the lyrics on this hidden gem of an album. Sadly, it failed to find an audience upon its release in 1968, but fifty-two years later, and Nancy Priddy’s debut album You’ve Come This Way Before is regarded as a cult classic and belatedly, is starting to find the wider audience that it so richly deserves.

Nancy Priddy-You’ve Come This Way Before-Vinyl.