Emerson, Lake and Palmer-Trilogy-Deluxe Edition.

For fans of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, 2016 was a good year. Much of their back-catalogue was remastered and reissued by BMG as CD sets. This included Trilogy, where Emerson, Lake and Palmer were determined to push musical boundaries. It was a progressive rock, but with a twist. 

An example of this was the inclusion of Abaddon’s Bolero on Trilogy. Rather than the usual 3/4 rhythm a Bolero would have, it was turned into a march by using a 4/4 rhythm. Emerson, Lake and Palmer pioneered the beating heart sound on Trilogy. Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull and Queen would all go on to use it. However, Carl Palmer pioneered this on Endless Enigma Part One. Once again, Emerson, Lake and Palmer were demonstrating that they were one of the most innovative progressive rock bands. Their efforts and innovativeness were richly rewarded.

On its release in July 1972, Trilogy reached number two in the US. As usual, Emerson, Lake and Palmer enjoyed more success in the US. Trilogy reached number five in the US Billboard 200 and was certified gold. In the space of just two years Emerson, Lake and Palmer were one of the most successful progressive rock bands, and had just released a complex, innovative, genre-melting album. It found Emerson, Lake and Palmer embracing the latest technology in what seemed like their quest for musical perfection, on  what was their most ambitious album, Trilogy.


Eric Burdon and The Animals-Every One Of Us.

1968 was without doubt, the busiest year of Eric Burdon and The Animals’ career. They released a trio of albums. The second album in the trio was Every One Of Us, which was reissued by BGO Records during 2016. It’s a welcome reissue, because Every One Of Us, was never released in Britain. 

When Every One Of Us was released in August 1968, this accomplished album of psychedelic blues stalled at just 152 in the US Billboard 200. This was a huge disappointment, considering the quality of the music and musicianship. The critics had thought that Every One Of Us would fare much better.

Critics hailed Every One Of Us as one Eric Burdon and The Animals finest albums since the release of Eric Is Here in March 1967. Even when Love Is was released in December 1968 it failed to match the quality of Every One Of Us. Love Is proved to be Eric Burdon and The Animals’ swan-song, and the third of three albums the band released during 1968. However, their finest moment of 1968 was Every One of Us. It’s an oft-overlooked, highly accomplished and vastly underrated album of psychedelic blues from Eric Burdon and The Animals, which was one of their finest moments.


Firefall-Firefall, Luna Sea and Elan.

After spending nearly two years trying to make a breakthrough, Firefall caught the attention of Atlantic Records. They signed Firefall, who released three albums for Atlantic Records, Firefall, Luna Sea and Elan. These three albums sold 1.5 million units in America. This was the result of three years of constantly touring and recording. However, it had caught up on the band. Firefall were almost burnt out. At least they had a nice nest egg awaiting them.

Alas, that proved not to be the case. Firefall’s finances weren’t in the best of health. That wasn’t surprising. They had rerecorded two of their three albums, and embraced the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle. That prove expensive, and something that Firefall would regret. Especially as Firefall never reached the same heights as their first three albums.

Firefall, Luna Sea and Elan which were reissued by BGO Records as a double album, where the most successful albums of Firefall’s career.They were a fusion of AOR folk rock, country and rock. This proved a popular combination, and sold 1.5 million copies. Sadly, the constant touring  and recording took their toll on Firefall. So did the lifestyle problems and problems with their new management company. After three critically acclaimed albums, Firefall’s career went into decline and never fully recovered.Never again, did Firefall close to rescaling the heights of Firefall, Luna Sea and Elan, which feature Firefall at their very best, when anything seemed possible for the Colorado-based band.


Fleetwood Mac-Mirage (Deluxe Edition).

On 18th June 1982, Fleetwood Mac released their thirteenth studio album Mirage. It was very different from its predecessor Tusk, which showcased a more experimental sound. Mirage saw Fleetwood Mac head in the direction of a radio friendly, AOR sound. 

Mostly, this proved popular amongst critics. Some however weren’t convinced and there were a few dissenting voice. Despite this, when Mirage was released it sold over three million units and outsold Tusk. Mirage also yielded five  singles, including Hold Me, Gypsy, Love In Store, Oh Diane and Can’t Go Back. The success of Fleetwood Mac continued apace.

Given the success of Mirage, it was no surprise that the album was released by Rhino as a double album during 2016. The second disc includes thirteen live tracks, B-sides, outtakes and songs that didn’t make it onto Mirage. For fans of Fleetwood Mac, this is the perfect upgrade to their original copies of Mirage. It finds Fleetwood Mac return to the mainstream, after their dalliance with experimental the sound of Tusk.


Free-Fire and Water.

On 26th June 1970, Free released their third album Fire and Water. Critical acclaim accompanied an album that was a mixture of blues rock, classic rock and hard rock. This was Free’s most cohesive album. That was the case from the opening bars of Fire and Water to the closing notes of All Right Now. A number of tracks on Fire and Water stood out. This included the rocky album opener Fire And Water and the ballads Oh I Wept, Heavy Load and Don’t Say You Love Me. However, the song that had hit written large all over it, was the album closer All Right Now. That proved to be the case.

When Fire and Water was released on 26th June 1970, the album reached number two in the UK and seventeen on the US Billboard 200. When All Right Now was released as a single, it reached number two in the UK and four on the US Billboard 100. This resulted in Free being asked to appear on the final day  the Isle of Wight Festival.

On Sunday 30th June, 600,000 people watched as Free opened their nine song set. It featured a trio of songs from Fire and Water. This included Mr. Big, Fire and Water and All Right Now. By the end of the set,  Free, were well on their way to becoming one of the biggest in the world. Fire and Water and All Right Now had transformed Free’s career.


Free-Tons Of Sobs.

When Free recorded their debut albumTons Of Sobs, they were still teenagers. However, they played like seasoned veterans on Tons Of Sobs which was reissued by Island Records. They paired Free with producer Guy Stevens. and allocated a budget of just £800 to produce Tons Of Sobs

With such a limited budget, Guy Stevens decided to take a minimalist approach to recording Tons Of Sobs. This he hoped, would allow him to replicate how Free sounded live. Their sets showcased the blues rock sound that was then popular in late-1968. Guy Stevens succeeded in replicated Free’s live sound. Tons Of Sobs was featured a raw and raucous blues rock sound. However, not everyone was impressed by Tons Of Sobs.

While most critics were won over by the latest British blues rock band, some critics weren’t convinced. Neither were record buyers. When Tons Of Sobs was released, it crept into the lower reaches of the US Billboard 200 in March 1969. Most music fans missed out on Free’s debut album, Tons Of Sobs.  It documents what Free sounded like as they began their  musical journey. Eventually, Free would become one of the great British rock groups of the early seventies. Tons Of Sobs is taste of what was to come from Free.


Gandalf-Magic Theatre.

Buoyed by the success of To Another Horizon, Gandalf began work on his fourth album, Magic Theatre. Just like To Another Horizon, this was another concept album that was inspired by Hermann Hesse’s 1927 novel Steppenwolf. It inspired Magic Theatre, where Gandalf’s music head further in the direction of progressive rock and showcased a symphonic rock sound.

Critics hailed the Magic Theatre a musical triumph. It was an other ambitious album where Gandalf brought Steppenwolf to life. During Magic Theatre, the chameleon-like Gandalf continued to reinvent his music. That had been the case throughout his career. Magic Theatre was no different. It was as if Gandalf was scared that if he stood still musically, his music would cease to be relevant. There was no chance of that happening. He was musical pioneer, who combined a disparate selection of musical genres, instruments and influences. Gandalf also drew inspiration from many sources, including his travels and literature. Both played their part the sound and success of Magic Theatre.

Upon the release of Magic Theatre, the Gandalf success story continued apace. The album sold well, and found an audience not just in Austria, Italy and Germany, but across Europe and into Britain. This  success continued, as Gandalf released over thirty albums. However, many music fans regard Gandalf’s early albums as some of his best. This includes Magic Theatre, which was reissued by Esoteric Recordings. It’s a reminder of  Gandalf, a music pioneer and “painter of musical landscapes.”


Gandalf-To Another Horizon.

Nowadays, Gandalf is regarded as one of Austria’s most accomplished, innovative and successful musicians. He’s a talented multi-instrumentalist, who is a one of Austria’s most prolific artists. He has released over thirty albums between 1981 and 2016. That’s despite not releasing his debut album Journey To Another Land until 1980, when he was twenty-nine. Three years later, Gandalf released his third album To Another Horizon, which was a cerebral concept album which was reissued by Esoteric Recordings.

By then, Gandalf was a successful musician, with his sophomore album Visions transforming his fortunes. This success continued when Gandalf released To Another Horizon. Gandalf’s music headed in the direction of progressive rock and space rock . This was a stylistic departure for Gandalf. However, there were still  elements of ambient, avant-garde, classical, eighties-electronica,  experimental and folk  on To Another Horizon. This mixture of the old and new proved successful.

When To Another Horizon was released, it was to critical acclaim. It was heralded as Gandalf’s most ambitious and progressive album. Record buyers agreed and the rise and rise of Gandalf continued. That was no surprise. The music on To Another Horizon. veers between understated, thoughtful and pastoral to dramatic and cinematic to futuristic and progressive. To Another Horizon is a truly captivating concept album that straddled various themes and genres. Its more progressive sound introduced Gandalf’s music to a much wider audience and was his most successful album of a three album career.


Gary Bartz-Ju Ju Man and 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 accompanied  some of the giants of jazz. In 1976, he released his third solo album Ju Ju Man  and Love Song in 1978. They were reissued on one CD by Fresh Sounds Records. They’re a reminder of a multitalented reedman.

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, Gary Bartz plays with power, passion inventiveness and control. Time after time, he came into his own. This was the case on Music Is My Sanctuary, and its followup, Love Song. 

Backed by a tight, talented and versatile band, Gary Bartz showcases his versatility on Love Song. The music is funky, jazzy, soulful and dance-floor friendly. It should’ve been a commercial success. Alas, it wasn’t to be, and Love Song remained one of the hidden gems in Gary Bartz’s back-catalogue. Nowadays, Gary Bartz’s music has found a wider audience. However, for those yet to discover Gary Bartz’s music, a good starting place are  Ju Ju Man and Love Song.  Both feature Gary Bartz’s at the peak of his musical powers. 


Geoff Muldaur-Is Having A Good Time and Motion.

In 1975, Geoff Muldaur released his much anticipated sophomore album, Is Having A Wonderful Time on the Reprise Records imprint. It was an eclectic album with widespread commercial appeal. So was the second album Geoff released for Reprise Records. Sadly, it was the last album Geoff Muldaur would release on Reprise Records.

Neither Is Having A Good Time nor Motion were a commercial success. That is despite showcasing a talented and versatile singer. On Is Having A Wonderful Time, Geoff and his band combine elements of blues, boogie-woogie, country, folk,  gospel, R&B and rock. Then on Motion, Geoff is steered in different directions by his new producer Trevor Lawrence. Motion takes on a much slicker, radio friendly, commercial sound. Geoff combines AOR and country with gospel, pop and rock. Ballads rub shoulders with uptempo tracks on Motion which should’ve caught the imagination of the record buying public. Sadly, it wasn’t to be.

After just two albums, Is Having A Wonderful Time and Motion, Geoff Muldaur left Warner Bros. It was a case of what might have been for Geoff Muldaur? He was and still is a hugely talented and versatile vocalist. That’s apparent from his much anticipated sophomore album Is Having A Wonderful Time, and the followup Motion. They showcase the different sides to Geoff Muldaur on two hidden musical gems, Is Having A Wonderful Time, and the followup Motion. They  reissued on one CD by BGO Records. 


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