THE DAISY AGE.

 The Daisy Age.

Label: Ace Records.

Release Date: ‘30th’ August 2019.

When is a movement not a movement? When it’s the Daisy Age, which was  never really a movement. It’s been described more like an ethos or set of principles that for a short while, pervaded into hip hop, R&B and even pop. The ironic thing, is that thirty years later, nobody knows whether the architects of The Daisy Age, was a throwaway remark or said tongue in cheek. It certainly was influential and is why Ace Records will release a new compaulkayion  The Daisy Age on 30th’ August 2019, which documents a story that deserves telling again.

The founder or architects of the Daisy Age movement were the Long Island hip hop trio, De La Soul, who claimed that D.A.I.S.Y. was an acronym of  “da inner sound, y’all.” However, the members of De La Soul said a lot of things and often, it was with in jest or said tongue in cheek.  De La Soul are remembered for the humour and playfulness which was part of their music, and especially their 1989 critically acclaimed, genre-melting debut album 3 Feet High and Rising which was akin to musical patchwork quilt. It was obvious that this was a hip hop classic and a game changer of an album.

Especially in Britain, where the Acid House scene blossomed in 1988, and  DJs took to playing eclectic sets at raves across the country. They took place everywhere from warehouses to tents in farmer’s field’s where loved up ravers dressed in baggy clothing danced to the Chicago House tracks and the Acid House cuts that followed in their wake. They could be heard alongside UK house tracks and songs like Chris Rea’s Josephine and the dreadful Bomb The Bass Beat Dis, which many DJs and dancers quite rightly, refused to take seriously. Eventually, it was passed off as an import and suddenly, it gained approval in some quarters. This proved you can fool some of the people all of the time. Having said that,  it was a time when musically, it was a case of anything goes.

As the nineties dawned, some groups decided to reinvent themselves and jump on Acid House bandwagon. This included Primal Scream, who previously, were dyed -in-the-wool rockers who embraced dance music  and reinvented themselves when they released Screamadelica in 1991. It was  a seminal album where  Bobby Gillespie and Co. fused rock and dance music to produce a timeless classic.

Meanwhile, in New York,  two of the city’s leading hip hop groups were leading lights in the nascent but rapidly   expanding Native Tongues collective. While both groups were important and popular, De La Soul’s music was much more innovative, and that was the case from their debut album 3 Feet High and Rising onwards.

De La Soul were keen to distinguish themselves from many of the hip hop acts that preceded them. They tended to use the same samples over and over again. Listen carefully, and you could hear the usual suspects from sixties and seventies soul and funk. Especially  artists like James Brown , Bobby Byrd, Maceo Parker, Lyn Collins, Stevie Wonder, Isaac Hayes and Roy Ayers plus groups like The Isley Brothers and The JBs. A favourite game at the time was sample spotting, which wasn’t difficult as the same ones were used so often. That changed with De La Soul.

For their debut album 3 Feet High and Rising, De La Soul raided sampled the blue-eyed soul of Hall and Oates plus Billy Joel as well as soul man Wilson Pickett and Stax lum luminaries The Mad Lads. That wasn’t all. De La Soul dug deep and sampled The Turtles’ You Showed Me, The Invitations’ Written On The Wall and even an album of French Linguaphone lessons. It was a truly eclectic mix of music that became this captivating collage that concluded their debut single Plug Tunin’, the followup Potholes In My Lawn which was the song that mentions The Daisy Age. There’s also a cover of Three Is The Magic Number by  Bob Dorough from  Schoolhouse Rock.  This brought back memories for many hip hoppers who remembered hearing the song on Sesame Street. 

Although hip hop was born in the USA, the music was popular in the UK. Especially Run DMC, whose music captured the imagination of many music fans, including many weened on a diet of rock. Another group that were popular were The Beastie Boys, who divided opinions and many music fans perceived as a pale shadow of De La Soul, Run DMC and Public Enemy who had released It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back in 1988. Its was another genre classic and album that everyone from ordinary music fans to De La Soul were enthralled with.

Later, De La Soul would dig deep into their memory banks to remember the music they heard growing up. This they sampled in future albums including Steely Dan,  Brass Construction, The Detroit Spinners and more Hall and Oates and Billy Joel. It was an eclectic mix from one of the founders of the Native Tongues collective.

The third member was A Tribe Called Quest, who in 199People’s Instinctive Travels And The Paths Of Rhythm, which sounded as it it had been influenced by 3 Feet High and Rising.  Soon, the  Native Tongues’ influence was spreading and could be heard across North America and in the UK.  The three prime movers of the Native Tongues collective, De La Soul,  The Jungle Brothers and A Tribe Called Quest also feature on The Daisy Age compilation.

Roller Skating Jam Named Saturdays by De La Soul featuring Q-Tip and Vinia Mojica opens The Daisy Age, and is a reminder of a groundbreaking group at the peak of their powers. Later, Mama Gave Birth to the Soul Children by Queen Latifah featuring De La Soul is this collaboration is a welcome addition to the compilation.

So is A Tribe Called Quest’s Bonita Applebum ,which although it was released in 1990, still sounds fresh nearly thirty years later. They’re one of the triumvirate of hip hop groups who were at the forefront of the Native Tongues collective. 

The other original member of the Native Tongues collective are The Jungle Brothers whose Doin’ Our Own Dang from 1989. It’s another track which has stood the test of time and influenced other hip hop artists and groups. 

Mistadobalina  is a track from 1991 by  Del Tha Funkeé Homosapien from the Bay Area, who are another group who wee inspired by the leading lights of the Native Tongues collective. However, it was De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising that influenced Canada’s Dream Warriors who contribute  My Definition Of A  Boombastic Jazz Style from 1990.

Apart from De La Soul, only  Brand Nubian feature twice. Their contributions are  whose K Sera Sera and All For One. They’re welcome additions as are  Digital Underground’s Doowutchyalike, KMD’s Peachfuzz  and not forgetting Naughty By Nature’s O.P.P. They epitomise the sound pioneered by the Native Tongues collective. So does Black Sheep’s The Choice Is Yours (Revisited),  Da Bush Babees’ We Run Things (It’s Like Dat) and Fu-Schnickens with Shaquille O’Neal (Shaq Fu)’s album closer What’s Up Doc? (Can We Rock?) [K-Cut’s Fat Trac Remix]. 

These tracks, along with the others on The Daisy Age are a reminder of a golden age for hip hop. Back then, the music was innovative and was fresh as artists and bands moved hip hop in a new directions. In the case of De La Soul, who coined the term The Daisy Age and were one of the three pioneers of the Native Tongues collective their music was groundbreaking, playful and tinged with humour. 

Along with The Jungle Brothers whose sophomore album Done By The Forces Of Nature was essentially a concept album about Africa where  hip hop,  jazz, doo wop and  soul melted into one.

Then there was A Tribe Called Quest who also inspired and influenced the artists on The Daisy Age compilation who went on  to create a genre-melting hip hop that was groundbreaking and took the music in a new direction. Nearly thirty years later, and the music on The Daisy Age has stood the test of time and for many is a reminder of what was a golden age for hip hop.

The Daisy Age.

TABANSI SAMPLER.

Tabansi Sampler.

Label: BBE Africa.

Release Date: ‘30th’ August 2019.

Over the next two years, BBE Africa, an imprint of BBE Music, will release around sixty albums from the Tabansi Records vaults. This is part of their Tabansi Gold reissue series, which got underway recently, and is a reminder of what’s the most important, influential and innovative Nigerian record label of the past six decades. Proof of that is the Tabansi Sampler, which will be released by BBE Africa, on the ‘30th’ August 2019. It features thirteen tracks from the Tabansi Records’ back-catalogue.

Tabansi Records was founded in Nigeria in 1952, and filled a void when major labels like Decca and later, Philips closed the doors on their Nigerian operations. Chief Tabansi, who lent his name to what would become Nigeria’s most important label, recorded artists and then pressed the records at The United African Company’s pressing plant. After that, record vans promoted the latest releases in Nigerian villages. This was just the start for Tabansi Records.

In the sixties, The United African Company decided to concentrate on importing American and European music. With very little competition, Tabansi Records was able to concentrate on local  music, which The United African Company had turned its back on. This was a big mistake.

During the seventies, Tabansi Records was the most successful Nigerian label, and its founder  Chief Tabansi was one of the leading light’s of country’s thriving and vibrant music scene. He had invested in the company he had founded in, in Onitsha, Lagos, alll these years ago, which had its own studios and pressing plant. The company was going from strength-to-strength.

By the eighties, Chief Tabansi was joined in the company by his son Godwin. He helped with promotion and developing the artists on the Tabansi roster. This included the thirteen artists on Tabansi Sampler.

Opening Tabansi Sampler is  Make You No Mind, a stunning unreleased fusion of Afrobeat and highlight from the legendary Ebo Taylor. This sets the bar high. It’s followed by Zeal Anata  a track from Zeal Onyia’s 1975 highlife album Trumpet King Zeal Onyia Returns. 

Nkono Teles’ debut album Party Beats was his finest hour, and featured  his hit single Love Vibration. It’s a track that is synonymous with the groundbreaking composer, engineer,  multi-instrumentalist and producer.

Juju Master Ojo Balingo  released his album Afrotunes Best Of Juju Vol. II on Tabansi Records in 1985. One of the highlights was  the genre-melting Oba Mimo Olorun Ayo, which showcases the considerable talents of  Ojo Balingo. It’s all change on Looking Out For You, a slice of reggae from the The Mandators’ 1979 album Sunrise. It gives way to Thina Dekula, a joyous and irresistible sounding track from Lumingu Puati (Zorro), that marries African and Western influences. Equally joyous is Amanfoo from the Dytomite Starlite Band Of Ghana’s oft-overlooked eponymous debut album which is a hidden gem.

You’re My Solution is a track from Eric Kol’s album Today. It’s a slick and timeless fusion of boogie and disco that even today, will fill a dancefloor. For The Love Of Money is the title-track to Zack and Geebah’s debut album and is a delicious fusion of Afrobeat, funk,  soul and social comment. Super Star is a deeply soulful song from Tony Sarfo and His Funki Afrosibi’s 1983 album Super Star In Festival Day. Hold On Pretty Woman is the title-track from Ben Jagga’s debut album, and is s a joyous, funky slice of boogie. 

Wonderful For Ashawo closed 1977 Ondigui And Bota Tabansi International ’s 1977 album Ewondo Rythm. It combines elements of soukous, highlife and funk on a memorable and rhythmic track. Closing Tabansi Sampler is Akalaka by Victor Chukwu which showcases a truly talented artist. This is the perfect way to close the compilation.

For anyone yet to discover the music released by Tabansi Records  and its various imprints during the seventies and eighties, BBE Africa’s Tabansi Sampler is the perfect introduction. Tabansi Sampler features thirteen tracks from a mixture of familiar faces and new names, on this lovingly curated collection of music from the most important, influential and innovative Nigerian record label of the past six decades. 

Tabansi Sampler.

 

LOS ANGELES SOUL VOLUME 2-KENT-MODERN’S BLACK MUSIC LEGACY 1963-197

Los Angeles Soul Volume 2-Kent-Modern’s Black Music Legacy 1963-1971.

Label: Kent Soul.

Release Date: ‘30th’ August 2019.

Four-and-a-half years ago,  in February 2015, Kent Soul, an imprint of Ace Records, released Los Angeles Soul-Kent-Modern’s Black Music Legacy to plaudits and praise. Critics and music fans wondered if there would be a followup to this  lovingly curated compilation? A year passed and there was no followup to Los Angeles Soul-Kent-Modern’s Black Music Legacy. A year became two, and then three. By the time four years had passed, many people had their doubts whether Kent Soul would never release a followup to Los Angeles Soul-Kent-Modern’s Black Music Legacy. However, they were wrong and  on ‘30th’ August 2019, Kent Soul will release Los Angeles Soul Volume 2-Kent-Modern’s Black Music Legacy 1963-1971. It’s a release that will be welcomed by many fans and features twenty-five tracks from the Kent-Modern vaults. 

During the fifties, the Los Angeles’ based, Modern and Kent labels were two of the most successful independent record labels. Their star was definitely in the ascendancy. Modern and Kent signed some of the most successful soul, blues and R&B artists of the fifties, including John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, Etta James, The Cadets and Richard Houston. A few years later, and the Modern and Kent labels were more than labels.

With the profits of their hit singles, the Bihari brothers, owners of the Modern and Kent labels, built a recording studio, pressing plant, distribution centre and offices. The Bihari brothers had come a long way in a relatively short space of time. 

As the sixties dawned, music was changing. That would be the case throughout the sixties, and into the seventies. While some labels stood still, the Biharis were determined to released music that was relevant. During the sevens and into the early seventies, which is the period Los Angeles Soul Volume 2-Kent-Modern’s Black Music Legacy 1963-1971 covers, the Modern and Kent labels released an eclectic selection of music. This includes blues, deep soul, funk, gospel,  jazz-tinged ballads, soul and  uptempo dancers. There’s even a Motown influence on several tracks on Los Angeles Soul Volume 2-Kent-Modern’s Black Music Legacy 1963-1971. It seemed the Bihari brothers were covering all bases in their constant search for hits.

Bookending Los Angeles Soul Volume 2 – Kent-Modern’s Black Music Legacy 1963-1971 are deep soul ballads from Chuck Walker and The VIPs with Bobby McKay. The compilation opens with the single I’ll Be Standing By, which was released on Virgo in 1968. Closing the compilation is the B-Side Peace of Mind another memorable slice of deep soul. In between, are twenty-three eclectic tracks from familiar faces and new names. 

For fans of funk there’s a triumvirate of tracks that are welcome additions. This includes Rudy Love and The Love Family’s Hungry Children which was released on Earthquake in 1971.  What Is This World Coming To is funky cut from Charles Taylor released on Mo’ Soul in 1971.  The third slice of funk is Funky Duck by the Four Tees, which is an unreleased track that funakateers will embrace and enjoy.

BPS Revolution’s contribution is Mighty Clouds Of Joy a mid tempo hidden gem from the gospel group. Its was released on Kent Gospel in 1972, and is a welcome addition to Los Angeles Soul Volume 2-Kent-Modern’s Black Music Legacy 1963-1971.

Honey  by Felice Taylor which is an unreleased track is an uptempo soulful track. So is Vernon Garret’s Slow and Easy which was released on Kent in 1967 and Stacy Johnson’s Don’t Believe Him a release on Modern from 1965. 

Among the familiar faces on Los Angeles Soul Volume 2-Kent-Modern’s Black Music Legacy 1963-1971 are ZZ Hill who contributes Where She Att which is a polished and soulful uptempo side released on Kent in 1967.

Johnny Copeland and His Soul Agents released Ghetto Child, on Kent in 1970. It’s a thought-provoking and moving track that was written about the young black children growing up in poverty in Houston. Sadly, nearly fifty years later the song is still as relevant as it was in 1970.

Six years after Clay Hammond penned Part Time Love for Little Johnny Taylor which topped  the charts in 1963, he released The Good Side of My Girl on Kent in 1969. It was the last single he released for Kent, and is a beautiful Southern Soul track.

Until recently, many soul fans were unaware of the supremely talented and mysterious Jeanette Jones. Kent Soul released Dreams Al Come True which belongs in the collection of anyone with a passing interest in soul music. Proof of that is The Thought Of You which was released on Kent in 1969, and showcases the considerable talents of Jeanette Jones.

Another familiar dace is Lowell Fulson, who released What the Heck on Kent in 1968. It’s an uptempo dancer that is a favourite of many soul fans.

The 2nd  version  of Arthur K Adams I Need You was originally recorded for Modern in 1967, but wasn’t released until 2010. Tat was when it made its debut on an Ace Records CD of Al Kent and Arthur Adam’s track Together-The Complete Kent And Modern Recordings. This was a welcome inclusion, and nine years later  I Need You returns for an encore.

For many soul fans of a certain vintage, Los Angeles Soul Volume 2-Kent-Modern’s Black Music Legacy 1963-1971 will take them back to a time and place when music was very different, and some would say better. It’s a compilation that features a mixture of familiar faces and new names. They rub shoulders on a completion that features everything from blues and deep soul to funk and gospel,  right through to jazz-tinged ballads, soul and  uptempo dancers. That is what to expect on Los Angeles Soul Volume 2-Kent-Modern’s Black Music Legacy 1963-1971, which features  the twenty-five carefully selected tracks. 

Los Angeles Soul Volume 2-Kent-Modern’s Black Music Legacy 1963-1971 will be released by Kent Soul on ‘30th’ August 2019. and has been well worth the four-and-half year wait as it’s a lovingly compiled compilation that manages to surpass the quality of music on the first instalment in the series.

Los Angeles Soul Volume 2-Kent-Modern’s Black Music Legacy 1963-1971.

LIVE IT UP! BAYSWATER BEAT GIRLS 1964-1967.

Live It Up! Bayswater Beat Girls 1964-1967.

Label: Ace Records.

Release Date: ‘30th’ August 2019.

It’s hard to believe that it was back in the nineties, when the Brit Girls genre was born, and record companies started releasing the first ever compilations. Little did anyone realise back then, that this new genre would thrive and over the next three decades countless compilations would be released. These compilations ranged from lovingly curated to mediocre and bandwagon jumping cash-ins. However,  one label has consistently released some of the best Brit Girls compilations, Ace Records, who will release Live It Up! Bayswater Beat Girls 1964-1967 on the ‘30th’ August 2019.

Live It Up! Bayswater Beat Girls 1964-1967 features twenty-five tracks from the vaults of Philips, Fontana and Mercury, which are often overlooked by compilers of Brit Girls’ compilations.   Philips and its sister labels Fontana and Mercury were based in  Stanhope House in Stanhope Place, Bayswater, London W2. That was home to the Brit Girls including Dusty Springfield, Kiki Dee, Madeline Bell, Sharon Tandy and Clare Torry as well as groups like The Caravelles and The Kaye Sisters. They’re just some of the artists on Live It Up! Bayswater Beat Girls 1964-1967, and some of artists signed by the A&R reps working for  Philips, Fontana and Mercury

A&R reps were constantly searching the length and breadth of the UK for unsigned Brit Girls. The A&R reps searched London and the South East, the North West and the Midlands up to the North East, and across the border to Scotland and into Wales. A&R reps made their way  across the Irish Sea to Northern Ireland as the search for new names continued. Between 1964 and 1967, they crisscrossed the UK looking for unsigned Brit Girls who would transform the fortunes of Philips, Fontana and Mercury Records.  

Some of the artists signed to  Philips, Fontana and Mercury went on to enjoy successful careers and enjoyed a string of hit singles, while others failed to fulfil the potential the A&R reps saw in them. It was a case of what might have been. These hidden gems are joined by hits and unreleased tracks on Live It Up! Bayswater Beat Girls 1964-1967

Opening Live It Up! Bayswater Beat Girls 1964-1967 is Live It Up by Dusty Springfield. It’s a track from her 1964 Philips’ album Dusty. The following year, 1965, she recorded Heartbeat which thirty years later, was released on a CD entitled Dusty.

I Really Got Carried Away was by Madeline Bell, who was born in New Jersey, but during her career, became a familiar face on the UK music scene. In 1966, I Really Got Carried Away was the B-Side to the American songstress’ sophomore single. Despite her relative inexperience, Madeline Bell was already a talented vocalist with a bright future in front of her

Kiki Dee was another British singer who would go on to enjoy a long and successful career. She contributes two tracks she recorded for Fontana to Live It Up! Bayswater Beat Girls 1964-1967. This includes With A Kiss from her 1966 EP Kiki In Clover and Small Town which was released later that year. Both tracks are a tantalising of taste of what was to come from Kiki Dee, who is one of British music’s most underrated female vocalists.

London-based girl group The Caravelles feature twice on Live It Up! Bayswater Beat Girls 1964-1967. They contribute I Like A Man and How Can I Be Sure? which both featured on the B-Sides of their 1964 singes for Fontana. Despite the quality of both tracks, The Caravelles never quite fulfilled their potential and sadly, in 1965 the original lineup split-up, and it was a case of what might have been.

Jenny Wren first recorded for Fontana as a sixteen year old, and in 1966 released Chasing My Dream All Over Town as a single. Tucked away on the B-Side was The Thought Of You. These two oft-overlooked tracks were the start of  Jenny Wren’s recording career, which saw her release four albums for DJM during the seventies.

Mention Clare Torry and most music lovers remember her seminal vocal on Pink Floyd’s Great Gig In The Sky, on Dark Side Of The Moon.That is just part of the story of this truly talented singer. In 1966, she released  The Music Attracts Me on Fontana, which more than hints at what was to come from Clare Torry.

You Beat Me To The Punch was released by Karol Keyes on Fontana in 1964. On the B-Side was No One Can Take Your Place. Sadly, there  was no followup to You Beat Me To The Punch, which was the only single  Karol Keyes released.

Closing Live It Up! Bayswater Beat Girls 1964-1967 is Sharon Tandy’s 1966 cover of Love Makes the World Go Round, which was released on Mercury. It’s a joined by the B-Side By My Side, which is another reminder of Sharon Tandy’s vocal prowess. Just four years later, Sharon Tandy left Britain behind and headed home to South Africa. This was another case of what might have been had she stayed in Britain and continued her career? 

Live It Up! Bayswater Beat Girls 1964-1967 finds hits and hidden gems rubbing shoulders on this lovingly compiled  compilation. It features twenty-five tracks from the vaults of Philips, Fontana and Mercury, which are often overlooked by compilers of Brit Girls’ compilations. Not any more, as Ace Records dig deep into the Philips, Fontana and Mercury in search of Brit Girl gold. It can be found on Live It Up! Bayswater Beat Girls 1964-1967, which is another lovingly curated companion that celebrates the golden age of the Brit Girls with a compilation that feature a plethora of hits and hidden gems from the Philips, Fontana and Mercury labels.

Live It Up! Bayswater Beat Girls 1964-1967.

NKONO TELES-PARTY BEATS.

Nkono Teles–Party Beats.

BBE Africa. 

During Tabansi Records’ long and illustrious history, few people made the same impact as Nkono Teles, who was born in  Cameroun, but grew up in Nigeria. That was where in 1952, Chief Tabansi founded the label he lent his name to, Tabansi Records. Three decades later, groundbreaking composer, engineer,  multi-instrumentalist and producer Nkono Teles began work at Tabansi Records.

During his time at Tabansi Records, Nkono Teles worked with 100 artists and bands on 150 productions. Nkono Teles’ speciality was giving a modernist sound to Tabansi Records’ releases. He was one of a backroom team of who worked for the label, and who artists called upon to give their albums a modernist, Afro-pop sound. This was a sound that Chief Tabansi  hoped would appeal to record buyers all across Africa. 

To do this, Tabansi Records combined elements of African music with Western music. It wasn’t unusual for a Tabansi Records’ release to fuse Afrobeat or highlife with elements of boogie, disco, electro, funk and soul. This was new and innovative. The man responsible for introducing a modern sound to many of Tabansi Records’ releases was Nkono Teles. 

To do this, Nkono Teles incorporated and pioneered drum machines, synths and a myriad of guitar effects on many albums. Nkono Teles was also responsible for programming the computers at Tabansi Records’ studios, which added to the innovative sound of the label’s releases.  All of this and his production career meant Nkono Teles was constantly busy at Tabansi Records. Despite this,  Nkono Teles managed to combine his work at Tabansi Records with a solo career.

Nkono Teles released a trio of albums on Tabansi Records, including Party Beats, which was his debut album and a truly innovative album that was way ahead of its time.  Party Beats which has just been reissued by BBE Africa, an imprint of BBE Music, as part their Tabansi Gold series.  It’s a welcome reissue of what’s regarded as Nkono Teles’ finest hours.

When Nkono Teles began recording Party Beats, he had no  need for Tabansi Records’ legendary studio band. He was a multi-instrumentalist, and could play every instrument himself. Nkono Teles was equally comfortable working with traditional instruments as well as the drum machines and synths. Little did he know that the raw electronic sounds he added to Party Beats would become favourites of DJs, plus breaks and hip hop producers. That was still to come.

While Nkono Teles was a hugely talented composer, engineer, musician and producer, he always felt that his vocal wasn’t his strongest point. That was why during the recording of Party Beats at one point, he brought an eleven strong choral section into the studio.  However, for most of the Party Beats, Nkono Teles was a one man band who recorded vocals and laid down all the parts on the six tracks on the album.

Once Nkono Teles had finished recording Party Beats, the album was released on Taretone, one of the wholly owned imprints of Tabansi Records. Opening the album was the laid-back Time For Fun, where synths accompany the vocal as electro meets boogie and the part gets underway.  Love Vibration was the track that gave Nkono Teles a hit single, and where he makes good use of a bass synth. It plays  its part in the song’s success. It’s a similar case on By My Lady, which seems to have been reference early eighties Brit pop. Highlife Makossa is a melodic and rhythmic West African highlife track. The tempo drops on the beautiful and soulful paean You’ll Be Already (With My Love), before the irresistible and genre-melting Party Beats closes the album. Elements of Afrobeat, boogie electro, funk and soul combine to ensure the party continues as Party Beats closes on a high.

Party Beats was a truly innovative album from Nkono Teles, and one that features elements of Afrobeat, boogie, disco, electro, funk, highlife and soul. These genres feature on Nkono Teles what was his debut album, and the finest album of his career. Sadly, Nkono Teles only released three albums during his career, and up until recently, was better known for his production work

That started to change after breaks and hip hop producers started sampling Party Beats, and DJ began to play tracks from the album in their sets. Soon, the album was in-demand amongst collectors, DJs and producers. The only problem was Party Beats was a rarity, and recently, copies were changing hands for $700 which was beyond the budget of many record collectors. Not any more as BBE Africa  recently reissued Party Beats, and  Nkono Teles groundbreaking and genre-melting cult classic is available for everyone to enjoy. Party Beats is another tantalising of taste of the Tabansi Records’ back-catalogue and one of the architects of its sound in the eighties, Nkono Teles.

Nkono Teles–Party Beats.

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF BOB LIND.

The Life and Times Of Bob Lind.

Bob Lind, it’s fair to say, is a many of many talents. He started life as a singer-songwriter in 1965, and helped define the folk rock genre. His debut single Elusive Butterfly gave Bob a hit single on both sides of the Atlantic in 1966. Five years and four albums later, Bob Lind turned his back on music. 

By then, Bob Lind had gained a reputation as difficult to work with. That wasn’t all. Bob was battling drug and alcohol addiction. Things weren’t looking good for Bob and it looked as if Bob’s life was spiralling out of control. However, Bob Lind  was a survivor.

Through sheer strength of character and sheer determination, Bob Lind overcame his addictions. He  rebuilt his life and reinvented himself as a journalist and author. Bob Lind was back. Then in 2004, a friend encouraged Bob to make play live. Since then, Bob has been playing live and earlier in 2016, recorded a new album Magellan Was Wrong. The welcome return of Bob Lind was complete. For the seventy-three year old, this was just the latest chapter in the Bob Lind story.

It began in Baltimore, Maryland on November 25th 1942. That was where Bob Lind was born and developed a love of music. Soon, he began to play guitar. Later, Bob embarked upon a career as musician.

Don’t Be Concerned.

By 1965, Bob Lind was twenty-three and had just signed to World Pacific Records, an imprint of Liberty Records. It was an exciting time for him. He had just signed his first recording contracted and was about to record his debut album, Don’t Be Concerned. 

For some time, Bob Lind had been writing songs, which featured in his live sets. These songs showcased a truly talented songwriter. Already, Bob had a way with words. Elusive Butterfly, You Should Have Seen It, Drifter’s Sunrise, The World Is Just A “B” Movie and It Wasn’t Just The Morning were proof of this. They were among the twelve songs that would feature on Don’t Be Concerned.

When it came to record Don’t Be Concerned, Bob Lind was paired with Jack Nitzsche. He was already an experienced producer, who had worked with a wide range of artists. Jack Nitzsche arrange and produce Don’t Be Concerned, which when it was completed, was scheduled for release in early 1966.

Before the release of Don’t Be Concerned, Elusive Butterfly was released as a single. It reached number five in the US Billboard 200 and the UK charts. For Bob Lind, this was a dream start to his career. Things however, would get even better.

Don’t Be Concerned was released to widespread critical acclaim. Critics were impressed by an album of carefully crafted songs, from a singer who they regarded as a rising star of folk. Bob Lind critics believed, would play an important part in folk music’s future. These were wise words, with Bob Lind playing an important part in defining folk rock. With critically acclaimed reviews and a hit single to his name, Bob Lind’s star was in the ascendancy.

When Don’t Be Concerned was released in 1966, it reached 148 in the US Billboard 200. This was regarded as a success. For a new artist, in the folk rock genre, where most albums didn’t sell in the same quantities as those by pop and rock artists, this was regarded as a success. So World Pacific Records decided to build upon this success and sent Bob back into the studio.

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Photographs Of Feeling.

It was decided that Bob Lind should return to the recording studio, and record his sophomore album Photographs Of Feeling. World Pacific Records realised the importance of momentum, and wanted another album from Bob. So he began work on his sophomore album, Photographs Of Feeling.

For Photographs Of Feeling, Bob Lind wrote the ten songs. Jack Nitzsche returned to arrange and produce Don’t Be Concerned. It would released in April 1966.

Before that, critics had their say on Photographs Of Feelings. Just like Don’t Be Concerned, critics were won over by Photographs Of Feelings. It received plaudits and praise, who saw Bob Lind as an artist who was reinventing folk music, with the new folk rock sound. This was beginning to grow in popularity.

Despite this, when Remember The Rain was released as a single, but reached just number forty-six in the US Billboard 100 and sixty-four in the UK. Compared to the transatlantic top ten hit Elusive Butterfly, this was have disappointing. So must have been Photographs Of Feeling failing to chart. Despite the positive reviews, of Photographs Of Feeling it never came close to troubling the charts. Despite this, a third Bob Lind album was released in 1966.

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The Elusive Bob Lind,

After releasing two albums for World Pacific Records, Bob Lind released his third album on the Verve Folkways label. It had been founded in 1965, as a partnership between Verve Records and Moses Asch’s Folkways Records. Signing Bob Lind, a pioneer and rising star of the folk rock scene, was something of a coup. So was releasing his third album, The Elusive Bob Lind.

For The Elusive Bob Lind, eleven songs were chosen. They were mostly Bob Lind compositions, which were augmented by cover versions. This included Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are A Changing and the traditional song Hey Nellie Nellie. These songs were recorded with a new producer and became The Elusive Bob Lind.

This time around, there was no sign of Jack Nitzsche, who had arranged and produced Bob’s first two album. Verve Folkways brought Pete Spargo onboard. He was a relatively new producer. His production career began in the early sixties, and since then, he had produced Willie Bobo, The Guitar Kings and Hugo Montenegro and His Orchestra. Bob Lind was the latest addition to what would eventually be a lengthy list of production credits. With Pete Spargo manning the board, Bob soon had his third album recorded.

Now Verve Folkways began preparing for the release of The Elusive Bob Lind. Copies were sent to critics. They were fulsome in their praise of the album. Especially, Bob Lind’s songwriting skills, his unique vocal and how he could breath life, meaning and emotion into a song. Bob who had been one of the pioneers of folk rock, critics remarked, was continuing to redefine the genre with another album of influential music. It was released later in 1966. 

Despite the praise, The Elusive Bob Lind received, the album failed to chart. With two albums consecutive albums failing to chart, it was a worrying time for Bob Lind. Maybe, his single would get his ailing career back on track?

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There was a problem though. With Bob Lind’s last two albums had been released on different labels, they were essentially competing against each other. Five singles were released between April and October 1966.

World Pacific Record released I Just Let It Take Me as second single from, Photographs Of Feeling later in June 1966. It stalled at 123 in the US Billboard 100. For Bob Lind, it was a case of close but no cigar. Especially when San Francisco Woman, was released as the third and final single from Photographs Of Feeling. However, when it was released in August 1966, it reached just 135 in the US Billboard 100. Bob Lind it seemed, was out of luck.

Despite this, Verve Folkways Records decided to release White Snow from The Elusive Bob Lind. This was just the second single released from the album. It was released in October 1966, but failed to trouble the charts. After four consecutive singles failing to chart in the US Billboard 100. Bob Lind must have been wondering about his immediate future?

After the roller coaster year that was 1966, Bob Lind continued to play live. He was still a popular draw, and had been since the earliest days of his career.Then in the spring of 1967, Bob Lind returned to the studio. This time, he only recorded two singles. Maybe World Pacific Records were being cautious, and wanted to gauge the success these singles? The first single, It’s Just My Love was released in April 1967, but failed to chart. Eight months later, Goodbye Neon Lies was released in 1967, but failed to chart. Little did anyone realise that Goodbye Neon Lies was Bob Lind’s World Pacific Records’ swan-song?

By 1969, Bob Lind, like many singers and musicians had developed a taste for the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle. He battled drug and alcohol addiction. To make matters worse, Bob Lind was regarded as difficult to work with. That was the case with many artists. However, if they delivered the goods, then record companies saw as the cost of doing business with an artist. Sadly, by 1969, Bob Lind had neither released a single for two years, nor an album for three. There was no sign of any music on the horizon. Despite this, very few people would’ve forecast that Bob Lind would decided to walk away from his contract with World Pacific Records in 1969.

Having severed his ties from World Pacific Records, very little was heard of Bob Lind. While he still played live, he never released any music between 1967 and 1971. That was when Bob Lind resurfaced, and signed a contract with Capitol Records. 

Since There Were Circles.

Not long after this, Bob Lind entered the studio for the first time in four years. He had written eleven new songs which would become Since There Were Circles. They would be recorded in Los Angeles.

Capitol Records had booked the Record Plant in L.A. for Bob Lind. Producing Since There Were Circles was Doug Weston. He was joined by a tight, talented and experienced band that included ex Byrd Gene Clark. They accompanied Bob as he worked his way through an electric album. It veered between folk rock, Americana, country and even a hint of pop. Since There Were Circles was an album that should’ve appealed to a wide range of record buyers.

With Since There Were Circles complete, Capitol Records scheduled the release of Bob Lind’s comeback album for later in 1971. Capitol Records sprang into action, and began promoting the album. The only concern was, that it had been five years since Bob Lind had released an album. That was a long time in music, where record buyers often, have short memories. At least, though, Bob Lind had been playing live during that period. So he wasn’t quite The Elusive Bob Lind.

Critics certainly hadn’t forgotten Bob Lind. They welcomed the return of Bob Lind, and hailed Since There Were Circles a welcome return to form. Accompanied by some of the top session musicians of the early seventies, critics were impressed by one of Bob Lind’s finest albums. Would record buyers agree?

Capitol Records released She Can Get Along in 1971. It was Bob Lind’s first single in four years single. Alas,  She Can Get Along failed to chart. This didn’t augur well for the release of Since There Were Circles. It also failed to chart, and this marked the end of Bob Lind’s time at Capitol Records.

Not long after leaving Capitol Records, Bob Lind turned his back on music. Bob Lind wasn’t the first, and certainly wouldn’t the last to walk away from music. 

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During the wilderness years, Bob Lind befriended writer Charles Bukowski. They struck up a close friendship. So much so, that Charles Bukowski immortalised the singer-songwriter in his 1978 book Women. Bob Lind was the inspiration for the character Dinky Summers, who would regularly reappear in Charles Bukowski’s work. Ten years after Women was published, Bob Lind became a writer.

Bob Lind decided in 1988 to follow the sun, and headed to Florida. That was where he embarked upon a new career, as a writer. The move to Florida, and career change proved successful. Not only did Bob Lind write five novels, but a stage play and the award winning screenplay Refuge. It went on to win the prestigious Florida Screenwriters’ Competition in 1991. This must have been the pinnacle of Bob Lind’s career as a writer.

Later in his writing career, Bob Lind spent eight years as  a staff writer at the supermarket tabloids Weekly World News and The Sun. This was very different from writing novels, screenplays or a stage play. The content was marketed as satirical and sensationalist, but often fell foul of the privacy laws. For Bob Lind, this must have seemed like a far cry from his days as a musician? Maybe Bob Lind would even consider a comeback?

Thirty-three years after turning his back on music in 1971, Bob Lind had a change of heart in 2004. He was persuaded folk singer Arlo Guthrie, the son of Woody Guthrie, to make a comeback. The venue that was chosen was the Guthrie Center in Becket, Massachusetts. 

That night, Bob Lind’s love of playing live was rekindled. Soon, the sixty-two year old and Arlo Guthrie were heading out on tour. Since then, they’ve continued to tour. Bob Lind was back.

Later in 2006, Bob Lind self-released his first live album Live At The Luna Star Cafe It featured the first new material Bob Lind had released since 1971. This was just the start of Bob Lind’s comeback.

In 2007, a compilation of Bob Lind’s World Pacific Records’ recording was released. This was Elusive Butterfly: The Complete 1966 Jack Nitzsche Session. Suddenly, a whole new audience were discovering Bob Lind’s music.

Over the next few years, interest in Bob Lind’s music began to grow. However, within the music industry, many artists and groups were familiar with Bob Lind’s songs, and had covered them. This included luminaries like Eric Clapton, Glen Campbell, Dolly Parton, Aretha Franklin and The Four Tops. They’re just a few of the artists who have covered Bob Lind’s music, and helped spread the word about one of music’s best kept secrets.

With Bob Lind’s profile rising, cinematographer Paul Surratt finished  a DVD about Bob Lind. It was a documentary, which also featured Bob Lind in concert. Bob Lind: Perspective was released in 2009, and introduced the singer-songwriter to a wider audience. However, there was still one thing Bob Lind hadn’t done since his comeback, release a new album.

Finding You Again.

Bob Lind decided to rectify this in 2012. He returned to the studio with The Spongetones’ guitarist Jamie Hoover, and recorded thirteen Bob Lind compositions. Jamie Hoover produced what would become Bob Lind’s first album since 1971s Since There Were Circles.

Forty-one years later, Finding You Again was released on Big Beat Records, a subsidiary of Ace Records. Finding You Again was released to critical acclaim, and marked a welcome return to form from the seventy year old folk-rock pioneer. Now that Bob Lind had found his audience again, the big question was, when would there be followup to Finding You Again?

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Magellan Was Wrong.

Four years later, and Bob Lind returned with the much anticipated followup to Finding You Again,Magellan Was Wrong. It featured Bob Lind eleven new Bob Lind songs and a cover Tom Paxton’s Bottle Of Wine. These songs were arranged and produced by Jamie Hoover. 

When it came to record Magellan Was Wrong, Jamie Hoover played many of the instruments on Magellan Was Wrong. Bob Lind played acoustic guitar, electric guitar, 12-string guitar and adds synth horns and vocals.  Augmenting Jamie Hoover and Bob Lind, were a few musicians who added overdubs in two studios in Fort Worth, Miami. Once album, were complete, the welcome return of Bob Lind was one step nearer.

Magellan Was Wrong was released earlier in 2016, and overwhelming critical acclaim. Bob Lind was the comeback King, having released the best album since he returned to music in 2004, Magellan Was Wrong. It’s a tantalising taste of what Bob Lind’s capable of.

On Magellan Was Wrong, Bob Lind’s lyrics were beautiful, celebratory, cerebral, poignant, reflective, rueful, thought-proving and wistful. Songs about love, love lost, returning heroes and the sands of time running dry, sit side-by-side with a cover Tom Paxton’s Bottle Of Wine. Often, the lyrics are also cinematic, vivid and rich in imagery, as Bob Lind unmistakable voice switches between musical genres. Bob Lind it seems, is just as comfortable singing folk and folk-rock as he is country, jazz or pop rock. Magellan Was Wrong is a welcome return to form from Bob Lind.

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Belatedly, Bob Lind was making up for lost time having turned his back on music 1971, and never to playing live until 2004. Despite that, Bob Lind wasn’t a forgotten man.

During that period, many artists and bands continued to cover Bob Lind’s songs. Over 200 artists, including some of the biggest names in music covered his songs. This includes everyone from Eric Clapton to Glen Campbell and  Dolly Parton to The Four Tops and Petula Clark. These cover versions introduced many record buyers to Bob Lind’s music.

This was one way a whole new audience discovered Bob Lind. Other record buyers discovered one of Bob’s first four albums in second hand record shops. This was the start of a voyage of discovery.

Having discovered Bob Lind, soon the  journey was complete. It was frustrating, as record collectors soon owned Bob’s entire discography. Many record collectors wanted to here more from one of music’s best kept secrets. If only, Bob Lind would hit the comeback trail.

Bob Lind was encouraged to make a comeback in 2004. Since then, Bob Lind’s career is enjoying an Indian Summer. This resulted in Bob getting a taste for playing live. He’s continued to play live since then, and this has resulted in a further resurgence in interest in Bob Lind’s music.

As a result, there’s been compilations of his music released, and some of Bob Lind’s albums have been reissued. Bob even released a live album. However, the one thing that had been missing from Bob Lind’s comeback was a studio album. He rectified this with Finding You Again in 2012. Four years later, and Bob Lind released one of the finest albums of his career, Magellan Is Wrong, earlier this year. By then, Bob Lind’s comeback was complete.

He had come a long way since he signed to Pacific World Records in 1965. He’s matured as a singer, songwriter and musician, and belatedly, is enjoying the commercial success and critical acclaim his talents deserved. However, one can’t help but wonder what would’ve happened if Bob Lind hadn’t turned his back on music in 1971? 

At least, this allowed Bob Lind to overcome his addiction to alcohol and drugs. This wasn’t easy, and took strength of character and sheer determination. Eventually, Bob Lind managed to overcame his addictions. 

He went on to rebuild his life and reinvented himself as a journalist and award winning author. Eventually, though, Bob Lind returned to his first love music in 2004. Since then, a newly revitalised Bib Lind has been making up for lost time, and his music is receiving the critical acclaim his considerable talents so richly deserve. 

The Life and Times Of Bob Lind.

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DYTOMOTE STARLITE BAND OF GHANA-DYTOMOTE STARLITE BAND OF GHANA

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Label: BBE Africa.

During the seventies and eighties, the Tabansi label was, without doubt, the most important and influential Nigerian record label, and consistently released groundbreaking music. Tabansi also discovered and nurtured many of Nigeria’s most successful artists. However, Tabansi also released albums by artists and bands from other parts of Africa, including Ghana.

This included the Dytomite Starlite Band Of Ghana, who released their eponymous debut album on Tabansi, in the early eighties. Dytomite Starlite Band Of Ghana was their only album, and sadly, this highlife hidden gem has never been reissued since then. That was until recently, when BBE Africa, an imprint of BBE Music reissued Dytomite Starlite Band Of Ghana as part of their Tabansi Gold reissue project. It’s a welcome reissue of what’s a somewhat mysterious release.

Very little is known about  the Dytomite Starlite Band Of Ghana, which is thought, consists of just two musicians. They were joined in Tabansi’s recording studios by a highlife band. Sadly,  nobody knows who played on this stunning album which is a delicious fusion of Ghanian vocals, highlife and a masterclass from keyboardist and producer Jake Sollo, who took charge of many production on many of Tabansi’s releases. Apart from Jake Sollo, nothing is known about the personnel who feature on Dytomite Starlite Band Of Ghana. There’s previously been speculation that the recording may feature the Tabansi Studio Band, which in the early eighties, included the supremely talented and versatile Martins Brothers. However, what can be said with the utmost certainty is that Dytomite Starlite Band Of Ghana is a stunning album that oozes quality from the opening bars of Amanfoo to the closing notes of Meye Meho Ayie.

Dytomite Starlite Band Of Ghana is a genre-melting album which is a fusion of Accra highlife which was popular in the late-seventies and early eighties. To that, add a horn section that sounds as if they should be playing on a recording of South African township jive, while the clave patterns have an obvious Afro-Cuban sound. Al this results in music that is various beautiful, emotive,  joyous, uplifting and truly irresistible.

It’s no wonder that original copies of Dytomite Starlite Band Of Ghana are so sought after, and collectors are willing to pay such high prices for a copy.  Dytomite Starlite Band Of Ghana is an oft-overlooked, hidden gem from the Tabansi vaults, and is an album that belongs in the collection of anyone who loves African music, highlife or just loves, enjoys and appreciates good music.

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DAVID SANCIOUS-WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN.

David Sancious-What Might Have Been.

By the late sixties, David Sancious was part of New Jersey’s vibrant music scene, which was the first part of what was his musical apprenticeship. Over the next few years, the multi-instrumentalist honed his chops in various rock bands. The music they played was very different to the classical music that David grew up playing.

David Sancious who was born on November 30th 1953, first started playing classical piano aged seven. Little did David Sancious realise that he had just made his first tentative musical steps, and eventually, would play alongside the great and good of music. That however, was in the future. 

Before that, eleven year old David Sancious began teaching himself to play guitar. This was no surprise. David was eleven in 1964, the year the British Invasion groups first arrived on the American shores. Suddenly, guitar bands were King. Despite this, David continued to dedicated himself to the piano for the next few years. By his late teens he was a classically trained pianist. Eventually, though, David decided to turn his back on classical music.

The future for David Sancious was rock music. He made his debut in the local scene in the late-sixties. After several years playing with different bands, David’s breakthrough came when he joined the the E Street Band in 1972. For the next two years, he was part of Bruce Springsteen’s band as he began to make a breakthrough. However, in 1974, David left Bruce Springsteen’s employ and formed his own band.

This was David Sancious and Tone, who recorded five albums between 1975 and 1978. Before David Sancious released these two albums, he had to serve the remainder of his musical apprenticeship.

When the sixties gave way to the seventies, the Asbury Park music scene was thriving. At its heart, was a teenage David Sancious, Bill Chinnock, Southside Johnny, Bruce Springsteen and future members of the E-Street Band. Along with David, they played in various bands, including Glory Road, Dr.Zoom and The Sonic Boom, The Bruce Springsteen Band and The Sundance Blues Band. That was the case right through until 1972. This marked the end of the first part of David Sancious’ musical apprenticeship. The final part came, when David moved to Richmond, Virginia.

As 1972 dawned, David Sancious moved to Richmond, Virginia. His destination was Alpha Studios. David’s new job was a studio musician, who played on jingles and sessions. That was how he met Ernest “Boom” Carter, the E-Street Band’s drummer. This was how David came to spend two years in Bruce Springsteen’s employ.

Between 1972 and 1974, David was a member of the E-Street Band. He played keyboards on Bruce Springsteen’s 1973 debut album Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. 

Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.

Recording of Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. took place between July and September 1972. Four months later, on January 5th 1973, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. was released. It was well received by critics, and nowadays, features in Rolling Stone magazines list of 500 best albums of all time. Despite this, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. wasn’t a huge commercial success.

On its release, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. reached just number sixty in the US Billboard 200 charts.  Little did anyone know that this was the start of the career of one of the most successful American musicians ever. 

Even David didn’t appear to realise this. After Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. was recorded, he didn’t head out on tour with Bruce Springsteen. Instead, he returned to Alpha Studios.

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At Alpha Studios, David recorded some demos with drummer Ernest “Boom” Carter and bassist Garry Tallent. There was a problem though. The rights to the demos that the three members of the E-Street Band recorded, were owned by producer and songwriter Will Farrell. These would become a bone of contention,  when they were later released without David’s permission. That was still to come. Before that, David would play on The Wild, The Innocent and The E-Street Shuffle.

The Wild, The Innocent and The E-Street Shuffle.

Recording of Bruce Springsteen’s sophomore album, The Wild, The Innocent and The E-Street Shuffle took place between May and September 1973 at was re914 Recording Sound Studios. It was the perfect showcase for David’s skills. 

On The Wild, The Innocent and The E-Street Shuffle, David talents as a multi-instrumentalist shines through. He played piano on New York City Serenade, organ on Kitty’s back and a soprano  saxophone solo on The E Street Shuffle. That’s not all. During instrumental breakdowns, David enjoys the chance to showcase his versatility. Drawing inspiration from his eclectic musical taste, he takes The Wild, The Innocent and The E-Street Shuffle on unexpected directions. In doing so, David played his part in Bruce Springsteen’s first great album.

When The Wild, The Innocent and The E-Street Shuffle was released in September 1973, it was too widespread critical acclaim. So much so, that The Wild, The Innocent and The E-Street Shuffle features in the Rolling Stone magazines list of 500 best albums of all time. Sadly, this didn’t translate into sales.

The Wild, The Innocent and The E-Street Shuffle stalled at just number fifty-nine in the US Billboard 200 charts. Although slightly better than Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J., it was a disappointing chart placing. Maybe this is why David’s time with The E-Street Band was soon at an end.

David toured with The E-Street Band from June 1973 right through to August 1974. He also played on the title-track to Bruce Springsteen’s third album Born To Run. However, David was about to leave the E-Street Band, albeit not for ever.

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Having left The E-Street Band, David and drummer Ernest “Boom” Carter formed their own group Tone. The third member of Tone was bassist Gerald Carboy. Other members would come and go. This would include vocalists Gail Boggs, Patti Scialfa, Brenda Maddison and Gayle Moran, of Return To Forever and The Mahavishnu Orchestra. Another future member of Tone was  Alex Ligertwood, who’d become Santana’s vocalist. These vocalists were part of Tone’s fluid lineup. Their debut album was Forest Of Feeling.

Forest of Feeling.

For David Sancious and Tone’s debut album, 1975s Forest Of Feeling, they decided to change direction from the music they’d been making with Bruce Springsteen. To do this, they brought onboard a producer capable of making this happen.

Billy Cobham of The Mahavishnu Orchestra was brought onboard to produce Forest Of Feeling. Their debut album saw David Sancious and Tone’s music move in an innovative direction. Progressive rock and jazz fusion melted into one on Forest Of Feeling. There was more than a nod to The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Yes and Genesis. A captivating fusion of musical genes and influences, Tone’s debut Forest Of Feeling, was released in 1975.

On its release in 1975, Forest Of Feeling was well received by critics.They realised that Forest Of Feeling was an album of groundbreaking music. It was very much a mixture of music’s present and future. Despite this, Forest Of Feeling failed to chart. For David Sancious and Tone this a huge disappointment. So they started work on their sophomore album, Transformation (The Speed Of Love)

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Transformation (The Speed Of Love).

For Transformation (The Speed Of Love), David Sancious and Tone’s sophomore album, David penned four tracks. They were Piktor’s Metamorphosis, Sky Church Hymn #9, The Play And Display Of The Heart and Transformation (The Speed Of Love). These four lengthy pieces were the perfect showcase for David Sancious and Tone.

Recording of Transformation (The Speed Of Love) took place at Caribou Ranch studios with Bruce Botnik producing. David played acoustic piano, Fender Rhodes, piano plus Hammond and electric organ. That’s not all. A true multi-instrumentalist, David also played Moog synth, clavinet, electric  and acoustic guitars. Ernest “Boom” Carter played drums, percussion and added the vocal on Piktor’s Metamorphosis. Gerald Carboy played bass and wind chimes. Gayle Moran sang the vocal chorus on Transformation (The Speed Of Love), an eighteen minute epic that closes the album. Once these four songs were recorded, Transformation (The Speed Of Love) was released in 1976.

On Transformation (The Speed Of Love)’s release, it was released to widespread critical acclaim. A genre-melting album, everything from blues, boogie, classic rock, psychedelia, funk, fusion, jazz, progressive rock and rock feature on Transformation (The Speed Of Love). It’s three hugely talented musicians showcasing their considerable talents. Despite this, commercial success eluded Transformation (The Speed Of Love).

Transformation (The Speed Of Love) failed to chart. It passed record buyers by, upon its release in 1976. Since then, Transformation (The Speed Of Love) has found an audience within the rock and jazz community. That was still to come. Before that, David Sancious and Tone would begin work on album they hoped would result in a change of fortune for them, Dance Of The Age Of Enlightenment.

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Dance Of The Age Of Enlightenment.

For David Sancious and Tone’s fourth album, the band’s founder began writing the material for the album. Eventually, David had written eight new tracks.This included Overture-Wake Up (To A Brand New Day), 1st Movement (Dance Of The Glory And Playfulness), 2nd Movement (Dance Of Purification) The Dawn, 3rd Movement (Part I and II), 4th Movement (Dance Of Serenity And Strength) and the Finale, which featured Gone Is The Veil Of Illusion (Part I) and Dance Of Gratitude And Devotion (Part II). These tracks were complex, and would test the members of Tone.

Recording of Dance Of The Age Of Enlightenment took place at Caribou Ranch studios with Bruce Botnik and David co-producing. The eight songs had been arranged by David, who played acoustic piano, Fender Rhodes, Hammond and electric organ. He also played Moog synth, clavinet, electric and acoustic guitars. In the rhythm section were drummer and percussionist Ernest “Boom” Carter and bassist Gerald Carboy played bass and wind chimes. Gayle Moran added vocals. Once the eight tracks had been recorded, Dance Of The Age Of Enlightenment was scheduled for release later in 1977.

David Sancious was excited about the album he had recorded with Tone. Dance Of The Age Of Enlightenment had the potential he believed, to be a career defining album that featured ambitious and innovative music. That may have been the case, but Epic didn’t want to release Dance Of The Age Of Enlightenment. For David Sancious and Tone this was a huge blow. He found himself  at loggerheads with Epic, and was looking for an exit route.

What David Sancious needed, was a label that would release Dance Of The Age Of Enlightenment. This wasn’t going to be easy. Word gets round the music industry, and soon, many labels would be aware that Epic had refused to release Dance Of The Age Of Enlightenment. This meant David Sancious wasn’t going to be negotiating from a power of strength. Despite this, David thought he had found a label willing to release Dance Of The Age Of Enlightenment, Arista.

The Arista label had been founded by the former Columbia Records CEO, Clive Davis. When he heard Dance Of The Age Of Enlightenment, he was keen to release the album, and offered David Sancious and Tone a recording contract. He signed on the dotted line. Dance Of The Age Of Enlightenment was about to be released. Or at least so it seemed.

Executives within Arista’s A&R department weren’t so sure about Dance Of The Age Of Enlightenment. Suddenly, Arista were having second thoughts about releasing Dance Of The Age Of Enlightenment. Suddenly, Arista back-pedalling, and decided not to release the album. The A&R executives were unable to get their heads round the album. They felt it wasn’t the right album for Arista to release as David Sancious and Tone’s debut. David Sancious was backed into a corner, and there were only two possible outcomes.

The first was that Arista didn’t release Dance Of The Age Of Enlightenment. If David Sancious agreed to this, and to record a more “commercial album,” they would honour the recording contract on the table. Should David not agree to this, all bets were off. David was in between a rock and a hard place. It was obvious that Arista weren’t going to release Dance Of The Age Of Enlightenments, so it was a case of cutting his losses, and beginning work on a new album. If that was successful, maybe Arista would’ve a change of heart about Dance Of The Age Of Enlightenments?

They didn’t. It wasn’t until 2004, that somewhat belatedly Dance Of The Age Of Enlightenment was released. By then, David Sancious and Tone were no more. However, the genre-melting Dance Of The Age Of Enlightenment, where David Sancious and Tone flit between classical and jazz, to fusion and funk and even progressive rock and rock. The listener had been denied the opportunity to hear what was one of David Sancious and Tone’s most accomplished albums. Dance Of The Age Of Enlightenment might have resulted in a change in fortune for David Sancious and Tone. As it was, David decided to expand Tone to a six piece band for their fifth album, True Stories.

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True Stories.

Having made the decision to add to the lineup of David Sancious and Tone, the search began in earnest for three new band members. The first addition was lead vocalist Alex Ligertwood, who had been born in Glasgow, Scotland. He had an enviable pedigree, having been a member of The Jeff Beck Band and Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express. Alex Ligertwood sounded as if he was born to sing rock. Joining him, were two backing vocalists who were the perfect foil for Alex Ligertwood, Brenda Madison and Gail Boggs. Neither were newcomers to David Sancious and Tone. Both had made guest appearances on previous albums. This time though, they were full members of David Sancious and Tone as work began on what became True Stories.

Just like previous albums, David Sancious wrote the majority of True Stories. He penned Sound Of Love, Move On, Prelude #3, On The Inside, Fade Away, Ever The Same and Interlude. David also cowrote Matter Of Time with bassist Gerald Carboy. These songs became True Stories, which was produced by David and L.A. based, but London born producer Eddy Offord.

Having written and practised the song that would become True Stories, the newly expanded lineup of to David Sancious and Tone headed to Woodstock, where the Eddy Offord Remote Studio was situated. Eddy Offord and David would co-produce the eight songs that became True Stories. They had been arranged by David, and would feature a band playing a myriad of traditional and electronic instruments. 

Even one member of the rhythm section expanded his musical horizons on True Stories. Drummer and percussionist Ernest Carter would add a bell tree, gong, handclaps, tambourine, timbales and tone bender. Ernest’s partner in the rhythm section, was bassist Gerald Carboy. David Sancious played synths, Hammond organ, bass, crotales, finger cymbals, piano, tambourine and added handclaps. Lead vocalist Alex Ligertwood played finger cymbals and added handclaps. Augmenting Alex’s vocals were backing vocalists Brenda Madison and Gail Boggs. The new lineup of David Sancious and Tone, guided by new co-producer set about recording an album that stayed true to the group’s principles, but would meet the approval of Arista.

The result was True Stories, which was completed in 1978. It was scheduled for release later that year. That was as long as the album met with the approval of Arista. Whether this had been deliberate or not, True Stories lacked the grandiose and flamboyant flourishes of previous albums. However, aided and abetted by lead vocalist Alex Ligertwood and two backing vocalists, David Sancious and Tone, continued to create music that was ambitious, groundbreaking and genre-melting. This was was in David Sancious and Tone’s musical D.N.A.

A&R executives at Arista were greeted with a very different album from Dance Of The Age Of Enlightenment. True Stories was still an album that married disparate musical genres. Everything from faux-baroque, classic rock, classical, funk, fusion, jazz and progressive rock can heard throughout True Stories. Sonically and stylistically, David Sancious and Tone had much in common with Pink Floyd, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Yes and Genesis on True Stories. It’s a complex but captivating album, which is also melodic, full of subtle hooks and features several radio friendly tracks.

Having been impressed by an album that originally started life as four suites, Arista scheduled the release of True Stories for later in 1978. It was a very different album than David Sancious envisaged. With the help of his co-producer Eddy Offord, the original concept had been rejigged into something that Arista would find acceptable, and indeed, commercial. Arista high hopes for True Stories, and believed it had the potential to transform the fortunes of David Sancious and Tone.

When critics received their copy of True Stories, they were impressed by the latest offering from the newly expanded lineup of David Sancious and Tone. It was hailed an album of ambitious music, where combined and flitted between disparate musical genres. However, the addition of Alex Ligertwood and the backing vocalists added a new dimension to David Sancious and Tone. This surely should result in commercial success coming David Sancious and Tone’s way?

Alas, it wasn’t to be. When David Sancious and Tone released True Stories in 1978, the album never even troubled the lower reaches of the US Billboard 200. The only small crumb of comfort for Arista and David Sancious and Tone was when True Stories reached number forty in the US Jazz charts. That however, was as good as it got for David Sancious and Tone. They released Move On as a single in the UK during 1978, but it failed commercially. To make matters worse, progressive rock was falling out of favour on both sides of the Atlantic. 

Despite that, David Sancious wasn’t about to turn his back on progressive rock. He had already decided to record a new album, which became Just As I Thought. However, it wasn’t credited to David Sancious and Tone. Instead, it became David Sancious’ debut solo album.

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Just As I Thought.

There was no fallout between David Sancious and Tone. Instead, the band seem to have run its course. Despite this, some members of Tone would be reunited with David once he had written his debut solo album, Just As I Thought.  

For Just As I Thought, David Sancious wrote nine new songs. Most of them, including Run, Just As I Thought, Again, The Naked 1, Valley Of The Shadow, Remember, And Then She Said and Again (Part II) were much shorter songs. Especially when compared to songs on previous albums. The longest track was Just As I Thought, Suite (For The End Of An Age), an eight minute epic, which featured David at his most creative. However, for most of Just As I Thought, the songs were shorter and found David moving towards fusion. To help him do this, was a very different band.

Joining David Sancious to record Just As I Thought was a band that was a mixture of familiar faces and new names. They made their way to Eddy Offord’s Mobile Unit in Woodstock. One of the familiar faces, was drummer and percussionist, who returned to the rhythm section. Joining him were fusion bassist Jeff Berlin, and T.M. Stevens, who would invent heavy metal funk. Each bassist played on two tracks. Adding vocals on Again and Suite (For The End Of An Age) was Kabir Ghani. Brenda Madison added choir parts to Suite (For The End Of An Age) and Again (Part II). David played acoustic and electric guitar, bass, Hammond organ, piano and synths. He also arranged Just As I Thought, and co-produced the album with Eddy Offord. Once Just As I Thought was complete, a new chapter in David’s career began.

Before that, critics and record buyers would have their say on David Sancious’ debut solo album, Just As I Thought. Critics were won over by Just As I Thought, welcoming the stylistic departure on an album where David Sancious. Just As I Thought with its move towards fusion, showed another side to David Sancious. However, he hadn’t turned his back on progressive rock, and combined this with rock, classical, jazz and even the dreamy ambient, acoustic sound of The Naked I. There was much for critics to praise on Just As I Thought. 

When Just As I Thought was released later in 1979, it only charted in the US Jazz charts, where it reached thirty-six. While this was an improvement on David Sancious and Tone’s swan-song True Stories, ultimately Just As I Thought had failed to find the audience it deserved. For everyone involved, it was a huge disappointment.

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Especially David Sancious. Just As I Thought could and should’ve been the start of a long and successful career. David Sancious was a talented multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger and producer. However, his ambitious, groundbreaking and genre-melting music was only finding an audience within the jazz community. It had been a similar case with David Sancious and Tone. Maybe that was why David Sancious decided to reinvent himself as a solo artist? Alas, it didn’t pay off.

Instead, David Sancious only released one further album for Arista, The Bridge in 1981. After that, David Sancious decided to concentrate on his work as a sideman,

For the next nineteen years, David Sancious’ time was spent working with the great and good of music. He took to the stage, and recorded with Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, Peter Gabriel, Sting, and Bruce Springsteen, Stanley Clarke and Santana. However, having worked with rock royalty for so long, this must have inspired David to return to the studio. 

In 2000, David Sancious released 9 Piano Improvisations. Two years later, this was followed in 2002 by Cinema and  Live In The Now in 2006. This meant that David Sancious’ back-catalogue now amounted to five official albums, plus the five albums David Sancious and Tone released. They’re a reminder of a truly talented musician, composer, arranger and composer, whose music is only belatedly finding the audience it so richly deserves and the man Peter Gabriel describes as: “a musician’s musician.” That has been the case for over forty years.

During that period,  David Sancious has won the praise, approval and admiration of  his contemporaries and peers.  That’s why when Eric Clapton and Peter Gabriel, to Saatana, Sting and Bruce Springsteen are looking for a keyboardist, David Sancious has been and still is, their go-to-guy. 

David Sancious-What Might Have Been.

ZACH AND GEEBAH-FOR THE LOVE OF MONEY.

Zack and Geebah– For The Love Of Money.

Label: BBE Africa.

Tabansi Records was founded in Nigeria in 1950, and filled a void when major labels like Decca and then  Philips closed the doors on their Nigerian operations. Chief (Dr) G.A.D. Tabansi, who lent his name to what would become Nigeria’s most important label, recorded artists and then pressed the records at The United African Company’s pressing plant. After that, record vans promoted the latest releases in Nigerian villages. This was just the start for Tabansi Records.

In the sixties, The United African Company decided to concentrate on importing American and European music. With very little competition, Tabansi Records was able to concentrate on local  music, which The United African Company had turned its back on. This was a big mistake.

During the seventies, Tabansi Records was the most successful Nigerian label, and its founder  Chief (Dr) G.A.D. Tabansi was one of the leading light’s of country’s thriving and vibrant music scene. He had invested in the company he had founded in, in Onitsha, Lagos, alll these years ago, which had its own studios and pressing plant. The company was going from strength-to-strength.

By the eighties, Chief (Dr) G.A.D. Tabansi was joined in the company by his son Godwin. He helped with promotion and developing the artists on the Tabansi roster. This included many of Nigeria’s young and up-and coming musicians plus some of its biggest names including reggae star Majek Fashek and Felix ‘Lover Boy’ Liberty. There were many more artists who released albums on Tabansi, including Zack and Geebah, whose album For The Love Of Money has just been reissued by BBE Africa, an imprint of BBE Music as part of their Tabansi Gold reissue project. 

For those who have yet to discover the delights of For The Love Of Money, it’s an album that features elements of Afrobeat, boogie, disco and reggae from the Liberian duo Zack and Geebah who  met in the mid-seventies.

That was when Zack Roberts and Geebah Swaray, who were both born and brought up in Liberia, first met in Monrovia. This was after businessman Tonia Williams founded the band Liberian Dreams, who released a couple of singles. After that, the group moved to Abidjan seeking further musical opportunities.

Back  home in Liberia, there was a coup in 1980, and rather than risk heading home, Zack and Geebah made their way to Nigeria where they worked as session musicians. These sessions led to their debut album For The Love Of Money, which was released on Tabansi in 1980, and straight away, was a huge commercial success across West Africa. 

Despite its success in 1980, For The Love Of Money is now a rarity which nowadays, changes hands for large sums of  money. Collectors want to hear an album where the six tracks on For The Love Of Money feature elements of Afrobeat, boogie, disco and reggae. Its a heady and tantalising brew.

Opening the album is  No Peace No Love, the first or two slices of classic boogie. The other is the title-track For The Love Of Money. They’re joined by the soulful sounding My Luck Will Shine and Home Is Home, a carefully crafted fusion of funk and reggae that hints at Toots and The Maytals. It gives way to one of the album’s highlights, Take It Easy which has an island funk influence. Then Rock To The Music which sounds like an instruction closes the album on  a resounding high. 

Zack and Geebah’s 1980 debut For The Love Of Money is a dancefloor friendly, funky and soulful and literarily oozes quality. It’s also album that is a reminder of the quality of music that Tabansi released during their eighties’ heyday. During the eighties, Tabansi with Chief (Dr) G.A.D. Tabansi was Nigeria’s premier label. The label had the uncanny knack of being able to spot and develop talent like Zack and Geebah whose 1980 debut album For The Love Of Money was one of the finest albums released on Tabansi in the early eighties and nowadays, is regarded as a classic. 

Zack and Geebah– For The Love Of Money.

REGGIE YOUNG: SESSION PLAYER TO THE STARS.

Reggie Young: Session Player To The Stars.

There aren’t many musicians whose career spans seven decades and get to work with the great and good of music including Elvis Presley, JJ Cale, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Neil Diamond and Dusty Springfield. They’re just a few of the musicians that Reggie Young has worked with during his long and illustrious career. His story began in  1936. 

The Reggie Young story began in Caruthersville, Missouri on December ’12th’ 1936, but he spent the first for teen years of his life in Osceola, an hour from Memphis. In his early teenage years, Reggie got a job bagging groceries. Little did he know at the time, that this would be his only job in ‘civvy’ street. The rest of his life would be spent making music. 

Things changed for Reggie Young when his family moved to Memphis in 1950 when his father Reggie Sr, got a job as a bookkeeper. For his first Christmas in Memphis, fourteen year old Reggie got his very first guitar. Now there were two guitarists in the Young household.

Reggie’s father already played Hawaiian guitar, and was a talented player, who would influence Reggie. He had already taught himself how to play lead guitar, through a scratch built amplifier a neighbour had built, when he decided to take some lessons. After one lesson which Reggie spent playing Three Blind Mice, he decided guitar lessons weren’t for him. Instead, he continued to teach himself, and knew that he could always his father, who would in some ways, would influence his playing style.

By then, Chet Atkins was the main influence on Reggie as his playing style developed. Later, his father’s playing style would influence Reggie and he would incorporate some of the  Hawaiian legato phrasing he had watched his father use. This would become one of Reggie’s trademarks. That would come later.

Having left high school, where Reggie was a couple of years ahead of Steve Cropper and Donald “Duck” Dunn, he embarked upon a career as a session musician. His first session was accompanying singing hairdresser Tommy Smith. That day, Reggie laid down a memorable solo on Magic Girl. This opened doors for Reggie around town.

Soon, other musicians were talking about this eighteen your old kid who had laid down the lead guitar solo during the Tommy Smith session. Reggie started accompanying Eddie Boyd at a weekly gig at the Eagle’s Nest. For Reggie, this was valuable experience as he honed his chops

In 1955, Reggie featured on  a single by Barney Burcham that was released on the Rodeo label. By then, Reggie and Jack Clement had started playing a weekly gig at the Kennedy Veteran’s Hospital For Incurables. However, Jack Clement was also a partner in Fernwood Records, and recorded a session with Reggie. The single much to Reggie’s relief was never released.

Not long after this, Reggie who was then into rock ’n’ roll, cut his debut single Rockin’ Daddy, which opened with Reggie’s  oft-copied guitar lick. The single gave Reggie a regional hit, and Elvis’ first manager Bob Neal booked him to appear on a package tour. Reggie headed out on tour with Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison and Johnny Horton. When the tour stopped off in Nashville, Eddie Boyd cut his sophomore single and Reggie played on his first union session. By then of the day, he was $41.25 richer. However, by the end of the tour, Reggie had a new job.

During the tour, Johnny Horton and his guitarist had a disagreement, and Reggie took over the role. At the end of the tour, Reggie moved to Shreveport, Louisiana, where Johnny Horton lived and was based. While Johnny Horton wasn’t the most successful musician that Reggie would ever work with, he gained a wealth of experience during his time with in his band. This came to an end in 1958 when Reggie was told he was about to be drafted.

After leaving Johnny Horton’s band, Reggie headed home to Memphis awaiting the letter every young man dreaded…the draft. It never arrived and Reggie joined Bill Black’s Combo. 

The new group headed to a new studio Royal Recording which was owned by Hi Records. On the Bill Black Combo’s first session, Reggie’s guitar played an important part in the sound and success of the instrumental that would become their first single, Smokie Pt. 1. When it was released, it reached number seventeen on the US Billboard 100 and number one on the US R&B charts. By then, Reggie had been drafted.

Still, he managed to join the rest of the Bill Black Combo when they made two appearances on the Dick Clark Show. With the permission of his company commander, Reggie played a thirty-one date tour with the Bill Black Combo. After that, he joined up with the rest of his unit to undergo basic training. 

Whilst his unit were doing their basic training in Ethiopia, the royalties for Smokie Pt. 1 were mounting up. Reggie had received a co-composer’s credit for his guitar part, instead of a session fee. This was a wise move for Reggie, and by the time his eighteen months service was over, he returned to the Bill Black Combo.

They continued to enjoy a string of hit singles right up until 1964. However, in 1964 Bill Black sold the name to the Bill Black Combo, and left the group. This meant that the founder wasn’t a member of the group that opened for The Beatles on their first American tour. By then, he was the only remaining member of the Bill Black Combo. The tour with The Beatles was an eye-opener, and Reggie met The Kinks and The Yarbirds. He hit it off with Eric Clapton, who shared Reggie’s love of the blues. However, as 1964 drew to a close, Reggie knew that the times they were a changing.

In 1965, Reggie’s tour of duty with the Bill Black Combo was over. Founder member Bill Black had been ill for eighteen months, and died on October ‘21st’ 1965, aged just thirty-nine. By then, music was changing and sadly, the Bill Black Combo were seen as part of music’s past.

Rock ’n’ roll was regarded as part of music’s past. The future was rock, which was seen as music’s future. Meanwhile, Reggie decided to return to working as a session musician.

After being part of a successful band for seven years, many musicians might have regarded this as a comedown. However, for Reggie Young it was the start of a new chapter. He started playing on Hi Records’ recording studio Royal Recording in 1965. For the next two years, Reggie’s guitar could be heard on singles bearing the Hi Records’ logo. However, in 1967 Reggie was on the move.

Next stop for Reggie Young was Chips Moman’s American Sound Studios, in Memphis. He started work at American Sound Studios in 1967, and one of his earliest sessions was on James Carr’s classic Dark End Of The Street. This was the first of many hit singles that Reggie would play on at American Sound Studios. 

Before long, Chips Moman decided to put together the American Sound Studios Band a.k.a. the Memphis Boys, who were one of the best studio bands of the late-sixties and early seventies. Reggie became the lead guitarist in the lead guitarist in, the Memphis Boys who were a truly prolific band. Over the next five years, the Memphis Boys worked with the great and good of music, and played on 120 hit singles. This includes Elvis Presley’s Suspicious Minds and In The Ghetto. However, by 1970 Chips Moman and Reggie had fallen out, and their relationship was never the same. Not long after this, things started to change at American Sound Studios.

Chips Moman made a decision to leave Memphis, and start over in Atlanta. Despite the fresh start, it was almost inevitable that Reggie would leave the Memphis Boys, and move on to pastures new. What surprised some people was that it took until 1972.

Having packed his bags, Reggie left Atlanta, en route to Memphis. For some reason, he decided to stop at Nashville and catchup with two old friends from Muscle Shoals, David Briggs and Norbert Putnam, who owned Quadraphonic Studio. They listened as Reggie recalled his departure from American Sound Studios. When he was finished, David Briggs asked Reggie: “you wanna work some?” When Reggie answer yes, a new chapter in his career began.

Nashville became his home, and he has lived and worked there ever since. One of the first sessions he played on in Nashville, was on Dobie Gray’s Drift Away. When it was released in 1972 it reached number five on the US Billboard 100, forty-two in the US R&B charts and was certified gold. The song rejuvenated Dobie Gray’s ailing career, and in the process, introduced Reggie to Nashville.

For the majority of the time, Reggie was playing country music, and this required him to change his playing style. Reggie was by then a versatile and talented guitarist, and seamlessly adjusted to country music. However, in 1973, Reggie returned to Memphis for one special session.

Reggie Young became part of the band that featured on Elvis Presley’s Stax sessions. By then, the King was no longer the singer he had encountered during the American Studio Sessions. He was surrounded by yes men and hangers-on, who hadn’t the courage to tell Elvis that the songs he was about to record weren’t good enough. Despite this, Reggie and his band gave their all, while Elvis phoned in some of the songs. As a result, it would be forty years before Elvis At Stax was released in 2013.

After working with Elvis at Stax, Reggie returned to Nashville, where he was one of the top session players. That was why Chips Moman came calling in 1977. By then, Chips Moman, had a studio in Nashville, and wanted Reggie to play on the session for Waylon Jennings’ 1977 single Luckenbach, Texas (Back To The Basics Of Love). Reggie agreed and seemed to have the Midas touch. When the single was released later in 1977, it gave Waylon Jennings the biggest hit of his career so far. For Reggie, it was yet another hit he had played on.

He continued to play on sessions until things changed in the late seventies. Many of the Outlaws, including Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson started to bring their touring bands to play on recording sessions. For many session musicians this meant a huge drop in income. However, Reggie decided that if you can’t beat them, join them. He joined Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson’s bands when they headed out on tour.

On his first tour with an Outlaw, Reggie lost was the only person who lost money. The session work he had turned down, came to more than he received for the tour. It was an expensive lesson, and one that Reggie never made again. After that, he divided his time between touring and session work.

One of the most memorable tours came in 1990, when Reggie headed out on tour with the country supergroup The Highwaymen. With a lineup that featured Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson it was one of the concert tours of 1990. So popular were The Highwaymen, that they released a studio album The Road Goes On Forever in 1994. Reggie played on the album, and five years later, became joined Waylon Jennings’ band.

Although Reggie would spent much of his time doing session work, he still found time to tour with Waylon Jennings. Reggie joined the band in 1999, and was with the band right until Waylon Jennings played his final concert in 2002. The last song they played that night, was Drift Away, which featured just Waylon Jennings and Reggie Young. Sadly, on February ’13th’ 2002, Waylon Jennings passed away aged just sixty-five. That day, Reggie lost a good friend, who he had known for a long time.

By then, Reggie was sixty-six and showing no sign of slowing down. Over the next few years, he played sessions on albums by some of the biggest names in country music. He joined Glen Campbell, Hank Williams, George Strait, Dolly Parton and Kenny Rodgers in the studio. Still, he continued to play on hit singles and successful albums. However, as the years went by, there was still one thing that Reggie Young had to do…record a debut album.

Eventually, Reggie decided the time was right to record his debut album. Reggie wrote seven new songs, and put together a band that features some top musicians. This includes his old friend from the Memphis Boys, David Hood. He played bass on four of the seven songs that were recorded in his home studio. One of the other musicians that played on Forever Young was cellist Jenny Lynn Hollowell, who Reggie Young married in 1999. They’ve lived in Leipers Fork, in mid-Tennessee, where Reggie has a home studio. That was where Forever Young was recorded. It showcases a truly talented and versatile veteran guitarist.

Somewhat belatedly, Reggie Young released his debut album Forever Young in 2017, and by then, he was eighty-one. By then, he had spent the last seven decades working as a professional musician. For most of his career, Reggie Young has been working with the great and good of music. That is no surprise, as he was one of the top guitarists in Memphis, Atlanta and for the last forty-five years, Nashville. Year after year was spent touring and recording, and as a result,  Reggie Young never found the time to record an album. Instead, Reggie Young, the guitarist’s guitarist, was content to be a sideman, the hired gun who helped make others sound good during a long and illustrious career, where he’s showcased his considerable talent and versatility on countless albums or on the road with some of the giants of country music..

Reggie Young: Session Player To The Stars.

 

BEN JAGGA-HOLD ON PRETTY WOMAN.

Ben Jagga-Hold On Pretty Woman.

Label: BBE Africa.

Nowadays, every third rate, regional bar band has delusions of becoming the next Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple or Black Sabbath, and spend their days dreaming of fame and fortune. Alas, these poor deluded fools shouldn’t give up their day job and should stick to pumping gas and parking cars because they usually lack one important thing…talent.  

Meanwhile,  many talented artists have released albums that through no fault of their own, never found the wider audience that they deserved. This includes Shuggie Otis, Nick Drake, Linda Perhacs and even the likes of John Martyn,  Tom Waits, Andy Bey and Jon Lucien. To these names add Nigerian singer, songwriter and arranger Ben Jagga, who released  the West African boogie classic Hold On Pretty Woman.

Original copies of Hold On Pretty Woman are much prized amongst afficianados of boogie nowadays,  but comes at a price. Sadly, it’s a price that nowadays, is beyond most record collectors. That was until now, and BBE Africa’s lovingly curated reissue of Ben Jagga’s Hold On Pretty Woman which is part of their Tabansi Gold reissue project. It’s the first ever reissue of this much-loved West African boogie classic.

The story begins when Nigerian singer, songwriter and arranger Ben Jagga wrote the eight tracks that would eventually become his debut album Hold On Pretty Woman. It was the only album that he would release as a solo artist, although he was a member of  Cloud 7 and The Ice Cream. However, Ben Jagga’s best known album is Hold On Pretty Woman.

It was recorded and produced by Ephraim Nzeka of Brother To Brother at Tabansi Recording Studios. Joining Ben Jagga was a band who are responsible for tight, understated arrangements. It consisted of just drums, bass, guitar and keyboards. Adding backing vocalists was a who’s who of artists signed to the of Tabansi label. Added backing vocals were Bummy Olajubu, Judith Ezekoka, Zak Roberts, Eric Kol and Nkem Njoku. Once the album was recorded, Martin Ikebuaku,  who worked for all of the major Nigerian record labels, and is regarded as one of the architects of the  West African boogie sound. This included several classics, including Hold On Pretty Woman which was released by Tabansi and marks the debut of Ben Jagga.

Sadly, when Ben Jagga’s debut album Hold On Pretty Woman was released,  it wasn’t a huge commercial success. It was a familiar story, in that it wasn’t until much later when DJs and record collectors picked up copies of Hold On Pretty Woman did they realise that this hidden gem was in fact, a West African boogie classic. 

Opening with the title-track Hold On Pretty Woman which is a joyous, funky slice of boogie and sets the bar high.  You’re The Light Of My Life is a heartfelt soulful ballad, which gives way to the heartachingly beautiful  Let’s Vow We’ll Never Part where gospel and soul melt into one. You’re My Reason For Living is a gorgeous  paean, while Aliyenju is a fusion of boogie and roots reggae of Aliyenju. Just Forgive and Forget has an understated arrangement that allows the vocal to take centre-stage, while It’s You Forever is another irresistible slice of West African boogie. Closing Hold On Pretty Woman is an adaptation of the nursery rhyme Jack and Jill,  which is given a musical makeover and heads in the direction of what’s best described as Brit Pop. It brings to a close this West African boogie classic.

Ben Jagga never released a followup to Hold On Pretty Womanwich is much prized amongst collectors of boogie. That is no surprise as it’s an album that oozes quality.  Hold On Pretty Woman features eight tracks that are funky, soulful and dancefloor friendly and there’s no doubt that this oft-overlooked hidden gem from Ben Jagga is a West African boogie classic.

Ben Jagga-Hold On Pretty Woman.

ALAN PRICE AND THE ANIMALS’ GOLDEN YEARS: 1964-1969.

Alan Price and The Animals’ Golden Years: 1964-1969.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Animals.

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

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

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

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

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Animal Tracks.

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

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

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

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

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

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The Animals On Tour.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Animalization.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Animalisms (US Version).

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

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

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

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

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

Eric Burdon and The Animals.

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

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

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

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

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

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Winds Of Change.

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

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

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

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

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

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The Twain Shall Meet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Every One of Us.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Love Is.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Never again, would The Animals reunite. This time, it really  was the end of the road for one of the most successful and influential of the British Invasion bands. While their two comeback albums were a reminder of what The Animals were capable of, The Animals released the finest music of  their career during their golden years between 1964 and 1969.

Alan Price and The Animals’ Golden Years: 1964-1969.

THE INCREDIBLE STRING BAND-1966-1969: THE INCREDIBLE STRNG BAND TO ChANGING HORSES

The Incredible String Band-1966-1969: The Incredible String Band To Changing Horses

Robin Williamson and Clive Palmer first played together at the Crown Bar, Edinburgh, in 1963 where Archie Fisher hosted a weekly folk night, and two years later, in 1965, Joe Boyd, who was then working as an A&R man for Elektra Records first saw the Incredible String Band. Joe Boyd would later play an important part in the Incredible String Band story. However, before that, two became three.

Later in 1965, Robin Williamson and Clive Palmer decided that The Incredible String Band should become a trio. They decided that they needed someone to fill out their sound, and started looking for a rhythm guitarist. Before long, Robin Williamson and Clive Palmer were joined by Mike Heron, and the as unnamed band donned the moniker The Incredible String Band. This was the final piece of the jigsaw, and was the lineup of The Incredible String Band that Joe Boyd saw when he reentered the band’s world a year later.

By 1966, The Incredible String Band were the house band at Clive’s Incredible Folk Club, which was based on the fourth floor of a building on Sauchiehall Street, in Glasgow, Scotland’s musical capital. One night, Joe Boyd made his way to Clive’s Incredible Folk Club. He was a man with a mission and was determined to sign The Incredible String Band. 

Elektra Records had heard about The Incredible String Band, and wanted to sign them. They were, after all, predominately, a folk label and it made sense to sign The Incredible String Band to their roster. There was only one problem though, another label was interested in the Incredible String Band, Transatlantic Records. However, Joe Boyd managed to sign the Incredible String Band and took them into the studio in May 1966.

The Incredible String Band.

To record their eponymous debut album, Joe Boyd took the Incredible String Band into the Sound Techniques’ studio in London. Joe Boyd would produce The Incredible String Band which  featured a total of sixteen songs. They were a mixture of original and traditional songs. On these songs, the Incredible String Band deployed an eclectic selection of instruments. Guitars, fiddles, a mandolin, kazoo, violin and tin whistle featured on The Incredible String Band, which was completed in June 1966.

On its release, on ‘20th’ July 1966, The Incredible String Band was well received by critics. It featured a much more traditional sound than later Incredible String Band albums. There was no sign of the psychedelic sound that featured on later albums. That was still to come. In 1966, the Incredible String Band were still a traditional folk group and a popular one at that.

The Incredible String Band reached number thirty-four in the UK charts, where it spent three weeks. Considering it was The Incredible String Band’s debut album for Elektra Records this was seen as a success, and something to build on. However, just when things seemed to be going to plan for The Incredible String Band, sadly, things went awry.

After recording The Incredible String Band, the band split-up. Clive Palmer decided to head off on the hippie trail to Afghanistan and India. Robin Williamson and his girlfriend also caught the travel bug and headed to Morocco. Only Mike Heron remained in Edinburgh, where he hooked up with Rock Bottom and The Deadbeats. With the Incredible String Band looking like history, it looked as if Mike Heron’s future lay with Rock Bottom and The Deadbeats. However, that wasn’t the case, when The Incredible String Band decided to reform.

Robin Williamson returned from Morocco after running out of money. However, he brought back an eclectic selection of musical Moroccan instruments which would feature on later Incredible String Band albums.

Clive Palmer and Robin Williamson decided that The Incredible String Band should reform, but only as a duo. This was essentially The Incredible String Band Mk II. 

They made their debut on a tour in November 1966, where The Incredible String Band, who were now a duo, supported Judy Collins and Tom Paxton. After the tour,  The Incredible String Band had an award to collect. 

Their debut album The Incredible String Band won the Folk Album Of The Year in Melody Maker’s 1966 annual poll. By then, The Incredible String Band was well-regarded among their musical peers. Bob Dylan referred to October Song as one of his favourite songs of the mid-sixties in an interview in Sing Out magazine. With the Incredible String Band reforming, this was spurred them on to greater heights. 

The 5000 Spirits Or The Layers Of The Onion.

Buoyed by winning the Folk Album Of The Year Award, and the praise of Bob Dylan ringing in their ears, the Incredible String Band set about writing and recording their sophomore album. Unlike many bands, the Incredible String Band didn’t write together. When they were apart, this was when they wrote their new songs. This was the case with their sophomore album The 5000 Spirits Or The Layers Of The Onion. Clive Palmer and Robin Williamson contributed seven songs each and they became The 5000 Spirits Or The Layers Of The Onion.

Reduced to a duo, The Incredible String Band brought onboard a number of guest musicians. This included Pentangle double bassist Danny Thompson, pianist Jon Hopkins and Soma, who played sitar and tamboura. Licorice McKechnie, who was Robin William’s girlfriend, made her Incredible String Band debut contributing percussion and adding vocals. Just like on The Incredible String Band, Joe Boyd took charge of production on The 5000 Spirits Or The Layers Of The Onion, which was completed early in 1967. When it was released, it marked a change in The Incredible String Band’s sound.

The 5000 Spirits Or The Layers Of The Onion marked the start of The Incredible String Band’s psychedelic folk era. However, mostly, The 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion drew upon traditional British folk music. What was apparent was that Robin Williamson and Mike Heron had honed The Incredible String Band’s sound and matured and evolved as musicians. They were now talented multi-instrumentalists who could seamlessly switch between traditional and exotic instruments that played their part in the sound and success of The 5000 Spirits Or The Layers Of The Onion.

Critics on hearing The Incredible String Band’s sophomore album, realised that Robin Williamson and Mike Heron were both talented songwriters. Their songs were cerebral and full of imagery and mystery. There was also a psychedelic hue to The 5000 Spirits Or The Layers Of The Onion. This fusion of the traditional and psychedelic, found favour amongst critics and music lovers.

When The 5000 Spirits Or The Layers Of The Onion was released in July 1967, it seemed to typify the underlying counter-culture. It struck a nerve with critics and music lovers. Critics hailed The 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion as an eclectic and innovative album that found The Incredible String Band picking up where the left with their eponymous debut album.

With its eclectic, genre-melting style The 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion appealed to a wide range of record buyers, and soon, the album was climbing the UK charts. Eventually, it reached number twenty-five in the UK charts, where it spent five weeks. Gradually, the Incredible String Band’s popularity was growing, and it seemed as if the band was on the verge of greatness.

The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter

That proved to be the case.  1968 was the to be the biggest year of The Incredible String Band’s nascent career. They released two albums, including The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter, which was their first album of 1968.

For The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter, Robin Williamson wrote seven songs while Mike Heron penned just three songs. The Incredible String Band had decided that The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter wasn’t going to be sprawling album. Their two previous albums featured sixteen and fourteen songs. This time, only ten songs featured, and with Robin Williamson and Mike Heron concentrating on quality, this marked a coming of age for The Incredible String Band.

With Joe Boyd producing The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter, the Incredible String Band entered the studio in December 1967. This time round, Robin Williamson and Mike Heron played most of the instruments on The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter. They were joined by Licorice McKechnie, who was with the Incredible String Band until 1972. Other musicians were drafted in on an ad hoc basis. This included Fairport Convention’s Judy Dyble and Richard Thompson, who played piano on The Minotaur’s Song. During the recording sessions, The Incredible String Band made use of the new multi-track tape recorders, which meant they were able to layer instruments on top of each other. For the Incredible String Band, this was a departure from their “usual sound.” It worked though, and played its part in what was the Incredible String Band’s Magnus Opus.

Released in March 1968, The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter represented, promoted and epitomised the hippie ideal. This included Eastern mysticism, communal living and rational pantheism. The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter was a cerebral and beautiful album which featured songs that were dreamy, ethereal, cerebral and surreal. Especially The Minotaur’s Song, which is essentially a parodic song that is sung from the Minotaur’s perspective, and has been influenced by the British musical hall. Very different is A Very Cellular Song, which is a thirteen minute epic that is a reflective and thoughtful song that poses a series of big questions on life, love, and amoebas. Just like the rest of The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter, The Incredible String Band fuse disparate musical genres. Mostly though, their unique brand of progressive, psychedelic folk shines through. This found an audience on both sides of the Atlantic.

Released to widespread critical acclaim, The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter reached number five in the UK, where it spent twenty-one weeks in the charts. This was The Incredible String Band’s most successful UK album. The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter became the Incredible String Band’s first album to chart in the US. It reached number 161 in the US Billboard 200. Having spent nine weeks in the US Billboard 200, The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter the Incredible String Band was nominated for a Grammy Award. It seemed  the Incredible String Band was going places.

Wee Tam and The Big Huge.

Having just released the most successful album of their career, The Incredible String Band were one of the most successful British groups of the late-sixties. They were capable of filling the biggest venues in Britain, and were just as popular across the Atlantic in America. The Incredible String Band was capable of selling out both the Filmore East in New York and the Filmore West in San Francisco. This was something only a small number of British bands could do. However, The Incredible String Band’s star was in the ascendancy and they were a popular draw after the released of their third album The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter. It was a game-changer, and broke The Incredible String Band in America. Later, in 1968, they tried to do the same with Wee Tam and The Big Huge.

Wee Tam and The Big Huge was without doubt, the most ambitious album of The Incredible String Band’s career. It was released as a double-album in the UK and as two individual albums, Wee Tam and The Big Huge, in America. This meant that Robin Williamson and Mike Heron had been busy.

On their return from the latest gruelling tour, members of The Incredible String Band and their entourages lived together in Newport, in  eight cottages that cottages that had been joined togetherThis communal living was typical of the time, and was where the eighteen tracks that became Wee Tam and The Big Huge were written. Robin Williamson penned ten songs and Mike Heron the other eight tracks. When Wee Tam and The Big Huge was recorded at Sound Techniques studio, in Chelsea it would be with their usual eclectic selection of instruments and their two girlfriends Licorice McKechnie and Rose Simpson.

Joe Boyd, who had produced the Incredible String Band’s three previous albums would produce Wee Tam and The Big Huge. This time, Joe Body decided that The Incredible String Band should be recorded as a group, rather than overdubbing parts later. Given time was short, for The Incredible String Band this seemed a risky decision as recording of Wee Tam and The Big Huge began in April 1968. It could’ve backfired, but Joe Boyd wanted to capture the essence of the Incredible String Band live.

Given the variety of instruments Robin Williamson and Mike Heron played on Wee Tam and The Big Huge, some overdubbing was necessary. Unlike previous albums, no guest artists featured on Wee Tam and The Big Huge. Instead, only Licorice McKechnie and Rose Simpson, Robin Williamson and Mike Hero’s respective girlfriends featured on Wee Tam and The Big Huge. Rose Simpson’s voice was used to balance out the role of Licorice McKechnie, ion an album that saw The Incredible String Band combine elements of British and American influences. By August 1968, The Incredible String Band had completed recording of  Wee Tam and The Big Huge, such was released later in 1968.

November 1968 saw the release of Wee Tam and The Big Huge which was the much-anticipated followup to The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter. However, The Incredible String Band knew that The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter was a hard act to follow. It was the greatest album of their career, so rather record The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter Mk. II, Wee Tam and The Big Huge was a very different album. 

Eclectic describes Wee Tam and The Big Huge which is an album of disparate influences. Similarly, a verity of different instruments were used, and even the arrangements differ from previous albums. By then, Robin Williamson and Mike Heron were influencing the arrangements to  each other’s songs. This was a new development, but by then, the internal politics of the group and its dynamics had changed. Despite this, Wee Tam and The Big Huge was another ambitious and cerebral album from The Incredible String Band. The themes included mythology, religion, awareness and identity, on what was the first album from The Incredible String Band as a four piece band.

Critics appreciated this change of direction from the new lineup of The Incredible String Band, and recognised that Wee Tam and The Big Huge was another ambitious release. The addition of Rose Simpson had given The Incredible String Band a much more balanced sound on Wee Tam and The Big Huge. It was an album that The Incredible String Band should be able to replicate live critics noted. However, the only problem was that Wee Tam and The Big Huge didn’t fare well commercially.

Wee Tam and The Big Huge was released as a double album in Britain in November 1968, but incredibly failed to chart. This was a huge surprise for The Incredible String Band, producer Joe Boyd and executives at Elektra Records. They could only hope that Wee Tam and The Big Huge would fare better upon their released in America.

Four months later, Wee Tam and The Big Huge were released as separate albums in March 1969. Wee Tam reached number 174 in the US Billboard 200 and The Big Huge stalled at just number 180 in the US Billboard 200. After spending just three weeks in the charts, both albums disappeared. This was yet another disappointment for the members of The Incredible String Band, producer Joe Boyd and executives at Elektra Records.

Despite its lack of commercial success, Wee Tam and The Big Huge is nowadays regarded as one  of the best albums that The Incredible String Band released. However, for The Incredible String Band Wee Tam and The Big Huge was regarded as the album that got away. It should’ve been a commercial success, but slipped under the musical radar. This was a disappointment for The Incredible String Band who wouldn’t release another album until November 1969.

In 1969, the Incredible String Band hit the road, and embarked upon what was a gruelling touring schedule. During this period, the Incredible String Band continued to live communally in a farmhouse in Newport, Pembrokeshire. It was also during this time, that The Incredible String Band became interested in mixed media, which was something that would later influence their music. However, in 1969, touring was what kept them busy. 

The Woodstock Music and Art Fair.

The Incredible String Band’s most high-profile performance took place at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair which took place between the ‘15th’ and ‘17th’ of August 1969. By then, The Incredible String Band were one of the biggest and most successful folk bands in the world. That’s why they were booked to play at Woodstock in 1969.

Rain delayed the Incredible String Band’s performance at Woodstock. They were due to play at 10.50pm on Friday ‘15th’ August 1969. This was when all the other folk acts were due to play. The Incredible String Band were due to follow Ravi Shankar, However, as Ravi Shankar played, the heavens opened. This presented a problem for The Incredible String Band, who refused to take to the stage. Realising that The Incredible String Band were one of the biggest folk bands of the day, their performance was rescheduled. Melanie was called in as a last-minute replacement for The Incredible String Band and they took to the stage the following day. 

Between 6.00-6.30pm on Saturday the ‘15th’ August 1969, the Incredible String Band took to the stage, following Keef Hartley. From the moment that The Incredible String Band took to the stage, they played a starring role in the Woodstock Festival. They had the audience in the palm of their hands. Following their appearance at the Woodstock Festival, The Incredible String Band kept on touring. 

Two weeks after playing a starring role at the Woodstock Festival, The Incredible String Band found themselves in Texas for the Labor Day Weekend. That was when the Texas International Pop Festival was held at the Dallas International Motor Speedway. The Incredible String Band played on Sunday the ‘30th’ August 1969. However, their performance didn’t match their appearance at the Woodstock  Festival which disappointed the members of The Incredible String Band. However, they had to put this behind them, as they an album to release in three months time, Changing Horses.

Changing Horses.

In November 1969, The Incredible String Band were preparing to release their fifth album Changing Horses. By then, much had changed over the last few months for The Incredible String Band and especially Robin Williamson and Mike Heron.

Robin Williamson and Mike Heron had split from their respective girlfriends and moved from Newport to Innerleithen, in Peeblesshire, Scotland. This became the new headquarters for The Incredible String Band.

While The Incredible String Band had performed as a quartet on Wee Tam and The Big Huge, the only two full-time members of the band were Robin Williamson and Mike Heron. However, despite the breakup of their relationships, Robin Williamson and Mike Heron confirmed that Licorice McKechnie and Rose Simpson were now full-time members of The Incredible String Band. This wasn’t the only change that occurred. 

Recently, The Incredible String Band had fully embraced the controversial cult-like Church Of Scientology. They had been “believers” since the autumn of 1968, when they dined with producer Joe Boyd after a sellout show in New York. That night, Joe Boyd happened to mention that the manager of the restaurant they were dining in had turned his life around since he last seen him. This transformation the manager claimed was down to his recent  conversion to the Church Of Scientology. Having told the story, Joe Boyd finished his meal and then left the restaurant to head off on a business trip to California. Little did Joe Boyd realise the consequences of his story.

In Joe Boyd’s absence, The Incredible String Band approached the band’s US agent wanting the payments that they were owed for the mini tour of the East Coast. When the US agent phoned Joe Boyd before paying the money to The Incredible String Band, he decided to find out what the band wanted the money for? 

Joe Boyd struggled to contact any of the members of The Incredible String Band, who had checked out of the Chelsea Hotel. By then, Joe Boyd was wondering why The Incredible String Band needed any money as he had given the band an allowance before leaving for California. Eventually, though, Joe Boyd got through to Licorice McKechnie, who explained they needed the money to pay for some “courses” with the Church Of Scientology. This was just a day after Joe Boyd had mentioned the Church Of Scientology. Had they working quickly on their latest potential converts, who just so happened to be high-profile and relatively wealthy musicians?

When Joe Boyd returned the next day, he was met by the four members of The Incredible String Band who were determined that he should write them a cheque for the “courses.” After questioning the group, it turned out that after Joe Boyd left the restaurant, the manager began his pitch on how the Church Of Scientology had transformed his life. The next day, the same restaurant  manager invited the four members of The Incredible String Band to its New York “celebrity centre.” By the end of the evening, Robin Williamson and Licorice McKechnie had been converted.

Joe Boyd was reluctant to write the cheques there and then, and managed to convince Mike Heron and Rose Simpson to think things over. They agreed and headed home to Britain, but before long they too had been caught in the Church Of Scientology’s thrall.

Mike Heron’s account differs slightly, and claims that his conversion to the Church Of Scientology came after reading a book on self-improvement. After reading the book, he decided to embrace the Church Of Scientology “philosophies.”

After embracing the controversial and secretive Church Of Scientology, The Incredible String Band’s concerts began to change. It’s claimed that the concerts took on a much more communal and friendlier than before their “conversion.” That wasn’t the only change.

The other thing that changed was The Incredible String Band’s attitude to money. After joining the Church Of Scientology the band began to have weekly meetings to discuss their finances. Despite their newfound spirituality. money began to play an increasingly important role in The Incredible String Band’s lives. Already the members of The Incredible String Band were changing due to their dalliance with the Church Of Scientology, and this would affect their music and lifestyle.

After Robin Williamson and Mike Heron’s conversion to the Church Of Scientology the pair gave up drugs, which previously had been part of their lives. Mike Heron alludes to their decision in White Bird, which was one of two tracks he contributed to Changing Horses. The other was Sleepers Awake!, while Mike Heron and Robin Williamson wrote Dust Be Diamonds. Robin Williamson’s contributions to Changing Horses were Big Ted, Mr. and Mrs and Creation. These six tracks would become Changing Horses, The Incredible String Band’s fifth album.

Recording of Changing Horses had to fit round The Incredible String Band’s touring schedule, but much of recording took place over the summer of 1969, at Sound Techniques studio in London, and at Elektra Records studio in New York. By then, the members of The Incredible String Band were different people from. They now spent time studying spirituality and philosophy, and self-analysing as part of their conversion to conversion to the Church Of Scientology. Their newfound religious belief meant that drugs were a thing of the past for The Incredible String Band during the recording of Changing Horses which marked a series of changes.

The first was that The Incredible String Band started to move from psychedelic folk to a new British folk rock sound and even a hint of the progressive rock influences. Joe Boyd started to be more flexible when it came to the band’s creative process, and very rarely chose to intervene. This allowed The Incredible String Band to develop new ideas. By then Licorice McKechnie and Rose Simpson were playing a more active roles in the band. Licorice McKechnie played the guitar and organ on some tracks, while Rose Simpson’s Simpson’s bass featured on each track on Changing Horses. Just like on previous albums, Robin Williamson and Mike Heron played their usual mixture of traditional and exotic instruments and shared lead vocals. They were no longer as close as they once were, and there was a friction between them. However, by the end of the summer of 1969, the recording of Changing Horses was completed. However, two songs dominated the album, with White Bird and Creation taking up thirty of the fifty minutes on Changing Horses. This was a first for The Incredible String Band.

In October 1969, The Incredible String Band released an edited version of Big Ted as a single. However, it failed to chart, which was disappointment for The Incredible String Band. They had never been a singles band, and were known for the four albums they had released. Soon, four would become five. Before that, the critics had their say on Changing Horses.

Critics on hearing Changing Horses were surprised that The Incredible String Band had moved away from their trademark psychedelic folk sound. It was another eclectic album that marked the start of a new chapter in The Incredible String Band’s career.

On the release of Changing Horses in November 1969, it reached number thirty in the UK. However, after a week, Changing Horses disappeared from the charts. Over the Atlantic, Changing Horses stalled at just 166 in the US Billboard 200. Three weeks later, it disappeared from the charts. This was a disappointment for The Incredible String Band who had starred at the Woodstock Festival just three months earlier.

Having triumphed at Woodstock, The Incredible String Band must have been hoping that Changing Horses would see the band  build on their two critically acclaimed albums. However, record buyers didn’t seem to “get” Changing Horses which was an album that saw The Incredible String Band in a reflective mood as they mused on their newfound spirituality, retell the story of Creation  and deal with subjects like family life on Mr. and Mrs. Other times, the music was quirky and comedic as The Incredible String Band experimented and changed direction on what was a genre-melting album full of different musical textures.

They came courtesy of The Incredible String Band’s fusion of traditional, Moroccan and Eastern instruments, which were augmented by electric guitars and a Hammond organ on Changing Horses. It found The Incredible String Band move from their former psychedelic folk sound to their new British folk rock sound that hints at progressive rock. There’s also elements of country, doo wop, ragtime and vaudeville on Big Ted, while Creation is full of Eastern sounds. They’re part of what was an eclectic album from The Incredible String Band, which marked the end of their golden period.

It was also the end of The Incredible String Band as a duo, as Licorice McKechnie and Rose Simpson were now full-time members of the band. They would continue to record and play live as band rather than a duo. No longer was it just two friends playing the music that they loved. Instead, The Incredible String Band would spend the rest of their career trying to reach recreate the music they released between their 1966 eponymous debut album and Changing Horses in 1969. 

Sadly, never again would The Incredible String Band reach the same heights of creativity again. Never again, would their star shine as brightly as it had between The Incredible String Band and Changing Horses, which marked the end of a three-year period where The Incredible String Band released five albums and were one of the biggest and most successful folk bands in the world and were on their way to becoming musical royalty.

The Incredible String Band-1966-1969: The Incredible String Band To Changing Horses

CAPTAIN BEEFHEART-1967-1972: SAFE AS MILK TO CLEAR SPOT

Captain Beefheart-1967-1972: Safe As Milk To Clear Spot.

It was in 1964 that Don Van Vliet first dawned his Captain Beefheart persona. By then, Don was already twenty-three and had led an eventful life. He had been called a child prodigy, attended art school, sold vacuum cleaners and for the last two years, been a member of Alex Snouffer’s Magic Band. His story began in Glendale, California in 1941.

That’s where the future Captain Beefheart, was born Don Glen Vliet on January 15th 1941. By the time Don was three, he was already sculpting and his speciality was animals. So, it’s no surprised that when Don was nine, he won a children’s sculpting competition organised by Los Angeles zoo. This was just the start of Don’s artistic career.

During the fifties Don worked as an apprentice with Rodrigues who spoke in glowing terms about Don, referring to his as a child prodigy. He wasn’t wrong.

Growing up, all Don wanted to do was sculpt. Sometimes, he was so busy sculpting, that Don forgot to eat. All that mattered was his art. Don it seemed, was aiming for artistic perfection. So, when he was offered several scholarships, it seemed that Don would jump at the opportunity. 

Sadly, Don’s parents didn’t approve of their son heading to art school. As a result, Don wasn’t heading to art school. Instead, he was heading to Lancaster, in the Mojave desert, where the aircraft industry was thriving. This would influence Don’s sculpting.

It was also where Don’s eclectic musical taste developed. Blues and jazz were favourites of Dons, including Son House, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Walters, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk and Ornette Coleman. Soon, Don was spending all day listening to music and sculpting. However, sometimes, Don spent time socialising with members of local bands The Omens and The Blackouts. Mostly though, art dominated Don’s life.

So much so, that Don wasn’t a regular attendee at Antelope Valley High School, in Lancaster. That didn’t seem to matter, as he was a gifted student. After high school, Don attended Antelope Valley Junior College as an art major. A year later, Don quit and got a job selling vacuum cleaners. Again, this didn’t last long, and Don got a job managing a shoe shop. After a while, Don quit and headed to Rancho Cucamonga, California, where once again, he hooked up with Frank Zappa, on old school friend.

With Frank Zappa’s help, Don was confident enough to take to the stage, imitating Howlin’ Wolf and playing the harmonica. What became apparent, was that Don had a wide vocal range. This would prove useful when his career began in 1962.

It was in in Lancaster, California, that Don met Alex Snouffer, an R&B guitarist. He asked Don to join his Magic Band. This resulted in Alex Snouffer becoming Alex St. Clair, and Don Glen Vliet becoming Don Van Vliet. A year later, in 1965, Don Van Vliet became Captain Beefheart.

Just a year later, Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band signed to A&M Records. Little did anyone realise that that day, the career of one of the most innovative artists began. 

For Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band’s debut single, they covered Bo Diddley’s Diddy Wah Diddy. The followup was Moonglow, penned by David Gates, who would find fame and fortune with Bread. By then, Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band would be pushing musical boundaries to their limits, and sometimes, beyond. That’s the case on the thirteen albums Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band would release including his debut Safe As Milk

Safe As Milk.

In 1967, Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band’s released their debut album, Safe As Milk. It was recorded at RCA Studios, in Los Angeles, during April 1967. Safe As Milk was a tantalising taste of what Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band were capable of.

Safe As Milk, Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band’s debut album, was released in September 1967. It was produced by Richard Perry and Bob Krasnow and featured an all-star cast. This included Ry Cooder and Taj Mahal of Rising Sons plus guitarist Russ Titelman. They played their part in a groundbreaking album, Safe As Milk.

On hearing Safe As Milk, critics realised this was unlike anything they’d heard before. It was an innovative and experimental, genre-melting album. Captain Beefheart’s love of the delta blues was evident on Safe As Milk. There’s even a cover of Robert Pete Williams’ Grown So Ugly. It was arranged by Ry Cooder. The other eleven tracks on Safe As Milk are original tracks, which Captain Beefheart either wrote or cowrote. 

These tracks feature lyrics that veer between surreal and absurd. Another difference was the time signatures. This wasn’t an album of music in a 4/4 time signature. Instead, different time signatures feature throughout Safe As Milk, which critics hailed a classic. However, despite this, neither record buyers nor Buddah Records agreed.

Record buyers didn’t seem to ‘get’ Safe As Milk. It failed to chart in Britain or America. This would be the case with many of Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band’s albums. Commercial success would continue to elude them. Buddah Records didn’t get Safe As Milk. They were beginning to come to the conclusion that Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band’s music was too left-field and unconventional. That’s despite releasing a classic album, Safe As Milk.

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Strictly Personal.

After Safe As Milk was released, Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band began work on their sophomore album Strictly Personal. It featured eight tracks penned by Captain Beefheart. They were recorded at Sunset Sound Studios, Los Angeles, between April 25th and May 2nd 1968. Once Strictly Personal was completed, it was due to be released by Buddah Records. 

However, by then, Buddah Records had decided that Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band’s music was too leftfield and unorthodox. So, they decided not to release Strictly Personal. 

Luckily, Bob Krasnow’s Blue Thumb Records were wiling to release Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band’s sophomore album Strictly Personal. However, there was a problem.

Bob Krasnow, who produced Strictly Personal, used phasing during the recording of Strictly Personal. It was used on many tracks. This production technique proved controversial. Initially, Captain Beefheart thought this was a good idea. However, later, he claimed that the phasing had been used without his permission or approval. As a result, Captain Beefheart claimed that he hated the psychedelic effects used on Strictly Personal. Never again, would effects be used on a Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band album. These effects would divide the attention of critics.

When Strictly Personal was released in September 1968, critics were divided. They were unable to decide if Strictly Personal was the work of a genius, or incoherent ramblings. Mostly, critics were won over by Strictly Personal. However, many critics felt that the effects jarred, and detracted from the music. Record buyers didn’t seem to have an opinion on Strictly Personal, as it failed to chart in America or Britain. Still, Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band were a cult band. That was about to change, with Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band’s second classic album, Trout Mask Replica. 

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Trout Mask Replica. 

For their third album Trout Mask Replica, Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band headed to Sunset Sound Studios, Los Angeles, in August 1968. That’s where Captain Beefheart hooked up with his old school friend and musical soul mate, Frank Zappa. He would produce Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band’s most ambitious and innovative album Trout Mask Replica.

For Trout Mask Replica, Captain Beefheart had penned twenty-eight tracks. As a result, Trout Mask Replica would be a sprawling and genre-melting double album. After the sessions at Sunset Sound Studios, Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band reconvened at Los Angeles’ Whitney Studios in March 1969. That’s where Trout Mask Replica was completed. It was then released on June 16th 1969.

Trout Mask Replica was released on Straight Records on June 16th 1969. It failed to chart in America, but reached number twenty-one in Britain. Just like Safe As Milk, Trout Mask Replica was another classic album from Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band. Elements of Americana, avant-garde, blues, classical, experimental, folk, free jazz, psychedelia, rock and surrealism melted into one on Trout Mask Replica. The lyrics were cerebral and controversial, dealing with politics, religion, love, sexuality, the Holocaust, conformity, the environment and musical history. It was an ambitious, far reaching and genre-melting opus. Sadly, only music critics, cultural commentators and a few discerning music lovers realised the importance of Trout Mask Replica. It’s now regarded as one of the most important albums of the late sixties. Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band saw the sixties close with a classic. What, however, would the seventies bring for Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band?

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Lick My Decals Off, Baby.

As the seventies dawned, a frustrated Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band returned to the studio. This frustration gave Captain Beefheart the inspiration for his fourth album’s title, Lick My Decals Off, Baby.

Captain Beefheart was a man on a mission. That mission was to to get rid of “labels”. Instead, he wanted people to evaluate things, including music, according to its merits, rather than according to superficial labels or “decals.” This was admirable. After all, Captain Beefheart had been a victim of labels. Trout Mask Replica was in some quarters, labelled an avant-garde album. Conservative record buyers recoiled in horror, rather than giving an innovative album an opportunity. Maybe after Lick My Decals Off, Baby, things would change.

For Lick My Decals Off, Baby, Captain Beefheart had written fifteen songs, including I Love You, You Big Dummy, Woe-Is-Uh-Me-Bop, The Smithsonian Institute Blues (Or The Big Dig) and The Clouds Are Full Of Wine (Not Whiskey Or Rye). They were recorded at United Recording Corporation, Los Angeles during May 1970. With Captain Beefheart producing Lick My Decals Off, Baby, Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band fused avant-garde, blues, experimental, free jazz, psychedelia and rock. Accompanied by His Magic Band’s ever evolving lineup, Lick My Decals Off, Baby was released in December 1970.

On Lick My Decals Off, Baby’s release, in December 1970, critics called the album a mini masterpiece. Some went as far as to say that Lick My Decals Off, Baby was better than Trout Mask Replica. Described as captivating, challenging, engrossing, humorous, innovative and playful, what started as pieces of music improvised on his home piano, became Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band’s third classic. It even surpassed the commercial success of Trout Mask Replica, reaching number twenty in Britain. It seemed things were looking up for Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band.

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Mirror Man.

Just as things were looking up for Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band, Buddah Records decided to release Mirror Man. It was originally recorded as as part of an abandoned project, It Comes to You in a Plain Brown Wrapper album. However, the album was shelved and some of the material found its way onto Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band’s 1968 sophomore album. However, Buddah Records were obviously keen to cash-in on Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band’s popularity.

The Bob Krasnow produced Mirror Man was released in April 1971. Mirror Man features just four tracks. This includes three lengthy blues jams. They make Mirror Man’s release worthwhile. These tracks showcase Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band at the start of their career, and is very different from the band that features on On Lick My Decals Off, Baby. 

Critics remarked upon that. They also remarked that Mirror Man wasn’t for newcomers to Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band. It was a case of only seasoned veterans of Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band should try Mirror Man, a hidden gem in Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band’s back-catalogue. It features Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band at their intensive and creative best. However, Captain Beefheart’s sixth album, The Spotlight Kid, was his most accessible.

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The Spotlight Kid.

During autumn 1971, Captain Beefheart and co-producer Phil Schier, began work on what would become The Spotlight Kid. Captain Beefheart wrote nine tracks and cowrote Blabber ‘N Smoke with Jan Van Vliet. These ten tracks would become The Spotlight Kid, which was credited to Captain Beefheart.

Although His Magic Band featured on The Spotlight Kid, the album is just credited to Captain Beefheart. The starting point for The Spotlight Kid, is Captain Beefheart’s beloved blues. However, this is blues with a twist. Marimba, bells and percussion are added. They provide a contrast to the slide guitar, rhythm section and harmonica. The result was what critics called Captain Beefheart’s most accessible album.

From I’m Gonna Booglarize You Baby, through White Jam, Alice In Blunderland, Grow Fins and the closing track Glider, Captain Beefheart produces his most accessible album. Blues tinged, albeit with a twist, there’s more than a nod to Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters. Critics hailed The Spotlight Kid as  raw, intensive, powerful and accessible. The Spotlight Kid was seen as the perfect introduction to Captain Beefheart.

To some extent, this proved to be the case. In America, The Spotlight Kid reached number 131 on the US Billboard 200 charts. Over the Atlantic, The Spotlight Kid stalled at number forty-four in Britain. It was swings and roundabouts. At least, however, Captain Beefheart had made a breakthrough in his home country.

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It had been a long coming. Captain Beefheart had toiled for years trying to make a breakthrough. One of the problems was, that many of Captain Beefheart’s aren’t particularly accessible.

Especially for the newcomer to Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band. A good place to start are three album 1970s Lick My Decals Off, Baby, 1971s The Spotlight Kid and 1972s Clear Spot. They’re  much more accessible than albums like Safe As Milk and Trout Milk Replica. Even Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band’s accessible albums are  ambitious, adventurous albums of genre-melting music where the music is unique and innovative and feature one of music’s mavericks. 

He was way ahead of his time. That’s why commercial success eluded Captain Beefheart for much of his career. Captain Beefheart, like his old schoolfriend Frank Zappa, was always determined to push musical boundaries, sometimes, to their limits and beyond. Other times, like on The Spotlight Kid and Clear Spot, Captain Beefheart yearned for commercial success. Captain Beefheart wanted to share his music with a wider audience. Sadly, Captain Beefheart never reached the heady heights his music and talent deserved. At least belatedly, Captain Beefheart a musical pioneer, is recognised as one of the most innovative and adventurous musicians of his generations. That’s apparent on the albums Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band released between 1967 and 1972, which feature a musical maverick at his creative and innovative best.

Captain Beefheart-1967-1972: Safe As Milk To Clear Spot.

IF MUSIC PRESENTS YOU NEED THIS-A JOURNEY INTO DEEP JAZZ VOL. 3

IF Music Presents You Need This–A Journey Into Deep Jazz Vol. 3.

BBE Music.

Album Of The Week.

For the best part of four decades, Jean-Claude Thompson has been one of the leading lights of London’s vibrant and eclectic music scene. Since 1990, he’s been one half of production duo The Amalgamation Of Soundz who have released critically acclaimed albums, compilations, countless singles and remixes a plenty. Amalgamation Of Soundz also played a memorable DJ set at Glastonbury back in 2005. That was no surprise.

For many a year, Jean-Claude has been a top DJ, and is a familiar face in London’s club scene. He’s travelled far and wide DJ-ing, flying the flag for his genre-defying, jazz-tinged sound. Recently, when he’s not been involved in production nor DJ-ing, Jean-Claude has been busy with a variety of new projects.

This includes hosting radio shows on NTS and Soho Radio. Jean-Claude also finds time to run a record shop IF Music, and curate a series of compilations. The most recent compilation that Jean-Claude curated was IF Music Presents You Need This–A Journey Into Deep Jazz Vol. 3 for BBE Music.

IF Music Presents You Need This-A Journey Into Deep Jazz Vol. 3 is the latest and much anticipated instalment in BBE’s deep jazz series. It’s no ordinary deep jazz compilation though. Instead, IF Music Presents You Need This-A Journey Into Deep Jazz Vol. 3 is a triple album that is about to be released on heavyweight vinyl. It features ten eclectic slices of deep jazz and there’s  something for everyone on IF Music Presents You Need This–A Journey Into Deep Jazz Vol. 3.

The music on IF Music Presents You Need This–A Journey Into Deep Jazz Vol. 3 veers between soulful and spiritual to free jazz. There’s obscurities, rarities and hidden gems that will have eluded even the most dedicated and determined collector. These tracks are sure to appeal to a wide range of record buyers.

This ranges from hipsters discovering jazz for the first time, to DJs, dancers and veteran collectors. IF Music Presents You Need This–A Journey Into Deep Jazz Vol. 3 is sure to appeal to a wide range of record buyers. They’re in for a veritable musical feast from Jean-Claude Thompson’s collection.

Side A.

Opening IF Music Presents You Need This–A Journey Into Deep Jazz Vol. 3 is Middle Passage, a track by Tyrone Jefferson who was James Brown’s trombonist and musical director. He released two albums track is from the album Free Your Mind, released in 1988. It’s a breathtaking workout where horns accompany Ellene Rockette’s inimitable vocal that is akin to an extra musical instrument as she takes the listener on a memorable journey. 

Beaver Harris 360 Degree Music Experience recorded Aladdin’s Carpet for the 1979 album Beautiful Africa. It’s a welcome addition and a reminder of this underground anthem that for many a year, has been a favourite of jazz DJs.

Side B.

Legendary Hungarian jazz guitarist Gabor Szabo recorded 24 Carat View for his 1979 album Belsta River which was released on the Swedish label Four Leaf Clover Records. 24 Carat View is an impressive fifteen minute epic that showcases the considerable talents of Gabor Szabo and what can only be described as an all-star cast.

Side C.

In 1974, Björn Alkes Kvartett released his debut album Jazz I Sverige 1974, on Caprice Records. It was recorded by the bandleader and his quartet at the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation. One of the standout tracks is Nepal, which is another favourite of jazz DJs and is sure to fill a dancefloor. 

Between 1969 and 1986 Jazz Celula released a total of five albums. Probuzeni is a track from their 1976 sophomore album Oheň Až Požár, and is a majestic slice of jazz-funk.

Side D.

Karl Hester and The Contemporary Jazz Art Movement recorded and released Pan African Ballet Music in 1981. This twenty-one minute epic is  musical tour de force that isn’t just inventive and innovative, and for the first six minutes will test the stamina of  dancers. This hidden gem is another welcome addition to IF Music Presents You Need This–A Journey Into Deep Jazz Vol. 3.

Side E.

Manteca was written by Dizzy Gillespie and recorded  by Phineas Newborn Jr.  in 1962 for his album The World Of Piano, which was released on Contemporary Records. It’s another hidden gem where the Tennessee born pianist and his band deliver a breathtaking performance.

In 1982, the fusion supergroup Sangam Jazz Yatra Sextett released their one and only album Sangam. It featured Dawn, which opened the album and features this pioneering supergroup at the peak of their powers.

Side F.

Copa Salvo’s Hasta La Victria Siempre is a track from the album Loveletter From Far East, which was released by RD Records in Japan, in 2006. Only 300 copies of the album were pressed and Hasta La Victria Siempre is one of the highlights of an album where elements of Latin, funk, jazz and soul melt into one. Sadly, very few people know about Loveletter From Far East, and Hasta La Victria Siempre will introduce Copa Salvo’s music to the wider audience it deserves.

Stafford James Ensemble only released one album, and that was their eponymous album on Red Record in 1979. It featured a memorable and captivating cover of John Coltrane’s Impressions which is the perfect way to close IF Music Presents You Need This–A Journey Into Deep Jazz Vol. 3.

IF Music Presents You Need This–A Journey Into Deep Jazz Vol. 3 features ten tracks. This includes obscurities, rarities and hidden gems that will have eluded even the most dedicated and determined collector. To track down these obscurities, rarities and hidden gems would prove expensive. Several of the albums the tracks on IF Music Presents You Need This–A Journey Into Deep Jazz Vol. 3 are taken from are extremely rare albums. Copies don’t come up for sale very often, and when they do, they change hands for large sums of money. However,  they all feature on Jean-Claude Thompson’s lovingly curated IF Music Presents You Need This–A Journey Into Deep Jazz Vol. 3, which is a tantalising taste of the music on these albums. It’s music that  is ambitious, innovative and inventive music. Proof of that can be found on IF Music Presents You Need This–A Journey Into Deep Jazz Vol. 3, which is a lovingly curated compilation which BBE Music have just as a triple album, and  for anyone interested in jazz, then this will be a welcome addition to their record collection.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a hipster dipping your toe into the world of jazz for the first time, or  DJs, dancers or veterans of jazz compilations past, IF Music Presents You Need This–A Journey Into Deep Jazz Vol. 3 is without doubt one of the finest jazz compilations money can buy and is another tantalising taste of inventive and innovative deep jazz from yesteryear. 

IF Music Presents You Need This–A Journey Into Deep Jazz Vol. 3.

 

THE STORY OF THE BROTHERHOOD AND THEIR CULT CLASSIC STAVIA.

The Story Of The Brotherhood and Their Cult Classic Stavia.

After Ohio-based singer, songwriter and musician John Hurd wrote a new song Tragedy in 1971, he booked some studio time so that his band The Revised Brotherhood could record their debut single. Joining John Hurt in the studio when The Revised Brotherhood recorded Tragedy and Those Things was his friend Bill Fairbanks. 

When the time came to record Tragedy, Bill Fairbanks stepped up the microphone and added backing vocals which were the perfect foil for John Hurd’s lead vocal. As the two high school students  listened to the playback, they were pleased with the results. Now though, John Hurd planned to release Tragedy as a single.

This John Hurd knew was going to be easier said than done. He had two alternatives try to interest a local label in the single, or release The Revised Brotherhood’s debut single Tragedy as a private press. However, John Hurd had always planned to release Tragedy as a private press and arranged to have 100 copies pressed by the Heard label which was an imprint of Universal Language.

By the time John Hurd took delivery of the 100 copies of Tragedy, things had changed for the leader of The Revised Brotherhood. John Hurd and Bill Fairbanks had enjoyed recording Tragedy and were keen to repeat the experience. So much so, that they had decided to put together a new band and record an album together.

This new band they called The Brotherhood, which was very different to The Revised Brotherhood. For a start, it was setup more like a traditional rock band and was five piece band. The lineup featured John Hurd on bass, organ and piano and The Revised Brotherhood’s drummer Donny Hoskins. They were joined by Bill Fairbanks who played acoustic guitar, bass and piano. Soon, three became four when Bill Fairbanks recommended a talent and charismatic guitarist who would he believed would be perfect for addition to the new band, Jeff Hanson. He was a versatile guitarist who could seamlessly switch between lead and rhythm guitar. After an audition, Jeff Hanson joined The Brotherhood. By then, the lineup was almost complete and soon, the dream of making an album became reality.

The final piece of the jigsaw fell into place when John Hurd met flautist MJ Coe, and invited him to jam with The Brotherhood. After the initial jam session, John Hurd asked MJ Coe to join The Brotherhood, and when he accepted the rest of the band knew that the lineup of the band was complete. Now they could begin working towards their debut album Stavia. 

With the lineup of The Brotherhood in place, John Hurd asked Bill Fairbanks and Jeff Hanson to bring any songs that they had written and might suit the band to the first rehearsal. Neither John Hurd nor The Brotherhood were wasting any time, began work on their debut album straight away. Recording an album was The Brotherhood’s raison d’être. It was why the band had been formed in April 1972, and was what The Brotherhood worked towards over the next five months. 

At their next rehearsal, John Hurd brought along a couple of songs that he had been working on, Colour Line, Uncle and Meditation Part 2. These songs were work-in-progress until he showed them to Bill Fairbanks. Soon, Colour Line, Uncle and Meditation Part 2 were compete and were credited to John Hurd and Bill Fairbanks. He also contributed Back Door and Meditation Part 1, while guitarist Jeff Hanson wrote For Her Time. Meanwhile, John Hurd had written Rock and Roll Band and Cry Of Love. A decision was also taken to rerecord Tragedy which had been released in 1971 as The Revised Brotherhood’s debut single.

Over the next few weeks and months, The Brotherhood spent much of their time tightening and honing their songs and the group’s sound. The band knew that they had to have their A-Game on when they eventually entered the studio. As a result, much of their time was spent rehearsing, and occasionally The Brotherhood played live during the summer of 1972. However, they never lost sight of what brought them together recording an album.

Eventually, the time came for The Brotherhood to record the nine songs that became their debut album Stavia, which John Hurd decided should become a place that existed only in the band’s imagination. However, Stavia had a theme running through the nine songs on the album. That theme of Stavia was love, with The Brotherhood hoping that people could love and be free and pleasant to each other. This may seem idealistic in 2019, but Stavia has to be taken in context. In 1972, the Vietnam War was raging and the Civil Rights movement continued in its valiant attempt to transform the lives of African-Americans. It’s no surprise that The Brotherhood’s message on Stavia was love and the hope that people could be free and pleasant to each other.

When the time came for The Brotherhood to record Stavia, the band was more than ready to record their debut album. They had spent months tightening the song and honing their sound. Drummer Donny Hoskins was joined by Bill Fairbanks on acoustic guitar, bass, piano and vocals while John Hurd played bass, organ, piano and added vocals. Flautist MJ Coe also played acoustic guitar and added vocals. So did Jeff Hanson as he switched between lead and rhythm guitar. Soon, The Brotherhood had achieved what they had set out to do, and recorded their debut album Stavia.

With Stavia complete, the next step was for The Brotherhood to release their debut album. Just like The Revised Brotherhood’s debut single Tragedy, Stavia was released as private press. However, this time,  Rite Record Productions produced around 200 copies of Stavia which nowadays, it’s an extremely rare album. 

Stavia is also an album that for many a year was shrouded in mystery and had had become a mythical album. Some record collectors doubted that Stavia even existed. It did and does.

Back in September 1972 The Brotherhood achieved what they had set out to do five months earlier when they released their debut album Stavia. Sadly, that was the end of the road for The Brotherhood now that they had released their debut album. There was no followup to Stavia, and the five members of The Brotherhood went their separate ways. However, their musical legacy is Stavia.

When The Brotherhood released 200 copies of Stavia in September 1972 it was a proud moment, and one that they had been working towards for five months. Little did five members of The Brotherhood realise the impact that Stavia would have over the next five decades.

Nowadays, Stavia is regarded as one of the great acid rock private presses released in America during the early seventies. However, sometimes, the music heads in the direction acid folk, funk, heavy rock and in the case of vocals soul. To this musical potpourri The Brotherhood add social comment as they comment on the problems facing America in 1972. Other times, John Hurd becomes a storyteller as he delivers tales of love lost and heartbreak on Stavia which was the mythical place that The Brotherhood invented.

Sadly, Stavia was the one and only album that that the Ohio-based Rock and Roll Band The Brotherhood released during a career that lasted just five months. Incredibly, that was long enough for The Brotherhood to released their spellbinding acid rock genre classic Stavia which features a truly talented and versatile band.

The Story Of The Brotherhood and Their Cult Classic Stavia.

MELISSA MANCHESTER-1973-1976: HER EARLY YEARS AND BREAKTHROUGH.

Melissa Manchester-1973-1976: Her Early Years and Breakthrough.

It was almost inevitable that Melissa Manchester would end up embarking upon a musical career. The Manchester family were a highly creative family, and music played an important part in everyday life. That was no surprise. Melissa’s father was a bassoonist in the New York Metropolitan Opera. She would later follow in his footsteps, and would enjoy a career in music.

Unlike her father, Melissa Manchester would embark upon a career as a singer-songwriter. Melissa was twenty-two when she signed to Bell Records in 1973. Later that year, she released her debut album Home To Myself. It was the first of five albums that Melissa Manchester released between 1973 and 1975. Her story began on 15th February 1951 

That was when Melissa Manchester was born in the Bronx, New York. Her mother was a clothing designer, and would later found her own company. However, Melissa’s father was a musician. He was a bassoonist in the New York Metropolitan Opera. So music played an important part in the family home. It was no surprise that Melissa embraced music from an early age.

Having started singing at an early age, Melissa Manchester enrolled at Manhattan’s High School of Performing Arts. That was where she learnt to play piano and harpsichord. It was during this time, that Melissa started singing on jingles for radio and television. Soon, Melissa was demoing the songs that was writing.

Already Melissa Manchester was a prolific songwriter. She spent much of her free time writing and honing songs. Despite being a prolific songwriter, when Melissa recorded her debut single for MB, neither the single Beautiful People, nor the B-Side A Song For You were her compositions. When the Beautiful People was released in 1967, it failed to make an impression on the charts. However, a year later, and a new opportunity arose for Melissa. 

When Melissa was seventeen, and still a student at the High School of Performing Arts, she became a staff writer for Warner Chappell. Already, it was inevitable that she was going to pursue a career in music.

After Melissa left the High School of Performing Arts, she enrolled on the songwriting course at the prestigious New York University. One of her tutors was none other than Paul Simon. He advised Melissa to find her own voice as a songwriter. This she realised was good advice, and her songwriting quickly improved.

In the evenings and weekends, Melissa sang in clubs. She had been doing that for years. During that period, she graduated from folk clubs and open-mics to Manhattan clubs. Melissa was going up in the world. Her rise was about to continue.

It was while Melissa was singing in a Manhattan club during 1971, that she first met Barry Manilow. He would later be credited as ‘discovering’ Melissa Manchester. When he first saw, Melissa singing, he realised that she was a talented and accomplished singer. So he decided to introduce Melissa to his employer, Bette Midler.

Since earlier in 1971, Barry Manilow had been working as Bette Midler’s arranger and pianist. He also co-produced Bette Midler’s first two albums. Barry Manilow introduced Melissa to Bette Midler. Later in 1971, Melissa became one of Bette Midler’s backing singers The Harlettes.

During her time with Bette Midler, Melissa met songwriter Carole Bayer Sager. The pair soon became fiends and started writing songs together. Little did they realise that their formidable songwriting partnership would later write some contemporary classics. That was still to come.

Before that, Melissa featured on the 1972 album National Lampoon Radio Dinner. She appeared on the track Magical Misery Tour as Yoko One and sung backing vocals on Deteriorata. However, the next time she featured on an album would be her debut album.

Home To Myself.

Melissa Manchester was approached by Bell Records, who had spotted her potential. By then, she had spent time as one of Bette Midler’s backing singers The Harlettes and formed a songwriting partnership with Carole Bayer Sager. Signing a recording contract was the next logical step. It hadn’t been easy though.

Time after time, Melissa sent demos to record companies. They would listen to the demo, and jump to the wrong conclusion. Many record companies thought that Melissa remembers they: “would think I was a black girl based on the sound.” Bell Records who had been watching Melissa’s progress didn’t make that mistake.

Bell Records were willing to give Melissa total creative freedom when she recorded her debut album. She would be able to record the album that she wanted. There was a reason for their largesse though.

Previously, Bell Records was known as a singles label. They were keen to change that. So Bell Records started to add artists to their roster who would produce albums and singles. Melissa Manchester fitted the bill.

With her recording contract signed, Melissa began work on her debut album. The Melissa Manchester and Carole Bayer Sager partnership contributed If It Feels Good (Let It Ride), Easy, Something To Do With Loving You, Pick Up The Good Stuff (Reprise), Be Happy Now, One More Mountain To Climb and Home To Myself. Melissa penned Funny That Way, Jenny and Doing The Best (That He Can). These songs were recorded in New York.

To produce what would later become Home To Myself, Hank Medress and Dave Appell were brought onboard. They oversaw recording at Century Sound Studios, in New York. No expense was spared. Strings, horns and woodwind sections augmented by a band that featured some of New York’s top session musicians. They began recording the ten songs. When they were complete, they would become Home To Myself.

Later in 1973, Bell Records were preparing for the release of Melissa Manchester’s debut album Home To Myself. Critical acclaim accompanied the album’s release, as Melissa brings life, meaning and emotion to the lyrics. Especially on the ballads that feature on Home To Myself. There’s a confessional quality to ballads like If It Feels Good (Let It Ride), Easy,Funny That Way, One More Mountain To Climb, Doing The Best (That He Can) and Home To Myself. Sometimes, it’s as if Melissa is laying bare her soul. Then as the tempo rises, the piano playing singer-songwriter sometimes, combines power and passion on Something To Do With Loving You and Be Happy Now. During Home To Myself, Melissa switched between and combined musical genres.

Elements of pop, rock, folk and soul were combined. Stylistically, comparisons were drawn with Carole King, Bette Midler and Laura Nyro, who had such an influence on Melissa. What surprised many critics was how accomplished and polished a singer Melissa was. It was hard to believe Home To Myself was her debut album. However, she had spent six years honing her sound. Melissa Manchester was hoping that this would pay off.

When Home To Myself was released later in 1973, it charted and began climbing the US Billboard 200. Eventually, it reached 156. Considering it was only Melissa Manchester’s debut album, this was regarded as a success. Previously, many debut album had failed to even trouble the charts. Melissa Manchester had something to build on.

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Bright Eyes.

After the relative success of Home To Myself, Melissa Manchester began working on her sophomore album Bright Eyes. This time, the Melissa Manchester and Carole Bayer Sager partnership only penned the one track, Ruby And The Dancer. Their partnership would resume on Melissa’s third album. For her sophomore album, Bright Eyes, Melissa had a new songwriting partner lyricist Adrienne Anderson. 

They too, would establish a successful songwriting partnership. For Bright Eyes Melissa and Adrienne Anderson wrote Bright Eyes, Alone, No.1 (Ahwant Gemmeh) and He Is The One. Melissa contributed  O Heaven (How You’ve Changed Me) and Inclined. 

They penned Bright Eyes, Alone, No.1 (Ahwant Gemmeh) and He Is The One. The other track was a cover of Vernon Duke and George Gershwin’s I Can’t Get Started. Melissa had decided to cover it for her sophomore album Bright Eyes.

When recording of Bright Eyes began, Melissa was joined by two familiar faces, Hank Medress and Dave Appell. They returned to produce Bright Eyes. Just like Home To Myself, recording of Bright Eyes took place at Century Sound Studios, in New York.

Again, the arrangements were featured strings, horns and woodwind sections and band that included some of New York’s top session musicians. With Hank Medress and Dave Appell taking charge of production, they recorded Bright Eyes. Once it was complete, Bell Records began preparing for the release of Bright Eyes.

Home To Myself had introduced Melissa Manchester to critics and record buyers. Now Bell Records wanted Melissa’s music to reach a wider audience. Before that, the critics had their say.

Just like Home To Myself, Bright Eyes was well received by critics. They were quick to compare Melissa’s new songwriting partnership with Adrienne Anderson to her partnership with Carole Bayer Sager. The verdict was that the Melissa Manchester and Carole Bayer Sager won the day. That wasn’t surprising. Carole Bayer Sager was well on her way to becoming one of the top songwriters of her generation. However, both songwriting partnerships played an important part on Bright Eyes, which like her debut album won over by critics.

Given the positive reviews of Bright Eyes, Bell Record had high hopes for Melissa’s sophomore album. Upon its release later in 1974, the album it reached just 159 in the US Billboard 200. This was a disappointment for everyone concerned. Bell Records and Melissa had been looking to build on the success of Home To Myself. What didn’t help, was that the wrong song was chosen as the lead single.

There were several contenders for lead single. Eventually, O Heaven (How You’ve Changed Me) was chosen. It featured The Dixie Hummingbirds. However, rather than release the version on the album, the song was rerecorded. Despite all this effort, the song never came close to troubling the charts. This added to the disappointment. However, Bell Records who were about to be renamed Arista, kept faith with Melissa.

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Melissa.

After Bright Eyes had stalled at 159 in the US Billboard 200, several changes were made for Melissa Manchester’s third album, Melissa. This included everything from songwriting partners to the producer that was hired and even the studio that Melissa was used. Arista president Clive Davis, it seemed were looking for a result.

For Melissa, Melissa and Carole Bayer Sager resumed their songwriting partnership in earnest. They wrote We’ve Got Time, Stevie’s Wonder, This Lady’s Not Home Today and I Got Eyes. Melissa also wrote It’s Gonna Be Alright with Adrienne Anderson. However, her new producer contributed a song.

Hank Medress and Dave Appell had been replaced by Vini Poncia. He  and Melissa penned Just Too Many People. Similarly, Melissa and the guitarist from her new band, David Wolfert cowrote  Party People. Completing Melissa were two cover versions, Stevie Wonder and Syreeta Wright’s Love Havin’ You Around and Randy Newman’s I Don’t Want To Hear It Anymore. These songs would be recorded with a new producer and band at a new studio. Nothing was left to chance.

For the recording of Melissa, two studios were used.  With Melissa  now living in LA., it made sense to record much of the album at Sunset Sound Studios, in Los Angeles. Other sessions took place at A & R Studios, in New York. Vini Poncia took charge of production and marshalled the cast of musicians and backing vocalists. This included for the first time on a Melissa Manchester album synths. However, strings were still used to sweeten the album. So were horns  as Melissa took shape. Eventually, Melissa was completed and ready for release. 

Once Melissa was completed, a release date was scheduled for later in 1975. This time, great thought went into choosing the right single. Executives at Arista hoped that Melissa would introduce Melissa Manchester’s music to a much wider audience. However, partly, that would depend upon what critics said about Melissa Manchester’s third album, Melissa.

Melissa was quite different from previous albums. It was an album that was  a mixture of two types of songs, ballads and uptempo tracks. Unlike previous albums, the albums was divided equally between ballads and uptempo tracks, This allowed Melissa to showcase her versatility. 

With critical acclaim accompanying the release of Melissa, the album was released later in 1975. It reached number twelve in the US Billboard 200, and sold over 500,00 copies. Melissa Manchester received her first gold disc. That was no surprise.

Midnight Blue the ballad that Melissa cowrote with Carole Bayer Sager in 1973, was released as the lead single from Melissa in May 1975. It reached number six in the US Billboard 100 and number one in the Adult Contemporary charts. Buoyed by this success, sales of Melissa grew in America. Across the border on Canada, Midnight Blue reached number five and number one Adult Contemporary charts. However,  it had been hard work promoting Midnight Blue.

Arista was quite unlike Bell Records. President Clive Davis wanted his artists to work hard to break singles. So Melissa criss crossed America, meeting and greeting DJs and various movers and shakers. It was hard work, but eventually it paid off. The first song that Melissa cowrote with Carole Bayer when they first met had given her the biggest hit single of her career. 

Following the success of Midnight Blue, Just Too Many People was released as the followup. It reached number thirty in the US Billboard 100 and number two in the Adult Contemporary charts. For Melissa, her third album had transformed her career. Now came the hard part, replicating the success of Melissa. 

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Better Days and Happy Endings.

Following the success of Melissa, work began on Better Days and Happy Endings. This was the first of two albums Melissa released during 1976.  Arista hoped that she would replicate the success of Melissa and Midnight Blue. However, that was easier said than done. 

Melissa had featured some of the best songs of Melissa Manchester’s career. They were written by Melissa and Carole Bayer Sager. The pair had forged a successful partnership on Melissa’s first three albums. Playing an important part in Melissa was Vini Poncia. He returned to produce Better Days and Happy Endings.

So did many of the musicians who worked on Melissa. They joined Melissa at Davlen Studios, North Hollywood. A total of ten tracks were recorded. Vini Poncia concentrated on producing an album of lush, feel good music. When it was complete, Arista and Melissa began work on promoting her fourth album, Better Days and Happy Endings.

Critics were won over by Better Days and Happy Endings. Melissa they noted, continued to mature as a singer, and had the potential to become one of the most successful female singer-songwriters of the seventies. Especially if she continued to produce albums with slick, polished and lush arrangements. Just like on Melissa, the album was well produced, with ballads and uptempo tracks rubbing shoulders with one another. It was critics said, a fitting followup to Melissa. 

When Better Days and Happy Endings was released in 1976, it reached number twenty-four in the US Billboard 200. The lead single Just You and I reached number twenty-seven in the US Billboard 100 and number three in the Adult Contemporary charts. Better Days then stalled at seventy-nine in the US Billboard 100, but reached number nine in the Adult Contemporary charts. Happy Endings failed to reach the US Billboard 100 and reached just thirty-three in the Adult Contemporary charts. When the single was flipped over, the B-Side of Happy Endings, Rescue Me reached just seventy-six in the US Billboard 100. Despite that blip, Better Days and Happy Endings continued the Melissa Manchester success story. Arista hoped it would continue later in 1976.

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Help Is on the Way.

Buoyed by the success of Better Days and Happy Endings,  work began on the followup album. Arista were hoping that Melissa would enjoy another successful album. Her last two albums had sold well, and featured five hit singles in the US Billboard 100 and Adult Contemporary charts. So Melissa got to work.

This time around, Melissa and Carole Bayer Sager only wrote two songs, Help Is On The Way and There’s More Where That Came From. This left a huge void to be filled.

Filling that void was Melissa. She penned Talkin’ To Myself, Headlines and So’s My Old Man. The Melissa Manchester and Arienne Anderson penned Singing From My Soul. Melissa also wrote Be Somebody with Vini Poncia, and Johnny Vastano. Completing Help Is On The Way were a trio of cover versions.

This included Michael Franks’ Monkey See-Monkey; Do; Steely Dan’s Dirty Work and A Fool In Love. These songs and the rest of Help Is On The Way were recorded in L.A.

Two studios were used to record Help Is On The Way. Recording sessions took place in Hollywood at Sound Labs Inc. and at the Burbank Studios, Burbank.  Vini Poncia returned for the third time, and was joined by some of the band that played on Melissa and Better Days and Happy Endings. Having worked together twice before, the sessions ran smoothly, and the album was ready in time to be released later in 1976.

Arista were keen to release Melissa’s fifth album, Help Is On The Way, hot on the heels of Better Days and Happy Endings. Melissa was enjoying the most successful period of her career, and Arista wanted to build upon it. So promotional copies of Help Is On The Way were sent out.

Just like Better Days and Happy Endings, critics gave Help Is On The Way positive reviews. It was another carefully crafted selection of songs that allowed Melissa to showcase her versatility and oozes quality. 

Given the critical response to Help Is On The Way, Arista thought the album would follow in the footsteps of Melissa and Better Days and Happy Endings. However, when Help Is On The Way was released later in 1976, the album stalled at just sixty in the US Billboard 200. Again, Arista backed the wrong horse when it came to the lead single. They chose Monkey See, Monkey Do, which failed to chart. Neither did Be Somebody. For Melissa, Help Is On The Way had been a disappointment. 

Things could’ve been very different if a different lead single had been chosen. Monkey See, Monkey Do was the wrong choice. By the time that Be Somebody was released, the album had stalled. It was  a frustrating time for Melissa. 

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Despite that, the last three years had been a roller coaster for Melissa Manchester. An important factor in the rise of Melissa Manchester was her songwriting partnership with Carole Bayer Sager. They formed a successful and enviable partnership. Not only would the songs they wrote bring success Melissa’s way, but for many other artists. It was a fruitful and profitable partnership. It helped launch Melissa’s career in 1973.

Her 1973 debut album Home To Myself established an audience for her music. That audience were here to stay when Bright Eyes was released in 1974. However, Melissa’s fortunes changed in 1975.

This coincided with Bell Records becaming Arista. Clive Davis, who was Arista’s president wanted his artists to provide him with hits. It didn’t matter how hard they had to work for these hits. So Melissa Manchester criss-crossed America, glad-handling DJs and music industry movers and shakers. All her hard work and persistence paid off when Midnight Blue, a song she penned with Carole Bayer Sager gave her a top ten hit. The success of Midnight Blue helped Melissa’s third album Melissa, sell over 500,000 copies.

The success continued when Melissa released Better Days and Happy Endings in 1976. Later that year, Melissa released her second album of the year. Sadly, Help Is On The Way failed to fulfil its potential and failed to match the success of Melissa’s two previous albums.

Nowadays, Help Is On The Way is one of the most underrated of the five albums Melissa Manchester released between 1973 and 1976. It’s also a reminder of one of the most versatile and talented, singer-songwriters of her generation, Melissa Manchester during the the early years of her career

Melissa Manchester-1973-1976: Her Early Years and Breakthrough.

 

THE ROZETTA JOHNSON STORY: A CASE OF WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN.

The Rozetta Johnson Story: A Case Of What Might Have Been.

Throughout the history of modern music, some of the most talented artists haven’t enjoyed the commercial success and critical acclaim that their considerable talent deserves. That was the case with Nick Drake, Jackie Leven, Gram Parsons, Townes Van Zandt, Michael Chapman, Tim Buckley, Alice Clark, Linda Perhacs and Vashti Bunyan. None of these artists went on to enjoy fame or fortune.  Far from it.

The music of Jackie Leven and Townes Van Zandt was enjoyed by a small, but discerning coterie of music lovers until their death. Meanwhile, Michael Chapman continues to tour, but still, his albums fail to find the audience that they so richly deserve. Sadly, this is all too familiar a story.

It was also the case with Alice Clark, Linda Perhacs and Vashti Bunyan’s debut albums. Sadly, each of these albums failed commercially. This resulted in these three talented singers turning their back on music. Music was loser.

Music was also the loser when Nick Drake, Tim Buckley and Gram Parson’s careers were cut tragically short. Each of these artists joined the dreaded twenty-seven club. Ironically, the music of  Nick Drake, Tim Buckley and Gram Parson would belatedly find the audience it deserved. That was also the case with Jackie Leven, Townes Van Zandt, Alice Clark, Linda Perhacs and Vashti Bunyan. Belatedly, these artists are reaching a much wider audience and receiving the critical acclaim it so richly deserves. It’s a similar story with Southern Soul singer, Rozetta Johnson.

She was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama on the 11th of June 1942. From an early age, Rozetta Johnson loved music. She also loved to sing. This she did at the local church, and at home. That was until she said her prayers.

Rozetta Johnson’s family were church going, and God-fearing people. The rule in the Johnson house was that once Rozetta had said her prayers, there was to be no singing. This rule young Rozetta obeyed…usually.

Then one night, when Rozetta Johnson was about six, she went to her room and said her prayers. Later, when she was listening to the radio, her favourite song, Goodnight Sweetheart, came on the radio. Rozetta began to sing along. Her great-grandfather told her to stop singing. Young Rozetta  began to hum along to the song. This her great-grandfather took as an act of disobedience. He left the room, and returned with his switch. For this perceived act of disobedience he beat young  Rozetta. That night, she cried herself to sleep. For a while, Rozetta was too scared to sing. Her career was nearly over before it began. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. 

Growing up, Rozetta Johnson sang in church, and later joined a gospel group. Each Sunday, they would sing in several churches.  As the group’s popularity grew, they were singing in five different churches. Still, though Rozetta chose to stay in the background. The beating she had suffered weighed heavily on her mind. Then one Sunday, Rozetta had no option but to move to the front of the gospel group.

The two lead singers had an argument, and decided that they couldn’t or wouldn’t perform. Rozetta Johnson stepped into the breach. That day she regained her confidence, are musical career began to blossom. Especially when the gospel group broke up.

While this was a disappointment, it allowed Rozetta Johnson to think about the future. By then, she was seventeen and hadn’t earned a thin dime singing gospel all these years. Up until then, Rozetta was happy just to be singing. However, deep down, Rozetta knew she could make a living as a singer. So she decided to head to the local club she passed each day, the 401 in Birmingham, Alabama.

That was where Rozetta Johnson lived with her grandmother. She though Rozetta  was in church, as she headed to the 401. With more than a degree of trepidation, Rozetta took her first tentative steps into the 401. This was unknown territory for her, and for the family, the 401 would be the equivalent of Sodom and Gomorrah. Never having set foot inside a nightclub, Rozetta was totally unprepared. 

Especially when the owner asked her to audition. Rozetta Johnson sung the only secular song she knew, Somewhere Over The Rainbow. When she was asked what key she was about to sing in Rozetta  had no idea. Despite being so unprepared, Rozetta received a standing ovation. The next day, Rozetta was hired and from the following Sunday, she would receive $8 each night.

For a high school senior, this was a small fortune. More importantly, Rozetta Johnson was taking her first tentative steps in a career as a professional singer. Over the next few years, Rozetta served her professional apprenticeship. She honed her style singing sets that featured songs Rozetta heard on the radio. They were reworked by Rozetta. However, after three years singing professionally, she got her big break.

This came when Rozetta Johnson was spotted by Bill Doggett. He was looking for a female vocalist for the Bill Doggett Revue to cover maternity leave. Rozetta fitted the bill. Her brief spell with the Bill Doggett Revue was the next part of her musical apprenticeship. This was good experience. Working with such seasoned performers helped  Rozetta to improve her stagecraft, and prepared her for when she made her recording debut.

By 1963,  Rozetta Johnston was signed to Bill Lowery’s NRC label and about to make her recording debut. It wasn’t a solo single though. Instead, Rozetta as accompanied by The Organettes. They were backing vocalists that Rozetta met at the recording session. 

They only recorded the one single, I Understand My Man, with Willow Weep For Me on the B-Side. When it was released in 1963, Rozetta Johnson was billed as Rosetta Johnson and The Organettes. The single failed to make any headway, and Rosetta Johnson and The Organettes’ recording career was over before it had even began. For Rozetta Johnston the whole experience had been disappointing.

Another two years before Rozetta Johnston returned with a new single. By then, she was signed to Jessica Records.  It was a short-lived label, that released just a few singles. This included Rozetta’s That Hurts, a  soul-baring ballad. When That Hurts was released later in 1965, it failed to make any impression. History was repeating itself all over again. 

Or so it seemed. That was until Atlantic Records decided to take a chance on That Hurts. They licensed the song from Jessica Records, and it was released in July 1966. Despite Atlantic Records’ financial power and marketing expertise, That Hurts failed to trouble the charts. It seemed that Rozetta Johnston’s recording career had stalled.

For the next four years, Rozetta Johnston found herself singing mostly, in local clubs. Very occasionally, Rozetta headed out of Alabama, and sung in another state. Most of the time, she found herself singing in the same local clubs. It must have been a frustrating time. Especially with her recording career having stalled. However, as the sixties gave way to the seventies, Rozetta ’s luck changed.

In 1970, Rozetta Johnston’s recording career resumed when she signed to Clintone Records. They had recently signed a distribution deal with Atlantic Records. This meant there was more chance that Rozetta’s singles would find an audience nationwide. Especially if they were written by Sam Dees.

Rozetta Johnston met Sam Dees through her manager Jesse Davis. Sam was writing and producing for Clintone Records. That’s despite Sam Dees being a talented singer in his own right. Sadly, Sam Dees struggled to make a breakthrough. That would be the case throughout his career. However, Sam Dees was a talented and prolific songwriter, and would pen Rozetta Johnston’s  Clintone Records’ debut.

Sam Dees penned A Woman’s Way under his Lillian Dees alias. When A Woman’s Way was then released in October 1970, it reached ninety-four in the US Billboard 100 and thirty-nine in the US R&B charts. This was regarded as a success as Clintone Records was a relatively new label, and A Woman’s Way was Rozetta Johnston’s first single in four years. Belatedly, she was enjoying a tantalising taste of the heady brew that’s success.

After the success of A Woman’s Way, Clintone Records were keen to build on the momentum that had been created. So Rozetta Johnson  was sent back into the single to record two more songs that had been penned by Sam Dees, Who Are You Gonna Love (Your Woman Or Your Wife) and Can Feel My Love Comin’ Down. These songs were arranged by Dale Warren and produced by Sam Dees. Once they were recorded, the single was scheduled for release in early 1971.

In February 1971, the string drenched ballad Who Are You Gonna Love (Your Woman Or Your Wife) was released as a single. Despite the quality of this future soul classic,  it stalled at just forty-five on the US R&B charts. Although this was disappointing, Rozetta Johnson had just enjoyed another hit single. She was two for two. 

The problem was, the two hit singles were only minor hits. Given their quality, they deserved to find a wider audience. It was a case of back to the drawing board.

Just like Rozetta Johnson’s two previous singles, Sam Dees wrote her thing single Holding The Losing Hand.  This was another ballad, and one that seemed tailor made for Rozetta who combined power and emotion, while gospel tinged backing vocals and string accompanied her.  With Sam Dees taking care of production, surely Holding The Losing Hand would mark a change in fortune for Rozetta?

On Holding The Losing Hand’s release in September 1971, it failed to even trouble the lower reaches of the charts. This was the first single Rozetta Johnston released for Clintone that hadn’t charted. This was a huge disappointment.

After the failure of Holding The Losing Hand, five months passed before Rozetta Johnston returned with her fourth single. This time, there was no sign of Sam Dees. He was working on a new album for Atlantic Records, The Show Must Go On. With Clintone Records’ main source of songs unavailable, Rozetta covered Barry and Robin Gibb’s To Love Somebody for her next single. It was produced by the Moon, Gardner and Lewis production team and was due to be released in early 1972. 

Despite reinventing To Love Somebody as a soul-baring Southern Soul ballad, the single failed to chart upon its release in February 1972. This was another blow for Rozetta Johnsto whose last two singles hadn’t come close to troubling the charts. It was a worrying time for Rozetta Johnston.

Later in 1972, it’s thought Rozetta Johnston returned to the studio to record the Sam Dees and David Camon penned ballad How Can You Love Something You Never Had. However, later, Rozetta later cast doubt upon whether the recording is actually her? It’s hard to tell. She was a versatile vocalist who seamlessly could switch between styles. Indeed, Rozetta could mimic a wide variety of singers, so there is every chance she features on Personal Dancer. 

Little did Rozetta Johnson realise, that she would only record one more single for Clintone Records. This was It’s Been So Nice, a slice of the deepest soul. It was penned and produced by Sam Dees, who had played such an important part in Rozetta’s career. However, the single wasn’t released until 1975.

Initially, It’s Been So Nice was released on Clintone Records in 1975. Rozetta watched as the single failed to chart. She felt that Clintone Records hadn’t promoted the single sufficiently. It was a similar case when It’s Been So Nice was picked up by Columbia later in 1975. Again, it failed to even trouble the charts. By then, Rozetta was totally disillusioned with the music industry.

That was why Rozetta Johnston made the decision to turn her back on music. That was no surprise. Rozetta has released a string of singles that oozed quality. Especially the ballads. They featured Rozetta Johnston at her very best as she breathed life, meaning and emotion into the songs. However, when they were released as singles, they failed to find an audience. Maybe it would’ve been different if they had been released on a  major label? Then Rozetta Johnston’s music might have found the audience it deserved. However, in 1975, that wasn’t the case.

Rozetta Johnston was struggling to make a living out of music. She was no longer getting the bookings she once had. To make matters worse, only two of her singles had charted. Even then, they were only minor hits. So Rozetta Johnston made the decision to embark upon a new career.

This meant going back to school, and then heading to college part-time. Rozetta Johnston worked her way through college, and  eventually, graduated with a BA in sociology from the University of Alabama. After graduating, Rozetta Johnston began work as a teacher at Ramsay High School. 

Little did the pupils know that their teacher had once been one of the best up-and-coming Southern Soul singers. Rozetta Johnston could’ve and should’ve become one of the most successful Southern Soul singers. Sadly, that never happened.

It was only later that the music Rozetta Johnston released between 1963 and 1975 has began to find a wider audience. By then, Rozetta Johnson had made a comeback.

She had reinvented herself as a jazz singer, before returning to her first musical love, gospel. Sadly, three years after releasing a gospel album in 2008, Rozetta Johnson passed away on the 24th March 2011.  That day we los of one of the finest Southern Soul singers of her generation, Rozetta Johnson.

The Rozetta Johnson Story: A Case Of What Might Have Been.

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SPENCER WIGGINS-ONE OF SOUL MUSIC’S BEST KEPT SECRETS.

Spencer Wiggins-One Of Soul Music’s Best Kept Secrets.

Although Spencer Wiggins is nowadays, widely recognised by critics as one of the finest exponents of deep soul, sadly, he’s still one of soul music’s best kept secrets. Spencer Wiggins at the peak of his powers, had the ability to breath life, meaning and emotion into the lyrics of a song. Sadly, talent alone didn’t guarantee commercial success and critical acclaim for Spencer Wiggins, whose singles failed to find the audience they so richly deserved. Meanwhile, James Carr and Bobby Bland who grew up in the same part of Memphis, were  enjoying successful careers while he struggled to make a breakthrough first at Goldwax and then Fame. Ironically, that was when Spencer Wiggins released the best music of his career. His story began in Memphis in 1942.

Spencer Wiggins was born on January the ‘8th’ 1942, in Memphis, Tennessee, and for much of the forties and fifties, the Wiggins’ family lived in Homer Street. That was where Spencer Wiggins’ love of music blossomed, which his parents encouraged in the hope that it would save their son from getting into trouble. 

Both parents wanted their young family including Spencer Wiggins to embrace different types of music, and in the evening they settled down and listened to jazz, gospel and R&B on the radio. However, it was gospel music that Mrs Wiggins was particularly interested in, as she regularly sung in the choir at the New Friendship Baptist Church. Soon, she was encouraging her family to attend services on a Sunday,  and succeeded in doing so.

Before long, the choir at the New Friendship Baptist Church was a family affair, with Spencer and Percy Wiggins plus their sisters all joining their mother. By then, Spencer Wiggins had been introduced to Sam Cooke, who for a while was his favourite singer.

Soon, Spencer Wiggins who was still a high school student, decided to start singing outside of the confines of the New Friendship Baptist Church. Before long, he had discovered BB King Bobby Bland and Ray Charles who Spencer Wiggins quickly became his favourite singers. By then, he had introduced songs by BB King Bobby Bland and Ray Charles into his sets. This was fitting.

Bobby Bland was one of a number of singers who grew up in the same part of Memphis as Spencer Wiggins. Others included James Carr, Homer Banks, Maurice White and of course Spencer Wiggins’ brother Percy. All of these singers would go on to enjoy different degrees of success during their career.

Meanwhile, music was a constant throughout Spencer Wiggins’ schooldays. He sung at elementary school and then at Booker T. Washington High School which produced many famous musicians. During Spencer Wiggins’ time at Booker T. Washington High School, Booker T. Jones, Carl Hampton, David Porter, Gene Miller, Homer and James Banks, The Mad Lads, Maurice White and William Bell. Many of these singers, songwriters and musicians would become part of the Memphis music scene. That was all in future.

Before that, Nat D. Williams a history teacher Booker T. Washington High School started arranging talent nights for amateur musicians in Beale Street, which was situated in downtown Memphis. For aspiring musician including Spencer Wiggins, this was an opportunity to a make a breakthrough.

It was around this time that the Wiggins family formed a new five piece gospel group, the New Rival Gospel Singers. Initially, they played at the New Friendship Baptist Church before playing in churches across Memphis. Then in 1957, the New Rival Gospel Singers made their radio debut on Bless My Bones, but never got as far as recording a single or album.

During this period, Spencer Wiggins was a member of the Booker T. Washington High School’s sixty strong Glee Club, which featured his brother Percy, David Porter and Dan Greer. Three of this group Dan Greer, Percy and Spencer Wiggins were close friends from the early fifties right through to the early sixties. However, in 1961 nineteen years old Spencer Wiggins who had been held back a year, graduated high school. Now he had to decide what to do with his life.

Spencer Wiggins had no doubt about what he wanted to do with his life,…become a singer. Not just any singer, but one who enjoyed success coast to coast. Initially, Spencer Wiggins started singing on the local Memphis club scene, where he soon became a popular draw  at venues like The Flamenco Club. He worked five nights a week, and earned $9 a night, which soon rose to $15. Before long, Spencer Wiggins was sharing the bill with Al Green, and other nights, opened for Elvis Presley. For Spencer Wiggins the whole experience was a roller coaster, but one he was thoroughly enjoying.

Some nights when he finished at 2am, Spencer Wiggins headed to another venue like the WC Handy Club where he and has friends would shoot the breeze. Then as a new day dawned, Spencer Wiggins and the band wold practised for anything up to three hours. Spencer Wiggins was determined to make a career out of music, and was already making an impact in Memphis’ vibrant soul scene.

One night when Spencer Wiggins appeared at The Flamenco Club, he met Quinton Claunch the founder and owner of Goldwax Records after he had finished his set. By then, Spencer Wiggins was a regular performer in Memphis’ clubs, and it was possible that someone had told Quinton Claunch about the young soul singer Spencer Wiggins who many thought had a bright future ahead of him. So must have Quinton Claunch who offered Spencer Wiggins his first recording contract.

Soon, Spencer Wiggins was in Sam Phillips Madison Avenue studio, where he recorded his debut single for the Bandstand imprint. This was the Isaac Hayes composition Lover’s Crime which featured a hurt-filled vocal. However, when Lover’s Crime was  released in April 1964, it failed to trouble the charts.

In the spring of 1965, Spencer Wiggins returned to Sam Phillips’ studio on Madison where he recorded his sophomore single Take Me Just As I Am which was written by Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham. It features one heartfelt and emotive vocal from Spencer Wiggins whose at his most soulful . Considering Spencer Wiggins was just twenty-three, he shows a remarkable maturity on Take Me Just As I Am. Despite that, when Take Me Just As I Am was released as a single, lightning struck twice and the single failed to trouble the charts.

Despite his first two singles failing commercially, Spencer Wiggins continued to play the clubs around Memphis where he was still a popular draw. If anything, his popularity was rising, so Quinton Claunch sent him to Madison to record his third single.

The song that was chosen was Old Friend (You Asked Me If I Miss Her a collaboration between Jimmy Webb and George Jackson who wrote the B-Side Walking Out On You. When Old Friend (You Asked Me If I Miss Her was released on Goldwax Records,  in December 1966, it featured the  best performance of Spencer Wiggins’ career on a soul-baring slice of deep soul. Despite the   quality, Spencer Wiggins’ single failed commercially and he was was no nearer that elusive hit single.

Four months later, and Spencer Wiggins returned with his fourth single Up Tight Good Woman, which was written by Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham. It’s a song that could’ve only been recorded in Memphis in the late-sixties, as Spencer Wiggins delivers an impassioned vocal while elements of Southern Soul and Deep Soul melt into one. Sadly,  when Up Tight Good Woman was released in April 1967, it too, failed commercially and Spencer Wiggins’ search for his first hit single continued.

Another five months passed before Spencer Wiggins returned with his fifth single which the soul-baring ballad The Power Of A Woman which was penned by Quinton Claunch. This time around, the single was recorded in Memphis by a band that featured some top musicians, while Quinton Claunch and Randolph V. Russell took charge of production. They were partly responsible for one of Spencer Wiggins’ finest singles, which sadly, wasn’t the success that everyone hoped. Still, Spencer Wiggins was looking for his breakthrough single.

Five months later, and Spencer Wiggins released the Quinton Claunch composition That’s How Much I Love You on Goldwax Records in February 1968. I’m A Poor Man’s Son Spencer Wiggins’ impassioned vocal bristles with emotion as horns and harmonies accompany him on a song that could’ve transformed his fortunes. Again, both sides were recorded in Memphis, and were produced by the Quinton Claunch and Randolph V. Russell. Sadly, and despite their best efforts That’s How Much I Love You passed record buyers by.

After the commercial failure of That’s How Much I Love You, Quinton Claunch seemed in no hurry to release the followup single. Nine months passed before Spencer Wiggins released Once In A While (Is Better Than Never At All) as his seventh single for Goldwax Records. Sadly, things didn’t get any better when Spencer Wiggins’ seventh single failed to find an audience in November 1968. For Spencer Wiggins this was just the latest disappointment. Surely things couldn’t get any better?

As 1969 dawned Spencer Wiggins was preparing to release a cover pf Ronnie Shannon’s I Never Loved A Woman (The Way I Love You) as a single in February 1969. It was produced by Quinton Claunch and Randolph V. Russell who hoped that I Never Loved A Woman (The Way I Love You) would give Spencer Wiggins his belated breakthrough. Sadly, it wasn’t to be and it was the end of the line for Spencer Wiggins and rest of artists at Goldwax Records.

Later in 1969, the two owners of Goldwax, Quinton Claunch and Randolph V. “Doc” Russell decided to dissolve the label. They had been unable to agree on the future direction of Goldwax Records,  which drove a wedge between the pair. However, James Carr’s increasingly erratic behaviour caused by a worsening in his mental health problems was the final straw. The two friends decided to dissolve Goldwax and Spencer Wiggins and rest of artists at Goldwax Records were left without a label. 

Next stop for Spencer Wiggins was Fame, where he released Love Machine in November 1969 and Double Lovin’ in July 1970. When neither single was a commercial success, Spencer Wiggins was left without a label. Adding to Spencer Wiggins’ problems was that he never employed a manager. This was a decision that would cost Spencer Wiggins dearly.

Nearly three years later, in February 1973, Spencer Wiggins released I Can’t Be Satisfied (With A Piece Of Your Love) as a single on MGM Sounds Of Memphis. However, when the single failed to find an audience this was Spencer Wiggins’ eleventh single that that had failed commercially and caused Spencer Wiggins to rethink his future.

Spencer Wiggins wasn’t making a living singing soul, and when he left MGM Sounds Of Memphis he decided to reinvent himself as a bluesman in Florida. However, his career as a bluesman was short-lived and when his band failed to turn up for a show in Memphis in 1973, Spencer Wiggins called time on his career as a bluesman. For the next two years his life headed in a different direction.

For the next couple of years, spent most of his time working in a local church, and made his swan-song as a bluesman in 1975. A year later in 1976, and Spencer Wiggins ‘found’ god, and from 1977 onwards started singing gospel music. 

The same year, 1977, the Japanese label Vivid Music released an album of songs Spencer Wiggins recorded for Goldwax, Soul City USA. This includes Sweet Sixteen, My Love Is Real, I’ll Be True To You and Who’s Been Warming My Oven which made their debut on Soul City USA. It was also Spencer Wiggins’ debut album, as he had previously, only ever released singles. It was almost ironic that Spencer Wiggins’ debut album, Soul City USA was only released after her turned his back on soul and blues, and began recording gospel music. It was the end of era.

Sadly, Spencer Wiggins never enjoyed the commercial success and critical acclaim that his talent warranted. Despite that, Spencer Wiggins is nowadays, widely recognised by critics as one of the finest exponents of deep soul, but sadly, is still one of soul music’s best kept secrets. Even many soul fans haven’t heard of Spencer Wiggins, but after hearing his music once, they’re fans for life of a singer who had the potential and talent to become a giant of soul.

Spencer Wiggins-One Of Soul Music’s Best Kept Secrets.

 

 

THE PAUL MARCANO AND LIGHTDREAMS STORY.

The Paul Marcano and LightDreams Story. 

When British Columbian band LightDreams released their debut album Islands In Space in 1981,  it was a captivating psychedelic sci-fi odyssey exploring cosmic ideology. Normally, an album like Islands In Space would’ve found favour with fans of psychedelia and progressive rockers who embraced cerebral, innovative and epic albums. Alas, that wasn’t the case with Islands In Space, which was released by LightDreams. Sadly, history repeated itself a year later.

LightDreams who were now billed as Paul Marcano and LightDreams, had returned to the studio to record their sophomore album 10,001 Dreams. The album picked up where Islands In Space left off, and went as far as exploring what was described as “utopian outer space colonisation.” This was something that fascinated and enthralled Paul Marcano since he first encountered the work and theories of author, physicist and space activist, Gerard K. O’Neill. His work and theories influenced Paul Marcano  and the genre-melting music on 10,001 Dreams. It was recorded during 1982 and released that year.

This time around, Paul Marcano and LightDreams decided not to release the album on vinyl. Instead, it was released by the band on cassette. Just like Islands In Space, 10,001 Dreams found an audience within British Columbia, where the band were based. However, beyond British Columbia failed to find the audience it so richly deserved. 

It was only much later, that word began to spread about Islands In Space and 10,001 Dreams. Occasionally, a few lucky record and tape collectors chanced upon a copy of Islands In Space or 10,001 Dreams. They paid their money and discovered two groundbreaking hidden gems. Before long, collectors and aficionados of psychedelia were looking for copies of Islands In Space and 10,001 Dreams. This was a long shot, and most collectors came up short. However,  the lucky ones  were able to go back in time to British Columbia in 1981 when Paul Marcano met the musicians with whom he would form LightDreams.

Back in 1981. like most towns and cities, British Columbia had a vibrant and thriving music scene. Paul Marcano was part of this scene. He was looking for like minded musicians to collaborate with. Eventually, Paul found his circle of friends and like minded musicians.  Among the members of the newly formed band which became LightDreams, were Cory Rhyon and Andre Martin. They would record their debut album Islands In Space, later in 1981.

Islands In Space.

Paul Marcano dawned the role of the newly formed LightDreams. He was brimming with ideas, enthusiasm and energy. Not only had Paul been writing songs for a number or years, but he was also a talented multi-instrumentalist. With Paul at the helm, LightDreams’ thoughts began to turn to their debut album. 

There was a minor problem though. Recording studios were expensive and beyond the budget of LightDreams. An alternative was, recording the album using the pro-sumer technology that was becoming popular in the early eighties. That still required funds, funds which for most new bands, were limited. However, one of LightDreams’ friends had another idea, and decided to approach executives at the TEAC Corporation, in the hope that they would let the band use some of their technology. This was a long shot, but one that paid off.

The TEAC Corporation, who were a market leader in early eighties recording equipment, allowed LightDreams to use a 144 track cassette recorder. This was beyond their widest dreams, and more than enough to the record the psychedelic opus that LightDreams were planning.

LightDreams planned to record seven songs penned by Paul Marcano. These songs had been slightly influenced by the work and theories of author, physicist and space activist, Gerard K. O’Neill. This was someone who Paul Marcano had been enthralled by for several years. 

One of his theories was, that eventually, mankind would inhabit outer space. This Gerard K. O’Neill believed, would result in a much better world for those left behind inhabiting earth. No longer would there be problems with overpopulation and a reliance on natural resources.  However. Paul took this proposition further, exploring whether mankind’s grasp of space-age technology could lead to a peace and cosmic presence on earth? He was following in the footsteps of the progressive rockers, in making cerebral and ambitious music. 

To makes this music, which became Islands In Space, Paul Marcano who was producing the album would make good use of the 144 track cassette recorder. This was more than enough to record even the most ambitious Magnus Opus. Islands In Space had its very own Magnus Opus, Atmospheric Dreams; My Spirit Soars; Atmospheric Dreams a near eleven minute epic. It was just one of the seven tracks that were recorded and became Islands In Space.

Now that Islands In Space was completed, LightDreams decided to release the album themselves. This wasn’t unusual back in 1981, when there were many private pressings released. LightDreams had a 1,000 vinyl copies of Islands In Space pressed. These albums they hoped, they would be able to sell to their fellow British Columbians.

Alas, it wasn’t to be. Islands In Space, a captivating psychedelic and progressive sci-fi odyssey where LightDreams explored cosmic ideology passed record buyers by. They missed out on an album that wasn’t just ambitious, but innovative and featured cerebral and thought-provoking lyrics.  However, Paul Marcano and the other members of LightDreams, weren’t beaten. They decided to record a followup to Islands In Space. This would eventually become 10,001 Dreams.

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10,001 Dreams.

After the disappointing response to LightDreams’ debut album Islands In Space, they dusted themselves down and returned to the studio in 1982. By then, LightDreams were now being billed as Paul Marcano and LightDreams. For many groups, one member receiving equal billing as the group could’ve torn the group apart. However, Paul was playing a huge role in LightDreams. Not only was he the group’s principal songwriter, vocalist and  producer, he was also a multi-instrumentalist. He would would play an important part on what became 10,001 Dreams.

For the best part of a decade, Paul Marcano had been writing songs. Some of these songs he believed, were perfect for 10,001 Dreams. So Paul dusted down songs he had previously penned. The earliest of these songs was Follow The Stream, which Paul had written  and recorded in 1973. It was part of an album Paul recorded, but never released. This wasn’t the only album Paul hadn’t released.

Five years later, and Paul had penned Everyone Grows and Grows and Who Is The One in 1978. Again, it was part of an album that Paul recorded, but decided not to release. Since then, he had kept the song awaiting the right project. 10,001 Dreams was it. However, more songs were required for the album.

The rest of 10,001 Dreams consisted of new songs, including Andre Martin’s Being Here and Paul’s composition 10,001 Dreams. They were augmented by a trio of instrumentals including Stream III, the twenty-three minute epic In Memory Of Being Here and Building Islands In Space (Reprise). These tracks became 10,001 Dreams, the followup to Islands In Space.

Again, Paul Marcano and LightDreams recorded 10,001 Dreams with the 144 track cassette recorder. With so many tracks available, Paul who was producing the album, was able to let his imagination run riot.  Paul Marcano and LightDreams deployed a myriad of New Age synths and augmented this with the rhythm section and fuzzy, lysergic, languid and dreamy guitars. The result was a truly eclectic album, where a myriad of disparate influences seem to have influenced Paul Marcano and LightDreams.

The guitars that feature on 10,001 Dreams bring to mind Michael Rother’s first three albums, Flammende Herzen, Sterntaler and Katzenmusik. There’s also similarities to Manuel Göttsching’s Inventions For Electric Guitar. Similarly, the synths on 10,001 Dreams were reminiscent of those that played an important part of so many Berlin School and Krautrock albums. Other notable influences included sixties British psychedelia, seventies progressive rock, folk pop at its most melodic and ambient and avant-garde music. 10,001 Dreams was another ambitious and innovative album, which features aul Marcano and LightDreams at their most inventive and progressive. All that was left was to release the album.

With 10,001 Dreams completed, releasing the album on vinyl would’ve proved problematic. The album was the best part of ninety minutes long. It was far too long to fit on a one album. Instead, 10,001 Dreams would need to be a double album. This would’ve required significant investment from Paul Marcano and LightDreams. For the band, it was a big decision.There was always the possibility that the album might no sell, and they would fail to recoup their initial investment. A much simpler solution, was to release 10,001 Dreams on cassette. 

This made sense, as this meant that Paul would be able to make the cassette himself. So 10,001 Dreams was released on cassette later in 1982. Now it was a waiting game how would the music fans react?

Sadly, just like Islands In Space, 10,001 Dreams never found the audience it so richly deserved. That only happened much later.

Somewhat belatedly, word began to spread about 10,001 Dreams. Occasionally, a few lucky tape collectors chanced upon a copy of 10,001 Dreams. They paid their money a groundbreaking hidden gem. Before long, collectors and aficionados of psychedelia were looking for copies of 10,001 Dreams.

Ironically when 10,001 Dreams, was self released in 1982, Paul Marcano and LightDreams’ sophomore album passed most people by. It was only discovered by a  small group of discerning music fans living in British Columbia. Most collectors and aficionados of psychedelia got to the party late, as far as 10,001 Dreams was concerned. That’s apart from a few lucky music fans who found a copy of the tape in second hand stores or bargain bins. They paid their money, and discovered a groundbreaking, genre-melting hidden gem. Before long, word was out, and collectors and aficionados of psychedelia were looking for copies of 10,001 Dreams. It takes as its starting point psychedelia.

10,001 Dreams is much more than psychedelic album. Elements of ambient, avant-garde, Berlin School, folk pop, Krautrock, progressive rock and rock can be heard throughout 10,001 Dreams. It’s a musical potpourri, where instruments and influences melt into one as Paul Marcano and LightDreams sculpt a captivating psychedelic sci-fi odyssey. Just like Islands In Space, 10,001 Dreams finds  Paul Marcano and LightDreams continuing to explore cosmic ideology. This may seem like an unlikely theme for an album. However, back in the the seventies, when Paul Marcano wrote three of the songs on 10,000 Dreams, that was the age of progressive rock epics. They were almost de rigeur. It was almost a rite of passage for any self-respecting progressive rock band.

Paul Marcano and LightDreams weren’t just progressive rockers. Instead, they created innovative and inventive genre-music. They were musical pioneers  and  proof of that, is Paul Marcano and LightDreams’ debut album Islands In Space and the followup 10,001 Dreams, which feature ambitious, innovative and cerebral music that is truly timeless, and deserves to find its way into any self-respecting sonic explorer’s record collection.

The Paul Marcano and LightDreams Story.

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