CULT CLASSIC: MOUVEMENTS-MOUVEMENTS.

Cult Classic: Mouvements-Mouvements.

In the late-sixties, self-taught guitarist and jazz aficionado Christian Oestreicher, who was later described as: “a savage in the era of twist and free jazz,” met artist and painter Richard Reimann who was famous for his optical art, at the renowned Aurora art gallery in Geneva, Switzerland. This was the start of a friendship that saw the pair become familiar faces in Geneva’s underground scene which was populated by artists, musicians, painters, poets and writers. Christian Oestreicher and Richard Reimann felt at home within the burgeoning underground scene and were both inspired by the outpouring of creativity that was around them.

Over the next couple of years, the two friends continued their respective careers, until Christian Oestreicher founded a new band Mouvements, having recorded the music the band’s eponymous debut album during 1972, enlisted his friend Richard Reimann to create the artwork. 

In 1973, Mouvements was released as a hand-numbered, deluxe box set which featured series of Richard Reimann’s lithographies and inserts. However, only 150 box sets were available and Mouvements’ debut album soon sold out. Since then, it’s been a prized possessions amongst record collectors who cherish their copy of this groundbreaking,  ambitious and genre-melting album. album that was recorded by Christian Oestreicher and his musical friends during 1972.

Christian Oestreicher.

By 1972, Christian Oestreicher was a twenty-two year old aspiring musician who still lived in Geneva, where he was born in 1950. He had been introduced to music at an early age by his father, who loved jazz music and used to play everything from Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Eric Dolphy, Ornette Coleman and Thelonious Monk. Meanwhile, Christian Oestreicher’s cousin who was eight years his senior, introduced him to R&B, and especially the music of Chuck Berry and Ray Charles. This was all part of his musical education, and part of a voyage of discovery for Christian Oestreicher.

Having discovered and embraced an eclectic selection of disparate music, including jazz, R&B and French twist, it was almost inevitable that Christian Oestreicher would want to make the move from listener to musician. When he did, it was as the drummer in bands playing several bands who played New Orleans jazz and rock ’n’ roll between 1962 and 1964. However, in 1964 Christian Oestreicher’s father gave him a Gibson ES-330 TD guitar and he began to reinvent himself as a guitarist.

Unlike many young guitarists, Christian Oestreicher eschewed lessons, and initially, taught himself to play his newly acquired guitar. By then, he was listening to free jazz and would often play along to the records in his collection. Eventually, Christian Oestreicher realised that he could only go so far without lessons, and for two years was taught by French guitarist Bob Aubert.

By the mid-sixties, Christian Oestreicher’s musical education was at an end, and by then, his interest in free jazz had blossomed and he also became interested in the burgeoning American civil rights movement. This marked the start of a new chapter for the teenage guitarist.

Another new chapter began for Christian Oestreicher when he was eighteen, and started writing his own music. He wanted to write and bring to life the music that he was hearing. To transcribe the music, Christian Oestreicher sat with a paper, pencil and eraser which allowed him to write new compositions. This continued until tragedy struck for Christian Oestreicher.

When he was twenty, he crashed his moped into a pole, which resulted in Christian Oestreicher fracturing his skull and having to spend six months in hospital. For a while, he was in a coma and suffered epileptic seizures, but gradually, his health started to improve. 

So much so, that he was able to read Ernest Ansermet’s 1961 book Les fondements de la musique dans la conscience human, which made a big impression on Christian Oestreicher. He was fascinated by a book that explained the theory of music by math and physics. Christian Oestreicher was so inspired by the book that he spent six years studying the subject, and became especially interested in Pierre Schaeffer’s work. This was all in the future. 

Before that, Christian Oestreicher met painter Richard Reimann who was famous for his optical art, at the Aurora art gallery in Geneva, Switzerland in the late-sixties. Soon, the pair became friends and familiar faces in Geneva’s underground scene which was populated by artists, musicians, painters, poets and writers. By then, Christian Oestreicher was starting to forge a musical career, and began work on his first musical project Mouvements.

Initially, Mouvements was a double quartet that featured two drummers and bassists which also featured violinist Blaise Catala who later featured on the Mouvements’ album. This genre-melting album was recorded in 1972, at a mansion in Geneva, where Christian Oestreicher led a group of pioneering and maverick musicians.

When recording began at the Swiss mansion began in 1972, guitarist Christian Oestreicher setup three reel-to-reel tape recorders which would capture the music he made with drummer Jerry Chardonnens, pianist Jean-François Boillat and violinist Blaise Catala. The four musicians stood in a circle as they recorded the eight tracks that eventually become Mouvements. It finds the four members of Mouvements fusing and flitting between disparate musical genres that made for unlikely musical bedfellows.

This included free-jazz which was still one of Christian Oestreicher’s first musical loves, and rubbed shoulders with everything from avant-garde, classical, folk, funk, improv, Krautrock, Musique concrète and psychedelic rock. They were combined with Gallic influences and tape effects during the eight tracks that became Mouvements, which was an ambitious, exciting and innovative album. 

Side One.

That was apparent from the opening bars of the atmospheric and cinematic Largo Pour Piano et Océan, where a piano accompanies the sound of waves crashing on an empty beach. Initially the piano is played slowly and gingerly, but later block chords with power and frustration which adds an element of drama to this cinematic track. Goutte de Sang En Feu is a captivating fusion of avant-garde, Gallic folk, free jazz and tape experiments where Mouvements play with freedom and fluidity during a track that is innovative and is full of surprises. Despite being called, Hard-Rock Ouverture, elements of avant-garde, free jazz and funk are combined during this seven minute experimental rock epic. Ailleurs is a showcase for Christian Oestreicher’s guitar, which is played with speed and fluidity, as he unleashes washes of music that is rocky, lysergic and bluesy. Alas, this musical masterclass lasts less than two minutes.

7 Contre 4 has an understated ruminative sound, as Christian Oestreicher’s effects-laden guitar plays a leading role. Later, as the tempo increases and his playing becomes choppy and funky. It’s all change on Le Voyage Sperper where tape experiments and Musique concrète are part of the stop-start track, which also includes improv, jazz and rock as keyboardist Jean-François Boillat play a starring role. There’s a hesitant start to Nebel/Leben with drum rolls and washes of wailing feedback becoming part of this genre-melting soundscape. It features elements of psych-rock, free jazz, avant-garde, blues and tape experiments which play their part in an ambitious cinematic track. Closing Mouvements is Mémoire Pulvérisée where a Gallic violin is played with urgency, before tape experiments interject. After that, the arrangement heads in the direction of classical music albeit with a hint of avant-garde, ensuring this groundbreaking album ends on a high.

Once Christian Oestreicher had recorded Mouvements in 1972, he enlisted his friend Richard Reimann to create the artworks to the album. In 1973, Mouvements was released as a hand-numbered, deluxe box set which featured series of Richard Reimann’s lithographies and inserts. However, only 150 box sets were available and Mouvements’ debut album soon sold out. Since then, it’s been a prized possessions amongst record collectors who cherish their copy of this ambitious, groundbreaking and genre-melting album that was recorded by Christian Oestreicher and his musical friends during 1972. 

They combined everything from avant-garde, blues, classical, folk, free jazz, funk, improv, Krautrock, Musique concrète, psychedelic rock and tape experiments during Mouvements. What’s incredible about Mouvements, is that the group was no longer a double quartet, and had been scaled back to just drums, piano, violin and guitar which were augmented by the tapes which added another dimension to the music on Mouvements. Sometimes, the tapes add the final piece of the jigsaw like on Largo Pour Piano et Océan, and on Goutte De Sang En Feu they spring a surprise that ensures the listener is always on guard, awaiting the next in a series of surprises and unlikely interjections during their eponymous debut album Mouvements.

Sadly, Mouvements was the band’s only album, and they never returned with a followup. Maybe that was just as well, as they had set the bar high with Mouvements, which is a captivating cult classic that features groundbreaking and genre-melting music that  is cerebral, imaginative, thought-provoking and sometimes, is full of surprises as Mouvements showcase their considerable talent during eight tracks lasting forty-two minutes. 

Cult Classic: Mouvements-Mouvements.

 

DANA GILLESPIE-UNDER MY BED.

Dana Gillespie-Under My Bed.

Label: Ace Records.

During a career that has spanned fifty-five years, Dana Gillespie who is regarded by many as the Queen of British  blues has released seventy albums. This is quite remarkable as she  has recorded albums of folk,  pop, rock, soul and even Indian sacred music. However, nowadays, it’s  blues music that she’s synonymous with.

The future Queen of British  blues was born Richenda Antoinette de Winterstein Gillespie was born in Woking, Surrey, on the ‘30th’ of March 1949. Her fatherHans Henry Winterstein Gillespie was a London-based radiologist of Austrian nobility and the family grew up in leafy Surrey. In 1962, when she was thirteen, Dana Gillespie  became the British Junior Water Skiing Champion. However, just a couple of years later she was pursuing parallel careers as singer-songwriter and actress.

Having started off as a folk singer, Dana Gillespie changed direction and embraced the teen pop genre. In 1965, she released Thank You Boy in 1965 which was produced by Jimmy Page. However, a year later and the Surrey born singer made her film debut.

This came when Dana Gillespie featured in the Italian comedy Fumo di Londra which was written, directed and starred by Alberto Sordi. It was released in 1966 internationally as Smoke Over London and Gray Flannels.  Having made her film debut, the future Queen of British blues would combine  music with a career as an actress, and she  featured in fourteen films over the next six decades.

In 1972, Dana Gillespie sang backing vocals on It Ain’t Easy, a track from David Bowie’s classic album, The Rise and Fall Of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars. David Bowie and producer Mick Ronson realised Dana was a talented singer-songwriter and produced her 1973 album Weren’t Born A Man. However, this was her only dalliance with rock and after that, she found her real musical love, the blues.

The same year 1973,  Dana starred in the original London production of Jesus Christ Superstar at the Palace Theatre when  she played Mary Magdalene and appeared on the Original London Cast album. This was her highest profile role on the stage and is what many people will remember Dana Gillespie for.

The name Dana Gillespie means different things to different people. She’s a star of stage, screen, singer and songwriter. However, for many music fans she’s the Queen of British blues and has just released her seventieth album Under My Bed on Ace Records.

For Under My Bed twelve new songs were written over a four-year period with co-producer and guitarist Jake Zait who is a member of the London Blues Band. He wrote the music and  Dana contributed the lyrics to the song on Under My Bed. This she does in her now inimitable way.

Dana says: “The music is my inner voice and it tells me what to do. I hear melodies all around me, all the time, so I’m never alone. I always have a song bubbling away in my head.” Almost as if by magic, fully formed songs seemingly appear out of the ether and are recorded by the Queen  of the British blue and her tight talented band. Twelve of these feature on her new album Under My Bed.

The lyrics on Under My Bed range from autobiographical to Dana’s observations about life. She turns her attentions to the self important and boastful people who seem to be everywhere nowadays on the album opener Big Mouth. Her tight band get to wrk on a jive-based song while another highlight is Old School a sensual autobiographical track. Oher highlights include the confessional I’m In Chains, the rueful More Fool Me and hurt-fulled Another Heart Breaks. There’s an air of optimism in Walk In Love Today while on album closer Beats Working its as if Dana realises how lucky she is making a loving out making music for fifty-five years. 

This she’s loved doing and brings pleasure to her legion of fans. Dana Gillespie the Queen of British  blues is a talented singer and songwriter capable of writing witty, cerebral and emotive songs that deal with all sorts of situations including love, heartbreak and heartache Under My Bed with its mixture of putdowns and witticisms is a memorial offering  and befitting of her seventieth album.  

That is an amazing achievement considering that Dana Gillespie has combined an acting career with music over the past six decades. Still she has managed to record albums of the quality of Under My Bed which marks the welcome return of e the Queen of British  blues Dana Gillespie.

Dana Gillespie-Under My Bed.

MOVE ON UP: THE SONGS OF CURTIS MAYFIELD.

Move On Up: The Songs Of Curtis Mayfield.

Label: Playback.

Release Date ‘8th’ November 2019.

After the demise of The Impressions in 1970 following the release of Check Out Your Mind, Curtis Mayfield embarked upon a solo career. It spanned three decades and commercial success and critical acclaim were constant companions for the Chicago-born soul man.

Between his 1970 debut Curtis, and 1996s  New World Order the former Impression  released twenty-seven albums. This included seventeen studio albums,  six soundtracks and four live albums. Five of these albums topped the US R&B charts while Curtis, Super Fly and Back To The World were certified gold in America. While these three albums offer a tantalising taste of the considerable talents of Curtis Mayfield the soul singer, he was also a producer, but first and foremost regarded himself as a songwriter.

Many of his songs have been covered by other artists over the past five decades. This includes some of the biggest names in R&B, soul and funk have covered Curtis Mayfield songs from the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin to Maxayn and Melba Moore to Baby Huey and The Babysitters to Barbara Mason as well as Devon Russell, Gladys Knight and The Pips, Sue Barker and The Staple Singers. They’re just a few of the artists on Move On Up: The Songs Of Curtis Mayfield, which will be released by the Australian label  Playback on ‘8th’ November 2019. It features an all-star who cover twenty  of Curtis Mayfield’s love songs and his inimitable and timeless socially conscious soul.

Opening Move On Up: The Songs Of Curtis Mayfield  is Maxayn’s cover of Check Out Your Mind. It was the title-track from The Impressions’ final album released in 1970. Three years later in 1973,  Maxayn released her cover version on the Capricorn label. She delivers an impassioned and soulful vocal breathing meaning into lyrics full of searing social comment. This she does against a carefully crafted and funky backdrop that features a truly talented all-star band. It’s a wonderful way to start any compilation.

Gladys Knight and The Pips covered On and On in 1974. It was arranged by Rich Tulo and produced by Curtis Mayfield. Strings are added to the funky arrangement as The Pips compliment Gladys’  vocal which is impassioned, hopeful and full of optimism. It’s a reminder of one of the greatest female soul singers of her generation at the peak of her powers. 

By the time The Staple Singers released  Let’s Do It Again as a single in 1975, they were signed to Curtom Records and already had enjoyed  two number one singles in the US R&B charts.  Let’s Do It Again made it three and the alum topped the US R&B charts. This was the perfect way to start the post-Stax era for Mavis, Pervis, Pops and Yvonne. Together they’re responsible for vocal masterclass which is framed by Curtis Mayfield’s arrangement.

Barbara Mason who is best known for songs like Yes, I’m Ready and Bed and Board,  recorded Give Me Your Love for the Super Fly soundtrack. Her vocal veers between playful to seductive and sensuous  it’s one of the highlights of a classic Blaxploitation soundtrack which was released in 1972 and set the bar high.

Melba Moore recorded Make Me Believe In You  which was arranged and produced by Van McCoy, and released in 1976. Soulful and dancefloor friendly with a needy, hopeful vocal it was for too long an oft-overlooked hidden gem. Eventually it was released as a single in 2017 and makes a welcome return here.

Against a slow backdrop of lush, sweeping, cascading strings The Notations deliver a heartfelt, hurt-filled harmonies on I’ve Been Trying. This struggle ballad was released in 1972 and features a beautifully orchestrated arrangement that is the perfect backdrop to the harmonies as The Notations tug on the heartstrings.

When Aretha Franklin worked with Curtis Mayfield on the soundtrack to Sparkle in 1976, she was no longer enjoying the commercial success she had during the late-sixties and early seventies. This was a chance to rejuvenate her career, and one of the tracks she recorded was Look Into Your Heart. It’s almost tailor-made for the Queen of Soul  who implores the listener to “ Look Into Your Heart.” It was no surprise when the song reached ten in the US R&B charts and eighty-two in the US Billboard 100.

Sue Barker is, without doubt,  one of Australian music’s best kept secrets. Sadly, this hugely talented singer only released her one album. This was her her self-titled album which was a mixture of soul and jazz and included a stunning cover of Love To The People. It’s just one of many reasons to seek out this hidden gem on an album.

Joanna Teters and Sharon Musgrave joined forces to covered The Makings Of You in 1991. It features a slow, spacious and jazz-tinged arrangement, while Sharon lays bare her soul  with a beautiful, heartfelt vocal.

British born singer Geoffrey Williams covered Super Fly on his 2008 album Move Into Soul. It’s never easy covering such an iconic track but this tender, soulful take shows another side to the song.

Move On Up: The Songs Of Curtis Mayfield closes with En Vogue’s rendition of Giving Him Something He Can Feel from 1992. It was one of the most successful covers of a Curtis Mayfield soul. Sharp but smooth, soulful  and sensual it’s the perfect way to end this homage to one of the legends of soul musici and a truly talented songwriter.

It can’t have been easy choosing just twenty tracks written by Curtis Mayfield for Move On Up: The Songs Of Curtis Mayfield. There’s so many cover versions to choose from that this could easily have been a double album. However, twenty songs from familiar faces and new names were chosen. Legends of soul, funk and R&B rub shoulders with the likes of Sue Barker who is a welcome addition, and will be a new name to many people. This is the beauty of compilations discovering new artists and new versions of familiar songs. That is on That is the case  Move On Up: The Songs Of Curtis Mayfield which will be released by Playback on ‘8th’ November 2019.

Move On Up: The Songs Of Curtis Mayfield finds old friends and new names feature on this lovingly curated compilation of love songs and timeless socially conscious soul from the pen of one the greatest singer and songwriters of his generation. 

Curtis Mayfield for Move On Up: The Songs Of Curtis Mayfield.

 

MOTORPSYCHO-ANGELS AND DAEMONS AT PLAY-VINYL EDITION.

Motorpsycho-Angels and Daemons At Play-Vinyl Edition.

Label: Stickman Canada.

Nowadays, not many bands stay together thirty years and  longevity seems to be a thing of the past in the music business. Sadly, so is releasing an average of an album a year. That was common in the sixties and seventies but not any more. Very few bands come close to releasing an album a year. Instead, many bands spend several years working on an album. However, there is one band still that average an album a year, Motorpshycho, who have been together for three decades.

Motorspycho were formed in Trondheim, central Norway, in October  of 1989. Since then, they’ve become a musical institution. They’re now veterans of the Norwegian music scene, and continue to influence a new generation of musicians. These new bands aspire to follow in the footsteps of Motorpsycho.

They’ve come a long way since releasing their debut album Lobotomizer in 1991. Since then, Motorpsycho have been a prolific band, averaging nearly an album a year. This includes studio albums, live albums, mini albums and collaborations. These albums have been released to critical acclaim and commercial success.

That is almost an understatement. Since the release of their fourth full length album Timothy’s Monster in 1994, Motorspycho’s last fifteen albums have reached the top ten in the Norwegian charts. Motorspycho’s music has also found an audience across Europe, with their albums regularly charting in Belgium, Germany and Holland. They’re also a hugely popular live band, and are familiar faces across Europe and further afield. Motorpsycho it seems, are one of Norwegian most successful musical exports. 

Meanwhile, back at home in their native Norway, Motorpsycho have scooped some of the most prestigious musical prizes. This includes an Edvardprisen and a total of four Spellemannprisen Awards. These are the Norwegian equivalent of the Grammy Awards. Winning a Spellemannprisen is a huge honour. Most groups are lucky to be nominated for one award. So far, Motorpsycho have won four. One of the Spellemannprisen awards was for their 1997 double album Angels and Daemons At Play. It was a landmark album for Motorpsycho, and marked their coming of age musically. This makes Angels and Daemons At Play one of the most important albums in Motorpsycho’s back-catalogue. However, how did they get to Angels and Daemons At Play?

Motorpsycho’s musical journey began in Trondheim, in central Norway in October 1989. That was when three local musicians decided to form a new band. They were drummer Kjell Runar “Killer” Jenssen, bassist and vocalist Bent Sæther and guitarist and vocalist Hans Magnus “Snah” Ryan. Now the began to think of a name for their new band. 

This is a problem many bands are faced with. The three friends were faced with a similar situation, and were struggling to come up with a name. This problem was solved during a trip to London. The bandmates decided to watch  a Russ Meyer double bill featuring  Mudhoney and Faster Pussycat. Both would’ve been the perfect name for their new band. However, someone had beaten them to it. One name that was still free, was Motorpsycho, and that day, a Norwegian musical institution was born.

Maiden Voyage.

Recording of Maiden Voyage began on the 29th of April 1990, when How Was I To Know recorded How Was I To Know at UFFA, which was a youth club in Trondheim. It was also a meeting place for local musicians. This was where Motorpsycho returned to, between the 2nd and 6th June 1990. They recorded another four tracks. With one track left to record, Motorpsycho moved to Studentradion  on the 6th of June. That was where they recorded Blueberry Daydream. This was the final track that would feature on Maiden Voyage.

Later in 1990, Maiden Voyage was released on cassette as a limited edition, mini album. Only 100 copies of Maiden Voyage were released by the Knallsyndikatet fanzine. It’s now one of Motorpsycho’s rarest releases. Maiden Voyage introduced Motorpsycho’s genre-melting sound to a wider audience. It helped launch the career of Motorpsycho, who in 1990, were a new and up-and-coming band.

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Lobotomizer.

Later in 1990, Motorpsycho returned to the studio to begin work on their debut album, Lobotomizer. They recorded six of the tracks on Lobotomizer at the Warehouse, in Oslo during December 1990. Then three months later, in March 1991, Motorpsycho reconvened at Studentradioen. Two more tracks were recorded, Eternity and Lobotomizer. It would lend its name to Motorpsycho’s debut album.

After completing their debut album, another nine more months passed before Motorpsycho released their debut album, Lobotomizer in December 1991. This allowed them to further hone their sound, and continue to build a following. Motorpsycho did this the tried and trusted way, by playing live. By the time, the release of Lobotomizer came round Motorpsycho were already a popular live draw. 

Lobotomizer was released by Voices Of Wonder Records in December 1991. Initially, the album was only released on vinyl, as a limited edition of 1,000 copies. This was because Motorpsycho were still a relatively unknown band. Not for much longer though.

When Lobotomizer was  released, it was to critical acclaim. Motorpsycho with their unique fusion of grunge with heavy metal and indie rock were hailed as the future of Norwegian music. Things were looking up for Motorpsycho. 

Especially, after the shock departure of drummer Kjell Runar “Killer” Jenssen earlier in 1991.  That was  huge blow for the band. Kjell was replaced by Håkon Gebhardt who made his Motorpsycho debut on the mini album Soothe.

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Soothe.

The new lineup of Motorpsycho made their recording debut at Brygga Studios on the 2nd of January 1992. Over the next four days, five tracks were recorded. This included a cover of the Mamas and Papas’ California Dreamin’, which featured Lars Lien on backing vocals. This cover of California Dreamin’ became part of Motorpsycho’s second mini album, Soothe.

Later in 1992, Voices Of Wonder Records were preparing to release the Soothe mini album. It was a limited edition of 100, with seventy copies of Soothe being released in a signed steel box. They would later become highly collectable. Before that, the Motorpsycho success story continued apace.

Again, critical acclaim accompanied the release of Soothe. Critics were won over by Motorpsycho’s fusion of hard rock and psychedelia. Soothe was quite different to previous releases. Already, Motorpsycho’s music was evolving as they continued to reinvent themselves.  This would be the case throughout Motorpsycho’s career.

After the release of Soothe, Motorpsycho returned to the studio in July 1992 and recorded their single 3 Songs For Rut. On its release later in 1992, 3 Songs For Rut didn’t receive the same reception as Lobotomizer and Soothe.  Gone was the critical acclaim that had accompanied previous releases. For Motorpsycho, self doubt entered the equation, just when everything had been going so well.

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8 Soothing Songs For Rut.

Despite the critics reaction to 3 Songs For Rut, Motorpsycho 8 Soothing Songs For Rut decided to included the songs on their sophomore album. This would also feature the songs from the Soothe mini album. These eight songs became Motorpsycho’s sophomore album, 8 Soothing Songs For Rut.

It was released later in 1992, and 8 Soothing Songs For Rutwas well received by critics. They were won over by Motorpsycho’s mixture of hard rock, psychedelia, stoner rock and grunge. Again, this proved popular with Norwegian record buyers.  However, not as popular as Motorpsycho’s next album, Demon Box, which was a game-changer.

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Demon Box.

After the release of  8 Soothing Songs For Rut, a new name joined Motorpsycho. This was sonic scientist Helge “Deathprod” Sten. His sonic noise experiments would move Motorpsycho’s music in a very different direction as they pondered their next album.

By then, Motorpsycho had only one roll of the dice left. Their contract with Voices Of Wonder Records was almost up. They owed the record company one more album. In such a situation, most groups would’ve tried to replicate their debut album Lobotomizer. However,  Motorpsycho weren’t most bands. Instead, they decided to moved their music in a new direction, and in the process, created an ambitious, double album, Demon Box.

Recording of Demon Box took place in December 1992.  On a number of tracks, Motorpsycho brought in a few musical friends. Their job was augmenting Motorpsycho’s sound. To create this new sound, Motorpsycho’s friends deployed  an eclectic selection of instruments. This included a sitar, violin, mellotron, synths, percussion and organ. None of these instruments had featured on a Motorpsycho album. This was a first, with Motorpsycho and their friends crafting a very different album.  Demon Box found Motorpsycho’s music heading in new directions.

During the recording of Demon Box, Motorpsycho drew inspiration from a wide variety of musical influences and genres. This included everything from avant-garde, electronica, folk and free jazz and grunge, to heavy metal, indie rock,  jazz, Krautrock, psychedelia and rock. They all shine through on Demon Box. Often, there’s only the merest of glimpses of these influences. However, they can be heard, and made Demon Box a captivating, innovative and progressive album that launched the career of Motorpsycho.

When Demon Box was released later in 1993, Motorpsycho hit the jackpot. Demon Box received praise, plaudits and critical acclaim from critics and cultural commentators. They couldn’t praise Demon Box highly enough. It was a hailed an ambitious,  groundbreaking and genre-melting album of innovative music. Suddenly, Motorpsycho were bring described as one of the most important Norwegian bands. Motorpsycho’s  plan to reinvent their music had worked, and resulted in a career defining, classic  album. Demon Box was also the most successful album of their career. This however, would soon change.

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Timothy’s Monster.

After the release of Demon Box, Motorpsycho’s contract with Voices Of Wonder Records came to an end. By then, the success of Demon Box had brought Motorpsycho to the attention of what was, one of the world’s biggest, and most prestigious record labels, EMI. They were keen to sign to sign Motorpsycho, whose star was very much in the ascendancy.

For Motorpsycho, this was a dream come true. They were about to sign to a major label. It was what they had been working towards since 1989. This was the start of a new chapter in the  Motorpsycho story.

Motorpsycho decided to launch their career at EMI by recording the most ambitious album of their career. This was Timothy’s Monster, q sprawling triple album that featured fifteen tracks. To record this Magnus Opus, Motorpsycho were joined by Lars Lien  and Helge “Deathprod” Sten. He would coproduce Timothy’s Monster with Motorpsycho.

Recording of Timothy’s Monster took place during the winter and spring of 1994. Most of the album was recorded at Brygga Studio, in Trondheim. Some sessions took place at Strype Audio, where the album was later mastered.

Then EMI could prepare for the release of Timothy’s Monster. The release was scheduled for the 6th of August 1994. This was a huge step for Motorpsycho, as  Timothy’s Monster was their major label debut. 

Before that, the critics had their say on Timothy’s Monster. Just like previous albums, critical acclaim accompanied the release of Timothy’s Monster. Things got even better when the album was released. It entered the Norwegian charts, and eventually reached number seven. For Motorpsycho this was a proud moment. 

So was when the album cover for Timothy’s Monster was nominated for the most prestigious Norwegian music award, a Spellemannprisen. At the award ceremony, Timothy’s Monster won Motorpsycho their first Spellemannprisen award. It certainly wouldn’t be the last. Not by a long chalk.

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Blissard,

Following the commercial success of Timothy’s Monster, Motorpsycho spent much of 1994 and the early part of 1995 touring. They were determined to build up their following outside of their native Norway.  However, by September 1995, Motorpsycho returned to their studio with Bent Sæther and Helge “Deathprod” Sten taking charge of production.

This time around,  Motorpsycho decided to change their modus operandi. Rather than spending time experimenting and working on ideas in the studio, Motorpsycho arrived with songs already written and committed to tape. The theory was, that Motorpsycho would be more focused and spend less time recording their new album, Blissard. This new idea worked, and by December 1995, Motorpsycho, with the help of a few of their musical friends, had recorded another ambitious double album Blissard. 

Two months later, and EMI subsidiary Columbia were preparing to release Blissard. Just like previous albums, Blissard won over critics, and it was released to widespread critical acclaim. Again, critics were impressed by what was another genre-melting album. Motorpsycho combined alternative rock, avant-garde, electronica,  psychedelia and stoner rock on Blissard. It was a captivating album that was sure to capture the imagination of record buyers.

That proved to be the case. When Blissard was released  on February 16th, 1996, the album proved popular amongst Norwegian  record buyers. The album began to climb the charts, and eventually reached the top ten. Still Blissard kept climbing the charts. Eventually, it  reached number three. This made it Motorpsycho’s most popular album. That however, wasn’t the end of the success story that was Blissard.

Later in 1996, Motorpsycho found themselves being nominated for a second Spellemannprisen award. Blissard had been nominated for the best album in the hard rock category. This was always a category where the competition was tough. Despite this, Motorpsycho triumphed when Blissard won the group their second Spellemannprisen award. Soon, two would become three.

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Angels and Daemons At Play.

Motorpsycho had just released the most successful album of their seven year career, Blissard.  Following this up wasn’t going to be easy. If any Norwegian group was capable of surpassing Blissard, it was Motorpsycho. 

Throughout their career, they had built on their previous success. Motorpsycho  were determined that this would continue on their sixth album Angels and Daemons At Play. The story began in October 1996, when Motorpsycho entered the studio to record a new album. It would be co-produced by sonic scientist  Helge “Deathprod” Sten. He would also feature on Angels and Daemons At Play.

Ever since Helge “Deathprod” Sten first began working with Motorpsycho, their sound had changed. Partly, this was because of the array of instruments and effects used. Similarly, Motorpsycho were now using a much more eclectic selection of instruments.  This was the case on Angels and Daemons At Play.

As Motorpsycho and their friends arrived at the studio, they brought began setting up a vast arsenal of musical instruments and effects. Drummer Håkon Gebhardt would play banjo, percussion, piano and add vocals. Bassist Bent Sæther played acoustic and electric guitars,  double bass, mellotron,  Fender Rhodes,  Moog Taurus, percussion, organ, piano and drums on Sideway Spiral I. He too, would add vocals. So would Hans Magnus Ryan, who would play acoustic and electric guitars, bass, double bass, percussion,  vibes, piano, organ, Moog Taurus and drums on Atlantic Swing. The three members of Motorpsycho were joined by three of their friends.

This included co-producer and associate member of Motorpsycho, Helge “Deathprod” Sten. He brought with him oscillators, an echoplex, reverators and a ring modulator. Ole Henrik Moe arrived with an alto and soprano saw, violin and would play piano.  Morten Fagervik  brought with him his guitar, which he played on Atlantis Swing. It was one of fourteen songs that Motorpsycho recorded during October 1997. They were meant to become Motorpsycho’s next album, Angels and Daemons At Play.

Before that, Motorpsycho decided to release the tracks that had been recorded during the sessions as a trio of  limited edition E.P.s. Only 500 copies of each E.P. would released early in 1997.

As 1997 dawned, Motorpsycho began to prepare for the release of the three limited edition E.P.s  This was a first for them. Never before had they released three E.P.s  on consecutive weeks. The first E.P. was due to released in the last week of January 1997.

Baby Scooter.

This was the Baby Scooter E.P It was released on the 27th of January 1997, and featured five tracks. This included Sideway Spiral, Walking On The Water, Heartattack Mac, Pills Powders and Passion Plays and In the Family. These tracks proved popular amongst record buyers in Norway.

When the Baby Scooter E.P. was released, it reached number fourteen in the Norwegian charts. This was just the latest success to come Motorpsycho’s way. That was no surprise as The Baby Scooter E.P.  showcases the different sides to Motorpsycho. That had been the case throughout their career, and continued on the next E.P

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Have Spacesuit Will Travel.

A week later and Have Spacesuit Will Travel was released on the 3rd of February 1997. It was a very different E,.P. This time, the E.P. consisted of one epic track that featured three parts. 

Upon its released,  Have Spacesuit Will Travel charted, and eventually, reached number thirteen in the Norwegian charts. Motorpsycho’s decision to release the trio of E.P.s had been vindicated, as it gave them another hit single, and featured the band at their groundbreaking best.  

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Lovelight.

The third and final E.P. that Motorpsycho released, was Lovelight. It was released on the 10th of February 1997, and featured another six tracks. This included Sideway Spiral II, Like Always, Stalemate, Starmelt, Lovelight, Timothy’s Monster and Atlantis Swing. Again, a myriad of musical genres and influences can be heard throughout Lovelight. 

When Lovelight was released, it followed in the footsteps of Baby Scooter and Have Spacesuit Will Travel, and reached thirteen in the Norwegian charts. This meant that each of the E.P.s from the  sessions. For Motorpsycho, this augured well for the release of Angels and Daemons At Play. later in 1997.

Angels and Daemons At Play.

Later in 1997, Motorpsycho were preparing to release their sixth album Angels and Daemons. It was a truly eclectic album stylistically, and it wasn’t going to be easy to program the album so that the album flowed. However, Motorpsycho had a plan that would ensure that the album ‘worked’ and made sense sonically.

Motorpsycho wanted Columbia, who in 1997,  were owned by Sonym to release three separate versions of the album on CD and LP. This included a shortened CD version that featured just twelve tracks. There would be a three CD box set that replicated the three E.P.s, Disc one would replicate Baby Scooter, disc two Have Spacesuit Will Travel and disc three Lovelight. The vinyl version was a double album. However, given the constraints of vinyl, two tracks were omitted and only fourteen tracks made their way onto the double album. This was a complicated project, and one that took a lot of planning. Producing three different versions of an album was almost unheard of in 1997. Nowadays, it’s commonplace. Not for the first time, Motorpsycho were pioneers.

Now that Motorpsycho had worked out how they wanted to release Angels and Daemons, Columbia started to make plans for the release of the album later in 1997. Eventually,Angels and Daemons At Play was ready for release.

Just like previous albums, critical acclaim accompanied the release of Motorpsycho’s sixth album It was one of their most eclectic album, with Motorpsycho drawing inspiration from a myriad of musical genres and influences. This found favour with the Norwegian music buying public. 

Upon the release of Angels and Daemons, it entered the Norwegian charts. It began to climb the charts, and eventually reached the top ten and didn’t stop there. Eventually, it reached number two becoming the most successful album of Motorpsycho’s career. That however, wasn’t the end of the success for Motorpsycho.

Later in 1997, Motorpsycho found themselves being nominated for a third Spellemannprisen award. Angels and Daemons At Play was nominated in the hard rock category. This was the category that Motorpsycho won with Blissard in 1996. They made it two in a row in 1997, when Angels and Daemons won Motorpsycho the third Spellemannprisen award of their career. This they won with what many critics called the most eclectic album of their career. 

Angels and Daemons a groundbreaking, genre-melting, classic album, where Motorpsycho combined elements of alt rock, avant-garde, electronica and experimental music with Krautrock, post rock, psychedelia, space rock and stoner rock. All these genres can be heard on Angels and Daemons At Play. Some are only glimpsed briefly, while others play a larger part in the sound and success of Angels and Daemons At Play. It marked a coming of age musically for Motorpsycho, who were also well on their way to becoming one of the most successful Norwegian bands in 1997. 

Especially afterAngels and Daemons At Play reached number two in the Norwegian charts, and became the most successful album of Motorpsycho’s career. It also went on to win a Spellemannprisen awards in the hard rock category later in 1997. This was the third Spellemannprisen awards of Motorpsycho’s career so far. The recent reissue on vinyl of Angels and Daemons At Play as a double albumin  by Stickman Canada  is a reminder of Motorpsycho’s coming of age musically and nowadays, is regarded as one of their classic albums.

Motorpsycho-Angels and Daemons At Play-Vinyl Edition.

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DAVE GODIN’S DEEP SOUL TREASURES VOLUME 5.

Dave Godin’s Deep Soul Treasures Volume 5.

Label: Kent Soul.

It’s hard to believe that it’s fifteen years since the passing of Dave Godin, one of the most influential and informative writers on soul music. He was passionate about soul music and wanted to convert agnostics and make believers of them. His passion was obvious in his columns for Blues and  Soul, and then later, in the much-missed Soulful Kinda Music magazine. However, Dave Godin who coined them term deep soul, didn’t just write about music.

He also compiled and lent his name to a quartet of lovingly curated compilations of deep soul for Kent Soul. Sadly, Dave Godin’s Deep Soul Treasures Volume 4 was released just a few months before his death fifteen years ago. For many critics it was the finest instalment in the series. 

As a mark of respect, Kent Soul didn’t release any further instalments in this much-loved series. That was despite having lists of tracks that David Godin felt were worthy of including on the original volumes. It would’ve been easy enough to compile further compilations. However, this didn’t happen as Kent Soul didn’t want to be accused of cashing in on Dave Godin’s name.  

As the years passed, the label managed to secure the rights to various tracks that Dave Godin believed were among the most important in the deep soul genre. These tracks and some from David Godin’s lists became the first instalment in the series for fifteen years. This is Dave Godin’s Deep Soul Treasures Volume 5, which has just been released by Kent Soul, an imprint of Ace Records.

Opening Dave Godin’s Deep Soul Treasures Volume 5 is Who Knows by The Soul City, which was released by Goodtime in 1966. It was penned by William Guest and Gladys Knight, who recorded the song in 1965. This is a heart-wrenching cut that epitomises everything that is good about deep soul.

Helena Ferguson only ever released two singles during her career. This includes Where’s The Party, which was released on Compass in 1969, and showcases a singer with the ability to breath meaning and emotion into lyrics with a vocal that is almost needy.

Despite enjoying a lengthy career, Home Is Where The Hatred Is has to be one of Esther Phillips’ finest recordings. She was accompanied by some top session players and an orchestrated arrangement on a single for the Kudu label which was released in 1972. It’s a soul-baring reading and it sounds as if Esther Phillips had lived the lyrics as as she reinvents Gil Scott-Heron’s classic.

Soul-baring and impassioned describes I Ain’t Got To Love Nobody Else by The Masqueraders, which was released on Bell in 1968. It’s a reminder if any was needed of how good a group the Dallas-based Masqueraders were.

One of the tracks Dave Godin always wanted to feature on one of his compilations was Somebody New by The Emotions. It was released by Twin Stacks in 1968, and features a hurt-filled vocal from the Chicago-based trio. This was just the start of the rise and rise of The Emotions.

(Until Then) I’ll Suffer featured on the album Here Is Barbara Lynn which was released by Atlantic in 1968. It features an emotive, hurt-filed vocal as Barbara Lynn lives the lyrics and makes the pain seem very real.

Ed Townsend wrote and produced Foolish Fool for Dee Dee Warwick. She lays bare her soul for all to see on a single released  on Mercury in 1968.

James Carr was one of the greatest soul singers ever, and These Ain’t Raindrops shows just why.  It was released on Goldwax in 1969, and is an outpouring of emotion, hurt, sorrow and soulfulness from a musical master craftsman who had the ability to bring a song to life.

Can’t Last Much Longer is a reminder of a vasty underrated soul singers Betty Harris. She recorded for the New Orleans-based Sansu label and this track was one of her finest recordings. 

Lovers Always Forgive was written by Van McCoy and released by Gladys Knight and The Pips in 1964. It’s a stunning and sensuous sounding track that more than hints at what was to come from one of the great female soul  singers of her generation.

Judy White who  was the daughter of bluesman Josh White, recorded Satisfaction Guaranteed for Buddah, which was released in 1969. It showcases a truly talented singer accompanied by some top session players as she  delivers an impassioned vocal that is intense and bristling with emotion. 

A gospel influence can be heard throughout I Will  by  Lattimore Brown, which was released by the Renegade label in 1970. Especially the piano that is part of the understated arrangement that accompanies a vocal that is akin to a confessional.

What Can I Do (Without You) was released on the Loma label in 1968, and features a vocal powerhouse from Linda Jones. She’s another vastly underrated soul singer whose music deserves a wider audience.

Nothing Can Change The Love I Have For You by Z.Z. Hill closes Dave Godin’s Deep Soul Treasures Volume 5. It’s a cover  of Sam Cooke song that was released on Kent in 1967. However, ZZ breathes life, meaning and emotion into his impassioned reading of this cover version. It closes the compilation on a high.

After the passing of David Godin it seemed unlikely that there would ever be another instalment in the deep soul  compilation that he lent his name to.  As the years passed by Kent Soul resisted the temptation to release another compilation of what was one of their most popular compilation series’. That was despite having lists of tracks that David Godin felt were worthy of inclusion on the original volumes. It would’ve been easy enough to compile further compilations. This didn’t happen as Kent Soul didn’t want to be accused of cashing in on Dave Godin’s name.

Now fifteen years later and Kent Soul had secured the rights to various tracks that Dave Godin believed were among the most important in the deep soul genre. These were augmented with tracks from his lists. The result was Dave Godin’s Deep Soul Treasures Volume 5, which is a welcome addition to this much-loved series.  It features twenty-five tracks by familiar faces and new names that all have one thing in common …quality. These tracks feature deep soul at its finest and epitomises everything that is good about the genre. For a newcomer Dave Godin’s Deep Soul Treasures Volume 5 is the perfect introduction to the genre before discovering the delights of this lovingly curated compilation of beautiful, emotive and  heart-wrenching soul music.

Dave Godin’s Deep Soul Treasures Volume 5.

CULT CLASSIC: TOHRU AIZAWA QUARTET-TACHIBANA.

Cult Classic: Tohru Aizawa Quartet-Tachibana. 

For many connoisseurs of jazz, especially seventies J-Jazz, one little known private pressing is their holy grail, and everywhere they go is the album they search for. There’s always the hope that in a backstreet record shop, antique centre or thrift store in a town or city somewhere in the world a copy of Tohru Aizawa Quartet’s 1975 album Tachibana way be sitting unnoticed. It’s highly unlikely though, as only a few hundred copies of Tachibana were pressed. 

On the rare occasions when a copy of Tachibana is found, and is offered for sale on an online auction or specialist site where vinyl is bought and sold, many jazz collectors will express an interest. However, very few will be able to afford what is one of the rarest J-Jazz albums ever recorded. Currently, there are just three copies of Tachibana for sale, and cheapest is £550 and comes with a sleeve that is graded at very good plus. For some jazz collectors who only by albums in near mint condition, they’re going to have to dig deeper and spend between £820 and £1,150. Sadly, that is beyond the budget of the majority of jazz fans and means they’ll be unable to hear Tohru Aizawa Quartet’s J-Jazz classic Tachibana, which has a remarkable backstory.

The story began in the early seventies when brothers Tetsuya Morimura and Kyoichiroh Morimura decided to form a jazz group. Tetsuya Morimura who was a drummer, had been inspired by his heroes Elvin Jones and Tony Williams, Meanwhile, Tetsuya Morimura’s brother Tetsuya Morimura, who was a saxophonist, was influenced by his heroes John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter and Japanese jazz legend Sadao Watanbe. These musicians and the Morimura brothers love of jazz was why they decided to form a new group.

Prior to this, Kyoichiroh Morimura had been a part of the college jazz scene in Kunitachi Music University, in North Tokyo, and for a while had played with koto master Hideakira Sakurai. Ironically, it was with Hideakira Sakurai that pianist Tohru Aizawa had made his debut. Little did Tohru Aizawa and the Morimura know that their paths were about to cross.

This occurred when the Morimura brothers attended a music festival at medical school in Maebashi, in the Gunma Prefecture, in the norther Kantō region. That night, the brothers saw pianist Tohru Aizawa play for the first time and were captivated by his skills as a pianist. Tohru Aizawa was a  couple of older than the Morimura brothers was studying to become a doctor, and also loved jazz music. When Tohru Aizawa and the Morimura brothers met, it wasn’t long before they were planning to form a band together. All they needed was a bassist.

It wasn’t long before Tohru Aizawa and the Morimura brothers met law student and bassist Kozo Watanabe, and the lineup of the nascent quartet was complete. The new quartet they decided to call Mr Aizawa, which would play in local jazz clubs in Maebashi in the Gunma Prefecture.

This included Mokuba, which was situated in Maebashi, and owned by Kohichi Negishi. Mokuba became one of Mr Aizawa’s favourite venues and they soon became the club’s unofficial house band. The more that Mr Aizawa played the better they got, and many of the regular patrons noticed this improvement. Mr Aizawa seemed to improve with each performance and that the music they made was becoming much more melodic. This included a local businessman who had watched with interest as Mr Aizawa improved over the last few weeks and months.

Eventually, Ikujiroh Tachibana who was a local hotelier and huge jazz fan approached Mr Aizawa with an offer that many jazz bands the world over could only have dreamt of. Ikujiroh Tachibana offered to finance and record an album of Mr Aizawa’s music which he would use to promote his various business interests. This included the venue Tachibana Hall, which was situated in Takahashi Machi, in Numata City, which was forty miles from Maebashi. It didn’t take long for the members of Mr Aizawa to accept Ikujiroh Tachibana’s generous offer.

No expense was spared for the recording at Tachibana Sound Hall, Numata, Gunma, Japan. Ikujiroh Tachibana purchased new instruments from the Yukigasa Instrument Store and Mr. Yukimoto ensured the new instruments made their way to  Tachibana Sound Hall in plenty of time for the recording of what would eventually Tachibana. 

The Tachibana took place in 1975 at Tachibana Sound Hall, where many famous jazz musicians had been invited to play by Ikujiroh Tachibana. Now four students were about to record an album, and no expense was being spared. Kunio Arai an engineer from Trio Kenwood Records had been brought onboard to record and run the sessions, although it was Ikujiroh Tachibana produced the Tachibana. Meanwhile some of the band were preparing to record the album with new instruments.

Drummer Tetsuya Morimura and bassist Kozo Watanabe had new instruments to play, while the final member of the rhythm section pianist Tohru Aizawa, took his seat at a Steinway full concert grand. Saxophonist Kyoichiroh Morimura had a new tenor and soprano saxophone to play for the recordings.

The band that had started life as Mr Aizawa was now called the Tohru Aizawa Quartet, and had written three compositions that were about to be recorded. This included Tetsuya Morimura’s Philosopher’s Stone, Kyoichiroh Morimura’s Sacrament and Tohru Aizawa’s Dead Letter. They were joined by covers of Chick Corea’s La Fiesta and Samba De Orfeu which was penned by Brazilian jazz guitarist and composer Luiz Bonfá. These tracks would become Tohru Aizawa Quartet’s debut album Tachibana.

Later in 1975, Tohru Aizawa Quartet released their debut album Tachibana as a private pressing on Tachibana Record, which had been formed by Ikujiroh Tachibana. It’s thought that anywhere between 150 to 1,000 copies of Tachibana were pressed by  Ikujiroh Tachibana as the album wasn’t a commercial release.

Instead, Ikujiroh Tachibana planned to use copies of Tachibana as his business card. Great importance was placed on the exchange of business cards in Japan. It was recognised as part of strict protocol, and part of etiquette that had been established over not just years, but generations. Some business people presented grand and lavish business cards, but a copy of the Tohru Aizawa Quartet’s debut album Tachibana was sure to trump everything. Or so Ikujiroh Tachibana must have thought.

Sometimes when Ikujiroh Tachibana proudly handed over a copy Tachibana, its recipient often discarded the album. They were obviously not a J-Jazz fan. 

Ironically the lucky recipient had discarded or given away to their secretary or assistant what would become one of the rarest album J-Jazz albums ever. Especially as there may have only been 150, 200 or 1,000 copies of Tachibana pressed.

It was only much later that the Tohru Aizawa Quartet’s debut album Tachibana became a cult classic amongst jazz fans and especially connoisseurs of J-Jazz. That was no surprise given the quality of this hidden J-Jazz gem.

Tachibana opens with Philosopher’s Stone which was written by Tetsuya Morimura. The track is an energetic percussive workout and a showcase for drummer Tetsuya Morimura’s considerable skills. His playing underpins this muscular track as the Tohru Aizawa Quartet play with urgency, power and freedom as they switch between modal and free jazz.

Sacrament was written by saxophonist Kyoichiroh Morimura and the influence of his heroes Wayne Shorter and John Coltrane, especially his later music. The influence of Pharaoh Sanders can be heard in Kyoichiroh Morimura’s playing. After a prolonged introduction, the rhythm section launch into a busy, swirling groove and Kyoichiroh Morimura unleashes a blazing, scorching soprano saxophone solo . He plays with speed, power and accuracy, as pianist Tohru Aizawa matches him every step of the way. However, Kyoichiroh Morimura steals the show as he pays homage to his hero John Coltrane and also Pharaoh Sanders as he unleashes sheets of sound but resists the temptation to overflow during one of the highlights of Tachibana.

There’s an almost melancholy quality to Tohru Aizawa’s piano during the introduction to La Fiesta. It breezes joyously along with the piano playing a leading role. So does  Kyoichiroh Morimura’s saxophone and together, they breath new meaning into the track. Later, Tohru Aizawa delivers a  fast and flawless fleet-fingered performance on piano and this seems to inspire the rest of the quartet. Especially Kyoichiroh Morimura, who joined forces with Tohru Aizawa and they play leading roles and play with speed, power and accuracy as they breeze through this Chick Corea composition .

Dead Letter was written by Tohru Aizawa, and features an impressive and energetic performance where the Quartet combine power with urgency. Fittingly, Tohru Aizawa’s piano plays a leading role and sometimes, he seems to have been influenced by McCoy Tyner a stunning performance. Given the quality of his playing during this piece it was no surprise that many thought Tohru Aizawa was destined for greatness. Sadly, Tachibana was his only recording and Dead Letter features his finest hour.

Samba De Orfeu closes Tachibana and finds Tohru Aizawa Quartet race through this cover version. It’s Tohru Aizawa’s piano and Kyoichiroh Morimura’s saxophone that play starring roles. Despite playing at breakneck speed it’s a flawless performance. Tohru Aizawa again showcases his enviable talent during the solos. So does drummer Tetsuya Morimura as he works his way round the kit before passing the baton Tohru Aizawa. He’s joined by Kyoichiroh Morimura and they unite one last time during  this joyous sounding race through of Samba De Orfeu, which closes the album on a high.

Tachibana is one of the rarest J-Jazz albums of the seventies, with between 150 and 1,000 copies of the album being pressed. They became Ikujiroh Tachibana’s business card, which he handed out to his business associates. Alas, not every recipient was a jazz fan, and many copies were discarded. This meant that an already rare J-Jazz album became even rarer. That is  why an original copy of Tachibana costs anywhere between £550 and £1,200 and is beyond the budget of most jazz fans. 

Nowadays, Tachibana is regarded as the holy grail by connoisseurs and collectors of J-Jazz who dream of finding a copy of what’s an almost mystical album and legendary cult classic.

Cult Classic: Tohru Aizawa Quartet-Tachibana. 

 

CULT CLASSIC: HAL BRADBURY-THIS IS LOVE.

Cult Classic: Hal Bradbury-This Is Love.

During the late-seventies and early eighties the Hawaiian music scene was thriving, and  generation of artists were making a name for themselves. Many of these artists would go onto release albums. Everyone from songwriters, session musicians and owners of recording studios were enjoying the benefits of the mini-boom. However, much of the music coming out of Hawaii was influenced by the Laurel Canyon sound.

From the mid-seventies onwards, the West Coast of America was the place to be musically. Especially Laurel Canyon. This was home to some of the most successful singer songwriters, including James Taylor, Jackson Browne and Carole King. This group of singers were releasing some of the most successful music of the seventies. It was christened “the Laurel Canyon sound.” Unsurprisingly, the success of the Laurel Canyon sound influenced singers all over the world. This included in Hawaii.

One of these artists was Hal Bradbury who had been a member of The Fabulous Krush. They were one of the most successful Hawaiian groups and were described as ”charismatic, dynamic and superbly talented.” The group were purveyors of “good, clean fun and a happy wholesome entertainment.” Soon, The Fabulous Krush were enjoying commercial success with singles Blame it on the Night, Take Me to the Mountain, Waialua Sky and Hold Tight. They also released their debut album Fabulous Krush in 1979. Before long, they were Hawaii’s favourite band

Two years later, in 1981 The Fabulous Krush won the prestigious Na Hoku Hanohano Awards for album of the year and most promising artist. It seemed that they were on their way to becoming one of Hawaii’s most successful musical exports. Then one of the lead singers dropped a bombshell. Hal Bradbury announced he was leaving to pursue a solo career.

Changes in The Fabulous Krush’s lineup were nothing new. This had been the case since the group’s formed. However, surely not now? The Fabulous Krush were on the verge of something big. Hal Bradbury decided now was the time to pursue his solo career. He haad released a single This Is Love in 1980 on Fan Records. The following year, 1981, Hal Bradbury released his debut album This Is Love on Fan Records.

This Is Love is one of the rarest Hawaiian records of all time. Indeed, it’s one of the rarest record per se. For many crate diggers, a copy of This Is Love is the Holy Grail. They lust over the thought of unearthing a copy. However, they’d need deep pockets to afford  what’s been described as: “a masterpiece of Modern Soul and AOR” which was Hal Bradbury’s debut album.

This Is Love is a mixture of cover versions and songs written by Hal. He contributes three songs, Call Me, Babe I Want You and You Send Me. There’s also covers of Sam Cooke’s You Send Me, Lennon and McCartney’s She’s A Woman and the Arlene Matza and Guy Thomas penned You Win I Lose. There’s Peter Allen’s This Time Around, Johnny Slate and Danny Morrison’s Friends and the Tepper and Sunshine composition This Is Love. The other track was By Now, which Don Primmer, Charles Quillen and Dean Dillon. These tracks became Hal Bradbury’s debut album This Is Love.

Recording of Hal Bradbury’s debut album This Is Love took place at Sounds Of Hawaii. Producing This Is Love was Jimmy Funai. The band featured a rhythm section of drummer Mike Kennedy, bassist Bruce Hamada Jr, and guitarist Jimmy Funai. Alan Leong, Kimo Cornwell and Glen Goto played keyboards and sythns, while Mike Lewis played trumpet and Bob Winn saxophone. Backing vocals came courtesy of Bonnie Gearheart, Rachel Gonzales and Kevin I. Once This Is Love was recorded it was released in 1981.

On the release of This Is Love on Fan Records, the album sold reasonably well in Hawaii. This Is it wasn’t a success in the rest of America, where Hawaiian music was popular. Since then, This Is It has been reappraised and is perceived as “a masterpiece of Modern Soul and AOR.” Here’s why.

Just a wistful Fender Rhodes opens This Is Love, the title-track from Hal Bradbury’s debut album. Gradually, the arrangement unfolds, accompanying Hal’s lovestruck vocal. A piano, drum and sweeping harmonies join Hal’s. Bells ring, harmonies coo and the drums add to the drama. Hal delivers a heartfelt, needy vocal. Then at just the right time, the baton passes to the sultriest of saxophone solos. Not only is this the finishing touch to the arrangement, but seems to spur a lovestruck Hal to even greater heights of soulfulness.

From the AOR and soul of the opening track, Hal mixes funk and soul on Call Me. His vocal is needy and urgent. Cooing harmonies float above the funky arrangement. The rhythm section create a sultry backdrop. Lovestruck and tongue-tied, Hal’s insecurity shines through, as he pleads” “Call Me if you can.” His vocal soars above the arrangement, sweeping harmonies, percussion and the rhythm section framing Hal’s needy vocal.

Friends has a Laurel Canyon sound. This really suits Hal. It allows us to hear him at his very best. Again, the Fender Rhodes, rhythm section and harmonies accompany Hal’s tender vocal. Guitars, strings and gentle harmonies provide the perfect backdrop to Hal’s vocal. They’re the perfect foil to Hal’s vocal. His vocal is heartfelt and seductive during this paean. Especially when he sings: “who makes better lover than Friends.”

Hal’s version of She’s A Women transforms The Beatles standard. It’s a fusion of funk, soul, jazz and AOR where new life and meaning is breathed into a familiar track. There’s an urgency in Hal’s vocal. His vocal veers between understated to powerful. Gradually, the band kick loose. The Laurel Canyon sound influence is present. There’s also a nod to Steely Dan. This is a apparent later in the track, when the jazz influence shines through. Along with what appears to be a crack band, Hal transforms She’s A Women into something Lennon and McCartney probably never even envisaged.

A vocoder opens You Win I Loose. It adds an almost eerie, futuristic sound. Then it’s all change. Blazing horns are a game-changer. Short, sharp bursts set the scene for Hal’s needy, sultry vocal. Soul, funk and AOR melts into one. The rhythm section and horns supply the funk, while the harmonies supply the soul. As for Hal, his vocal is a fusion of AOR and soul. Dance-floor friendly, soulful and with hooks aplenty, You Win I Loose is something a hidden gem.

Just a piano accompanies Hal’s vocal on the Laurel Canyon influenced This Time Around. It’s one of the highlights of This Is Love. Partly, that’s because of the understated, melancholy arrangement. It meanders along, the rhythm section and tender, cooing harmonies playing starring roles. Then when the drama builds, a rocky guitar adds the finishing touch to what’s easily, the highlight of This Is Love.

Babe I Want You draws inspiration from everything from funk, reggae, eighties dance music and soul. It’s a melting pot of influences. Bubbling synths, chiming guitars and thunderous drums drive the arrangement along. Meanwhile, Hal’s vocal veers between needy urgent and pleading. A saxophone soars above the arrangement, before banks of synths and drums power the arrangement along. They add to the drama and emotion of Hal’s desperate vocal.

By Now sees the synth set the scene for Hal’s emotive vocal. Synthetic strings sweep in, while the understated rhythm provide the backdrop provide the backdrop for Hal’s wistful vocal. Missing his partner, he imagines she’s missing him, and is about to phone him. That call doesn’t come and it’s only then that Hal sings: “By Now I know how much I love her.” Just like This Time Around, Hal’s at his best delivering ballads which are musical tour de forces.

Sam Cooke’s You Send Me is an oft-covered song, where the definitive version has been recorded. So, bringing something new to the song isn’t easy. However, Hal brings something new to the song. He mixes AOR, soul and even funk with drama and emotion. His vocal is tender and impassioned. Meanwhile a piano, rhythm section and guitars provide an an arrangement that veers between understated and dramatic. Later, the addition of sensual harmonies prove to be the perfect foil to Hal’s heartfelt delivery of some familiar lyrics. This results in a new take on a classic track.

Keep The Fire Burning closes This Is Love, the third Hal Bradbury penned song. Synths bubble while the rhythm section and guitar combine, creating a backdrop for Hal’s tender, lovestruck vocal. The arrangement meanders along, before it decides to reveals its funky secrets. When things get funky, briefly, Hal reminds me of Dan Hartman. After that, Hal’s band veer between the meandering and funky side of the arrangement. Rocky guitars and soulful, tender harmonies accompany Hal’s vocal which is a fusion of AOR, soul, emotion and power. This shows another side of Hal Bradbury, who has proven to be a versatile singer on This Is Love.

So, that’s the story of This Is Love. It features ten tracks where Hal Bradbury takes the listener on the equivalent of a magical mystery tour. Everything from AOR, folk, funk, pop, soul and even reggae can be heard on This Is Love. That’s why I’d describe This Is Love as eclectic. The first time you hear This Is Love, you never know what direction the album is heading. There’s no clues as to where the album is heading. Beautiful ballads and dance tracks sit side-by-side with funky workouts. Throughout This Is Love, one thing remains the same, the quality of Hal’s vocal.

During This Is Love, Hal’s vocal style can be best described being soulful and influenced by the Laurel Canyon sound. Having said that, he’s able to cope with funky workouts and dance tracks. However, without a doubt, Hal’s at his best combining soul and AOR. That’s what he does best. He can make lyrics come to life. If emotion, heartbreak or drama is required, Hal can make it sound as if he’s lived and survived the lyrics. This is the case with other people’s lyrics and the songs Hal wrote. Hal Bradbury was, after all, a talented singer and songwriter. Sadly, commercial success eluded him.

A few years after Hal released This Is Love, he found himself working on building sites around Hawaii. He hadn’t enjoyed the commercial success his music deserved. Maybe the problem was, This Is Love was too eclectic? If you listen to any of the classic Laurel Canyon albums, they were much more focused. They didn’t jump from genre to genre. Hal, maybe, was trying to be all things to all people. He was wanting to appeal to as many people as possible. That was all very well, but it presented a problem.

Whilst Hal was capable of seamlessly switching between musical genres, this meant he was hard to market. Similarly, when it came to describing the music on This Is Love it wasn’t easy. After all, it wasn’t just AOR and soul, there were funk and dance tracks? This has always been a problem with artists as versatile as Hal Bradbury. It’s often resulted in success eluding them.

That’s what happened to Hal Bradbury. There was nothing wrong with the quality of music on This Is Love. No. The quality is undeniable. Sadly, This Is Love passed most people by. Since then, This Is Love has remained one of music’s best kept secrets. The only people privy to this musical secret were a few record collectors. They recognised the undoubted quality of Hal Bradbury’s debut album This Is Love.

Now over thirty years after the release of This Is Love has been reappraised and is perceived as “a masterpiece of Modern Soul and AOR”  and is another album that deserves to be heard by the wider audience that it so richly deserves. 

Cult Classic: Hal Bradbury-This Is Love.

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THE WHO-LIVE AT THE ISLE OF WIGHT FESTIVAL 1970

The Who-Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival 1970.

Label: Ear Music.

During the late-sixties and early seventies, some of the most famous festivals took place and become part of musical history. By then, festivals were well established, with jazz fans attending many historic festival since the fifties and early sixties. This included the Newport Jazz Festival in Rhode Island, the Beaulieu Jazz Festival, the National Jazz and Blues Festival and the Reading and Leeds Festivals which were founded in 1961. They would become part of rock history later in the sixties.

By 1966, psychedelic music was growing and popularity and the Trips Festival took place in San Francisco between the ‘21st’ and ‘23rd’ of January. During the event Ken Keesey carried out his infamous Acid Tests at the Trips Festival. It was the first of several similar types of festivals.

This included the Mantra-Rock Dance and Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival which took place during 1967. So did the Monterey Pop Festival took place between the ‘16th and ‘18th’ of June 1967. Among the artists and groups that took to the stage were the Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Who and Ravi Shankar who were making their first appearances at major even in America. The audience also witnessed the first performance by Janis Joplin and Otis Redding at such a large-scale public event. Those in the audience were watching musical history being made.

It was similar case at the 1967  Monterey Pop Festival and Schaefer Music Festival in Central Park New York. However, the popularity of festivals was about to explode.

In 1968, the Newport Pop Festival became the first covert to have more than 100,000 paid attendees. Meanwhile, in Britain, the very first Isle of Wight Festival was held in 1968. However, in America many major cities had their own festival during 1968. This included the San Francisco Pop Festival, Los Angeles Pop Festival and the Miami Pop Festival which took place between the ‘28th’ and ‘30th’ of December and rounded of what was a vintage year for festivals.

So was 1969, as the amount of concerts beings staged grew. This included  the Newport 1969 Pop Festival took place between June the ’20th’ and ’22nd’ 1969. The same weekend, the Toronto Pop Festival took place during the Summer Solstice and following week, Led Zeppelin and Fleetwood Mac starred at the Bath Festival Of Blues. Across the Atlantic, the historic Denver Pop Festival took place the same weekend. It seemed that there was a festival every weekend during the summer of 1969.

This included  Mississippi River Festival and the first ever Atlanta International Pop Festival. However, on the ‘5th’ of July 1969, The Stones In The Park took place in front of an audience of between 250,000 and 500,000. This was just after the mysterious death of former Rolling Stone Brian Jones. Despite this tragedy The Stones In The Park became part of rock history.

It was a similar case with 1969, when The Woodstock Music and Art Fair which featured some of the biggest names in music. This included The Grateful Dead, Sly and The Family Stone, Jefferson Airplane, The Band and Jimi Hendrix who closed what was an eventful and sometimes chaotic festival. 

Most festivals passed off without any problems including the Texas International Pop Festival and Toronto Rock and Roll Revival which featured John Lennon and Yoko Ono. However, as the sixties drew to a close this changed.

The Palm Beach Pop Festival was chaotic, while violence and three deaths marred the Altamont Free Concert which was attended by 300,000 people. The final festival of the sixties was the Miami Rock Festival which took place between the ‘27th’ and ‘29th’ December and there were forty-seven arrests and a member of the audience died after falling from a spotlight tower. It was way to end the sixties.

Despite there being chaos, violence and sometimes even deaths at concerts, still people wanted to attend concerts during 1970. New festivals were founded, old ones expanded and some made a welcome return. This included the second Atlanta International Pop Festival, the Bath Festival of Blues and Progressive Music and the third Isle of Wight Festival.

Isle of Wight Festival 1970.

The third Isle of Wight Festival took place between Wednesday the  ’26th’ and Sunday ’31st’ of August 1970. Between 600,000 and 700,000 made their way to the Isle of Wight Festival to watch a lineup that featured a mixture of new names and the great and good of music.

During the first day, progressive rockers Judas Jump, singer-songwriter Kris Kristofferson and the psychedelic rock band Mighty Baby took to the stage. However, problems with the PA meant the audience couldn’t hear the singer who was the first of several artists to be booed.

On Thursday the 27th’ of August 1970 Supertramp, Terry Reid, British blues rockers Groundhogs and progressive rockers Gracious entertained the audience. However, some of then higher profile artists arrived the following day.

This included Taste who featured Rory Gallagher who took to the stage on Friday the ‘28th’ of August 1970. Just like Chicago, and Family they were regarded as rising stars of music. Meanwhile, Tony Joe White had already enjoyed several hits, but was nowhere near as successful as Procol Harum who were one of the biggest names on the third day.

The lineup on Saturday the ‘29th’ of August 1970 was star-studded. It included Joni Mitchell who played a controversial set. Later, Miles Davis, Ten Years After, Emerson, Lake and Palmer and The Doors took to the stage. While they received a rapturous reception, many in the audience were waiting for one particular band…The Who.

When The Who took to the stage at The Isle Of Wight Festival, they were one year and three months into their Tommy tour. They had released Tommy on the ’23rd’ of May 1969 and watched as it reached number two in Britain and four in the US Billboard 200. This resulted in Tommy being certified gold in Britain, France and Italy and double platinum in America. Despite the success of Tommy, The Who continued to tour the album, and the latest stop on the tour was The Isle Of Wight Festival.

This was the second time The Who had played at The Isle Of Wight Festival since it began in 1968. However, this time the tapes were running, and their performance which included their 1966 rock opera Tommy and some of their best known songs was being taped. It meant that The Who and their management could release a live album in the future.

This took twenty-six years, before Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970 was released as a two CD set by Columbia Legacy on the ’29th’ of October 1996. Twenty-three years later, Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival 1970 was released by Ear Music as limited gatefold numbered 3xLP and 2xCD set. This is a welcome reissue as the last time this album was released was for Record Store Day 2018.

For Record Store Day 2018 Volume 1 was a  double album while Volume 2 is a single album. They’re now a 3 LP set Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival 1970, which also includes a 2CD set. This is a reminder of The Who’s famous performance at a famous festival, the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970.

Live At The Isle Of Wight 1970.

The Who opened their performance at Isle of Wight Festival 1970 with Heaven and Hell, which gives way to I Can’t Explain and a six-minute cover of Mose Allison’s Young Man’s Blues which  closes side one. 

I Don’t Even Know Myself opens side two and features Water and Overture, which opens their rock opera Tommy. It continues on side three with The Who classic It’s A Boy, then 1921, Amazing Journey, Sparks, Sonny Boy Williamson’s Eyesight To The Blind (The Hawker) and Christmas which closes the third side.

Tommy continues on side four with The Acid Queen, before the compilers deviate from the original track listing of Tommy. On Live At The Isle Of Wight 1970 a blistering version of Pinball Wizard comes before Do You Think It’s Alright and Underture is omitted. Instead, The Who breeze through Tommy Can You Hear Me? and There’s A Doctor, Go To The Mirror! and Smash The Mirror. Sensation, Sally Simpson and Welcome are all omitted from the set, but Miracle Cure, I’m Free, Tommy’s Holiday Camp and a defiant version  We’re Not Gonna Take It is extended to nearly ten magical minutes and is a memorable reminder of The Who at The Isle Of Wight. However, in footballing parlance it’s only halftime.

After playing the majority of Tommy the third LP features some of The Who’s favourite songs and their greatest hits. They open this part of the set with Summertime Blues which is synonymous with Eddie Cochran. However, The Who’s barnstorming version offers something different. It’s a similar case with the medley of Shakin’ All Over, Spoonful and Twist and Shout which gives way to Substitute which closes the fifth side.

The last side explodes into life with the The Who classic My Generation, and is followed by Naked Eye which is a welcome and some might think surprising addition. It first appeared on The Who’s 1974 album Odds and Sods. However, closing Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival 1970  is a blistering versions of Magic Bus, before The Who take their bow.

The Who had released sixteen live albums before the Rock Classics released Live At The Isle Of Wight Volume 1 and Live At The Isle Of Wight Volume 2 for Record Store Day 2018. A year later and Ear Music reissued this seminal performance as a limited gatefold numbered 3xLP and 2xCD set as Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival 1970. It’s a better buy as the two CDs feature The Who’s performance in its entirety. There’s twelve tracks on the first disc and eighteen on the second, and The Who give a barnstorming performance that was one of their finest and saw them write their way into musical history.

This was their second performance at The Isle Of Wight Festival since it was founded in 1968. It was also The Who’s best performance at The Isle Of Wight Festival. They had been playing roughly the same set for fifteen months, but when they took to the stage at The Isle Of Wight Festival were revitalised and show just why by 1970 The Who were regarded as one of the best British rock bands. Anyone who doubts this should checkout Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival 1970 which is proof, as if any was needed.

The Who-Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival 1970.

 

 

 

 

 

MUSIC FROM JARVIS COCKER’S SUNDAY SERVICE.

Music From Jarvis Cocker’s Sunday Service.

Label: Ace Records.

When it was announced in 2010, that former Pulp frontman, and songwriter-in-chief, Jarvis Cocker, was about to present a show on BBC 6 Music, his statement of intent was posted on the Corporation’s website: “It is my intention to fill these hours with as much dodgy opinion, crackpot theories, hare-brained schemes and beautiful, beautiful music as is humanly possible.” This wasn’t quite what Lord Reith, the BBC’s first Director General, envisaged when he said that the Corporation’s remit was  to: ”inform, educate and entertain.” 

For seven years, Jarvis Cocker’s Sunday Service radio show was one of the most popular programs on Radio 6 Music. It fulfilled  Lord Reith’s remit week-in, week-out, as its host informed, educated and entertained several generations of music fans with his inimitable and eclectic taste in music.  By the end of the program’s seven year run a generation of younger music fans had graduated Summa Cum Laude thanks to Jarvis Cocker’s musical masterclass. 

Sadly, in 2017, without warning, Jarvis Cocker’s Sunday Service was cancelled. After seven years, one of the finest shows on BBC Radio was no more.  By then, it had established a cult following and was much mussed by many people. For them, the day revolved around Jarvis Cocker’s Sunday Service and they would enjoy a captivating selection of eclectic and esoteric music. After it was cancelled, music fans the length and breadth of Britain and beyond mourned its passing. 

Two years later Ace Records recently released Music From Jarvis Cocker’s Sunday Service on CD. It features twenty-three eclectic and esoteric tracks that are a reminder of a much missed radio show that brightened up even the dullest Sunday in Blighty.

Opening Music From Jarvis Cocker’s Sunday Service. is Invasion Muzak by John Baker who was part of the groundbreaking BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Here’s a track that perfect to listen to on  a lazy Sunday afternoon. It’s a beautiful pastoral  track that meanders along with what sounds like a cocktail piano combining with a myriad of electronic instruments. The result is a hidden gem of a track that will whet the listener’s appetite for what’s to come.

This includes a soul-baring cover of Beyonce’s Crazy in Love which was released by Antony and The Johnsons in 2009. There’s also a cover of Gary Numan’s Cars by The Katzenjammer from 2005.

A welcome addition is Don’t Wait Too Long by Bob Welch, formerly of Fleetwood Mac. It’s taken from his Three Hearts album which was  released on Capitol in 1978, and will appeal to drummers everywhere and to anyone with a penchant for soft rock in all its finery.

Another hidden gem is Day Glo a beautiful, understated track from Serafina Steer from her 2010 album Static Caravan. It’s a reminder of the many talented new artists who Jarvis Cocker played on his show during its seven year run.

In 1965, Morgana King released her album  It’s A Quiet Thing on Reprise. The title-track is one of the album’s highlights. No wonders as a breathtakingly beautiful and emotive vocal combine with a stunning orchestrated arrangement. It’s enough to stop anyone in their tracks.

Randy Newman’s Baltimore was a perfect showcase for Nina Simone’s vocal prowess when she covered the song .The song lent its name to her 1978 CTi album and is without doubt one of its finest moments. It’s also a reminder of a truly talented and versatile singer at the peak of her powers.

Waters Of March was written by Antonio Carlos Jobim, and covered by Art Garfunkel on his 1975 Breakaway album. There’s more than a hint of sarcasm to his soliloquy  as he takes the track in a new direction. In doing so, this musical legend reveals a quite different side to his character on what’s  one of the highlights of his Breakaway album.

The Whole World’s Got The Eyes On You by The Legendary Tigerman is another track guaranteed to stop the listener in their tracks. All the instruments are played by the man himself on this genre-melting hidden gem that brings to mind Alan Vega and Marco Bolan.

Little Person was recorded by Deanna Storey and John Brion for the soundtrack to Synedoche, New York in 2008. It’s a spellbindingly beautiful  song and one of the highlights of Music From Jarvis Cocker’s Sunday Service. 

Gymnopédie No.3 by The Camarata Contemporary Chamber Group is best described as pastoral, wistful and with an inherent beauty that tugs at the heartstrings.

Closing Music From Jarvis Cocker’s Sunday Service is Headless Heroes’ True Love Will Find You In The End. It’s a stunning and emotive cover of what’s one of Daniel Johnston’s finest songs and  is the perfect way to close this compilation.

Nowadays, a record number of compilations are released each week. However, very few are of the quality of the lovingly curated Music From Jarvis Cocker’s Sunday Service. It’s a reminder of a much-loved radio show was essential listening between 2010 and 2017, and was one of the best programs on BBC Radio. 

Music From Jarvis Cocker’s Sunday Service which was curated by its host, and is a captivating collection of the eclectic and esoteric where the new and old sits side-by-side with   cover versions, hidden gems and well known tracks that are like old friends. They’re part of what’s without doubt a contender for compilation of the year. 

Music From Jarvis Cocker’s Sunday Service.

THE STAINED GLASS-THE STORY BEHIND ONE OF SAN FRANCISCO’S SEMINAL LOST GROUPS.

The Stained Glass-The Story Behind One Of San Francisco’s Seminal Lost Groups.

Sometimes, and despite their undoubtable talent, a band or artist fails to make the impact that their music deserves and It’s only much later, that critics and record buyers belatedly  realise how innovative they were. That was the case with The Stained Glass, who originally, started life as The Trolls. They were without doubt, way ahead of their time, but sadly, record buyers neither understood nor appreciated The Stained Glass’ music.  It passed record buyers by, and as a result, The Stained Glass split-up in 1969, just four years after they were formed in 1965. 

Nowadays, critics, cultural commentators and record buyers realise and appreciate the importance of The Stained Glass’ music. They were musical pioneers who could and should’ve  enjoyed commercial success and critical acclaim . Sadly it wasn’t to be, and in 1967, the dream was over for one of San Francisco’s seminal lost group’s. Things had been very different just two years previously.

The Stained Glass’ story begins in San Jose in 1964. Rodger Hedge had just started at San Jose University. He arrived from Southern California, where he’d played bass and guitar in the Sen-Sa-Shuns a successful band who had supported the Righteous Brothers and Beach Boys. Opening for the Beach Boys must have been ironic, as Rodger had auditioned as their bass player. That wasn’t to be and he enjoyed a successful period in the Sen-Sa-Shuns. That gave him a taste of what a career as a musician would be like. So, on arrival at University, Rodger decided to form a band. He advertised locally, and straight away, Jim McPherson answered the advert.

Jim was a native of Chicago, and was studying radio and television journalism at San Jose University. Originally, he was a bassist, but when he realised how good Rodger was, switched to rhythm guitar. The next member to join the band was drummer Dennis Carrasco.

Dennis was recommended by Barry Wineroth of The Jaguars. He tipped Rodger and Dennis off about this musical prodigy. Unlike Rodger and Jim, Dennis was a native of San Francisco, but had lived in San Jose since 1960. He was younger than his prospective bandmates. In fact, he was still at Blackford High School. The age gap didn’t matter. As a drummer, Dennis was one of the best in San Jose. He’d started off playing in marching bands and after that, was working with The Stratatones and Blue Flames. With the Blue Fames, Dennis recorded some sessions. None of them were ever released. Now his luck looked like changing. Before that, they needed another member.

Although Rodger Hedge was a good guitarist, the band felt they needed another guitarist to play lead guitar. There were two candidates. One was John Sharkey, of the local group Syndicate Of Sound. The other was Bob Rominger, who’d recently moved to San Jose from Albuquerque, Mexico. He was a talented player, capable of unleashing some flashy licks. There was a problem though. Bob had only played in pickup bands. Despite that, he got the gig as lead guitarist. The band was complete. All they needed was a name. They hit upon The Trolls.

From their early days, The Trolls found work easy to come by. Originally, The Trolls played around the San Francisco area. Having established a reputation as a talented and popular band, they started playing further afield. Their performances featured mostly cover versions, with Rodger and Jim sharing lead vocal duties. Then after a while, The Trolls started adding their own original material. 

Jim McPherson was The Trolls’ songwriter and was influenced by the British invasion groups. The Kinks, Beatles, Animals, Rolling Stones and Zombies inspired Jim as a songwriter. So did Paul McCartney, who Jim admired for the way he structured songs. This seemed to rub off on Jim. However, Jim’s songwriting style is more like Bob Dylan and is perceptive, descriptive, surreal and left-field . He was part poet and philosopher. Occasionally, Rodger pitched in with a song, Mostly, it was Jim who wrote The Trolls’ songs. This includes the first songs they recorded.

Such Good Friends and She’s Not Right were the first songs The Trolls recorded. They originally featured on an acetate the group sent to local labels. Eventually, The Trolls released Such Good Friends and She’s Not Right, which has a strong British influence. On both tracks, The Trolls could easily be mistaken for one of the British Invasion groups. Not longer after The Trolls recorded their first two tracks, they released their first single.

The two songs chosen were the ballad How Do You Expect Me To Trust You and the harmonica driven Walkin’ Shoes, with its surreal, enigmatic lyrics. There’s still a British Invasion influence, on Walkin’ Shoes. With lyrics that sound like a homage to The Kinks, a bluesy Rolling Stone sound, especially with the harmonica, The Trolls seemed to have decided if you can’t beat the British Invasion groups, join them. However, apart from some radio play on local radio, The Trolls debut single passed almost unnoticed.

Despite their single failing commercially, The Trolls were one of the most popular live bands. They captured people’s imaginations and were winning them over with their mixture of covers and new songs. Despite their popularity, when The Trolls played in the Bay Area Battle of The Bands, it was to a disappointingly small audience. However, there was one man in the audience that would play a part in The Trolls’ future, Rene Cardenas.

Until Rene Cardenas saw The Trolls at The Battle of The Bands, he’d been publishing manager for Trident Productions. Having seen The Trolls live, he decided  to form his own company, Jackson Square Productions. The date was 25th April 1966. That day, Rene Cardenas promised to get The Trolls signed to a label. Two weeks later, The Trolls were on their way to Columbia’s Sunset Boulevard Studios, where they’d work with respected arranger Bernie Krause. 

At Sunset Boulevard Studios, Bernie Krause helped the band hone their material. He made a number of suggestions, including changing some of the lyrics to Broken Man, a fusion of pop, psychedelia and blues. The other tracks recorded were Second Day and Lonely Am I, which was penned by Bob Rominger. Following the sessions at Sunset Boulevard Studios, The Trolls made a decision that could’ve had a huge impact on their career. They changed their name. 

The Trolls were now called The Stained Glass Window. That proved somewhat cumbersome, so they became The Stained Glass. However, that was a result of the word Window being left off the group’s paperwork. Ironically, this mistake worked in their favor. Given the enigmatic nature of the group’s lyrics, this added to the mystery that surrounded the group. The only problem was, would people realize that The Trolls and The Stained Glass were one and the same?

Even after the change of name, The Stained Glass were busy. The Bay Area had many venues, all of which were on the look out for popular bands. A popular band meant a full venue and profitable night. Gradually, The Stained Glass found themselves playing to an older audience. Granted they were still playing to younger people, but mostly, their audiences were older. This suited their baroque infused fusion of pop and psychedelia. The Stained Glass were opening for bigger bands and it looked like a breakthrough was imminent. It wasn’t. The deal with Columbia wasn’t going to happen.

When Columbia passed on The Stained Glass, their manager Rene Cardenas started  looking elsewhere. He used his contacts and The Stained Glass were signed to RCA Victor by the second week in June 1966. Everything looked as it was going well. Then Rene and the RCA Victor producer assigned to The Stained Glass said they had to record a cover of If I Needed Someone. Written by George Harrison and taken from The Beatles’ Rubber Soul album, this seemed strange. After all, hadn’t Rene been a fan of The Stained Glass’ own songs? Maybe RCA Victor and Rene thought a cover of a Beatles song equalled a hit single. On the B-Side was a remake of The Trolls’ How Do You Expect Me To Trust You?

Just before If I Needed Someone was released, it featured on The Beatles’ Yesterday and Today. Despite The Beatles’ version being released first, The Stained Glass’ single was a success in the Bay Area. This resulted in a tour round the East Coast, before The Stained Glass recorded their second single for RCA Victor.

At RCA Victor’s New York studio, The Stained Glass recorded My Buddy Sin a baroque tinged track that is an example of Jim McPherson’s songwriting skills. On the B-Side was Vanity Fair, an underrated track influenced by The Kinks, The Beatles, pop and psychedelia. They combine on a three minute slice of pop perfection that come from the pen of Ray Davies. When the single was being recorded, the group didn’t like My Buddy Sin. They felt the addition of the harmonica spoilt the track and took the edge of the song.

On its release, in September 1966, My Buddy Sin failed to chart. It would be another five months before The Stained Glass entered the studio. 

When The Stained Glass entered the studios in February 1967, they realized what being signed to a record company entailed. RCA Victor wanted them to record songs by other songwriters. None of them were suitable. Then they hit upon We Got A Long Way To Go, which was penned by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. It was totally different to the type of songs the group usually recorded. During recording, effects were used to create feedback and sustain and this was very different from previous singles. There’s still a psychedelic sound as pop and rock combine on a hook-laden track which The Stained Glass hoped would be their breakthrough single.

On the release of A Long Way To Go, with Corduroy Joy on the B-Side, it didn’t result in the elusive hit single for The Stained Glass. Not long after this, with the lack of success frustrating the band, Rodger Hedge, who had founded the band was asked to leave. This marked the beginning of the end for The Stained Glass.

Their final single was Mediocre Me, with The Beatles’ inspired A Scene In-Between on the B-Side. Both were penned by Jim McPherson. Sadly, the single failed to chart nationally, but reached number six on KDON’s chart. That’s a small crumb of comfort for one of San Francisco’s most innovative and pioneering groups. Not long after Mediocre Me’s release RCA Victor didn’t renew The Stained Glass’ contract.

This proved to be a blessing in disguise. The Stained Glass signed to Capitol Records and released two critically acclaimed albums.

Their debut was Crazy Horse Roads, which was released in 1968. However, disaster struck just before the album was finished. Bob Rominger left the band. For The Strained Glass, this was a blow. Despite this, the album was completed and ready for release later in 1968. 

Despite critics lavishing praise on Crazy Horse Roads, the album failed commercially. For The Stained Glass, this was another huge disappointment. They were down, but not out and later, began work on their sophomore album. However, the times and lineup was changing.

Joining were  keyboardist and guitarist Lance Libby, percussionist Louie Schiavo and In 1969, Bob Rominger left after and was replaced by southpaw guitarist Tom Bryant. He was a member of The Stained Glass when they recorded their sophomore album Aurora. It was released to critical acclaim in 1969 but failed commercially. After that, The Stained Glass changed their name to Christian Rapid and spent the next three years touring. They never recorded another album. Aurora marked the end of the The Stained Glass’ story.

The story of The Stained Glass is a familiar one. They were a talented, innovative and pioneering group, but their music was way ahead of its time. That was the case with The Stained Glass, who started life as The Trolls and ended it as Christian Rapid. It was a case of what might have been?

Looking back with the benefit of hindsight, The Stained Glass were ahead of their time. People neither understood, nor appreciated what they were doing and sadly, their music failed to make the impact it should’ve done. It was only years later, that people realise how innovative a group The Stained Glass were. From their early days as The Trolls, their music was ahead of the musical curve.

British Invasion groups like The Kinks, Beatles, Animals, Rolling Stones and Zombies inspired The Trolls and then The Stained Glass. The other thing that made The Trolls and The Stained Glass standout were their lyrics. 

Many of the songs were written by the enigmatic poet philosopher Jim McPherson. He too was influenced by the British Invasion groups. His lyrics are pensive, perceptive, descriptive, surreal and cryptic. Influenced by Ray Davies,  Paul McCartney and Bob Dylan, Jim could’ve and should’ve been a hugely successful songwriter. Sadly, just like The Trolls and The Stained Glass, Jim McPherson’s talents went unnoticed for too long. Now a new generation have discovered the music of The Trolls and then The Stained Glass, who between 1965 and 1967, were one of San Francisco’s most innovative lost groups.

That’s why The Stained Glass’ music is such essential listening as is the case with all musical pioneers. They were true musical pioneers, who  could’ve and should’ve enjoyed commercial success and critical acclaim with their fusion of  blues, pop, psychedelia and rock. Sadly, their  take on pop-psych was way ahead of its time musically.  So much so, that record buyers failed to understand The Stained Glass’ music. However, that was only part of the problem.

Unfortunately, The Stained Glass were signed to the wrong label, RCA Victor. They tried to make them something they weren’t. On another label, The Stained Glass might have prospered and become the success story they deserved to be. Sadly, that never happened and after four years of trying to  catch lightning in a bottle, The Stained Glass called time on their career. They became Christian Rapid, who spent the next three years touring. This resulted  The Stained Glass being consigned to San Francisco’s musical history. 

Over a generation later, and The Stained Glass’ music was rediscovered by a new generation of record buyers. This  resulted in a resurgence in interest in The Stained Glass’ music. Interest in The Stained Glass has continued to grow. That’s still the case today. Nowadays, The Stained Glass’ music is being heard by a much wider, and appreciative audience who have discovered one of  San Francisco’s seminal lost groups.

The Stained Glass-The Story Behind One Of San Francisco’s Seminal Lost Groups.

CULT CLASSIC: MANUEL GOTTSCHING-INVENTIONS FOR ELECTRIC GUITAR.

Cult Classic: Manuel Göttsching-Inventions For Electric Guitar.

When Manuel Göttsching released Inventions For Electric Guitar in 1975, it was regarded as a new chapter in his career. Inventions For Electric Guitar was Manuel Göttsching’s debut solo album, and first release after releasing five albums as Ash Ra Tempel. Or was it?

Eagle eyed record buyers having bought Inventions For Electric Guitar saw atop the album cover the words Ash Ra Tempel VI in small print. This muddied the waters somewhat. What was Inventions For Electric Guitar? Was it Ash Ra Tempel’s swan-song, or Manuel Göttsching’s debut album? Record buyers were confused. 

They were under the impression that Ash Ra Tempel Starring Rosi, was the band’s fifth and final album. It had been released in 1973, and by then, Ash Ra Tempel comprised just Manuel Göttsching. He was the last man last standing.

Nearly two years had passed before Inventions For Electric Guitar was released. Manuel Göttsching composed, played all the instruments and produced Inventions For Electric Guitar. It seemed undeniable that Inventions For Electric Guitar was a solo album. What good reason could the record company have for adding Ash Ra Tempel VI to the album cover?

Manuel Göttsching was signed to Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser and Gille Lettmann’s Ohr Records. They realised that Inventions For Electric Guitar was the start of a new chapter in Manuel Göttsching’s career. He was keen to embark upon a solo career and what worried Ohr Records, was that many record buyers wouldn’t recognise Manuel Göttsching. That was despite playing a huge part in five albums Ash Ra Tempel’s released between 1971 and 1973. So Ohr Records had two options.

They could release Inventions For Electric Guitar as a solo album. That seems to be the case, given the prominence of Manuel Göttsching’s name. The addition of Ash Ra Tempel VI was part of Ohr Records’ marketing campaign. Ash Ra Tempel was already a relatively well known ‘brand name’ within German music. So if record buyers didn’t recognise Manuel Göttsching’s name, there was every chance they would recognise Ash Ra Tempel, and buy the album. That was one theory.

The other was to bill Inventions For Electric Guitar as an Ash Ra Tempel album. Hence the subtitle, Ash Ra Tempel VI. By adding Manuel Göttsching name to the album cover, Ohr Records were to all intents and purposes, paving the way for Manuel Göttsching’s solo career. That was the other theory put forward when Inventions For Electric Guitar was released in 1975. Nowadays, though, it seems that theory has been disproved.

When Inventions For Electric Guitar was reissued there was no sign of the words that caused all that debate “Ash Ra Tempel VI.” They had been removed it seems, in accordance with Manuel Göttsching’s wishes. He always saw Inventions For Electric Guitar as his debut solo album. Ash Ra Tempel was in the past. Inventions For Electric Guitar was start of a new and exciting chapter for Manuel Göttsching, the solo years.

The solo years began with Inventions For Electric Guitar. Manuel Göttsching decided to return to the lengthy jams that had been a feature of Ash Ra Tempel’s first four albums. From 1971s Ash Ra Tempel through 1972s Schwingungen, Seven Up and 1973s Join Inn, lengthy jams were the order of the day. This changed on Ash Ra Tempel fifth album, Ash Ra Tempel Starring Rosi. It found Ash Ra Tempel dispense with the lengthy jams and adopt a tighter, more traditional song structure. For his debut solo album, Inventions For Electric Guitar, Manuel Göttsching decided to combine the two approaches.

When Manuel Göttsching began work on his debut solo album, Inventions For Electric Guitar he decided that composition would play a much more important role than on Ash Ra Tempel’s first four albums. Using this new approach, he wrote three pieces, Echo Waves, Quasarsphere and Pluralis. They lengthy soundscapes became Inventions For Electric Guitar. When it came to record Inventions For Electric Guitars, Manuel Göttsching deployed his ‘secret weapons’ to create his new sound.

Having decided on how to approach his debut solo album, Manuel Göttsching headed to Studio Roma, in Berlin in July 1974. That was where Manuel Göttsching would record Inventions For Electric Guitar. He took with him his electric guitar, a Hawaiian steel bar and some of his secret weapons. These were Manuel’s various effects pedals, which included a Revox A77 for echoes, a WahWah pedal, volume pedal and a Schaller Rotosound effects pedal. To record Inventions For Electric Guitar, Manuel used a four track TEAC A3340. Recording of his debut album brought out the perfectionist in Manuel Göttsching.

Throughout July and August of 1974, Manuel Göttsching recorded three lengthy improvised tracks, Echo Waves, Quasarsphere and Pluralis. Gradually, they began to take shape. However, Manuel Göttsching wasn’t willing to accept second best, so constantly honed the three soundscapes. Eventually,  after the best part of two months, Inventions For Electric Guitar was complete. Manuel Göttsching had composed, played all the instruments and produced Inventions For Electric Guitar. All that remained was for the album to be mixed.

With Inventions For Electric Guitar recorded, Studio Roma’s  recording engineer Heiner Friesz and Manuel Göttsching began mixing the album. Ohr Records didn’t just want the album mixed in stereo. Instead, they also wanted a quadraphonic mix. This invoked a journey to Dierks Studios in Cologne, where the quadro-mixing took place. Ironically, despite the time, effort and expense, quadraphonic sound never took off. That was a great shame, as Inventions For Electric Guitar was an album perfectly suited to quadraphonic sound. Inventions For Electric Guitar is also a truly timeless debut album from Manuel Göttsching.

Manuel Göttsching’s 1975 debut solo album Inventions For Electric Guitar featured three soundscapes lasting just forty-seven minutes. It was an album that was way ahead of its time, and nowadays, is regarded as a timeless, genre-melting classic where elements of ambient, avant-garde, Berlin School, electronica, Krautrock, psychedelia and rock on Inventions For Electric Guitar are combined. The result was an inventive and innovative album. Inventions For Electric Guitar features music that’s variously beautiful, ethereal, hypnotic, lysergic melancholy, mesmeric and rocky. What’s remarkable about Inventions For Electric Guitar, is that it was recorded by just one man, Manuel Göttsching.

He became a one man band, deploying his guitars and a myriad of effects to record multilayered soundscapes. They sounded as if they had been recorded by a number of musicians and instruments. That wasn’t the case. Instead, it was the work of Manuel Göttsching, one of the most inventive and innovative musicians of his generation. Inventions For Electric Guitar might have been his debut solo album, but Manuel Göttsching had been releasing innovative music since 1971.

That was when Ash Ra Tempel released their eponymous debut album. The five albums they released between 1971 Join Inn feature groundbreaking music. For anyone interested in Krautrock, these five albums deserve a place in any self respecting music collection. So does Inventions For Electric Guitar, which marks the start of a new era for musical pioneer Manuel Göttsching. He was well on his way to becoming one of the most innovative, inventive and influential German musicians of his generation. Continually, Manuel Göttsching reinvented himself and his music.

A year later, Manuel Göttsching released a new album under the Ashra moniker. New Age Of Earth showed that Manuel Göttsching was determined not to stand still. This determination to reinvent himself musically, ensured that Manuel Göttsching’s music continued to be relevant and ahead of the musical curve.

That was the case in 1975, when Manuel Göttsching embarked upon his solo career. After two months in the studio, he released Inventions For Electric Guitar, which is a timeless cult classic from the virtuoso guitarist and musical magician, Manuel Göttsching.

Cult Classic: Manuel Göttsching-Inventions For Electric Guitar.

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CLASSIC ALBUM: ROLLING STONES-STICKY FINGERS.

Classic Album:Rolling Stones-Sticky Fingers.

By 1970, The Rolling Stones were in the middle of what is now perceived as their “golden age” which  began in 1968, when the Rolling Stones released Beggars Banquet in December 1968. 

Beggars Banquet was released to widespread critical acclaim. It featured an outpouring of creativity from the Rolling Stones. The Jagger and Richards’ songwriting partnership were at the peak of their powers, penning tracks of the calibre of Sympathy For The Devil and Street Fighting Man. Sadly, Brian Jones influence on The Rolling Stones was waning and his appearances in the studio were sporadic.

Despite Brian Jones playing a lesser role in Beggars Banquet, the album was a resounding success. It reached number three in Britain, and number five in the US Billboard. This resulted in Beggars Banquet being certified gold in Britain, and platinum in America. For the Stones, this was their most successful album since Aftermath in 1966. However, a year later, they would surpass the success of Aftermath with Let It Bleed. 

Sadly, by the time that Let It Bleed was released on 5th December 1969, tragedy had struck the Rolling Stones. Founding member Brian Jones had drowned in mysterious circumstances on 3rd July 1969. For the rest of the nand this was a huge body blow as Brian Jones had been the one-time leader of the  Stones. 

Two days after Brian Jones death, shell-shocked Rolling Stones played  a free concert in London’s Hyde Park on 5th July 1969. An estimated 250,000 saw the  Rolling Stones pay tribute to Brian Jones. The group’s one-time leader’s influence may have lessened over the past couple of albums, but Brian Jones had played an important part in the rise of the  Rolling Stones. Sadly, he only featured twice on Let It Bleed, on You Got The Silver and Midnight Rambler. His musical farewell was brief one. So was the debut of a new addition to the Stones, Mick Taylor.

When Let It Bleed was released, eager eyed listeners spotted a new addition, Mick Taylor. He was Brian Jones replacement. Mick played featured on just two tracks, Country Honk and Live With Me. Just like Brian Jones’ contribution, Mick’s success was an important one in the sound and success of Let It Bleed.

On its release, Let It Bleed surpassed the success of previous Rolling Stones’ albums. It reached number one in Britain, and number three on the US Billboard 200 charts. This saw Let It Bleed certified gold in Britain, and double-platinum in America. Meanwhile, critics exhausted their supply of superlatives on songs like Gimme Shelter, Love In Vain, Midnight Rambler and You Can’t Always Get What You Want. The hard rocking Let It Bleed was considered one the Stones’ finest moments. 

The Rolling Stones had picked up where they left off on Beggars Banquet, and taken it further. In doing so, they had created the most successful album of their career. This should’ve been a time for celebration. However, as 1969 and the sixties drew to a close they didn’t feel much like celebrating. 

A day after the release of Let It Bleed, the Rolling Stones had agreed to put on a free concert at Altamont Speedway, in Northern California on 6th December 1969. What was meant to be a concert featuring the great and good of psychedelia went badly wrong. Santana, Jefferson Airplane, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young,  Rolling Stones and Grateful Dead were all booked to play. It was meant to be a major event in psychedelic’s musics history. After the carnage in Los Angeles, everyone hoped this would be a good news story. It wasn’t. 

As the Rolling Stones took to the stage, the concert descended into chaos. The Hell’s Angels fought with the audience, and Meredith Hunter, a black teenager, was allegedly stabbed by a member of the Hells’s Angels who were meant to be providing security at Altamont. After this, the event was cancelled. The Grateful Dead never even took to the stage. Altamont had been a disaster. There were three accidental deaths, many were injured, property was destroyed and cars stolen. As the sixties drew to a close, the events at Altamont played its part in the decline of psychedelia and a backlash against the hippie movement. 

Between the death of Brian Jones, and the chaos and carnage at the Alatmont Free Festival, the Rolling Stones didn’t feel like celebrating the success of Let It Bleed. They were castigated in the American press. Their decision to use the Hell’s Angels as security drew a huge amount of criticism. Especially when the details of Altamont became clear. Whilst firefighting criticism from politicians and America’s self appointed moral guardians, the press, it was soon business as usual for the  Stones. 

Following the success of Let It Bleed, work began on the followup, Sticky Fingers. It’s the third album the Rolling Stones’ during their “golden age.”

Just like previous albums, Sticky Fingers was mostly the work of the Jagger and Richards songwriting partnership. They cowrote Brown Sugar, Sway, Wild Horses, Can’t You Hear Me Moving, Bitch, I Got The Blues, Dead Flowers and Moonlight Mile. Jagger and Richards also cowrote Sister Morphine with Marianne Faithful. The other track chosen for Sticky Fingers, was a cover of Fred McDowell and Gary Davis’ You Gotta Move. These ten tracks were recorded by The Rolling Stones and “friends” at various studios between March 1969 and January 1971.

Most of Sticky Fingers was recorded during 1970 and 1971. However, the story starts in 1969 the Rolling Stones began recording Sister Morphine between 22nd and 31st March 1969. Further sessions took place between May and June 1969. By then, Sister Morphine was completed. Then just before Let It Bleed was released, three day session took place between 2nd and 4th December 1969, Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, Sheffield, Alabama. That was last session of 1969.

The first recording session of 1970 took place Olympic Studios on 17th February. Then the sessions began in earnest in March 1970, at Olympic Studios, and continued right through to May 1970. Further sessions at Olympic Studios took place between 16th and 27th July. After a three month break, The Rolling Stones returned tp Olympic Studios on 17th October 1970. Right through to 31st October, they worked on Sticky Fingers. It was nearly completed. 

Eventually, recording of Sticky Fingers was completed in January 1971. The Rolling Stones recorded in both Olympic and Trident Studios with producer Jimmy Miller.

The Sticky Fingers’ sessions had been a poignant time. It was the first recording session without Brian Jones. His replacement, Mick Taylor, played a bigger part in the recording of Sticky Fingers, playing lead, rhythm and acoustic guitar. Meanwhile, Mick Jagger sang vocals and played acoustic guitar. The Rolling Stones’ rhythm section featured drummer Charlie Watts, guitarist Keith Richards and Billy Wyman on bass and electric piano. Joining The Rolling Stones were a few of their musical friends.

Among their musical friends The Rolling Stones brought onboard were Ry Cooder on slide guitar, saxophonist Bobby Keys, percussionist Jimmy Miller, organist Billy Preston and pianists Jim Dickinson, Nicky Hopkins, Ian Stewart and Jack Nitzsche. Rocky Dzidzornu added congas and Jim Price trumpet and piano. Most of these artists only featured on one track. Often their contribution was invaluable. That was also the case with producer Jimmy Miller and engineers included Glyn Johns, Andy Johns, Chris Kimsey and Jimmy Johnson. They all played their part in sound and success of Sticky Fingers.

So did artist Andy Warhol. He was responsible for “designing” Sticky Fingers’ album sleeve. Andy Warhol was inspired by the innuendo laden title. However, the design was by Craig Braun. He shot a close up of a jeans clad male crotch. By the time it made its way onto the album sleeve, it featured a working zip and mock belt buckle. When the zip was undone, a pair of cotton briefs could be seen. They had Andy Warhol’s name stamped in gold on them. This design, like Sticky Fingers, would become a classic, and was a fitting debut for their new label.

The release of Sticky Fingers, marked a new era in The Rolling Stones’ career. It was the first album they had released on their newly founded Rolling Stones’ label. This brought to an end the Rolling Stones’ seven year association with Decca Record in Britain, and London Records in America. Despite the lengthy association between the two parties, it ended on a sour note.

After the end of relationship between The Rolling Stones and Decca and London Records, an expensive error discovered. It came to light that inadvertently, the  Rolling Stones had signed over the copyright to their sixties recordings to their former manager Alan Klein, and his company ABKCO. Having lost the copyright to their Decca and London Records’ recordings, The Rolling Stones decided to form their own label. Their first studio album of seventies, Sticky Fingers launched Rolling Stones Records.

Before Sticky Fingers was released, the  Rolling Stones held their breath as the critics had their say. Most critics heaped praise on Sticky Fingers, calling it The Rolling Stones’ finest album of their career. Tracks like Brown Sugar, Wild Horses, Can’t You Hear Me Knocking, Bitch and Moonlight Mile showed that The Rolling Stones had just created a career defining album. Not everyone agreed.

Unsurprisingly, the self appointed “Dean Of American Rock Critics” Robert Christgau didn’t agree. While others were heaping praise on Sticky Fingers, he disagreed. As 1971 drew to a close, the contrarian Christgau called Sticky Fingers the seventeenth best album of 1971. Robert Hilburn gave Sticky Fingers a backhanded compliment. While he conceded that Sticky Fingers was one of the best albums of 1971, it was “only modest by The Rolling Stones’ standards.” Lynn Van Matre also proved a past master of the backhanded compliment. She said that the  Rolling Stones were “at their raunchy best” but that the music is “hardly innovative.” She did agree that Sticky Fingers was one of the albums of 1971. Record buyers agreed.

When Sticky Fingers hit the shops on 23rd April 1971, it reached number one in Britain and in the US Billboard 200 charts. Across the world, Sticky Fingers was a huge seller, reaching the top ten in ten countries. Apart from America and Britain, Sticky Fingers reached number one in Australia, Canada, Holland, Norway, Spain, Sweden and West Germany. Sticky Fingers was certified gold in Britain and France. In America, Sticky Fingers sold three million copies and was certified triple-platinum. Forrty-four years after its release, and Sticky Fingers is perceived as a Rolling Stones’ classic.

No wonder. Sticky Fingers features the  Rolling Stones at their very best. It was as if everything had been leading up to Sticky Fingers and then, a year later, Exile On Main Street. That is the case from the opening bars of Brown Sugar, which opens Sticky Fingers.

Instantly, The Rolling Stones are turned in to a good time, rock ’n’ roll band on Brown Sugar. With Mick at the helm, they strut their way through this homage to the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle. It was recorded in Muscle Shoals, where its its  tough, blues rock sound took shape. Everything falls into place. Jimmy Miller’s decision to pair Bobby Keys’ saxophone and Keith’s guitar in the breakdown is a masterstroke. He plays his part in a future Rolling Stones’ classic.

From good time, rock ’n’ roll, The Rolling Stones drop the tempo on Sway, the first of the ballads. Who wrote the song is disputed. Officially, it’s credited to Jagger and Richards. However, Mick Taylor has subsequently claimed to have written the track. He certainly plays an important part in this slow, bluesy ballad. Mick adds a bottleneck slide guitar solo, while Mick Jagger exercises demons via his vocal. Then on Wild Horses, Mick delivers one of his finest vocals. It’s best described as soul-baring, on what is easily, a Rolling Stones’ classic. 

Can’t You Hear Me Knocking sees The Rolling Stones transformed into a good time rock ’n’ roll band. In 1971, their only opposition was The Faces. Mick’s accompanied by harmonies from the rest of Stones, vamps and struts his way through the lyrics. Then at 2.43, the instrumental break begins, and The Rolling Stones stretch their legs. Rocky Dijon’s congas propels the arrangement along, before Bobby Keys unleashes a saxophone solo whilst Keith and Mick trade guitar licks. Augmenting the arrangement is Billy Preston’s organ. However, later, Mick Taylor unleashes a blistering guitar solo, as he makes his mark on The Rolling Stones.

The Rolling Stones first played You Gotta Move on their 1969 American tour. This inspired them to cover the song on Sticky Fingers. It’s reinvented, and transformed into a rousing, bluesy jam. Partly this reinvention is down to waves of bluesy guitar, and Mick’s drawling, mid-Atlantic vocal.

Originally, Bitch was the B-Side to Brown Sugar. However, it soon found its way on radio playlists. No wonder. It benefits from an impressive, almost overblown arrangement. Mick whose been unlucky in love, doesn’t hold back; “love is a bitch.” Behind him, big bold horns and duelling guitars fill out the arrangement. Soon, The Rolling Stones in full flow. It’s an impressive sound, and one of Sticky Fingers’ highlights. Bluesy and soulful describes I Got the Blues. Again, the  Stones drop the tempo. Mick, accompanied by growling horns, delivers a needy, soulful vocal.

The first time anyone heard Sister Morphine, was when Marianne Faithful released it as the B-Side to her 1969 single Something Better. Two years later, it’s given a makeover by the Stones and their friends. Ry Cooder plays slide guitar and Jack Nitzsche piano and organ. Against this understated arrangement Mick’s vocal is like a confessional. It’s as if he can relate to, and understand the poignant lyrics. There is also a darkness to the country-tinged Dead Flowers. Especially the line: “I’ll be in my basement room, with a needle and a spoon.” During the period Sticky Fingers was recorded, Keith Richards and Gram Parsons had become friends. Some people believe he inspired the song, which is one of the most underrated in the  Rolling Stones’ back-catalogue.

Closing Sticky Fingers is Moonlight Mile. It’s another ballad with country influence. Jimmy Miller is responsible for a big, bold arrangement. Strings sweep in the background, while Mick sings about how difficult it is being a rock ’n’ roll star, whose constantly in the spotlight. The way he delivers the lyrics, it’s as if he is tiring of life as a Rolling Stone.

That would never happen. Forty-four years later, and Mick Jagger is still a Rolling Stone. They went on to release a string of critically acclaimed and commercially successful albums. However, Sticky Fingers is one of the  Rolling Stones’ finest moments. 

Throughout Sticky Fingers, the  Stones are at their best and most versatile. Seamlessly, they switch between blues, rock and country. Similarly, one minute The Rolling Stones are a good time rock ’n’ roll band, the next they’re delivering soul baring ballads. That is why Sticky Fingers is a captivating, timeless album and career defining album and was the best album of their career so far. It was the third studio album of The Rolling Stones “golden era.” The final album of this period was Exile On Main Street. Somehow, it managed to surpass the quality of Sticky Fingers. That was still to come.

In 1971, the Rolling Stones were back where they belonged, at the top of the charts. They were now the biggest rock ’n’ roll band in the world, which took some doing. The last few years had taken their toll on the Stones. They had been arrested, lost Brian Jones and replaced him with Mick Taylor. Then there was the controversy surrounding Altamont. Somehow, the Rolling Stones the had survived all this, and the band was still going strong, having just released what was a career defining classic album Sticky Fingers.

Classic Album:Rolling Stones-Sticky Fingers.

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CULT CLASSIC: GANDALF-JOURNEY TO AN IMAGINARY LAND.

Cult Classic: Gandalf-Journey To An Imaginary Land.

Prior to embarking upon a musical career, and becoming  one of Austria’s most accomplished, innovative and successful musicians, Gandalf travelled extensively. That’s why the talented multi-instrumentalist never released his debut album Journey To An Imaginary Land until 1980. By then he was twenty-nine. However, soon, Gandalf would make up for lost time. He would release over thirty albums between 1980 and 2016. These albums would be heavily influenced by Gandalf’s life before music, when  he travelled extensively.

Gandalf’s travels took him all over the world, including to India. The constant travelling certainly broadened the mind of Gandalf. He also realised that music was a universal language. It was something that people in different countries and continents shared a love of. Gandalf experienced this firsthand.

As he traversed the globe, Gandalf made a living making music. He was the twenty-first Century equivalent of a travelling minstrel. It was during his travels that Gandalf realised that he wanted to make a living as a musician.

This came as no surprise to many that knew Gandalf. He had grownup in the small town of Pressbaum, in Lower Austria. That was where Heinz Strobl was born on the 4th of  December 1952. It would be much later when Heinz adopted the Gandalf moniker. Before that, Heinz proved to be a gifted and natural musician as he grew up.

That was despite having no formal musical education. Heinz could pickup an instrument and soon, was playing along to a song on the radio or a record that was playing. Soon, he could play the piano and guitar. By the time he headed off on his travels, Heinz had mastered a number of different instruments.

On his return from what was the modern equivalent of a Grand Tour, Heinz had mastered a myriad of instruments that he had discovered on his travels. This included a sitar, saz, charango, bouzuki and balaphon. They would play an important part in Heinz’s future musical career.

Initially, Heinz began playing with various rock bands during the seventies. During the seventies, progressive rock was at the peak of its popularity. Heinz was a member of a couple of progressive rock bands. This however, was all part of his musical apprenticeship. 

As the seventies gave way to the eighties, Heinz decided to reinvent himself, and adopted the moniker Gandalf. This stemmed from Heinz’s love of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings. Little did he realise that his new moniker would feature on over thirty albums. This included Gandalf’s debut album Journey To An Imaginary Land. It was released by WEA  and recently was rereleased by Esoteric Recordings. Journey To An Imaginary Land showcased Gandalf’s unique and inimitable style.

It began to take shape on Gandalf’s debut album Journey To An Imaginary Land. It was released by WEA in Austria during 198o. This marked the debut of Gandalf, who later described himself as a “painter of musical landscapes.”

This is quite fitting, Having written the six tracks that became Journey To An Imaginary Land, Gandalf began painting these “musical landscapes” using his has extensive musical palette. It included everything from acoustic and electric instruments to the traditional, ethnic instruments that Gandalf had discovered and collected on his travels. Included in Gandalf’s palette, were various synths and samplers. They would play an important part in not just Journey To An Imaginary Land, but Gandalf’s future albums.

With his impressive array of instruments, Gandalf began recording Journey To An Imaginary Land at Beginning Soundstudio in August 1980. He arranged, recorded and produced the album. Gandalf played each and every instrument, including the synths that play such an important part in Journey To An Imaginary Land. Once the album was recorded, Gandalf mixed his debut album. It was completed in October 1980 and then delivered to WEA, who Gandalf was signed to.

WEA scheduled the release of Journey To An Imaginary Land for late in 1980. Before that, critics received a copy of Gandalf’s debut album. 

Journey To An Imaginary Land was well received by critics, who were won over by what was hailed an innovative and progressive album. It was a fusion of eclectic musical instruments, influences and genres. When they’re combined by Gandalf, the result is a groundbreaking and genre-melting album, Journey To An Imaginary Land. It features elements of ambient, avant-garde, Berlin School, electronica and folk. When they are combined, they become part of what’s a captivating, mythical and symphonic musical journey that gradually unfolds over forty-five minutes. It’s an ambitious and accomplished album. Especially considering it was Gandalf’s debut album.

Buoyed by the reviews of Journey To An Imaginary Land, Gandalf eagerly awaited the release of his debut album. When Journey To An Imaginary Land was released later in 1980, the album failed to find an audience. Suddenly, Gandalf’s dream of making a living as a professional musician were dashed. However, after the initial disappointment, Gandalf was determined that his sophomore album would be his breakthrough album.

Departure opens Journey To An Imaginary Land. Synths replicate the sound of a rocket taking off, as it heads for a distant galaxy. It soars above the earth below, en route to its eventual destination. Banks of synths are to the fore. They buzz, shimmer and add glacial and ethereal sounds. Meanwhile, drums, bass and guitar augment the synths as the arrangement builds.Together, they add to the cinematic sound as Gandalf takes the listener on a captivating Journey To An Imaginary Land.

Just a a glacial synth and lone acoustic guitar opens Foreign Landscape. So are a prowling bass and searing guitar. It cuts through the arrangement as swell of synths envelop the arrangement. Soon, a buzzing bass synth adds an element of drama as the arrangement builds, before becoming understated. All that remains are washes of synths and that ominous beat. They’re joined by a futuristic synth as elegiac and dramatic sounds arise from the arrangement. Still, the drama continues to grow. Soon, the music veers between dramatic to understated. It became ambient, atmospheric, futuristic, otherworldly and later, dramatic. Seamlessly, sonic explorer Gandalf takes the listener on a musical journey to a  Foreign Landscape during this nine minute epic.

As The Peaceful Village unfolds, Gandalf gently strums his guitar, before washes of synths sweep in. Together, they create an ethereal, elegiac and dreamy sound. Gradually though, the arrangement begins to grow and build. Gandalf digs deep into his sonic palette and adds a bass and further layers of synths. They fill out the understated arrangement, and the tempo rises. Already Gandalf is fusing elements of ambient, avant-garde, electronica, rock and world music. Soon, there’s  a return to the spartan, elegiac sound. This is just a curveball. The arrangement is transformed as drums pound and join a fleet fingered futuristic synth solo. Still, the washes of ethereal synths remain as the drama builds. It seems that Gandalf has left behind The Peaceful Village and he’s about to embark upon the next part in his genre-melting cinematic Journey To An Imaginary Land.

Gusts of wind blow, as Gandalf embarks upon a March Across The Endless Plain. Already the arrangement is atmospheric, dramatic and understated. Swirling, buzzing, synths are joined by ominous drums and an acoustic guitar. It takes centre-stage. That’s until a  searing electric guitar replaces it. Still, there’s an ominous backdrop as Gandalf continues his journey. Then an almost otherworldly synth is added, before the guitar returns. Later, the arrangement is stripped bare, and all that remains are swells of elegiac synths. Gradually, the arrangement rebuilds, with the drums, guitar and synths returning. They conjure up images of sonic adventurer as he embarks upon what’s a lonely journey into the unknown, a March Across The Endless Plain.

As The Fruitful Gardens reveals its delights, an acoustic guitar and  glacial synths combine. They’re soon joined by a slow, deliberate elegiac synth. They combine to create a meandering arrangement. Later, a bass synth is added as the arrangement builds and the drama increases. It’s a well trodden path, and one used throughout the album. What differs is the addition of an urgently strummed guitar, that’s soon joined by gliding, glacial synths. They then take centre-stage as the guitar drops out. This adds to an ambient sound. Later, when the bass synth returns, it a futuristic sound to this cinematic soundscape.

Closing Journey To An Imaginary Land is Sunset At The Crystal Lake. A droning elegiac synths takes centre-stage, before chiming sounds can be heard. Soon, the elegiac synths quivers and shivers, before a bass synth is aded. Again, there’s an ambient and cinematic sound to the arrangement. The addition of the bass synths adds a sci-fi sound, and conjures up images of a spaceship en route to Sunset At The Crystal Lake. That is no surprise. Despite the  understated arrangements, they’re rich in imagery. Later, as Gandalf nears his destination, the arrangement grows. The bass synth plays a leading role. So does a crystalline synth as the Journey To An Imaginary Land ends Sunset At The Crystal Lake.

Inspired by his travels and musical past, Gandalf spent three months recording Journey To An Imaginary Land. The album was completed in October 1980, and rereleased to critical acclaim in Austria in late1980. Sadly, Journey To An Imaginary Land failed to ind the audience it deserved. This was just a minor blip.

Critical acclaim and commercial success were omnipresent from To Another Horizon onwards. Gandalf went on to release over thirty further albums between 1981 and 2016. Nowadays, Gandalf is regarded as one of Austria’s most accomplished, innovative and successful musicians. Gandalf who is a talented multi-instrumentalist, is also one of Austria’s most prolific artists. 

That came as no surprise to those who discovered the delights of Journey To An Imaginary Land upon its release. Here was an album where Gandalf takes the listener on a musical journey. The music is variously atmospheric, dramatic, elegiac, ethereal, futuristic, moody and otherworldly. Alway, there’s a cinematic sound, as sonic explorer and innovator Gandalf, takes the lister on a captivating Journey To An Imaginary Land.

Cult Classic: Gandalf-Journey To An Imaginary Land.

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CULT CLASSIC: TIM MAIA-DISCO CLUB.

Cult Classic-Tim Maia-Disco Club.

By 1978, Tim Maia had released nine albums since his 1970 eponymous debut, and although some of these album had been released to critical acclaim and were a commercial success, the charismatic Brazilian singer found himself financially embarrassed. Things had been going from bad to worse over the last few years and  Tim Maia now found himself being chased by bailiffs and debt collectors on a daily basis. Tim Maia hoped that his tenth album Disco Club would sell well enough to solve all his financial problems, given disco’s popularity in Brazil. Disco Club needed to sell well as all the money that Tim Maia had earned since 1970 was long gone, spent on cars, musical instruments and the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle which Tim Maia had embraced almost defiantly. However, it hadn’t always been like this.

Tim Maia, who was born in Rio De Janeiro on September the ‘28th’ 1942.Tim Maia was the eighteenth of nineteen children. Aged just six, Tim Maia earned a living delivering homemade food which his mother cooked. This Tim Maia hoped would be the nearest he ever got to an ordinary job. After that, Tim Maia decided to devote himself to music which offered him an escape from the grinding poverty that was around him. 

It turned out that Tim Maia was a prodigiously talented child, who wrote his first song as an eight year old. By the time he was fourteen, Tim Maia had learnt to play the drums and formed his first group Os Tijucanos do Ritmo. They were only together for a year, but during that period, Tim Maia took guitar lessons and was soon a proficient guitarist. This would stand him in good stead in the future.

In 1957, Tim Maia domed vocal harmony group, The Sputniks who made a television appearance on Carlos Eduardo Imperial’s Clube do Rock. However, the group was a short-lived, and Tim Maia embarked upon a solo career. This lasted until 1959, when seventeen year old Tim Maia made the decision to emigrate.

Tim Maia decided to head to America, which he believed he was the land of opportunity and headed to New York with just twelve dollars in his pocket. On his arrival, Tim Maia who was unable to speak English, managed to bluff his way through customs, telling the officials that he was a student called Jimmy. Incredibly, the customs officer believed him and Tim Maia made his way to Tarrytown, New York, where he lived with extended family and started making plans for the future. By then, Tim Maia had decided he would never return to Brazil.

During his time in New York, Tim Maia held down a variety of casual jobs and it has been alleged that he even augmented his meagre earnings by committing petty crimes. However, Tim Maia also learnt to speak and sing in English, which lead to him forming a vocal group The Ideals.

During his time with The Ideals, they decided to record a demo which included New Love which featured lyrics by Tim Maia. When The Ideals entered the studio, percussionist Milton Banana made a guest appearance. Sadly, nothing came of the demo, although Tim Maia later resurrected New Love for his album Tim Maia 1973. Before that, things went awry for Tim Maia and he was eventually deported.

Confusion surrounds why and when Tim Maia was deported from America, and there’s two possible explanations. The first, and more rock ’n’ roll version is that Tim Maia was arrested on possession of cannabis in 1963, and deported shortly thereafter. That seems unlikely given how punitive penalties for possession of even a small quantity of cannabis were in the sixties. Indeed, it’s highly unlikely that Tim Maia would’ve deported, without having to serve a jail sentence first. This lends credence to the allegation that Tim Maia  was caught in a stolen car in Daytona, Florida, and after serving six months in prison, he was deported back to Brazil in 1964.

Now back home in Brazil, Tim Maia’s life seemed to be going nowhere fast. He was fired from several jobs, and was also arrested several times. It was no surprise when Tim Maia decided to move to São Paulo, where he hoped that he could get his career back on track.

Having moved to São Paulo, Tim Maia, hoped he would be reunited with Roberto Carlos who had been a member of The Sputniks. Ironically, it was Roberto Carlos who Tim Maia had insulted before he left The Sputniks. Despite leaving several messages, Roberto Carlos never returned Tim Maia’s calls and he had no option but to try to make his own way in the São Paulo music scene. 

Tim Maia’s persistence paid off, and soon, he had featured on Wilson Simonal’s radio show, and then appeared alongside Os Mutantes on local television. Despite making inroads into the São Paulo music scene, Tim Maia was determined to contact Roberto Carlos and sent him a homemade demo. Eventually, Tim Maia’s persistence paid off.

When Roberto Carlos heard the demo, he recommended Tim Maia to CBS who offered him a recording deal for a single, and an appearance on the Jovem Guarda television program. However, when Tim Maia’s released his debut single Meu País in 1968, it failed to find an audience.

Tim Maia tried a new approach with his sophomore single and recorded These Are the Songs, in English. It was released later in 1968, but again, commercial success eluded Tim Maia. Things weren’t looking good for the twenty-six year old singer.

Fortunately, Tim Maia’s luck changed when he wrote These Are the Songs for Roberto Carlos, which gave his old friend a hit single. At last, things were looking up for Tim Maia.

Things continued to improve when Elis Regina became captivated by Tim Maia’s song These Are the Songs. This led to Elis Regina asking Tim Maia to duet with her on the song. Tim Maia agreed and they recorded the song in English and Portuguese, which the song featured on Elis Regina’s 1970 album Em Pieno Veroa. Recording with such a famous Brazilian singer gave Tim Maia’s career a huge boost, and soon, he was offered a recording contract by Polydor. 

Having signed to Polydor in 1970, and somewhat belatedly recorded his debut album Tim Maia 1970. Although it showcased a talented, versatile and charismatic singer, who married soul and funk with samba and Baião. This groundbreaking album spent twenty-four weeks in the upper reaches of the Brazilian charts and launched Tim Maia’s career.

The following year, Tim Maia returned with his sophomore album Tim Maia 1971, where elements of soul and funk were combined with samba and Baião There were even hints of jazz, psychedelia and rock, during what was an ambitious and innovative album of genre-melting music which was released to critical acclaim and commercial success. Tim Maia 1971 also featured two hits singles Não Quero Dinheiro (Só Quero Amar) and Preciso Aprender a Ser Só. Tim Maia’s star was in the ascendancy, and it looked as if he was well on his way to becoming one of the biggest stars in Brazilian music. 

After the success of his sophomore album, Tim Maia headed to London to celebrate  after years of struggling to make a breakthrough. For the first time in his career he was making a good living out of music, and Tim Maia was determined to celebrate and enjoy the fruits of his label. However,  it was during this trip to London, that he first discovered his love of the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle. 

Realising that he was only here for a visit, Tim Maia embraced the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle and almost defiantly, lived each day as if it was his last. He hungrily devoured copious amounts of drugs and alcohol which became part of Tim Maia’s daily diet. Fortunately, his new-found lifestyle didn’t seem to affect Tim Maia’s ability to make music. That was until Tim Maia discovered a new drug that would prove to be his undoing.

In London, Tim Maia discovered LSD He became an advocate of its supposed mind opening qualities. He took 200 tabs of LSD home to Brazil, giving it to friend and people at his record label. Little did Tim Maia know, but this was like pressing the self destruct button. 

Over the next two years, he released two further albums, Tim Maia 1972 and Tim Maia 1973 which were released to critical acclaim and commercial success in Brazil. The only problem was that after the success of Tim Maia 1973, Tim Maia became unhappy at the royalty rate he was receiving from his publisher. This lead to him founding his own publishing company Seroma, which coincided with Tim Maia signing to RCA Victor

They had offered Tim Maia the opportunity to record a double album for his fifth album. He was excited by this opportunity and, agreed to sign to RCA Victor, and soon, began work on his fifth album. Somehow, Tim Maia was still seemed able to function normally on his daily diet of drink and drugs. Before long, he had already recorded the instrumental parts, and all that was left was for Tim to write the lyrics. 

Seeking inspiration for the lyrics, Tim Maia decided to visit one of his former songwriting partners Tibério Gaspar. That was where Tim main found the book that would change his life, but sadly,  not for the better. The book was Universo em Desencanto (Universe in Disenchantment), which revolved around the cult of Rational Culture who didn’t believe in eating red meat or using drugs. Given Tim Maia’s voracious appetite for drink and drugs, he seemed an unlikely candidate to join the cult. However, sadly, he did.

Straight away, the cult’s beliefs affected Tim Maia and his music. Ever since he joined the cult of Rational Energy, he beam fixated on UFOs, Tim was now clean-shaved, dressed in white and no longer drank, ate red meat, smoked or took drugs. Always in his hand was a mysterious book. Tim Maia was a changed man, and even his music changed.

The lyrics for his fifth album, and RCA Victor debut, were supposedly about his newly acquired knowledge that came courtesy of Universo em Desencanto. With the ‘lyrics’ complete, Tim Maia’s vocals were overdubbed onto what became Racional Volumes 1 and 2. With the album completed, Tim took it to  RCA Victor who promptly rejected the album. 

RCA Victor’s reason for rejecting the album was that it wasn’t of a commercial standard. To make matters worse, the lyrics made absolutely no sense. There was  only one small crumb of comfort, and that was that Tim Maia’s voice was improving. That hardly mattered for RCA Victor, who weren’t going to release the album. For RCA Victor, Racional Volumes 1 and 2 was huge disappointment. 

That was until Tim Maia offered to buy the master tapes from RCA Victor, so that he could release the album independently. RCA Victor accepted his offer, which allowed them to recoup some of their money. Having bought the master tapes, Tim Maia set about releasing Racional Volume 1 in 1975. Sadly, it didn’t enjoy the same critical acclaim and commercial success of Tim Maia’s four previous albums. Suddenly, many of Tim Maia’s fans thought he was no longer the artist he once was. 

After releasing Racional Volume 1 in 1975, Tim Maia returned in 1976 with his sixth album Racional Volume 2. Lightning struck twice when Racional Volume 2 failed to impress the critics and was a commercial failure. Nowadays, Racional Volumes 1 and 2 are cult classics, whereas in 1976 they tarnished Tim Maia’s reputation. Maybe this was the wakeup call he needed?

In 1976, Tim quit the cult after the release of Racional Volume 2. By then, he had fallen out with its leader and felt as if he had been duped. So much so, that Tim Maia wanted the master tapes to Racional, Volumes 1 and 2 destroyed. The two albums were part of his past, and now Tim Maia was ready and wanted to move forward.

Tim Maia’s music changed after Tim Maia Racional, Volumes 1 and 2 as he entered what was the most prolific period of his career. This began with the release of Tim Maia in 1976, which saw the thirty-four year old combine soul, funk and MPB (música popular brasileira). However, although Tim Maia proved reasonably popular upon its release, it didn’t match the success of his first four albums.

After the disappointment of his previous album, Tim Maia returned in 1977 with eighth album which he once again, decided to call Tim Maia. It found Tim Maia combining soul, funk and Latin influences on what’s an underrated album. Sadly, Tim Maia failed commercially and thirty-five year old Tim Maia was a worried man.

Ever since he had been signed by Polydor and received his first advance, Tim Maia had lavished large sums of money on everything from cars and musical instruments to his continued love of the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle. The rest of Tim Maia’s money was used to pay various fines he ran up, and to pay lawyers bills that had accumulated over the last few years. This came at a price, and by 1977, Tim Maia realised that he was insolvent. Almost every day, Tim Maia was forced to play a cat and mouse game as he left his flat as bailiffs and debt collectors who were constantly chasing him for unpaid bills. It was a worrying time for Tim Maia. However, Tim Maia knew that if he could record another successful album then all his financial problems would be solved.

Fortunately, there was still a small sum of money left from the advance Tim Maia had received from Polydor, and he decided to use this to record his ninth album. Unlike previous albums, he decided to record the album in English, which was something Tim Maia had always dreamt of. Using the last of his advance, he put a band together and recorded Tim Maia en Ingles. When the album was released in early 1978, Tim Maia en Ingles sold less than 10,000 which was nothing compared to what his other albums had sold. This was another financial disaster for Tim Maia whose finances went from bad to worse. 

With no money, and his popularity at an all-time low, the future wasn’t looking good for Tim Maia who watched as Brazil was won over by disco. The film Saturday Night Fever had just been released in Brazil, and records by Chic, Gloria Gaynor, KC and The Sunshine Band and Kool and The Gang were filling dancefloors in clubs across the country. Little did Tim Maia that two of the leading lights of Brazilian music were hatching a plan for him to record a disco album.

Lincoln Olivetti was one of the top arrangers in Brazil, while Guti Carvalho one of the country’s leading producers and they were keen to record a disco album with Tim Maia. They were both aware that the maverick singer was one of Brazil’s most talented singers, but were also aware of the reputation of being unpredictable. Their job was to harness Tim Maia’s talent and help him record an album where he reached the heights of his first four albums. However, to do that, required the backing of a record company.

Guti Carvalho approached Warner Bros in the hope that they would be interested in signing the flawed genius Tim Maia. However, they were well aware of his past and knew what had happened when he signed to RCA Victor. However, eventually, they decided to take a chance on Tim Maia, and he signed a recording contract with Warner Bros. His debut would be Disco Club, which was arranged by Lincoln Olivetti and produced by Guti Carvalho.

Now that he had signed to Warner Bros, Tim Maia was keen to begin work on Disco Club which he hoped would transform his career and finances. He wrote Acenda O Farol, Sossego, Vitória Régia Estou Contigo E Não Abro, All I Want, Se Me Lembro Faz Doer, Juras and Johnny. Tim Maia also joined forces with Hyldon to write the album opener A Fim De Voltar. It was joined by Cassiano’s Murmúrio while Arnaud Rodrigues and Piau penned Pais E Filhos. These ten tracks became Disco Club, which was recorded in two studios in Rio de Janeiro, Estudios Level and Estúdio Transamérica.

When the recording of Disco Club began, arranger and keyboardist Lincoln Olivetti and Guti Carvalho who co-produced the album with Tim Maia were joined by Argentinian conductor and arranger Miguel Cidrás. He was brought onboard to write the string arrangements to five of the tracks on Disco Club. No expense was spared and some of the top Brazilian musicians made their way to the studio to record an album that was soulful, funky and was also influenced by Tim Maia’s love of American disco. Lush strings, rasping horns and soulful backing vocalists joined percussion, keyboards and the rhythm section who added the Disco Club’s heartbeat. Gradually, a disco classic started to take shape on Tim Maia’s tenth album Disco Club. However, during the recording there was a problem.

When Tim Maia went to listen to the playback of Pais E Filhos he wasn’t impressed by what he heard, so producer Guti Carvalho opened the microphone to ask Miguel Cidrás to listen to the playback. Not knowing the microphone was open, Tim Maia explained that he felt his voice was being overpowered by the strings, and would rather have one of his friend arranging the strings. Miguel Cidrás heard every world and raced into the studio and grabbed Tim Maia by his tie and through him to the ground and it’s alleged started choking him. It took Guti Carvalho and Piau to get Miguel Cidrás off of Tim Maia.

As Tim Maia gasped for breath, he made it clear that he wanted Miguel Cidrás to play no further part in the session. He was gone for good as far as Tim Maia was concerned. Meanwhile, Miguel Cidrás was furious at this act of disrespect, but Warner Bros realised that the session couldn’t continue with him and at great expense paid the Argentinean arranger off. Things only lightened up when Tim Maia’s friend Mauricio do Valle arrived at the session and produced a large bag of cocaine. Suddenly, things started to return to normal.

After that, Tim Maia’s tenth album Disco Club began to take shape, and over the next few days and weeks, the musical maverick recorded what was one of his finest albums. After several years where Tim Maia had struggled to reach the heights of his first four albums, he was back with what proved to one of the finest albums of his career, Disco Club. It combines disco with funk, soul, MPB and occasionally jazz and rock. Disco Club’s slick, polished and hook-laden sound found an audience across Brazil when it was released later in 1978. Tim Maia’s Disco Club became one of the most successful albums of his career. 

The Brazilian soul man was back with what’s one of the finest album that Tim Maia released during a career that spanned three decades and thirty-four albums. Disco Club marked the return of the maverick soul man whose career had been a roller coaster since making a commercial breakthrough with Tim Maia 1970. 

Since then, he had embraced become one of the most successful Brazilian singers of the early seventies, defiantly embraced the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle, joined a cult and spent all the money that had earned. That was why Tim Maia found himself playing a game of cat and mouse with bailiffs and debt collectors before releasing Disco Club. However, apart from joining the cult, Tim Maia enjoyed every minute of the past eight years Tim Maia knew he was only here for a visit and set out to live life to the full.

That was just as well as Tim Maia passed away on March the ‘15th’ 1998, aged just fifty-five. Sadly, by then, Tim’ Mai’s shows and behaviour had become predictable, and that had been the case since his 1976 post-Racional comeback. Tim Maia was never the same man or musician after his dalliance with the cult of rational behaviour. However, Disco Club was one of the finest albums Tim Maia released after his post-Racional comeback. So much so, that Disco Club is as good as Tim Maia’s first four albums, when his star shone the brightest. These albums are a poignant reminder of one of Brazilian music’s most talented sons at the peak of his power.

Since his death in 1998, Tim Maia’s music has been a well-kept secret outside of his native Brazil, and even within Brazil, many people still aren’t aware of Tim Maia’s music. However, older record buyers still talk about the maverick singer-songwriter in hushed tones and remember the flawed genius that was Tim Maia who could’ve, and should’ve, been a huge star outside of his native Brazil. Sadly, something held him back, and stopped Tim Maia from enjoying the widespread commercial success and critical acclaim that his music richly deserved. That is despite Tim Maia being a hugely talented singer, songwriter, musician and producer who was capable of producing several classic albums, including  Disco Club, which was one of the highlights of his long and eventful career.

Cult Classic-Tim Maia-Disco Club.

MOGWAI-TEN RAPID (COLLECTED RECORDINGS 1996-1997).

Mogwai-Ten Rapid (Collected Recordings 1996–1997).

Label: Rock Action Records.

Nowadays, there aren’t many bands that stay together twenty-eight years, and release thirteen studio albums, five soundtracks and two live albums. There’s also the small matter of two remix albums and the four compilations that the Glasgow-based band Mogwai have released. The very first album that Mogwai released was the compilation Ten Rapid (Collected Recordings 1996–1997) which was recently reissued by Rock Action Records  for National Album Day 2019.

Ten Rapid (Collected Recordings 1996–1997) features nine tracks and is a reminder of Mogwai during the formative years of their career, and will keep their fans occupied until the release of the Kin soundtrack in late August 2018. Kin will be the next chapter in the Mogwai story which began in 1991.

The Mogwai story began in 1991, when Stuart Braithwaite and Dominic Aitchison first met in Scotland’s musical capital, Glasgow. Four years later, they met drummer Martin Bulloch and formed Mogwai, which film buffs will remember, is a character from the movie Gremlins. Mogwai was always meant as a temporary name, until they came up with something better. 

Later in 1995, three become four when guitarist John Cummings  joined Mogwai. Since then, John’s role in Mogwai has changed, and he’s now described as playing “guitar and laptop,” and as is regarded as the maestro when it comes to all things technical. However, not long after John Cummings joined Mogwai in 1995, the nascent band started honing their sound and making plans for the future.

In 1996, Mogwai founded their own record label Rock Action Records which would play an important part in the rise and rise of Mogwai over the next twenty-two years. So would another part of Mogwai’s nascent musical empire their Castle Of Doom Studios, which was cofounded by Mogwai and Tony Doogan in 2005. It’s situated in the West End of Glasgow, and has been a home from home for Mogwai, when they recorded new albums.  That was all still to come from Mogwai.

Before that, post rock pioneers Mogwai released their much-anticipated debut single on the ‘16th’ of March 1996. This was a double-A-side that featured Tuner and Lower, which was a limited edition of 500 that released on their new label Rock Action Records. Tuner was released to critical acclaim and the NME awarded it their single of the week award. While Tuner would later feature on Ten Rapid (Collected Recordings 1996–1997), Lower was omitted. However, Tuner offered a tantalising taste of Mogwai who critics were calling one of Scotland’s most exciting new bands.

In the summer of 1996, Mogwai released their sophomore single which was a rerecorded version of Angels v Aliens. It had originally been released on a split single that Mogwai and Dweeb released on Ché Trading label. However, the rerecorded version of Angels v Aliens is the definitive version of the song and became Mogwai’s second single which was released to plaudits and praise. It’s a welcome addition to Ten Rapid (Collected Recordings 1996–1997), and is a reminder of Mogwai as they continued to pioneer the post rock sound.

As one of music’s rising stars, Mogwai was invented to play at the Camden Crawl II, which was a free concert that took place in North London, on the ’19th’ September 1996. Members of the audience were given a free compilation CD released by the  Love Train label which featured the Mogwai track A Place For Parks. However, the first time the rest of Mogwai’s fans heard A Place For Parks was when it featured on the compilation Ten Rapid (Collected Recordings 1996–1997).

It was a similar case with I Am Not Batman, which was given away free to those who attended the Ten Day Weekend Festival in Glasgow, in October 1996. On the a compilation cassette Hoover Your Head was Ten Day Weekend which in the spring of 1997 featured on the Ten Rapid (Collected Recordings 1996–1997) compilation.

Just a few weeks after playing a starring role at the Ten Day Weekend Festival, in their home city of Glasgow, Mogwai returned on the ‘4th’ of November 1996 with their third single. Summer and Ithica 27ϕ 9 was another limited edition double-A side and only 1,500 copies were pressed by the UK label Love Train. Critics hailed the single which later featured on Ten Rapid (Collected Recordings 1996–1997) as a triumphant return from Mogwai. 

Buoyed by the success and critical acclaim that had accompanied their first three singles, Mogwai returned in February 1997 with  their fourth single. This was another double-A side New Paths To Helicon (Part 1) which featured New Paths To Helicon (Part 2) on the B-Side. 3,000 copies were  released on the Wurlitzer Jukebox label and featured Mogwai at their most inventive and innovative. Both sides feature on Ten Rapid (Collected Recordings 1996–1997) and showcase a groundbreaking band during the early part of their career.

Just two months later, on the ‘17th’ April 1997, Mogwai released the compilation Ten Rapid (Collected Recordings 1996–1997) on Rock Action Records. The track that closed the album was End, which was New Paths To Helicon played backwards. This was another example of Mogwai’s determination to innovate and push musical boundaries.

This is something that Mogwai have been doing ever since, and after thirteen studio albums, five soundtracks and two live albums they’ve been regarded as one of Scotland’s top bands over the past three decades. Twenty-seven years after Mogwai were formed, many critics believe that they’re now Scotland’s top band. 

That comes as no surprise, as consistently Mogwai released ambitious and groundbreaking music. Album after album, Mogwai push continue to musical boundaries to their limits, and sometimes way beyond as they continue to release innovative music. This is what post rock pioneers Mogwai have been doing since they released their debut single in 1996.

The following year, Mogwai’s debut single featured on the compilation Ten Rapid (Collected Recordings 1996–1997), which was the first album that the band released on Rock Action Records. Twenty-three years after Ten Rapid (Collected Recordings 1996–1997) was origoanly released, it’s been  reissued by Rock Action Records especially for National Album Day 2019.and is a tantalising taste of post rock pioneers as the Mogwai Young Team as they embarked upon what has been a long and successful career. 

Mogwai-Ten Rapid (Collected Recordings 1996–1997).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IKARUS-THE STORY OF KRAUTROCK’S NEARLY MEN.

Ikarus-The Story Of Krautrock’s Nearly Men.

In Greek mythology, Icarus, the son of the master craftsman Daedalus, who created the Labyrinth, met a tragic ending. Icarus and Daedalus were desperate to escape from Crete. So Daedalus constructed wings made of feathers and wax. As Icarus prepared to make his escape, Daedalus warned his son of complacency and hubris. 

Icarus shouldn’t neither fly too high, nor too low. If he flew too high, the sun would melt the wax. However, if he Icarus flew too low, the dampness of would weigh down the feathers. It seemed Icarus was between the devil and the deep blue sea.

And so it proved to be. Icarus chose to ignore his father’s wise words, and flew too close to the sun. The sun’s rays melted the wax, and Icarus fell into the sea. He became the first of many people who flew too close to the sun.

Sadly, this includes many musicians. Among them are Syd Barrett, Skip Spence and Brian Wilson. These three legendary musicians flew too close to the sun, and as a result, never quite filled their early potential. Sadly, neither did Ikarus.

They could’ve gone on to become one of the greatest German rock bands of their generation. Sadly, Ikarus’ discography consists of just one studio album Ikarus. It was released on the Plus label in 1971i. Ikarus showcased a talented, pioneering group, who many thought were destined for greatness. Their story began a few years earlier.

It was in the mid-sixties, in the musical hotbed that was Hamburg, that Ikarus were formed. Ikarus were just the latest beat group that had been formed in Hamburg. This was where The Beatles served their musical apprenticeship a few years earlier. Now a whole host of local groups wanted to follow in the Fab Four’s footsteps. 

Ikarus were no different and they spent evenings and weekends practising in various Hamburg basements. They were determined to hone their sound, before making their debut.This didn’t take long, as Ikarus featured some talented musicians.

This included classically trained keyboardist Wulf Dieter Struntz and bassist Wolfgang Kracht. His party trick was to play a violin with his gloves on. Music seemed to come easily to the members of Ikarus, and it wasn’t long until they began to play live.

By 1966, Ikarus made tentative steps onto Hamburg’s live scene. Ikarus’ earliest concerts took place in youth clubs, where they played cover versions of popular song. At first,Ikarus were called Beautique In Corporation. Soon, this was soon shortened to BIC. This found favour among the band’s audience.

Although a relatively new group, BIC quickly won over audiences. Soon, they had large and enthusiastic audience. BIC played what they wanted to hear. They weren’t above playing covers of hits by Elvis Presley and Tom Jones. This was easy on the ear of the audience. However, before long, BIC’s setlist changed.

The band members began to write their own songs. Audiences expected to hear original material. They didn’t just want to hear cover versions. This suited the members of BIC, who were classically trained musicians. Composition came easy to them.

These new songs were added to BIC’s sets. Some of these songs had a psychedelic sound. BIC’s music was evolving, as music evolved. This proved popular when BIC played live.

By then, BIC had graduated from the youth club circuit, and were by now familiar faces on the Hamburg and North German music scene. Their music was a mixture of psychedelia and rock. However, there was an element of comedy in BIC’s sets. 

Some of the members of BIC enjoyed the new generation of German vaudeville comedians. So they began to combine vaudeville comedy with their psychedelic sound. It proved a potent and successful combination.

Soon, BIC were one of the most successful Hamburg bands. They were well on their way to becoming one of the leading lights of the Hamburg scene. So when they saw an advert for the 1969 Hamburg student beat band competition, BIC decided to enter.

All of the top Hamburg bands entered. The competition was fierce. Hamburg had a thriving music scene. While the other bands were professional, BIC were still an amateur band. This didn’t matter. When BIC took to the stage, they quickly won over the judges with their psychedelic sound. Once all the bands had played, the judges conferred and the winner was announced. It was BIC, the only amateur band in the competition. They had triumphed, and won what was Hamburg’s most prestigious competition.

Having won the 1969 Hamburg student beat band competition, BIC were invited to in the 1970 Hamburg Pop and Blues festival. It took place between the 1st and 3rd of April 1970. BIC were going to rub shoulders with some of the biggest band on that early seventies. Among them, were Chicken Shack, Steampacket, Alexis Corner and Hardin and York. Despite such an illustrious lineup, it was the hometown band that won the hearts and minds of the audience. BIC had stolen the show.

After their performance at the 1970 Hamburg Pop and Blues festival, things happened quickly for BIC. A live album of BIC’s performance at the Hamburg Pop and Blues festival was released as their debut album. It was augmented by performances from Frumpy and Tomorrow’s Gift. The album sold fairly well, and it looked like BIC’s star was in the ascendancy.

Just a few months later, BIC’s lineup changed, when two new names joined the band. Now BIC was a five piece band. The new lineup of BIC was then asked to open for British band Uriah Heep on their forthcoming tour. This was the start of the rise and rise of BIC.

Not long after this, BIC acquired a manager, who was also a  concert promoter, Will Jahncke. One of his first suggestions was that BIC changed their name to Ikarus. While this seemed more in keeping with the psychedelic and progressive rock scene, BIC were a popular and successful band. However, the five members decided to change the band’s name to Ikarus.

Following the name change, Ikarus’ music changed. They were inspired to do so, by King Crimson, Yes, Colosseum and Frank Zappa. Soon, Ikarus were fusing fusion with progressive rock and experimental music. There was still a slight psychedelic sound to their music. However, the new sound didn’t please everyone.

When Ikarus played live, the audience were divided by the stylistic change. While some embraced and welcome Ikarus’ new sound, some weren’t as sure. They weren’t won over by the move towards progressive rock. Instead, they felt the lengthy songs, and changes in tempo and time signature were self-indulgent. However, critics disagreed, and continued to champion Ikarus.

With the critics championing their music, it made sense for Ikarus to record their debut album in the second half of 1971. So the five members of Ikarus made their way to the Windrose Studio, Hamburg. 

By then, the members of Ikarus had written four songs. Each of the songs were collaborations between members of the band. That was apart from The Raven Including “Theme For James Marshall.” It was an Edgar Allan Poe poem set to music written by four members of Ikarus. This became a near twelve minute epic that featured on side two of Ikarus. With the album written, the band began recording their debut album. 

At the Windrose Studio, there was a sense of anticipation.The original members of the band had spent six years playing in clubs and festivals. All this was preparation for the day that Ikarus recorded their eponymous debut album. If things went to play, Ikarus music would be heard by a much wider audience. 

The members of Ikarus realised this as they setup their equipment. By then, Ikarus’ rhythm section featured drummer Bernd Schröder, bassist Wolfgang Kracht and guitarist Manfred Schulz. Jochen Petersen played guitar, but also switched between 12-string guitar, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, flute and clarinet. Wulf Dieter Struntz played organ and piano. Lorenz Köhler took charge of the lead vocals on three tracks; while Manfred Schulz featured on Early Bell’s Voice. Producing Ikarus was Jochen Petersen. Eventually, Ikarus was complete. Now all that was left was to release Ikarus.

With Ikarus complete, it was scheduled for release in February 1972. Miller International had decided to release it on their Plus imprint. However, before that, critics had their say on Ikarus.

For some time, critics had championed Ikarus’ music. Their eponymous debut album was no different. Ikarus, with its combination of fusion, progressive rock and psychedelia met with the critics approval. Critically acclaimed reviews followed, and Ikarus, who were still an amateur band, looked like they had a successful album on their hands.

So it proved to be. Ikarus sold well, and soon, the band were playing sellout shows across Germany. In Hamburg, Ikarus’ home town, they were asked open for Deep Purple. It looked like Ikarus were were well on their way to becoming one of the stars of the German music scene. Those that heard Ikarus concurred.

For some time, critics had championed Ikarus’ music. Their eponymous debut album was no different. Ikarus, with its combination of fusion, progressive rock and psychedelia met with the critics approval. Critically acclaimed reviews followed, and Ikarus, who were still an amateur band, looked like they had a successful album on their hands.

Although Ikarus only featured four tracks, they ooze quality. That’s apparent from Eclipse the opening bars of Eclipse to the closing notes of Early Bell’s Voice. Ikarus take the listener on a Joycean musical journey. It features thought proving lyrics with a social conscience. Especially, on the first two tracks, Eclipse and Mesentry. Throughout Ikarus, musical genres melt into one, including everything from avant-garde and experimental music to folk rock, free jazz and fusion to Krautrock, progressive rock,  psychedelia and rock. Sometimes, musical genres melt into one resulting in a inventive and innovative genre-melting sound. There’s constant stylistic change and changes in tempo as the music constantly heads in new directions.

The music veers between impassioned, dramatic, symphonic and urgent, to emotive, theatrical and thoughtful. Sometimes, the music is pastoral and understated before becoming soulful, experimental and futuristic. Other times, the music becomes jazzy, moody, gothic, lysergic and cinematic. Constantly, Ikarus  throw curveballs and nuances, subtleties and surprise unfold. The result is music that’s inventive and innovative. Ikarus were musical pioneers. 

That was the case with the artists that have obviously influenced Ikarus. This includes King Crimson, Yes, Pink Floyd, Queen and Soft Machine. They influence Ikarus’s captivating, genre-melting, Joycean musical journey.

Sadly, Ikarus was the only album that Ikarus ever released. The Ikarus’ story is a case of unfilled potential.

On Ikarus, listeners were introduced to what could’ve been one of the most successful German bands of the seventies. Their was bang ‘on trend’. Progressive rock and fusion were both hugely popular by the mid-seventies. 

That’s when Ikarus were offered a contract by Metronome. They were the owner of the legendary Brian label. For Ikarus, this was the opportunity to dine at the top table in German rock music. Surely, this was an offer that Ikarus couldn’t and wouldn’t resist?

They did. In the mid-seventies, Ikarus were still an amateur band. Its member felt that becoming a professional band was risky. There was no guarantee that their albums would sell. As an amateur band, they had the best of both worlds. Music was a hobby, one they were good at and that they made money with.

The live circuit was lucrative. It was a good way for the members of Ikarus to augment their income. However, to become a full-time band was a step too far for some members of Ikarus, and they decided the band should split-up. It was a case of what might have been.

Listening to Ikarus nearly forty-four years after its release, and one can’t help but wonder if the members of Ikarus regret their decision? Do they ever wonder what would’ve happened if they had signed to Metronome? Maybe they would’ve gone on to enjoy the same success as Can, Guru Guru, Eloy or Birth Control. Or maybe, it would’ve been another generation before Ikarus’ music finally received the recognition it deserves. That was the case with Neu!, Harmonia and Cluster. What I do know, is that Ikarus had the talent to reach the higher echelons of German rock music. That is apparent on their eponymous debut album which is a tantalising reminder of  Ikarus, Krautrock’s nearly men who should’ve enjoyed a long and successful career. 

Ikarus-The Story Of Krautrock’s Nearly Men.

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YESTERDAY HAS GONE-THE SONGS OF TEDDY RANDAZZO.

Yesterday Has Gone-The Songs Of Teddy Randazzo.

Label: Ace Records.

The name Teddy Randazzo means different things to different people.  To some, he’s the singer who had Billboard 100 hits with 1958s Little Serenade, 1960s The Way Of A Clown and Big Wide World in 1963. He featured in  rock revues alongside Chuck Berry and LaVern Baker, and had roles in films including  Hey, Let’s Twist!, The Girl Can’t Help It, Rock, Rock, Rock and Mister Rock and Roll in the late-fifties and early sixties. However, that was just part of the Teddy Randazzo story.

He was also a talented arranger and producer who was known for arrangements that were variously elegiac, ethereal, intimate, intense and often, were dramatic with sweeping strings and featured lyrics that were emotive or ordinary people could be relate to. That was no surprise as Teddy Randazzo was one of the leading songwriters of the sixties and seventies.  He’s the latest inductee into Ace Records’ Songwriter Series, and twenty-five of his songs feature on Yesterday Has Gone-The Songs Of Teddy Randazzo, which was released recently. It’s a reminder of one a great songwriter, arranger and producer who was one of the finest of his generation.

Opening Yesterday Has Gone-The Songs Of Teddy Randazzo is I’m On The Outside (Looking In) by Little Anthony and The Imperials. It was released on DCP in 1964, and features a vulnerable vocal full of emotion. It reached  fifteen on the US Billboard 100 and eight on the US R&B charts and gave the reformed group a hit single.  Little Anthony and The Imperials’ other contribution is a cover of Yesterday Has Gone which although failed to chart, would resonate with many who heard the song.

In 1965, Tim Yuro recorded Yesterday Has Gone which was penned by Bobby Weinstein and  Teddy Randazzo, who was commissioned by Mercury to arranged the session. It features a big, bold and dramatic arrangement that is a perfect backdrop for a vocal that is emotive and powerful.

You Don’t Need A Heart was released by Teddy Randazzo as a single on DCP, in 1965. By then, he was enjoying a successful career as a songwriter and arranger, but delivers a vocal masterclass. The result was one of his finest releases for DCP.

When Tony Orlando released Think Before You Act, which was produced by Teddy Randazzo and released on Atco in 1965, he was still a solo artist. It was only later that he would become the lead singer with Dawn. However, Think Before You Act more than hints at what was to come from the twenty-one year old singer.

When Esther Phillips recorded Let Me Know When It’s Over for Atlantic in 1965, one of her backing vocalists was Tony Orlando. Teddy Randazzo arranged and produced the song, which features lush, sweeping strings and a soul-baring vocal from one of the most underrated singers of her generation Esther Phillips.

The Chairman  Of The Board recorded Rain In My Heart, which was written by Teddy Randazzo and Victoria Pike, and released on Reprise in 1968. It’s a powerful and emotive song that opened Frank SInatra’s Circles’ album, which was also released in 1968.

Jimmy Rice channels the spirit of The King on his rendition of On Or Not At All. Teddy Randazzo cowrote, conducted and arranged the song which was released on Red Bird in 1965.

Teddy Randazzo  cowrote Goin’ Out Of My Head which has been recorded by many artists over the years. This includes  Dionne Warwick. Her soulful and needy cover was produced by Bacharach and David and featured on her 1966 album Very Dionne.

In 1968, The Delfonics recorded Hurt So Bad, which Teddy Randazzo cowrote, for their La La Means I Love You album. It was arranged, conducted and produced by the legendary Thom Bell and is a tantalising taste of the Philly Soul sound.

By 1979, The Stylistics were signed to Mercury and were working with Teddy Randazzo. He cowrote, arranged and produced  Love At First Sight, which is an underrated song from the group’s impressive back-catalogue.

Closing Yesterday Has Gone-The Songs Of Teddy Randazzo is A Million To One by The Manhattans. It was written by Teddy Randazzo and Victoria Pike, and was the title-track to their 1971 album for De-Luxe. Slick and soulful, it’s a reminder of The Manhattans’ trademark sound and style that was successful during the late-sixties and seventies.  It’s also the perfect way to close this lovingly curated compilation.

There’s twenty-five tracks on Yesterday Has Gone-The Songs Of Teddy Randazzo which was recently released by Ace Records and showcase a talented singer, songwriter, arranger and producer at the peak of his powers. These songs were recorded between 1964 and 1979 when the great and good of music wanted to work with the late, great Teddy Randazzo. He wrote, arranged and produced songs for the biggest names in music during that period. 

Proof of that is Yesterday Has Gone-The Songs Of Teddy Randazzo, a lovingly curated compilation that pays homage to one of the great songwriters of his generation. He is a worthy indictee into Ace Records’ Songwriter’s Series and the compilation also showcases his talents as an arranger and producer. The arrangements are elegiac, ethereal, lush, intimate, intense and often, were dramatic and majestic with sweeping strings and lyrics that the listener can relate to. Yesterday Has Gone-The Songs Of Teddy Randazzo is another quality compilation and a welcome addition to the long-running and successful Songwriter’s Series.

Yesterday Has Gone-The Songs Of Teddy Randazzo.

CULT CLASSIC: SKEETER DAVIS-LET ME GET CLOSE TO YOU.

Cult Classic: Skeeter Davis-Let Me Get Close To You.

Nowadays, Skeeter Davis is remembered and regarded as one of country music’s pioneers. She was one of the first women in country music to enjoy commercial success as a solo artist. This proved to be a game-changer. 

Skeeter Davis paved the way for several generations of female country singers to enjoy a successful career as a solo artist. However, not only was Skeeter Davis a successful singer, but a successful songwriter, but a role model for  young, up-and-coming female singer-songwriters. She inspired and influenced some of the biggest names in country music, including Tammy Wynette and Dolly Parton. They’ve both acknowledged the influence that Skeeter Davis had on their careers. Ironically, though, Skeeter Davis was very nearly lost to country music.

If that had been the case, then Skeeter Davis would never have enjoyed thirteen top thirty US Country hits between 1957 and 1963. This included Skeeter Davis’ 1962 million selling single The End Of The World and was certified gold. It was Skeeter’s first crossover single, and was followed by I Can’t Stay Mad At You in 1963. This rounded off a successful year. 

As 1963 gave way to 1964, Skeeter Davis wondered how she would surpass what had been one of the most successful years of her career? She returned with one of the finest albums of her career, Let Me Get Close To You, which was recently rereleased by Playback Records. However, by the time Skeeter Davis released Let Me Get Close To You much had happened to the thirty-three year old star.

The Skeeter Davis story began in Dry Ridge, Kentucky on ‘30th’ December 1931, when Mary Frances Penick was born. Growing up, young Mary was an energetic child, prompting her grandfather to nickname her Skeeter. This stuck, and suddenly Mary became Skeeter. This was the name she would use when her solo career began.

Before that, Skeeter met Betty Jack Davis at the Dixie Heights High School, and the two became firm friends. The pair sang together in high school, and at the Decoursey Baptist Church. Later, the formed a duet The Davis Sister, which launched Skeeter’s career.

In 1951, The Davis Sisters were asked to travel to Detroit, to sing on WJR’s program Barnyard Frolics. This was the break that The Davis Sisters were looking for. Things got even better for The Davis Sisters when  they were signed to RCA Victor later in 1951. 

Although signed to RCA Victor, The Davis Sisters spent time acting as backing singers for The Lonesome Pine Fiddlers. They saw the potential in The Davis Sisters, and in 1953, encouraged them to get in touch with Stephen H. Sholes a producer at RCA Victor.

When Stephen H. Sholes heard The Davis Sisters harmonies, he offered them a recording contract. This they accepted and on May ’23rd’ 1953 The Davis Sisters entered the studio and recorded five songs, including I Forgot More Than You’ll Ever Know. It was released as The Davis Sisters’ first single the summer of 1953, and reached the top twenty in the US Billboard 100 and spent eight weeks number one on the US Country charts. Many industry insiders thought that this was the start of the rise and rise of The Davis Sisters.

Sadly, tragedy struck on August ‘1st’ 1953, when The Davis Sisters were involved in a terrible automobile accident. Betty Jack Davis died in the accident and Skeeter Davis sustained serious injuries. 

Despite still recovering from her injuries, Skeeter was had been traumatized by the accident, was told by Betty Jack Davis’ overbearing mother that The Davis Sisters should continue. This was the last thing on Skeeter’s mind. She had lost her best friend, and suffered from serious injuries. However, Mrs Davis wasn’t going to be dissuaded, and told Skeeter that her other daughter Georgia Jack was now her partner in The Davis Sisters. Skeeter felt she was being manipulated, but had nobody to turn to. Both her parents were then drinking heavily, and reluctantly, Skeeter agreed that The Davis Sisters should continue.

The Davis Sisters continued for three more years, and even spent time touring with a young Elvis Presley. However, The Davis Sisters never came close to replicating the success of I Forgot More Than You’ll Ever Know. 

By 1956, Skeeter who was then twenty-five, made two announcements. Not only was she getting married, but she had decided to retire from music. It looked like Skeeter’s career was over.

Just over a years later, Skeeter decided to make a comeback, and returned to country music in 1957. This time, it wasn’t as one half of The Davis Sisters, but as a solo artist. Skeeter started off touring with Ernest Tubb, and later in 1957, started working with guitarist and producer Chet Atkins.

In September 1957, Skeeter recorded what would become her debut solo single, Lost to a Geisha Girl. When it was released in December 1957, it reached number fifteen on the US Country charts, and launched Skeeter’s solo career. Little did anyone realise that this was the start of the rise and rise of one of the most successful female country singers.

Just two years after her comeback, Skeeter cowrote Set Him Free, which was released as a single in February 1959. It reached number five in US Country charts, and was later nominated for a Grammy Award. Five months later, in July 1959, Skeeter released Homebreaker as a single, which reached fifteen in the US Country charts. Skeeter then released her debut album I’ll Sing You A Song and Harmonize Too in November 1959. This rounded off one of the most successful years of Skeeter’s career. She enjoyed two singles, released her debut album and joined the Grand Ole Opry. Skeeter’s star was in the ascendancy.

Skeeter’s success continued in 1960, when she enjoyed a trio of hit singles. Her poignant reading of Am I That Easy To Forget reached number eleven in the US Country charts. Then when (I Can’t Help You) I’m Falling Too was released in July 1960, it reached number two in the US Country charts and thirty-nine on the US Billboard 100. This was Skeeter’s first crossover hit and the fourth hit single of her career. Soon, four became five when My Last Date (With You) was released in December 1960, and reached number four in the US Country charts, but twenty-six on the US Billboard 100. This was the perfect way to close the most successful year of Skeeter’s career.

As 1961 dawned, Skeeter released her sophomore album Here’s The Answer in January. It featured cover versions of hit singles by country artists, with Skeeter singing the answer songs. She breathed life, meaning and emotion into the songs, which showcased her ability to interpret a song. So did the two hit singles she released during 1961. When The Hands You’re Holding Now was released in March 1961, it reached number eleven in the US Country charts. The followup was Optimistic, which was released in September 1961, and reached number ten in the US Country charts. Skeeter’s partnership with Chet Atkins was proving fruitful.

The Chet Atkins and Skeeter Davis partnership were responsible for another trio of hits during 1962. Where I Ought To Be was released in January 1962, and reached number nine in the US Country charts. The followup The Little Music Box stalled at just twenty-two, before Skeeter returned with the biggest and most important hit of her solo career.

This was The End Of The World, which would introduce Skeeter Davis to a much wider audience. The End Of The World was a maudlin song that dealt with loss. Many people who weren’t fans of country music normally wouldn’t have listened to a heartbreaking song about loss that was delivered with honesty and emotion. However, the way Chet Atkins and Skeeter recorded the song was a game-changer. They added swathes of lush strings which defused the maudlin nature of the song, and complemented Skeeter’s soul-baring vocal. The result was a country song that would find a much wider audience. It also features on Let Me Get Close To You and is a reminder of one of Skeeter’s classic songs.

The End Of The World was an example of the new countrypolitan sound, which combined country with pop stylings. It introduced Skeeter to a much wider audience. Not only did The End Of The World reach number two in the US Country charts and US Billboard 100, it topped the Adult Contemporary charts and reached number four in the US R&B charts. Skeeter had crossed over and found a new audience within pop and R&B audiences. However, this resulted in cries of sellout from some of her loyal country fans. Despite this,  this was it seemed that Skeeter Davis could do wrong.

Buoyed by the success of The End Of The World, Skeeter released her third album in March 1963, Skeeter Davis Sings The End Of The World. It was followed by I’m Saving My Love, which was released in April 1963, and is one of the bonus tracks on Let Me Get Close To You. When it was released I’m Saving My Love was released it reached number nine on the US Country charts and forty-one in the US Billboard 100. This was followed by a cover of Goffin and King’s I Can’t Stay Mad at You, which gave Skeeter a crossover hit when it was released in August 1963. It reached fourteen on the US Country charts, seven on the US Billboard 100 and two in the Adult Contemporary charts. Just two months later, Skeeter released her fourth album Cloudy, With Occasional Tears which reached eleven in the US Country charts. Skeeter Davis’ success continued apace.

In January 1964, Skeeter released a cover of Peter Udell’s wistful country ballad He Says The Same Things To Me. It reached seventeen in the US Country charts and forty-seven in the US Billboard. Tucked away on the B-Side was How Much Can A Lonely Heart Stand which is one of the Gonna Get Along Without You Now. It’s a real hidden gem, marries the countrypolitan sound with the girl group sound that was popular in 1964. This was something that Skeeter would return to.

 Two months later, in March 1964, Skeeter released carefree poppy cover of Milton Kellum’s Gonna Get Along Without You Now. It reached number eight on the US Country charts, and surprisingly, given its radio friendly sound reached just forty-eight on the US Billboard 100. On the B-Side was the tender, hurt-filled cover of Now You’re Gone, which is another of the bonus tracks on Let Me Get Close To You.

After the success of Gonna Get Along Without You Now, Skeeter decided to cover Goffin and King’s Let Me Get Close To You for her next single. It was another commercial sounding single with crossover appeal. Hidden away on the B-Side was a hurt-filled version of The Face Of A Clown which is another of the bonus tracks on Let Me Get Close To You. When Let Me Get Close To You was released, many industry insiders thought that it would follow in the footsteps of Gonna Get Along Without You Now. Alas, the single stalled at forty-five on the US Country charts when it was released in July 1964. For Skeeter this was a disappointment.

Despite this disappointment, Skeeter returned with a cover of a rueful and melancholy cover of What Am I Gonna Do With You. An upbeat and breezy cover of Don’t Let Me Stand In Your Way was chosen for the B-Side. Despite the quality of both sides, (which feature on Let Me Get Close To You) What Am I Gonna Do With You reached just thirty-eight in autumn 1964. This was especially disappointing for Skeeter who was about to release her fifth album Let Me Get Close To You in December 1964.

For Let Me Get Close To You, twelve tracks that had been recorded been June 1962 and June 1964 were chosen. Some of these songs were familiar, and already had been releases as singles including  Gonna Get Along Without You Now, I Can’t Stay Mad at You,  Let Me Get Close to You and He Says The Same Things To Me. They were joined by eight other songs that had been recorded during sessions that took place between June 1962 and June 1964.

Of the eight ‘new’ songs, this included the beautiful, orchestrated, hurt-filled ballad Now I Lay Me Down To Weep which Skeeter wrote with Carolyn Penick. It’s followed by a cover of Dottie and Bill West’s Didn’t I, where Skeeter delivers a melancholy and rueful vocal where sadness and despair shine through. Skeeter’s cover of J O Duncan’s My Sweet Loving Man is upbeat, poppy and irresistibly catchy, and more than hints at the girl group sound that was popular when the song was recorded. Then Borney Bergantine and Better Patterson’s My Happiness sounds as if was tailor-made for Skeeter. Especially with lush strings accompanying her hurt-filled vocal.  However, this is just part of the story.

The tempo drops on a cover of Johnny Tillotson and Lucille Cosenza’s Another You. It’s another tale of love lost, where flourishes of strings augment Skeeter’s vocal as elements of the countrypolitan and girl group sound combined successfully to create a beautiful ballad. Skeeter’s cover of Nancie Mantz and Keith Colley’s Ladder Of Success is another song that has been inspired by the girl group sound. Although very different to Skeeter’s early recordings, it shows a different side to a versatile and talented singer. When Skeeter covers Betty Sue Perry’s ballad Ask Me it’s understated and nuanced, with just a Spanish guitar, strings and harmonies accompanying her. Closing the album is another Goffin and King number Easy To Love, So Hard To Get, which has a slick, commercial and radio friendly sound. Skeeter it seemed had kept one of her finest moments until last on Let Me Get Close To You.

Before the release of Let Me Get Close To You, critics had their say on the album. It received plaudits and praise as Skeeter Davis switched between and combined elements of different musical genres on the twelve songs. Elements of country, countrypolitan, the girl group sound and pop can be heard on Let Me Get Close To You, where Skeeter moves seamlessly from ballads to uptempo songs. This augured well for the release of Let Me Get Close To You.

When Let Me Get Close To You was released in December 1964, the album sold reasonably well, and to some extent, introduced Skeeter Davis’ to a new audience. The success that she had been enjoying since her comeback looked as if it was going to continue. Especially after the success of the last five years, which cumulated with the release of Let Me Get Close To You.

It’s one of the finest albums Skeeter Davis released during the sixties. By 1964, the countrypolitan sound was growing in popularity, and Skeeter was one of its finest purveyors. This introduced her music to a much wider audience, and suddenly, her music had been discovered by pop and R&B fans.  Right up until late 1964, Skeeter Davis was one of the most successful country singers. She had enjoyed fifteen top thirty US Country singles, fourteen of which reached the top twenty and eight reached the top ten. There was also the small matter of her million selling single The End Of The World. However, nothing lasts forever.

Even by the second half of 1964, Skeeter’s singles were no longer reaching the upper reaches of the charts. Although Skeeter was just thirty-three, her singles would never reach the same heights. However, her recording career continued until the late-eighties. However, her last album to chart was 1973s I Can’t Believe That It’s All Over. Sadly, it was all over for Skeeter Davis as far as chart success was concerned. 

She continued to play live right up until her death on September ’19th’ 2004, aged just seventy-three. That day, country music lost not just a legend, but a musical pioneer, who had played her part in changing country music history. Not only did Skeeter Davis pioneering the countrypolitan sound, but paved the way for several generations of female country singers to embark on solo career. They owe a debt of gratitude to the late, great Skeeter Davis whose 1964 critically acclaimed fifth album The End Of The World is a reminder of a country music pioneer at the peak of her powers.

Cult Classic: Skeeter Davis-Let Me Get Close To You.

SIDIKU BUARI-DISCO SOCCER.

Sidiku Buari-Disco Soccer.

Label: BBE Africa.

Release Date: ‘18th’ October 2019. 

There are very few people who manage to forge a career in both sport and music, but Ghanian born Sidiku Buari managed to do just this. He was a silver medallist in the 400 metres at the 1963 All-Africa Games held in Dakar, Senegal. Two years later, in 1965, Sidiku Buari was a member of the 4×400 relay team at the All-Africa Games in Brazzaville, when the Republic Of Congo won a bronze medal. 

A year after his second appearance at the All-African Games, Sidiku Buari emigrated to America in 1966, and studied music at the New York School of Music. After that, Sidiku Buari studied interior design at the La Sale University in Chicago, Illinois. By then, Sidiku Buari’s musical career was underway, but his love of sport saw him playing baseball to a reasonable standard during his three decade stay in the United States. However, while Sidiku Buari was a talented and successful athlete, he enjoyed more success as a musician.

Sidiku Buari was a prolific artist, arranger, composer and producer who during his long and  illustrious career, released in excess of twenty-five albums. 

He released his debut album Buari, on RCA in 1975. It  featured legendary jazz drummer Bernard ‘Pretty’ Purdie who plays a starring role on this über rare  fusion of Afrobeat, disco, funk and soul. Buari was a genre-melting album launched the career of this truly innovative artist who successfully fused African and Western music. 

This was the case four years later in 1979, when Sidiku Buari released his sophomore album Disco Soccer.  It will be reissued by BBE Africa on the ‘18th’ October 2019 on CD and vinyl. Forty years after its release, Disco Soccer receives its first official reissue. This is a welcome reissue of a  cult classic that features an all-star cast.

When Sidiku Buari was recording the eleven tracks that became Disco Soccer, he was joined by what was the creme de la creme of session musicians. This included two of the go-to horn players, The Brecker Brothers, saxophonist Michael and trumpeter Randy. They were joined by trumpeter Jon Faddis, saxophonist George Young, trombonist Barry Rogers while Christine Snyder and Valerie West played French horn. The string section featured violinists Danny Reed , Lucy Corwin, Paul Scales, Bob Rozek and  Stan Curtis plus cellist John Reed. Completing the lineup was percussionist Errol ‘Crusher’ Bennett. Together this multitalented band  combined the music heard in Accra and New York in 1979.

 Disco Soccer was released on Polydor later in 1979, and just like Sidiku Buari’s debut four years earlier, combined a myriad of disparate musical genres. The Ghanian bandleader and multi-instrumentalist backed by his all-star band, fused elements of Afrobeat, late-seventies disco, boogie, funk and soul. This was combined from the opening bars of Koko Si right through to the closing notes of  Games We Used  To Play. For forty-three majestic minutes the music veers between  slick and sharp to soulful, funky and dancefloor friendly as Disco Soccer heads in the direction of  traditional Ghanian music. 

This is Ghanian music with a difference. Listen carefully, and the sound of Southern Soul, and especially the Stax can be heard. There’s also a Motown influence on Disco Soccer as African and Western music combine to create irresistible genre-melting music.

It’s a captivating combination where one minute, the listener is enjoying what could  be the soundtrack to an evening in Studio 54, in New York,  before being transported to the Ghanian capital as they hear they other side to this cult classic, Disco Soccer. It’s an album that wasn’t a huge success upon its release, and it was only much later that it was discovered by  a wider and appreciative audience. They also discovered the album’s secret.

This was what Sidiku Buari called the Disco Soccer dance. It was: “a brand new dance-also called  The Spirit Of Sports Dance. The most important part of this dance is the footwork of the steps. Just Remember, the “Soccer ball” is the drum beat of every disco beat, as well as this new dance-so, follow the drum beat and you will find it easy to dance. Hand swinging, head shaking, body moving, slightly kicking, jumping and stepping is a part of this dance.”

Given the irresistible, genre-melting music on Sidiku Buari’s sophomore album Disco Soccer, even those lacking in coordination will soon be moving and grooving and enjoying The Spirit Of Sports Dance, and recreating the spirit of 1979, when this oft-overlooked cult classic was originally released.  

Sidiku Buari-Disco Soccer.

CULT CLASSIC: SUE BARKER-SUE BARKER.

Cult Classic: Sue Barker-Sue Barker.

Forty years ago, in 1977, Adelaide-based singer Sue Barker released what’s without doubt, one of the greatest soul-jazz albums in the history of Australian music. That album was Sue Barker, which was released on Marcus Herman’s label Crest International. The release of Sue Barker should’ve been the start of a long and glittering career. Sadly, that wasn’t the case, and nine years later, Sue Barker turned her back on music in 1986. However, Since then, her one and only album Sue Barker is regarded as an Australian soul-jazz classic.

The Sue Barker story began in Sydney, when she started singing along with Guy Mitchell songs when was just two. Little did her parents realise that this would be the start of a lifelong love affair with music. 

By the time she was in primary school, Sue Barker was a regular in the school choir. When she was nine, Sue Barker decided to join a local church choir so she could join their choir. However, by then, Sue Barker was already taking an interest in spiritual matters.

In the local church, Sue Barker joined the choir and started taking trying to understand and explore the meaning of life.  This was something that was a lifelong commitment and something that at time, would offer solace to Sue Barker in time of trouble.

When Sue Barker completed primary school, her family decided to move back to Adelaide. When she returned to Adelaide, Sue Barker was initially at a loss. That was until her uncle found her a suitable church. Soon, she was playing an active role in and a church member. It was at that church, where Sue Barker’s potential was first discovered.

A church member spotted Sue Barker’s potential, and offered to give her free singing lessons. Not long after this, Sue’s father sent his daughter to the prestigious Adelaide College Of Music for extra tuition. 

Attending Adelaide College Of Music was an eye-opener for Sue Barker, and she blossomed. She was introduced to classical music by her tutors in her early teens. By then, Sue had discovered The Beatles and other Liverpool based singers and bands. This lead to Sue looking for a band needing a singer.

Each day, Sue Barker looked through the small adverts in the local papers, looking for a suitable band. One day, she found a band without a singer, and decided to audition for The Cumberlands.  This lead to Sue’s first gig, where she joined The Cumberlands on-stage for one song. That song marked the start of Sue’s career. Already, she knew that she wanted to embark on a career as a singer.

Not long after her first gig with The Cumberlands, she embarked upon a short tour of south Australian towns. This was good experience for Sue Barker. So was singing in a television talent contest, where she was the runner-up. Her appearance on the talent contest lead to further television appearances. All this was good experience for her future career.

This included when Sue Barker joined her first band. By then, her parents had returned to Sydney, and seventeen year old Sue Barker had remained in Adelaide. That was where she heard a band rehearsing on a Sunday afternoon. Upon hearing the music, Sue decided to investigate. Having made her way up the stairs, Sue asked if she could sing with the band. They agreed, and before long, Sue and the guitarist began a relationship.

Two days after her eighteenth birthday, Sue Barker and the guitarist were married. Within a year, Sue’s first child was born. She stayed at home whilst her husband played with the band. By the time Sue was twenty, she had moved to Sydney and was the mother of two children. Motherhood rather than music was what kept Sue busy. However, she missed music, and decided to return to Adelaide, so did Sue.

Back in Adelaide, Sue, her husband and two children were living close to her parents. With a support network around her, Sue Barker and her husband started putting a band together. They were helped by a booking agent, who hit on the idea of making Sue the focus of the band. This didn’t go down well with her husband, who was in Sue’s shadow. However, this was just the start of Sue Barker’s comeback.

Before long, Sue Barker was being asked to sing with some of Adelaide’s established bands. That was when Sue Barker started to take on a new stage persona, that she had modelled on Janis Joplin. She had it off pat, right down to some serious on-stage drinking. By then, Sue was rubbing shoulders with top musicians, and her star was in the ascendancy. There was even talk of international record deals. Sue Barker was one of Australia’s musical rising stars.

Not long after this, Sue Barker met her future backing band, The Onions. By then, Sue Barker was constantly busy playing live, doing session work and even testing recording equipment at various local recording studios. That wasn’t all.

Sue Barker also decided to hire an old ballroom, where she would put on her own gigs. She would charge $2 to get in, and patrons would watch local musicians jamming after they had finished in the studio. While the nights became extremely popular, but it became clear they weren’t going to make Sue rich. However, it was one of these gigs where Sue Barker was discovered.

After one of the gigs, Sue Barker was approached her and asked if she had ever thought of recording an album? By then, there were a few recording of Sue and her band testing new equipment at the various local studios. However, they hadn’t recorded any singles, never mind an album. Sue gave the stranger who was from Melbourne, one of her recordings, and never expected to hear anything.

She was wrong. One of the tapes ended up in the hands of Marcus Herman who ran the label Crest International. When he heard the recording he was impressed by Sue Barker’s feel, understanding and command of jazz, which was way beyond her years. Marcus Herman realised that Sue Barker was a special talent, and contacted her and asked if she would like to travel to Melbourne to discuss business.

When Sue Barker set out on her journey to Melbourne, to discuss her future with Marcus Herman, she wasn’t alone. She took along her two children and one of her musician friends, Graham Conlon. When they arrived in Melbourne, Sue Barker went to the meeting with Marcus Herman. 

He offered Sue Barker a three album deal, and after some discussion, she put the pen to paper. Later, Sue, like many singers and musicians claims she was naive when she signed the contract. For Sue it was never about money, and was always about the music. She just wanted to release an album that featured her own music. Having signed a three album deal in March 1976, Sue Barker began work on her debut album.

After signing the contact, Sue Barker discovered that the contract only covered her, and not her backing band The Onions. This must have been a disappointment for the band, but reluctantly, they agreed to play on Sue Barker’s eponymous debut album. The Onions weren’t on points, but instead, would be paid as session musicians when recording began.

Before that, Sue Barker started choosing songs for her debut album. She eventually, settled on the songs that would feature on the album. Or so she hoped. The songs were sent to Marcus Herman, who had to give his final approval. It wasn’t easy for Sue to get her choice of songs approved, but eventually, the ten songs that became Sue Barker were approved.

This included Eddie Holland, Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier’s How Sweet It Is, Gus Kahn and Nacio Herb Brown’s You Stepped Out Of A Dream, Duke Ellington and Sidney Keith Russell’s Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me, Curtis Mayfield’s Love To The People and Eddie Brigati and Felix Cavaliere’s Groovin’ featured on side one. Barrett Strong and Norman Whitfield’s I Heard It Through The Grapevine joined Eddie Floyd and Steve Cropper’s 6345789, Jimmy Davis, Jimmy Sherman and Roger Ramirez’s Lover Man, Al Cleveland, Marvin Gaye and Renaldo Benson’s What Goin’ On and Aretha Franklin and Ted White’s Think made-up side two of Sue Barker. It was recorded in Adelaide with The Onions.

Before the recording sessions began, Graham Conlon arranged the songs that Sue Barker had chosen. Some were given a makeover, to ensure that they would suit Sue Barker, who discovered she had only three days to record the album.

Marcus Herman was covering the costs of the recording sessions, and was only willing to pay for three days at Pepper Studios, in Adelaide. This was going to be cutting it tight, but Marcus Herman adamant that Sue should be able to record the album in just three days.

Sue Barker entered the studio with The Onions in a cold day in July 1976. The Onions lineup featured a rhythm section of drummer Dean Birbeck, bassist Geoff Kluke, guitarist Graham Conlon and keyboardist Phil Cunneen. They were augmented by a horn section that featured trumpeter Fred Payne and saxophonists Bob Jeffrey and Sylvan Elhay. They accompanied Sue Barker as she laid down her eponymous debut album. 

Sue Barker opens with a soulful, horn led rendition of How Sweet It Is that sounds as if it was recorded in Memphis, not Adelaide. Then Sue Barker unleashes an impassioned vocal powerhouse, before delivering a beautiful jazz-tinged version You Stepped Out Of A Dream. This gives way to a late-night, smokey sounding take on the jazz classic Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me. Love To The People featured Sue at her most soulful, as she breaths life, meaning and emotion into the lyrics. Then Groovin’ is given a jazzy makeover, with subtle horns accompanying Sue’s dreamy, heartfelt vocal as she reinvents a pop classic which closed side one of the original album.

I Heard It Through The Grapevine opened side two, and features a powerful, sassy and soulful vocal from Sue Barker. Equally sassy and sensual is 6354789, where Sue combines elements of soul and jazz as she reinvents the song and takes it in a new direction. The tempo drops on the piano led, soul-baring ballad Lover Man, as Sue delivers a beautiful, emotive reading of this of-covered song. Some songs are perfectly suited to a singer, and that is the case with What’s Goin’ On. Sue brings to life the powerful lyrics during this impassioned and poignant soul-jazz cover of a classic. Closing the album is Think, whiz is one of the album’s highlights. It features what can only be described as a vocal masterclass from Sue Barker, that closes this soul-jazz classic.

Somehow, Sue Barker and The Onions managed to complete the album in the three days that Marcus Herman had paid for. This left just the album to mixed and mastered. However, before that, Sue was in for a surprise.

Not longer after recording Sue Barker, Sue discovered that she was pregnant and expecting her third child. While Sue continued to play live, she knew that motherhood beckoned. Meanwhile, Sue was experiencing a spiritual awakening.

This was partly inspired by the birth of her third child. Soon, after the birth, Sue Barker’s thoughts turned to spirituality. Meanwhile, Crest Records were preparing for the release of Sue Barker.

The marketing manager, Donald Fraser, sent out press releases to the press, magazines, radio and television. He was determined that Sue Barker had every chance of being a success. It didn’t matter that the album would be Crest’s final release. He saw the potential in Sue Barker. 

So did Channel 9, who booked Sue Barker to appear on the Tonight Show. This was a huge break for Sue Barker, who unfortunately, she had to cancel the appearance. Despite that, Sue Barker’s concert at the Dallas Brook Hall in Melbourne was a sell-out. When the reviews were published, Sue Barker received praise and plaudits from critics and cultural commentators. The album Sue Barker, had also sold well at the concert at the Dallas Brook Hall. Things were looking good for Sue Barker.

After the success of the Dallas Brook Hall concert, Crest began planning a promotional tour to coincide with the release of Sue Barker. However, Sue’s priority was her new daughter, which frustrated Marcus Herman at Crest Records. Their relationship became difficult, and Sue Barker prioritized motherhood over the release of her eponymous debut album on Crest International. While this was admirable, it would prove costly.

When Sue Barker was released by Crest International, the album received praise, plaudits and critical acclaim. However, Sue Barker received little promotion, which was frustrating for everyone at Crest International who had worked hard on the release. They realised that Sue Barker was on the verge of a breakthrough, and have and if she had promoted the album it’s very likely that it would’ve sold well and introduced her to a much wider, and possibly, international audience. However, Sue Barker’s decision not to promote the album resulted in poor album sales.

Very few copies of Sue Barker sold, and Sue Barker’s relationship with Marcus Herman at Crest Records broke down completely. As a result, Sue Barker never made any money from her future Australian soul-jazz classic. After the release of Sue Barker, eventually, the Adelaide-based singer returned to the local circuit.

This time, Sue Barker wasn’t going to spend all her time playing live. While she continued to sing in local venues Sue didn’t mind if weeks or months passed without a gig. Sue who was a free spirit at heart, did things her way. Sometimes, when gigs dried up, promoted concerts. Sue Barker wasn’t the type of person to wait for opportunities to arise. Instead, she would go out and make things happen. As long as these promotions covered their costs, Sue was happy. It had never been about the music for Sue Barker.

Not long after this, came the news that Crest International had folded. Sue Barker had still owed the label two albums when it folded. When Crest International folded, Sue Barker realised that gone was her chance of releasing any more albums. However, given how fraught relationship with Marcus Herman was latterly, the likelihood of Sue Barker releasing two more albums seemed unlikely. Now the dream of releasing any more albums was over.

Following the demise of Crest International, Sue Barker spent a year teaching music at the Centre For Aboriginal Studies In Music. Her time spent teaching the Centre For Aboriginal Studies In Music resulted in Sue becoming interested in reggae. Her interest in reggae inspired a further spiritual awakening. However, as her spirituality began to blossom, Sue’s newfound faith was severely tested. 

Tragedy struck when Sue Barker was out walking down the street with her fifth child. A car mounted the pavement, and struck her daughter, who was so seriously injured that she spent three months in hospital. During that time, Sue started to ask herself some of life’s big questions. Her search for the meaning of life, would prove to an ongoing spiritual quest. 

Once her daughter had recovered, Sue Barker continued to pursue her interest in reggae music. She even decided to form a reggae band, which disappointed some of those who had followed Sue’s career as a jazz singer. Some of the musicians in Sue’s band were disappointed with this volte-face and left her employ. 

As a result, Sue Barker had to put together a new group of musicians. They would accompany Sue who had been booked to play at the Adelaide Jazz Club. When the patrons at the Adelaide Jazz Club heard about Sue’s Damascene conversion to reggae, they were unsure about this. However, Sue decided to continue down this new road.

Sue Barker’s career continued until 1986, when sadly, tragedy struck again. Eight months after the birth of her fifth child, her eldest child died on a Thursday. Despite this tragedy, Sue decided to sing at a gig she had been booked to play two nights later on the Saturday evening. That night, Sue says that when she sang: “she felt closer to God than I had ever before.” As Sue watched the patrons party that night, she realised that this was the end of road for her.

After a lifetime spent in and around the music industry, after the gig Sue Barker called time on her career. She suddenly felt that the entire music business was a “sham,” and didn’t want to be part of it anymore. 

When she had recorded her soul-jazz classic Sue Barker, she never received any payment. Ironically, The Onions who had originally been disappointed not to be included in the recording contract with Marcus Herman’s label Crest International, were paid as session musicians and made more out of Sue Barker than the star of the show did. It was no wonder that Sue Barker regarded the music industry as a sham. 

Nowadays, her one and only album Sue Barker, is regarded as a soul-jazz classic, and copies of the album are now extremely rare. When they do change hands, it’s for hundreds of Dollars. That comes as no surprise, given the quality of music on Sue Barker. It features one of music’s best kept secrets, Sue Barker, who if things had been different, would’ve gone to enjoy a long and successful career. Sadly, Lady Luck didn’t smile on Sue Barker and it was a case of what might have been.

Sue Barker only released one album during a career that spanned three decades. Her career began in the late-sixties, and it wasn’t until 1977 that Sue Barker was released on Crest International. By then, Sue Barker looked destined for greatness. However, when Sue Barker was released, her third child had just been born. Sue was reluctant to leave the child to embark upon a promotion tour. Her failure to tour Sue Barker was a costly one, and the album was commercial failure. 

Whether Sue Barker ever regrets this decision is unknown? Marcus Herman who owned Crest International certainly regretted Sue’s failure to tour her album. It resulted in the breakdown in their business relationship, and not long after this, Crest International folded. That marked the end of Sue Barker’s recording career.

She may have only recorded one album, but Sue Barker is a soul-jazz classic that definitely deserves to find a much wider audience. This long-lost soul-jazz classic should’ve transformed the career of Australian songstress Sue Barker, who sadly remained one of music’s best kept secrets.

Cult Classic: Sue Barker-Sue Barker.