Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!!!!

One more year is gone, and more to come yes!!! Thanks to Bertrand (the MFP), B. (thanks your kindnes for sharing), Mauro Felipe, Adriana , Psegpp, Vasily, Gkapageridis, Bill (24hrDejaVu), Bob (bamabob), Lawrence David, João (La Réunion), Roldo, Chuntao (RareMP3), Entremimente, Las Marias , Marcelo, Lágrima Psycadelica, Mr. JJ, Baby GrandPa, Justin Thyme, Jason, Frank, Bill Jollyherb, Chico ,Steve, Zapata, Caixo, Carioca Brasil, OldRockerBr, and so many more, and all this blog followers,....thanks for sharing life around!!! Happy New Year 2012!

Canned Heat - Canned Heat '70 Concert Recorded Live In Europe 1970

This title captures Canned Heat during a pivotal era in the band's sordid career. The lineup features Bob "The Bear" Hite (vocals), Alan "Blind Owl" Wilson (guitar/vocals/harmonica), Larry "The Mole" Taylor (bass), Aldolfo "Fito" de la Parra (drums), as well as Harvey Mandel (guitar), who had replaced Henry "Sunflower" Vestine (guitar) before the Heat's appearance at the Woodstock Music and Arts Fair in August of 1969. Perhaps more importantly, these are among the last live recordings with Wilson, who would O.D. just prior to the group's return to Europe in the fall of 1970. The unsuspected success of Wilbert Harrison's "Let's Work Together" from the Future Blues (1970) long-player prompted Canned Heat to take their blend of R&B-infused boogie across the Atlantic in the spring of 1970. With Mandel handling a fair share of the guitar work, the combo's focus has turned increasingly improvisational. The tight and compact reworking of vintage R&B numbers have given way to extended jammed-out arrangements, such as the funky and limber mid-tempo rendering of "That's All Right Mama." Wilson's harp blowing punctuates the steady chuggin' cover of Willie Dixon's "Bring It on Home," which smoulders beneath Hite's growling lead. Speaking of Hite, the frontman is in rare form as he retorts an audience suggestion for "Dust My Broom" with "oh man, Fleetwood Mac does that..." and a request for the 20-plus-minute "Parthenogenesis," immediately barking back "Oh yeah...(laughs) ya got any acid?" The antithesis of this joviality is the dark and strung-out "Pulling Hair Blues," which showcases a stark and emotionally fragile side of Wilson. "London Blues" seems to be a spontaneous jam led by Wilson's unmistakable bottleneck slide guitar introduction and distinctly atonal vocals. Besting the aforementioned studio version of "Let's Work Together" is the spirited rendering heard here, which is greeted with appropriate enthusiasm. AMG.

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Jeremy Steig - Fusion 1970

Fusion pairs the entirety of Jeremy Steig's landmark 1971 Capitol release Energy alongside unreleased material from the same sessions. Energy is a miracle of alchemy -- Jeremy Steig transforms his flute from the ethereal to the elemental, forging a heavy, deeply funky jazz-rock record that defies gravity. Paired with keyboardist Jan Hammer, bassists Gene Perla and Eddie Gomez, and drummer Don Alias, Steig creates Technicolor grooves that float like butterflies and sting like bees. His music doesn't so much fuse jazz and rock as it approaches each side from the perspective of the other, exploring their respective concepts and executions to arrive at a sound all its own. If anything, the tonal restrictions of Steig's chosen instrument push him even farther into the unknown, employing a series of acoustic and electronic innovations to expand the flute's possibilities seemingly into the infinite. While some of the unissued content here is no less astounding, as a whole Fusion feels like too much of a good thing; one can't help but miss the focus and shape of Energy in its original incarnation. AMG.

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Humble Pie - Performance, Rockin the Fillmore 1971

Recorded while Peter Frampton was still in the band, Performance: Rockin' the Fillmore captures an early performance by Humble Pie where Steve Marriot's lyricism and ideas where balanced by Frampton's searing lead guitar. This is hardly as engaging as As Safe Yesterday Is, which had studiocraft along with songcraft, but as a document of a band at a pivotal point in their existence, this is valuable and at times insightful. AMG.

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Oliver Nelson - The Blues And The Abstract Truth 1961

As Oliver Nelson is known primarily as a big band leader and arranger, he is lesser known as a saxophonist and organizer of small ensembles. Blues and the Abstract Truth is his triumph as a musician for the aspects of not only defining the sound of an era with his all-time classic "Stolen Moments," but on this recording, assembling one of the most potent modern jazz sextets ever. Lead trumpeter Freddie Hubbard is at his peak of performance, while alto saxophonists Nelson and Eric Dolphy (Nelson doubling on tenor) team to form an unlikely union that was simmered to perfection. Bill Evans (piano), Paul Chambers (bass), and Roy Haynes (drums) can do no wrong as a rhythm section. "Stolen Moments" really needs no comments, as its undisputable beauty shines through in a three-part horn harmony fronting Hubbard's lead melody. It's a thing of beauty that is more timeless as the years pass. The "Blues" aspect is best heard on "Yearnin'," a stylish, swinging, and swaying downhearted piece that is a bluesy as Evans would ever be. Both "Blues" and "Abstract Truth" combine for the darker "Teenie's Blues," a feature for Nelson and Dolphy's alto saxes, Dolphy assertive in stepping forth with his distinctive, angular, dramatic, fractured, brittle voice that marks him a maverick. Then there's "Hoedown," which has always been the black sheep of this collection with its country flavor and stereo separated upper and lower horn in snappy call-and-response barking. As surging and searing hard boppers respectively, "Cascades" and "Butch & Butch" again remind you of the era of the early '60s when this music was king, and why Hubbard was so revered as a young master of the idiom. This CD is a must buy for all jazz collectors, and a Top Ten-Fifty favorite for many. AMG.

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Quincy Jones - Q Live in Paris Circa 1960

In late 1959, 26-year-old trumpeter/arranger Quincy Jones was engaged to conduct a jazz band for a musical called Free and Easy, the songs for which were written by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer. The unusual intention was to tour Europe before coming to Broadway, but the show never finished its engagement in Paris, closing down amid recriminations and stranding the cast and the orchestra. Though Arlen's biographer, Edward Jablonski, states that only Jones came out of the situation well, touring Europe successfully with the band, Jones remembers things differently, calling the experience one that brought him closer to contemplating suicide than any other. Eventually, Jones was forced to disband the group, but he first fulfilled the show's engagement at the Alhambra Theatre, and this album, originally issued as a bootleg disc, was recorded at the final performance. This is not the music from the abortive musical, but rather a set of Jones originals and jazz standards. The band, which features such notable figures as Clark Terry and Phil Woods, is accomplished, and the music is performed in the mold of the Ellington and Basie bands, albeit with the flair that Jones was even then showing as an arranger. This is not really the historic find Jones seems to think it is, but it isn't a vanity release either. It's a curio, with some fine blowing from a band that often seems directionless. AMG.

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Candido's Latin McGuffa's Dust - Brujerias de Candido 1971

Candido's first album for Tico is a pure triumph. Fortunately, there's only one crossover cover ("Shadow of Your Smile"), and once that's safely programmed out (or left in as a break), listeners are left with ten tracks of impossibly dense features for Candido, each of which proves how apt his "Thousand Finger Man" title was. The studio band is mid-size, punchy, and energetic enough to prove a foil for Candido's conga, but never overly focused on themselves. Nearly every song features plenty of solo space, and the man finds great things to say even on hoary old chestnuts like "Almendra" or "El Manicero" (aka "The Peanut Vendor"). The opener, "Here Comes Candi," and the side-one closer, "Take More Candi," are two of the most frenetic arrangements Candido's ever been a part of, and they're just two songs on a joyous, celebrative album. Vocalist Gran Alfonso joins the festivities for great features on "Negrito" and the calypso tribute "Back to Back." AMG

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Jefferson Airplane - Takes Off 1966

The debut Jefferson Airplane album was dominated by singer Marty Balin, who wrote or co-wrote all the original material and sang most of the lead vocals in his heartbreaking tenor with Paul Kantner and Signe Anderson providing harmonies and backup. (Anderson's lead vocal on "Chauffeur Blues" indicated she was at least the equal of her successor, Grace Slick, as a belter.) The music consisted mostly of folk-rock love songs, the most memorable of which were "It's No Secret" and "Come up the Years." (There was also a striking version of Dino Valente's "Get Together" recorded years before the Youngbloods' hit version.) Jorma Kaukonen already displayed a talent for mixing country, folk, and blues riffs in a rock context, and Jack Casady already had a distinctive bass sound. But the Airplane of Balin-Kantner-Kaukonen-Anderson-Casady-Spence is to be distinguished from the Balin-Kantner-Kaukonen-Casady-Slick-Dryden version of the band that would emerge on record five months later chiefly by Balin's dominance. Later, Grace Slick would become the group's vocal and visual focal point. On Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, the Airplane was Balin's group. (Jefferson Airplane Takes Off was released as RCA 3584 on August 15, 1966. It was reissued as RCA 66797 on January 30, 1996, as a CD that contained both the stereo and mono versions, and that added back the track "Runnin' 'Round This World," which had been deleted from all but initial copies due to the sexual and perceived drug references of the line "The nights I've spent with you have been fantastic trips." But the included version still eliminated the word "trips.") AMG.

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Spud - The Happy Handful 1975

Spud released 2 albums on the Philips record label - their 1975 debut 'A Silk Purse' and 'The Happy Handful' (also in 1975). With these two albums already under their belt, the band brought in Paul McGuinness to manage the band. Paul did his first record deal with Sonet which resulted in the release of Spud's third album, 'Smoking on The Bog', in 1978. The band toured for over 8 years and all the ex-members still play. An Irish folk-rock group whose albums are bound to be of interest to Celtic music lovers. Their debut album includes a competent version of the well-known traditional song "Blackleg Miner" amongst others. The third album comes with a lyric sheet. By this time of its release, O'Connor had been replaced by Dave Gaynor (drums) and multi-instrumentalist Ken Wilson also joined. This is generally regarded as their best album, a sorta good-time folk offering, but they've been dormant since.

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Monday, December 26, 2011

Isle of Wight Sunday 30th August

Isle of Wight, last day, and a mark in rock history was born and never forgotten! It started with an accoustic duo Good News, and wasn't able to found any information about it, and after Kris Kristofferson second set, Ralph McTell, Heaven, Free, Donovan, Pentangle, The Moody Blues, Jethro Tull, Jimi Hendrix, Joan Baez, Leonard Cohen and as closing act Richie Havens!
I hope you enjoyed travelling in time.

Enjoy!

Kris Kristofferson - The Silver Tongued Devil and I 1971 - (Isle of Wight 1970)

By the time Monument came to release Kristofferson's second album, The Silver Tongued Devil and I, in July 1971, he was the author of four songs that had topped the country or pop charts for others. Kristofferson himself had not yet reached the charts with a recording of his own, but his spectacular success as a songwriter made The Silver Tongued Devil and I a much-anticipated record. One consequence of this was that Monument was willing to spend more money; three of the album's songs boasted strings and another a horn section. But the key, of course, was still the songwriting, and though there were several excellent songs, the album could not live up to its predecessor, which was the culmination of years of writing. Typically for a second album, Kristofferson reached back into his catalog, presenting his own treatments of "Jody and the Kid" and "The Taker," which had been hits for Roy Drusky and Waylon Jennings, respectively. In his newly written material, Kristofferson continued to examine the lives of society's outcasts, but the antiestablishment tone of some of Kristofferson was gone along with much of the wry humor, and in their place were touches of morbidity and sentimentality. Kristofferson retained his gift for intimate love songs, and the album's most memorable selections turned out to be "Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I'll Ever Do Again)" (which became a semi-standard) and "When I Loved Her." And even if his observations seemed less acute, his talent for wordplay often rescued the songs from banality. On its way to becoming a gold record, The Silver Tongued Devil and I reached the pop Top 20, Kristofferson's career high on that chart, and the country Top Five; thus, Kristofferson made the transition from being a successful songwriter to a successful recording artist. AMG.

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Ralph McTell - Spiral Staircase 1969 - (Isle of Wight 1970)

McTell's second album remains most remembered for the first version of "Streets of London," although this acoustic version is different from the mid-'70s re-recording that made it to number two in the British charts. It's a low-key and wistful record, no surprise there, as McTell has never been an in-your-face kind of performer. The tone is predominantly acoustic, with some appropriately soft, graceful orchestral arrangements by Mike Vickers. A few of the songs, like "England 1914" and "The Fairground," have nicely sad, ethereal melodies and forceful observational lyrics. Others are merely OK, and the straight blues songs, like the cover of Robert Johnson's "Kind Hearted Woman Blues," are the least memorable. AMG.

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Heaven - Brass Rock 1 1971 - (Isle of Wight 1970)

Heaven, a jazz rock group from Portsmouth, burst forth onto the British rock scene in 1970 when they appeared at the legendary Isle of Wight festival sharing a bill with The Who, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix et al. Making a stunning debut, the band (now managed by festival organiser Rikki Farr), soon secured a recording deal with CBS Records who signed the band for a large advance. The resulting double album "Brass Rock 1" appeared in 1971, adorned in a lavish fold-out sleeve. Well received critically, the album failed to achieve the expected success and Heaven soon disbanded, leaving behind a fine example of classic jazz rock. AMG.

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Free - Fire And Water 1970 - (Isle of Wight 1970)

If Fleetwood Mac, Humble Pie, and Foghat were never formed, Free would be considered one of the greatest post-Beatles blues-rock bands to date, and Fire and Water shows why. Conceptually fresh, with a great, roots-oriented, Band-like feel, Free distinguished itself with the public like Black Sabbath and Deep Purple did (in terms of impact, only) in 1970. Free presented itself to the world as a complete band, in every sense of the word. From Paul Kossoff's exquisite and tasteful guitar work, to Paul Rodgers' soulful vocals, this was a group that was easily worthy of the mantle worn by Cream, Blind Faith, or Derek & the Dominos . AMG.

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Donovan - Open Road 1970 - (Isle of Wight 1970)

Although it was a disappointing seller and signaled the start of Donovan's commercial decline, Open Road could have been a new beginning for the singer. Stripping down to a Celtic rock format that managed to be hard and direct, yet still folkish, Donovan turned out a series of excellent songs, notably the minor hit "Riki Tiki Tavi," that seemed to show him moving toward a roots-oriented sound of considerable appeal. Unfortunately, he was derailed by record company hassles and perhaps his own burnout, and Open Road turned out to be a sidestep rather than a step forward. AMG.

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Pentangle - Basket Of Light 1969 - (Isle of Wight 1970)

Were Pentangle a folk group, a folk-rock group, or something that resists classification? They could hardly be called a rock & roll act; they didn't use electric instruments often, and were built around two virtuoso guitarists, Bert Jansch and John Renbourn, who were already well-established on the folk circuit before the group formed. Yet their hunger for eclectic experimentation fit into the milieu of late-'60s progressive rock and psychedelia well, and much of their audience came from the rock and pop worlds, rather than the folk crowd. With Jacqui McShee on vocals and a rhythm section of Danny Thompson (bass) and Terry Cox (drums), the group mastered a breathtaking repertoire that encompassed traditional ballads, blues, jazz, pop, and reworkings of rock oldies, often blending different genres in the same piece. Their prodigious individual talents perhaps ensured a brief lifespan, but at their peak they melded their distinct and immense skills to egg each other on to heights they couldn't have achieved on their own, in the manner of great rock combos like the Beatles and Buffalo Springfield.

When Pentangle formed around late 1966 or early 1967 (accounts vary), Jansch and Renbourn had already recorded one album together (Bert and John), and done some solo recordings as well. Jansch was more inclined toward blues and contemporary songwriting than Renbourn, who was stronger in traditional British folk music. Jacqui McShee, whose bell-clear, high singing set the standard (along with Sandy Denny) for female British folk-rock vocals, began rehearsing with the pair. After a false start with a forgotten rhythm section, Thompson and Cox -- who had been working with Alexis Korner -- were brought in to complete the quintet.

Pentangle's first three albums -- The Pentangle (1968), the double-LP Sweet Child (1968), and Basket of Light (1969) -- are not only their best efforts, but arguably their only truly essential ones. With Shel Talmy acting as producer, the band rarely took a misstep in its mastery of diverse styles and material. Thompson and Cox gave even the traditional folk ballads a jazz swing and verve; the guitar interplay of Jansch (who was also a capable singer) and Renbourn was downright thrilling, each complementing and enhancing the other without showing off or getting in each other's way. McShee's beautiful vocals, though not as emotionally resonant as her close counterpart Sandy Denny, were an under-appreciated component to the band's success with the pop audience.

And Pentangle were very popular for a time, at least in England, where Basket of Light made number five, and "Light Flight" was a small hit single. They introduced some electric guitars on their early-'70s albums, which generally suffered from weaker material and a less unified group effort. The original lineup broke up in 1973; Jansch and Renbourn (who had never really abandoned their solo careers) continued to record often as soloists, and remained top attractions on the folk circuit. Thompson joined John Martyn for a while, and has remained active as a session musician, in addition to recording some work of his own for the Hannibal label. The original group reunited for the reasonably accomplished Open the Door album in the early '80s, and other versions of the group recorded and toured throughout the '80s and '90s, usually featuring McShee and Jansch as the sole remaining original members.

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The Moody Blues - A question of Balance 1970 - (Isle of Wight 1970)

The Moody Blues' first real attempt at a harder rock sound still has some psychedelic elements, but they're achieved with an overall leaner studio sound. The group was trying to take stock of itself at this time, and came up with some surprisingly strong, lean numbers (Michael Pinder's Mellotron is surprisingly restrained until the final number, "The Balance"), which also embraced politics for the first time ("Question" seemed to display the dislocation that a lot of younger listeners were feeling during Vietnam). The surprisingly jagged opening track, "Question," recorded several months earlier, became a popular concert number as well as a number two (or number one, depending upon whose chart one looks at) single. Graeme Edge's "Don't You Feel Small" and Justin Hayward's "It's Up to You" both had a great beat, but the real highlight here is John Lodge's "Tortoise and the Hare," a fast-paced number that the band used to rip through in concert with some searing guitar solos by Hayward. Ray Thomas' "And the Tide Rushes In" (written in the wake of a fight with his wife) is one of the prettiest psychedelic songs ever written, a sweetly languid piece with some gorgeous shimmering instrumental effects. The 1997 remastered edition brings out the guitar sound with amazing force and clarity, and the notes tell a lot about the turmoil the band was starting to feel after three years of whirlwind success. The only loss is the absence of the lyrics included in earlier editions. AMG.

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Jethro Tull - Benefit 1970 - (Isle of Wight 1970)

Benefit was the album on which the Jethro Tull sound solidified around folk music, abandoning blues entirely. Beginning with the opening number, "With You There to Help Me," Anderson adopts his now-familiar, slightly mournful folksinger/sage persona, with a rather sardonic outlook on life and the world; his acoustic guitar carries the melody, joined by Martin Barre's electric instrument for the crescendos. This would be the model for much of the material on Aqualung and especially Thick as a Brick, although the acoustic/electric pairing would be executed more effectively on those albums. Here the acoustic and electric instruments are merged somewhat better than they were on Stand Up (on which it sometimes seemed like Barre's solos were being played in a wholly different venue), and as needed, the electric guitars carry the melodies better than on previous albums. Most of the songs on Benefit display pleasant, delectably folk-like melodies attached to downbeat, slightly gloomy, but dazzlingly complex lyrics, with Barre's guitar adding enough wattage to keep the hard rock listeners very interested. "To Cry You a Song," "Son," and "For Michael Collins, Jeffrey and Me" all defined Tull's future sound: Barre's amp cranked up to ten (especially on "Son"), coming in above Anderson's acoustic strumming, a few unexpected changes in tempo, and Anderson spouting lyrics filled with dense, seemingly profound imagery and statements. As on Stand Up, the group was still officially a quartet, with future member John Evan (whose John Evan Band had become the nucleus of Jethro Tull two years before) appearing as a guest on keyboards; his classical training proved essential to the expanding of the group's sound on the three albums to come. Benefit was reissued in a remastered edition with bonus tracks at the end of 2001, which greatly improved the clarity of the playing and the richness of the sound; the four additional tracks are "Singing All Day," "Witch's Promise," the elegant, gossamer-textured "Just Trying to Be," and the original UK mix of "Teacher." Written and recorded prior to Benefit, they're all lighter in mood than the material from the original album, adding some greater variety but fitting in perfectly on a stylistic level. AMG.

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Jimi Hendrix - Band Of Gypsys 1970 - (Isle of Wight 1970)

Band of Gypsys was the only live recording authorized by Jimi Hendrix before his death. It was recorded and released in order to get Hendrix out from under a contractual obligation that had been hanging over his head for a couple years. Helping him out were longtime friends Billy Cox on bass and Buddy Miles on the drums because the Experience had broken up in June of 1969, following a show in Denver. This rhythm section was vastly different from the Experience. Buddy Miles was an earthy, funky drummer in direct contrast to the busy, jazzy leanings of Mitch Mitchell. Noel Redding was not really a bass player at all but a converted guitar player who was hired in large part because Hendrix liked his hair! These new surroundings pushed Hendrix to new creative heights. Along with this new rhythm section, Hendrix took these shows as an opportunity to showcase much of the new material he had been working on. The music was a seamless melding of rock, funk, and R&B, and tunes like "Message to Love" and "Power to Love" showed a new lyrical direction as well. Although he could be an erratic live performer, for these shows, Hendrix was on -- perhaps his finest performances. His playing was focused and precise. In fact, for most of the set, Hendrix stood motionless, a far cry from the stage antics that helped establish his reputation as a performer. Equipment problems had plagued him in past live shows as well, but everything was perfect for the Fillmore shows. His absolute mastery of his guitar and effects is even more amazing considering that this was the first time he used the Fuzz Face, wah-wah pedal, Univibe, and Octavia pedals on-stage together. The guitar tones he gets on "Who Knows" and "Power to Love" are powerful and intense, but nowhere is his absolute control more evident than on "Machine Gun," where Hendrix conjures bombs, guns, and other sounds of war from his guitar, all within the context of a coherent musical statement. The solo on "Machine Gun" totally rewrote the book on what a man could do with an electric guitar and is arguably the most groundbreaking and devastating guitar solo ever. These live versions of "Message to Love" and "Power to Love" are far better than the jigsaw puzzle studio versions that were released posthumously. Two Buddy Miles compositions are also included, but the show belongs to Jimi all the way. Band of Gypsys is not only an important part of the Hendrix legacy, but one of the greatest live albums ever. AMG.

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Joan Baez - One Day at a Tme 1970 - (Isle of Wight 1970)

One of the oft-overlooked aspects of Joan Baez's career in the 1960s is that after the first four albums, she never did the same thing twice; what's more, with the possible exception of the Baptism album, she succeeded at least 90 percent of the time in practically everything new that she tried during that decade. One Day at a Time is much closer to 100 percent on target, and was also startlingly new and daring at the time. Today it seems like no big deal, but in 1970 very few singers coming out of the folk scene as Baez did were reaching out to Willie Nelson ("One Day at a Time") and even the Rolling Stones ("No Expectations") for repertory, much less putting them on the same album with music by old leftist composers like Earl Robinson ("Joe Hill"), and then interspersing those songs with traditional country numbers. Even better, she was also writing her own songs, one of which, "Sweet Sir Galahad," ranks among the best songs that she ever recorded (no small compliment considering that the latter list includes much of the Dylan catalog, among other heavyweight compositional competition). She was in the middle of her country phase, mostly working with the best players in Nashville (who are a pleasure to hear as well), but One Day at a TIme has a freer, looser feel than David's Album or Blessed Are, both of which came out of the same orbit. Her version of "Long Black Veil" could've passed muster at The Grand Ol' Opry, and she could've cut these sessions with Dolly Parton, June Carter Cash, or any other female country singer of the era and not been out of place. The sheer, understated power of her voice on Delaney & Bonnie's "Ghetto" and on "Carry It On" is also something to behold, and makes one wonder what kind of a gospel singer Baez might have made in another reality. Yet she could also loosen up enough to do a pure piece of sentimental traditional country music like "Take Me Back to the Sweet Sunny South" and make it work, too. And amid those multi-tiered, widely spaced superlatives, One Day at a Time also had (and still has) an additional facet that should make it essential listening on another level, to yet another audience -- it's an excellent companion to and extension of Baez's appearance on the Woodstock album, as three of the cuts here feature her working with Jeffrey Shurtleff, who was her accompanist at the festival as well. AMG.

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Leonard Cohen - Songs of Love and Hate 1971 - (Isle of Wight 1970)

Songs of Love and Hate is one of Leonard Cohen's most emotionally intense albums -- which, given the nature of Cohen's body of work, is no small statement. While the title Songs of Love and Hate sums up the album's themes accurately enough, it's hardly as simple as that description might lead you to expect -- in these eight songs, "love" encompasses the physical ("Last Year's Man"), the emotional ("Famous Blue Raincoat"), and the spiritual ("Joan of Arc"), and the contempt in songs like "Dress Rehearsal Rag" and "Avalanche" is the sort of venom that can only come from someone who once cared very deeply. The sound of the album is clean and uncluttered, and for the most part the music stays out of the way of the lyrics, which dominate the songs. Thankfully, Cohen had grown noticeably as a singer since his first two albums, and if he hardly boasts a range to rival Roy Orbison here, he is able to bring out the subtleties of "Joan of Arc" and "Famous Blue Raincoat" in a way his previous work would not have led you to expect. And while Bob Johnston's production is spare, it's spare with a purpose, letting Cohen's voice and guitar tell their stories and using other musicians for intelligent, emotionally resonant punctuation (Paul Buckmaster's unobtrusive string arrangements and the use of a children's chorus are especially inspired). And Songs of Love and Hate captured Cohen in one of his finest hours as a songwriter, and the best selections (especially "Famous Blue Raincoat," "Joan of Arc," and "Love Calls You by Your Name") rank with the most satisfying work of his career. If Songs of Love and Hate isn't Cohen's best album, it comes close enough to be essential to anyone interested in his work. AMG.

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Richie Havens - Richard P. Havens, 1983 (1969)

Havens' third Verve album was an ambitious double LP, using about a couple dozen backing musicians in various combinations on instruments ranging from conga and sitar to steel guitar and organ. Though recorded for the most part in the studio, it also included several live recordings from a July 1968 concert. As with many double albums, it perhaps could have used some pruning, although in general it was a worthy expansion of his sound as captured on record. Divided almost equally between originals and covers, the music has the moving and melancholy vibe, yet also somewhat rambling feel, typical of Havens' prime. Certainly his "What More Can I Say John?" is a subtle and admirable anti-Vietnam war song, while his interpretations of Leonard Cohen's "Priests" and Maurey Hayden's (aka Lotus Weinstock's) "Cautiously" are unusual cover choices that are imaginatively done. An Indian influence makes itself heard occasionally, as on "Just Above My Hobby Horse's Head" and "Putting Out the Vibration, and Hoping It Comes Home"; "Indian Rope Man," with Jeremy Steig on flute, is one of his better compositions. However, there's an over reliance on Beatles covers (there are four here). And the live stuff on side four, with its cutesy five-minute version of "With a Little Help From My Friends" (in which Havens wordlessly scats the lyrics), seems like an afterthought to push the set to double-LP length. AMG.

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Chicago - Chicago VII (1974)

Although commercially successful, Chicago's previous long-player, Chicago VI (1973), had not been received as warmly from both the critics as well as from some bandmembers. Both parties expressed their dissatisfaction with the lighter fare and significantly shorter material. In response, the combo briefly returned to their previously tried and true methodology on their follow-up album. As such, Chicago VII (1974) was not only a double LP, but much of the effort likewise returned them to their former jazz/rock glory while continuing the middle-of-the-road (MOR) ethos that was concurrently impacting the pop charts. Nowhere is this more evident than the trio of sides extracted as singles -- including the Top Ten hits "(I've Been) Searching So Long," "Call on Me," and "Wishing You Were Here." The latter of which features some stunning backing vocals from Beach Boys Dennis Wilson, Carl Wilson, and Alan Jardine. The group were continuing in their incorporation of additional musicians, most notably Laudir DeOliveira (percussion) and David J. Wolinski (ARP synthesizer) -- both of whom are prominently featured throughout the sides. The opening instrumentals, including "Prelude to Aire," "Aire," and "Devil's Sweet," reflect Daniel Seraphine's (drums) tremendously underrated skills as a writer as well as the combo's recently underutilized talents as ensemble musicians. All three tracks provide a brilliant showcase for the brass/woodwind section(s) to flex their respective muscles, drawing heavily upon the styles of Weather Report and to some extent Miles Davis and Santana. The nature of their seemingly experimental fusion is stretched out even further on "Italian From New York." The cut includes some interesting ARP interjections from Robert Lamm, whose decidedly free-form contributions weave alongside some rubbery and liquefied fretwork courtesy of Terry Kath (guitar/vocals). His lead bobs around Lamm's synthesizer and an equally prominent cool-toned Fender Rhodes keyboard bed. The second half of Chicago VII directly contrasts the less structured instrumentals with more inclusive sides such as the previously mentioned hits "Call On Me" and "Wishing You Were Here." Other highlights include Lamm's funky mid-tempo "Life Saver," Peter Cetera's (bass/vocals) laid-back and unencumbered "Happy Man," and a double shot from Kath in the form of two serene ballads, "Song of the Evergreens" and "Byblos" -- which features some stellar acoustic strumming. This collection would be Chicago's final two-disc set by the original lineup and offers the best of the band as improvisational instrumentalists as well as concise, emotive vocalists and song crafters. AMG.

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Mike Oldfield - Tubular Bells 1973

Mike Oldfield's groundbreaking album Tubular Bells is arguably the finest conglomeration of off-centered instruments concerted together to form a single unique piece. A variety of instruments are combined to create an excitable multitude of rhythms, tones, pitches, and harmonies that all fuse neatly into each other, resulting in an astounding plethora of music. Oldfield plays all the instruments himself, including such oddities as the Farfisa organ, the Lowrey organ, and the flageolet. The familiar eerie opening, made famous by its use in The Exorcist, starts the album off slowly, as each instrument acoustically wriggles its way into the current noise that is heard, until there is a grand unison of eccentric sounds that wildly excites the ears. Throughout the album, the tempos range from soft to intense to utterly surprising, making for some excellent musical culminations. Mandolins and Spanish guitars are joined by grinding organs and keyboards, while oddball bells and cranking noises resound in the distance. In the middle of the album, guest Vivian Stanshall announces each instrument seconds before it is heard, ending with the ominous sounding tubular bells, a truly powerful and dominating instrument. The most interesting and overwhelming aspect of this album is the fact that so many sounds are conjured up yet none go unnoticed, allowing the listener a gradual submergence into each unique portion of the music. Tubular Bells is a divine excursion into the realm of new age music. AMG.

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Monday, December 12, 2011

John B. Sebastian - John B. Sebastian 1970 - (Isle of Wight 1970)

When he led the Lovin' Spoonful from 1965 to 1967, John Sebastian experimented with a variety of styles, expanding from the folk, jug band, and rock & roll that were the band's basic mixture to include everything from country ("Nashville Cats") to orchestrated movie scoring ("Darling, Be Home Soon"). Freed from the confines of a four-piece band, he stretched further on his debut solo album, including the samba-flavored "Magical Connection" and the R&B-styled "Baby, Don't Ya Get Crazy" (complete with the Ikettes on backup vocals) in addition to traditional country on "Rainbows All Over Your Blues," which spotlighted Buddy Emmons on pedal steel guitar. But there were also delicate ballads like the string-filled "She's a Lady," a stripped-down remake of "You're a Big Boy Now," and "The Room Nobody Lives In," the last performed with only a harmonium and bass guitar. And there were pop/rock songs like "Red-Eye Express," "What She Thinks About," and the utopian "I Had a Dream" that you could imagine having fitted easily into the Spoonful's repertoire. The songs continued Sebastian's trend toward a more personal writing style, many of them containing images of travel that corresponded to his peripatetic lifestyle. Like Paul McCartney's McCartney, which followed it into the marketplace by a few months, the album was an eclectic but low-key introduction to the solo career of a former group member whose band was known for more elaborate productions, and all the more effective for that. (John B. Sebastian was the subject of a legal dispute between MGM records and Reprise records, with Reprise winning out, although MGM briefly issued its own version of the LP, apparently taken from a second-generation master. The MGM version is sonically inferior to the Reprise one and has different artwork, but the contents of the two LPs are identical.) AMG.

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Shawn Phillips - Contribution 1970 - (Isle of Wight 1970)

Shawn Phillips' first major album, recorded in 1968 with help from the members of Traffic, among others, is a condensation of a far more ambitious studio original that was intended to fill three LPs. The range of sounds on this record is shockingly diverse, from breezy folk-rock ("Man Hole Covered Wagon") to pieces incorporating classical guitar and phantasmagoric lyrics ("L Ballade" finds Phillips' at his most Donovan-like, but with a better voice), and, in between, bouncy throwaways ("Not Quite Nonsense"), bejeweled sitar-ornamented pieces ("Withered Roses"), and topical songs ("For RFK, JFK and MLK"). If Contribution had come out in 1968 when it was recorded, it probably would have been lost in the shuffle of ambient psychedelia; as it was, it was so quiet and different from the noise of most of what was released in 1970 that critics took notice. Not all of it works, though, and Phillips' later music had a weightier sound, but Contribution is a superb debut, mixing progressive rock and folk sounds in a manner unique to its time. [This LP is finally available on CD as part of the two-fer Contribution/Second Contribution, released in 2005.] AMG.

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Lighthouse - Suite Feelig 1969 - (Isle of Wight 1970) Second set.

Drummer Skip Prokop formed Lighthouse in 1968 and began adding members soon after: guitarist Ralph Cole (whom Prokop had played with in the Paupers), Grant Fullerton, Pinky Dauvin, saxophonist Howard Shore, cellist Dick Armin, violinist Don DiNovo, keyboard player Paul Hoffert, saxophonist Keith Jollimore, vocalist Bob McBride, trumpeter Peter Pantaluk, trombonist Larry Smith and bassist Louis Yackniw. The band released two singles on RCA in 1970 and played at the Newport and Monterey Jazz Festivals and the Isle of Wight Festival, though they had turned down Woodstock. In late 1970, GRT released Lighthouse's debut album, Peacing It All Together. 1971 brought One Fine Morning and Thoughts of Movin' On, and in 1972, the band released Lighthouse Live! and Sunny Days. The band lost members, beginning in 1973 when Paul Hoffert left, followed by Bob McBride and Skip Prokop in 1974; the group eventually disbanded in 1976. Lighthouse had released Can You Feel It (1973) and Good Day (1974), and in 1975, The Best of Lighthouse appeared. Original members re-formed for live shows in 1982 and 1993, and another greatest hits album, The Best of Lighthouse -- Sunny Days Again, was issued in 1989. Postcards from Heaven followed in 1998. Both Bob McBride and Skip Prokop have had somewhat successful solo careers. Sadly, Bob McBride lost his battle with substance abuse February 20, 1998. He was 51. AMG. Thanks to RareMp3

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Joni Mitchell - Ladies of the Canyon 1970 - (Isle of Wight 1970)

This wonderfully varied release shows a number of new tendencies in Joni Mitchell's work, some of which would come to fuller fruition on subsequent albums. "The Arrangement," "Rainy Night House," and "Woodstock" contain lengthy instrumental sections, presaging the extensive non-vocal stretches in later selections such as "Down to You" from Court and Spark. Jazz elements are noticeable in the wind solos of "For Free" and "Conversation," exhibiting an important influence that would extend as late as Mingus. The unusually poignant desolation of "The Arrangement" would surface more strongly in Blue. A number of the selections here ("Willy" and "Blue Boy") use piano rather than guitar accompaniment; arrangements here are often more colorful and complex than before, utilizing cello, clarinet, flute, saxophone, and percussion. Mitchell sings more clearly and expressively than on prior albums, most strikingly so on "Woodstock," her celebration of the pivotal 1960s New York rock festival. This number, given a haunting electric piano accompaniment, is sung in a gutsy, raw, soulful manner; the selection proves amply that pop music anthems don't all have to be loud production numbers. Songs here take many moods, ranging from the sunny, easygoing "Morning Morgantown" (a charming small-town portrait) to the nervously energetic "Conversation" (about a love triangle in the making) to the cryptically spooky "The Priest" (presenting the speaker's love for a Spartan man) to the sweetly sentimental classic "The Circle Game" (denoting the passage of time in touching terms) to the bouncy and vibrant single "Big Yellow Taxi" (with humorous lyrics on ecological matters) to the plummy, sumptuous title track (a celebration of creativity in all its manifestations). This album is yet another essential listen in Mitchell's recorded canon. AMG.

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Tiny Tim - Tiny Tim's 2nd Album 1969 - (Isle of Wight 1970)

Tiny Tim's 15 minutes of fame were starting to run out when Tiny Tim's Second Album was released in November 1968, and it sold only a fraction of what God Bless Tiny Tim moved a mere ten months earlier. But while the novelty of Tiny Tim's act may have worn off for the average record buyer, Tiny Tim's Second Album is hardly a disappointment from a creative standpoint; as he did on Tim's first LP, producer Richard Perry created a stereophonic wonderland around his star that at once suits the eccentric charm of his musical vision and lends a pleasing sonic diversity to the set, ranging from the string-based melancholy of "She's Just Laughing at Me" and the Parisian mood of "When I Walk with You" to the jaunty, lightly addled pop/rock of "We Love It" and the Nashville cowboy twang of "Have You Seen My Little Sue." Tim even proves he can tackle rock & roll with a cracking cover of "Great Balls of Fire," which sounds enthusiastic while still showcasing his trademark vibrato and falsetto. And while Perry's efforts to bring Tiny Tim into the '60s sometimes hang a little uncomfortably on Tim's shoulders, the singer approaches contemporary material from Hoyt Axton and Tom Paxton with the élan of a true showman. But Tiny Tim is clearly most at home singing chestnuts from the Tin Pan Alley era, and when he closes the show with "As Time Goes By," the man sounds like he's ascended to show business heaven. A very entertaining listen from a truly misunderstood artist. AMG.

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Miles Davis - Bitches Brew 1970 - (Isle of Wight 1970)

Thought by many to be among the most revolutionary albums in jazz history, Miles Davis' Bitches Brew solidified the genre known as jazz-rock fusion. The original double LP included only six cuts and featured up to 12 musicians at any given time, some of whom were already established while others would become high-profile players later, Joe Zawinul, Wayne Shorter, Airto, John McLaughlin, Chick Corea, Jack DeJohnette, Dave Holland, Don Alias, Bennie Maupin, Larry Young, and Lenny White among them. Originally thought to be a series of long jams locked into grooves around keyboard, bass, or guitar vamps, Bitches Brew is actually a recording that producer Teo Macero assembled from various jams and takes by razor blade, splice to splice, section to section. "Pharaoh's Dance" opens the set with its slippery trumpet lines, McLaughlin's snaky guitar figures skirting the edge of the rhythm section and Don Alias' conga slipping through the middle. Corea and Zawinul's keyboards create a haunted, riffing modal groove, echoed and accented by the basses of Harvey Brooks and Holland. The title cut was originally composed as a five-part suite, though only three were used. Here the keyboards punch through the mix and big chords ring up distorted harmonics for Davis to solo rhythmically over, outside the mode. McLaughlin's comping creates a vamp, and the bass and drums carry the rest. It's a small taste of the deep voodoo funk to appear on Davis' later records. Side three opens with McLaughlin and Davis trading fours and eights over a lockstep hypnotic vamp on "Spanish Key." Zawinul's lyric sensibility provides a near chorus for Corea to flit around in; the congas and drummers juxtapose themselves against the basslines. It nearly segues into the brief "John McLaughlin," featuring an organ playing modes below arpeggiated blues guitar runs. The end of Bitches Brew, signified by the stellar "Miles Runs the Voodoo Down," reflects the influence of Jimi Hendrix with its chunky, slipped chords and Davis playing a ghostly melody through the funkiness of the rhythm section. It seemingly dances, becoming increasingly more chaotic until it nearly disintegrates before shimmering into a loose foggy nadir. The disc closes with "Sanctuary," completely redone here as a moody electric ballad that was reworked for this band while keeping enough of its integrity to be recognizable. Bitches Brew is so forward-thinking that it retains its freshness and mystery in the 21st century. [The CD version adds "Feio," recorded in early 1970 with much of the same band.] AMG.

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Ten Years After - Watt 1970 - (Isle of Wight 1970)

Watt had many of the same ingredients as its predecessor, Cricklewood Green, but wasn't nearly as well thought out. The band had obviously spent much time on the road, leaving little time for developing new material. Consequently, a cover of Chuck Berry's "Sweet Little Sixteen," recorded live at the Isle of Wight Festival, is included here, as is a short instrumental with the uninspired title "The Band With No Name." Other song titles like "I Say Yeah" and "My Baby Left Me" betray the lack of spark in Alvin Lee's songwriting. Nonetheless, his guitar work is fast and clean (though the licks are beginning to sound repetitive from album to album), and the band continues to cook in the manner exemplified best on Cricklewood Green. AMG.

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Emerson, Lake & Palmer - Emerson, Lake & Palmer 1970 - (Isle of Wight 1970)

Lively, ambitious, almost entirely successful debut album, made up of keyboard-dominated instrumentals ("The Barbarian," "Three Fates") and romantic ballads ("Lucky Man") showcasing all three members' very daunting talents. This album, which reached the Top 20 in America and got to number four in England, showcased the group at its least pretentious and most musicianly -- with the exception of a few moments on "Three Fates" and perhaps "Take a Pebble," there isn't much excess, and there is a lot of impressive musicianship here. "Take a Pebble" might have passed for a Moody Blues track of the era but for the fact that none of the Moody Blues' keyboard men could solo like Keith Emerson. Even here, in a relatively balanced collection of material, the album shows the beginnings of a dark, savage, imposingly gothic edge that had scarcely been seen before in so-called "art rock," mostly courtesy of Emerson's larger-than-life organ and synthesizer attacks. Greg Lake's beautifully sung, deliberately archaic "Lucky Man" had a brush with success on FM radio, and Carl Palmer became the idol of many thousands of would-be drummers based on this one album (especially for "Three Fates" and "Tank"), but Emerson emerged as the overpowering talent here for much of the public. AMG.

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The Doors - Morrison Hotel 1970 - (Isle of Wight 1970)

The Doors returned to crunching, straightforward hard rock on Morrison Hotel, an album that, despite yielding no major hit singles, returned them to critical favor with hip listeners. An increasingly bluesy flavor began to color the songwriting and arrangements, especially on the party'n'booze anthem "Roadhouse Blues." Airy mysticism was still present on "Waiting for the Sun," "Queen of the Highway," and "Indian Summer"; "Ship of Fools" and "Land Ho!" struck effective balances between the hard rock arrangements and the narrative reach of the lyrics. "Peace Frog" was the most political and controversial track, documenting the domestic unrest of late-'60s America before unexpectedly segueing into the restful ballad "Blue Sunday." "The Spy," by contrast, was a slow blues that pointed to the direction that would fully blossom on L.A. Woman. AMG.

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Sly & The Family Stone - Stand! 1969 - (Isle of Wight 1970)

Stand! is the pinnacle of Sly & the Family Stone's early work, a record that represents a culmination of the group's musical vision and accomplishment. Life hinted at this record's boundless enthusiasm and blurred stylistic boundaries, yet everything simply gels here, resulting in no separation between the astounding funk, effervescent irresistible melodies, psychedelicized guitars, and deep rhythms. Add to this a sharpened sense of pop songcraft, elastic band interplay, and a flowering of Sly's social consciousness, and the result is utterly stunning. Yes, the jams ("Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey," "Sex Machine") wind up meandering ever so slightly, but they're surrounded by utter brilliance, from the rousing call to arms of "Stand!" to the unification anthem "Everyday People" to the unstoppable "I Want to Take You Higher." All of it sounds like the Family Stone, thanks not just to the communal lead vocals but to the brilliant interplay, but each track is distinct, emphasizing a different side of their musical personality. As a result, Stand! winds up infectious and informative, invigorating and thought-provoking -- stimulating in every sense of the word. Few records of its time touched it, and Sly topped it only by offering its opposite the next time out. AMG.

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Melanie - Candles in the Rain 1970 - (Isle of Wight 1970)

1970s Candles in the Rain was Melanie Safka's third album, but while her first two LPs found her trying to make a coherent whole out of her grab bag of influences and ideas, this was where she seemed to truly hit the mark for the first time. "Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)" was that rarity, a hit single that truly presented an eclectic artist in her best light -- the Woodstock rock festival that inspired the tune was just the sort of event that would appeal to Melanie's hippie-styled idealism, and with the power of the Edwin Hawkins Singers backing her, she had a level of musical strength on hand that would prevent her from sounding histrionic. While "Lay Down" was easily the most effective track on Candles in the Rain, the rest of the album found Melanie sounding more confident and expressive than ever before -- there's a emotional gravity to "Citiest People" and "Leftover Wine" that's compelling even when she pushes a little to hard for pathos, and "What Have They Done to My Song Ma?" was the first of her many musical broadsides against the music business, and its wit doesn't blunt its wounded passion. And while Melanie is generally thought of as a singer/songwriter, she was always an imaginative interpreter of the songs of others, and her versions of "Ruby Tuesday" and "Carolina on My Mind" exist on an entirely separate plane from the originals. Finally, the production and arrangements by Peter Schekeryk create fine backdrops for Melanie, punctuating her performances and complementing her emotional peaks and valleys without getting in the way (and the accompanists deliver uniformly superb work). If Candles in the Rain was the album that broke Melanie to a larger audience, it did so not just because it featured her biggest hit single to date, but because it matched material and interpretation with greater skill than she had in the past, and it ranks with her finest work. AMG.

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Isle of Wight Saturday 29th August 1970

One more time, I revisited the famous Festival, and we have John B. Sebastian that open the day, after Shawn Philips, Lighthouse (their 2nd set), Joni Mitchell, Tiny Tim, Miles Davis, Ten Years After, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, The Doors, The Who, Sly & The Family Stone and Melanie!

Enjoy!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Fairfield Parlour - From Home To Home 1970 - (Isle of Wight 1970)

From Home to Home is quite similar to the albums this group had put out in the late '60s as the Kaleidoscope (the British Kaleidoscope, not to be confused with the American band of the same name). In fact, it's similar enough to the Kaleidoscope records to make one wonder why they bothered to change their name. Perhaps there is more polish and sophistication in the production, and a slightly heavier rock sound. But the focus is still gentle, story-like songs with debts to both late-'60s Pink Floyd and late-'60s Beatles, though the songs are not nearly as memorable as the work by those bands, and there is not nearly as much balance between chipper and somber material as the Beatles and Pink Floyd mustered. (Fairfield Parlour are heavily tilted toward the cheery tunes.) Tasteful early synthesizer is heard from time to time, and the debts to 1969 Beatles are heard in the Leslie amplification effects, though there are acoustic folk-psych passages with flute, too. The album has been reissued as half of the double-CD compilation The Fairfield Parlour Years, in conjunction with Fairfield Parlour's other 1970s album, the concept album White Faced Lady, which was not released until the 1990s. The disc on that set that contains From Home to Home adds bonus tracks from non-LP releases, along with the single they did under the name I Luv Wight, the previously unreleased movie theme "Eyewitness," and a far more recent re-recording of one song from From Home to Home, "Aries." AMG.

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Arrival - The Arrival 1969 - (Isle of Wight 1970)

Arrival was a seven-member group from Liverpool formed in the late '60s. Members were Dyan Birch, Paddy McHugh, Frank Collins, Carroll Carter (vocals), Lloyd Courtney, Don Hume, and Tony O'Malley. They had two U.K. hits in 1970: "Friends" (number eight) and "I Will Survive" (number 16). Birch, Collins, McHugh and O'Malley later formed Kokomo.

New link! Thanks PJ!

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