Archive for August, 2007

The Guess Who? “It’s Time”

It’s Time

There is no doubt that It’s Time was the best album from the early Guess Who. This 1966 LP was the first Guess Who record to feature the wild Burton Cummings. It’s Time was the third Guess Who album in 3 years, featuring mostly original/self-penned group compositions.

The album featured a nice balance of personalities: the original band leader Chad Allen, who favored a moody beat style tempered by a rough, hard edge Rolling Stone’s influenced Burton Cummings (future band leader along with Randy Bachman and vocalist on American Woman). Special praise must go to Randy Bachman as well: he conjures a very dirty, fuzzy guitar tone throughout the record. Every song on this album is well-crafted and one can hear the clear influence of the Who, beat era Kinks, Rolling Stones, Zombies, and Byrds. Songs like Clock On The Wall, Believe Me and Don’t Act So Bad are a long way from Guess Who radio classics These Eyes, Laughing, No Time, and Share The Land. Clock On The Wall is the killer undisputed classic on this record. At the time, Neil Young made special note of this single for it’s dramatic Cummings’ vocals and heavily reverbed guitars. Believe Me is also an excellent piece of Kink’s style garage grunge with some interesting keyboard work. Cummings’ vocals come thru again with the Animals influenced Seven Long Years and the raunchy Pretty Things-like Don’t Act So Bad. Chad Allen really shines on the acoustic beat downer Guess I’ll Find A Place while the Bachman penned And She’s Mine has an appealing rural folk-rock Byrd’s feel. And while the album cannot hide it’s influences, It’s Time really is a classic piece of Canadian rock music.

This album holds as one of the best ever garage albums because vocally and instrumentally the Guess Who were way ahead of the pack. They released plenty of excellent garage/beat era 45’s as well, track done excellent singles such as It’s My Pride or If You Don’t Want Me for more proof of their early raw sound. This would be the last Guess Who album featuring Chad Allan. After this, Allan would go on to form Brave Belt with Randy Bachman, who would release two albums in the early 70’s. Brave Belt’s debut record is a fantastic mix of country, folk, pop rock, and psychedelia. Fans of country-rock or of this website are strongly urged to track this record down.

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“Clock On The Wall”

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The Flamin’ Groovies “Sneakers”

Sneakers

This was their 10 inch 7 song debut, released in early 1968. Throughout their career the Flamin’ Groovies went through multiple phases though many feel that the Sneakers to Teenage Head era was the band’s finest. During this period the band produced some of the best proto punk hard rock records around.

In the late 70’s people started realizing the band’s importance and influence on the emerging punk scene. The band finally received an enormous amount of respect from the rock press during this period. This late 70’s version was led by Cyril Jordan, releasing a trio of superb British Invasion style garage albums. The Sneakers/Roy Loney led Flamin’ Groovies were a totally different animal. They resided in San Fransisco and played a greasy old fashioned brand of rock n roll that was also influenced by monster British Invasion bands such as the The Who, Rolling Stones and Kinks (started circa 1965/66). The Groovies played the same psychedelic ballrooms as Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead, thus making them hopelessly out of step with the acid daze.

This little album will most likely appeal to psych fans though, as there are plenty of excellent fuzz solos traded through Sneaker’s seven songs. Some of the songs have a charming Lovin’ Spoonful folk-rock jugband influence as heard on Lovetime and Babes In The Sky. My Yada is somewhat similar and a definite highlight, being the strangest amalgam of jugband music and psychedelia ever recorded. Golden Clouds, I’m Drowning and Slider are the real highlights. The Groovies recklessly blast through these Roy Loney originals.

They are perfect mixtures of 1967 Rolling Stones and 50’s Sun label rockabilly sound spiked with a tinge of San Fransisco acid.

I have to point out Golden Clouds in particular. It sounds like a classic, the band in all their glory, something you would have heard late at night on underground radio. The guitar solo is positively brilliant, Loney’s vocals surge and strut with confidence and it puts to shame many of today’s more vaunted, though unoriginal corporate cheese acts like the White Stripes, Strokes, Black Keys, and John Spencer.

This 10 inch album was the first of four releases from the Roy Loney era Groovies. During this period their lineup also included Cyril Jordan, Danny Mihm, Tim Lynch and George Alexander. Although they would release two bonafide classics in Flamingo and Teenage Head, Sneakers remains their most honest, fun record to date.

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“Golden Clouds”

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The Zombies “Into the Afterlife”

Into The Afterlife

A rare and welcome treat from the Zombies’ archives, and a continuation of the wonderful box set, Zombie Heaven from the Big Beat label. This brand new release is a compilation of mostly unavailable tracks recorded by different incarnations of the Zombs during the unsure period of time after they broke up and before their next projects. This is what I live for!

The tracks have been packaged almost in album form, with the sleeve appearing to be a Ninja Turtle fan’s watercolor homage to Odessey & Oracle. It’s nice to pretend that this could indeed be the follow-up release to the Zombies’ fantastic final offering, but what we have instead is really a collection juxtaposing three distinct post-Oracle projects: Rod Argent & Chris White (who were recording demos trying to figure out how to be Argent), Neil MacArthur (Colin Blunstone’s alter ego), and The Zombies themselves.

Rod Argent & Chris White’s demo material on this record was never meant for release, they were just stretching out and trying to figure out how to expand their sound. But you can hear the Zombies songwriting still lingering in there. Unfortunately, you can’t hear the Zombies voice in there; Rod’s lead vocal on She Loves The Way They Love Her sounds like a karaoke mishap compared to Colin’s take on his brilliant One Year. Still, this material is indispensable to fans of the Zombs and Argent as a bridge between both groups.

The complete Neil MacArthur recordings on this disc are seriously awesome. It kicks off with the psyched out and groovy remake of She’s Not There and a version of Buffalo Springfield’s Hung Upside Down. Harry Nilsson’s Without Her gets a fitting redo as well as the classic Never My Love. Don’t Try To Explain and World of Glass both point to what Colin would achieve a year or so later with One Year and his subsequent solo career.

While all these recordings were going on, Time of the Season was becoming a big hit and efforts were made to eek a few more singles out and cash in on the success, known as the unreleased RIP album (available on Zombie Heaven). An interesting mix on this record, Walking in the Sun, has been reconstructed only with Colin’s vocal, original backup vocals, and an orchestral arrangement. If It Don’t Work Out, the official final single from the Zombs is presented with orchestral overdubs as well and in Going To A Go Go we can hear the hard-working Zombies exercise their chops. If you love the Zombies you need to get this brilliantly satisfying rarities release.

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“Walking In The Sun”

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The Beacon Street Union “The Eyes Of..”

The Eyes of the Beacon Street Union

The Beacon Street Union were part of the dreaded, overhyped Bosstown Sound. The scene was a reaction to the San Fransisco rock explosion but Bosstown could in no way compete with the Bay area. The Beacon Street Union released three good experimental psych/hard rock albums (one album under the Eagle moniker) during the late 60’s and early 70’s. They were one of the best amongst a desperate bunch which included the Ultimate Spinach, Eden’s Children, Puff and Orpheus.

The Bosstown Sound was not a total waste as it did produce other decent acts such as Earth Opera (which included a young David Grisman and the Rowen Brothers), Listening and Phluph. The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union was the band’s debut released in 1968 off the MGM label. Most of the songs were written by John Lincoln Wright (vocals) and Wayne Ulaky (bass). The album opens with a silly introduction by Tom Wilson which explodes into the records first song, My Love Is. My Love Is was an excellent way to open up the band’s debut, as it was full of crashing Who-like drums and energy, strong harmonies, amateur lead vocals and a ripping psych guitar solo. Of the albums 11 songs, there are three weak songs which include two covers (Beautiful Delilah and Sportin’ Life) and a pointless jugband tune titled Four Hundred And Five. The rest of the album was pretty stellar, hard hitting garage psychedelia, full of highlights like the very trippy, percussion oriented Mystic Morning. Blue Avenue (with some great heavy riffs), the anti drug anthem Speed Kills and Green Destroys The Gold were full on psych assaults with guitar freakouts and a strong sense of urgency (Sadie Said No is more of the same). Just these three killer bad trips alone are worth the price of admission. Other compositions such as South End Incident/I’m Afraid and The Prophet are slow but still strong with lots of drug inspired dimentia. The Eyes of.. was a powerful debut that showed a band that took chances and fired on all cylinders.

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“Green Destroys The Gold”

Also recommended are the more experimental Beacon Street albums, The Clown Died In Marvin Gardens, and the hard rock album from subsequent group The Eagle, Come Under Nancy’s Tent. Below, check out one of the cuts from Marvin Gardens. Not A Very August Afternoon is kind of like a trippy, jazzy languid mixture of Zombies organ and Association psychedelia.

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“A Not Very August Afternoon”

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Relatively Clean Rivers (self-titled)

Relatively Clean Rivers

This album comes out of the mind of Phil Pearlman. Pearlman is a veteran of the American 60’s rock scene, being the brains behind such epic psych albums Beat of the Earth and the great Electronic Hole. Relatively Clean Rivers’ only album was released in 1975/76 though it sounds straight out of 1969. This album is extremely rare and has proven to be quite a controversial privately financed release.

Some feel this album is the second coming, with strong apocalyptic acid visions and wonderful musicianship. Others feel that it’s a solid rural rock record with strands of late period psychedelia. It’s important to note that Relatively Clean Rivers was name checked as an influence in a recent interview (via Record Collector magazine) with a Wilco band member concerning their latest album release. This Wilco band member called the record a 60’s guitar album that is “economic.” Regardless, RCR may not be the second coming but it’s still a great album from a period in rock (1974-75) that was thought to be void of such hidden country psych gems.

It’s really a quiet, flowing rural record that has many unsettling, strange moments. At first listen Hello Sunshine immediately stands out amongst the crowd. This song is pretty great, sounding like a stoned underground version of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Everything comes off very natural and the music never sounds forced or dishonest. Much of the record is predominately acoustic, though Journey Through The Valley has some strong electric guitar acid leads. Other tunes like the effects laden Babylon are very spacey and almost veer towards progressive rock. The album closes with the reflective A Thousand Years. It’s another strong composition with some eastern influenced acoustic guitar playing, lyrics with bizarre religious overtones and backward cymbals. Relatively Clean Rivers is not bound to be everyone’s cup of tea, though fans of rural rock should investigate this great private press release.

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“Hello Sunshine”

NOTE: Please avoid purchasing this album from the Radioactive label. Radioactive and related label, Fallout are pirate operations, meaning they do not pay the original artists or copyright holders when they sell bootleg vinyl rips on CD. Read more about it at NothingExceptional.com.

Lou Reed “Berlin”

Berlin

This album came out after the smashing Transformer. Berlin doesn’t rock and thrash in a perfectly sensible way like T-former, but it is understated and melodically enchanting, and you can grow with it in an unholy, or perhaps sacred way.

It plays like a miniature opera, with eerie sound montage and smoky piano interludes. Don’t expect the stabby guitar glam punk of this album’s predecessor; Berlin is sleepy and sad, beautifully orchestrated and a moody concept album. A few upbeat numbers will keep you coming back for more. It’s hard to remember exactly why you like this album when you replay it for the third time, but you’ll find yourself saying.. “oh yeah, oh yeah this one too!”

How Do You Think It Feels is a great laid back driver, with some Kicks style Lou vox going on. Caroline Says I is a pretty raucous, loosely based version of VU song Stephanie Says, which receives its full tribute in Caroline Says II. Men of Good Fortune is another Reedy classic receiving the Berlinesque operatic treatment. All together it’s one weird record, but a perfect Lou Reed experience, it’s really what he should have been up to all along. Transformer for the pizza party, Berlin for the doped up after-hours party.

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mp3: Sad Song

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The Amboy Dukes “The Amboy Dukes”

Amboy Dukes

The Amboy Dukes were Ted Nugent’s first band (or one of). They came from the same Detroit scene as SRC, The Stooges, Mitch Ryder, Bob Seger, The Frost, The Rationals, MC5 and so forth. They began playing the clubs and ballrooms of Detroit in the mid 1960’s. In 1967 they released their self-titled debut. It was a legendary mix of psychedelia, blues, garage rock, and folk.

The album/music above is also a far cry from Ted Nugent’s mid to late 70’s prime cock rock anthems. At the time, Nugent was content playing his guitar in a rock n roll band. The reality shows, money, politics, redneck concerns and overproduced rock to come had not yet inflated his ego.

The five and a half minute version of Baby Please Don’t Go is an absolute acid garage classic with some fantastic feedback and great guitar sustain. Nugent creates some serious guitar noise on this number and shows off his brilliant chops. The album closes with another garage classic, Gimme Love. This song has some laser fuzz guitar riffs and angry Mike Drake vocals. In between these two garage monsters are many other great compositions. There are a few covers, two work really well (the splendidly bluesy Let’s Go Get Stoned and the gritty Who cover It’s Not True) while the Cream song I Feel Free is ill-advised (it’s the album’s only weak spot). The Amboy Dukes hit real hard with Colors, a furious acid rock song with some sinister soloing. Other psych songs like The Lovely Lady are excellent, recalling the Velvet Underground at their trippiest with spiraling guitar pyrotechnics. Phillip’s Escalator is very Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd with brit vocals, clanging chords and first class guitar scrape. It’s a true classic on this exceptional outing. Night Time and Young Love show the band effectively sticking to their garage band roots.

The Amboy Dukes would go on to release two or three other great albums throughout the late 60’s and early 70’s. None of them have that vintage, exciting 66/67 sound like this debut. The guitar freakouts, Who-like energy and great songs make this debut a prime slice of early Detroit rock.

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“Down On Philip’s Escalator”

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The Wild Cherries “That’s Life”

That’s Life

The above album is a compilation of the Wild Cherries’ 4 singles (the B-sides all being respectable soul rock songs) and 16 live cuts. The live cuts are entirely covers in weak fidelity and as such, do not represent a band who was considered exciting and explosive on stage.

The Wild Cherries or also known as the Wild “Indian” Cherries were one of Australia’s first genuine psychedelic groups. Aussie guitar legend Lobby Loyde came to this band in or around 1967, after doing time with yet another legendary band, the Purple Hearts. The Purple Hearts were a wild garage r’n’b group that released 6 very good singles during the mid 60’s (think early Pretty Things or Sorrows). Loyde would go on to make quality proto punk albums with the Coloured Balls and achieve greater fame as a solo artist throughout the 70’s. But it was the Wild Cherries who had a unique sound, a look, and that special something that only comes around every so often.

In early 1967 the Wild Cherries released their first single, Krome Plated Yabbie (Yabbie is an Australian crayfish) off the Festival label. Krome Plated Yabbie is now rightfully considered an Oz classic. This song sounds vaguely similar to the Small Faces or even the early Move, a superb, bouncy mixture of British style r’n’b and blasting Hendrix influenced guitar distortion. Loyde’s playing is incendiary and foward looking while vocalist Danny Robinson turns in an extremely soulful performance. This single made a big splash throughout the Aussie underground, giving the Wild Cherries much needed notoriety. Krome Plated Yabbie was a hard single to follow up, but in late 1967 the Wild Cherries released That’s Life.

In 1967, nothing on the airwaves sounded quite like That’s Life.

Even today, That’s Life is considered one of the most imaginative singles that ever came out of the Australian underground. It reached the top 40, and opens with a huge fuzz guitar riff which gives way to a pounding psych punk masterpiece. Throughout the song there are spacey organ runs and a great phased Loyde guitar solo.

In 1968 the Wild Cherries released another psychedelic gem, Gotta Stop Lying. This was a hard rocking, punkish original with a great paisley guitar solo, emotive vocals and trippy organ work. Later on in the year, the band released their final single, I Don’t Care. This song was a total departure from their earlier, raw sound, being a ballad with strings, backup singers and a heavily phased ending. Some fans consider this single their experimental peak, though I am not one of them. Lack of commercial success effectively ended this innovative group’s career in late 68/early 1969. In the early 1970’s, Lobby Loyde revived the Wild Cherries name (with none of the original members) and released a solid, spacey hard rocking acoustic single that dealt with environmental concerns.

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“That’s Life”

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Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood “Nancy & Lee”

Nancy & Lee

In memory of Lee Hazlewood.

This can be hard to find (on CD), but don’t pass it up should you come across it on vinyl: it’s a real psych/period gem and a great introduction to both artists. There’s something magic about Nancy and Lee together on this record, and it’s probably the best record they put out together or alone.

Songs change form, Lee will take it on a weird slant, or Nancy will reflect for awhile over a softer bit of orchestration. It’s not without a few missed tracks, but this is a strange record to begin with, pairing The Chairman of the Board’s smokin’ hot daughter with this ragged-voxed drifter, legendary producer type. There are a few big tracks on here, opening with the righteous You’ve Lost That Lovin Feeling, plus Summer Wine, a cookin’ version of Jackson, and most out there of all, the enigmatic and wonderful Some Velvet Morning. But there are other gems on here too like Sand and Sundown, Sundown. This is a great album for Scott Walker fans.

Also the liner notes on the back!

Don’t mistake this record for Nancy & Lee Three. In fact, if you can’t seem to find it in the bins, take a look on iTunes, where they also have Nancy & Lee Again. I found this record out in the wild pretty soon after finding out about it, so it couldn’t be too hard. Oh, and check out (aptly named) Some Velvet Blog, where you can get an ear on Velvet Morning.

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“Summer Wine”

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The Poets “Scotland’s No. 1 Group”

Scotland’s No. 1  Group

The Poets were one of Scotland’s top rock groups during the mid 1960’s. The above disc is a collection of singles (all 6 of their official singles) and rough hewn studio outtakes. The singles play like an album because most of them were recorded between 1965 to 1966. Of the studio outtakes there is one aborted single in decent studio fidelity and a handful of rough, garage blues numbers that were recorded before their singles.

It’s a shame this great band never had the opportunity to record an album, they never did record a bad song and were loaded with talent. Now We’re Thru was their first single released back in 1964 during the original, first wave of the British Invasion. It was a minor key gem with awkward vocals that reached England’s top 30. None other than John Lennon sat up and took note, claiming the single was “weird” and original. The flip, There Are Some, was another strong sob rocker highlighted by piano and good drum work.

In early 1965 they released their second single, which was even better. That’s The Way It’s Got To Be began with throbbing fat bass lines and is a great powerful mod rocker that ends with some sizzling maracas. The b-side, was I’ll Cry With The Moon, an excellent, offbeat 12-string acoustic song with strange percussion. At this point, George Gallacher, founder and principal songwriter, was frustrated with the band’s lack of success. Their records were mostly originals (they just covered one song) and of a consistently high standard. I’ll Keep My Pride, Some Things I’ll Forget , I Am So Blue and I’ll Come Home are all first-rate British Invasion minor key compositions similar to that of another underrated mid 60’s band, the Zombies.

The Poet’s 5th single was their last hurrah with George Gallacher. The optimistic, promising I’ll Come Home was a departure from their moody, gloomy approach and it was backed by their legendary Baby Don’t Do It cover. This b-side was tremendous and in terms of originality it may even eclipse the Isley Brothers’ and Marvin Gaye’s versions. It’s got everything a great mid 60’s rock single should have: thumping drums, dramatic 12-string guitar runs and nervous, passionate vocals by Gallacher. This song is stronger than 99% of the cheap punk imitations it spawned during the 1977-81 era. The Poet’s soldiered on for one last single after Gallacher’s departure. In 1967, they released the double sided psychedelia masterpiece, Wooden Spoon/In Your Tower. The A-side was a storming mod rocker with an acid tinged fuzz guitar solo while the B-side had some strange renaissance-like flute, fat raga guitar riffs and smashing cymbals. All in all, it was a great way to end the career of this legendary Scottish cult band.

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“Baby Don’t Do It”

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