Archive for November, 2009

PODCAST 17 Classic Rock,Country


Running Time: 51:06 | File Size 70.2 MB
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1.  Going Down The Road Feeling Bad by Woody Guthrie (1944 – The Asch Recordings Vol. 1)

2.  Come See About Me by Don Covay (1965 – Mercy!)

3.  Experiment In Metaphysics by Perry Leopold (1970 – Experiment In Metaphysics)

4.  You Are My One by Michael Nesmith (1972 – Tantamount To Treason)

5.  The Bells of Rhymney by The Byrds (1965 – Mr. Tambourine Man)

6.  Go-Go Girls by Sam the Sham & The Pharaohs (1965 – Wooly Bully)

7.  Gypsy Cowboy by The New Riders Of The Purple Sage (1972 – Gypsy Cowboy)

8.  When My Baby Left Me by Sid King And The Five Strings (1956 – Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight)

9.  Out of Jail (Stevie’s Tune) by Louie and the Lovers (2009 – The Complete Recordings)

10.  Draggin the Line by Tommy James (1971 – Christian of the World)

11.  Sometime Ago (Raga Version) by The Lemon Drops (1967 – Sunshine Flower Power reissue)

12.  Down On The Farm by Big Al Downing (1958 – Rockin’ Bones: 1950s Punk And Rockabilly Boxset)

13.  Make Up Your Mind by The Spencers (1968 single – Tuff and Stringy Sessions: Clarence White)

14.  Lost by Lowell George & The Factory (1966 – Lightning-Rod Man compilation)

15.  Crack In Your Door by Little Feat (1971 – Little Feat)

16.  Here We Are In The Years by Neil Young (1969 – Neil Young)

Skip Battin “Skip”


Byrds historians would have you believe that Cecil Ingram Parsons III was the squarest peg ever to occupy one of the legendary band’s round holes. Not a bit of it: that honour has to go to Clyde “Skip” Battin, who held down the bass chair from 1969 till the breakup of the band in 1972. Progeny of Italian immigrant parents, Battin was born in 1934, which makes him a hoary 35 years old when he joined McGuinn & Co. In fact he was the oldest Byrd ever, by eight years. Further, whilst all previous Byrds had cut their teeth on Greenwich Village folk or Nashville bluegrass in the early sixties, Skip’s musical genesis came in the novelty music era which followed the initial surge of rock’n’roll in the fifties. With his heroes being Fats Domino and Tom Lehrer, it’s no surprise that his forte turned out to be witty narrative songs with a piano spine, mostly written with assistance from maverick lyricist Kim Fowley. If you’re familiar with the moderately successful single “America’s Great National Pastime” taken from Farther Along, you’ll get the essence. Surprisingly, in the latter days when all but McGuinn were merely salaried Byrds members, the Leader allowed a handful of Battin’s distinctly oddball songs on to the final three albums.

Even before the breakup, Skip obtained a contract with Signpost Records of LA on the strength of “Pastime”, and his first solo album, Skip, emerged rapidly. Battin handles piano duties as well as bass, and his voice is warm and husky. All the Byrds’ final lineup contributed, including McGuinn in amusing circumstances: the track “Captain Video” is a delightful pastiche of the Byrds singing Dylan, and McGuinn guests on 12-string Rickenbacker whilst Skip himself sings the lyrics dedicated to Roger, who allegedly never realised that they were about him. Clarence White is everywhere, including some of his best-ever B-Bender wailing on “The Ballad Of Dick Clark”, more of the same plus amazing mandolin on “Four Legs Are Better Than Two” and what sounds like Fender electric mandolin on “Valentino”, providing an appropriately Italian flavour. In fact much of the record combines Bakersfield country licks with typically Italian polka two-step rhythms, as Skip wears his two cultural hearts on his sleeve. Towards the end the pace slackens for the wistful, witty paean to a 1940s baseball team, “St Louis Browns”, on which Clarence flatpicks superb dobro licks, and the closing, gentle “My Secret Life” in which Battin artfully lays his own soul bare.

The late ’72 timing of the album was not good; Skip’s touring commitments with the ailing Byrds meant that it was barely promoted, and sales were poor. Nonetheless, a second album was mooted by Signpost, by now part of Atlantic, to be entitled Topanga Skyline, but Clarence White was killed the day before recording was due to begin. It went ahead assisted by members of Country Gazette plus Al Perkins, but the heart had gone out of the project and the completed tapes were shelved. Skip went on to serve with New Riders Of The Purple Sage and the reformed Burritos, but his two other solo albums were released in the 1980s solely in Italy, to which he made frequent visits; these featured some songs sung in Italian, and remain rare collectors’ items. In Sept 2009 Skip’s son Brent financed the belated release of Topanga Skyline on Sierra Records as a fortieth anniversary commemoration of Skip’s first appearance with the Byrds. For an affectionate Skip Battin tribute website, go to

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“Four Legs Are Better Than Two”

:D CD Reissue | 2003 | Collectors Choice | at amazon ]
:) Vinyl | 1972 | Signpost | ebay ]

Morning “Morning”


Morning’s debut was released by Vault in 1970.  Thankfully, Wounded Bird Records has reissued this long lost album for the first time on cd.   Morning is full of dazzling performances, making it one of the mandatory LPs in the rural-rock/American roots/country-rock field.  While CSNY, Poco, and Band influences are unavoidable, this record is by no means derivative.  The band had its roots in several interesting 60s pop/garage bands, Wind and Moorpark Intersection being the most notable. These two groups would release a few decent 45’s in the late 60’s that are well worth tracking down.  The debut lineup looks something like this:  Barry Brown (guitar/drums/vocals), Jim Hobson (piano/organ/vocals), Jay Lewis (guitars/banjo/vocals), Jim Kehn (drums/guitar/vocals), Bruce Wallace (electric bass/string bass), and Terry Johnson (guitar).

Morning opens with “Angelena,” a rural rocker with heartfelt vocals, gospel tinged keyboards, and an appealing wide open, outdoor sound.  “Time,” another great track, is similar in feel and style, augmented by rich keyboards and moody vocals.  Both tracks are vaguely reminiscent of the Band’s early work – definitely a good thing here.  While country-rock/rural-rock may be the group’s main forte, Morning managed to record a few good psych tracks for their debut.  “Sleepy Eyes” stands out as their best piece of pure psychedelia.   Dreamy, with excellent dive bomb fuzz guitar work and lazy harmonies, this cut is great listening.  It’s amazing these guys never found any sort of success, whether it be underground or top 40.  Other winners are the beautiful CSNY-like country weeper “Dirt Roads” and the superb country-rocker “Roll ‘Em Down,” which sounds like it could have easily been a top 40 radio hit.  Every track on Morning has something to offer, whether it beautiful harmonies or fluid West Coast-style guitar leads, it all sounds terrific – including the group’s sharp, professional songwriting.  Also, while many of these tracks are quiet and tranquil, the band were definitely skilled musicians as heard on the tight group jam “And I’m Gone.”  If you’ve worn out copies of Pickin’ Up The Pieces or Deja Vu be sure to snatch up Morning, it’s a near lost classic with plenty of great songs to spare.

With a little effort and some luck, good original copies of Morning can be found cheap.  I spent $15 on a NM original copy of this LP (to my knowledge they never made another vinyl repress) – it sounds great on the turntable!  Morning would release an accomplished sophmore effort, Struck Like Silver that is also highly recommended.  For more information please check out Nick Warburton’s excellent essay on the band.

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“Sleepy Eyes”

Early band Moorpark Intersection included future Morning members Jay Lewis, Jim Kehn and Terry Johnson.   Below is their 1968 Davide Axelrod produced single “I Think I’ll Just Go And Find Me A Flower.” This track can be found on Soft Sounds For Gentle People Volume 1.

:D CD Reissue | 2009 | Wounded Bird | amazon ]
:) Vinyl | 1970 | Vault | ebay ]

Tony Joe White “The Train I’m On”

The Train I'm On

Tony Joe White’s The Train I’m On is one of those records that is just too damn good to be kept a secret. Keeping real on what may be his finest moment, the LP is a sweet and languid roots rock triumph.

“I’ve Got A Thing About You Baby” is sparse and smooth, fitted with just enough details to keep your ears addicted to the feel—Elvis himself took this one to number 5. Like contemporaries Bobby CharlesLonnie MackDale Hawkins, and Link Wray, Tony Joe was one of those swamp-rockers digging up roots in the 70s. On Train, his second album for Warner Bros, the production is stripped though not to the bone. A full band arrangement fills up just about every track, but thankfully you can always hear the spine. Harmonica, piano, and organ assist on dynamic “The Family” and raucous percussion with hyperactive jaw harp push “Beouf River Road” where tunes like “Sidewalk Hobo” need little more than a guitar and that voice. The slightly absurd “Even Trolls Love Rock And Roll” approaches some grimy alley-funk, while “As The Crow Flies” and “300 Pounds of Hongry” are as muddy as I’ll ever need.

It’s true “Polk Salad Annie,” TJW’s huge 1969 hit, kept the paychecks coming in, but this kind of record is how Tony Joe ought to be celebrated.

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“I’ve Got A Thing About You Baby”

:D CD Reissue | 2002 | Sepia Tone | at amazon ]
:) Vinyl | 1972 | Warner | search ebay ]
8-) Spotify link | listen ]

Jericho “Jericho”


Has classic rock radio made a bad name for itself because the music doesn’t wear well with age, or is it because they keep playing the same old shit? In a perfect world, classic rock gems like Jericho would no longer be neglected by the airwaves and listeners would abound in new sounds from a previous era. Just imagine your local classic rock station slipped in one cut off this record, in place of the usual barrage of Zep and Skynyrd repeats; there could easily be a demand for this sweet sounding, authentic-as-it-gets, yet unissued and unplayed recording.

Jericho members Frank DiFelice, Denny Gerrard, Fred Keeler, Gordon Fleming hailed from Canada and recorded this one-off at the famous Bearsville studio in Woodstock, with engineering and production by Todd Rundgren. These guys were a part of the same scene as Jesse Winchester and The Band, sharing Rundgren as producer and art director Bob Cato between this and Stage Fright, and the music falls right in line, albeit with a harder edge.

They bust down the door with “True Fine Girl,” sounding like the Band on steroids with overdriven organ and screeching guitars notching a next-level sound. “SS #4” even sounds a little like hard rock “Cripple Creek,” but the key here isn’t loud guitar rippin but a loose knit down-home groove. There are nasty prog moves and killer Clavinet shredding on “Cheater Man;” Gordon Fleming really steals the show on keys, often overshadowing the guitar leads (a rare feat for keyboardists). “Baby’s Gone Again” is a blues that shuffles harder than Cream and “Backtrack” is a killer Edgar Winter style instrumental with gnarly parts played thru Garth Hudson’s own Leslie speaker and Clav. I’m a sucker for “Goin’ To The Country,” a goofy, stoned country groover with wowy Moog bass replacing the “jug” line. The vocalist shines on this little number (vocals are really great all the way through, actually) that definitely stands out from the rest.

One track, “Make It Better,” would score a minor hit, but Jericho would be largely forgotten, unissued since its original release. I do find that this record tends to push a little too hard; it’s kind of relentlessly hard-rockin. But it deserved much more than it got.

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:) Original Vinyl | 1971 | Bearsville / Ampex | search ebay ]

uReview: Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols

Nevermind The Bollocks

We’ve been on about some great albums from 1977 and I wanted to hear your thoughts on this big fella. Are Never Mind The Bollocks and the Sex Pistols really worthy of their reputation?

12345678910 (94 votes, average: 7.62 out of 10)

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“Pretty Vacant”

:) Vinyl | 1977 | Virgin | search ebay ]
;) MP3 Album | download at amzn ]

Quatermass “Quatermass”


When the British Blues movement morphed into the riff-rock wing of progressive music, the focus of most groups remained the heroic lead guitarist. It was a brave outfit that elected to do without the fretboard god altogether. Having been persuaded by the success of Keith Emerson’s guitarless latterday Nice that it could work, a select few elected to structure themselves as a trio comprising a showboating keyboard player, a punchy drummer and a bassist who could handle lead vocals. Emerson recruited Greg Lake and Carl Palmer into his eponymous ensemble; Dave Stewart salvaged Egg from the remains of his school band Uriel, sans Steve Hillage; and three veterans from the British Beat Boom came together as Quatermass. One of these three acts would go forward to worldwide acclaim and the sickly smell of excess, the other two to a brief second-division career and oblivion.

Quatermass could have been as big as ELP; they had the chops, the experience and the contacts. Bassist/vocalist John Gustafson had been in the Big Three, the Liverpool guitar trio that all the other Cavern/Hamburg bands looked up to for their musicianship. Drummer Mick Underwood had served time with Joe Meek’s legendary house band, the Outlaws, alongside Richie Blackmore. Keyboardist Peter Robinson had backed hugely popular R’n’B shouter Chris Farlowe. All three were also in-demand studio sessioneers. They came together in a late lineup of Episode Six, the band that had provided a further two-fifths of Deep Purple, and decided to stay together when the Six finally folded. Taking their name from the classic sci-fi TV show, and rapidly signing to premier UK prog-rock label Harvest, their first album appeared in May 1970 . . . and despite strong reviews, undeniable quality and a splendid gatefold sleeve by Hipgnosis (of Pink Floyd fame), disappeared just as rapidly from the shelves. Its poor sales, an unsuccessful US tour and demand for their services from other nascent bands ensured that there wouldn’t be another. Quatermass broke up in April ’71.

Forty years later the reissued, extended album still exudes quality. Gus was a funky, syncopative Fender bassist with a strong cock-rock voice in the Rodgers/Gillan mould. Robinson combined fruity blues and soul licks with a sly jazzy atonality and just enough classical nous not to become overbearing like the ELP mainman, whilst freely overdubbing Hammond organ, electric and acoustic piano, Mellotron and Moog. Underwood provided the solid, John Bonham-style groove that held the three musicians tightly together. The whole had a no-nonsense rocky edge distinctly uncommon in keyboard-centric prog. The album mixes short, precise three-minute songs like the soulful single “Black Sheep Of The Family” and the gently psychedelic, harpsichord-led “Good Lord Knows” with eight-minute keyboard workouts typical of the live act, notably the ferocious bluesy soloing on the riff-based “Up On The Ground”, the jazzy, fully-orchestrated block chording on “Laughin’ Tackle” and the ring-modulated funk of the instrumental outtake “Punting”. Robinson’s genuinely exciting yet tasteful keyboard skills, especially on the B-3, ensure that none of these outstay their welcome. Keith Emerson might usefully have taken note.

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“Good Lord Knows”

:D CD Reissue | 1996 | Repertoire | at amazon ]
:) Vinyl | 1970 | Harvest | search ebay ]
8-) Spotify link | listen ]