Author Archive

Blo “Chapter One”

Chapter One

Blo (based out of Lagos) grew out of the Clusters, a popular late 60s group who made ends meet by covering Beatles and Stones tunes.  Before long people began refering to the Clusters as the “Nigerian Beatles” but the group also soaked up the sounds of Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, and local hero Fela Kuti.  To make a long story short things did not work out for the Clusters who included future Blo members Akintobi and guitarist/songwriter Berkley Jones.  In 1972 Blo made their Christmas debut at Lagos City Stadium and by all accounts blew supporting act Osibisa off stage.   Lagos City Stadium housed 10,000 vistors strong, all who were chanting “we want Blo” that day – a trio they had never seen before!

Press reports began describing Blo as Africa’s first real rock band. Following the explosive live performance at Lagos City EMI issued Chapter One in the summer of 73.  At the time nothing sounded quite like it.   The album is an extraordinary mixture of funky James Brown beats and spacey psychedelic guitar jams (check out the superb instrumental “Miss Sagitt”).    Album opener “Preacherman” combines both these styles into something really far out and classic.  The spiraling acid guitar solos and shuffling drum work really stand out on this cut. Brilliant.  Every song is worth listening to multiple times but I’ll single out all 6 minutes of “Don’t” for it’s hazy, hypnotic vibe that’s similiar to early Can.

Sadly, Blo never really broke out of Nigeria despite having the look, superior chops, and an excellent batch of songs.

edit: Chapter One is now available on CD through Mr. Bongo (with a vinyl edition due by the end of this month). They’ve also posted the full album as a video playlist here.

mp3: Preacherman

:D CD Reissue | 2013 | Mr Bongo | buy here ]
:) Vinyl Reissue | 2013 | Mr Bongo | buy here ]
8-) Spotify link | listen ]

Public Nuisance “Gotta Survive”

Gotta Survive is an essential reissue from Jack White’s Third Man Records label. If Public Nuisance is remembered today at all it’s due to their appearance on many of the day’s psychedelic ballroom posters.  This group never released a single or LP in their lifetime but recorded two albums worth of material that sat on the shelf for over 30 years. Frantic Records first released a fine double disc anthology of Public Nuisance’s material which was followed up by this vinyl only reissue in 2012.

The bulk of Gotta Survive was recorded in 1967-1968. A precursor group called Moss & the Rocks released a mediocre garage folk-rock 45 in 1966 but the music on this record is much more experimental and exciting – garage psych with detours into folk-rock, hard rock and sunshine pop. Listening to Gotta Survive makes me think of a band caught between the primitive garage rock era (the Seeds, Music Machine, etc.) and the heavier, hard rock sounds that emerged in 1968 (think Blue Cheer or the underrated Yesterday’s Children). Public Nuisance also had a knack for catchy melodies and pop hooks as heard on the atmospheric “Sabor Thing.”  They were a versatile group whose songs have inventive arrangements and pop friendly melodies.

Tracks like the churning “Thoughts,” “Strawberry Man,” and “Magical Music Box” show the group wasn’t afraid to take a chance in the studio.  “Magical Music Box,” a punchy rocker with Who/Move-like energy (without sounding like either of these groups) and fuzz propelled guitar work is a particular standout.  “Small Faces,” a track Jack White has often covered live, is the album’s true classic – a powerful guitar heavy monster that has to rank as one of the best songs in the garage psych bag.  “Ecstasy”, another gem, is the group at their most psychedelic and complex, featuring flutes, harpsichord and morose vocals.

Had Gotta Survive been released in 1968 it would have ranked as one of the better psych albums of it’s day.  Hopefully Third Man Records will offer up the group’s remaining material on a second vinyl installment.  Public Nuisance may have been one of the era’s best kept secrets (hard luck acts) but it’s good to know that people still appreciate this music 45 years on.

mp3: Magical Music Box
mp3: Holy Man

:) Reissue | 2012 | Third Man Records | buy from third man ]

Crystal Syphon “Family Evil”

America’s great lost acid rock band.  Who knew California band Crystal Syphon had an album’s worth of material sitting in the can waiting to be heard by 60s psych rock fans?  This has to be not only one of the best reissues of 2012 but also one of the best archival classic rock discoveries of the year.

Crystal Syphon’s origins can be traced back to the Morlochs, a garage band who formed in 1965 and hailed from the San Joaquin Valley area.  As the years went by (and after several personnel changes) the Morlochs changed their name to Crystal Syphon.  Crystal Syphon played the S.F. live circuit with some of the era’s biggest names while the major labels expressed serious interest in this promising, up-and-coming group.  As the 60’s passed into the 70’s, no album or single appeared and the group members moved on to other projects, effectively putting an end to Crystal Syphon. Roaratorio did a superb job in assembling this excellent LP (vinyl only release), which was cobbled together from studio sessions, demos and live shows.  It’s arguably a fuller picture then any studio LP could give the listener, as all sides of the band are on full display, whether it be in the studio or on the live stage.

Does the music live up to the hype? You bet. The earliest tracks have a rawer sound than the later material, which is clearly influenced by big time S.F. bands Quicksilver Messenger Service, The Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane.  “In My Mind,” recorded in 1968, sounds like a lost outtake from the first Quicksilver album.  The deep vocals and vibrating guitar tones strongly recall the mighty Quicksilver Messenger Service.  No matter, it’s an excellent track that could have easily made any psych compilation you care to name.  “Marcy, Your Eyes” and “Paradise” two of the earliest cuts from 1967, have thick garage fuzz, naive teen vocals, and cascading acid guitar work – outstanding.  The last 15 seconds of “Paradise” are especially great.  The guitarist starts playing eastern scales and just when you think they are about to explode into the most intense raga solo you’ve ever heard the song ends – what a clever trick!  Other highlights are the menacing acid rock of “Fuzzy and Jose,” “Family Evil” and “Winter Is Cold.”  These cuts are longer, slow paced and closer in sound to Jefferson Airplane and Quicksilver Messenger Service – lots of acid guitar work, creative arrangements and spacey vocals.  “Try Something Different” is another earlier cut with a lilting folk-rock sound that recalls Buffalo Springfield in it’s guitar figures.

Every cut on Family Evil is worthwhile.  There’s nearly 50 minutes of great psych rock here – so not only a significant discovery but an absolute must own for any 60s rock fan.

mp3: Paradise
mp3: In My Mind

:) Reissue |2012 | Roaratorio | buy from roaratorio ]
8-) Spotify link | listen ]

 

PODCAST 27 Garage,Psych

 

Chicken Walk (early 1960s) – Hasil Adkins
Chills (1959) – Joe South
Do I Figure, In Your Life (1968-) – Creepy John Thomas
To Be Free (1967) – The Status Quo
Willow Wood (1968-) – West Coast Consortium
One Grain Of Sand (1972) – Wizz Jones
It’s All A Dream (1967/1968-) – Michael Yonkers
Mystic Eyes (1966) – The Mystic Tide
Love And Obey (1966) – The Plague (from Canada, not the Fenton group)

Do The Skunk
 (1966) – The Skunks
A Heart Is Made Of Many Things (1966) – The New Colony Six
Where Have You Been (1964) – The Searchers
Don’t Play With Me (1966) – The 3rd Evolution
Drummer Of Your Mind (1966/1967) – United Travel Service
Little Girl, Little Boy (1968-) – The Odyssey
Sister Marie (1968-) – Harry Nilsson
Some People (1969/1970) – The Nazz
Never Another (1968 w/o horns) – 13th Floor Elevators
Long Years In Space (1968-) – Neigb’rhood Childr’n

Download: Podcast27.mp3
To subscribe to this podcast: http://therisingstorm.net/podcast.xml [?]

PODCAST 26 Garage,Pop

 

I Want to Hold Your Hand (1968-) – The Moving Sidewalks
Naughty Girl (1965/1966) – The Missing Links
Sad and Lonely and Blue (1966) – The Easybeats
I’m On Fire (1968-) – The Easybeats
Calm Me Down (1966) – The Human Expression

Her Face (1966/1967) – Steve Ellis and the Starfires
You Lied To Me Before (1966) – The Treez
You’re Too Young (1965) – The Vagrants
I’ll Come To You (1967) – The Elite
Gone To The Moon (1966) – The Savages
Out of the Question (1967 – from the Future LP) – The Seeds

Download: Podcast26.mp3
To subscribe to this podcast: http://therisingstorm.net/podcast.xml [?]

Country Funk “Country Funk”

Country Funk was a folk-rock/country-rock group whose members at one point played in earlier psych pop combo Adam.   The group materialized in Los Angeles but then moved out to Boston where they played all the well known venues of the day. Country Funk shared the stage with many of rock’s biggest names and because of their affiliation with Beantown, the group are usually remembered (unfairly so) as part of the Bosstown Sound.   From 1968 to 1970/1971 they recorded quite a bit of studio material, enough to fill out two albums.  In 1970, Polydor would release Country Funk’s only album in a generic blue sleeve with a black and white photo of the band.  While no classic, Country Funk is still a very good album (kind of a mini gem) thats appeal lies in its consistency (no weak tracks) and timeless sound – think Buffalo Springfield, The Byrds, CSN&Y and Poco.  The group clearly had a knack for blending the blues, country, hard rock, folk, and psych into something that’s refreshing.  The members of Country Funk could also play and write with the best of them, never overextending their songs or falling prey to dated 60s cliches.

The album opens with “Apart of Me,” a track that was issued as a single in 1970 and some years down the line, sampled by alternative pop star Beck Hansen.  Clearly one of the LP’s highlights, this excellent track begins as a care-free country folk-rocker, exploding midway through into a soulful fuzz guitar rave-up.  The vocals are a dead ringer for Stephen Stills circa Buffalo Springfield Again – definitely a compliment here.  Other winners are the trippy folk-rock of “Phoebe,” a track that recalls David Crosby’s work on the Byrds’ Younger Than Yesterday and the spritely country-rock of “A Way To Settle Down.”  Country Funk tempers the album’s softer moments with hard edged fuzz tone guitar workouts such as “Another Miss” and “When I’m Without You.”  These cuts give Country Funk an attractive classic rock/psychedelic edge.  Also, songs like “Poor Boy,” “For Me,” and “Really My Friend” deliver the classic West Coast style folk-rock goods with aching melodies and harmonies to spare – not to mention tambourines and fine, world weary vocals.  Given the quality of Country Funk, one wishes the group had stuck around long enough to record a follow up to this very promising LP.

Solid songs and thoughtful songwriting, succinct guitar solos, good use of fuzzbox and spirited vocals make Country Funk one of the finer, unsung American LPs of it’s time.  Its been reissued no less than three times but our nod goes to British label Slipstream, who is now offering a group authorized version of Country Funk, which includes the single sides by precursor group Adam.  In addition, CDBaby offers a CDR version of Country Funk on their website while the Fallout reissue from a few years back is an unauthorized vinyl rip bootleg.

mp3: For Me
mp3: Apart Of Me

:D Reissue | 2012 | Slipstream | buy from slipstream ]
:) Original | 1970 | Polydor | search ebay ]

Coloured Balls “Ball Power”

Coloured Balls were one of the best pure rock n roll groups to emerge from the early 70’s Australian scene.  Sure, The Saints and Radio Birdman stayed together longer and released a slew of fine albums during the punk era but it was the Coloured Balls who pioneered the proto punk sound earlier in the decade.  Their wildcard was Lobby Loyde (also known as John Barrie Lyde), Australia’s premier guitar hero (detractors must check out his live at Sunbury performance of “G.O.D.” – from Aztec’s Ball Power reissue) whose pivotal roles in beat/psych/blues rock groups The Purple Hearts, The Wild Cherries and Billy Thorpe’s Aztecs made him a major home-grown star down under.  Ball Power is not only the Coloured Balls’ greatest album but also the finest music of Lobby Loyde’s long, fabled career.

Ball Power, released in 1973, favorably recalls the latter day MC5 or the Pink Fairies from their great Kings of Oblivion LP.  The best moments on Ball Power are transcendent.  “Human Being,” the album’s lone classic, is a blistering hard rock masterpiece notable for its crunching buzz saw guitars and bludgeoning rhythm section.  “That’s What Mama Said” is essentially “Human Being” drawn out to 10 minutes but this time around Coloured Balls utilize a foot-controlled Theremin and lots of guitar soloing/guitar noise (progressive raunch).  Other good ones are “Won’t You Make Up Your Mind,” which sounds like anarchy in the UK before there was such a thing, the powerful boogie rock of “Hey! What’s Your Name” and “Something New,” a hard psych number with phased guitar work.  Even the lesser cuts hold up quite well and if anything, serve to display the group’s diversity and unique talents.  “B.P.R.,” a strong blues instrumental, gives Lobby Loyde room to stretch out and solo while their rendition of “Whole Lotta Shakin'” rocks as hard as any version I’ve heard of this classic.  From beginning to end Ball Power is an excellent album that’s mandatory listening – all the performances have that road-honed tightness and tense, proto punk edge.

Several years back Aztec Music reissued this lost classic on cd but since then its become very expensive and increasingly hard to find.  Coloured Balls would release two other flawed but worthy albums, 1974’s Heavy Metal Kids and 1976’s First Last Supper (1972 recordings).

mp3: Won’t You Make Up Your Mind
mp3: Hey! What’s Your Name

:) Original |  1973 | EMI | search ebay ]
:D Reissue | 2006 | Aztec | buy here ]

The Common People “Of The People/By The People/For The People From”

A well known rarity, The Common People’s Of The People/By The People/For The People is one of the more collectable Capitol releases.  Prior to this LP, the group released two primitive garage singles which are very good but nearly impossible to find.

For many years very little was known about the Common People.  Terrascope’s interview with lead singer Denny Robinett cleared up many unanswered questions regarding the band’s existence and roots.  The Common People hailed from Baldwin Park California (LA area) and played the local club circuit.  “Lord” Tim Hudson, of Lollipop Shoppe and Seeds fame, managed this mysterious psychedelic outfit.  Of The People/By The People/For The People is an interesting mixture of garage pop and orchestrated psych whose reputation has soared in recent years – it’s a bit overrated to these ears but generally a worthwhile LA psych rock trip.

The first three tracks of the album were arranged by David Axelrod and are an amazing mixture of swirling strings and raw lead vocals.  The string arrangements mesh seamlessly with Denny Robinett’s vocals, creating a sound which was very unique for 1969 – an unsettling amalgam of folk-rock, psychedelia, and orchestrated pop.  Had the whole album been arranged and produced by David Axelrod it might have turned out to be a psychedelic masterpiece but unfortunately, the budget tightened up, forcing the band to abandon its original vision for something that’s more run-of-the-mill and less exciting.  It’s even been suggested that Axelrod might have pulled out of these sessions because his wife suffered serious injuries from a car accident.  In the end, the group was forced to move on and complete the album without him.  Most of the remaining tracks are solid garage pop numbers.  The low points are two generic horn rock numbers and one despicable novelty tracked titled, “They Didn’t Even Go To The Funeral.”  By no means a classic or masterpiece, Of The People/By The People/For The People is a flawed but worthy album – a solid psych rock record that will satisfy many fans of the genre.  The buzzing organs and occasional fuzz guitar of  “Why Must I Be,” “Take From You,” “Land of Day” and “Go Every Way” deliver the garage goods in a downbeat, moody fashion.  The album’s key strengths are its mood, Robinett’s gruff vocals, and Axelrod’s soaring string arrangements/production on the LP’s first three tracks.

Denny Robinett claims that Capital never promoted Of The People/By The People/For The People and that it “was never available for sale in any store.”  Australian label Ascension and Fallout have recently reissued this disc on cd.  The Fallout reissue includes the early singles but is a “grey area” release.

Read Terrascope’s interview with Denny Robinett for more information on The Common People.

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“Soon There’ll Be Thunder”

:) Original | 1969 | Capitol | search ebay ]
Please do not purchase the illegal Fallout pressing of this record.

Ticket “Awake”

Ticket’s Awake is one of the best classic rock/psych albums from a surprisingly fertile late 60s/early 70s New Zealand scene.  Ticket’s roots trace back to several late 60s blues rock and pop groups: the Challenge, the Blues Revival and the Jamestown Union. Despite hitting the top 20 with the funky rural rocker “Country High” and recording two albums, Ticket’s popularity never broke out of the Aussie/New Zealand territories.

Awake’s contents were made up of several single sides issued in 1971 and some new studio material that date from 1972.  Hendrix, Cream and Traffic are the primary influences heard on Awake but Ticket’s funky rhythm section, rural overtones and complex song structures make them a distinct entity. The vocals of Trevor Tombleson are a fine mixture of Steve Winwood soul and Jack Bruce grit.  This vocal style is showcased on the group’s 8 minute psych gem “Dream Chant,” which is arguably the group’s finest moment on plastic.  “Broken Wings” and “Angel On My Mind” are strong Hendrix influenced originals with excellent guitar work courtesy of Eddie Hansen.   Hansen takes the spotlight on “Highway of Love” and “Reign Away,” both of which feature funky guitar licks and impressive soloing.  Two and a half minutes into “Reign Away” Hansen unleashes a devastating feedback drenched psych solo that is worth the price of admission alone.  Most of the tracks exceed the 5 minute mark but the group never succumb to aimless jamming – this band was as tight as a drum and knew exactly where to take the song.  A “must own” if early Mighty Baby, Cream, the Jimi Hendrix Experience or Traffic are your cup of tea – every track is a winner.

Aztec Music reissued this classic Kiwi acid rock album on cd in 2010.  It’s a bit pricey ($25 – $30) but well worth the money as an original vinyl copy of Awake will set you back $200 – $300.

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“Reign Away”

:D Reissue | 2010 | Aztec | buy ]
:) Original | 1972 | Atlantic | search ebay ]

PODCAST 25 Southbound Train

trs podcast

Running Time: 59:00 | File Size 81 MB
Download: .mp3
To subscribe to this podcast: http://therisingstorm.net/podcast.xml [?]

1.  Yukon Railroad – The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band – 1970

2.  That’s Alright By Me (Previously Unreleased) – Gene Clark – 1968

3.  Southbound Train – Graham Nash & David Crosby – 1972

4.  Just Yesterday – Weird Herald – 1967

5.  Rosana (Previously Unreleased) – Hearts And Flowers – 1968

6.  Little Boy Blue – Charlie Daniels Band – 1970

7.  Banjo Press Conference – Beachwood Sparks – 2001

8.  Strange Ways – Cherokee (The Robbs) – 1971

9.  Coalminers – Uncle Tupelo – 1992

10.  Birmingham – The Camel’s Hump (post Mike And The Ravens) – 1969/1970

11.  Homemade Songs – Bobby Charles – 1972

12.  Beware Of Time – The Corvettes – 1969

13.  Scorpio Woman – Mordicai Jones (aka Bobby Howard with Link Wray) – 1973

14.  Nothing At All – Tim Dawe – 1969/1970

15.  Modessa – Bluebird – 1969/1970

16.  Sweet Mama – Blue Mountain Eagle – 1969

17.  Brokedown Palace (live) – The Grateful Dead – 1970