Monday, February 27, 2006

Hi everybody - another week has passed, bringing Spring a little closer. Where I live, anyway!

German Oak - German Oak (1972)

No, I haven't lost my mind, well not much of it anyway! I know I posted this back in November, but if you remember the rip that I uploaded had an error at the end of track one. Well after much searching and downloading, I finally found another rip of this album that has track one, "Swastika Rising" the way it is on the CD. Honestly it's not much different - the abrupt ending is intentional. But this is such a great album I thought I'd re-post it. Why did I go to all this trouble? Because I care! Edit: forget all that. I found a copy of the CD and this is a fresh rip - the breaks at the end of track 1 are on the disc itself.

Bitrate 320 w/scans Part 1 Part 2

German Oak - Niebelungelied (1972-1976)

So while I'm at it I thought I might as well post this one too. This appears to be a collection of demos, outtakes, maybe practice sessions, I'm not sure - information is scarce. The tracks are named after characters from German folklore, and they are kind of spotty. Some are real good, some not so much. In the end though, this is a pretty cool album - not as cool as their self-titled release, but worth having nonetheless.


Kraan - Kraan (1972)

The debut album by Kraan is as good as any and all of their later efforts. Smooth flowing jazz/krautrock/fusion is the sound established on this release that continues throughout all of the Kraan releases. Much of this one has a distinctive percussion sound that is almost latin! Check the cut "Kraan Arabia" for an example. As with all Kraan albums the recording and sound quality is flawless! Stand out cuts are "M.C. Escher" and the nearly nineteen minute long cut "Head! A proghead and krautrock lovers dream! (


Spermüll - Spermüll (1973)

Sperrmull's only album has all the musical variety you'll ever desire from an early 70's German album - the jolly mandolin tune on "Me And My Girlfriend", Floydian effects on "No Freak Out", Deep Purple-like guitar and organ lines on "Rising Up" and powerful solo work with dynamic arrangements on "Right Now" (the longest track). The rest, "Land Of The Rocking Sun" and "Pat Casey", were more conventional rock songs, and could very well have been the A and B sides to a catchy single (but weren't!). The recordings were done at the Dierks Studio, Stommeln, produced by a certain Chazadu, surely a more famous character appearing under a pseudonym. Sperrmull consisted of: Helmut Krieg (guitar, mandolin, vocals, he also wrote most of the songs), Harald Kaiser (bass, vocals), Reinhold Breuer (drums, percussion) and Peter Schneider (organ, electric piano, synthesizer). Their album is one of the rarest of the whole Brain 1,000-series, mint originals selling for more than 250 DM. In 1989, a limited edition of 1,000 copies (on black Brain) was made available through the influence of Second Battle. This edition sold out quickly, so the album is once again hard to obtain. (


Wild Turkey - Turkey (1972)

This second album from the band formed by ex-Jethro Tull bassist Glenn Cornick ("This Was", "Stand Up" and "Benefit"), is real good straight-ahead bluesy rock, with maybe some progressive leanings, though not many. The nice guitar-work and Cornick's sparse and tasty use of piano are the most dominating elements in their sound, together with Gary Pickford-Hopkins' (ex-Eyes Of Blue) vocals. The opener, "Good Old Days" and "Eternal Mother/The Return" are real good rock tunes as is the instrumental "See You Next Tuesday". "Universal Man" and "Telephone" are both good hard rock tracks, with nothing particular progressive about them. Tracks like "Tomorrow's Friend" and the boogie tune "Ballad of Chuck Stallion and the Mustangs" won't be of much interest if you are mainly a prog fan, but this is still a good example of early 70's rock.

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Ash Ra Tempel - Ash Ra Tempel (1971)

Simply one of the all-time great Krautrock albums, this is the original Ash Ra Tempel lineup with Manuel Göttsching, Hartmut Enke, and Klaus Schulze (who just left Tangerine Dream following the release of "Electronic Meditation"). Still at this point, Schulze was handling the drums, rather than keyboards that he's most famous for. There are only two side-length cuts. "Amboss" is a totally mindblowing guitar-oriented jam and "Traummaschine" (German for "Dream Machine") is a much more relaxed, spooky sounding piece, mostly relying on ambience, with the guitar only rearing its head occasionally. Another mindblowing piece for the total opposite reason as "Amboss". This is truly one of the first Ash Ra Tempel albums you should try, especially because there are no vocals (except for some wordless vocals on "Traummachine" which are rather pleasant). A true must have for all space rock and Krautrock junkies out there! (


Sunday - Sunday (1971)

Although recorded in London, this album of very atmospheric and melodic progressive rock by what seems to be a Scottish crew was only released in Germany. The music is generally very thoughtful and in quite a few places bluesy. Still there is your usual share of guitar solos and organ riffs, at times provoking Beggars Opera at their least arty. The album is undoubtedly as good as most in this class and it is hard to understand why they couldn't secure a UK release. The cover depicts a miraculous painting by Lyonel Feininger, a sure sign of good taste. The opener, “Love Is Life”, is a rambunctious rocker with a relentless drum beat, great dynamic breaks and an underlying organ riff, kicking the doors open in style. “I Couldn’t Face You” is a ballad with an interesting bluesy melody and a piano-organ arrangement reminiscent of Procol Harum. Following the slow melancholy of “Blues Song”, there’s the odd “Man In A Boat”, a psychedelic trip featuring once again Gary Brooker-like Hammond sound – slow-paced and majestic and set to an almost marching beat. Mid-song it resolves into an energetic mid-paced rocker. “Ain’t It A Pity” captures and preserves for posterity the freewheeling spirit of the times perfectly – complete with free-flowing organ, piano and guitar parts and uninhibited, commanding and attention-grabbing vocals. “Tree Of Life” takes the pace down a notch but continues on in much the same style; and tells a story. The most meandering track on this otherwise near-perfect album is “Sad Man Reaching Utopia” – clocking up at 10:51. Almost great, and a shame they didn’t go beyond this debut. The CD was “mastered” from a vinyl copy, as the original master tapes were most likely lost. (Tapestry Of


Blues Magoos - Psychedelic Lollipop (1966)

A Bronx-based quintet, denizens of the Greenwich Village club scene, and originally known by the tres psychedelic moniker the Bloos Magoos, the Blues Magoos made their mark in 1967 with a rousing, full-throttle, sub-literate, psychedelic garage rock single, "(We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet." It wasn't a spacy, pretentious song, nor did it contain vague attempts at hippie-era mysticism, but was rather the kind of simple, direct, infectious rock & roll you could imagine five guys from the Bronx making. With a snotty lead vocal from keyboardist Ralph Scala and some wild-eyed guitar playing courtesy of then-16-year-old Emil "Peppy" Thielheim, America made the Magoos' debut single a Top Ten hit, sending it to number five in January 1967. With this impetus, the band used all the trappings of marketable psychedelia to promote their second album, Psychedelic Lollipop, which, despite the title's obvious pandering, was a fairly cool chunk of psych-garage rock. The album featured trebly, crappy-sounding guitars, a whiny Farfisa organ, yelled vocals, and a rhythm section that shelved nuance for thudding simplicity. A great example of mid-60's American psychedelic garage rock.


Arzachel - Arzachel (1969)

This spacey psychedelic album is notable for the involvement of Steve Hillage. Musically it's at times a little over the top. But, the opening cut, "Garden Of Earthly Delights" is of interest and "Azathoth" has a rich 'church' organ backing. On side two "Clean Innocent Fun" previews Hillage's fine guitar work and "Metempsychosis" opens full of weirdness and sound effects (which recur at regular intervals throughout) before pursuing a similar vein. The latter track, in particular, begs comparison with Pink Floyd around the Saucerful Of Secrets era. Arzachel is a very keyboard-dominated album, featuring some of the most explosive psychedelia by an English group. The sound of sustained keyboard and guitar passages are full blown drawn-out psychedelia of the highest order. (Tapestry Of Delights)


Brainchild - Healing Of The Lunatic Owl (1970)

Lennie Wright from Web and Samurai produced Brainchild's first and only album, so it's no surprise that "Healing of the Lunatic Owl" is in a similar style to both "I Spider" and Samurai's self-titled album. That means early 70's progressive rock dominated by horns and organ. The opener "Autobiography" starts as a straightforward rocker, but turns in the middle into a complex instrumental section that lasts for the rest of the song. Although it's one of the shortest tracks on the album, it sums up nearly every side of the band's music very well. The swinging title-track is one of the highlights, and the structure is really not that far away from "Autobiography", but the track returns to the main part at the end again. The slow and bluesy beat of "Hide From the Dawn" is a bit more basic, but the long instrumental passages and complex arrangements make it well worth listening to. "She's Learning" is the catchiest song on the album, and has almost hit-potential. However, the longest tune is "A Time A Place", featuring dramatic vocal parts mixed with more intricate instrumental parts. "Two Bad Days" is for me the least good song, but the ballad "Sadness of a Moment" is really beautiful, consisting of nothing else than flute, guitar and vocals. And the album finally closes with the excellent instrumental "To "B"". I'm not sure if I would rate this album as high as "I Spider" or "Samurai", but it's still a very good LP worth finding if you enjoy the two mentioned bands or progressive rock with horns in general. (


The Rolling Stones - Beat Beat Beat At The Beeb (1963-1965)

This 2 CD set comprises the long lost session recordings the Rolling Stones made especially for British BBC Radio between 1963 and 1965. They are in chronological order and as complete as possible. Every effort was made to track down the best sources, be it from the BBC archives or from avid fans who taped those shows off the radio in the early 60's. This was necessary since the BBC itself erased most of it's programmes as in those days they were not considered worthwhile enough for preservation! The tapes were equalized, de-noised, de-clicked and speed-corrected in order to make the overall sound quality as perfect as can be. (back cover)

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

OK there it is. While you're downloading, take some time to check out some of the blogs on the link section on the right - I've found some pretty cool stuff on those blogs! See ya!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Hi everybody - I'm posting a day early, but I have a lot to do tomorrow, so let's get on with it! Lotsa good stuff this week, I hope.

Wind - Seasons (1971)

While not particularly krautrock-y, Wind's first album is still a great example of early 70's German progressive rock. At times they sound kind of like a more progressive Deep Purple, the quiter passages reminding of early King Crimson or Pink Floyd. This really is an album with mood swings; thundering, aggressive and powerful, atmospheric, dreamy and melancholic, sometimes within the same song. The most progressive track here is without a doubt the 16-minute "Red Morningbird". The track consists of long, dreamy and atmospheric parts (stuffed with bird-sounds and a spaghetti western harmonica) that get relieved by brutal and powerful heavy-progressive parts. "Dear Little Friend" is on the other hand a pure hard rock track that sounds like Deep Purple at their roughest and most aggressive. A classic of vintage underground prog.


Ikarus - Ikarus (1971)

An obscure but decent one-shot from Germany. Ikarus played progressive rock that sometimes was in the vein of Van Der Graaf Generator. The album opens with the 15-minute "Eclipse". Good and very powerful riffs and themes, but as many other German bands, the vocals could have been better. The sound is dominated by organ, flute, piano, saxophone and guitar. On some parts the band also used some real strings instead of mellotron. "Mesentery" is a great track, and the vocals are far better here than on the first track. "The Raven" is based on a poem by Edgar Allan Poe, and musically this is the most complex and experimental track on the album. The energetic saxophone parts will appeal to any fan of Van Der Graaf Generator. The last track, "Early Bell's Voice", is perhaps the best. It consists mostly of wonderful instrumental parts, and the saxophone playing here sometimes reminds me of Catapilla. The track has a perfect early 70's feel to it, just as the rest of the album. The music should appeal to all fans of 70's prog. (


Nektar - A Tab In The Ocean (1972)

The sidelong title-track has an atmosphere that suits both the title and the cover of the album very well. The production of this track is also quite interesting. It sounds like it's recorded in a big room or hall where Nektar plays in one end of the room and the recording-equipment is placed in the other end, almost giving the track a live feeling. The second side features some of their most memorable riffs. First you have "Desolation Valley" with its completely genius and striking build-up where very quiet and atmospheric vocal-parts builds up to an extremely powerful riff. The other classic here is the Mellotron-driven "King of Twilight" that was later covered by Iron Maiden in the 80's!! "Cryin' in the Dark" is a more standard hard-rock track, but still very good. Nektar always tried something new with each album and they managed to give it their own distinctive sound and signature no matter what progressive rock style they played. In that sense, "A Tab in the Ocean" was probably their heavy-progressive album and
it's a classic of the genre. (


Epsilon - Epsilon (1971)

German underground-prog on the same label as Nektar, and their debut-album does sometimes remind you of a bluesier version of Nektar. Just listen to the opening track "Two-2-II" and you'll hear some of the same sound and atmosphere as in Nektar, but with a more bluesy touch. It's quite enjoyable with lots of good organ and piano-work from their keyboard-player Walter Ortel. "2-Four-4" has soulful vocals, complex organ-parts and even some very baroque-influenced parts. "Everyday's Pain" is a straightforward rocker, not progressive at all but man how rough and cool it sounds! This is a song to play loud. "Before" is an instrumental with some slight jazz-influences, very 70's and with some word-less vocals. The album also includes an attempt at a progressive version of Rolling Stone's classic "Paint it Black" but the result is not all that successful even if it includes lots of complex organ work. "Between Midnight" is a melodic and atmospheric track while "Hurry Up" is just a straightforward boogie-rocker and the least interesting moment here. Not the greatest album ever, but fans of the German underground scene will enjoy this.


Cornucopia - Full Horn (1973)

Cornucopia stood for fantasy, originality and variety. On their only album, "Full Horn", recorded in 1973, Cornucopia played an eccentric fusion rock that was as convincing in the 20-minute suite "Day Of A Daydreambeliever" as in the compact three-minute rock song "Morning Sun". Cornucopia cleverly avoided being too predictable and added their unique, intellectual style to the slowly growing German rock evolution. Responsible for their style was producer Jochen Peterson, a former member of "Ikarus".

The septet met 1972 in Hamburg and consisted of Wolfgang Kause (voc), Wolfgang Bartl (b), Christoph Hardwig (key, g), Wolfgang Gaudes (dr), Kai Hendrik Motler (g), Harry Koch (perc, effects) and Rudy Holzhauer (perc). The "lyrics are worth paying attention to and they have a richness of musical ideas" (Sounds). These ideas mainly sprang from Christoph Hardwig's mind and were brought to perfection by the entire team.

Even in the early stages of the developing German rock scene, Cornucopia embodied the principle of a democratic band and were only marginally influenced by Anglo-American institutions like "Vanilla Fudge" and "Genesis".

"Full Horn" remained Cornucopia's only album. Why the Hamburg band never was as successful as they would have deserved remains open to speculation. One of the reasons for their failure, perhaps, is that Cornucopia did not do enough for their image and had problems accepting the rules of the business. The band insisted on their liberties and only reluctantly fulfilled their promotion duties. They had hoped to get a lot of recognition for "Full Horn", but when it failed to materialise, Cornucopia were so disillusioned that in 1974 they gave up. (


Gypsy - Gypsy (1970)

Gypsy's first release originally was a double album, but total time is only about 66 minutes. This is a unique album, making their style hard to pinpoint because you can hear elements of jazz, progressive rock and pop throughout. Each tune takes on a life and style of it's own. I guess that their creative juices were flowing and they wanted to get everything they could onto a record. I would say that their strength would be their singing harmonies. They use these harmonies quite a bit throughout the album while blending the use of keyboards, piano and guitars throughout their songs. Some tunes are slow, some start slow and build, some rock and some are a combination of all of these styles (the lengthy tunes). They really use the keyboard quite a bit on the album. String instruments are also used. Many of the short songs are catchy when you put it in perspective. Overall a very interesting listen from a mostly forgotten American band.


McChurch Soundroom - Delusion (1971)

McChurch Soundroom is yet another band from the early 70's German underground scene about which today nothing is known, not even the names of the band members. Heavy and bluesy underground progressive rock with lots of flute and organ. The closest comparison would probably be very early Jethro Tull. Anyway, the songwriting is good and the performance is energetic and rocking. All of the tracks here are good. The flute comes to the fore on the two- part instrumental "Trouble", while the title-track and "What are You Doin'" are good heavy-progressive tracks. "Dream of a Drummer" is a good and energetic jam, but it unfortunately also includes a drum-solo. But that's the only weak spot on this album (if you don't care for drum solos!) Probably not an album to everyone's taste, but the good, old and pure '70s feeling is great through the whole album.

EDIT: Got an e-mail from Bob with some info about the band-
"This info comes from the bass player Kurt Hafen

McChurch Soundroom was a Swiss Band from Basel
Sandy McChurch (Sandro Chiesa)....... Vocal, Flute
Heiner Althaus......Guitar
Alain Veltin............Organ
Kurt Hafen.............Bass
Nobbi Jud..............Drums
''Soundroom'' was the Garage of Sandros' Parents
The Lyrics were original from Sandy, Marcel Schwaar did just go
over them for Pilz Records"


Guru Guru - UFO (1970)

Guru Guru's classic debut album has to be one of the definitive moments in the Krautrock chronology. It is a monster work, and one which severely assaults the consciousness with waves of desert scorched guitar lashes along with acid laced, enchantingly amorphous rhythmic pulsing. On first listen the album appears sloppy, disjointed, confused and almost incomprehensible. Further listens will reveal a well of focused, completely intentional creative drive that makes UFO one of Krautrock's most immense sonic statements. Open minded listeners, and fans of the kind of cosmic jamming that typify many of the other guitar oriented Krautrock bands, will no doubt adore the album. While lacking the up-tempo, driving fury of say, Ash Ra Tempel's debut, UFO finds Guru Guru creating hulking, downbeat walls of guitar drenched intensity. Like Black Sabbath on an orgasmic acid trip, the rhythm section shows little regard for set "beats", time signatures and the like, preferring to create bruising heaps of bass grooves and cymbal crashes, speeding up, slowing down and falling completely off the tracks as they see fit. Above this, guitarist Axel Genrich contributes layers of blistering guitar, guiding the band from climax to shivering cataclysm.

Once the initial shock wears off, UFO is actually a thoroughly enjoyable album, though among the more adventurous works in an already pretty "out there" musical climate. Indeed, I might even prefer subsequent albums like Hinten and, in particular, KanGuru on a purely aesthetic level, given their greater compositional cohesiveness and ability to retain a groove. Parts of the title track are a little too empty and cacophonous even for me. That said, UFO remains the band's biggest statement. Hell, how can one help but like an album with a song title like "Der LSD Marsch"?(Greg Northrup


Nick Drake - Pink Moon (1972)

It's widely reported that by the time Nick Drake got around to recording his third and final album, Pink Moon, his already-precarious mental/emotional state had drastically deteriorated. In a deep depression, Drake recorded a brace of solo acoustic tunes, dropped the tape off unannounced at the label's office one day, and that was the last the world at large ever heard of Drake's music. The results of those solo sessions were as harrowing and stark as anything by Robert Johnson or Charley Patton. Enclosed in an inner world of psychological distress, Drake recorded Pink Moon's dispatches from a private hell that was simultaneously terrifying and beautiful. Both the lyrics and the melodic motifs are pared to the bone here, their simplicity making them all the more immediately striking. The most nakedly emotional and disturbing moment is probably "Parasite", a visceral-but-mysterious account of a disconsolate soul roaming through the world in search of succour, with Drake taking the starring role, ultimately offering, "take a look, you may see me in the dirt". This was the end of the road for Nick Drake in more ways than one, but just the beginning for the scores of songwriters subsequently inspired by his bleak-but-beautiful visions. (


Various Artists - Jump 'n Jive

Been a long time since I posted a Garage Sale/Thrift Store/ Bargain Bin Find Of The Week! This is a collection of 15 tunes by 11 different artists of post World War II Jump Blues mostly. Remember a few years ago when that guy from the Stray Cats had a hit with "Jump Jive and Wail"? Well this has the original by Louis Prima with Sam Butera and the Witnesses. Other great tunes by the likes of Louis Jordan, Jay McShann, Nat King Cole, T-Bone Walker, Amos Milburn, Charles Brown and others. Best cut, for me, is "Illinois Blows The Blues" by Illinois Jacquet. A real fun CD.


Alright! Don't forget the great blogs in the links section for some other fine tunes, and I'll see you next week.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Bröselmaschine - Bröselmaschine (1971)

Quite possibly the pinnacle of Krautfolk, Broselmaschine is certainly tops in the folk subgenre and is recommended to those interested in the lighter side of Krautrock. Broselmaschine combines the highly talented acoustic guitar playing of Peter Bursch (a master of the instrument who has published many instructional books on the subject), romantic vocals, and a mild Eastern influence highlighted by the use of sitar and flute. The album begins with 'Gedanken', a peaceful track with a slight renaissance-era feel, featuring acoustic and electric guitar, flute and romantic lyrics. Next the group performs the Scottish traditional 'Lassie' with multi-tracked vocal harmonies. Next, 'Guitarrenstuck', is a beautiful piece played with folk guitar and a soothing female vocal. 'The Old Man's Song' seems slightly out of place due to its use of wah-wah peddle, but this gives way to some rather ominous sounding Duul-ish acoustic guitar and folk percussion. 'Schmetterling' introduces an Eastern flavor to the album and is most notable for its sitar which reminds me a little bit of mid-period Popol Vuh. Bursch's guitar playing on this track is simply masterful and the track is given an extra boost from some atmospheric mellotron. 'Nossa Bova' stands out as a folk masterpiece with its incredible guitar work, folk percussion, and female vocals. This track has a peaceful quality similar to Paradieswarts Duul, the only difference being the musical ability of Broselmaschine's members. The album was produced by Rolf Ulrich Kaiser and engineered by Dieter Dierks and was first issued on Pilz in 1971. (


C.A. Quintet - Trip Through Hell (1969)

Virtually no one outside Minneapolis heard of the C.A. Quintet during their late-'60s heyday. It was their fortune (or curse) to actually reach a considerably bigger international audience when their album was reissued in the '80s. Starting as a rather conventional pop-soul/garage band, their one and only album, Trip Thru Hell (1968), was a worthy slice of dark psychedelia. With spooky organ and the occasional trumpet of singer/songwriter Ken Erwin, the group's murky and macabre vision -- dotted with trips through hell, cold spiders, Colorado mornings, and the like -- was genuinely original and chilling. Trip Thru Hell only sold 700-800 copies when it was first issued, but after gaining status among hardcore '60s psychedelic collectors, it was reissued in 1983. (

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Magma - Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh (1973)

This is probably the best place for anyone to start listening to Magma or Zeuhl music in general. Christian Vander manages to combine elements of jazz, prog, rock ,and classical with operatic vocals thrown in. The previous albums all had less of a Vander influence and definitely had a jazzier feel to them. While this one keeps some elements of jazz, it manages to combine other genres, themes, and elements that help make this Vander's magnum opus.

Although all of the lyrics are in the made-up language, Kobaian, this album is still quite enjoyable, but is still not for everyone, as evident in the other reviews of this album. Everything flows nicely together and builds. The music itself and the concept are truly excellent (althouh I'm not auite sure totally what the concept is, I'll have to reread the album notes). It's hard to pick a best a track seeing as the album all flows together, but I guess I would choose Ima Suri Dondai. It combines all of the elements, themes, and overall feel of the album in to one song.

This album is highly recommended, every Zeuhl fan must own this. It is truly a masterpiece of the sub-genre. No doubt about it.


Psychamania - Eccentric Sounds From The British Underground 1970-1973

This is a great compilation of psychedelic rock. I have only heard of a few of these bands before, bands like Rare Bird and Skin Alley. The tracks are taken from long forgotten, or maybe never even known in the first place, singles. The rest of the 21 tracks are from unknown, obscure bands, at least they are obscure to me! Paradise Hammer, Parson-Smith, Mosaic, Luv Machine, Frog, The Peddlers, Paul St. John are some of the bands represented on this. If you are a fan of of early 70's psychedelia you should get this.


Goliath - Goliath (1970)

I was unable to find any real information about this band on the web, other than the band member's names, which was not much help as their names are on the dang back cover! Goliath were a short-lived but very promising UK band who were fronted by a lady singer called Linda Rothwell. The other members were Eric Eastman on drums & percussion, Joe Rosbotham on tenor sax & flute, Malcolm Grundy on guitar and John Williamson on bass. Their music had elements of rock, folk and blues, as well as an Eastern touch. A band with fantastic potential, they faded into obscurity, probably around the early 70's. Not to be confused with a US band of the same name that released an album in 1972.


Frank Zappa & Captain Beefheart - Bongo Fury (1975)

This is somewhat of a hodge podge of different styles and lyrical themes, but the best stuff is great indeed. "Advance Romance" has some of the most intense, compelling blues playing by anyone in the history of the blues on record--the slide guitar solo by Denny Walley, harmonica solo by Beefheart, and guitar solo by Zappa are all just tremendous. The guitar soloing in the middle of "Carolina Hard Core Ecstacy" is similarly superb. The Beefheart vocal numbers are among his most conventional on record--it is up to each person's personal taste if they like them more or less than "Trout Mask Replica" and other more adventurous works. All of this album is at least quite good, and the best of it hits Olympian peaks. (


Chicken Bones - Hard Rock In Concert (1973)

German band Chicken Bones put out their only album as a private release in 1976, and I don't know what was going on with them, what they were smoking, or why they gave the album such a title, because the music really doesn't rock all that hard, and it isn't a concert album! The music is performed in the good old tradition of the early seventies heavy progressive scene. Most of the album is instrumental, and offers Rainer Geuecke (guitar) plenty of opportunities to reveal his musical skills. The two longest tracks are the highlights: "Water" with the whisper of the sea and some beautiful acoustic guitar and "Factory Girl" which was in a more typical vein. The band was highly creative and often moved very close to May Blitz, early UFO or Cargo, but with lots of nice moves and flowery guitar work-outs. This album has an excellent and well-balanced sound for a private release.


Eiliff - Eiliff (1971)

Eiliff were an early 70s prog band who released two albums before breaking up. "Eiliff" is their 1971 debut. The band seemed quite influenced by early Frank Zappa, Soft Machine, and Van Der Graff Generator. Listeners are quickly treated to countless complex, yet gritty, sections on each of the 4 tracks. There is an emphasis on sax and electric piano interplay, but the album also features excellent guitar work (although some solos border on noodling). Most of the vocals reminded me of the Mothers Of Invention. They tend to be dissonant, somewhat sloppy, yet charming. Overall, this is great stuff if you enjoy early 70s prog.


Frame - Frame Of Mind (1972)

Strongly interconnected with fellow Marburg band Pell Mell, though the musical connection is not always so obvious, Frame exhibited a style that had very little in common with them really, being much more influenced by the late-60's heavy psychedelia and blues rock by the likes of Deep Purple or Vanilla Fudge. Only some of the rhythmic structures hinted at the Pell Mell connection. Mixing in folky styles and progressive touches into their heavy rock style, their sole album Frame Of Mind bore the unmistakable stamp of Dieter Dierks at the mixing desk, with great use of dynamics and stereo dimension. Really varied, steering away from the mainstream of early-70's rock, with many classic moves and excellent vocals, all giving it that something special, it's an album that's still amazingly fresh even today. Andy Kirnberger was a featured guest on early Pell Mell albums, after Frame's demise he went on to the vastly inferior Hardcake Special, whilst Cherry Hochdörfer and Wolfgang Klaus moved to Pell Mell.


Clear Light - Black Roses (1967)

Kind of a minor league version of the Doors, the Clear Light was a West Coast phenomenon, and although they didn't last too long, were an interesting group. A very good slice of Los Angeles psychedelica, the Clear Light were a six-piece band that combined folk, rock, psychedelica, and even a touch of classical to their sound. The end result, though, is a little ponderous and pretentious but strangely listenable. The big hit off this album was "Mr. Blue," a psychedelic folk song written by Tom Paxton. It's over six minutes long, and a bit overbaked, but it does have an odd appeal. The finer moments are guitarist Bob Seal's psychedelic folk-rock songs, namely "With All in Mind" and "They Who Have Nothing." Singer Cliff DeYoung went on to have a successful acting career, bass player Doug Lubahan played on the early Doors albums, Dallas Taylor went on to drum for Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young & John Sebastian, and keyboardist Ralph Schuckett became one of the more popular West Coast session players and arrangers. A lot of talent in a short-lived ensemble. Dated but charming West Coast psychedelica. (Matthew Greenwald)


OK that's it for this week! Later.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Allright!! It's Folk Music Week here at Toter Allee.

The New Lost City Ramblers - The Early Years 1958 - 1962

The New Lost City Ramblers came out of the 'Folk Revival' movement of the late 50's, and became one of the most important and influential groups in the revival of American traditional music. During a remarkably prolific period in the 50s and 60s, the Ramblers produced a series of recordings on the Folkways label that provided the source material for many a budding folkie's repertoire, a veritable encyclopedia of blues, ballads and bluegrass breakdowns, songs of love, humor and of labor. This compilation has 26 tracks, and should be heard by anyone interested at all in Americana or old-time music. These guys were fantastic musicians and their versions of this old material from the 20's and 30's are incredible.

Part 1 Part 2

The New Lost City Ramblers - Out Standing In Their Field 1963 - 1973

Volume two of this set of compilations from recordings made on the Folkways label. 27 tracks. This really is some great stuff.

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Frank Tovey & The Pyros - Grand Union 1991

"1991's Grand Union should by rights be lauded as a masterpiece of alternative rock, however Frank Tovey's reclusive persona ensured that this overlooked gem has slipped through the net. Produced with PK (Paul Kendall), the album is both musically and lyrically enveloping. Something of a 'concept' album, Grand Union is ostensibly a collection of folk / ur-rock / hill-billy / country tracks accompanied by Tovey's East End stories of the old, the new and the salient. There are many themes here, but one gets the impression that Tovey's re-developing East End, with Canary Wharf's landscape-altering construction in full swing, invoked in him some sort of passion to head back in time and preserve the dirty Docklands spleandour of old in song.

At times melancholy (the WW2-recounting tale on 'Bethnal Green Tube Disaster'), at others joyful in a ramshackle fashion (the opener 'Bad Day In Bow Creek'), the album is largely subtle and blissfully easy on the ear. Semi-acoustic guitars, banjos and clever percussion evoke all manner of moods, and when they head into indie-rock territory, as on the Morrissey-esque 'Cities Of The Vain', The Pyros (Paul Rodden and John Cutliffe) more than prove their adaptability around Tovey's poetic lyrics.

It is actually quite fantastic to hear just how well some primitive music forms lend themselves so well to Tovey's Cockney vocals. His vocal is somewhere between Wreckless Eric and James' Tim Booth, both folk and punk at the same time. His hero-worship of the great pioneering British engineer Isembard Kingdom Brunel on 'IKB (RIP)' is one of this album's many high points, a time-travelling trip that leaves the grey towerblock-dominated modern London skylines far behind to witness at first hand the master engineer's many achievements. And while we're on the subject of masterful achievements, Paul Kendall's excellent productions deserve a special mention. Best known for his electronic production for many Mute artists, PK brings a depth and precision to these tracks, using occasional effects with considerable restraint, but pushing the rhythm high up in the mix in an echo of his work with Nitzer Ebb.

I could go on forever about Grand Union, and I continue to be impressed by the quality of songwriting, playing and production on display here. Intensely captivating and wonderfully unique, it is difficult to hear it without feeling some great sadness over the fact that the erstwhile Fad Gadget is no longer with us. A truly emotive gem, filled with grief, joy and a yearning for simpler times." (review from the internet)


Gene Clark & Carla Olson - So Rebellious A Lover (1987)

This is a wonderful duet album between ex-Byrd Gene Clark and ex-Textone Carla Olson. The many highlights include Clark's haunting "Gypsy Rider" and his interpretation of the Flying Burrito Brothers' "Hot Burrito # 1". I think Clark's version of "Hot Burrito" equals the Burritos. I also enjoyed the cover of John Fogerty's "Almost Saturday Night" by the duo. It's not something I would think Clark would cover, but it works. Olson also contributes fine numbers such as "The Drifter" and "Every Angel in Heaven." Overall, just a great album for folk, folk-rock, and country fans. Even the bonus tracks are great, including their fantastic cover of Phil Ochs' "Changes" and several demos cut to get a record deal. Sadly, Clark passed away before another album could be made. Fans of Clark and the Byrds shouldn't miss this! (


Mary McCaslin & Jim Ringer - The Bramble And The Rose (1978)

Before there was Nanci Griffith, Iris Dement or Gillian Welch, there was Mary McCaslin. Her rich, pure voice could fill a room, backed only by her open-D tuned guitar. Jim Ringer was a folksinger who had known hard times, and even done a little hard time. He had been a prizefighter as a younger man, and worked the fields of California while growing up. His family passed along a rich catalog of traditional American music. This late-'70's recording was the only duet album by these musical partners. On many tracks, they're accompanied by a full band, including, among others, fiddler Jay Ungar. Tunes include "Geronimo's Cadillac," "Canaan's Land", "Rank Stranger"and others - to hear them harmonize on "Oh Death" can be chilling. Mary McCaslin and Jim Ringer were an unlikely combination in any number of ways. But somehow, through their years of touring and through this recording, they managed to set the standard for contemporary male/female folk duos. Together, their voices -- Mary's high and lilting, Jim's darker and rougher -- covered the wide terrain of American folk song in a thoroughly compelling way. The Bramble and the Rose stands as a fitting testament to their unique partnership.


Gabby Pahinui - The Gabby Pahinui Hawaiian Band Vol. 1 (1975)

The most influential slack key guitarist in history was Philip "Gabby" Pahinui (1921-1980). The modern slack key period began around 1946, when Gabby made his first recording. Gabby was the prime influence for keeping slack key guitar from dying out in the Islands. His prolific and unique techniques led to the guitar becoming more recognized as a solo instrument. He expanded the boundaries of slack key guitar by creating a fully-evolved solo guitar style capable of creatively interpreting a wide variety of Hawaiian traditional and popular standards, original pieces and even pieces from other cultures. Gabby's beautiful, expressive vocals, especially his incredibly soulful falsetto, have also inspired many musicians. The Gabby Pahinui Hawaiian Band of the 1970's is a good example of the complex sound that slack key can achieve with multiple guitars. Along with Gabby, this band featured the late great slack key guitarists Leland "Atta" Isaacs, Sr., Sonny Chillingworth,and Gabby's sons, Cyril and Bla Pahinui. On the band's recordings, each guitarist usually played in a different C tuning (and Bla and Cyril played in D tunings tuned down to the key of C), providing a thick, multi-textured sound. The involvement of Ry Cooder, who plays on four of the songs, helped this album to reach a wider audience that it normally would have, and it is considered to be one of the best Hawaiian albums of all time.


Tom Rush - Tom Rush (1970)

No one is a more masterful or powerful interpreter of other artists' music than Tom Rush. In this album he showcases these talents to advantage from the opening bars of his signature "Driving Wheel" to "Drop Down Mama" to the subtly ironic "Living In The Country". He is at his best with songs like Jackson's Browne's "These Days" or "Colors Of The Sun". Rush has a voice and guitar style that's distinct, well developed, and always used to performing advantage. Trevor Veitch, a wonderful acoustic and electric guitarist, backs him here and the arrangements help to make this a classic folk album.


Jo-Ann Kelly - Jo-Ann Kelly (1969)

She looked like she might have been a librarian or something, but she was Queen Of The British Blues. What a voice she had, what a great talent she possessed. Her prowess as a guitarist was amazing, favoring an acoustic delta blues style over the electric blues that was popular at the time, her bottleneck style playing was raw and yet flawless. I had this playing on the stereo once when a friend came over, and he absolutely thought I was pulling his leg when I told him that it was a young white woman singing and playing, and not some grizzled old black guy. If you like country blues at all you need this one!


Shirley Collins & The Albion Country Band - No Roses (1971)

Following the trail forged by Fairport Convention's "Liege And Lief", The Albion Country Band were formed by bassist Ashley Hutchings, who had previously served time in both Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span, and they stand at the apex of the UK's electric folk sound. At the dawn of the 70's he married the singer Shirley Collins, the most important and emotionally powerful vocalist to come out of the new folk revival. The cast is a veritable who' s-who of left-field UK musicians, featuring the likes of Richard Thompson, Simon Nicol, Dave Mattacks, The Watersons, Maddy Prior and even free-saxophonist Lol Coxhill. Here Hutchings was at his most inspired and ambitious, often cutting up tracks with field recordings of doomy churchbells and wheels crunching gravel but above all there's a lightness of touch, a grace to the playing that belies the fact that its basic aesthetic is heavy, rock-charged group interaction. "Poor Murdered Woman" swings beautifully through a series of lightly crunching plateaus thanks to Richard Thompson's stellar guitar work, as Shirley relays a sad account of the discovery of a woman's body on Leatherhead Common but it's "Banks Of The Bann" that's the real jewel. An Irish tale of unrequited love between a pauper and a woman "above his degree", it's a beautiful performance, upsetting in its stately simplicity and with a rhythm that can only be described as tidal.


Fotheringay - Fotheringay (1970)

In 1970, Sandy Denny quit Fairport Convention to form Fotheringay with then-boyfriend Trevor Lucas. The group recorded this outstanding album but disbanded in less than a year due to little commercial success, despite the fact that Sandy was at the peak of her popularity. Looking back at the records that were released in 1970, it's easy to see how a great album like this could be buried! Very much in the mold of Fairport/Steeleye Span, this is a sterling example of English electric folk, and captures Denny's vocals at their best. Highlight, for me, is their stunning version of the traditional, anti-war, song "The Banks Of The Nile".

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Parzival - Barock (1972)

Along with Ougenweide, Parzival were one of the few German bands to follow in the steps of British groups like Gryphon and use medieval folklore as the basis for their refined progressive music. The nucleus of the group was the trio Lothar Siems, Walter Quintus and Thomas Oliver. Siems and Oliver had played together since 1965 in the Bremen group The Chamberlains, before joining the Quintus Ouartet. Their repertoire comprised increasingly folky styles. In 1971 they took the name Parzival and obtained a recording contract with Telefunken. Legend (1971) was a fine album of lyrical, electric folk-rock with much use of flute, violin and acoustic guitars. Unlike Ougenweide, Parzival sang in English and lacked the German distinction of the folk-rock bands on the Pilz label. Like Pell Mell, Parzival also incorporated classical music, but not in a pompous large scale manner. Technically they enjoyed the steady support of producer Konrad Plank.

Their second and sadly last album Barock emerged at the beginning of 1973. The group had expanded with the addition of cellist Walter v. Seydlitz and helped by Muller-Menckens and Harald Konietzko (bass, vocals). This was similar to their first album, although in parts closer to rock than Legend. Parzival's legacy is to have recorded two of the best German folk-rock albums which avoided the trappings of over-ambition. Most of their songs were short, melodic, charming and beautiful.


Planxty - Planxty (1973)

Couldn't have folk week without at least one Irish album! Christy Moore. Donal Lunny. Andy Irvine. Liam O'Flynn. This is their first album as Planxty and it is possibly the best album of traditional Irish music ever - these guys were Ireland's first supergroup. Mixing traditional reels and tunes with latter-day compositions, the music is authentic and passionate, the songs are alternately rousing ("Follow Me Up To Carlow") and touching ("West Coast of Claire") The musicianship is impeccable, the production is first-rate. This CD is the standard by which all other music of the same style should be judged. It's everything anybody could want.


Well there you have it. There's enough different styles of folky stuff that everybody should find something to download! Next week it's back to normal with some psych/prog/kraut music. Well maybe some hard rock too! See you then.