Monday, June 26, 2006

OK summer is here!

Aynsley Dunbar - Blue Whale (1970)

Aynsley Dunbar, since his start drumming for John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and the Jeff Beck Group, not to mention his own great band The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation, has played with some of rock's greatest acts - he's on about 15 different Frank Zappa albums. So he's a pretty good drummer I guess. Anyway, in 1970 he formed Blue Whale which put out one album, which features four jazzy progressive pieces, and a 16 minute version of Zappa's Willie The Pimp. It's not all about percussion, though, there's two lead guitarists, a keyboard player and a brass section all struggling to be heard.


Copperhead - Copperhead (1972)

Two and a half years after exiting Quicksilver Messenger Service, of which he had been the primary instrumentalist, lead guitar player John Cipollina resurfaced at the front of a new rock quartet, Copperhead. The group had come together slowly, but by the time of their debut album, they were ready for action. Second guitarist Gary Philippet contributed the more straight-ahead rockers, like leadoff track and first single "Roller Derby Star," while bass player Jim McPherson tended to write more discursive numbers, though he was capable of strong rock & roll shuffles such as the Rolling Stones-like "Wing-Dang-Doo." But both players took a back seat to Cipollina, whose distinctively high-pitched, slightly dissonant lead guitar work defined the band's sound, just as it had in Quicksilver. One should perhaps amend that to say "early Quicksilver"; Copperhead recalled the earlier band's heyday of the late '60s on their own self-titled debut and the gold-selling Happy Trails more than the early-'70s edition of the group, especially on the extended instrumental passages in songs like "Pawnshop Man" and "They're Making a Monster." By rights, then, Copperhead should have taken off to become one of the major second-generation San Francisco rock bands of the '70s, but it was not to be. In the wake of Columbia Records president Clive Davis' firing shortly after this album's release, his signings were given the company's lowest priority, and few people ever found out there was a band and an album called Copperhead.


Krokodil - Swamp (1970)

A most tuneful and infectious album forever hampered by its unfortunate position within the discography of these Swiss krautrockers. This 1970 release shows a band in flux between the scorching boogie-blues workouts of their eponymous debut and the massive stoned psych action of their third album masterpiece "An Invisible World Revealed". Many German groups attempted to sing in English to broaden their audience and virtually all failed miserably. "Swamp," on the other hand, reveals itself to be one of the more interesting examples of this phenomena, venturing into Van Morrison, Fairport Convention, and even Wailers territory. Meanwhile, the rest of the band was experimenting with sitars, flutes and avant percussion.


Various Artists - The Krautrock Archive Vol. III

The last volume in the Unknown Deutschland series, and faithful 8 Days-ers will likely already have the tracks by Galactic Explorers, Temple, Golem and Nazgul. The remaining three tracks, by Neil Andersen, Baal, and Chronos make this worth downloading even if you already have the other tracks.


Pell Mell - Marburg (1972)

This album is a masterpiece of heavy, complex, unusual, highly imaginative, and powerful organ dominated heavy symphonic progressive rock. Unlike what some write ups say this is not at all mostly instrumental. The vocalist (Rudolph Schon) is prominent on every track except the lovely instrumental "Moldau" and his raving, manic, strong, and commanding approach is awesome. He sounds like no other vocalist I can think of and when there are harmonies it is really impressive. Aside from the astounding first track there is no guitar here, and one of the things to truly make Pell Mell's first album exotic is the violin and organ dominated instrumentation. The songs are fantastic- full of atmosphere, energy, contrast, and imagination. When I am hearing the longest tracks on this album none of them drag a bit and there is constantly something new and different going on. Classical influences are prevalent, but I would disagree that the band are ripping off famous classical composers. I see the few very easy to pinpoint references as a homage rather than a rip off. I have trouble understanding the lyrics to a lot of these songs. They are in English, but heavily accented and rather strange! Perfect example is "City Monster." The title alone tells you these guys were a little bit different in their very European (namely German) take on progressive symphonic rock. The musicianship here is something to be marvelled at, but ultimately it is the raw and unusual vocals that make this album so great when they are combined with how good each individual player in the five piece band is. The drummer is excellent, and so is the bass player. The organist and violin player are never self indulgent and always exciting. For long tracks full of symphonic overtones and heavy psychedelic rock lurking in the shadows this is one of the best albums I've heard. Every track is outstanding (There are only 5), and this one is highly recommended! (


Edgar Broughton Band - Keep Them Freaks A Rollin' (1969)

Previously unreleased live album from the proto punks recorded at Abbey Road in December 1969.The choice of material on the disc is representative of the band's live set at the time like "Out Demons Out", an early version of "What is a Woman For" the biting "American Soldier Boy" and best of all their explosive ten minute version of "Smokestack Lightening".

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Agitation Free - 2nd (1973)

Excellent atmospheric German space rock with some pretty trippy interludes. A very young and talent Michael Hoenig (later with Tangerine Dream) plays a wonderful array of keyboards which when combined with the acid washed guitar solos takes your mind into another world. This music is not for the novice and should not be taken on an empty stomach! Agitation Free is very similar to sh Ra Tempel in many ways bringing perhaps a more cultural feel forward in their music. I love the insturmental excursions on this album and find it a great recording to lay back and listen to. "2nd" never gets too loud or frenzied and always seems to maintain a dark, but warm atmosphere. Lutz Ulbrich also joins on guitar better known for his later work in Ash Ra. On the back sleeve we are told that THIS RECORD SHOULD BE PLAYED LOUD and I would 2nd that notion. Spacey but absolutely brilliant recording... essential!


Vita Nova - Vita Nova (1971)

Vita Nova was a studio project that never played live, and their one and only recording is a fantastic album full of high quality progressive tendencies and originality. An interesting feature of this band was the original use of the Hohner Clavinet (pre moog synth) and considering that they were a German band, the sparse vocals are sung in Latin! The band was trio of Eddy "Ugly Ugly" Marron (vocals, bass and Turkish zaz), Sylvester Levay (keys, perc) and Christian von Hoffmann (drums, percussion). Musically these guys were fantastic with some killer guitar, bass, keyboard and drum work. Their music is full of energy and full of progressive time signature changes and instrumental prowess. Overall a great album and one of the true treasures of the 70's German underground.

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Alrighty then! See you next week!!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Ok here's this weeks musical contributions - a little light on the krautrock this week but there's some great psychedelic rock, progressive rock, and plain old rock and roll.

Spirit Of John Morgan - Spirit Of John Morgan (1969)

Although released in 1971, the debut self-titled album by Spirit of John Morgan was actually recorded two years earlier, before the spirit of the '60s dissipated into the excesses of the '70s. But even back in 1969, the British quartet were already fish out of water, gasping for R&B in a Technicolor age of psychedelia. So they created their own, an entire album's worth of strong, shadowed, R&B numbers underlit by magnificent musicianship and powerful rhythms. The set opener, a menacing cover of Graham Bond's "I Want You," is a case in point, stalker-like in its intensity, with John Morgan's organ conjuring up a phantom of the opera from which there is no escape. However, Morgan's phenomenal finger skills are best showcased on a cover of Meade "Lux" Lewis' "Honky Tonk Train Blues," a fabulously masterful piano boogie woogie, as is his equally extraordinary adaptation of Albert Ammons' "Shout for Joy." And Morgan is just as skilled on the organ, as is evidenced on the band's take on Big John Patton's "The Yodel." As astounding as the covers are, the quartet offered up their own numbers that are of equal quality. "Orpheus and None for Ye," is a particular standout, a dark, driving number that initially calls to mind the Spencer Davis Group before diving into the heart of the jungle, while Don Whitaker's guitar licks like flames around the piece. It is the set's final number, however, the ten-minute epic "Yorkshire Blues" that is the heart of the album. Delta blues brought to the English north, where the band convincingly make the case that life is just as tough up mill as it is down in the fields of the Deep South. In 43 minutes and with a mere eight songs, Spirit of John Morgan created an astonishing set, and this reissue appends it with the band's romp across "The Floating Opera Show," the A-side of their now impossible to find 1971 single. As if you needed another reason to own this set. (Jo-Ann Greene, All Music Guide)


Eloy - Floating (1974)

This third album from German band Eloy is a good balance of hard rock, psychedelic rock and space rock and is a vehicle that carries you to places of the imagination; to dream-like places, that you only get a momentary glimpse of at sundown; to places where the Moment becomes eternal. With Eloy's powerful psychedelic/prog music at the height of its intensity and maturity, "Floating" is the absolute Eloy masterpiece, and belongs -together with "Inside" and, perhaps, "The Power and the Passion"- to their finest era. The music is unsurpassed, totally mesmerising, hypnotic, erotic, at times sad, but always powerful. And "Plastic Girl" sounds like the soundtrack of fated meetings... (


Steppenwolf - Early Steppenwolf (1969)

Recorded live at San Francisco's The Matrix in May 1967 while they were still called The Sparrow, this is some powerful, bluesy garage rock. Early versions of some songs later done as Steppenwolf (Power Play, Tighten Up Your Wig, Corinna, Corinna and The Pusher), and a couple covers of songs by John Lee Hooker & Howlin' Wolf. Great sound quality for a 1967 live recording I think. The version of The Pusher on this is 21 minutes long! About half of that though is an extended psychedelic improvisation. Wow, to have been stoned and in the audience!


Mick Abrahams - Mick Abrahams (1971)

Mick Abrahams, as most of you probably know, was the original guitarist with Jethro Tull who quit after "This Was" to form Blodwyn Pig. This is his first release after Blodwyn Pig's two fine albums, and continues the Pig sound. This is a terrific album full of interesting changes and spectacularly great blues guitar playing. Mick's slow-handed playing makes him one of the most under appreciated guitarists in rock and roll.


Franz K. - Sensemann (1972)

This was one of the groups pioneering the use of the German language. As you might have guessed, their name was a shortening of Franz Kafka. The trio came together at the end of 1969. At first they played a kind of blues-jazz fusion, but soon moved towards rock. Their first album Sensemann (1972) was produced by Phillips' house producer Rainer Goltermann at Windrose Studios, Hamburg, from December 1971 to January 1972. The Phillips release was limited to 2,000 copies. For some reason there was also reputedly a later private pressing of this on Ruhr 007 of only 500 copies. The album contained just two long tracks: "Das Goldene Reich" and "Sensemann" Their raw and undisciplined power trio rock in many ways crossed vintage Guru Guru with the political awareness of bands like Floh De Cologne. There were long inspired and loud guitar passages, sudden shifts in tempo and quite a bit of twisted musical anarchy. (Cosmic Dreams At Play)


Various Artists - The Krautrock Archive Vol. II

I posted the first volume of this way back when and there are three volumes so I thought I'd finish the series this week and next. Thanks to schoub for this and vol. III. Faithful downloaders will already have the tracks by The Nazgul, Cozmic Corridors, Temple and Golem, but there are two tracks by Spirulina and Ten To Zen that you probably won't find anywhere else.


Curved Air - Stark Naked (1975-1976)

Sorry despite the title there are no nude photos of Sonja Kristina in the artwork. I wish! Stark Naked is one of the song titles.This bootleg consists of ten tracks recorded live for the BBC in '75 and '76. A must-have for all fans of this band.

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Curly Curve - Curly Curve (1973)

Curly Curve was formed in Berlin in 1968, and played the same clubs as the "kosmische" bands like Agitation Free and Ash Ra Tempel, the bassist had played with Tangerine Dream even. But this isn't krautrock, not even close. Curly Curve was influenced more by British acts like the Groundhogs or Steamhammer and American blues-rock acts than they were by their German brothers. If you like straight-ahead seventies blues rock that sometimes gets stuck in boogie mode, this is worth checking out. With song titles like "Hell and Booze" and "Shitkicker", it's clear where these guys were coming from!


Vinegar Joe - Vinegar Joe (1971)

Vinegar Joe might very easily have been Island Records' answer to the Allman Bros. or Wet Willie. A sextet formed out of a busted big-band rock outfit called Dada, they were brought together at the suggestion of Island founder Chris Blackwell. Elkie Brooks (vocals), Robert Palmer (vocals, guitar), Pete Gage (guitars, piano), and Steve York (bass, harmonica), were at the core of the group, with Tim Hinkley and then Mike Deacon on keyboards, and Conrad Isadore and Keef Hartley, and then John Woods and Pete Gavin on drums--the band cut three albums between 1971 and 1973. Their live shows were well reviewed and attracted significant audiences in England, but this was never reflected in their record sales. They split up in 1973, with Robert Palmer becoming an international star as a pop-rock blue-eyed soul singer and Elkie Brooks a success as an MOR singer with Pete Gage as her arranger. (


OK that's it for this week See you later!