ERIC BURDON AND THE ANIMALS-EVERY ONE OF US.

ERIC BURDON AND THE ANIMALS-EVERY ONE OF US.

A lot can happen to a band in just four years.  In August 1968, Eric Burdon and The Animals were proof of this. They were preparing to release their fouth American album, Every One Of Us, which was recently released by BGO Records. However, a lot had happened since The Animals released their eponymous debut album in September 1964.

By then, The Animals had been around since 1962. That was when The Animals were formed in Newcastle, England. However, The Animals roots can be traced to a band that that had been formed four years earlier, in 1958, The Alan Price Rhythm and Blues Combo.

They were popular within the Newcastle area, in the late-fifties and early sixties. However, by 1962, music was changing, and changing fast. The Beatles had burst onto the scene, and this was a game-changer. So in 1963, The Alan Price Rhythm and Blues Combo decided to add a vocalist to their lineup.

The man they chose was Eric Burdon. He joined a rhythm section of drummer John Steel, bassist Bryan “Chas” Chandler and guitarist Hilton Valentine. Completing the lineup,  was organist and the man who lent his name to the Combo, Alan Price. However, not for long.

Not long after Eric Burdon joined the band, The Alan Price Rhythm and Blues Combo decided to change their name to something more rock ’n’ roll, The Animals. They set about making their presence felt in the Newcastle music scene.

Soon, The Animals were one of the most popular local bands. Their fiery sets of saw The Animals fusing electric blues and rock. This proved popular, and won over audiences night after night. Each night, The Animals’ sets were combination ran through covers of songs recorded by blues greats like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker and Jimmy Reed. This struck a nerve with audiences in their home city. However, The Animals had set their sights higher than being a big fish in a small pond.

In 1964, The Animals made the decision to move to London. By then,  The Animals had struck up a relationship with music impresario Giorgio Gomelsky. He owned the Crawdaddy Club, and for a time managed the Rolling Stones, who were the club’s house band. However, by 1964, the Rolling Stones had gone on to bigger things. Soon, so would The Animals.

Not long after The Animals moved to London, they were signed by Columbia Records. Quickly, The Animals repaid Columbia Records’ faith in them. Their debut single Baby Let Me Take You Home was produced by producer and pop impresario Mickie Most. When the single was released in March 1964, it reached twenty-one on the UK singles charts. Success had come quickly for The Animals in Britain. America was a different proposition though.

Five months later, and Baby Let Me Take You Home was released in America, but stalled at 102 in the US Billboard 100. Soon, though, The Animals would be one of the biggest British Invasion bands.

Three months later, in June 1966, The Animals released The House Of The Rising Sun as a single. This traditional song transformed The Animals’ career it when it reached number one in Britain, America, Canada, Australia and Sweden. Elsewhere, including Germany and Holland, The House Of The Rising Sun gave The Animals a top ten single. They were well on their way to becoming one of the biggest bands on both sides of the Atlantic.

The Animals.

Given the success of The House Of The Rising Sun, The Animals were sent into the studio to record an album with producer Mickie Most. Columbia wanted an album quickly, to build on the success of The House Of The Rising Sun.

Twelve songs were chosen and would become The Animals. The songs included old blues and R&B numbers, and was a reminder of The Animals’ musical roots. Among the songs that were chosen were Ray Charles’ Talkin’ About You Baby,  John Lee Hooker’s Mad Again, Fats Domino’s I’ve Been Around. It was joined I’m in Love Again which Fats Domino wrote with Dave Bartholomew. Two Chuck Berry’ songs were chosen, Around and Around and Memphis, Tennessee. They joined The Animals first two singles Baby Let Me Take You Home and The House Of The Rising Sun. These songs became The Animals eponymous debut album. It was released later in 1964.

Before that, critics reviewed The Animals debut album. It was mostly well received, and showcased what The Animals as a band were about. The Animals was then released in Britain and America in September 1964.

On both sides of the Atlantic, The Animals built on the success of The House Of The Rising Sun. The Animals reached number six in the UK and seven in the US Billboard 200. This was the start of rise and rise of The Animals to become one of the most successful British Invasion groups.

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Animal Tracks.

Just eight months later, The Animals released their sophomore album Animal Tracks. It had been recorded during 1964 and 1965, and mostly, followed in the footsteps of The Animals’ eponymous debut album.

Mainly, Animal Tracks was another album of covers of R&B and blues. This included Chuck Berry’s How You’ve Changed, Ray Charles’  Hallelujah I Love Her So, Big Maceo Merriweather’s Worried Life Blues, Clarence Carter’s I Ain’t Got You, Jimmy Reed’s Bright Lights, Big City and Bo Diddley’s Roadrunner. There was also a cover of Shirley Goodman and Leonard Lee’s Let The Good Times Roll, which Ray Charles made famous. However, tucked away on side two of Animal Tracks, was the first song penned by a member of The Animals.

It was Eric Burdon who was the first member of The Animals to write a song for an Animals’ album. His contribution was For Miss Caulker. This was just the start of Eric Burdon’s songwriting career, which blossomed over the new few years. Before that, Animal Tracks was recorded with producer Mickie Most. Once the album was complete, it was released in Britain in May 1965.

Unlike the reviews of their eponymous debut album, Animal Tracks wasn’t as well received by critics. Some of the songs were as strong as those on The Animals. They lacked the quality and energy. However, this didn’t bother record buyers.

When Animal Tracks was released in  May 1965, it reached number six in the UK. However, Animal Tracks wasn’t released in America until September 1965, but reached just fifty-seven in the US Billboard 200. Before Animal Tracks was released in America, The Animals released their American sophomore album The Animals On Tour.

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The Animals On Tour.

After the released of their eponymous debut on both sides of the Atlantic, The Animals ‘ popularity soared stateside. They quickly became one of the most popular and successful British Invasion groups. So a decision was made to record an album that would only be released in America, The Animals On Tour.

This was the start of confusing time for fans of The Animals. Albums were released in Britain and America at different times.  Some albums, including The Animals On Tour weren’t officially released in Britain. The first album that wasn’t officially released in Britain, was The Animals On Tour.

Given the title, many record buyers thought The Animals On Tour was a live album. It wasn’t. Instead, it was another album of cover versions. Some of the tracks had featured on Animal Tracks, including Chuck Berry’s How You’ve Changed, Ray Charles’  Hallelujah I Love Her So, Big Maceo Merriweather’s Worried Life Blues, Calvin Carter’s I Ain’t Got You, Jimmy Reed’s Bright Lights, Big City and Bo Diddley’s Roadrunner. There was also a cover of Shirley Goodman and Leonard Lee’s Let The Good Times Roll. They rubbed shoulders with John Lee Hooker’s Boom Boom and Dimples, which he wrote with James Bracken. The only new track on The Animals On Tour was an Eric Burdon and Alan Price composition I’m Crying. These twelve tracks were recorded in 1964 and produced by Mickie Most. 

The Animals On Tour was released in March 1964, the same times as Animal Tracks was released in Britain. Doubtless copies of Animal Tracks made their way across the Atlantic, where fans of The Animals were in for a surprise. Both albums featured a number of similar tracks.  So it was no surprise that The Animals On Tour stalled at a lowly ninety-nine in the US Billboard 200. This was a disappointing outcome for The Animals.

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What was a bigger disappointment was when of organist Alan Price quit The Animals in May 1965. Tension had been building within the band for some time.  They had also been touring almost non stop. The constant touring made things worse, as Alan Price had a a fear of flying. So when he left The Animals, reasons cited were personal and musical differences, plus Alan Price’s fear of flying. This was a huge blow for The Animals.

Mick Gallagher stepped into the fray, and replaced Alan Price on a temporary. This was only until Dave Rowberry joined The Animals and became their keyboardist. This was the start of a new era for The Animals.

Things improved for The Animals when Animal Tracks was released in America in September 1965.  It reached fifty-seven in the US Billboard 200. That was despite many of the tracks on Animal Tracks having already featured on The Animals On Tour. It seemed that The Animals were still one of the most popular and prolific British Invasion bands.

The Animals had released three albums in America in the space of a year. Each album had sold well, and by late 1965, The Animals were one of the most popular British Invasion bands. They were rubbing shoulders withThe Kinks and The Who, and had set their sights on The Beatles and Rolling Stones. If all went well, The Animals could be one of the biggest British bands of the sixties. However, the pressure continued to build as The Animals began to work on their new American album, Animalization.

Animalization.

When work began on Animalization, the lineup of The Animals featured a rhythm section of drummer John Steel, bassist Bryan “Chas” Chandler and guitarist Hilton Valentine. Completing the lineup, were vocalist Eric Burdon and keyboardist Dave Rowberry. They chosen twelve songs that became Animalization.

Just like previous albums, the majority of Animalisms featured cover versions. This included covers of  soul, blues and R&B songs. Among them, were Joe Tex’s One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show, John Lee Hooker’s Maudie, Chuck Berry’s Sweet Little Sixteen, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ I Put a Spell on You and Alonzo Tucker and Jackie Wilson’s Squeeze Her, Tease Her. Joining the nine cover versions were a trio songs penned by members of The Animals.

Eric Burdon and new keyboardist Dave Rowberry formed a new songwriting partnership, penning You’re On My Mind and She’ll Return It. Dave Rowberry also wrote Clappin’. The Animals’ newest member was making his presence felt. Soon, though Dave Rowberry was no longer the new member of The Animals.

When recording of Animalization began, work began on laying down twelve tracks with producer Mickie Most. Dave Rowberry made his Animals’ debut, adding keyboards. However, with eight tracks recorded, drummer John Steel quit. He was replaced by Barry Jenkins, who featured on Don’t Bring Me Down, Cheating, See See Rider and She’ll Return It. Once the album was complete, Animalization was released in June 1966.

Prior to the release of Animalization, reviews of the album were published. They were mostly positive, with some of the reviews calling Animalisms one of The Animals’ best albums. Elements of blues, rock, R&B and soul were combined by The Animals. The only problem was, The Animals were still too reliant on cover versions. Maybe the Eric Burdon and Dave Rowberry songwriting partnership would flourish? That was in the future.

When Animalization was released in America, the album reached number twenty in the US Billboard 200, and became The Animals’ second biggest selling American album. Now they had to build on the success of Animalization.

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Animalisms (US Version).

Just four months later, The Animals released an American version of Animalisms. It featured an alternative track listing, which featured twelve cover versions. They were an eclectic selection of songs.

Frank Zappa’s All Night Long sat side by side with Sam Cooke’s Shake, Fred Neil’s The Other Side of This Life, Howlin’ Wolf’s Smokestack Lightnin’, Percy Mayfield’s Hit The Road Jack, Muddy Water’s Louisiana Blues and Donovan’s Hey Gyp. These songs were recorded during July 1966.

The recording session took place at Lansdowne Recording Studio, in London, England and T.T.G, Hollywood, in California. Tom Wilson took charge of production. He gave The Animals more freedom to express themselves artistically. They embraced this opportunity on what was the last session that featured drummer Barry Jenkins. He played on ten tracks, with John Steel playing on Outcast and That’s All I Am to You. When the sessions were complete, Animalisms was released on 21st November 1966.

When critics heard Animalisms they were impressed with the album, which found The Animals relishing their new found artistic freedom. They flit seamlessly between musical genres on Animalisms. Sadly, when Animalisms was release, it failed to chart. This was a huge disappointment. However, the times they were a changing for The Animals.

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When a cover of the blues classic See See Rider was released, the group were now billed as Eric Burdon and The Animals. This lineup was short-lived and split-up in September 1966. The Animals’ career was over after just two years.

Eric Burdon and The Animals.

A new chapter in The Animals’ story began shortly thereafter. Eric Burdon began putting together a new band. Drummer Barry Jenkins was the first person recruited by Eric Burdon for his new band.

This new band became Eric Burdon and The Animals, who musically had undergone a Damascene conversion musically. Previously, Eric Burdon had a been a disciple of hard driving blues. Not any longer. He decided to incorporate his take on psychedelic rock into Eric Burdon and The Animals’ music. This began on their debut album Eric Is Here.

While Eric Burdon and The Animals was a new band, not all members of the band featured on the band’s debut album Eric Is Here. It comprised entirely of twelve cover versions. This time around, Eric Burdon was relying on many Brill Building songwriters. This included Goffin and King’s On this Side of Goodbye, Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil’s It’s Not Easy and Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart’s In The Night. Three Randy Newman songs were also chosen, including Mama Told Me Not To Come, I Think It’s Going To Rain Today and Wait Till Next Year. These songs were quite unlike what The Animals had previously covered. However, this was a new beginning for Eric Burdon and The Animals.

What didn’t change was that Tom Johnson produced Eric Is Here. He brought onboard an orchestra, who accompanied Eric Burdon and The Animals. They combined  blues rock, R&B psychedelic rock and rock on Eric Is Here. Alas, it was neither a potent nor heady brew.

When Eric Is Here was released, only Eric Band and Barry Jenkins were credited as having played on the album.  It proved to be an inauspicious start to Eric Burdon and The Animals’ career. Neither critics nor record buyers were won over by Eric Is Here. The reviews of Eric Is Here included some of the worst that any Animals album had received. Things got were when Eric Is Here was released in March 1967. The album stalled at a lowly 121 in the US Billboard 200. Across the Atlantic, Eric Is Here failed to chart in Britain. All that Eric Burdon could hope, that things would improve when Eric Burdon and The Animals released their sophomore album, Winds Of Change.

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Winds Of Change.

Following the disappointment of Eric Is Here, Eric Burdon began putting together Eric Burdon and The Animals. Joining  drummer Barry Jenkins in the rhythm section was bassist Danny McCulloch and guitarist Vic Briggs. The final piece of the jigsaw was John Weider, who played electric violin. Now  Eric Burdon and The Animals could begin to move towards psychedelic rock on their sophomore album Winds Of Change.

On their previous album Eric Is Here, Eric Burdon and The Animals had just toyed with psychedelic rock. Not this time. psychedelic rock. Eric Burdon and The Animals wrote ten new tracks, and covered Mick Jagger and Keith Richards’ Paint It Black. Producing Winds Of Change was Tom Johnson.

Recording of Winds Of Change took place over a two week period in March 1967, at TTG Studios in Los Angeles. That was where Eric Burdon and The Animals recorded their hard rocking cover of Paint It Black. The rest of Winds Of Change was the most psychedelic album Eric Burdon and The Animals recorded and released.

Winds Of Change was released in September 1967, but before that, critics lavished the album with critical acclaim. It was Eric Burdon and The Animals at their most psychedelic, on what was one of their best albums. Among the highlights were Winds Of Change and  Yes I Am Experienced which was Eric Burdon and The Animals’ answer to the Jimi Hendrix Experience. The quality continued on San Franciscan Nights, Good Times and the album closer, It’s All Meat. It found Eric Burdon and The Animals at their most psychedelic. After a false start, Eric Burdon and The Animals had returned with a career defining album.

When Winds Of Change was released in September 1967, it reached forty-two in the US Billboard 200, but failed to chart in Britain. Despite that, it looked as if Eric Burdon and The Animals might go on to reach the heights that The Animals reached between 1964 and 1966. The new group certainly had the talent, and had something that The Animals lacked. Eric Burdon and The Animals featured five talented songwriters. They would put their songwriting skills to good use on The Twain Shall Meet.

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The Twain Shall Meet.

For the very first time in the history of The Animals and Eric Burdon and The Animals,  an entire album was written by members of the band. This was a first. No longer were Eric Burdon and The Animals reliant on old blues or R&B songs. Gone also, were the days when Eric Burdon and The Animals relied upon songs by Brill Building songwriters. The Twain Shall Meet was written by the five members of Eric Burdon and The Animals. 

Among the songs they wrote for The Twain Shall Meet was Monterey, a celebration of 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. Sky Pilot Parts 1 & 2) was an anti Vietnam War song, which would give Eric Burdon and The Animals  a number fourteen hit single in the US Billboard 200. It tapped into the mood of the American nation. These songs were recorded in December 1967.

When the recording began, Tom Wilson returned to produce The Twain Shall Meet. This time though, two vocalist were used on The Twain Shall Meet. Eric Burdon took charge of the vocals on five  songs, while bassist Danny McCulloch added the vocals on Just the Thought and Orange and Red Beam. These seven songs were completed later in December 1967, and released in April 1968.

Unlike Winds Of Change which was released to critical acclaim, The Twain Shall Meet received mixed reviews. One of the fiercest critics of The Twain Shall Meet was Rolling Stone magazine. This was disappointing for Eric Burdon and The Animals.

So was the performance of The Twain Shall Meet.  It was only released. When it was released in March 1967, Eric Burdon and The Animals’ third album stalled at just seventy-nine in the US Billboard 200, but failed to chart in Britain. The only small crumb of comfort was the performance of the singles.

Monterey was the lead single, and fifteen in the US Billboard 100. The followup Anything, reached just a lowly eighty in the US Billboard 100. However, Sky Pilot then reached number fifteen in the US Billboard 100 and forty in the Britain. Two top twenty singles almost made-up for The Twain Shall Meet stalling a seventy-nine in the US Billboard 200. Maybe Eric Burdon and The Animals’ next album, Every One of Us, would be bigger success?

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Every One of Us.

1968 was without doubt, the busiest year of Eric Burdon and The Animals’ career. They released a trio of albums. The second album in the trio was Every One of Us, which was recently reissued by BGO Records. It’s a welcome reissue, because when Eric Burdon and The Animals released Every One of Us, it was never released in Britain. 

Eric Burdon and The Animals were never as popular as The Animals in Britain. None of their albums had charted in Britain. It was very different to when The Animals enjoyed three top ten albums. That was the past, and the past was another country for Eric Burdon and The Animals.

When work began on Every One of Us, Eric Burdon and The Animals were now a sextet. Zoot Money, a British vocalist and keyboardist  had joined the band. The addition of a new band member was risky. There was always the potential that it would upset the equilibrium of the band. Especially since the band had been working well together, and had written two albums. This changed on Every One of Us.

For Every One of Us, which featured seven tracks, Eric Burdon wrote much of the album He penned White Houses, Uppers and Downers, The Immigrant Lad, The Year Of The Guru and cowrote New York 1963-America 1968 with Zoot Money. Eric Burdon also arranged the traditional song St. James Infirmary Blues. The only song that Eric Burdon didn’t play a part in was Serenade To A Sweet Lady. It was written by John Weider. These seven songs would become Every One of Us.

When recording of Every One of Us began, there was no sign of producer Tom Wilson. Instead, Eric Burdon and The Animals produced For Every One of Us. By then, the rhythm section consisted of drummer Barry Jenkins, bassist and 12-string guitarist Danny McCulloch and guitarist and bassist Vic Briggs. John Weider switched between guitar and celeste and Zoots Money played Hammond organ and piano. This time round, Eric Burdon took charge of all the vocals. Once Every One of Us was complete, it was scheduled for release later in 1968.

Before that, critics had their say on Every One of Us. They concluded that Every One of Us was a much more accomplished album than its predecessor The Twain Shall Meet. Blues rock and psychedelia melted into one, as Eric Burdon and The Animals hit the ground running on Every One of Us.

White House was full of social commentary about the America’s ills circa 1968. Eric Burdon’s lyrics are some of the best on the album.  However, when White House gives way to the twenty-four second Uppers and Downers, it’s a gateway to the John Welder penned Serenade To A Sweet Lady. It’s an understated slice of psychedelic jazz, that meanders along. It proves the perfect showcase for Eric Burdon and The Animals’ considerable musical talents. Especially the guitar playing, which veers between folk to jazz tinged. In terms of musicianship,  Serenade To A Sweet Lady has to be the highlight of the album. However, there’s still much more

The Immigrant Lad is a conceptual piece that’s set in an East End bar. It’s a mixture music, dialogue and theatre, that takes on a progressive sound. Although very different from what’s gone before, it’s another ambitious track from the pen of Eric Burdon. 

Although St. James Infirmary is a traditional song that Eric Burdon and The Animals give a makeover, it sounds as if it owes a debt of gratitude to House Of The Rising Sun. Especially Eric Burdon’s  delivery of the lyrics, and the arrangement where blues, rock and jazz are combined with psychedelia. This leaves just New York 1963-America 1968, a nineteen minute epic. The lyrics are cinematic and full of social comment. Eric Burdon deals with the issues of politics and race, in a track where drama and theatre give way to a full blown jam around the eleven minute mark. After that,  Eric Burdon and The Animals kick loose, and once again showcase their inconsiderable talents. It’s an impressive way to close Every One of Us, which was released in August 1968.

When Every One of Us was released in August 1968, this accomplished album of psychedelic blues stalled at just 152 in the US Billboard 200. This was a huge disappointment, considering the quality of the music and musicianship. The critics had thought that Every One of Us would fare much better. Things didn’t improve when White House was released as a single. It reached just sixty-seven in the US Billboard 100. For Eric Burdon and The Animals this just rubbed salt into their wounds.

Eric Burdon and The Animals had released what was without doubt, one of their finest albums since the release of Eric Is Here in March 1967. The only album that surpasses Every One of Us, is Winds Of Change which was released in September 1967. Even Love Is which was released in December 1968 failed to match the quality of Every One of Us. Love Is proved to be Eric Burdon and The Animals’ swan-song, and the third of three albums the band released during 1968.

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It was the most prolific and productive year of Eric Burdon and The Animals’ career. However, their finest moment of 1968 was Every One of Us, an oft-overlooked hidden gem that wasn’t released in Britain. That was a great shame, as British record buyers never got the opportunity to hear what was the finest moments of Eric Burdon and The Animals. That is until now.

Recently,  BGO Records reissued a remastered version of Every One of Us. This is the perfect opportunity to discover or rediscover Every One of Us, the fourth album from Eric Burdon and The Animals. Every One of Us is a highly accomplished and vastly underrated album of psychedelic blues from Eric Burdon and The Animals, which was one of their finest moments.

ERIC BURDON AND THE ANIMALS-EVERY ONE OF US.

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COME BACK STRONG-HOT ATLANTA SOUL 4.

COME BACK STRONG-HOT ATLANTA SOUL 4.

Everyone who founds a record company, has their own reason for doing so. Often, they own a recording studio or manage artists and bands. Founding their own record label is a natural progression for them. That was also the case with three giants of music.

During the golden age of music, a number of bands, including The Beatles, Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin formed their own record labels. The Beatles’ Apple Records and Led Zeppelin’s Swan Song were more like a traditional label, signing and releasing music by other artists. By contrast, Rolling Stones Records, was just a vehicle for The Rolling Stones’ music. Despite this The Beatles, Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin were trailblazers, and led the way for a later generation of musicians.

Nowadays, many artists and bands found their own label, purely to release their own music. They may eventually release other people’s music, but initially, only release their own music. However, it’s not just people within the music industry who decide to form record labels.

Musical history is littered with examples of entrepreneurs who thought they could make money out of running a record company. The only problem was, they lacked the specialised skills that were required. There was a way round this, but surrounding themselves with music industry professionals. Then they were in with a fighting change of running a profitable record company. However, some entrepreneurs have an ulterior motive when they a found record company. This includes Michael Thevis.

The story began in the early seventies, when Michael Thevis was looking for a legitimate way to get his substantial fortune into the financial system. By then, Michael Thevis was  heavily involved in pornography. So much so, that he would later admit to a Louisville jury that he was: “the General Motors of pornography.” That was still to come.

In the  early seventies, Michael Thevis had a problem. He discovered that he was under investigation from the FBI. Not wanting to follow in the footsteps of Al Capone and Dutch Schultz, who were brought down by federal investigations, Michael Thevis began looking for legitimate enterprises.

Casting around looking for a legitimate business, Michael Thevis hit upon the idea of forming not one, but three record labels. This included GRC (General Recording Corporation), Aware and Hot Atlanta. These labels were part of Michael Thevis’ nascent musical empire. The three labels recorded some of the music on Come Back Strong-Hot Atlanta Soul 4, which will be released on Kent Soul, an imprint of Ace Records on 26th August 2016. Many of these songs were recorded at another part of Michael Thevis’ nascent musical empire.

Soon, there was a new addition to Michael Thevis’ musical empire, the Sound Pit Studio in Atlanta. It boasted some of the best equipment money could buy. Building the studio made financial sense. It saved hiring other studios, and meant artists signed to GRC, Aware and Hot Atlanta could record at the impressive Sound Pit Studio. When the studio wasn’t in use by Michael Thevis’ artists, it could be hired out, and bring in much needed income. However, as all this empire building continued, tongues began wagging, including Michael Thevis.

Veterans of the Atlanta music scene watched, as the state-of-the-art studio took shape. This was the most advanced studio in Atlanta. It was a similar case with the rest of Michael Thevis’ musical empire.

No expense was spared as Michael Thevis expanded his musical emprire. He added to his record labels and Act One publishing company, the Jason Management booking agency and a film company. They became part of Michael Thevis’ musical empire. He was proud of his empire, and wasn’t shy about telling people about it.

Rather than keep a low profile, Michael Thevis ran his musical empire from a lavish suite of offices in Atlanta. They were featured in Billboard in May 1974, when the magazine ran a feature on the Atlanta music industry. A bullish Michael Thevis told Billboard of his latest takeover, and his expansion plans.

Recently, Michael Thevis had recently bought the Moonsong publishing company from Bill Brandon. This became part of the GRC’s publishing division, alongside Act One, Michael Thevis’ own publishing company. To run the newly expanded publishing division, Bill Brandon joined GRC, and became the publishing manager of GRC’s R&B division. However, the acquisition of Moonsong was just part of Michael Thevis’ grand plan.

Michael Thevis told Billboard of his plans to build a brand new twenty-eight story skyscraper in Atlanta. This would be where he ran his musical empire. It would have outposts in Nashville, Houston, Los Angles, New York and London. What made Michael Thevis’ seem all the more convincing, was when he booked eight pages of advertising in Billboard’s Atlanta special.

To most people, Michael Thevis came across as a legitimate businessman, who had big plans for the future, and for Atlanta. By then, everyone seemed to buy into Michael Thevis’ grand plan. He was the local boy who had made good. It was a case of hail the conquering hero. 

Incredibly, though, nobody seemed to be paying close attention to the numbers. None of Michael Thevis’ record companies were particularly successful. They were nether consistently releasing hit singles, nor successful albums. So where was all the income coming from? Was it the publishing company, recording studio, booking company or film company? Nobody it seemed, was in a hurry to find out. Given Michael Thevis past and his reputation for violence, maybe that wasn’t surprising?

Originally, Michael Thevis’ film company financed legitimate films. This included the Zhui Ming Qiang in 1973, and  Seizure,  one of Oliver Stone’s earliest films. It was released in 1974. A year later, Michael Thevis had gone up in the world, and released Poor Pretty Eddy 1975. Every film was bringing greater riches Michael Thevis’ way. However, although Michael Thevis was trying to build a legitimate business empire, he had reverted to type. 

The film company he had acquired began producing pornographic films. If any journalist had even looked into activities of Michael Thevis’ empire, it could’ve come tumbling down. This looked unlikely in early 1975.

Country singer Sammy Johns had been signed to GRC for a couple of year. In  early 1973, Sammy Johns released Chevvy Van as a single. It was reported to have sold over three million copies. Given that a GRC artist had just enjoyed such a successful single, surely the label’s finances would be on a sound footing as 1975 progressed?

One would’ve thought so. However, many of GRC, Aware and Hot Atlanta’s releases weren’t particularly successful, and didn’t sell in vast quantities. These losses were mounting up. Michael Thevis’ record companies weren’t particularly successful. They had their uses though.

Running a regional record companies offered Michael Thevis an opportunity and facility to launder dirty money. He could’ve used dirty money to buy his own companies’ releases. These phantom record sales would only exist on paper, and would have the effect of laundering the dirty money through the company’s accounts. Once the money was in the record company’s accounts, tax could be paid on the profit that had been made. This would further legitimise any dirty money the company was making. Especially, as the FBI were still watching Michael Thevis.

In late 1975, Michael Thevis’ musical empire came crashing down. After nearly three years of investigating Michael Thevis, the FBI swooped, and arrested him. His entire musical empire came crashing down. Artists were left high and dry, and Michael Thevis’ grand plans were left in tatters. It looked like the beginning of the end for GRC and Michael Thevis.

It wasn’t. Michael Thevis’ wife Veld and son Michael Jr, took over the running of GRC. For Michael Thevis worse was to come.

He was convicted of conspiracy to commit arson, and distribution of obscene materials. The man who sparked the three year investigation into Michael Thevis, even testified in court. Roger Dean Underhill  took to the stand, and the FBI’s informant testified against his former business partner. He thought this was the right thing to do.

Alas, it was a decision Roger Dean Underhill would live to regret. In 1978, Michael Thevis managed to escape from prison. Straight away, he was placed on the FBI’s top ten most wanted list. By then, Michael Thevis and some of his ‘associates’ had placed an open contract on Roger Dean Underhill.

When the hit came, the shooter was none other than Michael Thevis. He shot and killed Roger Dean Underhill and one of his associates. Not long after the murders, Michael Thevis was arrested and taken to a high security facility. The Scarface of Porn was the convicted of the two murders. Over thirty years later, and Michael Thevis is still serving his sentence. Parole looks unlikely for the man who founded the GRC, Aware and Hot Atlanta record labels.  

GRC, Aware and Hot Atlanta were home to some of the most talented artists in the southern states of America. This included  Sam Dees, John Edwards, Dee Irwin, Joe Hinton, Loleatta Holloway, Danny Johnson, Jimmy Lewis and Dorothy Norwood. They all feature on Come Back Strong-Hot Atlanta Soul 4, which I’ll pick the highlights of.

Opening Come Back Strong-Hot Atlanta Soul 4 is an unreleased track from Dorothy Norwood. She was born in Atlanta, but moved to Chicago where she joined gospel supergroup The Caravans. After leaving The Caravans, Dorothy Norwood signed to the Savoy label, she released a trio of gospel albums. By 1973, Dorothy Norwood was back in Atlanta and signed to GRC. 

She released four singles for GRC between 1973 and 1975. However, Big Boat Ride, which was penned and produced by Deke Richards, and was the one that got away. Dorothy Norwood sings call and response with her backing vocalists, and seamlessly combines gospel and soul on this long lost hidden gem. It’s a welcome discovery, and reminder of what Dorothy Norwood is capable of.

Another song that was recorded for GMC, but never released, was John Edwards’ cover of Sam Dees’ Come Back Strong. Things might have been very different, had the Aware label which John Edwards was signed to, had not closed its doors in such a hurry. Maybe Come Back Strong would’ve given the future member of The Detroit Spinners that elusive hit single, as he brings new meaning to this Sam Dees’ classic?

When Judy Green released Face To Face as a single on the Aware label. Tucked away on the B-Side was I Still Love You So. Both songs were written and produced by Atlanta born Thomas “Tee” Fletcher. When Face To Face was released, it was only the second single that Aware had released. It was the perfect showcase for Judy Green.

She was a talented and versatile singer, who was born and brought up in Rockmart, Georgia. Judy Green delivers a vocal powerhouse on the hook-laden Face To Face. It epitomises everything that’s good about Southern Soul. The flip side I Still Love You So is a beautiful ballad, which shows another side to Judy Green. She seems to live the lyrics, as she delivers a needy, hopeful vocal.

By 1973, Joe Hinton’s recording career was a decade old, when he signed to GRC’s imprint Hot Atlanta. Already, the singer-songwriter had already passed through various labels, and was hoping that Hot Atlanta was the start of something new. It was. He wrote two songs for the 1974 movie Black Scarlet with Dee Irwin. These two songs feature on the Black Starlet promo EP. 

This included the beautiful, piano lead soulful ballad Up Is Down. Then on Hollywood Faces Joe Hinton is joined by Dee Irwin. They duet on what is a funky, soulful and cinematic ballad. Joe Hinton’s last contribution, is a cover of Jimmy Lewis’ A Hundred Years From Now. It’s a lovely, understated and enchanting ballad that meanders along, and in the process, showcases the vocal prowess of Joe Hinton.

Prolific. That is probably the best word to describe singer-songwriter Jimmy Lewis. He wrote many songs, which were covered by a variety of artists. Jimmy Lewis also recorded many of the songs he wrote. This includes I Can’t Leave You Alone, a Southern Soul ballad, where Jimmy Lewis delivers a needy vocal. Sadly, this song lay in GRC’s vaults until 2002, when it was released on a compilation Kent Soul compilation. It makes a welcome reappearance on Come Back Strong-Hot Atlanta Soul 4.

Another prolific songwriter was Sam Dees. He penned both sides  Jean Battle’s sophomore single. It was released on Red Lite in 1972 as a double-A side. Both sides ooze quality, but When A Woman Loves A Man is the stronger of the two. It features a soul-baring vocal, on another Southern Soul hidden gem.

Lorraine Johnson was born in Alabama in 1949, and like many future soul singers, grew up singing gospel. By the late sixties, Lorraine Johnson had crossed over and was singing in clubs. It was around this time, that Lorraine Johnson met Bill Brandon, who would introduce later, her to Clinton Moon and Jesse Lewis, who owned Moonsong Records. 

In 1973, Bill Brandon and Lorraine Johnson released Let’s Make Our New Love Something Special as a single. Both sides were penned by Sam Dees, who became Lorraine Johnson’s vocal coach. Sadly, that was Lorraine Johnson’s only release on Moonsong Records. She did record a number other songs, which have lain unreleased. This includes A Love Like Yours and the Sam Dees and Fredrick Knight composition The Best Of My Years. It features a heartfelt and soulful vocal from Lorraine Johnson, who with Sam Dees’ help and guidance, was blossoming into a talented and versatile singer. 

When William Brandon and Sam Dees cowrote Claim Jumpin’ Man, it was meant to be the followup to his 1972 single Stop This Merry-Go-Round. William Brandon recorded the song, and then tried to garner interest from various labels. When they passed on the song, Moonsong decided to keep the song for their own artists. Since then, William Brandon’s version of Claim Jumpin’ Man, has lain unreleased. It features a vocal powerhouse on this memorable slice of Southern Soul.

During the seventies, Sam Dees recorded many demos, including What Good Is Love. It was never released until 2015, when it found its way onto Kent Soul’s compilation It’s Over. What Good Is Love is a tantalising taste of what Sam Dees is capable of, and a reminder of the It’s Over compilation.

Chicago born Floyd Smith was a singer, songwriter and producer. One his compositions was I Want ‘Cha To Let Me Come Home, which Floyd Smith cowrote Ripple. Floyd Smith then recorded I Want ‘Cha To Let Me Come Home. It was hidden away on the flip side of Floyd Smith’s 1974 single for Aware, The Bump. I Want ‘Cha To Let Me Come Home is a much better song, and if released as a single, would surely have fared much better than The Bump, which was ill-judged attempt to cash in on a short-lived dance craze.

Back in the early seventies, Rozetta Johnson was signed to the Clintone label. This meant she benefited from the songwriting skills of Sam Dees. He wrote I’ve Come Too Far Back (To Turn Back Now) with Jesse Lewis). Several versions of the song were recorded, but were never released. That was until 1998, when Kent Soul released a compilation of Rozetta Johnson’s music, I’ve Come Too Far Back (To Turn Back Now). The version Come Back Strong-Hot Atlanta 4 never made it onto the compilation, and is a welcome addition. It’s a beautiful ballad, which features an impassioned vocal from Rozetta Johnson.

My final choice from Come Back Strong-Hot Atlanta 4 is Loleatta Holloway’s So Can I. It’s another Sam Dees composition, which was the flip side of Loleatta Holloway’s single Cry To Me. It was released on Aware in 1974. This was the same year as Loleatta Holloway’s husband Floyd Smith released The Bump. There was no comparison, with Loleatta Holloway wining hands down. Even So Can I which features a vocal powerhouse from Loleatta Holloway stands head and shoulders above The Bump. That’s not surprising, as Loleatta Holloway was one of the crown jewel’s of Aware Records, and Michael Thevis’ musical empire.

GRC and the rest of Michael Thevis’ musical empire all came crashing down in late 1975. Michael Thevis’ attempt to build a legitimate business empire was doomed to failure. It had been for three years, ever since the FBI starting investigating his business activities.

That was when Roger Dean Underhill was involved in a routine traffic stop. An eagle-eyed traffic officer noticed a small cache of stolen guns under the passenger seat. This resulted in Roger Dean Underhill being arrested. Rather than face the consequences, Roger Dean Underhill decided to inform upon his business partner, Michael Thevis. This lead to the start of a three year investigation that resulted, in the arrest and subsequent conviction of Michael Thevis. For all the artists signed to GRC, Aware and Hot Atalanta, this was the beginning of the end.

It was a disaster for all the artists affected by the collapse. They were left without a label. Some of the artists were also owed royalties, which in some cases, was a significant sum of money. For the artists signed to GRC, Aware and Hot Atalanta, they had no idea what the future held for them.

They certainly could never have envisaged that forty-one years later, some of their music would be among the twenty-three tracks on Come Back Strong-Hot Atlanta 4. It will be released by Kent Soul, an imprint of Ace Records on 26th August 2016.

Come Back Strong-Hot Atlanta 4 is one of the finest compilations of Southern Soul that’s been released this year. It features contributions from Sam Dees, John Edwards, Dee Irwin, Joe Hinton, Loleatta Holloway, Danny Johnson, Jimmy Lewis and Dorothy Norwood. That is just part of the story of Come Back Strong-Hot Atlanta 4.

There’s much more music to discover on Come Back Strong-Hot Atlanta 4, which has been lovingly compiled by Ady Croasdell. He’s chosen a mixture of familiar faces, old friends and new names. They feature on the latest instalment in the Hot Atlanta series, Come Back Strong-Hot Atlanta 4. So singles, B-Sides and unreleased tracks. They have one thing in common, their indisputable quality. 

Some of the best songwriters, musicians and producers were employed to produce the music on Come Back Strong-Hot Atlanta 4. Many of the artists on Come Back Strong-Hot Atlanta 4 went on to enjoy long and successful careers. Sadly, others never quite enjoyed the commercial success and critical acclaim their music deserved. It was a case of what might have been. Hopefully, Come Back Strong-Hot Atlanta 4 will introduce each of the artists on the compilation to a new, and much wider audience. This music is part of the rich musical legacy that Michael Thevis’ burgeoning musical empire left behind, after its sudden demise in late 1975. 

Nearly three years after Michael Thevis’ attempt to buy respectability began, it was foiled by the FBI. This was the end of what was a remarkable escape in Atlanta’s musical history. Part of the story is documented on Come Back Strong-Hot Atlanta 4, which is a tantalising reminder of Atlanta’s rich and vibrant musical scnee during the early seventies.

COME BACK STRONG-HOT ATLANTA SOUL 4.

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THE DAMNED-THE BLACK ALBUM.

THE DAMNED-THE BLACK ALBUM.

By 1980, change was afoot for The Damned. This wasn’t new. The last four years had been turbulent for The Damned.  Their lineup had been fluid since The Damned were formed in 1976.  Members came and went, and after the release of their most disappointing album, Music For Pleasure Rat Scabies quite the band. This was the beginning of the end, and The Damned split-up in 1978.

Within a year, the band were back together. There was a problem though, due to copyright reasons, couldn’t use The Damned name. So for a while, they toured as The Doomed. However, by April 1979, The Doomed were told they were free to call themselves The Damned. It looked like their luck was changing.

That seemed to be the case. The Damned signed to Chiswick Records, and recorded their third album, Machine Gun Etiquette. It was released in November 1979, and hailed a classic album. This lead to some debate whether Machine Gun Etiquette was The Damned’s first second classic album. 

Some critics believed that The Damned’s 1977 debut album Damned, Damned, Damned was a classic. Others weren’t so sure and were of the belief that Machine Gun Etiquette was The Damned’s first classic album. However, all critics agreed on one thing, that it was good that The Damned were back with a settled lineup. This critics hoped would soon begin recording the followup to Machine Gun Etiquette. However, the was a problem.

There always seemed to be in the early years of The Damned. In the early part of 1980 Algy Ward The Damned’s bassist left the band. He had only joined in 1978, but played an important part in the sound and success of Machine Gun Etiquette. Algy Ward was going to be sadly missed.

Fortunately, The Damned just happened to have a readymade replacement for Algy Ward, Paul Gray. He was formerly the bassist in Essex pub rockers Eddie and The Hot Rods. 

They had released their third album Thriller in March 1979, which stalled at number fifty in the UK album charts. Thriller had failed to replicate the success of 1977s Life On The Line.  The album reached twenty-three on the UK album charts, and featured the hit single Do Anything You Wanna Do. It reached number nine in the UK singles charts. This set the bar high for Eddie and The Hot Rods. 

Neither of the two singles charted, and Thriller made just a brief visit to the UK album charts. It was the beginning of the end for Eddie and The Hot Rods. By May 1979, Paul Gray was playing bass for The Members, while Brian Masters and Chris Taylor were members of Plus Support. This just added fuel to the rumours that Eddie and The Hot Rods were about to split-up.  That didn’t happen though.

Instead, Eddie and The Hot Rods were dropped by Island. The reason given was the disappointing sales of their 1979 album Thriller. Eddie and The Hot Rods night have been down, but they weren’t out.

Tony Cranney was drafted in to replace Tony Gray as Eddie and The Hot Rods’ bassist.  The timing was perfect. Eddie and The Hot Rods had signed a new contract with EMI in August 1979. Soon, Tony Gray was on the move too.

After the departure of Algy Ward in early 1980, The Damned were needing a new bassist. Tony Ward fitted the bill, and joined The Damned in time to record the followup to Machine Gun Etiquette, The Black Album. Just like Machine Gun Etiquette, The Black Album was recently reissued on vinyl by Ace Records. It was The Damned’s fourth album, and first double album in their four year history.

The Damned were formed in London in 1976, when members of two existing groups decided to form a new band. This included Dave Lett, Raymond Burns and Chris Millar, who previously, had  been members of Masters Of The Backside. They were joined by final Brian Robertson, who had been a member of the London SS. They became The Dammed.

In The Damned, the four musicians dawned new musical identities. Vocalist David Lett was known as Dave Vanian; drummer Chris Millar became Rat Scabies; bassist and future guitarist Raymond Burns sported the moniker Captain Sensible. Guitarist Brian Robertson became known as Brian James. Together as The Damned, they soon began making their presence felt in London’s nascent punk scene.

On the 6th of July 1976, The Damned made their live debut, when they supported the Sex Pistols at 100 Club. This was the start of a rivalry between the two groups, which saw one writing their name into musical history.

Having made their live debut, The Damned’s thoughts eventually turned to releasing a debut single. None of the punk groups had released a single yet. Somebody had to be first, so why not The Damned?

They headed to Pathway Studios, London, with producer Nick Lowe. That was where The Damned recorded their new single, the Brian James’ composition New Rose. On the B-Side, was a cover The Beatles’ Help, which was given a punk makeover. Once the single was recorded, it was released on October 22nd 1976, and made history.

New Rose was released by Stiff Records, and reached eighty-one in the UK single charts. It became the first single to be released by a British punk rock group. The Damned had beaten the Sex Pistols’ Anarchy In The UK to the title by five weeks. This wouldn’t the only time The Damned made musical history.

Damned, Damned, Damned.

After the success of New Rose, The Damned headed out on tour with the Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Heartbreakers. The plan was to tour Britain, taking punk to the provinces. However, by then, the Sex Pistols had released Anarchy In The UK as a single. This resulted in many venues cancelling the concerts, in case anarchy in the provinces broke out. After a shorter tour than The Damned had expected, they returned to London, and completed the recording of their debut album.

Recording of Damned, Damned, Damned took place during three sessions at Pathway Studios, London. The first was in September 1976, with the album being completed in December 1976 and January 1977. In total, it had taken just ten days to record  Damned, Damned, Damned. This left just the album to be mixed. It was completed on 15th January 1977, and just a month later, Damned, Damned, Damned was released.

Before that, critics had their say on The Damned’s debut album Damned, Damned, Damned. The reviews were mostly positive, and praised the energy and humour of the songs. Most were penned by Brian James, with Tony James cowriting Fish, and Rat Scabies contributing Stab Yor Back. Closing the album was a cover of The Stooges’ I Feel Alright. It was one of the tracks where critics remarked upon drive and energy of the rhythm section.  Rat Scabies’ drums and Brian James’ bass were crucial to the album’s sound and indeed, success.

When Stiff Records released The Damned’s debut album Damned, Damned, Damned, on 18th February 1977, it reached number thirty-one in the UK album charts. Making the success even sweeter, was the thought that The Damned had become the first punk band to release an album. Again, The Damned had beaten their old nemesis’ the Sex Pistols again, and in doing so, had written their way into musical history. This was becoming a habit.

Alas, The Damned’s run of breaking records came to an abrupt end on 18th February 1977. The same day as Damned, Damned, Damned was released, Neat, Neat, Neat was released as a single. It failed to even trouble the charts. There was small crumb of comfort. Neat, Neat, Neat featured a truly memorable bass line from Captain Sensible. So much so, that in 2006 Stylus magazine called Captain Sensible’s one of the thirty-third best bass line of all time. However, back in 1977, The Damned hardly had time to worry about the commercial failure of Neat, Neat, Neat.

Straight after the release of Damned, Damned, Damned, The Damned headed out on tour, to promote their debut album. Then in March 1977, The Damned got the opportunity to open for T-Rex in March 1977. Things were happening quickly for The Damned, and as  

Spring turned to summer, they then embarked upon an American tour. The Damned became the first British punk band to tour America. Again, they had beaten the Sex Pistols to the punch. However, by August 1977, changes were afoot.

In August 1977, The Damned brought onboard Lu Edmonds as a second guitarist. Around this time, there was also an ill-conceived and ill-fated attempt to bring Syd Barrett onboard to produce their sophomore album. Sadly, by then the founder of Pink Floyd was living a reclusive lifestyle and  had serious health problems. However, his onetime colleague Nick Mason agreed to produce what became Music For Pleasure.

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Music For Pleasure.

Now a five piece, The Damned began work on their sophomore album, Music For Pleasure. Again, Brian James wrote much of the album. He penned six songs of the ten songs;  cowrote Problem Child and Stretcher Case with Rat Scabies and joined with Dave Varian to write Your Eyes. The remaining song, Idiot Box, came from the pen of Dave Varian and Rat Scabies. However, to onlookers,  Brian James was playing a major part when it came to writing The Damned’s first two albums. Without him, where would they be?

When it came to recording Music For Pleasure, The Damned had come up in the world. They headed to Britannia Row Studios, which Pink Floyd had built after recording Wish You Were Here in 1975. It was a cutting edge facility, and very different to most studios that punk bands frequented. WithNick Mason taking care of production, The Damned recorded the ten tracks that became Music For Pleasure. Once it was recorded, Stiff Records scheduled the release for late 1977.

Eventually, Music For Pleasure was scheduled for released on the 18th November 1977. Before that, critics had their say on the album. Critics were far from impressed. Part of the problem was the quality of songs. They failed to match the quality on Damned, Damned, Damned.  This isn’t unusual, as often, a band have spent months, even years writing their debut album. So when asked to write an album in a short space of time, this is often a step too far. Among the few highlights were Politics, Alone, Your Eyes  and Creep (You Can’t Fool Me). They just about stood up to scrutiny, in an album that some critics felt, lacked focus and musical direction. Even new addition Lu Edmonds came in for criticism, with critics doubting that he brought anything to the table.  Did The Damned really need two guitarists? That some critics felt was debatable. However, Lu Edmonds almost got away lightly. Other critics went further, calling the album a disaster and a musical misjudgement. This didn’t augur well for the released of Music For Pleasure.

Especially when Stretcher Case Baby had been released as the lead single,  on 3rd July 1977, but never came close to troubling the charts. This must have worried members of The Damned and everyone at Stiff Records. Things got worse when Problem Child was released on the 28th September 1977, and failed to chart. Surely things couldn’t get any worse for The Damned?

By then, they must have been fearing the worst, and preparing for what was to come. However, even The Damned couldn’t have foreseen what would happen. When Music For Pleasure was released on the 18th November 1977, the album failed to chart. Neither did final single released from Music For Pleasure.

When  Don’t Cry Wolf which was released in December 1977, it failed to chart. It became The Damned’s fourth consecutive single that failed to chart. Only their debut single New Rose charted, and even then, reached a lowly eighty-one in the UK single charts. These were worrying times for The Damned.

Little did The Damned know that two members of the band were planning to quit. Don’t Cry Wolf would prove to be two members of The Damned’s swan-song. That was in the future. Before that, The Damned were hit by two huge blows.

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The first was when Stiff Records dropped The Damned. Suddenly, the band who were at the vanguard of the punk movement were without a label. To make matters worse, one of their most talented musicians walked away from the band.

Rat Scabies was so disappointed with Music For Pleasure, that he quit The Damned. Given the importance of Rat Scabies’ drums in The Damned’s sound, it was a blow the band wouldn’t recover from.

That is despite bringing future Culture Club drummer Jon Moss onboard. He couldn’t replicate the sound of Rat Scabies, and in February 1978, The Damned split-up for the first time.

For the next year, the members of The Damned worked on a variety of projects. However, in late 1978, Rat Scabies had formed a new band, Les Punks for a one off gig. Its lineup featured vocalist Dave Vanian, Captain Sensible and a rhythm section of drummer Rat Scabies and Motorhead’s Lemmy on bass. So successful was the Les Punks’ gig, that they reunited in early 1979.

When Les Punks reunited, they decided to change their name to The Doomed. This as close as they dare to using The Damned name. If they had performed as The Damned, there was the likelihood that  they would encounter problems with the use of the band’s trademark. By then, Captain Sensible had switched to guitar and keyboards. This left the band without a bassist. While Lemmy filled in when recording demos and playing a few live dates, he had other commitments. 

This left The Doomed searching for a replacement bassist. They thought they had found it in Henry Badowski. He spent part of 1978 playing with The Doomed. Then  Henry Badowsk was eventually replaced by The Saints’ former bassist Algy Ward. The Doomed’s problematic bass position had been solved.  At last, The Doomed had a settled lineup. The only blip came in December 1978, during The Doomed Scottish tour. Gary Holton had to briefly fill in for Dave Vanian. Apart from that, things were looking up for The Doomed.

By April 1979, The Doomed were now The Damned. The group was now, officially able to play and record as The Damned. It was a big relief to the band, whose career had been on hold. Now The Damned could begin to play live and sign a new record deal.

The Damned made their ‘second’ debut in April 1979. By then, Dave Vanian’s vocal style had changed,  and he was no longer just singing in his former high baritone style, but crooning. It came as a shock to those who remembered The Damned’s early days as punk pioneers. Another difference was The Damned had adopted a much more melodic style. It was a mixture of speed and volume, and driven along by Captain Sensible’s keyboards. The times they were a changing.

Later in 1979, The Damned’s good luck continued, when they signed a record deal with Chiswick Records. Not long after signing their new recording contract, The Damned headed to Wessex Studios to record what became Machine Gun Etiquette. 

Machine Gun Etiquette.

Before heading to Wessex Studios, The Damned had written ten new tracks and cowrote I Just Can’t Be Happy Today with Giovanni Dadomo. Gone were the days when The Damned were reliant upon one songwriter to write most of an album. Belatedly, The Damned were a democracy as far songwriting went. Machine Gun Etiquette was a much more collaborative album. It was also album where they paid homage to one of their musical heroes, MC5.

On their debut album Damned, Damned, Damned,  The Damned covered The Stooges I Feel Alright. This time around, The Damned covered MC5s Looking at You. This was fitting given the new direction The Damned’s music was about to head in on Machine Gun Etiquette.

The Damned would combine elements of sixties garage rock, pop, punk and psychedelic rock. There was also a more experimental sound Machine Gun Etiquette. It seemed as if The Damned were in the process of finding themselves musically. Helping them to do so, was producer Roger Armstrong.

When The Damned arrived at Wessex Studios, London, they immediately encountered another of the punk pioneers, The Clash. They were in the process of recording their classic album, London Calling. The new lineup of The Damned must have been hoping that their comeback album would enjoy some of the success that previous Clash albums had enjoyed. They were now one of the biggest British bands, while the third lineup of The Damned were starting over.

This new lineup of The Damned featured  vocalist Dave Vanian; drummer Rat Scabies; bassist Algy Ward and Captain Sensible who was switching between guitar and keyboards. It took two lots of sessions to record  Machine Gun Etiquette. The first began in March, and finished in May 1979. After a month which The Damned spent playing live, they returned to the studio in July. They spent the next two months completing their third album Machine Gun Etiquette. By August 1979, The Damned were ready to begin their comeback. 

For The Damned’s comeback single, the album opener Love Song was chosen.  No wonder; it was undoubtably one of the highlights of Machine Gun Etiquette. It’s memorable and catchy, as The Damned fuse elements of punk with swaggering garage rock and a memorable hook. Playing leading roles, were Rat Scabies’ drums and Captain Sensible’s blistering, searing guitar licks. Atop the arrangement, sits Dave Vernon’s punk infused vocal. This was a potent combination, which when in it was released in April 1979, caught the imagination of the record buying public. Love Song reached number twenty in the UK, and was then released in France, Germany and Holland. The Damned had just enjoyed the biggest hit of their career so far. Soon, The Damned were on a  role.

Having enjoyed a hit single with Love Song, The Damned were keen to repeat the experience. The song that was chosen for their second single, was Smash It Up. It’s a song of two parts, where the melodic first half giving way to riotous fusion of pop and punk. It was critique of hippie culture, and a call for political revolution. This the BBC took offence at, fearing it would lead to anarchy in the UK. However, this was the best thing that could happen to the song. 

Smash It Up was released on the 28th September 1979, with ironically Burglar on the B-Side. Burglar saw Rat Scabies take charge of the lead vocal. Suddenly, curiosity got the best of record buyers, who bought the single to see what the fuss was about. When this was combined with The Damned fans who bought Smash It Up, it reached thirty-six in the UK. The Damned’s call for political revolution, had been a successful and profitable exercise. 

Having released two hit singles from Machine Gun Etiquette, things were looking good for The Damned as November 1979 release date approached. There was only one hurdle left to overcome, the critics. All The Damned had to do, was avoid the slings and arrows of over critical critics.

Unlike their sophomore album Music For Pleasure, Machine Gun Etiquette was hailed a resounding success by critics. Some went as far as to use the c-word, and called Machine Gun Etiquette a classic. This some critics said, was The Damned’s second classic. However, whether Damned, Damned, Damned was a classic is debatable. Machine Gun Etiquette certainly was

Critics enjoyed, embarked and welcome The Damned’s exploration through sixties garage rock, pop, punk and psychedelic rock. They hadn’t turned their back on their punk roots, but The Damned knew that their music had to evolve. What hadn’t changed was The Damned’s ability to create music that is witty and sometimes, full of social comment. Having won over the critics by writing and recording a classic album, all that remained was to release Machine Gun Etiquette.

When Machine Gun Etiquette was released in November 1979, it was to critical acclaim. Ever since their comeback, The Damned’s luck had changed. This continued when Machine Gun Etiquette reached number thirty-one in the UK album charts. Eventually, it was certified silver. The Damned had released the most successful and finest album of their career, Machine Gun Etiquette.  Now came the hard bit, recording the followup, which became The Black Album. 

Before that, The Damned released a new single, a cover of Jefferson Airplane’s psychedelic rock classic White Rabbit. It was released in early 1980, and reached just eighty-two in the UK single charts. This must have been a disappointment. Hopefully, though, their fourth album The Black Album would more than makeup for the disappointing chart placing of White Rabbit.

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The Black Album.

Having just released the most successful album of their career, and one that was hailed a classic, The Damned got to work on their fifth album. Most bands would’ve have decided to pickup where they left on Machine Gun Etiquette. However,The Damned weren’t most bands. Instead, they were about to head off on a musical journey through disparate genres.

For The Black Album, David Vanian, Rat Scabies, Captain Sensible and Paul Gray wrote ten new tracks. The Damned also wrote Wait For The Blackout with Billy Karloff, and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde with Giovanni Dadomo. These twelve tracks were recorded at two studios.

One of studios that were used was the famous Rockfield Studios, in Monmouthshire. It had been where many classic albums had been recorded. Now The Damned became the latest group to use its prestigious studios. The rest of The Black Album was recorded at Shepperton Studios, Shepperton, in Surrey These studios became a home from home for The Damned as they recorded The Black Album.

When recording of The Black Album began, The Damned had decided to produce the album themselves using the alias The Kings Of Reverb. The exception was History Of The World (Part One), which Hans Zimmer who played synths, produced. The rest of The Black Album featured just The Damned.

For the second album in a row, drummer Rat Scabies had a new partner in the rhythm section. This time, it was bassist Paul Gray. He joined Captain Sensible who played electric guitar, acoustic guitar and keyboards. As usual, David Vanian took charge of the vocals. As the sessions began, it quickly became apparent that The Black Album wasn’t going to very different to Machine Gun Etiquette, in more ways than one. 

Quickly, it became apparent that The Black Album was a much different album from its predecessor. The Damned were veering between, gothic rock, indie rock, new wave, psychedelia, punk and rock. It’s a much more eclectic, expansive album. This made the title The Black Album all the more fitting. So would the album cover. That was still to come. 

The other difference between Machine Gun Etiquette that The Black Album was a much longer album. One track, Curtain Call, lasted just over seventeen minutes. There was no way that The Black Album would fit on one album. However, there wasn’t enough music to fit on two albums. Then came the idea to have side four feature live tracks.

Fortunately, The Damned had recorded a concert especially for members of their fan club. It had been recorded at Shepperton Studios, on 26th July 1980. Six songs were chosen from the recording of the concert, and found their way onto side four of The Black Album. This included Damned classics and favourites, including Love Song, Second Time Around, Smash It Up (Parts 1 & 2), New Rose, I Just Can’t Be Happy Today and Plan 9 Channel 7. These six songs were a tantalising taste of what The Damned live sounded like.  So was the entire recording of the fan club concert, which was released in 1982 as Live Shepperton 1980. By then, The Black Album had been released.

Before that, The Damned decided that the The Black Album deserved an album cover worth of its title.  Against a plain black album cover,  Damned was written in gothic script, which holly leaves surrounding the nameplate. However, when The Black Album was reissued in 1982 as a single album, the album cover parodied The Beatles’ White Album. However, even in its present form, the album cover was perfect for The Damned’s ambitious, sprawling and genre-hopping double album, The Black Album. It would be released in October 1980, but before that, the lead single from The Black Album was released.

Just a month prior to the release of The Black Album, The History Of The World (Part 1), was  released as  single in September 1980. On the flip side was a non album track Sugar and Spite. When The History Of The World (Part 1) was released, it came with the credit ‘credit:’ “overproduced by Hans Zimmer.” Ironically, the synth driven History Of The World (Part 1) was a poppy and polished track, and one that radio stations should’ve picked up on. Alas, it reached just fifty-one in the UK singles’ charts. This was another disappointment.

Meanwhile, critics had received their advance copies of The Black Album. It was an ambitious, sprawling double album, where The Damned experimented, flitting between, and sometimes, combining disparate musical genres. This includes on future Damned classic Wait For The Blackout, a dramatic fusion of punk and psychedelia. There was also The Damned’s first foray into gothic rock, which the album cover more than hinted at. Gothic rock was a genre The Damned would embrace throughout the rest of the eighties. That was still to come. Before that, The Black Album would reveal the rest of its secrets.  

Elements of indie rock, new wave and psychedelia, plus punk and a much more traditional rocky sound all shawn through on The Black Album. Critics agreed that The Black Album was a much more ambitious and adventurous album. On 13th Floor Vendetta, The Damned use as inspiration the 1971 film The Abominable Dr. Phibes. It’s atmospheric, cinematic and memorable, one of the highlights of The Black Album. Another of the album’s highlights was Lively Arts, where The Damned romp their way through the track combing drama, social comment and hooks. The Damned also romp their way through Drinking About My Baby, where punk and rock combine head on to create a memorable sing-a-long.Therapy is equally memorable, thanks to its irresistibly catchy chorus. However, when critics and later, record buyers listened to side three, they were in for a surprise.

It contained the most ambitious song on The Black Album. This was Curtain Call, a seventeen minute epic. It’s a journey through musical genres and moods. Hypnotic, joyous, lysergic, moody  and thoughtful, this was The Damned as they had never been heard before. It was The Black Album’s Magnus Opus. This wasn’t the end of the surprises. 

Side four featured the six live tracks The Damned had recorded for their fan club. For those that had never been to see The Damned live, this was the next best thing. Six classics and old favourites sat side by side. This included Love Song, Second Time Around, Smash It Up (Parts 1 & 2), New Rose, I Just Can’t Be Happy Today and Plan 9 Channel 7. It was, and still is, a tantalising taste of what The Damned live sounded like in 1980. 

After four sides of The Black Album, critics drew their conclusions. What was apparent, was that The Damned had come of age musically. No longer could they be described as ‘just’ a punk band.  Punk still peppered parts of The Black Album. However, their music was much more sophisticated, as it headed in different directions. This included hints of electronica and a move towards goth rock. There was also a psychedelic sound to The Black Album. Especially  on the seventeen minute Magnus Opus Curtain Call, which took up side three. Elsewhere,  The Black Album featured diversions via indie rock, new wave, pop, psychedelia and rock. The Damned were musical butterflies, as they flitted between genres. Most critics were won over by The Damned latest and most ambitious and adventurous album. However, what about record buyers?

Eleven months after the release of Machine Gun Etiquette, The Black Album was released by The Damned in October 1980. It reached number twenty-nine in the UK album charts, which was the highest placing of The Damned’s four albums. However, the only slight disappointment was that The Black Album wasn’t certified silver like its predecessor. However, the commercial success of The Black Album was a reason to celebrate. A hit single however, would be the cherry on the cake.

So The Damned released There Ain’t No Sanity Clause in November 1980. It wasn’t a track from The Black Album. Instead, it was hoped that There Ain’t No Sanity Clause might make an impact on the lucrative British Christmas singles  market. It wasn’t to be, and the single stalled at ninety-seven in the UK singles charts. Maybe The Damned would have better luck next time?

In February 1981, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde was released as the second single from The Black Album. Alas, the single failed to chart. The Damned were out of luck. 

The Black Album was the final album The Damned released for Chiswick. However, a year later, in May 1982, Chiswick imprint Big Beat Records, released Wait For The Blackout as a single. Sadly, lightning struck twice, and the single failed to chart. This was a slightly disappointing end to The Damned’s time at Chiswick. However, the two albums that The Damned had released on Big Beat Records, Machine Gun Etiquette and The Black Album were two most successful albums of their career.

Machine Gun Etiquette and The Black Album have recently been reissued by Chiswick, an imprint of Ace Records. They’re welcome reissues. Machine Gun Etiquette is a classic album, while The Black Album finds The Damned’s music evolving. 

The Black Album find The Damned moving towards goth rock, which they went on to embrace throughout the eighties. There’s also a psychedelic influence to The Black Album, as The Damned begin to move away from their punk roots. They didn’t cut the ties entirely, for fear of alienating their older fans, who had been around since The Damned released the first punk single and album. That was just four years before the release of The Black Album in 1980. A lot had happened since 1976. 

Forty years later, and incredibly, The Damned are still going strong. They’ve had their ups and downs, but still keep making music and playing live. They’ve released over thirty albums since The Black Album. However, The Black Album and its predecessor Machine Gun Etiquette are both reminders of The Damned in their prime, when they swaggered their way through albums, displaying a devil may care, rebellious attitude. This resulted in some of the most memorable music of their forty year career. Thos included the classic album Machine Gun Etiquette, and the album where The Damned came of age musically, The Black Album which featured a much more sophisticated and eclectic style.

THE DAMNED-THE BLACK ALBUM.

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IAN GILLAN-THE GILLAN BAND AND GILLAN YEARS.

IAN GILLAN-THE GILLAN BAND AND GILLAN YEARS.

From the late sixties, right through to the seventies, fusion was one of the most popular musical genres. Fusion was popular on both sides of the Atlantic. However, by the late seventies record buyers were tiring of the fusion of jazz and rock. So were some musicians. This included former Deep Purple frontman Ian Gillan. 

In July 1978, Ian Gillan called time on The Ian Gillan Band, which he had formed three years earlier in 1975. Since then, The Ian Gillan Band had released a trio of albums. Their debut was 1976s Child in Time. However, The Ian Gillan Band story began two years earlier, in 1973.

That’s when vocalist Ian Gillan left Deep Purple. He played his part in the recording of Deep Purple’s 1974 album Who Do We Think We Are? It was released in America in January 1973, and a month later, in February 1973, in Britain. By then, Ian Gillan was exhausted. He and the band were desperately in need of a rest. That however, wasn’t going to happen.

Deep Purple, one of the unholy trinity of British hard rock, were about to go out on tour. However, Deep Purple desperately needed a rest. Their management wanted Deep Purple to tour Who Do We Think We Are? Reluctantly, they agreed. So they headed out on tour. Before long, tensions arose within Deep Purple.

By the summer of 1973, Deep Purple were in Japan. This was their second Japanese tour. Unlike their first tour, all wasn’t well within the band. Arguments arose between members of the band. Lead vocalist Ian Gillan and Bob Glover clashed with guitarist Richie Blackmore. Whatever had happened or been said, there was no going back. Ian Gillan and Bob Glover quit Deep Purple in June 1973.  

On his return home, Ian Gillan announced he had retired from the music business. He wanted to focus on other business ventures, including a business building motorcycle engines, a country hotel ands the Kingsway Recording studio. However, Ian didn’t stay retired for long.

By April 1974, Ian was using the Kingsway Recording studio to begin work on his first solo tracks. He debuted them at Roger Glover’s Butterfly Ball at the Albert Hall, on 16th October 1975. This whet Ian’s appetite. Before long, he was putting a new band together. It eventually became The Ian Gillan Band.

The Ian Gillan Band.

Child in Time.

Originally, Ian called his new band Shand Grenade. This was a combination of Shangri-la and Grenade. The name didn’t go down well with his management. They managed to persuade Ian to change the name to The Ian Gillan Band, which was an Anglo-American band.

The first lineup featured the rhythm section of drummer and percussionist Mark Nauseef, a native of New York. The rest of the band, including bassist John Gustafson and guitarist Ray Fenwick were British. So were keyboardist Mike Moran and Ian, who added vocals and harmonica. They headed to the Musicland Studios in Munich, which was then, one of the most famous European studios.

That’s where The Ian Gillan Band recorded their debut album Child in Time. Recording took place between December 1975 and January 1976. Seven songs were recorded, including six which were penned by members of The Ian Gillan Band. Then once Child in Time was completed, the album was mixed at Mountain Studio, Montreux, February 1976. Five months later, Child in Time which was produced by Roger Glover, was ready for release.

Child in Time was well received by critics. That’s despite the change in style. Ian Gillan was no longer the hard rocking musician of his Deep Purple days. The Ian Gillan Band had turned their back on rock, in favour of fusion and even, funk. This shocked fans of  Deep Purple.

Especially when Deep Purple fans realised that Child In Time, a Deep Purple classic, was given a funky makeover. This was perceived as an act of sacrilege. It certainly didn’t help sales of Child Of Mine, which was released on Island.

When Child in Time was released in July 1976, it reached number fifty-five in Britain. Elsewhere, Child in Time reached number thirty-six in Sweden. Little did Ian Gillan and rest of The Ian Gillan Band realise, that that was as good as it got for them.

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Clear Air Turbulence.

After the release of Child In Time, The Ian Gillan band returned to the studio in July 1976. Right through to September 1976, they recorded the six tracks that became Clear Air Turbulence which doesn’t feature in The Album Collection. Once the album was completed, The Ian Gillan Band were set to head out on tour.

That never happened. While the concerts  were scheduled, and the tour promoted, it was eventually cancelled. Things weren’t going well for The Ian Gillan Band. It was just about to get worse.

Ian Gillan wasn’t happy with Clear Air Turbulence’s sound. So much so, that the album’s release was postponed. This allowed Clear Air Turbulence to be remixed. Once the remixing was completed, the release of Clear Air Turbulence was schedule for April 1977.

On the release of Clear Air Turbulence, reviews were mixed. The Ian Gillan Band experimented on Clear Air Turbulence. Hard rock, prog rock and fusion sat side-by-side. Some critics felt this didn’t work. However, on tracks like Money Lender and the jazz-fusion of Over The Hill and Goodhand Liza, The Ian Gillan Band find form. However, this was too little too late.

When Clear Air Turbulence was released on 15th April 1977, it wasn’t a commercial success. For Ian Gillan this was a huge disappointment. All his efforts had been in vain. 

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Scarabus.

Sadly, Scarabus proved to be The Gillan Band’s swan-song. The ten tracks had been recorded at Kingsway Recorders, London, between July 1977 and August 1977. Three months later, in November 1977, Scarabus was released.

When the critics heard Scarabus, they were disappointed by what they heard. Ian Gillan seemed ill at ease by Scarabus’ somewhat contrived jazzy sound. Critics longed for Ian to kick loose. He never does. Even when Scarabus heads in the direction of rock, it’s more like faux rock. So, it’s no surprise that Scarabus was the weakest and least successful album by The Ian Gillan Band. 

On its release in November 1977, Scarabus wasn’t a commercial success. It didn’t trouble the charts. For The Ian Gillan Band it was a disappointing end to their career. However, before long, Ian Gillan was back to his hard rocking best with a new band, Gillan

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Gillan.

Gillan (The Japanese Album).

With The Ian Gillan Band history, Ian Gillan began the next chapter in his musical career, Gillan. It saw Ian return to a much harder, rocky sounding style of music. For Ian Gillian, this was what he did best. His new band Gillan featured a familiar face and some new names.

The only member of The Ian Gillan Band that joined Gillan was Colin Towns. He was joined by guitarist Steve Bryd, bassist John McCoy and drummer Pete Barnacle. However, although Pete featured on Gillan’s eponymous debut album, he was soon replaced by Liam Genockey. This was just one of several changes in Gillan’s lineup over the next four years.

With his new band in tow, Ian headed to what were familiar settings, Kingsway Recorders, in London. That’s where the ten tracks that became Gillan, were recorded between July 1978 and August 1978. Gillan would be released in September 1978.

Straight away, there was a problem. Gillan didn’t have a record deal in Britain. However, Gillan had a record deal for  Japan, Australia and New Zealand. So, Gillan was only released in these three countries. 

On the release of Gillan it sold well in Japan, Australia and New Zealand. That wasn’t surprising. The reviews of Gillan were positive. So were the reviews in the British music press. However, with Gillan unavailable in Britain, it had to be imported from Japan. This lead to Gillan being referred to as The Japanese Album. When copies of  the album arrived, it quickly became apparent that Gillan marked a return to form from Ian Gillan and his hard rocking band. They weren’t going to be long without a recording deal in Britain.

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Mr. Universe.

That proved to the case. By the time Gillan returned to Kingsway Recorders in April 1979, Gillan had signed to Acrobat. For the next two months, the classic lineup of Gillan recorded  the ten tracks that became Mr. Universe.

By the time of the Mr. Universe sessions, Gillan were already onto their third drummer. Mick Underwood was Gillan’s drummer, having replaced Liam Genockey. Mick was joined in the rhythm section by bassist John McCoy and guitarist Berne Tormé. Colin Towns played keyboards and flute and Ian Gillan played harmonica and added vocals. This is regarded as the classic lineup of Gillan.

The new lineup of Gillan worked hard for the next two months. Eventually, by June 1979, Mr. Universe was completed. Gillan were ready to release what was their first British album.

Prior to the release of Mr. Universe, critics were sent a copy of Gillan’s sophomore album. For Ian, this was a worrying time. Latterly, during his days with The Ian Gullan Band, the critics hadn’t been kind to him. That wasn’t the case with Mr. Universe. The critics were won over by Gillan’s hard rocking sound. They were pleased to hear Ian Gillan back what he did best.

Equally happy were the record buying public. When Mr. Universe was released in October 1979, it reached number eleven in the British charts. Ian Gillan had just announced his return. He wasn’t going anywhere.

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Glory Road.

After the success of Mr. Universe, Ian Gillan was keen to strike while the iron was hot. So, having toured Mr. Universe, work began on Gillan’s third album, Glory Road.

Recording of Glory Road began in April 1980. For two months, Gillan were locked away at  the studio Ian built, Kingsway Recorders. That’s where he had recorded all The Ian Gillan Band and Gillan albums. It’s where Gillan recorded the ten tracks that became Glory Road, the album they hoped would give them their first transatlantic hit.

After the success of Mr. Universe in Britain, Gillan were determined to crack the lucrative American market. Ian knew, that was where the big money was to be made. His time with Deep Purple showed him the riches that were capable of being made in America. However, in hoping to break America, this presented a problem.

Many bands didn’t release the same version of their album in America. That was the case with Glory Road. The running order was different, and Your Mother Was Right  replaced Sleeping on the Job. The release date was scheduled as October 1980.

Before the release of Glory Road, the critics had their say. For any band, this can be a nervous time. A bad review can prove costly. Fortunately, most of the reviews of Glory Road were positive. Granted, there were a few dissenting voices. Mostly, though, Gillan looked as if they were heading down the Glory Road.

When Glory Road was released, in October 1980, Gillan fans made a beeline for the limited edition double album. It contained the free album For Gillan Fans Only. Most fans had to settle for ordinary version of Glory Road. 

Plenty did. Glory Road became Gillan’s biggest selling album. Not only did it reach number three in Britain, but was certified solver. This made Glory Road Gillan’s biggest selling album. However, that wasn’t the end of Glory Road’s success.

In America, Glory Road crept into the US Billboard 200, reaching 183. This was the first time a Gillan album had charted in America. Were Gillan about to crack the lucrative American market?

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Future Shock.

Buoyed by the success of Glory Road in both Britain and America, Gillan set about recording the followup. The last few months had been among the busiest in Gillan’s career. What with promoting Glory Road in Britain and America, plus a gruelling touring schedule, Gillan had hardly any time to think about their fourth album, until now.

Just like previous albums, Gillan headed to Ian’s studio, Kingsway Recorders, in London, UK. The recording began in December 1980. After breaking for Christmas and New Year, Gillan returned to Kingsway Recorders in  January 1981. They finished their fourth album later that month.

Much of what became Future Shock was penned by Ian, John McCoy and Bernie Tormé. This included the title-track. It was was inspired by Alvin Toffler’s book Future Shock. As for Future Shock’s distinctive artwork, it was created by Alan Daniels for Young Artists. With its eye-catching, futuristic image, Future Shock was guaranteed to grab record buyers attention. So was the music.

Before Future Shock was released in March 1981, the critics had their say. They were one over by Future Shock. So much so, that they called Future Shock one of the greatest hard rock albums. This bode well for the release of Future Shock.

When Future Shock hit the shops, it became Gillan’s biggest selling album in Britain. Future Shock reached number two, and was certified silver. However, across the Atlantic, Future Shock failed to chart. This was a disappointment. After all, America was the most lucrative market. Especially, for hard rock. Sadly, it looked like Gillan were never going to be as successful in America, as they were in Britain.

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Double Trouble.

Just seven months after the release of Future Shock, Gillan were back with their fifth album Double Trouble. Unlike previous albums, it was a double album. However, this was a double album with a difference.

For their fifth album, Gillan had decided to release a double album. The first album contained studio recordings, while the second album featured Gillan live. Double Trouble had been recorded during 1981, just as Gillan’s lineup was changing.

Gillan had returned to the studio in August 1981. This was the first time since Bernie Tormé had been sacked. Gillan had been asked to play on British pop show Top Of The Pops. Their single No Laughing in Heaven had charted. However, Bernie didn’t want to play  on Top Of The Pops. So he was sacked.

Bernie’s replacement was Janick Gers. he featured on the eight tracks recorded at Kingsway Recorders. However, Bernie featured on If You Believe Me, which was recorded at the Rainbow Theatre, London on 4th March 1981. The remainder of the live tracks were recorded at the Reading Festival, on 29th August 1981. These live tracks showcased what Gillan in concert sounded like. 

For Gillan, Double Trouble was akin to their calling card. It featured studio recordings and live tracks. This was the perfect introduction to Gillan. However, it was always risky releasing a hybrid album like Double Trouble.

Other groups had tried this. For some groups, it worked, and worked well. However, for other groups it backfired on them. They were accused of throwing together an album. So, were Gillan risking their reputation with Double Trouble?

That proved to be the case. The critics weren’t impressed with Double Trouble. Reviews were mixed. It seemed Gillan’s decision to combine studio recording and live tracks on Double Trouble seemed to have backfired. 

When Double Trouble was released in October 1981, it reached number twelve in Britain. After the mixed reviews, the members of Gillan breathed a collective sigh of relief. The Gillan success story continued apace. 

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Magic.

Nine months after releasing Double Trouble, Gillan returned to the studio in July 1982. At Kingsway Recorders, in London, Gillan began recording what would become Magic. A total of eighteen tracks were recorded between July and August 1982. However, only ten made the cut. They became Magic.

With Magic completed, Gillan’s sixth album was scheduled for release later in 1982. However, before that, the critics had their say.

Just like Double Trouble, Magic failed to excite the critics. They weren’t won over by Magic. The reviews were mixed. This didn’t bode well for Magic.

On its release, Magic reached just number seventeen in Britain. This was Gillan’s least successful album in Britain. It was also their last.

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The end was neigh for Gillan. Not long after the release of Magic, Black Sabbath were looking for a new lead singer. This was a huge opportunity for someone. Black Sabbath knew who they wanted. The chosen one, was Ian Gillan. 

It was an offer Ian Gillan couldn’t refuse. Still, Black Sabbath were one of the biggest names in rock. So, he disbanded Gillan became the new lead singer of Black Sabbath. Ironically, his new job didn’t last long.

Ian Gillan’s time with Black Sabbath lasted just one album and one tour. Then Ian Gillan returned home. He rejoined Deep Purple, the group where he started his career. Gillan was now history.

Gillan had lasted just four years. During that period, they had managed to release six albums. Five of these albums were released in Britain, and reached the top twenty in the album charts. The two most successful albums were 1980s Glory Road and 1981s Future Shock. Both albums were certified silver. Along with Gillan’s 1978 eponymous debut album and 1979s Mr. Universe, these albums feature Gillan at their hard rocking best. Quite simply, it’s a joy to behold. That describes Gillan on Mr. Universe, Glory Road and Future Shock. They don’t hold back. In full flow, they’re torchbearers for British rock. As rock goes, it doesn’t get much harder or heavier than Gillan. They were one of the last great British rock bands, and were responsible for rebuilding Ian Gillan’s career. 

After the disappointment of The Ian Gillan Band’s last two albums, Ian Gillan’s career was at a crossroads. His reputation had taken a bruising, and he had to prove himself all over again. This he did with Gillan. Four years later, a rejuvanted Ian Gillan had reinvented himself, and was the lead singer of another of the unholy trinity of British hard rock, Black Sabbath. While his time with Black Sabbath was sadly short-lived, Ian Gillan was back at the top of the musical tree.  His jazz-fusion years were long gone, for four years, Ian Gillan was back to his hard rocking best with Gillan.

IAN GILLAN-THE GILLAN BAND AND GILLAN YEARS.

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WEATHER REPORT-THE COLUMBIA YEARS 1971-1975.

WEATHER REPORT-THE COLUMBIA YEARS 1971-1975.

By the late-sixties, jazz was no longer as popular as it had once been. Jazz’s popularity had plummeted over the last few years. Many jazz clubs were  closing, or being converted into venues that put on rock bands.  Sales of jazz were down. Critics and cultural commentators were drawing comparisons with  blues music. 

Although there had been a brief resurgence in the blues popularity earlier in the sixties, many of its biggest names were struggling to eek out a living. They played wherever they could get a gig. Some had even turned their back on the blues. For many it was a worrying time. Part of the problem was, the blues hadn’t really evolved. While the same couldn’t be said of jazz, its popularity was declining, and declining rapidly. Something had to change.

Jazz albums were no longer selling in the same quantities as a decade earlier. Some established labels struggled financially. So did the newer labels, who promised a brave new world in jazz. That didn’t happen. Across America, jazz’s decline was noticeable. Many jazz clubs were now putting on pop and rock groups. Jazz was, yesterday’s music. It was a dying genre. However, had jazz’s demise been overstated?

That proved to be the case. Riding to the rescue, like jazz’s very own caped crusader, came fusion. A mixture of jazz, funk and rock, fusion proved to be jazz’s savour. Maybe just, jazz had a future? 

That proved to be the case, with many of the biggest names in jazz embracing jazz. This included one of  the most innovative and influential supergroups of the jazz-fusion era, Weather Report. The most successful period of their career was between 1971 and 1975, when the signed to Columbia. During this period, Weather Report’s lineup and music were both evolving musically.

The Weather Report story began in New York 1970. That was when Weather Report was founded by Austrian keyboardist and composer Joe Zawinul and saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter. They were friends and previously, had been members of Miles Davis’ band. Now that they had  founded their own group Weather Report, which decided they would lead together. However, before they could lead Weather Report,  the needed to complete the lineup.

So Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter went in search of a rhythm section. The first musician they brought onboard was Czech bassist Miroslav VitoušTo complete Weather Report’s lineup, drummer and percussionist Alphonse Mouzon. This quartet were hugely experienced musicians.

Previously, Joe Zawinul had worked with Cannonball Adderley and then Miles Davis, where he met Wayne Shorter. They’d previously been members of Maynard Ferguson’s Big Band. Then Wayne Shorter had worked with Art Blakey. It was after Wayne Shorter and Joe Zawinhul played on Miles Davis’ two fusion albums, 1969s In A Silent Way and 1970s Bitches Brew that they came up with the idea of their own band. Little did they realize that this new band, Weather Report, would go on to record fourteen studio albums and two live albums during their sixteen years together. During Weather Report’s lifetime, the lineup was fluid. However, despite the changes in lineup, Weather Report’s music was always innovative, inventive and influential.  That was case from their 1971 debut album Weather Report. 

Weather Report.

Start as your mean to go on could and should’ve been Weather Report’s motto. From their 1971 debut album Weather Report, they were innovators, breaking new ground musically. The quartet of keyboardist Joe Zawinhul, saxophonist Wayne Shorter, bassist Miroslav Vitous and drummer and percussionist Alphonse Mouzon were joined by percussionists Don Alias, Barbara Burton and Airto Moreira. Recording took place between 16-22 February and then on 17th March. Eight tracks were recorded, which became Weather Report. This was very different to anything that had gone before.

Abstract, avant garde, abstract and experimental are all words that were used to describe Weather Report. Influenced by Miles Davis’ two fusion albums In A Silent Way and Bitches Brew, Weather Report is variously explosive, intricate, subtle and always, compelling, captivating and innovative. Having said that, Weather Report wasn’t a hugely successful album.

Jazz critics lauded the inventiveness and innovation of Weather Report. Critically acclaimed it was, commercially successful it wasn’t. Weather Report only reached number 191 in the US Billboard 200, but reached number seven in the US Jazz Charts. Often, however, great works of art and music, aren’t recognized straight away. Given how ahead of their time Weather Report were, this was the case here. Their second album I Sing The Body Electric would see a change in fortune for Weather Report.

I Sing The Body Electric.

I Sing The Body Electric, Weather Report’s 1972 sophomore album, saw two new members join the group. They were percussionist Dom Um Romao and drummer Eric Gravatt, who replaced Alphonse Mouzon. Recording took place during sessions in November and December of 1971. I Sing The Body Electric completed in January 1972, when Medley: Vertical Invader, Surucucu and Directions were record live in Tokyo. For the audience attending these concerts, they were able to glimpse the direction Weather Report’s music was heading.

When Weather Report’s sophomore album I Sing The Body Electric was released in 1972, critics and fans heard another side to their music. Weather Report with its new lineup had reinvented themselves and their music. I Sing The Body Electric proved much more popular that their debut album, reaching number 147 in the US Billboard 200. The music appealed to a wider audience, incorporating jazz, rock and electronica.

With five tracks were recorded in the studio, three live and the music was much more complex, eclectic and ethnically diverse. I Sing The Body Electric drew inspiration and influence from a wider range of influences. Music from four corners of the globe, plus electronic instruments and guest artists aplenty, all player their part in I Sing The Body Electric commercial success and critical acclaim. Guest artists included guitarist Ralph Towner and flautist Hubert Law. They played their part in I Sing The Body Electric’s rich tapestry. Intricate, complex, grandiose, forward-thinking, experimental, it was all these things and much more. With two studio albums behind them, Weather Report decided that the next step was the release of the first of two live albums, Live In Tokyo.

Live In Tokyo,

Fans of Weather Report had enjoyed a taster of the group’s live sound on I Sing The Body Electric. The last three tracks on I Sing The Body Electric were recorded in Tokyo. Now, fans had the opportunity to hear what Weather Report live sounded like, when a double-album entitled Live In Tokyo, was released later in 1972. For critics and fans alike, they were at last able to hear a four tantalizing sides of a group featuring some of the most talented, inventive and innovative musicians feeding off each other. 

Live In Tokyo allowed Weather Report to showcase their inventiveness and innovativeness. There was everything from free form jazz and fusion, which gave way to explosive, then intricate, complex passages of music. Veering into experimental and avant garde, before taking detours into multicultural music and rock, always, the music returns to jazz. The interplay between the members of Weather Report is stunning. It’s as if each member intuitively knows what the other is about to do. They read and anticipate this, responding to what’s gone before with something equally compelling and captivating. Whether the tempo increases or another layer of music is added to the rich, multi-textured tapestry, second guessing Weather Report ins’t easy. Indeed, over two discs of Live In Tokyo, Weather Report demonstrate and reinforce just why, they were such an important, influential and innovative band, who each time they released an album, would reinvent themselves and their music. This would be the case with their third studio album Streeetnighter.

Streetnighter.

Streetnighter was to prove the final album where bassist Miroslav Vitous would be Weather Report’s sole bassist. On Streetnighter, which was recorded during a five-day period in February 1973, Miroslav shares bass-playing duties with Andrew White. Similarly, Herschel Dwellingham plays drums on four of the six tracks. Like previous albums, Streetnighter found Weather Report’s lineup in a state of constant evolution. Changing too, was their music on Weather Report’s third studio album Streetnighter.

When Streetnighter was released in April 1973, critics and fans hailed the album’s groove oriented sound. As a result, Streetnighter reached number eighty-five in the US Billboard 200, number forty-one in the US R&B Charts and number seven in the US Jazz albums. This was Weather Report’s most successful album. It also marked another change in direction musically for Weather Report.

Andrew White’s electric bass played a much more prominent role on Streetnighter. Miroslav Vitous featured on just two tracks. As usual, for Joe Zawinhul, the groove was key to Streetnighter’s success. So, Andrew White played a huge part. From the opening bars of the thirteen-minute epic Boogie Woogie Waltz, played in 3/4 time and with a glorious Latin sound, Weather Report are in the tightest of grooves, right through to the closing notes of Non-Stop Home. For Joe Zawinhul, Streetnighter was a voyage of discover. He realized he could use his wah-wah pedal with his Fender Rhodes and introduced his ARP synth to add a melodic twist. The other change was in Wayne Shorter’s playing. He’s reined in, his playing much more restrained. It seemed, Streetnighter marked the start of a new era for Weather Report. With another new lineup and having reinvented themselves yet again, what would the future hold for Weather Report on their fourth studio album Mysterious Traveller.

Mysterious Traveller.

While Streetnighter saw Miroslav Vitous share bass duties with Andrew White, on Mysterious Traveller he played on only one track American Tango. The other six tracks marked the Weather Report debut of Philly bassist Alphonso Johnson. Like the bass, two drummers played on Mysterious Traveller. Skip Hadden played on two tracks and Ishmael Wilburn the other five tracks. Along with guest artists and vocalists, Mysterious Traveller saw the birth of what many people regard as Weather Report’s signature sound. Funk, fusion, R&B and rock. Gone was the improvisational nature of Weather Report’s first three studio albums. How would this change in style be received by critics and fans?

When Mysterious Traveller was released in 1974, critics lauded the album as Weather Report’s best album so far. Fans too, loved the new sound. Mysterious Traveller reached number forty-six in the US Billboard 200, number thirty-one in the US R&B Charts and number two in the US Jazz Charts. It was an album that appealed to a much more broader section of listeners. Whether it was fans of funk, jazz, R&B or rock, there was something for them all on Mysterious Traveller. The best way to describe Mysterious Traveller is as fluid, but funky and containing a pulsating heartbeat. Although Wayne Shorter plays a lesser role on Mysterious Traveller, his contribution was crucial. So too was Weather Report’s new member, Alphonso Johnson. For Miroslav Vitous, Mysterious Traveller was his Weather Report swan-song. At least Miroslav had played his part in making Mysterious Traveller Weather Report’s most successful album. What would the future hold for Weather Report next?

Tale Spinnin’

With Miroslav Vitous having left Weather Report, the lineup on Tale Spinnin’ was now Joe Zawinhul, Wayne Shorter and the newest member, bassist Alphonso Johnson. Another new face would feature on Tale Spinnin.’ However, this would just be a walk-on part. It could’ve been much more long term though.

Joe Zawinhul had heard Leon “Ndugu” Chancier playing with Carlos Santana’s band. He’d been hugely impressed with this multitalented drummer and percussionist. Leon was part of Carlos Santana’s band, and was recording in the studio next to Weather Report. He was asked to join Weather Report for a session. This session lasted a week. It resulted in Leon being asked to become a member of Weather Report. He declined the offer, preferring to stay with Carlos Santana. Recording of Tale Spinnin’ took place at Wally Helder Studios in Los Angeles. The sessions started in February 1975 and ended in April 1975. Six tracks were recorded during this two month period, and became Weather Report’s fifth studio album Tale Spinnin.’

Ever since Weather Report released their debut album Weather Report, each of their studio albums had surpassed the success of the previous one. This was the case with Tale Spinnin.’ It proved their most successful album, reaching number thirty-one in the US Billboard 200, number twelve in the US R&B Charts and number three in the US Jazz Charts. Critics and fans alike, took to with Tale Spinnin’s heavier, funkier sound. Key to Tale Spinnin’s success were two new addition’s to Weather report’s lineup.

While Leon filled the drummer’s seat, percussionist Alyrio Lima added an African influence. This replaced the Latin influence of Mysterious Traveller. So, funk, fusion, R&B and rock were joined by African influences. Just like their four previous studio albums, Weather Report continued to reinvent and innovate. Unlike other group’s, Weather Report weren’t content to stand still. Granted, the trademark sound had started to take shape on Mysterious Traveller, but on Tale Spinnin’ evolved. The result was six groundbreaking, innovative and inventive tracks, which became Tale Spinnin,’ Weather Report’s most successful album of their six album career. This was just the start in the Weather Report story, which would see them release another nine studio albums and one more live album. 

Between 1971 and 1975, Weather Report’s music continued to evolve. From their debut album Weather Report through I Sing The Body Electric and Streetnighter, Weather Report’s trademark sound evolved. With a constantly evolving lineup, the change constantly evolved as Weather Report reinvented themselves and their music. By Mysterious Traveller, Weather Report’s signature sound had taken shape. Tale Spinnin’ saw this signature sound begin to evolve. Weather Report weren’t the type of group to discover their signature sound then churn out album after album of similar music. Instead, Weather Report continued to innovate and reinvent themselves and their music. This resulted in Weather Report becoming one of the most influential jazz fusion groups.

With Wayne Shorter and Joe Zawinhul at Weather Report’s helm, they fused musical genres and influences, resulting in some of the most groundbreaking, inventive and influential music of the seventies and eighties.  Weather Report were together between 1970 and 1986, and released  fourteen studio albums and two live albums.However, some of the most innovative, inventive and influential music Weather Report recorded and released was between 1971 and 1975, when the Columbia Years were just beginning.

WEATHER REPORT-THE COLUMBIA YEARS 1971-1975.

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HITLIST 2-MORE HOT 100 CHARTBUSTERS OF THE 70S.

HITLIST 2-MORE HOT 100 CHARTBUSTERS OF THE 70S.

For many baby boomers, the early to early to mid-seventies was a golden age for music. They had just graduated from university, and were making their way in the world. Many had well paid jobs, no commitments and often, a high disposable income.  By then, the  baby boomers had also already established a strong cultural identity.

They had grownup during the sixties, which without doubt had been one of the most important decades in musical history. This just happened to coincide with the first wave of baby boomers entering their teenage years.

The first baby boomers were born in 1946, and by the time The Beatles released Love Me Do in 1962, were teenagers. They were beginning to take an interest in music, art and literature, and were already establishing a cultural identity. This would take shape during what many refer to as the original golden age of music.

1964 proved to an important year culturally. It marked the end of the post–World War II baby boom. However, many baby boomers remember 1964 as the year the British Invasion arrived on American shores. Suddenly, American teenagers preferred The Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks and The Animals to Bob Dylan and those clean cut all-American boys, The Beach Boys. Soon though, the times were a changing.

In 1965, the psychedelia era began. Over the next few years, music was transformed.  Especially by the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, The Doors, The Byrds, Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd. The music was a game-changer, and a long way from Love Me Do. Even Elvis Presley, was neither as popular, nor relevant as he had been. He was sill cavorting in third rate movies, as modern music passed him by. The king it seemed, had lost his crown. Meanwhile, many baby boomers had embraced the cultural changes.

Especially the first wave of baby boomers. Many had become pioneering musicians, including Bob Dylan, The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Cream and The Doors. Many other baby boomers were at colleges and universities across America. While they embraced and enjoyed the new music, some were unable or unwilling to participate fully. 

Some were unable to afford to buy LPs or concert tickets. It was taking them all their time to pay their way through college or university. Then there were other students who didn’t quite ‘get’ the music. They neither understood, enjoyed nor embraced psychedelia. Neither did they agree nor approve of the role drugs, including LSD, mescaline and peyote, played in psychedelic music. As a result, many baby boomers sat out the psychedelic era. This certainly wasn’t the golden age of music. That was still to come.

By the early to mid-seventies, many of the first wave of baby boomers had graduated college or university. They were now making their way in the world. Many had well paid jobs, no commitments and often, a high disposable income. This they enjoyed spending. One thing many baby boomers enjoyed spending money on was music.

Many baby boomers who were brought up on a steady diet of music from Love Me Do onwards, began to seriously collect records. So were many of the baby boomers who sat out the psychedelic era. They discovered music through their local AM radio station, and soon, were enjoying the music of the early to mid-seventies. Before long, they and were also collecting albums. Like the rest of the music-loving baby boomers, they had the disposable income to do so, and voraciously, began hoovering up copious amounts of albums. These they played on their expensive, high end hi-fi systems. Soon, the baby boomers had amassed vast collections of vinyl. They documented what was a golden age of music. The same can be said of Hitlist 2-More Hot 100 Chartbusters Of The 70s, which will released be Ace Records on 26th of August 2016. 

Hitlist 2-More Hot 100 Chartbusters Of The 70s is a twenty-four track compilation that features some of the biggest artists of early to mid-seventies. This includes The Doobie Brothers, The Allman Brothers Band, Joe Walsh, The Band, Bread, Elvin Bishop, Dave Loggins, Three Dog Night, Carly Simon, Linda Ronstadt and Alice Cooper. These are just a few of the artists on Hitlist 2-More Hot 100 Chartbusters Of The 70s, which I’ll pick the highlights of.

Opening Hitlist 2-More Hot 100 Chartbusters Of The 70s, is  The Doobie Brothers single China Grove. When it was released on Warner Bros, in 1973, it reached fifteen on the US Billboard 100. China Grove is a track from The Captain and Me, which reached number seven on the US Billboard 200, and was certified double platinum. The Captain and Me featured the classic lineup of The Doobie Brothers. His unmistakable, gritty vocal plays an important part in this guitar driven slice of classic rock. It’s a reminder of just how good a band The Doobie Brothers were, during the Tom Johnson years.

By 1973, The Allman Bros. Band’s unique fusion of Southern Rock and blues rock had made them one of the biggest selling American bands. Their last two albums had been certified platinum. When Brothers and Sisters was released in 1973, it reached number one on the US Billboard 200 and was certified gold. One of the singles released from the album was Ramblin’ Man. It reached number two on the US Billboard 100. Sadly, after Brothers and Sisters, The Allman Bros Band never reached the same heights again. However, forty years later, their music, including singles like Rambin’ Man,  is timeless and  still as popular as ever.

In 1973, former James Gang guitarist and vocalist Joe Walsh, left the band to form the short-lived group Barnstorm. After released one album Barnstorm became Joe Walsh. They released their debut single Rocky Mountain Way on ABC/Dunhill Records. It reached a creditable twenty-three on the US Billboard 100. This rocky track is akin to an outpouring of nervous energy, that showcased the combined talents of Joe Walsh. Their 1973 debut album The Smoker You Drink, The Player You Get on ABC/Dunhill Records reached number six on the US Billboard 200, and launched Joe Walsh’s forty-year solo career.

Canadian roots rockers The Band were founded in 1964, and went on to play a part in defining music in the late-sixties and early seventies. Their third album Stage Fright, was released by Capitol in August 1970, reaching number five in the US Billboard 200. This resulted in The Band’s second gold disc.The lead single from Stage Fright was Rag Mama Rag, which stalled at forty-six in the US Billboard 100. It’s underrated and oft-overlooked song from The Band’s back-catalogue, that’s a reminder of one of the best, and most important bands of the late-sixties and early seventies.

Unlike the majority of bands on More Hot 100 Chartbusters Of The 70s, Ace are a British band which featured Paul Carrack. They released their debut album Five-A-Side on Anchor Records in 1974.  It reached number eleven on the US Billboard 200. When Ace released How Long as a single in 1975, it reached number five on the US Billboard 200, but only number twenty in Britain. However, since then, How Long has become a AOR classic, and the song that for most people, is synonymous with Ace.

When Bread released their fourth album Baby I’m-A Want You in 1972, they were one of the most successful AOR groups. Their last two albums had been certified gold. Two became three when Baby I’m-A Want You was released on Elektra. It reached number three on the US Billboard 200, and was Bread’s most successful album. Baby I’m-A Want You also featured one of Bread’s most successful singles, Everything I Own. This beautiful ballad Everything I Own, which reached number five on the US Billboard 100. and is one of the finest singles Bread ever released.

It was in Detroit in 1967, that Frijid Pink were formed. They started life as a blues rock band. By 1969, they were signed to the Parrot label, and label and decided to cover a rock classic. The song they chose was The Animals’ House Of The Rising Sun.It’s given a hard rocking, heavy metal makeover. However, it wasn’t until 1970 that House Of The Rising Sun charted, reaching number seven in the US Billboard 100; five in Britain; four in Germany and number one in Canada. Later in 1970, Frijid Pink released their eponymous debut album, and it reached number eleven in the US Billboard 200. This is one of four albums Frijid Pink released between 1970 and 1975. They’re a reminder of an underrated and talented band, who reinvented a rock classic.

Dave Loggins family comes from a musical family. His brother Kenny would enjoy a long and successful career. However, Dave Loggins recording career began earlier that his cousin, in 1972. That was when Dave Loggins released his debut album Personal Belongings. The followup was 1974s Apprentice (In A Musical Workshop), which was released on Epic, and reached number fifty-three on the US Billboard 200. This was Dave Loggins’ most successful album. Partly, this was because of the beautiful, heartfelt ballad Please Come To Boston. It reached number five in the US Billboard 100, and is the finest song Dave Loggins wrote and recorded.

1971 was a big year for Carly Simon. She had released her  eponymous debut album, which reached number thirty on the US Billboard 200. That’s The Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be was chosen as a single, and reached number ten on the US Billboard 100. Carly Simon it seemed was destined for greatness.

And so it proved to be. Carly Simon’s sophomore album Anticipation was one more step along the road. It had been recorded in London, and was released in November 1971. Just like her eponymous debut album, Anticipation reached number thirty in the US Billboard 200. However, this time around, resulted in Carly Simon’s first gold disc. The lead single Anticipation reached number thirteen on the US Billboard 100. While this didn’t quite match the success of her debut single, Anticipation is beautiful, emotive and carefully crafted song that showcases Carly Simon’s skills as a singer and songwriter. It also typifies the emerging Laurel Canyon sound, and is a foretaste of the quality of music Carly Simon would go on to write and record.

In 1975, Linda Ronstadt was enjoying the most successful period of her career. Her previous album, Don’t Cry Now has been certified double-platinum. The followup Prisoner In Disguise was released in 1975, and reached number four on the US Billboard 200. This resulted in a platinum disc for Linda Ronstadt. When it came to choose the lead single, You’re No Good was chosen, and gave  Linda Ronstadt a number one single. For the followup, Phil Everly’s When Will I Be Loved was chosen. It was given a country rock makeover and reached number two in the US Billboard 200. It’s a reminder of of a truly talented singer, Linda Ronstadt at her very best, during the most successful period of her career.

Orleans were formed in Woodstock, New York in 1972. They went on to enjoy five hit singles. Their most successful was Still The One which reached number five on the US Billboard 100. It’s a driving and joyous fusion country rock and soft rock, that’s taken from Orleans’ fourth album Waking And Dreaming. It was released on the Asylum label in 1976, reaching number thirty on the US Billboard 200. Waking And Dreaming was the most successful album Orleans released during a twelve album career that’s spanned two periods, and forty years.  

My final choice from Hitlist 2-More Hot 100 Chartbusters Of The 70s is the closing track, which is Reunion’s Life Is A Rock (But The Radio Killed Me). Reunion was a studio band that was the brainchild of Joey Levine, who wrote songs and jingles. However, he didn’t write Life Is A Rock (But The Radio Killed Me). Instead, Paul DiFranco and Norman Dolph wrote the song, while Joey, Paul DiFranco and Marc Bellack took care of the production. Joey also delivers the lead vocal, where he reels of an incredible ninety seemingly random names. Although it’s very different from previous tracks, it’s not lacking in hooks. That is the case throughout Hitlist 2-More Hot 100 Chartbusters Of The 70s.

For baby boomers or just anyone who appreciates enjoys the music of the seventies, then Ace Records forthcoming compilation Hitlist 2-More Hot 100 Chartbusters Of The 70s is a must have.  It’ll be released on 26h of August 2016, and is without doubt, one of the best compilations of seventies music released during 2016.

The twelve tracks I’ve chosen only scratch the surface of Hitlist 2-More Hot 100 Chartbusters Of The 70s. There’s tracks from Dobie Gray,The Messengers, The Gentry’s, The Hollies, Elvin Bishop, Three Dog Night, Rick Derringer and Alice Cooper. Hitlist 2-More Hot 100 Chartbusters Of The 70s is a star-studded compilation.

Each of these tracks on Hitlist 2-More Hot 100 Chartbusters Of The 70s have several things in common. They were all favourites of AM radio and made their way into the US Billboard 100. The other thing is, the undoubted quality of music on Hitlist 2-More Hot 100 Chartbusters Of The 70s. They’re a reminder of what was a golden age for music, which the baby boomers were able to experience and enjoy firsthand. That may have been over forty years ago, but now the baby boomers and music lovers of all ages can relive that golden period on Hitlist 2-More Hot 100 Chartbusters Of The 70s.

HITLIST 2-MORE HOT 100 CHARTBUSTERS OF THE 70S.

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PAUL McCARTNEY-PURE McCARTNEY-DELUXE BOX SET.

PAUL McCARTNEY-PURE McCARTNEY-DELUXE BOX SET.

It was on the 10th of April 1970, that Paul McCartney announced his departure from The Beatles. A week later, he released his debut studio album McCartney. Since then, Paul McCartney has released another sixteen solo albums and seven albums with Wings. That is not forgetting eight live albums, various collaborations, a remix album and six classical albums. Many of these albums saw Paul McCartney’s music head in new, and unexpected directions.

Paul McCartney’s post-Beatles’ career has been the musical equivalent of magical mystery tour. He has released albums of pop and rock, through to classical music and even a soundtrack album. However, dig deeper into Paul McCartney’s back-catalogue and there’s albums of ambient techno, electronic music and jazz. Some of these albums have been released under aliases like Thrillington, The Fireman and Twin Freaks. These albums often feature ambitious and innovative music.

That isn’t surprising. Paul McCartney was never a musician who would rest on his laurels. He’s an innovator, and a musical chameleon who has always been determined to create ambitious and pioneering music. Sometimes he does this with a variety of collaborators from very different backgrounds. This includes the legionary  George Martin and  Youth of Killing Joke and The Orb. They have played an important part in ensuring Paul McCartney’s music remains relevant. Alas, not all of Paul McCartney’s projects have won over critics and cultural commentators.

That has been the case as far back as Wing, the group Paul McCartney formed in 1970 with his wife Linda, Denny Seiwell and Denny Laine. The newly formed Wings went on to release seven studio albums between 1971s Wild Life and 1979 Back To The Egg. Wings were always more popular in America, with four of their albums topping the US Billboard 200 and the rest reaching the top ten. This resulted in Wings selling over seven million copies in America alone. However, across the Atlantic in Britain, Wings neither received the credit nor recognition their music deserved. 

Partly, that was because of the inevitable comparison with The Beatles. This must have been hugely frustrating for Paul McCartney. Especially when deep down, he must have known that Wings would never come close to replicating the commercial success and critical acclaim The Beatles enjoyed. Nor could Paul McCartney hope that Wings would ,make the same cultural contribution of The Beatles had. Very few groups would ever come close to doing so. However, in 1970, Wings was the start of a new chapter in his life. All he could’ve hoped for was that each new album was judged on its merits. 

Alas, that never quite happened, and it’s only relatively recently that some of Wings’ albums have been reappraised and are beginning to receive the recognition they deserve. That is a familiar story with some of Paul McCartney’s other projects. When they were released, they seemed to have been judged by different standards that apply to lesser mortals. Now record buyers have the perfect opportunity to make their minds up about Paul McCartney’s extensive and eclectic back-catalogue. Paul McCartney has spent time carefully compiling a new sixty-four song four disc box set, Pure McCartney. It was recently released by Concord Music Group, and will allow record buyers to reappraise  Paul McCartney’s post-Beatles’ career.

It can’t have been easy for Paul McCartney selecting the sixty-six tracks that comprise Pure McCartney. He had a veritable feast of music to choose from. Somehow, though, Paul McCartney has managed to narrow his choices down to just sixty-four. I’m sure he could’ve compiled a six or eight disc such is the amount of music he had to choose from. However, the problem with just limited Pure McCartney to just sixty-four tracks, is Paul McCartney can’t please all the people all the time.

His vast legion of fans have their favourite tracks from his post-Beatles’ career. These favourite tracks his fans hope, and in some cases, expect to be in any compilation of Paul McCartney’s music. The only problem is, that some of these tracks have featured on previous compilations, including 1978s Wings Greatest, 1987s All the Best! and 2001s Wingspan: Hits and History. That has been the case with Band On The Run, Jet, Let ‘Em In, Live and Let Die, Silly Love Songs and With A Little Luck. Leaving them off Pure McCartney, wasn’t in reality an option. Especially given the quality, popularity and importance of the snags in Paul McCartney’s post-Beatles’ career. Their addition reasonable and is to welcomed. They’ll be in good company on Pure McCartney. 

There’s quite  few more familiar faces on oPure McCartney They’re joined by a smattering of hidden gems from Pure McCartney’s extensive and illustrious back-catalogue. Mostly, though, the songs on Pure McCartney are singles and  album tracks, which are interspersed with the occasional edit and remix. They’re a snapshot of a forty-five year period between 1970 and 2015. that are a reminder that there’s more to Paul McCartney’s career than The Beatles.

Disc One.

Often, the first disc of a compilation in box set is front loaded with familiar tracks. Pure McCartney is no different. Fittingly, Maybe I’m Amazed opens disc one of Pure McCartney. It’s a classic from Paul McCartney’s debut solo album McCartney.  A year later, Paul McCartney returned with his first collaboration with his wife Linda.

This was Ram, an album that’s sometimes overlooked. It’s only recently it’s been reappraised, That isn’t surprising given the quality of songs of the quality of Heart Of The Country, Dear Boy, Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey and Too Many People. After the release of Ram, Paul and Linda McCartney released Another Day as a single. Why it didn’t feature on Ram seems strange, given its beauty and quality. However, after the release of Ram., Paul and Linda McCartney decided to concentrate on their new group, Wings.

The first Wings’ album represented, is 1973s Red Rose Speedway, which featured Big Barn Bed. Gradually, Wings were finding their feet, and came of age later in 1973, on their classic album Band On The Run.  Two songs from Band On The Run feature on Pure McCartney, the classic Jet and one of the album’s most underrated song’s  Let Me Roll It. After a two year gap, Wings returned with a new album.

This  was their 1975s album Venus and Mars. It’s an underrated album, that features Listen To What The Man Said. It’s a welcome addition to Pure McCartney. So is Warm and Beautiful n beautiful, ballad from Wings fifth album Wings At The Speed of Sound. It was released in 1976, and featured another one of Wings’ best songs Silly Love Songs. Disc one has featured some of the best music from Wings’ seven album career. However, what of Paul McCartney’s career post-Wings?

Following the demise of Wings, Paul McCartney struggled to release  cohesive solo album. Mostly, they were  mixed bags, but usually featured reminders of his earlier career. This includes The Songs We Were Singing and Flaming Pie, the title-track of Paul McCartney’s 1997 album. Eight years later, in 2005, Paul McCartney released the album. It featured the folk rock single Jenny Wren. The most recent addition is New, the title-track from Paul McCartney’s 2013 album. Still, he was capable of crafting catchy songs of the highest quality. That is the case throughout disc one of Pure McCartney. However, what about disc two?

Disc Two.

Fans of Wings are well catered for on disc two of Pure McCartney. The earliest track from Wings’ seven studio albums is Bip Bop from the 1971 album Wild Life.  It’s quite different from what followed from Wings.

They released Hi, Hi, Hi as a single in 1972. It never featured on an album until the 1976 triple live album Wings Over America. Another song that never found its way onto a Wings’ album was Live and Let Die. Paul McCartney had been asked to write the theme to the James Bond film. This was  regarded as an honour for a songwriter back then. He penned  Live And Let Die, which was performed by Wings and released as a single in 1973. Just like Hi, Hi, Hi, Live And Let Die never made it onto an album until it featured on Wings Over America in 1976. By then, Wings had been busy.

Wings released two albums during 1973. The first, Red Rose Speedway, featured the beautiful ballad, My Love .It’s another Wings’ classic and shows that even without his old songwriting partner John Lennon, Paul McCartney was capable of crafting songs of the highest quality. Later in 1973, Wings released their classic album Band On The Run. Two oft-overlooked songs are Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five and Mrs. Vandebilt. They’re both underrated tracks, and welcome additions to Pure McCartney, a reminder of their classic album Band On The Run. It set the bar high for Wings.

Good as 1975s Venus Mars was, it didn’t quite match the quality of Band On The Run. Neither did 1976s Wings At The Speed Of Sound.  However, it featured Let ‘Em In, which became one of Wings most popular songs. A year later Wings released Mull Of Kintyre  as a single in 1977. Although it’s one of Wings’ most successful singles, it never featured on an album. It’s Marmite music, and  a single that divided and continues to divided the opinion of fans. Sadly, after Mull Of Kintyre, Wings released just two more albums, 1978s London Town and 1979s Back To The Egg. This was a disappointing swan-song, saved only by a couple of songs, including Arrow Through Me. Despite the demise of Wings, Paul McCartney’s career continued.

Paul McCartney’s first post-Wings album was McCartney II, which featured the ballad Waterfalls. Although not quite up to the standard of 1970s McCartney, which featured Every Day, McCartney II was certified gold on both sides of the Atlantic.

Calico Skies is another of the highlights of 1997s Flaming Pie. Although the album wasn’t Paul McCartney’s finest hour, there were still occasional reminders of what the great man was capable of.

English Tea is another song from the 2005 album, Chaos And Creation In The Backyard. It has a much more underrated sound that allows Paul McCartney’s voice to take centre-stage. Paul McCartney’s most recent album is New, which was released in 2013. Two songs from New feature, Save Us and Appreciate. Of the two tracks, the rocky Save Us is the better of the two tracks. Appreciate has a more experimental sound. This will divide opinion. So will the inclusion of a song from The Fireman project.

The Fireman project features Paul McCartney, and Youth of Killing Joke and The Orb. They’ve released three albums between 1993 and 2008. Their third album is Electric Arguments.  Sing The Changes was released as a single, and showcases their genre-melting sound where ambient, electronica, rock and psychedelia combine. It’s a track that will divide the opinion of Paul McCartney loyalists. However, it shows that even though he was sixty-six in 2008, he was still determined to innovate. For that, he deserves the utmost credit. That brings us to  the end of disc two of Pure McCartney, which has been  a case of so far, so good.

There’s been very few controversial inclusions on Pure McCartney. That is apart from Mull Of Kintyre, Appreciate and Sing The Changes on disc two. Mostly, has featured an interesting and eclectic selection of Paul McCartney’s post-Beatles’ career.

Disc Three.

Fans of Wings will be saddened that the group is underrepresented on disc three. Especially in light of some disappointing inclusions. The only contribution from Wings is Girlfriend, from the 1978 album London Town. The rest of the album is given over to tracks from Paul McCartney’s solo album, and a couple of collaborations.

The collaborations included the dreadful Ebony and Ivory which Paul McCartney recorded with Stevie Wonder. Despite the combined talents of two musical giants, and a remix,  it’s still,  one of the worst songs Paul McCartney recorded. Another remix is the collaboration between Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson, Say, Say, Say. Although it’s a slight improvement on Ebony and Ivory, I could’ve lived without its addition on Pure McCartney. The same can be said of what must take the title of Pure McCartney’s worst songs, We All Stand Together. Just like the other two tracks, these aberrations have no place on Pure McCartney. Thankfully, things get better.

Tug Of War was Paul McCartney’s second album since Wings split-up. Two ballads from Tug Of War feature on Pure McCartney; Wanderlust and the beautiful, string drenched, ballad Here Today. It’s remixed for Pure McCartney, and is a welcome addition. Some people will say the same about Pipes Of Peace, the title track from Paul McCartney’s 1983 album. It struck a nerve with the record buying public, and  gave Paul McCartney a Christmas number one. Three years later, Press was released as a single from the 1986 album Press To Play. While it stalled at twenty-five in the UK single charts, Press is something of a hidden gem from Paul McCartney’s back-catalogue. The same can be said about some of the songs from the nineties.

Flaming Pie was released in 1997, and was Paul McCartney’s first album in four years. Among the highlights from an album that was certified gold, were The World Tonight, Souvenir and Beautiful Night. Paul McCartney’s comeback had been successful. Now he was back to stay, and spent much of the next sixteen years making music.

In 2005, Paul McCartney released the album Chaos And Creation In The Backyard. One of the most best and most memorable tracks was, Fine Line, which was released as a single. Two years later, Dance Tonight was a released as a single in 2007. Sadly, it’s distinctly average, and far from Paul McCartney’s finest hour. Despite this, it featured on the 2009 live album, Good Evening New York City. Three years later, and Paul McCartney was back, and revisiting the past.

My Valentine was a track from the 2012 covers album Kisses On The Bottom. It found Paul McCartney covering standards in a variety of styles. Kisses On The Bottom reached the top ten on both sides of the Atlantic, as did the followup, New. It was produced by various young, up-and-coming producers. This included Paul Epworth, who produced Queenie Eye the second single released from New. This was a song from Paul McCartney’s most recent album, and brings disc three of Pure McCartney up to date.

Of the three discs so far, disc three of Pure McCartney in my opinion is, the is weakest. That however, is relative, The inclusion of three tracks take the edge of disc three. Other people will enjoy the saccharine delights of Ebony and Ivory and Say, Say, Say. We All Stand Together even Paul McCartney diehards will despair of. Hopefully, the great man will make up for his minor misdemeanours on disc four of Pure McCartney.

Disc Four.

There’s just fifteen tracks on disc four of Pure McCartney. The earliest track is the wistful sounding ballad Junk, from Paul McCartney’s debut solo album McCartney. It was released in 1970, just a week after announcing his departure from The Beatles. However, within a year,  Paul McCartney had formed his second group, Wings.

Venus And Mars/Rock Show is Wings’ first contribution. It’s from their fourth album, Venus and Mars which was released in 1975. It became a live favourite on their US tour, and featured on the 1976 triple live album Wings Over America. Two years after that memorable live album, Wings released London Town.

There’s two tracks from London Town on Pure McCartney; Don’t Let It Bring You Down and a DJ edit of With A Little Luck. These tracks are a reminder of Wings sixth and penultimate album, which was the last cohesive they released. A year later, Wings released Goodnight Tonight in 1979. However, it didn’t feature on Wings’ 1979 swan-song, Back To The Egg. Sadly, it was a disappointing album, but the jazz-tinged ballad is a beautiful reminder of an underrated group.

The Back Seat Of My Car is another of the highlights from Paul and Linda McCartney’s 1971 album Ram. It was the only album credited to the couple. After Ram, they formed Wings, which was together until 1979. The remainder of disc four of  Pure McCartney is given over to Paul McCartney’s post-1979 solo albums.

Paul McCartney’s first post-Wings album, was McCartney II, which was released in 1980. The single hook-laden Coming Up and Temporary Secretary.  Four years later, Paul McCartney released his most disappointing album of the eighties, Give My Regards To Broad Street. It was released in 1984, to some of the worst reviews a Paul McCartney album had ever received. Despite the dreadful reviews, it still sold enough to reach number one in Britain. The highlight of album was No More Lonely Nights. The followup to Give My Regards To Broad Street, was Press To Play which was released in 1986. Critics were far from impressed by the album, which featured Good Times Coming/Feel The Sun. Alas, it’s a disappointing addition to Pure McCartney, and one most people could live without. However, things do get better.

Flaming Pie which was released in 1997, is album Paul McCartney has dipped into several times for Pure McCartney. He does so again, choosing the ballad Little Willow and Great Day. After a brief excursion into the nineties, Paul McCartney dips into his noughts discography.

Fifty-three years after releasing Love Me Do with The Beatles in 1962, Paul McCartney released Chaos And Creation In The Backyard in 2005. It featured the piano lead ballad Too Much Rain. It’s another hidden gem, where Paul McCartney rolls back the years. Two years later, Paul McCartney released Memory Almost Full. He chooses Only Mama Knows, a classy slice of classic rock. The sixty-three year old hadn’t lost his Midas Touch, as the decades slipped by.

By 2014, Paul McCartney’s recording career had spanned six decades. There was no sign of him putting his feet up, when he released Hope ForThe Future as a single in 2014.  One of the legends of music was still going strong, and Pure McCartney is a celebration of Paul McCartney’s post-Beatles career.

Pure McCartney features sixty-six songs from Paul McCartney’s solo career. They’re an eclectic selection of songs that were released between 1970 and 2014. This includes songs from Paul McCartney’s solo career. They’re an interesting selection, which are the perfect introduction to Paul McCartney’s seventeen album solo career. The only disappointing tracks from Paul McCartney’s solo career are Good Times Coming/Feel The Sun, and the dreadful We All Stand Together. It’s the lowest point of Paul McCartney’s solo career. 

There are two other tracks that most people could live without. The first is the Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder collaboration Ebony and Ivory. Then there’s Say, Say, Say, where Michael Jackson joins Paul McCartney. Neither track are worthy of inclusion.  Electric Arguments a track from Paul McCartney’s The Fireman project will divide opinion. Personally, I could’ve think of several songs that I would rather had been included. However, it’s all a matter of opinion, and the man that matters is the compiler, and the man that’s responsible for all the music on Pure McCartney, Paul McCartney. 

He was the driving force behind Wings, who are well represented on Pure McCartney. These tracks are a reminder of just how good a band Wings were on their day. Sadly, in Britain, Wings neither received the credit nor recognition their music deserved. Partly, that was because of the inevitable comparison with The Beatles. This must have been hugely frustrating for Paul McCartney. Especially when you realise just how good some of Wings’ contributions are. 

Especially songs like  Band On The Run, Jet, Let ‘Em In, Live and Let Die, Silly Love Songs and With A Little Luck. They’re not just regarded as Wings’ classics, but pop classics. Given their undoable quality, it’s no wonder that Wings’ seven albums sold over seven million albums in America alone. Four of these albums topped the US Billboard 200. This meant that Paul McCartney became one a small and select band of musicians who had been part of two groups who topped the US Billboard 200 with two different bands. It seemed that being in a band brought out the best of Paul McCartney.

That was case with The Beatles, and then with Wings. Paul McCartney seemed to thrive within a group environment. Indeed some of his most memorable songs have been written and recorded  as part of a group. In the case of Wings, Paul McCartney wrote the majority of the song, but was joined by talented musicians Denny Seiwell, Denny Laine annd Henry McCullough. Linda McCarney also played her part in the Wings’ success story, and in the success of Ram.

Ram was the only album credited to Paul and Linda  McCartney. This 1971 album is oft-overlooked, and well worth rediscovering. After hearing the tracks on Pure McCartney, many record buyers will be seeking out a copy of Ram. That is sure to be the case with many of  albums that Paul McCartney has chosen tracks from. He could’ve chosen from thirty-one studio albums, but somehow, managed to narrow this down, so that he could choose ‘just’ the sixty-six tracks that became Pure McCartney. 

That can’t have been easy, and must have resulted in some difficult decisions from Paul McCartney. However, nobody knows the music Paul McCartney released in his post-Beatles’ career than Paul McCartney. He’s deeply invested in what has been forty-four years work. So there was nobody better qualified to create a lovingly compiled compilation of Paul McCartney’s post-Beatles carer. Eventually, Paul McCartney came up with what he believes represents the crème de la crème of his post-Beatles carer, Pure McCartney.

PAUL McCARTNEY-PURE McCARTNEY-DELUXE BOX SET.

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THE MAGNETIC NORTH-PROSPECT OF SKELMERSDALE.

THE MAGNETIC NORTH-PROSPECT OF SKELMERSDALE.

Four years ago, The Magnetic North announced their arrival when they released their debut album Orkney: Symphony Of The Magnetic North in May 2012. It was released to widespread critical acclaim, and immediately was hailed one of the best albums of 2012. However, the inspiration for the critically acclaimed Orkney: Symphony Of The Magnetic North came from the most unlikely places.

The idea for Orkney: Symphony Of The Magnetic North came to  Orcadian, Erland Cooper when she was asleep. That was when she claims to have been visited by the ghost of another Orcadian, Betty Corrigall. After this nocturnal visit was over, Erland’s visitor left her a present, an album’s worth of song titles that eventually became an imagined soundtrack to the island of Orkney. This became Orkney: Symphony Of The Magnetic North, a beautiful, elegiac and melodic album which introduced The Magnetic North to the record buying public. Four years layer, and The Magnetic North recently returned with a new album, that was inspired by another unlikely source, the new town of Skelmersdale, in North West England.

Skelmersdale’s roots can be traced back to the New Towns Act 1946. It made provision for new towns across the Briain. The first wave of new towns began in 1946, and right through to 1950, helped alleviate housing shortages in post war Britain. Eleven years later, and the second wave of new towns began in 1961. This was when Skelmersdale was granted new town status. Just over twenty years later, Skelmersdale became the home of one of the future members of The Magnetic North.

By the early eighties, Skelmersdale was the official UK home of the Transcendental Meditation movement. Skelmersdale situation in the middle of the UK made it the ideal place for the   Transcendental Meditation movement to build the country’s first maharishi village. Soon, Skelmersdale was home to families from across Britain, who are  looking to live peaceful and peace-promoting lives. This included the Tong family, who moved to Skelmersdale in 1984.

One of the Tong family was Simon, who nowadays, is a member of The Magnetic North alongside Erland Copper and Hannah Peel. That was still to come.  Back in 1984, Simon and the rest of the Tong family made the short journey from Bolton, to the spiritual nirvana of Skelmersdale. Simon’s father had embraced the whole Transcendental Meditation movement. However, Simon hadn’t quite embraced Transcendental Meditation. That came later:  “when I got to 16 and started practising it for a few years, it worked. I became a lot less miserable and angry.” However, little did Simon realise that his teenage years in Skelmersdale would one day, inspire an album.

Nearly twenty years later Simon Tong, Erland Copper and Hannah Peel were member of The Magnetic North. It was a vehicle for their occasional collaborations. Their debut album was Orkney: Symphony Of The Magnetic North, which was released to critical acclaim in 2013. With time in their respective busy schedules, the three members of The Magnetic North were looking for inspiration for their sophomore album. When Simon began reminiscing about his former life in Skelmersdale, this proved to be a eureka moment. Hannah Peel suggested the band look to Skelmersdale for inspiration. This was the genesis of The Magnetic North’s sophomore album Prospect Of Skelmersdale, which was recently released on Full Time Hobby.

Hannah Peel suggested that the three members of The Magnetic North should head to Skelmersdale, in the hope of finding musical inspiration. By visiting Simon’s home town, they hoped that they would get some sense of what the town was about. So a visit to Skelmersdale was planned, with Simon Peel providing an alternative road map. This is the one the sat-nav providers doesn’t provide. Each place on the map was accompanied by a paragraph of humorous comments. Simon didn’t hold back, and hilarity ensued. Unsurprisingly,the initial attempts to write an album failed. So The Magnetic North tried a new approach.

Having failed to find inspiration in Skelmersdale, The Magnetic North decided to visit a place where Simon spent childhood holidays, Eskdale. This was where The Magnetic North began rewriting their sophomore album. Two key components of the album The Magnetic North were hope and positivity.

To write the album, The Magnetic North left no stone unturned. They studied old news stories, the town’s modern history, relied upon distant memories and even drew inspiration from road signs and graffiti. Gradually, the three members of The Magnetic North carefully crafted eleven new songs. They told the stories of the hope that imbued the new arrivals, and the desperation of those who wanted to leave. This recording The Magnetic North realised, would become a sonic time-capsule, which documented a time and place in a town’s history. 

Having written ten new songs, and decided to cover George Harrison’s Run Of The Mill and the traditional song A Death In The Woods, recording of Prospect Of Skelmersdale got underway. Producing the album were the three members of The Magnetic North. Some of the album was recorded in Eskdale, while other sessions took place at Rockwood Studios and Coronet Studio, London. That was where Simon Tong was transformed into a one man rhythm section, playing drums, bass, guitar and even keyboards. Erland Cooper was equally versatile, switching between drums, guitar and keyboards. Vocalist Hannah Peel played keyboards and took charge of the strings and brass. However,  one of The Magnetic North’s secret weapons still had to be added, a variety of spoken word samples. They were used on Prospect Of Skelmersdale. So were some guest musicians,

They were brought aboard to augment The Magnetic North. Among the addition musicians were drummer James Field; Alex Card on bass clarinet and clarinet and flautist Daniel Shao who also plays piccolo. Laura Grove played piano and added vocals on the track that closed the album, Run Of The Mill. Once the twelve songs on Prospect Of Skelmersdale were recorded,  Erland Cooper mixed the album. All that was left was for Guy Davis to master Prospect Of Skelmersdale. Now The Magnetic North’s sophomore album was ready for release.

After nearly four years, The Magnetic North returned with their much-anticipated sophomore album Prospect Of Skelmersdale. It had been a long wait, but was Prospect Of Skelmersdale worth it?

Opening Prospect Of Skelmersdale is Jai Guru Dev,which was the name of the original guru to the Maharishi. Just melancholy strings usher in Hannah Peel’s tender, hopeful vocal. Soon, an organ drones, providing the perfect counterpoint to the vocal and strings. Then at 1.06, a sample of a speech from the opening of the maharishi village enters. Ethereal harmonies float above the sample. It’s is a reminder of an age when there was hope for the future in Skelmersdale and other new towns. As the sample drops out, the arrangement becomes shrill and dramatic, before an alarm clock rings. It’s a wakeup call, and a reminder that the hopes and dream of bright new future has gone badly wrong. as nowadays, people are desperate to leave Britain’s new towns.

There’s an urgency to the acoustic guitar that opens Pennylands. It’s accompanied by subtle strings, a guitar and harmonies. They drop out, and are replaced by pizzicato and then quivering strings. That’s until the tempo increases and the rhythm section and guitars join the lush, swirling strings. They help propel the arrangement along, as Hannah delivers the lyrics, while The rest of The Magnetic North add harmonies. By now, everything is falling into place, creating a hook-laden song that’s not just melodic and memorable, but truly irresistible

A Death In The Woods is a traditional song, which The Magnetic North give a makeover. The introduction  is akin to an eerie musical merry-go-round. It provides the backdrop for Simon’s vocal, as he delivers the dark, cinematic lyrics. Soon, though, harmonies, the rhythm section and strings have been added. They play their part in  multilayered arrangement. That’s until the arrangement is stripped bare, adding to the drama. Filters hide the arrangement is it threatens to reappear. When it does, it’s loud, too loud. Having said that the mixture of instruments and harmonies works, and works well. They add an element of drama, to this cinematic song.

What sounds like snap, crackle and pop of worn vinyl opens Sandy Lane. Meanwhile, A piano is played deliberately, strings sweep as a sample of Fyfe Robertson advertising the delights of Skelmersdale is added. When it drops out, all that’s left are Hannah and Simon’s tender, heartfelt vocal. Soon, strings and a flute, piano and weeping guitar are added as this beautiful, melodic song meanders along. When the vocals drop out, the instruments are added to the arrangement, and at 2.54 grows in power. The rhythm section join the strings, woodwind and punchy harmonies. One thing that doesn’t change is the earlier beauty, which is almost omnipresent during this journey down Sandy Lane.

Another sample from Skelmersdale’s past opens Signs, a song that funnily enough, was inspired by road signs. As the sample plays, rueful strings play. However, when the sample drops out, there’s almost a hip hop influence as crispy drums and what sounds like a scratch combine. Thankfully, The Magnetic North continue their unmistakable fusion of folk and indie pop. As drums crack and scamper, vocals join with strings, guitar and keyboards. Gradually, the arrangement builds. The vocals, strings and drums playing leading roles in creating sweet, poppy hooks in this homage to Signs.

The ethereal beauty of Hannah’s vocal opens Little Jerusalem. Accompanying her, are quivering strings, which combine with an organ to create a slow, dramatic backdrop. Later, when the vocal drops out, the arrangement drifts slowly and dreamily along. Just drums, lush strings and percussion combine with chirping guitars. Then when Hannah returns, swathes and swells accompany of her best and most beautiful vocals along. 

As Remains Of Elmer unfolds, samples accompany a chiming, crystalline guitar while drums crack, clatter and resonate. Meanwhile, Simon and Hannah deliver the cinematic lyrics. The Magnetic North’s sonic palette is a combination of instruments, effects and vocal. They’re used effectively, painting pictures, and later, adding drama. This comes courtesy of swathes of urgent sweeping strings, harmonies and the rhythm section. They’re a potent combination, that create one of the highlights of Prospect Of Skelmersdale.

Thunderous drums open Cergy-Pontoise, while guitars and keyboards combine. Soon, they’re joined by strings. By then, the drums have been reigned in, and are no longer dominating the mix. Especially when Hannah’s dreamy vocal enters. She’s accompanied by rumbling drums, sweeping strings, a clarinet, a dreamy guitar and harmonies. Then when the vocal drops out, the multilayered arrangement takes centre-stage. Instruments are added, disappear and then reappear. So does Hannah’s vocal, albeit briefly. All too soon, Cergy-Pontoise is over, and all that remains is the memory of The Magnetic North at their melodic and inventive best.

A lone piano plays slowly on Exit, adding a melancholy hue. Soon, though, it’s all change as the piano gives way to an acoustic guitar, sci-fi sound and a sample of sat-nav. Meanwhile, Simon whose driving towards the Exit, delivers a wistful, crestfallen vocal. He’s accompanied by Hannah, synthetic drums, sci-fi sounds and the piano. They’re unlikely bedfellows, but work well and accompany Simon’s soul-baring vocal on another cinematic song rich in imagery.

The arrangement to The Silver Birch literally floats and flutters along. A piano and clarinet combine with a guitar and handclaps. They set the scene for Simon’s vocal. It’s delivered with a degree of urgency, while the instruments dominate the arrangement. Simon’s vocal sits back in the arrangement, which now features strings and harmonies. Soon, the baton passes to Hannah, and she delivers a tender vocal. By then, the arrangement has grown, becoming almost grandiose and symphonic. Later, the arrangement is stripped bare. All that remains are the woodwind, which add a poignancy to one of the best productions on Prospect Of Skelmersdale.

Distant drums combine with percussion and a piano on Northway Southway. They’re joined by strings, before Simon and Hannah share the lead vocal. Their vocals sit well together, while the arrangement builds and grows. Playing leading roles are the piano strings and guitar. They create the perfect foil to the vocals, on this beautiful, emotive ballad. My only quibble is the addition of a sample at the very end of the song, which takes away from the beauty, emotion and drama.  

A cover of George Harrison’s Run Of The Mill closes Prospect Of Skelmersdale. This is fitting, as George Harrison was born in Liverpool, just sixteen miles from Skelmersdale. Joining The Magnetic North, is Laura Groves who plays piano and deliver a tender, heartfelt and vocal. She’s accompanied by washes of keyboards, strings and harmonies. They create an understated backdrop that allows Laura Graves to shine, on another of the album’s highlights.

After four long years, The Magnetic North return recently with their eagerly awaited sophomore album Prospect Of Skelmersdale. It finds The Magnetic North picking up where they left off on Orkney: Symphony Of The Magnetic North. They create another album of beautiful, elegiac and melodic music. Hooks certainly aren’t in short supply.The music on Prospect Of Skelmersdaleis also cerebral, cinematic  and infused with hope and positivity. They’re the two threads that run through the album. 

Prospect Of Skelmersdale wasn’t an easy album to write. After a false start, The Magnetic North retired to Eskdale, where Simon Tong had holidayed as a child. That was the start of a search for musical inspiration. The Magnetic North left no stone unturned. They studied old new stories, the town’s modern history, relied upon distant memories and even drew inspiration from road signs and graffiti. Gradually, the three members of The Magnetic North carefully and lovingly crafted eleven new songs. These songs told the stories of the hope that imbued the new town’s arrivals, and the desperation of those who wanted to leave. That’s the case with Skelmerdale, and all of the other new towns that were created in 1961. 

In a way, Prospect Of Skelmersdale tells their story too.  It’s a powerful musical document, and one that The Magnetic North realise, will become a sonic time-capsule. It documents a time and place in a town’s history. This musical document, Prospect Of Skelmersdale was created by musicians turned historians, The Magnetic North. 

It’s a fitting followup up to Orkney: Symphony Of The Magnetic North, and one that has been worth the four year wait. The Magnetic North  have created another carefully crafted of music that’s variously beautiful, elegiac and ethereal as well as cerebral, cinematic and melodic. For those that have yet to discover the delights of The Magnetic North, then Prospect Of Skelmersdale is perfect starting place and is a tantalising taste of what the talented trio are capable of.

THE MAGNETIC NORTH-PROSPECT OF SKELMERSDALE.

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THE DAMNED-MACHINE GUN ETIQUETTE.

THE DAMNED-MACHINE GUN ETIQUETTE.

Not many bands get to celebrate their fortieth anniversary. Especially punk bands. They were mostly short-lived affairs, who released one or two singles, before calling it a day. However, one band are still going strong after forty years, The Damned. Their third album Machine Gun Etiquette has just been reissued on vinyl by Ace Records.  It was released in 1979, three years after the story of The Damned began.

The Damned were formed in London in 1976, when members of two existing groups decided to form a new band. This included Dave Lett, Raymond Burns and Chris Millar, who previously, had  been members of Masters Of The Backside. They were joined by final Brian Robertson, who had been a member of the London SS. They became The Dammed.

In The Damned, the four musicians sported new musical identities.  Vocalist David Lett was known as Dave Vanian; drummer Chris Millar became Rat Scabies; bassist and future guitarist Raymond Burns sported the moniker Captain Sensible. Guitarist Brian Robertson became known as Brian James. Together as The Damned, they soon began making their presence felt in London’s nascent punk scene.

On the 6th of July 1976, The Damned made their live debut, when they supported the Sex Pistols at 100 Club. This was the start of a rivalry between the two groups, which saw one writing their name into musical history.

Having made their live debut, The Damned’s thoughts eventually turned to releasing a debut single. None of the punk groups had released a single yet. Somebody had to be first, so why not The Damned?

They headed to Pathway Studios, London, with producer Nick Lowe. That was where The Damned recorded their new single, the Brian James’ composition New Rose. On the B-Side, was a cover The Beatles’ Help, which was given a punk makeover. Once the single was recorded, it was released on October 22nd 1976, and made history.

New Rose was released by Stiff Records, and reached eighty-one in the UK single charts. It became the first single to be released by a British punk rock group. The Damned had beaten the Sex Pistols’ Anarchy In The UK to the title by five weeks. This wouldn’t the only time The Damned made musical history.

Damned, Damned, Damned.

After the success of New Rose, The Damned headed out on tour with the Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Heartbreakers. The plan was to tour Britain, taking punk to the provinces. However, by then, the Sex Pistols had released Anarchy In The UK as a single. This resulted in many venues cancelling the concerts, in case anarchy in the provinces broke out. After a shorter tour than The Damned had expected, they returned to London, and completed the recording of their debut album.

Recording of Damned, Damned, Damned took place during three sessions at Pathway Studios, London. The first was in September 1976, with the album being completed in December 1976 and January 1977. In total, it had taken just ten days to record  Damned, Damned, Damned. This left just the album to be mixed. It was completed on 15th January 1977, and just a month later, Damned, Damned, Damned was released.

Before that, critics had their say on The Damned’s debut album Damned, Damned, Damned. The reviews were mostly positive, and praised the energy and humour of the songs. Most were penned by Brian James, with Tony James cowriting Fish, and Rat Scabies contributing Stab Yor Back. Closing the album was a cover of The Stooges’ I Feel Alright. It was one of the tracks where critics remarked upon drive and energy of the rhythm section.  Rat Scabies’ drums and Brian James’ bass were crucial to the album’s sound and indeed, success.

When Stiff Records released The Damned’s debut album Damned, Damned, Damned, on 18th February 1977, it reached number thirty-one in the UK album charts. Making the success even sweeter, was the thought that The Damned had become the first punk band to release an album. Again, The Damned had beaten their old nemesis’ the Sex Pistols again, and in doing so, had written their way into musical history. This was becoming a habit.

Alas, The Damned’s run of breaking records came to an abrupt end on 18th February 1977. The same day as Damned, Damned, Damned was released, Neat, Neat, Neat was released as a single. It failed to even trouble the charts. There was small crumb of comfort. Neat, Neat, Neat featured a truly memorable bass line from Captain Sensible. So much so, that in 2006 Stylus magazine called Captain Sensible’s one of the thirty-third best bass line of all time. However, back in 1977, The Damned hardly had time to worry about the commercial failure of Neat, Neat, Neat.

Straight after the release of Damned, Damned, Damned, The Damned headed out on tour, to promote their debut album. Then in March 1977, The Damned got the opportunity to open for T-Rex in March 1977. Things were happening quickly for The Damned, and as  

Spring turned to summer, they then embarked upon an American tour. The Damned became the first British punk band to tour America. Again, they had beaten the Sex Pistols to the punch. However, by August 1977, changes were afoot.

In August 1977, The Damned brought onboard Lu Edmonds as a second guitarist. Around this time, there was also an ill-conceived and ill-fated attempt to bring Syd Barrett onboard to produce their sophomore album. Sadly, by then the founder of Pink Floyd was living a reclusive lifestyle and  had serious health problems. However, his onetime colleague Nick Mason agreed to produce what became Music For Pleasure.

Music For Pleasure.

Now a five piece, The Damned began work on their sophomore album, Music For Pleasure. Again, Brian James wrote much of the album. He penned six songs of the ten songs;  cowrote Problem Child and Stretcher Case with Rat Scabie and joined with Dave Varian to write Your Eyes. The remaining song, Idiot Box, came from the pen of Dave Varian and Rat Scabies. However, to onlookers,  Brian James was playing a major part when it came to writing The Damned’s first two albums. Without him, where would they be?

When it came to recording Music For Pleasure, The Damned had come up in the world. They headed to Britannia Row Studios, which Pink Floyd had built after recording Wish You Were Here in 1975. It was a cutting edge facility, and very different to most studios that punk bands frequented. WithNick Mason taking care of production, The Damned recorded the ten tracks that became Music For Pleasure. Once it was recorded, Stiff Records scheduled the release for late 1977.

Eventually, Music For Pleasure was scheduled for released on the 18th November 1977. Before that, critics had their say on the album. Critics were far from impressed. Part of the problem was the quality of songs. They failed to match the quality on Damned, Damned, Damned.  This isn’t unusual, as often, a band have spent months, even years writing their debut album. So when asked to write an album in a short space of time, this is often a step too far. Among the few highlights were Politics, Alone, Your Eyes  and Creep (You Can’t Fool Me). They just about stood up to scrutiny, in an album that some critics felt, lacked focus and musical direction. Even new addition Lu Edmonds came in for criticism, with critics doubting that he brought anything to the table.  Did The Damned really need two guitarists? That some critics felt was debatable. However, Lu Edmonds almost got away lightly. Other critics went further, calling the album a disaster and a musical misjudgement. This didn’t augur well for the released of Music For Pleasure.

Especially when Stretcher Case Baby had been released as the lead single,  on 3rd July 1977, but never came close to troubling the charts. This must have worried members of The Damned and everyone at Stiff Records. Things got worse when Problem Child was released on the 28th September 1977, and failed to chart. Surely things couldn’t get any worse for The Damned?

By then, they must have been fearing the worst, and preparing for what was to come. However, even The Damned couldn’t have foreseen what would happen. When Music For Pleasure was released on the 18th November 1977, the album failed to chart. Neither did final single released from Music For Pleasure.

When  Don’t Cry Wolf which was released in December 1977, it failed to chart. It became The Damned’s fourth consecutive single that failed to chart. Only their debut single New Rose charted, and even then, reached a lowly eighty-one in the UK single charts. These were worrying times for The Damned.

Little did The Damned know that two members of the band were planning to quit. Don’t Cry Wolf would prove to be two members of The Damned’s swan-song. That was in the future. Before that, The Damned were hit by two huge blows.

The first was when Stiff Records dropped The Damned. Suddenly, the band who were at the vanguard of the punk movement were without a label. To make matters worse, one of their most talented musicians walked away from the band.

Rat Scabies was so disappointed with Music For Pleasure, that he quit The Damned. Given the importance of Rat Scabies’ drums in The Damned’s sound, it was a blow the band wouldn’t recover from.

That is despite bringing future Culture Club drummer Jon Moss onboard. He couldn’t replicate the sound of Rat Scabies, and in February 1978, The Damned split-up for the first time.

For the next year, the members of The Damned worked on a variety of projects. However, in late 1978, Rat Scabies had formed a new band, Les Punks for a one off gig. Its lineup featured vocalist Dave Vanian, Captain Sensible and a rhythm section of drummer Rat Scabies and Motorhead’s Lemmy on bass. So successful was the Les Punks’ gig, that they reunited in early 1979.

When Les Punks reunited, they decided to change their name to The Doomed. This as close as they dare to using The Damned name. If they had performed as The Damned, there was the likelihood that  they would encounter problems with the use of the band’s trademark. By then, Captain Sensible had switched to guitar and keyboards. This left the band without a bassist. While Lemmy filled in when recording demos and playing a few live dates, he had other commitments. 

This left The Doomed searching for a replacement bassist. They thought they had found it in Henry Badowski. He spent part of 1978 playing with The Doomed. Then  Henry Badowsk was eventually replaced by The Saints’ former bassist Algy Ward. The Doomed’s problematic bass position had been solved.  At last, The Doomed had a settled lineup. The only blip came in December 1978, during The Doomed Scottish tour. Gary Holton had to briefly fill in for Dave Vanian. Apart from that, things were looking up for The Doomed.

By April 1979, The Doomed were now The Damned. The group was now, officially able to play and record as The Damned. It was a big relief to the band, whose career had been on hold. Now The Damned could begin to play live and sign a new record deal.

The Damned made their ‘second’ debut in April 1979. By then, Dave Vanian’s vocal style had changed,  and he was no longer just singing in his former high baritone style, but crooning. It came as a shock to those who remembered The Damned’s early days as punk pioneers. Another difference was The Damned had adopted a much more melodic style. It was a mixture of speed and volume, and driven along by Captain Sensible’s keyboards. The times they were a changing.

Later in 1979, The Damned’s good luck continued, when they signed a record deal with Chiswick Records. Not long after signing their new recording contract, The Damned headed to Wessex Studios to record what became Machine Gun Etiquette. 

Machine Gun Etiquette.

Before heading to Wessex Studios, The Damned had written ten new tracks and cowrote I Just Can’t Be Happy Today with Giovanni Dadomo. Gone were the days when The Damned were reliant upon one songwriter to write most of an album. Belatedly, The Damned were a democracy as far songwriting went. Machine Gun Etiquette was a much more collaborative album. It was also album where they paid homage to one of their musical heroes, MC5.

On their debut album Damned, Damned, Damned,  The Damned covered The Stooges I Feel Alright. This time around, The Damned covered MC5s Looking at You. This was fitting given the new direction The Damned’s music was about to head in on Machine Gun Etiquette.

The Damned would combine elements of sixties garage rock, pop, punk and psychedelic rock. There was also a more experimental sound Machine Gun Etiquette. It seemed as if The Damned were in the process of finding themselves musically. Helping them to do so, was producer Roger Armstrong.

When The Damned arrived at Wessex Studios, London, they immediately encountered another of the punk pioneers, The Clash. They were in the process of recording their classic album, London Calling. The new lineup of The Damned must have been hoping that their comeback album would enjoy some of the success that previous Clash albums had enjoyed. They were now one of the biggest British bands, while the third lineup of The Damned were starting over.

This new lineup of The Damned featured  vocalist Dave Vanian; drummer Rat Scabies; bassist Algy Ward and Captain Sensible who was switching between guitar and keyboards. It took two lots of sessions to record  Machine Gun Etiquette. The first began in March, and finished in May 1979. After a month which The Damned spent playing live, they returned to the studio in July. They spent the next two months completing their third album Machine Gun Etiquette. By August 1979, The Damned were ready to begin their comeback. 

For The Damned’s comeback single, the album opener Love Song was chosen.  No wonder; it was undoubtably one of the highlights of Machine Gun Etiquette. It’s memorable and catchy, as The Damned fuse elements of punk with swaggering garage rock and a memorable hook. Playing leading roles, were Rat Scabies’ drums and Captain Sensible’s blistering, searing guitar licks. Atop the arrangement, sits Dave Vernon’s punk infused vocal. This was a potent combination, which when in it was released in April 1979, caught the imagination of the record buying public. Love Song reached number twenty in the UK, and was then released in France, Germany and Holland. The Damned had just enjoyed the biggest hit of their career so far. Soon, The Damned were on a  role.

Having enjoyed a hit single with Love Song, The Damned were keen to repeat the experience. The song that was chosen for their second single, was Smash It Up. It’s a song of two parts, where the melodic first half giving way to riotous fusion of pop and punk. It was critique of hippie culture, and a call for political revolution. This the BBC took offence at, fearing it would lead to anarchy in the UK. However, this was the best thing that could happen to the song. 

Smash It Up was released on the 28th September 1979, with ironically Burglar on the B-Side. Burglar saw Rat Scabies take charge of the lead vocal. Suddenly, curiosity got the best of record buyers, who bought the single to see what the fuss was about. When this was combined with The Damned fans who bought Smash It Up, it reached thirty-six in the UK. The Damned’s call for political revolution, had been a successful and profitable exercise. 

Having released two hit singles from Machine Gun Etiquette, things were looking good for The Damned as November 1979 release date approached. There was only one hurdle left to overcome, the critics. All The Damned had to do, was avoid the slings and arrows of over critical critics.

Unlike their sophomore album Music For Pleasure, Machine Gun Etiquette was hailed a resounding success by critics. Some went as far as to use the c-word, and called Machine Gun Etiquette a classic. This some critics said, was The Damned’s second classic. However, whether Damned, Damned, Damned was a classic is debatable. Machine Gun Etiquette certainly was

Critics enjoyed, embarked and welcome The Damned’s exploration through sixties garage rock, pop, punk and psychedelic rock. They hadn’t turned their back on their punk roots, but The Damned knew that their music had to evolve. What hadn’t changed was The Damned’s ability to create music that is witty and sometimes, full of social comment. That humour was evident in the album opener Love Song, where  The Damned combine their trademark pun sound with  wit and cliches. It’s a similarly story on Noise, Noise, Noise and Liar. This is what people had come to expect from The Damned.

Elsewhere, The Damned swagger their way through Machine Gun Etiquette, as they created riotous, rocky and memorable music.  It’s akin to an adrenaline rush as The Damned rock, and rock hard. They kick out the jams, on Machine Gun Etiquette and on Anti Pope, which is a song of two parts. Then on the MC5s Looking At You, The Damned pay homage to Detroit’s finest with a blistering, driving fusion of garage rock and punk. However, one of the highlights is 

I  Just Can’t Be Happy Today which stylistically and sonically, is reminiscent of the Electric Prunes. Hooks aren’t in short supply on this fusion of pop and rock. However, on other songs, another side to The Damned shines through.

These Hands features one of Dave Vanian’s best vocals, on a tale of supposed merry mayhem. This gives way to Plan 9 Channel 7,  a five minute epic, about the life and times of James Dean.  However, after Liar, this leaves just Smash It Up Part 1 and 2. The Damned many critics felt, had kept the best until last.  Critics hailed Machine Gun Etiquette a stonewall classic.

When Machine Gun Etiquette was released in November 1979, it was to critical acclaim. Ever since their comeback, The Damned’s luck had changed. This continued when Machine Gun Etiquette reached number thirty-one in the UK album charts. Eventually, it was certified silver. The Damned had released the most successful and finest album of their career, Machine Gun Etiquette. It’s just been reissued on vinyl by Ace Records. The sound  quality is stunning, and is the perfect way to rediscover this classic album.

Thirty-seven years after the release of Machine Gun Etiquette, The Damned’s third album is nowadays recognised as a classic album. The Damned come of age on Machine Gun Etiquette. No longer were they the punk band that made their debut on Damned, Damned, Damned. While The Damned hadn’t turned their back on their punk roots, they had moved towards a much more rocky sound. 

The Damned incorporate elements of sixties garage rock, pop and psychedelia to their punk roots on Machine Gun Etiquette. This resulted in a much more accessible album than their first two albums. Machine Gun Etiquette had a much wider appeal than Damned, Damned, Damned and Music For Pleasure. Partly, this was to do with the new lineup.

With Captain Sensible switching to keyboards and guitar, this left a void. A new bassist was needed, and Algy Ward fitted the bill. He slotted into the rhythm section alongside drummer Rat Scabies, and they formed a formidable partnership. Meanwhile, Captain Sensible proved a talented keyboardist and guitarist. This game of musical chairs had worked. So had the other change since The Damned had reformed.

This final change was that no longer were The Damned reliant upon one songwriter. Suddenly, the band was a democracy as far as songwriting was concerned. Their lyrics were clever, controversial, witty and sometimes, full of social comment. These songs came to life in the Wessex Studios, and gave The Damned the most successful album of their career. 

While Machine Gun Etiquette failed to match the success of the other album being recorded at Wessex Studios, The Clash’s London Calling, The Damned are still going strong after forty years. What better way to celebrate such an important anniversary, than with Ace Records vinyl reissue of The Damned’s classic album Machine Gun Etiquette?

THE DAMNED-MACHINE GUN ETIQUETTE.

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STEIN URHEIM-STRANDEBARM.

STEIN URHEIM-STRANDEBARM.

Stein Urheim is unlike most musicians. He’s a talented multi-instrumentalist, who refuses to be constrained by musical norms. Instead, his approach to music is that anything is possible. That has been the case on his first two solo albums, where Stein Urheim has pushed boundaries to their limits, and sometimes beyond. This approach has served Stein Urheim well. 

Already, Stein Urheim has released two critically acclaimed solo albums for Hubro Music. His debut album Kosmolodi was released in April 2012, and announced Stein Urheim’s arrival. Immediately, he was regarded as a rising star of the vibrant and thriving Norwegian music scene. This proved a prescient forecast.

Less that a year later, in February 2013, Stein Urheim and Mari Kvien Brunvoll released their first collaboration, Daydream Twin. It was so well received, that it was nominated for a Spellemannprisen, the Norwegian equivalent of a Grammy Award. Buoyed by the success and reception of Daydream Twin, Stein Urheim began work on his eponymous sophomore album.

Almost a year to the day, and Stein Urheim returned with his eponymous sophomore album. It was released to widespread critical acclaim in February 2014. Suddenly, Stein Urheim’s music was known internationally, and he was being hailed as one of the most innovative Norwegian artists of his generation. However, Stein Urheim wasn’t one to rest on his laurels.

Instead, Stein Urheim has recorded and released his second collaboration with Mari Kvien Brunvoll, For Individuals Facing The Terror Of Cosmic Loneliness. It was an ambitious and genre-melting album that unsurprisingly, was released to overwhelming critical acclaim in October 2015. However, that wasn’t the only project Stein Urheim had been working on.

Far from it. Stein Urheim had also been recording his much anti pated third album, Strandebarm. It was recently released by Hubro Music, and features a welcome return by thirty-seven year old Stein Urheim. His life seems have revolved around music for much of his life.

Stein Urheim was born, and is still based in the beautiful coastal city Bergen in 1979. That was where he grew up, and first discovered music. Soon, his life seemed to revolve around listening to, and playing music. The first instrument Stein learn to play, was the guitar. Since then he has expanded his musical horizons.

Nowadays, Stein Urheim is best described as a multi-instrumentalist. He owns and plays a wide variety of stringed instruments. Many of these instruments, Stein has picked up as he travels the globe. However, it’s not just instruments that Stein Urheim has collected, but credits.

During a career that’s spanned the best part of two decades, Stein Urheim has worked on a variety of different projects. Since making his recording debut in 2001, Stein Urheim has worked as a musician, vocalist, arranger, producer and recordist. 

Stein’s worked with some of the biggest names in Norwegian music. One of his first appearances was on Unge Frustrerte Menn’s 2001 album Dronningen Av Kalde Føtter. Three years later, Stein played on Barabass and The Happy Few’s 2004 album Rali Rei. Then in 2009, Stein accompanied Sergeant Petter on his Sgt. Petter album. Other appearances include on Sigrid Moldestad’s 2010 album Sandkorn and Gabriel Fliflet Åresong. Indeed, Stein was a member Gabriel Fliflet’s band Åresong and HP Gundersen’s  drone band The Last Hurrah. As you can see, Stein is an experienced, versatile and talented musician. His talents are highly in demand. It’s a wonder he has the time for a solo career. Somehow, he managed to finds the time to write, record and release his much-anticipated third album Strandebarm.

After a two year absence, Bergen based, multi-instrumentalist Stein Urheim, returns with another album of ambitious and innovative music, Strandebarm. Apart from Fjellbekken a traditional song, and the lyrics to Oh So Nice which  Kurt Vonnegut, Stein Urheim wrote the rest of  Strandebarm.  However, Strandebarm’s tonal point of departure was the music of the past. 

Specifically, French music of the early 1900s and American ragtime and standards of the twenties and thirties are a tonal departure point for Stein Urheim on Strandebarm. These he combines with both acoustic instruments and electronic elements. They’re both part of Stein Urheim’s musical arsendal, which he deploys to good effect as he recorded Strandebarm.

The recording of Strandebarm took place at the Strandebarm Church in January 2015.  It just happens to be situated not far from Stein Urheim’s home.  However, it wasn’t convenience of the Strandebarm Church why is was chosen for the recording of Stein’s third album. Instead, it was the stunning acoustics. This made it the perfect place to record Strandebarm. Joining Stein, were a couple of old friends.

At Strandebarm, Stein Urheim was joined by recordist Audun Strype, plus engineer and producer Jørgen Træen. Both had worked with Stein before. Once everything was in place in the makeshift studio, Stein was ready to put his skills as a multi-instrumentalist to good use. 

When the record button was pressed, Stein Urheim became a one man band recording guitars and acoustic instruments. Seamlessly he switched between traditional and exotic instruments. It didn’t seem to matter when Stein was laying down guitars, flutes, harmonica, slide tamboura, fretless bouzouki, mandolin, langeleik, Turkish Tanbur, banjo, pocket-cornet or percussion he was equally comfortable. During the recording, Stein added delay, triggered loops and added vocals. Given Stein’s versatility, there was no need to bring onboard an entire band. Instead, just producer and engineer Jørgen Træen augmented Stein. Jørgen played modular synths, added effects and triggered loops. Once the sessions at Strandebarm were complete, everyone headed to Duper Studio.

That was where some additional recording took place. Once the sessions at Duper Studio were complete, the album complete and ready to be mixed. Now Stein Urheim’s third solo album Strandebarm was nearing completion. The big question was, would Strandebarm enjoy the same critical acclaim as Stein Urheim’s two previous albums Kosmolodi and Stein Urheim?

Water Part 1 opens Strandebarm. A myriad of traditional and exotic instrumentation combine as the soundscape gradually, and slowly, reveals it secrets. By then, Stein has unleashed his musical arsenal, including various stringed instruments. To this, he adds a hint of delay. Soon, nothing is as it seems as washes and swells of meandering music  assails the listener. Instruments appear, only to disappear and reappear. They create music that’s variously beautiful, cinematic, exotic, haunting, lysergic and wistful. It’s a fusion of ambient, avant-garde, classical, Eastern and experimental music. That’s until, a slide tamboura signals all change. Drums join with a picked guitar as the tempo rises. From there, the drums provides the heartbeat as Stein switches between guitar and slide tamboura. Together, they create an atmospheric, cinematic soundscape that references Ry Cooder’s soundtrack work, in this captivating opening track.

Straight away, the soundscape quivers and shivers, as synths join with stringed instruments on Strandebarm. They create a ruminative soundscape. Gradually,instruments are added, including lush and wistful strings. Almost midway through the track, a much more experimental, almost weeping, sci-fi sound emerges. Its ethereal beauty washes over the listener, before a flourish of guitar signals a change in direction. The arrangement is stripped bare, and all that remains is Stein’s acoustic guitar. His finger flit up and down the fretboard as he carefully plucks his guitar, producing a quite beautiful, dreamy solo. Then at just the right time, washes of floaty synths are added and prove the perfect counterpoint for the guitar. The synths drop out ,but reappear as Stein produces a musical masterclass on his acoustic guitar.

There’s an Eastern influence to Water Part-2, various stringed instruments are played. They resonate and drone, as percussion is added to the meditative soundscape. Meanwhile, Stein’s vocal has a similar meditative sound. Soon, though, his fingers flit up and down the fretboard of his guitar, as he strums and plucks. Behind him, the Eastern influence is can still be heard, as it resonates and drones. Then it’s all change as Stein sings: “what’s in the water,  H20, life;’s in the water.” His vocal is multi tracked, as accompanies himself on guitar. Sometimes, he adds effects, before the Eastern sound returns, on what’s a song of two parts. It’s the perfect showcase for Stein’s versatility as he fuses disparate musical genres, including elements of avant-garde, Eastern, folk, psychedelia and even a hint of pop.

Washes of synths beep and squeak on Fjellbekken, as if sending out a code. They then buzz as if recreating the sound of a biplane. This marks the start of a multi-cultural musical journey. Ethereal synths are joined by washes of langeleik. By then, instruments are being layered, and merge into one as effects and added. Then the arrangement is stripped bare, and the stringed instruments enjoy their moment in the spotlight. Just the slide tamboura and langeleik remain, as the underrated, mellow and dreamy arrangement meanders mesmerically along. In the distance, instruments drift in, adding an exotic hue. Suddenly, Stein is painting pictures of somewhere warm and dusty, as his myriad of instruments paint an atmospheric and sometimes dramatic, cinematic backdrop on this Norwegian fiddle tune.

Washes of weeping slide tamboura resonate and drone on Oh So Nice. They  an atmospheric backdrop, before Stein picks and plucks at the strings. They resonate and drone before Stein delivers Kurt Vonnegut’s hopeful lyrics. Behind him, various stringed instruments accompany him. They then take centre-stage as the vocal drops out. This allows Stein to deliver another breathtaking solo, which is full of flourishes and flamboyance from the multitalented multi-instrumentalist.

Understated and dreamy describes the arrangement to Dragene Over Tempelhof. Washes of dreamy synths float across the arrangement, leaving an ethereal trail in their wake. They continue to float and flutter elegantly along, like an ambient soundscape. That’s until Stein decides to throw a curveball. Suddenly, industrial and found sounds interrupt the dreamy, ethereal soundscape. They add a new dimension, and add to, rather than detract from what’s one of the highlights of Strandebarm.

Berlin Blues whch closes Strandebarm, has an almost otherworldly sound as it meanders along. Then when Stein begins to pluck his guitar, soon, he’s rolling back the years to another musical era. His playing is inspired by French music of the early 1900s, blues and then ragtime. Meanwhile, washes of weeping stringed instruments provide a subtle accompaniment. Seamlessly, he switches between styles playing with accuracy and sometimes speed. Later, Stein accompanies himself on various stringed instruments. Remarkably, he seems comfortable playing each of the instruments. Then with less than a minute remaining, Stein spring his latest surprise. The tempo rises, and the soundscape becomes a musical free for all. Briefly, instruments, samples and effects melt into one. That’s until Stein rings the changes, and unleashes a bluesy guitar solo, that once again, showcases his considerable skills.

Throughout Strandebarm, Stein Urheim has showcased his talent, versatility and inventiveness, as he creates another album of innovative music. It’s a real melting pot of musical genres and influences. There’s elements of ambient, avant-garde, blues, electronica, experimental, folk, improv, industrial and psychedelia. However, then there’s the musical genres that were the tonal point of departure for Strandebarm.

This includes French music of the early 1900s; American ragtime and standards of the twenties and thirties. They were what Stein Urheim describes as his “tonal departure” when recording Strandebarm. Their influence can be heard on Strandebarm. So can all the other musical influences that have influenced Stein Urheim’s musical career.

Stein cites Norwegian folk music; the pioneers of electronic music, including Bjørn Torske, Kraftwerk and Jon Hassel; blues  guitarist Lightnin’ Hopkins; the free jazz of Ornette Coleman and the music of American composers Lou Harrison and Steve Reich as musical influences. When all these musical genres and influences are combined, it’s a heady, potent and breathtaking brew. That is the perfect description Stein Urheim’s third album Strandebarm, which has recently been released by Hubro Music. 

The heady brew that is Strandebarm, is best described as atmospheric, beautiful, ethereal, haunting, melancholy, mesmeric and wistful. Other times, the music is cinematic and dramatic. However, for much of Strandebarm, the music is ruminative and thoughtful. It allows time to reflect and consider, without being subdued or sombre. Far from it.

Instead, Strandebarm is another captivating album from one of the leading lights of Norway’s vibrant music scene, Stein Urheim. The Bergen based musical pioneer continues to innovate and take his music in new and unheralded directions. Other times, Stein Urheim springs a surprise, as he takes the listener on a musical adventure. By then, Stein Urheim is playing the role of a swashbuckling musical pioneer. Helped along by his collection of eclectic and exotic stringed instruments from the four corners of the world, Stein Urheim has created some of the most ambitious, exciting and innovative music of his career on Strandebarm.

STEIN URHEIM-STRANDEBARM.

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GEORGE HARRISON-THE APPLE YEARS.

GEORGE HARRISON-THE APPLE YEARS.

On the 10th April 1970, Paul McCartney announced his departure from The Beatles. A week later, he released his debut album McCartney. Meanwhile, The Beatles were in the process of releasing their swan-song, Let It Be.

Just a month later, the Phil Spector produced Let It Be, and the single The Long and Winding Road were released on the 8th May 1970. Let It Be was a disappointing swan-song from The Beatles. It was the only Beatles album not to be accompanied by glowing, critically acclaimed reviews. Worse was to come, later in May 1970, the documentary that accompanied Let It Be was released. Critics weren’t impressed by the documentary. Despite this, Let It Be won the 1970 Academy Award for Best Original Song Score. By then, the four former Beatles were concentrating on their solo careers.

After the breakup of The Beatles in 1970, John, Paul and Ringo embarked upon solo careers. Most of the attention was centred around John and Paul. This suited George Harrison fine. 

George Harrison’s solo career began in November 1968, nearly two before the breakup of The Beatles. That’s when George Harrison released the soundtrack to Wonderwall. It became George Harrison’s debut album, and one of the most of the most innovative, yet underrated music released by a former Beatle. This starts with George Harrison’s debut album, Wonderwall.

Wonderwall.

Wonderwall was the soundtrack to Joe Massot’s film. The soundtrack was a fusion of two musical cultures. Indian classical music and rock sat side-by-side on Wonderwall. This isn’t surprising. George Harrison had been interested in Indian music since 1966. Now George had the opportunity experiment with his new musical love.

Recording of Wonderwall took place between November 1967 and February 1968. On Wonderwall, George Harrison collaborated with renowned classical pianist and orchestral arranger John Barham. He played an important part in Wonderwall. So did a number of Indian musicians, including of the other Mahapurush Misra, Shivkumar Sharma and Aashish Khan. However, it wasn’t just classical musicians that featured on Wonderwall.

Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr and Peter Tork featured on Wonderwall. So did Tony Ashton and his band The Remo Four. Once recording of Wonderwall was complete, it was released on The Beatles’ new  record label Apple.

Before Wonderwall was released, it failed to catch the attention of critics. Many didn’t even bother to review Wonderwall. They perceived it as just a soundtrack. However, since then, critics have reevaluated Wonderwall. It’s now perceived as a compelling and innovative album. Indeed, Wonderwall is now one of the most underrated solo albums by a former Beatle. Not many people would’ve realised this in 1968.

Wonderwall was released in Britain on 1st November 1968, it failed to chart. A day later, Wonderwall was released on 2nd November 1968. It peaked at number forty-nine in the US Billboard 200. This vindicated George Harrison’s decision to release such a groundbreaking album. The followup to Wonderwall saw George’s music head in a much more avant garde direction.

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Electronic Sound.

Just over a year later, George Harrison released his sophomore album, Electronic Sound. It was an album of avant garde music. Electronic Sound was released on The Beatles’ short lived Zapple label in May 1969.

Zapple was an imprint of Apple. Its raison d’être was to release of avant garde music. However, Zapple didn’t last long. When Allen Klein started managing The Beatles, he closed the label down. This was one of his cost cutting measures. One of the few albums it released was Electronic Sound.

Electronic Sound was recorded during November 1968 and February 1969. The album featured just two lengthy pieces played on the Moog snyth. Under the Mersey Wall lasted nearly nineteen minutes and No Time or Space was a twenty-five minute epic. These two songs became Electronic Sound, which was released in May 1969.

Just like Wonderwall, critics weren’t interested in Electronic Sound. Reviews were few and far between. That’s not surprising. Here was an album that ahead of its time. Very few people understood what George was trying to achieve. Later, when critics revisited Electronic Sound, it was deemed as an album for completists only or those interested in pioneering electronic albums. Electronic Sound hadn’t stood the test of time. Neither was it a commercial success.

Electronic Sound was released in Britain on 9th May 1969, and failed to chart. Just over two weeks later, Electronic Sound was released in America on 25th May 1969. History repeated itself and Electronic Sound failed to chart. However, George’s luck was about to change. His third album All Things Must Pass, which was recently released by Commercial Marketing as a double album, would transform George Harrison’s career.

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All Things Must Pass.

While his first two album had been adventurous and groundbreaking, George Harrison’s third album All Things Must Pass is much more traditional. All Things Must Pass showcases George’s talent as a songwriter. 

For All Things Must Pass headed to the studio with eighteen tracks. Many of the songs were new songs. Some of the tracks on All Things Must Pass were written while George was a member of The Beatles. They turned down tracks like All Things Must Pass and Isn’t It A Pity. So George kept them for his solo career. Now was the time to showcase these songs on All Things Must Pass.

Sixteen of these tracks were written by George. The exceptions were I’d Have You Anytime, which George and Bob Dylan cowrote. If Not For You was the other track on All Things Must Pass. It was a cover of a Bob Dylan song. These eighteen songs were part of what became a triple album. It was recorded in three top studios and featured an all-star cast.

Recording of All Things Must Pass began on 26th May 1970 and finished in late October 1970. Three studios were used. This included Abbey Road Studios, Trident Studios and Apple Studios. During that five month period, the great and good of music played a walk on part on All Things Must Pass.

During the recording sessions for All Things Must Pass, Derek and The Dominos featured. Jim Gordon played drums, Carl Radle bass and Eric Clapton acoustic and electric guitars. Ex-Beatle Ringo Starr played drums. Billy Preston who played with both The Beatles and Rolling Stones played piano and organ. Another Beatles’ confident, Klaus Voormann, played guitar and bass. Ginger Baker of Blind Faith played drums. Dave Mason of Traffic played electric and acoustic guitars and Phil Collins of Genesis percussion. Alan White of Yes added drums. These big names were joined by some top session players.

This included Bobby Whitlock. He was formerly a member of Delaney and Bonnie, and in 1970, session musician to the stars. Bobby played piano, organ, tubular bells and harmonium. Horns came courtesy of saxophonist Bobby Keys and trumpeter and trombonist Jim Price and pedal steel Pete Drake. Playing acoustic guitar were Pete Ham, Tom Evans and Joey Molland. Pianists included Tony Ashton and Gary Brooker. Joining this crack band of session players was Beatles’ roadie Mal Evans, who played percussion. He played a small part in what would become the most successful album of George Harrison’s career, All Things Must Pass.

With All Things Must Pass completed, it was scheduled to be released on 27th October 1970. Before then, the music critics passed judgment on All Things Must Pass. There was not one dissenting voice. Critics hailed All Things Must Pass as a classic. Critical acclaim accompanied All Things Must Pass. It was, without doubt, the greatest album of George’s three album solo career. It was a coming of age for George Harrison.

It was as if George Harrison had been freed from the shackles that were The Beatles. He was being held back by the Lennon-McCartney axis. They dictated what songs featured on albums. George’s songs were rejected out of hand. He was about to have the last laugh though.

The cover of All Things Must Pass saw George Harrison surrounded by four comedic looking gnomes. They were meant to represent The Beatles. Beatles watchers saw this as George commenting on his removal from The Beatles. No longer was he a Beatle. After all these years as a Beatle, George was had his own identity back. Even better, he was about to release a classic album All Things Must Pass.

27th October 1970 was D-Day for George Harrison. That was the day All Things Must Pass was released as a triple album. The first four sides featured the main part of All Things Must Pass. It was produced by George and Phil Spector. On sides five and six, was Apple Jam. It featured five jams. The lavish triple album that was All Things Must Pass, was about to become one of the most successful solo albums by a former Beatle.

The lead single released from All Things Must Pass during 1970 was a double A-Side. This was My Sweet Lord/Isn’t It A Pity. It reached number one in America, Australia, Britain, Canada, Germany, Holland, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. Having sold one million copies in America, My Sweet Lord was certified gold. It was then nominated for  a Grammy Award. There was a  problem though.

Anyone familiar with Ronnie Mack’s He’s So Fine, will immediately spot similarities between the two songs. So did Bright Tunes Music. They filed a write against George’s Harrisongs Music on 10th February 1971. Nearly five years later, on 23rd February 1976, the case was settled. It was held that George Harrison “subconsciously copied” He’s So Fine. Damages totalled $1,599,987, which was deemed 75% of the North American royalties. For George, the case caused him huge problems. He became so paranoid about subconsciously copying some else’s work, that he could hardly write. However, back in 1970, that wasn’t the case.

On the release of All Things Must Pass on 27th October 1970, it reached number one in America, Australia, Britain, Canada, Holland, Norway and Sweden. All Things Must Pass also reached number four in Japan and number ten in Germany.  Given how successful All Things Must Pass was, it’s no surprise it was certified gold in Britain and Canada. In America, All Things Must Pass was certified platinum six times over. That equates to sales of six million copies of All Things Must Pass. Never again, would George Harrison reach these heights. After all, All Things Must Pass is a stonewall classic.

After the release of All Things Must Pass, no longer was George perceived as a junior partner in The Beatles. That was far from the case. He was a talented and prolific songwriter. The sixteen songs he wrote for were just the tip of a musical iceberg. For years, George had been quietly writing songs. By 1970, he had accumulated a vast body of work. Now was the time to let the record buying public hear what he was capable of on All Things Must Pass.

All Things Must Pass was George’s Magnus Opus. It’s an epic album. Lavish, epic arrangements are the perfect foil for George’s vocal. The music is both melodic and mystical. Especially when George draws inspiration from Indian music. This is part of  All Things Must Pass’ spiritual sound.

During All Things Must Pass spirituality and religion play an important part. This is apparent on My Sweet Lord. Just like other tracks on All Things Must Pass, My Sweet Lord is a mixture of rock ’n’ religion. It’s an anthemic modern day hymnal. However, there’s other influences on All Things Must Pass.

This includes The Band, Bob Dylan and of course Phil Spector. His arrangements are part of the albums lavish, grandiose sound. Phil Spector co-produced All Things Must Pass. He was yin to George’s yang. Now that George was freed from the constraints of Lennon and McCartney, Phil helped the genie escape from the bottle.

In doing so, Phil Spector helped George Harrison record an album he’d never better, All Things Must Pass. Cerebral and spiritual, beautiful, thoughtful and spiritual, the music is sometimes wistful and melancholy. Always, you’re compelled during six sides of music. For George Harrison, many thought that following up All Things Must Pass was almost impossible. 

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Living In The Material World.

After the release of All Things Must Pass, George Harrison put his career on hold. Instead, he spent much of 1971 and 1972 raising money for the refugees in the newly independent Bangladesh. One of George’s biggest, and most ambitious, fundraising projects was The Concert for Bangladesh on the 1st August 1971. 

Two concerts took place on  the 1st August 1971. At 2.30pm and 8pm, George Harrison and Friends took to the stage. These “friends” included Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Billy Preston, Ravi Shankar, Leon Russell and Badfinger. These concerts were recorded and released as a triple album.

When The Concert For Bangladesh album and film were released in America on 20th December 1971 and on 10th January 1972 in Britain, it proved to be a huge success. The album topped the charts around the world, and won a Grammy for Album of the Year. Eventually, George’s fundraising efforts raised twelve million dollars, which was sent to Bangladesh. Only after the fundraising was over, would George’s career resume.

For his fourth album, and first since 1970, George penned the eleven new tracks that became Living In The Material World. It was a highly personal album. The songs dealt with George continued struggle for spiritual enlightenment. This wasn’t easy. Especially with George being viewed as a musical “superstar.” Living in the physical world, with all its temptations made it difficult for George to reach his spiritual goals. George a deeply spiritual man, it seemed, was struggling with Living In The Material World. 

Recording of Living In The Material World began at George’s Oxfordshire home, Friar Park. In Friar Park’s guest room, George had a recording studio installed. It centred around sixteen-track tape machine. The sessions began during October 1972 and continued through to March 1973. Other sessions took place at the Apple Studios and Abbey Road Studios. This was where George’s band got to work.

When the recording of Living In The Material World, began, George had decided to use a smaller band. This included Gary Wright, Jim Keltner, John Barham, Klaus Voormann, Nicky Hopkins, Zakir Hussain and ex-Beatle Ringo Starr. They recorded the eleven tracks that became Living In The Material World. Later, in February and March 1973, overdubbing took place. Once Living In The Material World was recorded,it was scheduled for release in May and June of 1973.

Before the release of Living In The Material World, it was one of the most highly anticipated albums of 1972. No wonder. George Harrison hadn’t released an album since 1970. A taste of Living In The Material World was the single Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth). On its release it reached number four in Britain and number one in the US Billboard 100. This augured well for Living In The Material World.

When critics heard Living In The Material World, they hailed the album a pop classic. Words like cerebral, profound and spiritual were used to describe the deeply personal Living In The Material World. This critically acclaimed classic was an insight into life as an ex-Beatle. What was obvious, was that George Harrison was obviously finding it difficult reconciling his spiritual needs, with life as a music legend. His legendary status was about to grow.

Living In The Material World was released in America on 30th May 1973, and reached number one in the US Billboard 200 charts. This resulted in a gold disc for George. When Living In The Material World was released in Britain on 22nd June 1973 it reached number two. Elsewhere, Living In The Material World reached number one in Australia and Canada, and reached the top ten in Holland, Japan, Norway and Sweden. George Harrison’s star was still in the ascendancy, having released his second classic album. What next for George Harrison though? 

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Dark Horse.

The aptly titled Dark Horse was George’s fifth album. After all, George had released the most successful solo album by a former Beatle, All Things Must Pass. He’d followed this up by his second solo album Living In The Material World. So by December 1975, critics and music lovers eagerly awaited the release of Dark Horse. However, the Dark Horse album will forever by mired in controversy, due to the accompanying tour. The story begins in November 1973.

For Dark Horse, George wrote seven of the nine tracks.  He also cowrote two other tracks, including Far East Man, which George and Ron Wood wrote. George also cowrote Bye Bye Love with Felice and Boudleaux Bryant. These tracks, like much of of the music on Dark Horse is extremely honest and personal. 

This begins with Simply Shady, which opens Dark Horse. A guilt ridden George, examines his pursuit of earthly pleasures, rather than spiritual fulfilment. So Sad addresses the failure of George’s first marriage. It’s a soul-baring, autobiographical song. Maya Love is a song about illusory nature of love. George’s solo success lead to him being called the Dark Horse. After all, most people thought that John or Paul would enjoy the most successful solo career. These people had underestimated George. It Is ‘He’ (Jai Sri Krishna) was penned by George after he visited Vrindavan, in northern India, with his friend Ravi Shankar, who later, would play an important role in the Dark Horse story. 

Before that, recording of Dark Horse began in November 1973. Recording began at George’s home studio at Friar Park, Oxfordshire. After a break the sessions resumed in April 1974. Then between August and October 1974, Dark Horse was completed. Some of the sessions took place in Los Angeles, at A&M Studios. Accompanying George was an all-star band.

For the recording of Dark Horse, some of the musicians that played on Living In The Material World  returned. Among them, were Gary Wright, Jim Keltner, Klaus Voormann, Nicky Hopkins and Beatle Ringo Starr. They were joined by Ron Wood, saxophonist Tom Scott, Roger Kellaway and Alvin Lee. Just like previous albums, Dark Horse which was released in December 1974, was produced by George.

On the 9th December 1974, Dark Horse was released in America. This coincided with George’s Dark Horse tour of North America. This was a controversial tour for two reasons. The first was, that Ravi Shankar was named as co-headliner. Given that this was the first North American tour by an ex-Beatle since 1966, this didn’t go down well. 

Audiences wanted to see George, not what many audience members regarded as a “little known” Indian musician. This was far from the truth. Ravi Shankar was a well known, and highly regarded and respected musician. He was also a good friend of George, who sadly, was struggling with laryngitis during the tour.

Due to the laryngitis, George couldn’t feature as heavily as he wanted. However, he thought this was the perfect opportunity to let audiences hear more of Ravi Shankar. This backfired on George. 

Critics, including some of the most influential music critics and cultural commentators rounded on George and his decision to allow Ravi Shankar to feature so heavily. Some of the concert reviews were scathing and the George Harrison-Ravi Shankar tour called a failure. This affected sales of Dark Horse.

Rather than judge Dark Horse on its merits, it was a case of guilt by association. What was a groundbreaking album, showcasing George’s new sound was trashed by some axe grinding, influential critics. Their view of Dark Horse was taken as gospel. Looking back, Dark Horse was an ambitious and innovative album, one that should’ve been a bigger commercial success.

Prior to the release of Dark Horse, the title-track was released as a single in America on 18th November 1974, and reached number fifteen in the US Billboard 100 charts. The second single was Ding Dong, Ding Dong, was released on the 6th of December 1974. It reached number thirty-eight in Britain and thirty-six in the US Billboard 100 charts. However, the album, Dark Horse fared better commercially.

Dark Horse was released on 9th December 1974. It reached number four on the US Billboard 200 charts. This resulted in another gold disc for George. However, in Britain, Dark Horse failed to chart. However, it was later certified silver, having sold over 50,000 copies. After Dark Horse, critics were left wondering if George’s star was no longer in the ascendancy? 

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Extra Texture (Read All About It).

The criticism of the Dark Horse tour and album had affected George badly. Returning to Friar Park, George became melancholy and wistful. Some went as far as to say he was slightly depressed. This was reflected in some of the ten songs that George wrote for Extra Texture (Read All About It). They find a melancholy George in a reflective state. Unlike other albums, Extra Texture (Read All About It) has no spiritual message. It’s quite different from George’s five previous albums, right down to where it was recorded.
Whilst George had recorded previous albums in Britain, he decided to forsake his home country for Los Angeles. This made sense. After all, most of George’s band were Americans.

While most of Dark Horse was recorded in A&M Studios, Los Angeles, some recording took place at George’s home studio, in his Friar Park mansion. Abbey Road Studios were also used. However, for much of the time A&M Studios, Los Angeles was a home from home for George as he recorded Extra Texture (Read All About It). 

LA was where many of George’s band, including Gary Wright, Jim Keltner, Klaus Voormann, Nicky Hopkins and Beatle Ringo Starr lived.  They were joined in the studio by Ron Wood, saxophonist Tom Scott, Billy Preston, Ronnie Spector and George’s wife Dhanni Harrison. They recorded Extra Texture (Read All About It), which was George Harrison’s Apple Records’ swan-song.

Ever since George was working on Dark Horse, he’d been working on founding his own record label, Dark Horse. It would release his future albums, and albums by artists George discovered or believed in. Getting a record label up and running, was taking time. However, at least this allowed him the opportunity to fulfil his obligations to Apple Records. Would however, George leave Apple Records on a high with Extra Texture (Read All About It),?

Critics didn’t think so. On its release, Extra Texture (Read All About It) was panned my critics. They called the album a series of sermons from George Harrison. These sermons they called aimless and pointless. Sometimes, there was air of pomposity about Extra Texture (Read All About It). Only Tired Of Midnight Blue and Can’t Stop Thinking About You were up to George’ usual high standards. This resulted in the critics turning on George. Rolling Stone savaged the album. Other critics followed suit. For George, Extra Texture (Read All About It) didn’t look like being the swan-song he’d hoped for.

Extra Texture (Read All About It)’s lead single was You, which was released on 12th September 1975. You reached number thirty-eight in Britain and number twenty in the US Billboard 200. Then when This Guitar (Can’t Keep from Crying) was released in America on 8th December 1975, it failed to chart. Two months later, history repeated itself, when This Guitar (Can’t Keep from Crying) was released in Britain. On its release on 6th February 1976, This Guitar (Can’t Keep from Crying) failed to chart. Had George lost his Midas touch?

Despite the scathing reviews, Extra Texture (Read All About It) was still a commercial success. It reached number sixteen in Britain and number eight in the US Billboard 200 charts. This resulted in another gold disc for George. While Extra Texture (Read All About It) wasn’t his most critically acclaimed album, it was a commercial success. This allowed George Harrison to leave Apple Records with his head held high.

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After Extra Texture (Read All About It), a new era began for George Harrison. He released his future albums on his own Dark Horse label. It was distributed by A&M Records. For George, owning his own label made commercial sense, and just as importantly, for a musical innovator, gave him much more artistic freedom.

At Apple Records, George was one of four partners in the label. In the early days of Apple Records, George was allowed the freedom to experiment. This allowed him to record Wonderwall, a groundbreaking album, that for far too long, was underrated by critics. Then when Allen Klein became The Beatles’ manager, he wasn’t keen to release Electronic Sound, George’s sophomore album. It was far too experimental, for Allen Klein’s liking. 

He had been brought in to sort out The Beatles and Apple Records’ finances. Allen Klein realised that albums like Electronic Sound, important and innovative they may be, weren’t going to be million sellers. However, Electronic Sound was released and for his third album, George Harrison released the most successful album by a former Beatle, All Things Must Pass.

Of all the albums George Harrison recorded, All Things Must Pass is his Magnus Opus. Featuring his classic single My Sweet Lord, All Things Must Pass was a career defining album. George was on a roll. He followed All Things Must Pass with Living In The Material World. 

This was George’s second classic album. Living In The Material World showed, that, the man referred to as the Dark Horse had hidden depths. That was obvious from George’s Beatles’ days. 

He had already written If I Needed Someone, Taxman, Within You Without You, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Something, Here Comes The Sun and I Me Mine. It was obvious to most people that George was a talented songwriter.  Except it seemed two of his friends and bandmates.

The only people who it seemed, couldn’t see that George Harrison was indeed a talented songwriter, were Lennon and McCartney.  Time after time, they rejected George’s songs. This must have been disheartening. Especially as he watched some of Lennon and McCartney’s worst songs, including  Dig A Pony, Sun King, Polythene Pam, Revolution 9, Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey and Don’t Bother Me make their way onto Beatles’ albums. Eventually, George Harrison tired of having his songs rejected by Lennon and McCartney. So he decided to stockpile these songs for his solo career.

By 1974, George was about to release Dark Horse. This was a controversial album. After two albums where seemingly, George could do no wrong, the critics turned on George. Partly, the scathing reviews were down to give Ravi Shankar equal billing. When George was struck down with laryngitis, Ravi Shankar played a bigger role in the tour. This didn’t please some high profile critics. They turned on George, giving both the Dark Horse tour and album scathing reviews. This affected sales of Dark Horse.

Although, Dark Horse was a success in America, back in Britain, the album flopped. No longer was the Dark Horse enjoying the same commercial success as he had. To make matters worse, his sixth album Extra Texture (Read All About It) was also panned by critics. However, the difference was, it was a bigger success in Britain and America. For George Harrison, this was a successful, if not critically acclaimed end to The Apple Years.

After six albums for Apple Records it was the end of an era for George Harrison. The Dark Horse had founded his own label, and was about to embark upon a new chapter in his career. However, the music he had released during the Apple Years, was some of the best, most successful and innovative to be released by a former Beatle.

George Harrison’s career began with his two mist overlooked albums, Wonderwall and Electronic Sound. Both albums are truly groundbreaking, and feature music that was way ahead of its time. They’re two of the reasons why George Harrison was, and will always be remembered as a musical pioneer. However, there’s more to The Apple Years than two albums. 

During The Apple Years released George Harrison’s two classic album All Things Must Pass and Living In The Material World.  Bothwere career defining albums, that set the bar high for the remainder of George Harrison’s Apple Years.

After this, George Harrison released just two further albums for Apple Records, Dark Horse and Extra Texture (Read All About It). It brought to an end George Harrison’s Apple Years. Now, forty-one years after George Harrison left Apple Records, the six solo albums he released are a reminder of the early part of George Harrison’s illustrious solo career. For many, the six albums  George Harrison released for Apple Records represent the former Beatle at his creative zenith.  

During that period,  George Harrison released some of the  most innovative, critically acclaimed and commercially successful solo albums by any of the former Beatles. Alas,  after the Apple Years, never again, would  George Harrison reach the same heights.

At least George Harrison enjoyed the satisfaction that during much of Apple Years, that he managed to outshine the rest of the Fab Four in terms of innovation, critical acclaim and commercial success. The man the rest of The Beatles called the Dark Horse, had the last laugh during the Apple Years.

GEORGE HARRISON-THE APPLE YEARS.

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DONNIE AND JOE EMERSON- STILL DREAMING?

DONNIE AND JOE EMERSON-STILL DREAMING?

All parents want the best for their children. That has been the case since time immemorial. Parents want their children to have what they never had. So when children are young, they lavish them with the best in clothes and toys. As the children get that bit older, they’re given the best bikes, game’s consoles and sport’s equipment. By the time the children enter their teenage years, they’re dressed in designer clothes, have the best in laptops and iPods. Still, the parents are determined that their child should enjoy the finest things in life. However, some parents take this way too far. This was the case with Donnie and Joe Emerson’s parents. 

Back in 1979, Donnie and Joe Emerson’s parents spent $100,000 buying equipment for their two son’s home studio. That wasn’t enough. Donnie and Joe weren’t going to settle for second best. Not when it came to the equipment for their nascent studio. The synths, drum machines and eight-track recorders available were good, but not good enough for Donnie and Joe. They had their limitations.

This had been proved a couple of years earlier, when Donnie and Joe Emerson recorded and released their debut single. It was a Donnie Emerson composition Take It. On the flip-side was another song penned by Donnie, Thoughts In My Mind. These two songs weren’t recorded as Donnie and Joe Emerson, but as Don, Joe and Eldon. Once the single was recorded it was ready for release.

Donnie and Joe Emerson had two options. They could shop Take It to various record label, in the hope that one might take a chance on the single. The label would have the budget and expertise the promote Take It. There was another option, release Take It as a private pressing. This is what the happened to Take It.

Take It was released on the family record label Enterprise and Co. When the single was released in 1977, Take It sunk without trace. Surely, the Emerson family had learnt a lesson from the commercial failure of Take It? Or had they?

Two years later, in 1979, Donnie and Joe Emerson realised that their home studio wasn’t without its limitations. They needed better equipment. Especially if they were going to record their debut album.

So, Donnie and Joe’s parents made one of the biggest decisions of their life, and mortgaged the 1,600 acre family farm in Fruitland, Washington. All this was so Donnie and Joe could follow their dreams. They went out and bought the very best musical equipment money could buy. This included was much better than the synths, drum machines and eight-track recorder in their original studio. By comparison, this was state of the art. It was the perfect environment for Donnie and Joe Emerson to record their debut album.

For their debut album, Donnie and Joe had written three tacks together, Good Time, Feels Like The Sun and Don’t Go Lovin’ Nobody Else. The rest of the album was written by Donnie. Similarly, Donnie played a bigger part in the recording of the album.

At the Emerson family’s new, state of the art studio, Joe Emerson played drums and added harmonies. Donnie played bass, acoustic, rhythm and lead guitar, synths and added lead vocals. He also took charge of production and mixing the album. Once the eight tracks were recorded, the album became Dreamin’ Wild. This was almost ironic. 

After all, the Emerson brothers had been living the dream. In doing so, they’d spent a fortune, their parent’s fortune. The Emerson’s had spent $100,000 and mortgaged their future. Dreamin’ Wild had to sell well. It had to be a huge hit.

Having released their debut single as a private pressing, surely the Emerson family would try and interest record companies in Dreamin’ Wild? They had the budget and experience to promote the album. This would’ve been in Donnie and Joe Emerson’s best interests. However, the Emerson family decided to release the album privately. This wasn’t unusual. 

All across America, private pressings were being released. They varied in quality. Many were little more than vanity releases. Not Dreamin’ Wild.

It showcased two talented singers, songwriters and musicians. Dreamin’ Wild wasn’t just a case of wealthy parents indulging their son’s musical fantasies. No. Far from it. Donnie and Joe’s fusion of soft rock, funk and soul had potential. The Emerson brothers could’ve enjoyed a successful career. Especially, if they’d signed to a major label. They would’ve guided Donnie and Joe’s career. That would’ve made sense. So would bring in an experienced management team to guide Donnie and Joe’s career. Sadly, that didn’t happen.

Instead, Dreamin’ Wild was released on the Emerson family’s Enterprise and Co. label. Its only prior release had been Donnie and Joe’s 1977 single Take It, and it had sunk without trace. Sadly, when Dreamin’ Wild was released in 1979, lighting struck twice. Just like Take It, Dreamin’ Wild it sunk without trace. The Emerson family’s gamble hadn’t paid off. 

They had bet the bank on their talented sons. Not only were they $100,000 lighter, but there was a mortgage on their 1,600 acre farm. Dreamin’ Wild must be the most expensive private pressing ever. 

The copies of Dreamin’ Wild that had found their way into record record shops, soon found its way into the Dollar bin. They were just the latest of thousands of private pressing that were released each year. Many were vanity releases, that deserved to find their way into the remainder piles and Dollar bins. Not Dreamin’ Wild. It was a cut above most private pressings. Maybe if the Emerson brothers had belatedly shopped the album to a record company, they might have taken a chance on it. However, by then, it was too late.

Following the commercial failure of Dreamin’ Wild, Joe decided to concentrate on the family farm. For Joe the dream was over. Reality seemed to have hit home. Maybe Joe realised that they were never going to enjoy commercial success and critical acclaim by releasing private presses? Things might have been different if they had been signed to a record company. So Joe decided to concentrate on helping run the facility farm, while  music would become a hobby, something he did to relax. Donnie wasn’t willing to give up on his dream.

Still, Donnie believed he could make a career out of music. Maybe even with his brother? So while Donnie continued to chase his musical dream, he wrote and recorded with Joe when his brother had some spare time.

Over the next two and a half years, they wrote and recorded seventy songs. Not only were the Emerson brothers prolific, but the quality was consistent. What differed was style. They recorded everything from FM rock, power pop, and new wave. That was part of the problem.

The Emerson brothers continually flitted between musical genres. They couldn’t be marketed as pop, rock or new wave artists.  This would’ve made it difficult for a record company to market the Emerson brothers. Their versatility had, in fact backfired. They would’ve been better advised to concentrate on one particular genre. However, that never happened, as the Emerson brothers didn’t seem interested in working with a record company. Instead, it seemed, they wanted to do things on their terms. That was all very well, but had already proved expensive. Despite this, Donnie never gave up his musical dream.

Throughout his life, music has been a constant. It was his passion, and how he once hoped to make his living. Sadly, Donnie Emerson never made the commercial breakthrough, and was never able to make a living out of music. However, at least he had the opportunity to follow his dreams. His parents made sure of that.

They spent $100,000 buying equipment for their two son’s home studio. That wasn’t enough. Donnie and Joe weren’t going to settle for second best. Not when it came to the equipment for their nascent studio. The synths, drum machines and eight-track recorders available were good, but not good enough for Donnie and Joe. They had their limitations. So, their parents mortgaged the 1,600 acre family farm in Fruitland, Washington. All this was so Donnie and Joe could follow their dreams. Sadly, this gamble didn’t pay off. 

This wasn’t because Donnie and Joe lacked talent. Far from it. Instead, it was a case of making a series of bad decisions. The first was spending a small fortune on a home studio for two teenage boys. That was indulging two boy’s dreams. In doing so, the Emerson family risked everything. Their second mistake was not trying to get a record company interested in Dreamin’ Wild. Maybe then, Dreamin’ Wild would’ve become a commercial success. By releasing Dreamin’ Wild on their own label, the Emerson family weren’t able to promote the album sufficiently. So, it’s no surprise that Dreamin’ Wild sunk without trace. That’s a great shame.

The Emerson brother’s were both talented singers, songwriters and musicians. Joe cowrote three tracks, played drums and added occasional harmonies. Donnie wrote the rest of Dreamin’ Wild; played most of the instruments and sang the lead vocals. He also mixed and produced the album. Dreamin’ Wild was very much his baby. 

It seems that Donnie was the driving force behind the Emerson brothers musical partnership. Maybe music played a different part in the two brothers’ lives? For Joe Emerson, maybe music was a hobby and if anything came of it, that was an added bonus. By comparison, Donnie Emerson’s life seemed to revolve around music. He was determined to make a career out of music, no matter what. This included letting his parents spent $100,000 and mortgage their farm to pay for a new studio. This allowed Donnie and Joe Emerson to record their debut album Dreamin’ Wild. At last, Donnie Emerson was living the dream, and when their debut was released was still dreaming. Alas, it was ultimately all for nothing. 

The dream soon became a nightmare when the album Dreamin’ Wild failed commercially. Despite this, Donnie Emerson continued to dream, and who knows, maybe even today, is still dreamin’ of making a career as a music, like he was when he released Dreamin’ Wild.

DONNIE AND JOE EMERSON- STILL DREAMING?

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BUILDING INSTRUMENT-KEM SOM KAN Å LEVE.

BUILDING INSTRUMENT-KEM SOM KAN Å LEVE.

Just over two years have passed since Norwegian trio Building Instrument released their eponymous debut album in March 2014. The album was released to widespread critical acclaim, and great things were forecast for Building Instrument. Since then, Building Instrument have been working on their much  anticipated sophomore album, Kem Som Kan Å Leve. 

After nearly two years, Kem Som Kan Å Leve is completed, and will be released on Hubro Music, on the 2nd of September 2016. Kem Som Kan Å Leve marks a welcome return from the Nordic sonic explorers, Building Instrument. Their story began eight years ago.

It was back in 2008, that Building Instrument was formed by Mari Kvien Brunvoll, Øyvind Hegg-Lunde and Åsmund Weltzien. Originally, the three members of Building Instrument planned to make electronic music. That was their raison d’être…albeit briefly. Before long, Building Instrument decided to turn their back on electronic music. 

After a musical rethink, Building Instrument settled on a very different sound. This time, they decided to make acoustic music, which would allow Building Instrument to improvise and innovate. Having made the decision to change direction, Building Instrument began to practise, honing and shaping their new sound. Gradually, their own unique sound began to take shape. It is best described as genre-melting, with Building Instrument drawing inspiration from various musical genres and influences. Once they had honed their unique sound, Building Instrument began to play live.

Each night Building Instrument took to the stage, they took the audience on a magical, musical, mystery tour. One minute Building Instrument’s music is understated, then the next it’s playful. The Building Instrument throw a curveball, and change direction. The next track is totally different, with Building Instrument losing their earlier self restraint, becoming bold as they kick out the jams. As a result, Building Instrument’s music is always innovative, inventive and interesting. Other times, glorious rhythms and melodic music assailed the audience, who were enthralled by veered between emotive and ethereal to compelling and dramatic. Other times, the music was adventurous, bold and always, innovative. However, that wasn’t surprising given Building Instrument’s multi-talented lineup.

Building Instrument’s vocalist is Mari Kvien Brunvoll, who also takes charge of an eclectic and interesting selection of instruments. This includes the zither, percussion, kazoo and sampler. Mari Kvien Brunvoll released her eponymous debut album in 2012. She has also worked with many artists during her carer. This includes her collaboration with Stein Urheim on their 2013 album Daydream Twin. It was nominated for a Spellemannprisen in the Open Category in 2013. However, Mari Kvien Brunvoll isn’t the only experienced musician in Building Instrument.

So is drummer and percussionist Øyvind Hegg-Lunde. He has been a member of several groups, including Crab Is Crap, the Erlend Apneseth Trio, Glow, Klangkameratane, Strings and Timpani and The Sweetest Trill. The final member of Building Instrument is Åsmund Weltzien, who plays synths, melodica and adds electronics and melodica. Together, the three multitalented members of Building Instrument proved a formidable force.

Having laboured long and hard to establish a reputation as a live band, Building Instrument were now familiar faces on Norway’s thriving and vibrant music scene. By then, Building Instrument’s concerts were receiving rave reviews. In the increasingly competitive Norwegian music scene, Building Instrument were regarded as rising stars. Their music was adventurous, inventive, innovative and totally unique. They had forged and honed their own style over the last few years. During this period, they’d worked away, quietly recording their eponymous debut album.

Building Instrument.

In March 2014, Building Instrument was released to critical acclaim. The music was beautiful, cinematic, ethereal, innovative and inventive album of genre-melting music, where Building Instrument push musical boundaries to their limits, and sometimes, beyond It was a captivating album, and one that sonically and stylistically, defied description.

Building Instrument combined elements of ambient, avant-garde, electronica, experimental, folk, free jazz, pop, and rock. There’s even a nod to sixties soundtracks and jazz. At the heart of Building Instrument’s sound, was the ethereal beauty of Mari Kvien Brunvoll’s vocal. The result was an album where Building Instrument certainly fulfilled their potential, and in doing so, whetted the listener’s appetite for the followup.

Given it had taken Building Instrument six years to release their eponymous debut album, the question was, how long would it take them to release their sophomore album? Building Instrument it turned out, took just over two years to record Kem Som Kan Å Leve, which by todays, standards, isn’t long. Kem Som Kan Å Leve is one of the most anticipated albums of 2016, and finds Building Instrument heading out on another magical musical mystery tour.

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Kem Som Kan Å Leve.

Having released their eponymous debut album, Building Instrument’s thoughts turned to the followup. It took the best part of two years to complete six tracks that became Kem Som Kan Å Leve. The music to the six tracks was composed by Building Instrument, while vocalist Mari Kvien Brunvoll wrote the lyrics and is responsible for the melodies. However, the inspiration for some of Kem Som Kan Å Leve came from the artwork of Kurt Schwitters.

During the two year period that Building Instrument were writing and recording Kem Som Kan Å Leve, the trio were commissioned to write music that was inspired by Kurt Schwitters’ artwork. There was a reason for this.

In September 2015, a new, and permanent exhibition of Kurt Schwitters’ artwork was being opened at the Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, at Høvikodde, which is on the outskirts of Oslo. To celebrate the opening of the exhibition, a concert had been arranged. This was part of one of the most important events in Oslo arts calendar, the Ultima Oslo Contemporary Music Festival. The week that the exhibition of Kurt Schwitters’ was opened, Building Instrument would record Kem Som Kan Å Leve at the Studio, a hall in the Henie Onstad Kunstsenter. This was fitting.

Kurt Schwitter has obviously influenced Building Instrument. He was a German artist, who was born in 1887. Just like the members of Building Instrument, he was truly multitalented. Not only was Kurt Schwitter a painter, but a collage artist, sound poet and installation artist. However, during the thirties, Kurt Schwitter had to flea from the Nazis, and for a while, lived in exile in Hjertøya, in the municipality of Molde. This was a huge coincidence, as Molde just happened to be where Mari Kvien Brunvoll called home.

Maybe Mari Kvien Brunvoll had visited the Merzbau building that Kurt Schwitter had built in the stone cabin he rented? Whether she has, it certainly seems like Kurt Schwitter’s work has influenced Building Instrument. 

On Kem Som Kan Å Leve, Mari Kvien Brunvoll delivers some of the lyrics using the Molde dialect. Other lyrics she sings using

an invented language. This was something she did on Building Instrument’s eponymous debut album. It’s also one of Liz Fraser’s trademarks when she was the Cocteau Twins’ vocalist. However, in the case of Building Instrument, they felt that it brought them closer to Kurt Schwitter.

A member of Building Instrument remarked: “working with this commissioned piece enabled us to go further in the direction of expanding or erasing the meaning of language, just as Schwitters did with his sound poetry.” It also was another example of Building Instrument’s determination to innovate, and push musical boundaries. That was certainly the case when Building Instrument recorded Kem Som Kan Å Leve.

Recording of Kem Som Kan Å Leve took place at The Studio, a hall in the Henie Onstad Kunstsenter. The session began on 11th September, with Jørgen Træen recording and co-producing the album with Building Instrument. Kem Som Kan Å Leve was recorded live. There was no overdubbing. This is unusual, as most groups are repair any ‘mistakes.’ However, when Building Instrument began recording Kem Som Kan Å Leve it was just like one of their live shows, as they improvised and headed in unexpected directions. To do this, Building Instrument deployed an array of eclectic instruments and effects.

Vocalist Mari Kvien Brunvoll played percussion, zither, kazoo and took charge of live sampling and effects. Åsmund Weltzien played synths and added electronics. Drummer and percussionist Øyvind Hegg-Lunde was responsible for the album’s heartbeat. After four days of recording, Kem Som Kan Å Leve was completed on 14th September 2015. Building Instrument had played their part.

Now the album could be mixed and mastered. The process began in January 2016. Four of the tracks were mixed at Grotten Studion by Bergen Kjøtt. He then mixed Like God å Leve and Taket at Broen Studio. However, when Kem Som Kan Å Leve was to be mastered, Bergen Kjøtt returned to Grotten Studion. Once the mastering was completed in February 2016, Building Instrument’s much-anticipated sophomore album was almost ready for release.

Nearly seven months later, and Kem Som Kan Å Leve will be released by Hubro Music on the 2nd of September 2016. Kem Som Kan Å Leve marks the welcome return from Building Instrument, who now are regarded as one of the most exciting and innovative Norwegian bands. They provide you with six compelling reasons why on Kem Som Kan Å Leve.

Opening Kem Som Kan Å Leve is Collage. The introduction is understated, dreamy and melodic. Soon, though, percussion, drums and a spoken word sample are added. There’s almost a hip hop influence. That’s until a church organ meanders in. It replaces the sample, provides a contrast to the mesmeric percussion and drums. Adding another contrast is Mari Kvien Brunvoll’s dreamy vocal. It almost floats across the arrangement, reminiscent of Liz Fraser. Then when the vocal drops out, washes of organ increases in volume and combines with the zither. Again, contrasts abound. Later, when the vocal returns, the volume of the organ decreases leaving space for Mari Kvien Brunvoll. Her ethereal vocal is panned right, while the organ, drums and percussion accompany her. Together, they create a dreamy, ethereal and melodic Collage that’s a tantalising taste of what’s to come from Building Instrument. 

Sound effects are panned right on Fall, while keyboards, drums and then the zither are added. They may sound like unlikely bedfellows, but provide interesting contrasts and work well together. Suddenly, the drum drops out and Mari Kvien Brunvoll delivers a heartfelt vocal. She’s just accompanied by the zither, before the drums return. Soon, though, the vocal drops out, and the zither chimes, while the pitter patter of drums are joined by keyboards and percussion. Then when the vocal returns, Mari Kvien Brunvoll’s plaintive cry is full of emotion, before later becoming impassioned and sincere. All the time, instruments are swapped in and out, the arrangement veering between understated to a much fuller sound. This provides the perfect accompaniment to the vocal, on what’s a beautiful and captivating track, full of subtleties, surprises and nuances.

Rett Ned meanders into being, the understated arrangement crackling, reminiscent of old, worn vinyl. Meanwhile, Mari Kvien Brunvoll tenderly, before her vocal grows in power. It’s cocooned in effects, giving it a dreamy quality. Accompanying the vocal are an organ and crisp drums. Still, Mari Kvien Brunvoll’s vocal is bather in effects as it floats across the arrangement. When the vocal drops out, drums, percussion, keyboards and the zither combine. Later, when the vocal returns, it’s dubby, dreamy and lysergic. The arrangement is slow, meandering and multilayered. Contrasts abound, as elements of ambient, avant-garde, dub, electronica, experimental and indie pop are combined. Together they create a lysergic and dreamy modern day chill out track.

There’s almost an industrial influence as Farge Tida Sakte unfolds. There’s also a Faustian influence as washes of synths add an otherworldly sound. Soon, drums crack, scamper and skip across the arrangement. Meanwhile, the zither is added to this genre-melting musical feast. So is Mari Kvien Brunvoll’s vocal. Again, it’s bathed in effects, while effects are added to parts of the arrangement. Only the drums and zither are left untouched. Later, the sing song vocal grows in power and emotion, as it floats across the arrangement. That’s until the arrangement is stripped bare, and begins to rebuild. When it does, the vocal, drums, zither and kazoo combine. This results in an arrangement that’s variously hypnotic, ruminative and spacious as it floats and meanders along. It washes over the listener who bathes in its ethereal beauty.

Washes of synths meander and float across the arrangement to Like God å Leve. Soon, clip clop percussion and a bass join Mari Kvien Brunvoll’s impassioned, powerful vocal. Later, the vocal is swathed in effects becoming dreamy. That is only briefly. The earlier power returns, as synths, percussion, drums and a bass combine. Playing an important part in the arrangement are the synths. They add a cinematic sound, while Mari scats. Then when her vocal drops, out washes and waves of gently cascading synths play an important part in this dreamy, ethereal and hypnotic soundscape.

All too soon, Kem Som Kan Å Leve is over, as Taket closes the album. Synths, keyboards and subtle drums provide a backdrop for Mari Kvien Brunvoll’s cooing, ethereal vocal. It quivers, shivers and shimmers, before the improvised vocal gives way to an impassioned, emotive pleading vocal. By then, the arrangement features just occasional drums. Given its quality, Mari’s vocal deserves to take centre-stage. Later, keyboards synths and drums accompany Mari, as she revisits her earlier cooing, ethereal vocal. When it drops out, the baton passes to the keyboards, and they continue to create an ethereal backdrop, which provides a poignant ending to Taket and indeed, Kem Som Kan Å Leve.

Just over two years after the release of their critically acclaimed, eponymous debut album, Building Instrument return with Kem Som Kan Å Leve. It’s the much anticipated sophomore album from Building Instrument. Not only has Kem Som Kan Å Leve has lived up to the expectation, but surpassed it. Quite simply, Kem Som Kan Å Leve is one of the best albums of 2016.

Building Instrument have used their 2014 eponymous debut album as a building block, and have gone much further on Kem Som Kan Å Leve. They continue create inventive and innovate music, that’s ambitious and adventurous. That music is also beautiful, dreamy, ethereal, hypnotic and melodic. Partly, that is because of Mari Kvien Brunvoll’s vocal. She switches between the Molde dialect, and an invented language that only she can understand. That doesn’t matter.

Mari Kvien Brunvoll’s vocal is similar to Liz Fraser when she was with the Cocteau Twins. It has a similar calming, dreamy and ethereal quality. That ethereal beauty plays a huge part in the sound and success of Kem Som Kan Å Leve. However, Mari’s vocal can’t exist in isolation.

So the rest of Building Instrument, plus Mari Kvien Brunvoll combine to create the perfect accompaniment to the vocals. Synths, crisp drums, a myriad of percussion, the unmistakable sound of the zither and of course, an array of samples and effects. These effects are used effectively throughout Kem Som Kan Å Leve. Sometimes, it’s the vocal that’s bathed in effects; while other times, it’s parts of the arrangement. Each time, it proves hugely effective in this career-defining, genre-melting album.

Just like on their eponymous debut album, Building Instrument combine disparate musical genres. Elements of ambient, avant-garde, electronic, experimental, folk, indie pop, improv, industrial and jazz. It’s a captivating fusion of musical genres and influences. These influences include Kurt Schwitter a painter, but a collage artist, sound poet and installation artist.

On Kem Som Kan Å Leve, Building Instrument followed in the footsteps of Kurt Schwitter. Building Instrument: “go further in the direction of expanding or erasing the meaning of language, just as Schwitters did with his sound poetry.” This was an ambitious project, but the results are fascinating and captivating. They can be heard on Kem Som Kan Å Leve, which finds Norwegian sonic explorers at their inventive and innovative best. Kem Som Kan Å Leve is Building Instrument’s musical Magnus Opus, which features six soundscapes that are ambitious and adventurous, but also beautiful, dreamy, ethereal, hypnotic and melodic.

BUILDING INSTRUMENT-KEM SOM KAN Å LEVE.

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ARTHUR BLYTHE-LENNOX AVENUE BREAKDOWN, IN THE TRADITION, ILLUSIONS AND BLYTHE SPIRIT.

ARTHUR BLYTHE-LENNOX AVENUE BREAKDOWN, IN THE TRADITION, ILLUSIONS AND BLYTHE SPIRIT.

Prodigy is an often overused word. It’s used to describe young children who show a modicum of talent in sport and music. Sadly, and all too often, those that are described as a prodigy never fulfil their supposed potential. The young ball player ends up parking cars, and the prodigious violinist pumping gas. However, there are some prodigies who fulfil their potential, including alto saxophonist Arthur Blythe.

He was born in Los Angeles on July 5th 1940. When he was nine, Arthur Blythe discovered the alto saxophone. Soon, he was taking lessons with a family friend, and saxophonist Junior Foster. He taught Arthur Blythe, and watched as he progressed from elementary school orchestra to the marching band. Within a few years, Arthur Blythe’s life would change, when he discovered jazz in his mid-teens. This was a game-changer.

Previously, Arthur Blythe loved R&B. That was his music. Then he discovered jazz. Arthur Blythe was then taught by Kirkland Bradford, who had played in Jimmie Lunceford’s swing band. However, it wasn’t swing that Arthur Blythe gravitated towards. 

Instead, it was Thelonius Monk and then John Coltrane. It was only later, that Arthur Blythe discovered one of the greatest saxophonists, Charlie Parker. By then, Arthur Blythe lived and breathed jazz. He had discovered his purpose in life, and that was playing jazz saxophone.

While this is usually a dream for most young musicians, Arthur Blythe lived this dream; first as sideman and then as a solo artist. His solo career began in 1977, when Arthur Blythe signed to India Navigation. By 1978, Arthur Blythe had signed to a major Columbia, where he released Lenox Avenue Breakdown, In the Tradition, Illusions and Blythe Spirit. They have recently been reissued by BGO Records on a two disc set, and are the perfect introduction to Arthur Blythe. However, in the mid-sixties, Arthur Blythe was still finding has way as a musician.

By the mid-sixties, Arthur Blythe went in search of like-minded musicians. He found them at The Underground Musicians and Artists Association, which had been founded by pianist and composer Horace Tapscott. This was the perfect environment for an up-and-coming musician. Not only was Arthur Blythe  surrounded by innovative and influential musicians, but it lead to him making his recording debut.

Horace Tapscott was looking for someone to play alto saxophone on his 1969 debut album and first album as bandleader, The Giant Is Awakened.Having gotten to know Arthur Blythe over the last few years, his friend from the Underground Musicians and Artists Association got the call. He was officially a member of the Horace Tapscott Quintet.

The Giant Is Awakened.

With Arthur Blythe onboard, the Horace Tapscott Quintet headed to the studio to meet producer Bob Thiele. He also owned Flying Dutchman Productions, the label the Quintet were signed to. It was an exciting time for everyone involved. Especially Arthur Blythe, who was making his recording debut; and Horace Tapscott who thought he was going to allowed to help mix the album. Before that, the album had to be recorde

Recording took place between the 1st and 3rd of April 1969. Over the three days, the Quintet recorded four Horace Tapscott compositions with producer Bob Thiele. The veteran producer had worked with some of the biggest names in jazz, and was the perfect person to coax and cajole the best performance from the nascent Quintet. He certainly brought out the best in Arthur Blythe, whose performances were being committed to tape for the first time. Once the sessions were over, it should’ve been a time to celebrate.

Alas, the celebrations were cut short when it became clear that Horace Tapscott wasn’t going to be involved in mixing The Giant Is Awakened. Horace Tapscott wasn’t pleased. For Horace Tapscott who was already suspicious of the music industry, this was enough for him to turn his back on the recording industry for ten years. This was ironic.

When The Giant Is Awakened was released later in 1969, it was to widespread critical acclaim. Sadly the Horace Tapscott Quintet would never released another album. However, Arthur Blythe had enjoyed recording The Giant Is Awakened, and was keen to repeat the experience. 

Three years later, in 1972, Arthur Blythe returned to the studio. This time, it was with Julius Hemphill on his album Coon Bid’ness. It was an ambitious and innovative album where avant-garde and jazz combine. When it was released later in 1972, it was to critical acclaim. For the second time, Arthur Blythe had played an important part in the success of an album.

In 1974, two became three when Arthur Blythe joined Azar Lawrence for the recording of what was, a truly groundbreaking album of spiritual jazz, Bridge Into The New Age. Arthur Blythe didn’t seem of place alongside Azar Lawrence, Woody Shaw and Hadley Caliman. Despite this, Arthur Blythe’s career took an unexpected twist.

Just like many jazz musicians, Arthur Blythe had headed to New York, which was then, regarded as the American jazz capital.By the mix-seventies, was struggling to make a career out of music. Competition was fierce, and Arthur Blythe had no option but to take a job as a security guard. This was only temporary. Fortunately, he was soon hired by avant-garde vocalist Lean Thomas.

He was establishing a reputation as a leading light of avant-garde scene. Leon Thomas had also recently worked with a man from Arthur Blythe’s past, Bob Thiele. Their paths would cross again. That was in the future. Arthur Blythe was part of Leon Thomas’ band, and that was where he was ‘spotted’ by one of the biggest names in jazz, Chico Hamilton.

He played on Chico Hamilton’s 1975 album for Blue Note, Peregrinations, and the 1976 followup Chico Hamilton and The Players. Right through to 1977, Arthur Blythe played alongside Chico Hamilton. However, by 1977, his talents were in demand.

In 1976, Gil Evans Orchestra were looking for an alto saxophonist. Arthur Blythe answered the call, and would spend several years working with the Gil Evans Orchestra. When he was neither working with Chico Hamilton nor the Gil Evans Orchestra, worked with a variety of jazz musicians.

This included recording an album with Woody Shaw in 1977, This was The Iron Men, which featured Anthony Braxton. However, The Iron Men wasn’t released until 1980. By then, Arthur Blythe had embarked upon a solo career.

The Grip.

Arthur Blythe solo career began in early 1977, when having signed to the indie label India Navigation, he recorded his debut album The Grip on February 26, 1977. Unlike most debut albums, The Grip was a live album which was recorded at the Brook, in New York.

The Grip was an ambitious and adventurous album of free jazz. That was no surprise, as Arthur Blythe had put together a band that featured some of the most creative, free spirits on the New York jazz scene. Drummer Steve Reid provided the heartbeat, while Bob Stewart on tuba, trumpeter Ahmed Abdullah, cellist Abdul Wadud and percussionist Muhamad Abdullah joined Arthur Blythe. They were responsible for a debut album that won over critics.

When The Grip was released later in 1977, praise and plaudits accompanied the release of a truly groundbreaking album. Arthur Blythe’s band went further than any of his contemporaries. Critics were enthralled by such ambitious and adventurous album. What was all the more remarkable was that it was a live album. There were no second chances. That was the case with the other live album recorded on 26th February 1977.

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Metamorphosis.

The same night that The Grip was recorded at The Brook, the tapes were left running and a second live album was recorded, Metamorphosis. It was also released later in 1977, and just like The Grip, Metamorphosis, was an album that found favour with critics. They were impressed by Arthur Blythe’s distinctive and unique sound, as he and his band of musical free spirits took the listener on an another musical adventure. For critics and the record buyers who discovered Metamorphosis, it was a tantalising taste of what was to come from Arthur Blythe.

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Bush Baby.

Despite having recorded and released two live albums early in 1977, Arthur Blythe wasn’t willing to rest on his laurels. Instead, he featured on Synthesis’ debut album Six By Six. Then he signed a contract with the Adelphi label, and  headed into the studio in December 1977.

For his first studio album, Arthur Blythe four new compositions, They would be recorded by a trio. This featured Bob Stewart on tuba and Ahkmed Abdullah on congas. Sitting atop the arrangement was the unmistakable sound of Arthur Blythe’s alto saxophone. With the four compositions recorded, Bush Baby was released in 1978.

Before the release of Bush Baby, critics had their say on the album. Just like his two live albums, critics remarked upon Arthur Blythe’s adventurous spirit. They also remarked that already, Arthur Blythe was a versatile musician. He could seamlessly switch between playing soulfully, to playing with an unbridled intensity. Critics were won over by Bush Baby which was released in early 1978. Equally impressed by Arthur Blythe, were Columbia Records, who signed him in 1987. This was the start of a new era.

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In The Tradition.

Having signed to Columbia Records, Arthur Blythe got the opportunity to renew his acquaintance with producer Bob Thiele. He was drafted in to produce Arthur Blythe’s Columbia Records’ debut, In The Tradition.

For In The Tradition, Arthur Blythe composed Break Tune and Hip Dripper. The rest of the tracks were cover versions, which took Arthur Blythe back to his teenage years. Fats Wallers’ Jitterbug Waltz had been a favourite, when R&B was Arthur Blythe’s passion. The other songs included a cover of Duke Ellington’s In A Sentimental Mood, and Caravan, which the Duke penned with Irving Mills and Juan Tizol. However, the album closer was Naima, which was written by one of the artists who inspired Arthur Blythe, John Coltrane. These six tracks were recorded at Mediasound Studios, in New York.

At Mediasound Studios, the free spirits that played on Arthur Blythe’s first three albums were absent. Replacing them, were a rhythm section of drummer Steve McCall and bassist Fred Hopkins. Completing Arthur Blythe’s quartet were pianist Stanley Cowell. Once In The Tradition was complete, Bob Thiele didn’t make the same mistake twice.

Not only did Bob Thiele co-produce In The Tradition with Arthur Blythe, but he allowed him play a part in the mixing of the album. He must have remembered the confusion surrounding the Horace Tapscott Qunintet’s The Giant Is Awakened. So, Arthur Blythe mixed In The Tradition with Doug Epstein. Then later in 1978, Arthur Blythe’s Columbia debut was released.

Critics were in for a surprise when they heard In The Tradition. This time, there were neither sonic experiments, nor musical adventures from Arthur Blythe. Instead, as the title suggested, the album had a much more traditional sound. The quartet embraced and enjoyed this return to a more traditional sound. It allowed the quartet to showcase their considerable skills. This was something critics remarked upon, praising and lauding the standard of musicianship on display on In The Tradition.

Especially on standards like In A Sentimental Mood and Caravan. Then on Naima, Arthur Blythe pays homage to Trane. He also showcases his skill as a composer and musician on Break Tune and Hip Dripper. When In The Tradition was released later in 1979, it was to critical acclaim.

The only disappointment was that In The Tradition didn’t chart in the US Billboard 200. However, it found an audience within the jazz community, who wondered what direction Arthur Blythe was heading next?

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Lenox Avenue Breakdown.

1978 was one of the busiest years of Arthur Blythe’s career so far. Away from own his recording career, Arthur Blythe still worked as a sideman. He headed out on tour with Gil Evans, and recorded two live albums on the night of February 25th 1978. The first was Gil Evans Live at the Royal Festival Hall London, which wasn’t released until 1979. That same night, The Rest of Gil Evans Live at the Royal Festival Hall London 1978 was recorded. However, it wasn’t released until 1981. Two months later, and Arthur Blythe was back in the recording studio.

He played on two albums by Lester Bowie, The 5th Power and African Children. They were recorded between April 12th and 17th 1978. However, Arthur Blythe wasn’t finished working as sideman yet.

Arthur Blythe returned to Mediasound Studios later in 1978, with four new compositions. They would become Lenox Avenue Breakdown, which featured an expanded lineup of Arthur Blythe’s band.

This time around, Arthur Blythe was working with a septet, which featured some top jazz musicians. The rhythm section alone featured drummer Jack DeJohnette, bassist Cecil McBee and guitarist James Blood Ulmer. They were augmented by the familiar face of Bob Stewart on tuba, flautist James Newton and percussionist Guilherme Franco. Producing this all-star lineup, was a man used to big occasions, Bob Thiele. He coaxed and cajoled a masterful performance out of the septet. It was worth every ounce of effort and energy that had been expounded. After this, it was over to Arthur Blythe to mix Lenox Avenue Breakdown. Then Arthur Blythe’s Magus Opus was almost ready for release.

Before that, critics had their say on Lenox Avenue Breakdown. Critics thought the band had been together for years. However, they were a new band, and had been together just a week when Bob Thiele pressed play. He watched as the septet delivered a masterful performance on an album of innovative and influential contemporary jazz. 

Bob Stewart the longest serving member of Arthur Blythe’s band, played an important part on Lenox Avenue Breakdown. Especially on the title-track, a thirteen minute epic, where he delivered what’s considered one of the finest tuba solos in modern jazz. That’s just one reason why Lenox Avenue Breakdown is the album’s centrepiece. However, the new band all play their part on album that critics exhausted superlatives on. 

It was variously hailed a masterpiece and a modern classic. In a later review, The Penguin Guide To Jazz said: “one of the lost masterpieces of modern jazz.” Sadly, that was the case.

When Lenox Avenue Breakdown was released in 1979, the album never troubled the US Billboard 200. Even in the US Billboard Jazz Albums Charts, Lenox Avenue Breakdown reached just thirty-five. Arthur Blythe’s Magnus Opus, was indeed: “one of the lost masterpieces of modern jazz.” The next time Arthur Blythe stepped into a studio would be to play on an album by one the band that played on Lennox Avenue Breakdown.

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This was Jack DeJohnette, who was about to record a new album Special Edition. Arthur Blythe spent part of February rehearsing and recording Special Edition. However, by the time Special Edition was released in 1980, the same year Arthur Blythe released third album for Columbia. That was still to come. Arthur Blythe was working on various projects

This included recording a new album with Gil Evans in July 1979. To do this, he had to catch a flight to Rome. That was where Gil Evans was going to record his next album.

On July 29th 1979 at Trafalgar Studios, Rome Arthur Blythe was part of Gil Evans’ band that recorded the double album Parabola. However, the next time Arthur Blythe was with Synthesis.

Two years had passed since the released their debut album Six By Six. When it came time to record Segments in 1979, Arthur Blythe got the call. Having recorded the album with Synthesis, Arthur Blythe, got the opportunity to accompany another jazz great, McCoy Tyner.

Playing in McCoy Tyner’s band kept Arthur Blythe busy for the rest of 1979, and into early 1980. McCoy Tyner was about to record a double album with a quartet, and wanted Arthur Blythe to feature on it. Seven musicians would feature on the eleven tracks that became Quartets 4×4. 

Recording of Quartets began at  Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on March 3rd. This was the day that that Arthur Blythe was needed. He recorded Blues in the Minor, Stay As Sweet As You Are and It’s You Or No One, and that was his part complete. Now his thoughts could turn to his solo carer, his third Columbia album Illusions.

Illusions.

Having spent 1979 and early 1980 working as a sideman, this allowed Arthur Blythe to get over the commercial failure of Lenox Avenue Breakdown. Arthur Blythe must have known it was the best album of his career. Critics had called it a masterpiece and a classic. Now he had it all to do again, in the hope that commercial success wouldn’t continue to elude him. So Arthur Blythe returned to the studio in April 1980.

When recording Illusions began, the changes had been rung, Rather than Mediasound Studios, Illusions was being recorded at CBS Recording Studios, New York. Producing the album, was  Arthur Blythe and Jim Fishel. There was no sign of Bob Thiele, nor the septet that featured on Lenox Avenue Breakdown.

While it was still a septet that featured on Illusions, this time there were several new faces. Even two different drummer were used on the album, each playing on three tracks. This meant the rhythm section featured drummers Steve McCall and Bobby Battle, bassist Fred Hopkins and guitarist James Blood Ulmer. Tubaist Bob Stewart returned, and was joined by cellist Abdul Wadud who had featured on Arthur Blythe’s first two albums. Completing the lineup was pianist John Hicks. They spent much of April and May recording Illusions. Once it was complete, critics were in for a surprise.

On Illusions, critics realised, that Arthur Blythe had used two different quartets. Musicians were swapped in and out, depending on the track. The result was an album of innovative and inventive jazz, where Arthur Blythe are at the peak of their powers. Arthur Blythe as a composer, bandleader and musician, was at his creative zenith, as he pushed musical boundaries to their limits, and sometimes, way beyond. It was a fitting followup to Lennox Avenue Meltdown, Arthur Blythe’s Magnus Opus. However, while the music on Illusions was innovative and inventive, Columbia would’ve preferred an album that appealed to a much wider audience.

When Illusions was released, just like Arthur Blythe’s two previous albums, it failed to trouble the US Billboard 200. To make matters worse, Illusions didn’t even match the success of Lennox Avenue Meltdown, which reached thirty-five in the US Billboard Jazz Album Charts. For Arthur Blythe, this was a huge disappointment.

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Following the release of Illusions, Arthur Blythe returned to working as a sideman. Later in 1980, he played on Gil Evans’ album Live at the Public Theater Volume 1 and 2. The other album Arthur Blythe played on, was John Fischer’s 1980 album 6 × 1 = 10 Duos for a New Decade. Working on such an ambitious album, must have given Arthur Blythe food for thought.

Blythe Spirit.

Arthur Blythe returned to CBS Recording Studios, in New York in 1981. This time around, Arthur Blythe had four new compositions, Contemplation, Faceless Woman, Reverence and Spirits in the Field. The other three tracks included George and Ira Gershwin’s Strike Up the Band; Johnny Burke and Erroll Garner’s Misty and a rework of the traditional gospel song Just a Closer Walk With Thee. These songs were recorded by a band that featured familiar faces and new names.

The rhythm section featured drummers Steve McCall and Bobby Battle, bassist Fred Hopkins and guitarist Kelvyn Bell. Tubaist Bob Stewart returned, and was joined by cellist Abdul Wadud and pianist John Hicks. Just like on Illusions, different musicians featured on the seven tracks. They would become Blythe Spirit, which produced by Jim Fishel and Arthur Blythe. It was a quite different album, from Arthur Blythe.

Critics realised this, when they received their advance copy of  Blythe Spirit. Elements of avant-garde were combined with hard bop and R&B on Blythe Spirit Arthur Blythe. Some of the tracks featured a trio, while others featured quartet or quintet. They were responsible for tracks the veered between conventional like Misty, and a much more adventurous approach. Especially on the swinging take of Just A Closer Walk With Thee. Strike Up The Band was given an unlikely makeover, while the Arthur Blythe compositions are best described as genre-melting, and innovative. This resulted in an album that was well received by critics, but failed to find a wider audience.

Just like Illusions, Blythe Spirit failed to trouble the US Billboard 200. Illusions never even reached the US Billboard Jazz Album Charts. It was another disappointment for Arthur Blythe, and of course, Columbia.

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They had placed their faith in Arthur Blythe, and gave him the freedom to release albums that featured ambitious, inventive and innovative. Sometimes it was almost experimental, as Arthur Blythe became a sonic explorer and took his music in unlikely directions on his four albums for Columbia.They’ve recently released by BGO Records as a two disc set, consisting of Lenox Avenue Breakdown, In the Tradition, Illusions and Blythe Spirit. This two disc set the highpoint of Arthur Blythe’s Columbia years.

His finest moment of his first four albums for Columbia was Lennox Avenue Breakdown, which was Arthur Blythe’s Magnus Opus. It was the best of the seven albums Arthur Blythe had released between 1977 and 1981.Lennox Avenue Breakdown was was an album that Arthur Blythe would struggle to surpass. 

Illusions was a fitting followup to Lennox Avenue Breakdown, and came close to reaching the heights of Arthur Blythe’s finest hour. However, Arthur Blythe’s Columbia debut, In The Tradition, features a much more conventional sound. However, Blythe Spirit the Arthur Blythe’s fourth for Columbia, was a genre-melting album where avant-garde, post bop and R&B were combined. This might seem like an unlikely fusion, but it was a veritable musical feast that showed yet another side to Arthur Blythe. He switched between a trio, quartet and quintet, unleashing conventional, ambitious and even swinging, rousing music. This was a captivating way to end the first part of the Columbia years.

Having released four albums for Columbia, Arthur Blythe would released another five albums between 1982 and 1987. During that period, Arthur Blythe continued to work as a sideman. This is something he had done between 1978s In The Tradition and 1981s Blythe Spirit. There’s every possibility that working with some of the biggest names in jazz inspired Arthur Blythe, and played a part in the direction his music took. 

It certainly took a few twists and turns, as the onetime prodigy Arthur Blythe’s first four albums contained some of the best, and most ambitious, creative, influential, innovative and inventive music of a solo career that’s spanned four decades. Sadly, despite enjoying such longevity, Arthur Blythe is still one of jazz music’s best kept secrets. 

Maybe BGO Records’ reissue of Arthur Blythe’s first four Columbia albums, will result in his music being rediscovered by a wider audience, who will appreciate, embrace and enjoy albums like Lenox Avenue Breakdown, In the Tradition, Illusions and Blythe Spirit? 

ARTHUR BLYTHE-LENNOX AVENUE BREAKDOWN, IN THE TRADITION, ILLUSIONS AND BLYTHE SPIRIT.

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BOB LIND-MAGELLAN WAS WRONG.

BOB LIND-MAGELLAN WAS WRONG.

It was in 1966, when Bob Lind released his critically acclaimed debut album Don’t Be Concerned, on World Pacific Records. One of the songs on Don’t Be Concerned, was the song that launched Bob Lind’s career, Elusive Butterfly. 

It was released as Bob Lind’s debut single in 1965, not long he signed to World Pacific Records, a subsidiary Liberty Records. When Elusive Butterfly was released in December 1965, it gave Bob Lind a top ten hit on both sides of the Atlantic. Elusive Butterfly reached number five in the US Billboard 100, but number five in the UK. This was just the start of the Bob Lind’s career.

By then, Bob Lind was twenty-three. He was born in Baltimore, Maryland on November 25th 1942. However, by 1965, Bob Lind was about to embark upon a career that would see him define and shape the folk-rock genre.

In 1966, Bob Lind released his debut album Don’t Be Concerned. It was released to widespread critical acclaim, and reached 148 in the US Billboard 200. For a new artist, in the folk rock genre, where most albums didn’t sell in the same quantities as those by pop and rock artists,  this was regarded as a success. So World Pacific Records decided to build upon this success.

Bob Lind returned to the recording studio and recorded his sophomore album Photographs Of Feeling. It was scheduled for release in April 1966. Before that, Remember The Rain was released as a single, but reached just number forty-six in the US Billboard 100 and sixty-four in the UK. Compared to the transatlantic top ten hit Elusive Butterfly, this was have disappointing. So must have been Photographs Of Feeling failing to chart. Despite the positive reviews, of Photographs Of Feeling it never came close to troubling the charts. Despite this, a third Bob Lind album was released in 1966.

This was The Elusive Bob Lind, which was released on Verve Folkways. It featured five songs penned by Bob Lind; plus covers of Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are A Changin’ and the traditional song Hey Nellie Nellie. It was chosen as a single, and released later in May 1966, but failed to chart. For Bob Lind, this was disappointing. He was about to release his third album of 1966, The Elusive Bob Lind.

Prior to the release of The Elusive Bob Lind, critics were fulsome in their praise of the album. Especially, Bob Lind’s songwriting skills, his unique vocal and how he could breath life, meaning and emotion into a song. Despite the praise, The Elusive Bob Lind received, the album failed to chart. With two albums consecutive albums failing to chart, it was a worrying time for Bob Lind. Maybe, his single would get his ailing career back on track?

There was a problem though. With Bob Lind’s last two albums had been released on different labels, they were essentially competing against each other. Five singles were released between April and October 1966.

World Pacific Record released I Just Let It Take Me as second single from, Photographs Of Feeling later in June 1966. It stalled at 123 in the US Billboard 100. For Bob Lind, it was a case of close but no cigar. Especially when San Francisco Woman, was released as the third and final single from Photographs Of Feeling. However, when it was released in August 1966, it reached just 135 in the US Billboard 100. Bob Lind it seemed, was out of luck.

Despite this, Verve Folkways Records decided to release White Snow from The Elusive Bob Lind. This was just the second single released from the album. It was released in October 1966, but failed to trouble the charts. After four consecutive singles failing to chart in the US Billboard 100, 

Bob Lind must have been wondering about his immediate future? He certainly wouldn’t have believed anyone who told him in fifty years time, his career would still be going strong, and he would’ve just released a new album. That is the case though. 

Recently, Bob Lind released Magellan Was Wrong on Big Beat Records, an imprint of Ace Records. Magellan Was Wrong is the much anticipated followup to 2012s Finding You Again. Bob Lind is a survivor, whose career has spanned six decades. That looked unlikely in the sixties.

After the roller coaster year that was 1966, Bob Lind continued to play live. He was still a popular draw, and had been since the earliest days of his career.Then in the spring of 1967, Bob Lind returned to the studio. This time, he only recorded two singles. Maybe World Pacific Records were being cautious, and wanted to gauge the success these singles? The first single, It’s Just My Love was released in April 1967, but failed to chart. Eight months later, Goodbye Neon Lies was released in 1967, but failed to chart. Little did anyone realise that Goodbye Neon Lies was Bob Lind’s World Pacific Records’ swan-song?

By 1969, Bob Lind, like many singers and musicians had developed a taste for the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle. He battled drug and alcohol addiction. To make matters worse, Bob Lind was regarded as difficult to work with. That was the case with many artists. However, if the delivered the goods, this record companies saw as the cost of doing business with an artist. Sadly, by 1969, Bob Lind had neither released a single for two years, nor an album for three. There was no sign of any music on the horizon. Despite this, very few people would’ve forecast that Bob Lind would decided to walk away from his contract with World Pacific Records in 1969.

Having severed his ties from World Pacific Records, very little was heard of Bob Lind. While he still played live, he never released any music between 1967 and 1971. That was when Bob Lind resurfaced, and signed a contract with Capitol Records. 

Not long after this, Bob Lind entered the studio for the first time in four years. He recorded what became Since There Were Circles, Bob Lind’s Capitol Records’ debut album. It was scheduled for release later in 1971. 

Before the release of Bob Lind’s comeback album, critics had their say on Since There Were Circle. The album was well received, and maybe, Bob Lind’s luck was changing. Alas, that wasn’t the case.

In September 1971, She Can Get Along was released as the lead single from Since There Were Circles. However, She Can Get Along failed to chart. This didn’t augur well for the release of Since There Were Circles. It also failed to chart, and this marked the end of Bob Lind’s time at Capitol Records.

Not long after leaving Capitol Records, Bob Lind turned his back on music. Bob Lind wasn’t the first, and certainly wouldn’t the last to walk away from music. 

During the wilderness years, Bob Lind befriended writer Charles Bukowski. They struck up a close friendship. So much so, that Charles Bukowski immortalised the singer-songwriter in his 1978 book Women. Bob Lind was the inspiration for the character Dinky Summers, who would regularly reappear in Charles Bukowski’s work. Ten years after Women was published, Bob Lind became a writer.

Bob Lind decided in 1988 to follow the sun, and headed to Florida. That was where he embarked upon a new career, as a writer. The move to Florida, and career change proved successful. Not only did Bob Lind write five novels, but a stage play and the award winning screenplay Refuge. It went on to win the prestigious Florida Screenwriters’ Competition in 1991. This must have been the pinnacle of Bob Lind’s career as a writer.

Later in his writing career, Bob Lind spent eight years as  a staff writer at the supermarket tabloids Weekly World News and The Sun. This was very different from writing novels, screenplays or a stage play. The content was marketed as satirical and sensationalist, but often fell foul of the privacy laws. For Bob Lind, this must have seemed like a far cry from his days as a musician? Maybe Bob Lind would even consider a comeback?

Thirty-three years after turning his back on music in 1971, Bob Lind had a change of heart in 2004. He was persuaded folk singer Arlo Guthrie, the son of Woody Guthrie, to make a comeback. The venue that was chosen was the Guthrie Center in Becket, Massachusetts. 

That night, Bob Lind’s love of playing live was rekindled. Soon, the sixty-two year old and Arlo Guthrie were heading out on tour. Since then, they’ve continued to tour. Bob Lind was back.

Since his comeback in 2004, three’s been two of Bob Lind’s albums have been reissued. The first came in 2006, when RPM Records, an imprint of Ace Records released Since There Were Circles. Later in 2006, Bob Lind self-released his first live album Live At The Luna Star Cafe It featured the first new material Bob Lind had released since 1971. Then in 2007, RPM Records, released Elusive Butterfly: The Complete 1966 Jack Nitzsche Session. Suddenly, a whole new audience were discovering Bob Lind’s music.

Over the next few years, interest in Bob Lind’s music began to grow. However, within the music industry, many artists and groups were familiar with Bob Lind’s songs, and had covered them. This included luminaries like Eric Clapton, Glen Campbell, Dolly Parton, Aretha Franklin and The Four Tops. They’re just a few of the artists who have covered Bob Lind’s music, and helped spread the word about one of music’s best kept secrets.

With Bob Lind’s profile rising, cinematographer Paul Surratt finished  a DVD about Bob Lind. It was a documentary, which also featured Bob Lind in concert. Bob Lind: Perspective was released in 2009, and introduced the singer-songwriter to a wider audience. However, there was still one thing Bob Lind hadn’t done since his comeback, release a new album.

Bob Lind rectified this in 2012. He had returned to the studio with The Spongetones’ guitarist Jamie Hoover. He produced what would become Bob Lind’s first album since Since There Were Circles was released in 1971. Forty-one years later, Finding You Again was released on Big Beat Records, a subsidiary of Ace Records. Finding You Again was released to critical acclaim, and marked a welcome return to form from the seventy year old folk-rock pioneer. Now that Bob Lind had found his audience again, the big question was, when would there be followup to Finding You Again?

For Magellan Was Wrong, Bob Lind wrote eleven new tracks and decided to cover Yom Paxton’s Bottle Of Wine. These songs were arranged and produced by Jamie Hoover. He also plays many of the instruments on Magellan Was Wrong. Bob Lind plays acoustic guitar, electric guitar, 12-string guitar and adds synth horns and vocals.  Augmenting Jamie Hoover and Bob Lind, were a few musicians who added overdubs in two studios in Fort Worth, Miami. Once the songs, were complete, they became the much-antipated Magellan Was Wrong.

Opening Magellan Was Wrong, is I Don’t Know How To Love You. An urgently strummed guitar joins the rhythm section in driving the arrangement along. The bass like the piano is played slowly and carefully. Meanwhile, Bob Lind’s vocal is impassioned, needy and emotive. Espeically as he sings: “is there a secret code that I can steal, to bring your passion back, to make you feel, to make you see in me, the man you once knew.” Desperation fills vocal as he asks, begs “how can I pull you back, what can I do.” Soon, this paean is unfolding, and Bob ruefully reflects: “I don’t know how I lost you” and later, “I Don’t Know How To Love You, maybe I never did.” Jamie Hoover’s adds instruments at just the right time. Whether it’s the guitar, mandolin or piano, they compliment Bob on this soul-baring ballad.

You Are Home is a a song about the war veterans, who were wrongly imprisoned, and often, were tortured and left traumatised. Now they’re free, and are home with people who love and care for them. A slow, sultry tenor saxophone gives way to Bob’s vocal. He’s constantly reassuring: “you’re safe now, back with the ones that love you…you are back with the ones that love you. Meanwhile, the rhythm section, piano and guitar provide a subtle backdrop. Bob’s vocal is heartfelt and full of sincerity, while saxophone winds its way above the arrangement. It’s not overpowering, and again, compliments Bob’s vocal. When the vocal drops out, the sultry saxophone takes centre-stage and proves the perfect way to closes this beautiful, thought-provoking ballad.

Never Even There is a jazz-tinged song, where Bob scats as a chiming guitar, subtle drums and piano combine. A brief guitar solo gives way Bob’s vocal. He’s soon delivering lyrics that will ring true with many men. They spent too much time doing other things, and not spending time with their partner. Then one day; “she’ll leave you, like you were never even there.” After Bob delivers, that lyric, a jazz guitar returns. That’s until Bob dawns the role of agony uncle. He advices how to stop this happening, and tells what will happen to a man that doesn’t follow his advice,

Washes of Hammond organ give way to a stomping, pounding beat on Magellan Was Wrong. By then, Bob’s painting pictures with his lyrics. Meanwhile, a piano and harmonies accompany him. After years of believing that if something was possible, then it was achievable, he’s lost faith. Frustration fills his voice as he sings: “Magellan Was Wrong, this world is flat sometimes,”  on this carefully crafted, hook-laden anthem.

The tempo drops on I Turn To You, a piano lead ballad. In the song, Bob plays tribute to the garage and strength of women. Mostly, it’s a wife or girlfriend a man turns to, when times get tough. As the piano plays, Bob sings: “I Turn To You…because you’re braver than I’ll ever be…you stand up strong against my despair.” Behind him, one of the biggest arrangement unfolds. A piano, drums and later a searing guitar play leading roles. Everything is played by Jamie Hoover. This leaves Bob to give thanks, as the arrangement builds and grows on this poignant ballad.

Bottle Of Wine was written by Tom Paxton, and since then, has been an oft=covered song. Just two acoustic guitars and a mandolin open the song, before Bob begins to deliver the heartbreaking lyrics. There’s desperation in Bob’s vocal as he pleads: “Bottle Of Wine fruit of the vine, when will let me get sober?” It’s a battle Bob in the song sounds desperate to win, but sadly, he’s  still “holding his Bottle Of Wine.”

My Friend is another poignant song, where Bob reflects that each day we grow older, the sands of time are running dry. The piano is at the heart of the arrangement, while the rhythm section play subtly. Together, they frame Bob’s vocal. He’s in a reflective mood, looking back at life with his partner at the good times and the bad. Sadly, pride and years of disappointment have driven a wedge between them. Again, there’s a jazz influence to the slow, meandering arrangement. A piano takes the lead, and is joined by a drums and a jazz guitar. Then Bob asks: we’re not here long, must we be strangers in these candle days, and when the final darkness falls, these bitter moments to pride will look small.” These lyrics makes this a truly poignant, moving and beautiful song.

Cooing harmonies and the rhythm section open From The Road. Already, it’s obvious something special is unfolding. They’re joined by Bob’s joyous, hopeful vocal. Punchy harmonies accompany Bob, while the piano, drums and stabs of horns combine. Hooks haven’t been spare on a truly irresistible paean, that Bob dedicates to Jan. She’s lucky to have such a great song written and dedicated to her.

As You, Lola, You! unfolds, Bob delivers another scat. Meanwhile, his band deliver a jaunty, jazzy, mid-tempo arrangement. Bob showcases her versatility as he delivers a jazzy vocal, on this celebration love and being in love.

The sound of David Hubbard’s tenor saxophone opens The Outsider’s Dream. It gives way to the rhythm section and guitar. They accompany Bob’s vocal; as he sings about “a man who dreamed a dream.” As a subtle, tenor saxophone rasps, Bob delivers the cinematic lyrics that tell of a perfect life. “He had a knack for how to live” There’s a twist though: “and from some place outside himself, he saw his funeral passing by, mourned by souls he mattered to.” By then, the arrangement has grown, and provides a fitting backdrop for Bob: “the night passed by and took the dream.” It was then he realised that there was: “something more to get, that tiny tinges of regret.” These he would never forget. Although he keeps the world at bay, he feels these tinges to this day.” Just like so many songs on Magellan Was Wrong, it’s a truly poignant and reflective where Bob brings the lyrics to life.

Blind Love finds the tempo rise, and features a country influence. Again, there’s a cinematic quality to the lyrics. Guitars, synth strings and the rhythm section propel the arrangement along, as Bob remembers and reflects, on the love he once knew. Sadly, it was “Blind Love, and caused pain that even time can’t heal. Bob longs for a chance to turn back the clock, and never make the same mistake again. 

A Break In The Rain closes Magellan Was Wrong. It also features the ethereal beauty of coloratura soprano Arbel Martin. She’s the perfect foil for Bob, as he reflects that whatever life throws at people, the earth keeps on turning. 

Hw reminds us: “there will be A Break In The Rain, sun in our windows, gardens and lanes, dawn will break and light our way home.” Augmenting Bob and Arbel, are synths. They add the finishing touch, to a track which features ethereal beauty and thoughtful lyrics. It’s the prefect way to close Bob Lind’s comeback album Magellan Was Wrong, which was recently released by Big Beat Records, a subsidiary of Ace Records.

After a four year absence, Bob Lind returns with the best album since he returned to music in 2004, Magellan Was Wrong. It’s a tantalising taste of what Bob Lind’s capable of, and what record buyers missed out on, when he turned his back on music. Thankfully, Bob Lind is back, and has matured as a singer, songwriter and musician.

His lyrics are beautiful, celebratory, cerebral, poignant, reflective, rueful, thought-proving and wistful. Songs about love, love lost, returning heroes and the sands of time running dry, sit side-by-side with a cover Tom Paxton’s Bottle Of Wine. Often, the lyrics are also cinematic, vivid and rich in imagery, as Bob Lind unmistakable voice switches between musical genres. Bob Lind it seems, is just as comfortable singing folk and folk-rock as he is country, jazz or pop rock.

He’s a versatile and truly talented singer, songwriter and musician, who put all his years of experience into writing and recording Magellan Was Wrong.  It finds Bob Lind making up for lost time, after turning his back on music for thirty-three years. That was a great shame, and many would say a waste of talent. For too long, music was robbed of one its most talented sons. Thankfully, in 2004,Bob Lind Arlo Guthrie convince Bob Lind to play live. Since then, Bob Lind has been on the comeback trail. However, it took eight years before Bob Lind released a new album.

This was the critically acclaimed Finding You Again which was released in 2012. Since then, Bob Lind’s fans have eagerly awaited the followup to Finding You Again. They had to be patience, and recently, their patience was rewarded when Bob Lind released Magellan Was Wrong. The much-anticipated followup to Finding You Again has been well worth the wait. 

Magellan Was Wrong finds Bob Lind back to his very best. What’s more, Bob Lind still seems to be enjoying making music. That is apparent throughput Magellan Was Wrong, where Bob Lind’s joie de vivre shines through. Maybe Bob Lind has finally realised how lucky he his to be making a living out of music, and how much pleasure people get from his music? That I’m sure of.  Magellan Was Wrong is a must have for fans, and is  finds the comeback King, Bob Lind at his best, on what is without doubt, one the finest albums of his fifty-one year recording career.

BOB LIND-MAGELLAN WAS WRONG.

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SIMPLE MINDS-NEW GOLD DREAM (81-82-83-84) DELUXE EDITION.

SIMPLE MINDS-NEW GOLD DREAM (81-82-83-84) DELUXE EDITION.

Simple Minds weren’t an overnight success. Very few bands are. It took five years and five albums before commercial success and critical acclaim came Simple Minds’ way. The album that transformed Simple Minds’ career was New Gold Dream (81–82–83–84). 

Suddenly, Simple Minds were one of the most successful bands in Britain, and for the first time, were making inroads into Europe and North America. New Gold Dream (81–82–83–84) which was recently released by Universal as a two disc Deluxe Edition, was a game-changer for Simple Minds in more ways than one.

New Gold Dream (81–82–83–84) was the start of the rise and rise of Simple Minds. It was also the start of Simple Minds stadium rock era. This part of the Simple Minds story began in April 1982. However, Simple Minds were born in the South Side of Glasgow in 1977.

Simple Minds roots can be traced to the short-lived punk band Johnny and The Self-Abusers. They were formed in early 1977, and made their live debut on 11th April, which was Easter Monday. That was the first time the sextet took to the stage. Their lineup that day, included friends Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill, plus drummer Brian McGee and bassist Tony Donald . They would  later become founder members of Simple Minds. 

Two weeks after their debut, Johnny and The Self-Abusers opened for Generation X in Edinburgh. This was the start of a summer where the nascent band spent playing live in Glasgow. Before long, the band had split into two factions. Founders Alan Cairnduff and John Milarky were in one faction, while the other featured Jim Kerr, Charlie Burchill,Brian McGee and Tony Donald. Despite being a band divided, Johnny and The Self-Abusers decided to record their debut single.

This was Saints and Sinners, which was released on Chiswick Record in November 1977. On the release date, Johnny and The Self-Abusers announced that they had split-up. Not long after this, Simple Minds were born.

The founding founding members of Simple Minds were Jim Kerr, Charlie Burchill, Brian McGee and Tony Donald. Jim Kerr who had been Johnny and The Self-Abusers keyboardist, packed his keyboards away, and became Simple Minds vocalist, and sometimes violinist. The rhythm section featured drummer Brian McGee, bassist Tony Donald and guitarist Charlie Burchill. Then in January 1978, Duncan Barnwell was drafted in to play second guitar. Not long after this, Barra born keyboardist Mick MacNeil joined the band. This was the original lineup of Simple Minds. They were soon making waves in their home city.

Quickly, Simple Minds established a reputation was one of Glasgow’s best up-and-coming bands. Constantly playing live allowed Simple Minds to hone their sound. However, in April 1978, there was a change to the lineup when Tony Donald left the band. This was a blow, as the band were about to record a demo tape. A replacement was soon found in Derek Forbes, who had been The Subs’ bassist. However, this wasn’t the end of the changes in Simple Minds’ lineup.

Later in 1978, second guitarist Duncan Barnwell was invited to leave the band. Now Simple Mind were a quintet, and that was how they would remain. By then, the Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill songwriting partnership had taken shape, and Simple Minds had a manager. 

Give Simple Minds were rising stars of the Glasgow music scene, it was inevitable that they would come to the attention of Bruce Findlay. He was one of the leading lights of the Glasgow music scene. Not only did he own the Bruce’s Records’ chain, but the Zoom Records’ label, which was a subsidiary of Arista Records. Bruce Findlay had heard good things about Simple Minds, and approached them about managing the group. At first, this was on a part-time basis. However, his would later change. 

Life In A Day.

Before that, Simple Minds began work on their debut album, Life In A Day. It featured ten songs written by the Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill songwriting partnership. Then the five members of Simple Minds headed south.

By then, Simple Minds’ lineup was settled. Vocalist Jim Kerr and keyboardist Mick MacNeil were joined by a rhythm section featuring drummer Brian McGee, bassist Derek Forbes and guitarist Charlie Burchill. They began recording Life In A Day December 1978. Three separate studios were used, including the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio. Further sessions took place at Abbey Road Studios and the Townhouse Studios, in London. Producing these sessions, which became Life In A Day, was John Leckie. He spent the best part of two months recording Simple Minds’ debut album. After nearly two months, Life In A Day was completed in January 1979. It would be released three months later.

Having recorded their debut album, Zoom Records sent copies of Life In A Day to critics. The reviews were mixed, ranging from favourable to positive. Two tracks came in for praise, Murder Story and Simple Minds’ tribute to Nico, Chelsea Girl. However, some critics remarked upon the noticeable early seventies influence, This gave the album a slightly dated sound. Other critics  praised Jim Kerr’s vocals, while some praised some of the arrangements on Life In A Day. Despite this, there was no consensus. It was left to record buyers to have the final say.

Life In A Day was released on 1st April 1979, and reached just number thirty in the UK charts. For a debut album, it was regarded as a success. Then when Life In A Day was released as a single on 15th May 1979, it stalled at a disappointing sixty-two on the UK. For Simple Minds’ sophomore single,  Chelsea Girl was chosen, but failed to chart. This was a disappointment for Simple Minds. Overall, they could be satisfied with the progress that they had made so far.

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Real To Real Cacophony.

Just seven months after the release of Life In A Day, Simple Minds returned with their sophomore album Real To Real Cacophony. This was a much more collaborative album, with Jim Kerr writing the lyrics and the music for the twelve tracks being written by the band. However, what didn’t change, was John Leckie producing Real To Real Cacophony.

Recording of Real To Real Cacophony took place at Rockfield Studios, in Monmouth, Wales during September 1979. This had previously, been the scene of numerous musical triumphs. Classic albums and number ones had been recorded at Rockfield Studios. Maybe, Simple Minds were hoping that they would be inspired by the surroundings? 


Once Real To Real Cacophony was complete, Zoom Records had scheduled a release date for November 1979. This didn’t leave much time to promote the album.

In the midst of releasing Real To Real Cacophony, critics had their say on Simple Minds’ sophomore album. Again, the reviews were mixed. Some of the views were favourable, while others were mixed. At least Real To Real Cacophony was well received by some of the critics. They realised that although the music on Real To Real Cacophony was still being influenced by the music the band grew up listening to, this time, they used this merely as a starting point. That music was reshaped and transformed into something totally different. Simple Minds were sonic sculptors. One example was the influence of Kraftwerk’s Radio Activity on Real To Real, which was one of the highlights of Real To Real Cacophony. It was released in November 1979. 

When Real To Real Cacophony was released in November 1979, the album failed to chart. Neither did the single Changeling. For Simple Minds this was a huge blow. It would be nearly a year before Simple Minds returned with their third album, Empires and Dance.

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Empires and Dance.

Despite the disappointment of Real To Real Cacophony, Bruce Findlay became Simple Minds’ full-time manager. His job was steering the band through the toughest time of their career.

Following the commercial failure of Real To Real Cacophony, Simple Minds began work on what would become Empires and Dance. Again, Jim Kerr wrote the lyrics, while the band wrote the music to the ten tracks. They were recorded in Wales, using the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio.

In Wales, John Leckie was in charge of production on Empires and Dance. This was the third album he had produced for Simple Minds. It would also be his swan-song.

Once Empires and Dance was complete, the release date was scheduled for 12th September 1980. Before that, critics received their advance copies. They dissevered that Empires and Dance was a genre-melting album. Elements of new wave, post punk, dance, electronica and rock melted into one. This one bullish critic later called  “a post punk dance classic.” In contrast, NME called Empires and Dance “a weird, agitating record.” Mostly, though, the album was reasonably well received. One track stood out from the crowd, the album opener, I Travel. It should’ve transformed Simple Minds’ fortunes.

On 12th September 1980, Empires and Dance was released. It didn’t sell well, and stalled at just forty-one on the UK charts. That was an improvement on Real To Real Cacophony. Elsewhere, Empires and Dance reached number forty-seven in New Zealand. That was a small crumb of comfort.

Especially when the lead single I Follow failed to chart. This was a huge blow, as it was the strongest track on the album. History repeated itself when Celebrate was released as a single, but failed to chart. This was strange, given the song’s popularity among Simple Minds’ fan-base. While this was another disappointment, Simple Minds were soon going up in the world.

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Sons and Fascination and Sister Feelings Call.

After Empires and Dance, Simple Minds left Arista Records and signed to Virgin Records. Some industry watchers saw this as  a gamble on the part of Virgin Records. 

After all, Simple Minds’ three albums hadn’t sold well. Life In A Day reached just number thirty in the UK album charts; Real To Real Cacophony never came close to troubling the charts and Empires and Dance stalled at just forty-one on the UK album charts. The three albums yielded very little when it came to singles. Life In A Day had given Simple Minds a minor hit single when it reached sixty-two in the UK singles charts. However, Virgin Records decided to take a chance on Simple Minds. They were determined to repay Virgin Records’ faith in them.

So Simple Minds began work on not just one album, but two. Sons and Fascination and Sister Feelings Call would be recorded at the sessions, and released on the same date. This was unusual, and meant twice the amount of work for Simple Minds.

Again, Jim Kerr penned the lyrics and Simple Minds wrote the music. Eight songs would feature on Sons and Fascination, while seven featured on Sister Feelings Call. When it came to recording Sons and Fascination and Sister Feelings Call, John Leckie had been replaced by Steve Hillage, of Genesis and Gong.

Steve Hillage had much in common with Simple Minds; especially a shared love Krautrock. Having bonded over their love of Krautrock, Steve Hillage got to work, and began to change Simple Minds’ sound. This included changing the position of the rhythm section. They were given a much more prominent place in the mix. The rhythm section was louder, driving and anchoring the arrangements along. Other instruments were panned across the arrangement. Sometimes, they were positioned in what seemed like an unlikely place for a guitar or vocal. Two examples are the positions of Jim Kerr’s vocal The American and Sweat In Bullet. Other times, instruments are placed so that they play their part in what’s an atmospheric backdrop. This was very different to John Leckie’s approach. However, the million Dollor question was would it result in a  change of fortune for Simple Minds?

When the reviews of Sons and Fascination and Sister Feelings Call were published this seemed debatable. Both albums divided the opinion of critics. What critics agreed, was that Simple Minds were moving more towards the mainstream. The song structures were much more conventional, and the songs more melodic. However, it seemed that Simple Minds still were unable to record a cohesive album. Reviews of Sons and Fascination ranged from mixed to favourable. Sister Feelings Call really divided the opinion of critics. Their reviews ranged from favourable to unfavourable. There was no middle ground. It seemed that Sister Feelings Call was Marmite music, critics either liked or loathed the album. Ironically, as is often the case, history was later rewritten and many critics have revised their opinion on both albums.

The release of Sons and Fascination and Sister Feelings Call were scheduled for 12th of September 1981. Initially, Virgin Records decided to package the two albums as double album. In Britain, Sons and Fascination and Sister Feelings Call reached number eleven and were eventually certified gold. Elsewhere, Sons and Fascination and Sister Feelings Call reached number seven in Sweden and four in Switzerland. This was the first time a Simple Minds album had charted in these countries. It was a similar case in Australia, where Sons and Fascination and Sister Feelings Call reached thirty-one. Maybe, Simple Minds’ luck was changing?

It certainly looked like it. In 1981, The American was chosen as the lead single from Sister Feelings Call, and reached fifty-nine in the UK. This was slightly disappointing, considering it was one of the album’s highlights. 

Love Song was then chosen as the lead single from Sons and Fascination, and reached forty-seven in the UK; seventeen in Australia; sixteen in Sweden and thirty-eight in Canada. Simple Minds had a minor hit on three continents. To build on the success of Love Song, Sweat Bullet was released as a single. It reached fifty-two in the UK; forty-seven in New Zealand and seventeen in Sweden. Simple Minds’ music was gradually reaching a wider audience. So a decision was made to rerelease one Simple Minds’ finest singles, I Travel. However, lightning struck twice, and the single failed to trouble the charts. This was disappointing. However, the events of 1982 would more than makeup for this.

Following the release of Sons and Fascination and Sister Feelings Call, set out on tour. This time, drummer Brian McGee would be absent. He had left Simple Minds after recording Sons and Fascination and Sister Feelings Call. It was a decision that surely, would come back to haunt him. 

While a replacement was found, Kenny Hyslop became a part-time member of Simple Minds. He headed out on the first part of Simple Minds’ Sons and Fascination and Sister Feelings Call tour. He would also feature on one of songs on their next album New Gold Dream (81–82–83–84).

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New Gold Dream (81–82–83–84).

Having returned from touring Sons and Fascination and Sister Feelings Call, Simple Minds were faced with the prospect of beginning work without a permanent drummer in place. However, ex-Skids’ drummer Kenny Hsylop was proving to be a useful and interesting addition to Simple Minds’ lineup.

While the rest of Simple Minds were interested in Krautrock, Kenny Hsylop enjoyed funk, hip hop and dance music. His influence could be heard on Simple Minds next single, Promised You A Miracle.

The five members of Simple Minds wrote Promised You A Miracle. Since then, allegations have been made the that inspiration for the riff came from an old funk track that had been played on the tour bus during the Sons and Fascination and Sister Feelings Call tour. That however, is  just mere speculation. What isn’t in doubt, is that Promised You A Miracle was the first true pop song that Simple Minds wrote.

Promised You A Miracle was recorded with producer Peter Walsh at Townhouse Studios. At the heart of the song’s success is the interplay between Kenny Hyslop’s thunderous electronic beats, Charlie Burchill’s guitar riff and the hook that comes courtesy of Mick MacNeil’s keyboards. Add to that, Jim Kerr’s swaggering vocal, and the result was a slice of perfect pop. It was a stepping stone from Simple Minds old new sound to the stadium rock years. 

When Simple Minds released the anthemic Promised You A Miracle it reached number eleven in the British charts. This was Simple Minds biggest British hit single. Soon, Promised You A Miracle took Europe by storm. 

In Belgium, Promised You A Miracle reached number thirty-one; seventeen in Sweden; twenty-four in the Netherlands and twenty-five in the Republic Of Ireland. Further afield, Promised You A Miracle reached number eleven in Australia; nine in New Zealand and sixty-five in the US Billboard Hot Dance Charts. This was the start of Simple Minds transformation from new wave pioneers, to stadium rock superstars.

Having released what many critics felt was one of the finest song of their career so far, Simple Minds’ thoughts turned to their fifth album. However, a problem had arisen. Drummer Kenny Hyslop the band felt, wasn’t fitting in. What didn’t help, was his apparent suspicion of record companies. So Kenny Hyslop left Simple Minds in February 1982, five months after he joined on a temporary basis. In that short space of time, he had written his name in Simple Minds’ history. Now the search began for a successor.

Given Simple Minds’ star was in the ascendancy, plenty of drummers were interested in the job. Finally, Simple Minds  settled on former Café Jacques drummer Mike Ogletree. Moving from a progressive rock band like Café Jacques, to Simple Minds could’ve been a culture shock for lesser drummers than Mike Ogletree. However, he quickly fitted in.

Having made his way to a converted barn in Perthshire, where Simple Minds were working on their next album Mike Ogletree got to work. By then, the four remanning members of Simple Minds had written eight new tracks. When they were combined with Promised You A Miracle, they became New Gold Dream (81–82–83–84). It was recorded in Perthshire and at Townhouse Studios, in London.

Recording began in Perthshire, where Mike Ogletree laid down the drum parts to what became New Gold Dream (81–82–83–84). Simple Minds then moved to Townhouse Studios to join producer Peter Wallsh, and complete New Gold Dream (81–82–83–84).

That was where Peter Walsh introduced Simple Minds to London born, session musician, Mel Gaynor. Peter Walsh assured Simple Minds that twenty-two year old Mel Gaynor was an experienced drummer. He had previously played with various artists and bands. So it was agreed that Mel Gaynor would sit in on the sessions, and learn the drum parts from Mike Ogletree, who would switch to percussion.

With the decision made to bring onboard Mel Gaynor as drummer, now he had to learn how to replicate Mike Ogletree’s drum parts. This was easier said than done, as the two drummers had very different playing styles. Eventually, three different drummers were credited with playing on New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84).

Mike Ogletree played drums on three tracks, Colours Fly and Catherine Wheel, Somebody Up There Likes You and New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84). Mel Gaynor featured on Someone Somewhere In Summertime, Big Sleep, New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84), Glittering Prize, Hunter and The Hunted and The King Is White and In The Crowd. The other drummer who featured on New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84), was Kenny Hyslop who played on Promised You A Miracle. These three drummers slotted into the rhythm section with bassist Derek Forbes and guitarist Charlie Burchill. Jim Kerr added the vocals on the eight tracks. Joining Simple Minds were a couple of guest artists.

This included Herbie Hancock, who played keyboards on Hunter and The Hunted. Sharon Campbell added vocals on Colours Fly and Catherine Wheel and Glittering Prize. With these parts recorded, New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84). It would be released  on 13 September 1982. Before that, Simple Minds headed back out on tour.

The Sons and Fascination and Sister Feelings Call was a two-part tour. Simple Minds headed out on tour, having completed New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84). Their timing couldn’t have been better, as they had just enjoyed the biggest hit single of their career, Promised You A Miracle. However, the followup Glittering Prize, came close to replicating that success.

Four months after the release of Promised You A Miracle, Glittering Prize was released as the followup in August 1982. It reached number sixteen in Britain; number four in Sweden; eleven in the Republic Of Ireland; nine in Australia and four in New Zealand. Word was spreading about Simple Minds’ new sound. This was just in time for the release of New Gold Dream (81–82–83–84).

Before that, critics reviewed New Gold Dream (81–82–83–84). They lavished praise on what was, by far, the best album of Simple Minds career. It was the most cohesive and complete album of their five album career. Simple Minds combined their old new wave sound with synth pop, electronica, pop and rock. The result was a carefully crafted album where Simple Minds came of age musically.

Among New Gold Dream (81–82–83–84)’s highlights, were the pure pop anthems Promised You A Miracle, Glittering Prize and Someone Somewhere In Summertime. They were hook-laden, stadium rockers that transformed Simple Minds from also rans to superstars. 

When New Gold Dream (81–82–83–84) was released on 13th September 1982, life was never going to be the same for Simple Minds. New Gold Dream (81–82–83–84) reached number three in Britain, and was certified platinum. Across the English Channel, France, New Gold Dream (81–82–83–84) reached thirty in France and was certified gold. Elsewhere, in Europe, New Gold Dream (81–82–83–84) reached thirty-one in the Netherlands and nine in Sweden. Further afield, Simple Mind’s popularity was growing.

In Australia, New Gold Dream (81–82–83–84) reached number three, and in New Zealand number two. However, belatedly, Simple Minds made a breakthrough in North America with New Gold Dream (81–82–83–84). Not only did it reach sixty-five in the US Billboard 200, but was certified gold in Canada. For Jim Kerr, Charlie Burchill, Michael MacNeil and Derek Forbes, it was a New Gold Dream come true. 

The only disappointment was when one of Simple Minds’ most anthemic tracks, Someone Somewhere in Summertime, stalled at number thirty-six in Britain. It did reach thirty-six in Australia, and sixteen in the Republic Of Ireland. Apart from that, things had never been better for Simple Minds.

Or so it seemed. Simple Minds had been having problems with drummers. On New Gold Dream (81–82–83–84), the problem was, they didn’t have one. So, they’d used two drummers for the recording of New Gold Dream (81–82–83–84). Mike Ogletree played on three tracks, while Mel Gaynor played on the other five tracks and Kenny Hyslop who played on Promised You A Miracle. However, it was Mike Ogletree that headed out on tour with Simple Minds, to tour New Gold Dream (81–82–83–84). Mike played on the first leg of the tour, and left in November 1982 to form Fiction Factory. That presented a problem for Simple Minds. 

The answer to their problem was Mel Gaynor. He had played on New Gold Dream (81–82–83–84). So, he knew many of the songs. Mel Gaynor was brought onboard, and became Simple Minds’ first non-Scottish member. However, Mel Gaynor’s drumming would prove a crucial part of Simple Minds future sound and success.

During the summer of 1983, Simple Minds played a series of high profile concerts. Many were in large stadiums, in front of fifty thousand people. This was no place for shrinking violets. So, Simple Minds cranked up the volume and went for it. Little did anyone realise, that Simple Minds were now bona fide stadium rockers.

One new song epitomised Simple Minds’ new sound… Waterfront. With its pulsating bass line, thunderous drums, and Jim’s strutting, preening vocal, Simple Minds literally swaggered their way through what was their latest anthem. This raised a few eyebrows. Were Simple Minds in the process of reinventing themselves?

That proved to be the case, with Simple Minds becoming one of the most successful stadium rock bands of the eighties and nineties. They could do no wrong from 1984s Sparkle In The Rain through 1985s Once Upon A Time, 1989s Street Fighting Years and 1991s Real Life. During that period, Simple Minds enjoyed a glittering career, with everything they touched turning to gold and platinum. From the UK, Europe, North America and Australia, Simple Minds were one of the biggest selling bands. However, when Good News From The Next World was released in 1995, it “only” certified gold in the UK, Germany, France and Switzerland, the writing was on the wall for Simple Minds.

Never again did they reach the same heights as they enjoyed between 1984 and 1995. For thirteen years, Simple Minds had been The Untouchables. However, that would never have been passible without the album that started this run of critically acclaimed and commercially successful albums, New Gold Dream (81–82–83–84). It was recently rereleased by Universal as a two disc Deluxe Edition.

The Deluxe Edition of New Gold Dream (81–82–83–84) features the album on disc one, and twelve extended mixes on disc two. There’s an instrumental of Sending Out An Angel, a club mix of Promised You A Miracle and even a German 12” remix of New Gold Dream without the drums. That’s not forgetting US remix and a dub remix of Promised You A Miracle. In total, there are four versions of Promised You A Miracle, two versions of Glittering Prize and just the one version of New Gold Dream and Someone Somewhere In Summertime. For anyone who likes remixes, then disc two of New Gold Dream (81–82–83–84) will be a veritable smorgasbord. However, for most people, the main event is disc one, and the newly remastered version of New Gold Dream (81–82–83–84).

The Deluxe Edition of New Gold Dream (81–82–83–84) features the album on disc one, and twelve extended mixes on disc two. There’s an instrumental of Sending Out An Angel, a club mix of Promised You A Miracle and even a German 12” remix of New Gold Dream without the drums. That’s not forgetting US remix and a dub remix of Promised You A Miracle. In total, there are four versions of Promised You A Miracle, two versions of Glittering Prize and just the one version of New Gold Dream and Someone Somewhere In Summertime. For anyone who likes remixes, then disc two of New Gold Dream (81–82–83–84) will be a veritable smorgasbord. However, for most people, the main event is disc one, and the newly remastered version of New Gold Dream (81–82–83–84).

After struggling for four albums, Simple Minds came of age musically on New Gold Dream (81–82–83–84). Now, Simple Minds were well on their way to superstardom. There was no stopping them as strutted and swaggered their ways through million selling albums of stadium rock. At last, Simple Minds were fulfilling their potential. For the next five albums, Simple Minds were one of the biggest and most successful British bands of the eighties and nineties. They enjoyed many a Glittering Prize, between the release of New Gold Dream (81–82–83–84) in 1982 and Good News From The Next World in 1995. However, two Simple Minds albums stand head and shoulders above the rest; Gold Dream (81–82–83–84) which transformed Simple Minds’ career; and Sparkle In The Rain, which completed the transformation of Simple Minds’ career to stadium rockers and fully fledged colossi of planet rock.

SIMPLE MINDS-NEW GOLD DREAM (81-82=83-84) DELUXE EDITION.

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JEANETTE JONES-DREAMS ALL COME TRUE.

JEANETTE JONES-DREAMS ALL COME TRUE.

The history of soul music is littered with artists who could’ve and should’ve gone on to greater things, but for whatever reason, commercial success and critical acclaim passed them by. That, sadly, was the case with Jeanette Jones.

She had talent in abundance, and a voice that was a mixture of power, passion, emotion and sheer soulfulness. Sadly, Jeanette Jones’ recording career was all too brief, and amounts to just one single, Darling, I’m Standing By You. It was released on the Golden Soul label in 1969, and the two years later, was reissued by Kent. Nothing came of the single. 

Jeanette Jones’ last recording session was in 1974, when she recorded a publishing demo for Barry Goldberg. Sadly, that was the last time she entered a recording studio. It was also the end of Jeanette Jones’ musical career. For Jeanette Jones, the dream was over.

Since then, Jeanette Jones has remained an enigmatic and mysterious figure. Very little is known of her life pre and post music. Nowadays, it is thought that Jeanette Jones lives quietly in San Francisco. It’s also where Jeanette Jones recorded the twelve songs that feature on the compilation Dreams All Come True. It was recently released on white vinyl by Kent Soul, an imprint of Ace Records. The twelve songs on Dreams All Come True document Jeanette Jones’ career at Leo Kulka’s Golden State Recorders. That however, is only part of Jeanette Jones’ story.

Details of Jeanette Jones’ early life are sketchy. It’s thought that she was born and brought up in San Francisco. That was where Jeanette Jones first discovered music. 

Just like many future soul singers, Jeanette Jones first started singing in church. That proved to be Jeanette Jones’ gateway into music. However, it was with the Voices Of Victory gospel choir that Jeanette Jones’ first came to prominence.

Cora Wilson had formed The Voices Of Victory gospel choir in 1962. Hers was no ordinary choir though. The Voices of Victory gospel choir featured sixty singers, who travelled the West Coast in their own bus. They sang in churches and at gospel conventions. It was an impressive sight and sound. Especially when the soloists enjoyed their moment in the spotlight. By 1965, one of the soloists was Jeanette Jones.

She was the owner of a impressive and powerful voice. When  Jeanette Jones stepped into the spotlight, she combined, power, passion and emotion. Given the her vocal prowess, it was no surprise that Jeanette Jones was one of the stars of The Voices Of Victory gospel choir. Everyone who heard them realised this. So too would Leo Kulka at Golden State Recorders.

Leo Kulka first encountered Jeanette Jones in November 1965. Cara Wilson had booked Golden State Recorders to record an album by The Voices Of Victory gospel choir. It was to be recorded at Golden State Recorders, and then a limited number of albums would be pressed. They would be sold after concerts. In a way, Cara Wilson was just testing the water, to see if there was a market for albums featuring her choir. However, Leo Kulka felt she was underselling her choir.

As the recording session got underway, at Golden State Recorders, Leo Kulka realised how good The Voices Of Victory gospel choir were. He knew they were recorded as one of the best choirs in the state, and when he heard them in the studio realised that their music deserved to be heard by a much wider audience. So did the voice of one of the choir’s soloists, Jeanette Jones.

Her voice stopped Leo Kulka in his tracks. It was a cut above the rest of the soloists. Jeanette Jones was capable of singing with power, but was always in control as she delivered the lyrics with emotion and sincerity. From the moment Leo Kulka heard Jeanette Jones sing, he promised himself he was going to sign her. So once the recording session was over, Leo Kulka approached Jeanette Jones, with a view to signing her.

Jeanette Jones wasn’t interested in signing a recording contract. She had no intention in crossing over, and instead, wanted to continue to do what she saw as the “Lord’s work” with The Voices Of Victory gospel choir. This must have  come as a surprise to Leo Kulka.

Back in 1965, most singers, including gospel singers, dreamt of signing a recording contract. Even if this meant crossing over from gospel to secular music. Jeanette Jones it appeared was the exception. That was until late 1967.

It wasn’t until late 1967, that  Leo Kulka next encountered Jeanette Jones. By then, things had changed for Jeanette Jones. Not only had she crossed over, and was singing secular music, but she also had acquired a manager, Jay Barrett. 

He didn’t come from a musical background. Instead, he was a banker who was based in Palo Alto. Although a relative newcomer to the music industry, Jay Barrett wasn’t content to be a manager, he also dreamt of forging a career as a songwriter. Jeanette Jones he hoped would go on to record some of these songs. So he went away to work on a proposal.

By then, Jeanette Jones had signed to Leo Kulka’s Golden Soul label. Leo Kulka was vastly experienced, and would be able to guide Jeanette Jones through the early stages of her recording career. Soon, though, Soon, Jay Barrett came up with a proposal. It stated that if Jeanette Jones was willing to record Jay Barrett’s songs, then he was willing to part finance the recording of a demo. This would be recorded Leo Kulka’s Golden State Recorders. Leo Kulka agreed to this, and began preparing for his first session with Jeanette Jones.

The recording session was scheduled to take place in February 1968. No expense was spared, and Leo Kulka began to put together an extensive backing band. There was a problem though. The songs that Jay Barrett had written were unsuited to Jeanette Jones in their present form.

They were poppy, and sounded like a remnant from earlier in the sixties. Soon, though, Leo Kulka had worked out a solution, backing vocalist. So Leo Kulka put in a call to Ramona King and her brother Cleo. 

Ramona King’s career began in 1962, when she signed to Eden Records. Since then, she had spent time at Warner Bros. Records, Amy and most recently, Action Records. Leo Kulka explained that he needed backing vocalists to accompany Jeanette Jones and help her add some much needed soulfulness to Jay Barrett’s songs. The Kings agreed, and when the recording sessions began, found themselves at Golden State Recorders.

At that first recording session, Jeanette Jones recorded a couple of Jay Barrett songs, Jealous Moon and Quittin’ The Blues. With the large ensemble accompanying her, the two songs were soon in the can, They were produced by Leo Kulka, with Jay Barrett receiving a co-production credit. The next step, was to try and interest another label in the songs.

Leo Kulka began shopping Jealous Moon and Quittin’ The Blues to various labels. However, none of the labels expressed an interest in releasing the songs. For Leo Kulka, this was a huge disappointment. So he dug deep into his contact book.

The man he decided to consult was Larry Goldberg, an independent producer based in Los Angeles. Larry Goldberg was part talent scout, part producer. Part of his time was spent finding and developing artists. Other times, he shopped his artists to major labels. Just like Leo Kulka, Larry Goldberg was vasty experienced. He also thought he might have the answer to Leo Kulka’s problem.

The answer Larry Goldberg thought, might lie in three backing tracks. This included the Ben Raleigh penned Break Someone Else’s Heart. Another possibility was Andy Badale and Albert Elias’ I Want Action, which had recently given Ruby Winters a hit. The third and final songs was Sam Russell’s Cut Loose, which had been arranged by H.B. Barnum. Having listened to the three pop soul cuts, Leo Kulka agreed that they had the potential to solve his problem. So he gave Jeanette Jones a call, and she made her way to Golden State Recorders.

Although Jeanette Jones was signed to Leo Kulka’s Golden Soul label, she was still singing with the Voices Of Victory gospel choir. Maybe she was keeping her options open, given the life of a professional singer could sometimes, be perilous? Careers were often short, unpredictable and unprofitable. Jeanette Jones must have realised this after her first recording session. Now was time to try once again.

Having listened to the trio of backing tracks, Jeanette Jones set about laying down vocals. She combined power and emotion, delivering an almost defiant vocal on Break Someone Else’s Heart. Then on Cut Loose, Jeanette Jones delivers a vocal tour de force, as horns and harmonies  accompany her vocal on this stomper. On the final song, I Want Action Jeanette Jones again combines power and emotion as she delivers a needy, hopeful vocal. Once the vocals were recorded, Jeanette Jones had had done her part. Now it was over to Leo Kulka.

His job was to shop the songs to various labels. Given the quality of the songs, Leo Kulka must have been confident of securing a deal for Jeanette Jones. Despite his best efforts, none of the labels he approached were interested in releasing the songs. Lightning had struck twice for Jeanette Jones.

She returned to the Voices Of Victory gospel choir. By the spring of 1969, Jeanette Jones was now fronting the Voices Of Victory gospel choir. They were one of the biggest and most successful gospel choirs on the West Coast. Despite this, Jeanette Jones returned to Golden State Recorders.

Still Jeanette Jones hadn’t given up on her dream of making a career out soul music. So she headed to Golden State Recorders. That was where she first encountered singer-songwriter Wally Cox. Leo Kulka had asked him to write a song that would showcase Jeanette Jones’ conferable vocal talents. He delivered a trio of songs, including Darling, I’m Standing By You. It was tailor made for Jeanette Jones.

At Golden State Recorders, Jeanette Jones prepared to record  Darling, I’m Standing By You. With Leo Kulka producing, Jeanette Jones delivered a spine-tingling, soul-baring, testifying vocal. Backing vocalists accompany her every step of the way, as Jeanette Jones combines gospel and soul, on what was a career defining moment. 

Meanwhile, Wally Cox went away and wrote two new songs. The Thought Of You was a beautiful mid-tempo ballad, that again, seemed tailor made for Jeanette Jones. She’s in a reflective mood, as she gives thanks for the love she’s found. Unlike some of the soul being released in 1969, it had a much more modern, contemporary sound. Wally Cox’s other composition was I’m Glad I Got Over You, which features a defiant Jeanette Jones as she delivers another vocal powerhouse against an urgent, driving arrangement. It’s another song with a much more contemporary sound, that could’ve and should’ve transformed Jeanette Jones’ career. Leo Kulka realised this.

So much so, that he was willing to release ‘Darling, I’m Standing By You and The Thought Of You’ on his own record label, Golden Soul. Leo Kulka hoped that the local R&B and gospel an radio stations would pickup on the single. This Leo Kulka hoped, would result in him being able to cut a distribution deal with a major label. That was the plan.

Leo Kulka had 1,000 copies of Darling, I’m Standing By You and The Thought Of You pressed. These copies he hoped would sell out, and the single would be picked up radio stations in the San Francisco area. However, the 1,000 copies of Darling, I’m Standing By You failed to sell, and Leo Kulka was back to square one.

While many people would’ve called it a day, Leo Kulka decided to use the single to shop Darling, I’m Standing By You to major labels. He took the single to Atlantic, but they turned the song down. Motown then passed on Darling, I’m Standing By You. Things weren’t looking good for Darling, I’m Standing By You, and Jeanette Jones’ career.

She had been trying to make a breakthrough since 1967, and was no nearer to doing so. Things however changed in 1971, when the Bihari brother agreed to release some of Leo Kulka’s releases on their Kent Records and Modern Records’ labels. One of the singles they chose to release was Jeanette Jones’ Darling, I’m Standing By You. Maybe, Jeanette Jones’ luck was changing?

Alas it wasn’t to be. Darling, I’m Standing By You failed commercially, and quickly, the single disappeared without trace. For Leo Kulka and Jeanette Jones it was a frustrating time. The single, Leo Kulka felt, hadn’t received sufficient promotion by Modern Records. So it was no surprise when it failed for commercially. By then, Jeanette Jones was beginning to rethink her future.

Following the commercial failure of Darling, I’m Standing By You, Jeanette Jones started to work as a session singer. She also worked with Mike Bloomfield on his Mill Valley Bunch project. They released their one and only album Casting Pearls on Verve Records in 1972. Soon, though, Jeanette Jones began to look beyond music.

Jeanette Jones began to do some voiceover work, and was chosen as the voice of the Swiss Colony Wine radio campaign. It was also around this time, that Jeanette Jones began to do some modelling. This kept her busy, and gradually, Jeanette Jones seemed to lose interest in music. Indeed, she only returned to Golden State Recorders one more time.

This was in 1974, when Jeanette Jones headed to Golden State Recorders to record a publishing demo for Barry Goldberg, who a friend of both Mike Bloomfield and Leo Kulka. During that last session, Jeanette Jones cut two tracks penned by Gerry Goffin and Barry Goldberg. The first was You’d Be Good For Me a pulsating slice of uber funky music. Very different was What Have You Got To Gain By Losing Me? It’s a truly beautiful, heart wrenching ballad that showcased Jeanette Jones’ ability to breath life, meaning and emotion into a song. Sadly, after the publishing demo for Barry Goldberg, Jeanette Jones turned her back on music.

Since then, nothing has been heard of her, and the Jeanette Jones’ story is a case of what might have been. She could’ve and should’ve enjoyed commercial success and critical acclaim. Jeanette Jones certainly didn’t lack talent. Quite the opposite

Jeanette Jones was a hugely talented singer, who had the ability to breath life, meaning and emotion into lyrics. She could combine power and passion, and seamlessly switch between ballads and uptempo tracks. Despite her undoubted talent, sadly, Jeanette Jones never made a breakthrough. It was a case of what might have been.

That is despite Leo Kulka championing Jeanette Jones. He produced her, and then shopped the songs to bigger labels. Sadly, only once did a single get picked up by a bigger record, Darling, I’m Standing By You. Even when that happened in 1971, Modern Records didn’t promote the single sufficiently. Maybe this lead to Jeanette Jones considering her future?

After four years struggling to make a breakthrough, maybe reality kicked in and Jeanette Jones realised that not all dreams come true? It was certainly around this time that Jeanette Jones began to work as a session singer. After this, the only time Jeanette Jones returned to a recording studio was to record a publishing demo for Barry Goldberg, Ironically, during that session, Jeanette Jones recorded one of her finest songs What Have You Got To Gain By Losing Me? It’s a poignant reminder of Jeanette Jones, and features on Dreams All Come True, which was recently released on white vinyl by Kent Soul, an imprint of Ace Records. The twelve tracks on Dreams All Come True, also document what was a case of what might have been.

What if Jeanette Jones has signed to Leo Kulka’s Golden State in 1965, when he recorded The Voices Of Victory gospel choir? However, Jeanette Jones wanted to continue doing the “Lord’s work.” Maybe by the time she changed her mind in 1967, it was too late? Music was changing, and changing fast. Suddenly the musical landscape was totally different. There is also the possibility that Jeanette Jones was neither driven nor determined enough to make a career out of music. Deep down, maybe Jeanette Jones knew that enjoying a successful career as singer was a long shot, and very few succeeded? That would be ironic, as Jeanette Jones had what it took to enjoy a long and successful career in music.  Dreams All Come True is proof of this.

JEANETTE JONES-DREAMS ALL COME TRUE.

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TRIUMPH AND TRAGEDY, THE STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN STORY.

TRIUMPH AND TRAGEDY, THE STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN STORY.

Stevie Ray Vaughan’s career is a story of triumph and tragedy. He spent eleven years struggling to make a breakthrough. During that period, Stevie Ray Vaughan spent six years as a sideman. This was akin to a musical  apprenticeship for Stevie Ray Vaughan. Having  served his apprenticeship, Stevie Ray Vaughan headed out on his own in 1977.

Stevie Ray Vaughan formed Triple Threat Revue, who would  later, become Double Trouble. They announced their arrival with a barnstorming set at 1982s Montreux Jazz Festival. This resulted in Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble being signed to Epic.

Just over a year later, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble released their debut album Texas Flood in 1983. It went on to sell over two million copies, and was certified platinum. This was triumph in the story of Stevie Ray Vaughan. The tragedy came just seven years later.

On August 27th 1990, tragedy struck, when Stevie Ray Vaughan was killed in a helicopter crash. The Texan blues man was just thirty-six, and had only enjoyed seven years in the spotlight. During that period, it seemed that Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble could do no wrong. They had released albums sold over eight million albums. It was a far cry from when Stevie Ray Vaughan dropped out of high school, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and embarked upon life as a blues man.

College or university Stevie Ray Vaughan decided, wasn’t for him. He had known that for a while. Maybe longer than he realised? After all, Stevie Ray Vaughan had been playing the guitar most of his young life.

Stevie Ray Vaughan was born in Dallas, Texas on October 3rd 1954. After watching his brother Jimmie play his guitar, seven year old Stevie Ray Vaughan picked up a guitar for the first time. Soon, he was hooked, and was determined to master the guitar. 

By the time Stevie Ray Vaughan, he had mastered the guitar, and music became more important than getting an education. Eventually, he began to think of making a living out of music. After all, neither college nor university Stevie Ray Vaughan decided wasn’t for him. He had known that for a while. Instead, he wanted to play the blues. This many thought was just a pipe dream, a phase he was going through and eventually, Stevie would settle down. However, in 1971, Stevie Ray Vaughan dropped out of hight school and embarked upon a career as a blues man.  

Ever since Stevie Ray Vaughan dropped out of high school in 1971, he had been playing the blues. Having played in a series of bands, Stevie’s break came when he started playing with Marc Benno’s band The Nightcrawlers. After The Nighcrawlers, Stevie played with Danny Freeman in The Cobras. For Stevie, this was all part of his musical apprenticeship. Then in 1977, Stevie Ray Vaughan went from sideman to bandleader, when he formed Triple Threat Revue. 

Triple Threat Revue would later become Double Trouble. This came about, when Stevie Ray Vaughan brought onboard the rhythm section of drummer Chris Layton and bassist Tommy Shannon. It was with Double Trouble at his side, that Stevie Ray Vaughan announced his arrival at 1982s Montreux Jazz Festival.

That night, at 1982s Montreux Jazz Festival, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble announced their arrival. Stevie, playing vintage guitars, eschewed the use of effects. Effects were used sparingly during his performance. While Stevie turned his back on effects, he and Double Trouble liked to crank the sound up. To do this, they combined a series of amplifiers. This made the audience sit up and take notice. What they saw was a a blistering, virtuoso performance. By the time Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble left the stage, at 1982s Montreux Jazz Festival their star was in the ascendancy.

Eleven months later, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble released their debut album Texas Flood on Epic. It sold over two million copies, and was certified double platinum. This was the start of the rise and rise, of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble.

Texas Flood.

Before they signed to Epic, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble headed to Jackson Browne’s recording studio in Los Angeles. Between 22nd to 24th November 1982, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble recorded ten tracks that would become their debut album, Texas Flood. 

At Jackson Browne’s recording studio, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble hooked up with engineer Richard Mullen. He would co-produced Texas Flood with Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble.

Texas Flood featured ten tracks. Five were penned by Stevie, who also cowrote Dirty Pool with drummer Doyle Bramhall. Along with covers of Howlin’ Wolf’s Tell Me and Buddy Guy’s Mary Had a Little Lamb, these tracks became eventually become Texas Flood. 

On the first of the three days at Jackson Browne’s recording studio, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble spent setting up their equipment. The next two days, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble recorded what would become Texas Flood. Now all Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble needed, was a label to release Texas Flood.

In early 1983, Epic signed Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble. Epic having heard the master tapes of Texas Flood, decided it needed remastered. So, a $65,000 advance was given to remaster the recordings. The advance also allowed Stevie to lay down his vocals at Riverside Sound in Austin, Texas. Then on June 13th 1983, Texas Flood was released.

When Texas Flood was released, it was mostly, well received by critics. No wonder, Stevie Ray Vaughan was easily, one of music’s most exciting guitarists. However, Rolling Stone magazine and Robert Christgau, forever the contrarians, weren’t won over by Texas Flood. This didn’t affect sales of Texas Flood, which reached number thirty-eight in the US Billboard 200. Having sold two million copies, Texas Flood was certified double platinumin America and Canada. Following the success of Texas Flood, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble headed out on a gruelling tour.

On 20th July 1983, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble found themselves in Toronto. That night, they played at The El Mocambo. The concert was broadcast live, with Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, billed as a A Legend In The Making. 

Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble made their way through eight tracks. They were a mixture of original tracks and cover versions. Tracks from Texas Flood and Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble’s sophomore album Couldn’t Stand the Weather, sat side-by-side. These eight tracks were a tantalising taste of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble live. Following the concert at The El Mocambo, the tour continued, before Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble returned to the studio in January 1984. 

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Couldn’t Stand the Weather.

Just like Texas Flood, Couldn’t Stand the Weather, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble’s sophomore album Stevie penned half the tracks. He wrote four of the eight tracks. The other four tracks were cover versions, including a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s Voodoo Child (Slight Return). These eight tracks were recorded at The Power Station, New York.

Over nineteen days at The Power Station, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble recorded Couldn’t Stand the Weather. Producing Couldn’t Stand the Weather, were Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, Richard Mullen and Jim Capter. From the minute Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble laid down their cover of Tin Pan Alley, it was obvious to those in the control room that, here was a band at the top of their game.

That proved to be the case. On the release of Couldn’t Stand the Weather, on 15th May 1984, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble’s fusion of blues rock, electric blues and Texas rock, won friends and influenced people. This included the programmers at MTV. They put the video for Couldn’t Stand the Weather on heavy rotation. For Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble this meant their music reached a much wider audience.

Then when critics heard Couldn’t Stand the Weather, it received widespread critical acclaim. Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble were now being hailed as the saviour of the blues. It had fallen out of fashion long ago. The problem was, the blues hadn’t evolved since the advent of the electric guitar. As a result, the blues was on life-support and close to breathing its last. Then came Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, a blue group who were on MTV. This was as game-changer.

Especially when Couldn’t Stand the Weather was released on May 15th 1984, and  reached number thirty-one on the US Billboard 200 charts. This resulted in Couldn’t Stand the Weather being certified double platinum in America and platinum in Canada. It seemed that Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble could do no wrong. 

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Soul To Soul.

In March 1985, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble returned to the studio. This time, they headed to the Dallas Sound Lab.  Between March and May 1985, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble recorded  the ten tracks that became Soul To Soul. 

For Soul To Soul, Stevie only penned four of the ten tracks. They were Only Say What, Ain’t Gone ‘N’ Give Up On Love, Empty Arms and Life Without You. Drummer Doyle Bramhall contributed Lookin’ Out the Window and Change It. The other tracks were cover versions, including Willie Dixon’s You’ll Be Mine and Earl King’s Come On. Just like Texas Flood, Soul To Soul was co-produced by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble and Richard Mullen. Soul To Soul would be released on September 30th 1985. However, before that, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble made a triumphant return to where it all began, the Montreux Jazz Festival.

Three years after making their breakthrough at 1982s Montreux Jazz Festival, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble returned to where it all began. They played a storming ten song set. That night, just like three years earlier, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble had the audience enthralled. Here was the most exciting blues band in the world. Since their Montreux debut, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble had sold four million albums in America alone. Before long, four would become five.

On the release of Soul To Soul, it was well received by critics. Soul To Soul received the same critical acclaim as their two previous albums. Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble were regarded as the most exciting blues band in the world. They were also one of the most successful.

Change It, one of two singles released from Soul To Soul, found flavour with MTV programmers. It reached number seventeen on the US Rock charts.  Despite this, Soul To Soul wasn’t as big a commercial success as Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble’s two previous albums. 

Soul To Soul was released on September 30th 1985. However, the album reached number thirty-four in the US Billboard 200 charts, and was certified platinum. In Canada, where Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble’s two previous albums were certified platinum, Soul To Soul was only certified gold. This was a troubling time for Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble.

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Live Alive.

After the release of Soul To Soul, it would be four years before Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble released another album. During this period, Stevie’s appetite for drink and drugs couldn’t be sated. After breakfast, Stevie would begin his daily diet of a quart of whiskey and a quarter ounce of cocaine. This was Stevie’s daily diet. It would’ve killed most people. Not Stevie. He continued to record and play live. One of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble live performances was released in July 1986, as Live Alive.

Live Alive was a double album recorded during 1985 and 1986s Live Alive tour. Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble swagger their way through fourteen tracks on Live Alive. Despite his chaotic lifestyle, Stevie was still one of the best blues guitarists of his generation. Backed by the tightest of rhythm sections, Stevie unleashes a series of blistering performances. Whether it’s original songs or cover versions, they come alive in Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble’s hands. As a result, critics and record buyers were won over by Live Alive.

Most critics gave Live Alive positive reviews. A few critics disagreed. However, that’s not surprising. Live albums always divide the opinion or critics. Not record buyers. When Live and Alive was released in July 1986, it reached number fifty-two in the US Billboard 200 charts. Although this was the lowest chart placing of any Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble album, Live Alive was certified platinum in America and Canada.  This would be the last album Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble would release for three years.

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In Step.

By the time Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble returned with their fourth album, In Step, Stevie was a changed man. Gone was the hard living, wild man, with the insatiable appetite for drink and drugs. This was reflected in some of the songs on In Step.

For In Step, Stevie only wrote two tracks, Travis Walk and Riviera Paradise. However, Stevie cowrote four tracks with Doyle Bramhall. This included Wall of Denial and Tightrope, which reflect Stevie’s newfound sobriety. Along with covers of Willie Dixon’s Let Me Love You Baby, Buddy Guy’s Leave My Girl Alone and Howlin’ Wolf’s Love Me Darlin,’ these songs became In Step.

Recording of In Step began on January 25th 1989 and lasted right through to March 13th 1989. Further sessions took place at Kiva Sudios, Memphis, and then in Los Angeles at Sound Castle and Summa Studios, where Double Trouble and Jim Gaines co-produced In Step. Once In Step was finished, it was released on June 6th 1989.

When In Step was released on June 6th 1989, the album was well received by critics. Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble’s  fused of blues, rock and soul  on In Step, which was perceived as an incredibly honest, personal and autobiographical album. This appealed to record buyers. 

On In Step’s release, it reached number thirty-three in the US Billboard 200 charts. This resulted in In Step being certified double platinum in America, and platinum in Canada.  Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble were the most successful blues bands of the eighties,

Since 1983s Texas Flood, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble had sold eight million albums. Sadly, In Step was the final Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble album released during Stevie’s lifetime.

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Tragedy struck for Stevie Ray Vaughan on August 26th 1990. After playing two shows with Eric Clapton at the Alpine Valley Music Theatre, in East Troy, Wisconsin, some  of the musicians were due to fly to Chicago. This included Stevie Ray Vaughan. He made his way to one of the four helicopters waiting on a nearby golf course. However, there was a problem.

Witnesses report that that night, the skies weren’t clear. Instead, there was fog, haze and low cloud. This was far from ideal flying conditions. Despite this, the helicopters took off. Joining Stevie Ray Vaughan in the third helicopter, were three of Eric Clapton’s entourage. Once the passengers and crew were ready, the Bell 206A JetRanger helicopter took off, en route for the Merge Field, in the Windy City at 12.50 a.m. 

As the helicopter made its way from East Troy, Wisconsin to Merge Field, Chicago, the pilots were instructed to fly over a 1000-foot ski hill. Given the inclement weather conditions, this seemed a strange route. It had disastrous consequences.

By the time the helicopter took off from, it was now the 27th August 1990. As the helicopter climbed high into the night sky, it suddenly, veered to the left and crashed into the ski hill. It was later discovered that the helicopter crashed just fifty feet from the summit. For everybody on board it had been a case of so close, yet so far. 

At 4.30 a.m, the Civil Air Patrol were told about the incident. It took them three hours to locate the crash site. When they did, they were able to ascertain that there were no survivors. That day, music lost one of its most talented and charismatic sons, Stevie Ray Vaughan.

The Texan blues man was only thirty-five. Stevie Ray Vaughan had only released four studio albums and one live album. However, these albums sold over eight million copies, making Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble the most successful blues bands of the eighties.  

Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble almost single handedly, revived interest in blues music. Suddenly, there was a resurgence in interest in what was an almost a moribund musical genre. Not any more. Throughout the eighties, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble’s unique brand of blues rock reached a new, and much wider audience. Playing an important part in the rise and rise of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble was MTV. 

A number of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble’s tracks were on heavy rotation on MTV. Suddenly, a new generation had been introduced to the blues by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble. They were their gateway to a whole wider body of work. However, tragically, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble’s amounts to just the five albums released during Stevie Ray Vaughan’s lifetime. 

Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble’s swan-song was In Step, which was released on June 6th 1989, some twenty-seven years ago. However, still, a new generation of  musicians cite Stevie Ray Vaughan as an influence. No wonder; he was one of the greatest blues guitarists of his generation. Sadly, Stevie Ray Vaughan was only in the spotlight for seven years.

During the seven years that Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble’s star was in the ascendancy, they released four studio albums and one live album. Their swan-song was In Step, which was released in 1989. By then, Stevie had turned his life around. No longer was he living the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle.

Stevie Ray Vaughan was a changed man. Gone was the hard living, wild man, with the insatiable appetite for drink and drugs. The change in Stevie Ray Vaughan was reflected on In Step’s lyrics. It introduced the listener to a new, changed Stevie Ray Vaughan. They liked what they heard, and In Step reached number thirty-three in the US Billboard 200 charts. This resulted in In Step being certified double platinum in America, and platinum in Canada. Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble looked like becoming one of the biggest bands of the nineties. They had already sold over eight million copies between 1982 and 1989.

Sadly, that never happened. On August 27th 1990 Stevie Ray Vaughan was killed in a helicopter crash. He was only thirty-five years old. That day music lost one of its most charismatic and talented sons, Stevie Ray Vaughan. His life is one of triumph and ultimately tragedy, but one that will never be forgotten.

TRIUMPH AND TRAGEDY, THE STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN STORY.

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THE SHORT-LIVED STORY OF FOTHERINGAY.

THE SHORT-LIVED STORY OF FOTHERINGAY.

When Sandy Denny left Fairport Convention in December 1969, the reason she gave, was that the wanted to hone her skills as a songwriter. However, less than a year after her departure from Fairport Convention, Sandy Denny formed a new group, Fotheringay. Although Fotheringay were a short lived band, they certainly made a lasting impression on British folk music.

The Fotheringay story began in 1970, not long after Sandy Denny’s departure from Fairport Convention. Sandy decided to put together a new band. One of the first musicians she brought onboard was guitarist Trevor Lucas. 

He had been born in Australia, but was now based in Britain. Trevor was now a familiar face in the British folk scene. Previously, Trevor was a member of Eclection. That’s when Trevor met Sandy Denny. The pair started dating in May 1969, and eventually, married in 1973. However, Trevor’s career began back in Australia, in the early sixties.

Back then, Trevor Lucas was a solo artist. He released his debut solo album See That My Grave Is Kept Clean in 1964. Then on New Year’s Eve Trevor boarded a ship and made the journey from Australia to Britain. That’s when he became a member of Eclection, and met drummer Gerry Conway.

Eclection were a folk-rock band, who were formed in 1967, and broke up two years later in 1969. However, by then, Trevor Lucas and Gerry Conway were firm friends. They renewed their musical partnership in Fotheringay.

Gradually, Sandy’s new band was taking shape. The final pieces in the musical jigsaw were two former members of the Poet and the One Man Band. Guitarist Jerry Donahue had moved from Manhattan to Britain,  where he quickly became stalwart of the folk scene. This wasn’t surprising.  Jerry’s father was big band saxophonist Sam Donohue. However, Jerry wasn’t inspired by his father. Instead, Gerry McGee, Earl Scruggs, Chet Atkins and Duane Eddy inspired Jerry, who in 1970, joined Fotheringay with Edinburgh born bassist Pat Donaldson.

By 1970, Pat Donaldson was a familiar face in the London music scene. He had moved to London in the early sixties. Since then, he had been a member of Bob Xavier and the Jury,  Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band and the reformed Dantalian’s Chariot. Fotheringay was just the latest group the twenty-seven year old bassist work with. 

With the lineup of her new band finalised, all Sandy Denny needed was a name for the band. She decided on Fotheringay, after Fotheringay Castle where Mary Queen Of Scots was imprisoned. With its lineup complete and a name in place, Sandy Denny’s new band could begin work on their debut album.

Fotheringay.

Sandy Denny didn’t waste any time recording Fotheringay’s debut album. She wrote four tracks and cowrote Peace in the End with Trevor Lucas. He also penned The Ballad of Ned Kelly. Other tracks included covers of Gordon Lightfoot’s The Way I Feel, Bob Dylan’s Too Much Of Nothing and Banks of the Nile. These ten tracks were recorded between February and April, 1970 at Sound Techniques, in London with Joe Boyd producing what became Fotheringay. 

Once Fotheringay was completed, the album was released in June 1970. It was one of the most eagerly awaited albums of the year. Both critics and record buyers  awaited with interest the release of Fotheringay’s eponymous debut album with interest and anticipation. Here was a group that had the potential, to be one of the biggest and most successful folk group.  

On the release of Fotheringay, critics weren’t disappointed. Quite the opposite. Critics hailed the album a masterful debut. Sandy Denny was back, and better than ever. Her enchanting, ethereal vocal was complimented by a tight, talented band. They won not just the critics, but record buyers.

Fotheringay sold well upon its release in June 1970, and reached number eighteen in Britain. Good as this was, it wasn’t good enough for Island Records. Their expectations and Fotheringay’s differed. Island Records hoped the album would be one of the label’s biggest selling albums. That wasn’t the case. This resulted in Island Records’ pressurising Sandy to embark upon a solo career.

Sandy Denny dug her heels in. She was determined to continue with Fotheringay. So work began on what was meant to be Fotheringay’s sophomore album.

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Fotheringay 2.

A total of eleven tracks were meant to feature on Fotheringay’s sophomore album. This time, Sandy Denny only wrote two songs. Trevor Lucas and Pete Roach penned Knights of the Road and Restless.Among the other tracks were traditional songs, a cover of Bob Dylan’s I Don’t Believe You and the Dave Cousins’ composition Two Weeks Last Summer. These eleven tracks were recorded by an expanded lineup of Fotheringay.

Joining the usual lineup of Fotheringay was Linda Thompson. She was going to add backing vocals when the sessions began in November 1970. The sessions continued into December 1970. Everyone thought that things were going to plan. Sadly, that wasn’t the case.

In January 1971, it was announced that Fotheringay were no more. The band broke up and what would eventually become Fotheringay 2 was shelved. The songs were in various states of completion. Fotheringay 2 wasn’t an album in the true sense of the word. There was a lot to do before Fotheringay 2 could be released. However, back in 1971, it seemed unlikely that  Fotheringay 2 would be released. This would change in 2008.

Although Fotheringay 2 wasn’t complete, and to some extent, was work-in-progress, a decision was made to release the album in 2008. Using editing and modern recording techniques, the album was completed by Jerry Donohue and the other surviving band members. By then, several of the tracks had been released.

The two Trevor Lucas and Pete Roach compositions found their way onto two Fairport Convention albums. Knights of the Road featured on the 1973 album Rosie; while Restless found its way onto the 1975 album Rising For The Moon album. Fairport Convention even decided to record the Bob Dylan song I Don’t Believe You for their album Nine. Despite recording I Don’t Believe You, it never made it onto Nime when it was released in 1973. By then, Sandy Denny had recorded several Fotheringay songs for her solo albums.

When Sandy Denny was choosing material for her debut album The North Star Grassman And The Ravens, the decided to cover a trio of tracks that had been recorded for Fotheringay 2. Late November, John The Gun and The North Star Grassman And The Ravens all found their way onto Sandy Denny’s 1971 debut album. Then for Sandy’s 1974 album Rendezvous, she decided to record Silver Threads and Golden Needles. Belatedly, the song made its debut. So would Fotheringay 2 in 2008.

When Fotheringay 2 was released, the long lost album was well received. It was a reminder of Fotheringay’s potential. If they had stayed together, they could’ve become one of the great British folk bands. That critics said, was apparent by listening to Fotheringay 2. However, critics wondered what Fotheringay 2 would’ve sounded like if more time had been spent on the album? Would Fotheringay 2 have become one of the great British folk albums?  Sadly, that wasn’t to be and it was a case of what might have been.

If Fotheringay hadn’t split-up in January 1971, would they have become a serious rival to Fairport Convention for the title of Britain’s premier folk-rock band. While that might seem unlikely, Fotheringay had something Fairport Convention didn’t…Sandy Denny. Her enchanting, ethereal vocal was at the heart of the sound and success of Fotheringay. So was her songwriting skills.

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That’s why Sandy Denny left Fairport Convention. She wanted to improve as a songwriter. While she formed Fotheringay not long after leaving Fairport Convention, Sandy Denny was already a talented songwriter. She got the chance to shine on Fotheringay’s 1970 eponymous debut album. Not only did Sandy pen four tracks, but she wrote Peace in the End with Trevor Lucas. It seemed away from Fairport Convention, Sandy Denny was maturing as a singer and songwriter. Maybe, it was because was Fotheringay was her band? No longer was she surrounded by strong personalities who maybe, overshadowed Sandy. Given time, Sandy Denny’s new group could’ve rivalled Fairport Convention.

Sadly, that wasn’t to be. When Fotheringay reached a respectable number eighteen in 1970, this wasn’t good enough for Island Records. They started whispering in Sandy Denny’s ear, encouraging her to embark upon a solo career. While this wasn’t what Sandy Denny wanted, it would be financially advantageous to Island Records. However, Sandy Denny wanted to continue with Fotheringay. Sadly, Fotheringay was short-lived.

In January 1971, the announcement came, that Fotheringay had split-up. Island Records got their wish. Sandy Denny embarked upon a solo career. 

The Solo Years.

Her debut album was The North Star Grassman and the Ravens. It was released in September 1971, and featured Late November, John The Gun and The North Star Grassman And The Ravens, which were meant to feature on Fotheringay 2. Critical acclaim accompanied the release of The North Star Grassman and the Ravens. Sandy Denny it seemed, could do no wrong.

A year later, Sandy Denny released her sophomore album Sandy in September 1974. It was released to the same critical acclaim as The North Star Grassman and the Ravens. However, Sandy surpassed the quality of The North Star Grassman and the Ravens. Indeed, it would prove to be the best album of her solo career.

It wasn’t until 1974, that Sandy Denny released Like an Old Fashioned Waltz followed in June 1974. The album saw a philosophical Sandy consider themes like loneliness, fear of the dark, the passing of time and even the changing seasons. Essentially, Sandy was fixating on growing old and death. That would prove ironic

When Like an Old Fashioned Waltz was released, critics noticed Sandy’s stylistic departure. Pop and folk featured heavily. It seemed Island Records were trying to turn Sandy Denny into something she wasn’t. Maybe that’s why Sandy returned to Fairport Convention.

A Return To Fairport Convention.

Sandy rejoined Fairport Convention in 1974. By then, Sandy’s husband Trevor Lucas was also a member. They joined for the Fairport Convention’s world tour. It was captured on the 1974 live album Fairport Live Convention. Sadly, Sandy and Trevor left Fairport Convention in 1975. Their swan-song was Rising For The Moon.

 The Solo Years Take 2.

Following her second departure from Fairport Convention, Sandy returned to her solo career. Soon, she began work on what before her fourth solo album Rendezvous. One of the songs Sandy recorded was Silver Threads And Golden Needles. It had been recorded during the Fotheringay 2 sessions. However, Sandy decided to review the song for her fourth solo album Rendezvous.

She released Rendezvous in May 1977. Rendezvous saw Sandy embrace a contemporary rock sound. This was very different from previous albums. Still, Rendezvous was reasonably well received by critics. However, they noted that Rendezvous didn’t match the quality of The North Star Grassman And The Ravens and Sandy. Not long after the reviews were published, Rendezvous was released. Now record buyers could have the final say on Rendezvous.

Despite touring Britain promoting Rendezvous, the album didn’t sell well. The final night of the tour took place on 27th November 1977, at the Royalty Theatre, in London. It was recorded and was meant to be released as a live album, Gold Dust. Problems with the guitars meant this didn’t happen until 1998, when Gerry Donhue rerecorded the guitars. Ironically, that ill-fated concert was Sandy Denny’s swan-song.

When Rendezvous failed commercially, Island Records dropped Sandy. She was already drinking heavily, smoking and snorting cocaine. Her behaviour became erratic. Sandy was also suffering from severe headaches. So a doctor prescribed a distalgesic. However, Sandy continued to drink. Whether this played a part in a fall she had in late March 1978 is unknown. What we know, is that tragedy struck on 17th April 1978. 

That night, Sandy Denny was admitted to the Atkinson Morley Hospital in Wimbledon. She fell into a coma, and four days later, on 21st April 1978, Sandy Denny died. The cause of Sandy’s death was a brain haemorrhage and blunt force trauma. It’s likely that when Sandy Denny fell, this played a contributory factor in her death. Tragically, Sandy Denny was only thirty-one. That day, British folk music lost one of finest voices.

While Sandy Denny is remembered for her two spells with Fairport Convention and four solo albums, often her time with Fortheringay is often overlooked. That’s a great shame, as Sandy Denny’s short-lived other group features Sandy Denny at the peak of her powers. With Sandy Denny at the helm, Fotheringay could’ve gone on to rival Fairport Convention. Sadly, they never got the opportunity to do so, and the Fotheringay story was over before it had began. It’s Sandy Denny’s “other,” sometimes forgotten and short-lived group.

THE SHORT-LIVED STORY OF FOTHERINGAY.

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RHYTHM ’N’ BLUESIN’ BY THE BAYOU-NIGHTS OF SIN, DIRTY DEALS AND LOVE SICK SOULS.

RHYTHM ’N’ BLUESIN’ BY THE BAYOU-NIGHTS OF SIN, DIRTY DEALS AND LOVE SICK SOULS.

The state of Louisiana means different things to different people. For some, it’s the state’s rich literary heritage. One of its most famous writers was Tennessee Williams, the author of A Street Car Named Desire. Then there’s Anna Rice the nineteenth century author of metaphysical gothic fiction. Her best known work was Interview With A Vampire. However, Ernest Gaines managed to incorporate in his play A Lesson Before Dying, another thing Louisiana is famous for, cuisine.

In A Lesson Before Dying, one of Ernest Gaines’ characters utters the immortal line, “gumbo can be eaten at any time.” That’s the case is Louisiana, where gumbo is a delicacy. So is jambalaya, crawfish boil and a po boy sandwich. It’s a staple of Louisiana, especially in New Orleans during the Mardi Gras. So is music, another thing New Orleans and the rest of Louisiana is famous for.

It’s no exaggeration to say that Louisiana has a rich musical heritage. This was where Allen Toussaint, Dr. John, Harold Batiste, Irma Thomas, Jerry Lee Lewis, Louis Armstrong, the Neville Brothers, Professor Longhair and Tami Lynn were all born. Most of their careers have been well documented. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg, when it comes to Louisiana’s rich and vibrant music scene.

That’s been the case right back to the blues men like Leadbelly, Silas Hogan, Slim Harpo, Pee Wee Whitaker and T-Bone Shingleton were providing the soundtrack to life in Louisiana. Since then, musical soundtrack has changed many times. However, whether it was jazz, bluegrass, country, rockabilly, R&B, soul, swamp pop or zydeco, still Louisiana’s music scene was rich and vibrant. Despite that, Louisiana’s rich musical heritage has been overlooked by compilers.

Until fairly recently, record companies looking to compile a new compilation, followed the well trodden path to Chicago, Detroit, Memphis, Philly and New York. One place they constantly overlooked was Louisiana. That was until Ian Saddler decided to explore the the musical delights of Louisiana.

Ian Saddler knew there were rich pickings to be found in  Louisiana. So he headed south, and embarked upon an musical voyage of discovery. What he was looking for, was enough music for his first volume of the By The Bayou series, which would be released by Ace Records. When Ian arrived in Louisiana, he was in for a pleasant surprise.

There was a musical treasure trove that was awaiting Ian Saddler’s discovery. Even Ian Saddler must have been overwhelmed by what he discovered. So vast was this treasure trove of musical delights, that Ian Saddler must have known there was enough for several volumes in the By The Bayou series. That depended on the success of the first volume in the By The Bayou series.

Following the success of the first instalment in the By The Bayou series, Ian Saddler got to work on a second volume. Then came a third, fourth and fifth volume. The By The Bayou series looked like it could run and run. 

Fast forward a couple of years, and the fourteenth volume in Ian Saddler’s By The Bayou series has just been released. Rhythm ’N’ Bluesin’ By The Bayou-Nights Of Sin, Dirty Deals and Love Sick Souls, which was recently released by Ace Records, is the fifth volume of Louisiana rhythm ‘n’ blues. It features twenty-eight tracks. They’re a mixture of familiar faces, rarities, alternate takes and unreleased tracks. This includes contributions from Chris Kenner, Lester Robertson, Barbara Lynn, Jay Nelson, Leroy Washington, Little Victor, Big Walter Price and Classie Ballou. Some of the artists on Rhythm ’N’ Bluesin’ By The Bayou-Nights Of Sin, Dirty Deals and Love Sick Souls feature more than once.  Often, their first contribution is so good, that they return for an encore on Rhythm ’N’ Bluesin’ By The Bayou-Nights Of Sin, Dirty Deals and Love Sick Souls. It you’ll realise, is a welcome addition to what’s now one of the most successful and longest running compilation series, By The Bayou.

Opening Rhythm ’N’ Bluesin’ By The Bayou-Nights Of Sin, Dirty Deals and Love Sick Souls is Chris Kenner’s Grandma’s House. It was released on the B-Side of his single Don’t Let Her Pin That Charge On Me. It was released on the Baton label on 7th February 1956. Grandma’s House was penned by Chris Kenner, and was recorded in New Orleans. It’s an irresistible slice of R&B from Chris Kenner, that whets the listener’s appetite for the rest of the compilation.

Lester Robertson is one of the artists on Rhythm ’N’ Bluesin’ By The Bayou-Nights Of Sin, Dirty Deals and Love Sick Souls that features three times. His first contribution is an alternate take of Oh Babe. The original was produced by Sam Montel, and then released as a single on Montel Record Co, in 1959. Oh Babe is piano driven fusion rock ’n’ roll and R&B. Very different is Lester Robertson’s second contribution. 

Please Don’t Go was recorded by Lester Robertson at J.D. Miller’s studio. Sadly, this needy, soul-baring ballad lay unreleased until discovered by Bruce Bastin of Flyright Records. It featured on the 1977 compilation Louisiana Swamp Pop. Belatedly, this hidden gem was able to be heard by the record buying public.

Barbara Lynn was born in Beaumont in 1942, and throughout high school, played in bands. However, towards the end of her school days, Barbara Lynn changed direction musically when she saw Elvis. Soon, she was playing in blues clubs. That was blues man Clarence Garlow first encountered Barbara Lynn. Realising she had potential, Clarence Garlow setup a recording session with Eddie Shuler of Goldband. 

At that session, Barbara Lynn covered Smiley Lewis’ One Night and Sam Cooke’s Love You Most Of All. Both tracks are a tantalising taste of a truly talented singer, as she breathes life and meaning into these bluesy songs. Incredibly, after the session, Eddie Shuler decided not to sign Barbara Lynn to Goldband. He had passed up the chance to sign Barbara Lynn. It wasn’t until 1961 that singer-songwriter Joe Barry discovered Barbara Lynn. This was the start of a long and successful career. However, maybe history would’ve been different if Eddie Shuler  had signed Barbara Lynn?

Jay Nelson was still a teenager when his recording career began. He was born in Jeanerette, Louisiana in 1939, and by the mid-fifties, was recording for J.D. Miller and Eddie Shuler. Betty Ann was a song Jay Nelson recorded during this period. It’s a beautiful heartfelt, paean which sadly, lay unreleased until 1977. That’s when it featured on the 1977 Flyright Records’ compilation. Belatedly, this beautiful hidden gem of a ballad found the audience it deserved. 

Lafayette born Little Victor is another artist who features twice on Rhythm ’N’ Bluesin’, Little Victor drops the tempo on the unreleased track Please Be There, and delivers a needy, hopeful vocal. What Is Love was the flip-side to Little Victor’s 1961 single Papa Lou And Gran. It was released on the Richmond label, and has a pleasant surprise on the B-Side, What Is Love. Hurt, heartbreak and betrayal fill Little Victor’s vocal on what’s an outpouring of raw emotion.

Pleasant Joseph was born in a rice plantation in Wallace, Louisiana in 1907. By the time he was a teenager, he was playing music on street corners. This was just the start of a career as a musician. 

Before the thirties gave way to the forties, blues man Smilin’ Joe was a familiar face in the clubs of New Orleans where he was making a living as a jazz musician. However, by the forties, Smilin’ Joe was a piano playing blues man. He cut a couple of singles as Smilin’ Joe, including  Living On Borrowed Time in 1955. It was released on Flip, and featured Love Sick Soul on the B-Side. Both songs were written by Pleasant Joseph, and are a reminder of talented songwriter and versatile singer and musician. 

Leroy Washington is a veteran of the By The Bayou series. His contribution here, is an alternate take of his most famous track, Wild Cherry. It was recorded for J.D. Miller, but was never released until 1977. That’s when it found its way onto the Flyright Records’ Leroy Washington compilation Wild Cherry. It’s a reminder of a hugely talented singer and musician, who tragically, passed away in 1966, aged just thirty-four.

Classie Ballou features four times on the compilation. Just two of those appearances are as a solo artist. They were recorded at J.D. Miller’s studios. This includes the previously unreleased instrumental Crowley Stroll. It’s the perfect showcase for Classie Ballou’s skills as a guitarist. So is Version 2 of Hey Ma Ma, which lay unreleased until 1976. That was when the song was rediscovered and featured on a Flyright Records compilation Rock Me All Night Long. Its  track list features some of the most talented singers and musicians from Louisiana, including Classie Ballou.

Ivory Jackson is best known as the drummer for Cookie and The Cupcakes. Occasionally, Ivory Jackson put down his drumsticks and enjoyed a recording career as a vocalist. He worked with Eddie Shuler, who he recorded Clautelia for. Sadly, this piano driven paean wasn’t released until 1976, when it featured on a Flyright Records’ compilation Rockin’ Blues Party. It’s another hidden gem, and one of just four Ivory Jackson recordings that were ever released.

Big Walter Price is another veteran of the By The Bayou series. His contribution is Better Run, which was recorded for Goldband. It’s a piano lead ballad, that features a vocal powerhouse from Big Walter Price. Better Run is one of the unreleased tracks, and makes a welcome debut on hythm ’N’ Bluesin’ By The Bayou-Nights Of Sin, Dirty Deals and Love Sick Souls.

So does the Baton Rouge Boys’ Rising Sun. It was recorded at J.D. Miller’s studio, but has lain in the vaults since then. Very little is known about the Baton Rouge Boys. However, Rising Sun’s slow, bluesy, late night sound oozes quality, and will make you want to hear more from the Baton Rouge Boys.

In 1961, Lester Robertson released My Heart Forever Yearns as a single on the Montel Records Co. Tucked away on the B-Side was My Girl Across Town, a Lester Robertson composition. Another recording exists. It’s credited to Lester Robertson and The Upsetters, and is described as an alternate take as My Girl Across Town. Sadly, since it was recorded in 1961, it’s lain in the Montel Record Co. vaults. Not any more; as it’s one of the unreleased tracks on Rhythm ’N’ Bluesin’ By The Bayou-Nights Of Sin, Dirty Deals and Love Sick Souls. It’s a welcome and joyous addition to the compilation.

The other two tracks from Classie Ballou, are credited to Classie Ballou and His King Tempo Orchestra. They feature on the 1956 Goldland single Loving Huggin’ Kissin’ My Baby. It closes Rhythm ’N’ Bluesin’ By The Bayou-Nights Of Sin, Dirty Deals and Love Sick Souls. Eddie Shuler and Classie Ballou wrote this joyous, dance-floor friendly love song. Hidden away on the B-Side, was D-I-R-T-Y D-E-A-L, an Eddie Shuler composition. Classie Ballou unleashes another blistering solo, while his orchestra accompany him on this heartbreaking D-I-R-T-Y  D-E-A-L. 

That is the story of Rhythm ’N’ Bluesin’ By The Bayou-Nights Of Sin, Dirty Deals and Love Sick Souls. It was recently released by Ace Records, and is the fourteenth volume in Ian Saddler’s critically acclaimed and commercially successful By The Bayou series. Rhythm ’N’ Bluesin’ By The Bayou-Nights Of Sin, Dirty Deals and Love Sick Souls is also the fifth volume of Louisiana R&B. 

The twenty-eight tracks on Rhythm ’N’ Bluesin’ By The Bayou-Nights Of Sin, Dirty Deals and Love Sick Souls are a mixture of familiar faces, rarities, new names, alternate takes and unreleased tracks. Many artists are veterans of the By The Bayou series, and are back by popular demand. Some artists return for an encore on Rhythm ’N’ Bluesin’ By The Bayou-Nights Of Sin, Dirty Deals and Love Sick Souls.

Just like previous volumes of the By The Bayou series, some of the artists on Rhythm ’N’ Bluesin’ By The Bayou-Nights Of Sin, Dirty Deals and Love Sick Souls feature more than once.  Often, their first contribution is so good, that they return for an encore. Lester Robertson features three times; twice as a solo artist and once with a band. Classie Ballou features twice as a solo artist, and twice with his orchestra. This shows different sides to the artists concerned. Similarly, the By The Bayou series shows the different sides to  Louisiana’s rich and illustrious musical heritage.

Over the past fourteen volumes, Ian Saddler’s documented various different genres. This time around, Ian Saddler concentrated on R&B on Rhythm ’N’ Bluesin’ By The Bayou-Nights Of Sin, Dirty Deals and Love Sick Souls. It’s the latest instalment in the lovingly compiled By The Bayou series. Still, there’s not let up in the quality. 

That takes some doing. Often the well will have run dry way before volume fourteen. However, Ian Saddler knows where to find rarities, hidden gems and unreleased tracks that ooze quality. They’re his secret weapons in the By The Bayou series, which is without doubt, Ace Records’ longest running and most successful series. It’s the compilation series that looks as if it will run and run. Especially if Ian Saddler continues to compile compilations as good as Rhythm ’N’ Bluesin’ By The Bayou-Nights Of Sin, Dirty Deals and Love Sick Souls, which is a welcome addition to Ace Records’ jewel in the crown, the By The Bayou series.

RHYTHM ’N’ BLUESIN’ BY THE BAYOU-NIGHTS OF SIN, DIRTY DEALS AND LOVE SICK SOULS.

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