29 Feb 2012

Hear The First Track From The Noel Gallagher / Amorphous Androgynous Sessions - Shoot A Hole Into The Sun

Shoot a Hole Into The Sun has been confirmed as the first track to be released from his collaborative sessions with Active Listener favorites, The Amorphous Androgynous.

A full album is on the way and was expected to be finished October last year, but has been delayed and now with Gallagher on the road we can expect further delays.

Says Noel : "Unfortunately for them, they've only delivered a couple of tracks and they're trying to mix it while I'm on the road… and it's not working."

In the meantime we have Shoot A Hole Into The Sun to savor. It'll appear as the b-side to Dream On, released March 20.


28 Feb 2012

Watch Still Corners New Video - Endless Summer

Moody Londoner's Still Corners have released their new video for Endless Summer from last year's excellent Creatures Of An Hour album.

Watch Two New Radiohead Songs - Identikit & Cut A Hole

Radiohead debuted two new songs during the first show of their 2012 world tour in Miami last night (February 27).

The band played 24 songs including what is reported as their first ever live performance of 'Meeting In The Aisle' from the band's 'Airbag' EP.

Watch the two new tracks below :

Free E.P Download From Retribution Gospel Choir

Alan Sparhawk from Low's excellent ( and often much noisier ) side project Retribution Gospel Choir have a new E.P out, and they want you to download it for free. Should one wish to purchase a physical copy it'll be out on march 27 on Sub Pop.

The Revolution EP:
01 Feel It
02 The Stone (Revolution!)
03 Maharisha
04 I'm a Man

The Revolution E.P can be downloaded here

Woody Guthrie's 100th Birthday Celebrations.

It's Woody Guthrie's 100th Birthday on the 14th of July this year and there are a number of significant releases lined up to celebrate his Centennial.

Billy Bragg and Wilco's Mermaid Avenue is set to be re-released as a 4 disc box set on the 21st of April, containing remastered editions of Volume 1 & 2, the previously unreleased Volume 3 featuring a further 17 tracks recorded during the same sessions, and the Man In The Sand DVD. Preorder here.

Due out on March 5 is New Multitudes, where My Morning Jacket's Jim James, Son Volt's Jay Farrar, Will Johnson and Anders Parker essentially do their own take on a Mermaid Avenue - previously unpublished Guthrie lyrics put to new music.
Preorder the deluxe edition here.
Preorder the standard edition here.

Out now is Note of Hope - a tribute to Woody's music featuring Van Dyke Parks, Madeleine Peyroux, Tom Morello, Lou Reed ( without Metallica ), Michael Franti & Spearhead, Kurt Elling, Ani Difranco, Studs Terkel, Nellie McKay, Chris Whitley, Pete Seeger and Jackson Browne.
You can buy it here.

There's also a stand alone website for Woody's Centennial - visit it here to find out more.

27 Feb 2012

Belbury Poly - The Belbury Tales Review

Arriving in this morning's post was a much anticipated treat - Belbury Poly's Belbury Tales. A new Belbury Poly album is always a cause for celebration, and this may well be Reverend Jim's best work yet.
Julian House's evocative cover artwork promises much, and is truly something to savor, as are it's delectable contents.
For those unfamiliar with Belbury Poly, think warm analogue electronica, equal parts Boards of Canada and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.
This sees the first instance of Belbury Poly bringing in outside musicians to augment his sound, Jim Musgrave and Christopher Budd fitting in seamlessly on drums, guitars and bass.
To say that the Belbury Tales is delightful ( which it undoubtedly is ), would be doing it a disservice as it operates successfully on more levels than this would suggest.
Take Cantalus as a case in point,an irrepressibly chirpy analogue theme with pitter-patter, brushed drumwork and electric spy guitar that unexpectedly and seamlessly drops in a spooky men's chorus making melodic Scooby Doo ghost noises every now and then. The effect is something akin to catching the janitor in the midst of some diabolical ritual in the broom cupboard of your local toystore.
Green Grass Grows appears to be an affectionate Broadcast homage, with an uncredited female vocalist channeling the adventurous spirit of the much missed Trish Keenan, despite not really sounding like her.
The Geography is full of aching melancholy and sounds like the most ancient thing in the world - definitely the most successful marriage of Hauntology and English Folk that I've heard so far.
Things get a little beatier towards the middle of the album, with A Pilgrim's Path sounding like another classic lost seventies TV theme, Now Then coasting along on squelchy radiophonic keyboards and Chapel Perilous making the best use of live drums on the album, with some tricky backwards guitars and an ever-present wall of shimmering synths.
My Hands sounds like a collaboration between Moon Wiring Club and John Barry, while Goat Foot is much more playful, with an almost Eastern melody played on what I can only imagine is a zither. Brilliant.
Unforgotten Town starts out as moody and mysterious as it's title suggests before introducing a stately synthesized harpsichord theme, underpinned by what sounds like a steady casiotone pulse.
Jim Jupp is unquestionably a singular talent - could I have heard my favorite album of the year already? I'm looking forward to hearing anything which can best this.

Simone Felice - Sample 3 Tracks From His Upcoming Solo Album.

The prolific Simone Felice of the Felice Brothers and The Duke & The King has a solo album due out in April this year. He's been busy since leaving the Felice Brothers, with Duke & The King material and publishing novels, not to mention a second near-death experience. Showing no signs of slowing down then, he's now released the first official video from the upcoming album, You & I Belong.

You can listen to New York Times from the new album here :

The official video for You & I Belong can be seen below :

And lastly, a beautiful live acoustic version of Hey Bobby Ray, also destined for the new album.

Pre-order the album here :

Watch Bon Iver's New Video - Towers

Towers, the latest single from Bon Iver's self titled album is due to be released on March 6 by Jagjaguwar.

The video has been released today and is directed by NABIL, also responsible for the Holocene video.

Bon Iver - Towers (Official Music Video) from Bon Iver on Vimeo.

Listen To 'Lasan' By Michael Kiwanuka & The Black Key's Dan Auerbach

Dan Auerbach from the Black Keys has collaborated with the BBC's Sound Of 2012 pollwinner, Michael Kiwanuka.

The Track, Lasan, is due to appear as the b-side to Kiwanuka's new single I'm Getting Ready, and was recorded at Ray Davie's studio.

Listen below :

26 Feb 2012

Doug Jerebine is Jesse Harper Gets an Official Release

An official release finally for this lost piece of Human Instinct related, New Zealand guitar heroics, often compared to Jimi Hendrix.

Download and vinyl only release from Drag City.

The vinyl version is available through the U.S Drag City site.

'Guitar-slinging legend from east and down under, Doug Jerebine set out from his NZ/AU homelands in search of spiritual enlightenment — and before India called, he made this album while pausing for a cup of tea and a cameo in the late-60s still-swinging, still-dreaming London scene. Stands up with Hendrix, Lee, Beck and the other heroes of that time and place while carving out the "Jesse Harper" identity quite memorably. Another lost leaf from the tree of rock has been restored!'

Midnight Sun 5:39

Hole In My Hand 2:31

Fall Down 3:06

Ashes and Matches 3:23

Thawed Ice 3:05

Ain't So Hard To Do 4:38

Good News Blues 3:45

Reddened Eyes 3:15

Circles 4:17

Idea 3:43

Watch an intimate Bon Iver studio session from London's AIR Studios.

Justin Vernon and S. Carey from Grammy award winning indie darlings Bon Iver can be seen here in a newly released film of a 25 minute studio session recorded at London's AIR Studios in October 2011.

It consists of stripped back versions of 4 Bon Iver songs and a cover of Bonnie Raitt's I Can't Make You Love Me.

01 Hinnom, TX
02 Wash.
03 I Can't Make You Love Me
04 Babys
05 Beth/Rest

The film is presented by 4AD and Jagjaguwar and directed by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard.

25 Feb 2012

Bob Dylan "Carnegie Chapter Hall 1961" Review

Another excellent new release in this series of legal, but not officially endorsed releases by major artists, this intriguing archival release presents all known surviving songs from Dylan's first non coffeehouse concert in New York.
Recorded days after Dylan signed his contract with CBS, this concert was organized by Izzy Young at the Carnegie Chapter Hall, a rehearsal space upstairs at the famous concert hall which seated around 100 people. With only 53 paying punters and a few friends of the promoters in attendance, Young lost money on this particular gig but can gain some satisfaction from being involved in such an historic performance.
Around a third of the performance was either not recorded in the first place, or has since been lost, but the producer's of this CD have done an excellent job of sourcing all known surviving material from three different sources and mixing it seamlessly into a coherent and entertaining snapshot of a young and keen to please Dylan.
Sound quality is very good, with the only issues being some not particularly distracting audio dropout during Pretty Peggy-O, and some occasional vocal issues caused by Dylan straying off mike.
Dylan is full of nervous energy, chatting excitedly between songs and constantly fidgeting with his guitar, but once he starts playing a song he's focused, and his easygoing, almost Chaplinesque shtick is instantly swept aside.
We get committed readings of a number of tunes that would end up on his first album, but the real reason to buy this is for the slew of interesting covers. You've likely heard Pretty Peggy-O elsewhere as it stayed in his live repertoire well into 1963. More interesting are his readings of Leadbelly's ever popular In The Pines, which he admits " he don't know so good " yet, and Woody Guthrie's 1913 Massacre, from which he borrowed Song To Woody's melody.
A Long Time a Growin' is another new number in Dylan's repertoire, having just learnt it from Liam Clancy, and is one of the most delicate performances on here, with Dylan showing an unexpected subtlety and sweetness in his vocal phrasing.
Fixin' To Die and Gospel Plow are raw and spirited - both very similar to the performances that would end up on the first album.
Backwater Blues is present in it's only known surviving Dylan performance, and despite a few dubious moments on the guitar early on is another gritty Dylan blues vocal.
It's impressive that even at this very early stage, the Dylan originals here stand up admirably to their time - tested company.  Man On The Street and Talking Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues are confident and insightful pieces of observational songwriting which should have seen release before the Bootleg Series kicked off in 1991.
Overall then, a surprisingly fully realized and versatile performance which is worth acquiring for far more than historical significance.

Download More of Deram's Psychedelic Scene

Deram's Psychedelic Scene ( reviewed here ) was one of the first Psychedelic collections I bought, and my first exposure to great bands like Tintern Abbey and the 23rd Turnoff. Needless to say I was hooked and wanted to hear more of these bands. Here's a collection I put together of a number of other Deram sides by these bands as an addendum to the official release. If you download and enjoy, thanks would be appreciated in the comments section. Cheers!

1. Tintern Abbey - Beeside
2. The Accent - Wind of Change
3. The Syn - Created By Clive
4. The Syn - Flowerman
5. The Poets - Wooden Spoon
6. The Attack - Lady Orange Peel
7. The Attack - Neville Thumbcatch
8. The Attack - Created by Clive
9. The Fairytale - Lovely People
10. The Fairytale - Listen To Mary Cry
11. Turquoise - 53 Summer St
12. Turquoise - Tales of Flossie Fillet
13. Turquoise - Saynia
14. Al Stewart - The Elf
15. The Virgin Sleep - Love
16. The Virgin Sleep - Halliford House
17. Felius Andromeda - Cheadle Heath's Delusions
18. Human Instinct - Renaissance Fair
19. Human Instinct - Death of The Seaside
20. The Ice - Anniversary ( of Love )
21. The 23rd Turnoff - Leave Me Here
22. The World of Oz- King Croesus
23. The Plague - Looking For The Sun
24. Warm Sounds - Nite Is A Comin' / Smeta Murgaty


23 Feb 2012

The Psychedelic Scene ( Deram ) - Obscure Classics ( Review )

The Psychedelic Scene ( Deram Records )

Originally set up in 1966 to release Decca records Deramic Sound stereo recordings, Deram quickly became Decca's primary outlet for underground and progressive artists, who could make the most of the shiny new 8 track recorders that began popping up around 1967 / 1968.
The Psychedelic Scene is a look into the label's diverse psychedelic output from these years with the odd releases from 1969 creeping in too. Where the previous volume in this series, The Freakbeat Scene ( also excellent and ridiculously cheap incidentally - see here ) focused on recordings from 1965 and 1966, with some pretty wild guitar sounds creeping in, The Psychedelic Scene highlights the first fruits of the U.K scene's immersion in Psychedelia.
While early offerings from the Moody Blues and the Small Faces ( the excellent That Man ) are present here, the majority of featured artists are unknown outside of psych collecting circles and most of these only released a few singles, which just goes to show how fertile the scene was at this time, as this is a remarkably consistent and often groundbreaking set of songs.
Caught midway between the evolution from freakbeat to the more whimsical and slightly twee sound that U.K Psych would evolve into, this flexes a considerable amount more muscle than you'd expect. Just check out the Curiosity Shoppe's  Baby I Need You, all barnstorming drums, crunchy Who-ish power chords and cacophonous organs.
Tintern Abbey's Vacuum Cleaner is an early highlight with some great phasing, crashing cymbals and nice backwards guitar parts.

The Bill Wyman endorsed / produced The End provide Shades of Orange, a fine piece of gritty psych with slashes of electric guitar and some great period atmosphere.
Felius Andromeda add one part Monastic chants to two parts  massive church organ ( ala Whiter Shade of Pale ) for their bafflingly unheralded Meditations.
Also worthy of note is In Your Tower, an anthemic stormer from Scotland's excellent beat gone psych group The Poets.
Al Stewart outdoes the Yardbirds with his first b-side, a cover of their Turn Into Earth which sounds like someone's laced the holy water in an ancient monastery. The Yardbird's Paul Samwell- Smith oversees production duties, cranking up the gloomy atmosphere and accentuating the scratchy rhythm guitars.

The indisputable highlight, and one of the very best English 45's of the sixties is the 23rd Turnoff's majestic Michaelangelo, a hazy, psychedelic dream with waves of renaissance horns drifting in and out of focus. Sublime.
While the Nuggets II: Original Artyfacts from the British Empire and Beyond or Acid Drops : Spacedust and Flying Saucers box sets certainly offer a far more complete picture, this is one of the best single CD compilations of U.K Psychedelia out there. An ideal starting point.

BUY The Psychedelic Scene ON CD HERE

22 Feb 2012

MP3 Download - Fleet Foxe's Robin Pecknold - Olivia, In A Separate Bed

Fleet Foxes mastermind Robin Pecknold has just shared a new demo through his Soundcloud account.

Says he:  "New demo, new song. Sadsack mode. Will probably change."

It's a sparse solo acoustic demo,  beautiful and devastatingly intimate.

Hang in there Robin, we love ya.

On the cheerier side of things, he had this to say via his twitter account on the subject of new material : "I got ideas for three albums. Could be a fun way to divide styles instead of cramming them into one thing."

Here's a Mediafire link

New James Iha Album On The Way + Reissue of Let It Come Down With Bonus Tracks

James Iha's first solo album Let It Come Down, a breezy collection of country / folk singer-songwriter tunes influenced by acoustic Neil Young was released in 1998, and was so far removed from Iha's day job as guitarist for the Smashing Pumpkins that it received little attention and has been out of print for a number of years.

Good news for fans then - this vastly under rated album has had a CD reissue in Japan with bonus tracks “Take Care,” and “Falling” both originally featured on the Be Strong Now CD Single. You can buy it here.

More excitingly, he also has a new album on the way, a sophomore release 14 years after his first.

Look To The Sky will be released by EMI Music in Japan on March 14 - some tracks have been previewed at the EMI Rocks Festival earlier this month. Those that heard this performance seem to be of the opinion that this is in a similar style to his first album.

It has been confirmed that the album will receive an international release later in the year.

Look To The Sky Tracklisting :

01. Make Believe
02. Summer Days
03. To Who Knows Where
04. Till Next Tuesday
05. Dream Tonight
06. Dark Star
07. Appetite
08. Gemini
09. Waves
10. Speed ​​Of Love
11. 4th Of July
12. A String Of Words
13. Diamond Eyes (bonus track)
14. Stay Lost (bonus track)

21 Feb 2012

Neil Young - Cow Palace 1986 ( Review )

This quasi-legal European CD release will be passed up by a number of people because it's not an officially sanctioned release, and because it was recorded smack, bang in the middle of Neil's most maligned run of albums.
To address the first of these issues ; forget your perception of bootlegs being recorded on a dictaphone taped to the bottom of one of the audience member's seats - this is a high quality recording made and professionally mixed by KLOS FM and easily competes with any official release of the era in terms of sound quality.
As for the music itself, this show may have been recorded between the much derided Landing on Water and Life albums, but the performances of the songs from this era presented here go a long way to proving that the fault didn't lay with the songwriting, but with the studio production. Live, these songs are given a new lease of life and there's an obvious enthusiasm that's not immediately apparent on the studio recordings. I'll admit to being a closet Landing on Water fan, so I may be the only person around who's actually disappointed that there's only one cut from that album here. Violent Side is a bit of a lost classic in my opinion, and stripped of it's shiny studio sheen and child chorus back vocals it's given the chance to shine even more. As for the Life material, hearing these versions and comparing them to the official versions released the following year, it's almost like Neil was sick of this material by the time he made it to a studio to record it - these early road tested versions come up trumps every time.
We also get a couple of tracks from Trans, which seems to have been given a much needed reappraisal lately, and rightly so - Sample and Hold and Computer Age are both classics and the added punch of the Horse on these versions only reinforces this fact.
There's plenty here for the more casual fan too ; Cortez the Killer, Hurricane, Powderfinger and  Down By The River are all given passionate readings with lashings of raw Neil guitar. There's also a few nice acoustic moments with After The Gold Rush and The Needle and the Damage Done, and it's always nice to hear Neil revisit his Buffalo Springfield roots with Mr. Soul.
Required listening for Neil Young fans, and an essential piece which makes a whole lot more sense out of the puzzle of his eighties recordings.

Buy Neil Young - Cow Palace 1986 Here

Disc: 1
1. Introduction
2. Mr. Soul
3. When You Dance, I Can Really Love
4. Down by the River
5. Too Lonely
6. Neil s Mom Calls
7. Heart of Gold
8. After the Goldrush
9. Inca Queen
10. Drive Back
11. Opera Star
12. Sam Kinison Calls
13. Cortez the Killer
Disc: 2
1. Sample and Hold
2. Computer Age
3. Violent Side
4. Mideast Vacation
5. Long Walk Home
6. The Needle and the Damage Done
7. When Your Lonely Heart Breaks
8. Around the World
9. Powderfinger
10. Like a Hurricane
11. Hey Hey, My My
12. Prisoners of Rock n Roll

You can sample the second half of the concert from Computer Age on here : 

20 Feb 2012

Heaven & Earth - Refuge CD & LP Reissue Now Available

Highly rated funky psych folk rarity Refuge by Heaven & Earth has had a long overdue CD release, and there's a vinyl reissue on the way this week.

The CD is brought to you by Lion Productions from Finland and is a deluxe gatefold vinyl replica. BUY IT HERE.

The LP release comes from Plastic Head Music Distribution and is due out on the 27th of Feb. PRE-ORDER IT HERE.

"Refuge" is the only album by Heaven and Earth. Psych folk funk beauty from the early 70’s featuring the gorgeous voices of Jo D. Andrews & Pat Gefell. “Feel The Spirit” and “Jenny” have been making the rounds on the UK DJ circuit and on compilations like Andy Votel's “Folk Is Not A Four Letter Word.” and the excellent "Feel The Spirit" compilation.
Also includes Bob Dylan and Elton John covers.
Whatever your musical taste, psych-folk, funk, soft rock… this LP seems to fit perfectly. Should appeal to fans of BJ Ward, Wendy & Bonnie, Linda Perhacs, Christine Harwood, Sunforest, Margo Guryan, Lyn Christopher, Barbara & Ernie, etc.

John Barleycorn Reborn - Dark Brittanica - Obscure Classics ( Review )

Great Albums You May Have Missed

John Barleycorn Reborn - Dark Britannica ( 2007 )

For those convinced that the glory days of the English folk scene are behind us, I'd like to draw your attention to the first in a series of excellent compilations put together by the Coven Spring and Woven Wheat Whispers labels.
John Barleycorn Reborn focuses on dark English folklore and the cycles of birth, death and rebirth. In the words of Woven Wheat Whispers' Mark Coyle :
" This compilation explores the darker side of British folk music, evoking the mystery of our ancient past and peoples, the strangeness of their beliefs, arcane traditions and the remnants of this carried down the centuries as folklore. " It's a remarkably eclectic collection, taking in traditional folk, pagan folk crackling with menace and unease, neo folk, folk rock, mediaeval folk,  psychedelic folk and a bunch of more unusual folk / subtle electronic hybrids that I'm not even sure have a name. While folk's commercial fortunes may not be a patch on what they were in the days of Steeleye Span and Fairport Convention ( although the Unthanks seem to be doing okay for themselves ), this paints a pretty convincing argument for the current revival trumping the old hands for overall ambition and inventiveness. I'm tempted to use the old chestnut 'an embarrassment of riches.' Let's say I have.
There's a remarkable level of consistency but highlights for me are Mary Jane's funky folk- rock take on Twa Corbies which sounds like it's influenced by Gentle Giant as much as Fairport Convention. Pumajaw's The Burning Of Auchindoun draws you in with it's almost post-rock feel, all hypnotic guitar riffs and droning soundscapes. The Straw Bear Band's Trial By Bread & Butter sounds like the pagan offspring of Devendra Banhart and John Lennon. Martyn Bates The Resurrection Apprentice is a beautifully creepy pipe piece which tells just as evocative a story as the vocal pieces on here. Electronic Voice Phenomena's The Sorrow of Rimmon sounds like Portishead backing Marianne Faithful.
That's the real appeal of this collection. Every artist has their own very distinct personality, but there's a remarkable cohesion that a set of this scope shouldn't be able to achieve as effortlessly as it has.  Dive in, it's a great way to sample the current dark folk scene - there are plenty of artists here I'll be exploring further, so keep an eye on future reviews if this is your bag.

BUY John Barleycorn Reborn ON CD HERE.

Part 1: Birth:
1. The Horses Of The Gods – John Barleycorn (3:56)
2. The Owl Service – North Country Maid (2:39)
3. The Story – The Wicker Man (2:30)
4. Damh The Bard – Spirit of Albion (4:15)
5. Mary Jane – Twa Corbies (5:13)
6. Andrew King – Dives and Lazarus (6:29)
7. The Triple Tree – Three Crowns (5:37)
8. Sol Invictus – To Kill All Kings (5:55)
9. Sieben – Ogham On The Hill (Remix) (4:03)
10. Sharron Kraus – Horn Dance (3:30)
11. Charlotte Greig And Johan Asherton – Lay The Bent To The Bonny Broom (7:54)
12. Pumajaw – The Burning Of Auchindoun (5:43)
13. Peter Ulrich – The Scryer & The Shewstone (5:06)
14. Alphane Moon – Where The Hazel Grows (4:30)
15. English Heretic – Hippomania (6:50)
16. Far Black Furlong – Icy Solstice Eye (3:28)
Part 2: Death:
1. The Anvil – John Barleycorn Must Die (4:37)
2. Tinkerscuss – To Make You Stay (2:55)
3. The Straw Bear Band – Trial By Bread & Butter (3:37)
4. Electronic Voice Phenomena – The Sorrow Of Rimmon (3:56)
5. The Purple Minds Of Lazeron – Dragonfly (4:21)
6. Sand Snowman – Stained Glass Morning (5:56)
7. The A. Lords – Summerhouse (5:11)
8. The Kitchen Cynics – The Guidman’s Ground (4:18)
9. Quickthorn – Pew Pew (2:32)
10. Clive Powell – Reed Sodger (4:19)
11. Venereum Arvum – Child 102: Willie and Earl Richard’s Daughter (aka The Birth of Robin Hood) (7:33)
12. Drohne – Nottamun Town (6:55)
13. Stormcrow – Gargoyle (6:16)
14. Doug Peters – Pact (4:21)
15. While Angels Watch – Obsidian Blade (5:07)
16. Xenis Emputae Travelling Band – John Barleycorn: His Life, Death And Resurrection (4:52)
17. Martyn Bates – The Resurrection Apprentice (2:42)

18 Feb 2012

Arthur Lee's Love - Buyer's Guide

With Forever Changes, an iconic album frequently lauded as one of the best albums ever recorded, it's surprising how little people know of the rest of the Love back catalogue. Let's see what we can do about that.

Love ( 1966 )
This'll come as a bit of a surprise to those who only know Forever Changes. Surprisingly aggressive garage punk is the dominant sound here, with Hey Joe and My Little Red Book being particularly strong versions. Softly to Me shows their quieter, more melodic side and is a much more complicated piece of writing. Very consistent debut. ( 8/10 ) BUY IT HERE

Da Capo ( 1967 )
A much more ambitious record, with harpsichords,flutes and horns added to the mix and sustained songwriting on the first side which is almost the match of the Forever Changes material. 7 & 7 is refines and perfects the debut's garage sensibilities while She Comes in Colors and Orange Skies show Arthur Lee and Bryan MacLean's songwriting developing rapidly.  Revelation takes up all of the second side and is a sprawling blues rock piece with moments of greatness and self indulgence fairly evenly stacked. ( 9/10 )  BUY IT HERE

Forever Changes ( 1967 )
An album totally deserving of it's many accolades, Forever Changes is a much more diverse and varied album. Scaling back the electric instruments, Lee chose to use mostly acoustic guitars with bass and drums to give the lyrics plenty of space, and he certainly had a lot to say about his generation. Cleverly charted horn parts are used to add texture and are often quite punchy while there's still room for some great psychedelic guitar parts, notably on A House is Not A Motel. Amazing stuff and essential for any serious sixties collection. ( 10/10 )  BUY IT HERE

Four Sail ( 1969 )
Often regarded as the strongest of the post Forever Changes album, I actually think it's one of their weaker offerings. With a new line up, this is a much more heavy rocking version of Love, which seems to be inspired by the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Santana. Lee still had a great single in him with Always See Your Face, but elsewhere the tracks get a little too jammy with solo's that go on for too long, and you miss the impression that every note is in exactly the right place that the first three albums left you with. Still some good songs here, but they often feel like they're at the demo stage and are crying out for an arranger. ( 5/10 )   BUY IT HERE

Out Here ( 1969 )
Following up an album with too much jam material with a double album may sound like a pretty poor idea, but there's no questioning that the songwriting on Out Here is much more fully realised. Willow, Willow, I Still Wonder, Listen To My Song and You Are Something are all classic tracks in Lee's catalogue which would have fitted onto earlier albums nicely, and the longer jam orientated tracks are played with much more authority than on Four Sail. As with most double albums, there's a little bit of filler but this is a much stronger album and a worthy addition to your collection.  ( 7/10 ) BUY IT HERE

False Start ( 1970 )
Continuing on in the vein of Out Here, this is much more concise and features one of Lee's best post Forever Changes songs in The Everlasting First, which features a notable guitar contribution by Lee's friend Jimi Hendrix. It's not quite as diverse as Out Here however and towards the end the songs do begin to get a little repetitive. It's a little on the short side too, and could do with a couple more quality tracks on the second half to help the flow. ( 6/10 )  BUY IT HERE

Out There
An excellent collection put together by Big Beat Records in 1990, this gathers most of the best material from Out Here and False Start and resequences them into a superior double album length CD. For all but the most hardcore fans, this will probably be all you need to represent their recordings from the Blue Thumb label. ( 8/10 ) BUY IT HERE

Love Lost ( recorded 1971 )
A recent release this one, put together by the reliably hardworking folk at Sundazed Records.  After being resigned to a major label, CBS this time, Lee put these excellent recordings together, but something went awry ( as it often did with Arthur ) and they were never released. They alternate between heavily Hendrix influenced soul rock hybrids to charming, delicate acoustic sketches. Lee revisited a number of these songs for his solo album Vindicator, but they're almost all more vital in these early, sometimes rough vignettes, almost as though he'd lost interest in them by the time of Vindicator. A very interesting bonus.  
( 6/10 ) BUY IT HERE

Black Beauty ( 1973 )
Finally seeing the light of day later this year apparently, this was recorded in 1973 for the Buffalo label, who unfortunately folded before it could be released. With an all black band, this is a much grittier r&b funk rock hybrid which while still heavily indebted to Hendrix, reaches even further back to Lee's soul roots. Only heard as a bootleg of patchy quality so far, it's generally been fairly poorly regarded, and the copy I've heard certainly makes it hard to get into. It'll be interesting to hear how the improved sound quality of the official release changes people's opinions. Reviewers who've heard the remaster seem to be unanimously rating it as Lee's best of the seventies. No rating from me until I've heard the real deal.

Reel To Real ( 1974 )
Utilizing the same line up that recorded Black Beauty, this is another album that is pretty hard to find but did have a limited release on vinyl. It continues Black Beauty's mix of soul and funk, and couldn't be more different to Love's sixties material if it tried, which makes it very hard to rate. As a hard rocking soul album it's not bad, although the production has dated considerably. But as the guy that put out Forever Changes, or even False Start? I just can't recommend it. ( 4/10 )

I'd also recommend checking out two archival releases put out by Sundazed. Ifyoubelievein and Candy's Waltz are both full of acoustic demo recordings put down by Bryan Maclean.
The material on Ifyoubelievein is the most interesting and was recorded in the sixties and seventies. Barber John, Fresh Hope, and Strong Commitment in particular are very strong additions to his catalogue.
The material on Candy's Waltz is of a much more recent vintage, but still shows moments of inspiration.

BUY If You Believe in HERE
BUY Candy's Waltz HERE

16 Feb 2012

Psychedelic / Prog Rock & Other Interesting Titles Out Soon

Lots of great stuff coming out over the next few months. Click on the album title for more information or to pre-order.

The Byrds - Preflyte Plus ( Feb 27 )
Matching Mole - Matching Mole: Expanded Edition ( Feb 27 )
Matching Mole - Little Red Record: Expanded Edition ( Feb 27 )
The Move - Live At The Fillmore 1969 ( March 5 )
Bonnie Dobson - Bonnie Dobson Remastered ( March 5 )
Jerry Cole - Psychedelic Guitars ( March 6 )
String Driven Thing - Live On The Foxtrot Tour (40th Anniversary) ( March 5 )
Various Artists - The Roots of Drone ( March 6 )
Jethro Tull - Thick As A Brick 2 ( April 2 )
T.Rex - Electric Warrior: Box Set Deluxe Edition ( April 23 )
Small Faces - Small Faces Decca Album (Deluxe Edition) ( May 7 )
Small Faces - Small Faces Immediate Album (Deluxe Edition) ( May 7 )
Small Faces - Ogden's Nut Gone Flake (Deluxe Edition) ( May 7 )
Small Faces - From The Beginning (Deluxe Edition) ( May 7 )
E.L.O - Electric Light Orchestra/First Light CD/DVD Edition ( March 12 )
David Bowie - Hours / The Collectors Edition ( March 26 )
Brewer & Shipley - Down in L.A. ( March 26 )
Late Night Tales - Belle and Sebastian (Volume 2) ( March 26 )
Howlin Rain - The Russian Wilds ( March 12 )
Janis Joplin - The Pearl Sessions ( April 16 )
The Swans - The Burning World ( March 20 )
Yes - Yesshows / Expanded ( April 20 )
Various Artists - I Buried Paul - The Paul McCartney Death CD ( March 26 )
The Ventures - In Space ( Feb 28 )
Robert Calvert - Newcastle 1986 - Ships of Fools ( Feb 27 )
The Amazing Blondel - Evensong/Fantasia Lindum ( Feb 27 )
Gentle Giant - Playing The Cleveland ( Feb 27 )
Cactus - Do Not Kick against the Pricks ( Feb 27 )
The Blasters - American Music/Trouble Bound ( Feb 27 )
Uriah Heep - Logical Revelations ( Feb 27 )
Tangerine Dream - Live Miles ( Feb 27 )
The Dirty Three - Towards The Low Sun ( Feb 27 )
Robin Trower - The Chrysalis Years (1977-1983) ( Feb 27 )
Frank Zappa & Captain Beefheart -From Straight To Bizarre [DVD] ( Feb 27 )
Holly Golightly - Long Distance ( March 13 )
Janis Joplin with Big Brother & The Holding Company - Live At The Carousel Ballroom 1968 ( March 12 )
Bread Love And Dreams ( April 2 )
Caravan - The European Tour 2011: Live At Shepards Bush Empire ( March 26 )
M. Ward - A Wasteland Companion ( April 9 )
Justin Townes Earle - Nothing's Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now ( March 26 )
Johnny Cash - Bootleg Vol. IV: The Soul Of Truth ( April 2 )
The Decemberists - We All Raise Our Voices to the Air ( March 13 )
The Allman Brothers - A & R Studios : New York, 26th August, 1971 ( March 26 )
Gram Parsons - Silver Meteor ( March 6 )
Clarence White - White Lightnin' ( March 6 )
Granny's Intentions - Honest Injun ( March 5 )
Ferrante & Teicher - Soundproof: the Sound of Tomorrow Today ( March 5 )
Soundtrack - Hell's Angels 69 ( March 5 )
New Riders of the Purple Sage - 17 Pine Avenue ( March 6 )

15 Feb 2012

The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band - A Child's Guide to Good and Evil - Obscure Classics ( Review )

Great Albums You May Have Missed

The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band -  A Child's Guide to Good and Evil ( 1968 )

The story behind TWCPAEB is almost as interesting as the music itself. Initially formed in 1964 by brothers Shaun and Danny Harris and the prodigiously talented Michael Lloyd, they soon met up with law graduate Bob Markley who had moved to L.A with hopes of stardom, whether it be in the pop music or movie field. Introduced by Kim Fowley at a party of Markley's ( at which the Yardbirds were playing ! ), Markley, the adopted son of an oil tycoon offered to fund the recording of an album, if he could play tambourine for the band.  The contract that the band signed, ensured that Markley had full rights to the band's name.
Their first album came together quickly, a mixture of roughly recorded originals and covers, but it was enough to get Reprise's attention who released their first proper album in 1967. Markley's demands had grown with their success. He was now contributing lyrics and vocals which set up internal tensions that were never fully resolved, with other band members unconvinced of his musical credentials.
Lloyd soon jumped ship and headed off on an interesting trajectory of his own which included October Country ( a harmony psych-pop outfit who's single My Girlfriend is a Witch is essential listening) and The Smoke ( a Beach Boys style psych concept group ). Then at the age of 20 he was appointed vice-president of MGM, earned a grammy for producing Lou Rawls's Natural Man, produced the Dirty Dancing soundtrack and worked with Pat Boone on his bizarre heavy metal covers album. Go figure.
Meanwhile Ron Morgan had been introduced on guitar during the recording of their first Reprise album and he was featured extensively on their next album, particularly on album highlight Smell of Incense.
They then trimmed down to a trio of Markley, Morgan and Shaun Harris for the recording of their third Reprise album,  A Child's Guide to Good and Evil.
Where the previous albums had shown several notable moments of inspiration, they'd been fairly haphazard mixtures of folk-rock, psychedelia, garage, country and had often sounded like a different band was behind each track.
A Child's Guide to Good and Evil saw them finally condense all of their ambitions into one cohesive whole which is undoubtedly their strongest album.
Eighteen is Over the Hill is a lovely slice of baroque harmony pop which sounds like a meeting of minds between the Left Banke and Simon and Garfunkel.
In The Country sounds like a blueprint for Workingman's Dead era Grateful Dead, with added fuzz bass.
Ritual 1 may well be their ultimate psychedelic moment. Propulsive drums, sitars, heavily reverbed rattlesnake percussion and more great fuzz bass propel this at a rapid clip.

Our Drummer Always Plays In The Nude is a hilariously inappropriate piece of psych pop fluff.
As The World Rises And Falls is a much more melancholy piece with some lovely, yearning guitar which sounds surprisingly contemporary.
Watch Yourself has a creepy descending / ascending guitar riff which along with Pink Floyd's Echoes sounds like the inspiration for the infamous Phantom of the Opera riff, although I can't picture Andrew Lloyd Webber settling down in a bean bag with a spliff to listen to this.
The title track is a great piece of moody psychedelia with Markley's bizarre spoken word interludes raising a few eyebrows. Much criticism has been leveled at his reactionary, naive lyrics but in hindsight they're no more ridiculous than the majority of their peers.
A Child of a Few Hours Is Burning To Death is the most aggressive of Markley's anti Vietnam lyrics, and is built upon a fantastic psychedelicised blues riff which wouldn't sound out of place on a Canned Heat record, although one suspects that the Heat would have presented the lyric with a little more subtlety.

Anniversary of World War III finished things off with a minute and a half's silence. A statement to be sure, but the previous half hour's been such a trip that you can't help wishing that they'd actually written another song instead.
All in all pretty damn good for a band that the generally infallible Richie Unterberger has memorably described as the definition of an "average psychedelic group".
Even the average have their day it would seem, and on the evidence of this it was a very good one indeed.


14 Feb 2012

THE SEASONS - Drama Workshop. Radiophonic Music and Poetry By David Cain and Ronald Duncan

The ever reliable Trunk Records have another winner coming out for us on March 13th.

The much admired and highly sought after Seasons LP by David Cain and Ronald Duncan has developed a reputation as a major influence on the Hauntology scene and will finally be getting it's first official CD release.

Jonny Trunk says : "This album is a “cult” classic in many ways. Always a little devil to find, I first posted it up on the Recommendations pages in 2003. This was one of three copies I’d found with Martin Green at a Tonbridge Wells record fayre in the late 1990s. Several people in my small circle of peculiar musical chums also came across it, and by the mid naughties it was coming across as a major influence on retro futurism and the new fangled scene they named hauntology. This comes as no surprise as the album has several layers and levels to it; it is weird, spooky. unsettling, very British, has an unusual whiff of childhood to some, it comes scattered with pregnant language and is full of unexpected metaphors, pagan oddness, folk cadences and insane noises. Does it get any better? Considering this was an LP made for children’s education and improvised dance, I think not."


The Soundcarriers - Celeste - Obscure Classics ( Review )

Great Albums You May Have Missed

The Soundcarriers - Celeste ( 2010 )

The Soundcarriers are a band much talked about in the right circles, and with good reason.
Often compared to space pop faves Broadcast, they present a more accessible, but no less adventurous melange of sounds than Broadcast, and manage to pull a stack of memorable tunes out of a diverse and often challenging set of influences.
Apart from an obvious shared love for sixties futurism, the most obvious reason for the Broadcast comparisons would seem to be Leonore Wheatley's tremendous voice, which can sound like Trish Keenan one second and Jacqui McShee the next. They're also much less willfully obscure than Broadcast, and know exactly where and when to break out a killer chorus.
Sixties pop, library music, krautrock, soundtracks, psychedelia and jazz all feature prominently and it seems like they're coming from so many different directions that this should really be a hopelessly confused jumble, but they effortlessly coalesce everything into a very distinctive and individualist whole.
Their first album, Harmonium was a great thing, an impressively confident, fully formed debut. The follow up, Celeste may be even better.  Recorded on analogue with natural reverb, this comes across like a lost classic from a time when artists were given the freedom to be more adventurous and ambitious than is often the case now.
The propulsive Last Broadcast is certainly a lively way to open proceedings with Paul Isherwood's aggressive bass attack sounding like a cross between Holger Czukay and early Roger Waters.  The rhythm section gel impressively throughout and are often given a prominent led role, which is refreshing.  Hazy harmonized vocals, and moody flute passages are also used extensively and along with the frequently psychedelic, textural guitar breaks help evoke an era that's often imitated, but rarely with such authenticity in this digital age.
Great stuff, they're working on album number three at the moment and expectations are high. Can't Wait !