Sunday, February 10, 2019

PSYCH CLASSICS ON A BUDGET

If you're poking around the net, it's hard not to run into some sort of top-10 psych album list.  Psych seems to have become a "hot" retro sound and there's nothing wrong with all of those lists except for the fact most include incredibly rare and financially unattainable selections.  Just saw one that included C.A. Quintet's "A Trip Thru Hell". Yeah, it's a great LP, but with recent sales prices topping $1,100, most of us will never see, let alone own, an original copy.  

Anyhow, that got me thinking about enjoyable, yet affordable psych albums that have crossed my path.  There are plenty of candidates around and here are ten for consideration.  I limited myself to '60s and '70s releases and I defined affordable as an album you could find in VG+ conditions for less than $80.00.  Remember that my tastes may not be close to what you like.  The other characteristic these ten album share is that you can find good condition copies and buying all ten will cost you less than a single C.A. Quintet LP.

So, here's the list, in no particular order:







Colours









Rating: **** (4 stars)
Title: Colours
Company: Dot
Catalog: DLP-25854
Year: 1968

Country/State: Oklahoma
Reasonable price: $40.00

Interestingly some reference works I've come across show this outfit as being English (probably due to the fact their name was spelled with the added English 'o'). Don't be fooled since the band's roots can be traced to Oklahoma where drummer Chuck Blackwell and bassist Carl Radle were buddies with a young Leon Russell. Guitarist Rob Edwards had previously been a member of Eddie and the Showmen.

Best known for the fact their initially lineup included future Derek & the Dominos/Jimmy Buffett bassist Radle, this five piece survived long enough to release a pair of interesting and highly diverse late-1960s albums. The debut is a little heard psych classic; the follow-up a far more conventional and altogether less impressive work.

Produced by Danny Moore and Richard Delvy, 1968's "Colours" offered up a nifty set of Beatles-styled pop-rock. Penned by guitarist Jack Dalton and keyboard player Gary Montgomery, material such as "Love Heals", "Helping You Out", "Where Is She" and "I Think of Her (She's On My Mind)" (the latter baring an uncanny resemblance to the forthcoming Badfinger), offered up a wonderful collection of harmony-rich, radio-ready pop. One of the year's most impressive debuts, the set was full of playful psychedelic touches. Highlights included the droning, raga-influenced "Rather Be Me", the sitar-and-bagpipe (don't ask) propelled "Brother Lou's Love Colony" and the ominous leadoff "Bad Day At Black Rock, Baby" (which found the band effortlessly shifting thought at least a half dozen time changes). Unfortunately with public tastes already moving beyond the summer of love, the collection was overlooked by the press and the buying public. (Dock the set half a star for Jon Borgzinner's pompous liner notes ("Colours have the crystalline sharpness of the Beatles before they turned acid.") and for the tacky Nehru jackets the band sported on the front and back covers.)

Yeah, you can criticize the album as being imitative (and it was), but it was a fun set from start to finish and you couldn't help but be impressed who good the imitations were. One of my favorites mid-'60s albums and you can still find affordable copies.



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Genesis







Genre: psych
Rating: **** (4 stars)
Title: In the Beginning
Company: Mercury
Catalog: SR 61775
Year: 1968
Country/State: Los Angeles, California

Reasonable price: $60.00

Here's an outfit I'd like to know more about ... To be honest, It took me years to find anything more than biographical tidbits on the group. I knew guitarist Jac Ttanna had been a member of the L.A.-based Fender IV and The Sons of Adam (he played under his given name Joe Kooken) and that was about it. Luckily I found Ttanna's website where he talked a bit about the band. Hopefully he'll be okay with me borrowing those reflections:

The Sons of Adam broke up for good in June of 1967. I spent most of that summer writing songs and looking for kindred spirits. I met Sue Richmond around the middle of July. She was beautiful and really talented. We worked up a few songs, and when we played them for Mike Port, he saw that we were on to something and joined immediately.

About a month later I found Kent Henry and Bob Metke around the same time in different bars playing in different bands. Kent was playing guitar with Eddie James and the Pacific Ocean. Eddie was a great showman, but the band was going nowhere. Eddie eventually turned to acting and became very successful as Edward James Olmos. Bob was the drummer in a band called Rain...also a pretty good band, but it was obvious that Kent and Bob were both way better than their bands, and both were ready to move on. Both these guys blew me away. Kent was knowledgeable in almost every form of music, and a technical monster. Bob was the funkiest drummer I'd ever seen, and also a great singer. I knew we were going to be very good. Mike Port, for some reason, didn't see it that way,
and left. Kent's best friend, Fred Rivera, was the bass player in the Pacific Ocean. He was eager to keep playing with Kent, and, with the addition of "Foxey" Freddy, Genesis was born. The premise of the group was to incorporate great songs and great harmonies with a really creative power trio. It worked!

The band only lasted a couple of years, pulled apart by numerous internal struggles, but, during that time, we played some very strong shows, and made some great music. I've included a link to his website below.

As for my impressions of their sole album; well 1968's "In the Beginning" is nothing less than great. Yeah, it was a bit too diverse for the band's own good, including stabs at folk rock, sensitive singer/songwriter tunes, as well as pop, and hard rock, but at it's best ('Angeline'), the album bore a nice comparison to the Jefferson Airplane, though without the Airplane's penchant for needless hippy excesses. Musically the set offered up a mixture of hard rock (the opener 'Angelina'), folk-rock ('Gloomy Sunday') and California-styled mid-1960s' psych (the fuzz guitar drenched 'What's It All About'). As exemplified by a nice cover of Leonard Cohen's 'Suzanne', Richman and Ttanna had great voices that blended well and were effortlessly capable of handling the album's different genres. Personal favorite - Henry's meltdown performance on the extended closer 'World without You'. 

Elsewhere Mercury tapped the album for a pair of instantly obscure singles:
- 1968's 'Angelina' b/w 'Suzanne' (Mercury catalog number 72806)
- 1968's 'Gloomy Sunday' b/w 'What's It All About' (Mercury catalog number 72869)

Following the album's release, Rivera was drafted. He was quickly replaced by Jimmy Chappell. Unfortunately the album did little commercially and within a couple of months the band had called it quits. 

In the wake of the band's breakup Henry played with The Blues Image, Charity, and was a member of a late-inning Steppenwolf lineup. Suffering from Alzheimer's later in life, his health deteriorated and in 2009 he died from bowel problems. There's a nice, if heartbreaking remembrance of Kent at: http://www.imorial.com/kenthenry/

Following his military service Rivera hooked up with Delaney Bramblett, while Richman briefly sang with The Thieves.

For his part Ttanna remained active in music through the '70s, among other jobs, serving as a road manager for Canned Heat and working as a sessions player for producer Richard Perry. He's also recorded some solo material and fronts The Jac Ttanna Band. He has a small website at: http://jacttanna.com/index.html

Anyhow, the Genesis album is increasingly difficult to find and starting to attract attention among collectors, so grab a copy if the chance arises.



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Hamilton Streetcar








Genre: pop-psych
Rating: **** (4 stars)
Title: Hamilton Streetcar
Company: Dot
Catalog: DLP-25939
Year: 1968
Country/State: Los Angeles, California

Reasonable Price: $40.00

First off let me apologize for my role in spreading incorrect and incomplete data on the internet. I had this band's history fouled up for the longest time and I probably still don't have all the details straight. That said, it's much closer to reality now. As for the earlier mistakes and oversights - they weren't done on purpose, rather I simply had no idea about the group's pre-LP existence. Hopefully I've come closer to their true story with this update.

As for their sole LP, I've listened to it at least twenty times and can't decide whether it's a great slice of late-1960s psych, or an over-hyped piece of MOR sludge ... I lean to the former. Sound like a strange contradiction? It is and you'll have to judge for yourself.

So first for the biographical information. Bassist Bart Conway and guitarist Tom Fannon had been members of a high school surf band The Regents. By 1965 they'd expanded their repertoire to more conventional rock, added keyboardist John Burge (aka Ian Hamilton), drummer Barry McGuire (quickly replaced by Danny Fantz, who was then replaced by Greg Hart), and singer Ralph Plummer to the lineup. They also picked up a new name - The Chosen Few. Within a short period they'd mutated into Rollin' Machine (the name supposedly inspired by their drummer's recreational habits), replaced Conway with Jay Alan and started to attract attention on the local club scene and by serving as opening for various national touring acts. Their big break came as a result of playing a UCLA frat party. The performance attracted the attention of Forrest Hamilton (son of jazz drummer Chico Hamilton), who signed on as group manager. Hamilton's initial efforts to attract the attention of major labels went nowhere. That changed when he somehow caught the attention of the ever eccentric Lee Hazlewood who promptly signed the band to his newly established LHI label. Debuting with the 1968 Plummer-penned single 'Invisible People' b/w 'Flash' (LHI catalog number 17016), the group managed one follow-up single ('Confusion' b/w 'Your Own Comedown' (LHI catalog number 45-1206), before switching to Dot Records.

Former Challengers drummer Richard Delvy signed the band to Dot. Unfortunately Delvy apparently had little interest in the group's original sound, rather was interested in using them as a backing group for material written by John Boylan. Perhaps not a major surprise, but dreaded creative differences quickly arose within the band and within a matter of months the band had basically fallen apart leaving Plummer and keyboardist Hamilton to carry on as the sole survivors. Boylan, Plummer and Hamilton quickly recruited singer/guitarist Buzz Clifford (who'd enjoyed an early 1960s hit with 'Baby Sittin' Boogie') and finished the album with backing from sessions players.

In the wake of the personnel turmoil, 1969's "Hamilton Streetcar" found the survivors working with producer Richard Delvy. The impact on creativity was obvious. Whereas Plummer had previously written all of the band's material (he'd reportedly written some 50 tracks for their catalog), on the album his contributions were limited handling lead vocals and penning the pop-flavored 'Silver Wings'. That left the newly recruited Clifford to pick up the creative slack (rounded out by numerous cover tunes). Structurally the set was certainly odd, largely forsaking conventional three minute song structures in favor of a pair of side long, multi-part suites that frequently interweaved main themes with shorter refrains (examples included Clifford's 'Welcome into Your World' and a cover of Tim Buckley's 'Pleasant Street'). Heavily orchestrated tracks like their cover of Lee Michael's 'Streetcar', Boylan's 'Brother Speed' (which the original band line up actually included in their live repertoire) and 'I See I Am' featured an engaging mixture of lounge act, MOR pop, with occasional psych moves. The song quality bounced all over the place (Plummer himself has slammed the LP - see below), but several of the tracks were simply great - 'Wouldn't It Be Nice (To Have Wings and Fly)' and Plummer's 'Silver Wings' were personal favorites. Not a perfect comparison, but songs like 'Now I Taste the Tears' and the instrumental 'Entre Acte' sounded a bit like Curt Boetcher and Gary Usher's work with Sagittarius. It certainly wouldn't appeal to everyone, but folks into sunshine pop, or Boylan's work with Appletree Theatre would probably find a great deal to like. Definitely different, the set has grown on me each time around ... I've got a personal use CDR loaded in my CD jukebox.


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Glitterhouse










Genre: pop-psych
Rating: **** (4 stars)
Title: Color Blind
Company: DynoVoice
Catalog: DY 31905
Year: 1968
Country/State:
Reasonable price: $50.00


Here's another one I have to admit not knowing much about ...

Managed by Marty Erlichman, The Glitterhouse featured the talents of Hank Aberle, singer Michael Gayle, Al Lax, keyboard player Moogy Klingman and drummer Joel "Bishop" O'Brien. Signed to a performing and recording contract by Bob Crewe (of Four Seasons fame), their sole LP was produced by Crewe for his DynoVoice label. With Gayle penning all nine tracks, 1968's "Color Blind" was musically diverse - occasionally even bordering on the schizophrenic. Exemplified by material such as "Tinkerbell's Mind", "Princess of the Gingerland" and "Child of Darkness (Journey of a Child Traveler)" the "A" side was full of trippy lyrics surrounded by shimmering melodies and tight group harmonies ("Sassafrass and Cinnamon"). In contrast, most of the flip side found the band taking an enjoyable stab at top-40 blue-eyed soul ("I Lost Me a Friend" and "Hey Woman"). At least a couple of reference works have drawn comparisons with Procol Harum. While organs are prominent with both groups, to our ears it's a poor comparison; Glitterhouse's sound far lighter and more commercial. In case you were wondering, the LP vanished without a trace. (The set was originally released with a cool foil cover.)




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Chrysalis








Genre: psych
Rating: 4 stars **** 
Title: Definition
Company: MGM
Catalog: SE 4547
Year: 1968
Country/State: I
thaca, New York
Reasonable price: $40.00

This is the first album I ever bought at a yard sale. I remember picking it up and hesitating whether to pick it or a Thin Lizzy LP for the $1.00 asking price. I ended up with both for $1.50 ... guess I'm showing my age here. Anyhow, warning that my background with this album may have colored my opinions a little bit.

Fronted by singer/guitarist James Spider Barbour, Chrysalis came together when the members were attending Cornell University. Supporting Barbour were bassist Paul Album, keyboardist Ralph Kotkov, singer Nancy Nairn, guitarist Jon Sabin, and drummer Dahaud Shaar. The six members quickly gave up their college careers, moving to New York City where they found a fan in the form of Frank Zappa. By a quirk of fate the band's rehearsal space was across the street from the Garrick Theatre where Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention were playing. Zappa's interest in the group saw Barbour record with Zappa and The Mothers of Invention. He appeared on Zappa's1967 solo debut "Lumpy Gravy" and The Mothers of Invention's "We're Only In It for the Money". That connection may have helped the band score a contract MGM Records (which happened to be Zappa's label). Signed by MGM, the band was originally interested in having Zappa produce their debut. In the midst of a struggle to escape his own contract with MGM, Zappa politely declined, leaving former Au Au Go-Gos producers Jim Friedman and talent manager Charlie Joffe to handle sessions for 1968's "Definition".

With Barbour responsible for all of the material, the album's always struck me as epitomizing the true mid-'60s hippie vibe - something that sounded like it had the Summer of Love dripping all over it (though recorded a year later). Barbour's musical influences were heady and diversified, including a wide array of musical genres ranging from Dixieland jazz ('30 Poplar'); lysergic-tinged ballads ('Summer in Your Savage Eyes'), and even Zappa inspired quirkiness ('Dr. Root's Garden'). Coupled with Barbour's raspy voice, it wasn't the year's most conventional, or catchy album. But like trying to master any skill, perseverance pays off. Underneath the band quirkiness and seeming lack of focus lay some real talent. It's an album where there was only one bad song - the lame ballad 'Lake Hop'. Yeah, about half of the album was so-so, but the other half was full of first rate performances like the English Toytown inspired 'Father's Getting Old', 'Piece of the Sun', and the catchy as all 'Baby Let Me Show You Where I Live'. Sounds like kind of a cop out, but it's really one of those albums that gets better the more often you listen to it. Barbour and company were the real thing - true members of that '60s generation, following their muse, rather than selling out to a record company.

Chrysalis were scheduled to tour in support of the album, but their manager reportedly absconded with the touring budget, blowing it on a trip to Vegas. The band soldiered on through 1970, even recording some demo material for a projected second album. Several of those tracks 'The Dues Are Hard', 'Gimme Your Love', 'Sink In Deeper', 'Window Shopping', 'Wheel I Can Ride' and 'Cold and Windy City' appeared on a 2005 reissue of the album (Revola catalog number CR RV 104). The songs are actually quite good ('Gimme Your Love), if considerably more mainstream than anything on the debut.




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Bit 'a Sweet
    








Genre: pop-psych
Rating: *** (3 stars)
Title: Hypnotic 1
Company: ABC
Catalog: ABC-640
Year: 1968
Country/State: Long Island, New York
    
Reasonable price: $80.00

Every now and then I stumble across an album that doesn't quite knock my socks off, but keeps finding its way back to my turntable. Surprisingly they tend to be albums that others haven't gushed over. Long Island's Bit'a Sweet is a perfect example in that most reviews are lukewarm, or outright hostile, but at least to my ears this set kicks the crap out of many higher priced collectibles. This is also another one of those ABC releases that seems to have all but vanished the minute it was released.

While Bit'a Sweet was apparently a full fledged band consisting of keyboardist Dennis DeRespino, drummer Russell Leslie, bassist Mitch London and guitarist Jack Mieczkowski, the late Steve Duboff seems to have been the mastermind and driving force behind the group.

Originally signed to MGM, the band debuted with a rare 1967 single. If you can find a copy of the 45, be prepared to pay more for it than for their ABC LP.

- 1967's 'Out of Sight Out of Mind' b/w 'Is It On - Is It Off?' (MGM catalog number K-13695).

I'm not sure if the single led to their appearance in Raf Mauro's exploitation film Blonde On a Bum Trip, or vice versa,. Regardless, the band had a cameo in the flick playing 'Out of Sight Out of Mind' in a club scene. The video and sound quality aren't very good (not that the original black and white film was any great shakes in the production quality arena), but someone was kind enough to stick a clip of their performance on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVlXkq06mx8

Signed by ABC, the liner notes to 1968's "Hypnotic 1" credit Duboff with producing, directing, arranging, writing the majority of the material, as well as providing keyboards and percussion. Long-time partner Artie Kornfeld was listed as co-writer on a pair of songs. Musically most of the nine tracks mixed lite-psych with a distinctive top-40 edge and small dollops of experimentation (notably quite a bit of electric sitar, occasional oscillators, phasing, various studio effects and early synthesizer gurgles and gasps). There's nothing particularly original to be found on the collection though it's fun to play spot the influence - some Association-styled harmonies here ('2086'), Felix Cavalerie and the Rascals blue-eyed soul there ('How Can I Make You See), bit of Beatles inspired mysticism (the 'Blue Jay Way'-styled 'Travel'), etc. ... While that may not sound real promising, those comments are actually meant as a positive endorsement. The album is nothing but fun and the band turn in a great cover of George Harrison's 'If I Needed Someone' (which is erroneously credited as a Lennon and McCartney composition) !!! To be honest the only real disappointments are associated with the band's efforts to get cute - '2086' suffered from some irritating synthesizer noise and a cloying pseudo-music hall sound, while the heavily phased 'Monday - Tuesday' sounds like Alvin and the Chipmunks trying to cover some obscure 1920s-era song after spending the afternoon huffing helium. All told though, a pleasant and still affordable major label surprise. Shame they never got a chance to record anything else.


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ARS Nova








Genre: psych
Rating: **** (4 stars)
Title: ARS Nova
Company: Elektra
Catalog: EKS-5002
Year: 1967
Country/State: New York City, New York
Comments: unipack sleeve

Reasoble price: $25.00


1966 found classical musicians Wyatt Day (flamenco guitar) and John Pierson (bass trombone) having dropped out of Manhattan's Mannes College of Music.  With the pair sharing a taste for rock and roll, they were increasingly frustrated with their inability to pursue their own musical interests, let alone make a decent living in music.  Paying their bills teaching music and through other menial jobs, the pair occasionally got together with friends for a series of jam sessions in a Bronx church.  Those sessions included drummer Maury Baker, trumpet player Bill Folwell, lead guitarist Giovanni Papalia, and bass player John Raskin. One of those sessions caught the attention of Doors producer Paul Rothchild.

Signed by Rothchild to Elektra Record, the group put in several months of intense rehearsals, including a single September, 1967 concert in Philadelphia, before going into the studios to record an album under Rothchild's guidance. Released under the name ARS Nova (a Latin term for Renaissance music),1968's "ARS Nova" found the band equally at home with classical inspired ballads (the Baroque-influenced single 'Pavan for My Love'), precursor Blood, Sweat and Tears horn arrangements ('General Clover Ends a War') and prototype heavy rock ('And How Am I To Know').  Day provided the majority of material (much of it co-written with either Pierson), but since the group didn't have enough material stockpiled for a full album, non-member Gregory Copeland was brought in to co-write several tunes.  The group's efforts to blend classical and rock elements was interesting, if occasionally a tad pretentious. Imagine a less bubble gummy version of The Left Banke and you'll get a feel for the set. Personal favorites, the sweet ballad 'And How Ma I To Know' and  the popish single 'Fields of People'.   In spite of decent reviews, including an extensive write-up in the June 1968 edition of Life, the set failed to sell. (The album was originally released with a unipack sleeve.  The back cover photo showing band member life masks was a bit creepy) 



Short of ground breaking, and an album that takes some time and effort to get into, but it's a collection that I've come to enjoy and appreciate more and more over the years.

Elektra's marketing machine certainly didn't do the band any favors and after an ill-advised and horrible performance opening for The Doors at New York's Fillmore East, the band fragmented with original members Baker, Folwell, Owens, and Papalia quitting. 


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H.P. Lovecraft







Genre: psych
Rating: **** (4 stars)
Title: H.P. Lovecraft
Company: Phillips
Catalog: PHS 600 252
Country/State: Chicago, Illinois
Year: 1967
Reasonable price: $60.00

An exceptionally talented band, it's hard to understand how Chicago's H.P. Lovecraft (the name came from their manager's dog who was in turn named after the famed 1920s' horror/fantasy writer Howard Phillips Lovecraft), didn't become a major mid-1960s' act.  These guys had it all, except for luck.

Having tried his hand as a New York-based folk singer, touring and recording an album as a member of The Village Singers, and supporting the folk duo Len and Judy, by 1965 singer/guitarist George Edwards was back in his native Chicago.   He started playing on the city's club circuit, finding a mentor in the former of manager George Badonsky who brought the singer to the attention of his partner Bill Traut and helped him record a couple of sides for their Chicago-based Dunwich label (itself named after an H.P. Lovecraft story).  Pulled from those sessions, in 1966 Dunwich released an Edwards solo 45:

- 1966's 'Norwegian Wood' b/w 'Never Mind, I'm Freezing (Dunwich catalog number 45-117)

Paying his bills working for Dunwich as a sessions vocalist, Edwards somehow managed to convince company executives to let him form a band and take another stab at recording material. Teaming up with singer/keyboardist Dave Michaels, the duo "borrowed" bassist Frank Bartoli, guitarist Kal David and drummer Fred Pappalardo (all members of The Rovin Kind), to record their debut single 'Anyway That You Want Me' b/w 'It's All Over For You' (Philips catalog number 40464). While the single failed to chart it generated considerable media interest allowing Edwards and Michaels to recruit a full time band, consisting of guitarist Tony Cavallari, bassist Tom Skidmore (quickly replaced by former Shadows of the Knight alumnus Jerry McGeorge) and drummer Michael Tegza.  

While their debut single failed to chart it attracted enough attention for Philips to finance an LP.   The band's self-titled 1967 debut showcased an impressive mixture of originals and well chosen cover tunes. Crediting their inspiration to novelist H.P. Lovecraft's "macabre tales and poems of Earth populated by another race" "H.P. Lovecraft" found the band taking folk-rock structures and adding a series of psychedelic touches (stabbing organs, woodwinds, feedback guitar) to a set full of great vocals, strong melodies and killer harmonies. The results were nothing short of inspired.  Gifted vocalists on their own, Edwards and Michaels also had the ability to knit their voices together, turning in some of the era's tightest harmonies.  On tracks such as 'That's the Bag I'm In' and 'White Ship' (the later inspired by the H.P. Lovecraft novella) the results made for a dynamite presentation.  Epitomized by dark swirling arrangements, material such as their cover of 'Let's Get Together' (recorded a full year before The Youngblood's version), 'The Drifter' and 'Wayfaring Stranger' managed to be dark and depressing but still retain a highly commercial edge. Elsewhere, their Jefferson Airplane-styled cover of 'I've Been Wrong Before' made them one of the first band's to cover Randy Newman's eclectic catalog. Philips tapped the album for a pair of singles:

- 1967's 'Wayfaring Stranger' b/w 'Time Machine' (Philips catalog number 40491)
- 1967's 'White Ship Part 1' b/w 'White Ship Part 2' (Philips catalog number 40506)

There second LP is almost as good.

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The Human Beinz








Genre: pop-psych
Rating: *** (3 stars) 
Genre: psych
Title: Nobody But Me
Company: Capital 

Catalog: ST 2906
Year: 1968 
Reasonable price: $25.00



Produced by Lex de Azevedo (who was also credited with contributed four songs to the collection),1968's "Nobody But Me" found The Human Beinz finally making it to the big time via a contract with Capital.  Musically the set offered up a standard mix of popular covers with the band allowed to record a couple of originals.  Admittedly it was inconsistent, but given their youth and inexperience, I've always found this set to be charming.  On YouTube, rhythm guitarist Markulin described the band as "We were four self taught musicians that really didn't have much studio experience before Capitol signed us.  We just listened to the way the Beatles recorded and realized most of the fullness of their sound came from the piano and acoustic guitar."   I'd argue that was somewhat of an understatement since the overall sound was quite diverse and technically impressive.  While their cover of Hendrix's "Foxey Lady" wasn't anything special, elsewhere 'The Shaman', '' and 'Turn On Your Love Light' were all strong garage rockers. Blessed with a suitably taunt and raw voice, Belley proved well suited for the material, while the rest of the band displayed more competence than expected from your average bar band.  Elsewhere 'Flower Grave', a cover of the traditional ballad 'Black Is the Color of My True Love's Hair' and the bizarro Beach Boys-collide-with-The-Beatles 'It's Fun To Be Clean' were interesting in that they found the band taking tentative steps towards a more psychedelic-oriented sound.  At least to my ears the album's most atypical performance was also the standout - 'Dance On Through'.  With a distinctive pop edge, the combination of strumming guitars and tinkling organ made the song irresistible.  

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ROBERT SAVAGE








Rating: **** (4 stars)
Title: The Adventures of Robert Savage, Volume 1
Company: Paramount
Catalog: PAS-6016
Year: 1971
Country/State: California, USA
Reasonable price: $25.00

Anyone got a clue on this short-lived early 1970s trio?  The fact that their sole album was recorded in California with Keith Olsen engineering leads me to believe they were American, but who knows.  
Released by Paramount Records, 1971's "The Adventures of Robert Savage, Volume 1" is one of those albums that initially doesn't seem to have a great deal going for it.  Based on the sci-fi cover I bought it expecting something vaguely progressive.  Not even close.  LOL.  The first time I spun it the Hendrix-styled rockers quickly faded into background noise. It wasn't bad by any stretch of the imagination, rather just wasn't very imaginative.  Luckily I dumped it into an 'also ran' pile that I came back to a couple of months later.  Mind you, this set won't change your life in any way, but namesake guitarist Savage (aka Bobby Arlin or The Hook and The Leaves fame), singer/ bassist Don Parish and drummer Tommy Richards turned in what is a pretty impressive set of Hendrix-inspired hard rock and white boy blues.  With Savage/Arlin and Parish responsible for most of the nine compositions, tracks like 'Amy (The Insane)' and the instrumental 'Road Apples' demonstrated that Savage was a more than competent guitarist. That said, the band's secret weapon was singer/bassist Parish.  Parish had a killer growl of a voice that bore a mild resemblance to a more versatile Tony Joe White, or perhaps James Dewar (of Robin Trower fame).  Virtually everything he sang was worth hearing.  On the other hand lyrically tracks such as 'Beaver Baby', ' A Hard One' and 'Seven Days Drunk' weren't exactly Pulitzer Prize noteworthy, though they were goofy enough to be worth hearing.   Be sure to check out 'Amy (The Insane)'). It all came together in the form of the bizarre 'Save Us from the Cyclops'.  
Definitely derivative, but it's one of those albums that I find gets better every time I spin it.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

TED NUGENT SALE

I don't identify with any particular political party, rather vote on the issues as I see them.  That means I tend to be pretty conservative with respect to fiscal issues and a little more liberal with respect to other issues impacting day-to-day lifestyle choices. 

So what's that got to do with my interests in music?  Well, I saw this little blurb in the news.  

"Don’t ask why. Just know that evil, dishonesty, and scam artists have always been around and that right now they’re liberal, they’re Democrat, they’re RINOs, they’re Hollywood, they’re fake news, they’re media, they’re academia, and they’re half of our government, at least.  So come to that realization. There are rabid coyotes running around. You don’t wait till you see one to go get your gun. Keep your gun handy, and every time you see one, you shoot one.”

Ted Nugent in an interview with Media Matters

I've actually been a longtime fan of Nugent the musician.  I have a bunch of his albums going all the way back to his Amboy Dukes days. As a teenager I found his brand of independence kind of entertaining and will admit I spent way too much time listening to the live LP, but when anyone suggests killing a fellow American; particularly because you don't happen to agree with their political outlook ...  Yeah, that's a real problem.  Hopefully Nugent was just trying to be humorous, but that statement isn't funny.  It's about as funny as pointing out Nugent has taken pride in telling the media he was a draft dodger during the Vietnam war.  I won't even bother going into the story of how a then 30 year old Nugent reportedly adopted a 17 year old girl so he could live with her (no, the relationship was not your typical father-daughter set-up, not did the relationship last).  And this man is a representative of the National Rifle Association?   Seriously, the NRA wants someone like the Nugent representing them?  Out of the 300+ million Americans, he's their choice?  They seriously condone a message like this?  

Well, what about free speech ...  You can't yell "fire" in a movie theater.  You can't piss on your neighbor's door.  So why should he be allowed to condemn roughly half of all Americans?



So I was going to sell my Nugent record collection at a bargain price and then donate the few dollars I received to some local Mothers Against Violence coalition.  Instead I decided to simply pitch the albums in the trash (see below) and I'll make the donation out of my own pocket.


Saturday, January 20, 2018

GOOD JOB MR. PRESIDENT

GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN COMES ON TRUMP 1-YEAR ANNIVERSARY

"I’m a very good mediator and a very good arbitrator. I have done plenty of it from both sides."


DONALD TRUMP


Seriously ?   You just shut down the government Mr. President.  Your negotiating skills are about as good as the rest of your skills set ..  Not much to be proud of in that package.  I think my 14 year old could have done a better job handling this situation. 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Trump's 'Extreme Vetting' Leaves Thousands Scrambling At Airports

I'm not particularly political, but this is not the America that I know and love.  For the first time in my life I wrote my Governor and my Senators asking them to fight against this action.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

SPHINX "JUDAS"




Artist: Spinx

Album; Judas
Year: 1977
Label: Raas
Catalog: 2933 105
Condition: VG+ cover / VG+ LP






I'll admit it - I'm addicted to buying interesting looking albums by bands I know nothing about.   Most of the time they turn out to be crap, but once in awhile I stumble across something that's good, or at least interesting in a bizarre fashion.


Well, this one certainly fits the latter category.


Alec R. Costandinos started out as a singer, but enjoyed his initial international successes working with the band Aphrodite's Child and Vangelis in his solo career.  By the mid''70s he was also dabbling in disco and with partner Don Ray made this bizarre album.  Released in 1977 at the zenith of disco madness, "Judas" featured two side-long songs - "Judas Iscariot" and "Simon Peter," basically setting the story of Judas' betrayal of Christ.to a disco beat. The disco arrangement's aren't anything you haven't heard before (okay the Gregorian chants are a little out of the ordinary), but the theme ... well hard for me to picture coked out dance patrons shaking their groove things to this one.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

EVER HAD A SONG CREEP INTO YOUR HEAD?

My father died about 20 years ago.  He's buried in a small cemetery in Leesburg, Virginia.  His grave is in the cemetery's older section, surrounded my a mixture of older and newer graves.  Overlooking this section of the graveyard is a majestic, old Maple tree.

Anyhow, I had a physical this morning and after getting through it unscathed, I decided to take the day off.  After doing a couple of other chores I suddenly decided to drive out to Leesburg to say hello and make sure his plot was clean.  

It was one of those wonderful Fall  days.  Bright blue skies; warm sunshine; green, green grass, and that Maple tree just beginning to change colors.  Anyhow, as I was standing there trimming the grass around the grave James Taylor's 'September Grass' climbed into my head.  It was the perfect soundtrack for the afternoon.  Simply one of my favorite Taylor tunes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7vsh-YZxFw


Saturday, October 1, 2016

ROCK'S WORST VOICES

I writing this knowing full well I have no musical talents.  After all, how many folks do you know who have been kicked out of seventh grade recorder band? 

Against that backdrop I have zero credentials for criticizing other folks.  'Course that's not going to stop me from putting this list on the web.

# 10 - Tony Bird

Bird's a white African born in Malawi, living in New York.  He's recorded sporadically since the mid-'70s with a couple of obscure albums seeing an American release (1976's "Tony Bird", 1978's "Tony Bird of Paradise", and 1990's "Sorry Africa").   Imagine a mash-up of old Bob Dylan and "Graceland" era Paul Simon and you'll have a rough idea of what Bird sounds like.  His voice is something else.  Thin, dry, and nasally, he sings as if infected with a nasty lisp.  His accent (apparently a mix of English and Afrikaans) makes it even harder to figure out what he's singing about (though the themes are often activist in nature related to his home country).  

Admittedly the sound quality isn't particularly good and this is a live performance, but this clip from a 1983 performance at the Winnipeg Folk Festival will give you a taste of Mr. Bird:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyJRQ2JWkEg