sexta-feira, 21 de outubro de 2016

Strawberry Path - When The Raven Has Come To The Earth (1971 japan, killer psychedelic/hard blues-rock) Flac

This terrible band was an appalling sour mash of American Breed cod-psychedelia overlain with lashings of the kind of shrill spewdo operetta that would disgrace the grooves of Uriah Heep’s dopey SALISBURY LP twelve months hence.

Like most of the so-called heavy Japanese bands of the period, Strawberry Path was in actuality anything but. Generally, their catholic sound is eclectic and overwrought, with arrangements being of the everything-including-the-kitchen-sink variety.

Music freaks claim songs such as ‘Leave Me, Woman’, ‘Woman Called Yellow Z’ and ‘I Gotta See My Gypsy Woman’ as evidence of the band’s good intentions, but the band’s deft performances of such daft AOR drool as ‘Mary Jane On My Mind’ and Marmalade/Hollies soundalike ‘The Second Fate’ suggests their hearts were more naturally in this non-headspace.

The band was really a duo with help from occasional bassists Hisashi Eto and former Powerhouse bassist George Yanagi, the latter also contributing a lead vocal, as he did for the Shinki Chen solo LP. 

Strawberry Path would eventually mutate into the equally poor Flied Egg (great band name, at least!). Drummer Hiro Tsunoda would thereafter throw in the towel completely, going for total sub-sub-Peters & Lee meltdown with his agonisingly bad solo LP MARY JANE, a 1977 barrel-scraper featuring all of his previous crimes against rock, plus an unashamed copy of Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway To Heaven’ done in a Danish Eurovision style. Although Strawberry Path’s original Philips LP sleeve names the record WHEN THE RAVEN HAS COME DOWN TO EARTH, it is occasionally listed under the Japanese title OHTORI GA CHIKYU NI YATTEKITAHI (review by Julian Cope).

This is an album that will appeal to garage fans, psych heads, mondo music lovers and acid freaks alike, merging as it does a variety of Western influences, ranging from Jimi Hendrix (check out Shigeru Narumo's hard psych guitar) to Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple.

01.I Gotta See My Gypsy Woman
02.Woman Called Yellow "Z"
03.Second Fate
04.Five More Pennies
05.Maximum Speed Of Moji Bird
06.Leave Me Woman
07.Mary Janes On My Mind
08.Spherical Illusion
09.When The Raven Has Come To The Earth

Strawberry Path:

Shigeru Narumo – lead guitar, keyboards, vocals
Hiro Tsunoda – drums, vocals

sábado, 15 de outubro de 2016

Jasper - Liberation (1969 uk, brilliant psychedelic/progressive blues-rock, Japan reissue, remastered, papersleeve) Flac

In the crowded underbrush of the late sixties British psych blues scene Jasper was definitely at the head of its class. 

The quintet's personalized blues style, with Steve Radford's excellent lead-guitar lighting the way (punctuated also by their keen use of flute and harpsichord) is well expressed in the inspired version of 'Baby Please Don't Go' and 'Ain't no Peace'. Unfortunately soon after the release of their rare l969 debut album Liberation the group disbanded and disappeared from the scene...

There's John Mayall-styled blues-rock ("Ain't No Peace," "Confusion"), Colosseum like jazz blues rock ("Baby Please Don't Go," "The Beard"), rambling morbid bluesy instrumental jamming (including a six-minute wordless version of "St. Louis Blues" with hauntingly sad harmonica), and a Baroque-psychedelic arrangement of Donovan's "Cuttin' Out."...

Brilliant 1969 UK progressive psych with a blues feel. Don't let that put you off though — early Jethro Tull had a blues edge and this album is very similar in feel to that band. Definitely a classic of the era. Features superb psych artwork. 
Above album was originally released on Spark Rec. Not too much is known about the band. 

01. Liberation I /Written-By – A. Feldman/ (3:47)
02. Ain't No Peace /Written-By – N. Payn, S. Radford/ (2:56)
03. Baby Please Don't Go /Written-By – J. Williams/ (7:18)
04. Shelagh /Written By – Hozier/Dolland/ (2:24)
05. Liberation Interlude /Written-By – A. Feldman/ (1:15)
06. Liberation Interlude /Written-By – A. Feldman/ (0:33)
07. Confusion /Written-By – J. Taylor, N. Payn/ (2:29)
08. St. Louis Blues /Written-By – W. C. Handy/ (6:32)
09. Cuttin' Out /Written-By – D. Leitch/ (2:42)
10. The Beard /Written-By – A. Feldman/ (3:49)
11. Liberation II /Written-By – A. Feldman/ (3:08)
12. Finale /Written-By – G. Greenwood, J. Taylor, S. Radford/ (0:48)

sábado, 8 de outubro de 2016

Paul Brett's Sage - Schizophrenia (1972 uk, superb psychedelic/folk/country-rock - Esoteric reissue) Flac

Paul Brett Sage's second full-length, Jubilation Foundry, was a rocking affair that danced delightfully from rock's roots in blues and R&B to its many contemporary nooks and crannies. With their follow-up, 1972's Schizophrenia, PBS dove into the harder side of rock, quite a feat for a group that featured a plethora of percussion but no drummer; although one was brought in for the driving "Slow Down Ma!." But as "Custom Angel Man" proved, Sage could rock like a Band of Gypsies even without one. 

However, it was Southern rockers and jam bands that were the group's strongest influences, and on "Charlene" they bring the two together. Imagine the Allmans fronting the Band to get the idea. The instrumental "Limp Willie," in contrast, features great dueling acoustic guitars, until the song flops over into Grateful Dead territory. "Take Me Back I Will Love You" sounds just like Pink Floyd, minus all their pomposity and self-indulgence, and is one of the album highlights. 

And there's plenty more of those within, from the gorgeous harmonies and acoustic guitars that stream across "Savior of the World" and "Tale of a Rainy Night" to the bluesy show-stopper "Make It Over." But as far afield as PBS seemed to have wandered from their folkie roots and for all their use of electric guitars, the many acoustic elements that initially defined their sound remain, giving the band and this set a sound entirely unlike anything else from the time. 

Routinely labeled acid folk and progressive rock, in fact, Sage were pop/rockers working in a thoroughly unique medium, creating a sound that still thrills today.
01. Custom Angel Man (Paul Brett) - 2:33
02. Charlene (John Hutcheson) - 3:03
03. Song Of Life - Song Of Death (John Hutcheson) - 2:43
04. Slow Down Ma! (John Hutcheson) - 2:56
05. Saviour Of The World (John Hutcheson) - 3:37
06. Limp Willie (Paul Brett, Bob Voice, Dick Dufall, Stuart Cowell) - 1:38
07. Tale Of A Rainy Night (Paul Brett) - 3:00
08. Take Me Back And I Will Love You (John Hutcheson) - 4:10
09. Autumn (Paul Brett) - 4:42
10. Make It Over (Goddard, Philips) - 3:08
11. Bee (Paul Brett) - 0:51
12. Dahlia (single A-side,1972) (Paul Brett) - 4:08

- Paul Brett - lead vocals, acoustic & electric guitar, arranger, producer
- Stuart Cowell - electric guitar
- Dick Dufall - bass, vocals
- Bob Voice - percussion, vocals
- Dave Lambert - piano (01), organ (05,08,10)
- Rod Coomes - drums (04)
- Rob Young - piano (04), flute (09), oboe (09)

sábado, 1 de outubro de 2016

The Yellow Payges -Volume 1 (1969 us, superb garage/psychedelic fuzz-rock) Flac

The Yellow Payges were an American rock band, led by singer Dan Hortter, who were formed in Los Angeles, California in 1966. Although their commercial success was limited, they toured widely and recorded ten singles and an LP before splitting up in 1970.

The band was formed by singer Dan Hortter in Los Angeles in April 1966. Hortter had been a member of a Torrance-based surf rock band, the Driftones, who had just split up. At a performance by his friends in another band, the Palace Guard (whose drummer was Emitt Rhodes), at the Hullabaloo club in Hollywood, he joined the group onstage to play harmonica and sing "I'm a Man". 

His performance so impressed club owner Gary Bookasta that he invited Hortter to bring his own band to support The Newbeats two weeks later. Hortter recruited guitarists John Knox and Larry Tyre, bassist Herby Ratzloff, and drummer Terry Rae (formerly of the Driftones) to play the gig. Rae was then replaced by Dan Gorman, and the group changed its name to become The Yellow Payges.

They began playing regularly at the Hullabaloo, and Bookasta became their manager. There were further personnel changes. Knox and Tyre left and were replaced by Bob Norsoph and Randy Carlisle; and Mike Rummans replaced Ratzloff. When Norsoph and Carlisle themselves left, Rummans moved to guitar and Jim Lanham came in on bass; he was soon replaced in turn by Teddy Rooney, the son of actor Mickey Rooney.

In 1967, the group released their debut single, "Never See the Good in Me" on the Showplace label, a subsidiary of Cameo-Parkway Records. Its local success, together with that of follow-up "Jezebel", resulted in the band signing with Uni Records. They released the single "Our Time Is Running Out", and the group toured the US as part of Dick Clark's Happening '67 package tour of 45 cities in 45 days.

Rummans and Rooney left the band in mid-1968, and were replaced by Bill Ham and Bob Barnes, both from Fort Worth, Texas. Rummans formed a new group, Salt and Pepper, with Rick James, Greg Reeves, and others. The Yellow Payges - now comprising Hortter (lead vocals, harmonica), Ham (lead guitar), Barnes (bass) and Gorman (drums) - continued to release singles, and played the Hollywood Bowl as support to Eric Burdon and the Animals, the Rascals and Tommy James and the Shondells. They also toured for several months as support for The Animals before undertaking a similar role opening for The Beach Boys. 

Other bands with whom the group shared a stage included Buffalo Springfield, the Doors, Pink Floyd, the Byrds, the Grateful Dead, and Jefferson Airplane. The Yellow Payges recorded the LP Vol. 1, released by UNI in mid-1969, and issued several singles including one of their best remembered songs, "Vanilla on My Mind", and a remake of "I'm a Man" which narrowly failed to reach the Billboard Hot 100. They also appeared on numerous regional television shows across the US, and on American Bandstand. Donnie Dacus briefly replaced Ham on lead guitar in 1969.

The group were then hired to appear in a series of commercials for AT&T's Yellow Pages, which, according to writer Jason Ankeny at Allmusic, "effectively destroy[ed] their credibility and their momentum". According to Hortter, "We were put in these hideous yellow satin ruffled shirts with black velvet pants, and did these ridiculous commercials. It pretty much destroyed everything we worked so hard to accomplish." The group broke up in late 1970, during the recording of their second LP.

Garage rockers the Yellow Payges formed in Torrance, California in the fall of 1965 -- while attending a performance by friends the Palace Guard at the Hollywood club the Hullabaloo, vocalist Dan Hortter took the stage to sing a rendition of "I'm a Man," so impressive that club owner Gary Bookasta hired Hortter's own band to back the Newbeats two weeks later. 

The problem was, Hortter's previous band, the Driftones, had dissolved months earlier, but he quickly assembled a new Driftones' lineup including guitarists John Knox and Larry Tyre, bassist Herby Ratzloff, and drummer Terry Rae, also a member of the Palace Guard. Rae resigned almost immediately after the Newbeats gig, with drummer Dan Gorman signing on in time for the group to change its name to the Yellow Payges. They were soon playing the Hullabaloo on a steady basis, with Bookasta signing on as manager -- in 1966, Knox, Tyre, and Ratzloff exited, with guitarists Bob Norsoph and Randy Carlisle, and bassist Mike Rummans signing on in their stead. 

When Norsoph and Carlisle quit soon after, Rummans moved to guitar, with Jim Lanham briefly assuming bass duties prior to the addition of bassist Teddy Rooney, son of Hollywood legend Mickey Rooney. In 1967, this Yellow Payges lineup issued their debut single, the Showplace label effort "Never See the Good in Me" -- "Jezebel" followed later that year, and both records generated enough local buzz to earn the band a contract with major label UNI. In addition to releasing their label debut "Our Time Is Running Out," in late 1967, the Yellow Payges closed out the year as part of Dick Clark's Happening '67, a package tour which traveled to 45 U.S. cities in 45 days. In mid-'68, both Rummans and Rooney exited, with Hortter and Gorman quickly recruiting guitarists Bill Ham and Bob Barnes, both products of Fort Worth, Texas (a geographic quirk resulting in some confusion as to the band's actual hometown). 

On August 16, the Yellow Payges played their biggest-ever show, appearing at the Hollywood Bowl on a bill headlined by the Animals, the Rascals and Tommy James & the Shondells; they spent much of the year to follow supporting their singles "Childhood Friends" and "Crowd Pleaser" on tour with the Animals, later spending six months opening for the Beach Boys. The band's debut LP, Vol. 1, appeared on UNI in mid-'69, generating the singles "Never Put Away My Love for You," and "Vanilla on My Mind"; "Follow the Bouncing Ball" appeared in 1970, and their cover of the warhorse "I'm a Man" (a nod to Hortter's big break) fell just two slots shy of cracking the Billboard Hot 100. 

Somewhat ironically, it was a campaign with AT&T that spelled the Yellow Payges' demise: hired by Wall Street advertising firm Cunningham & Walsh as part of a phone company-sponsored campaign designed to appeal to young audiences, the band was forced to appear in commercials in yellow satin ruffled shirts, effectively destroying their credibility and their momentum. 

After one final single, "Moonfire," the Yellow Payges dissolved in late 1970 -- Barnes later backed Kinky Friedman under the alias Roscoe West, and also collaborated with T-Bone Burnett.
01. The Two Of Us (02:50)
02. Little Women  (02:45)
03. Friends  (03:30)
04. Boogie Woogie Baby (02:10)
05. Crowd Pleaser  (02:30)
06. Moonfire  (01:50)
07. Devil Woman  (03:00)
08. Never Put Away My Love For You  (02:20)
09. I'm A Man / Here 'Tis  (08:45)

sábado, 24 de setembro de 2016

Ancient Grease - Women And Children First (1970 UK, exceptional heavy bluesy/psychedelic rock - Japan Remastered, Paper Sleeve ) Flac

For the vast majority of the fans of Racing Cars, their introduction to the band would have most likely come via their hit single, 'They Shoot Horses Don't They?' which reached number 14 in the UK chart in the spring of 1977. The Welsh band with the West Coast American sound had moved up to London from the Rhondda valley in early 1976, taking advantage of the burgeoning 'pub rock' scene of that time and began to get noticed. With Morty as charismatic front man and with an excellent lead guitarist in Graham Williams, it wasn't too long they found themselves signed to Chrysalis Records, which led to the release of their debut album, 'Downtown Tonight'.

Some fans might know that Racing Cars had already existed in various permutations for a number of years prior to moving to London and a few might have known about an earlier version of the band called Strawberry Dust, but surely it is only fanatical die-hards who would be aware that this band actually released an album as far back as 1970!

It's a long, convoluted story so please pay attention!

The South Wales music scene threw out an incredible number of bands during the early to mid-sixties. Outfits such as Vikings, The Blackjacks, The Mustangs, The King Bees, The Smokestacks, Corncrackers, The Jets and The Bystanders might have been virtually unknown outside of Wales, but they were all part of a thriving local scene that grew and grew. By the late sixties Welsh bands were starting to make a name for themselves across the UK. Originating from the Cardiff area, Amen Corner, with Andy Fairweather-Low, had a string of UK hit singles between 1967 and 1969 and Love Sculpture, led by Dave Edmunds, had a major hit with 'Sabre Dance' in 1967. The Bystanders, out of Merthyr, gradually evolved between 1963 and 1968 to become Man, quite possibly the quintessential Welsh band, and one whose members had all, at one time or another, been involved in some way with just about every South Wales band going! Another local band that were having some success were Eyes of Blue who started out as the Neath-based covers and R&B band, The Mustangs, before a change of name in the mid-sixties. The Eyes of Blue played the same circuit as many other groups such as The Bystanders and The Jets taking in gigs in Llanelli, Swansea, Skewen, Cardiff and Neath, and quickly established a strong reputation on the South Wales music scene. As is usual with semi-pro bands, personnel came and went and one such change happened in early 1966 when drummer John Weathers joined the band.

John Weathers was born on February 7th 1947, in Carmarthen, Carmarthenshire, West Wales, before his family moved to the Swansea area. As a young teenager, John had dabbled with the drums, but didn't practice with any great conviction. In the early sixties, aged just 15, John ran away to Liverpool to live with his aunt as, at the time, he was not seeing eye to eye with his parents. His arrival coincided with the explosion of the Mersey Beat era and John suddenly found there was a need for drummers and duly sent home for his drum kit, playing in bands at night and working as a baker's boy during the day. Two years later, upon his return to Wales, John again found he was in demand, having been part of the Mersey scene and his experience got him gigs with a number of local bands such as Vikings and Brothers Grimm.

John can still recall the vitality and excitement of the South Wales scene and the camaraderie between the local bands. "Swansea in the early sixties and, Cardiff as well for that matter, but particularly Swansea, was just full of bands. There were gigs every single night of the week, there was a great atmosphere between musicians because there wasn't this heavy-duty nasty rivalry between bands that you find in other places. We'd all meet in the early hours of the morning in a curry restaurant and have a ball till 3 o'clock in the morning. Got on great with everybody. Touring bands would come down to one of the five major venues in the area and we'd take them under our wing. We'd put them up while they were here."

By the summer of 1966, Eyes of Blue had turned professional and in further personnel changes had brought in keyboard player Phil Ryan and vocalist Gary Pickford-Hopkins from another Neath-based band, the Smokestacks. Around this time the band entered and won the national Melody Maker 'Beat Contest', which offered the chance of a one-year Decca recording contract. Unfortunately, although they released two singles on the Deram label, 'Heart Trouble' b/w 'Up And Down' (1966) and 'Supermarket Full Of Cans' b/w 'Don't Ask Me To Mend Your Broken Heart' (1967), neither made any impact on the charts and are both considered unrepresentative of the band's sound.

Once the Decca contract had expired, the band signed with the Mercury label, and recorded their first album in Chappell Studios, London between March and July 1968. The debut album, 'Crossroads of Time', was eventually released early in 1969 and revealed much more of an American West Coast sound. John Weathers: "In Wales during the sixties there was a big West Coast movement. We were all playing stuff by Moby Grape and the Doors, Love and that kind of thing." The second Eyes of Blue album, 'In Fields of Ardath', was released in November 1969 and is generally regarded as the more successful of the two albums. The album is certainly more progressive and has been described as having 'pop, R&B, jazz, classical, psychedelic and Eastern influences'!

Back in South Wales, John Weathers had noticed an outfit called Strawberry Dust, a popular covers band on the circuit, who, at that time, consisted of Gareth 'Morty' Mortimer (vocals); Graham Headley Williams (guitar); Jack Bass (bass) and Dick Ferndale (drums). John felt they just had something about them. "I first met them in '68 or '69. Eyes of Blue did a gig with them up the Rhondda. And the next time they came down to the Swansea area, I made a point of going to see them. They were a raunchy little band, very raunchy indeed, but they had a great sound. Pure energy, every one of them loved doing what they were doing and Morty is such an outrageous character. I was very, very impressed with them. I was so impressed that I offered to do a demo with them."

To record the demo the band went into the embryonic Rockfield Studios in Monmouth, then a two-track studio, which had been built in a converted hayloft. Back in October 1968, Eyes of Blue had recorded an album backing American singer-songwriter Buzzy Linhart for the Phillips label and John Weathers chose a Linhart song for Strawberry Dust to record at Rockfield. John Weathers: "We did the tune and I took it to the Eyes of Blue record producer Lou Reizner of Mercury Records and he liked the demo. It all seemed to happen overnight, they got a licensing deal and we went in and recorded an album, which I produced for them. The album was recorded up at Morgan Studios in Willesden. We did a deal where we recorded late at night. From midnight to six in the morning! It took about a week. We recorded the album on 16-track, which had just come in. I remember they were very excited and wanted to double-track everything! This was big stuff for a band from the Rhondda Valley. It was their first time up to London and their first time in a big recording studio."

The fact that Strawberry Dust were primarily a covers band and, at that stage, had not written very much in the way of their own original material luckily did not create much of a problem in the studio, as John Weathers recalls. "I had a lot of spare songs around that would not have suited Eyes of Blue, which was much more progressive rock. My songs were more straight-ahead rock and I thought they would suit Strawberry Dust. The album was really just a vehicle for my songs. The Strawberry Dust boys would have recorded anything we put in front of them! I also played drums on one track and Phil Ryan from Eyes of Blue played keyboards on a couple."

Of the ten tracks on the original album, John Weathers is credited as the sole composer of four tracks: 'Freedom Train', 'Eagle Song', 'Mystic Mountain' and 'Woman and Children First.' 'Odd Song' was written by John together with his Eyes of Blue colleague Gary Pickford-Hopkins, while 'Don't Want' and 'Time To Die' were co-written by John and someone called Stevens. John Weathers: "Stevens is, in fact, Graham Williams, for some reason he didn't want his real name in the writing credits at that time, but I'm sure that it's okay to use it now." Of the remaining three tracks on the album, 'Mother Grease The Cat' is another 'Stevens' composition; 'Where The Snows Lie Forever' was written by Phil Ryan, while 'Prelude to a Blind Man' was written by Greg Curran. John Weathers: "Greg is a friend of mine and we decided to use his song on the album as it kind of suited the band."

The finished album certainly features some fine, dirty rock'n'roll complete with snarling guitar riffs and gritty, instantly identifiable vocals from Morty. But alongside hard-driving blues-rock stompers like 'Freedom Train' and 'Prelude To A Blind Man' and the organ-driven title track, there are a number of mellow songs too, such as the slightly unsettling, dreamy, psychedelic-folk of 'Time To Die' and the rootsy 'Mystic Mountain'. John Weathers recalls not being best pleased to discover that he was only going to be listed as co-producer of the album alongside Lou Reizner. "As far as Lou Reizner is concerned, he was only at the studio once for a quick listen to how it was going and then rubberstamping the finished product. He then insisted on being listed as co-producer, probably for financial reasons, I was never paid a producer's fee or any royalties of any kind, neither were the band."

Finally released on the Mercury label in July 1970 and entitled, 'Women and Children First', the album was also curiously credited to Ancient Grease. John Weathers: "That was down to Lou Reizner. He chose Ancient Grease. I don't think he liked Strawberry Dust much." The album came in a nice psychedelic sleeve, all saturated blue and purple, very much of its time, featuring what appears to be a family running through a garden arbour. Strangely, the US version of the album came in a totally different sleeve that shows roly-poly cartoon characters luxuriating in a black viscous liquid that I assume is meant to be grease. Very odd!

Unfortunately, Mercury Records did not give 'Women and Children First' the amount of push necessary to get a brand new act noticed by the record buying public. John Weathers: "It was just not promoted. Mercury (Britain) was really just a tax loss for Mercury (USA). They'd signed Rod Stewart and he'd just finished 'An Old Raincoat Will Never Let You Down' and they just put everything they had into that. And everything else went into the bottom drawer. You know; 'It'll find its own level.'"

With the album essentially dead in the water and with no support forthcoming from Mercury, Strawberry Dust returned to the South Wales circuit playing again under their original name before gradually grinding to a halt. By this time, Eyes of Blue had also folded, after a third and final album, "Bluebell Wood", which was released under the name Big Sleep. John Weathers played a couple of dates with Strawberry Dust to help them out before joining Pete Brown's Piblokto!, along with Phil Ryan, playing on one single, "Flying Hero Sandwich"/"My Last Band".

In early 1971, Glenn Cornick from Jethro Tull was putting together an early incarnation of Wild Turkey and enlisted John Weathers, together with Gary Pickford-Hopkins and Graham Williams, who, by this time, was making a reputation for himself as one of the most accomplished guitar players around. The band moved into a remote farmhouse in the Welsh hills to rehearse, but within a short space of time, both John and Graham had left to join forces with Graham Bond. Unfortunately, this was to prove an uncomfortable gig for the guitarist as John Weathers remembers. "We were called Graham Bond's Magick. A good band, but it didn't suit Graham at all. He was terrified of Graham Bond and when we were onstage and Graham Bond would nod at him to take a solo, he'd just freeze!" John Weathers would guest on Graham Bond's 1971 album, 'We Put Our Magick On You.' After Graham Bond, John joined The Grease Band in the summer of 1971, playing with them until the end of the year. In the spring of 1972, John was drafted into Gentle Giant on the eve of the group's nationwide tour after their drummer Malcolm Mortimer was seriously injured in a car smash. Despite initially being a temporary arrangement, John would remain in the band until 1980! During his time in Gentle Giant, John also played on occasion with Phil Ryan in the Neutrons appearing on their debut album, 'Black Hole Star', released in September 1974. From the mid-eighties till 1996 (or thereabouts) John found himself, somewhat inevitably, behind the kit in Man, where he became the group's longest-serving drummer!

John still lives in Wales and in recent years has toured with a Welsh pantomime theatre act and also appeared on a number of soundtracks for certain Welsh TV shows. In late 2001, it was reported that John had given up playing the drums due to arthritis in his foot. John Weathers: "It wasn't arthritis of the foot. I was diagnosed with a condition called Spinocerebellar Ataxia, which is akin to M.S., so I've pretty well lost the use of my legs and expect to be wheelchair-bound within the next two years. I'm just paying the price for having had a wonderful fun-filled forty years in music. I'm completely happy." In 2006, John's condition did not stop him playing with the newly-reformed Wild Turkey alongside old mates Gary Pickford-Hopkins and Graham Williams and recording an album, 'You & Me In The Jungle.'

While Graham Williams had been working with John Weathers on various projects in the early seventies, Gareth 'Morty' Mortimer had been singing with a band called Good Habit, performing many of his own songs. Around 1973, Morty was reunited with Graham and, as the singer was looking for a guitarist at the time, his old friend was the obvious choice! Before long, Morty and Graham had formed Racing Cars and began honing their sound. After a few years of ups and downs and the usual changes in personnel, 1976 saw the band, then consisting of Morty and Graham, bassist David Land, guitarist Ray 'Alice' Ennis and drummer Robert James Wilding, relocate to London. Which is where we came in!

Racing Cars released two more albums for Chrysalis, 'Weekend Rendezvous' (1977) and 'Bring On the Night' (1978), but, like a lot of bands from that period, found themselves increasingly sidelined by the rise of punk and finally called it a day in 1980. John Weathers had kept in contact with the guys over the years, even playing with them on the odd occasion. "I was lucky enough to do a few gigs later on with Racing Cars when I was with Gentle Giant. Their drummer was ill or something. I did a couple of University gigs with them and I really enjoyed it." John recalls recording a great album with the band in the late seventies, which appears to have been lost and also working on three or four solo tracks with Morty that also remain unreleased.

In 1988, Racing Cars reformed, touring the UK and Europe for a number of years without a record deal, but enjoying a large core fan base. In 2000, they released an album, 'Bolt From The Blue', on D&A Records and since then have gone from strength to strength. In 2006, they signed to Angel Air Records, and to celebrate their 30th Anniversary they released a DVD, '76-06, 30th Anniversary Concert', which was well received by fans and critics alike. The live album of the same concert was released on CD in April 2007, together with another album from 1981, entitled, 'Love Blind,' which was essentially a Morty solo album originally credited to Morty & The Racing Cars. 2007 also saw the release of 'Second Wind', a brand new studio album. With Angel Air planning to re-issue 'Bolt From The Blue' in 2008, it seems that there is still plenty left in the tank for Racing Cars!

As a snapshot in time of Racing Cars' first musical steps, 'Women and Children First' is an important document that should delight fans eager for more information about the band's pre-history. For students of Welsh rock music, the album also provides that missing piece of the jigsaw that links the various strands of the South Wales music scene in the late sixties and early seventies. Looking back, John Weathers is refreshingly honest in his assessment of 'Women and Children First.' "It was quite a nice album, not the best album in the world by any stretch, but after all I suppose it was the sixties, I was only 23 and very bolshie, and the poor band were just a bunch of boys from the Rhondda Valley who had only been in a studio once before (the demo session that we did in the cowshed at Rockfield), so were total greenhorns. The saving grace though was that it gave them the experience of making an album, something that helped them tremendously when they became Racing Cars, I'm sure."
01 - Freedom Train
02 - Don't Want
03 - Odd Song
04 - Eagle Song
05 - Where The Snow Lies Forever
06 - Mother Grease The Cat
07 - Time To Die
08 - Prelude To A Blind Man
09 - Mystic Mountain
10 - Women And Children First
11 - Freedom Train (Alternative Version) 

Graham Mortimer (Morty) - vocais
Graham Williams - guitar
Jack Bass - bass
Dick Ferndale - drums
Additional musicians:
Phil Ryan - keyboards
Gary Pickford-Hopkins - vocals

sábado, 17 de setembro de 2016

Livin' Blues - 3 Originals (Hell's Session, Wang Dang Doodle, Bamboozle +) [dutch fantastic blues-rock] Flac

Livin' Blues was one of the best Dutch blues bands. Many people think the band's name came from the American magazine called Living Blues, but that wasn't established until 1970. Former members of the band claim it was based on the name of an American theatre group called Living Theatre.

They evolved in 1967 from Andy Star & the Stripes with Ted Oberg (g) and Ruud Franssen (b) and then added Björn Pool (v) and Niek Dijkhuis (d). In 1968, they took on board the blues duo Indiscrimination with John Lagrand (blues harp) and Nicko Christiansen (v, s), the latter replacing Pool. During the same year, Gerard Strötbaum replaced Franssen and Cesar Zuiderwijk (ex-Hu & the Hilltops, to Golden Earring) came in on drums. The band started getting more and more attention, resulting in a record contract with the mighty Phonogram (who distributed labels like Decca and Philips). They opened a show for Fleetwood Mac during a small winter tour of 1969.

After they had recorded two unsuccessful singles, Strötbaum was replaced by Henk Smitskamp (ex-Motions, to Sandy Coast). The line-up of Oberg, Lagrand, Christiansen, Zuiderwijk and Smitskamp recorded the highly acclaimed album, "Hell's Session" in 1969, the first production of former Golden Earrings drummer Jaap Eggermont (later world-famous through his Stars On 45 productions), for a new label, Red Bullet (owned by Willem van Kooten a.k.a. DJ Joost den Draaijer).

In 1970, Smitskamp was replaced by Ruud van Buuren (ex-Groep 1850, to Long Tall Ernie & the Shakers). When Zuiderwijk joined Golden Earring, Dick Beekman (ex-Cuby + Blizzards and Ro-d-ys) was next in the long line of drummers to join the band. Livin' Blues seemed to change drummers on a yearly basis. After "Wang Dang Doodle" became an international hit, the band started touring Europe, one highlight being their appearance at the Palermo Pop Festival in Sicily. Then John Le Jeune (ex-Island) took over the drum stool, but he also lasted for just one album. The band had another international hit with "LB Boogie" and made their first visit to Poland, where they'd become one of the most successful bands ever.

Le Jeune left for the Schick Band and was replaced by Arjan Kamminga, who was forced to quit not long after the release of "Rockin' At The Tweedmill" (recorded in England and produced by Mike Vernon) due to back problems. He would later resurface in Mark Foggo & Secret Meeting. In 1973, Englishman Kenny Lamb became the last drummer of the first era of Livin' Blues. The album "Ram Jam Josey" was again produced by Mike Vernon who'd also recommended Lamb (ex-Jellybread, a British blues band recording for Vernon's Blue Horizon label).

In 1974, “Mark I” Livin' Blues fell apart. John Lagrand joined Water, Nicko Cristiansen formed Himalaya, Kenny Lamb returned to England and Ruud van Buuren joined Long Tall Ernie & the Shakers. Ted Oberg had to continue with Livin' Blues because their manager (Ted's mother!) had signed new contracts with Ariola and Grandad Music. John Fredriksz (ex-George Cash and Q'65, the singer who always seemed to come in when a band's heyday was over) became the new vocalist. They also took on board Paul Vink (kb, ex-Finch, to Limousine), but he only lasted a few months. The line-up was completed by the returning Henk Smitskamp (b, from Shocking Blue), Ronnie Meyjes (g, ex-Brainbox) and Michel Driesten (d) and had a disco hit with "Boogie Woogie Woman", a far cry from the earlier blues-rock sound. By the time the album "Live '75" was recorded, Meyes and Driesten had disappeared and Cor van de Beek (also from Shocking Blue) was the drummer.

The 1976 line-up was: Ted, Johnny, André Reynen (bass, ex-Sympathy and Brainbox) and Jacob van Heiningen (drums, ex-Galaxis, replaced by Ed Molenwijk, ex-Dizzy Daisy, to Casino). In spite of the internationally successful album, "Blue Breeze" (1977), the band were without a recording contract by 1978. Jan Piet Visser (h, ex-Houseband) joined in 1979, but a year after that the core of "Mark I" Livin' Bluesreunited for the 1980 Haagse Beatnach: Oberg, Lagrand and Christiansen were joined by Evert Willemstijn (b) and Boris (Bo, Beau) Wassenbergh (dr, ex-Cashmere, to The Zoo). That line-up started touring again, but due to the lack of interest in the blues music, Livin' Blues slowly ground to a halt in the first half of the 1980s. In the meantime, Johnny Frederiksz, André Reynen and Jan Piet Visser formed Nitehawk. When that band also turned out to be unsuccessful, Ted Oberg formed the J&T Band (Johnny & Ted) with Frederiksz, adding ex-Finch members Peter Vink (b) and Fred van Vloten (d).

In 1986, John Lagrand and Nicko Christiansen reformed Livin' Blues and, for the first time since 1967, Ted Oberg was not present. Other members were: Joop van Nimwegen (g, ex-Q'65 and Finch), Willem van de Wall (g, ex-Himalaya), Aad van Pijlen (b, ex-Freelance Band and Himalaya) and Art Bausch (d, ex-Barrelhouse, ex-Oscar Benton, and founder member of Blue Planet). After one unsuccessful album, "Now", Lagrand left to join the Muskee Gang and Christiansen got a new line-up together. However, the rights to the name Livin' Blues were owned by Ted Oberg's mother and Christiansen had to call the band New Livin' Blues. Just like all preceding line-ups, New Livin' Blues went through many changes, which are impossible to document (mainly due to the lack of press coverage and record releases). On the CD "Out Of The Blue" (1995), the line-up was: Christiansen, Loek van der Knaap (g), Frank Buschman (b) and Elout Smit (d).

In 1996, John Lagrand joined the reformed Cuby + Blizzards and two years later, Nicko Christiansen formed the Nicko C Band, keeping Loek van der Knaap on board. In 1998, Ted Oberg formed his own bandOberg with Jan Scherpenzeel (v, h), Frank Schaafsma (b) and Ramon Rambeaux (d, ex-Wild Romance, replaced by Ronald Oor, ex-Diesel and I've Got The Bullets). At the end of that year, Nicko Christiansen and John Lagrand toured with guitarist Eelco Gelling (ex-Cuby + Blizzards) as Nederblues Summit.

In 2003, Christiansen and Lagrand wanted to start performing again as Livin' Blues, but Oberg objected. The new band was then named Blues A-Livin' instead. Oberg reappeared the following year, touring with Simone Roerade (v), Rob Geboers (kb, ex-Flavium), Marco Oonincx (b, ex-Ana Popovic Band) and drummer Arie Verhaar (ex-Tom Principato and Tino Gonzales), as Grand Slam.

On 30th June, 2005, John Lagrand died at the age of 55 from emphysema. Christiansen continued as The Livin' Blues Experience with Loek van der Knaap (g), Yaroon Vanniele (bas), Kees van Krugten (d) and Francois Spannenburg (blues harp). In 2009, Livin' Blues was voted as the "best international blues band" by readers of the Two Blues magazine in Poland. Ted Oberg has called his band Oberg once again, although it is now fronted by female singer Liane Hoogeveen. The other members are: Mick Hup (g, replaced Will Sophie), Nico Heilijgers (b) and Paul Damen (d).