Thursday, January 21, 2066

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Monday, November 20, 2017

AC/DC - 1981 - For Those About to Rock

For Those About to Rock

01. For Those About To Rock (We Salute You) 5:44
02. Put The Finger On You 3:26
03. Let's Get It Up 3:54
04. Inject The Venom 3:31
05. Snowballed 3:23
06. Evil Walks 4:24
07. C.O.D. 3:19
08. Breaking The Rules 4:23
09. Night Of The Long Knives 3:26
10. Spellbound 4:30

Recorded on Mobile One at H.I.S. Studio, Paris and at Family Studio, Paris.

Angus Young: lead guitar, songwriter
Malcolm Young: rhythm guitar, songwriter
Brian Johnson: vocals, songwriter
Cliff Williams: bass
Phil Rudd: drums

Trying to follow up the monster that was Back in Black must have been a daunting task, but with a stellar stable in their back catalogue, AC/DC had been producing consistently brilliant albums for six years, and even with the loss of Bon Scott they had hardly skipped a beat thanks to the recruitment of Brian Johnson. There was no reason to believe it wouldn't continue.

They couldn’t have started off better. Track one, the title track, is one of their all time classics and is still in their live set to this day. It is a quintessential AC/DC track, building up beautifully from the quite guitar at the front to the completion with the cannons firing at random. It is a terrific anthem, directed from the band to the fans, and it is still as powerful today as it was on it's release. A real classic. This is then followed by “I Put The Finger On You”, another up tempo track that keeps the album moving in the right direction. With these two songs to start the album you can only think you are in for something special once again.
From this point on, however, the album falls back into what would become the ‘stock-standard’ AC/DC slew of songs that probably found their beginnings on the previous album, but would seep through their releases for the next 30+ years. You know the ones, the mid-tempo songs with standard 2/4 drum timing with the bass and rhythm guitar locked in to make that solid back beat, while Brian sings his lyrics over the top, which generally contain choruses that just repeat one line over and over again so that it becomes a chant, and Angus throws in his pieces when it feels necessary. This isn't meant to be a criticism as such, because they've done it so well for so long. But it can certainly become repetitive, and sometimes it feels as though it just goes on too long. Here on For Those About to Rock (We Salute You), many of the songs have very little spectacular about them. Some are good, some are just average. Stuff like “Let’s Get It Up” and “Inject The Venom” and "Breaking the Rules" I find that I have to be in the right mood to enjoy, otherwise I just think ‘skip to the next song please’. It became a theme for the band's albums throughout the 1980's. They mixed some standout songs with a lot that many people would have difficulty in placing what album they were actually released on.

This album marks the beginning of a number of albums throughout the decade that all had promise, without ever really climbing back to the heights of the albums that had preceded it. There's no problem with that, all bands face it at some stage. There is nothing bad on this album.

AC/DC - 1980 - Back in Black

Back in Black

01. Hells Bells 5:10
02. Shoot To Thrill 5:17
03. What Do You Do For Money Honey 3:36
04. Given The Dog A Bone 3:31
05. Let Me Put My Love Into You 4:12
06. Back In Black 4:17
07. You Shook Me All Night Long 3:29
08. Have A Drink On Me 4:01
09. Shake A Leg 4:04
10. Rock And Roll Ain't Noise Pollution 4:12

Recorded at Compass Point Studios April-May 1980.

Brian Johnson: lead vocals, composer
Angus Young: lead guitar, composer
Malcolm Young: rhythm guitar, backing vocals, composer
Cliff Williams: bass guitar, backing vocals
Phil Rudd: drums, percussion

Has there ever been a better known or more appropriate beginning to an album than the gong ringing off at the very start of the first track, "Hells Bells"? What a brilliantly atmospheric song to start off a new album, and a new era of the band. One can only imagine what the fans thought back when this was released when they first heard this coming out of their speakers. i know when I first heard it I was hooked from that moment. "Shoot to Thrill" has always been my favourite song off the album. I love the pace of it, how it starts off at that cracking pace, before the quieter more sedate guitar part in the middle of the song, before exploding into the conclusion. It's a great song. Then there is the high energy vocals from Brian in "What Do You Do for Money Honey". It is the perfect follow up to the first two tracks, keeping the drive of the album rushing along. Phil Rudd's drums crash here in earnest. The continuity of the album is exacerbated with "Given the Dog a Bone", with the rhythm section continuing to pump out that jaunty backbeat that is the staple of the album. Side One finishes with the slower impact of "Let Me Put My Love Into You".
Side Two begins with a bang, straight into "Back in Black" with its distinctive staccato style and Brian pulverising you with his words. Terrific stuff. This is followed by "You Shook Me All Night Long", one of their biggest and most popular singles, one that everyone sings along to even today whenever it comes on. "Have a Drink on Me" was always a favourite for those I socialised with whenever we went out somewhere, singing it in the pub to whomever's shout it was to get him up to the bar. This is then jacknifed by the hardest and fastest song on the album, "Shake a Leg". This comes screaming out of the speakers after an average paced start, really showcasing the old fashioned Aussie pub style fast rock that the band grew up on. Angus lets fly at the end of the song, you can almost see him jumping around the studio as he is playing that solo break. After this session of speed, the album ends more sedately with the anthemic "Rock and Roll Ain't Noise Pollution", which was often sung around school halls when teachers complained bitterly of music being played too loud.

Is this the perfect hard rock album? Arguably, it is. The lyrics of all of the songs deal with those things that young males of all generations relate to. The music, as always with AC/DC, is spectacular in its amazing rhythm section which doesn't miss a beat, and is solid and hard in its base, making it easy to keep time in whatever way suits you best - tapping your foot, playing air drums on the table, or just banging your head along with the beat. Angus Young's solo's are perfectly positioned in each song, enhancing each song without dominating them. The final piece of the puzzle comes to be Brian's vocals, which given how he came into the band could have been heavily scrutinised. However, he fits in perfectly, and his obvious love of blues rooted rock n roll is the same place the rest of the band came from too. The strongest songs that are most referenced here - "Hells Bells", "Shoot to Thrill", "Back in Black", "You Shook Me All Night Long" and "Rock and Roll Ain't Noise Pollution" - make the biggest mark, but it is the songs around them that help make it a top shelf album. They are still strong songs that help enhance what they fit around, maintaining the excellence without necessarily being as heavily recognised as those songs mentioned here. That's what makes this (probably) the finest moment of the AC/DC story.

AC/DC - 1979 - Highway to Hell

Highway to Hell

01. Highway To Hell 3:26
02. Girls Got Rhythm 3:23
03. Walk All Over You 5:08
04. Touch Too Much 4:24
05. Beating Around The Bush 3:55
06. Shot Down In Flames 3:21
07. Get It Hot 2:24
08. If You Want Blood (You've Got It) 4:32
09. Love Hungry Man 4:14
10. Night Prowler 6:13

Bon Scott: vocals, songwriter
Angus Young: guitar, songwriter
Malcolm Young: guitar, songwriter
Cliff Williams: bass, backing vocals
Phil Rudd: drums

February 19, 1980, AC/DC vocalist Bon Scott passed away. The news of Scott’s unexpected passing spread quickly, with conflicting reports regarding the actual cause of death. Pronounced dead-on-arrival at King’s College Hospital in Cumberland, England, following an evening out-on-the-town and out-of-his-mind with UFO bassist Pete Way, the coroner noted that Bon had died as a result of acute alcohol poisoning. In the hard rock ranks, the sneering Scott was looked-upon as indestructible. However, hangin’ with the legendary Pete “Waysted” Way can take its toll on anybody, as evident by the tragic death by misadventure of the legendary AC/DC front man. 

Shortly before Bon Scott’s death, Atlantic Records had issued AC/DC’s “Touch Too Much” as a single. “Touch Too Much” was pulled from the group’s most popular album to date, the caustic Highway to Hell LP. Highway to Hell finally broke AC/DC in North America, peaking at number 17 in the states, after previous recordings from the hard-wired act failed to crack the top 100. 

Clearly AC/DC was on the rise in '79, when the competition in the hard rock ranks, such as Aerosmith, KISS and Ted Nugent, were faltering as the ‘80s approached. AC/DC’s back catalog began to move major units on the strength of Highway to Hell. AC/DC was on the verge of taking their high-voltage raunch ‘n’ roll to a new level before the devastating news of Scott’s death was confirmed. Gone, but never forgotten, at the age of 33, Angus and Malcolm Young eventually decided to keep AC/DC plugged-in as a tribute to the hard-livin’ memory of Bon. 

From my humble, ear-ringing perspective, the no-frills Powerage LP, which opens with “Rock ‘n’ Roll Damnation”, and packs-on “Riff Raff”, “Sin City” and “Down Payment Blues”, is the definitive studio release from AC/DC’s long-way-to-the-top run with Bon at the point. However, there is no denying the fact that Highway to Hell was the album that pushed the no-nonsense group to the front. 

To truely appreciate Highway to Hell, you have to consider how depressed the hard rock scene had become as the dazed 'n' confused decade came to a close. Issued in July of 1979, the instantaneous riff that drives the red hot title track hooks the listener from the off, setting the stage for a kick-ass cruise of bitchin’ jeans ‘n' t-shirt rawk ‘n’ fuckin’ roll. Highway to Hell was made for long hair, beer-chuggin' teens, by down-to-earth blues-based hard rockin’ punters. AC/DC kicked-out bad boy boogie with the best of ‘em. 

AC/DC cut their teeth on Chuck Berry licks, adding a metallic edge to their bare-bones assault as the years progressed, but the boys never forgot their roots. After years of studio work under the production watch of Harry Vanda and George Young, AC/DC turned to produced Robert John “Mutt” Lange when it came time to lay-down the tracks for Highway to Hell. However, prior to collaborating with Lange, AC/DC languished in the studio with producer Eddie Kramer. It wasn't in the cards, as Kramer suggested the addition of keyboards. AC/DC doesn't need fucking keyboards! End of discussion, and Kramer was shown the door. 

Lange’s work from start-to-close captures AC/DC hitting on all cylinders. The bitchin’ “Girls Got Rhythm” follows the amped-up, hellbound opener, delivering the goods in spades for three-plus-minutes of sexually charged action. Scott’s take-no-shit lyrics power the hard hitting “Walk All Over You”, while “Touch Too Much” is jacked-up behind a potent groove. The hyper “Beating Around the Bush” is a throwback to the group’s early sound, which gives way to the blistering “Shot Down in Flames”. AC/DC bring the heat on the album’s shortest song, “Get It Hot”, and bang out “If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It)” with aggression. The mid-paced “Love Hungry Man” counters the sonic onslaught with a loose blooze slide. It is only fitting that the haunting, full-moon chill of “Night Prowler” closes out the last official AC/DC recording with rough ‘n’ tough Bon Scott on vocals. Bon carries the six-minute "Night Prowler" via a dark, make-a-mess-of-you vocal performance. 

As I finish listening to the album, I can only think that Bon Scott lived the stereotypical lifestyle of a rock idol: He rocked hard, lived fast, and died young. All told, he is a rock god, and his final album is a testament to his, and his band's, greatness.

AC/DC - 1978 - Powerage


Australian Edition:

01. Gimme A Bullet 3:35
02. Down Payment Blues 6:20
03. Gone Shootin' 3:00
04. Riff Raff 5:14
05. Sin City 4:40
06. Up To My Neck In You 3:15
07. What's Next To The Moon 4:05
08. Cold Hearted Man 4:58
09. Kicked In The Teeth 3:45

Worldwide Edition

01. Rock 'N' Roll Damnation 3:35
02. Down Payment Blues 6:20
03. Gimme A Bullet 3:00
04. Riff Raff 5:14
05. Sin City 4:40
06. Next To The Moon 3:15
07. Gone Shootin 4:05
08. Up To My Neck In You 4:58
09. Kicked In The Teeth 3:45

Recorded at Albert Studios, Sydney, Australia, February/March 1978.

Angus Young: guitar
Malcolm Young: guitar
Bon Scott: vocals
Phil Rudd: drums
Cliff Williams: bass

Australian rockers AC/DC were teetering on the brink of worldwide stardom when they released Powerage on May 25, 1978, and though the album didn't quite get them there, it marked an important period of transition for the band and remains a favorite of many fans who feel it is an underrated classic.
Their previous album, Let There Be Rock, had helped the group finally break into the all-important U.S. market, and with Powerage they were poised to bring their raucous brand of heavy-blues rock 'n' roll to audiences all across America. But in retrospect, it doesn't have a standout single, and though there are many strong songs and performances, it remains frustratingly uneven.
Powerage marked the studio debut of bassist Cliff Williams, who replaced Mark Evans, though Evans later said that some of his performances are on the album. It's the last studio album of the classic Bon Scott era to be produced by Harry Vanda and George Young, and it features the unusually treble-heavy sound that marked much of that period of AC/DC's career.
The album is bookended by a pair of classic tracks, kicking off with "Rock 'n' Roll Damnation" and closing with the fist-upside-the-head fury of "Kicked in the Teeth." Both of these tracks -- along with other standouts like "Down Payment Blues," "Riff Raff," "Sin City" and "Up to My Neck in You" -- feature the signature marriage of straight-ahead Angus Young guitar riffing and Bon Scott vocal pyrotechnics that made the band's early work so compelling.
Other songs like "Gimme a Bullet," "What's Next to the Moon" or "Gone Shootin'" don't quite reach those heights, but there's nothing on the album that's anything short of well-played and well-sung.

The album's first pressing featured very different mixes of some tracks and the addition of "Cold Hearted Man," which would eventually see wider circulation through a series of vinyl re-releases and via the Backtracks boxed set in 2009. The tour for the album was captured for 1978's live album If You Want Blood You've Got It, and in 1979 AC/DC broke worldwide with Highway to Hell, the defining album of the Bon Scott era and the last before his tragic death.
Powerage is a much-overlooked album in the AC/DC canon, perhaps most significant historically as the transitional record between Let There Be Rock and Highway to Hell. But its legend has grown over time, with rockers from Keith Richards to Eddie Van Halen praising it as one of their favorite AC/DC outings, and with artists including Guns N' Roses, Twisted Sister, Great White and Bruce Dickinson covering its songs either live or on record.

Many critics dismiss early AC/DC and run straight to Highway To Hell and Back In Black. I don’t know why, but I’d advise you not to make the same mistake, because Powerage is another fun party record that's filled with gloriously unhinged guitar licks from riffmeister Angus Young matched to a terrific batch of tunes. And though originality isn’t this bands stock in trade, their kickass beats (AC/DC are one of the greatest groove bands ever) and Bon Scott’s ragged screeches render such concepts as trivial. Besides, this is one of the few AC/DC albums devoid of obvious filler. I mean, even the lesser tracks here have their virtues, as “Gimme A Bullet” grooves like nobody’s business, while “Gone Shootin’” offers up a relaxed change of pace. Elsewhere, the escalating blooze beats of “Down Payment Blues” are matched to an everyman lyric that we can all relate to, though the band’s misogynist streak unfortunately rears up its ugly head on “Kicked In The Teeth,” one of the album's lesser tracks. Even so, that song still rocks, and the band’s lean, ferocious assault produces other undeniable hard rock winners such as “Rock N’ Roll Damnation” (which has the album's catchiest chorus), “Riff Raff” (Angus at his best), “Sin City” (Bon at his best), and “What's Next To The Moon” (like the aforementioned, even better “Down Payment Blues,” notable for its great toe tapping groove, as is the fed up “Up To My Neck In You” as well come to think of it). Sure, I suppose that none of these songs are major AC/DC classics, but Powerage is chock full of minor classics, even though it's less heavy than its pummeling predecessor, possibly due to a less lively production that yields a tinnier sound. But the songs are catchier and yes, better overall, especially since the band still supplies plenty of wattage. In short, no fan of this electrifying band should be without this killer album, which can power up any party. Note: Cliff Williams replaced Mark Evans on bass guitar duties on this album, giving the band not only a better bass player but another backup singer along with ace rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young (Angus' older brother and by most accounts the band's actual leader, certainly so after Bon died). P.S. I'd argue that Powerage is the most underrated and unjustly ignored album from the Bon years, being all but ignored by radio, and the band themselves have played little from it live over the years (really only "Sin City" and "Riff Raff"), nothing in recent times. In short, this album is for the diehards - most of whom love it.

When the late, great Bon Scott confidently sang the lyrics for the bass rattling "Sin City", the authoritative front man from the hard wired AC/DC told one and all the he's gonna win where the lights burn bright. There was never any doubting the fact that Bon would be victorious... and that fact is banged home throughout the entire Powerage album. 

The ass kickin', nine song Powerage recording, issued in 1978, is laced from start-to-close with bitchin' raunch 'n' heavy duty roll. Often overlooked, as Powerage was sandwiched between the release of the killer combo of Let There Be Rock and Highway to Hell, the potent Powerage stands equal to any album from the entire AC/DC caustic catalog.

The high-octane Powerage doesn't possess a hint of filler, nor is there anything close to a mellow note buried in the mix. It's simply an onslaught of mighty riffs, ringing chords, stinging leads and Bon's bad boy lyrics. Opening with the raucous "Rock 'n' Roll Damnation", the three-minute-plus intro cut serves notice that AC/DC were taking charge of the hard rock ranks. The boys chase the rampant "R 'n' R Damnation" with the album's longest track, the down-on-your-luck "Down Payment Blues", which gives way to the biting "Gimme a Bullet", and the volt-meter pegged "Riff Raff".

Bassist Cliff Williams debuted with the Powerage LP, and his fat string work on the aforementioned "Sin City" anchors the stacked deck track, along with Scott's take-no-shit vocal delivery. The Young brothers lock-in on the trio of "What's Next to the Moon", "Gone Shootin'", and the amped "Up to My Neck in You". The keg party soundtrack closes with the neck-snappin' assault of "Kicked in the Teeth".

Power on...

AC/DC - 1978 - Live From The Atlantic Studios

Live From The Atlantic Studios

01. Live Wire 5:46
02. Problem Child 4:24
03. High Voltage 5:40
04. Hell Ain't A Bad Place To Be 3:57
05. Dog Eat Dog 4:13
06. The Jack 8:02
07. Whole Lotta Rosie 5:08
08. Rocker 5:57

Recorded live at the Atlantic Recording Studios, December 7, 1977.
Some copies come with letter and return postcard from Atlantic Records.

Original promo copies have white center labels with black writings. Matrices are LASS corrected into LAAS; S & A letters bonded together.

Bon Scott: vocals
Malcolm Young: guitar
Angus Young: guitar
Phil Rudd: drums
Cliff Williams: bass

Before a sparse, but vocal audience packed into New York's famous Atlantic Studios, the bad boy boogie brigade from down-under, AC/DC, belted out three chord riffola for the long hair rebellious masses on December 7, 1977. With tape running, AC/DC bashed and crashed their way through a hot fourty-five minute live set. The songs were quickly mixed, with 5,000 LPs of Live From the Atlantic Studios pressed for promotional distribution to rock radio stations. 

Still basically unknown in America in '77, as the group hit the states to promote the North American release of the Let There Be Rock LP, leering Bon Scott and diminutive headbangin' school boy guitarist Angus Young, sparked the electrified set of no-frills heavy rock and hard roll. It wouldn't be long after Live From the Atlantic Studios was aired that AC/DC would blaze a hellacious trail to the top of the hard rock heap. 

The eight song live performance of straight-up, kick ass guitar charged mayhem is ignited by the thumping bass line of "Live Wire". Clocking in at just under six raging minutes, the crusin' concert intro cut sets the mood for the entire showcase event. With Bon out front commanding the tightly wound set, which features a fat bottom end holding down the lean 'n' mean blues-based rockers, AC/DC dealt out dirty raunch 'n' roll as they have done since day one. 

Street tough cuts, such as "Problem Child", "High Voltage", "Dog Eat Dog", "The Jack" and "Whole Lotta Rosie", power the amped-up set from the Big Apple. Until AC/DC shipped their first official live album, the molten If You Want Blood You've Got It, in '78, I wore down the dubbed Live From the Atlantic Studios C-90 tape to a fray with excessive plays. The wild eyed collection of beer swillin', gutter raunch fueled the weekend party scene. 

Finally given it's due via the Bonfire box set, the compact disc release of Live From the Atlantic Studios, fills a huge void for many fans worldwide of the ass kickin' alternate current rockin' runts. 

Play it loud for Bon, George and Malcolm! 

AC/DC - 1978 - If You Want Blood You've Got It

If You Want Blood You've Got It

01. Riff Raff 5:10
02. Hell Ain't A Bad Place To Be 4:02
03. Bad Boy Boogie 7:35
04. The Jack 5:43
05. Problem Child 4:32
06. Whole Lotta Rosie 3:50
07. Rock N Roll Damnation 3:30
08. High Voltage 5:00
09. Let There Be Rock 8:15
10. Rocker 3:00

All tracks recorded live during Australian, UK & American Tours.

Angus Young: guitar, composer
Malcolm Young: guitar, composer
Bon Scott: vocals, composer
Phil Rudd: drums
Cliff Williams: bass

The long awaited AC/DC live album, and it doesn’t disappoint. Recorded on the Powerage tour, it contains material from the best that the lads had concocted to that point in time.

This was a long way before my time of being able to attend concerts, and as such it is terrific to hear just how good the band was in those days in a live setting. It comes as no surprise, because they had cut their teeth on live performances long before they made their way onto studio recordings, but the legendary AC/DC rhythm section proves here that it has always been this good. Live albums from the 1970's often included long winded freeform guitar or drum or keyboard solos, which to be honest can be extremely boring on these kind of albums. Nothing like that here from AC/DC, who deliver exactly what you want and the way you want it. The one extravagance is Angus playing up to the crowd during "Bad Boy Boogie".
Hearing all of these songs live just proves the greatness of this band. The rhythm section of the band is so tight that it sounds as though it could have been taken straight off the studio versions of each song. Add in the crispness of Angus Young’s lead guitar work and the dominance of Bon Scott’s vocals, and you have an extremely impressive live album.
Could I have come up with a better set list? Quite possibly, but you can't knock what you find here. Bon is terrific on the opening squadron of "Riff Raff" and "Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be". The great songs of the era can be found here too, such as "The Jack", "Whole Lotta Rosie", "High Voltage" and "Let There Be Rock".

It is great to have a solid live album with Bon Scott on vocals. While I prefer the later release of Live From the Atlantic Studios this is still a great album.

AC/DC - 1977 - Let There Be Rock

Let There Be Rock

01. Go Down 5:17
02. Dog Eat Dog 3:30
03. Let There Be Rock 6:02
04. Bad Boy Boogie 4:18
05. Overdose 5:47
06. Crabsody In Blue 4:39
07. Hell Ain't A Bad Place To Be 4:12
08. Whole Lotta Rosie 5:25

Australian Edition

01. Go Down 5:20
02. Dog Eat Dog 3:30
03. Let There Be Rock 6:12
04. Bad Boy Boogie 4:29
05. Problem Child 5:25
06. Overdose 6:03
07. Hell Ain't A Bad Place To Be 4:20
08. Whole Lotta Rosie 5:27

Worldwide Edition

Vocals - Bon Scott
Guitar - Malcolm Young
Lead Guitar - Angus Young
Bass - Mark Evans
Drums - Phil Rudd

In a constant method throughout the mid-to-late 1970’s AC/DC  managed to keep pumping out albums that grabbed the attention of music lovers all over the world. They might appear simple in rhythm and based as they are in the blues rock that preceded them, but they are undeniably catchy, and as a basis to launch their live act under these directions they were an amazing catchphrase.

The growing success of both albums and singles releases helped to propel the recording and releasing of Let There Be Rock. While there was a steady prevailing popularity of the previous material, apparently it hadn’t caught on in the United States, and the recording of this album was meant to help rescind that. The songs here are generally longer than usual, drawn out by the extended guitar solos and pieces that Angus and Malcolm came up with. In places it still feels even today that the songs go out beyond what is necessary. Still , this is the style of songs that the band had decided on in their efforts to crash the international market even harder than they had already achieved. There is definitely a harder blues based rock in the rolling rhythm throughout most of the songs, highlighted immediately by the opening track “Go Down”, where the blues beat holds together the basis of the song, and allows Bon Scott initially to hold the reins on vocals, before Angus Young comes in to perpetuate his solo piece in the middle of the track. Bon and Angus trading vocals and guitar tweets through the second half of the song draws in the blues roots as well. It does get repetitive towards the end, and though it is a terrific opening track it always feels as though it could have ended a good minute earlier. “Dog Eat Dog” settles into that hard rocking rhythm that Malcolm, Phil Rudd and Mark Evans play so well on these early albums, and again let Bon and Angus do their thing. Both it and “Bad Boy Boogie” again insert the lengthy and stretched out solo sections for the guitars to make their mark, much like the band would do in a live setting, but here in the studio. An interesting change.
Depending on what version of the album you have, on the second side of the album you will either be enjoying a shortened version of “Problem Child” on the International version, which initially was released on Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, or the song “Crabsody in Blue” which came on the initial and Australian release of the album. I personally like “Problem Child” better, despite its original place on Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap. “Crabsody in Blue” seems to stifle the momentum of the album at its entry point, and is also drowning in the blues which may also be a bone of contention with me. The exchange of these two songs does make the international version of the album a better listen.
“Overdose” and “Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be” also run along similar lines and patterns. “Overdose” has a similar pattern to “Live Wire” early on, but builds with its own momentum to reach its crescendo. “Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be” has always been one of those underrated AC/DC songs, one that those that only listen to the singles never get to know. It again builds from a slowish start to find its own pace and strength, and it does all the right things for the fans.
The two star attractions of the album are the title track and the closing track. “Let There Be Rock” has been a classic since the album’s release, with Bon’s lyrics espousing the discovery of rock as in a biblical creation. The faster and immediate crash into the song by the band is also a change from most of the other songs on the album, and its effect is immediate. It is still a great song today. So too is “Whole Lotta Rosie” which is still a live favourite today. Focusing on Bon’s meeting with a female acquaintance back in the day, this is a rollicking track that is ecstatically explained by Bon, before Angus takes over and gives an extended solo piece to hold the middle of the song together. It is still one of the great AC/DC songs and it closes the album on a high note.

Many experts consider this the first ‘great’ AC/DC album. It did seems to single a change in the band’s intent, to be more a harder guitar sounding band than they had been too this point. While I appreciate that notion and believe it is a fair enough point, and as much as I think this is a terrific album, one that there is never a bad feeling about when I put it on to listen to, I think that there is better to come.

AC/DC - 1976 - Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

01. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
02. Ain't No Fun (Waiting Round To Be A Millionaire)
03. There's Gonna Be Some Rockin'
04. Problem Child
05. Squealer
06. Big Balls
07. R.I.P. (Rock In Peace)
08. Ride On
09. Jailbreak

This is the original version of "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap", first released in Australia and New Zealand on 20 September 1976 and including the track "R.I.P. (Rock in Peace)"

01. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap 3:46
02. Love At First Feel 3:05
03. Big Balls 2:39
04. Rocker 2:46
05. Problem Child 5:43
06. There's Gonna Be Some Rockin' 3:14
07. Ain't No Fun (Waiting Round To Be A Millionaire) 6:51
08. Ride On 5:47
09. Squealer 5:12

This is the modified international edition was released on Atlantic Records in 1976.
Please note that this album was first released in the US in April 1981.

Bon Scott: vocals, songwriter
Angus Young: guitar, songwriter
Malcolm Young: guitar, songwriter
Mark Evans: bass
Phil Rudd: drums

As they did a couple of times early in their career, AC/DC release both a domestic Australian version and an overseas version of the same album. There are a couple of song differences, and the track line-up is different, so there is a need to review them separately. This Australian release contains two songs that the International release does not, in "R.I.P. (Rock In Peace)" and "Jailbreak" as the substituted songs. These songs are very important in the context of the album.

Following up on the huge success of T.N.T., this album again contains some of the band's best known, most loved and most played songs. Everyone in the world knows the song (and most likely the film clip) for "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap". It's a terrific song with a great riff, memorable lyrics and the perfect sing-along song. "Ain't No Fun (Waiting 'Round to Be a Millionaire)" is a slow burn, and probably takes to long to get wound up and going, sitting on the same riff and pace for the first half of the song. "There's Gonna Be Some Rockin'" harks back to the start of rock n' roll, a blues based rock song that incorporates a lot of repeated vocals with a blues solo from Angus along the way. It's a bit too repetitive and anodised for my liking. The energy returns with "Problem Child", a song much more like the AC/DC we know and a more suitable solo break from Angus. "Squealer" and "Big Balls" for me are very average songs. I like both to a certain degree, but there just isn't enough in either song to make me say "Yes! Let's play these songs on my random tracks tonight!" "R.I.P. (Rock In Peace)" is the second full-on blues number on the album, and for me fulfils the same thoughts. The blues are fine for blues bands, and I understand that the influences that these guys would have had would have been some of the blues legends, but apart from certain selections the blues bores me to tears. "Ride On" is a great song, a standout on the album more for the reason of its mellow tendencies, a quiet, reflectful tune that does seem to be out of place, and yet fits in perfectly within the album framework. It's not a song you would choose to  play if you are in an AC/DC rocking mood, but its place in the folklore is set.
After a long tough road, we finally get to the closing number, which is another of those classic, legendary songs, "Jailbreak". Again, everyone knows the song, and everyone knows the film clip. It is a great hard rock song, that closes the album on a positive note. When I first bought this album on cassette, I could play the first track, "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap", and when it had finished flip it over, and it coincided almost perfectly with the start of "Jailbreak", which I would then play. And then the cycle would repeat. To be honest, I think this sort of sums up my thoughts on this album perfectly.

In comparing this album with T.N.T., there really is no comparison. taken away the first and last tracks and Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap would be classed as a very average album by anyone except hardcore, die hard fans of the band. I can add probably three other songs here that I would be able to put high up in the AC/DC catalogue, but the rest would remain in the middle selection.

AC/DC - 1976 - High Voltage

High Voltage

01. It's A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll) 5:10
02. The Rock 'N' Roll Singer 5:00
03. The Jack 5:50
04. Live Wire 5:45
05. T.N.T. 3:30
06. Can I Sit Next To You Girl 4:06
07. Little Lover 5:26
08. She's Got Balls 4:46
09. High Voltage 4:18

This is the master release for the group's international debut album (a retitled version of T.N.T. with a new cover and two tracks replaced). It is not to be confused with High Voltage, the group's Australian debut.

Bass – Mark Evans
Drums – Phil Rudd
Guitar – Malcolm Young
Lead Guitar – Angus Young
Lead Vocals – Bon Scott

One of the perennial complaints about AC/DC is that they've never changed -- and if that's true, High Voltage is the blueprint they've followed all their career. Comprised of highlights from their first two Australian albums
High Voltage the album has every single one of AC/DC's archetypes. There are songs about rock & roll, slow sleazy blues, high-voltage boogie, double entendres so obvious they qualify as single entendres and, of course, the monster riffs of Angus Young, so big and bold they bruise the listener upon contact. It's those riffs -- so catchy they sound lifted when they're original, so simple they're often wrongly dismissed as easy -- that give the music its backbone, the foundation for Bon Scott to get dirty, and rockers never got quite as dirty as Bon Scott. Scott sounded as if you could catch a disease by listening to him. He sounded like the gateman at hell, somebody who never hid the notion that lurking behind the door are some bad, dangerous things, but they're also fun, too, and he made no apologies for that. But for as primal as High Voltage is, it's also a lot weirder and funnier than it's given credit for, too -- those are bagpipes that solo on "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Want to Rock & Roll)," and "She's Got Balls" is a perversely funny dirty joke. This is music so primal that it's enduring -- it feels like it existed before AC/DC got there, and it will exist long afterward. And if AC/DC did wind up bettering this blueprint in the future, there's no question that this original is still potent, even thrilling, no matter how many times they returned to the well, or how many times this record is played.

AC/DC - 1975 - T.N.T.


01. It's A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock 'N' Roll)
02. The Rock 'N' Roll Singer
03. The Jack
04. Live Wire
05. T.N.T.
06. Rocker
07. Can I Sit Next To You Girl
08. High Voltage
09. School Days

1975: First pressing with blue center labels & kangaroo.
1977: Blue center labels with no kangaroo.
1980: Black center labels
1981: Red center labels with yellow border. Made in New Zealand.
1983: Red center labels without border. Writings all around the center label.
1987: Red center labels without border. Writings on the top half of the center label.
1989: Red center labels without border. Writings on the bottom half of the center

Bass – Mark Evans
Drums – Phil Rudd (tracks: 1-7, 9), Tony Currenti (tracks: 8)
Lead Guitar – Angus Young
Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals – Malcolm Young
Vocals – Bon Scott

Coming off a solid and satisfactory debut album, AC/DC return for their second opus, one that not only rates as one of the best ever Australian albums, but also as one of the best hard rock albums ever. T.N.T. is a literal hit factory, with great song followed by great song, and only a couple of moments during its 42 minutes that could be considered filler. 

There would have to be very few people on the planet who could not at least cobble together a few words or hum the tune of the best known songs here. "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)" is the biographical song of any band, and one that, perhaps ironically, managed to help get AC/DC to "the top". It sometimes goes unnoticed in this day and age, but the introduction of the bagpipes into a hard rock song, which actually enhances the middle bridge of the song, is quite an achievement. Less successful is Bon Scott mimed attempt to play them in the video clip of the song on the back of a flatbed truck going down Swanston Street in Melbourne. It is as popular today as it was when it was released. This is followed by the rocking beat of "Rock 'n' Roll Singer", which in a similar path to the opening track is a sort of biographical song about the path to becoming... well... a rock 'n' roll singer! By this stage of the album it is obvious that the band has got their ship in order, and know what formula they are going to follow - a solid pounding drum beat, supported by a rumbling bassline, with clear, crisp guitar riffs setting the foundations of each song, allowing Bon Scott to star on vocals and Angus Young to flail away when he feels the need to. 
"The Jack" is the next song, with its simple drum and rhythm throughout the song, and its repeated chorus line making it a favourite among teenagers especially (I recall a school bus trip in high school where this album was played a lot, and this song got repeated playings joined by the chanting of the chorus by the entire population of the bus). Closing out the first side of the album is "Live Wire", which is one of my favourites. The somber opening of the bass and quiet guitar chords, then joined by the drums and eventually Bon's singing is just brilliant. The song builds wonderfully from the quiet into the pumping hard rock anthem. For me, it would be in my five best AC/DC songs. Extremely underrated. 

Side Two opens up with the timeless anthem "T.N.T." which again does a marvellous job of getting the listener to join in singing the vocals. It's hard to resist singing the chorus at the top of your voice, no matter where you are when you are listening to it. "Rocker" could perhaps be classed as filler, if it wasn't for the energy shown by Bon Scott's vocals through the song. It almost feels like an on-stage jam between the band, with Bon coming up with lyrics just to fill the gaps. "Can I Sit Next To You, Girl" is a re-working of AC/DC's first ever single, back before Bon Scott was in the band. The original was sung by Dave Evans. It is patently clear that this is a much better version of the song, not only because Bon gives it a little bit more oomph than Evans, but because the band is sharper, cleaner and tighter. 
"High Voltage" is a sister song to "T.N.T." and was inspired by the title of their first album. It was also the first single, released before this album came out, and as a result the single boosted the sale of High Voltage as many people thought that it was actually off that album. Good marketing and selling all round. 
The final song on the album is "School Days', a cover of the Chuck Berry song. Now, while this may be an historically great song, and one can only assume that it was an influence on the band members in their youth, I feel it just muddies up the end of the album a little. "High Voltage" is really the best song to close with, letting it finish on a high. "School Days" doesn't tend to do that. 

Despite a couple of moments that are a little lacklustre, this is a true classic album. It was the making of AC/DC and was followed by more great albums, a couple that even arguably match this. But for me, this is where it is all capture, in this bottle called T.N.T, the very best of everything this band can offer. The super rhythm section, the brilliant riffage from Angus and Malcolm Young, and the unique vocal capacity of Bon Scott. The complete package.

AC/DC - 1974 - High Voltage

High Voltage 

01. Baby Please Don't Go
02. She's Got Balls
03. Little Lover
04. Stick Around
05. Soul Stripper
06. You Ain't Got A Hold On Me
07. Love Song
08. Show Business

Official vinyl pressings:
1975: First pressing with Blue center labels & kangaroo. Track A1 is credited to Broonzy on back sleeve and center labels. Later copies had the side one label changed to correct an error in the writing credit for "Baby Please Don't Go". It was incorrectly credited to Broonzy, but was actualy written by Joe Williams - The matrix number is the same, and the label still carries the Blue Roo, that is used by Alberts, to signify an original Alberts issue. Track A1 is still credited to Broonzy on the back of the sleeve, but Joe Williams is now credited on the side one label. (these are a lot less common than Broonzy - at a rate of around Three Broonzy to one Joe Williams, which is also a good indicator that this is not a different issue).
1977: Blue center labels with no kangaroo.
1980: Black center labels
1981: Red center labels with yellow border. Made in New Zealand. Track A1 is credited to Broonzy on back sleeve and center labels.
1983: Red center labels without border. Writings all around the center labels.
1987: Red center labels without border. Writings on the top half of the center label. Track A1 is credited to Broonzy on back sleeve and Joe Williams on center labels.
1989: Red center labels without border. Writings on the bottom half of the center labels.

Bon Scott: lead vocals
Angus Young: lead guitar, writer
Malcolm Young: rhythm guitar, backing vocals, bass guitar, lead guitar
Rob Bailey: bass guitar
Tony Currenti: drums
Peter Clack: drums
John Proud: drums
Harry Vanda: backing vocals
George Young: bass guitar, rhythm guitar, drums, backing vocals

Adam Sweeting
Saturday 18 November 2017

Malcolm Young, who has died aged 64 after suffering from dementia, was the driving force behind AC/DC, the rock outfit that sold more than 200m albums over 40 years to become one of the highest-grossing bands of all time. His brother Angus, the band’s lead guitarist, may have been the most recognisable character in AC/DC, largely thanks to his habit of wearing school uniform on stage, but it was Malcolm whose inventive rhythm guitar and storming riffs formed the backbone of the band’s sound. Malcolm often took the crucial decisions about the band’s strategy, and he became notorious for abruptly firing various managers, producers and band members. 

AC/DC rocketed into rock’s front rank with the release of Highway to Hell in 1979. Its swaggering juggernaut of a title track encapsulated everything that would make AC/DC great. Bass, drums and crushing guitar chords created a roaring bulldozer of sound, enhanced by Angus Young’s molten soloing, while the lead singer Bon Scott howled soulfully overhead. Disaster threatened the following year when the charismatic Scott died from alcohol poisoning. They came back with their next album, Back in Black (1980), featuring a new vocalist, Brian Johnson. It bristled with such powerhouse tracks as Hells Bells, You Shook Me All Night Long and the title song, and was a defiant statement of intent that sold more than 50m copies.

For Those About to Rock We Salute You (1981) was another smash, and AC/DC’s first US chart-topper (a feat they wouldn’t repeat until Black Ice in 2008). The title track became a regular encore piece in AC/DC shows for decades to come. All three of these albums were produced by Robert John “Mutt” Lange, a Zambian-born British songwriter and producer who went on to work with Def Leppard among others, and they formed the core of the AC/DC legend.

Malcolm was born in Glasgow, the seventh of the eight children of William Young, who had been an RAF mechanic and a spray painter but became unemployed in the 1950s, and his wife, Margaret. The family lived in the Cranhill housing estate until 1963, when William and Margaret emigrated with six of their children to Sydney via the Australian government’s “ten pound pom” scheme (adults paid £10 each for the fare while children travelled for free).

It was George Young, six years older than Malcolm, who first enjoyed musical success, as co-founder of the Easybeats, the so-called “Australian Beatles” who scored international hits including Friday on My Mind (1966). Finding the family home besieged by Easybeats fans influenced Malcolm and his younger brother Angus to form a band of their own. Malcolm cut his teeth with early groups including Beelzebub Blues, and developed an assured guitar technique influenced by Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix as well as Santana and Stevie Wonder. Angus, meanwhile, practised furiously to become a virtuoso lead player.

The brothers, neither of whom was much over five foot tall, assembled the first version of AC/DC in November 1973, with Dave Evans as vocalist. When Scott, another Scottish immigrant to Australia, replaced Evans the following year, the band released their first album, High Voltage (1975), produced by George Young and his Easybeats songwriting partner Harry Vanda. “With Bon, that’s when the band became a band,” said Malcolm. “We had a real character with his own style and his own idea for lyrics.” Those lyrics were primarily concerned with sex, drugs, drink and rock’n’roll.

The drummer Phil Rudd and bassist Mark Evans then joined, and played on three further albums, T.N.T. (1975) – featuring their early favourite It’s A Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock’n’Roll), Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (1976) and Let There Be Rock (1977), before Evans was replaced by Cliff Williams for Powerage (1978).

In 1976 the band signed a deal with Atlantic Records and were soon recognised as an influence on British rock bands including Saxon and Iron Maiden, while also being bracketed with punk by the British music press. “We were always saying: ‘We ain’t a punk band, we’re rock’n’roll,’” said Malcolm. “But it was good that punk came along and changed the face of music for a while.”

After their albums with Lange, AC/DC – led by Malcolm – decided they wanted a simpler approach, but Flick of the Switch (1983) and Fly on the Wall (1985), both produced by the brothers, were lacklustre efforts. Who Made Who, the soundtrack to Stephen King’s film Maximum Overdrive (1986), mixed old and new material and put the band back in the charts, while Blow Up Your Video (1988) continued the good work by selling a million in the US.

As the band prepared for the Blow Up Your Video tour, however, Malcolm announced he needed a break to deal with a worsening alcohol problem. “It caught right up to me and I lost the plot,” he admitted. “Angus was going: ‘I’m your brother, I don’t want to see you dead here. Remember Bon?’ So I took that break and cleaned myself up.” His place on the tour was taken by a nephew, Stevie Young, son of their oldest brother, Stephen.

Malcolm was back for the next album, The Razors Edge (1990). Produced by Bruce Fairbairn – renowned for his work with Aerosmith and Bon Jovi – it swept AC/DC back to multiplatinum glory, selling 5m copies in the US alone. The Razors Edge tour produced an acclaimed live album, Live, though when 1995’s Ballbreaker appeared it was AC/DC’s first new material for five years. A further half-decade passed before they released Stiff Upper Lip (2000), a solid though uninspiring effort.

While their new material dwindled, their back catalogue remained hugely profitable. In 1997 they released the five-disc set Bonfire, featuring studio and live material. In 2002 they signed with Sony Music, which reissued expanded versions of their past albums. Plug Me In (2007) was a multi-DVD package comprising rare live footage. The band also licensed tracks for use in the Rock Band series of computer games.

In 2003 AC/DC were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The album Black Ice (2008) confirmed their status; it debuted at No 1 on album charts in 29 countries, and achieved global multi-platinum sales. During the ensuing 20-month world tour they played to more than 5 million people in 28 countries.

In 2011 Angus spoke of plans for a new album, possibly to mark the band’s 40th anniversary in 2013, but Johnson told US radio it would be delayed because of an unnamed band member’s health issue. In April 2014 AC/DC’s website announced: “Malcolm Young is taking a break from the band due to ill health.” It was rumoured that Stevie might once again stand in for his uncle. Malcolm’s elder brother George died last month aged 70.

Malcolm is survived by his wife Linda, daughter Cara, son Ross and brother Angus. 

• Malcolm Young, musician, born 6 January 1953; died 18 November 2017

AC/DC didn’t start coming to the attention of fans around the world until the international release of High Voltage in April 1976. But back home in their native Australia, the group was already well-established stars, having begun their “Long Way to the Top” on Feb. 17, 1975, with the release of the original, domestic version of High Voltage. Today, this album sounds like a rather pale imitation of the “Thunder From Down Under” to be captured on the band’s better known, globally released LPs. But hey, everybody has to start somewhere.
And for AC/DC, the start came in November 1973, when siblings Malcolm and Angus Young decided to follow in their family’s strong musical tradition -- older brother George had found stardom with the Easybeats; another brother, Alex, enjoyed great success with several groups -- and join forces instead of competing against one another with different bands. Choosing their name on the suggestion of sister Margaret, who would later convince Angus to don his school uniform onstage, the fledgling AC/DC cut their teeth on small stages while working through a succession of band members behind singer Dave Evans. And with the advice and support of the well-connected George, by July 1974 they had inked a deal with Sydney’s Albert Productions and released their debut single, “Can I Sit Next to You, Girl,” before deciding that Evans wasn’t the right man for the job.
So by September, Ang and Malc had kicked him to the curb and hired a charismatic singer named Ronald Belford "Bon" Scott — just in time to take over Albert Studios and record AC/DC’s first album, with the multi-talented George on bass and production duties (alongside his former Easybeats partner Harry Vanda), while Tony Currenti beat the drums. Indeed, not until after the album’s release in the new year would AC/DC’s first true rhythm section of bassist Mark Evans and drummer Phil Rudd make their mark, so the use of session men definitely contributed to the unfamiliar qualities of the original High Voltage. Well, some of them, but not all ...
Tellingly, the most explosive song the band could conjure up in the studio at this early stage in their development was not its own, but a cover of Big Joe Williams’ “Baby Please Don’t Go.” But boy did they let it rip, delivering one of the all-time definitive renditions of the oft-covered tune (it's certainly the most violent, even more so than Ted Nugent’s version), which also doubled as their set opener for much of those first few years. While some band originals -- like “Soul Stripper,” “Show Business” and the grinding “She’s Got Balls” (Bon’s tongue-in-cheek tribute to wife Irene) -- showed occasional glimpses of AC/DC’s iron-clad future template, the Youngs evidently hadn’t yet learned how to harness and then unleash their full sonic power.
Today, everything is Rock or Bust in the world of AC/DC, but other High Voltage tunes were another matter entirely, with “Stick Around” and “You Ain’t Got a Hold on Me” both lacking all that much energy, and “Little Lover” being a surprisingly limp leftover from the band’s short lived glam rock days. And then there’s “Love Song,” which broke every blue-collar rock 'n' roll rule the quintet would live and die by in the years ahead with its distracting keyboards, saccharine melodies and sappy romantic lyrics, showing tough guy Scott as you’d never imagine (or want to). Just as surprising and indicative of the work-in-progress that was AC/DC, the LP finds Malcolm handling lead guitar for parts for “Little Lover,” “Soul Stripper” and “Show Business,” having not yet completely handed off such responsibilities to baby brother Angus.
All this being said, AC/DC’s onstage antics were already becoming the stuff of legend, and, at least until future albums overshadowed it, High Voltage performed very well upon release, climbing all the way to No. 7 on the Aussie charts and fueling the band’s exhaustive promotion schedule across the country until the release of their even more successful sophomore album, T.N.T., in December 1975. Together, these two Australian long players provided the songs that the rest of the world would come to know as High Voltage in its second edition from 1976, but of course that amazing collection would have never been possible without the modest first steps undertaken on its lesser known, like-named predecessor.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Charles Manson - 1970 - LIE: The Love And Terror Cult

Charles Manson 
LIE: The Love And Terror Cult

01. Look At Your Game Girl 2:04
02. Ego 2:31
03. Mechanical Man 3:20
04. People Say I'm No Good 3:22
05. Home Is Where You're Happy 1:29
06. Arkansas 3:06
07. I'll Never Say Never To Always 0:42
08. Garbage Dump 2:37
09. Don't Do Anything Illegal 2:55
10. Sick City 1:41
11. Cease To Exist 2:15
12. Big Iron Door 1:10
13. I Once Knew A Man 2:37
14. Eyes Of A Dreamer 2:51

Acoustic Guitar, Lead Vocals, Timpani – Charles Manson
Backing Vocals – Catherine Share, Lynette Fromme, Nancy Pitman, Sandra Good
Bass – Steve Grogan
Electric Guitar – Bobby Beausoleil
Flute – Mary Brunner
French Horn – Paul Watkins

Limited release of 2,000 copies
Included "A Joint Venture" poster of inmates signatures
Track B3 recorded September 11th, 1967
Other tracks recorded at Goldstar Studios on August 8th, 1968
Overdubs recorded on August 9th, 1968

A living, walking example of the hippie dream gone terribly awry, before Manson and his family went on the killing spree that virtually undermined and eventually destroyed the peaceful atmosphere of the Southern California community, the fledgling musician tried several times, unsuccessfully, to land a recording contract.

First venturing to California in the mid-'50s, Manson soon found himself serving yet another stint in prison (by age 30 he had lived half of his life behind bars). But, after a time spent living in Washington state, Manson arrived in Southern California in 1967 in hopes of becoming a hippie singer/songwriter. Settling in Topanga Canyon, the quasi prophet met several of L.A.'s most prominent musicians including Neil Young, Dennis Wilson, and Doris Day's son, producer Terry Melcher. The very idea that someone like Manson was fraternizing with a Beach Boy and the son of Doris Day is indicative of the blurred reality that existed in Southern California at the time. Yet, though his music and views are easily dismissable today, at the time several people in the community, including Neil Young, believed in Manson enough to try and secure him a record contract. Throughout 1968, Manson made demo tapes with Gregg Jakobson and Terry Melcher and, with the influence of Dennis Wilson, came close to inking a deal with Brother Records, the imprint of the Beach Boys. In fact, the group reworked Manson's "Cease to Exist," re-titling it "Never Learn Not to Love" and included it on their 20/20 LP. By 1969, however, Manson and his family of hippie outcasts had suitably scared away any potential recording contracts with their increasingly disturbing behavior, and Manson never released an album of his work as a free man.

After his arrest, however, the impending media blitz of the trial created interest in Manson's music, albeit for somewhat dubious reasons, and fringe labels such as Performance and White Devil released his albums such as Lie and Commemoration. Manson also saw one of his songs recorded by the biggest rock & roll band in the world at that time when Guns N' Roses included a poorly received Manson composition on their 1993 covers album, The Spaghetti Incident?

As Charles Manson awaited trial for the 1969 murders of seven people, the music he had recorded in 1967 and 1968 saw the light of day. Lie: The Love and Terror Cult was released on March 6, 1970, coincidentally the same day the court revoked its original decision to allow Manson to represent himself.
Before he became a national figure for leading a group of people on a killing spree, Manson had been trying to break into the Los Angeles music scene. In the spring of 1968, he had befriended Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys, who paid for studio time, introduced him to some industry pals like Byrds producer Terry Melcher (actress Doris Day's son) and allowed Manson to live in his house. That relationship soured after a few months as Manson's "family" grew and the atmosphere surrounding him became even more dangerous.
Still, Wilson thought enough of Manson's songwriting to rewrite his "Cease to Exist" and bring it to the Beach Boys as his own composition, "Never Learn to Not Love." It was released as the B-side to "Bluebirds Over the Mountain" in December 1968 and on the group's 20/20 album a few months later. The changes infuriated Manson, who went to Wilson's house with a loaded gun, only to discover that Wilson wasn't there. Instead, he gave the housekeeper a bullet and a message.
Four months after the August 1969 murders, Manson and several family members were arrested. While in custody, he asked Phil Kaufman, a hanger-on in the Los Angeles scene whom he met during a previous incarceration, to see that his music was released.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Kaufman was unable to find a major label willing to be associated with Manson. After raising $3,000, he pressed 2,000 copies and distributed it through Awareness Records, the same label that had put out Bob Dylan's The Great White Wonder – widely considered to be rock's first bootleg.
The album was titled Lie: The Love and Terror Cult, with a cover image mirroring the Dec. 19, 1969, Life magazine that featured Manson, using the same photo and typeface. The only differences were the altering of Life to Lie and the removal of a subtitle. The LP's 13 songs include "Cease to Exist" and other somewhat prescient titles like "Ego," "People Say I'm No Good," "Don't Do Anything Illegal" and "Sick City."
Lie: The Love and Terror Cult sold only 300 copies on Awareness, but ESP-Disk picked it up for distribution later that year. Eventually, the record, and subsequent albums of unreleased Manson recordings, became collector's items in the punk and metal scenes during the late '80s.
Guns N' Roses released "Look at Your Game, Girl" as a bonus track on their 1993 album "The Spaghetti Incident?" (with Axl Rose saying "Thanks, Chas" at the end). Hardcore shock punk GG Allin covered "Garbage Dump" in 1987. And the Lemonheads released several Manson songs before becoming one of the most successful alternative bands of the early '90s.

Charles Manson's most famous recording was made on September 11, 1967 and released as an LP in 1970 while the Tate/La Bianca murders and subsequent Manson Family trials were still headline news. The album cover is an altered version of Manson's likeness as it appeared on the cover of Life Magazine on December 19, 1969. On the record jacket the "F" has been removed, transforming "LIFE" into "LIE" in graphic denial of Manson's guilt. Certainly Manson played up to the sensationalism, mugging for the cameras like Aleister Crowley or Arthur Brown, bulging his eyes like Beelzebub, carving a swastika into his forehead, and spouting stream of consciousness yang with nothing-to-lose-audacity. The mass media's portrayal of Manson as the archetypal homicidal freak (forever stamped with the meaningless word "hippie") permanently tarnished the common perception of '60s counterculture and rendered some of its social agenda wrongfully suspect by association. For the listener to accurately comprehend the music on this recording, an extra helping of context is in order. Composer John Moran, whose The Manson Family: An Opera adds several dimensions to an already loaded equation, has stated that ''Until the murders, psychedelia had been associated with the idea of love. After Manson, and because of the way the media portrayed him, psychedelia became associated with flipping out and violence and fear." He also adds: ''People forget that cults are not just fringe groups. America is a cult. All countries use cult techniques. They teach you that anything outside the cult is evil and to be feared, and they constantly inundate us with slogans. We like to think that we're past propaganda, but we are subjected to it all the time, through the media and through our friends. What is commonly called a cult is just smaller.''
Manson's main cultural influences (outside of prison) seem to have been L. Ron Hubbard, Robert A. Heinlein, and the Beatles. To some extent he thought he was the fifth Beatle, and a sitar was incorporated into some of the mixes in order to drive home the point. "Look at Your Game Girl" embodies Manson's fundamental approach to influencing young women by targeting their socially imposed hang-ups and implying that his way is better and more liberating. This is problematic considering his remarkable knack for mind control. Manson insisted that the "Ego" needed to be done away with, preferably by massive doses of LSD and prolonged bouts of sexual intercourse. "Cease to Exist" also references this process ("...give up your world...") while imploring "I'm your kind -- I'm your kind -- and I love you -- "never learn not to love," , followed by the manipulative suggestion: "submission is a gift, give it to your brother."
Dennis Wilson's entanglement with the Manson Family resulted in a cover of this song by the Beach Boys, retitled "Never Learn Not to Love" and included on their album 20/20. Hearing Manson's original and the Beach Boys' cover back to back is an unforgettable experience, particularly when the popular group's coordinated vocal arrangement kicks in and a sort of imitation Moody Blues "aum" trope appears as if to certify that the composer of the song was a spiritually advanced being. "Cease to Exist" (often mistitled "Cease to Exit") is one of Manson's signature performances, and has justifiably invited comparison with Jim Croce and José Feliciano. Parallels could also be drawn with Cat Stevens, Don McLean, Harry Chapin, John Denver. and one of Manson's ex-buddies, Bobby Beausoleil.
Charles Manson was a byproduct of the United States penal system, and his ideology was largely shaped by what he learned in reformatories and prisons prior to being paroled in 1967. Within the largely female-inhabited circle that came to surround him, several attributes of the burgeoning counterculture were in place, including communalism, vegetarianism, and abstinence from tobacco and alcohol and Charlie's own patriarchal, hierarchic brand of communalism. Conspicuously absent were of course non-violence, feminism (Manson's women were peculiarly subservient), and an informed awareness of the wrong-headedness of racism. Among the Mansonites, this fundamental aspect of '60s youth culture at its most promising seems to have been entirely eclipsed by white supremacist theories which are still firmly entrenched in the prison system. One of the cornerstones of the counterculture was and is the awareness that institutionalized racism is a lie rooted in ignorance and therefore something to rebel against. Given that the Civil Rights Movement was one of the basic building blocks of progressive activism during the '60s, for the Manson Family to be stereotyped as hippies while espousing a racist worldview is one of the great ironies of this wretched story. Another huge misconception is that barbaric, bloody homicides were committed by people who were heavily dosed with LSD. While large quantities of acid were in fact used by Manson to break down the egos of his followers, by the time he sent "assassins" to slaughter people in their own homes, his secret weapon was amphetamine, the same drug that enabled storm troopers and kamikaze pilots to achieve their goals during the Second World War.
"Mechanical Man" is a striking example of the Manson Family as a renegade performance troupe whose voices and instruments mimic the workings of an automated system in need, perhaps, of disassembling. "People Say I'm No Good" typifies Manson's wistful if stubborn response to a lifetime of being ostracized and alienated. It also contains language implying that young people know more about life than mature adults; he would still be using this line years later as a mature adult playing his guitar inside the lockup at San Quentin. "I'll Never Say Never to Always" is a jingle sung by the Manson girls. Lasting less than a minute, it seems largely to be composed of rhythmic phrases learned from Manson. Towards the end of the song, cooing babies may be heard in the background. "Garbage Dump" is by far the most enduringly relevant of these Manson songs, because it makes a legitimate point about wasted resources and our nation's failure to distribute food properly. Among the widely circulated images of family members is a photograph of several individuals merrily engaged in dumpster diving behind a supermarket, rescuing discarded fruits and vegetables which would be used to nourish occupants of the communal homestead back at the Ranch. This was authentic countercultural resourcefulness, and thousands of furry freaks employed it nationwide in order to survive. Even if Manson's rhyming of "dump" and "lump" seems puerile, there's nothing silly about the line "you can feed the world with your garbage dump." That point of view has been articulated by many others, including outspoken performance poet John Giorno. "Arkansas" has a haunting quality that is enhanced by the harmonizing voices of family members, and here one can easily imagine what it was like to sing along with Manson round the fire at Spahn Ranch.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Jeff Clyne - 1969 - Springboard

Jeff Clyne

01. Love Was Born
02. C4
03. Ballad
04. Helen's Clown
05. Les Neiges D'Antan
06. Crazy Jane
07. Springboard

Alto Saxophone – Trevor Watts
Artwork – Richie Stevens
Bass – Jeff Clyne
Drums – John Stevens
Trumpet – Ian Carr

Recorded at Regent Sound Studio, London, UK on June 4, 1966 (tracks A3, B1, B2) and on August 27, 1966 (tracks A1, A2, B3, B4).

John Fordham
Tuesday 1 December 2009

The role of luck recedes and that of special talent takes over if a musician has been in the right place, at the right time, with the right people, as often as the bass player Jeff Clyne, who has died suddenly of a heart attack aged 72. Clyne was one of the handful of British rhythm-section players to emerge during the 1950s whose sound, drive and confidence betrayed no anxieties about the dominance of the American jazz pioneers – musicianship that was his passport into bands led by Annie Ross, Zoot Sims, Ronnie Scott, Tubby Hayes, Dudley Moore, Marian Montgomery and dozens of other jazz celebrities.

Like the drummer Phil Seamen, Clyne was a British player who sounded as if he could step up to any jazz stage in the world and keep company with the music's most powerful performers. Yet he was the most self-effacing of artists, a player with an ear always open to new sounds, and a natural teacher.

I ran into the dapper, witty and very youthful Clyne at a jazz reception a couple of years ago, and he immediately thanked me for introducing him to the music of the young Polish pianist Marcin Wasilewski's trio through a review I had written. This wasn't just a pleasantry – it was clear that the session had made Clyne feel differently about piano-trio jazz, a demanding format that, as an acoustic bassist, he had been a master of for years, with a sublime talent for offering improvisers new musical avenues on the fly, but without getting in their way. If he felt that the reputations of some of his former students had come to eclipse his own still remarkable sense of time and counter-melodic variation, he never showed it. He recently admitted to JazzUK magazine's Brian Blain that "it would be nice to get a call from some hot new band – but there are so many good young players out there. I enjoy my teaching and the work I do ... and all the other great jazz being made today. I still find this music extremely fulfilling."

Clyne was born in London, and taught himself double bass from the age of 17. He played in the 3rd Hussars military band during national service (1955-57), and was good enough on demobilisation to find himself at the cutting edge of the British modern-jazz and bebop movement.

One of its most charismatic groups was the Jazz Couriers, a fast-moving quintet modelled on Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, and featuring the saxophonists Ronnie Scott and a stunning virtuoso newcomer, Tubby Hayes. Only years later did Clyne come to appreciate the historical importance of some of his early work, but he was in Hayes's own group for the opening night of Ronnie Scott's club (in its Gerrard Street, Soho, London, premises, in October 1959) and in the pianist Stan Tracey's band five years later when it recorded Tracey's Under Milk Wood, one of the landmark compositions of British jazz. The bassist's early employers also included the Under Milk Wood saxophonist Bobby Wellins, and the clarinettist Vic Ash.

Clyne credited his long stint with the technically peerless Hayes to the band leader setting the musical bar high and forcing him to stretch, as was commonplace on the American jazz scene of the time, but less so on the European one. His performances in Hayes's big bands, as well as the small groups, marked him out, particularly his propulsive accompaniment and distinctive soloing on the Hayes big-band classic 100% Proof. Clyne also worked with Tracey in the jazz-and-poetry New Departures group from 1961, and frequently alongside him in the Ronnie Scott's house band. He also recorded with Tracey, the singer Blossom Dearie, and in the hard-swinging, Errol Garner-influenced trio of the pianist/comedian Dudley Moore.

But this was predominantly a bebop and swing scene, and in the more expressionist 1960s, Clyne was becoming interested in looser and more intuitive ways of improvising, inspired by the collectively conversational approach of the US pianist Bill Evans's trio (with its virtuoso bassist Scott LaFaro, whose accompaniments sounded like a seamless but supportive solo) and by the free-jazz movement of Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor. Clyne began exploring an Evans-like approach with the pianist Gordon Beck and the drummer Tony Oxley in the later 60s – and through Beck, he also performed with the Doncaster guitarist John McLaughlin (a rising star soon to be summoned to the US by Miles Davis) on the innovative album Experiments With Pops. But Clyne also went further into the often unpremeditated freefall jazz world of the London drummer and teacher John Stevens and his saxophone partner Trevor Watts, in the flexible lineups of Stevens's Spontaneous Music Ensemble, and in Watts's more Coleman-inspired Amalgam.

When a tighter, funkier and more rock-derived jazz developed in the next decade, Clyne was there, too – anchoring the trumpeter Ian Carr's punchy Nucleus, one of the UK fusion movement's most influential early groups. Clyne had already worked with that band's acoustic predecessor, the Rendell-Carr Quintet, co-led with the saxophonist Don Rendell, but the new group required a different rhythmic approach and the adoption of bass guitar, which Clyne negotiated with typical ease.

He also worked with the big-band leaders Mike Gibbs and Neil Ardley, and with the gifted pianist Keith Tippett (who was equally at home in jazz-rock fusion, free-improv, and cross-genre orchestral music) in a volatile period in the 70s in which creative British music was blooming, even if its commercial appeal was low. He also played in groups led by the reed-players Alan Skidmore and Bob Downes, and in the experimental free-jazz/contemporary classical London Jazz Composers' Orchestra. The prevailing atmosphere encouraged Clyne to try his own hand as a leader, of the late-70s fusion band Turning Point, with the singer Pepe Lemer and Nina Simone's last drummer, Paul Robinson, recording the albums Creatures of the Night (1977) and Silent Promise (1978).

In his later years, Clyne devoted more time to teaching (co-directing the summer jazz course at Wavendon, Buckinghamshire, and teaching bass at London's Guildhall School of Music and the Royal Academy), but continued to perform on the local scene with the pianist Nick Weldon and the singer Andra Sparks.

He is survived by his wife, Christine, and by his two sons and daughter.

•Jeffrey Ovid Clyne, musician, born 29 January 1937; died 16 November 2009

This is a brilliant album, probably "free" by the standards of the time, but not really free in the sense of the later compact minimalism of the Spontaneous Music Ensemble. It also predates the later fusion of Nucleus, of which Carr and Clyne were founder members, but there are elements of the later Amalgam obviously, with three of the members present here. Perhaps one can hear shades of the early Ornette Coleman and Joe Harriott combos who were pioneers in defining the new thing in the late 50s. It's unorthodox, but still very melodious, chemically free of the mid- to late-60s blow-outs associated with the ESP label. Whatever labels to attach, this is fresh to these ears, more than 40 years after the fact.