Friday, December 31, 2066

The place to report broken links and request stuff!

Howdy people...

October 1, 2016 Update:

Sorry for being absent for a while, part of it was due to a very nice Indian Summer and discovering a new beach about 2 clicks from home. So now that I have worked up a bit of a tan, I am happy to inform you all that I am back, tons of stuff ready to post, And that I finally resolved the situation of my faulty hard drive and got myself a nice new 8  tb server for the house, Spent most time this week transferring from the Data DVD's I had as backup (It takes a while and a shitload of discs to back up 6tb)... Once this is done I will close shop for a little while as far as new posts go and concentrate on reuploading all the dead links, It will be much easier having it all on one drive than to have to sift thru a gazillion backup DVD's... wish me luck and happy music hunting y'all... o yeah! and Shanah Tova to my Jewish friends around the world!

From now on lets use this sticky post for all requests and re-post notices, So that I can keep better track of it, and get stuff done... Thanks a lot!

When notifying about a dead link, please include te link to the actual post, because that would make my work a lot faster (And I mean  A LOT). Thanks in advance to all the dudes and dudettes helping out!

Thanks a lot for all the encouraging messages and anonymous goodies! (I really appreciate it).

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Chetarca - 1975 - Chetarca


01. Death Of Rock & Roll Singer
02. Another Day
03. Diary
04. Chetarca
05. The Ocean Suite
06. The Sea
07. Wet Suit
08. Fisherman's Nightmare

Bruce Bryan - Synth
Geoff Gallent - Drums
Paul Lever - Vocals, Harmonica
Ian Miller – Guitar
John Rees - Bass, Violin
Andrew Vance - Keyboards, Vocals

Operating out of Melbourne in the mid-seventies, this band were a sort of Aussie equivalent to Emerson, Lake and Palmer. They only released one 45, ‘Another Day’, but it spent three weeks in the Top 100 peaking at No.75 in September 1975. No other Australian progressive album sounded like this one (which many now consider to be underrated). Musically, it is notable for no guitars - a dual keyboard assault of Andrew Vance (piano, organ) and Bruce Bryan (synthesiser) and Paul Lever's wailing harp and bluesy vocals. Side two is taken up with just one long track ‘Oceanic Suite’.
Taken from "Dreams, Fantasies and Nightmares" by Vernon Joynson, an extensive guide to Canadian / Australian / New Zealand and Latin American psych and garage music 1963 - 1976.
Not exactly of my taste but this LP is worth a listen especially for the 24 minutes long track "Oceanic Suite" ,with long complex dual synth compositions and interesting vocals, and the 8 minutes long "chetarca",with a psychotic synth solo leading to somekind of delirium.Otherwise the LP is synth driven progressive (sometimes too commercial for my taste) with blues-y vocals....Anyway,here it is for you to judge.

Charisma - 1970 - Beasts And Fiends

Beasts And Fiends

01. Street Theatre (Mocarsky) - 3:58
02. The No-Tell Motel (Mocarsky, Langlois) - 5:08
03. Dirty Pigs Don't Get Far In This World (Mocarsky, Langlois) - 2:38
04. Bizwambi: Ritual Dance Of The Reptiles (Charisma) - 4:50
05. Leopold's Ghost (Mocarsky, Langlois) - 4:57
06. The Age Of The Reptiles (Mocarsky, Langlois) - 3:26
07. Beasts And Fiends (Mocarsky, Langlois) - 8:08
08. Pray For Lockjaw (Charisma) - 3:22

Tom Majesky - Guitar, Vocals
Bernie Kornowicz - Bass, Guitar, Organ
Rich Tortorigi - Drums
Bob Mocarsky - Organ, Percussion

"Charisma came about from diverging roots emanating from 3 directions. The core of Charisma was Rich Tortorigi (drummer) and George Tyrell (bass player). Both were members of a New Britain, Connecticut soul band called The Mantiques. The Mantiques had been one of the three main horn-based bands in New Britain in the mid to late 60’s, along with Detroit Soul and The Paramounts. Paramounts drummer, Tyrone Lampkin went on to play with Gutbucket and the Parliament Funkadelics.

Before the recording of the second album, Mike DeLisa decided to go his own way, leaving the job of lead vocalist to guitarist Tom. Beasts and Fiends was recorded at the Record Plant in NYC during the summer of 1970. The lead engineer was the top engineer in the business: Jack Hunt (the Woodstock album, Electric Ladyland), assisted by Dave Ragno (the Woodstock album), and Tom Fly (the Woodstock album, former drummer of Lother and the Hand People). While credit was given to Bruce McGaw and Ed Vallone for production, fact is the album was produced by Charisma with interference run by Jack Hunt.

Charisma was offered the option to record a third album for Roulette Records, but let it pass by. Probably a mistake. Both albums sold better in Europe than they did in the USA. All income went to Roulette Records. Charisma got squat. Same old story.

It looked like Charisma was headed for a breakup as drummer Rich Tortorigi and keyboardist Bob Mocarsky decided to leave the band, but Tom and Bernie located drummer Jim Roselle and keyboardist Mike Reynolds and decided to give it another go. Jim recruited Paul Midney to play saxes and flute, and Ray Mase to play trumpet, piccolo trumpet and coronetto. For a while, Charisma became Midney, named after Paul (?!!), but ended up changing their name back to Charisma. Paul eventually ended up leaving the group to do his own thing in the world of meditation and Ray went on to play with the American Brass Quintet.

About this time Charisma, along with sound engineers Ron Scalise (now at ESPN) and Norman Campbell (now in California) began building a recording studio. Charisma spent the next few years in the studio. But to be able to do that they were forced to compromise their principles by playing commercial music to raise money to pay for the studio addiction.

Charisma auditioned several singers as front men and finally decided on Brian Salke. Brian was not allowed to do the few non-commercial gigs that came up once in a while, but he did appear on some of Charisma’s homegrown recordings. In 1976, Charisma disbanded, leaving one incomplete recording.
Rich Tortorigi-official

Brigg - 1973 - Brigg


01. Hey Mister - 3:16
02. Universe - 5:30
03. Took It Away - 3:35
04. New Found Rain - 2:37
05. If Only You Could See Me Now - 3:21
06. The War Is Over - 2:50
07. Linda - 5:40
08. And You Know - 2:45
09. Sneaker Tongue - 0:31

Rusty Foulke - Guitar, Vocals
Jeff Willoughby - Bass, Percussion, Flute, Vocals
Rob Morse - Guitar, Vocals

Rick Klinger - Percussion
Webb Kline - Keyboard

Outstanding 1973 from a Northumberland, Pennsylvania trio with an incredibly wasted vibe. Roughly half of this is heavy rock, like a second rate Grand Funk or Frost, and these songs are just mediocre, with "If Only You Could See Me Now" being the best by way of it's off kilter timing and phased-out wah guitar.

The other half is what we are all really here for: totally loaded, extended, spacey rural-vibe psych folk. "Universe" is the total kicker, loaded in opiate fueled cosmic ether. It's so slow and laid back that it almost moves backwards. Time has no meaning, or is lost completely.

Above the strummed acoustic bliss there are spaced out effects that just really make this fucker out, like if Jandek was really talented on You Walk Alone and tried to make a commercial (well, uh, sorta) sounding folkpsych album. Flutes appear on other tracks, giving this a Topanga Canyon hippie vibe at times. A totally great windowpane rainy day escapist monster.

While Willoughby and Foulke would go on to greater glory in the early 1980s with the well-known band Hybrid Ice (whose song “Magdalene” was famously covered by Boston on their album Walk On), this would be the last anyone would ever hear of Brigg.

Big Sleep - 1971 - Bluebell Wood

Big Sleep 
Bluebell Wood

01. Death Of A Hope
02. Odd Song
03. Free Life
04. Aunty James
05. Saint & Sceptic
06. Bluebell Wood
07. Watching Love Grow
08. When The Sun Was Out

Phil Ryan - Organ, Piano
Ritchie Francis - Bass, Piano, Vocals
John "Pugwash" Weathers - Drums, Vocals
Raymond "Taff" Williams - Guitar
Gary Pickford Hopkins - Vocals, Guitar

Big Sleep was a second-life 1971 formation of the British Psychedelic Rock band Eyes Of Blue.The two bands shared keyboardist Phil Ryan, singer/guitarist Gary Pickford-Hopkins, drummer John Weathers, bassist/pianist Ritchie Francis and Raymond Williams on guitar.Francis abandoned the guitar and had taken the place of Ray Bennett, who went on to join Flash, while Wlliams switched from bass to guitar duties.Their only album was recorded at the Chappell Recording Studios in London and released under the title ''Bluebell wood'' in 1971 on Pegasus.

Big Sleep had obviously kept many elements from the musical profile of Eyes Of Blue, but they also showed a tendency towards more sophisticated arrangements with a couple of longer tracks and a vast range of different influences, including Blues, Swing, classic Rock, Classical Music and organ-based Psychedelic Rock.Not much of an instrumental masturbation or excessive technical displays, but they were off to a different direction, which now was propelled by the meld of varied themes in the same track, passing from acoustic to electric sounds, always led by a love for refined and striking melodies.For example ''Saint & sceptic'' contains an extended orchestral delivery, arranged by Phil Ryan, backed up by some intense electric guitar and later flavored by Ryan's good organ work.Or the 11-min. title piece, which features light symphonic and jazzy lines, Hard/Psych guitar-based jamming and even some Mellotron- and flute-drenched gears.Somewhere between PROCOL HARUM and KING CRIMSON, producing different kinds of energetic levels and climate changes.A couple of leftover echoes from their previous stint like the short closers ''Watching love grow'' and ''When the sun was out'' sound closer to 60's Psych/Pop and are extremely outdated compared to the rest of the tracklist.

The band dissolved just weeks after the release of the album.Weathers went on to Hard Rockers Wild Turkey, became a stable member of Gentle Giant and later played with Man.Ryan became also a member of Man as well as The Neutrons, where he rejoined Ray Williams and Weathers, the latter met again with Hopkins on the aforementioned Wild Turkey.Only Francis followed a solo career, but this was way too short with just one personal record in 1972, titled ''Song bird''.

Decent Psych/Prog with emphasis on the psychedelic side, but certain influences from the emerging progressive wave.Cool and recommended listening, if you're after the interesting first steps of early-70's Prog/Art Rock.

Bacon Fat - 1971 - Tough Dude

Bacon Fat
Tough Dude

01. It the On the Wait - 3:41
02. Down The Road General Description of The - 3:22
03. of Betty - 2:05
04. Leaving the On Your yet Mind - 4:07
05. jivin 'the Business of The - 2:26
06. Shake Dancer - 2:42
07. the Travelling South - 3:01
08. to Evil - 2:45
09. Feeling the Blues - 4:04
10. the Pool Hall then by Sam - 2:56
11. Transatlantic the Blues - 4:08
12. Hurricane - 5 01

Bass Guitar – Jerry Smith
Drums – Dick Innes
Guitar – Buddy Reed
Guitar, Mandolin, Harmonica – Gregg Schaefer
Harmonica, Vocals – George Smith , Rod Piazza
Piano, Vocals – J.D. Nicholson

Main name with Bacon Fat was Rod Piazza, an ace harp player and singer, went on to bigger things with The Mighty Flyers 1980 to date.
Loving the simplicity of 70's blues, with no overdubs or crap harmonies, just the energy & sound of a live performance.
Enjoyed all 12 retro tracks, highlights for me were Betty, Blues Feeling, Transatlantic Blues & Hurrikane.
Will be checking more of Piazza's catalogue.

Bacon Fat - 1970 - Grease One For Me

Bacon Fat
Grease One For Me

01. Up the Line
02. Boom Boom (Out Goes the Lights)
03. Small's on 53rd
04. She's a Wrong Woman
05. I Need Your Love
06. Juicy Harmonica
07. Nobody but You
08. Telephone Blues
09. You're So Fine
10.Too Late

Rod "Gingerman" Piazza - Harp, Vocals
George "Harmonica" Smith - Harp, Vocals
Buddy Reed - Guitar, Vocals
Gregg Schaefer - Guitar
J.D. Nicholson - Vocals, Piano
Jerry Smith - Bass
Dick Innes, Jr. - Drums

Bacon Fat, originally the Southside Blues Band, was a Los Angeles, California blues band noted for a dual-harmonica-driven, Chicago blues sound.

Following the breakup of the Dirty Blues Band in 1968, Rod Piazza and George “Harmonica” Smith, whom Piazza credits with putting him “straight on the chromatic harp,” formed the Southside Blues Band. The band toured with Big Mama Thornton and, in 1969, released “George Smith of the Blues” (or, “… Of The Blues”, as it appeared on the album cover) as ‘George “Harmonica” Smith & His Blues Band.’ Originally released on World Pacific, the album was reissued in 1974 by ABC/Bluesway (BLS 6029), and in Germany in 1987 on Crosscut (CCR 1015). Smith’s “Juicy Harmonica” from this album is regarded as a chromatic harmonica classic; indeed, Piazza covered “Juicy Harmonica” on “Grease One for Me.”

Recorded on February 27 and 28, 1969 in Hollywood, personnel on “… Of The Blues” are listed as Smith and “Lightnin’ Rod” (Piazza) on harmonicas; Richard Davis, trumpet ; Jim Wynn and Ed Davis, saxes; Robert Schedel, piano; Marshall Hooks and Arthur Adams, guitars; and Curtis Tillman, bass. The drummer is not listed.

Shortly after the release of “…Of The Blues”, British producer Mike Vernon persuaded the band to move to Blue Horizon and to change their name. The band renamed themselves Bacon Fat, the title of an Andre Williams recording. The lineup of the band at this time, in addition to Smith and Piazza, were Buddy Reed, guitar; Gregg Schaefer, guitar; JERRY SMITH, bass; Dick Innes, drums; and J. D. Nicholson, piano.

Vernon decided to first record an already-scheduled gig opening for, and backing up Pee Wee Crayton, November 16, 1969, at the “Bar Paradise A Go Go” (widely known as “Small’s”), a club at E53rd St and Avalon Blvd in South-Central LA. These tracks were subsequently released in 1986 by Blue Moon as “Live at Small’s Paradise” (BMLP 1.029).

The following day, November 17, 1969, was spent at the Eldorado Recording Studio in Hollywood, recording tracks for Bacon Fat’s first album, “Grease One for Me”. On the 18th, Bacon Fat, plus guitarists Pee Wee Crayton and Marshall Hooks recorded 8 tracks that were released as “No Time For Jive” under “George Smith.” Smith appears on only one track of “Grease One for Me”; Piazza does not appear at all on “No Time For Jive”. Mike Vernon, the producer of both albums, maintains that the segregation of Smith and Piazza on these releases was coincidence and, in hindsight, it was probably a mistake to lose the dual-harp format that had made Southside/Bacon Fat successful in the first place.

Both “Grease One for Me” and “No Time For Jive” are long discontinued, but the tracks are available on “The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions” released under “George Smith & Bacon Fat” by Sony/BMG Europe (catalog 8287-68873724)

A tour of Europe to promote both “Grease One for Me” and “No Time For Jive”, originally planned for May, was delayed until November, 1970. While in the UK, Bacon Fat recorded the tracks for their second album. The sale of the Blue Horizon label to Polydor by CBS delayed the release of “Tough Dude” until March, 1971, allowing the excitement generated by the tour to fade. Bacon Fat broke up sometime in 1971.

After All - 1969 - After All

After All
After All

01. Intangible She 7:12
02. Blue Satin 3:46
03. Nothing Left To Do 7:04
04. And I Will Follow 4:46
05. Let It Fly 4:30
06. Now What Are You Looking For 3:02
07. A Face That Doesn't Matter 4:30
08. Waiting 4:20

Bass, Vocals – Bill Moon
Drums, Vocals – Mark Ellerbee
Guitar – Charles Short
Organ – Alan Gold

Throughout my musical journey my constant goal has been to find music that stands out from the crowd. It is a never-ending exploration that has been extraordinarily satisfying but invariably dissatisfies; where music is often very good but falls short of what I would deem remarkable. Anyone reading this can easily foresee what’s coming and yes, for me, this album does fall into that rarefied category of “lost classic”.

All but one of the songs were co-written by local poet Linda Hargrove and lead vocalist and drummer Mark Ellerbee. The former apparently went on to become a song-writer and performer in Nashville, presumably in the Country and Western genre, whilst the latter, according to other reviewers, sounds like the Blood, Sweat and Tears’ vocalist David Clayton-Thomas. He does, nevertheless, possess a baritone voice of somewhat similar tone to that of The Doors’ Jim Morrison, albeit without the control or finesse. Ellerbee has a bit of a wobble and a certain roughness but it’s a nice voice and one that melds perfectly with the music.

The keyboards of Alan Gold are an equal mix of Hammond organ and grand piano. The Hammond has a lovely tone here, reminiscent of Mark one Deep Purple, whilst the piano is predominantly a mix of a couple of influences/styles, particularly that of Jazz and J.S. Bach. These qualities accentuate the mellow nature of the album and are always of the highest quality and interest.

The rhythm outfit are very good, they also had a background in Jazz and that’s very evident in their style. The guitar work is good, whilst not hitting the quality of the keyboards, again fitting in perfectly with the album’s style and feel.

Their style? If pushed, I'd say late psych, early Proto-prog with a real Jazz sensibility but it's all just a game in semantics. Some tracks are stronger than others but there are certainly no clunkers and overall the album is very laid back with a fantastic groove. Of the latter I cannot stress its importance enough. It’s very mellow without sounding remotely cloying, a charge which could easily be levied at some mellow albums of the period. The most extraordinary factor is the amount of time the band would have had together, either to record or to rehearse the album. According to Ellerbee, they came together, wrote it as a concept, an intentional nod to the vibe of the time, recorded it over a couple of days and then went their separate ways. By all rights it should be a sprawling, incoherent mess. It is anything but and has a maturity that sounds like they had spent a great deal of time and effort over the endeavour. I, for one, would have expected that an album produced under the above circumstances would have been more frenetic and less assured. In their defence and of course to their benefit, they all had a sound and extensive musical pedigree with a couple of them being alumni of the Florida state school of music.

Audio quality: There are many aspects that make this album remarkable, not least the quality of the audio. According to the liner notes, which are brief but at least have authenticity as they are provided by Mark Ellerbee, the amount of studio time allotted to the band was all too brief. The budget was low, in fact they got a freebie from a producer friend.
It was recorded at a time when albums tended towards a stark quality, very different to what the modern ear has come to expect. Here the sound is warm and full, with a bass that is situated perfectly in the mix. Often older albums had the bass placed so far back that it could become all but inaudible, yet here it is on the same level as the other instruments and beautifully clear and deep. On extensive listening the reason for the clarity becomes apparent as this turns out to be a needle-drop, which is often the best way to get a great sound on CD for an older album, especially when the master tapes are likely to be long lost. It is one of the very best needle-drops I have in my possession, with only a small handful of clicks audible. It may have been de-clicked in production but either way, it sounds really good. Crucially, the very best aspect is the mix which sounds like it was done with modern ears in mind; in fact I’d confidently state this has one of the best mixes from the whole of the sixties!
It’s not perfect though, as there is a little studio echo present but that’s a minor quibble.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Yahowa 13 - 2009 - Magnificence In The Memory

Yahowa 13
Magnificence In The Memory

01. Camp Of The Gypsies 6:50
02. Nam Yo Ho Renge Kyo 3:53
03. Treat You So Right 3:25
04. Sunshine Man 6:38
05. Most Prized Possession Of All 1:40
06. Fertility Dance 6:50
07. Father Whistling 2:53
08. It Doesn't Matter What You Do 6:10
09. It's A Knack 2:10

Recorded in Source Family days, 1973 and 1974.

- Father Yod / vocals, kettle drum, gong
- Djinn / guitar
- Sunflower / bass
- Octavius / drums

Yet another comp of unreleased Yahowha 13 songs, drawn from the Family's archives.  While the quality of the music is generally high, the overall effect is diminished somewhat by the scattershot approach.  Give us complete recordings, please.
Tere's so much easily-found information about 1970's spiritual group the Source Family, and its musical arm Yahowha13, that covering it all in a record review is both impossible and pointless. Suffice to say that this fascinating community, centered around the charismatic Father Yod and his vegetarian L.A. restaurant The Source, was really into rituals-- especially 3 a.m. meditations. These were sometimes followed by jam sessions, often because Yod simply said "Let's play some music!" The result: nine albums released under the YaHoWha13 name in the 70s, all reissued a decade ago as part of the stunning 13-disc set God and Hair (a set curated by Seeds founder Sky Saxon, a devoted Source member who has since sadly passed away).

But much more of the group's music-- a raw mix of psych, improv, and spoken-word-- was recorded by Source member Isis Aquarian. Magnificence in the Memory represents a small slice of her vast archive, known to insiders as "The Lost Music". The album came together when Source compatriot and No Neck Blues Band member Dave Nuss combed through some of Isis' tapes, settling on nine tracks totaling 40 minutes. Nuss intended Magnificence to flow like an album rather than a sampler, and his work paid off, as the record has a remarkably consistent vibe.

How that vibe strikes you will depend on your tolerance for loose, meandering sounds, recorded with varying fidelity and overseen by a frontman who valued enthusiasm over convention or precision. For reference, the collective-based music of descendents like Sun City Girls, Bardo Pond, and Nuss's NNCK comes to mind. YaHoWha13's music sometimes sounds like rock, jazz, blues, even pop. But it's rarely anything you could call easy listening.

Still, you might be surprised by how interesting Magnificence is considering its origin. The Source Family had a lot to say about life and how to live it, but in YaHoWha13, the music was the message. So rather than opening with loud proselytizing, Magnificence begins with Yod's slow whisper on the slinky "Camp of the Gypsies". Halfway through, he suddenly screams "Let's Go!," and the band slams into raucous jamming. But even that sounds more like a cloudy seance than preachy gospel. When Yod howls "I'm gonna lead you home, but not in the usual way!," it's hard to deny the second half of that lyric, even if you aren't sold on the first.

The rest of Magnificence slyly dodges expectation. Wry humor dots "Nam Yo Ho Renge Kyo", whose anonymous intro is delivered in what sounds like Bugs Bunny's faux Asian accent. The clucking guitars of "Treat You So Right" bear an the odd logic akin to Captain Beefheart, while Yod's flute-like whistle on "Sunshine Man" creates an acid-soaked jingle. Sure, there are recognizable hippie moves here-- "Fertility Dance" is basically a drum circle, and "It's a Knack" is weirdo-folk in the vein of Syd Barrett or Skip Spence. But that doesn't diminish the warpy noise of "It Doesn't Matter What You Do" or the wind-and-drone duet of "Father Whistling". Even those tracks reflect the time period, but they still don't sound much like anything else made then or now.

The uninitiated might wonder whether Magnificence is the best introduction to YaHoWha13, as opposed to God and Hair or individual album reissues. But the group was so devoted to Yod's vision that pretty much everything they did provides a portal into their sonic world. Magnficence in the Memory is simply a chance to enter new corners of the Source universe, and future releases-- whether archival or new (the band still tours, though Father Yod passed away in 1975)-- should offer more doors to YaHoWha13's unique perception.

Yahowa 13 - 1975 - Yodship

Yahowa 13

01. As Above So Below
02. New Order Of The Eges

- Father Yod / Vocals
- Djin / Guitar
- Sunflower /Bass
- Octavius /Drums
- Zinuru / Sound

Coming out after Father Yod's death by hang gliding, Yodship comes off like a final late night wake around the preserved body of their Father, candles intact.

It's easy to dismiss most of Yodship as hippy jamming - imagine Parideswartsdull but with 66% less structure - yet actually it's subtler than that.

On Yodship, there are no egos, just a bunch of heads turned onto a similar vibe. In terms of a career move for Sky "Sunlight", releasing it probably wasn't that smart, but in terms of a TRUTH move, it's totally RIGHT ON.

In fact, I would argue that Sky Saxon's stuff with the Yahowha family was just as artistically viable as his stuff with The Seeds, even though only about 5% of Seeds fans have heard it. (If that!)

The first half of Yodship is late night chill improv jamming with voice, electric and acoustic guitar, bass, flute and tambourine. On it, Sky fulfills the role of a disciple quite convincingly.

By the end of Suite 2, things get even better, with the appearance of The Spirit of '76, who always strike me as a ramshackle jazz band - creating jazz the way Sun Ra created it - i.e. not jazz at all - but something living, organic.

For whatever reason, Suite 3 wasn't included on the original issue of Yodship, even though it comes from the same sessions. Instead, it was issued on its own in a limited edition of one!

When Suite 3 was finally rediscovered, someone said it "was so bad it's good." Well, people can dismiss Sky as an acid casualty, but fuck 'em, I think he was on to something right and true.

"Everything you gave us was like Christmas presents" Sky sings to his Father, trusting and naive, as only Sky can be.

The final part of Yodship Suite 3 is mostly piano, hinting at what Sky would achieve on the "Lovers Cosmic Voyage" e.p., another great recording that needs to be rediscovered.

When I listen to Yodship, I always feel nostalgic. What if the hippies had taken over?

Fire Water Air & Sky Saxon - 1977 - Golden Sunrise

Fire Water Air & Sky Saxon 
Golden Sunrise

01 Time Travel
02 Food for the Hungry
03 Voyage
04 Atlanteans
05 Go with the Flow
06 New Revolution
07 Wolf Pack
08 Come to the Ocean
09 Across the Prairie
10 Just Moving On
11 Celebration

In the mid 1970s, the former leader of The Seeds, Sky Saxon (then Arelich Sunlight Aquarian), joined forces with the musicians of the Brotherhood Of The Source, Ya Ho Wha 13, to form Fire Water Air. They produced only one recording: the legendary 'Golden Sunrise', which was originally released in small number of on 8-track cartridge. It is presented here fully re-mastered for the first time and includes an insert written for this release by guitarist Djin Aquarian.

With the late Father Yod no longer a factor, the musicians in Fire, Water, Air (who had been involved in the releases by Yahowa) could get down to the business of being, more or less, an actual rock band. A rock band not like many or any others, of course, but nonetheless a group that was not hindered by Yod's inept vocals or scattered mystical lyrics. Considering the 1977 release date, it comes across as timewarped, way-underground psychedelia at least five years out of synch with the times (not a bad thing, just an observation). As was usually the case with the Father Yod/Yahowa projects, songs and melodies are not the musicians' strengths. What matters more is the overall vibe. Distorted guitar riffs and tribal rhythms comprise the jammy template upon which the players unleash half-inspired, half-unfocused, spaced-out hard acid rock. The harder-rocking tunes here, though more professional than those on the Yahowa LPs, tend to be meandering and uninteresting, the highlights as usual supplied by Djin Aquarian's unpredictable assortment of ghostly high-voltage guitar tones. Sky Saxon sings on some of this stuff, and though the credits don't specify which tracks, it's probably on the bluesiest, albeit most humdrum, ones. Actually, the standouts are the acoustic Neil Young soundalikes near the end ("Across the Prairie" and "Just Moving On"), as well as the eerie closing chant-song "Celebration," with its echoing vocals and mournful violin.

Ya Ho Wa 13 - 1975 - The Operetta

Ya Ho Wa 13 
The Operetta

01. The Operetta 1 (22:52)
02. The Operetta 2 (14:47)
03. The Operetta 3 (13:31)
04. The Operetta 4 (6:02)
05. The Operetta 5 (10:24)
06. The Operetta 6 (4:59)

- Father Yod / Vocals
- Djin / Guitar
- Sunflower /Bass
- Octavius /Drums
- Zinuru / Sound

Spread over four sides of album this singular occurrence (recorded 1974) features some of the most crazed output from Father Yod and The Family. I was wary of this issue as I suspected the sound quality might be poor and that the barrel was being scraped. The sound quality is very good and the music definitely in the same league as their other releases. The gatefold LP comes with a pseudo-transcript of the events in the San Francisco warehouse where this was recorded early in the morning, documenting some of the spontaneous lyrics. So it is possible, although perhaps not desirable, to attempt to ‘make sense’ of it all. As the LP progresses the sound becomes increasingly liquid, pounding and intense. The sensation when listening is of becoming completely lost in the sound, utter dissolution occurs. There is always form in the chaos. However, all form is regularly lost, only to be pulled back from the edge by Father Yod mustering the might of His Sons from the Good Ship Yod. These fellows sail some dangerous high seas. The wild drumming really makes this recording stand out as it is right at the forefront. Hallmark feedback and demonic guitar solos vie with Father Yod on superb, raving, form. I would rate this somewhere between “Penetration” and “Golden Sunrise”. The demented trumpet of Golden Sunrise is deployed to devastating effect here, just where you least expect it. Occasionally, it sounds like a more ‘live’ version of “I’m gonna take you home”. And so, it only remains to be said: “It is time for a mating.” “Get it on with the tree.” (

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Yahowa 13 - 1974 - To The Principles For The Children

Yahowa 13
To The Principles For The Children

01. Side A (16:58)
02. Side B (10:37)

- Father Yod / vocals, kettle drum, gong
- Djinn / guitars
- Sunflower / bass
- Octavius / drums

The final Yahowa 13 project on which Father Yod appeared before his 1975 death is a return of sorts to the kind of record making he favored with his early Father Yod & the Spirit of '76 albums. As on those LPs, there are just two side-long tracks, simply titled "Side A" and "Side B," totaling about 25 minutes together (ending with kids chanting an ode to Yahowa). Perhaps these are a little more subdued than those early Father Yod LPs, and on a slightly higher instrumental plane, due mainly to guitarist Djin Aquarian's swirling palette of tones. It's generic Father Yod/Yahowa 13, if there could be such a thing: the psychedelic seer as stump speaker, perhaps. When he sings softest and deepest, he sounds like an amateur Tim Buckley; when (as is more often his wont) he sings louder, it sounds like Bruce Hampton, but far more annoying and sophomoric. The music lacks structure and melodic shape, and will strike most not as middling improvisation, but substandard, often loony strangeness, with a guitarist who seems too good for his company. When he squalls "You'll live forever!" at one point, it's hard not to get spooked, since he died in a hang-gliding accident (on his first hang-gliding excursion) shortly after the recording.

Yahowa 13 - 1974 - I'm Gonna Take You Home

Yahowa 13
I'm Gonna Take You Home

01. One (7:46)
02. Two (7:14)
03. Three (5:27)
04. Four (16:33)
05. Five (12:55)

- Father Yod / Vocals
- Djin / Guitar
- Sunflower / Bass
- Octavius / Drums
- Zinuru / Sound

Yahowa 13's previous two albums, particularly this one's immediate predecessor (Penetration: An Aquarian Symphony), were a substantial, even huge, improvement over their previous recordings. This was in large part because of the near-absence of Father Yod. So when Yod immediately takes to the mike to unleash his gristly groan-speak vocals at the beginning of the first track of I'm Gonna Take You Home, it's hard to suppress a moan. Much of the ground gained by Penetration is lost, the group -- whose spelling, for some reason, was changed to Yahowha 13 with the addition of an extra "H" -- sliding back into disheveled psychedelic jams, dominated by the crude philosophizing and even cruder singing of Father Yod. The band had developed into better players over the course of the previous LPs, and some of those peculiar talents are in evidence, such as Djin Aquarian's knack for odd psychedelic distortion, and tribal rhythms and gongs. There's only so much that can be done, however, in the context of Father Yod's rambling, tuneless songs. When he's not singing, in a manner of speaking, he's imitating a buzzing bee or, more palatably, whistling in an Ennio Morricone-ish manner. Tellingly, these five extended numbers have no titles other than "Track One," "Track Two," and so on, as a throwback to the Father Yod & the Spirit of 76 LPs, where tracks were simply identified as "Side A" and "Side B." The cover shot of a nude Father Yod in a position of copulation with a nude young woman ensured that the record would not be stocked by Woolworth's, which was hardly the intention of the band in any case.

Yahowa 13 - 1974 - Penetration - An Aquarian Symphony

Yahowa 13 
Penetration - An Aquarian Symphony

01. Yod He Vau He (11:25)
02. Ho (5:32)
03. Journey Thru An Elemental Kingdom (9:23)
04. Ya Ho Wha (13:24)

- Father Yod / Vocals
- Djin / Guitar
- Sunflower / Bass
- Octavius / Drums
- Zinuru / Sound

What a shiny, slimy instrumental perforation. Let me say this album "Penetration - An Aquarian Symphony" is a kind of Bible for us Krautrock believers.
From the beginning Father Yod's Orientally spiritual, meditative voice cloud and Djin's funkadelic, hypnotic guitar discussion shower, both have been squeezed into our right brain via ears. Echoic shadow with their instrumental moonshine we can feel directly, and mysterious, scattered guitar solos and tribal beats bind our body strictly. Although their soundscape has Kraut-ish rumple and fuzz indeed, their strong commune conscience we cannot avoid at all. Guess Guru can unify them as a spiritual community with his mind altering canon and especially with his musical rebellion. Not so difficult for us too but fine to leave our body and soul as we like.

The third track "Journey Thru An Elemental Kingdom" notifies us this way, with quiet bell ringing and dry, desert string-based shouts of pleasure and freakout. Some heavy tricky tips are kinda killer, whilst we can feel that complete calmness, stillness make sense for us. Heavy, hijacking madness can be heard in the last part, that launches tough meditation and medication into us. The eponymous track, that looks like they (especially Father) have penetrated remarkable enthusiasm, has two brilliant scenes - the first is like under a calm circumstance before the storm, along with whistle and percussion seasoned with eccentric synth noises, and the latter part is a real heavy, deep ritual for The Spirit named Ya Ho Wha, constructed with loud, metallic guitar sadness and wacky drum / percussion madness.

This mixture strategy is superb, and their creativity for such a short while (until Father Yod's tragic death) is really surprising, amazing.

Yahowa 13 - 1974 - Savage Sons Of Yahowa

Yahowa 13 
Savage Sons Of Yahowa

01. Edge of a Dream (2:11)
02. Fire in the Sky (5:07)
03. Just Sitting Here (4:01)
04. A Thousand Sighs (7:30)
05. Red River Valley (4:48)
06. Man the Messiah (4:57)
07. Making a Dollar (5:34)
08. I Thought I Am (4:40)
09. Oh Ya Ho Wa (2:01)

- Father Yod / vocals, kettle drum, gong
- Djinn / guitar
- Sunflower / bass
- Octavius / drums

Father Yod Yahowa's strange journey continued to take unpredictable twists on Yahowa 13's second album. Like Father Yod & the Spirit of '76's All or Nothing at All, this was so sonically unrelated to any of their prior recordings that it sounded like the work of an entirely different group of musicians. Unlike All or Nothing at All, it was also a change for the better. Not entirely accidentally, Father Yod himself does not appear on the album, ceding control of the music to Sunflower Aquarian, Djin Aquarian, Rhythm Aquarian, and Octavious Aquarian. It is obvious that one or more of these guys must have been huge Neil Young & Crazy Horse fans, as about half the songs are rougher approximations of his hard rock sound circa the early 1970s. And while those cuts are derivative, they're not half bad either. The vocals on "Edge of a Dream" are an especially spooky Neil Young soundalike, and "Red River Valley" has a nice hard rock spin on the kinds of melodies Young used on compositions like "Old Man." "Making a Dollar" is rustic, hard country-rock Crazy Horse with a touch of Harrison-esque Beatles. A few of the cuts eschew the overt Young influence for eccentric, roots-flavored hard rock. The vocals on these are so much throatier and blacker -- in the mode of a grainier Dr. John or War -- that it doesn't seem they could possibly be the work of the same singer. (The credits, as usual for Yahowa, don't shed any definite light on the situation.) This is the first Yod/Yahowa disc that can be accepted as a legitimate rock record on its own terms, rather than as a novelty of sorts. Were it done by some other obscure band on an independent label, one wouldn't think to make the connection between the music and the sort of eccentric mysticism that Yod and his followers practiced.

Yahowa 13 - 1974 - Yahowa 13

Yahowa 13
Yahowa 13

01. Because 3:45
02. Angel 1:28
03. Magical Lady 5:30
04. Little Doggie 4:45
05. A Kind Of Depression 6:55
06. Warden 5:30
07. Mailman 5:00
08. Come Come 4:45
09. Pain 4:15

- Father Yod / vocals, kettle drum, gong
- Djinn / guitar
- Sunflower / bass
- Octavius / drums

Yahowa 13 were basically a continuation of the loose ensembles that released four albums under the name Father Yod & the Spirit of '76. The main link between them, of course, was Father Yod himself, leader of the cult/sect from which these recordings emerged. For the first Yahowa 13 outing, Father Yod and his followers seemed to be making a determined effort to tread a more conventional, song-oriented path than the meandering psychedelic jams that most of the Spirit of '76 albums had. The playing isn't bad, with a tighter and bluesier feeling than the Spirit of '76 discs; the influence of the Mick Taylor-era Rolling Stones, for instance, is obvious on "Because." The problem, once again, is Father Yod, who is no singer despite his obvious enthusiasm for the enterprise. He does seem more restrained and conscientious on this album, which is good, since he's at his most grating the louder he tries to shout. He even approximates a bizarre "Can't Help Falling in Love"-style Elvis Presley vocal from time to time, especially on "Angel Boy" and "Magical Lady." The songs, however, aren't too good, and the semi-off-the-cuff-sounding lyrics not that profound. It gets into some dark material at times, with repetitious gloomy riffs that go into the less sunny sides of the mystical experience, as on "Kind of Depressing" and "Pain."

Father Yod And The Spirit Of '76 - 1974 - All Or Nothing At All

Father Yod And The Spirit Of '76 
All Or Nothing At All

01. I Can Read Your Mind
02. Home
03. Take A Ride
04. Every Morning
05. Renaissance
06. Party Song
07. Hurry Home
08. Different Dreams

09. Lady
10. Do Me
11. Woman

Bass – Sunflower Aquarian
Drums – Octavius Aquarian
Guitar – Djin Aquarian

Although present on the album cover and credited by the Source Family, Father Yod does not perform on this LP.

If the eccentric-mesmeric psych rock project Ya Ho Wha 13 deserves the attention of all prog listeners, Father Yod and the Spirit of the '76 is just a curiosity for absolute fans of the guru and his spiritual tribe. Father Yod and the Spirit of the '76 is the first Father Yod musical incarnation. It features the usual gallery of musicians with the omnipresent and creative Djin Aquarian on guitars. This album has been published by the Source Family but curiously Father Yod is absent of the recording sessions. Moreover we can hardly perceive the influence of his auratic mystical splendor on the album. Conceptually his peaceful and enthusiastic philosophy is supposed to remain an inspired guide for the musicians. Musically speaking this is utterly disappointed. All or Nothing at all figures among the less interesting and less absorbing albums from Father Yod. To sum up things, it is a vague, passable collection of acid folk-ish songs with ponctual naïve pop accents and soft melodic airs. Father Yod's haunted-cathartic ceremonials and darkly lyseric psych jams have gone in order to let the place to standardised, mediocre and pseudo romantic hippie stuff

While there is no such thing as a typical Father Yod/Yahowa record, All or Nothing at All, the last album billed to Father Yod & the Spirit of '76, is probably the least typical. Father Yod himself, for the first time, did not appear on the record (although he's on the cover), and the haphazard psychedelic improv of the previous three Father Yod outings had vanished. Instead there was timid singer/songwriter soft rock, written and performed by various members of the Yod clan (both men and women), from the sound of things (there are no credits with the disc). The preponderance of piano ballads leads one to believe that Neil Young's "After the Gold Rush" was a serious hit around the Yod camp. There are also obvious shades of Carole King, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Elton John, and Imagine-era John Lennon. Should someone ever decide to do a rarities compilation solely composed of rejected singer/songwriter demos submitted to major labels in the early 1970s, it would probably sound something like this: well-intentioned, derivative, benign, and relatively uninspired. Only on the jolly-to-the-point-of-idiocy singalong "Party Song" are there traces of the mania characterizing the Yod/Yahowa output. It's undoubtedly the Father Yod/Yahowa effort that will appeal least to the psych-heads who covet their rarities. Conversely, it's probably the only one (with the possible exception of Savage Sons of Yahowa) that mainstream listeners could stand to hear without demanding that it be taken off the stereo.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Father Yod And The Spirit Of '76 - 1974 - Expansion

Father Yod And The Spirit Of '76

01. Expansion (17:50)
02. Expansion (16:48)

- Sunflower Aquarian / Bass
- Octavius Aquarian / Drums
- Djin Aquarian / Guitar
- Father Yod / Vocals

Also credited to Father Yod and the Spirit of 76, and intended as a companion release to the previous album, "Contraction", this is similarly self-indulgent, non-comm male vocal ranting from Father Yod, over somewhat folk-ish mat'l, in one long track spread over 2 sides. This legitimate reissue came in a limited pressing of 500 copies

Not quite as underwhelming as Kohoutek, but it's nowhere near as good as Contraction. Too much of this is friendly, with an overemphasis on piano (though there's some great guitar throughout both sides). Things pick up about halfway through Side 1. Side 2 is a completely incoherent thing that doesn't manage to be interesting for very long before drifting into something different and less exciting, but still has a weird form of atraction for me.

Father Yod And The Spirit Of '76 - 1974 - Contraction

Father Yod And The Spirit Of '76 

01. Part 1 13:41
02. Part 2 11:29

Bass – Sunflower Aquarian
Drums – Octavius Aquarian
Guitar – Djin Aquarian
Vocals – Father Yod

Like the previous Kohoutek, Father Yod's second album is divided into two side-long LP tracks titled "Side A" and "Side B," totaling about 25 minutes altogether. The difference this time around is that it's actually one 25-minute cut, split up into two LP sides. There's more of a funk-jazz lilt to the backing track too, with a prominent flute. The number, though, goes through a baffling number of transitions, from mid-paced groove to kinda crazed decadent psychedelia to hymnal gospel-rock with female backup vocals. Father Yod again sounds like a hopeless Tim Buckley acolyte in his roam from low moans to frenzied shouting. There seems to be a bit of a Doors influence in some of the organ and spoken narration of the later sections. Many of his lyrics, whether sung or spoken, are cringingly banal or ludicrous, improvised far-out observations -- "doesn't a light bulb burn the brightest before it goes out," "bring it into existence, you've talked a lot, let's do it," and the like. Probably this was executed with the utmost sincerity, but the result is, for the most part, an unintentional comedy record. One's tempted to suspect that the backup musicians -- all 13 of them, most using the last name "Aquarian" (Cinderella Aquarian, Sunflower Aquarian, Vibration Aquarian, and so forth) -- were humoring their mentor, or suppressing their embarrassed laughter. But, probably, they were not. Father Yod does flash an occasional sense of humor about the enterprise, as when he announces, "East will meet West, and then that will be that. About time, too," followed by the kind of squeal that Curly from the Three Stooges used to emit when something caught his fancy.

Father Yod And The Spirit Of '76 - 1973 - Kohoutek

Father Yod And The Spirit Of '76

01. Part 1 14:59
02. Part 2 10:48

Bass – Sunflower Aquarian
Drums – Octavius Aquarian
Guitar – Djin Aquarian
Vocals – Father Yod

In all of rock history, there can be few stranger stories than that of Yahowa 13, the mystical quasi-cult psychedelic rock band that recorded prolifically in the mid-'70s. Psychedelic collectors are aware of Yahowa via their connection to Sky Saxon of the Seeds, who occasionally sang with members of the group. In fact, however, Yahowa 13's discography mined far deeper and more mysterious lodes than the relatively few tracks that a spin-off band did with Saxon.

Based around the group of disciples of the enigmatic Father Yod, Yahowa 13 (and the related outfits Father Yod & the Spirit of '76, Yodship, and Fire, Water, Air) made almost a dozen limited-circulation LPs, most within the course of just a couple of years (1973-1975). These LPs toed the musical lines between professionalism and amateurism, cosmic profundity and tomfoolery, and inspired and half-assed psychedelicisms. Their legacy is all the more difficult to succinctly summarize given that the albums often differed vastly from each other, to the point where it was impossible to tell that they had been recorded by the same loose ensemble of Father Yod followers. It is easy, and sometimes justified, to snipe at these cult rarities as the work of psychedelic charlatans. If only from a purely historical viewpoint, though, they're worthy of attention as peculiar artifacts, and as relics of a group of idiosyncratic musicians who were dedicated to expressing themselves in a manner absolutely uncompromised by notions of commercial viability and societal approval.

The Yahowa story begins in the late '60s. Jim Baker, a follower of yoga master Yogi Bhajan, became a guru of sorts himself for a group called the Source Family. He ran a health food restaurant on Sunset Strip in Los Angeles and assumed the name Father Yod. The exact nature of the Source Family's activities and philosophies remains mysterious, but they advocated vegetarianism and a white cotton wardrobe. One of the guys hanging around the Source crowd was Seeds singer Sky Saxon.

Among Father Yod's disciples were a number of musicians, who comprised the loose, floating group that began to make LPs in 1973. It was eventually revealed that more than 65 albums were actually recorded, though only nine of those were released; most of the unreleased albums have been destroyed. Most of the LPs were small-press runs of 500 or 1,000 copies, with few of these getting out to the general public, though some were sold in the record store attached to the restaurant that served as the Source Family's means of income. All were recorded in a soundproofed garage in the approximately 250-strong family's communal residence that served as the musicians' studio. All of the records with Father Yod's participation took as long to record as they take to listen to.

The first four of the albums were billed to Father Yod & the Spirit of '76, and are must-hears for aficionados of the genre known as "incredibly strange music." On the first three of these LPs, Father Yod chants/speaks inscrutable, and screwball-ish, pseudo-mystical thought against scrappy, just-about-professional psychedelic noodling. It's very much as if a middle-aged guy (which Baker/Yod was) has suddenly succumbed to cosmic revelations after a hit of acid and feels compelled to tell the world, without a hint of embarrassment about either the sophomoric nature of his thoughts or his obvious vocal limitations. Like a combination Captain Beefheart-Tim Buckley without any of the vocal ability or nuance, Yod plows, and often screams, his way to some unknowable destination. Largely in isolation from 1973's musical trends, the band complements him with later-period-psychedelicisms, particularly in the distorted and screeching guitars and organs, with jams that offer little in the way of conventional melodies or songwriting. The albums were divided into side-long tracks, merely labeled "Side A" and "Side B," befitting their apparent off-the-cuff origins.

For all their weirdness, Father Yod & the Spirit of '76 weren't totally devoted to spontaneous madness. Their fourth album, All or Nothing at All, was almost entirely comprised of tepid singer/songwriter soft rock that sounded like Amateur Hour at the local coffeehouse, albeit with some off-kilter lyrics; Father Yod did not even appear on the LP. Around this time, Father Yod changed his name to Yahowa, with the next batch of Yod-Yahowa-related recordings appearing under the name Yahowa 13. (To add to the confusion, Yahowa was sometimes spelled as Yahowha, Ya Ho Wa, or Yahoweh.)

The five albums released by Yahowa 13 circa 1974-1975 found them taking themselves somewhat more seriously as a rock band, with more attention paid to crafting expressive and accomplished riffs and rhythms. Yahowa/Father Yod was still often present on his idiot-savant vocals. It must be said that the group only truly came into their own -- as something that might be taken seriously by adventurous music fans, rather than treated as a cosmic novelty -- on those occasions when Yod was mostly or totally absent from the proceedings. For instance, the second Yahowa 13 LP, Savage Sons of Ya Ho Wa, not only lacked any contributions from Yod/Yahowa, but sounded almost totally unlike anything Yahowa 13/Father Yod & the Spirit of '76 had previously done. More than any other Yahowa 13 record, these were real songs, for the most part, often exhibiting a Neil Young fascination that made them sound like a rawer, zanier version of early-'70s Crazy Horse.

Yahowa 13's most successful artistic statement, however, was their next album, 1974's Penetration: An Aquarian Symphony. By this time the group had more or less settled down to a few core musicians, all of whom had the last name Aquarian. The most creative of these was guitarist Djin Aquarian (sometimes spelled Djinn), probably the only player (aside from Sky Saxon) associated with the Yahowa/Father Yod crowd whose talents were such that they could have made their mark on the world of secular popular music, beyond the Father Yod clan. Djin crafted a commendable variety of heavily amped and warped hard rock-psychedelic riffs from his axe, featured prominently throughout the Yahowa 13 catalog, and especially on Penetration. Father Yod's presence on this primarily instrumental album is minimal. It is ominous, throbbing space rock, the tension building and decelerating with the interaction between Djin and tribal rhythms and gongs. This album is recommended to those looking for psychedelic rock (or art rock, as it could be termed) that is comparable to little else from that or other eras.

Yahowa 13 drifted back into formless psychedelic jams, fronted by Yod/Yahowa's frankly annoying vocals, on their final two albums. Their musicianship had definitely improved over the course of their rapid-fire series of mid-'70s albums, yet there is no substitute, ultimately, for quality songs or compositions, which were not key elements in their frontman's vision. The Yahowa 13 saga ended in 1975, before the disparity between the musicians' abilities and the vocalist's shortcomings could be resolved.

At the end of 1974, the Source Family had sold their restaurant and moved to Hawaii. Yod/Yahowa, by this time married to 13 wives, never established himself and the family there. On August 25, 1975, Yahowa went hang-gliding for the first time and was mortally injured upon landing, dying after about nine hours. His disciples scattered within two years after his passing.

However, musicians that had been in Yahowa 13, including Djin Aquarian, continued to play together. In 1977, as Fire, Water, Air, they released an eight-track tape, Golden Sunrise, which sounded similar to Yahowa 13, but somewhat more focused and less weird. This is the album that includes some vocals by Sky Saxon, although it wasn't a high point in either party's careers. Still later in the 1970s, an album of which little is known, Yodship, was privately pressed. There was no information about the musicians on the cover (in fact there had never been much information on Father Yod-affiliated releases), which simply bore the title Yodship. It is apparent from the lyrics, however, that this may well have been the work of Yahowa followers, although it followed a more low-volume, folky vibe than most of the clan's previous albums had.

The first album by the musicians affiliated with the quasi-cult leader known as Father Yod (later known as Yahowa) is, like several of their productions, somewhat of an amateur effort. Divided into two side-long tracks (simply titled "Side A" and "Side B") totaling 26 minutes together, these sound like extemporaneous sermons with improvised late-period psychedelic rock backing. On "Side A", searing distorted guitar, funk-rock piano and organ, female backing vocals, and odd dabs of miscellany set the instrumental mood against which Yod pontificates. The chief drawback, is not Yod's followers, but Yod himself. The lyrics are embarrassingly over-the-top cosmic hippie homilies. His vocals are tuneless, which doesn't stop him from trying to exploit several octaves' worth of range. The result is something like Tim Buckley at his most avant-garde vocally and musically -- the Buckley Starsailor and Lorca albums, in particular -- without the considerable talent Buckley and his accompanists brought to those challenging but rewarding endeavors. "Side B" is the more bearable and subdued of the two cuts, with low hum-sing vocals (another possible Buckley reference point) flitting near the border of inaudibility, ending with what sounds like a test of the Emergency Broadcast System.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Wally - 1975 - Valley Gardens

Valley Gardens

01. Valley Gardens — 9:45
02. Nez Perce — 4:54
03. The Mood I’m In — 6:59
04. The Reason Why — 18:20 including:
a) Nolan (Webber/Sage)
b) The Charge (Sage/Glennie-Smith)
c) Disillusion (Webber)

Pete Cosker — electric and acoustic guitars, vocals, bass guitar
Nick Glennie-Smith — keyboards
Paul Middleton – steel guitar, bass guitar
Roger D. Narraway – percussion
Pete Sage — electric violin, bass guitar, mandolin
Roy Webber – lead vocals, acoustic guitar
Jan Glennie-Smith — vocals
Madeline Bell — vocals
Ray Wherstein – sax

''Valley Gardens'', released in 1975 and named after the area of Harrogate where most of the band lived, was Wally's second album. They split up following the album's release due to a lack support from their record company, although they have recently reformed and released a DVD of their comeback concert and a CD of old demos and new material. Whereas the band's debut album is a curious hybrid of country and progressive music ''Valley Gardens'' is pure symphonic, although extremely light in weight and still featuring the prominent use of traditional instruments.

Nick Glennie-Smith, who had replaced original keyboards player Paul Gerrett, ploughs straight in with a fitful synthesizer flurry on the title track before it settles into a gossamer space rock groove of intertwining Mellotron and steel guitar. ''Nez Perce'' features guest vocals by American soul singer Madeline Bell, probably most famous for her work with Blue Mink. The Nez Perce, a tribe of Native Americans, got their name from the French term for pierced noses. Among the traditions of the Nez Perce is the legend of the Wallowa Lake Monster, often referred to as Wally. This song artfully combines the band's pop sensibility with Pete Sage's ethereal electric violin, and it even managed to achieve some airplay back in the day.

''The Mood I'm In'' is a fairly nondescript West Coast ballad with a bit of saxophone tagged onto the end for interest, but it's ''The Reason Why'' that grabs the most attention here. At over 19-minutes it takes up the entire second half of the album and is based on Lord Tennyson's anti-war poem ''The Charge of the Light Brigade''. It's an ambitious, moving piece and no mistake, with a lengthy improvised instrumental section.

''Valley Gardens'' neither sucks nor rules. It will obviously have more appeal for fans of mellow progressive music, but others might even enjoy something along the way. Wally are sadly over-looked and I wonder if they would be whining if there were more than half a million reviews of their output online?

Wally - 1974 - Wally


01. The Martyr — 7:55
02. I Just Wanna Be A Cowboy — 3:59
03. What To Do — 7:34
04. Sunday Walking Lady — 2:32
05. To The Urban Man — 13:45
06. Your Own Way — 5:25

Pete Cosker — electric & acoustic guitars, vocals, bass
Paul Gerrett — Fender Rhodes, harmonium, grand piano, harpsichord, mellotron, hammond organ, vocals
Paul Middleton — steel guitar, bass
Roger Narraway — percussion
Pete Sage — electric violin, bass, mandolin
Roy Webber — lead vocals, acoustic guitar
Bob Harris & Rick Wakeman — producers

WALLY is a strange band, they started playing some sort of Symphonic Country, which wouldn't be strange "per se" if they were from USA, but this guys were British and their debut album was produces by Rick Wakeman, so it's kind of unusual.

The band was formed in the early 70's by Singer Songwriter Roy Webber, the original lineup that was completed by Pete Cosker (Electric and acoustic guitars), Paul Gerrett (Fender Rhodes, harmonium, grand piano, harpsichord, mellotron, Hammond organ and vocals) Paul Middleton (Steel guitar and bass), Roger Narraway in the drums and Pete Sage playing electric violin, bass and Mandoline.

The band was discovered in 1972 when they reached the finals of a contest organized by the Melody Maker Magazine which was won by another band named DRUID. But they caught the attention of a judge of the contest called Bob Harris, who got them a contract with Atlantic Records, and with the support of Rick Wakeman co-produced their debut self titled album in 1974.

This album has a clear Symphonic sound, specially in the excellent "The Martyr" and the twelve minutes epic "To the Urban Man" with great Mellotron, but a good deal of Country music influence, more evident in songs as "I Just Wanna Be a Cowboy" that mixes some EAGLES sound, not an outstanding album, but solid enough, sadly it was a commercial failure.

Before they released their second album in 1975, Paul Gerrett leaves the band is replaced by Nick Glennie-Smith, with whom the release "Valley Gardens" in which they leave the Country sound behind and contains the best track they released, the epic "The Reason Why" which covered all side "B" of the LP.

Little is known after this release, but most people remembers them for their participation in the 1975 Reading Festival where they did a strong performance, despite playing with bands as YES, CARAVAN, WISHBONE ASH, SOFT MACHINE, etc.

As I said before, not the best band ever, but they were very good and deserve more recognition for being owners a unique sound.

 While much of the sixties were marked by the British invasion of America and all points west and east of Liverpool, there seem to have been some points in time where the influences flowed the other direction, if only in isolated pockets. Wally are one of those rare examples of this phenomenon. Despite being a bunch of guys from Leeds they managed to spend five years in the seventies touring around under management of Brian Lane and sounding something like the Eagles fronted by Jackson Browne with a hillbilly fiddler in tow. That and two albums produced by Whispering Bob Harris and Rick Wakeman should have made them stars somewhere, but apparently things just didn’t work out. Probably because their prog heavyweight connections belied their true talent as a modern-day R&B band.
This music is about as progressive as most of what Wishbone Ash or Ambrosia or America or Firefall or Home ever put out, which is to say not very. But if you are one of those people who has fond memories of the mellow, country soft-rock that filled the AM radio airwaves from about 1973 through 1978 then you will find this stuff pretty appealing. In fact “Sunday Walking Lady” sounds an awful lot like Firefall’s “Cinderella” except with some whiny fiddle for flavor. And “I Just Wanna Be a Cowboy” reminds me of Home’s “Time Passes By”. Not complaining mind you, just a couple of observations.

I think they’re closer to being a folk band than a symphonic one anyway, but I suppose the mellotron, Hammond organ and harmonium manage to fool some people. The one track that stands out a bit is the fourteen minute “To the Urban Man” with its psych sound effects and guitar fuzz layered in with that same persistently whining violin. This is a fun tune to listen to but it is also the only thing on the album that approaches true prog music with the exception of the opening track “The Martyr”, an eight minute mostly instrumental flight of fancy that moves between prog and pop almost seamlessly.

There’s a guy named Paul Middleton playing pedal steel throughout the album which of course makes this sound even more like country music than it would otherwise, although it would otherwise anyway. For fans of this instrument his highpoint is the closing track “Your Own Way” in which he pretty much sets the tone for the whole arrangement with some nice sustains and an overall wispy autumn afternoon feel. Nicely done.

These guys would put out one more album before constant touring and lack of acclaim took their toll and the band broke up. Most of them stayed in music though. Roy Webber played in a band called Trader for a while before turning to a graphic design career. Today he is one half of a part-time mainstream act known as Jackson-Webber. Pete Sage owns a recording studio in Germany, and Paul Middleton became a sort of British version of John Forgerty – hermit-like with rare public appearances before resurfacing a few years ago fronting Paul Middleton & the Angst Band. Keyboardist Nick Glennie- Smith (who replaced Paul Gerrett around the time this album was recorded) was one of a host of musicians who played the Roger Waters Berlin Wall gig. Pete Cosker unfortunately died of drug-related causes in 1990.

These guys aren’t all that memorable for a reason – they didn’t exactly put out innovative or timeless music. But they did what they did quite well, and managed to record an album with a decent sense of continuity and some nice blues steel, which is something I personally enjoy. This is a three star effort in my mind, but be warned that it is not what is traditionally considered progressive and is certainly not symphonic. Prog folk fans will undoubtedly enjoy it though.


Tripsichord Music Box - 1971 - Tripsichord

Tripsichord Music Box 

01. On The Last Ride — 4:42
02. We Have Passed Away — 2:45
03. Black Door — 2:55
04. The New Word — 4:40
05. Son Of The Morning — 5:34
06. Short Order Steward — 5:04
07. The Narrow Gate — 3:35
08. Fly Baby — 6:26
09. Everlasting Joy — 4:19
10. You’re The Woman — 3:35
11. It’s Not Good — 3:10
12. Family Song — 8:26
13. Times & Seasons — 3:23
14. Sunday The Third — 3:19

Frank Straigt — guitar
Dave Zandonatti — bass
Oliver McKinney — keyboards and organ
Bill Carr — vocals, guitar
Ron McNeeley — vocals
Randy Gordon — drums

There are so many versions of this album, legit originals, legit reissues, and bootlegs, that is difficult to not only know what you have, but to even stay on top of them. This album was originally recorded in late 1969 by this San Francisco band (which, incidentaly, had shortened their name at this point to just Tripsichord), and released in early 1970 on the local San Francisco Sound label in a very tiny quantity. It should be noted that this original version has, by far, the most superior sound quality of all pressings. By late 1970, the Janus label had expressed interest in picking the album up for national release, and immediately annexed the remaining copies pressed by S.F.S. and slapped a new white label promo Janus/San Francisco Sound label on them (this is the currently posted image for this entry). They also pressed an additional small quantity of these same promos using the original San Francisco Sound stamper. These versions obviously also have the superior sound quality, since they are original pressings and are all identifiable via the matrix numbers. Then, Janus began pressing their own versions of the album, which they finally released in 1971. Though the reason is not known for sure, it is widely believed that Janus mastered their pressing from an original San Francisco Sound vinyl issue. These versions have significantly inferior sound quality, almost sounding as if the speakers are beneath a pile of pillows compared to the orig pressing. I have not heard them all, but I believe all subsequent reissues and bootlegs contain this flawed version. I'm sure the Eva version does, but I think the  Akarma version may have been copied from an original SFS copy, as it does sound significantly better than the Janus pressing. Hope this info helps in some way.
   As far as the album itself goes, this is a true west coast gem, featuring excellent dual lead guitars, often jamming away in typical hippie psych style. And there is also great male/female vocal harmony and fabulous song writing. These guys really captured the late 60's west coast sound as good as anyone, and this remains an absolute essential for any psych collection.

The Travel Agency - 1968 - The Travel Agency

The Travel Agency
The Travel Agency

01. What's A Man - 5:06
02. Sorry You Were Born - 3:08
03. Cadillac George - 4:42
04. Lonely Seabird - 3:21
05. So Much Love - 3:02
06. Make Love - 2:25
07. That's Good - 6:57
08. I'm Not Dead - 2:17
09. She Understands - 3:10
10.Come To Me - 3:16
11.You Will Be There - 2:16
12.Old Man – 2:12

The Travel Agency
*Steve Haehl - Guitar, Vocals
*Michael S. Aydelotte aka Michael Sage - Bass
*Francisco (Frank) Lupica - Drums

The Travel Agency formed in San Francisco and released their self-titled LP, produced by Bread's James Griffin,  on LA's Viva Records in 1968.

Drummer Frank (real name Francisco) Lupica joined  a little later, prior to the LP.  Lupica had previously been in Us, a Bob Segarini-led  garage band who'd recorded for the Autumn label in 1965  but whose sole 45 was not released due to a dispute over  arrangements between Segarini and the label they split soon after and Segarini went on to lead a succession of more successful  bands (Family Tree, Roxy, Wackers).

Side One is the stronger; the haunting and stately  neo-prog keyboard intro which blossoms into the poppy  What's A Man, strong fuzztone on Cadillac George,  and gentler love songs Lonely Seabird and So Much Love.  There are fast commercial rockers (Make Love and Old Man)  and catchy pop (That's Good). Perhaps because of this diversity  and the lack of band identity, thanks to the absence of  any member info or credits, the album was overlooked and remains underrated.

Steve Haehl and Frank Lupica reappeared  a couple of years later in Shanti, whose eponymous  Eastern-influenced LP was released in 1971. Two tracks thereon  were composed by non-member Mike Aydelotte, aka Michael Sage  when he was in Travel Agency. Lupica went on to a solo career and,  billed as Francisco, performed one-man shows all over California  playing numerous exotic instruments including a self-built electrified I-beam; adorned with keyboards and other devices, he dubbed it  the Cosmic Beam. In 1976 he released his proto-new age LP,  Cosmic Beam Experience.

In the same year he was musician and  composer for Tanka, a very short animated film about  Tibetan thank gas (images from the Tibetan Book Of The dead)  alongside former Shanti bandmates Ashish Khan and Pranesh Khan;

in 1979 he was sound effects creator for Star Trek The Motion Picture; and in 1998 his music was used and sampled in the film The Thin Red Line. He played viola the Deep Song CD by Ranee Lee.
by Max Waller with thanks to Jeff Jarema