Thursday, February 5, 2015

Sum Pear - 1971 - Sum Pear

Sum Pear
Sum Pear

01. What's So Bad About Feelin' Good - 4:56
02. Better Get Down - 3:10
03. Save the Children - 3:31
04. Hey Sun - 3:35
05. Thoughts of Slumber - 3:31
06. Bring Me Home America - 3:18
07. I Need Lovin' - 2:17
08. Down On Saturday - 4:17
09. I Can See - 3:32
10.Got Me Tragedy - 3:08
11.On My Way / Forget Yesterday Medley - 6:46

Sum Pear
*Sonny Hahn - Guitar, Keyboards
*Doug Miller - Vocals, Keyboards
Backing Musicians
*Kathy Alison - Backing Vocals
*Tommy Castagnaro - Drums
*John Cavalea - Trombone
*Richie Cruz - Trumpet
*Bob Dorsa - Bass
*Steve Harber - Sax
*Randy Ragano - Guitar
*Billy Resvanis - Drums
*John Scaduto - Drums
*Mike Segall - Backing Vocals
*Barry Taylor - Keyboards

 A Long Island New York-based (?) duo consisting of guitarist/keyboard player Sonny Hahn and singer/keyboard player Doug Miller, this is an outfit I don't know much about, nor have I ever been able to dig up much on the pair.

Released by the small Euphoria label (apparently a short lived Jubilee offshoot), their sole release 1971's "Sum Pear" was well worth looking for (though it's relative rare and increasingly costly - I've seen two original copies in twenty years). Produced by Bob Gallo, the set offered up a great mix of psych-influenced rockers ('Better Get Down'), straight ahead rock ('Bring Me Home America'), and more conventional folk rock ('I Can See'). 

Miller had a nifty voice and Hahn's penchant for feedback drenched guitar (check out the blazing 'Got Me Tragedy'), were both strong selling points.  Some interesting lyrics (yes I actually occasionally actually listen to the words) and the presence of a full backing band with a kick ass rhythm section in the form of bass player Bob Dorsa and drummer John Scaduto certainly didn't hurt the proceedings. 

With the pair writing virtually all of the material (a killer cover of Mickey Newbury's 'Down On Saturday' being the lone non-original), highlights included 'Hey Sun', the wah-wah guitar propelled 'What's So Bad About Feelin' Good', the hyper-speed 'I Need Lovin'"' and the horn-propelled 'Thoughts of Slumber'.

Stained Glass - 1969 - Aurora

Stained Glass

01. Gettin’ On’s Gettin’ Rough - 3:00
02. Jim Dandy - 3:15
03. A Common Thief - 5:21
04. The Kibitzer - 5:02
05. Inca Treasure - 3:37
06. Daddy’s Claim - 3:40
07. Sweetest Thing - 3:27
08. Mad Lynn Ball - 3:44
09. The Necromancer - 3:46

Stained Glass
*Jim McPherson - Bass Guitar, Vocals, Keyboards
*Dennis Carriasco - Drums
*Bob Rominger -- Lead Guitar (1966-68)
*Tom Bryant - Lead Guitar (replaced Bob Rominger)

Second, and generally regarded as the better of the band’s 2 albumsrecorded for Capitol in the late ‘60s.Formed in 1966, Stained Glass began life as a Beatles cover bandperforming live in and around their native San Jose until an A&Rman from RCA signed them to the label later that year.

Four singles for RCA duly followed, but success stubbornly refused to dolikewise, although We Got A Long Way To Go (RCA 47-9166) , adriving rock song far removed from their more usual Merseybeatstyle, did provide the band with a small degree of fame when thesingle became a big hit in Southern California in 1967.

Disillusioned with life at RCA, the band decamped to Capitol in early1968, where they were to record three singles and two highlyacclaimedalbums which, despite attracting the critic’s plaudits,failed to make an impact causing the group to disband in November1969 with vocalist/bass player Jim McPherson going on to joinCopperhead.

While the band’s first album, Crazy Horse Roads (Capitol ST154) wasan eccentric amalgam of commercial tunes, fuzz guitar and psychtouches, their second effort, Aurora (Capitol ST242), with its looser,more jammy feel, is the one that the general consensus rates as thebetter of the two.

Stained Glass - 1968 - Crazy Horse Roads

Stained Glass
Crazy Horse Roads

01. Sing Your Song - 2:05
02. Finger Painting - 2:11
03. Soap and Turkey - 2:39
04. Twiddle My Thumbs - 2:40
05. Fahrenheit - 3:43
06. Nightcap - 2:55
07. Horse On Me - 2:18
08. Two Make One - 3:10
09. Light Down Below - 3:22
10.Piggy Back Ride and the Camel- 2:10
11.Doomsday - 4:23
12. If I Needed Someone (non-LP A-side, Bonus Track)
13. How Do You Expect Me To Trust You? (non-LP B-side, Bonus Track)
14. My Buddy Sin (non-LP A-side, Bonus Track)
15. Vanity Fair (non-LP B-side, Bonus Track)
16. We Got A Long Way To Go (non-LP A-side, Bonus Track)
17. Corduroy Joy (non-LP B-side, Bonus Track)
18. A Scene In Between (non-LP A-side, Bonus Track)
19. Mediocre Me (non-LP B-side, Bonus Track)
20. Lady In Lace (non-LP A-side, Bonus Track)

Stained Glass
*Jim McPherson - Bass Guitar, Vocals, Keyboards
*Dennis Carriasco - Drums
*Bob Rominger -- Lead Guitar (1966-68)
*Tom Bryant - Lead Guitar (replaced Bob Rominger)

Produced by John Gross and Max Hoch, 1968's "Crazy Horse Roads" is absolutely wonderful. Largely written by McPherson, at least to my ears, material such as 'Sing Your Song', 'Finger Painting' and 'Soap and Turkey' offers up a near perfect blend of instantly memorable melodies with great group harmonies and a wicked mix of blazing fuzz guitars and psych touches.

The material's highly commercial, but with more than enough muscle to appeal to folks who shun top-40 with a passion. The heavily orchestrated 'Twiddle My Thumbs' and ' 'Nightcap' were among the few missteps. The two songs were certainly pretty, but McPherson's atypical quivering falsetto delivery makes them sound like Bee Gees outtake (though both could've been hits had the latter released them).

Personal favorites - the blazing fuzz rocker 'Light Down Below' and the disconcerting last track 'Doomsday'. Elsewhere Capitol tapped the rocker 'Fahrenheit' b/w 'Twiddle My Thumbs' as a single (Capitol catalog number 2372). Well worth the investment if you can find a copy and the LP's rapidly gaining a following in collecting circles.

Snakegrinder - 1976 - ...And The Shredded Filedmice

...And The Shredded Filedmice

01. Love Junkie - 6:44
02. Freedonian Hat Dance (Jesus Was a Plumber) - 7:18
03. On the Road (And off Again) - 5:15
04. Dogland - 1:07
05. Better Late Than Frozen - 4:36
06. Nothing's Very Easy When Your Baby's in the Lake - 13:59
07. Moon Over the Delaware - 1:41

*Dave Bennett - Keyboards, Mouth
*Larry Adams - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Tommy Eppes - Rhythm Guitar, Pedal Steel, Percussion
*Jonathan McDowell - Sound System, Location Recording
*Steve L. Roberts - Bass, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
*John DiGiovanni - Drums, Percussion
*George Wolkind - Vocals

For two weeks before their first gig as The Larry Adams Band at the Rockford Park music festival on August 15th, 1970, the hastily assembled group of Larry, Steve Roberts, George Christie, John DiGiovanni, and Dave Bennett, labored to electrify 5 or 6 folky-type tunes in order to present them to an audience that was pretty much beyond the folk movement of the 60’s. After all, it was now the 70’s, exactly one year beyond Woodstock!

Larry, Steve, George, and John had recently emigrated from a failed musical adventure known as “George’s Lunch” (“Take us out or eat us here!”). Dave was found at Eat At Joes, a high school coffee house in a Newark church basement, where Larry and Steve had attempted a Hot Tuna-type set. The band he was in, “Pump Productions", had recently dissolved, as well.

The debut at Rockford Park was unspectacularly OK. However, after the band dragged their gear from the stage, stowed it in their vehicles and went back to being members of the audience, one of the cars was broken into and all of George Christie’s stuff was stolen. As everyone was too poor to own spare equipment, George was now, by default, out of the band. The performance that really got the audience truckin’ down the aisles that day, “Singin’ doo-dah, doo-dah, doo-dah”, came from Primeval Slime.

Over the next 5 years, the nucleus of four, Larry, Steve, John, and Dave, saw various others come and go. Among them were Eddie Day and Tommy Eppes, from Primeval Slime. Tommy learned to play the pedal-steel, left, and came back. Poor Eddie was run over by a train

One of the band’s biggest fans, George Wolkind, whom had never sung in performance, anywhere, was visited by the ghost of Eddie Day a few days after the tragedy and told George that he would take his place as lead singer of the band, in a year. As prophesied, a year after Eddie’s untimely end, with no knowledge of the disembodied communication, Steve and Dave asked Mr. Wolkind to join the band as lead singer. (Now, THAT was weird!)

So by 1973, the 6 members who comprised the band most folks knew just as “Snakegrinder”, finally got together. They were joined by Jon McDowell, Keeper of the Sound, and Nick Norris, business agent. Musically, the band played a mix of covers – mainly influenced by the west coast psychedelic movement, with a little South-southwest flavor - and some very idiosyncratic originals. (Many of which can be heard on the two CD set: “…and the Shredded Fieldmice”, available practically nowhere!) The band’s strength was their ability to improvise and jam. Coupled with their total lack of professional appearance, and their socio-political musical anarchism, they seemed to catch on with the burgeoning “alternative” community growing wild in the 70’s. The band became a staple at area coffee houses, festivals, and underground shows.

They were immensely popular with local Grateful Deadheads, usually drawing large crowds to the small venues they played. Bar owners weren’t all that enamored of the band, however, as the crowds never seemed to drink much in spite of their jubilant dancing and frequent trips to the parking lot. Snakegrinder was also a “musician’s band”. Many local area artists have testified to being influenced by the band, early on in their careers. (“Yes, your honor, it was all their fault.”) To their credit, there was never a paternity suit brought against any band member!

Unfortunately, the alternative community couldn’t support the band monetarily, and by August of 1975, Larry was ready for a new life. He left the area and started a real career. With one of the parts missing, the band, depending entirely on the inter-personal group dynamic of the members as the engine driving the music, could not go on.

In epilogue, the band announced the release of an album, recorded at Dana Smith's Quaudio Studio in Wilmington, Delaware in 1975 and 1976, of all original tunes, at the second of their annual Christmas reunions in 1976, at the Stone Balloon. They got back together twice after that, for public performances – the last was in 1988. Let it be noted, that the original vinyl LP has become a collector’s item. Mr. Alligator (their media producer) having sold an unopened copy and a used copy, several years ago to a dealer in Connecticut for $150 and $50, respectively. A few months ago, another copy of the LP sold on eBay for $250 to a gentleman in Japan.

Larry became Dr. Adams and is living in Bristol, England, supervising research data for the city’s schools. Musically, he's playing fiddle and involved in choral singing. Tommy Wayne (Eppes) has maintained a thriving career as a pedal-steel guitarist, centered in Las Vegas. John DiGiovanni is one the best known and sought-after local drummers and drum teachers, as well as a master electrician, gigging regularly with several bands, including The John DiGiovanni Quartet and Garry Cogdell and the Complainers.

George Wolkind is in Colorado communing with the spirit world. Dave Bennett went off to join a Mexican circus, playing tuba, after which he founded The Voltags in 1979. Currently, he is on a world tour of self-discovery and is residing in the Phillipines.

Steve Roberts plays with a 4 piece improv group, Accidents Will Happen, as well as collaborating with the legendary Hangnail Phillips, (we won't mention his association with the infamous ninja beatnik poet and musipeutician, Dick Uranus.) He is also vice-president of Inconsequential Films.

Jon McDowell, George Christie, and Steve all work together in the I.T. department of a large, local health care organization, disciplining computers.  Nick Norris successfully carried on in his management career and is the Operations Manager for CenterStaging Musical Productions' Pennsylvania facility. - "where artists go to work... before you see them play".

To quote the liner notes from their “posthumous” album – “We really weren’t sure where we were coming from and we were damn sure we didn’t know where we were going... but we needed the exercise so we bought a lot of heavy equipment and hauled it around. We got high, we got down, we played some music, we loved it, we hated it, we lost money, we gained friends, and we got older.”

The Sidetrack - 1969 - Baby

The Sidetrack

01. Rock 'n' Roll - 3:33
02. Peace Of Mind - 2:54
03. Summership - 2:08
04. 3214-B - 3:00
05. Knowing What You Hold So Dear - 3:54
06. Baby - 6:23
07. Colors - 2:30
08. Wild Eyes - 3:22
09. Monkey - 2:49
10.Sweet Substitute - 11:05
11.Blues For Matthew - 1:50

The Sidetrack
*Alan Brown
*Christopher Brown
*Peter Brown
*Kenneth Gullmartin
*Andrew Higgs
*John Lewis

Very little information is known from this group. This seems to be a professionally recorded demonstration copy for an intended Elektra release, which never happened. The Sidetrack consisted of Alan, Christopher and Peter Brown, Kenneth Gullmartin, Andrew Higgs and John Lewis.

The album has is own special atmosphere, which is end of ‘60’s styled, song driven –with some colourful melodic clarity in expression-. It is well arranged, often with multilayered keyboards (piano’s, harpsichord, organ), bass and drums but almost no guitars. The songs fit well together as if there’s a story line between them. The baroque elements are also very special which are worked out now and then, at first only a little bit on “Baby”, and well adapted into the composition on “Sweet Substitute”.

“Blues for Matthew” has true Bach-like arrangements, a complex almost symphonic track with string-,band- and vocal arrangements. A blues element of harmonica is mixed greatly into this rather unique track. The first tracks on the second side are rather short. A separate song easily remembered into as a pop standard and to take out of the context of the album, might be “Summership”. “2314-B” is the second long track, with a jazzy/bluesy, half composed, half improvised evolution of organ, harpsichord, bass, harmonica, and some complex rhythms. Also this track has a rather baroque symphonic theme further on, which is equally successfull and in a catchy way mixed with the other styles.

After such an impressive complex track, “Knowing what you hold so dear” is held much simpler, a short song accompanied by some acoustic guitar arrangement only.  A very enjoyable album which deserves this first reissue. Only a shame there isn’t a real cover designed for it, we don’t have real band info, not even a photograph.

Andrew Higgs wrote on PHROCKBlog
Yes it's too bad it wasn't produced and released by Elektra, but it was our fault not the label's. The label's offer of a contract was firm. We opted (we were young!) to create our own record to market to labels as a finished product but, certainly in my opinion, the professional production offered by Elektra would have resulted in a much better recording... and no label offered to release our independent effort. (And fyi my vote was to accept the Electra contract) We had even received an expression of interest from Dick James at Apple Records at one point (that was really exciting!), but alas didn't hear from them again. Thanks for your very nice write up... especially the bit about the bass playing.
Andrew Higgs, Sidetrack bass player.
May 3, 2010 6:25 PM

Shape Of The Rain - 1971 - Riley, Riley, Wood And Waggett

Shape Of The Rain
Riley, Riley, Wood And Waggett

01.Woman - 3:57
02.Patterns - 3:21
03.Castles - 1:57
04.Wasting My Time - 3:09
05.Rockfield Roll (Eric Hine) - 0:48
06.Yes - 5:47
07.Dusty Road - 3:49
08.Willowing Trees - 3:48
09.I'll Be There - 3:39
10.Broken Man - 5:57 including:
 a).Every One A Gem
 b).After Collapsing At Kingsley's

Shape Of The Rain :
Keith Riley - electric & acoustic 6 & 12-string guitars, vocals
Brian Wood - electric & acoustic 6 & 12-string guitars, steel guitar, tambourine, vocals
Len Riley - bass, maracas
Ian "Tag" Waggett - drums, maracas, tambourine
Eric Hine - electric piano

Released on the RCA subsidiary neon in 1971, the riley, wood & waggett album by UK outfit shape of the rain is a wonderful example of American west coast meets British sych/progressive to create a sound and feel all of its own. It's subtle rhythms, 12 string & slide guitars plus excellent harmonies, make it one of the most enduring albums of its time. No doubt about it' it's a charming album! Despite not achieving mainstream success at the time, the band are now held in high regard by critics and collectors alike, and this radioactive reissue is timely. Don't miss the chance this time around.