Monday, February 16, 2015

Life - 1974 - A Life After Death

A Life After Death

01. Riding Around
02. Oupus
03. I Don’t Want To
04. Black Eye
05. Highway
06. Sleepless Night
07. Woman
08. Looking Out
09. Everybody’s Queuing To Be Last
10. The Plank/Devil On The River

Roger Cotton - piano, keyboards, lead guitar, lead vocals
Ian Gibbons - keyboards, hammond organ, flute, electric piano, moog, background vocals
Richard Thorpe - bass, lead & background vocals
Paul Thorpe - drums, lead vocals

This British rarity was produced by Chris White (formerly of the Zombies) and features the talents if Ian Gibons, Ian Hunter, Ken Hensley and many others. A dense mixture of hard rock and classic prog, with classy hooks and complex instrumental interplay throughout, sadly it failed to attract the critical acclaim it so richly deserved when it was originally released in the summer of 1974, but this reissue is sure to appeal to all fans of obscure progressive rock today

UK heavy prog act, Life, are another act whose history is shrouded in total mystery. This is particularly odd since their sole album was released by Polydor Records in 1974, but sadly there's nothing I can tell you about the band's accomplishments or their post-breakup activities.

Upon first hearing this fantastic album, distinct shades of Uriah Heep come bursting forth and persist throughout each of the tracks here. In fact, their influence is so prevalent here that it can sometimes be daunting to figure out Life's true creative viewpoint. Taking Heep as a starting point, the band also brings other styles into the mix that each point to some of rock's biggest names. Whether it is just certain instruments, writing styles or entire songs, bands like ELP, Santana, Argent & Kansas (minus violin) all come to mind at certain points on this record. One must acknowledge this overbearing nod to other artists when evaluating Life's writing and perfoming talents. If you can get past the derivative nature of the music, the songs themselves are all well written and dripping with hooks. This is very well done prog influenced hard rock.

Collectors drop good money to snag this album and surprisingly no label has opted to do a reissue. To remedy that problem, enjoy this good vinyl rip and indulge yourself in one of England's most overlooked classic acts.

Life - 1971 - Spring


01. Tantalizing Sensation (3:49)
02. Laverne's (1:49)
03. Dream Machine (6:17)
04. Mean Woman (3:19)
05. Hawaiian Jack (6:18)
06. Honeydrippin' Boogie Woogie (3:09)
07. Then I Am (Part One) (2:56)
08. Then I Am (Part Two) (1:31)
09. My Discovery (4:11)
10. Talkin' 'bout A Woman (6:06)
11. The Last Song (3:08)

Total time: 42:34

Bonus tracks on 2002 CD re-issue:
12. Headhunterblues (7:24)
13. I Don't Want To Be Your Fool Anymore (4:07)
14. Where Are You Headed? (5:07)

- Gernot Pilz / bass
- Linus / drums, vocals
- Jason / lead guitar, sang backing, lead vocals
- Marcel Mohr / drums

The story of this singular album began in Munich in spring (!) 1971 when composer, artist, songwriter and producer Julius Schittenhelm (worked also for Embryo, Guru Guru, Amon Düül 1, Annexus Quam and Floh de Cologne) got a visit by Christian Burchard slobbering over a band of American Germans called „The Wedge“ that intended to do a record in Germany. When Schittenhelm met them unfortunately the original trio just consisted of the drummer/lead singer „Linus“ and lead guitarist „Jason“ since the bass player had disappeared back to USA already. Linus exchanged drums with rhythm guitar and soon after two local guys had been found for drumming (Marcel Mohr) and for bass (Gernot Plitz) and the band LIFE was born. Under quite amateurish conditions they recorded the songs for their debut. The band gave a couple of concerts after and recorded a few more songs for a planned second album which finally found some place on this CD re-release presented here (tracks 12-14). In 1972 they disbanded during a tour through Italy and the musicians vanished in the haze.

Now let’s speak about the material presented here. Just to make things clear, it ain’t anything that can be considered what we usually know as Krautrock (might be redundant for connaisseurs of this particular sub-genre to mention that not everything „made in Germany“ during early 70‘s can be classified as such). Instead what we have here can be easily described as quite standard proto-prog that is a not so bad mix of westcoast/psychedelic blues-tinged rock’n‘roll with some nice trippy flute added-up. Just imagine a combination of Edgar Broughton, early Tull with Paint it black/Sympathy for the devil-era Stones. Though this release might be a bit disappointing for the advanced prog listener and in particular for the specialised Kraut-fan it‘s nonetheless a quite enjoyable one for a couple of spins. There isn’t any free-form experimentation to be found on here but some songs have quite appealing extended jammin‘ parts with track lengths crossing the 6-minute mark. At least for me the most attractive features were the really great flute play and the occasional mouth-organ as well some sax in the jazzy „Last song“. Best songs are „Dream Machine“, „Then I Am“ and „Hawaiian Jack“, most redundant ones the three added bonus tracks. Production quality is very good considering the non-professional recording conditions. Schittenhelm, who’s in his eighties meanwhile by the way and still doing some experimental avant-garde music did really a great job here.

Libra - 1975 - Musica e Parole

Musica e Parole

01. Nato Oggi : a) il tempo e un buon amico (6:16)
02. Nato Oggi : b) forse e furia (9:54)
03. Beyond the Fence (6:32)
04. Musica & Parole (4:44)
05. Pegno d'Amore (8:02)
06. Inquinamento (13:43)

- Inquina Sandro Centofanti / keyboards
- Nicola Di Staso / guitars
- Federico D'Andrea / guitar, voice
- David Walter / drums
- Dino Cappa / bass

Libra is another unusual story in a genre filled with such stories. Most bizarre is that they must be the only Italian Prog group to have had a 10-album deal with American label Motown Records. They never did complete that contract and from a prog perspective it is this debut that would be most important. Formed in Rome in 1973 with musicians from Logan Dwight, Reale Accademia, and Buon Vecchio Charlie they had some line-up shuffles before recording this album in the autumn of 1974 in Milan. A very busy 1975 followed. Early in the year the debut album was released followed by a spring tour with Banco. The band rehearsed all summer and toured America in Oct-Dec with the likes of Frank Zappa, Tubes, Chicago and Steppenwolf. They went back to Italy in December and that line-up crumbled but a second and more commercial album would follow in 1976. That album didn't do much and a third soundtrack album was released before the band completely ceased. Libra's aspirations of success as a band never were fully realized but guitarist Nicola Di Staso remembers those days fondly, telling Augusto Croce "I have many fond memories of that time, because it was so authentic!! We wanted to conquer the world, at least the musical one, there was so much positive energy in the air, and it seemed to us in Libra that we had touched the sky with a finger, being able to play in the USA!"

You can hear Libra often draw upon the collective experience of the Italian progressive bands of the early '70s but by late '74 they perhaps realized things were going in a more commercial direction. Rather than making one of those crazy avant-garde albums that made the scene great in '72 and '73 Libra is taking only a part of that sound and rolling it into a rock album approach. You can hear the influence of American and British mid '70s rock here along with some lesser strains of space rock and folk in places. One of the bands I hear visited subtly on the Libra album are The Rolling Stones. While no one sings quite like Sir Mick, you can hear it in the pop sensibilities, in the background female vocals (a la Gimme Shelter) and in the playing. There is a live track on this album that has such a bar room feel that I'd swear I'm listening to The Ronnie Wood Band. Some moments toy with symphonic glories but more often than not it will veer towards fusion or a spacey rock jam. These guys play very well and the fusion flavored sections remind me of the Journey debut I just heard, where Neal Schon is wailing over a driving rhythm section and keys. Libra is to my taste a tale of two sides: Side one is of patchy quality that I would rate about 2-3 stars, but side two is a 4 star beauty. The 16-minute two-part opener "Nato Oggi" will add brisk acoustic guitars and melodic harmonies in and around these jams creating a decent, if somewhat unfocused mini epic. It is both the success and downfall of Libra's debut; there are nice moments and good variety of sound, but it sometimes feels a bit unfocused, a bit all over the place. The next track is the "live" (some claim it is but audience applause overdubbed) funky jam that brings a Stones side project or Dr. John piano bar jam to mind. The second side of the album changes gears again starting with the short title track, a sentimental, soulful Italian pop-song that tacks on the female backing vocals to an LA session jam ending-it could have been a Steely Dan outtake from "Can't Buy A Thrill." I love Dino Cappa's animated, funky bass popping through here and there--like some Little Feat or Doobie Brother's jam. The last two long tracks total almost 22 minutes and changes back to a hybrid slurry of funky fusion and occasional space-rock dalliance. There are some really worthwhile moments here with "Pegno D'Amore" really cookin' while the closer "Inquinamento" features spacey textures, strange bubbling sounds, peaceful mellotrons backing laid back guitar leads that ebb and flow in intensity. I'm almost reminded of the French spacers Carpe Diem on this track and that is surely a good thing. Love this one. It builds beautifully but with restraint and some uplifting melodies as a bonus. The second half of the track has great layered instrumentals where each member can be clearly heard and the delicacies of what they're playing superb.

If these thoughts seemed to lack coherence I jokingly blame it on Libra who keep you off balance with this hard-to-label, playful garden of '70s sounds. It really does have the "positive energy" Di Staso speaks of above. My initial reaction to the album was luke-warm at best but of course Libra has won me over and I end up enjoying this more with each play. This album will not satisfy those looking for classically structured keyboard symphonic prog but it may very much please fans of '70s style jazzy rock altered with a playful variety of influences and love for spirited jamming. Our own site Bio describes them as a "unique, personal take on jazz rock, funky grooves, classical instrumental, psychedelic-prog rock and electronic weirdness." The album is such that I think every person who hears it may have a slightly different take on its overall personality, which when you think about it not such a bad thing. I will understand those who find it a mess as much as those who find it a treasure. A definite "decide for yourself" piece of work but one that very much deserves to be rescued from oblivion and heard by prog fans. The 2003 reissue is a high-quality gatefold mini with thick cardboard and glossy finish, the inside reproducing the album's photos and lyrics. There is however no secondary CD booklet or bio. Highlights: Side 2 without question-I don't see how the last two long tracks would fail to please any progger.

I only have this album, if any of our visitors has the other two albums... please share a copy with us!

Lazarus - 1973 - A Fool's Paradise

A Fool's Paradise

01. Ladyfriends II
02. Ladyfriends I
03. When Will The Home Of Me Begin
04. A Fool's Paradise
05. Baby, Baby
06. Thoughts Of You
07. Take Me High
08. Oklahoma Boy
09. This Is A Song
10. Poets And Lovers

Bill Hughes: Vocals, Guitar, Piano on 4, Harp on 1, 6
Carl Keesee: Vocals, Bass
Gary Dye: Vocals, Piano, Organ

Peter Yarrow: Producer, Musical Director
Phil Ramone: Producer, Engineer

Nick Jameson: Drums on 1, 2, 8, Percussion on 1, 2, 5, 8
Chris Dedrick (ex-Free Desighn): Orchestration

This is the second and last album by the folk-rock group Lazarus, and it dates from around 1972 or so. It's terrific acoustic music with beautiful vocal harmonies and wonderful songwriting. My personal favorites are "When Will the Home of Me Begin" and "Thoughts of You" but all the songs on here are good. I also enjoy "Oklahoma Boy" which is a good-natured parody of country crying-in-your beer songs, while being one itself. I think their first album, the self-titled "Lazarus" (also available for download on Amazon), is a little better but both are on my short list of desert island albums. If you like acoustic folk-rock with tight harmonies and intelligent, sensitive songwriting, you should definitely give it a listen.

Lazarus - 1971 - Lazarus


01. Refugee       
02. Whatever Happened   
03. Looking Through    
04. Listening House     
05. Circuit Rider   
06. Warmth Of Your Eyes    
07. Blessed
08. Eastward
09. Memory Of A Stranger
10. Doncha Cry  
11. Rivers    

 Carl Keesee - Vocals, Bass
 Bill Hughes - Vocals, Guitar, Violin
 Gary Dye - Vocals, Piano, Organ

Producer – Peter Yarrow, Phil Ramone


    Liner notes by Peter Yarrow:

    It was like living in a movie.  We were twenty minutes out of Abilene, Texas at the end of a dirt road in a small farm house.  We sat on the floor around a single candle that lit all our faces.  There was a quality in the room that reminded me of the those early morning hours after the Newport Folk Festival concerts.  Unable to sleep, we would trade songs and young dreams all night long.  The love was so thick in the air you could let it fall on your like a comforting blanket.  I asked softly (when, anymore, does one speak softly?) "Will you play the tape?"  And then the room was filled with the reason we had come together.

    A thousand talented kids, their eyes telling me my own story, had spoken to me after concerts, asking me to hear their tunes or come have some food.  Why had I not simply explained my fatigue to Bill, Gary, and Carl and offered them an address to send the tape?

    When I heard their music it was all clear, I knew the role I was to play in this movie.  ANd I smiled that particular smile - their songs just made me feel so good.

    When they sang of Jesus, I really didn't know where to put it in my brain, so I put it in my heart and accepted their path for them - because they were more loving and more giving for it.  When they sang simply about people being with people, they told me the story of their own search for some light.

    The rest of the story is more like weeding the garden than watching drifting clouds.  Lazarus came to New York and then came to Woodstock.  They lived in my magical cabin which was too crowded and cold for anyone sane.  They got further apart, then closer together - worked and doubted the dream - worked and reaffirmed it once again.  Then they met Phil Ramone and he smiled - so then we were five.  And on and on, and now it's two years later - and now it's your turn to smile. 
    (August, 1971)

In a rare occurrence of inattention to LP etiquette,  I accidentally played the second side of this LP before the first, on the very first time I listened to it.  As it happens, most of the heavy Christian songs seem to be on side two, and even though they aren't particularly "preachy,"  I still wasn't initially charmed by the whole hippie "Jesus people" vibe.  Some time passed before I even played the first side.  However, if a person had only listened to the first side of the record they would likewise only have an inkling of the groups spirituality, which almost makes me think it was a deliberate production decision to sequence the record this way so as not to alienate potential listeners in the freewheeling early 70s.   Like Peter Yarrow says in his liner notes, he also didn't know what to make of the whole Jesus thing (given that he is Jewish, it must have been special sort of awkwardness), but the songs are so well-done and obviously sincere that they won him over.  I wish I had played that powerful Side A from the very start and been won over sooner.  When you get down to it a lot of the awkward lyrical moments are no more or less awkward than many another musical offering from 1971 - it's hard not to cringe at any song that opens with a straight-faced "I am a lonesome cowboy," for example.  Their spiritual longings mostly take form in narrative and metaphor rather than exegetical sermonizing:  "Looking Through" is written as a letter from one friend to another, "Listening House" seems like a metaphor for an ecumenical vision of The Church.  "Memory Of A Stranger" sounds like it could be about a recovering alcoholic or drug addict but could also just be about "sin" (not much different from the discourse of Al-Anon or Narc-Anon anyway).  The record oozes with a melancholic hopefulness that probably resonated well with the kind of burnout a lot of people were going through in the early 70s.  In fact Lazarus reminds me of a group you might here playing in Golden Gate Park or outside of a Dead show, trying to get the teenager runaways to accept J.C. as their personal savior.

Stylistically these guys had a heavy dose of the Graham Nash end of CSN, with perhaps a little Byrdsiness thrown in for good measure, and similarities to other early 70s harmony-centric acoustic groups like America or Bread would not be amiss either.  Phil Ramone, who recorded a lot of stuff I absolutely hate, sure knew how to engineer and got these guys down in pristine audio.  The production is very tasteful too, the arrangements limited mostly to acoustic guitar, piano, and electric bass.  Two tracks have violin/fiddle solos, and there are some nice organ chords hanging in the background keep things interesting, as well as what might be an accordion, harmonium, or other bellows-driven instrument (on "Circuit Rider").  Only one song has some drums (uncredited), the magisterial coda to "Looking Through."

These guys made one more record.  I've never heard it.  I read somewhere that it was more of a commercial soft-rock/folk album.  Someday maybe I will track it down but for now I've been happy with this mysterious bit of Jesus People hippie folk.  The record may not blow your mind, but it grew in my esteem over time from just an average folk or folk-pop 70s album to something more unique and, well, inspired.

Laser Pace - 1974 - Granfalloon

Laser Pace 

01. Closet Casualty - 4:03
02. Avatar - 5:31
03. (Whoever) You Are (You) - 3:58
04. Sky Fell - 4:39
05. Endless - 3:13
06. Oh Yeah? - 4:47
07. Redemption - 5:07
08. Scatter - 8:05

Maureen O'Connor: Vocals, Guitars, Synthesizer, Mellotron, Piano
Doug Decker: Bass, Buchla Synthesizer, Mellotron
John "Chris" Christensen: Vocals, Drums, Percussion
Larry Parsons: Fender Rhodes, Piano, Organ, Synthesizer
Jim Divisek: Buchla Series 100 Synthesizer with 200 Osc. and Keys
Carl Van Young: Clavinet
Larry Wolf: Soprano Sax
Weldon: Drums
George Belle: Percussion

The challenge sometimes with old music like Laser Pace's 'Granfalloon' is that it's difficult for anyone born after about 1972 or so (coincidentally around the time this album was released) to really appreciate how novel and groundbreaking this sort of stuff was back then. I say 1972 or so because anyone who grew up in the eighties or later probably takes things like synthesizers, laser sounds and auto-tuned voices pretty much for granted. But for those of us who came of age at a time when Frankie Valli, Barbra Streisand, punk, hair bands and disco were all on the charts at the same time this was a period of head- spinning change. And like so many other musical gems, Laser Pace came and went with nary a notice despite their novel and innovative approach to synthesized, soulful and funky jazz-rock. Thankfully someone managed to dredge this album up and reissue it on CD just a few years ago so we can appreciate it now.

There's not much information about this band beyond what's in the liner notes and that doesn't tell much of a story. The group wasn't around long, just three of four years, and only released this album. Most of them never did anything else to speak of in the music industry with the exception of percussionist George Belle who carved out a modest career as a session musician for various funk, disco and jazz acts. And truth be told this is a rather uneven album with tracks like "Whoever You Are You" crawling along at a snail's pace despite some pretty cool synth and piano; and the closing "Redemption" never quite getting past the pre-launch stage, particularly the rhythm which shifts around a bit but with no discernable direction.

But the extensive use of the still-novel (at the time) Buchla Music-Box synthesizers and Fender Rhodes piano by no less than four band members was pretty unique at the time, and despite the occasional slip into self-indulgent noodling the effect of mixing these (at the time) modern sounds with the soulful and ranging vocals of lead singer Maureen O'Connor made for some interesting moments. O'Conner is also credited with playing synthesizers and as the band's only guitarist, although the only picture I've ever seen of her playing shows her holding an electric bass and it's hard to imagine she cranked out all the guitar tracks on this album given the complexity of some of the riffs and her apparent lack of extensive experience or training. I also suspect some of the bits that sound like guitar may actually be a clavinet since there is one listed as being played by Carl Van Young in the album credits. Who knows though; if she actually played everything attributed to her in the credits then it truly is a shame she didn't go on to more of a substantive music career.

"Closet Casualty" pretty much sets the tone for the entire album with O'Connell belting out rich vocals amid seemingly random synth progressions and some light percussive tinkling. Things don't vary a lot after that except that the percussion becomes more pronounced as the album wears on, there are snippets of male vocals added at times ("Avatar" and as sort of choral backing on "Whoever You Are You"), and there is some attempt at working in a bit of saxophone from time to time.

The high point of the record comes midway through in the form of a heavily synthesized and percussive instrumental track titled "Sky Fell" that comes off as a muddy mix of free-form jazz, soul and some of David Bowie's backing musicians during his spikey-hair days. The dissonant piano and Rhodes parts that come in the middle are accented by synth and oscillation sounds that are rather disciplined and restrained compared to most of the rest of the album, and in the end this is a very solid track that would have also been a head-trip to any fellow travelers who may have listened to it back then. Maybe even a decent candidate for a good old-fashioned seventies 'laser light show' soundtrack.

"Endless" comes back down to Earth a bit more and reminds me just a bit of the San Francisco seventies group Lamb who also had a throaty female vocalist and a sound that blended soul and jazz with more modern rock sensibilities to yield something that was impossible to classify. "Oh Yeah" goes back the other direction with loads of wobbly oscillating synth before the album peters out on the vocal/bass-heavy "Redemption".

I kind of wish these guys had stuck around long enough to put out at least one more record as I have to wonder what direction they would have taken after this. The closest I can come to a comparison most people might know would be either the Belgian band Esperanto Rock Orchestra (though they didn't use synthesizers) or maybe the early and less- commercial work of the German group Silver Convention ("Fly, Robin Fly"). Neither comes very close, and the better reference band Lamb is pretty much just as obscure so I guess anyone who might be interested will just have to fork out a few bucks and check these guys out directly. A solid three stars and possibly four for anyone who really digs early synth music.

Lang'syne - 1976 - Lang'syne


01. Medina 8:29
02. Morning 3:35
03. Changing 6:43
04. Cynghanedd 7:42
05. A Very Sarcastic Song 6:51
06. Carnivore 4:01
07. Mignon 1:54
08. Lady Mary (bonus) 3:48
09. Sir Nogbert's Galliard (bonus) 1:26
10. Nocturne For E (bonus) 2:08
11. Flying (bonus) 2:10
12. Arcadia (bonus) 3:00
13. Heckinghausen (bonus) 2:42
14. Tatzelwurm (bonus) 3:40
15. Raps-o-die (bonus) 2:32
16. Dance The Night Away (bonus) 1:40
17. Rainforest Song (bonus) 3:10
18. Dance With The Knight (bonus) 1:16
19. Langerfeld (bonus) 2:50
20. Kinderseele (bonus) 2:38
21. Im Nebel (bonus) 2:50
22. Fiumicino (bonus) 3:56

- Edbert Froese / guitar, keyboards, vocals, sitar, psalter
- Matthias Mertler / guitar, vocals, percussion, glockenspiel
- Ulrich Nahle / flute, guitar, vocals, percussion

Langsyne is a German trio which released one album in its whole career. Self titled, their first only effort was recorded in 1976. The music is a consistent mixture between folk rock and eastern influences with lot of acoustic guitar, sitar elements. The presence of the electric organ provides to the relative "pastoral" and "ethnic" mood a spacey felt. Advanced instrumental improvisations & interludes are combined with a couple of structured songs with English lyrics. This experimental, peaceful folk rock can sometimes resonates with early kraut folk bands as Witthuser & Westrupp, Hoelderlin, and Broselmaschine. This is in most part an acoustic, contemplative journey deliberately orientated to additional "world" instruments, musical arrangements and imaginary inspired by the eastern, India "raga"universe.

The German folk trio LANGSYNE from Wuppertal area never got support from record companies during their eight years of activity, but their self-budgeted sole album has become a valuable collector's item and has seen numerous re-releases on vinyl and CD. I was happy to receive the Garden of Delights edition with 15 (!) bonus tracks and an exhausting article. Not that I'd ever care to read all details about the various re-releases. I'm surprisingly only the third reviewer.

I couldn't invent a better name than the Scottish word for "long since" for this group, who doesn't sound German at all. Indo-Prog / Raga-Rock is a bit misleading category, as this is primarily Medieval / Renaissance -inspired folk. GRYPHON is mentioned as the trio's mutual idol, but the music comes closer to AMAZING BLONDEL, slightly seasoned with INCREDIBLE STRING BAND's Indo-flavoured psychedelia. Ethnic instruments such as psalter, sitar or koto are used to a small degree. Multiple acoustic guitars form the spine, even flute, organ and percussion are often put aside.

Perhaps the main album's long tracks are the clearest highlights in their melancholic and nearly mystic atmosphere. I prefer the earthly, unspectacular vocals and vocal harmonies over the oversweetness of Blondel. One guy occasionally resembles distantly Neil Young. Well, thankfully only a little.

Also the luxurious bonuses have a very good sound quality. Strangely the text doesn't seem to tell anything about them. They're much shorter in average: they take the same 39½-minute space as the seven album tracks. They are less atavistic, more contemporary sounding songs and instrumentals. Instead of tasting like inferior bonus material as usual, they practically from a whole decent folk album of their own. A very worthy release to all friends of acoustic folk-rock and especially of the aforementioned British bands.

Lady June - 1974 - Lady June's Linguistic Leprosy

Lady June
Lady June's Linguistic Leprosy

01. Some Day Silly Twenty Three 2:26
02. Reflections 1:10
03. Am I 2:34
04. Everythingsnothing 4:26
05. Tunion 4:17
06. The Tourist 2:23
07. Bars 2:47
08. The Letter 4:04
09. Mangel / Wurzel 0:58
10. To Whom It May Concern 2:52
11. Optimism 1:34
12. Touch-Downer 2:00

Lady June {Vocals}
Kevin Ayers {Guitars, Bass, Bowed Bass Synthesizer, Vocals, Harmonium Guitar, Piano, Ukelele}
Kim Solomon {Piano }
Eno {Music, Vocals, Electronic Guitar, Imminent Linearment}
Luna Lollipops
Pip Pyle {Drums}
Martha {Vocals}
David Vorhaus {Kaliedophon, Mix}
Jakob Klasse {Piano}

Born to Russian and Scottish parents, June Campbell Cramer was raised in Plymouth and received a strict education. In the late fifties, she studied at art college, and from the early sixties spent most of her time living in Spain, painting and working as a fashion model. She lived in various other places for a while, including Italy, Greece and the Balearic Islands. It was while living near Palma in Mallorca that her path crossed with the Canterbury school : Daevid Allen, Gilli Smyth and Kevin Ayers were occasionally residing on the island. It was through June that Allen and Ayers met Wes Brunson, the American millionaire who sponsored Soft Machine in their early days.

At that point, Lady June was using the pseudonym June 'Onion' for her painting activities, 'signing' each work with a small suspended onion bulb. From 1967, her involvement in painting, music and poetry intensified, and her artworks received numerous exhibitions. In 1970, June made a conscious decision that it was time for her to combine the music, visuals and words. This multi-media approach was subsequently developed in her performances, literature and recordings. Her public appearances became more frequent. She gave a talk and played tapes to polytechnic students in London and had several gigs in Britain during 1971, including a brief residency at the Electric Cinema in London. By now she had adopted the name Lady June.

Further public appearances were made by Lady June during 1972, including a performance at the badly organised International Carnival of Experimental Sound at London's Roundhouse, with Steve Hillage, Tim Blake, David Bedford and Lol Coxhill, an appearance at the Edinburgh festival, and the 'Fun and Games' gig in London during November with Geoff Leigh, Steve Hillage, Didier Malherbe and Gerry Fields. In addition, she performed in London with Henry Cow and a slide show, and during June played a gig with them at Amsterdam's Paradiso.

In the next year, she was visible at a variety of venues in England, solo as well as with Ron Geesin and Ivor Cutler. She was also involved in the BBC Radio 4 series "If It's Wednesday It Must Be...", featuring oddbods Kenny Everett and Viv Stanshall. June also prepared a series of tapes at the Radiophone Workshop for the BBC Radio 3 third programme. Also in 1973, she was close to a most dramatic incident, as it was in her Maida Vale flat, at her and Gilli Smyth's birthday party, on June 1st, that Robert Wyatt fell out of a window and broke his back.

During 1974, Lady June gave her 'Uppers and Downers' show at the Cosmos in Amsterdam. The title was to be used for the booklet of poetry published by Virgin that appeared the following year. Also, there was a solo appearance at Amsterdam's Melkweg, supported by Hatfield and the North with whom she also made many private recordings. Work on her album progressed during the year; the finalised session was released by Virgin on the budget-priced Caroline label in early 1975 with the title Lady June's Linguistic Leprosy. Recorded at cost of £400 according to one review, it features Brian Eno (who was also resident in the Maida Vale area of London), Kevin Ayers (who wrote much of the music) and Pip Pyle. It is an adventurous and intriguing kaleidoscope of music and words.

Early the following year, June performed with Lol Coxhill and David Vorhaus amongst others, at the Puck Fair, with ex-Radar Favourite Gerry Fitzgerald (once a lodger in Lady June's flat), and in Wakefield with Fitzgerald and Coxhill. In the Summer she appeared on the same bill as Heathcote Williams and Mike Horowitz (for some years June has been a member of the Poetry Society in London), at the Unity Theatre with Fitzgerald and bass guitarist Colin McClure. She appeared too at the Edinburgh Festival, where she also did some compering. In December, Lady June's Linguistic Leprosy gave three performances of 'Away of Living' at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London.

In 1976, Lady June participated in a women's festival in Amsterdam incorporating slides, films and tapes, and with films at a gig for the Women's Free Arts Alliance (for whom she gave several readings), at another gig in Wakefield and did a couple of short sets in London. The following May, she made appearances in front of an audience of 8000 at the Gong reunion concert in Paris, at the Winchester Hat Fair, using slides and films; and at Battersea Arts Centre for a women's festival where she gave a short lecture on the transition from spoken word to music and song (playing an extract from the music of Gilli Smyth and Daevid Allen to illustre this). June also appeared on a BBC World Overseas programme that was broadcast to Spanish and Latin American countries. As well as being interviewed she played some tracks from her album and sang a couple of unaccompanied songs.

After this she returned to Spain for several years, making occasional live appearances in Deya, such as gigs in the Municipal Theme Park with Jeremy Hart and Hamish, and at a French restaurant in a recording made available on cassette and also featuring Daevid Allen, Gilli Smyth and Ronnie Watham (who can be heard elsewhere on Smyth's Fairy Tales). In Deya, June organised jumble sales, slide shows, art exhibitions and did some photo-journalism for a Mallorcan newspaper. In 1981, she was given an award at an amateur film festival.

Lady June was to return to London on May 16th, 1982 to organise 'An Odd Acts Event' at the Centro Iberico in London. This event featured a hilarious story by Lol Coxhill accompanied by Gerry Fitzgerald on guitar; some solo poems by Daevid Allen; and Gilli Smyth's performance accompanied by extracts from Harry Williamson's Tarka, as well as Lady June's own performance. Some of the evening's music and words was made available on a cassette released in 1983. Later that year, June published a book and a booklet (Caves), and designed a calendar.

Subsequently, her activities have mainly been in Mallorca. She printed another calendar, exhibited in several events, organised further jumble sales and acted in the video movie Paradise Is In The Mind, directed by Del Negro, for which she wrote the title song. She also contributed to an exhibition of Fifty Years of Deyan Art which was shown on Spanish TV. In 1984 she had two tracks included on a French underground cassette called Insane Music (Illusion Productions) and another two tracks on a French various artists release entitled History Of Jazz.

During 1985 she exhibited in an Amnesty International Benefit show in Palma, and performed on the closing night with guitarist Gerry Hart. That year June mad various broadcasts on FM Radio Mallorca, produced another calendar and organised a poetry/music/song event on a full moon night in Deya, which featured herself, Joan Biblioni and a wandering Irish minstrel. A recording of this was made available on cassette. She also gave a sketch in August at Robert Graves' Amphitheatre.

Activities over the following two years included involvement in the organisation of an Arts Festival in Spain in 1987, where she also exhibited, which was filmed for Spanish TV, and the production of a calendar for 1988. Around this time, she also had an exhibition entitled 'Something Old - Something New' in London. During June 1989, Lady June exhibited 42 of her paintings at the Restaurante Suizo in Deya, opening the event with tapes, poetry and accompaniment by a guitarist. In 1990, she had a track called "Growing Up" on a French cassette called Ode To Samantha Fox.

In the two years leading to her sudden death, June had been working on her most ambitious project to date. With Mark Hewins as composer and musical director, this project, Rebela, became the meeting point for many exponents of the Canterbury scene. Mark Hewins is still hoping to finish the project; needless to say, it is greatly anticipated.


 "LADY" JUNE'S title was purely honorary, a mutation of the function for which for a time she was best known in London: landlady to many of the capital's more creative musicians.

In this role it was sometimes overlooked that she was one of the city's great catalysts, albeit at an underground hippie level; an inveterate thrower of parties, she spent her time in the late 1960s and early 1970s at Vale Court in Maida Vale inadvertently running what the musician Daevid Allen described as "London's premier smoking salon". "She was ferocious in the mornings until the first joint arrived: she'd hover over you with a wet cloth demanding that you clean the stove." At a birthday party that June threw there for her closest friend, Allen's wife Gilli Smyth, Robert Wyatt fell from a window, breaking his back.

It was when she finally moved permanently to the artists' community of Deya in Majorca, in 1975, that June fully came into herself: as much of an artist as any of her London tenants had been, a great British eccentric and cosmic prankster on a par with Lol Coxhill and Viv Stanshall. The last five years saw a period of almost unparalleled productivity that will climax in an exhibition at the La Residencia hotel in Deya that opens tomorrow.

"I think she found what she was looking for," said the musician Kevin Ayers, another of her tenants, who wrote the music for and produced her 1974 album Linguistic Leprosy. "She had been involved in fashion and didn't really like it. She had a longing to be an artist - at whatever cost - and discovered that in Deya."

Lady June was born June Campbell-Cramer in Doncaster in 1931. Her father, who had made money in fashion retailing, took her to Majorca as a teenager and she fell in love with the island. After working as a photographic model in London during the 1950s, June moved to Palma, continuing the same career.

One day she met Daevid Allen and the troupe of artists and musicians who were to become the Absurd jazz-rock group Gong. "We all felt we'd known her from before we met," remembered Allen. A close friend of his was a Frenchman called Michel Albert, the radical son of a right-wing general, "a gorgeous-looking guy, living in Deya, who spectacularly was trying to paint his acid trips. He became one of the loves of her life."

Moving to Deya, June also started painting, putting on the first of a series of exhibitions always characterised by surreal humour, which also emerged in her poetry. Deya was ruled over by the poet Robert Graves. "To live in Deya you had to have some sort of satisfactory relationship with him," remembered Allen. "Robert was very tolerant of June, and she hung out with him."

"Everyone got on well with the Graves family," recalled Ayers. "Lady June was part of the poetry scene at the theatre club. She liked being in a place where you could go to the beach and flirt. And be around people who were painting or writing."

Lady June always had a tendency towards hedonistic consumption of alcohol and soft drugs. Lynne Franks, who has a home in Deya, recalls June remonstrating with her daughter for smoking cigarettes. "Give them up. Take up joints - that's what I did," she told her in all seriousness. Her fondness for excess was often a way of overcoming a chronic shyness. "She smoked and drank a bit too much," said Pete Brown, the musician who wrote the lyrics for many songs by Cream. "She had a minor stroke a couple of years ago. She would work hard, get a bit wired, and that combined with smoking and drinking was not too good. But her paintings continued to be terrific and so funny. And she was always such a great spirit."

Three years ago she was part of a spectacular Deya poetry evening with Roger McGough and Brian Patten. But Lady June's most achieved performance was herself: she succeeded in turning her existence into living art, bristling with humour. Last year's Hit and Myth record was an emotive work, bolstered by her habitual wackiness. In recent months she had been completing Rebela, an autobiographical record with contributions from much of the Gong camp, as well as Lol Coxhill, Pete Brown and Galen Ayers.

Tomorrow's opening at La Residencia in Deya will go ahead; the sculptures and paintings will not be complemented, of course, by her performance art and poetry. Somehow you have the feeling Lady June would not be too worried about that. "This event is so well organised," she told Frances Graves last week, shortly before her fatal heart attack, "that it doesn't matter if I drop dead."

June Campbell-Cramer (Lady June), artist and musician: born Doncaster, Yorkshire 3 June 1931; died Deya, Majorca 7 June 1999.

Ken Little - 1973 - Solo

Ken Little 

01. Trusting Fool 07:13
02. China Doll 03:24
03. You Said 03:29
04. An Oyster 03:38
05. Take Life Easy 02:53
06. Suntoad 04:43
07. Don't Tell Me 04:42
08. Snive Circus Looks 03:21
09. Mohair Shapiro 04:12
10. My Name 03:05

Danny Martin - Bass
Detroit Junior - Piano
John Camelot, Oak Shultz - Keyboards
Don "Sugarcane" Harris - Violin, Vocals
Gordon Johnson, Rick Macowski, Joe Parente - Drums
Frank Mustari, Hubert Sumlin, Norman Wagner - Guitar
Ron Ramelli - Harmonica, Keyboards, Vocals
Kenneth Little - Vocals

Produced by Harvey Mandel

One of those albums that could be used to illustrate the definition of the word "patchy" in a dictionnary. If anything, the heavy, organ-led songs ("Trusting Fool" and "China doll" especially) have the same kind of sound and attitude as these early 70's German heavy prog bands that were typified by the Bacillus rooster - think of the Frame LP for instance : keyboard-heavy, driving, and often creative in the songwriting department.
Unfortunately, you also have to wade through many a bland, bluesy, singwriter-songwriter-type, harmonica-peppered tune in order to get to the good stuff.

John Lees - 1977 - A Major Fancy

John Lees 
A Major Fancy

101. Untitled No. 1 - Heritage
102. Child of the Universe
103. Kes (A Major Fancy)
104. Untitled No. 2
105. Sweet Faced Jane
106. Witburg Night
107. Long Ships
108. Untitled No. 3

201. Untitled No. 8
202. Child of the Universe (First Version)
203. Witburg Night (First Mix)
204. Untitled No. 2 (First Version)
205. Untitled No. 1 - Heritage (Alternate Mix)
206. Best of My Love
207. You Can't Get It
208. Please Be With Me
209. Child of the Universe

- John Lees / vocals, guitars
- Wally Waller / bass, melotron, moog, timbals, harmony vocals
- Skip Allen / drums, percussion
- Gordon Edwards / piano
- Graham Preskett / violin, choir and strings arrangement
- Eric Stewart / acoustic guitar (3)
- Kevin Godley / Ashtray, beer bottle and fire extinguisher (4)
- Rod Argent / organ (1)
- Rex Morrison / Tenor saxophone (5)

Guest musicians on CD bonus tracks:
- John Lees / vocals, guitar
- Les Holroyd / bass
- B. J. Cole / slide guitar
- Mike Moran / piano

John Lees is best known as the guitarist, vocalist, and song writer with Barclay James Harvest. While one of the two current line ups of that band now bears his name, he has only ever released one solo album, "A major fancy".

The album was recorded in 1972, when the band were in the process of moving from Harvest records, who had released their first four albums, to Polydor records. The move to Polydor was a positive one, which gave the band a new lease of life.

During their time on Harvest, Lees had accumulated a number of songs which for one reason or another were not considered right for BJH. He therefore recorded "A major fancy" without the other BJH members being involved in any way. The band's new record label were uncomfortable with the idea of Lees releasing a solo album when BJH's first album for them ("Everyone is everybody else") was about to hit the streets. "A major fancy" was therefore shelved, finally being released in 1977 on the Harvest Heritage label, usually used for re-issues of older albums at a budget price.

The album includes contributions from 10CC's Kevin Godley and Eric Stewart, along with Rod Argent of the Zombies and Argent. It was produced by Wally Waller of the Pretty Things, who also contributes bass, mellotron, moog and harmony vocals.

This is however very much Lee's project. The sound is noticeably different to that of BJH although some of the songs could easily have been recorded by that band, indeed "Child of the universe" was used on "Everyone is everybody else". While the melody of that song is instantly recognisable here, and the vocals are still the distinctive voice of Lees, this version is quite different. The song is sympathetically orchestrated with an extended choral ending rendering it far less acidic than the BJH version.

Three of the pieces are "Untitled", perhaps implying they are demos or works in progress. In fact they are most definitely finished products. "Untitled number 1- heritage" (is that not a title?) opens the album with some fine piano by Gordon Edwards leading to the distinctive tones of Lees' guitar. The vocal sections are functional but the track features a wonderful organ solo by Rod Argent. "Untitled no 3", which closes the album, is a pleasant light piece slightly reminiscent of BJH's "One night". The instrumental credits indicate that it is the sole track to feature melotron, but its presence is difficult, if not impossible, to detect.

"Sweet faced Jane" is a country/folk tinged song, with strong hints of "Poor boy blues" which featured on "Everyone is everybody else". "Whitburg night", with its soft, slightly distorted vocals and typical Lees guitar would have sounded at home on BJH's early albums, perhaps in place of the similar "Harry's song".

There are weaker moments on the album. "Untitled no 2" is a light, throwaway number with semi-whispered vocals and a funky beat. "Long ships" is a rather ordinary mid- paced number, with an unexciting melody but interesting lyrics. The track segues into a brief, but far more exciting guitar run entitled "Link piece".

In all, an album which will be of substantial interest to BJH fans. While by no means a long lost BJH album, Lees distinctive vocals and guitars make for a fine, if occasionally uneven, album.

The CD version includes three extra tracks. Two of these are cover versions of songs by the Eagles and Eric Clapton which were released as a now collectable single.

Ian Lloyd & Stories - 1973 - Traveling Underground

Ian Lloyd & Stories 
Traveling Underground

01. Bridges 05:11
02. Soft Rain 04:33
03. Hard When You're So Far Away 04:28
04. If It Feels Good, Do It 02:50
05. Mammy Blue 03:43
06. Stories Untold 04:04
07. I Can't Understand It 03:58
08. Earthbound / Free Fall 08:16
09. Traveling Underground 04:31

Ian Lloyd — Vocals
Steve Love — Guitar
Kenneth Bichel — Keyboards, Art Synthesizers, Mellotron
Brian Madey — Drums, Percussion
Kenny Aaronson - Bass Guitar

I discovered this item in a bargain bin and snatched it up, thinking there might be a few songs worth the $1.00. Boy, is there!

This is definitely my favorite Stories album, since my tastes tend to lean more toward keyboard-oriented/progressive rock. The songs on this album are longer than on previous Stories' albums, and apart from two or three straight-ahead rock/pop type songs ("If It Feels Good, Do It," "I Can't Understand It," and the hit "Mammy Blue"...a "Brother Louie" sound-alike/rip-off if I ever heard one) the rest rely more heavily on keyboards. "Bridges" is a terrific opening track, with its piano and mellotron adding tinsel to the guitar power chords, and remains my favorite Stories' song of all time. "Soft Rain" adds acoustic guitar and Moog into the mix. The longest track "Earthbound/Freefall" (which wouldn't sound all that foreign had it appeared on a Yes album) and the album's closing and title track really push the "progressive" button. Indeed, there are lots of synths and harpsichords sprinkled throughout the album (especially on side two) along with some interesting guitar work overall. Additionally, Ian Lloyd's raspy voice sounds rather interesting atop a mellotron's wash and, in some ways, much better suited to a keyboard-oriented style than the rockier tracks.

I'd definitely say this belongs in the "undiscovered gems" category, especially for those who might be interested in what happens when a pop group (especially an underrated one) does some experimentation. A great effort and most definitely worth the mere $1.00 I shelled out for it!

Henry Lowther Band - 1970 - Child Song

Henry Lowther Band
Child Song

01. Introduction
02. Trav'lling Song    
03. Plaything (Child Song & Anima)
04. ¾ Skip (Trip-Up)
05. Between
06. Puppet Song    

Bass Guitar, Double Bass, Percussion – Daryl Runswick
Drums, Percussion – Mike Travis
Electric Piano, Percussion – Mike McNaught
Tenor Saxophone, Bass Clarinet, Percussion – Tony Roberts
Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Violin, Percussion, Composed By – Henry Lowther

Among the most active players and most-demanded on the British jazz scene (but also in the country’s classical circles) was trumpet and violin-player Henry Lowther, so much so, that he never really had the time to develop his own solo career, which is a damn shame when listening to the Child Song, his first and only in the XXth century. Recorded just after his leaving the Keith Hartley Band (and their Woodstock appearance), Lowther formed his own quintet, based on piano trio fronted by a double horn attack. No major names in the band even if Tony Robert’s might ring a bell and Runsworth superb bass-playing and McNaught’s Rhodes note-tickling should get wider recognition. Lowther himself surely would’ve merited a wider fame for his excellent works on Graham Collier’s early albums, Barb Thompson’s albums and prior to this album, the afore-mentioned KHB, Manfred Mann and John Mayall.

The present album was released in 1970 on the small Vocalion album with a relatively unremarkable artwork (but man, them yellow socks is uuugly!!!), but benefited from a MM writer’s (poor) liner notes and features all Lowther compositions. Opening on the aptly-titled Introduction (a 7-minutes one, mind you), it offers a relatively soft and jazzy start, just a warm-up for better things to come. Indeed Lowther’s violin opens up with Runsworth’s bowed bass and slow percussions and Travis’ haunting drumming in the folky-jazz 8-mins+ Travelling Song, which indeed does just that: let us travel though the notes and scales, especially so once the Rhodes gets under way. As for Plaything (the unofficial 9-mins title-track), it opens on multiple percussions, before Roberts’ bass clarinet and Lowther’s flugelhorn kick-starts the tune, which drifts lazily and meanders slowly though a sunny afternoon’s ballad

On the flipside, ¾ Skip takes on a Mwandishi slant that should ravish every fusionhead, despite keeping a 60’s-sounding plan right on through its 9-mins duration. The short violin-interlude aptly-titled Between is a un-warned foray in classical music, but segues immediately into the awesome closing 12-mins Puppet Song, with Robert’s spine-tingling sax solo and Lowther’s stupendous flugelhorn, both drawing much dramatics and McHaught’s Rhodes is laying a tapestry of notes lubricating and connecting the movements and players alike. What an awesome track, right in the era’s mould.

Well Child Song is certainly (and sadly so) an only-child, but it thankfully lasts a bit longer than usual - some almost 50-mins for 1970, it was still uncommon back then – for our pure enjoyment. Compositionally fairly close to Graham Collier’s realm, Lowther’s Child Song is a typical British-jazz scene album from the 65-75 era, often bordering on the JR/F realm. It is a real shame that this child didn’t have any younger siblings, though.

Emilio Locurcio - 1977 - L'eliogabalo

Emilio Locurcio

a) "Monologo D'Apertura":
1 Tutto Quello Che Mi è Stato Tolto Lo Rivoglio (1:50)

b) "La Veglia":
2. Autoritratto dentro Stanze Elettroniche (6:14)
3. A Scaldarci Al Vino Dolce Dei Chilometri (0:44)
4. Giovanna Labbromorto (4:22)

c) "Il Viaggio":
5. A Scaldarci Al Vino Dolce Dei Chilometri (0:52)
6. Dal Finestrino Del Treno (4:50)
7. La Ferrovia Celeste (3:42)

d) "La Visione":
8. La Primavera Feroce (2:10)
9. La Scelta Di Essere Veramente Liberi (3:22)
10. Eliogabalo Imperatore (5:18)
11. La Gente In Strada (2:52)

e) "L'Attesa":
12. La Morte Di Eliogabalo (3:30)
13. Avvertenze- Finalino Per Altri Inizi (1:36)

- Emilio Locurcio / voice on 1, 2, 4, 9 and 10 , lyricist (no 8, 11), composer (no 8, 11)
- Rosalino cellamare (Ron) / voice on 6, 7, 13
- Lucio Dalla / voice on 10, 13 and accordion
- Teresa De Sio / voice on 6, 12
- Claudio Lolli / voice on 3, 5 and 10
- I Crash / rhythmic parts
- I Pierrot Lunaire / acousic parts
- Gli Odeon / woodwind section
- Gerardo Abbate / violin
- Mario achilli / drums
- Ernesto Bassignano / chorus
- Faffo bianchi / sax
- Francesca Cadispoti / chorus
- Claudio Falco / guitars
- Gildo Falco / bass
- Gaio Cocchio / guitars, mellotron, chorus, composer (8, 11)
- Leonardo Gatta / voice, chorus
- Paolo Maestrelli / guitars
- Piero Cannizzaro / chorus, mixage
- Pino Sannicchio / keyboards
- Arturo Staltieri / piano, guitars, composer (8, 11)

Here's a bizarre and obscure little nugget for those who have explored the deep bench of the Italian Prog first tier already. Locurcio is an artist I know nothing about personally other than he operated from Sicily and made this wild "rock opera" with a bunch of people, most notably members of the excellent band Pierrot Lunaire. "L'Eliogabalo" sound almost clinically nuts at times, throwing many types of music into the pot. Veering from what we call Italian Symphonic they charge into different territories almost constantly, from acid rock to folk music, jazz fusion, show music, avant-garde, even a touch of psych/space here and there. The Italian side reminds me most notably of the stranger acts like Pierrot of course, and Opus Avantra, perhaps Pholas Dactylus at times. The strong sense of humor present remind me often of Supersister and Gong especially in the jazzier sections. But perhaps to give the best reference I have to mention Ange. While not having the pretty symphonic side of Ange down, this album does mirror the wild and crazy theatrical side of Ange's most challenging moments. If you can't handle Christian DeCamps in-your-face vocal style, you will NOT want to purchase this. If you love the thought of Ange merged with Pierrot Lunaire's Gudrun, read on.

The album has a sound all its own and comes with a very low SAF (spouse acceptance factor.) After an opening of whispers and piano, the nearly constant vocals kick in and you are essentially witnessing a musical. The vocals on this album are male, female, and group, they are up-front and nearly constant throughout the album, and they are in-your-face. Often delivered with the wordy fervor of an auctioneer on speed this is one Italian album where the experience is somewhat lessened by not understanding the language. Generally I don't agree with that sentiment but there are some albums where the lyrical content is important enough to eclipse or partially eclipse the musical content. This may be one. The music itself is not bad either, adventurous but not technically brilliant. There are some decent acid rock sections featuring sweet solos. There are folk sections where the beautiful acoustic guitars and milder vocals lend softer moments for an occasional chance to relax. Ditto with some brief combinations of violin and piano that were quite lovely. There are spoken word verses over organ with bass and flute jumping in for a nice melody. And then there are the jazzier excursions with driving bass, pretty snappy drumming, and lots of horns going nuts to the maniacal rants. But the vocal side in my opinion clearly overshadows the musical element which takes this down a few pegs from masterpiece.

Did I like it? Absolutely! But then I have a soft spot for bizarre Italian weirdness. My rating is lower than Mandi and Aprusso because I have to balance my personal desire for a higher rating with some acknowledgment that this is almost certainly a "for fans" kind of release. It's an album I think people *should* hear but not necessarily one that too many people will consent to hearing all the way through! This is for the adventurous and for those who appreciate the Gong "Flying Teapot" kind of a prog journey. The BMG mini-LP is a sweet gatefold showing off the fantastic stoner artwork that was so much more interesting than the "professionally designed" packaging we often get today (at least to me.) It is a rare and entertaining obscurity that will please fans of counter-culture celebration. I would love to hijack the sound system at a trendy nightspot and crank this album just to see the reaction.

Alfonso Noel Lovo - 1973 - Terremoto Richter 6.25 Managua

Alfonso Noel Lovo
Terremoto Richter 6.25 Managua

01 Obertura & Back To Africa
02 Hijack
03 The Magic Mushroom World
04 Mora Linda
05 Terremoto
06 In the Woods of Moon
07 Leonor
08 Apocalipsis
09 Managua Nicaragua Blues
10 Mazurca

Alfonso Noel Lovo (vocal, guitarra, percussão)

 Pearl coming from Nicaragua! The musician, songwriter and producer Alfonso Noel Lovo is an important rock name in the country, releasing two albums in the 70's, the second in partnership with Chepito Areas. It is also known for organizing a benefit concert of Santana in the country in 1973. From 80s Alfonso released some CDs and worked as a producer in the USA.
The debut from 1973, "Terremoto Richter 6:25 Managua". It consists of 10 short tracks, mostly with 1 or 2 minutes and totaling less than half an hour. The sound is quite eclectic, with different influences, each expressed in a song; psychedelia, Latin rhythms, blues, jazz and even bossa nova meet in traveler atmosphere at various times, especially in "Apocalipsis", "The Magic Mushroom World" and "In the Woods of Moon". The instrumental brings electric guitar, guitars, percussion and flute, with Spanish lyrics. Another recommended gem for fans of Latin jazz and psychedelic rock.

Alfonso Noel Lovo (Born August 12, 1951 in León, Nicaragua) is a Nicaraguan composer and guitarist.

As a child, only 5 years old, Alfonso Noel Lovo, saw an 48 bass red HONNER accordion in the window of Libreria Lehman, in San Jose, Costa Rica, while on Christmas shopping, and he asked his father, to buy it. They went inside, and the salesman showed him the notes of Silent Night. Another salesman suggested to sell a smaller size accordion for children, but Lovo, wanted the one in the window. A couple of days later, on Christmas day,it mysteriously appeared under the Christmas tree. And he surprised his parents, by playing the notes of Silent Night, that the salesman had showed him, only two days before.

Professor Julio Max Blanco, started trying to teach him music theory, back in his native Nicaragua, in January, 1957. Lovo learned to play songs before he could read the notes. And Professor Blanco, said 'He can play by ear alone, I give up' , and Lovo started playing accordion at the Colegio Calazanz, grammar school, at church functions. He learned to play harmonica, with Father Caudelli, with the Cub Scouts, an instrument he still plays, in blues style.

At school he also sang at the Calasanz Choir, later at the Colegio Centroamerica, boarding school in Granada, Nicaragua, with the Jesuits, he self taught Hammond B2 organ, and Piano, during long punishment hours in solitary confinement at the music room, since Lovo had become rebellious, and hard to manage. There he created his first Piano composition: 'In the Woods of the Moon', that is recorded in his first 'Terremoto' album later in New Orleans, at Knight Recording Studios.

The accordion was left alone when he picked up the guitar, that he learned from his home gardener, and guitar player, Adan 'Bienvenido' Jaime, then called the Nicaraguan Elvis, who showed him how to play Elvis Presley songs, Nicaraguan and Mexican rock ballads, popular in the early 60's. He got his first guitar from his uncle 'Chalito', in his native town of Leon,and he learned songs from Enrique Guzman, and The Teen Tops, and from Polidecto Correa, and Los Polimusic, one of the first Nicaraguan Rock Bands. This band featured as drummer, Jose 'Chepito' Areas, future founding member of the Santana Band, famous for opening the Woodstock Rock Festival.

Lovo met Chepito Areas playing in the Half Time of a high school basket ball game, and it was to be a life-long musical friendship.

He started playing in a rock band, with Ricardo Palma, and Adan Torres, as co-founders of Los Rockets in 1963 and then co-founded Los Juniors, with Emilio Ortega, in 1965. Both Palma and Ortega, were the top lead guitar players of the Nicaragua rock movement in the 60's. He also played with Edmundo Guerrero, a local guitar master of the Bossa Nova Brazilian jazz style.

Lovo was hijacked on a LANICA airline flight out of Miami, where he almost lost his left hand due to bullet wounds. Lovo survived and later regained the use of his hand.

In Managua, he produced the first Rock Concert, Concierto Idolo, at the Teatro Nacional Ruben Dario, in 1972, with an all star band, the members of the best known rock and jazz groups, in Nicaragua. The photo taken at the opening act, playing Mazurka in guitar, appears, as front cover of his album La Gigantona, widely acclaimed, in the tropical jazz category, in Billboard, on November 2012.

He is one of the original exponents of Nicaraguan Latin Rock. He recorded an album, Terremoto Richter 6.3 in 1973, in New Orleans, while going to school at L.S.U., Baton Rouge, LA. It is a fusion of Nicaraguan-style classic Spanish guitar with New Orleans Jazz and Gospel. His main instrument is guitar, but also plays bass, and keyboards, as well as harmonica.

He collaborated in his home town with Chepito Areas, the original percussionist with Santana Band. This connected him with that band. Together they produced the Managua Earthquake Relief concert featuring Mario Moreno AKA 'Cantinflas' in October 1972.

After the Nicaraguan Revolution, Lovo moved to the USA. In New Orleans, he got deeper into the blues guitar, influenced by New Orleans musicians and Louisiana blues-men.

In Miami, in the late 80's he recorded the song Freedom Fighters with his band "Wolf and The Pack". This song, is a mixture of rock and politics, earned him an invitation to perform at the White House.

The Miami Herald front-paged the band, then known as Alfonso Lobo and Wolf and The Pack, which led to TV interviews with CBS, NBC, ABC and Univision. The Miami PBS Channel 17, WDNA, dedicated a documentary program directed by Don Webb, to a Lovo interview and featured clips from the network coverage. In Patrick Carr's book Sunshine States, the author titled chapter 7 'The King of Contra Rock' and dedicated it to Lovo.

Lovo released La Gigantona, privately, in 2010, featuring acid Latin jazz music, with an all-star Nicaraguan band, including percussion by Areas.

The Chicago-based record label The Numero Group released Lovo's La Gigantona album to the public, in the fall of 2012. The reissue was sourced from a rare acetate and includes extensive liner notes on Alfonso Lovo, including historical photos of his musical background.

Since its re-release, La Gigantona has been a success and Lovo has been the subject of many reviews and interviews worldwide, including praises from BBC music critic Gilles Peterson radio personality in London, Relix Magazine, Dusted Magazine, Radio Nacional de Colombia, and many more international stations, and several TV shows. La Gigantona has become a well known name, and in November 14 , it reached # 4 in Billboard, Tropical music category. A new version of Wolf and The Pack has been formed in Miami, with Latin jazz players, and new performances have been seen up to the end of 2012, of La Gigantona, considered a dormant hit record, that has been awakened by Numero Group, the reissue label from Chicago.