Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Load - 1977 - Load Have Mercy

The Load
Load Have Mercy

01. Mobilized (6:28)
02. One Is Gone (1:46)
03. Something Suite (8:39)
04. Richter Scale (5:56)
05. Interstellar Debris (3:21)
06. The Narrows (6:16)
07. Choices (1:21)
08. Too Much To Believe (13:39)
09. Eitel's Lament (BONUS) (12:14)

- Sterling Smith / keyboards, vocals
- Dave Hessler / bass, guitars
- Tom Smith / drums

Tracks 1 to 8 recorded at Owl Recording Studios Inc., Columbus, Ohio in 1976-77.
Bonus track 9 recorded at MusiCol Recording Studios, Columbus, Ohio 1/1994.

I would consider this band as forgotten band of the seventies as very few knew them. Even the CD on my hands now was basically found by my prog-mate, Andy Julias, "by accident" from one of our local record stores down here in Jakarta, Indonesia. THE LOAD was a band that started in Columbus, Ohio, in March 1973, and conducted its career in California in 1980. They were partners in Owl Recording Studios, from which they released their first album "Praise The Load" in 1976. "Load Have Mercy" was the second of three albums the band recorded. (source: CD sleeve note). [My personal thanks to Max that has promptly put this album in this site].

THE LOAD music is a blend of Procol Harum, Uriah Heep, ELP, Kansas, and Rick van der Linden (Trace). Aha! When I mention these names, now it rings you a bell about sort of music these guys are playing hah? Hold your thought for a second. Don't misunderstand my statement as if you listen to the band by yourself, you may "partially" disagree with my statement. There are heavy influences of classical music in this album and bit of classic rock music. For my personal taste, this album is really excellent and I will tell you why on track by track basis. Hope that you don't get bored with it. You don't have to read this detailed review, just purchase the CD!

Mobilized opens the album with an excellent rock instrumental with electric guitar taking the lead of the music, combined with Hammond organ / clavinet D6. The tune starts off with a soft Sterling Smith's Hammond organ accompanied with an acoustic guitar fills. The style of Sterling's play is a blend of Ken Hensley and Procol Harum's keyboard player. The inclusion of clavinet D6 sounds in some transitions has enriched this track. The stunning electric guitar work played by Dave Hessler reminds me to the style of Procol Harum's, it's just much more rocking in this track. There is a segment where I can see the influence of "I want You" by The Beatles. Overall, this track is excellent and very satisfying my mind!

One is Gone is a very short track (1:46) but it's very nicely composed. It's performed in medium tempo with powerful vocals & backing vocals in happy mood, accentuated excellently by the Hammond sound. The short solo combining Hammond and piano is really really (I mean really!) excellent! It's enjoyable and accessible to any music buffs.

Something Suite (instrumental) opens with a common song familiar to my ears as it has been played by many bands including Marillion at the opening of "Margaret" live version track. Sorry, I don't know exactly, but it seems to me like a British traditional tune. When it reaches minute 1:35 - is now the time for the band's composition to play. The Hammond organ has again done a marvelous job in this track. Having explored the sound of Hammond, electric guitar takes wonderful solo. At the end of guitar work, Tom Smith does his fantastic solo drumming. Wow! What a dynamic tune this one is.

Richter Scale (hmm . the title seems so scary for me personally - it's a scale that is used to measure the magnitude of earthquake and tsunami that's just happened recently in my country). This is another fantastic song beautifully crafted by the band. It combines the improvised works of guitar, bass and clavinet. When Hammond takes part in solo work at the middle of the track, it's really killing me. It's then combined with a simple (but nice!) piano touch in classical music vein. The tempo turns faster at the end, accompanied with short drum solo. Oh my God! These guys are really geniuses!!!

Interstellar Debris (instrumental)starts of with a keyboard work; the music flows unexpectedly with a very nice texture. The rhythm section has repeated chorus but it's not boring because keyboard and guitar fill in the transitions and interlude. Some musical passages remind me to Babe Ruth music, especially "First Base" album.

The Narrows (instrumental) starts with a bass solo that at first bar almost mislead me to the opening bass line of "I Am A Camera" (Yes "Drama"). But it's not the case as when the music flows with Hammond organ takes the melody, it's different. The clavinet solo during interlude is played in a jazz music vein. The combination of drumming and guitar works is fantastic!

Choices opened with a church organ followed with a voice line and percussion. It's a short track that welcomes the next wonderful track.

Too Much To Believe is an epic that opens with a soft organ work followed by full music crescendo with unique singing style at voice line. I like the rhythm section of the opening part which is dominated by organ sound - bit of Ken Hensley style. At approx minute 3:00 the music enters into a passage where soft bass guitar play accompany solo organ, augmented with soft drumming. This segment reminds me to Kansas. The organ solo is soooo fantastic and it can bring me to the journey to the "other world". Oh mannnn ... I love it very much! What makes me happy is that this nice piece performed relatively long. It then flows to a pure (without any other instruments played) organ / clavinet solo with classical music influence. It reminds me to the work of Rick van der Linden (TRACE). Nice solo, but it may tend to bore the listeners. The music returns back to the original tagline melody. A track of my favorite!

Eitel's Lament (instrumental) kicks off with organ work augmented with a soft marching drum. The bass line brings the music in its full stream with great drumming - again, it reminds me to Kansas music. But interestingly, when lead guitar enters the music, it gives me a nuance of Procol Harum's song "Repent Walpurgis" (ugghh . wonderful track of the Harum!). The solo guitar is really stunning especially with the background of seventies style rhythm section. The inclusion of acoustic guitar work with soft organ sound (at background) in the middle of this track is a fantastic idea! Especially when the organ gradually increases its sound. That's not the end yet! When electric guitar follows in a style of "Repent Walpurgis" style, it's able to create a sort of "cry" deep in my heart (hey, I'm not exaggerating, this is real! The melody is really killing! Like Repent Walpurgis kills me, really!). The ending part is colored by amazing organ work in the vein of Ken Hensley. Wonderfully crafted track! I would doubt your "progness" (new vocabulary!) if you do not enjoy this long instrumental track! Very highly recommended!!

The Load - 1976 - Praise The Load

The Load 
Praise The Load

01. Fandango
02. Flyaway
03. Brandenburg #3
04. Dave's 'A' Song
05. The Betrayal
06. The William Tell Overture
07. Sit Down (bonus track)
08. She Calls My Name

- Sterling Smith / keyboards
- Dave Hessler / guitar, bass
- Tommy Smith / drums, percussion

This powerful Columbus, Ohio trio was formed in 1973 by bassist/guitarist Dave Hessler (OSIRIS, THE DANGER BROTHERS) and brothers Sterling (keyboards) and Tommy (drums) Smith. In time, Hessler built himself a double-neck guitar with a bass on the bottom and six strings on top, while Sterling acquired a Minimoog synth, allowing him to switch from bass to synth. Doing mostly American prog with classical influences, they gigged locally for a couple of years and became part owners of Owl Studios and Owl Records, allowing them to record their first LP at their own pace in 1976, "Praise the Load". Their second effort, "Load Have Mercy", recorded a year later, was quickly shelved and wasn't to be released until it appeared on CD in 1996. They then relocated to Los Angeles, spent the next two years working as session musicians (mostly with The BEACH BOYS) and by 1979, they called it quits and returned to their native Ohio.

"Praise the Load" offers a mix of conventional rock numbers with classical influences, featuring nicely crafted keyboard parts and complex themes in the tradition of KING CRIMSON, YES, ELP and REFUGEE. After 18 months of carefully remixing multi-track tapes of new material, the superior "Load Have Mercy" came out, a much more personal album showing less of their influences. Also classically inspired, it contains lots of dynamic interplay between the trio; Tommy Smith, in particular, is a percussive powerhouse while Hessler treats the listener to some aggressive, earbending solos.

Their second album in particular is a true sonic workout for any sound system and is highly recommended, especially if you're into classic ELP, REFUGEE, THE NICE or TRACE.

This album strikes me as a collection of semi-serious musings by a couple of seventies Midwest suburbia kids who either spent a lot of their free time at the Lowry Organ & Piano store in their local mall, or maybe snuck some time in on their church’s Wurlitzer after services. The seventies Midwest suburbia types is pretty much accurate; not sure where they cut their musical teeth. In any case they undoubtedly listened to a lot of seventies keyboard music back then, and I suspect they had some classical training as well.

This is a pretty entertaining record, although getting your hands on the original vinyl release would be pretty difficult. Fortunately the album was reissued on CD in the nineties, and that one isn’t very hard to find. There are basically two types of tracks here – keyboard-crazed instrumentals, and keyboard-crazed instrumentals with vocals. The lineup is a trio consisting of brothers Tom and Sterling Smith, plus guitarist Dave Hessler. Apparently Sterling Smith has subsequently made a career of session work, no surprise since his keyboard skills are readily apparent all over this album. The other two have appeared as part of “America’s Favorite Party Band” the Danger Brothers for the past quarter-century. So they’ve managed to make a living in the industry, albeit not playing this type of music. But they have this and one other early recording and their memories, which is nice I suppose.

The opening track “Fandango” is an eleven minute instrumental featuring what sounds like acoustic guitar, slightly syncopated and lively drumming, and a whole cornucopia of Hammond and synth keyboard passages that are pretty entertaining and kind of impressive for the skill of Sterling Smith’s fast fingers if nothing else.

“Flyaway” features more detailed keyboard work and electric guitar, well done except for the harmonized and uncredited vocals which are quite dated-sounding and kind of pithy in their lyrics. This one sounds like a hundred different forgotten seventies bands, but wouldn’t have been too bad on the radio back then.

“Brandenburg #3” is another instrumental, mostly keyboards, and quite a bit shorter than “Fandango” but with the same kind of lively tempo. Smith seems to favor string synths, which is okay since he plays them quite well.

The Hammond and some electric piano are featured on “Dave’s ‘A’ Song”, and this is the one that reminds me of those Lowry organ showrooms in the malls back in the seventies. Peppy tempo, light and lively progressions, but not a whole lot of substance. This clocks a little over seven minutes but actually seems a lot longer than that.

There’s a short blast of the “William Tell Overture” included which is almost all organ, with a few synth flourishes for good measure. Heck, why not?

The longest and probably most ambitious track is “The Betrayal”, an eleven minute blend of funky bass, light guitar, and almost jazzy drum work. Again the featured instruments are the various keyboards, although they are a bit more subdued here. I think this is some kind of religious-themed song, but the lyrics are a little hard to follow since they almost seem like an afterthought added once the instrumental tracks had been laid down. Again the vocals are very dated, but wouldn’t have been out of place thirty years ago when this was recorded.

There’s two ‘bonus’ tracks on the CD version, which is probably the only version anyone who doesn’t already own this is likely to find. Both are pretty good. “Sit Down” reminds me a bit of “Fandango” with its twangy guitar, off-beat drumming, and Wurlitzer-like keyboards. The lyrics are just silly, which probably explains why this one didn’t make the original release.

“She Calls My Name” sounds like a cross between the Nice and the Beach Boys circa the mid-seventies. Not a bad song, but nothing special.

Like I said, this is a pretty entertaining album, and the keyboard work is excellent. This isn’t an essential piece of progressive history or anything, but makes for a decent novelty piece on a symphonic rock collection. For American prog fans this one probably gets an extra star for its decidedly Styx-meets-Church-lady keyboard passages.

The Lemon Pipers - 1968 - Jungle Marmalade

The Lemon Pipers 
Jungle Marmalade

01. Jelly Jungle    
02. I Was Not Born To Follow    
03. Everything Is You    
04. Catch Me Falling
05. Hard Core    
06. Love Beads And Meditation    
07. I Need Someone (The Painter)    
08. Lonely Atmosphere    
09. Wine And Violet    
10. Dead End Street / Half Light    

The Lemon Pipers included singer Ivan Browne, guitarist William Bartlett, keyboardist R.G. Nave, bassist Steve Walmsley, and drummer William Albaugh. The group is best known for their number-one bubblegum hit "Green Tambourine" and several followups, all written by the team of Paul Leka and Shelley Pinz. The group actually wanted to play more psychedelic music; they only recorded "Green Tambourine" because their label would have dropped them had they refused. They eventually got the artistic control they wanted and ended up dropping off the charts for good with their first self-produced album, Jungle Marmalade. They broke up in 1969, with Bartlett joining Ram Jam.

Other than the lead-off track, "Jelly Jungle", this record is a far cry from the bubblegum sounds the band is best known for. I love my gum, but even with its general distance from this recording, it's a great album. Our candy-coated minstrels dip their flutes in psychedelia, of course, but there's also a heavy infiltration of Byrds and San Francisco flower power -- but don't let that distract you. Usually when an album is described in such a way, it's an outdated hodgepodge of anti-war idealism and drugged-out experimentation. The music within these grooves has more staying power and longevity than you'd guess. If you find this one in the thrift store bins, snatch it up. I'd venture to call it one of the best records of the genre. A surprisingly mature, yet loose, adventure in the many flavors of late 60's garage-psych and sunshine baroque, that explores more avenues of the love generation than its contemporaries.

The Lemon Pipers - 1968 - Green Tambourine

The Lemon Pipers 
Green Tambourine

01. Rice Is Nice    
02. Shoeshine Boy    
03. Turn Around Take A Look
04. Rainbow Tree    
05. Ask Me If I Care
06. Stragglin' Behind    
07. Green Tambourine    
08. Blueberry Blue    
09. The Shoemaker Of Leatherwear Square    
10. Fifty Year Void    
11. Through With You

Bass Guitar – Steve Walmsley
Drums – Bill Albaugh
Lead Guitar – Bill Bartlett
Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar – Ivan Browne
Organ, Tambourine, Horn, Toy – R.G. Nave

Strings – Irv Spice Strings*

I will never understand people who don't like bubblegum pop, and thus I will never understand why groups like The Lemon Pipers aren't considered on equal footing as say, The Chocolate Watchband. While it's true that a lot of the album tracks are pretty much run-of-the-mill late 60s psych-pop, the success of "Rice Is Nice" and the title track proved that this group was operating with a greater understanding of hooks than many of their contemporaries.

Those two hits aren't the only thing to recommend here, though; in fact, far from it. "Rainbow Tree" has the same pop chops, with a beautiful vocal/harpsichord melody; "Ask Me If I Care" brings in a Byrdsesque country shuffle; and "Blueberry Blue" is as insistent in its verses and pastoral in its chorus as any bubblegum hit of the day, with sitar weaving in and out of the arrangement throughout. And then there's the excellent closer, "Through With You," with a killer bassline running throughout while the guitarists engage in some seriously freaked out interplay. It's probably the weirdest song to ever make it onto a bubblegum pop record, and an unheralded mini-classic of the psychedelic era. Overall, this is a sneaky strong record and more deserving of classic psych-pop status than what it gets credit for.

The Left Banke - 1968 - The Left Banke Too

The Left Banke
The Left Banke Too

01. Goodbye Holly
02. There's Gonna Be a Storm
03. Sing Little Bird Sing
04. Nice to See You
05. Give the Man a Hand
06. Bryant Hotel
07. Desiree
08. Dark Is the Bark
09. In the Morning Light
10. My Friend Today

Michael Brown (keyboards)
Steve Martin (lead vocals)
George Cameron (vocals, drums)
Tom Finn (vocals, bass)
Tom Feher (guitar)

With Brown unwilling to tour, the band effectively splintered into two factions. Having had the foresight to retain rights to the 'Left Banke' name, Brown promptly recruited vocalist Bert Sommer, returning to the studio to record new material including the single 'Ivy Ivy' b/w 'And Suddenly' (Smash catalog number 2089). The single was immediately greeted by the other band members with threats of a lawsuit. In the meantime, fearing legal ramifications, radio stations simply refused to play any Left Banke material. With the rest of the band terminating their management arrangement with Lookofsky, a brief reconciliation with Brown resulted in the singles 'She May Call You Up Tonight' b/w 'Barterers and Wives' (Smash catalog number 2097) and 'Desiree' b/w 'I've Got Something On My Mind' (Smash catalog number 2119).

With the singles bombing, the reconciliation quickly fell apart.

With Brand and Brown again out of the picture (Brown reappeared at the creative helm of the band Montage, Cameron, Finn and Martin (with uncredited support from keyboard player Emmit Lake and backup singer Steve Talarico (aka Steve Tyler - check out his instantly recognizable shriek on 'Bryant Hotel') returned to the studio releasing 1968's "Left Banke Too". To be honest, the sophomore LP was kind of an orphan, offering up a mixture of previously released singles ('Desiree' and 'Goodbye Holly') and newly recorded material. With Tom Feher and Finn penning most of the new stuff, exemplified by tracks such as 'There's Gonna Be a Storm', 'Dark Is the Bark' and 'In the Morning Light' the sound wasn't a major departure from the debut. A mixture of delicate ballads and pseudo-psych influences, it may not have been as consistent as the debut, but had more than it's share of winning moments. Particularly good was the glistening pop numbers 'Desiree' (their last chart single) and 'Give the Man a Hand'. (Wonder how hard it was to get the trio to wear the period piece costumes shown on the back cover ...)  Smash tapped the album for a couple of instantly obscure singles:

- 1968's 'Goodbye Holly' b/w 'Sing Little Bird Sing' (Smash catalog number 2198)
- 1968's 'Give the Man a Hand' b/w 'Bryant Hotel' (Smash catalog number Smash 2209)
- 1969's 'Nice to See You' b/w 'There's Gonna Be a Storm' (Smash catalog number 2226)

The album failed to sell and within a couple of months the group was dropped from Smash's recording rooster. They struggled on for several months, playing small venues and clubs, before finally calling it quits at the end of the year.

Over the next two years the band tried several comebacks. With Brown and Martin reuniting, the 1969 single 'Myrah' b/w 'Pedestal' (Smash catalog number 2243) went nowhere. Similarly, 1971 saw the reunited original lineup release the single 'Love Songs In the Night' (though it was inexplicably credited as a Martin solo effort). Again the results vanished without a trace; Brown then reappearing as a member of Stories and The Beckies.

The Left Banke - 1967 - Walk Away Renee / Pretty Ballerina

The Left Banke 
Walk Away Renee / Pretty Ballerina

01. Pretty Ballerina
02. She May Call You Up Tonight
03. Barterers and Their Wives
04. I've Got Something on My Mind
05. Let Go of You Girl
06. Evening Gown
07. Walk Away Renee
08. What Do You Know
09. Shadows Breaking Over My Head
10. I Haven't Got the Nerve
11. Lazy Day

Michael Brown (keyboards)
Steve Martin (lead vocals)
George Cameron (vocals, drums)
Tom Finn (vocals, bass)
Richard Brand (guitar)

Michael Lookofsky (aka Michael Brown) began his professional musical career working as a keyboard player and assistant at his father's New York based World United studios. The job brought him into contact with engineering assistant Steve Martin, former Morticians drummer George Cameron and former Magic Plants bassist Tim Finn. Discovering a mutual love of popular music and harboring fantasies of becoming the next Beatles; the quartet began hanging around the studio, working on a mix of popular covers and original material. Brown's father producer Harry Lookofsky, took an interest in Martin's voice and the boys' ability to harmonize, eventually deciding to record some of their material. The band's breakthrough came when they recorded the song 'Walk Away Renee'. Written by a lovesick Brown, then lusting over Finn's girlfriend, the song featured an arresting harpsichord solo and Martin's borderline cloying vocals. Originally shopped around to dozens of companies, none expressed an interest in the song. Luckily for the band, having produced the song at his own expense, Lookofsky persisted in his efforts to market the song, eventually convinced Mercury's Smash subsidiary to pick up distribution rights. Released as a single, (b/w 'I Haven't Got the Nerve' Smash catalog number 2041) the track became a sudden and unexpected hit, cresting at # 5, turning the group into overnight stars.

Braced by their initial success, in early 1967 the group returned to the studio to record the sound-alike follow-up single 'Pretty Ballerina' b/w 'Lazy Day' (Smash catalog number 2074). Like it's predecessor, the single became a top-40 hit. As was then normal marketing practice, hoping to capitalize on their initial successes, the group was rushed into the studio to record a supporting album. Unfortunately, with the exception of Brown, who was a classically trained keyboardist (and who had written most of the band's material), none of the other members had any musical training. As a result, they found themselves with very little to do in the recording process. Relegated to the sidelines, most of 1967's cleverly titled "Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina" was played by studio musicians including guitarist Hugh McCracken and drummer Al Rogers. Adding insult to injury, producer/manager Lookofsky booted guitarist Winfield, replacing him with former Spyders guitarist Rick Brand. Still, in contrast to most quickie albums, the collection proved a sterling debut. While hastily recorded with minimal investment and in the midst of a personnel upheaval which saw guitarist Winfield replaced by Rick Brand; Brown's sweet voice and uncanny commercial instincts (he wrote or co-wrote all but one track) carried the day. Exemplified by material such as 'I've Got Something On My Mind', 'Let Go of You' and 'I Haven't Got the Nerve' the album featured a highly enjoyable blend of top-40 pop and more ornate instrumentation. Labeled 'baroque' by the press (thanks to their use of harpsichords and classical influenced string arrangements), the album made for one of the year's freshest and most enjoyable debuts. Elsewhere, the feedback propelled 'Lazy Day' stood as the collection's oddest offering. Inexplicably, in spite of two top-20 singles, the set could do no better than # 67. Adding to the band's problems, shortly after the album's release a frustrated Brown quit to pursue solo interests

Make Lievonen - 1977 - Make Lievonen

Make Lievonen
Make Lievonen

01. Rain Dance    
02. Sea Horse    
03. Monster Rally    
04. Peace Street Two
05. March For The Lonely Riders    
06. Tickets Please    
07. ETYK    
08. Farewell

Bass – Markku Lievonen
Clarinet – Pentti Lahti
Drums – Esko Rosnell, Reino Laine
Flute – Pekka Pöyry
Guitar – Hasse Walli, Juha Björninen
Keyboards – Eero Koivistoinen
Percussion – Vesa-Matti Loiri
Saxophone – Eero Koivistoinen

Finnish Jazz musician and composer with a respectable career and numerous appearances in Jazz-oriented albums.As Make Lievonen he released one and only album in 1977.But what a monster line-up he recruited for this work with huge names from the Finnish Jazz and Prog scene: Bassist and Olli Ahvenlahti's collaborator Pekka Sarmanto, Pentti Lahti on clarinet, Eero Koivistoinen and Pekka Poyry from Tasavallan Presidentti on sax/flute, drummer Esko Rosnell and Reino Laine (known for his work with Olli Ahvenlahti and Juhani Aaltonen), guitarists Hasse Walli (from Piirpauke) and Juha Bjoerninen (from Pekka Pohjola band), Uni Sono's Olli Ahvenlahti on keyboards, Vesa-Matti Loiri on percussion, Wigwam's Pedro Heikki Hietanen and veteran keyboardist Esa Kotilainen from Wigwam and Tasavallan Presidentti.Lievonen plays keyboards and bass in an album recorded in May 1977 at the studios of Love Records.

And the man did a great job, composing an album of flexible switches between dramatic Jazz Rock, breezy Fusion and discreet Jazz-flavored Prog Rock.The work had lots of references to the ethereal styles of WEATHER REPORT and RETURN TO FOREVER with tropical sax/clarinet plays and atmospheric, background keyboards and electric piano, which eventually would break into a more dramatic fashion with powerful bass lines, technical drumming and some furious guitar moves.The music can be loose, improvised but also dense-structured in the same track with lots of room for virtuosic solos in a jazzy enviroment, but Lievonen added also some more melodic passages and tunes in the album to maintain a serious balance.Some of the pieces contain synths in evidence and come as dreamy and imaginative Fusion music with more restrained runs and down-to-earth arrangements.Others are extremely rich in sound and musical palettes, evolving from smoky sax and keyboard plays to groovier themes and melancholic moods.The less interesting material is the one containing some funky but pretty standard vibes with lack of personality and having a rather Chill-Out/Lounge atmosphere.Fortunately these parts are pretty limited and the bulk of the album is characterized by adventurous, massive instrumental interactions and endless, changing climates.

As aforementioned Markku Lievonen remained always linked with the Contemporary Jazz scene and one of his later cooperations included the album ''Loru'' next to ex-Finnforest keyboardist Jarmo Savolainen.

''Make Lievonen'': Unknown but well-played Jazz/Fusion from the 70's with both dark and sunny parts and some excellent structured themes among the loose executions.Recommended to all Jazz/Fusion fanatics.

Lyd - 1970 - Lyd


01. The Time Of Hate And Struggle
02. Need You
03. Stay High, Fly Away Is Still Ok
04. Double Dare
05. Think It Over Twice
06. Trash Pad

*Jack Linerly - Guitar, Vocals
*Frank Tag - Guitar, Piano, Vocals
*Rob Weisenberg - Bass, Vocals
*Chet Desmark - Drums

 A long time ago I had a CD Lyd (they formed in Los Angeles sometime in the late 60’s) issued by private publishing house, the disk instead of the titles were printed only track numbers (I thought that it would be a rarity for a long time) Just three or four copies of this band's acetate were cut originally, recorded at Pat Boone's studio in Hollywood in 1970,but it has been "reissued" several times since. Some surprisingly druggy stuff came out of SunWest! I wonder if there was a velvet painting of Jesus on the studio wall? These guys sound like a cross between Ladies W.C. and Betty... how to find inspiration for such music and album art?

The legend said that the band was massively using LSD and other psychedelic substances, to create a psycho garage...guitar psych with intense basement atmosphere, long fuzz excursions, and wasted junkie lyrics...opening track is unbelievably killer..lots of crunchy, fuzzy guitars.

The music on this release is a psychedelic "little garage" rock with fantastic guitar playing! Quite a surprise was the information that the by Akarma released album,LP delivered by the analogue of titles, lyrics and composition (I recommend this edition despite the fact that crackles is better than the private press). CD -21 minutes a very brief, but it is two brilliant track. ''The Time Of Hate And Struggle "(the best song on the album sensational composition, the essence of psychedelia), and' Need You" (not far behind for first track,especially a sensational commencement)  plate short, it is not a milestone in the history of music, but w/g me deserves attention (especially the first two tracks) that you can't miss!!!

Lothar & The Hand People - 1969 - Space Hymn

Lothar & The Hand People
Space Hymn

01. Yes, I Love You    
02. oday Is Only Yesterday's Tomorrow    
03. Midnight Ranger    
04. Sister Lonely    
05. Wedding Night For Those Who Love    
06. Heat Wave    
07. Say, "I Do!"    
08. What Grows On Your Head?    
09. Sdrawkcab    
10. Space Hymn    

Lothar (theremin), John Emelin, Paul Conly, Rusty Ford, Tom Flye, Kim King, Richard Willis

I'm probably a little bit harder on this record than I really should be, mostly because I feel that it represents too much unrealised potential. These guys were quite unique at the time their albums were recorded, and they possessed the talent to put out something truly extraordinary. We got a whiff of this on their first one, which should have been a harbinger of better things to come. But I feel they dropped the ball with this, their second and final album. Not that it's not good - on the contrary, I feel 6 of the 10 tracks offered rate a B- or better. It just could have, ney, should have, excelled, and it clearly misses the mark. I think most of that has to do with their choice of material. They apparently had a liking for soft, moody ballads. And they were able to turn out some that were far better than most in this genre. But they seem to turn to this style far too often. Even the non-ballad material seems to be softer and a little more subdued than necessary. You find yourself waiting (and waiting) for them to finally rock out, and it just never comes. In fairness, this album does contain what is clearly their best known cut in the title track; a very spacey, hypnotic, trippy piece with electronic sounds and atmosphere, the likes of which had not been heard before, and which remains their signature achievement. But a little support wouldn't hurt, and I feel there is too little of that here.
Though their sound is substantially better than a typical garage band, their style of playing is influenced by that. Again, like their debut, this is a mix of diverse mat'l, most in a somewhat non-commercial vein, and some with psych influences.

Lothar & The Hand People - 1968 - Presenting Lothar & The Hand People

Lothar & The Hand People
Presenting Lothar & The Hand People

01. Machines
02. This Is It
03. This May Be Goodbye
04. That's Another Story
05. Kids Are Little People
06. Ha (Ho)
07. Sex and Violence
08. Bye Bye Love
09. Milkweed Love
10. You Won't Be Lonely
11. The Woody Woodpecker Song
12. It Comes on Anyhow
13. Paul, in Love

Bonus Tracks
14. Have Mercy (Mercy, Mercy, Mercy)
15. Let the Boy Pretend
16. L-O-V-E (Ask for It By Name)
17. Rose Colored Glasses
18. Every Single Word
19. Comic Strip

Lothar and the Hand People was a late-1960s psychedelic rock band known for its spacey music and pioneering use of the theremin and Moog modular synthesizer.

The band's unusual appellation refers to a theremin nicknamed "Lothar", with the "Hand People" being the musicians in the band, who included John Emelin (vocals), Paul Conly (keyboards, synthesizer), Rusty Ford (bass), Tom Flye (drums) and Kim King (guitar, synthesizer).

The band was notable for being "the first rockers to tour and record using synthesizers, thereby inspiring the generation of electronic music-makers who immediately followed them." Formed in Denver in 1965, Lothar and the Hand People relocated to New York in 1966. The band jammed with Jimi Hendrix and played gigs with groups such as The Byrds, Grateful Dead, The Lovin' Spoonful, Canned Heat, and the Chambers Brothers. Lothar and the Hand People played music for Sam Shepard's play The Unseen Hand, and was the opening act at the Atlantic City Pop Festival.

After three initial singles, Capitol Records released two albums by this short-lived band: Presenting...Lothar and the Hand People (1968, produced by Robert Margouleff) and Space Hymn (1969, produced by Nick Venet). A Rolling Stone review described Lothar and the Hand People's music:

    It is electronic country, a kind of good-time music played by mad dwarfs, and it is really good to listen to. There is no tension here, no jarring forces at war with each other. It may be strange that New York, the city which deifies speed and insanity, could produce this music, but it is as if Lothar and the Hand People have gone through this madness and come out on the other side, smiling.

The band's most popular recording was the title song "Space Hymn," which received significant FM radio play.

The first album featured a notable "robotic" cover of Manfred Mann's UK hit "Machines" (composed by Mort Shuman), which Capitol released as a single.

In 1997, The Chemical Brothers sampled the Lothar song "It Comes on Anyhow" in "It Doesn't Matter" on their album Dig Your Own Hole. A music video for "Space Hymn" screened in 2004 at the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival and the ION International Animation, Games, and Short Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Lothar and the Hand People was the source for a Saturday Night Live skit called "Lothar of the Hill People" and a Boston-area theremin band named The Lothars

Lothar and the Hand People first came to my knowledge through an archived WFMU show in which the DJ played "It Comes On Anyhow", one of the best pieces of musique concrete I have ever heard, especially from a rock band - it is way better than the Beatles' "Revolution No. 9." Apparently it was later sampled by Crystal Method.

So I went to the CD store and found this CD, put it in and was blown away by its sheer awesomeness. With the exception of one or two songs, the album invokes everything great about the 1960s, but also foresees the future. "Machines" is definitely my favorite, with its clanging percussion and Moog lines nearly formulating into easily one of the coolest songs from the 60s. Songs about machines taking over the earth are cool in general, I guess, but my bet would be this is one of the first. Not to mention that Lothar were one of the first rock bands to use both a Moog and a theremin.

"This May Be Goodbye", "Every Single Word" and "Ha (Ho)" remind me of mid-period Beatles, both in songwriting and innovativeness. "L-O-V-E (Ask for It By Name)" sounds dated, but in that catchily classic way - how this escapes the oldies stations I have no clue. "Rose Colored Glasses" is a gorgeous, lush ballad that calls to mind Love. "Sex and Violence" sounds like Beefheart's Magic Band with Lou Reed and the Beatles guesting on vocals. "Woody Woodpecker" is humorous. "Kids are Little People" is catchily Zappaesque. The gorgeous theremin piece "Paul, In Love" predates Eno's ambient music by nearly a decade.

One could make a convincing argument that Lothar sounds like Frank Zappa fronting the Olivia Tremor Control, a modern Beatlesque pop band utilizing electronics and tape experiments. One could also make the argument they sound like a Silver Apples-Velvet Underground side project. Or maybe a long lost Beatles-Faust collaborative session. Whatever the case may be, Lothar are truly one of the greatest bands of all time, and it's a travesty they are confined to the footnotes of music history.

Lord Sitar - 1968 - Lord Sitar

Lord Sitar
Lord Sitar

01. If I Were A Rich Man
02. Emerald City    
03. Tomorrow's People    
04. Daydream Believer    
05. Like Nobody Else    
06. I Am The Walrus    
07. In A Dream    
08. Eleanor Rigby    
09. I Can See For Miles    
10. Blue Jay Way    
11. Black Is Black    

The rumour I've heard is that in the late 60s Big Jim Sullivan was the only session guitarist in Britain to own a sitar at a time when George Harrison had suddenly turned it into the new craze. The result, they say, was this album, a cash-in on the sudden vogue for the old Indian instrument.

So what of the album itself? Well, the cheesy-listening style orchestral backing that dominates large swathes of the album is a big let-down. I guess they were aiming for people who generally listened to the likes of Mantovani and who found The Beatles, with their number one hits and trimmed moustaches, to be too underground, counter-culture and dangerous but who nevertheless thought that funny Indian instrument sounded pretty good. Did people like that really exist? What you have then is an odd marriage, an amalgam of instrumental easy-listening of the kind churned out endlessly by the likes of 101 Strings and Bert Kaempfert with the sort of raga rock that found its more natural home with the burgeoning psychedelic movement and the two don't make the most comfortable of bedfellows.

Big Jim inevitably handles the instrument competently as befits his stature as a player of non-harp plucked chordophones although the arrangements, with his Lordship knocking out the tunes as sung rather than as played, are, again, frightfully cheesy (the version of "I Am the Walrus" is particularly cringe-worthy in this regard) and the dominance of the orchestral arrangement sometimes drowns out Sullivan's dextrous finger work. The formula is adhered to rigidly throughout, a fact that makes the album seem more of a drag the longer it goes on and by the time you get around to the version of "I Can See For Miles" it really has overstayed its welcome. It all ends up sounding very kitsch, something that is not admittedly a complete criticism but nevertheless it means the album will never be more than a curio for the discerning listener.

With a small backing band, minimally invasive arrangements and BJS left to noodle away on the long-necked gourd to his heart's content, with the sole remit being that a little bit of each raga should sound like the hit in question, this could have been a lost raga rock classic. Instead, with lavish production and smothered in layers of Gorgonzola and Edam, it passes by as a transient piece of Austin Powers style campery, the sort of thing to be listened once in a G plan styled living room before being filed away and forgotten. A missed opportunity all round

Live - 1974 - Live


01.Peer Gynt (Live) - 7:07
02.Carol (Live) - 5:17
03.Fly like a bird (Live) - 5:29
04.It was nice (Live) - 5:06
05.Dreaming (Live) - 7:54
06.Land of the blind - 7:15
07.Unknown soldier - 7:31
08.Jazz - 14:37

Norbert Aufmhof - flute
Gerd Klein - guitar
Gerd Schnidt - bass
Jurgen Schimmel - drums

Formed in 1971, and a strangely named band indeed. In October 1972 their guitarist Martin Knaden went to Curly Curve. Throughout their history only one member has remained, the multi-talented keyboards and flute player Norbert Aufmhof.

Although in existence for a decade Live never got to record a proper studio album, or gain a contract, which surely they should have. Maybe the band name was a bit of a jinx?. Their earlier history was originally just documented by a single.

Only more recently did an LP surface collecting 1974 recordings. Quite obviously a collection of rehearsal session tapes, the LP reveals a band with promise albeit rather grottily recorded with often barely understandable muffled lyrics in English.

Musically, there are nods to early Satin Whale and Jane, but with lots of classical touches, notably Grieg and Bach, and a penchant to meander rather nicely during the instrumentals.

Based on the Rock Offers track "Sea Fever", they had blossomed and changed focus somewhat, as a much more sophisticated symphonic progressive of the Pancake and Jane type, typical of the mid/late-1970's. In all, during their history, three different versions of Live existed, but eventually the band split in 1976.

A full history of the band is included in the Gevelsberg CD, which documents other oddments, sessions, and a live recording. - The Crack In The Cosmic Egg By Steven Freeman & Alan Freeman.

Listening - 1968 - Listening


01. You're Not There 4:06
02. Laugh at the Stars 4:15
03. 9/8 Song 4:28
04. Stoned Is 4:51
05. "Forget It, Man!" 3:24
06. I Can Teach You 2:23
07. So Happy 2:33
08. Cuando 2:51
09. "Baby: Where Are You?" 6:23
10. Fantasy 1:02
11. See You Again 3:45

Michael Tschudin (keyboards, organ, vocals)
Peter Malick (guitar)
Walter Powers (bass)
Ernie Kamanis (drums, vocals)

So obscure it totally escaped me during my several years of disproportionately intense attention to late 60s rock. Rightfully praised by connoisseurs, this is a real heavy-hitter of back-to-back acid fuzz nuggets that put my mind into the happy lands of The Ultimate Spinach, Food, The Freeborne, Cream, The Collectors, Ars Nova, Autosalvage, Aorta, etc. It has all the signs of a slow-grower that might eventually worm its way into my "psych" (I think that term/concept is stupid, just for the record) top 100 or thereabouts.  An all-around ace album I'm planning to spend a good bit more time with on the advice of my most esteemed 60s/70s guru, who recently hipped me to this platter and reported a dizzying ascent into the highest echelons of his rating scale.

Lily - 1973 - V.C.U. (we see you)

V.C.U. (we see you)

01 - In Those Times (9:08)
02 - Which Is This (4:24)
03 - Pinky Pigs (6:38)
04 - Doctor Martin (4:36)
05 - I'm Lying On My Belly (Including 'Tango Atonale') (5:57)
06 - Eyes Look From The Mount Of Flash (9:43)

bonus tracks:

07 - Chemical New York (8:15)
08 - Adlerbar (5:46)
09 - Catch Me (8:12)
10 - The Wanderer (16:27)

Wilfried Kirchmeier (bass, vocals)
Manfred Schlagmüller (drums)
Hans-Werner Steinberg (saxophone)
Manfred-Josef Schmid (guitar)
Klaus Lehmann (guitar)

"A totally unknown entity, that existed, made one album, and just as quickly disappeared! Lily were in fact not unlike label stablemates Nine Days Wonder and Message, almost like a hybrid of the two. But unlike those multi-national bands Lily were entirely German, and more offbeat in a bizarre Krautrocky sort of way, with oddly composed songs, strangely worded lyrics and such like. An unknown gem for the Bacillus collector." (Crack In The Cosmic Egg)

"In the original The Crack In The Cosmic Egg I wrote that Lily were "A totally unknown entity, that existed, made one album, and just as quickly disappeared!" whereas now, thanks to Garden of Delights informative CD booklet we can now tell you much much more!

Lily were never really "Lily" but were always Monsun (that's Monsoon in English) originating in the mid-1960's from a Frankfurt beat band called The Mods (featuring Michael Winzkowski, later of Orange Peel and Epsilon), going through various changes before gelling as Monsun in 1970. Recording a demo tape in Spring 1972, they so impressed Bacillus Records producer Peter Hauke that he promptly signed them up after witnessing them live at the Frankfurt Zoom Club in October. Peter booked them three days at Dierks Studio in January 1973. For some reason the big wigs at Bellaphon decided they wanted to promote them as a "glitter rock" band and with a more international flower-power name, hence they became Lily, all gleefully dolling themselves up for the chintzy cover shot.

The Lily album was distinctly Bacillus Records fare, not unlike label-mates Nine Days Wonder and Message, almost like a hybrid of the two, notable for eccentric lyrics and angular fusion elements all carried by Dieter Dierks superb recording. But unlike those multi-national bands Lily were entirely German, and more offbeat in a bizarre Krautrocky sort of way, with oddly composed songs, strangely worded lyrics and such like, all in a complex jazzy prog. Generally the songs are woven within the structure, with the instrumental focus being led by excellent fuzz/wah saxophone, a Helmut Hattler type lead-bassist, and dual rhythm/solo guitars.

The CD reissue also contains a whole album's worth of material (from Spring 1974) that amounted to a demo for what would have been a second Bacillus Records album. Excellent as it all is, for some reason Peter Hauke wasn't impressed, preferring to promote his other more "successful" acts. Without a contract, they struggle and continue with ever changing line-up's until splitting for good in 1976." (Crack In The Cosmic Egg)

"Lily is not a name you'd associate with a German, jazz-rock inflected band whose vocalist often sounds a great deal like Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson. Seeing it, you might think it were the German answer to the UK's Lulu (who most know from her "To Sir With Love" song). And in fact, as the liner notes state at the outset, Lily was not the name the band initially used but rather Monsun. Lily was thrust upon them by Bellaphon records, hoping by giving them a "glitter image [to:] increase their chances of success." This is why on the cover they are wearing make up and women's clothes. Where Lily a glitter band? No, far from.

Lily were Manfred Schlagmuller on drums and percussion, Wilfried Kirchmeier on bass and vocals, Hans-Werner Steinberg (tenor and soprano saxes), and both Manfred-Josef Schmid and Klaus Lehmann on guitars. Schlagmuller and Kirchmeier play synths on "Eyes Look From The Mount Of Flash," which puts snappy percussive effects early on and squelchy effects as the song ends. V.C.U. (We See You) was recorded and released in 1973, recording taking place at Deiter Dirks' studio. The band were given only three days studio time, only two of which were able to be used for recording. Vocals were left for the last day, and were, according to the liner notes, "recorded very quickly." This hurriedness shows in the unpolished nature of the pieces. Individual performances are good, but on some tracks the band seem out of sync. The one element that worked the least for me were the vocals of Wilfried Kirchmeier, at least at the outset, as they improve as the album moves along. In fact, the more he sounds like Anderson, the better they are. But given the time constraints, there was no time really to redo anything. If you can set that aside and listen to the band's playing, you'll find they were really quite good, especially drummer Schlagm?ller (who is showcased on the best track on the album, the bonus track "The Wanderer." If you love and admire drumming, this is the track to skip to first - in fact, given the bass solo from Kirchmeier and the remaining performances on this instrumental track: you'll also want to skip to here first).

Oddly, the best tracks on this album overall are the bonus tracks, which were presumably recorded at the same time as the initial tracks - nothing is mentioned in the liner notes (strange coming from the usually very thorough Garden Of Delights). These might have seemed too "commercial" in comparison to the other material ("The Wanderer" aside), but stylistically, they seem to fit right in, though to my ears they seem a little more polished. They are mostly instrumental tracks, though they aren't solely instrumental. The bonus tracks include the mostly musing blues-jazz piece "Chemical New York," the highlight being the tenor sax playing of Steinberg. "Adlerbar" has an almost "Whole Lotta Love"/"Cross-Eyed Mary" rhythm to it owing to the fat, throbbing basslines of Kirchmeier and the roughened, ballsy guitar, all with Steinberg blowing tenor sax all over it (sometimes in a harmonica-like fashion) - cool stuff actually. "Catch Me" is a more upbeat, groovy piece with more sax and guitar up front. Kirchmeier sounds a bit like Jim Morrison on this piece.

In broad strokes, their sound is reminiscent of other jazz-rock-psychedelic bands of the period, certainly evident during the middle section of "Which Is This," which, if it were strictly instrumental, would be excellent - from the guitar solo to the saxes to the drumming. While Lily don't sound like any one band in particular, there were parts that reminded me of early Jethro Tull, as mentioned -- parts of "Which Is This," and "I'm Lying On My Belly (including 'Tango Atonale')" and "Chemical New York" (one of the bonus tracks) all of which suggest Anderson's gravelly vocal delivery on "Aqualung" : somewhat. Comparatively, "I'm Lying:" is more simply arranged piece, where the band seem to be playing more in sync with each other, putting the guitar in the lead -- that is until a solo section, with soprano sax tootling over chiming electric guitars. Other parts that made me think of The Doors, Led Zeppelin, and Santana ... but it might be truer to say these bands were all influenced by a single source, which was the American blues. "Doctor Martin" is notable for its treatment of Kirchmeier's vocals where echoes ripple out and some good instrumental work that immediate follows.

At least on "Eyes Look:," it's Schmid soloing in your right ear, as his tone is said to be rougher than the clearing tone of Lehmann, who will be in your left ear. It is on the track that I first really hear Kirchmeier on bass, who, as I said, really gets to solo on "The Wanderer."

Lily were a band who given a little more time in the studio, might have produced a real gem of an album : well a glittering gem of an album, rather than a gem in the rough, making them a glitter band of an entirely different sort. As it is, internal problems eventually lead the band's dissolution. Schmid was booted out of the band in December 1973, though it had been he that had "[produced] enormous amounts of musical ideas and strange lyrics [that were then] sorted, corrected, smoothed out and chronologically arranged by Wilfried Krichmeier:" (later ":Steinberg would add his wind instruments [:] while [Schlagmuller] provided the drum part. They would spend endless nights working on the tracks, rearranging them, until finally that very special Monsun sound emerged." - this is the genesis of the tracks on this album). After Schmid left, the band had lost their "musical originality." Other than writing songs "with mad German lyrics mirroring his mental problems" (Schmid had trashed the rehearsal room after having been booted from the band) and died under "mysterious circumstances" in the mid-90s, being "found dead in Frankfurt's inner-city wood." The band continued without Schmid, replacing him with guitarist Bjorn Scherer-Mohr, who leaves in August 1974. Schlagmuller leaves in early 1975, replaced by "Rudigger "Rupf" Pfau. By April 1976, the band have added humour to their music to the point where "their music becomes more and more jokey, approaching comedy:" and it is after their show at the Old Bailey in Bayreuth that month that the band dissolves." (Stephanie Sollow progressiveworld.net)

Lightshine - 1976 - Feeling


01. Sword in the Sky (4:50)
02. Lory (5:31)
03. Nightmare (10:33)
04. King and Queen (13:44)
05. Feeling (7:37)

- Joe / guitar, vocals
- Ulli / guitar, flute, vocals
- Olli / synthesizer
- Wolfgang / bass
- Egon / drums

LIGHTSHINE is a very unknown but great band from the Krautrock german scene, which was formed in Emmerich by Wolfgang, Ulli, Joe and Egonwhen when they were about 20. They played very trippy and beautiful music pieces, in the style of AMON DÜÜL II, ELOY, with a little touch of LED ZEPPELIN, GENESIS and PINK FLOYD. The band manages to bring something new to the Krautrock movement.

In 1973, they released their unique album, Feeling, edited with a limited number of copies. The d isc features great epic floating long pieces, mostly dominated by electric floating guitar and alternates relaxing and catchy passages. An unknown classic of Krautrock !

 This was LIGHTSHINE's only album released in 1976. This German band offers up some beautiful, melodic and spacey passages here. Vocals are in English and are pretty good. He does get crazy with them at times, very theatrical.

"Sword In The Sky" has this guitar melody for 3 minutes that sounds great, I like the tone of it..The vocals come in followed by piano and flute as the mood changes.The flute then takes the lead. "Lory" has some tasteful guitar and the bass is prominant. The vocals get a little theatrical on this one. "Nightmare" is my favourite song off of this record. The vocals are almost speaking as a vocal melody is sung at the same time. Some beautiful, spacey guitar and light drums take over as the vocals have stopped. This contrast continues. Some cool sounding synths as well.

"King And Queen" opens with experimental, spacey noises for 90 seconds then guitar and drums come in. We get those theatrical vocals again that crash the mellow soundscape. He's playing the part of the crazy king when he sings ? Like a lunatic. "Feeling" is another great track that opens with percussion and gentle guitar.Vocals 3 minutes in followed by drums and bass as things pick up. There is some excellent guitar towards the end.

This is an album that is easy to drift away with but it also has some emotional moments that I enjoy. Worth checking out if your into Krautrock or Psychedelic music.

Lighthouse - 1974 - Good Day

Good Day

01. White Buffalo
02. Wide-Eyed Lady
03. Got a Feeling
04. Be Here Now
05. Good Day
06. Man, Woman, Child
07. Mighty Waters
08. Going Downtown
09. Reincarnate Nation

- Dick Armin Cello
- Ralph Cole Guitar, Vocals
- Don Dinovo Viola
- Dale Hillary Saxophone, Vocals
- Bill King Drums
- Skip Prokop Guitar, Drums, Vocals
- Sam See Keyboards
- Larry Smith Trombone, Vocals
- Rick Stepton Trombone
- Terry Wilkins Bass, Vocals

Good Day was from 1974 and the follow-up to Can You Feel It, which was my introduction to the band. Speaking of which, avoid the MP3 album Can You Feel It. It has gliches, such as droputs in at least one of the songs ("Same Train"). I didn't bother to listen further, because if it isn't ALL good, there's no point. Good Day, on the other hand, is excellent. No skips, dropouts, etc. It could use a remaster, like all the MP3 Lighthouse albums, but this one sounds better than most.

Like Can You Feel It, the lead vocals are divided between Skip Prokop and Ralph Cole (ok, Dale Hillary sang "No More Searching" on CYFI, but work with me here). But unlike that album (or any other Lighthouse album) it has considerably less horns and strings. It has just enough to let you know this is still Lighthouse, but some tracks like "Be Here Now", "Good Day", and "Man, Woman, Child" don't have them. Also, for the first time, Skip puts down the drum sticks and plays guitar, along with guitarist Ralph Cole. As a result, this album is more guitar-heavy than other Lighthouse albums. The drummer on Good Day is Billy King, who does an excellent job. But it remains the only Lighthouse album with someone else at the drums.

After Good Day, Lighthouse didn't release another album for 22 years. In 1996, there was the reunion album Song Of The Ages, but it sounds very different from the 1969-74 period. That's the only studio album of theirs I haven't bothered to get. Reunion albums rarely work and that one is no exception. So as far as I'm concerned, Lighthouse stopped after Good Day.

Lighthouse - 1973 - Can You Feel It

Can You Feel It

01. Set the Stage (4:56)
02. Same Train (6:03)
03. Magic's in the Dancing (4:04)
04. Pretty Lady (3:57)
05. Disagreeable Man (5:29)
06. Can You Feel It (4:36)
07. Is Love the Answer (3:14)
08. Lonely Hours (6:25)
09. No More Searching (4:04)
10. Bright Side (4:26)

- Dick Armin / Electric Cello
- Ralph Cole / Guitar, Vocals
- Don Dinovo / Five string electric Viola
- Dale Hillary / Tenor and alto Saxophone, Vocals
- John Naslen / Trumpet
- Skip Prokop / Guitar, Drums, Percussion, Vocals
- Larry Smith / Piano, Trombone, Vocals
- Rick Stepton / Trombone
- Alan Wilmot / Bass

With the departure of lead singer Bob McBride and founding keyboard player Paul Hoffert, Lighthouse slimmed down to a mere nine piece outfit for "Can you feel it". In came sax player and vocalist Dale Hillary, Hoffert not being directly replaced. It was though the absence of Hoffert which was the more significant, such had been his input to previous albums in terms of song- writing and arrangements.

Ralph Cole and Skip Prokop write all the songs here with the exception of Dale Hillary's "No more searching". They do not however write as a team, the tracks working out as roughly alternating between them.

The general feel of the album is that it is under produced and arranged. The brass and strings on which the band's sound has leaned so heavily are largely anonymous and underemployed here. "Same train" for example is a decent song with a pleasant melody, but it feels understated and undistinguished. "Magic's in the dancing" is a very ordinary song, but does contain some fine electric viola played by Don DiNovo on his unusual 5 string viola. The albums did produce a further hit single "Pretty lady". This extremely catchy pop song will sound frustratingly familiar to anyone who hears it. It one of those songs you recognise but have no idea who it was by.

A couple of the principal shortcomings of "Can you feel it" are demonstrated on the title track. Compared to those of Bob McBride, the lead vocals are weak while the song itself is orientated too much towards the "get up and dance" commercial market.

Prokop's "Lonely hours" is one of the best tracks on the album being a slower blues, almost lounge like, song with smooth sax and some pleasant strings. Dale Hillary's "No more searching" only serves to demonstrate why he was only allowed to contribute one track to the album, this being a rather messy country rock tinged affair.

"Can you feel it" is not a bad album. It does however have the feel of a band who have simultaneously lost key members and are running out of ideas.

The album is long for an LP, running to over 47 minutes. In the main, this does not affect the sound quality but a producers note on the sleeve does recommend increasing the volume to compensate. The album came with a full size poster showing the mug- shots of the band members. Needless to say my poster is still safely concealed within the LP sleeve!

Lighthouse - 1972 - Sunny Days

Sunny Days

01. Silver Bird (3:02)
02. Sunny Days (4:13)
03. You Girl (3:56)
04. Beneath my woman (6:57)
05. Merlin (4:15)
06. Broken Guitar Blues (4:25)
07. Letter home (4:07)
08. You give to me (7:16)
09. Lonely places (3:21)

- Dick Armin / Electric Cello
- Ralph Cole / Guitar, Vocals
- Don Dinovo / Electric Violina
- Paul Hoffert / Keyboards, vibes, congas, canary
- Bob McBride / Acoustic Guitar, Percussion, Vocals
- John Naslen / Trumpet
- Skip Prokop / Acoustic Guitar, Percussion, Drums, Vocals
- Howard Shore / Flute, Sax (Alto), Sax (Tenor), Vocals
- Larry Smith / Trombone, Mellophonium, Vocals
- Alan Wilmot / Bass
- Louis Yacknin / Bass

After a well earned layoff to recharge the batteries, during which the superb "Lighthouse live" album was released, the band returned in late 1972 with "Sunny days". The reunion however proved in some ways to be a false dawn. After a promotional tour for the album keyboard Paul Hoffert would leave the band due to burn out, and singer Bob McBride would also leave by mutual agreement. McBride's problems with substance abuse were having an adverse impact on his contribution to the band. He went on to record solo albums, but sadly he was unable to shake himself of his addiction and died in 1998.

As the title suggests though, "Sunny days" is a positive, optimistic album. Side one has two hit singles, the title track and "You girl", plus the highly commercial "Silver bird". "Silver bird" is an upbeat toe-tapper with strong harmonies and good guitar work, while "Sunny days" has a strong laid-back-summer feel, and distinctly retro atmosphere. The song is written by band leader Skip Prokop, who dominates the writing on the first side. By the time we get to "You girl", which opens with "Well I don't care if it's a cloudy day..", it starts to feel like just a little too much effort is being made to convey overtly positive messages.

The mood changes suddenly for the blues based "Beneath my woman", although the lyrics are still positive. The track features an inspired sax solo with a sympathetic arrangement. The side closes with another reflective song "Merlin", the only song on the album where Bob McBride is involved in the writing.

"Broken guitar blues" which opens side two is Ralph Cole's satirical tale of how his guitar got damaged on a flight when the crew insisted on putting it in the hold. Clealry it was not damage too badly, as the guitar work on the track is exemplary! Howard Shore's "Letter home", which appears to sing himself, has the sound of a Neil Young "Harvest" type song.

"You give me" is the strongest piece on the album, starting as a slow power rock song of the type which dominated the second side of "Thoughts of moving on" before developing into a fast paced sequence of lead guitar followed by brass then keyboards. Larry Smith's arrangement of his own composition here is bold and compelling. The album closes with Paul Hoffert's "Lonely places", a song which attempts to explain why he needs to leave the band at this point. Ironically, the song is not a depressive ballad, but a strong up-tempo bras driven rocker.

"Sunny days" was to all intents and purposes the last great album by Lighthouse. While many of the songs err towards simplicity in structure, there is plenty in the way of strong arrangements and inspired performances.

In the UK, the album was only the second to be released on the newly formed Mooncrest record label, the first being Nazareth's "Razamanaz".

Lighthouse - 1971 - Thoughts Of Moving On

Thoughts Of Moving On

01. Take It Slow (Out In The Country)
02. What Gives You The Right
03. You And Me
04. Fly My Airplane
05. I'd Be So Happy
06. I Just Wanna Be Your Friend
07. I'm Gonna Try To Make It
08. Rockin' Chair
09. Walk Me Down
10. Insane

- Richard Armin / electric cello
- Ralph Cole / Guitar, Vocals
- Don Dinovo / Viola, Violin (Electric)
- Paul Hoffert / Keyboards, Vibraphone
- Keith Jollimore / Flute, Saxophone, Vocals, Wind
- Mike Malone / Trumpet, Flugelhorn
- Bobby McBride / Percussion, Vocals
- Skip Prokop / Guitar, Percussion, Drums, Vocals
- Howard Shore / Flute, Saxophone, Vocals
- Larry Smith / Trombone, Vocals
- Louis Yacknin / Bass

"Thoughts of moving on" was the first album I bought by Lighthouse, way back in the early 1970's. It quickly become a personal favourite, the strong harmonies and exciting use of a full brass section of this Canadian outfit offering a unique alternative to the music then being made by British bands.

The album neatly spits in two halves, with side one generally containing the upbeat numbers, and side two the ballads and powerful slower songs.

The opening "Take it slow" was released as a reasonably successful single in the US and Canada, the strong hook making it the obvious choice. "Fly my aeroplane", "Rockin' chair" and "What gives you the right" continue the upbeat radio friendly pop rock sound the band had adopted for the previous album ("One fine morning"). "I just wanna be your friend" was also released as a single, the Three Dog Night like harmonic arrangement making for an instantly appealing, if largely unchallenging song.

"Walk me down" sees the pace drop for this delicate ballad with lush mellotron orchestration. The late Bob McBride's vocal here is one of the finest he recorded during his time with the band. The track sets the mood for much of the second side, which has the longer, generally slower songs. "You and me" is another reflective ballad with good keyboard work and a CSNY sound. The track plays out with some nice flute.

If side was primarily upbeat, with one ballad, side two's softer atmosphere is interrupted by the Russ Ballard like "Insane". "I'd be so happy" is a wonderful power ballad which the aforementioned Three Dog Night truncated and included on their "Hard Labor" album. The strong song writing here is complemented by a superb arrangement. The album closes with "I'm gonna try to make it", another reflective piece featuring a strong brass arrangement and melodic harmonies.

"Thoughts of moving on" does exactly what it says on the tin. It finds Lighthouse moving in a more commercial direction while retaining their emphasis on strong arrangements and tight performances. While the album does not offer anything particularly challenging it does represent a highly enjoyable experience.

Lighthouse - 1971 - One Fine Morning

One Fine Morning

01. Love Of A Woman (5:52)
02. Little Kind Words (4:15)
03. Old Man (5:35)
04. Sing Sing Sing (3:22)
05. 1849 (6:12)
06. One Fine Morning (5:14)
07. Hats Off (To The Stranger) (3:37)
08. Show Me The Way (2:25)
09. Step Out On The Sea (5:04)
10. Sweet Lullaby (4:56)

Total time - 44:32

Additional tracks on Repertoire Records CD
11. One Fine Morning (single edit) (3:21)
12. Take It Slow (Out In The Country) (3:05)
13. Sweet Lullaby (single edit) (4:04)

- Dick Armin / cello
- Ralph Cole / guitar, vocals
- Don Dinovo / viola
- Paul Hoffert / keyboards
- Keith Jollimore / vocals, wind
- Bobby McBride / percussion, vocals
- Pete Pantaluk / trumpet
- Skip Prokop / guitar, drums, vocals
- Howard Shore / saxophone
- Larry Smith / trombone, vocals
- Louis Yacknin / bass

In retrospect, it seems surprising that this superb album came so early in the career of Lighthouse. A change of record label and the arrival of new lead singer Bob McBride combined with the appointment of producer Jimmy Lenner all gave the band the sense of direction the so needed so badly. "One fine morning" is a supremely confident album, filled with tight jazz rock based songs.

"Love of a woman" kicks things off in fine upbeat style, the brass section driving McBride's strong vocals forward. McBride's style is similar to that of Blood Sweat and Tears' David Clayton-Thomas, although his voice is usually slightly gruffer. "Little kind words" belies that gruffness though, this tastefully soft track having a delightful melody and some fine harmonies. The arrangement on this track is particularly striking.

"Old man" sets out as a fairly conventional pop based song before the brass section lifts the pace, introducing a lengthy instrumental workout for the entire 11 man line up. "1849" tells the tale of a wagon train headed for the California gold rush in that year.

Two singles were taken from the album appearing consecutively here. The title track "One fine morning" is a wonderful BS&T like fast paced number. The song has strong harmonies and a great feel good atmosphere, with superb guitar work driven ever higher by the brass arrangement. "Hat's off (to the stranger)" also has a BS&T feel, but focuses on the slower big production sound.

"One fine morning" is an excellent collection of jazz rock songs. The album does not contain the improvisations or extended soloing of previous releases, these being replaced by an altogether tighter approach. As such, the prog aspects are less obvious here than on other Lighthouse releases. That aside though, the music is supremely melodic, and the performances of the extended line up uniformly excellent.

The Repertoire records CD re-release contains three additional tracks. Two of these are simply single edits of tracks on the album. The third, "Take it slow (out in the country)" is a single edit of the opening track from the following "Thoughts of moving on" album.

The Vertigo release of the album came complete with a superb Roger Dean illustration of a Lighthouse formation.

Lighthouse - 1970 - Peacing It All Together

1970 -
Peacing It All Together

01. Nam Myoho Renge' Kyo / Let the Happiness Begin.
02. Everyday I Am Reminded
03. The Country Song
04. Sausalito
05. The Fiction Of Twenty Six Million
06. The Chant (Nam Myoho Renge' Kyo)

- Dick Armin / cello
- Paul Armin / vocals
- John Capon / trombone
- Bruce Cassidy / trumpet
- Arnie Chycoski / trumpet
- Ralph Cole / guitar, vocals
- Pinky Dauvin / vocals
- Don Dinovo / viola
- Grant Fullerton / bass, vocals
- Paul Hoffert / keyboards
- Russ Little / trombone
- Skip Prokop / guitar, drums, vocals
- Howard Shore / saxophone
- Larry Smith / trombone, vocals
- Les Snider / cello

This was Lighthouse's third album and last one on this particular label. Their next album, "One Fine Morning" on a new label was to be the start of their golden era until their unfortunate break-up. I preferred "Piecing It Together" to their second album "Suite Feeling" but "Piecing It Together" was in no way as good as their next three albums which would appear on their new label. Switching labels seemed to have lifted their music up a couple of notches. However I enjoy this album.
Brings back my youth. The songs are great and show how this type of music should be savoured. Listen using headphones to really hear outstanding performance by all.

Lighthouse - 1969 - Suite Feeling

Suite Feeling

01. Chest Fever
02. Feel So Good
03. Places On Faces Four Blue Carpet Traces
04. Could You Be Concerned
05. Presents Of Presence
06. Taking A Walk
07. Eight Loaves Of Bread
08. What Sense
09. A Day In The Life

- Paul Adamson / Trumpet
- Dick Armin / Cello
- Paul Armin / Vocals
- Bruce Cassidy / Trumpet
- Ralph Cole / Guitar, Vocals
- Pinky Dauvin / Vocals
- Don Dinovo / Viola
- Grant Fullerton / Bass, Vocals
- Paul Hoffert / Keyboards
- Russ Little / Trombone
- Myron Moskalyk / Vocals
- Skip Prokop / Guitar, Drums, Vocals
- Howard Shore / Saxophone
- Larry Smith / Trombone, Vocals
- Les Snider / Cello

Lighthouse's second album (which seems to have also born the title "Plays for peace" on at least one version) was released in 1969, a year after their debut. The sound is that of a band who are full of potential, but are still trying to find their identity and direction.

With a line up consisting of no less than 14 members including five strings players and a four man brass section, it would be reasonable to expect to be presented with an album of orchestral rock. The opening track "Chest fever" however quickly indicates that this is in fact a rock album with pop overtones. The track has a jazz rock basis, with some fine organ work by Paul Hoffert, one of the long term core members of the band. Along with drummer and band leader Skip Prokop, Hoffert is the band's principal songwriter. "Feel so good" moves further towards pop, with melodic harmonies and an upbeat melody. Pinky Dauvin's lead vocals are complemented by some excellent lead guitar played by Ralph Cole.

It is only when we get to the lengthy, bizarrely named "Places on faces four blue carpet traces" that we come to the essence of the band. This is a much looser jazz based improvisation which sees the brass section taking centre stage. Prokop feels the need to assert his status as band leader with a superfluous drum solo before Hoffert's keyboards reassert the need for a musical structure. The track then develops through a classical/jazz section with all the band members seemingly contributing. While the brass section invites comparisons with BLOOD SWEAT and TEARS and CHICAGO, the string section gives the piece a generally softer feel. Cole's guitar work is once again a highlight of the track. Drum solo notwithstanding, this track is surely one of the highlights of the album.

"Could you be concerned" returns to the lighter side, but the apparent pop sound disguises a highly intricate piece, with lush harmonies and a complex arrangement. The same can be said of the reflective "Presents of presence" where the echoed vocals are very effectively placed back in the mix allowing the delights of instrumental backing to be heard. "Taking a walk" has the feel of being a precursor to "One fine morning", a superb song which would be recorded a year later. The track includes a tasteful instrumental middle section. "Eight loves of bread" and "What sense" are similar anthemic songs along the lines of the Band's "The weight", with a positive lyrics and a high feel good factor. "What sense" has an especially notable arrangement, exploiting the full diversity of the line up.

The album closes with a cover of the Beatles "A day in the life". While the version here is faithful to the original the band successfully stamp their identity upon it. The brass fanfare after "Somebody spoke and I went into a dream" is particularly effective. A coda of "Also sprach zarathusa" is added to the end of the track.

In all, a confident second album which, while arguably struggling to find a clear direction shows the band are willing to experiment with a number of styles and sounds. Recommended.

Lighthouse - 1969 - Lighthouse


01. Mountain Man
02. If There Ever Was A Time
03. No Opportunity Necessary
04. Never Say Goodbye
05. Follow The Stars
06. Whatever Forever
07. Eight Miles High
08. Marsha Marsha
09. Ah I Can Feel It
10. Life Can Be So Simple

- Arnie Chycoski / trumpet
- Ralph Cole / guitar, vocals
- Pinky Dauvin / vocals
- Don Dinovo / viola
- Grant Fullerton / bass, vocals
- Ian Guenther / vocals
- Paul Hoffert / keyboards
- Russ Little / trombone
- Skip Prokop / guitar, drums, vocals
- Howard Shore / saxophone
- Larry Smith / trombone, vocals
- Les Snider / cello
- Fred Stone / trumpet
- Don Whitton / cello

Canadian brass rock band LIGHTHOUSE were formed in Toronto 1969. Unusually, the band leader Ronn "Skip" Prokop (born 13 December 1946 in Ontario) was a drummer, he has played previously with artists such as Janis Joplin, Carlos Santana and Al Kooper before forming his first band THE PAUPERS. Of these, the Kooper connection is probably the most significant, as the music of Lighthouse is based around a solid brass section and big arrangements, similar to those of BLOOD SWEAT AND TEARS and CHICAGO (TRANSIT AUTHORITY).

Prokop's ambitions were made clear from the outset when the first line up of Lighthouse had no less than 11 members. The were quickly picked up by RCA Victor, who release the bands self titled debut in 1969. Further albums followed quickly, but the punningly titled "Peacing it all together", their third release, would see the end of their relationship with RCA.

The move to GRT records coincided with the recruitment of vocalist Bob McBride, whose contribution to the fourth album "One fine morning" proved to be a commercial turning point for the band. The album spawned the bands first two hit singles, including the striking title track.

Prokop's penchant for jazz/fusion and classical music led to a number of live collaborations with orchestras which, when combined with the band's appearances at a number of high profile pop/rock festivals (they declined an offer to appear at Woodstock though), meant Lighthouse's fortunes continued in the ascendancy. Perhaps realising letting the band go had been a touch premature, RCA quickly put together a compilation of the material they still owned in 1971, in the form of the rather cheekily titled "One fine light" compilation. The following year, the band's first live album, the superb "Lighthouse live" was released, becoming Canada's first platinum selling album.

Singer Bob McBride would leave the band after the release of the "Sunny days" album, a time which in retrospect was the beginning of the end for the band in both commercial and creative terms. Despite the fact that it was on reality his band, Prokop left in 1974 after the next album "Good day". The rest of the band soldiered on for a while, but the soul of the band had gone, and they eventually bowed to the inevitable and split in 1976.

In 1993, the band reunited for a tour and a new album "Song of the ages". The album was not very well received by fans of the band, who felt it failed to capture the magic of the band's glory years.

Bob McBride died from substance abuse in 1998 at the age of 51. The reunited band however continues to tour.

 Recognized as one of the best performing acts of their time, they toured 300 days a year including sold out performances at Carnegie Hall, the Fillmore East, Fillmore West, Expo ‘70 in Japan and the Isle of Wight Festival in England where they were the only act besides Jimi Hendrix asked to perform twice among acts that included The Doors, Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell, The Who and Chicago. Back home, their free concerts at Toronto’s Nathan Philips Square attracted one hundred thousand people.  Indeed, it’s hard to find a person who lived in Canada through the 1970s who didn’t see the group live.  They were Canada’s band.

Free-wheeling, high-spirited – the music of Lighthouse mirrored the times. Their story is interwoven with the history of late twentieth century Canada. Their rise to fame coincided with a new awareness of Canadian culture, encouraged by the government of Pierre Elliot Trudeau. The emergence of Cancon (Canadian  content regulations) influenced by Skip Prokop’s historic appearance before Parliament, allowed the music of Canadians to be heard across the country. Riding the wave, Lighthouse originated the cross-Canada rock tour, playing every major and minor venue across the country. Devoted audiences from province to province took pride in seeing one of their own make it to the top.

On the advice of friend, folk legend Richie Havens, they took the demo to MGM Records in New York City. Twenty minutes later they had a record deal and a thirty thousand dollar advance. Two days later they had a manager – Vinnie Fusco from Albert Grossman’s office. Prokop and Hoffert were in heaven. Now all they had to do was put together a performing band.

Lighthouse made its live debut at Toronto’s Rock Pile on May 14, 1969, introduced by none other than Duke Ellington. They were an instant smash. Manager Vinnie Fusco brought them to New York to record their first album at the fabled Electric Ladyland Studios. They were in the middle of one of their sessions when Fusco cheerily popped in to announce that he had just signed the band to a hot deal with RCA records for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

This was a bit of a shock to Prokop and Hoffert who had already signed with MGM. Fusco didn’t break a sweat as he brokered a backroom deal between the two companies. This was the sixties after all: stuff happened!