Monday, November 30, 2015

Azteca - 1975 - Pyramid Of The Moon

Pyramid Of The Moon

01. Someday We'll Get By   
02. Mazatlan   
03. Find Love Today   
04. Watcha Gonna Do   
05. New Day Is On The Rise   
06. Mexicana, Mexicana   
07. Red Onions   
08. Love Is A Stranger   
09. A Night In Nazca

Errol Knowles, Wendy Haas, Rico Reyes - Vocals
Pete Escovedo - Percussion & vocals
Tom Harrell - Trumpet
Pat O'Hara - Trombone
Bob Ferreira - Tenor sax, Flute
Mel Martin - Tenor, baritone and soprano saxes, flute
Bill Courtial, Neal Schon - Guitar
George Muribus, George DiQuattro, Mike Nock - Keyboards
Flip Nunez - Organ
Paul Jackson, Tom Rutley, Tony Juncale - Bass
Lenny White, John Brinck - Drums
Coke Escovedo - Timbales
Victor Pantoja - Conga & vocals

A monstrously huge ensemble, sometimes numbering as many as 20, formed by brothers Pete and Coke Escovedo (father and nephew of Sheila E, most famous herself as an associate of Prince), Azteca put out two monster latin-jazz-rock albums on Columbia in the early 1970s: a self-titled debut, in '72, and this one, in '73. There's a link personnel wise here with my previous Courtial post, in that Coke Escovedo, Errol Knowles and Bill Courtial are on both.

Check the personnel on this album! The connections go way deep: Santana, Herbie, the west coast Latin scene. Some heavy cats, and a hip chick! What can I say but, if you're not already familiar with this excellent group, get hip! What a magical musical time this was. Azteca's debut has been reissued and can be bought new (when in stock!), albeit at a fairly steep price (it's a Jap import, put out on Sony Japan, so unless you hail from those Pacific isles you'll most likely end out paying quite a bit for carriage and excise, never mind the cost of the actual CD).

Also noteworthy is the superb artwork, by Bruce Steinberg, a real renaissance man of the funky West Coast scene (most famously associated with the mighty Tower Of Power), who sadly died fairly recently (Dec 2007). His Aztec style roundel, which the band used on both their album covers, incorporates guitars, horns and a circular keyboard motif... Moy groovy Mr Steinberg!

Azteca reformed in 2007, leading to a new album and a DVD, neither of which I've yet had the pleasure of seeing or hearing.

Azteca - 1972 - Azteca


01. La Piedra Del Sol   
02. Mamita Linda   
03. Ain't Got No Special Woman   
04. Empty Prophet   
05. Can't Take The Funk Out Of Me   
06. Peace Everybody   
07. Non Pacem   
08. Ah! Ah!   
09. Love Not Then   
10. Azteca   
11. Theme: La Piedra Del Sol   

12. Ain't Got No Special Woman (Single Version)
13. Mamita Linda (Single Version)

- Pete Escovedo: vocals
- Coke Escovedo: timbales
- Victor Pantoja: conga drums, vocals
- George Moribus: electric piano
- Flip Nunez: organ
- George De Quattro: piano, clavinet
- Paul Jackson: bass, vocals
- Lenny White: drums, vocals
- Jim Vincent: guitar
- Neal Schon: guitar (on 3, 5 6)
- Jules Rowell: valve trombone
- Tom Harrell: trumpet
- Bob Ferreira: piccolo, tenor sax
- Mel Martin: saxophones, flute, piccolo
- Errol Knowles: vocals
- Wendy Haas: vocals
- Rico Reyes: vocals

Azteca was a Latin jazz-rock-fusion group formed in 1972, started by Coke Escovedo and his brother Pete Escovedo, who had played on Santana III (1971). Azteca was the first large-scale attempt to combine multiple musical elements in the context of a Latin orchestra setting, and featured horns, woodwinds, multiple keyboards, three vocalists, guitars, drums, and multiple Latin percussionists.

Onstage, the band consisted of between 15-25 members, and toured with acts including Stevie Wonder. Other notable Azteca members included drummer Lenny White, bassist Paul Jackson, vocalist Wendy Haas, trumpeter Tom Harrell, guitarist Neal Schon, vocalist Errol Knowles and percussionist Victor Pantoja. The group was also a musical starting point for Latin percussionist Sheila E. (the daughter of Pete Escovedo), who appeared with the band as a teenager. They released only two albums between 1972-1973.

This is a great little lost gem of the early 70's, combining juicy Funk with Santana-esque Latin influenced Rock. Overall it's a solid release with no bad tracks and a good cohesion and musicianship throughout, but little stands out until near the end of side two when the amazingly catchy and feelgood Love Not Then comes on, which is one of my most favourite obscure finds ever. The whole LP is worth getting just for this track.

Archie Whitewater - 1970 - Archie Whitewater

Archie Whitewater 
Archie Whitewater

 01. Don't Be Short
02. Northstar
03. Mist Of The Early Morning
04. Life Is A River
05. Friends And Neighbors
06. Country To The City
07. Home Again
08. Cross Country
09. Lament For The Walking Dead
10. Seacoast
11. Hulk

Fred Johnson - vocals
Paul Metzke - guitar
Robert "Bob" Berkowitz - keyboards
Tony Vece - bass
Jim Abbott - drums
Travis Jenkins - tenor saxophone, flute, vocals
Sam Burtis - trombone
Lynn Sheffield - alto saxophone, vibes
Peter LaBarbera - vibes
Cale Scott - cello

The self-titled (and only) release from Archie Whitewater is something of a sought-after diggers piece. Originally released back in 1970 on the influential Cadet Concept label, the album mixed rock with jazz fusion and a bit of psychedelics for a sound that was not only eclectic, but also revolutionary. The many different styles represented gel together in an uncanny way for an ultimately relaxed listening experience from beginning to end. Lab Heads that have been down since the beginning will immediately recognize "Cross Country" from the Monk 7" on Money Studies (Monk was way ahead of the edit curve with that one), but here you get the track in its original form. It's easily the highlight of the album, a laidback jazz groover perfect for the headphones on that long drive/walk home. Remastered and pressed on high quality vinyl with top notch label and cover art reproductions from Get On Down.

Can you imagine paying $100,000 for a group and then hiding it away for over a year?" So ran the first line in an article about Archie Whitewater back in August 1970. in the Free Lance-Star newspaper out of Fredericksburg. Virginia. "Well, that's exactly what Chess Records did with the group..." Not that Chess's eventual publicity campaign made stars out of the nine musicians in the band. In fact. Archie Whitewater's lone album for Chess's cool spin-off label Cadet Concept, is a best-kept secret among collectors - and this reissue, remastered from the original tapes, marks its first-ever appearance on CD.

Copies of Archie Whitewater now sell for upwards of £100. fuelled chiefly by the plethora of funky drum breaks and beats scattered across the album. The album's most acknowledged track is probably 'Cross Country', a mellow funk track with some sublime electronic piano and serene vocals, because it was exhumed by Chicago hip-hop artist Common (or Common Sense. as he then called himself) for the track 'Chapter 13 (Rich Man Vs Poor Man)' on his second album Resurrection from 1994.

Another Archie Whitewater song. 'Hulk', was borrowed by 90s New York hip-hop act Blahzay Blahzay. Other rap artists followed suit, usually recycling some aspect of 'Cross Country' within their music. Since the 90s. the cult status of Archie Whitewater's sole album has grown steadily: a quick glance at websites like Popsike reveals just how many copies of the album have sold for silly money on eBay and the record is praised by numerous blogs which pride themselves on their crate digging credentials.

And yet despite the plethora of information now available about myriad acts via the internet, precious little has been documented about their story.  Simply put, Archie Whitewater adopted the big band 'horn rock' mould pioneered by the likes Blood Sweat  And Tears in the late sixties, fusing elements or funk soul. psychedelic rock and jazz into their songs. Also some debate dwelt on their possible association with other acts on the Cadet Concept labels  (namely Rotary Connection and the productions of Charles Stepney) or even  whether they were black or white.

Archie Whitewater captures a period in American music when musicians adopted a carefree approach to combining their influences. In so doing, they created some idyllic music which sounds unrestrained by the usual straitjacket imposed on artists on major labels. After some forty years. RPM is proud to usher this fine record into the digital age.
by John Reed. November 2011

Hammak - 1971 - LIve!


01 When You Dance I Can Really Love
02 Theme For An Imaginary Western
03 Don't Let It Bring You Down
04 Empty Pages
05 Fire And Rain
06 Jam (Keith Lentin/ Mike Faure/ Midge Pike/ Anton Fig)

Recorded live at the Cape Town City Hall 16th June 1970 or 1971

Henry Barenblatt: keyboards
Anton Fig: drums
Mike Faure: sax
Midge Pike: bass
André de Villiers: guitar, vocals
Keith Lentin: guitar

Mandy Cohen: vocals
(also known as Amanda Cohen and Amanda Blue Leigh)
Nicholas Pike: flute

1971, Cameo, CAM 1039 (Only 500 Copies Pressed)

This was South Africa's first 'super-group'. the original mixing wasn't great (Graham Beggs attempted to remedy some of it) but this gives one an idea of what was going down in Cape Town in '70.
One of our regulars requested it, so here it is... Anton Fig before he became drummer of the stas!

Horn - 1972 - On the People's Side

On the People's Side


01. Things in Themselves: 3:48
    a. Things in Themselves Part One
    b. Intermission
    c. Voice of the Lonely Man
    d. Things in Themselves Part Two
02. Free All My Brothers and Sisters 2:33
03. Roach: 2:25
    a. Roach
    b. A March
04.  Vibrations / Vee-bra'-syohn: 4:29
    a. Vibrations
    b. Johnny Guitar Plays Childrens Music
05. Pony Buns: 9:36
     a. a
     b. 3 Blows
     c. Je pense mieux sous le tapis
     d. Goof the Truth
     e. The Buzz
     f. Musicatto
06. Working Together: 5:52
     a. Song 
     b. Dance
07. On the Peoples Side 5:39

Bass – Alan Duffy
Drums – Bill Bryans
Graphics – Jim McConnell
Guitar – Bruce Burron, Gary Hynes
Keyboards – David deLaunay
Lead Vocals – Les Clackett
Producer – Alan Duffy, Bill Bryans, Horn
Recorded By, Mixed By – Brock Fricker
Trumpet – Wayne Jackson

I just tried to find some information on the internet about this album and found nothing more than what is written on the album.

Coming from Toronto however I was at my favourite bar, favourite at the time, and I happened to meet a real rounder, a man who'd been on the fringe of everything forever. He was a bike courier and was around during the early days of City TV and having said so I asked him if he knew anything about this album. On the back of this album the band thank Moses Znaimer, the man all Torontonians know as the president of City TV ... even though the station was the brainchild of a woman by the name of Phyllis Switzer who NEVER gets mentioned ... and I was wondering what the connection was. Moses had been a talking head on TV and had alot of charm and presence and Phyllis made him president of City TV and herself vice.

This old rounder told me a strange tail about the late sixties and radical Trotskyists who were publishing a rag just down the street from City TV's new headquarters inside the old Electric Circus nightclub at 99 Queen St. East and one of the main Trotskyists was a man who went by the name Horn. They held most of their benefit parties inside the old nightclub and my new drinkin' buddy seems to remember that they also had a band. He went on to explain the Trotskyist roots of City TV but it all gets a bit blurry in my head, that and BOY ... could this guy name drop!
(Just as a side I thought I'd mention that City TV went bankrupt in it's first three years and was bought by the richest family in Canada, the Bromfmen family, the same family British trip-hop star M.I.A. is now a part of. In 1978 City TV was then bought by CHUM and is now partially owned by CTV, the mouthpiece for the Conservative Party, and Ted Rogers Jr. whom I went to school with. CTV allowed MTV to gobble up MuchMusic ... and it now SUCKS SO BAD!)

As there is no one in the band named Horn, nor is any one by the name of Horn quoted or mentioned, Horn might have been a nickname for one of the musicians appearing here ... or not.

The album "On the People's Side" certainly has leftist roots and 1972 is the year City TV went on the air.

Musically it's a glorious wash of jazzy groves sunk in a progressive plum sauce with lyrics about the peoples movement. Wonderfully tight production with little effects. Some seem to think this sounds like The Mother's of Invention but there was so much happening in music in the early 70's that I'm sure you could say they sound like other bands as well. To me, they sound like Horn.
Bill Bryans (drums), Wayne Jackson (trumpet)

The name HORN comes from the recording studio where the album was recorded - Rochdale College's SoundHORN studio. The band was originally called Theodore's Smokeshop...and were told to find something a little more drummer Billy Bryans (yes, he of future Parachute Club fame) chose the second part of the studio's name, HORN. Moses Znaimer's connection was that he owned the label they were signed to - Special Records.

Granmax - 1978 - Kiss Heaven Goodbye

Kiss Heaven Goodbye

01. Mistress of Eternity 4:21
02. Dream Woman 2:51
03. Daughter of Hell 4:41
04. It's Worth the Wait 3:05
05. Prince of the Southern Ice 4:31
06. This Life's for Me 4:52
07. Respected Man 3:30
08. Travels of Tim 3:31

Nick Christopher (lead vocals, percussion)
Louis McCorkle (drums, percussion)
Steve Myers (guitar, vocals)
Tim McCorkle (bass, vocals)

I don’t usually write much about straight ahead hard rock albums, but this one struck me as better than most (unlike their debut “Ninth Alive”, which is far more tepid). For 1978 this rocks hard and has some riffing that you may have only found on a Judas Priest album (“Stained Class”) at this early date. Pretty much non stop heavy rock, and no pub and boogie rockers to drag it down as is typical for albums such as this.

Granmax - 1976 - A Ninth Alive

A Ninth Alive

01. Take You Away
02. U.S. Is Coming Around
03. Crumbling Towers
04. Bankers Bar
05. Find a New Day
06. Out on the Tide
07. Ceiling Wall
08. Glitter Boots Boogie
09. Let Me Know
10. Letters to Myself

Nick Christopher [Chaz Nikias] (lead vocals, percussion)
Louis McCorkle (drums, percussion)
Steve Myers (guitar, vocals)
Tim McCorkle (bass, vocals)

Omaha, Nebraska was home to 70's hard rock quartet Granmax. Formed in early 1975, the band gained quite a bit of exposure throughout the midwest which culminated in the release of "A Ninth Alive" on Pacific Records in 1976. By the end of the year, the band signed with Panama Records and their debut was reissued to reasonable success in the region. The band tirelessly gigged throughout the midwest for nearly two years, picking up slots on numerous tours before the addition of frontman, Nick Christopher.

Revived and rejuvenated, the band entered the studio in early 1978 to record their sophomore album, "Kiss Heaven Goodbye". With a clearly harder edged sound, the band once again saturated the midwest with promotional gigs and a full tour, but audiences just weren't biting. The band returned to the studio to cut a third album, but things began to unravel during the sessions and Granmax came to a screeching halt before it could be completed. The post breakup activities of the members is unknown.

One listen to this album and you'll be scratching your head wondering why there's so much fervor over Granmax. Most likely it is due to their legendary followup album from 1978, as this release is a rather pedestrian exercise in one dimensional hard rock. Sure the musicianship is tight enough and the production isn't all that horrible, but the songwriting is terribly unoriginal and plodding. The average vocals do virtually nothing to help either. To their credit, there are many ideas that begin so well, only to fall flat by their conclusion. Ranging from hard boogie to folk rock to proto metal, Granmax never quite manage to manifest their ideas into anything memorable. However, since their 2nd album seems to get all of the attention online, it's only fair to offer up this relic for your judgement.