Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Yahowa 13 - 1974 - To The Principles For The Children

Yahowa 13
To The Principles For The Children

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

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

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

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

Yahowa 13
I'm Gonna Take You Home

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

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

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

Yahowa 13 - 1974 - Penetration - An Aquarian Symphony

Yahowa 13 
Penetration - An Aquarian Symphony

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

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

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

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

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

Yahowa 13 - 1974 - Savage Sons Of Yahowa

Yahowa 13 
Savage Sons Of Yahowa

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

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

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

Yahowa 13 - 1974 - Yahowa 13

Yahowa 13
Yahowa 13

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

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

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

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

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

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

09. Lady
10. Do Me
11. Woman

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

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

Father Yod And The Spirit Of '76

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

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

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

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

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

Father Yod And The Spirit Of '76 

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

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

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

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

Father Yod And The Spirit Of '76

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Wally - 1975 - Valley Gardens

Valley Gardens

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wally - 1974 - Wally


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tripsichord Music Box - 1971 - Tripsichord

Tripsichord Music Box 

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

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

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

The Travel Agency - 1968 - The Travel Agency

The Travel Agency
The Travel Agency

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Facedancers - 1972 - The Facedancers

The Facedancers 
The Facedancers

01. Little Waterfall - 7:24
02. Dreamer's Lullabye - 5:47
03. Nightmare - 3:12
04. Jewels - 4:00
05. Let The Music Set You Free - 5:26
06. Children - 8:27
07. Beta - 6:08

The Facedancers
*Barry Armour - Bass, Guitar
*Dale Armour - Flute, Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
*Scats Bloom - Harmonica, Percussion, Vocals
*Michael Loy - Drums, Percussion
*Kelley Moko - Guitar, Vocals

The Facedancers were a progressive/jazz-rock band signed to Paramount Records in the 1970’s. They recorded one full length studio album with legendary producer Teo Macero (Miles Davis). Though the band and their album have built a cult following, The Facedancers remain a mysterious treasure in the hearts of progressive rock fans around the world.

The Philadelphia based band consisted of brothers Barry (bass, guitar) and Dale Armour (keyboard, flute, guitar, vocals), Warren Bloom (lead vocals, harmonica, percussion), Roger Kelly (guitar, vocals), and Michael Loy (drums). Originally a comedy-rock group called Lobotomy, they became the house band in the last year of the Second Fret Coffeehouse in Philadelphia. No longer strictly a comedy act, in 1971 they changed their name to The Facedancers just before making their self-titled album on Paramount Records in 1972.

The album was produced by jazz saxophonist and producer Teo Macero, at Blue Rock Studios in the Soho district of NYC in the summer of 1972, using 100 hours of studio time. Macero was concurrently producing Miles Davis' "Bitches Brew" for Columbia records, so this was a moonlighting job for him. In those days if someone insisted that the group label their music, they answered with "jazz-rock", though they didn't consider it jazz.

The group's musical influences were eclectic. Kelly and Bloom were lovers of rock'n'roll, R&B and blues (Bloom admired Smoky Robinson in particular). The Armours' father was a pianist who had played in swing bands, and taught the boys classical, stride and swing. They liked Bill Evans and Dave Brubeck. The brothers had also studied classical guitar, and Dale was self-taught on flute and sitar.

Development was intentionally somewhat musically isolated. Not many record albums were played at the band house - some Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Charlie Parker and Dizzie Gillespie, John Cage. There was still the overwhelming influence of the Beatles. There was no concern for "danceability", so they played with time signatures. When too hungry and obliged to take a dance gig, they covered the Rolling Stones for fun.
by Michelle Armour, Philadelphia

Samson - 1969 - Are You Samson

Are You Samson

01. Traffic - 3:24
02. Sleep - 2:20
03. Journey - 3:10
04. Fair - 8:43
05. The End Song - 4:40
06. Mars - 4:45
07. Venus - 2:56
08. Saturn - 3:49
09. For by Sam Poem - 4:21

10. Wool & Water - 4:21

Mike Delaney Drums
Norman Findley Organ
Paul Ford Trumpet
Les Jones Guitar
Ian Kewley French Horn
Les Olbinson Percussion

Originally released in November 1969 on Andrew Loog Oldham's subsidiary to his failing Immediate, Samson sank without trace, which was about as much as could be expected. Oldham's seemingly careless attitude of not even releasing a single to wet the record buyer's appetite however is now easier understood: Immediate was at its end; within weeks of Samson's debut release Oldham's empire went bankrupt! As the band were eagerly recording their carefully calculated work, Oldham had a lot more to worry about than whether the next album released on his subsidiary would be a big seller. With little assistance from the label, and practically no promotion, it's not surprising that the album had such low sales figures. But the poor turnover of this admittedly tackily sleeved album is by no means an indicator of the music contained within. Samson brought into their music a successful blend of harmonies which sound akin to the Gregorian psych-era choral vocal parts of the Pretty Things and the Zombies, a touch of Deep Purple circa Shades of Purple, and a hint of the increasingly popular concept album. For sake of classification, their blending of Kinks-ish psych-pop with more progressive elements is befitting of the title progressive pop -- a contemporary handle used to describe everything from the Fox's For Fox Sake, Caravan's early work, and fellow north country lads the Koobas' 1969 album. If the later songs compiled on the superb Rubbles series appeal to you, Samson are well worth investigating.

Sabattis - 1970 - Warning In The Sky

Warning In The Sky

01. Everyday Is Cool - 4:18
02. Crystal Mirror - 5:04
03. Warning In The Sky - 6:44
04. Conversation With Billy - 8:14
05. The Devil's In You - 2:45
06. Bought And Sold - 3:14
07. Green Glass And All That Jazz - 2:38

*Jim Martin - Guitar, Vocals
*Rocky Raler – Bass
*Gary Culotta - Keyboards, Vocal
*Larry Wegman – Drums

The music industry is a fickle bitch; a rocky road littered with the broken hearts, souls, and limbs of those trying to get to the Promised Land. Once upon a time — 1968 to be precise — in Rochester, a hard-rockin' psychedelic outfit called Sabattis came to be. The band members, all in their late teens, mirrored what was going on in music at the time with its exploratory darkness, picturesque lyrics, and loose renderings of tight arrangements. In its brief history, Sabattis shared the bill with other local bands like Rain, and The Red, White, and Blues Band, as well as national biggies like Savoy Brown. It made appearances at local venues like The Club on Gould Street, area high schools, and colleges and Highland Bowl where the band played for 10,000 fans. In 1970, the band landed in the studio to record seven tracks in the hopes of getting noticed and signed with a major label. But the labels didn't come a-knockin' and the band eventually fell apart. The end, or...

Enter vintage music aficionado and Saxon Studios capo, Dave Anderson. Anderson got his hands on the original tapes from band members and insisted on pressing it on his Jargon Records label as part of Jargon's Time Capsule Series. Some 40-odd years later you can finally dig Sabattis' "Warning In The Sky." It's got a heavy Grand Funk Railroad drive and feel, a churchy organ that calls to mind Deep Purple's Jon Lord, and guitar riffs reminiscent off early Alice Cooper without the pomp and camp. It's a swell slice of Rochester music history, and a reminder to young bands still in hot pursuit of that elusive golden carrot on a stick that it may take a while. The album is definitely worth the wait.

Us hard rock quartet recorded their only in March 1970 in New York,  but it remained unreleased until March 2011. Tight sound with sharp guitar and stunning organ. The recordings were transferred from a 1/4 Reel tape that had been dubbed from the original master tape. There are some tape drop-outs biss and warble issues from time to time, this because of the quality and condition of source material.

Rust Underground - 1969 - Come With Me

Rust Underground 
Come With Me

01. Come With Me (Introduction) - ;36
02. You Thought You Had It Made (Jonny Thomas) - 3:34
03. Please Return - 2:37
04. Should I - 3:31
05. Think Big - 3:57
06. Rust - 3:33
07. Delusion (Jonny Thomas) - 2:45
08. Doesn't Add Up To Me - 3:36
09. Find A Hideaway (Jonny Thomas) - 3:38
10. Come With Me -  4:25
11. The Endless Struggle - 2:32
All songs by B. Hillmann, W. Monahan except where noted.

*Jonny Thomas - Guitar, Vocals
*Brian Hillmann - Drums
*Walter "Walt" Monahan - Bass

Not to be confused with a similar named Texas-based outfit, this short-lived late-1960s trio reflected the joys of multi-national cooperation - Brian Hillmann and Walt Monaghan were from the UK; Jonny Thomas was Australian and the trio somehow ended up recorded their sole 1969 LP for the German Hor Zu German label.

Featuring all original material (all three members contributed songs), 1969's "Come with Me" was interesting in a spot-the-influence kind of way.  The LP liner notes (printed in English and German) didn't include performance credits, but all of the singers were good with the guitarist displaying a nice penchant for fuzz guitar (check out the solo on 'Should I').  Musically the set wasn't particularly original offering up a period piece mixture of English R&B (the Cream-ish 'Delusion'), psych, and hard rock moves.  Moreover, whatever it lacked in terms of creativity was more than compensated for via the enthusiastic performances and an uncanny knack for catchy melodies.  Songs like the opening title track snippet and the rocker 'You Thought You Had It Made' should've appealed to both the underground crowd and top-40 radio.  The ballad 'Find a Hideaway' should have been a major radio hit.  The band were also interesting when they took off in a more experimental direction including 'Think Big' (offering up a weird mixture of effects and a Western epic feel) and 'Doesn't Add Up To Me'.  Elsewhere the psych touches embellishing 'Please Return' and 'Rust' would have sounded fine on a Small Faces LP.  One has to wonder what would have happened had they recorded for an American or UK label.   (Always loved the back cover photo of the trio posing on German police motorcycles.)

Rust is the real deal. Originally recorded in 1969, their album, Come With Me, is something of a lost mini-classic. Originally released on the independent German label Hor Zu, and bringing it to light in the early 21st century.

Great, psychedelic rock tunes are embellished with phased vocals, treated piano, samples of radio broadcasts, washes of organ, and electronic effects. Mind you, this isn't total freak out music, or anything. Songs like You Thought You Had It Made and Rust revel in blues licks, and rock with a genuine joy, even if the subject matter of their lyrics is somewhat pessimistic, and softer tunes like Please Return and the gorgeous Find a Hideaway are full of acoustic guitars and vocal harmonies.

For a reference point, listening to it I hear a lot of The Deviants, with touches of the 13th Floor Elevators. It's melodic rock that likes to experiment.

Rock Workshop - 1971 - The Very Last Time

Rock Workshop 
The Very Last Time

01. Living Reason — 4:13
02. Street War (Pt. 1 & 2) — 9:13
03. Going Home — 5:43
04. What’s Mine Is Mine — 2:55
05. Wheeping Wood Mandalas — 1:52
06. Forgotten How To Live — 4:00
07. Light As Light — 3:50
08. I Think It’s… — 4:02
09. Ella Banta Dum Bundy — 6:23
10. Very Last Time — 3:31
11. Is This The End…Baby? — 0:52

12. Let My Bluebird Sing (vocals Alex Harvey) — 4:04
13. Wade In The Water (vocals Alex Harvey) — 3:42
14. Ice Cold (vocals Alex Harvey) — 3:05
15. Heavy Weather — 4:39
16. Patterns — 2:45
17. Watch Your Step — 4:16
18. Ashen Besher — 5:29

Ray Russell — guitar
Alan Greed & Alex Harvey — vocals
Bud Parkes — trumpet
Harry Beckett — trumpet, flugelhorn
Tony Roberts — tenor, concert flute, alto flute
Bob Downes — tenor, concert flute, alto flute
Derek Wadsworth — trombone
Brian Miller — keyboards
Daryl Runswick — bass
Alan Rushton — drums
Robin Jones — drums, congas

It’s probably accurate to claim that Rock Workshop couldn’t exist today. Only during the early seventies did record labels bestow upon bands the flexibility and freedom that led to the creation of such original and often avant-garde albums.

Rock Workshop were just such an innovative project. The band formed in 1970 when guitarist Ray Russell (who had previously worked with Georgie Fame And The Blue Flames) colluded with the legendary singer Alex Harvey. Russell had first met Harvey after standing in for Harvey’s brother Leslie (of Stone The Crows) in the musical ‘Hair’ (at a tender age).

Their shared enthusiasm in producing more left-field material enabled them to recruit a sprawling band of twelve members that included a lively brass section.

Their debut album ‘Rock Workshop’ was recorded over a two-day period in April 1970, and released soon afterwards, though it surprisingly failed to make any substantial impact on the charts. Containing such tracks as ‘Hole In Her Stocking’ and ‘Born In The City’- both delivered with Alex Harvey’s hefty vocals- and it remains fresh even today.

Yet the record label was sufficiently impressed with the debut to fund a second album.

Regrettably, by the time of the recording of the second album, Alex Harvey had effectively left the band in order to pursue his own career (with the first of many Sensational Alex Harvey Band albums being released in 1972).

Replacing Harvey were Al Greed (who had sung on a number of the songs on the first album) and the somewhat mysterious figure of Ginger who only worked with the band on this record.

This release is enhanced by the inclusion of some previously unreleased material, which Russell has recently unearthed, that were recorded in the period between the first and second album.

“Well, these are tracks that I didn’t know that I had. I found the tapes, along with a few photos of Alex, in the bottom of a box in my loft,” he smiles. “I’m actually amazed that the tapes have survived so long as they were left out in my barn for ages!”

Including rehearsals (with Harvey on vocals) of tracks such as ‘Wade In The Water’ and ‘Ice Cold’ along with live material recorded at London’s Goldsmiths College they provide a valuable insight into how the band arranged and performed their material in a live setting.

Rock Workshop - 1970 - Rock Workshop

Rock Workshop 
Rock Workshop

01. Ice Cold — 2:58
02. Wade In The Water — 3:46
03. Hole In Her Stocking — 4:09
04. He Looks At Me/Mooncross Grove — 10:19
05. Spine Cop — 3:48
06. Born In The City — 3:02
07. Theme For Freedom — 7:35
08. You To Lose — 6:42
09. Spine Cop (Alt Version) — 3:51
10. Hole In Her Stocking (Alt Version) — 5:31
11. Born In The City (Alt Version) — 2:47
12. You To Lose (Alt Version) — 5:26
13. Primrose Hill — 5:41
14. Return Of The Goddess — 5:41

Ray Russell — guitar
Alan Greed & Alex Harvey — vocals
Bud Parkes — trumpet
Harry Beckett — trumpet, flugelhorn
Tony Roberts — tenor, concert flute, alto flute
Bob Downes — tenor, concert flute, alto flute
Derek Wadsworth — trombone
Brian Miller — keyboards
Daryl Runswick — bass
Alan Rushton — drums
Robin Jones — drums, congas

Lead Guitarist and principal songwriter RAY RUSSELL had been gigging with Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames when he met ALEX HARVEY (later of The Sensational Alex Harvey Band) with his younger brother Lesley Harvey (lead guitarist with Stone The Crows) both of whom were playing in the musical "Hair" in London.

Out of this meeting of likeminded musicians came the collaborative free-basing British band ROCK WORKSHOP - a very Chicago/Blood Sweat & Tears first-album brass-driven 11-man fusion outfit (like a more guitar-mad C.C.S.) that managed two UK albums on CBS Records in 1970 and 1971. Both of these platters sank without a trace and have been very hard to find every since. Harvey would of course sign to Vertigo Records and start a run of highly successful albums and chart action (later LPs on Mooncrest).

The band's second lead vocalist was ALAN GREED. Greed had been with Harsh Reality who had a lone Prog Rock album called "Heaven And Hell" released in 1969 on Philips SBL 7891. After Rock workshop failed - Greed went on to be with the band The Running Man who managed one self-titled LP on RCA's Progressive Rock Neon label (NE 11). The other notable in Rock Workshop was flutist BOB DOWNES - a Fusion heavyweight whose cult status amongst collectors and aficionados has long since been the very stuff of collectability.

However - this 'Angel Air Records' CD Reissue and Remaster is not without its problems as other reviewers have noted - but I'd argue that it’s still worth checking out. Here are the wigged-out details...

UK released October 2002 - "Rock Workshop" by ROCK WORKSHOP on Angel Air SJPCD132 (Barcode 5055011701328) is an 'Expanded Edition' CD Reissue and Remaster with Six Bonus Tracks that pans out as follows (71:16 minutes):

For some reason that's never explained - the original British LP's track list has been messed around with for this CD Reissue. Released June 1970 on CBS Records S 64075 (No US issue) - it should have been configured as follows:

Side 1:
1. You To Lose (Ray Russell/R Cameron song)
2. Wade In The Water (Ramsey Lewis cover - arranged Ray Russell)
3. Primrose Hill (Them For Jake) (Ray Russell/R Shepherd song)
4. Theme For Freedom (Ray Russell song)
Side 2:
1. Spine (Ray Russell song)
2. Ice Cold (Ray Russell/R Shepherd song)
3. Hole In Her Stocking (Ray Russell/Alex Harvey song)
4. He Looks At Me (Ray Russell song)
5. Mooncross Grove (Ray Russell song)

Quatrain - 1969 - Quatrain


01. Fragments - 4:14
02. Unconquered Islands - 3:17
03. Flowing Robes - 3:20
04. Fields of Love - 2:26
05. Canyon Women - 1:22
06. Rollin - 3:09
07. Black Lily - 3:23
08. Early Morning Company - 2:54
09. Ask Me No Questions (Steve Lindsay) - 2:58
10. Try To Live Again - 3:00
11. Masquerade (Don Senneville) - 2:42
12. The Tree - 5:36
13. Towering Buildings - 4:19
14. So Much For Royalty - 3:57
15. Unforeseen Regrets - 4:43
16. When Will You Happen to Me (Don Senneville, Jim Lekas) - 4:21
17. Let You Go - 3:14
18. Sun Came Up - 4:48
19. Get A Life - 4:06
20. Ghosts Over the Sunset Strip - 4:59
All compositions by Jim Lekas, except where indicaded.
Tracks 13-20  Previously Unissued

*Don Senneville - Lead Guitar
*Steve "Buff" Lindsay - Bass Guitar
*Eric Pease - Rhythm Guitar
*Jim Lekas - Drums

Back in 1968, Tetragrammaton Records of Beverly Hills, Bill Cosby’s label, released a local Los Angeles group’s only recorded album, Quatrain. The group consisted of Don Senneville, one of Los Angeles’ more creative lead guitarists, Steve Lindsay on bass guitar, Rick Pease on rhythm guitar, and Jim Lekas on drums. The record album was produced and engineered by the late David Briggs, Neil Young’s producer for many years.

Those of us who were fortunate enough to be part of the excitement and enchantment of Los Angeles’ psychedelic and popular music movement between 1964 and 1969 gaze back glowingly and longingly upon those halcyon and magical times. Quatrain was part of the flow and pulse of the musical weaves in those politically and socially turbulent, but equally carefree and provocative moments in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles was truly something in the 1960s: Open, creative, still innocent, but growing bolder and openly seeking new musical and sociological paths.  The Watts Riots, the Sunset Strip music scene, love-ins, sit-ins, free love, drugs, and the Laurel and Topanga Canyon scenes marked the bright side.  Viet Nam dragged on, and Armstrong would soon walk on the Moon.

But the foreboding and chilling event that marked the culmination of the 1960s was the rude awakening brought about by the Tate and Labianca tragedies. Innocence in Los Angeles had been forever lost, and Quatrain went through the changes warily, like everyone else in the summer of 1969.

Quatrain was a garage band out of the San Fernando Valley and was originally formed in 1963 as The Fourth Shadow by founding members Senneville and Pease, with Lekas joining to play drums and sing in November of 1964 after a stint as an aerospace worker and part-time surf band drummer. Pease was a talented folk musician and excellent writer, as was Senneville.

Bassist Mark Johnson and guitarist Bruce Epstein were added in early 1965 to complete the first version of the quartet after Pease had gone off to the military. The group was mostly a cover band then.

Tireless promoter and personal manager Billy Marcot provided direction and early gigs for the foursome. Roger “Turk” Anderson and a young but sagacious Russ Deck were the group’s spiritual advisors and close associates. The group, still called The Fourth Shadow at the time, covered a lot of British Invasion material, with the usual au fait and de rigueur black turtlenecks and sport coats. School hops, parties, and beer bars were typical venues for The Fourth Shadow.

From 1965 to 1967, personnel changed periodically and the band’s name changed several times. Other members in the Quatrain evolution included guitarist Tim “Rainbow” Bell, lead singer Cary Brent, backup singer Doug Webb, and most importantly, Steve “Buff” Lindsay, bassist from the popular San Fernando Valley rock group The Boss Tweeds. Lindsay became a solid part of the group on bass, replacing the departing Mark Johnson.

In 1966, the group, then known as The Berries, which was at the time holding court as the house band at The Middle Earth on Ventura Boulevard in Reseda, was signed by Doubleshot Records of Hollywood, but nothing materialized except for a national Pillsbury radio jingle for “Gorilla Milk,” a breakfast mix product that went nowhere, much like two singles released on Doubleshot by The Human Jungle, as the boys were known, with Joe Hooven and Hal Wynn as producers. Wynn and Hooven had previously struck gold with The Count Five’s “Psychotic Reaction,” and Brenton Wood with “The Oogum-Boogum Song” and “Gimme Little Sign.”

The band was booked by Doubleshot to play a dance in Pasadena as The Plastic Zoo, and the embarrassment of performing under that name for one gig was obviated by the opportunity to share the bill as one of five groups with the then just-formed, talented, and up and coming Three Dog Night.

The Plastic Zoo and The Human Jungle experiments, and the affiliation with Doubleshot Records, ended as quickly as they had begun, and the boys thankfully returned to playing clubs around Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley as The Berries.

In 1967, Lekas suggested “Quatrain” as a new name after spending a few weeks reading the quatrains of Omar Khayam. The group agreed to the change, and the new name stuck.

Ocean - 1972 - Give Tomorrow's Children One More Chance

1972 -
Give Tomorrow's Children One More Chance

01. Things Im Going Through
02. One More Chance
03. Its Just Another Whistle Stop
04. Wild Country
05. Hosanna
06. Make The Sun Shine
07. Mud Island
08. Helplessly Hoping
09. You Make Me Feel Like (A Natural Woman)
10.Funnier Man

*Janice Morgan - Vocals
*Greg Brown - Keyboards, Vocals
*Jeff Jones - Bass, Vocals
*Dave Tamblyn - Guitar, Vocals
*Chuck Slater - Drums

The group's origins stem from when highschool friends guitarist Dave Tamblyn and keyboardist Greg Brown grew up in London, Ontario playing in a number of bands on the weekends, finally settling in as Leather and Lace, which featured Janice Morgan on vocals. They moved to Yorkville and became staples on the folk scene through the rest of the decade, eventually settling on a lineup that included Jeff Jones on bass and drummer Chuck Slater.

They were signed to Yorkville Records in 1970 who got them a distribution deal with Capitol. They released their debut PUT YOUR HAND IN THE HAND, the title track to an upbeat that owed much of its stylistic origin to pure hand-clapping gospel that Gene MacLellan had originally written for Anne Murray, who coincidentally also was on Capitol's label. Although Murray recorded the song two years before Ocean, the song was buried on her album and received no attention from executives.

Ocean, meanwhile, saw the song released as their first single while they still played high school dances and night clubs around Toronto. That soon changed, and the band began playing to crowds across North America, into Europe, and appeared on just about every Hit Parade type of TV show on the air. The song eventually topped Canada's charts and reached number 2 in the US, selling well over a million copies in the process.

The album was predominantly written by outsiders, and other noteable tracks included "The One Who's Left" - another MacLellan composition, a cover of The Band's "Stones I Throw," and their rendition of the gospel standard "Will The Circle Be Unbroken." "Deep Enough For Me" and "We've Got A Dream" followed up the charts, both cracking the top 40 before year's end. Following a highly successful world tour, they returned home amid allegations of missing funds compliments of management.

Still with Yorkville, they scored a distribution deal with Kama Sutra Records in 1972. They returned to the studios in Toronto, and released their follow-up "Give Tomorrow's Children One More Chance" later that year. The band tried to veer away from the easy listening gospel formula for success that made them overnight sensations only a year and a half earlier, though still just as preachy in their own way.

The music on the second album moved away from the gospel sound towards more of a folk pop sound. Once again the songs were the highlight of the album, written by some of the best in the business including, Robbie Robertson and Richard Manual (The Band), Cook and Greenway, Steven Stills, Carole King and others. Despite the strong songs on the album, Ocean only managed to score a minor hit in Canada with the song "One More Chance" and were subsequently dropped by the label.

Ocean - 1971 - Put Your Hand In The Hand

Put Your Hand In The Hand

01. Put Your Hand In The Hand 2:54
02. Pleasure Of Your Company 3:18
03. We Got A Dream 3:45
04. Deep Enough For Me 3:10
05. Will The Circle Be Unbroken 4:27
06. The One Who's Left 2:49
07. Stones I Throw 4:10
08. No Other Woman 4:03

Greg Brown (vocals, keyboard)
Jeff Jones (bass, vocals)
Janice Morgan (guitar, vocals)
Dave Tamblyn (guitar)
Chuck Slater (drums)

This debut album by the Canadian band Ocean contains and was named after the bands' biggest single, "Put Your Hand in the Hand," that sold over one million copies in 1971 in both America and Canada. This gospel rock band comprised of Greg Brown (vocals, keyboard), Jeff Jones (bass, vocals), Janice Brown (guitar, vocals ), Dave Tamblyn (guitar), and Chuck Slater (drums) recorded in Toronto in the early '70s and originally released the debut album on the highly collectable Yorkville label in Canada. The album contained eight songs written by such notables as Robbie Robertson and Gene MacLellan. The album was picked up in the U.S. by the Kama Sutra label that also released the band's second album in both the U.S. and Canada. Ocean managed another hit in Canada with the song "I've Got a Dream" written by the British songwriting team of Cook and Greenway, but they failed to make any impact in the U.S. and disbanded in 1975 after only two albums.

Nutz - 1976 - Hard Nutz

Hard Nutz

01. Seeing Is Believing — 5:53
02. I Know The Feeling — 4:10
03. Loser — 3:30
04. From Here To Anywhere — 5:01
05. Wallbanger — 3:52
06. Pushed Around — 4:09
07. Beast Of The Field — 4:18
08. Sick And Tired — 4:15
09. Down On My Knees — 3:49
10. One More Cup Of Coffee (Valley Below) — 4:39
11. Bootliggers (1980) — 4:42

Mick Devonport — lead guitar, vocals
Dave Lloyd  — lead vocals, guitars
Keith Mulholland — bass, vocals
Kenny Newton — keyboards, synthesizer
John Mylett — drums

The last studio album from Nutz shows some lyrical growth from their sophomore effort, and is also improved by the presence of keyboard player Kenny Newton. The band turns in their usual bluesy boogie rock with progressive elements, but with a bit more vigor and nuance than usual. There are some interesting transitions between songs and some genuinely inventive arrangements. Nutz never did have the consistency to be a major act, but Hard Nutz shows that they did have a good set of rock instincts, and if they only had had a first-rate songwriter, they could have gone far.

Nutz - 1975 - Nutz Too

Nutz Too

01. Nature Intended — 2:50
02. I Want Never Gets — 4:13
03. Take It From Me — 3:34
04. Change’s Coming — 3:14
05. Dear Diary — 2:57
06. Is It All For Real — 2:52
07. Cool Me Down — 4:40
08. R.S.D. — 3:38
09. The Love You Lost — 3:32
10. Sinner — 2:55
11. Knife Edge — 3:20

Mick Devonport — lead guitar, vocals
Dave Lloyd  — lead vocals, guitars
Keith Mulholland — bass, vocals
John Mylett — drums
Paul Carrack — keyboards (09)
Neil Kernon — harmonium (05), synthesizer (02, 11)
John Anthony – producer

The second Nutz album was a bit more basic than the first, with more of a focus on blues-based hard rock and a slicker, more professional feel. Still, the band managed to keep things interesting with acoustic textures and some interesting time changes in the course of the album. The instrumentation bears comparisons to Led Zeppelin in spots, though vocalist Dave Lloyd's appealing bluesy rasp is from a whole different tradition than Robert Plant's. The rest of the band fills in with some effective harmonies, and there are moments when their hook-laden hard rock shows a sophistication that is above most of their peers. The weak spot is the songwriting, which is fairly generic throughout. The sole exception is "Dear Diary," a lovely little piece that shows that the band can give a delicate performance to more personal material. On the whole, Nutz Too is a pleasant listen, though not quite as memorable as the albums that came before or after.

So here's a fairly talented mid-1970s outfit that never really made it outside of the UK (not that they were a gigantic success in England).  Formed in Liverpool, Nutz came together in 1973 featuring the talents of lead guitarist Mick Davenport, singer/rhythm guitarist Dave Lloyd, bass player Keith Mulholland, and drummer John Mylett.

Released in 1975, the band's cleverly-titled sophomore album "Nutz Too" teamed the band with producer John Anthony.  Musically the set wasn't a major change from the debut; maybe a little heavier this time around.  With the majority of material penned by lead guitarist Davenport (Lloyd contributing three tracks), songs like 'I Want Never Gets', 'Change's Coming' and 'The Love You Lost' really didn't make much of an impression on me the first couple of times I listened to them.  As a result it was easy to see why these guys had been relegated to 'also ran' status.  As I normally do, before getting rid of it, I set the LP aside for a couple of months (well in this case it was more like a couple of years) in order to give it one last chance before saying adios.  Glad I gave it another shot.  True, there wasn't anything  particularly original here, but the band's efforts to merge conventional hard rock licks with an occasional progressive move made for more than it's share of interesting moments.  Lloyd may not have had the most distinctive voice, but he used his talents well, generating considerable energy on tracks like 'Cool Me Down' and the ballad 'The Love You Lost'. That said, the big surprise was Davenport.  A surprisingly versatile player, his playing added the highlights to most of the album.

Nutz - 1974 - Nutz


01. Poor Man — 2:20
02. Ain’t No Thanks To You — 4:17
03. Spoke In A Wheel — 3:33
04. I Can’t Unwind — 2:54
05. Can’t Tell Her Why — 4:56
06. As Far As The Eye Can See — 3:36
07. Love Will Last Forever — 2:33
08. Light Of Day — 4:27
09. Round And Round — 3:44
10. Joke — 3:45
11. Seeing Is Believing (Live) — 6:46
12. Loser (Live) — 3:55
13. Pushed Around (Live) — 4:19
14. You Better Watch Out (Live) — 6:40

Dave Lloyd — lead vocals, guitar
Mick Devonport — lead guitar, vocals, lead vocals (07)
Keith Mulholland — bass, vocals
John Mylett — drums, percussion
John «Rabbit» Bundrick — piano & organ (05,08)
Chris Hughes — brass (10)
John Atnhony – producer

Formed in Liverpool, England, in 1973 by singer Dave Lloyd, guitarist Mick Devonport, bassist Keith Mulholland, and drummer John Mylett, hard rockers Nutz distinguished themselves as one of the decade's most undistinguished second-tier acts. None of their four albums for A&M -- 1974's Nutz, 1975's Nutz Too, 1976's Hard Nutz (introducing keyboard player Kenny Newton), or 1977's Nutz Live Cutz -- fared particularly well, and occasional support tours with Black Sabbath and Budgie (not to mention a Friday night slot at the 1976 Reading Festival) also failed to further their cause.

By 1979 the band was sputtering to a halt, but when their song "Bootliggers" was surprisingly chosen for inclusion on 1980's Metal for Muthas (a compilation of emerging New Wave of British Heavy Metal talent like Iron Maiden, Praying Mantis, and Samson), Nutz decided to cash in on the younger generation by reinventing themselves as Rage. This barely disguised new version of Nutz (not to be confused with the German power metal trio that appeared a few years later) ejected their keyboard player, recruited additional guitarist Terry Steers, and went on to record three more albums before finally breaking up in 1984.

If you like British hard rock from the 70's this first album from Nutz is hard to beat. Released last year for the first time on CD, I was shocked at the great sound - I'd had a version on mp3 that I'd been listening to that didn't do this thing justice at all. These guys recorded four albums from 1974 to 1977, and they got it right the first time out. Despite building a loyal fan base and touring at various times with Black Sabbath, UFO, and Budgie, these guys never had any commercial success, their albums didn't sell well at all.

Their first album was an interesting and varied affair in which the band played with several different styles without losing their identity. Many of the songs use acoustic or progressive rock introductions to lead into blues-rock pieces, sometimes in very inventive ways. There are also some very successful progressive folk songs, a direction the band dropped after this album. It's a shame, as the catchy, carnival-like "Round and Round" suggested that this band could have done some fine things with the style. It's a track that bears repeated listening, the parade-ground drumming overlaid by acoustic and electric guitars and a simple but urgent vocal line. Here and throughout the album the vocal harmonies are impressive, more so than on any of their later works. For me though the highlight is the second track, "Ain't No Thanks To You", it's fecken awesome. A brilliant album of hard but not too heavy 1970's rock. The four bonus tracks are from 1977's "Nutz Live Cutz", by this time they had added a keyboard player.

The first album by Nutz was an interesting and varied affair in which the band played with several different styles without losing their identity. Many of the songs use acoustic or progressive rock introductions to lead into blues-rock pieces, sometimes in very inventive ways. There are also some very successful progressive folk songs, a direction the band dropped after this album. It's a shame, as the catchy, carnival-like "Round and Round" suggested that this band could have done some fine things with the style. It's a track that bears repeated listening, the parade-ground drumming overlaid by acoustic and electric guitars and a simple but urgent vocal line. Here and throughout the album the vocal harmonies are impressive, more so than on any of their later works. Nutz got everything right on their first album, but somehow failed to build on this solid foundation.