Sunday, January 3, 2016

Alexander's Timeless Bloozband - 1968 - For Sale

Alexander's Timeless Bloozband 
For Sale

01. Love so strong
02. Horn song
03. Plastic is organic
04. Swannanoa tunnel
05. Rosie
06. Front man
07. Tight rope walker
08. Life
09. Darlin'
10. Help me
11. Firefly

Charles Lamont
Carl Lockhart
Larry Marks

This is a very intriguing release from Alexander's (San Diego-Based) Timeless Bloozband.   I picked up the record on the basis that it was mentioned in one of the early issues of the pioneering rock mag "Crawdaddy!" and was immediately drawn in by the fantastic cover art.  Seriously, this has got to be one of my favorite record sleeves of all time.  Great colors and a wonderful image of the sad-eyed lady in the wicker chair with the band's name spelled out in psychedelic letters-- "timeless", indeed! 

With such a welcoming image, surely the tunes inside had to great, right?  Well, the music here does start off in fine fashion with a hard blues titled "Love So Strong", which apparently was the single though I don't think it ever charted.  This winning number segues nicely into the album's real highlight, the jazzy "Horn Song", which musically is very much in line with what bands like The Electric Flag were doing at the time.  (We'll call it psychedelic jazz blues, for lack of a better term.)  The lyrics on this one are delivered at a rapid pace and contain a well-worded, anti-authoritarian message very much in line with the prevailing cynical mindset of your average 1968 street urchin.  A fantastic song that would make great fodder for any forward-thinking late-60's compilationist.

At this point upon first hearing I thought maybe I'd unearthed a genuine lost classic, but regrettably the quality of the songwriting does drop a notch or two from here on, though the musicianship remains fantastic throughout.  Instrumentally, their line-up consisted of a vocalist who I'm guessing also plays the blues harp and flute, lead guitar (very Mike Bloomfield-esque), electric piano, bass and drums.  As mentioned previously, tight musicianship is the order of the day, and the album sounds as if it was recorded live in the studio.

For a good summation of what the Bloozband were about, one could use the song "Swanannoa Tunnel" which takes the traditional blues form and re-works it into something quite new (for its time) via haunting wordless backing vocals and rapid-fire drumming.  There's even a bit of harp/ guitar duetting going on at the end here.  Songwise, "Swanannoa" definitely seems like it may have been the band's on-stage highlight.  Sadly, this promising track is immediately followed by a number called "Rosie" which, while at least containing some interesting percussion overdubs and a flute solo, reeks badly of the overbearing faux-soulfulness that really started bringing down rock music around 1968-69.  Much better is the ballad "Front Man"; apparently the tale of a groupie soliciting an autograph from an illiterate rock star.  And so it goes... Despite their moniker, the Bloozband were really better at this sort of psych/ jazz rock sound then they were at the straight blues stuff.

Much of the album's second side is unmemorable, though once again it bears mention that the playing here is quite fine.  The drummer in particular impresses, while the weak link remains the vocalist, who while adequate on the mellower stuff veers close to embarrassing on the trio of blues howlers-- "Rosie", "Darlin'" and "Help Me".

Overall my high expectations for this record were somewhat met, but in the end the experience was a little lacking.  Alexander's Timeless Bloozband were definitely a second-tier act in the face of such heavy competition as The Doors, Yardbirds or The Electric Flag (to name three bands similar in mood and approach).  Yet nevertheless they were still a crack band who contributed one stone cold classic to the pantheon in "Horn Song".  Therefore, I recommended For Sale to fans of the sixties' blues rock and psych, particularly if you can get the LP for cheap on the used market.

Alexander's Timeless Bloozband - 1967 - Alexander's Timeless Bloozband Record

Alexander's Timeless Bloozband 
Alexander's Timeless Bloozband Record

01. Help Me
02. Killing Floor
03. Guitar Song
04. Favorite Things
05. Sloppy Drunk
06. #1
07. Swannanoa Tunnel
08. Sweet Little Angel

Charles Lamont — keyboards, bass, guitar, French horn, harmonica, vocals
Carl Lockhart — keyboards, bass, alto saxophone, vocals
Larry Marks — harmonica, trombone, vocals
Dennis Geaney — guitar, bass
Spencer Conway – drums

Looser and more ragged than their UNI lp, but also more energetic.  The group would re-record "Help Me", "Swannoa Tunnel", and "Guitar Song" (which they would re-title "Love So Strong")for For Sale, but the best moments here are the Bacchanalia ode "Sloppy Drunk", and a fine version of "Killing Floor".  The group gets points for adventurousness with a crosseyed version of "My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music.  It's too bad that this album's so hard to find

Alex Wiska - 1973 - Alex

Alex Wiska 

01. Ekmek    5:47
02. Patella Black    3:46
03. Turkish Tunes    4:08
04. Big Boss Smile    4:06
05. Derule    2:54
06. Monroe Song    2:29
07. Silent Farewell    3:05
08. Tales Of Purple Sally    7:30
09. Anatoly Highway    2:23
10. Call Of The City    3:34
11. How Half Is The Moon    3:59
12. Billy McGraw    4:03
13. Elements    9:41
14. Istanbulda    5:52
15. Dadaloglu    4:35
16. Kalender    3:47

- Alex Wiska/ guitars
- Holger Czukay / electronics
- Jaki Liebezeit / drums

Baglama [Saz], Guitar, Bass, Vocals – Alex Wiska (tracks: 1 to 11, 13, 14)
Bass, Baglama [Saz] – Seyhan Karabey (tracks: 15, 16)
Bass, Piano – Holger Czukay (tracks: 1 to 9)
Drums – Huseyn Sultan Oglu (tracks: 15, 16)
Drums, Percussion – Jaki Liebezeit (tracks: 1 to 11, 13, 14)
Guitar – Ünol Büyükgönenc (tracks: 15, 16)
Guitar, Bass, Baglama [Saz] – Alex Wiska (tracks: 15, 16)
Performer [All Instruments], Vocals – Alex Wiska (tracks: 12)
Saxophone – Gerd Dudek (tracks: 10, 11, 13, 14)
Strings – Michael Karoli (tracks: 14)
Vocals – Cem Karaca (tracks: 15, 16)

Songs 1-9 produced 1973 Can-Studio-Weilerswist
Songs 10/11/13/14 produced 1976/77 Studio am Dom-Köln
Song 12 produced 1988 Wiska Records Studio, Much
Songs 15, 16 produced 1970 Studio Electronc, Istanbul

Tracks 1-9 represent Ales Wiska's first LP
Tracks 15, 16 represent Kardaslar's 7"

Also released as Alex Oriental Experience - 1995 - Tales of Purple Sally

Magnificent Kraut meets Oriental albums by one of the considered pioneers of the genre. Members of Can participated in these first two records(inc.Jaki Liebezeit,Helmut Hattler,Horst Stachelhaus and others). These 2 first records of Alex Wiska came with simply his name:Alex and are much more oriental/Turkish rock oriented.His later ones are under the name Alex Oriental Experience and are much more space rock /kraut oriented. Many comparisons were made with the Turkish band Cem Karaca(coming soon here) .Great saz tunes by Alex and good accompanied by some of the brightest names of German rock scene.Highly recommented... not to be missed!

Alco - 1972 - Threads of life

Threads of life

01. When I Was A Child - Rain Upon My Mind (13:29)
02. In My Dreams (5:46)
03. Waiting To Be Born (5:47)
04. Look At The Clouds (1:42)
05. Linda (3:08)
06. Hello Love (3:30)
07. The Chordbuster March (1:27)
08. Carry Me Back To Old Virginny (1:20)
09. De Animals A-Comin'(1:50)
10. Bill Grogan's Goat (2:20)
11. Humble (2:27)
12. Ashmolian Band (1:35)

Tim Ceasar: Keyboards & Lead Vocals
Paul Fidlin: Bass, Guitars
Ben Brooke: Bass, Guitars
Julian Cesar: Drums, Synthesizers

Excellent UK private LP that easily breaks free of conventionalism. My best description would be dreamy british garage sounds with a 40-piece orchestra backing the proceedings. It almost sounds as if it were recorded in an auditorium using only a handful of microphones. The production is cavernous. Unique and totally original.

notes from sister of musician:
My brother in law Ben Brooke was a member of the band and now lives in the USA. This copy was given to his brother (my hubby) on it's release and has always been in his possession and played only a few times. We can also get at a later stage for the buyer more info from the original band members who still get together and who we know very well.
We are now wanting to sell to someone who has been searching for this rare vinyl to add to their collection. It will be better with them than sitting in a box in our study.  Press progressive album. Recorded by the band Alco at University of Surrey Mobile Studio in 1972. A-Side contains a wonderful progressive suite, including sections augumented with the Itchen Orchestra conducted by Jonathan Palmer. B-side is just Alco themselves who are Tim Caesar – keyboards and lead vocals, Paul Fidlin – bass / lead / vocals, Ben Brooke – lead / bass / vocals and Julian Caesar, drums, / synthesizer / vocals. There are some tracks by the Itchen College Barbershop Shoppers at the end.

Alcatraz - 1971 - Vampire State Building

Vampire State Building

01. Simple Headphone Mind 10:00
02. Your Chance of a Lifetime 5:06
03. Where the Wild Things Are 3:03
04. Vampire State Building 13:10
05. Piss Off 3:18

Bass Guitar – Ronald Wilson
Drums, Bongos – Jan Rieck
Electric Piano [Pianett], Lead Vocals – Rüdiger Berghahn
Flute, Tenor Saxophone – Klaus Nagurski
Lead Guitar – Klaus Holst

Somewhat amateur but inspired and energetic. Definitely lacking in cohesion in some parts (the first track for example). Jazzy soul/funk tinted Krautrock.

"Where the Wild Things Are", "Simple Headphone Mind and the title track are the best songs IMO, with the former being the real standout for me.

I was disappointed when I discovered that the mellow jazz parts of "Simple Headphone Mind" are copies of the beginning of Nucleus' "Torrid Zone" off of 'Elastic Rock.' Its a really nice chill jazz theme though and they do play it better here than Nucleus, with flute and a lot more soul and feel and without the fancy jazz (so it really sets and maintains a mood). Between those sections (3 of them) they launch (twice) into a loose, antsy, discordant free-style guitar-led jive for a total departure. Very schizophrenic.

"Your Chance of a Lifetime" is a bit dull and suffers from poor vocals, too much reverb, lackluster instrumentation, guitar that is too loud and doesn't integrate with the music well in its tone or style, and finally an energetic and pointless jazz workout that is a complete nonsequiter to the song before it (as in "Simple Headphone Mind"). It feels like an imitation of some old minimalist blues. It has potential, it just falls a bit flat.

"Where The Wild Things Are" is where it all comes together and we get something that feels fluid, integrated, and more inspired/original. It is more of a jam, that transitions in very smooth and integrated ways as opposed to the jarring non-sequiter transitions of the first songs. It grooves, especially at the song's end (!) It is a shame that this song is the shortest of the album and the rest of this album is not more like it.

The title track, "Vampire State Building" that starts with a jazz-rock groove and features a pretty cool 9/8 jazzy drum groove and bass grooves toward the beginning. It is a very fragmentary "song" that then goes into a  weird dinky section and ends with some appropriated soul blues

The free jam of "Piss Off" is designed to do just that, though it is somewhat interesting.

Overall a very inconsistent, schizophrenic, ADD Kraut/jazz/rock/soul/blues album that also suffers from an uncertain musical identity. that is generally good with some high points and some sloppiness.

Drago then let interject their two cents...Krautrock recording to come out of Hamburg in 1969. Playing through small venues [such as hostels,school], Alcatraz repertoire comprised mainly of covers of well known bands; Ten Years After, Keef Hartley Band, Savoy Brown, Vanilla Fudge, Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep. Branching out with compositions of their own, the band began listening to jazzy bands such as Soft Machine and Tony William's Lifetime. Putting two and two together their sound falls somewhere between their earlier Hard rock contingencies and Jazz, with a healthy dose of Improv. First album by mysterious band Alcatraz from Hamburg,Originally released 1971 on Philips. Their music featured fuzz guitars and effects overdose in a heavy and bluesy over-the-top Krautrock mixing together genres that no-one else did. One of the finest slabs of eccentric heady Krautrock. Simple Head Phone Mind (11:56) and the title-track "Vampire State Building" (13:10) are masterpieces you will never forget. For the first time on CD on label Long Hair LHC00014 in 2002. This album is an absolutely must for every Krautrock or Progrock fan. From the master tapes plus one bonus track.

The album was recorded under peculiar circumstances. Recorded at Faust's studio in Wümme, the farm surrounding the studio was sieged by police after suspecting a crack down on a terrorist hideout. The band still managed to get through the whole recording process within the day, unfazed by the incident. While per se my interest is wanning for the Hard rock side of music, fused with part jazz, Improv and general Kraut craziness, made this pleasurable listening experience. Featuring flute, sax, piano, bongo, and the signature sound is made between the interplay between lead lines from Sax or flute enmeshed warmly by fuzz- guitar work. I'm not too fond of the vocals, but they fit the part well [only featured on two tracks, thankfully!]. I find myself enjoying the extended jazzy jams; more than the harder sections, but the album finds a nice balance, connecting the two comfortably without either becoming over bearing. I love putting this album on of the evenings, the jazz leanings give a sedated feeling. For those put off by Krautrock absurdities this album shouldn't provide any problems, it does possess some more 'out there' improvisation jams

Finally the album has been re-released in 2012[Long Hair] via the master tapes, containing extensive linear notes. During the re-release of the album the musicians unearthed three new tracks originally recorded at Hamburg Windrose Dumot Studio, which were recorded a few months after the deadline of the full album... it is worth to invest in this tasteful CD. This is a real treat for fans of the forgotten German Krautrock scene music.
I wrote about this album, some time ago on your blog
Drago,big hugs!

Albatross - 1975 - Rockin' The Sky

Rockin' The Sky

01. Out Of Control
02. After The Fire
03. Spare A Dime
04. About Losing
05. Back Street Lover
06. Same Old Song
07. No Reason To Cry
08. On The Run
09. Yankee Jam
10. Both Sides Now
11. Other Side Of Town
12. Mean Woman Blues

GARY WARD - Lead Guitar/B.Vocal
RUDY WEAVER - Bass Guitar/B.Vocal
HENRY REID - Keyboards
JOE CAMPBELL - Drums/B.Vocal
MIKE GEORGE - Lead Vocal

Undoubtedly one of my personal fave private press albums from the '70s. This is hard southern rock with extremely solid guitars. The vocals and keyboards are a slight weak point, but more due to the production values than the talent herein. It's confident, driving, and often metallic in the way that Blackfoot could be. A consistent album that I would say is an absolute must for those looking into the far reaches of southern rock obscurities, and the heavier side of SR in general.
This band may originally have been based in Salem, Virginia? Any information is appreciated

The Alan Bown! - 2003 - Emergency 999 (1965-67)

The Alan Bown!
Emergency 999 (1965-67)

01 - I Can't Let Her Go
02 - I'm The One
03 - Baby Don't Push Me
04 - Everything's Gonna Be Alright
05 - Headline News
06 - Mr. Pleasure
07 - Emergency 999
08 - Settle Down
09 - Gonna Fix You Good (Everytime You're Bad)
10 - I Really, Really Care
11 - Jeu De Massacre (The Killing Game)
12 - Love Me • prev. unissued
13 - Mr. Job • prev unissued
14 - Gonna Fix You Good (Everytime You're Bad) • demo version
15 - It's Growing (live)
16 - Emergency 999 (live)
17 - I Need You (live)
18 - Sunny (live)
19 - Headline News (live)
20 - Down In The Valley (live)
21 - The Boomerang (live)

The history of British rock 'n' roll of the 1960's is filled with the names of homegrown performers who, despite enjoying the favor of critics, music columnists, and club audiences, never managed to make a permanent mark on the record charts.Alan Bown was a case-in-point, a trumpet player who organized a series of bands -- principally known as the Alan Bown Set -- in the 1960's who got good reviews and attracted healthy live audiences, but which were never able to successfully transfer their club sound onto vinyl. Bown didn't start pursuing a professional music career until after having served a hitch in the Royal Air Force -- he organized his first band soon after returning to civilian life in the early 1960's. At the time, there were several different types of music competing for attention in England, including homegrown rock 'n' rollers, teen pop singers, trad-jazz and soft-jazz outfits, and folk groups of various sizes and shapes. Bown's instrument was the trumpet and his main interest were jazz and American rhythm-and-blues, and there was room for outfits of that sort at the time -- his first group made it to the performing Mecca of Hamburg, Germany, playing at venues such as the Star Club and crossing paths with the Beatles, Tony Sheridan et al. He later joined the John Barry Seven during its stint backing Brenda Leeon a tour of Europe, and became a formal member of the studio version of the group, until it broke up in 1964 amid Barry's burgeoning career as a film composer. He formed the Alan Bown Set in 1964, featuring Bown on trumpet, Jeff Bannister on vocals and keyboards, Dave Green on sax, clarinet, and flute, Pete Burgess on guitar, Stan Haldane on bass, and Vic Sweeney on drums. They built up a reputation for exciting live shows and then headed for London, where their resourcefulness at filling their repertory with obscure but worthwhile American r&b and soul numbers quickly got them a loyal following in club patrons and trade reviews. They had rivals in this field, including Zoot Money and his Big Roll Band, Cliff Bennett & The Rebel Rousers, and Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames, and by all accounts Bown and company could hold their own with the best of them. But what each of them did, as early as 1964, that Bown didn't do, was land a recording contract, and Georgie Fame and Cliff Bennett suddenly had chart-soaring singles and international recognition from the songs "Yeh Yeh" and "One Way Love", respectively. In 1965, the Alan Bown Set was discovered by bassist-turned-producerTony Reeves and signed to Pye Records by Reeves' superior, Tony Hatch. They might've made a noise on the charts if their intended single, a cover of Curtis Mayfield's "I'm The One", had gone out as planned -- instead, it ended up as the B-side and the "play" side "Can't Let Her Go" was ignored by the powers-that-were. The group continued to succeed as a club band and by the second half of 1965 had become a top attraction at the Marquee in London; such was their recognition, that they began getting offers to play all across England, and over the next year they did precisely that -- they lost guitarist Green in early 1966, his slot filled by saxman John Helliwell (later part of Supertramp), and they expanded further with the addition of singer Jess Roden, which allowed Bannister to devote his attention to playing keyboards. This version of the group was actually much stronger, a fact perhaps reflected by the three singles that they cut and released in 1966, among them the classic "Emergency 999", which, like their other releases, failed to chart -- but it later found an audience among Northern Soul enthusiasts. Pye finally hit upon the notion of simply recording a live set by the group, which (in tandem with a set by Jimmy James & The Vagabonds on the other side) was released as London Swings -- Live At the Marquee Club. That LP is now considered one of the most important and essential ever released by Pye Records. Guitarist Pete Burgess departed the line-up in November of 1966 and was replaced by Tony Catchpole, and it was this version of the group that played out the end of its contract in 1967. This included one last Pye single, "Gonna Fix You Good (Everytime You're Bad)" b/w "I Really, Really Care", and a song for a French film entitled Jeu De Massacre, featuring Jacques Loussier. The next few months saw the group go through a complete transformation, into a psychedelic band known simply as The Alan Bown, which was signed to the Deram label (after one release on Verve Records) in 1968. With Robert Palmer on vocals, they finally enjoyed a minor hit single with "Still As Stone", and after Palmer left to join Dada and Vinegar Joe, the group carried on with Gordon Neville in their last incarnation circa 1970-71, with Mel Collins on saxophone, by which time they'd moved over to Island Records, no less. The Alan Bown called it quits in 1971, with Bown himself becoming a member of Jonesy before moving into A&R work with British CBS Records, whileJeff Bannister jumped to Jess Roden's group Bronco, and Vic Sweeney worked with Kevin Coyne. Gordon Neville was later a part of Elton John's backing band, as well as working with Rick Wakeman, and Mel Collins went on to work with King Crimson and Alexis Korner, as well as (seemingly) almost everyone else in British music over the next few decades. ~ Bruce Eder, All Music Guide

Review by Richie Unterberger
Alan Bown is most known — certainly in the United States — for his late '60s recordings as leader of a group (actually called the Alan Bown) that played psychedelic pop. The trumpeter had already been recording since 1965, however, with a group called the Alan Bown Set from 1965-1967 in a far more soul-influenced style. This compilation gathers both sides of all five singles the Alan Bown Set released on Pye in the U.K. during that time, along with the seven live songs from the London Swings: Live at the Marquee Club LP they shared with Jimmy James & the Vagabonds, and the French-only single "Jeu De Massacre (The Killing Game)," from the soundtrack of the French film of the same name. The group were in the same general territory as other British combiners of soul, jazz, and blues from the period, such as Georgie Fame and Zoot Money. However, they were more soul-oriented than either Fame or Money (and not nearly as good as Fame), though they too employed a brass section. This collection is fair but workmanlike British blue-eyed soul, with the horns and organ differentiating it from many other British bands of the day. But it's short on really good material, whether group originals or cover interpretations. Jess Roden, who handles most of the vocals, sounds quite a bit like Steve Marriott, though he's not as good or powerful. Those cuts with Jeff Bannister on lead suffer from his thin, uncertain vocals, though one of these, their 1965 debut single "I Can't Let Her Go," was the best tune they did, with its nicely melancholy melody and well-arranged blend of brass, organ, and backup harmonies.

This is a cd of two halves. The various studio tracks are pretty mixed. There is nothing too offensive but you can see why their singles releases never really sold back in the 1960s. Where this album takes off if with the live tracks which originally formed one side of the famous "London Swings" LP, the other being a performance by Jimmy James and the Vagabonds. The atmosphere of 60s London really comes through as the mixture of originals and blistering soul covers captures one of the leading bands of the mod movement in top form. If you already have the live stuff you'll probably buy this on the strength of it and end up a little disappointed. But if you don't have the live stuff, or if you don't want to wear out your copy of the original vinyl, then buy it. Comment Comment | Permalink | Was this review helpful to you?  Yes No (Report this)

I was a regular at The Marquee clunb in Lodon's Wardour Street in the mid-60's and saw The Alan Bown Set there every week ( along with the Who, Jimmy James & The Vagabonds etc. ) I bought the Alan Bown version of 'Headline News' before the original by Edwin Starr - in fact I first heard many soul classics performed by this Band before going on to buy the originals. The Alan Bown Set were leaders on the Mod scene and highly accomplished musicians. This album is a great record of the period and their live cuts from the Marquee really capture the atmosphere of the period when London really did swing! Comment Comment | Permalink | Was this review helpful to you?  Yes No (Report this)

Almost thirty-five years ago I heared a relatively unknown London-based band called the Alan Bown Set perform a song titled "Headline News" on Radio Luxemburg. With it's opening chorus "Extra! Extra! Read all about it," its wonderful horns, and its funky rhythm, it was Mod with "a capital M." The song failed to make the charts, which is still hard to believe. Over the next thirty-five years I never heard the song again. But, I never forgot it either.
Here is that song, and plenty more like it. Before evolving into the mildly psychedelic group called just The Alan Bown, this original incarnation was a terrific dance band; a favorite at the clubs and halls of Swingin' London. Their interpretations of Motown, the Impressions, and other American masters of soul, were among the best mid-60s Britain had to offer. In many ways they were the equals of the Small Faces and the Who, but never achieved the success or the mystique of the other two bands.

This collection of ALL their Pye recordings from 1966-1967 is a wonderful piece of Mod nostalgia. I only regret that they were not as well recorded as some of their contemporaries, and alas for this reissue, their recordings were apparently not remixed. So, this pretty much sounds the way it did back when these tunes first appeared on 45. Also included is a live set, one side of the rare "London Swings: Live At the Marquee" LP (the other side was given over to their contemporaries Jimmy James & the Vagabonds). If you like the Mod sound, you'll definitely find this a treat.

The Alan Bown! - 1971 - Stretching Out

The Alan Bown!
Stretching Out

01. The Messenger   
02. Find A Melody   
03. Up Above My Hobby Horse's   
04. Turning Point   
05. Build Me A Stage   
06. Strching Out
07. Thru the Night

Bass, Vocals – Andy Brown
Drums, Percussion – Vic Sweeny
Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar – Tony Catchpole
Piano, Organ, Flute – Jeff Bannister
Tenor Saxophone, Alto Saxophone, Clarinet – John Anthony
Trumpet [Wa Wa], Flugelhorn – Alan Bown
Vocals – Gordon Neville

Terrific brass driven prog rock, unusual vocalist in Gordon Neville, Produced by Mel Collins of King Crimson/Kokomo fame. All good, an absolute gem.Good gate fold sleeve as well.

The Alan Bown! - 1970 - Listen

The Alan Bown! 


01. Wanted Man    4:20
02. Crash Landing    5:55
03. Loosen Up    3:25
04. Pyramid    3:46
05. Forever    2:50
06. Curfew    4:00
07. Make Us All Believe    4:30
08. Make Up Your Mind    8:45
09. Get Myself Straight

2nd album by excellent British Prog band Alan Bown named after its founder and leader – trumpeter Alan Bown. One of the earliest Brass-Rock bands in the country, they incorporated Prog with Brass arrangements, creating a unique sound but not quite Jazz-Rock Fusion yet. The band also included lead singer Gordon Neville (who replaced the original vocalist Robert Palmer heard on their debut album), keyboardist Jeff Bannister, saxophonist John Helliwell, guitarist Tony Catchpole, bassist Stan Haldane and drummer Vic Sweeney and together they were a formidable septet indeed. The album was produced by Mel Collins of King Crimson fame. An absolute beauty, which lost nothing of its charm with time!

The Alan Bown! - 1968 - The Alan Bown!

The Alan Bown! 
The Alan Bown!

01. My Friend   
02. Strange Little Friend   
03. Elope   
04. Perfect Day   
05. All I Can Do   
06. Friends In St. Louis   
07. The Prisoner   
08. Kick Me Out   
09. Tarnished   
10. Memorial

Drums, Percussion [Acoustic] – Vic Sweeney
Electric Bass [Fender, Fuzz] – Stan Haldane
Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar – Tony Catchpole
Lead Vocals – Tony* (tracks: A5), Vic* (tracks: A5)
Lead Vocals [Sections] – Jeff* (tracks: B1), Tony* (tracks: B1)
Lead Vocals, Percussion – Robert Palmer (tracks: A1 to A4, A6 to B4)
Piano, Organ – Jeff Bannister
Tenor Saxophone, Alto Saxophone, Recorder, Clarinet – John Anthony (9)
Trombone – John Hemmings
Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Maracas – Alan Bown

The Prisoner is quite an epic rendezvous. All I Can Do carries really fresh uprising sounds in it. And the whole album is pretty good to me overall (deserves full 4). Plus, I really do appreciate constantly evolving baroque music structures this album is full of.

The Alan Bown! - 1967 - Outward Brown

The Alan Bown! 
Outward Brown


01. Toyland 2:34
02. Magic Handkerchief 3:16
03. Little Lesley 2:10
04. All Along the Watchtower 3:09
05. Sally Green 3:19
06. Penny for Your Thoughts 3:39
07. Storybook 3:15
08. Technicolor Dream 2:55
09. Love Is a Beautiful Thing 3:32
10. Violin Shop 3:01
11. You're Not In My Class 3:34
12. My Girl the Month of May 2:48

Alan Bown – Trumpet
Stan Haldane - Bass, Vocals
Jeff Bannister - Keyboards/Vocals
John Helliwell – Sax
Robert Palmer – Vocals
Vic Sweeney – Drums
Tony Catchpole – Guitar
Jess Roden – Vocals
Gordon Neville – Vocals
Andy Brown - Bass, Vocals

The Alan Bown Set was formed mid-1965 with the following personnel: Alan Bown - leader/trumpet, Dave Green - sax/flute, Jeff Bannister - organ/lead vocals, Stan Haldane - bass guitar/vocals, Pete Burgess - guitar/vocals and Vic Sweeney - drums/vocals. Green, Haldane and Bannister had previously been in The John Barry Seven with Alan Bown, whom John Barry had appointed as leader.

After signing a deal with Pye Records, The Alan Bown Set recorded their first single, which featured Jeff Bannister on lead vocals. ‘Can’t Let Her Go’ was nominated the A-side with the Curtis Mayfield song, ‘I’m The One Who Loves You’ on the B-side. ‘I’m The One’ was a much livelier track and had previously been part of The John Barry Seven’s repertoire thus sounding more honed. Preferring this track, Tony Hatch, the producer, suggested it should be the A-side, but a record company decision outvoted him. ‘Can’t Let Her Go’ was released in September 1965.

In January 1966, Dave Green left the band and was replaced by John Anthony Helliwell. Soon after, in February 1966, lead vocalist Jess Roden joined the band and his vocals were featured on the next single, ‘Everything’s Gonna Be Alright’ followed not long after with the more successful single, ‘Headline News’.

In July 1966, The Alan Bown Set appeared on ‘Ready Steady Go’ and two days later, made their debut at The Windsor Jazz Festival. These events were interspersed with appearances at the famous Marquee Club in London.

In September1966, the band recorded ‘London Swings Live at the Marquee Club’, a live album with The Alan Bown Set featured on one side and Jimmy James and The Vagabonds on the other. In November, Pete Burgess was replaced by Tony Catchpole.

Early in 1967, Jacques Loussier commissioned The Alan Bown Set to record a soundtrack for the film ‘Jeu De Massacre’. This was premiered at the1967 Cannes Film festival, which the band attended and whilst in the area made an appearance on Monte Carlo TV.

Later in 1967, the band dropped the suffix ‘Set’ and became The Alan Bown! Another prestigious Windsor Jazz Festival followed and further singles, ‘Toyland’, ‘Story Book’ and the first album, ‘Outward Bown’, were released.

During 1968, the band made several television appearances. ‘All Systems Freeman’, ‘The Simon Dee Show’ and ‘Eamonn Andrews Today’.

In August 1968, the band appeared on ‘Top of the Pops’, performing the single ‘We Can Help You’. Already at number 26 in the national charts, it was assured a higher place the following week but then the pressing plant for the record label MGM went on strike and halted production. By the time the dispute was resolved, the single had lost crucial potential sales and disappeared from the charts.

Soon after this debacle, the band appeared on a major TV spectacular hosted by Jack Good, entitled ‘Innocence, Anarchy and Soul’.

In 1969, two more singles were released, ‘Still as Stone’ and ‘Gypsy Girl’. A new album was issued on Deram, simply entitled ‘The Alan Bown!' Immediately after recording the album, Jess Roden announced his departure. Alan Bown then recruited Robert Palmer who re-recorded the vocals on the album prior to its release.

Island Records signed the band early in 1970 and a new album entitled ‘Listen’ was released, featuring Robert Palmer. An appearance followed on BBC TV’s Disco 2 (a forerunner of the Old Grey Whistle Test). Robert Palmer decided to leave the band as soon as the new album had been completed. In mid-1970, Gordon Neville re-recorded all the vocal tracks on the album and Robert departed in October.

A new single, featuring vocalist Gordon Neville, was released in November 1970 on Island records entitled, ‘Pyramid’. In December, long serving bassist Stan Haldane left and his replacement was Andy Brown. A new album for Island Records followed, entitled ‘Stretching Out’.

In March 1971, the band made its second appearance on BBC TV’s Disco 2. In July 1971, Jeff Bannister left the band to pursue a solo career. The band decided to continue without a keyboard player. Andy Brown left in September 1971 and was replaced by Dougie Thompson and during the following month, Tony Catchpole also left. His replacement was Derek Griffiths.

This line-up continued until the demise of The Alan Bown! in February 1972. Alan then reformed the band for one last tour with Dave Lawson on keyboards, Tony Dangerfield on bass/lead vocals, Frank White on guitar and Alan Coulter on drums, but no recordings with this line-up were released. The last appearances of this band were in July 1972.

More information can be found in the book ‘The Alan Bown Set – Before and Beyond’ by Jeff Bannister, published by Banland Publishing Ltd.

Like many others, Alan Bown apparently pursued success by following trends; however – and I’m ready to admit this is just a personal opinion - there’s like a sense of mission in the commitment that fuels the projects he was part of which, although those groups were never really groundbreaking or chart-breaking, makes the body of work they left behind really worth exploring;

“Outward Bound” is the group’s  sole album after they had dropped the “Set” suffix, with which they’d been part  of London Swings: Live at the Marquee Club, and had been joined by lead vocalist Jess Roden – whose vocal talents and outstanding expressivity which would turn him into a cult figure among Rock aficionados are extensively showcased throughout- ,and flexible guitarist Tony Catchpole who, unlike Roden who’d soon abandon due to the band’s lack of success, would become a key pillar of the band’s sound up until their final implosion; the face-lifting obviously  corresponded to a shift in musical identity, which saw them abandoning the Soul and Black influences and setting  the coordinates of their new direction within Flower-Pop approved parameters; yet the fluidity of the genre’ s boundaries allied to their genetic urge to experiment would guarantee this is not just a brainless, silly quest for banal Chart’s acceptance.

They do certainly occasionally sound like Bee Gees clones, and the album does includes all the Singles they’d had been releasing in the hope of making some waves; but while the decision of making a cover of (UK’s)Nirvana’s “We Can Help You” might have derived from despair, there was sufficient songwriting talent inside the group to pen material of similar strength as for instance that Singles’ flip side, the quasi-anthemic “Magic Handkerchief”, or the Beatles-esque, sing-along “Mutiny” certify, a strength further showcased on elaborated, and multiparted Psych-Pop tunes such as “Story Book” or “Violin Shop” all of which gained immensely from the rich tonal palette the seven men strong line-up ( which also included Jeff Bannister keyboards, Bown trumpet and flugelhorn, John Helliwell sax, clarinet and recorder, Stan Haldane bass and Vic Sweeney drums) could generate, with harpsichords, mellotrons and strings being used with taste and moderation alongside brass and woodwinds .

On other occasions the band reverts to covers and let their Soul roots resurface with brass power and Small Faces like style on “Love Is a Beautiful Thing”, or with Psych-Rock inflections on “My Girl the Month of May”; also noteworthy is their take, at Roden’s suggestion, on Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower”, a live act favorite which admittedly Chas Chandler was so famously impressed with that he suggested Hendrix should cover it too; yet, this harder edge is also found on the Bown/Bannister original “Penny for Your Thoughts”, as the ultimate proof of the broadness of their horizons and as a hint at future developments.

El Alamo - 1971 - Malos Pensamientos

El Alamo 
Malos Pensamientos


01. Candy    3:35
02. Can You See Me    3:18
03. Pusher Men    3:18
04. Good Night    3:40
05. Sweet My Woman    6:45
06. Listen Me    5:10
07. I Cry    3:14
08. Borgoña    4:00
09. Malos Pensamientos    6:08

Bass: Arturo Montenegro
Drums: Ricardo Allison
Guitar (1ra): Tino Pow Sang
Guitar (2da): Luis Iturri
Organ: Jaime Salinas
Percussion (Gran Tumbador Peruano): Anibal López

Ultra rare vintage latin psych- rock record from Peru. This record released in 1971 and up to now is one of the essential rock recordings coming from Peru and maybe even from whole South America. El Alamo play genuine psych rock with nice fuzz guitars. Vocals are mostly in English. The original vinyl is rather expensive and very sought after. Very beautiful artwork!
Peruvian purveyors of naive but charming acid psych, my post of El Alamo comes with the following caveat: there's a definite Santana edge to some of the cuts here. If thats sufficient to send you scurrying for cover so be it, though you'd be missing out on an otherwise choice slab of psychedelic exotica. A first glance might suggest the that dominant influence at play here is Crosby, Stills and Nash, given that the first track here ("Candy") is the Doo-doo-doo-doo-doo DOO DOO doo doo doo doo" bit from Suite: Judy Blue Eyes, but thereafter, things take a liquidly acidic turn with the very Traffic Sound-like psychotropic swoon of "Can You See Me". From there on out it's a mixed bag of the beautifully tripped and the slight and disposable, the former fortunately outweighing the latter, particularly on the completely fried title track, a pinnacle of South American psych and reason alone for an immediate download of this gem.

The group was formed in Magdalena, rehearsing all along the year of 1970. Consisted of Luis Iturry on vocals and rhythm guitar, Tino Pow Sang solo guitar, Ricardo Allison on drums and Arturo Montenegro on bass, their first tests were conducted at Luis Iturri’s family home in Magdalena. In the beginning they did progressive rock, expanding through psychedelic rock, hippie latin style such as Jefferson Airplane and Santana. In April 1971, officially calling El Alamo they played with PAX and other bands in different parts of Lince, Magdalena, Pueblo Libre and Jesús Maria.

In December 1971 they recorded their debut LP entitled Malos Pensamientos, the whole recording took it place in just one day! That very day also had the support of Peruvian musician Aníbal López in congas and timbales. The art photo on the cover was made by Estanislao Ruiz, director of the legendary Rock magazine. Many of their songs had a lot of publicity in radios like Radio Miraflores, though the military dictatorship used to ban summarily (sic) all rock groups from that era. (!)

Thus, the band had to present yourself only in small venues such as El Embassy or La Fontana; right after a solo 45 RPM the band broke up in 1972, with all its members except for ‘El Chino’ Pow Sang, retired from music, leaving a harmoniously latin psychedelic print, being one of the many forgotten gems of Inca Rock scene.

Alamo - 1971 - Alamo


01. Got To Find Another Way – 4:36
02. Soft And Gentle – 6:59
03. The World We Seek – 3:36
04. Question Raised – 4:43
05. Bensome Changes – 3:34
06. All New People – 4:49
07. Get The Feelin’ – 6:01
08. Happiness Is Free – 4:18

- Ken Woodley / vocals, organ
- Larry Raspberry / guitar
- Larry Davis / bass
- Richard Rosebrough / drums

The roots of Alamo go back to guitarist Larry Raspberry who played with the Gentrys in 1965 when they charted with “Keep On Dancing”. The strength of Alamo was largely due to the mountainous vox and grinding hammond of ex-Cosmos Ken Woodley coupled with the gritty guitar breaks of Raspberry.

Ever wonder what early ZZ Top might sound like with an organ added to the mix? Well, released in 1971 in Memphis, Alamo’s selftitled sole album has the answer. They make nice, solid mainstream hard rock with a slight Southern edge. There are some nice extended instrumental jams in the style of Allman Brothers (on acid), Homer and “Nantucket” era-Mountain.

The album powers forth with the massive opener “Got To Find Another Way” in the same energized spirit as Scotland’s “Writing On The Wall” or Germany’s “Karthago”. This thunderous opener has Raspberry ripping the hell out of his axe with no prisoners taken. “Soft And Gentle” is a determined effort from the band to slow down with the guitar sliding in a heavy toned Bloodrock manner. Ken Woodley reaps some great riffs on his hammond through “The World We Seek” with Raspberry not far behind on his gator growling axe. “Been Some Changes” also allows the guitar to spit out some riveting leadbreaks that would have suited the likes of Grand Funk or Rare Earth while “Get The Feelin’” is a vibrant supercharge of percussion and bass where each member has his slice of solo.

If you like organ driven hard rock in the vein of Bloodrock or Atomic Rooster, don’t miss this one.

Alacran - 1969 - Alacran


01. Sticky   
02. Son (America, America)   
03. My Soul (Suddenly)   
04. San Francisco (California)   
05. Take A Look Around You, Baby   
06. Will You Keep My Love Forever

Bass, Lead Vocals – Ignacio Egaña
Drums, Percussion, Guitar – Fernando Arbex
Keyboards, Guitar – Oscar Lasprilla

Alacran is considered one of Spain's rarest albums alongside Maquina's "Why?". Alacran were a difficult one to classify. I'm not surprised, as it's recorded in 1969 it sounds very beat-psych akin to many Italian bands of the same time. Prog hadn't yet quite got to Iberia, whereas American West Coast sounds were still making big inroads. If you like the idea of the latter with a bit of European culture you may find it worthwhile. Short though at just over 25 minutes!

My biggest complaint about this fantastic record is that it is too short (26 min.)! Apparently, it was originally intended  only as a demo, and then released privately, though possibly not by the band. It was picked up by Epic Records for release in Brazil, making it slightly more accessible to collectors. The six cuts offered are all Latin flavored psych, with some wailing, effect treated guitar and sung in English. I personally think the singer has a lousy voice, but he does get the job done. Most of the material is quite hard, and is very reminiscent of a much cooler Santana. My pick would have to be "San Francisco", with "Sticky" and "Son" close seconds. With another 15 minutes of play time, this would be a monster in the collector's world.

Aktuala - 1976 - Tappeto Volante

Tappeto Volante

01. Churinga
02. Ohnedaruth
03. Ugula baliuè african planet
04. Il ritmo del cammello
05. Hare
06. Mr Trilok
07. Chitarra e piffero
08. Echo raga
09. Mediterraneo
10. Flash
11. Waruna
12. Aksak
13. Nettuno dio del mare

- Walter Maioli / arabic oboe, wooden flute, naj, bass flute, maranzano, bass harmonica, sil-sil, seeds, desert flute, sea triton, zampogna, reeds, whistles, bells
- Daniele Cavallanti / Soprano saxophone, dolak, derbuka
- Antonio Cerantola / acoustic guitar
- Kela Rangoni Macchiavelli / zanza, tamboura, maracas, seeds, rings
- Fabrizio Cassanoi / sitar
- Marjon Klok / harp, Tamboura, bells, sil-sil, cymbals
- Trilok Gurtu / tabla, snake drums, maroccan bongos, cymbals, xylophone, cow bells, sil-sil, wood block

Aktuala was incredible italian world-music band, actually a commune of such music lovers. They used very different music instruments of different cultures. The music of Aktuala is one chance to raise a human being upwards realities. Aktuala was founded and lead by Walter Maioli who is nowadays well-known ethnomusicologist, thanks to him for example I have listened something about music of ancient Rome. Tappeto Volante is the 3rd and last recording of Aktuala. I had my first chance to listen this surprisingly fantastic record yesterday. I have read the comments of the listeners that they usually prefer Aktuala (1973) and La Terra (1974). I think maybe I prefer this one to La Terra (unfortunately haven't have a chance to listen the 1st one from 1973). This music is not Arvo Pärt and Giya Kancheli but Tappeto Volante is undoubtedly great psychedelic aspiration to reach to idealities of music and fine arts. In this record (inspirated by Aktuala's members' journey to Morocco) we can listen such kinds of different instruments like for example arabic oboe, wooden flute, nay, darabukka, tamboura, sitar, harp, moroccan congas, maracas, tabla (Trilok Gurtu was in the band this time)... In my oppinion the highlights are: Il Ritmo Del Cammello, Echo Raga, Waruna. Everything in this album is musically great in spite of the guality of recording.

Aktuala - 1974 - La Terra

La Terra

01. Mina
02. Mud
03. Sar
04. La terra

- Walter Maioli / arabic oboe, wooden flute, naj, bass flute, maranzano, bass harmonica, reeds, whistles, bells
- Daniele Cavallanti / Soprano saxophone
- Antonio Cerantola / acoustic guitar, balalaika
- Lino "Capra" Vaccina / maroccan bongos, koborò, african drums, tabla, gong, xylophone, whistles, cymbals, musical bow, percussion
- Otto Corrado / Soprano saxophone, flute, bells
- Attilio Zanchi / acoustic guitar
- Marjon Klok / harp, Tamboura, bells
- Trilok Gurtu / tabla, snake drums, maroccan bongos, cymbals, xylophone, cow bells

 "La Terra" brings us some non-symphonic progressive greetings from Italy. In Aktuala's music many different styles blend as an unique ethnic batik, which should please the ears of the fans of world music and improvisational hypnotics.
The records begins with "Mina", an accordion associating first with western music, but this first impression is soon blurred with the tablas bringing Indian feeling to the sound. As the track opens, freely soloing tenor instruments start floating around, forming a Middle-East like patterns. The ecstatic rhythm pauses for awhile, until it is brought back by pounding dark voices. "Mud" begins with a haunting Islamic theme, which is accompanied by a hypnotic acoustic string instrument and the tablas. The dance of this trio morphs later as faster guitar driven passage, and the flute is changed to a jazzy saxophone, which brings some European influences along to this ethnic mix. Later a strong sound of a bow instrument is introduced, caressing the pulsing rhythm intensively in euphoric manner. Third impression "Sar" rises like a spider climbing up by it's web, which is weaved by help of high pitched harp strings, and soon the music begins to swirl around peacefully, allowing the baritone strings, tablas and flutes to start their geometrical movements, leading to a furious acoustic run.

The last title song is the longest one of the four, lasting a bit over ten minutes, as the three previous had duration between six to eight minutes. The beginning of "La Terra" is a large peaceful space created by an Indian like monotonous drone, some casual touches of metallic percussive and bird-like shrieks. Guitars begin to carve out concrete shapes from this hazy mist, and later a flute and a harp are joined. Tempo starts to grow slowly, reaching the climax after about five minutes, leaving relaxing guitar patterns to linger in the air. Another variation of this run follows soon, lead by the pulse of a mouth harp, then fading into the silence.

Along with few other uses of in and out fadings done during the mixing of this album, it is hard for me to find anything else to criticize on this fabulous album. And these solutions are not as irritating in this kind of slow and ethereal music, as they can be when used in rock music. This record can be recommended to be listened whilst burning incenses, charming snakes and among other activites of mystic piety.

Aktuala - 1973 - Aktuala


01. When The Light Began
02. Mammoth R.C.
03. Altamira
04. Sarah' Ngwega
05. Alef's Dance
06. Dejanira

- Walter Maioli / arabic oboe, bamboo flute, bass flute, piccolo, metalflute in C, harmonica, reeds, whistles, djembe, percussion
- Daniele Cavallanti / soprano sax, tenor sax, clarin
- Antonio Cerantola / 6 stings acoustic guitar, 12 stings acoustic guitar, balalaika, zither, dulcimer, viola, violin
- Lino "Capra" Vaccina / maroccan bongos, koborò, african drums, tabla, gong, xilophone, whistles, cymbals, musical bow, marimba, percussion
- Laura Maioli / tambura, percussion, whistles

Both passionate collectors of ancient and ethnic instruments, husband and wife Walter and Laura Maioli got together in 1973 with sax player Caniele Cavallanti, guitarist Antonio Cerantola and percussionist Lino Vaccina to form AKTUALA (which means 'actually' in Esperanto). This is a furiously eclectic band whose Arabian, African and Indian themes are built around trance-inducing repetition. Apart from OREGON, they were one of the first to craft a coherent, gimmick-free hybrid of improvisional jazz with a pan-cultural approach to ethnic music, although theirs is much more loosely conceived than that of OREGON. They released three albums between 1973 and 1976 and then broke up. Walter Maioli is today recognized among Italy's foremost experts in prehistoric music-making.

Their second album, "La Terra" (74), is considered their masterpiece, surpassing even the more ambitious but poorly recorded "Tappeto Volante" (76). "La Terra" contains four extended instrumental tracks that combine Indian percussion, strains of American jazz and blues as well as Mediterranean and North African ethnic music. It features additional musicians each mastering yet another ethnic instrument: among them are Trilok Gurtu - who later went on to play with John McLaughlin and OREGON - as well as saxophonist Daniele Cavallanti and guitarist Attilo Zanchi, both now well-established members of the Italian jazz scene.

Aktuala have an amazing sound that is not at all what one would typically expect to hear from an Italian band making what is supposed to be folk music. There albums are quite difficult to find today, but are well worth the effort for those who have an interest in complex, primitive music like raga and non-Anglo old folk.
There are no less than three dozen instruments employed on this album, with most of them representing African and Caribbean roots as well as Latin and more traditional sounds. The rhythms are provided via djembe hand drums, Moroccan bongos, koborò and other earthy African drums, while the stringed instruments include The Eastern tambura, zither and hammered dulcimer, as well as a Russian balalaika, violin and of course all manner of six and twelve string guitars. There are also plenty of horns including saxophone, clarinet, oboe, piccolo and various flutes, along with all manner of percussion mostly of the African or Eastern variety.

Like I said this is primitive music in its construction, but the execution shows both a mastery and reverence for ancient musical principles and execution. Third Ear Band comes to mind as a reference for putting this band into some sort of context, and they have also been compared to the experimental jazz outfit Oregon. These are both valid comparisons, but Aktuala go much further than either of those bands in experimenting and mixing sound to form a true world music collage.

The opening “When the Light Began” showcases all these instruments in a rambling, hypnotic swirl of sounds that will leave listeners breathless and also wanting more. The shorter and more brisk “Alef's Dance” is in a similar vein that comes across sounding as if this is meant to be some sort of dance arrangement of undetermined historical and ethnic origin, but with unmistakable Eastern roots.

The most bizarre track is “Mammoth RC” which combines African rhythms and percussion with a frenzied blast of horn-driven cacophony that I guess is supposed to be free-form jazz and which has little perceptible structure or melody. But it comes around at the end and closes with a thudding African drum beat that leaves one with a sense of completion.

“Sarah' Ngwega” is a bit like “Alef’s Dance” in that it is spirited, highly percussive and danceable, while the closing “Dejanira” has a persistent drum beat and jazzy horns mixed with tambura to create an almost spiritual mood.

This is definitely not what one would expect from Italian folk music, and in fact it isn’t. The only things that are really Italian here are most of the musicians. For fans of primitive and world music this is a treat waiting to be discovered, and I highly recommend it. This is about as close to a five star album as I’ve heard in quite a while, and in fact I’m going to give it that in recognition of the fact that it grabbed me right by the ears and held my attention the very first time I heard it. There’s very little music that does that any more, so for those spend an awful lot of time experiencing and delving into different forms of music all the time, this may be an acquired taste but it will likely also be a huge treat.

Akropolis - 1979 - Half A Million Hours Symphony

Half A Million Hours Symphony

01. Overture (2:57)
02. Movement (Birth) (5:50)
03. Movement (Puberty) (6:40)
04. Movement (Adult Age) (6:47)
05. Movement (Old Age) (8:56)
06. Movement (Death) (4:22)

- Jens Lund / vocals, guitars
- Jørn Bennedbæk / guitars
- James Templeton / keyboards
- Hans Johannsen / bass
- James Pearson / drums

This obsure Danish group is a great candidate for one of the most ridiculous covers in the history of music.Akropolis were born in mid-70's, reputedly led by keyboardist James Templeton, and ended their run in 1979 with the release of ''Half a million hours symphony'' (Circle Records), which featured also Jens Lund on vocals/guitar, Jørn Bennedbæk on guitar, Hans Johannsen on bass and James Pearson on keyboards.These bunch of Glam-Disco Rockers/nurds-alike, as shown on the front cover, actually played a pretty well-crafted and definitely progressive music.There is not a chance in a million for anyone to purchase this rare and very expensive album, pressed in 500 copies, of which only 300 are said to be saved, if no music samples had become available.So, the material is somekind of Sympho Rock with strong AOR/Pomp Rock vibes and more discreet Fusion/Hard Rock underlines, split in an opening overture and five quite long movements with rich instrumental work in a pompous enviroment and early Eloy/Message-like rhythmic patterns.The symphonic parts are much in the vein of Yes, though not quite as good, with some great, balanced keyboard work, acoustic breaks and even some interesting melodies.Vocal work is a bit over the top with a singer delivering a diverse performance.The history of the band came to an end, after Templeton formed a brand new musical act in 1980.

Akritas - 1973 - Akritas



01. Εισβολεις [Invader] (1:03)
02. Γεννηση [Genesis] (0:59)
03. Τα Παιδια [The Family] (2:14)
04. Μνημη [Memory] (3:38)
05. Επιστροφη [Return] (1:30)
06. Αγαπη [Love] (2:49)
07. Ego (4:25)
08. Τραγουδι [Song] (0:58)
09. Το Πανηγυρι [The Festival] (3:50)
10. Το Ονειρο [The Miracle] (2:35)
11. Το Θαυμα [The Dream] (4:56)
12. Και Ιδου Ιππος Χλωρος [Look Both Horse and Green] (1:01)
13. Κατακτηση & Ζετα Ζωρζετα [Conquest & Z Force] (3:05)

- Aris Tasoulis / keyboard
- Stavros Logaridis / bass, vocal, acoustic guitar
- Giorgos Tsoupakis / drums

- Dimos Papachristou / electric guitar

 This is without a doubt one of the best recordings to come out of Greece. Released in 1973 this album seems to have far more in common with some of those Italian greats from the same time period than anyone else.This is different but very interesting. Just over 33 minutes in length this album has a psychedelic flavour at times but there's lots of complexity as well. AKRITAS were a trio of drums, bass and keyboards although the bass player also plays acoustic guitar. A guest lead guitarist was added for this album and it's so cool to hear the two guitarists playing together.The album cover is stunning ! By the way the man who wrote the lyrics here also did them for APHRODITES CHILD's "666" record.
"Invader" opens with drums and synths that pulsate then the guitar comes in lighting it up after a minute. A calm with vocals and piano follows then it kicks back in to end it. Great track. "Genesis" opens with a pastoral sound as a beat with reserved vocals join in.This changes before a minute as the vocalist cries out.This is a moving section full of passion. "The Family" reminds me of POPOL VUH the way the lead guitarist plays while the acoustic guitar is strummed. Drums arrive around 1 1/2 minutes. "Memory" is an organ only tune that gets quite powerful at times. "Return" opens with organ as the drums join in and it builds. Piano a minute in replaces the organ. Guitar follows.

"Love" opens with light keys and drums. Mellow stuff. Bass follows then it kicks in 1 1/2 minutes in. Piano over top.The tempo picks up before 3 minutes.Spacey synths late. "Ego" is mainly piano melodies and reserved vocals. "Song" has these gorgeous sounding piano melodies then the drums join in. Great sound. Guitar before 2 minutes. So good. "The Festival" is a piano and drum led track. "The Miracle" is laid back with acoustic guitar,piano and reserved vocals. I like it. "The Dream" opens with vocals that remind me of Italian Prog. Strummed guitar with the lead guitar over top again in that POPOL VUH style. Things get intense late. "Look Both Horse & Green" features piano throughout with other sounds. "Conquest & Z Force" opens with guitar then synths join in followed by reserved vocals. A psychedelic track if i've ever heard one.

An adventerous album from a band who didn't believe there were any boundries when it came to music. Man the early seventies must have been such an exciting time for both the musician and the music fan.

Jan Akkerman - 1987 - Heartware

Jan Akkerman 

01. My pleasure
02. Just because, so
03. Lost and found
04. Heartware
05. Winterborn lyric
06. Lonely street of dreams
07. Firenze

- Jan Akkerman / Guitars, Bass, Synths, MIDI interfaces including Roland
- Ton Dijkman / Drums
- Michael Peet / Bass

There's a limited edition of the album which features the song Prima Donna. It was sold during the 1988 German-tour and has a limit of only 1000 copies. I don't own that special version, but it exists. No record company was willing to release Heartware, so he had to release it by himself. The album is featuring his new drummer for years Ton Dijkman, but it is a less interesting Akker-record. My Pleasure is nothing more as a new version of Beethoven's Revenge, from the '85 Focus album. It's kept shorter this time and less boring. Just Because,So is a remake of Just Because from the Can't Stand Noise album. In both cases you can call it elevator-music. Lost and Found is the most inspired track on Heartware; good solos and a treatment for the ears. In fact it's one of his better songs ever. You can describe the remaining tracks as soundtrack music without a movie, or maybe also elevator-music. However, Firenze is a nice acoustic track and it's worth to spend your precious time on it.

Jan Akkerman - 1984 - From The Basement

Jan Akkerman
From The Basement

01. Headbanger
02. All along the watchtower
03. Dark Rose
04. Wallenberg
05. From the Basement
06. PCB Chicken
07. Status Quo

- Jan Akkerman / Guitars
- Dino Walcott / Bass, Vocals
- Hans Waterman / Drums
- Thijs van Leer / 2o synthesiser on 'Headbanger'
- Piet Eisma / Percussion
- Sergio Costillo / Simmons on 'Headbanger'

Showcasing Akkerman`s heavier side, From The Basement is full of suprises from a Reggae version of Bob Dylan`s All Along The Watchtower with Dino Walcott on vocals to an extended jam at the end of the CD which will blow you completely away. Jan just let`s her rip for 15 minutes. A heavier updated version of an oldie but a goldie appears in the form of of Dark Rose from the Brainbox days, with Kaz Lux dropping in to provide the vocal power. In a more thoughtful track Jan pays a mesmerizing musical tribute to Raoul Wallenberg using the Roland synth axe to great advantage. The remaining tracks signal a return to the old- style electric guitar wizadry Akkerman was known for while playing in Focus in the seventies ( sorry no lutes here folks ).
Fans of Akkerman`s unique approach to the electric guitar will not be dis-appointed with this one. Additions on the HUX CD offerring includes outakes from the " Basement " sessions as well as other subsequently recorded material along with liner notes from the Dutch Master himself. Put the headphones on and crank this one up to eleven!

Jan Akkerman - 1983 - Can't Stand Noise

Jan Akkerman 
Can't Stand Noise

01. Pietons
02. Everything Must Change
03. Back To The Factory
04. Journey (A Real Elegant Gypsy)
05. Heavy Treasure
06. Just Because
07. Who Knows

- Jan Akkerman / Guitars

The track "Who Knows" is listed on both the album cover and on the label of the vinyl record, however there are in fact only three tracks on sides one and two. This is probably an example of the Akkerman humour at work.

 Through this album Jan Akkerman demonstrates his consistency in terms of musical approach where he chose jazz-rock as a platform and let the improvisation, not necessarily using guitar as main soloist, works on top of that platform. He proves it through the composition he crafted at the opening track "Pietons" where the basic platforms is so obvious in jazz-rock landscape. Well, not all of his albums in the same vein though.
As far as composition, I enjoy the fourth track "Journey (A Real Elegant Gypsy)" which initially presumed would be similar, musically, with Al Di Meola's. One really can sense his guitar style having listened to some of his albums. Other tracks "Back To The Factory" and "Just Because" demonstrate his virtuosities not only in playing his guitar strings but also in composing music under jazz-roxck vein.

Jan Akkerman - 1982 - Pleasure Point

Jan Akkerman
Pleasure Point

01. Valdez
02. Heavy Pleasure
03. Cool in the shadow
04. Visions of blue
05. C.S.
06. Bird island

- Jan Akkerman / Guitars, 6 string Bass, Synthesisers
- Jasper Van T'Hof / Keyboards
- Joachim Kuhn / Keyboards
- Jim Campagnola / Tenor sax
- Pablo Nahar / Bass
- Roland Zeldenrust / Drums
- Hans Waterman / Drums
- Martino Matupeyressa / Percussion

 The album was recordedin '79, but it took three years to find a label willing to bring it out! On the album there's a leading part for the guitarsynthesizer, Jan's new discovery. The songs Valdez, Visions of Blue and C.S. bring you only his guitar, colored by the synths. The other songs are jazz-rock., once again performed with Jasper van 't Hof and Joachim Kühn. Heavy Treasure was later re-recorded for Can't Stand Noise.

Jan Akkerman - 1982 - It Could Happen To You

Jan Akkerman
It Could Happen To You

01. Old Tennis Shoes (11:30)
02. Come Closer (7:50)
03. Funkology (11:50)
  a Baby Start
  b One Way
  c Free
04. It Could Happen To You (Free Together) (5:25)

- Jan Akkerman / Acoustic, Electric, Synthesizer Guitars
- Kenneth Knudsen / Keyboards
- Pablo Nahar / Bass on "Baby Start"
- Ole Theil / Drums

 With It Could Of Happened To You the legendary Focus guitarist stays on target and true to form. Some Eighties elements creep in, but Jan puts them to good use. This includes some very creative use of a drum machine, believe it or not! Akkerman incorporates eighties technology wisely, and the result is still very listenable...all prejudices aside of course.
Jan transformed his sound in 1977 with his self-titled album to become one of the first master musicians to risk venturing into jazz/fusion. His is not the funky keyboard/sax sound of Weather Report, or Herbie Hancock, nor the furious fret-oriented way of Mahavishnu or Lifetime. No, Akkerman presented the listener a more European and refined sound, that was, come to think of it, no less funky, or for that matter no less furious then those previously mentioned.

This is a short record, clocking in at less than 40 minutes. The consolation is that there is no filler and all four songs reach their maximum potential as Akkerman stretches right out in typically confident fashion. Old Tennis Shoes is as comfortable and relaxing as...well, old tennis shoes. Come Closer is enticing, but the real standout is Funkology. DJ's might want to give this one a listen, as it has dance-floor potential.

It is the title song that grows on you most however: its sweet dreaminess could go on all day. It is a beautiful song, plain and simple.

You might fall in love with this album too: it could happen to you.

Jan Akkerman - 1981 - Oil In The Family

Jan Akkerman 
Oil In The Family

01. Oil In The Family (6:23)
02. Formula N-one (9:38)
03. Disc-O-Asis (7:05)
04. No Doubt About It (5:42)
05. Family Reprise (1:04)
06. Blue In The Shadow (3:56)
07. A Family In The Oil (3:12)

- Jan Akkerman / guitars, synthesizer guitars, bass
- Jim Campagnola / sax
- Ab Tamboer / vibes, marimbas and drums
- Eddie Conard / percussion

Recorded as a result of a bet ( which he won ) with a Dutch DJ that he could make an album in 24 hours, the always unpredictable and enigmatic Akkerman came out with this middle- eastern influenced disco beat gem as one of the tracks, Disc-O-Asis, would suggest. Fueled by heavy rythmic synthesizer guitar and bass this album became a big seller in Turkey. As far as prog fans are concerned, if this was played without previous knowledge that it was an Akkerman project, they would probably think it was from the top ten list from Egypt or Iran. With the exception of the more laid back Blue In the Shadow, get ready for Jan Akkerman goes disco. However it is done very tastefully and has some pretty catchy guitar hooks ( repetetive as they are ) which remind me of some early stuff by Canadian fusion band UZEB. Though not of particular interest to the traditional prog fan, Focus and Jan Akkerman completists might want to check out this interesting musical experiment from one of the world`s foremost guiar virtiousos.

Jan Akkerman & Kaz Lux - 1980 - Transparental

Jan Akkerman & Kaz Lux 

01. Inspiration (6:13)
02. Apocalypso (6:18)
03. Concentrate, don't hesitate (6:41)
04. Transparental (1:15)
05. I don't take it much longer (3:52)
06. Marsha (5:05)
07. You're not the type (6:04)
08. The party is over (4:26)

- Kaz Lux / Vocals and Guitar
- Jan Akkerman / Guitars and Roland Guitar Synthesiser
- Cees van der Laarse / Bass
- Pierre van der Linden / Drums
- Manuel Lopez / Drums on "Marsha" and "The Party's Over"
- Rick van der Linden / Keyboards
- Eddy Conard / Percussion
- Grace van der Laarse / Percussion

In 1980 Jan Akkerman made another album with his old Brainbox buddy and singer Kaz Lux. Three years earlier, in 1977, they made a duo album for the first time. This album (Eli) contained some good, warm sounding tracks. On it Akkerman didn't showcase his pyrotechnics but played his tasteful chords. It was recorded with the help of interesting musicians like Pierre van der Linden (ex-Brainbox, ex-Focus, ex-Trace) and Rick van der Linden (ex-Ekseption, ex-Trace).
The new collaboration is also done with the help of the van der Linden's (no relatives) but it sounds rather cold, when compared to Eli. There is still the bluesy voice of Lux and there are even some solos by Akkerman. But all in all it is less appealing. Overall it sounds funky. The first two tracks are all right and Marcha is a nice ballad, but the last two tracks are just fillers (the last one a bad reggae tune).

If you enjoyed Eli, you better listen to this one before you purchase it, because it sounds completely different.

Jan Akkerman & Joachim Kühn - 1979 - Live! The Kiel-Stuttgart Concert

Jan Akkerman & Joachim Kühn 
Live! The Kiel-Stuttgart Concert

01. Santa Barbara - First Dance (15:27)
02. Santa Barbara - Second Dance    (20:28)

- Jan Akkerman / guitars
- Joachim Kühn / keyboards

Jan Akkerman - 1979 - 3

Jan Akkerman

01. Stingray (Get up with that)
02. Wait and see
03. She's so divine
04. Funk me
05. This is the one
06. Nightprayer
07. Time out of mind

Line-up / Musicians
Jan Akkerman / Gguitars
Peter Schön / Keyboards
Gene Santini / Bass
Bruno Castellucci / Drums
Neppie Noya / Percussion on "She's so divine"
Duane Hitchings / keyboards
Bunny Brunell / Bass
David Igelfeld / Drums

Jan Akkerman's last album from the glorious '70's named very simply 3, issued in 1979, is a change in direction after the great seftitled album from 1977. Here we have an Akkerman cought on the wrong path by funk music and soul in places but keeping here and there his recogning style jazz fusion. I guess the best track is the opening one, the rest is funk jazz, not entirely bad, for me, background music in principal but well performed. Anyway quite far from his best works and more towards of what done in that period musicians like George Duke on Follow the rainbow then. I will give still 3 stars, works for me every time I've listing to this record. Enjoyble but forgetable in comparation with 1977 selftitled album.

Jan Akkerman - 1978 - Live Montreux Jazz Festival 1978

Jan Akkerman
Live Montreux Jazz Festival 1978

01. Transitory (2:07)
02. Skydancer (8:35)
03. Pavane (7:15)
04. Crackers (6:50)
05. Tommy (3:36)
06. Azimuth (6:09)

- Jan Akkerman / guitars
- Jasper Van 't Hoff / keyboards
- Cees Van Der Laarse / bass
- Bruno Castelucci / drums
- Tom Barlage / saxes & keyboards
- Willem Ennes / keyboards
- Nippie Noya / percussion

This Jan Akkerman record is a real gem! After firs spin I was convinced this by far his best live album. The material comes mainly from his self-titled record (1977), though Tommy (of the Eruption suite) of Focus is added and two new compositions in the spirit of the self-titled Jan Akkerman album. The recording of this live album is perfect, nothing more can be expected, not even today.

For newcomers. Jan Akkerman is ex-guitarist of Dutch prog band Focus. In his solo career he concentrated on jazz-rock/fusion and some historical lute-guitar playing. Though at first (Profile, Tabernakel) Jan akkerman would use his rockin' electric guitars most of the time, in 1977 Jan decided to become the master of the clean jazz-guitar. This resulted in the 1977 self-titled album with clean guitars, a great band and the best of string arrangements. The compositions had a relaxing but slightly magical vibe and some up-tempo moments. Most of the compositions of this record were played on this live album.

Now, the problem Akkerman and band had to face was the fact that on the album these unbelievable string arrangements made a big contribution to the end result, but they weren't able to get such an arrangement for their tour. The problem was successfully solved by adding an inspired percussionist (I love his contribution) and some synths that both helped to establish a more progressive climate, though the main genre would still be fusion. The two minuted atmospheric synth opening track by Jasper Van 't Hoff really gets me warm for the rest of the album!

A nice track from the Focus era, Tommy, is played with precision but the great vocals of Thijs van Leer are a loss. Still the band makes a great symphonic jazz track with that magical feel and the great guitar solo's (this time clean) of Jan Akkerman.

Conclusion. This recording is perfect, the tracks are great, there's a magical progressive climate on this concert, all instruments are played perfect, some problems concerning the arrangements were solved very intelligent and Jan Akkerman plays plain beautiful. There's only one letdown: the album is short. Running for 35 minutes this doesn't live up to the standards of these days. Still this album is highly recommended to basically every-one who can hear the difference between elevator music and great Fusion.