Saturday, January 16, 2016

Hummingbird - 1977 - Diamond Nights

Diamond Nights

01. Got My «Led Boots» On
02. Spirit
03. Cryin’ For Love
04. She Is My Lady
05. You Can’t Hide Love
06. Anaconda
07. Madatcha
08. Losing You (Ain’t No Doubt About It)
09. Spread Your Wings
10. Anna’s Song

Bobby Tench - guitar, vocals
Bernie Holland - guitar
Clive Chapman - bass
Max Middleton - keyboards
Bernard Purdie - drums

Pancho Morales - percussion
Airto Moreira - percussion
Quitman Dennis - horn
Chuck Findley - horn
Jim Horn - woodwind
Lisa Freeman Roberts - Back vocals
Paulette McWilliams - Back vocals
Venetta Fields - Back vocals
Stephanie Spruill - Back vocals
Julia Tillman a Waters - Back vocals
Maxine Willard a Waters - Back vocals

Before they were playing Rock/Blues/Jazz fusion with Jeff Beck as Jeff Beck Group with super drummer Cozy Powell. They released Hummingbird, then Diamond Nights and it is just great to hear their music with Bernard Purdie, Airto Moreira, Chuck Findley, Jim Horn, many other great vocalists. This is their best recording but all of them are great.Very good for Bobby Tench, Clive Chapman and Max Middleton that were always the base and A&M with Ian Samwell and Hummingbird

Hummingbird - 1976 - We Can not Go On Meeting

We Can not Go On Meeting

01. Fire And Brimstone
02. Gypsy Skys
03. Trouble Maker
04. Scorpio
05. We Can not Go On Meeting Like This
06. The City Mouse
07. A Friend Forever
08. Heaven Knows (Where You've Been)
09. Snake Snack
10. Let It Burn

Tench Bobby - guitar, vocals
Bernie Holland - guitar
Robert Ahwai - the Guitar
Clive Chaman - bass
Max Middleton - keyboards
Bernard "Pretty" Purdie - drums
Liza Strike - Back vocals
Madeline Bell - Back vocals
Joanne Williams - Back vocals

Hummingbird on this, the band's second album was essentially the Jeff Beck Group without Beck. Seasoned players all, keyboardist Max Middleton appeared with the Beck, Bogart, Appice project as well as Nazareth's classic 'Hair of the Dog' LP and guitarist Bobby Tench is one of those journeyman players who could never stay still for too long, moving through stints with Widowmaker, Streetwalkers, Humble Pie and many others. Yet despite such a large pool of talent, Hummingbird never really broke out as a major league group. In fact interviews with Middleton, Tench and guitarist Bernie Holland reveal very little about Hummingbird which is odd considering the group released three albums to critical acclaim and worthy of investigation.

Heavy on the jazz, blues and funk influences Hummingbird eclipsed most groups of the era not only due to the quality of the players, but the progressive rock vibe found in most of their work. Average White Band fans will find Hummingbird of interest in the funkier tracks like 'Fire And Brimstone' and 'Trouble Maker' but for this listener it's the fusion sound of Hummingbird where the group truly finds their mark with the gorgeous 'Gypsy Skies' on side one and 'The City Mouse' on the flip taking best in show. Personally I could have done with less funk and more fusion but the record is what it is and succeeds despite its yin/yang.

I have to be in the mood for an album like this and I'm sure most readers will find themselves feeling the same, but only you know how much you can take. Groups like Santana and Journey have been covered on these pages and both have touched on this style which peaked in the mid- 1970's with people like Bob James, Herbie Hancock and the aforementioned Average White Band leading the charge. 'We Can't Go On Meeting Like This' stands shoulder to shoulder with the best of them and is worth seeking out for those wanting something different, in particular the hard to find Japanese CD version.

Hummingbird - 1975 - Hummingbird


01. Music Flowing
02. You Can Keep The Money
03. Such A Long Ways
04. Horrors
05. I Don 't Know Why I Love You
06. Maybe
07. For The Children's Sake
08. Ocean Blues
09. Island Of Dreams

Tench Bobby - guitar, vocals
Bernie Holland - guitar
Clive Chaman - bass
Max Middleton - keyboards
Conrad Isidore - drums
Linda Lewis - Back vocals

Bob Tench, Max Middleton, and Clive Chaman were 3/4ths of Jeff Beck's 2nd band which made "Rough & Ready" and the "Orange" record. Bringing in Conrad Isadore (drums) and Bernie Holland(gtr) they formed Hummingbird. This project was certainly in somewhat the same musical bag, and features the criminally ignored vocal talents of Bobby Tench. Bernie Holland, a good  guitarist stamped straight out of the Beck mold, can't boast the chops, taste or touch of Beck of course, but he's a good fit for what's on offer here. This LP also gives a lot of musical space to the superb piano & Fender Rhodes playing of Max Middleton, who of course continued with Beck on "Blow by Blow".

This is a tight little record distinquished by a brace of good material and some lovely playing. It's funky, soulful and atmospheric, often all in the course of a single tune. Side 2 of the original vinyl is particularly well laid out. They went on to make two further LPs, but stumbled on both of them due to lackluster material. This is the one to seek out.

Guns & Butter - 1972 - Guns & Butter

Guns & Butter 
Guns & Butter

01. I Am (4:24)
02. Time Has Wings/Introduction (3:50)
03. Look at the Day (2:37)
04. Sometimes (8:34)
05. It Can't Go On Like This (3:09)
06. Our Album    (3:04)
07. Lady Grey (3:48)
08. Family (2:33)
09. Elysium's Butterfly Comes (2:32)
10. The Wanderer (5:27)

- Peter Cohen / Bass
- Lenny Federer / Violin, Viola
- Jeff Lyons / Vocals
- Richard Ploss / Flute, Saxophone
- Peter Tucker / Drums
- Paul Cohen / Guitar

Jeff Lyons (vocals), Peter Cohen (bass),Paul Cohen (guitar) and Peter Tucker (drums) have been fooling around since their early teens. In 1970 Richard Ploss (sax, flute) joined the band, nad the band took the name GUNS AND BUTTER. In the summer of the same year, Lenny Federer, classically trained violinist started jamming wit them and soon joined the band, which found a new musical direction.

The music of this bizarre Boston-based combo is a mixture of classical music, radio friendly rock, jazz-rock, blues and many other things: they released one album (in 1972) before falling into obscurity. The music of GUNS AND BUTTER is well worth checking, especially if a listener is into early Eclectic artists, like EAST OF EDEN.

Guns & Butter were a band probably doomed to failure from the very start, victims of both changing times and musical tastes as well as an obvious socio-cultural chasm between them and most of what would have needed to be their target audience for them to be successful. From their academic band name to the musical and social pedigree of some of the members (Lenny Federer was a classically trained on violin in Europe, New York and Israel while Rich Ploss studied at the renowned Berklee College of Music), the band was bound to end up as something of a novelty act that failed to translate their appeal to record executives into something more popular and lasting.
The Cohen brothers Peter and Paul, along with vocalist Jeff Lyons scored a record deal with Atlantic while barely out of high school, but it would take the addition of Federer, Ploss and drummer Peter Tucker to turn them into a true band. Following a period of local gigs doing covers and derivative tunes the band managed to put together enough original music to fill an entire album. The folk and progressive influences are obvious; the Beatles (particularly McCartney), Donovan, a little West Coast psych in addition to classical structures as varied as Baroque, some strident Wagner-leaning keyboard arrangements and plenty of fuzz guitar as well as playful violin/flute interplay. In the end it's as hard to describe as it is to classify, and therefore almost by definition too narrowly-defined to achieve mass appeal.

The Federer tunes are the easiest to identify, filled as they are with complex arrangements focused on carefully crafted chord sequences that leverage the orchestral instruments like flute, violin and keyboards that sound like a spinet much more than guitar, bass or even drums. The nearly eight-minute "Sometimes" is the most obvious, while the opening "I Am" also throws in some saxophone and inflected, embellished Romance-era percussion and guitar flourishes. "Time Has Wings" is the other Federer composition and this one is centered almost exclusively on the violin with some understated, Eastern-sounding guitar and folksy vocals.

On the other hand Paul Cohen seems to have preferred a more pop direction with the light and melodic "Look at the Day" as well as "Our Album", a song that sounds for all the world like it was recorded at the corner of Haight and Ashbury in late 1968.

But Ploss is the most varied and interesting composer in the group, ranging from the British-folk inflected "It Can't Go on Like This" to "Lady Grey" which would pass for a California 70s soft-rock tune were it not for the jazzy saxophone solo that fills the middle of the tune. And "Elysium's Butterfly Comes" though brief is one of the more haunting and arresting songs on the album with it's creepy, strident violin score and soothing, supportive acoustic guitar. This guy really should have stuck with it even when the band imploded.

Unfortunately there is almost no information about this band following the release and immediate disappearance of this album. Given the times (1972), its not surprising such an eclectic fusion of folk, classical and progressive music would not take off. Still, too bad such an interesting and promising group couldn't have either formed five years sooner or somewhere besides New England; if so, they might have lasted long enough for at least one more try. A solid three star effort for this one anyway, and a hearty recommendation to fans of folk, classically-inspired rock and any of a wide range of sounds that came out of the Boston area from the mid sixties pretty much all the way to today.

Grits - 2008 - Rock and Roll Madness

Rock and Roll Madness

01. I Want You Again (4:20)
02. Too Rowdy (4:47)
03. Hustler (5:05)
04. Let's Break Eddie Out of Jail (5:39)
05. Rock and Roll Madness (5:54)
06. Space Rock (8:57)

- Rick Barse / keyboards, vocals
- Tom Wright / guitar, viola, bass, vocals
- Amy Taylor / bass, violin, vocals
- Bob Sims / drums, vocals

More unreleased Grits... but I have no info whatsoever, a visitor sent me the audio files without any extra info... so feel free to add to it... please!

Grits - 1976 - Rare Birds

Rare Birds

01. Jupiter Jam (13:05)
02. Inside Straight (11:58)
03. Communa Lacrimosa (3:25)
04. Easy For You (3:16)
05. Glad All Over (3:31)
06. As The World Grits (14:11)
07. Rare Birds (25:51)

Recorded live 8/21/76 in Gaithersburg, Maryland

- Rick Barse / keyboards, vocals
- Tom Wright / guitar, viola, bass, vocals
- Amy Taylor / bass, violin, vocals
- Bob Sims / drums, vocals...

Overlooked US act, which didn't manage to record an official album during the years of its existence. Grits came from the Washington area, featuring four classically-trained musicians and started their music journey around 1970. Founder of the band keyboardist Rick Barse wrote most of the band's material,which included also female singer/bassist/violin player Amy Taylor, drummer/singer Bob Simms and guitarist/singer Tom Wright. They had a regular live activity and composed tons of original material, but it won't be until 1993, when Cuneiform Records would release some tracks from the 1970-75 period of the band through the album ''As the world Grits''. Another album by the same label, ''Rare birds'', would see the light four years later, this time featuring tracks from the second phase of the band around 1976. Grits would disband for good in 1978 and the last period of the band was covered in the album ''Rock and Roll Madness'' with material exclusively composed by Rick Barse. This last offering became available through CDBaby in 2008. Barse sadly passed away from cancer in early 2001, not being able to see the last material composed by him taped on an official album.

Grits had a quite quirky and progressive sound during the years of their existence. They combined early psychedelic influences with some Classical-drenched instrumental themes and notable jazzy inspirations, making FRANK ZAPPA, EAST OF EDEN, MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA and THE MUFFINS as reasonable reference points. Recommended to all 70's Prog fans, who love some Fusion flavor in their menu.
Grits were a jazzy prog band from the Washington DC area in the 1970s. During their existence, they never released an album, but the Cuneiform label dropped two archival releases during the 1990s. While the first one, As the World Grits, concentrates on their studio material, the second one, Rare Birds, captures them in an intimate live setting "in the Muffins' backyard", as the liner notes say. The sound quality is pretty good, not fantastic, but good enough.
The pieces are mostly lengthy instrumentals based around jazzy electric piano, with fluid guitar leads (resembling Zappa's style at times), and occasional violin and/or viola (the bassist and guitarist both double on bowed instruments). The style and execution should appeal to fans of Frank Zappa's Petit Wazoo period (1972), The Muffins, Canterbury, and even early Samla Mammas Manna (bits remind me of their Maltid album). The final magnum opus "Rare Birds" even hints at classical music, with violin taking the lead on a playful melody.

While I was expecting a jam-heavy effort with all the long running times, I was surprised to hear how much of this elaborate music is carefully written and arranged. There are solos, but this is no backyard jam session, this is a talented band giving their all, probably just for a small group of friends in the audience. This isn't the most original band in the world, but they've got chops to spare, and it's nice that someone had the foresight to record this band and at least get them some belated recognition.

Gringo - 1971 - Gringo



01. Cry The Beloved Country (5:54)
02. I'm Another Man (4:15)
03. More And More (4:41)
04. Our Time Is Our Time (5:03)
05. Gently Step Through The Stream (3:54)
06. Emma And Harry (3:54)
07. Moonstone (4:37)
08. Land Of Who Knows Where (4:05)
09. Patriotic Song (5:11)

2002 CD Reissue Bonus Tracks :
10. I'm Another Man [single version] (3:36)
11. Soft Mud [single B-side] (3:16)

- Henry Marsh / guitar, keyboards, vocals
- Simon Byrne / drums, vocals
- Casey / vocals
- John G. Perry / bass, vocals

Like many other short-lived prog-rock bands of the early 70's, Gringo's transmutation from the late 60's pop outfit, The Toast, heralded the birth of a new, exciting musical era whilst, at the same time, casting off for good, the shackles of their pseudo-psychedelic existence.

Formed in 1968 as a three-piece, The Toast embarked upon a busy schedule of gigs culminating in the group recording eight songs for BBC 2's "Colour Me Pop" show which was televised in January 1969.

A year later, aftert having signed to CBS records in August 1969, a single "Flowers Never Bend With The Rainfall", backed by the self-penned "Summer Of Miranda", was issued. The A-side, a Paul Simon cover, was, like the B-side, heavily orchestrated, which sounded, at best, cringe-inducing. "Summer Of Miranda", however, displayed at least traces of their "prog" leanings, which would soon come to the fore.

The single, produced and arranged by Tony Cox, sank without trace but work soon started on recording an album, this time with the addition of a female singer. However, the new vocalist had to return suddenly to the USA, so Cox drafted in another female, this time an Irish born lass called Annette Casey. Annette was originally from Dundalk and arrived in England in 1964 to study. In 1969 she put together a band named Casey & Friends and began to record under Tony Cox Productions. She, together with guitarist / organist Henry Marsh, bassist John G. Perry and drummer Simon Byrne formed the revised line-up.
In the spring of 1970 Toast abandoned the old, tired routine and changed their name to Gringo eager to explore the "new freedoms" offered by the burgeoning progressive movement.

One of Gringo's first assignments was a recording session for Mick Softley where they provided backing vocals on the track "Love Colours" from "Sunrise", his debut album for CBS. Early Gringo gigs saw them paired up with other CBS acts during the summer of 1970 (notably Black Widow, who had achieved near instant success, albeit short-lived).

In March the following year Gringo signed a deal with MCA to record an album and single. The track chosen for the single A-side was the catchy "I'm Another Man" which featured a nifty guitar riff sequence from Marsh and was a natural choice to be lifted from the LP and edited down to a suitable running time for a 45. "Soft Mud", the inspired B-side, is typical Gringo, full of quirky time-changes and tempting twists and turns plus, of course, the melodramatic vocal harmonies that were such an integral part of the group's sound. Both sides of this elusive single are included on this CD as bonus tracks.
Gringo's eponymous LP was released by MCA following a Dutch tour in the summer of 1971. The band's hectic schedule had seen them performing to eager audiences in England and throughout the continent (as illustrated in this booklet by the inclusion of a rare photograph taken during a free concert the group performed in Megeve, whilst on tour with Caravan and Barclay James Harvest).
In November of that year bassist John G. Perry left the group to join Iranquility. Nevertheless, plans were announced for work to start on recording a second LP which was reputedly going to be produced by Jon Hiseman. Meanwhile Casey had got herself married and now went under her new title of Casey Synge.
The band carried on until the summer of 1972 but sadly there was to be no follow-up album to their promising debut from the previous year. Marsh went on to play in SAILOR whilst Casey joined a female outfit called Thunder Thighs who had a hit in 1974 with "Central Park Arrest" and also provided backing vocals for Leigh Stevens, Pilot, Lou Reed, Mott The Hoople, Cockney Rebel, Marsha Hunt and Maggie Bell.

After his stint with Iranquility, John G. Perry went on to join Spreadeagle, Caravan and Aviator. In 1976 Decca released his solo album "Sunset Wading".

Grannie - 1971 - Grannie



01. Leaving
02. Romany Return
03. Tomorrow Today
04. Saga of the Sad Jester
05. Dawn
06. Coloured Armageddon

Phil Newton (guitar, vocals)
Dave ‘H’ Holland (bass, vocals)
Fred Lilley (vocals)
Johnny Clark (drums)
Jan Chandler (flute, vocals)

What became Grannie formed around guitarist Phil Newton in 1968/69 and was initially a cover band playing gigs around East London. Newton then began to write for the band and they began to master tracks like Leaving, Romany Refrain and Saga Of The Sad Jester in rehearsals. Around this time, Newton saw an advert in the Melody Maker for an all-inclusive deal at David Richardson’s SRT business that offered 8 hours of studio time, a master tape and 99 finished LPs for £100. A booking was made and the line-up that went into the studio some time in 1971 was Phil Newton (lead guitar/vocals), Dave ‘H’ Holland (bass/vocals), Fred Lilley (vocals), Johnny Clark (drums) and the futures Mrs. Newton, Jan Chandler (flute/vocals). There was also an appearance by John ‘Stevie’ Stevenson who played keyboards on one track Coloured Armageddon. the band began to play on the club circuit at venues like The Greyhound, The Marquee and even the Roundhouse although their journey ended when all of their gear - including one of the first mellotrons - was stolen.

'The quality of this unknown outfit's sole album effort is clear. It's guitar-led soft rock, similar in style to Wishbone Ash's debut, with the bonus of a half-decent singer and an abscence of keyboards. One of the rarest albums of the period, and a very pleasant surprise.' - Giles Hamilton/Galactic Ramble

Fantastic, relatively unknown in common rock circles and worth an absolute fortune for an original. The music has a Led Zep, Wishbone Ash sound to it with good use of light and shade, heavy and soft dynamics. Great guitar driven sounds and good use of the hammond organ make this record a must listen which will not dissapoint. Has a well earned spot in my top 10.

Gass - 1970 - Gass


01. Kulu Se Mama - 7.14
02. Holy Woman - 5.29
03. Yes I Can - 6.51
04. Juju - 3.39
05. Black Velvet - 3.50
06. House For Sale - 3.47
07. Cold Light Of Day - 4.13
08. Cool Me Down - 6.10

All songs by G. McClean, D. Harper and R. Tench

*Robert Tench - Bass, Guitar, Organ, Vocals
*Godfrey Mclean - Drums, Congas, Vocals, Percussion
*Delisle Harper - Bass, Percussion
*Derek Austin - Organ, Piano, Flute, Percussion
*Michael Piggott - Violin, Guitar
*Junior Kerr - Guitar
*Errol Mclean - Congas
*Humphrey Okah - Sax
*Lan Roskans - Lead Guitar
*Frank Clark - Organ
*Peter Green - Guitar

Bob Tench (also frequently credited as Bobby Tench) is a talented journeyman singer and guitarist who has worked with some of the biggest and best-respected names in British rock during a career that has spanned six decades. Born on September 21, 1944, Tench got his start as a bass player, working with a variety of acts on the London club circuit before forming his first band, Gass.

Gass cut singles for Parlophone and CBS between 1965 and 1967, and in 1969, when impresario Jack Good presented his rock & roll stage adaptation of Othello, Catch My Soul, Gass were recruited to serve as the backing band and later appeared on the original cast album. Gass cut an album of their own in 1970, Juju, which featured a guest appearance by British blues legend Peter Green, but the group broke up in the summer of 1971.

Galaxy-Lin - 1975 - ''G''


01. Travelling Song
02. Boy For Sale
03. Mean Love 
04. Rain And Snow
05. Utopia
06. I Look At My Watch
07. Curiosa
08. Fool

Rudy Bennett - vocals
Hugo van Haastert - mandolin
Robbie van Leeuwen - mandolin
Hans van Vos - mandolin
Dick Remelink - sax, flute
Peter Wassenaar - bass
Peter Rijnvis - drums

Mention the name Robbie (Robby) van Leeuwen to most folks and you'll get a blank stare.  That's unfortunate since van Leeuwen is one of Holland's most talented musicians.  In a career stretching back to the mid-1960s he's served as one of the driving forces behind such bands as The Motions, The Shocking Blue (and you thought the ever hot Mariska Veres (RIP) was the brains behind the band), and the far lesser known Galaxy-Lin.

By the mid-1970s, Shocking Blues' never ending recording and touring schedules had left multi-instrumentalist van Leeuwen burned out.  Technically he remained a member of the band, but largely in name only; instead deciding to turn his attention to the outside project Galaxy-Lin.   

In addition to van Leeuwen, Galaxy Lin showcased an impressive collection of Dutch musicians, including former Jupiter singer Rudy Bennett, mandolin players Hugo van Haastert and Hans van Vos, ex-Ekseption sax player Dick Remelink, drummer Peter Rijnvis, and former Blue Planet bassist Peter Wassenaar.  

The band's second and final release for Polydor came in the form of 1975's "G".  While clearly intended as a full band collaboration, the album again spotlighted van Leeuwen who served as producer and was credited with penning virtually all of the material.  So what did this one sound like?   Well, anyone hoping to hear Shocking Blue-styled pop-rock was liable to be disappointed.  Recorded without electric guitars, the collection found the band exploring a bunch of genres including stabs at English folk (their cover of Bert Jansch's 'Hunting Song'), material with a jazz-rock edge that showcased sax/flute player Remelink's contributions (I Know My Baby''), and a couple of more commercial, pop-oriented tracks ('Long Hot Summer'). Side two was given over to a pair of extended instrumental suites ('Bizarre Medley' and 'Ode to the Highways Medley') that were simply too adult contemporary jazzy to sustain much interest.  Unfortunately, at least to my ears little on the set made a lasting impression.

Galaxy-Lin - 1974 - Galaxy-Lin


01. Travelling Song    5:08
02. Boy For Sale    2:58
03. Mean Love    4:47
04. Rain And Snow    5:23
05. Utopia    5:31
06. I Look At My Watch    5:33
07. Curiosa    6:30

Dick Remelink (saxophone, flute)
Hugo van Haastert (mandolin, vocals)
Peter Rijnvis (drums)
Peter Wassenaar (bass)
Robbie van Leeuwen (mandolin, vocals)
Ruud van de Berg [aka Rudy Bennett] (vocals), Hans de Vos (mandolin), Skip van Rooy (keyboards)

Frontcover original painting by Bas Kloens (Vegetatie XI - 1970 - oilpaint 90x110 cm) collection Rotterdamse Kunststichting

When guitarist Robbie van Leeuwen felt exhausted from the schedule of his main band Shocking Blue, a quite famous NederPop/Psych act of the 60's, he decided practically to exit the band and form this Galaxy-lin project in 1974, bringing along Rudy Bennet on vocals, Hugo van Haastert on mandolin, Peter Wassenaar on bass, Peter Rijnvis on drums and ex-Ekseption Dick Remelink on sax/flute.Robbie van Leeuwen himself handled also the mandolin and produced the band's self-titled debut, which came out on Polydor in 1974.So, two mandolin players in the same band point undoubtfully to a quite original sound and Galaxy-lin were exactly that, a band that could create easy-listening tunes with bucolic extensions due to the dual use of mandolin and the melodic/psychedelic overtones.Robbie was the undisputed leader of the band, but basically this album would pass without notice if it wasn't for Dick Remelink, who's presence adds an intricate touch to the album, a slight jazzy vibe with beautiful sax licks and some interesting solos.Otherwise this work stands out for the decent melodies and clean voices, but the content is far from progressive.A different proposal on Jazz/Folk Rock with its good and bad moments.

Fusion - 1969 - Border Town

Border Town

01. Struttin' Down Main Street
02. Goin' Up To Clarksdale
03. Somebody's Callin' My Name
04. One More Hand
05. Another Man
06. What Magic?
07. Time Of The Ostrich Head
08. Cajun Two-Step
09. News Of Salena
10. Erebus 

Harvey Lane - Clarinet, Flute, Soprano, Alto, Tenor Sax
Ricky Luther - Clavinet, Drums, Piano, Vibraphone, Vocals
Gary Marker - Rhythm Guitar, Bass
Bill Wolff - Lead, Rhythm Guitar, Bass
Richard Matzkin - Drums
Ry Cooder - Bottleneck Guitar, Rhythm Guitar
Ed Carter - Lead, Rhythm Guitars
Bernie "Black Pearl" Fieldings - Vocals

This one's largely unknown to folks, though the fact renown guitarist Ry Cooder provided extensive support throughout their sole LP makes that lack of recognition somewhat surprising.

Bassist Gary Marker had been a member of The Rising Songs (along with  Cooder and Taj Mahal), worked extensively with Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band, and together with guitarist Bill Wolff had been a member of The Sound Machine.  Wolff had also been a late inning member of The Peanut Butter Conspiracy.  Together with guitarist Cooder, brass and woodwind player Harvey Lane, singer/multi-instrumentalist Rick Luther, bassist Gary Marker, and drummer Richard Matzkin they had all been in a short-lived L.A.-based outfit called The Jazz Folk.

With the outfit quickly collapsing Lane, Luther, and Marker recruiting guitarist Randy California, drummer Ed Cassidy, and bassist John Locke for The New World Jazz Company.  California, Cassidy, and Locke quickly went off on their own forming Spirit.  Lane, Luther, and Marker then formed Fusion, recruiting guitarist Bill Wolff and drummer Kevin Kelly.  Kelly quickly left to join The Byrds.  Matzkin was then brought back in as drummer.

Produced by Merker (who also co-wrote nine of the ten racks with Luther), 1969's "Fusion" powered by Luther's gravelly voice and Cooder's distinctive slide (he played on seven tracks), material like 'Goin' Up To Clarksdale', 'Somebody's Callin' My Name' and 'Another Man' found the band pushing a unique mixture of blues and early Americana roots rock.  Due in large measure to Cooder's slide (check out the opener 'Struttin' Down Main Street'), the results were immensely appealing to my ears, though difficult to describe.

About the closest I can get is having you recall some of Cooder's earliest LPs (perhaps "Ry Cooder"), or try to picture a down and dirty version Little Feat with Lowell George coming off a month long bender while singing with a mouth full of marbles ...   The album also included a couple of numbers that were a clear nod to their earlier jazz roots.  'What Magic?' which segued into 'Time Of The Ostrich Head', and the closing instrumental 'Erebus' were jazz-rock fusion efforts that were interesting, but probably had limited appeal for rock fans.

In addition to the jazzy interludes, 'One More Hand' was little more than a sleep inducing jam and 'Cajun Two Step' was ... well a strange klezmer-cum-country-flavored number.  Still, the winners far outnumber the mistakes.  Rough and ragged, but in a good way, I bet these guys would have been a blast to have heard in a small, smoky blues club.

Freeway Band - 1981 - Freeway Band

Freeway Band
Freeway Band

01. Rock And Roll Truckerrs   
02. Highway To Nowhere   
03. Kind Of Feeling       
04. Future's Calling       
05. Rockin' Tonight       
06. Lookin' Forward       
07. Sympathy       
08. Somebody To Love       
09. Goin' Up, Goin' Down   

Andreas Weber - Guitar
Olaf Giebe - Guitar
Andreas Oyen - Bass
Thomas Weber - Drums, Vocals

I think they are form around Hannover... any help?

Fred - 2004 - Live At The Bitter End 1974

Live At The Bitter End 1974

01. Variations (3:46)
02. Nocturnal (12:06)
03. Freefall (2:11)
04. Morose Code (4:39)
05. Pachanga (7:44)
06. Cathode Ray Fantasy (2:51)
07. Immersions (6:59)
08. Mucous Music (6:38)

Joe DeCristopher - Acoustic , Electric Guitar
Mike Robison - Bass, Vocals 
Bo Fox - Drums, Percussion, Vocals
Peter Eggers - Keyboards, Tenor Saxophone
Ken Price - Keyboards, Vocals
David Rose - Electric Violin, Vocals

Recorded live in concert at The Bitter End in NYC 1974.
Original live concert mix and recordings by Roger Brown.
Digital remastering produced by World In Sound 2004

"The group as a whole Is to these ears more enjoyable than either the Mahavlshnu Orchestra or the new Billy Cobham band. In fact they are providing the kind of solid rhythmic electric music that I didn't think existed In pop circles anymore. Even the Bitter End, under Interim management, seemed more congenial than usual. Any band that can do that must be all right,"
by Peter Occhiogrosso, August 1.1974

Ironically, the legendary music club in New York City called "The Bitter End" Fred played in summer 1974, for six consecutive weeks, twice a day. The bitter end of the band came a few months later. Some of the concerts at the Bitter End were recorded clearly what it World In Sound enabled at its third Fred CD to present a part of it.

"This album contains the best performances from that summer" is because in the booklet to "Live at the Bitter End" to read. Apparently, the makers of the disc have proceeded extremely critical in the selection of numbers. Only a good forty-five minutes of material they deemed good enough to be published. For all I could have the CD still can fill a half-hour with a few inferior pieces. Perhaps, however, was also the sound quality of the other shots clearly worse or the redundancy is too high (at the frequency of occurrence have Fred sure every night pretty much played the same), who knows?

The sound of "Live at The Bitter End" is very good, maybe a little bit dull, and the mix is ??not always perfect, but for a not for publication recording from the 70s the whole thing sounds all in all, excellent. Sun right live atmosphere is going to give up. Audience and applause is not heard (maybe played fred largely empty stands) and the pieces are separated by showing and hiding from each other. So the whole thing is more like a live studio session.

In musical terms, Fred arrived here quite the jazz-rock. Dominated by David Rose on violin, the band rocks very punchy and varied meaning carried by the doubly occupied key department (Farfisa organ and electric piano), Joe DeChristopher on the electric guitar and the driving rhythm section. Of necessity, simply because of the almost identical cast, you have to think of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, but the music of Fred was somewhat simpler and more relaxed.

A few symphonic-progressive, easy-affected Canterbury rudiments round out the music and give it a personal touch. The above referenced by Christian King Crimson but I can not really find in this music. All in all, Fred here a playful, very colorful, ultimately, very typical of the middle 70's jazz-rock with which they were moving, but certainly in the top class of comparable bands of the time,the sound is fresh, dynamic, punchy and clear. It dominates a nervous electric violin, but also electric guitar and Farfisa organ, giving the sound a psychedelic accent yet come to bear. Bass and drumming are impulsive, groovy and nuanced. This is also true for the sound of instrumental rehearsed, brimming with power plays overall.

Of the three Fred-albums "Live at The Bitter End" is the least original, although the group is the most professional and the most perfect to swing here. You can hear in the music that it is well-oiled live improvisations.
by Adamus67

Fred - 1974 - Notes On A Picnic

Notes On A Picnic

01. Here's A Wet One
02. Notes On A Picnic
03. Variations
04. Mantra
05. For Bela Bartok
06. The Head's The Best Part
07. Cheese Dog
08. Chaos In The Conservatory
09. Perverseerance
10. Political Silence
11. Slippin' Into Darkness

Joe DeCristopher - Acoustic , Electric Guitar
Mike Robison - Bass, Vocals  
Bo Fox - Drums, Percussion, Vocals
Peter Eggers - Keyboards, Tenor Saxophone
Ken Price - Keyboards, Vocals
David Rose - Electric Violin, Vocals

Fred came to be as part of the turn on, tune in and drop out culture of the late 60's and early 70's, when several of members were students in very rural east-central Pennsylvania. They started playing music together in the autumn of 1969. From what started as a lyrical, almost art rocky band featuring David's violin, Fred became a jazz rock fusion band.  Early on, they modeled after Procol Harum, the Band, Traffic, and Frank Zappa. Later on, they gravitated toward Mahavishnu Orchestra and Return to Forever, also similar to Dixie Dregs, but with more of a jazz feel to the compositions.

Fred broke up in 1974, but had their first album produced in 2001 when World in Sound, a small label operating from Schwetzingen, Germany, found us after hearing a 45 rpm single we released in 1971. Since then, they  released "Fred" and "Notes On A Picnic", and "Live At The Bitter End", recorded in New York City in the summer of 1974, and released March 20, 2004.

In 1973 Fred, made it in New York to gain a foothold. The band was successful concerts there and even ran into a recording session with Yoko Ono (heard on the album "A Story"). At the same time they were (which had already included Bob Dylan) regulars at Joe Schick Blue Rock Studio. A whole series of numbers has been recorded there, of which was published at the time but for some reason never. Perhaps it's because the band has disbanded soon thereafter. First released in 2003 parts of the sessions on CD, and that the small World In Sound label.

"Notes on a Picnic" features an hour of music that was recorded sometime 1973-1974 in New York. The sound quality is excellent. It always refers to professional studio recording. A very jazzy prog played fred end of its existence (see "Live at The Bitter End") and it is also "Notes On A Picnic" was coined. Locker-flaky and swinging the band rocks here then, jazzy, complex but very sonorous and melodious. As Canterbury with violin could characterize what is offered short, but David Rose makes with his violin for the tonal accents, although often in interaction with Joe DeChristoher on guitar. Then there is the savvy drifting rhythm section and the doubly occupied keys (mostly electric piano and organ). Singing is barely (and then usually vocalise).

Complex and powerful are going to fred here, dominated by violin and guitar. More relaxed and laid the music comes out of the speakers, and there are also plenty of places where the sounds pick up momentum. Oblique or desolate the music is never. fred move in a perfectly harmonious frame, winning their music but from a very unique, fresh and non-commercial nature. Something that falls out of the frame long, soulful funky, laced with War-cover "Slippin 'Into Darkness", is sung in which not only extensively but also Peter Eggers can be heard on sax. Here again is the longest number, the weakest, the band were losing their own character. Nice to listen to this jam is but still.

"Notes on a Picnic" contains beautiful, brilliantly carried forward and very entertaining music to be saved with one feathery U.S. Jazzprog that was it really worth from oblivion. Canterbury-lovers and Prog listeners the music of Happy The Man, Maelstrom, However, Hands and also can get something out of the muffins should definitely listen here!

Fred - 1971 - Fred


01. Four Evenings
02. Soft Fisherman
03. Salvation Lady
04. By The Way
05. I'll Go On
06. For Fearless Few
07. A Love Song
08. Booking Agent Blues
09. Windwords
10. A Love Song (45rpm version)

Gary Rosenberg - Lyrics, Percussion
Joe DeChristopher - Guitar
David Rose - Keyboards, Violin, Guitar, Vocals
Bo Fox - Drums
Ken Price - Keyboards
Mike Robison - Bass, Guitar, Vocals
Peter Eggers - Drums, Piano

The experience that what was Fred, goes beyond what will be said here, as the music made by the band in the years 1970-1974 goes beyond the tracks of this album. The hope in these words is to give a little historical context to the music being published here, for the first time in a collection more than thirty years after it was first recorded.

Ken Price and Joe DeChristopher began playing together while students at Bucknell University in Lewisburg Pennsylvania in 1967. Ken played keyboards, mainly a beat-up electric Wurlitzer Piano. Joe fancied himself a guitar player, but took up Bass to play in Ken’s Band “Still at Large”. When the lead Guitar player dropped out late in 1968, Ken and Joe stayed together, adding John, a young Bass player. Unfortunately, John’s freshman roommate, Bo Fox, had been snatch up by another popular fraternity dance hall band, “The Gross National Product” a trio of Bo on the Drums and two upperclassmen on Guitar and Keyboards.

While the drumming set was not well filled, Joe and Ken thought they could also use a vocalist to help out. Their classmate Gary Rosenberg self-styled poet and disc jockey at the college radio station, steered the to David Rose recently back at Bucknell after a tour of service as a conscientious objector (running a Quaker related home of disadvantaged youth in a tough part of Paris). David made a great contribution as a stager and frontman, keeping quiet the fact about that he’d been trained to play the Violin, which he started doing at the age of six.

The band known occasionally as “David Rose and his Orchid” or “Mustang Turfbinder and the Swelltones” was improving but still need help on the Drums. Help came in the autumn of 1969, when Bo’s GNP band-mates had graduated and left town, leaving him available. Again with an assist from Gary, Ken, Joe, John and David, now willing to try the Violin in the context of improvisational Rock ‘n’ Roll, matched up with Bo. Amidst the belated arrival in small-town, rural America of blossoming counterculture of Peace, Love and drugs, a wonderful musical experience was born.

Gary continued part of our experience, as a friend an source for new music from the likes of The Band, Procol Harum, Traffic, Jethro Tull, King Crimson and Frank Zappa to name a few. We spent the month of January 1970 intending to write a hundred original tunes, a task at which we failed miserably. Even so, we knew that there was something special happening, and as young and as inexperienced as we were, there was a growing will among us to keep with it.

School ended for most of us either by choice or by graduation in May 1970, but we stayed together most of us living in either of two small harm houses about 4 miles west of town. John transferred to a school in Boston, and we accepted into our ranks of ex-collegians, the outsider Michael “Bones” Robinson, self made bass player and song-writer.

We spend the summer smelling honeysuckle along the banks of the Susquehanna, on those trips back from high schools and bars to the south, near Harrisburg and York, we later spent our time building a house out of a barn for David’s family to live in (after his apartment was ruined by flood of 1972), learning to play, to write and manage on our shared income from playing music.

We attracted diverse collection of friends and well-wishers along the way, including artist/photographer L.J. Kopf roaches Roger Brown and Pat Biggs, sound engineer Charlie Bozenhard (who put together the components of a system to amplify David), Folk musicians Tom Patten and Ira Packman (who opened for some of our concerts), a group of ex-students who became carpenters working as “Grassy Flats” and many others, too numerous to mention.

By late 1971, we'd worked up several original tunes (most of them included on this album.) We managed to produce a 45 rpm single, containing "Salvation Lady" and "a love song", both with lyrics from Gary. David preached the vision of a self-sufficient community of artists, self supporting and true to itself. Gary continued to write poetry, much of which was never put to music. LJ took pictures, designed posters, and showed slides at our concerts.

Everyone took a role in the life of the band, on and off the' stage. We covered Procol Harum, Frank Zappa, Jethro Tull and Mahavishnu Orchestra, enlisting the talenls of wunderkind Peter Eggets on piano, drums when Bo took a break, horn arrangements, and a work ethic we’d never found on our own. Up into 1973, we were existing on the outside of a society in generational turmoil, enjoying our role as outsiders, defiant that hired us, and the booking agents who tried to make a dollar in marketing us.

Even so in those early years especially, we were more than the music, and bigger than the sum of our parts. With the eventual addition of Peter as a full time member of the band, came the departure of Gary, and ultimately later on the dissolution of the band, but alas, that is not the story of the music on this album.

Enjoy what is here, know there is more recorded Fred music to come, and that what is recorded here, while standing on its own merit, was also a part of the seasoning process which led to the music made later under the influence of the formidable composing and arranging skills of Peter Eggers. Welcome to the first recorded music of Fred.

Fred have published during his lifetime only a single ("Salvation Lady" / "a love song"). Another sorts, in the 4 years professionally with cut material disappeared in the drawer. On a lucky (for all) was discovered in a German flea market by World In Sound, an record label and shortly after, their music catalog was re-released. In the new millennium appeared two archive CDs with studio recordings from fred. While "Notes on a Picnic" includes pieces recorded 1973-74 in New York, including the 2001 self-titled debut CD appeared the band older material which was eventually recorded 1971-73. The sound quality is good, but sometimes it rushes a little tape or are there slight disturbances.

Procol Harum, Frank Zappa, Jethro Tull, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, King Crimson, Traffic and dive on in there written by DeChristopher Beihefttext. Actually, I can not this band from the music by fred hear (most probably Jethro Tull - from time to time). Jazz rock music a la Mahavishnu Orchestra was found in the band's music to some places until 1973, such as "Notes on a Picnic" and the live album "Live at The Bitter End" show. To "Fred" however, there is to hear a still rooted in the 60s, psychedelic-relaxed Protoprog reminiscent occasionally to the music of various West Coast formations (Quicksilver, Jeffersson Airplane, Iron Butterfly), which is at the same time characterized by a slightly angejazzte atmosphere and the violin with Roses gets quite personal note. Longer, complex numbers here mostly presented living from the varied interplay of keys (organ, piano, electric piano, harpsichord), fuzziger electric guitar and violin, Rose enriched with pleasant vocals and driven by the rhythm section laid-loosely be . There folky-rock influences it (the beautiful "By the Way" - with appropriate fiddling), mildly psychedelic guitar escapades and now and then all right jazz rock objections (in the second half of "a love song" and "Wind Words" for example). "Fred" is a very nice album with almost forgotten music from the early days of the U.S. Prog, which is recommended to all those with a mixture of psychedelic bluesy West Coast sounds, (Caravan) and Jethro Tull (without flute, but violin), equipped with a small shot of Zappa, can imagine!

Five By Five - 1968 - Next Exit

Five By Five
Next Exit


01. Fire
02. Share Your Love
03. Fruitstand Man
04. Ain’t Gonna Be Your Fool No More
05. Soul Man
06. She Digs My Love
07. Shake A Tail Feather
08. Too Much Tomorrow
09. Nothing You Do
10. 7 And 7 Is
11. Hush

Ronnie Plants — guitar, lead vocals
Bill Merritt — guitar, vocals
Larry Andrew — guitar, vocals
Tim Milam — organ, vocals
Doug Green — drums, vocals

Led by 21 year old drummer Doug Green, the Texas-based Five By Five (I've also seen them listed as '5 x 5') boasted a young but immensely talented line up in rhythm guitarist Larry Andrew, lead singer Billy Merritt, keyboardist Tim Milam and lead guitarist Ronnie Plants.  Signed by the Texas-based Paula label, the group debuted with a series of three impressive 45s:

- 1967's 'Shake A Tail Feather' b/w 'Tell Me What To Do' (Paula catalog number 261) 
- 1967's 'Harlem Shuffle' b/w 'You Really Got A Hold On Me' (Paula catalog number 283) 
- 1967's 'Fire' b/w 'Hang Up' (Paula catalog number 302) 

The third single provided the group with a modest top-60 hit which was apparently enough for Paula to rush the group into the studio to record a supporting album.  Produced by Gene Kent, 1968's "Next Exit" offered up a mix of the earlier singles and new studio material.  Apparently not too comfortable with the band's creative talent, the focus was on better known material; in this case a mix of popular and lesser known hits.  Green's wonderful 'Too Much Tomorrow' was the one exception and also provided the stand out track making you wonder how good the album would have been if they'd been given a little more creative freedom.  Clearly determined to maximize commercial potential, the set covered virtually every musical niche imaginable including competent stabs at blue-eyed soul ('Soul Man'), conventional top-40 pop, and frat rock (their earlier 'Shake a Tail Feather' rave-up).  Best of all were the band's stabs at psych oriented material.  Their  raw cover of Joe South's 'Hush' easily put Deep Purple's better known cover to shame.  Similarly 'Nothing You Do', their wild take on Arthur Lee and Love's '7 and 7 Is' (be sure to check out the re-channeled stereo with a good pair of headphones), and the sitar propelled cover of The Sir Douglas Quintet's 'She Digs My Love' were all worth hearing.  Paula also pulled another single from the album: 'Ain't Gonna Be Your Fool No More' b/w 'She Digs My Love' (Paula catalog number 311).  

Over the next two years the band recorded a string of 4 additional singles, though none sold well:

- 1968's 'Apple Cider' b/w 'Fruitstand Man' (Paula catalog number 319) 
- 1970's 'Ain't Gonna Be Your Fool No More' b/w 'Too Much Tomorrow' (Paula catalog 322) 
- 1970's '15 Going On 20' b/w 'Penthouse Pauper' (Paula catalog number 326)
- 1970's 'Good Connection' b/w 'Never' (Paula catalog number 328) 

They seem to have called it quits in 1970..

Elephant's Memory - 1974 - Angels Forever

Elephant's Memory
Angels Forever

01. Band Of Love
02. Brief Encounter
03. Crossroads Of The Stepping Stones
04. Don't Put Me On Trial No More
05. Hot Dog Man
06. Jungle Gym At The Zoo
07. R.I.P.
08. Super Heep
09. Takin' A Walk10. Yogurt Song
11. Old Man Willow

Gary Van Scyoc - Bass, Vocals
Rick Frank - Drums, Vocals, Percussion
Stan Bronstein - Saxophone, Vocals
Chris Robinson - Keyboards
John Sachs - Guitar

Originating from New York, Elephant Memory was formed in 1967 by Bronstein and Frank, who were both playing the strip joint circuit. They soon became known for their outrageous performances, with light shows, destruction of sculptures and weird outfits. After recruiting a young Israeli singer, Michal Shapiro they were signed to the Wes Farrell Organization, a powerful management and production company. Their first album was released in February 1969 and has a flashing sleeve, the group members being pictured nude, covered with paints, in front of an elephant. An interesting record, mixing psych, dreamy ballads, jazz and hard rock, two of the songs, Old Man Willow and Jungle Gym At The Zoo appeared on the soundtrack to 'Midnight Cowboy'.
With the success of this film, Buddah released Songs From Midnight Cowboy, which was basically a reissue of the first album with new versions of Everybody's Talkin' and Theme From Midnight Cowboy.
Michal Shapiro, Richard Sussman and Chester Ayers then left with Richard Sussman joining Grootna. A new line-up was put together and the next album, produced by Ted Cooper, Take It To The Streets was totally different to their debut. Elephant's Memory were now playing a very effective hard-rock, obviously inspired by the Detroit groups of the era. Tracks like Power, Piece Now, Damn and Mongoose are powerful and Mongoose became a hit. Incidentally Rick Frank is credited as "Reek Havoc" on the sleeve.
Following this album, the line-up changed again and the band backed John Lennon and Yoko Ono on Some Time In New York City and Approximately Infinite Universe. Their fourth album was naturally issued on Apple and has a good reputation.
In 1973, they backed Chuck Berry on his Bio album and finally released a final record in 1974, produced at the Rockfield Studios in Wales by Steve Smith.
Stan Bronstein launched a jazz-rock career, Rick Frank formed various local bands but died in the nineties. Adam Ippolito went on to play with soul and funk groups and Wayne Tex Gabriel joined Mitch Ryder. Adrian Peritore (aka Guy Peritore) later formed Beede Oms with David Cohen and went on to play with The Motels amongst others.

Elephant's Memory - 1972 - Elephant's Memory

Elephant's Memory 
Elephant's Memory

01.Liberation Special
02.Baddest of the Mean
03.Cryin' Blacksheep Blues
04.Chuck 'n' Bo
05.Gypsy Wolf
08.Wind Ridge
09.Power Boogie
10.Local Plastic Ono Band

Gary Van Scyoc - Bass, Vocals
Rick Frank - Drums, Vocals, Percussion
Wayne "Tex" Gabriel - Guitar, Vocals
Adam Ippolito - Keyboards, Vocals
Stan Bronstein - Saxophone, Vocals

Although chiefly remembered these days for their role as John Lennon's loose and ragged backup band on his Some Time in New York City album from 1972, Elephant's Memory have a bit more to their history than that. Formed in 1967 by drummer Rick Frank and saxophonist and clarinetist Stan Bronstein, who reportedly met on the New York City strip-joint circuit, the group specialized in an eclectic Frank Zappa-like mix of psychedelia, jazz, and acid-tinged rock, and delivered a truly bizarre stage show complete with inflatable stage sets. Their first album, simply called Elephant's Memory, was released in 1969 on Buddah Records, a label more famous for bubblegum pop groups than whacked-out horn bands.
Two tracks from the LP, "Jungle Gym at the Zoo" and "Old Man Willow," found their way onto the Midnight Cowboy movie soundtrack later that year, which gave the group some visibility, but it didn't exactly translate into sales for the debut album. A second LP, 1970's Take It to the Streets, had even less commercial impact. Then came John Lennon and Some Time in New York City, and Elephant's Memory had their moment in the sun. They released a third album, also called Elephant's Memory and featuring David Peel, on Apple Records later that year, then backed up Yoko Ono on 1973's Approximately Infinite Universe. Angels Forever, which turned out to be the group's swan song, appeared in 1974.
Elephant's Memory left behind what is probably best described as a footnote legacy, since they will undoubtedly always be linked chiefly to Lennon and Ono. An impressive number of musicians passed through the band in its seven-year run, including Frank and Bornstein, as well as Carly Simon (yes, that Carly Simon, who was a member of the group for about six months), Jon Sachs, Gary VanScyoc, Michal Shapiro, Chris Robinson, Martha Velez, John Ward, Chester Ayres, Myron Yules, Richard Sussman, Wayne "Tex" Gabriel, Daria Price, and John Labosca. Footnote they may be, but Elephant's Memory made more of an impact than anyone ever might have suspected from a scuffling New York City street band.

Elephant's Memory - 1970 - Take It to The Streets

Elephant's Memory
Take It to The Streets

01. Moongoose (4:34)
02. Power (5:40)
03. Piece now (4:41)
04. Tricky Noses (0:48)
05. She's just naturally bad (5:45)
06. I couldn't Dream (3:07)
07. Damn (4:20)
08. Ivan (3:51)

Stan Bronstein - saxophone, vocals
Rick Frank - drums
John Ward - bass
Guy Peritore - guitar, vocals
Myron Yules - trombone
David Cohen - keyboards, vocals
Michal Shapiro - female vocals

More cohesive than their RCA release in the mid-'70s, the New York underground band who worked with John Lennon, Yoko Ono, and David Peel finds themselves on Metromedia, the label which had hits with Bobby Sherman, unleashing eight originals written mostly by drummer Rich Frank and lead vocalist/tenor saxman Stan Bronstein. Guitarist David Cohen contributes to a couple of tunes, with pianist Myron Yules and guitarist Greg Peratori also involved in the songwriting, but it is Frank (listed on the credits as Reek Havoc) and Bronstein who are the major forces behind this well-known-but-not-often-heard group. Clearly it was Lennon's participation on an early disc and not the band's notoriety which made them almost a household name, but one hit record could have changed all that. There is no hit here, but there is some experimental rock that Frank Zappa should have snapped up for his Straight Records. A bubblegum label could only move this if they were called Crazy Elephant and had something akin to "Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'." Rather you have the antithesis, "Mongoose," followed by "Power" and the revolutionary "Piece Now." The technical proficiency is traded in for angst and lots of rock & roll attitude. "Piece Now" could very well be MC5, and the music on all three of the first tunes is dense and noteworthy. "Tricky Noses" ends side one with a flurry of bullets stopping a country-ish protest song, making the point quickly and with uneasy ease. Away from their famous friends, the seven-piece group is at least interesting here, with "She's Just Naturally Bad" sounding like Blue Cheer when they abandoned the sonic onslaught for laid-back folk-rock. Flashes of Dylan and Lou Reed make their way onto the tune. Pianist Myron Yules delivers the only song that Rich Frank and Bronstein aren't associated with, "I Couldn't Dream," a light Paul McCartney-style throwaway number."Damn" gets things somewhat heavy, a nice counterpoint to side one's "Power." This is where the band shines, solid ensemble rock with riffs and lots of not-so-quiet energy. For collectors who need anything by anyone ever associated with the Beatles, the Elephant's Memory's collection is not to be forgotten. "Ivan" is smooth New York rock a few years before Lou Reed would enter his Coney Island Baby phase, but definitely sounding like it could fit on that epic. Take It to the Streets is a true rock & roll artifact and holds some surprises worth rediscovering.

Elephant's Memory - 1969 - Elephant's Memory

Elephant's Memory
Elephant's Memory


01. Don't Put Me On Trial No More
02. Crossroads Of The Stepping Stones
03. Jungle Gym At The Zoo
04. Super Heep
05. R.I.P.
06. Band Of Love
07. Takin' A Walk
08. Hot Dog Man
09. Old Man Willow
10. Yogurt Song
11. Brief Encounter

*Michal Shapiro - Vocals
*Stan Bronstein - Saxophone, Clarinet, Flute, Vocals
*Rick Frank - Drums
*John Ward - Bass
*Chester Ayers - Guitar
*Myron Yules - Bass, Trombone
*Richard Sussman - Piano, Organ
*Leonard Allcock - Harmonica
*Guy Peritore - Guitar, Vocals
*David Cohen - Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals

An elephant's memory is legendarily large, and so was the size and scope of the New York band that went by the same name. Unlike some other horn-rock ensembles of the late-'60s that took advantage of the freedom to expand rock's size and sound, however, Elephants Memory weren't merely a rock band with jazz overtones. There was plenty of pile-driving rock'n'roll, and a good deal of jazz of both the free and big band varieties.

But there was also soul, spaced-out psychedelia, and pop -- not just over the course of the entire album, but sometimes within the space of a single song -- and what can only be described as downright strange lyrics about hot dog men, yogurt, love as a jungle gym, and "Old Man Willow." Some of it was written by the guy who'd go on to produce David Bowie, some of it would end up on the soundtrack to the classic movie Midnight Cowboy, and the whole shebang was produced by the guy who'd go on to produce the Partridge Family. If Elephants Memory were a strange band, they were certainly no stranger than their surroundings, with second-degree-separations between the careers of not only Bowie, Midnight Cowboy star Dustin Hoffman, and the Partridge Family, but also the Beatles and Carly Simon.

The foundation of Elephants Memory in the late 1960s has been attributed to singer, saxophonist, flautist, and clarinetist Stan Bronstein and drummer Rick Frank; singer Michal Shapiro's understanding was that bassist/trombonist Myron Yules, who'd played in big bands with Bronstein, was also an original member.

Carly Simon briefly passed through the lineup on the way to her solo career. But by the time they recorded their first album for Buddah, she'd left and, as Shapiro recalls, "they had just blown out the pipes of a very good singer named Martha Velez." Shapiro took Simon's old spot as vocalist, and the septet -- now ranging in age from their early twenties to mid-thirties -- was filled out with keyboardist Richard Sussman and guitarists John Ward and Chester Ayres.

By 1969 large rock bands with horn sections were becoming far more commonplace with the emergence of Blood, Sweat & Tears, Chicago, Sly & the Family Stone, the Ides of March, and the Mothers of Invention. Elephants Memory would fall much closer to the avant-garde, at times absurdist, rock of the late-'60s Mothers than to the commercial likes of Blood, Sweat & Tears. Shapiro says, though, that it wasn't the conscious intention of the band to be different by virtue of bigger and more unusual arrangements -- "the band members just thought that there was an opportunity to use their talents in the rock sphere," and Bronstein and Yules would use electric soprano sax and electric trombone respectively in their transition to the rock world.

Even by the standards of the late 1960s, which saw some of the strangest and most genre-bending rock albums ever, Elephants Memory is a strange animal. The songs were as likely to mine a furious soul-rock groove as they were to explore ethereal psychedelic balladry with Doorsy organ. Even the relatively straightforward R&B-soaked tunes were apt to take weird left turns, like the guttural nonsense chanting and siren-like scatting that interrupt "Don't Put Me on Trial No More"; the "baby you're an animal, and I guess I'm just a cannibal" refrain of "Jungle Gym at the Zoo"; the low moans on "Takin' a Walk" that sounded like the mating of a vacuum cleaner with an actual elephant; and the hippie marching-band anthem ethos of "Band of Love." And there was "Hot Dog Man," where actual street conversations between the band and hot dog vendors were interlaced with hot funk licks and cheerleading-like chants from the band mimicking the hot dog men's sales pitch.

Bronstein rather than Shapiro tended to take a lot of the "R'n'B-ish" vocals, recalls Michal, as "I was never that much of a screamer. I inherited arrangements of songs that Carly Simon had worked up with the band. Eventually I developed my own repertoire, but that took a while, and is not reflected in that LP. The band had a very eclectic sensibility; sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. ['Hot Dog Man'] was much more cohesive when we performed it live; the version on the LP doesn't give the tune much room to grow. I had reservations towards all those lyrics about food [also heard in 'Yogurt Song'], but they were part of the repertoire I inherited."

The more soul-soaked cuts were actually outshone by some of the more melodic, psychedelic outings, particularly the seven-minute "Old Man Willow," the album's highlight. Starting with swirling ominous organ and decorated by guitar riffs that sounded as if they were being blown through a fishbowl, it was the best showcase for Shapiro's high and haunting upper vocal range, also embellished by wily horn lines and a waltz-time bridge. "That song really was the reason I wanted to join the band," says Michal, one of the tune's co-writers. "I thought the music was very beautiful, and an indicator of what I might be able to absorb as a musician in the company of those players." Briefer but similarly beguiling jazzy numbers that made good use of Shapiro's otherworldly scat vocals were "R.I.P." and "Brief Encounter," the latter of which had a Santana-like Latin-funk bed and snake-charming horn interjections.

While most of the band got in on the songwriting action in various combinations, a couple of non-members also pitched in material. The husband-wife team of Tony and Siegrid Visconti (who'd done a couple of obscure flop singles as a duo) penned "Hot Dog Man," and also contributed to "Band of Love." With Bronstein, Tony Visconti co-wrote the album's most unusual track, "Mr. Heep," which evolved from free jazz-ish instrumental clamor to a surrealistic verse (rather on the order of Neil Young/Buffalo Springfield's "Mr. Soul"), a jibing, Zappa-esque chorus, and a bad-trip bridge with circus-of-the-damned organ, throwing in a bit of Soft Machine-like keyboard frenzy and what could have passed for an actual circus fanfare near the end.

The Brooklyn-born Visconti was by the late '60s already in the process of establishing himself as a top producer in Britain, becoming famed for his work with David Bowie and T. Rex in particular. "When he was in New York he would make a point of visiting with the band," remembers Shapiro. "He was talking about David Bowie quite a bit then, and played us some tapes he had produced. I particularly remember a very interesting song with a nice cello arrangement that he played for us, with the line 'wear the dress your mother wore.'" That was "Let Me Sleep Beside You," a track Visconti had produced for Bowie in September 1967; as it wasn't released until 1970, Elephants Memory were likely among the first people to hear it.

The LP boasted a for-the-time controversial sleeve in which the band posed in front of an elephant nude, albeit obscured to some degree in body paint. That, combined with a stage show that in early 1969 incorporated inflatable stage sets (including a large inflatable plastic jungle), gave Elephants Memory's image a visual flamboyance, though Shapiro points out, "We were NEVER a theatrical band. We were a hard rocking New York band that was very good live, just playing our music. Wes decided that wasn't enough and hired someone to give us all these props, which we tried to use for a few performances, but it worked out like Spinal Tap's Stonehenge...even more surreal, actually.

While we were in L.A. we  did a film of all of us and Ultra Violet [the Andy Warhol-affiliated actress and artist who had a bit part in Midnight Cowboy] sending the damned plastic creatures out to sea."

Any controversy the cover might have attracted didn't help the album become a commercial hit, as it topped out at a heartbreaking #200 on Billboard's Top 200 albums chart. It did find greater chart success by proxy, however, when two of its songs ("Jungle Gym Zoo" and "Old Man Willow") were used in the soundtrack to Midnight Cowboy, which made #19 in late 1969.

Edgewood - 1972 - Ship Of Labor

Ship Of Labor

01. Is not Had No Lovin '- 4:19
02. Why Do not You Listen - 5:02
03. Burden Of Lies - 3:54
04. Ship Of Labor - 6:34
05. Unconscious Friend - 3:14
06. Medieval People - 3:44
07. We Both Stand To Lose - 4:44
08. What You See - 3:07
09. Silent - 6:32

David Mayo - vocals, guitar, keyboards
David Beaver - vocals, keyboards
Jim Tarbutton - lead guitar
Pat Taylor - vocals, guitar
Steve Spear - bass
Joel Williams - drums, percussion

Every time I see the cover on this LP I marvel at the audacity some marketing folks had ...  Can you imagine trying to sell an album showing manacled hands and legs in Memphis, Tennessee?  In this day and age you'd probably find yourself with a riot on your hands.

Edgewood's roots are kind of interesting in that keyboardist David Beaver, bassist Steve Spear, guitarist Jim Tarbutton were all members of the Memphis based The Gentrys (albeit a late inning version of the group).  Apparently increasingly bored within the pop confines imposed by The Gentrys, the three quit in 1970, promptly recruiting drummer Mike Bleecker (replaced by Joel Williams), multi-instrumentalist David Mayo, and guitarist Pat Taylor for Edgewood (named after the Memphis street Taylor was living on).  The band spent several months writing, rehearsing and playing local clubs before signing with the small Memphis-based TMI label.

A quick word of warning - anyone expecting to hear a collection of Gentrys-styled garage/blue eyed soul moves is going to be in for a major shock when they hear 1972's Jimm Johnson produced "Ship of Labor".  With all six band members contributing tot he album, material such as 'Why Don't You Listen', 'Unconscious Friend' and 'What You See' featured a distinctive progressive edge, though the longer and more complex song structures retained a highly commercial edge that would have sounded good on FM radio. Imagine a group like Ambrosia or perhaps Kansas with a penchant for Southern garage rock and you'll be in the right aural neighborhood.  Sure, songs like the ominous title track, 'Burden of Lies' and 'Medieval People' (when's the last time you heard a Memphis band singing about the sins of Christian Crusaders) were a little bit quirky, but blessed with three strong vocalists in Beaver, Mayo and Taylor (they turned in some great harmony work on the title track and 'We Both Stand To Lose'), that was a minor drawback that could easily be overlooked.  Unlike anything you'd expect to hear from a Memphis band, the whole LP is worth hearing.  Personal favorite was the gorgeous ballad 'We Both Stand To Lose'.  There was also an instantly obscure single: 'Ain't Had No Lovin'' b/w 'Silent' (TMI catalog number ZS7 9011).

Over the next year the band served as the TMI house band, while continuing to play local clubs and opening Memphis dates for national acts ranging from Jeff Beck to Deep Purple.  They also recorded material for a follow-up album that was never released.  Having a tough time making it financially they finally called it quits in 1972. 

Dr. Tree - 1975 - Dr. Tree

Dr. Tree 
Dr. Tree

01. The Twilight Zone - 1:39
02. Vulcan Words - 6:49
03. Transition - 8:07
04. Eugenio D - 6:10
05. Arffirmation - 7:33
06. One For Dianne - 6:27

Murray McNabb - keyboards
Martin Winch - guitar
Bob Jackson - bass
Kim Patterson - trumpet
Johnny Banks - percussion
Frank Gibson Jr. - Drums

If you're looking to obtain this title, be very careful. Most of the versions that are available here in the US are bootlegs, in one case a pirate attempt was released after this legit version. The CD I own is printed by EMI New Zealand (2007) and is pretty much a straight reissue, with unique liner notes about the band. Almost assuredly you will need to import this directly from New Zealand.

Dr Tree's sole album is one of the hottest fusion albums of the 1970s. That's a pretty bold statement given the multitude of albums in the genre, but for those that know the album, it remains true. A 6 piece, with dual percussion, fiery guitar, Fender Rhodes, bass and.... trumpet. This latter element adds a unique dimension. And while you may be thinking this will put it in the Miles Davis camp, that wouldn't be right either. This isn't the heavy deep groove of Miles (which would have been fantastic as well), but more like the high energy of prime Return to Forever with trumpet as one of the lead instruments. Obviously plenty of room is also left for the guitarist to shred and the keyboardist to fly. The two percussionist's keep the tunes hopping throughout. Considered by fusion fans as a must own. Just be sure to get the only legit version as discussed above!

When this album came out in the mid-Seventies jazz-rock fusion was at its peak and many otherwise sensible jazz musicians were wooed to the dark side. Few came out with any dignity (they just didn't get "rock") but Dr Tree from Auckland nailed it directly at a point where they were most comfortable; more jazz than rock because they were jazz musicians.

The album was reissued in late 2008: these are the liner notes for it which I was invited to write. . . .

Times change -- but not so much that this reissue of the classic jazz-rock album by the Auckland outfit Dr Tree doesn’t still sound exciting.

Today the jazz-rock fusion of the early 70s -- hinted at by Jimi Hendrix, godfathered by Miles Davis and brought to life by Weather Report and Return to Forever -- is back in the ears of a new generation of listeners.

And they too are enjoying the possibilities of a musical adventure unfettered by styles, and of musicians prepared to take risks in ways that mainstream jazz or straight-ahead rock bands today seem to recoil from.

This Dr Tree album -- their sole release unfortunately -- may come from more than three decades ago (my vinyl copy is date 1976) but it still has the capacity to thrill.

And why shouldn‘t it?

Look at the roll-call of players on hand: drummer Frank Gibson; trumpeter and percussion player Kim Paterson; guitarist Martin Winch, percussion player John Banks; bassist Bob Jackson and keyboard player Murray McNabb.

And Colin Hemmingsen guests on soprano sax.

In the early 70s these were mature musicians who had been schooled in jazz and had honed their skills at literally hundreds of gigs, but they were still young enough to be as excited by the possibilities of jazz-rock fusion as their peers and mentors overseas.

So here were some of New Zealand’s finest jazz musicians (then and now) bringing their collective skills to bear on adventurous music which had listeners and critics alike hailing them.

In fact, although they seem to be written out of the texts on Kiwi rock history, it is worth being reminded that Dr Tree won two major music industry awards on the release of this album: most promising group and top group performance. And they were both in the “rock” category.

Of course today we hear more jazz than rock in this music, which is understandable given who is on hand. But through Dr Tree, ventures under their own name or in other groups, these musicians made a contribution to New Zealand music in the 70s that should never be underestimated  -- and most are still name-players in the local jazz scene today.

But that is now and this was then: so listen here to Martin Winch peel off an astral-flight solo in Transition or jigsaw’n’spiral his way through Affirmation; enjoy Kim Paterson’s taut trumpet on his own composition Eugino D; be impressed by Frank Gibson’s deft and driving drumming everywhere, but particularly on his own One For Dianne; smile to yourself at the hard-won musical intuition Murray McNabb brings to this set . . .

For two years Dr Tree soared across the jazz-rock world in New Zealand then the main-players went their own ways, always influencing, always making memorable music. Recognition of the comet-like career of Dr Tree is long overdue.

Let’s hope the reissue of this innovative album -- award-winning we remind ourselves -- affords Dr Tree and its individual members the attention and respect they deserve.

Times may have changed, but not so much we can’t hear today what a great band Dr Tree were.

Dr. Dopo Jam - 1974 - Fat Dogs & Danishmen

Dr. Dopo Jam  
Fat Dogs & Danishmen

01. Cowboy-Song    (5:26)
02. The Rubber Waltz (4:06)
03. Ode to Daddy Meatloaf (1:35)
04. Surfin' in Sahara (3:45)
05. Mambo Bernaice (4:35)
 a) Instrumental   
 b) On a Manhatten Bar   
06. Scerzo for Violin & Pianoforte (2:50)
07. Rendezvous (Suite) (6:17)
 a) Do a Little Song   
 b) Chains and Change   
 c) Socket Who Me?   
 d) Rendezvous   
08. Tango Macabre (4:05)
09. Fat Dogs and Danishmen (9:50)
10. Nova Bossa Nova    (5:10)
11. Concerto for Solo Violin, Strings & Expanded Beatorchestra (8:20)
 a) Overture: Largo Maestoso   
 b) Satz: a. Adagio Delicatezza   
 c) Allegro in 5/4   
 d) Satz: Adagio con Dolore   
 e) Satz: Pizzicate Andante   
 f) Satz: Andantino con Amore   
 g) Finale Grandioso

- Kristian Pommer / clavinet, rhythm guitar, grand piano, backing vocals, compositions, arrangements
- Benkö Mihály / double bass
- Niels "Callecule" Carl Wilh. W. C. / drums
- E. Weisgard / drums, congas, percussion
- B. Clausen / drums, percussion, vibraphone, 12 string guitar
- Vagn Hansen / electric bass
- J. Knudsen / lead guitar
- Lars Bisgaard / lead vocals
- Claus Nordso / percussion, congas
- A. Gaardman / saxophone, flute
- J. Nørdal / trombone
- S. Snitker / trumpet, flute, backing vocals
- Poul Nielsen / trumpet, flute
- Lars Rasmussen / violin on "Scerzo For Violin & Pianoforte"
- Jorgen Martinsen / 2. violin on Track 11
- Soren Berggreen / 3. violin on Track 11
- Mads Henriksen / 4. violin on Track 11
- Wandy Tworek / solo violin on Track 11
- Birgit Smidt / vocals
- Birgitte Holm Sorensen / vocals
- Borge Lysholmortensen / vocals
- Carsten Uhlendorf / engineer
- Klaus Lorenzen / producer

Recorded at Metronome Studios, Copenhagen in August to September 1973. except track "On A Manhatten Bar" recorded at Soundtrack Studios, Copenhagen in June 1973 and track "Scerzo For Violin & Pianoforte" recorded at Dopojam Studio 3, Tralløse in July 1973.

For ''Fat dogs and danishmen'' (1974, Zebra) the basic eight-piece core of Dr. Dopo Jam remained almost intact, though a new bassist was introduced, Vagn Hansen took the place of Jesper Hindø.The main difference was the increase of guest musicians on supporting instruments, like the violin, trumpet, double bass, trombone, vocals etc. with the cast rising to number 11.The album sounds rather weaker compared to ''Entrée'', albeit very far from pale or uninteresting.The Frank Zappa-esque playful tunes and tricks remain Dr. Dopo Jam's basic components along with a strong Canterbury flavor, which often crosses over to complex Gentle Giant territories.The material is pretty jazzy with very powerful Horn Rock elements and impressive instrumental plays with a nod to Samla Mammas Manna, though the atmosphere is much breezier and ethereal.Complicated themes and long instrumental parts are always present, featuring soft interplays, funny rhythms and even some musical-satirical passages with sarcastic vocals.They did have a great of sense humor, which comes in contrast with the professional music lines and intricate ideas.Clive Nolan once said that Prog is definitely the best music genre, but it lacks one thing: Humor. This is not one of those cases.