Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Longbranch Pennywhistle - 1969 - Longbranch Pennywhistle

Longbranch Pennywhistle 
Longbranch Pennywhistle

01. Jubilee Anne    3:00
02. Run Boy Run    2:58
03. Rebecca    2:45
04. Lucky Love    2:26
05. Kite Woman    2:30
06. Bring Back Funky Women    2:21
07. Star Spangled Bus    3:10
08. Mister, Mister    4:10
09. Don't Talk Now    3:18
10. Never Have Enough    5:00

Guitar, Vocals – Glenn Frey, John David Souther
 Buddy Emmons, Doug Kershaw, James Burton, James Gordon, Joe Osborne, Ry Cooder

Glenn Frey was born November 6, 1948 in Detroit, Michigan. He first had a taste of being a professional musician when he performed background vocals and played an acoustic guitar for Bob Seger’s 1968 Ramblin’ Gamblin’ album. When Frey’s girlfriend, an aspiring singer, wanted to move to Los Angeles, California, Frey went along with her. While there, he met the Texas-born John David Souther and formed this duo in 1969. Calling themselves Longbranch Pennywhistle, the duo often played gigs at the Troubadour in West Hollywood. They were eventually discovered by Amos Records and had enough material to create one, self-titled album. By 1971, Amos Records had gone out of business and the duo decided to dissolve their act. Frey soon continued his career by co-creating the Eagles with Don Henley, whom he had met at the Troubadour the year before. Souther, although would often write and co-write songs for the Eagles, primarily focused on his solo career. He also famously dated Linda Ronstadt and Stevie Nicks.

Longbranch Pennywhistle is a pleasant yet unthrilling album of modest harmonized early country-rock. Pre-echoes of the sound of the Eagles and 1970s mellow Californian rock can be heard, and Souther would re-record one of the better songs, "Kite Woman," for his early-'70s solo debut. The album sold little and the duo broke up in mid-1970. However, Frey was soon playing in Linda Ronstadt's band and forming the nucleus of the Eagles, to whom Souther would frequently contribute as a songwriter.

The duo Longbranch Pennywhistle, who made one obscure self-titled album in 1969, are remembered primarily for featuring a pre-Eagles Glenn Frey and J.D. Souther (who of course went on to write much material for the Eagles and Linda Ronstadt). Frey had moved to Los Angeles from Detroit, where he had played with Bob Seger, and hooked up there with ex-Texan J.D. Souther. The two attracted attention in the burgeoning Southern California country-rock scene via gigs at the Troubadour club and were signed by Amos Records. Their lone LP was produced by Tom Thacker and featured a wealth of outstanding session musicians, such as guitar heroes James Burton and Ry Cooder, Buddy Emmons, Larry Knechtel, Joe Osborn, Jim Gordon and Doug Kershaw.

J.D. Souther moved from Texas to California to follow the footsteps of the great B's: The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, The Beach Boys and The Flying Burrito Brothers. Longbranch Pennywhistle is a pleasant album of early country-rock. Pre-echoes of the sound of the Eagles and 1970s mellow Californian rock can be heard and some songs sound like the later days Byrds meet Poco. Souther would re-record one of the better songs, "Kite Woman," for his early-'70s solo debut. The album sold little and the duo broke up in mid-1970. However, Frey was soon playing in Linda Ronstadt's band The Stone Poneys and forming the nucleus of the Eagles, to whom Souther would frequently contribute as a songwriter. Souther and Frey would continue to collaborate, also with fellow Eagle Don Henley, occasionally on such Eagles classics as The Best of My Love, New Kid in Town, Victim of Love, The Sad Café, and Heartache Tonight.

And all of a sudden it's January 18, 2016 and you hear the news of Genn Frey passing away... and the saddest day of the year turns a tad sadder.

Impi - 1971 - Impi


01. Son Of A Zulu Man - 4:01
02. No One Seems To Notice - 4:12
03. Catch My Love - 3:44
04. Rifleman - 3:01
05. Seven Kinds Of Hell - 3:21
06. Deep River - 3:17
07. Herd Boy
08. Piccaninnies - 3:21
09. Nada - 2:30
10.Sun - 5:22

Paul Ditchfield - Vocals, Bass, Keyboards
Eddie Eckstein - Vocals, Drums, Perscussion
Barry Jarman - Vocals, Guitar, Trumpet, Valve Trombone, Flute, Penny Whistle, Concertina
Peter Clifford - Vocals, Guitar
Neville Whitmill - lead Vocals
Deni Loren - Lead Vocals
Peter Hubner - Trumpet, Trombone, Organ

Rare sole 1971 album by African influenced progressive rock band which included members of «The Bats» and «The Square Set»; elements of pastoral flute / pennywhistle tinged folk mixed with psych guitar, jazz rock brass, soulful vocals and thundering percussion. Comparisons with Vertigo prog rockers «Jade Warrior», early «Gravy Train», «Assegai» and jazz rockers like «Chicago» and «Greatest Show On Earth».
At the turn of the '70s rock mutated into a multi backed beast ,cross pollinating with jazz, classical, folk and ethnic influences, forming what is loosely termed 'progressive rock'. On the tip of Africa bands like Hawk, Abstract Truth and Freedoms Children were tapping into the poly rhythms and modal structures of African indigenous music, incorporating this into elements of rock, pop and folk, creating a truly unique progressive rock movement.

Starting out as a Beatles styled pop group in 1964,The Bats had racked up multiple hit singles and albums in their native South Africa, in the process becoming the biggest pop band in the country. The group has already experimented with psychedelia on tracks like “The Image” and ‘The Rock Machine” but growing frustrated with the creative restrictions of 3 minute pop singles and endless package tours, they decided to broaden their musical horizons. Teaming up with ex Sounds of Brass member Peter Hubner (trumpet, trombone & keyboards) , the sultry Deni Loren (vocals) and The Square Set's singer Neville Whitmill they formed Impi in 1971.

Impi is an isiZulu word for any armed body of men and in the case of this band of musical warriors it's an apt description. Paul Ditchfield remembers “Peter Hubner was with The Sounds of Brass, and when they broke up Peter came to us ,bringing Deni Loren, a great singer who had a very sexy stage presence and was also his girlfriend. We had previously worked with Neville Whitmill, who had a strong Ray Charles kind of voice with a fantastic range, and he too came along, completing the Impi line up”.

Influenced by the emerging jazz rock bands like Chicago Transit Authority, Chase and Blood, Sweat & Tears the band went into intense rehearsals before hitting the road, playing all the big venues across South Africa. Honed by the roadwork, Impi entered the studio with producer Johnny Boshoff to record their sole, self titled debut album.

“Impi” is an exciting merger of stomping African rhythms and melodies, powerful brass arrangements and soulful rock with elements of psych-tinged folk. The evocative “Herd Boy” with it’s haunting 'kwela' pennywhistle was released as a single in South Africa and reached the lower echelons of the charts; the languid ballad “Deep River” was released in the States but failed to make an impact.

Despite being critically acclaimed “Impi” failed to capture the either the burgeoning prog rock market or the conservative pop audience and the band quietly split – The Bats returning to the pop domain, Neville Whitmill rejoining The Square Set for the sterling “Those many feelings” album; Peter Hubner opening Emcee Studios and Deni Loren into relative obscurity. Now reissued over 40 years later the “Impi” album stands as a testament to a musically ambitious band ,perhaps ahead of it’s time in conservative South Africa.

Lijadu Sisters - 1979 - Horizon Unlimited

Lijadu Sisters
Horizon Unlimited

01. Orere-Elejigbo
02. Erora
03. Gbowo Mi
04. Gbalo-Alogbalo
05. Come On Home
06. Not Any Longer

Bass Drum – Ladi Oguntunwase, Tony Adeleye
Bass Guitar – Richard Archer
Drums – Buttley Moore, Laolu Akins
Drums [Ekwe], Claves [Cleffs] – Friday Jumbo
Keyboards – Lemmy Jackson
Lead Guitar – Frederick Ramm
Maracas – John Akanmu
Rhythm Guitar – Glenis Martins, Tunde Peters
Talking Drum – Soji Adenie

Recorded at Decca Studios, London.

The final disc in the Lijadu Sisters quartet of albums for Afrodisia, 1979’s Horizon Unlimited, is a superbly balanced affair which synthesizes the several diverse characteristics of the three earlier albums. Traditional Yoruba music, Afrobeat, funk, rock and pop are all melded together, as are traditional and electric instruments. A talking drum is upfront on each track, along with multi-instrumentalist Biddy Wright, who is heard on organ, acoustic piano, electric piano, guitars and synthesizer. The singing and the songs, as ever, are both pure gold. Most of the lyrics are in Yoruba. Horizon Unlimited makes you wish theLijadu Sisters had gone on releasing a new album every year, but, by 1979, Taiwo and Kehinde were finding their experience of the Nigerian record business deeply frustrating. “They don’t give one fig about the artists” Kehinde told Jeremy Marre that year, in his film Konkombe: The Nigerian Pop Music Scene. “They just sap and sap. When you sign with them you sign away your life. As far as they’re concerned, you keep owing them and paying back until you die.”
The disc opens with an outstanding chunk of Afrobeat, “Orere-Elejigbo”. Its lyric, sung mostly in Yoruba, refers to the “trouble in the streets” then endemic in urban Nigerian life – trouble frequently caused by the supposed forces of law and order. The words cite the legend of a destructive princess, and tell the government it should be nurturing the people, not destroying them, their environment and their culture. “Erora” which follows, expands on this idea. Literally, the word means “take it easy”, and here Taiwo and Kehinde use it as an exhortation to the governing and industrial elite. Take it easy, they sing: if you use money or power in a negative way, you will destroy the world. By 1979, the oil-driven ecological rape of the Nigerian delta was already woefully advanced. The general ambiance is similar to the apala/fuji/waka mix of “Bayi L’ense“on Mother Africa.
“Gbowo Mi” a song to Oshun, the river goddess, is pure balm for the soul, with a delightful acoustic piano vamp. It is followed by “Gbalo-Alogbalo”. Asked what it means, Kehinde laughs and says, “We don’t know! They are the phonetic spelling of words our mother heard when she young, on a record a Camerounian friend played to her. It was mum who taught us the original song”. (In the early 1960s, the emerging Congolese rumba star Franco wrote several songs like this, verses, choruses, bridges and all, impressing everyone with his knowledge of “Spanish” as he tried for an authentic Cuban sound). Horizon Unlimited concludes with two funk-infused love ballads, “Come On Home” and “Not Any Longer”

Lijadu Sisters - 1978 - Sunshine

Lijadu Sisters

01. Come And Dance
02. Promise
03. Set Me Free
04. Sunshine
05. Reincarnation
06. Turbulent Waters

Bass – Jerry Ihejeto
Drums – Candido Obajinmi
Electric Piano – Gboyega Adelaja
Guitar – Jimmy Lee Adams
Strings, Synthesizer, Congas, Electric Piano, Guitar – Biddy Wright
Recorded By, Remix, Engineer – John Malife
Trumpet – Aras Adeyemo, Solomon Omikunle

Written-By – Biddy Wright (tracks: A1), Lijadu Sisters (tracks: A2, A3, B1, B2, B3)
Arranged By – Biddy Wright, Lijadu Sisters
Recorded at the Decca Studios, Lagos, Nigeria.

The third of the Lijjadu Sisters’ four Afrodisia albums (Sunshine, from 1978) is as different from its predecessor, the rootical Mother Africa, as that disc was from the funk and rock-infused Danger, which opened the series in 1976. Traditional drums and percussion, a central feature ofMother Africa, are not present, and that album’s mainly-Yoruba lyrics are replaced by ones in English. The songs still contain deep messages, but the wider social and political concerns of the two earlier albums give way to thoughts from nearer home, about love and family. Biddy Wright continues to co-arrange the instrumental side of the music. He is heard on electric guitar, and more prominently, and for the first time, on synthesizer. There’s a reprise, too, of the funky organ lines he contributed to Danger, on the uptempo boogie “Turbulent Waters.” Rock, disco and out-and-out pop are all prominent in the arrangements and in the sisters’ luminous melodies. There’s a taste of reggae as well, like there was on the title track for Danger. “Reincarnation” is a sunny, upbeat song which is reminiscent of the rocksteady-to-reggae work of Jamaica’s Toots & The Maytals and Jimmy Cliff. The lyric is pure Lijadu Sisters positivism, and an implicit nod to the happy home their mother created for them. “I have no regrets,” sing the twins, “bring me back home where I belong.”
Taiwo and Kehinde also pay tribute to their mother on “Turbulent Waters,” which closes the album. “Our mother had such terrible times in her life,” says Kehinde. “But she was staunch. She never gave up. If you meet turbulent waters, you must be staunch like her, and not change your ultimate destination.” The simple fact of the Lijadu Sisters’ success as recording artists did much to encourage other young Nigerian women to become singers – and the keep on keeping on spirit of “Turbulent Waters” is among those songs which several have gone on record as saying provided them with particular inspiration. The twins’ career, together with that of the Nigerian-born pop singer Patti Boulaye in Britain and Europe, spurred on a wave of female singers who emerged in the early to mid 1980s: Onyeka, Oby Onyioka, Dora Ifudu, Martha Ulaefo, Uche Ibeto, Julie Pipe and Christie Essiens among them.
Sunshine also includes two bittersweet love songs, the uptempo “Promise” and slower “Set Me Free.” The path to true love did not always run smooth for Kehinde and Taiwo, and we hear all about it here.

Lijadu Sisters - 1977 - Mother Africa

Lijadu Sisters
Mother Africa


01. Osupa 1
02. Iya Mi Jowo
03. Bayi L’ense
04. Orin Aro
05. Dibe Nuwa
06. Osupa II

The second of the Lijadu Sisters’ four Afrodisia albums, 1977’s Mother Africa is, from one perspective, markedly different to its predecessor, Danger, released the previous year. The twins’ glowing melodies and warm harmonies are as before, but the accompanying band’s lineup and arrangements, both still co-directed by Biddy Wright, owe less to rock and funk, and more to traditional Yoruba music. The core band comprises Wright on guitars, sometimes electric but as often acoustic and played in palm-wine/highlife style; talking drums; and a shekere. Wright’s post-Jimmy Smith organ is not heard this time out. And, while most of the lyrics on Danger were sung in English, on Mother Africa Kehinde and Taiwo sing mostly in Yoruba. “We didn’t really plan for Mother Africa to be in this style,” says Kehinde. “It just developed that way. In the studio, we go with the spirit.”
The album opens and closes with two versions of “Osupa.” It is sung to the moon, asking her to light up the night, as she did when people sat outside their houses eating and storytelling, in earlier times. Both feature talking drum, but the closing “Osupa 2,” taken at a slightly faster pace, also includes electric guitar. Non-Yoruba speakers may not precisely understand the words, but the song’s general ambiance – a soothing and peaceful one – is clear. Unusually, on “Osupa 1,” Wright is featured as third vocalist.
The second track, “Iya Mi Jowo” (“mother please”), is a rearrangement ofthe Lijadu Sisters’ original 1968 recording for Decca. It was the first song Taiwo wrote. “One day, when we awoke,” says Taiwo, “our mother was cold to us. When we returned from school, she was still cold. We had somehow disappointed her. I sat down and wrote the song – which says ‘whatever I have done to sadden you, mother, please, forgive me’ – at her feet. The whole thing just came out. At the end, I looked at her, and she was crying.” There’s an attractive highlife lilt to the song.
“Bayi L’ense,” which follows, has a deep groove which resonates with contemporary apala, fuji and waka music (waka was the female version of apala and fuji, both male preserves). Throughout, a mesmerizing tenor ostinato is played on a traditional Yoruba string instrument, the goje, or on a guitar sounding very much like a goje. The song is about “two-faced people” – including, but not limited to, those who used to criticise Taiwo for going out with Ginger Baker (a white man!).
“Dibe Nuwa,” sung in Yoruba and Ibo, is a plea for peace in the world. The 1967-70 civil war between Federal Nigeria and its eastern state, Biafra (the home of the Ibo people), was still raw in the national psyche, and its memory helped inspire the lyric.

Lijadu Sisters - 1976 - Danger

Lijadu Sisters 

01. Danger
02. Amebo
03. Life’s Gone Down Low
04. Cashing In
05. Bobby
06. Lord Have Mercy

Alto Saxophone – Felix Shittu
Bass – Ade Jolaoso
Keyboards – Johnny Woode (tracks: Johny Wood)
Lead Guitar, Rhythm Guitar, Tenor Saxophone, Percussion, Bass Guitar – Biddy Wright

Producer – Biddy Wright
Written-By, Arranged By – Lijadu Sisters

Spot the difference. Juju stars Sunny Ade, Ebenezer Obey and Dele Abiodun; Afrobeat originator Fela Anikulapo Kuti and ozzidizm originator Sonny Okosuns; highlife rejuvenators Victor Uwaifo, Prince Nico and the Oriental Brothers; fuji stars Ayinla Kollington and Ayinde Barrister; apala veteran Haruna Ishola; waka child prodigy Salawa Abeni; and roots-modernists the Lijadu Sisters. With the exception of Abeni and the Lijadu Sisters, the biggest names on the 1970s Nigerian music scene were all men.
In Nigeria in the 1970s, only a tiny handful of female artists broke through the backing singer/dancer ceiling to become stars in their own right, particularly if they wrote all their own material – as did Abeni, with lyrics closely based on or taken straight out of Islamic scripture and folk wisdom, and the Lijadu Sisters, whose repertoire ranged from love songs and dance anthems through philosophy and political/social commentary.
“The music business was hard for women in Nigeria,” says Taiwo Lijadu. “Back then, they didn’t think women had brains.”
Twins Taiwo and Kehinde were born in Jos, in northern Nigeria, on October 22, 1948. They enjoyed singing from an early age, encouraged by their mother, who bought them records by a wide range local and overseas of artists. Kehinde and Taiwo remember with special fondness discs by Aretha Franklin, Miriam Makeba, Ray Charles and, later, Fela Kuti (who, like the Nobel Prize winning writer and political activist Wole Soyinka, was their second cousin).
The twins started songwriting early too – Kehinde when she was 10, Taiwo when she was 17 – and absorbed the humanitarian sensibilities of Franklin, Makeba, Charles and Kuti along with their soulful vocal styles. “All our records include songs with deep messages,” says Kehinde. “Artists should be the voice of the world. Not just of their own people, but of the wider world, for a problem which faces one, faces all.”
The Lijadu Sisters began working as session singers, but solid-gold talent and determination – and, no doubt, the twins’ extraordinary physical beauty – soon led to their first own-name release, “Iya Mi Jowo” (“mother please”), which came out on Nigerian Decca in 1968. The song was written by Taiwo in 1965 and the story behind it is included in the notes for the album Mother Africa, for which the sisters rerecorded it.
In 1971, the sisters met the British drummer Ginger Baker (Cream, Blind Faith, Airplane), who in the first half of the 1970s was a frequent visitor to Nigeria, where he recorded and performed with Kuti and his band, Africa 70. In 1972, the Lijadu Sisters performed with Baker’s band at the cultural festival accompanying the Munich Olympics in Germany. For a while, Taiwo and Baker were an item.
Another fortuitous male encounter was with the multi-instrumentalist Biddy Wright. Wright’s mother was a close friend of the sisters’ mother, through whom the three met. Sadly no longer with us, Wright co-arranged and played on all four of the classic 1970s Lijadu Sisters albums released on Decca’s Afrodisia imprint. Thirty-plus years later, after an introduction by Will Glasspiegel, Knitting Factory Records will re-release these long out-of-print albums – Danger (1976), Mother Africa (1977), Sunshine (1978) and Horizon Unlimited (1979).
Assisted only by traditional drummers and percussionists, Wright played most of the instruments on these discs – including electric and acoustic guitar, bass guitar, saxophone and keyboards. After the twins’ own ravishing voices, rich harmonies and thought provoking songs, Wright was key to their 1970s success: as at home with funk and rock as he was with traditional Yoruba music, and, like Taiwo and Kehinde, adept at bringing traditional and electric styles together.
By 1980, the Lijadu Sisters were acquiring an international profile. They were featured in British director Jeremy Marre’s fiIm Konkombe: The Nigerian Pop Music Scene in 1979, and in the Nigerian chapter of Marre’s TV series on “world music,” Beats Of The Heart. In 1984, the US label Shanachie released the compilation album Double Trouble, and the British label Earthworks rereleased Horizon Unlimited. In 1985, on British television, Kehinde and Taiwo were a big hit on the so-cool-it-hurts music show, The Tube. In 1988, they visited the US with Sunny Ade, and performed under their own name with Ade’s band, winning an enthusiastic review in The New York Times.
By the end of the decade, things were looking good for the Lijadu Sisters in the US, and after the Ade concerts they stayed in the country while their green card applications went through.
Then disaster struck. Kehinde suffered dreadful spinal injuries in a fall in the hallway of the twins’ Brooklyn apartment building (they lived on the first floor). “The first doctor who saw me gave me six months to live,” says Kehinde. “Then they said I would never walk again. But I said to myself, ‘I will be strong, I will not give up, I owe it to my family.’”
The accident threatened to finish the Lijadu Sisters’ career, and it kept them out of the public eye until 2011, when Knitting Factory’s reissue program began.
While Kehinde was recovering, the twins withdrew completely from the limelight. Inevitably, rumors about their wellbeing and whereabouts abounded. Some people thought they had died, others that they had married rich Americans and retired into lives of luxurious obscurity. There were several other tales. Everyone missed them terribly.
Kehinde eventually overcame her injuries, but it took many years, and she still suffers its effects. “I am walking, even dancing again now,” she says. “But I cannot sit down for more than two hours at a time, and I cannot fly any distance at all.”
During Kehinde’s recovery, the sisters’ were sustained by their embrace of the traditional Yoruba belief system Ifa (which has a divination strand of arcane complexity and infinite nuance), and their study of the use of herbs in healing.
“Our mother taught us that unless we had something to promote, it was best not to do interviews,” says Taiwo. “Save it for when you have something to talk about. And we have not spoken for a long time. But the Knitting Factory program means we have something to talk about once more. We are back, and we are going to perform again.”
“It is decades since we have performed publicly,” adds Kehinde, “but now we are ready – and the music will be of today! We thank our fans for remembering us, and we want them to know why we have been silent. We love them very much.”
In 2016, Kehinde and Taiwo, inseparable since birth, share an apartment in Harlem, NYC.

The Lijadu Sisters’ Afrodisia debut, 1976’s Danger, is as funky and mellifluous as it gets, the twins’ gorgeous harmonies underpinned by a solid Afro-rock beat and framed by Wright’s funky organ and guitar work. Danger has a vibe of uplifting positivity which would be a feature of all four of the Lijadu Sisters’ Afrodisia albums.

Lyrically, most of the songs address social and political issues, sometimes directly, sometimes through metaphor and allusion. The uptempo opener, “Danger,” is on one level about a “dangerous lover.” But in the wider context of the times – with the police and army’s abuses of power running rampant and otherwise unchecked (Fela Kuti’s eviscerating Zombie was also released in 1976) – it captures life on the edge in contemporary Nigeria.

“Danger” has a bridge which is almost identical to the one used by Jamaican artists Althea & Donna on “Uptown Top Ranking” and Trinity on “Three Piece Suit.” Intriguingly, both these records were released a year after “Danger.” Kehinde and Taiwo put it down to something that was in the air at the time. That said, it remains a remarkable coincidence.
In Yoruba, “Amebo,” which follows, literally means “someone who gossips.” The twins here extend the word to mean they are watching the powers that be – “your office of power” and “the work you have done” – and will not be afraid to speak up about wrongdoing and incompetence.

They do just that on “Cashing In,” which addresses the complacency and corruption of the Nigerian ruling elite in general, and in particular the then-recent revelation that government ministers were flying prostitutes into the country at the tax payers’ expense. Such people are cashing in, sing Taiwo and Kehinde in the refrain, while “poverty’s a common sight.”

The slow and mournful “Lord Have Mercy,” which closes the album, returns, heartbreakingly, to the idea of poverty amidst national economic wealth. It tells the story of a boy the twins saw “dying on the street…children starving; mama’s dead, poppa’s gone; life is wasted; Lord, have mercy; Lord, hear me crying.” In fact, this particular child was taken in by a concerned passer by – but the lyric doesn’t reveal that, because Kehinde and Taiwo realised a happy ending would let listeners off the hook.
The remaining tracks, “Life’s Gone Down” and “Bobby,” are respectively an example of the Lijadu Sisters’ signature positivity (“it’s not too late, if we hurry; people get together, life’s gonna get good”), and a rock-steady infused love song.