Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Glenn Phillips - 1975 - Lost At Sea

Glenn Phillips
Lost At Sea

01. I've Got A Bullet With Your Name On It 2:06
02. I Feel Better Already 3:50
03. Guruvir 2:33
04. A Storm 0:57
05. Dogs 5:37
06. Lenore 3:40
07. You Know I Do (Lenore Part II) 2:47
08. The Flu 2:57
09. Jimmy Klein 2:22
10. Hubbler 2:08
11. My Favorite Song 1:25

Acoustic Guitar – Bill Rea
Bass [Fender Bass] – Mike Holbrook
Cello – John Carr Harriman
Drums – Jerry Fields (tracks: B5), Jimmy (Mad Dog) Presmanes
Electric Guitar – Glenn Phillips
Piano, Vibraphone [Vibes], Marimba – Sant Ram Singh

Recorded at home in Jan. + Feb. 1975 (Hubbler taped live at the 12th Gate, July 15, 1972).
All songs copyright Glenn Phillips, Snow Star Publishing.

Born in 1950, American guitarist Glenn Phillips became known for his work with the Hampton Grease Band, of which he was an original member from late-60's to early-70's.After the band's dissolution in 1973 he started a solo career and in 1975 he recorded his debut and most proggy album ''Lost at sea'' at his homestudio, an album he launched on his own Snow Star Records.The line-up of his backing group included former Hampton Grease Band members Jerry Fields and Mike Holbrook on percussion and drums respectively, Bill Rea on acoustic guitar, John Carr Harrtman on cello, Sant Ram Singh on piano, marimba and vibraphone and Jimmy Presmanes on drums.

Phillips' debut was primarly a Prog/Jazz Fusion album with some early-70's psychedelic touches, pretty guitar-oriented and containing some SANTANA overtones.A very short album, under 30 minutes long, this one is based on Singh's and Phillips' interactions on guitars, vibraphone and electric piano, revealing a jazzy taste here and there with some interesting melodies and solos thrown in for good measure.Phillips had been described as a unique, talented composer and guitarist at the time and the album is quite a proof.His love for atmospheric and well-crafted instrumental music and his flawless plays are a real achievement, there seems to be though a tendency towards experimental, jazzy deliveries in some tracks, which soon fade for the sake of guitar and piano solos.''Lost at sea'' kind of reminds me of New Zealanders LIVING FORCE only recorded document, this one sounds like a less aggressive and dense version of that work.Cello and acoustic guitar in a few tracks come as accurate and challenging additions, the priority though is Phillips' guitar hooks and moves, while his intense riffs, although sporadic, are quite charming as well.

Phillips continued to make solo albums and most of the members here accompanied him in his updated version of Glenn Phillips Band.His music remained heavily guitar-oriented and these works might be good additions for all guitar newcomers.

Smooth Jazz Fusion with progressive overtones.A mix of SANTANA, LIVING FORCE, WEATHER REPORT and DIXIE DREGS vibes with emphasis on electric guitar and the jazzy piano.Recommended.

Col. Bruce Hampton - 1978 - One Ruined Life (Of A Bronze Tourist)

Col. Bruce Hampton
One Ruined Life (Of A Bronze Tourist)

01. Charles Patrick's Millionaires Learn To Swing 1:15
02. Sunshine Makes Eye Contact 3:12
03. Leaning Near A Town, She Stood The Storm 1:50
04. Frolic With Closet Lizards 3:09
05. The Imposition According To Vasco Da Gamma 4:14
06. Cocoa Beach 3:22
07. In The Park With You 2:18
08. Rise To Failure And 300 3:08
09. Col. Crawford Boyd Speaks On The Essentials Of Tragic Waste Due To The Spiritual Rebirth Of Ty Cobb, Recorded Live 1946 Stork Club, Memphis 4:55

Bonus Tracks
10. Working On A Building 3:33
11. Ghost Alcohol Sandwich 2:43
12. Talking Shoe 11:33

Bass – Jules Davenport
Choir – Lithonia Choir
Flute – Face (16)
Guitar – Col. Crawford Boyd
Piano – Jasper Brake
Violin – Richard A. Robinson
Voice, Clarinet, Saxophone – Ben "Pops" Thorton
Voice, Drums, Performer [Chazoid] – Mr. Coles

Recorded at Last Stand Music, Hapeville, GA.
Remastered by Alex Lowe at Southern Living At It's Finest, Atlanta, GA and Bob Pantages at Hideaway Mastering, Ramona, CA.
Originally recorded on Pine Tree Records, 1978.

In a musical career that has spanned nearly five decades, Bruce Hampton has gone from enigmatic cult figure to outright legendary elder statesman.

His first claim to infamy came in the late 60's as member of the Hampton Grease Band, a Southern Rock take on the psychedelic, weird, and progressive sounds of the day, whose sole album Music to Eat holds the dubious honor of being the second worst selling record in the history of the Capricorn/Columbia label (second only to a Yoga instructional record). Despite a cult following and many high profile opening slots with the likes of Frank Zappa, The Allman Brothers and even Jimi Hendrix, the album fell through the cracks due to poor promotion and was yanked from the store shelves after a six week run (thankfully, it's been reissued).

Throughout the 70's and 80's the Colonel continued to perform and record with a variety of mostly regional acts in the Tidewater and Southern states, as well as writing for a number of music magazines, acting as a self-described "good will ambassador for Southern Rock". The best of these recordings were later re-issued in a compilation entitled Strange Voices: A History 1977-1987.

Col. Hampton's greatest claim to fame came about in the mid 90's working with the Aquarium Rescue Unit. Thanks to the burgoening jamband scene being spearheaded by band such as Phish, and the greater exposure recieved by performing on Blues Traveler's H.O.R.D.E. (Horizons Of Rock Developing Everywhere) festval tour, this latest of the Colonel's projects was vaulted into national (if still overall cultish) prominence. Unfortunately, due to health problems the Colonel was forced to leave the Aquarium Rescue Unit to their own devices and take a forced hiatus from perfoming. The Rescue Unit soon dissoved with its members forming solo projects and finding jobs with the likes of Phil Lesh & Friends, The Allman Brothers Band, Leftover Salmon, and Jonas Hellborg.

While he did take a short break from performing, the Colonel did anything but take it easy after leaving the Aquarium Rescue Unit. Hampton was instrumental in organizing a third stage for subsequent H.O.R.D.E. tours, and found time to appear in films such as Sling Blade and Phish bassist Mike Gordon's Outside well forming and touring with bands such as Fiji Mariners and The Codetalkers. The Colonel continues to perform with those bands today as well as making sporatic reunion appearances with ARU.

Hampton Grease Band - 1971 - Music To Eat

Hampton Grease Band
Music To Eat

01. Halifax (19:39)
02. Maria (5:30)
03. Six (19:29)
04. Evans (12:28)
 a. Egyptian Beaver
 b. Evans
05. Lawton (7:48)
06. Hey Old Lady / Bert's Song (3:19)
07. Hendon (20:13)
 a. Spray Paint
 b. Major Bones
 c. Sewell Park
 d. Improvisation

Bruce Hampton - vocals, trumpet
Harold Kelling - guitar, vocals
Glenn Philips - guitar, saxophone
Jerry Fields - drums, vocals
Mike Holbrook - bass

A double album released in 1971 and purported to be the second-worst selling album in the history of Columbia records, "Music To Eat" stands alone in the rock canon, and understandably has become something of a cult favorite. The CD reissue from a couple years back includes some great liner notes compiled from interviews with band members and record company folk from back in the day (theirs is a tale of missed opportunities and spectacular misunderstandings -- perhaps part of their sales problem was due to the fact that their sole album was promoted as a "comedy record!")

The suckrock sound starts with the jazzy guitar freakouts, play-it-like-you-were-being-edited transitions, and self-consciously dada hijinks of Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention, and of course also encompasses the chinese blues licks and martian field hollers of Captain Beefheart's Magic Band -- but they add a dose of Allman Bros. southern-fried jamology (they were from Atlanta, GA after all) and keep the guitar tones clean and shimmering like the Byrds. Continuing the reference game by looking into the future, what you wind up with is chiming guitar swirls that nearly top those on Televison's "Marquee Moon" LP and some avante-tribal strum-and-drang textures not heard again until the heyday of Sonic Youth, Swans, Band of Susans, et. al. (and these boys don't even use distortion, the guitarists achieve the blurring overtones-n-drones effect just by playing REALLY fast!)

Glen Philips and Harold Kelling are amazing guitar players, and the rhythm section and drummer Jerry Fields in particular are tight as hell -- the only thing that might give one pause is the "hey am I weird or what?" ranting of Bruce Hampton. He sings well enough, like a Beefheart or Roky Erikson (in fact he quit the band in '73 to audition for Zappa -- but lost out to the "Zomby Woof" guy) but it's hard to take his lyrics seriously, I mean it makes Zappa's "oblique trivia lyrics" seem profound. Not "funny ha ha" but more like "funny peculiar." I get the distinct impression part of the reason these guys were such a flop is simply that they were antisocial nerds who didn't play well with other children (or record industry types.) So while the temptation is there to view the Hampton Grease Band as a possible answer to the trivia question "what is the silliest hippy-shit record ever released on a major record label?" in truth it's actually damn near a masterpiece that almost exists outside of history. They certainly didn't fit in to their own time very well, and they weren't ahead of their time either coz no one else has ever played "suckrock" before or since.

The seven songs on the album basically break down into 4 epic pieces (10+ minutes in length) and 3 shorter pieces (under 10 minutes.) "Maria" is a faux-Mexican folk ballad played mostly on acoustic guitars that tells the tale of a 15 year old boy losing his virginity -- vulgar, yet the youthful exuberance of the performance makes it more cute than offensive. "Lawton" is an improvised duet by guitarist Philips and drummer Fields, very unstructured and avante and almost dazzling in that the players never seem to resort to repeating anything or playing canned licks. Finally "Hey Old Lady / Bert's Song" at a marketable 3:19 in length smells like a record company request -- though in typical suckrock style the boys have delivered a song about an old lady and a garbage collector with a demented shriek for a chorus: "WHO'S GONNA LIVE AND DIE? / YER GONNA BE HIGH!!!" Needless to say the radio did not pick this one up.

Epic number one and the leadoff track of the album is "Halifax", the standout song on the LP, and a real unsung gem of the "side long song" genre. Though some sections amount to jazz-inspired blowing sessions, the piece is throroughly composed and played with phenomenal tightness. Indeed, it reminds me of the kind of music Charles Mingus was writing & recording in the late 1950's -- even when cutting loose this band is still telepathically in synch. And normally when a hea-vy band does a 20 minute song about an exotic land with an "X" in its name (like "Syrinx" or "Xanadu") the location is fictional -- the "joke" here is that there actually is a Halifax (Canada), but it is rendered fantastic and unreal by a stream of inspired nonsense lyrical images: sounding like Jon Belushi doing Joe Cocker, Hampton begins with historical notes from the Encyclopaedia Brittanica: "Colonol Edward Cornwalis / brought strength to the English position / he established a civil government . . . " -- then the music shifts and he starts riffing like a travel bureau salesman: "We would like for you to come to Halifax! / Come and breathe some of our air!" A new riff and one of the other singers in the band helpfully interjects: "Six thousand six / hundred and thirty eight / miles of graded road / the local utilities / are owned and operated / by the federal government!" The mood of the piece is upbeat and subtly comedic, full of dynamic changes and whizzing cartoon melodies, a real larf and a harf.

The next epic "Six" demonstrates why HGB is more than just a goof: for all their over-the-top deliberate wackiness, they really do have chops and taste. They know how to put it all together, lyrics married to music to create a context that is more than the sum of it's parts. Where "Halifax" was bouyant and romping, providing the perfect context for it's demented-grin lyrics, here we have "Six" which sounds anxious and even paranoid, coinciding perfectly with its lyrical concerns: mysterious coincidences involving the number 6, and a raving lunatic narrative about aliens from the planet Pajodis coming to earth, performing "nutritional experiments" and "REEMING OUR NASAL PASSAGES!!!" (the delivery on the last line being the most obvious Beefheartism on the LP.)

"Evans" is a relatively concise statement at 12 minutes, and is the most rawkin' tune in the HGB oevre. The lyric is another meaningless in-joke, this time about a friend of the band: "Look at Jim Evans! Look at his hands!" The instrumental passages are fierce and menacing -- this could almost be heavy metal if the guitars weren't so crisp and clean (not a drop of distortion!)

The final track on the album "Hendon" clocks in at just over 20 minutes making it the longest track on an album of longitude -- and according to the liner notes, it was all recorded in one take! Beginning with some lyrics cribbed from the warning label on a can of spray paint ("keep away from flame, AHHHHHH!!!!"), moving on to an anatomy quiz, then a lecture about Sewell Park (where HGB played free concerts in Atlanta), followed by some Magic Band riffing where Hampton repeatedly intones: "I thought I saw a Leo / he made me vomit / driving in his comet" -- then the final "improvisation" section (so-titled): a pastoral passage twice as beautiful and trippy as anything the Dead ever did, almost Ravelesque in parts, building up to a glorious squall of white heat from the buzzing axes of Philips and Kelling.