Saturday, May 21, 2016

Jody Grind - 1970 - Far Canal

Jody Grind 
Far Canal

01. We've Had It (5:07)
02. Bath Sister (3:28)
03. Jump Bed Jed 7:14)
04. Paradiso (7:31)
05. Plastic Shit (7:18)
06. Vegetable Oblivion (2:09)
07. Red Worms & Lice (7:23)
08. Ballad For Bridget (3:42)

Tim Hinkley / Keyboards, Vocals
Pete Gavin / Drums
Bernie Holland / Guitar

Following the release of Jody Grind's debut One step on, the ubiquitous musical differences quickly developed between band leader Tim Hinkley and the other two members. As a result, Hinkley found himself in a similar position to Vincent Crane of Atomic Rooster (an interesting comparison given both were organ players), in having a band name but no band. Essentially, Hinkley wanted to move in a more straightforward, perhaps commercial, direction which could be exploited in a live environment, while the other two wanted to continue to explore the roots of prog direction of their first album.

Hinkley therefore recruited Bernie Holland and Peter Gavin as replacements, creating a line up which would last until the end of the band's brief 2 year existence. Far canal (I am not sure where the title comes from, but it appears to be a disguised form of swearing. Interestingly, or perhaps not, it is the name of English Football team Plymouth Argyle's fan site) was released a mere 6 months after the band's debut, the opening 5 minute song We've had it immediately indicating the softer and more accessible style of the new line up.

Tracks such as Bath sister and Jump bed Jed are fairly ordinary rock numbers, the latter having a rhythm guitar riff similar to Focus's Syliva (which of course it predates). The complete absence of the wonderful brass rock arrangements which adorned the first album are in part the reason why the tracks appear under-developed. While on the plus side, this leaves more room for the fine organ playing of Hinkley, it renders the tracks far less distinctive than their peers on the band's debut.

O Paradiso is a looser instrumental which once again (per the debut album) features an unwelcome drum solo. Plastic [&*!#] was recorded live, and as such is the only live recording of the band available. The song is essentially a Hendrix like piece featuring obscure vocals and a dynamic lead guitar jam.

The album closes with a couple of largely instrumental numbers with obscure titles and an outro of smooth jazz . Of these, Red worms and lice is an impressive, if slightly wandering organ and guitar jam. Ballad for Bridget is not a ballad at all, but a shuffling jazz piano number which is quite out of place.

In all, an interesting if unexceptional second album, which sees Jody Grind rather falling into line. Had Hinkley decided to continue to explore the direction of the band's fine debut, perhaps things might have been different. As it was, this was to be this short lived band's swan-song.

After the demise of Jody Grind, Hinckley went on to join Vinegar Joe, a band which featured Elkie Brooks and Robert Palmer in its line up, and later moved to Nashville, USA where he now lives.

Jody Grind - 1969 - One Step On

Jody Grind 
One Step On

01. One Step On (18:47)
- a. In My Mind
- b. Nothing At All
- c. Interaction
- d. Paint It Black
02. Little Message (4:42)
03. Night Today (5:04)
04. U.S.A. (6:41)
05. Rock 'n' Roll Man (4:31)

- Tim Hinkley / organ
- Ivan Zagni / guitar
- Barry Wilson / drums
- Louis Cenammo / bass (1d, 2 & 5)

It can be a real enigma sometimes how some groups make it and others do not. For no apparent reason, a band who have originality, energy and some fine musicians manage to completely bypass any form of recognition or success. Jody Grind are a classic example. Formed in late 1968 by band leader and keyboard player Tim Hinkley, they released two classic albums which immediately sank without trace. Fortunately, today they are belatedly beginning to receive the recognition they deserve.

The music of Jody Grind is a sort of melting pot of Deep Purple, Chicago, Uriah Heep, Vanilla Fudge, The Nice and many others. It should be remembered though that Jody Grind are more leaders than followers, their albums predating many of the best known releases of those great bands.

The album opens with a stunning 18 minute suite bearing the album's title. This four part epic includes a wonderful cover of the Rolling Stones Paint it black, the other three sections being self composed. The driving brass and superb guitar work remind me a little of Uriah Heep's great Salisbury suite. The track oozes energy and originality, especially when you remember it dates from 1969. The brass sections were actually added after completion of the recording of the album, being arranged by David Palmer (later of Jethro Tull). My only minor gripe is the inclusion of a drum solo, but thankfully it is kept brief.

The following Little message continues the magic, the track once again focusing on the instrumental prowess of the band. Night today finally sees the band taking a breather, the song being a softer piece featuring more in the way of vocals. While it is a pleasant listen, it lacks the dynamics of those which precede it, and is very much of its time. Anyone who enjoys the obscure one album band Aquila will also enjoy this and the following track USA. The latter is a straight blues rock number featuring some good guitar work.

The album closes with a Chuck Berry tribute Rock'n'roll man, a thinly disguised cover of Johnny B. Goode. Once again some good if predictable guitar work, but the track is by and large the definition of filler.

In all, a tremendously exciting album which loses its way slightly in the latter part. The first 20+ minutes though are as good as anything you will hear from the period.

Incidentally, the band's name does not reflect that of any of their members, simply being the name of a jazz number by Horace Silver.

Gary Boyle - 1981 - Step Out

Gary Boyle 
Step Out

01. Jeanies Dance
02. Numb Thumb
03. Step Out
04. Periscope
05. Fuchi Ce Pesta
06. Thinking Of You
07. Gitte
08. So Many Times Before

Gary Boyle / guitars, vocal (B4)
Paul Birchall / keyboards (solo on A2)
Gary Culshaw / bass
Graham Dean / drums

Janne Schaffer / 1st guitar solo on A4 & B3
Bjorn J:son LIndh / flute (B2 & B3)
Stefan Nilsson / Prophet 5 Synthesiser (A1-A3, A4 Solo, B3, B4 solo)
Jacob Andersen / percussion (A1, A3, B1-B4)

Janne Schaffer and Bjorn J:son LIndh are on it as guests... what else do you need to know?

Gary Boyle - 1978 - Electric Glide

Gary Boyle 
Electric Glide

01. Snap Crackle
02. Hayabusa
03. Electric Glide
04. Morning Father Joys
05. Gaz
06. It's Almost Light Again
07. Grumble
08. Brat No.2

Gary Boyle / Guitar
Gary Moore / Guitar
Simon Phillips / Drums
Robert Ahwry / Guitar
Richard Bailey / Drums
Phil Chen / Bass
John Giblin / Bass
Pete Jacobsen / Keyboards
Simon Morton / Percussion
Ken Shaw / Guitar

I was excited to find this - I knew of Gary Boyle through his appearance with the Soft Machine at the NDR Jazz Workshop show in 1973, as well as his work with Isotope. Isotope held so much promise - the compositions are interesting, the performances and solos enthralling (at least on "Illusion"). I had no idea that there were Gary Boyle solo albums - I had to check it out!
But I was expecting too much. The credits were under the obi (found a used Japanese import of this CD, released by Gull Records), so I didn't realize that it has Gary Moore, Simon Phillips, and bassists Phil Chen & John Giblin. Chen is Chinese-Jamaican and played with Rod Stewart for forever. John Giblin has played with Brand X among many others. Simon Phillips needs no introduction. So it's a supergroup kind of album, which I suppose might have given me pause.

The tracks with Phil Chen on bass ("Snap Crackle" and "Electric Glide" ) are straight-ahead jazz/rock fusion, bordering on easy listening - not bad, laid-back grooves, nice solos. They remind me of Japanese fusion bands like Prism and some of Kazumi Watanabe's work (especially To Chi Ka). Two more tracks ("Morning Father Joys" and "Brat No. 2") are exclusively acoustic guitar, calling to mind perhaps the acoustic sections found in Isotope. The rest of the album features Simon Phillips on drums and John Giblin on bass. These are the most prog-like on the album, as well as the most interesting. Gary Moore is on two of the Phillips/Giblin tracks - some of the playing is pretty over the top, in a good way. The ones without Moore are a bit more cerebral but still enjoyable.

Overall, a decent album, though the three different sessions being mixed up mess with the cohesion. On the jacket they are actually listed in a different order, with the Phil Chen tracks first, the Gary Moore tracks and one without next, the two purely acoustic tracks, and then one of the Phillips/Giblin tracks with acoustic guitar last - I suspect that might be the "proper" running order. If you like instrumental guitar-based prog and especially fusion, then this album may do it for you

Gary Boyle - 1977 - The Dancer

Gary Boyle 
The Dancer

01. Cowshed Shuffle
02. The Dancer
03. Now That We're Alone
04. Lullaby for a Sleepy Dormouse
05. Almond Burfi
06. Pendle Mist
07. Apple Crumble
08. Maiden Voyage

Rod Argent / Keyboards
Gary Boyle / Guitar
Simon Phillips / Drums
Doni Harvey / Bass
Zoe Kronberger / Keyboards
Robin Lumley / Keyboards
Dave McCrae / Keyboards
Maggie Pert / Vocals
Morris Pert / Percussion
Jeff Seopardie / Drums
Steve Shone / Bass

One of British jazz-rock scene's central figure, GARY BOYLE is a well-known guitarist that made his first appearances alongside Hammond wizard BRIAN AUGER in the last days of the TRINITY line-up, namely the excellent (and proggiest) album Befour. After assisting the very strange flolkish act of DOGGERELL BANK, but will also appear in the realm of STOMU YAMASHTA's experimental fusion in the EAST WIND formation, alongside SOFT MACHINE's Hugh Hopper, just to name one.

GARY BOYLE will form his own jazz-rock band ISOTOPE, in which will transit stalwart bassists like Jeff Clyne and (again) Hugh Hopper. The group will last the time of three good studio album, joined by a couple posthumous BBC Tapes releases, but eventually the group folded, party due to an exceeding offer and an over-abundance of talents in that time frame. Indeed Isotope never managed to make enough elbow space to be

So after the folding of ISOTOPE, GARY BOYLE opened in 77 a jazz/fusion solo career with the well-esteemed ''Dancer'' album and its follow-up ''Electric Glide'' and a few more until the early to mid-80s, before more or less disappearing from the recording scene, at least under his own name. He will make a relatively good come back in the first part of the 90s and release irregularly some studio albums, the last dating from 2005.

Sometimes I like to remind myself that I have more patience than a mega-hospital (pun intended!). Another of those highly abused vinyls (this one being a canary yellow pressing!) in my collection and I have been waiting , waiting and waiting for years to see this in CD form, as it possesses a mythical attraction that is quite unexplainable. Of course being an unashamed fan of Isotope certainly helps in all the self-imposed adulation I exert towards this unique solo debut from the Irish guitarist. 'The Dancer', won the 1978 Montreux Jazz/Pop Award, which may mean something to some.
Back in the early 70s there was something extremely attractive when Brits attempted jazz with such luminary giants as the Soft Machine, Caravan, Ian Carr's Nucleus, Brian Auger, Brand X, Colosseum II, National Health, Hatfield and the North etc?. Something about their quirky sound, the mischievous lyrics and of course, that delightful tongue slammed in cheek sense of humor. Toss in some scintillating technical prowess and voila! Hooked for life!

Keyboard whiz Rod Argent, the amazing drummeister Simon Phillips, the fluid Steve Shone on bass , Automatic Man's Doni Harvey , Caravan's Dave McCrae as well as some Brand X members (Lumley, Pert) provide the support crew for Boyle, whose style is in the profound Mahavishnu crenel and unabashedly so. The deluge of notes is enough to send most Malmsteen fans to the showers, a sonic blitzkrieg that is spell-binding. On "Cowshed Shuffle" , little time is wasted to blow your speakers sideways , providing some meteoric performances from Simon (darn is he good!) , with Doni's funky-jazz bass yo-yoing in and out while Rod Argent's bubbly Mini-Moog duels with Boyle's ardent guitar (playing with my words again!) . Thrill seekers will love the shining Steve Shone bass and Jeff Seopardie drum interplay on the title track, another torrid sonic troika between Macrae's stupendous clavinet, Zoe Kronberger's various keys and Boyle's fulminating guitar. "Lullaby For a Sleepy Doormouse" is pure aural velvet, with more sultry fretless bass from Shone and some sparkling acoustic guitar fingering from the mad Irishman while "Almond Burfi" provides the more raucous, electric guitar-led continuation. If you have any doubts that this man can play, well check out his technique, my goodness! "Pendle Mist" has the Harvey/Phillips duo leading the misty charge, Boyle's towering acoustic guitar crisply raffling among the sinuous e-piano musings (Lumley), gradually spiraling into a hypnotic jewel that stands the test of time. "Apple Crumble" is raunch revisted , this time featuring a Dave Macrae performance on e- piano and an ARP synthesizer solo for the ages, while Harvey tortures his four string stick , leering at the mach II drumming of Phillips . What does Gary do? Well, he lays down a perverted axe solo, all speed and seduction. The set ends on my favorite track, "Maiden Voyage ?For Brian Auger", a piece written by no other than Herbie Hancock and has that laid-back confident shimmer that makes this such an audio delight. Playful, intelligent, technically supreme but highly charged in emotional content. When jazz-rock is performed so eloquently, how can one not be inspired?

This was a masterpiece in 1978 and it remains one today, a simply superlative performance that all jazz-prog fusion fans need to hear and witness to believe.

Find it and get it NOW

Isotope - 1994 - Live At The BBC

Live At The BBC

01. Upward Curve
02. Do The Business
03. Retracing My Steps
04. Honky Donkey
05. Bite On This
06. Upward Curve
07. Dancer
08. Cowshed Shuffle
09. Almond Burfi

- Gary Boyle / guitars
- Nigel Morris / drums
- Brian Miller /keyboards
- Jeff Clyne / bass

This compilation is comprised of an Isotope BBC Radio One In Concert and an Old Grey Whistle Test show, plus a Gary Boyle session recorded for John Peel: Tracks 1-4 Radio 1 In Concert 12.10.73

Track 5,6 Old Grey Whistle Test 26.3.74

Tracks 7-9 Gary Boyle Peel Session Recorded 22.8.77 Broadcast 31.8.77

None of these recordings have ever been released before, CD issued in February 1994 by HUX

Isotope - 1975 - Deer End...

Deer End...

01. Mr. M's Picture (4:54)
02. Crunch Cake (3:55)
03. Another Side (4:00)
04. Black Sand (5:45)
05. Pip Dream (6:27)
06. Attila (4:25)
07. Fonebone (4:25)
08. Deep End (8:22)
09. Mr. M's Picture [Remix 2001]* (4:54)
10. Crunch Cake [Remix 2001]* (3:55)
11 .Black Sand [Remix 2001]* (5:55)
12. Deep End [Remix 2001]* (8:18)

* bonus tracks on CD release

Line-up / Musicians
- Gary Boyle / guitars
- Nigel Morris / drums
- Zoe Kronberger / acoustic & electric piano, string synth, clavinet, vocals
- Frank Roberts / acoustic & electric piano, synthesizer
- Dan K. Brown / bass

guest musicians:
- Morris Pert / percussion
- Neville Whitehead / acoustic bass
- Hugh Hopper / bass
- Laurence Scott / keyboards

This is the third and final Isotope installment, not as strong overall as their unique "Illusion" album which thrilled prog mostly due to the presence of the amazing Hugh Hopper from the Soft Machine. There is something inherently charming about Isotope's music, a unique style that does not necessarily leap out at the listener but leaves quite a positive impression. Besides the Soft comparison, there are also some strident similarities to Brand X or its suburban cousin Wilding-Bonus, playing a very British form of jazz-rock, slightly funky, quirky and humorous, proven by the presence of Robin Lumley at the control board.
The sheer technical prowess of Irish master guitarist Gary Boyle (easily among the leaders in the most underrated musician category) rivals the pedigree of such illustrious players as John MacLaughlin or Allan Holdsworth while drummer Nigel Morris is in the same drummer class as other Brit luminaries Jon Hiseman or John Marshall.. Previous keyboardist /dentist Laurie Scott is replaced by the groovier duo of Zoe Kronenberg and Frank Roberts, thus emitting a cooler style to the proceedings. Lots of groovy Fender Rhodes electric piano (a glorious instrument severely lacking in today's scene!) of which I am an unashamed addict, some occasional clavinet and some chirpy synthesizers are strewn throughout the disc to complement the swirling and ultra-busy Boyle fretboard . Some may complain that this music seems outdated by today's muddled standards but may I remind you all that prog (as well as good jazz, Beethoven, Mozart and Bartok!) is essentially timeless while being a symbol of its times. All the tracks are of interest such as the choppy "Pipe Dream", the suave "Black Sand" , the rumbling "Mr.M's Picture", the "Crunch Cake" funk ride, the lovely "Another Side" with loads of Spanish guitar, the Asian-tinged "Attila" , the Hopper penned and played "Fonebone" and the sultry title track, an 8 minute+ sonic ride that enthralls completely . 4 of these tracks have a 2001 remix version that only increases the pleasure. Admittedly this is not for everyone but if you like massive doses of e-piano, fabulous guitar and prolific drumming, this is definitely for you. I adore my 3 Isotope albums, precious additions that simply transcend the prog norm.

Isotope - 1974 - Illusion


01. Illusion (3:54)
02. Rangoon Creeper (6:01)
03. Spanish Sun (7:50)
04. Edorian (2:01)
05. Frog (2:31)
06. Sliding Dogs / Lion Sandwich (5:58)
07. Golden Section (5:15)
08. Marin Country Girl (2:10)
09. Lily Kong (2:32)
10. Temper Tantrum (3:46)

- Gary Boyle / guitars
- Nigel Morris / drums
- Laurence Scott / keyboards
- Hugh Hopper / bass

Isotope's second album is a fairly different beast than its predecessor, since half the group is gone, including the main songwriter, keyboardist Brian Miller. In to replace Jeff Clyne is Hugh Hopper fresh from Soft Machine (Boyle and Hopper had met on Yamashta's East Wind group), while the keys are taken by the relative unknown Lawrence Scott, while Boyle and Morris remain pat. Released still in 74 and again on Gull Record, with a stunning headphones artwork, hitting a bit pretentiously at how much of an earful the album is.
Needless to say that the line-up change totally changes the group's sound, definitely tilting the balance in Boyle's favour, newcoming Scott simply not able to fill Miller's shoes right from the bat. Songwriting-wise, Boyle and Hopper take the lion's share, while Scott gets two tracks in, and not exactly the weakest - there are none in this album.

What strikes with Illusion is the way the album is much more Mahavishnu-esque, most noticeable in Spanish Sun, but in the title track, or in short Boyle's songs. Boyle is obviously enamoured with McL's playing and tries to emulate it, and somehow manages it to his own credit and no ridicule, far from it. Hopper's tracks don't necessarily have the Soft machine edge you'd expect, but they do have that little rockier edge (as do Scott's two tracks) over Boyle's. Generally the album has its own red-hot sound, despite Boyle's MO influence, and Hopper's Sliding Dogs and Golden section are absolute corkers that deserves the album highlight. And just past Boyle's acoustic Marin Country Girl, Hopper's Lily Kong offers a last hurrah for Hugh, while Scott closes the album with the MO-influenced Temper Tantrum.

Family's Poli Palmer's is not exactly top notch though, thus stopping this album to get an even higher rating, but make no mistake, this is Isotope's best album with some margin. After Illusion's recording, the group would tour Western Europe, just as it had before it. Then an Ameruican tour came, some reinforcements (De Souza on percussion) brought in, Scott leaving just before financial problems forced Hopper to leave as well, leaving Morris and Boyle to rebuild once more