Thursday, October 20, 2016

Bobby Keys - 1972 - Bobby Keys

Bobby Keys 
Bobby Keys

01. Steal From A King
02. Smokefoot
03. Bootleg
04. Altar Rock
05. Key West
06. Command Performance
07. Crispy Duck
08. Sand & Foam

Bobby Keys - Tenor Saxophone
Jack Bruce - Bass
Charlie Freeman - Guitar
Jim Gordon - Drums
George Harrison - Guitar
Nicky Hopkins - Keyboards
Bobby Keys - Saxophone
Corky Laing - Drums
Dave Mason - Guitar
Felix Pappalardi - Bass
Jim Price - Horn, Keyboards
Carl Radle - Bass
Ringo Starr - Drums
Klaus Voorman - Bass
Leslie West - Guitar
John Uribe - Guitar
Eric Clapton - Guitar

Bobby Keys' self-titled debut is a bit of an odd beast. He's got one of the most amazing résumés in rock music as a sideman, so it's no surprise that there's quite a lineup on this album. Appearing are George Harrison, Jack Bruce, Ringo Starr, and possibly Eric Clapton, amongst many other famous players (proper credits would have been nice). Horn charts were by Keys' cohort Jim Price (who also played trumpet and keyboards) and the album was produced by Keys, Jim Gordon, and Andy Johns. It sounds great on paper, but the sound is more like backing tracks in search of a song, and only slightly more than a jam session with nice horn charts. It's not bad, it's just a bit disappointing. The liner notes indicate that the album took almost a year and suggest that Keys was not entirely into it. He only played live on one track ("Altar Rock") and it opens and closes as a bit of a proto-smooth jazz snoozer. Keys was also quick to note that the album was not the beginning of a solo career and kind of knocks his own playing. Of course, some people are better sidemen than bandleaders, but this was also a time of notorious partying (recording began after Keys, Price, and Nicky Hopkins wrapped up the Exile on Main St. tour). That said, the album isn't bad, just a bit on the slight side. The horn charts are great and there are some nice solos, particularly on guitar on what was once side two of the album. If you like the sound of the "Apple Jam" LP from All Things Must Pass (which also featured many of the players here), you'll probably like Bobby Keys.

Bobby Whitlock - 1976 - Rock Your Sox Off

Bobby Whitlock 
Rock Your Sox Off

01. Why Does Love Got To Be So Bad 6:38
02. If You Only Knew Me 4:13
03. Sweet Mother's Fun 3:12
04. The Second Time Around 4:59
05. Brand New Song 4:16
06. Bottom Of The Bottle 3:57
07. (It's Been A) Long Long Time 5:37
08. Make It Through The Night 4:59

Bobby Whitlock: organ, piano, rhythm guitar, electric guitar, 12 string acoustic guitar, vocals, writer, arranger
Kenny Tibbetts: bass, arranger
Jerome Thomas: drums, congas
Paul Hornsby: tambourine
Larry Howard: acoustic guitar
Dru Lombar: electric guitar, acoustic guitar, rhythm guitar, guitar, lead guitar, writer, arranger
Jimmy Nalls: lead guitar, electric guitar, rhythm guitar, Dobro
Les Dudek: electric guitar
Rick Hirsch: slide guitar, arranger
Jimmy Hall: alto saxophone
Skip Lane: baritone saxophone
Leo LaBranche: trumpet
Chuck Leavell: piano

Robert Stanley “Bobby” Whitlock (born March 18, 1948 in Memphis, Tennessee) is an American singer, songwriter and musician. He is best known for being a member of blues-rock band Derek and the Dominos with Eric Clapton in 1970–71. Whitlock’s musical career began with Memphis soul acts such as Sam & Dave and Booker T. & the MG’s before he joined Delaney & Bonnie and Friends in 1968. His association with Delaney & Bonnie bandmate Clapton led to Whitlock participating in sessions for George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass triple album (1970), in London, and the formation of Derek and the Dominos that year. On the band’s sole studio album, the critically acclaimed Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (1970), Whitlock wrote or co-wrote six of the album’s fourteen tracks, including “Tell the Truth”, “Anyday” and “Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad?”

Whitlock recorded four solo albums during the 1970s, among them Bobby Whitlock and Raw Velvet (both 1972), and contributed to albums by Clapton, John Lennon, Dr John and the Rolling Stones. He then retired from music until releasing It’s About Time in 1999. Following his return, Whitlock has recorded and performed with wife CoCo Carmel and, since 2006, with other musicians based in Austin, Texas. Among his and Carmel’s projects, the well-received Other Assorted Love Songs, Live from Whitney Chapel (2003) contains acoustic interpretations of songs originally recorded by Derek and the Dominos.

In an article for Mojo magazine in May 2011, music journalist Phil Sutcliffe described Bobby Whitlock as “born in Memphis, learned Hammond organ peering over Booker T’s shoulder at Stax studios”. While still a teenager, Whitlock befriended acts associated with Stax Records, including Albert King, Sam & Dave, the Staples Singers and Booker T. & the MG’s, and was the first white artist signed to the label. His first contribution to a recording was in 1967, when he supplied handclaps on Sam & Dave’s single “I Thank You”.

Between 1965 and 1968, Whitlock performed regularly in the Memphis area, playing organ with local soul band the Short Cuts before forming the Counts. In his 2010 autobiography, Whitlock writes of this period in Memphis: “It was a great time and town for music then, especially soul music. It was real rhythm and blues. Albert King R&B, that’s what I’m talking about. It was loose and all about music everywhere that you turned.” With established Stax musicians such as Steve Cropper as his mentor, and Donald “Duck” Dunn and Don Nix preparing to produce a pop album by him on a Stax subsidiary label, Whitlock instead left Memphis after meeting husband-and-wife team Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett. Whitlock recalls that he was performing at a club with the Counts when the Bramletts invited him to join a soul-revue band they were forming in Los Angeles.

Whitlock contributed on keyboards and vocals to two Delaney & Bonnie albums in 1969, Home and Accept No Substitute. Their touring band, known as Delaney & Bonnie and Friends, included musicians he would continue to work with on projects through to the early 1970s: bassist Carl Radle; drummers Jim Keltner and Jim Gordon; and a horn section comprising Bobby Keys and Jim Price. Another member was Eric Clapton, who joined the Friends line-up as lead guitarist midway through a US tour in July–August 1969. On this tour, Delaney & Bonnie were supporting Clapton’s short-lived supergroup with Steve Winwood, Blind Faith. Clapton later described Whitlock as “without doubt the most energetic sideman I had ever seen”. Along with all the other members of Delaney & Bonnie, Whitlock flew to England in November 1969 to prepare for a much-publicized European tour, financed by Clapton.

In his autobiography, Whitlock states that their arrival in London changed the dynamics within the band, as the Bramletts now considered themselves “big stars” and the ones solely responsible for the new-found success. Once in London, Whitlock participated in a session for US soul singer Doris Troy’s solo album on the Beatles’ Apple record label. The album, Doris Troy (1970), was co-produced by George Harrison, who, having championed Delaney & Bonnie in the British press, accepted Clapton’s invitation to join the tour. Through Harrison, Whitlock and the band then played at John Lennon’s “Peace for Christmas” concert, held at the Lyceum Ballroom in London on December 15, 1969.

In early 1970, Delaney & Bonnie and Friends backed Clapton on his debut solo album, Eric Clapton, and toured America with the English guitarist. Arguments over money with the Bramletts then led to the other Friends quitting the band and joining Leon Russell on Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour. Whitlock continued to work with Delaney & Bonnie until April, following sessions for their To Bonnie from Delaney album (1970). On Cropper’s advice, he then returned to England to stay with Clapton at his Surrey home, Hurtwood Edge.

Seeking to start a new band, Whitlock and Clapton reunited with Radle and Gordon at a session for P.P. Arnold, before going on to back Harrison on his 1970 triple album All Things Must Pass. Whitlock has described the latter sessions as “spectacular in every way”. Although individual contributions remain hard to ascertain, due to the large cast of musicians on the Phil Spector-produced recording, Harrison biographer Simon Leng identifies Whitlock as one of two “core keyboard players” on All Things Must Pass. Having traditionally favored Hammond organ as his keyboard instrument, Whitlock played piano for the first time on a studio recording during the session for Harrison’s “Beware of Darkness”.

In June 1970, early in the All Things Must Pass sessions, Clapton, Whitlock, Radle and Gordon formed the blues-rock band Derek and the Dominos. Their first release was a US-only single, “Tell the Truth”, produced by Spector and written primarily by Whitlock. In August, once their work on Harrison’s album was complete, Derek and the Dominos toured the UK, playing to small venues. That summer, Whitlock and his bandmates also participated in London sessions for Dr John’s album The Sun, Moon & Herbs (1971).

Unhappy with Spector’s treatment of their sound, the band went to Criteria Studios in Miami to work with producer Tom Dowd, on what became a double album – Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (1970). As well as a remake of “Tell the Truth”, the album included five other songs written or co-written by Whitlock, including “Anyday”, “Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad?”, “Keep on Growing” and “Thorn Tree in the Garden”. In addition, Whitlock helped Clapton finish “Bell Bottom Blues”, although he was not credited as a co-writer on that song. “Keep on Growing” and “Thorn Tree in the Garden” featured Whitlock on lead vocals, while on other tracks he and Clapton shared the singing in a style reminiscent of Sam & Dave.

After the recording [of Layla], we were on the road, and we scored an enormous amount of drugs to take with us. That was the beginning of the end… [Still], on our worst night we were the best band on the planet. It was impossible for us to play badly.

Adding to the power of the Dominos’ music, Clapton’s inspiration for the songs on Layla was his unrequited love for Pattie Boyd, Harrison’s wife. Whitlock began a relationship with Boyd’s sister Paula at this time, and was therefore, as he has described it, “in the inner circle … in the middle of it with all of them”. He comments on a musical dialogue between Harrison and Clapton in their songs: “There were subliminal messages, going back and forth, between two good friends as a way of healing and setting each other free … I have always known that the better part of those songs [on All Things Must Pass] were directed to Eric, just like Eric’s were to George on the Layla record.”

Between October and December 1970, Derek and the Dominos toured the United States in support of Layla, but the album made little commercial impact on release, failing to chart in the UK. Clapton’s despondency at being rejected by Boyd, the band’s drug consumption, and personal conflicts between the members, particularly with Gordon, all contributed to the break-up of the Dominos in May 1971.

Whitlock recorded his debut solo album, Bobby Whitlock (1972), at London’s Olympic Studios in 1971, with Andy Johns as his co-producer. The recording took place before the abortive sessions for the Dominos’ second studio album; a press release for the 2013 reissue of Bobby Whitlock gives the recording date as starting in March 1971, while Dominos biographer Jan Reid writes of sessions happening in January that year. Whitlock played acoustic or electric rhythm guitar on much of the album, which also included musical contributions from all the Dominos (often recorded separately), the Bramletts, Harrison, Keys, Price and Keltner. Among its tracks, “Where There’s a Will” was a Whitlock–Bonnie Bramlett collaboration that had featured in Delaney & Bonnie’s live shows in 1969–70, and “A Day Without Jesus” was co-written by Whitlock and Don Nix. The record peaked at number 140 on the US Billboard 200 chart, the same magazine praising it as “a persuasively powerful first album”.

Whitlock’s second solo album, also on ABC-Dunhill Records, was Raw Velvet, released in November 1972. It included appearances by Clapton and Gordon, on “Hello L.A., Bye Bye Birmingham”, although the majority of the album, including another remake of “Tell the Truth”, featured new associates such as guitarist Rick Vito and ex-Van der Graaf Generator bassist Keith Ellis. The album was co-produced by Jimmy Miller, whose connection with the Rolling Stones led to Whitlock making an uncredited contribution to the band’s Exile on Main St. double album (1972). By this point, Layla’s title track had become a hit song, following its release as a single to promote the History of Eric Clapton compilation (1972), leading to a critical reappraisal of Derek and the Dominos and belated commercial success. A 1970-recorded live album, In Concert, was similarly well-received when issued in January 1973. Raw Velvet peaked at number 190 on the Billboard 200, however, and it was Whitlock’s last album to place on the chart. Whitlock tried in vain to get Clapton to come out and play; realizing it was not going to happen, after two years of waiting, he went back to the United States.

"You know I’m indirectly responsible for disco? [Clapton’s manager] Robert Stigwood took the Dominos’ money, used it to create RSO Records and record the Bee Gees. My deepest apologies to the entire music world."
Bobby Whitlock, December 2006

Featuring many of the same musicians as his previous, One Of A Kind, Rock Your Sox Off mines similar sonic landscapes. The album is the expected mix of bluesy rockers and gritty soul, elevated above the ordinary by Whitlock's heartfelt vocals. Sweet Mother's Fun adds a little diversity, with mexican trumpets giving it a cantina blues sound. Also of note is a song he previously did with Eric Clapton's Derek and the Dominoes, Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad, here slower and more groove-oriented. In addition, the album features the top-notch production of Paul Hornsby and the gutsy guitar of relative unknown Jimmy Nalls.

Bobby Whitlock - 1975 - One Of A Kind

Bobby Whitlock 
One Of A Kind

01. Movin' On 5:05
02. You Still On My Mind 3:06
03. Rocky Mountain Blues 2:55
04. Be Honest With Yourself 4:04
05. Goin' To California 3:47
06. Free And Easy (Way Of Lovin' You) 4:30
07. The Right Road Back Home 3:45
08. You Don't Have To Be Alone 5:45
09. Have You Ever Felt Like Leavin' 3:25
10. We Made It To The Moon 3:35

Bass Guitar – Kenny Tibbetts
Drums – Rick Eckstein
Electric Guitar, Banjo – T.J. Tindall

Guest, Congas – Jaimoe (tracks: A1, B1)
Guest, Piano – Chuck Leavell (tracks: A3, B2, B5)
Guest, Slide Guitar – Richard Betts* (tracks: B3), Dru Lombar (tracks: A3)
Guest, Tambourine – Johnny Sandlin (tracks: A5, B4)

Lead Vocals, Guitar [Leslie Guitar], Organ, Piano, Acoustic Guitar, Chimes, Backing Vocals – Bobby Whitlock

By the time of One Of A Kind, Bobby Whitlock had signed to southern-rock stalwart Capricorn Records. As a result, the album features some notable label-mate guests including Johnny Sandlin and members of the Allman Brothers. One of the highlights is Dickey Betts' tasteful and haunting slide on You Don't Have To Be Alone. Other notable tracks include Free And Easy (Way Of Lovin' You) which recalls Never Ending Song Of Love from Whitlock's days with Delaney & Bonnie and is a light and airy mini-masterpiece. Movin' On is one of the best songs from his entire career, featuring a driving rhythm section and amazingly tight band interplay. As usual, Whitlock injects everything he's got into his vocals, which range from a bluesy growl to a whisper.

Bobby Whitlock - 1972 - Raw Velvet

Bobby Whitlock
Raw Velvet

01. Tell The Truth 3:50
02. Bustin' My Ass 3:35
03. Write You A Letter 2:28
04. Ease Your Pain 3:04
05. If You Ever 3:19
06. Hello L.A.,Bye Bye Birmingham 3:52
07. You Came Along 3:04
08. Think About It 3:09
09. Satisfied 3:00
10. Dearest I Wonder 3:50
11. Start All Over 3:25

Bass – Keith Ellis (tracks: A1 to A5, B1 to B5)
Drums – Don Poncher (tracks: A1 to A5, B1 to B5)
Lead Guitar – Rick Vito (tracks: A1 to A5, B1 to B5)
Rhythm Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals – Bobby Whitlock

Co-produced with Jimmy Miller, "Raw Velvet" was Bobby Whitlock's second studio album in less than a year.  Musically the album was divided into a side of rockers ("raw") and a side of ballads ("velvet"), To my ears the collection wasn't a major departure for Whitlock, though this time around there were fewer country-blues tunes; replaced by an emphasis on Derek & the Dominos/Allman Brothers-styled ballads and rockers - notably a cover of 'Tell the Truth'.  The Allman Brothers influences were clearly heard throughout the set's slide guitar moves which were provided by Eric Clapton and Rick Vito.  The real star of the show remained Whitlock's amazing blue-eyed soul howl of a voice.   Exemplified by tracks like 'Write You a Letter', 'Hello L.A., Bye Bye Birmingham', and 'Dearest I Wonder', Whitlock seemingly effortless unleashed the sense of personal pain and anguish that Delaney Bramlett and Eric Clapton could only dream about.   Was it Whitlock's best album ?  Nope.  That said, it's one of those album's with enough charm and surprises to make its way on to my turntable a couple of times a year.

"Raw Velvet" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) Tell the Truth   (Eric Clapton - Bobby Whitlock) - 3:50
At least to my ears 'Tell the Truth' was one of the highlights on the Derek and The Dominos LP.  Whitlock apparently felt the same way, opening his sophomore album with a rousing cover of the tune.  complete with a touch of Elvis snarl in his delivery, this was one of the album highlights.   Over the years folks have speculated about who played lead guitar on the tune.  Familiar possibilities include Duane Allman, Eric Clapton, and George Harrison.  Doesn't really matter who it was since Whitlock turned in a blazing remake.  
2.) Bustin' My Ass   (Bobby Whitlock) - 3:55
Enthusiasitic Bonnie and Delaney-styled country-tinged rocker (emphasis on rocker). Killer slide guitar solo and a nice example of what a great voice Whitlock had.
3.) Write You a Letter  (Bobby Whitlock) - 2:28
'Write You a Letter' has always reminded me of Bon Scott and company trying to record a true boogie rock tune.  Wonder what Whitlock had to do to get his voice to get that unique snarl ...  The track featured another killer lead guitar.
4.) Ease Your Pain   (Hoyt Axton) -3:04
The first disappointment, Whitlock's cover of Hoyt Axton's 'Ease Your Pain' was given an irritating old-time Gospel/country feel.  Complete with massive backing chorus, the feeling was about as forced as a chewing gum commercial.  No idea why Dunhill tapped it for release as a promotional single.  
5.) If You Ever  (Bobby Whitlock) - 3:19
Hum, kind of a rockabilly tune with some nice Beatle-esque chords hidden in the background.  
6.) Hello L.A., Bye Bye Birmingham   (Delaney Bramlett - Mac Davis) - 3:52
Literally blanketed in squealing fuzz and slide guitar, 'Hello L.A., Bye Bye Biimingham' was the album's heaviest tune; sounding like it would have been right at home on the Derek and the Dominos LP.   With Whitlock sounding like he was going to lose a lung, the song also had one of the album's most commercial edges.   Dunhill released the song as a promo single.   s

(side 2)
1.) You Came Along  (Bobby Whitlock) - 3:04
One of Whitlock's prettiest songs - the piano powered 'You Came Along' had a very Derek & the Dominos vibe on this one.
2.) Think About It  (Bobby Whitlock) - 3:09
Another modest disappointment, 'Think About It' started out sounding a bit MOR-ish, before picking up mid-song steam.
3.) Satisfied  (Bobby Whitlock) - 3:00
Pretty acoustic guitar powered mid-tempo number.  Always liked Whitlock's plantaitive vocals on this one.
4.) Dearest I Wonder  (Bobby Whitlock - Paula Boyd) - 3:50
Showcasing some stunning slide guitar and Don Pncher's martial drums, 'Dearest I Wonder" was easily the album's standout performances.  Perhaps worth the price of the album on its own ....   Co-written with then girlfriend Paula Boyd (Patti Boyd's sister), for year's folks speculated Duane Allman played on this track (easy to see why),.  Others guessed it was Eric Clapton trying to sound like Duane.   Finally, in his autobiography "A Rock 'n' Roll Autobiography" Whitlock credited Rick Vito with the stunning slide performance - guess Vito was trying to channel his inner Duane.
5.) Start All Over  (Bobby Whitlock) - 3:25
The highlight of the pretty closing ballad 'Start All Over' came in the form of Rick Vito's chiming electric guitar.  It's always reminded me a bit of something from George Harrison's catalog.

As far as I know, the first single was only released in promo format:

- 1972's 'Ease Your Pain' b/w 'Ease Your Pain'  (Dunhill catalog number D-4318)
- 1972's 'Hello L.A., Bye Bye Birmingham' b/w 'Start All Over'  (Dunhill catalog number D-4326)

With little promotional support the album still managed to hit # 190 on the US album charts.

For anyone interested, Whitlock has a website at:

Bobby Whitlock - 1972 - Bobby Whitlock

Bobby Whitlock
Bobby Whitlock

01. Where There's A Will There's A Way 3:43
02. Song For Paula 4:17
03. A Game Called Life 4:17
04. Country Life 2:58
05. A Day Without Jesus 3:22
06. Back In My Life Again 3:30
07. The Scenery Has Slowly Changed 3:50
08. I'd Rather Live "The Straight Life" 2:30
09. The Dreams Of A Hobo 3:17
10. Back Home In England 2:50

Bobby Whitlock: vocals, acoustic guitar, 12-string guitar, keyboards, producer
Eric Clapton: guitar
George Harrison: guitar
Jerry McGee: guitar
Klaus Voormann: bass
Carl Radle: bass
Jim Gordon: drums, tabla
Jim Keltner: drums
Chris Wood: flute
Jim Price: trumpet, trombone
Bobby Keys:saxophone
Delaney Bramlett: guitar, backup vocals, producer
Bonnie Bramlett: backup vocals
The L.A. Symphony Orchestra

Whitlock’s story is a remarkable one. Born to a hardscrabble existence, raised in abject poverty, abused by his preacher father and was sent out to pick cotton in the fields. Moving from one railroad town to another, Whitlock was quite literally from the wrong side of the tracks.

Yet thanks to his singing and piano playing, music was Whitlock’s escape. Winding up in Memphis, Whitlock hooked up with Stax Records, who signed him as the first white artist to their new pop label HIP. But it was soul music, not pop, that was in Whitlock’s heart – and his break came when Delaney & Bonnie asked him to join their band, The Friends.

Following Delaney & Bonnie from Stax to Elektra Records, Whitlock found his life starting to intertwine with ‘60s rock royalty. Delaney & Bonnie took him on tour with Blind Faith, where Eric Clapton was impressed with Whitlock’s playing and the camaraderie he saw in The Friends. Soon, Whitlock joined Clapton, Jim Gordon and Carl Radle in Derek & The Dominos, the crack unit that backed George Harrison on much of the seminal All Things Must Pass and recorded the classic rock album Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs.

During the recording of those albums, Whitlock tentatively made his first steps as a solo artist. Though drugs were already beginning to tear Derek & The Dominoes apart, Whitlock was able to call on some high profile friends (and “Friends”) to play on his album, including Clapton, Harrison, session bassist Klaus Voorman (John Lennon, Carly Simon, et al), drummer Jim Gordon, Chris Wood (of Traffic) and others. “I really loved my first record and everything that was behind it,” says Whitlock now. “And for the love that was brought to the room by everyone each time we recorded. I know that you can hear it in Eric’s solo on "The Scenery Has Slowly Changed.”

When Bobby presented his album to Atlantic Records they rejected it, citing a different vision for his debut record. So Bobby bought himself out of his contract.

Pat Thomas, the reissue producer of this CD, told Bobby Whitlock during their first conversation about reissuing these recordings: "Your first two solo albums are the missing link for all this seminal music that has been on CD for years; Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, All Things Must Pass, Mad Dogs and Englishmen, Dave Mason’s Alone Together, and Delaney & Bonnie and Friends ’On Tour’ with Eric Clapton.”

Bobby paused for a moment, and said, “I never thought about it like that, but you’re absolutely right.”

Kush - 1975 - Nah,Tellus Wh't Kush Means Yer Great Sausage

Nah,Tellus Wh't Kush Means Yer Great Sausage

01. Come Down
02. I'm Your Football
03. Out Of My Tree
04. What Do Mountains Say
05. Dream On (Parts I, II, And III)
06. Mr. Plod

Bonus Tracks:
07. I'm Your Football
08. Banana Song
09. Whatever Happened To The Good Old Days
10. Hey Sam
11. Temptation's 'Bout To Get Me
12. Where Will I Be? (Tomorrow)
13. The Clapometer
14. Soul Vaccination
15. All Right In The City
16. MacArthur Park
17. It's Your Move

Bass, Vocals – Clive Harrison
Drums – Nick Lister
Guitar – Dave Herzog
Organ, Piano, Clavinet – Steve Ball
Saxophone, Flute, Clarinet, Violin – Arthur Robinson (2)
Vocals – Geoff Duff

Kush's second album, enigmatically tilted  Nah, Tellus Wh't Kush Means Yer Great Sausage is also a little bit of an enigma itself. Without going into too much detail (because I don't understand it myself anyway), the "sausage" is Geoff Duff himself, "Super Sausage" being an alter ego of his on which he based costumes, stage designs and even planned a book and concept album about two groups of warring sausages or some such. And of course no one really knows what "Kush" means.

Anyway, I probably like the follow up less than the debut because the band toned up the camp, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but unfortunately it appears to be at the expense of the prog which was the highlight of the debut. The band's personnel changed significantly between albums with only two of the original members making it to the second album. With a number of line-up changes, the band eventually went from an eight-piece to a six-piece with the brass section suffering the most.

Most of the tracks end up pretty flat ('Come Down', 'Out of My Tree', 'What Do Mountains Say') or downright annoying ('I'm You Football'). 'I'm Your Football' especially was fairly notorious for its double entendre lyrics, which are all "obvious" and quite tame by today's standards, but were very controversial at the time of the song's release. But to me it's not clever or funny. The music itself is generic big band vaudeville, serving no purpose but to be a platform for the "playful" lyrics.

Without the prog, the majority of tracks end up just being standard jazz or jazz rock. So a track like 'Easy Street' from the debut is representative of most of the tracks on the first side such as 'Come Down' and 'Out of My Tree', even if 'Come Down' is a fair bit more funkier. I don't mind 'What Do Mountains Say' too much although it's a real strange track with all sorts of changes of direction in its four-minute running time – from tropical reggae to jazz to funky progressive instrumental breaks and back again before suddenly finishing.

'Dream On' is a bit better. Subtitled as being in three parts to clearly emphasise its epic nature, this track is primarily an atmospheric, somewhat emotional, epic ballad with a number of jazzy instrumental breaks. Pretty good all around. The closing track 'Mr. Plod', with its frantic keyboards and bass, is musically probably the best thing here. It's got a nice catchy main theme and some pretty neat instrumental breaks, but it's always annoyed me lyrically, because it ain't that clever, right down to the ending "oink, oink, oink oooiiiinnnkk!" to finish the album.

Unfortunately, with all the personnel changes and numerous stylistic and commercial issues, the band broke up shortly after the release of this album and never got a chance to "right the wrongs" of the album. Based on the liner notes in the Aztec release, Geoff Duff openly admits all the weaknesses of the album. To be honest it's a not a terrible album or anything, it's just a whole lot weaker than it might have been and a disappointment compared to the debut.

Kush - 1974 - Presents Snow White...And The Eight Straights

Presents Snow White...And The Eight Straights

01. Wait Overture
02. Easy Street
03. All Right In The City
04. MacArthur Park
05. Wait
06. Satanic Diety
07. Christopher John
08. Klue

Singles - 1973
09. Peter Gunn
10. The Sky Is Falling
11. Can't You Hear Me Calling
12. Wait
Live In The Studio - 1973
13. Introduction
14. Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?
15. Beginnings
16. Interview With Jeff Duff

Geoff Duff — lead vocals, percussion
David Herzog — guitar
Rob Matthews — bass
John Ellis — alto saxophone, baritone saxophone
Bill Harrower — tenor saxophone, flute
Steve Ball — keyboards
John Santos — trumpet
Ian Hellings — trumpet
Nick Lister — drums
The Cookies — backing vocals (05)
Ron Anderson — flute (07)sax (9, 10)
Howard Gable — producer

Graeme McDonald Drums (tracks: 9, 10)
Roger Pell Guitar (tracks: 9, 10)
Ian Mason Keyboards Vocals (tracks: 9 to 12)
Colin Chapman: Trumpet (track 9 to 15)
John Hughes: Trumpet (track 11 to 15)

There are so many styles on this album that it is hard to classify. I guess the defining sound of Kush would be lead singer Jeff Duff's powerful, gruff voice (reminds me a little if Ian Dury), and funky horn section ala Chicago (they covered "Does anybody really know..." on this album, BTW).

However, the band also extends itself into full-blown progressive rock in songs like "Christopher John Suite" (which reminds me of something King Crimson or Yes might have done at that period). Check out the lush mellotrons and flutes! The fantastic "Satanic Deity" has flavours of Blue Oyster Cult or even Herbie Hancock, with a great extended middle section best described as progressive funk.

Contrast this with a song like "Easy Street" which is 12-bar rock song. I also love "Alright in the City" - a song that could be home on a Stevie Wonder or Earth Wind and Fire album, with it's densely complex horns making a cutting interplay with Duff's voice. And yes, it does have a cover of Mcarthur Park - done pretty straight up. I find this song listenable but unessential.

Dispite their obvious influences, Kush still manages to carve out a unique voice, and write energetic music very stong on melody and harmony. This band won't appeal to everyone, but fans of early 70's funk and progressive will find much to enjoy. The 2007 remaster features georgous, clear sound and does justice to a long out-of-print minor Australian classic.

It may appeal to fans with tastes as diverse Chicago, Steely Dan, Yes, early 70's King Crimson, and 70's funk and fusion.

Keep - 1982 - Keep II (Rock'n Rocked Rock)

Keep II (Rock'n Rocked Rock)

01. Rock'n Rocked Rock 9:43
02. Moonbeam 9:26
03. Modja 6:00
04. Aristocrat Bachelor 7:05
05. Ballad 5:12

Drums – Hideo Yamaki
Electric Bass – Yasuo Tomikura
Electric Guitar – Akira Wada
Keyboards – Jun Fukamachi

Despite the subtitle "Rock'n Rocked Rock", Keep's second album is definitely a fusion affair, similar to their contemporaries like Crosswind, Prism, and Casiopea. But the separator here is the ferocity of the instrumental work - recalling edgier outfits of the early 70s like Mahavishnu Orchestra. A marked improvement on Keep's own lightweight fusion debut. 'Aristocrat Bachelor' is the definite highlight here, and is closer to heavy progressive rock than jazz.

Keep - 1981 - DG-581


01. Owl Flight 7:13
02. Pan Neo 7:53
03. Never Ending Sad 6:57
04. Dance Of Paranoia Opus 3 4:10
05. Sonatine 14:57

Drums – Hideo Yamaki
Electric Bass – Yasuo Tomikura
Electric Guitar – Akira Wada
Keyboards – Jun Fukamachi

Early-80's Japanese band, fronted by two important figures of the Fusion scene of the country, keyboard wizard Jun Fukamachi and skillful guitarist Akira Wada, founding member of the Jazz/Fusion act Prism.Bass duties were delivered by Yasuo Tomikura, while behind the drum kit was  Hideo Yamaki.They recorded their debut album ''DG 581'' for the Jazz-oriented label Trio, a work released in 1981.

Entering the 80's you should expect from any Jazz Rock-oriented band a bit of a slick sound compared to the 70's and Keep are no exception.Obviously influenced by acts such as WEATHER REPORT, RETURN TO FOREVER with a bit of BILL BRUFORD thrown in, they offered an energetic Jazz/Fusion with excellent chaging climates, impressive alternations between dense solos and structured, more progressive themes, while the technical level of the band remains constantly high, even if the production's quality is rather thin.The album contains five, mostly long tracks with fiery guitar work, dominant piano lines and interesting keyboards, only one of them, ''Never Ending Sad'' contains vocals delivered by female singer Miki Sekikawa, propably the most commercial cut of the album with a very mediocre chorus, but even so this one contains evident symphonic and Neo-Classical inspirations in some of the piano and guitar instrumental passages.The rest of the album is solid Prog/Jazz/Fusion with series of bombastic breaks, highlighted by the very good, 15-min. instrumental journey of ''Sonatine'', where the jazzy side of FOCUS meet the grandiose textures of Classical-influenced piano lines and the rich, convincing face of Classic Japanese Fusion, as melody meets virtuosity.Lots of nice variations, both fast and more down-to-earth tempos and clever changes between piano and synth explorations result a very solid and at moments masterful piece.

Not very consistent, but definitely among the goodies of early-80's regarding Japanese music.Well-crafted and dynamic Prog/Fusion, a decent acquirement for all fans of the style.Recommended.