Thursday, December 15, 2016

Karel Appel - 1963 - Musique Barbare

Karel Appel
Musique Barbare

01. Paysage Electronique 11 :40
02. Poème Barbare 03 :30
03. Le Cavalier Blanc 12 :45

Liner Notes – Jan Vrijman
Photography By – Ed van der Elsken
Written-By – Karel Appel

Thick gatefold cover and 30-page illustrated book attached inside the gatefold cover, some copies came with an original painting by the artist

In 1963, Dutch abstract expressionist painter Karel Appel (1921-2006), who cofounded the avant-garde Cobra movement in 1948, booked time in the Instituut voor Sonologie in the Netherlands to compose music for a documentary that cinematographer Jan Vrijman was making on Appel’s work. Originally released by Philips, this masterpiece of musique concrète is a real jewel for any record collector. Made in collaboration with Insituut member Frits Weiland, Musique Barbare is a fantastic mix of electric organ fumblings, full-on riots of distorted kettle drum, and assorted percussion-room filigrees, assembled into an extremely edit-heavy suite with significant tape- speed manipulation.

Karel Appel performs music with the Institute of Sonology on this album, though his main profession was as an avant-garde painter. Perhaps, due to the extremely abstract nature of this music, it is more apt to analyse it in the way an abstract expressionist painting would be observed, such as one by Jackson Pollock. Both Pollock's drip paintings and Musique Barbare achieve significant freedom from the traditions of their respective media; Appel performs with no rhythm (at least, no sustained rhythm), no melody, and no structure. Both artists remove the obligation to represent things of the real world, and instead focus entirely on the form of their works. So, what are the aspects and methods of form that are explored in Musique Barbare?
The first piece, Paysage Electronique, gives equality to every degree in its entire range of dynamics. Often, loud passages of noise will retreat into moments of silence, sometimes instantly and sometimes through diminuendo. It also provides a balance between textures (thick and thin) and pitches. The use of the piano isn't too dissimilar to some free jazz, and expressions of high-pitched notes are balanced out with not only the percussive sounds in the piece but the rumbling of the lower-pitched noise sections.
What follows is Poème Barbare, which appears to experiment with layering moreso than the first piece. An artist's mantra, "I do not paint, I hit" is repeated, increasing in its layering while irregular percussion lines play beneath, and the words become more alien from the original language. This allows the speech to follow the same route of abstraction that music as a whole takes on the record; the words lose their meaning when they can no longer be clearly heard, and instead become anarchic screams that retain a degree of humanity.
The final track, Le Cavalier Blanc, begins with a forgettable percussive solo which is followed by a synthesised passage of music quite different to any other movement on the album. It again works as a study of layering as atonal chords and skittish melodies overlap one another creating different timbres of dissonance. The electronic music diminishes for a moment of spoken word, and then enters a movement which combines low frequencies with thick groupings of high pitches. When the musicians play melodies or chords in this piece, each particular range of pitches is paired with corresponding characteristics: lower notes are usually slower and less layered, higher notes are very rapid and randomly arranged in dense groups, drawing parallels to the sound of the percussion.
The main difference between Musique Barbare (or any music, in fact) and an expressionist painting (or any painting, in fact) is that a piece of music is temporal; moments of composition are heard one after the other. In a painting, or any medium of static visual art, everything can be witnessed at once. Karel Appel, a painter himself, responds to this by combining sounds with common "behaviours", and with other sounds, to allow each moment of time to have a great number aspects to be heard at once (pitch, texture, dissonance, etc), in just the same way many features can be picked out from a painting, all at once.

Mushroom - 1978 - Freedom You're A Woman

Freedom You're A Woman

01. Rock N' Roll Man
02. Lose Control
03. Gulf Of Mexico
04. Comin' For You
05. Juicy Mama
06. Sometimes
07. We Were Lovers
08. Freedom You're A Woman

Bass – Adam Calaci
Drums, Percussion – Joe Tomek
Guitar, Vocals – Frank Annunziata
Guitar, Vocals - Mike Falcone

Based in Brooklyn, Mushroom featured the talents of singer/guitarists Frank Annunziata and Mike Falcone, bassist Michael Calaci, and drummer Joe Tomek.  The band apparently managed to attract a local audience playing throughout the New York City club circuit and in 1978 they released a self-financed album.  Co-produced by the band and Nick Schiralli (who co-wrote most of the material), "Freedom You're a Woman" was an odd offering.  Largely penned by producer Schrialli and Annunziata, the collection actually sounded like it was recorded by two different bands.  At one end of the spectrum, tracks like the lead off  'Rock n' Roll Man', 'Comin' for You', and the Falcone-penned 'Gulf of Mexico' offered up gritty bar band rockers (the latter with some nice Allman Brothers-styled twin lead guitar). Competent, though nothing you hadn't heard before - they probably sounded a whole lot better after a couple of beers.  At the other end of the spectrum, 'Lose Control', the ballad 'Sometimes' , and 'We Were Lovers' offered up radio-ready AOR numbers that would have sounded right at home along with the likes of Southern California acts like Jay Ferguson, Journey, or Pablo Cruise.  Better than most small label projects, but most folks can probably live without it ...

The group's career seems to have come to an end in one of the odder stories I've come across.  The group was running a sound check  for an evening performance at the Mercer Arts Center located in Broadway Central Hotel when they were told to stop since the resulting vibrations were generating massive cracks throughout the structure.  The band evacuated the building, only to see it collapse, killing several people and destroying all of their equipment and  their panel truck.

Does it sound familiar? That means you say the TV series Vinyl!

Rock Group Rolls Out of Hotel Just In Time
By: Alan Caminiti

Musical vibrations from a Park Slope rock group called Mushroom may have contributed to the collapse of the 119 year old Broadway Central Hotel last Friday night, according to group members.

Mushroom, composed of Nick Schiralli, manager, 196 22nd St.; Joe Tomeck, 193 22nd St.; Tom Charboneau, 231 14th St.; Max D'Auria, 229 14th St. and three others, was preparing for its evening performace at the Mercer Arts Center, located in the hotel complex, when the collapse occurred.

"We were running a sound check of our system when we were told that it would be best if we stopped, since the vibrations were causing cracks to widen in the ceiling and walls of a nearby room," said Schiralli. "We stopped and cleared off the stage and were waiting around for a key to lock up when the whole place started to cave in.

"We went back in and tried to save our equipment, but debris was falling in huge chunks by that time, so we gave up and all seven of us tried to get out the same door at once," he said.

Group members said they had been alarmed earlier by creaking noises in their dressing room, but were told that building officials were aware of the noises. They were also instructed not to enter the next room because it was "being repaired." When they looked inside they said they saw the ceiling cracking and one of the main building arches showing.

Their dressing room was part of the 75 foot section of the building that crashed to the street in rubble, killing at least two persons and injuring 19 others, including three policemen and firemen.

"When the building first started to go," said Frank Annunziata, another band member and former Bay Ridge resident, "it just sounded like a subway was going by. Each time one passed we would feel the vibrations, so no one could really tell the difference. But then all of a sudden a water main burst and some guy came in screaming that the building was falling...

According to Schiralli, the broken water main would have made escape impossible for anyone remaining in the group's dressing room.

"It's a good thing we did the sound check when we did," said Annunziata. "If we hadn't, the vibrations from the evening performance would have definitely caused the building to fall, only then there would have been hundreds of people in attendance."

The group was to have performed in the "Blue Room" of the Center. The stage there was destroyed and the room was extensively damaged during the collapse.

"When we finally got outside after the initial cave-in, we saw that our panel truck was in danger since it was parked on Broadway in front of the Hotel," said Annunziata. "We started to run towards it when another portion of the hotel collapsed, hurling giant slabs of brick and cement on it."

Pictures of the group's demolished truck appeared in New York newspapers following the disaster.

In addition to the truck, Mushroom felt the impact of the cave-in by losing approximately $10,000 in uninsured equipment. "This puts us out of business," said Schiralli. "We have to cancel bookings."

But Mushroom members say they are simply glad to be alive and can't really complain about the outcome of the whole incident.

Bobby Lance - 1972 - Rollin' Man

Bobby Lance 
Rollin' Man

01. Bar Room Sally 4:22
02. Hot Wood And Coal 8:35
03. Something Unfinished 3:22
04. She Made Me A Man 2:30
05. John The Rollin' Man 4:35
06. Last Stop Change Hands 5:08
07. You Got To Rock Your Own 4:11
08. He Played The Reals 3:38
09. A Tribute To A Woman 1:16

Bass – Dick Bunn
Drums, Percussion – Jimmy Evans
Guitar, Slide Guitar [Lead Slide Guitar] – Kenny Mims
Keyboards – Mitch Kerper
Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Percussion, Backing Vocals – Bob Lance

First Peace met with little success. At some point before its release, Lance had also managed to sign a songwriting contract with Motown Records. The legal wrangling between the two labels resulted in a decision that they would split the profits of Lance’s albums, and Atlantic had little interest in promoting a record in which it had only a limited financial stake. Rollin’ Man, released the following year, is far more stripped down, probably due to budgetary restrictions. Gone are the strings and horns, the Sweet Inspirations backing vocals, and Robins as his writing partner. Instead, Lance wrote all the tracks — nine on this album, shrunk down from the 11 on First Peace — and recorded them in New York with a four-piece rock band he had recruited on his own. Even the cover of his second album knocked a few superfluous letters from his name, billing him only as “B. Lance.”

Despite the cutbacks — or, more likely, because of them — the lean Rollin’ Man is the superior album, tamping down the previous album’s florid blue-eyed soulisms and focusing on a tighter rock groove. Lusty opener “Bar Room Sally” introduces Lance in a less self-serious mood; during the coda, he even provides the voice of “Sally” and kissy noises against a clattering, saloon-style piano. For all its goofiness, though, “Bar Room Sally” also sets the template for the level of songcraft throughout the album. Unlike First Peace, where even many of the stronger tracks seemed either underwritten or overly busy, epic rockers like “Something Unfinished” and “John the Rollin’ Man” are packed with hooks, but lean enough to keep them sharp and let them sink in.

Lance’s taste for grandeur hadn’t abated entirely, however, as testified by the lengthy instrumental solos on the eight-and-a-half-minute-long “Hot Wood and Coal,” and the expansive, Neil Diamondesque pop balladry of “Last Stop Change Hands” and “She Made Me a Man.” Yet the limitations of the recording process seem to have inspired Lance. While First Peace at times sounded like a songwriter’s demo tape — a song for Aretha, followed by a song for Clarence Carter — Rollin’ Man is fully committed to Lance’s personal blend of influences and interests. Ever the professional songwriter, however, there’s nothing on the album so personal or idiosyncratic that it couldn’t be covered by a band like Three Dog Night or Grand Funk Railroad. The one exception is album closer “Tribute to a Woman,” a delicate, relatively elliptical hymn that barely runs over a minute, yet contains more genuine feeling than First Peace‘s ode to ladykind, “Walkin’ on a Highway.”

Despite the fact that Lance found his groove, however, Rollin’ Man would prove to be his final album; like its predecessor, it foundered. Lance briefly continued to work as a songwriter for Atlantic, but the trouble he had caused for the label ensured his contract wasn’t renewed when it expired. The man who had worked in the music business since he was a teenager suddenly found himself locked out of the industry. Unlike many of his songwriting peers, however, Lance was lucky enough to leave behind a recorded legacy of his own. First Peace and Rollin’ Man aren’t perfect albums, but Lance’s talent shines throughout. Had he had as much of a head for legal matters and business as for songwriting and performing, it’s possible these albums wouldn’t be just cult curiosities, but the start of a fascinating career.

Bobby Lance - 1971 - First Peace

Bobby Lance 
First Peace

01. Somebody Tell Me 2:17
02. Somewhere In Between 3:41
03. One Turn You're In One Turn You're Out 4:09
04. More Than Enough Rain 5:50
05. I May Not Have Enough Time 3:08
06. It Can't Be Turned Around 2:20
07. Brother's Keeper 3:25
08. Trouble Is A Sometimes Thing 3:47
09. Cold Wind Howling In My Heart 3:35
10. Shake Down Blues 3:07
11. Walkin' On A Highway 5:05

Backing Vocals – The Sweet Inspirations
Bass – David Hood
Drums, Percussion – Roger Hawkins
Keyboards – Barry Beckett (tracks: A2, A4 to B5)
Organ – Richard Tee (tracks: A1)
Piano – George Soule (tracks: A3)
Slide Guitar, Lead Guitar – Eddie Hinton
Tenor Saxophone – Hubert Laws, King Curtis
Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone – Trevor Lawrence
Tenor Saxophone, Flute – Frank W. Wess
Trombone – Garnett Brown
Trumpet – Joe Newman
Vocals, Guitar, Percussion – Bobby Lance

Recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, Muscle Shoals, Alabama & at Atlantic Recording Studio, New York, N.Y.

Special thanks to: Mark Meyerson, King Curtis, Leo Edwards, Tom Dowd & the whole Atlantic Staff.

Check the liner notes of an album by an artist that doesn’t primarily write their own material, and the credits will be teeming with the names of the people responsible for penning the songs. Sometimes these names will be familiar: fellow performers, star producers, or the rare songwriter or writing team that has earned enough hits to be well-known in their own right. Much of the time, however, the names will be more obscure, listing writers who may have worked steadily for years turning out album tracks and B-sides, or recording with minor artists rather than stars. If they’re very lucky, they might even manage to punctuate their career with a hit or two.

Such is the case of Bobby Lance, a Brooklyn native who started writing songs with his older sister Fran Robins (17 years his senior) while still a teenager in the late ’50s. Most of their material was doled out to little-known doo-wop and girl group outfits, but the duo scored big when Aretha Franklin took their song “The House That Jack Built” to the Top 10 on both the pop and R&B charts in 1968. The hit granted Lance the opportunity to record two albums for Atlantic Records, 1971’s First Peace (released on the Cotillion imprint).

Lance’s debut, 1971’s First Peace, was made with the full backing of the Atlantic machine, featuring a lineup of musicians familiar to anyone who’s studied the liner notes of the label’s classic soul albums of the era. The Swampers, house band for Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, serves as Lance’s core group, while legendary saxophonist King Curtis leads the horn section, and the gospel group the Sweet Inspirations provides the backing vocals. Lance, for his part, leads with a gutsy, Southern-inflected voice of surprising range and intensity, well-suited for the soulful ballads and bluesy rockers comprising the album.

“More Than Enough Rain” is by far the best-known song on either of Lance’s LPs, due to the rumor that Duane Allman plays slide guitar on the track. (Bill Kopp’s liner notes for this reissue presents it as fact, but it’s apparently still a source of debate for avid Allman Brothers fans.) The six-minute psych-blues rocker is a bit of an outlier, however. More typical of First Peace is opening track “Somebody Tell Me,” a mid-tempo R&B groover that mixes blues boilerplate (“My mama had me on a block of wood / in an old broken-down shack”) with vaguely hippie sentiments (“everybody helps each other, yeah”).

First Peace sometimes feels weighed down with Lance’s insistence on piling on the dramatics and “soulful” signifiers, but it’s also packed with enough gems to demonstrate why he managed to be in demand by not one, but two of the most important record labels of the era. (See below.) The underwritten melody line and tired “I’m a man, you can’t hold me down” lyrics of “Somewhere in Between” are more than made up for by its thundering, desperate chorus, which singlehandedly propels the song to the top of the pack. “One Turn You’re In One Turn You’re Out” and “Trouble is a Sometimes Thing” are radio-friendly ballads that could have been R&B hits (though perhaps in cover versions), while the moody atmosphere and tense arrangement of “Shake Down Blues” lends the song a directness largely lacking from rest of the album.

Left End - 1974 - Spoiled Rotten

Left End
Spoiled Rotten 

01. Loser
02. Bad Talking Lady
03. Spoiled Rotten
04. Take It In Strike
05. Sweet Lovin'
06. Every Little Thing
07. Mary-Jo
08. Talkin'
09. Whisky And Bye
10. It´s Over

*Dennis T. Menass - Vocals
*Patsy Palombo - Drums, Percussion
*Tom Figinsky - Lead Guitar
*Jim Puhalla - Rhythm Guitar
*Roy Guerrieri - Bass

The rain continued to fall on a September Friday evening in downtown Youngstown, Ohio. The thick air made the last chords of the last song ring on beyond their normal cry. It was over. The young rock group Cherry Paup had finished their last gig. Guitarist Tom Figinsky, keyboardist Fred Dolovy, bassist Rod Buckio and drummer Pat Palombo had come to the end of their four years together. They were billed as The New Teen Sensations from 1964 through 1969…from high school freshmen to now graduating high school seniors. Now, it was a time of passage…from boys to men, from the dreams of rock & roll to the challenges of the real world… from high school heroes to regular faces in the crowd.

It was during a break at the Apartment Nightclub on Youngstown’s south side in the summer of 1972 that an articulate, brash, boastful and at times vulgar gentleman walked into the group’s dressing room.  He announced himself as Steve Friedman and confidently told the group he wanted to manage them.  At first, the guys took Mr. Friedman as just another hawker that was not to be taken seriously.  But Friedman’s obvious knowledge of the music business and his arrogance were appealing to the group.  After a couple of meetings, LEFT END had a management/production contract with Steven Friedman.

The group recorded more demos and Steve began meeting with record company executives in New York City.  By October of 1972, Friedman landed the group a recording contract with Polydor Records.  The contract gave the group a lucrative recording budget that included a minimum of two singles and one album a year for five years.  LEFT END could choose any studio at which to record.  The group unanimously selected Cleveland Recording in Cleveland, Ohio.  Why?  Because that is where Grand Funk recorded its early albums with the great engineer Ken Hamann.  The group finished its winter engagements while writing and testing new material for an album.  Polydor released “Bad Talkin Lady” on its label and the single began to sell nationally.

In the late spring of 1973 LEFT END began recording their first album.  The group continued to perform during this period.  The group recorded on Monday through Thursday.   One night with a few guests on hand, someone noted the total chaos and mess at the large hotel dining table that had been created by sliding several tables together.  There were beer bottles and mixed drink glasses lying on their side surrounded by stacks of china and half-eaten desserts.  The guest said, “Boy, you guys are really spoiled rotten.”  That was it…the perfect name for LEFT END’s first album…Spoiled Rotten.  To fit the image, Dennis changed his name to Dennis T. Menass.

The Spoiled Rotten LP was released by Polydor Records in the late fall of 1973.  It went to #1 on “Album Pix” charts in the tri-state area of Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia over night.

The album picked up momentum and began to sell throughout the Midwest.  LEFT END’S live performances also picked up dramatically and they began playing concert venues to “standing room only” crowds.  Steve Friedman strongly supported the group’s spoiled rotten image by equipping the group with dead frogs to throw into the crowd, ping pong ball firing canons and suckers with wrappers that boldly read “YOU SUCK!”  Below in smaller print it read LEFT END.  The group did a mock slow ballad called, “Your Mine” or “The Pimple Song” in which a large weather balloon filled with water, whipped cream, and mustard was wheeled onstage in a small red wagon.  At the end of the song Dennis T. Menass would burst the balloon and those against the front of the stage got the worst of the exploding pimple.

Battles on stage with giant gorillas and “staged” attacking fans that Dennis T. would subdue with beer bottles, whips and clubs became a standard.  The press labeled them “Big Time Wrestling Meets Heavy Rock.”  The group wore lavish “glam rock” costumes of bright silver, gold, black and red.  When in New York City, the group would head to Greenwich Village and SoHo to find the most outlandish boots, belts, and leather outfits.  Dennis T. would change outfits several times during a concert set.  Certain songs commanded a special look.  Of course, the group continued closing their shows with flash pots and pyrotechnics.  LEFT END was known for their introduction tapes that were played prior to the group appearing on stage.  These were comical thematic collections of live and taped recordings compiled by Thomas John and Jerry Starr of what was then WSRD FM Radio (The Wizard).  These intros became very popular with LEFT END fans.  The Cleveland press dubbed them, “The Monster That Ate Cleveland.”

Soon after the Spoiled Rotten album was released, Polydor released the single “Loser” from the album.  The group began performing in large concert venues with the likes of the Eagles, the J. Geils Band, Brownsville Station, the New York Dolls, Trapeze, George Clinton and the Funkadelic Parliament, and dozens of others.  LEFT END appeared in Rolling Stone, Cash Box, Billboard, Cavalier and other national magazines.  They were frequently featured in local periodicals in the tri-state area.

Polydor held a big reception for LEFT END after the group performed in concert at Cobo Arena in Detroit.   The concert was a great success.  LEFT END finished the set with the usual flash pots on stage and added a full blown fireworks display.  The crowd went crazy and literally attacked the group.  Later, at the reception for the group, Polydor executives, still buzzing from the concert, began to lay out plans for the group.  LEFT END had captured the Midwest and there was great interest from east and west coast cities.  Their plan was to take the group to Europe where it was felt that they would be an instant success and then bring them back here as “The Monster That Ate Europe.”

Group members were floating on clouds anticipating their rise to greater stardom…until communication with Polydor Records suddenly came to a halt.

The Leaves - 1966 - Hey Joe

The Leaves
Hey Joe

01. Dr. Stone 2:20
02. Just A Memory 2:17
03. Get Out Of My Life Woman 2:46
04. Girl From The East 2:56
05. He Was A Friend Of Mine 3:23
06. Hey Joe! 2:48
07. Words 2:31
08. Back On The Avenue 3:05
09. War Of Distortion 2:08
10. Tobacco Road 2:09
11. Good Bye, My Lover 3:10
12. Too Many People 3:15

- John Beck - vocals
- Bobby Arlin - lead guitar
- Robert Lee Reiner - rhythm guitar
- Jim Pons - bass
- Tom "Ambrose" Ray - drums

The Leaves was an American garage band formed in California in 1964. They are best known for their version of the song "Hey Joe", which was a hit in 1966. Theirs is the earliest release of this song, which became a rock standard.

The band was founded by bass player Jim Pons and guitarist Robert Lee Reiner, who were inspired by hearing The Beatles while students at Cal State Northridge in Los Angeles. Originally called The Rockwells, they were fraternity brothers who formed a group and then taught themselves how to play. Besides Pons and Reiner, the original line-up included John Beck (vocals), Bill Rinehart (lead guitar), and Jimmy Kern (drums); in early 1965, Kern was replaced by drummer Tom Ray.

They began by playing surf and dance music at parties. Their first actual show was in the school gym with Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band. In 1965 The Byrds left their residency at Ciro's on Sunset Strip after making their first hit, and The Leaves (as they were by now known) were chosen to replace them. It was there they were discovered by popular singer and actor Pat Boone, who got them their first record contract, with Mira Records.

Their first single, "Too Many People", was a local hit in Los Angeles. The Leaves released "Hey Joe" in November 1965, and dissatisfied with the sound, pulled it. They released a second version in early 1966, which flopped. Original guitarist Bill Rinehart left, and The Leaves redid the song again with a fuzztone by new guitarist Bob Arlin. This version of the song, the best of the uptempo versions, became a hit, hitting No. 1 in L.A. It debuted on both Billboard and Cash Box on May 21, 1966. It peaked at No. 31 on Billboard, while showing a humbler peak position of No. 43 on Cash Box. The song ran nine weeks on both national charts.

Their debut album Hey Joe followed. It took a run on the Billboard charts for 5 weeks, beginning on July 30, 1966, peaking at No. 127. The album did not make it onto the Cash Box charts.

The band appeared on TV shows – American Bandstand, Shivaree, Shebang – and briefly in a Hollywood film, The Cool Ones (1967). One more album, All the Good That's Happening, was released before the band broke up in 1967 when Pons left to join the pop group The Turtles; In the early 70s, Pons played bass with Frank Zappa. Arlin went on to form heavy psychedelic band The Hook and The Robert Savage Group. The band reunited in 1970 before Pons became a member of Zappa's band. The reunited lineup included Jim Pons on rhythm guitar, John Beck on lead guitar, Buddy Sklar, lead singer from The Hook and The Spencer Davis Group, Al Nichols on bass from the Turtles, and Bob "Bullet" Bailey on drums. The band did some touring and performed at local Los Angeles based nightclubs before disbanding in 1971.

A new generation of music fans discovered the band when their version of "Hey Joe" was included in the classic 1972 garage rock compilation, Nuggets. According to the Nuggets liner notes, the as yet unnamed band was hanging around a tree-shaded pool, smoking, when a newcomer gave the traditional 60s greeting, "What's happening?" "The leaves are happening", came the answer, which struck them all as a good name for a band.

One of the first L.A. folk-rock groups to spring up in the wake of the Byrds in the mid-'60s, the Leaves are most remembered for recording the first -- and one of the most successful -- rock versions of "Hey Joe," which reached the Top 40 (and was a huge California hit) in 1966. None of their other releases approached this success (although "Too Many People" was a local hit), but the group recorded a fair number of strong covers and original songs during their brief existence. More explicitly Stones and Beatles-influenced than the Byrds, they didn't project as strong an identity as competitors like the Byrds or Love, despite displaying considerable talent for harmony rockers in both the folk-rock and British Invasion styles. After cutting some singles and an album for the tiny Mira label, they moved to Capitol and disbanded after a disappointing follow-up (All the Good That's Happening, 1967) that offered less distinguished material and a more diluted sound. Leaves bassist Jim Pons went on to join the Turtles for a while in the late '60s.

Leaf Hound - 1970 - Growers of Mushroom

Leaf Hound 
Growers of Mushroom

01. Freelance Fiend
02. Sad Road To The Sea
03. Drowned My Life In Fear
04. Work My Body
05. Stray
06. With A Minute To Go
07. Growers Of Mushroom
08. Stagnant Pool
09. Sawdust Caesar

10. It's Going To Get Better (bonus track, originally a German b-side)
11. Hip Shaker (bonus track, previously unissued)

Pete French - vocals
Mick Halls - lead guitar
Derek Brooks - rhythm guitar
Stuart Brooks - bass
Keith Young - drums

Leaf Hound is one of the literally dozens (seemingly hundreds?) of groups that arose from the late 60's "Progressive Blues" scene in the UK, who then went in a heavier direction as the style of the times changed in the early 1970's. Most of this particular group were formerly a more properly "bloozy" outfit called The Black Cat Bones whose sole 1970 album "Barbed Wire Sandwich" almost certainly inspired Spinal Tap's "Shark Sandwich". Leaf Hound's particular corner of the rock family tree also includes cross-references with members of such other sub-luminaries of the day as Atomic Rooster, Cactus, Foghat & Free. Later singer Pete French would audition for Deep Purple & Uriah Heep, but lose out to fellow journeymen like Dave Coverdale and John Lawton.

So knowing all this you shouldn't have too much difficulty pre-supposing what Leaf Hound is gonna sound like: succinctly in two words, "LED ZEPPELIN." Only dumber, cruder, uglier, and generally lacking any notion of subtlety (as the blatantly druggy band & album titles would suggest.) Except when they sound like The Who or Black Sabbath or Uriah Heep. Actually, the band they keep reminding me of the most is Sir Lord Baltimore -- there almost seems to be some subliminal transatlantic psychic link between these two groups, who would have been recording their debut albums at about the same time (so I don't see how one could have directly borrowed anything from the other. Unless someone can find a link between them we must assume that the times REQUIRED music like Leaf Hound & Sir Lord Baltimore, and thus it was summoned forth from all corners of the globe. Just like a whole bunch of different guys all invented radio at about the same time in different parts of the world.)

"Freelance Fiend" kicks things off in fine style with a scrungetastic Baltimoresque riff and a funky cowbell (can never get too much cowbell now can we?) French does his mushmouth macho manboy yowling bout "I'm gonna live my life like a freelance fiend / build all my castles on top of my dreams!" Mick Halls' lead guitar work throughout the album is a bit on the trebly-needly side, and he's certainly no Louis Dhambra. What makes this one is the Sabbath-like aural blending of low rhythm guitar & massive bass tones locked in on a grind-o-matic machine riff. In other words, METAL!

"Sad Road" is driven by acoustic guitar strumming over that fat-tastic bass, rocking it in the style of The Who's "The Seeker." More wah wah wangdoodle & predictable bloozoid lyrics delivered with mushmouth melisma.

"Drowned" features a grinding circular riff that keeps on going, yet more sub-Mick Box wah wah soloing, and the first uncomfortably Zeppelinish moments in French's redline blues howling which bears more than a little resemblance to Zep's "Ramble On."

"Work My Body" is an evil creepy jazz-blues type of thing, somewhere between "Planet Caravan" and The Doors. Again the guitar heroics are a bit strained and for the most part the lyrics are silly sexo rapping, but the massive coda riff with organ sounds cool (hello, Uriah Heep!) and on the whole this winds up being one of the more distinctive sounding numbers on the record.

"Stray" bears an eerie resemblance to Sir Lord B's "Woman Tamer" riff, which is to say both sound a bit like Zep's "Heartbreaker" thrown in a blender. The relentless riff only ever pauses for big bad drum fills (hello, Bill Ward!) and a brief psychjazz bridge. More early 70's metal heaven.

"With A Minute To Go" uses the acoustic guitar & rumblin bass approach again, adding some shimmery powerchords to make me think of The Who's "Naked Eye" this time -- that is until the descending riff at the end where French nicks the melody & cadence of Bob Plant's "well the wind won't blow and it really goes to show uh woah woah woah" right down to the umlauts.

The title track of the album is the goofiest thing here, a taut little 2 minute multi-sectioned pop operetta in the vein of The Who's "Happy Jack" or maybe MC5's "Human Being Lawnmower". It's also the most blatantly druggy number here, he keeps repeating "nobody could tell we were growing some mushrooms!" but with verse lyrics like "my life was a beetle that ran down the wall!" one has to wonder.

"Stagnant Pool" is some gawdamn effing METAL, in fact I can't imagine this was inspired by anything less that the previous year's smash hit single "Paranoid", as they've got the same locked-in machine grind chugga-chugga going on here. However, it's got lots more parts to it than the Sabbath song, including one riff that again is eerily similar to the climactic riff of Lord Balty's "Caesar LXXI" -- as well as another bit that sounds so much like the Jefferson Airplane you expect to hear Marty Balin's sweet tenor floating by instead of Ol' Raspy there.

"Sawdust Caesar" whoops it up and makes a fine ending to the original LP. Shambolic whiteboy lumbering funk with MORE COWBELL!!! that is just plain irresistable. Mick's guitar solo is also his looooosest playing on the record, making this track another of the highlights.

The first CD bonus track "It's Going To Get Better" is pretty useless, a piano-driven ballad that sounds like another band entirely. Reminds me of mid-70's Guess Who (not in a good way.)

"Hip Shaker" is much better though, sounding like a garage band pastiche of the Faces and Humble Pie. The bashing post-gogo boogie metal groove is happenin', so who cares that the lyrics are simple-minded "hip shaker / love maker" nonsense.

Doing research for this review* I've come across quite a few other reviews of Leaf Hound already out there in Internetland, most rife with cliches about "bludgeoning riffs" and superlatives to make you think Leaf Hound is the hottest shit you've never heard before. I dunno, on the one hand it's nothing original and not all that superlative as far as he-man guitar histrionics go -- but I must admit if you were to ask me to make a list of five albums which fit well with the phrase "bludgeoning riffs" this would probably make it. Which is to say if you can't get enough vintage 1971 proto-metal crunch, here's another platter to add to your Unsung diet. But if 70's stoner cock-rock is not your bag, save your drachmas for some other din.

Leaf Hound's music first saw release in Germany in 1971 on Telefunken (where they did a lot of touring; this self-titled "first" album was the same as "Growers of Mushroom" minus a couple tracks.) Later the same year the album was released in their UK homeland by Decca, with nine tracks as shown above (didn't make it across the pond I don't think.) The CD reissue on the See For Miles label includes the 2 bonus tracks listed above. This same label has also reissued the aforementioned "Barbed Wire Sandwich" LP -- which I'venot heard, but the album cover to that one is even more hideous than "Toe Fat"! Hard to resist! Lawd help me, I think I have a problem!

* Here's a factoid mentioned in almost every review, so I'll repeat it here as well: the band's name & most of the song titles on the album are taken from an anthology of horror stories by Herbert Van Thal.

Lava - 1973 - Tears Are Goin' Home

Tears Are Goin' Home

01. Tears Are Goin' Home (4:22)
02. Crimes Of Love (6:45)
03. Would Be Better You Run (5:19)
04. All My Love To You (4:20)
05. Mad Dog (6:01)
06. Holy Fool (5:17)
07. Piece Of Piece (10:07)

- Thomas Karrenbach / piano, organ, vocals
- Stefan Ostertag / guitar, vocals
- Jurgen Kraaz / guitars, organ and flute
- Christian Ostertag / guitars
- Archer Weaver / drums, armonica, harp, vocals
- Peter Moses / percussions

 There are many German bands from the early part of the seventies that could be described as either Heavy-Prog or Krautrock and in my experience it's been a hit and miss affair. I just never know until I can hear the whole album over time to give a proper evaluation. LAVA released this one record in 1973 and Conny Plank produced and engineered it. He also plays a guitar solo on the track "Would Be Better You Run". This is a melancholic album with a vocalist that reminds me of CAN's Malcom Moody although the drummer sings on one track and sounds nothing like that. Three of the six band members are multi-instrumentalists as well.
"Tears Are Goin' Home" opens with distorted guitars then it kicks in to an uptempo rocker with vocals sounding very much like HAWKWIND. Spoken words after 2 1/2 minutes as it settles back briefly then away we go again. "Crimes Of Love" is my favourite. The drummer sings and we get a laid back sound with a beat and floating organ. Flute before 3 minutes as that underlying power that is just below the surface bubbles up. It never bursts forth though. Amazing tune ! "Would Be Better You Run" has strummed guitar and vocals standing out. A catchy tune that is folky. "All My Love To You" is where we get a CAN vibe because of the groove and vocals. They repeat the title of this song a lot.

"(I'm Just A) Mad Dog" is where the guitarist plays bass and the bass player offers up a guitar solo. Go figure ? Intricate sounds with not much going on really until before 2 minutes when almost spoken vocals come in. It picks up after 3 minutes. CAN comes to mind with that groove and we get harmonica too. Excellent track. "Holy Fool" is a melancholic song that has strummed guitar and reserved vocals. "Pice Of Peace" is the over 10 minute closer and my second favourite. Relaxed piano to open as cymbals and bass join in. Drums follow. The electric guitar is laid back after 3 1/2 minutes as the beat, bass and piano continue. A melancholic jam. More energy 7 1/2 minutes in then it settles right down a minute later to the end.

Leb I Sol - 1982 - Akustichna trauma

Leb I Sol 
Akustichna trauma

101. Lokomobila (3:07)
102. Miris juga (4:13)
103. Mirko (4:00)
104. Kako ti drago (3:26)
105. Utrinska tema (2:26)
106. Mile Pop Jordanov (4:12)
107. Ajde sonce zajde (5:18)
108. Kumova slama (6:23)
109. Rucni rad (4:56)
110. Talasna duzina (3:53)
111. Nisam tvoj (3:51)

201. Ziva rana (21:17)
202. Bonus (4:43)
203. Kokoska (3:50)
204. Aber dojde Donke (4:29)
205. Damar (3:03)

- Vlatko Stefanovski / guitars, vocals
- Dragoljub Djuricic / drums
- Bodan Arsovski / bass

This double live set represents the last release of PGP RTB label and captures LEB I SOL at Zagreb's "Kulusic" Club which was a "Mecca" for live recordings during the most prolific era of ex-Yugoslav rock scene in the 1980s. The band is stripped to the bone here, in the basic rock trio of drums, guitar and bass, with raw sound and engaging musicianship. Personally, I can still remember many of their gigs at Sarajevo in that period and this album closely represents the repertoire they usually performed. Songs from their last and up to that point the weakest album "Sledovanje" sound better here, without studio manipulations, especially "Lokomobila" and "Mile Pop Jordanov". On the other hand compositions from their first three "classic" albums are played differently (they had to cover the loss of the keyboards), but not always to a succesfull results. Djuricic on drums is still not on par with others, although he is trying hard. Perhaps the most interesting tracks on this set are "Ziva rana", which is extended to 21 minutes improvisational jam and "Bonus", which developed from a short acoustic coda vignette from "Leb i Sol 2" to a full length song that would remain their concert favourite in many years to come. I always hesitate to recommend "live" albums because I do not really trust their documentary nature. But, in this case I remember well the LEB I SOL concerts and this record truly represents their potentials on stage, even you may get a sense of being there. "Akusticna trauma" is a very good LEB I SOL performance and it is recommended purchase.

Leb I Sol - 1981 - Beskonachno

Leb I Sol 

01. Hars (4:06)
02. Skakavac (3:04)
03. Ziva rana (5:43)
04. Ajde sonce zajde (5:00)
05. Beli mrak (3:28)
06. Neplacena struja (4:06)
07. U tom je stvar (3:43)
08. Stomacne vijuge (2:55)
09. Kasno popodne (4:46)

- Vlatko Stefanovski / guitars, vocals
- Garo Tavitijan / drums
- Bodan Arsovski / bass

- Stjepko Gut / flugelhorn

 The first major shift in the carer of LEB I SOL occured immediately after the release of the third album "Rucni rad", when keyboardist Koki Dimusevski left the band. His replacement was Miki Petkovski, formerly of SMAK, but he also left after few months. They then decided to continue as a trio, without keyboards and started composing theatre soundtracks.

In the beginning of 1981 they released the fourth album, under the enigmatic title - a mathematical symbol for "Infinity" (8). This period saw a flood of "new wave" in ex-Yugoslavia and old prog-rockers began to fade out... So LEB I SOL decided to comply, accepting influences from new wave, but filtering them through their improvisational/fusion approach, making songs with more lyrics for wider public and retaining "jazzy" instrumental play, particularly evident on their concerts of the era. Arsovski was forced to expand his bass playing in order to fill the gap of missing keyboards.

"(8)" is a transitional album in a good sense and still one of their best! Out of 9 songs, 3 are with lyrics and these happen to be among their best: "Ziva rana", "Beli mrak" and "U tom je stvar". They are dominated by the sense of melancholy, depression, emptiness and some eerie dark, Minor keys, with leading melodic instrument being Arsovski's fretless bass. Stefanovski probably listened to THE POLICE a lot at that time because the sound of guitar and percussion are often similar to Summers/Copeland style, while Sting also appeared to have played fretless at occassions. Nonetheless this combination sounds good if you are willing to accept it (I can feel the horror of prog purists at every mention of "new wave", but come on! - here is another "prog-punk" link: Andy Summers in his early days was messing up with Canterbury scene, while later on he actively collaborated with Robert Fripp! Enough?) Macedonian folk is retained however and they did an excellent remake of traditional "Ajde sonce zajde". Jazz veteran trumpetist Stjepko Gut added a few nice notes of flugelhorn in two tracks.

Now what to say? I am supposed to recommend this album to prog listeners or prog novices! Well, if you never listened to LEB I SOL, start first with any of the first 3 albums. If you like it, then come here! If you are a fusion fan, you will have already appreciated first 3 albums and you may like this one too. If you are more open to the music of different genres (like I am ) you will find many moments on "(8)" to admire and listen to, no matter the genre definition. After these guidelines one can easily mark it 3 stars, but hell, for me this is excellent addition to any collection!

Leb I Sol - 1979 - Ruchni Rad

Leb I Sol
Ruchni Rad

01. Lenja pesma (4:32)
02. Rebus (5:12)
03. Hogar (4:21)
04. Rucni rad (5:07)
05. Kumova slama (5:20)
06. Put u vedro (5:20)
07. Verni pas (6:09)

- Vlatko Stefanovski / guitars, vocals
- Garo Tavitijan / drums
- Bodan Arsovski / bass
- Koki Dimusevski / keyboards

After two successfull albums LEB I SOL decided not to repeat the formula but to go into a deeper exploration of jazz.

For the third album they almost abandoned the lyrics and invited a saxophone guest for two tracks. Vocals are present but except "Lenja pesma", an excellent even semi-commercial hit at the time, they were utilized as an instrument. Dimusevski is more active than ever with his electric piano and plethora of synths, Stefanovski's guitar technique is brought to perfect here,while rhythm section of Tavitijan and Arsovski is impeccable as always. Macedonian folk is less present in favour of more "avant-garde" approach in a manner of jazz improvistions, so "Rucni rad" is not very accessible on the first listen.

Production of Josip Bocek is finally top notch for the time, the whole album carries the balanced sound of all instruments, perfectly arranged so you could get a sense of the band playing as a single body. Solos are rare but very effective and functional.

All 7 tracks are perfect but obvious favorites would be "Lenja pesma" (lyrics as always by Goran Stefanovski, Vlatko's brother, who is a renowned Macedonian playright), Arsovski's title track "Rucni rad" with some beautiful fretless bass melody line and Stefanovski's "Kumova slama", one of the most memorable instrumentals of the former Yugo music scene, beautiful melody with emotional guitar solo weeping. However there is present a sort of optimistic, positive feeling in this composition which sometimes reminds me of the similar style found in say "Jessica" by ALLMAN BROTHERS. This is a true gem of ex-Yugo prog and probably the best fusion album of the era just before the coming of New Wave age.