Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Baby Huey - 1971 - The Baby Huey Story

Baby Huey 
The Baby Huey Story

01. Listen To Me 6:35
02. Mama Get Yourself Together 6:10
03. A Change Is Going To Come 9:23
04. Mighty, Mighty 2:45
05. Hard Times 3:19
06. California Dreaming 4:43
07. Running 3:36
08. One Dragon Two Dragon 4:02

Baby Huey: Lead Vocals
Alton Little
Byron Watkins
Dan Alfano
Dan O'Neil
David Cook
Jack Renee
Melvin Jones
Othello Anderson
Phillip Henry
Plato Jones
Reno Smith
Rick Marcotte

Producer – Curtis Mayfield

James Thomas Ramsey, aka Baby Huey, introduced himself on stage better than anyone else could have dared: "I'm Big Baby Huey, and I'm 400 pounds of soul." In the 1960s, he and his band, the Babysitters, played everywhere from the clubs of New York to private parties in Paris, but Chicago was where they were best known-- and where they called home. The band would play any gig that would have them during that time, from tiny blues clubs to cruise ships. As a frontman, Baby Huey was talented, flamboyant, and enormous-- anywhere from 350-400 pounds, topped off by a giant afro. Unfortunately, Huey died of a heart attack at 26 in 1970, and never saw his debut album released the following year. Since then, Living Legend has remained an obscurity, though its songs have long been embraced by hip-hop, having been sampled by everyone from Kool Herc to Eric B and Rakim to Ghostface.

This Water Records reissue keeps the album's original running order intact, and adds no extras. Living Legend is a spare effort by today's standards: eight songs, two of them covers-- one of which is among the record's three instrumentals. However, Living Legend showed Huey and the Babysitters stretching themselves in ways few soul artists of the time did.

The Babysitters were a full band with a horn section that could take psychedelic detours without losing their tightness or funky feel. They were the perfect foil for Huey, who brought it all together with undeniable stage presence and an earnest tenor that was compared to Otis Redding (which rings true if only for their powerful delivery). Listen closely, and you can hear the ravage of excess in his raspy crooning, before he leaps into the highest registers with a squeal that's equal parts James and Arthur Brown.

Produced by the legendary Curtis Mayfield, three songs he also penned make up the meat of the album. "Mighty Mighty" is a raucous funk shuffle, including handclaps and crowd noise that give it the feel of a backyard throwdown, with little girls piping in at Huey's invitation while he praises Walgreen's turkeys and Thunderbird in his proto-rapping. Its gaiety is infectious and almost overwhelming. The "Hard Times" arrangement seems almost restricting for Huey's voice and character, but we have to thank Mayfield for handing him the tune-- it's the record's most memorable melody, and Huey's version is superior to Mayfield's own. "Running" adds warbling electric piano and guitar to Mayfield's melodic funk, the most lamentable example of what the Babysitters could have achieved if Huey had lived to record another LP.

And while the band out-performing Mayfield on his own songs is no small feat, the two covers on Living Legend are, for lack of a better phrase, utterly bonkers. Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Going to Come" begins clunkier than Cooke's version, but one inhuman screech from Huey and the horns kick in and the band dials it up. When the song passes the seven-minute mark (and it eventually stretches past nine), Huey breaks it down and channels the experimentation of his youth into a sermon on "space odysseys" and "funny-lookin' cigarettes." The other cover is an instrumental version of the Mamas and Papas' "California Dreamin'", which straddles the line between smooth flute jazz and The Funky 16 Corners.

With very few original songs, Baby Huey and the Babysitters might come off as nothing more than hired guns. Even if that's so, their lone LP proved them versatile and talented as hell. It's a shame that no reissue has rounded up Huey's extraneous 1960s singles, but soul fans will be overjoyed that this record is finding wide release.

The Baby Huey Story is a unique record in every regard. First off, it’s a rare mix of psychedelic soul, deep funk, blues-rock and proto-rapping in both live and studio settings.Secondly, the record was the only release by the group and it was produced by Curtis Mayfield on his own Curtom label.

And more significantly, it was a posthumous tribute released in memory of the larger than life James Ramey aka Baby Huey. A tragic spiral into drugs and alcohol may have robbed the world of a burgeoning performer at age 26, but his record has standed the test of time. Although it was largely ignored by the mainstream at the time, it found new life being lauded and sampled by Hip-Hop heavy hitters such as Ice Cube, Pete Rock, Public Enemy, Rakim and A Tribe Called Quest. Baby Huey and the Babysitters were a band in the vein of Sly and the Family Stone. Ramey’s stage presence could not be ignored and it was the emotion,blood, sweat and tears he poured into his interpretations and compositions that put the band over the top. They had a lot of succcess on the live circuit but had not hit the studio yet when famed signer Donny Hathaway (under marvelous talent lost too soon) saw them live and insisted that Mayfield attend the following night. They were signed to Curtom but could not finish their sessions before Baby Huey’s addictions caught up to him.

However, in a way the post-humous release which focuses on Baby Huey the person and not the character (Ramey chose the name from the cartoon character in a self-deprecating humerous way) brings even more of the listeners to the struggles, trials and tribulations expressed in the songs. Hard times is the perfect example since the hard as nails opening break is matched only by the honesty of the lyrics and the cadence of the delivery picks up with the hard funk tempo and never let’s up. Baby Huey and the Babysitters made my favorite type of soul : raw, uncut,emotional soul and that’s what you gt on this album whether it be covers (California Dreamin, A Change is Gonna Come) completely transformed by the group’s psychedelic tinge or personal compositions like Runnin (fakin jax samples for you beatheads).

I described this album as unique because every song is a gem that stands on its own and whose sequence and construction is completely original, much like the Baby Huey himself. You don’t need Huey’s monologues and heart wrenching howls to feel the man’s formidable presence throughout the album, all you need is to make sure to get this classic record in your collection and discover what a true larger than life artist can create in a limited amount of time and how one amazing LP can shine brighter than a whole discography.

Baby Grandmothers - 2007 - Turn On,Tune In, Drop Out

Baby Grandmothers 
Turn On,Tune In, Drop Out

01. Opus 1: Ascending (12:49)
02. Opus 2: Floating (8:20)
03. Opus 3: Descending (10.20)

- Kenny Håkansson / guitars
- Pelle Ekman / drums
- Bella Linnarsson / bass

Released in 2007 as Premium Promo 015 by Premium Publishing.
Licenced by special arrangement with Anders Lind, Silence

Recorded by Anders Lind at the Filips café, Stockholm, sep. 30th, 1967.
All songs compsed by Baby Grandmothers

Sold together with Premium Publishing book The Encyclopedia of Swedish Progressive Music 1967-1979 and not available otherwise.

Among the coolest underground psych bands in the world, it's really tragic they only released 1 single officially. Based on the live bootleg mat'l available from them, they (and we), no doubt, would have benefited from a studio recording. The material presented here, while not their very best, is still essential for fans of the artist. The book it came with is worth it, even without this bonus CD.

Baby Grandmothers - 2007 - Baby Grandmothers

Baby Grandmothers 
Baby Grandmothers

7" Single On Forward!Eteenpäin! (1968)
01. Somebody Keeps Calling My Name
02. Being Is More Than Life
Live Klubb Filips, Stockholm, Late October 1967
03. Bergakungen
04. Being Is More Than Life
05. St. George's Dragon
Live, Finland, March 1968
06. St. George's Dragon
07. Raw Diamond

Bass – Bella Ferlin
Drums – Pelle Ekman
Guitar – Kenny Håkansson

The first two tracks presented here are from an extremely rare 45 single, and can only be considered a truly extraordinary example of what was going on in Northern Europe during this time. Incredible psychedelic guitar from future Kebnekaise guitarist Kenny Hakansson, with otherworldly voices taking you to another universe. This first track is from master tapes and is, by itself, a reason to own this CD (beyond the excellent liner notes from Reine Fiske of course). The second one is from vinyl, but no less interesting musically. A bit slower, but it's a pot boiler! The remainder of the album is made up of live guitar-fronted jams preserved for the ages in variable sound by some foresighted folks. The musical quality is hit and miss, and as with all jam albums, there are peak moments - and ones that get stuck in the ditch for far too long. So 15 minutes of 4.5 star material and 45 minutes of 3 stars. But given the historical perspective, and that it's been presented with great care by Subliminal Sounds, this one goes into the "must own" column. If you're looking for the Swedish version of Cream, then you'll find it here.

40 years later, Baby Grandmothers sees the actual light of day. It's about time. These Swedes are psych monsters jamming out heavy tunes that blew away most other things back in the late 1960's. You don't even need drugs to feel the fried out intensity going on here. I'd equate Baby Grandmothers to Acid Mothers Temple's freakout jams nowadays; they're both on the same level even if AMT outdo the freak part a little bit more. But that's only because they began 30 years later. Baby Grandmothers still have an edge on influence and the "ahead of their time" factor. Or perhaps not. These dudes weren't even so much ahead of their time as they weren't understood wholly. Which goes to explain why this is a compilation and not a reissue of a release decades past. In just a year of existence, Baby Grandmothers continue to amaze and retain their impact on the music scene, let alone be discovered by many fans anew.

Baba Yaga - 1978 - On the Edge

Baba Yaga 
On the Edge

01. Charlotte's Web
02. Sweet Beginnings
03. Terra
04. Too Cool To Be True
05. Monogamy - Shbedogamy
06. Smoke
07. A Little Bit Of Something Special
08. Old Woman
09. Nomi
10. Rise Again

Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Bass, Vocals, Accordion, Percussion – Barbara Galloway
Congas, Vocals, Percussion – Jan Cornall
Drums – Janet (Jake) Lampert, Maia McNamara
Electric Bass, Classical Guitar, Vocals, Percussion – Susan Colson
Flute, Percussion, Vocals – Nancy Cady
Piano [Acoustic], Percussion – Kiera O'Hara
Soprano Saxophone, Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Vocals, Percussion – Patti Vincent
Trumpet, Trombone, Percussion, Vocals – Bonnie Kovaleff
Violin – Niobe Erebor

A rare gem of the famous feminist label Olivia Records - only drive feminine jazz-rock band from Portland, formed in 1975, in the main composed of six girlfriends, and the album is the fruit of three years of work of the staff, attended four more virgins. Producer of the album, too lady. Based on the fact that the two men guitarists involved in the creation of the group was soon driven out of it, and according to the specialization of the label. But despite this, the album is very high quality and they managed to mix whimsical musical genres such as rock, jazz, blues motifs with Latin, folk, pop and even AOR. Many wind (various saxophones, trumpet, trombone, flute), lyrical female vocal, even good instrumental pieces and cozy warm atmosphere. Sometimes there are excellent satirical texts in the spirit of militant feminism and Frank Zappa type things Monogamy Schdedogamy, which his accordion rhythms reminiscent of crazy cabaret. Vocals a bit, but it's pretty lyrical and pleasing to the ear.

Baba Scholae - 1969 - 69

Baba Scholae

01. 1984 - Melancolia Street - 8.40
02. Half Day - 4.03
03. Will Meant Ciment - 2.10
04. Julius - 2.14
05. La Chasse Au Serpent A La Flute - 1.55
06. Go Down Sunset - 2.31
07. Telegram - 0.31
08. Song My (My Lai) - 3.29
09. Kaleidoscope - 2.02
10. Keep Rythmique - 4.04
11. Just Like George - 1.01
12. White Bird - 3.53
13. She's An Indian In Minor - 2.13
14. Song For A New Connection - 2.58
15. L'oeil Du Maitre - 4.44
16. 1984 - Melancolia Street - 11.24

Lyrics and Music for all songs Labat de Rossi, Holbrook, Vigh, Baytis, Jones, Woodbine, Piat.

Steve Baylis - Drums
John Arthur Holbrook  - Lead Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
Alan Jones - Bass
Jean-Yves Labat De Rossi - Flutes, Saxophone, Bombard, Keyboards, Vocals
Jules Vigh  - Guitar, Melotro
Woody Woodbine  - Lead Vocals

This is an archival release that was originally recorded in 1969 but never released until 2012. The original lineup from 1967 involved musicians from France led by Jean-Yves Labat de Rossi who plays flute, keys and sax mainly. Later, after moving to the USA he met Todd Rundgren and became his synth player on his UTOPIA project. 

Back to the 1967 lineup for a minute... they would go to London and open for TRAFFIC thanks to producer Tommy Weber and his contacts in the UK but it wasn't a good experience as someone stole all their music equipment before the show but they still played with borrowed instruments, although it didn't go over well and the band went back to France and broke up. Jean-Yves eventually went back to London thanks again to Tommy Weber and with some British musicians they recorded this album professionally but with all the in-fighting they broke up before releasing the album to the public. 

In the liner notes they stress that this recording is a true recording from the master tapes with no remastering or sound treatment of any kind. This is an album that Prog fans should enjoy as BABA SCHOLAE were intent on making something fresh and different to what was going on in 1969. Of course you can tell it's from the late sixties mainly from a couple of the more commercial sounding tunes but I like how innovative some of this would have been for 1969. 

"1984-Melancholia Street" is easily the longest song at over 8 1/2 minutes and a top five for me. An experimental intro gives way to piano, bass and drums before it cams down quickly with strummed guitar, flute and vocals. The processed vocal melodies are interesting 2 minutes in and then back to the previous theme. An excellent instrumental section follows then back to the processed vocal melodies as themes are repeated. A powerful sound arrives around 4 1/2 minutes with electric guitar and drums standing out. It's jazzy a minute later. Nice. Vocals are back after 6 1/2 minutes to the end.

"Half Day" opens with flute and bass leading the way early as drums join in as the tempo picks up and vocals follow. Catchy stuff. Some 60's sounding vocal melodies follow. I like the sax that is at times dissonant starting after 2 minutes and it continues to almost 3 1/2 minutes as drums and bass support. "Will Meant Ciment" has a catchy beat with intricate sounds coming and going. Interesting stuff and we get an explosion before 2 minutes that lingers to the end.

"Julius" is a poppy sounding track with vocals, acoustic guitar, drums and bass. A real toe-tapper. "La Chasse Au Serpent A La Flute" is the only track with mellotron and it's strings in the background. We get flute and acoustic guitar along with spoken vocals. "Go Down Sunset" like "Julius" is quite catchy and commercial sounding. "Telegram" is a short piece of acoustic guitar, drums, spoken vocals and a sample of running water.

"Song My(My Lai)" is a top five for me. This is the most powerful of the lot including aggressive guitar and vocals. A nice change of pace and it ends in a haunting manner. "Kaleidoscope" is uptempo with plenty of guitar before it settles with vocals as these passages are contrasted. "Keep It "Rythmique"" opens with bass, acoustic guitar and vocal melodies. I like this. It picks up after a minute. Drums and an exotic sound take over. This one has some unique sounds in it compared to the other tunes. It's okay. 

"Just Like George" is Zappa-101. The humour and funny voices scream Frank and the Mothers. No doubt an influence. "White Bird" is a top five and one I really enjoy. Strummed guitar to start as reserved vocals join in. It turns fuller with drums and more. So good! "She's An Indian In Minor" is a top five as well. Just a feel good vibe for me on this one. I like the bass and flute especially. 

"Song For A New Connection" is cool as we get a strong Jazz feel. Yes my final top five tune right here. We get vocal melodies and check out the drum work late and the bass throughout. "L'oeil Du Matre" is experimental and slightly avant I'd say. Spoken words can be heard in the background as well. 

Well I'm really glad I picked this one up. There's a really good interview with Jean-Yves in the liner notes plus some other info in French and English. While it's disappointing that this didn't get the release it deserved back in 1969 we can be thankful the master tapes were kept and in great condition. This is well worth checking out.

Baba Jaga - 1984 - Memorial Ceremony

Baba Jaga
Memorial Ceremony

01. Liar 3:18
02. Memorial Ceremony 5:25
03. Vivisektion 3:26
04. Smells Like Your Face 5:48
05. Gongratulations 4:05
06. The Letter 4:38
07. Don't Damn The Hunter 3:05
08. Power Stops At Nothing 4:00
09. Welcome In Our Lives Again 4:35

Recorded At – PM-Studio Marburg

Bass – Bernhard Brinkmöller
Drums – Hansel Hölscher
Guitar – Norbert Brinkmöller
Keyboards, Vocals – Werner Heinekamp
Vocals – Ralf Beine

Not to be confised with Baba Yaga, this obscure 80's German band recorded one album at Tonstudio Marburg, but it is unknown wheter they came from around the area.Baba Jaga were Ralf Beine on vocals, Norbert Brinkmöller on guitar, Bernhard Brinkmöller on bass, Hansel Hölscher on piano and Werner Heinekamp on vocals and keyboards.''Memorial ceremony'' (1984, private) has a very dark, mysterious front cover, which partly reflects on the atmosphere of the album.Actually it would be more suitable to a Black Metal album to say the truth.Because this one combines a Hard/Kraut Rock feel with notable New Wave influences and touches of Classic/Symphonic Rock.The 80's production and the full-time synth lines evoke a strong Synth Rock mood, the propulsive rhythms and English lyrics are akin to British Neo Prog and the crunchy, fiery electric riifs belong more to a Hard Rock band.A total mess, which leads to incosistency, no doubt, but there is too much energy and even some interesting compositions in here like the dynamic ''Don't damn the hunter'' or the symphonic ''Welcome in our lives again''.The rule here is the longer the tracks, the better the result.

Benninghoff's Bad Rock Blues Band - 1970 - Beethoven Bittersweet

Benninghoff's Bad Rock Blues Band
Beethoven Bittersweet

01. The Boggy Bayou Revival 6:45
02. The Error-atica 7:42
03. Da-Da-Da-Daah 8:36
04. It's Nota 3:11
05. Supersong 2:07

Bass, Guitar, Percussion – Kent Phillips
Clarinet, Saxophone – Don Hutchison
Drums, Guitar, Percussion, Organ – David Adkins
Flute, Saxophone – Roxanne Hutchison
Guitar, Effects [Special Effects] – John Rainey Adkins
Guitar, Piano – Larry Shell
Piano, Keyboards [Rocksichord], Organ – R.J. Benninghoff

Recorded At – Playground Studios, Valparaiso, Florida

American keyboard player, songwriter, arranger, and band leader. In the early 70s, R.J. Benninghoff lead the house band at Minaret Records label in Valparaiso, Florida. Frequently credited as an arranger under the alias Ar-Jay. Fuzzy, Psychedelic Bach... It just doesn't get much better than this...

If anyone out there has the follow up to this album from 1971, please share a copy with us... been trying to find a digital copy of it forever!

Arnold Bean - 1971 - Cosmic Bean

Arnold Bean
Cosmic Bean

01. The Long Stretch Of Blue
02. I've Got The Key
03. Indian Summer
04. Daddy's Got The Clap
05. Really Haven't Got The Time
06. Penny, Dear
07. I Can See Through You
08. Listening To The River
09. Fortune And Fame
10. Captain Marvel
11. Nature Boy

Recorded at Playground Studios, Valparaiso, Florida
Mentioned at the newest releases, page 28, in Billboard 10. Juli 1971

(Track list on covers and on center labels is different in different order)

Obscure rock and roll band based in Georgia in late 1960's/early 1970's; produced one Album "Cosmic Bean" (SSS International vinyl LP, bootlegged on 8-track tape) and appeared onstage with Black Oak Arkansas, Atlanta Rhythm Section, and prog-rockers YES, among others; in later years, re-badged as Michael Guthrie Band (MGB), the core trio of original members toured Europe and appeared at reunions of their older, wiser (HA!) friends and fans.

Athens rock lifers Mike and Herb Guthrie are well known for their decades of dedication to The Michael Guthrie Band. But theirs is a story that stretches back to the ‘60s, back to a band called Arnold Bean. 
When the teenage Guthrie brothers returned to the U.S. in 1966, after living in Germany where their father was stationed in the Army, they were pretty well-seasoned as musicians. The pair had already started their first band overseas, The Illusions, and it wasn’t long before they formed their first band in the States, The Bitter End, in Columbus, GA with friend Gary Burnette. Their father’s acceptance of a civil service job in the Augusta suburb of Grovetown moved the pair briefly, but it was long enough for their new Augusta-area presence to have a significant impact on the band that would become Arnold Bean.
“There was a kid at school that was forever saying, ‘My brother plays in [legendary Southern pop group and Roy Orbison’s backing band] The Candymen, blah blah blah.’ Later, they came to Augusta, and he introduced us!” explains Mike. “They knew we were in a band because we dressed like one—of course we were in awe because The Beatles had opened for them with Roy Orbison and they had just finished a package tour with the Small Faces.
They suggested we get up and play a short set during their break… We did, and ripped through some Jimi [Hendrix]-style feedback jams and made a mark, somewhat.” Fast-forward a year, and The Candymen were booked for a two-week stand at Mr. K’s Klassic Kat, a Saigon-themed club and, as Mike puts it, “sleaze hole Columbus nightspot,” and the Guthries’ band, now known as Arnold Bean (a thumbed-nose response to what Mike calls the then-popular “Bill & the So-and-So” type of band name), convinced the owner of the club to let them play the 15-minute intervals between The Candymen’s sets. He went for it and offered the group $50 a night.
The Candymen remembered Arnold Bean from the previous year and, impressed with their sound, suggested they travel to Valparaiso, FL to play their stuff for Playground Studios owner and known Southern producer Finley Duncan. Duncan thought they had something, and secured a two-LP deal through SSS International Records, a division of Sun Entertainment (i.e., Memphis’ Sun Records) best known for releasing Jeannie C. Riley’s “Harper Valley P.T.A.” The label’s staff, who didn’t seem to have much love for Arnold Bean, chose the album title Cosmic Bean instead, and assembled suitably spacey artwork for the band’s 1970 debut without any input from any of the bandmembers. A couple friends of the band managed to push the album steadily to hipper customers at Columbus, GA record shop Dr. Jive’s, but, needless to say, it didn’t catapult the band to fame. They never recorded that second LP (“The label didn’t ‘get’ my new songs,” says Mike), although Cosmic Bean has become something of a collector’s item in the 46 years since its release.
In the beginning, Arnold Bean played school dances, army bases (including a riotousgig that got them banned from Ft. Benning), frat parties, etc., but as the era of outdoor festivals spread across the country and into the South, the band played more events of that type. A favorite venue, though, was the short-lived underground Columbus club The Electric Toadstool. “Arnold Bean was very eclectic. We were counterculture… and it was also the outlet for my first original songs. [That’s] no big deal now, but in 1971 we would show up and play hours of unheard originals,” says Mike. “We were a bit radical and ahead of our time, so trouble often ensued.” When Burnette decided to take a break from the band in 1973, bassist Ritchie McNally took his place, and the group evolved into The Michael Guthrie Band. Although the Guthries and Burnette (Herb on drums, Mike on guitar and Gary on bass) were the sole constants of the group, they also had several keyboard players (John Aiken, Mike Griffin, Tommy Lambert, Brad Robertson, Ed Locke and Todd Christiansen).

Virtually everyone I know that has bought this album has been disappointed with it. This almost entirely due to the misleading packaging. Granted, some might expect this to be a little "hokey", with a name like his, but he obviously doesn't take himself too seriously, even working in a play on his name in the album title. But with a title like "Cosmic Bean", and a cover like this on a 1970 album, most would assume that this has considerable psychedelic potential. To say that that potential is completely unrealized would be an understatement. But the real shame is that so many are disappointed over what this is not (psych), rather than embracing it for what it is (folk/rock). I'll describe it as mostly folk flavored rock, with some country/rock moves, and subtle psych influences. It's got a nice blend of soft and somewhat harder mat'l, and features plenty of 12 string guitar, piano/organ, some limited use of steel guitar, and surprisingly good song writing. 
An excellent example of that old warning "don't judge a book by it's cover". Listen to this with a completely open mind, and you won't be disappointed!