NEW MUSIC FRIDAY brings you a number of RSD DROP TWO releases that promise to take your collection in a new direction.
Many, many reviews from the passel of RSD prizes that we hope you will take time to explore AND hopefully grab on Saturday, July 17th!
RUTHANN FRIEDMAN - Hurried Life: Lost Recordings 1965-1971 [LP](Tompkins Square)
Raised as a Folk singer, yet blessed with that outsider point-of-view, Friedman is a melodic songwriter whose elegant simplicity shines through on these recordings. "Windy" (which was later picked by The Association) carries a majesty with it that was replaced by bounce. While the title cut finds its common "drone" chord and allows her to vocally run like Tim Buckley.
ROY BROOKS - Understanding [3LP](Reel To Real)
Drummer Roy Brooks was a very Max Roach-ian drummer and bandleader. After playing with Horace Silver ("Song For My Father,") the master timekeeper played with Wes Montgomery, Pharoah Sanders, Blue Mitchell, Milt Jackson, and even Charlie Mingus. This 1970 live triple album was recorded live in Baltimore and finds Brooks leading a quintet through some near-Bop AfroFuturist jams. Woody Shaw and Harold Mabern fit right into Brooks' mercurial ability to accompany and drive the beat. Spread over six sides, these massive compositions/improvisations all benefit each player - but Brooks' mighty time behind the kit is what you are truly after.
RAVEN - Back To Ohio Blues [LP](Permanent)
Like Circuit Rider and what we call "outsider" Hard Rock, "Back To Ohio Blues" feels like a dusty road trip on a motorcycle where you take the back roads and only stop where you see other hogs. Raven is a possessed shouter who needs to get it all out. Whether it's the Motorik-meets-James Brown shouter "Raven Mad Jam" or the ending 13-minute title track magnum opus, "Back To Ohio Blues" is raw and one man's existentialist blast off from this mortal coil.
BARNEY WILEN - La Note Bleue [LP BOX](INA/Elemental)
This marks the second RSD release from the French tenor saxophonist, and to be honest for an Eighties Jazz album - it is rich with quality, great performances, and arranged like the Blue Note records of old. Wilen has a wonderful tone and his small jazz group knows how to swing the familiar ("Besame Mucho" and Wilen's great arrangement of "Harlem Nocturne") and a few originals. When he takes on classics like Monk, Wilen expresses a reverence by keeping them in his relaxed framing. A fantastic jazz album for anyone from novice to expert.
WAR - War [5LP BOX](Avenue Records/Rhino)
This massive box has been a long time coming. If War were only known for their panoply of singles and weaving of Latin rhythms and melodic ideas into their music, that might be enough to merit owning their Greatest Hits. "War' collects their first five albums after leaving the aegis of Eric Burdon. This departure allowed the band to explore more than just Psychedelic Funk/Soul. On their own, they seemed to know they were tackling societal ("Me and Baby Brother") and cultural differences (*City, Country, City.") Their second album establishes their limits (celebration music like "All Day Music") and the low rider trek into terra incognita that remains "Slippin' Into Darkness." However, it is the third and fifth albums in this set that truly define the group. Already an esteemed and respected live band, "The World Is A Ghetto" works out all the angles of their "slow Soul" in lengthy explorations that never feel like they were just jamming ("Four Cornered Room" uses its transitions perfectly.) Proven hitmakers, "Why Can't We Be Friends" is their huge reach at making a Pop album and thankfully they really hit it out of the park and even score another few hits before Disco begins its hostile takeover.
MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP - Live at the Manchester Apollo 1980 [2LP](Chrysalis)
When Schenker stepped into Britain’s UFO his tough riffage and well-constructed solos completed the band’s transition from Space Rock to Hard Rock. In his wake, UFO found success and even a few AOR Radio standards (four of which appear here.) However, Schenker was 18 when he left his brother’s band Scorpions to join. By 1978, Schenker wanted his own group. Still, opportunities followed him. First, back to Scorpions for “Lovedrive.” Then auditioning for Aerosmith and being called by Ozzy to replace the late, great Randy Rhoads (who idolized Schenker - just look at that Flying V!) Joined by vocalist Gary Barden, bassist Chris Glen from The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, now legendary drummer Cozy Powell and keyboardist Paul Raymond who came over from UFO, MSG took flight on their first album. “Armed and Ready” is a brilliant opener, while “Cry For The Nations” made a great standout single. On “Manchester,” the band race through every song from the debut album (with the exception of Schenker’s acoustic solo “Bijou Pleasurette.”) MSG is in full control at all times, demonstrating a slow build on “Lost Horizons” while letting “Into The Arena” find its NWOBHM gallop. “Manchester” is a prize from early Schenker that really captures his enthusiasm and blinding guitar skills.
R.STEVIE MOORE - On Earth [2LP](Earth Libraries/Thinkindie)
If you look at the catalog of this longtime outsider Pop Rocker, it can induce dizziness. Moore has been recording since 1968 and continues to pound out songs even today (2 in 2019!) This carefully curated collection makes a great place to get to know the genius of his hooky Pop (the gorgeous “I Wanna Hit You” from 1977’s “Swing and a Miss”) and his weirdly catchy wild excursions (the disco (?) funk of 1980’s “Sit Down” from “Clack.”) “On Earth” is 28 songs mostly culled from his heyday in the Seventies. However, touching on later tracks like 2011’s “Pop Music” keeps one interested in exploring the whole catalog for similar diamonds. Brilliant.
MAGMA - Simples [10"](Music on Vinyl)
If you have ever wondered what Prog Rock would sound like in its own language, it is time to meet Magma. These five single-length songs recorded from 1971 to 1974 make a great first step into Christian Zander's espousal of Zeuhl. Written in Kobaian, these paeans to a fictional planet are Zappa-esque in arrangement ("Tendei Kobah") while finding that early Gong-ish sweet spot ("Mekanik Kommandoh" played live here, but also found on their best album "Mekanik Destrukctiw Kommandoh.")
Various Artists - BROWN ACID: TEN HEAVY HITS: VOLUME ONE [LP](Riding Easy)
On their ongoing series of Brown Acid compilation, Riding Easy records goes full bore into the pre-stoner/proto-Metal/homemade Hard Rock of the late Sixties/early Seventies. Minus the jumps in audio quality, all of them are eminently listenable. For RSD, they culled the best ten tracks and made just 500 of these collections of rare early headbangers. East Sussex's Factory slays on the Deviant-esque swirl of "Time Machine," then you leap farther out with the compressed guitar trickery and the barbaric howl of Texas' Kanaan. However, the one that will decorate your playlists from here on out is the searing Luke and The Apostles track "Not Far Off" whose bluesy RAWK will burn the ears of all who hear.
HAWKWIND - Greasy Truckers Party [2LP](Parlophone)
Early Hawkwind is possibly best represented on their numerous live albums. Having become first the lords of Ladbroke Grove, then taking their cosmic extravaganza to the myriad of free festivals in the English countryside, by 1972 Hawkwind were the masters of their universe. So when the Greasy Truckers Party was organized the headliners walked into a dispute between the laborers and the government that led to a power outage and a lengthy setup - the oscillators and synths went down. Leave it to the band to plow on ahead anyway. While the February 1972 show does not have the quality of other unearthed live shows (the BBC show in September is a barnburner,) hearing the band begin to assemble their set into a “narrative” form is riveting. “You Shouldn’t Do That” is chaotic, “Paranoia” absolutely frightening, and the jam on “Brainstorm” a thrilling conclusion. However, it is the version of “Silver Machine” that is most welcome. Omitted from the 1972 compilation, as a single in the summer of 1972 it becomes their biggest hit.
CHARLES LLOYD - Manhattan Stories [2LP](Resonance)
On this first-on-LP release, two live sets come alive on wax as Memphis-born saxophonist Lloyd runs his one-of-a-kind quartet through some mid-Sixties Hard Bop. When Lloyd and guitarist Gabor Szabo tangle on “Sweet Georgia Bright” there are several moments where the runs culminate in Free Jazz-ian collision and their wild machinations are early hints at the fever Miles will bring in just four years when he runs the voodoo down. On a big ballad like “How Can I Tell You,” Lloyd blows sweetly, Szabo constructs beautiful chords - but they both let bassist Ron Carter shine. Finally, between the two shows, you have two opportunities to evaluate “Lady Gabor.” The Judson Hall version is mysterious and serpentine thanks to Pete La Roca Sims on the drums. The second version at Slugs’ Saloon is furious. Carter’s bass is muscular and Lloyd soars into some serious flights of fancy on his flute. “Manhattan Stories” represents a missing chapter in Lloyd’s recording career. Making his debut with Columbia in 1964, he debuted this quartet on his second album “Of Course, Of Course,” but his “Nirvana” album will sit unreleased until 1968. Just one year after these lengthy recordings, Lloyd will assemble his classic quartet and breakthrough with “Forest Flower” bringing together Jazz and Rock fans for the first time.
ULTRAVOX - Vienna (Steven Wilson Mix) [LP](Chrysalis)
The New Romantic movement in Great Britain does not receive a lot of credit for moving Art Rock essentially to the mainstream. As a reaction to Punk, the New Romantics embraced fashion first and were fueled by the sleek music of Roxy Music and David Bowie. Once they began to make their own tracks they quickly moved from the cloakrooms at Covent Garden to the stages where Punk once briefly reigned. Midge Ure (who once played in the punk band Rich Kids with former Sex Pistol Glen Matlock) and Billy Currie played in the first New Romantic group, Visage. Their bond over making music with synthesizers led them to Rusty Egan's revamp of Ultravox. Working with legendary German producer Conny Plank in 1980, Ultravox quickly began creating stylish Synthpop. Its Bowie-esque melodrama proved to be singleworthy. When the first two singles charted (especially the pulsating "Sleepwalk,") the new Ultravox exceeded all previous expectations. However, the languid beauty of a song they wrote very quickly proved to be their breakthrough. "Vienna" would go Top 10 in eight countries, New Romantics like Ultravox, Depeche Mode, and Duran Duran would then dominate the early Eighties. 1980's "Vienna" remains the first true piece of the puzzle.
SISTERS OF MERCY - The BBC Sessions [LP](BBC/Merciful Release/Warner UK)
The importance of Sisters of Mercy continues to grow as Goth groups again grow closer to the mainstream. In their heyday, the Leeds-based Andrew Eldritch-led group managed to record three separate hit albums with three different lineups with only Doktor Avalanche - the drum machine - staying on board. In the early days of Alternative music, bands like Bauhaus, Specimen, The Lords of The New Church, and more exposed the darker edge of Pop. However, it was Sisters of Mercy who melded danceable beats, striking guitar parts, and consistent bass lines to take their underground music above the earth. Recorded from 1982-1984, these three BBC sessions have never been available before. Not only do you get early versions of "Walk Away" and "No Time To Cry" before they appear on "First and Last and Always" in 1985, but you also get Eldritch leading the Sisters through covers of Stooges ("1969,") Hot Chocolate ("Emma,") and Dolly Parton ("Jolene.") Three of the tracks here would make John Peel's famous Festive 50 for the years that followed. The first wave of Sisters would end in 1985 with serious acrimony and a race between Eldritch and his former bandmates to pick up 25,000 pounds from their publisher for being the first to release anything new.
FINALLY…COMPILATION OF COMPILATIONS
Various Artists - STUDIO ONE SOUL [2LP](Soul Jazz/Redeye)
Any Studio One collection is generally worth its weight in gold (this vinyl is yellow) for two things: the songs you know and the rarities you don’t. So, ‘Studio One Soul” takes a wealth of great American Soul music and hands it over to the best Reggae artists of the Seventies. Tops from this double vinyl slammer is Norma Fraser’s searing cover of Cat Stevens’ “The First Cut Is The Deepest” (done in the style of P.P.Arnold.) Others to dive into include Sound Dimension doing Booker T. and The M.G.’s, Otis Gayle smoothing out the Spinners, and the Heptones’ Leroy Sibbles grooving on King Floyd.
Various Artists - ORIGINAL FUNK 70 [7” BOX](Soul Jazz/Redeye)
Various Artists - GET IT! : HEAVY FUNK AND CLASSIC BREAKS [2LP](Tuff City/Redeye)
It’s a FUNK double whammy with these sets of mostly New Orleans Funk and Soul from the late Sixties and Seventies. “Funk 70” boasts the classic Winstons single “Amen, Brother” and “Color Him Father” featuring one of the most famous breaks of all time. Beyond that Jackie Harris features some killer James Brown licks (with a hint of Archie Bell & The Drells) and the Untouchable Machine Shop hits that wah-wah HARD.
“Get It!” is a blistering collection of 45’s that were likely distributed to radio stations and jukeboxes from the trunks of cars. A few are already staples (Honey Drippers and Eddie Bo,) a few have appeared elsewhere (The Gaturs and Ike Turner are straight burners,) but the groove is why you will come back to this one again and again. New Orleans legendary Jazz drummer James Black holds down some serious Fusion-y Funk. Greensboro, NC’s City Council, Ltd. goes tough and brassy on “You Got It All, Ain’t No More.” Speaking of brassy, Glenda Dove wails on the head-nodding FUNK of “It’s Gotta Be Something Else.” However, it is Sonny Jones going neck-deep into the Eddie Bo Funk (with James Black on drums) of “Sissy Walk” that will have you counting to four and backing this one up for more.
Various Artists - BEHIND THE DYKES 2: MORE BEAT, BLUES AND PSYCHEDELIC NUGGETS [2LP](Music on Vinyl)
A sequel to the surprise bestseller of last year, “Behind The Dykes 2” is another wonderfully assembled treasure trove of Dutch garage, Pop, and Psychedelia. Gathering singles from roughly 1966-71, the whole scope of this project is to highlight how their music is changing from what is playing around them. The Zipps are the first to emerge from the Garage sound with a Beatlesque swisher. The Skope borrows from The Grass Roots but build their track to a mighty peak. Q65 sounds neat and bratty almost like they would fit into L.A. 1965. As things grow more Psychedelic, the instrumentation of Attention! makes them a standout, while Zen hit that Strawberry Alarm Clock/Freakbeat pocket. Pushing ahead, as the quality improves you are treated to early cuts from Brainbox and their strange Prog/Pop jangle, Cuby + The Blizzards (Dutch hitmakers) with a strange bellowing almost Blood, Sweat, and Tears-ish romp through “Appleknockers Flophouse” and finally groups like Pineapple crank up the fuzz. Like so many singles that have been reissued in the past several years, “Behind The Dykes 2” gives you a glimpse at a country finding its own music and vibrant music scene.
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