Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Day After The Sabbath 107: Song of Tears [Austria]

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Herzlich willkommen auf TDATS #107, a collection of music from Austria. I was surprised at how little typical TDATS-ready music was recorded in this country. I was expecting that it's connection with Germany would lead to lots of similar styles and artists to that country's amazing rock history. Surprisingly, although Austria does have a rich tradition of it's own music, the psych, prog and heavy rock that Germany excelled in did not seem take hold there. Going back a lot further, it has of course had an astounding influence in classical music with the likes of Mozart, Beethoven, Strauss and Haydn. Maybe Austria's pride in these legends has encouraged a tendency for listeners and artists to stay within the realm of traditional music?

Another factor is of course that small countries near very prolific larger countries will tend to lose their upcoming talent across the border. Having been reading about many bands that did make it on to record, it seems that back then the national pop radio station Hitradio Ö3 had a disproportionately strong control over what bands were publicised and thus in demand, and in turn what bands received recording contracts....maybe the station had an agenda?  Maybe there were many more great bands that we can't possibly remember now, that never even got a chance to be recorded or documented.

TRACKS
01. Novak's Kapelle - Doing That Rhythm Thing (1968)
       single
02. No Bros - Backstage Queen (1982)
       from album 'Ready For The Action'
03. Drahdiwaberl - Kaiserhymne Pink Punk Shirt (1979)
       from album 'Wiener Blutrausch'
04. Lazarus - Awaking of Lazarus Part 2 (1973)
       from album 'Lazarus'
05. Harri Stojka Express - The Jungle (1978)
       from album 'Sweet Vienna'
06. Glashaus - The Waiting Game (1977)
       from album 'Drinking Man'
07. Blowin Free - Song Of Tears (1981)
       from single [1981] and album 'Enemy' [1983]
08. Hide & Seek - Crying Child (1970)
       single
09. Acid - Moonshine Girl (1975)
       from album 'More Acid'
10. Minisex - Valium (1979)
       from albums 'Wiener Blutrausch' [1979] and 'Minisex' [1980]
11. Christian Kolonovits - Wake Up!!! (1976)
       from album 'Life Is Just a Carnival'
12. Gipsy Love - Job In The Docks (1972)
       from album 'Here We Come'
13. U8 - Sherpin' Man (1982)
       from album 'Pegasus 1001'
14. Art Boys Collection - I'm Riding On An Arrow (1972)
       from album 'Stoned Wall'
15. Wolfgang Ambros - UFO (1976)
       from album '19 Class A Numbers'

If my memory serves me correctly, the only Austrian band that has appeared here before is Paternoster, back on volume13. What Austria did have was 'Liedermacher', and 'Deutschrock', and lots of Schlager pop music. Some of the early beat and psych bands that don't appear on here but deserve mention are The Charles Ryders Corporation, and the Albatross single "I Am Dead". One compilation I would recommend to those who want to hear some more is "Beat & Psych in Austria (1966-1972)".

'Wiener Blutrausch' punk sampler LP 1979
'Wiener Blutrausch'
punk sampler LP
1979
Due to these difficulties, I have widened the net and reached up to the early '80s. A happy by-product of this is that I discovered Vienna had a very healthy punk/post-punk/new wave scene starting in the late '70s, and this comp has benefited from some welcome added variety in those styles. Two great comps exist to find out more about that: "Wiener Blutrausch sampler LP 1979" and "Es Chaos is die Botschaft! Es wurschtln es! Austrian Punkscene 78-84". If you are partial to a bit of obscure early '80s metal then you'll also be happy, the widened net has caught three metal bands; No Bros, Blowin Free and U8. There were at least two Austrian heavy metal singles made in 1979, from Angelina (now known as Gallows Pole) and Blind Petition. Alas I have been unable to find them anywhere.

An honourable mention goes to a few more progressive rock bands that didn't make it on here. Eela Craig are one of the best-known. They were undoubtedly a very talented band but their brand of fusion/symphonic prog isn't really TDATS material. Some other lesser-known, shorter-lived bands in a similar vein were Orange Power, Kyrie Eleison, Klockwerk Orange and Isaiah. While they all had some promise, what I could find from them didn't quite make the grade.


The Bands

Novak's Kapelle Hypodermic Needle /  Doing That Rhythm Thing 45 (1968)
Novak's Kapelle
Hypodermic Needle /
Doing That Rhythm Thing 45 (1968)
We open with a super heavy injection of lysergic psych from Novak's Kapelle. They hailed from Vienna, where most of our acts originated. "Doing That Rhythm Thing" is the b-side to the 1968 "Hypodermic Needle" single, which has appeared previously on TDATS vol33. While making this I found this excellent TV appearance on the Austrian show 'Countdown' in 1969. One astute observer commented that 'Hypodermic Needle' is very similar to The Animals' 1966 single "Inside Looking Out" and they are certainly correct. Strangely, Novaks seem to have taken a long break from recording in the '70s, but successfully (in the artistic sense) reinvented themselves as a hard rock band around 1977, releasing live EPs and a first full album called "Naked". These contain some quirky and amusing rockers with a definite punk edge and some rural US sounds, very different to the '60s singles, although still showing the same level of talent. At some point late in their life they were joined by guitarist Harri (Harry) Stojka, who features two more times in this volume, including his first band "Gipsy Love".  There is tantalisingly little info to be found about Novak's Kapelle, there's a bit more info here and I will carry on looking...

No Bros in the '80s
No Bros in the '80s
Innsbruck's No Bros were one of the first Austrian heavy metal bands to make a full length album. Klaus Schubert and Michael Ausserhofer started the band 'Target' in 1974. Nik P. Opperer, Freddy Gigele and Franz Heumader joined up and they became "No Bros". Ö3 Radio presenter Gotthard Rieger was a fan, then became their manager. This was quite bizarre as Ö3 was not known for playing metal, apart from maybe the softest of metal ballads. The success of a live album “Heavy Metal Party” (1982) and it's single "Good Morning, Sir" galvanised them to make the studio LP “Ready for the action” at Dieter Dirks' Colonge studio in the same year. From this, the closing ballad "Be My Friend" was a big hit single that earned them the money and following to tour Europe, playing with bands like Motörhead, Saxon, Girlschool, Uriah Heep and Krokus. Unfortunately internal disagreements and lineup changes caused the band to lose this momentum and they split in 1986, after two more LPs. They have however played various re-unions since, and released some more live material from those events. Thanks to spirit-of-metal.com , austrorock.at and the No Bros fan site for this info.

Stefan Weber in 1993
Stefan Weber in 1993
Stefan Weber started Vienna's underground band Drahdiwaberl in 1969. I found the track "Kaiserhymne Pink Punk Shirt" on a great compilation released in 1979 called "Wiener Blutrausch" [Vienna Bloodlust] which includes a few emerging post-punk/new wave bands, on which Drahdiwaberl were no doubt an influence. Stefan Weber himself made this sampler and he adorns the cover with a typically insane image of him licking a knife. Stefan is a supporter of the "Wiener Aktionismus" leftist student movements, and derisive political satire was a major part of Drahdiwaberl's stage show. Stefan has also stated that "It has always been my goal to make Drahdiwaberl the most extreme and obscene band, and I think we did that" (wikipedia).

This would seem justified as his stage shows have allegedly included live sex, even a staged 'gangbang' whilst masked as various politicians, pissing on the audience, cooking a pig on a spit while throwing various parts into the crowd. Amazingly, Falco was the bass player in Drahdiwaberl between 1978 and 1983, I remember well liking "Rock Me Amadeaus" on Top of the Pops! Being a covers band for a long time, Drahdiwaberl began writing their own songs in the late-'70s and started recording albums in the '80s, which continued with titles like "Mc Ronalds Massaker" until the final LP in 2004.

Lazarus LP (1973)
Lazarus LP (1973)
Neunkirchen's Lazarus was Peter Glatzl (guitar,vocals), Peter Fischer (bass), Alvin Waldner ( guitar), Walter Spacil (drums) and Helmut Sacher (lead vocals). The LP was lost for years, then found and released by the Shadoks label this year. "Awaking of Lazarus Part 2" is a killer slab or nihilistic heavy psych. It looks like my timing was lucky for making an Austrian comp! Here is the Shadoks press release: "Lazarus was founded by Peter Glatzl at the end of 1970 and they have played many gigs in Austria with various lineups until 1976. This amazing albums was recorded in Vienna 1973 in professional studio for Rex Records. Only 15 sample copies where pressed and only 5 copies ended up with the band members. Rex where known for releases of German folk music and Schlager. So they did know what to do with this far-out recording and did not release it. 


Lazarus
Lazarus
Among collectors Lazarus was a big mystery since nobody ever found a copy for the past 25 years. One day Hans Pokora located an original LP and the band as well so we where able to work out a deal. We where amazed but the great music and the professional compositions and recording. The story of Lazarus is been told as a psychedelic opera who emerges as a monster from his grave to spread terror and horror. 

All English vocals, amazing fuzz guitar all over, Zappa style arrangements, great vocals, tons of effects and tight drum sounds. Do not expect a naive Krautrock style, this is pure Underground as good as Open Mind and July with a good dose of psychedelia." There is a great interview with guitarist Peter Glatzl here at Psychedelic Baby webzine.

Harry Stojka Express Sweet Vienna LP (1978)
Harry Stojka Express
Sweet Vienna LP (1978)
Harri Stojka is a Vienese guitarist who was has connection to three of the tracks in this comp. He was a late member of the afore-mentioned Novak's Kapelle, and before that was in Gipsy Love, appearing soon. He also played with Peter Wolf and Karl Ratzer. In 1978 he started making his own LPs with The Harri Stojka Express, and "The Jungle" is taken from the first  of those albums, "Sweet Vienna". At this point Harry was moving away from from his previous rock playing to jazz/fusion and world music, but The Jungle has a heavy, funky riff. He is still active and played at the Vienna Jazzfest this year.


Glashaus "Drinking Man" LP (1977)
Glashaus "Drinking Man" LP (1977)
I know very little about Glashaus. They were Lupo Greil (vocals, guitar), Wolfgang Buettner (vocals, guitar), Hans Proebster (vocals, bass), Harry Stuempfl (vocals, piano, organ, harmonica) and Dieter Stuempfl (drums, percussion). They made one LP in 1977 called "Drinking Man" on the "Music Shop" label. It's a groovy upbeat rock album, sung in English. It's not progressive, but it has some cuts verging on hard rock, and there is some good organ work. The opener "Shine On Medas" is a Status Quo-like boogie number, and there is a southern/boogie feel to most other tracks. "The Waiting Game" and "Vertigo" are my TDATS picks. This album was hard to find and I must thank Lyrkoss at RYM for sending me the LP rip!

Blowin Free - Enemy LP (1983)
Blowin Free - Enemy LP (1983)
Vienna's Blowin Free are another heavy metal reprieve in proceedings. As one of Austria's first metal bands, they had "Song Of Tears" out as a single in 1981, and debut album "Enemy" in 1983. Enemy was definitely one of the heavier of the early Austrometal LPs, it is fairly derivative heavy metal, with punkish simplicity. It has a certain home-made charm and sounds like an attempt at thrash from guys who were not quite fast enough, so it's all kinda chugging mid-paced almost-thrash. The exception is "Song Of Tears" used here, which has a great NWOBHM feel. Vocalist Gary Wheeler is now in another Austrian metal stalwart, Blind Petition. The rest of the band was Robert Klammer (bass), Kurt Kalaschek (drums) and Martin Gellner (guitar). By the time of their third record, "The Knife and the Floosie" (1986), they had sped things up considerably. Unfortunately they went for a cheesy speed metal sound that lacks the character of "Enemy", seemingly prioritising speed over song-writing.

Hide & Seek
Crying Child / I Can Fly 45 (1970)
One of the few heavy psych tracks here is up next, thanks to Hide & Seek from Graz. They made four 45s between 1969 and 1971. It's a real fuzz feast, and although a happy upbeat ditty, packs in some serious psychedelic head-swimming. Quote: "Styria's capital Graz had a great Underground Beat scene back in the late 1960s but unfortunately most of the coolest bands never managed to produce a single - typically Austrian... However, the most influential formation of that small scene HIDE & SEEK actually released four (!!) 45-records between 1969 and 1971 of which the third's A-side, the relaxed psych-rocker 'Crying Child' even managed to hit the Ö3-pop-charts. Both tracks of that fine single are featuring nice psychedelic songwriting, fuzz guitars, haunted organs, drug-related lyrics and a healthy load of anarchy. Beware: Your kids might wanna kick some acid after listening to 'I can fly' (also compiled on 'Prae-Kraut Pandaemonium Vol 16'). Enough said: A great and really tough to find Garage-Punk-record."


Acid were a Vienna band that I must admit were not that great. They do seem to have been notable as one on the only vaguely psych/prog-ish Austrian bands that managed to get on major labels and hang around long enough to make a few albums. I scoured them all and was happy to find that I liked at least one track, "Moonshine Girl". It manages to take their commercial, fluffy sheen and make something unique by adding some decent atmospheric keyboard interludes, then welding it all to solid riffs and funky drumming. Founder Herbert Novacek went on to form the band Stress which had one album in 1981, that I have been unable to find thus-far. Original Acid guitarist Peter Koller went on to Wolfgang Ambros's band, appearing later on this comp.

Minisex
As one of the post-punk/new wave (aka the "Neue Deutsche Welle") entrants in this volume, Vienna's Minisex bring a polished but driving track, "Valium", also to be found along with Drahdiwaberl on 1979's "Wiener Blutrausch" sampler. The Neue Deutsche Welle spawned the likes of Nena (99 Red Balloons) and Falco (Rock Me Amadeus).

Christian Kolonovits
Life Is Just a Carnival LP (1976)
Vienna's Christian Kolonovits is a composer and producer who has been associated with many pop and rock acts. He also made a solo record in 1976, from which I have taken "Wake Up!!!". "Life Is Just a Carnival" is a rock-opera/concept album on which all the tracks meld together, it reminds me a little of the lighter-hearted parts of The Wall (if they could possibly be described as such) as it seems to be about one mans' struggle with life and society, and one of the parts begins with some background TV show dialogue. I wonder if Roger Waters was listening before The Wall? "It's all up to you" even sounds a bit like "Nobody Home". There's some quite heavy up-front guitar in there, and according to the credits, the main guitarist was Johan Daansen, of the Krautrock-lite Epsilon (see Vol22). Christian also worked with Wolfgang Ambros, coming up at the end.

Gipsy Love George Doggette             Karl Ratzer
Gipsy Love
George Doggette             Karl Ratzer
We move on to another act involving Harri Stojka. The "Gipsy Love" band seems to have been the starting point for many other careers, including those of Karl Ratzer, Peter Wolf, and Richard Schönherz. Karl Ratzer (guitar) and Harri Stojka (bass with Gipsy Love) are cousins, both of Roma ancestry, which may explain the bands' name. Keyboardist/pianist Peter Wolf is notable, as he went to the US after Gipsy Love, played in jazz bands, became a big band teacher, and played with Frank Zappa for years on the road and 11 albums. He became a successful producer and arranger, writing music for movies Top Gun, Pretty Woman, and arranging for acts including Jefferson Starship, The Who and Kenny Loggins. Gipsy Love made a southern US style soulful rock with piano,  brass and some orchestration. They had a big sound that was contributed to by George Doggette's charismatic vocals, sung in English. They are described in most places as hard rock but I don't agree. It's something closer a Chicago or B.S.&T. with less horns, and less glitz, and added Frank Zappa band attitude.  "Job In The Docks" is strange, gritty, grimy, and it certainly sounds like they enjoyed playing it. One can only wonder what this guy was doing in 'The Docks' and why his woman gave him a 'Chewing Gum' every morning. George Doggette's vocals make the song as much as anything else, they are so damn sleazy!

U8
For our third and final classic metal album, here's the best of the lot, from Nussdorf's U8. Allegedly, the bands' name was the idea of guitarist Manfred Seifriedsberger after he came back from a holiday in Italy, where he had found a jukebox which had his favourite song stored under U8. Their first single release was in 1981, and they made two full-lengths before splitting in 1988. Here's an interview with Günter Maier, who later went on to form Big Heat. Forgetting hard rock for the moment, in terms of metal, No Bros was almost there with their first album. It was however still rooted in '70s hard rock and the constant hammond organ and '80s synth sounds held it back too, whereas U8's debut LP 'Pegasus 1001' has more modern-sounding arrangements and production. The songs are also slightly better. "Sherpin' Man" is slow compared to the rest of the album, but I dig it's grinding doomy riff. It's not really fair to compare Pegasus 1001 to Blowin Free's debut, as I think they were aiming for different things, U8 is way more power metal than Blowin Free's attempt at evil thrash.

Art Boys Collection
Art Boys Collection
On to the final stretch now, we have Art Boys Collection from Andorf. Although maybe a few years behind their US/UK peers, they are still a rare example of good, sometimes-heavy psych from Austria. Their 1972 LP "Stoned Wall" (re-issued by Garden Of Delights in 2010) was a mixed bag, but the heavy cuts like "I'm Riding On An Arrow" are very good indeed. Like a lot of albums during the psych-to-hard-rock/prog transition, there is an awkward mix of experimental heaviness and staid ideas going back to the beat days or jangly pop of the Byrds etc. There are some comments from founding member Gerhard Egger here at Austro-rock-lexikon.

Here's what RDTEN1 at RYM pieced together about the band: "Singer/guitarist Gerhard Egger and drummer Hans Joachim Holz met at a college jam session in Linz, Austria.  The two discovered a common affinity for rock and roll, deciding to form a band.  Recruiting Holtz's brother Walter on keyboards, along with bassist  Johann Aigner, and guitarist Gerhard Bauer, they started playing dances and clubs as The Boys, followed by a change in name to The Art Boys Collection. With the third single providing the band with a massive Austrian hit, Lesborne rushed the band into the recording studio to record a supporting album. In spite of flaws, 1972's "Stoned Wall" is a collection that I've long found fascinating. 

With Egger responsible for ten of the twelve songs (Hans Joachim Holz penning the other two), the album wasn't particularly original, but served as a showcase demonstrating the influence American and English rock had throughout the rest of Europe, and in particular on these guys. With all of the material performed in English (accents were seldom a problem on this set), the album found The Art Boys working their way through an extensive catalog of past and then popular rock styles.  Unfortunately they never released the material they recorded for a planned follow-up."

Wolfgang Ambros
This set ends with a curve ball from Wolfgang Ambros from Wolfsgraben. "UFO" has a punk vibe, but he was a prolific and apparently influential singer song-writer who covered many themes and styles. He has released three cover albums (including songs by Bob Dylan, Tom Waits and Hans Moser) along with original pop, rock, blues and folk records. He's famously known for setting the then-new trend in the 1970s known now as Austropop. During his career he has collaborated with countless respected Austrian musicians, including some names in this comp like Christian Kolonovits. At the relatively tender age of 62, he is still actively recording and performing. According to his bio on wikipedia, "His most famous songs are "Schifoan", "Es lebe der Zentralfriedhof" and "Zwickt's mi". "Schifoan" is like an anthem for the Austrian ski tourism and industry. Many Austrian skiers—but also many others—know the lyrics of this song."


Danke für Ihre Aufmerksamkeit, und gute Nacht!

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Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Day After The Sabbath 106: Tanah Dosa [Indonesia]

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unzip pass:  tdats

Koes Bersaudara To The So-Called "The Guilties"
Koes Bersausara
To The So-Called "The Guilties" LP
 (1967)
"Indonesia, due in large part to the restrictions imposed by its past dictator Suharto, is better known for the coffee it exports than for the music created on this island nation." - npr.org

Bands had it hard in Indonesia in the sixties - Koes Bersausara were imprisoned for three months for making western-style rock! After release, into a new regime which was more lenient towards their music, they made the album To The So-Called "The Guilties" (1967). The track 'Poor Clown' is considered to be about ex-President Sukarno, who's old regime was responsible for their imprisonment.
Welcome to volume 106, the first part of my attempt at exposing the early hard rock, psych and prog of Indonesia. The cover art is an interpretation of Leyak, "Leyak are said to haunt graveyards, feed on corpses, have power to change themselves into animals, such as pigs, and fly. In normal Leyak form, they are said to have an unusually long tongue and large fangs. In daylight they appear as an ordinary human, but at night their head and entrails break loose from their body and fly."

Let's get this cleared up right at beginning, there were very few out-and-out TDATS-heavy bands making records in the '60s and '70s, maybe enough to be counted on one hand and most of them were short-lived; AKA, Shark Move, God Bless, Giant Step and SAS Group are maybe the main contenders. This opinion is of course based only on the bands' recorded output, unfortunately I'll never have the luxury of watching bands such as AKA live, which by all accounts could have been quite an experience with their heavy riffing and late front-man Ucok Harahap's famed stage antics. Of all these, Shark Move was probably the most contemporary-minded heavy band (for all of its one album) in Indonesia; they were apparently taking notice of the developments of Deep Purple and Uriah Heep when they were happening. Other bands, while good, seemed a few years behind the sounds of their western inspirations. This is undoubtedly due in part to the restrictive environment for rock, a hang-over from the '60s.

A mention must go to Now-Again records' great 2011 compilation "Those Shocking Shaking Days", which is one of the best starting points to find out about Indonesian rock. Also to Strawberry Rains' awesome AKA retrospective "AKA: Hard Beat". Hearing "Do What You Like" from this was one of the inspirations for making some Indonesian comps.

TRACKS
01. Harry Roesli - Jangga Wareng (1976)
       from album "Titik Api"
02. Shark Move - Evil War (1972)
       from album "Ghede Chokra's"
03. Superkid - Trouble Maker (1976)
       from album "Troublemaker"
04. D'lloyd - Meninggu Dam Mencari (1972)
       from album "D'Lloyd"
05. Duo Kribo - Mencarter Roket (1978)
       from album "Vol 4: Duo Kribo original soundtrack"
06. Black Brothers - Tanah Dosa (1979)
       from album "Volume Perdana"
07. Giant Step - Childhood and the Seabird (1975)
       from album "Mark 1"
08. C'Blues - Tinggal Kenangan (1973)
       from album "Volume 2: Ikhlas"
09. The Gembell's - I'm Really Down (1972)
       from album "Pahlawan Yang Dilupakan"
10. Deddy Dores - 9 Tahun
       from album "Donny and the Road"
11. Benny Soebardja and Lizard - Circle of Love (1977)
       from album "Gimme a Piece of Gut Rock" [The Lizard Years]
12. The Singers - Oh Tuhan (1968)
       from album "First Album"
13. God Bless - Rock di Udara (1975)
       from album "Godbless"
14 Golden Wing - Hari Yang Mulia (1975)
       from album "Volume 2 : Senyum Harapan"

references

Koes PlusAKA, from Surabaya, East Java, made some fantastically heavy tracks from 1970 onward, but never made a heavy album. The feeling pervades that some bands operated like a production line, knocking out albums to order. Koes Plus (which is what Koes Bersausara became) for example made about 35 LPs between 1969 and 1980 alone! They often had utilitarian names like "Pop Melayu Vol. 4", "Hard Beat Vol. 2" or merely "Volume 14". Koes Plus would make one album all of a particular style ("Pop Melayu" being pop music in the Malay language and style) and for the next they would concentrate on something different like hard rock, as in the two "Hard Beat" volumes. 

AKAThe afore-mentioned AKA treated their albums in a similar way, they would hedge their bets on record and include a couple of excellent hard rockers along-side what I presume they considered mass-appeal pop songs. This makes for a schizophrenic listening experience indeed! In 1970 AKA made an album entitled "Qasidah Modern" which was entirely in the Qasidah Modern style, at type of Islamic pop based on Arabic religious poetry, which during those times extolled a virtuous life and offered moral advice to teenage pop fans that may otherwise be corrupted by the vices of rock n' roll.

The history of hard rock and prog starts with some formative '60s bands, which were the launch pads for many enduring names in Indonesian rock. These included Koes Bersaudara (later known as Koes Plus), The Peels, The Steps and The Rollies. Secluded along-side these is Panber's (made up of the four Pandjaitan brothers), which was probably the most popular band in the country in its heyday, and is still going.

The Tielman BrothersMany of the bands mentioned above appear in this volume, and more will be in the next one planned for Indonesia. In the case of pop bands like Koes Plus, Panber's, The Gembell's and The Peels, I have attempted to find the most suitable tracks for your heavy-loving ears, as these bands generally made mellow music. To punctuate the rock I have included some diversions like the all-girl "The Singers", some joyous folk rock from D'lloyd and a psych ballad from C'Blues. A brief mention goes to The Tielman Brothers, the main instigators of what became known as Indo Rock. Their wild shows with dual guitar pyrotechnics made a big impression in northern Europe. This was rock n' roll played by youngsters of Indonesian descent who's families had re-located to Europe, The Netherlands being one of the main hotbeds due to it's colonial ties with Indonesia. Check out TDATS vol 64 for Dragonfly, some more ex-pat Indonesians in The Netherlands.

Bands In this Volume

Harry Roesli Titikapi Titi Kapi01. The comp starts with some real cultural flavour. Bandung's Harry Roesli is an important name in progressive rock in Indonesia. He made experimental albums in the '70s, as well as rock albums with The Gang of Harry Rusli. He touched on Dylan-style protest rock and also folk styles, which is demonstrated by the track I used here. On his 1976 solo album "Titik Api" he used a host of traditional instruments, to unique effect on our opening track, Jangga Wareng, a traditional arrangement of Gamelan mixed with prog.  Gamelan is Javanese ensemble music which uses mostly gong and xylophone-type percussive instruments.

Shark Move
Shark Move
02. Moving on to Bandung's Shark Move, for some Deep Purple worship of a high order. The band was Benny Soebardja (vocals, lead guitar), Bhagu Ramchand (vocals), Sammy Zakaria (drums, vocals), Janto Diablo (vocals, bass, flute) and Soman Loebis (vocals, keyboards, piano, percussion). Good friends Benny and Soman (who first got together in garage band The Peels) started the band, which recorded the album Ghede Chokra's in 1972 with only 100 vinyls pressed. Later it would be pirated on cassette tape, the main format in idonesia in the later '70s, and re-issued in the 2000's after re-discovery around the globe. It was a truly unique sound for an Indonesian band. Standing out from the sweetly pleasant pop music of the times, it must have been a real blast for anyone first hearing it. Nobody else had recorded anything this advanced or progressively heavy in the country at that point. Tragedy struck soon after the albums' release and Soman was killed in a traffic accident. No doubt very upset, and unable to find a suitable replacement for his keyboard skills, Benny folded the band. Benny then started up Giant Step, which fortunately reprised Shark Move's legacy and became an equally important prog band.

03. Bandung's Superkid, formed in 1976, was a power trio super-group consisting of Jelly Tobing (drums, vocals. ex-The Minstrels, ex-C'Blues), Dedy Stanzah [Deddy Sutansyah] (bass, vocals. ex-Giant Step) and Deddy Dores (keyboards, guitar, vocals. ex-Giant Step, ex-God Bless). Most of those names mentioned; C'Blues, Dedy Stanzah, Deddy Dores, Giant Step and God Bless will appear again on this volume, and in the next Indo comp. Along with AKA and SAS Group, Superkid were one of the heaviest, brashest rock bands of the later '70s, and they continued into the '80s. The track i hvae used here is from their 1976 album 'Troublemaker'. It has more than a ring of 'Immigrant Song' about it...

D'Lloyd04. D'Lloyd, another band that did not play TDATS type stuff, made a lot of albums. On a quick listen through, I was charmed by this track from their debut album. It begins with some storming flute prog, fuzz guitar, and continues in a melon collie psych arrangement, featuring nice violin and organ. The band is lead by Syamsuar (Sam) Hasyim and they are still around. Some more info here in Indonesian.

05. I have written about Duo Kribo previously in Vol98, which is dedicated to them. 'Duo Kribo' literally means 'frizzy duo', a name which makes sense when you look at both frontmens' wild hairdos. The band made four albums around 1977-79 and had good success, selling many thousands of cassette tapes (the predominant format in Indonesia back then). They are usually referred to as Vol. 1 to 4, though it seems some of them were sub-titled in some formats, with names like "Neraka Jahanam" ("Blasted" or "Savage Hell") and "Pelacur Tua" (Old Whore). The final one was a soundtrack to a rock'n'roll movie called 'Duo Kribo' that starred both singers. The movie was lost for decades but prints have been recently recovered and restored

Duo Kribo was started by singers Ucok Harahap, after he left AKA, and Achmad Albar, who was the front man of God Bless. I have been able to deduce that a lot of the Kribo guitar duties were carried out by Ian Antono of God Bless, but I'm not sure about the rest of the musicians as they are rarely mentioned or credited.

The Black Brothers
06. The Black Brothers, from Papua Barat, are listed at RYM as Marthy Messet (lead vocals), Sandhy Betay (backing vocals), Hengky MS (guitar), Jochie Phiu (keyboards), Amry Tess (trumpet), David (saxophone), Benny Betay (bass) and Steve MR (drums). They played mostly pop and Reggae, but this nicely fuzzy rocker is from their 1979 album 'Perdana'. 'Tanah Dosa' means 'Land of Sin' and is sung in Tok Pisin, the language of Papua New Guinea.


Giant Step07. Following on from Shark Move, Bandung's Giant Step was started in 1972 by Benny Soebardja (guitar). Their sound carried directly on from Shark Move in the vain of Deep Purple-ish heavy prog. Benny had been in one of Indonesia's early bands, The Peels. They were short-lived, but they were one of the first bands to gain acclaim abroad, in Singapore and Malaysia for instance. Giant Step had many members through it's 20+ years existence, including previously mentioned names, Dedy Stanzah, (bass, 1971-72), Deddy Dores (keyboards, 1972-76) and Jelly Tobing (drums, 1985-92). The band also included Harry Soebardja (guitar, 1978-85) who I'm guessing was Benny's brother (unconfirmed) and Yockie Suryoprayogo (keyboards, 1971-72) who was a keyboardist of note, playing in God Bless and Contrapunk. He gained more notoriety in the late '70s and '80s, with soundtracks and solo albums. Wikipedia claims that during a low point of drug use in the '70s, Yockie stole and sold a ring belonging to Harry Roesli to fuel his habits.

C'Blues
C'Blues
08. Bandung's C'Blues included Soleh Soegiarto (trumpet) and Utte M. Thahir (bass), who were the founders of Freedom of Rhapsodia soon after. The rest of the band was Adjie Bandy (sax, violin, vibe, vocals), Idang (drums, leader vocals), Mamat (organ, vocals, former band The Comets), Nono (bass, vocals, former band Djoko Dolok) and Bambang (guitar, vocals). Later on Mamat left and Yongky (organ, alto sax, vocals) joined. I am trying to find out if 'Yongky' is the afore-mentioned Yockie Suryoprayogo but have been unable to thus far....the hard thing about researching Indonesian bands is the lack of information out there (especially in English), compounded by the fact that multiple spellings are often used for some peoples' names. Violinist Adjie Bandy later formed Contrapunk, a self-proclaimed “bach-rock” symphonic prog group who will probably appear on the next Indonesian comp. C'blues made two albums. Again they are quite mellow affairs, and not serving any heavy nuggets, but I was  taken with the track 'Tinggal Kenangan' (Living Memories) from the second LP 'Ikhlas', with its haunting organ work and violin.

The Gembell's
The Gembell's
09. There are two good tracks on the first album from Surabaya's The Gembell's. These are the two with english names, and "I'm Really Down" is one of them. Unfortunately (for us) these are the two heaviest tracks I could find, over five albums or more, as they pursued a pleasant pop sound. Their name come from an abbreviation of the Indonesian for "Joy of Learning". Having met as students, early on they moved to Singapore and made a name for themselves there. Moving back to their homeland, it is said that the band always used a lot of social comment in their songs. One song called "Peristiwa Kaki Lima" criticized the negative affect that trade and industry was having on the appearance of their once beautiful home city Surabaya, and it was banned from radio. The Gembell's made 10 albums. There is an interview with the band's leader Victor Nasution, here.

10. Deddy Dores was originally a keyboardist but also plays guitar on some of the many albums he's worked on. He was in Giant Step, Superkid, God Bless, Fantastique Goup, Freedom Of Rhapsodia and the Deddy Stanzah band. I found this solo record on Henk Madrotter's extremely cool blog, specialising in Indonesian rarities. I do not know what year it was made, but it sounds like the right time period for TDATS. "9 Tahun" is based on groovy acoustic guitar, with Deddy's vintage synths over the top. His first solo album was Tinggal Kenangan, released in 1973, with additional band members collectively named "The Road".
Benny Soebardja The Lizard Years11. Benny Soebardja, born 1949 in Tasikmalaya, Jawa Barat, was an important guitarist who started out in The Peels in 1966. This was one of the first bands to get over-seas recognition. His resume also includes Shark Move, Giant Step, and briefly, Fantastique Group. Fantastique Goup was a pop group that made a few albums, and similarly to AKA, made some music in the "Qasidah Modern" style, this being a great one: Allahu Akbar. Benny made three highly sought-after solo records in the '70s, which were independently released. Strawberry Rain has re-issued them all; each album separately, and all together as "Benny Soebardja – The Lizard Years". The Lizard part of the name comes from Benny's backing band, an ensemble which contained members of both Giant Step and Harry Roesli’s Philosophy Gang. Benny had no label influence while recording these offerings, making them true private press recordings, and the spirit of his excellent work with Shark Move and Giant Step pervades it all. 

He was truly one of the pioneers of prog in Indonesia with the level of talent and inventiveness that can only be compared to two or three other acts at the time, and stands up with the international greats of the seventies. The track I used here, "Circle of Love", demonstrates this with awesome soloing and twisting progressive passages. Over at Psychedelic Baby blog there's a great interview with Benny; here.

12. The Singers were an all-girl garage band that started 1967, one of the few along with the better-known Dara Puspita (who will appear on the next Indo comp) and others like Yanti Sisters, The Beach Girlsa and Sitompul Sisters. They were Tuty Thaher (bass), Sally Sardjan (organ), Henny Purwonegoro (drums) and Shinta Dungga (guitar). The Ballad "Oh Tuhan" [Oh Lord] is a delightful adaptation of "House of The Rising Sun" and makes for a nice mellow break in proceedings. One of their garage tracks "Hand of 1000 Dances" was used on the compilation "Java-Java: Indonesia Screaming Fuzz, Garage Stomp, Indo-Rock, Beat Surf Vol. 2"




Godbless
13. God Bless only made one album in the '70s, but it's one of the best. Similarly to Shark Move and Giant Step, which it had strong ties to, the music was very much influenced by Deep Purple's organ-heavy prog. God Bless counted these familiar names amongst its ranks at various times; Soman Loebis, keyboards 1973-74 (Shark Move, The Peels), Achmad Albar, vocals (Duo Kribo), Deddy Dores, keyboards 1973 (Giant Step, Superkid, Freedom Of Rhapsodia, Deddy Stanzah band) and Yockie Suryoprayogo keyboards, 1973-76, 1988-2002 (Giant Step, Contrapunk). As one of the only bands up to the job, they were selected to support Deep Purple's show in Jakarta in 1975, a show which had some tragic consequences. They were more active in the '80s and have issued albums sporadically up to 2009. They have appeared on stage as recently as July 2011.

Golden Wing 'Senyum Harapan' LP
(1972)
14. To close this volume we have Palembangs' Golden Wing. They arose from the break ups of the The Black Stone and The Pioneers, around 1970. In June of 1975 Golden Wing supported God Bless at the Balai Sidang Convention Center in Jakarta. The track used here is called "Hari Yang Mulia" (Day of Majesty) and may have traditional/religious roots, but I have been unable to confirm that. Many thanks to rockmaniac at RYM for sending me a higher quality rip of this track, it's an awesome sweeping psychedelic ballad and a perfect way to end this volume...


Thanks for listening! Rich
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Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Day After The Sabbath 105: Goin' Down [covers special]

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unzip password:  tdats

Freddie King's 'Getting Ready...' LP
feat. 'Going Down'
Welcome to a tribute to one of the eternally durable and most frequently-covered rock songs of all time. It has the fast chugging riffage that made it perfect for any hard rock bands that were looking for a good blues song to cover back in the early days, which I guess is why it happened so often. What inspired this volume of TDATS is the frequency with which I have run into it, a large number of previous TDATS-appearing bands have recorded it.

I had always absent-mindedly presumed it was a blues standard, by some famous bluesman from way back. On formulating this comp, first investigations found that person was probably Freddie King in 1971, which seemed a good enough answer, although he was a later-generation blues player. While coincidentally listening to the great Moloch album soon after, I noticed that they had a version of Going Down, but the album was made in 1969. This really confused me! So at this point it became a real mission to find out what was going on...

There's no wasting time with an intro in the Freddie King version of this song. It seems he set the president with that urgent, repetitive nature of the opening D chord, followed by the descending scale, getting down to business straight away and sounding mean as hell with it. It definitely has that essence of what is now called heavy metal, which is what I dig about it so much, and it's clear a lot of early heavy bands agreed!

Track List
01. Walter Rossi - Goin' Down (1976)
       from album 'Walter Rossi'
02. Booker T. & The M.G.'s - Slim Jenkins' Place (1967)
       from album 'Hip Hug-Her'
03. Moloch - Going Down (1969)
       from album 'Moloch'
04. Stone The Crows - Goin' Down (1971)
       from album 'BBC Live In Paris 1971'
05. Freddie King - Going Down (1971)
       from album 'Getting Ready...'
06. Chicken Shack - Going Down (1972)
       from album 'Imagination Lady'
07. Freedom - Going Down (1972)
       from album 'Freedom Is More Than a Word'
08. Dixie Peach - Going Down (1975)
       from album 'Dixie Peach'
09. Jukin' Bone - Going Down (1972)
       from album 'Whiskey Woman'
10. Karthago - Going Down (1976)
       from album 'Live At The Roxy'
11. Tommy Bolin & Energy - Goin' Down (1972)
       from album 'The Energy Radio Broadcasts 1972'
12. Incredible Hog - Goin' Down (1973)
       from reissue 'Volume 1 +4'
13. Hydra - Going Down (1974)
       from album 'Hydra'
14. Don Nix - Going Down (1972)
       from album 'The Alabama State Troupers Road Show'

The history of the song is entwined with producer/writer/musician Don Nix, the band Moloch, and the bluesman Freddie King. So entwined in fact, that it's been hard to get to the bottom of it. Most people familiar with the song will say that it's a Freddie King original, but it's not the case. Listen to the Tommy Bolin track in this comp, even he introduces it as a Freddie King song. The first time it appeared on record was the s/t album from Memphis's "Moloch" in 1969. At the time, Moloch guitarist Lee Baker was friends with Don Nix, who produced Moloch's sole album, and has writing credits on most of its tracks.

Don Nix has a connection to Freddie King also...having started out as saxophonist in Memphis R&B group The Mar-Keys, he became an important figure in "Memphis soul", producing for the associated Stax and Ardent labels. The Mar-Keys would evolve into R&B legends "Booker T. and the M.G.'s", which included such names as Steve Cropper. Freddie King's 1971 album 'Get Ready...' was produced by Don, with him writing two tracks (including Going Down) and co-writing two others.

Lee Baker
Regarding Moloch, I recently got in touch with the last-surviving member, bassist Steve Spear. He had this to tell me: "I remember being in the old Ardent studios on National with Moloch. I can’t remember what I played on (we are talking late 60’s).  Lee Baker played bass on the tunes I didn't play on. I didn't play on the single [that came out in 1972 after the album]. Don Nix actually recruited me for bass after the original bassist, Mike Reddock I think his name was, bowed out. As you know Don was in the Mar-Keys and Lee was in some of the early bands in Memphis. They both had an affinity for Furry Lewis. So I would assume that’s how they knew each other. I was the youngest in the band so I didn't know the earlier history of those guys. 


Steve Spear in recent times
I’m involved in a project right now with Don. He is producing an album for Danny Green in Memphis. Drummer Joel Williams and I played on 4 tracks, 3 of which made it to the album. I think they are seeking a deal with Sony."

Amongst other projects, Steve currently plays in "Down 2 Five". Following the tragic murder of Lee Baker in 1996, I have found some information regarding his later band Mud Boy and the Neutrons and Moloch, here,  for those who are interested.

Just to make things even clearer, in 1972 Don sang and released his own version of Going Down, as a single taken from the album "The Alabama State Troopers Road Show", a travelling revue designed to showcase the talents of various Southern musicians who had been signed to the Elektra imprint.

So where does this leave us when trying to get down to the roots of this song? I am very grateful to TDATS fb group member Robbert, for pointing out that the instrumental track "Slim Jenkins' Place", on the 1967 Booker T and the M.G.'s album "Hip Hug-Her", has the same bass line as Goin' Down. Writing credits on that track go to Al Jackson, Booker T. Jones, Donald Dunn and Steve Cropper. The track is included in this comp. Could it be that Don adapted this short instrumental into his own thing with Goin' Down? It sure looks that way, as he is not credited as writer of "Slim Jenkins' Place". With the record being on the Stax label, maybe he did however have some indirect input...

Also included here are versions from some bands that will be well-known to TDATS readers; Walter Rossi (Vols 523), Chicken Shack (Vols 20 & 74), Freedom (Vols 79 & 100), Jukin' Bone (Vol 10) and Incredible Hog (Vols 463). The Incredible Hog version is taken from the Rise Above Relics reissue Vol 1 +4.

Along for the ride come some new-to-TDATS names that some readers may think it's well about time...



Stone The Crows
The awesome pipes of Maggie Bell and Stone The Crows introduce the only female-vocalled version here; "Stone The Crows were formed after Maggie Bell was introduced to Les Harvey by his elder brother, Alex Harvey. After playing together in the Kinning Park Ramblers, they rejoined in a band named Power, later renamed Stone the Crows (after a British/Australian English exclamation of surprise or shock) by Led Zeppelin's manager, Peter Grant. The band was co-managed by Grant and Mark London. London was associated with Lulu as the co-writer of her signature song, "To Sir With Love" and was also married to Lulu's manager, Marion Massey. London had also managed the predecessor band Cartoone, which featured Les Harvey on guitar, and in which Peter Grant had a financial interest.

Original line-up.
Maggie Bell, vocals. Les Harvey, guitar. Colin Allen, drums; ex-Zoot Money's Big Roll Band and John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, later performed with Focus. James Dewar, bass; later performed and sang with Robin Trower's band. John McGinnis, keyboards. The band's first two albums were recorded by this line-up, with Bell's vocals "reminiscent of Janis Joplin".

Second line-up
McGinnis and Dewar left in 1971, to be replaced by Ronnie Leahy and Steve Thompson. Jimmy McCulloch would subsequently replace Harvey as lead guitarist following Harvey's accidental on-stage death by electrocution at Swansea's Top Rank Suite in May 1972. As he was the band's primary songwriter as well as Maggie Bell's romantic partner, Harvey's death almost led to the Stone the Crows' breakup.

Stone the Crows ultimately broke up in June 1973. Peter Grant would continue to manage Maggie Bell's career following the band's breakup, with Bell subsequently recording two solo albums under Grant's tutelage, Queen of the Night (1974) and Suicide Sal (1975), and a 1981 album with the Grant-managed band Midnight Flyer. Bell may be best known, however, for her session work on Rod Stewart's 1971 album Every Picture Tells a Story, in particular her co-lead vocal with Stewart on the album's title track (credited as "vocal abrasives"). Jimmy McCulloch joined Paul McCartney's group, Wings, in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1974."

Dixie Peach LP rear cover
Dixie Peach (link) made one album in 1974. Their version of Goin' Down here is one of the most different sounding ones, having a long build-up and a slower vibe over-all. "Dixie Peach from Ohio, playing Southern blues-rock, has risen again. Formed in 1972 by slide guitarist extraordinaire, singer and songwriter Ira Stanley with Steve Williams (keyboards), Mike “Roscoe” Rousculp (bass), Tony Paulus (guitar, keyboards) and Jerry Barnhart (drums), they released one album (out of print) before breaking up in 1975. Reforming in 1998 and releasing Butta in 2002, they jam out better than ever, their spicy-as-barbecue sound featuring the  original members save for drummer Steve Benson. Beginning in 1973, Dixie Peach started touring full time and played gigs from Buffalo, New York to Tampa, Florida and released its first album in 1974. Dixie Peach has been an opening act for many national artists including Joe Walsh, Lee Roy Parnell, Johnny Winter, Cheap Trick, Tesla, Larry Carlton, Roy Buchanan, Spirit, New York Dolls, Billy Cobham, Blue Oyster Cult, and many others."

Jukin' Bone.
L-R: Mark, Tom, Joe, George & John, 1970
With a nice fast n' heavy interpretation, we have Jukin' Bone. Taken from Ron Wray :- "With its lineup finally set in the fall of 1971, [NY Syracuse band] 'Free Will' changed its name to "Jukin' Bone."  Now with a recording contract with RCA Records the band entered Jimi Hendrix's Electric Ladyland Studio in New York City in 1972  and recorded their first album for RCA "Whiskey Woman".  Now a lineup change as drummer Tom Glaister married and left the band. He was replaced by two drummers Kevin Shwaryk & Danny Coward

Their album "Way Down East"  followed (1973) along with two singles "Whiskey Woman" (1972)  and "Cara Lynn' (1972). One very important fact of note, Jukin' Bone was one of the most electrifying live bands you will ever see. They went on tour, but never received enough promotion across the country, although they perhaps came very close to national stardom. 

Their November-December 1972 tour consisted of the following stops- Alabama (Montgomery & Huntsville), Arkansas (Ft Smith), Iowa (DesMoines), Kansas (Wichita), Louisiana (Monroe, Shreveport), Minnesota (Duluth, Minn,-St Paul), Missouri (Columbia), North Carolina (Ashville), North & South Dakota, Tennessee (Memphis), Texas (Austin, Dallas, Harlingen, Houston, Odessa, San Angelo, Waco) and Wisconsin (Madison, Sheboygan).


 July 14, 1973, drummer Danny Coward departed leaving Jukin Bone just a four man group (Mark Doyle, Joe Whiting, John DeMaso & Kevin Shwaryk). In the fall of 1973, Jukin Bone', one of Syracuse's greatest groups, disbanded. Mark Doyle went to play with DUV (Dave Hanlon, Rick Cua) and David Werner, Joe Whiting joined Bobby Comstock on tour and the rest went their separate ways."

Berlin's Kathago, generally known for fusion/funk rather than hard rock or blues, played this cover live in 1976, available on their 'Live at the Roxy' LP. Allmusic :- "Just months after their formation in Berlin in 1970, Karthago began recording music for their first album. Karthago's sound was influenced more by North American rock than by anything that was coming out of Europe, composed of a tapered and rather simplistic mixture of light funk and freestyle jazz with a basic rock & roll substratum for everything else to rest on. Within the album's nine tracks are melodies that are accommodating and recognizable, quite different than what was otherwise coming out Germany's music scene in the early '70s.

"String Rambler," "Black Fire," and "Morning Surprise" best represent Karthago's breezy, undemanding air, led by the bright organ playing of Ingo Bischoff and fastened by Wolfgang Brock's unmitigated drum work. "Why Don't You Stop Buggin' Me" and the shimmering "wow" of "But I Know"'s keyboard-guided intro lead into some electrifying pieces, with comparisons to Steppenwolf, Procol Harum, and even early Chicago arising from the melodies. Although labeled as a progressive band, Karthago's sound is more along the lines of German rock rather than prog, with shorter song lengths and a tendency to balance out the keyboards, guitar, and percussion equally throughout their music. After their fourth album in 1976, Karthago broke up, with Gerald Hartwig joining the more prominent Guru Guru and Bischof hooking up with Kraan. Second Step (1973) and 1974's Rock 'N' Roll Testament begin to show signs of commercial leanings, but their last installment, entitled Live at the Roxy, is just as impressive as their debut album."


Tommy Bolin's Energy
Energy were formed in 1971 in Boulder, Colorado when Tommy Bolin and Bobby Berge left Zephyr (see Vol 49). They appear with a Radio broadcast, having never released an official LP. The members in the most well-known lineup were: Tommy Bolin: guitar, Jeff Cook: vocals & harmonica, Tom Stephenson: keyboards & vocals,  Stanley Sheldon: bass and Bobby Berge: drums. "Energy didn’t release any official albums or singles, but did complete a number of studio recordings, some of which appeared later on Tommy Bolin ArchivesCD releases. The first lineup of the band featuring Steig concentrated on long intense jams, often featuring Steig’s flute more than Tommy’s guitar. The band’s appeal was notably widened after adding a vocalist, beginning with Gary, then Jeff and later Max. The greatest amount of existing live material features Jeff Cook, and shows the band ranging from slow blues to rocking blues to hard rock to marathon fusion jams, often in one performance. 

Their studio output showed a band that would have made the big time if they had the power of a record deal. Some of the material written by Tommy with John Tesar and Jeff Cook went on to be used by Tommy in later bands. “Got No Time for Trouble” and “Praylude/Red Skies” were used in James Gang, “Lady Luck” with Deep Purple and “Dreamer” was used on Teaser." Lot's more information here at the official Bolin website.

Hydra LP 1974
Hydra are a band that I am still saving for another southern rock comp. They supply a nice southern rock interpretation here with great enthusiasm and cool vocals! "Hydra debuted in 1974 via the release of the group's self-titled album. With the Dallas, Texas to New Orleans "Glitter Queen" setting the LP in motion, many would have expected that the song was recorded by a glam group. By contrast, Hydra rolled out of the deep South, where the un-glam NASCAR, grits and guns defined the slower-paced way of life. Nevertheless, "Glitter Queen" is a strong intro track that is competently chased by "Keep You Around" and "It's So Hard". A cover of "Going Down" and the lengthy "Feel the Pain" fill-out the rock 'n' boogie side A. The upbeat "Good Time Man" continues the down home party groove, and the shortest track from the album, "If You Care to Survive" is delivered with aggression. The seven-minute-plus "Miriam" closes the Hydra LP with a mellow arrangement. As part of the Capricorn Records family, Hydra should have been a larger player from the proud '70s Southern rock scene."

Alabama State Troupers Road Show LP cover
To finish off, we have Don Nix himself giving us the ultimate rendition of Goin' Down. A rip-roaring live stage performance. Toward the end of the song, Don admits he's been 'down' since he was two years old, and ad-libs the phrase "A chicken ain't nothin' but a bird, and a bird ain't nothin' but a fowl", which seems to come from an old Cab Calloway song called "Chicken Ain't Nothing But a Bird". Then he goes on to state how Furry Lewis (blues hero of Don Nix who was part of The Alabama State Troupers) hasn't been kept down for 78 years. Does this shed more light on the origins of Going Down? He also Allmusic :- "Don Nix had deep Southern soul and blues roots, getting his start playing with Steve Cropper and Donald Duck Dunn in the Mar-Keys. These roots aren't as evident on his 1972 project Alabama State Troupers as his association with Leon Russell, whose pioneering work can be heard all over Road Show, the double-LP that captures the wild revue Nix took across America in 1972. Cut firmly from the same cloth that Russell provided for Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs & Englishmen revue, along with the similar Delaney & Bonnie band, the Alabama State Troupers is a careening rock & roll outfit that touches upon soul, country, gospel, and, in its occasional frontman Furry Lewis, blues. 

Lewis stepped into an absence left by Lonnie Mack, a superficially more suitable match for Nix, co-vocalist Jeanie Greene, and the Mt. Zion Band & Choir, but Lewis gives this an unexpected sense of community and heritage, emphasizing how the Alabama State Troupers stretch back far. That said, Road Show is very much an album of its time. Specifically, it is part of the Leon Russell axis, sounding like a kissing cousin to Delaney & Bonnie due to Nix's traded vocals with Greene, but its attitude is slightly closer to Mad Dogs & Englishmen, often feeling so overstuffed that it is about to burst. Nix isn't a vocalist of Cocker's stature, nor is Greene close to Bonnie Bramlett, which makes the wildcard of Lewis all the more compelling; he gives them gravity but also a bit of mischief. Nevertheless, the star in Alabama State Troupers isn't who is on the mike but rather the group itself, a collective that plays the kind of rambling, raucous American music that was briefly in vogue in the early '70s. Few have picked up this thread since, but that may be why it still sounds vital: it's teeming with passion, conviction and ideas that are still potent years after the music has receded into history."

Thanks for listenin', and keep Goin' Down!

Rich

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