Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Day After The Sabbath 60: Where There's Muck

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unzip password:  tdats
TDATS 60 is a collection of tracks that feature brass instruments. Not often associated with hard rock, I set myself this challenge and found some really great music in the end. There was a bit of a "Brass Rock" movement within the progressive scene around the late 60s/early 70s with bands like Blood Sweat & Tears and Chicago being at the commercial forefront. Then there were the lesser-known acts like the UK's Heaven, CWT, and Walrus who embellished their hard rock and heavy jazz sounds with brass.

We start with a real rarity that I must credit an online friend of mine, Marc, for bringing to my attention as I surely would not have found it any other way. Jeff Sturges' Universe was a hard rock big band recorded live at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas in 1971. Sturges was a member of the One O'Clock Lab Band at North Texas State and went on to become musical director for Tom Jones. Dean Parks, guitarist of the ensemble, was also a member of The One O'clock Lab Band before moving to Los Angeles to work with Sonny and Cher in 1970. Dean is best-known through his many contributions to albums by Steely Dan.

Next up is Minnesota's Crow, and yes, they were the originators of Evil Woman. It appeared on their 1969 album Crow Music, a song soon to be immortalised as Black Sabbath's first single in 1970. Strangely enough, it was also covered by Ike and Tina Turner as 'Evil Man'. Kent, UK's "CWT" made an album of brass-flecked hard rock in 1970 called The Hundredweight, lead by the gravelly-voiced Graham Jones, and the next track is one of my favourites on this volume, that I found on a compilation which celebrates a famous 1971 Mexican rock festival, Festival Rock y Ruedas de Avándaro. División Del Norte used horns-a-plenty, in their energetic mix of sounds. The name "División del Norte" (Eng: Northern Division) came from an armed faction formed following the call to arms from Francisco Madero at the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution in 1910.

The Blood, Sweat & Tears track is taken from their 4th album "BS&T 4". It the heaviest track from this otherwise pop/jazz rock orientated New York ensemble, recorded at a time when they were losing their underground credibility having taken part in a United States Department of State-sponsored tour and recorded a soundtrack for a Barbra Streisand movie, The Owl and the Pussycat. Southampton, UK's Iguana were a very short-lived act who managed to get one album recorded on the Ploydor label before being adopted as Jess Roden's backing band for a few years, effectively ending their own original music writing. Lillestrøm, Norway's Undertakers Circus recorded two albums of brass'n'roll, they are one of the only non-english singing bands here and Birmingham, UK's Galliard had two albums on the Deram/Nova label, which concentrated on the new progressive rock movement of the time, and is a planned theme for a forthcoming comp...

The Alan Bown (originally The Alan Bown Set, and later just 'Alan Bown') trod the well-worn path from 60s psych to early seventies proto-prog, and featured some nice arrangements with the emotive vox of Alan Bown himself. At one point they also included the afore-mentioned Jess Roden, on their 1968 album "The Alan Bown!". This track is taken from the next album 'Listen' which developed a slightly harder edge. Having found Sandston, Virginia's Short Cross for vol53, they are perfect contenders for this one too. An equal mix of blues, hard rock and extra instrumentation, with musicianship and a big production that belies the band's small label and humble origins...doomed to fade into obscurity.

Track 12 features versatile keys man Brian Auger, who had a commercial day job with his backing band The Trinity and collaborations with Julie Driscol (of 'This Wheels on Fire' fame), and a prog night life with bands like Mogul Thrash (see vol20) and his solo 'Oblivion Express' work. Black Cat is a great fun track.

Portsmouth, UK's Heaven debuted at the Isle of Wight festival and were managed by its organiser Rikki Farr. Their debut (and final) double-album "Brass Rock 1" was an ambitious affair which experimented a lot, with patchy results but it does have some of the hardest rocking brass rock I have found so far. Get a load of the dirty bass in "Number 2". The comp ends on a track from a band called 'Room' that regulars here will know I like a lot, I have been awaiting a reason to use this one. Cemetery Junction [Parts I and II] is a gargantuan song of wide vision that distils Room's hard rock, blues and jazz tendencies perfectly into 8 and half minutes of proto-prog bliss. There's even a hint of Sabbath's jazzy swing in the riffs, awesome stuff!

Track List:

01. Jeff Sturges and Universe - Never In My Life (Mountain cover) (1971)
       from album"jeff sturges and universe"
02. Crow - Evil Woman / Gonna Leave a Mark (1969)
       from album "crow music"
03. CWT - Simon's Effort (1973)
       from album "the hundredweight"
04. División Del Norte - It´s A New Day (1971)
       from compilation "festival rock y ruedas de avándaro" (2002)
05. Walrus - Who Can I Trust (1970)
       from album "walrus"
06. Blood, Sweat & Tears - Go Down Gamblin' (1971)
       from album "bs&t 4"
07. Iguana - Iguana (1972)
       from album "iguana"
08. Undertakers Circus - Mor Norge (1973)
       from album "ragnarock"
09. Galliard - Skillet (1969)
       from album "strange pleasure"
10. The Alan Bown - Curfew (1970)
       from album "listen"
11. Short Cross - Nothin' But a Woman (1972)
       from album "arising"
12. Brian Auger & The Trinity - Black Cat (1968)
13. Heaven - Number Two (1971)
       from album "brass rock 1"
14. Room - Cemetery Junction [Parts I and II] (1970)
       from album "pre-flight"

Thanks for listening! Rich

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Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Day After The Sabbath 59: Too Much Of Nuthin'

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password:  tdats
TDATS 59 is another various artist collection. We begin with Chicago's Winterhawk, a band I found during my southern rock searches and they kick start the comp in full-throttle metal fashion. This is one of their earliest tracks taken from the demo collection "There and Back Again". Next up we have two tracks from "Rog & Pip", a duo that evolved from Coventry, UK's 60s beat group The Sorrows. They only made this single but both sides show an aptitude for awesome hard rock so it's a shame there was no more. There is very little information to be found on Octopus, they recorded one album of melodic but somehow heavy pop/psych in 1971, I find this track Restless Night has a very addictive quality and would be perfect cover material for the stoner doom scene's new darlings, Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats!

The UK's Home produced 3 albums of fairly light prog in the early 70's, the third of which includes this track 'The Old Man Dying' with a great juxtaposition between sweet emotive acoustics and heavy riffing. They were also a springboard for AC/DC's Cliff Williams and Wishbone Ash's Laurie Wisefield no less. Fitchburg, MA's "Pugsley Munion" created a single album in 1969 and they did a great job of mixing garage psych, blues and hard rock. "Take My Soul" has an addictive groove. I have used Green Bullfrog once before, way back in the midst of time, but I had to stick this one in, some how not really catching on to it a couple of years ago, the track here is a hell for leather jam that actually manages to make the most of the not inconsiderable talent that got together for one day only to record this jam session album, including Procol Harum's Matthew Fisher, Albert Lee, Ritchie Blackmore and Ian Paice.

We head into proto-NWOBH territory with the UK's Warlord, they had a posthumous 2002 release of material that was reputedly recorded around 1975 and if so, it does show in places a kind of more modern metal sound. Newport, Wales' Blonde On Blonde are up next, I used the previously on the Welsh Vol56, amongst their proggy psych a few fine hard riffs emerged as in the quirky "Happy Families". London, UK's Strider made a couple of hard rock albums in the mid-70s and mastered a brash confident piano-laden sound, if not particularly original. "Searching The Clouds" is the heaviest cut from their 2nd album, 1974's 'Misunderstood'. Atlanta's Law evolved into a tight funk-rock unit through the 70s but their early material, which has been posthumously collected on the "Law - First Session" album, was pure driven hard rock, exemplified here by 1972's motoring "Ain't Been Here In A Long Time".

Sacramento's Joshua reputedly only pressed 50 copies of their subtly-heavy west coast style psych album and the track 'Open Your Mind' has a satisfyingly deep bass riff. Next up is LA's Goodthunder, I used them previously on vol55 and think the album is good enough to warrant one more track, this time the short and grooving 'Sentries' which again is based upon a rock solid bass groove. This installment ends with a track taken from the Rockadrome re-issue of Ultra, reputedly a Texan band headed by Homer's guitarist Galen Niles, who dealt in some blistering late 70s twin-guitar hard rock, definitely one for Thin Lizzy fans....

Track List:

01. Winterhawk - Too Much of Nothin' (1978)
02. Rog & Pip - War Lord / From A Window (1971)
03. Octopus - Restless Night (1970)
04. Home - The Old Man Dying (1973)
05. Pugsley Munion - Take My Soul (1969)
06. Green Bullfrog - Bullfrog (1970)
07. Warlord - Face Of The Sun (1975)
08. Blonde On Blonde - Happy Families (1971)
09. Strider - Searching The Clouds (1974)
10. Law - Ain't Been Here In A Long Time (1972)
11. Joshua - Open Your Mind (1969)
12. Goodthunder - Sentries (1972)
13. Ultra - Battery (1977)

Thanks for listening! Rich

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