Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Day After The Sabbath 74: Merda Dream [Deram label special]

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During my searches I often find great bands that had releases on Deram, it was clearly a forward-thinking label that was not afraid to take risks on the new hard rock and progressive sounds of the late 60's and early 70's, along with cutting-edge pop of the time. Here is a compilation of some of the best, most of which make their TDATS debuts. There are many other bands that I could have included (Eyes Of Blue, Room, Walrus and Zakarrias are just a few) but I have used them previously and wanted to keep this comp mostly fresh.

A bit of history :- Deram Records was originally set up in 1966 as an outlet for a new recording technique called 'Deramic Sound', which used the latest recording technology of the time to make stereophonic sound more natural and convincing. It was a subsidiary of Decca records, the name "Decca" dates back to a portable gramophone called the "Decca Dulcephone" patented in 1914 by musical instrument makers Barnett Samuel and Sons. That company was eventually renamed The Decca Gramophone Co. Ltd.

And so we begin......Jerusalem  made one album that was produced by Deep Purple's Ian Gillan, who wrote these words for the s/t album's liner notes: "This is the first album by Jerusalem, a band which excites me very much; they are rough, raw and doomy with their own strong identity. As they are young and a bit green, they don't follow many rules, so their material is almost crude - but still immensely powerful in content. I believe that, whenever possible, the work of writers and players in their formative stages should be recorded; before inhibition and self-consciousness set in, before fire and aggression die down, and while they are still absorbing influences and doing things which others might consider 'uncool'. Most important though, before they might develop that self-imposed rigidity which afflicts so many. I hope none of these things happen to Jerusalem, we'll have to wait and see......I hope you like it as much as I do." This album has since been remastered by Rockadrome.

Keef Hartely Band
Keith Hartley started his career as replacement drummer when Ringo Star left Liverpool outfit Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. Keith later helmed a number of albums starting with 'Half Breed', from which this track 'Think It Over' is taken,  featuring Miller Anderson's awesome wah guitar. Miller will come back to us on track 7....

Rockets are bit of a fun entry here, they were a Paris band who's only Deram release was the Canadian issue of their 1976 debut LP. They mainly played a glammy synth/pop sound but I like the track here, and it's NWOBHM-ish guitar runs.

Bulldog Breed were a kind of early version of the wonderful band T2 (See Vol2 & Vol40), they both shared Keith Cross (guitar), Peter Dunton (vocals, drums) and Bernard Jinks (bass). Their single album, 1969's 'Made in England' is well worth checking out as a good example of where hard rock riffs were mutated out of heavy psych.

Clark Hutchinson's total output was patchy at best, but the track here 'Free To Be Stoned' is their worthy passport to underground rock history. This paean to the weed is uniquely fun, groovy and something you must hear at least once in your life!

Stud featured Taste drummer John Wilson, Taste bassist Richard "Charlie" McCracken and Blossom Toes guitarist Jim Cregan. They made a couple of albums that were a curious, mainly unfocussed mixture of prog, jazz and hard rock, but they turned out a few good tracks and 'Sail On' is breezy, catchy prog-lite with a tough backbone that will sound good while cruising to your next destination.

Miller Anderson was a Scottish guitarist who was in two of the other bands here, Keef Hartley's as mentioned, and later in Chicken Shack who comes up soon. He is great singer and player, though most of his solo material is quite soft, 'Nothing In This World' is probably one of the most infectious and instantly likeable tracks I have ever come across. Miller has played with other names like Savoy Brown, and pertinently he played on John Lord's 'blues project' shows last year.

Chicken Shack
Chicken Shack are up next, a catch-all blues band that has included many musicians of status over the years, including Christine McVie (Then known as 'Christine Perfect'). Stan Webb's guitar is at times totally blistering when he really lets go, and 'Daughter Of The Hillside' is a great example, his tone and magical use of wah is pure rock fury.

We take a rare departure towards jazz on the next track, Johnny Almond was a multi-instrumentalist who went on to John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and Mark-Almond. On his 'music machine' albums Almond's talents include tenor, alto and baritone saxophones, flute, alto flute, organ, vibes, mellotron and bass clarinet. Get ready for big grooves with 'Solar Level'.

Very little is known of Megaton, other than they included English guitarist Les Humphries and keyboardist Jimmy Bilsbury (both were previously in the Les Humphries Singers) who recorded this sole album in Germany. It's an weird mix of hard rock and latin percussion. At times it clearly borrows from Led Zep, but it is also equally based on soul and funk. Though it's probably best described as a shameless exploitation album of the kind that there were lots at this time, it has some great moments and lots of it's own period character. The singer is rumoured to have been Nicky Moore, later of Hackensack, Tiger and Samson.

Soulful groove continues with Sunforest's track 'Magician in the Mountain'. They were three American girls (Terry Tucker, Freya Houge and Erika Eigen) who sought a fortune together in London, got noticed by a Decca talent scout straight away and quickly recorded one album which did not do well, but their spot in history was cemented by Stanly Kubrik's use of two songs for the soundtrack to A Clockwork Orange; 'Overture to the sun' and 'Lighthouse Keeper'.

Frijid Pink
A blogger's favourite, Detroit band Frijid Pink's claim to fame in their time was a heavy cover of House Of The Rising Sun. Other than that their first two albums are some well-regarded frantic fuzzy blues with great vibrato vocals. The band was so popular in their native Detroit area that a fledgling Led Zeppelin (who were just then getting started from the remnants of The Yardbirds) opened for them at Detroit's Grande Ballroom. Frijid Pink often shared billing with the likes of the MC5, The Stooges and The Amboy Dukes.

The compilation ends with the UK's East of Eden. They used a novel mix of instrumentation including electric violin, with studio effects, to become one of the earliest progressive rock bands. I was happy to find a rare example of a 60s promo video for the track "Northern Hemisphere" here.


01. Jerusalem - When The Wolf Sits (1972)
       from album 'jerusalem'
02. Keef Hartley Band - Think It Over [edit] (1969)
       from album 'half breed'
03. Rockets - Ballade Sur Mars (1976)
       from album 'rockets'
04. Bulldog Breed - I Flew (1969)
       from album 'bulldog breed'
05. Clark Hutchinson - Free To Be Stoned (1970)
       from album 'retribution'
06. Stud - Sail On (1971)
       from album 'stud'
07. Miller Anderson - Nothing In This World (1971)
       from album 'bright city'
08. Chicken Shack - Daughter Of The Hillside (1972)
       from album 'imagination lady'
09. Johnny Almond Music Machine - Solar Level (1969)
       from album 'patent pending'
10. Megaton - Wanna Be Your Hero (1971)
       from album 'megaton'
11. Sunforest - Magician In The Mountain (1969)
       from album 'sound of sunforest'
12. Frijid Pink - End Of The Line (1970)
       from album 'frijid pink'
13. East Of Eden - Northern Hemisphere (1969)
       from album 'mercator projected'

Thanks for listening! Rich.

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  1. what a big coincidence! i got "when the sit wolfs" on messenger right now..anyway kick ass as always dude! i really appreciate your work..

  2. Marvellous stuff as always! Just a point:"merda" in italian stands for "shit"

  3. Thanks a lot, man!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Thank you very much! I totaly dig these mean old riffs!

  5. Hey man, do you know the word `merda` = `shit`, in portuguese?

    Whatever, thanks from Brazil for the post!

    1. HaHa, yes I have been informed, it was not intended but has become quite an amusing over-sight. I guess it certainly makes for a memorable name! Hope you enjoy the not-so-shit music though!