Wednesday, January 31, 2007


"Cochise" 1970

Hugh Fielder:
Cochise were formed in the heady musical atmosphere of 1969 - five young guys who'd been in other bands, shared similar musical interests and an enthusiasm to see if they could make it work together.

The seeds of the band had been sown a few months earlier when pedal steel guitarist BJ Cole (who was “desperate” to break out of the traditional country bands his choice of instrument had straitjacketed him into) was recruited into an English version of the Flying Burrito Brothers that was being assembled by soon-to-be-legendary manager Peter Grant. The band's putative singer was Stewart Brown who'd known Elton John when he was Reg Dwight growing up in Pinner and sung with him in Bluesology. “He looked Jim Morrison-ish and sounded good too,” recalls BJ.

“It was a good idea, but it never really took off and suddenly Peter Grant got overwhelmed by the success of Led Zeppelin.” As the impetus faltered, ex-Yardbirds singer Keith Relf came in and the project veered off towards Renaissance. BJ's involvement petered out but later he got a call from Stewart Brown who was now in a band being put together by guitarist Mick Grabham from Plastic Penny who'd had their Top Ten one-hit wonder early in 1968 with 'Everything I Am'. BJ saw the potential and Cochise was born, completed by Cambridge musicians Rick Wills on bass and Willie Wilson on drums.

They were taken on by Clearwater Productions, a management company/commune operating out of a Notting Hill bedsit that BJ describes as “a clearing house for stoned-out musicians”. Chief among them were a motley crew called Silver Hawkwind who were furiously training to become fully qualified space cadets. Others included Skin Alley, High Tide and Trees.

Cochise recorded some demos at Dick James Music's studios in New Oxford Street where they found Elton John doing the same and the Troggs making the infamous “Troggs Tapes” as well as some hit singles. Their demos came to the attention of Andrew Lauder, Head of A&R at the London offices of Liberty Records, who had recently signed High Tide.

“They weren't country rock, they were more rock with a bit of country,” remembers Andrew. “But what really interested me was what BJ Cole's steel guitar brought to it and how he used it in a rock context. Even in America there weren't many bands doing that. And they were all good players; they didn't accept any barriers at all.”

BJ Cole confirms the no-frontiers attitude. “I was very influenced by the first David Crosby album, but I was also influenced by the Love albums and the Beatles 'Abbey Road'. And Dr John's 'Gris Gris' album just blew me away.” They built up a reputation on the underground circuit and played at the first Glastonbury Fayre in 1970.

Cochise's debut album was recorded at Kingsway Studios in Holborn with the Pretty Things' Dick Taylor producing, although BJ remembers that, “He was not much more experienced than we were. We were all very green and probably very stoned as well. It's amazing it came out as well as it did.” Even so, BJ still cracks up every time he hears a Willie Wilson drum fill on the laid back, Crosby Stills & Nash-styled 'China' which is so laid back that it misses half the drums.

BJ, Stewart Brown and Mick Grabham all contributed songs although BJ says that Stewart's were head and shoulders above the others, describing the country-rocking 'Watch This Space' (also released as a single) and the languid, evocative 'Past Loves' as “the best songs we ever did”. There was also a slow, powerful version of Paul Simon's '59th Street Bridge Song' that was part of the band's live show.

Andrew Lauder remembers being in the studio “a fair bit. It was fun - they were making a record and we were helping them do it. The spirit of the time was such that if someone had a good idea you could say, 'Well, let's do it', because the amounts of money involved were not that serious. It wasn't as if we were making videos or anything. They pretty much had a free hand.”

Released in 1970, 'Cochise' featured an eye-catching cover by Storm Thorgerson of Hipgnosis. “The album had a real mood to it,” recalls BJ, “because we hadn't really gone out and interacted with the rest of the industry. There was a special magic to it and Stewart gave the band an identity that could have matured into something substantial.”

"Swallow Tales" 1971

Hugh Fielder:
Cochise's self-titled debut in 1970 had shown that their blend of rock with a range of country influences had potential to develop into something special. Formed by guitarist Mick Grabham from Plastic Penny with ex-Bluesology singer Stewart Brown, the distinctive pedal steel of BJ Cole and Cambridge musicians Rick Wills on bass and Willie Wilson on drums, Cochise had also forged a reputation on the underground circuit. They were turning their minds to the follow-up album when Stewart Brown suddenly announced he was leaving.

“His girlfriend came from a rich family and she persuaded him to quit the music business and move to the Mediterranean,” remembers BJ Cole. “He may have been getting disillusioned. After all, he'd been in other bands before Cochise and I think he may have just had enough. But it left us high and dry in terms of the direction of the band because he had the right voice and writing style to make all those country-style things work. Without him, it was going to be a different band.”

They auditioned for new singers and found John Gilbert who'd been working with Lancashire band Mighty Joe Young. His voice was heavier-sounding and that propelled the band in a similar direction - or Free-style as BJ describes it. “Not that it was a bad thing. I cranked it up and started playing more like a rock guitarist and using more sound effects.”

They were still adjusting to their new line-up when they started recording their second album at Philips' Marble Arch Studios. BJ recalls that they spent much longer on the album than they had on the first. “Nobody told us to stop so we just kept on going. Therefore we got more and more anal. A lot of work went into the harmonies. In fact a lot more precision work went on generally.”

The attention to detail certainly paid off, as did the decision to produce it themselves. The songs, now mainly written by Mick Grabham although BJ also had three, have a sharper edge to them. . Andrew Lauder, A&R chief at United Artists who'd signed them, was happy to indulge them not just because he believed in them but also because if they could produce the quality there was a chance of breaking the band in America. “It was still early days for country rock in America and the steel guitar gave the record company a tag to hang on to them. It was around the time of the Byrds' 'Sweetheart Of The Rodeo' and the Flying Burrito Brothers and there was a lot of enthusiasm from some of the younger guys in the record company for what I was doing with Cochise.”

They nearly had themselves a hit single too, with their version of Buddy Holly's 'Love's Made a Fool of You' which included Steve Marriott making a guest appearance on backing vocals. It got airplay on both sides of the Atlantic but not the momentum to take it into the charts. In retrospect BJ feels it was a turning point for Cochise. “I think if we'd gone to America at that point we'd have moved up another level. We were a band that could have appealed in America.”

But they didn't and the band stalled - although not before they'd made another album, 'So Far'. Meanwhile, 'Swallow Tails' is here to remind you what a lost gem Cochise were.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Gothic Horizon & Andy Desmond

Gothic Horizon "The Jason Lodge Poetry Book" 1970

Dave Thubron:
Gothic Horizon made two albums: 'The Jason Lodge Poetry Book' (Argo ZFB 26) 1970, which also gained an American release: ([USA:] London PS592) 1971; and 'Tomorrow Is Another day' (Argo ZDA 150) 1972. Their music is not gloomy, brooding, damp, ghoulish, dark, threatening, creepy, bloody, horrifying or any of the other adjectives which spring to mind when one thinks of "Gothic". Instead it is warm, chatty, light, breezy, informal, witty. The albums are sometimes hyped as "psych-pop" (the former especially on account of its convoluted title and colourful pop-art cover) or even "acid-folk", but essentially they are neither of these things; they tends mostly towards folk and acousticism. However there are some tracks here to delight the psychedelically-inclined. The title track of the first album, 'The Jason Lodge Poetry Book', is great. Complex pop of sufficient quality to delight the pop-syke faithful. 'Song For Susan' is so close in sound and style to Fairfield Parlour that it just about escapes charges of plagiarism. 'A J Lone's Dog' is ragtime pop; and unsurprisingly with a title like 'Willow Tree Vale Song' this song is folk. But 'A Third For Jason Lodge' is very weird. Bizarre changes and references to flying, mushrooms and toadstools!

Andy Desmond "Living on a Shoestring" 1975

1st solo album of Gothic Horizon's guitarist. The record was produced by Dave Davis and released from Kinks' "Konk Record"

Great album!!

01. Beware!
02. So It Goes
03. She Can Move Mountain
04. Only Child
05. Let Me Take You In
06. Can't Bear To Live Without
07. Why Not Write Me A Letter
08. No Time To Say Goodbye
09. (Do I Figure) in Your Life ---- Cover song of Pete Dello!!
10. Living On A Shoestring
11. Annie

Monday, January 29, 2007


Anonymous visitor,
Here is one of your wanted title.

Davy Graham and Shirley Collins - Folk Roots, New Routes: grown so ugly


Hi Lizardson, some time ago I downloaded the nice Evensong album from your blog. Listening to the record, I realized that track six was incomplete. So I searched for it on the net and found the full track. I've uploaded it on Rapidshare for you and your readers. Here's the link: Evensong - Track.06

P.S.: I was planning to post some Yacoub & Malicorne albums on Babeblogue too. Would you mind?

Ciao, Radu

Thank you very much for your help! And we are glad to wait for your post of Yacoub & Malicorne albums!


"Country Home" (1970) & "Ace Of Sunlight" (1971)

Vocalist Jess Roden, formerly of the Alan Bown Set, instigated this excellent group in 1970. Kevin Hammond (guitar, vocals), John Pasternak (bass) - both ex-Band Of Joy - Robbie Blunt (guitar) and Pete Robinson (drums) completed the line-up, which made its debut that year with "Country Home", ILPS 9124 (not ILPS 9134 which was to be the catalogue number for Nick Drake's next album, "Bryter Layter"). The quintet offered a relaxed, sympathetic setting for the singer's soulful delivery, best exemplified on "Ace Of Sunlight", which featured support from Ian Hunter and Mick Ralphs from Mott The Hoople, and Fotheringay's Trevor Lucas. Despite their promise, Bronco was unable to secure a sound commercial footing and the departure of Roden for a solo career effectively killed the group. Blunt subsequently joined Silverhead and appeared in several short-lived aggregations before securing widespread recognition with his work for Robert Plant.

Country Home (1970):
Jeff Bannister - Piano (Tracks 4,6)
Robbie Blunt - Guitar, Vocals
Kevin Gammond - Guitar, Vocals
John Pasternak - Bass, Vocals
Pete Robinson - Drums
Jess Roden - Vocals, Guitar, Percussion
Clifford T. Ward - Vocals (Track 6)

Ace Of Sunlight (1971):
Terry Allen - Organ (Track 6)
Paul Bennett - Vocals (Tracks 2,7)
Robbie Blunt - Guitar, Vocals
Paul Davenport - Piano (Track 3)
Kevin Gammond - Guitar
Ian Hunter - Piano (Track 1)
Trevor Lucas - Vocals (Track 2)
John Pasternak - Bass
Mick Ralphs - Organ (Track 1)
Peter Robinson - Drums, Conga
Jess Roden - Guitar, Harmonica, Percussion, Piano, Vocals

Friday, January 26, 2007

Prelude "After the Gold Rush" 1973

Add another notch up on this rating if gorgeous harmonies and really nice-sounding covers of Neil Young songs count a lot for the listener. Prelude's second album is a beautiful folk-rock-cum-country work, with radiant singing and some beautiful melodies among the original songs -- some of the lyrical content may seem a bit simplistic, but the record is pretty enough to overcome that minor drawback. It's just great listening, and the originals are as hauntingly lovely as the ravishingly sung cover of Neil Young's song that gave this album its title. In many ways, this album is a successor to that brief resurgence of acoustic Anglo-American folk-rock represented by the first Crosby, Stills & Nash album, before everybody got all heavy and angry -- say, a sequel to the "Suite: Judy Blues Eyes"/"Lady of the Island" side of that record. Even more astonishing is the fact that it was produced by Ian Samwell, a founding member of Cliff Richard's group the Shadows and author of the rock & roll standards "Move It" and "Whatcha Gonna Do About It." ~ Bruce Eder, All Music Guide

This is US version of their 2nd album.
Includes all tracks from "Dutch Courage" (Original UK issue) + hit single "After the Gold Rush".

01. After the Gold Rush
02. Dear Jesus
03. To Hell With the War
04. Lady from a Small Town
05. Rufus
06. Open Book
07. Hotel Room
08. Rock Dreams
09. Fly
10. Adventures on the Way
11. Follow Me Down

Stonefield Tramp

Terry Friend:
Pete Kiely, one of Stonefield Tramp's guitar players and myself have just spent three days mixing the new album. Naturally this is only the first mix, but it is all coming together rather nicely. I shall keep you posted as to our progress with this project. Meanwhile, a prosperous and a happy new year to you all. Terry Friend from Stonefield Tramp.

Message from Terry Friend

Thursday, January 25, 2007

"Malicorne (aka Malicorne II)" 1975

One of Malicorne's peculiarities was to keep on putting out eponymous LPs; their second was also simply entitled Malicorne [Hexagone CD 193.652 (1975)]; most critics call it Malicorne II. If Malicorne revealed a great band in the making, Malicorne II realized that potential marvelously. The choral richness of the group's harmonies are fully developed here, and Gabriel allows his full, round acoustic guitar playing to emerge, on such tracks as "Le garçon jardinier." Most importantly, the band is unusually tight and inventive; their arrangement of "J'ai vu le loup, le renard et la belette," for example, uses two dulcimers, an épinette des Vosges, a bouzouki and a mandocello to produce a merry jangle of harmonies, while violin and hurdy-gurdy take the lead and electric bass and tabor the rhythm. The other set of dance tunes begins with the completely traditional sound of the fiddle, but soon adds a fully realized arrangement featuring hurdy-gurdy, mandocello and bass. As for the songs, Malicorne's best-known piece of a capella harmonizing, "Marions les roses" is here, as are some classic songs in the vein of the first album's material: historical ballads, songs about courtship, and a brief taste of potentially supernatural motifs, which would become a trademark of the band in the future.

Sample pic: Click

Rapidshare targeted by GEMA News:
German collections agency GEMA says it's won temporary injunctions against the operator of data exchange services and "The latter is said to have used copyright protected works of GEMA members in an unlawful fashion," says Heise Online.

"The services make virtual storage space available into which users can upload content that is thereby made publicly available to other users. GEMA spokesman Hans-Herwig Geyer told Heise GEMA is now demanding details, "on how many copyright protected works of GEMA members are currently stored on the said sites".

RapidShare says it had no knowledge of content uploaded and wasn't able to control it, says the story, going on:

"Through its injunctions the District Court in Cologne had now however made it clear to the company that the fact that it was the users and not the operator of the services that uploaded the content onto the sites did not, from a legal point of view, lessen the operator's liability for copyright infringements that occurred within the context of the services".

Robert W. Smith:
The German collecting society GEMA has obtained from the District Court in Cologne temporary injunctions against the operator of the data exchange services and The latter is said to have used copyright protected works of GEMA members in an unlawful fashion. The services make virtual storage space available into which users can upload content that is thereby made publicly available to other users. GEMA spokesman Hans-Herwig Geyer told heise online that the services should not be allowed to continue to operate in their present form. The collecting society is now demanding that the operator provide details on how many copyright protected works of GEMA members are currently stored on the said sites.

According to GEMA, the service in particular has at times boasted of making some 15 million files available to its users. The operator had however failed to obtain from GEMA a license for making copyright protected files available, the collecting society spokesman observed. To date RapidShare had claimed not to have any knowledge of the content uploaded by the users and of not being in a position to control the same, the spokesman continued. Through its injunctions the District Court in Cologne had now however made it clear to the company that the fact that it was the users and not the operator of the services that uploaded the content onto the sites did not, from a legal point of view, lessen the operator’s liability for copyright infringements that occurred within the context of the services, the spokesman added.

Harald Heker, the chairman of the executive board of GEMA, believes the court's decisions will have repercussions on the way "Web 2.0 services" such as YouTube and MySpace will be treated in future. What the decisions according to Mr. Heker show is that "the mere circumstance of shifting acts of use to users and the purported inability of the operator to control content do not relieve the operator of a service from the copyright liability he/she/it possesses for the content made available for download from the operator's website(s)."
Ro Ro "Meet At The Water" 1972

Competent, slightly melancholy-tinged country-rock in the vein of Bronco, Cochise, Moonrider, Quicksand and Quiver, to name but a few, although at times comparisons to Lindisfarne also wouldn’t be out of place – especially on the singalong title track, which closes vinyl side A! The vocalist possessed the kind of soulful, low-register throaty voice that marked the works of period Dutch popsters The Shoes (Van Es) and The Tee Set (Peter Tetteroo).

Melancholic, minor-key acoustic guitar instrumentals such as “Mandala” add a bit of variety to an otherwise pretty straight-laced period country-rock piece.

Vocalist/guitarist Alan Ross and bassist Warwick Rose formed the core of the band – hence the name Ro-Ro. Alan later formed his own band Ross which recorded two excellent mellow funk-rock albums for RSO that were not unlike the works of Tommy Bolin in the mid-70s.

John Weider had, of course, played with Eric Burdon and the Animals, Family, Stud and Moonrider.

Rod Coombes - Vocals, Drums
Brian Rogers – Orchestration
Alan Ross - Vocals, Guitar, Recorder
Neil Sheppard - Vocals, Keyboards
Rose Warwick – Bass
John Weider - Guitar, Violin

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

"Malicorne (aka "Malicorne 1" or "Colin" )" 1974

by Steve Winick:
Francois Hadji-Lazaro, a popular French rock musician and the founder of a family of record labels, once said that the group Malicorne "single-handedly allowed the French public to discover folk music." This is, perhaps, an exaggeration; during the 1960s and 1970s, before Malicorne's heyday, folk music already had a cult following both in Paris and in areas where strong rural traditions remained. But by combining the folk tradition with influences from both rock and roll and early classical music, Malicorne accomplished a sound at once richly musical and widely accessible, and they brought French folk music to a far larger audience than had ever heard it before.

The history of Malicorne begins with a musical couple, Gabriel and Marie Yacoub. As members of Alan Stivell's Breton folk-rock band in the early 1970s, the Yacoubs witnessed Stivell's wizardry at mixing traditional folk music with rock and inciting young audiences to a frenzy. As non-Bretons, as Parisians, the Yacoubs began to wonder whether a similar combination of traditional and electric arrangements could be applied to songs and tunes from the French-speaking regions of the country. The first fruits of their experiments, recorded in March 1973, became the album Pierre De Grenoble, a landmark recording credited to Gabriel and Marie Yacoub.

Although Pierre De Grenoble featured some of the folk scene's top players, the lineup did not coalesce into a group. Still, the album did lead to the formation of Malicorne; in early September 1973, the Yacoubs joined forces with Hughes de Courson, Pierre De Grenoble's producer, who was also a talented multi-instrumentalist and singer. They soon enlisted Laurent Vercambre, a similar talent, to form Malicorne's first lineup. With skill and enthusiasm, singing and playing obscure instruments like the bowed psaltery, the hurdy-gurdy and the crumhorn, they quickly rose to the top of the French folk scene. Their debut album, Malicorne [Hexagone CD 193.632 (1974)], was like a fresh breeze on the French scene. Its first two songs charted the course of Malicorne's future: a murder ballad sung in Gabriel's strong nasal voice and accompanied by a combination of gentle bouzoukis and dulcimers and tough electric bass and guitar, and a song of star-crossed lovers, sung with an ethereal wispiness by Marie, and accompanied by a steady, loping bass line, bright strums on mandolins and the occasional otherworldly drones of psaltery and electric guitar. Other classic titles include "Landry," their first venture into a capella harmonies, and "Le chant des livrees," a ritual marriage song sung with Gabriel and Marie quite appropriately playing the courting couple. Malicorne's main weakness is in the quality of the mix, which is muddy. But the interesting material, the band's fresh approach, and the helpful bibliography of song sources make this folk-rock debut fascinating even today.

Sample pic: Click

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Waterloo "First Battle" 1969

First Battle by Belgian band Waterloo is one of those re-releases from the dawntime of progressive rock. The band's name refers to the village where Napoleon suffered his final defeat in 1815. This was Napoleon's last battle but since this album was Waterloo's debut album they called it First Battle instead. There's a little irony here because it was also their last album, and therefore in a way also their last battle.

The music on this album consists of all ten tracks from the original release, five tracks from non-album singles and one previously unreleased track. The sound quality isn't too good, which is partly due to the fact that the original master tapes are lost and the album had to be recorded onto CD directly from the record.

Most of the tracks are around three minutes length and quite poppy in nature. The overall style reminds a lot of early Jethro Tull. Waterloo's sound is folky, with a large role for the organ. The narrative vocals and of course the flute also add to the Tull impression.

I'm not certain what Musea's aim with this release is other than preserving a small piece of the Belgian musical scene of the very early seventies. The appeal to modern listeners will be limited, due in main part to the very dated sound of the recordings. However, the clear Tull influence I mentioned earlier might interest Jethro Tull fans to investigate this album further.

Monday, January 22, 2007

"Whysp" 2004

Whysp is a Santa Cruz based folk group formed in the fall of 2002 created by Josh Alper, Hugh Holden and Jeffrey Manson. Other local musicians have participated in the band, including Glenn Donaldson, John Garmon, Aaron Emmert, Nicky Dinosaur, Michele Hannigan, Ia Hernandez, Emily White, Tom Child, Adam Payne, Mike May and Niki Selken. Other members include Kyle Field and Christine Boepple.

The formation of Whysp was partially inspired by a record Josh Alper found at Streetlight Records of the 60's UK folk group Forest, who released two albums on the Harvest label in 1969 and 1970. Another primary inspiration for forming Whysp was the possibility of opening a show for the group The Black Elf Speaks, whose members Tom and Colin of U.S.A. is a Monster had a tradition of forming a different Elf band every year, recording an album and touring during the summer. The album from their Elf band Elvish Presley was also influential on Whysp. The show at The Beehive on October 24th, 2002 with The Black Elf Speaks was the first Whysp show and featured a line-up of Alper/Holden/Manson.

Tom Child joined the group sometime in the Fall or Winter of 2003. The line-up of Alper/Child/Holden/Manson recorded the CDr "demo" album That Which Never Was But May Someday Come To Be with Chris Gonzalez on June 1st, 2003 and toured the West Coast later that summer culminating in a set at the What the Heck? Festival in Anacortes, Washington on July 19th. Karl Blau and Kyle Field also sat in on this set.

John Garmon joined the group sometime that Fall and Whysp played a set with the line-up of Alper/Child/Garmon/Holden/Manson at Big Bang 2003 with Six Organs of Admittance and Entrance that is featured in the documentary of said festival.

Niki Selken joined Whysp for a brief period around November of 2003.

In March of 2004 Whysp toured the West Coast again with Emily White of Diamond Star Halos who was integrated into the group during this tour. This tour culminated in a recording session with Phil Elverum in Anacortes, Washington the bulk of which ended up on Whysp's first "official" release, a full-length vinyl lp entitled Whysp. Jeffrey Manson was living on a beach in Mexico during this period of the group and the line-up for this tour was Alper/Child/Garmon/Holden/White.

Whysp performed again at the What the Heck? Festival in July of 2004 with a line-up of Alper/Child/Holden/Garmon/May.

In October of 2004, Whysp toured the greater U.S. and Canada with a line-up of Alper/Child/Garmon/Holden. Shortly after this tour Tom Child moved to L.A., effectively leaving the regular line-up.

The Whysp of 2005 was somewhat tumultous, featuring an ever-changing line-up with Holden and Alper being the only consistent members. It was during this period that most of the Whysp material was recorded for the split lp The Dawn is Crowned. This material was recorded mainly by Aaron Emmert in The Silent Planet. Aaron Emmert, Nicky Dinosaur and Adam Payne played with Whysp at several shows during this period. Kyle Field played a few shows as well. Michele Hannigan began sitting in on sitar eventually becoming a regular member of the group. Jeffrey Manson also began gravitating back towards the group. The crux of this period was perhaps Whysp's set at the Mind Zap Festival in San Francisco around April 20th which featured the massive line-up of Alper/Holden/Dinosaur/Emmert/Garmon/Hannigan/Manson and perhaps more who were lost in the haze of that event. John Garmon would leave the group as a regular member after a particularly madcap set at the Hotel Utah, moving to the deserts of Southern California in search of Gram Parsons' ghost.

In September of 2005, Glenn Donaldson and Christine Boepple of San Francisco's Skygreen Leopards (among other projects), as well as Ia Hernandez, began playing with Whysp. With these additions, Whysp settled into their current line-up of Alper/Boepple/Donaldson/Hannigan/Hernandez/Holden/Manson.
"Brinsley Schwarz" 1970

The UK band Kippington Lodge recorded a series of poor selling mid-1960s pop/rock singles. By 1969 the line up consisted of keyboardist Bib Andrews, singer/guitarist Nick Lowe, guitarist Brinsley Schwarz and drummer Bill Rankin. Expanding their reportoire into psych and California-styled folk-rock, the quartet also adopted a new name - Brinsley Schwarz.

Under the guidance of manager Dave Robinson the band signed with United Artists, debuting with 1970's cleverly titled "Brinsley Schwarz". Largely penned by Lowe, the results were certainly strange. Complete with multi-part vocal harmonies, banks of strumming acoustic guitars and pseudo-hippy lyrics, tracks such as 'Hymn To Me', 'Shining Brightly' and 'Ballad of a Has-Been Beauty Queen' sounded like these guys had been on a CSN&Y bender. In fact the extended 'Lady Constant' sounded so much like a CSN&Y outtake that it's hard to believe they weren't hit with a plagerism suit. Elsewhere 'Rock and Roll Women' and 'What Do You Suggest' bore more than a passing resemblance to Dylan and the Band. While the album's good natured CSN*Y mimickry was mildly enduring (especially in hindsight), it didn't leave much room in the originality category..

The commercial failure was underscored by Robinson's lame brained marketing campaign, which included a decision to showcase the band at a Fillmore East concert opening for Van Morrison. The concert idea might not have been too bad, but Robinson decided to fly all of England's leading rock critics to the New York concert. Things turned increasingly ugly when the band members were initially denied US entry visas. The visas were ultimately approved at the last minute, but left the band members with just enough time to get to New York for the concert. The final blows came when the flight carrying the music critics suffered technical problems and was delayed for hours. Plying the critics with free booze wasn't exactly the smartest thing to do since by the time they finally made it to New York most were tired, frustrated and too drunk to enjoy the concert. Coupled with a lackluster performance and the resulting reviews and publicity were universally critical. Needless to say, sales were dismal.

Sample pic: Click

Sunday, January 21, 2007

"Planxty" 1973

Christy Moore, Andy Irvine, Liam O'Flynn, and Dónal Lunny formed Planxty, a slang version of the Irish word "Slainte" meaning "good health," in 1973 after collaborating on the Christy Moore record Prosperous. Their self-titled debut arrived that same year to the delight of traditional Celtic music fans across the globe. Their tight, organic, and authentic renderings of tunes like "Raggle Taggle Gypsy," "The Blacksmith," and "Merrily Kissed the Quaker" set them apart from many of their more experimental contemporaries. "Sweet Thames Flow Softly," a Ewan MacColl-penned song about a London Romeo and Juliet, features a beautiful vocal take by Moore, and deft bouzouki work from Irvine, whose original composition "The West Coast of Clare" would begin the artist's long career of timeless ballad writing. Versions of "The Jolly Beggar Reel" and "Arthur McBride," the latter an anti-recruitment song from Donegal, are energetic and well-played, glowing with the warm compression of the early-'70s British folk scene. Many groups at that time, the Boys of the Lough, the Chieftains, Sweeny's Men -- featuring Andy Irvine -- struggled to find an audience outside of the pub, while the members of Planxty managed to work their way into halls and theaters. Planxty is a remarkable first record from one of the genres most influential acts. ~ James Christopher Monger, All Music Guide

Ron Sexsmith

Ron Sexsmith & the Uncool "Grand Opera Lane" 1991

Released independently with his backing band, the Uncool, Ron Sexsmith's re-released debut album is a bit more of a rock effort than the pop-folk albums he later created. "In This Love" has a definitive acoustic or alternative country tinge to it in the vein of Blue Rodeo. Backed by Don Kerr and Steve Charles on harmony vocals, the tune has a soulful touch to it despite Sexsmith at times over-exerting his vocals during the bridge. Equally vital is the horn section, providing a Dave Matthews quality to the proceedings. "Spending Money" is a funky pop track showcasing the musician's simple yet descriptive narratives. The arrangement is a bit simplistic, though. One trait that is shown early on is Sexsmith's consistent soulful delivery, like a latter-day Motown album. "Don't Mind Losing" moves toward the country-soul party music of the Mavericks, featuring more horns. "Tell You" is perhaps the album's shining moment, a lovable acoustic track that adds harmonies before Bob Wiseman's organ kicks in. "Gonna Get What's Mine" is a blending of rockabilly and bluegrass with mixed results at best. Also included on the album is the original recording of "Speaking With the Angels," a track later issued on Sexsmith's 1995 self-titled album. Although similar in its tone, the singer opts for more of a Bob Dylan style in his delivery. The relaxing country touches on "Every Word of It" are the seeds of future projects, despite the music's tone. "Trains" is another shining moment, a sparse number featuring just acoustic guitar and Sexsmith's fragile singer/songwriter voice. It all ends with "The Laughing Crowd," another hint at what was to come in future albums that is standard melodic pop in under three minutes. ~ Jason MacNeil, All Music Guide

"Rarities" 2003

Ron's liner notes:

01. On A Whim
I wrote this song for Eddi Reader. She's a good friend and a great singer from Scotland. When I sent her the demo, it wasn't quite finished but she went and recorded a fine version of it anyway. So this is my attempt at it. The lyrics and chords are slightly different from hers but it's essentially the same song. I demoed this version recently for the Brodsky Quartet to hear and possibly record but they chose another song of mine instead.

02. Almost Always
Most people familiar with my stuff will know this song. It was used as a bonus track on the Japanese version of RON SEXSMITH and again as a B-side to the Secret Heart single in the UK. It also turned up on a charity album in Canada. Recorded originally (along with about 24 other songs) over 3 day period in Nashville back in 1996, it still gets requested quite a bit at our live shows. (That's Al Kooper of Like A Rolling Stone fame playing the organ.)

03. Good Old Desk
This one was originally recorded for the RON SEXSMITH album. I'd always been a huge fan of Nilsson, and when he died just a few months before I started on my record, I thought I'd pay my respects by cutting it. Around that time, Al Kooper and Danny Kapilian were busy putting a tribute album together for him. Somehow they got wind of this track and asked if they could have it so naturally, I was more than happy to hand it over.

04. You Were There
Taken from the same session as and used as a B-side for Strawberry Blonde single. I hope to release that whole Nashville batch someday! Anyway I still play this one on occasion - I'm quite proud of it.

05. Same Old Eyes
Recorded in New York during the sessions for OTHER SONGS. It was a fun track but we couldn't seem to make it fit with the other stuff so we left it off. It turned up on that Strawberry Blonde single later on and as a Japanese bonus track as well. Great drumming on it.

06. Tears Behind The Shades
This one got left off the WHEREABOUTS record except in Japan. I always liked it but we felt it was making an already sad album even sadder. Also I was determined to make WHEREABOUTS an even 12 song sequence. Some country artist should do this one.

07. Blade Of Grass
We initially thought it would close WHEREABOUTS but after getting a good take of Seem To Recall (which was on the B list) we opted for that track instead. It's just me and my guitar on this one.

08. Too Late
Another one left off the WHEREABOUTS record for pretty much the same reason that Tears Behind The Shades was left off. It's a pretty recording though and it seems to sum up my emotional state at the time.

09. Words We Never Use
I always look forward to playing Melbourne, Australia. They used to have rhis great songwriters club called The Continental where this performance was recorded. I never really liked my vocal on the album version but I think I may have got it right in Melbourne.

10. Don't Like Mondays
We were asked by the music supervisor of "The West Wing" to cover this old Boomtown Rats song for a particular episode. It was a tough song for me to sing and after all our hard work, they went and used someone else's version! That's Hollywood for ya.

11. Before We Ever Met
Steve Earle and I went back and forth on the sequence for BLUE BOY. This one was on it right up until the day we mastered it. I felt I had to take it off for the sake of everyone's attention span. Fifteen songs seemed a lot to ask of people except maybe the Japanese who included it on theirs. (An obvious exception to that rule would, of course, be this release which contains sixteen tracks!)

12. Kiss For Luck
This was the first song I wrote for the BLUE BOY record and always thought it would open the album too. Steve wanted the album to rock a bit more and felt this one was dragging it down. The fellow who mastered BLUE BOY in Nashville told us we were crazy for taking this one off... maybe he was right.

13. All The Cherished Things
It's an old song that I wrote when I was a courier... kind of a children's song I guess, halfway inspired by "It's A Wonderful Life". It was recorded for the BLUE BOY record but once again, we felt that something had to go. I think it was a B-side somewhere.

14. You Cross My Mind
It was one of the first songs recorded for COBBLESTONE RUNWAY but was taken off for reasons I can't recall.

15. Gold In Them Hills
This is the original duet version with Chris Martin of Coldplay. I think I like this one better than the remix, but the record, COBBLESTONE RUNWAY, needed something to make it stand out from my original take. It appeared in this form on an episode of "Queer As Folk" as well.

16. Someway Somehow
There's a new Canadian trio featuring my friends Kim Stockwood, Tara Maclean, and Damhnait Doyle. I wrote this for them to sing and submitted this demo for their perusal. As I write this, I'm still waiting to see if it made the final cut. But in case it doesn't, here's my take on it.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Vin Garbutt

"Bandalised" 1994

Hector Christie:
Funny old world isn't it? In the space of a week or so I've come across two reviews of Vin's latest which give extremely opposing views. Whilst "Folk Roots" were less than lukewarm about this album - poor social commentary, strangulated or wavering voice or whatever, - the "Daily Telegraph" (I kid you not) writhed with excitement at their discovery of a great talent, etc. etc.

or my money, any day that a Vin Garbutt album is released is a red letter day and this is no exception. Skilfully using a band for the third album in succession Vin weaves the usual magical blend of tunes and songs that, as a reflex action, have me reaching for my wallet. Overall I wished there had been slightly more vocals and a little less instrumentals (Folk Roots wished exactly the opposite, proving only that different people have different tastes and nothing terribly more profound than that!).

The album sets a high standard throughout without that magical track that socks it to you right between the eyes taking place, as "The Bloom of the Broom" did on his previous outing or "Absent Friends" on the one before. A plateau of excellence isn't a bad place to be stranded on, however, and that's the feel of this album. Of particular interest (to me at any rate) was Vin's treatment of "The Flower of Dunblane" and his rehabilitation of "The Rose of Tralee" synonymous for too long with gin soaked, tear soaked, maudlin pub singers.

ince getting up his own label, the relative rarity of a Garbutt release seems to be a thing of the past, and goodies like this now seem to be a regular events.

"Word of Mouth" 1999

Dave Beeby:
Vin Garbutt has been around for a long time - three decades or so. Never!! I hear you say. He is now on his "30 Years on the Road" tour so it must be true. This CD has been released to coincide with that. It's as a live performer that he's best known which is, in some ways a pity, because he's a tremendous deliverer of songs as well.
Never one to shirk the issue or avoid controversy, Vin has put together an album which has its fair share of thought provoking subjects ranging from the Falklands war, prostitution in Bangkok, the problems facing the North Sea fishermen and, inevitably, Ireland. Some have been in his live set for some time but none have been recorded before, and all have that distinct "Vin" feel, probably because the tunes are instantly recognisable as his. You don't have to agree with the points being made but you are challenged to listen and make your own mind up. Don't buy this if you want an easy, comfortable time - Vin does not allow this.

The quality of sound is excellent, as is the backing - both vocally and instrumentally.

Some of the songs have been written by Vin whilst, in true folk style, others have been "collected" - not from source singers!!! but from floor singers. So that is how the folk process is developing.

A truly fine album of thought provoking material from one of the best around. Highly recommended.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Mick Softley "Capitol" 1976

"Capital" is recorded in Germany, mastered in Holland and released in Swiss (Doll Records).
The album features only his voice and acoustic guitar. All are folky hobo songs except "The Anti-Gravity Device (folk/blues song)" & "Le Monde Des Amants (trad based song)".
Especially, his bitter sweet voices on "Transylvanian Highway" & "Sand" will permeates through your mind.

01. Ode To The Fair 03:16
02. Les Eaux De Finance 02:59
03. El Senor 02:50
04. The Anti-Gravity Device 05:11
05. Silence 02:59
06. Transylvanian Highway 08:27
07. Lady May 03:11
08. Knighthood 04:48
09. The Fair Rose 02:58
10. Le Monde Des Amants 02:41
11. Sand 06:17
12. Star Drive 03:39

Recorded May 1976 at Wedesbuttel, Germany
Released August 1st 1976 Zurich, Switzerland
Doll Records Doll 001

Download link in comments.

Thank you very much for this fantastic album!

Bobby & Anonymous,
Thanks for track list!

Thursday, January 18, 2007


Kevin Ayers "Holland 7-30-70" (Canterbury Anthology Vol.11)

1. Oyster and the Flying Fish
2. Lady Rachel
3. We Did It Again
4. Hat Song
5. Clarence In Wonderland
6. Rheinhardt And Geraldine ~ Colores Para Dolores
7. Why Are We Sleeping ?

First track "Oyster and the Flying Fish" features Bridget St. John.

Get this from La nuit détend

Kevin Ayers "Odd Ditties" (1970-1976)

01. Soon, Soon, Soon
02. Singing A Song In The Morning
03. Geminni Child
04. Puis-Je?
05. Butterfly Dance
06. Stars
07. Stranger In Blue Suede Shoes
08. Jolie Madame
09. Lady Rachel
10. Connie On A Rubber Band
11. Fake Mexican Tourist Blues
12. Don't Sing No More Sad Songs
13. Take Me To Tahiti
14. Caribbean Moon
15. Star (Single Version)
16. After The Show
17. Decadence
18. The Lady Rachel - Extended First Mix
19. Religious Experience (Singing a Song in the Morning)
20. Hat

Featuring Mike Oldfield, Bridget St.John, Duncan Brown etc...

Get this from La nuit détend
Karen Beth "The Joys of Life" 1968

Unknown reviewer:
A bit of a deceptive start here, as the opener, It’s All Over Now, has overdubbed horns that lead to poppier expectations than prove to be the case, but even so, it’s a strong calling card with a kind of folky Bobbie Gentry vibe to it. It’s on sparser material like the title cut that Karen Beth comes into her own though, and if you can get used to her undeniably slightly odd voice, this is well worth a hearing as yet another great late 60s femme-folk set. Bought on spec from a US website to make up the numbers in a package, and one of the most-played things in it.


Let's welcome Radu and his blog "BABE(B)LOGUE"!!

"Fallen fallen fallen is Babylon the Great" sang Demis Roussos in Aphrodite's Child's masterpiece, "666". But we all know that this is true only of the historical Babylon. For a new Babel is born, it's all around us, we spend in it every day of our lives. We all know that the global village has many facets, some good and others bad. I personally believe that the best way to fight the Big Brother is to help grow his Great Sisters, cultural biodiversity and cross-cultural hybridation. Music is perhaps the form of expression whose language is accessible to the widest range of people, so it will be my main focus. In particular, I will take in great consideration those fruitful experiences which build bridges between different musical traditions and genres, or between old and new. So, what are you still waiting for? Just relax and enjoy your ride through the crowded streets of Babel!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Elsie and Jack and Nick Drake:
Sculpting from Drake Volume One (2000)

01. Parasite - Archer Prewitt
02. Fruit Tree - Au Revoir Borealis
03. Northern Sky - Flashpapr
04. Horn - Ben Vida
05. Place to Be - Northern Song Dynasty
06. Things Behind the Sun - Zurich, Electroscope
07. Which Will - Warn Defever
08. Know - Drekka
09. Time of No Reply - The Autumns, Simon Raymonde
10. Pink Moon - Ray Speedway

Flak Magazine: Review of elsie and jack and nick drake

Monday, January 15, 2007

Message from David Balen

David Balen (Great percussionist playing with Amory Kane, Shackey Vick, Mick Softley, Mick Greenwood etc... as Ned Balen):

Hi good to hear

Strange but Jude bought me a copy of the Amory Kane LP for Xmas!!

We must get together !!

Recently playing with a Jazz Combo in E Midlands, but no longer involved- too much head not enough heart! Learning Bass Clarinet and ordinary clarinet, and still trying to write songs and toons

I had thought about putting my Musical CV on the web (I had to put it somewhere, it wasn’t going mowhere!) but wasn’t sure of the best way to do it.

Hope to hear from U

Best Wishes


We are so glad to meet you and Jonathon Coudrille both who played on great Amory Kane's album. Can't believe but there is some great musicians who have visited our tiny "Time Has Told Me" blog. What a pleasure!
Keep creating your great works!

Iain Matthews

"Camouflage: The Notebook Series No.4" 1971-1995

Session with:
Andy Roberts
Richard Thompson
Bradley Kopp
Deni Bonet
Jim Fogarty
Lindsay Gilmour
Richard Sleigh
Andy Roberts (Plainsong)
Mark Griffiths (Plainsong)
Julian Dawson (Plainsong)

01. There's a Woody Guthrie song
---live radio London 1971 with Andy Roberts and Richard Thompson
02. Keep on sailing
---Quasimodo Berlin Germany 9-11-90 with Andy Roberts
03. For the lonely hunter
---Spiral Hall Tokyo Japan 6-1-91 with Bradley Kopp
04. And me
---Mountain Stage Radio Charleston W.Va. 6-12-91 with Deni Bonet
05. True location of the heart
---Town Crier Pawling N.Y. 6-12-92 with Jim Fogarty
06. Compass and chart
07. Even the guiding light
08. The rat and the snake (Mark Germino)
---Brosella Festival Brussels Belgium 7-11-92 with Andy Roberts
09. Evening sun
---Gene Shay Radio Show Philidelphia Pa. 8-30-92 with Jim Fogarty, Lindsay Gilmour, Richard Sleigh
10. House un-American activities blues dream (Richard Farina)
11. Next time around
12. Back of the bus
---Mayrhofen Austria 8-26-93 Plainsong: Andy Roberts, Mark Griffiths, Julian Dawson, IM
13. A lamb in armour
14. Rains of '62
15. Reno Nevada (Richard Farina)
---Karlsruhe Germany 1-25-95 with Bradley Kopp

"God Looked Down" 1996

In the wake of his 1988 comeback -- an entire record dedicated to the work of Jules Shear -- Iain Matthews seemed to gain confidence and momentum as a writer, beginning with 1990's Pure and Crooked. Of the three albums that followed, two of them, including God Looked Down, are made up solely of his own material (although the basic melody of "So Many Eyes" was taken from the traditional "Nottamun Town," from his Fairport Convention days). And while Matthews' work has always been quite personal and individualistic even when covering other people's tunes, there's something about God Looked Down that hits a little closer to the bone. One of the album's best tracks, "Power of Blue," is maybe his most intimate and telling song since "If You Saw Thro' My Eyes," while elsewhere there are touches of hope, fear, wonder, and inadequacy -- both personal and societal. Musically, Matthews and longtime producer Mark Hallman create a more rock-based folk sound than his previous couple of outings, cloaking his acoustic-based tunes in bass, drums, and dark shades of organ and electric guitar. There also seems to be a freedom gained over the years from the fact that Matthews accepts and appreciates his "borderline career," settling nicely into his cult status, and the record benefits from this. God Looked Down may lack the consistency of his best records, but it still delivers some successful, introspective folk-rock. ~ Brett Hartenbach, All Music Guide

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Message from Jonathon Coudrille

Jonathon Coudrille (playing on the Amory Kane's album etc...):

Dear Lizardson,

amazing coincidence!

last week
driving from
to my home at the
Lizard (most southerly peninsula on the British Mainland)
I said to Elf, (my partner)
'Remind me to search the web for Amory Kane'
Today, my
e-mailed me a link to your blog,
and there was
Amory Kane,
and also myself,
Jonathon Coudrille.
I lost touch with AK when he left Britain,
and this is the first reference I've found.
I'm still in touch with David (Ned) Balen,
He ran a spiritual conference centre in Malvern, divides his time between Britain and France and is still a remarkable musician.
if you're interested,
There is some information about me on wikipedia,
and also at:

Many thanks for your expert and scholarly blog,


Jonathon X. Coudrille

My pleasure, Jonathon!


Sunny Days Again: The Best of Lighthouse (1969-1974)

Much like Chicago's early sound, Lighthouse made wise use of their horn and string ensembles to create some rather bright and colorful music in the early '70s. With 13 members, including Don Dinovo on viola, Dick Armin on cello, and Howard Shore as the sax player, who later went on to be the first music director for Saturday Night Live, Lighthouse's music implemented many textures, from brassy rock & roll to a slippery blues-rock feel. Sunny Days Again is a commendable compilation, which includes all of their best tracks, headlined by "One Fine Morning," which gave them their first Top 40 hit in 1971, and the two-speed tempo of "Sunny Days," that debuted their rich, multi-dimensioned sound. Lead singer Bob McBride flaunts his vocal range on "You Girl," while "Pretty Lady" shuffles along as a slick pop/rock number with horns on both side of the chorus. Even the more guitar-oriented pieces like "Take It Slow" and "Broken Guitar Blues" have something to offer in their slick rhythms and blues-based purity. Sunny Days Again is by far the easiest hits package to find from Lighthouse, and its material does do the band justice. ~ Mike DeGagne, All Music Guide

Saturday, January 13, 2007


Dinner Key Auditorium, Miami (1st March 1969)

The Miami concert dramatically altered The Doors' world, shaking its foundations thoroughly, and changing everything irreversibly thereafter. Records began to sell badly, right-wing groups demonstrated against The Doors, and promoters cancelled an entire tour. A fiasco, a financial catastrophe, an artistic disaster, but curiously enough, largely preconceived and planned by the ever-mischievous Jim Morrison.

On 28th February 1969, the night before the concert, Jim had seen a performance of 'Paradise Now' by the Living Theatre, at the University of Southern California. In fact, he had been to the two previous nights' performances as well. He loved it. In their play this controversial theatre group reflected ideas that Jim had been having himself, and that he had previously lived out on stage. Moreover, many of his pet obsessions concerning dialogue with the audience, provocation, as well as society's criticism, right down to the completely free form of stage presence, were daringly performed in an expanded version by the Living Theatre, and he had lapped it up.

On 1st March 1969 Jim missed his direct flight from Los Angeles to Miami, where The Doors were booked to play at the Dinner Key Auditorium, an old, stuffy hall near the harbour, constructed of corrugated iron. He sat down in a bar at the airport and drank. As there were no more direct flights, he had to change planes in New Orleans around noon, and had to wait several hours for the connecting flight. He passed his time in a restaurant, where he consumed some more drinks, after which he also missed the connecting flight. Further hours of waiting for the next connecting flight to Miami were spent drinking. Eventually he arrived at the Dinner Key Auditorium in Miami, just minutes before the beginning of the concert. He was totally drunk. The atmosphere backstage was already at its lowest point. Against an arrangement that had been made, several thousand extra spectators had been squeezed into the venue. On top of this, the promoter had raised the price of the tickets by one dollar on his own authority. And when Bill Siddons, the new manager of The Doors, voiced a desire to cancel the concert with regard to this, he discovered that the lorry that had picked up the band's equipment from the airport had suddenly and mysteriously disappeared. In the meantime inside the hall, which normally only held 7,000 people, 13,000 fans were sweating. The Dinner Key Auditorium had no air conditioning.

"That, to me, was a perfect example of a mass hallucination, because I was up there on stage with him the whole time, you know, five feet away from him, and I ..., he never did it, man, he never pulled it out, he never took his pants off. But some people swore they saw it. And what they were seeing were the snakes and demons in their own minds that Jim was ... Jim had turned into the snake man, into the 'Lizard King', and they saw the 'Lizard King' pull it out. They didn't see Jim Morrison pull it out, 'cos Jim Morrison didn't. What they think they saw is another story. It was a mass hallucination, man, it was a very, very strange night in Miami, Florida: hot, sweaty, summer night. The place held eight thousand people and they'd packed in about twelve to fifteen thousand. No air conditioning. And Jim was a little drunk that night, and he was really giving a good rap to the audience. And the music was strange. And people just saw demons, saw snakes!"
(Ray Manzarek in an interview with Jimmy Fryer, May 1974)

The surviving Doors' recollections of Miami, always choosing their wordscarefully, and sometimes slightly romanticising the evening, all mask the unalterable fact that in reality the concert was pure chaos. Someone in the audience had recorded the concert. This recording, which played an important, but sadly not a crucial role, in the subsequent court case, largely reflected what had happened that night. With this recording, as well as with numerous photographs and witness accounts, the performance in Miami can virtually be reconstructed.

More and more about this show: Doors Quarterly
A true story by David E. LeVine: Click
The Miami Incident by Jan E. Morris: Click
Lots of pics from this show: Click

Get "The Doors: On The Road" by Greg Shaw: Click

Download link in comments.

I can't recommend regular music fans to listen this awful audience recording.
But this is one of the most legendary rock concert of all time.

Friday, January 12, 2007

"Sweet Thursday" 1969

This group and their one and only album were once considered so hot, what with Nicky Hopkins, Alun Davies, and Jon Mark in the lineup, that a reissue in 1971 rated a full-page ad from the source label in Rolling Stone. In fact, it's a pleasant, well-played midtempo piece of late-1960s rock, with elements of British blues ("Side of the Road"), psychedelic harpsichords and flute ("Cobwebs"), and R&B, mid-1960s U.K. style. Alun Davies and Jon Mark are more than good enough guitar players and singers, but there nothing terribly special here in the way of songwriting. "Cobwebs" is the kind of amorphous, spacy brand of psychedelia that Donovan used to fill out his albums with, but with a bit more drive; "Dealer" is vaguely blues-ish rock driven by pseudo-profound lyrics. Jon Mark's "Rescue Me" is one of the better numbers here, dominated by Hopkins' organ playing and driven by a great beat, and carried by his attempts at a white soul vocal performance; it's no surprise for the neophyte to learn that all of these guys played with outfits like Zoot Money's Big Roll Band and the Cyril Davies All-Stars. And then there's "Gilbert Street," which shows some finesse and a robust vocal performance, and sustains interest for five minutes plus; this number must have been something to hear in concert, and a whole album like it would have lived up to a reputation stretching across the decades. It's also easy to see why this record never caught on at the time -- there isn't a real single here, or any memorable tunes, except for "Gilbert Street" -- and why it became a kind of FM standard among deejays seeking to annoy the hell out of listeners who couldn't get the record. [The Sony Music CD appears to be the first wholly legitimate compact-disc reissue of this album, which was heavily bootlegged on vinyl at one point and has also shown up on CDs of questionable origin. The sound is clean and clear, but otherwise not notable. There are no notes of any kind.] ~ Bruce Eder, All Music Guide
Plastic Penny "Currency" 1969

Their existence was notable only for their one hit single, early in 1968, with the song "Everything I Am". It reached a high of number six in the UK Singles Chart. The song was a laboured ballad, augmented by a string arrangement.

Much of the group's material was psychedelic pop, veering towards a more prog rock feel on some of their album tracks. The majority of their material was written by three of the band members, Brian Keith, Paul Raymond and Tony Murray. Keith later left the band leaving it a quartet, and Raymond took over vocal duties.

Although Plastic Penny were not remarkable in themselves, several of their number went on to greater fame. Mick Grabham moved on to play with Cochise, and then Procol Harum. Keith later became the lead vocalist with Congregation, who oddly and coincidentally, share the unwanted one hit wonder tag with Plastic Penny. Raymond later played several spells with the long-lived rock band, UFO. Nigel Olsson became an in-demand session musician, most notably drumming on much of Elton John's early work. He has also worked with the Spencer Davis Group, Uriah Heep, Kiki Dee, Neil Sedaka, Rod Stewart and Leo Sayer.

The group's third and final album, Heads I Win, Tails You Lose was a hastily put together collage of the band's more obscure recordings, issued after the group had disbanded.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Ron Sexsmith "Cobblestone Runway" 2002

A singer/songwriter whose strong suit is his warmth and humanity wouldn't seem like a likely prospect to be teamed up with a bunch of electronic keyboards, drum machines, and other bits of hi-tech hardware, but after leaving behind Mitchell Froom's tape-loop fantasias for Steve Earle's rootsy and straightforward production on Blue Boy, Ron Sexsmith takes another sonic left-turn on his fifth album, Cobblestone Runway (his sixth if you include his first self-released cassette, Grand Opera Lane). Cobblestone Runway finds Sexsmith embracing electronics with surprising enthusiasm, but he has the good sense not to drown himself in them; while "These Days" features a prominent drum loop and echoey white-noise keyboard patches, the chilly undertow is offset by some soulful backing vocals and the (slightly) rumpled sincerity of Sexsmith's voice and acoustic guitar, and the spacey synth lines on "Disappearing Act" find their complement in a gloriously low-tech electric guitar. Much like Mark Eitzel on The Invisible Man, Ron Sexsmith has found a way to breathe a very human sense of emotional openness into his spare electronic backings ("Heart's Desire" even winds up with a bit of noisy but high-groove jamming), and Cobblestone Runway serves his songs as well as any album he's ever made. Of course, it helps that (as usual) Sexsmith has written a dozen winners here, from the lament for the sad state of love on "These Days" to the realist's bid for optimism on "Gold In Them Hills," and the purposefully childlike "God Loves Everyone" is one of the truly effective musical pleas for human tolerance to emerge post-September 11. On his last few releases, Ron Sexsmith 'the recording artist' appears to be finally catching up with Ron Sexsmith 'the gifted songwriter,' and if Cobblestone Runway's surfaces may initially puzzle a few fans, the heart, soul, and hard-won wisdom of these performances confirm that he's finally mastered the recording studio, and it ranks with his best-realized work to date. (The disc also features a second version of "Gold In Them Hills" as a bonus, featuring a duet vocal with Chris Martin of Coldplay.) ~ Mark Deming, All Music Guide

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

"Battlefield Band" 1977

Battlefield Band play Scottish music of a rare passion and joy. Inspired by their rich heritage of Celtic music and fired by the strength and vibrancy of today's Scottish cultural scene, which indeed they have done much to create and fuel, they have led, and been at the forefront, of a great revival in Scottish music. Refusing to be limited musically by suffocating antiquarianism, or the 'music biz' fashions, they have mixed the old songs and music with a new self-penned repertoire, all played on a fusion of ancient and modern instruments - bagpipes, fiddle, synthesiser, guitar, flutes, bodhran and accordion.

Named after the Glasgow suburb of Battlefield, where the group was formed by four student friends, Battlefield Band have been on the world's roads for just on 30 years now, distilling their own unique form of the Scottish spirit and bottling it in concert and onto disc - Germany, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Holland, Syria, Jordan, India, Sri Lanka, Egypt, U.S.A., Canada and the U.K. They have broken down barriers and pioneered many new directions which others have followed. Angry, joyful, raucous, contemplative, their music is most importantly - accessible to all.

Pete Heywood (The Living Tradition):
This is a re-issue of the album originally released on the Topic label in 1977. Simply titled "Battlefield Band" with its predominantly white cover, I referred to it as their "white album" and, like the Beatles' White album, this was, and still is, a classy release.

At this time they had a release out on the French Arfolk label (with three guest pipers whose names and photographs were all transposed on the sleeve), but this was a major album on what was THE folk label of the time. The front cover shows the band grouped around their famous pedal organ (a stripped down harmonium), the line up being Brian McNeill, Alan Reid, Jamie McMenemy and John Gahagan, the principal instruments being fiddle, cittern, whistle, concertina, guitar and harmonium. In the background of the photograph is a thirteen amp socket on the wall with no plug in it. I don't know if this was deliberate, but the album was acoustic.

The album contains the same mix of songs and instrumentals that has been typical of Battlefield over the years. Brian McNeill had not really developed his songwriting at that stage and there were no pipes on this album. The arrangements were simpler than many of the later albums with little in the way of double tracking and this was very much their live sound.

In the 70's, Glasgow and the West of Scotland were certainly producing a lot of talented performers with strands of development which would make an interesting family tree. Jamie McMenemy eventually moved to Brittany and the group KORNOG, spreading the musical web, John Gahagan went on to Kentigern and still pops up in various guises and Brian McNeill and Alan Reid remained at the heart of many great Battlefield lineups, recording over a dozen albums.

This album is definitely one to add to your collection especially if you like acoustic bands. It still sounds as fresh and innovative as ever and could still teach many of today's bands a thing or two.

Brian McNeill: fiddle, cittern, viola, concertina, mandoline
Alan Reid: organ, vocal, guitar
John Gahagan: whistle, concertina
Jamie McMenemy: cittern, vocal, Portuguese guitarra

More about the band: Official website
Blackthorn "Market Town" 1996
(Not 70's UK band)

Blackthorn is a Vancouver (Canada) - based folk group whose repertoire celebrates the traditional music of Ireland, Scotland and England, as well as folk music (including originals) of Canada. Savour the harmonies of the Celtic ballads, the boisterous, up-tempo folk songs, and dance to the lively jigs and hornpipes.

Over 14 years of professional playing makes Blackthorn "Vancouver's most experienced and seasoned Celtic band".

Market Town by Blackthorn, is a similarly ballad-centered album from Canada. Blackthorn features both male and female vocals, fiddle, guitar, mandolins, banjo, flute, piccolo, whistle, accordion, bass, bodhran and percussion; clearly they're capable of widely varying arrangements. Like Walsh's, their album features mostly well-covered tunes and songs, although a few more obscure ones, like " 'Twas Pretty to Be in Ballinderry" do appear. Also on the minus side, the singing is a bit mannered; clearly these are North Americans trying hard! On the other hand, the playing and arrangements are quite sophisticated and make use of all those instruments nicely. Their tunes, too, have a North American (contradance?) feeling to them, but it's not as distracting there. In all, a good job and a fun listen.
Susan McKeown "Blackthorn: Irish Love Songs" 2006

New York-based Irish singer Susan McKeown employs both an English and a Gaelic title for this album, which is known both as Blackthorn: Irish Love Songs and An Draighneán Donn: Amhráin Grá. That is appropriate, since she also sings most of the songs in Gaelic. McKeown has become something of a musicologist, and here she has done extensive research into traditional material; the songs are extensively annotated in the CD booklet, both by her and by Tom Munnelly, to trace the origins of the tunes back centuries. But McKeown is not simply an aural historian, as she does not hesitate to manipulate the music to her own ends. For example, although the original lyrics to "I Am a Girl from the Suir-Side," a song dating back to the 16th century, are lost, she substitutes an English poem of similar vintage that fits the music for "Caleno Custure Me." And the spare instrumentation, usually consisting of only one or two instruments, sometimes plays arrangements that range far from traditional Celtic sounds. "'S Ambó Éara (The Man for Me)," which also features singer Róisín Chambers as well as Edmar Castenada on harp and Robbie Harris on percussion, sounds less like a Scottish folk song than an African one. Blackthorn: Irish Love Songs is both an inventive work of scholarship and a musical treat. ~ William Ruhlmann, All Music Guide

Monday, January 08, 2007

R.I.P Steve Hayton

Tim Sharman's comment:
from Tim Sharman, former manager of Daddy Longlegs, Daylight, Andromeda etc.

I have some very sad news to report. A few weeks ago Steve Hayton, founder member and guitarist of Daddy Longlegs, died.

The news reached me on Christmas Day and really took the edge of the festivities. He told me that he had signs of cancer but was hoping a trip to the US from his Tobago home would find some treatment.

I intend to prepare a short piece as soon as I can, as a way to celebrate a fine player, a good friend and a real gent.

I am not in the business now so if you can suggest a site where I can post Steve's obit I would be much obliged.

For the record, other DLL members - Moe Armstrong and Kurt Palomaki are busy surviving in the states and piano man Pete Arnesen is now a distinguished teacher of jazz and popular music at the esteemed Mozarteum Academy in his home town of Salzburg.

Anyone who has anecdotes or memories of Steve, I would be happy to collect them.

Best wishes, Tim Sharman,

RIP, Steve Hayton

Daddy Longlegs - Oakdown Farm (guitar, vocals)
Krysia Kocjan - Krysia (guitar)
Mick Softley - Street Singer (guitar, harmonica)
Julie Felix - Lightning (acoustic guitar)
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