Sunday, August 5, 2007

Bad Company - Run With The Pack (1976) (@256)

(Review from amazon)

By 1976, Bad Company was really beginning to make a name for themselves. If you thought Straight Shooter was a bit of a step down from Bad Company's debut, any feelings you may have had about the band's quality diminishing should be shattered by Run With The Pack. Although it didn't have as many hits as, say, the band's 1974 debut, the quality of music is nothing less.

Starting things off is the classic rock anthem Live For The Music, which is unquestionably one of the finest tunes the group ever recorded. "Simple Man" and "Honey Child" are lighter numbers that are no less excellent, and show off those amazing vocals only Paul Rodgers can do. And then we get the title track, which was a minor hit. This song is a classic rock masterpiece, combining elements of harder classic rock with more melodic ones - and even employing some orchestral arrangements. After that we go right into the album's big hit, Silver Blue And Gold. Bad Company actually recorded quite a few ballads, but this one just might be the best of the bunch. Combining a melodic song structure with elements of classic pop-rock, the band succeeded in creating a masterpiece. The strangest on the album track comes next - it's a cover of the old Coasters song Young Blood. Though not the best work on here, it's still solid. And closing out the album are several underrated Bad Company tunes you're not likely to hear on the radio any time soon, including the masterful Fade Away.

Run With The Pack captures the band in a prime no other did. Admittingly, this is a bit more of an acquired taste than the band's self-titled debut (which is where new fans should start), but if you're already into Bad Company, get this one -- you won't regret it.

Line-Up :
* Paul Rodgers - Vocals, Piano, Guitar
* Mick Ralphs - Lead Guitar
* Boz Burrell - Bass Guitar
* Simon Kirke - Drums

Track List :
01. Live for the Music - 3:58
02. Simple Man - 3:37
03. Honey Child - 3:15
04. Love Me Somebody - 3:09
05. Run With the Pack - 5:21
06. Silver, Blue and Gold - 5:03
07. Young Blood - 2:37
08. Do Right by Your Woman - 2:51
09. Sweet Lil' Sister - 3:29
10. Fade Away - 2:54

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Kansas - Masque (1975) (@256)

(Review from

Sonically as strong as its great predecessor, "Masque" starting with two comercially oriented tracks, the listener can tell that this band can genuinely rock without losing its musical distinction. 'It Takes a Woman's Love...' takes a lesson from the school of GFR, while 'Two Cents Worth' indulges in a rock-blues context with a funny vibe related to the ironic testimony of a decadent drunk. Both songs are sort of stylish, but let's face it, only entertaining, not really substantial.

From 'Icarus' onwards things stand up to the usual level of classic Kansas grandeur in a very consistent manner. 'Icarus' is a multicolored rocker that starts softly with those high piano arpeggios accompanied by refined washes on synth and violin: these washes announce the splendid display of well-ordained complexity that is to be developed fluidly by the full band. This song has great energy and a sense of darkness married very cohesively. 'All the World', one overlooked song (undeservedly so), finds the band digging deeper in the dark side, creating avery interesting contrast between the languid sung passages and the harder-edged motifs that complete the instrumental interlude. The latter includes aggressive violin stuff and weird synth ornaments that keep a creepy aura to the song in avery effective way. Too many good qualities for a song that shouldn't be so overlooked.

The album goes on with a good rocker, 'Child of Innocence', that combines the hooks of powerful guitar riffing and the sense of cleverness provided by the moderate use of tempo shifts along the way. "It's You" returns to the easy going spirit of the first two tracks, but elluding their frivolity by the dynamic use of violin solos and solid interplaying between the piano and organ. "It's You" is an adequate moment of rest between the solemnity of "Child of Innocence" and the uneasy torment of "Mysteries and Mauyhem", one of the fiercest Kansas pieces ever. This track is both ballsy and complex, virile yet unearthly, a reckless flame with a controlled fire: the two guitars, the organ and the violin fight constantly (and successfully) to keep up with each other's challenges, while the rhythm duo creates a bullet proof pace for the overall sound.

The magnificent closer 'The Pinnacle', a showcase for Livgren's ability to mix emotion and reason in both lyrics and music. This tale of mystical experiences of the mind in its struggle to grasp and accept the fact of death couldn't find a better sonic accomplice than this succession of beautiful motifs, violin leads, the organ solo of Walsh, etc. In a few words, the utilisation of the band's output as an orchestra. This 9+ minute gem has to be one of the best album closers ever: the last section and the final climax are spine chilling - pure emotion recycled across the incarnation of great musical inventiveness.

Line-up :
- Phil Ehart / drums, Moog drums, assorted percussion
- Dave Hope / bass
- Kerry Livgren / guitars, keyboards
- Robbie Steinhardt / lead vocals, violin
- Steve Walsh / lead vocals, keyboards, congas
- Rich Williams / electric guitars

Track List :
01. It Takes a Woman's Love (To Make a Man) (3:09)
02. Two Cents Worth (3:10)
03. Icarus (Borne on the Wings of Steel)
04. All Over the World
05. Child of Innocence
06. It's You
07. Mysteries and Mayhem
08. The Pinnacle
09. Child of Innocence (Bonus Rehearsal)
10. It's You (Bonus Demo)

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Saturday, August 4, 2007

Eddie Boyd (with Fleetwood Mac) - 7936 South Rhodes (1968) (@192)

(Review from,

Recorded in London in January 1968 with three members of the original lineup of Fleetwood Mac : Peter Green (guitar), John McVie (bass) and Mick Fleetwood (drums). It's an adequate setting for Boyd's straight Chicago piano blues, going heavier on the slow-to-mid-tempo numbers than the high-spirited ones. Compared to the howling textures that normally characterize Green's solos, the tones here are quiet, clear, and shimmering.

Line-up :
Eddie Boyd - Piano, Vocals
Mick Fleetwood - Drums
Peter Green - Guitar
John McVie - Bass

Track List :
01. You Got to Reap
02. Just the Blues
03. She's Real
04. Back Slack
05. Be Careful
06. Ten to One
07. Blues Is Here to Stay
08. You Are My Love
09. Third Degree
10. Thank You Baby
11. She's Gone
12. I Can't Stop Loving You

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Black Sabbath - Mob Rules (1981) (@256)

(Review from, amazon, wikipedia)

1981's Mob Rules was the second Black Sabbath album to feature vertically challenged singer Ronnie James Dio, whose powerful pipes and Dungeons and Dragons lyrics initially seemed like the perfect replacement for the recently departed and wildly popular Ozzy Osbourne. In fact, all the ingredients which had made their first outing, Heaven and Hell, so successful are re-utilized on this album, including legendary metal producer Martin Birch and supporting keyboard player Geoff Nichols.

"The Mob Rules" is a magnificent record, with the only serious problem being the sequencing of the material, which mirrors "Heaven and Hell" almost to a tee. In that light, one can't help but compare otherwise compelling tracks like "Turn Up the Night" and "Voodoo" to their more impressive Heaven and Hell counterparts, "Neon Knights" and "Children of the Sea". This unhappy streak is finally snapped by the unconventional "E5150," a synthesizer-driven instrumental. Then, the unbelievably heavy, seven-minute epic "The Sign of the Southern Cross" delivers one of the album's best moments before unleashing the roaring title track. When the band slows things down in the middle of the otherwise heavy "Country Girl", you can't help but be impressed. Out of the last three songs, "Falling Off the Edge of the World" stands out with its dark lyrics -- it is perhaps the most overlooked secret gem to come from the Dio era.

Line-up :
* Ronnie James Dio – vocals
* Tony Iommi – guitar
* Geezer Butler – bass guitar
* Vinny Appice – drums
* Geoff Nicholls – keyboards

Track List :
01. Turn Up the Night - 3:42
02. Voodoo - 4:32
03. The Sign of the Southern Cross - 7:46
04. E5150 - 2:54
05. The Mob Rules - 3:14
06. Country Girl - 4:02
07. Slipping Away - 3:45
08. Falling Off the Edge of the World - 5:02
09. Over and Over - 5:28

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Kansas - Song for America (1975) (@256)

(Review from,

Kansas sure can play complex melodies, harmonic counterpoints, and unusual time signatures, and yet, always find a space to show off tight sounding rock, energetic blues, high-spirited country-rock and make it an integral of their own progressive style. With the band's second release, they really hit their full stride.

"Down the Road" gets the album off aggressively with its tale of a dope peddler pulling out of Dodge. There's the title track, which still many people will champion as the band's finest moment. The broad melody that opens the song is just perfect, a terrific mixture of grand and bittersweet. It's like John Ford filming Yellowstone, panning lavishly at widescreen level and conjuring up images of a "pre"-America: an exhilarative, unspoiled paradise. The closing theme, by contrast, is an obsessive weaving of a 7/4 riff over a balance of tentatively ascending and descending chords in 4/4 while a sing-song melody whistles away. It might well represent the America of now, the America of industry, fatigue, and reductionism. If the opening theme is a musical exclamation point, the closing theme fades the song out like a cautionary question mark: what will eventually become of the society blindly sapping the "virgin land of forest green"?

"Lamplight Symphony" and "Incomudro" are also top-notch, and with their use of the polyphonic string synths are strongly reminiscent of Camel at times. Similar to "Song for America", these both open with sweeping, anthemic melodies that instantly catch the listener's attention and drift into lengthy instrumental middle sections. Unlike "America", however, the verses retreat in dynamic to accommodate the more introspective natures of the songs. "Lamplight Symphony" is really lovely, which tells of an old man confronted with the spirit of his dead wife on a winter's night. Detractors roll their eyes at the admittedly overblown, goth-romantic elements of the song and the obvious symbolism (winter/night/death, etc). However, when I hear the song, I tune in to its basic emotional elements universal to human experience: memory, time, and the loss felt of departed loved ones. "Incomudro", is more like an enigmatic philosophical reflection than a story, but whatever it's about, it has some particularly impressive Hammond work in the beginning of the song and a dazzling climax that seals the album.

This album marked the beginning of a golden age for Kansas.

Line-up :
- Phil Ehart / drums
- Dave Hope / bass, backing vocals
- Kerry Livgren / guitars, keyboards, backing vocals
- Robbie Steinhardt / lead vocals, violin
- Steve Walsh / lead vocals, keyboards
- Rich Williams / lead guitar

Track List :
01. Down the Road (3:43)
02. Song for America (10:03)
03. Lamplight Symphony (8:17)
04. Lonely Street (5:43)
05. The Devil Game (5:04)
06. Incomudro - Hymn to the Atman (12:12)

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Friday, August 3, 2007

Cardeilhac - Cardeilhac (1973) (@256)

(Info from Crack in the Cosmic Egg,

This is one of lost Swiss bands who only produced one album and after the album was released no one knew where the band or its members were going.

The music is heavy progressive, dominated by keyboards & guitars, blending British 60's styles with the typically Teutonic 70's hard-rock sound, notably inspired by Deep Purple, along with some more progressive touches.

Line-up :
- Rinaldo Häusier / guitars
- Denis Angelini / vocals
- J-C. Balsinger / bass
- Andrö Locher / organ
- Gaston Balmer / drums

Track List :
01. Pick Up Your Gun
02. Everybody
03. Pushers Dwell
04. Sadness
05. She Don't Care
06. Neutral
07. Nightmare
08. Loch Ness

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Fleetwood Mac - The Original Fleetwood Mac (1967-68) (@256)

(Review from allmusic)

The Original Fleetwood Mac is a compilation album, first released in 1971. It consists of various outtakes recorded by the original line-up of the band in 1967-68.

Prior to the addition of Danny Kirwan (guitar/vocals) in August of 1968, the Fleetwood Mac were a quartet. With the exception of Spencer, the rest of the Fleetwood Mac had (at one time or another) been part of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. While further exploring the textural variations of their respective blues origins, it was Green who quickly emerged as the leader, even though McVie and Mick Fleetwood retained the band's namesake. As these cuts exemplify, it was Green's stellar fretwork and composition that coalesced this unit. Evidence abounds on the derivative "Drifting" and "First Train Home," which retains much of the vibe heard on the Chicago-influenced "Rambling Pony No. 2" -- an unabashed overhaul of Muddy Waters' classic "Rollin' and Tumblin'". The slightly trippy "A Fool No More" and the jammed-out instrumental "Fleetwood Mac" are uniformly inspired, more so than the rote reworkings of Lafayette Leake's "Love That Woman" or Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup's "Mean Old Fireman." The latter is otherwise notable however for Green's acoustic contributions.

Line-up :
* Peter Green - vocals, guitar, harmonica
* Jeremy Spencer - vocals, slide guitar
* John McVie - bass
* Mick Fleetwood - drums

Track List :
01. Drifting
02. Leaving Town Blues
03. Watch Out
04. A Fool No More
05. Mean Old Fireman
06. Can't Afford To Do It
07. Fleetwood Mac
08. Worried Dream
09. Love That Woman
10. Allow Me One More Show
11. First Train Home
12. Rambling Pony No.2
13. Watch Out (Take1)
14. Something Inside Of Me (Take 1)
15. Something Inside Of Me (Take 2)
16. Something Inside Of Me (Take 3)
17. One Sunny Day
18. Without You
19. Coming Your Way

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Kansas - Kansas (1974) (@256)

(Review from,

Formed in Topeka in 1970, the founding members of Kansas -- guitarist Kerry Livgren, bassist Dave Hope, and drummer Phil Ehart -- first played together while in high school; with the 1971 addition of classically trained violinist Robbie Steinhardt, they changed their name to White Clover, reverting back to the Kansas moniker for good upon the 1972 arrivals of vocalist/keyboardist Steve Walsh and guitarist Richard Williams. The group spent the early part of the decade touring relentlessly and struggling for recognition; initially, their mix of boogie and prog rock baffled club patrons, but in due time they established a strong enough following to win a record deal. The group knew just how to create an identity and signature sound of their own by combining progressive rock strongly influenced by the British scene with more typically American-sounding, melodic 70's hard rock.

Their self-titled debut from 1974 showed that their formula worked extremely well, most thanks to strong material and the band's tight and technically impressive performance. The two first songs on the album, "Can I Tell You" and a cover of J. J. Cale's "Bringing it Back", showed the basic and rocking side of their sound, although Steinhardt's violin and Walsh' various keyboards gave them a fresh and colourful sound. The mellow ballad "Lonely Wind" became one of the better-known songs from the album, as it also was the single. "Belexes" brings the band back in harder rocking territory again, but they finally and ultimately flexes all their progressive muscles in the masterful epic "Journey from Mariabronn" that clearly showed Livgren as the most progressive oriented songwriter in the band. The track is a feast for anyone who loves classic 70's progressive rock, and demonstrates to the full what a tight, powerful and energetic band Kansas really were.

Side 2 opens with the short, but still slightly sophisticated "The Pilgrimage" before we're in for more progressive bliss in "Apercu". Walsh sings the lyrics in a melodic and emotional manner that would prove typical of him, while the instrumental passages usually were left over to his organ, synths, Steinhardt's violin and Livgren's guitar. The two musical styles of the band is finally fused together in the closer "Death of Mother Nature Suite". This thundering heavy progressive epic features lyrics that showed a clear social consciousness from Livgren's side.

The band would still have to wait some time to finally take off commercially, but their debut was musically superb anyway.

Line-up :
- Phil Ehart / drums
- Dave Hope / bass, backing vocals
- Kerry Livgren / lead & Rhythm guitar, backing vocals, keyboards
- Robbie Steinhardt / violin, lead vocals
- Steve Walsh / lead vocals, organ, piano, congas
- Rich Williams / lead guitar

Track List :
01. Can I Tell You (3:31)
02. Bringing it Back (3:33)
03. Lonely Wind (4:15)
04. Belexes (4:22)
05. Journey from Mariabronn (7:55)
06. The Pilgrimage (3:42)
07. Apercu (9:43)
08. Death of Mother Nature suite (7:43)

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Thursday, August 2, 2007

Rainbow - Live in Munich (1977) (Video)

(Review from

This concert was recorded in Munich on October 20, 1977, at Rainbow's 1977 European tour, a few months prior to the release of their third studio album, "Long Live Rock n' Roll". It was originally filmed to air on the German TV "Rockpalast" show.

This video captures the mindblowing spirit of Rainbow in those days: the powerful voice and enthousiastic performance by Ronnie James Dio (the ultimate hardrock singer), the great and varied guitarwork by the former Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, the powerhouse rhythm-section and the exciting extra dimension to Rainbow their sound by David Stone on his wide range of vintage keyboards, the sensational huge illuminated rainbow on stage and the filming of the band and the members, very tasteful and captivating. We can watch a lot of exciting shots on Ritchie Blackmore playing on his Fender Stratocaster, often near his huge Marshall amplifier, sometimes with soft blue light, at other moments in a sea of coloured lights. The highlights on the video include: great vocals and a long and compelling solo with subtle use of the tremolo-arm in the bluesy "Mistreated", fragile Bach-inspired guitarplay during the intro of "Sixteenth Century Greenslaves", a bluesy guitar solo in the final part of "Man On The Silver Mountain" (close to the early Deep Purple sound), a sensational drumsolo by Cozy Powell, in the closing section accompanied by bombastic classical orchestrations in "Still I'm Sad" and a biting guitarsolo in the final concert track "Do You Close Your Eyes". But one gets really carried away by keyboard player David Stone's performance during Still I'm Sad: the intro delivers stunning work on Hammond (church organ sound) and Mellotron (majestic choir-section), halfway this composition he got a solo spot in which he plays sensational pitchbend-driven flights on two Minimoogs, it sounds like 'Seventies' Rick Wakeman meets 'Pulstar' Vangelis, goose bumps!

This video is close to the heavy magic of 70s Deep Purple and Uriah Heep, what a power and skills, a 70s rock document!

Video : Xvid, 704x480, 29.97 fps
Audio : AC3, Stereo, 48000 Hz, 256.0 kbit/s
Total Runtime : 113 min

Line-up :
* Ritchie Blackmore - Guitar
* Ronnie James Dio - Vocals
* Cozy Powell - Drums
* Bob Daisley - Bass
* David Stone - Keyboards

Track List :
01. Intro - 1:44
02. Kill the King - 4:42
03. Mistreated - 11:49
04. Sixteenth Century Greensleeves - 8:52
05. Catch the Rainbow - 18:44
06. Long Live Rock 'n' Roll - 8:01
07. Man on the Silver Mountain - 16:25
08. Still I'm Sad - 27:33
09. Do You Close Your Eyes? - 15:40

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Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Thrice Mice - Thrice Mice (1970) (@256)

(Info from, Cosmic Dreams At Play)

Thrice Mice grew up from a beat school as a sextet from Hamburg, playing the distinctive German type of progressive jazz-rock typified by underground legends like Xhol and Out Of Focus. For those days they had a very unique blend of jazz elements, influences from classical themes and heavy rock using some technical sound effects that bring Hawkwind into one's mind. Although the four compositions are basically rather melodic and straightforward they’re highly enriched by improvising solos, intricate dual sax playing and use of big band-alike brass.

The classically inspired "Vivaldi" was quite a big success for them when they played it live (can be heard as a bonus track on the CD release). Each one of the other three tracks is based on either a particular theme or story. "Jo Joe" is about someone's idiosyncratic philosophy, “Fancy Desiree” is inspired by Joachim Ringelnatz’s novel "Fancy Desire" and "Trakov" is telling the very personal experiences of some band members with a Finnish girl on a camp tour in Sweden.

Line-up :
- Wolfgang Buhre / saxophone
- Karl Heinz Blumenberg / vocals
- Werner Von Bohsen / guitar
- Wolfram Munnemann / organ
- Arno Bredehoft / drums
- Rainer Von Gosen / bass

Track List :
01. Jo Joe
02. Vivaldi
03. Trakov
04. Fancy Desiree
05. Drive Me (Bonus)
06. Pig II (Bonus)
07. Vivaldi's Revival (Bonus)
08. Trying (Bonus)
09. New Life (Bonus)
10. Dawn (Bonus)
11. An Invitation (Bonus)

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Fleetwood Mac - Live at the BBC (1968-71) (@256)

(Review from allmusic)

"Live At The BBC" is a double album, recorded at various BBC radio sessions between 1967 and 1971.

If you've ever wondered what the original Fleetwood Mac really sounded like, these BBC Recordings give a very good idea. They're one part blues band, one part oldies act, one part serious, and one part tongue very much in cheek. Any band that could play Elmore James and B.B. King blues with absolute precision and passion one minute and become a drunken lunatic rockabilly band the next had to have chops and a sense of humor and this version of the Mac had both in spades. Jeremy Spencer craziness balances out Peter Green's seriousness, while Kirwan and the rhythm section of McVie and Fleetwood rope it all in.

Line-up :
* Peter Green - Guitar, Vocals
* Jeremy Spencer - Guitar, Vocals, Piano
* Mick Fleetwood - Percussion, Drums
* John McVie - Bass
* Danny Kirwan - Guitar, Vocals

Track List :
01. Rattlesnake Shake (1970)
02. Sandy Mary (1970)
03. I Believe My Time Ain't Long (1967)
04. Although The Sun Is Shining (1969)
05. Only You (1970)
06. You Never Know What You're Missing (1969)
07. Oh Well (1969)
08. Can't Believe You Wanna Leave (1969)
09. Jenny Lee (1970)
10. Heavenly (1969)
11. When Will I Be Loved (1970)
12. When I See My Baby (1970)
13. Buddy's Song (1970)
14. Honey Hush (1970)
15. Preachin' (1971)
16. Jumping At Shadows (1969)
17. Preachin' Blues (1968)
18. Need Your Love So Bad (1968)
01. Long Grey Mare (1967)
02. Sweet Home Chicago (1968)
03. Baby Please Set A Date (1967)
04. Blues With A Feeling (1969)
05. Stop Messing Round (1968)
06. Tallahassee Lassie (1969)
07. Hang On To A Dream (1968)
08. Linda (1969)
09. Mean Mistreatin' Mama (1968)
10. World Keeps Turning (1968)
11. I Can't Hold Out (1968)
12. Early Morning Come (1969)
13. Albatross (1968)
14. Looking For Somebody (1967)
15. A Fool No More
16. Got To Move (1967)
17. Like Crying Like Dying
18. Man Of The World (1969)

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Rainbow - Stranger In Us All (1995) (@256)

(Review from wikipedia)

Blackmore left Deep Purple in 1993 and formed a new Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow. The band released Stranger in Us All in 1995 and embarked on a lengthy world tour.

With a style comfortably sitting somewhere between the dungeons and dragons approach of the Ronnie James Dio era and the radio friendly commerciality of the Joe Lynn Turner era; Stranger In Us All had a sound dissimilar to any Rainbow of old. The superb vocal flexibility of Doogie White proved once again Blackmore's knack of finding relatively unknown talent and giving them a vehicle to further success.

However, fed up with stadium rock, Blackmore turned his attention to Renaissance and medieval music, a lifelong interest of his. Rainbow was put on hold once again and played its final concert in Esbjerg, Denmark in 1997. Blackmore, together with his partner Candice Night as vocalist, then formed the renaissance-influenced Blackmore's Night who are still recording albums, and performing small intimate tours, completely in contrast to Rainbow's mammoth stadium shows.

In late 1997, Cozy Powell approached Ritchie Blackmore to see if he would be interested in reforming the Rising line-up of Rainbow. Due to everyone's prior commitments, this proposed re-union was not meant to last more than one tour, both Ronnie James Dio and Ritchie Blackmore had almost given the project the green light. However Cozy Powell's death in April 1998, also brought about the demise of the long awaited re-union. In the decade since, many other rumours have been announced from various sources, of a future Dio/Blackmore Rainbow project, but both men have always been quick in dispelling these rumours as having no basis in fact.

Line-up :
* Ritchie Blackmore - Guitar
* Doogie White - Vocals
* John O'Reilly - Drums
* Greg Smith - Bass
* Paul Morris - Keyboards

Track List :
01. Wolf to the Moon - 4:16
02. Cold Hearted Woman - 4:31
03. Hunting Humans (Insatiable) - 5:45
04. Stand and Fight - 5:22
05. Ariel - 5:39
06. Too Late for Tears - 4:50
07. Black Masquerade - 5:35
08. Silence - 4:04
09. Hall of the Mountain King - 5:34
10. Still I'm Sad - 5:22

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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Frank Zappa - Joe's Garage Acts I, II and III (1979) (@256)

(Review from

Frank Zappa's satirical rock opera, Joe's Garage, is ambitious and mad, brilliant, peculiar and incoherent–epithets that have also been applied to German expressionist Georg Buchner's unfinished play, Woyzeck. This may seem like a ludicrously lofty cross-cultural reference to attach to an album most notorious for a song about Catholic girls' aptitude for fellatio, but there you have it. As a music maker and recording artist, Zappa has always cultivated two warring images – the serious composer with a social satirist's sense of irony versus the smutty crowd pleaser with a puerile sense of humor. No matter how much fans of Hot Rats complain that their hero's "seriousness" is compromised by the "frivolousness" of "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow" (or vice versa), Zappa remains true to himself: the mensch with a dirty mind.

Written in three acts, Joe's Garage ties the dual extremes of Frank Zappa's sensibility closer together than ever. An attack on authoritarianism in which fascist governments, self-help pseudoreligions and the music industry are inextricably linked, the opera simultaneously tells the tale of a boy and girl. The boy, Joe, sings the title tune about his humble rock & roll band whose day of fame came and quickly went. Most of Act I is given over to the saga of Joe's girlfriend, Mary, who moves from blowing Catholic boys in the church basement (having been tutored by the parish's resident expert, Father Riley) to being "Crew Slut" for a touring rock group to competing in a "Wet T-Shirt Nite" contest for bus fare home, where she arrives wrecked for good. Hearing of her exploits, Joe seeks consolation from a taco-stand waitress, who gives him VD.

In Act II, Joe joins L. Ron Hoover's Church of Appliantology, in which he learns that he's a "latent appliance fetishist." He studies German (don't ask why), dresses as a housewife (ditto) and goes to a bar called the Closet. There, he picks up a Kitchen Machinery named Sy Borg, who "plooks" him with his "hot curly weenie" and takes him home for an orgy with an orally fixated Gay Bob doll. However, Joe destroys Sy Borg in some S&M byplay, is sent to jail and gang-banged by a squadron of record-company executives. Music has been outlawed by the government in an attempt to unify the people through "total criminalization," so our hero survives his prison term by imagining guitar solos.

Released from jail at the beginning of Act III, Joe enters an orderly society of mindless, obedient consumers. Still crazed, he thinks that everyone can hear his imagined guitar solos and that critics are even reviewing them. Then, after a vision of Mary convinces him it's all in his head, he dutifully forgets music and gets a job in the Utility Muffin Research Kitchen. This pleases the Central Scrutinizer, who's narrated the entire fantastic story.

Joe's Garage is also the brave and revealing (albeit depressing) meditation of a man who wonders why he's squandered his life and talent on the scuzzy business of rock & roll. In his inimitable and ironic way, Frank Zappa recognizes his own complicity in a rock culture that runs on money, reveres machines and promotes stupidity. He exposes the sexual hang-ups of men who desperately want to fuck and be sucked, yet have nothing but contempt for anyone who satisfies them sexually. Though he refuses to preach, Zappa champions individualism by fantasizing the horror of the alternative: he makes "You'll love it, it's a way of life!" one of the most chilling come-ons you've ever heard.

If the surface of this opera is cluttered with cheap gags and musical mishmash, its soul is located in profound existential sorrow. The guitar solos that Zappa plays in Joe's imagination burn with a desolate, devastating beauty.

Line-up :
- Frank Zappa / guitar, keyboards, vocals, arranger, conductor, producer
- Ed Mann / percussion, vocals
- Jimmy Carl Black / percussion, drums
- Ike Willis / vocals
- Arthur Barrow / bass, vocals
- Terry Bozzio / drums, percussion
- Vinnie Colaiuta / percussion, drums
- Warren Cuccurullo / organ, guitar, vocals, choir, chorus
- Patrick O'Hearn / bass, wind
- Denny Walley / guitar, vocals, slide guitar
- Peter Wolf / keyboards
- Marginal Chagrin / saxophone, sax (Baritone)
- Tommy Mars / keyboards
- Craig Steward / harmonica
- Stumuk / saxophone, sax (bass)
- Geordie Hormel / choir, chorus
- Al Malkin / choir, chorus
- Dale Bozzio / choir, chorus
- Barbara Isaak / choir, chorus

Track List :
01. Central Scrutinizer
02. Joe's Garage
03. Catholic Girls
04. Crew Slut
05. Wet T-Shirt Night
06. Toad O Line
07. Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?
08. Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up
09. Scrutinizer Postlude
10. A Token of My Extreme
11. Stick It Out
12. Sy Borg
01. Dong Work for Yuda
02. Keep It Greasey
03. Outside Now
04. He Used to Cut the Grass
05. Packard Goose
06. Watermelon in Easter Hay
07. A Little Green Rosetta

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Fleetwood Mac - Kiln House (1970) (@192)

(Review from wikipedia, amazon)

Fleetwood Mac were arguably the most popular band in Europe at the time. However, Peter Green, the frontman of the band, was not in good health. He had been spiked with LSD in Munich, which began the onset of his schizophrenia. In Munich, Green penned what would be his last hit with Fleetwood Mac, "The Green Manalishi (With the Two-Prong Crown)" (which was later recorded by Judas Priest). Green's mental stability deteriorated, and he wanted to give all of the band's money to charity. The rest of the band did not concur. Green decided to leave the band. His last show with Fleetwood Mac was on May 20, 1970.

The band, somewhat reluctantly, kept on without Peter Green and despite press reports suggesting Danny Kirwan would assume leadership, the media-savvy Fleetwood took over as business manager of the band. In September 1970, Fleetwood Mac released Kiln House.

Their first album without Peter Green, finds the remaining members trying to maintain the band's guitar-heavy, blues-rock approach, with the burden falling on Spencer and Kirwan. The result was an album that is a mother lode of riffs, tributes, and all-out joyfulness. Spencer and Kirwan really led each other to new displays of vibrato magic and chunky chord displays that made it a 'different' sound. More importantly, the vocals (especially Spencer's eclectic identity changes) make this more approachable.

Spencer's composing skills were rejuvenated with a variety of styles, including his recognized bottleneck work and piano. The tunes start off with the Elvis-splashed "This is the Rock", a nifty shuffle that reminds us about the heart of the matter of this thing called rock 'n roll. With an off-beat percussion tumbling away, "Station Man" displays the group's voices against challenging squawks of slide and lead, and salsa-thick chords that literally chomp away like a hand saw through wood.

Spencer always enjoyed displaying a variety of alter egos on stage and he keeps the engine stoked with a couple of humorous numbers, including the country-western "Blood on the Floor" and the raucous, sneering "Hi Ho Silver". Going back to rock's early influences, he and Kirwan buzz on guitar as Buddy Holly and the Crickets get a salute with "One Together" and "Buddy's Song".

When Kirwan took the microphone to sing, he could be charming and mild, or tough and aggressive. On "Jewel Eyed Judy", he does both, and the guitars sting and burn with pain from a broken heart. His guitar playing was really something to admire, especially with his wah-wah splashes and laser-beam lead lines that offset Spencer's fire on "Tell Me All the Things You Do". Both men show delicate touches on "Earl Gray" and throughout this entire set, Mick Fleetwood toned down the drumming in the more muted style that he would use with the future incarnation of the band in the '80's and '90's. With chimes and a romantic chorus behind him, Spencer sails off with a final Holly-like vocal on "Mission Bell".

After the release of the album, the band went through a series of line-up changes abandoning its bluesy roots and headed towards a totally different pop direction. John McVie and Mick Fleetwood remained the only consistent members. Ironically, those two had the least influence in the band's musical direction.

Line-up :
* Jeremy Spencer - guitar, vocals, piano
* Danny Kirwan - guitar, vocals
* John McVie - bass
* Mick Fleetwood - percussion, drums
* Christine McVie (Perfect) - piano, back vocals, artwork

Track List :
01. This Is The Rock - 2:45
02. Station Man - 5:49
03. Blood On The Floor - 2:44
04. Hi Ho Silver - 3:05
05. Jewel Eyed Judy - 3:17
06. Buddy's Song - 2:08
07. Earl Gray - 4:01
08. One Together - 3:23
09. Tell Me All The Things You Do - 4:10
10. Mission Bell - 2:32

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Rainbow - Finyl Vinyl (1978-84) (@256)

(Review from wikipedia, amazon)

By April 1984, Blackmore and Glover had reformed the Deep Purple "Mark II" line-up and Rainbow was disbanded. A final Rainbow album, Finyl Vinyl, was pieced together from live tracks and B-sides of singles. The album contained the instrumental Weiss Heim, widely available for the first time.

Primarily culled from the Joe Lynn Turner era but also featuring selections with Ronnie James Dio and Graham Bonnet, Finyl Vinyl offers a haphazard alternate history designed for hardcore fans. For those fans, the album is actually quite a treat. Rainbow always sounded better on stage than they did on the studio -- rawer, harder, alive -- and songs that sounded half-baked in the studio, such as selections from Difficult to Cure, sound right here. That's not to say that it's a perfect album -- the outtakes are interesting, but not particularly remarkable, the sequencing doesn't make sense. But it rocks harder and more convincingly than many latter-day Rainbow releases. For the devoted, it's a welcome addition to the band's canon and it's a nice way to close a career.

Line-up :
* Vocals: Joe Lynn Turner (1-5,9,10) , Graham Bonnet (6,7), Ronnie James Dio (11,12)
* Guitar: Ritchie Blackmore
* Bass: Roger Glover (all except 11,12), Bob Daisley (11,12)
* Drums: Chuck Burgi (1,2,3,8), Bobby Rondinelli (4,5,9,10), Cozy Powell (6,7,11,12,13)
* Keyboards: David Rosenthal (1,2,3,8,9,10), Don Airey (4,5,6,7,13), David Stone (11,12)

Track List :
01. Spotlight Kid (Live Tokyo 1984)
02. I Surrender (Live Tokyo 1984)
03. Miss Mistreated (Live Tokyo 1984)
04. Jealous Lover (1981/B-side of Can't Happen Here Single)
05. Can't Happen Here (Live Boston 1981)
06. Since You've Been Gone (Live Monsters Of Rock Festival, Castle Donington, England 1980)
07. Bad Girl (Outtake/B-side of Since You've Been Gone Single)
08. Difficult to Cure (Live Tokyo 1984)
09. Stone Cold (Live San Antonio 1982)
10. Power (Live San Antonio 1982)
11. Man on the Silver Mountain (Live Atlanta 1978)
12. Long Live Rock'n'Roll (Live Atlanta 1978)
13. Weiss Heim (Outtake/B-side of All Night Long Single)

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Monday, July 30, 2007

Shiver - Walpurgis (1969) (@320)

(Info from Crack in the Cosmic Egg,

Originally released in 1969, Swiss band Shiver sole self-produced album contained a wide range of psychedelic and progressive styles. Crudely recorded, and often shoddily played, it would seem to be an anthology recorded over a long period. It also contains both tracks that were issued as a single: "Hey Mr. Holy Man"/"The Peddle." It also features the very first time the famous designer H. R. Giger delivered some of his art to become an album sleeve.

Longer progressive tracks alternate with shorter, more commercial sounding pieces. The opening instrumental "Repent Walpurgis" reminds of early Procol Harum or even Ekseption. The sound is very bluesy, highlighting both Hammond organ and distorted guitar. "What’s Wrong About The Blues" sounds like thousands of other blues songs from that period: repetitive and with tons of improvised harmonica playing. A bit in the tradition of similar projects from that era, "Hey Mr. Holy Man" is a ballad backed by Hammond organ and choir, whilst someone narrates on top of it. A rhythmic version of the classic "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" follows. The album closes with the flip for Shiver’s only single, the instrumental "The Peddle," which once again is a mean blues song featuring piano, guitar and an organ.

Line-up :
* Dany Ruhle - guitar, harmonica, vocals
* Jelly Pastorini - organ, piano
* Mario Conza - bass, flute, vocals
* Roger Maurer - drums, vocals
* Peter Robinson - lead vocals

Track List :
01. Repent Walpurgis
02. Ode To The Salvation Army
03. Leave This Man Alone
04. What's Wrong About The Blues
05. Hey Mr. Holy Man
06. Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood
07. No Time
08. The Peddle

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Fleetwood Mac - Live in Boston Volume 1-2-3 (1970) (@256)

(Review from allmusic, wikipedia)

Live in Boston (also known as "Live at the Boston Tea Party") is a three-part album by British blues rock band Fleetwood Mac, recorded during a legendary extended weekend stand in 5th-7th February 1970, these live recordings from the three guitar lineup of Fleetwood Mac. This official release puts practically all the available tracks into this 3CD set.

Volume One, taken from the first set, is a Peter Green bonanza. Kicking off with a sharp "Black Magic Woman," then weaving his liquid guitar lines into an achingly slow cover of Duster Bennett's "Jumping at Shadows," and finally breaking into a formerly unavailable 25 minute version of "Rattlesnake Shake," the disc's centerpiece, Green sings and plays with restrained authority. The extended jam on "Shake" proves that Green was a master improviser, referencing his blues roots even when flying off on spontaneous tangents no less riveting than those of the Allman Brothers or the Grateful Dead. Jeremy Spencer takes the lead on two rollicking Elmore James covers, "I Can't Hold Out" and "Got to Move", the latter seeing the light of day after being hidden in the vaults for 29 years. The set closes with Green's proto-metal "The Green Manalishi" in a riotous 13-minute version that leaves the original four-minute single looking limp.

Volume Two starts strong with a floating "World in Harmony", the only Peter Green/Danny Kirwin co-written track in the Fleetwood Mac catalog and one that interestingly never appeared on a studio album. An abbreviated but aggressive "Oh Well" (the rocking opening only) segues into a half hour "Rattlesnake Shake" that's more raucous, driving and intense than the lower key, and slightly stiffer version on Volume One. The Kirwin/Green interplay here is stunning as they push each other past previous limits, driven by the forceful rhythm section of John McVie and Mick Fleetwood. Jeremy Spencer runs through terse versions of "Stranger Blues" and "Red Hot Mama", two hot and jittery Elmore James covers. But the show becomes slipshod with his 50's doo-wop tribute "Teenage Darling" complete with faux-Elvis singing that is pandering and irritating. The band jogs through a few revved up, enthusiastic but hardly essential Little Richard covers, redeemed by Fleetwood's driving drums and Green's wiry leads weaving through ten minutes of "Jenny Jenny". It may have been a blast at the time, but the tracks don't translate well without the visual impact of the three guitarists flailing away. The set ends with a heretofore unheard twelve minute jam simply entitled "Encore", where Joe Walsh of opening band the James Gang, adds a fourth guitar. Intermittently interesting, the quadruple guitars trading leads and riffs make for some predictably cluttered and unfocused music. Followers of the band during these early years might find this of passing curiosity, but for most people, you had to be there.

Volume Three is a goldmine, as it features a whopping six tracks-over 35 minutes-worth of newly found material. Most importantly, almost all of this music is of exceptional quality. Unfortunately the album's centerpiece, an intense, eleven minute, slow blues cover of B.B. King's "If You Let Me Love You," is marred by Peter Green's dead microphone, giving his vocals a hollow quality. But his guitar attacks with startling clarity, as he alternately pushes and lays back with style and moderation. Green deftly massages his solo, and the band gives him plenty of room to navigate, making this one of the most impassioned performances on all three discs. An instrumental version of Danny Kirwin's "Coming Your Way" is another recent addition, and throughout its seven minutes, the dueling guitars of Kirwin and Green spar with Mick Fleetwood's tribal drums creating a rhythmic whirlwind that frustratingly fades away before it's over. Jeremy Spencer whips out four Elmore James covers with a lately discovered version of "The Sun is Shining" a highlight, as his buzz-saw slide slices through the tune. A few Little Richard oldies crop up, and a frayed but propulsive version of "Tutti Frutti" where the band relaxes and rocks with class and restraint, shows how innovative they could be even working with the most basic three chord material. A remarkably subtle, weekend closing, eight minute "On We Jam" is the final unearthed cut, and proves that even with three talented guitarists sharing leads, the improvisational skills of this band were second to none.

Line-up :
* Peter Green - Guitar, Vocals
* Jeremy Spencer - Guitar, Vocals, Piano
* Mick Fleetwood - Percussion, Drums
* John McVie - Bass
* Danny Kirwan - Guitar, Vocals

Track List :
Volume One
01. Black Magic Woman - 6:45
02. Jumping at Shadows - 4:48
03. Like It This Way - 4:28
04. Only You - 4:23
05. Rattlesnake Shake - 24:38
06. I Can't Hold Out - 6:35
07. Got to Move - 3:25
08. The Green Manalishi (With the Two-Prong Crown) - 12:52
Volume Two
01. World in Harmony - 4:10
02. Oh Well - 3:12
03. Rattlesnake Shake - 25:36
04. Stranger Blues - 3:55
05. Red Hot Mama - 4:03
06. Teenage Darling - 4:16
07. Keep A-Knocking - 4:56
08. Jenny Jenny - 7:40
09. Encore Jam - 13:25
Volume Three
01. Jumping at Shadows - 4:17
02. Sandy Mary - 5:21
03. If You Let Me Love You - 10:30
04. Loving Kind - 2:57
05. Coming Your Way - 7:06
06. Madison Blues - 4:49
07. Got to Move - 3:56
08. The Sun Is Shining - 3:11
09. Oh Baby - 4:26
10. Tiger - 3:44
11. Great Balls of Fire - 3:16
12. Tutti Frutti - 6:45
13. On We Jam - 7:56

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Rainbow - Bent Out of Shape (1983) (@256)

(Review from

With Joe Lynn Turner on board, Rainbow tried one crossover record and one no-frills hard rock record -- which meant that Bent out of Shape, their third album with Turner, provided a fine opportunity to get a little arty. Not that the band has turned into Genesis or even returned to the mystical pretensions of its early work; they have merely broadened their horizons. Ironically, that means that they've retreated, at least partially, to the radio-ready sound of Difficult to Cure, but this time, they aren't just trying for a crossover hit. As producer, Roger Glover has widened their sonic horizon without losing sonic muscle, making sure that the album is, at its core, hard rock. His production works, since the record hits pretty hard even when it gets a little fruity, which it does quite often -- the stately, silly church organs that "Can't Let You Go", the fugue-like cadences of "Fire Dance", the mock-classical instrumental "Anybody There". Those instrumental flourishes highlight Bent out of Shape's true strength, which is its sonics -- the record sounds good and the music flows well.

However, beneath that surface, there's not much there -- the songs don't have strong hooks, or are memorable in and of themselves. It sounds good and has some prime Ritchie Blackmore performances, plus it rocks pretty hard -- all essential ingredients for a good Rainbow record, even if this time it adds up to a record that's merely solid, not remarkable.

Line-up :
* Joe Lynn Turner - vocals
* Ritchie Blackmore - guitar
* David Rosenthal - keyboard
* Roger Glover - bass
* Chuck Burgi - drums

Track List :
01. Stranded - 4:29
02. Can't Let You Go - 4:24
03. Fool for the Night - 4:04
04. Fire Dance - 4:30
05. Anybody There - 2:44
06. Desperate Heart - 4:37
07. Street Of Dreams - 4:28
08. Drinking With The Devil - 3:44
09. Snowman - 4:33
10. Make Your Move - 5:25

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Sex Pistols - Never Mind the Bollocks (1977) (@256)

(Review from

While mostly accurate, dismissing Never Mind the Bollocks as merely a series of loud, ragged midtempo rockers with a harsh, grating vocalist and not much melody would be a terrible error.

Already anthemic songs are rendered positively transcendent by Johnny Rotten's rabid, foaming delivery. His bitterly sarcastic attacks on pretentious affectation and the very foundations of British society were all carried out in the most confrontational, impolite manner possible.

Most imitators of the Pistols' angry nihilism missed the point: underneath the shock tactics and theatrical negativity were social critiques carefully designed for maximum impact. Never Mind the Bollocks perfectly articulated the frustration, rage, and dissatisfaction of the British working class with the establishment, a spirit quick to translate itself to strictly rock & roll terms.

The Pistols paved the way for countless other bands to make similarly rebellious statements, but arguably none were as daring or effective. It's easy to see how the band's roaring energy, overwhelmingly snotty attitude, and Rotten's furious ranting sparked a musical revolution, and those qualities haven't diminished one bit over time. Never Mind the Bollocks is simply one of the most inspiring rock records of all time.

Line-up :
* Johnny Rotten - lead vocals
* Steve Jones - guitar, bass, backing vocals
* Paul Cook - drums
* Glen Matlock - bass guitar and backing vocals (Anarchy in the UK)
* Sid Vicious (John Simon Ritchie) - bass guitar (Bodies)

Track List :
01. Holidays in the Sun - 3:22
02. Bodies - 3:03
03. No Feelings - 2:51
04. Liar - 2:41
05. God Save the Queen - 4:11
06. Problems - 3:20
07. Seventeen - 2:02
08. Anarchy in the U.K. - 3:32
09. Submission - 4:12
10. Pretty Vacant - 3:18
11. New York - 3:07
12. E.M.I. - 3:10

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Fleetwood Mac - Blues Jam in Chicago Volume 1-2 (1969) (@192)

(Info from wikipedia)

Fleetwood Mac In Chicago/Blues Jam In Chicago vols 1 & 2 was the result of a recording session in early 1969, at Chess Records in Chicago (home to Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, et al) with Fleetwood Mac and some of their Chicago blues mentors.

The first volume, recorded at Chess Record's Ter-Mar complex in Chicago, pairs Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac with some of the Windy City's blues legends including Willie Dixon, Otis Spann, Buddy Guy, and David "Honeyboy" Edwards. Put together on short notice, and recorded in one day, the sessions have something of a ramshackle feel, but the energy of the performances transcends any shortcomings on this date. Dixon oversaw the proceedings, and can be heard during the between-song banter giving directions and chastising Walter "Shakey" Horton for missing his cues. Since the Peter Green-led Fleetwood Mac was so directly influenced by Chicago blues, the session acts as a kind of stylistic homecoming for the band. Bassist John McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood contribute driving rhythms while guitarists Danny Kirwan and Jeremy Spencer lend both rhythms and the occasional lead. Green's stunningly fluid guitar work is at the fore, as usual. But the real treat is picking out the Chess players--Otis Spann's piano on "I Got the Blues," J.T. Brown's tenor sax on Elmore James's "I Can't Hold Out," or Guy and Edwards, who go toe-to-toe with Green on "Red Hot Jam," one of the session's indisputable highlights.

Like volume one, volume two documents collaborations between some of Chess Records' most prominent bluesmen and the late-1960s version of Fleetwood Mac. Given that the Peter Green-led Fleetwood Mac was already deeply rooted in Chicago blues, the project proved to be a natural for the group, with Green's blues-drenched leads and the chops of Mick Fleetwood (drums), John McVie (bass), Danny Kirwan and Jeremy Spencer (guitars) providing a perfect framework for contributions by Willie Dixon, Otis Spann, and David "Honeyboy" Edwards, among others. Green and company bring an edge to the proceedings, playing with the kind of muscle and unbridled energy associated with rock music. Volume two has greater variety in the lineup than volume one, with Dixon substituting on bass for McVie on a number of tracks, along with much swapping of vocal duties. The latter move gives the second installment the edge over the first, with Edwards singing on his own tunes ("Honey Boy Blues" is a highlight), and the inimitable Spann singing "Someday Soon Baby" and "Hungry Country Girl." This is one of the finer snapshots of British blues-rock meeting its source.

Line-up :
* Peter Green - vocals, guitar
* Jeremy Spencer - vocals, guitar, slide guitar
* Danny Kirwan - vocals, guitar
* John McVie - bass guitar
* Mick Fleetwood - drums
* Otis Spann - vocals, piano
* David "Honeyboy" Edwards - guitar
* Buddy Guy - guitar
* Walter "Shakey" Horton - harmonica
* J. T. Brown - tenor saxophone)
* Willie Dixon - acoustic bass guitar
* S.P. Leary - drums

Track List :
01. Watch Out
02. Ooh Baby
03. South Indiana (take 1)
04. South Indiana (take 2)
05. Last Night
06. Red Hot Jam (take 1)
07. Red Hot Jam (take 2)
08. I'm Worried
09. I Held My Baby Last Night
10. Madison Blues
11. I Can't Hold Out
12. Bobby's Rock
13. I Need Your Love
14. Horton's Boogie Woogie
15. I Got The Blues
01. World's In A Tangle
02. Talk With You
03. Like It This Way
04. Someday Soon Baby
05. Hungry Country Girl
06. Black Jack Blues (Bonus)
07. Everyday I Have The Blues
08. Rockin' Boogie
09. My Baby's Gone
10. Sugar Mama (Bonus take 1)
11. Sugar Mama (take 2)
12. Homework (Bonus)
13. Honey Boy Blues
14. I Need Your Love (Bonus take 1)
15. Horton's Boogie Woogie (Take 2)
16. Have A Good Time
17. That's Wrong
18. Rock Me Baby

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Rainbow - Straight Between the Eyes (1982) (@256)

(Review from

By 1982, Rainbow had abandoned any pretences of making challenging music, and opted for a straight (between the eyes?) forward heavy rock approach. The line up showed relative stability from the previous album, the only change being David Rosenthal's installation on keyboards in place of Don Airey.

Most if not all of the tracks here are simply vehicles for Joe Lynn Turner's fine vocals, and Blackmore's irresistible guitar work. The opening "Death alley driver" for example is an extremely ordinary rock song, brought to life by some superb guitar. "Bring on the night" is similarly prosaic in composition, but has some good old fashioned phasing.

There are a couple of notable deviations from the guitar rock which dominates the album. "Stone cold" is a fine organ based rock ballad which affords Turner the opportunity to display his vocal dexterity. The songs has the distinct sound of "Perfect strangers" era Deep Purple, not surprising given that 40% of that line up are here. "Tearing out my heart" has a similar style, very much in the mould of some of Magnum's power rock. The final track, "Eyes of fire" sees the band finally reverting to the style and sound of "Stargazer" and "Eyes of the world". This 6½ minute piece has a distinct eastern feel, and a hint of "Kashmir" perhaps. While Blackmore's guitar work is been reasonably strong throughout the album, he finds an extra gear here.

Line-up :
- Joe Lynn Turner / vocals
- Ritchie Blackmore / guitar
- Bobby Rondinelli / drums
- David Rosenthal / keyboard
- Roger Glover / bass

Track List :
01. Death Alley Driver (4:45)
02. Stone Cold (5:19)
03. Bring on the Night (Dream Chaser) (4:08)
04. Tite Squeeze (3:16)
05. Tearin' Out My Heart (4:06)
06. Power (4:27)
07. Miss Mistreated (4:30)
08. Rock Fever (3:52)
09. Eyes of Fire (6:36)

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Bulent Ortacgil - Benimle Oynar Misin? (1974) (@256)

(Review from,

Ortaçgil started playing the guitar in high school. With a bunch of his classmates, they ended up playing under various names. Influenced mainly by The Beatles, Cat Stevens, Donovan and Bob Dylan, he published his first single, called "Anlamsız" while still in highschool. It wasn't until 1974, he released his first studio album.

Every once in a while, you hear a record for the very first time and it becomes instantly ingrained into your memory. You intuitively know every note before it comes, you can hum along from start to finish, you feel that it has always been with you and will stay with you for eternity. His absolutely phenomenal 1974 debut "Benimle Oynar Mısın?" is considered a landmark album in Turkey. Ortaçgil's songs are written and arranged simply and tastefully, with his voice and gorgeous fingerpicked guitar playing in the forefront of almost every track, and sparse accompaniment on piano, trumpet, saxophone, strings, and several other instruments played by a long list of sidemen and women. The music on this record follows in the tradition of British folk singers and folk rock bands. The mood is melancholic, but with a strong underlying sense of hope and joy.

Even if you don't understand a word of Turkish, this could be one of the most moving and engrossing records you may have heard. With its amazingly naive sound and unique atmosphere, it's truly too beautiful to put into any words.

After this album, Ortaçgil got married and took a 10-year break from his music career, working as a chemical engineer before his come back in the late 80s.

Line-up :
Bülent Ortaçgil - acoustic guitar, vocals
Onno Tunç - bass
Cezmi Başeğmez - drums
Ergun Pekakçan - piano
Attila Özdemiroğlu - vibraphone, flute, tombom
Nükhet Ruacan - vocals
Erol Duygulu - sax
Metin Örser - trumpet
Tuncer Özcan - trumpet
Erdoğan Ergun - trumpet

Track List :
01. Günaydın
02. Kediler
03. Benimle Oynar Mısın?
04. Olmalı mı Olmamalı mı
05. Şık Latife
06. Herşey Sevgiyle Başlar
07. Suna Abla
08. Dört Kişili Düş
09. Anlamsız
10. Yağmur
11. Yüzünü Dökme Küçük Kız
12. Sen Varsın
13. Bahar Türküsü
14. Günaydın II

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Fleetwood Mac - Pious Bird of Good Omen (1969) (@256)

(Info from wikipedia)

The Pious Bird of Good Omen is mostly a compilation of Fleetwood Mac's non-studio album material, released in 1969.

The highlight of the album is undoubtedly, the guitar-based instrumental "Albatross". It has been suggested that the piece is associated with the metaphorical use of the word albatross to mean a 'wearisome burden'. The use of the word "Albatross" to mean an encumbrance (literally around somebody's neck) is an allusion to Coleridge's poem "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" (1798). It is unclear whether or not Fleetwood Mac intended the song title to reference this meaning, or if it simply refers to the sea bird; but the title of the album it appears on, The Pious Bird of Good Omen, definitely alludes to and quotes from the Coleridge poem.

Line-up :
* Peter Green - vocals, guitar, harmonica
* Jeremy Spencer - vocals, slide guitar
* Danny Kirwan - vocals, electric guitar on tracks 7 and 10
* John McVie - bass
* Mick Fleetwood - drums
* Eddie Boyd - vocals, piano on tracks 4 and 9

Track List :
01. Need Your Love So Bad (Version #2 (Remake), Take 2-Complete Version/Remix)
02. Rambling Pony (Complete Master Version/Remix)
03. I Believe My Time Ain't Long (Master Version With Studio Talk/Remix)
04. The Sun Is Shining
05. Albatross
06. Black Magic Woman
07. Jigsaw Puzzle Blues
08. Like Crying
09. Need Your Love So Bad (Version #1: Take 1-False Start)
10. Need Your Love So Bad (Version #2: Take 1, Take 2)
11. Need Your Love So Bad (Take 3)
12. Need Your Love So Bad (USA Version)

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Rainbow - Down to Earth (1979) (@256)

(Review from wikipedia, amazon,

Blackmore attempted to replace Dio with Ian Gillan, but Gillan turned him down, so after a series of auditions ex-Marbles vocalist Graham Bonnet was recruited instead. Cozy Powell stayed but Daisley and Stone were both fired, replaced by keyboardist Don Airey and bassist Roger Glover. It is somewhat ironic as Blackmore had instigated the sacking of Glover from Deep Purple in 1973.

The departure of Ronnie James Dio gave Ritchie Blackmore a chance to reinvent Rainbow, which he does to a certain extent on "Down to Earth". Blackmore tones down some of the excess of the Dio years, particularly in terms of fantastical lyrics, and turns to straight-ahead hard rock, only occasionally adorned by prominent synthesizers.

Rainbow has a distinct idea, primarily through the guitar artistry and mystical sensibility of Ritchie Blackmore. He sounds invigorated on the album, turning in muscular performances and strong solos on each cut; clearly, the reunion has revitalized him.

The album is kicked off by the awesome opening rocker, "All Night Long". The stylings in this track are strongly reminiscent of seventies Kiss. Bonnet even sounds like he's mimicking Paul Stanley in places. "Eyes Of The World", is one that rightfully gets a lot of praise. A keyboard/organ solo kicks off the track, and backs the rest of the hard-rocking song. The song is similar to Gates Of Babylon from the band's album that came immediately before this one. Next up "No Time To Lose". Of all the tracks on this album, this is probably the one that sounds the most like David Coverdale-era Deep Purple. The fourth song the album serves up is the classic "Makin' Love". On this song, the band slows down the pace of the music dramatically, but still rocks hard. Track five is the big hit on the album, "Since You've Been Gone". Interestingly, this isn't a Rainbow original, but rather a cover of a Russ Ballard song. Next comes "Love's No Friend". This is more straight-up classic hard rock, this one featuring an awesome backing organ pattern paired up with Blackmore's guitar mastery. We get more straight-up hard rock in the next track, the Ufo-esque Danger Zone. Back when Blackmore rocked hard, he rocked with the best of them, and perhaps no track epitomizes that the way this one does. And closing things out is "Lost In Hollywood". The fast-paced guitar riffs and fast vocals from Bonnet make this an excellent rocker. In the middle of the track, we even get some keyboard usage not unlike that of Electric Light Orchestra! The closing track on an album should be one that will leave a lasting impression on the listener, and this one does just that.

After this album; Cozy Powell quit, disliking Blackmore's increasingly pop metal direction. Bonnet subsequently became disgruntled at the domination of Blackmore and Glover and also left to go solo. Once again strapped for a vocalist, Blackmore found his man in American singer Joe Lynn Turner, who along with new drummer Bobby Rondinelli signaled a true career rebirth for Rainbow.

Line-up :
* Graham Bonnet - vocals
* Ritchie Blackmore - guitar
* Don Airey - keyboard
* Roger Glover - bass
* Cozy Powell - drums

Track List :
01. All Night Long - 3:53
02. Eyes of the World - 6:42
03. No Time to Lose - 3:45
04. Makin' Love - 4:38
05. Since You Been Gone - 3:25
06. Love's No Friend - 4:55
07. Danger Zone - 4:31
08. Lost in Hollywood - 4:51

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Friday, July 27, 2007

Happy the Man - Happy the Man (1977) (@256)

(Review from

Happy the Man's namesake recording is one of the most relevant and peculiar in the history of progressive. Brilliant compositions, incredible arrangements, top-notch musicianship, fluid collective functioning: the best ingredients you can ask for in a progressive meal.

The diversity of musical ideas that appear on the album is no small degree based on its influences: Canterbury's pleasant freshness, Gentle Giant's harmonized dissonances, 76-77 Camel's melodic taste, accademical stuff (Gershwin, Grieg), even some hints of Zappa-esque bizarreness and Retrun to Forever's colourful fusion. Yet, the overall result isn't derivative at all, but an original one.

Kit Watkins' keyboard playing combines Emerson's fire and Bardens's texturial sensibility in a unique style, and in my humble opinion, he's the most prominent masters in this band of talents. The rhythm section deals with all these complex time signatures with incredible ease and precise energy; meanwhile, Whitaker's guitars and Wyatt's wind instruments exhibit absolute finesse in their solos and harmonic parts. Many times it happens that Wyatt plays keyboards too (grand and electric pianos), and so he and Watkins interplay cleverly for the benefit of melodic lines and the enhancement of ambiences.

The repertoire comprises reflective pieces ('Starborne', 'Hidden Moods') as well as explicitly energetic ones ('Stumpy Meets the Firecracker in Stencil Forest', 'Knee Bitten Nymphs in Limbo') and evocative ones (the sung tracks, 3 and 7): some tracks lay somewhere in the middle, like the longest ones (tracks 4 and 9, which are the most amazing ones), and we can even find an exquisite excercise in mysterious crescendo ('Carrousel'). There's always room for pyrotechnics in the hands of Watkins, Whitaker and Wyatt, but the impressive solos are never too long, always making sense as part of each track as a whole: somehow, these five guys manage to show their skills unabashedly without betraying the integrity of each piece.

Line-up :
- Stanley Whitaker / six and twelve string guitars, vocals
- Kit Watkins / mini-moog, acoustic piano, Fender rhodes, A.R.P., Hammond organ, Hohner clavinet, flute, marimba
- Frank Wyatt / sax, flute, piano, keyboards, vocals
- Rick Kennell / bass
- Mike Beck / drums

Track List :
01. Starborne (4:22)
02. Stumpy Meets the Firecracker in Stencil Forest (4:16)
03. Upon the Rainbow (Befrost) (4:42)
04. Mr. Mirror's Reflection on Dreams (8:54)
05. Carousel (4:06)
06. Knee Bitten Nymphs in Limbo (5:22)
07. On Time as a Helix of Precious Laughs (5:22)
08. Hidden Moods (3:41)
09. New York Dream Suite (8:32)

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Fleetwood Mac - Mr. Wonderful (1968) (@256)

(Info from wikipedia, amazon)

Like the first album, "Mr Wonderful" was an all-blues album, but this time they had a few more frills. It was produced to sound as if it were twenty years older than it really was. The band also added horns and featured a friend of the band's on keyboards, Christine Perfect (later Christine McVie) of Chicken Shack.

Peter Green stated the purpose of the album was to recreate the sound of a south side chicago blues club. Raw and rough, the album does just that.

Line-up :
* Peter Green - vocals, guitar, harmonica
* Jeremy Spencer - vocals, slide guitar
* John McVie - bass
* Mick Fleetwood - drums

Track List :
01. Stop Messin' Round
02. I've Lost My Baby
03. Rollin' Man
04. Dust My Broom
05. Love That Burns
06. Doctor Brown
07. Need Your Love Tonight
08. If You Be My Baby
09. Evenin' Boogie
10. Lazy Poker Blues
11. Coming Home
12. Trying So Hard to Forget
13. Stop Messin' Round (Bonus Takes 1, 2 & 3)
14. Stop Messin' Round (Bonus Take 5)
15. I Held My Baby Last Night (Bonus)
16. Mystery Boogie (Bonus)

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Rainbow - Long Live Rock 'n' Roll (1978) (@256)

(Review from amazon, wikipedia)

The line-up for Rainbow was never a stable one, with Ritchie Blackmore being the one constant. After firing Bain and Carey, Blackmore had difficulty finding replacements he liked. Blackmore originally chose Mark Clarke from the band Tempest, but once in the studio Blackmore disliked his playing so much that he fired Clarke on the spot and played bass himself on all but three songs on this album. For these tracks he finally settled on Australian Bob Daisley (of later Ozzy fame).

The title track is a fan favourite and one of the strongest tunes from this era--a heavy rock tune written for arenas. As for Lady Of The Lake - here the band goes for an ultra-melodic rock assault on the senses, which speaks of the devil being personified as a woman. L.A. Connection is more of a straight-up kind of rock and roll song, featuring the piano tinglings of keyboardist David Stone. "Gates of Babylon" is a mammoth track featuring the Bavarian String Ensemble,as synthesizer and strings combine for a symphonic big-rocksound.

The second side kicks off with "Kill The King", which was already a staple part of the tour setlists, opening Rainbow concerts since mid-1976. It first appeared on the live album On Stage in 1977, this was the first time it was done in the studio. Blackmore opens the thunderous "The Shed (Subtle)" with a fluid, effects-laden bluesy solo. With this track the band gives us a mid-fast hard rocker with a slightly more "raw" sound than the other tracks featured here. "Sensitive To Light" is one of the most interesting tracks on the album because, while it is obviously a straight-up power rocker, Dio's vocal style hints back at the work he did in Elf, this fusion of styles only makes this track better. The album closes with "Rainbow Eyes" -- a seven-minute epic that features a string quartet, flute, and Dio's euphonic balladry.

After the release and extensive world tour in 1977–78, Blackmore decided that he wanted to take the band in a new commercial direction away from the "sword and sorcery" theme. Dio did not agree with this change and left Rainbow. He would go to replace Ozzy Osbourne as the lead singer in Black Sabbath. Dio would later form his own self-titled band.

Line-up :
* Ronnie James Dio - vocals
* Ritchie Blackmore - guitar/bass
* David Stone - keyboard
* Bob Daisley - bass
* Cozy Powell - drums

Track List :
01. Long Live Rock 'n' Roll - 4:21
02. Lady of the Lake - 3:39
03. L.A. Connection - 5:02
04. Gates of Babylon - 6:49
05. Kill the King - 4:29
06. The Shed (Subtle) - 4:47
07. Sensitive to Light - 3:07
08. Rainbow Eyes - 7:11

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