Thursday, 22 June 2017

"I'm A Freak, Baby... A Journey Through The British Heavy Psych and Hard Rock Underground Scene 1968-1972" by VARIOUS (July 2016 Grapefruit 3CD Mini Clamshell Box Set of Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...






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1960s and 1970s MUSIC ON CD - Volume 1 of 3 - Exceptional CD Remasters  
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"...Hot Smoke And Sassafras..."
  
Trying to reach into every musically uncharted corner whilst still pleasing everybody and taking no prisoners on content while you do it - "I'm A Freak, Baby..." isn't going to please your Auntie Flo's Sunbury-On-Thames Bridge Class as background music. But over at Lemmy's house they'll be breaking out the beer-crates in celebration while a visiting Ozzy Osbourne polishes his upside-down cross with glee and lines up blood-drained headless bats for guest snacks.

Getting a 3CD compilation like this right is a tall order and truthfully a rare achievement (and musically it won't be for everyone for damn sure). But Cherry's Red's 'Grapefruit' label has been grabbing collectors by the small people for some time now and impressing with beautifully presented and collated retrospectives that touch on underground areas most major labels can’t be assed with (then or now).

Rocking and Heavy Psyching like a marauding beast - 2016's "I'm A Freak, Baby..." amply shows the reason why devotees to off-the-beaten-track music are whispering the 'Grapefruit' name in hushed tones. I've been a reviewer and Rock Music lover for more decades than I care to remember and even armed with a fairly deep level knowledge - there are bands and titles on here that I've never heard of nor seen in my 20-years as a Rarities Buyer for Reckless in London's Soho (a busy place I can assure you with a high turnover of what's genuinely rare). Unreleased recordings, acetate albums and tracks from privately pressed LPs and Singles of only 30 or 99 copies sit nestled amidst actual chart hitters like Deep Purple, The Move and Hawkwind. The whole mad lot is present and they're damn good too.

There's a ton of stuff to wade through here so once more my Imperial Leather friends unto the hairy-assed mushroom layers of Heavy Psych and Hard Rock. And pass the Vosene Extra Strength and neck-brace darling - we're going to need both. Going underground - here are the overhead details...

UK released 29 July 2016 (7 August 2016 in the USA) - "I'm A Freak, Baby... A Journey Through The British Heavy Psych and Hard Rock Underground Scene 1968-1972" by VARIOUS ARTISTS on Cherry Red/Grapefruit CRSEGBOX032 (Barcode 5013929183209) is a 3-CD 48-Track Mini Clamshell Box Set of Remasters that plays out as follows:

Disc 1 (78:24 minutes):
1. All In Your Mind - STRAY (from the June 1970 UK debut LP "Stray" on Transatlantic TRA 216)
2. Cast A Spell - THE OPEN MIND (August 1969 UK 7" single on Philips BF 1805, B-side of "Magic Potion")
3. Hot Smoke And Sassafras - THE MOOCHE (May 1969 UK 7" single on Pye 7N 17735, A-side. A Bubble Puppy cover version)
4. My Son's Alive - CRUSHED BUTLER (1970 recording not originally issued - Jesse Hector and Alan Butler later formed The Hammersmith Gorillas)
5. Going Down - CHICKEN SHACK (from the February 1972 UK LP "Imagination Lady" on Deram SDL 5)
6. Father Of Time - CYCLE (from the October 1971 UK LP "Cycle" on SRT Records 71143, private pressing, 99 copies only)
7. I'm Coming Home - THE DEVIANTS (from the June 1968 UK LP "Ptooff!" on Underground Impresarios IMP 1)
8. Do It - THE PINK FAIRIES [feat Twink] (January 1971 UK 7" single on Polydor 2058 089, B-side of "The Snake")
9. Time Machine - FACTORY (February 1971 UK 7" single on oak RGJ 718, A-side, 99 copies only. Featured Andy Qunta later of Icehouse)
10. Cherry Red - GROUNDHOGS (from the March 1971 UK LP "Split" on Liberty Records LBS 83401)
11. I'm A Freak - WICKED LADY (early 1972 recording not originally issued - featuring Martin Wearer of Dark)
12. Rock My Soul - CHARGE (from the January 1973 UK LP "Charge" on SRT Productions 73275)
13. Sweet Mistress Of Pain [aka "Kiss Of The Velvet Whip"] - HAWKWIND ZOO [Hawkwind] (late 1969 recording at Abbey Road not originally issued)
14. Nightmare - STONEHOUSE (from the November 1971 UK LP "Stonehouse Creek" on RCA SF 8197. Featured Jim Smith and Ian Snow later with Asgaerd on The Moody Blues label Threshold Records) 
15. Falling - THE IRON MAIDEN [not the British heavy metal band] (November 1971 UK 7" single on Gemini GMS 006, A-side)
16. Apocalypse - BARNABUS (recorded November 1971, previously unissued)

Disc 2 (79:58 minutes):
1. Bogeyman - WRITING ON THE WALL (from the November 1969 UK LP "The Power Of The Picts" on Middle Earth MDLS 303)
2. Fireball - DEEP PURPLE (from the August 1971 UK LP "Fireball" on Harvest SHVL 793)
3. Primitive Man - JERUSALEM (from the March 1972 UK LP "Jerusalem" on Deram SDL 6. Produced by Ian Gillan of Deep Purple)
4. Love In The Rain - EDGAR BROUGHTON BAND (from their July 1969 UK debut LP "Wasa Wasa" on Harvest SHVL 757)
5. Trust - HELMUT (Previously Unreleased 1970 recording. Featured Terry Aitken later with Prog Rock group 'Elegy')
6.  Rhubarb - SECOND HAND (from the March 1969 UK LP "Reality" on Polydor 583 045)
7. Dream - LITTLE FREE ROCK (from the December 1969 UK debut LP "Little Free Rock" on Transatlantic TRA 208)
8. Skullcrusher - IRON CLAW (Not originally issued, recorded 5 December 1970)
9. Zero Time - DARK (from the July 1972 UK LP "Dark Round The Edges" on SIS Studios 0102, 30 copies only plus 2 test pressings)
10. Jehovah - THE VELVET FROGS (not originally issued, recorded late 1969 - featured Dennis Muchmore and John Carrod later with The Method)
11. Brontosaurus - THE MOVE (March 1970 UK 7" single on Regal Zonophone RZ 3026, A-side)
12. STACK WADDY - Bring It To Jerome (from the February 1971 debut album "Stack Waddy" on Dandelion Records DAN 8003. A Bo Diddley cover)
13. Mr. Make Believe - SAMUEL PRODY (from the 1971 German LP "Samuel Prody" on Global 6306 906. Features Tony Savva later with Rusty Butler. Produced by Roy Thomas Baker of Queen fame)
14. Flash - BARE SOLE (Not originally issued, recorded 1969)
15. Street Walking Woman - THE PHOENIX (Previously unissued, recorded 1969)
16. Go, I'm Never Gonna Let You - SKID ROW (from their July 1971 2nd and last album "34 Hours" on CBS Records S 64411. Featured Brush Shiels, Noel Bridgeman and a young Gary Moore on Guitar)

Disc 3 (74:57 minutes):
1. Race With The Devil - THE GUN (October 1968 UK 7" single on CBS Records 3764, A-side. Featured Adrian and Paul Gurvitz later with The Baker-Gurvitz Army)
2. Heart Without A Home - BLONDE ON BLONDE (from the November 1970 UK LP "Rebirth" on Ember Records NR 5049)
3. Ascension Day - THIRD WORLD WAR (from the February 1971 debut LP "Third World War" on Fly Records HIFLY 4. Featured Jim Avery of Thunderclap Newman and Terry Stamp)
4. Street - EGOR (from the 1971 Various Artists showcase LP for new bands "Oddsocks" on Splat DBR 4286)
5. Escalator - SAM GOPAL (from the January 1969 UK LP "Escalator" on Stable Records SLE 8001. Featured Lemmy of Motorhead and Viv Prince of The Pretty Things)
6. Gypsy - URIAH HEEP (from the June 1970 UK debut LP "Very 'Eavy... Very 'Umble" on Vertigo 6360 006)
7. Garden Of My Mind - THE MICKEY FINN (December 1967 UK 7" single on Direction 58-3086, A-side. Mickey Waller and Danny Peyronel would later form Heavy Metal Kids with Gary Holton)
8. Think About It - THE YARDBIRDS (March 1968 USA 7" single on Epic 5-10303, B-side of "Goodnight Sweet Josephine". Features Jimmy Page on Lead Guitar)
9.  Trying To Find My Way Back Home - MORNNG AFTER (from the January 1971 UK LP "Blue Blood" on Sky Records 71014. Features Norman Hume [aka Norman Beaker] later with Aynsley Dunbar's Retaliation)
10. Yellow Cave Woman - VELVETT FOGG (from the January 1969 UK LP "Velvett Fogg" on Pye Records NSPL 18272)
11. Too Old - ANDROMEDA (from the September 1969 UK LP "Andromeda" on RCA SF 8031. Features John Du Cann and Mick Hawksworth of The Attack)
12. The Green Manalishi (With The Two Prong Crown) - FLEETWOOD MAC (May 1970 UK 7" single on Reprise RS 27007, A-side)
13. Twisted Trip Woman - SWEET SLAG (from the February 1971 UK LP "Tracking With Close-Ups" on President PTLS 1042)
14. Occult - THE KULT (Previously unissued recording, recorded circa May 1969)
15. Born On The Wrong Side Of Time - THE TASTE (March 1969 UK 7" single on Polydor 56313, A-side)
The Irish Rock band famously featured Rory Gallagher on Lead Guitar and Vocals. Originally the B-side of "Blister On The Moon" - "Born..." was initially entitled "Born On The Wrong Side Of Town" and came with a different mix on Major Minor Records MM 560 in April 1968. The song was retitled and re-recorded for the April 1969 debut "Taste" LP on Polydor 583 042.
16. Hollis Brown - FUSION FARM (from the December 1971 UK LP "Rush Job" on SRT 71169. A cover of Bob Dylan's "Ballad Of Hollis Brown". Shortened their name to Farm and signed to Spark Records for one 45 in February 1974 - "Fat Judy").

Compiled and Annotated by DAVID WELLS with JOHN REED as Project Manager - these are names well known to fans and collectors alike. I know John Reed personally from my days with Reckless and his days suffering for the Record Collector magazine where he literally compiled those first Rare Records Price Guides. His knowledge of British Music is frankly frightening and especially the Avant Garde and Underground scenes and along with the hugely experienced David Wells who does the superlative liner notes - it goes a long way to explaining why this compilation is so good.

ANDY MORTEN at Pepperbox did the gorgeously laid-out design with the 35-page booklet being a feast for the eyes and brains. You get page after page of photos for each act (some of these are so obscure), singles and album sleeves pictured – key players acknowledged and so on. In-between the text are posters, flyers, gig cards, buttons and other tasty memorabilia. Each CD card sleeve has a different festival photo where some unwashed inebriated reprobate is wigging out to another three-day long guitar solo - Weeley Festival, August 1971 for Disc 1 - Glastonbury Festival, June 1971 for Disc 2 and The Isle Of Wight Festival, August 1970 on Disc 3...

SIMON MURPHY over at Another Planet Music has done the Mastering and considering the disparate sources - the Audio is fantastic - suitably grungy, hard rocking and even Punk when it needs to be. And the set is dedicated with warmth to two sad losses in 2015 - Ian 'Lemmy' Kilmister and John Whittington. To the music...

Accounts are opened with "All In Your Mind" from Stray - a fantastic nine-minute amalgamation of both box set subtitles - Heavy Psych and Hard Rock. The lads from Shepherd Bush were mere teenagers when they recorded it and you can so hear their Small Faces/Humble Pie fixation in that driving Steve Marriott riffage. England's uber metal merchants IRON MAIDEN would pay Stray and Del Bromham's song the ultimate accolade by recording it as a cover nearly two decades later - landing on the B-side of The Maid's "Holy Smoke" in 1990. We trip back a couple of years to 69's "Cast A Spell" - a proper kick-ass Rocker with The Open Mind more than justifying its £600 (2018) Record Collector Rare Record price tag. Another corking B-side then hits you - The Mooche covering a Bubble Puppy song delightfully called "Hot Smoke And Sassafras". The deeply Atomic Rooster grind of "My Son's Alive" from Crushed Butler feels more early Punk than its 1970 recording date indicates. Forsaking his Blues-Rock and R&B sound for four albums on England's Blue Horizon Records - Stan Webb's Chicken Shack was a power-trio by 1972 and their powerful cover of Don Nix's "Going Down" sledgehammers home this new direction. A huge meaty guitar piles down on the riff as John Glascock (of Toe Fat) and Paul Hancox (of The Mindbenders) try to keep up on Bass and Drums. The batty and very Velvet Underground "I'm Coming Home" from The Deviants features Mick Farren shouting about walking up your stairs until I reach your landing - but that's not before the band go into a proper full-on fuzz-guitar melt down that would make The Stooges terminally envious. Standing naked with newspapers covering their crown jewels - the four members of The Pink Fairies are clearly proud of the very Rock 'n' Roll "Do It" - a spunky rocker Twink would resurrect on Chiswick Records in the Punk explosion of 1977 and 1978. Although I've never been enamoured with the Hawkwind track - other highlights on Disc 1 include the almost Canned Heat boogie of The Groundhog's "Cherry Red" with Tony McPhee letting rip on that guitar - Plymouth's Stonehouse rocking like MC5 on the overlooked album track "Nightmare" on RCA in 1971 - and the impossibly rare Barnabus track where there's said to be only four copies of their double-album "Beginning To Unwind" in existence.

Disc 2 opens with a knees-up Mother Brown moment as an accordion and a deranged man whoop-start "Bogeyman" by Writing On The Wall - only to be quickly replaced with an 'armies of the night' doomer driving rhythm that is surprisingly Funky in its own way. I can remember when this 1969 Middle Earth Records LP used to shift for a ton - nowadays you're looking at £400+. CD number two also introduces familiar British band names and their chart-busting rockers - Deep Purple's utterly brilliant "Fireball" lets Ritchie Blackmore and Jon Lord do their thing on Guitar and Organ (that intro sound is apparently an air-conditioner and no one seems to know why) while ex Idle Race man Jeff Lynne injects new vitality into The Move on their chunky little raver "Brontosaurus". Primitive and at times hard-to-take Heavy Rock comes in the shape of Deram's Jerusalem and Harvest's Edgar Broughton Band but I suspect most will be shocked at the Heavy-cool of "Trust" - a previously unreleased dinosaur of its own by the sexily-named Hellmut (though rough-sounding it's a find ala Sabbath). Speaking of the Sabbs - their doomy influence is everywhere - from the frankly loony power-rocker "Rhubarb!" by Second Hand to the 'their name liveth' Iron Claw who apparently incorporated the entirety of Black Sabbath's debut into their live act. Peter Illingworth of Lancashire's Little Free Rock rocks out on his axe for the rather excellent "Dream" while Mancunians Stack Waddy dream of Bo Diddley on their Rock-R&B cover of "Bring It To Jerome" (great drum sound). And that's the already extraordinary playing of a 19-year old Gary Moore on Skid Row's groovy and vital "Go, I'm Never Gonna Let You Go" from their second and last album for CBS - "34 Hours" - titled after the amount of time it took to record the album. 

Adrian and Paul Gurvitz of Gun were dreaming no doubt of Ginger Baker and laughing gas when they penned the galloping "Race With The Devil" - though it's not a tune I've ever really liked if I'm honest. Disc 3 continues in suitably madcap fashion with the very cool sitar-rock feel to "Heart Without A Home" from Blonde On Blonde - named as you've no doubt guessed after Dylan's monumental 1966 double-album. The incendiary guitar solo at its core is the stuff that Heavy Rock fans dream of and it comes roaring out of your speakers with huge production values too. I don't know if I'd have chosen "Ascension Day" by Third World War - but I reviewed this brilliant and largely forgotten pre-Punk album put out by Esoteric Recordings not so long ago on a typically great CD reissue. Featuring a clearly socially aware and very angry Terry Stamp - I would have gone for the "M.I. 5" track instead - but whichever you song you chose - this 1971 Third World War LP on Fly Records defies its age, label and date. Instead of John Kongos or T. Rex it feels like a 1976 and 1977 album - a full six years before Punk exploded across the UK.

But even that is trampled on by the wonderfully named 'Egor' whose "Street" will have Heavy Rock fans reaching for the superlatives right soon. Apparently a resident band at The Plough and Harrow Pub in Leytonstone back in the day - Egor recorded a showcase LP for new bands album called "Oddsocks" and the astonishing "Street" was their lone contribution. It opens with a World War II air raid siren (I kid you not) and then launches into the most savage riffage you've ever heard - like the band had been mainlined "Fun House" by The Stooges for 12-months straight and amidst a whiskey-fuelled mayhem session added a Harmonica as well. Wow is the only appropriate response! I love The Mickey Finn and I can completely understand why their singles render collectors weak at their very knobbly knees. "Garden In My Mind" is a fantastic rocker that feels way ahead of its December 1967 release date and the band contained Mickey Waller on Guitar and Danny Peyronel on Keyboards who along with another hero of mine Gary Holton would form The Heavy Metal Kids in the Seventies (auf weidersehen pet).

For sure you will 'need' to be seriously into Heavy Psych and Hard Rock to get the toppermost of the poppermost out of "I'm A Freak, Baby..."

But if you are – you may need to postpone that trip to Elveden Forest Center Parc with a Physiotherapy Nurse from E17's Whipps Cross and order in a double-strength neck-brace from Amazon. Because after three discs of this mighty sucker – you’re gonna need both...

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

"Move Into The Light: The Complete Island Recordings 1969-1971" by QUINTESSENCE (April 2017 Esoteric Recordings 2CD Anthology - Paschal Byrne Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...









This Review Along With 100s Of Others Is Available in my
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THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT 1970... - Exceptional CD Remasters  
Just Click Below To Purchase for £3.95
Thousands of E-Pages - All Details and In-Depth Reviews From Discs 
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Featuring the album "Quintessence" from 1970

"...Letters To Infinity..."

Time wounds all heals. Time will tell. It's time to stop talking about time.

In the late 60ts and early 70ts – in tandem with free festivals, coloured bread and promiscuous sex - Notting Hill Gate’s Quintessence were at the forefront of the Indian Eastern Mysticism craze that was sweeping the UK and everywhere else for that matter. Suddenly we were all idealistic hippies - obsessing over joss sticks, fat scented candles, tie-dye shirts, bellbottom pants, beads, bangles, peace-symbols and travels to Goa with a stick of gum in your jeans, a begging bowl in your hand, a flower in your hair and a seriously dopey smile on your face (shoes and bras optional).

I suppose it is way too easy to slag off those doe-eyed days of mushroom madness (I was a fan myself and have the embarrassing tassel-shirt photos to prove it) - but in the blunt and brutal light of 2017 - musically not everything that emerged from marijuana clouds in Notting Hill Gate has weathered the decades that well. Having said that and despite as I say the absolutely dated nature of some of these recordings – if you crave lavish artwork, counter-culture ideas, meandering Sitars and Tablas and Tamboura notes all mixed up into a flute-driven ganga-soaked Shiva-Rock – then there is much to love and cherish on offer here. Hell there’s even a bit of Hawkwind drone madness in the guitar passages of album number two...

On top of that this surely has to be the most sumptuous and best-sounding 2CD anthology of the Quintessence legacy to date - brought to us with Hindu Love Oneness by those blissed-out but talented folks over at Cherry Red's Esoteric Recordings (stop smoking those chubby roll-your-owns boys). Time to sort out your Raja Rams from your Hare Hares. Here are the Swami details...

UK released 28 April 2017 (5 May 2017 in the USA) - "Move Into The Light: The Complete Island Recordings 1969-1971" by QUINTESSENCE on Esoteric Recordings ECLEC 22584 (Barcode 5013929468443) is a 2CD anthology of Remasters that plays out as follows:

Disc 1 (65:49 minutes):
1. Giants [Side 1]
2. Manco Capac
3. Body
4. Gange Mai
5. Chant  [Side 2]
6. Pearl And Bird
7. Notting Hill Gate
8. Midnight Mode
Tracks 1 to 8 are their debut album "In Blissful Company" - released November 1969 in the UK on Island ILPS 9110 Q (No US release). Produced by JOHN BARHAM - it didn't chart. The UK album was released in a gatefold 12-page-booklet sleeve (said to have been one of the most expensive made at the time) - all of which is reproduced in the CD booklet.

9. Move Into The Light
10. Notting Hill Gate
Tracks 10 and 9 are the non-album A&B-sides of a UK 7" single released October 1969 on Island WIP 6075

11. Jesus, Buddah, Moses, Guaranga
12. Sea Of Immortality
13. High On Mt. Kailash (Excerpt from Opera)
14. Burning Bush (Live)
15. Shiva's Chant
Tracks 11 to 15 are Side 1 of their second studio album "Quintessence" - released June 1970 in the UK on Island Records ILPS 9128 (no US Release). Produced by JOHN BARHAM - it peaked at No. 22 on the UK LP charts.

Disc 2 (69:23 minutes):
1. Prisms
2. Twilight Zones
3. Maha Mantra
4. Only Love
5. St. Pancras (Live)
6. Infinitum
Tracks 1 to 6 are Side 2 of their second studio album "Quintessence" - released June 1970 in the UK on Island Records ILPS 9128 (no US Release). Produced by JOHN BARHAM - it peaked at No. 22 on the UK LP charts.

7. Jesus, Buddah, Moses, Guaranga (Live)
Track 7 exclusive to the UK Island Records label sampler double-album "Bumpers" - released October 1970 on Island IDP 1.

8. Dive Deep [Side 1]
9. Dance For The One
10. Brahman
11. The Seer [Side 2]
12. Epitaph For Tomorrow
13. Sri Ram Chant
Tracks 8 to 13 are their 3rd studio album "Dive Deep" - released March 1971 in the UK on Island Records ILPS 9143. Produced by QUINTESSENCE except for "Brahman" by JOHN BARHAM - it peaked at No. 34.

The 24-page booklet is a feast for the eyes. Fans will know that as much as their sound - the sheer visual opulence of the Quintessence albums on Island were enough to get you interested. Esoteric have smartly repro'd the 12-page booklet of black and white photos that centred the inner gatefold sleeve of "In Blissful Company" - said at the time to be the most expensive sleeve ever made - certainly at the independent Island Records. The colour gatefold inner of "Quintessence" is here (candles, mirrors and long white gowns ahoy) as are superb new liner notes from noted writer MALCOLM DOME that include interviews with the key players - Shiva Shankar (Australian vocalist and flutist Phil Jones) and Maha Dev (Dave Codling on Guitar) with reminiscences from Jeremy 'Jake' Milton - formerly the drummer with Junior's Eyes.

But the big news is new 2017 Remasters from original tapes by PASCHAL BYRNE - a name that's been on a huge number of quality reissues - East Of Eden, Fairport Convention, Gordon Giltrap, John Kongos, Man, John Martyn, John Mayall, Mike Oldfield, Spooky Tooth, Taste, T. Rex and many more. There is huge presence on those live guitar-tracks like "Burning Bush" on the second LP and power on those droning sitar songs like "Midnight Mode" on the debut. The soft and quieter passages on the near eleven-minute "Dance For The One" from the third album are beautifully clear too. A nice job done overall...

Things don't have the most promising of starts with "Giants" - Shiva's voice as deadpan as it can get. But things improve with "Manco Capac" - a Bass and Flute opening clear as a bell as the singer goes on about spaces and spirits. The pace steps up into really interesting on "Body" - a trippy floating song that trashes about with guitars and flutes - shadows of "Nursery Cryme" Genesis in those strums. But I must admit my heart lies in Side 2's "Notting Hill Gate" - a catchy little sucker and a dead-ringer for a single (it turned up on the "Strangely Strange But Oddly Normal" 3CD Box Set from 2005 covering Island Records more eclectic years) - and the fabulous nine minutes of "Midnight Mode" where halfway through the song – it just goes into four minutes of Sitar-droning - the most brill trippy sound that you’ve ever heard - filling your living room like a Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab recording of a Buddhist monastery at lunchtime.

The songwriting seem to take a leap forward with the excellent "Quintessence" album of June 1970 - their first platter to chart in Blighty. "Sea Of Immortality" sounds huge but even better is the crickets/chant song that is "High On Mt. Kailash (Excerpt from Opera) - a swirling drone of Sitars and echoed voices singing in Indian - all of it sounding sexily mystical. The short but pretty "Shiva's Chant" is another winner - itself quickly followed by the echoed flutes of "Prisms" - a stunner for all those sampler fiends out there. "Twilight Zones" speaks of echoes and reflections in the cosmos while "Maha Mantra" is exactly what it sounds like – a live recorded of ‘Hare Hare Krishna’ chanting by devotees banging their Tablas and shaking their bells as they shuffle past the suits going into Oxford Street’s HMV to buy Britney Spears. Another highlight is the almost Gong guitars of "St. Pancras" recorded at the same March 1970 gig that gave up the live version of "Jesus, Buddah, Moses, Guaranga" on the "Bumpers" double-album label sampler. "Infinitum" ends the LP on layered voices giving it some serious '2001: A Space Odyssey' outtakes.

After the head-first dip into Eastern sounds on "Quintessence" - the acoustic "Dive Deep" takes you by surprise - a love so sweet - it will make us all high. Way better is what I think is their masterpiece - the complicated, layered and beautiful in parts "Dance For The One" - a song that captures all the best parts of the band. And the Remaster rocks. "Brahman" offers more audio delight - guitars strumming as the singer informs us of fathomless fountains and worlds within our reach. "Epitaph For Tomorrow" opens well but soon descends into eight-minutes of hippy-enlightenment that feels more Association pop than Quintessence insights. The eight minutes of "Sri Ram Chant" is fantastic - great sound - rich soundscapes - that unique swirl they got as the Vena and Tabla combined with voices singing Indian chants - calls for Universal love.

For sure Quintessence will not be for everyone and there are those who will snigger and poo-poo both them and the times they reflected. But as I said before - there is so much to love here and Esoteric Recordings are to be praised for having the Third Eye balls to put it out there - and in such style too.

Move into the light. I think I’ll move into my man cave with my good buddy - Shiva-Rock...
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Sunday, 11 June 2017

"Rock Festival/Ride The Wind/Good And Dusty" by THE YOUNGBLOODS from 1970 and 1971 (April 2017 Beat Goes On Reissue - 3LPs Remastered onto 2CDs) - A Review by Mark Barry...







This Review Along With 100s Of Others Is Available in my
SOUNDS GOOD E-Book on all Amazon sites
THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT 1970... - Exceptional CD Remasters  
Just Click Below To Purchase for £3.95
Thousands of E-Pages - All Details and In-Depth Reviews From Discs 

(No Cut and Paste Crap)

                                        
Featuring the album "Rock Festivals" from 1970

"...Come On People...Let Your Light Shine..." 

Despite releasing seven quality albums between 1967 and 1972 on two huge record labels - RCA Victor and Warner Brothers - New York's 'The Youngbloods' and their principal songwriter Jesse Colin Young never really meant diddlysquat in the UK (where I live). The live albums "Rock Festival" and "Ride The Wind" were both given limited British releases in 1970 and 1971 on those tasty-looking WB Tan labels with the Raccoon Records logo up in the corner – but they elicited no real interest amongst the Blighty buying public - thereby leaving the third studio album disc offered to us here ("Good And Dusty" from late 1971) as a US-only release on original vinyl...

But this rather fabulous and timely reissue by England's Beat Goes On Records seems determined to correct the error of our frankly callous and musically myopic ways. What you get here are the first three of four albums they did with Warner Brothers/Raccoon Records – that trio issued in 1970 and two from 1971. The first and second platters are live sets as already mentioned (the third is studio) with the 2nd LP "Ride The Wind" actually recorded late November 1969 in New York but not released until July 1971.

The opening duo showcase the band in very different styles of play – bopping and ready to boogie like the audience shown on the rear sleeve of "Rock Festival" - while the second is stripped back and more Richie Havens Rock-Soulful Folk-Soul than standard Rock. And stylistically different or not (anyone looking for the 1969 pop hit "Get Together" should look elsewhere) - given the crude technology of the time - both records were expertly recorded even though they are largely live. Their final and fourth album "High On A Ridge Top" on Warner Brothers BS 2653/Raccoon No. 15 from December 1972 is unfortunately outside the remit of this release.

Beautifully remastered onto 2CDs and amped up with a classy card slipcase and expanded booklet - here are the rocky raccoons...

UK and USA released 14 April 2017 - "Rock Festival/Ride The Wind/Good And Dusty" by THE YOUNGBLOODS on Beat Goes On BGOCD 1284 (Barcode 5017261212849) offers 3LPs from 1970 and 1971 Remastered onto 2CDs and plays out as follows:

Disc 1 (57:57 minutes): 
1. It's A Lovely Day [Side 1]
2. Faster All The Time
3. Prelude
4. On Beautiful Lake Spenard
5. Josiane
6. Sea Cow Boogie [Side 2]
7. Fiddler A Dram
8. Misty Roses
9. Interlude
10. Peepin' 'N' Hidin' (Baby What You Want Me To Do)
11. Ice Bag
Tracks 1 to 11 are their fourth album "Rock Festival" – recorded live between March and July 1970 - it was released October 1970 in the USA and December 1970 in the UK - both on Warner Brothers WS 1878/Raccoon No. 1. Produced by BOB MATTHEWS (Engineered by Betty Cantor of Grateful Dead fame) - it peaked at No. 80 in the USA (didn't chart UK).

12. Ride The Wind [Side 1]
13. Sugar Babe
14. Sunlight
Tracks 12 to 14 are Side 1 of their fifth album "Ride The Wind" - released July 1971 (recorded live November 1969) in the USA on Warner Brothers BS 2563/Raccoon No. 4 and December 1971 in the UK on Warner Brothers K 46100. Produced by CHARLIE DANIELS - it peaked at No. 157 in the USA (didn't chart UK).

Disc 2 (63:24 minutes):
1. The Dolphin [Side 2]
2. Get Together
3. Beautiful
Tracks 1 to 3 are Side 2 of their fifth album "Ride The Wind" - released July 1971 (recorded live November 1969) in the USA on Warner Brothers BS 2563/Racoon No. 4 and December 1971 in the UK on Warner Brothers K 46100. Produced by CHARLIE DANIELS - it peaked at No. 157 in the USA (didn't chart UK).

4. Stagger Lee [Side 1]
5. That's How Strong My Love Is
6. Willie And The Hand Jive
7. Circus Face
8. Hippie From Olema No. 5
9. Good And Dusty
10. Let The Good Times Roll
11. Drifting And Drifting [Side 2]
12. Pontiac Blues
13. Moonshine In The Sunshine
14. Will The Circle Be Unbroken
15. I'm A Hog For You Baby
16. Light Shine
Tracks 4 to 16 are their sixth (fifth studio) album "Good And Dusty" - released December 1971 in the USA on Warner Brothers BS 2566/Raccoon No. 9. No producer listed - it peaked at No. 160 in the USA (no UK release).

THE YOUNGBLOODS on all three albums were:
JESSIE COLIN YOUNG - Lead Vocals, Guitars, Bass and Kazoo
LOWELL 'Banana' LEVINGER - Guitars and Piano
JOE BAUER - Drums

EARTHQUAKE ANDERSON - Harmonica (only on "Good And Dusty")
MICHAEL KANE - Bass, French Horn, Vocals, Cornet (only on "Good And Dusty")

The card-slipcase adds a classy feel to the release (standard these last few years with BGO reissues) and the 12-page booklet features original album credits and a new appraisal of their legacy by noted Music Historian JOHN O'REGAN. He discusses their '67 to '72 recordings - post 80's and 90's reunions and Jessie Colin Young's subsequent solo career in Country Music - there's even the lyrics to the brilliant "Ride The Wind" live set and some black and white photos of the three and four-piece line-ups looking young, cheerful and waving enthusiastically at their adoring audience.

But the really big news here is superlative new Audio Transfers from licensed WEA tapes by BGO's resident Engineer ANDREW THOMPSON. I'm always wary of live sets especially from the Sixties and early Seventies where sound was problematical to say the least. Yet both of these sets and especially the Charlie Daniels Produced "Ride The Wind" LP have a clarity that defies their age big time. The studio album "Good And Dusty" is superb too and on tracks like the beautiful "Light Shine" (a return to the glory of the "Get Together" melody) – it’s spectacular. Let's get to the music...

Although "Rock Festival" is supposedly a 'live' LP of new material recorded at various venues like 'The Family Dog' in San Francisco and 'Barn' in Santa Clara - it's clear to me that the lead-off song "It's A Lovely Day" is a studio cut provided by Jessie Colin Young. Warner Brothers tried its pretty melody as a 45 in May 1971 with the LP finisher "Ice Bag" on the flipside - but Warner Brothers 7499/Raccoon S 4 didn't trouble too many charts (its UK equivalent on Warner Brothers K 16098 fared the same). While "Faster All The Time" is a good Levinger bopper - the one-minute "Prelude" and the near six-minutes of the keyboard instrumental "On Beautiful Lake Spenade" both feel like ambling wastes of time. Things improve with Colin Young's "Josiane" – another warm melody that I can’t help but feel should have been a studio cut. "Sea Cow Boogie" turns out to be 20-seconds of Bass-playing nonsense leading into a leery version of the Traditional boozing shanty "Fiddler A Dram". Saving the day comes a warmly recorded cover of Tim Hardin's "Misty Roses" - sung by Colin Young - it's a tiny bit hissy but incredibly intimate and touching in a way that none of the prior tracks do (first decent crown response too). Banjos ahoy for Banana’s "Interlude" – a two-minute instrumental that actually works. As if arriving from another album or a boisterous Chicken Shack gig over in London – they then offer us a Harmonica-warbling cover of Jimmy Reed’s "Peepin..." – great fun but wildly out of place with the rest of the record. We then go discordant Trout Mask Replica Captain Beefheart with two minutes of strained nonsense called "Ice Bag".

After the ragbag that is "Rock Festival" – the six long workouts of "Ride the Wind" come as a welcome relief. As I’ve already said – the second live record is more Rock-Soulful than standard Rock. Young singing, Banana hitting the keys, Bass solos that Funk with the drums – it feels like Richie Havens scatting in front of an appreciative crowd with a hip band of likeminded musicians backing him up. They deconstruct their own songs and offer them up in Funky new incarnations - the Fred Neil masterpiece "Dolphins" gets a moody work over too as does their sunshine slice of Sixties gloriana "Get Together". In my mind the album is the very definition of lost classic - and that Charlie Daniels Production is incredible - each keyboard note and cymbal tap leaping out of your speakers with clarity that defies its age. And Young's singing enters another place - Soulful as well as melodious. Hell - there are times when the finisher "Beautiful" feels like Phil Upchurch live on funky guitar with Al Kooper singing out front - Young urging the people to feel beautiful and reach out (yeah baby). 

Excepting four originals - "Hippie From Olema No. 5" by Lowell 'Banana' Levinger (it's actually a close re-write of Merle Haggard's "Okie From Muskogee"), "Good And Dusty" by all four members of the band and two Jessie Collin Young entries in "Drifting And Drifting" and the lovely single "Light Shine" - the other nine tracks on the "Good And Dusty" studio album are all cover versions. Most are old Blues & R&B Classics - Lloyd Price's rabble-rouser "Stagger Lee" - the gorgeous pleading Soul of Roosevelt Jamison's "That's How Strong My Love Is" made famous by O.V. Wright and Otis Redding (a genuine highlight on here) - the Coasters Leiber & Stoller winner "I'm A Hog For You Baby" - Sonny Boy Williamson's Chess brawler "Pontiac Blues" - Leonard Lee's "Let The Good Times Roll" made famous by Louis Jordan - the spiritual "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" in shimmering Staple Singers style - all rounded off with a sneaky take on the saucy "Willie And The Hand Jive" made infamous by Johnny Otis.

On top of all that is "Moonshine Is The Sunshine" - a Jeffery Cain song that initially turned up on his debut LP "For You" in 1970 on Warner Brothers WS 1880. All three of The Youngbloods had played on that album - only the second LP on the Raccoon Label imprint - and they repaid him by covering his song here. The other goodun on here is Carol Miller's lovely ballad "Circus Face" - Banana playing that Mandola so sweetly (I'm amazed this hasn't been covered more). The album's best moment comes last with Colin Young's lovely "Light Shine". Warner Brothers tried it as a 45 in March 1972 with the equally Soulful "Will The Circle Ever Be Broken" on the flipside - but despite the French horns, sweet guitar picking melody and the overall strength of both sides - Warner Brothers WB 7563 did no business.

As "Light Shine" plays out this gorgeous-sounding twofer - you're left with an abiding impression that even though some of the material isn't blazing and brilliant like the sun (that first album isn’t great) - there's an awful lot of genuine musical sunshine on these three albums that we clearly missed out on. More importantly The Youngbloods and their Warner Brothers output warrants a return to in 2017.

Well done to BGO for getting this wee lysergic Rock-Soulful nugget out there. "Good And Dusty" indeed...

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

"Lighthouse/Suite Feeling/Peacing It All Together" by LIGHTHOUSE (May 2017 Beat Goes On 2CD Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...







This Review Along With 100s Of Others Is Available in my
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THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT 1970... - Exceptional CD Remasters  
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"...Peace And Love..."

Canada's LIGHTHOUSE are the very definition of a bargain-bin band - at least the first part of their career on RCA Records is.

When I worked for Reckless Records in London's Islington and Soho's Berwick Street (20 years of buying and selling rarities) - UK copies of their second and third platters - 1969's "Suite Feeling" and 1970's "Peacing It All Together" was strictly a no-no. I used to see copies of the 1969 debut "Lighthouse" too with its silver-foil cover in charity shops - but it elicited little interest (the debut was American and Canadian only). Toronto's finest pushed out two further LPs on Vertigo in the UK (Evolution in the USA) - "One Fine Morning" in October 1971 on Vertigo 6342 010 and "Thoughts Of Movin' On" in April 1972 on Vertigo 6342 011 - but in my opinion they're only sought after because 'everything' on that most Prog of spiral labels is.

A 13-piece ensemble that started out on a brassy Rock tip with some Psych and Fusion flourishes thrown in - but then went all Association and Harper's Bizarre drippy Pop - the Lighthouse sound was both hard to nail down and market. In their initial Jazz-Rock phase - to help them along their Fusion way none other than an aged but still dapper Duke Ellington introduced the group in May 1969 at Toronto's Rock Pile club. But even his legendary presence and the support of Woodstock Folk-Soul hero Richie Havens failed to ignite sales and they struggled to feed those thirteen gaping mouths and hungry wattage. And unfortunately given some of the musical evidence presented here (even though the new remasters sound fab) – it's not too difficult to hear why the public weren't really bothered.

Well here comes England's Beat Goes On Records and the determined Kaftan-wearing Aztec-spaceship moustaches within their British ranks want us to reconsider Lighthouse's musical legacy - that amidst the poor man's Blood, Sweat & Tears and Jefferson Airplane soundscapes is some great fusion Rock and the occasional hooky groove. And there is actually - but I'm afraid the direness of the 3rd album kind of takes the discovery thrill out of the first two. Here are the enlightening details...

UK released 12 May 2017 - "Lighthouse/Suite Feeling/Peacing It All Together" by LIGHTHOUSE on Beat Goes On BGOCD 1281 (Barcode 5017261212818) offers 3LPs newly-remastered onto 2CDs (two from 1969 and one from 1970). It plays out as follows...

Disc 1 (66:29 minutes):
1. Mountain Man [Side 1]
2. If There Ever Was A Time
3. No Opportunity Necessary
4. Never Say Goodbye
5. Follow The Stars
6. Whatever Forever [Side 2]
7. Eight Miles High
8. Marsha, Marsha
9. Ah I Can Feel It
10. Life Can Be So Simple
Tracks 1 to 10 are their debut album "Lighthouse" - released USA and Canada June 1969 on RCA Victor LSP-4173. Produced by SKIP PROKOP and PAUL HOFFERT - it didn't chart.

11. Chest Fever [Side 1]
12. Feel So Good
13. Places On Faces Four Blue Carpet Traces
14. Could You Be Concerned
Tracks 11 to 14 are Side 1 of their second studio album "Suite Feeling" - released November 1969 in the USA and Canada on RCA Victor LSP-4241 and in the UK on RCA Victor SF 8103. Produced by SKIP PROKOP and PAUL HOFFERT - it didn't chart.

Disc 2 (59:11 minutes):
1. Presents Of Presence [Side 2]
2. Talking A Walk
3. Eight Loaves Of Bread
4. What Sense
5. A Day In The Life
Tracks 1 to 5 are Side 2 of their second studio album "Suite Feeling" - released November 1969 in the USA and Canada on RCA Victor LSP-4241 and in the UK on RCA Victor SF 8103. Produced by SKIP PROKOP and PAUL HOFFERT - it didn't chart.

6. Nam Myoho Renge' Kyo/Let The Happiness Begin [Side 1]
7. Every Day I Am Reminded
8. The Country Song
9. Sausalito
10. The Fiction Of Twenty-Six Million
11. The Chant (Nam Myoho Renge' Kyo)
12. Mr. Candleman [Side 2]
13. On My Way To L.A.
14. Daughters And Sons
15. Just A Little More Time
16. Little People/Nam Myoho Renge' Kyo
Tracks 6 to 16 are their third studio album "Peacing It All Together" - released May 1970 in the USA and Canada on RCA Victor LSP-4325 and in the UK on RCA Victor SF 8121. Produced by MIKE LIPSKIN, SKIP PROKOP and PAUL HOFFERT - it peaked at No. 133 on the US LP charts (didn't chart UK).

LIGHTHOUSE was:
SKIP PROKOP - Drums and Vocals
PAUL HOFFERT - Musical Director. Keyboards and Vibes
RALPH COLE - Guitar and Vocals
GRANT FULLERTON - Bass and Vocals
PINKY DAUVIN – Percussion and Vocals
IAN GUENTHER – Violin
DON DiNOVO – Violin and Viola
DON WHITTON and LESLIE SCHNEIDER – Cello
FREDDY STONE and ARNIE CHYCOSKI – Trumpet and Flugel
HOWARD SHORE – Alto Sax
RUSS LITTLE TROMBONE

There's the usual classy card-slipcase - the 16-page booklet repro's the artwork for the three LPs and has new liner notes from Mojo's Jazz columnist CHARLES WARING who presents both sides of the argument - good and bad. BGO's resident Audio Engineer ANDREW THOMPSON has newly remastered all three LPs and they sound great - punchy and full of life.

The two leading lights in the ensemble were Drummer/Singer Ron 'Skip' Prokop and Keyboardist/Vibes player Paul Hoffert who wrote most of the tunes and co-produced all three records. Side 1 highlights of the debut "Lighthouse" are the pretty but slightly overdone "If There Ever Was A Time" with its soothing warbling guitar and nice lurve-song melody. Better than the frantic "No Opportunity Necessary" and the pastoral ELO cellos of the sappy "Never Say Goodbye" is the Side 1 finisher "Follow The Stars" which suddenly feels like something magical is happening. There is an epic Byrds-vibe to the song – all brass lines, clever cellos and flanged vocals – very cool and interesting. Side 2 gets neck jerking groovy with the Brass and Organ dancer that is "Whatever Forever" which in turn is quickly followed by a very complimentary fuzzed-guitar cover of the Byrds Psych classic "Eight Miles High". RCA UK tried it as an only-45 off the album in October 1969 – tucked away as the B-side to the more commercial "If There Ever Was A Time" on RCA 1884 - but it did no business. Guitarist Ralph Cole suddenly discovers his inner Cream and Hendrix with the excellent "Marsha, Marsha" – a "Born Under A Bad Sign" Rock-Blues tune with added clever moments of brass melody and vocal harmonies that take you by total surprise and make you think we may have missed something Psych-brill here. There is a very Neil Young simplicity to "Ah I Can Feel It" as a lone-guitar strums before brass, strings and voices take the song into ‘Lighthouse’ and ‘Stonehouse’ ensemble territory. And they sound like B, S & T and The Association have had a Woodstock love child on the Side 2 finisher "Life Can Be So Simple" – an accomplished Pop song that half way through unleashes a properly wild Garage guitar-solo worthy of any Nuggets Box Set.

Despite some good fuzz guitar in "Chest Fever" - the opener for "Suite Feeling" is pretty awful and the everyone's smiling peaceful vibrations of "Feel So Good" comes over as the kind of song that hippy teenagers would have played their uptight parents in 1969/1970 (get with it Mom and Pop). Better is the funky and adventurous "Places On Faces Four Blue Carpet Traces" - a near eleven-minute Brass and Drums instrumental that is similar to in structure to the longer stretches on Chicago's "Chicago Transit Authority" debut in 1969. Trumpets compete for your attention with an organ - then about five-minutes in you get a clever Vibes solo that feels like some Avant Garde Atlantic Jazz album as it builds and builds with strings and more brass and ends on a huge fuzz-guitar solo (easily their technically most accomplished piece of writing so far). "Could You Be Concerned" taps into that "Hair Musical" message - as does the very Jefferson Airplane "Presents Of Presence". We get the sermon on the mount with the cheesy "Eight Loaves Of Bread" while the coy and poppy flute and piano bop of "What Sense" is likely to elicit laughter nowadays and not for the right reasons. They end a patchy album with a six-minute cover of The Beatles "Sgt. Peppers" classic "A Day In The Life" but it feels like a frantic brass and strings butchery rather than a compliment.

The third LP is probably the worst - a record that hasn't weathered well at all. A refrain precedes "Let The Happiness Begin" - a full on Association meets The Mama's and The Papa's happy-wappy jaunt that is cringing rather than touching. Even the honest words of "Every Day I Am Reminded" can't save it from a wall of voices that make it sound like the kind of pastiche a TV program would use to slag off the excesses of the Sixties. The fiddling "Country Song" is awful and the 'come with me to the sea' pap of "Sausalito" is 1967 and not 1970. And on it goes to the busy and frankly annoying "On My Way To L.A." and the clinging "Daughters And Sons".

To sum up - the first LP is very good and the second is an improvement in places especially the stunning eleven-minute Fusion-Rock instrumental "Places On Faces Four Blue Carpet Traces" - but that third platter goes direct for the "Hair" audience and feels laboured instead of inspired.

Still - fans of the band and that big brassy Rock Sound should dive in and be thankful that BGO have reissued Lighthouse's legacy with such style...

Saturday, 29 April 2017

"Patto" by PATTO (April 2017 Esoteric Recordings 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster with Three Bonus Tracks) - A Review by Mark Barry...






This Review Along With 100s Of Others Is Available in my
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THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT 1970... - Exceptional CD Remasters  
Just Click Below To Purchase for £3.95
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"...Every Little Thing You Need..."


In truth I stumbled on Patto's guitar-player Ollie Halsall via Kevin Ayers. I was in a Dublin Record shop on Grafton Street in late 1974 - the kind of progressive chart store that used to remainder and cheap albums that hadn't sold due to artist obscurity or lack of interest or they were just plain crap. I'd pick up amazing off-the-beaten-track goodies in there like Greenslade on Warner Brothers, Todd Rundgren on Bearsville and Audience on Charisma.

One day I stumbled on the utterly extraordinary Kevin Ayers album "The Confessions Of Dr. Dream And Other Stories" – his first for Island Records after a four-LP stint with Harvest. I took my two-quid deal home and although I hated/didn't understand the record at first - it began to grow on me to a point where it soon became indispensable (I reviewed the Peter Mew remastered CD of it a few years back). But what kept me listening initially was the pyrotechnic guitar playing of one 'Ollie Halsall' on the track "Didn't Feel Lonely Till I Thought Of You" - the kind of axe-work that makes your head spin. If you backtrack you come to his former band – the obscure and criminally forgotten PATTO...

PATTO arose out of the ashes of a 60ts band called TIMEBOX from Stockport in Lancashire - singer Mike Patto, Bassist Clive Griffiths, Drummer John 'Admiral' Halsey and super guitarist Pete 'Ollie' Halsall. TIMEBOX never did get an album out but they landed seven rare and desirable 45s in the UK - two on Piccadilly and five on Deram - one of which was a minor hit - a cover of The Four Seasons "Beggin'" that peaked at a lowly No. 38 on the British singles charts in July 1968.

But as the Progressive Rock boom began to take over in the late Sixties - the four ex-Timebox boys wanted to move on from the restrictions of Pop and formed PATTO - signing to the then emerging label for all things Prog and eclectic - Vertigo. They made three albums in total - two for Vertigo and one for Island - none of which sold jack knob. Their debut "Patto" hit the streets of Blighty in November 1970 on Vertigo 6360 016 (February 1971 in the USA), the second "Hold Your Fire" in November 1971 on Vertigo 6360 032 and the final "Roll 'Em Smoke 'Em Put Out Another Line" in October 1972 on Island ILPS 9210 – all are listed vinyl rarities in the 2018 Record Collector Price Guide valued at £300, £500 and £60 respectively.

Which brings us to this long-overdue and superbly presented 'Expanded Edition' single CD Remaster of their self-titled debut album from England's Esoteric Recordings. Here are the screaming spirals...

UK released Friday, 28 April 2017 (5 May 2017 in the USA) - "Patto" by PATTO on Esoteric Recordings ECLEC 2581 (Barcode 5013929468146) is an 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster of their 1970 Debut LP on Vertigo Records with Three Bonus Tracks added on and plays out as follows (69:41 minutes):

1. The Man [Side 1]
2. Hold Me Back
3. Time To Die
4. Red Glow
5. San Antone [Side 2]
6. Government Man
7. Money Bag
8. Sittin' Back Easy
Tracks 1 to 8 are their debut album "Patto" - released November 1970 in the UK on Vertigo 6360 016 and February 1971 in the USA on Vertigo VEL-1001. Produced by MUFF WINWOOD - it didn't chart in either country.

BONUS TRACKS:
9. Hanging Rope
Track 9 recorded & Mixed at Island Studios, London, 16 July 1970 – first appeared as an outtake in 2004 on the reissue of the album by Repertoire (REPUK 1025)

10. Love Me
11. Government Man
Tracks 10 and 11 recorded 3 November 1970 for the BBC Radio One program "Sounds Of The 70t's" – exclusively licensed and Previously Unreleased

The 16-page booklet is festooned with ticket stubs, trade adverts, gig flyers, the Tony Benyon pencil cartoons on the inner gatefold of Vertigo 6360 016, black and white band photos from the period and even has an advert plugging the first two albums issued on Vertigo in the USA in February 1971 – Jimmy Campbell’s "Half Baked" on Vertigo VER-1000 and Patto's self-titled debut on Vertigo VER-1001. Some of the early photos and promotional snaps in the booklet smartly feature TIMEBOX in their 60ts glory while one of the gig ads sees PATTO share an unlikely bill with Shakin' Stevens & The Sunsets at Wardour Street's 'Temple' venue in London's Soho. More encouraging is sharing a Chalk Farm's Roundhouse line-up with The Who, Elton John and a new Warner Brothers signing called America. There are detailed and informative liner notes from noted writer SID SMITH too that feature reminiscences from drummer John Halsey about the band and the sadly passed Halsall (he died in 1992).

But the big news is the really clean and clear audio for what has always been perceived as a lo-fi production. To my knowledge there have been three CD reissues of this album before – Akarma out of Italy in 2002, Repertoire out of Germany in 2004 and one of those natty SHM-CDs in a card-repro sleeve out of Japan on Universal in 2010. But this amazingly is the first time a British label has had a go – Cherry Red’s Esoteric Recordings. And they've done a typically bang up job - especially on the audio front with a new Remaster from original tapes by Audio Engineer BEN WISEMAN – someone who has handled loads of these Reissues. The opening track "The Man" is a slow Rock builder - the kind of tune Free would have punched out of the park circa 1970's "Fire And Water" LP. Mike Patto's impassioned vocals build as Halsall licks away on the guitar. It's a hard song to transfer with any real power - and yet without trebling the thing out of existence - the audio on this sucker alone is worth the price of admission.

A word about the music – although the Vertigo Label was largely associated with all things Prog Rock - until the very trippy guitar-workout of the near eleven-minute "Money Bag" over on Side 2 – in fact "Patto" the album is way more Humble Pie than May Blitz. Most of the record feels like Hard Rock – its even Bluesy in places. In fact sandwiched between the angry social-conscience lyrics of "Government Man" and the Free-sounding riffage of "Sittin' Back Easy" – the track "Money Bag" seems wildly out of place – almost like its been transported in from another world entirely.

That doesn’t mean the music or the whole LP is lesser for it – its not. The album's wonderful opener "The Man" was featured on Disc 2 of 2005's "Time Machine" 3CD Vertigo Spiral Retrospective Box Set from Universal - a slow burning builder that feels epic and cool too. The rock swagger of "Hold Me Back" would do Grand Funk proud - while the Acoustic-delicate opening of "Time To Die" feels like the kind of song Marriott would have done on Immediate Records with late Sixties Small Faces or Humble Pie's 1969 output - "As Safe As Yesterday" and "Town And Country" again on Immediate Records before they signed to A&M. "Red Glow" ends Side 1 on a fabulous Rock chugger where Mike Patto sounds like Mike Harrison of Spooky Tooth getting his teeth into a neck-jerking groove while Halsall lets rip with brilliant rocking guitar. The album's Prog moments arrive as Jazz vibes introduced towards the end of "Government Man" literally lead into the near ten-minutes of "Money Bag" - an instrumental that lets Halsall indulge in his inner John McLaughlin for what seems like half-a-year. I’ve always found this meandering track difficult to take – but there’s no mistaking his playing that at times feels like Jeff Beck five years before he did "Blow By Blow". Song normality returns with "Sittin' Back Easy" where a slow beginning then rips into Family-type Rock with Mike Patto actually sounding a little like Roger Chapman. And those wanting more of Ollie Halsall and his guitar should check out Boxer and Tempest.

I wasn't expecting much of the Bonus Tracks - but Fusion and Ollie Halsall admirers will be in Seventh Heaven here. "Hanging Rope" clocks in at a huge 14:49 minutes and is similar to the Side 2 oddity "Money Bag". With some minor Roger Chapman-esque vocals from Mike Patto halfway in – it's mostly instrumental – Halsall soloing away on Guitar while cymbals clash and a Bass goes Miles Davis on proceedings. Musically it feels like Family have discovered Jazz and gone off on a Fusion wig out. I know it was on the 2004 CD reissue from Repertoire – but it's the first time I've ever heard it – and what a find. "Love Me" is PATTO as a Jazz-Prog band - eight-minutes of Vibes, Bass and Mike singing 'love me as i would love you'. An almost after-hours barroom vibe comes over in the BBC Session version of "Government Man" - it's good rather than being great and isn't a patch on the album's studio cut. But fans will welcome it.

1970's "Patto" is a genuine rarity LP given a properly decent CD reissue here - great audio, better presentation and genuinely complimentary bonuses. Well done to all the cats at Esoteric Recordings for putting it out there again and honouring Halsall's recorded legacy in such style...

PS: PATTO CD Reissues...
Also reissued in 28 April 2017 is their second Vertigo vinyl platter from November 1971 called "Hold Your Fire" - but as a 2CD 'Expanded Edition Remaster' with 13 Bonus Tracks (Esoteric ECLEC 22582 - Barcode 5013929468245). 26 May 2017 will then see their aborted fourth album recorded in 1973 called "Monkey's Bum" reissued by Esoteric and again as an 'Expanded Edition' CD (Esoteric ECLEC 2587). It will be the first ‘official’ release of the album sanctioned by the remaining members of the band and include three Previously Unreleased tracks – sessions recorded for John Peel’s BBC Radio One show on 13 February 1973 with the original line-up of the band...