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Wydawnictwo 21
re-issue 2000
Yugoslavia, the most open of all the communist countries, saw many classic albums by Anglo rockers released so it’s a little wonder that its scene thrived with bands capable of rivalry if allowed to go West. POP MASINA, a powerful vehicle, played progressive-tinged blues rock of a GUN kind that swoops on you from the blistering bass and guitar work of “Na Drumu Za Haos”, melodic priority given to instruments rather than voice, and it’s just a teaser as the song ends all too soon for “Pesma Srecne Noci” to come in. A thin slice of organ elegantly underlines jaunty vocals contrasting with dramatic feel the trio renders skilfully – live, this could expand onto CREAM territory.Track sequencing is important here and, after the rumble, quiet “Mir” with “Planet Caravan”-like solo comes very fittingly to be followed by “Kiselina” sporting jazzy groove and eerie electric piano and guitar improvisation. “Kiselina” meaning “Acid” eats into you, indeed – more so in “Trazim Put”, a raga color sprayed onto rock’n’roll canvas in the vein of BLIND FAITH when guitar solo is a main attraction but it can soften, and “Povratak Zvezdama” proves an arresting instrumental wail. “Svemirska Prica” in its early SABBATH turn signals return to the album beginning (a single version added was recorded a month later and appears a bit more interesting) yet acoustically-dominated “Slika Iz Proslih Dana” adorned with flute, though exqusite, lacks the edge so, to round the opus, here’s a short shuffle of “Jark”.

Few bonus tracks, recorded before and after “Kiselina” serve for catching the MASINA in motion – what a pity, it went off the rails.


First Recordings
Wydawnictwo 21
re-issue 2000
While West Germany gave birth to mighty Brit-influenced SCORPIONS and Krautrock, East Germany wasn’t down on rock as well. BAYON, formed in 1971, was primarily guitarist Christoph Theusner and students from the Third World countries. A combination of straight baroque and world music was perfect for creating high-quality folk-prog of no less appeal than that of TRAFFIC. And German appeared quite a fitting language to sing in! “Stell Dich Mitten In Den Regen” builds slowly and it’s hard to notice when you’re caught in the cobweb of guitars, acoustic and electric, and a flute more spaced out compared to Ian Anderson‘s. Percussion thumps hypnotizing, sound comes in waves, to and fro – a Minnesinger serenade. “Die Nacht” bears a poignant violin that swirls around the voices and complements acoustic strumming – and even the hiss of vinyl from which the album was transferred feels like logs burning in the fire. Guitars solos fervently supported by tabla drone to go in places unison with vocals.”Die Lerche” is more arousing and authentic – and here BAYON comes as a German GRYPHON but with a Chinese and Scottish tunes explored in beautiful mix. Another Oriental melody is “O Mangobaum”, that’s hard to resist. And why resist? The audience response to live “Synthetic-Walzer” seems appropriate. A work of large CAMEL-esque scale – yet it’s 1973 – although at the very beginning there’s a hint of “Paint It Black” sitar raga. A mesmerizing textures MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA wouldn’t be strange to.

Completely different appears epic “Bayon-Suite”, as equally progressive and classic-laden as Jon Lord’s opuses with flute and organ a bedrock for phased guitar weaving the spell that tread the TULL path in the middle section that begs for full orchestration yet this “vacuum” is another instrument – an acute decision. Mighty work!

Rock it isn’t yet infinitely wonderful music is and, as such, deserves a proper re-issue programme.


Kure V Hodinkach
Wydawnictwo 21
re-issue 2000
Czekhia was always good in terms of rock but FLAMENGO is far from many hard rock formations born there. From the “Kure V Hodinkach” introduction the killer couple of sax and guitar with throbbing rhythm section smells of “Schizoid Man” – not melodically, it’s just style that turns for “Ram Prislich Obrazu” into powerful COLOSSEUM jazz rock while on the choruses voice shoots out pop harmonies. Pauses are rare here, so album as a whole feels a conceptual suite and, at the point of bluesy “Jenom Laska Vi Kam” where bass swaggers as a pendulum and guitar flies across sax riff, one falls for the drift. Intense aural attack loosens when “Ja A Dym” flows on a flute-shaped cloud – TULL rain fell not on deaf ears – and a heart-rending classical guitar lace. But don’t relax – “Chvile Chvil” draws back into jazz-progressive field though melodic line is quite weak unless organ roars and voice soars high, and where the most biting bit could come in, the music stops.The reason is to ease the ears with baroque tincture of “Par Stoleti” which tastes really good. “Doky, Vlaky, Hlad A Boty” sounds somehow familar and arresting with all the time changes and even a danceable excerpt towards the end – try foxtrot, you may succeed. Guitar and sax interplay impress much. Catchy is “Stale Dol” that could fit BLODWYN PIG as has cutting flute, raspy vocals and jazzy guitar. Approach softens for the title track, a finale of sublime logic and elegance. Arguably, “Kure” is one of the best albums in its genre and has to be exposed much better.

Bonus tracks trace the band’s progress from as early as 1968. FLAMENGO had gone a long way from rhythm-and-blues to their original material: while guitar blues “Vim, Za Placem To Skonci” recorded live in 1970 was of high standards, “Summertime” they borrowed from THE BIG BROTHER and Janis canon with no stamp of their own applied to Otis Redding’s and James Brown’s material. That did good and the great band emerged to the world.


Wydawnictwo 21
re-issue 2000
Believe or not, but VRIJEME were from Yugoslavia, not England, their language a prove. Not so with music, that’s a top-notch highly melodic progressive blues rock you may compare to many of British bands while not say they copied anyone – all the material, written mainly by powerful singer Dado Topic (think of Chris Farlowe here), bears a national tint. Yet, “Istina Masina” welcome you to the fold of KEEF HARTLEY BAND likes but, being complicated, bears more of a funky touch with swirling Hammond, interlocking guitars and imaginative drumming. “Pjesma No. 3” seems to come from another combo as a flute leads into the claustrophobic blues built like PURPLE’s “When A Blind Man Cries”. Sad now? Cheer up! Another facet of “Time” is stomping tribal dance “Hegedupa Upa” you can’t help but join in to. Rousing voice intones in unison with organ when percussion and guitars go shamanic. A treat even for deaf!”Kralj Alkohol”, contrasting, is extremely serious and appears to be quite sparse improvisional blues COLOSSEUM are the masters of with overt Jon Lord-ish manner of Hammond handling. On-stage this one should have been a must, but there’s no live version of it. But among bonus tracks you can find that of “Za Koji Zivot Treba Da Se Rodim”, a suite, which rounds the album. Almost a “Daughter Of Time”, taking you in, absense of catchy melody notwithstanding. Blame it on fantastic guitar and classic quotes – there are many, spot Rodrigo’s “Concerto de Aranjuez” at least. Another brilliant exemplar of concert excellence is “Reci Ciganko, Sto Mi U Dlanu Pise”, presented here in both studio and live variants. VRIJEME were capable of rumbling yet the pearl in their crown looks “Makedonja”, such driving and dramatic as if it was written nowadays. Where are they now, these guys? The world’s in demand of them.


1986, 1988
Burning Airlines
re-issue 2001
This double-CD set comprises two ‘HOGS albums – studio “Back Against The Wall” and consequent live “Hogs On The Road”, the only output from the Tony McPhee/Dave Anderson/Mick Jones line up that worked together in 1985-1989. With trio currently re-united, it’s a welcomed re-release from this vintage blues combo, one of the last survivors.”Back Against The Wall” kicks off with title track bearing a strong hook akin to Rory Gallagher’s although this McPhee’s effort feels bleak. Some tracks boast with heavy bedrock with Tony’s voice oddly relaxed. Solos are good yet songs lack melodic edge. “No To Submission” looks gloomy in its metallic sound and freshness comes in for acoustically driven hypnotizing “Blue Boar Blues” and more into “Stick To Your Guns” – the best track of all. The rest just follow a bluesy routine – riding on too banal “In The Meantime” hardly works for the band’s benefit. Thus, “Ain’t No Slaver” catchy riff, hailing from Hooker’s “Boom Boom” and melancholy rap of “54146” dedicated to McPhee’s stolen guitar, show glory already behind. Sometimes wine turns sour, doesn’t it?

But not live. All those bluesmen on-stage always act better than confined in four walls. And from “Express Man” ‘HOGS do smoke. Pace may quicken or slow down but energy’s here with Tony’s axe cutting in fine. There’s all the blues rawness present amidst material old like “Split”, er, split in three pieces, and new – “Back Against The Wall” and “Waiting In Shadows” off “Back” album are balanced pretty well. As are the instruments: bass drives “Strange Town” and “3744 James Road” adorned with drums fireworks and even Muddy’s “I Want You To Love Me” loses to McPhee-penned blues, sharp as “Soldier”. No wonder with this guitar, which barks and howls like a dog in pain – a sign of real blues. And when through “Cherry Red” peeps “Amazing Grace” one can feel how ‘HOGS’ heavy grace amazes.

*** – studio
**** – live

Works Of Jah
The Best Of Reggae
Orange Street re-issue 2001
If reggae for you is Bob Marley only and hearing the name of Lee “Scratch” Perry makes you scratching a head, that’s the starting point. Three CDs crammed with the best dishes cooked by Jamaican receipts – 56 tracks altogether – are the good gulp of sunshine into routine life. Strangely, Mad Professor Perry’s absent from this compilation, while Marley’s here and, fortunately, presented not by his omnipresent stuff that – except for “Natural Mystic” – got omitted in favour of more obscure early tracks as “Splish For My Splash”, still balancing on the brim of ska and reggae. The route from ska through rock steady into reggae as we know it today has been covered great. Smooth drift of Barrington Levy’s “Warm & Sunny Day” goes alongside bouncing “Lonely Man” from Gregory Isaacs and such odd thing as “Love Story” by… Clint Eastwood.Amidst such mighty songs as Dennis Brown’s “Africa” or similarly titled “We Are Africa” sung by Sly & Robbie, Marley’s shadow doesn’t loom large yet what’s clear is crisp production of his material – “Falling In & Out Of Love” simply rings out.
You can’t say his works were supposed to sound commercial, the aim of late comers – indeed, Don Carlos-delivered original of “Rivers Of Babylon” has the edge over BONEY M version. They might go for dance rhythms, but this groove always lived in reggae – just listen to Dilinger’s “Cool Operator” and almost disco of “Jungle Fever” from Prince Lincoln Thomas.

Not all the tracks impress with melody: in “She Need Me” Sasafras reads dumb rap while Jackie Edwards came up with compelling jazzy instrumental “On The Beach” and just a few would resist John Holt’s “I’ve Got To Get Away”. These names may be not so well known as Freddie McGregor’s and HEPTONES’ but together they make for widescreen picture of the genre’s development. And although more “angry” songs might spice up the meal, it’s savoured like it should.

Comprehensive liner notes would be warmly welcomed to accompany the set but they could turn into a book so no real complaints here.


Retrowrek re-issue 1999

Read the interview

Get rid of impression Bernie Torme was just hard rock guitarist backing one famous singer. This album, recorded in 1983, after Bernie left GILLAN, clearly shows that the primary influence not only guitar-wise but in terms of singing on Torme had none other than great Rory Gallagher. Those Irishmen, you know… While not TASTE, the trio of Bernie, drummer Ron Rebel from early incarnation of IRON MAIDEN and ex-STAMPEDE Colin Bond on bass was no less energetic and powerful.They kickstart with blistering rock’n’roll “Wild West” where Torme’s guitar sometimes chugs, sometimes weaves loops that make you understand why the man was later called to arms by Ozzy. Bernie, never a great vocalist, compensates by sheer enthusiasm of his delivery. But do the blues need a supervoice? “Turn Out The Lights” from guitarist’s eponymous debut comes so engaging anyone hardly would think of another warbler. What’s more interesting is, obviously, everchanging techniques of handling the guitar. And guitar talks – which is the mark of a real mastership. And if in places melody gets weaker, as in “Lightning Strikes”, there always is a solo which knocks the socks off.

Harder and harder music gets with mighty “Getting There” to vent the steam off in frivolous “Too Young” smelling of Torme’s punky past and eventually resolve in huge GILLAN number “No Easy Way”, read very fresh.

Re-issue boasts of extra tracks recorded during the same tour (how delightful is Hendrix-influenced ballad “Presences”) – if not say that it’s the album’s debut on CD.


Bootleg Him!
Castle Music re-issue 1999
The unique collection from the great late Alexis. Maybe, hard to find though it’s really worth looking for. A simple blues of standard twelve bars… And how they’re played, what a nuclear power contained in the delivery! Swing sways like a stormy ocean, although Korner works very relaxed – one cannot liken his jazzy-brassed “I Wonder Who” with Rory Gallagher’s hurricane version. It’s two sides of a blues coin: where Rory rushes headlong, Alexis sings scat with no hurry. No coincidence Irish master had a piece titled “Alexis”. Pay attention to the Korner-penned instrumental “Dee”. Don’t you find this one somewhat familiar – Randy Rhoads’ parallels aside? Well, FLEETWOD MAC’s “Albatross” spread his wings not in wilderness.There’s not many of Alexis’ own material, more classics yet made in unimitatable Korner’s manner. Not a few artists had a go at, say, “Hoochie Coochie Man” but this version just grows into you. More, there’s “Yellow Dog Blues” where many a young musician could learn that both rock and jazz come rooted in blues while blues is a whole. Korner doesn’t draw a margin here and alongside Ray Charles’ “I Got A Woman”, a rock staple nowadays, stands “Don’t Let Them Drop That Atomic Bomb On Me” written by jazz icon Charles Mingus. And “Evil Hearted Woman” – Gosh, it’s tango!

Everything’s played so easy-going – which is not easy at all, you can’t learn that easiness – blues must live inside you and go unleashed like a dog off a chain. From here you have that growling and guitar ringing and sax howling. Get up on your toes, those indifferent to Korner: if you’re into old WHITESNAKE there’s Colin Hodgkinson playing on “Bootleg Him!”, in “Mighty Mighty Spade & Whitey” you may spot Paul Rodgers while in “Operator” clearly heard is young Robert Plant, who had just joined ZEP then. Go for it before another Moby catches up onto “Jesus Is Alright” to spoil it with electronics. And yes, on hearing “City House Inn” you’ll trace down Tom Jones’ “Sex Bomb”.

Liner notes are good, although the players lists for each track – as it was in the original LP – would be preferrable.


Nightingales & Bombers
Creature Music re-issue 1999
Organist Manfred Mann‘s band showed so many facets throughout its long career: beat, jazz, art rock, hard rock. The 1975’s album the majority of fans call the band’s peak. A masterpiece, indeed. In the mid-Seventies Mann’s group reached the top and went for miracles. Innate feel for great music lead Manfred to then unknown American musician called Bruce Springsteen. An excellent version of his “Spirits In The Night” might have not been a huge hit yet carved a niche in a listener’s ear. For a certain reason, as EARTH BAND treated it with orchestral finess with all the original impetus retained. Equal energy oozes out off instrumental “Countdown”, a trace of the group’s jazzy side. But exchange this jazziness for a metal arrangement and “Time Is Right” wouldn’t seem strange in the BLACK SABBATH’s canon.Manfred himself stepped back on this album and lent the main solo parts to singer-guitarist Mick Rogers. And while Colin Pattenden’s bass gives the music a sheer volume, Chris Slade’s drumming work adds another dimension. At the same time the band play as a tight unit – even in such improvisional compositions as “Crossfade” or “Nightingales And Bombers” – and turn simple ballads like Joan Armatrading’s “Visionary Mountains” into lush tapestries.

Completists would be happy to obtain now Dylan’s “Quit Your Low Down Ways” off American LP version and single variant of “Spirits”.


GILLAN – Mr. Universe
Caramba! re-issue 1999
OK, at last there’s a re-issue that makes Gillan a dime because now it’s on a label of his own. What is strange is that this disc comes marked IAN GILLAN BAND while everybody knows this band is GILLAN (what about logo, eh?). What’s the difference, you ask? A big deal, indeed. Having recovered from all the repercussions after leaving PURPLE, Ian called to arms jazz-rock group IAN GILLAN BAND, which was too clever for the fans demanding hard rock from the singer. So Ian himself didn’t surf long on the fusion wave and changed a style, a title – for GILLAN – and a line-up, having kept with him only keyboards player Colin Townes, who the warbler co-wrote with a lion share of “Mr. Universe”.A magnificient album! Arguably, Gillan’s peak as a solo artist, although the next one, “Future Shock” is more confident in approach, more tight, while here we have all that we love GILLAN for. Energy and melodies. Jazzy piano solos – Townes clearly wasn’t keen on synthesizers and what goddamn synthesizers would suit the blues of “Puget Sound”! Bernie Torme‘s guitar, that shines in speedy “Secret Of The Dance” and, yes, in “Smoke On The Water”. It may seem strange but it’s Bernie who reigns in this anthem, not Gillan. And the audience, which sings better than Ian – bonus tracks come from the Reading festival. That’s why GILLAN was a band. Not like PURPLE, completely different yet treading a parallel path though. That’s why you can compare “Fighting Man” to “Child In Time” and consider them equal.


Manfred Mann‘S EARTH BAND –
The Roaring Silence
Creature Music re-issue 1998
More of a rock album if compared to its predecessor, this one kicks you right between the eyes. It’s a rare ocassion that artists manage to keep up two consequent albums in one style without losing a bit of quality. EARTH BAND succeed at this point. There’s a shift in the line-up – Chris Thompson stepped into Mick Rogers’ shoes, an equal exhange. Comparing the singers is easy as the re-issue includes another single version of “Spirits In The Night”, with Thompson at the mike.The 1976’s album had a huge popularity. although it was brewed with the same receipt that “Nightingales & Bombers”. Again the opener is Springsteen’s track, “Blinded By The Light”, and again the arrangement turned quite an unremamrkable song into a gem. Nothing to say about lyrical “Singing The Dolphin Through”, we can only wonder why that one didn’t make any of low-price ballads compilations. Even its coda entwined by Barbara Thompson’s sax is worthy longing the album. As a contrast to it appears jazz instrumental “Walter, There’s A Yawn In My Ear” that got illustrated on the cover.

The band’s mastership is at display in epic “Road To Babylon”: they managed to have kept from stepping over pathos line and remained sincere without going theatrical. Once EARTH BAND delves into “This Side Of Paradise” many would recall that it’s this playful organ added another dimension to URIAH HEEP’s “July Morning”. But organ gets changed for piano to unfurl a magic ballad “Questions”, which’s on par with the best McCartney’s stuff.

So that was the peak and, over it, the band had written themselves into history books and started simply playing music with no ambition.


The History And
The Mystery
NMC Music re-issue 2000
Welcome to the madness! Every madness should have a method. GONG’s one certainly had one although it might seem almost unperceivable for an outsider. Play with idea of an Antipod with a Flying Teapot and get your kicks out of it. This compilation spans the enigmatic band’s career from 1964 when Daevid Allen had his vision of things to shape. From “Captain Shaw And Mr. Gilbert” snippet off his “If Words Were Birds” book read to vaudeville background through the muddy surf rock of “Love Makes Sweet Music” recorded in 1968 with SOFT MACHINE to GONG as we think we know it. “Dreaming It”, harking back to 1969, brings shamanism inhaled in rock by Morrison – but THE DOORS never were as jazzy. And who dares to say GONG weren’t about tunes? Live version of “I Feel So Lazy” shows 50s naivete yet adorned with flute, punctuated bass and bluesy guitar.With “Radio Gnome Pre-mix” chat between Daevid Allen and Gilli Smyth in comes free-form GONG still retaining melodism – now quirky though it’s hard not to like “Pot Head Pixies” or “Clarence In Wonderland”. Ain’t it a circus of THE KINKS’ kind? 1976’s “Where Have All The Flowers Gone” is as gentle as progressive – a cross between FLOYD and GENESIS maybe, while Indian drone of “Deya Goddess” conjures up Steve Hillage’s ghost.

Punk may have dumped art rock but Allen assimilated punk in “Opium For The People” (sung here in French) – and answered the question how seriously he took his endeavours. Well, sometimes he goes too far, as with “Chernobyl Rain”, the subject’s not as jaunty as the melody.

To show that neither Allen nor MOTHER GONG of Smyth and her new partner Harry Williamson (the one who worked with Anthony Phillips on “Tarka”) lay on past laurels, we’re treated with something fresh – er, the original compilation comes from 1989 -“The Owl And The Tree” album. Music’s good, melancholy jazz, but effect’s wrong: the history proves glorious while mystery stays unsolved. So where have all the flowers gone?


Year 2000:
Codename Hawkwind
Volume One
1985, 1992,
NMC Music re-issue 1999
The presenation of this set is amazing: two CDs (originally “Space Ritual Volume 2” and “Masters Of The Universe” albums, now remastered) in cardboard sleeves bookended by two cards and stuck into plastic case. Oh yeah, what concerns artwork this band always was very imaginative. You just hope that music coming from 1972 shows is on par with it. No reason to be disappointed, indeed. Especially, given an opportunity to liken two HAWKWINDs, early and classic ones.With an intro of “Space” on Disc 1 recorded in Brixton the listener drowns into “Argone Accumulator” blues. Lemmy’s bass pumps a base for Nik Turner’s weird sax. Dave Brock’s singing’s not a big deal in the band’s canon though usable for creating a tension – in “Upside Down” as heavy as SABBATH. A real sonic attack which Bob Calvert’s poem “Sonic Attack” isn’t while “Time We Left” is, a psychedelia in full glory reaching its peak in “Brainstorm”, instruments interlock behind sax molded into something unpenetrable solid. But music comes somehow unfocused, that’s why HAWKWIND didn’t reach the CRIMSON following with a similar approach – just listen to “Seven By Seven”.

“Master Of The Universe”, the only song common to both CDs, opens Disc 2 documenting Cambridge concert. Different is not only set but the line up, too – bass still played by Dave Anderson and guitar by Huw Lloyd-Langton. Sound muddy yet thin, music less out-of-space – how could a band be so drastically changed in a short lapse of time? Even material was weaker bar “Hurry On Sundown” that Brock busked with back in late 60s – although KULA SHAKER’s version’s much more expressive. Thus, Disc 2, a must for fans who can tell one piece from another, for others is better to avoid. One man’s meat, you know…


Year 2000:
Codename Hawkwind
Volume Two
Live From The Darkside
NMC Music re-issue 2000
This one’s different: an Empire Pool gig of 1973, classic HAWKWIND line up, not the one Michael Oldfield wrote about in the Summer of 1972 – the quote’s in the booklet. Don’t be fooled by the name, folks! – it’s the infamous “Bring Me The Head Of Yuri Gagarin” album, remastered and lovingly re-packaged. Which means the sound is not of great quality, rather opposite.As for content… Too much Bob Calvert in the beginning, he’s at the helm in “9797” and “In The Egg”, warming up the audience with his verses until they’re ready to cook.

The band kicks in with “Argone Accumulator”, more relaxed than usual. Musicianship’s great but the sound’s worse being compared to “Volume One”, I’d say it’s a problem of many HAWKS live recording. Too spaced out to care of sound? Quite likely so. Well, one can tell “Urban Guerilla” is a good rock’n’roll even by this hazy version which sounds not unlike THE STOOGES. Good ol’ “Masters Of The Universe” smokes as it should yet vocals not on par with the playing. Through “Welcome To The Future” and another reading of “Sonic Attack” we’re introduced to Lemmy-sung “Silver Machine”, a killer always lost in the band’s noise.

The listening might be quite pleasant for a fan but short and leaves you unsatisfied. Don’t complain, the enhanced CD contains a 3D-movie for the eyes to feast.


Parallel Eccentricities
Mahl Productions
re-issue 1999
It’s not a man, NATHAN MAHL, a band. A band decided to return with a vengence and present their audience with a re-packaging of the first album with an interactive section added. They were bloody right doing so as back in 1982 just a few could really comprehend this pure progressive effort. GENESIS as an art rock ensemble was over and Guy LeBlanc and his partners in crime picked up a magic wand. “Parallel Eccentrities” sound now as modern as can be – for music deeply rooted in the Seventies.GENESIS is an obvious comparison if you want one but NATHAN play much more free improvising every here and there. A little theatricality in vocal no way mars majestic guitar/keyboards soloing and interplay. Imagine CAMEL in freefall and you get MAHL’s “Moral Values”. But one thing shouldn’t be overlooked and the thing is un-seriousness, an overall tongue-in-cheek approach.

Don Prince’s chunky bass reigns in “Slow Burn”, a piece you feel nothing progressive about – because it’s easy jazz George Benson is a master of. Sparse “Orgasmik Out-Burst” misses melodic point so energetic “Schizophrenia” attack comes redeeming. And off again with “No Vacancy”. Which is true for this band’s music.


Mahoney’s Last Stand
NMC Music re-issue 1998
It’s a soundtrack to the obscure movie of the same title recorded by two Rons in 1972, on the verge of THE FACES break-up. Originally released in 1975, now the tapes were unearthed to give us insight into the musicians’ methods of work outside their band. A curious artifact rather than a real album. The line up for this venture included also mighty percussionist Pete Townshend, sax virtuosos Bobby Keys and Jim Price and FACES’ keyboardist Ian McLagan.The opener, “Car Radio”, bouncy instrumental – Woody’s trademark slide kicking off Chuck Berry’s hooks – could make for a good song had lyrics been supplied to it. Another kind of jam is rombust boogie of “Tonight’s Number” and next Lane comes to the fore with “From The Late To The Early” which represents the folk patch he pursued later – here are future members of SLIM CHANCE, Bruce Rowlands and Benny Gallagher, complementing Wood’s acoustic and harmonica. More country to jaunty “Chicken Wire”, which has Rick Grech of FAMILY and BLIND FAITH on bass and breaks into “Chicken Wired”, a song Lane re-did for his “Anymore For Anymore” album in more polished form.

Funny ditty is “I’ll Fly Away” sung a capella by ‘The Wood/Lane Vocal Ensemble’ and, still in the mood, Lane and Wood swap guitars on instrumental “Just For A Moment” to come up with majestic guitar/bass interplay that leads into acoustic blues “Mona”. For hoedown “Hay Tumble” Rick Grech picks up a violin and Micky Waller, Woody’s colleague in JEFF BECK GROUP, gets to percussion. Here reigns Wood’s harmonica and deep bass – even more, Lane’s completely off of “Woody’s Thing” when in is welcomed THE STONES’ Ian Stewart bashing on piano. Closing “Just For A Moment” – this time with vocals – turns out to be a poignant ballad, pure Lane.

Newly added bonuses are material from the “Mahoney’s” sessions including two sketches, early version of “Anymore For Anymore” which smells of Dylan and great for comparison to variants included on the eponymous album, plus “C&W Number” and “My Fault” (is it Rod singing on the latter, which, by the way, doesn’t credit Lane in the FACES’ version?) that ended on THE FACES’ “Ooh La La”. Well, masters are masters even in their worse moments – here’s a proof.


Water Blue
Musea re-issue 1999
Everybody knows the Japanese are into old rock yet anyway it’s always amazing when they go playing themselves. VERMILION SANDS came up with “Water Blue” back in 1989 and now we have an expanded version of the album. It was all worth it. The folk vibe and introvert vocal of “My Lagan Love” conjure up Sandy Denny’s delivery of “A Sailor’s Life”, deep and touching. Just Yoko Royama’s voice and flute – that would be enough but imaginative drums roll into “Ashes Of The Time”, mighty epic track smelling of RENAISSANCE with this deep bass, acoustic guitar’s lace, orchestrated keyboards and soaring voice. Even harmonies and time changes. But while the English band’s efforts were classical-connected, SANDS are more of art rock sort – witness the guitar solo at the end of “In Your Mind”, overshadowed by the delicious synthesizer/piano combination. The track comes with more modern, pop feel, exactly the same as Annie Haslam‘s solo albums a little later.Pure “Carpet Of The Sun” seems to be windy vocalising of “Coral D – The Cloud Sculptures”, which reminds you that Yoko means “Ocean Child”, while in “Kitamoto” one can trace down “Mother Russia” with dramatics changed to softness. And Japanese – ain’t it a perfect language to sing in? But except for that, there’s no sign of the band’s nationality – even “Living In The Shiny Days” appears as a go at “Northern Lights”. Not bad, really, pleasant to the end yet a listener might beg for more originality. Having reached the finale, “The Poet”, one can conclude: no revelation, the time’s spent good though – and here comes a surprise, verses in English! Bravo!

From the Musea album “Seven Days Of Life” originates “The Love In The Cage”, more confident in approach and boasting of Yoko’s gentle flute solo. Listen closely to the recorded at the same time but unreleased “In The Night Of Ancient Tombs”, majestic piece, and guess whether “Can You Hear Me” motif in the beginning was used deliberately. But then it’s gone and the band tread more free territory, there’s even a jazzy organ solo in it. Much later, in 1996, they were alive – and live versions of “The Love In The Cage” and “In Your Mind” prove SANDS’ prowess. Will there be a new album to prove their maturity as well?


…where the ACTION is!
NMC Music re-issue 1997
Remember, there was THE ANIMALS’ album titled “Greatest Hits Live”? Now we have the opportunity to hear the legendary YARDBIRDS’ BBC sessions of 1965-1967, the real greatest hits. Yes, it’s not the real live situation but… Not much of Clapton on these recordings yet that band’s show’s document was “Five Live Yardbirds” with the definitive “Too Much Monkey Business” rendition. Eric stormed off after “For Your Love”, non-bluesy in his eyes. Let it be so yet what’s an enjoyable is the version present here, stripped off Brian Auger’s lush organ to demonstrate Jim McCarty‘s innovative drumming and a different vocal approach, less aggressive and, thus, more suitable for lyrics. Note, the band’s studio output was quite spare so there’s a chance to hear obscure material like “I’m Not Talking” in top-notch quality.THE YARDBIRDS were ahead of their time, combining short pop songs with more bluesiness than THE STONES and showing the signs of progressive rock as early as 1965 – just compare Keith Relf’s harp solo in “I Wish You Would” to his work with ARMAGEDDON, dig psycho-folk of “Over Under Sideways Down” or stick to use of sitar in “Heart Full Of Soul” (here the track is in guitar version). The latter trick was, surely, down to Jeff Beck, who was no blues purist like Clapton and let himself use bottleneck and even riffage for the YARDBIRDS’ own “I’ve Been Wrong”. It’s only Eric’s absence made possible such a sharp “I’m A Man” delivery letting Paul Samwell-Smith’s bass go solo. How this bass pumps its way through “Evil Hearted You”! And only a few artists were able accumulate a sheer energy in a seemimgly simple song like “Still I’m Sad” – seek for the RAINBOW live take on this one to see how it could unfurl.

All the similarities – and differences – between THE YARDBIRDS’ and THE STONES manners are on the surface with “Hang On Sloopy” and “Smokestage Lightning”. Two sides of one medal, ain’t ’em? What, then, about “Better Man Than I” that AEROSMITH quoted in “Eat The Rich”? You missed the point? You can liken Tyler to Jagger while never deny the fact ‘SMITH digged “Train Kept A Rollin'” from the YARDBIRDS’ canon. And yes, that was a beginning for ZEPS. Jimmy Page was already there to record the blues. This band lead the British blues until they were upstaged by FLEETWOOD MAC, another five-piece unit hooked on Elmore James – both bands played “Dust My Broom” (or “Dust My Blues”, as Relf preferred to refer to it) and “The Sun Is Shining”, both are here.

THE YARDBIRDS playing Dylan? Yes, the English group covered “Most Likely You’ll Go Your Way” no less convincing than THE BYRDS’ did with many songs by His Bobness. “Think About It”, co-written with Page, was almost pure hard rock and almost the end of the band. THE YARDBIRDS’ last battle is well documented on the "Cumular Limit" album released by NMC as well. But if you’re eager to hear what they were like on-stage in 1967, you’re treated now with something very special – the second CD of this set is occupied by recording of the Stockholm gig with Page-coloured deliverings of “Heart Full Of Soul” and “Mr. You’re A Better Man”. That’s where the action is!


The Devil Hits Back
NMC Music re-issue 1999
Many wonder how to categorize ATOMIC ROOSTER, the band much more never heard about. This collection gives us an opportunity to recollect memories and call it hard rock. All the PURPLE afficionados should fall for “Devil’s Answer”, a classic boasting fleshy Hammond played by late Vince Crane, John DuCann’s catchy riffs and sparkling Paul Hammond’s drumming. More frenetic is “When Do I Start To Live” sounding not unlike HUMBLE PIE or ZEP – less bluesy but what if not the blues pave the road for “Play It Again”? Balance between melodies and attack comes perfect as ROOSTER gets a hold, or “Control Of You” as they put it themselves. Here lies the best example of this foot-stomping music THE SWEET made a canon of. No sign of poppiness bar some BEATLE-ish hooks in “Lost In Space” with chorus remindful of the STONES’ “In Another Land”.Instruments interlock to paint on a thick canvas hardly leaving for you an air to breathe. Ah yes, there is a hole in form of voice adding this charming irony one used to hear from Ozzy. Well, jazzy-tinged “Looking For You” could fit “Technical Ecstasy”. Crane goes soloing on “Watch Out” and listening to him wildly playing one can only surmise why he didn’t reach the status Jon Lord and Ken Hensley attained. “The End Of The Day” makes you compare ROOSTER to VANILLA FUDGE, their natural rivals in the early metal field. But could Americans ever do music like, say, “Hiding In The Shadow”?

Three bonus tracks originate from previously unreleased German broadcast, among them another version of mighty “Tomorrow Night” demonstrating a stunning organ/guitar/vox unison. And there’s another voice heard in “Breakthrough”, Chris Farlowe’s, who was in ATOMIC ROOSTER in the 70s having brought in from COLOSSEUM even more jazziness. The recording preserved all the fun the band had for us to share now. Don’t miss or the Devil hits you back.


Anymore For Anymore
NMC Music re-issue 1997
“Anymore” was the first album Lane recorded in 1974 with his new band SLIM CHANCE. THE (SMALL) FACES somehow restricted Ronnie’s input so eventually he could let himself go now. It was Lane who stood behind the FACES’ Englishness and no surprise SLIM CHANCE kicks off with traditional “Careless Love”, a lyrics slightly changed and jazzy feel added by swirling sax and boogieing piano. Famous duo of Gallagher and Lyle was part of the band – the fact that says something of CHANCE sound, soft and acoustic-driven. Does romanticism belongs to rock’n’roll? In Ronnie’s case, yes. A vulnerable person delivers “Don’t You Cry For Me” close to George Harrison’s music. There’s neither attack nor pop approach to it, music’s as tight as “Itchycoo Park”. Slide guitar leads “(Bye & Bye) Gonna See The King”, an exqusite take on jaunty folk, Sandy Denny would be proud of. Wanna hoedown? C’mon! Or simply join the chorus here or on vaudeville-like “Amelia Earhardt’s Last Flight”.”The Poacher” is a potential hit of “Penny Lane” kind. Lane’s voice may be a little thin on this one but melody and arrangement involving Hammond and strings makes it unescapable wonderful – and a bit out of place, bookended by country of “Silk Stockings” and “Roll On Babe”.

Ronnie always felt THE FACES’ version of “Tell Everyone” sung by Rod Stewart was too strained and re-recorded it for “Anymore” in more warm, personal way, linking it to the title track Lane co-wrote with his wife Kate. Classic music hall tune “Bird In A Guiled Cage” played solely on piano precedes scorching “Chicken Wired”, infectious track written for “Mahoney’s Last Stand” soundtrack.

Among the bonus tracks are two gems: acoustic version of Ronnie’s “How Come”, released as a single and included in "Kuschty Rye" compilation, and early attempt of “Anymore” recorded by THE FACES back in 1972 – an amazing rarity.


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