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The Gillan Tapes
Volume 3
Angel Air 2000
Another chapter of endless GILLAN saga from the John McCoy archives, this time priceless as there’s a limited edition containing the “For Gillan Fans Only” album that originally accompanied the “Glory Road” first pressing and now appears on CD for the first time. Its mad extravaganza is a huge attraction with gems like “Abbey Of Thelema” and “Your Mother Was Right” included, yet the main disc has something to be drawn to as well. Surely, not the alternative mixes of “Running White Face City Boy”, “Trouble” or “If You Believe Me”, that didn’t go far from the previously released versions. Not ZEPPELIN-esque “I’ll Rip Your Spine Out” or “Sunbeam”, as magnific as it is, but live performances. It’s them that show Ian’s voice as one of the instruments rather than leading force, because it could tremble in vain in “Born To Kill” without McCoy-Underwood rhythm machine and Gers’ and Towns’ compelling solos – the piano intro sets the scene for “M.A.D.” while organ runs alongside streamline guitar in perfectly timed “Unchain Your Brain” and “No Laughing In Heaven”, better than on “Double Trouble”.Once again, fooling about with tapes was inevitable, and though it gave birth to “The Festival Of Spirit” sonic idiotism – loops of crowd shouting, grrr! – fantastic result comes with “Ballad Of The Lucitania Express” sequence, which consists of demo segueing into released variant loaded with effects and flowing into concert bash. As of other demos, there are work-in-progress fragments of “Long Gone” and another instalment of haunting “Fiji”, more elaborate now than on “Tapes Volume 2”. Still, if “So Low” bass snippet is OK, what “La Donna Mobile” by SPLIT KNEE LOONS has to do with GILLAN is a question.


BAKERLOO – Bakerloo
Harvest 1969
Repertoire 1993
Sometines one has to hit the big time before we discover that he always was that great. That’s exactly the case with Clem Clempson, who shoot to fame with COLOSSEUM and HUMBLE PIE. In those outfits he appeared to be only developing what he had been doing in the late ’60s in BAKERLOO, powerful trio of a CREAM kind, though less ambitious without such a pedigree. Nevertheless, Clempson’s colleagues made illustrious careers too: bassist Terry Poole went to work with Graham Bond, and Keith Baker drummed on URIAH HEEP’s “Salisbury”, then the two reunited in underestimated MAY BLITZ. Funny, there’s a session trumpeter named Jerry Salisbury, adding his brass onto “Driving Bachwards”, magnificient jazzy version of “Bouree”. The popular tune, a sacred cow after blown through Ian Anderson’s reed, is different if not better here, picked on guitar and harpsichord. Equally different (yet closer to Willie Dixon’s original) than ZEPPELIN’s, comes “Bring It On Home” – Clem sings harmonica-adorned blues not as frenetically as Plant; BAKERLOO, incidentally, supported Page’s band on the night of ZEP’s Marquee debut in October 1968.The rest is Clempson/Poole originals bar one track credited to all three musicians brewing a boiling jazz/blues mix, which wraps around the ears from the opening “Big Bear Ffolly” and loosens its grip only when the 15-minute “Son Of Moonshine” grinds to a halt. Still, “Last Blues”, speeding up and slowing down, draws on progressive experimentation, not unlike that of TEN YEARS AFTER, where each instrument soloing compliments the others; swirling “Gang Bang”, drum solo included, could lend its title to the trio itself. Then, “This Worried Feeling” pure blues alone makes BAKERLOO rivals to FLEETWOOD MAC. Sadly, past this only album, it was all over for this combo. Test of time? The word “essential” says it all.


Think Hard… Again
Angel Air 1997
Known as Big Bad Bald Bearded Bass Basher, there’s much more to John McCoy than rough image, playing in bands as diverse as ATOMIC ROOSTER and CURVED AIR plus his own MAMMOTH project is eloquent enough. This compilation consists of “The Mini Album” from 1983 and 1985’s “Think Hard”, recorded in the wake of the GILLAN split, so it comes as no surprise that one of two “Night Lights” versions here is played by the McCoy-Towns-Torme-Underwood team and T-Bone Rees on vocals. Then McCOY came to life, and what a smoking band they were! “Hell To Play” is a grinding showcase for Paul Samson taking over the guitar duties and MAIDEN’s Ron Rebel given the drum stool. More so, McCOY held much blues in them, “Loving Lies” scoops from Peter Green’s well, and “Oh Well!”, always a test of ability, gets covered with master touch, though mellower than the main course, cutting, as “Heads Will Roll” rattle points out. It only shows how big was McCoy’s role in his previous ensemble, “Fear Of The Morning” sounds as if written for Gillan’s voice, “The Demon Rose” shares its riff with “Fiji” off “Magic”, while there’s a bitter irony in “Because You Lied” addressed to Ian.John’s bass doesn’t dominate but builds a solid foundation to shake nervously in “Jerusalem” and bear all the bouncy construction of “Ride The Night” or “Freemind”. That’s rock’n’roll, the source of it all, outlined beautifully in “Temporary Threshold Shift”, but what’s evident is the band’s new direction towards Eighties hard rock shouting: rousing “The Sound Of Thunder”, catchy and full of sparkling energy, could easily fit into TWISTED SISTER canon. Thus, isn’t it a mistake that McCOY didn’t turn out that huge?


All Things Must Pass
Apple 1970
Capitol re-issue 2001
Together, The Fabs were wise enough to release only one double album. Solo, none of them gave birth to such a thing, not being able to deliver anything as diverse. And there’s a triple one, reduced now to two CDs. The reasons are clear. For one, it was a burst of creativity restricted before, although, like Paul and John, George took some material not used by THE BEATLES. In Harrison’s case, those were “All Things Must Pass”, “Let It Down” and “Isn’t It A Pity”, all played during “Get Back” sessions with latter rejected by Lennon even three years earlier and in 1970 given a maginificient orchestral treatment, as only Phil Spector could do. Then, two friends, who George was becoming closer to at the time, Clapton and Dylan. It was in Bob’s Woodstock home that he and Beatle co-wrote “I’d Have You Anytime”; moreover, English guest was presented with “If Not For You” and learnt the beauty of acoustic strumming he asked BADFINGER to submit for this album. Clapton’s role was, perhaps, even bigger. Eric had placed George onto The Delaney And Bonnie tour, where Harrison not only found musicians – Carl Radle, Jim Gordon, Bobby Whitlock – he invited to play with him but also discovered the art of slide he’s been using ever since (“Free As A Bird” an impressive example). Clapton was at the sessions himself having a lot of fun from adding his guitar alongside George’s to songs and jammimg on what occupied the third disc and now got re-sequenced in original order. With Klaus Voormann and Ringo Starr beside him, what else did Harrison need to be happy?A hit, yes. There are many good tunes, yet – as usual with Quite One – whatever good they are, it’s hard to pick a single one. Enters the picture “This Song”, like he called it later. Stealth or not, “My Sweet Lord” is standing out in its universal appeal, simplicity and freshness, something that 2000’s sombre version doesn’t have. Where Sam Brown shines, George sounds tired, so it’s not a bonus track we’d love to hear. Off the vaults only four songs were pulled, among them brilliant out-take “I Live For You” that had all the rights to make it to the album. Demos of “Let It Roll” and “Beware Of Darkness” plus “What Is Life” backing track are stuff for “Anthology”, if there will be any. Here, they’re only teasing. So what’s the secret of “All Things” success then? Was it only down to the fact of everyone eager to hear the one behind the two? Not at all! It’s a magic of a jigsaw puzzle, not so beautiful in its elements but great in the wholeness created by sinceriest of music.


Junkies, Monkeys & Donkeys
Red Bus 1972
Repertoire 1990
In a way, it was predictable that a country as set on the Anglo rock culture as Israel would produce a few solid acts. There were few of those, and it’s a shame that JERICHO JONES didn’t make it big. Still, were they any different from many a band on the thriving British scene of the early ’70s? GUN, anyone? School friends THE CHURCHILLS went to London, changed their name to JERICHO JONES and at the time of the second – and last – album, to JERICHO, toured Europe yet weren’t destines for success, so they broke up to return to Israel and became famous there. That’s the story – and here’s the music, progressive heavy rock deeply rooted in the previous decade.Swaying from madrigal of “Triangulum” to “No School Today” with its three-guitars unison, this innocence beams from “Mare Tranqilitatas” until “Man In The Crowd” churns with “wha-wha” of CREAM-period Clapton (check the “Freedom” riff, eh?) with singing from gentle to cutting. A kind of acid romanticism, the drift may be haunting like spaced-out title track, although there’s hardly a catchy melody on offer. All drawn from blues, countrified in “There Is Always A Train” and drenched in orchestra for “Yellow And Blue” full of lulling harmonies. “Time Is Now” is an exception – sharp and beautiful, the best vocals performance of all and a chorus to be hooked on, three minutes aren’t enough. And sure, bonus track “Mama’s Gonna Take You Home” sounds like a cross between “Strange Kind Of Woman” and “Dead End Street”, while “Hey Man” and “So Come On” could have been sung by SLADE – all hits uncharted.

Origin thing, then? Well, fantastic “What Have We Got To Lose” owes more to the Fabs’ Rishikesh trip than to real Jericho. Charming “Champs” comes closer but “Mona Mona” could have broken those wall again. An opportunity missed.


The Gillan Tapes
Volume 2
Angel Air 1999
Not too many gems left uncovered after GILLAN catalogue re-issued, bassist John McCoy still raided his vaults for something to savour. Not much though. “Second Sight” proved itself a good opener when the great instrumental served as an concert pre-recorded intro. Released originally on "Mr. Universe" album, here, in shortened form, it’s more expressive. But no drastic changes to some of classic songs presented in alternative mixes (choppedBernie Torme‘s solo in “M.A.D.”, absent from original, isn’t something to boast) they appear only of mere interest, and mostly for Gillan, not even PURPLE, fans.At the same time, all the GILLAN members receive due royalties now, which was a complicate issue before. Still, greatest hits vibe aside, it doesn’t get simplier: work with multi-track tapes may lead to revealing an innate connection between “Time And Again” and “Post Fade Brain Damage”, while elsewhere re-shuffling turns out awfully and when “New Orleans” gets looped the killer rocker feel ruined. Not so funny, really.

Rather boring yet insightful come “Nervous” and “Fiji” (drum machine used!) shown in progress, if only they deserved to be exposed so… Fortunately, live version of “Hadely Bop Bop” sees the band in their element, on-stage and fighting, but it’s a single track too little, whereas senseless “New New Delhi” is one too many. What’s best about this collection, anyway, is that it reminds a listener of GILLAN as a group, not the singer’s toy, and of how powerful they were, thus prompting to give their legacy one more spin.


NMC Music 2001
Being one of the most respectable artists in the world and having served in CRIMSON, U.K., WISHBONE ASH and ASIA, to cut the CV short, it’s arguable whether John Wetton is an established perfomer in his own right. Only four solo albums under the belt, the last one, "Sinister", not featured here – yet a track called “Thirteen” (counter reads, “13”), four seconds of silence, somehow corresponds to it. But what’s good in the album context, not so on compilation, and that’s not even Wetton’s idea. So, the classics collection, unlike old “King’s Road”, this isn’t, with no band composition herein, while John has quite a lot of concert recordings to pick off them, say, “The Smile Has Left Your Eyes”, credited solely to him, or “Caught In The Crossfire” from his eponymous hard-to-find debut of 1980 – the track sounded much greater on live “Chasing The Dragon”. But, then, the albums songs are taken from contain much better ones, and orchestral “The Circle Of St. Giles” could have been left out in favour of 1998’s “ArkAngel” title track or “All Grown Up”. If the reason is a presence of Fripp and Hackett, why it wasn’t the issue with “Paper Talk”, where guitarist is TULL’s Martin Barre? More so to catchy “Round In Circles”, “Have You Seen Her Tonight” and “Suzanne” – the cream of 1987’s joint venture with Phil Manzanera, who John played together with in ROXY MUSIC.Anyway, alongside not as great “Jane” or “Space & Time” there is essential Wetton: dramatic “The Last Thing On My Mind” and “Battle Lines” present all his signatures – swelling bass, pristine warm voice and that innate poignancy, not to say vulnerability, clear in “Hold Me Now” and acoustic “Emma”. And not the least, THE BEACH BOYS-influenced harmonies of powerful “Crime Of Passion” and healing “After All”.

It’s been a glorious road – from innocence of “Cold Is The Night” and “I’ll Be There” to “Desperate Times” experience – to deserve a better almanac. OK, may John give us more soulfood.

***** – for quality of the material only

Natty Rebel
Orange Street 2001
Hours after years take us to the bottomless pit of this treasury. For many, THE WAILERS’ Jamaican recordings, committed to tape in 1967-1971, are of more appeal than hits cut for Island. An interesting point and true, especially with a notion there’s almost no reggae on lavishly-presented double CD-set, mostly rock steady – a slow-paced predecessor to the genre Marley would represent. Here are style-defining examples, “Nice Time” and, er, “Rocking Steady”, the latter an early attempt of “Easy Skankin'”, not socially charged then, and “Man To Man” similarly resurfaced later as “Who The Cap Fit”. Seems, it was Peter Tosh, not Marley, who pushed the band that way, taking the lead for “The World Is Changing”. Music-wise, you can easily call it the missing link between reggae as we know it and classic rhythm and blues of pop kind, THE ARCHIES’ “Sugar Sugar” and THE BOX TOPS’ “Give Me A Ticket” suggest to do so. Sure, roots reggae equally owes both to Trenchtown folklore and Smokie Robinson, whose intonations shine through “There She Goes” or “Love”, which isn’t far from “Sexual Healing” silky textures, while “Brand New Second Hand” and “Soul Captives” sha-la-la’s betray listening to “girls groups”.A shift from laid-back tempo to sharp upbeat rhythm is traced here very well with alternate backing tracks following the original, first mixes of many songs, “What Goes Around, Comes Around” being the most famous. Then, there’s lush “Soul Rebel” with riff yet to be worked over to “Get Up, Stand Up” real rebellion, “Stop The Train” was one of the first indications of and it’s reggae now, like “Cheer Up” still sprinkled with Diddley-beat. Instrumental side of the issue feels important, doing the justice to other WAILERS and I-THREES (Rita’s so prominent, duetting with Bob on “Hold On To This Feeling”), that appeared in the shadow of Marley the star – not his guilt, indeed. But, if not for this harsh decision to go frontal, will there be reggae’s hour of glory? One should dig it for himself, once let to the pit.


Symphonic Slam
Universal Music 1976
Musea re-issue 2001
The fact that Timo Laine didn’t make the big time holds no surprise: 1976 was a harsh time for a complicated progressive production even from the big names, save for young guy pioneering a new gizmo, guitar synth. Anyway, his playing caught not only the ears at A&M producers but Blackmore’s as well – one year later SLAM’s keyboardist David Stone joined RAINBOW, a sign of his ability, on display here in organ-awashed “Let It Grow” and jaunty instrumental “Days”. That’s what SLAM were about – a combination of sophisticated synthetic structures with support from John Lowery’s drums.Eclectic material – while “Times Run Short” artificial jazziness loses you completely, altogether spacious and anxious, music is a deep well to dig and delve into once “Universe” expands on “wah-wah” wave powdered by three-part vocal harmony and flows into less engaging “Everytime”. And if “Fold Back” feels spaced-out too, bouncing tempo and artsy, Hendrix-influenced guitar mark the tune a killer – then it’s just a woody instrument, so wait until “I Won’t Cry” to get a synth blues slammed across your face. For “Modane Train” both techniques unite to a great effect, close to hard rock of ATOMIC ROOSTER, but sparse drift is only beautiful when it comes to touching piano line of “Summer Rain”, preceding spectacular “How Do You Stand (Before The Lord)”, neither YES nor ELP wouldn’t be strange to. The piece encompasses SYMPHONIC SLAM in all its glory. Still, pride comes before a fall, and this glory was lost on time – a sin unforgivable. Repent now!


Small Axe
Orange Street 2001
Another bowlful of delights, the first, before you get to the music itself, being a picture of Marley with Jagger and 1978’s interview with Bob on his songs, on Rasta, on determination to write. This compilation is a quantum leap if compared to the “Natty Rebel” set, it’s a second volume to and boasts a similar impressive package, although songs could fit on one CD instead of two, which isn’t the case, really. The same cannot be said of all material that feels embellished with additional production not only for “Bend Down Low”, where THE WAILERS backing role comes given to UB40. Too shiny brass, especially saxes in “The Lord Will Make A Way” and “Dance To The Reggae” flute, don’t seem like belonging to this dub – as well as very exquisite guitars of “Stranger On The Shore”, “Touch Me” synth drums and “Put It On” basses, so contrastful to the vocals level. The difference is on display when it comes to overtly original sound in “Tread On” or improved “Nice Time”, brighter than the version on “Natty Rebel”.Yes, Marley was clearly the leader now and massively grew up as a writer, here we have alternate variants of quite well-known songs, like “Mellow Mood”, “You Think I Have No Feeling”, “I’m Hurting Inside” (re-hashed “Guava Jelly” in fact) and, above all, fantastic “Gonna Get You”. And there’s another, obscure side to Marley, namely his affinity for traditional music: while Bob makes “This Train” very vaudeville-shaped, even more amazingly sound his renditions of “Chances Are” pure blues and stripped-bare gospel “Selassie Is The Chapel”, which hypnotic rhythm would later be re-introduced for shorter “Redemption Song”. These are the most valuable pieces on the mantle shelf, the most authentic and cutting as the named small axe, sharpened to cut you down. It does.


Bang, Bang, You’re Terry Reid
EMI 1968
Repertoire 2000
The greatest rock’n’roll loser, Terry Reid had all the rights to turn down PURPLE and ZEPPELIN invitations because his career loomed larger. A warbler of Marriott kind – but Steve came to this position later, while Reid was there at the age of fifteen, singing, writing and playing guitar. Add to this his pretty face – and you have a star. That wasn’t to be due to management mistakes yet music still stands out.Reid’s was a deep well, and covers demonstrate his skills well, easy to mistake him for Plant in “Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart” and even Janis in Donovan’s “Season Of The Witch” turned into ten-minutes BIG BROTHER-like blues with a mesmerising organ solo and live guitar and vocal. Then, extravaganza made of “Summertime Blues” leaves other versions far behind.

It started in 1967 with the pop single (added here as a bonus), “The Hand Don’t Fit The Glove” backed with Terry-penned “This Time”, both awashed in brass, which just hinted on the singer’s potential, putting him in the Rod category – the soulful grit needed a rawer environment, that only Mickie Most could arrange. And Most did produce “Bang, Bang”, titled after Sonny Bono’s song, chosen to open the album. Sparse sound of Reid’s trio made the piece a rocking mess, drawing on desperation from soft spots to almost orchestrated sabre dance. Terry wrote most of the songs for his debut, balancing on the verge of blues and pop, like driving “Tinker Taylor” (hey, THE YARDBIRDS’ were of Most’s stable too) or “Writing On The Wall” psych – all so innocent, with epitomizing “When I Get Home”. Slow moments reveal Cooke and Redding influence, as in “Without Expression”, still pure soul confined Terry melodically and he’s more eloquent on “Erica”, preceding SLADE’s marching ballads, and African beat of “Sweater”, which flute reminds TULL’s “Living In The Past”. But past was a “Loving Time”, sings Terry magnificiently, and music like Reid’s worth going back.


ASIA – Enso Kai
Geffen Records 1983
NMC Music 2001
It’s an item strange in and out from many points. First is a subject matter itself: despite the success of “Asia” and “Alpha” albums, John Wetton left the band, and Greg Lake took over for a couple of months. With all the semblance of Lake’s voice to Wetton’s, the difference shines in the bass playing and attitude: John’s singing was warm even when in CRIMSO, while Greg developed an estranged approach, not suitable to ASIA’s progressive pop, and “Eye To Eye” in this version loses its tongue-in-cheek feel. Then, the sound, originating from “Asia In Asia” video, is flat mono, which irks a bit. And, last, song order looks strange too: “The Heat Goes On”, here’s an opener, usually closed the show, while now it’s “Sole Survivor”. Re-shuffle explains why mid-show, on “Open Your Eyes”, voice sounds tired. Seek the hints in Geoff Downes‘ interview, stored in the interactive section of the CD, as the booklet bears neither time and place, nor – the biggest pity – Roger Dean’s artwork.Anyway, the performance is all but classic, Steve Howe given more freedom than in studio, spills his magic everywhere and comes up with a spot of his own, which is “Sketches In The Sun”, he recorded later with GTR. Unfocused a bit and edited, seems Downes’ piece that loses to Palmer’s drumming and a solo ending “Wildest Dreams”, where audience joins in for chorus. Together with Carl, Lake’s bass works hard, songs like “Here Comes The Feeling” no simplier rhythmically compared to ELP’s material, although somehow precise vocal picking of “Only Time Will Tell” does the song little justice. Yet the piano and vocal duet on “The Smile Has Left Your Eyes” is beautiful.

There was the heat of the moment (song too) and, released, it goes on.


Out Of The Fire
Hux Records 1998
GIANT weren’t for everyone but for those appreciating a real verve, and these BBC concerts represent the band at their glorius zenith of 1973, when things looked bright, and at 1978’s decline, as that brilliant blend of progressive and medieval wasn’t in demand anymore – “For Nobody” sounds quite poignant in such circumstances, though gets a hot reception.First show is short, comprising only four pieces. “Way Of Life” shows how close to the YES extravaganza GIANT could come with interplay magnificient yet down-to-earth and sometimes rather chamber, like in “Funny Ways”, where Ray Shulman’s violin switches between sonic attack and soft, glockenspiel marked spots. These sound breathtaking on the second show’s version and “Nothing At All”, augmented with guitar chops seemingly borrowed from Martin Barre and John Weather’s drum battle. Vocal harmonies are only slightly drawn here in “Excerpts From Octopus” suite – how mighty Kerry Minnear’s Moog was! – to shine on at the 1978’s show. There are three gems from “Free Hand” in more glossy versions- “Just The Same”, “Free Hand” and, above all, “On Reflection” with its a capella section – amid rather slick tracks off the band’s latest thing, “Missing Piece”, beginning from “Two Weeks In Spain” ditty and stretching for two thirds of the album. Well-crafted “I’m Turning Around” is the most balanced of old and new tendencies in the GIANT music.

Less expressive appears “Playing The Game”, rocking too streamline and monotonous, after that “Memories Of Old Days” feels very tasty. On the whole, this concert makes “Missing Piece” look larger, “Betcha Thought We Couldn’t Do It” punky rock’n’roll has very appropriate title, showing this combo could be as raw as RAMONES. But the end was near – closing “Mountain Time” proves not optimistic. Now, however, it all looks different, saved out of the fire.


DONOVAN – Neutronica
NMC Music re-issue 2001
These are rare occasions that protest songs turn out great from the music point of view. And if Donovan ever was about overt protest at all, this album can be a revelation for those who used to think of Mr Leitch as of mellow-yellow singer. Not that he’s angry here, with light tunes like “Madrigalinda”, but different – and electric, suffice is to mention two of the “Neutronica” musicians: Ronnie Leahy of STONE THE CROWS fame on keyboards and fantastic Miller Anderson on guitar. The latter’s licks set the galloping pace of “Shipwreck”, post-disco driving dance with chorus drenched in female backing and punctuated bass, very prominent on alternative mix present. Previously released only in German, now the collection appears expanded and insightful thanks to various versions included. Thus, original “Only To Be Expected” might come impressive being tango-shaped, while stripped guitar-and-vocal take on it is expressive much more. Artist’s manner remained the same, so combination of his voice and Eighties arrangements strikes indeed. Who could imagine Donovan singing reggae? Flat “Me Me I Love You” and “Coming To You” sees him doing exactly that, though lush orchestration does any good to the song.Together with simple piano of “No Hunger”, it works – a small wonder, with “Imagine” a blueprint. They were friends, John and Don… Both loved vaudeville Leitch explores in innocent-sounding yet acrid “Neutron”. At the same time, Donovan couldn’t betray his folk roots, and there are wonderful “Heights Of Alma”, which Celtic colour amazes no less in live acoustic rendition, pure English “No Man’s Land” and rousing “We Are One” based on “Fare Thee Well” (traditional bit added here in a capella). How strange these must had been in 1980! “Split Wood Not Atom”, maybe, but “Harmony” hardly corresponded with the times. The answer lies in another piece – “Universal Soldier”: Donovan’s musical battle goes beyond the temporal boundaries.


NMC Music re-issue 2001
Not that former Animal ever disappeared, but after the WAR his profile was low, and, always longing to act, in 1981 Eric wishfully jumped the ride in the “Comeback” movie to play a character, which mirrored his own life. Material, recorded for the film both live and in studio, appeared subsequently in one form or other, and now there’s the first attempt to gather it all.High or low his profile might be, yet tamed Burdon wasn’t, and if smooth boogie of “The Road” or “Take It Easy” piano blues make Eric sound mellower, then only up to Jagger’s intonations on verses – to break into happy roar for choruses. He doesn’t wait to remind that he’s still a “Wicked Wicked Man”, and slide-paved shuffle, contrasting the voice, confirms this statement, even rawer in live “Sweet Blood Calls” and “No More Elmore”. Script arranged the songs somehow conceptual: “It Hurts Me To” comes preceded by a screen dialogue, and here’s the singer telling about breaking “Wall Of Silence”, to pull next the “Crawlin’ King Snake” skin, this time a swampy acoustic one. Eric’s where he belongs, growling about passion for “Devil’s Daughter” and re-visiting his holy site – yes, he comes up with “House Of A Rising Sun” – soulful sax-oiled version. And that’s not the only track off THE ANIMALS canon, Burdon sings a few more: “Boom Boom”, stately spiced “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” and cranked-up “I’m Crying”.

New sound applied to old standards, as “I’m Ready”, feels beautiful with blues nucleus, handled by Eric, intact, contrary to reggae of “Dey Won’t” and “Power Company” or disco version of “Streetwalker”, where Burdon funks out so funny, you can’t help laughing. And more so to speedy Little Richard-like “Lights Out”, after which “Kill My Body” is no serious at all. On-stage, veteran’s convincing, he’s heavy on “Do You Feel It”, goes up to hard rock of “Heart Attack” and introduces angry “Who Gives A Fuck” into blues, crossing over to THE STOOGES den. Rough “Don’t Bring Me Down” with easy-rolling “Comeback” prove more suitable – well, it’s exactly what it is!


Terry Reid
EMI 1969
Repertoire 2000
The sophomore album, again with Mickie Most at the helm, saw the singer still striving for the solo success after his first LP flopped and Reid had declined the offer to join DEEP PURPLE. Now, with Pete Solley on keyboards and sound more disciplined, as tight “Silver White Light” concisely demonstrates, Terry continued his raw soul drive, delving deeper into post-folk heroes Dylan and Donovan basements. This time he didn’t changed latter’s “Superlungs My Supergirl” as drastically as he did with “Season Of The Witch”, but, having retained the piece’s fragility, electrified it, adding bass solo and accumulating energy to be released later on. Not the same with “Highway 61 Revisited”, which incorporates here Reid’s own “Friends” (a hit for ARRIVAL in 1970), a lush glide amidst a bumpy Bob-paved ride. So it’s himself that Terry spared acoustic mode for – and let it loose solo in Jansch-influenced nervous “July”, a gem of rare brilliance, quite strange in all these charged surroundings.The artist significantly matured between two albums – one hardly could say Terry was capable of musing he shows on “May Fly” piano-driven unsophisticated blues. Still, he wasn’t as peaceful: while there’s only one song off pure soul context, “Stay With Me Baby” dug very deep in its sparse arrangement, singer opted for more angry sound in funky “Marking Time”, charting James Brown shaky ground on the grooving bass and organ splashes; live feel is up with Keith Webb’s drum solo. The most balanced from the blues/pop point of view, comes “Speak Now Or Forever Hold Your Place”, hiding baroque organ in the wings and extremely catchy – surely the well Noddy Holder drank from. Sadly, there wasn’t an optimistic line drawn to this album, that’s rounded off with “Rich Kid Blues”, ringing out and leaving more questions than answers. Well, Terry Reid’s still with us to give all the clues.


Devil’s Answer
Receiver Records 1989
Judging on the liner notes that say of side one, two etc, originally it was a double LP. Not much can be derived from these notes yet music itself tells a story of one of the best heavy prog bands. Definite collection it isn’t, leaving off the material from the records done with Chris Farlowe, so it spans only three first albums of 1970-1971 with an omission of a couple of tracks from each to cram the most in.ROOSTER were the masters of painting the darkness with a mighty organ, but Vincent Crane’s palette was much wider and included piano as well, that’s why such hits as “Death Walks Behind You” stood not far from PROCOL HARUM material, leaning towards murky jazz textures and leaving it to guitar player to build the riffs. And John DuCann fulfilled the task; in singer’s role, though, he wasn’t as impressive as Nick Graham in “So To Bed”. But there wasn’t a chemistry between Graham and Crane, and debut “Atomic Rooster” feels weaker than “Death Walks Behind You”. The debut, on the other hand, was much blusier, Graham’s baritone startingly resembling Farlowe’s, like “Broken Wings” shows.

Crane and Cann bounced ideas with a rare elegance, so, augmented with Paul Hammond’s drumming (that sadly doesn’t receive due respect in the shadow of Carl Palmer, who kicked the skins on the first album), the Cann-era band could come close to PURPLE interplay as of “Seven Streets” yet let it loose; the “V.U.G” aural blizzard hardly belongs to hard rock – maybe, it’s this experimentation that kept the band from the huge following. The same was with BLACK WIDOW that ROOSTER sound similar to in flute-ridden ballad “Winter”.

The third effort, “In Hearing Of…”, was the most jazzy, repleted with baroque piano, but this period lacked the edge that Cann, here just a guitarist, gave “Devil’s Answer” and “Tomorrow Night”, now classics and highlights of this collection. Their devil was worth worshipping.


NMC Music 1999
That’s what could be called a collector’s dream – the sides Rod had nailed down before he hit the big time. Now you can’t stop hunting high and low for singles and obscure compilations, all of them are here for your convenience, spread on 2 CDs. Rod started rocking under the guidance of Long John Baldry, having joined in 1964 the latter’s HOOCHIE COOCHIE MEN and it’s together with John that he had his first recording done, the streamline B-side “Up Above My Head”, which shows signs of things to come when towards the end singers break into “Swing Low Sweet Chariot”. Stewart was more than anyone turned onto soulful side of R&B, doing a faithful rendition of Sam Cooke’s “Shake” in 1966, yet defined his leanings not before he tried pure blues such as Sonny Boy’s “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” (John Paul Jones a bass slinger), much more impressive with his acoustic arrangement and jiving piano than rather similar YARDBIRDS’ version. A pity that this jazzy vibe got lost because it was so wonderful in a bunch of demos the artist made in 1964, “Bright Lights Big City” among them, which Rod sung with Baldry live as early as that year’s February – a great document of the era. John was all up for jazz and no surprise his new outfit STEAMPACKET included, along with The Mod, future TRINITY members Brian Auger and Julie Driscoll, angelic voice and organ a fine environment for Baldry’s and Stewart’s gravel voices in classics of “Can I Get A Witness” sort, plus Micky Waller, who later played with Stewart in JEFF BECK GROUP.Beck’s stuff, accessible easily, here isn’t while some forgotten combos’ material is, giving a chance to savour rarities like “I Could Feel The Whole World Turn Round Underneath Me” from short-lived SHOTGUN EXPRESS, which ranks featured Peter Green (enjoy the picture of Rod and Peter together in the accompanying booklet crammed with text and photos, some of them are on CD3), his namesake Bardens, later of CAMEL fame, and Mick Fleetwood. And stars are more there: Mick Jagger produced one 1967’s session and wasn’t satisfied with Stewart not hitting the high notes of “Little Missunderstood” – Rod’s performance was really quite rough on this one, contrary to his usual standards, and demo lacked the edge of the final product – compare both recording. The only other surviving track is “Come Home Baby” that Rod recorded in company of PP Arnold, Keef Richard, Keith Emerson, Waller and Nicky Hopkins, another Beck’s band guy. Aynsley Dunbar, incidentally, made this compilation too, due to Rod providing his voice for RETALIATION’s “Stone Crazy”.

Surprisingly, no matter how diverse these recordings are, all of them somehow cohere and follow Stewart’s progress from skinny mod to tubby millionnaire, from shy boy to strutting bottom-shaker. On the other hand, stylistically this collection fits in R&B format altogether, with just a few exceptions, like piquant ballad “In A Broken Dream” that Rod recorded for Python Lee Jackson’s album, or Zappa-produced weird “Shock Treatment” from THE GTO’s. In 1969 Steart laid down “Diamond Joe” and “Engine 444” with Art and Ron Wood, Kenny Jones and Ian McLagan under the QUIET MELON monicker and that lead to him joining THE FACES, his last step to stardom.


The Complete Authorized Recordings
GearFab Records 1997
The subtitle reads: “The story of a New York band in the Sixties” – and it says all. This wonderful collection follows the band’s progress from beat-obsessed schoolboy band to psycho freaks. Earliest demos, “Mustang Sally” and “On The Edge”, might sound dated even then, in the year of “Pet Sounds”, yet they’re confident and promising – especially the latter, drenched in Spector-esque smoothness, although the guitar line betrays intense listening to “House Of A Rising Sun”, that raw R&B edge fills “Hummin'”, innocent in a BEACH BOYS way. A little later organ came into picture and in a couple of years SHIP made it big on the radio with elegant pop of “Night Time Music”.What came next was – as the band puts it in the interview tagged to the end of CD – “BEE GEES disease”. Indeed, SHIP did (with not much fancy) their own version of “To Love Somebody” – but Gibb brothers’ influence proved much deeper than it may seem. From this point, it’s interesting to observe the band’s career as a parallel to that of GENESIS, who fell victims of the same disease. New “On The Edge” variant, dramatically adorned with brass and mad guitar, wouldn’t be strange on Brits’ debut, as well as “We Gotta Move On”, inspired by bassist’s parents’ death. But while Gabriel leaned towards art rock, New Yorkers chose the TOMORROW psycho-pop, as “And When It’s Over” with its phased guitar suggests. Sometimes it’s funny: “Life’s Lonely Road”, though catchy, is a take on “Born To Be Wild”. They really could look like a garage band, like in punky “Free”, yet never got read of passion for mellow melody that shows in CSN&Y’s medley (didn’t YES play Stills’ song too?).

Thirty years on, the band decided to pick up where they were at before the fire ceased their way up, and came up with “Blow Me Away”, which makes their long silence a crime: melodic touch is still there. More!


Blind Faith
Polydor re-issue 2001
This one’s a long-overdue re-issue. For years we could only hope the supergroup’s only album would be properly transferred onto digital medium. It doesn’t make sense, to say or rave one more time about the “Blind Faith” virtues, everything’s told before. The songs needed no remixing or any other changes, just remastering to enjoy the magical sound fully. Check this intense guitar leap at the end of “Had To Cry Today” to see that the people behind this edition didn’t succumbed to temptation of altering a picture. Now, one can only surmise how BLIND FAITH managed to create such an aural delight which doesn’t feel dated thirty years later.A combination of four band members talent proved mighty. Clapton then was reaching his peak and showed there was more in him than just pure blues. The same goes for Winwood, without a stint in FAITH he would hardly come up with anything as gentle as “The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys”, although jazzy TRAFFIC feature found its way to Buddy Holly’s “Well All Right” transformed into driving jive, punctuated by imaginative drumming from Ginger Baker. But while Rick Grech’s master playing is out of question, his part in the band’s idiom seems very arguable, especially given the fact that he was invited to join only half-way through the recording sessions – hence the bassist’s absence from “Well All Right” and four long jams collected on the second CD (spot a couple of familiar licks in “Change Of Address”), although an acoustic one on the first disc comes pumped by him.

The inclusion of these improvisations gave someone the right to call it a “deluxe edition” yet there’s only a few special moments on them. After insightful “Layla Sessions” box it’s odd to have those additions. More interesting is the remainder of CD1 with the album is followed by several outtakes and alternate versions. With bootlegs circulating of the quartet’s Hyde Park concert and some other curious things nailed down during the sessions – “Hey Joe” being one of them, as competent liner notes suggest – it’s difficult to explain the material’s choice.

A couple of tracks that didn’t make onto the album were previously released on Eric’s and Steve’s retrospectives but here, put in the album’s context, they’re more expressive. Two versions, faster and slower, of Sam Myers’ “Sleeping In The Ground” don’t say much about BLIND FAITH’s development while electric “Can’t Find My Way Home” variant is very eloquent, showing how that vibrant sound progressed. A pity, the four didn’t finished “Time Winds” over fifty takes yet the one presented here, looks impressive. So, as an artefact documenting the great band’s working method, this edition is essential though incomplete.

***** – for CD1

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