Larry Coryell – Coryell (1969) – Special Blog 10th Anniversary Post!

Larry Coryell – Coryell
1969 Vanguard Apostolic VSD 6547 | Vinyl rip in 24 bit 196 khz | Art at 600 and 300 dpi
Jazz-Rock / Jazz-Funk / Soul / Fusion / Psychedelic

I’ve been holding back on posting about this album until I could commemorate the 10th ANNIVERSARY of this blog.  It’s a very special record to me from the great guitarist Larry Coryell, who passed away in 2017.  It’s unique in that it captures him in a kind of transition between his time playing in the psychedelic rock group The Free Spirits and his future as an icon of jazz fusion, in the pre-Bitches Brew era when that genre was still fresh and nascent.  And it’s soul-shaking, mind-melting grooviness from start to finish.  I like to imagine that Hendrix heard this album and  decided to shelve the Experience on the spot and start up his Band of Gypsies.  Bernard “Pretty” Purdie on the drums and Chuck Rainey on bass are holding down a solid soul groove  here, which just elevates the vibe to transcendent levels. Continue reading

Wolfmoon – Wolfmoon (1973) (featuring Swamp Dogg)

 

Wolfmoon
Wolfmoon
1973 Fungus FB 25149

01 Cloak Of Many Colors
02 If He Walked Today
03 My Kinda People
04 If I Had A Hammer
05 People Get Ready
06 Proud Mary
07   God Bless
08 What Is Heaven For
09 Treasures That I Found
10 The Artist

Artwork By – George Reeder Jr
Coordinator – Yvonne Williams

Deadwax matrix runout info:
SIDE A: F-25149-A-RE-1-11-1
SIDE B: F-25149-B-1-11-1 p@ D PR T-2Producer – Jerry Williams Jr.

Lineage:
Fungus 25149 LP; Pro-Ject RM-5SE with Audio Tecnica AT440-MLa cartridge; Speedbox power supply; Creek Audio OBH-15; Audioquest King Cobra cables; M-Audio Audiophile 192 Soundcard; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 192khz; clicks and pops removed with Click Repair on light settings, manually auditioning the output; Stereo->Mono fold down in Click Repair; further clicks removed with Adobe Audition 3.0; dithered and resampled using iZotope RX Advanced. Converted to FLAC in either Trader’s Little Helper or dBPoweramp. Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag and Rename.


A look at this cosmic album cover art leads you to speculate excitedly about the contents. Who is Wolfmoon? Is he some kind of psychedelic superhero who goes bowling with planets amidst the stars? What does his music sound like? You put the record on your turntable, half expecting squalls of Echoplex feedback guitar to fill the room and fulfill your urge for uncovering some lost psychedelic funk treasure, but what meets your ears is… slightly off-kilter southern soul. I think I use the phrase “slightly off-kilter” a lot whenever I try to describe the work of Swamp Dogg to the unfamiliar. Swamp Dogg, the musical persona of one Jerry Williams, Jr, produced this album, wrote all the songs that aren’t cover tunes, and possibly played half the instruments. And his approach, his musical gestalt if you will, has always struck me as what it would sound like if an arranger for Muscle Shoals Studio ate a quarter ounce of psilocybin mushrooms at 8 a.m. right after getting to work, and continued on as if it were just a normal day at the office. The song structures are more or less traditional, the elements all familiar to the universe of southern soul music of the 60’s and early 70’s, but there is always just enough strangeness – odd lyrics and titles, occasional embellishments of inter-dimensional lysergic audio production creeping through an arrangement like kudzu overtaking a barbecue stand – to alert the listener that something is a little bit “off.”

Williams/Dogg’s production work for other artists usually plays it a little more straight than on his own records, and Wolfmoon is no exception. So I’ll confess to some mild disappointment when I discovered that the sounds emanating from the grooves did not sound like a collection of early Funkadelic outtakes thrown into a blender with some of Otis Redding’s ashes and some paint chips from the discarded scepter of King Floyd. This is high quality soul music, but with the exception of the expansive take on “People Get Ready”, there are no ‘freakouts’ here. Since I have no idea what Wolfmoon actually looks like beyond the comic-book style cover art, I found it helps to visualize an animated film with him “in character” singing all these songs.

Almost half the songs are infused with an idiosyncratic gospel-soul religiosity, and a look at the song titles will probably help you guess which ones.  “If He Walked Today” speculates on the second coming of Christ in a way that uncomfortably reminds me of a truly awful assignment I turned in for a drama-writing class when I was a teenager in which I attempted to cast Jesus as a hippie in Greenwich Village or the Haight (can’t remember which) in 1970.  I mean that was pretty much the whole “plot,” I don’t think there was much else to it.  Wolfmoon’s track is better than my dramatic script, which for some reason I still haven’t burned in a bonfire but refuse to actually reread.  Another track, “God Bless,” is a cute observation of little kids offering nightly prayers to Deputy Dog, Elmer Fudd, and Tweety Bird.  Talking about the “off kilter”, funky gospel-soul tunes among the original compositions is a good segue-way to the cover songs.  While “If I Had A Hammer” wins my praise for being the funkiest version of that song you’re likely to come across, it’s the eight minutes of Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready” that is truly the centerpiece of this whole album.  I mean, all the other songs clock in at under 3 minutes, meaning that “People Get Ready” here is nearly 4x as long as any other track, so I have to believe we are meant to regard this as THE highlighted show-stopper.  With a long intro and outro vamp on one chord sandwiching Mayfield’s spiritual civil-rights anthem in the middle, it largely works.  But it is one of those things that is probably more impressive the first couple of times you hear it.  It’s a restrained kind of psychedelic freakout leading into the main tune, and I mostly applaud Swamp Dogg’s decision to remain understated rather than taking the easy approach to such an idea and just adding squalls of feedback and tape delay.  But then other times I wish there were in fact a swelling tsunami of feedback and tape delay, leading up to a crescendo that cuts off suddenly, yielding to the stately D-major / B-minor / G major progression of this immortal, uplifting tune.  Instead, the opening vamp just kind of chugs along for a few minutes and then just kind of collapses on itself.  They give the song a worthy treatment, and I’m 99% sure that it’s Jerry Williams himself doing the spoken rap of the lyrics in the middle of the track rather than Wolfmoon.  If I were grading it, I’d give it an A but not an A+.   An A+ for this kind of idea would be reserved, for example, for Baby Huey’s take on Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come,” which is a truly staggering  achievement of raw psychedelic soul.  Given that Baby Huey’s one and only album was produced by Mayfield, and how that track kind of stands out as a centerpiece there, I can’t help but wonder if Swamp Dogg / Jerry Williams Jr. was actually inspired to arrange “People Get Ready” this way by hearing that album, that it planted the idea of “I want to do something kind of like that!”  If so, good for him – but he doesn’t really get close to that kind of brilliance.  But really, saying that any soul/funk artist falls short of Curtis Mayfield is less of a criticism than a compliment, like saying any pop/rock artist is not quite as brilliant as Lennon/McCartney.  I’m excited to see Swamp Dogg getting more recognition in the last few years, manifesting in unexpected ways – for example, The Isley Brothers and Carlos Santana just covered his song “Total Destruction To Your Mind” on their recent collaboration, and Santana has incorporated into his live set!

As I was putting the finishing touches on my vinyl transfer of my Fungus Records original copy, I discovered that this had actually been reissued a few years ago in a very limited edition.  It was done by ‘Alive Records’ on a series of Swamp Dogg-related reissues, which I know he was personally involved with and fully endorsed.  In fact he wrote personalized liner notes for this and other releases in the series, and I’d love to see them someday – perhaps they would help shed some light on the enigma of Wolfmoon.  If you like this stuff, go and get yourself one and pick up the other Alive Records reissues while you’re at it — I have only one at the moment but it sounds pretty great.  The original Fungus Records version of this was distributed by BASF Records, the famous tape company who briefly had their own label in the 70’s. And in spite of having hardly a scratch on it, my copy is a bit noisy, which indicates cost-cutting somewhere in the laquer-cutting or manufacturing process (although it maybe have been cut at a Preswell plant, based on the matrix info).  So rather than breaking the bank to get an O.G. copy, I’d encourage folks to check out the reissue.  Plus, maybe you send me a pic of those liner notes, I’d like to read ’em.


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Charles Wright – Rhythm and Poetry (1972)

Charles Wright – Rhythm and Poetry
1972 Warner Brothers – BS 2620
Vinyl rip in  24-bit 96 khz |FLAC |Artwork at 300 dpi

A1 Soul Train 5:03
A2 Run Jody Run 13:10
B1 Good Things 5:55
B2 Here Comes The Sun 5:05
B3 Girl, Don’t Let Me Down 4:20
B4 Just Free Your Mind 4:00

Produced by Charles Wright
Engineers: Ami Hadani (Soul Train, Good Things); Ami Hadani and Robert Appere (Here Comes The Sun, Girl Don’t Let Me Down); Lewis Peters (Just Free Your Mind); Lewis Peters and Ami Hadani (Run Jody Run).

Album edited by Nye Morton

Album cover design by Paul Bruhwiler, Inc.
Art direction by Ed Thrasher
The cover painting, “Winged Victory,” was created by scientist-artist Delbert Venerable II

 

Charles Wright – Vocals, drums on A1, A3, guitar, piano, organ
Robert “Sugarbear” Welch – guitar
Thomas Terry – Bass
Johnny “Guitar” Watson – piano on A1,
Garbriel Flemings – Trambourine on A1, piano on B3
Bobby Lexing – Tambourine on A1, maracas on B3
Bobby Sheen – Maracas on A1
Billy Richards – Maracas on A1
Harold “Peenie” Potier – drums on A2
Joe Banks – trumpet, cabasa
Gabriel Flemings – trumpet, drums on B2
James D. Meredith – trombone, horn arrangment on B3
Bobby Forte – saxophone
Yusuf Rahman – tambourines, horn arrangment on B2 and B3, clavinet on B3
Yusuf Moore – clavinet on B2
John “Streamline” Ewing and Richard Leith – trombones on B2, B3
Jackie Kelso – saxophone on B2
Freddie Hill, Melvin Moore, and Sal Marques – trombones on B3
Vanetta Fields – piano on B4
Maurice Miller – drums on B4
Clydie King, Venetta Fields, and Julia Tillman – backing vocals on B4

All rhythm arrangements by Charles Wright

Recorded at T.T.G. Recording Studio, Clover Recording Studio, and Paramount Recording Studio, Hollywood, CA


What do you do when your ensemble (The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band) loses one of the best drummers in the business, James Gadson? Well, you try and play the damn things yourself I guess. The result, on Charles Wright’s Rhythm And Poetry, is a bit like the first Funkadelic album with a concussion. It’s a fun ride but it’s loose.  Very loose.  If brain-damaged, synaptically-fried funk is your thing, you’ll love this record.  The first track, “Soul Train,” is actually jarring in the sloppiness of the drums, and before looking at the credits on the album jacket I just assumed the drummer was too inebriated to keep time.  Then when I saw it was Charles himself playing, I got a chuckle out of his emotive grunts while he did a drum fill worthy of your 12-year old cousin who just got his first trap kit for Christmas.  Thankfully drums on the second track are handled by the  more competent Harold Potier, but things remain strange when after a minute or two of sharp grooving, Charles bursts into a chorus of “Happy Birthday” for no apparent reason.  The next thirteen minutes are a wickedly dirty jam with only a smattering of lyrics about the folkloric “Jody”, the guy always running around with other men’s ladies, and some great low-key fuzzed-out guitar solos from “Sugarbear” Welch.  He uses one of my favorite guitar tones here – the sound of a stomp box pedal with a dying 9-volt battery in it!  You know Hendrix used to save those things up just to have a supply of almost-dead batteries for his favorite pedals, or so I’ve been told.  Charles is back on drums on “Good Thing,” but he redeems himself on this mid-tempo funk number.  Of course there is also a curtain of incidental percussion to mask any mistakes.  The “set a mood and see what happens” aesthetic of this “Rhythm” A-side of the album is typified in one instant on this song, at the very beginning: somebody barks at Bobby Lexing to ‘lay out’ on the maracas, and Charles, in a slow stoned drawl, retorts with “Let him shaken ’em the way he want to shake ’em…”  Brilliant.

Things do get a little more coherent on the second “Poetry” side of the LP, with more structured pieces, actual songs.  “Here Comes The Sun” is wonderful but then again George is my favorite Beatle.  Purists might chafe at Charles’ raspy vocal, but the exquisite horn arrangement is downright regal.  The closer,  “Just Free Your Mind,”  dedicated to the backup singers, is light and uplifting.  In fact the entire “Poetry” side is light and uplifting, which seems almost necessary after the relentlessly raw grooves on the “Rhythm” side.  As one of my online pals  put it when I introduced them to this record – this one is a slow-burner that just keeps on burning all the way to the end.  And I appreciate the rough edges a lot here, because in 1972 that roughness was about to slowly become an endangered quality, as funk bands tended to get tighter and tighter, outdoing each other with their instrumental chops and show-stopping arrangements.  This record is really music for the sake of it, and we’re just lucky enough to be a fly on the wall.


320 kbs

16-bit and 24-bit FLAC

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Magnets? How do they work?

 

 

David Axelrod – Earth Rot (1970)

David Axelrod
EARTH ROT
1970 Capitol Records SKAO-456
Genres: Jazz, Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Eschatological Funk

“A musical comment on the state of the environment.   Contemporary music with ancient yet timely words set to the theme of ecology.”

Lyrics adapted by Michael T. Axelrod from The Book Of Isaiah, The Old Testament and adapted from Song Of The Earth Spirit, A Navajo origin legend.”

    The Warnings
A1     Part I     2:48
A2     Part II     4:28
A3     Part III     5:04
A4     Part IV     3:08
    The Signs
B1     Part I     3:44
B2     Part II     3:43
B3     Part III 5:41

 Composed By – David A. Axelrod

Bass – Robert West (Except B3)
Chorus – Clark Eran Gassman, Diana Lee, Gerri Engemann, Jacqueline Mae Ellen, Janice Gassman, Jerry Whitman, Jon Joyce, Lewis E. Moreford, Tom Bahler
Drums – Earl Palmer
Guitar – Dennis Budimir, Louis Morell
Piano – Don Randi
Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone, Flute – Jack Kelso, William E. Green
Tenor Saxophone, Flute – Ernie Watt
Trombone – Richard Hyde, Richard Leith
Trumpet – Allen De Rienzo, Frederick Hill
Vibraphone – Gary Coleman
Track B3 only:  bass – Arthur Wright, vibraphone – Sonny Anderson

Produced by David Axelrod
Lyrics adapted by Michael T. Axelrod
Recording engineers – Gene Hicks, Rex Updegraft
Cover painting – Renate Drutts

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Vinyl ripping info: First pressing Capitol vinyl; Pro-Ject RM-5SE with Audio Tecnica AT440-MLa cartridge; Speedbox power supply); Creek Audio OBH-15; AUdioquest King Cobra cables; M-Audio Audiophile 192 Soundcard ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 192khz; clicks and pops removed with Click Repair on light settings, manually auditioning the output; further clicks removed with Adobe Audition 3.0; dithered and resampled using iZotope RX Advanced. Converted to FLAC in either Trader’s Little Helper or dBPoweramp.  Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag and Rename.

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Barrabas – Barrabas (1972)

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Barrabas
“Barrabas”
RCA Victor APL1-0219 (US release)

Mono mix (stereo labels)
Genre: Rock, Latin, Funk / Soul

A1  Wild Safari  4:57
A2  Try And Try  6:21
A3  Only For Men  3:34
A4  Never In This World  3:31
B1  Woman  5:07
B2  Cheer Up  3:51
B3  Rock And Roll Everybody  3:34
B4  Chicco  3:48

Record Company – RCA Corporation
Recorded At – Estudios RCA, Madrid
Pressed By – RCA Records Pressing Plant, Indianapolis

Acoustic Guitar, Bass, Vocals – Miguel
Drums, Vocals – Fernando
Engineer – J. Cobos*, M. Barrios, N. Dogan
Lead Guitar, Vocals – Ricky*
Lead Vocals, Bass Guitar – Iñaki
Liner Notes – Tom Paisley
Organ, Piano – Juan
Producer – Fernando Arbex
Saxophone, Percussion, Flute, Drums – Ernesto

Notes – Dynaflex pressing

Recorded at the RCA Studios, Spain

Vinyl; Pro-Ject RM-5SE with Audio Tecnica AT440-MLa cartridge; Speedbox power supply; Creek Audio OBH-15; M-Audio Audiophile 192 Soundcard ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 96khz; clicks and pops removed with Click Repair, manually auditioned, and individually with Adobe Audition 3.0; resampled using iZotope RX 2 Advanced SRC and dithered with MBIT+ for 16-bit. Converted to FLAC in either Trader’s Little Helper or dBPoweramp. Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag and Rename.

Not their best, leaning more towards the rock and less of the funky discotheque stuff they would eventually be known for. Back cover compares the lead singer to Rod “The Mod” Stewart. I’m not so sure about that claim. Actually they kind of remind me of early Traffic here, but with even dopier lyrics. “Only For Men” could have been a TV advertisement for the 1972 equivalent of AXE Body Spray, but the more you listen to it, the more it sounds like a creepy “Men’s Rights Advocate” anthem.  The two big smash cuts here were the first tracks on either side, “Wild Safari” and “Woman.  I was assured by a friend about the former, “Wild Safari was THE track blasting out everywhere in Can Piacafort, Majorca during my holiday there in the summer of 1972.” The record definitely has its appeal, and it may grow groovier as you listen to it more.  It’s easy to see how the locked-in rhythm section was already in place very early and how that made this group a fave of beat farmers everywhere.  It’s a stoney party record with Spaniards singing in awkward English, so what’s not to like?  I may not think it’s their best album, but you’re welcome to disagree.  It’s definitely a more consistent listen than their second album, Power, which finds them meandering into different styles, including an attempt to be some sort of Spanish T-Rex, this debut is just not as good as later efforts like ¡Soltad a Barrabás! and Heart of the City.  In any case I plan to post some of their other records soon, by which I mean at some point before I die.

Don’t be put off by the taped-together, busted jacket of this copy – this was a radio station duplicate copy that was probably never played before I got hold of it, although the Dynaflex vinyl is inconsistent as it is wont to be.  Also note that the label says stereo but the mix is very much in mono.  I’m not sure if this is a mistake at the pressing plant or a genuine AM Radio mix of the whole album?  There is definitely a stereo mix of Wild Safari, but I’m not sure about the rest.  Maybe some helpful reader can chime in.  Oh yes, and this record was released with at least two alternate covers.  The French one (which also boasted a different title, Afro-Soul) is particularly groovy, I think.  Oh yeah, and today’s my birthday, woo hoo and three cheers for me.

Spanish cover

Spanish cover

French cover variant

French cover variant


A word:  times are tough all over, and I’m reinventing myself for the third or fourth time in life to adjust to our New Reality.  I am trying to save some money so that I can relocate to a place where there are actual jobs for people with my kinds of skills.  I’m stuck in a rut, y’all, and it’s been hell getting out. If you enjoy reading these posts and hearing the music, consider making a donation using one of the buttons on the sidebar of the blog.  Any amounts given help me pay server costs and continue to have make posts about good (or good-ish) music.  Any amounts are welcome.  Thanks!


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Prince and the Revolution – America b/w Girl (1985) (12″ extended single)

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PRINCE and the REVOLUTION – AMERICA / GIRL (12″ extended single)

Side One:  America (21:46)

Side Two: Girl (7:36)

ARC (Allied Recording Company) pressing
Matrix / Runout: 0-20389-A SHI [ARC logo] B-21968 -SHI SLM △ 10-764 1-1X
Matrix / Runout: 0-20389-A SHI [ARC logo] B-21968 -SHI SLM △ 10-764 1-1

Vinyl; Pro-Ject RM-5SE with Audio Tecnica AT440-MLa cartridge; Speedbox power supply; Creek Audio OBH-15; M-Audio Audiophile 192 Soundcard ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 96khz; ClickRepair on “Girl” only, set to “1”; clicks and pops removed individually with Adobe Audition 3.0; resampled using iZotope RX 2 Advanced SRC and dithered with MBIT+ for 16-bit. Converted to FLAC in dBPoweramp.  Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag and Rename.

It’s almost Independence Day in the USA.  So, a twenty-one minute jam on the funkiest single from the Around the World In A Day, because why not.  Playing until the tape reel ran out, there are some fun solos from Prince and Dr. Fink, but the group had yet to incorporate the horn parts that would become part of the instrumental workout on the road, and so this is probably less interesting than it could have been.   As the tempo never varies, I’ve found this makes a good track for when you need something epic to power a good run or workout of your own (and those versions of “A Love Supreme” or “Echoes” you have your iPhone usually result in you standing still and staring off into space).   You can hear the live treatment that this song got, which was about half as long as this, on any number of high-quality bootlegs.  They mostly seem to follow the pattern in this video clip, minus the somewhat sloppy drum solo played by P.

 

03 - Label A_2Being a godless commie my own self, I always wanted to think of this song as an ironic comment on patriotism.  Given what we now know about his truly deep religious convictions (which he insisted were sincere from the beginning), I’m not entirely sure any more.  It seems possible he may in fact be implying that Jimmy failing to pledge allegiance to the flag has some causal relationship to him now living on a mushroom cloud.  Little sister, making minimum wage and living in a one-room jungle-monkey cage, may still be better off than those Reds, who most definitely didn’t have anything this fun to dance to.  Taking it all at face value, this has to be the funkiest Cold Warrior anthem you’re likely to hear, at least until James Brown released “Living In America” in December of 1985 and sang the pugilistic praises of all-night diners and black coffee.  Prince obviously drew a lot of inspiration from James, especially on this song (and especially specially on the live rendition).  Was everyone just feeling particularly red, white, and blue in 85, or was there some sinister CIA program to accelerate Perestroika by covering the globe with feverish funk celebrating capitalist freedoms?  There’s a history dissertation idea in there for some of you grad students out there, you can thank me later in your acknowledgements.

04 - Label B_2“Girl” is not my favorite B-side from Prince, but it’s certainly not terrible either, and the extended version makes the track more, um, charming.  Dig, if you will, the picture of Kraftwerk abducting Barry White, forcing him to breath through a helium tank, and ordering him to compose and perform an erotic proclamation of lust for their new record (“Please Barry, show us how you humans make with the sexy music”), and you’ll have some idea of “Girl.”  Well, except that the mechanical rhythm that chugs along underneath the track is generated by a couple low notes on a Hammond organ rather than a synth.  The spoken parts of the extended tune, which simulate one half of an intimate conversation of some kind, are Prince at his most blush-inducing.   It features the line, “”All I have to do is think about you, and I can have an orgasm.  Sounds funny, doesn’t it?  Marry me.” Just like the track Temptation from this same album, it’s stuff that’s so over the top that only he could pull it off without appearing completely silly.  Okay so maybe a little silly, but we know the man could laugh at himself, because he apparently approved of Dave Chappelle’s depiction of him dry-humping a basketball.

The extended mix also features collaborator and love-interest Susan Melvoin reciting the lyrics backwards with “boy” switched out for “girl.”  It is only just barely audible with all the other stuff going on in the mix, and so for fun I’ve isolated it for all those people who have trouble playing digital audio backwards.  This is just the right channel (where her voice is) and with EQ applied to accentuate just the voice.

 

So whether you are enjoying beers and barbecue in the Land of the Free or just enjoying yourself in one of the lesser countries of the world, here’s a little extended paisley magic for your collection.

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