Slapp Happy – Acnalbasac Noom 2020 Our Swimmer – WELLE102 for Record Store Day
Original release 1980
Recorded with members of Faust at that band’s Wümme studio in 1973, this album was originally scrapped and then rerecorded (without Faust) and released as Casablanca Moon. This version finally surfaced in 1980, with the original title spelled backward. I’ve seen it described as “more raw” than the rerecorded album, but don’t be fooled — these aren’t demos, this is a finished album, recorded and mixed immaculately. I love it to pieces, and although gets both the “prog” and “psychedelia” tags, there is a strong vibe of jangly folk-rock here too. In fact it is so tuneful and melodic that it is hard to believe this is the same band that would merge with Henry Cow a few years later. From Dagmar Krause’s double-tracked vocals to Peter Blegvad’s impeccably-crafted guitar work, this record is a pleasure from start to finish. Continue reading
To me, Ronnie Lane was the heart & soul of the Small Faces & Faces. And if you ever found yourself drawn to the evocative, pastoral-esque ballads on the Faces records, then you owe it to yourself to give this debut from Ronnie Lane & Slim Chance a listen. The other day, after watching a film, I left Netflix on autoplay and it picked an awful-looking romantic comedy staring Jimmy O. Yang which I proceeded to tune out while washing dishes or something, until I heard a song off this album. I think it was a cover version and not actually Ronnie Lane. I could find by skipping to the credits but life is short, you know. Continue reading
Grateful Dead – The Warfield, San Francisco, CA 10/9/80 & 10/10/80
Vinyl rip in 24-bit/192 kHz | Art scans at 300 dpi
Grateful Dead Productions / Rhino Records – R1-585396
This is a gorgeous collection of acoustic music from The Grateful Dead. The Dead were doing “unplugged” sets before anybody called them that, but in grand total of their hundreds of recorded shows, live acoustic music from the whole band was relatively rare apart from side projects. The shows captured here, along with others at Radio City in New York, would be drawn on to produce the all-wooden live album Reckoning. This is them at their most intimate, minimal, and parsimonious; well, as much as any group which brings a harpsichord on stage for just one song can ever be called minimal. Dead shows were famous for a wild crowd and scene that would eventually come to overshadow the actual music, but you could hear a pin drop during many of the tunes here. Elizabeth Cotton’s “Oh Babe, It Ain’t No Lie” is a poignant highlight of the first night, while the Garcia/Hunter original “To Lay Me Down” from the second night cuts wide and deep. What has always set The Grateful Dead apart for me from their ‘jam-band’ imitators was their ability to play soulfully, and to un-self-consciously tap so many distinctly American musical traditions. Those two qualities are in abundance in this special Record Store Day release.
Ned Doheny – Hard Candy
Vinyl rip in 24-bit/192 kHz | FLAC | Art scans at 300 dpi
1.4801GB (24/192) | 714MB (24/96) + 238 MB (16/44) |
2014 Be With Records BEWITH003LP | Genre: Soul, Funk, Rock
I’m not sure that the release of Ned Doheny’s 1973 album sold enough copies to inculcate anything much in the way of expectations, but anybody who had happened to own that album could be forgiven for wondering if his second record in 1976 hadn’t accidentally been switched with the latest Vangelis when they first put it on the turntable. A full thirty seconds of slowly faded-in, droning synth chords opens the album before a splash of Ned’s acoustic guitar, chimes and eventually drummer Gary Mallaber laying down a rock-solid beat on the moody “Get It Up For Love.” The whole record is heavenly blue-eyed soul, folky funk, swimming pool dreaminess and about as Laurel Canyon 1976 as it could possibly be.
Help Yourself – Help Yourself
Vinyl rip in 24 bit 196 khz | Art at 600 and 300 dpi |
24-bit 192 khz 1.37 GB |24-bit 96 khz – 714 MB |16-bit 44.1 khz – 271 MB
Original Release 1971 Liberty | 2017 Music On Vinyl MOVLP 2044 | Psychedelic Rock / Folk-rock |
Dr. Vibes’ 12 Days of Christmas – Day 8 – As a teenager in the US, I discovered Help Yourself in a second-hand record shop in the late 1980s, and thought that “Strange Affair” was their first album for the next twenty years. At the time Al Gore hadn’t invented the internet yet, and if you could find any mention of the band in music encylopedia / anthology-type books, it was as a footnote to the more famous Man band from Wales, which Help Yourself frontman Malcolm Morley joined for a while. But they had their own sound, and their own cult following in the UK. This debut album is inferior to the ones that followed it, but rare as hen’s teeth as an original pressing, so I was pretty excited when I saw that reissue label Music On Vinyl had chosen to release it. Continue reading
Richie Havens STONEHENGE Released 1970, Stormy Forest
Open Your Eyes 2:48
It Could Be The First Day 2:15
Ring Around The Moon 2:05
Baby Blue 4:50
There’s A Hole In The Future 1:59
I Started A Joke 2:51
Tiny Little Blues 1:57
Shouldn’t All The World Be Dancing 7:58
Richie Havens – guitar, autoharp, sitar, koto, vocals
Warren Bernhardt – organ
Daniel Ben Zebulon – drums, conga
Monte Dunn – guitar
Donny Gerrard – bass
Ken Lauber – piano
Bill Lavorgna – drums
Eric Oxendine – bass
Bill Shepherd Singers – string arrangements
Paul “Dino” Williams – guitar
“To all the temples built by man of stone and other transient material: I wish to live to see them all crumble into truth and piles of light! And to the temple where divinity resides, even with all your newcomers: How quiet! To divinity: (the socio-physio-spiritus-harmonious-concludus) It is a pleasure to know you!
And least and last, to the body, the substance, the hull, the distinguished main portion, the vessel of molecular pilots and passengers, and its power receiving, transmitting, perceiving, transcending equipment: The truth temple, I’ve seen your face, the earth and its inhabitants, a magnanimous collection. Concentrate on your heartbeats, regulate your breathing even so that flowers may live. – Richard P. Havens “
April 22, Richie Havens passed away. I
saw Richie play a few times in small clubs and was lucky enough to have talked with him briefly one such occasion. He was always approachable and interested in
talking to his fans after a performance.
Here was this man who was a living legend of his generation, with an
instantly recognizable style and always-evocative musical presence, and he
seemed genuinely just grateful that people came to hear him sing. In a way it seemed this fact was all that
mattered – that people were still listening.
Note that I did not say “grateful that people still came to hear him sing” because
this had nothing to do with his age – he was well into his 60s the last time I saw him perform – or out
of some pop-singer’s vanity to feel relevant.
It mattered that people were still listening because he still believed
in the urgency of his message as much as he did when he started out. His message
and his music had not changed much in a half century of recording and
performing, and he put them both across to us in a voice that never
wavered. He had a wise voice, ageless
and now quite literally eternal. You can listen to his singing on “Mixed Bag” (1967) and follow it with “Wishing Well” (2002) and be forgiven for thinking they were recorded around the same time.
He will forever be associated with the opening scenes of the Woodstock film that captured him improvising the tune “Freedom” at the end of a nearly three-hour set, killing time for the rock bands to get their gear to the stage. And he continued to represent the best utopian qualities of that historic moment soon to be overshadowed by the excesses of the era. As most of his contemporaries succumbed to various combinations of self-destruction, greed, madness or mediocrity, he continued waging peace for the rest of his career. He became the most refreshing of anachronisms. A person who believed – really believed – that music could change the world one person at a time. A figure who seemed incapable of cynicism in his music or his life. Hell, he could even make promotional work for the cotton industry sound noble.
You can’t go wrong with any of Richie’s first ten or so albums, and Stonehenge is lodged right in between two of my favorites – the double album “1983” and “Alarm Clock.” The latter LP was his highest charting success, largely on the heals of an inspired version of ‘Hear Comes The Sun.’ While Richie was a fantastic songwriter he sort of became known for his covers of other peoples’ hits and giving them his personal stamp. Usually songs associated with sixties counterculture folk/rock icons like Donovan, The Beatles, and Dylan. Here he tackles “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue,” a song so good it is probably impossible to do a bad version of it, and the Bee Gee’s “I Started A Joke,” which also happens to be one of my favorite tunes (as I mentioned when blogging about Ronnie Von’s Portuguese adaptation of it over here). The album opens with a tune by gospel artist Leon Lumkins, “Open Our Eyes,” also recorded by Funkadelic and which would become the title track of an Earth, Wind and Fire album a few years later. Havens version is better than both and more moving, as well as truer to the original. It’s a lovely prayer to begin a recording.
I won’t give a song-by-song account because if you have never sat down and listened to it then you should just enjoy your own subjective impressions. “Minstrel From Gaul” is a recognized classic and a song he never stopped playing live. He shifts from the tender “It Could Be The First Day” to the angular “Ring Around The Moon” seamlessly. The song “Prayer” brings us back to gospel territory and reminds us of Richie’s roots singing in vocal groups and doo-wop. It’s a Havens composition and the last one on the album to feature real vocals; it also seems that Richie may have overdubbed all the harmonies himself, if the album jacket credits are trustworthy. The instrumentation throughout the LP is changed up constantly, presenting new textures, and the arrangements are all excellent. Also, unlike his first couple of LPs – and I mention this only because I was just listening to them yesterday and today – this one was recorded and mixed really well, which helps things a lot. The record kind of tapers off a little towards the end with the rather disposable instrumental “Tiny Little Blues” (dobro fans will be pleased by an unexpected appearance from David Bromberg) followed immediately by an eight-minute freakout jam (lyricless but with some spoken word) that closes the proceedings. It is tempting to think they needed to fill ten more minutes and had no more songs left, but Havens often managed to insert something experimental or vaguely improvisatory into his early records. And this intense finale, “Shouldn’t All The World Be Dancing” is shot through with Havens ecological, spiritual, and anti-war sentiments. It is a surprisingly dissonant way to close a record, perhaps the musical rendering of his call in the liner notes to see “all the temples built by man… crumble into truth and piles of light.” Richie Havens didn’t live to see that vision come to fruition here on Spaceship Earth. But he did leave us a huge body of work through his searching.
Listen to a little piece of it today.
Also: MORE AUTOHARP!
I could post a YouTube clip to something off this album but why not share the original recording of that Lumkins tune: