This week's entire show is dedicated to John Bradley of Johnny B Goode CD and Record Store in Rivonia. John sadly passed away on Thursday 8th September. On behalf of John's family and friends, I'd like to thank everyone who attended the benefit concert, featuring Three Foot Thang, that was held a few weeks ago.
01). Ides of March - Symphony For Eleanor
From their debut album "Vehicle", released in 1970. They were a Chicago based seven piece brass rock outfit who released four albums and had a number of minor charting singles. Their version of The Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby" is one of the best ever committed to vinyl. Guitarist/vocalist Jim Peterik would later go on to find fame with Chase, Mariah, Survivor, World Stage and others.
02). Lighthouse - Eight Miles High
A great cover (all 18 minutes of it!) of The Byrds' classic. Recorded live at New York's famed Carnegie Hall in 1972. Toronto based Canadian brass rock outfit Lighthouse were formed in the late 60's by ex-Paupers drummer Skip Prokop, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation musical director and keyboard player Paul Hoffert and US guitarist Ralph Cole from the band "Thyme". Numbering as many as 13 musicians at times, Lighthouse's instrumentation included strings, woodwinds and brass, together with a very tight rhythm section driven by Prokop. They released their self-titled debut album on the RCA label in 1969. They built up a solid fan base, playing at The Isle of Wight, Monterrey and Newport Jazz Festivals. Amid many line-up changes, Lighthouse went on to release a total of nine albums, including this double "Lighthouse Live" album in 1972. When Lighthouse split in the mid 70's, a major void was left in the brass rock world. Skip Prokop released a solo album called "All Growed Up". Vocalist Bob McBride, who also released a solo album, was troubled with addiction problems for many years, died on February 20, 1998. Lighthouse reformed for a few concerts in the early 80's, but it was only in the late 90's that any new material appeared from the group. Prokop, Hoffert and Cole, together with original trumpet player Russ Little, got together a new line up and they released ''Song Of The Ages" in 1999.
03). Heaven - Morning Coffee
This short lived but very powerful nine piece US brass rock outfit released just one (?) album, a double album called "Brass Rock 1" in 1971. (Although there is a reference to a second album, "Heaven Bent" in Terry Hounsome's Rock Record book). Never seen or heard of the album. Heaven used two lead guitarists and had a serious horn section. They were a true horn ROCK band in every sense of the word! A brilliant album from a brilliant band.
04). Foghat - Mumbo Jumbo
From "Family Joules" in 2003. Essentially an English band, Foghat were originally formed by Savoy Brown members "Lonesome" Dave Peverett (guitars), Roger Earl (drums) and bassist Tony Stevens,together with slide guitarist Rod Price, when they left Kim Simmond's group in the early 70's. They relocated to the US where they became phenomenally popular, scoring with a number of major hits and charting albums. Their brilliant "Live" album, released in 1977, is testimony to the fact that they were a killer live act! Nick Jameson and then Craig Montgomery replaced Tony Stevens (who went to Midnight Flyer in 1981), but the band stayed relatively stable throughout its 12 or so year career. Foghat split in the mid 80's and reformed in the mid 90's and released a great album called "Return Of The Boogie Men". Lonesome Dave sadly died about four years ago. The band's future seemed a bit uncertain, until Roger Earl and Tony Stevens recruited German guitarist/vocalist Charlie Huhn (previously of Victory, Deadringer and Ted Nugent's band) and guitarist Bryan Bassett of Wild Cherry and Molly Hatchet fame. The "Family Joules" album, whilst not being vintage Foghat, is a very competent album in the true boogie style that made this band so famous. Interestingly, Victory recently reformed and released a new album, "Instinct", in 2003. Charlie Huhn is on it. Maybe he's moonlighting?
05). Marshall Tucker Band - Ride Of Your Life
From "Beyond The Horizon", their latest studio album, released in 2004. The old adage that you can't keep a good band down rings very true with the MTB. Like many Southern Rock/Country Rock bands, they've had their fair share of tragedy over the years, firstly losing bassist and co-founder Tommy Caldwell on April 28, 1980 in a vehicle accident and then his brother and MTB co-founder Toy, to respiratory failure on February 25th, 1993. Evolving out of Toy Factory, the brothers formed The Marshall Tucker Band in 1972. Signing to Capricorn Records, they soon found themselves on the charts with numbers such as "Take The Highway" and "Can't You See". Nearly 20 albums have since been released by these kings of Country/Southern Rock and the band has since gone through numerous line-up changes, with only original vocalist Doug Gray remaining in the fold. "Beyond The Horizon" sees the MTB moving back to their glory days - it's without doubt one of the best albums they've ever recorded. The line-up is now Gray, Chris Hicks (vocals & guitar), Stuart Swanlund (vocals & guitar), David Muse (ex-Firefall, on keyboards, horns and woodwinds), Tony Heatherly (bass) and BB (Barry) Borden (ex-Mother's Finest and Molly Hatchet, on drums). MTB fans will be very happy to hear that this classy band are still around!
06). Seventh Key - It Should Have Been You
This US band are one of the "new breed" of Melodic Rock/AOR groups, and based on the quality of musicianship from veteran rockers guitarist/bassist/keyboardist Mike Slamer (City Boy, Streets, Steelhouse Lane, etc) and bassist/vocalist Billy Greer ((Kansas, Streets), they're destined to be huge. This second album, called "The Raging Fire", which was released on Frontiers Records in 2004, features Jamie Thompson on drums and Terry Brock on backing vocals.
07). King Harvest - Wichita Lineman
King Harvest were a successful band in their native Australia. They were formed in Melbourne in the early 70's by vocalist Leo De Castro and guitarist Ray Oliver. This great cover version of the Jimmy Webb classic was a minor hit for the band, and it was taken from a double compilation called "Golden Miles - Australian Progressive Rock - 1969-1974". De Castro later moved on and formed a group called "Friends".
08). Andwella - I Got A Woman
Evolving out of a Northern Ireland trio called "Method", they moved to London in 1968 and became known as "Andwella's Dream". This UK psych/progressive band were formed by guitarist/vocalist/ keyboard player Dave Lewis. Their debut album, "Love and Poetry", released in 1968, is extremely rare and is worth a fortune on the collector's market (in excess of 220 Pounds). The featured track was taken off their second album, "World's End" in 1970, when they were known simply as "Andwella". They recorded a third album, "People's People", in 1971, and split.
09). Jess Roden Band - I Can't Get Next To You
Jess Roden has to be one of the UK's best yet most underrated vocalists. He plied his trade in The Alan Bown Set during the late 60's and later formed "Bronco" in 1970. This proved to be a bit of a disappointing venture and he then formed The Butts Band with Doors members John Densmore and Robbie Krieger. His self-titled debut album, which he recorded whilst he was a member of The Butts Band, was released in 1974. He also had a short stint with Keef Hartley, and appeared on his "Lancashire Hustler" album. Jess Roden later joined The Rivets and the nineties found him with The Humans. The featured track was taken from "Play It Dirty - Play It Class" in 1976.
10). Gentle Giant - In A Glass House
The title track from their 5th album, released in 1973, their first album for the WWA record label. A UK progressive rock act, they were formed in 1970, evolving out of Simon Dupree and the Big Sound, which was a band put together by the Shulman brothers, Derek (vocals/bass/guitar), Ray (vocals) and Phil (sax). The other members were guitarist Gary Green, and keyboard player Kerry Minnear. They signed to the Vertigo label and their first four albums for the label are now quite collectible. Gentle Giant are probably best known for their quirky, yet brilliant musicianship, and their fantastic vocal harmonies. They released a total of 11 official albums, plus a number of recently released live albums and albums of previously unreleased material. This album is an essential addition to the collection of any self-respecting lover of progressive rock.
11). Rare Bird - Somebody's Watching
This London based UK outfit were formed in October 1969. They had a minor hit with their track "Sympathy", but their later material was much better, as their style had changed a tad since they adopted the use of guitars (like Greenslade, Rare Bird were essentially a keyboard dominated band). "Somebody's Watching" was the title track of their very good 4th album, released in 1973. They went on to release a total of six albums and split in the mid 70's.
12). String Driven Thing - Starving In The Tropics
This Scottish outfit were formed in mid 1968 by husband and wife team of Chris (vocals & guitar) and Pauline (vocals) Adams. Their debut album, released on the Concord label in 1970, is very rare (only 100 were pressed) and is therefore highly collectible. Musically it wasn't a tremendously memorable album, and the band soon changed their style and adopted a harder, more electric direction. The tracks "Circus" and "It's a Game", were minor hits for them. In 1974, they changed their style again, adopting a more West Coast approach. This proved to be a good move, as their popularity soared. "Starving In The Tropics" was released on their final studio album, "Keep Your 'and On It", which came out in 1975. Like the previous year's album, "Please Mind Your Head", the album featured ex-Beggars Opera drummer Colin Fairley. Violinist Graham Smith later joined Van Der Graaf Generator, and he was involved the String Driven Thing reformation with Chris Adams in 1992.
13). Jeff Wayne - The Eve Of The War
One of two hits taken from American born musician/producer/composer and arranger Jeff Wayne's stunning musical version of "War of The Worlds", originally released in 1978. The album, which achieved international success, won two Ivor Novello Awards, together with The Best Recording in Science, Fiction and Fantasy. The musicians featured were Chris Spedding (Nucleus/Sharks) and Jo Partridge (Kiki Dee) on guitars, Barry Morgan on drums, Herbie Flowers (Sky) on bass, Barry De Souza, Roy Jones and Ray Cooper on percussion and Jeff Wayne and Ken Freeman on keyboards. Vocals were handled by Chris Thompson (Manfred Mann), Phil Lynott (Thin Lizzy), Justin Hayward (Moody Blues) and Julie Covington on vocals, with the late Richard Burton narrating. The double album has recently been re-released by Sony/BMG in a lavishly presented new booklet, complete with lyrics, biographies, etc.
14). Rick Wakeman - The Return Overture
The original "Journey To The Centre Of The Earth", keyboard player Rick Wakeman's third solo album, was released in January 1974. At the time, it was acclaimed as one of the finest conceptual albums of the era. Featuring ex-Wild Turkey and Warhorse vocalists, Gary Pickford-Hopkins and Ashley Holt respectively, the album was given the full treatment by The London Symphony Orchestra and English Chamber Choir, conducted by David Measham. David Hemmings did the narration. The continuation of the journey, captured on "Return To The Centre Of The Earth", took place 25 years later, once again with The London Symphony Orchestra and The English Chamber Choir. Recorded in 1999, the new version of the Journey, narrated by Patrick Stewart of "Star Trek: The New Generation" fame, features Wakeman utilizing all the technological innovations previously unavailable to him all those years ago. That, combined with the fact that he tends to know his way around a keyboard, results in an album of epic proportions. Musicians featured include bassist Phil Williams, guitarist Fraser Thorneycroft-Smith and drummer Simon Hanson. Guitarist Trevor Rabin, Wakeman's co-Yes member, solos on one track, and also sings on the album. Other vocalists are Justin Hayward, Bonnie Tyler, and others. The surprise package was Ozzy, who, not surprisingly, sang on one of the heavier tracks, "Buried Alive".
15). Alan Parsons Project - In The Lap Of The Gods
Alan Parsons has quite an extensive pedigree as a producer and engineer, having worked with the likes of The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Al Stewart, Ambrosia and others. He formed The Alan Parsons Project with keyboard player and co-producer Eric Woolfson and they released their stunning debut album, "Tales of Mystery and Imagination" in 1976. The masters of the conceptual albums, they've released albums dealing with subjects as diverse as the writings of Edgar Alan Poe to robots and gambling. This track, taken from "Pyramid", in 1978, was their third album, which tackled the secrets of the past and the present, and it featured world renown keyboard player Duncan Mackay, who has featured with the likes of Camel, 10cc, Budgie, and a host of others. Duncan, who has been living in the Cape, recently formed a band called Réunion with vocalist Greg McEwan. (You can expect to hear something from their album in the not too distant future, here on The RockIt Scientist). Most of the Alan Parson Project albums feature a phenomenal guitarist who is very under-rated, a gentleman called Ian Bairnson, who has also played on albums by Chris De Burgh, Keats and others. Recent times have found Alan Parsons no longer working with Eric Woolfson, and his albums are now just credited to Alan Parsons.
16). Caravan - Introduction
Procol Harum did it. The Moody Blues did it, and so did Deep Purple, amongst others, but none of them released quite as good an album with an orchestra as Caravan. Tracks such as "The Love In Your Eye", "For Richard" and "A Hunting We Shall Go" were tailor-made for orchestral backing. "Caravan & The New Symphonia", was for the RockIt Scientist, one of the best albums to be released in 1974. One of the early bands from the English Canterbury scene, Caravan's roots lay with the Wilde Flowers. They were formed in early 1968 by guitarist/vocalist Pye Hastings, drummer Richard Coghlan and keyboard player Dave Sinclair, with Steve Miller on piano and vocals and Richard Sinclair on bass and vocals. Their self-titled debut album, initially released on Verve Records, is quite collectible today. It demonstrated a band with original and interesting ideas and flawless musicianship. By the time this album came about, Geoff Richardson had joined on viola and John G.Perry had replaced Stuart Evans on bass. Apparently the band had only two four hour sessions with the orchestra to rehearse all the material. The album, arranged by the late Simon Jeffes (who wrote the featured track, "Introduction") was recorded live at The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in England on October 28th, 1973. Caravan went on to become, and still are, one of England's best and most respected progressive rock bands.
17). Brazen Abbot - Dreams
Brazen Abbot is the brainchild of Bulgarian guitarist Nikolo Kotzev, a very talented player in the mould of Ritchie Blackmore and Michael Schenker. This latest album, "My Resurrection", was released on the Frontiers Record label in June 2005, and it's one of his best offerings to date. The orchestral accompaniment on many of the tracks give the album an element of class that is lacking on many similar releases today. Featured vocalists on the album are Joe Lynn Turner (of Fandango/Rainbow/Deep Purple fame, who has worked with Kotzev on many occasions), Tony Harnell (Starbreaker/TNT), Goran Edman (Yngwie Malmsteen) and Erik Martensson (Eclipse).
18). Lana Lane - Someone To Believe
The Queen of Symphonic Rock is back with a killer new album, also released on Frontiers Records. Based on the play by vanguard English poet William Shakespeare, this new album, "Lady Macbeth", released in April this year, sees her once again collaborating with her husband and Rocket Scientist keyboard player, Eric Norlander. Lana Lane has a tremendously powerful, yet adaptable voice, and she handles the softer material as effortlessly as she does the harder stuff. One of the better female rock singers around today, and her band (Mark McCrite, Neil Citron and Peer Verschuren on guitars, Kristoffer Gildenlow and Don Schiff on bass and Ernst Van Ee on drums, together with producer/keyboard player Norlander), is incredibly tight.
19). XYZ - Asking
A French/American LA based hard rock quartet, formed by vocalist Terry Ilous and bassist Pat Fontaine, Guitarist Marc Diglio and drummer Paul Monroe joined when the two founding members moved to Los Angeles. Their brilliant debut album, released in 1989, was produced by Don Dokken (of Dokken) fame. Marc Diglio was the find of the decade - a tremendously tasteful guitarist who brought a slightly bluesy feel to the band's powerful repertoire. A second album, "Hungry", surfaced in 1991. Not quite as good as the debut, it nonetheless was an acceptable follow-up. A live album, "Take What You Can...Live", recorded in 1995, was released in 1997. In the meantime, Ilous met up with ex-King Kobra guitarist JK Northrup, and The Cage was formed. XYZ seemed to be put on ice for a while, then, in 2003, with new bassist Sean McNabb, together with Northrup, Monroe and Ilous, the band released this album, "Letter To God", their 4th album.