1). November - Sekunder
From "En Ny Tid Ar Har
", (directly translated from Swedish, "A New Time Is Here
"), their debut album, released in 1970. This Swedish power trio were formed in the suburbs of Stockholm in the late 60's, evolving out of two groups, Train and The Imps. UK blues/rock guitarist Snowy White was with the group for a few months, but he left to the UK in the Autumn of 1969. November's main rise to fame began with a very successful concert in November 1969, when they supported Fleetwood Mac, who were touring Sweden at the time. The band were one of the few Swedish bands to use Swedish lyrics, sung in a very characteristic way by bassist/vocalist Christer Stalbrandt. They released a total of four albums, including a very good live album, recorded between 1970 and 1971, but released in 1993. Made in Sweden and future Blood, Sweat & Tears guitarist, Georg Wadenius, produced their second album, "2a November", in 1971. Stalbrandt later formed Saga (not the Canadian band!), in 1974.
2). May Blitz - Squeet
Co-formed in the UK in the late 60's by ex-Jeff Beck Group and Sounds Incorporated drummer Tony Newman, this powerful hard rock trio recorded two albums for the Vertigo swirl label, both of which command fairly decent prices on the collector's market. Bassist/vocalist Reid Hudson and guitarist/vocalist Jamie Black made up the balance of the band. The track was taken from their self-titled debut, released in 1970. The various members went on to play with a number of bands and musicians, from Joan Armatrading to Boxer to FBI.
3). Master's Apprentices - Easy To Lie
Taken from their 3rd album, "Choice Cuts
", released in 1971. The Master's Apprentices are one of Australia's best known bands. They evolved out of a band called The Mustangs in Adelaide in the mid 60's, playing music from R'n B to psychedelia to hard rock. They then moved to Melbourne and released their now ultra-rare self-titled debut album. They also released a number of charting singles, and by the time this album came out, they were living in the UK (This album, "Choice Cuts", was recorded at Abbey Road's no.2 studio). By now, they had adopted a more progressive/hard rock style, with a bit of a folksy feel, which endeared them to the punters, and further albums such as"A Toast To Panama Red" and "Nickelodeon" were well received. They unfortunately split in the mid 70's and reformed in 1988.
4). Tower of Power - Soul With a Capital 'S'
Formed in Oakland, California as The Motowns/ Motown Soul Band in 1967, Tower of Power are still very much around today, touring prolifically. Original members Steve "Doc" Kupka (baritone sax), Francis "Rocco" Prestia (bass) and tenor sax player/vocalist Emilio Castillo, together with drummer David Garibaldi, have kept this fantastic band on the road, despite the trials and tribulations that are commonplace with bands of this size. Taken from 1999's "Live
" album, which was recorded in California during their 1998 world tour, this stunning track sums up everything Tower of Power stands for. They are unquestionably the finest soul band in the world, perhaps rivaled only by Earth, Wind & Fire. Their famed horn section has appeared with the likes of Santana, Huey Lewis and The News, Phil Collins and a host of others. They visited South Africa a few years ago and featured at what was then known as The North Sea Jazz Festival.
5). Chicago - 25 or 6 to 4
This live version of one of Chicago's best and best known tracks is taken from a DVD, namely "Chicago & Earth, Wind & Fire - Live at The Greek Theatre
", recorded during their summer tour of 2004. Just imagine the power and sophistication of Chicago, together with the energy and groove of Earth, Wind & Fire, two of the most respected brass rock/soul/funk bands in the world, on the same stage, at the same time! How's this for a line-up: a six piece horn section, three guitarists, two bassists (one being the eccentric, ever smiling, ever moving Verdine White, one of Earth, Wind & Fire's founding members), two fantastic drummers, six vocalists, three keyboard players and a percussionist - 20 musicians in all! (Some vocalists, such as the ever smooth and totally classy Robert Lamm, are also lead vocalists). If there's just ONE DVD you buy this year, make it this one! It's a double DVD, packed with all the classics from Earth, Wind & Fire on DVD one, with Chicago dominating proceedings on DVD two. Both bands feature together on tracks such as "Beginnings", "In The Stone", "Dialogue", "September", "Free", "Sing a Song", "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?", "Shining Star", and this MONSTER version of "25 or 6 to 4"! (Oddly enough, the track isn't shown on the outside sleeve of the dvd case, but, trust me, it's there!). The vibe and energy pouring out of this DVD is truly awesome - it must've been an amazing experience to be there!
6). Blood, Sweat & Tears - Nuclear Blues
Formed in the US in the late 60's by, amongst others, keyboard player and vocalist Al Kooper and guitarist Steve Katz, both ex-Blues Project, Blood, Sweat & Tears, were one of the pioneers of the brass/rock movement. Kooper soon departed after the release of their debut album, "Child Is Father To The Man", and English-born Canadian vocalist, David Clayton-Thomas, took over vocal duties. An outstanding and natural frontman, Clayton-Thomas gave the band the punch and charisma that was lacking in their earlier days. He remained with the band for a further two albums before leaving to embark on a solo career. His replacement, Jerry Fischer, appeared on three great albums, "New Blood" in 1972, "No Sweat" in 1973 and "Mirror Image" in 1974. The band had moved in a more funky/jazz fusion direction, and when Clayton-Thomas returned in 1975, they had developed into a tightly knit, incredibly musical unit, which was pretty apparent on their first live album, "In Concert", which was released in 1976. Moving ahead to 1980, the band released the formidable "Nuclear Blues
" album, with ex-Lighthouse and Crowbar trumpet player Bruce Cassidy and drummer Bobby Economou. This live version of "Nuclear Blues" was taken from their "Live
" album, recorded on October 12, 1980, in Los Angeles, and it featured Vern Dorge and Earl Seymour on saxes and flute, Richard Martinez on keyboards and Rob Piltch on bass, together with Clayton-Thomas, Economou and Cassidy.
NEWSFLASH!!!! SPV have just released a new Blood, Sweat & Tears Live DVD!
7). First Aid - Catherine
This little known UK progressive rock quartet released just the one album, "Nostradamus
", an elaborate conceptual album based on the prophesies and life of Nostradamus, in 1977, on the Decca label. Drummer Dave Freeman had previously been in Igginbottom's Wrench in the late 60's, with famed guitarist Allan Holdsworth. This once-off album is quite rare, and is a worthwhile addition to the collection of anyone into intelligent progressive rock with orchestral backing. Excellent guitarist/vocalist Alan Wormald seems to have faded into obscurity.
8). Duncan Mackay - Witches
Taken from his "Score
" album, recorded in the UK in 1977. We mentioned this Cape Town based legendary keyboard player last week
, when he was featured with The Alan Parsons Project. He's also played with Camel, Kate Bush, Budgie, 10CC, Cockney Rebel and others.
" featured some very well known and highly respected musicians, namely Clive Chaman (Jeff Beck/Hummingbird) on bass, Andrew McCulloch (Greenslade/Fields) on drums, Mel Collins (Camel/Kokomo) on saxes, Steve Harley (Cockney Rebel) on vocals, and John Wetton (Uriah Heep/King Crimson/Asia) also on vocals.
9). Eela Craig - V.A.T./Morning
An Austrian outfit, Eela Craig, who were formed in the late 60's, were as highly respected as their German contemporaries Eloy, Shaa Khan, Anyone's Daughter and others. Their much sought-after self-title debut album, released in 1971, was a more prog orientated album, and as a result, they were considered by many to be a very competent "kraut rock" band . This album, "One Niter
", released five years later in 1976, was very symphonic in content, with the use of electronics and keyboards quite prominent (in fact, four of the eight members played keyboards!). Eela Craig played almost exclusively in theatres and opera houses, and they were considered to be one of the first bands to use the mellotron. They released a total of five albums and folded in the early 80's.
10). Far East Family Band - The Cave
One of the many great progressive bands to come out of Japan, and one of many to record for the Vertigo label. They evolved out of a progressive band called "Far Out" (amusingly, a CD release of the album, not the legit Buy or Die copy that came out in 2000, referred to the band as FOR Out!). Far East Family Band would appear to have released about five albums between 1975 and 1978, with the constant member being guitarist/keyboard player Fumio Miyashta (on the FOR Out album, our man Fumio was playing an ACHORSTIC guitar!). Anyway, in all seriousness, they were one of the better Japanese bands to emerge from a country that spawned the delightfully named Flied Egg, the Flower Travellin' Band, Cosmos Factory (can't imagine where they got THAT name from!), Creation, Samurai, Murasaki and many others. Oh, by the way, "The Cave" was a track taken from their debut album, "Nipponjin
", released in 1975.
11). Bloodgood - Seven
From "Rock In a Hard Place
", in 1988, their 3rd album. Bloodgood were a US Christian rock metal band, formed in Washington by bassist Michael Bloodgood and guitarist David Zaffiro in the mid 80's. Initially sounding a bit like Iron Maiden and Saxon, their later albums showed a marked mellowing of approach. Vocalist Les Carlsen and drummer Mark Welling, later replaced by Kevin Whistler, completed the line-up. Next to Whiteheart, they were considered to be one of the better Christian rock (white) metal outfits on the circuit for many years. They released about six albums and folded in the early 90's, David Zaffiro released a solo album "The Other Side", in 1989.
12). David & The Giants - Can't Stop The Music
Essentially a Christian rock group put together by the Huff brothers, Rayborn on keyboards, Lance on drums and percussion, and David on guitars and lead vocals, together with bassist Dennon Dearman. They've released a few other albums, but they're not easy to find. Not shown (or known) if they're related to the great Dann Huff of Giant fame. Some killer riffs from a very tight outfit!
13). Neal Morse - Help Me
Neal Morse was the voice, founding member and leader of US outfit Spock's Beard, and he also appeared with Transatlantic. This track, taken from 2004's "One
" album, features Dream Theatre's drummer Mike Portnoy and bassist Randy George. The album was a strong contender for The RockIt Scientist's album of the year last year. Morse is an unbelievably talented musician (guitars/keyboards) and songwriter, and many people feel that Spock's Beard are not quite the same without him. The SPV/InsideOut-released album features a bonus CD with nine extra tracks, and what has become a common and expected thread with most SPV/InsideOut releases, the presentation of the booklet is very professionally done.
14). Gipsy Love - Don't Be Surprised
From their self-titled debut album, released on the BASF label in 1972. Gipsy Love were an Austrian Anglo-American styled hard rock band who's music style had elements of mainstream rock and progressive rock, with a few jazzy moments. They released a second album, "Here We Come", in the same year, and split. Interestingly, bassist Kurt Hauenstein went on to find fame with disco band Supermax in the mid 70's!
15). Howl The Good - Harder Doing Nothing
One of those frustrating "no info available" type once off (?) recordings, which is a shame, because this US band, whose sole(?) self-titled recording, released in 1971 on the acclaimed Rare Earth label, showed much promise. There are folksy bits together with a touch of blues and elements of hard rock on this album, which was produced by Spooky Tooth's Gary Wright. Recorded in England and mastered in California, it remains a lost gem in the vast annals of rock history.
16). Ramatam - Changing Days
Don't be fooled in thinking that the ladies can't play guitar! Joining ex-Blues Image and Iron Butterfly guitarist Mike Pinera and ex-Eire Apparent and Jimi Hendrix Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell, was the delectable April Lawton on guitar. Russ Smith was on bass and vocals and Tommy Sullivan was on keyboards, reeds and vocals. This self-titled debut, originally released on Atlantic Records in 1972, has recently been released on CD on the Wounded Bird label. The album was mainstream rock which veered towards hard rock and jazz rock and also featured a brass section. The second and final album, "In April Came The Dawning Of The Red Suns
", released in 1973, has also recently been released on CD, through Wounded Bird Records. When Ramatam folded, Pinera joined the New Cactus Band and then formed Thee Image, releasing two albums in 1975.
17). Demon - Change
From their brand new album, "Better The Devil You Know
". Don't let the name put you off. Demon are one of the UK's better metal outfits. One of the early bands of the NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) scene, they were formed during the second half of 1980 by vocalist Dave Hill and guitarist Mal Spooner. Their first two albums were basic heavy rock, but their third album, the conceptual "The Plague", saw the band move into progressive rock territory. Mal Spooner, suffering from a respiratory disorder, passed away in 1984. Dave Hill, as the sole remaining original member, has kept the band going for many years despite various personnel changes, and they became very popular in Europe, especially in Germany. They recently appeared at the German Wacken music festival, as well as at The Sweden Rock festival. This new album is arguably one of the best they've done for many years.
18). Paul Rodgers - Mr. Big
Very few of the "old school" vocalists have kept their voices and charisma as finely tuned as the vocalist from Free, Bad Company, The Firm, The Law etc etc. Paul Rodgers, who turns 56 years old on 17 December, is unquestionably one of the finest voices and most respected frontmen in rock. As a founding member of Free and Bad Company, his reputation and style is legendary. He recently appeared with Queen, and whilst he's no Freddie Mercury, he handled the material effortlessly. The idea of Paul Rodgers replacing Freddie Mercury in Queen was, to many, the RockIt Scientist included, a mismatch of note, but it worked very well. This version of the classic Free track, was taken off a 2004 Frontiers Records release called "Influences and Connections: Volume One: Mr. Big
", essentially an album of artists who are all an influence upon, or connected in some way, to US rock outfit Mr. Big. Other artists/bands on the single CD are Joe Lynn Turner, King's X, Ann Wilson and others. It's Frontiers' intention to attempt to document and explore the same concept with many other bands and artists. Watch this space!
19). Thunder - Together Or Apart
One of England's finest ever bands! Drawing influences from Free, Bad Company, Humble Pie and others, this much loved band exploded on the scene in 1990 with their brilliant "Back Street Symphony
" album. Out of the ashes of Terraplane came vocalist Danny Bowes, guitarist Luke Morley and drummer Harry James. They recruited second guitarist Ben Matthews and bassist Mark Luckhurst and teamed up with producer Andy Taylor (ex-Duran Duran) for their debut album. They then landed the opening slot at Donnington in 1990 and blew everybody away! Luckhurst was later replaced by ex-Great King Rat bassist Mikael Hoglund, who was in turn replaced by Chris Childs. Thunder's albums are always exciting, combining killer blues/hard rockers with brilliant, emotive ballads. A live DVD, recorded a number of years ago, demonstrates just how loved this band really is - Bowes has the audience eating out of his hand! Like many great bands, they've had their fair share of break-ups and reformations. The great news is that the band is back, and is sounding better than ever with this latest release, "The Magnificent Seventh
", which came out on Frontiers Records earlier this year. Bowes and Morley have also released two great albums as "Bowes and Morley". As long as bands like Thunder are still around, rock music is in good hands!