01). New Trolls - Adagio
The New Trolls, who were from Genoa, were amongst the first groups to appear on the Italian rock scene. They released their debut single, which sold more than 100,000 copies, in 1967. Their debut album, "Senza Orario, Senza Bandiera", released in 1968, became a milestone in Italian rock, as its first conceptual album. Their music encompassed elements of psychedelia, rock, jazz, blues and even soul. The featured track was taken off their third album "Concerto Grosso No.1", released in 1971 , which was an ambitious attempt to merge heavy prog rock with 18th century-inspired classical music. It worked very well (sort of Hendrix-meets-Jethro Tull-meets Vivaldi). The group then folded for a while amid legal complications as to the rights to use the name New Trolls. Then, in 1975, original New Trolls guitarist Nico Di Palo, who had broken away to form Ibis in 1972, reformed the band and they recorded "Concerto Grosso No. 2", but this paled in comparison to the original concerto. The New Trolls existed well into the 80's, but their style of music changed to the point that they almost became known as Italy's version of the Bee Gees! Other Italian bands such as The Tritons, New Trolls Atomic System, Nuova Idea and Nova all had links with this legendary band.
02). Hawkwind - Hassan I Sahba
From "Quark Strangeness and Charm", in 1977, their 8th album. This was their second album for Charisma Records, and the last album to feature South African-born poet and vocalist, Robert Calvert (although Calvert would feature on the Hawlords album in 1978. He also released a number of solo albums, including "Lucky Lief and The Longships", and "Captain Lockheed and The Starfighters".) Born in Pretoria in 1944, he moved to the UK and was with Hawkwind from the early 70's. He died of a heart attack on August 14, 1988. Violinist Simon House, previously with UK prog band High Tide, joined Hawkwind in 1974, and features on this album. Hawkwind started out in the Notting Hill area of London, initially as Group X and later as Hawkwind Zoo before becoming just plain Hawkwind.They released their self-titled debut album in 1970 on the Liberty label and almost immediately became a very popular cult band. Their history is quite extensive, having had a number of well known musicians in their ranks over the years, amongst them bassist Lemmy,drummer Ginger Baker and sax player Nik Turner, just to mention a few. Album releases, studio and live, are plentiful from these kings of Space Rock.Their brand new album, featuring founding member, guitarist/vocalist/keyboard player Dave Brock, together with bassist/vocalist/keyboard player Alan Davey and drummer Richard Chadwick, called "Take Me To Your Leader", was released a short while ago.
03). (Darryl Way's) Wolf - The Envoy
Violinist/keyboard player Darryl Way was previously in UK progressive outfit Curved Air. He formed the classically-influenced Wolf in 1973, together with bassist/vocalist Dek Messecar, drummer Ian Mosley and guitarist John Etheridge. They released their debut album, "Saturation Point" in 1973 and, later that same year, their second album "Canis Lupus". Former If vocalist John Hodkinson joined the band in 1974 for their third and final album, "Night Music", from which the featured track was taken. A technically brilliant band, Wolf provided Darryl Way with further opportunities to showcase his prowess as one of the UK's best violin players. John Etheridge was involved with Soft Machine, Second Vision and others, Dek Messecar later worked with Caravan, and Ian Mosley went on to work with Dutch band Trace before finding fame and fortune with Marillion. John Hodkinson went on to form Rogue in 1975, and Darryl Way worked with Gong, Marianne Faithfull and others, as well as recording a few solo albums (one of them being the excellent "Concerto For Electric Violin" in 1978).
04). Derek Sherinian - El Flamingo Suave
From his third solo album, "Mythology", which was released in 2004. An extremely competent keyboard player, he's featured with the likes of Buddy Miles, Alice Cooper, Kiss, Dream Theatre, Platypus, Yngwie Malmsteen, Billy Idol and Blue Murder. Some seriously well known musicians appear with him on this album, namely Steve Lukather (guitar) and Simon Phillips (drums), both from Toto, Zakk Wylde (guitars) from Ozzy Osbourne and Black Label Society, Marco Mendoza (bass) from Soul Sirkus, John Sykes (Tygers of Pan Tang/Thin Lizzy/Blue Murder) and Allan Holdsworth (both on guitars), Jerry Goodman (Mahavishnu Orchestra/Dixie Dregs) on violin and Tony Franklin from The Firm and others, on bass.
05). Gregg Rolie - Down To Rio
US vocalist and keyboard player Gregg Rolie was one of the founding members of Santana in the late 60's. He was with the band before leaving to form Journey with fellow Journey member, guitarist Neil Schon, in 1973. Rolie released eight albums with Journey before he left in the early 80's, indicating that he was leaving the music industry. He released his first solo album in 1985 and would later form The Storm with former Journey members, drummer Steve Smith and bassist Ross Valory, together with vocalist Kevin Chalfant and guitarist Josh Ramos, in 1991. He recorded two albums with The Storm ("The Storm", in 1991, and "Eye Of The Storm", in 1995). This second solo album, "Roots", which was released in 2001, has a decidedly Santana-feel about it, with stunning percussion and guitar work. The album features contributions from Michael Carabello (percussion), Neil Schon (guitars), Ron Wikso (drums) and Alphonso Johnson on bass.
06). B Side Players - Puro Feeling
From "Movement", in 2001. This seven piece Latin rock outfit would appear to hail from Los Angeles. They apparently called themselves "The B Side Players" because they were always relegated to second or support spot and they pretended that they didn't have too much faith in their abilities or confidence in themselves. They're a very good band, though, at times similar in style to Tribe of Gypsys and Puya.
07). Rossington Collins Band - Tashawna
Dedicated to John Lennon. This US outfit formed when Lynyrd Skynyrd broke up following the aircraft crash that claimed the lives of vocalist Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, backup vocalist Cassie Gaines and roadie Dean Kilpatrick, on 20 October 1977, 28 years ago on Thursday this week. Gary Rossington formed this band with fellow Skynyrd guitarist Allen Collins in 1980, together with surviving Lynyrd Skynyrd members Billy Powell (keyboards), Leon Wilkeson (bass), vocalist Dale Krantz (who would become Dale Krantz-Rossington later on), drummer Derek Hess and guitarist Barry Harwood, and they released their debut album, "Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere", in 1980. A second and final album, "This Is The Way", from where the featured track was taken, was released in 1981. Dale Krantz-Rossington is now a backing singer for Lynyrd Skynyrd, and husband Gary, who was a founding member of the band back in the mid sixties, was instrumental in Lynyrd Skynyrd's reformation and subsequent success in the late 80's to the present day. The Rossington Collins Band were just one of a number of groups to have been formed after Lynryd Skynyrd's demise, with some of the others being "Alias", "Artimus Pyle Band", ''Rossington Collins Band", "Allen Collins Band" and just plain "Rossington".
8). Doc Holliday - Dead Man's Road
One of the lesser known, but certainly up there with the best of the Southern Rock bands. Similar in style to Blackfoot and The Allman Brothers Band, Doc Holliday were formed in the early 80's by guitarist/vocalist Bruce Brookshire, releasing their debut self-titled album in 1981. The line-up on this album was Brookshire, Herman Nixon on drums and vocals, John Samuelson on bass and vocals, Ric Skelton on guitar and vocals and Eddie Stone on keyboards and vocals. Two further albums, "Doc Holliday Rides Again" and "Modern Medicine" were released in 1982 and 1983 respectively before the band split, only to reform in 1986 with a great album called ''Danger Zone". The band, down to a quartet, now featured Jamie Deckard on drums in place of Herman Nixon. The excellent "Song For The Outlaw - Live" album, featuring new members Daniel Ford (bass), Billy Yates (guitar) and John Vaughan on drums, together with Bruce Brookshire, was released in 1986. It would be nearly eight years before Doc Holliday would return: "Son Of The Morning Star", released in 1993, was a very good album (the track "Rock Attack" with its very clever lyrics, said it all: "I like red hot guitar, real live drums..."!). Danny Lastinger was now on drums, with Ford, Samuelson and Brookshire. The featured track was taken off "Legacy", released in 1996. A further five years would pass before a new Doc Holliday would surface. "A Better Road", featuring a great version of Thin Lizzy's "Jailbreak", was released in 2001. Bruce Brookshire has since released a solo album called "The Damascus Road", and the most recent studio album, "Good Time Music", was released in 2003. A Doc Holliday compilation album has also been released.
09). Clint & Co - Freedom
From the band's debut album, "Hammer, Mother and Rock", released last week. This is essentially a reworked version of their brilliant "Remember September" number, with its 9/11 theme. The band features Clint Cunningham on vocals, Peter Hanmer on guitars, Mike Dorea on bass and Glenn Welman on drums. They've toured the country, performing the sold out Creedence Clearwater Revival and U2 tribute shows. They also appear together as Off The Edge, and are a very tight and musically brilliant band. The CD, which contains great versions of crowd favorites "Paint It Black", "Volare" and "Little Pub Singer", can be purchased from the band at the various gigs, or through their website, www.clintandco.co.za. A number of Off The Edge tracks are also featured on the album, which was produced by Peter Hanmer.
10). Bedlam - The Beast
This short lived British hard rock quartet evolved out of the ashes of a number of bands, namely "Ideal Milk", "Chicago Hush", "Young Blood", "The Mayfair Split" and "The Ace Kefford Stand" before calling themselves Big Bertha, which featured drummer Cozy Powell and Dave Ball on guitar and his brother Denny on bass. Vocalist Frank Aiello joined and Bedlam was born. Cozy Powell was also featuring with Jeff Beck at the time and was building up a reputation as one of the best drummers around. Bedlam's sole album, from which the track was taken, was released in 1973 and peaked in 1974. A live CD, recorded at the end of a US tour with Black Sabbath, finally saw the light of day about one and a half years ago. A double compilation was also released in 1999. This was one of the great rock releases of the early to mid seventies and is essential listening. (Cozy Powell was killed in a car crash on April 5th, 1998).
11). Humble Pie - C'mon Everybody
From "Smokin'", in 1972, arguably one of the best albums ever released by the Pie, as they were known! Evolving out of The Small Faces and The Herd, the original Humble Pie line-up (in 1969) included Steve Marriott and Peter Frampton, both on vocals and guitar, the now sadly departed Greg Ridley on bass and Jerry Shirley on drums. When Frampton left to embark on his very successful solo career, Clem Clempson from Colosseum was recruited and "Smokin' ' was the first album to feature this line-up. The Pie folded in 1975, with Shirley joining Natural Gas and Marriott embarking on a solo career, and later working with his band "Packet Of Three". Marriott revived the band in 1979 and then participated in a Small Faces reunion. He died in a fire at his house in the UK on 20 April 1991. Humble Pie reformed yet again a few years ago and released a great new album ("Back On Track", in 2002), with Bobby Tench (ex-Hummingbird) on vocals, together with Ridley, Shirley and ex-Samson guitarist Dave "Bucket" Colwell. Interestingly, Colwell also featured with the reformed Bad Company around the same time!
12). Freedom - Freestone
Freedom were a really great UK blues/hard rock band. They were formed in the late 60's by ex-Procol Harum drummer Bobby Harrison and guitarist Roy Royer. The initial line-up, which included Steve Shirley on bass and lead vocals, and Mike Lease on keyboards, recorded the soundtrack to the movie "Nerosubianco" ("Black On White") as The Freedom in the late 60's. Lease, Royer and Shirley left the band and Roger Saunders (ex-Washington DC's, on guitar - who passed away in early 2000), and bassist Walt Monaghan joined up with Harrison. The new look and harder sounding Freedom ("The" had been dropped) recorded their second album, "At Last" in 1969. The band started becoming pretty successful and used to support the likes of Black Sabbath, Curved Air and Jethro Tull.They recorded a further three albums before bassist Peter Dennis replaced Mick Abrahams Band-bound Walt Monaghan (he would also feature with If in the mid 70's) and Steve Jolly (ex Sam Apple Pie) joined Saunders on guitar. The quartet recorded what proved to be Freedom's final album, "More Than a Word", in 1972. The featured track was taken from their 4th album, "Through The Years" released in 1971. Bobby Harrison later formed SNAFU with ex-Paladin keyboard player Peter Solley and ex-Juicy Lucy guitarist Micky Moody. He recorded a solo album called "Funkist" in 1975 and later appeared with Icelandic jazz/funk outfit Mezzoforte (with whom he recorded his "Solid Silver" album in the early 80's)
13). Johnathan Martin - African Story (4'26)
South African musician Johnathan Martin is a very talented guitarist and singer, having featured with Jack Hammer. This acoustic album, released earlier this year, is called "Live at The Acoustic Cafe", and it features Stuart Ziegler and Aidan Martin, both on guitars. They do great acoustic versions of Zep's "Tangerine", Dylan's "All Along The Watchtower", The Doors' "Riders On The Storm" and others, as well as a number of self penned tracks, the featured one included. The album is available through Johnathan on 0762779416.
(Thanks to Gerard Ziegler for supplying me with a copy of the album)
14). Mel Botes - Die Reisiger (4'46)
"Oomblik Van Waansin", released in 2001, is the title of the album by one of South Africa's most respected singers, songwriters and guitarists, who masterminded the David's Confession conceptual album, "About Time", in 1999 (featured on The RockIt Scientist a number of weeks ago). He's also an accomplished actor. Produced by respected producer Peter Pearlson, the album features Clinton Waring on keyboards, Leon Ecroignard on bass, Vinnie Henrico on drums and percussion, with famed SA bassist Denny Lallouette helping out on three tracks. Visit Mel's website to read up on this very experienced and talented individual (www.melbotes.com)
15). Pendragon - Wisdom of Solomon (7'12)
UK prog band Pendragon were formed in the early 80's by guitarist and vocalist Nick Barrett, together with bassist Peter Gee, drummer Nigel Harris and keyboard player Rik Carter. They released their debut album "The Jewel" in 1984, and although the band were musically very competent and it was a good debut, they were often compared to bands such as Marillion, IQ and others, and they subsequently didn't receive the acclaim they deserved. In or around 1985, Fudge Smith replaced Nigel Harris and Clive Nolan replaced Rik Carter, and the line-up of Barrett, Gee, Nolan and Smith has remained together right up to the present day, having recorded some really amazing albums, such as "The Masquerade Overture", "The Window Of Life", "Live In Krakow 1996" and "Not Of This World", on the way. The featured track was taken from their brand new album, "Believe". Nick Barrett IS Pendragon: - he is certainly one of the prog rock scene's best and most stylish guitarists and vocalists. Thanks to Dave Kershaw for getting me a copy of the album, which is dedicated to those who lost their lives and loved ones in London on 07 July 2005.
16). Fusion Orchestra - Talk To The Man In The Sky (9'24)
This short-lived jazz/progressive rock band recorded what must rate as one of the best prog albums to come out of the UK, "Skeleton In Armour", in 1973. The musicianship from guitarists Stan Land and Colin Dawson, bassist Dave Cowell and drummer Dave Bell is flawless, the songs are strong and sophisticated and Jill Saward is brilliant on vocals, keyboards and flute! The album was originally released on EMI Records in 1973 and it's since become quite sought after and valuable. Saward joined Shakatak in the early 80's and is still with the band today. The other members of the band seemed to fade into obscurity. Highly recommended listening for anybody who enjoys progressive rock, (with a bit of a jazzy touch!)
17). Babe Ruth - Wells Fargo (6'16)
From their brilliant debut album with its Roger Dean cover, "First Base", released on EMI's progressive Harvest label in 1973. Initially known as "Shacklock", this UK hard rock outfit was formed by guitarist Alan Shacklock in Hatfield in England in 1971. Vocalist Janita "Jenny" Haan, bassist Dave Hewitt, drummer Dick Powell and keyboard player Dave Punshon completed the line-up. The band took their name from the legendary American baseball player, and were very popular, but they were plagued with personnel problems, with both Powell and Punchon departing (to be replaced by Ed Spevock and ex-Wild Turkey keyboard player Steve Gurl respectively). Their second album, "Amar Caballero" (1973), was quite popular in the US. Alan Shacklock was a great fan of the music of Ennio Morricone, hence the reason why a number of the "Spaghetti Western" themes such as "The Mexican" and "For a Few Dollars More" appear on "First Base" and the third self-titled album respectively. Shacklock left the band (he became a producer, working with the likes of Roger Daltrey, Bridge 2 Far and others) after the third album in 1975 and was replaced by Bernie Marsden (also from Wild Turkey), but the band eventually folded in 1976, after the 5th album,"Kid's Stuff", (which featured Ellie Hope on vocals, in place of Jenny Haan, who'd moved on to UK blues/rock outfit Strider, and Ray Knott, who replaced Dave Hewitt). Bernie Marsden was later involved with Whitesnake, Alaska, Moody Marsden Band, Company Of Snakes and others), and the other members of Babe Ruth ended up in 80's disco outfit Liquid Gold!
18). Julian Jay Savarin - Cycle (4'21)
This Dominican-born writer and keyboard player moved to England with his family in 1962. He soon realized that the science fiction trilogy that he'd been working on, would translate perfectly into rock context. He formed a band, called Julian's Treatment, with Australian vocalist Cathy Pruden, bassist John Dover, guitarist/flautist Del Watkins and drummer Jack Drummond, and they put together what has become one of the rarest progressive rock albums, "A Time Before This", in June 1970. Julian's Treatment unfortunately didn't last too long, and the band folded just after the album was released (on the rare Youngblood label). It would be two years before Julian Jay Savarin would attempt anything musically again. He set about recording "Waiters On The Dance", the album from which the featured track was taken, in 1973.("Waiters On The Dance" was in fact part two of the aforementioned trilogy). Cathy Pruden, in the meantime, had left to go back to Australia to get married, and Savarin managed to secure the services of Jo Meek, formerly of the jazz/rock outfit Catapilla.(Interestingly, Anna, not Jo Meek, is credited as being the singer on both Catapilla's albums. Maybe they're one and the same lady, or maybe they're sisters? Either way, great, yet very different voice!). Roger Odell, formerly of CMU, came in on drums, John Dover was on bass, and Nigel Jenkins was on guitar. This was the last piece of music Julian Jay Savarin ever wrote, except for the soundtrack to a short film called "Face Of Darkness" in the early 80's. He has, however, written many books since. Roger Odell and John Dover went on to become Shakatak's rhythm section.