01. Keef Hartley Band - Sinnin' For You
From "Halfbreed" in 1969, their debut album. UK drummer Keef Hartley had previously replaced Ringo Starr in Rory Storm & The Hurricanes, and he'd also featured with The Artwoods before joining John Mayall's Bluesbreakers from mid 1967 'til 1968. Embarking on a solo career in late 1968, he formed his own band with vocalist/guitarist Miller Anderson, keyboard player Peter Dines, second guitarist Spit James, bassist Gary Thain and horn and reed players Harold Beckett, Henry Lowther, Chris Mercer and Lyn Dobson. They signed to the prestigious Deram label and recorded the debut album in three days. Hartley was quite colorful figure, as well as a pretty good drummer, and he often dressed as a native American Indian, complete with war-paint and head-dress. They were one of the few British bands to appear at Woodstock where they went down pretty well. A total of six great albums were released between 1969 and 1972 under The Keef Hartley Band name and then a final one as a Keef Hartley solo album ("Lancashire Hustler") with various session players such as Phil Chen and Jess Roden. Gary Thain went on to find fame and form with Uriah Heep, although he tragically died as a result of an accidental drugs overdose on December 15,1975. Miller Anderson, together with Chris Mercer and Pete Dines, formed Hemlock in 1973 with drummer Eric Dillon, bassist Jim Leverton and vocalist Eric Stewart, before rejoining Keef Hartley in Dog Soldier in 1975.(See entry on Dog Soldier further on in this week's playlist). A really great guitarist and the possessor of a fantastic voice, he also released a solo album ("Bright City") in 1971 and a further one (''Celtic Moon") about five years ago. Keef Hartley, who's also had links with Vinegar Joe, was a very important and respected musician in the British blues scene during the late 60's/early 70's, and the albums he recorded under the Keef Hartley Band name are still highly regarded. Most of the albums (if not all of them) have recently been re-released on cd. They're all highly recommended, although the stand-out ones are "Halfbreed", ''The Time Is Near", ''Overdog" and "Little Big Band".
02. Greatest Show on Earth - Borderline
Taken from the second and final album to be released by this fantastic UK brass rock outfit, called "The Going's Easy", in 1970. Formed by brothers Norman and Garth Watt-Roy on bass and guitarist respectively, they actually started out as soul band in the late 60's, and their first vocalist was an American chap called Ozzie Lane. He returned to New Orleans and was replaced by vocalist/guitarist/flautist Colin Horton-Jennings. The other musicians were Ron Prudence on drums and percussion, Mick Deacon on keyboards, Ian Aitchison and Tex Phillpotts on saxes, and Dick Hanson on trumpet and flugel horn. Signed to EMI's progressive Harvest label, they released their debut album, ''Horizons" in early 1970 and then the featured album later the same year. Whilst both albums were very good, "The Going's Easy" was considered to be the better of the two, and the featured track, together with "The Leader", became their trademark. When the band split in mid 1971, the various members went on to other bands and artists as diverse as Glencoe, Taggett, East of Eden, Fuzzy Duck, Vinegar Joe, Ian Dury & The Blockheads and others. The Repertoire release of "The Going's Easy" features "Mountain Song", previously only released as a single in September 1970.
03). Alan Bown - Loosen Up
Alan Bown was a British trumpet player who'd been in The John Barry Seven. He formed his very popular soul and blues band in the mid 60's, initially as The Alan Bown Set, later changed to The Alan Bown! Jess Roden was the original vocalist in the band, together with bassist Stan Haldane (an unheralded and under-rated bass player if there ever was one!), sax player John Helliwell, keyboard player Jeff Bannister, drummer Vic Sweeney and guitarist Tony Catchpole. They released their (now very rare and very collectible!)debut album "Outward Bown" in 1967. Jess Roden then left the group (he later appeared with the likes of Keef Hartley, Bronco, The Butts Band and others, as well as recording as a successful soloist), and was replaced by Robert Palmer, who appeared on the band's follow-up album, "The Alan Bown", in 1968 (also released on CD as "Kick Me Out"). Palmer left in 1970 to join Dada, which metamorphosized into Vinegar Joe, and he was replaced by Gordon Neville. The Alan Bown recorded two further albums between 1970 ("Listen", from which the featured track was taken) and 1971 ("Stretching Out") before splitting. Bown joined Jonesy and featured on their "Keeping Up" and "Growing" albums, both released in 1973, and later went on to work in the A & R department at CBS Records. Sax player John Helliwell joined Supertramp in 1973, Vic Sweeney joined Kevin Coyne, Jeff Bannister went on to become a founding member of Starry Eyed and Laughing and later appeared with The O Band, and Gordon Neville sang with Rick Wakeman, Beggars Opera and Elton John.
04). Budgie - Rape Of The Locks
From their self-titled debut album in 1971. Budgie were formed in Cardiff, Wales, in the late 60's. Tony Bourge was on guitar, Burke Shelley on bass and vocals and Ray Phillips was on drums. This line-up stayed together for three albums ("Budgie", "Squawk" in 1972 and "Never Turn Your Back On a Friend" in 1973) before Pete Boot came in on drums and he appeared on 1974's "In For The Kill" album. (Ray Phillips formed Tredegar when he left Budgie. He then resurrected Six Ton Budgie, Budgie's original name, in 1992). Pete Boot was in turn replaced by Steve Williams, who remained with the band until the final studio album, "Deliver Us From Evil", in 1982. Tony Bourge left Budgie after their "Impeckable" album in 1977 (he appeared with Ray Phillips in Freez in 1978, and the two of them were in Tredegar in the early 80's), leaving Burke Shelley as the only remaining original member. John Thomas, ex-George Hatcher Band guitarist, joined Budgie in about 1978 and the band embarked on an extended US tour, returning to the UK to record their "Power Supply" album in 1980. Two further albums, "Night Flight" and "Deliver Us From Evil" (with Duncan Mackay on keyboards), were released in 1981 and 1982 respectively, but even though both albums and Budgie's new found AC/DC-style boogie were well received, real success eluded them and they disbanded. Burke Shelley and Steve Williams revived the band in the 90's with guitarist Andy Hart and they released the fantastic "Life in San Antonio, Texas" album in 2002. An album of previously unreleased Budgie tracks recorded between 1979 and 1985, called "The Final Stage", was recently released. The album contains the only Budgie track to feature ex-Trapeze guitarist Rob Kendrick. Budgie fans will be very pleased to know that they're still around today and a new studio album is just about to be released.
05). Big George and The Business - Thunderbolt
From "The Alleged Album" in 1989, the independently released debut album from this great Scottish blues/rock guitarist, whose real name is George Ross Watt. He started playing the guitar in 1973 and ended up being hired by bassist Jimmy Dewar, of Stone The Crows and Robin Trower fame. He was with Dewar for four years before ill health forced Dewar to quit the business (he subsequently died a few years ago). Big George then set about looking for musicians to start his own band, which he formed in around 1987. The band, which featured Greg Orr on drums and Tam McLucas (Shifty) on bass, toured relentlessly and built up a strong following, which led to the recording and release of "The Alleged Album", which featured the best version of "I'd Rather Go Blind" you're ever likely to hear. Big George's singing and playing on the long, slow blues numbers "Late Last Night" and "The Storm" is absolutely stunning! Make no mistake, though, when they kick butt on tracks such as the featured number, you know you're being kicked! They toured Germany, the UK, Switzerland and Belgium and supported the likes of Buddy Guy, Mick Tayor and Bo Diddley at the Montreal Blues Festival in 1992. A second album, "All Fools Day", with the same line-up, was released in 1993. This album found the band using keyboards, sax, fiddle and backing female vocals, combining nicely with the power of a very competent blues/rock trio. The band then released a live album, "Live In London", in 1995, with a live video being released around the same time. They then moved to Ozit Records in 1998 and released "Home Of The Wolf" (this was under the name "George Ross Watt and The Business"). Ozit Records have subsequently re-released all the albums and put out a compilation called "The Legend So Far". Big George would appear to have disappeared from the scene as no (known) further albums have since been recorded.
06). Blue Cheer - Down and Dirty
Arguably one of the loudest bands of all time! They were also one of the forerunners of the Stoner rock movement. Formed in San Francisco in the mid to late 60's and managed by an ex-Hell's Angel, they started out as a power rock trio with Dickie Peterson on bass and vocals, Paul Whaley on drums and Leigh Stevens on guitar. They signed to Philips Records and released their debut album, "Vincebus Eruptum" in 1968. This album contained two of their best known tracks, "Parchment Farm" and "Summertime Blues", although their versions of these famous standards are a tad different and a tad more raucous than the originals! Their next album, ''Outside Inside", released the same year, was apparently recorded outside the studio because they were too loud to be IN the studio! They went on to release a further four albums between 1969 and 1971, with various musicians such as Ralph Burns Kellogg (keyboards), Bruce Stevens (guitars), Randy Holden (guitars), Gary Yoder (guitar/harp/vocals), Norman Mayell (drums), Reuben De Fuentes (guitars) and Jerry Peterson (guitars) joining the band at various times. They split in the mid 70's and reformed for a short time in the mid 80's, releasing "The Beast Is Back", with Peterson, Whaley and guitarist Tony Rainier, in 1985. Little came of this reformation and they folded again, reforming in the late 80's. The line-up at that stage was Peterson, Dave Salce on drums and Andrew "Duck" MacDonald on guitar, and they released the powerful "Blitzkrieg Over Nuremberg" album in 1988. Blue Cheer were sounding better and better - they'd not only retained the energy and ferocity that had made them such a powerhouse in the rock world, they'd "matured" into a tight, cohesive unit, capable of writing and performing great songs, as is evident on the featured album, ''Highlights and Lowlives", which came out in 1990. In 1991, they released ''Dining With The Sharks", with guitarist Dieter Saller. Blue Cheer then seemed to do their famous disappearing act again: the next album only came out in 1999: ''Hello Tokyo Bye Bye Osaka: Live In Japan", featured Peterson, Whaley and MacDonald. Dickie Peterson has also released a few solo albums, as have Leigh Stevens and Randy Holden, and to demonstrate how respected this legendary band were, an album called ''Blue Explosion - A Tribute To Blue Cheer", featuring bands such as Standarte, Garybaldi, Wicked Minds and others, all doing Blue Cheer covers, was released about five years ago.
07). Red Rooster - Wish You Were Here
Red Rooster are a Dutch blues/rock quintet, fronted by vocalist Ann Van Canegem, who sounds a bit like Babe Ruth's Jenny Haan. The other members are Walter Stes on bass, Geert Haek on guitar, Didier Feys on drums and Lieven Huys on guitar and keyboards. The track was taken from their "On The Move" album, released in 1990.
08). Big Brother & The Holding Company - I Need a Man To Love
Big Brother and The Holding Company are best known for being one of the bands fronted by Janis Joplin in the late 60's. Initially known as The Blue Yard Hill (they were apparently nearly called Tom Swift and His Electric Grandmother!), the original line-up included bassist/guitarist Pete Albin, guitarists Sam Andrew and James Gurley and drummer Dave Getz, together with Janis Joplin on vocals. They released their debut album, "Big Brother", in 1967. It was fairly well received, but the follow-up, "Cheap Thrills", released the following year, reached number 1 on the US charts! Joplin then left the band and found a new backing band, The Full Tilt Boogie Band, and she would go on to find further fame and fortune as a soloist before dying of a heroin overdose on October 4th, 1970, just over two weeks after excess had claimed the life of another legend, Jimi Hendrix. Big Brother went on to release a few more albums, ("Be A Brother" and "How Hard It Is") with Nick Gravenites (Electric Flag) on vocals before splitting in 1972. Pete Albin joined vocalist Robert Hunter and featured on Janis Joplin's "Live" album, as well as with Country Joe & The Fish, Sam Andrew featured with drummer/vocalist Mickey Hart and he also featured on Joplin's solo albums, whilst Dave Getz also appeared with Country Joe & The Fish. The three reformed Big Brother and The Holding Company in the late 90's and recruited new singer, Lisa Battle and guitarist Dave Finch, and they released this great new album, "Do What You Love", in 2000. The featured track is a stunning version of the number originally written by Joplin and which originally appeared on ''Cheap Thrills". Lisa Battle may not be Janis Joplin, but she does a fantastic job of covering this and other Big Brother classics, together with a few new tracks.
09). Lee Aaron and the Swingin' Barflys - Evil Gal Blues
From "Slick Chick", in 2000. Canadian Lee Aaron (real name Karen Lynn Greening) is best known as a hard rock singer, having started out under the banner of The Lee Aaron Project in the early 80's. She released her debut "Lee Aaron Project" album in 1982, with backing from musicians from Triumph, Moxy and Santers. She went on to release a further six albums, working with musicians such as John Albani (Wrabit) and George Bernhardt. She then seemed to fade into obscurity before coming up with this great jazz album. Not only blessed with stunning looks, she's also extremely talented, patently just as comfortable as a jazz singer as she is as a rock singer. She recently released a new rock album. The Swingin' Barflies joining her on this great album are Graham Howell on sax, Don Short on drums, Danny Parker on bass and Jane Milliken on keyboards.
10). Bachman-Turner Overdrive - Blue Collar
Bachman-Turner Overdrive, or BTO, as they were known, were a Canadian hard rock hit writing machine! They were formed in Vancouver in 1972 by former Guess Who and Brave Belt guitarist/vocalist Randy Bachman, who also recorded a solo album, called ''Axe", after leaving The Guess Who in 1970. Brave Belt released two moderately successful albums for Reprise Records, but The Guess Who were quite popular. Joining Randy Bachman were his brothers Tim on rhythm guitar and vocals and Rob on drums, together with C.F.Turner on bass and vocals. They signed to Mercury Records and released their self-titled debut album, from which the featured track was taken, in 1973, and they were an immediate hit. Tim Bachman then departed and was replaced by Blair Thornton, and, after constant touring in the US, their second album, "Bachman-Turner Overdrive 2", released in 1974, provided their breakthrough, reaching number 4 in the US and yielding their first major hit, "Takin' Care of Business". The follow up album, "Not Fragile", released later the same year, proved to be their most popular album, topping the US charts and also doing very well in the UK. Two further albums, ''Four Wheel Drive" and "Head On" were released in 1974 and 1975 respectively before Randy Bachman left to form Iron Horse. He also recorded as a soloist, and later formed Union. Jim Clench, ex-April Wine, was his replacement, and appeared on the band's 1977 album, "Freeways". The band officially changed its name to BTO in 1978 and two further albums, "Street Action" and "Rock 'n Roll Nights" were released, but these albums passed relatively unnoticed, and the band were put on ice until 1984, when Randy and Tim Bachman, together with C.F.Turner, revived the band and released "Bachman-Turner Overdrive". The band continued to tour into the early 90's, but no further recordings were made. A new BTO line-up, featuring C.F. Turner on bass and lead vocals, Blair Thornton and Randy Murray on guitars and vocals and Robin Bachman on drums, released an album called "Trial By Fire" in 1996.
11). Vargas Blues Band - Illegally
Javier Vargas is a fantastic Spanish blues/rock guitarist. The album, "Madrid - Chicago" was recorded in 2002. Not much info available, although he would appear to have released quite a few albums in his native Spain. He's recently released a new album with the likes of Glenn Hughes and other well known musicians.
12). Mario Millo - Soulful Experience
From "Oceans Of The Mind" in 2001, his 3rd solo album. Mario Millo is a brilliant Australian guitarist who used to front Australian prog rock outfits Sebastian Hardie and Windchase. Sebastian Hardie formed in Sydney as Sebastian Hardie Blues Band in the mid 60's and were led by vocalist Jon English, although he left in 1971 to play Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar. They released a number of singles during 1973, and when Millo joined later that year, they developed into one of Australia's best progressive bands, drawing influences from Genesis, Focus and Yes. They released two great albums, "Four Moments" in 1974 and "Windchase" in 1976 before Sebastian Hardie evolved into Windchase. Windchase released one album, ''Symphinity", in 1977. The original Sebastian Hardie reformed in the early to mid 90's and played a stunning concert at the Progfests in Los Angeles, which was recorded and released as "Live in L.A" (some material was also released on video). Millo was also in an outfit called Men From Mars, although it's not known if any official recordings were released by this group. Musicians on "Oceans Of The Mind" include bassist Jeff Camilleri and drummer Robbie Siracusa (both of whom were in Windchase), backing vocalists Jess Millo and Dave Wilkins, and synthesizer player David Hirschfelder. Mario Millo is a very skilled, melodic and tasteful guitarist, and this album is certainly worthwhile adding to the collection, although you probably won't readily find it in your friendly local store! You can order it as well as the Sebastian Hardie and Windchase albums online,
by visiting www.mariomillo.com.
13). Holy Mackerel - Oh!
Holy Mackerel were a short-lived UK rock whose music had elements of folk, country and melodic hard rock, similar in style to Home, Bronco and Stackridge. They evolved out of a late 60's psychedelic outfit called "Jason Crest", which featured guitarist Derek Smallcombe, vocalist Terry Clark and drummer Roger Siggery. Guitarist Chris Ware and bassist Tony Wood joined, and their rare and collectible self-titled sole album was released in 1972. Tracks for a mooted second album were recorded, but it never materialized
14). Dog Soldier - Pillar To Post
(See write-up on Keef Hartley Band in this week's playlist). When Keef Hartley folded his band in the early seventies, he formed the short-lived Dog Soldier with ex-Keef Hartley Band/Hemlock guitarist Miller Anderson in 1975. The other members included guitarist Derek Griffiths (who'd been with Hartley in The Artwoods in the early to mid sixties, and also with Mike Cotton Sound and Satisfaction), bassist Paul Bliss and keyboard player Mel Simpson. They released just the one self-titled album on the United Artists label in 1975. Paul Bliss later formed The Bliss Band, which featured ex-Beggars Opera keyboard player, Alan Park, in 1978, and he featured with The Hollies and Graham Nash. Miller Anderson went on to feature in the very under-rated Broken Glass with Stan Webb, Robbie Blunt, Mac Poole, Tony Ashton and Rob Rawlinson.
15). Spooky Tooth - Wildfire
From "You Broke My Hear So I Busted Your Jaw", in 1973, their 5th album. Spooky Tooth were a UK outfit, formed in late 1967 out of the ashes of Art, who initially started out as the V.I.P's. The original line-up included American keyboard player Gary Wright, who'd previously featured in a band called New York Times. The band also included a great vocalist in Mike Harrison, as well as guitarist Luther Grosvenor, who later joined Mott The Hoople, changing his name to Ariel Bender! (The now late) Greg Ridley was on bass and Mike Kellie was on drums. They signed to the Island Record label and released their debut album, "It's All About a Roundabout", in 1969. The second album, ''Spooky Two", saw the band moving into heavier territory, with a lot of emphasis on Wright's great keyboard work. Greg Ridley then left the band to join Humble Pie, and was replaced by Steve Thompson (ex-John Mayall). The third album, the very experimental "Ceremony", which they recorded with French electronics wizard Pierre Henry, proved to be a bit of a disaster, and the band actually split for a while, with Gary Wright going on to form Wonderwheel. (He'd also started recording a soloist at that stage, and released his first of many solo albums, "Extraction", in 1970).
Spooky Tooth reformed and released ''The Last Puff", with ex-Grease Band members Henry McCulloch on guitar and Alan Spenner on bass, together with Chris Stainton on keyboards. Although the album was quite well received in the US, it faltered in their home country and the band folded again. Mike Harrison released his first solo album in late 1971, and in 1972, Harrison and Wright reformed the band with bassist Chris Stewart, guitarist Mick Jones and drummer Bryson Graham. This was the line-up that appeared on the featured album, as well as on the second last album, "Witness'', which came out in 1973 and which was also their final album for Island Records (although Bryson Graham had been replaced by the returning Mike Kellie for this album). Spooky Tooth's final album, "The Mirror", which came out in 1974, was also one of their best: it featured vocalist Mike Patto (ex-Timebox/Patto) and bassist Val Burke. Unfortunately the band split for good in the mid seventies and Mick Jones went on to find fame and fortune as a founding member of Foreigner and Gary Wright became a successful soloist. Mike Harrison later featured with the Hamburg Blues Band. Spooky Tooth reformed (Kellie, Harrison, Grosvenor and Ridley) in the late 90's and released "Cross Purpose" in 1999, and a live album, ''Spooky Tooth - Live in Europe", featuring previously unreleased live material recorded between 1967 and 2001, was released in 2001.
16). Mellow Candle - Heaven Heath
Taken from "Swaddling Songs", one of the rarest and most collectible albums in the folk/rock world. Released on the Deram label in 1972, it's one of the most sought after albums, next to Leafhound's ''Growers Of Mushroom" and Megaton's self-titled album. Mellow Candle were an Irish folk/rock outfit, formed in 1968 as a quintet, initially by singer and pianist Clodagh Simonds and singer Alison Williams (O'Donnell), when they were 14 years old. (Clodagh started singing when she was 11 years old). "Swaddling Songs" was one of the finest albums of the genre and it's a mystery why it didn't receive the acclaim it deserved at the time. If you missed out on it when it first came out, be prepared to pay BIG bucks for a copy of the vinyl, if you can find it! Both girls featured with Thin Lizzy on their "Shades Of A Blue Orphanage" album in 1972 and Clodagh sang on Jade Warrior's "Kites" album in 1976. Alison would later marry guitarist Dave Williams and they moved to South Africa, forming Flibbertigibbet in the late 70's, with Dave joining the SABC in Cape Town. An album of unreleased Mellow Candle material, called "The Virgin Prophet", was released in the 90's.
17). Asgaerd - In The Realm of Asgaerd
Asgaerd were a UK progressive rock band with folk and Celtic undertones. The band members were bassist Dave Cook, drummer, Ian Snow, vocalist James Smith, guitarist/vocalist Rodney Harrison, violinist Peter Orgil and vocalist Ted Bartlett. Their sole album, "In The Realm of Asgaerd", was released on the Moody Blues' Threshold label in 1972. Evolving out of a band called "Stonehouse", they showed much promise, but faded into obscurity in the early 70's.
18). Trees - Fool
Trees were a fantastic UK progressive folk/rock outfit who were formed in 1969. Similar in style to bands like Mellow Candle and Fairport Convention, they were led by a very talented lady singer called Celia Humphris, and the band included Unwin Brown on drums and vocals, David Costa on guitar, Bisa Boshell on vocals, bass and guitar and Barby Clarke on guitar, with violinist Chuck Fleming and bassist Barry Lyons joining later on. They released two very collectible albums, "In The Garden Of Jane Delawney" in 1970, and ''On The Shore", from which the featured track was taken, in the same year. When the band folded, Lyons and Fleming joined Mr. Fox.
19). Every Which Way - Are You Lonely
This was a short-lived UK quintet formed by ex-Nice drummer Brian Davison and ex-Skip Biffery vocalist Graham Bell, together with guitarist John Hedley, flautist Geoff Deach and bassist Alan Cartwright. They released just the one self-titled album in 1970 and folded. Davison later formed Refugee with Yes keyboard player Patrick Moraz, Bell joined Arc and Cartwright moved to Procol Harum.
20). Ekseption -The Peruvian Flute
From "Trinity" in 1973, their 6th album. This famous Dutch classical jazz/rock outfit was formed by keyboard player Rick Van Der Linden in the late 60's. They released their self-titled debut in 1969 and released a further five albums, including "Trinity" before Van Der Linden left to form Trace. They adopted a more jazz/funk direction after he left (he was replaced by Hans Jensen), although Van Der Linden returned in 1978 and released a few more albums with the band. He's also released a number of solo albums. Ekseption were known for their pop-rock adaptations of classical music, and their idea was to turn well known classical pieces into modern rock instrumentals.