The first full album from The Beau Brummels – an early Autumn Records effort before their headier days at Warner – cut with a style that could well make the group a key force to stop the British Invasion of the 60s! There's a great sense of jangle-pop throughout – a slight twang that would later unfold in different ways in Bradley's Barn, but which here works to give the tunes this little sense of sadness amidst the warmer melodies – which themselves are particularly great, and much better-crafted than some of the other US groups of this nature at the time. The boys definitely borrow a bit from The Beatles (including a name that gave them placement right next to the fab four in the record racks) – but maybe they're also drawing on some of the folk harmony groups from the SF scene they called home, too. Titles include "Laugh Laugh", "Just A Little", "Oh Lonesome Me", "They'll Make You Cry", "Stick Like Glue", "Not Too Long Ago", and "I Want More Loving". LP, Vinyl record album
An obscure set of work from George Clinton and the P-Funk empire – a selection of live material from years when George wasn't hitting the studio as much, but still doing great concerts all around the globe! There's not much in the way of dates or players here, but if you caught a Clinton performance in the 80s or early 90s, you'll know the kind of groove going on here – classic P-Funk, maybe even more energized in a live setting – on titles that include "Ain't Nothin But A Jam Y'All", "Good Love", "Bop Gun", "Aquaboogie", "Flashlight", "Standing On The Verge", "Maggot Brain", and "State Of The Nation". LP, Vinyl record album
(Limited color vinyl pressing!)
Mike Cooper —
Oh Really!? ... LP Pye/TradingPlaces (UK), 1969. New Copy (reissue)...
An early classic from British guitarist Mike Cooper – an artist who was part of that unique moment of mid 60s British blues – part folk, part rock, and with a quality that definitely paved the way for many other modes to come! The set has Mike Cooper mostly on guitar and vocals, in a style that's part Piedmont, part Delta blues – but also given a more folksy spin, and graced with Cooper's unusual vocals – almost making the whole thing feel like a spare acoustic version of Canned Heat territory – with titles that include "Maggie Campbell", "Saturday Blues", "Electric Chair", "Crow Jane", and "You're Gonna Be Sorry". LP, Vinyl record album
Groovy late 60s pop from Samantha Jones – a British singer who's working here with some great arrangements and productions from UK maestro Mark Wirtz! The sound here is a great bridge between the sweeter styles of UK Brit pop in the 60s and some of the hipper ones to come in the 70s – definitely done with an inspiration from American soul, which Samantha picks up strongly in some of her best vocals here. The backings often have a nice bit of bounce in them – similar to some of Dusty Springfield's work of the time – and although a few elements are slightly heady, the overall feel here is relatively straightforward and hook-heavy! Titles include the Wirtz originals "Until Tomorrow" and "Today (Without You)" – plus "Come To Me Slowly", "Do I Still Figure In Your Life", "Taking The Heart Out Of Love", and "A Natural Woman" – plus a great take on "I Go To Sleep". CD also features the bonus track "The TC Theme 2 (version 2)". LP, Vinyl record album
A surprisingly strong set from Osibisa – one that's got a full, rich, soulful feel – much better than we might have expected for an album recorded at the Royal Festival Hall! The venue's no surprise, though, given that Osibisa were clearly on top of their game at the time – and able to draw a big crowd at a prestigious event. The band has been expanded considerably for this live set to include extra percussion and backing vocals – all coming together with a majestic sound that almost beats the style used on some of the studio versions of these tunes! Titles include "The Dawn", "Living Loving Feeling", "Music For Gong Gong", "Sunshine Day", "Beautiful Seven Y Sharp", and a nice take on Roland Kirk's "Spirits Up Above". LP, Vinyl record album
An overlooked gem from Tear Gas – a Scottish group who never got the same sort of credit as some of their UK contemporaries at the start of the 70s – but who really made a few great records on their own! This set's got a strange mix of California currents with some of the post-psyche hard rock styles that were bubbling under in the new English generations – occasional hints of rural sensibilities mixed with tighter, fuzzier guitars – often set to lyrics that can be surprisingly thoughtful, and way more than just a filler between the fuzz. Titles include "Mirrors Of Sorrow", "Living For Today", "Lost Awakening", "Your Woman's Gone & Left You", "Night Girl", "I'm Fallin Far Behind", and "Witches Come Today". LP, Vinyl record album
Catapilla ... LP Vertigo/TradingPlaces (UK), 1971. New Copy Gatefold (reissue)...
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A tremendous debut from a group who've clearly got as many hands at work as the creature from which they take their name – a really deft blend of prog rock, fusion, and some occasional hard rock touches – served up here on two especially nice long tracks that bracket each end of the set! The group features female singer Anna Meek on vocals – but she shines the most on the two shorter tracks on the record – "Promises" and "Tumbleweed" – while the rest of the group jam in a mighty jazz/rock mode, really topping the best of the Brit scene of the period, and living up to the Vertigo Records faith in the group – with tenor from Hugh Eaglestone; soprano, alto, and tenor from Robert Calvert; and tenor, alto, flute, and clarinet from Thierry Reinhardt – a trio of players who make music that's way different, and much jazzier than just the occasional tenorist in a rock group. Graham Wilson provides heavy guitar – and the two long tracks are "Naked Death" and "Embryonic Fusion". LP, Vinyl record album
Changes ... LP Vertigo/TradingPlaces (UK), 1972. New Copy Gatefold (reissue)...
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Mindblowing work from Catapilla – one of the most striking groups on the legendary Vertigo label – and an act who seemed to be a perfect fit for its groundbreaking mix of sounds! Catapilla are definitely prog, but have their own sort of vision too – one that comes across beautifully on the album's long-spun tracks, which feature these really eerie vocals from female singer Anna Meek, who often vocalizes more than lyricizes – in a lineup that features heady guitar from Graham Wilson, organ and keyboards from Ralph Rolinson, and some specially cool soprano, alto, and tenor sax from Robert Calvert – who often plays electrified versions of those instruments! At times, Meek has almost a Norma Winstone sort of quality, but a bit trippier overall – and titles include "It Could Only Happen To Me", "Thank Christ For George", "Charing Cross", and "Reflections". LP, Vinyl record album
(Great reissue – with the shaped die-cut cover of the original!)
One of the coolest records from this Bay Area electronic duo – a set that features a mix of analogue instruments with mono synths and Lyricons – including the Lyricon Electronic Wind Instrument – which is kind of a mix of analogue electronics and clarinet! The set was recorded on a 4 track, in the duo's home – and originally only issued on cassette. First time ever on vinyl – with titles that include "Valley Of The Birds", "Through The Garden Of Mirrors", "Photonos", "Rainforest", and "The Dragon's Gate". LP, Vinyl record album
An unusual record for Astrud Gilberto – one that has her updating her older sound by working with Philly producer Vince Montana! The approach blends Montana's Philly club in with Astrud's gently bossa-schooled vocals – in a way that glides along nicely and offers the same sort of disco-fied version of styles that were showing up in other genres at the time. The strength, though, is that since Astrud had already cut a funkier album earlier in the 70s for Perception, she was a bit better prepared to handle the session than you might guess – and the overall arrangements still have some stylistic links back to her older work. Arrangements are by Vince Montana, Don Sebesky, and Al Gorgoni – and titles include "Black Magic", "Meu Piao", "All I've Got", "Love For Sale", and the creepy "Puppy Song"! LP, Vinyl record album
An incredible debut from British singer Bridget St John – a set with the same spare, chilling quality as Nico's first album on Verve! Like Nico, Bridget is amazingly without categorization – a folksinger initially, but one who's working here with a darkly personal quality that goes far beyond most folk work of the 60s! There's almost a Leonard Cohen-like quality to the tracks here – as they're little song-paintings in words that accomplish a tremendous amount with very little – evocative portraits and landscapes that need little more than Bridget's voice and guitar to carry them off. Titles include "Autumn Lullaby", "Like Never Before", "Barefeet & Hot Pavement", "I Like To Be With You In The Sun", "Many Happy Returns", and "Ask Me No Questions". LP, Vinyl record album
Sir Lord Baltimore —
Kingdom Come ... LP Mercury/TradingPlaces (UK), 1970. New Copy Gatefold (reissue)...
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Sir Lord Baltimore may have a British-sounding name – but the group are a trio from Brooklyn, and serve up a blistering pre-metal version of hard rock that maybe blows away some of their English contemporaries at the time! There's a tremendous amount of power going on here – heavy bass from Gary Justin, searing guitars from Louis Dampier, and monstrous drums from John Garner, who somehow manages to also give out these raw, eerie vocals while also completely destroying the drum kit – all with energy that really prefaces a metal generation to come – but with a stripped-down vibe that's completely free of hoke. Titles include "Master Headache", "Helium Head", "Pumped Up", "Kingdom Come", "Hell Hound", "I Got A Woman", "Lake Isle Of Innisfree", and "Ain't Got Hung On You". LP, Vinyl record album
Meat Heat ... LP Contempo/TradingPlaces (UK), Mid 70s. New Copy (reissue)...
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A record that's maybe worth it alone for the cover, but which also has some mighty nice grooves within – the strangely-titled second album from the mysterious British studio group Ultrafunk! The tracks are long, and definitely show some nods to the growing disco scene – but as with the group's debut, there's a strong focus on tight instrumentation in a live setting – well-crafted musicianship arranged by Gerry Shury and Gordon Hunte – in a mix of funky covers and originals! Tracks are long, and have some Euro club elements in the mix – including some stepping strings over the basslines that drive the main train – topped with guitar lines and keyboard parts to really give things focus. Titles include "Meat Heat", "Temptation", "Gotham City Boogie", "I Wish", and "Sunrise". LP, Vinyl record album
Alexis Korner Blues Incorporated —
Red Hot From Alex ... LP TradingPlaces (UK), 1964. New Copy (reissue)...
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Killer early work from Alexis Korner – a British singer and guitarist who's too often lumped into the blues-rock world – but who always has a heck of a lot more to offer than you might think! Korner's kind of a lost figure on these shores – but his work on an album like this is a fantastic mix of British rock, blues roots, and a dose of some of the jazz and soul inspiration that was hitting the mod scene – served up by a group that features some great organ from Ron Edgeworth, and even some early saxophone work from later jazz giants Dick Heckstall Smith and Art Theman! As proof of the jazz orientation, the group takes on versions of Charles Mingus "Haitian Fight Song" and Jimmy Smith's "Back To The Chicken Shack" – amongst other tunes that include "Jones", "Cabbage Greens", "Woke Up This Morning", "Skippin", "It's Happening", "Herbie's Tune", and "Roberta" – the last of which features guest vocals from Herbie Goins. LP, Vinyl record album
Fantastic longform work from Jan Dukes De Grey – a group who mix together prog and folk elements in a really wonderful style – then spin things out over a trio of very long tracks on the record! The charms of the group are a bit hard to describe, but immediately evident on record – especially when the vocals come into play, as they've got these elements that almost echo more avant garde jazz styles of singing. Yet the instrumentation is pretty great too – and side two seems to be mostly instrumental – served up by a lineup that includes guitar, trumpet, trombone, drums, flute, clarinet, saxes, and the unusual Zelda Chord. Titles include "Call Of The Wild", "Mice & Rats In The Loft", and "Sun Symphonica". LP, Vinyl record album
Emerald Web —
Sound Trek ... LP TradingPlaces (UK), 1980. New Copy Gatefold (reissue)...
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Dreamy sounds from the enigmatic Emerald Web duo – a pair who've attained legendary status over the years for their sublime blend of keyboard styles and more acoustic elements – an approach that often has flute layered over keys, in a way that's both spacey and organic at the same time! Emerald Web were maybe a bit out of time – too late to be prog rockers, but also too early to be part of any new age or 4AD-type scenes – which is what makes the instrumental musings on a record like this so great – as they really stand apart from other periods of similar expression, and have a vibe that's very much the duo's own. There's a lightly poetic quality to the work, but one that's never too drippy – and titles include "Voice Of The Sage", "Earthrails", "The Moving Mountains", "Stellar Wanderer", and "Beyond The Towers". LP, Vinyl record album