Tuesday, October 27, 2020

The Doors - Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine (1972)

(U.S 1965 - 1973)

Originally released in 1972, Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mine was one of the earliest "best-of" Doors collections, compiling 22 tracks (on double LP) and 19 tracks (Cassette), not just limited to their many ubiquitous hits but including some more experimental tunes and a few obscure B-sides. This strange and sprawling playlist is heavy on material from L.A. Woman, and seems particularly invested in the darker, more sinister side of the band.

Lesser-known songs here include "Who Scared You" and the goofy, awkward blues run "(You Need Meat) Don't Go No Further" sung by keyboardist Ray Manzarek. With the exception of a few pop moments, this lengthy collection sets a heavy and sometimes menacing mood, highlighting the Doors' most depraved, shamanistic moments in tracks like the brooding "The End," "Maggie McGill," and the absolutely evil groove of "When the Music's Over."

Two of the songs on the compilation, "Who Scared You" and "(You Need Meat) Don't Go No Further," were originally released as B-sides to 1969's "Wishful Sinful" and 1971's "Love Her Madly," respectively. They were not available again until "Who Scared You" appeared in The Doors: Box Set in 1997 and "(You Need Meat) Don't Go No Further" appeared in the 2006 Perception box set.

The version of "Who Scared You" that was released on The Doors: Box Set is an edited version, as part of the last verse is omitted. The full length song was released in 1999 on Essential Rarities and later on the 2006 remastered release of The Soft Parade as a bonus track.

Unlike the previous compilation "13", this collection focuses less on obvious hits but more on the band's musical diversity, avant-garde and "progressive" leaning. Only the song "The Soft Parade" is missing from the picture that was supposed to present more artistic and less commercial aspect of The Doors. Irrespective, this is an excellent compilation and together with "13" can offer a compact package of this band's musical importance in the context of 20th century popular culture, for those who had no wish to collect individual albums.

Official Band Member Biographies

Robbie Krieger (Guitar)
FULL REAL NAME: Robert Alan Krieger
BIRTH DATE & PLACE: January 8, 1946, in Los Angeles

The first music I heard that I liked was Peter and the Wolf. I accidentally sat and broke the record (I was about seven). Then I listened to rock'n'roll - l listened to the radio a lot - Fats
Domino, Elvis, The Platters.
I started surfing at fourteen. There was lots of classical music in my house. My father liked march music. There was a piano at home. I studied trumpet at ten, but nothing come of it.
Then I started playing blues on the piano - no lessons though. When I was seventeen, I started playing guitar. I used my friend's guitar. I didn't get my own until I was eighteen. It was a Mexican flamenco guitar. I took flamenco lessons for a few months. I switched around from folk to flamenco to blues to rock 'n' roll.

Records got me into the blues. Some of the newer rock 'n' roll, such as The Paul Butterfield Blues
Band. lf it hadn't been for Butterfield going electric, I probably wouldn't have gone rock 'n' roll.
I didn't plan on rock 'n' roll. I wanted to learn jazz; I got to know some people doing
rock 'n' roll with jazz, and I thought I could make money playing music.
In rock 'n' roll you can realize anything that you can in Jazz or anything. There's no
limitation other than the beat. You have more freedom than you do in anything except Jazz-
which is dying - as far as making any money is concerned.

In The Doors we have both musicians and poets, and both know of each other's art, so
we can effect a synthesis. In the case of Tim Buckley or Dylan you have one man's ideas. Most
groups today aren't groups. ln a true group all the members create the arrangements among

John Densmore (Drums)
FULL REAL NAME, John Paul Densmore
BIRTH DATE & PLACE, December 1, 1944, in Santa Monica, California

I've been playing for six years. l don't really have too much to say about all of this. l took piano lessons when l was ten. My parents tried to get me to play Bach. They tried for two years.
When I was in junior high I got my first set of drums. I played symphonic music in high school (tympani snare), then I played jazz for three years. I used to play sessions in Compton and Topanga Canyon. Since last year it's been rock 'n' roll and these creeps.

Ray Manzarek   (Organ) 
FULL REAL NAM:  Raymond Daniel Manzarek
BIRTH DATE & PLACE: February 12, l939, in Chicago

I grew up in Chicago and left when I was 21 for Los Angeles. My parents gave me piano lessons when I was around nine or ten. I hated it for the first four years - until I learned how to do it - then it became fun, which is about the same time I first heard Negro music. I was about 12 or 13, playing baseball in a playground; someone had a radio tuned into a Negro station.

From then on l was hooked, I used to listen to Al Benson and Big Bill Hill - they were disk jockeys in Chicago. From then on all the music I listened to was on the radio. My piano playing
changed; I became influenced by Jazz. I learned how to play that stride piano with my left hand, and I knew that was it: stuff with a beat - jazz, blues, rock.
At school l was primarily interested in film. It seemed to combine my interests in drama,
visual art, music and the profit motive. Before I left Chicago I was interested in theatre. These
days, I think we want our theatre, our entertainment to be larger than life. I think the total
environmental thing will come in. Probably Cinerama will develop further.

I think The Doors is a representative American group. America is a melting pot and so
are we. Our influences spring from a myriad of sources which we have amalgamated, blending
divergent styles into our own thing. We're like the country itself. America must seem to be a
ridiculous hodgepodge to an outsider. It's like The Doors. We come from different areas,
different musical areas. We're put together with a lot of sweat, a lot of fighting. All of the
things people say about America can be said about The Doors.
All of us have the freedom to explore ond improvise within a framework. Jim is an
improviser with words.

Jim Morrison (Vocals / Lyrics)
FULL REAL NAME, James Douglas Morrison
BIRTH DATE & PLACE, December 8, 1943, Melbourne, Florida

You could say it's an that I was ideally suited for the work I am doing. It's the feeling of a bowstring being pulled back for 22 years and suddenly being let go. I am primarily an American, second, a Californian, third, a Los Angeles resident. I've always been attracted to ideas that were about revolt against authority. I like ideas about the breaking away or overthrowing of established order. 

I am interested in anything about revolt, disorder, chaos - especially activity that seems to have no meaning. It seems to me to be the road toward freedom - external revolt is a way to bring about internal freedom. Rather than starting inside, I start outside - reach the mental through the physical.
I am a Sagittarian - if astrology has anything to do with it - the Centaur - the Archer - The Hunt - But the main thing is that we are The Doors.

This post consists of FLACs ripped from my trusty Elektra Cassette Tape release. This one was played countless times in my first car - an Orange VW (Beetle) and kept me company while driving around during my Uni Days. I'm amazed it has lasted as long as it has, and actually outlived my beloved Beetle.    It was only years later that I realised that the cassette playlist was 3 tracks short of the Double LP set that was released at the same time. Consequently, I have included these 3 missing tracks  - "L.A Woman", "Spanish Caravan" and "The Spy". to make this post complete.
Full album artwork is included for CD, Vinyl and of course Cassette Tape
Cassette Tracklist
A1 Break On Through 2:25
A2 Strange Days 3:05
A3 Shaman's Blues 4:45
A4 Love Street 3:06
A5 Peace Frog / Blue Sunday 5:00
A6 The Wasp (Texas Radio & The Big Beat) 4:12
A7 End Of The Night 2:49
A8 Love Her Madly 3:18
A10 Ship Of Fools 3:06
A11 The End 11:35
B1 Take It As It Comes 2:13
B2 Running Blue 2:27
B3 Five To One 4:22
B4 Who Scared You 3:51
B5 (You Need Meat) Don't Go No Further 3:37
B6 Riders On The Storm 7:14
B7 Maggie McGill 4:25
B8 Horse Latitudes 1:30
B9 When The Music's Over 11:00

The Doors Link (623Mb)

Friday, October 23, 2020

Pearl Jam - Unauthorised Alive - Live In Atlanta (1994) Bootleg

 (U.S 1990 - Present)

Nirvana's "smells Like Teen Spirit" and album Nevermind brought the pacific Northwest music scene into the spotlight, but it was pearl Jam's Ten and its attendant singles that assured the spotlight would stay there and focus on a hotbed of  talent that also included Alice h Chains, Soundgarden, and Sir Mix-a-Lot.

"Alive", Ten's first single, released worldwide on September 1, 1991, was key not just to Pearl Jam's breakthrough but to Pearl Jam becoming a band in 1990, bassist Jeff Ament and guitarist Stone Gossard had seen their previous band dissolve due to a drug fatality. 

They recorded demos with new guitarist Mike McCready, which were passed on to singer Eddie Vedder then living in San Diego, by a mutual friend. Vedder provided lyrics and vocals for three songs, the first of which was 'Alive." That fall, Vedder relocated to Seattle and Pearl Jam were on their way.

Though seen as a celebratory anthem due to its stirring chorus,"Alive" is more a painful journey of self-discovery. Vedder later revealed the song's dark inspiration, based on his troubled youth.
As a teen, Vedder learned that his father was actually his step-father and his biological father had died years before.

Eddie Vedder
The second verse hints at incest, underscored by McCready's searing guitar solo. Despite its darkness, the song struck a nerve, hitting the Top 20 on both the Mainstream Rock and Modern Rock charts even though only available in the U.S. on import. [by Gillian G.Gaar]

Most major rock acts go on tour and play the same exact set every night, sometimes even repeating their stage banter verbatim like they’re reading from a script. Pearl Jam have always taken a different path. Their set list is like the complete Pearl Jam catalog on shuffle where any song can surface at any point. Back in the 1990s, it caused their hardcore fans to feverishly trade bootlegs on cassette tapes and burned CDs, but in 2000 the group began selling pristine recordings of every show. This is one of their better bootleg releases

By the end of the Vs. tour, Pearl Jam were playing at absolute peak form. This widely bootlegged live radio broadcast contains nearly all of Vs. and Ten, mixed with snippets of covers like “Angie” by the Rolling Stones and even Kiss’ “Detroit Rock City.” The show came just as news broke that Kurt Cobain was missing after walking out of a rehab facility. “Hope he’s all right,” Vedder says. “Please be all right.”

This bootleg recording is taken from an FM broadcast of Pearl Jam live at Fox Theater, Atlanta, Georgia, USA on 3rd April 1994., and was ripped to MP3 (320) format from my Grapefruit Australian CD release. This concert is also available as "Atlanta" from the Kiss The Stone label.

Full album artwork is included plus some choice photos taken from the Kiss The Stone release.
Note that this release features only half of the Atlanta concert set list while the other half is available on the Grapefruit release entitled 'Daughter' (regrettably, I have yet to source this one). Bummer !
Track Listing
01. State Of Love And Trust 4:09
02. Black 5:36
03. Alive 6:02
04. Blood 3:56
05. W.M.A. 7:04
06. Better Man / Introductions 6:02
07. Elderly Woman 4:18
08. Medley: Rats / Ben 4:25 
09. Satan's Bed 4:30  
(Listed as "Already In Love")
10. Once 5:40
11. Sonic Reducer 4:00
12. Indifference 4:57

Pearl Jam Unauthorised (143Mb)  Link Fixed

Friday, October 16, 2020

Various Artists - The Vertigo Trip (1971)

 (U.K Artists 1970-1971)

A now ultra rare sampler issued by Vertigo during the early 'swirl' years, this features a fine selection of British underground acts. Included amongst the eclectic set-list are heavy rockers Black Sabbath circa the early years of their burgeoning career, Ian Carr's fusion greats Nucleus, who offer up the title track of their superb second album 'We'll Talk About It Later', and the country-inflected folk-rock whimsy of Daddy Longlegs and their infectious 'Gambling Man'. Its a highly enjoyable listen for those who appreciate the labels early-seventies output, though actual progressive rock is in short supply. Gentle Giant appear, well represented by their entrancing slow-burner 'Funny Ways', as do Gravy Train, Patto and The Keith Tippett Group, though special mention must be made of Catapilla, whose 'Promises' serves up a tantalising glimpse of their incendiary studio debut of a year earlier. 

However, the majority of 'The Vertigo Trip' highlights the growing diversity taking place at the label, and four sides of vinyl featuring a medley of sonic flavours ranging between folk, pop, country, prog, psychedelia and heavy rock. Despite Nirvana's 'Home' proving a little too stodgy, the the rest of this sample offers up yet more goodies, led the brazen proto-metal of Warhorse, who open the album with 'St Louis'. Aptly-named pub-rockers Legend lend the strut-blues of 'Hole In My Pocket', mystical folk legends Magna Carta appear with 'Time For Leaving' whilst there are some welcome nuggets from Graham Bond and Scottish symphonic-prog veterans Beggars Opera's (very) early days.

So, all very good then but the problem, of course, is actually finding the album in the first place. 'The Vertigo Trip' is seriously rare (not that many copies were produced), though thankfully virtually every single track on this item can be found on Repertoire Records excellent series of special edition Vertigo album reissues, which features many albums by the groups listed here. However, if you do come across a copy of 'The Vertigo Trip', you should try your very best to get hold of it. It's a smartly-chosen selection, and manages to showcase just how many great acts Vertigo were producing during this great musical period. And who knows? Maybe one day even 'The Vertigo Trip' may enjoy a deserved reissue.... [review by Stefan Turner at progarchives.com]

The Cover

Someone at the art-department must have gone ape over the ''Vertigo Trip 1970'' cover from Britain. The symbolism of horse and lady is adopted, but simultaneously stripped to the bare core. Now, it is a purely sexual symbiosis and this shows strongly on the photographs. The blonde lady on front is now stark naked and rocks her horse with a lewd grin. The horse's mane stands in for pubic hair, not very subtle, we think. On the inside horse and lady are seen from below, as though from inside a water-well, even though its walls seem to belong to a church ruin. She holds the reins as if they would be involved in an erotic game with leather. The gigantic poster that was given away with this record (see left) shows another, this time dark-haired, lady on the horse. She is naked too and rejoices climactic feelings on the horse's back. Another shot is in black and white and shows her kissing the cheek of her mount. Furthermore there is a large advertising section with small pictures of ever so many Vertigo albums. Only Black Sabbath's Master of reality shows any difference to the British issue: the bottom lettering is outlined in white. 

I bought this double LP from my brother when I was a young impressionable teenager back in the early 70's, and needless to say the cover had a big part to play in my desire to own this now 'iconic' compilation of Vertigo artists. Mind you, another reason why I wanted it was because it featured one of my favourite Sabbath tracks at that time "After Forever", which still remains at the top of my most memorable songs. As for the remaining tracks, it wasn't until much later that I began to appreciate the diversity and obscurity of the music it contained. Maybe I was too mesmerised by the swirling Vertigo label to appreciate them at the time. 

This post consists of MP3 (320kps) ripped from vinyl and includes full album artwork and label scans.
I am sure that this is the only post available on the net at the moment of this rare double LP set but is selling on eBay for $300 for anyone interested in having their own copy. Hopefully, one day it might be re-released on CD.
Songs / Tracks Listing
A1 Warhorse - St.Louis
A2 Legend - Hole in My Pocket
A3 Magna Carta - Time for the Leaving
A4 Nucleus - We'll Talk About It Later
B1 Ian Matthews - Reno, Nevada
B2 May Blitz - High Beech
B3 Clear Blue Sky - Bird Catcher
B4 Daddy Longlegs - Gambling Man
B5 Graham Bond - My Archangel Mikael
C1 Black Sabbath - After Forever
C2 Gravy Train - The New One
C3 Beggar's Opera - Memory
C4 Patto - Hold Me Back
D1 Gentle Giant - Funny Ways
D2 Catapilla - Promises
D3 Keith Tippett Group - This Is What Happens
D4 Nirvana - Home (Salutation) 6:03

Friday, October 9, 2020

REPOST: Jan Akkerman - Live At Montreux Jazz Festival (1978)

(Dutch 1968 - Current)
Dutch guitar player Jan Akkerman (1946) did almost anything a musician could possibly do. He worked with many different musicians like BB King, Charlie Byrd, Cozy Powell, Claus Ogerman and Ice-T, besides being a former member of international acclaimed bands such as Brainbox and Focus and made more than a dozen solo records that showed his versatile playing without any boundaries or limitations. Whether it’s ‘Tabernakel’ (1973), the famous guitar-in-bed album ‘Jan Akkerman’ (1977) or his latest release ‘Live in Concert at The Hague, he explores and combines elements of rock, jazz, blues, classical or modern dance music and give those his own signature.

On stage, Akkerman has been touring all around the world. Besides several appearances at the Swiss Montreux Jazz Festival (and this post comes from one of them), the Dutch North Sea Jazz Festival, his countless tours around theatres and different stages, the guitarist also performed far beyond Western Europe, in countries like Japan, Russia, North & South America and Australia. He also has a long-time fan base in many parts of the world. In his own country, Akkerman received a Golden Harp in 2005 for his complete oeuvre and again gained recognition and sympathy for his distinctive role in guitar music by many people.
This Jan Akkerman record is a real gem! After the first spin, I was convinced this was by far his best live album. The material comes mainly from his self-titled record (1977), though Tommy (of the Eruption suite) of Focus is added and two new compositions in the spirit of the self-titled Jan Akkerman album. The recording of this live album is perfect, nothing more can be expected, not even today. The first Dutch pressing of this album was released as a limited white vinyl edition, and is a collectors item.

For newcomers. Jan Akkerman is ex-guitarist of Dutch progressive band Focus. In his solo career he concentrated on jazz-rock/fusion and some historical lute-guitar playing. Though at first (Profile, Tabernakel) Jan Akkerman would use his rockin' electric guitars most of the time, in 1977 Jan decided to become the master of the clean jazz-guitar. This resulted in the 1977 self-titled album with clean guitars, a great band and the best of string arrangements. The compositions had a relaxing but slightly magical vibe and some up-tempo moments. Most of the compositions of this record were played on this live album.

Now, the problem Akkerman and band had to face was that on the seltitled album these unbelievable string arrangements made a big contribution to the end result, but they weren't able to get such an arrangement for their tour. The problem was solved by adding an inspired percussionist (I love his contribution) and some synths that both helped to establish a more progressive climate, though the main genre would still be fusion. The two minuted atmospheric synthesiser opening track by Jasper Van 't Hoff really gets me warm for the rest of the album!

A nice track from the Focus era, Tommy, is played with precision but the great vocals of Thijs van Leer are a loss. Still the band makes a great symphonic jazz track with that magical feel and the great guitar solo's (this time clean) of Jan Akkerman.

Conclusion. This recording is perfect, the tracks are great, there's a magical progressive climate on this concert, all instruments are played perfectly, some problems concerning the arrangements were solved very intelligently and Jan Akkerman plays beautifully. There's only one letdown: the album is too short.

Running for 35 minutes this doesn't live up to today's standards. Still, this album is highly recommended to basically every-one who can hear the difference between elevator music and great Fusion. A big four star. [review by Frisco at progarchives.com]
Rip taken from vinyl in FLAC and includes full album artwork and label scans. This is one of my favourite live albums and it was recorded at a time when I believe he was playing at his best.
Even if you are not a Focus fan, you will enjoy this progressive jazz rock masterpiece.

Update: Improved FLAC Rip
Track Listing
01. Transitory (2:07)

02. Skydancer (8:35)

03. Pavane (7:15)

04. Crackers (6:50)

05. Tommy (3:36)

06. Azimuth (6:09)


Band members:
Jan Akkerman (guitars)
Jasper Van't Hoff (keyboards)
Cees Van Der Laarse (bass)

Bruno Castelucci (drums)

Tom Barlage (Saxes and keyboards)

Neppe Noya (percussion)

Willem Ennes (keyboards)

Jan Akkerman Link (221Mb) New Link 09/10/2020

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Helen Reddy - Greatest Hits (1976) + Bonus Debut Single

(Australian 1968–2002, 2011–2020)
Helen Reddy
was born on October 25, 1942 in Melbourne. She was the daughter of veteran entertainers, Max Reddy and Stella Lamond. Her debut as an entertainer happened at the age of four and from that point on her parents concentrated on, grooming her for stardom. Although Helen wasn't convinced that she wanted to be an entertainer, by the late fifties she was appearing on local television shows such as Swallows Juniors. The early sixties were not particularly eventful except for the fact that she entered into a short-lived marriage which produced a daughter, Traci.

The event that prompted Helen's eventual success in the US was her  winning of a TV talent contest. As a result she left Australia in 1966 with only a small amount of money and the promise of an audition with a record company. The audition didn't eventuate and Helen was forced to sing wherever she could get work which usually meant small clubs and bars.

At this point she was very broke and having trouble paying the rent for her New York apartment. Then she met Jeff Wald from the William Morris Agency at a party organised by her friends. The two took an instant shine to each other and the association which was to lead to their marriage and Helen's attaining star status had begun. They moved to Chicago and then on to Los Angeles where they settled. This was a frustrating period for Helen. She spent most of her time at home writing songs and in order to keep her spirits up she enrolled at the University of California where she obtained a degree.

Finally, after Jeff's constant hounding of Capitol Records they relented and gave Helen the opportunity to record 'I Don't Know How To Love Him' from the rock musical, 'Jesus Christ superstar'. The single made the us charts on the 20th February, 1971 and climbed to the No. 13 position. In Australia it reached No. 2 on the national charts.

Suddenly, the singer that had been long forgotten in her own country had become an international star. Two more moderate hits followed, "Crazy Love" and "No Sad Song", and two best-selling albums, 'I Don't Know How To Love Him' and 'Helen Reddy', were released. In the meantime, Helen had met up with fellow Australian, Ray Burton, and together they wrote "l Am Woman" (which was also included in her first LP). It was released as a single midway through 1972 and it soared to the No. 1 spot on the US charts in November. The record was also a smash in Australia where it peaked at No. 2. four months later. An album of the same name was released and the song virtually became Helen's signature tune.

Her next hit in the US was a song called "Peaceful" which made the charts there around March, 1973. Helen became a very busy person with her recording commitments, her hectic touring schedule with the Helen Reddy Show and the additional responsibility of rearing her second child, Jordan who was born in December, 1972.

The Helen Reddy Show 1973

Then in August, 1973 she achieved her second number one hit in the US with "Delta Dawn" and in Australia she hit the number two spot for the third time. Helen made a triumphant return to Australia in November and appeared at all the capital cities. Coinciding with her return was the release of her fourth album, 'Long Hard Climb', and a single entitled "Leave Me Alone", which became her first number one hit in Australia. 

The same year she was voted Best Female Pop Vocalist Of 1973 in the American Music Awards, received a Grammy for "l Am Woman" and was recognised as the Most Played Artist by the Music Operators of America. By now Helen was headlining her own music-variety series, Flip Wilson Presents The Helen Reddy Show .

Her next chart entry came early in 1974 with "Keep On Singing" (the lyrics of which seemed to echo her rise to stardom). Helen's debut as a movie actress came during the year when she played the part of a nun in Airport '75. Her fifth album, 'Love Song For Jeffrey' was released in June '74. In December Helen obtained her American citizenship. Late in the year she came up with a weird, but brilliant single called "Angie Baby" which, once again, made the charts here and in the States, as well as becoming her first big hit in the UK.

In 1975 Helen was signed to compere the weekly television series Midnight Special, and apparently her connection with the show caused the ratings to triple. Two more albums were issued in
the interim, 'Free And Easy' (early '75) and 'No Way To Treat A Lady' (September '75). The year probably represented the peak of her career as she was voted No. 1 Female Pop Vocalist by the record industry's top three magazines - Billboard, Casbbox and Record World.

One brilliant single, 'I Can't Hear You No More' emerged in September, 1976 and two more albums hit the stores (Helen Reddy's Greatest Hits and Music Music). At this point also, it was announced that Helen would play her first starring role in a movie for the Disney organisation to be titled Pete's Dragon.

By midway through 1976 she had sold 15 million albums, 10 million singles and had attained eight gold albums, four gold singles and three platinum albums. Once again she received awards from Cash Box and Record World in 1976, this time as Top Female Album Artist.

Of course Helen has managed to conquer the pinnacle of entertainment splendour, Las Vegas, with a multi-million dollar contract to perform at the MGM Grand Hotel. In 1977, she broadened her act there to feature dance routines and aerobatics which had been choreographed by veteran Melbourne performer, Joe Latona, whom Helen had especially flown out from Australia.

After a brief absence from the best seller lists, 'Helen's Ear Candy' album was released in Australia in April 1977. Its new sound was the result of her engaging rock producer Kim Fowley, who helped develop the updated image. Helen had ascended to a level that very few entertainers reach, in that she has achieved recognition not only from her devoted fans, but also from musicians (for her technical singing ability and intricate vocal gymnastics) and the critics (because of her imaginative and demanding stage performances). [Extract from Noel McGrath's Australian Encyclopedia of Rock, Outback Press, 1978. p252-254]

Three of her songs reached No. 1, and she'd go on to win a Grammy Award for best female vocal pop performance for the feminist anthem "I Am Woman."   

Sadly, Helen passed away on the 30th September at the aged 78. Reddy had been diagnosed with dementia in 2015 and had been living in a Los Angeles nursing home for retired Hollywood talent. Helen is survived by her two children Traci Donat and Jordan Sommers.

This post consists of FLACs ripped from my treasured vinyl and includes cover and label scans. This album still finds its way onto my turntable, especially when I'm reminiscing about my late mum, who absolutely adored Reddy's music. This post is for you mum, I miss you.  
I have also taken the liberty of including Helen's debut single "One Way Ticket"/"Go" released on Philip Records in 1968 as bonus tracks, and is as rare as hen's teeth (thanks to Ozzie Musicman for this single)

RIP Helen Reddy (1942-2020)

01 I Am Woman 3:34
02 I Don't Know How To Love Him 3:15
03 Leave Me Alone 3:26
04 Delta Dawn 3:08
05 You And Me Against The World 3:08
06 Angie Baby 3:29
07 Emotion 2:52
08 Keep On Singing 3:03
09 Peaceful 2:50
10 Ain't No Way To Treat A Lady 3:26
11 One Way Ticket (Bonus A-Side Single)    2:36
12 Go (Bonus B-Side Single)    2:54

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

W.O.C.K On Vinyl: Fisk & Cristian - Rock'N Footy (1997)


Before things get too serious here at Rock On Vinyl, I thought it might be fun to post a song / album at the end of each month, that could be categorized as being either Weird, Obscure, Crazy or just plain Korny.

Donna Fisk has had many accolades bestowed upon her during her career, including winning five Southern Hemisphere Country music awards, Nominated for the MO Award, Best Female Entertainer at the Australian Country Music Awards, immortalised in the Hands of Fame Park in Tamworth, a Royal Command Performance and several number one hits on the country music charts.

Michael Cristian is a highly acclaimed and respected ARIA Award winning performer and producer, producing multi-platinum selling album for The Seekers and Judith Durham, Johnny Chester, John St Peeters, and many other artists. A guitar virtuoso and multi-instrumentalist, he has worked with numerous international and local artists and was Musical Director for The Seekers last world tour performing sold-out shows at Wembley Stadium and Londons' Royal Albert Hall.

Together as the duo Fisk & Cristian, they are a tour de force! They have shared the stage with many of the worlds greatest entertainers including Tom T Hall, Dionne Warrick, John Denver, Donny Osmond, Tom Jones, Blood Sweat and Tears and Barry Humphries just to name a few. In 1998 they achieved a top 10 radio hit with their song 'Lara' and rocketed into the ARIA charts with their AFL anthem 'Rock 'N Footy ' which they ultimately performed to a sell-out crowd of 100,000 people on the hallowed ground of the Melbourne Cricket Ground (plus 100 million people who witnessed the 1998 AFL Grand Final International satellite broadcast). They have also won numerous music awards throughout their career in recognition of their songwriting/production skills and exciting live performances.

Donna Fisk and Michael Cristian continue to be a driving force in the future of Australian Country Music – world class songwriting, musicianship, production and vocals with an amazing diversity that spans the musical spectrum from pure country to contemporary. [extract from their website]

With Footy Finals Fever now on our doorstep, instead of COVID-19!, I thought it appropriate to kick off (pun intended) this month's WOCK on Vinyl with another Footy Tribute release and also help celebrate the fact that nothing can stop Aussie Rules in this fine country - not even a pandemic.
One thing I like about this recording is that it was released by some local artists (who literally live just down the road from me - well, actually an adjacent suburb) and I think that you will enjoy sinking your teeth into this one (oh, and enjoy the Four 'N' Twenty Pie included). 
I'm sure this is a fairly Obscure release (doubt if it sold in big numbers) and so deserves a place in the WOCK on Vinyl hall of fame.   Ripped to MP3 (320) from CD for your consumption.

Track Listing
01 - Rock 'N' Footy
02 - Rock 'N' Footy (dance mix)
03 - Rock 'N' Footy (sing along)
04 - Lara
05 - Going Out Of Style

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Focus - At The Rainbow (1973)

 (Dutch 1969-1978, 2001-Present)

In 1973, Focus were at their peak! They simultaneously had two Top 10 albums (Focus 3 and Moving Waves) and two hit singles ("Sylvia" and "Hocus Pocus"). All of the musicians were voted as Top 10 musicians in each of their categories. Jan Akkerman was voted world's best guitarist. With a live reputation that proved Focus lived up to these 'Best Musicians' claims, the right thing to do was to release a live album: Focus at The Rainbow. (FACT: on the night of the recording, due to the demand for encores, Focus ran out of pieces to play!).

'At the Rainbow' was the first live album by Focus, released in October 1973 on Imperial / Polydor Records. The album was recorded at the Rainbow Theatre in London on 5 May 1973. A studio album was initially slated for release, but it was shelved due to disagreements within the band. (An album compiled from the tapes of these sessions was later released with the title Ship of Memories.) At the Rainbow was released instead.

The instrumental rockers of the early ’70s never were any good at dulling down their musical expertise; and, indeed, it’s only a matter of seconds into their first and only live release — Live at the Rainbow — until one realises just how talented Focus were. Jan Akkerman, named “World’s Best Guitarist” by Melody Maker in 1973 ahead of Eric Clapton and others, was amazingly on form in this performance. Thijs Van Leer, chief songwriter and performer in the band, showcased his talents on flute, vocals, and organ with unparalleled finesse. Bert Ruiter knocked out his bass lines tight to Pierre Van Der Linden’s drums, undoubtedly two of the finest players on their respective instruments. It would be so easy to go off on a tangent explaining the mastery that Focus had musically; suffice to say, however, the bands technical proficiency is rarely matched in the world of rock. Live at the Rainbow featured some of the band’s best and most well known tracks: “Sylvia,” “Hocus Pocus,” “Focus II,” and so on.

Jan Akkerman, Bert Ruiter, Thijsj Van Leer, Pierre van der Linden

Although much of the content sticks closely to its original studio form (12-minute tracks were regular on studio albums), with maybe an extra solo or two thrown in for good measure, a few songs host drastic changes. “Hocus Pocus,” for example, is almost unrecognisable. This live version is multiple times faster than its studio counterpart — those familiar with only the studio version are certainly in for a shock! Throughout the album the performance is simply astonishing. Live at the Rainbow is a fine purchase for any Focus fan, or, indeed, anyone looking for a band with a good degree of originality and musical ability [ extract from Many Fantastic Colours]

Review 1
(by Ivan Melgar M at progarchives.com)

I always read terrible reviews about this album something with I don't agree, of course is not one of their masterpieces, but the quality of the music and the selection of songs is outstanding.
Probably some fans aren't too happy without The House of the King, but the mood of the concert is different to any other band, somehow dreamy and oneiric, with that atmosphere that covers the audience as a thick cloud of mist that covers the listener but instead of suffocating him the music helps to relax (Except of course for Hocus Pocus).

The album starts with the excellent Focus III, a beautiful track with a gentle intro of keyboards and guitar, it's pleasant to listen how the music perfectly flows, almost with no interruptions or dramatic changes until around the third minute when it turns more jazzy oriented as to prepare the organ ending, a short piece of art.

With no interruptions they lead us to Answers? Questions!! Questions? Answers! that creates a perfect contrast with the soft Focus III, the intro is almost frantic at some points based in Akkerman's great guitar riffs and Thijs Van Leer amazing keyboard plus an extra instrument in Thijs voice, because he's one of the few vocalist that doesn't use his voice for singing but for adding extra sounds and laments.

Jan Akkerman
On this track there are many changes and sudden explosions with an organ that sounds very close to the Italian Farfisa of the late 60's that gives the strong Psychedelic sound, but around the middle Thijs offers us one of his incredible flute semi-solos (with drums background followed by another semi solo by Jan Akkerman that reminds me a bit of Steve Hackett), From that point the songs keeps flowing gently with a jazzy atmosphere where all the members of the band are simply amazing. Eleven minutes of different but very talented prog' rock.

Talking about music that gently flows, it's the turn for Focus II, again introduced by Thijs keyboard enhanced by Jan's guitar and a very competent Bert Ruiter in the bass, the keyboard parts are faster than in Moving Waves affecting in some way the soft and perfect balance of the original version, but still very good and relaxing.

Eruption is based in the tragic Greek Myth of Orpheus, the man that created music who was destroyed after her true love's (Euridice) death and went to the rescue, of her down to hell.

The icy queen of the Underworld: Persephone, impressed with the beauty of Orpheus music, pleaded with her husband Hades to let Orpheus bring Euridice back to the land of the living. Hades could not deny his queen her request, and agreed to let Orpheus bring Euridice back on one condition: that he should not look upon her until they were both back in the land of the living. When they were about to reach the light, Orpheus felt doubts and turned back to see Euridice for a second before her soul was taken back to the world of the underworld.

The problem with this beautiful and complex song is that the version for The Rainbow Theater is too short (8:30 minutes against the 23:04 of the original version), this track was composed to musically describe a story and when mutilated for a live concert lacks of sense.

Despite this fact, works as an excerpt, because gives us a clear idea of the beauty of the music with the complex baroque sections like taken from a Cathedral and the peaceful passages that join perfectly with the next sound explosion. Jan Akkerman's solos require special attention because reminds me of Carlos Santana at some points.

Thijs van Leer
The next track is the famous Hocus Pocus which as we all know is just a joke where Thijs yodels at his entire pleasure while Bert Ruiter and Pierre Van Der Linden backup him with appropriate bass and drums, don't take it seriously, not even Akkerman's guitar riffs, as I said before it's just a joke.

The last track (because Hocus Pocus Reprise is really a filler to complete the planned time) is Sylvia, Focus first commercial hit, Thijs dedicates this song to a girl that used to sing with him when both worked as backing vocalists for a well known Crooner from the Netherlands. Originally had lyrics but at certain point Thijs decided to use his voice for anything but singing, good track even when more commercially oriented.

Focus concerts were probably the simplest of Progressive Rock, they almost didn't used lights or created an spectacular show, they only did what they knew best, play their music, and for God's sake, they always did it well.

If you want to listen a frantic concert where people shouts and joins the band, don't bother, but if you want a rare testimony of Focus calmed style on stage, then give this one a go.

Review 2

(by George Starostin)

The obligatory live album from the band which is - hear! hear! - not a double one. Now isn't that kinda cute? After a sprawling, extensive, superfluous double studio album, to release just one tiny little LP of live material? This was an epoch when you were looked at askance if you only released a single LP worth of live material, but I guess this was just another 'focus' for the band. And at an era, too, when Focus arguably reached the peak of their popularity, with fans raving about the guitar abilities of Jan Akkerman and all.

How good is the album? It's good. It's also a total disappointment for me, because the entire first side is dedicated to a note-for-note-perfect (with just a few minor changes) recreation of the 'Focus III/Answers? Questions!' suite/jam from the last album, and I never liked it that much. The band's real weakness is in that they were so inventive, improvisational and creative in the studio, there was very little left for them in a live setting. Akkerman's funky guitar flies around like mad and Thijs van Leer's organ is prominent and energetic, but as a rationally minded homo sapiens I see no positive reason for anybody to get interested in these carbon copy recreations so as to waste their money. (Okay, so I did waste my money, but how was I to know I needn't have wasted it before I actually wasted it? Plus, wait a bit, the review isn't over yet). Anyway, there's just nothing particularly special about the first side.

Bert Ruiter

Likewise, I'm not a huge fan of 'Focus II' and 'Eruption' - more of the band's early fusion standards that, when placed in this here context, don't sound radically different from 'Focus III' and 'Answers? Questions!' (Except that 'Eruption' has been drastically shortened - not that it's done it any good). As usual, it all works as decent background music, but has pretty much a totally null level of resonance and sensitivity. In fact, the soft parts of 'Eruption' are mostly there to lull you to sleep...

The whole fun really kicks off only by the beginning of the last fourteen minutes. This live version of 'Hocus Pocus' is easily the definite version of the Focus classic, faster and crazier than the original, with Akkerman's lightning-speed metallic riffage precise and immaculate and van Leer's yodelling as hilarious as ever and more than that - check out the particularly lengthy yodelling exercise in the middle of the song which causes the audience to burst into a smattering of applause. However, perhaps the most beautiful part of the tune is the conclusion, when the band members are introduced one by one by van Leer in more or less the same yodelling style, with him hauntingly chanting out the members' names and duties one at a time. This is really fun.

After that as an encore the band launches into 'Sylvia', which is - don't brand me as a sellout, please - definitely Focus' best number after 'Hocus Pocus', and truly deserved to be a hit single. But alas, it is done really close to the original as well, and then the album closes with one more short reprise of 'Hocus Pocus' - whatever for? Definitely, this is one of the most stupidly concocted live albums I've ever heard. Too bad: a good, prolific band like Focus could have surely deserved a better track listing and a more suitable running time, but then again, most sources I've read tell this was a more or less adequate 'summary' of their contemporary live shows, so maybe I'm asking for too much.

And since this review turned out so relatively short, let me just say a couple general things about prog live albums to sum it up. While the most common statement is that all those mighty live albums released by Yes, ELP, Genesis, etc., in the early Seventies, served one essential purpose (to demonstrate that the band had the ability to pull off their complex music when playing live), it is, in fact, somewhat more complex than that. Those bands who still had a thick 'rock' background somewhere inside their guts, like Yes, for instance, were still trying to remember the basic live rule - a live album should sound more energetic than its studio counterpart - and revved up the adrenaline level. Others, like Genesis, tried to theatralize the proceedings to the max (too bad Genesis' own live album didn't really manage to satisfy that purpose); still others, like ELP, used the live platform to really show off their playing skills in a way that couldn't have been appreciated on the studio albums, throwing on additional improvisations and stuff; finally, sometimes bands used something really different, like Procol Harum with their symphonic orchestra live album, and so on.

Pierre van der Linden

In other words, you can't just use the same identical pattern to take and apply it to everybody; people have their different reasons for doing different things. However, for Live At The Rainbow I really can't find any particular 'additional purpose'. It doesn't rock harder than the studio albums, apart from maybe 'Hocus Pocus'; it ain't theatrical because there are next to no vocals; it ain't showing off any more than van Leer and Akkerman already were in the studio. No unpredictable songs, no unpredictable sounds. What's there to make of it? I dunno. It's just solid live performing.

This post consists of FLACs ripped from my treasured vinyl which, although played many, many times; has been well looked after. No crackles or pops, just great quality progressive rock and yodels. I love this album to death and admire the fact that these four guys could reproduce everything they did in the studio, and in some cases better, when playing live. 

Of course full album artwork is included (plus alternative covers like the one on the left) along with label scans. The other thing I like about this album is the triple fold cover and artwork, and copies in good condition fetch good money on ebay.

A1 Focus III 3:53
A2 Answers? Questions! Questions?
Answers! 11:37
A3 Focus II 4:22
Eruption (Excerpt) 8:44
B1.I Orfeus
B1.II Answer
B1.III Orfeus
B1.IV Answer
B1.V Pupilla
B1.VI Tommy
B1.VII Pupilla
B2 Hocus Pocus 8:30
B3 Sylvia 2:48
B4 Hocus Pocus (Reprise) 2:49

Vocals, Organ, Flute – Thijs van Leer
Drums – Pierre van der Linden
Guitar – Jan Akkerman
Vocals, Bass Guitar – Bert Ruiter