Saturday, May 14, 2022

Various Artists: All Fired Up - The Lost Treasures Of Australian Music 1970-1990

 (Australian/New Zealand 1970-1990)

All Fired Up is a collection of Australian rock rarities compiled by Paul Conn and released by ScreenSound Australia, the National Screen and Sound Archive, which features "hits, near misses and obscurities" of Australian music. The lineup includes famous Australian acts such as Mondo Rock, Icehouse, Redgum, Richard Clapton, John Paul Young, Ted Mulry and Goanna, and is especially welcome for the inclusion of some long-lost rarities by cult acts like Friends and Mandu.

All Fired Up presents an eclectic sampling of OzRock from the 70s to the 90s, and many tracks, most lifted from the B-sides of rare singles, have never before been released on CD. These include the original Australian version of the Pat Benatar hit All Fired Up (performed by Rattling Sabres), the Franklin Dam protest song Let the Franklin Flow performed by members of bands Goanna and Redgum, and the novelty song How About a Beer for the Horse performed by John Paul Young and the All Stars under the jokey guise of 'Sandshoe Willie and The Worn Out Soul Band'. The tracks were selected by Canberra music historian and radio presenter Paul Conn.

Radio, when it bothers to look back at all, presents predictable and narrow playlists that favour a handful of "usual suspects" from Australia and which are dominated by "golden oldies" from overseas. Only a fraction of the thousands of mainstream and independent music released in these years has been re-released or repackaged. Most now languish unheard in archives and private collections, and any effort to revive interest in this period of Australian music and uncover some of its lesser known artefacts is to be roundly applauded.

Such releases are gaining even greater importance because vinyl copies of these recordings are in some cases now the ONLY copies of this music to have survived. Sadly, even for recordings made as recently as the mid-1980s, we are discovering the lamentable fact that master tapes and multitracks -- even of recordings by prominent bands such as Dugites and Numbers -- have been lost or destroyed. Many singles released in these years were one-off independent efforts which were pressed in small quantities (and which mostly sold in even smaller quantities) and the archiving and re-release of such material is of vital importance.

All Fired Up - Battling Sabres
(Written by K. Tolhunt, M. Grombacher & N. Giraldo, Released in 1987)
Better known as a hit for Pat Benatar, this original version was a one-off release by short- lived Melbourne band Rattling Sabres and failed to chart. Written and produced by Kerryn Tolhurst, previously in bands such as Country Radio, Mississippi, the Dingoes, and the Richard Clapton Band since 1970, All Fired Up was the A-side of Battling Sabres' only single. Released in a picture sleeve, it was quite an investment for the independent Mighty Boy Records. Robert Price
(ex Jo Jo Zep and the Falcons) was lead vocalist, Kerryn Tolhurst played lead guitar and the future
music director for John Farnham. Chong Lym, was on keyboards.

Power - Sharon O'Neill
(Written by S. O'Neill, Released in 1984)
Sharon O'Neill was a successful export from New Zealand to Australia, where her strong song writing skills and vocals lifted her above other artists of the 1970s. Emerging from bands such as Chapta and Wellington Shiner in her native country, she gained recognition as the support act for Boz Scaggs 1980 Australian Tour. For three years she had consistent success with "How Do You Talk To Boys", "Waiting for You", "Losing You" and "Maxine" ln 1984, her career stalled when she resigned from her recording company. Short low-key tours of New Zealand in 2001 and 2002 with "When The Cat's Away" (including Margaret Urlich) was a surprise return. "Power" was her final single for CBS and lasted three weeks in the lower reaches of the charts in August 1984. The single was co-produced by her then husband Brent Thomas and guitarist Tommy Emmanuel.

B B Boogie - Friends

(Written by Friends, Released 1972)
By December 1971, heavy music or progressive rock was finding its Australian audience when a new Melbourne outfit formed its first line-up under the name, Friends. Centered on New Zealanders vocalists Leo De Castro and Charlie Tumahai. the band was fluid through its 18 month existence.
In August 1972, the only single Friends put together came out on the ATA label. B B Boogie was the A-side, credited to the band collectively, which attracted no radio interest. No further studio recordings were made, but a live performance was included on the Sunbury 1973 triple album and the Garrison - Final Blow Unit 1 LP. It proved to be a stepping stone to greater things for some: Mark Kenndy and Duncan McGuire formed Ayers Rock, Charlie Tumahal joined Mississippi before joining UK's Be Bop Deluxe, while Leo De Castro spent the next 20 years in around 15 different, largely unknown bands. "BB Boogie" is a lesser known example of the style dominating 1970's Australian rock.

Goodbye Barbara Ann - Richard Clapton

(Written by Richard Clapton, Released in 1984)
Recorded during the April-May 1984 sessions for the LP Solidarity, "Goodbye Barbara Ann" was released as a single on the strength of first reactions to the song. This marked a new beginning for Richard Clapton who had left WEA. following the success of The Great Escape LP and a short stint with the Party Boys in 1983.
A tribute to a north coast lifestyle, with an oblique reference to Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, the song failed to chart. Richard Clapton made one appearance on the popular ABC-TV show Countdown to promote the song but there was no serious promotional activity beyond this. By the time the Solidarity LP was released in September 1984, the song was discarded and was not included on the album or on either of the subsequent CD compilation sets.

I Heard It Through The Grapevine - The Chinless Elite

(Written by Strong/Whitfield, Released in 1985)
The Chinless Elite was a short lived band formed by Jeremy Oxley following the dissolution of his power pop band, the Sunnyboys. This unusual version of the Marvin Gayne song "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" was the B-Side of their only single released in November, 1985. Reminiscent of the Sunnyboys style (which had been influenced by the producer of their first tow LP's, veteran Lobby Loyde. The Chinless Elite demonstrated a creative approach to what was seen as a rhythm and blues classic song. They also released a 12" Mini Album in 1985 entitled Est Jest A Tastor. The band splintered within months and Jeremy Oxley disappeared from prominence in Australian rock music.

How About A Beer For The Horse - Sandshoe Willie And The Worn Out Soul Band

(Written by Sandshoe Will/Honest Stan, Released in 1979)
In 1979, John Paul Young and The All Stars were at the end of a series of successful singles (Yesterday's Hero, I Hate The Music, I Wanna Do It With You, Love Is In The Air and Standing In The Rain) and released this novelty single under a pseudonym. It was not a hit and was never preserved on LP, and the band at that time included Harry Vanda, George Young, Ray Arnott and Warren Morgan., who obviously enjoyed a joke. Although John Paul Young continued recording into the 1980's nothing matched his early successes until the revival of Love Is In The Air for the 1992 movie Strictly Ballroom, and it once again climbed the charts. How About A Beer For The Horse (and it's B-Side Truck Driver) is well worth remembering as a novelty song.

Rebecca - Mario Millo
(Written by M.Millo, Released in 1979)
Rebecca was an instrumental by guitarist Mario Millo, released as the single from The Australian Guitar Album, a compilation set of specially commissioned workouts by Kevin Borich, Ian Moss, Lobby Loyde, Phil manning and others in 1979. Mario Millo came from Sydney's western suburbs where he learned to play the mandolin as a child, releasing his first single as a 14 year old member of the Clik in 1969. During 1979 he had a busy year - writing and recording the soundtrack for Against The Wind TV series (including Jon English's "Six Ribbons" single), and recording his solo LP Epic III. After releasing a further LP Human Games in 1983, Mario Millo changed to focus on soundtrack work, including movies such as Shame (1987) and the Lighthorsemen (1987) and TV series such as Brides of Christ, Changi and Heroes Mountain - The Thredbo Story.

Let The Franklin Flow - Gordon Franklin and The Wilderness Ensemble

(Written by F.River (alias Shane Howard), Released in 1983)
Recorded live at the People For Nuclear Disarmament Concert at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne on 13 February 1983, this loosely assembled group was built around Goanna (led by Shane Howard) and members of other bands including Redgum. Production by Trevor Lucas (a Melbourne folk musician) turned this impromptu protest song against the damming of Tasmania's Franklin River into a hit. It reached number 15 on the charts in May that year. The B-side of the single Franklin River - World Heritage featured spoken discussion of issues by future Greens Senator, Bob Brown. The single was a fundraiser for the Tasmanian Wilderness Society.

Il Mondo Caffe - Mondo Rock

(Written by R Wilson/J Black, Released in 1982)

"Il Mondo Caffe" was the B-side of the first single lifted from Mondo Rock's successful Nuovo Mondo LP. Released in July 1982 to coincide with that LP, the A-Side "No Time" went to number 11 on the charts. It reinforced the slicker style that Ross Wilson bought to the band, contrasting with the derivative Daddy Cool. By this time, guitarist Eric McCusker was dominating songwriting in the band, but this B-side is an interesting instrumental workout co-written by Ross Wilson and keyboard player, James Black.

Roll It On Robbie - Redgum

(Written by H McDonald/M Spicer. Released in 1987)
Redgum, primarily known for it's highly politicised folk rock songs, recorded in 1987 this humorous single about condoms. The original members met in the mid 1970's at Adelaide Flinders University, but by 1987 the band's front man John Schuman had long since left. "Roll It On Robbie" was Redgum's final single release, co-written by band members Hugh McDonald and Michael Spicer. Nothing on the band's final LP Midnight Sun, would have prepared listeners for something like this song. Although it did enter the Top 40 Charts, due to it controversial content and presented in a picture sleeve complete with information about condom's usage, this rare single was regarded more as a novelty song than a serious piece of social advice. It was an unusual and unintentionally funny finale to the band's career, contrasting with the more serious content of their seven albums.

To The Shores Of His Heaven - Mandu

(Written by Mandu, Released in 1975)
This B-Side single was also the title of the only LP release by Melbourne singer Mandu whose real name was Chris Moraitis. Featuring the best of the Melbourne music scene of 1975 (Phil Manning, Gary Young, Barry Sullivan and others), this single was a sample from a very loosely arranged concept album about a visitor from space reflecting on the state of the earth. "To The Shores Of His Heaven" was recorded at Armstrong Studios in Melbourne by veteran producer Ern Rose. The A-Side was a version of the Rolling Stones "Gimme Shelter". Although he never released any further solo work, Mandu went on to work with Lobby Loyde as vocalist on two LPs - Obsecration and Live With Dubs, he then stopped recording.

Arcade - Doug Parkinson

(Written by M. Perjanik, Released in 1979)
During a career that had started in 1965 with his high school band Strings And Things, and later bands like Doug Parkinson In Focus and Fanny Adams, Doug Parkinson became famous for his rough vocals, strong stage presence and versatility. In late 1979, he took some time off from working with the Southern Star Band, to record this one-off single for the TV soap opera Arcade.
This was his only release on the ATA label. Written by Mike Perjanik and engineered by Duncan McGuire (a veteran of many bands, most notably Ayers Rock), this lightweight song still proved to be a vehicle to show off Doug Parkinson's fine voice.

Two Of A Kind - Split Enz

(Written by Tim Finn, Released in 1983)
"Two Of A Kind" was one of two songs on the B-Side of a single released by Split Enz on the 28th March, 1983. The single made no impact on Top 40 charts. Like the A-Side "Next Exit" and other B-side song "Remember When", "Two Of A Kind" was never released on a Split Enz album during the life of the band. Tim Finn wrote all three songs, the while the other two eventually made it to CD on the Rear Enz set, this one escaped. Each of the three songs was recorded in different studios - "Two Of Kind" was recorded at the Music Farm, Mullumbimby NSW. Two months after this single was released, Tim Finn released his first solo single "Fraction Too Much Friction", which charted well and was the start of the demise of Split Enz.

So Much In Love - Ted Mulry

(Written by Martin 'Ted' Mulry, Released in 1970)
In 1970, the liner notes on Ted Mulry's first solo LP said it all - "Nobody was emerging unless they were Americans who didn't need the Australian market anyway. Well, they sorted all that out and Julia did her thing...Meanwhile, Ted Mulry was driving his bulldozer and getting more gigs. His reputation as a rocking ballad singer was travelling by word of mouth as well as by radio"
British born Ted Mulry arrived in Australia in 1966, and four years later put out his first, self-written solo single. "Julia" peaked at number 5 on the Sydney charts in early 1970. The B-Side was another song in the same vein also penned by Ted Mulry, "So Much In Love". He was very shy about his prospects and was fortunate that Tony Geary from EMI Records took the chance to produce both songs on his first single on the Parlophone label. Mulry's solo career faltered after a year of moderate success, compounded by a disastrous foray back to the UK. Back in Australia, The Ted Mulry Gang revived his fortunes from 1974 onwards, and he made ten more albums until his untimely death from cancer. "So Much In Love" is a reminder of where it started for him.

Sorry - Flowers

(Written by H.Vanda/G.Young)
Recorded live in Studio 301, Sydney in August, 1980, this version of the Easybeats' hit song was released as a bonus single in 1990 as part of a double single tenth anniversary pack for Icehouse.

It was attributed to Flowers, the original name of their first album Icehouse, the reinvigorated band adopted this name to move into a decade of highly produced singles and albums. The first ten years of the band ended with 1990's Code Blue LP which saw them retreat into a studio-based vehicle for Iva Davies. The A-Side Sorry (backed with a version of the T-Rex song Think Zinc) is an energetic reminder of early punk rock.

This post consists of MP3's (320kps) ripped from CD (sourced from Midoztouch many moons ago) and includes full album artwork.  I really like this Aussie/NZ compilation because it showcases such a diverse sample of musical styles and obscurities.  And I had no idea who Sandshoe Willie And The Worn Out Soul Band was until I came across this release - would never had picked it to be an Albert Production ruse.  

01  Rattling Sabres – All Fired Up
02  Sharon O'Neill – Power
03  Friends – B B Boogie
04  Richard Clapton – Goodbye Barbara Ann
05  The Chinless Elite – I Heard It Through The Grapevine
06  Sandshoe Willie & The Worn Out Soul Band – How About A Beer For The Horse
07  Mario Millo – Rebecca
08  Gordon Franklin And The Wilderness Ensemble – Let The Franklin Flow
09  Mondo Rock – Il Mondo Cafe
10 Redgum – Roll It On Robbie
11 Mandu – To The Shores Of His Heaven
12 Doug Parkinson – Arcade
13 Split Enz – Two Of A Kind
14 Ted Mulry – So Much In Love
15 Flowers – Sorry

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Little River Band - Live Backstage Pass (1979) and Live In America (1980)

(Australian 1975 - Present)

Little River Band (LRB) is an Australian rock band, formed in Melbourne in early 1975.
The band chose its name after passing a road sign leading to the Victorian township of Little River, near Geelong, on the way to a performance. Little River Band enjoyed sustained commercial success not only in Australia, but also in the United States. They have sold more than 25 million records and achieved 13 U.S. Top 40 hits, besides many music awards gained in Australia.

The band's original members were: lead vocals Glenn Shorrock, acoustic guitar and vocals Graham Goble, rhythm guitar and vocals Beeb Birtles, lead guitar Ric Formosa, bass guitar Roger McLachlan, and drums Derek Pellicci. Goble was the only original member born in Australia. The music and lyrics for most of the group's compositions were primarily written by Goble and Shorrock, with contributions from Birtles, Briggs and Pellicci.

Just before LRB began touring abroad in the 70's, lead guitarist Ric Formosa, apparently not enthusiastic about touring outside of Australia, left the group in August 1976 to pursue other musical interests and was replaced by David Briggs. At the same time, the group decided to replace bassist Roger McLachlan, who left to join Stars and was replaced by George McArdle. However, Formosa remained in touch with his former bandmates and conducted and wrote string parts for several songs after he officially left the band.

More concert performances in the U.S. followed and in 1977 "Help Is on Its Way" (an Australian #1 single) and "Happy Anniversary" were both mid-top 20 Hot 100 singles. From 1978 until 1981, Little River Band achieved one gold album (Diamantina Cocktail, released in 1977) and two platinum albums (Sleeper Catcher in 1978 and First Under the Wire in 1979) plus six US Top 10 singles with "Reminiscing" (#3, their biggest hit), "Lady" (#10), "Lonesome Loser" (#6), "Cool Change" (#10), "The Night Owls" (#6) and "Take It Easy on Me" (#10). During their career they have sold more than 25 million records and scored 13 American Top 40 hits.

From 1976 through 1985, the group maintained a constant touring schedule which kept it in the U.S. for long periods of time and may have contributed to much of the constant shuffling of personnel. For example: The band's schedule was so busy that when drummer Derek Pellicci was severely injured in a gas grill fire in May 1978, the band brought in a substitute drummer (Geoff Cox) rather than cancel shows. Drummer Cox remained with the group through the summer of 1978 and even played alongside Pellicci after he came back until he was healed enough to continue on his own. A keyboardist, Mal Logan, was added in time for another U.S. tour in late 1978.
After finishing a U.S. tour in January 1979, bassist McArdle left after one final appearance with the band at the Nambassa Music & Alternatives Festival in New Zealand on 29 January 1979. He went on to take up Bible study, eventually pursuing a path as a minister. Barry Sullivan took over on bass until American Wayne Nelson, currently the group's lead singer, joined in April 1980. [extract from]

Live Backstage Pass - Album Review
(Juke Magazine 30th Nov, 1979)

If you're looking for sheer professionalism, superb stereo fidelity, as close to perfect harmonies and world-class performance on a live album, then this one is quite simply the best sound on a live album yet to be recorded in Australia. That doesn't mean the most exciting by any means. There is no rawness, exuberant energy or gutlevel feel (definitely low level sweating going on here), just slick, smooth showmanship.

No problem reproducing the studio sound (with a little help from Adelaide's Symphony Orchestra) on stage for LRB. In fact, apart from the applause that greets the opening bars of "It's A Long Way There" through the clapping responses to "Reminiscing" and "Help Is On Its Way", you wouldn't know the album was recorded live at all.

This says a lot for the combined talents of LRB, but it makes one wonder why they bother releasing a live LP all. There are no rearrangements, expansions of ideas in 'live' exceptional moments - though there are subtle changes in the orchestration and accents in the rhythm section (tight and tasteful). The orchestra - conducted by David Measham, who has worked with Rick Wakeman among others - is always understated, they're more for gloss apart from the grandiose intros to some of the big numbers. True to their current 'philosophy', most of the time LRB come across as a band rather than a production.

Shorrock's and Birtles' vocal work comes across superbly and McArdle's (absent from the cover) bass solo on "Light Of Day" is worth having. Briggs' guitar, of course, is technically proficient and masterful throughout, but it all tends to become monotonous, in style as well as tone, which makes the album sound a bit thin and toppy, compared to the studio cuts.

Four of the eight tracks are taken from the 'Sleeper Catcher' LP, which the Home Run tour, from which these live tracks were taken, was set up to promote, with three songs from the first LP and "Help Is On Its Way" from 'Diamantina Cocktail', all perfectly reproduced here.

On the positive side, the album showcases a truly world-class Australian band outclassing a lot of the OS competition. It will sell by the truckload and might recoup some of the loss they incurred in putting on such an ambitious and lavish tour here last year. (Review by Michael Smith)

LRB Home Soon From America
(Juke Magazine, 12th July, 1980)

The Little River Band will return to Australia on July 25 following its successful tour of America in support of the double, live album Backstage Pass which has so far sold 350,000 copies.
The band arrived in the USA on June 7 and undertook a heavy schedule of concerts in Detroit, St Louis, Witchita, Oklahoma and Tulsa, supporting Pure Praire League.

The band also played support to Foreigner and Checker Dome in St Louis and to Player at the Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles for three nights. Their last concert was on Sunday at the 13000 seater Memorial Colosseum in Portland.

Little River Band arrives in Japan this week for five shows between July 15 and 22.
Prior to arriving in the States, the band spent two weeks touring Europe and in Munich they played before 40,000 people as support to Fleetwood Mac.
The trip was followed by a show at the Rainbow Theatre in London, the same venue they performed at on an earlier visit and failed to impress either the press or public. The scene was somewhat different this time around. The latest issue of the English rock magazine Lam carries this review "LRB are taking London by storm.

A record walk-up crowd witnessed pure, unadulterated Little River Band. Gone were any of the show gimmicks one normally expects from pop concerts. Instead it was the smooth professionalism of the group and the overall quality of the sound that carried the night".
LRB's latest single in America, "It's Not A Wonder" went into the high 40's in the trade charts before dropping out. No single is expected to be released there for some time.
In Australia, the single "Red Shoes" from the live album has been slow to move.
Once home, the band will rehearse material for their next studio album and a national tour will be arranged (by Graham Simpson).

The two rips below were taken from my vinyl in FLAC format and the post also includes artwork for both vinyl and CD releases. I have also taken the liberty of including the CD artwork for the US release of Backstage Pass which includes both of these live albums as a double CD compilation (see left).

I have always thought that LRB have been one of the best bands to come out of Australia, but only up until the late 90's when Pellicci (the last member of the original band) left the band. All iterations of the band since have been imposters in my opinion and the opinion of many other Australians. So, enjoy this post from the 'real LRB' and don't accept anything less. Link below contains both LP's plus all artwork

LIVE Backstage Pass (1979)
Recorded at a concert given by the Australian Broadcasting Commission in The Adelaide Festival Theatre, 1978. (Concert dates were 7th, 8th, 9th November, 1978)

Track List
01 It's A Long Way There
02 So Many Paths
03 Statue Of Liberty
04 Fall From Paradise
05 Light Of Day
06 Reminiscing
07 Man In Black
08 Help Is On Its Way

LRB were:
Glenn Shorrock - Lead vocals
Beeb Birtles - Vocals and Guitar
David Briggs - Lead Guitar
Graham Goble - Vocals and Guitar
George McArdle - Bass
Derek Pellicci - Drums

Live In America (1980)
Recorded In The USA And Canada during their American Tour in 1979. Tracks taken from their October and November concerts

Track List
01 Hard Life 4:22
02 The Rumour 4:04
03 Mistress Of Mine 5:36
04 Too Lonely Too Long 3:04
05 Red Shoes 4:29
06 I Don't Worry No More 4:10
07 Let's Dance 3:31
08 Man On The Run 3:57
09 It's Not A Wonder 4:24
10 Sweet Old Fashioned Man 4:29

LRB Were:
Glenn Shorrock - Lead Vocals
Beeb Birtles - Vocals and Guitar
Graham Goble - Vocals and Guitar
David Briggs - Lead Guitar
Barry Sulliuvan - Bass
Derek Pellicvi - Drums
Mal Logan - Keyboards

Little River Band Live Link (514Mb)

Saturday, April 30, 2022

W.O.C.K On Vinyl: Jo Jo Zep And The Falcons - Limited Edition Double Single (1980)

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

Joe Camilleri was born in Malta during 1948, the third of ten children. In 1964, he was singing with a band called The Brollies, then joined up with ex-Captain Matchbox member Dave Flett in the King Bees. After they split, Camilleri retired from rock'n'roll for a few years, resurfacing as leader of the Adderley Smith Blues Band in 1970. Two years later he was with Lipp & The Double Decker Brothers and, even later, toured WA mining towns with Flett and Skyhooks founder Peter Starkie — as Roger Rocket & The Millionaires.

In 1973, Joe Camilleri moved from Western Australia to Melbourne to play with The Sharks and then formed The Pelaco Brothers in 1974, who recorded a memorable EP (see previous post). This led to a brief association with Mushroom Records for the Christmas 1975 single "Run Run Rudolph" (as Jo Jo Zep), produced by Ross Wilson. Camilleri was then asked to open for Skyhooks at a Myer Music Bowl concert in Melbourne and recruited Gary Young, John Powers, Wayne Burt and Jeff Burstin. Thus was born Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons, who debuted on vinyl with "Beatin' Around The Bush", which was featured in the film Oz.

This was followed by the 1977 albums 'Don't Waste It' and 'Whip It Out' produced by Ross Wilson, the live EP 'Loud And Clear' and a 10" mini-album 'So Young'.

The hard-blowing, hot-swinging Falcons were a distillation of a decade of diligently noncommercial urban blues bands. They stood their uncompromised ground until Australian rock caught up with them and then proceeded to blow everyone else offstage with contagious boogie of a relevant and intelligent nature. Highly regarded in diverse musical circles, they toured with Graham Parker & The Rumour and were invited to play at the 1980 Montreaux Jazz & Blues Festival, in the wake of the acclaimed 'Screaming Targets' album and two strong chart hits, "Hit and Run" and "Shape I'm In".

The band continued on its winning streak with the 1980 'Hats Off Step Lively' album and the hit single "I Will Return" which was the band's first attempt at using strings in a recording. In Joe's words 'We had a great arrangement for it and I had the whole song down and recorded apart from the very first bit which I just could not sing in tune for ages!'

This month's WOCK on Vinyl post features a limited edition Double Single package which contained two 45's from Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons. The first 45 features two versions of "I Will Return", the A side is a track from Hats Off Step Lively album which was recorded at AAV studios in March, 1980, whilst the B side was recorded live at the bottomline nightclub, New York in July, 1980. The second 45 showcases the tracks "Don't Wanna Come Down" and "I Need Your Loving" which were both recorded live at the 1980 Montreux Jazz & Blues Festival held in Switzerland. This unique double single, four track package was strictly a limited edition release (selling for $1.99, the same price as a normal 45 at that time). To ensure that the two 45's were not sold separately by dodgy record outlets, Mushroom records printed "Bonus Single Not For Sale" on the 2nd 45's label.

 Because this double single had a limited number of pressings and rarely appears on eBay, it certainly ticks the Obscure check box for  being a WOCK on vinyl candidate.  This post consists of FLACs,  cover artwork and label scans taken from my prized vinyl. Although my copy is in almost mint condition, it was still necessary to increase the volume of the D-Side "I Need Your Loving", due to it's excessive length - 8:40.  This release is certainly worth grabbing, as you won't hear any of these live recordings elsewhere. 

Track Listing
Side A -  I Will Return (Studio)  3:20
Side B -  I Will Return (Live at the Bottomline nightclub, New York)  3:29
Side C -  Don't Wanna Come Down (Live At The Montreaux Jazz & Blues Festival)  3:26
Side D -  I Need Your Loving (Live At The Montreaux Jazz & Blues Festival)  8:40

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Larry Carlton - Singing-Playing (1973)

 (U.S 1962 - Present)

Welcome to one of the rarest albums by a guitarist whose session work appears on more records than probably even he can remember! Steely Dan, Joni Mitchell, The Crusaders, Al Jarreau, Minnie Fliperton, Ftandy Crawford, Christopher Cross, Bill Withers, Gap Mangione, Paul Anka, Michael McDonald, Mike Post, Barbra Streisand and many others have utilised his talents.

Larry Carlton was born on 2nd March 1948 in Torrance, California. Musically gifted from an early age, he was a great admirer of the great jazz guitarists like Wes Montgomery, Howard Roberts, Barney Kessel and Joe Pass - in fact Larry almost left college in his teens to replace Joe Pass in George Shearing's quintet.

Early musical employment included a spell in Disneyland's house band, a spell at NBC TV as a staff music writer in 1969, and numerous sessions - to quote one source: "three sessions a day, five days a week, and commanding triple-scale rates".

Larry Carlton (Centre) with the 
This, his first album recorded for Blue Thumb Records in 1973 (and later re-issued by MCA in 1980), introduced his own individual style of playing the Gibson 335 guitar, as well as featuring his singing on six of the eight tracks (on his later albums the vocals would become less of a feature). Relatively unknown writers provided the six songs (although "I Cry Mercy" was written and recorded by Smith Perkins Smith, an Island Records group whose guitarist Wayne Perkins was briefly touted to replace Mick Taylor in The Rolling Stones).

The trademark 'Carlton' guitar sound is evident throughout, as is his toneless singing. The tracks here have a more earthy feel, as opposed to the over-produced stylings he would later employ; however, the overall results are disappointing. The guitar playing is certainly impressive (especially the distortion-filled "Free Way"), but sadly there is not enough of it. Regardless, this is an interesting part of Carlton's beginnings and there are enough moments here that foreshadow his evolvement into one of the most distinctive voices in the history of electric guitar.

He was backed by some of the best session players of the day, with The Crusaders accompanying him on the two instrumental cuts. Inspired no doubt by these recordings, the long-established Jazz group recruited Carlton to their ranks and he featured on several of their mid-seventies albums, most notably "Those Southern Knights" in 1976. At the same time, along with The Crusaders and several others of the session alumni on this album he played on Joni Mitchell's commercial breakthrough albums "Court And Spark" and "The Hissing Of Summer Lawns", though arguably Larry's best playing for Mitchell is to be found on "Hejira".

Around this time he also played on Steely Dan albums, being responsible for the staggering boundary-defying solo on "Kid Charlemagne" on the "Royal Scam" album. The fluidity of his playing and the tastefulness with which he explores previously uncharted guitar territory is only rivalled by that of Lee Ritenour.

Larry left The Crusaders in 1977 to resume his solo recording career, and thus missed out on playing on their top 10 album and top 5 single "Street Life" in 1979. His debut album for Warner Brothers "Larry Carlton" was released in August 1978 and featured the instant classic "Point It Up", an instrumental which also featured on "Mr 335 Live - ln Japan". More excellent albums followed for Warner Brothers and MCA, winning him a brace of Grammies on the way, and Larry is currently with Dave Grusin's GRP Records.

ln 1988, he disturbed an intruder at his studio, who shot him in the neck. Emergency operations ensued, but thankfully after physiotherapy he eventually made a complete recovery, and returned to recording and touring. His most recent project has been the long-anticipated collaboration with Lee Ritenour, "Larry And Lee", having been released in spring 1995 on GRP Records.

This album is a snapshot of a young developing guitarist before he released those brilliant trilogy of jazz fusion albums for Warner Brothers (see the first of these on my blog HERE). 

This post consists of FLACS ripped from CD (quality is far superior to my vinyl copy, even though it is a Japanese release), and includes full album artwork for both media.  

01 Easy Evil  4:57
02 I Cry Mercy  3:15
03 One More Chance  3:13
04 With Respect to Coltrane  5:53
05 American Family  4:03
06 Wavin' and Smilin'  3:01
07 Captain, Captain  3:28
08 Free Way  6:15

Backing Vocals – Chris Nelson, Julia Tillman Waters, Maxine Willard Waters, Oma Drake
Bass – Joe Osborne, Max Bennett, Reinie Press, Wilton Felder
Drums – "Stix" Hooper, Jim Gordon, John Guerin, Ron Tutt
Electric Piano – Joe Sample
Guitar, Vocals, Bass, Vibraphone, Percussion, Producer – Larry Carlton
Keyboards – Michael Omartian
Percussion – Alan Estes, Michael Mills

Monday, April 18, 2022

Journey - Infinity (1978) + Bonus Demo

 (U.S 1973-1987, 1991, 1995-Present)

The Steve Perry Story

Prior to Steve Perry's arrival,  Journey had been a fairly inconspicuous and mainly instrumental fusion outfit, looking to muscle in on the jazz-rock scene perpetrated by the likes of Weather Report and the Mahavisnu Orchestra.

Journey’s interest in experimental jazz-fusion was confirmed on their self-titled debut album issued in 1975. A classy work, the album resonates with a surety beyond their recent formation, all players coming across as both fluid and experienced. Neal Schon in particular rips up his fretboard like combination of Jeff Beck and Robert Fripp. Check out the seven-minute long Kahoutek where he trades call-and-response licks with Gregg Rolie.

Surprisingly for such complex music, the album sold moderately well, reaching No.138 on the Billboard chart. After George Tickner bailed out of the band, their next two albums – 1976’s 'Look Into The Future' and 1977’s 'Next' – repeated the pattern, with Gregg Rolie making a concerted effort to deliver reasonably effective vocals atop what was clearly a jazz-fusion fanfaronade.

Great players, Journey’s early style and meticulous arrangements would, inevitably, limit their appeal unless radical changes were implemented. Their sound had attracted stellar critical reviews but, as a commercial entity, they were stuck in a rut. Not surprisingly, at the behest of their label, Columbia, changes needed to be made, a radical re-modelling of the band was demanded to expand their appeal.

Effectively this meant adding a proper vocalist/frontman and modifying the musical direction. It was a bitter pill to swallow but the band took it on the chin and cast their net to see what was possible.

Journey with Robert Fleischman (Far Right) 1977

 They settled on Californian Robert Fleischman, who teamed up with the band in June 1977, at the request of label president Bruce Lundvall, who asked Robert to fly to San Francisco and see the band. Fleischman rapidly assimilated with his new bandmates, co-writing a handful of songs, three of which – Wheel In The Sky, Anytime and Winds Of March – would later surface on Infinity.

However, after touring with Fleischman for nearly one year, things fell apart between the band and their nearly acquired vocalist and the decision was made to recruit Perry (who was working as the band's technician) to the position, after he auditioned for the role during a sound check.

It was the beginning of a new chapter for Journey. Equipped with an appealing personality, good looks and a voice to kill for, Perry soon became the focal point of attention. It was now time to unleash his talent in the studio by recording Journey’s fourth and pivotal album, Infinity.

Journey Infinity Publicity Photo 1978

The plan was simple: write songs, hire a producer, select a studio and make an album that would set out their stall for the next 10 years or more. Steve immersed himself in songwriting with all the band members, but mainly with new creative partner Neal Schon, eventually securing co-writing credits on eight of the 10 songs.

Steve and Neal struck up a strong rapport and quickly established a beachhead, strengthening the band’s sound and setting in place a new direction. The emphasis was now on fully formed songs with melodies, hooks and the sort of contemporary buff that made the competition quake in their boots.

The choice of producer was inspired. Band, management and label all agreed on Roy Thomas Baker, the flamboyant British studio craftsman who had worked with some of the most influential rock bands around, including Free and – most importantly – Queen.

After seeing the band live in Santa Monica, RTB (as he is affectionately known) and his trusted engineer Geoff Workman rendezvoused with the band at His Master’s Wheels Studio (formerly Alembic Studios), located on Brady Street in downtown San Francisco.

“They put me in a little apartment on Bay Street,” remembers Steve. “I went to SIR [Studio Instrument Rentals, a well-known rehearsal room] every day and wrote songs with band.

“Then, all of a sudden RTB comes in. We had enormous respect for him, because he’d produced Queen and Free. He was so much fun. The studio [His Master’s Wheels] had an old Neve console and a large tracking room, and the next thing you know he was really giving us a different sound.

 “Neal’s doing what we called ‘violin guitars’. Roy had me stack all the vocals on a 40-track machine, and I really enjoyed that process. Also, Geoff Workman was so instrumental that we ended up grabbing him to do one of the records [Departure] without RTB.

“We rehearsed the material quite a bit before we recorded it so everything was ready to go before Roy got there. What Roy gave us was the opportunity to try different textures and ideas, but the foundational aspect of the songs and the arrangements were done. He really gave us a direction, and from there the band found itself.”

“I have fond memories of working with Roy and Geoff,” says Gregg. “Roy was very much into experimentation, and quite wild in the studio. The multi-tracking of guitars and vocals was a brand new thing for us – all the layering. It was intense work. He created a sound which a lot of the guys didn’t like because it was so edgy, but I happened to dig it.

“Those tracks had a specific sound to them, which is what a good producer does. He was, and still is, a real character. Him and Workman both – they were fun to be around. Workman did a lot of the heavy lifting, inasmuch as getting things done.

 “Geoff had worked with Roy for a long time and knew what he wanted. If Roy disappeared for a couple of hours, Geoff just carried on because he knew what they were doing as a team. We used the same team on the next album, Evolution. It got us on the map.”

Not surprisingly, the biggest impact was the quality and strength of Steve Perry’s vocals.

“I certainly discovered the depth of multi-tracking, as I never had a chance to work on a 40-track machine before,” says Perry. “I’d never had the ability to do eight root notes and then bounce them to one track, then wipe those and do the eight thirds, wipe those then do eight fifths and eight octaves and so on – and suddenly you have a big stack like on Anytime. When they are layered and smeared tight they just really block up. Roy knew how to do that.”

With the album completed, a design makeover followed. The band brought in renowned San Francisco artists Alton Kelley and Stanley Mouse (real name Stanley George Miller). The duo had first hooked up with San Francisco’s counter-cultural doyens the Grateful Dead (designing their album covers) and legendary West Coast promoter Bill Graham (designing his gig posters). During the early 70s they had formed the Mouse Studio, and helped rebrand Journey by designing and standardising their cover art, including Infinity’s colourful flaming wings. The pair also came up with a Journey logo.

 Says Perry: “Bruce Lundvall was the president of Columbia at the time, and he quipped that, in order for us to make another record with me singing, we would have to sell one million units. Hence the reason we stayed on the road for 298 shows that year. We started touring in February and didn’t come home for almost a year.

"Wheel In The Sky" was the first single. Neal and I went to a pizza place, and I went over to the jukebox and saw a Wheel In The Sky 45 in that machine – an ecstatic feeling. I didn’t tell Neal, I just put two quarters in, pushed the button and sat down and the song started. Neal looked at me and started laughing. It was a monumental moment. Back then if you were starting to show up in jukeboxes it was a sign that you might be finally starting to happen."

 'Infinity' marked Perry’s initiation into the world of professional recording, a milestone in contemporary aural acrobatics. Within the confinement of 10 songs he effortlessly switched from breezy improvisation (La Do Da) to epic bombast (Wheel In The Sky), providing a template from which future creative diamonds would emerge, forever cementing the appeal of Journey and securing his place in rock’s vocal Hall Of Fame. [ extract from Louder Sound)

Album Review (by Easy Livin' - Progarchives)
Following the spectacular lack of success for their musically credible first three albums, Journey succumbed to pressure from their record company and reinvented themselves. Recognising that they were weak in the vocal department, they initially brought in Robert Fleischman as lead vocalist. He however lasted less than a year, there being only one commercially available recording by the band with his vocal ("For you" can be found on the "Time 3" box set). He did however write other songs with the band, three of which can be found on "Infinity".

Towards the end of 1977, in the most significant move of the band's entire existence, Steve Perry took on the role of lead vocalist. For my money, Perry has one of the best voices in rock. Derided for steering the band away from the fusion based rock which they had played thus far, it must however be acknowledged that his arrival immediately delivered the commercial success the band and their record label craved. On this album Perry shares lead vocal duties with founder Gregg Rolie, but it is already apparent that Rolie's talents are stronger elsewhere.

Noted Queen producer Roy Thomas Baker was brought in to produce the album, Baker bringing with him many of the techniques he had used to great success with Queen.

The opening "Lights", written by Steve Perry and Neal Schon, gives an immediate indication of the way Journey will head forever more. This classic AOR ballad may be ultra smooth, but it has a killer melody and all the ingredients of a live anthem. Perry and Schon dominate the writing on the album as a whole, but the other band members do contribute too.

The songs alternate between the ballads, the anthems and the upbeat rock songs, but all the while they are shorter and much more focused. Gone are the long instrumental breaks, and improvisations are now a definite no go area. The tracks here run from 2½ to 5 minutes, with most being around the preferred single length of 3-4 minutes.

Tracks such as the vocal ballad "Patiently" may sound nothing like anything we have heard thus far from Journey, but sales of the album speak for themselves, and such songs at least secured a future for Journey. Personally, I consider it a wonderful song anyway.

The upbeat "Wheel in the sky" is similar to Gary Moore's "Murder in the skies", melodically at least but not in sentiment. "Wheel In The Sky" was chosen to be released as the album's first single.

The five minute "Winds of March", written during Robert Fleischman's brief time with the band, is the closest we get to anything prog here. The song includes some fine organ and guitar, which sit well alongside Perry's superb vocal.

In all, an album which for my money is unfairly derided, not for the music it contains, but for what it represents in terms of Journey's history. The simple fact is though that the band's record label were ready to drop them. They had to reinvent or die. It is to their credit that they took the bold steps they did. While "Infinity" may represent the end of Journey as a band with progressive credentials, it is still a fine album.

This post consists of FLACS ripped from my vinyl copy, acquired from one of the major Import Shops in Melbourne back in 1979, located in Flinders Street if my memory serves me right. The album cover and records labels have their Record Label details blackened out with texter, a common practice by Aussie import shops at the time. Why, I am unsure. 
As a bonus, I am also including a demo of "Wheel In The Sky", recorded in 1977 with Robert Fleischman on lead vocals. Fleischman's vocals have a distinct Robert Plant feel about them, and although good; they lack the refinedness and vocal range of Perry's. Steve Perry is definitely one of the great voices of rock, a one of a kind type of vocalist and will influence a whole generation of aspiring crooners.

Tracks Listing
01. Lights (3:10)
02. Feeling That Way (3:27)
03. Anytime (3:28)
04. Lă Do Dā (2:58)
05. Patiently (3:20)
06. Wheel In The Sky (4:12)
07. Somethin' To Hide (3:26)
08. Winds Of March (5:04)
09. Can Do (2:39)
10. Opened The Door (4:34)
11. Wheel In The Sky (Bonus Demo with Robert Fleischman on vocals)

- Steve Perry / lead vocals
- Neal Schon / electric & acoustic guitars, backing vocals
- Gregg Rolie / keyboards, lead (2,3) & backing vocals
- Ross Valory / bass, backing vocals
- Aynsley Dunbar / drums, percussion