Tuesday, May 31, 2011

W.O.C.K On Vinyl - Weird Al Yankovic: Like A Surgeon (1985)

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

Alfred Matthew "Weird Al" Yankovic, born October 23, 1959 is an American singer-songwriter, music producer, actor, comedian, satirist, and a parodist. Yankovic is known for his humorous songs that make light of popular culture and that often parody specific songs by contemporary musical acts. Since his first-aired comedy song in 1976, he has sold more than 12 million albums—more than any other comedy act in history—recorded more than 150 parody and original songs,and has performed more than 1,000 live shows.

Yankovic's success comes in part from his effective use of music video to further parody popular culture, the song's original artist, and the original music videos themselves, scene-for-scene in some cases.
Although Yankovic refuses to use parody ideas from other people, Madonna is partly responsible for "Like a Surgeon". Madonna asked one of her friends how long it would take until Yankovic satirized her song "Like a Virgin" as "Like a Surgeon". This friend was a mutual friend of Al's manager, Jay Levey. When word got back to Yankovic, he decided it was a good idea and wrote the song. This is the only known time that Yankovic has gotten a parody idea directly from the original artist.

"Like A Surgeon" is the first song on his "Dare To Be Stupid" album, released in 1985. It reached #19 on the Australian charts and #47 on the Us Billboard charts and like most of his singles, coincided with a Video Clip release which is also included in this post.

For those of you who love a bit of trivia, here is some tip bits straight from his very own website..How did Weird Al Yankovic get his start in the music business? As a teenager, Al began sending homemade tapes of his songs to Dr. Demento, a nationally syndicated disc jockey known for playing comedy and novelty music. Demento found a certain charm in the accordion-powered ditties that Al recorded on a cheap cassette player in his own bedroom, and gave him his first airplay. By the time Al graduated from college, he not only had a modest cult following from the good Doctor's radio show, but he also had a couple of nationally-released singles ("My Bologna" and "Another One Rides The Bus")

In 1982 he signed a deal with Scotti Bros. Records, who went on to release all of his albums through to Bad Hair Day (1996). Volcano Records eventually bought Scotti Bros. Records, issuing 'Running With Scissors' and 'Poodle Hat', and re-releasing Al's entire back catalog. .
What instruments does Weird Al Yankovic play?

Although he can play other keyboard instruments, the accordion has always been Al's main "axe," and he continues to play it on record as well as in concert. His first lesson was on the day before his 7th birthday. After three years of accordion lessons, he quit, deciding to continue learning on his own.
How did Weird Al Yankovic get the name "Weird Al"?

Although he seems to remember people calling him "Weird Al" during his freshman year in the Cal Poly dorms, it didn't become official until Al started doing shifts as a DJ at his campus radio station, KCPR. He gave himself the air-name of "Weird Al" because of his penchant for playing music that was, well, kind of weird? and the nickname just kind of stuck.

So there you have it, his name says it all so I hope you enjoy this very Weird and very funny parody from 85'. One final thing to note is
the 'Madonna lookalike' nurse in the video clip and on the single cover - an absolute dead ringer!

The following tracks are on the single:
A - "Like a Surgeon" – 3:27
B - "Slime Creatures from Outer Space" – 4:23
Like A Surgeon Link (27Mb)
New Link 11/01/2023

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Stylus - Where In The World (1975) plus Bonus Track

(Australian 1975-1979, 1992, 2002-2010)
Stylus was a popular Melbourne funk/soul band of distinguished membership that released four albums and a number of singles 1975-1979. The band was fronted by Peter Cupples who went on to form the Peter Cupples Band (see earlier post)
Stylus grew out of the ashes of Melbourne band Mason's Cure, formed by keyboardist Ian Mason (ex-Kush). Mason's Cure issued one single on Astor in early 1975, "Let Me Love You Right"/"Back to Reality", before Mason left the group. He joined The Bootleg Band, and went on to issue a solo single, "Gotta Lotta Love"/"Keep It Up" (August 1978), and album, 'Nobody Takes Me Seriously' (Oz/EMI, 1978). Singer Peter Cupples had been the focal point of Mason's Cure, so with Mason's departure, the band recruited Sam McNally on keyboards and became Stylus. The band toured as support to Focus, Ike and Tina Turner and Sherbet, scored a deal with WEA (Atlantic) and issued the single Seals and Crofts' "Summer Breeze"/"Feelin' Blue" (July 1975). The single reached #31 in Melbourne during August. The band's second single, "World of Make Believe"/"Just Began" (October) reached #27.
In November 1975, WEA issued the Stylus debut album 'Where in the World' (#19 in Melbourne during December). The album produced a third single, "I'm Going Home"/"Where in the World" (April 1976), but by that stage Stylus had left WEA. The band issued one single, "So Much Love"/"We All Need One Another" (#30 in August 1976), on Crystal Clear, before signing a new deal with Ross Wilson and Glenn Wheatley's Oz label (through EMI). The album For the Love of Music produced the singles "I Just Don't Wanna Fall in Love Right Now"/"Funky Fig" (October 1976) and "Kissin"/"For the Love of Music" (June 1977). By that stage, Peter Lee had been replaced by Trevor Courtney (ex-Vibrants, Skylight) initially, and then by Joe Tattersalls (ex-Ayers Rock) by the end of the year.
Courtney played on the band's third album, 'The Best Kept Secret ' (April 1978), which produced the singles "Work Out Fine"/"Natural Feeling" (March), "Look at Me"/"You Can't Get It Out of Your Head" (July) and "Got to Say Goodbye"/"Discover Your Life" (November). The prestigious American label Motown distributed the album in the USA (under the title Stylus) via the Prodigal imprint. In late 1978, Peter Roberts (ex-Ride Band) joined Stylus as co-lead vocalist. Not long after that, Mark Meyer (ex-Sailor) replaced Tattersalls on drums, and the band supported visiting American jazz guitarist George Benson on his Australian tour. The band's fourth album, 'Part of It All' (August 1979), and its single, "If You Believe in Me"/"Byron Bay" (August), were not successful and the members of Stylus parted.
A Stylus reunion tour in 2002 yielded the album 'Still Alive'.
. .
Interview with Stylus (RAM # 44, November 5th, 1976)
'We Flunked Business College' admit Stylus
It's been a while. Sam McNally was telling me since Stylus last appeared in these hallowed pages. McNally is Stylus' keyboard player and he has a point: RAM No. 21 was, I think, the last time that the group scored themselves an article. In fact I think both he and vocalist Peter Cupples are slightly peeved by the fact. We three are gathered around the small kitchen table of Cupples' Elsternwick (Vic.) home getting down to a bit of interviewing, you see, and the qu
estion of Stylus long silence has popped up.
Maybe you'd noticed. Stylus have maintained a fairly low-key existence over the last six-or-so months Which is pretty unusual, because their brand of funky good-time music got them off onto a highly promising start. The singles Summer Breeze and Make Believe both did a fair share of chart climbing and the album 'Where In The World' didn't exactly sink without trace (it is now almost gold). The only real sign of activity lately, however, has been the single So Much Love, which inexplicably did very link-chart-wise. Why the silence?
Well, after about ten minutes of talking it becomes clear Stylus think they have the answer. Bv that time the conversation had shifted to a discussion of the group s old record company -
W.E.A, whom they split from in January. Although Where In The World came out as well as,if not better than they had expected they have few compliments for W.E.A records.
"There was no communicat
ion with W.E.A at all," explains McNally. "They just weren't interested in us.
Well, how did you first get signed up?

"We weren't signed up with them technically".
"It was all done through our manager", continues Cupples, ruefully munching an apple. "We didn't know much about it. We didn't know much about anything at this stage. We were sort of rookie
s in the business". He grins.
"lt was terribly, t
erribly confusing", says McNally. "because there was us, then our management, then the record company, and it was mainly between management and record company. We felt we were left in the dark".
All in all. Stylus stress, they were
Not Happy.
A question about management was met with silence, then a burst of laughter, then a request from McNally to keep qu
iet about it. Management, they assured me, was "going to be cool, but they preferred not to talk about it.
Neither McNally nor Cupples are very
specific, but they stress the musical side of the band had been disrupted over the past six months and that a lot of their time had been spent sorting out managerial and related matters.

"The most important thing we're aiming for", says McNally. "is ownership of our own music, instead of being signed up to a company that has the right to do whatever they like with what they call our Product. We want the right to say where and when we want Product X released, which is very important".
"We want to keep it together, keep it nice and honest" continues Cupples "In this business you don t need a certificate to become a manager. Any whack can become a manager, it (the business) has got to become more professional and the bands — the music — has got to be respected more. The
music is the seed, everything branches out from that.
"Now we're taking a very
careful look at what we are doing on a business level as well as a musical level. You've got to, otherwise (pause) you could end up really badly in the shit"
Sure enough, a week after the interview the band split their ties with the past and signed to Glenn Wheatley's Oz label
Whatever happens next, let's hope both band ,and new record company k
eep smiling warmly at each other. Certainly Stylus haven't done very well in the world of Big Business so far
But less of these downers and more of the happy, musical expansiveness that Stylus are renowned for Musically, things have never been better, as Peter Cupples will tell you
"Musically'.' Yeah, it feels great."
For audiences it feels great too. Stylus are a rare example of the sort of band who don't use sticks of dynamite and guitar-in-the-crotch poses as springboards for their musical prowess. They are, if you like funky, but they are definitely not the usual, banal, disco rhythm-ace hook-up that word is often applied to.
They're funky in the sweetly melodic
, wordly-aware sense the best examples of Philadelphian soul music always demonstrate. A melody line is never a repetition, it's always a winding path with undulating movements that suggest the gradual unfolding of A Direction. Their choruses are a celestial blending of voices that sometimes suggest the Beach Boys singing church hymns. The music, more often than not is adventurously arranged with a subtlety and feeling fulness that demonstrates a compatibility which allows each musician to respond to his fellow members.
If there's one criticism of the group that's endured, it's that their internal harmony and unity is often mistaken for blandness. And their propensity for delving into gentle themes of Brotherly Togetherness and the Quest For Inner Peace And An Organic Gardening Plot (all members are vegetarians)" sometimes attracts the unwelcome tag of the Macrobiotic Wimps.
Still, only those who really listen can hope to know what is really going down.
The band is incredibly together as a unit," says McNally. "We feel that
in the next week or so we're going to be on the verge of our-biggest breakthrough ever
This statement has more than a little to do with the fact that, by the time you are reading this, their new album For The Love Of Music will probably have been released. It's been over a year since the first album and both members become animated when talking about the newie.
"With the first album." says Cupples, "we had a lot of early stuff I'd written and it was in a Philadelphian funky vein I feel. The first one was sort of "let's have a go and see what happens" type of thing. We had no really set ideas and it came togethe
r a lot in the studio.
"Whereas the new one ... it's a lot further advanced. We're more carefully chosen the material and put the album together a hell of a lot better. This time I've gone in with a concept
on about 70 % of the production things and it s been put together as more of a concept of what we're about. The playing has also improved incredibly ..
This album, as with the first, has been produced by Cupples and Trevor Courtenay and all the tracks were written by Cupples, except two which were co-written with Courtenay. The tracks are For The Love Of Music. We All Need One Another, Gettin' In The Groove, Nature Is Giving So Much Love, Sweetness, What's Right For You, Love Is All We Have, Musical Man and Moving on Home. The
latter two Cupples describes as External Road songs, ones that he wrote while the group were on an interstate Sherbet tour last year. So Much Love was also written on that tour, as he explains.
"That was one of the things that inspired me to write the song for Ashley, because I sat down, took a look at the band in concert format and started thinking how we could utilise what we had within the band to make the show look better. And I thought "well it would be nice if Ashley were to come out the front". because he's got a really beautiful voice but he hadn't really sat down and sung anything. Anyway, he dug the idea and it really blew a hell of a lot of people out when he began to do it.
Indeed. I'm yet to find a person with an unkind thing to say about So Much Love and yet . . and yet . it's somehow failed to do really big business. Cupples says that he, too, thought it would do more than it did and maybe business problems are again mainly to blame: the song was recorded in December but not released until June because of the many hassles the band were experiencing.
Still, the milk is spilt and the band are now looking towards a new song. At the time of interviewing the songs were still in need of mixing. Once that's completed, a single will he selected. There is also a mystery song not yet recorded. (The following sentence, from Cupples, constitutes my only scoop of the afternoon ! (Ah- gee Rich —only one measly scoop in a whole afternoon !! — ed.)
'Yes, we have a big surprise. We have this single in the can at the moment which I'll tell you about. It's a song written by Ashley and it's really incredible.
"It's a very simple, fairly slow ballad" continues McNally and they proceed to give me an exclusive (exclusive mind you) listen to a rough mix. The song not only sounded as sweet 'n' funky as anything they've done before, it was also given a visual aspect by Cupples young son, who performed a series of guitar hero poses roughly to the beat, on a four string ukelele. The song could succeed where 'So Much Love' failed. It is also the first time another member of the band has had one of their songs recorded. The writing of McNally and guitarist Ron Peers is also developing. Cuppies informs me and hopefully this will further broaden the band's scope.
Ultimately, however, they are looking to America and possibly Europe and Japan, as their next step forward. Even though they are based in Melbourne, McNally says they rarely play here at the moment. Other states, particularly Adelaide, seem to give them a better reception but overall "it's very hard to sell this type of music in this country. Whether we have a better chance over there is hard to say — we'll just have to go over and find out"
"There s nothing definite yet" says Cupples. "Just some 
good things up in the air that need bringing down to the ground and sorting out. We have a few contacts in L A. and on the East Coast, so we wanna get over there and get a few things tied up. Most definitely it will be hard. But if you're in the environment where you're playing to an audience that really get off on the music, well, you really want to work for them - go home, get new things down, better things. But here you get no reaction at all from the crowds, y'know. You just wanna go home and sleep for six months. [reported by Richard Guilliair in RAM #55 Nov 5th 1976. p19].
A-World Of Make Believe / B-Just Begun
This post consists of a rip taken from from pristine vinyl copy at 320kps and includes full album artwork, along with scans of an insert sheet containing B&W photos and lyrics. I have also included a live rendition of "Summer Breeze", recorded on the Steve Vizard Show in 1992 and a scan of the RAM magazine article from which the above interview was transcribed.
Although funky R&B is not my favourite genre of music, I still enjoy Stylus's early material - in particular this, their debut album.
Note: Because the tracks "Will This Continue" and "Just Begun" run into one another without any distinguishing break (sounds like one song to me!), I have ripped them as a single track 03.
Track Listing
01 - World Of Make Believe

02 - All In The Game

03 - Will This Continue/Just Begun

04 - Summer Breeze

05 - Paradise

06 - I'm So In Love With You
07 - Where In The World

08 - I'm Going Home

09 - Summer Breeze (Bonus Live 1992)

Band Members:
Peter Cupples (Guitar, Vocals, Congas & Percussion)

Ashley Henderson (Bass, Vocals)

Ron Peer's (Lead Guitar, Vocals)

Sam McNally (Keyboards)

Peter Lee (Drums & Percussion)

Stylus Link (104Mb) REPOST

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Pink Floyd - Festival Hall, Melbourne (1971) Bootleg

(U.K 1965 - 1996, 2005)
As part of their 'Atom Heart Mother World Tour', Pink Floyd first performed in Australia on Friday 13th August 1971, at Melbourne Festival Hall, and then on Sunday 15th August at Randwick Racecourse in Sydney.

Pink Floyd’s first shows in Australia were originally announced in June of 1971 to the music press as taking place at the Dallas Brooks Hall in Melbourne on August 21st and 22nd, but reduced to a single performance less than a month later in the new advertisements for August 13th.
According to the magazine Go-Set, “the promoters spent so much time and energy publicising their Rock Concert Club that there was very little mention of the concert actually at hand, the amazing Pink Floyd.
The result was a not very full Festival Hall that really didn’t do justice to the occasion at all.”
[extract from collectors music reviews]

They arrived in Australia on 11th August 1971, and at Melbourne Airport they were interviewed by Gary Mac for Go-Set (a 24 page music newspaper). Australian journalists, not realising that the Floyd disliked talking about the music, actually received a couple of decent interviews with all the members of the band. Mac's interview plus a review of the Melbourne concert appeared in the Saturday, 28th August 1971 edition of Go-Set (volume 6, number 35).

The Rock Concert Club of Australia was responsible for bringing Pink Floyd down under on this occasion, but their promotion left a lot to be desired. The resulting audiences put Floyd off coming here again. At each gig, the Rock Concert Club put 10" round, purple leaflets on every seat, telling the audience that if they were members of the club they could have seen the band for free. I am sure that the Floyd were unimpressed by this.
The Melbourne Festival Hall is renowned for its poor sound, but the Floyd along with their quad sound were able to overcome the hall's shortcomings. The hall was only about half full owing to almost non-existent promotion. At both concerts Pink Floyd were supported by other bands, a very rare occurrence indeed! Pirana came on first and played for one hour followed by Lindsay Bourke. Both bands were somewhat below the Floyd standard of extreme freeform improvisation.

After a ten minute break (9:30pm approx), Pink Floyd came on stage and Roger announced "Good evening. This is called Atom Heart Mother". They then went into a sixteen minute non-orchestrated performance of the piece. After a minute or so of tuning up, Roger announced, "We're just going to retune then we're going to do two things together. The first of which is a song from the soundtrack from the film More, which I hear was banned over here, and it's called Green Is The Colour. And the second is an instrumental called Careful With That Axe, Eugene". Both songs together lasted fourteen and a half minutes. This was either the last, or the penultimate, performance of Green Is The Colour (I'm not sure if it was played in Sydney).
After that, Roger said "This next thing is a new piece, and it's called Echoes. And it's going to take us a minute or two to get it together because one of our lenses has burnt out". This was the first time it was announced as "Echoes" (and lasted twenty two minutes), but it still had the alternate lyrics for the first verse and chorus, and the quick ending without the multi-tracked choir as at the Montreux 1971 gig.

The band then played a twelve and a half minute Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun without announcing it. They then played an eleven minute Cymbaline before Roger proclaimed "Okay. This is going to be our last tune. Thank you all for coming. It's called A Saucerful Of Secrets and we'll see you again some time". Apparently this exists in bootleg form (as posted here), unfortunately the original tape ran out after five and a half minutes into Saucerful. The show was recorded about fifty yards from the stage using a Sony TC80 mono portable cassette recorder, smuggled in a schoolbag, and a normal position BASF cassette (chrome wasn't available in 1971).
With the Melbourne concert out of the way, Pink Floyd made their way to Sydney for an afternoon performance at Randwick Racecourse. Before they went on stage, they were interviewed for the GTK (Get To Know) programme in one of the rooms at Randwick (see last track). The GTK programme was a short (five to ten minute) music show that was screened weeknights before the 6pm news. The Floyd interview lasted for nearly nine minutes. This is the only interview on film that features all four members talking together!
As yet, no audio recording of the Sydney concert has surfaced, but the GTK programme aired a two minute, fifteen second film with audio taken from the Ummagumma version of Careful With That Axe, Eugene. This showed the band surrounded by the audience with the cameraman at the top of the stands, achieving good closeups of the band, stage, and audience. It is not known how much of the concert was filmed, but this segment is all that has survived. The third part of the GTK show was a two and a half minute clip for Set The Controls using the Saucerful album version. It featured three girls running around in the desert and is an Australian only promo. This was broadcast after the band left Australia on Tuesday 17th August 1971 [report by Gary Hughes]
Now, what of the actual sound quality? The fact is this release is essentially comparable to many of the other recordings from this era; it’s rather well-balanced, with all of the instrumentation and vocals perfectly audible. The recording is actually quite loud, and as a result there is a mild amount of distortion in places, but it doesn’t overpower the music. No hiss is audible and the audience is primarily quiet throughout the performances, however there is a bit of phase shifting at times, which in truth, works for this era of Floyd !

The rip was originally sourced from tape and then converted to FLAC, however, this post consists of 320kps MP3's. Full album artwork is provided along with an alternate covers for the Godfather's release entitled 'Pink Floyd First Australian Show' (see pictured below).
Track Listing
01. Atom Heart Mother (18:22)

02. Green Is The Colour (3:31)

03. Careful With That Axe, Eugene (12:17)

04. Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun (13:54)

05. Echoes (22:28)

06. Cymbaline (12:38)

07. A Saucerful Of Secrets (5:39)

08. Interview August 15, 1971 (4:05)
Band Members:
David Gilmour (Guitar, Vocals)

Roger Waters (Bass, Vocals)

Richard Wright (Keyboards, Vocals)

Nick Mason (Drums, Percussion)

Pink Floyd Link (134Mb) New Link 30/12/2023

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Ragnarok - Selftitled (1975)

(New Zealand 1974 - 1979)
Ragnarok (which means 'twilight of the gods') were formed in Auckland in 1974, out of the remnants of breweries band Sweet Feet. Andre, Ross and Mark were originally from Christchurch, where they were together in a three piece called Flying Wild at the beginning of the seventies. They then formed Sweet Feet and moved to Auckland, where they played the pub circuit. In 1974 they disbanded this group, and it was at that point they met up with Ramon York and Lea Maalfrid.
Applying glitter, dressing loud and developing a song list of Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Yes, they formed Ragnarok. They quickly established themselves as being the ultimate acid band of the mid-seventies. They were right into synthesizers, where their instruments featured guitar synthesizers, keyboard synthesizers and mellotron. They all shared the vocals, but were also very fortunate to have one of the finest female vocalists around at the time, Lea Maalfrid, as a member of the group (see pictured right).
During 1974 they had a residency at Granny's and also appeared regularly at the 'Buck-a-Head' concerts, that saw them as popular as Split Enz and Dragon. In January 1975, Tommy Adderley closed Granny's for renovations, and when he re-opened it two months later as Granny's Rock Palace, he decided not to run with resident bands. This left the group without a regular place to play, so they decided to take to the road and toured the country extensively. They became one of the countries top draw-cards during 1975, particularly in the South Island and the provinces.
In August 1975, they released a self-titled album on Revolution, that they had recorded at Eldred Stebbing's new 16-track studio. It sold reasonably well and from it came two singles, "Fenris"/"Fire In The Sky" and "Cavier Queen"/"Born To Wander". "Fenris" provided them with a minor hit that made the bottom reaches of the charts.

At the end of 1975, Lea Maalfrid left the group to turn solo. She released one single on Atlantic in 1977 called "Pleasure Machine" / "Lavender Mountain", before leaving for Sydney in June 1978, and then later moving to Los Angeles and London, where she gained international recognition as a songwriter. For a more recent photo of Lea, see this brilliant photo by David Roberts.
Ragnarok continued on without Lea, and in 1976 they released a second album called "Nooks" and a single from the album, "Five New Years"/"The Fourteenth Knock".
In December 1976, Ragnarok appeared at a one-day festival at Waikino. Other headlining acts included the Country Flyers, Rockinghorse, Hello Sailor and Th' Dudes. By this time though, Ragnarok's cosmic rock was definitely out of favour, and their support was now wholly confined to the provinces. They had even tried a self-promoted national tour of theatres to promote their second album, but this was a failure, and the group disappeared to the east-coast of New Zealand before disbanding in 1979. Mark Jayet later went on to join Moviez, a Christchurch based pop group. [extract from New Zealand Music of the 60's, 70's and a bit of 80's]

For more recent information on Lea Maalfrid, see the following article in the New Zealand Musician
This is an amazing debut album from an incredibly talented progressive rock band. The only way I can describe Ragnarok is to compare them to German bands such as Eloy and Jane, with heavy Pink Floyd, Yes and Genesis influences. Most tracks are instrumentals, however Lea Maalfrid's vocals help take their music to a different level. It is hard to say which tracks are my favourite as they are all exceptional, but the highlight would definitely be the medley on the B-Side: Raga, Caviar Queen and Dream. If you like synths, mellotrons, violins and slick bass / guitar riffs then you are really going to enjoy this lost gem.
The rip was taken from vinyl at 256kps and includes full LP album artwork. There are a few pops and crackles at times, but over all this is the best rip I have been able to find (thanks to Electric Flower).
Track Listing
01 - Fenris
02 - Butterfly Sky
03 - Fire In The Sky

04 - Rainbow Bridge
05 - Raga

06 - Caviar Queen
07 - Dream
08 - Dawning Horn

.Band members:
Lea Maalfrid (Vocals)
Andre Jayet (Drums/Synthesiser/Mellotron /Vocals)

Ross Muir (Bass Guitar/Synthesiser/Vocals)
Mark Jayet (Drums/Percussion/Vocals)

Ramon York (Synthesized Guitar/Vocals)

Ragnarok Link (78Mb) New Link 30/09/2013

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Robin Trower - For Earth Below (1975) + Bonus Tracks

(U.K 1981-82, 2008 - Present)
Born March 9, 1945, Trower was member of Southend, England, based R&B group 'The Paramounts' which metamorphosed into Procol Harum via a somewhat devious route. Trower played guitar with that band up to 1971 'Broken Barricades' album, long before which his frustrations within Procols had been apparent.
On departure, first attempted to form new band, Jude, with ex Jethro Tull drummer Clive Bunker, singer Frankie Miller and ex Stone The Crows bassist Jim Dewar. This proved abortive, and Trower pursued solo career in cahoots with Dewar mid-1972.
Released first solo album Twice Removed From Yesterday in 1973, first incarnation of Robin Trower Band comprising himself on guitar, Dewar on bass and vocals, and Reg Isadore on drums. Trower's undoubtedly Jimi Hendrix-influenced guitar playing was and remains dominant factor, and it was as nascent guitar hero that second set, 'Bridge Of Sighs' (1974), became considerable American hit.
Early efforts were, in fact, concentrated on U.S. market, backed by heavy tours, with belated British recognition arriving largely as result of Stateside status. Before For Earth Below (1975) Isadore was replaced by ex-Sly Stone drummer Bill Lordan, and that and 1976 Robin Trower Live were again top U.S. sellers.
The man who saw a void following the death of Jimi Hendrix and filled it in his own way with some fine guitar work and the excellent vocals of James Dewar is back. Usual mix of rock/blues from the ex-Procol Harum man, and for the huge legion of fans Trower has built with his trio, this is exactly what they expect and want. Star of course is Trower's excellent guitar work, fine blues rifts predominating. Cuts that allow him long solos are best. Not a replica of Hendrix, but certainly the best in this genre and the one who has showed the most originality. Expect immediate FM action here. Best cuts: "Gonna Be More Suspicious," "For Earth Below," "Shame The Devil," "Confessin' Midnight." [Billboard 1975]
'For Earth Below', Trower's third solo album, is heavily induced with a blues-rock formula that withstands the duration of the eight tracks and adequately displays his slick guitar mastery. His subtle yet dominant fusion of blues and hard rock styles not only inflicts character throughout each song, but also demonstrates how effective an instrument the guitar can become when the proper techniques are applied. Much like 'Twice Removed From Yesterday' but not as diverse as 'Bridge of Sighs', this album has Trower sounding a tad more velvety around the edges, with the blues element sometimes governing the entire piece, an asset to the album's complete texture. The opening "Shame the Devil" and "A Tale Untold" best exemplify his distilled playing style, while a song like "Gonna Be More Suspicious" represents how focused a musician he really is, making each chord pour into the next so that the sound becomes totally viscous.
James Dewar, who plays bass and sings vocals, contributes aptly to the low end of the music, filling in where needed, while drummer Bill Lordan helps out on percussion. Finishing off with the sultry but dimensioned aura of "For Earth Below," the album wraps up with a wholehearted satisfactory feel.
The two numbers that somehow stand out from the general wah-wah Hendrix-style on the album are the ones taken at a slow tempo, namely, 'It's Only Money' and the title track. Unsurprisingly, they also turn out to be the best compositions on the record. Thus, 'Money' is distinguished by a weird 'dripping' guitar sound that adds some delicate poignancy and even a certain mystical flavour to the proceedings.
The title track is the highlight track here; pushing that 'dripping' sound still further, and adding 'psychedelic' percussion noises. Trower transforms the song into an atmospheric, dreamy chant that is finally able to raise an eye or two. When that relaxing, yet at the same time disturbing sound suddenly comes on at the end of the record to caress your ears, it's like being saved from eternal damnation - finally, Robin gives us something unusual.
I don't even care that there are no interesting solos in the song; it's not supposed to be a polygon for solos. On the other hand, listen carefully to the lengthy, hypnotic fade-out, when Dewar slowly keeps repeating 'for earth below... for earth below... for earth below...', the percussion noises slowly transform into deep sighs, and Robin emits these creepy little wails out of his guitar.
No, it's not ambient or anything, and the track is even hardly experimental; such 'half-psychedelic' numbers are quite common among seasoned rockers (cf. 'Dreams' by the Allman Brothers Band, for instance - except that 'For Earth Below' is a much better song). But it's the number's distinguished position on here that really attracts one's attention - further proof that the order of songs on an album does matter a lot.
The albums that followed 'For Earth Below' began to stray slowly from being blues-influenced to a sound that contained a mainstream feel, with fragments of bright rock adding a sheen to his raw guitar repertoire.
Trower's Guitar
Trower has been a long time proponent of the Fender Stratocaster. He currently uses his custom built Strat (made by the Fender Custom Shop) which comes in Black, Arctic White and Midnight Wine Burst. The guitar is equipped with a 1950s reissue pickup in the neck position, a 1960s reissue in the middle position, and a Texas Special at the bridge. Other features included a custom C-shaped maple neck featuring a large headstock with a Bullet truss-rod system, locking machine heads and a maple fingerboard with narrow-spaced abalone dot position inlays and 21 frets. The Strats he plays live are an exact model of his signature guitar, which is entirely unmodified. During live performances, his guitar is tuned a full step down, to a DGCFAD tuning, instead of the "standard" EADGBE tuning.
Trower is known to use anywhere from one to three 100-Watt Marshall heads with four to six cabinets on stage. Usually two JCM 800s, and a JCM 900. But, has also been known to link 100-Watt Marshall Plexi heads. It is not uncommon for Trower to play at very high volume levels through his rigs, even in relatively small venues, to achieve his desired tone. In studio sessions, Trower uses a mix of amplifiers, such as Fender Deville and Cornell Plexi Amplifers models to acquire different tonality.
He has recently been using Fulltone pedals and effects. He favors the OCD, Distortion Pro, Fat Boost, CLYDE Deluxe Wah, Deja Vibe 2, Soul-Bender, and a BOSS Chromatic Tuner. He runs his Deja Vibe into his distortion pedal to get his famous tone. He was given his own signature Fulltone Robin Trower Overdrive in late 2008.
This post includes a rip from CD (320kps) and includes full album artwork. I have also included bonus tracks recorded during the rehearsal sessions for this album, which gives the listener an insight into how some of the tracks evolved. This is one of my favourite Trower albums and in my opinion an amazing sequel to his legendary 'Brighes of Sighs' album. I was lucky enough to see Trower play at Festival Hall, in Melbourne in 1975, when he toured Australia with his 'For Earth Below' show. I remember being totally blown away with his solos and can honestly say it was one of the best concerts I've ever been to (from a music point of view).
Track Listing

01 - Shame The Devil
02 - It's Only Money

03 - Confessin' Midnight

04 - Fine Day

05 - Alethea

06 - A Tale Untold

07 - Gonna Be More Suspicious

08 - For Earth Below

Bonus Rehearsals

09 - Gonna Be Suspicious (Early Version Instrumental Jam)

10 - Fine Day (Instrumental Jam #1)

11 - Fine Day (Instrumental Jam #2)

12 - A Tale Untold (R&B Jam)

13 - For Earth Below (Slow Keyboard Blues)

14 - Fine Day (Early Rough Vocal Run Through)

Band Members:
Robin Trower (Guitar)

James Dewar (Vocals, Bass)

Bill Lordan (Drums)

Robin Trower Link (145Mb) New Link 29/05/2018

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Madder Lake - Live in Studio 620 ABC Perth

(Australia 1971–1976, 1978–1979, 1982, 1996–current)
Madder Lake was one of the most original and distinctive of the "new wave" of Australian groups that emerged around 1970. They were also an important and popular part of the of the Melbourne music scene. It's unfortunate that they're only known for their extant recordings -- their two excellent 1970s Albums 'Still Point and Butterfly Farm' and a "Best Of.." compilation -- because they are prolific writers, and according to Mick they have "literally hundreds of songs" stockpiled, waiting to see the light of day.
Madder Lake was formed when two parallel friendships combined. Brenden Mason and Kerry McKenna who meet at high school in 1965. Michael Fettes and Jac Kreemers who formed their friendship approximately the same time.
All four shared an artistic background and an undeniable love for music. It was at Tech school they all meet and immediately bonded with music. John McKinnon was a friend of Jac’s, who was welcomed by the four as a fifth member. Initially the band starting performing under the name San Sebastian, and the song list consisted of various covers the band liked as opposed to the run of the mill tunes. All songs that were performed were arranged and modified to the absolute max. Nearly to the point of unrecognisable. It was the light bulb flashed and the band came to the realisation that all this work that was being channelled into covers should be focused on original material. Hence the name change to Madder Lake, re-equipping with new gear and starting the adventure of an original band.

(A very early Madder Lake playing at the Coburg Hall in 1972)

By 1971 Madder Lake had started gigging, describing the band was difficult and finding gigs was proving just as difficult. The band approached Consolidated Rock an agency that was one of the main players at that time. A luke warm reception was given on the request for work. Thru sheer persistence the Madders began gigs at privately run functions, to the point of work was becoming reasonably regular and a following started to develop. Word got around and Consolidated Rock took another look. It was at this point Michael Gudinski became the managing influence on the band. The band started performing at higher profile gigs supporting headline acts :John Mayal and the Bluesbreakers, Manfred Mann and the Rolling Stones.
Their first featured big gig was the first official act at the 1972 Sunbury pop festival and subsequent festivals. By 1973, the band had compiled enough material to produce an LP. From these recordings a single was the debut release. "Goodbye Lollypop" was the bands statement of good bye to the commercial rubbish most bands were playing and an introduction to the bands own brand of experimental music. Following the single was the release of 'Stillpoint', an album that original was conceived as one musical piece, but was later edited in the conventional track by track format. 'Stillpoint' went Gold nearly completely on Victorian sales only. At that stage a national profile wasn’t held by many artists.
1974 saw a change in members with replacement of John McKinnon with Andy Cowan. This impacted on the band material and direction changed. With this line-up 'Butterfly Farm' was produced, an album in a new direction, but unfortunately didn’t outsell 'Stillpoint'. Consequently this had an effect on the machine that was promoting us. In 1974 the band parted company with Mushroom and worked with various agents and independently.It was at this time that the band connected with Classical and pop conductor David Measham, and the concept of band and orchestra was touted. Madder Lake composed a piece based on Brave New World. The project still lies dormant, partly due to the death of David Measham (extract from Madder Lake's Website)
Interview with Madder Lake in 1978, Juke Magazine (reported by Allan Webster)
In the rock world, bands come and bands go - and once they're gone they rarely surface again. Madder lake intend to be an exception. One of Australia's top bands back in the early '70s, Madder Lake slowly degenerated through line-up changes and lack of continued commercial success to the point where they existed in name only.To explain the various changes would take several pages. But briefly, Madder Lake had two albums — Stillpoint and Butterfly Farm, the first released in 1973.
The band really began to take off after an appearance at the legendary Sunbury '72 pop festival on the outskirts of Melbourne. At the same festival the following year, they all but stole the show, taking three encores from an ecstatic crowd.

Madder Lake were one of the original artists on the Mushroom label and they enjoyed success with singles like "12-pound Toothbrush", "Goodbye Lollypop" and "The Bumper Bar Song"
The band now in its 10th year, was an amalgam of rock and
"spacey" music. Lyrically they were often amusing and indeed varied — dealing with subjects such as a 22-stone rapist, groupies, the moon, booze and cars.
A focal point of the band was vocalist Micky F
ettes — a demented-looking soul whose voice jnd stage antics possessed a lot of character. About five years ago Mick left Madder Lake, to pursue interests which included promoting, jingle writing and recording an album with local group 'Bandicoot'. It was a fine Oz rock album. Good songs and some excellent performances, but due to record company problems and other factors too numerous to mention, it never took off. Neither did the band, and it melted back into the Oz rock stockpot (see previous post)..
While Mick was busy, the remaining members of Madder Lake plugged away. They went through various changes, retaining a core membership of drummer Jack Kreemers, guitarist Brendan Mason and bassist Kerry McKenna.
In 1976, in a bid to re-establish the band, they released the
single "I Get High" which did reasonably well in Melbourne. But not well enough to keep the band together.
The singer at that time, Tony Lake, split to Sydney and Kerry McKenna, who'd earlier gone overseas, returned. The band's original keyboard player John McKinnon returned and they kept at it. It got to the point last year where Madder Lake existed in name but rarely performed.
It was at one of these rare performances that Mick Fettes, who'd kept in close contact with the band, got up on stage to sing a few songs. Crowd reaction was such that they all agreed to reform the original Madder Lake and attempt to elevate the name to its former lofty heights.
I have many fond memories of Madder Lake. Steamy summer nights spent cramped in the tiny cavern that was Melbourne's Garrison rock nightclub, bouncing off the silver walls to old favorites like "Down The River" and "Slack Alice". Lying in a drunken stupor on the floor while the band raged onstage.
So here I am, years later, sitting in the offic
es of Mushroom Records (certainly in a more sober state) talking with Micky Fettes and Kerry McKenna about the reformation of Madder Lake.
It feels like the five or six years were merely weeks. Neither appear to have changed much. "It's been about five years since we played together," says Micky through a wide smile. For some inexplicable reason he and Kerry seem to have
permanent grins. Perhaps the sort of smug expression that comes of knowing that you've got something special.
"It's quite freaky," explains Micky. "The first night we rehearsed it just started to happen.
"The musical rapport is just amazing ... the creative flair is even
stronger than before.
"Just getting the chemistry is like winning Tattslotto. At rehearsals we just end up laughing it's so good".
Naturally, people who remember Madder Lake will be
expecting to hear some of those old tunes — and the band is obviously aware. "About two-thirds of the show is stuff like Stillpoint and Butterfly Farm," says Micky."We've got an obligation to people because they'll be expecting to hear those songs — and the thing is we'll have a good time doing them".
"It's amazing that even after five years they still sound good," says Kerry. "There's the same original feel but a lot more finesse — smoother." Obviously the years have taught Madder Lake a lot, as musicians and in their ability to work within the industry.
"I think everyone has grown up a lot," says Micky, "and so has the industry."
As a result of their reformation, Mushroom Records is to release a "Best Of Madder Lake" album and at the same time are helping the band get back on the road.
"The songs don't seem to have dated at all — I think they're still really relevant," says Kerry. "They don't sound old at all, and they're still very unusual songs." Of course, the band will be playing a selection of new songs written by individual members over the years, and they have many others they hope to introduce later.
Initially the band is only looking ahead a few weeks. "At this stage we're just going on the road for a month to see how it goes then we'll take it from there," says Micky. "The whole thing has been professionally put together and we feel confident because all that side of it is together... now it just comes down to whether people like it." (Juke 1978, Issue #156, page 13)

This post is a recording made in the mid 70's by Madder Lake in Studio 620 ABC Perth, just before the band disbanded. It is my suspicion that because this live broadcast was made at Studio 620 ABC Perth, the band was probably in the middle of recording their uncompleted Brave New World project. To read more about this this project, see Milesago.
The rip (320kps) was probably taken from a tape of the broadcast and includes full album artwork (thanks to the original uploader Woodynet for the rip and artwork). I have also included a scan of the Juke magazine article for those historians out there. Thanks to Greg Noakes for the Madder Lake photo (see above)
And for the collectors there are some previously unreleased tracks here - Miracle Day, Higher-Higher-Higher, Money Honey and Do What You Do.
Track Listing
01 - Down The River

02 - Miracle Day

03 - Higher Higher Higher

04 - Money Honey

05 - Slack Alice

06 - Booze Blues

07 - Listen To The Morning Sunshine

08 - Do What You Do

09 - It's all In Your Head

10 - Song for Little Ernest

11 - 12lb Toothbrush

Band Members:
Mick Fettes (Vocals and Na Na Na's)

Kerry McKenna (Bass, Vocals)

Brendon Mason (Lead Guitar)

Jack Kreemers (Percussion)

Andy Cowan (Keyboards)

Madder Lake Link (100Mb) REPOST

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Lovin' Spoonful - The Very Best Of (1972) + Bonus Tracks

(U.S 1965–1969, 1980, 1991–present)
Formed by John Sebastian and Zal Yanovsky when their previous band The Mugwumps, which originally featured Mama Cass, split into The Lovin' Spoonful and The Mamas and the Papas. The two founders were apparently watching The Beatles US TV debut in 1964 when the idea for one of the most underrated pop groups of the 60s took shape.
Often compared to The Monkees (they were passed over for the original TV series) and The Beatles, they had a mischievous image and were known as America's moptops from Manhattan.
The name 'Lovin' Spoonful' came from a line in Mississippi John Hurt's song 'Coffee Blues' and had a sexual reference rather than a drug connection, as many believed at the time.

The original duo of John Sebastian (born in New York March 17 1944, vocals, guitar and harmonica) and Zal Yanovsky (born 19 December 1944 Toronto, guitar and vocals) were joined by Steve Boone (bass and vocals) and Joe Butler (drums and vocals).
They began to rehearse in the basement of the rundown Albert Hotel and gained a residency at the Night Owl in Greenwich Village. Working on Sebastian's innovative songs with producer Erik Jacobsen, after tentative interest from Phil Spector came to nothing, the group secured a deal with the Kama Sutra label in 1965.
The impossibly optimistic and infectious celebration of rock'n'roll - "Do You Believe In Magic?", was released as their debut single, entering the top 40 in the US in October 1965. Between 1965 and 1967 the group enjoyed a string of seven US top 10 singles all displaying their characteristic bright, stirring, melodic charm.
The second single was the evocative "You Didn't Have To Be So Nice", a hit in early 1966, quickly followed by the languidly beautiful singalong "Daydream" which was to be the group's biggest hit in the UK climbing to number two in April of the same year. Also a hit in 1996 was the frivolous pop ditty "Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind?" (apparently written in a cab on the way to the studio) which reached number two in the US.

Oh course, the group's best known track was the classic hit "Summer In The City" and was also their biggest hit in the USA storming to number one in August 1966 and breaking into the top ten in the UK during the month before. This timeless, atmospheric tribute to New York with it's unmistakable use of traffic and street noise sound effects was also notable for it's distinctive drum sounds (engineered by Roy Halee who later went on to work with Simon And Garfunkel).
Further hits followed with the yearning, romantic ballad "Rain On The Roof" and "Nashville Cats", another fond look at the world of music.

Throughout this period The Lovin' Spoonful recorded four original studio albums, featuring many other pop gems from the pen of John Sebastian. They also released soundtrack albums for Woody Alien's 'What's Up Tiger Lily' in 1966 and 'You're A Big Boy Now' for Francis Ford Coppola in 1967.

Above - Portrait of 1960s American rock band 'The Lovin' Spoonful' as they pose on a street, mid to late 1960s. Clockwise from bottom: drummer Joe Butler, bassist Steve Boone, co-founder and lead guitarist Zal Yanovsky (1945 - 2002), and co-founder and singer John Sebastian. Yanovsky crosses his arms and makes an unusual facial expression while Sebastian smokes a cigarette.

In June 1967, Zal Yanovsky left the band following a drugs bust in California when it was alleged that he implicated his supplier and therefore alienated the band from the flourishing hippy counterculture. John Sebastian tried to continue, but the band had lost it's original spark and in October 1968 he also quit summing up their career as "two glorious years and a tedious one".
Sebastian's first solo project was writing songs for a Broadway play starring Dustin Hoffman followed by an appearance at the Woodstock festival in 1969. His debut solo album, 'John B. Sebastian' was released, to critic acclaim, in 1970.

A new line-up of Lovin' Spoonful struggled on briefly but without the two rounders of the group there was limited success. The four original members reunited briefly in 1 980 for a cameo appearance in Paul Simon's movie 'One Trick Pony'. Sebastian continued to tour regularly and write for film and TV projects while Yanovs gave up music altogether and opened a restaurant.
So here is an early collection of The Lovin' Spoonful, a group whose songwriter often approached the genius of Brian Wilson and who left a short-lived but outstanding musical legacy of effervescent, wistful and infectious pop songs that found a natural home on the radios of teenage sixties America.
This album was Kama Sutra's attempt to replace its two 12-track Best Of albums with a single 12-track album compiling The Lovin' Spoonful's hits. It does contain eight of the group's ten Top Ten hits, missing only "Nashville Cats" and "She Is Still a Mystery," though oddly it also includes "Till I Run with You" and "Never Going Back," two songs from the group's final, inferior phase. Still, upon release, it featured more Spoonful hits on a single album than had ever appeared before.
The album was ripped to mp3 (320kps) from my pristine vinyl copy and includes full album artwork. I have chosen to add 4 bonus tracks (ripped from CD) which I believe belong in this early compilation - "Younger Generation" (a classic Sebastian solo), "Lonely (aka Amy's Theme)", "Voodoo In My Basement" and "Boredom" - which I don't believe will be the case when you listen to this great hits collection. Of course, "Summer In the City" is my favourite track and is probably the one song that originally got be interested in music from the sixties.
Track Listing
01 - Younger Girl

02 - Didn't Want To Have To Do It

03 - Daydream

04 - You Didn't Have To Be So Nice

05 - Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind?

06 - Do You Believe In Magic?

07 - Summer In The City

08 - Rain On The Roof

09 - Six O'Clock

10 - Darling Be Home Soon

11 - Till I Run With You

12 - Never Going Back

Bonus Tracks

13 - Younger Generation

14 - Lonely (Amy's Theme)

15 - Boredom

16 - Voodoo In My Basement

Band Members
John Sebastian (Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica)
Zal Yanovsky (Guitar, Vocals)
Steve Boone (Bass, Vocals)
John Butler (Drums, Vocals)
Lovin' Spoonful Link (86Mb) New Link 24/12/2023