Sunday, May 31, 2020

W.O.C.K On Vinyl: William Shatner - Seeking Major Tom (2011)

Before things get too serious here at Rock On Vinyl, I thought it might be fun to post a song / album at the end of each month, that could be categorized as being either Weird, Obscure, Crazy or just plain Korny.
William Shatner is a Canadian actor, author, producer, and director. In his seven decades of television, Shatner became a cultural icon for his portrayal of James T. Kirk, Captain of the USS Enterprise, in the Star Trek franchise. He has written a series of books chronicling his experiences playing Captain Kirk and being a part of Star Trek, and has co-written several novels set in the Star Trek universe. He has written a series of science fiction novels called TekWar, which were adapted for television. Shatner also played the eponymous veteran police sergeant in T. J. Hooker (1982–86) and hosted the reality-based television series, Rescue 911 (1989–96), which won a People's Choice Award for the Favorite New TV Dramatic Series. Shatner also appeared in the NBC series, 3rd Rock from the Sun in seasons 4 and 5 as the role of the "Big Giant Head" whom the alien characters of the Series reported to. From 2004 until 2008, he starred as attorney Denny Crane in the final season of the legal drama The Practice and its spinoff series Boston Legal, a role that earned him two Emmy Awards. Shatner has also worked as a musician, an author, a director, and a celebrity pitchman.

Shatner began his musical career with the spoken-word 1968 album 'The Transformed Man', delivering exaggerated, interpretive recitations of "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds." He performed a reading of the Elton John song "Rocket Man" during the 1978 Science Fiction Film Awards that has been widely parodied. Ben Folds, who has worked with him several times, produced and co-wrote Shatner's well-received second studio album, Has Been, in 2004. His third studio album, Seeking Major Tom, was released on October 11, 2011. The fourth, Ponder the Mystery, was released in October 2013 on Cleopatra Records, produced and composed by musician Billy Sherwood (member of Yes). Shatner also has done a concert tour with CIRCA:, which includes an ex and current member of Yes, Tony Kaye and Billy Sherwood.

'Seeking Major Tom' is the fourth studio album by William Shatner. It was released October 11, 2011 in the US by Cleopatra Records. The album features many noted musicians, including Sheryl Crow, John Wetton, Patrick Moraz, Ritchie Blackmore, Alan Parsons, Peter Frampton, Warren Haynes, Nick Valensi, Zakk Wylde, Mike Inez, Chris Adler, Steve Hillage, Steve Howe, Michael Schenker, Dave Davies, Johnny Winter, Brad Paisley, Bootsy Collins, Carmine Appice, Ian Paice, and Toots.
Some actors are multi-talented individuals who not only posses the  ability to perform well in front of a camera but are also blessed with musical skills, playing an instrument and/or singing. Some actors have in fact moved from the acting stage to the performing stage to start a whole new successful career. 

Well, this is NOT the case with Mr Shatner folks, and his monologue uttering's on this album are testament to the fact that he should have stuck to acting. In fact, the first thing he should have said on this release was "Beam me up Scotty" !
So this month's WOCK on Vinyl post not only tick's off the Crazy and Korny boxes but also translates to What Offal Captain Kirk.  Ripped from CD to MP3 (320kps), the post also includes full album artwork. The only thing that saves this release is the all-star list of artists backing Mr Shatner's dribble, as listed below.
1. Major Tom (Coming Home) feat. Nick Valensi (The Strokes)
2. Space Oddity feat. Ritchie Blackmore & Candice Night
3. In A Little While feat. Lyle Lovett
4. Space Cowboy feat. Brad Paisley & Steve Miller
5. Space Truckin feat. Ian Paice (Deep Purple) & Johnny Winter
6. Rocket Man feat. Steve Hillage (Gong / System 7)
7. She Blinded Me With Science feat. Bootsy Collins & Patrick Moraz (Moody Blues)
8. Walking On The Moon feat. Toots Hibbert (Toots & The Maytals)
9. Spirit In The Sky feat. Peter Frampton
10. Bohemian Rhapsody feat. John Wetton (King Crimson / Asia)
11. Silver Machine feat. Wayne Kramer (MC5) & Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge / Rod Stewart)
12. Mrs. Major Tom feat. Sheryl Crow

1. Empty Glass feat. Michael Schenker
2. Lost In The Stars feat. Ernie Watts
3. Learning To Fly feat. Edgar Froese (Tangerine Dream)
4. Mr. Spaceman feat. Dave Davies (The Kinks)
5. Twilight Zone feat. Warren Haynes (Gov t Mule / Allman Brothers)
6. Struggle (original track William Shatner / Adam Hamilton)
7. Iron Man feat. Zakk Wylde & Mike Inez (Alice In Chains)
8. Planet Earth feat. Steve Howe (Yes / Asia) 

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Don McLean - Chain Lightning (1978) + Bonus Tracks

(U.A 1965 - Present)
Born Oct 2, 1945 in New Rochelle, New York, where he grew up, Don McLean soon developed an interest in all forms of native American music, and when he left school in 1963 started playing in clubs as a folksinger - he has never held down a regular job.

From 1968 he made the Cafe Lena his home base, as it was through his connections with Lena Spender who ran the club, that he became the Hudson River Troubadour, playing to 50 communities along the river. Pete Seeger got to hear of these activities and invited McLean to sail with him on the sloop "Clear- water", which sailed down the river from South Bristol, Maine to New York City, carrying the message of ecological salvation to the river community about to be infected by industrial pollution.

McLean put together a book about this voyage, called "Songs And Sketches Of The First Clearwater Crew". By the time the book was published, McLean was working regularly, building a reputation for himself, and writing songs. He recorded a tape of his songs and spent over two years trying to negotiate record contract; eventually 'Tapestry' was released by a small company. It made a slight, though discernible impact, so that when the company folded his contract was bought-up by United Artists.

A young McLean singing "American Pie" 
The album 'American Pie' was issued in America towards end of 1971, and the title-song catapulted him to international fame. An elaborate allegory, it told the social and political history of a generation in terms of the rise and fall of its music, rock 'n' roll; it lasted over eight minutes, and has proved one of most outstanding singles of '70s so far.

Unfortunately for McLean the overwhelming success of that composition had tended to over shadow the rest of his career. Although his follow-up, also from the album, was a complete departure in that it was about the painter Van Gogh, and the song "American Pie".  "Vincent"  had some success of its own (reaching No. 12 in U.S., No. I in U.K., where it went one better than American Pie) nevertheless it is for Pie which he is best known in America.

The album, 'Don McLean', released late 1972 was all but ignored; it was a sombre and somewhat pained album as McLean, through songs like "The Pride Parade" and "Dreidel", tried to resolve the traumatic effects of his sudden elevation to stardom - certainly it showed him to be a genuine creative talent.

1973 was a great year for composer Don McLean and Don McLean the singer as Como Perry recorded "And I Love You So" from the "Tapestry" album and took it to the UK top-5 and American Top-30. As a Grammy nominated version, he was beaten by "Killing Me Softly with his song", sung by Roberta Flack and written by Norman Gimbel and Charles Fox apparently after Lori Leiberman had attended a McLean concert at Troubadour in Los Angeles.
[extract from The Illustrated New Musical Express Encyclopedia Of Rock, compiled by Nick Logan & Bob Woffinden. Salamander Books. 1977 p155]

The fourth album, 'Playin Favorites' became a top-40 hit in the UK in 1973 and included Buddy Holly's classic "Morne Mountains" and "Everyday", a live version of what Don returned to the singles chart from UK. McLean said: "The last album ('Don McLean') was a study in depression while the new one (" Favorites "Playin) is almost the quintessence of optimism, with a feeling of Wow, I just woke up from a bad dream ".

Throughout the 1970s, Don McLean remained a concertist in demand. In 1975, approx. 85,000 fans attended his London Hyde Park concert. 1977 saw a brief connection with the record label Arista, which yielded the 'Prime Time' album before, in 1978, Don's career started again in Nashville, where he would work with Elvis Presley's support singers, "The Jordanaires" and many of old Elvis musicians. The result was the LP 'Chain Lightning and the UK's No 1, "Crying". The 1980s saw further chart successes with more "Since I don't have you", a new recording of "Castes In The Ar" and "It's Just The Sun".

Don McLean performs onstage, Chicago, Illinois, November 10, 1978

In 1987, the release of the "Love Tracks" country-based album gave rise to the "Love in My Heart" hit singles (top-10 in Australia), "Cannot blame the destruction on the Train" (country USA # 49) and "Eventually" written by Terri Sharp.

Four years later, Don reached the UK top-10 with "American Pie", leading to many radio and TV appearances, including an hour and a special with Nicky Campbell on BBC Radio 1, and from the recording of the Manchester concert to the video release in 1993. The favorite memory for many fans is Don performing "American Pie" live on "Top of the Pops" in 1991.

In 1992, many new songs became available in 'Favorites and Rarities', while 'Classics Don McLean', presented new studio recordings of "Vincent" and "American Pie" (included here as bonus tracks). In 1994, Don appeared in the tributes to Buddy Holly in the US and London, and "Guns and Roses" was a replica of Don's version of "Since I don't have you" (Don's US top-20 hit in April 1981) for the UK top-10. 1995 and "American Pie 'back to the top-40, this time in" techno music format "performed by European artist, Just Luis.

In 1996,"Killing Me Softly With His Song", performed by The Fugees, was one of best selling singles of the year.

Don McLean credits his 1997 performance of the "American Pie" at the Central Garth Brooks' Concerto (attended by more than 500,000 people) as the start of his third career comeback. According to Don, his first "comeback" had been the release of "Vincent", and the second, the North American version and hugely successful "Crying".

"Brooks was accompanied on stage by two surprise guest stars, Billy Joel and Don McLean, who toppled the house with an acoustic version of "American Pie". (CNN, 1997)

Two years later, Garth Brooks repaid the favor, appearing as a guest special (with Nancy Griffith) on Don’s first ever American special, broadcast on PBS and now available as “

A month later, Don McLean ended the 20th century by singing "American Pie" for President Clinton at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC Gala.

In 2000, Madonna recorded a cover version of "American Pie", which at launch in the UK entered the singles list at number 1 and made the US top-30 on game points from the air alone. This prompted EMI to release a new "Best of Don McLean" CD that gave its first top Don-30 album stop in almost 20 years.

Even more surprising than Madonna's success with a McLean Don song, it was George Michael's decision in 2003 to record "The Grave" from the album's "American Pie" as a protest against the Iraq war. He recorded the song for MTV and performed live on Top of the Pops.

Don McLean continues to tour the world and release new material. In 2009 his latest studio album, "Addicted to Black", was released and in 2010 he returned to Europe for a seven national tour, including the Royal Albert Hall, London, on 7th May.   2011 saw another tour of the UK and Ireland, including a sensational appearance at Europe's largest festival, Glastonbury music.
2013 was a busy year touring North America and Australia and in 2015 Don broke his European tour record for number of concerts in one year.

Don McLean currently lives in Maine, on a 300-acre estate with his wife Patrisha and their two  children.  [extract from]

This post consists of FLACs ripped from my well played but clean vinyl and includes full LP artwork and label scans.   Chain Lightning is a fantastic album and with the exception of the last track (spoken lyrics) which I never could appreciate, every track could have been a single. The title track is definitely up there with American Pie and clocking in at just 7 and half minutes, it is just another indication that McLean is the master of  lengthy ballads.
As a bonus, I have also decided to include those 3 re-recorded versions  of "American Pie", "Vincent" and "And I Love You So" from 1992.
Track Listing
01. Words and Music
02. Crying
03. It’s Just the Sun
04. Lotta Lovin’
05. Chain Lightning
06. Your Cheatin’ Heart
07. Wonderful Night
08. It Doesn’t Matter Anymore
09. Since I Don’t Have You
10. Genesis (In the Beginning)
11. It’s a Beautiful Life
Bonus Tracks
12. American Pie (New Version 1992)*
13. Vincent (New Version 1992)*
14. And I Love You So (New Version 1992)*

* Sourced from the 1994 release Killing Us Softly: 25th Anniversary Album

Don McLean – Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
James D. Capps, Ray Edenton – Acoustic Guitar
Tommy D. Alsup, Billy R. Sanford – Electric Guitar
Pete Drake – Pedal Steel Guitar
Hargus “Pig” Robbins, Chuck Cochran – Piano
Bobby R. Woods – Electric Piano
Bob “King” Moore – Bass
Jerry K. Carrigan – Drums, Percussion
Joseph E. Chrisman, Eddy Anderson – Drums
The Jordanaires – Background Vocals
The Nashville Strings.

Don McLean Link (344Mb)

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

REPOST: Robin Trower - Beyond The Mist (1985) + Bonus B-Side Single

(U.K 1973-Present)
In 1985, the new, song-oriented Robin Trower re-surfaced with Beyond The Mist, a mixture of 2 new studio tracks and 5 live recordings, including his classic 'Bridges of Sighs'. The live tracks were recorded in April of 85' at the Marquee in London, with Robin playing alongside Dave Bronze (bass / vocals) and Martin Clapson on drums.
Here is a first hand account of that concert by Alan Howard, who was lucky enough to be in the audience that night:
"This was a great night back in good old analog recording days. I remember the band had to pause on several occasions between numbers while the engineers literally ‘changed the tapes’.
Robin was quite emotional that night at the start of the show, genuinely appreciative of the full-house turn-out ‘it’s really great to see so many of you here tonight ... yes, it is’.
It was our first meeting with ‘the wonderful Mr David Bronze’. It would be 20 years before we’d seen Dave playing alongside Robin again in the UK. The set that night showcased the new material subsequently issued on the ‘Music for Nations’ LP here in the UK, a label sadly no longer with us, titled ‘Beyond The Mist’.
Undeniably the sound of Trower's guitar is inspired, influenced and derived from Hendrix (as was Stevie Ray Vaughn, who got around this by doing incredible tribute versions of Hendrix Tunes, as if to say...Yeah, and?).
The full set list that night was: Too Rollin’ Stoned; Into Money; Keeping A Secret; Day Of The Eagle; Bridge of Sighs; The Ring; Beyond The Mist; Daydream; The Last Time; Rock Me Baby; Lady Love; The Voice; Little Bit Of Sympathy; Time Is Short; Back It Up; Islands [pictures supplied by John Hammond]
In another interview, this time conducted by Steve Shail with Dave Bronze, the album is discussed in detail:
SS: So after "Back It Up" was completed, how did it come about that you were going to stay and work with Robin?
DB: I heard nothing for quite a while. Then Robin called and said he wanted to play a bit, and we got together in a small rehearsal studio and jammed for a few weeks. Then he got an offer of a US tour. At the time no singer was involved, so he said I'd have to do it! I had never had any aspirations of this kind and was mortified. But I agreed to give it a shot. To this day I kind of regret having agreed to do it, as I knew I was not a great singer. It caused me serious confidence problems for years afterwards. In fact, it was many years after I stopped singing with Robin before I would even agree to contribute backing vocals on stage with anyone.
SS: I had read a few comments you made as far as how you really did not want to sing lead vocals but since there was no one else at the time, you were willing to try it. Following a singer like Jimmy Dewar, especially when doing the "classics" during your touring of the U.S., it would put doubts and fears in the minds of the very best of singers. The fact that you were willing to take on the challenge of stepping up to the mic tells us a lot of who Dave Bronze is. I must say though, I specifically remember hearing "Beyond The Mist" for the first time, and I liked the vocals! I personally preferred the cleaner sound of your vocals over the previous two releases with Jack Bruce.
No criticism intended to Jack, but I didn't feel his type of vocals complimented Trower's sound. On the song, "Keeping A Secret", I felt you did an excellent job on vocals and believe me, I am not just saying this because you're the singer we're talking about. In my opinion the vocals on "Last Time" and especially "The Voice", suited the songs perfectly. After I had read that you did not like handling the lead vocals, I was more impressed by the courage
you displayed to go through with it! Also, FYI, the "Beyond The Mist" CD is the rarest release around and I have seen copies sell on eBay's auction site for as much as $300.00 U.S.!

DB: Well, I don't really know what to say! It is not an exaggeration to say that I was never comfortable as a lead vocalist, especially as you say following someone like Mr. Dewar! I really admire the greats like Jimmy, Donny Hathaway, Otis, Aretha et al. In my opinion you are either born with a great voice or not, and I sit firmly in the latter camp! I'm not necessarily talking about being in tune and stuff, I mean SOUND! You can't really learn that. (Believe me, if it were possible I would have done it by now!)
However, it is really nice for me to know that some people actually got something from my efforts. I gave it my best shot!

Finally, for those of you who love little bits of trivia, here is something that is not well known. The origin of the album cover for this album comes from a science fiction novel written by Gordon R. Dickson and published in 1971, called Tactics of Mistake. It is part of Dickson's Childe Cycle series, in which mankind has reached the stars and divided into specialized splinter groups.

The rip included here was taken from my prized vinyl in FLAC format and includes album artwork from CD and LP. Play it loud folks!
Standout tracks are "Beyond The Mist", "Back It Up" and of course "Bridges Of Sighs"

Upgraded RIP folks - grab it while you can
Track Listing:
01 - The Last Time (Studio)
02 - Keeping A Secret (Studio)
03 - The Voice (Live)
04 - Beyond The Mist (Live)
05 - Time Is Short (Live)
06 - Back It Up (Live)
07 - Bridges Of Sighs (Live)

08 - Take A Fast Train (Bonus B-Side Single)
Band Members:
Robin Trower (Guitar)

Dave Bronze (Bass and Vocals)

Martin Clapson (Drums)
Robin Trower FLAC Link (260Mb) New Link 19/05/2020

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Marcia Hines - Greatest Hits Vol 1 & 2 (1981, 1982) plus bonus tracks

(Australian 1970 - Present)
Marcia Hines is the most successful female performer / recording artist in Australia, in the history of Australian music. Since beginning her recording career with Wizard Records in 1975, Marcia has become Australia's

- No.1 Female Recording Artist from 1975 - 1979
- No.1 Soul Recording Artist from 1976 - 1979
- Queen Of Pop from 1976 - 1978
- No.1 Selling Local Recording Artist from 1977 - 1978
- No.1 Concert Attraction 1976 - 1979
- Entertainer of the Year (Gold Sammy Award) 1979

Marcia came to Australia from Boston USA at the age of 16 to co-star in the Australian production of "Hair" following which she starred as Mary Magdalene in "Jesus Christ Superstar" for almost two years.

Her five albums produced by Robbie Porter for Wizard/Miracle ('Marcia Shines','Shining','Ladies and gentlemen','Live Across Australia' and 'Ooh Child') have notched up sales of over 600,000 units in Australia alone, and have earned her a total of 11 Platinum Album Awards.

Marcia was Australian Idol’s favourite judge for the show’s seven consecutive years, and was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2007. She received the Order of Australia (AM) in 2009 for her services to the Australian Entertainment Industry as a performer, judge and mentor, and to the community through a range of charitable organisations.

Marcia's Discograhy
The legendary former ‘Queen of Pop’ shows no sign of letting up! The hit fringe festival stage production ‘Velvet’ began in Adelaide in 2015 and has travelled the world with Marcia in the starring role. In January 2019 a new Spiegeltent production, set in the streets of Paris and titled ‘Pigalle’ was the sell-out hit of the Sydney Festival. It starred Marcia along with iOTA and Waangenga Blanco from The Bangarra Dance Company.

Marcia then commenced rehearsals for ‘Saturday Night Fever’, the legendary musical, opening at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre on April 2, 2019, and then travelling Australia. This spectacular new stage production and interpretation of both the film and the Bee Gee’s soundtrack, features Marcia in the starring role and joining her are Timomatic and Paulini, along with Euan Doidge as Tony and Melanie Hawkins as Stephanie. They are also joined by Natalie Conway, Bobby Fox and Nana Matapule.

These two Collector editions of her 'Greatest Hits' not only contain just about all of her hit singles, but also a number of Marcia concert favourites, as well as 'new versions' of "From The Inside" and "Jumpin' jack Flash" never before released on any album.  For more background information about Marcia's rise to fame and her contributions to the Australian Music Industry, see me previous posts: HERE
This post consists of FLACs ripped from my near perfect, shrink wrapped vinyl and full album artwork and label scans. I have also chosen to include 3 bonus tracks that will enable you to reproduce a more recent CD release entitled Marcia: Greatest Hits (1975 - 1983) - artwork included (see cover below)
Greatest Hits (1981)
01 From The Inside (New Version) 3:56
02 Shining 3:42
03 Something's Missing (In My Life) 4:36
04 What I Did For Love 3:15
05 I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself 3:06
06 Where Did We Go Wrong 4:03
07 Fire And Rain 4:44
08 I Don't Know How To Love Him 3:46
09 You 3:15
10 Don't Let The Grass Grow 2:58
11 Jumpin' Jack Flash (New Version) 3:13
12 Whatever Goes Around 2:57
13 Trilogy 4:19
14 Moments 3:22
15 Music Is My Life 2:07
16 Believe In Me 2:07
17 Empty 2:34
18 I've Got The Music In Me 4:12

Greatest Hits Vol 2 (1982)
01 Signed, Sealed, Delivered (3:30)
02 Love Is the Key (2:30)
03 April Sun in Cuba (3:45) /
04 Save the Last Dance for Me (2:39)
05 (Until) Your Love Broke Through (3:19)
06 A Love Story (3:35)
07 In a Mellow Mood (2:40)
08 Maybe it's Time (3:20)
09 Love is a Hurtin' Thing (2:56)
10 Try it With Me (2:46)
11 You Gotta Let Go (3:30)
12 But it's Alright (2:35)
13 Let the Music Play (4:26)
14 Dance You Fool Dance (5:16)
15 Imagination (Live) (3:49)
16 Once We Get Started (Live) (4:55)
Bonus Tracks   (for Greatest Hits 1975-1983)
-  Your Love Still Brings Me To My Knees 3:33
-  What A Bitch Is Love   3:50
-  Heart Like A Radio 3:51

Marcia Hines Link (784Mb)

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Thijs Van Leer - Introspection 1 & 2 (1972, 1975)

(Dutch 1967 - Present)
Introspection I
Thijs van Leer (Amsterdam, March 31, 1948) is a Dutch flautist and keyboard player. Together with the guitarist Jan Akkerman, he is best known as member of the band Focus.

Van Leer also made solo albums as a flautist, on which he played his own compositions in addition to arrangements of classical pieces, with background vocals by Letty de Jong and arrangements by Rogier van Otterloo. These albums appeared under the title of Introspection, with 4 in the series.

"It seems unfair that some people are so much more talented than others. Thijs van Leer is one of those more-than-usually gifted musicians. He could have been a concert pianist for instance.

Introspection 2
Born in 1948, he first caressed the keys when just a toddler, and started studying seriously when he was only three years old and became the often praised pupil of locally famous pianists like Maria Stroo and Gerard Hengeveld. When he was thirteen, he became interested in jazz and soon played fine harmonic variations on "Stella by Starlight" and other beautiful ballads. Van Leer Senior, however, was not very happy to see a possible Mozart gradually becoming a probable Bill Evans. Being an extraordinary flute player himself, he started to teach young Thijs the intricacies of this old and difficult instrument. Meanwhile, the musical prodigy did very well in school. His finished his Gymnasium-studies in record time and even proved to have more arrows to his cultural bow than people had expected: during an inter-scholar match, he proved himself an exciting actor in Shakespeare, did some declamation of his own poetry, played jazz and flute and finally sang a song he had just composed in true Richard Rogers-style: music and lyrics.

It was then that I had the fortune to discover Thijs van Leer and I took him to his recording session in 1967. This resulted in a single that unfortunately nobody took notice of. I also introduced Van Leer to Ramses Shaffy, who was just forming a new cabaret group and soon young Thijs made his professional debut on stages all over the country. Meanwhile he studied the History of Art, took lessons in harmony and counterpoint at the Amsterdam Conservatory and painted many pictures.

Single with tracks from Introspection 1 & 2
Success had to come one way or another. It finally came when he formed his own group with equally talented Jan Akkerman, a guitar player of great virtuosity and this group called Focus, has now won prizes in Festivals all over Europe, as well as the 1971 Edison Award, apart from being a top-selling bunch of record makers.

Introspection is the first solo LP Thijs van Leer has made. It goes back to Bach in some numbers, it shows his classical training, it proves his ability as a flute player. It also shows his remarkable sense of style and form. Whether you hear Fauré's lovely Pavane or Van Leer's own Focus I and II, you will be thrilled by the whole conception and realisation of his music. A word of praise should be printed for Rogier van Otterloo, who wrote so many fine arrangements for Rita Reys and others and who came up this time (being a pianist and flute player himself) with truly lush orchestral backgrounds, in which a  prominent part is played, or rather sung, by young soprano Letty de Jong.

So there it is: an LP featuring a still very young but unusually gifted performer named Thijs van Leer, whose name you're bound to hear many times in the future and whose kind of music should appeal to anyone with good ears and taste." [Liner Notes by Willem Duys]

Thijs Van Leer Today
Thijs van Leer headed Focus through several line-up changes, and by 1977 he was the only remaining original member. The group disbanded in 1978. In 1985, van Leer briefly reunited with Jan Akkerman to make Focus 1985. In 2002, van Leer created a new Focus line-up, which has since released the albums Focus 8 and Focus 9 / New Skin. A British tour was undertaken in spring 2006. He also appeared as a guest musician on the album, Into the Electric Castle, by Arjen Anthony Lucassen’s musical project Ayreon.

In 2008 Explore Multimedia released van Leer’s first solo album in nearly a decade, The Home Concert. The album featured recordings made in his living room as he played material for Focus 9. The album is exclusively available via the internet, and at concerts. (extract from

This post consists of FLACS ripped from my near mint LP's which I bought back in my Uni days. I have been a big fan of Van Leer's flute playing and he was one of the musicians I aspired to while I was learning to play the flute (along with Ian Anderson and Herbie Mann).  I have not only included full album artwork for both LP's, I have also included artwork for a 2003 CD release of these two albums (twin pack). I've also included an alternative front cover for the first album (see right).

Even if you are not a fan of Classical Music, you should still give these Introspection albums a chance - you might be surprised at your reaction when you listen to them.  If there is a big enough interest shown in these albums, I will consider posting the other two in the series in the near future.
01. Pavane, Op. 50 (Fauré)
02. Rondo (v.Otterloo)
03. Agnus Dei (Bach)
04. Focus I (v.Leer)
05. Erbarme dich (Bach)
06. Focus II (v.Leer)
07. Introspection (v.Otterloo)

*    Label says 1972, cover says 1973.
**  Blue coloured CBS label  (instead of standard Orange)

Introspection 2 
01. Goyescas No. IV (Enrique Granados) 
02. Rondo II (Van Otterloo)
03. Introduction (Domenico Cimarosa)
04. Siciliano (Bach)
05. Focus III (Van Leer)
06. Larghetto & allegro (Händel)
07. Introspection II (Van Otterloo)

Introspection 1 & 2 Link  (395Mb)

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

REPOST: Smak - Black Lady (1978)

(Yugoslavian-Serbian 1971 - 1981, 1986, 1992 1994 - present)
SMAK was formed 1971 in Kragujevac, the present Serbia and Montenegro, by a guitar virtuoso Radomir Mihajlovic nicknamed "Tocak" (the Wheel). The first stable line-up was assembled in late 1974 including Slobodan Stojanovic (drums), Zoran Milanovic (bass), Boris Arandjelovic (vocals) and Lazar Ristovski (keyboards).
Their music has always been rhythmically and harmonically advanced. Interesting points about their compositions include the abundant use of odd rhythms, vocal improvisations (scat singing), lengthy improvisations from all of the musicians, and uniquely-styled lyrics using mostly very short words due to the relative difficulty of using complex Serbian words in singing. Many of the lyrics were written by bohemian-minded poets and artists who were in friendly relations with the band.

During 1977-78 Ristovski was replaced by first Miki Petkovski and then by Tibor Levay on keyboards, while in the period 1979-81 Dado Topic (ex TIME, KORNI GRUPA) collaborated with SMAK as producer and occasional guest vocalist before the band broke-up in late 1981. The original line-up gathered again in 1986 with a new keyboardist Milan Djurdjevic, but after the release of one LP they split again. The third comeback of SMAK happened in 1992 with Ristovski again as a member, when they mostly played concerts in Serbia and issued a live album. Finally, in 1994 SMAK re-appeared again, this time along with Tocak and Stojanovic they added younger musicians: Dejan Stojanovic (second drum kit), Dejan Najdanovic (vocals), Vlado Samardzic (bass) and Milan Milosavljevic (guitar).
SMAK was celebrated for Tocak's virtuosity in guitar playing, inspired and modelled primarily after Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page, but with a very unique expressive warmth and an unprecedented, sophisticated way of incorporating Serbian folk motifs into his compositions and improvisations.
The band also made interesting and powerful, if not always successful, attempts of fusing hard rock and jazz (in the vein of Mahavishnu Orchestra and other super-influential fusion bands from the 70's), prog-rock and blues, with Arandjelovic's falsetto vocal often used as a melodic instrument, rather than just a vessel to carry the lyrics. "Ulazak u harem", a folk-inspired instrumental, originally composed by Jarakovic Dragoljub-Jarak, one of Tocak's first guitar teachers, issued as a hit-single in 1975, showcased Tocak as the definitive guitar-hero and legend of the ex-Yugoslavian 1970s music scene, while the albums "Crna dama" ("Black Lady", 1977) and "Stranice Nasegvremena" ("The Pages of Our Time", 1978) were highly celebrated among prog fans and were even released in English versions aimed at the international market.

Their reunion, from the second half of the 1980s onward, turned the musical direction of the band towards a more bland mainstream rock style, abandoning any prog elements, but after re-appearing in 1994. SMAK turned their musical attention back to hard rock with strong jazz and prog leanings. Tocak has, in the meantime, fully matured as a guitarist on a never-ending quest for perfection, and spent more than 20 years providing professional guitar tuition to a huge number of students in the ex-Yugoslavian territory.
Yugoslavian cover
Album Review
The band spent the spring of 1977 in London recording the album 'Crna dama' (alias Black Lady). All the lyrics were written by Mirko Glišić, and all the music was written by Mihajlović, except the music for the track "Tegoba", with music written by Petkovski. The album was produced by Martin Levan and featured luxurious cover designed by Dragan S. Stefanović. The album saw big success, with hard rock-oriented title track, ballad "Stvar ljubavi", instrumental track "Domaći zadatak" ("Homework") dedicated to Bijelo Dugme, the track "Halo" which featured Arenđelović's scat singing, jazz rock track "Tegoba", and folk-oriented "Daire" and "Plava pesma", last two featuring string quartet Harmonium from London. The album received positive reactions by the critics, although Glišić's lyrics received mostly negative reactions. The band went on a successful tour and Crna dama was certificated gold record. The album gave the opportunity to the band to sign for the Frankfurt-based record label Bellaphon Records, which released the album 'Black Lady', featuring songs from 'Crna dama' with English language lyrics. This is the post provided here and is a rare find indeed.

Melody Maker published an album review which described Smak as "a poor copy of Taste and Deep Purple", while the album saw a positive review in Guitar Player. At the end of the year the band was proclaimed The Band of the Year in the Džuboks annual voting.
In January 1978, at the Midem music industry trade fair in Cannes, the 'Crna dama' rights were bought by Fantasy Records and the Spanish branch of RCA Records, and the album was released with a completely different look.
I purchased my copy of 'Black Lady' from an import shop in Melbourne which specialised in German and European rock. The cover was again another reason why I was initially drawn to this album and when I heard the track "Hello" as recommended by the record dealer, I was sold. The guitar work of Tocak totally blew me away when I first heard it and the screeching vocals of Boris Arandjelovic only added fuel to the fire. I didn't bother listening to the rest of the album - I just wanted to get home as quickly as I could and listen to it with a set of headphones - to get the best loudest-stereo affect. I'm sure SMAK is partly responsible for my diminished hearing in later years !
As far as I can gather, the cover itself is not widely available and is very different to the that of the original
Yugoslavian print. I have yet to find this cover published on any websites, so I suspect my cover scans are a first.

The rip was taken from Vinyl in FLAC format and includes both sets of LP covers, along with select photos of the band. This replaces the old 256kps MP3 rip 
Track Listing
1. Black Lady (3:34)
2. Matter Of Love (5:09)
3. Domestic Lesson (7:43)
4. Hello (4:04)
5. Suffer (6:46)
6. Tambourine (3:45)
7. Here Alone (Sad Once More) (4:26)

Band Members:
Boris Arandjelovic (vocals)

Radomir Mihajlovic-Tocak (guitars)

Miodrag Petkovski-Miki (keyboards)

Slobodan Stojanovic-Kepa (drums)

Zoran Milanovic (bass)
The Harmonium Quartet
Pat Nalling, John Knight (violins)

Brian Mack (viola)

Ben Kennard (cello)

Maurice Pert (percussion)

Smak FLAC Link (218Mb)  New Link 04/05/2020

Sunday, May 3, 2020

John Mayall - New Bluesbreakers ' The Blues Collection' (1994)

(U.K 1956 - Present)
John Mayall's Bluesbreakers started out in the late 1950s in England. This was a band that used American style blues as a starting basis for their sound. The sound has changed from album to album. And while at one point John Mayall was playing a fairly jazzy sound, he has eventually come back to the blues.

One of the interesting features of the Bluesbreakers, is that the personnel changed on a very regular basis, and many members have gone on to much well deserved fame and fortune with other bands and as solo acts. Past members have included: Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, Peter Green, John McVie, Mick Fleetwood, Mick Taylor, ...

John Mayall seems to have been very careful in keeping track everything that he ever recorded. Nearly every album has an exact recording date and location. And when crosschecked against Peter Green's book, they agree exactly.

When John Mayhall hit hard times and the bottle during the 1970's, his best days looked behind him. But the 1980s found him back at his best with a new version of his band the Bluesbreakers and bringing the blues to new, receptive European audiences who had missed out on the first blues boom of the 1960s.

This in-concert set from 1987 is a successful attempt by Mayall to contemporize the electric Chicago blues style. Mayall and his band, including the great guitarists, Walter Trout and Coco Montoya cover tunes by great artists including Sonny Boy Williamson, and Otis Rush.

John Mayall & Walter Trout
The 11-minute "Room to Move," with Mayall on harmonica, is a standout track. Over the years Mayall has swung his musical output between acoustic and electric, and although much of his less blues orientated material remains very much in demand, it's a great change to hear the man get back to basics, and play some authentic blues standards.

This album was recorded live in Frankfurt, Bonn, and Munster, Germany between 19th, and 21st April 1987. The UK magazine series 'The Blues Collection' No.8 includes a CD with the same tracks as the LP 'The Power of the Blues'. The album has also been released on other labels with different sleeve/CD covers. However, the track list is the same on most of them.

Finally, I recommend you listen to the brilliant John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers 1967 "Crusade" album, and John's equally brilliant 1968 "Blues from Laurel Canyon" album. British blues doesn't come much better than these two albums, and of course this live set featured here.
This post consists of FLACs ripped from my Blues Collection CD (released by Orbis, a German publication house. The series comprised of 90 fortnightly issues, each including a thin magazine-sized biography and an album on CD or cassette tape). A shortened version of this recording was released on vinyl, entitled 'The Power Of The Blues' (see cover below) . Also included is artwork for both CD and LP releases.  
01 Ridin' On The L&N 5:51
02 Help Me 6:51
03 Racehorse Man 6:55
04 All Your Love 4:49
05 I Ain't Got You 4:14
06 Wild About You 5:53
07 It Ain't Right     4:25
08 Room To Move 11:02

Bass – Bobby Haynes
Drums – Joe Yuele
Guitar, Vocals – Coco Montoya, Walter Trout
Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica, Keyboards – John Mayall