Wednesday, September 30, 2020

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Focus - At The Rainbow (1973)

 (Dutch 1969-1978, 2001-Present)

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

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

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

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

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

Review 1
(by Ivan Melgar M at

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review 2

(by George Starostin)

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

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

Bert Ruiter

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

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

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

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

Pierre van der Linden

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

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

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

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

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

Focus At The Raindow (256Mb) New Link 21/12/2023

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Pete Townshend - Who Came First (1972)

 (U.K 1962 - Present)

Pete Townshend (born 19 May 1945) is an English guitarist, singer and composer. He is co-founder, leader, principal songwriter, guitarist and secondary lead vocalist of the Who, considered to be one of the most important and influential rock bands of the 20th century.

Townshend has written more than 100 songs for 12 of the Who's studio albums. These include concept albums, the rock operas Tommy and Quadrophenia, plus popular rock radio staples such as Who's Next; as well as dozens more that appeared as non-album singles, bonus tracks on reissues, and tracks on rarities compilations such as Odds & Sods (1974). He has also written more than 100 songs that have appeared on his solo albums, as well as radio jingles and television theme songs.

As an instrumentalist, although known primarily as a guitarist, Townshend also plays keyboards, banjo, accordion, harmonica, ukulele, mandolin, violin, synthesiser, bass guitar, and drums. He is self-taught on all of these instruments.

Pete's Pilgrimage to India

During February and March of 1972, Pete Townshend made a pilgrimage to India to visit the tomb of Meher Baba and talk with those who knew him and others who were attracted to his philosophy. 

Pete recalls in his Autobiography 'Who I Am' ......  "I had been summoned by Sarosh Irani, the member of Meher Baba's family who had organised the celebrations of the Master's passing. When I arrived, the Meher Baba people suggested I perform a few songs. On this first trip I played 'O Parvardigar', my version of The Master's Prayer and 'Drowned', which would appear on Quadrophenia. While I performed in front of the Tomb where Meher Baba's body lay, I glimpsed him for a moment, sitting in an armchair, waving one hand from side to side like a metronome. On the recording I made, you can hear me skip a beat at the sight" 

In the Who's Illustrated Biography Pete elaborates more by saying...... "When I visited Baba's tomb, I felt like a speck of dust," he said, "Suddenly everything was in proportion. It  only lasted five seconds yet I yearn to reach that state of excitement and pure peace again. There is a ritual  there, when all his followers stand around the tomb and sing 'Begin The Beguine' which was one of Baba's favourite songs. It totally zapped me out when I was there. I stood up after all this and was crying and everything."

Townshend played 'Drowned' for the first time in India 1972

Though deeply influenced by Baba by now, Pete, unlike others attracted to Indian religions, was not disposed to either preach or convert. Although he wrote an article on Baba for Rolling Stone magazine and even appeared on televised religious programmes, he discussed Baba in a matter of fact way, never pushing his beliefs down the throats of others. Pete gained enormous intellectual respect, both inside and outside the rock community, as a result. "It's very weird to be in a group like The Who and feel that you're at a different stage of spiritual development from the others," he said. We're all very similar as  physical bodies, we enjoy the same degree of self-punishment, the same music, and we have different basic ethics on how to live our lives and they don't cross. Deeply written into Who philosophy is the fact that each member thinks the other guys' ways are total bullshit but it's-all-right-by-me. So let's say I'm tolerated in my mystical beliefs.

Pete's First Solo Album

When Pete Townshend returned from India he began serious work on a commercial solo album that was dedicated in every way to Meher Baba. Townshend had found an alternate path via Meher Baba, an Indian spiritual master who died in 1969 at age 74.  In February 1970 Pete had produced 1,500 copies of a devotional album entitled Happy Birthday which was distributed privately to Baba followers, but it had been bootlegged in America and sold under the counter at an exorbitant price. The album included material by other Baba lovers (including Ronnie Lane from The Faces) and was released in a double cover with a fourteen -page booklet with drawings, poems and essays relating to Baba. All proceeds went to the Baba foundation - all, that is, until the bootleggers cashed in: America Decca, for whom Pete was contracted to record, weren't happy.

"The company was most understanding" said Pete. "They merely encouraged me to put the album out through normal channels. They wanted 25,000 copies of the album to distribute and offered me a dollar an album to give to Baba, a very generous royalty rate. I decided that if I was going to do it on this scale, I might as well do a completely fresh album."

Townshend in his home studio
Who Came First was recorded at Pete's Twickenham home in 1972 - where the studio was christened Eel Pie Sound - and was very much a devotional work. Four songs were Townshend originals, two were Baba prayers set to music by Pete, two were by fellow Baba lovers and a version of Baba's favourite song, Jim Reeves' "There's A Heartache Following Me' completed the selection. Compared to a Who album, the sound was thin and Pete's nasal voice lacked the emotion of Roger Daltrey. Nevertheless it was a sincere statement and, thanks to Pete's celebrity status, it sold well when it was released in October.

[extracts from The Illustrated Biography 'The Who' by Chris Charlesworth, Omnibus Press, 1982 and Pete Townshend's autobiography 'Who Am I', Harper Publishers 2012, p233]

Album Review

Released in the fall of 1972, 'Who Came First' gave Townshend a chance to explore and expand his own musical territory as well as his insight into his own life. The material was culled from recordings done at Townshend's home studio, some specifically for the album others that lingered from the aborted Lifehouse project. Townshend plays most of the instruments on the album, but gets some help from the Faces' Ronnie Lane, singer/songwriter Billy Nicholls and studio musician Caleb Quaye (later of Elton John's band).

Songs which figured into the Who catalog show up here in different form. "Pure and Easy" was melded into "The Song Is Over" from Who's Next. A full band version of the song would later show up on the Odds and Sods collection. "Let's See Action" first appeared as a U.K. single in 1971. Both these were sprung from Lifehouse. Like most of his demos, Pete's solo versions of these songs have a distinctly different feel from the Who versions.

"Sheraton Gibson" and "Time Is Passing" are prime Townshend, while "Evolution," Ronnie Lane's contribution, gives the album a jolt. Another song, "Forever's No Time at All," is a shimmering pop song written and sung by Billy Nicholls. In addition to working with Townshend numerous times over the years, Nicholls made a wonderful Beach Boys inspired album, Would You Believe?, in 1968 for the Immediate label, home of the Small Faces.

Though he gets a hand from these fine folks, this is Pete's show, and Baba's influence runs throughout, including the lyric of "Parvardigar," which stemmed from his writings. The album was dedicated to him as well. It is a grab-bag sort of collection, and in most circles, seems all but forgotten, with many assuming 1980's Empty Glass to be Pete's first solo effort, but Who Came First is more than just a curiosity, it documents a significant time in Townshend's life both musically and spiritually. 

[extract from]

This post consists of FLACS ripped from my Polydor Cassette Tape. The tape is nearly 50 years old but still plays like it is was spooled out yesterday.  This is amazing for tape media as they don't always last and often exhibit fade outs and stretching. But not this baby however.  
I love the album title with its play on the Who's band name, but I'm sure everyone has also interrupted it as a question rather than a statement.  I wonder what Townshend's answer would be?
Full album artwork and label scans are included for all 3 media formats.  

01 - Pure And Easy 5:25
02 - Evolution 3:33
03 - Forever's No Time At All 2:50
04 - Let's See Action 6:15
05 - Time Is Passing 3:25
06 - There's A Heartache Following Me 3:15
07 - Sheraton Gibson 2:40
08 - Content 2:30
09 - Parvardigar 6:43

Friday, September 11, 2020

Group Therapy - People Get Ready For (1967)

(U.S 1966 - 1974)

This New York-based quintet featured Ray Kennedy (vocals), Art Del Gudico (guitar), Jerry Guida (organ), Tommy Burns (drums) and Michael Lamont (drums) and formed in 1966. The band’s debut album largely comprised of contemporary hits, notably ‘Hey Joe’, ‘Morning Dew’ and ‘Come See About Me’. An unknown quantity when they supported Moby Grape on a brief UK tour in 1968, Group Therapy impressed audiences with their exciting, soul-based stage act. 

The album, re-titled 'You’re In Need Of...Group Therapy' was belatedly issued in the wake of this interest, but although their version of ‘River Deep - Mountain High’ garnered interest when issued as a single, the set failed to emulate its corresponding in-concert intensity. The band split up without achieving their potential, although Kennedy later secured success as a singer and songwriter.

Both albums (recorded in 1967-69) directly refer to the creativity and style of Vanilla Fudge - with a lot of modifications to the luscious sound of Hammond organs and rich vocal harmonies in the foreground. They were in essence RCA's answer to Vanilla Fudge... They even covered "People Get Ready" just like the Fudge...

There music was of the heavy Vanilla Fudge variety, and not apparently memorable. Playing mostly originals, but also a few standards, opening up with Hendrix's "Foxy Lady" among others. A nice guitar driven platter from the 60's

Liner Notes

People, get ready for Group Therapy. By coincidence, "People Get Ready tor Group Therapy" is also the title of the electric rock group's first RCA album release.

Tommy Burns, lead vocalist in Group Therapy, is a native New Yorker in his early twenties. (ln fact,. all five boys are in the same age category and from the same geographic vicinity.) Hung up on music ever since he first heard Elvis Presley's records of  Heartbreak Hotel and Blue Suede Shoes, Tommy, whose uncle is composer/musician Robert Maxwell, has been playing guitar since he was a child. He entered "show business" at the age of ten in a school play, attended Quintano's School for Young Professionals, performed at the Peppermint Lounge in its heyday, and joined Group Therapy on the invitation of his friend, Art Del Gudico. With Art, or "Tooch" as he is called, Tommy wrote Who'll Be Next, one of the numbers in Group Therapy's debut album.

Art Del Gudico is Group Therapy's lead guitarist, in addition to playing bass and singing harmony. Born in Rochester, New York, Tooch has been strumming the guitar, or axe, as he calls it for as long as he can remember, but for the earlier part of his life, music was relegated to second spot after athletics. (In high school, he was active in football, wrestling and track.) He decided upon music as a career while attending the University of Rochester on scholarship, and he made his first professional appearance at Rochester's Four Fourteen Club.

Ray Kennedy is Group Therapy's other singer. He was born in Philadelphia, where his father owned an airport, which probably accounts for Ray's love of flying. He admits to growing up on the records of The Chipmunks, although his expressed musical preferences range from R&B to Gerry Mulligan to Ursula Andress (her lines are lyrical). In addition to singing, Ray Kennedy plays guitar and assorted woodwinds and is "quite adept on cowbell."

Organist for Group Therapy is Jerry (The Kid) Guida. He also plays all the keyboard instruments for the quintet and is proficient on drums and trumpet. The Kid is from Jersey City, New Jersey, and, influenced by his musician father, decided to become a professional musician when he was only eight. He gave his first concert (in school) at the age of twelve where he won a blue ribbon as a trumpeter, joined his father's group two years later, and has since performed in various clubs around New Jersey and New York, in concerts and on television. He switched to organ after being introduced to the records of Jimmy Smith, and played with his first professional group at The Cheetah in New York,before joining Group Therapy.

Percussionist Michael Lamont is the Group Therapy show business old-timer. Michael, who hails from Hoboken, was on the legitimate stage from the time he was eleven until joining Group Therapy. He made his debut at New York City Centre in its production of "The King and I," and has since appeared on Broadway in "Oliver," "West Side Story," "Thirteen Daughters" and "Royal Hunt of the Sun." He has also appeared in countless television shows.

This post consists of FLACs ripped from my recently acquired vinyl (another flee market discovery) which is in immaculate condition for its age.  Full album artwork along with label scans are included.

As the album title says folks "People, get ready for Group Therapy"

01 Foxy Lady 3:05
02 Yours Until Tomorrow 3:41
03 Come See About Me 2:46
04 Morning Dew 2:40
05 Who'll Be Next 2:31
06 People Get Ready 4:13
07 Really Together 2:06
08 Hey Joe 4:00
09 The Exodus Song 4:25
10 Expressway To Your Heart 2:37
11 Let It Be Me 4:08

ART DEL GUDICO - Vocal, guitars, bass
JERRY (IHE KID) GUlDA - Organ and all keyboard instruments
MIlCHAEL LAMONT - Drums, percussion

 Group Therapy Link (212Mb)

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Camel - Breathless 1978 (1992 - Deram)

(U.K 1971–1984, 1991-present)

Progressive rock giants Camel had a long-established audience by the late 1970s, and proved it again on 14 October 1978, when they hit the UK chart with their fourth top 30 album in little more than three years, Breathless.

After first charting with 'The Snow Goose' in 1975, a No. 26 entry, Camel hit the top 20 twice in a row, with 'Moon Madness', No. 15 in 1976, and 'Rain Dances', which reached No. 20 in 1977. 'Breathless', the fourth of eight UK chart albums, consolidated their success at a time when new wave was supposedly sweeping all before it.

Recorded at the famous Manor Studios and produced by the band with Mick Glossop, it’s a landmark in the Camel story because this was the final album to feature the band’s co-founding keyboard player, Pete Bardens. After co-writing all but two of the songs on Breathless, Bardens departed before the band toured the record. Mel Collins was now in the fold on saxophones, and two keyboard players were drafted in for the tour: Dave Sinclair, who was the cousin of bass player Richard Sinclair, and Jan Schelhaas.

Camel 1978

Not the best album that Camel released but Breathless has its moments. Pete Bardens and Andy Latimer didn't get on well during the recording sessions which would led to the departure of Bardens after the album was finished. Only "Echoes" and "the sleeper" still have the Camel trademark which consists of magical duels between the guitars of Latimer and the keyboards of Bardens. Especially "Echoes" would become a concert favourite for the band. These tracks justify the buy of the album for fans of progressive rock.

Other tracks tend to late seventies pop although some tracks are still quite enjoyable like "Breathless" or "On a wing and a prayer". "Summer lightning" has some nasty influences form pop and even disco, but the melody is fine and the guitar playing of Andy Latimer is brilliant. Other tracks are forgettable. Usually the weak point in Camel is the vocal but not on this album. In 1977 and 1978 the famous Caravan singer Richard Sinclair was the band lead vocalist and he does a far better job than Andy Latimer could have ever done. Sinclair delivers "Down at the farm" a funny and uplifting song about life in the country, the song has a catchy melody and excellent flute playing of Mel Collins, one of the highlights of the album.

If you are a Caravan fan then Sinclair's influence will be highly pleasing. Breathless arrived when the world hated Progressive music so consequently falls foul of high criticism, however for me it is an extension of Rain Dances and has a beautiful feel to it. Remember these guys were maturing and the music with it. Echoes, Summer Lightning and You Make Me Smile being the main highlights. Vinyl covers were at an all time high and Breathless certainly did not disappoint. Musically though very solid even with Bardens' imminent departure.

Camel [Liner Notes]
Still proclaiming an identical personnel to that on their RAIN DANCES LP, on the map in September 1977 and then constructed the in-concert potted musical- history-to-date double set, A LIVE RECORD (April 1978), Camel had been undertaking the initial spadework for a new studio album during the early months of that latter year.

Original members Messrs. Latimer, Bardens and Ward were these days fleshed-out by ex-Caravan bassist Richard Sinclair, while the ever-dependable reed blower Mel Collins -- never a full time participant, but always available for recording and touring duties in between his numerous 'session' activities - had readily agreed to arrive as necessary in full cry.

Andrew Latimer
However, the melodic interface between Andy Latimer and Peter Bardens had been progressively taking a turn for the worse, in that both saw Camel's future venturing along differing paths, and whilst in the past this 'rivalry' had contributed positively to the band's sound evolution, during the recording of this latest project - to be billed as BREATHLESS - the undercurrent of friction first apparent during the creation of RAIN DANCES surfaced more fully. In 1981, Andy Latimer recalled events of the period: 'Peter and I always got on well when creating, but the problems started when we came to the actual execution of ideas. In the studio we were just stifling each other. I wouldn't let him get any of his ideas out, and he wouldn't let me get any of mine out, so it became pretty heavy going. We mutually agreed to part company on the creative level. Richard and Andy wanted to stay with me, so Peter went. I think it was a good move for both of us. 

This having been agreed, Bardens completed the forthcoming set with his erstwhile colleagues, again their handiwork being a bundle of individual songs rather than following the concept framework which had already featured primarily in their rise to fame thus-far.

If disagreements there were, few outside the soundproofed booths of the triumvirate of establishments which played host to BREATHLESS's recording could have guessed. A superbly accomplished result ensued, with one of Camel's most delightful oddities, Richard's whimsical sound-effect laden DOWN ON THE FARM, sitting comfortably among their more usual demonstrations of instrument virtuosity.

John Sinclair

Scheduled for United Kingdom release on 22nd September '78 as Decca TXS-R I 32, it bounded into our then Top 60 on October 14th at No. 26, but exited seven days later and failed to return. 
No seven-inch spin-offs were envisaged from within, although a special version of RAINBOW'S END did surface on the maxi-single issued to support the long-player I CAN SEE YOUR HOUSE FROM HERE the next year (U.K. Only). REMOTE ROMANCE and TELL ME were its accomplices. 

While he had fulfilled recording obligations on BREATHLESS, all involved knew Peter Bardens (pictured below) would not now be joining the tour bus for an already-booked accompanying lengthy international road promotion. There was never any intention to draft in a Bardens clone, so when Mr. Sinclair suggested the employment of two former Caravan roommates adept on the 'eighty-eights' his cousin Dave and Liverpudlian Jan Schelhaas, the Andys saw bright new horizons opening up and readily agreed. Happily, so did those approached.

Their nightly crusade was due to begin on September 10th at Croydon's Fairfield Hall with singer/songwriter Michael Chapman as special guest - they were actually performing in Ipswich, Suffolk's Gaumont Cinema on the night of BREATHLESS's unveiling a few days later - and ended its U.K. leg at York University come October 14th, after which mainland Europe was in for a treat right through to December. Next stop, a first taste of Japan, which was such a triumph they were provisionally logging 1980 replay dates before departing, and then off to North America.

Signed to Decca/Deram for the world except U.S.A. and Canada in those days, their previous agreement with the Janus company for those last-named territories had run its course and this latest event was already pacted to a new major. With the boys able to support its appearance via live dates, Arista4206 moved in on Billboards Top 200 come 10th February 1979 and thereafter galloped northwards to 134 during a 10 week stopover. There were smiles all round.

Once home though Dave Sinclair, who had only signed on for the duration, waved adieu, but, more importantly, Richard also called time owing to pressure of touring. Jan was staying put; all wished to pursue the twin-keyboards idea further, so in the summer ex-Clancy, Steve Hillage and Carol Grimes four-stringer Colin Bass came in along with America's own Kit Watkins, once of Happy The Man, who brought his numerous electric descendants of the harpsichord to complete a
dream quintet.

Andy Ward

They set about penning new material immediately, and after only a few weeks together way-back-when Andy Latimer stated ecstatically: "It's better now musically than it ever was. We've got the capability, both for more complicated pieces and the power for straight-down-the-line things. The level of enthusiasm has brought the new numbers along very quickly. Recording is fun rather than an effort. The new rhythm section's so tight. It's a joy to play over. We're proud of the stuff we've done in the past and will continue to play it live. We're still distinctly English and like to take chances. The new material sounds more commercial but we only do what we want to do."

Going the whole hog the boys employed producer Rupert Hine to undertake the role in which they'd recently employed themselves and Mick Glossop, and in October '79 listeners around the globe would be able to share the magic passwords to Camel's next Aladdin's Cave of crotchets, quavers, vowels and consonants by uttering, "l CAN SEE YOUR HOUSE FROM HERE..." [Liner Notes - JOHN TRACY London, 1992]

This post consists of FLACs ripped from my 1992 Deram CD release and includes full album artwork for both Vinyl and CD.  Label scans and all photos featured above are also included, along with one hump of  liquid refreshments !
I quite like this album, and always enjoy good progressive rock / jazz - I think this post will keep you breathless.
1. Breathless (4:16)
2. Echoes (7:22)
3. Wing and Prayer (4:41)
4. Down on the Farm (4:20)
5. Starlight Ride (3:20)
6. Summer Lightening (6:03)
7. You Make Me Smile (4:13)
8. The Sleeper (7:02)
9. Rainbow's End (3:00)

Camel were:
- Andy Latimer / guitars, Yamaha CS50/80 synths, vocals
- Pete Bardens / keyboards, vocals
[organ, synthesizer, piano, mellophonium not detailed but highly probable]
- Mel Collins / saxophones, flute, [oboe not confirmed]
- Richard Sinclair / bass, vocals
- Andy Ward / drums, percussion

Camel Link (294Mb)