Wednesday, June 30, 2021

W.O.C.K On Vinyl - Canned Heat: On The Road Again E.P (1969) & Going Up The Country E.P (1972)


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

Canned Heat
first came together in 1965 in the city of Los Angeles. The band soon became very successful attracting a large cult following while also attaining commercial success. One of the secrets of the band was their ability to compose their own material while putting their own spin on blues classics. Their legacy was cemented with their incredibly exciting live shows and their appearances at what would become legendary concert festivals such as Woodstock.

The core members of the band’s early lineups were Bob Hite on vocals, Alan Wilson on guitar, harmonica and vocals, Henry Vestine on guitar, Harvey Mandel on guitar, Larry Taylor on bass, and Adolfo de la Parra on drums. Over the years there were multiple lineup changes for various reasons including the passing of some key members. Alan Wilson passed away early on in 1970. Bob Hite passed away in 1981. Henry Vestine died in 1998 and most recently Larry Taylor passed away in 2019.

Canned Heat released their first album in 1967 entitled Canned Heat. Between 1967 and 2007, the Heat released twenty studio albums including three collaborative albums with other artists. The band has also released eleven live albums over the course of their career. There has also been twenty compilation albums released by their record companies along with 18 E.P's

This month's WOCK on Vinyl focuses on their late 1960’s work. Canned Heat a fabulous blues boogie rock band that stands along such legendary groups as The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, John Mayall and The Bluesbreakers, Savoy Brown, and Foghat has being one of the best of all time.

One of their most popular songs was “On the Road Again” which was released on the band’s second album entitled 'Boogie With Canned Heat'. The song was a huge, huge hit for the band. It became a top 20 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 which was pretty impressive for a blues band at the time. The song reached the top 10 in multiple countries around the world including Switzerland, The Netherlands, France, Canada, Belgium and of course here in the land Down Under - Australia.

For me, it was the first 45 I ever bought (I was only 11 or 12 at the time) and it was probably the cause of my addiction with collecting records for the last 50 years (see above). 

Just as popular was their historic hit “Going Up The County.” While some Canned Heat purists may argue that some of their heavier jams and barn burners were stronger songs than “Going Up The County,” there is no denying this song’s legacy. I have a special affiliation with this one because when I was learning to play flute as a teenager, one of the most popular riffs at the time for flute (other than Jethro Tull's "Living In The Past") was Canned Heat's "Going Up The Country". 

 As a result, I purchased the E.P featured in this post (see above), to learn the riff and play it by ear. Not bad for a 14 year old I reckon.

And so, this month's WOCK on Vinyl post is dedicated to the wonderful Blues and Boogie that Canned Heat brought into the world and for me, the start of of a love relationship and passion for music in general.  And as I have not seen any other copies of these  E.P's and single over my 50 years of collecting vinyl, I think these tick the Obscure box as well.
Ripped to FLAC with some minor declicking, I think you'll find the quality is pretty damn good. Of course full artwork and label scans are included.

So enjoy some classic Canned Heat and remember not to forget to Boogie, BoogieBoogie...

Track Listing
On The Road Again (EP)
01 - On The Road Again
02 - Evil Is Going Down
03 - Rollin' And Tumblin'
04 - Bullfrog Blues

On The Road Again (Single)
01 - On The Road Again
02 - Boogie Music

Going Up The Country (EP)
01 - Going Up The Country
02 - Time Was
03 - Poor Moon
04 - Low Down

New Link 26/03/2022

Friday, June 25, 2021

REPOST: Cream - Live Cream (1970) and Live Cream Volume II (1972)

(U.K 1966–1969)
Cream were a 1960s British blues-rock band and supergroup consisting of bassist/vocalist Jack Bruce, guitarist/vocalist Eric Clapton, and drummer Ginger Baker. Their sound was characterised by a hybrid of blues, hard rock and psychedelic rock, combining Clapton's blues guitar playing with the powerful voice and intense bass lines of Jack Bruce and the jazz-influenced drumming of Ginger Baker.
It's hard to know where to start when talking about Cream. In 1966, Eric Clapton was widely considered one of the best guitar players in rock 'n' roll, and after he left the Yardbirds, he got hooked up with Ginger Baker, a phenomenal drummer himself. After the two jammed together, Baker asked Clapton if he wanted to form a new group; Clapton agreed, but only on the condition that bassist Jack Bruce—who he had played with in John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and Powerhouse—be brought on board.
With Bruce in the fold, the group hit the studio in July of 1966, and their debut, Fresh Cream, was released in December of that year. Though it was not an automatic commercial smash, it features some of the most beloved rock songs ever recorded, including "I Feel Free," "Spoonful," and "I'm So Glad." Rolling Stone magazine ranked it the 101st best album of all time.

For their follow-up, they dialled back the blues a bit and went for a more psychedelic approach. And it worked. Disraeli Gears easily outsold its predecessor, and it helped Cream book its place in the pantheon of rock's greatest bands. With tracks like "Sunshine of Your Love," the trio also conquered America, hitting No. 4 on the Billboard Album Charts.
Sadly, Cream would only release two more albums, 1968's Wheels of Fire and 1969's phenomenal swan song, the aptly named, Goodbye. Though Goodbye only featured four new studio recordings, one of them, "Badge"—a song that Clapton wrote with George Harrison (who's wife, Pattie Boyd, Clapton famously went on to marry)—is one of the group's finest songs.
Like so many great artists from the era, their run was too short. Internal turmoil between the members, especially between Bruce and Baker, led to the group splitting up in May of 1968. But lucky for us, it was a hell of a prolific three years.

Live Cream (1970)
Live Cream (Vol 1) is a live compilation album by Cream released in 1970. This album is comprised of four live tracks recorded in 1968 at Winterland and The Fillmore, and one studio track "Lawdy Mama" from 1967, recorded during the Disraeli Gears sessions. The instrumental track for "Lawdy Mama" is the same chord progression as heard on "Strange Brew" with a different vocal and guitar solo by Eric Clapton.

My first experience with hearing Cream was when my brother bought this live recording and played it at full volume one Saturday afternoon when our parents were out. Needless to say, I was totally blown away by the heavy bluesy music I was hearing and on many occasions after this 'initiation by fire' I borrowed his album to play in my room, with the headphones on. I eventually bought the LP off him (and purchased Live Vol 2) and still play both today - some 50 years later !

This NEW RIP was taken from my vinyl in FLAC format and includes full album artwork along with label scans and select pictures taken from the 1968 Winterland Concerts. 
Track Listing
01 - N.S.U. (March 10 1968, Winterland, San Francisco)
02 - Sleepy Time Time (March 9 1968, Winterland, San Francisco)
03 - Sweet Wine (March 10 1968, Winterland, San Francisco)
04 - Rollin' and Tumblin' (March 7 1968, The Fillmore, San Francisco)
05 - Lawdy Mama (Studio Recording from Disraeli Gears sessions, 1967)

Band members:
Eric Clapton - guitar, vocals
Jack Bruce - bass, vocals, harmonica
Ginger Baker - drums

Cream Link (250Mb) New Link 25/06/2021

Live Cream Volume II (1972)

Live Cream Volume II is the second live album by the British rock band Cream, released in March 1972 by Polydor Records (ATCO Records in the US). This album contains six tracks recorded at various performances from 9th March to 4th October 1968.

Album Review
(Review by Chicapah)

Cream’s astonishing popularity took a long time to wane. Three years after their “Goodbye” album served as their official headstone and epitaph, demand for their music was still running unbelievably high so in March of 1972 ATCO assembled yet another collection of in-concert recordings and put it on the market. It promptly rose to #27 on the LP chart, proving once again that the public, usually possessing a very short memory, couldn’t seem to get Eric, Jack and Ginger out of their minds and that’s another telling testimony to what an indelible impression this threesome made on civilised culture in their two and a half years together. They were able to bring the basic concept of jazz improvisation into the volatile world of rock & roll more efficiently than most any other group of that era and that trait is never found to be as evident as it is in their live performances that were, thankfully, captured and preserved.

Live at Winterland
One contrast between this one and the first “Live Cream” album (released almost two years earlier) is that all of the recordings on that disc happened before they’d decided to disband in mid-’68. On “Volume II” half of them were taped in October of that year so it’s my opinion that the first three cuts reflect a lame duck band that was, to some extent, dutifully fulfilling their contracted obligations and had no long-term aspirations or a pressing need to impress their audience. I’m not accusing them of mailing it in, I’m just convinced that, human nature being what it is, there’s a notable difference in the energy being generated in that half of the numbers. It’s no secret that Bruce and Baker weren’t even speaking to each other after they’d opted to call it quits so it stands to reason that those two weren’t exactly focused on providing the tight rhythms that can be heard on the live cuts contained on “Wheels of Fire,” for example.

The disc opens with the three weakest tunes, recorded in the fall of ’68 at an arena in Oakland towards the end of their final American tour. Jack’s “Deserted Cities of the Heart” starts things off and, while the studio version (one of my favourite songs on “Wheels of Fire,” by the way) has an exceptional amount of drive pushing it there’s also a tactfulness involved that gives it a cool personality. On stage it turned into a virtual steamroller that lacked any semblance of dynamics. With the exception of the brief jazzy interludes there’s not much finesse to be detected, just an all-out assault on the gathered throng’s ears. 

At this point in their career the crowds that bought the tickets justifiably expected to hear the band’s big hits recreated for them and few tunes were more in demand than the radio staple, “White Room.” They provide a bland but decent rendition of the song and Bruce takes some interesting vocal liberties with the melody line but the sound quality leaves a lot to be desired. The blend of guitars and drums in particular seems to undulate erratically and it detracts from the impact the recording may have had. Jack’s “Politician” is next, one of my top five Cream numbers due to its creative meld of blues and rock. It gives Clapton a chance to riff all over the place in the spaces between Bruce’s snarky vocal lines and he does a swell job here but I prefer both the original studio take and the exhilarating in-concert rendition included on “Goodbye” to this one simply because they’re both more cohesive and powerful.

The last three cuts were taped pre-dissolution in March of that same year at the Winterland in San Francisco and the difference their still-striving-to-please attitude makes is striking. Eric’s iconic “Tales of Brave Ulysses” from “Disraeli Gears” is performed with gusto. They play a deliciously heavy-handed version and it shows the dramatic presence they regularly projected from the stage into their audiences, especially when you hear them improvise freely as they do toward the end of the number. Whereas the earlier “White Room” is practically devoid of excitement, their performance of their signature song, “Sunshine of Your Love,” is electrifying in comparison. It’s a faithful rendition of the tune structurally but Eric tricks it up a bit by abandoning his well-known guitar solo and taking off on a more spontaneous tear in the middle. The elongated wall of sound ending is immensely intense and galvanising. These guys could knock down stone fortifications with their collective fury. But the best, because it’s the most authentic, is saved for last.

 Their almost 14-minute cover of James Bracken’s blues instrumental, “Steppin’ Out” (not "Hideaway" as the cover credits it) contains everything that made Cream so worthy to be included in any discussion of the evolution of jazz/rock music in the 60s. No doubt, this song was intended to be a time-filler that would allow the acknowledged guitar God Clapton to stretch his wings and give the folks what they came to witness. It begins as a spirited jam but after a while both Jack and Ginger drop out as Eric continues to shred his fretboard unabated as if he was oblivious to whether the other two members were backing him or not. It’s here that you get a chance to realise what a spontaneous and utterly melodic guitarist he was. Baker slowly eases back in behind him and commences to embellish and enhance every lick that Clapton unleashes from that moment on, resulting in some of the most spectacular and aggressive off-the-cuff vamping you’ll ever experience. It’s jaw-dropping good stuff.

Live At Winterland
It’s hard to convey to the younger generations the enormous influence that bands like The Beatles, Stones, Who and Cream had on those of us who came of age in the 60s and how important they were to our well-being. We took bands like this VERY seriously. When this trio broke up it was a tragedy on par with the assassination of JFK and it took us years to get over it. Perhaps albums like “Live Cream, Vol. II” will give you hints as to why we adored them so. On stage they created magic out of thin air and took us on journeys that stimulated and fed our passion for music that knew no restrictions or boundaries. While this album is inferior to its predecessor, there’s still enough in its grooves to make it worth your while.

This NEW RIP was taken from my vinyl in FLAC format and includes full album artwork along with label scans and select pictures taken from the 1968 Winterland Concerts. 
Track listing
01 - Deserted Cities of the Heart (Jack Bruce, Pete Brown) – 4.33
02 - White Room (Bruce, Brown) – 5.40
03 - Politician (Bruce, Brown) – 5.08
04  - Tales of Brave Ulysses (Eric Clapton, Martin Sharp) – 4.46
05 - Sunshine of Your Love (Clapton, Bruce, Brown) – 7.25
06 - Steppin' Out (James Bracken) – 13.38 (Mistitled as "Hideaway" on original LP pressings)

Side 2, tracks 1 & 2 recorded 9 March 1968 at the Winterland, San Francisco
Side 1, track 4 recorded 10 March 1968 at the Winterland, San Francisco
Side 1, tracks 1, 2 & 3 recorded 4 October 1968 at the Oakland Coliseum Arena, Oakland, CA.

Eric Clapton – vocals, guitar
Jack Bruce – vocals, bass, harmonica
Ginger Baker – drums
Felix Pappalardi – producer

Live Cream Vol 2  (272Mb)  New Link 25/06/2021

Saturday, June 19, 2021

The Moir Sisters - Lost Somewhere Beyond Harmony (1975) / State Of Shock (1978) / Singles Collection

 (Australian 1970 - 1975, 1982 - 1983, 1990 - 1996)

The Moir Sisters were formed in 1970 as a folk, pop trio in Melbourne by Jean (born 1956) on co-lead vocals, Margot Rae (born 1959) on co-lead vocals and guitar, and Lesley Moir (born 1961) on co-lead vocals. They were born in Scotland, to Edward Hoy Moir and June Moir (née Stirling), and emigrated to Melbourne in 1962. They returned to Scotland, where their youngest daughter, Leanne, was born in 1968. Margot was given a guitar as a gift; she took to it immediately, and was soon writing her own songs.

The sisters launched their musical trio upon return to Australia late in 1970. In 1974 they won a heat of the TV talent quest, New Faces, on Melbourne's GTV-9, and then they competed in the national final. To capitalise on the national exposure of their New Faces appearances, the trio were signed EMI Music Australia. Their self-penned debut single, "Good Morning (How Are You?)", was released on 5 August 1974 and featured their distinctive high-pitched harmonies. It was produced by Ian Miller, arranged by film critic and musician Ivan Hutchinson, and engineered by Roger Savage. It peaked at No. 8 on the Kent Music Report Singles Chart and and remained on the Australian national charts for 27 weeks. The Australian Issue 45rpm 7' Single was complimented with the B-Side: "We Will Never Change" (EMI 10520).

The sweet-voiced trio with sharpie haircuts and distinctive three-part harmonies, wrote their own songs released their debut album 'Lost Somewhere Beyond Harmony' in 1974. It was produced by Ian Miller, arranged by Geoff Hales (who also played synthesisers and keyboards), engineered by Ross Cockle, with backing from session musicians: guitarists Phil Manning and Billy Green (later known as Will Greenstreet), bass guitarists Barry Sullivan and Duncan McGuire, drummers Graham Morgan, Mark Kennedy and Gary Hyde, keyboard player Mal Logan, jazz saxophonist Brian Brown and backing vocalist, Dan Robinson (ex Wild Cherries). The trio undertook a national tour supporting the Osmonds, but their career was limited as Lesley was 13 at the time, which meant that their live performances had to be approved by the Child Welfare Department of the Victorian Government.

By the late 1970s they were managed by former musician, Glenn Wheatley (then-manager of Little River Band), and after leaving EMI, they signed to Oz Records in Australia, and to Elton John's label, The Rocket Record Company internationally. They shortened their name to the Moirs, and travelled to Los Angeles to record their second album, State of Shock, which was produced by expatriate Australian musician, songwriter and producer, John Farrar, and released later in 1978.

In the early 1980s the trio were signed to Warner Music Group in Australia and issued two more singles, "So Excited" (1982) and "Running Scared" (1983), but neither charted.

In 1989 Margot Moir released her solo single, "Scarlet Skies", and it was followed by the album, Strong and Mighty in 1996. In 2003, the sisters were interviewed for ABC-TV's music documentary series, Love Is in the Air, episode two, "She's Leaving Home". Margot Cesario (née Moir) died on 26 January 2015, aged 56, from complications due to long term diabetes. Margot was the middle sister to Jean and Lesley Moir. [Extracts from Wikipedia and other sites]

State Of Shock (A reflection by Ill Folks)
Back in the day, I was a young rock writer specializing in all the weird and edgy stuff that the rock editors didn't keep for themselves. They tossed me a dozen demo albums with a warning: "Pick one…ONE of these obscure debut albums to review for the next issue." I interviewed people nobody else on the staff cared about or wanted to talk to. So it was, that I scored a copy of "State of Shock," with a three page bio on light blue paper from Rocket Records' publicity department. Whatever drone was working for that label didn't know anything about writing an eye-grabbing opening line:

"Fifteen years ago the entire Moir family emigrated to Australia from their native forfar, in Scotland. On returning for a two-year sojourn some years later, a neighbour gave one of the girls a guitar, which helped to ease the tedium of their return to Australia. It began with Jean, but Margot soon joined with early dabblings in music and vocal techniques."

Note: I did know what a sojourn was, but not a "forfar." It turned out to be a typo and should've been the town of Forfar. So far, so uninteresting. But happily for the girls, they did have a top ten Aussie hit in 1974 with "Good Morning (How Are You?)" and the following year recorded the album "Lost Somewhere Beyond Harmony."

Three years later, Rocket Records thought America might want a spooky, pedo-goth trio of Kate Bushes. Or maybe a girl-group variation on The Chipmunks. So "State of Shock" became the first album by The Moirs to be released in America. 

How sad that when I wangled an invite to a Rocket Records party for new artists, I got to talk to President Elton John himself, and Colin Blunstone, and Lorna Wright, but...nope. The Moirs weren't there. I never did get to see the three sirens in the flesh, assuming they had any. But I kept the 1978 record, which turned out to be their last. 18 years later, Margot issued a solo album that included a new version of "Who Needs a Man." What she did for the next 18 years, I have no idea, however it was sad to hear that Margo (see below) has died at the age of 56. She's survived by her two sisters, the younger Jean (born in 1957) and older Lesley (born in 1962).
So, "Who Needs a Man?" Why not you? The music's a cheesy brand of vaudeville rock, somewhere between "Winchester Cathedral" and "Maxwell's Silver Hammer." There's a doodle-ee-doo type bit of scatting as well, which might be a nod to the aggravating ""A Doodlin' Song" from the 50's, or just a variation on vodo-ee-odo. I guess "nyaa nyaah" was already done by McCartney and wife. The precocious number is the only one on the album with music by Margot. The lyrics are by Jean (who wrote the music for all the other songs). The sisters chide a girl for not hooking up with a willing lesbian:

"Met up with a girl who had a surprise. WOOO! You thought she was strange because she wanted to hold your hand. She said "Listen sugar, are you disappointed 'cause I ain't a man? Who needs a man?"

"Well your parents just wouldn't understand how a daughter could not love a man (too bad). Loving like this can bring a lot of pain. Some people don't think that you are the same. Who needs a man?"  
[Extract from]

Moir Sisters On Coundown singing 'Good Morning, How Are You'

And so, this post is an attempt to pay tribute to Margot and acknowledge the contribution that she and her two sisters made to the Aussie Music Industry. As such, I have called upon the assistance of a well known Aussie Rock historian, Mr Who's Who of Australian Rock - Mr. Chris Spencer - who has kindly provided rips of 'State Of Shock' and a collection of non-album singles. In addition, I would also like to thank SunnyToo for providing the rip of their debut LP - Lost, Somewhere Beyond Harmony.
All tracks are in FLAC format, except for Mago's rework of "Who Needs A Man" which is in MP3 format. Full artwork and label scans are also provided of course.

Lost Somewhere Beyond Harmony (1975)
A1 Good Morning (How Are You) 3:11
A2 Stop The Music 3:00
A3 Ryan 3:45
A4 Harmony Blues 2:52
A5 We Will Never Change 3:46
B1 Fading Memories 3:24
B2 What's Going On 2:51
B3 Keep On Giving 2:43
B4 How Does It Feel 3:47
B5 Lost - Somewhere Beyond Harmony 3:32

FLAC's  (237Mb)

State Of Shock (1978)
A1 Lately It Seems 4:16
A2 Who Needs A Man 3:25
A3 State Of Shock 4:26
A4 We Could Have Been Together 4:00
A5 Winter You've Caught Me Out Again 3:32
B1 Jody 4:44
B2 So Hard To Be A Woman 4:20
B3 Love Will Find A Way 3:44
B4 House Of Secrets 3:21
B5 State Line 3:33

FLACs (247Mb)

01 Wandering Home    3:40
02 Don't Tell Your Mama    2:30
03 So Excited    2:50
04 You Won't Get Me    3:55
05 Running Scared    3:45
06 See You Coming   3:23
07 Scarlet Skies   3:17
08 Tightrope    4:00
09 Margot Moir - Who Needs a Man (1996 Version)   3:26

FLACs (186Mb)

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Duncan Browne - Wild Places (1978) plus Bonus Single

 (U.K 1967 - 1993)

In the 1970s, Duncan Browne formed the band Metro with Peter Godwin and released some records in the US on the Sire label. He released two solo albums: The Wild Places and Streets of Fire. The song "The Wild Places" was a hit single in the Netherlands. From the same period, "Criminal World", co-written by Browne with Peter Godwin, was recorded by David Bowie on his 1983 Let's Dance album.

The Wild Places was released in 1978 through Logo and Sire Records and features contributions from session musicians Tony Hymas, John Giblin and Simon Phillips. In contrast to his previous self-titled solo record in 1977, the sound of the album is fully electric and ranges from progressive rock to straightforward rock music and synthpop.

The Wild Places isn't much like his Immediate album Give Me, Take You -- indeed, it's more like a lost Roxy Music album, or perhaps a lost Bryan Ferry record. It's electric, and the music has a sense of drama as well as beautiful melodies that were even better realised, with lush contributions on the synthesizer and related keyboards by Tony Hymas and a fierce guitar sound courtesy of Browne himself, aided by the upfront presence of John Giblin and Simon Phillips on bass and drums, respectively. 

The music runs the gamut from edgy progressive rock to straight-ahead rock & roll (the latter highlighted by "The Crash"), though Browne was at the top of his game, as both a singer and
composer, working in an introspective, romantic vein, as on the catchy title cut and numbers like
"Roman Vecu" and "Kisarazu."

Rolling Stone Review:
Duncan Browne, ‘The Wild Places’ (07/12/79)

From the pushed-up sleeves of his jacket to the strings-and-keyboards lushness of his music, Englishman Duncan Browne is effete, banal, precious, contrived, and arty. If you’re in a receptive mood, though, he can also be quite seductive: The title song of this album is more than catchy: floating off the radio, sneaking up before it registers, it’s like a dream with interesting nightmare edges, and you can easily lose yourself in its wanderings. “The wild places” is a pretty good idea; you play along, focusing on the hard blips of a fretless bass, and see where Browne can take you.

Even the hilariously “Roman Vecu” (I ask you, what sort of title is that for a rock & roll song?) can get under your skin, if you happen to be feeling especially passive. The music is so lulling and remote you simply don’t hear lines like “But who knows which of us will be the last to remember/That you don’t live in Paris/You don’t live in Paris anymore?,” lines that are surely so far beyond parody as to exist in an alternate universe.

This is not to say that The Wild Places is a trite schlock-perverse masterpiece, as Browne’s first record, the more-than-ten-year-old Give Me Take You remains to this day. To call Browne’s Aubrey Beardsley variations on Donovan themes lightweight would have been to belabor the point, but somehow this earlier LP was insinuating, odd, spooky: John Smothers, who reviewed it in these page, called it “a beautiful corpse,” and he was right on the mark.

Browne might have won himself a more honourable place in pop history if he’d emulated Smothers’
metaphor, or anyway disappeared: The Wild Places doesn’t suggest such intense, decadent pointlessness. “Camino Real” is a rather long waste of time, “Samurai” and “Kisarazu” are unhearable (as opposed to unlistenable) and “The Crash,” so pretentiously titled, is merely bouncy when it wants to be wistful. There isn’t a really irritating moment on the album, but that’s mainly because Browne never dares to come on strong.

Still, Duncan Browne is one singer I never expected to hear from again, and somehow having his debut LP  'Give Me, Take You' sit on my shelves for a decade as hundreds of other LPs have come and gone seems justified every time I hear “The Wild Places.” [Review: Rolling Stone, July 12, 1979]

This post consists of FLACs taken from my LOGO Vinyl, purchased during my Uni days when New Romantic music was just starting to hit the streets and paved the way for the early 80's era typified by bands like Visage, Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet and Culture Club.  I think I bought the album from the Melbourne Uni Bookshop and probably heard the title track being played on the radio, as I also have the single.
I have included full album artwork (although my copy doesn't have the insert sleeve) and label scans.  As a bonus, I have chosen to include the single as both sides are edited versions making them unique.
When listening to"Wild Places" I tend to have a flood of wonderful memories from my University days and some of the wild times I had after hours.  But that's another story !

01 The Wild Places 6:00
02 Roman Vécu 4:43
03 Camino Real (Parts 1, 2 & 3) 8:27
04 Samurai 4:31
05 Kisarazu 7:11
06 The Crash 3:54
07 Planet Earth 6:29
[Bonus Tracks]
08 Wild Places (Single Edit)  4:20
09 Camino Real [Parts 2 & 3] (Single Edit)  3:00

Band Members:
Vocals, Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, 
Percussion – Duncan Browne
Backing Vocals – Duncan Browne, Ray Hendriksen
Bass – John Giblin
Drums, Percussion – Simon Phillips
Synthesizer – Tony Hymas
Keyboards – Duncan Browne (tracks: B2)
Piano – Simon Phillips (tracks: A3)

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Jeff St. John - Rare and Live: 1966 - 1985 (2016)

 (Australian 1965 - 1983, 1996 - 2018)

A chance meeting of four young men at the Sydney Musician's Club in 1965 marked the beginning of the professional singing career of 19-year-old Jeffrey Leo Newton, born in Newtown on April 22, 1946 and educated at Cleveland Street Boys High. He had been singing since the age of eight in talent quests staged by radio station 2GB. At 15 he had a role as a featured vocalist on the Nine Network's Opportunity Knocks and was seen often on television.

The product of that meeting at the Muso's Club was The Syndicate, later renamed The Wild Oats and eventually The Id – hailed then as the "finest soul/rhythm & blues outfit that Sydney had been blessed to contain". They opened at the city's first real discotheque, Rhubarbs, and cut their debut single Lindy Lou. There was little commercial success forthcoming for that and two subsequent singles and it was not until 1967, after they had accepted a three-month residency at North Sydney's Here Disco, that waves began to build. Word soon spread about this mind-blowing funky band and their freak-voiced singer who could scorch the paint off walls with his high notes. Every night the venue would be packed to the gunwales and each night the roaring, finely-controlled voice of Jeff St John would win more converts for life.

A fourth Id single, "Big Time Operator", exploded in February 1967, streaking to number seven nationally. They opened for the Roy Orbison/Walker Brothers/Yardbirds tour and undertook a riotous season at Melbourne's Thumpin' Tum. Riding high on his popularity, St John penned and sang an award-winning Sunaroid 67 radio commercial which, when issued on a promotional disc, proved to be almost as successful as a hit single.

After a second hit with "You Got Me Hummin", The Id splintered. St John continued on with a new band, Yama, a single called "Nothing Comes Easy", and a four-month bout in hospital which proved that title correct. Afflicted with congenital spina bifida since birth, he underwent a leg operation that proved a failure. Whereas he had been able to appear on stage with the use of calipers which gave him a reasonable amount of mobility, he was now consigned forever to what he saw as a dreaded wheelchair.

Down but certainly not out, he would come to use his wheelchair with a level of speed and aggressive determination that had many feel they were watching a basketball match at the Paralympics. An eventual offer of a few lowly paid gigs in Perth gave him the opportunity to return to the stage and build his confidence. He assembled a new band there in 1969.

Jeff St John's Copperwine was hailed as "a truly magical outfit", with an exhilarating mixture of fine musicianship, intense emotional vocals and a definite uncompromising direction. They soon trekked across the continent to become founding fathers, with Tully and Tamam Shud, of a flowering Sydney progressive concert scene.

These bands ruled the all-important 'head' circuit, including the pioneering and pivotal 1970 'Ourimbah Festival'. Alongside Melbourne heavyweights like Chain, Billy Thorpe & the Aztecs and Max Merritt & the Meteors, St John's crew picked up Ourimbah's 10,000 happy hippies, crumpled them with searing heartfelt vocals and hurled them, metaphorically, across the field. By the third encore he was clawing at the air with violent emotion, the intensity matched only by the mesmerised roar of the audience. It is said that all who left the farm had a piece of Jeff St John lodged in their guts.

Two months later the Joint Effort album was released, to strong sales. Chain's occasional vocalist Wendy Saddington came on board for a time, giving Copperwine a two-pronged vocal assault on stage that is still talked about. At the end of 1970 the band was riding high with the national hit "Teach Me How To Fly". For many of his devoted followers there was something symbolic about that particular song and their memories of the man.

Jeff St. John's Copperwine with Wendy Saddington
There was a second, lesser hit with "Hummingbird" and then, like the Id and Yama, the band, at least with St John out front, was no longer there. It is said there were bitter arguments about his songwriting aspirations.

Plainly, St John wanted things done his way and, throughout the Seventies that is basically how it unfolded. With his new Jeff St John Group he took second place to Sherbet in the 1972 National Battle of the Sounds, then entered the studios to cut his first solo single, "Yesterday's Music", coupled with his composition, "In The Window of Your Love".

He landed the support role on national tours by Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry and Gary Glitter. Diddley was so enamoured by St John's vocal virtuosity that he invited him back on stage each night for high-flying duets. The prestigious A&M Records issued Yesterday's Music in the US market.

Jeff St. John and Bo Diddley
On the eve of a seven-month working visit to Britain, on December 27, 1973, St John bade a dynamic farewell to an exceptional year, one which had seen him collect an Outstanding Vocalist of the Year gong, with a concert at Sydney Opera House.  Recorded for the album 'Jeff St John Live', it included a song that seemed to sum up his view of life – Richard Clapton's "I Wanna Be A Survivor".

After his British stint, critic David N. Pepperell wrote: "It is obvious that St John's voice has improved, like a fine wine, with age. Its power seems limitless, its phrasing is precise and meaningful and its sweetness is like honey dripping from a hive." Unfortunately, such praise did not reach the ears of radio programmers, who all but ignored his 1975 self-penned singles "Mr James" and "Reach Out And Touch Me".

For a decade, St John had spoken hopefully of a solo album. After a couple of quiet years – during which he maintained a band called Red Cloud and again supported Bo Diddley — he returned to prominence with that very album. Signed to Warner Brothers, it was released on the Asylum label and gave him top 20 hits with A Fool In Love and Rock'n'Roll Man.

After the 'So Far, So Good' album he released some more singles — "Dock Of The Bay" in 1979 and "I'll Never Need Anyone More" in 1983. He had a tight, slick touring band but at the end of 1983 he retired from the road.

St John's disability had never made it easy for him to pursue a career as physical as live rock, though he rarely allowed it to conquer him. As a member of the spina bifida support group Mosaic, he was involved in educating people about disabilities, in association with Dr John Yeo the director of the Royal North Shore Hospital spinal unit.

Jeff St.John - 2000 Olympics Opening Ceremony 
"If we prevent one person from ending up in a wheelchair we've done our job" he told the Sydney Morning Herald. He sang the national anthem at the 2000 Paralympics in Sydney.
"I love my country," he would say "and this allowed me to be crazy for more years than I can remember."

His challenges and his victory over them proved inspiring to many. In 1980 he was the subject of an episode of Peter Luck's TV documentary series The Australians, titled Jeff St John – Rock'n'Roll Man. During the Bi-Centenary celebrations of 1988 he participated in a video shoot at Uluru for Celebration Of A Nation. In 1985 he portrayed himself in two episodes of A Country Practice, and finished the show with a live rendition of "Sandman" (see below)

He settled in Perth in 1996, a city that had been key to many stages of his career. He pursued his interests, such as motor sports and vehicles, and thanks to an old friend that he reconnected with, 'Ace' Follington, he returned to performing on a local level, as Jeff St John & the Embers, commenting "I'd been divorced from singing for so long I'd lost sight of the fun involved!"

And so, a show evolved consisting of the classics from the 30' and 40's by writers/composers like Rogers & Hammerstein, George & Ira Gershwin, Errol Garner, and an interesting arrangement of Lennon & McCartneys' "You Can't Do That". The CD finishes off with De Sylva, Brown & Hendersons' "Birth of The Blues".  It worked, Jeff and the band started a 4 week season at Clancys in Fremantle, Perth, that turned into a 72 week season! Jeff blames Ace for bringing him out of retirement, but if he hadn't, Perth and Australia would have been without one of the best vocalists to ever come along.

There was the 2001 independent album 'Will The Real Jeff St John PLEASE Stand Up?', of Tin Pan Alley standards.  In 2015 his autobiography The Jeff St John Story: The Inside Outsider was published. 

Sadly, Jeff passed away on the 6th May, 2018 at the age of 71, as a result of a bacterial infection following surgery.   [Extracts from an article by Glenn A. Baker March 8, 2018 - Sydney Morning Herald and Jeff's Website]

This post consists of  MP3's (320kps) and was sourced from Deutros with thanks, along with artwork. This home-made compilation of live tracks stems from Jeff's early days when he played on Bandstand and extends to his cameo role on the Australian sitcom 'A Country Practice' from 1985.  
I have been slowly working my way through re-runs of this show and came across the 2 episodes that featured Jeff playing himself along with one of his 3-wheeler motorbikes.  It was this close encounter that prompted me to post this 'compilation gem' here. Although I was impressed with his acting skills, it was his final performance of America's hit "The Sandman" at the Wanden Valley RSL club that really caught my attention. What a star, and absolute star he was. I've included the video clip above for your entertainment and he really does a crash hot rendition.

Track Listing
01 Introduction On Bandstand
02 The Work Song
03 It's Gonna Work Out Fine
04 Stupidity
05 Humming Bird
06 Teach Me How To Fly
07 Peter Figure's Drum Solo
08 Days To Come
09  Teach Me How To Fly #2
10 The New Centurions (Poem)
11 Only A Woman Like You
12 I Can Hardly Wait For Summer
13 Introduction
14 Big Time Operator
15 Sandman