Sunday, November 27, 2016

CD Review: Frankie Miller's Double Take (2016)

Frankie Miller's Double Take
Chances are, even if the name ‘Frankie Miller’ is unfamiliar, you’ve probably heard one of his songs blaring out of your radio, phone, or other music-gifting device. As a talented songwriter capable of wringing every ounce of emotion out of a lyric, Miller’s songs have been recorded by artists as diverse as Bob Seger, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, the Bellamy Brothers, Etta James, Roy Orbison, Joe Cocker, the Eagles, Three Dog Night, and Clint Black, among others, and charting on both the pop and country charts.

As a performer, Miller cut his teeth with several late ‘60s bands, including Jude, which was formed with former Procol Harum guitarist Robin Trower, Stone the Crows bassist James Dewar, and Jethro Tull drummer Clive Bunker. Miller launched his solo career in earnest during the early ‘70s British pub rock scene, the singer backed on his 1973 debut Once In A Blue Moon by rockers Brinsley Schwarz.

A string of brilliant collections of ‘blue eyed soul’ would follow – the 1974 Allen Toussaint-produced High Life, 1975’s The Rock and Full House albums, and 1978’s Double Trouble, which featured Brinsley Schwarz guitarist Ian Gomm and Ace keyboardist Paul Carrack, and included Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler on backing vocals on several tracks. Although Miller never broke through in the U.S. with his solo albums, he scored several minor U.K. chart hits, but his incredible performances and well-written songs found loyal fans on both sides of the Atlantic.

Miller’s ‘Blue Eyed Soul’

Miller continued to record and tour throughout the 1980s and into the ‘90s when he suffered a brain hemorrhage while working on material for a new band to feature guitarist Joe Walsh and pianist Nicky Hopkins. The singer spent months in a coma and years in therapy and is still unable to speak, much less sing, to this day. One lone archive collection, 2006’s Long Way Home, has been released since Miller’s illness, as well as a handful of raucous live albums, the best of which is the three-disc Live At Rockpalast set.

Frankie Miller’s Double Take – essentially the singer’s 11th studio album – came about when singer Rod Stewart asked producer David Mackay if he had any unreleased songs by Miller. The producer reached out to Miller’s wife, who provided a bag of demo tapes which Mackay used to piece together a brilliant album comprised of previously-unreleased material expanded with high-profile guest appearances. Finding volunteers for the production proved effortless, as many singers and musicians were readily willing to lend their talents to the project in tribute to Miller.

As such, Frankie Miller’s Double Take features guests like guitarists Joe Walsh and Steve Cropper; singers Rod Stewart, Bonnie Tyler, Delbert McClinton, and Willie Nelson; and other instrumentalists like Elton John and Paul Carrack (vocals and piano). Miller’s ‘Full House’ bandmates Chrissie Stewart and Ray Minhinnett provide bass and guitar, respectively, on several tracks. Mackay’s production is nuanced and quite brilliant – on songs where Miller’s vox are the strongest, he’s pushed high in the mix and into the spotlight; where an apparently weaker Miller performance appears on an otherwise fantastic song, the guest’s vocals are pushed to the forefront. The technique works quite well and does little to detract from Miller’s enormous talents.

Frankie Miller’s Double Take

The muscular rocker “Blackmail” opens Frankie Miller’s Double Take, the song screwing itself tightly into a deep groove with Joe Walsh’s approximation of the “Peter Gunn Theme” opening, his machine-gun riffs rumbling menacingly beneath Miller’s bold vocals. Given the up-front mix of the backing vocals, I’m guessing that Miller’s take here was a little less powerful than others on the album, but the arrangement and instrumentation all work together to result in a strong performance.

There’s no place for Miller’s vocals to hide on “Where Do The Guilty Go,” a duet with Elton John that features legendary Memphis guitarist Steve Cropper and the Jubilation Choir singing in the background. The song is part inspired Southern soul, part inspired gospel fervor, and Elton ups his game to sit comfortably alongside Miller’s heartfelt vox, making his presence felt but never detracting from Miller’s performance.

And therein lies the genius of Frankie Miller’s Double Take – for all the vaunted “guest stars,” the majority of them volunteering their talents out of a love of Miller’s voice and songwriting prowess, and they do their best to support the waylaid singer rather than upstage him. A fine example of this is “Way Past Midnight,” which features Huey Lewis putting on his best soul shoes and dueting with Miller on an old-school rhythm and blues romp that includes the intoxicating horns of The Sports Section with sax master Johnny Colla.

Sending Me Angels

Miller’s old friend Bonnie Tyler sits in on the ballad “True Love,” a moving performance by the two not dissimilar vocalists that includes the stellar fretwork of guitarist Jerry Stevenson. The singers’ voices mesh together well, entwined in an emotional performance for the ages. Rod Stewart was obviously influenced by Miller, a contemporary, but ‘Mod’ Rod’s vocals could never hold a candle to Frankie’s incredible soulfulness.

Nonetheless, Stewart musters a spectacular performance on the duet “Kiss Her For Me.” Featuring Walsh’s shimmering notes and Stevenson’s elegant filigree strum, the song is a throwback to Miller’s 1970s-era material, a simply beautiful performance and near-perfect melding of their voices, Walsh even adding some subtle piano fills. It’s a moving, magical song.

Status Quo’s Francis Rossi brings guitar, bass, and keyboards to “Gold Shoes,” one of the album’s lesser songs but a jaunty romp nonetheless with Miller’s breathless vocals and the band’s rollicking instrumentation. Better is “Sending Me Angels,” which features singer Kiki Dee; Miller’s heartbreaking vocals float nicely above Dee’s backing vox and Ian Stuart Lynn’s powerful, reverent piano playing. Dee’s lead vocals are as similarly lofty as Miller’s, and magnetically alluring. Guitarist Jose Antonio Rodriguez’s tasteful Flamenco-styled solos provide a too-brief glimpse of unparalleled beauty.

When It’s Rockin’

Frankie Miller
“When It’s Rockin’” brings back Full House era guitarist Ray Minhinnett for a rowdy performance that offers up a blistering Miller vocal reading, plenty of stinging guitarplay, and a full horn section blastin’ away at full strength. Miller was always more of a soul man than bluesman, but with a little help from guitarists Minhinnett and Stevenson and singer Delbert McClinton, the gang delivers a red-hot slab o’ roots ‘n’ blues with “Beginner At The Blues.”

A swinging, big band effort with honkin’ horns, Richard Cottle’s rattling keys, and the dichotomy of the two singers’ voices – Miller’s soul shouting and McClinton’s bluesy Texas twang – and the resulting “Beginner At The Blues” provides a mighty satisfying performance. Willie Nelson sits in on “I Wanna’ Spend My Life With You,” his wistful, emotional vocals fitting hand-in-glove with Miller’s tear-jerk reading as harp player Mickey Raphael blows mournfully above the mix.

The album closes with Miller’s plaintive “I Do,” the singer sparsely accompanied only by Cottle’s ethereal keyboards and guitarist James Graydon’s filigree acoustic. A showcase for Miller’s powerful, emotion-drenched vocals, it’s an achingly beautiful performance that wraps up all that was great about the singer’s career in a too-brief three-and-a-half minutes.

The Reverend’s Bottom Line

There are more great performances on Frankie Miller’s Double Take than I have room to write about here, including those with Paul Carrack, John Parr, and Stuart Emerson. There’s only one real artistic fumble among the album’s nineteen tunes – Kid Rock’s appearance on “Jezebel Jones,” his reedy, countrified vocals trying in vain to mimic Bob Seger’s ‘Rust Belt’ howl while Miller’s slight vocal performance is virtually buried in the mix.

Kid Rock hasn’t been relevant to anybody but a few hardcore fans for years, yet he keeps popping up as a guest on albums by greater talents like Buddy Guy, John Fogerty, Sammy Hagar, and Jerry Lee Lewis. Producers, if Kid Rock is the best you can do in terms of a “guest star,” then you’ve clearly run out of ideas. That minor cavil aside, Frankie Miller’s Double Take is a loving tribute to a great singer and songwriter by a clearly inspired group of friends and talented admirers.

Kudos to producer David MacKay, who also contributes his not-inconsiderable musical talents to most of these songs; thanks also to all the performers who took time out of their busy careers to contribute their talents to this effort. Frankie Miller’s Double Take may be the best album he never made, Frankie Miller a too-often-overlooked artist well worth rediscovery. For longtime fans, the album is a gift from the rock ‘n’ soul gods who clearly blessed Mr. Francis John Miller with enormous talent and charisma. Grade: A+ (Universal Music, released November 11, 2016)

Buy the CD from Frankie Miller's Double Take

Ian Hunter’s enormous, spectacular Stranded in Reality box set!

Ian Hunter's Stranded In Reality
These premium-priced, multi-multi-multi-disc box sets are getting out of hand, especially since your humble scribe is too damn poor to be able to afford even a portion of what’s being released from the archives on CD and vinyl in these days and times. While it may sound like the death-rattle of the recording industry, but for new and old-school rock ‘n’ roll fans alike, these boxes are literal nirvana. Case in point: Ian Hunter’s Stranded in Reality, a whopping 30-disc anthology box set that features damn near everything the legendary Mott the Hoople frontman and influential solo artist has tacked his name to over the past five decades!

Stranded in Reality was compiled by Hunter and Mott the Hoople biographer Campbell Devine, and it covers the years 1975 to 2015 – a wide swath of the singer/songwriter’s career. Collecting seventeen original Hunter solo albums on nineteen discs, the set includes another nine “new” CDs of rare and unreleased recordings as well as a pair of DVDs with visual content. The box includes expanded “anniversary” versions of Hunter’s self-titled 1975 debut album, 1976’s All-American Alien Boy, 1979’s You’re Never Alone With A Schizophrenic, and the live 1980 album Welcome To The Club. Other acclaimed Hunter solo efforts like 1981’s Short Back n’ Sides, 1983’s All of the Good Ones Are Taken, 1996’s The Artful Dodger, 2007’s Shrunken Heads, and 2012’s When I’m President are presented with unique bonus tracks.

Ian Hunter
The “new” albums included in the box are titled Tilting the Mirror (two discs of rarities), If You Wait Long Enough For Anything, You Can Get It On Sale (two discs of live tracks from 1979-81), Bag of Tricks (three discs of live performances), Acoustic Shadows, and Experiments. These audio discs feature many previously-unreleased and “lost” songs from Hunter’s archive including “San Diego Freeway, “Nobody’s Perfect,” and “Salvation” as well as live versions of “Wild East, “The Outsider,” and a 2008 acoustic concert. The accompanying two-disc DVD It Never Happened features promo, live, and previously-unreleased archive material including a complete 1979 Hunter concert featuring friend and longtime guitarist Mick Ronson.

Stranded in Reality is a limited edition release of only 2,500 copies for sale worldwide, and is packaged in an LP-sized deluxe box with custom Escher-styled cover, an 88-page hardback book with a comprehensive essay, memorabilia, a signed lithograph, and Hunter’s track-by-track commentary for every song. The set is available through the Proper Music website, and the price breaks down to less than $11 a disc, a bargain for an artist of Hunter’s talent and history.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

CD Review: Otis Redding's Live At The Whiskey A Go Go (2016)

Otis Redding's Live At The Whiskey A Go Go
In April 1966, soul great Otis Redding was riding high on the charts with his high-energy cover of the Rolling Stones’ hit “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” Booked into Hollywood’s Whisky A Go Go for a four-night stand, with Taj Mahal’s Rising Sons opening, three of these night’s performances were taped for potential future release. Backed by a ten-piece outfit led by saxophonist Bob Holloway, Redding ripped energetically through the material like a man possessed while his crackerjack band rocks ‘n’ rolls behind him like a tire swing in a tornado.

Portions of Redding’s historic 1966 Whisky performances have been parceled out through the years on a number of albums, first with 1968’s In Person at the Whisky A Go Go and later, in 1982, as the Recorded Live album. These performances first made their way onto CD in 1993 as Good To Me: Recorded Live at the Whiskey, and were subsequently expanded and released most recently on 2010’s two-disc Live On The Sunset Strip, but they’ve never been collected in their entirety until now. The release of the massive, six-disc Live at the Whiskey A Go Go: The Complete Recordings box set offers every single note from seven sets performed over three nights, including Redding’s between-song banter, presented in chronological order and remixed and re-mastered from the original four-track analog tapes.

Otis Redding’s Live At The Whiskey A Go Go: The Complete Recordings

Live at the Whiskey A Go Go offers up all the chart hits you’d expect from such a retrospective collection – Top 30 soul smashes like the bluesy torch-song “These Arms of Mine;” the curious country-soul hybrid “Chain and Bound,” which combines pure R&B heartbreak vocals with guitarist James Young’s delightfully twangy fretwork; and the tearjerking “Mr. Pitiful,” one of Redding’s most emotional vocal performances, delivered above a deceptively jaunty soundtrack. The collection offers a deeper look at Redding’s multi-faceted talents, however. The singer’s original “Respect” – a big hit for Aretha Franklin, perhaps his female counterpart – is a staggering bit of original rock ‘n’ soul music with brassy horns and confident, forceful vocals.

With seven sets stretched across three nights, there is more than a little duplication in the material performed, but Redding brings an astounding amount of nuance and subtlety to these performances, his often humorous between-song commentary creating a fast bond with the audience. There are plenty of surprises to be found on Live at the Whiskey A Go Go: Redding’s “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” benefits from incredibly moving performances across all three nights, while the underrated, emotionally-charged “Security” is ‘60s-era soul music at its very best. Who could have prepared for an Otis Redding cover of “A Hard Day’s Night?” Shorn of its pop-rock roots, the song is re-imagined here as an old-fashioned big-band R&B romp with driving rhythms, blazing hornplay, and Redding’s rowdy vocals.

Even Redding’s throwaways are better than almost any other singer’s best work. Witness his dynamic take on “Ole Man Trouble,” the B-side to his Top 40 pop hit “Respect.” With the horn section swinging like a hurricane behind him, Redding pulls out the stops with a staggeringly emotional performance that rivals any of his hits. Providing James Brown’s classic “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag” with a funky, raucous performance complete with the singer’s teasing, good-natured stage banter, the song is stretched into a groove-heavy ten-minute jam that is a showcase for Redding’s vocal gymnastics and the band’s immense talents and chemistry as well as offering a respectful nod to the inescapable influence of the ‘Godfather of Soul.’ Proving to be as talented an interpreter of songs as he was a songwriter, Redding’s over-the-top reading of the Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” brings that band’s R&B influences to the fore with a blisteringly fast-paced and soaring, soul-drenched performance that effortlessly reaches joyous heights that Mick Jagger could only aspire to...

The Reverend’s Bottom Line

In the wake of the Whiskey performances, Otis Redding’s star would continue to rise, the singer scoring several more hits and delivering a stunning performance at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. As shown by Live at the Whiskey A Go Go, however, Redding already had it going on as an artist, a performer, and songwriter. Truthfully, though, if you’re only a casual Otis Redding fan, then there’s probably no compelling reason to put down $45+ for a copy of Live at the Whiskey A Go Go: The Complete Recordings. The two discs of the budget-priced, but no less excellent Live On The Sunset Strip set would probably serve you well instead.

But if you’re a true-blue Otis Redding fanatic, or a big-time fan of classic soul music, Live at the Whiskey A Go Go delivers much, much more of a very, very good thing – pure Otis soul, all three night’s performances at the legendary venue in April 1966 featuring the greatest soul singer of all time holding the audience in the palm of his hand. Otis Redding’s Live at the Whiskey A Go Go is a priceless collection of incredible performances by one of the very best… Grade: A+ (Volt Records/Concord Music, released October 28, 2016)

Buy the CD from Otis Redding’s Live at the Whiskey A Go Go

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Rock ‘n’ Roll Legend Leon Russell, R.I.P.

Leon Russell, circa 1980
It’s been an absolutely brutal year for rock ‘n’ roll as we’ve lost a number of beloved musicians. Sadly, the onslaught continued this week with the deaths of singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen and musician and label founder Billy Miller of Norton Records. As a longtime fan, this morning’s news of the death of classic rock legend Leon Russell particularly stings.

Singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Leon Russell is best-known for his string of early ‘70s-era hit albums and FM radio-friendly singles. Russell’s sound was pure American music, a gospel-tinged blend of boogie-woogie, blues, roots-rock, and country music that was delivered in with a unique Okie patois and vibrant piano-pounding that rivaled his former boss Jerry Lee Lewis at times.

Born in Lawton, Oklahoma Russell began his lengthy career at the age of fourteen, his band the Starlighters – which also included the talented J.J. Cale – playing local Tulsa clubs. Moving to Los Angeles at the dawn of the ‘60s, Russell studied guitar with the legendary James Burton and became an in-demand session player as part of the Wrecking Crew. Russell played behind artists as diverse as the Byrds, Herb Alpert, Bobby “Boris” Pickett, and Gary Lewis and the Playboys, for which he wrote the hit “Everybody Loves A Clown.” Teaming with guitarist Marc Benno, the pair recorded the acclaimed 1968 album Look Inside The Asylum Choir, released by Smash Records. A follow-up, Asylum Choir II, was recorded in 1968 but not released until 1971, by which time Russell had launched his solo career.

Leon Russell's Leon Russell
In 1969, Russell and British producer Denny Cordell (The Moody Blues, The Move) created the Shelter Records label, which operated until 1981 and released albums by Russell, his old bandmate J.J. Cale, Memphis music legend Don Nix, blues legend Freddie King, R&B great Phoebe Snow, power-pop pioneer Dwight Twilley, and rocker Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (say what you will about Shelter’s shabby distribution efforts, the label knew how to sign talented artists!). During this same period, Russell toured and recorded as a member of Delaney & Bonnie and Friends, where he’d meet both Eric Clapton and George Harrison.

Russell’s career was linked with that of singer Joe Cocker during this era: Cocker scored a hit with the Russell-penned song “Delta Lady,” from his self-titled 1969 debut album, which was co-produced and arranged by Russell. Using musicians from Delaney & Bonnie and Friends, Russell organized Cocker’s 1970 “Mad Dogs and Englishmen” tour, which resulted in a Top Ten hit album and an acclaimed concert film which was released theatrically. While touring with Cocker, Shelter Records released Russell’s self-titled debut, the 1970 album including the Russell original “A Song For You,” which would subsequently be recorded by better than 40 artists. The album featured guest appearances from such classic rock heavyweights as George Harrison and Ringo Starr of the Beatles, Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood of Blind Faith, and Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts, and Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones. Russell would later perform as part of Harrison’s “Concert For Bangladesh,” appearing in the film and on the soundtrack album.

Leon Russell & the Shelter People
Russell followed up the modest success of his debut with 1971’s Leon Russell and the Shelter People, a Top 20 charting album, but his career would take off a year later with Carney, a Top 10 album that yielded a hit single with “Tight Rope.” Several charting albums would follow – 1973’s Leon Live, 1974’s Stop All That Jazz, and 1975’s Will O’ The Wisp – two of the three earning Gold™ Record status. Russell paid tribute to his love of country music with 1973’s Hank Wilson’s Back!, a collection of classic country tunes recorded in L.A. and Nashville that went Top 30. Russell would return to the country music genre with 1979’s One For The Road, collaborating with Willie Nelson.

By the end of the ‘70s, Russell had spent better than 20 years in the trenches and, after moving to the Nashville area in the early ‘80s, he began cutting back on his workload though he still kept a finger in producing and recording. After spending much of the 1990s and early ‘00s in relative obscurity, Russell’s career was jump-started when Elton John came to him with an idea for a collaboration. The result was 2009’s The Union, a double album credited to both artists and produced by T-Bone Burnett which would earn Russell his sixth Gold™ Record. Russell and John toured together in support of the album, and performed on both Saturday Night Live and The David Letterman Show.

Leon Russell's Leon Live
The album and tour raised Russell’s profile to the highest point in years, and he followed up The Union with a solo tour and 2014’s Life Journey album, the artist’s last. In September 2015, Russell reunited with old friends and “Mad Dogs” band mates Rita Coolidge, Claudia Lennear, and Chris Stainton for a Joe Cocker tribute concert organized by the Tedeschi Trucks Band and taped for a documentary film.

Russell suffered a heart attack in July 2016 that he was still recovering from at the time of his death. Inducted into both the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2011, Russell’s influence as a musician, producer, and songwriter is undeniable. He worked with a literal “who’s who” of rock ‘n’ roll during the 1970’s and ‘80s (Dylan, Clapton, three/fourths of the Beatles, etc), and his songs have been recorded by artists as diverse as the Carpenters, Willie Nelson, Ray Charles, George Benson, and B.B. King. His talents will definitely be missed...

Marie Trout’s The Blues – Why It Still Hurts So Good book

Marie Trout’s The Blues – Why It Still Hurts So Good book
Dr. Marie Trout, PhD is a familiar name to most blues fans – the wife and manager of blues-rock guitar legend Walter Trout, Marie has spent much of her life immersed in the blues as both a fan and an industry professional. Two of the nicest people you’ll ever meet (in or out of the industry), Marie and Walter lived the blues with the guitarist’s recent life-threatening illness and subsequent liver transplant. The good Dr. Trout’s original academic research of blues fans has resulted in a powerful new book, The Blues – Why It Still Hurts So Good, scheduled for publication on February 3rd, 2017.

Using the “Grounded Theory” methodology of research, Trout studied blues fans, musicians, and industry professionals about the role that blues music plays with modern audiences. Dr. Trout surveyed over a thousand blues fans, and interviewed many others as well as musicians and others in the blues business, coming to the conclusion that the role of blues music for contemporary audiences, as well as its transformative musical potential, had not been sufficiently explored in literature. She found that today’s blues fans (primarily white baby boomers) are encouraged and strengthened by and find healing power in their love of the blues. Fans and musicians alike find the music raw, sincere, and “real,” as opposed to a frustrating, superficial popular culture. She also writes of the power of blues music to express difficult and complex emotions,

All proceeds from The Blues – Why It Still Hurts So Good will benefit The Blues Foundation’s HART Fund, which was established to assist blues musicians and their families in financial need due to health concerns, the fund providing acute, chronic, and preventive medical and dental care as well as funeral and burial expenses. In a press release for the book, Marie states “it is important for Walter and I to give back to the community that literally and figuratively bought stock in Walter’s liver. And to help musicians in need of help, is just passing on what we received. I hope many will find that the book gives them a new appreciation for, and understanding of, blues music. And simultaneously that the funds raised will be a blessing to those who are ill and are currently living the blues.”

Buy the book from Amazon: Marie Trout's The Blues - Why It Still Hurts So Good

Space Rock: An Interstellar Traveler’s Guide box set

Space Rock: An Interstellar Traveler’s Guide box set

An offshoot, perhaps, of progressive rock, the genre known as “space rock” is the Rodney Dangerfield of classic rock music…it just doesn’t get any respect! That’s unlikely to change with the November 18th, 2016 release of Space Rock: An Interstellar Traveler’s Guide by Purple Pyramid Records, a Cleopatra Records imprint.

A six-CD box set, Space Rock: An Interstellar Traveler’s Guide is packed with jams from legendary bands like Hawkwind, Gong, Can, Tangerine Dream, Ozric Tentacles, Nektar, and Amon Düül II as well as lesser-known but no less talented artists like Popol Vu, Faust, and Guru Guru, among many others. The bands included on the six discs of Space Rock span the globe, ranging from England, Germany, and Scandinavia to New Zealand, Russia, and Italy, the box truly representative of the entire spectrum and diversity of space rock bands. The set also includes a spacey Alice Cooper (!) track, “B.B. On Mars,” as well as an unreleased Nik Turner song and a 1975 interview with the former Hawkwind member and space rock pioneer.

Each disc comes in its own individually-designed jacket, and all six are packaged in a deluxe 7”x7” box with an oversized booklet featuring liner notes by my colleague – esteemed music journalist and historian Dave Thompson (who literally wrote the book on space rock!) – that includes band bios, photos, and freaky lysergic-inspired artwork.

Check out the set’s complete tracklist below and then get on over to and order your copy of Space Rock: An Interstellar Traveler’s Guide!

Space Rock: An Interstellar Traveler’s Guide track list:

1. Can – “All Gates Open”
2. Hedersleben – “Gulf of Lost Souls”
3. Øresund Space Collective – “The Trichophantic Spire”
4. Popol Vuh – “Steh Auf, Zieh Mich Dir Nach”
5. Joel Vandroogenbroeck – “Sign From Space”
6. Ozric Tentacles – “Space Out”
7. Secret Saucer – “Lift Off”
8. An Emerald City – “Seizuretron”
9. Nik Turner – “Out of Control”
10. Melting Euphoria – “Flying Eyes Like Saucers”
11. Guru Guru Groove Band – “UFOlove”
12. Maat Lander – “The Comet Rider”
13. Gong – “Fohat Digs Holes In Space” [Live Paris 1972]

1. Tangerine Dream – “Ultima Thule, Part 1”
2. Brainticket – “Watchin’ You”
3. Faust – “Parasiten”
4. Pyramidal – “Black Land”
5. Shawn Lee – “Low Riders In Space”
6. Hydravion – “Passadena Airport”
7. Pressurehed – “Altitude”
8. Het Droste Effect – “You Know That I Knew”
9. German Oak – “Shadows of War (A. Rain Of Destruction / B. B1 To London)”
10. Daevid Allen Weird Quartet – “The Cold Stuffings of November”
11. Omega – “Don't Keep On Me Waitin’”
12. Kalutaliksuak – “What Are Your Feet Eating?”
13. Oranssi Pazuzu – “Reikä Maisemassa”

1. Steve Hillage & William Shatner – “Rocket Man” [alternate mix]
2. Black Rainbows – “Hawkdope”
3. Guru Freakout – “Notre Dame (Mothership)”
4. XYNN – “Lost In Space” [English version]
5. The Spacelords – “Pyroclastic Monster”
6. Aqua Nebula Oscillator – “Human Toad” [Live]
7. Magic Wands – “Jupiter”
8. Atomic Simao – “Descending”
9. White Manna – “We Pretend Space Isn't There”
10. Yuri Gagarin – “At The Center Of All Infinity”
11. Federico Farnè – “What Illuminates The Night”

1. Guru Guru – “Spaceship” [edit]
2. Hawkwind – “Seeing It As You Really Are”
3. It’s Not Night: It’s Space – “Vibration Eater”
4. Earthling Society – “EA1729”
5. Robert Calvert – “Lemmy & I Swallowed Massive Amounts of Drugs”
6. Gilli Smyth – “What Do You Really Want” [live]
7. The Re-Stoned – “Faces of Earth”
8. The Dunes – “Badlands”
9. Exxasens – “Helios”
10. Oranjjoolius – “Tiki Sleep Cycle”
11. Equations – “SSSUUUNNN”
12. Secret Symbol Society – “Canes Venatici”
13. Lord Fuzz – “The Freak”

1. Amon Düül II – “Archangels Thunderbird”
2. Naxatra – “Space Tunnel”
3. Celestial Bums – “Child of the Moon”
4. Dark Buddha Rising – “L”
5. My Education / Theta Naught Sound Mass – “End Masse”
6. Sun Araw – “Deep Temple”
7. Hidria Spacefolk – “Kaneh Bosm”
8. Dasputnik – “Orbitary Volcano”
9. Ava Cherry – “Highway Blues”
10. Orlando Monday – “Moonchild”
11. MKM – “Retorn Al Planeta Imaginari”
12. Sons of Hippies – “Spaceship Ride”

1. Nektar – “Astronaut’s Nightmare”
2. Chrome – “Eyes In The Center”
3. Space Debris – “Phonomorph”
4. Leroy Powell and The Messengers – “Weightlessness”
5. Electric Orange – “Meals of Confusion”
6. Floorian – “Overruled”
7. Alice Cooper – “B.B. On Mars” [Live 1969]
8. Gdeva – “Autobahn”
9. Vespero – “Vision 7. Kidish Hail”
10. ST 37 – “The ‘In’ Crowd”
11. Nik Turner – “1975 Interview”

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

CD Preview: John Mayall's Talk About That

John Mayall's Talk About That
British blues legend and Blues Hall of Fame member John Mayall has finished up a new CD titled Talk About That, scheduled for January 27, 2017 release by Forty Below Records, and that’s good news indeed! Working with his longtime band members Rocky Athas (guitar), Greg Rzab (bass), and Jay Davenport (drums), the talented multi-instrumentalist Mayall co-produced Talk About That with Forty Below President Eric Corne at the House of Blues Studio in Encino, California.

Talk About That features eleven tracks, including eight original songs and smokin’ covers of Memphis soul legend Bettye Crutcher’s “It’s Hard Going Up,” bluesman Jimmy Rogers’ “Goin’ Away Baby,” and rocker Jerry Lynn Williams’ “Don’t Deny Me.” Of the original tunes, the New Orleans-flavored “Gimme Some of That Gumbo” features a three-piece horn section to spice up the recording. The album also features former James Gang/Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh performing on the Mayall originals “The Devil Must Be Laughing” and “Cards On The Table.”

 “When I first had the idea for the title track, ‘Talk about That,’ I wanted to write lyrics that were about aspects of life that were running through my head,” says John Mayall in a press release for the new album. “I also wanted to give the song a modern groove that would convey the fun mood driving the piece. Greg and Jay laid down a really infectious rhythm for me to feature my keyboard chops and bring the song to life with a really funky feel driving it.” Mayall’s “The Devil Must Be Laughing,” which deals with the current political climate, was recorded in a single take and features Walsh’s dynamic fretwork.

The sessions for Talk About That also represent the last recordings created by Mayall’s longstanding four-piece band. Shortly after wrapping up the album, guitarist Rocky Athas parted ways with the band and will pursue his solo career. In a statement, Mayall said “due to severe storm conditions recently, guitarist Rocky Athas was unable to get out of Dallas for my recent festival shows that led to my performing as a trio. Having never performed anywhere or at any time without a guitar sidekick, I found that I was able to explore new territories in a trio configuration playing organ, keyboards, harmonica and guitar. Needless to say I was surprised at how different and stimulating the experience was for me as a performer.”

“So now, as Greg Rzab, Jay Davenport and I embark on several weeks of intensive touring all around the States,” says Mayall, “we hope you all will enjoy the fireworks coming your way as my live show calendar brings us to your expectant ears.” Check out the video of the making of Talk About That below and plan on catching Mayall and crew when they hit your hometown.

John Mayall tour dates:

11/09/16 @ Tower Theatre, Bend OR
11/10/16 @ El Rey Theatre, Chico CA
11/11/16 @ Rio Theater, Santa Cruz CA
11/12/16 @ Yoshi's, Oakland CA
11/13/16 @ Yoshi’s, Oakland CA
11/14/16 @ Tower Theatre for Performing Arts, Fresno CA
11/15/16 @ Crest Theater, Sacramento CA
11/16/16 @ Fremont Theater, San Luis Obispo CA
11/17/16 @ Canyon Club, Agoura Hills CA
11/18/16 @ The Rose, Pasadena CA
11/19/16 @ The Coach House, San Juan Capistrano CA
11/20/16 @ Belly Up Tavern, Solana Beach CA
11/23/16 @ Castle Theater @ Maui Arts & Cultural Center, Maui HI
11/25/16 @ Palace Theaterilo, Hilo HI
11/26/16 @ Honokaa Peoples Theater, Honokaa HI
11/27/16 @ Blue Note Hawaii, Honolulu HI
01/19/17 to 01/23/17 @ Legends Cruise

Buy the CD from John Mayall's Talk About That

Previously on That Devil Music:
John Mayall's Bluesbreakers' Live In 1967 CD review
John Mayall's Bluesbreakers' Live In 1967, Volume 2 CD review

High Moon Records to release long-lost Terry Dolan LP

Terry Dolan's Terry Dolan
Singer/songwriter Terry Dolan is one of those obscure footnotes in rock ‘n’ roll history, a talented artist that garnered tons of respect from his peers but nevertheless never managed to find an audience beyond his loyal San Francisco Bay area fans. Dolan is best-known as the frontman for the long-running band of friends known as Terry and the Pirates. Formed by Dolan in 1973 with the equally-talented guitarists John Cipollina (Quicksilver Messenger Service) and Greg Douglass (Country Weather), Terry and the Pirates had a great run in the bay area, performing and recording until Cipollina’s death in 1989, after which the band temporarily broke up. Dolan reformed the Pirates in 1994 and carried the banner for the band’s unique blend of folk and rock music until his death in 2012.

Long before Terry and the Pirates, however, Dolan was just another singer/songwriter who had immigrated to the bay area from the east coast prior to the “summer of love.” Dolan recorded a demo for his song “Inlaws & Outlaws” with SF band Country Weather and with the help of legendary bay area FM radio DJ “Big Daddy” Tom Donahue, Dolan was signed to Warner Brothers Records in 1972. Dolan recorded his debut album with a host of talented friends, including guitarists Cipollina, Douglass, and Neal Schon (Journey); pianists Nicky Hopkins (Rolling Stones) and Pete Sears (Rod Stewart’s band); and drummers Prairie Prince (The Tubes) and Spencer Dryden (Jefferson Airplane) as well as backing singers Kathi McDonald and the Pointer Sisters.

With recording completed, the cover designed, and the album even assigned a catalog number, Warner Brothers inexplicably cancelled the album two months before its release, shelving the record for decades and dropping the artist from their roster. The good people at High Moon Records have resurrected this long-lost gem of ‘70s-era San Francisco rock with plans to finally release Terry Dolan’s self-titled debut album on November 25th, 2016 in both CD and vinyl formats.

The album has been re-mastered from the original analog tapes by multiple Grammy™ Award nominee Dan Hersch, and features cover and artwork by legendary rock photographer Herb Greene. The vinyl version offers eight songs recorded by Dolan for the original album release while the CD includes six bonus tracks from the original sessions. Both versions include a booklet crammed with rare photos, an essay on the album’s history, and recollections about Dolan from friends and the musicians that helped record the LP.

High Moon has a good track record with this sort of thing, the label previously rescuing albums by Love and Gene Clark of the Byrds from the dustbins of history and releasing them as premium, high quality reissues. Check out the Terry Dolan video below and then get on over to High Moon’s website for more information!

Buy the CD from Terry Dolan's Terry Dolan

Man of the World: The Peter Green Story DVD

Man of the World: The Peter Green Story DVD
Legendary British blues-rock guitarist Peter Green first came to prominence as Eric Clapton’s replacement in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, a high-profile gig if there ever was one. After a short but storied tenure with Mayall’s groundbreaking outfit that included the classic 1967 album A Hard Road, the guitarist left Mayall’s employment to form Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac with bassist John McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood. A far different band than that which would light up the U.S. sales charts during the ‘70s, Green’s Fleetwood Mac delivered such timeless ’60s-era albums as English Rose and Then Play On which featured Green’s bluesy, sublime fretwork.

Fleetwood Mac’s initial success messed with Green’s mind, and he left the band in 1970, lending his talents to sporadic recordings by friends before almost entirely disappearing from the world of music altogether. Green resurfaced in the early ‘90s with the Peter Green Splinter Group and has since cemented his musical legacy with a string of acclaimed albums like 1999’s Destiny Road and 2001’s Time Traders. Green’s playing has influenced a generation of guitarists, talents as diverse as Gary Moore, Aerosmith’s Joe Perry, and Wishbone Ash’s Andy Powell citing Green as an inspiration. Green’s songs have been recorded by artists like Status Quo, Judas Priest, the Black Crowes, and Santana, among others, and Moore even recorded an entire album of Green songs, Blues For Greeny.

In 2009, Green was the subject of the BBC Four documentary film Peter Green: Man of the World, which was produced by Henry Hadaway. On November 18th, 2016 MVD Entertainment Group will release this film on DVD as Man of the World: The Peter Green Story. The film covers Green’s early success, his drug use and spiral into schizophrenia, and his artistic recovery and return to the recording studio and live performing. Featuring rare archive video of live and studio performances as well as still photos, Man of the World includes in-depth interviews with Green and bandmates McVie, Fleetwood, and guitarist Jeremy Spencer; producer Mike Vernon (who worked with the band on their early albums); Green’s official biographer Martin Celmins; and admirers like John Mayall, Carlos Santana, and Noel Gallagher of Oasis.

An amazing talent who has yet to earn his due, Man of the World presents an in-depth look into the life and career of the incredible Peter Green.

Buy the DVD from Man of the World: The Peter Green Story

Friday, November 4, 2016

Get “Real Gone” with Paul Butterfield & Timothy Leary This Black Friday!

Paul Butterfield Blues Band's Got A Mind To Give Up Living – Live 1966
Record Store Day’s November “Black Friday” event is rapidly becoming as big a deal as the original “Record Store Day” held every April. While there is a diverse selection of vinyl goodies available for purchase at your local indie retailer on Friday, November 25th, 2016 why not consider one of these daring releases from our friends at Real Gone Music?

The Paul Butterfield Blues Band’s sophomore effort East-West is now considered a classic blues-rock album, one upon which a lot of other musicians have built their own sound and careers. At the time of its release, though, East-West was a daring, adventuresome collection that grabbed the improvisational aspects of jazz and retro-fitted the concept to a Chicago blues framework. Featuring the raging harp play of frontman Butterfield, the band also boasted of two world class fretburners in guitarists Michael Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop, whose intertwined instruments broke through the barriers of blues tradition to soar into free-form jams with modal instrumental passages that were unlike anything previously heard in blues or rock ‘n’ roll.

Earlier this year, Real Gone released Got A Mind To Give Up Living – Live 1966, the first legit release of a legendary bootleg that captured the Paul Butterfield Blues Band in its full glory on the stage of Boston’s Unicorn Coffee House some 50 years ago, just prior to the release of East-West. The Reverend reviewed this live set back in July, and now Real Gone is making this longtime tape-traders’ favorite available for the very first time on vinyl.

This special “Black Friday” vinyl release adds four previously-unreleased songs that weren’t included on the CD, including red-hot covers of Percy Mayfield’s “Danger Zone” and the classic “In The Midnight Hour,” featuring the band’s bassist Jerome Arnold on vocals. With liner notes by Chris Morris that include new quotes from Bishop and keyboardist Mark Naftalin, as well as rare photos and re-mastered sound courtesy of Mike Milchner at SonicVision, Got A Mind To Give Up Living – Live 1966 will be released on “Butter” yellow and “Bloom” blue vinyl in a limited edition of 2,000 copies in a gatefold package.

Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner, and Richard Alpert's The Psychedelic Experience
The other notable “Black Friday” release from Real Gone Music is the return of the notorious The Psychedelic Experience LP to vinyl. In the mid-1960s, authors and psychedelic experimenters Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner, and Richard Alpert (a/k/a “Ram Dass”) wrote The Psychedelic Experience, a groundbreaking 1964 book based on The Tibetan Book of the Dead that addressed themes of death and rebirth in the context of the use of hallucinogenic drugs like LSD, psilocybin, and peyote. The three authors recorded an audio version of the book which was released by Broadside Records in 1966, the album proving to be a major influence on John Lennon of the Beatles, among many other musicians.

For the 50th anniversary of the original album’s release (it was reissued on CD in 2003 but has long been out-of-print), Real Gone is reissuing The Psychedelic Experience as a “Black Friday” exclusive as a limited edition of 1,700 copies on psychedelic magenta ‘splatter’ vinyl in a package that features the original album’s four-page insert and vintage album graphics. Look for both of these vinyl albums at your favorite vinyl sales location; check out the Real Gone Music website for more info.

Todd Rundgren’s Utopia Live at the Old Waldorf LP

Todd Rundgren’s Utopia Live at the Old Waldorf
Few artists in rock ‘n’ roll have displayed the influence of a restless muse more than musical chameleon Todd Rundgren. The talented singer, songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist has dabbled with a lot of different sounds through his lengthy career, but few have been as influential and enduring as his pioneering prog-rock band Utopia. Formed in 1973 as Todd Rundgren’s Utopia (so named so as to take advantage of the frontman’s modest fame), within a couple of years the band had shed the Rundgren label and gelled around a line-up of Rundgren on guitar and vocals, bassist Kasim Sulton, keyboardist Roger Powell, and drummer Willie Wilcox. Utopia had also evolved into a true band effort, with all four members writing material, singing on the albums, and sharing production and engineering duties.

Utopia released two influential and critically-acclaimed albums in 1977 in Ra and Oops! Wrong Planet, the former being more prog-oriented, the latter evincing more of a pop sound. Touring constantly, Rundgren and Utopia performed in San Francisco on August 5th, 1978 at The Old Waldorf, a show that was captured on tape for posterity. Appearing on CD in England late last year as the first official release for the concert (which shouldn’t be confused with the KSAN-FM radio broadcast from 1979 at the same venue), Utopia's Live at the Old Waldorf presents an inspired mix of Todd’s solo work (“Black and White,” “Hello, It’s Me,” “It Wouldn’t Have Made Any Difference”) and Utopia material such as “Trapped,” and “Abandon City.”

There has been a slate of semi-legit and authorized Rundgren and Utopia live discs released in the last couple of years, but few of these titles have appeared on vinyl. On December 2nd, 2016 the good people at Real Gone Music will release Utopia’s Live at the Old Waldorf as a limited edition double-LP set on glorious gold vinyl in a gatefold sleeve in a run of 1,000 copies. Featuring sixteen smokin’ performances spanning four sides, you can order your vinyl copy of Live at the Old Waldorf from or directly from the Real Gone Music website.

Santana’s “Lost” LP Lotus Gets Audio Fidelity Release

Santana's Lotus
Don’t know how this one slipped passed me, but it did – evidently the pioneering classic rock band Santana released a very cool triple vinyl live set titled Lotus in 1974. Recorded at the Osaka Koseinenkin Hall in Osaka, Japan in 1973, the album was available exclusively in Japan until it was finally released on CD stateside in 1991 to little notice, and it’s languished in relative obscurity ever since, overshadowed by similar period studio albums like Caravanserai, Borboletta, and Welcome.

On November 25th, 2016 Santana’s Lotus will get the full Audio Fidelity treatment when it’s released by the noted audiophile label as a two-disc limited edition hybrid SACD. Touring in support of the band’s fifth album, Welcome, which itself featured the “New Santana Band” of guitarist Carlos Santana, bassist Doug Rauch, drummer Michael Shrieve, keyboardists Tom Coster and Richard Kermode, and percussionists Armando Peraza and Chepito Areas, Lotus documented the new line-up’s move towards a jazz-rock fusion sound that was influenced by artists like John Coltrane and John McLaughlin as well as Carlos’s then-new spiritual influences.

Featuring sparkling SACD sound, Lotus features performances of some of the band’s big hits like “Black Magic Woman” and “Oy Como Va” alongside extended instrumentals like “Incident at Neshabur” and “Toussaint L’Overture” that displayed the band’s immense virtuoso musical talents. Check out the complete Lotus track list below and then get over to to order your copy of this overlooked but otherwise excellent album.

Santana’s Lotus track list:

Disc One
Going Home
A-1 Funk
Every Step of the Way
Black Magic Woman
Gypsy Queen
Oye Como Va
Yours Is the Light
Xibaba (She-Ba-Ba)
Stone Flower (Introduction)
Castillos de Arena Part 1 (Sand Castle)
Free Angela
Samba de Sausalito

Disc Two
Kyoto (Drum Solo)
Castillos de Arena Part 2 (Sand Castle)
Incident at Neshabur
Se a Cabo
Samba Pa Ti
Mr. Udo
Toussaint L'Overture