Monday 31 July 2023

John Stubblefield in a bunch of LPs


From discogs:

American jazz saxophonist, flautist, and oboist.

Born: 4 February 1945 in Little Rock, Arkansas, USA.

Died: 4 July 2005 in The Bronx, New York City, New York, USA (aged 60).


After moving to New York, Stubblefield played with the Mingus Big Band for 13 years. During his career, Stubblefield played with the World Saxophone Quartet (1986–1988), Reggie Workman (1989–1993), McCoy Tyner (1984), Freddie Hubbard (1985), and George Russell (1985). Stubblefield also served for a time as a jazz ensemble director at the Mason Gross School of the Arts, following the departure of Paul Jeffrey in 1983.

For us the main LPs to discuss are Prelude (1977), Midnight Over Memphis (1979), and Midnight Sun (1980).  The music is basic modal contemporary jazz with not too much fusionist expression.

From the first album his Little Prince is not quite as compelling as that of hugely popular and constantly re-requested David Rose in Distance Between Dreams, but it's still beautifully haunting, as indeed it should by rights be:

Title track of 1980's Midnight Sun:

Friday 28 July 2023

R. Montrose's first solo albums


Montrose played in the Edgar Winter Group which I posted briefly back here, and boy did I love those guys, the classic warm hard rock sound with all its nuttiness and high-voltage energy.

He also played in a band ST called Montrose which I found relatively unimpressive and ordinary as hard rock, pop rock (they actually released 6 LPs in total back then!). 

Then I thought about whether he had done solo works, like Jeff Beck did, that could be impressive, and it turns out he did.  Discography here.

My Little Mystery, from 1978's Open Fire which is not quite as good as Beck, but still quite impressive in its wide ranging sounds and moods and progressive creativity:

This track recalls some of the classic progressive composed pieces such as James Vincent and my old fave Don Moch did so perfectly well, cf. Mock's Etude piece which I've listened to hundreds of times since when I first discovered it.

Title track of Territory from 1986 shows some really nice creative ideas reminiscent, again, of the prog classics of the 70s:

Wednesday 26 July 2023

Kokomo in 2 albums from 1975

I guess that following Arrival, just posted heretofore, the songwriter I was so impressed with (that being Frank Collins) moved on to this more commercial soul sound in 1975 (much like Matthew Ellis did). From discogs:

Formed in 1973, this blue-eyed soul band was made up from the remnants of several British groups.

Vocalists Dyan Birch, Paddie McHugh and Frank Collins were ex members of Arrival, a superior pop harmony band, while Neil Hubbard (guitar) and Alan Spenner (bass) had previously worked with Joe Cocker's Grease Band.

For sure 'blue-eyed soul' is what they are singing and playing here. Nonetheless (or rather thanks to this for certain people of course) the music is quite good in places, from the first album, Forever:

From the second album, which is more pop and dance-oriented, the surprisingly well done Happy Birthday:

Monday 24 July 2023

UK band Arrival in 2 albums, 1970 and 1972


On discogs:

A London-based close-harmony pop-rock band featuring singers originally from Liverpool. Following its appearance on Maynard Ferguson's 1970 UK television special and two chart hits, "Friends" and "I Will Survive", the band was booked to appear at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970.

Members: Dyan Birch, Frank Collins, Lloyd Courtenay, Paddie McHugh, Tony O'Malley

As usual in these situations it's difficult to find the information in the database for compositional credits, etc.  I find it also a little annoying, though it's OK overall, that both albums were ST. 

Overall the music is all vocal with as mentioned wonderful harmony vocals in four part chords, nicely done, with the tracks some of which are cover versions (Light my Fire?? Really?) but the original ones are really beautiful and grew on me over the last few weeks.  They sound a little like a mix of Carly Simon and Laura Nyro in terms of the gospel and piano-based influences.

From the 1970 first, Sit down and Float starts with an A minor bluesy riff and melody similar to Carole King's It's Too Late, but moves surprisingly for the chorus into A major with well developed harmony vocals supplemented by oboe patterns in the background, a transition that caught my attention due to its oddness though quite pleasant to hear:

The second album which was released 2 years later is definitely superior.  Of course, bear in mind that I'm referring here to inventive creativity and oddness, progressivity, so if you like simple songs, you'd for sure prefer the first one.  They really try hard to craft original music on this one, with at least half the album containing quite surprising ideas.  Consider So it is written, with its lovely string intro and the gospel sound to it:

Listening carefully to the lyrics, it seems to be a born-again Christian theme.  The buildup to the final verse is just beautifully done, as well as the 'solo' instrumental passage in the middle with string quartet performing over the basic chords.

I was curious to know what are the songwriting credits but it's hard to locate as mentioned earlier. Luckily on the compilation called "All the Songs" everything is nicely indicated, here.  There are also bonus tracks on there, though these are for the most part (as usual) disappointing.  (Well I shouldn't say as usual, the Batdorf Rodney bonuses were amazing.)  I see both samples above were written by one Frank Collins, who was also in the later band Kokomo.    (Note that the other complete cd, called Friends, has an additional BBC session on it. I suggest you purchase that one...)

I can't resist sampling another of Frank Collins' wonderful compositions, Weary Sad:

At times this second album sounds very much like that other beautifully gentle ssw masterpiece, The Street and The Sea which after so many years seems never to be reissued (see here)... or perhaps my old perennial favourite, Melisma.

Credit to him for the beauty of this music...
Geniuses abound...

Saturday 22 July 2023

Little known SSW Chi Coltrane, in albums from 1972 to 1981

Another incredibly beautiful woman, obviously. Again surprising we have never encountered her before, along the same lines as Brit Lesley Duncan who everyone seems to have loved but less emotional, more similar to the recent Sarah Kernochan.  She made 4 albums back in the period in question:

American singer/songwriter, born in Racine, Wisconsin, USA on the 16th of November 1948. Raised in a musical family she begin to study playing piano. After a few years of touring little clubs, she had her first US hit "Thunder And Lightning" in 1972. It hit the charts in the US, but didn't do much in Europe. Her second single "Go Like Elijah" was her major breakthrough in Europe (the single didn't sell very well in her homeland). After a few more hits, she decided to live in Europe, where she had a loyal group of fans, mostly in Germany and Switzerland. She got out of the picture due to a fatigue sickness. She made her comeback in 2009, by releasing another 'Greatest Hits' album and started touring again. She's working on new material too.

From the first album, The Wheel of Life:

The great closer to the 1977 album is called The Road to Tomorrow

I really love this song.  Of course, it recalls countless other big late 70s smash hits from the pop music of the times in the chord progression, the dramatic buildup, the sentiments being expressed, the naivete especially so typical of those pre-climate change, pre-political polarization days, but it's still just beautiful.

Thursday 20 July 2023

Torsten Hartmann's Those Days, from Germany 1980

There are songs here wherein he is eerily imitating Nick Drake, sometimes even quoting from his songs, "when I was young, etc," (Place to Be) was changed to "when I was a leaf".  Unfortunately he did not exploit the amazing original tunings that Nick did, with the open string sound giving everything those rich harmonic /overtone textures, that made his songs so unforgettable. I think he does use some unconventional tunings here and there though. Other than the Nick Drake songs there are relatively ordinary ssw tracks to fill it out. Fans of Nick might find this interesting and at any rate, quite rare, and so far as I know never ripped to digital before.  Information can be found here.

Dreams of Sandy:

Tuesday 18 July 2023

Back to Matthew Ellis with Obie Clayton, 1975 [lossless limited time only]

Information back here.  Obviously, I just posted the missing 1971 Am I? album which to be honest I've really grown to love.

But what a change in appearance we have here, in the space of only 4 years, from the folky hippie to the glam rocker at the piano in the long royal bathrobe a la Chopin or Liszt! And indeed concomitantly, in keeping with appearances as is usual in pop, the music has moved on from the somewhat Beatles-derived acoustic material to more produced, commercialized songs, a little more pop radio in format, not necessarily better despite the change.

From this album I hope everyone will agree the song Bad For You is by far the best track I think, with its astounding harmony vocals from Matthew, and it's irresistible hook:

Even the arrangement is done perfectly, with the intro electric piano plus acoustic and judiciously added guitar chords in the background, then the added string sostenuto in later playings of the same pattern...  what a song!

Should've been a hit back in the day as I always say... 

Sunday 16 July 2023

Elijah, 1970 and 1973, requested

Some basic hard bluesy rock with Southern influences. Scant info here.

Really lover this sample track from the 1973 Fanfares, Get your run out:

Saturday 15 July 2023

Back to Mat Marucci in Festival, 1982

Posted stuff from him earlier, here, Lifeline (which I really loved in the end), and Who Doo Voo Doo.
Similar music, basically contemporary jazz with less of the fusion.

A track called Fractured has some interesting riffs:

Thursday 13 July 2023

Back to Matthew Ellis (Michael Cox) with the missing album from 1971, Am I?


Thanks to the commenter who requested this, it was well worth the purchase... and so far as I know, never available to this day on that wonderful digital format we love so much.

As everyone remembers the first album, poorly ripped, was posted not long ago here. Amazingly from the same year he came out with another set of ten songs, occasionally sounding a little like Elton John, but finely crafted altogether.  Note that the 1972 ST album has tracks from both of these albums mixed up.

On this one, note the appearances by Tony Campo (remember him?) on bass, discogged here, Lesley Duncan backup vocals.

I think the best track is the stunning Song of Sorrow which sounds, at times, like Elton John as I said, especially with the only vocals plus grand piano setup, but I find the interesting chord changes and the way the melody moves through them really entrancing, in the end:

Still to come is the 1975 release under the alternate moniker Obie Clayton (his real name was Michael Cox). I reripped this one after purchasing the vinyl, because a terrible rip was circulating heretofore.

Tuesday 11 July 2023

Sounds Nice - Love at First Sight, 1970 Easy Listening / Instr. [by request]

What a wonderful cover photo.

Info here. The usual easy listening cover versions of simplistic songs everyone is sick of hearing (e.g. "I heard it through the grapevine") then the occasional wonderful composition that stands out as miraculously original, like the closer caller Summer's End (by Paul Buckmaster):

Be aware this is the most complex piece on this LP and there is nothing quite like it on here otherwise. But still for this track alone, worth the price of admission (which of course was  $ 0 anyways).

Note that Zappa's King Kong appears here orchestrated very nicely.

In terms of information, this was an instrumental session group, one off, with organist Tim Mycroft and arranger Paul Buckmaster.  The latter is the genius who wrote the music for Chitinous Ensemble and who appeared in Sphincter, playing cello in the Third Ear Band. When you look at his arranging credits it's quite shocking how many well known hits he contributed to.

Sunday 9 July 2023

US band Hush, by request

Well they sure look like a hard rock / aor band don't they?  

Definitely perfect on the appearances front.

Information here, discogged.  You requested the first 1978 album but it's incomp. I noticed, lacking the first track-- anyone have a completion here for us? The 1982 album is sl. inferior and the other album is a compilation or perhaps different versions of tracks that appear on the 1982, plus a bonus unreleased or 2.

I love this style, really brings me back to the old days.  In the end I quite enjoyed Head East too (posted earlier).  Not progressive but definitely hard.

There's so much similar that was made back in the day in the 70s.

Journey, from the first:

Saturday 8 July 2023

Paul Anka's The Painter from 1976


Cover painting by Andy Warhol-- wait, what? as my kids would say... but of course...

Information here
Paul Anka probably is remembered by everyone who existed in the 1970s. He made some massive pop hits at the time mostly in the 60s that are kind of forgettable in today's 'more advanced' world. I think his perma-tanned ever-grinning face was also immensely popular among the female population. I was remembering the one song called Times of Your Life because of the Roger Nichols I posted back here, where it was rewritten as a tribute to the city of Santa Monica, and reading about the whole story of that track, on wiki of course, which was initially an ad for Kodak film. Then I thought about taking a look at Paul Anka's discography to see if there was anything that seemed interesting, and this came up. It is indeed surprising because it contains some advanced songwriting, for example, the instrumental Aldous, which was written by him (I think):

An equally progressively written, highly creative song called I'll Help You: