Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Charlie Mariano with the Chris Hinze Organization - s/t. 1973 USA/Netherlands



Charlie Mariano with the Chris Hinze Organization - s/t. 1973 Freedom/Intercord  (Germany)

LP reissues: 1974 Freedom/Trio (Japan); 1976 Freedom (Germany)

CD reissue: 1995 Black Lion (Germany) as Blue Stone

Straight up jazz session with American WWII veteran saxophonist Mariano joining forces with the Chris Hinze Combination from the Netherlands. This CD is a reissue of Charlie Mariano With The Chris Hinze Combination with the 18+ minute "bonus" title track improvisation thrown in the middle. Mariano himself was just taking baby steps into the European underground (see Osmosis for some American subversiveness) with jazz flutist Hinze's outfit. He was later to embark into an enlightening journey with Krautrock legends Embryo, and participate on some of their finest works shortly thereafter. 'Traditional South Indian (Carnatic) Kirtanam' is exactly the type of music he performed later with the underground Embryo. A real Hepcat, man.

For a long time I didn't realize my CD of Blue Stone was the same album as this, and I couldn't understand why I never could find it on the online discographies. I ended up adding it myself to Discogs very recently, and have suggested to RYM to link them together. Freedom is the primary and original label, and is owned by Black Lion.

Merkin - Music from the Merkin Manor. 1973 USA


Merkin - Music from the Merkin Manor. 1973 Windi

CD reissue: 1997 Gear Fab

LP reissues: 1999 Akarma (Italy); 2013 Out-Sider (Spain)

Where to even start? Merkin are... weird. Not-on-purpose-weird either. They're from Orem, Utah for starters - right in the heart of Mormon country. Their album was released in 1973, which is a good 5 years past its sell date. This kind of flower pop psych was long out of fashion and I have a feeling the band would have no idea that was the case. Merkin sound like the Free Design if they were a real psych band with a killer fuzz-tone guitar right out of the Haight-Ashbury 60s scene. Make no mistake, Merkin are a bunch of squares like Free Design, which is where the allure lies actually. For years I questioned the quality of this album, and thought it might be part of the collector hype machine. Perhaps it still is, as the compositions here are wildly uneven. But when they hit the zone, it's downright divine. 'Ruby' is an all-time classic, one of my faves of the 60s (oh wait...). 'Todaze' and 'Watching You' are also awesome, mixing it up where you least expect it. They have this whimsical sunshine pop charm about them - mixed with an angry psych tone, that projects their inner conflict no doubt. The Osmonds they are not.

Monster album? No. But one that is so incredibly alluring. One of those Gnosis 10 / 3.5 star albums that is better than the grade implies.

The heavy cardboard single sleeve LP reissue from Akarma is taken directly from the Gear Fab CD, and is credited/licensed as such. So this is definitely one of their legit reissues. Unfortunately the CD itself was taken from vinyl rather than the master tapes (likely lost). And there is no additional history provided. On the plus side, the 3 bonus tracks from the CD are maintained, and the first 2 are very good.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Spaces - Border Station. 1981 USA


Spaces - Border Station. 1981 Red Giant

No reissues!

If you saw this cover in a store, you'd swear it was a typical late 1970s disco album - or perhaps even a slick fusion album. But Spaces are neither (though the opening track may have you thinking it might be). Yea it's fusion, sure. And, yes, there is a funk component. But primarily this is one hard hitting jazz rock album in the mid 1970s style, with plenty of fiery guitar, rumbling rhythms, and period keyboards (Rhodes, Mini-Moog, Clavinet, etc...). Well worth obtaining. Spaces appear to be from Provo, Utah - and the album was released in Salt Lake City.

Gift - Blue Apple. 1974 Germany


Gift - Blue Apple. 1974 Nova

CD reissues: 1994 OHB (as A German Legend w/ the first album) (Switzerland); 1998 Telefunken

LP reissue: 2016 Long Hair

Gift is a good example of why I'm somewhat reticent of the all-encompassing Krautrock tag. It means many things to many people. I first heard this album via the bootleg Germanofon CD near on 20 years ago, and didn't think much of the music at all. Well it certainly wasn't the Krautrock I was looking for! And I hardly was a kid back then - what? 31-32 maybe? I recently obtained the Telefunken (EastWest) CD and now I hear the album for what it is: Organ driven German hard rock, another genre I'm quite fond of. What you'll find here is a mix of Night Sun, Gomorrha, Epitaph, Birth Control, Dies Irae, and Fly to The Rainbow era Scorpions (listen to the two part 'Reflections' for the latter reference). The album starts off rather straightforward, though the title track features an abundance of flute-tape mellotron, not exactly a staple of the hard rock medium. Starting with 'Don't Waste Your Time', things become obviously more progressive... and more interesting for this listener anyway. There's even some heavy Italian prog references towards the end, especially the closer. Yea, I blew the call on this one. No doubt my rating on the debut is off too, but that's for another day...

The Telefunken CD has a nice sound with a small history of the band and lyrics. Surprisingly there have been no legitimate LP reissues to date, especially considering the scarcity of the original. There are, however, a lot of pirate editions floating about. 

Oct 2016 update: Long Hair must have been following our blog, as they now have announced a legit reissue of this album on LP!

Last update: October 23, 2016

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Crysys - Hard as Rock. 1981 USA



Crysys - Hard as Rock. 1981 Long St. Records

LP reissue: 1983 Metalworks/Jem

CD reissue: none

Crysys were a band from Portland, Oregon who released this one fine hard rock / metal album and then disappeared without a trace. Though released in 1981, they were clearly following along the same path as others of that American late 70s restless breed like Riot, Granmax, The Rods, Bad Axe, and Alkana. Judas Priest were certainly an influence, perhaps even early Van Halen. There's some sophistication in the arrangements, and all the tracks rock hard with plenty of metal riffing, and remain interesting throughout the length. It's from the era where the blues still played a major role in everything hard rock, and there's traces of that here within the songcraft. The psychedelic cover and hair metal styled moniker doesn't do the band any favors with an expected audience that never appeared, despite two LP pressings and covers. For late hard rock / early metal fans, this is an historical gem not to be missed. Excellent.

This album is a new discovery for me, when I stumbled upon the Metalworks LP for cheap in Dec, 2015 (which I sold in our Purple Peak Records sale this spring). Of course, I soon found out that was a second pressing, and seeing that the original wasn't that much more expensive, I had to secure one, which I've now done. There is no legit CD as I write this, though a pirate does exist. So straight to the CDRWL it went!

The original is on Long St. Records and features the cool psychedelic cover as mentioned in my notes above (1st scan). The Metalworks issue (1983) usurped a photo from the back cover of the original and blew it up for their front cover (3rd scan). I can understand that, given the audience it was trying to lure in. Though perhaps a fantasy warrior cover may have been more appropriate.

As an aside, Metalworks was a sublabel of importer/label Jem Records, who were clearly trying to tap into the burgeoning heavy metal market. As far as I can tell, this is the only full length album to be released, before abandoning the project. They certainly had the right idea, and one has to look at their execution as an example of poor business judgement. Time has proved they made a costly mistake, and Jem ultimately ended up bankrupt in 1988 (for various reasons).

Manfred Hubler / Siegfried Schwab - Vampiros Lesbos: Sexadelic Dance Party. 1970 Germany


Manfred Hubler / Siegfried Schwab - Vampiros Lesbos: Sexadelic Dance Party. 1970. Archival

CD issues: 1995 Crippled Dick Hot Wax!; 1996 Motel (USA); 2006 Crippled Dick Hot Wax!

LP issues: 1995 Crippled Dick Hot Wax!;  2006 Crippled Dick Hot Wax! (2 LP)

Can you believe I found this in a garage sale right here in DFW near one of the local suburbs where we reside? From a middle aged lady about my age. Sitting right next to Willie Nelson too. You never know what you'll find in people's closets....

Vampiros Lesbos is pretty much what you would expect from an album such as this: Psychedelic tinged jazz rock instrumentals. Nothing cutting edge, but good rhythms and wonderful early 70s analog tones. Schwab would go on to Embryo not long after, giving him future street cred. A fun set of music, and a good way to shock your neighbors next time you have them over for a glass of wine and cheese (literally and figuratively I suppose).

I did see the movie once, didn't even get through it. Pretty dull stuff, though I'm sure it was much more exciting in 1970.

The copy I found is the Motel CD. Comes with fine liner notes including from Jess Franco himself. Nice sound too. Very much recommended. The 2006 CD adds 3 tracks, and the LP adds 5 from the original release (making it a 2 LP set).

Syrius - Most,Mult, Lesz. 1970-1972 Hungary

Syrius - Most,Mult, Lesz. 1970-1972. Archival

CD issue: 1994 Gong

As you can see, I did decide to move this CD out recently (can't keep them all!). But I thought the post would be informative for those who have an interest in the band and title.

This CD is a nice archival release of Hungarian jazz rock / proto-prog from the early 70s.

Tracks 1 to 5 are from their historic (I imagine it to be anyway) journey to Australia in 1971, where their first album was recorded as well. Jackie Orszaczky would later immigrate there and release another fine album (actually better). These songs are mostly covers save 'Who is the Clown', but all the same are excellent jazz rock renditions of familiar tunes. And easily represent the best material and production here.

Track 6 is a sprawling 35 minute jazz rock suite recorded in 1970 in Budapest, and is completely unrelated to the album of the same name released in 1976. While the composition is fairly solid, the length is not justified, the performance lacks fire, and the recording is of decent bootleg quality.

The final title track was recorded in 1972 in Budapest, and once again is a fine composition, though lacking any notable qualities.

Definitely a worthy endeavor, though not an easy recommendation, despite the enormous challenges the band must have endured back then.

The CD on the Gong label features liner notes (in Hungarian), and the details of the recordings (which I supplied above).

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Tasavallan Presidentti - Pop Liisa 01. 1973 Finland

Tasavallan Presidentti - Pop Liisa 01. 1973. Archival

CD issue: 2016 Svart w/Jukka Hauru & Superkings

LP issue: 2016 Svart

Tasavallan Presidentti are one of the "big 2" when talking Finnish progressive rock in the early 70s, at least from a commercially successful standpoint in their own native land. Like Wigwam, the band are known as diverse - but uniformly excellent - songwriters. Unlike Wigwam, they acted more as a cohesive unit when composing, and thus their albums were more consistent on the whole. But in Finland itsellf, Tasavallan Presidentti were most known for their live concerts, which were driven strongly by an improvisational desire. Lead by superstar guitarist Jukka Tolonen, the band moved in and out of lengthy jams with ease. Up until now, there hasn't been any aural evidence of this side of the band. Once again, these fantastic archival finds from Svart have opened up a new window for all of us to peek inside. For this session, recorded September 12th, 1973, Tasavallan Presidentti offer up two lengthy jams. The first 'Lennosta Kii', clocking in at 19+ minutes, is not easily recognizable. It's actually a composition from equally legendary jazz man Eero Koivistoinen, taken from his rare debut LP recorded in 1968. For those who have their doctoral studies in Tasavallan Presidentti's music, you then will recognize this main melody as 'Caught from the Air' from Milky Way Moses, though with Finnish vocals and significantly rearranged. As far as jams go, 'Lennosta Kii' is more than satisfactory, though perhaps not exceptional. The second and last jam is 'Dance' (14:28), taken from Lambertland, and extended considerably here. This performance is much more engaging, and there's a point past the half way mark where the band is firing on all cylinders and they catch a trance induced groove that is highly infectious. This takes the album one more notch on the rating scale. Overall the session seems like a completely new album, and not simply live readouts of previously recorded material. An absolute can't  miss purchase if you at all have any interest in 70s Finnish progressive rock.

I have yet to hear the second session on the CD from Jukka Hauru, though a quick scan through the notes promises great rewards. Given that I already enjoy his two studio LPs, I'm buying the premise. Probably will have something to share next week on it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

St. Albert's Dream (various artists). 1969-1972 USA

St. Albert's Dream (various artists). Archival

LP issue: 2013 Lysergic Sound Distributors

This is a fantastic compilation of obscure 45's, and unreleased archival material. No duff tracks, everything in the pocket as it were. This to me anyway, is the perfect type of compilation. All non album tracks, superb music, and all very hard to find. Unfortunately like the Devil's Kitchen on the same label, no historical data was provided, which would have enhanced the overall product that much more. Of course, I'm grateful for the music period, so we'll just have to do the rest on our own.

As Tymeshifter indicates, this comp is of the "heavy psych" variety, which is a personal favorite genre of mine as well. Special thanks goes to local Fort Worth associate John Perez (Brainticket label, Solitude Aeturnus, Liquid Sound Company) for turning me onto this record.

Greylock Mansion were from Tucson, Arizona (home base of the LSD label) and released two 45s in 1970 on Dynamic Records. This track is one of the highlights of the compilation.

Butter (not Butler as designated here) - no idea? Says unreleased master tape from Roger Jones (1972).

Jerimiah are reputed to be related to Brother L Congregation, and were from Victoria, Texas (southwest of Houston, and southeast of San Antonio, near the Gulf Coast). This track came out on the Kumquat label as a 45 single (1969).

Weasel comes from a 45 on Westpark Records, a division of Soundville out of Houston, Texas. So we'll presume they were from there (1969).

Wheatridge - no idea again. Says "uncredited acetate" (1970).

Oracle were another band from Tucson, though I can find no evidence of where this track comes from (1972).

Brand X (hmm sounds familiar... but no) were from Indianapolis and released this track on a 45 on Steel Breeze Records (1970). This is another highlight of the comp.

Mechanical Switch were from the small south Texas town of El Campo between Victoria and Houston. This track is on a 45 on Bag One Way Records (Feb 1969 according to one source).

Murphy's Law - can't find anything on this one either. The track is a Uriah Heep cover from their 1971 Look at Yourself album (and sounds a lot like a demo version of Uriah Heep actually with trumpet added). Date listed is 1972.

Sleepy Hollow were from Phoenix, Arizona and released this track on a 45 from ECI Records (1969).

Frozen Sun were yet another band from Tucson. This track was on a 45 from the Capt. Zoomar label (1969).

Streetdancer - Rising. 1977 USA

 
 
Streetdancer - Rising. 1977 Dharma

No reissues!

This has been a long time feature over at the CDRWL. Moving here to UMR now with freshly penned notes. And the first two photos represent some of the sealed LP copies we are currently selling over on Discogs and on Purple Peak Records!

From the Chicago area, Streetdancer are one of the more energetic of the jazz fusion bands to come from the USA. Their debut borders on free jazz, is entirely dominated by saxophone, and is a difficult listen. However on this, their sophomore effort, the music is completely different. Adding a guitarist and a violinist, Streetdancer jumped in with both feet in crafting their version of the early Mahavishnu Orchestra sound. And it smokes pretty much from the beginning to the end. This is the kind of rough-hewn fusion I personally love with distorted guitar, soaring violin, and an active rhythm section. It gets a little loose in places, not surprising given their free jazz background, but for the most part it's a tight, kinetic barnburner. No fusion head should be without it.

Nektar - Magic is a Child. 1977 England

Nektar - Magic is a Child. 1977 Bacillus (Germany); Polydor (USA; Canada)

CD reissues:  1990 Bacillus/Bellaphon (Germany); 2005 Dream Nubula/Eclectic;  2006 WHD (Japan mini-LP); 2014 Cleopatra/Purple Pyramid (USA 2 CD)

LP reissue: 2014 Cleopatra/Purple Pyramid (USA)

Well, believe it or not, I'd never heard this record until now. And probably never would have, were it not a throw-in to another LP deal I just purchased. Good thing. Had I heard this 30, or even 20 years ago, I would have dismissed it out of hand. But with my ears today (oh these ears, I tell ya...), I hear exactly what Nektar was going for... and honestly they did a great job at it!

And what they were going for was FM radio airplay. For whatever reason, the radio guys didn't feel there were any hits here. But I disagree, as 7 out of the 9 songs here could have easily caught on with the 1977 crowd. So yes, Nektar are a long way from their (recent) progressive rock past - and even further from their Krautrock roots. But this is still some fine sophisticated AOR, or what we used to call "pomp". A precursor to the neo-prog (later interpretation of said movement) sound honestly.

Good album if bands like Styx, later Starcastle, City Boy, and others of its ilk appeal to you.


I just noticed for the first time that the Cleopatra CD is a 2 CD set that includes a concert at Hofstra University in 1977. This would be different than the two Live in New York concerts since those were from 1974. Anyway, I haven't the slightest if it's worthy of pursuit or not, but it is interesting to me all the same. I picked up the Japanese mini a couple of weeks after getting the LP.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

TEE - Tales of Eternal Entities. 2016 Japan

TEE - Tales of Eternal Entities. 2016 Musea Parallele (France CD)

The fluidly named TEE this time stands for Tales of Eternal Entities, and this is the Japanese band's 3rd album. I had feared that TEE's involvement with French TV's latest album may have given the group a new found rigidity. Fortunately that is not the case, and TEE return with their distinctly mid to late 70s warm European progressive rock sound. Flute, guitar, and analog sounding synth lines dominate the melodies, while the rhythm section mixes things up often to keep the music from becoming static. As in the past, you'll hear traces of Asia Minor, Solaris, Gotic, and perhaps more pointedly than ever, the godfather of such a sound: Camel. TEE could also be seen as an instrumental parallel band to Spain's L'Herba d'Hameli. 'Epimetheus' is a brilliant opener, and it appeared this album may well in fact be their best work to date. 'Mother Earth' is another standout track. There is nothing less than what I would consider an "excellent" track here. I would offer that Tales of Eternal Entities is a hair off the pace from the prior Trans-European Expression, but all of their albums are outstanding and not to be missed. Borderline 4.5 stars here (Gnosis 11), but will stay conservative. One of the best albums from 2016 so far for my tastes.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Saga - s/t. 1974 Sweden


Saga - s/t. 1974 Sonet

CD reissue: none

LP reissue: 2013 Sonet/Universal

Saga are a guitar based rock band founded by ex-November members. Great fuzzed-out bluesy guitar ferociously played over jazz, hard rock, folk, and progressive styled tunes. Similar in sound to many of the 1970s Swedish groups, though this is quite a bit more expressive in places, taking it to a higher level. In fact, for the style, perhaps the highest level! How many bands from the modern era (especially from Scandinavia) have we heard trying to capture this very sound? Hear the real deal first, before sampling the imitators. The last two tracks are nothing short of phenomenal.

This title had been a long time feature over on my CD Reissue Wish List blog. Very strange this album has yet to find its way to CD (legit that is - plenty of pirates out there). The Mellotronen label is very friendly with the band, and the major labels in Sweden. The album did receive a legit LP reissue in 2013 for Record Store Day (and they should have just done the CD while they were at it). The bootleg CD I own (no label - Sonet nominally credited) sounds OK (not great I assure you), with no info, a backwards booklet, and the usual crap job you would expect. Fortunately I also own the original LP which stays with me to the end of time, but it sure would be nice to see a high quality CD reissue at some point as well.

Metamorfosis - Papallones i Elefants. 1982 Spain

Metamorfosis - Papallones i Elefants. 1982 Apolo

No reissues!

Despite the surreal cover art, Metamorfosis do not belong to the Spanish progressive rock revival of the late 1970s. Rather, this is a homage to Chick Corea's Return to Forever, or perhaps even fellow countrymen Iceberg. Minus the insane chops that is. No matter, as the melodic content is high, and the compositions are well written. Had this been a private American album from 1982, fusion enthusiasts would be hollering about it everywhere. And so, yes, recommended indeed.

Never been officially reissued on CD or LP but there are at least two pirate editions out there.

Top Drawer - Solid Oak. 1969 USA


Top Drawer - Solid Oak. 1969 Wish Bon

No reissues!

Top Drawer play a straightforward blues rock, but with strong psychedelic and hard rock underpinnings. The latter is best exemplified by the guitar leads which are stronger than most from this era, especially in the Midwest private press arena - in fact, it's a sound you're most likely to encounter in the region circa 1972 or later. So Top Drawer were definitely ahead of the pack in that regard. The organ is present only as dressing to the overall salad. The songwriting is quite good throughout, with only the 'Baker's Boogie' track being somewhat a waste of time, though I'm sure it was popular in the local clubs of the day. I can see from other reviews that folks are frothing about 'Song of a Sinner', but personally I hear it very much in league with the other tracks here, perhaps drawn out a bit more with its bluesy vibe, though arguably it's still the album's best composition  - along with the hard driving closer 'Lies'. Nothing on the album is extraordinary, but a very solid release throughout, and much better than I had anticipated. A little bit of an early Dragonwyck vibe here too (from nearby Cleveland), minus the obvious Morrison-isms.

Top Drawer were not from Kentucky as is widely cited in catalogs and on the internet, but rather from Mansfield in north central Ohio.

Looks to be an album that has escaped a quality CD or LP reissue. Oh, there are many reissues, but they are either dubious or outright pirate. Would be a good title for a psych / hard rock reissue specialist. I don't currently own a copy beyond a CD-R.

RYM erroneously has a listing for a Repertoire release, which would be legit, except best I can tell it's a reissue of this album: The Gods - To Samuel A Son

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Amoeba Split - Second Split. 2016 Spain

Amoeba Split - Second Split. 2016 Azafran (Mexico CD) (mini-LP)

Amoeba Split are a band from Galicia, in the far northwest of Spain, who play a decidedly UK form of progressive rock: That of the Canterbury movement. Second Split is appropriately enough the band's sophomore effort. It's been 6 years since their debut, and they're now missing one key component - the female voice of Maria Toro. And with that, the late Canterbury sounds of National Health have fled the scene. No matter, as the all instrumental Amoeba Split have stayed the course, and have arguably released an even better album, demonstrating their experience over style. Opener 'Clockwise' is a clear homage to Soft Machine's Third, at that perfect point in 1970 where psychedelic, progressive rock, and jazz meet. Further in the album, 'Backwards all the Time' is once again a tribute to Soft Machine, this time emulating their 1971 sound, and thus tilts more towards the jazz side of the equation. 'Those Fading Hours' blends Canterbury with David Cross like violin, that gives an odd King Crimson vibe, which is unique and very satisfying. 'About Life, Memories and Yesteryears' once again marries Canterbury sounds with something unusual - this time symphonic progressive rock. Perhaps even a trace of Genesis can be heard. But the best for me was 'Sundial Tick' where the band finally demonstrates a bit of their native heritage, though further east towards Catalonia. And hear they blend their trademark sound with that of the classic Gotic album, and is truly splendid. Overall, a fantastic second album, and hopefully we hear from the band more frequently than every 6 years.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Sintesis - s/t. 1976 Argentina

Sintesis - s/t. 1976 Profeta

CD reissue: 2016 BlueArt

Sintesis were an obscure instrumental band who released this one fine album back in 1976, and this is my first exposure to the work, perhaps unbelievably considering its greatness. Sintesis' music is at that exciting point between jazz rock and progressive. In particular the guitar playing is kinetic, and provides the jumpy leads over the irregular rhythms. At times, an edgy fuzz tone psychedelic guitar adds an incendiary element. Soft lines of flute and violin smooth the edges, and provide the beautiful melodic phrases. This is an album that seems to be on the precipice of jumping off to immortality, only to be reeled back by more traditional jazz rock offerings, often times lead by the saxophone. In particular 'Algunas Maneras De Expresarme' is sublime, as are the opening two tracks and the closer. The CD on BlueArt (see more below) adds an excellent bonus track. When looking at comparisons, one hears the early 70s Italian jazz rockers such as La Seconda Genesi or Duello Madre. Combine this with local stars such as Crucis, jazz rock era Arco Iris, and the equally obscure El Trio. A super find, when it seemed all others of its ilk had already been dug up and safely placed in museums.

The new CD on BlueArt (2016) is awesome, with excellent sound (appears to be from the masters), and full liner notes (in Spanish though), plus the aforementioned bonus track. BlueArt specializes mainly in jazz and Tango, so this is my first exposure to them, even though they've been around for over 15 years. The CD has yet to be entered into Discogs, which I may end up doing myself (and just did...). To the best of our knowledge, this is the first legitimate reissue. It appears the excellent PRW of Brazil had intended on reissuing it nearly 20 years ago, going so far as to apply a catalog number, but we (the collective we) cannot find evidence of it actually being released. If anyone can prove this to the contrary, I would be much obliged. 

Various artists - Enchantement. 1987 France

Various artists - Enchantement. 1987 Musea

CD reissue: 1989 Musea / Baillemont

Note that the CD reissue is much improved from the original LP here: Two are replacements of different material (Edhels, Boffo), and two are new (Anoxie, Halloween). The latter two total over 16 minutes, so not an insignificant addition. And the Halloween track is arguably the best thing on here. I used to own the LP, but traded it out for the CD not long after release, and considering the excellent Edhels LP track is a bonus on the Still Dream CD, that made the decision easy. The CD booklet is as informative as ever about each band participating.

Overall, this album is quite representative of the late 80s French progressive scene, which is not the same thing as saying it's superb. There's a certain New Wave charm to some of the tracks (Elohim, Pulsar, Ange), and there's the made-up-on-the-spot group Atmosphere, who nonetheless provide one of the album's highlights (just don't go looking for the mythical non-existent LP).

And from the original LP - Minimum Vital, Raison de Plus, and Sombre Reptile were among the highlights. Sadly the latter two never achieved the same level of expertise with their somewhat futile CD efforts later on. Minimum Vital, of course, have continued to be one of the bright lights of French progressive rock for almost 30 years now.

For me, it's all a bit of nostalgia, as I knew the guys from Musea, and was just starting my own extensive journey into the netherworld of obscure progressive rock way back in 1987.

The Tony Williams Lifetime - Ego. 1971 USA


The Tony Williams Lifetime - Ego. 1971 Polydor

CD reissues:  1999 Verve; 2005 Polydor/Strange Days (Japan mini-LP)

The negative opinions are pretty strong on this one. I can appreciate the expectation that one would have for such a talent as Tony Williams in the highly creative year of 1971. And this definitely doesn't come through as a landmark winner of the year. But is it an abject failure? No, not in my opinion anyway. There's 3 throwaway percussion songs, and they are all the shortest, so that helps. The remainder is a fine jazz rock effort, and it closes well with the final 3 compositions. Anything with Larry Young on organ is worth an ear, and he does a fine job here. Overall the tone is pretty loose and raw, which are pluses. Williams' vocals are not a highlight for sure, but we've all certainly heard worse.

Digi-pak CD on Verve is really quite excellent, and features a nice layout, fine liner notes, and great sound. The LP was released in multiple countries initially, so an LP reissue would seem superfluous, as originals are easy to find, though not necessarily cheap.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Duello Madre - s/t. 1973 Italy


Duello Madre - s/t. 1973 Produttori Associati

CD reissues: 1993 Mellow; 2008 Vinyl Magic/BTF

LP reissue: 2008 Vinyl Magic/BTF

Superbly executed jazz rock from this one-off Italian prog band, that featured a supergroup of sorts (Osage Tribe, Nuova Idea, Circus 2000). Musically could be compared to Embryo of the same era, with disjointed and hypnotic bass lines, jumpy electric guitar, wailing sax, and beautiful flute. It's not a solo-over-standard-beat-bass album as has been proposed, but rather a fully realized work, with intense jamming sections, melodic composition, coupled with atmospheric parts (including some fine Italian vocals on the first track). First half of the album combines jazz with Italian flavored progressive rock, whereas the flip side goes more for a deep jazz rock groove. Excellent representation of the genre circa 1973.

The Mellow CD is certainly nothing to write home about. Clearly taken from vinyl, and a whooshy, noisy one at that. Not sure about later reissues from BTF, but history suggests they won't be much better (though I need to hear it first to be sure). Originals are off the charts expensive, so I'm not likely to compare with that I'm afraid.

Stardrive - s/t. 1974 USA


Stardrive - s/t. 1974 Columbia

CD reissue: 2009 Wounded Bird

If only... if only Robert Mason was instead Robert (pronounced row bear) Massonne and he wrapped his neck in a wool scarf, wore octagonal glasses, and had a cigarette dangling from his lips... and he recorded on the Pole label... man, wouldn't he be the hipster's choice in these enlightened times? And, sacrebleu!, there's even a track called 'Pulsar'! Ah, but it wasn't meant to be for our downtrodden American protagonist. He is Robert Mason, a doppelganger for any male extra on Fargo, who released this buck bin LP special, only to be further driven to indignity by having it reissued on CD by Wounded Bird. No info, no enthusiasm, no nothing. But then again, there is hell to pay for naming a track 'Air Sauce', now isn't there?

There's a review in there somewhere. Remember the magazine Highlights at the dentist's office when you were a kid? It's kind of like that.

The Ceyleib People - Tanyet. 1967 USA



The Ceyleib People - Tanyet. 1967 Vault; 1967 Polydor (Germany)

CD reissue: 1991 Drop Out (UK)

From Los Angeles, The Ceyleib People released this one 23 minute album of instrumental psychedelic music with a heavy emphasis on looking eastwards toward India, which was quite the trendy thing to do in 1967. So if the idea of mixing sitar with the Chamberlin (precursor to the Mellotron) is an exciting concept for you, then The Ceyleib People will certainly satisfy. I quite like it myself, though it is a bit of musical wallpaper to be honest. Conditionally recommended. I'll probably hold onto to it for a few years more, though not likely to make it for the long haul.

The second scan is the German original, which appears to have had wide distribution in Europe. CD (on Dropout - only legit version) doubles the length by adding a mono mix, which certainly does sound better in this case. The stereo version is lacking... something.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Sod - s/t. 1971 USA


Sod - s/t. 1971 Decca

No reissues!

Coming from Las Vegas, Nevada, Sod are one of many horn rock albums from the late 60s and early 70s to have emerged onto the scene. There are some really great tracks on this one, especially 'Too Loose to Get Tight' parts 1 and 2, 'Things I Wanna Say', and 'Makin' It'. As is often the case with the genre, the random dabbling in blues and soul pop drag down the immense potential classic this could have been. Oh well... still one not to miss if coming across in a rummage sale.

You'll often see the name stylized as the acronym SOD, but best I can tell, especially considering the album cover, the band name is Sod - defined as "the surface of the ground, with the grass growing on it."

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Jeremy Steig - Fusion. 1970, 1972 USA




Jeremy Steig - Fusion. 1972 Groove Merchant; 1973 RCA (Germany) both 2 LP set

CD reissues: 1987 Denon (as Something Else) (Japan); 1989 Lester Recording Catalog (as Something Else); 2007 Groove Merchant/Unidisc (Canada)

Groove Merchant's US and German releases of Fusion are a double LP, with the first LP being a reissue of the Capitol Records 1970 album Energy, and the second LP containing Fusion (originally released in Japan as a single album).

Even though the second disc has tracks with 'Rock #' named titles, it's Energy that kicks the most booty. Steig, on both of these albums, is just possessed on the flute, wailing almost non-stop for the duration. And some really fine fuzzed electric Fender Rhodes can be heard as well from Jan Hammer. Really can’t go wrong here if you’re a flute rock/funk fan similar to other like minded artists such as Bjorn J:Son Lindh and Chris Hinze.


You really have to pay close attention to this title, because as mentioned above, Fusion can also be the single LP. And some of the CD reissues are of the single LP, not this double. The Something Else CD reissues are each missing two tracks: 'Energy' and 'Rock #10'. The LRC reissue is owned by Sonny Lester, who was also the founder of Groove Merchant. It appears the Unidisc version (4th scan) is complete.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Pi Corp – Lost in the Cosmic Void. 1973-76 USA

Pi Corp – Lost in the Cosmic Void. 1973-76. Archival

LP issues: 2001 Rockadelic; 2010 Almakarma (as Let Them Eat Pi (Musik Spontano Electrik)) (Italy)

CD issue: none

Archival recordings uncovered by Rockadelic, encompassing the dates from 1973 to 1976, and certainly one of the label's more progressive oriented releases. Pi Corp were a space rock band from Cleveland, Ohio and contains plenty of that ancient Vox Continental organ. Honestly these recordings seem like raw rehearsals that have been heavily affected by studio trickery. The latter element most likely added (or enhanced) many years later, perhaps for this LP release specifically. Interesting album, though not necessarily compelling.

I've had both the black and pink splash vinyl copies, the latter of which I currently own. The recent Italian issue (which comes in a gatefold and sports a different cover and title) includes 3 bonus tracks, though honestly the whole thing sounds like bonus tracks to me.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Igauzu - s/t. 1984 England

Igauzu - s/t. 1984 Music Factory

No reissues!

As mentioned on my return back to this blog, I will occasionally be featuring albums that would have normally found their way onto the CD Reissue Wish List in the past (and noted with the blog label to your right (and below) as CDRWL). Often times, I won't even own a copy myself (as is the case here), beyond maybe having a CD-R. So if there's no red or green on the record labels, you'll know that's the situation. Some (not all) of these albums have been dumped onto YouTube in recent years, so you may want to check over there if curious. In addition, I won't be adding back the Priority appellation in these notes. As noted before, I do keep Priority 1 and Priority 2 lists over at RYM as a reference. You'll have to look over there to see if I added a particular album or not. :-) However, anything I add to the UMR will most assuredly be something I enjoy. OK, onto Igauzu...

----Iguazu

Very obscure UK band with a Latin tinged fusion sound. First half of their sole album is a light and breezy fusion with flute and acoustic guitar in the lead role with wordless male/female vocals. At this point, I was recalling Galie from Mexico or perhaps Brazil's Cheiro de Vida. The second half becomes aggressively edgier, with more guest stars on electric guitar, synthesizer, and saxophone - almost to the point of freaky, and thus the revelation of a great find is at hand. However there's no denying its 1984 heritage (especially in the keyboard tones and overall production). Despite that fact, this is something of an essential work.

Blood Ceremony - Lord of Misrule. 2016 Canada

Blood Ceremony - Lord of Misrule. 2016 Rise Above (UK)

CD issue: 2016 Rise Above (UK)

Lord of Misrule is Blood Ceremony's 4th album, and sees the band time travel even further back than prior. Continuing on with this pattern, perhaps soon Blood Ceremony will sound like The Ventures, while Alia O'Brien dances the Mashed Potato...

Lord of Misrule immerses itself into the 1969 landscape quite successfully, mixing psychedelia, folk, hard rock, with slight traces of prog. Though I've defended Blood Ceremony in the past from sounding just like Jethro Tull, here the band seem to be embracing the tag. So yes, perhaps Stand Up era Tull is indeed the blueprint, with some Jefferson Airplane mixed in, and a cameo from Black Sabbath's first album. All with O'Brien's "witchy woman" vocals layered on top. While the music remains excellent - perhaps I say this due to my predilection for the style - there aren't the standout tracks of the past. It's definitely a very good "mid career" album, with well thought out compositions, but it does lack a certain dynamism.

Let's just hope the next album doesn't feature a cover of Hawaii Five-O. Book 'em Danno.