Saturday, September 24, 2011

Breakthru - Adventures Highway (1967-70 uk outstanding psychedelic rock, 2CD - MP3 320K and FLAC)


Breakthru were a powerful live act who never managed to "break through" into the record charts despite a talented and charismatic line-up. 40 years later, Circle Records has released a compilation of their recorded material that we can now hear and appreciate for the first time.

Breakthru never managed to have an album released of their own which was unfortunate as their only record was a solitary single "Ice Cream Tree" that has since appeared on various 1960s compilations.

The group were never happy with the single as it was not a good representation of their "sound", and particularly as the song was not composed by the band themselves. All the group members were actively involved in song writing with some of this backlog occasionally committed to tape whenever time and money would permit.

Now, decades later, the previously un-released recordings they made have been assembled into the one and only Breakthru album titled "Adventures Highway". This collection the band members say, represents how they would like the group to be best remembered.

Circle Records is an independent U.K. based record label that specializes in obscure groups from the 1960s and 70s. Operated by Peter Wild, the label prides itself in releasing high-quality vinyl pressings and CDs with the emphasis on attention to detail as well as respect for the artists themselves. "Quality not Quantity" is their motto so if the Breakthru album is any indication of this, I look forward to any other projects they do involving West Midlands bands.

Circle Records have done an amazing job in putting this package together. With full co-operation and assistance from former group members, the Breakthru "Adventures Highway" album includes the best of the band's previously un-issued recordings from 1967 to 1970.

The audio quality of some individual tracks does vary as you can pretty much tell those done as demos or salvaged from acetates but do not let this distract you from enjoying the music. Reportedly a year in the making, the complete "Breakthru package" comprises two compact discs (CD and CD EP) in a jewel case with booklet, a vinyl LP in an attractive printed sleeve with full-size book, and a reproduction vinyl 45 rpm single in its own printed sleeve.

You can order the CDs separate from the vinyl, but then you'd be missing out on the full-size artwork and book. After getting used to CDs over the years, it feels wonderful to hold a new "vinyl" album in my hands again and being able to clearly read all the liner notes and book without use of a magnifying glass!

The quality of the packaging for both LP and CD is exceptional with full-colour artwork throughout and more than 100 vintage photos (some in colour) of the band as taken by their "official" photographer Barry Gonen. Also appearing in the artwork are reproductions of original advertisements and other memorabilia associated with the group.

The CD booklet comprises 16 pages with a well-researched and highly detailed history of the group as written by Mike Stax of Ugly Things magazine.

Getting down now to the music - did I mention there was music in this package? Well yes there is and lots of it too! Chronologically and starting with Ice-Cream Tree, this was the A-side to the group's only single and issued in 1968. It's very much a period piece but really not half as bad as the group made it out to be.

I rather like it as there's a very catchy chorus (ring-a-ring of roses I can see, let's all dance round the ice cream tree...) and indeed could have become a hit. Just as well for the band it wasn't though so they were spared the embarrassment of having to perform it for more than a few times live on stage.

The B-side Julius Caesar was an original composition by drummer Richard Thomas and less "pop" but more "rock". I love the drums and bass on this one - too bad it didn't go on for longer as it lends itself to an extended instrumental solo somewhere in the middle.

Going now to the unreleased material, the first batch of which was recorded at Tetlow's Recording Studio in Birmingham at the end of 1967. The group-written Yours was an early attempt of an original song but would have been difficult to dance to with its stops and shifting rhythm.

A cover of the Gershwin classic Summertime sounds much more accessible with plenty of Hammond organ powering it along. Toyland from 1968 was an unusual one for the band as it was a cover of the Alan Bown version and according to Keith Abingdon, may not have ever been played live by the group. All these mentioned tracks appear on the CD EP that comes with the standard CD package.

As for the "Adventures Highway" album itself, this was assembled from a combination of unreleased-demos, BBC sessions, and surviving recordings from the results of various excursions into the studio by the group between 1967 and 1970. Side one kicks off with the high-energy group-composed Believe It from 1970.

You can just imagine the band going all out on this one with its high-energy blues-driven attack. Here Comes The End from 1967 is a lot more psychedelic sounding with abundant echo effects but still very powerful.

The bluesy cover of Willie Dixon's Spoonful really gives an indication of what Breakthru were all about. Gary Aflalo's blues-harmonica playing on this one is exceptional against a backdrop of thundering hammond organ and distorted guitars. If you really hate your neighbours then this is the one to play loud!

Love Is Strange starts out with some crashing guitars/bass/drums highly reminiscent of The Beatles Rain. This one is supposedly based on the Everly Brother's version of the song and features both Gary Aflalo and Keith Abingdon doing a good job harmonizing on the vocals. This is followed by the album's title track Adventures Highway from 1968 and what a number it is too!

Menacing hammond organ joined by pounding drums and guitar build into a climax of sheer volume that soon becomes a backdrop for spaced-out lyrics; Oh let's get transmitted, there's no planet that's too far. We'll see Jupiter and Mars, we'll see strange and weird sights on our space bound trip tonight... (make of it what you will).

The melodic and hypnotic I Have A Dream composed by Geoff Garratley, reaches the height of social consciousness to include actual recorded excerpts from Martin Luther King's famous speech. Interestingly, this track was left off the vinyl version of the Breakthru album.

Bob Booth's Growing Older is similarly laid-back but does include some wild hammond fingering towards the end. Troubleshoot co-written by Keith Abingdon and Richard Thomas is an excellent psychedelic rampage with lyrics to match. It has some great wah-wah guitar effects similar to what Roy Wood was doing at the time on many of The Move's records.

We then go right into The Story Of Peer Gynt with its opening riff taken directly from Hall Of The Mountain King (almost seems like a tradition amongst Brum bands to pay tribute to classical music at some time or another). This rocking track was considered for single release at the time but for some reason it never happened. A pity as it would surely have made a good follow up to Ice Cream Tree.

The remaining tracks on the album were recorded in 1970 at London's Piccadilly studios. Although the group were on the verge of splitting by this time, they recorded (ironically) what are regarded as some of their best tracks.

Alice Dropped Out from these sessions, would have made a fine single. As one of several Breakthru tracks co-composed by Keith Abingdon and Richard Thomas, this one is a driving blues-rock number with guitars very much at the forefront and the trademark hammond absent.

This would have been a powerful one when performed by the band live. It is followed on the album by Happiness which shows the band could still be tuneful in a commercial direction when they wanted to. Shake Off That Lead is another such radio-friendly track that bounces along with a catchy keyboard-driven melody.

The final track on the Breakthru album is titled Sailor Song. A wonderfully harmonious partnership of keyboard and guitar, and as the title suggests, the lyrics tell of a seafaring character who would rather spend his life out on the ocean rather than be troubled by the problems experienced by those on land.

Maybe it's meant as an expression of ultimate freedom (or freedom of expression) that seems to run through the groups music from start to finish on these collected tracks that make up the Breakthru album.

The Circle Records "Breakthru" album package serves as a fine tribute to one of the West Midlands great performing groups of the late 1960s. Breakthru were one of those bands who were at the leading edge of the pop music revolution at a time when innovation and the growth of new musical ideas was reaching its peak during the 1960s.

"Adventures Highway" fulfills a dream they had back then and this time you can join them on their journey. Highly recommended!


Breakthru - Believe It:


Track list:

CD 1:

01. Believe It (03':50")
02. Here Comes The End (03':05")
03. Spoonful (05':04")
04. Love Is Strange (02':54")
05. Adventures Highway (04':10")
06. I Have A Dream (04':35")
07. Growing Older (03':42")
08. Troubleshoot (03':01")
09. The Story Of Peer Gynt (02':43")
10. Alice Dropped Out (02':52")
11. Happiness (04':27")
12. Shake Off That Lead (03':33")
13. The Sailor Song (04':31")

CD (EP) 2:

14. Ice-Cream Tree (02':39")
15. Julius Caesar (02':48")
16. Yours (02':50")
17. Summertime (03':25")
18. Toyland (02':54")

Breakthru:
*Gary Aflalo - vocals, harp (1965-1971)
*Keith "Smoke" Abingdon - vocals, guitar (1965-1971)
*Bob Booth - vocals, bass guitar (1965-1968)
*Geoff Garratley - vocals, keyboards (1965-1969)
*Jim Leyland - drums (1965-1967)
*Richard "Plug" Thomas - drums, vocals (1967-1971)
*Frank Farrell - vocals, bass, keyboards (1968-1971)
*Bill Hunt - keyboards, french horn (1969-1970)

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Yellow - Kelta Kuume (1975 finland, hard progressive rock, 2010 remaster edition - FLAC)

Yellowstone was a Finnish Rock group. It was originally known as the Only Five in the summer of 1969 and changed its name to Yellow.

The band released their first album, Kelta Kuume in 1975 in English Language means Yellow Fever, it remained the band's sole studio album from 1975 and published by the record company, Finnair Disc and a produced by Vexi Strait. They had Studio time just for four days. The cover was designed by Hope Niiranen. The cover picture shows a prominent crossed the band members names: Melvin, Hanski, Helge, Romi. The album re-released in 2010, through Rocket Records.

A true feast of heavy guitar dominated hardrock that would rather be compared to bands like RAG I RYGGEN, URIAH HEEP and their landmates ELONKORJUU. A great album where the mastertapes collected dust far too long in the cellar.




Tracks
1. Palaa - 3:24
2. A Man Without a Woman - 2:43
3. Don't Stop the Music - 3:09
4. Yhdentoista aikaan - 3:08
5. Hold On - 2:00
6. Longest Day - 2:52
7. Arkeologi santaa kaivaa - 3:37
8. A Game for Two - 2:33
9. Joo Jussi - 2:19
10.Rokki-Riitta - 2:33
11.Mistreating Woman - 2:34
12.Monkey McMan - 0:43

Yellow
*HannuTakala - Vocals, Piano, Percussion
*Melvin McRae - Lead Guitar, Rythme, Slide, Acoustic Guitar, Moog Vocals
*Helge Koskela - Bass Guitar
*Raimo Osterman - Drums

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Friday, September 23, 2011

Alan Munson - First Light (1979 us, soft folk rock, 2nd solo album, 2008 guerssen records - FLAC)

A few years after Alan's debut I think he still delivered a strong context-bound next chapter to the two previous albums. There is a little less attention to deeper arrangements, but the songs still sound fine, even when several of them are a bit more influenced by country-rock.

The overall feeling is light and reveals some contentment and a certain positivism expressed by sunny flavours and a happy and a light feeling which may be somewhat typical for citizens from sunny California. The song "Good morning world", standing for a hopeful new beginning, is taken also to this second solo album, with a radio friendly happy version.

And also that old love isn't forgotten, which can be noticed in almost every song, but despite my remarks on the previous album, the positiveness and energy of it, is still able to live on and feed his actions further.

I also like very much the 12-string driven songs. The bonus track, referring to the funny feeling that at 30 years old he still is playing rock'n roll is a bit lighter in style, but as a song still fits well as an addition to this chapter or period.

by Gerald Van Waes



Tracks
1. Sail Away Forever - 3:19
2. Down The Road - 2:08
3. Good Morning World - 2:19
4. It's Cold Outside - 4:20
5. Back On My Own Again - 3:39
6. It's Just A Highway - 2:02
7. Lost The Reason To Fight - 4:00
8. November - 3:02
9. A Visit From A Friend - 4:20
10.Late Night Morning Coffee - 3:51
11.For A Long Time - 3:02
12.Thirty (bonus) - 3:23
All songs by Alan Munson.

Alan Munson - Guitar, Vocals, Percussions

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Bob Dylan - Highway 61 Revisited (1965 us, classic album in SACD edition - FLAC)

[Masterpiece Series]

He had already changed the course of music once, dragging folk from the dusty roadways and playing it to young people who would soon create a religion around it. Dylan was far from through, however, and with Highway 61 Revisited, he for the first time over the course of an entire album fused that folk with electric blues and rock to create a sound both rural and urban, both intelligent and visceral. Somehow, the 7-minute-long "Like a Rolling Stone" worked its way up the charts to number two, and while legions of folk fans felt betrayed, even more listeners felt an electric shock up their bones into their brains.

Of course, electric Dylan sounded little like other rock music in 1965. The Byrds, using many of Dylan’s songs, were youthful and bright with fresh chimes of 12-strings, and The Who and The Rolling Stones, while sharing many of Dylan’s amplified blues roots, were wild and rebellious. Perhaps only Lennon’s work on The Beatles’ "Help" and patches of The Kink Kontroversy tuned in to the same sources, because rather than young, clean, and itching for a fight, the Dylan of Highway 61 Revisited sounds bummed.

Unlike many of his contemporaries, Bob Dylan not only took musical cues from the blues, he took the attitude. If that single that hit the charts was a scathing attack of acidic revenge, the next song, "Tombstone Blues", rides its hyper-gallop telling tales of corruption, need, and desperation. "It Takes A Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry" finds a singer who has, “been up all night,” staring out the window, accompanied by gloriously trudging music which shares the narrator’s exhaustion. "Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues" steps lightly with defeat and resignation, and the mocking "Ballad of a Thin Man" is drawn out and ominous, hinting at doom and helplessness.

Even the upbeat songs betray this mood. "From a Buick 9" is a bouncy, giddy celebration of a woman whose primary attribute seems to be her ability to save the singer from his troubles and to patch him up when that is impossible. The strummed guitars of "Queen Jane Approximately" offers comfort if the title character should stop by, but the singer not only seems to think that she never will visit until tragedy strikes her, but he also expects that disaster as inevitable. The crazy whirl whistling at the beginning of the title track seems to promise wacky comedy, but this humor proves more rooted in the absurdity of life and its evils than in slapstick.

The folk faithful may have thrown a fit at Dylan ‘selling out’ to the teeny-bopper pop crowd, but the truth was that underneath those electrified squawks and that skipping drum beat is a pure strain of hung-out, used-up, morning-after, and all too adult blues. This undercurrent seeps to the surface in the album’s classic closer, the acoustic dirge for "Desolation Row", the alley were hopes, dreams, and last chances die a sad death so miserable and inevitable that few bother even to put up a fight.

Even here, that sense of surrender to despair is too simple of a description for a song complex enough to nurse a buried but brutal sense of resentment and anger. Unlike many lengthy songs, "Desolation Row" earns every one of its elevens minutes. Unlike ethereal trip that Dylan would later send the listener on with Blonde on Blonde, Highway 61 Revisited is a train ride across the night, rooted, grounded, and going nowhere.

The CD layer of this reissue is a huge improvement over the previous Columbia release and rivals the excellent DCC gold disc that fetches a commanding price nowadays. The SACD does an even better job reproducing the sound, with a natural, earthy, unprocessed sound wholly appropriate for this raw, rare American music. The natural dynamic of the mix and the fullness of the instruments, especially the bass drum and the piano, gives the rustic elements of the albums a lived-in quality while still allowing the guitar to blister away when appropriate.

Highway 61 Revisited is a singular achievement, an earth-bound, world-weary album seductive and comforting in its worn-out languor. Incredibly, Dylan released this less than half a year after the excellent Bringing it All Back Home; this amazing pace probably accounts for this album’s fatigue, but it certainly does not explain its brilliance.
Music Tap

Tracks
1. Like A Rolling Stone - 6:13
2. Tombstone Blues - 5:58
3. It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry - 4:09
4. From A Buick 6 - 3:19
5. Ballad Of A Thin Man - 5:58
6. Queen Jane Approximately - 5:31
7. Highway 61 Revisited - 3:30
8. Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues - 5:31
9. Desolation Row - 11:20

Musicians
*Bob Dylan - Guitar, Harmonica, Piano
*Michael Bloomfield - Guitar
*Alan Kooper - Organ, Piano
*Bobby Gregg - Drums
*Frank Owens - Piano
*Harvey Goldstein - Bass
*Russ Savakus - Bass
*Charley McCoy - Guitar
*Paul Griffin - Piano, Organ

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Jade - Faces Of jade (US 1970 Psych - Erebus CD - FLAC & mp3-320)



It`s late 60s Brit-psych/pop of the McCartney/Roy Wood variety transplanted to 1970s Cincinnati, serving up plenty of innovation, fun and a fair amount of label $$$ on hand. Opens with dreamy psych mini-epic that recalls the 2nd Fallen Angels album, the rest holds a middle ground between London`68 and the clever pop that Ohio would become famous for, leaving the listener to decide if this is a late 60s lytepsych LP or in fact an Anglo-retro 70s trip. Lots of piano, "Penny Lane" fanfares, high-pitched teen harmonies and unexpected studio tricks.
" Cincinnatti`s Jade were another one of those elusive early 70`s psychedelic acts who left behind only one private pressing before vanishing into the mist. Virtually nothing is known about the band, but collectors have been swarming record fairs and pillaging eBay for years in the hopes of snagging this relic. So does the album live up to its hype? Mostly, yes...
Considering the modest budget of such a DIY undertaking in 1970, the mix is well done and the material is very well constructed. Blending the Beatles, Blossom Toes and a number of other pop/psych acts of the era, Jade create a formidable aural tapestry. With slight folk leanings, each track breezes along quite nicely throughout the duration of the album. The engineering trickery in places here are subtle reminders that Jade were foremost Beatles influenced. Perhaps the strangest track is "My Mary" which is absolutely mindblowing. This ingenius piece of music features backwards accompaniment along with warped vocals that sound deceptively reversed but are actually sung forward. The outcome is like a bent merry-go-round, wobbling in circular motion while the seasick vocals spill out over the arrangement. It`s truly a sound to behold. The rest of the album is mostly just as satisfying and any lovers of quirky psych will find alot to enjoy in "Faces of Jade". "- Robots For Ronnie.


1. Prelude willow's end
2. Blue ways
3. Well
4. We got to make it thru
5. My Mary
6. My honey
7. Rest of my life
8. All alone
9. Flying away
10. Wait till I come home

Erebus CD (ERCD 016) ripped with XLD. FLAC files, cue, log, scans@300 dpi + mp3-320 alternative link here (pw : phrockblog)

Dr Strangely Strange - Alternative Medicine (1997 uk, progressive folk rock, the difficult 3rd album with Gary Moore - FLAC)

Goulding tied the knot in '71 and headed west to do a spot of painting. Booth, Pawle and Hoppy the drummer teamed up with Gaye and Terry Woods, who had left Steeleye Span after their first album.

In Waterloo, May '72, the band decided to cut their losses and knock it on the head. However, later the same year, Booth and Pawle descended on Tim Goulding in his halcyon retreat with a wealth of new material, plus Steve Bulloch on sax/bass and Don Knox on fiddle. With Derek Boston on drums and Pete Downey's light show, the band undertook a short but enjoyable Irish tour. The Horsebox Tour, with Dark Mavis and Bill Foley.

On completion, we each set off once more to "do our own thing", as in raising children, learning to integrate into society etc...whatever you're having yourself. About 1980, we decided to give another stab at the big time, suitably enhanced by Joe Thomas on fiddle, TJM Tutty on bass and the 2 Ronnies on drums. (A succession of drummers over the years: Tom Coady, Tel Tetrault, Fran Breen, Robbie Brennan, Earl Gill jr., Punka Khosa inter allia.) The inaugural gig at the Project Arts Centre was an unmitigated disaster. One still wakes occasionally about 3 a,m. in a cold sweat.

The main problem lay in Ivan's inability to keep the bazouki in tune, plus a liberal use of smoke bombs...the less said the better. From then on the only way was up...Stragglers' Bail at Kenmare's Cibeal. Providing soundtrack for Tim Booth's film 'The Prisoner" involved studio time, and a chance to lay down some demos produced by Jerome Rimsome, (Erstwhile Motown House bassist.) The Soundtrack was further spiced up with the addition of Gary Moore on acoustic and electric guitars.

At this juncture, we had a real doctor playing saxophone, namely Kevin Strong, who went on to save lives while we manfully strove to blow minds. Starting out as a quasi acoustic outfit, we had mutated - through a series of hybrid crossovers and implants - into a fun party band people could dance to. (in the old fashioned pre E way.)

The current line up has remained constant over the last fifteen years or so, only the name of the drummer having been changed for tax purposes... Having played together steadily but irregularity over the past while, it was deemed time to tackle that "Difficult Third Album" before another century was on us.

by Ivan Pawle 1997

Tracks
1. Lilty's - 2:29
2. Darksome Burn - 4:38
3. The Heat Came Down - 4:26
4. The James Gang - 2:00
5. Hale Bopp/Jig for Jack - 3:27
6. Hames and Traces - 3:37
7. Wishing - 2:53
8. Whatever Happened to the Blues - 3:57
9. Too Much of a Good Thing - 4:08
10.Hard as Nails - 3:50
11.Planxty Roland - 2:49
12.Epilog - 2:50
13.Strange World (Booth, Gaulding, Goulding, Khosa, Pawle, Scully , Tutty) - 5:45
14.Pulp Kayak - 0:46
All songs composed by Booth, Gaulding, Goulding, Pawler, Scully , Tutty, except otherwise.

Musicians
*Tim Booth - Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
*Ivan Pawle - Guitars, Vocals, Hammond
*Tim Goulding - Harmonium, Keyboards, Hammond, Piano, Vocals, Whistle
*Mary Greene - Vocals
*Aíne Whelan - Vocals
*Gary Moore - Electric Guitar
*Seán Ó Loinsigh - Bouzouki
*Len McCarthy - Baritone Sax
*Andy O'Sullivan - Harmonica
*Joe Thoma - Fiddle, Viola
*TJM Tutty - Bass, Acoustic Guitar
*Bruno Stahelin - Drums

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El Amor - En Vivo (1971 mexico, heavy psych/acid rock, 2006 shadoks edition - MP3 320k and FLAC)

Rock band formed in the late 60's, first as "Los Pajaros", and led by Miguel Cardenas. The band was originally from Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, and participated the Youth Festival which was conducted the March 13, 1970 in that city, after receiving outstanding reviews from critics, they decided to try their luck in Mexico City, where they recorded their first LP, which included covers of popular songs at that time.

The group renamed as "El Amor" in August 1971 and appear in the popular in a TV show on Sunday in which it was not common invite rock bands. "El Vivo" is their second album, released 1971. The band really crank it up here, with loads of wigged-out fuzz guitar heavily featured on six lengthy tracks of high energy acid rock.

Review in spanish by Rubber Soul Chat
El grupo regiomontano el Amor, fue uno de los grupos mas aclamados en el Festival de Avandaro de 1971, especialmente por su archireconocida rola "I Love you More", pero el grupo en su primer album de estudio, se estaba llendo hacia el Pop y el Beat (incluyendo refritos de los Beatles y Badfinger), pero en vivo, demostraron que eso no era lo suyo, sino el Heavy Psych a lo Black Sabbath o Blue Cheer, aqui puedes encontrar una gama de sonidos psicodelicos con mucho Fuzz en el bajo y la guitarra, asi que si esperabas a los Beatles mexicanos, olvidate de eso, pero si en cambio te gustan tambien bandas como Sir Lord Baltimore, Blue Cheer o Black Sabbath, entonces te lo recomiendo, es un discazo al nivel de esos grandes del Heavy Psych.



Tracks
1. I'm a Walking/I Love you More - 12:09
2. We Sing Together - 9:50
3. We Must Say Goodbye - 3:17
4. We Need Love - 9:35
5. Take My Lovin' - 7:55

El Amor
*Jorge Alberto Vallejo - Drums
*Miguel Cardenaz - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Rogelio Gonzalez - Vocals, Bass

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