Thursday, November 26, 2020

Grand Funk Railroad- A Perspective

Grand Funk Railroad, later shorten to just Grand Funk (but returning to the original name), were a rock and roll band from Flint, Michigan, who over a period of 1969-1975 climb to the top of American Rock and Roll bands only to burn out, management problems and drop back out of existence over 7 years.  What a ride it was for them and this is due to the amazing song writing talents of Mark Farner (Vocalist, guitarist, organ) who wrote nearly all the music as well as the talented band. Bad ass bass player, Mel Schacher, and hardhitting drummer, Don Brewer, who also had a kick ass voice.  The band was inspired heavily by their local Detroit scene (Amboy Dukes, Mowtown, MC5, Stooges, and of course the Blues. 


I was never a big fan of the band but they used to play some of their songs on the radio like We’re an American band, Closer to Home, and Locomotion, so I know who they were but none of my friends had their records and they were gone from the scene when I was in high school in the later 70s.  It was only about 5 years ago, I really started listening to the band and collecting up their vinyl records.  3 years ago I bought the two Trunk of Funk boxes and I was converted for good.  

The bands debut came out in August of 1969,  a month after they got a huge break and were invited to play the Atlanta Pop Festival on July 4th. This was a huge festival with well over 100,000 people and great exposure for the band. The bands debut album (On Time) only reached 27 on the charts but they would tour relentlessly over the next years and produce 4

studio albums and one live album in just a bit over 2 years!!   Each subsequent record would improve upon the next with Grand Funk (December 1969) reaching 11, Closer to Home (June 1970) number 6, Survival (April 1971) also reaching number 6, and E Plurbis Funk (Nov 1971) reached number 5! 



The band’s singles would later become very important in them getting on the radio and really selling lots of records and playing huge venues. While none of the singles from the first two records charted, Close to Home, a plea to end the war in Vietnam and bring the troops home. It was their first top 40, reaching 22 in the charts. While the band would release quite a few singles that would reach the top 100 (Time Machine, Mr Limousine Driver, Heartbreaker, Mean Mistreater, Feelin’ Alright, Gimme Shelter, People Let’s Stop the war (105)), it was not until Footstompin’ Music (#29), that they would have another top 40 hit. I am a really big fan of the Let's Stop the War track.  This was the bands 2nd anti-war anthem but while Closer to Home was a bit more cryptic in the lyrics, this one was direct! 

In the summer of 1971, the band finally made it over to play in Europe and had Humble Pie as the opening band. Can you imagine how rocking these shows must have been! July 3rd 1971, the band played to a huge crowd at Hyde Park in London and my wife was there!!  She went to most of these free shows in the park, where so many great bands played like Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Pretty Things, Jethro Tull, Blind Faith and many more. 



The week after the returned to the USA, they were headlining the Shea Stadium in NY where they broke the record of the Beatles and drew a crowd of like 50,000 people. Several shows on this tour we recorded. This show was recorded on video and audio but is still unreleased today, except this one clip. 



Luck for us a few years back (2002 cd and 2014 LP), The Live 1971 Tour was released with tracks from Chicago, Detroit and a few from the Shea Stadium show.  This was a great document of the band and sharing about half the songs from the previous live album. 

1972 saw a huge change in the band as long time producer-manager, Terry Knight was let go and they decided to add a keyboard player, a local from Flint, named Craig Frost, a decision that Mark initially was not supporting but he was outvoted by the other members!  


At this point the band was huge and when Phoenix was released in Sept 1972 (reaching #7), the band had another top 30 hit with Rock and Roll Soul.  This would also see the band headlining Madison Square Garden and other major halls across the country (Cobo, Detroit), LA Forum, and others.  

After producing Phoenix by themselves, the band hooked up with Todd Rundgren to produce their most successful record to date, We’re an American band. The title track went on to be the bands 1st number 1 single!  The LP was released in July 1973 and just failed to reach number one on the album charts by only getting to number 2!!  


The bands sound was getting more commercial and slick in production but the band still rocked hard.  A 2nd single from the album Walk like a Man reached number 19, also quite successful.   Again the band would tour like mad and already create another album again produced by Rundgren with Shine On

Shine On came with a unique 3D cover in glasses in the first pressings.  The album was released in March 1974 and managed to reach number 5 on the album charts but they had another number 1 single with the cover song, The Loco-motion.  This album would prove to be very successful with the title track also being a top 20 single. The band was feeling a lot of pressure to make slightly more commercial music as they were being sued by former manager-producer, Terry Knight and finances were tight for them.   They did not rest long as by December 1974 they had produced their next record, All the Girls in the world Beware, which would reach only number 10 on the charts but would produce two top 5 singles, Some kind of Wonderful (3) and Bad Time (4).  

At this time the band were really quite stressed out, burnt out and feeling pressured. They had just released in early 1975 the amazing double live record, Caught in the Act (reached number 21) and had two more records to fulfil their contract with Capital records. For their next to last album of the 70s, Born to Die (released in 1975), which only managed to reach 47 in the charts and neither of the singles (Sally or Take Me) even reached the top 50. It was very disappointing for the band. 

They had been working super hard these last years and since their debut album had now 3 gold (500,000 copies sold) and 3 platinum (1 million) including two double platinum records in 7 years. That is a pretty incredible run and here they are almost broke.  It just goes to show you how fucked up the music industry was and how managers and labels really fucked over the artists. I am sure Mark was doing much better than the others because he had nearly all the songwriting money. Anyway, by the time the Frank Zappa produced record, Good Singin Good Playin’ came out in 1976, the band was over. Lots of internal problems and having had a really hard time writing songs together for this final record (their first and only for MCA).  They really respected Frank Zappa and enjoyed working with him but the end was near.   

The band made a couple of albums in the early 80s (I have never heard them) Grand Funk Lives (1981) and What’s Funk (1983) but this would be the last studio albums by the band. They got back together in the late 90s again and released a live album, Bosnia. Don and Mel have had a version of the band going on and off and continuing to this day.  They celebrated 50 years last year. There was hope they would come over and play in Europe but it never happened. Anyway, I have put in some of my favorite live videos of the band from you tube. Enjoy and discover this amazing band. 

https://grandfunkrailroad.com/ 


Saturday, November 14, 2020

White Dog- White Dog (Rise Above Records RISELP243)

This is a new band from Austin, Texas. A five piece band with a sound rooted in the 70s.  I like most of the stuff released on Rise Above, he has a good ear for interesting bands.  This though is an album that took me a few listens to really get into it. The first time I heard it, I really was not that impressed but by the 4th listen and at a bit higher volume, I really started to dig the record a lot.  Side A starts with a short instrumental beginning and a cool southern Texas rock feel. It goes through quite a few sections including some harmony guitar parts and harder riffs before the guitar solo!  Black Powder slows things a bit and there are some backing vocals in this sort of slow bluesy groove. You can really get sucked into this simple one. Lanterns is also a bit more laid back a bit like Marshall Tucker Band with some dual harmony guitars as well. Snapdragon keeps the mood mellow and laid back. The vocals are sung in an interesting way and cadence.  The dual guitars for sure bring you back to the south!  Side B starts with Crystal Panther and a more rocking track and a good boogie groove. The singer has a quite unusual voice but he mixes up his style quite a bit. Abandon Ship starts off with a guitar solo before the vocals kick in.  This was a strange short track…  Pale Horse is more bluesy and laid back to start but then the story becomes more intense and so does the music.  Versus Cultus closes this debut record with the longest track of the LP and more of those southern harmony guitars!  Fans of Crypt Trip (good friends of these guys and mastered by Ryan Lee from the band) will enjoy this. Quite an unusual choice for Rise Above to release.  

http://riseaboverecords.com 


Mienkinaru- Lost Bones of the Holy Butterfly (Drone Rock Records)


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This is a new collaboration (band) with Mike Vest (Bass, mixing), Dave Sneddon on drums and Suzuki Junzo and quite a heavy psychedelic noise fest.  On the opening title track, the band sound is established. The drum and bass sound is quite open and reverby, the guitar is loud, spaced and often aggressive not the sound is not so dense like Haiku No ku or some of Mike’s other heavy psych projects. As the track develops, Suzuki really takes off with some great guitar work.  About 10mins or so into the track, it just stops completely and it comes as a shock and then suddenly they shoot straight back to where they left off.  Now there are appear to be two guitar lines being played as the solo becomes more crazy and wild… The rhythm guitar line starts to play something more doomy and heavy in the background but the solo guitar is spaced and loud. Trippy stuff.  That takes the entire album Side. Part II of the title track kicks off not far off where the 1st side ended, as if this was just one long hour long jam..   Half way through this track, the drums and bass drop out for 15 seconds and then come back with a new groove but Suzuki just smashes forward with wild abandon… If you really like super intense long guitar freakouts over the background of a steady groove, this is the shit!! 

https://www.facebook.com/Psychdronerock

https://dronerockrecords.com


Vol 4 Redux (Magnetic Eye Records ‎MER-075)

 


A1 –Thou (2) Wheels Of Confusion 8:01
A2 –The Obsessed Tomorrow's Dream 3:01
A3 –High Reeper Changes 4:59
A4 –Matt Pike FX 4:07
A5 –Spirit Adrift Supernaut 4:42
B1 –Green Lung Snowblind 5:22
B2 –Whores. Cornucopia 6:04
B3 –Tony Reed Laguna Sunrise 2:54
B4 –Haunt (7) St. Vitus' Dance 2:25
B5 –Zakk Sabbath Under The Sun 7:07

I love the original album and was very curious to hear this and was also shocked as pretty much every band with the exception of Zakk Sabbath (discounting the solo sections) do very intriguing versions of the songs.  I have to say on first listen I actually did not like quite a few of the versions but now after a few listens, realize it takes quite some balls to fuck with these classic tunes and try to make it into something new.  Although, I really don’t like the death metal vocals on Wheels of Confusion, the rest of the version is really cool.  High Reeper turn Changes into a rocker! Not easy to pull that off.  Matt Pike he has a hell of a lot of fun extending out and make a sound collage for FX.. Supernaut, this is one where the riff is just so groovy on the original and they fuck with it so it did not really work for me.  Anyway, if you expect an almost identical cover of the original album look elsewhere, these are bands that took the tracks to new places. 



https://en.merhq.spkr.media/ 


Sunday, November 8, 2020

Interview with Suzuki Junzo and Mike Vest


I met Junzo back in Japan in 2012. He is a guitarist who has played with a number of acts (including Damo Suzuki, 20 Guilders, Astral Travelling Unity, Fuji, New Miminokto, Overhang Party, Pouring High Water and a lot under his own name.  Since his first release in 2002, he is credited with a 153 appearances (on Discogs). In addition, he runs his own label called Plunk’s Plan. In December he has a new project with Mike Vest from Bong called Minnelakalma.  I have only met Mike once at Roadburn and sadly missed the BONG shows that took place here in Portugal in 2018 and 2019. Mike has played and still plays in many bands. BONG, 11Paranoias, Drunk In Hell, Blown Out, Melting Hand, OZO, Lush Worker and Oblivion Reptilian.

Junzo and Mikem where do you live and how is life these days?

Junzo- I was born and raised up in Tokyo.

Mike - North Shields, North Tyneside by the Sea. Tough times at the moment for everyone.  Thankfully where i live is generally relaxed and quiet.  The ocean helps to calm the nerves. Relieves stress.

Junzo, do you have a current band that you rehearse with to make music, if so, who is in it? You seem to have many collaborations every year and before Covid you would travel outside Japan and play shows.  No one is playing any concerts these days, how to you spend your time?

Junzo - Yeah, Active bands are Miminokoto and 20 Guilders. Miminokoto is kind of a tribute to late sixties American “Twilight Garage” punk band around New England in US. Check the legendary compilations like “Oil Stains” and “New England Teen Scene”. Leader of Miminokoto is Koji SHIMURA, ex-member of White Heaven/High Rise, and most famous work is drummer of Acid Mothers Temple. Bassist Takuya NISHIMURA is Tokyo Underground veteran and bassist of Che-Shizu with Chie Mukai, Tori Kudo. About 20 Guilders, Duo with Mitsuru Tabata, guitarist of Zeni Geva/Acid Mothers Temple and too many units/bands. But we focused on playing/singing “songs” not to play noise/experimental stuff, because when we started this band, Mitsuru didn’t have a band to sing/play like old classic rock like Neil Young/Grateful Dead/Only Ones and I asked him to do this together. Now we call our music like Grateful Dead plays Only Ones/Neil Young song with a trippy space thing!

And more, Fuji is kind of international band with Bart De Paepe (Sloow tapes) and Mik Quantius (Embryo), Warre Fungus (De Audio Plant) and Louis Freres. Our music is totally improvised and Mik used to say “ Be Here with An Ear”. Also Astral Traveling Unity (with Astro, Tomo, Hurdy Gurdy Player in Tokyo) is planning to restart jamming in near future.

And from July, in Tokyo I am gradually book shows but with a very small audience and limited seating. Its not good for touring in this country so I stuck in my room and reading books/watching movies/listening to records. For me, this is no difference with before COVID. No problem and good timing for me to taking time to do this all over. Tons of uncheck Vinyls/Books/Movies are all around my room and they all say “Hey Junzo you need to check us out ASAP!!” I feel like they are shouted at me. Haha!

Mike, 2019 was a very productive year for you with at least 7 releases.  Can you describe some of these for us?

Mike - OZO first two LPs came out in Feb (Saturn) and June (Pluto), a free jazz psych rock band.  I played bass and minimal guitar. Was a nice change. Was really refreshing to make. Bunch of Lush Worker digital albums and a double tape, that came out on Cruel Nature Records in the UK.


How did this new collaboration come about? 

Junzo - Every time I played in Newcastle (thanks my friend dude Chris ‘Jude’ Watson, I recorded with his band ’Snakes Don’t Belong In Alaska and goes to 2LP from Cardinal Fuzz!) talked with Mike about our new collaboration and finally we did it!

Mike - Always wanted to make music with Junzo and Sned, came together pretty easy. Everyone is good with production and being able to record well from home. Musicianship is top quality.  Didn't take long to all come together. 

Who came up with the name Mienakinaru and what does it mean? 

Junzo - My Idea. Mienakunaru is Japanese, means like “Go Blind” “Go Blinded by Light” “Gradually fade out of sight” blah blah blah. 

Describe how the record was made? Did they send you the drum and bass tracks and you just added guitar and Mike mixed it?? 

Mike - I got the drum tracks from Sned, i arranged the whole album ad played bass. Sent a basic bounce of the two side. Junzo blazed through the tracks and send me the stems. I them mixed. It all worked.

Junzo - Im bit not inn good health in the summer, but Mike send me files/words with great patience and finally I went to studio to do overdubs and Mike mixed and when I heard the result and say YES!

What kind of set up do you use for mixing? Do you run everything through an analog mixer, do everything in the computer in Logic, Cubase, Pro Tools or another DAW?? 

Mike - Heavy use of Logic 9. I have loads and loads of cracked plugin and software. Heavy use of waves compressors. Most of the effects are pedals. Apart from the HH delay i use with the ping pong delay. My favourite. Really helps with mixing. Helps with the panning.

This must be some of the longest guitar solos you have ever done? Was it all done in one take or did you do several takes and choose one you liked best? 

Junzo - Maybe, haha. I play same like collaboration with Snakes don’t belong in Alaska! That was real studio live session for 3 hours with 4 people with no overdubs, this is overdubs, but only one take. I played with them, share same period of playing time. That’s all.


Can you describe what your guitar set up was (amps, pedals, guitars used)? 

Junzo - late 70’s Big Muff, early eighties RAT, Cry Baby, Spring Reverb of Fender Twin reverb, maxon analog delay, and some pitch shifter.


Mike - I use a Fuzz Octave Clone, Modded Big Muff, Sun Blist Phaser and a DD3. Most pedals i use were made by MOOSE Electronics. Lads a genius.

Do you think group will ever perform live?

Junzo - Yeah, looking forward to have an opportunity to playing live as Mienakunaru. ANY PROMOTERS/FESTIVALS! if UK short tour are coming to realized, its amazing for me!

Mike - Even before this COVID, i was getting less opportunities to play any shows. So even after things go back to 'normal' which is looking less and less likely. I pretty sure i will be even further down the list than i already am with promoters. 

What is next for you guys??

Junzo - Next Album of Mienakunaru and Miminokoto’s New LP ‘Mayoiga’ will be out from my label later this year/early next year, and Electric Guitar Duo LP with Tetuzi Akiyama from Utech records, US next year, and my new solo album is ready. And 20 guilders Third album.

Mike - Next album - LP, working on it now….



Mienakunaru- ‘Lost Bones Of The Holy Butterfly’ LP
Out on Drone Rock Records
December/January 2021 







Motorhead- Ace of Space Deluxe Box Set

Well, as someone who has 4 versions of Ace of Space (US, UK, Japanese and a UK gold vinyl versions) and this was my fave album in 1980 that I played to death, I had to have it.  Before this album came out Pink Floyd was my favourite band and then suddenly Motorhead!  I had all the albums and different versions and collected the 7”s.. whatever they brought into Merlin’s Workshop, I bought it!!  

Anyway, this box is pretty damn awesome. You get a lot of unreleased and interesting music.  I decided I would start with the demos and work my way up to the album and hear it in 5.1 and then hear the albums. The 10” is where we started as these were the instrumental demos.  The version of Ace of Spades that start it off is quite different. The version on the double LP, The Good, the Broke and The Ugly, which is also demos- alt. versions, you have a version like on the 10” but with vocals.  Not as good as the final version, which has this extra guitar line which really gives it power.  The two unreleased tracks Hump on your back and Dance are high powered tracks. It was interesting to hear the demo versions of Shoot you in the back, Fast and Loose and Love me like a Reptile in early versions. Dirty Love is pretty close to the way it ended up. It would have been interesting to have more info about these demos but there is nothing on or on the sleeves. 

As for the double LPs, these demo versions with vocals, some are extended versions on like Love me like a Reptile, Dirty Love, while the rest are just more raw versions of what you hear on the final album but with few or none additional guitar overdub parts.  The most interesting is the unfinished tracks Hump on your Back, Waltz of the Vampire, Bastard and Godzilla Akimbo.  I really dig the guitar riff on Hump on your back. Waltz of the Vampire is a fast one seems to be the instrumental track from the 10” that was called Dance.  They could have made this one into a great track with some more effort and additional guitar. Bastard is like a heavy blues rock boogie and not that tightly played.  They obviously worked on it a bit though as Lemmy wrote to lyrics.  Godzilla Akimbo is actually instrumental and a bit strange it did not appear on the instrumental 10”, unless it is Hump on your Back??

It is interesting that none of these tracks seem to have been reworked into tracks for Iron Fist. Just like the unreleased tracks from the Bomber sessions (Fun on the Farm, Treat me Nice and You ain’t gonna live Forver) were worked up more for Ace of Spades. They probably were just living the life and partying and just don’t remember the stuff they did in the last recording session and the leftover tracks at all!! 

Fast and Loose has a very different ending while We are the Road Crew, they start it slightly and end it slightly differently than on the final version.  Lemmy laughing at the end is fun.  Fire Fire was agressive.  Jailbait, what a killer guitar riff!!!  Powerful stuff from Eddie.  The Hammer (alt version) is pretty close to the released version. They probably recorded a few takes and just did not take this one. The alt long version of Dirty Love starts with a false start and then a longer solo by Eddie before the real track kicks in.  Filthy’s double kick drumming is more prominent in the mix as well. Side 4 features Girlschool playing Bomber as well as Emergency and Please don’t touch for the 10” St Valentines Day massacre  release plus yet another version of Dirty Love and Love me like a Reptile!

Also on these demos, you hear Fast Eddies parts really loud and in your face and Lemmy is actually quite low in the mix on most of them. 

The Orleans, France live album from March 1981 is pretty raw and a great powerful performance. All of Ace of Spades is played except Dance and Live to Win, which is cool.  There are a few times where the sound disappears a bit on the recording. This might have been a soundboard recording and not a multitrack. There is no info about this at all.  It is clear the audience is smaller and not as into it as the last time they played here in France and Lemmy gives them some shit about it.  Powerful stuff..  This is from 3 months before I saw them on the US tour in June 1981 opening for Ozzy. 

The DVD includes some TV appearances, 30mins from the Belfast gig and some interviews as well as Ace of Space mixed in 5.1. I am a big fan of 5.1 mixes if they are done well. Besides it having way too much bass (had to turn the subwoofer way down, almost off) it is really cool.  They do some panning of some of the guitar solos and mix some of Eddie’s different guitar players more to the front or back of the mix and this percussion thing that Filthy uses, gets panned around in a cool ways on some of the songs like the end of Love me like a Reptiles. On Ace of spades, the main solo is back in the rear right speaker! Drums sound awesome and like Philty is in the room if you play it loud as you should. Live to Win that small extra riff between the vocal parts only comes out in the center speaker. Cool mix. Fast and Loose, the opening guitar riff only plays in the rear speakers until the rest of the band kicks in and there is more guitar throughout this song in the rear speakers as well. At the end there is some percussive sounds only in the rear speakers.  We are the Road Crew also has a great mix with the guitars but sadly the low end is just really muddy.  They should have been able to sort this out. Not a lot of definition in the bass.  That was the best track so far for the guitars. Cool stuff. Fire Fire has a lot of guitar in the rear speakers and the chorus Fire Fire is in the rear speakers, something they have not done on any of the other songs. Sounds great. Jailbait, what a killer guitar riff again is mainly in the rear speakers at the start of the song. I should also mention that Lemmy’s voice is super clear in the mix. Dance has the backing vocals and shaker in the rear speakers. Interesting this was a song Eddie did not like at all and would not play it live!! Bite the Bullet had a bit of panning of the guitar solo in the front speakers. The Chase is better than the Catch has a the guitars mixed quite high in the rear and it sounds great and the main solo is in the center speaker. Finally, the Hammer! 

I was a bit surprised at how bad the footage of the Belfast gig was. IT is like 4th generation VHS tape transfer. The could have improved the audio as well if they sync’d up the what was used on the LP?? It could not have been that difficult. They some guy who speaks about the band and with fans in between some of the songs.  The other section of the DVD menu was fun to see but it was a lot of mimed videos (including the Chase is better than the Catch, where Eddie looks and acts a bit wasted!).. My fave part was the Sally James show (kids show) and the Headgirl live performance with Girlschool. Lochem Pop was some of the only real live performances of all these interviews and other videos.   An amazing box set though… Very happy. Not played the game with the dice though!! There is a comic book and nice book about the record. 

http://imotorhead.com 



The Budos Band- Long in the Tooth (Daptone Records)

We saw this Staten Island NY band at Psycho Las Vegas and I have been a fan of them since. I always look forward to the next record but I have to say the label use a lot of false advertising and continue to give these references to Black Sabbath and being psychedelic, when neither is true. There is not a single psych track on this record. A little freaky ending on of the tracks on the 7” is not enough to justify the use of the word!!  The band continues to deliver their smooth instrumental sound track music. I don’t think anyone outside the band could tell the difference between the tracks on this album and the last one or two… Don’t get me wrong, I dig the stuff and groove along but they don’t progress. Even less than AC/DC, I would say.  Anyway, if you like the band and want to hear another album of songs that sounds just like the last one. This will for sure be the last album I will buy from the band without hearing it first.  Sorry guys.. 

https://thebudosband.bandcamp.com/


Monday, November 2, 2020

Kadavar- The Isolation Tapes (Robotor Records RRR001)

This is a super cool record and will probably go down as one of my faves by the band.  Kadavar at least on side A (Tabula Rasa Part I-V) really went for a sort of Pink Floyd Meddle like vibe and achieved it quite successfully. I love the first side of the record.  A long suite of tracks that run together with some nice spacey stuff and not a lot of singing.   Side B features 5 shorter tracks and is quite varied as well.  Cool music. I hope they make some more music in this vein in the future. They clearly have some really nice analog gear in their studio based on the pictures in the gatefold sleeve. A great success for a band known for playing Sabbath inspired Occult rock or whatever you want to label it!! Congrats guys..



White Hills- Splintered Metal Sky (God Unknown Records)

What can I say???   White Hills are an ever evolving band and now what seems to be a permanent duo.  In many ways this album is like the last one but it mixes in a bit more of the experimental early side of the band. A lot of political commentary about the state of the world and some interest guests from film maker Jim Jarmusch to the bass player/singer in Primal Scream.   While, I prefer the space and psychedelic rock versions of White Hills, I really dig the evolution and path the band have taken but this is far from an easy listening experience, very edge, tense, in your face at times, powerful and controversial. Check it out!!!






Tommy Bolin- In and Out oF Deep Purple by Laura Shenton (Sonic Bond Publishing)


Tommy Bolin’s story is a very sad one.  An obviously very talented guitar player who was also a drug addict, that untimely ended his life at the age of 25. I have the music of most of his bands (Zephyr, James Gang, Energy, solo stuff and of course his work with Deep Purple).  I learned a lot about his early life as a drifter musician bouncing back and forth between Colorado and Iowa, where he grew up, in this book. I  have quite a lot of critic of this book though.  The flow is really bad and does not really have a clear logic.  There is a list of his concert dates but all of the shows in 1972-1974 are missing? It was just lazy not looking up the concert dates he played James Gang and Energy during this time period. Several are listed in concert posters and reviews, etc.. Also, Laura, does not seem to want to lay any blame on Tommy’s drug problems (heroin, coke, drink) in the break up of Deep Purple, when it was quite clear that HE was the problem.  The band had great chemistry with him and he could play the Blackmore stuff. They made a great and varied record together but he was a drug addict and did not get any help and this just lead to the band playing such erratic concerts (one night could be great and the next a disaster) and this was all on his shoulders.  Anyway… I learned quite a lot in these 90 pages of text.  A lot of the book, probably 40% is quotes from interviews and news articles interspersed with her commentary. There are concert ads, and some rare pictures as well as quite common promo shots for the big bands. In the end, it is not worth the 19 dollar list price but if you can find it cheap, you will learn something new for sure andit is a quick read!

http://sonicbondpublishing.com





Wheel of Smoke- Sonic Cure (Polder Records PRO-021.2019)

I met these cool guys in Belgium some years ago and they seem to be one of the few bands in Belgium keeping a cool stoner rock sound alive.  I did not hear the last couple of records so I was excited to hear this one as this is a band that deserves more recognition. The record starts off with the fantastic title track.  The lead guitar is fantastic  and reminds me of Huw Lloyd Langton at times and this song is for sure a bit like 80s Hawkwind. Just with the analog synths were mixed a bit louder!! Brainshaker has an infectious groove and I love the two different guitar parts and how they work on this one.  Beamed is a slower more moody track and also instrumental like Brainshaker. Some lovely guitar and moods.  On a Wave starts slowly but at about 3mins they kick into a more stoner rock feel and some analog space sounds appear out of nowhere and then a new groove starts to emerge and the vocals return.  Great song. Electric I ends this great album. It starts slow melodic and with a nice solo before at 222, the bass comes in with a new heavy vibe and things start to take off and evolve at a faster pace.  What a great record.  Please check this one out!!



http://wheelofsmoke.bandcamp.com





Monday, October 19, 2020

Ozo- Pluto (Drone Rock Records DRR039)


Mike Vest (Bong, Blown Out, Melting Hand, Dodge Meteor, Lush Worker, HaiKai No Ku, Drunk In Hell, Bong, Oblivion Reptilian) is one of the most busy guys on the psych scene.  A lot of his music is just super intense and I can’t say I have heard all of it except for BONG.. I am a big fan of BONG.  Anyway, this is the 3rd album by Ozo in less than a year.  The band features: Karl D’Silva – Alto Sax, Graham Thompson – Drums and Mike Vest – Bass, Guitars and Electric Saz.  So what kind of sound do these guys make?? The opening number has a heavy bass line that sort of leads the way while the sax is playing super intense stuff but mercifully it is mixed into the soundscape and not way too loud.  A bit later a wild guitar kicks in to add to the madness…..  Now, you have the idea.  Thee are some more wild and also moody tracks and while the bio describes this as jazz space rock.. I am not so sure I would call it space rock  as such. It is spaced and they can rock for sure but this is pretty hard to listen to for most people but I am sure they will find a fan base to sell the 300 copies..    Music for mad minds in fucked up places seeking shelter from the asteroids!!

https://ozozozo.bandcamp.com/ 

https://www.facebook.com/Psychdronerock

https://dronerockrecords.com


Måneskjold- De Højest Træer 7” (Self Released)

The Danish Space rock band, Måneskjold (Moon Shield) are back with a new 7” set up to promote their 2nd full length record, due out in December on Kommun 2 records.  Side A is a track. I believe is on the record (   ), while the B-side is a live in the studio track, not on the LP.  De Højeste Træer (The Highest Tree) was recorded at the famous Sweet Silence studio and they worked with Flemming Rasmussen (Metallica, Mercyful Fate, etc..)… The track, really caught me off guard as it does not sound anything like the band and is certainly not space rock! The band still sings in Danish but this is a pretty straight rock and roll song quite melodic, might even get played on Danish radio! Nice guitar mid section.  Flip the record over and this is a bit more raw and psyched out with a track called Fjernsyn (TV).  IT starts with a strange synth (played by Kriller, who also mixed this track) before the band zip off into a strange jam of sorts with noodly guitars and that strange buzzing synth phasing in and out, keeping you a bit off balance. They later mix in a sample in English over the top of a long section while they keep jamming.  It will be interesting to see what the new album is like, more polished and straight or more freaked out like the B-side?? I have no idea.. 

https://maneskjold.bandcamp.com/


Bismut- Retrocausality (Lay Bare Recording LBR031)

  • The Dutch band, Bismut are back with the 2nd full length excursion.  This album is more jammed out with each side just one long track. IT was all recorded in Feb 2020.  I had become friends with these guys when we did some gigs together in Oct 2019 with Black Moon Circle. I played on the last song with them at a couple of shows. It was cool..  It was good to hear some new material back then.  Anyway, the opening track has a bit of doom to it but also a metallic guitar sound. They riff and flow and groove and go.  You just get sucked in over time.  The mid section there are a lot of spaced out guitar effects pedals going wild but the groove and intensity is maintained. The track ends in a very doomy fashion.   The next track Non, starts off really fast with some really intense bass and drums and a killer guitar riff. 

Flip the record over and side B starts with a shorter number that starts slowly and quickens into a rapid rocker. Predvidanie has a mean riff but comes down after 1-2 minutes into a slower pace and more moody. This track has a guitar solo which has so far been rare on this record. It was short and after some effects it is back into the heavy riffing style that makes Bismut! What a killer groove that develops at the end of this track. I can just see the audience banging away!!  Side 3 is one long track called Varasaga. IT starts slowly with just bass and drums and a bit of a mysterious feel to the mood.  This slowly builds up a longer lead guitar section matched with some intense bass lines, while Peter keeps the drums steady.  The riff switches to almost a thrash metal like riff but it ends in a heavy doomy way.  Side 4 features two tracks staring with Vergangenheit. This one is a mind blower with the most intense psyched out sounds of the record and also riffing. Wow….  This is like instrumental SLAYER!!!!  The closing track is a space out with wild sounds and noises..  If you like instrumental heavy metal, you will find it hard to find a better band playing it. Wow..




Lush Worker- Cruise-Uplift-Hb!C MKII (Cruel Nature Records)

This is another Mike Vest project that I have never heard.  The first release under this name was in 2015. This release is a compilation of tracks. Cruise is a 28min track that is primarily droned out spaced out guitar that sort of reverberates, like some of what he plays in Bong at times but with no drums or bass. There is a deep bass or maybe it comes from the guitar that you can feel at times.  Uplift is next and features 5 tracks ranging from 4 to 10mins in length. The sound level and production is a bit different from Cruise and this music is a bit more multi-layered. MK II is again 2 long excursions 20 and 29 mins in length. I have to say, I liked some of this more than Ozo, which is very intense. There is a really cool spacey vibe to this music.  Pretty cool….  Released on a cassette on 50 copies.  Also digital, I guess.. 

https://www.discogs.com/artist/5350083-Lush-Worker
https://lushworker.bandcamp.com/ 


Saturday, October 3, 2020

Yoshiwara Issue 2 (2020)

The Yoshiwara Collective is a group of folks from Belfast that put out this magazine (100 pages- black and white and colour) as well as release music via Pariah Child, arranges shows and other activities.  It has been a tough time the last few years so this issue has been delayed and delayed and while there are some current interviews, the vast majority of the magazine is interviews between 2016-2018 including some really great bands. I learned quite a lot as they ask really unique and deep questions to the artists.  The featured artists are: Deep Space Destructors, Space Debris, Primitive Knot, First Contact, Weltraum, Carlton Melton, Letters from Utrecht, Roslyn Steer, Zhrine, First Contact, Øresund Space Collective and two label articles with Sloow Tapes and Cryo Chamber.  300 printed copies. 

You can pick up a copy at:  http://yoshiwaracollective.co.uk


Oulu Space Jam Collective- Harvest Sage (Adansonia Records AR037)

I love this group. They are sort of a kindred spirit to my own band, Øresund Space Collective and certainly an inspiration for these guys.  Anyway, these guys from the North of Finland have been blazing their own psychedelic space rock path for some years now. This is only their 2nd vinyl release but there are more than 30 other digital releases on their bandcamp site.  The original session from 2017 was 150mins long but the band have chosen just two of the pieces to present here. It is 2 long pieces split over 4 album sides.  It is pretty laid back and organ heavy spaced out music, with only side 4 really rocking a bit more and with some sitar thrown in the mix. I enjoyed this trip very much and it was perfect music to start the day, each day for a few days. Awesome… if you like floating, evolving spaced out music, this is hard to beat. 

http://ouluspacejamcollective.bandcamp.com


 


Pink Floyd in the 70s by George Purvis

 






Monday, August 31, 2020

Son of a Witch- Commanded by Cosmic Forces (Kozmik Artifactz/Death Time Records)


This was released in Brazil in 2019 and only this year by Kozmik Artifactz in Germany on vinyl with a CD as well.  I quite liked some of their first album from 2016 so it was interesting to hear the new one. It features 6 tracks in about 50minutes.  After an intro, the Black Clouds of Lie kicks in with some heavy doom straight off.  Some really powerful vocals by King Lizzard.  The track really kicks off at about 3.5 minutes and after another heavy section the band space out with some cool guitar and bass-drums and then they hit the high tempo stoner rock groove. Killer track. Breathe Dust slows things down a lot. Some long delays on the vocals, which I like as it makes it more psychedelic.  The track changes a lot and becomes more melodic as it heads to the end but not before returning to some epic doom. Idol of Marble starts slowly with the bass leading the way and you keep expecting them to kick into some super heavy doom but they sort of stay in this interesting bluesy slow glide.  Dry Leaves brings the heavy back on this quite emotional track. Melting Ocean closes out this diverse doom rock record.  Great effort guys. Obrigado…..

 


https://kozmik-artifactz.com/

https://sonofawitch666.bandcamp.com/

Head in the Clouds (Frutis de Mer Records- Strange Fish 18 )


This is quite the massive compilation featuring a lot of folks that have not been released on Fruits before as well as some of your usual faves.  IT is being released as a double LP or double CD (with extra track).  It was going to be too expensive to put out a 5LP box set, sorry folks. This is all original material except the Maat Lander track (one of my faves on here) and a nod to the old Berlin school or electronic music. Most but not all tracks are exclusive to this release. Jah Budddha, Craig Padilla and Marvin Allen, Trace Imprint, Saturn’sAmbush, Jack Ellister, Anton Barbeau, Exedra, MAC of BIOnighT, Under Golden Canopy, Son of Ohm, Brenden Pollard, Jay Tausing, The Lost Stoned Pandas, Vibravoid, Sula Bassana, Helicon Wave, Blue Lilly Commission, and Black Tempest.. A lot of groups.. Many hours of synth space outs for long trips on winter nights…. It should be noted that there is no music shared between the LP and CD so to get the full 5hrs you need to buy both!!!  See below for details and also the web site link.  Not sure what tracks were my fave but I really liked the Maat Lander and Vibravoid contributions. 

LP1 side 1 

1 Jah Buddha - Direction Berlin (12:53) 

2 Craig Padilla and Marvin Allen - Aquatic (7:44)


LP1 side 2

1 Trace Imprint - Flow and Connect 

2 Maat Lander - Ocean Of Tenderness (originally by Ashra) 

3 Saturn's Ambush - Van Allen Belt 


LP2 side 1

1 Jack Ellister - Der Schiffer (2:33)

2 Anton Barbeau - 'Berlin School Of Doubt' (6:38)

3 exedra - Exoplanet Transit (5:58)

4 MAC of BIOnighT - Scars (6:45) 


LP2 side 2

1 Under Golden Canopy - Under Golden Canopy (10.33) 

2 Son of Ohm - Pixies (11:49) 


CD1 

1 Craig Padilla and Marvin Allen - Weathering The Storm 

2 Brendan Pollard - Sequenzerzeit (10:02)

3 Jay Tausig - Triangulum (20.42) 

4 Mac of BIOnighT - Manmade Horrors (6.55)

5 The Lost Stoned Pandas - Track One (Metal Mickey mix) (4:42)

6 Jah Buddha - Wall Of Blissando (11:25)

7 Vibravoid - Im Zentrum Des Kosmos Ist Ein Auge Das Alles Sieht (10:35)


CD2 

1 Trace Imprint - ...As We Walked Under Water (4:17) 

2 Sula Bassana - Shushie's Reise (21.29) 

3 Craig Padilla - Galaxia (10:42) 

4 Helicon Wave - For Edgar (8:35) 

5 Blue Lily Commission - Half Asleep At The Blue Gates Of Evening (19:14)

6 Black Tempest - The Sun Rises, The Sun Sets, The Moon Shines (8:18) 


http://www.fruitsdemerrecords.com/clouds.html


Sundial- Mind Control Deluxe Edition (Sulatron 2020)

Sundial released this album about 8 years ago on another label.  This is what you can call a deluxe version that includes an entire new album of material, some of which is archive and some are from the same era as Mind Control. The double CD version includes 2 tracks not on the 2LP version.  There are also two bonus tracks on the regular LP as well. It is quite a cool package and if you liked this album before, you will really like it now.  On this record they returned to work with the producer (Hugo) that they worked with on their Debut album, Other Way Out.  While I did not hear so much of that sound on the original album, some of the bonus tracks for sure sound more like that era, which was nearly 30 years ago now. Wow.. Love Sundial.. Still a creative force today!! Limited to 500 copies. The band and full track list is below. 



Gary Ramon (guitars, vocals, mellotron, mini-moog, arp, hammond organ, drums)

Scorpio (bass guitar, 6-string bass guitar, moog taurus 3 bass pedals)

Conrad Farmer (drums)

Joolie Wood (violin, melodica, flute, bass recorder)

Cleo Ramon (moog source)


Tracklist- Original Mind Control album (Disc 1): 

Mountain Of Fire & Miracles 09:21

Radiation 07:38

Burned In 01:44

Mind Control 08:53

Last Rays Of The Sun 03:53

In Every Dreamhome A Heartache 06:29

Bonustracks compared to first vinyl version:

Seven Pointed Star (short version) 02:51

World Within You 04:29

Tracklist- Flashbacks from the Aether (Disc 2): 

Lost and Found 04:07

I Can Tell 06:33

Liquid Grey 04:00

Seven Pointed Star (full version) 03:06

Fire From Heaven 02:42

Mask Of Dawn (part one) 05:41

Siren Song 03:18

1018a 04:03

Radiation (early mix) 07:39

Mask Of Dawn (part two) 06:33

CD-Bonus Tracks:

Burned In (alternative take) 05:00

Spiral 03:32

 

http://sulatron.com

White Manna- Arc (Cardinal Fuzz Records)


White Manna are back with a new record.  Their last record really blew me away and I think it was perhaps their best ever… This new one, I was not sure what to expect but man, the band have take their psych up another level, again.  The first two tracks remind me a lot of 1970-1971 era Hawkwind but with a 2020 twist!!!  Next is a track with an interesting synth line but they eventually take you to a different universe. There are a bunch of short songs 1-2mins on the record that try to connect your brain back to reality after they blow your mind with each new track.  Sometimes it felt like some of the stuff did not fit together in their cosmic mix but overall this is some serious acid music to transport you to another planet!!! 


http://CFUL.bandcamp.com

http://whitemanna.bandcamp.com

Motorpsycho- All is One (Stickman Records)

What can I say, wow….. Motopsycho have entered into a super creative phase the last 5 years, making the most diverse and best music ever. With this release the band have given us basically two albums. Side A and D are made up of shorter 3-6 mins songs while side C and D are each over 20mins and quite intense mindfuck tracks. They remind me a lot of Magma at times as the band continues to push themselves into new territory.  A lot of violin but also plenty of mellotron on these jammed out tracks and strange vocal arrangements like nothing they have tried before.  What a record. Phew….



http://motorpsycho.no

Electric Moon- Live at Freak Valley (Sulatron st007/Rock Freaks)


Electric Moon played a highly regarded concert at Freak Valley last year that was also filmed by German TV.  Anyway, the CD is released on Sulatron and includes the full concert plus a bonus track recorded for the German TV during their interview section called Der Mondsenator auf dem Weg zur Erde.  While, this record is not going to break new ground the band give the fans exactly what they want, a heavy spaced out psychedelic rock show.   IF you are a fan of Electric Moon’s live albums and there are lots of them they deliver the goods. You get what you expect to get from one of the major bands on the psych circuit. Few are as productive or sell as well as Electric Moon. Take a trip…. Limited to 500 copies.


http://sulatron.com