Amoeblog

One Album Wonders: Armageddon

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 7, 2015 03:46pm | Post a Comment
This week’s One Album Wonder is Armageddon, a short-lived heavy rock band led by Keith Relf which proved to be the singer's last. In Armageddon, Relf was joined by Robert Caldwell (drums), Louis Cennamo (bass guitar), and Martin Pugh (guitar).

*****


Relf was a noteworthy English singer, guitarist, and harmonica player. He was born 22 March 1943 in Richmond, Surrey and started performing music around 1956. Although severely asthmatic he picked up the harmonica in imitation of his hero, Sonny Boy Williamson. In 1963 he formed The Yardbirds. Although today The Yardbirds seem best remembered for launching the careers of Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page, they were undoubtedly one of the most important of British Invasion bands, responsible along with The Beatles, The Kinks, and The Rolling Stones with introducing countless white teenagers to the black American music which they'd till then ignored and inspiring thousands of them to form rock bands in suburban garages throughout the Anglosphere.

The Yardbirds' two biggest hits, “For Your Love” and “Heart Full of Soul” were written by the great Graham Gouldman (of The Mockingbirds and later, The Mindbenders, 10cc, and Wax) but Relf co-wrote many of their originals, including “Shapes of Things,” “I Ain't Done Wrong,” “Over Under Sideways Down,” and "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago.” As the 1960s progressed, Relf's songs began moving away from their blues base toward folky psychedelia and classical music-inspired progressive rock. Relf left The Yardbirds in 1968 he and fellow-former Yardbird Jim McCarty formed the acoustic duo, Together, which released a single, “Henry's Coming Home” b/w “Love Mum And Dad” that failed to find an audience.

Next McCarty, Relf, and Relf’s sister, Jane, formed Renaissance in 1969, rounded out by pianist John Hawken and Louis Cennamo. They released two albums, Renaissance and Illusion. Illusion was recorded in 1970 as the band was falling apart. The last of the original members had left by the end of the year and Illusion was originally only released in Germany, in 1971. It wouldn't be released in the UK until 1977, a yaer after Relf's untimely death. 

After Renaissance's demise, Relf first moved into production, working with bands including Amber, Hunter Muskett, Saturnalia, and Medicine Head (with whom he also played bass guitar). Another band he produced was Worthing-based blues rock band, Steamhammer, which included Cennamo and guitarist Martin Pugh. Steamhammer called it quits in 1973 and Relf, Pugh, and Cennamo moved to Los Angeles. There they formed Armageddon with Robert Caldwell, a drummer from Florida who’d played with Noah’s Ark, Johnny Winter And, and most recently, Captain Beyond -- a band which featured former members of Iron Butterfly and Deep Purple.



Armageddon were recommended to A&M by Dee Anthony and Peter Frampton (who’d played with Cennamo in mod group, The Herd). A&M agreed to sign Armageddon and in the autumn of 1974 the band recorded their eponymous debut at Olympic Studios in Barnes. It was released in May 1975 (it was issued on compact disc by Repertoire in 1998 and Esoteric in 2009) and was a move into the sort of heavy rock which The New Yardbirds (and later Led Zeppelin) had made after Relf’s departure. The results were loose and jammy and the album only contains five songs, four of which are over eight minutes long.


Armageddon didn't last long, however. Caldwell, at the time, suffered from a heroin addiction and he and Pugh were at odds with Cenammo and Relf, both of whom preferred meditation to hard drugs. Armageddon split up before they could promote the album at all and, not surprisingly, it sold poorly. 

Armageddon's Armageddon (1975)

Relf returned to England to recover from a life-threatening asthma-related illness and with thoughts of rejoining the original members of Renaissance. He recorded what proved to be his swan song, “All the Falling Angles” but tragically died on 14 May 1976, electrocuted in the basement of his home whilst playing his improperly grounded guitar. He was just 33 years old.

With Armageddon no more and the name Renaissance being used by a new line-up of musicians, Cennamo re-joined the original members of Renaissance (minus Keith Relf, of course) as Illusion. Caldwell returned to Captain Beyond (and later, it should be noted, completely quit drugs). Pugh seems to have retired for many years from life as a professional musician although in the 2000s he re-emerged with Hawaii-based rock band, 7th Order.


Follow me at ericbrightwell.com

Composer Carl Stone's Personal Record Collection For Sale at Amoeba Hollywood

Posted by Rick Frystak, October 3, 2014 01:01am | Post a Comment

Amoeba Hollywood has purchased one of the finest record collections that I have ever set eyes upon in my record store days (and that's about 13,870 days)!! Here we have obscure gems aplenty, many I've only seen perhaps once in my life, but here they are, side by side with records I've never ever seen before, and ones previously only legendary. In other words, a wonderful, rare collection!!!

Yes friends, I have negotiated a mutually satisfactory agreement that has allowed Amoeba to obtain the personal record collection of Mr. Carl Stone himself. Yes, THAT Carl Stone, composer and electronic sound artist extraordinaire, 21st-Century cultural icon, and truly a connoisseur of recorded sound in the left-of-center areas of many genres, and they are all here in the collection for sale in Amoeba's Hollywood store beginning the weekend of October 11 & 12: Avant Garde, Electronic, Musique Concrete, Experimental, Renaissance, Baroque, Medieval, Classical, New Music, World music, Jazz, No Wave, New Wave, Power Pop, Punk rock, Post-Punk, Industrial, and various "roots" musics.  All are original 1st pressings of mostly small, independent labels with loads of private pressings and imports.

Just, like, two words: mind blowing!!

This array of breathtaking LPs reflect Carl's usual pattern of being dead-center, ground zero, really at the apex of "what's happening" in music, never more true than in the pre-CD days of  this collection...a forward-thinking and quite wide-minded person's...one that doesn't come along very often. Don't think for a second that Professor Stone hasn't been feeding a constant, perhaps life-sustaining hunger to hear for himself the latest, most creatively interesting and challenging music (and in his case, even the sound of a big-piped sports car or machinery), from all over the world and across all genres. I presume he always has, and this collection of vinyl reveals that fact in every liner note and cover spine. Collectors like this are searchers, never quite satisfied with what is, what was, or even what "shall" be, barely trusting word of mouth and the writing on the walls. We collectors shake down anything that could offer that special chord combination, the emotional rush, the personal spirituality button pushed, or a memory bubbling over God-knows-how and why. Often these elusive platters make just a brief appearance in our airspace, only to become a faded memory, "Yeah, I saw that once at Amoeba…", or more likely, a 3 a.m.-tossing-and-turning-I'm-going-back-first-thing-in-the-morning-I-hope-it's-still-there angst-filled moment. Carl looked high, low, in, out and around for significant records. Carl got beaucoup promos sent to him. Carl had people hold things for him. Artists sent Carl their records out of the blue. Carl impulse-bought. Good record labels covered Carl. Carl special ordered records. Carl travelled the world and bought records as meals for his soul.

Continue reading...

(In which we... Wait... Did you hear that? Hold on and AAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!)

Posted by Job O Brother, October 30, 2012 01:10pm | Post a Comment


"What you should be scared of is Romney's plan for those of us in the working class!"


It’s been just long enough since last year’s Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup hangover to allow me to look forward to another Halloween. Assuming I will have learned nothing from previous celebrations, I’ll undoubtedly be purchasing an extra big bag of candy under the pretence of preparing for trick-or-treaters, knowing full well that, in the five years I’ve lived here, I’ve gotten exactly one caller.

Let me tell you though – that one trick-or-treater made me so excited I gave him three huge handfuls of candy; enough that both he and his mother looked a little concerned; there was almost certainly an after-hours comb-through to search for pins and poison in the hoard I’d bestowed.

I’m digressing here, but why hasn’t anyone invented candy pins? Am I alone in thinking that would be neat?


Still better than Necco Wafers!

Every year I assemble folks to watch horror films and eat candy. I don’t yet know what we’ll be watching (last year it was Susperia) but I am ready with a playlist of atmospheric Halloween music, some of which I’ll share with you…

First, nothing fills out a Halloween playlist better than a hearty dose of organ music by the baddest mutterficker of baroque: Johann Sebastian Bach.

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"What I like to hear blow," Job says.

Posted by Job O Brother, January 25, 2010 04:58pm | Post a Comment

Stevie Nicks, one of many people not mentioned in the following blog post

Gee whiz, I sure do like sackbuts.

Now there’s a sentence you weren’t expecting! In fact, I’m willing to bet you never once considered whether or not someone would one day write that sentence. As far as that goes, it’s a sentence right up there with, “That’s a lovely cancer you’ve got growing on your blouse,” or “Honey, would you mind moving to Atlantis yesterday?” or even, “That George Bush sure was a fine President.”

Come to think of it, there’s millions of sentences we never expect to read or hear.

But who cares? Not me. So moving on...

I like sackbuts.

I know some of you readers are assuming that “sackbut” is a word that I made up for the express purpose of being silly, which goes to show how little you understand my blog which is NOTHING BUT ABSOLUTELY FACTUAL ALL THE TIME.

A sackbut is an earlier form of trombone, dating from the Renaissance to Baroque era in popularity. In sound it is similar to trombones, but is more delicate and etheric, though only by comparison.

It was invented by Albern Heißen. Legend has it that Heißen was so vexed at having to hear his neighbor, Ärgerlich Nachbarn (formost cymbal player of Saxony) practice his craft, that he invented an instrument that could rival the cymbal in terms of sleep-ruining. What Heißen didn’t realize was that his neighbor was quite deaf, having lost his hearing after dying from Plague. No matter how often or how loud Heißen would blow his sackbut, Nachbarn continued with his cymbal crashing.


Albern Heißen, inventor and Playgirl's Centerfold for 1529

This was back when traveling hordes of Mexicans would roam Northern Europe, fruitlessly looking for a warm place to settle down and “exist” in. The Mexicans – known as “Protestants” in those days – happened to hear Heißen and Nachbarn’s “duet” and quickly sought to learn how to re-create it. This led to the sackbut’s spread of popularity throughout Europe, while simultaneously sparking the Thirty Years War, after Jaroslav Bořita z Martinic and Vilém Slavata z Chlumu a Košumberka gave an impromptu performance of a (then scandalous) sackbut sonata at Hradčany Castle, which ended in their being tossed out a window into a pile of manure*.


Early music critics

Eventually, sackbuts lost out to the better tasting and lower calorie trombone, which remains popular to this day.

Even so, there are still some groups of musicians who play and record this instrument of yore. One of my favorite such groups is His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts, who have a spiffy selection of compact discs available.

And, at the risk of… erm… tooting our own horn, Amoeba Music Hollywood actually has a sackbut section you could check out. It’s located in Classical Music. The sackbut section is small, but it’s there!

I hope you enjoy discovering this neat instrument as much as I have. In the words of sackbut affectionado Martin Luther:

“Der Hut Ich trage sieht aus wie eine hängende, dunkle Pfannkuchen!”







*This is the origin of that famous schoolyard chant, “See-saw one, see-saw two, play with a ‘but, get a bunch-a poo!”