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San Francisco Great Society: Summer of Love, 8/31

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, August 26, 2019 05:18pm | Post a Comment

Big Brother & the Holding CompanyAmoeba joins San Francisco Great Society for Summer of Love, a night showcasing the best in Bay Area psychedelic music, on Saturday, August 31st at Public Works. Headlining Summer of Love is one of the most legendary blues rock bands from the first psych wave of San Francisco, Big Brother & the Holding Company, along with current underground bands Rose, Psychic Mind, and Bolero, plus psychedelic visuals by Donovan Drummond and a dance party till 3am!

Get your tickets HERE!

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.


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One Album Wonders: The Zodiac

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 17, 2015 11:07am | Post a Comment


Zodiac
 were a studio group who released one album, Cosmic Sounds - Celestial Counterpoint with Words and Music, in May 1967. The members of Zodiac were respected session musicians Bud Shank, Carol Kaye, Cyrus Faryar, Emil RichardsHal Blaine, and Paul Beaver. Each song is devoted to the signs of Chaldean astronomical zodiac. The music was written by Canadian synthesizer pioneer Mort Garson
The spoken word narration was penned by Jacques Wilson and are narrated by Faryar in a voice reminiscent of Jim Morrison's who as part of The Doors, had recorded their debut in 1966 and released it in January 1967 to great acclaim.

The success of The Doors was a primary inspiration for the project. Elektra head Jac Holzman came up with the concept and hired Alex Hassilev, a member of The Limeliters, to produce. Hassilev brought Mort Garson to the project -- the two had just formed a production company together.

*****

Morton S. "Mort" Garson was born 20 July 1924 in Sain John, Canada and was a Cancer. He moved to New York City where he studied music at the Juilliard School of Music. He worked as an arranger and pianist. After serving in World War II he worked as a session musician. While working on Cosmic Sounds Garson met Robert Moog and as a result featured his Moog synthesizer heavily in the arrangements, played by Paul Beaver. Garson died of renal failure in San Francisco in 2008.

Clifford Everett “Bud” Shank, Jr. was a jazz flutist, saxophonist, and a Gemini. He was born 27 May 1926 in Dayton, Ohio and attended the University of North Carolina between 1944-1946 then moved to California where he studied with Shorty Rogers and played in the bands of Charlie Barnet and Stan Kenton. In the 1960s he primarily worked as a studio musician in Los Angeles. In the 1970s he formed The LA Four. He died on 2 April 2009 in Tucson, Arizona.

Carol Kaye was born Carol Smith on 24 March 1935 in Everett, Washington. She is a bass guitarist and Aries. In the 1950s she played in nightclubs before being paired with Sam Cooke in 1957. As a member of the celebrated Wrecking Crew she was one of the most widely recorded session bassists and has over 10,000 credits. She retired from recording in the 1970s due to arthritis.

Cyrus Faryar was born 26 February 1936 in Tehran and is a Pisces. He was raised in Honolulu, Hawaii and after college operated the Greensleeves coffee house, a haven for beatniks. He moved to Southern California in the 1950s. After Dave Guard quit The Kingston Trio, the two briefly played together in The Whiskeyhill Singers. That group quickly disbanded and returned to Hawaii Faryar co-founded the Modern Folk Quartet in 1962. He released two solo records in the 1970s but worked primarily as a session musician and producer.

Emil Richards (né Emilio Joseph Radocchia) was born 2 September 1932 in Hartford, Connecticut and is a Virgo. He began playing xylophone when he was six and later graduated from the Julius Hartt School of Music. He played in various ensembles in New England and New York before settling in Los Angeles in 1959 where we was in demand as a session player.

Hal Blaine (né Harold Simon Belsky) was born 5 February 1929 in Holyoke, Massachusetts and is an Aquarius. He played drums with several bands before finding steady work as a session musician for Capitol Records as a member of the Wrecking Crew. Though mostly uncredited he recorded the drums on more than 40 number one hits.

Paul Beaver was born in Ohio in 1926. He was a session musician especially associated with the Moog synthesizer which he played on releases by The Byrds and The Monkees. In 1966 he co-founded the electronic pop group Beaver & Krause. In the 1970s, with Ruth White, Beaver co-founded the The Electronic Music Association in the 1970s. Beaver died in 1975. 

*****



The music, as one might expect, is groovy in the extreme. So too is the album art, by Abe Gurvin. The album contains instructions for the the listener, “Must be played in the dark.” The music seems likely to have inspired The Moody Blues’s Days of Future Passed, Louise Huebner's Seduction Through Witchcraft, and the rock musical, Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical. I wonder if the Zodiac Killer owned a copy! 

Garson and Hassilev had planned to do a series of concept albums and they began working on The Sea with Rod McKuen but McKuen left the project and recorded his own version with Anita Kerr and The San Sebastian Strings for Warner Bros. Hassilev produced The Dusk 'Till Dawn Orchestra's Sea Drift, with Garson conducting. Garson and Wilson re-teamed in 1968 for The Wozard Of Iz album, produced by Bernie Krause and released on A&M and a series of twelve follow-up albums; one for each astrological sign. Cosmic Sounds is long out of print on vinyl but was reissued on aluminum compact disc by the Water label in 2002.

*****

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One album wonders: Blue Phantom's Distortions

Posted by Eric Brightwell, January 26, 2015 06:56am | Post a Comment

BLUE PHANTOM'S DISTORTIONS (1971)

During the Album Era (mid 1960s-mid 2000s), the LP was the dominant form of recorded music expression and consumption. Some bands recorded just one album during their time and, whether popular or not, they are the so-called one album wonders



*****



 

Blue Phantom were an instrumental group (or project) who released one album, Distortions, in 1972. Although instrumental, there's something about the sound that undeniably speaks to the fact that it's the work of Italians. Maybe it's the slightly swing and gentle funkiness paired with dark, creepy atmosphere that reminds me both of Goblin's work and Ennio Morricone's score for The Exorcist II (both of which Blue Phantom pre-dated) but that Blue Phantom were Italian is almost all that is known about them. 

Blue Phantom were most likely not a band in the normal sense. Rather they were probably a group of musicians assembled by violinist, conductor, and composer, Armando Sciascia. Armando Michalaros Sciascia was born 16 June, 1920 in Lanciano, Italy. He graduated from the Conservatorio di Pesaro and afterward moved to Milan where he played with the orchestras of the Teatro Nuovo and Pomeriggi Musicali.

He formed his own orchestra who in 1952 (as Armando Sciascia e La Sua Orchestra) released the 10" "Poema" b/w "Non Vedo Che Te" on Fonit. In 1953, on 10" split with Orquesta Malatesta, Sciascia and company (as Orquesta De Conciertos Sciascia) released four songs through the Telefunken label. Sciascia began composing film scores for documentaries in the 1960s with 1961's Tropico di notte and the 1962's Mondo caldo di notte and Sexy

In 1962 Sciascia formed the label Vedette, which was home to Equipe 84, Gian Pieretti, and Pooh -- all of form whom Sciascia composed employing the noms de disques "H. Tical" for music and "Pantros" for lyrics. Sciascia continued composing film scores until 1966, when his last score proved to be for the film 3 colpi di Winchester per Ringo. Vedette, meanwhile, expanded into a series of imprints devoted to various genres and including Albatros, Ars Nova, Fox, I Dischi Dello Zodiaco, JAM Record, Musiche Per Sonorizzazioni E Programmi, Phase 6 Super Stereo, Pineapple Records, Quadrifoglio, Quadrifoglio International, and Spider Records.

One album wonders: The United States of America's The United States of America

Posted by Eric Brightwell, January 19, 2015 06:23am | Post a Comment
 THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA - THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (recorded 1967, released 1968)



During the Album Era (mid 1960s-mid 2000s), the LP was the dominant form of recorded music expression and consumption. Some bands recorded just one album during their time and, whether popular or not, they are the so-called one album wonders




*****


The focus of this edition of one album wonders is United States of America, a band formed and led byJoseph Byrd for a couple of years in the late 1960s. Their sole album, United States of America, only reached 181 on the Billboard charts after its released but has in the years since achieved well-deserved cult status. 


Byrd was a composer born in Louisville, Kentucky and raised in Tucson, Arizona. In Arizona he’d played in various popcountry, and jazz ensembles before moving to California to attend Stanford University. At Stanford he met avant-garde composer La Monte Young. After relocating to New York, La Monte Young and Yoko Ono curated a series of performances, the Chambers Street loft concerts, which featured pieces by Henry Flynt, Jackson Mac Low, and Byrd -- part of the embryonic art scene which would eventually emerge as the Fluxus movement.

In 1963, Byrd began a relationship with Dorothy Moskowitz and the two relocated to Los Angeles where at UCLA Byrd co-founded the New Music Workshop with Don EllisCraig Woodson, and others. Four years later, in 1967, Byrd recruited Moskowitz (the two had by then separated) to sing in a band he'd formed with Woodson (on percussion), called United States of America. Other early members included Michael Agnello and Stu Brotman (bassist in Canned Heat and Kaleidoscope). The band were later joined by Gordon Marron (electric violin and ring modulator), and Rand Forbes (bass).


In December, 1967 the United States of America recorded what was to be their sole album, an eponymous concept album. Some reviews have suggested that there was nothing else like the United States of America at the time, which overstates their experimentalism and gives the impression that the band were something other than what they really where, which was a top psychedelic band with heavy use of electronics. The results aren't entirely dissimilar to those of bands like Fifty Foot HoseThe Fugs, Jefferson Airplane, The Red Crayola, and Silver Apples



Lead track "The American Metaphysical Circus," for example, emerges from a cacophonous collage of circus music into something from the same corner of the universe as The Monkees' "Porpoise Song (Theme from Head)." "Hard Coming Love," released as the album's single, is acid rock, albeit acid rock which prominently features violin and electronics. At other times the album sounds like a more left field Left Banke or The Beatles' "A Day in the Life." In other words, one foot is solidly on pop ground -- which is by no means a slight, but rather a counter to the narrative offered by some less charitable reviewers that the band's music is "just noise," which is far from true.



The recording of the album included contributions from Ed Bogas on keyboards, who signed on as a full-time member when the band toured the East Coast. In 1968, another single single “The Garden of Earthly Delights” b/w “Love Song For The Dead Ché” was only released in Europe. The band's tour was apparently plagued with difficulties. The early synthesizers could be described as temperamental and three members were arrested in Orange County for possession of marijuana before a performance, which left Byrd and Moskowitz alone to perform on the concert. After the tour the band members went their separate ways.



Byrd formed Joe Byrd & the Field Hippies (who were incidentally another one-album wonder), and went on to release two solo albums in the mid-1970s, A Christmas Yet to Come and Yankee Transcendoodle. He also scored several films (Agnès Varda's Lions Love, Bruce Clark's 1971 The Ski Bum, and and Robert Altman's H.E.A.L.T.H) and taught music courses at several colleges. Moskowitz (later Moskowitz-Falarski) performed with Country Joe McDonald's All-Star Band and later taught music in the San Francisco Bay area. Marron worked as a Los Angeles studio musician and later moved Hawaii. Woodson too has taught music and performed with the Kronos Quartet. Forbes pursued work in computers. Rogas composed music for several animated works, most infamously (with Ray Shanklin), Fritz the Cat. Since 1992, The United States of America has been issued and re-issued on compact disc several times and in 2008, on hi-def vinyl by Sundazed.


*****


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