Thursday, January 12, 2012

Os Efervescentes - Self Titled

I found this Brazilian band over on the Mellofillia blog early last year and have been playing it repeatedly since so I thought it would only be right to share the love.  The band sing entirely in Portuguese, which for some people is an obstacle, (that is foreign language vocals, not specifically Portuguese I hasten to add), like myself, however, it doesn't take long to fly over that hurdle.  This is a superb uptempo album full of charm and grace echoing the sixties garage and Britpop, that, obviously equates to Power Pop, right?  Oh, and one more note to add, play it loud!

Not only are they a superb band but check out how quickly the drummer changes his tie and jacket between beats!

Get it: HERE

The Birds - Collectors' Guide to Rare British Birds

The Birds were one of the hard-luck outfits in the annals of '60s British rock. By reputation, they were one of the top R&B-based outfits in England during the mid-'60s, with a sound as hard and appealing as the Who, the Yardbirds, or the Small Faces. In contrast to a lot of other acts that never charted a hit, the Birds are remembered slightly by some serious fans, and are mentioned in several history books -- but for entirely the wrong reasons. The Birds are remembered for the fact that Ron Wood got his start in the band before moving on to bigger things with the Faces and the Rolling Stones; and that they shared a name, albeit spelled differently, with an American band of considerable prominence. Nobody knows a lot about their music, however, which, on record, consisted of fewer than a dozen songs. Ron Wood (guitar, harmonica, vocals), Tony Munroe (guitar, vocals), and Kim Gardner (bass) grew up within a block of each other, along with original drummer Bob Langham (succeeded by Pete Hocking, aka Pete McDaniels), and had gotten together with lead singer Ali McKenzie to form a band in 1964, while all were in their teens. They were based in Yiewsley in West London, and played the local community center regularly, building up a serious following, which led to their turning professional. The name the Birds came about when they were forced to change their original name, the Thunderbirds, owing to the name of Chris Farlowe's backing band of the period. Their music was hard R&B with a real edge to to it, and was good enough to get them into in a battle-of-the-bands contest held under the aegis of Ready, Steady, Go, the weekly music showcase series. They didn't win, but got a television appearance out of it, on which they were spotted by executives from Decca -- a contract followed, resulting in the recording of their first single, "You Don't Love Me," in November of 1964. Early the following spring, they tried again with a second single, "Leaving Here," which they got to perform on television.

The group seemed poised for success. Their bookings placed them ahead of the Pretty Things and the early Jeff Beck group the Tridents, and they were billed with the Who on some of the same gigs. In that company, there seemed to be no way that they could fail, especially with their sound, a loud, crunchy brand of British rhythm & blues-based rock, roughly akin to early Who, the Yardbirds, and the Kinks.

Disaster struck the band from a completely unexpected quarter -- across the Atlantic -- at in the spring of 1965, however. Fresh off of their first U.S. hit came a Los Angeles-based quintet called the Byrds. Their debut single, "Mr. Tambourine Man," released on the newly established British CBS Records label, was burning up the British charts, and "Leaving Here" by the Birds was left there, on record store shelves (when it was ordered at all). That summer the rival group toured England for the first time, and although the Birds' manager tried to take legal action, it was to no avail -- the spellings were different, and both groups' claim to the name were about equally good. A third Decca single in late 1965 brought their relationship with that label to an end. The group then moved to Reaction Records, at first under the name Birds Birds, but their debut single for the label, "Say Those Magic Words," was delayed in release for almost a year due to a contractual dispute. They also cut a version of Pete Townshend's "Run Run Run" highlighted by Wood's crunchy guitar and McKenzie's punked-out vocals, that could've given the Who a run for their money in a chase up the charts by rival singles. And they got one delightfully bizarre film appearance under their belt, performing a Ron Wood/Tony Munroe song, "That's All I Need," in the horror chiller The Deadly Bees, in 1966. Munroe was out of the band not long after, and Wood left in 1967, passing through the lineup of the Jeff Beck Group before joining the reconfigured (Small) Faces with Rod Stewart in 1969.

The Birds were one of the better bands of their era, as evidenced by the large following they built up from their live performances, playing a hard, loud brand of R&B, with polished vocals and a forceful, crunchy guitar sound. They weren't far removed from the Small Faces or the Who in sound, and perhaps they might've fared better, or had a longer run at success, if they hadn't been signed to a label that already had the Small Faces and the Rolling Stones under contract. The name confusion probably killed whatever chance they had of cracking the English charts, as well as eclipsing their musical virtues for posterity.

Get it: HERE

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Kaleidoscope (UK) - Tangerine Dream

Essentially, this 1967 record from Kaleidoscope combines psychedelic-pop whimsy with early Procol Harum-lyrics, Zombies-harmonies and a touch of Procol Harum. In fact the high points of the record rank right up there with Odyssey and Oracle and any other record of the period. I would not go as far as saying this is a legendary album, but it is amazing at points and maintains a high quality of music throughout, interesting no matter how many times one may listen to it.

On the whole the lyrics on Tangerine Dream are either haunting or nonsense. What keeps them from venturing into the "trite" category is lead singer Peter Daltrey's delivery. He whispers, to great effect, at least parts of each song. Add to that the reverb drenching every syllable and you have something beautiful and relaxing and psychedelic. No matter that he sings on "Please Excuse My Face"

Blushing, smiling through the tears
Please excuse my face/ I feel dead
I'll hide myself away.
This could easily turn rather pathetic quickly. However, the beauty of the acoustic-driven song and the earnest voice of Daltery allows it to come off pleasant, if a sad song can be so (and they can be).

Other very good tracks include "Dive into Yesterday" and "(Further Reflections) in the Room of Percussion," both of which feature time signature changes and uber-psychedelic, "I Am the Walrus" lyrics. Take "Dive into Yesterday,"
Battalions in navy blue are bursting beige balloons
The water pistols are all filled with lemonade
The jester and the goldfish have joined minds above the moon
Oh, please kiss the flowers and you, too, will be safe
What does that mean? And does it matter if the answer is nothing really? The images, as incredible as they are, could be in another language. It would not matter because the overall effect of the music serves to take the listener to another place. And I believe that to be the main point of music in general and psychedelic music in particular.

But my favorite lyric on the whole album is uttered on the awesomely named "(Further Reflections) in the Room of Percussion." Sounding overwhelmed, which I think if one were to travel around in the world of this record would be perfectly understandable, the singer manages to half-sing
My God, the spiders are everywhere...
If you dig 60's psychedelia you will dig "Tangerine Dream," certainly. (Velvet Night Sky Review)

Get It: HERE

Les Fleur De Lys - Reflections

Les Fleur de Lys were a British band originally formed in late 1964, in Southampton, Hampshire, England. They recorded singles beginning in 1965 in the mod-psychedelic music genre, later known as freakbeat. Known for their varied line-ups, only drummer Keith Guster was a member throughout their history. They finally disbanded in 1969. Keyboardist Pete Sears went on to play with Jefferson Starship. Les Fleur de Lys were managed by Atlantic Records' Frank Fenter, who had also discovered Sharon Tandy, the first white artist to record for Stax Records. Together, they produced a string of near-chart hits which later became collectable discs. (wikipedia)

Sprawling 24-track comp of the rare recordings of this enigmatic band. Includes 14 songs issued under the Les Fleur de Lys name, singles that they issued under the Rupert's People, Chocolate Frog, and Shyster pseudonyms, and releases on which they backed Sharon Tandy, John Bromley, and Waygood Ellis. It goes without saying that such a manic hodgepodge is geared toward the hardcore collector market. But if you like mid-to-late '60s mod-psych, it's a decent item to have around, with some sparkling (occasionally crazed) guitar work, unusually constructed tunes that sometimes meld soul and psychedelia, and nice harmonies. "Circles" and "Mud in Your Eye" are first-rate pounding mod guitar tunes; "Gong With the Luminous Nose" is pop-psych at its silliest; "Reflections of Charlie Brown" is pop-psych at its most introspective; and Sharon Tandy's "Daughter of the Sun" is a lost near-classic with witchy vocals and sinister psychedelic guitar. []

Get it: HERE


Gary Walker was the catalyst in bringing the unrelated Walker Brothers to the UK in 1965 where, for a couple of years, they enjoyed commercial success. He had two minor UK hit singles while still a member of the group in 1966. The Walker Brothers split in May 1967 with all three members going solo.[1]
In 1967 he founded Gary Walker and The Rain, which consisted of Joey Molland (guitar and vocals); Charles "Paul" Crane (lead vocals, guitar); and John Lawson (bass guitar). The band only released one album, "Album No.1" A Japanese only release.

Get it: HERE

Johns Children - Smashed Blocked

John's Children were a 1960s pop art/mod rock band from Leatherhead, England that briefly featured future T. Rex frontman Marc Bolan. John's Children were known for their outrageous live performances and were booted off a tour with The Who in Germany in 1967 when they upstaged the headliners. Their 1967 single "Desdemona", a Bolan composition, was banned by the BBC because of the controversial lyric, "Lift up your skirt and fly". Their US record label delayed the release their album, Orgasm for four years from its recording date due to objections from Daughters of the American Revolution.
John's Children were active for less than two years and were not very successful commercially, having released only six singles and one album. But they had a big influence on punk rock and are seen by some as the precursors of glam rock. In retrospect the band has been praised for the impact they had, and their singles have become amongst the most sought-after British 1960s rock collectables. (Wiki)
A must not only for T. Rex archaeologists, but for anyone with a yearning to discover what the best of British freakbeat sounds like, Smashed Blocked! reprises the six months or so that Marc Bolan spent with mod psychedelics John's Children in 1967, adding the group's two earlier 45s (the U.S. hit title track included), and a random selection of rarities and acetates to what would otherwise appear a fairly standard track listing. Most of the titles here have already appeared on a myriad compilations. Did they really need to be released one more time? Appearances can be deceptive. Of the nine (out of 17) tracks that boast some kind of Bolan-ic intervention, only one has previously seen the light of day on official releases: the outtake "Hippy Gumbo." The singles "Midsummer Night's Scene" and "Remember Thomas A. Beckett," together with the post-Bolan "Come and Play With Me in the Garden" and "Jagged Time Lapse," are present as alternate takes with noticeable, if not precisely Earth-shattering differences; "Mustang Ford" and the backing track for "Sally Was an Angel" are familiar only from bootlegs; and the set comes to a shattering conclusion with four cuts from a 1967 BBC session, recorded shortly after drummer Chris Townson returned from a tour with the Who, where he sat in for a poorly Keith Moon. The reproduction is no better than the crunchy-sounding bootleg EP that appeared in the late '80s, and may even come from the same source. But at least it won't deteriorate any further. To this already mouthwatering selection can be added the original acetate pressing for "Smashed Blocked," still laboring beneath its working title of "The Love I Thought I'd Found," and the group's "lost" third Columbia label single, the fuzz-drenched "Not the Sort of Girl You'd Take to Bed." There's also a reprise of "Strange Affair," without the pointless backward tape effects found on the Orgasm album release, plus another chance to hear Jeff Beck's crucial solo in the B-side "But She's Mine." And while the John's Children catalog still cries out for a decent housekeeping job, but at least the component parts are now in place. Around the same time as this album was released, a copy of the original "Midsummer Night Scene" 45 sold in England for over 4,000 dollars. Smashed Blocked! grants the opportunity to hear what all that fuss is about for considerably less outlay than that. (AMG)

Get it: HERE

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Singles - Better Than Before

The Singles are a well-dressed foursome of guys barely in their twenties who hail from garage rock central U.S.A., better known on the map as Detroit, MI. They don't have much in common with the others bands on the scene except for a lot of energy in their approach and a healthy respect for the past. Instead of looking to the Stooges or the blues for inspiration, the Singles look to classic pop sources like the Beatles, the Who, the Kinks, Buddy Holly, and the Flamin' Groovies (bass player Dave Lawson even resembles Groovie guitarist Cyril Jordan circa 1976) for their inspiration. Main Single Vince Frederick writes unswervingly snappy tunes and delivers the chirpy vocals with just the right amount of teenage angst. The tracks alternate hard-charging beat rockers like "No More Places (Left to Go)," the Buddy Holly-channeling "See You Again," and the tambourine-shaking "He Can Go, You Can Stay" with sensitive beat ballads like "Waited So Long" (which has a monster guitar solo by Will Yates), "Since You've Been Gone," and the lilting "There's Nothing Wrong When I'm With You." Better Than Before rushes past in a blur of melody, harmony, and energy without a single weak song, and thanks to Jim Diamond's clean but not sterile production the record sounds live and alive. While the Singles have a way to go before they match their idols, their debut record gets them off on the right foot. Fans of power pop, guitar pop, garage pop, and just plain pop should check these kids out. They may not be better than before, but they are better than a lot of today. -AMG