Sunday, July 14, 2019

Steps Ahead - 1984 "Modern Times"

Steps Ahead is a jazz fusion group formed by vibraphonist Mike Mainieri in the 1970s. The lineup consisted of Mainieri, Michael Brecker, Don Grolnick, Eddie Gómez, and Steve Gadd and would change often over the years. Steps Ahead fused elements of rock, funk, jazz, and rhythm and blues.

By 1984, Steps Ahead's personnel had stabilized with original keyboardist Warren Bernhardt rejoining the group and teaming up with tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker, bassist Eddie Gomez, drummer Peter Erskine, and vibraphonist Mike Mainieri; guitarist Chuck Loeb guests on one selection, as does Tony Levin, who is heard on the Chapman stick. This outing is very electronic and does not quite reach the heights of Steps Ahead's earlier Elektra album, but it certainly has plenty of spirit and power.

Michael Brecker formed Steps Ahead (originally Steps) with fellow New York masters vibraphonist Mike Mainieri and bassist Eddie Gomez, put together initially for the Japanese market. Steve Gadd was their original drummer, replaced in the early ’80s by Weather Report man Peter Erskine.

Steps Ahead’s self-titled debut album showcased a mostly-acoustic fusion sound, but the follow-up Modern Times embraced all sorts of ’80s technology to intriguing effect. Of course such tinkering opens it up to sounding somewhat dated these days, but at least the album has ambition, quality compositions and the kind of attention to detail that makes it an interesting companion piece to key mid-’80s works like The Flat Earth, Hounds Of Love, Boys And Girls and So.

Opener ‘Safari’ kicks off with a vaguely Caribbean/reggae groove featuring a multitude of synths and sequencers and a tribal, almost Zawinulesque melody. With repeated listens there are many pleasures to be found; Brecker’s typically incisive tenor solo, Erskine’s subtly-building groove work, the slinky bass line which rumbles on throughout.

Equally arresting is pianist Warren Bernhardt’s title track, a modal piece built over another serpentine, sequenced line, developing into a series of lovely vignettes featuring Brecker’s solos and some very Steely Dan-ish chord progressions. Mainieri’s composition ‘Old Town’ features King Crimson/Peter Gabriel sideman Tony Levin playing some menacing Stick over the sort of exotic, ambient groove Bryan Ferry would utilise on Boys And Girls a year later. And ‘Radio-Active’ taps into some of the World vibes Peter Gabriel investigated throughout the ’80s.

Unfortunately a few tunes let the side down, drifting uncomfortably into smooth jazz territory. Mainieri’s composition ‘Self Portrait’ is almost saved by a lyrical Brecker solo but far too saccharine for my tastes, while Erskine’s ‘Now You Know’ features a melody line (Brecker on soprano) which, though memorable, veers scarily towards Kenny G.

And it has to be said that Eddie Gomez’s role in the band was diminishing very fast, so anonymous is his contribution. He would be gone by the next album Magnetic, replaced by ex-Weather Report man Victor Bailey.

In Modern Times‘ liner notes, Peter Erskine thanks someone for their help with click tracks, and that concept in itself would probably turn off a big section of the ‘jazz’ audience. But some arresting compositions, tribal grooves and typically tasty Brecker solos ensure that one’s attention never strays for long. Modern Times is a key jazz album of the ’80s, albeit one that would probably have given most of the Young Lions nightmares…

Released in 1984, Modern Times, the group's second album as Steps Ahead, was a radical departure from their self-titled debut. Unlike the first album's mostly acoustic textures, Modern Times is a high-tech, futuristic, jazz-of-tomorrow fusion masterpiece. While many have used sequencers, throbbing synth-bass, and programmed percussion in a jazz context, to this day no one has done it better than this group on this album. Strong compositions, impassioned performances, and early DDD production are married to otherworldly yet urban atmospheres to create one of the best albums any of these distinguished players has ever appeared on.

Steps Ahead were always Mike Mainieri's group, and he is the only player to appear on every album. "Oops" and "Self Portrait" are classic Mainieri compositions: long-lined unforgettable melodies, loud/soft contrasts, quirky bridges, outstanding solos over synth splashes, and sudden endings. His two other songs on this album are a bit more eclectic. "Radio Active" is mostly programmed (special guest: Craig Peyton) and showcases Michael Brecker's multi-tracked licks and best soloing on the album. "Old Town" includes drumbox, gurgling synth loops, Tony Levin on the Chapman Stick, and Mainieri's marimba solo. Ubiquitous drummer Peter Erskine contributes the smooth "Now You Know" with guest (and future band member) Chuck Loeb on guitar, an exquisite Warren Bernhardt piano solo, and Brecker making a rare appearance on soprano sax. Brecker's only composition, "Safari", also features his soprano work before moving to the tenor and a brilliant Mainieri vibraphone solo. Bernhardt's "Modern Times" opens with intricate synth patterns and includes an Eddie Gomez bass solo that's almost drowned in the mix. In the interest of full disclosure, it should be mentioned here that while credited as a full band member, Gomez can only be heard on "Oops", "Modern Times", and "Now You Know". Not surprisingly, he has not appeared on another Steps Ahead album since.

While the shock of high-technology no doubt alienated some listeners, the gamble has paid off in that this album still sounds very, well, MODERN and contemporary over 30 years after its original release. Future Steps Ahead albums would never recapture the innovative, imaginative quality of Modern Times, and would add vocals and a revolving-door line-up that could never hold a candle to this original jazz "supergroup". If you're at all familiar with the players, Modern Times will provide a lifetime's worth of listening pleasure.

Track listing:

1     Safari     6:58
2     Oops     6:20
3     Self Portrait     6:02
4     Modern Times     6:17
5     Radio-Active     8:49
6     Now You Know     6:25
7     Old Town     6:19


    Bass – Eddie Gomez
    Chapman Stick – Tony Levin (tracks: 7)
    Drums, Percussion, Electronic Drums [DMX] – Peter Erskine
    Guitar – Chuck Loeb (tracks: 6)
    Keyboards – Warren Bernhardt
    Synthesizer [Additional] – Michael Brecker (tracks: 1), Michael Mainieri* (tracks: 2, 3, 7)
    Synthesizer, Electronic Drums [DMX], Bass [Pro 1] – Craig Peyton (tracks: 5)
    Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone – Michael Brecker
    Vibraphone [Vibes], Marimba, Synthesizer [Synthi-vibe] – Mike Mainieri

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Randy Brecker with Michael Brecker - 2005 "Some Skunk Funk" (Live)

Some Skunk Funk is an album, recorded live in 2003, by Randy Brecker and Michael Brecker. In 2006 it won Grammy Awards for Best Jazz Instrumental Solo (Michael Brecker) and Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album.

The 2003 performance documented on Some Skunk Funk may be credited to trumpeter Randy Brecker, but his brother, saxophonist Michael, joins in for a Brecker Brothers reunion with the added oomph of Germany's WDR Big Band. And if ever a band's repertoire was custom-made to be retrofitted with a larger horn section, it's that of the Brecker Brothers. Some of the material comes from Randy Brecker's solo career: "Shanghigh" and "Let It Go" from 34th N Lex (ESC, 2003), "Wayne Out" from Hanging in the City (ESC, 2001), and a new tune, "Let It Go." But what's remarkable is how comfortably these tunes fit in with Brecker Brothers material on Brecker Bros. (Arista, 1975) through Out of the Loop (GRP, 1994).

The Brecker Brothers emerged as a distinct alternative to the muscular athletics of other fusion bands during the 1970s. As virtuosic as any such group, they played a swaggering downtown New York funk that differentiated them from the higher-octane Mahavishnu Orchestra, the progressive rock leanings of Return to Forever, and the increasingly world music-driven Weather Report. Even the band closest to the Breckers' brand of groove-driven music—Herbie Hancock's Headhunters—occupied a different space.

Maybe it's because the brothers didn't feel it necessary to desert the more jazz-centric harmonies they'd learned playing with artists like Horace Silver. As electric and funky as the Brecker Brothers have always been, their jazz aesthetic has also distinguished them from peer fusion bands, making their best material truly timeless. Three of the ten tunes on this album—the fiery title track, the greasier "Sponge" and the balladic "Levitate"—are taken from their 1975 debut, and they sound as relevant today as they did then.

Credit, of course, goes to Vince Mendoza—who arranged and conducted the tracks for this expanded Brecker Brothers Big Band. The Breckers' writing has always been characterized by rich orchestration—sometimes feeling much bigger than their small ensemble size would suggest. Mendoza's unique voice takes Michael's viscerally funky "Strap-hangin,'" for example, and layers more colors where appropriate, still twisting the arrangement into a new shape that feels like a logical extension, rather than an extensive rewrite.

But with a crack core group featuring keyboardist Jim Beard, bassist Will Lee and drummer Peter Erskine, Mendoza also lets the ensemble collapse into smaller, more interactive units where appropriate during the solo sections. Solos from both brothers build on their own. Mendoza reintroduces the horn section at just the right time, pushing them to even greater extremes. And when the two brothers trade off during the song's outro, they remind us of just how powerful shared genetics can be.

The Brecker Brothers join forces for a set of mostly high-powered originals at a concert in 2003. Their post-bop music is generally funky (although "Freefall" is an uptempo cooker) and sometimes a bit bombastic yet is never predictable. Trumpeter Randy Brecker and tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker take many fiery solos while also sounding warm on ballads. They are supported by a particularly strong rhythm section. In addition, the WDR Big Band contributes 14 horns and a guitar to accompany the core group. The individual songs may not be overly memorable (although "Some Skunk Funk" has been getting covered by other musicians) but the Breckers' solos are full of exciting moments.

The rare blood disorder that has kept Michael Brecker on the sidelines for nearly two years makes Some Skunk Funk a bittersweet experience.

Track listing:

All tracks written by Randy Brecker except where noted.

01.    "Some Skunk Funk"    5.51
02.    "Sponge"    4.05
03.    "Shanghigh"    6.40
04.    "Wayne Out"    4:56
05.    "And Then She Wept"    6:07
06.    "Strap Hangin'" (Michael Brecker)    8:18
07.    "Let It Go"    8:02
08.    "Freefall"    6:17
09.    "Levitate"    4:58
10.    "Song for Barry" (Michael Brecker)    10:32


    Michael Brecker – tenor saxophone
    Randy Brecker – trumpet
    Vince Mendoza – conductor, arranger
    Will Lee – bass guitar
    Jim Beard – piano, synthesizer
    Peter Erskine – drums
    Marcio Doctor – percussion
    Koji Paul Shigihara – guitar

    WDR Big Band:
    Rob Bruynen – trumpet
    Andy Haderer – trumpet
    Rick Kiefer – trumpet
    John Marshall – trumpet
    Klaus Osterloh – trumpet
    David Horler – trombone
    Bernt Laukamp – trombone
    Ludwig Nuss – trombone
    Mattis Cederberg – bass trombone
    Harold Rosenstein – alto saxophone
    Heiner Wiberny – alto saxophone
    Olivier Peters – tenor saxophone
    Rolf Römer – tenor saxophone
    Jens Neufang – baritone saxophone

Brand X - 2017 "But Wait...There's More!" / LIVE 2017

 Brand X's first release in 20 years finds original members Percy Jones and John Goodsall joined by former drummer Kenwood Dennard (Livestock), plus Chris Clark (Keyboards) and Scott Weinberger

Containing an explosive set recorded at the historic Sellersville Theatre in Pennsylvania in 2017, "But Wait....There's More!" features remarkable new versions of Brand X classics taken mostly from the band's first three albums, including Nightmare Patrol, Nuclear Burn, Malaga Virgen, And So To F and more.  Jones and Goodsall are at their blistering best and the performance has been beautifully mixed by Stephen W. Tayler (Peter Gabriel, U.K., Kate Bush, Bruford, Brand X, Underworld).

But Wait... There's More!, the new live album by Brand X captures a complete performance of the classic Anglo- American prog-jazz-fusion band (can we fit a few more hyphens in here?) from their recent, eagerly anticipated, recent tour. Recorded in January at the Sellersville Theater, it is a blistering, high energy set, reexploring material from their first two studio albums, 1976's Unorthodox Behaviour and 1977's Moroccan Roll, as well material from their 1977 live album, Livestock.

Recorded at a single show, the recording has an authentic, energized feel. It's a solid "warts and all" document of a band really gelling after a hiatus of over two decades. Founding members, guitarist John Goodsall and bassist Percy Jones, along with veteran Livestock era drummer, Kenwood Dennard, are joined by new members Chris Clark on keyboards and Scott Weinberger on percussion. The new line-up brings new ideas and vigor to the material, with the old members exploring new sounds and the new members bringing their own musical identities into the mix.

Goodsall's guitar often has a nastier, snarling tone only hinted at on the band's old albums, unleashing solos that are cutting and angular. Jones in fine form, with his deep, swirling magma bass showcased on "Born Ugly" and "Hate Zone," while his solo "Magic Mist" highlights a more lyrical, cosmically mysterious sound.

The sheer power of Kenwood Dennard's drumming is very much at the forefront here, injecting the material with an unrelenting funkiness. Scott Weinberger does a fine job finding spaces within the groove for color and emphasis. The rhythmic approach of the two constantly shifts in its relationship and dynamics, vacillating between complimentary, rhythmic discussions and full-out unison freight train assaults.

Clark's keyboard work is more staid, his approach more cerebral. He executes his parts expertly and constructs his solos for maximum chromatic effect. His solos often seem to deliberately eschew any notes that could possibly be expected in a given moment. The results are often dizzyingly satisfying. In addition, his solo piano version of ..."Maybe I'll Lend You Mine After All" is masterful. His spare and lovely, but crisp and sharply attacked playing (evoking Chick Corea, to no small extent) makes the piece worth the price of admission alone.

But Wait... There's More! is a fine document of a band reemerging and reasserting itself, but more, it's a powerful and engaging album in its own right. In spite of the fact that nearly all of the music was composed decades ago, the album features some incredibly strong performances and a level of intensity that makes this recording stand out based on its own merits, making it worthy addition to the Brand X catalog.

“As you can see, Brand X does continue on,” bellows a gregarious John Goodsall during an incendiary set recorded in Pennsylvania. Their first release in 20 years finds Goodsall with bassist Percy Jones and former drummer Kenwood Dennard, alongside keyboardist Chris Clark and Scott Weinberger’s agile percussion. They’re clearly happy to be up there playing for a wildly enthusiastic crowd, and Stephen W Tayler’s stunningly detailed production puts the listener right up there in the sweet spot with them.

Some of the hottest instrumental music you’ll hear this year.

Aside from big names such as Soft Machine and Nucleus, the UK jazz rock scene was a bustling place in the 70s with less well-known bands such as Turning Point, John Stevens’ Away, Back Door, Zzebra, Pacific Eardrum, Paz and others. As good as they all were, toiling on the college circuit and occasionally nabbing support slots with big name rock acts, Brand X grabbed a higher profile thanks to their association with Phil Collins, moonlighting from Genesis.

Ending with more of a whimper than a bang in 1980, aside from an unsatisfactory reunion sortie in the 90s, they’ve been in danger of being as forgotten and overlooked as all those groups mentioned earlier. Yet albums such as 1976’s Unorthodox Behaviour and 1977’s Moroccan Roll and Livestock showcased a turbocharged outfit whose thunder was every bit the equal of the heavy weather the American jazz rock aristocracy generated. Forty years on, this Anglo-American incarnation breathes new life into classics like Nuclear Burn, Isis Mourning, Euthanasia Waltz and Malaga Virgen.

Percy Jones’ pugnacious bass work continues to dazzle as rumbling figures trip from his fingers, to push and prod the tunes into some unfamiliar tangles. Goodsall’s echo‑enhanced rushes across the fretboard show he’s lost none of the melodic sense of direction that historically informed the bulk of his guitar soloing. And let’s hear it for Chris Clark’s reading of …Maybe I’ll Lend You Mine After All, which leans heavily on Debussy channelling Keith Jarrett, offering up a moment of calm in the surging electricity of the night.

Between them, they still possess a killer synergy that enables them to journey into nebulous, free‑form clusters and terse, jazzy phrasing, only to flick the switch on abrupt accelerations into tight, twisting themes. That they achieve this so flawlessly provides abundant proof that this incarnation of Brand X is anything but a shadow of its former self. The last 18 minutes of this two-disc set features some of the hottest instrumental music you’ll hear this year. It’s good to have them back.

Track listing:

CD 1
1     Intro     1:42
2     Nightmare Patrol     8:28
3     Euthanasia Waltz     4:42
4     Born Ugly     9:58
5     Isis Mourning     6:29
6     Nuclear Burn     9:20

CD 2
1     Magic Mist     2:32
2     Why Should I Lend You Mine...     9:10
3     ...Maybe I'll Lend You Mine After All     3:37
4     Hate Zone     6:03
5     And So To F     8:32
6     Malaga Virgen     10:00


John Goodsall: guitars;
Percy Jones: bass;
Kenwood Dennard: drums;
Chris Clark: keyboards;
Scott Weinberger: percussion

Victor Biglione - 1989 "Baleia Azul"

 A great album of a great player. Victor Biglione is a great musician with a unmistakable style. I sure recommend it!

 I meet Vito Biglione on Brazil, I did play his guitar on VIP section at BARRIL-2000 in Rio de janeiro. Great person execelent player and the whole band they are one the best players in my opinion. By the way I do have in Brazil this particular album with all the members autograph which the time was a LP, and is his first album ...

Track listing:

1. Marrakech (Victor Biglione)
2. Rumo Certo- (The Right Track) (Victor Biglione)
3. Za Tum (Victor Biglione)
4. Baleia Azul (Blue Whale) (Victor Biglione)
5. Invitation (Bronislaw Kaper/Paul Webster)
6. 193 Acacias (Victor Biglione)
7. Fim de Estacao (End of the Season) (Victor Biglione)


Victor Biglione - guitarra (1,2,3,4,5,6,7), violão (4)
André Tendetta - bateria (1,2,3,5,6,7)
João Baptista - baixo elétrico (1,2,3,6,7)
José Lourenço -clados te (1,2,3,4,5,6,7), sitentizador (4,5)
Zé Nogueira - sax soprano (1,2,3,4), teclados (2,3,4,5,7), sintetizador (2,3,4,5,6,7)
Armando Marçal - percussão (2,3,6)
Chico Batera - percussão (2,3,6)
Nico Assumpção - baixo elétrico (5)

Friday, July 5, 2019

George Benson Quartet - 1967 [2001] "George Benson Cookbook"

The Hard Bop Homepage says of the album, "This is basically the George Benson quartet, with Smith and Cuber, but trombonist Bennie Green and percussionist Pucho were added on some tracks, giving them a bop flavor that delighted dedicated jazz fans and critics. Benson's quartet was modeled after Jack McDuff's--with baritone saxophonist Ronnie Cuber, organist Lonnie Smith, a powerhouse player who deserved more attention than he ever received, and Jimmy Lovelace or Marion Booker on drums. The sonorous tone of Cuber's baritone gives the quartet a richer, more dense texture than that obtained by McDuff, who used a tenor, but the overall sound is the same. At twenty-five, Ronnie Cuber was an alumnus of Marshall Brown's celebrated Newport Youth Band; he had spent the previous two years with Maynard Ferguson's very loud and brassy orchestra, which may account for his aggressive style, but Cuber's approach also emphasized rhythm, and that was precisely the ingredient called for by a "soul jazz" group of this kind."

The second of Benson's John Hammond-produced albums is far and away the superior of the pair, mixing down-to-basics, straight-ahead jazz with soul-drenched grooving. Suddenly Benson's backup group - same as that of Uptown, with Benny Green added on trombone now and then - has found its bearings and apropos to the title, they can cook, even sizzle. The effect upon Benson's own playing is striking; with something to react against, his sheer ability to swing advances into the realm of awesome. The rapid-fire work on "The Cooker" and "Ready And Able" will make you gasp. Only one vocal here, an exuberant "All Of Me." [In mid-2001 Columbia/Legacy reissued this 1966 classic, along with It's Uptown, recorded only several months earlier. Four bonus tracks include a (previously unreleased) doo wop vocal rendition of Little Willie John's "Let Them Talk" and two Benson originals that are pure rock-n-roll: "The Man from Toledo" and "Goodnight." Two of the bonus cuts are preceded by control-booth comments from the session's legendary producer, John Hammond.]

For those fans, listening to George Benson after 1966 is like the obligatory New Years Drink from your employer. Damn, is guessing who’s been under the sheets with whom the only game around here?. Ok, one might answer the demure jazz buff, next time bring your turntable, light things up a bit, you crank. And the fifty-something who grew up on a diet of Average White Band and Santana might add, hey pal, George Benson did record some awesome stuff after ’66.

Sure he did. Except most of it is drowned in an overstuffed sound soup of strings, harp, flute, synth and, yuk, strings from the synth. A&M and CTI albums like The Other Side Of Abbey Road (1970) and White Rabbit (1972) are, notwithstanding the heavyweight line-ups of, among others, Herbie Hancock and Ron Carter, technically exceptional elevator muzak affairs, no less. If it wasn’t for the greasy, steamroller beat of drummer Idris Muhammad, 1968’s The Shape Of Things To Come would’ve been nothing more than schlock for the building constructors working on the streets where you live. Then again, few are prepared for My Latin Brother from Bad Benson (1974), a smoking, exotic and sizzling Latin tune with a quintet line up from the matured guitar player. And the highlights of Benson’s big break as a smooth jazz star in 1976, collected on Breezin’, are, despite their schmaltzy coating of synth, pretty darn good courtesy of the experienced, first-class session players – take So This Is Love. The only thing it needs is the voice of Barry White. Next thing you know one of sixteen vestal virgins appears from out of the blue, ready to sign up for Procol Harum’s harem.

As early as early 1968, when Benson was still a soul jazz guitarist, there were hints of radio-friendly formatting. His album Giblet Gravy has both the low-down dirty blues, injected with typical lightning-bolt fingering, of Groovin’ as the saccharine take of the ultimate crowd pleaser, Bobby Hebb’s Sunny. In fact, he’s singing an r&b-type version of All Of Me on Cookbook that could’ve done well on the jukebox market. George Benson has always been the kind of performer that succeeds in recording bubblegum ditties in the afternoon and play steamin’ r&b at night. Organist Greg Lewis told Flophouse that he regularly tried to sit in as a woodshedding Hammond B3 player in the early nineties in a Manhattan club, sometimes succeeding to replace one of the accomplished organists for a tune or so. Occasionally, Benson, at the height of his fame, would drive his limousine up the sidewalk, park, get in and join the band on stage. Nobody cut George.

Cocksure at heart. Benson was like that when he first hit the scene as a sideman with organist Brother Jack McDuff in late 1963. By no means arrogant, instead playing with a joy of discovery that is contagious. In McDuff’s band, the youngster, who sang professionally as a kid, still played the kind of r&b guitar style from his teenage years, although the influence of his heroes Charlie Christian and Grant Green (interpreted in fast forward motion) were readily discernible. Displaying quicksilver runs, a biting attack, torrents of foul-mouthed but impeccably placed blues phrases, Benson heated up both studio and stage to temperatures uncommon even in New Jersey or New York City summer season.

After a string of albums with McDuff and his debut album on Prestige, The New Boss Guitar Of George Benson, the guitarist had signed to Columbia, releasing It’s Uptown in 1966, with one of those grandiose subtitles I’m sure musicians weren’t too fond of, The Most Exciting New Jazz Guitarist On The Scene Today. It was a thoroughly exciting group that Benson had assembled and baritone saxophonist Ronnie Cuber, organist Lonnie Smith and drummer Jimmy Lovelace (alternating with Marion Booker) also gathered for the Cookbook session, still more tight-knit as a unit, delivering a hot barbecue of spicy ribs and saucy side dishes. There’s the opening tune, The Cooker, a strike of stop-time thunder, evidence of the group’s effortless breakneck speed swing and Benson’s fast-fingered blues wizardry. Perhaps already the highlight of the album, which yet doesn’t take anything away from the remainder of the repertory, including other Benson originals like the gentle Bossa Rocka and Big Fat Lady, a perky r&b tune that could easily pass for the background to Jimmy Hughes on Fame or Hank Ballard on King.

Benson gets his kicks with licks on Benson’s Rider, a boogaloo-ish rhythm perfectly suitable for the deeply groovy Lonnie Smith. Benson wrote the The Borgia Stick for a mafia television series, a lush greenery for the mutually responsive soul jazz cultivators, who are effectively aroused by sections of tension and release. The nifty Jimmy Smith tune Ready And Able presents the burgeoning talent of baritone saxophonist Ronnie Cuber to full effect. He’s like the cookie monster that’s gotten a shot of rhythm&blues, soulfully eating up the breaks off the I Got Rhythm changes.

The other horn player on the date, Benny Green, happened to walk into his friend George Benson on the street prior to Benson’s session. Benson invited Green over to the studio to join the proceedings. Such is the unique nature of jazz and its practitioners, that sheer coincidence may be turned into a musical advantage. Green’s uplifting, swinging style is an asset on Benny’s Back (which was written on the spot by Benson and refers to the fact that Green was also present on Benson’s first Columbia LP) and the swing-styled jam Jumpin’ With Symphony Sid, the longest track on an album that keeps warming the hearts of ‘early-Benson-fans’ around the globe.

Track listing:

All tracks composed by George Benson; except where indicated

01.    "The Cooker"         4:18
02.    "Benny's Back"         4:10
03.    "Bossa Rocka"         4:20
04.    "All of Me"    Gerald Marks, Seymour Simons    2:08
05.    "Big Fat Lady"         4:40
06.    "Benson's Rider"         5:30
07.    "Ready and Able"    Jimmy Smith    3:32
08.    "The Borgia Stick"         3:05
09.    "Return of the Prodigal Son"    Harold Ousley    2:34
10.    "Jumpin' with Symphony Sid"    Lester Young    6:33

CD bonus tracks

11.    "The Man from Toledo"    2:08
12.    "Slow Scene"    3:11
13.    "Let Them Talk"    2:51
14.    "Goodnight"    2:21
Total length:    50:31


    George Benson – guitar, vocals
    Ronnie Cuber – baritone saxophone
    Bennie Green – trombone
    Lonnie Smith – organ
    Albert Winston – bass
    Jimmy Lovelace – drums
    Marion Booker, Jr. – drums

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Beck, Bogert & Appice - 1973 "Beck, Bogert & Appice"

Beck, Bogert & Appice were a rock supergroup and power trio formed by guitarist Jeff Beck and evolving from The Jeff Beck Group. The line up included bassist Tim Bogert and drummer Carmine Appice who were both previously in Vanilla Fudge and Cactus. Beck, Bogert & Appice is the 1973 debut album by the band Beck, Bogert & Appice. The group was a power trio featuring guitarist Jeff Beck (who had already been a member of The Yardbirds).

The album contains Beck's version of the song "Superstition" which was written by Stevie Wonder. Beck had appeared on Wonder's original recording of the song in 1972. Beck, Bogert & Appice was released in both conventional 2-channel stereo and 4-channel quadraphonic versions. This was the band's only studio album, as Beck's departure forced a sudden dissolution in 1974.

One of the great things about Jeff Beck is his utter unpredictability. It's also one of the most maddening things about him, too, since it's as likely to lead to flights of genius as it is to weird detours like Beck, Bogert & Appice. It's hard to tell what exactly attracted Beck to the rhythm section of Vanilla Fudge and Cactus -- perhaps he just wanted to rock really loud and really hard, beating Led Zeppelin at their own game. Whatever the motivation, the end result was the same -- a leaden album, with occasional interesting guitar work smothered by heavy riffs and rhythms that don't succeed on a visceral level. It's a loud, lumbering record that may be of interest for Beck archivists, provided they want to hear absolutely everything he did.

In an era rife with hastily assembled supergroups, the union of guitarist Jeff Beck, vocalist/bassist Tim Bogert and drummer/vocalist Carmine Appice into a power trio – named simply Beck Bogert and Appice – was unusually long in the making.

Although the power trio’s eponymous debut album was released in March of 1973, the three men had first discussed working together as far back as 1967, when Bogert and Appice still constituted the rhythm section of New York psych-rockers Vanilla Fudge, and Beck was constructing his first solo group following an angry departure from the Yardbirds.

But on that occasion, Beck wound up staffing the Jeff Beck Group with fellow Brits instead, recruiting Ronnie Wood on bass, Nicky Hopkins on piano, Micky Waller on drums and Rod Stewart on vocals, while Bogert and Appice carried on a while longer with Vanilla Fudge.

It would take two years before the three musicians' planets aligned themselves once again and, by all accounts, the superstar Beck Bogert and Appice was primed and ready for action in the fall of ’69 – until Beck suffered a serious car accident that laid him out for the better part of a year.

Rather than sit around twiddling their thumbs, Bogert and Appice once again sought to find creative satisfaction elsewhere, forming Cactus with singer Rusty Day and guitarist Jim McCarty (formerly of Mitch Ryder's Detroit Wheels), and quickly churning out four studio albums within the next two years.

At last, once Cactus was laid to rest in late 1972, Bogert and Appice finally joined a now-fully recovered Jeff Beck on the road in order to hone their musical chemistry, before heading into the studio to record their debut LP that December.

But while it was received by great fan anticipation and major press coverage a few months later, Beck Bogert and Appice ultimately climbed no higher than No. 28 in the U.K. chart and No. 12 in the U.S., where it scored only a modest hit single via a cover of Stevie Wonder’s "Superstition."

Perhaps the slight disconnect resulted from the broad range of musical styles covered here, which included everything from heavy blues to funk to vintage rock and borderline MOR moments. There was also the trio’s reliance on externally penned material – or even the simple fact that mainstream awareness of their names was no longer what it had been when the first flirted with collaborating, nearly six years prior.

Whatever the reasons, Beck Bogert and Appice still delivered more than enough instrumental virtuosity and sheer star power for musos and other serious devotees, who flocked to their concerts throughout 1973. What’s more, they generally testified to the incremental power they displayed on stage versus on record.

Alas, after touring extensively across the U.K., Europe, America and the Far East (where recordings were captured for Live (In Japan), which was rush-released that October), Beck Bogert and Appice disintegrated abruptly in January of 1974, having barely begun working on sessions for its proposed sophomore album.

Despite the lengthy lead-up and numerous false-starts, that was the end of this supergroup.

 Track listing:

1. Black Cat Moan     3:47
2. Lady     5:33
3. Oh To Love You     4:05
4. Superstition     4:19
5. Sweet Sweet Surrender     3:58
6. Why Should I Care     3:33
7. Lose Myself With You     3:18
8. Livin' Alone     4:13
9. I'm So Proud     4:11


Jeff Beck - Guitar
Tim Bogert - Bass
Carmen Appice - Drums

Ray Barretto - 1999 "Portraits In Jazz And Clave"

In this program of mainly Afro-Cubanized jazz standards, conga man Barretto assembled an all-star group of friends to complement his regular working New World Spirit band. The icons include longtime friend Kenny Burrell, whose guitar playing is a key component in the makeup of every selection. Bassist Eddie Gomez, tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano and trombonist Steve Turre join such up-and-coming younger musicians as trumpeter John Bailey, saxophonist Adam Kolker and pianist John DiMartino. Second percussionist Bobby Sanabria is alongside, as is the oustanding trap drummer and longtime Barretto bandmate Vince Cherico.

The recording is bookended by Duke Ellington's music. It's front-loaded with "The Mooche," ignited by a simmering bass and left-hand piano ostinato plucked from Horace Silver's "Senor Blues." Conch-shell moans from Turre and punchy congas intro this classic, with Burrell's second melody lead and horns on the first and third. "Cotton Tail" is a good swinger with Latin underpinnings and loads of Burrell (refer to Burrell and Barretto on Burrell's classic Blue Note date Midnight Blue). At the end of the CD is the lesser-known "Oclupaca," taken as a steamy cha-cha. Also included is Billy Strayhorn's Johnny Come Lately," which has clave/mambo rhythms buoying echoed trumpet and tenor lines talking back and forth. The interplay of this counterpoint is stunning, again kicked off by the fuse of Burrell's guitar.

There's the fluttery horn intro and dueling tenors on John Coltrane's "Like Sonny," the slight tango-ish "Lamento Borincano" and its heavy dose of Latin Burrell, and the laid-back horns setting up demure-to-forceful piano by DiMartino on Wayne Shorter's "Go." Then there's Thelonious Monk's brisk and brusque "I Mean You," cooked by the unison horns to golden brown perfection with claves, montuno piano and a patented deft bass solo from the brilliant Gomez. A most Afro-Cuban "Cancion del Fuego Fatuo" is quite subtle, Burrell again the focal point with much to say beneath and above the surface. Of the many fine recordings Barretto has produced in the past 30 years as a leader, this ranks right up in the top three, due to the undeniable musicianship of his select guests, the innate ability of his own band, and the meticulous selection of jazz pieces whipped into tangy salsa. It's a winning, highly recommended combination.

Back in the day when Mario Bauz, Chico O’Farrill and Dizzy were striving to link up Afro Cuban son ‘n’ clave with Afro American swing and bop, they built their bridges on the backs of ex-Havana conguero masters like Chano Pozo and Mongo Santamaria. As the ’50s waned, the Latin jazz vanguard was led by Nuyorican timbalero Tito Puente and his conguero homeboy Ray Barretto. Well-schooled in Cuban guaguanco, Puerto Rican bomba/plena, veteran of bop jam sessions at Mintons, Barretto was the right cat at the right time.

First kicking off the Latin boogaloo craze with the 1963 R&B crossover smash “El Watusi,” by the end of the ’80s Barretto’s groundbreaking solo (Acid), Fania All-Stars and pop (Rolling Stones) recordings made him the most ubiquitous conguero of all. Since the early ’90s, the various editions of his New World Spirit ensemble have consistently dropped some of the deepest Latin jazz music on the planet.

 At a time when Latin jazz legends and newer jacks alike are content to place-and-show (see Tito and Arturo Sandoval), Mr. Hard Hands’ latest New World Spirit + 4 recording, Portraits in Jazz and Clave, finds him still in the lead, maxing mph. Cold chilling behind the wheel of a low-riding machine tweaked, torqued and souped by Steve Turre, Joe Lovano, Kenny Burrell, Eddie Gomez, John Bailey, Adam Kolker, John Di Martino and Bobby Sanabria (trombone/shells, tenor sax, guitar, bass, trumpet, tenor/soprano, piano, percussion, respectively), Barretto deftly up/downshifts his way through Turre’s sneaky/snaky jazz ‘n’ clave variations on Duke (“The Mooche”), Monk (“I Mean You”), Shorter (“Go”) and Hernandez (“Lamento Borincano”).

After some 50-odd years of fervid cross-cultural exchange, Portraits in Jazz and Clave is as much testimony to the continuing relevance of Latin jazz as it is to the artistic resilience of Ray Barretto.

This recording is dedicated to the memory of Ben Joubert, <>... He touched many with his love for life...

Track listing:

1     The Mooche     6:55
2     Cotton Tail     5:31
3     Johnny Come Lately     5:27
4     Cancion Del Fuego Fatuo (From El Amor Brujo)     7:16
5     I Mean You     6:41
6     Go     7:58
7     Like Sonny     4:35
8     Lamento Borincano     7:17
9     Oclupaca (From Latin American Suite)     6:07


    Congas, Mixed By, Mastered By, Edited By, Producer, Liner Notes – Ray Barretto
    Drums – Vince Cherico
    Featuring [Bass] – Eddie Gomez
    Featuring [Guitar] – Kenny Burrell
    Featuring [Tenor Saxophone] – Joe Lovano
    Featuring [Trombone, Shells] – Steve Turre
    Piano – John Di Martino
    Producer – Jean-Jacques Pussiau
    Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone – Adam Kolker
    Trumpet – John Bailey (2)

Amboy Dukes - 1968 [1992] "Journey To The Center Of The Mind"

AMG EXPERT REVIEW: Long before Ted Nugent made his name as a mighty crossbow hunter, there was this heavy Detroit band in which he was content to play lead guitar, something he does very well and with much less threat to the Midwest's deer population. The Nuge shouldn't try to take all the credit for this band, because the other members such as vocalist John Drake and rhythm guitarist Steve Farmer contributed with great aplomb, the latter writing much of the material on the second side's ambitious suite as well as co-writing the title hit with Nugent. This is some hard-hitting, well-done psychedelic music, recorded with taste by a producer known much more for his work with mainstream jazz artists, Bob Shad. One thing that made the Amboy Dukes special was the amount of power and drive in their playing, something lacking in other psychedelic outfits that take a more airy-fairy approach. The Nuge's guitar sound is recorded as if this was a mainstream jazz album by Harold Land, and it helps.  -- Eugene Chadbourne

As great as I remember!, May 7, 2004
Reviewer: pfsguy (Snellville, Ga United States)
I had not heard this collection of music in over 25 years and wondered if it just wasn't my youthful listening habits that made me think it was good music back then. But, no, these guys were just good, ahead of their time. The vocals and guitar are great, and the "journey" of blended songs on the second part of the CD is very well done. The lyrics are strange and sometimes meaningless, but that is what the 60's psychedelic music was all about, and the quality of the recording technique of instrument separation in the channels really makes it work. Shop around for a good price (under $20) and get this CD.

Journey To The Center Of The Mind : The Amboy Dukes, March 25, 2003
Reviewer: JCB,HIFIGUY (Upstate N.Y. USA)
This Lp. shows the kind of regional-local talents around the USA that were pioneering hard rock music before the post Woodstock ultra-commercialization of the genre.While some of the songs may be a little sixties silly, the music, that is the playing, singing and arragements are quite good.It is great early hard rock without the "canned" sound formulated into so many bands since.(hey it's what most people want though)If you like heavy guitar/organ rock,this is an absolute must, and John Drakes powerful vocals are truly a huge part of the bands great sound.He left after the first 2 lps., and the band was never again as good, in my opinion.Ted Nugents guitar is perfect for the format they used as well.

centering your mind, November 26, 2005
Reviewer: D. Schmittdiel (Clinton Twp., MI)
On July 11 of 1968 I was turning 14 years old, and the single 'Journey to the Center of the Mind' was number one on my favorite AM radio station, WKNR ('Keener13') in my hometown of Detroit, Michigan. Of course 'The Motor City Madman', Ted Nugent, and his Dukes had a decided edge in their own backyard, but the single did rise to number 16 on the national charts also. I clearly remember that summer being deeply impressed by the quality guitar work on several hit songs. At the same time 'Journey...' was claiming the top slot in Detroit, the Stones' 'Jumpin' Jack Flash' was resting at number 11, and Cream's 'Sunshine of Your Love' had retreated to number 27. But it was Nugent's guitar heroics that dazzled the most. Fortunate for myself, my older brother was working at McDonalds, and had brought home a vinyl copy of this, the Amboy Dukes (annotated as 'The American Amboy Dukes' via a carrot insert on the cover) second album, for my perusal.

Ted Nugent named his band after an R & B outfit that had recently disbanded, saying "I thought it was a cool name". He was unaware that 'The Amboy Dukes' was also the title of a book about a 1950's street gang from Perth Amboy, New Jersey. Ted has also claimed to be unaware that the lyrics to 'Journey...' had stong allusions to psychedelic drug use, as does the collection of vintage pipes on the album's cover. I tend to believe Ted when he claims to have never inhaled. I also regard Nugent as being especially astute, and as a young man probably realized that using acid-tinged imagery would further the chances of success for a psychedelic rock band. For most of his associates however, being in a psychedelic rock band must have implied psychedelic drug use, and this resulted in significant conflicts between the anti-drug Nugent and the remaining Dukes.

If you're still reading, you're probably wondering about the album itself. There aren't a whole lot of highlights, save the title track, which features one of the finest electric guitar performances of the psychedelic era, matched by some of the finest psychedelic lyrics ever penned, matched by one of the heaviest bridge segments ever committed to vinyl, tape, or digital stock. Only three other songs really deserve mention, track number 5 (which closed out side one of the original vinyl release), 'Dr. Slingshot', which features overlapping vocal lines from lead singer John Drake and rhythm guitarist Steve Farmer (who, together with Nugent, penned all the songs on the disc), and a great lead guitar riff from Nugent. Unfortunately, Nugent's talent on the six-string are only occasionally put on display, such as on track 12, 'I'll Prove I'm Right', where his fine picking underlies another strong vocal performance from Drake. The band relies much more on the psychedelic imagery of its lyrics rather than Nugent's axe, a highly questionable choice given the quality of the lyrics (on 'Why Is a Carrot More Orange Than an Orange', for instance, we are offered other deep questions such as, "Why are you greener than green?"; go figure). If it's of interest, the tracks on the second side of the disc segue into one another, and while the liner notes claim they collectively tell "a story", the plot is hard to discern. The final track, 'Conclusion', does reintroduce the 'Journey...' melody, and for a few moments brings back Nugent's sterling guitar lines, but it's a case of too little too late. There is a bonus track offered on the Repertoire versions of the disc, the 7" follow up to 'Journey...', a shameless ripoff of its predecessor titled 'You Talk Sunshine, I Breathe Fire'. Despite its obvious origins, it stands as perhaps the fourth best track offered here.

The liner notes are rather sparse, although the reproduction of the original 1968 back album cover is interesting as it gives nods to "Felix and Eddie of the Young Rascals" and "The Mothers of Invention" for their influence over the Dukes. No lyrics and no running times for the songs are offered, though the track listings appear three times. The disc is in short supply, so you won't be finding it in bargain bins. It commands a rather steep price, especially considering that it really contains only one standout song. Too bad it's one of the finest from 1968.

Worse Than I Remembered - Which Is Not Much, September 7, 2001
Reviewer: A music fan
I grew up when the 'Dukes were around. I always loved 'Journey' but I never bought any of the Duke album - yes they were actually albums in those days. Now I know why. Ouch! Ted could smoke on the guitar but the group as a whole pretty much comprehensively [stunk]. Compares to Hendrix? Hey give me some of that stuff. Anyway this CD is an interesting historical document in that it shows that my musical tastes were not as warped as the rest of my mind back in those days. Now that I've ripped 'Journey' who wants a great deal on a very slightly used CD?
Now how many of you - please raise your hands - really believe that Ted did not know that 'Journey' was a drug song? Sure Ted - there really is an Easter bunny, at least if you haven't blown off its head yet.

Track listing:

01    "Mississippi Murderer" (Nugent, Farmer) – 5:12
02    "Surrender to Your Kings" (Nugent) – 2:52
03    "Flight of the Byrd" (Nugent) – 2:50
04    "Scottish Tea" (Nugent) – 4:01
05    "Dr. Slingshot" (Nugent, Farmer) – 3:09
06    "Journey to the Center of the Mind" (Nugent, Farmer) – 3:33
07    "Ivory Castles" (Farmer) – 3:21
08    "Why Is a Carrot More Orange Than an Orange" (Farmer) – 2:26
09    "Missionary Mary" (Farmer) – 2:35
10    "Death Is Life" (Farmer) – 2:08
11    "Saint Philips Friend" (Farmer) – 3:33
12    "I'll Prove I'm Right" (Farmer) – 1:38
13    "Conclusion" (Nugent, Farmer) – 1:57

CD bonus track

14    "You Talk Sunshine, I Breathe Fire" (Nugent, Farmer) – 2:44


    John (J.B.) Drake – vocals
    Ted Nugent – lead guitar
    Steve Farmer – rhythm guitar, vocals
    Greg Arama – bass
    Dave Palmer – drums
    Andy Solomon – organ, piano, vocals

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Duane Allman - 1972 [2008] "An Anthology Vol. I"

An Anthology is a compilation of recordings featuring guitarist Duane Allman. The double album consists of a selection of songs by various artists that Allman contributed to as a session musician, along with early recordings by his band the Hourglass and his partial-namesake group, the Allman Brothers Band. The album also features rare solo work by the guitarist.

Music critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine awarded the compilation four and a half stars out of five in his review for the AllMusic website, calling it "an excellent introduction and retrospective." He also noted that "by including session cuts, as well as his brief sojourn in Eric Clapton's Derek and the Dominos and a few rare solo tracks, along with a number of representative Allman Brothers songs, the double-album Anthology winds up drawing a complete portrait of Allman."

Duane Allman's greatness was apparent on his recordings with the Allman Brothers, yet there was another side to the superb guitarist. For many years, he was a highly respected session musician, playing on cuts by Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, King Curtis, Boz Scaggs, Delaney & Bonnie, and Clarence Carter, among others. By including those session cuts, as well as a sampling of his brief sojourn in Eric Clapton's Derek and the Dominoes and a few rare solo tracks, along with a number of representative Allman Brothers songs, the double-album Anthology winds up drawing a complete portrait of Allman. He may have recorded plenty of other material worth hearing, but this has the bare essentials for an excellent introduction and retrospective.

The Duane Allman Anthology Vol. 1 is a combination of Duane performing session work as well as a glimpse of his work with the Allman Brothers Band. The material begins with an early band he formed with his brother Gregg, The Hourglass, and concludes with five Allman Brothers Band songs. In between those periods, Duane played sessions for a variety of excellent musicians playing blues, soul, R&B, acoustic material, and rock.

With the session work selections, the material varies in that the band and singers differ from track-to-track. Some songs feature wailing guitars, while other tracks Duane plays a supplemental role. In an attempt to categorize, there are four main types of tracks: extended jams, supplemental roles, acoustic material, and the Allman Brothers Band.

From the first disc, Duane sings "Goin' Down Slow." It features some dazzling guitar clocking in at 8:44. The highlight from disc one? This is one of those songs where the notes that aren't played as good as the ones that are. Other tracks that open up are the "B. B. King Medley" where in addition to strong guitar phrases, Gregg Allman does a good B. B. King vocal impersonation.  Boz Scagg's "Loan Me a Dime" offers an extended R&B workout. The familiar long time classic "Layla" showcases the electric guitar duo of Eric Clapton and Duane Allman.

Many of the tracks Duane's role is low-key offering tasty slide guitar fills and short solos. Among my favorites is Wilson Pickett's rendition of the Beatles classic "Hey Jude," which showcases not only Duane, but great horns and vocals. There are several other good songs where Duane backs up the likes of Aretha Franklin, Delaney and Bonnie as well as a Bob Dylan cover "Down Along The Cove" with Johnny Jenkins just to name a few.

There are several acoustic songs. The album closer "Little Martha" from Eat a Peach is a gorgeous duet with Duane Allman and Dickey Betts. A good acoustic number, "Please Be With Me" by the band Cowboy that features Duane playing slide Dobro. Eric Clapton did a cover of the song on his album 461 Ocean Blvd. Speaking of Clapton, he and Duane perform a version of "Mean Old World" that subsequently was released on The Layla Sessions: 20 Anniversary Edition. The final acoustic track is "Rollin' Stone" with Johnny Jenkins, an urban blues gem indeed.

There are five Allman Brothers Band songs that close the disc. Two live, and three studio. Most people that buy the Duane Allman Anthology already have the Allman Brothers CD's. If you don't fall into that camp, these songs will likely convince you that you should.

Duane Allman is one of the truly special guitar players. His Anthology compiles material that is rare and spread among over a dozen albums, several that are out of print. For those that appreciate his genius will treasure this release.

 Credits - Track listing:

CD 1
01    –B.B. King Medley  The Hourglass*     7:02
 a     –     Sweet Little Angel    
 b     –     It's My Own Fault    
 c     –     How Blue Can You Get    
02     –Wilson Pickett     Hey Jude     4:05
03     –Clarence Carter     The Road Of Love     2:51
04     –Duane Allman     Goin' Down Slow     8:45
05     –Aretha Franklin     The Weight     2:57
06     –King Curtis     Games People Play     2:45
07     –John Hammond*     Shake For Me     2:40
08     –Boz Scaggs     Loan Me A Dime     12:58
09     –Johnny Jenkins     Rollin' Stone     4:58

CD 2
01     –Delaney & Bonnie & Friends     Livin' On The Open Road     5:12
02     –Johnny Jenkins     Down Along The Cove     3:03
03     –Cowboy (6)     Please Be With Me     3:49
04     –Eric Clapton and Duane Allman     Mean Old World     3:50
05     –Derek & The Dominos     Layla     7:10
06     –The Allman Brothers Band     Statesboro Blues     4:08
07     –The Allman Brothers Band     Don't Keep Me Wondering     3:59
08     –The Allman Brothers Band     Standback     3:25
09     –The Allman Brothers Band     Dreams     7:18
10     –The Allman Brothers Band     Little Martha     2:08

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Duane Allman - 1972 [2008] "An Anthology Vol. II"

Along with more session work ( Come On in My Kitchen Delaney & Bonnie; Push Push Herbie Mann; Dirty Old Man Lulu; It Ain't Fair Aretha Franklin; You Reap What You Sow Otis Rush; Matchbox Ronnie Hawkins), Vol. 2 has Duane's Happily Married Man; No Money Down , and Going Up the Country ; Allman Brothers gems (including an unissued live Midnight Rider ), and more!

The session work with other players here isn't quite as good as the material on the first anthology, but An Anthology, Vol. 2 does feature a live cut by Delaney & Bonnie, plus a pair of what were then previously unissued Allman Brothers Band live tracks (among them "Midnight Rider" from the Fillmore East in June 1971). There's another good Duane Allman solo number and a good Hour Glass track ("Been Gone Too Long"), more session work with Aretha Franklin and King Curtis, Ronnie Hawkins ("Matchbox"), Wilson Pickett ("Born to Be Wild"), Johnny Jenkins, Boz Scaggs, Sam Samudio, and Otis Rush. The annotation here isn't as thorough as it was on the first volume, but anyone who owns the first double-CD set will almost certainly have to own this one as well, and for a mid-priced set there's a lot of very good music.

It's rumored that Duane once said, while watching and listening to a Johnny Winter concert, I can cut him anytime. Duane was a highly sought session man, as you will hear in volume II. He blended in and then he stood out. You'll hear the 1969 nucleus of the Allman Brothers Band yet to come on the first cut. From Ronnie Hawkins to Aretha Franklin to King Curtis to Boz Scaggs, to Delaney and Bonnie, Duane backed them all and sounded good. Try it, bet you'll like it, and if you do, get Duane Allman Anthology, you'll definitely enjoy the jam "Loan Me A Dime" with Boz Scaggs on this one as well as the ballad "Please Be With Me" with "Cowboy".

The Duane Allman Anthology Volume 2 brings together an eclectic mix of musicians and Allman's superior guitar skills. The range of music on this two-disc set displays Allman's versatility. Blues, Motown, southern rock, straight rock 'n roll, funky jazz, Creole rock - all manner of R&B - you find it all here.

In addition to his work with the Allmans Brothers Band, Allman was a session musician. Most of the songs here feature someone other than Allman such as King Curtis, Aretha Franklin, Herbie Mann, Otis Rush, Dr. John Creaux, Wilson Pickett, Lulu, Boz Scaggs, Delaney & Bonnie, and Ronnie Hawkins.

(Pickett's 'Born to be Wild' was one of the anthems of a generation - looking back from middle-aged parenthood I can only imagine how thrilled my parents were to hear that song blaring!)

The album goes from one triumph to another. 'Walk on Gilded Splinters' featuring Dr. John is worth the purchase price all by itself. Likewise, 'The Weight' by King Curtis and 'Push Push' by Herbie Mann.

There's also plenty to satisfy Allman Brothers Band aficionados. 'Done Somebody Wrong' and 'Midnight Rider' (live from the Fillmore East) as well as 'Leave My Blues at Home' all feature the full band.

Allman's carefree nature is on display in 'The Happily Married Man' (refrain: I ain't seen my wife in 2 or 3 years, I'm a happily married man) and 'No Money Down', a Chuck Berry song about trading in his 'broke-down raggedy Ford' for a Cadillac with a nuclear reactor, railroad air horn, and psychedelic strobe spot.

Blistering good music. Highest recommendation.

Credits - Track listing:

CD 1
01     –Duane Allman     Happily Married Man     2:40
02     –Aretha Franklin     It Ain't Fair     3:20
03     –King Curtis     The Weight     2:48
04     –Otis Rush     You Reap What You Sow     4:54
05     –Ronnie Hawkins     Matchbox     3:06
06     –Wilson Pickett     Born To Be Wild     2:44
07     –Duane Allman     No Money Down     3:25
08     –Hourglass*     Been Gone Too Long     3:10
09     –Arthur Conley     Stuff You Gotta Watch     2:12
10     –Lulu     Dirty Old Man     2:18
11     –Herbie Mann     Push Push     9:55

CD 2
01     –Johnny Jenkins     Walk On Guilded Splinters     5:23
02     –Boz Scaggs     Waiting For A Train     2:40
03     –Ronnie Hawkins     Don't Tell Me Your Troubles     2:14
04     –Sam Samudio     Goin' Upstairs     5:06
05     –Delaney And Bonnie*     Come On In My Kitchen     3:36
06     –The Allman Brothers Band     Dimples     5:05
07     –The Duck And The Bear     Goin' Up The Country     2:35
08     –The Allman Brothers Band     Done Somebody Wrong     4:05
09     –The Allman Brothers Band     Leave My Blues At Home     4:15
10     –The Allman Brothers Band     Midnight Rider     2:56

Friday, June 28, 2019

Frank Zappa - 1974 [1995] "Apostrophe(')"

Apostrophe (’) is the eighteenth album by Frank Zappa, released in March 1974 in both stereo and quadraphonic formats. An edited version of its lead-off track, "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow", was the first of Zappa's three Billboard Top 100 hits, ultimately peaking at number 86.

Apostrophe (’) remains Zappa's most commercially successful album in the United States. It was certified gold by the RIAA on April 7, 1976 and peaked at number 10 (a career-high placement) on the Billboard 200 chart in 1974. Continuing from the commercial breakthrough of Over-Nite Sensation (1973), this album is a similar mix of short songs showcasing Zappa's humor and musical arrangements. The record's lyrical themes are often bizarre or obscure, with the exception of "Uncle Remus", which is an extension of Zappa's feelings on racism featured on his earlier song "Trouble Every Day".

The first half of the album loosely follows a continuing theme. "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow" and "Nanook Rubs It" tell of a dream the singer had where he saw himself as an Eskimo named Nanook. It continues into "St. Alfonzo's Pancake Breakfast," which Zappa said was inspired by a television commercial for Imperial margarine.

As was the case with many of Zappa's albums, Apostrophe (’) was a melange of archival and recent recordings; side one of Apostrophe (’) (1974) and Over-Nite Sensation (1973) were recorded simultaneously. The tracks on side two originate from various 1972 sessions with overdubs recorded in 1973 and 1974, except for "Excentrifugal Forz", where the drum track (played by Johnny Guerin) originally came from the Hot Rats sessions in 1969 (along with the bass and drum tracks for "Lemme Take You to the Beach" on Studio Tan (1978) and Läther (1996), although in the case of "Excentrifugal Forz" this is not actually noted in either the album liner notes or official correspondence), and "Stinkfoot", where the basic track, possibly originally known as "The Bass & Drums Song", dates from the Chunga's Revenge sessions in early 1970.

"Apostrophe (’)" is an instrumental featuring bassist Jack Bruce and session drummer Jim Gordon, who was on tour with Zappa's band at the time of the session in November 1972. Bruce is credited on the album cover with bass guitar and co-writing the title song. However, in an interview for Polish rock magazine Tylko Rock he said that he had not played any bass guitar parts or done any co-writing on "Apostrophe (’)", only the cello intro. He reminisced, "So I turned up in a NY studio with my cello, I'm listening to [Zappa's] music, pretty awful, and just don't know what to do with myself, and Frank [Zappa] says to me: "Listen, I would like you to play a sound, like this... whaaaaaang!!!" So I did what he asked me to do. Whaaaaaang!!! That was all. That was my input to Frank Zappa's most popular record! [laughs]" Bruce had studied the instrument at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and performed with it on some of his other recordings.

However, Zappa has referred to Bruce playing bass on the song in an interview: "Well, that was just a jam thing that happened because he was a friend of (drummer) Jim Gordon. I found it very difficult to play with him; he's too busy. He doesn't really want to play the bass in terms of root functions; I think he has other things on his mind. But that's the way jam sessions go.

The musically similar follow-up to the commercial breakthrough of Over-Nite Sensation, Apostrophe (') became Frank Zappa's second gold and only Top Ten album with the help of the "doggy wee-wee" jokes of "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow," Zappa's first chart single (a longer, edited version that used portions of other songs on the LP). The first half of the album is full of nonsensical shaggy-dog story songs that segue into one another without seeming to finish themselves first; their dirty jokes are generally more subtle and veiled than the more notorious cuts on Over-Nite Sensation. The second half contains the instrumental title cut, featuring Jack Bruce on bass; "Uncle Remus," an update of Zappa's critique of racial discord on "Trouble Every Day"; and a return to the album's earlier silliness in "Stink-Foot." Apostrophe (') has the narrative feel of a concept album, but aside from its willful absurdity, the concept is difficult to decipher; even so, that doesn't detract from its entertainment value.

Track listing:

01. Don't Eat The Yellow Snow     2:06
02. Nanook Rubs It     4:37
03. St. Alfonzo's Pancake Breakfast     1:52
05. Father O'Blivion     2:18
06. Cosmik Debris     4:10
07. Excentrifugal Forz     1:31
08. Apostrophe'     5:53
09. Uncle Remus     2:54
10. Stink-Foot     6:35


    Frank Zappa – vocals, guitar, bass, bouzouki
    Lynn (Linda Sims) – vocals, backing vocals
    Robert "Frog" Camarena – vocals, backing vocals
    Ruben Ladron de Guevara – vocals, backing vocals
    Debbie – vocals, backing vocals
    Ray Collins – backing vocals
    Sue Glover – backing vocals
    Kerry McNabb – backing vocals, engineer, remixing
    Sal Marquez – trumpet
    Ian Underwood – saxophone
    Napoleon Murphy Brock – saxophone, backing vocals
    Bruce Fowler – trombone
    Don "Sugarcane" Harris – violin
    Jean-Luc Ponty – violin
    Ruth Underwood – percussion
    George Duke – keyboards, backing vocals
    Tony Duran – rhythm guitar
    Tom Fowler – bass guitar
    Erroneous (Alex Dmochowski) – bass guitar
    Jack Bruce – bass on "Apostrophe'" (see controversy presented above)
    Ralph Humphrey – drums (side one)
    Johnny Guerin – drums on "Excentrifugal Forz"
    Aynsley Dunbar – drums on "Uncle Remus" and "Stink-Foot"
    Jim Gordon – drums on "Apostrophe"

Frank Zappa - 1973 [1995] "Over-nite Sensation"

Over-Nite Sensation is a studio album by Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention, released in September 1973. It was followed by Zappa's solo album Apostrophe (') (1974), which was recorded during the same sessions.

Love it or hate it, Over-Nite Sensation was a watershed album for Frank Zappa, the point where his post-'60s aesthetic was truly established; it became his second gold album, and most of these songs became staples of his live shows for years to come. Whereas the Flo and Eddie years were dominated by rambling, off-color comedy routines, Over-Nite Sensation tightened up the song structures and tucked sexual and social humor into melodic, technically accomplished heavy guitar rock with jazzy chord changes and funky rhythms; meanwhile, Zappa's growling new post-accident voice takes over the storytelling. While the music is some of Zappa's most accessible, the apparent callousness and/or stunning sexual explicitness of "Camarillo Brillo," "Dirty Love," and especially "Dinah-Moe Humm" leave him on shaky aesthetic ground.

Zappa often protested that the charges of misogyny leveled at such material missed out on the implicit satire of male stupidity, and also confirmed intellectuals' self-conscious reticence about indulging in dumb fun; however, the glee in his voice as he spins his adolescent fantasies can undermine his point. Indeed, that enjoyment, also evident in the silly wordplay, suggests that Zappa is throwing his juvenile crassness in the face of critical expectation, asserting his right to follow his muse even if it leads him into blatant stupidity (ironic or otherwise). One can read this motif into the absurd shaggy-dog story of a dental floss rancher in "Montana," the album's indisputable highlight, which features amazing, uncredited vocal backing from Tina Turner and the Ikettes. As with much of Zappa's best '70s and '80s material, Over-Nite Sensation could be perceived as ideologically problematic (if you haven't got the constitution for FZ's humor), but musically, it's terrific.

One of Zappa’s most popular albums of the 70s (and indeed, of his entire career), Over-Nite Sensation featured one of Zappa’s most talented touring bands, as well as some of his most enduring concert staples, such as “I’m the Slime,” “Dinah-Moe Humm” and “Montana.”

It has recurring themes of seediness and filth, as illustrated on the cover and implied, really, in the name of the album itself. An “overnight sensation” is a sudden success; spelling it “nite” suggests a cheapness by calling into American insta-culture cf. “lite” and “e-z”. But it’s also, coming from Zappa, a reference to sensations felt at night, i.e., sexual ones.

Forty years ago, Frank Zappa reminded us once again of his status as rock's top arch-ironist by naming his 17th album 'Over-nite Sensation.' Of far greater significance, however, the record represents a comeback of sorts for Zappa, who struggled a bit in the early part of the '70s.

By the time of the album's release in September 1973, a decade had passed since Zappa and his self-described "repulsive teen combo" the Mothers of Invention started flipping the rock establishment on its head with their genre-defying music and caustic social commentary.

But after controversially disbanding the original Mothers in 1969, and then being attacked on a London stage two years later, a wheelchair-bound Zappa had spent the better part of 1972 composing instrumental, orchestral and big-band music for what became known as 'The Grand Wazoo.'

So it wasn't until the sessions for 'Over-nite Sensation' began, in March 1973, that an almost fully recovered Zappa started behaving like his old self again, revealing itself in the album's updated interpretation of the old Mothers aesthetic -- even though only multi-instrumentalist Ian Underwood remained from the '60s lineup. Alongside his wife and percussionist Ruth, keyboardist-vocalist George Duke and a new generation of supporting musicians, Underwood was unknowingly serving Zappa's vision for defining the sound that would carry him through much of the '70s.

That sound pushed Zappa's formidable guitar playing to the fore, along with his increasingly graphic sexual comedy (in contrast to the politicized lyrics of the '60s), while his typically adventurous, genre-crossing creations were performed by professionally trained, sight-reading musicians capable of executing whatever Zappa threw at them with the utmost ensemble precision (something the original Mothers could never do to their leader's satisfaction).

All of these qualities permeate 'Over-nite Sensation' favorites like 'Camarillo Brillo,' 'Dirty Love' and 'Dina Moe Humm,' and struck a chord with younger, mostly male fans who could relate to songs so radically torn between the conservatory and the gutter. Meanwhile, other tunes like 'Zomby Woof,' 'Montana' and the especially memorable 'I Am the Slime' gleefully traffic in varying depths of absurdity, supported by uncredited background vocals from the spectacular Tina Turner and her Ikettes.

Fed up with the lack of financial means his career had brought him so far, in 1973 Zappa took a new approach to his albums, that was much more in line with what the general public expected of a rock artist. Instead of the recent albums, most of them either instrumental or bizarre story telling pieces, Zappa adapted the normal compiling of an album: a set of songs with lyrics, limited in size, without lengthy soloing. Besides that he took more sight of the spotlights by starting to sing most of his songs himself as far as his voice allowed him to do so. Because he had a limited vocal range, the more versatile parts still had to be sung by others. This, with a lot of deviation allowed, remained the course for the coming years. Thus in 1973 appeared "Overnite sensation" (deliberately spelled wrongly) followed by "Apostrophe (')" in the next year, both selling well. Apart from being commercially successfull, Zappa personally also seemed to be fond of these albums. Most of their tracks exist in live variants as well and he kept including songs from these two albums in every tour since they premiered.

Of course not all fans were happy about these developments -- namely those partial to the Mothers of Invention and Zappa's more erudite output. But the typical rock-music consumer had spoken, or was about to, as the following year's 'Apostrophe' album (largely recorded during the same sessions, with the same musicians and same musical hallmarks) soon rode 'Over-nite Sensation's' momentum to the Top 10 and to Zappa's first gold sales certification.

Frank Zappa wanted to use backup singers on the songs "I'm the Slime", "Dirty Love", "Zomby Woof", "Dinah-Moe Humm" and "Montana". His road manager suggested The Ikettes, and Ike & Tina Turner were contacted. Ike Turner insisted that Zappa pay the singers, including Tina Turner, no more than $25 per song. However, an invoice shows that they were actually paid $25 per hour, and in total $187.50 each for 7 1/2 hours of service. During the recording sessions, Tina brought Ike into the studio to hear the highly difficult middle section of "Montana" which had taken the Ikettes a few days to learn and master. Ike listened to the tape and responded "What is this shit?" before leaving the studio. Ike later insisted that Zappa not credit the Ikettes on the released album.

Track listing:

1     Camarillo Brillo     3:59
2     I'm The Slime     3:34
3     Dirty Love     2:58
4     Fifty-Fifty     6:09
5     Zombie Woof     5:10
6     Dina-Moe Humm     6:01
7     Montana     6:35


    Arranged By, Conductor, Producer – Frank Zappa
    Guitar – Frank Zappa
    Bass – Tom Fowler
    Drums – Ralph Humphrey
    Flute, Clarinet, Saxophone [Alto, Tenor] – Ian Underwood   
    Keyboards, Synthesizer – George Duke
    Marimba, Vibraphone, Percussion – Ruth Underwood
    Trombone – Bruce Fowler (3)
    Trumpet – Sal Marquez
    Violin, Violin [Baritone] – Jean-Luc Ponty

Mike Stern - 2001 "Voices"

Voices is an album by Mike Stern, released in 2001 through Atlantic Records. The album reached a peak position of number twenty-three on Billboard's Top Jazz Albums chart.

How does a guitar hero re-invent himself? After nine albums of awe-inspiring chops, melodic and lyrical phrasing and sizzling six-string statements in all manner of contexts, what is there left to say? Mike Stern answered that question by digging deep and coming up with the album that has been inside of him for years. Voices, his tenth recording for Atlantic Jazz, is easily his most inspired outing to date. By organically melding his formidable guitar prowess into the fabric of engaging, uplifting vocal tunes, Stern stands poised to bring his own signature six-string voice to a wider audience in much the same way that Carlos Santana re-introduced himself to contemporary pop audiences with Supernatural. Stern's killer guitar work - previously heard on recordings by Miles Davis, Steps Ahead, and the Brecker Brothers band - is still very much intact on Voices. It's just in the service of the celebratory grooves and remarkably expressive voices that grace this world beat flavored project.

"I've always wanted to do a record with voices", says the Grammy-nominated guitarist. "Some of the tunes that I've written in the past, with tricky kind of beboppish heads, are just unsingable. But then there are some tunes of mine that singers have always mentioned to me that they liked very much... the more singable, lyrical tunes. And so I always thought it would be cool to hook up with singers and explore that further."

One of the primary inspirations for the project was Cameroonian bassist and vocalist extraordinaire Richard Bona, whom Mike had met some years back at a jazz festival in Israel. "I was there with the Mike Stern/Bob Berg Band and he was there playing with the Zawinul Syndicate. We ended up jamming that night back at the hotel room and later when he moved to New York we talked about getting together on a project. And we've just kept in touch over the years until we were finally able to realize this collaboration."

Through multiple overdubbing, Bona creates a triumphant vocal choir on the buoyant opener, One World. Mike responds in kind with a typically heroic guitar solo, wailing freely within the densely woven fabric of this well-crafted piece. Bona also lends his appealing vocals to the relaxed groove of The River, which is underscored by producer Jim Beard's churchy piano playing and sparked by Stern's earthy blues phrasing. Other singers who appear on Voices are Elizabeth Kontomanou, Arto Tuncboyaciyan and Philip Hamilton, formerly of Full Circle, a popular world beat group from the 80's. "The kind of voices that Richard, Arto and Philip have really appealed to me for this project", explains Stern. "They all can sing in a kind of falsetto voice that is so beautiful, like a soprano sax but, of course, better. There's no comparison to the human voice but I like that high register for these kind of melodies. And Elizabeth, interestingly enough, has a very low voice for a woman. So it's really a rich, soulful voice, which added another quality to the record."

That sultry quality is perhaps best showcased on Elizabeth's intimate reading of the elegant Brazilian flavored ballad What Might Have Been, which is underscored by drummer Vinnie Colaiuta's gentle brushwork and Stern's nuanced delivery on nylon string acoustic guitar. Kontomanou also appears on the moody Slow Change, which features some killer distortion-laced licks from Stern, and sings alongside Hamilton on two other pieces - the buoyant African flavored groover Spirit and the bristling Leni's Smile, an upbeat ode to Mike's singer-songwriter wife Leni Stern. "I wanted Leni to be on this record too", says Mike. "I was so inspired by her last record (the symphonic Kindness of Strangers) that I wanted to work with her on my project. Usually we prefer to keep our careers separate but this would've been a perfect opportunity to collaborate. That was kind of the plan but we just got so swamped with things that it didn't happen. But we'll have to save that for the future, because I definitely want to record with vocals again."

Given the exotic tendencies of the featured singers on Voices, the tunes ended up lending themselves toward a world beat vibe, which actually surprised and pleased Stern. "Naturally, the tunes with Richard have an African sounding vibe to them", he says. "And then there's one called Way Out East, which is a play on Sonny Rollins' famous album title Way Out West. That one features Arto on vocals and it's got a distinctly Middle Eastern quality to it, like something you might associate with Morocco or Turkey."

Other guests on Voices include tenor sax giant Michael Brecker, drummer Dennis Chambers, bassists Chris Doky and Lincoln Goines, guitarist Jon Herington and the young tenor sax burner in Stern's current working band, Bob Franseschini.

"We went for more of a live approach than layering it all in the studio", says Stern. "We could've done this with sequencers and stuff but then you lose the burn factor from the live performance. We wanted to just play. And actually, it all went down smoothly in three days - two days with Vinnie Colaiuta and one day with Dennis Chambers. The only things I overdubbed was one tune where I broke a string in the middle of the solo and another tune where a microphone fell from one of my amps during my solo, so I had to play that one over. Everything else is just live. And that's really what I wanted for this album - the live vibe with real drums and piano in the same room and a little bit of leakage so that it sounds real."

Stern reveals that Voices actually represents a return to his roots, in a sense. "In a weird way, this project is really about coming full circle for me. I actually was in an opera when I was little and was also singing in the church choir. So the voice was kind of the first instrument I had even before guitar."

Mike Stern has had the makings of Voices within him for quite some time. Only now has it come to the surface. Voices is his tenth recording for the Atlantic Jazz label. With Voices, Stern has poised himself for popular (i.e. commercial) acclaim. Always a critical darling, Stern has remained somewhat unknown to the CD buying public. If you hadn't been turned on to his music, he flew under your radar.

Much like Carlos Santana did with Supernatural, Stern is re-inventing himself with Voices. The purpose of this CD is to bring Stern a wider audience. It does! A technical genius, whose phrasing and sizzling guitar riffs have made him a much sought after jazz-rock-fusion guitarslinger, Stern has appeared on albums by an eclectic group of artists. The Brecker Brothers, Steps Ahead and Miles Davis to name but a few, have all benefited from Mike Sterns guitar wizardry. Stern was also a member of Blood, Sweat & Tears.

With Voices, Stern has taken his remarkable six string pieces and meshed them with vocals. These vocals are supplied by, among others, Elizabeth Kontomanou (on "What Might Have Been"), Arto Tuncboyaciyan and Philip Hamilton, formerly of Full Circle, and Richard Bona (who layers his voice many times over to create a kind of Choir on the album's opener "One World."

Other highlights include "The River" also sung by Bona, "Slow Change" "Way Out East" and "Spirit" with its African groove and wonderful atmospheric sound.

Voices is much more than just the new Mike Stern CD. It is a celebration of music and the feelings that music (and vocals) can convey. Stern, along with guest musicians Michael Brecker and Bob Franseschini on saxophones, Dennis Chambers on drums , bassist Chris Doky, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, Jon Herington on guitar and Lincoln Goines on additional basses have created a vibe that is both inspirational and uplifting.

Track listing:

1.    "One World"    6:25
2.    "The River (Tongo)"    6:29
3.    "Slow Change"    7:15
4.    "Wishing Well"    6:12
5.    "Still There"    7:33
6.    "Spirit"    6:38
7.    "What Might Have Been"    5:33
8.    "Leni's Smile"    5:33
9.    "Way Out East"    7:05
Total length:    58:43


    Mike Stern – guitar
    Michael Brecker – saxophone
    Jon Herington – rhythm guitar
    Richard Bona – bass, kalimba, vocals
    Chris Minh Doky – double bass
    Lincoln Goines – bass guitar
    Dennis Chambers – drums
    Vinnie Colaiuta – drums
    Bob Franceschini – saxophone
    Philip Hamilton – vocals
    Elisabeth Kontomanou – vocals
    Arto Tuncboyaciyan – percussion, vocals
    Jim Beard – production, keyboards

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Allman Brothers - 1972 [1986] "Eat A Peach"

Eat a Peach is the third studio album by American rock band the Allman Brothers Band. Produced by Tom Dowd, the album was released on February 12, 1972, in the United States by Capricorn Records. Following their artistic and commercial breakthrough with the release of the live album At Fillmore East (1971), the Allman Brothers Band got to work on their third studio album. Many in the band were struggling, however, with heroin addictions, and checked into rehab to confront these problems. Shortly after leaving rehab, group leader and founder Duane Allman was killed in a motorcycle accident in the band's home of Macon, Georgia, making it the final album to feature the guitarist.

Eat a Peach was a mix of studio recordings—both with and without Duane Allman—and recordings from the band's famed 1971 Fillmore East performances. The album contains the extended half-hour-long "Mountain Jam," which was long enough to take up two full sides of the original double-LP. Other highlights include vocalist Gregg Allman's performance of his brother's favorite song, "Melissa," plus Dickey Betts' "Blue Sky", which went on to become a classic rock radio staple.

The album artwork was created by W. David Powell and J. F. Holmes at Wonder Graphics, and depicts the band's name on a peach truck, in addition to a large gatefold mural of mushrooms and fairies. The album's title came from a quote by Duane Allman: "You can't help the revolution, because there's just evolution ... Every time I'm in Georgia, I eat a peach for peace ... the two-legged Georgia variety."

Issued as a double album in February 1972, Eat a Peach was an immediate success and peaked at number four on Billboard's Top 200 Pop Albums chart. The album was later certified platinum and remains a top seller in the band's discography.

A tribute to the dearly departed Duane, Eat a Peach rambles through two albums, running through a side of new songs, recorded post-Duane, spending a full album on live cuts from the Fillmore East sessions, then offering a round of studio tracks Duane completed before his death. On the first side, they do suggest the mellowness of the Dickey Betts-led Brothers and Sisters, particularly on the lovely "Melissa," and this stands in direct contrast with the monumental live cuts that dominate the album. They're at the best on the punchier covers of "One Way Out" and "Trouble No More," both proof of the group's exceptional talents as a roadhouse blues-rock band, but Duane does get his needed showcase on "Mountain Jam," a sprawling 33-minute jam that may feature a lot of great playing, but is certainly a little hard for anyone outside of diehards to sit through. Apart from that cut, the record showcases the Allmans at their peak, and it's hard not to feel sad as the acoustic guitars of "Little Martha" conclude the record, since this tribute isn't just heartfelt, it offers proof of Duane Allman's immense talents and contribution to the band

 Track listing:

1     Ain't Wastin' Time No More     3:37
2     Les Brers In A Minor     9:00
3     Melissa     3:52
4     Mountain Jam     33:40
5     One Way Out     4:57
6     Trouble No More     3:43
7     Stand Back     3:20
8     Blue Sky     5:08
9     Little Martha     2:07


    Duane Allman – slide guitar, lead guitar, acoustic guitar on all tracks except "Ain't Wastin' Time No More", "Les Brers in A Minor" and "Melissa"
    Dickey Betts – lead guitar, lead vocals on "Blue Sky"
    Gregg Allman – lead vocals, Hammond organ, piano, Fender Rhodes electric piano, acoustic guitar
    Berry Oakley – bass guitar
    Jai Johanny Johanson – drums, congas
    Butch Trucks – drums, percussion, timpani, gong, vibes, tambourine