Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Brecker Brothers - 1978 "Heavy Metal Be-Bop"

Heavy Metal Be-Bop is a live album by the American jazz fusion group, the Brecker Brothers that was released by Arista Records in 1978. The album also includes the studio track "East River", which reached number 34# in the UK singles chart in November 1978.

Recorded live in New York, this explosive set of jazz, funk, and rock material was without question ahead of its time. Michael and Randy's use of electronically altered saxophone and trumpet sounds is amazing. 

This is just an absolute JEWEL. Zappa fans will recognize Terry Bozzio in addition to the Brecker brothers themselves, and MAN, what a combo! Michael Brecker just shreds on every solo, and Randy finds nuances with the "electric trumpet" that have never been heard before or since. Some will want this for the novelty of the electric tenor sax and trumpet, but there are FINE examples of modern BeBop solos here, over a high-powered rhythm section that kicks and jumps all over everything the soloists lay down. This is the kind of rhythm section that can make ANYBODY sound good, but the Brecker brothers talent is unmatched; a combination that presents an order of magnitude. Bass players NEED to hear Neil Jason, and guitar players NEED to hear Barry Finnerty on this. Blistering tight unison lines will prove once again why Zappa saved his most intricate horn passages for these guys, and why you won't hear them at tempo with anybody else. I sincerely hope for more of this largely unexplored flavor of jazz. I haven't found anything else that quite measures up to this.

"Heavy Metal Be-Bop" is a land mark fusion recording. The first tune is from the studio and the rest are recorded from a smoking live set. "East River" is the studio tune and is vocal. The song has a funky bassline and is fun but compared to the rest of the disc it is out of place. The rest of the disc is unreal. The band consists of Neal Jason on bass, Barry Finnerty on guitar, Terry Bozzio on drums, Michael Brecker on Sax, and Randy Brecker on trumpet. "Inside Out" is a Randy Brecker tune and Randy, Michael and Barry all have some fun with it. The tune is basic (For the Brecker Brothers) and they all play over the groove set by Bozzio/Jason. "Some Skunk Funk" is another Randy Brecker composition and a classic. This is one of the funkiest tunes that I have ever heard and the brothers play some of the greatest horn lines that you will ever hear. There are also some unison lines and the power of the band is on par with metal. "Sponge" is another funky piece and it features the explosive drumming of Bozzio. The band trades fours throughout Bozzio's rhythmic wizardry. "Funky sea, Funky Dew' is a Michael Brecker extravaganza. He takes the studio version and improves on it. Not only is his playing during the song great but there is a solo at the end that is amazing and then he is joined by just the bass of Jason which elevates him to a level that is beyond words. "Squids" is the closer to this set and has the brothers ,once again, playing over some serious funk. This disc is one of the greatest I've ever heard and is the greatest Horn orientated fusion disc ever. I only wish that there were more than five live songs but those five are worth any price. As highly recommended as anything can be.

This is the most incredible music ever, no BB album has surpassed this. A live album with Terry Bozzio having just joined the band after leaving Frank Zappa. The version of Some Skunk Funk is worth the whole price. Phenomenal! Will leave you out of breath and panting for more. One studio track kind of ok, an attempt at top 40, but the rest is - wow! Line up is guitar, bass, drums and Breckers. Randy plays some organ and uses a harmonizer to add 5ths and 4ths to his trumpet, so it sounds like more than just 2 horn players. Just hard to imagine what this would have been like to see live. Too bad it wasn't a double album when it was released in the late 70's. I want more of this! 

Tracks Listing

1.East River (3:38)
2.Inside Out (9:32)
3.Some Skunk Funk (7:01 )
4.Sponge (6:24)
5.Funky Sea,Funky Dew (8:03)
6.Squids (7:57 )

Total Time 41:55


- Randy Brecker / electric trumpet, keyboards
- Michael Brecker / electric tenor sax
- Barry Finnerty / guitars, GuitarGanizer, background vocals
- Terry Bozzio / drums, background vocals
- Neil Jason / bass, lead vocals

Additional Musicians

- Sammy Figueroa / percussion
- Rafael Cruz / percussion
- Kask Monet / handclaps, percussion, background vocals
- Jeff Schoen / background vocals
- Roy Herring / background vocals
- Paul Schaeffer / fender rhodes
- Victoria / tambourine
- Alan Schwartzberg / drums
- Bob Clearmountain & friends / handclaps

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Larry Coryell & Steve Khan - 1977 [1990] "Two For The Road"

Two for the Road is a live album by the American guitarists Larry Coryell and Steve Khan, which was released by Arista Records in 1977.

Intermittently on the road as an acoustic duo between gaps in the schedules of their respective ultra-hip fusion bands, Larry Coryell and Steve Khan managed to record several shows and then panned the tape stream to find the nuggets for posterity. There are choices that might have been made out of the fashions of the day, such as the version of Chick Corea's "Spain" that opens the album's first side. Thankfully there are also selections that are here because both guitarists must have realized they were playing magnificently.
Coryell's flair for Wayne Shorter extends beyond simply mastering the tunes to conceptualizing unique guitar settings. Parts of "Juju"'s head are pronounced in simple, chiming harmonics, a delightful way of pointing out that these players understand the guitar in its totality, not just the parts of it that can be used to impress speedfreaks. The hot version of "Footprints" doesn't really express the mystery of Shorter's original mood, yet is terrifically in line with the Django Reinhardt approach to playing a tune, once again full of the kinds of activities fans of acoustic guitar music will find pleasurable.
"St. Gallen" is, in some ways, a remarkable performance. The long introduction sounds like a solo from Coryell, parts of which might be the missing link between him and Derek Bailey. An episode thick with minor seconds and low, throbbing dissonance is only one of many stops on a route that in some ways is as breathtaking as the "milk run" that leaves the St. Gallen station and heads into the Swiss Alps, stopping at farmhouses along the way to pick up fresh dairy shipments. Prior to evoking this image, the piece in its initial moments includes passages of purely show-off rapidity culminating in a lethal swipe at the bridge, the equivalent of a mad critic throwing a knife at a fusion guitarist mid-solo stream.
Khan's admiration for his partner is evident from the liner notes alone. His own style is edgy and observant, and while he doesn't sound simply like someone trying to keep up, he too easily agrees to participate in moments of pieces that come off as more or less typical jamming, such as "Son of Stiff Neck." As for the previously mentioned "Spain," it's too bad they went there -- although anybody performing on this scene during this era was expected to play this "In the Midnight Hour" of jazz standards. A chord emphasized much beyond its importance immediately sets the stage for a flat performance in which the main question listeners might ask themselves is why are there so many notes in the theme -- not the desired reaction when performing a head. The live recording quality is excellent, the tracks fading quickly when the applause begins.

Why this recording is not on CD is a mystery to me. I bought the original LP when it first came out and was astounded by the level of playing. Thankfully, I have some of the tracks from this record on tape, but will order the vinyl again at some point.

No offense to fans of Ovation guitars, but I love the fact that the instruments on this live recording are ASW (all solid wood, with the attendant sound). The recording quality is good, and though the playing is of a highly virtuosic level it does not suffer from technical sterility. "Footprints" is my favorite of the tracks. I remember when this album came out many electric players were floored to hear jazz played like this on acoustic guitars.

As the previous reviewer has noted, this was a remarkable album when released in the late 1970s. To this day, I am amazed at the technical AND musical accomplishments of Larry Coryell. A very rare individual indeed. Here he is astounding along with fine support from fellow fusion player Steve Khan. Guitar enthusiasts take note, if you can find a copy of this recording, by all means grab it. It holds up extremely well. By the way, I would like to know why the Arista records portion of Larry's catalogue is still in some kind of musical limbo. The artist and music fans alike deserve better. P.S. Nice cover artwork. 

Track listing

    "Spain" (Chick Corea, Joaquín Rodrigo) – 5:20
    "Bouquet" (Bobby Hutcherson) – 5:30
    "Son of Stiff Neck" (Larry Coryell, Steve Khan) – 5:35
    "JuJu" (Wayne Shorter) – 3:08
    "St Gallen" (Larry Coryell) – 7:10
    "Footprints" (Wayne Shorter) – 5:30
    "General Moto’s Well Laid Plan" (Steve Swallow) – 5:07
    "Toronto under the Sign of Capricorn" (Larry Coryell) – [Bonus Track] 8:38
    "For Philip and Django" (Larry Coryell) – [Bonus Track] 4:32
    "Rodrigo Reflections" (Larry Coryell) – [Bonus Track] 7:22


    Larry Coryell – guitar
    Steve Khan – guitar

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Mike Stern - 1992 "Standards (and other songs)"

Guitarist Mike Stern, best-known for playing rock-oriented fusion and in more commercial settings, surprised many listeners by recording an album dominated by standards. Actually, there are three originals included among the 11 pieces, but Stern also digs into such songs as "Like Someone in Love," "Moment's Notice," Chick Corea's "Windows," and "Straight No Chaser." Among Stern's sidemen on this fairly straight-ahead but adventurous set are trumpeter Randy Brecker, Bob Berg on tenor, and keyboardist Gil Goldstein. This little-known release is well-worth acquiring.

Mike Stern always has displayed a large be-bop influence in both his playing and compositions so this Cd was inevitable. What we end up hearing on this disc is the closest thing to seeing Mike Stern's band live until he actually releases a live disc. The playing is amazing and he adds new life to some standards. Although all of the covers were written for piano or saxophone, Mike shows that guitar is a great medium for Jazz. Among the highlights are "There is no greater Love" and "Straight No Chaser". There isn't a dissapointing moment on the entire disc. The one noticable difference between this one and the others is the sound of Mr. Stern's guitar. Unlike the other discs ,where he will incorporate a distorted tone during a part of a song, the whole Cd is played with a clean tone. However, this does not stop Mike from displaying non-jazz influences in his playing. Mike Stern doesn't play with the unbelievable speed of other guitarists (Holdsworth,Lane,Etc.) but he does have a unique style and nobody puts together phrases better than him. For anyone that would like to learn another way to approach the instrument this is a great place to start. Actually this Cd is great for any jazz/fusion lover because there are many lessons to be learned on this recording. 

Stern's 'Standards and Other Songs' originally came as a disappointment to me, though I'm ashamed to admit it. The issue, I think, was that I expected the same sort of 'balsy' distorted funk-bebop of, say, 'Play'--a great album in and of itself--yet, 'Standards' is much more subdued than any other Stern outings I can think of. No distortion. Quiet. Little audible harmonic accompanyment to many of the solos.
The great thing about this album, then, is the way Stern really comes through as the killer bebopper that he is. Close listeners will hear the harmonic movement imbedded in the lines and not miss another comping instrument (there is a keyboard on a few tracks, but it is quite subdued and quiet).
Though, I confess, I think 'Between the Lines' and 'Give and Take' are my favorites of Stern's, 'Standards' offers something that these don't. Much like Metheny's Trio outings, it gives one a different perspective and a different flavor--and a wonderful one at that. It's technically impressive, grooving, and it also helps to solidify Stern as one of the best bebop guitarists out there today.
A few other points
* For those who've seen Mike at the 55 Bar in NYC or wish to, 'Standards' is much more in line with that sort of playing than his other work, save perhaps 'Give and Take'.
* Those who are not well-versed in Bird, Trane, etc--ie, rock fans getting into jazz via Stern, Chick, etc (as I was when I first got the album at 16) will probably not "get it" first time out; conversely, close listening will speed that transition
* Again, it is a very quiet album--indeed, perhaps this is my biggest complaint; not only is the playing subdued (not a problem), but recording volume is not especially high.

Mike Stern - Standards and Other Songs
Stern is a fusion guitarist, but here turns his attention to jazz standards. This CD shows them played in a way I had never before heard them played on the guitar. His playing is fleet and his lines run nimbly ... there is an irrepressible momentum that makes every bar compelling and propels the music onward. There is great subtlety of dynamic control too, and beauty in the tracks 'Circles' and 'Peace'. (His tone is lightly chorussed, an effect that usually does not appeal to me, but in Stern's handsk it fits perfectly - he has made this sound his own.) It changed forever my way of thinking about jazz guitar: here are standards, played in a non-standard way, with virutosity and without cliche. A totally fresh and essential jazz guitar album.

Guitarist Mike Stern, who has earned accolades and awards for playing high-energy rock-oriented fusion on albums such as "Give And Take" and "Play", did an about-face in 1992 by releasing a CD of. jazz/bebop standards. Standards (And Other Songs) also includes three original numbers (the 'other songs'), but for the most part, Stern uses a lightly-chorused, clean guitar sound on such classics as Miles Davis' "Nardis" and "Jean Pierre", John Coltrane's "Moment's Notice", Chick Corea's "Windows" and Thelonius Monk's "Straight No Chaser". Stern recruited a number of more-than-able musicians to accompany him through the adventurous material, including trumpeter Randy Brecker, sax man Bob Berg, and keyboardist/producer Gil Goldstein. Standards (And Other Songs) may have received little fanfare upon its initial release, but it is a CD well worth acquiring for a fresh, virtuosic and guitaristic spin on these compositions.

Track listing:

06:37     Like Someone In Love   
01:49     Source   
09:12     There Is No Greater Love    
05:46     L Bird    
04:40     Moment's Notice   
06:47     Lost Time  
06:29     Windows   
05:26     Straight No Chaser   
05:17     Peace    
01:44     Jean Pierre   
07:37     Nardis    


Mike Stern      -      Guitar
Al Foster      -      Drums
Jay Anderson      -      Acoustic Bass
Ben Perowsky      -      Drums ("Lost Time" and "Nardis")
Larry Grenadier      -      Acoustic Bass ("Lost Time" and "Nardis")
Randy Brecker      -      Trumpet
Bob Berg      -      Saxophone
Gil Goldstein      -      Keyboards, Production

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Tommy Bolin - 1974 [1996] "Live at Ebbets Field"

During his tragically short career, Tommy Bolin played with many different musicians and bands. In early June 1974, Bolin was still a member of the about-to-splinter James Gang, and decided to book a couple of nights at the Denver club Ebbets Field to try out some new material he'd written. He called upon his old band Energy to back him up, and the show (finally officially released on CD) is a guitar player's dream, especially for those into the classic sounds of Jeff Beck, Santana, and Hendrix. And even though the five songs that contain vocals (courtesy of Jeff Cook) are quite good, it's the other five instrumental tracks that make this disc a fine testament to the Tommy Bolin legacy. Bolin lends his touch to such raging rockers as the opening "You Know, You Know" and "Homeward Strut," while fans of the Allman Brothers should definitely check out "Shakin' All Night," with its fluid slide guitar work. Also included are nasty renditions of the blues-rock standards "Born Under a Bad Sign" and "Ain't No Sunshine," combined as a medley. Even though some of these tracks ("San Francisco River," "Stratus," etc.) have been issued on some of the other releases from the Tommy Bolin Archives record label, they are all versions from different recording dates. This is an excellent live document showing what Bolin could accomplish while jamming for fun, in the company of some good friends. All Music.

Live At Ebbets Field 1974 is simple amazing. Combining Tommy's virtuoso jazz/rock/fusion guitar playing with an incredible rhythm section, this CD simply blows me away. From the opening "You Know, You Know" to the heart-pounding "Crazed Fandago" to the closing "Stratus" this CD showcases Tommy at his best. A must-have not only for Tommy Bolin fans but for anyone interested in exploring the electric guitar world.

This has to be one of the best Tommy Bolin cds out as far as his guitar playing is concerned. Great solos straight ahead rock and roll. I like most of the stuff Tommy has out but this was him cutting loose if you like live cds by Rory Gallgher or Joe Bonamassa then you will love this. Thanks for reading.

When Tommy Bolin took a break from being in the James Gang, and returned home to Colorado 1974, he gathered up some of his closest musical buddies for two nights of performances at Denver's legendary tiny Ebbets Field. Both nights were broadcast on the radio, and the result is this CD. If you love technically charged, inventive passionate guitar music that flows from powerful rock to over the top fusion playing, this set is for you. In it, Bolin proves why he is one of the most loved and respected of guitar cult legends. The likes of Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Joe Perry, Vernon Reid, and David Hidalgo are all huge fans of Bolin. With the purchase of this CD, you will understand why.

Tommy Bolin was in the midst of a tour with the James Gang in 1974 when he returned to Colorado and broadcast two nights of performances on the radio with friends, luckily someone recorded it and that is what you have on this CD - this was when he was fairly straight and his playing had not started to deteriorate once heroin started taking over in late 75 and 76 - his playing is still strong, fiery, funky and outta site ---- there are previews of songs here that would make it onto the following years "Teaser" album but for the most part this is a jam album with covers of blues songs and jazz and fusion numbers by groups that Tommy admired, leaving plenty of room for him to solo --- and boy does he deliver on those goods - at the end of the CD someone yells out for him to do a song from Spectrum, the Billy Cobham album he appeared on the previous year and Tommy agrees, rounding out the album with an exploding version of "stratus" - the solo on that song alone as it builds up intensity, power and distortion is worth the price of this CD alone - if you are new to Tommy's music this CD and the above mentioned Spectrum CD are where you need to start - he did great work on James Gang "Bang" and DP's "Come Taste the Band" but Ebbets Field 74 and Spectrum are the Kentucky Derby/ Indy 500 checkered flag winners - by far - SMOKIN.....

Tommy Bolin as blues-rock guitar hero, unleashed in a way he never was on his studio recordings. The beefed-up triple percussion section propels him through his most aggressive playing; blues covers, jazz fusion, molten hard rock, and the first airing of “Homeward Strut.” Again, the Zebra Records version adds sonic quality. This CD is culled from the 2 nights of live performances at Ebbets Field in Denver that Tommy put together during the time he was in The James Gang. The band was basically the then defunct Energy, Jeff Cook, Stanley Sheldon, and Bobby Berge, and guests Archie Shelby and Russell Bizet. The format of these shows allowed Tommy to dominate with some of his most ferocious guitar work. Songs include “You Know You Know,” “San Francisco River,” “Shakin’ All Night,” “Walkin’ My Shadow,” “Born Under a Bad Sigh/Ain’t No Sunshine,” “Crazed Fandango,” “Honey Man,” and “Stratus.” 63 Minutes.

 Track Listings

  1. You Know, You Know
  2. San Francisco River
  3. Shakin' All Night
  4. Whiskey Headed Woman
  5. Walkin' My Shadow
  6. Born Under A Bad Sign/Ain't No Sunshine
  7. Crazed Fandango
  8. Ain't Nobody's Fool
  9. Homeward Strut
  10. Honey Man
  11. Stratus


    Tommy Bolin - Guitar
    Stanley Sheldon - Bass
    Bobby Berge, Russell Bizet - Drums
    Archie Shelby - Percussion
    Jeff Cook - voice

Billy Cobham - 1974 [2000] "Crosswinds"

Crosswinds is the second album of fusion drummer Billy Cobham. The album was released in 1974. It comprises four songs, all composed by Billy Cobham. It was used as the basis for the Souls of Mischief's hit song "93 'til Infinity". Wiki

Billy Cobham's second date as a leader was one of his better sessions. Four songs (all originals by the leader/drummer) comprise "Spanish Moss -- A Sound Portrait," and, in addition, Cobham contributed three other pieces. The selections team him with guitarist John Abercrombie, both of the Brecker Brothers, trombonist Garnett Brown, keyboardist George Duke, bassist John Williams, and Latin percussionist Lee Pastora. In general, the melodies and the vamps are reasonably memorable. Cobham also takes an unaccompanied drum solo on "Storm." Worth searching for by fusion collectors.  All Music

Billy Cobham made this album at a pivotal point. The original Mahavishnu Orchestra had disbanded, John McLaughlin was wallowing, and jazz purists were beginning to complain about the rock influence. Billy helped show a new direction. Crosswinds opening suite has lush and sophisticated horn arrangments, soothing a subtly intense rhythm. The effect is like night, tropical breezes, just as he wants to convey. You can almost hear the ocean, the music of the wild Caribbean (no steel drums of course, just cool). The rest of the album alternates between hot and cool, with some funky fusion and a beautiful extended piece, Heathers, near the end, featuring a trombone solo that sounds like the soundtrack to a loving and relaxing dream. The album is inspired, Billy at his creative best, showing the jazz world a new dimension that fusion had not shown before. At 35 minutes it is a little short, but we have quality here, not quantity. This album belongs in any jazz or fusion collection. By D. M. Paine

"Crosswinds" has been in my vinyl collection since 1974, when I first picked up a copy at King Karol Records on 42nd Street in Manhattan. Well, I recently became reacquainted with this recording after picking up a CD copy at a "oh so trendy" record store in Haight-Ashburry, San Francisco. As I did then, I played the new CD over and over again, completely enraptured by Cobham's "Ripley's Believe or Not" staccatto drumming and Lee Pastora's smoking Latin percussion. Joined by the Brecker Brothers, George Duke, John Abercrombie, Alex Blake, John Williams, Garnett Brown and other great luminaries of early jazz fusion, Cobham and his willing partners beat and shape a veritable masterpiece. Drive along Big Sur and take in the vast and dramatic California skies and scarred bluffs and you'll begin to undertand what hues of emotions this exquisite recording conjures. Crosswinds alternates between adrenaline musical rushes and absolute sublime chill, creating a perfectly balanced sinuous stream of sound. Simply exquisite!  By Hector Reyes-erazo.

I got this album as a gift in 1974 when I was 19 years old. My unsuspecting sister had heard the name Billy Cobham, but did not realize what a masterpiece she had placed in my hands. Although a virtuoso drummer with monstrous chops, Billy doesn't let his virtuosity run away with him. Although those looking for impressive drumming will not be disapointed. His use of time on the the Crosswinds suite, his climactic "Storm" solo the driving end movement will satisfy drummers, air-drummers and percussion fans. This album exhibits Billy Cobham, composer and arranger. With a dark hues on his palette and a wide brush, Billy paints us quite a seascape. The "Pleasant Pheasant",one of my favorites, is energetic, driving, exciting and just a little bit funky. This features an exceptional and rhythmic drum solo. "Heather", what can I say about "Heather", hypnotic, seductive, well paced. It starts as a whisper of a siren's song and builds to what to date might be one of Michael Breckers most beautiful and haunting solos. This one is for the headphones, folks. "Heather" is worth the price of this recording alone. A stellar cast of musicians on this album work in concert and in symbiosis to produce one of the underated recordings in the "fusion" era. No pyrothechnics for it's own sake here. Impressive solo's abound within the context of the pieces. John Abercrombie, Michael Brecker, Randy Brecker, Garnett Brown, Lee Pastora ...etc., a dream team of musicians. This album should never have been gone this long from the CD shelves/racks/bins of music outlets. Few of Billy's recording measure up to this one in my opinion. By ND.NY 

Tracks Listing

Spanish Moss - "A Sound Portrait":
1. a. Spanish Moss (4:11)
2. b. Savannah the Serene (5:14)
3. c. Storm (2:52)
4. d. Flash Flood (5:08)
5. Pleasant Pheasant (5:21)
6. Heather (8:40)
7. Crosswind (3:42)

Total Running Time: (35:08)

Line-up / Musicians

-Billy Cobham/ drums, percussion.
- John Williams/ guitar (acoustic), bass (acoustic), bass (electric).
- Randy Brecker/ trumpet.
- Garnett Brown/ trombone.
- John Abercrombie/ guitars.
- George Duke/ keyboards, vocals.
- Lee Pastora / percussions 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Led Zeppelin - 1977 [1989] "Destroyer"

Destroyer is a bootleg recording from the English rock group Led Zeppelin's performance at Richfield Coliseum, Cleveland, Ohio on April 27, 1977. The soundboard recording is from the first show of two nights at the venue, which were part of the band's 1977 North American Tour. The album is technically titled simply Destroyer.
Initial vinyl pressings of the bootleg incorrectly credited Seattle, Washington as the location of this show. A limited edition of the four-LP set came in a plastic film reel carrying case bearing the legend "recorded June 24 'LED ZEPPELIN DESTROYER Unique Permanent Zeppelin Storage Case.'" The liner notes thanked John Bonham for letting the bootleg producers use the tape, and some songs were marred by the random splicing into them of segments from other songs.
The later three-CD sets fixed these errors, and eventually versions remastered from lower-generation source tapes surfaced. The exceptional sound quality throughout the performance is described by some sources as "almost perfect". It was the first, and for many years the only, professionally recorded mixing desk tape to escape from the band's possession.
The bootleg should not be confused with an audience recording from the following night in Cleveland, sometimes entitled The Destroyer. Though marred by poorer sound quality, and incomplete as a result of using 60-minute (instead of the longer 90-minute) cassette tapes for the recording, many critics consider this second performance better than the more famous first Destroyer gig.

I cannot say enough good things about this very RARE live 2cd set. I was skeptical when I ordered it. I have ZEP on Vinyl, remastered CD's, Box Sets, and Bootlegs and I Love them all, some of them I have bought more than once, none of them compare with this live show! Yes, their are mistakes it is Live....the mistakes are wonderful...Robert Plants interaction with the audience and the roadies is great to hear but JIMMY PAGE is LIVE and just takes off and does some absolutely Wonderful things....the 2nd disc is my favorite and I have have had it on ever since the mailman handed it to me. They give you no warning before taking you wherever they want. IT IS ZEPPELIN LIVE!!! As they were meant to be. I have been listening to ZEP since 1972.....Yes, I am that old, so I know what I say, if you can find it do yourself a favor and listen to ZEP RAW. I was lucky enough to see them once in this same year of 1977. Today....for just awhile I was right back there!!!!

Just received my copy of Led Zeppelin "Destroyer" bootleg copy of Zep in 1977,WOW!!!!!!! I have bought and made bootlegs before and this is TOP TEN material, a must for Zepheads like myself, all the classic songs and Page in good form. The discs arrived EARLY(first time with Amazon) nice packaging for a bootleg and it came with a bonus disc of 1969 early recordings for FREE(yep). Through Amazon I have found the perfect place for my books and now with music with GRAYDAYRECORDS on Amazon Marketplace. They also sent me a list of all there Zep products(wife not happy, spending more money), my only complaint wish they sent me there entire bootleg cat. Will being buying another disc( discs shhh wife might listen) right away...... oh and they do DVD'S TOO!!!!!

As a 1 star reviewer said, it's a bootleg. Obviously. It says so as soon as you click on it. So it won't have the sound quality of BBC Sessions or How The West Was Won. But if you're a Led Zep Fan-atic, and you must be or you wouldn't be reading these reviews, this album belongs in your collection. It's that simple, that cut and dried. Be forewarned, the first song is cut off in the beginning.Such is the characteristics of bootlegs.
I believe star ratings should be based on the recording and not the shipper and/or condition of the packaging. Although to comment on such is within reason.
That said, I would like to espouse Sleepy Hollow Sound. My first album had one song cut off and Kashmir was missing. I e-mailed them the problem and they e-mailed me back within two hrs. They said they would check their master and either send a new copy or a refund. The next a.m. I asked what the refund encompassed and within an hour they replied that a new copy was on the way. Then I got a personal phone call making sure the mailing address was correct, and had a very personable ten min. conversation. You can't find a better company to deal with. They make you know you're dealing with people, not a company.

When I was a wee lad, I heard about this allegedly amazing Led Zeppelin bootleg called Destroyer!! (perhaps it was named after the Kiss album of the same name, as they were both released around the same time, or maybe it was named that because it's frickin great, and it'll 'destroy' you [but in a good way]).

To Quote Wikipedia "It was the first, and for many years the only, professionally recorded mixing desk tape to escape from the band's possession".  So my friend Wade and I sought it out, and we were lucky enough to find it at a used records store (on CD, even!!). We split the cost and shared custody of it, each had it for one month at a time (I believe he still has the original copy, but I have since acquired it again).

This infamous bootleg was recorded at The Richfield Coliseum in Cleveland, Ohio on April 27, 1977 and boasts that it was recorded straight from the soundboard (perhaps by the soundman, himself, this is just a guess, of course), where-as most bootlegs are recorded by fans with a portable tape recorder (or today, with little digital recorders).

Despite the amazing sound quality, the album starts off on a somewhat unfortunate note (no pun intended), the opening track The Song Remains The Same, fades up shorty after the great instrumental intro and with Robert Plant's vocals, but I have come to accept this, as it is a bootleg, and nobody's perfect.

The rest of the album is recorded straight through, (except for Rock And Roll, which is also upcut) complete with Robert Plant's banter, and he does banter alot! I find it interesting that they are on the Presence tour, and they only played two songs from the album Nobody's Fault But Mine (Mr. Plant carries the end notes for quite a while and sounds great, doing so!!) and Achille's Last Stand!!  Granted, these are the two biggest tracks on the album. Robert Plant's vocals can be very hit or miss, especially after around 1975, but here he sounds great (it does crack a bit, to be expected after years of his amazing wail).

The band is tight and in excellent form (not quite as good as Earls Court 1975, when they were all at the top of their game and in peak form) but pretty damn good. And I am always happy to see what may be my all time favorite Zeppelin track, played live; In My Time Of Dying (Jimmy Page and his Danelectro guitar!!) great slide guitar from Jimmy here!! And the original studio version has some of Bonzo's best drum work, ever!! (It's not too shabby live, either!). And Jimmy Page's guitar work is stellar, through-out, as always. Disc two opens with The Battle Of Evermore, with John Paul Jones singing the parts originally sung by Sandy Denny. A very moving and stirring rendition. With commentary from Robert Plant complaining about the lack of treble in the monitors.

Next, they play Going To California, a nice, sweet little version. This is followed by Black Country Woman, one of my favorites, but they never seem to play the whole song, only about 1:30 to 2:00 of it, with alot of pre-song B.S from Robert Plant,(talking about John Paul Jones upright bass and how much he paid for it, in 1969) but still a good version, none-the-less. A great Jimmy Page acoustic solo opens Bron-Yr Aur Stomp, and that is followed by yet another great acoustic solo, mid song. Which is followed by a perennial Jimmy Page live nearly aca pella guitar jam White Summer, (Bonzo plays the bongos, intermittently). This transitions seemlessly into Kashmir (which features the usual Plant stutter and improv, of which he is a master). Achille's Last Stand kicks off with a dischordant aca pella guitar solo, featuring The Star Spangled Banner, and Jimmy Page's trademark Theremin and violin bow solos, which he normally does on Dazed And Confused). But this works, as well, as this too, is a seemless transition into Achille's. This is followed by some little ditty entitled Stairway To Heaven (perhaps a cover of the Neil Diamond song?) ;)

They close with Rock And Roll  and Trampled Under Foot. This is by far the best sounding bootleg I have ever heard, so if you don't own it, I highly recommend you seek it out. And yet another brilliant Led Zeppelin concert comes to a close.

Track listing:

Disc 1
1. The Song Remains The Same
2. The Rover/Sick Again
3. Nobody's Fault But Mine
4. In My Time Of Dying
5. Since I've Been Loving You
6. No Quarter
7. Ten Years Gone

Disc 2
1. The Battle Of Evermore
2. Going To California
3. Black Country Woman - Bron-Y-Aur Stomp
4. White Summer - Kashmire
5. Achilles Last Stand
6. Stairway To Heaven
7. Rock And Roll
8. Tramped Under Foot


Robert Plant - Vocals
Jimmy Page - Guitar
John Paul Jones - Bass, Organ
John Bonham - Drums

Saturday, January 23, 2016

AKA Moon - 2002 "Guitars"

Guitars is a 2002 album by jazz band Aka Moon. It was recorded in two days (August 18 and 19, 2001) at Studio Jet (Brussels, Belgium). It is the third CD from the 11-CD box edited by De Werf. Tracks 4, 5 and 6 are dedicated respectively to Jimi Hendrix, Jaco Pastorius and John Scofield, three great "guitarists".

Let's be real. How many people in the world outside of their native Belgium know who Aka Moon is? The ratio could be staggering. One in just how many? How many of you reading this right now think their name means "also known as moon?" Wrong. The name, and aspects of their music, stems from their passion for the AKA Pygmies, with whom they lived in the great forest of Central Africa in 1991. Absolutely world-class musicians, these guys operate on some kind of insanely artistic plane full of principle and integrity alien to the American musical way of life. I'm only assuming that, among many other lessons imparted from their world unto themselves, these AKA pygmies conveyed remarkable knowledge relating to time, percussion and rhythm- subjects that every musician in the band, and every guest on hand at this party, obviously cares very deeply about.

Thinking world music already? Somewhat. Thinking grant-receiving artistic types , no amps and a percussion back line a half mile long? No way. These guys rip and a lot of their music is extremely high energy and may be most accurately classified as -dare I say it- fusion. Oh my! The particular brand of excitement brought here by Aka Moon is compelling and its appeal broadbased. This is Aka Moon plus guitars, and they have friends in high places. Here's where the freaky part comes in. So do I, through my friendly neighborhood music scene. Two out of the three guys they picked call Boston home. David Gilmore now Brooklyn-based but from Cambridge , and Prasanna , Boston-based but from India, both of whom have released highly recommended discs recently. Rounding out the trio of guitars is Belgian tele-master Pierre Van Dormael , with whom Aka Moon has collaborated previously on their many Carbon-7 releases. Now, think of your favorite three guitarists on the planet and know that if Aka Moon had picked any one or all of them, the disc could not possibly be better than it is.

I actually listened to the music and scribbled a few notes without looking at the titles, only to discover that most contain homages to famous inspirations. But "Jimi's Three Words" owes much more compositionally to the opening of the way of Steve Coleman; so luckily, they've borrowed his guitarist and fellow-forward thinking rhythmatician, David Gilmore. See, David always knows what time it is, whether composing, playing along or fret melting, which he does here when allowed to utter the middle of the "Three Words". Each player is given ample time to show their juice on this odd -time rocker including altoist/composer Fabrizzio Cassol- his longest take on the disc here is full of the angular lines, use of intervallic structure, and progressions within a progression playing that Coleman's noted for. VanDormael follows with classic tele-toned, blues- laced improvisation - the influence of Stern on the note choices, style and tone is undeniable. For Gilmore's turn-no burn - the band goes vicious, morphing the odd-time riff over the bar line into a pummeling 4:4 rock vamp (turn this one up), complete with sequencer like, but heavy bass, for one of his many jawdroppers on the disc. Of the soloists statements on this tune, David's comes closest to kissing the sky while displaying the most ideas, which may just be the product of being the guy most ready to not think about them. This is the quality of his playing-a willing abandonment that goes beyond merely trusting intuition -wonderful tailspinning from which he is always capable of recovering - that continues to set him apart from some of his safer-playing downtown contemporaries. That being said, the guy who gets to go last, Prasanna, plays guitar, quite simply like nobody on the planet. Talk about being able to identify a guy in three notes! I don't know how he's doing it, but he sounds to be consciously executing quarter flat, quarter sharp- whatever microtones- all while incorporating western ideas into eastern virtuosity- and all on a conventional fretted Les Paul . Anyway, he manages to bring it all back down to earth while incorporating otherworldly phraseology into familiar source material (here, pentatonics).

With the change in track number to "The Last Call From Jaco", you realize these guys are compositionally astute, because quite simply, they have used the same exact riff and theme as the previous tune, letting it grow more spare and spacey. But it's only a track marker, after all, since the previous tune changed completely about halfway in, and on the way out only approximated how it had started. This is where I have to pause and note the contribution of Aka Moon's amazing section, St'phane Galland on drums and Michel Hatzigeorgiou on electric bass. The heavy hitting, polyrhythmic playing of Coleman's Gene Lake and Gilmore's Rodney Holmes comes to mind as a point of comparison to these ears, but Galland certainly has his own thing and his own touch happening, acutely technical skin work on par with the Bozzios and Chambers' of the world. About three minutes into this one, Galland shows he's as familiar with the intricacies of the highest levels of progressive rock drumming as with funk-fusion and odd-time styles, which he then revisits and magnifies upon in the succeeding "Scofield", and continues into the ensuing "From Influence to Innocence." Drum-heads looking for a new fave would do well to listen to this triumvirate of tunes before continuing their search. And while every bassist on the planet has been influence by Jaco, Michel Hatzigeorgiou deserves kudos for hiding it well, both in terms of having his own tone and his own solo style. He's used only once as a soloist, but more importantly, plays heavily into the often times riff-based, Colemanesque "cell"-like elements of Fabrizio Cassol's compositional method. Hatzigeorgiou's got a nice round sound, uses the fingers at all times, and intriguingly drops anchor in hotly unlikely spaces, toying gleefully and oh-so-hiply with Galland in the spaces between the beats.

"Jaco" turns into a feature for Gilmore, who again rolls phat tone, chromaticisn, and rhythmic displacement into a searing combination, which here , clearly harkens back to fusion's heyday while reinventing it's future. Gilmore's solo and decaying sax segue into "Scofield," which begins by reaffirming Galland's athleticism, Hatzigeorgiou's groove power and Cassol's funky fluidity. Gilmore and VanDormael trade sixteen bars, overlapping each other as their tradeoffs become shorter and more blues inflected then going out and angular again, Galland rolling to a boil underneath and then a solo.

"From Influence To Innocence" is introed by Prasanna , and by virtue of that alone, transports us all elsewhere. Rare is the player on any instrument that can so change your headspace and your heart rate in two bars. To me, the three minutes of soloing over the drone here are worth the price of the disc alone, let alone the ensuing odd time thrill ride he takes next with Galland and Hatzigeorgiou before Cassol fades into the mix. Hear the parts build-first single-note guitar shadowing sax then another guitarist adding harmony and then, the drums. Soon, with a trance like melodic line, provided by sax and guitar, the thing is rolling along at bazillion rpms and ready to break apart at the seams. We fall out of an open rocket door into ambient bed of three-way guitars that functions as the doorway to "Bill's Dream" a melancholy mood setting ballad more about the shoegazer stylings of alternate rock than any jazz vocabulary. Prasanna finally gets to solo in organic fashion over a somber passage utilizing an Aka Moon trademark device, the single bass note syncopating the measures. Prasanna weaves his magic, rooted firmly in carnatic Indian styles but embracing all musics and incorporating just the right dose of modernism to render it individualistic yet not overly-technique laden. Lines revolve and resolve, phrases are pinched and elasticized, note values are selected then changed. Worlds merge and vapors mingle when Prasanna plays. And how empathetically Gilmore answers Prasanna's thing by crafting a solo that wraps and falls gracefully back in on itself like wisps in a natural Fibonacci spiral. Fittingly, the band hands it back to Prasanna, who established a measure of ownership of this portion of the record back at the intro of "Innocence," which is a fitting indication of the level of listening that's happening here.

Of the rest, "Yang -Yin -Yang" deserves special mention in the "songs that have pushed and pulled the beat the most" hall of fame. "A La Luce di Paco-Act 1" serves as a beautiful raga introduction to the recording and to Prasanna, while I think his scariest solo passage comes 6:15 into "Act 2" unless it's Gilmore, in which case it's even scarier.

Without knowing their history, just listening to this recording will show you that Aka Moon has a collective mentality. In a perfect world, it wouldn't be a leap to see them as master collaborators, with writing and playing skills crossing the music over into elements of pop, alternative rock, DJ Culture or modern dance. For now, we'll have to settle for one of the fusion releases of 2002. Save the trip- you won't find this in any record stores. A little distribution and some airplay could go a long way toward letting the world in on the world class secret of AKA Moon. In the meantime, evidently, that's our job. Get it at De Werf or domestically here .

Track Listing:

1. A La Luce Di Paco - Act 1 - 05:02,
2. A La Luce Di Paco - Act 2 - 07:03,
3. A La Luce Di Paco - Act 3 - 04:20,
4. Jimi's Three Words - 08:46,
5. The Last Call From Jaco - 05:47,
6. Scofield - 05:38,
7. From Influence To Innocence - 07:09,
8. Bill's Dreams - 12:06,
9. Yang-Yin-Yang - 4:15,
10. Three Oceans - 05:07

Total time - 65:15


    Fabrizio Cassol - alto saxophone, compositions (except on 1)
    Michel Hatzigeorgiou - bass guitar
    Stéphane Galland - drums
    Pierre Van Dormael - guitar
    Prasanna - guitar, composition (on 1)
    David Gilmore - guitar

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Miles Davis - 1968 [1998] "Miles In The Sky"

Miles in the Sky is a studio album by American trumpeter and composer Miles Davis, released on July 22, 1968, by Columbia Records.

Miles in the Sky was produced by Teo Macero and recorded at Columbia Studio B in New York City on January 16, 1968, and May 15–17, 1968. For the album, Davis played with tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter, pianist Herbie Hancock, drummer Tony Williams, and bassist Ron Carter. Guitarist George Benson made a guest appearance on the song "Paraphernalia". The album's title was a nod to the Beatles' 1967 song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.

With the 1968 album Miles in the Sky, Miles Davis explicitly pushed his second great quintet away from conventional jazz, pushing them toward the jazz-rock hybrid that would later become known as fusion. Here, the music is still in its formative stages, and it's a little more earth-bound than you might expect, especially following on the heels of the shape-shifting, elusive Nefertiti. On Miles in the Sky, much of the rhythms are straightforward, picking up on the direct 4/4 beats of rock, and these are illuminated by Herbie Hancock's electric piano -- one of the very first sounds on the record, as a matter of fact -- and the guest appearance of guitarist George Benson on "Paraphernalia." All of these additions are tangible and identifiable, and they do result in intriguing music, but the form of the music itself is surprisingly direct, playing as extended grooves. This meanders considerable more than Nefertiti, even if it is significantly less elliptical in its form, because it's primarily four long jams. Intriguing, successful jams in many respects, but even with the notable additions of electric instruments, and with the deliberately noisy "Country Son," this is less visionary than its predecessor and feels like a transitional album -- and, like many transitional albums, it's intriguing and frustrating in equal measures.

Listening to Jazz music is such a surreal experience. The atmosphere is often full of intensity, and what I mean by "intense", I'm not necessarily referring to the sound of the music but the artist that is creating it. The compositions are often improvised, and the musicians seem to disappear into a different realm. And within this realm, the only thing that exists is the musician and their instrument. They develop a synergy with their instrument, it becomes a part of them. Another form of communication. The instrument becomes a window into their soul, their mind, and their creativity. And the sounds that are released are like another form of expression, the kind of sensations that no arrangement of words could ever describe. Miles Davis knows this experience all too well.

The 1960's was certainly an interesting era in time. There was this urge for experimentation that just captivated everyone. Segregation had just come to an end as white individuals and minorities were beginning to experiment with coalescent communities. Hedonism was also growing in trend, as the usage of drugs and sexual promiscuity was beginning to be seen in a less condemning light. Obviously, this would grow to have a tremendous effect on music. Music began to become much more abstract. Musicians began seeing music as much more than just something to listen to, but something to get lost in. Artists begun to push music into different directions, becoming much more experimental. The late 60's was a transitional period in Miles Davis' career, as he too fell into this urge for something different. Miles In The Sky is now seen as the stepping stone into a new era for Miles Davis. Miles In The Sky introduces a growing interest in the usage of electric instruments, such as the keyboard, bass, and guitar. This album is often seen as the first from his "Electric" period. The compositions of the album come from different sessions, and we can truly see the stages of Miles Davis' evolution from acoustic Jazz to Fusion music. Again, this album was just the first step, and the electric touches are not as prominent as in the latter albums.

We begin with "Stuff". Already we can hear the usage of an electric bass and a Rhodes piano within the composition. The piano arrangements are fast paced, yet the drumming and wind instruments show a little more restrain, though often erupting into a more passionate delivery in variation. Overall, this is still the Bop-styled Miles we have heard before. "Black Comedy" and "Country Son" represent the acoustic section of the album, and are some of Miles' final orchestrations using an acoustic quintet format. "Black Comedy" is very lively and aggressive in nature, while "Country Son" displays a more atmospheric tone. But now let us move on to the perhaps most well-known composition from the album, "Paraphernalia". The composition displays one of the first electrical guitar arrangements in Miles' music. "Paraphernalia" turns bop inside-out, with intense eruption of solos appearing and vanishing in a modal or free space, and interludes of quick changes on every beat, not as accompaniment for solos, but just stated on its own.

There is such intense musicianship within Miles In The Sky. Of course, Miles is the star of the show, but I must mention the drumming of Tony Williams. He was merely a teenager when he first joined Miles Davis' Second Great Quartet, but his dexterity for the instrument is astonishing. He was 23 during the recording for this album, and his feel for the drums is such a mind-blowing performance. Despite its abstract cover art and its name, "Miles In The Sky", this album doesn't contain the psychedelic atmospheres that are found in Bitches Brew and In A Silent Way. In fact, this album is often overlooked and it's a shame because this is perhaps one of Miles' most historic releases. Not only because it marked the beginning of Miles' "Electric era", but this was one of the defining albums for Jazz Fusion. This was a release that would not only grow to influence the Jazz world, but even transcend to inspire several rock artists. This is an album that must be heard by Jazz fans, especially any admirer of Miles Davis.

Miles in the Sky is an odd outsider among Miles' fusion work. For starters, only one song has guitar and nothing like the jagged skronk of John McLaughlin, although Herbie Hancock's electric piano places this somewhere in the domain of fusion. However, unlike Miles' better-known fusion, Miles in the Sky is largely clear of dissonance, and unlike Herbie's well-known fusion work, it also has little in the way of funk to its rhythms. It is generally a tight, smooth album. It never feels like the party (or wild anarchy) that most of its peer albums do. It's classic hot jazz in energy, without much in the way of melodies. Rhythm is the real key.

So in my initial forays into jazz, I found Miles in the Sky quite daunting in that it had little to hang onto. It was too pure and streamlined a piece, without the terror of fusion to come or the melodies and deep grooves of the hard bop behind it. It feels like it all takes place within some dark negative space, and it is the tentative toe in the water to Miles' fusion era. It feels as if it is trapped between worlds or dimensions. There is a focus here that seems anathema to the progress to come, a directional thrust to the rhythmic build of the songs to an endpoint. It is pretty much Tony Williams' album. Miles is clearly leading the pack, and Ron Carter's bass grooves are undeniably significant, but it's Tony's extremely hyperactive drumming that drives every moment of each song, especially "Paraphernalia" with its ever-shifting tempos. Meanwhile, Herbie's piano is always threatening to go somewhere mysterious (there's even a part in "Paraphernalia" where I swear he's about to do "The Girl From Ipanema"), and on "Black Comedy" threatens to steal Williams' thunder.

An interesting step into a new space, but no competition for the mountains of madness to follow.

Tracks Listing

1. Stuff (16:58)
2. Paraphernalia (12:36)
3. Black Comedy (7:25)
4. Country Son (13:49)
5. Black Comedy (Alternate Take) (6:26)
6. Country Son (Alternate Take) (14:40)

Total Time 71:49


    Miles Davis – trumpet, cornet on "Stuff" and "Country Son"
    Wayne Shorter – tenor saxophone
    Herbie Hancock – piano, electric piano on "Stuff"
    Ron Carter – bass, electric bass on "Stuff"
    Tony Williams – drums
    George Benson – electric guitar on "Paraphernalia" 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Eagles - 2003 "The Very Best Of"

The Very Best Of (released as The Complete Greatest Hits in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand) is a two-disc compilation album by the Eagles, released in 2003.
This album combines all tracks that appeared on the two previously released Eagles greatest hits albums (Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) & Eagles Greatest Hits, Vol. 2), along with other singles not included on the first two compilations, album tracks and the new track "Hole in the World".
The Very Best Of was also released as a limited-edition three-disc set with the third disc being a bonus DVD containing the video for the new song "Hole in the World," as well as a making of the video featurette and "Backstage Pass to Farewell 1."
The album debuted on the Billboard 200 on November 8, 2003 at number 3, with 162,000 copies sold. It spent 62 weeks on the chart. The album was certified and awarded gold, platinum, and double platinum records by the RIAA on December 17, 2003, and on December 13, 2004, it achieved triple platinum status. As of December 2007, it has spent over 325 weeks in the Irish Album Charts, effectively not having left the chart since its release. In the UK the album (as The Complete Greatest Hits) entered the charts on November 1, 2003 at its initial number 27 peak position, the album did however re-enter the charts in June 2006 when it peaked at number 9 on the UK Albums Chart.

The problem with assembling an Eagles collection in 2003 is that there already is a perfect Eagles collection: 1976's Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975). Although it spanned a mere ten songs and summarized only the first five years and four albums of their career, it pulled off a nifty trick by making the albums it summarized -- and by extension, the band -- seem better than they actually were. By concentrating on big hits and substituting album track "Desperado" for "Outlaw Man," a single that didn't receive much chart action, the collection captured the band's peak, making a convincing case for the band's strengths while providing a compulsively enjoyable listen. Of course, the Eagles continued to have hits after the 1976 release of Their Greatest Hits, scoring the biggest proper album of their career that very year with Hotel California. After that, egos and infighting hampered the band, leading to just one more album in 1979's The Long Run before a disbandment in 1982, which was followed 12 years later by a reunion, charmingly dubbed Hell Freezes Over, since most pundits predicted that's when the band would reunite. This isn't much new ground to cover for a compilation, as the spotty 1982 The Eagles Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 illustrated, but even with a box set like 2000's Selected Works, there was room for a collection that contained all their big hits on one or two discs: hence the birth of Warner Strategic Marketing's 2003 double-disc Eagles collection, The Very Best Of.
There's little question that The Very Best Of does its job well, containing nearly all of the group's charting singles -- including the non-LP seasonal tune "Please Come Home for Christmas" and omitting the purposely ignored "Outlaw Man" along with a couple of reunion-era singles that didn't make much impact -- and filling out the margins with album rock staples such as "Doolin-Dalton," "Ol' 55," "Victim of Love," "In the City," and "Those Shoes." It's a good collection, eliminating the need to own actual Eagles albums by containing all the key songs from each effort, including the highlights from Hell Freezes Over. If there are quibbles, the biggest is that the first disc isn't nearly as compulsively listenable as Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975), which covers the same ground, with the second being that after Hotel California the collection runs out of steam a little bit, as the Eagles sound more like a collective of solo performers instead of a band -- but that's the run of their career, too. In any case, The Very Best Of is an excellent way to get all the Eagles' songs that matter on one collection. [The Very Best Of was also released as a limited-edition three-disc set with the third disc being a bonus DVD containing the video for the new song "Hole in the World," as well as a making of the video featurette and "Backstage Pass to Farewell 1."]

This packed double-disc is the slim option for fans who find the Eagles' vaunted greatest hits sets too little and the boxed set too hefty. Hit singles large and medium are here, often ("One of These Nights," "Hotel California") still sounding definitive and even tough. Large helpings of favorite album cuts are also included, along with a taster from a promised 2004 Eagles studio reunion. Unfortunately, "Hole in the World," Don Henley's response to September 11, feels just as empty and entitled as "Get Over It," the band's previous state-of-the-union message (from which the newer song represents a philosophical 180-degree turn). But for those seeking an overview of this Southern California juggernaut's successes, as well as telling comments from band members--mostly Henley and Frey--in a well-designed booklet, Very Best will more than do.

Track listing
Disc one
No.     Title     Writer(s)     Length
1.     "Take It Easy"       Jackson Browne, Glenn Frey     3:29
2.     "Witchy Woman"       Don Henley, Bernie Leadon     4:10
3.     "Peaceful Easy Feeling"       Jack Tempchin     4:16
4.     "Desperado"       Henley, Frey     3:33
5.     "Tequila Sunrise"       Henley, Frey     2:52
6.     "Doolin-Dalton"       Browne, Frey, Henley, J.D. Souther     3:26
7.     "Already Gone"       Tempchin, Robb Strandlund     4:13
8.     "Best of My Love"       Henley, Frey, Souther     4:35
9.     "James Dean"       Browne, Frey, Souther, Henley     3:36
10.     "Ol' '55"       Tom Waits     4:22
11.     "Midnight Flyer"       Paul Craft     3:58
12.     "On the Border"       Henley, Leadon, Frey     4:28
13.     "Lyin' Eyes"       Henley, Frey     6:21
14.     "One of These Nights"       Henley, Frey     4:51
15.     "Take It to the Limit"       Randy Meisner, Henley, Frey     4:48
16.     "After the Thrill Is Gone"       Henley, Frey     3:56
17.     "Hotel California"       Don Felder, Henley, Frey     6:30

        Tracks 1–3 from Eagles (1972)
        Tracks 4–6 from Desperado (1973)
        Tracks 7–12 from On the Border (1974)
        Tracks 13–16 from One of These Nights (1975)
        Track 17 from Hotel California (1976)

Disc two
No.     Title     Writer(s)     Length
1.     "Life in the Fast Lane"       Joe Walsh, Henley, Frey     4:46
2.     "Wasted Time"       Henley, Frey     4:55
3.     "Victim of Love"       Felder, Souther, Henley, Frey     4:11
4.     "The Last Resort"       Henley, Frey     7:25
5.     "New Kid in Town"       Souther, Henley, Frey     5:04
6.     "Please Come Home for Christmas"       Charlie Brown, Gene Redd     2:58
7.     "Heartache Tonight"       Henley, Frey, Bob Seger, Souther     4:26
8.     "The Sad Café"       Henley, Frey, Walsh, Souther     5:35
9.     "I Can't Tell You Why"       Timothy B. Schmit, Henley, Frey     4:56
10.     "The Long Run"       Henley, Frey     3:42
11.     "In the City"       Walsh, Barry De Vorzon     3:46
12.     "Those Shoes"       Felder, Henley, Frey     4:56
13.     "Seven Bridges Road" (Live)     Steve Young     3:02
14.     "Love Will Keep Us Alive"       Pete Vale, Jim Capaldi, Paul Carrack     4:00
15.     "Get Over It"       Henley, Frey     3:29
16.     "Hole in the World"       Henley, Frey     4:30

        Tracks 1-5 from Hotel California (1976)
        Track 6 was a non-album single (1978)
        Tracks 7-12 from The Long Run (1979)
        Track 13 from Eagles Live (1980)
        Tracks 14 and 15 from Hell Freezes Over (1994)
        Track 16 is a new track (2003)


    Glenn Frey – guitars, piano, keyboards, percussion, vocals
    Don Henley – drums, percussion, guitars, vocals
    Randy Meisner – bass guitar, guitars, guitarrone, vocals (disc one and songs 1–5 on disc two)
    Bernie Leadon – guitars, banjo, mandolin, pedal steel guitar, vocals (songs 1–16 on disc one)
    Don Felder – guitars, keyboards, synthesizers, vocals (songs 7, 13–17 on disc one and songs 1–15 on disc two)
    Joe Walsh – guitars, keyboards, organ, synthesizer, vocals (song 17 on disc one and all of disc two)
    Timothy B. Schmit – bass guitar, vocals (songs 6–16 on disc two)

Additional personnel

    Steuart Smith – guitars (song 16 on disc two)
    Scott Crago – drums, percussion (songs 14–16 on disc two)
    Willie Hollis – piano (songs 14–16 on disc two)
    Jim Ed Norman – piano, string arrangements (songs 4, 13, 15 on disc one and songs 2, 4 on disc two)
    David Sanborn – alto saxophone (song 8 on disc two)
    Al Perkins - pedal steel guitar (song 10 on disc one)

Monday, January 18, 2016

John Scofield - 1991 "Meant To Be"

Meant to Be is a studio album by jazz group The John Scofield Quartet.

This CD, along with Time on My Hands and What We Do, is an exceptional showcase for Scofield and Lovano. Johnson and Stewart lay down some of the best rhythm section playing--enhanced by Sco's creative comping--recorded in the 90's. The tunes are beautiful and inventive throughout, the solos are out of this world (particularly on Go Blow and Big Fan--I still can't figure out how they come in on the out-head after Lovano's solo), and the ensemble telepathy is undeniable.
BUY IT NOW! Then buy What We Do and Time On My Hands.  By Ben Patterson.

The year was 1990 and the quartet featured Joe Lovano on tenor saxophone & alto clarinet, Marc Johnson on bass, Bill Stewart on drums and of course the great man himself on guitar.

I love anything John Scofield does. His guitar sounds much more muted these days; this album is from back when it still used to wail a little. The uptempo tunes are brilliant enough but it's the ballads on this album that get to me; The beautiful "Keep Me In Mind", "The Guinness Spot", "Meant To Be" and "French Flics" are worth the price of the CD all by themselves. But other favourites are "Chariots", "Mr. Coleman To You" (a tribute to Ornette?) and the weird and wonderful "Lost In Space". Scofield writes all songs, naturally.

With great input from all four members of the quartet, this album has a very similar vibe to the 2002 "scolohofo" project which featured Scofield and Lovano alongside Dave Holland and Al Foster, so if you liked that I think you'll like this. (And if you like this of course I think you'll like THAT!)

Modern jazz at its best for sure.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Good Rats - 1978 [1993] "Tasty"

The Good Rats are an American rock band from Long Island, New York. Their music mixes elements of rock with blues and pop. They are best-known on their native Long Island, although they had some success nationally and internationally.

Tasty is a 1974 album by Good Rats and was released on the Warner Brothers Records label. Wiki

"Tasty" is by far the greatest accomplishment by "America's Favorite Unknown Band": The Good Rats. I was first aquainted with the "Tasty" album at a young age when my father, who was a Good Rats fan in his youth, passed his taste in music down to me. I first became familiar with the popular title track, "Tasty", the upbeat lead-off track, "Back To My Music", and the eeire but lyrically ingenius and funny "300 Boys". Later on, I came to recognize the musical brilliance in "Klash Ka Bob", "Poppa Papa", "Phil Fliesh", the vocal magnificance in "Songwriter", "Injun Joe", and "Fireball Express", and the nostalgic ingenius in "Fred Upstairs and Ginger Snappers". And then it hit me. There is not a single song on this album that isn't worth listening to. Peppi Marchello posseses the rock and roll voice that most bands dream of having, John Gatto's guitar playing is flawless (check out "Klash Ka Bob" to hear Gatto at his best!), Lenny Kotke's fingers fly on the bass, Micky Marchello's guitar and vocal harmonies are always dead on, and Joe Franco's drumming is admirable. Essentially, The Good Rats are the model band for 70's rock. Why then did not make it big is beyond mystery to me. The "Tasty" album is a must-have for rock fans of all ages.  By The 5th Beatle

This is one class act in rock & roll...they are top notch musicians of the highest order and this is the place to start your collection...they ain't pretty but they get the job done and man, do they ever get the job done. A friend of mine whom I worked with in college radio turned me on to the track "Papa Poppa" with the comment, "Does this not sound like it'd be a GREAT Guess Who tune?" I closed my eyes and listened, and I was hooked immediately. Over the years I've lost a few of their other albums but managed to hang onto this one...I'm rebuilding that collection now that I know I can again! GREAT New York-New Jersey rock & nonsense, no frills, just incredible playing, great vocals and super harmonies. Tasty not only describes their defines it! By T. LeBaron

Up until recently, my view of the Good Rats were, at best, a good regional band. I remember seeing them live in 1976 and saying to a friend 'This band won't make it big. They don't have THAT look'. All I can say is for those who have the same or similiar thoughts, please read on.

Early in 2006, I heard the track 'Dear Sir' off the From Rats to Riches LP and thought it was from another artist. When I was told it was the Good Rats, I started listening to all the sample tracks from From Rats to Riches on Amazon. Days later, I was STILL listening.

Then I started listening to the sample tracks from Tasty. I decided to purchase Tasty to give this the full listen I felt it deserved. From the textures in the melodies to the pure musicianship displayed, I was excited and angry at the same time. If I only gave them a good listen 30 years earlier, I would have had the pleasure of having this music to enjoy for all these years. Maybe age and life experience have something to do with this, who knows.

For those that are looking for something 'old school' and will stand the test of time, (IMHO) this LP certainly does that and more. I have since purchased Live At Last and From Rats to Riches along with Tasty and plan to enjoy them in the years ahead. 
By Time Will Tell

Track listing

Words and music by Peppi Marchello -- arranged by Good Rats

    "Back To My Music" 2:34
    "Injun Joe" 5:28
    "Tasty" 3:22
    "Papa Poppa" 5:08
    "Klash-Ka-Bob" 3:34
    "Fireball Express" 3:16
    "Fred Upstairs & Ginger Snappers" 3:11
    "300 Boys" 3:49
    "Phil Fleish" 4:00
    "Songwriter" 3:50


    Peppi Marchello – lead vocals, harmonica, and bats
    Mickey Marchello – guitar, vocals
    John "The Cat" Gatto - guitar
    Lenny Kotke - bass, vocals
    Joe Franco - drums 

Dennis Chambers - 1992 "Getting Even"

Dennis Chambers (born May 9, 1959) is an American drummer. He was inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 2001.

Chambers began drumming at the age of four years, and was gigging in Baltimore-area nightclubs by the age of six. He was recruited in 1981 by the Sugar Hill Label to be their "house drummer." Chambers played on many Sugar Hill releases, including "Rapper's Delight".
In an interview by Bonedo in 2011, Chambers was asked who some of his influences and favorite drummers were and he mentioned Clyde Stubblefield, Al Jackson Jr., Steve Gadd, Vinnie Colaiuta, Gary Husband, Jack Dejohnette, Billy Cobham, Buddy Rich, Elvin Jones, Roy Haynes, and Tony Williams. Wiki.

Originally released in 1991, this hard-to-find Fusion recording is worth searching for. This session features the brilliant drumming of Dennis Chambers, who was just coming into his own at this stage of his career. The selections are fairly typical to the music Chambers was playing with John Scofield, who he uses here on a few tracks, along with another former employer, guitarist Mike Stern. The chemistry with Scofield, Stern, saxophonist Bob Berg and keyboardist Jim Beard is obvious as the three have worked together on several sessions. The temptation to overplay here is addressed by a strong dedication to the groove and by allowing each player ample space. Aside from Chambers' innovative and powerful drumming, the session's excitement is enhanced by the rousing playing of guitarist Jimi Tunnell. While this debut is not in the same class as Stratus (Billy Cobham) or Essence of Mystery (Alphonse Mouzoun), Dennis Chambers demonstrates why he is considered to be one of the most innovative and important players in the history of drumming. This debut is a fine representation of his playing, although fans are encouraged to seek out his extensive discography as a 'sideman' to appreciate his full contributions.  All Music.

First of all,I feel very lucky myself because of having this original unbelievable wonderful CD.I'm proud of having this album.I have looked for this disc many years..This album is valuable for me like other Chambers's albums.So I paid the price of it for a second without my eye's move.Still I keep this album's bill and the shopping date of it with the CD in the CD box.That's why I'm a huge Dennis Chambers fan.He's my man and my favourite musician in the world.Some of my hobbies are collecting his original bands,his discs,his vhs videos and now dvds past or present..I like his playing,his all the energy,his all the plan,his musicality(musical playing),his technical playing,his perfect and serious moves,his incredible solos,and his all the atmosphere much behind the drum setup.I like Dennis Chambers's touching to the drumkit..I like the sound much which comes from his drum setup.In this great jazz-fusion album that titled ''getting even'' shows Dennis's musical success and he does very important moves on some of tracks.Like always Dennis is at his wildest in this disc for me and one of the excellent albums all of times according to me.Musical director Jim Beard,producer Takao Ogawa.And the other musicians are:Jim Beard,Anthony Jackson,Gary Grainger,John Scofield,Jimi Tunnell,Bob Berg and Victor Williams,they are very good.Thank you Mr.Dennis Chambers for your greatest playing and for your greatest moments behind the pearl drum setup... By Koray Taskin.

I bought and loved this CD. Some drummers, like Cobham, Gadd, and others, seem to disappear with age. Dennis just gets faster. I actually played in the Dunbar High School Jazz Band with Dennis in Baltimore back in the 70's, and he was amazing then. He BLAZING now !!! This CD was excellent, but he didn't get the chance to break loose on it. Myself and some of the other former members of our high school band, travelled down to Blues Alley in DC last night to watch and listen to the world's greatest drummer with Mike Stern, and we were not disappointed. We, just as much as any other musician that made the trip, did so to watch the usually mesmerizing Chambers solo and we got a LOT more than we paid for. You could hear the licks, but your eyes couldn't keep up with his hands. In short, BUY THIS CD. YOU WON'T BE DISAPPOINTED. JEROME THOMPSON 

Tracks Listing

1. Fortune Dance (5:53)
2. The Opener (4:22)
3. Keep Walking (6:10)
4. Red Eyes (6:17)
5. Getting Even (7:29)
6. Widow's Peak (5:54)
7. Boo (5:53)
8. Until We Return (8:09)

Total Time 48:47

Line-up / Musicians

- Dennis Chambers / drums (Track 1-8)
- Anthony Jackson / bass (Track 3-5, 8)
- Gary Grainger / bass (Track 1,2,6,7)
- John Scofield / guitar (Track 3,4,5,8)
- Jimi Tunnel / guitar (Track 1,2,6,7)
- Jim Beard / keyboards (Track 1-8)
- Bob Berg / tenor sax (Track 1-4, 6,8)
- Victor Williams / percussion (Track 1-5, 7-8)