Wednesday 27 March 2019

Pop Rock/Soft Rock/Rock: Blue - Blue 1973 (2009 Big Pink) Mini Vinyl Replica

Formed and fronted by ex-Marmalade guitarist Hughie Nicholson, Blue signed to RSO Records and released their eponymous debut album the same year. Nicholson was a member of Marmalade between 1971 and 1973, writing fifteen songs to fulfil their Decca recording contract, including the hits, "Cousin Norman", "Back On the Road", and "Radancer" before he left to form Blue. He wrote the majority of Blue's material, including their most recognised number, "Gonna Capture Your Heart". Earlier in his life, he had been a member of the 1960s Scottish rock outfit, The Poets. Blue's debut single "Little Jody" failed to chart. It was recorded before Jimmy McCulloch joined the band. A revised version of "Little Jody" appeared on a compilation album, 20 in 2002.

They then added another guitarist, Robert 'Smiggy' Smith (born 30 March 1946, Kiel, Germany) before recording and issuing their second album, Life in the Navy. This revised line-up did not last for long, following a dispute with RSO, only MacMillan and Nicholson remained. The duo then added Charlie Smith (drummer) and David Nicholson (bass), and it was this line-up that signed to Elton John's record label named The Rocket Record Company and scored a US Billboard Hot 100 chart entry, and UK Singles Chart Top 40 hit, with "Gonna Capture Your Heart". It was their debut release from the Another Night Time Flight album which was produced by Elton John and Clive Franks. Blue released two other singles from the album which both failed to enter the UK Singles Chart.

Hugh Nicholson
They released one other album for Rocket; Fools' Party (1979)[1] before parting company and re-locating to Los Angeles, California. They spent three years compiling new material and playing the local clubs such as The Roxy, The Troubadour, The Palomino, Madame Wong's and the Central Club (later The Viper). Unsuccessful in securing a contract with their new material, they returned to the UK in 1983, shortly before which Blue released the single "Don't Wanna Make You Cry"/"Moonlight" on the Zuma label (1982). Nicholson released "Love You Made a Fool of Me" (1984), and whilst continuing to record with MacMillan, also wrote and produced four singles with Gary Numan on lead vocals; "Radio Heart", "London Times" and "All Across the Nation" which were released under the name Radio Heart in 1987, and "Like a Refugee (I Won't Cry)" released under the name Da Da Dang in 1994. The first two releases entered the UK chart.
In 2003, the remaining personnel Hugh and David Nicholson plus Ian MacMillan took the then high flying boy band Blue to court. It was a high profile High Court case over the use of the band's name. But the 1970s band Blue heard the judge opine that "it is not difficult to distinguish between the present day pop group, and the original users of the group's title". They subsequently came to an agreement that they could continue to share the name.(

Nice pop rock songs and great pop ballads. Enjoy.(Frank)
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'60s-'70s Pop Rock/AM Pop/Sunshine Pop/Folk Rock: The Grass Roots - Anthology 1965-1975 (1991 Rhino) 2CD

 It may be expensive, and two CDs of their work may seem like overkill, but this double-disc set is the one to get. Not only does it contain every hit and each single, and every B-side, from 1965's "Where Were You When I Needed You" through 1975's glorious "Mamacita," but the sound is extraordinary, far better than on any of the other hits compilations, and provides several revelations about the quality of their work. Highlights, in addition to the expected hits ("Let's Live for Today," "Midnight Confessions," "Two Divided by Love" etc.) include tracks like "Is It Any Wonder," with a chorus as radiant as anything the Mamas and the Papas ever recorded, and the seldom heard, vibrant "Mamacita." If you could never imagine listening to 120 minutes of Grass Roots material (this reviewer couldn't, either), this set will make you feel differently.

 The Grass Roots had a series of major hits -- most notably "Let's Live for Today," "Midnight Confessions," "Temptation Eyes," and "Two Divided by Love" -- that help define the essence of the era's best AM radio. Although the group's members weren't even close to being recognizable, and their in-house songwriting was next to irrelevant, the Grass Roots managed to chart 14 Top 40 hits, including seven gold singles and one platinum single, and two had hits collections that effortlessly went gold. The group's history is also fairly complicated, because there were at least three different groups involved in the making of the songs identified as being by "the Grass Roots."

The Grass Roots was originated by the writer/producer team of P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri as a pseudonym under which they would release a body of Byrds/Beau Brummels-style folk-rock. Sloan and Barri were contracted songwriters for Trousdale Music, the publishing arm of Dunhill Records, which wanted to cash in on the folk-rock boom of 1965. Dunhill asked Sloan and Barri to come up with this material, and a group alias under which they would release it. The resulting "Grass Roots" debut song, "Where Were You When I Needed You," sung by Sloan, was sent to a Los Angeles radio station, which began playing it.

 The problem was, there was no "Grass Roots." The next step was to recruit a band that could become the Grass Roots. Sloan found a San Francisco group called the Bedouins that seemed promising on the basis of their lead singer, Bill Fulton. Fulton recorded a new vocal over the backing tracks laid down for the P.F. Sloan version of the song. The Bedouins were, at first, content to put their future in the hands of Sloan and Barri as producers, despite the fact that the group was more blues-oriented than folk-rock. However, the rest of the group was offended when Fulton was told to record their debut single, a cover of Bob Dylan's "The Ballad of a Thin Man," backed by studio musicians. When that single, released in October of 1965, became only a modest hit, the Bedouins -- except for their drummer, Joel Larson -- departed for San Francisco, to re-form as the Unquenchable Thirst. Sloan and Barri continued to record. "Where Were You When I Needed You" was released in mid-'66 and peaked at number 28, but the album of the same name never charted.

Amid the machinations behind Where Were You When I Needed You, no "real" Grass Roots band existed in 1966. A possible solution came along when a Los Angeles band called the 13th Floor submitted a demo tape to Dunhill. This group, consisting of Warren Entner (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Creed Bratton (lead guitar), Rob Grill (vocals, bass), and Rick Coonce (drums), was recruited and offered the choice of recording under their own name, or to take over the name the Grass Roots, put themselves in the hands of Sloan and Barri, and take advantage of the Grass Roots' track record.

They chose the latter, with Rob Grill as primary lead vocalist. The first track cut by the new Grass Roots in the spring of 1967 was "Let's Live for Today," a new version of a song that had been an Italian hit, in a lighter, more up-tempo version, for a band called the Rokes. "Let's Live for Today" was an achingly beautiful, dramatic, and serious single and it shot into the Top Ten upon its release in the summer of 1967. An accompanying album, Let's Live for Today, only reached number 75. The group began spreading its wings in the studio with their next album, Feelings, recorded late in 1967, which emphasized the band's material over Sloan and Barri's.

This was intended as their own statement of who they were, but it lacked the commercial appeal of anything on Let's Live for Today, sold poorly, and never yielded any hit singles. Eleven months went by before the group had another chart entry, and during that period, Sloan and Barri's partnership broke up, with Sloan departing for New York and an attempt at a performing career of his own. The band even considered splitting up as all of this was happening. The Grass Roots' return to the charts (with Barri producing), however, was a triumphant one -- in the late fall of 1968, "Midnight Confessions" reached number five on the charts and earned a gold record. "Midnight Confessions" showed the strong influence of Motown, and the R&B flavor of the song stuck with Barri and the band.

In April of 1969, Creed Bratton left the band, to be replaced by Denny Provisor on keyboards and Terry Furlong on lead guitar. Now a quintet, the Grass Roots went on cutting records without breaking stride, enjoying a string of Top 40 hits that ran into the early '70s, peaking with "Temptation Eyes" at number 15 in the summer of 1971. Coonce and Provisor left at the end of 1971, to be replaced by Reed Kailing on lead guitar, Virgil Webber on keyboards, and Joel Larson -- of the original Bedouins/Grass Roots outfit -- on drums. They arrived just in time to take advantage of the number 16 success of "Two Divided by Love," which was the last of the Grass Roots' big hits.

 The Grass Roots soldiered on for a few more years, reaching the Top 40 a couple of times in 1972, but their commercial success slowly slipped away during 1973. They kept working for a few more years, but called it quits in 1975. Rob Grill remained in the music business on the organizing side, and by 1980 was persuaded by his friend John McVie to cut a solo album, Uprooted, which featured contributions by Mick Fleetwood and Lindsay Buckingham. By 1982, amid the burgeoning oldies concert circuit and the respect beginning to be accorded the Grass Roots, Grill formed a new Grass Roots -- sometimes billed as Rob Grill and the Grass Roots -- and began performing as many as 100 shows a year. Their presence on various oldies package tours saw to it that the Grass Roots' name remained visible. 
Grill continued performing with later incarnations of the band into the 2000s; however, he endured the pain of degenerative bone disease for years and in June 2011 suffered a head injury. The following month Grill died in Tavares, Florida of complications from that injury at the age of 67. (Bruce Eder,

 Ever since I first heard the Grass Roots, I've been a fan of their music. I can only warmly recommend this anthology to anyone who is into pop rock of the sixties, seventies. Enjoy.(Frank)


I hope there will be no problems with the links.


Hello folks and friends,

As some of you (and I too, but only this morning after your comments drew my attention) noticed, all files I uploaded to the ''new'' hoster have been banned. First of all this will be a lot of extra work for me, secondly I have to think about where I will store the files in the future. Third, I wonder if there are any connections to Zippyshare, which were completely locked in the U.K.. In any case (to make it sound friendly) this is very annoying.
I believe anyway that it could become very problematic in the future, at least in Europe in the next years very much with the sharing of certain contents. Anyway, I'm sorry you don't have the possibility to access the banned files at the moment, but I'll try to replace the affected links as soon as possible. I ask for your understanding and wish us all a nice day.

Tuesday 26 March 2019

Folk, Pop, Psychedelia: Donovan - The Hurdy Gurdy Man 1968 (2013 US, mono)

Having Mickie Most as producer could be a double-edged sword. On The Hurdy Gurdy Man, his over-ambitious nature and scattershot production sense occasionally sabotaged Donovan's songs rather than emphasizing their strengths. (The credits shamelessly list "Produced by Mickie Most" and "A Mickie Most Production," right next to each other.) As with the last few LPs, the program began with the hit title track (one of Donovan's best singles), a dim, dark song balancing psychedelia with the heavier, earthier rock championed during 1968 by Dylan and the Beatles. Though the next two tracks -- an eerie, trance-like "Peregrine" and the endearing acoustic number "The Entertaining of a Shy Girl" -- are excellent performances, any sense of mood is soon shattered by a hopelessly overblown music-hall showtune, "As I Recall It." This terrible problem of pacing and song placement continually afflicts The Hurdy Gurdy Man, rendering ineffective many solid songs. As for the writing, Donovan certainly wasn't expanding his songbase; as usual, the album overflowed with playful songs on girls ("West Indian Lady," "Jennifer Juniper") and pastoral themes ("The River Song," "A Sunny Day," "The Sun Is a Very Magic Fellow"). Most of these featured more inventive, sympathetic accompaniment, combined with Donovan's usual spot-on delivery. Despite the great songs and (usually) solid performances, though, The Hurdy Gurdy Man is a very difficult listen. (John Bush,

I know that some critics have not reviewed the album well and not only Mr Bush criticized the production of Mickie Most. I have a slightly different opinion. About the order in which the songs should be placed on an album, some people have already racked their brains about it. But what's the right order? For me the songs on the album are important first and foremost and there is a bunch of really good ones here. For me the album is one of Donovans best. But as always, in the end it's all a matter of taste. A short thank you to the original uploader. I found the album today on an old HDD and since it is the mono version, I thought there would be interest from one or the other. This version has four bonus discs from three singles b sides and one a side. Everything is explained in the info inside. Enjoy.(Frank)

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Folk Rock/Pop: The Grass Roots - Where Were You When I Needed You 1966 (1994 Varese Sarabande)

Before the Grass Roots reached the peak of their pop/rock popularity, they were a much more folk-rock-oriented outfit. Indeed, this debut album is a matter of much confusion; apparently the original Grass Roots were pretty much a front for the songwriting team of P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri, who ended up performing on much of the album themselves.

 In any case, this is decent, though not top-of-the-line, early folk-rock, falling about halfway between the Byrds and more pop-oriented peers like the Turtles and the Mamas & the Papas. Highlights include the hit title track and other Sloan-Barri originals like "Lollipop Train," "Look Out Girl," "This Is What I Was Made For," and "You Baby," which was a hit for the Turtles. (Richie Unterberger,
 This is the first ''Grass Roots'' album, and even though the band didn't record everything themselves, they still profited from this album for their later albums. One can call the album a success, because it offers some really good folk rock. Those who only know the Grass Roots from their later hits should definitely check out this album. The album is really fun. Enjoy.(Frank)

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Classic Power Popsters: Hoehn & Duren - Blue Orange (2002 Frankenstein)

Tommy Hoehn and Van Duren are both veterans of the original power pop movement. Based in Memphis and finding each other to be kindred musical spirits, they banded together in the '90s to make some easygoing adult pop. On Blue Orange, their second recording together, Hoehn and Duren pursue a blue-eyed soul-tinged path not unlike the one forged by John Hiatt or fellow southerner Don Dixon. Laid-back tempos, lots of thick Hammond organ, twangy guitars, and impassioned vocals are the order of the day from beginning to end.

Anyone looking for any traces of the classic power pop sound will most likely be disappointed by Blue Orange, as it is more likely to appeal to fans of slightly quirky bar band pop. Even then the disc is short on memorable hooks, and the bland production squeezes any traces of excitement out of the record, too. Blue Orange sounds like it could have been made by any local band in any town across the U.S.A. If your town does indeed feature such a band, support them and buy their record instead. (Tim Sendra,

You probably suspect it already, but I won't get upset, lol (Sendra was probably drunk). ...''Blue Orange sounds like it could have been made by any local band in any town across the U.S.A.''... yes you're right, Tim... ''another double tequila please''. Enjoy.(Frank)

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@ Request: Power Pop/Glam: The Quick - Mondo Deco (1976 Mercury) Vinyl 16-44

The Quick's one and only album, 1976's Mondo Deco, is a glittering, goofy, and exhilarating snapshot of a crazy, fast-paced era. The mid-'70s were a time when bands could change their images overnight, singers could be discovered and forgotten over the course of one show, and the movers and shakers behind the scenes jockeyed to get their charges publicity and eventually record sales. Sort of like any other time in music history, but with more feathered hair and skinny ties.

 The Quick had the requisite mover in Kim Fowley, who managed to get them a record deal with Mercury Records and set up with producer Earle Mankey, who had been in Sparks, one of the Quick's main influences. The combo picked up Sparks' speedy hooks, high-pitched, campy vocals, and wacky lyrical content. Mondo Deco was recorded at the Beach Boys' Brother Studios, and the immaculate vocal harmonies of that iconic group were also something the Quick aspired to assimilate into their sound. The result was gloriously catchy, light-footed, and fun power pop that raided the past at every chance, but sounded sleek and modern while doing it. Mondo Deco kicks off with a cover of the Beatles' "It Won't Be Long" that tweaks the arrangement into something twitchy and tense, balancing chunky guitar riffs, parping organ, and singer Danny Wilde's ultra-twee vocals while never spilling a drop.
 The songs that follow also walk a tightrope between genius and folly, most often falling in favor of the former. "Playtime" is a rollicking mod rocker that lifts from the Who, "Hillary" is an aching power pop ballad that's good enough to overcome the spoken word segments, "Don't You Want It" rocks as hard as the Raspberries ever did, their cover of the Four Seasons' "Rag Doll" comes off like a glam Thin Lizzy, and "Hi Lo" features a chipmunk-chirpy chorus that's very difficult to dislodge. Add it all up and the lads in the Quick made one of the best power pop albums of the '70s. Criminally overlooked and practically buried after its release thanks to a quarrel they had with Fowley, the album really should be in the collections of all those who think they are true power pop aficionados or adventurous glam rock mavens.(Tim Sendra,

 Whether it was the best Power Pop album of its time is difficult to answer for me, but it was the most colorful in any case. Spark's influence is clearly part of the band and the album is always on the edge of...genius...or is it ...kitsch? Everybody has to decide for himself. I think it's great. That was clear, wasn't it? :-) Enjoy.(Frank)
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Monday 25 March 2019

Psychedelic Pop/Baroque Pop: John Kongos - Lavender Popcorn 1966-1969 (2001 Castle)

Before scoring a handful of minor hits in the U.K. in the late '60s and early '70s, John Kongos had been the leader behind Johnny Kongos & the G-Men, a prolific beat group from Johannesburg, South Africa that frequently appeared on that country's charts during the first half of the '60s. In 1966, Kongos and a number of his associates relocated to London and cut a 1967 single as Floribunda Rose for Piccadilly.
Floribunda Rose eventually morphed into Scrugg, a psychedelic pop band that released a trio of singles for Pye prior to their 1969 breakup. "I Wish I Was Five," a 1968 B-side, gained the most attention. Upon Scrugg's split, Kongos went solo and released a handful of records, including the albums Confusions About a Goldfish, John Kongos, and Tokoloshe Man.

The 1971 single "He's Gonna Step on You Again" registered on the charts in the U.K. and the U.S. Sporadic reissues of Kongos' work appeared during the '90s, and in 2002, Castle released Lavender Popcorn: 1966-1969, which combined Scrugg and Floribunda Rose material (both familiar and previously unreleased) with Confusions About a Goldfish. (Andy Kellman,

Perhaps kicked into action due to the inclusion of Scrugg's "I Wish I Was Five" on Rhino's second Nuggets box from the year prior, the Castle label issued Lavender Popcorn: 1966-1969, which digs deep into the discography of eccentric psych-pop musician John Kongos. Prior to the period documented here, Kongos had several records under his belt as a South African artist, which were popular there but failed to translate elsewhere.

 Upon his 1966 relocation to England, he headed the short-lived bands Floribunda Rose (one single) and Scrugg (three singles) and then went solo. This anthology ties up everything from Floribunda Rose and Scrugg, while adding some unreleased material. Kongos' first solo album, 1969's Confusions About a Goldfish, is also included in its entirety. Though it doesn't include significant later singles like "Tokoloshe Man" and "He's Gonna Step on You Again," the disc is rather essential for psych-pop completists. (Andy Kellman,

All said. Enjoy.(Frank) Thanks to andrrr92.

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Early '70s Pop/Rock: John Kongos - Kongos 1972 (2004 Collectors' Choice)

This classic 1972 album on Elektra by John Kongos has Queen/Cars director Roy Thomas Baker remixing superb production by Gus Dudgeon, the man who created many an Elton John hit. Elton sidemen Ray Cooper, Caleb Quaye, Dave Glover, Roger Pope, Sue (Glover) and Sunny (Leslie) -- pretty much the crew from John's 1971 epic Madman Across the Water -- are all excellent here. But this album has more to offer than the solo records by Kiki Dee and Bernie Taupin, which also proliferated around the same time. Though he never made it to Joel Whitburn's Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits in the U.S.A., there were three minor splashes on this disc: "Tokoloshe Man," "Jubilee Cloud," and "He's Gonna Step on You Again." The totally original sound -- producer Dudgeon on "asses jawbone," bicycle bell, maracas, and Mike Noble playing the "clapper board" -- build a texture one didn't hear on Elton John records.
Highly experimental, the brilliant piano and guitar by Quaye invigorate "Jubilee Cloud," which can only be described as psychedelic gospel. Not only a gospel feel, the mysterious Sue and Sonny personify a church choir next to Mike Moran's ARP Synthesizer. There are lots of Jesus references throughout the disc, and on the heavily Beatles-influenced "Come on Down Jesus" with brass and Ray Cooper's tambourine, one gets the message that Kongos is a Jesus freak. This record sounds like a party -- a bunch of hippies on some Indian reservation at sunset. The album cover giving hints to what is transpiring on the grooves. Some of the themes Bernie Taupin flavored the Elton John "Country Comfort" song with are here, but the singer embraces them in a different way. Kongos sounds like a sincere Billy Joel on "Gold," and a cross between Elton and Joel on "I Would Have Had a Good Time." But as good as those tracks are, it is the energy of "Tokoloshe Man," the ecstasy of "Jubilee Cloud," and the insanity of "He's Gonna Step on You Again" that make this album timeless. Producer Gus Dudgeon plays "chair squeak," "rusty tin," and "earth drums" on "Step on You," John Kongos adding castanets, creating a Phil Spector stereo nightmare, which is simply gorgeous. The album has been re-released in different versions; a German CD contains eight bonus tracks and a U.K. collection has five additional songs. Magical music that one does not get to experience often. (Joe Viglione,
 Many of you will know John Kongos from his work in the sixties with Floribunda Rose, Scrugg and his solo works where he mainly did psychedelic/baroque pop and later also singer songwriter style. This album is different from his older work although his late sixties work point to his early seventies music. Sometimes I think I've heard an album other than the one discussed in the review. Anyway, this is an album that convinces me by the songwriting. You can't really compare Kongos with what Elton John did. Of course there are similarities, but in my opinion they were caused more by the team who worked with Kongos for this record. Kongos hippiesque approach shimmers through here again and again. And I think that's what makes this record so wonderful. And my favourite songs are completely different from the songs Mr Viglione favoured :-) . Enjoy.(Frank)

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'60s inspired Power Pop: The Spongetones - Beat Music 1982 (2008 Air Mail Recordings, Japan)

One of the most underrated power pop bands of the '80s, the Spongetones released several albums of effortlessly catchy guitar pop that captured the feel of '60s British Invasion pop with remarkable accuracy and innocent charm.

 While they never received much critical or commercial attention, their music has aged much better than most power pop of the era (late '70s and early '80s), and among specialists they're highly revered not only for their studio prowess but also for their spirited live shows. They are one of the few bands that gracefully carried on past the "skinny tie" fad into the '90s and beyond -- not as strict revivalists but as something unique.

 The band, comprised of Steve Stoeckel (vocals, bass), Pat Walters (vocals, guitar), Jamie Hoover (vocals, guitar), and Rob Thorne (drums), began as a covers band in Charlotte, NC in the early '80s.

 They signed to the Ripete label in 1982 and released their first full-length, Beat Music, (Beat Music, the Spongetones' debut album, features some of their finest music, drawing heavily on the Beatles, Dave Clark Five, and Hollies without shame. And while this is certainly derivative stuff, rarely is a nostalgia trip so well executed and enjoyable. (excerpt allmusic) ) the same year, following with the Torn Apart EP in 1984 -- the latter featuring esteemed guests Don Dixon, Mitch Easter, and R.E.M. on handclaps. Stoeckel temporarily left the band, returning in 1991.

By 1987, it seemed the Spongetones wanted to distance themselves from their revivalist reputation, leaving Ripete in favor of the independent Triapore and recording probably their most experimental and most un-Spongetones album, Where-Ever-Land. The album, produced by Don Dixon, flirted with garage rock, psychedelia, and the more fashionable jangle pop -- all in all it marked a more muscular and harder-edged approach.

 The experiment failed for the most part and was short-lived. The band signed to Black Vinyl Records (owned by power pop icons Shoes) and found a true home in 1991. There they created, in the mold of their first two releases, possibly their most focused Mersey pastiche, Oh Yeah! Textural Drone Thing followed in 1995. In addition to regular band activities, Jamie Hoover released a solo album, Coupons Questions and Comments, for Triapore in 1990, and also formed the Van Delecki's with Bryan Shumate, releasing Letters from the Desk of Count S. Van Delecki on Permanent Press in 1996. After a five-year band silence, the Spongetones finally returned in 2000 with the album Odd Fellows. Number 9 followed in 2005. (Chris Woodstra,

Great eighties power pop in sixties brit invasion style. Enjoy.(Frank)
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