Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Skyband - Skyband (1975)

Skyband were a multinational act based out of Los Angeles. Consisting of Peter Beckett (Paladin, Tin Tin) from the UK, Steve Kipner (Tin Tin) from Australia and Lane Caudell from the US, Skyband evolved from the ashes of Friends, a band Steve and Peter had worked in after relocating to the states in early 1974. With the addition of Caudell, the band's lineup was solidified. Quickly snapped up by RCA Records, the band flew to London and self-produced their debut which landed in stores in early 1975.

Though the band had stellar road jaunts with acts like Peter Noone, Jackson 5 and the Alex Harvey Band, their bubbly brand of pop had become obsolete in the face of changing tides within the music industry. RCA dropped the band the following year. Refusing to go down so quickly, the band renamed themselves Zed and began shopping new material to labels but no one was interested. In a few short months, Zed were gone too. Beckett went on to form Player and work in the industry as a songwriter. Kipner also continued working as a writer while recording his own solo material. Caudell performed as a solo artist for a short time before moving into acting. He later moved into the country business as a solo artist, where he resides confortably now.

Ok, so aside from the hilarious cover photo...what else is worth mentioning about Skyband? To be honest, this is actually a great record. With a tasteful balance of glam, Beatlesque pop, bubblegum and west coast rock, their self-titled debut is worthy of praise for its solid writing and production. Tracks like "Bang! Ooh! Ya Got Me", "Pie in the Sky", "Cold Light of Day", "Hollywood" and "Easier Than Saying Goodbye" are all over the place stylistically, but at the core are well written nuggets. Granted, some of this has not aged well, but there's absolutely nothing terrible about this mid 70's effort. I recommend everyone check this one out and find something they like. It won't be hard, I promise :)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Glyder - Glyder (1975)

Glyder's story is largely a mystery, but this british sextet signed with Warner Brothers in 1974 and released their self-titled debut in early 1975. Though there was plenty of financial muscle backing the band, their MOR pop sound fell on deaf ears and the band was packing it in by the middle of 1976. Kiddier (keyboards) went on to do session work, as well as performing in The Bismarcks and The Watch. Bronze (bass) subsequently worked with Procol Harum,Eric Clapton, Andy Fairweather Low and Robin Trower. Engel (drums) later joined 2 Minds Crack in the mid 80's. The remaining members are unaccounted for at this time.

So what to make of this one? Well, for starters, Glyder are often mistaken for being an AOR act, which is completely unfounded. In fact, Glyder are more akin to MOR pop than anything else. With a pop sound that is firmly rooted in pseudo country rock and celtic themes, the band's music inoffensively drifts by with nary a startling hook or passage. Sure, they don't exactly defy any musical conventions here, but there's nothing to despise either. Truthfully, this is perfect for background music. Don't expect anything more than harmless fluff and you'll be satisfied. The bottom line: Glyder are a decent pop act and though I rarely bother posting this kind of thing here, it's good to have it here for the sake of unraveling some of the mystery surrounding this british band. Enjoy this phenomenal rip by 'Nuxx'...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Wishlist Mega Update!

Be sure to check out my newly expanded wishlist on the right margin of this blog, good people! If any of you happen to own some of these titles, be sure to click the "Submissions & Requests" link below the wishlist so we can work something out. Keep an eye out for some interesting rarities in the coming days :) Till then...

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Kid Dynamite - Kid Dynamite (1976)

Kid Dynamite is another one of those ultra mysterious bands whose story is murky at best. It is known that the band emerged in 1975 when two former members (bassist Dicky Thompson and drumer John King) of the Steve Miller Band decided it was time to strike out on their own. Vocalist Val Garcia and guitarist Michael Mallen were later added and Kid Dynamite was born. Opting for a label who would allow the band total control over their direction, the band signed with Alvin Bennett's Cream Records in late 1975 and began working on their self-titled debut with producer Hal Winn at the helm. "Kid Dynamite" was released in January of 1976, but flagging sales and little label support abruptly killed the band at the conclusion of the year. Very little is known about the members post-split activities, though Michael Mallen is rumoured to be teaching guitar in California.

This elusive gem is one that is often discussed in collector circles, but rarely ever recognized as a musically viable effort. I beg to differ. "Kid Dynamite" is a dynamic exercise in genre splicing which works effectively from start to finish. Blending blues, hard rock, soul and funk, the band shows off their musical chops throughout, with a notably scorching effort from Dicky Thompson in particular. Sounding quite similar to Joey Newman's hard soul act, Bandit, the band merges the groove and conviction of classic funk with the forcefulness of 70's hard rock. The outcome is pretty spectacular and it's a real travesty that Kid Dynamite were merely a blip on the radar. Though this band is undoubtedly anonymous in all respects, some listeners may recognize the track "Uphill Peace of Mind", which was sampled and used by Dr. Dre (Nuttin But a G Thang) and Ultramagnetic MC's (Feelin' It) almost twenty years ago.

This one comes highly recommended for fans of soulful hard rock. This tweaked and cleaned vinyl transfer should satisfy ardent lovers of obscure 70's rock. Dig it...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Whiteface - Whiteface (1979)

Atlanta was home to Whiteface, one of the city's greatest hopes near the end of the 70's. Having conquered the area and honed their skills gigging as the house band at The Bistro, the band came to the attention of Mercury Records and inked a deal in the summer of 1978. Work commenced on their debut, which came in the form of "Whiteface" in 1979. With a highly stylized funk/pop/AOR hybrid sound, the band forged a unique musical vision that failed to net any real success with the masses. Though the band did tour quite a bit during this time, their powerhouse reputation did not translate elsewhere, leaving them frustrated and exhausted. This setback signalled the exit of bassist, Kyle Henderson in 1980.

Determined to move forward, the band ushered Barry Dunaway into Henderson's place and soon began work on their followup. In 1981, "Change of Face" hit the streets and once again Whiteface were met with indifference at every turn. Despite their virtuosity and sleek production, the changing climate in the industry proved to be the death knell, prompting a breakup in late 1982. Henderson went on to success with The Producers for over a decade, while the remaining members worked in various capacities with artists like Blackfoot, Ted Nugent, Pat Travers, John Mayall and Yngwie Malmsteen.

"Whiteface" is a prime example of style over substance. Though there's no denying the band were masters of their instruments, the album falls flat in its own effort to dazzle the senses. Sounding like a cross between Pablo Cruise, Doobie Brothers and Baby Grand, Whiteface fail to make a musical statement here. Sure, it's all well played and there are some hooks....but most of the material here is inoffensive generic pop. There are some highlights like "Talk of the Town" and "Three Ring Circus", but much of this is heavily steeped in whitebread disco, which was sweeping the nation during this time. Simply put, though this is a commendable effort, it misses the mark completely. Be sure to download this pristine vinyl transfer from 'melodicrocker123' and judge for yourself.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Survivor - All Your Pretty Moves (1979)

Survivor...a name that has become synonymous with power ballads and radio friendly AOR. But this is not THAT Survivor. This band hailed from Louisiana and formed in the mid 70's, thriving in the relatively low key Shreveport music scene for several years. It wasn't until 1978 that the band began work on their privately financed debut. By early 1979, the album hit store shelves but without the funding to push the album, distribution was limited to the region. Ultimately this would prove to be their undoing, as the band forged on for a few more years before finally calling it a day. By 1983, many of the ex-members had reconvened to work together in Philadelphia, a christian hard rock act. Their current whereabouts are unknown.

"All Your Pretty Moves" is a strange blend of late 70's hard rock and NWOBHM. With a sound that echoes Thin Lizzy and Iron Maiden, this album is fascinating because much of the material predates the trademark NWOBHM sound by several years. Though there are unquestionably some serious flaws in the songwriting, the handful of superior cuts are all excellent. The production is notably bottom heavy & crisp all the way around, which is impressive given that this is a private pressing. Though there's nothing here that reinvents the wheel, it is certainly worthy of a glance for aficionados of 70's cult hard rock. Check this sweet transfer of "All Your Pretty Moves".

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Attention contributors!

As mentioned in my post from last week, I have moved to a new email address. In the process of moving to my new home, all data from my old email address was lost when my old PC was damaged. As a result, I am unable to retrieve all of email addys for those of you who have contributed music and/or plan to contribute in the near future. That means fine folks like TT, Daz, Steffen, Dr.Woe, Ritchie Blackmore, Orchman, ResidentEvil2, aor66, Rob, Gerry, mamedia, fairplaybeach, higginz, gary_lankford and others. If you could please email me at the address linked at the bottom right margin of this page, I would greatly appreciate it. I want to remain in contact with you and want to be sure that your contributions are properly credited for some of my future postings.

If you are a new contributor, please contact me and we'll talk about getting your submission posted here ASAP! If you have a request, get with me and I'll start digging!

Thanks everyone!!!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Cinema Face - Cinema Face (1983)

Ontario's Cinema Face began in 1980, brandishing a clever blend of progressive rock and AOR. Combined with the band's theatrical stage show and impressive stage lighting, Cinema Face were quick to establish an impressive following which eventually led them to the studio to craft their self-financed debut. In early 1983, "Cinema Face" was unleashed upon the unsuspecting masses, though distribution issues would quickly dash any hopes of mass marketing for the band. Though efforts to conquer their native country proved disastrous, the band quickly became cult heroes in Japan and parts of Europe. Lack of funding eventually grounded the band before they could ever capitalize on their new found overseas success.

When Pacemaker Records reissued their debut in 1994, the surprising demand for Cinema Face prompted the band to reunite for a followup album. "Face Card" was released in 1996, though the band were incapable of trumping anything they had accomplished in their prior incarnation. It is generally regarded as an inferior followup to their stellar debut. Since then, the band has all but vanished with members embarking on various musical and non-musical projects over the years. Vocalist/guitarist, Franco, has since worked in film, theatre and issued a solo album, "Cydonia Mensae" to critical acclaim.

Cinema Face is truly one of Canada's national treasures. With a sleek, jarring and musically accomplished sound, the band should have been poised for greatness in their prime. As with many other fantastic bands, it was merely a case of bad business and poor timing. With a sound slightly comparable to Zon, Harlequin or Shooting Star, Cinema Face possesses a decidedly darker style than any of the aforementioned artists. Rooted firmly in theatrics, much of what can be found on this release could easily pass for a film score to an intense psychological thriller or sci-fi movie. Perhaps the two strongest cuts here are "You Drive Me Out of My Mind" and "Ugly Sisters", each possessing a brooding intensity that rarely surfaces in this genre.

It is absolutely imperative that fans of progressive AOR dig in and check out this masterwork from Cinema Face. You'll be scratching your head wondering why you ever missed them in the first place. If there was ever a band who truly encapsulates the "talented band who fell thru the cracks" theory, it is Ontario's brilliant Cinema Face.

Nantucket - V (1985)

Nantucket's final studio album came in the form of "V", released by Executive Records in 1985. With the band's fortunes clearly on the wane, "V" was issued in the hopes of grabbing the brass ring before everything fell apart. Though the band's intentions were noble, the ridiculous modernization of their established sound only assured their status as a band completely without direction. The production alone is almost too overbearing to warrant even a casual listen. With bellowing electronic drums, synth stabs & reverbed guitars, one listen and it is clear...this is NOT the Nantucket fans grew to love. Though there are some viable hooks here and there, the ambience of the album is so distracting that it's nearly impossible to appreciate the artistry of the music itself.

Naturally, this signaled the end of Nantucket for many years, though the band has been enjoying a minor resurgence in their hometown region since the beginning of the millennium. Dig this pristine vinyl transfer from Mike and hear the last studio outing from Nantucket.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Granmax - A Ninth Alive (1976)

Omaha, Nebraska was home to 70's hard rock quartet Granmax. Formed in early 1975, the band gained quite a bit of exposure throughout the midwest which culminated in the release of "A Ninth Alive" on Pacific Records in 1976. By the end of the year, the band signed with Panama Records and their debut was reissued to reasonable success in the region. The band tirelessly gigged throughout the midwest for nearly two years, picking up slots on numerous tours before the addition of frontman, Nick Christopher.

Revived and rejuvenated, the band entered the studio in early 1978 to record their sophomore album, "Kiss Heaven Goodbye". With a clearly harder edged sound, the band once again saturated the midwest with promotional gigs and a full tour, but audiences just weren't biting. The band returned to the studio to cut a third album, but things began to unravel during the sessions and Granmax came to a screeching halt before it could be completed. The post breakup activities of the members is unknown.

One listen to this album and you'll be scratching your head wondering why there's so much fervor over Granmax. Most likely it is due to their legendary followup album from 1978, as this release is a rather pedestrian exercise in one dimensional hard rock. Sure the musicianship is tight enough and the production isn't all that horrible, but the songwriting is terribly unoriginal and plodding. The average vocals do virtually nothing to help either. To their credit, there are many ideas that begin so well, only to fall flat by their conclusion. Ranging from hard boogie to folk rock to proto metal, Granmax never quite manage to manifest their ideas into anything memorable. However, since their 2nd album seems to get all of the attention online, it's only fair to offer up this relic for your judgement. Thanks to Alex(?) for this fine vinyl rip!

Acme Thunder - Let's All Get Naked (1978)

Chicago's Acme Thunder sprang from the ashes of area group, Aliotta Haynes Jeremiah in 1977. Where AHJ were decidedly hippy influenced, Acme Thunder were unquestionably a full on rock outfit. With essentially the same lineup as AHJ, the band enlisted Harvey Mandel on lead guitar and soon, their debut "Let's All Get Naked" was issued the following year. Though Acme Thunder were a credible act in and around the Chicago area, the addition of Mandel helped elevate the band to a whole other level musically. Having a successful solo career for many years, as well as ties to artists like Canned Heat, John Mayall, The Ventures and Love, Mandel's expertise was an instrumental factor in the development of the band's new sound.

Strangely enough though, the band only lasted two years before fizzling out completely. Aliotta continued in music primarily as a session player, Haynes went on to form his own publishing company and has issued a drug rehabilitation self-help album. Jeremiah is living near St. Louis, but his musical activities are unknown at this time. Mandel continues to thrive as a solo artist.

"Let's All Get Naked" is a respectable effort with a rather schizophrenic viewpoint. Swaying from bluesy rock to hard rock to glossy pop, the album doesn't quite know where it's going. The highlights are undoubtedly the rock tracks like "If I Only Had a Girl", "Go Like a Beast" and "Flowers". Several of the cuts including the fusion jam "Mexico", lack the presence of strong hooks, rendering the overall impression of this album as a bit lopsided in the quality department. Despite the magnificent musicianship here, the album fails to stand up on its own as a whole. Taken in parts, however, "Let's All Get Naked" is an interesting excursion into many genres. Never issued on compact disc, here's a sweet vinyl transfer straight from the archives. Check it...

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Jade - Faces of Jade (1970)

Cincinnatti's Jade were another one of those elusive early 70's psychedelic acts who left behind only one private pressing before vanishing into the mist. Virtually nothing is known about the band, but collectors have been swarming record fairs and pillaging eBay for years in the hopes of snagging this relic. So does the album live up to its hype? Mostly, yes...

Considering the modest budget of such a DIY undertaking in 1970, the mix is well done and the material is very well constructed. Blending the Beatles, Blossom Toes and a number of other pop/psych acts of the era, Jade create a formidable aural tapestry. With slight folk leanings, each track breezes along quite nicely throughout the duration of the album. The engineering trickery in places here are subtle reminders that Jade were foremost Beatles influenced. Perhaps the strangest track is "My Mary" which is absolutely mindblowing. This ingenius piece of music features backwards accompaniment along with warped vocals that sound deceptively reversed but are actually sung forward. The outcome is like a bent merry-go-round, wobbling in circular motion while the seasick vocals spill out over the arrangement. It's truly a sound to behold. The rest of the album is mostly just as satisfying and any lovers of quirky psych will find alot to enjoy in "Faces of Jade". Check out this sweet overhauled and tweaked vinyl rip and dig the sounds of Jade.

Hush - C'mon We're Taking Over (1974)

Aussie rockers, Hush, came to life in 1971 as a five-piece unit consisting of Keith Lamb (vocals), Chris Nolan (keyboards), Robin Jackson (guitar), Rick Lum (bass) and John Koutts (drums). The band gigged in this incarnation until the middle of 1972, when Nolan, Jackson and Koutts exited. Les Gock (guitars) and Chris Pailthorpe (drums) were enlisted, leaving Hush as a four piece. This newly revitalized lineup went on to win Hoadley’s National Battle of the Sounds contest later that year, putting them squarely in the spotlight and prompting a recording contract with Warner Brothers. By 1973, "Alive 'n Loud" was issued on the strength of their first single, "Get the Feelin", which peaked at #11 on the Aussie charts. Touring ensued and by early 1974, Hush moved to Wizard Records to record their sophomore album.

"Get Rocked" was released in early spring, spawning three singles that were all met with a reasonable amount of success. However, Wizard was not satisfied with the album's triple gold status. Sensing the impending glam explosion that had already swept the UK, the band were pressured to adjust their look accordingly and focus on finding a glam standout that could send them up the charts. The band were quickly shuffled into the studio to record their third album, "C'mon We're Taking Over", which hit store shelves in September of 1974. The album failed to impress critics and fans, causing their lone single from the album to sink without a trace.

Though their live reputation was formidable, Hush seemed barely on the cusp of something great and luckily Wizard made one last attempt to help the band strike gold. This finally came in 1975, as their fourth album, "Rough Tough n Ready" exploded onto the scene with the help of an explosive cover of "Boney Maroney" and a colorful appearance on the famous, "Countdown" TV program. Soon Hush were the glam darlings of their native country and their tour that year sold out virtually everywhere in Australia. This success lasted thru most of 1976, which also saw the addition of a second guitarist, Jacques DeJongh. This augmented lineup was short lived as Gock departed at the conclusion of the tour in early 1977.

Determined to eclipse the success of their last album, Hush released "Touche" in the summer of 1977, but their audience had all but vanished along with the dying glam scene that helped them achieve such success. One single from the album was issued and failed to chart, prompting Wizard to drop the band later that year. The band effectively ceased to exist by early 1978. In the wake of the split, several of the members went on to issue their own singles to little response. In the years following, Lamb suffered from mental illness and eventually left the business to work in embroidery (Rajmahal) and gaming (TAOC). Gock became a jingle writer and has successfully maintained his career for 20+ yrs. Lum returned to his first career in graphic design, while Pailthorpe became an architect. DeJongh is now a chef. Hush reformed twice, once in 2004 and again in 2006 for short tours but as of this writing, the band is finally put to rest.

"C'mon We're Taking Over" is easily the band's most unusual work which explains why this album seems to be overlooked by fans of the band. Not subscribing to the overt glam stylings of their subsequent work, the band shoot for depth here and to some extent it works. Tracks like "In My Short Life", "Rocking Gypsy Kings" and "Longing To Get Home" show the band at their most subdued, which came as a surprise for ardent fans. Though Hush should be commended for attempting to diversify their sound, these tracks all lack the hooks necessary to make them classics. Predictably, it's the fiery rockers that command attention here, as tracks like "Caroline" and the title track illustrate. In truth, most of the material here is bordering on mediocrity, but this interesting nugget deserves revisiting. It's a clear step in a different direction that Hush would never return to in subsequent years. Enjoy this nice vinyl transfer of "C'mon We're Taking Over"...