Monday, December 24, 2007

A Holiday Wish From J

Here's hoping you all have a wonderful holiday season. I have had a blast talking with all of you and sharing obscurities from all over the world. I'm looking forward to the changes and goodness 2008 has to offer. Be safe, stay tuned and many thanks for your readership. It's only going to get better :) Peace and love to you all...


Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Equinox - Hard Rock (1973)

Equinox were a short lived british quartet from Chesterfield who came together in 1972. The band spent most of their first year on the club circuit before a chance encounter with the folks at Boulevard Records, a well-known budget label with a nasty reputation for fleecing their artists and releasing substandard product. Naive, the band agreed to record their album (in the engineer's basement) for a mere £25 per member. "Hard Rock" hit store shelves in early 1973 but within a few months the album was already in cutout bins all over the UK. The band were quite surprised to find that the individuals depicted on the cover were not even in the band. Boulevard explained that they were suffering from a cardboard shortage and had decided to recycle some old rejected covers for the "Hard Rock" release. Though the band tolerated this kind of shady treatment, they would eventually cease to exist by January of 1974. Vocalist Mick Shedd continued performing locally and now performs with classic rock cover band, Hellhound. Keyboardist Jon Stoppard has moved into performing celtic music and has released a solo album, "Secret Gardens". The remaining members whereabouts are unknown.

"Hard Rock" is nothing to get excited about, but it's not an awful effort either. Sounding much like many of their peers from the british music scene in the early 70's, The Equinox suffer mostly from lack of identity. The musicianship is decent enough and even some of the writing is fully formed, but sadly most of it is just indistinct. "Land of Blue Fire" and "Black Mike" get the honors here as the standouts. The rest is mediocre at best. Judge for yourself and download this rarity from the UK. Here is The Equinox.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Babyface - Babyface (1977)

Babyface were a Wisconsin based quartet who would later evolve into the more well known southern rock/AOR act, Axe. Consisting of Bobby Barth (guitar/vox), Michael Turpin (bass), Edgar Riley (keyboards) and Bob Miles (drums), Babyface gigged around Wisconsin and later Colorado before finally landing a contract with ASI Records. With relatively no studio experience, the band huddled into the studio and over the next few months, recorded an album's worth of material. Producer, Dan Holmes, would later substitute much of the guitar and keyboard tracks with string passages unbeknownst to the band. The album hit store shelves before they were made aware and quickly, "Never In My Life" became a Billboard Top 20 hit.

Though this success was welcomed, the band were quickly labeled 'adult contemporary', though the band's live performances were quite the opposite. As a result, the band's fortunes began to wane by early 1978. Frustrated, the members all went their separate ways, with Barth relocating to Boulder to hook up with Canary guitarist Michael Osbourne. Within months, Barth, Osbourne & the Babyface players all moved to Gainesville, FL to form Axe. Osbourne was killed in a automobile accident in 1984, Barth has since worked with Blackfoot, Angry Anderson and CITA.

"Babyface" is a truly puzzling piece of work. Knowing the work Barth would do in Axe, this effort is such a distinctly different beast that it's honestly difficult to listen without prejudice. The majority of the tracks are fairly well written but come across lifeless and bland. There are a few highlights such as "How Long Can a Rock and Roll Band Keep Carryin' On?", which echoes the Doobie Brothers in places. "Try" and "Songwriter" are also fairly strong and come the closest to actually sounding like Axe. The rest, well...let's just call it an acquired taste. Even Barth looks back in disgust about this album. Download away and satisfy your curiosity. You know you want to! Thanks to Mattias J for the contribution.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Magnet - Worldwide Attraction (1979)

Magnet sprung from the ashes of Natural Gas, a british 'supergroup' who issued one album in 1976 only to vanish without a trace a year later. Two of the alumni, Jerry Shirley (Humble Pie) and Peter Wood (Sutherland Brothers & Quiver) continued working together and eventually relocated from Los Angeles to New York City to form another band, which ultimately became Magnet. A&M Records were quick to offer the band a contract in 1978 and by the middle of the following year, "Worldwide Attraction" had landed in record stores all over the USA. It is not known whether the band ever toured behind the album, but Magnet were already history by the following year with Shirley rejoining a reformed Humble Pie and later joining Fastway. Wood would move on to session work for artists like Cyndi Lauper, Carly Simon and John Lennon before passing away in 1994. The activities of the remaining members are unknown.

"Worldwide Attraction" is a decent album, though there's a real mixed bag of material happening here. It seems Magnet were simply without direction, as the tracks sway carelessly from west coast soft rock to AOR and back. The result is a band who doesn't know whether they are Firefall or Survivor. For me personally, it's the harder tracks that get my attention and there are a few worth noting. "I Don't Want To Lose Your Love" and "Night Patrol" both muster enough fire to justify repeated listens. "Underneath the Moonlight" is a decent boogie rock track, though it's nothing mindblowing. The rest of the album unfortunately falls short of praise, with cliched and unimaginative soft rock being in majority. Though I've certainly heard far worse, "Worldwide Attraction" is really just a run-of-the-mill 70's rock album with a few highlights worth hearing. Take a listen and make your own judgement of this fantastic quality vinyl rip by Stephen.