3/25/16

Spriguns - Revel, Weird & Wild (1976)



A re-up to complete Mandy Morton collection. This is the second Spriguns album, and even if it's far from the grandeur of Magic Lady and Sea Of Storm (too trad. folk and narrative for me), there's the voice of Mandy Morton and some very good parts or songs (such as "When Spring Comes In"). Catch it here.

The most dl album of this blog is Magic Lady by Mandy Morton (here). I agree this is one of the best of the ones I posted here but I can't deny I'm quite surprise by this success. I also posted the next one, Sea Of Storm (here) and the previous one, published under the name of the Spriguns and entitled Time Will Tell (here), the band from which she was the lead singer, but they don't reach of course the same level of excellence than did Magic Lady. The LP she released (again with the Spriguns) before Time Will Tell is surely the best after Magic Lady. Completely in the folk tradition of the seventies but more on its doomy side (Comus, Strawbs) although apparently softer and happier, it's a nice collection of songs. Of course it surely can be found on folk-specialized blogs but here it is to complete your Mandy Morton discography. If it's more uneven than Magic Lady (here some songs should have been better omitted), it's still the proof what a great folk singer was Mandy Morton, and more than that, one of the most striking artist of the last 50 years. Many consider her vocal tone is too monotonous and distant, but this is what I enjoy in her, this neutral way of singing that does not stand between the song and the listener. It's this way and this way only that something of the old manner to see life can emerge and that the past can become our present mood. Very emotional for me was to discover than in June 2009, Mandy Morton, now a radio journalist, interviewed Melanie (Safka of course). My 2 fave female singers in the same studio. I would have loved to be here and to tell them how they were great. You can listen to that discussion here for part 1, then the 4 other parts are indicated.



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3/23/16

Mandy Morton - Sea of Storms (1980)



Today I realized that I hadn't re-up this gem and that nobody asked me to do it. What a shame. Mandy Morton is one of my favorite singers and this solo album, released after Spriguns disbanded, is a splendid collection of songs even if the arrangements are sometimes too much 80's (the moog would have been advantageously replaced by real instruments but fortunately violin is here to add the trad. touch to the music). There's hardly better british folk rock being released. Catch it here. And the Spriguns discography will be soon re-up on FS. I encourage you to read the comments where Mark Boettcher, who plays guitar on 3 titles (according to the cover sleeve) left very interesting information, notably about the relation between Mandy and Mike Morton. It appears they were still together, but the lyrics suggest there was some sentimental trouble anyway.

If I repost this LP, it's not only because Mandy Morton is one of my all-time fave female singer with Billie Holiday and Melanie, nor because this album is musically wonderful and lyrically about a painful break with her loving partner, somewhere between Peter Hammill's Over and Groundhogs' Crosscut Saw. No, it's because someone informed me recently that in my rar file, the 2 last songs of the LP were missing. Since the hardware on which this LP was stored (I didn't possess it, neither in vinyl or in CD) was dead, I decided to buy the CD and to post the LP in its entirety.So here it is. If some visitor knows Mandy Morton, please tell her that she is greatly missed and she shouldn't have stopped her musical career. PS. I added the inner sleeve lyrics of 4 songs in the file. Below, what I wrote in the 1st post.

After the wonderful Magic Lady (that you can find here) Mandy Morton parted way with the Spriguns, and more importantly with her husband, Mike Morton, although he's on this follow up. Since we are in the beginning of this terrible period that were the 80's (with the awful production options of that sad era) the LP is somewhat deceiving from time to time (who had the bad idea to put these synthetisers on "After The Storm" or "Silas The Silent"?) but contains again some superb compositions, among the best Mandy Morton composed (such as "Ghost of Christmas Past", "Twisted Sage", "Land of the Dead" or "The Sculptor"), and the lyrics are really moving. Unfortunately, the fan site on which all the Mandy Morton lyrics were available is down for a year now. I don't know why but I regret not to have dl them when it was possible. Similarly to Magic Lady, what's striking with Mandy Morton, is this impression of quiet evidence that her voice and her melodies provide. This album has much more in common with String Driven Thing The Machine That Cried era (eg. "Twisted Sage") and Strawbs From The Witchwood era (eg. "Wake Up The Morning") than what Mandy and the Spriguns played. So sad that there will only be an album afterwards (that I failed to find on the net) and then nothing. This lady should be remembered as one of the UK folk secret treasure and more largely of popular music. She works for more than 20 years on a radio and has a cultural show (I never heard it since we can't get it from France) but, even if she's happy this way, it's a great waste for music and for our hearts that she was so good to comfort".



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3/19/16

The Sensational Alex Harvey Band - Big Louie / Harp 7" (1972)



I'm in my Alex Harvey period and I'm afraid that if you don't like the man, you'll still be a little bit angry when coming here on the further days. In the last weeks I was confronted to the darkest of human mind and Alex makes me (with some others) believe to the kindness of humanity when so many are wicked scumbags. Here's the first single ever released by the band. Zal is still not with his famous make-up, the band still not with its so particular sound but all in all, as soon as this first try, it's clear that it's a great band to emerge. Don't forget we're in 1972. For me, Sleaford Mods roots are here (as are the Fall ones too). Note that I've improved the sound quality of "Harp", "the unreleased on album" B-side. Although it was included on the double CD compilation Considering the Situation, the bass was too high and Alex's voice far in the back. So now it's much better. I also created a new cover sleeve (there was none for the original single). I'm rather happy with it. Catch it here. More to come.

This is the first single SAHB released, some days before the Framed album. Not a very judicious choice this A-side. In the end of this glam 1972 year, I wonder who could believe this would chart. It seems that the band was not aware of the real meaning of the lyrics. At least they tell it so in one SAHB biography. I can't say I am but Alex was for sure and maybe fluent English spoken listeners will. The fact that, in the same year that his cherished brother Leslie was electocuted on stage while playing with Stone the Crow, he sings about Big Louie being condamned to the electric chair, is moving. But of course, the interest is not "Big Louie", included in the LP, but the B-side, entitled "The Harp" (the song you can listen to on the streaming below), and only released to my knowledge on the Considering the Situation double CD compilation where it was even associated with the pre-SAHB version of this song. It is much better than "Big Louie" and should have been included on Framed I think. During the first SAHB year, what is clear is that Hugh McKenna chosed an electric piano sound in line with the proletarian look, quite cheap in fact, and it was a good move for Next to change it for a much richer sound. Alex helps me a lot to face dayworks these times. Even dead for more than 27 years, he's still living in me like an adored friend. This is one more tribute to him.


 Below the "Big Louie" lyrics.
"Paper sir, Paper sir, Paper sir
The mobs in town and the guns are out, and Louie knows what it's all about, he's gunning down the cops with machinegun tops. Moving in a black sedan, a stickup worth a hundred grand, headline sensation: A payroll grab in the union station
(Chorus):
Now there's no lights on the christmas tree mother, they're burning Big Louie tonight. There's no electricity mother, they're burning Big Louie tonight
Across the state the bandits fly, victims scream, gangsters die, and sirens in the night and armoured cars and dynamite. Now Peter is on the mob, and the FBI is on the job, and now the headlines say: Louie Bannassas on trial today
(Chorus):
But they got him in the final chase, Louie was running in a losers race, and on the day his case begun. He was Public Enemy Number One, but the jury's back, they all agree, it's murder in the first degree. Tie him down and shave his hair, cause tonight Big Louie's gonna get the chair
(Chorus):
The baby's crying
They're burning Big Louie tonight
They're gonna fry him
They're burning Big Louie tonight




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3/15/16

The Sensational Alex Harvey Band - Amos Moses 7" (1976)



















You want more Alex Harvey. Here's one more. Details about it below. More and more to come of course. Catch it here.

Only 3 months after the success of the "Boston Tea Party" single, Mountain released this one (in august 1976), a cover of the bayouesque Jimmy Reed Hubbard classic (who died in september last year), a hit by the composer himself in 1970 (it must be remembered that Alex had covered "Goodnight Irene" in the Penthouse Tapes album, not composed by Hubbard but a hit by him in 1962). Since 2 years, Mountain was harassing the band for having hit singles and this was beginning to alter Alex's mood. All this tour labour, all these albums sold, and the only congratulation from the label being: could you give us a hit please. The funniest is that "Boston Tea Party" did not apparently possess the standards of a hit single but was one, whereas this apparent predicted hit was not. It's not surprising. Something does not completely works in this version. The live ones are much better as you can hear here. But of course, I do not post this single for "Amos Moses" that everybody can find on the SAHB stories album, but for the rare B-side, "Satchel and the Scalp Hunter". Don't expect a real song. On the model of the story read in Thick as a Brick from Jethro Tull (you know, the hare who lost his spectacles), Alex tells us the story of a little girl with a strange little creature in her satchel. I don't have the text written and can't always understand what is saying Alex due to his strong Scottish accent, but I identified the general synopsis. He's only accompanied by Hugh McKenna on piano, and this anticipates his unfortunately short-lived project of the Loch Ness fable. The value of this song is principally historical, showing that Alex was leaning to a less rock'n roll attitude. Destiny didn't allow him to satisfy his wishes. The cover is once again a DIM (do it myself) one. Because mine is only paper, and because the official ones of the first pressings were really ugly. Alex deserves better than that.





















Amos Moses was a Cajun. And lived by himself in the swamp. Hunting alligator for a living. Knock 'em on the head with a stump. The Louisiana law's gonna get you, Amos. It ain't legal hunting alligator down in the swamp, boy. Now everybody blamed his old man for raising him mean as a snake. When Amos Moses was a boy, his Daddy would use him as alligator bait. Tie a rope around his waist, throw him in the swamp. Alligator bait on the Louisiana bayou. Just about 45 minutes southeast of Thibodaux, Louisiana. There lived a man called Doc Milsap and his pretty wife Hannah. They raised up a son that could eat up his weight in groceries. Named him after a man of the cloth. They called him Amos Moses. Now folks in South Louisiana said Amos was a helluva man. He could trap the biggest, meanest alligator. He only had to use one hand. That's all he got left 'cause the alligator bit him. Ha ha!Left arm gone clean up to the elbow. Here comes Amos. And you should have seen his pretty wife, Hannah. Well, the Sheriff got wind that Amos was in the swamp hunting alligator skin. So he hid in the swamp, "I'm gonna get you boy."He never did come out again. Well, I wonder where the Louisiana Sheriff went to?Sure can get lost in the Louisiana bayou

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3/11/16

The Sensational Alex Harvey Band - Anthem 7" (1974)


A re-up of this single in a reworked form (see details in the initial post below). I just improved a little bit the did-it-myself cover sleeve. Catch it here.

This single is the 6th of SAHB, released in Nov.1974 and the last not to chart. Not a surprise, the surprise being that they thought it would be a hit, cause it's not a singalong song appropriate for Tops of the Pops. Moreover, the song was proposed in an edit (short) version on A-side and a long one on B-side, the long being the one from The Impossible Dream, an album released 2 months earlier. Not a good thing actually. It would have been a better idea to put a live version on the B-side. That's what I do here (with a self-made cover sleeve, not really representative of a single from the 70s but who cares?). In Austria and Germany the Edit version was coupled with "River of Love", also from The Impossible Dream. It's true that it would have been difficult to put the 16 min live version recorded in Cleveland on the 9th december 1974 (and that you can find on the US Tour 74 album released in 2006) on a 7". But now we can do it (making of this real single a fake one). The version is not exceptional and it's clear that Alex Harvey fails to make the main tune the anthem he would have liked to make the audience sings. You can see a much more fantastic version on the youtube video I post below, recorded in NY, on the same tour. Shorter and more focused, one can see what an incredibly fascinating singer was Alex Harvey. Vicky Silva is the girl on vocals and she's doing a great job. "Anthem" was actually a very important song for Alex Harvey. A real tribute to his Scottish roots, and to have these pipers playing on it in this rock dreamland, must have been a moving experience for him. He had actually travelled to the USA with these players, not used to the Sex and Drug and Rock 'n' Roll on the road life. No need to say more. Nothing really rare here but another tribute to the great Alex.


Anthem. If you don't put me on trial Then why don't you turn me loose You can throw the key away Let me chase the wild goose Your progress is my desire You shouldn't do me wrong Although it's true I'm worried now I won't be worried long Telling stories to the peacocks Selling systematically Just a counterfeit engraving Of the way you used to be Just another one-way number Just another two-way song Although it's true I'm worried now I won't be worried long Don't encourage me to murder 'Cause it pays to advertise Don't treat me with suspicion Don't tell me no more lies You know I love your company You shouldn't do me wrong Although it's true I'm worried now I won't be worried long Although it's true I'm worried now I won't be worried long


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3/9/16

The Sensational Alex Harvey Band - No Complaints Department unreleased 7" (1977)


First re-up of a series of SAHB singles. Maybe the most important since it was shelved before it was released and because the song was also removed from the album (Rock Drill) although it featured on the first German and Nederland pressings (by chance I got one since I was a SAHB fan buying the fist one that was issued in the town I lived then). The song was intended to be the A-side of their new single but the line about his brother Leslie is said to have been potentially too shocking for his parents. Not really sure this is the reason why the single was not issued. On the B-side, the song that was supposed to be was "Anthem" but I preferred to put another one from the album, since "Anthem" was rather a weird choice since it was from an ancient LP. "No Complaints Department" is surely the most autobiographical, personal and moving song of all the Alex Harvey repertoire. The fact it was only released accidentally on CD (see a visitor's comment) is really unexplainable. So here is my rip version, a little bit improved compared to the first post (6 years ago). Not sure it is really better than the 2 you can hear on YouTube so I include below these 2 videos and you can make your mind. There are YouTube downloading free softwares you can use to get one of them if you think it is better than mine. Someone in the comments says the picture of the band I added in the first post was not the band in 1977. Honestly I can't say so I prefer to remove it for this updated version and add an Alex Harvey portrait. Catch this rarity and incredibly moving song here.

Yes, I know I already posted this song before. But it seems, looking at the download rate, that many did not understand that The Real Rock Drill meant that "Mrs Blackhouse" had been removed and the initial real closer song, "No Complaints Department" (sorry, I mispelled it on the DIY cover of the 7", omitting the "s" of "complaints", but once again, it was too time consuming doing it again), a legendary rarely heard song, included as it was in the first vinyl version of the album, the one I bought at the time it was released. Maybe to find it, one must write the title song as keywords in the research engines they use, so the best is to create a fake single with this song as main title (actually fake A-side) and therefore the problem is solved. I won't say much here about this masterpiece, everything was explained there. On the (fake B-side), I chose a Rock Drill song with a similar melancholic atmosphere, "The Dolphins", making of this unreal single one of the most real moving ones in music history. The charm of the blogs is to allow everyone to create our own vinyl alchemy. Once again, I inform that "No Complaint Department" has never been released on CD, that I never found it on blogs or on the net, and that this is a rip from my own vinyl. Enjoy it  and a tender hello to Alex wherever he is.



Below, the 2 songs for streaming with their lyrics.Note that the version is the low-quality one and that in the file you'll have a better one.

No Complaints Department. I've seen stars disappear in a hurry overdoses of satin and silk, some others who can't feed their children 'cause they don't have the money for milk. Saw my best friend die in a plane crash, my brother was killed on the stage, so don't be upset if I'm angry, and seem in some kind of a rage. There is no complaints department, it's only up to you, no complaints department, no complaints department blues. I've got friends who are armed with magnums, they don't get their money from me, 'cause it never is no kind of pleasure, to see somebody suffer you see.There is no complaints department, it's only up to you, no complaints department, no complaints department blues. They took my old pal to the madhouse, in horror, in fear and in pain, with surgery done in a hurry, to do a transplant in his brain. There are some folks got nothing to live for, some folks got nothing to lose, so don't ask me for pity, no complaints department blues. There is no complaints department, it's only up to you, no complaints department, no complaints department blues.

The Dolphins. We watched the dolphins swimming down the fractured avenue Drilling through the rock bed Making hell of the morning dew Making hell of the morning dew Prayin' just ain't no way of saying To the monarchs sitting silly In the excrement from there own cigars This is no truce; This is the truth from hillbilly guitars! You wana play tricks on the hicks, And all we wanna do is be rock and roll stars! Ha! Hypnos was a Greek He could take the wild and the weak He could take your brain And hang it on the end of an iron chain The master showed his slave that a man ain't nothin' but a man! But before I'm gonna let that dumbbell beat me down, I'm gonna die with that hammer in my hand! ...That hammer in my hand! We watched the dolphins swimming down the fractured avenue, Drilling through the rock bed Making hell of the morning dew Making hell of the morning dew We watched the dolphins swimming down the fractured avenue, Drilling through the rock bed And making hell of the morning dew Making hell of the morning dew Making hell of the morning dew Where were you little man, When I laid down the foundations of your universe? I constructed the perimeter of your thoughts! I constructed where and what your flesh and bones would realize! Making hell of the morning dew...

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3/8/16

The Sensational Alex Harvey Band - The Old Grey Whistle Test (73-77)



















I listen to music since I am 12 and I'm 57, never ceased to listen to it, always tried to keep in touch with what was released during all these decades, always found at least something good to hear, sometimes very rich periods, and not only during the 60s and 70s as often old farts like me do loke to say. If I begin this post with this statement it's because I would like to say that what I'm absolutely sure, it's that The Sensational Alex Harvey Band was one of the or maybe the most singular band to have existed in rock history. Each time I go back to them (about once a year), I am shocked by the incredible idiosyncrasic musical universe they had created and how it has not been altered by time. Of course it's not difficult to recognize some of mid-70s stylistic characteristics but it escapes this narrow classification and becomes something like a total act, narrative, multi-stylistic, cabaret, grotesque, popular and so many things to add. Here it's only the 3 appearances of the band (the last one minus Alex Harvey and rather forgettable) at The Old Grey Whistle Test + their appearance at Top of the Pops for "Boston Tea Party" (not a playback so nice to add). This was released on 2 different CDs in the past but I did a personal cover sleeve as I often do, because I like it. Below some clips from these appearances. Much better to be re-up or newly posted in the further days. This is Alex times again. Catch it here.






3/6/16

The Sensational Alex Harvey Band - Can't Get Enough unissued LP (1974)



I'll re-up several Alex Harvey (with and without Sensational Band) in the further days. I begin with this one. A miss but an interesting testimony about what a producer not understanding a band can ruin their best material (with few exceptions on this one, see the statement below). Fortunately, they issued the correct version officially. Catch it here.

In 1974, the band had to find a decent following to the great Next LP, in other words, something next, and more than anything else, had to find the studio formula that would help them to be more than the "best live band of the country" since the labels wanted their "products" to sell records to keep them signed. So an idea was to find a producer and the choice was Shel Talmy, a rather forgotten one in 1974, but a legend for being the man behind the Who and Kinks records in their beginnings. But actually, the sessions that were intended to give birth to an album called Can't Get Enough, would turn into a disaster, at least according to the band, since Shel Talmy didn't respect how they wanted to sound and turn them in a sort of "Louis Prima and his big band for the seventies" that mainly horrified Alex, who wanted to be part of the band and not the frontman. So everything was recorded again with another produced (their friend David Batchelor) and this gave the famous Impossible Dream. Everyone thought the tapes had been lost and destroyed but actually Shel Talmy had one, and this was released 3 years ago by MLP under the strange name of Hot City with a rather ugly cover sleeve. Strange since the album had a name, and for the cover sleeve, it was not difficult to imagine that the US cover for The Impossible Dream would have fitted for the LP (but I guess they didn't own the rights). Is this album a complete miss? Not really but sure it would have been a complete failure at the times, since in 1974 nobody would have received this sort of mix between old comedy and burlesque jazz, progressive music, and hard rock with a real enthusiasm. Just remember the way were received the 2 Preservation albums (from the Kinks) the same years. And it's true that Shel Talmy didn't catch the point in making SAHB sounded as a compact outfit when they were cultivating this particular dismembered approach of music. There are some good surprises however, such as "Long Haired Music" or "Tomahawk Kid", in versions rather better than on the official album. But all in all, it was not a success. But too much words. Enjoy this out-of-oblivion testimony of one of the greatest band in history. All pictures below are from a show in April 1974 and were taken by Dan Cuny.