Friday 26 July 2013


The nice folk at Hookah Records have announced that the "Girl With No Eyes" album, being released to support It's A Beautiful Day with David & Linda Laflamme and Rob Espinosa on their imminent UK tour, have arrived. Four astonishing tracks performed live in San Francisco in 1969. A review of a Test Pressing in the Berkeley Barb rated the album between Super Nifty and Awesome. The album has been pressed on classic heavy vinyl and will be available throughout the tour and by mail order and via Amazon in the UK.

The album sells for £14 including postage and packing by mail order but only £10 at the shows themselves. Postage prices are becoming more and more expensive but we are seeing what we can do about distributing the record in the US and keeping postage as low as possible

Buy a copy of the IABD album - UK Buyers

Enquire after a copy of the IABD album - US Buyers

Tour Dates are:

Fri 2nd Aug: Green Hotel, Kinross, Scotland
Sat 3rd Aug: Tartan Heart Festival...
, Belladrum Estate, Beauly, Invernes-shire, IV47BA, Scotland
Sun 4thAug: The New Roscoe, Bristol St., Leeds, LS7 1DH
Ticket outlets: from venue (0113 246 0778) or Jumbo Records (0113 245 5570)
Mon 5th Aug: Talking Heads, 320 Portswood Road, Southampton, SO17 2TD. Tickets from venue 02380 678 446
Tues 6th Aug: Wotton Hall Concert Room, 138, Barnwood Rd, Gloucester. GL4 3JS
Weds 7th Aug: The Chichester Inn, Chichester
Thurs 8th: The Beaverwood Club. Beaverwood Road. Chislehurst, Kent, BR7 6HF.
Fri 9th: Boom Boom Rooms, Borough Sports Ground, Gander Green Lane, Sutton, Surrey, SMY2EY
Sat 10th Aug: “The Cellars At Eastney”, 56, Cromwell Rd., Southsea, Hants., PO4 9PN
Sun 11th Aug: Dimbola House, Terrace Lane, Freshwater, Isle of Wight, PO40 9QE.
 Tickets: from Dimbola house - ring 01983 756814.
NOTE!!!! This is an EARLY SHOW- there is NO support band - IT'S A BEAUTIFUL DAY will be on stage at 7 p.m and the show will finish around 9.15 pm., so you'll have time to catch the ferry off the Isle Of Wight to the mainland!
Tues 13th Aug.: The Musician, 34, Clyde Street, Leicester, LE1 2BG.
Weds 14th Aug: The Robin 2, 20-28 Mount Pleasant, Bilston, Wolverhampton,
West Midlands, WV14 7LJ
Thurs 15th Aug: Bluefunk R & B Club, The WMC, Park Lane, Poynton, Cheshire, SK12 1RG.
Fri 16 Aug: Trades Club, Holme St., Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire, HX7 8EE
Sat 17 Aug: The Greystones, Sheffield


Thursday 28 March 2013


Coming 29 April 2013, a double album of Lawrence Hammond’s ‘Presumed Lost’ on Shagrat Records.

Folks, we’ve finally bitten the bullet and done a vinyl run of the ‘Presumed Lost’ set.

This is a very limited release of just 300 copies coming in a beautiful gatefold sleeve.

Pressed on 180gsm vinyl, the album features lyrics to all 11 songs on the album reprinted on the inner gatefold sleeve plus a new liner note by Lawrence himself and a recently unearthed, never-before published beautiful colour photo of the singer from the mid-70s.

However if you want to know the full story behind ‘Presumed Lost’, you’ll still have the
buy the CD version buy the CD version as we won’t be re-printing the CD booklet as part of this release.

Please note also that there are NO additional tracks.This is a must-have item, described by Kris Needs in this month’s Shindig! magazine as a ‘lost space cowboy masterpiece...a classic of its era’.

Side 1
Red-Dirt Texas Fiddler (5'16)
Nevada McCloud (4'44)
Papa Redwing Blackbird (5'09)

Side 2
Little Britches (6'22)
West Texas Border Patrol (8'59)

Side 3
John Deere Tractor (3'20)
Love for the Hunter (4'16)
The Heavenly Saga of Flight 641 (6'13)

Side 4
Pale Moon on the Pecos (3'15)
Lone Star Blues (3'11)
Tumbleweed Plantation (5'00)

Total Time: 55m 43s

Order now !
Once they’ve gone, they’re gone as we won’t be doing a re-press.

Taking pre-orders now !

And whilst visiting, check through the back catelogue as there is some seriously nifty stuff hidden away with just a handful of copies remaining .....

Saturday 17 November 2012


Shagrat Records is honoured to release Lawrence Hammond’s second and until now unissued solo LP, Presumed Lost.
Although the initial release is on a CD, a vinyl version is being prepared.

Those of you who bought last year’s Mad River archive set Jersey Sloo will know that after the band split up, singer, bassist, guitarist and song writer Hammond embarked on a solo career in the 70s that saw him pursue a rootsier path, one that revealed his deep love of country and blue grass music.
Lawrence released one fine solo LP called Coyote’s Dream on the Takoma label and performed regularly with his backing outfit, the Whiplash Band. Though sales of the Takoma release were disappointing, he did begin work on a second solo set finishing it in 1981 whilst in med school. The tapes were subsequently lost for well over a decade but have been finally rediscovered and restored for release some 35 years after they were first recorded.
1. Red-Dirt Texas Fiddler
2. Nevada McCloud
3. Papa Redwing Blackbird
4. Little Britches
5. West Texas Border Patrol
6. John Deere Tractor
7. Love for the Hunter
8. The Heavenly Saga of Flight 641
9. Pale Moon on the Pecos
10. Lone Star Blues
11. Tumbleweed Plantation
Using many of the musicians that made Coyote’s Dream such a joy, including lead guitarist James Louis Parber, fiddle player Byron Berline, Alan Lane on bass, Bill Weingarden on pedal steel, and featuring Lawrence on lead vocals, acoustic and acoustic lead guitars, dobro, mandolin and viola, Presumed Lost sees the Hammond come of age as one of American music’s great story-tellers. Packed full of his eloquent tales of hardship, love and death, and occasional flashes of real humour (The Heavenly Saga of Flight 641), Presumed Lost is a treat from start to finish.
In amongst the country ballads and road songs that ooze with gritty realism and conjure up utterly believable characters and situations from the American heartland, are such gems as the enchanting Papa Redwing Blackbird with its glorious soaring flute and classic West Coast harmony vocals, and the dark, almost sinister Love for the Hunter. Arguably though, the centrepiece of the record is the epic West Texas Border Patrol, a story of heart-rending tragedy and broken friendship set against the majestic backdrop of the Rio Grande, crammed full of startling cinematic images, and brought to life by a sparse musical soundtrack that puts one in mind of the melancholic grandeur of Procul Harum at their late 60s best. And on this outing, Lawrence has finally got to air his own version of John Deere Tractor, a song he wrote way back when, which has been recorded by many over the ensuing decades including Jerry Corbitt, Larry Sparks, and of course the Judds, who enjoyed a huge hit with it.
Presumed Lost S(a Shagrat/Soft Cloud release) is available from 16th November as a limited edition CD with 16 page booklet containing comprehensive sleeve notes and many rare photos from the era.
Vinyl junkies please note that Shagrat are planning a VERY limited vinyl edition early in the New Year. Keep checking the website for updated details

Monday 29 October 2012


Hugely obscure, Horace grew out of some informal "hash" jams that guitarist/bass player Jim Mercer and drummer Ric Parnell held in the autumn of 1970. Mercer was already a veteran of the British Blues Boom having played in the Tenement Blues Band and Uncle Bud (with Screw guitarist-to-be, Graham Neill) whilst Ric, son of well-respected drummer and band leader, Jack Parnell, had been playing in the later-to-be-revered Horse, and Atomic Rooster, as replacement for Carl Palmer.
Ric wangled some free studio time through mate Andy Ced Curtis, and with Ced at the controls, Ric and Jim went into Central Sound Studios in London's Denmark Street on 1st January 1971 to cut a few of their own numbers.
The three tracks they laid down had an indefinable magic and musicality that Shagrat Records felt deserved a wider audience, and they have been taken from an old acetate Jim preserved for the past 40 years and lovingly released on vinyl (as they would have been back in the day) for the first time.
The music has a strong bucolic yet at times experimental feel to it, conjuring up comparisons with Traffic, Caravan, Frank Zappa’s seminal Hot Rats album, and the more pastoral moments of early Stackridge. Ric Parnell, perhaps best known for his role as the spontaneously combusting drummer Mick Shrimpton in This Is Spinal Tap is a revelation as the band’s lead vocalist and the tracks are made even more special by Mike Piggott’s magisterial violin playing, adding edge, textures and atmosphere to the songs.

Waiting for the Moon is a moody blues shuffle somewhat reminiscent of The Grease Band’s debut LP for Harvest cut around the same time, whilst See the Sun shines with an exquisite West Coast aura, Parnell’s scatting in the closing moments reminiscent of the great David Crosby! The closing instrumental, Mongrel Polyop based around some haunting violin riffs is just plain beautiful – a kind of Brit version of Peaches en Regalia with Curtis’s cascading grand piano runs to the fore.
Sadly these numbers were all that Horace recorded. Despite Mercer and Parnell landing a publishing deal, Ric soon re-joined the Rooster for a further two albums and a life in music that has seen him play with the everyone from Italian prog-jazz-fusion band, Nova to more recently, Mick Farren’s (LA-based) Deviants. He’s currently playing with Montana psychedelic collective, Donovan’s Brain.
Andy Curtis joined Rare Bird for their Polydor albums. Jim and Mike would both go on to long careers in music (for more details of which please read the sleeve notes). Long time followers of the Shagrat label will fondly recall that Mercer went on to form the short-lived Sandoz, a wild psychedelic power trio (produced by Curtis), whose surviving acetate Shagrat released in 1995 as Pay Attention.
Mastered by Tony Poole, the 7” EP comes in an astonishingly beautiful full-colour gatefold sleeve, and inner bag designed by psychedelic artist John Hurford with extensive sleeve notes by Colin Hill.
Pressed on heavyweight 70g vinyl, it has been produced in a sure to become collectable limited edition of 250 copies. Before they all disappear in to the hands of collectors, music and art lovers may place their order with the nice folk at Shagrat Records.
A super-nifty item.

Wednesday 14 December 2011


SHAGRAT RECORDS is pleased to announce the release of ‘Jersey Sloo’ by legendary late 60s West Coast band, Mad River. The release includes a soft-cover book and 12” 5-track EP pressed on 180gsm vinyl, featuring previously-unissued music by the band in a limited edition run of 500 copies.

Mad River formed at Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio in 1965 and inspired what was happening in San Francisco moved to Berkeley in early 1967 just in time for the Summer of Love. During their brief time together they released a now highly-sought-after 7” EP and two albums for Capitol Records. The Shagrat release is a substantial addition to their catalogue.

Housed in the same sleeve as the vinyl 12”, the 12” x 12” 36pp, full colour, mini-coffee table book features a 26,000 word history of the band written by Ugly Things journalist David Biasotti, revealing many unknown stories and details about this legendary, Berkeley-based quintet. The book is profusely illustrated with many photos and other memorabilia which have never been seen before, and tells the band’s remarkable history, how they were involved  in the emergent long hair counter culture and the movement against the Vietnam War (then at its height), their relationship with the Diggers and the Hells Angels, the Beat Poets and most interesting of all their friendship and collaboration with the late writer Richard Brautigan.

The band played all the infamous psychedelic ballrooms such as the Avalon, the Fillmore and the Straight Theater, sharing the bill with the likes of Country Joe & the Fish, Phil Ochs, the Vanilla Fudge and Santana, who opened for them on a number of occasions. Both their albums are now rightfully regarded as classics of the era – their eponymous, intense debut album, more prog rock than acid rock,  showcased the songwriting prowess of leader/bassist Lawrence Hammond and the glistening twin guitar attack of David Robinson and Rick Bockner. Their sophomore set  Paradise Bar & Grill was a more relaxed affair and showed the band’s country and folk roots poking through creating the kind of bucolic, rootsy feel that the Grateful Dead would capitalise on a year later on American Beauty.

Acting as a kind of soundtrack to the book, the 12” record contains five cuts that have never been officially released before, including the four numbers the band cut in Dayton Ohio in early 1967 as a demo before they re-located to California. These show that whilst the band was influenced by the likes of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Country Joe & the Fish (whom drummer Greg Dewey eventually joined and played Woodstock with) and their friends the Youngbloods, they were also pretty fully formed before they set off for the West Coast, as the embryonic ‘Windchimes’ included here testifies.

It was former Youngblood Jerry Corbitt who produced the other long-lost gem from ’69, ‘Jersey Sloo’in this set – showing that away from the long flowing psychedelic numbers, the band could also write concise, accessible, two-minute rockers (even if the lyrics were completely whacked out!). Drummer Greg Dewey takes a rare lead vocal on this one, which with its overtly funky bass lines, might be considered a frenetic companion piece to Country Joe & the Fish’s infamous ‘Rock and Soul Music’.

Release Date: 12th December 2011

Copies  may be purchased from:

It took nearly 45 years before Shagrat Records deemed the world ready for these astonishing Mad River recordings. Limited copies of this beautiful 12 inch package, of what is bound to become a future collectable, can be procured by clicking here. The package includes a beautiful 36 page insert with David Biasotti's 26,000 word essay on the band and some rare photographs. British psychedelic artist John Hurford has provided some beautiful artwork for the project and Tony Poole undertook the audio mastering.

Sunday 17 April 2011

Follow Me Down: Vanguard’s Lost Psychedelic Era (1966-1970)

Vanguard’s Follow Me Down was released to co-incide with Record Store Day as a double heavy vinyl page.

Side A 1. The Third Power: Getting Together 2. Erik: You Said/But I’ve Got My Way 3. Listening: Stoned Is 4. The 31st of February: A Nickel’s Worth of Benny’s Help >

Side B 1. Elizabeth: You Should Be More Careful 2. Jeff Monn: I Can Understand Your Problem 3. Listening: See You Again 4. Circus Maximus: Travelin’ Around 5. The Frost: Take My Hand >

Side C 1. Notes From The Underground: Where I’m At 2. The Vagrants: I Can’t Make a Friend 3. Serpent Power: The Endless Tunnel 4. The Family of Apostolic: Saigon Girls >

Side D 1. The Third Power: Persecution 2. Notes From The Underground: Why Did You Put Me On 3. The Hi-Five: Did You Have To Rub It In? 4. The Far Cry: Hellhound 5. The Frost: Big Time Spender >

For completeness, Compilation Producers were Stephen Brower and David Katznelson; Foreword by: Isaac Slusarenko of Jackpot Records in Portland, OR; Liner notes by: Stephen Brower, David Katznelson, Isaac Slusarenko; Mastered by Paul Stubblebine; Art direction and package design by Carrie Smith

The packaging is really pretty nice, until you try and digest the liner notes, but it would have been nice to have taken the opportunity to provide some sort of insert with nifty photographs etc.. The liner notes are reproduced below (as provided in the Vanguard Records press release. They provide a few interesting snippets but are woefully short on detail and clearly little or no research has been done to correct this - look, for example, at the entry for the Notes From The Underground "Little else is known of this Berkeley quintet...". However, the pressings are fine quality and the track selection excellent.

If you can find a copy and have an interest in the subject, scarf it up.

The 31st of February Originally forming in 1965 under the moniker The Bitter Ind – short for Independents, this Florida band had a hard time getting steady work at local clubs until a helping hand from Greg and Duane Allman of the Allman Joys scored them a steady gig at The Beachcomber in 1967. After the end of the engagement, the band moved to Miami, changed their name and recorded their lone album for Vanguard Records. The band disbanded shortly thereafter, and drummer Butch Trucks was invited to join the Allman Brothers as a permanent member. Despite the band’s Jacksonville roots, the track featured here, A NICKEL’S WORTH OF BENNY’S HELP, is oddly reminiscent of the more adventurous sounds that were streaming out of Texas during the same time period – such as The Moving Sidewalks or 13th Floor Elevators, and is propelled by a powerful rhythm track of foot-stomping, echoed drums that transition in and out with soulful keyboards and mutated post-R&B vocals. Not “out there,” but contained within.

Circus Maximus Presented in the center ring of an electric circus. Under a visual “big top” of flowing, multi-colored light…Circus Maximus is the biggest circus. The circus of the mind….Theatered in a tent of imagination… - From the original album notes. Originally signed by Sam Charters as The Lost Sea Dreamers, someone, likely from the label, must have thought the name’s LSD reference too overt and insisted on the change to Circus Maximus. The band recorded two albums for Vanguard, a self-titled 1967 outing and 1968’s follow-up Neverland Revisited. Each album is driven by the dual songwriting contributions of the band’s leaders and co-founders, Bob Bruno and Jerry Jeff Walker, with the band gaining most of its still-modest notoriety from Bruno’s 8- minute epic “Wind,” which became a minor hit on FM radio at the time. It is TRAVELIN’ AROUND, however, the blistering lead track from 1967’s Circus Maximus, that is featured here. The track rides on Gary White’s walking bass line and crescendos with a frenetic, whirling-dervish guitar freakout by Bruno, with the guitarist wailing away on 12-string Rickenbacker instead of his usual Fender Strat, a change that contributes to the solo’s singular sound. After the release of Neverland Revisited, Bruno and Walker apparently disagreed on the band’s direction and parted ways, with the latter releasing his landmark solo debut Driftin’ Way of Life for Vanguard in 1969 and finding great fame as a Texas troubadour in the mid-seventies.

Elizabeth Originally from Philadelphia, Elizabeth recorded their self-titled debut effort for Vanguard in 1968. Much of the album colors well within the lines of non-aggressive, paisley-printed rock, pairing lilting pop arrangements with drummer Hank Ransome’s rock-solid backbeat and Steve Bruno’s wheezing organ. In fact, YOU SHOULD BE MORE CAREFUL, the track featured here, starts out much the same, a straightforward rock song with baroque harmonies. Straightforward, that is, until guitarist Steve Weingart grips the reins and the song quickly transitions into a stewed, wild guitar dirge that rumbles and echoes electrifying intensity only to be grounded once again.

Erik Erik Heller released his only album, 1968’s Look Where I Am, for Vanguard under the nom-de-rock Erik. Much of Heller’s debut record has a soft lit folk-pop bent reminiscent of Donovan or fellow Vanguard artist Eric Andersen. The screaming exception, of course, is YOU SAID/BUT I’VE GOT MY WAY, featured here. This nearly six-minute dirge stands out from the rest by virtue of its simple, heavily distorted guitar riff, which carries the track and serves to mirror the underlying lyrical paranoia. The song ultimately evokes a darker-shade-of-Dylan quality that ambles into Zen-like repetition. This is the sort of soft spoken psyche featured on the early Pebbles garage rock compilation lp’s. A rare treat.

The Family of Apostolic John Townley opened the state-of- the-art Apostolic Studios, complete with a 12-track setup that predated both the Record Plant and Electric Ladyland, in downtown New York in 1967. The studio was an instant success and would play host to such luminaries of the period as the Grateful Dead, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, The Fugs, Kenny Rogers and the First Edition, and countless others. On the heels of the studio’s East Coast success, Apostolic opened a second studio in San Francisco and expanded into management and publishing, in addition to securing a label imprint deal with Vanguard. Releases by Larry Coryell, the Far Cry, and others would bear the Vanguard Apostolic imprint during the period, as would a sprawling, self-titled double album credited to The Family of Apostolic. This record is among the most wildly experimental in the Vanguard catalog, its twenty two tracks roaming freely from baroque pop to mountain folk to baldy shapeless musique concrete and back again. Very much a document of the experimental and collective environment surrounding Townley and Apostolic Studios at the time, the album is an intense and curious experience. Its closing track (and against-all-odds single choice), SAIGON GIRLS, is featured here, itself a two and a half minute burst of loping melody, faux found sound fragments, unhinged howls, and bizarre political theater.

The Far Cry The Far Cry might be considered an accidental Vanguard artist. In fact, the story of Far Cry is paved with unexpected occurrences, chance encounters, and a simple mantra: let it flow, smoke some weed, and play some music. They came from different places: guitarist Paul Lenart grew up playing Yugoslavian music, sax player and botanist Dick Martin cut his teeth blowing in South America while collecting herbs, and David Perry was taught guitar by a then-unknown Carlos Santana. This collective, along with signature vocal howler Jere Whiting, played rock and roll with a crazed free jazz spirit and a complexity that only desert dwellers like Captain Beefheart were brain-baked enough to try in those days. The Far Cry puddled around Boston before heading to South Hampton to take up residence at The Alley. It was there that bass player Sean Hutchinson introduced friend and Apostolic Studio cohort John Kilgore to the band, who proceeded to hook them up with Apostolic heads John Townley and Johnny Weiss. Apostolic was looking to record new bands, and had the aforementioned imprint arrangement with Vanguard. Thus, the quintessential first and only Far Cry record was recorded for Apostolic/Vanguard. Most of the songs on the album had been played no more than a handful of times and are chocked full of seductive, meandering moments…always connecting a groove with blistering guitar work. Things seemed to be going well for a band that never anticipated going anywhere. Soon, two managers approached them, only to later admit that one was an ex-FBI narcotics officer and the other was still in the agency! Yet it was for naught, since after another recording session, the band faded into history with Lenart going on to tour with T-Bone Walker and Big Mama Thornton. The surviving track featured here, HELLHOUND, screams off the grooves of this record, thrusting together the band’s signature vocal howls, guitar attack, and free jazz blowing with reckless abandon.

The Frost Detroit’s The Frost are likely the most well known of the Vanguard bands included on this compilation. Front man Dick Wagner would later find fame as a sideman for, amongst others, Lou Reed, David Bowie, and Alice Cooper, a notoriety which has aided greatly in rock music devotees discovering the Frost’s three Vanguard albums in the years since their release. Borne of the same polyglot Michigan scene that gave rise to such disparate acts as the Stooges, the MC5, Grand Funk Railroad, and Ted Nugent, the Frost’s largely straightforward approach exhibits elements of what made each of those acts famous. The two tracks featured here, TAKE MY HAND from 1969’s Frost Music and BIG TIME SPENDER from 1970’s Through the Eyes of Love, showcase fully the breadth of the band’s ability. “Take My Hand” starts slowly, its marching-band snare drum and rumbling bass line recalling the West Coast haze of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit,” before giving way to harmony-laden vocals reminiscent of the AM radio gold of Grand Funk or the Guess Who. “Big Time Spender,” on the other hand, is a riff heavy, rough hewn burner that wouldn’t sound out of place on an MC5 record of the period. The song’s huge outro and multiple false endings highlight the kind of decadent, apocalyptic sound the Frost could ably achieve.

The Hi-Five The story of the Hi-Five is one of those classic rock and roll tales of a band that was so very close to superstardom, but fell short. They appeared early on in the Greenwich Village scene in the 60s, where they were peers with the Big Three (a pre-Mamas and Papas vehicle for Cass Elliot) and the Au Go Go Singers featuring Stephen Stills. The Hi–Five were regulars at the famous CafĂ© Wah (one of the few clubs that looked kindly on the band featuring girl member Pam Robins), many times appearing on bills that featured comedy (Richard Pryor or Bill Cosby) and headliner Jimmy James and the Blue Flames. Around the same time that Animal Chaz Chandler appeared at the Wah and whisked Jimmy James off to England, birthing the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Beatles manager Brian Epstein walked into the club and signed the Hi-Five to management. Soon after, labels like RCA and Columbia were cutting demos on the band, and their future seemed destined for greatness. But when Epstein died at 32 of a drug overdose, the doors that had been opened were slammed shut. It was then that Vanguard, who had also had been interested in the band, offered them a single deal. “DID YOU HAVE TO RUB IT IN?” a Mamas-and-Papas-esque groover and one of the best titled rock songs of all time, had been the decided a-side but was swapped for “You’ll Never Know What’s In My Heart” while the band was on tour, leaving the former, featured here, as a forgotten gem left for record collectors to discover years later. With the non-event around the single release, the Hi-Five's tenure at Vanguard was over. Bass player Jeff Comanor went on to compose the soundtrack for Midnight Cowboy and write for The 5 th Dimension and Dr. Hook and guitarist Seth Evans performed for the original US cast of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and ended up in San Francisco playing with the Beach Blanket Babylon ensemble.

Listening Originating under the name PPMWW, so-named for band members Peter Ivers, Peter Malick, Michael Tchsudin, Willie Loco Alexander, and Walter Powers (Peter, Peter, Michael, Willie, and Walter), this Boston band was eventually reconfigured to a four piece lineup of Tchsudin, Malick, Powers, and drummer Ernie Kamanis, and re-christened Listening, before recording their lone album for Vanguard in 1968. A signature band of the nascent Bosstown Sound scene of the era, Listening was driven by Tchsudin, who is credited with composing each of the tracks on the self-titled album. On STONED IS, featured here, Tchsudin’s woozy vocals and haunted organ mingle beautifully with Malick’s bluesy, gently psychedelic guitar leads and Powers’ pointed bass line. Conversely, SEE YOU AGAIN, also featured here, is a more immediate and driving track, with Malick’s near-constant soloing competing for space with Powers’ incessant bass acrobatics. Notably, both of these players would find greater renown after Listening disbanded, Powers as a member of Lou Reed’s Velvet Underground, and Malick with The Peter Malick Group, a jazz ensemble that famously featured a young Norah Jones.

Jeff Monn Jeff Monn is most well known in collector’s circles as the front man of New York’s The Third Bardo, whose lone 1967 single “I’m Five Years Ahead of My Time” was included on the landmark Nuggets compilation. Reality, Monn’s only Vanguard album, and the only album recorded under his own name before he pursued a solo career under the name Chris Moon, would follow in 1968. The album is a strange brew of post-Dylan folk ballads, oddly lush production choices by Vanguard founder and album producer Maynard Solomon, and Monn’s pleading, often vulnerable vocal and lyrical stylings. From this record, the brooding I CAN UNDERSTAND YOUR PROBLEM is featured here. Monn’s yearning and increasingly desperate vocal is backed by jangling acoustic guitars, muted horns, a shimmering tambourine, and a forlorn organ laid low in the mix. A heady stew indeed.

Notes from the Underground [From the original album notes: The Notes from the Underground is-are?- a very different kind of rock band. While a lot of people are trying to push rock into a feedback hum of electronic experimentation the Notes are only trying to push rock forward – they’re trying to push it back a little – and off to both sides, too. Rock gets very serious – very serious – but here’s a group that doesn’t take itself all that seriously. They’ve found – in more than two years of a lighthearted Berkeley existence – that rock can be fun. As proof of it they’ve made this record – and a lot of it’s fun too. There is a serious side, but this is mostly a record just to enjoy. Don’t worry about expanding the frontiers of the sensory experience, just lie down on the nearest floor and listen. Who knows – you might laugh at some of it and some of it may turn you on to some new sounds and some new things – and this is an experience in itself. ]

Little else is known of this Berkeley quintet, whose one and only LP was produced by Sam Charters for Vanguard in 1968. The two tracks featured here, WHERE I’M AT and WHY DID YOU PUT ME ON, do indeed feature a decidedly lighthearted distillation of jug, jazz, and rock experimentation. “Where I’m At” is perhaps the more representative of the album as a whole, with Mike O’Connor and Skip Rose’s tossed off, even goofy, lyrics backed by a jug band shuffle, group vocals, and Fred Sokolow’s trilly guitar fills. “Why Did You Put Me On,” by contrast, shows that the band could take on rougher-edged rock, with Rose’s organ and Sokolow’s distorted guitar anchoring the driving track.

Serpent Power [From the original album notes: A poet’s song and music – The serpent power – a form, expression of the poet David Meltzer. It is San Francisco poetry – out of the poetic renaissance – grown into another flowering as San Francisco music – the imagery, the moods of the poems flowing into the imagery of his songs and music…]

California in the mid-sixties. The band was led by beat-poet-turned-proto-hippy David Meltzer and featured two original members of The Grass Roots, Denny Ellis on lead guitar and David Stenson on bass. In 1966, Sam Charters, A&R legend for Vanguard, was turned-on to the band while in Berkeley with his act Country Joe and the Fish. The band released their debut (and only) record for Vanguard in 1967, though David and Tina Meltzer would also release the more explicitly literary Poet Song for Vanguard in 1969. The self-titled Serpent Power showcased the band’s folk sound, but concluded with the 13 minute and 13 second, raga-infused, organ-laden epic THE ENDLESS TUNNEL, which is featured here. The blend of eastern music with the acid-tinged grooves of the day created a signature and influential sound, further driven by Meltzer’s poetry and J P Pickens’ electrified 5-string banjo. Shortly after the Vanguard record was released, vocalist Tina Meltzer left, along with Stensen and Ellis. Serpent Power never recorded as a band again.

The Third Power Hailing from Farmington Hills, MI, outside of Detroit, Third Power was the heaviest, hardest psychedelic band of any Vanguard artist. Despite establishing a solid reputation on the Motor City club circuit, 1970’s Believe would be the band’s lone release. Long a favorite of rarities collectors, the power trio routinely incurs comparisons to Cream, but when hearing their singular sound, it’s readily apparent they were no paisley-wearing pop art dandies, but rather a hard driving, swampy rock band with psychedelic blue smoke coming off their collective engine. GETTING TOGETHER and PERSECUTION, the two tracks from Believe featured here, each showcase the monstrous guitar work of and soulful, aggressive vocal style of front man Drew Abbott. It’s no wonder, then, that Abbott would go on to become a staple member of Bob Seger’s Silver Bullet Band after the demise of Third Power.

The Vagrants Long Island garage pioneers The Vagrants, whose version of Otis Redding’s “Respect” was included on the original Nuggets compilation, have been a source of inspiration for countless bands, most notably the Ramones. I CAN’T MAKE A FRIEND, included here, was one of only two singles the band cut for Vanguard, and was a minor hit for the band in 1966. The track’s propulsive, freewheeling rhythm is bolstered by the screaming guitar of Leslie West, who would later find success as a founding member of the proto-hard rock band Mountain, whose “Mississippi Queen” is a staple of the classic rock canon. The Vagrants recorded output has recently been exhaustively compiled on the Light in the Attic Records release Vagrants - I Can’t Make a Friend 1965-1968, released in January of this year. Finally, from Isaac Slusarenko's Foreword: Charters and Vanguard scouted the cutting edge (and at times the cutting-cutting-edge) of music from the greatest counter-cultural scenes of 1960s America. From the East Village of New York to the Jabberwock crazed-folk of Berkeley and the auto-factory clang and chop of Detroit, Vanguard schizophrenically strove to present to its audience new sounds and new grooves. And while the wildexperimentation of John Fahey’s Requia and the crazed jams of Country Joe are still beloved byaudiences and readily available, those records present only a small part of the story.

Friday 21 January 2011

Banana at Nettlebed February 1, 2011

One time Youngblood Banana will be playing at Nettlebed, which is close to Henley-on-Thames in the Berkshire/Oxfordshire border badlands. The performance will on Tuesday February 1 beginning around 8pm. I am still awaiting confirmation as to whether Tony Poole (of Starry Eyed and Laughing fame) will be able to provide the support - but I remain hopeful. If he can't I will find someone else.

There are only 60 tickets available at £8 each - with any remaining for sale on the night at £10 each. Let me know via if you would like a ticket. I am sure it will be a particularly nifty evening.

As a little background:

Banana began his career in bluegrass on the east coast in Boston with "Banana and the Bunch, Old Time Music with Appeal". After several years in the east coast folk scene, he formed The Youngbloods with Joe Bauer, Jesse Colin Young, and Jerry Corbitt. The band moved from New York City to West Marin in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1967.

Along with co-producing The Youngbloods records with Joe Bauer and many others on his own, he produced the first two High Country albums for Butch Waller in the early 1970's.

He was accompanist to Mimi Farina for over twenty years, played keyboards and sang lead with Zero for over 10 years, played with Norton Buffalo, Steve Kimock and Friends and currently on a fairly regular basis, plays blues with The Michael Barclay Blues Band and old time psychedelic rock with The Barry "The Fish" Melton band. He has done duo performances with David Nelson, Keith Little, David Thom, Paul Knight, and others. And he plays the beloved bluegrass music with friends and neighbors including The Papermill Creek Rounders, David, Tracy and Sam Grisman, The David Thom Band, and the legendary Artie Rose and associates.

Banana regularly visits and performs in the UK and Italy.

After progressing from their schoolboy band The Chymes Tony Poole and Ross McGeeney went on to form an acoustic duo, playing original numbers between covers of songs by Dylan and The Byrds, that would take the name Starry Eyed and Laughing, from a line in Dylan's song "Chimes of Freedom" when they turned electric in 1973. Regulars on the London pub rock circuit, touring the states and sharing a stage with the Flying Burrito Brothers and an appearance at the legendary ZigZag Magazine's fifth anniversary concert at The Roundhouse in April 1974, Starry Eyed and Laughing were on a crest of a wave with their Byrds influenced rock.
After a couple of great Starry Eyed and Laughing albums and the production of Flo and Eddie (The Turtles, Frank Zappa), Tony Poole went into production, including albums by Maddy Prior Steeleye Span, Giles Lewin, The Men They Couldn't Hang and currently Danny, Champ of the World (lead singer of country, soul/rock outfit Grand Drive). He also backed Katie Humble on True to Your Soul and Peter “Omaha Rainbow” O'Brien on his great album Junked Cars & Beat Up Guitars. With Ian Whitmore, Tony also recorded Fallen as The Falcons and Start The Countdown as The Sun with Kinks drummer Nick Trevisick. Playing a solo electric set, Tony is an absolute wonder to see.

Saturday 25 December 2010

Darrow Mosley Band: Desert Rain

Those nice folks at Shagrat Records are delighted to announce the arrival of a 3-track 10" EP by the short-lived Darrow Mosley Band, cut in 1973.

The band was a vehicle for the prodigious talents of Bob Mosley (lead vocals, bass guitar) and Chris Darrow (lead vocals, guitar).

Mosley had been an integral member of Moby Grape, one of the greatest California bands of the late 60s. A quintet comprising five talented musicians who not could play like demons, but were also equally skilled as singers and songwriters - joining Bob, were guitarists Peter Lewis and Skip Spence, Jerry Miller on lead guitar and Don Stevenson on drums. After a superb but sadly over-hyped debut LP that captured better than most the brief psychedelic glory of the Haight Ashbury era (and is now rightly regarded as a classic), they had spectacularly blown apart during the making of their sophomore set WOW, which saw the exit of the visionary Spence. Regrouping in its aftermath as a quartet, they had released the undervalued 69 which saw them mining a more country vein, but following a tour of Europe Mosley quit and in a surprise move briefly joined the US marines!

In 1971 the original members got back together to record the excellent 20 Granite Creek which opened in fine style with Bob's classic, 'Gypsy Wedding' - sadly the reunion was brief with all the old wounds and rivalries soon stymieing any chance of recapturing any former glories and Mose quit again releasing a fine debut solo LP on Reprise.

Darrow had been a founding member of the wildly exotic Kaleidoscope, the hugely talented Claremont-based quintet that subsequently has been recognised as one of the first rock groups to play 'world music' - an outfit that blended many different styles from psychedelic rock, blues and folk with country, Cajun, Turkish and Cab Calloway flavours. Chris played guitar, fiddle, bass and mandolin in a combo of multi-instrumentalists, that also featured the likes of Solomon Feldthouse and David Lindley.

Chris quit Kaleidoscope after their second LP, A Beacon From Mars and joined the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band just in time to appear in the musical Western Paint Your Wagon with Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood. He then formed the Corvettes who backed up Linda Ronstadt. As well as playing in these bands and releasing a series of fine solo albums, Chris had also made a name for himself as a sideman for the likes of Leonard Cohen and John Fahey.

In 1973 both Chris and Bob decided they wanted to be in a band again and their mutual manager Michael O'Connor suggested they form a group together - drawing on the energy and style of vintage Stones and Faces and adding more than a dash of the prevalent SoCal country rock scene to the mix, Bob and Chris were joined by lead guitarist Frank Reckard (subsequently in Emmylou Harris's Band for 14 years), keyboard player Loren Newkirk and drummer Johnny Craviotto (Ry Cooder, Arlo Guthrie, Buffy St Marie) - they cut 3 songs to try and get Warner Bros interested.

Sadly, Warner's passed on the demos and they have lain unheard till now - the A-side, 'Albuquerque rainbow' is a crunchy rocker featuring Darrow on lead vocals and originally debuted on his eponymous second album done for UA. The flipside has Bob Mosley as lead vocalist - a treat for all those who already know what a masterful singer this Norse god can be - first up is a soulful, smouldering version of the Temptations' 'I wish it would rain' that also boasts some dexterous picking from Reckard. the EP closes with a new version of Bob's exquisite 'Beautiful Day' originally done for the Grape's 69 record.

The band split soon after but these recordings are an integral link in the chain that binds Moby Grape with Fine Wine and the Ducks (Neil Young's legendary summer of 77 Santa Cruz bar band) - Darrow would go on to record a series of excellent solo albums and participate in a couple of Kaleidoscope reunions. Bob and John Craviotta would hook up with Jerry Miller for Fine Wine and then form the rhythm section of the aforementioned Ducks.

Packaged in a beautifully mind-blowing sleeve by legendary British psychedelic designer John Hurford (IT, OZ, Dandelion Records etc) complete with insert featuring sleeve notes by Chris Darrow, this EP is an absolute must for fans of Kaleidoscope and Moby Grape everywhere.
Tony Poole (Starry Eyed & Laughing) is now offering the Darrow Mosley Band 10" on his website (with snippets of all 3 songs):