Saturday, August 6, 2016

A Note

I noticed that 108 viewers came by the other day.

Thanks for showing up folks.  For the most part I have discontinued to write blogs about bands here and have basically been putting them on my main site R S Crabb Presents Record World.   I doubt if any new entries will be forthcoming but the archives will still remain available for those looking for something other to read about forgotten bands.   I do check regularly for any comments and providing some tidying up around the site.  But the main postings will be found at this link:

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Fred Neil

Given to the footnotes of his music career, Fred Neil really did things his way.  He basically a folk singer from the start but if you listen deep into his songs you can actually hear what he was thinking about.  He didn't care much for the New York lifestyle and even on his signature song Everybody's Talkin  he'd rather be sailing down in Florida, something that he would eventually do and pretty much silenced his career.

Fred only released four proper albums.  Tear Down The Walls with Vince Martin, Bleecker And MacDougal, Fred Neil aka Everybody's Talking and Sessions.  TDTW is mostly Martin but when Neils takes over on side 2 things begin to come together.

Bleecker And MacDougal is considered his overall best album, with the original version of The Other Side Of This Life and Little Bit Of Rain as highlights.  Somehow Capitol Records decided to sign him up and Fred Neil, despite Everybody's Talking showing Neil doing things his way.  Adding electric guitar and drums did bring some rock elements into the mix but it's still a mostly folk album. There's a ragged feel even to the hits of The Dolphins, and Talkin', these two songs enabled Neil to live a comfortable life from here on out. The jazzy feel of Green Rocky Road, the blues of Sweet Cocaine and Neil's views of New York life that he was beginning to tire (That's The Bag I'm In) and the 8 minute jam that follows Green Rocky Road, showed that he ran out of songs and rather jam a while.  One or two proper songs and Fred Neil would be a better known classic. 

Even then Neil was set in his ways and on Sessions you can hear his producer Nick Venet getting a bit frustrated on the two long songs that close out side 2.  Sessions sounds like the songs were done in one take, for better or for worse.  At best Neil does one of the slowest and coolest versions of Please Send Me Somebody To Love, but on the other hand, Look Over Yonder and Merry Go Round simply are just boring, when Neil shouts out a line, he's basically trying to wake himself up.  The problem with one take songs is that if they go over 7 minutes they lose the listeners soon after.   The half live, half studio The Other Side Of This Life concludes Neil's music career, doing things his own way, even telling Howard Solomon to shut up after Roll On Rosie before going into The Dolphins.   Interesting cameos by Les McCann (Come Back Baby) and Gram Parsons (Ya Don't Miss Your Water) but overall an uneven album.  Collector's Choice Music issued all of the Capitol albums plus some unreleased material as The Many Sides Of Fred Neil, basically all of his Capitol sessions plus an 45 with The Nashville Street Singers.

There isn't many best ofs out there.  Rev Ola took a shot of his recordings and so did Raven but the one label of interest Fallout, compiled some of his late 50s and early 60s attempt at rockabilly with Trav'lin Man, which featured his 6 singles recorded for various labels (Epic, ABC Paramount, Look, Brunswick). There's a connection between Jack Scott and Buddy Holly, especially on the Brunswick sides. The teenie bopper of You Don't Have To Be A Baby To Cry and Rainbow And A Rose reveals a side of Neil we would rarely see (and with good reason) but Four Chaplains is the song that reveal Neil's going more of a folk direction despite pedestrian vocal arrangements.  These collection of singles have been reissued on various other labels and different names (Passion, Funny Secrets).  If you're looking for the folk side of Fred, this is not the one to go to, but if you're into hearing Fred trying to be the next Buddy or Jack, it's worth a listen but not something you'd play on a regular basis.

Neil dropped out to live his life on saving the dolphins down in Coconut Grove Florida and would not record anything new.  There have been rumors of a couple live recordings that Columbia Records sat on and Neil would only come out for very rare hometown appearances, and Neil would pass away from skin cancer in 2001.   But even for a folk singer Neil did things his way and if the record label didn't like it, so be it.   The best overview is Do You Ever Think Of Me, which Rev Ola/Cherry Red does pick Neil's best known and loved songs. And Bleecker And MacDougal and Fred Neil are the best studio albums.  As long as radio keeps playing Everybody's Talking, by Nilsson, the memory of Fred Neil will be kept alive.  He may have a disdain for record labels and producers but he did process one of the most recognizable bass vocals in music history.  And he was a fine songwriter.

The Albums:

Trav'lin Man-The Early Singles  (Fallout 2008) B 
Tear Down The Walls (Elektra/Collectors Choice 1964) B-
Bleecker And MacDougal (Elektra/Collectors Choice 1965) B+
Fred Neil aka Everybody's Talkin (Capitol 1967) B+
Sessions (Capitol 1968) C+
The Other Side To This Life (Capitol 1969) B-
The Many Sides Of Fred Neil (Collectors Choice 1998) B+
Do You Ever Think Of Me-Best Of (Rev-Ola 2003) A-
Echoes Of My Mind (Raven 2005) B+

The Sky Is Falling, I think is Rev-Ola's version of The Other Side To This Life, therefore I didn't include it in the discography.

In 2006 Water Records did issue the Capitol albums as stand alone albums.
Funny Secrets (Mocking Bird 2012)  and Passion (Ludoxx 2012)  is the same album as Trav'lin Man. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Tim Buckley

Tim Buckley is considered to be one of the best vocalists that came out of the late 60s.  And perhaps one of the more erratic artists that I most certainly ever came across.  While his early albums are folk rock, Buckley wasn't that concerned or interested to continue to hit the folk trail.  And in the meantime pissing off fans by following his own muse,be it folk, or oddball avant garde vocal exercises, as if his testicles were being tied up in knots.   But after the extremism that was Lorca, turning into Star Sailor and later the final three albums Buckley got into funky porn soul as exhibited via his 1972 Greetings From LA.   While All Music tends to short change Sefronia and his final album Look At The Fool,  I tend to favor Sefronia over Greetings or Look At The Fool, to which the latter album Buckley seemed to be out of his league with the choices of his songs or the band that did those songs.   The way it was going, had Buckley not O Ded on Heroin, he might have gone disco and in a bad way.

It's easier for me to say that his folk rock albums are his best, the Bizarre/Straight albums his most notorious and the DiscReet trio a strange foray into blue eyed soul with an eye on porno for lyrical inspiration.  The first album Tim Buckley is straight forward folk rock, but Buckley throws a lot of his vocals into the songs such as Are You The Girl or Song For Jainie.  Song Slowly Song does shows a hint into the future, with sparse guitar work and Buckley moaning away.  Goodbye And Hello the followup begins Buckley turning away from the folk and getting into more abstract blues and even jazz with I Never Asked To Be Your Mountain  or Pleasant Street.   Happy/Sad, the third album is another wild ride but still listener friendly even though the songs are getting longer.

Buckley's final Elektra offerning Lorca, is his version of Metal Machine Music, a wild five song album with the title track showing off the torturous vocal, as if Buckley's skin was being peeled right off him.   The record is not for everybody, although side 2 has the more memorable I Had  A Talk With My Woman and to a lesser extend Nobody Walkin'.

Between the blurred avant garde jazz whatever you call it, the Bizarre Straight albums (out of print since Herb Cohen and Rhino and Warner Brothers had a big disagreement) are what people considered his classic period.  I disagree. Certainly there are shining moments on Blue Afternoon, and Bunk Gardner of The Mothers Of Invention fame helps Star Sailor and Song To The Siren the best song of the album.  What stood out was the crabby reviewer Robert Christgau giving Star Sailor a C- and thinking Buckley was doing Nico imitations and not Odetta, to which she was the inspiration to his vocals.   Star Sailor is a bit more worthy than a C minus, maybe a solid B and an A for effort. But in the long run, it's seems to me to be a bit of a novelty than classic.  Alas, the problem stems from Herb Cohen falling out of favor with Frank Zappa and after a 1989 reissue via Enigma/Retro both Star Sailor and Blue Afternoon are long deleted, hard to find and collectors scour the country for used copies. 4 Men With Beards issued both albums on LP, and perhaps one day Warner Brothers will finally get come to terms to both the Zappa and Cohen estates to get both records reissued once again.  Blue Afternoon to me is the better album but that's a matter of opinion.

While the Bizarre Straight albums are out of print, the DiscReet records are still available, somehow Herb Cohen kept those masters at hand and with Jerry Goldstein behind the production board,  Greetings From L.A. was when Buckley decided to quit the fusion acoustic light jazz and go for a more funkier sound.  My opinion about Greetings is mixed, at times the grubby porn funk of Move With Me or Get On Top would have perfect for those XXX movies of that time.  Buckley does sound inspired most through the album.  Sefronia, released a year later is commendable with cover versions of Tom Wait's Martha and Fred Neil's The Dolphins and Buckley does a nice Fred Neil soundalike.  And I Know I'd Recognize Your Face is a rather pleasant blue eyed soul number complete with a female counterpoint.  The title track Sefronia does return to the days of Goodbye And Hello the song itself.  Buckley doesn't give up on the funky stuff, Honey Man and Quicksand could have fit in on Greetings From LA.  Tim kinda cools it on the theatrics but just in case you forgot, he does soar on his vocal on Honey Man and Sally Go Round The Roses.   As for Look At The Fool, it sounds like Buckley is on auto pilot and most of the songs are not memorable.  It does get points for Chuck Rainey and Earl Palmer on bass and drums.  Not a total wasted effort.

Since Buckley's passing in 1975, Elektra Rhino has put out two overviews.  One of them Morning Glory is a 2 CD overview of his recordings and even the Bizarre/Straight/DiscReet albums do have highlights. Disc 1 covers the first three albums plus some unreleased live performances, the folk rock years and Disc 2 is the Straight/DiscReet Lorca era.   However the single disc Best Of Tim Buckley effectively distills most of his best song in a easier to take single disc but still totaling 79 minutes.  Or all the Tim Buckley you need if you only need one good overview.   The first album and Goodbye And Hello are worthy, the rest you're better off to sample via You Tube or song samples Lorca and Star Sailor will try your patience.  As well as Look At The Fool or Greetings From L.A.  Nevertheless, Tim Buckley was that rarity, a person that followed his own vision of music.  The man could flat out sing.  And sometimes scream as well.

Albums: (Incomplete)

Tim Buckley (Elektra 1967) A-
Goodbye And Hello (Elektra 1967) A-
Happy/Sad (Elektra 1968) B+
Blue Afternoon (Straight 1969) B+
Lorca (Elektra 1969) C-
Star Sailor (Straight 1970) C+
Greetings From L.A. (DiscReet/WB 1972) B
Sefronia (DiscReet 1973) B+
Look At The Fool (DiscReet 1974) B-
The Best Of Tim Buckley (Elektra/Rhino 2006) B+
The Dream Belongs To Me (Manifesto 2012) B

Notes: While Blue Afternoon has been out print, Rhino Germany has included it in a box set called Original Album Classics, to which the first five albums are included.  Very odd considering that Blue Afternoon is on Straight/Bizarre. It's probably cheaper to buy the box set then.  However I did find a CD copy of Blue Afternoon and it's kinda of a return to the sound that made Goodbye And Hello a classic album, The Train, does suggest the one take vocal gymnastics that Buckley would attempt on Lorca and Star Sailor.   The Dream Belongs To Me captures two distinct periods in Buckley's history, one side is from the folk years, while side 2 is from the funk experiments of the early 70s. The 1973 live showing is somewhat disappointing, it sounds like some of the songs were thought up on the spot.   Star Sailor and Blue Afternoon can be found at a cheaper price if you like MP3s, the LPs vary in sound. But if you want a stand alone CD of these two albums, better take out a second mortgage since EBAY or Amazon used copies are over 20 dollars.  Good luck trying to find one at your local record store, you're going to need it.