Fanatic5 - Family Passions
Album Reviews
Fanatic5 - Family Passions
Eastern Pennsylvania Railroads
Western Pennsylvania Railroads
Southern Railroads
Buffalo Rochester & Pittsburgh Railway
Baltimore & Ohio Railroad / Western Maryland Railway
Dedicated to My Grandfather (NYC)
Lehigh Valley Railroad
Railroad Definitions & Terms
Baseball Ballparks & Memorabilia
Athletic Leagues, College, High School
Rock Music History, Groups, Albums
Music, FM Radio and the 1960's
Jam Bands & the Fillmores
Jazz Fusion
Album Reviews
Brewery History
Former Breweries (New York & Pennsylvania)
Beer Types & Definitions
Collectibles, Travel & Other Interests
Favorite Movies
Favorite Television Shows
Family Memories
In My Father's Memory

Renaissance
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Prologue (1972)

The history of "Renaissance" begins in 1969 after the breakup of the Yardbirds. Drummer Jim McCarty and vocalist Keith Relf were united with pianist John Hawken, bassist Louis Cennamo and Keith's sister, vocalist Jane Relf. They released the band's debut LP in 1969, produced by ex-Yardbird member Paul Samwell-Smith.
 
By the third album Prologue in 1972, the classic Renaissance lineup of Jon Camp, John Tout, Terence Sullivan and the matchless voice of Annie Haslam was in place. The role of Michael Dunford (working closely with Betty Thatcher) on the album was strictly songwriting. The guitar spot (which Dunford would later fill) was handled by the soon-departed Rob Hendry.
 
Although Prologue was a total change from the previous two Renaissance albums in terms of personnel, the spirit of the first two LP's would remain. The album is comprised of beautiful tunes led by Annie's powerful voice, merged seamlessly with classical piano and intricate instrumental sections.
 
"Sounds Of The Sea" is slow, stately, majestic and gorgeous (listen to the way Annie sings the word "me" at the end of each verse). "Spare Some Love" has probably the most complex vocal melody on the album, as Annie's vocals spin and twist in an incredible manner, while giving the lyrics an air of gravity and Godliness. Where these two songs highlight her range and techniques, "Bound For Infinity" highlights her power and timbre. A truly fascinating experience...
 

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Renaissance LP's

And in the morning of my time
I'll try to understand
I learn by what I find
And love you if I can

We don't need to know the answers
To hope and pray for peace
And each by what he can
To make us all complete...

Things I Don't Understand (Dunford/McCarty)

 

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Annie Haslam & John Tout (1975)

 
The mainstream Renaissance lineup is most remembered for their rich symphonic textures, stunning vocals and profound lyrics, releasing seven studio albums between 1972 and 1979. Their style mixed classical progressions with poetry, blending elements of rock, jazz and folk with hauntingly, beautiful themes.
 
The group's true artistic style and crowning achievement was revealed in 1974 with Turn of the Cards and in 1975 with Scheherazade and Other Stories.
 
 

Little Feat
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Feats Don't Fail Me Now (1974)

The music of Little Feat is a collection of rock, blues, folk, soul, rockabilly, country and jazz. Little Feat’s free wheeling fusion of California rock and a Dixie "funk boogie" creates a unique style unmistakably their own.

Formed by Lowell George and Roy Estrada (formerly of the Mothers of Invention) in Los Angeles during 1969, they were joined by drummer Richie Hayward and Billy Payne on keyboards.

Their first two albums, Little Feat (1971) and Sailin' Shoes (1972), issued on Warner Brothers Records, received good reviews and spawned an FM classic in George's song "Willin." However, poor commercial success led to Estrada leaving and the band splitting up. In 1972, Little Feat would reform with bassist Kenny Gradney (replacing Estrada) and also adding a second guitarist Paul Barrere and percussionist Sam Clayton. This changed lineup radically altered the Little Feat sound and brought new songwriting capabilities to the band. The group recorded Dixie Chicken (1973) and the band's most popular album Feats Don't Fail Me Now (1974), which was an attempt to capture the energy of their various live shows.

The release of The Last Record Album (1975) signalled another change in the Little Feat sound, with Barrere and Payne developing their interest in jazz-rock, which was further developed in Time loves a Hero (1977). Although Lowell George continued to produce the albums, his songwriting contributions were reduced as the group moved further into jazz-rock territory. In August 1977, Little Feat recorded a live album entitled Waiting for Columbus considered by many rock music critics to be one of the best live albums (released 1978) of the decade. By this time, it was apparent that Lowell George's interest in Little Feat was diminishing (as was his health). George did some work on what eventually would become the next Little Feat album Down on the Farm (1979), but then recorded a solo album and declared that Little Feat had disbanded. During a tour of his album Thanks, I'll Eat it Here in June of 1979, Lowell George passed away.

The remaining members finished and released the LP Down on the Farm before disbanding. However, after a long break, the group reformed once again in 1988 releasing Let it Roll as their comeback album. The band is still touring and recording new music.

Lowell George
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New York (1977)

Lowell George (with Paul & Kenny)
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New York (1977)

 
 
 
So you do what you want,
And pretend again that it's time to roam 'cause you can't go home,
Maybe you'll find your way today,
But while you're at it you'll have some fun,
And through tears of laughter,
You know it's nothing until you find someone,
You wouldn't miss it,
You don't care if it's day or night,
Day or night...
 
Bill Payne (1975)

The James Gang
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Yer' Album (1969)

The debut record from The James Gang Yer' Album (1969), featuring Jim Fox (drums), Tom Kriss (bass) and Joe Walsh (guitar) was one of the finest debut records by an American group at the time, but was nothing compared to what the power trio sounded like in concert.
 
Yer' Album produced by ABC Records and Bill Szymczyk, was a Walsh showcase, yet, like so many albums at the time, it had a loose, communal feel to the sound. The album was "state-of-the-art" for its time and still sounds great today.
 
 
Part of its appeal was that the band had more to offer than just heavy jamming. The record starts with a string and acoustic guitar arrangement "Introduction" before breaking into Walsh’s beautiful "Take A Look Around."
 
Songs such as "Bluebird" (Buffalo Springfield) and "Lost Woman" (The Yardbirds) became a showcase for Walsh’s talents. The album closes with a twelve minute version of "Stop" which was another showpiece allowing Walsh to stretch out and build more of the tight "R&B" inspired patterns that are his trademark sound. At one concert while opening for The Who, the James Gang (and Walsh) impressed Peter Townshend so much, that Townshend raved about Joe Walsh for weeks.

Sea Train
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Sea Train (1969)

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I purchased the original Sea Train album on A&M Records (SP 4171) in 1969. This album was the next step by the group previously performing under the revamped "Blues Project" name and their "Planned Obsolescence" album of 1968. The Blues Project made serious changes after Al Kooper, Danny Kalb and Steve Katz left for other musical interests.
 
This original Sea Train album had some marvelous, haunting melodies, including two great instrumentals, "Pudding Street" and "Sweet Creeks Suite" (both Andy Kulberg tunes). Two other songs, "As I Lay Losing" and "Outwear the Hills," both surfaced on future albums. The band consisting of John Gregory (guitar, vocals), Donald Kretmar (sax, bass), Richard Greene (violin), Roy Blumenfeld (drums), Andy Kulberg (flute, bass) and Jim Roberts (lyrics) created a fascinating montage of country, rock, jazz and classical compositions.
 
The difference between Sea Train and other American bands were their lyrics. The group had a dedicated lyricist, Jim Roberts, whose words were more poetic than most bands of this era, focusing on personal experience and frail romance.
 
After another shake-up of band members, the new and improved SeaTrain (1970) emerged on Capitol Records. This was the album which gained moderate success for the band, including the finest version of the "Orange Blossom Special" issued! The band issued another two albums Marblehead Messenger (1971) and Watch (1973) before calling it quits.
 
Thirty plus years later, the original Sea Train LP ranks high in my collection. I had the opportunity a few years back to speak with Andy Kulberg, prior to his passing. I asked Andy if the guys ever thought of getting together for a reunion album. He told me everybody was off doing their own thing and truthfully, not enough fans were around to warrant a reunion. Andy also presented me with a hand written (never before released) music sheet for "Flute Thing" (since he was impressed with my daughter's interest in the song, while also playing the flute).
 
So sit back and let your ears wander through the beauty of this album and wish that it would go on "forever more" as the record loops at the end... 
 
.....at the seventh dawn, of the sixth sun, during fifth moon, for the fouth time.....
 
 

Spirit
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Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus (1970)

Spirit's fourth album Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus (1970) is a classic of the progressive rock era. A concept album that blends peace and love into an overall nature theme, all washed with tones of jazz, blues, and classical music. The album opens gently with Randy California on acoustic guitar, singing softly on "Prelude" with the inspiring lyrics "You have the world at your fingertips, no one can make it better than you..." However, this quickly bursts into the full-bodied "Nothing to Hide" with fat chords, sardonic lyrics and a driving sound that sets the tone for most of the album. The next song is "Nature's Way" which is a beautiful, haunting warning to humanity that Mother Nature has a way of telling man how to correct his mistakes (if only someone would listen).
 
 
"Animal Zoo" is a quirky, up-tempo song that you can't help but sing along. "Mr. Skin" is another up-tempo tune that received a fair amount of FM airtime in its day. My favorite song on the album is "Love Has Found a Way" which utilizes some excellent reverse taping to create a spooky, yet, progressive sound.
 
Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus is excellent throughout and is considered by many Spirit fans to be their best work. This is a classic "psychedelic" era album, advanced for its time and as fresh sounding today as the day it hit the record stores. The "remastered" CD version of the album, featuring unreleased new material, has rekindled interest in this unorthodox and innovative band.
 
 

Savoy Brown
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Street Corner Talking (1971)

 
This is another classic album of the early 1970's that is overlooked by today's progressive rock stations. Savoy Brown's Street Corner Talking is simply outstanding from beginning to end. The album's first track and most popular song "Tell Mama" is an anthem for drifters and losers. The band's version of "I Can't Get Next To You" is deep and powerful (turn up the volume and experience Paul Raymond's Hammond organ). "All I Can Do Is Cry" has been a concert staple for many years and features great guitar/keyboard interplay between Kim and Paul. "Time Does Tell" has enticing lyrics, plus more great guitar riffs from Kim Simmonds.
 

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Savoy Brown Concert

 
 
We have come a long way
From our 1st street hello
Spend our time looking for
The key to the door
My mind is made up
I know where I'm headed to
When your days are over
The world is through with you...
 
Kim Simmonds (1971)
 
 
 
Met Kim at this 2006 concert in Rochester (NY).....
 

 

It's a Beautiful Day
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It's a Beautiful Day (1969)

The debut LP from "It's a Beautiful Day" (issued by Columbia in 1969), was a startling amalgam of folk and psychedelia, driven by David LaFlamme's electrified five-string violin playing, Hal Wagenet's guitar, David's wife Linda who provided sterling keyboard work and the magnificent vocals of Pattie Santos. "White Bird" the first track, established itself as an FM-underground radio staple. Other tracks received some airplay, notably "Wasted Union Blues" and the atmospheric instrumental "Bombay Calling." The haunting "Hot Summer Day" which mixes vocals by David LaFlamme and Pattie Santos, is one of my all time favorites.
 
 

The Flock
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The Flock (1969)

 
Their first album The Flock released in 1969, focuses on classical violinist Jerry Goodman and the group's horn section. One of four bands heavily marketed by Columbia Records in 1969 (the others were Chicago Transit Authority, Illinois Speed Press & Aorta), the group shifted styles within songs to create a melting pot, varying between rock, jazz, classical and blues. A progressive rock band with sounds somewhere between Seatrain and Chicago. Goodman left after their second LP, with the group disbanding in 1971.

Jefferson Airplane
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Crown of Creation (1968)

Jefferson Airplane's 1968 release Crown of Creation is a rich collection of songs highlighting the different talents of the main songwriters. Among the various memorable moments are Grace Slick's beautiful vocal on "Lather," the band's sensitive cover version of David Crosby's "Triad" and Jorma Kaukonen's stunning wah-wah solo on "If You Feel." Add to this the intense lyrics of "In Time" and "Greasy Heart," Marty Balin and Paul Kantner's consistently strong vocals and Jack Casady's remarkable dexterity on bass. The album is a true masterpiece!

Chicago Transit Authority
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Chicago Transit Authority (1969)

Chicago Transit Authority, an innovative "jam-band" featuring the sensational guitar work of Terry Kath, released this imposing "double-LP" debut on Columbia Records during the spring of 1969. The album opens with Terry's composition "Introduction" followed by a blistering "Poem 58" and the instrumental session "Liberation." The group coupled "horns" with a progressive sound, never again achieved on their subsequent "bubble-gum" releases.

Caravan
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In the Land of Grey and Pink (1971)

Along with Camel and Soft Machine, Caravan was a pioneering band known as the "Canterbury Sound" consisting of original styles of jazz, rock and classical English influences. In the Land of Grey and Pink was a harmonious mélange of northern English rock complexities, considered by many as one of the greatest progressive rock albums. Richard Sinclair's contribution of "Winter Wine" is a standout, along with David Sinclair's masterful 23 minute excursion "Nine Feet Underground."

Blues Image
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Open (1970)

There are many bands comprised of excellent musicians, but few will attain a high level of creativity or musical prowess. The Blues Image out of Florida approached this legendary status. Their second (and final) release Open is jam-packed with several "tight" blues and jazz compositions, filled with strong riffs in a heavy rock format. Listen to the bass, percussion and keyboard interplay with Mike Pinera's guitar on "Clean Love" and "Take Me" from this short lived, seminal group.

 
 
As I lay losing the years I had grown,
Down beneath the shower of each stone I'd thrown,
In the mist stood someone I had known.
I saw the mist of one I might have known.

Jim Roberts (1969)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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