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This review is from: Sco-Mule (Audio CD)
Whoa. Where has this been hiding all these years? An all instrumental set featuring John Scofield on guitar with some good keyboards and the original Mule. The playing is at times intense, and at other times laid back until the band recharges for another incendiary run. The track selection is very good--both Mule and jazz tunes. Both Haynes and Scofield are in great playing shape. But I have to mention the rhythm section--subtle yet powerful when needed--and all the while pushing the music forward while holding everything together rhythmically. And the keyboards add depth and sparkle to the sound. At times the playing sounds completely intuitive--as if this particular band has been together for years. Every tune has some surprises musically and rhythmically. The jamming is awesome without resorting to the grandstanding, "look at me solo" thing. The sound is good, the price is fantastic for two discs with about two hours of great music. But in the end it's about the music--and on that score this band delivers on all points--the jammy interplay has the best parts from both the rock and jazz genres. If instrumental jazz-rock jamming is your thing get this now.

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This review is from: Arise (Audio CD)
This is a power trio reminiscent of Tony Williams Lifetime, and the early stuff from John McLaughlin and Larry Young. I gave this set 4 "stars" because I happen to like those albums with Young and McLaughlin, but there's nothing truly new or startling here. Just some powerhouse playing from the trio of Hammond organ, electric guitar, and drums--so take my rating accordingly.

This fiery combination of drums/guitar/organ has that full-on power trio feel from that period when jazz players were incorporating rock with jazz. The track "Doozy Mugwump Blues" will remind you of McLaughlin and Young--intense stabs of guitar with spacey swirling organ sounds--all of it backed up with some intense drumming. Sounding like a long lost track from that long ago period of jazz-rock, the album is along the same lines--pretty much non-stop power jazz. All the tunes are by the band which helps give them more of an identity, and it's great to hear that someone is still holding the jazz-rock power trio light up for everyone to hear in this day and age.

The sound is very good-clean and spacious--every instrument has it's own space which adds to the sonic "oomph" of this set. There's no liner notes except for recording and band information. The band consists of Roy Powell-Hammond organ (but sometimes with electronically treated sound), Jarle Vespestad-drums, and Jacob Young-electric guitar. If power workouts on long-ish (4-5+ minutes) tunes in the best traditions of Lifetime/McLaughlin/Young still whet your musical appetite, and you can't seem to get enough, check this band out. The powerhouse drumming, the alternately fizzy/fuzzy/piercing guitar work, and the swirling eddies of sound with stabs of sharp notes from the organ--this is unreconstructed power trio jazz-rock like in the old days.

Live 1966
Live 1966
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3.0 out of 5 stars THE STANDELLS RECORDED AT THEIR PEAK., January 28, 2015
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This review is from: Live 1966 (Audio CD)
This well recorded mono set shows another side of The Standells that's looser than any of their other albums. Yeah, this is a short (34 minutes) album, but it's an authentic look at the limited time a band is allowed to play before the headlining act--in this case--The Beach Boys. The disc snaps inside a tri-fold cardboard package with liner notes inside.

Beginning with a fuzzed out guitar version of "Mr. Nobody" (after a typical for the period introduction), the band shows what their garage band sound is like without any studio help. Also here is "Good Lovin'" (The Standells were also a good cover band), "Sunny Afternoon" (The Kinks), "Gloria" (Van Morrison/Them), "Please, Please, Please" (James Brown), and "Midnight Hour" (Wilson Pickett/Steve Cropper), along with some of their most well known songs like "Mr. Nobody", "Dirty Water", "Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White", and "Why Did You Hurt Me".

Standells fans will want this as a good example of how the band sounded on stage, including their corny jokes and punch lines and sound effects (during "Gloria")--all to the delight of the crowd. In this day and age of "sophistication", the comments by the band to the crowd ("someone won a game today") will sound pretty lame. But growing up in that era I can tell you that's what it was like back then, when people didn't take themselves so seriously and music was for fun, and fun to listen and stomp to. This is a good addition to the band's studio albums (including their "Riot On Sunset Strip" stuff) and as a backwards peek at how innocent life was in those days. I was tempted to give this album 4 "stars" (1 for nostalgia) but I reined myself in and just judged the music.

And for a blast of much tougher garage band music from '66, check out "The Shadows of Knight/Live 1966", also on the Sundazed label.

Live 1966
Live 1966
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This review is from: Live 1966 (Audio CD)
This good sounding (in mono) live set is prime Shadows of Knight. These long forgotten tapes show the band to be even tougher sounding than on their two late '60s garage-punk albums. Yeah, some of this is a little sloppy, but the excitement of a live gig really comes through. This 50 minutes set from late in 1966 has finally been reissued with extra tracks and in the original order.

The band was influenced by early Rolling Stones and The Yardbirds rock/blues/r&b, which you can hear as they steamroll their way through some scorching performances. Just listen to "I Got My Mojo Working" and you'll hear everything this band is about--an insistent beat, half shouted vocals, and some fierce '60s style guitar work--a prime garage-punk set that's authentically visceral sounding.

As the notes say, this is "raw 'n' alive, sloppy bordering on brilliant and with all the subtlety of a bulldozer." And for once the notes don't lie. The Shadows of Knight were one of the best bands to come out of the '60s who deserved to become more well known. Their snotty, wise-ass attitude--from the vocals to the guitar work to the pounding beat--is evident from the beginning of this wild set. They had that "something" that other bands could only wish for.

All through this set they play with an abandon and an excitement that few other bands could muster. This is 1960's garage rock 'n' roll steeped in some blues and r&b at it's best. Just listen to their versions of "Hey Joe", and "Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day". Or "Let It Rock". Or their 6+ minutes of "Gloria". Whoa. Fans of '60s garage bands should check this out--it belongs next to the band's two studio albums from the same era.

And for another, slightly different slice of '60s garage rock, check out "The Standells Live On Tour-1966". Not as tough as The Shadows of Knight, but a good example of period live music.

West Coast 1945-1947
West Coast 1945-1947
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This review is from: West Coast 1945-1947 (Audio CD)
"Along with Dizzy Gillespie and Navarro, McGhee represents the top rank of early bop trumpeters."

A very good sounding (67+minutes) of West Coast be-bop jazz from the mid '40s. The first eight tracks are from previously unknown radio broadcasts from the Streets of Paris club in Hollywood, Ca.. The sound is surprisingly very good but if some slight background club patron noise bothers you, you've been warned. Tracks 9-16 are from two recording sessions for Philo and Melodisc. Trracks17-19 are transcriptions (from McCormick General Hospital in Pasadena, Ca. with Gene Norman as MC) from 1947. The band on this album features McGhee, Teddy Edwards, Hampton Hawes, Addison Farmer, Sonny Criss, Roy Porter, and several other lesser known musicians, but not all the musicians play on every tune.

McGhee could play very fast and sharp when called for, but he was also a fine ballad player--listen to "Body And Soul" from 1947. And with Edwards on tenor sax the playing is very fine indeed. The tunes consist of well known songs like Gillespie's "A Night In Tunisia", Hoagy Carmichael's "Rockin' Chair" and "Stardust", Gershwin's "The Man I Love" (two versions), Coleman Hawkins' "Mop Mop", Charlie Parker's "Ornithology", and several from McGhee. Both McGhee and Edwards get in some fine blowing along with whomever is on piano. There's also three vocal sides which are neither here nor there, but are good, solid performances redolent of that long ago era.

This is another fine set of jazz from the Uptown label, continuing in the same vein as their previous releases. Fans of McGhee (like me), post-war West Coast jazz, and/or mid '40s be-bop would do well to pick this set up sooner rather than later. With good period sound, and an informative booklet (with several great photos of the players), this little gem is a good look at what fans were listening to before jazz began it's inevitable change beginning in the 1950's. This great music is from an era that will never be repeated--especially with players and tunes like these--shaped by this period in history.

So sit back and let the radio broadcasts (especially) from early morning in a Hollywood club, and the equally good recording sessions and transcriptions take you back to that long ago era of swinging jazz--West Coast style--when be-bop was still king. This is a nice little gem of good jazz from some fine players. More please.

And if you want to hear more great playing from McGhee, Shelley Manne, Phineas Newborn, Jr. Leroy Vinegar, Ray Brown, Tommy Flanagan, Pepper Adams, Teddy Edwards, and a few others, check out the 2 CD set "Maggie's Back In Town!!", on the Fresh Sound label. The three albums included show just how great a trumpeter McGhee was, along with some very fine playing from all the others.

Pretend You're In A War: The Who & the Sixties
Pretend You're In A War: The Who & the Sixties
by Mark Blake
Edition: Hardcover
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4.0 out of 5 stars "SHOULD WE SURRENDER TO THE TEENAGERS?", January 27, 2015
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"Pretend you're in a war." Pete Townshend on how he prepares for a Who concert.

With all the books about The Who and late '60s rock music/bands/musicians, this book, by Mark Blake, is actually one of the better reads if you want to know what things were like for and around The Who in their formative/early years. Beginning with a Who gig at the Marquee in Soho with Daltrey taking a shotgun away from a gunman bent on revenge, the band then went on to totally destroy their instruments with little regard for the patrons or themselves. And so begins this look at not only The Who, but the Mod period and the sixties era in general.

"The Who won't last that long." Pete Townshend.

From the band's early days as "leaders" of the Mod movement, into the psychedelic years of the '60s, this is a good, interesting look at that whole period. And while other books have covered this period in England, Blake has done extensive research into all things connected with The Who during this period which give his book a distinct leg up on his subjects. Not only the band but their managers are looked at in detail to help tell the story of working class-art school members of the band and their uneasy relationship with both Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp. That the band and their management didn't see eye to eye is well known to fans, but the author has delved deeper into both manager's lives to form a good picture of why neither men got along with the band. That portion of the book is well worth reading because it helps form a much better picture of the relationship between the band and their managers.

"All great art is crap." Kit Lambert.

"I was a horrible little sod." Roger Daltrey.

The early days before the band came together helps set the scene and shines some light on why the band members never seemed to truly come together as a band--they were always prone to fighting amongst themselves. Plus the music just before rock 'n' roll--"trad jazz" and skiffle--is looked at in some depth, with that music helping to lay the foundation for the band's eventual formation. Daltrey (for example) tried (unsuccessfully) to play guitar in an early skiffle band ("Basically he couldn't play."), while 12 year old Pete Townshend began to play the guitar (" a cheap guitar of the kind you'd see hanging on the wall of a Spanish restaurant"), and met John Entwistle. But as Townshend said, "The Who are four people who shouldn't be in a band together". And so it goes.

"The Who didn't really do peace and love." Roger Daltrey.

"I felt as if a bomb had gone off in my head...I had to find something to fill the empty space." Pete Townshend.

The book goes on to describe the songs, the singles, the albums, the concerts, the drugs, the spiritual quests, and the many people in the band's orbit during the "swinging sixties". For anyone who wants a good inside look at The Who and that entire era, he author has done his homework in laying out in an easy to read and digest manner most everything of interest connected to the band during these early and exciting (and arguably best) years of the band's career. There's 16 pages of b&w photos from different periods that help tell the story--many of them rarely seen before. All in all this is well worth adding to your music shelf if you're either/and a fan of The Who/the sixties music scene in Britain.

Swingin On The Korner: Live at Keystone Korner
Swingin On The Korner: Live at Keystone Korner
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
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Red Garland's name (who died in 1984)) isn't often mentioned with Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock, Sonny Clark, Hampton Hawes, Bobby Timmons, Wynton Kelly, or even Kenny Drew, Elmo Hope, Freddie Redd, or John Hicks, and a few others when the subject of jazz piano players comes up. Maybe it's because he was off the scene for several years and/or didn't play an electric piano--staying with the acoustic piano--which was the "thing" for a few years. And while Garland's understated, bluesy, swinging, fairly flexible style never really changed that much, he has over the years recorded some fine music--especially in a trio format. Perhaps best known for his work with Miles Davis (who thought highly of Garland's playing), Stan Getz, and Chet Baker, his albums under his own name sometimes suffered from a "sameness", or just not the right setting for his sound--at least to my ears--to each his own on that subject. But this release is a good example of what I call "pure jazz". This could be one of the definitions of jazz--nothing pretentious or showy--just (in this case) three musicians playing at a high level of musicianship with no grandstanding. Even when Garland, Jones or Vinnegar takes a solo, the music still takes center stage, not the players. A small classic of the genre--or as Nat Hentoff said, "this set of living Red Garland history."

This warm, organic sounding, (and very clean sounding) 2 CD set (taken from soundboard cassette tapes), recorded in 1977 at Keystone Korner in S.F. (now sadly long gone) is from several nights with a trio that included Leroy Vinnegar on bass, and Philly Joe Jones on drums. Both Jones and Garland played with Davis but this is the only time that these three musicians played together--but you wouldn't know it from listening to these performances. Listen to the 12 minutes of "Love For Sale" for a great example of how this trio can swing, or the slower "Never Let Me Go", or "Billy Boy" from Davis's "Milestones". And the long (15+ minutes) of "It's All Right With Me/The Theme" is another standout from this fine trio's Korner gigs.

Since this trio had never previously played together there's a reliance on a lot of standards that we've all heard through the years, but Garland's group gives them a new sparkle. Also here are tunes like "Dear Old Stockholm", "On Green Dolphin Street" (a favorite), "Straight, No Chaser", "Bag's Groove" (another favorite), and others. And all through this set you'll hear not only Garland near the top of his game, but Jones, who embellishes the beat with little flourishes that really add to the rhythm. And the underrated Vinnegar, who gets a chance to step out occasionally with his warm, deep, woody, walking bass style that adds immensely to the trio's sound.

So if you're a fan of jazz piano, sit back and listen to well over 2 hours of some good-to-great jazz played by a trio of master musicians. None of these tracks have ever been released before, so it got me to wondering just what else is there, buried at the Keystone, that's just waiting to see the light of day. Hopefully more recordings like this will be released in the near future. And befitting this music there's a 44 page booklet with in-depth information on Garland (who's never had a biography--which he deserves), from respected music writers like Ira Gitler, Nat Hentoff, the underrated pianist Benny Green, and a short interview on Garland with drummer Kenny Washington among others. There's also an interview about Garland by Don Schlitten from 2014, and a piece from Texas Monthly from 1979. Plus there's a few good period photographs from these gigs over the five days in December of '77. Even in this day of "deluxe" packaging, it's obvious that a lot of thought and care went into presenting this music in the best way possible commensurate with the music itself.

And thinking of a needed biography on Garland, it's too bad that someone with the credentials to do the job right didn't get with Garland for an autobiography. Can you imagine the first-hand stories and observations he would've had on many of jazz's greatest players and jazz in general? It's a shame that many of the genre's best musicians are now gone and everything they witnessed and did, along with them. But at least we now have this fine set of jazz, recorded at one of the best clubs for jazz not only on the West Coast, but in the entire U.S., from a subtle master of bluesy swinging jazz from 35+ years ago. Repeated listening to this set will be rewarded. A fine example of what jazz is.
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Spilt Milk (Deluxe Edition)(2-CD Set)
Spilt Milk (Deluxe Edition)(2-CD Set)
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
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As I wrote for the review of the new 2 CD set of the band's first album, if you're reading this chances are you're a Jellyfish fan, and have been patiently waiting (as I have) for this new edition to be released. The remastered sound is very good--clean and immediate without any signs of compression. The 15 page booklet has an essay on the album with quotes from band members, along with some good period photos of the band. And like the booklet in the 2 CD version of their first album, there's track-by-track quotes by the band from Roger Manning and Andy Sturmer on the original album's songs. The discs snap inside a tri-fold cardboard package that has recording information on an inside panel.

This version of the album contains the original album plus a number of demos of songs plus a few live tracks that have all been around before now on various albums--"The Ghost At Number One", "Nintendo: White Knuckle Scorin'", "Fan Club" (2002), and one tune, from "For The Love Of Harry: Everybody Sings Nilsson". Track 17 on Disc Two (a message to fan club members) was issued only for members of the Jellyfish Army. But having all this music in one nice, neat package is very cool. For fans (like me) of Jellyfish, hearing these demos gives insight into the workings of the band as they finally get to a finished track. And the four live tracks are like having extra frosting on the cake. It still amazes me that the band could closely reproduce their studio sound on the live tracks.

It's too bad that Jellyfish couldn't have made more of an impact on the music world. But recording songs that pay homage to Queen, ELO, Supertramp, The Beatles, etc. when grunge was taking a hold of people's ears was a death knell. Plus internal strife caused the band to break up. But at least fans have these two albums, now remastered and with a lot of extra goodies, to remind them of just how good Jellyfish was--the writing, the arrangements, the vocals, the playing--a band both before and after it's time.
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Bellybutton (Deluxe Edition)(2-CD Set)
Bellybutton (Deluxe Edition)(2-CD Set)
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "JELLYFISH STUCK OUT LIKE A SORE THUMB"., January 20, 2015
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Fans will be familiar with much of this music, so I thought just a short review would suffice. The remastered sound is very good. The 19 page booklet has quotes from band members, plus track-by-track commentary (the original 10 album tracks only) which is very cool and informative. The rest of the live/demo tracks don't really need any explanation. And there's several great period photos of the band posed and on stage. The discs snap inside a cardboard tri-fold package with nice graphics and recording information on one panel. The ten live tracks on Disc One are from around the time of the original album and are from The Roxy in 1990. These tracks were released on "The Scary Go-Round" EP, "Fan Club" (2002), "Baby's Coming Back" from 1991, "I Wanna Stay Home" (1991), and tracks 16-20 at Wembley Stadium, also from "Fan Club" (2002). For newcomers (or those who missed these previously) these are good examples of Jellyfish on stage and add another dimension to the band's studio work.

Disc Two tracks 1,7 originally issued on "New Mistake" (1993) recorded at Andy Sturmer's house. Tracks 2-6, and 8-16 issued on "Fan Club" (2002) from various locales. For Jellyfish fans who don't already have these tracks there's a lot of good music here even if they aren't the finished tunes. Compare the demo tunes with the original album for some insight into the band's approach and sound as they work to the finished song. This new edition plus the similar 2 CD edition of "Spilt Milk" (the original album plus demos--nothing else) contain some great music--studio, live, and demos. If you missed many of these tracks the first time, or waited for remastered sound, or just wanted to hear what you missed, this is a great reissue. Jellyfish was the great lost band of the '90s (when grunge was happening) with their homage to the great '70s/'80s bands/music they heard on the radio--Queen, Supertramp, The Beatles, ELO, and even (as the booklet notes state) The Partridge Family-hmmm, etc. They should've been big (maybe huge) but internal band strife and (then) "popular" music did them in. But with this generous helping of live and demo tracks, along with the original album--all remastered for crisp, clean sound, this set and "Spilt Milk" will satisfy most if not all Jellyfish fans. It's been a long wait for these reissues but the wait has been worth it. Oh yeah, one last thing, turn up the volume slightly and you'll find yourself smiling and bopping along to this great music.
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Snake Box
Snake Box
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
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Harvey Mandel is one of those curiosities in the music world. A man possessed with great talent as a guitarist--who played with John Mayall, The Rolling Stones, The Charlie Musselwhite Blues Band, Canned Heat, Pure Food & Drug Act (his own band), Arthur Lee/Love, plus many solo albums under his own name--and he's still relatively unknown. If you're reading this you're probably familiar with Mandel's albums, so this review is aimed more for those newcomers interested in late '60s/early'70s (primarily) instrumental music from a true unsung master of the guitar.

This box set collects Mandel's first five (good sounding) albums (but there's no mention of remastering), plus a sixth (78 minutes with okay/decent sound) previously unreleased album from a (pretty nice) live jam/gig at The Matrix in the '60s, each album in a cardboard jacket that recreates the original album cover. The graphics for the sixth "jam" album fit in nicely with the other album covers. (Arguably) the only album not included from this period is "Shangrenade" (recorded for another label), which is well worth owning. Mandel was capable of "stretching the slinkys" on his fretboard with an individual style and seemingly apparent ease that many guitarists wish they could copy. His sound incorporated a number of genres including rock, jazz, blues, and combinations of those styles. The six page booklet has an essay on Mandel's career and music with a few quotes from Mandel, plus a complete album/song list of the albums included. The back of the booklet has some period gig posters, but there's no photos except for the cover of the booklet.

He's (again arguably) most well known for his first solo album, "Cristo Redentor" (a tune composed by well known jazz artist Duke Pearson--hear his fine work on the Blue Note label), which had several styles of music that blended into a very pleasing whole. I still remember hearing his first solo album in Menlo Park (just north of Palo Alto) when I was a college student just before it was released. I was in one of my favorite record stores and someone put this on the turntable--whoa!. In the present time it's impossible to imagine what music like this sounded like back then--the impact it had on people--on first hearing that wonderfully arranged and beautiful composition. And then hearing the next track, "Before Six", with it's funky horns and cool guitar from Mandel--wow. This album was something truly unique and beautiful and expanded people's idea of what music could be. One listen to the wordless vocal on the title track will tell you all you need to know.

But the album (and all Mandel's subsequent albums here) had other goodies that were different and exciting to hear--again, this was at a time when music was pushing it's boundaries similar to just about everything else during the '60s. Mandel continued to release solo albums that his small following (including me) gobbled up eagerly. Why he never became a household name player is a real mystery to me. But with this great box set of most of his finest work, newcomers (or those missing a few of these individual albums) who are hearing Mandel's fine guitar playing for the first time now have much of his best music in one nice, neat box. Plus the previously unreleased jam from The Matrix with both Elvin Bishop and Jerry Garcia is a different look at Mandel on stage from an important period in music If you're into guitar played by a master musician don't miss this collection. Now, if only Mandel's band Pure Food & Drug Act album (with Sugar Cane Harris on violin) would be reissued, along with some of the several live sets that have been recorded from the same era-that would be something.

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