Monday, December 5, 2011

"Gandalf" - Gandalf

Originally called The Rahgoos, Gandalf was signed to Capitol Records in 1967 and had one release.  The album, only 31 minutes in length, offers a promising psychedelic mix of dreamy, reverbed guitars, astral sitars and forlorn lyrics.  Although the band does not delve into Hobitt-filled world of Tolkien (despite the kitschy name), the lyrical subjects float from advice from gypsies to a Richard Halpert-esque questioning of one's search for the soul.

Unfortunately, Gandalf disbanded very shortly after completion of their only album.  Capitol Records shelved the album, only forced to release it due to a deal with the producers.  The album was not promoted, as Capitol no longer had any motivation without a band to send on tour or create any follow up releases.  

Sundazed Records picked up the album and re-released it in 2002, prompting a new generation of fans.  

Sunday, October 2, 2011

"Arthur Verocai" - Arthur Verocai

Released in 1972, Arthur Verocai's self-titled album was a slight to the Brazilian government.  The military dictatorship at the time sought to end the bad influence they saw from musical artists on impressionable youth. Verocai used subtle language, dripped in metaphors, to slip below the government's censorship radar.  He also used non-conventional music producers and created a sound of music that was unheard of at the time.  

Verocai was no stranger to the Brazilian music scene, he was already a well-known name for his producing and arranging work with other Brazilian artists such as Ivan Lins.  After the release and minimal popularity of his own creation, Verocai slipped back into his role behind the recording gears.  In 2002, he released another album, this time showcasing his talents as a musical composer.

In 2009, rapper Ludacris sampled Verocai's song, "Na Boca do Sol" in his song "Do The Right Thing."  The sampling helped grow a new found interest in Verocai's work.  

In the past few years, Verocai has reached out to his fans via social media, sparking rumors that he may be planning to delve once again into the music world as a performer.  One can only hope...

Download file has been removed per request, however, the album can be purchased here.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

"Adventures In Stereo (Blue Album)" - Adventures In Stereo

Fans of Spirea X may recognize the sights and sounds of Adventures in Stereo.  Former members, Jim Beattie (Primal Scream) and Judith Boyle, formed Adventures in Stereo shortly after the downfall of Spirea X in 1993, alongside Bobbie Gillespie and Simon Dine.  Dine's name was familiar to fans of Spirea X as he had managed and co-produced their later work.  

The band used samples and loops on one of their self-titled albums (referring here to the commonly known Blue Album) to create a wide soundscape that fans from early 1960's rock 'n roll beginnings... the sugary female pop classics that weighed heavy in the mid to late 1990's:

Although the sweet pop sounds were found schmaltzy by many Primal Scream and Spirea X fans, Adventures in Stereo found a new fan base among a new generation of Lisa Loeb glasses-wearing, Phil Spector-worshipping hipsters of the 1990's.  

A very limited number of copies of The Blue Album (as well as their other self-titled, The Yellow Album) were released.  This has shown to be a detriment to the band as a cult following has emerged in the years since their demise.  If you come across a vinyl copy of either, do yourself a favor and pick it up immediately.  

Thursday, June 9, 2011

"One Man Band" - Abner Jay

Born in Fitzgerald, GA, Abner Jay was the son and grandson of slaves.  As a sharecropper, Abner worked from the time he could walk but did not receive his first pay until after his 21st birthday.  Abner picked up the six-string banjo at a young age at his grandfather's insistence.  When he was 25, Abner fought in WWII before touring with vaudeville and minstrel shows.  He soon left to pursue his solo endeavors. 

"I'm So Depressed" - Abner Jay

Throughout his career, Abner played with notable musicians such as Otis Redding, Muddy Waters, James Brown and Little Richard.  He recorded and distributed all of his own material on his self-made record label, Brandie Records, named after his daughter.  Abner Jay has been referred to as the "black Bob Dylan" by music critics and an "American master" by philosophers.  

"Vietnam" - Abner Jay

He married 7 women throughout his life and fathered 16 children.  He was manager to Sister Rosetta Tharpe, played at the Apollo and is said to have been a pimp at one point in the 1960s.  At the end of his life and career, Abner Jay spent several years touring the South in a mobile home that converted into a portable stage, including PA systems and home furnishings.  He died in 1993 just a few days after playing the 1993 Grassroots Festival in Trumansburg, New York.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

"Idaho Transfer" - Dorian Gray

Not to be confused with the Croatian band of the same name, Dorian Gray was an amateur German band who only released one album in 1976.  Not much is known about the band, but it doesn't take away from the genius of the album; a combination of catchy guitar riffs, downplayed synth lines, grooving bass and winsome sugary female vocals.

(alternative hand-sprayed cover)

Friday, May 13, 2011

"Paradieswärts Düül" - Amon Düül
"Meetings with Men Machines" - Amon Düül III


Amon Düül was spawned from the German art collective of the same name in the 1960s.  The commune also conceived the band Amon Düül II.  Members from each reunited in the early 1980s under the name Amon Düül, however, fans have often referred to them as Amon Düül III or Amon Düül (UK) to avoid any confusion.  The free-form psychedelic jazz matches the tenacity and heart of other psychedelic bands such as Os Mutantes.  

"Paramechanical World" - Amon Düül

The sound on Paradieswärts Düül is a bit more folk-influenced than their two previous albums.  A folk inspiration that seemed to carry on and peek its head up greatly on the Amon Düül III later release Meetings with Menmachines, Unremarkable Heroes of the Past, as showcased on the song "Things Aren't Always What They Seem."

"Things Aren't Always What They Seem" - Amon Düül

Guitarist, John Weinzierl, was said to not be pleased with the album, deeming it "unfinished."  Although the album lacks many of the krautrock roots of Amon Düül's earlier work, there's no denying the sweetness and perfection of Julie Wareing's vocals over the album.  The soft touch adds a new dimension to an already multi-dimensional soundscape.  

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

"Polyrock" - Polyrock

Polyrock was formed in New York City in 1978.  The minimalist sound of their first self-titled album, was made possible by the producing of Philip Glass and Kurt Munkacsi.  Kurt Munkacsi was previously Philip Glass' producer/technical collaborator on the soundtrack for the film Koyaanisqatsi and later Mishima: A Life In Four Chapters.  Kurt Munkasci is also known for his production and technical work with other 1970s/80s post-punk/new wave bands such as Bow Wow Wow and The Waitresses, as well as his work with heavyweights such as Harry Belafonte and Plastic Ono Band.  Glass' influence on the sound is apparent with synthesizers taking the lead and repetitious background melodies.

The self-titled album was released in 1980 after Polyrock had been signed to RCA Records.  They were compared by critics and fans to the music of Talking Heads, although they did not share the same massive fame.  Polyrock's most notable single is the album's opening track "Romantic Me."  The band's unique vocal stylings are rich and apparent, a sort of David Byrne meets Alan Jenkins, on tracks such as "This Song."  Take a listen below.  The first 30 seconds sound like they were ripped straight from The B-52s debut album.

"This Song" - Polyrock

Polyrock disbanded in 1982, but the search continues for their rumored Electro-Romantic album that was said to have been recorded or released in 1981.

download here