-= 7-FLOOR =-

Thursday, March 19, 2009

C.A. Quintet - Trip Thru Hell (1969)

Below is a Q & A with C A QUINTET mastermind Ken Erwin, who got in touch with me after he and his brother Jim had spotted my review of "Trip Thru Hell" on the Net. I consider Ken Erwin one of the most extraordinary musical talents to emerge during the 1960s and was delighted at the opportunity to shoot some questions his way, including a couple of really detailed ones. This is not a comprehensive interview on the band's history, which can be found in Lost & Found magazine #3 and/or the liner notes to the Sundazed "Trip Thru Hell" reissue. There are also more Erwin dialogues about to be published elsewhere shortly. Take it away, Ken!

Q. Did CA Quintet play much outside the Twin Cities area?

Ken Erwin: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota was the main "touring" area... we were suppose to play a job in Michigan one time... but the bus broke down in Wisconsin and we never made it....

Q. Did the band ever appear on local TV?

Ken: Never on TV that I am aware of… we opened for some "national acts"… Like The James Gang, Freddie Cannon, Kenny Rogers and the 5th Edition

Q. Were any of your releases reviewed or advertised in national magazines such as Billboard?

Ken: I don't think so.

Q. Was there ever talk or plans of going with a major label?

Ken: There was some talk of going with some label in New York… Richard Gottehrer) …. He got involved with Peter Steinberg in the late 60s …. But they were so crooked … I have no idea what if anything was going on with them.

Q. There is a significant leap in creativity from the early CA Quintet 45s to the LP, which sounds like nothing done before within pop & rock music. Was there any particular event or source of inspiration that set you on the path that led to the album?

Ken: Hummm.. I think the creativity was there all along… I think early on we were just trying to get "known" to a point where we could get work… also, the "glamour" and groupies got old pretty quick and we found ourselves searching for something more than playing cover music… also in the late 60s any band worth anything wrote their own music and created their own style.

Q. The music and moods on "Trip thru hell" is quite unlike anything made in rock music up until that point, and often seems closer to modernist classical like Stravinsky or Bela Bartok. Is this music that had influenced you?

Ken:… ya ( good question )… always in the back of my mind I had a feel for classical music.. I got bored with the instruments (orchestration) they used in the classic recordings… but I liked the way the masters had a feel to take their listeners along in a manner that kept their interest and had a good feel as to when it was time to "change things" in their music…. As a side note: Our father told us when he heard that album… joked that it would never sell… as he liked it… he loves classical music.

Q. The cover design of "Trip thru hell" matches the music perfectly. How did this come about; what was the creative process that led to the front cover artwork?

Ken: Rod Eaton… a local drummer who did something at Dove studios (not sure what )… he did the whole thing… we had no input that I remember.

Q. The great use of trumpet on the album is far removed from how brass instruments are normally used within pop and rock music. Were there any rock bands around that you thought used horns in a similar way as you?

Ken: Well… using a trumpet was not in vogue at that time… I doubt if you would have found a trumpet on stage with Jimi Hendrix… there were some R&B bands that did the standard trumpet, sax, trombone… thing ( which I really like )… but I guess we never really thought about it at the time… we just used it to add a different element to our sound…. It probably was a handicap at the time… producers and probably many people in the industry were followers of the trends… and the trumpet was not "cool".

Q. Do you remember approximately what month (in 1969) the LP was released?

Ken: I think it was summer …. I remember lying on the floor of this rat hole of a place I lived and listening to the album the first time I smoked pot.

Q. What is "I shot the king" about -- is it inspired by the Kennedy assassination?

Ken: No…. it was just some vision I had of some daring fool risking and perhaps losing everything … in perhaps the 14th century France …. To get rid of some oppressive King… sacrificing himself for the greater good.

Q. There is an ominous low frequency rumbling that appears about halfway through "Trip thru hell pt 1". Was this just studio ambience, or a deliberate effect?

Ken: Before I go on... I must say I am just amazed at Jim's bass guitar lines... he really was the "heartbeat of the music and the band" ... his playing really is a signature item in my opinion of most of the songs.... His creative bass lines made the songs distinct.... He held us steady... usually from what I know (which is not a lot) the drummer sets the grove and the rest follow... but with three different drummers on the album... Jim was excellent at adjusting to them all and anchoring the group .... I guess I just took him for granted at the time as I heard him everyday.... but it is really true... he was the steady rock of the music ... the foundation to the sound... and the rest of us all just climbed on board.

Well I gave up on the head-phones... the wife is gone, so I put it on the big speakers... broke out some Heineken .. and cranked it up .... It has been a long time, but to the best of my recollection... what you may be hearing is the "bleed through" from other tracks coming in during the drum solo....if you notice after the drum solo it goes back into the theme.... at the time we could have turned off the "rumble" ... but I would imagine we heard it and thought it gave a nice effect so we left it in.

Note: ... maybe I might be the dumbest guy around ... after listening to this thing again after so many years have gone by ... I noticed something that most others have probably already figured that out.. isn't it kind of interesting that the music on "trip thru hell" album has no "sappy love songs" or any other "boy girl relationship" type songs on it ... the songs are about other subjects ...but that would make sense looking back on it from the standpoint of what we were trying to create.

This at a time when 90% of the songs were about "true love", "broken hearts", "sugar sugar" and "baby baby baby " .... I have to laugh as I am sure 30 years later, the song writers of that age would prefer to hear a song about something else .... maybe if we had put some "silly love songs" on there... we would have gone further.... I personally am very glad we didn't.

Q. Any particular reason for "Colorado Mourning" being about Colorado?

Ken: I hitchhiked through there as a young hippie and fell in love with the scenery.

Q. What are the lyrics for "Trip thru hell pt 2", i e: the last 4 lines on the LP? They're hard to decipher on the record.

Ken: The angels came and playedA thousand yearsBut all the glory thereWas washed by tears

Q. What was the reasoning behind the "cocktail jazz" segment during "Trip thru hell pt 2", just before the apocalyptic finale? Does it signify anything in particular?

Ken: A "hiccup in reality" an "interruption" in agreement and expectations …. like an acid trip. It is like when reality tends to get tangled up a bit and things don't fit the pattern anymore.

Q. Where is "Sleepy Hollow Lane" -- is it a completely invented place?

Ken… It is totally in your imagination…. As far as I know.

Q. The vocals on the LP are rather different from the more conventional style on "Mickey's Monkey" and "Blow to my soul". On the LP the vocals often have an introspective, almost listless quality that enhances the eerie mood. Was this new vocal style a deliberate move to match the musical style of the album, or more of a natural progression?

Ken: From my standpoint … what we did with the vocals were intended to blend them into the "landscape" of the music…. To have them be more than an instrument… but not too much more… to be a special instrument that delivers lyrics and some emotion/attitudes … they were meant to be different than the focal point, the way most music is.

Q. Did you mix or filter the vocals on the LP in any unusual way to achieve their "otherworldly" quality?

Ken: Many hours were spent mixing… we would make acetates of mixes… bring them home… listen to them over and over… then go back and remix… until we got it the way we wanted it… we could have "brought them out" more… but again… we wanted them to blend.

Q. Do you remember how many copies of the album that were pressed?

Ken: Well as you may know we were just totally screwed by Peter Steinberg and his "record company"… later on I found a check made out to us that he cashed… I think I recall about 700 pressed… I have heard rumors of more (and less) ….even though they sold out pretty rapidly when it was released… the record company never pressed anymore… even though the demand was there at the time… My brother Jim likes to recall a time when he and Tom Pohling sailed a bunch of them against a brick wall.

Q. Did you perform the "Trip thru hell" material live? If so, was it difficult to recreate?

Ken: Some of the songs we did live … Colorado Mourning, Smooth as Silk, Underground music, Cold Spider…. But the "teeny boppers" wanted to hear Proud Mary…. and that is totally understandable.

Q. Could you say something about the band's development after the album was released? There is a "live" album recorded in 1971...?

Ken: Well we slowly drifted into drugs and lost direction as to where (or even if) we wanted to go anywhere… We never were matched to an audience that wanted what we did… and we got to a point where we didn't care if people liked what we did anymore… it got to be a job… the "live" album was nothing but an after thought… like taking a photo to record an event… we had a tape recorder and just laid mics on the floor…. As a result the live tape it is impossible to mix… ( we tried) there were only 4 of us left… it was a snapshot of the end.

Q. The Minnesota 1960s scene produced an extraordinary number of unusual, highly creative records by bands such as C A Quintet, Bedlam Four ("Hydrogen atom"), T C Atlantic ("Faces"), Calico Wall ("Flight reaction"), the Litter, the Electras etc, that is remarkable even on a national scale. Was this something you were aware of back then? Do you see any particular reason for it?

Ken: I was highly aware of the scene…. For some reason Peter Steinberg involved me at one point with the "management" of Candy Floss records…. As a result I still have a few acetates/tapes around from some of those groups…..I always felt that Warren Kendrick ( spell ? ) was a real talented producer ( the Electra's)…. a lot of the music from the time came out of Dove recording studios…. It was a hot spot.

(info by: CGR)

1. Trip Thru Hell (Part 1)
2. Colorado Mourning
3. Cold Spider
4. Underground Music
5. Sleepy Hollow Lane
6. Smooth As Silk
7. Trip Thru Hell (Part 2)
8. Dr Of Philosophy
9. Blow To My Soul
10. Aint No Doubt About It
11. Mickeys Monkey
12. I Put A Spell On You
13. I Shot The King
14. Fortune Tellers Lie
15. Sadie Lavone
16. Bury Me In A Marijuana Field
17. Colorado Mourning (Alternate Version)
18. Underground Music (Alternate Version)
19. Smooth As Silk (Alternate Version)

Size: 103 Mb
Bitrate: 256 mp3
Artwork Included

Baxter - Baxter (1973)

Excellent Rock From USA.
(no info and no back cover)
Size: 60.2 Mb
Bitrate: 192 mp3
Artwork Included

Blackwater Park - Dirt Box (1971)

Hard & heavy guitar rock from Berlin, 1971, with 'no-messin' attitude, overloaded guitar, and english vocals. Includes a cover of the Beatles "For No One", and a mini epic 8 min work-out "Rock Song". Somehow we can't help thinking maybe UFO saw this lot & decided to nick their act.. Housed in a great digipak.

Another one of those German bands with a British vocalist. The line-up was Richard Routledge (vocals, guitar), Michael Fechner (guitar), Andreas Scholz (bass, he came from the recently disbanded Murphy Blend!) and Norbert Kagelmann (drums). "Dirt Box" had a promisingly weird cover, but the music was quite common for the period: guitar-based hard blues-rock in the Anglo-American style. The material written by Fechner and Scholz ("Mental Block", "Rock Song" and "Indian Summer") was the best, recalling the brilliance of Armaggedon. Routledge's material tended towards boogie blues and sounded more like Free. He also wrote all the lyrics. The album also included a good cover version of the Beatles' "For No One". This is one of many albums of which the original copies sell for small fortunes today. To meet the increasing demand, Second Battle re-released the album in 1990 in its original sleeve. If you go for originals though, expect to part with 250 DM.

(info by: CGR)

1. Mental block
2. Roundabout
3. One´s life
4. Indian summer
5. Dirty face
6. Rock song
7. For noone

Size: 66.2 Mb
Bitrate: 256 mp3
Artwork Included

Mountain - King Biscuit Flower Hour (1974)

Mountain comprising of Leslie West, Felix Pappalardi, Corky Laing recorded live on November 3rd, 1974 at Capitol Theatre New Jersey.

This was their First Performance after Reforming and Includes all the Classic Mountain Songs Including the Anthem Nantucket Sleighride and the Storming Rock and Roll Covers Roll Over Beethoven and Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On.

Also Included is an Interview with Guitarist Leslie West.
Note: This album has also been released under the title "Greatest Hits Live"

(Info by: CGR)

Track Listings
01. You Better Believe It
02. Theme For An Imaginary Western
03. Never In My Life
04. Jingle Bells
05. Get Out Of My Life Woman
06. Mississippi Queen
07. It's For You
08. Nantucket Sleighride
09. Roll Over Beethoven
10. Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On
11. Leslie West Interview

Size: 92.1 Mb
Bitrate: 256 mp3
Artwork Included

Thursday, March 05, 2009

McKenna Mendelson Blues - Selftitled (1968)

Mike McKenna, who played for Luke and the Apostles, took out an ad in The Toronto Star looking for a blues musician. Joe Mendelson replied to that ad and the basis for McKenna Mendelson Mainline was formed in the summer of '68.

Former Pauper bass player Denny Gerrard joined the band with Tony Nolasco on drums. In the fall of '68, the band recorded what were thought to be demos for Allied Records. Gerrard left the band and was replaced by Mike Harrison from Grant Smith and the Power in October of that year. The original line up was in place.

In December of '68, when the wave of English bands were coming to North America, the group moved to England to pursue a record deal. They signed with Liberty / United Artists in the spring of '69 and started working the English circuit, following acts Fleetwood Mac and Led Zeppelin. They opened for major acts such as Rod Stewart, Jeff Beck and Jimi Hendrix. In April of '69 they recorded 'Stink' and returned to Canada shortly thereafter. Allied Records released the demos completed in September of '68, promoted as 'McKenna Mendelson Blues'. It became Canada's first 'major label' act to be bootlegged. Mendelson left the band in January 1970. They fulfilled their final engagements and split up.

In the spring of 1970, Mendelson, Nolasco and Zeke Sheppard started a trio called MAINLINE. They brought the novelty of a heavy blues / rock band playing 'sittin' down music' and premiered at The Hawks Nest. McKenna joined the band for the large outdoor festival 'Scarborough Fair.' The impact was huge. MAINLINE became a four piece.

In 1971, they signed with GRT Records and recorded the first of two albums in San Francisco with renowned engineer Fred Catero and the Tower of Power horns, Adam Michell of the Paupers fame produced. That summer they toured Australia with one hit wonders 'Fridgit Pink' and their remake of House of the Rising Sun. MAINLINE blew them off stage and were taken off the tour for the last five dates.

The band's music and stage antics became raunchier. By this time, Ted Purdy had joined the band as the new bass player. They recorded their second album for GRT (with strippers) - 'The Mainline Bump 'n' Grind Revue Live at the Victory Burlesque' in Toronto,1972.

In March of '73, McKenna, Nolasco, Harrison & King Biscuit Boy (Richard Newell) got together and performed at several selected venues. They opened for Rory Gallager at Toronto's Colonial and headlined a sellout crowd of 10,000 at Ontario Place. In June, Mendelson replaced King Biscuit Boy for their second Australian tour, this time as a headliner. It was wildly successful.

(info by: CGR)

01 - Drive You - 3.03
02 - Ramblin´ On My Mind - 3.42
03 - Toilet Bowl Blues - 2.04
04 - Bad Woman Are Killing Me - 11.23
05 - Pretty Woman - 3.39
06 - Born Under Bad Sign - 5.55
07 - Help Me - 10.27

Size: 75.1 Mb
Bitrate: 256 mp3
Artwork Included

McKenna Mendelson Mainlaine - Stink (1969)

The album appeared on shelves during the second half of 1969. The band had been in London England, supposedly to hook up with bluesman John Lee Hooker. They never met up with him, but DID make a good enough impression in London that they ended up in a recording studio in June 1969 and knocked this LP off IN ONE DAY!!

Mike McKenna is the lead guitarist, a bit of a local legend around the Toronto area. He had been a member of Luke & The Apostles and also briefly with the legendary Ugly Ducklings. Even before that, he was a member of Whitey & The Roulettes, a precursor to the Mandala.
Joe Mendelson was a guitarist and singer who spotted an ad saying that Mike was looking to put together a blues band. They got together, hit it off, and started playing coffee houses in Yorkville. They attracted the attention of Denny Gerrard, great bass player with the Paupers who served session musician duties with fellow Pauper drummer Skip Prokop on "I Dig Rock 'N Roll Music" by Peter, Paul & Mary. (this is a killer cut...I HAD NO IDEA that a couple of groovy Canadians were playing on this record!!)

Gerrard would eventually be replaced by Mike Harrison (from Grant Smith & The Power), and drummer and North Bay, Ont native Tony Nolasco would join up.

If this LP doesn't get you tapping your toes, or flailing your fingers up and down your air guitar, then you are a dead man. Great blues guitar from Mike, especially on my fave cut, "She's Alright". The entire album is smokin', and you will be missing out on something special if you don't grab this one.

Mainline played many of the top venues around Toronto, and even got to be the very last ever band to perform at the legendary El Mocambo (didn't the Stones play there one night??). I will post that show a bit later.

For now, please enjoy some rocking Canadian blues. MAINLINE!!

(info by:Meester Music / Rip from: CGR)

McKenna-Mendelson Mainline - "Stink" (1969)
01 One Way Ticket
02 She's Alright
03 Beltmaker
04 Mainline
05 Think I'm Losing My Marbles
06 Drive You
07 T.B. Blues
08 Better Watch OUt
09 Bad Woman
10 Don't Give Me No Goose For Christmas, Grandma

Size: 97.8 Mb
Bitrate: 320 mp3
Artwork Included

The Youngbloods - The Youngbloods (1967)

(No info)

Size: 55.6 Mb
Bitrate: 256 mp3
Artwork Included

The John Dummer´s Oobleedooblee Band - Ooblee Jubilee (1973)

This blues outfit formed in the Summer of 1967 in London. By the beginning of 1968 Tony Walker and Roger Pearce had both quit the music business. The line-up (B) was playing a solid Chicago-styled blues. In July 1968 they turned professional. By now Steve Rye had departed for Simon and Steve and Tony McPhee, a friend of Dave Kelly's, came in on guitar. However, McPhee's stay was brief - a few month later he left to join The Groundhogs. Their two albums for Mercury are the most sought-after by collectors.

Dummer followed this with Music Band, a venture with violinist Nick Pickett, which achieved little here but had a French hit with Nine By Nine.

Shortening their name to John Dummer they signed to Vertigo recording Blue, with a cover designed by Roger Dean. The music was still competent blues-rock, but nowhere near as good as their earlier late sixties offerings on Mercury. Then, teaming up again with his original guitarist Dave Kelly, Dummer recorded Oobleedooblee Jubilee with a country-influenced band.

1 CABAL (Mercury SMCL 20136) 1969 (Hard to find)
2 JOHN DUMMER BLUES BAND (Mercury SMCL 20167) 1969 (very hard to find)
3 FAMOUS MUSIC BAND (Philips 6309 008) 1970 (hard to find)
4 NINE BY NINE (Philips 6382 039) 1972
5 BLUE (Vertigo 6360 055) 1972 (very Hard to find)
6 OOBLEEDOOBLEE JUBILEE (Vertigo 6360 083) 1973 (hard to find)
7 TRY ME ONE MORE TIME (Philips 6382 040) 1973
8 VOLUME II (Philips 6382 083) 1973

(info by: CGR)

1. Passing Through
2. Hello LA, Bye Bye Birmingham
3. Oobleedooblee Jubilee
4. I've Been Scorned
5. Lovin' Man
6. The Monkey Speaks It's Mind
7. Fairy Tale
8. Sometimes
9. Too Much Monkey Business

Size: 74.2 Mb
Bitrate: 256 mp3
Artwork Included

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Mighty Baby - Selftitled (1969)

Biography by Bruce Eder The British psychedelic band Mighty Baby grew out of the Action, the Liverpool-based R&B outfit signed to Parlophone by George Martin in 1965. Long considered one of Martin's best discoveries this side of the Beatles, the Action consisted of Reggie King (vocals), Alan King (guitar), Pete Watson (guitar), Mike Evans (bass), and Roger Powell (drums). After Watson left in 1967, he was succeeded by keyboardist Ian Whiteman and blues guitarist Martin Stone, a veteran of the Savoy Brown Blues Band. This new lineup evolved beyond the R&B/soul sound that the original Action had played and into a top-flight experimental group, incorporating the kinds of long jams and folk/blues influences that the West Coast bands were starting to export around the world.

They hooked up with ex-Yardbirds manager Giorgio Gomelsky in 1967 and recorded an album's worth of material that went unreleased. Reggie King was gone by early 1968 to record a solo album, and the remaining members went through a number of name changes, at one point calling themselves Azoth. In 1968, they hooked up with the managers who represented Pink Floyd and T. Rex and cut a new series of demo recordings featuring Whiteman (who wrote most of the songs) and Alan King on lead vocals. These demos were even more ambitious than the 1967 sides, extending the structure of the group's songs with long, beautiful guitar progressions and soaring choruses. Unlike a lot of R&B outfits that tried the psychedelic route and failed, they were suited to the new music by inclination and temperament.

The president of the band's new record label, Head Records, for reasons best known to himself, chose "Mighty Baby" as the group's new name. The self-titled album that followed was a masterpiece of late psychedelic rock, with long, fluid guitar lines and radiant harmonies; still, Mighty Baby didn't sell very well, although the group continued to play live shows to enthusiastic audiences. Their record label folded in 1970, and the group eventually signed to the Blue Horizon label, where they released a respectable if not wholly successful second album, A Jug of Love. It was clear by then, however, that their moment had passed, both personally and professionally. Mighty Baby broke up in 1971, although several of the members periodically played together on various projects — Evans and Whiteman even played back-up to Richard and Linda Thompson in the late 1970's.

****This hour-long CD is one of the best bodies of British psychedelia ever released. It contains the complete Mighty Baby album from Head Records, expanded to 13 tracks with the addition of five tracks cut by the Action during its 1967 transition period. The opening number, "Egyptian Tomb," sets the tone for the entire album — in terms of content, structure, and beat, it sounds like the early Allman Brothers, or maybe the Grateful Dead in one of their harder-rocking moments, jamming with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young on an impromptu version of CSN's "Pre-Road Downs." The beauty of the original Mighty Baby album tracks is that they're psychedelia with a solid beat, none of that noodle-rock that drugged-up Brits usually engaged in. "A Friend You Know But Never See" mighthave passed muster on the Byrds' Notorious Byrd Brothers album. Other songs noodle around too much, but overall this is some of the most energetic psychedelia to come out of England, and anyone who enjoys psychedelic guitar will love Martin Stone's and Alan King's work on this album. The bonus tracks, all "lost" demos, are even better: highly rhythmic, driving rock (check out "Understanding Love") with lots of spacy guitar and tougher-than-normal flower-power introspective lyrics, with some gorgeous harmonies dressing it all up — a near perfect meld of garage rock and psychedelic sensibilities.

(info by: CGR)

01. Egyptian Tomb
02. A Friend You Know But Never See
03. I've Been Down So Long
04. Same Way From The Sun
05. House Without Windows
06. Trials Of A City
07. I'm From The Country
08. At A Point Between Fate And Destiny
09. Only Dreaming Listen
10. Dustbin Full Of Rubbish
11. Understanding Love
12. Favourite Days
13. A Saying For Today

Size: 115 Mb
Bitrate: 256 mp3
Artwork Included

King Crimson - In The Wake Of Poseidon (UK Progressive 1970)

King Crimson opened 1970 scarcely in existence as a band, having lost two key members (Ian McDonald and Michael Giles), with a third (Greg Lake) about to leave. Their second album — largely composed of Robert Fripp's songwriting and material salvaged from their stage repertory ("Pictures of a City" and "The Devil's Triangle") — is actually better produced and better sounding than their first. Surprisingly, Fripp's guitar is not the dominant instrument here: The Mellotron, taken over by Fripp after McDonald's departure — and played even better than before — still remains the band's signature.
The record doesn't tread enough new ground to precisely rival In the Court of the Crimson King. Fripp, however, has made an impressive show of transmuting material that worked on stage ("Mars" aka "The Devil's Triangle") into viable studio creations, and "Cadence and Cascade" may be the prettiest song the group ever cut. "The Devil's Triangle," which is essentially an unauthorized adaptation of "Mars, Bringer of War" from Gustav Holst's The Planets, was later used in an eerie Bermuda Triangle documentary of the same name. In March of 2000, Caroline and Virgin released a 24-bit digitally remastered job that puts the two Mellotrons, Michael Giles' drums, Peter Giles' bass, and even Fripp's acoustic guitar and Keith Tippett's acoustic piano practically in the lap of the listener.

(info by: CGR)

1. Peace-A Beginning
2. Pictures of a City
3. Cadence and Cascade
4. In the Wake of Poseidon
5. Peace - A Theme
6. Cat Food
7. Devil's Triangle: Merday Morn/Hand of Sceiron/Garden of Worm
8. Peace-An End
9. Cat Food [Single Version][Edit]
10. Groon [Single B Side]

Size: 89.7 Mb
Bitrate: 256 mp3
Artwork Included