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The Mancunian Candidate "The Cellar Tapes - visit for details"

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S.F. Sorrow
S.F. Sorrow
Price: £7.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Deserves Your Attention, 8 Dec. 2008
This review is from: S.F. Sorrow (Audio CD)
The beginnings of The Pretty Things is quite interesting, initially formed by Richard Taylor, Phil May, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger, they were really an early version of The Rolling Stones. After going their separate ways and with a more stable line-up, The Pretty Things released their first two albums in 1965; "The Pretty Things" and the follow up "Get The Picture", were nothing short of being high octane R&B, making them sound a lot rawer, and some would say more pleasurable, then their counterparts The Rolling Stones.

Whilst The Rolling Stones had conquered America and successfully back filled for the now touring retired Beatles, The Pretty Things were marginalised to a more niche European audience. With that in mind, in 1968 the band released an album which was far removed from their initial first two freakishly R&B albums; "S.F. Sorrow" was a first class example of the Psychedelic concept album which littered the 67-68 music scene within the UK.

Recorded at Abbey Road and produced by Norman "Hurricane" Smith (producer of Piper at The Gates at Dawn), the album tells the story of a British man named Sebastian F Sorrow, from his birth right through to his eventual death, morbid stuff I grant you. But The Pretty Things with this release have successfully combined their raw bluesy roots with a new found need for experimentation with some quite marvellous results.

It's also worth mentioning, that with the CD reissue of this album, we have the delights of some cracking singles and B-Sides which the band released in 1967-68 also, making this album nothing short of an essential purchase.

This release in my view is on par with any concept album created during the period. Maybe it is not as polished as Sgt Pepper and maybe it is not as well structured as Ogden's Nut Gone Flake, but with all things considered with the inclusion of the singles and with the initial album itself, SF Sorrow is a beautiful thing. From gorgeous songs such as "Trust" and "I See You", through to the highly addictive "Talkin' About The Good Times" and "Mr Evasion", to the marvellously experimental "Defecting Grey".

SF Sorrow stands shoulder to shoulder with the heavy weights of the period, but remains a very much forgotten masterpiece which I reckon deserves your attention today.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 24, 2012 9:12 PM BST

The Madcap Laughs
The Madcap Laughs
Offered by stevecaptainkirk
Price: £4.94

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly Wholesome Record, 1 Dec. 2008
This review is from: The Madcap Laughs (Audio CD)
Syd Barrett left Pink Floyd in 1968; his final contribution to Pink Floyd was the last song on "A Saucerful of Secrets", the very apt Jugband Blues. From here he left to focus on a solo career, whether he left of his own accord or was pushed we can leave for another day, but it took a further two years for Barrett's first solo outing to be released.

"The Madcap Laughs", released in 1970 on Harvest, was two years in the making and had production assistance from various people most notably Roger Waters and Dave Gilmore, as well as session musicians of some esteem to perform overdubs on most of the tracks, musicians including Jerry Shirley of Humble Pie on Drums. It's also worth noting that some of these esteemed musicians never actually met Barrett.

The various sessions involved in writing and recording the songs for this release were dogged with Barrett's internal and well documented mental turmoil, but this record was recorded in the end and what a record it is. The album opens with "Terrapin", despite the number of producers involved throughout the album; this opening track echoes the style, which will make Madcap Laughs the album it is.

Every strum is heard, the lyrics are quite mysterious, the vocals are eerie and because the overdubs are done after and away from Barrett's erratic musicianship, the beats and bars are quite unpredictable, which I happen to believe is a good thing. This trend, which I like to think of as classic Barrett recording techniques, continues with "No Good Trying", the marvellous "Octopus", "Golden Hair" and the beautifully composed "She Took a Long Cold Look" and "Dark Globe".

The album does have some upbeat moments, "Love You" and "Here I Go" are probably as close to pop songs Barrett ever got, but thankfully he's still a million miles off the norm.

Along with "Barrett", another album from Syd Barrett released in 1970, The Madcap Laughs remains a beacon of the talents of this great songwriter, a man whose demons would tragically halt his career but thankfully did not result in this record never being released. Yes, some of the vocals are erratic and sometimes off key, yes some of the songs go off on one a bit with the overdubs trying to keep up, and yes this album is far from being polished, but don't let that stop you, the sum of all the parts of this album make for an unbelievably addictive and surprisingly wholesome record.

The Legendary Spar Recordings
The Legendary Spar Recordings
Price: £10.26

4.0 out of 5 stars Splendid and Quirky, 24 Nov. 2008
The Now Generation was a fictional band with their leader the late great Bobby Russell, a songwriter from Nashville in Tennessee, at the helm. Their principle output was sound-alike recordings for the Spar Record Label with Tennessee's finest session musicians partaking in various recordings in the studio just off Nashville's Music Row.

However in `67 the band released quite the LP, their self titled debut would be a departure from the made up band's, what would later be called normal, output. It contained on the whole material written by Bobby Russell, the majority of which luckily can be found on this release.

Released in 2007 on SPV Records, The Legendary Spar Recordings is Bobby Russell at his finest, with some brilliant original material. The first two songs on this album are great catchy numbers and the best on the record despite sounding awfully familiar, there are some other strong efforts written by Bobby Russell as well. Daytona Darling is upfront Surf, Big Windy City could have been penned for Roy Orbison, and Uptown Downtown is very Dion.

But this retrospective sound of Surf music and Orbison was hardly cutting edge post `66 and as a result the original LP was a low seller. In subsequent years, The Now Generation were no longer a vehicle for Bobby Russell to write as originally intended, and instead reverted solely to covers, some of which can be found on this compilation, the best of which is most definitely You Showed Me.

It depends what you are after I suppose, this album could be described as evidence of a sixties record label out to make some money off some covers and sound-alike records, or as I like to think, a collection of some splendid quirky songs that are harmless on the ears and are actually a rather good listen. It should also be said that Bobby Russell kept a draw full of cheques made out to him from Spar Records that he couldn't be bothered to cash, so maybe this wasn't about the money after all.

Captain Nemo
Captain Nemo

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Definite Must for Collectors, 17 Nov. 2008
This review is from: Captain Nemo (Audio CD)
The Sundowners were formed in 1959 in Lake George, New York; however they only ever released one LP, the cult classic Captain Nemo in 1968, a low selling record which you can now purchase for a shockingly cheap amount (in Mancunia anyway).

The Sundowners between 65 and their subsequent demise in the late sixties would be there or thereabouts, coming close to fame and fortune but never quite achieving it themselves, playing alongside such household names as The Monkees, Ike & Tina Turner and Jimi Hendrix. They also tried their arm at acting, appearing in a couple of films in the late sixties alongside some illustrious names, but soon they would vanish leaving not much of a trace.

However the one trail they did leave for us all was their one release in 1968, released on the Decca record label. This is somewhat of a Sunshine Pop/Psychedelic underground classic; Captain Nemo was very much overlooked by the record buying public of the day. This was probably due to the amount of quality albums being released in that year which no doubt out muscled The Sundowners down the pecking order, particular with the alternative less mainstream record buying public. It also suffers from not having a particular outstanding single, something which I will come back to.

But now forty years on, I think this album can be reassessed as a release which should have done a lot better. The production on the album for example, done by Sundowner guitarist Dominick DeMieri, is of a very high and exceptional standard; the songs as said previously although not particularly amazing, are of a quality which as a collection of songs makes you feel satisfied with life, and a front cover which it has to be said is a fine piece of art.

So all in all, this album is actually a strong piece containing some nice wholesome tracks. Songs like the opening track, Sunny Day People, Dear Undecided and Edge of Love certainly will not have you going back to the shop for a refund. A definite must for collectors and a general all round thumbs up from me.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 13, 2011 8:06 PM GMT

"Os Mutantes"
"Os Mutantes"
Offered by positivenoise
Price: £5.32

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'd Probably Give This 7 Stars if I Could, 10 Nov. 2008
This review is from: "Os Mutantes" (Audio CD)
Os Mutantes were formed in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 1965, and were the forerunners of the Brazillian culture phenomenon known as Tropicalia. But what is this Tropicalia you speak? Well Tropicalia was a cultural revolution in Brazil in the mid to late sixties which not only affected music, but all areas of the arts, giving pieces a more deeper meaning and giving its creators a reason to push the boundaries for what was possible to out shine dictatorship.

There is no bigger example of the Tropicalia movement then Os Mutantes' debut in 1968, their self titled album is little known outside of Brazil, but I only had the album a couple of hours before I became absolutely smitten by it. It has left me thinking that if this was an English speaking album, this would probably be heralded as a masterpiece by all and sundry.

For starters it is unbelievable how flexible and open-minded Os Mutantes actually were with this debut, the level of experimentation with their songs featured on this album is far superior to anything coming out of England or America at the time, an experimentation that has made the songs something quite remarkable, and this really cannot be said enough.

There are of course your typical carnival side to the sound, which you would expect from a band from Brazil. But not just that, they've decided that fuzz from a guitar is good, and fuzz in any guise is indeed good I think we can all agree.

They've also managed to get the orchestra in on most of their songs, with beautiful string and brass accompaniment throughout, but this is a Tropicalia album, you don't think it just stops there do you?

We really are not just talking about a Sgt Pepper Samba album here. The harmonisation of the vocals, the poetic quality of the songs (which are in Portuguese obviously but which transend the language barrier) and of course the fact that you have no idea where the album can take you next, brilliant.

Like with most albums which successfully fly close to the wind and by rights are one offs, some listeners may find a couple of the more far out pretty songs a little hard to get your head round. But seriously, this album is compelling and is jaw droppingly good at times which makes the album actually an addictive listen. This isn't just a first rate Pychedelic album or an advert for World Music....whatever that means; this is a masterpiece pure and simple.

96 Tears
96 Tears
Offered by all my music
Price: £39.89

5.0 out of 5 stars You Really Cannot Go Wrong With This Album, 3 Nov. 2008
This review is from: 96 Tears (Audio CD)
? & The Mysterians from Flint, Michigan are quite literally Garage legends. To mainstream audiences they were known for being a one hit wonder, but they were much more then that, they created this brilliant, and very much underrated album.

Led by their charismatic front man "?" (His legal name by the way), the band released their debut album in 1966 on the Cameo Record label. 96 Tears contains their solitary big hit which reached number 1 in America in October of 1966,

The title track was huge, and took the band instantly into the area of Garage gods, and according to the clever folk at VH1, into the one hit wonder bracket. John Lennon of the mainstream, who had more hits according to VH1, called the song "the greatest Rock n Roll song of all time", some praise indeed.

So track 12 from this album is pretty much a given, 96 Tears is, shall we say, great! But there is much more to behold on this album then just their hit. ? And The Mysterians are all about the organ, and in my view the band are at their best when the organ is being played like a demented being is at the keys producing the licks. The opening track on this album is a shining example; I Need Somebody is relentless and is a fine taster for what else can be found on this album.

But after the opener you're met with track two; Stormy Mondays is the complete opposite to the opener, its huggable and chilled with vocals accompanying the organ beautifully. But by track 3 we're back to typical Mysterian territory, this time the organ is joined by a very basic guitar, which all mixed together makes for a corking song, You're Telling Me Lies is my favourite Mysterian song, but not by far.

This winning formula runs throughout this superb debut creating equally marvellous songs, Up Side, 8 Teen, Don't Tease Me, Don't Break My Heart, sod it, basically the entire album is utter brilliance and is essential for any Garage connoisseur, if not any music lover, you really cannot go wrong with this album.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 16, 2010 1:34 AM BST

You've Got To Be Loved: (Singles A's & B's)
You've Got To Be Loved: (Singles A's & B's)
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £28.95

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Step In The Right Direction, 30 Oct. 2008
Like many of the bands featured on my radio show, The Montanas were a band who had all the makings of a quality band but alas were missing the breaks to get them to that level of God like genius that so many of their counterparts enjoyed.

The Montanas were formed in Wolverhampton in 1964 and were known predominantly for their hits Ciao Baby which was big in Italy, as you might expect, and You've Got to Be Loved which charted well in the UK and US; this despite it not even being promoted across the Atlantic. Other then that they were very much a band flying below the radar, which I'm sure you'll agree is most definitely no measure for how good a band actually is or were.

Thankfully though we can review this bands output whilst they were with the Pye Record Label here with this compilation, You've Got To Be Loved was released in 1997 on the Sequel Record Label, and once again a heart felt thanks to these record labels for producing such compilations after the band's material had not seen the printers after so many years. Contained here are some beautiful songs, some belting songs, some Freakbeat songs and in a couple of cases a combination of all three.

Highlights on the album are of course the songs The Montanas were remembered for by mainstream audiences, the mainstream are not total fools after all; however there are some lost treasures to be had here. A Step in The Right Direction's failure to reach a significant chart position I think we could judge as a criminal offence for example, there are also songs that weren't even released at the time The Montanas were at their "height", the best of which is Hold On which is such a brilliant song I am taken a back that it was not released until this compilation.

These are of course the stand out tracks, but throughout this compilation there are some strong songs which it would be a crying shame to think that you will never get to hear them other then on this compilation, but that's life I guess, so why not give this album a go, it's very much a pleasurable listen.

A Teenage Opera: Original Soundtrack Recording
A Teenage Opera: Original Soundtrack Recording
Price: £10.38

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitely an Air of Loss Treasure, 28 Oct. 2008
Mark Wirtz from Cologne in Germany was a member of the EMI production staff in 1960's London, working predominantly with the marvellous band Tomorrow; a partnership which resulted in their rather excellent debut in 1968. But during this period both Tomorrow and Mark Wirtz were working on a far grander project. The vision, a musical, either a full on stage production or even an animated film similar in scope to The Yellow Submarine, this work was entitled A Teenage Opera.

Work began on the project during the summer of 1967 and would continue for a good year before EMI execs pulled the plug on the project, despite several quality songs and purpose made singles being released. It would then take another 30 years for audiences to be given just a hint of the scale and quality of this concept, and here it is, A Teenage Opera - The Original Soundtrack, released on RPM Records in 1996 with the full support and collaboration of Mark Wirtz himself.

On this album are tracks from an array of talent, including works by Tomorrow and in the case of the rather splendid song Grocer Jack, Tomorrow's front man Keith West. There are also works from Steve Flynn, Kippington Lodge and even from Mark Wirtz himself on the triumphant He's Our Dear Old Weatherman, which as a song probably deserves a review of its own.

This album has pop songs, psychedelic songs, full blown musical theatre with children singing choruses and even orchestral delights, which all in all some would find as a whole quite pretentious but I seriously cannot get enough of it. Many of the songs on this soundtrack are beyond catchy so please do not be afraid, trust me its well worth a listen.

I think this album will be of interest to a lot of people. It certainly is yet another example of how much creativity was coming out of England between 67 and 68. I also quite like the fact that despite its quality singles and its creation being slap bang during the concept album wonder years, as a project it still found itself disregarded by the EMI bigwigs, who lets be honest, weren't exactly shy of sanctioning grandiose works during this period, its really quite staggering, for that reason there is definitely an air of loss treasure about this album, and that's very much the case for me.

Definitely one for the curious and most definitely one for those already initiated, buy today.

Here Are the Sonics!!
Here Are the Sonics!!
Price: £16.02

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Landmark American Album, 13 Oct. 2008
This review is from: Here Are the Sonics!! (Audio CD)
If you ever wanted to know what a ton of dynamite would sound like if you lit the fuse and gave it some microphones, guitars, drums and a saxophone, then listen no further. Here it is ladies and gentlemen, 100% unfiltered TNT, all the way from Tacoma, in America's northwest, Here Are The Sonics.

Here Are The Sonics is the debut from the brilliant Sonics, released on The Norton Record Label in 1965, the album was a commercial flop proving once and for all that the mass record buying public then, like today, are a pretty foolish bunch. But hopefully you have your head screwed on and will no doubt love this album after one listen or even half a listen.

Other then the health risks, what really is there not to like about this album?

Highlights on the album are many and involve either a riff sent from the bowels of the earth, a series of beats crashing down from Mount Olympus or a scream that can kill Santa Claus and ultimately probably did, most likely though it is a combination of all three of these factors in the same song. Psycho, The Witch, Strychnine, Keep A Knockin', Boss Hoss, Have Love Will Travel, Dirty Robber, it is all happening with this album, seriously these songs are some of the finest to come out of America, let alone the 1960's, and The Sonics have been genius enough to have created all these great songs in time for their debut album.

Here Are The Sonics in short is one of the ultimate Sixties Garage albums, containing pure grit, as live as it is raw and containing filthy raunch that would make a nun faint, a landmark American album, one of the great debuts, and very much under appreciated by the mass consumer, that's about it really.....just buy it, buy it now.

At Folsom Prison
At Folsom Prison
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £3.28

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Glorious, 6 Oct. 2008
This review is from: At Folsom Prison (Audio CD)
Johnny Cash was born in Arkansas in 1942. Formerly in the United States Air Force, Cash made his name in the vibrant American country scene of the 1950's, but it would be wrong to pigeon hole the man, if anything I would try to stick him between Rock N Roll, Folk and maybe half way towards Tennessee, but certainly Cash's sound was very much of his own with a voice unmistakably his.

Hit after hit would be very prominent throughout his output in the 1950s and early sixties; however by 1963 his excesses caught up with his, and his career was most definitely on the wane, a brief come back in 1964 did nothing to halt this slide.

After a turbulent few years, Cash, thanks to new wife June Carter had managed to compose himself and gathered some direction and in 1968 recorded one of the greatest live albums ever made.

Live at Folsom Prison funnily enough was an album recorded in Folsom Prison, a prison situated in California. You can imagine the looks on the faces of those Record Company Executives at Columbia when he pitched the idea for this album. In essence what this album was is Johnny Cash playing golden oldies which now seemed awfully dated, to an audience of thieves, rapists and murderers, as well as these issues, Cash by this point was a forgotten artist and very much irrelevant, but someone at CBS must have owed him a favour or something.

The first time you play At Folsom Prison you're met with the now iconic greeting of "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash", followed by a huge roar, at this point you think..... well I certainly thought anyway, "oh my", and as the first notes of Folsom Prison play out it suddenly dawns on you that what you are listening to here is simply one of the most definitive moments in musical history.

18 tracks follow the opener, 18 tracks about love and loss, imprisonment and escape, poverty and death, and for all their faults in life, the imprisoned at Folsom Prison really are what makes this album what it is. The energy from the crowd which you can literally feel oozing from the record is soaked up by Cash and his band and is relayed perfectly to the listener at home

There are many highlights on this record, too many in fact, ones that stick out for me as I write this are 25 Minutes to Go, a song about a man waiting to hang, the story telling and imagery created by Cash for this song really is quite something. There are also some undoubtedly foot tappy numbers too, Cocaine Blues is a glorious song with some memorable lines (see what I did there), as well as Orange Blossom Special which is also a cracking song which does get repeated quite often on the old radio show.

This album will forever make Johnny Cash a legend and ensured that he was not like the typical 1950's artist who only your Gran fondly remembers. It spawned a follow up live album, At San Quentin, which like Folsom Prison had some landmark moments which will live on long after Cash's death in 2003. In short, glorious, glorious, glorious.

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