Posts Tagged ‘Columbia Records’

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Aerosmith hit their stride on their third album, perfecting the nasty guitar licks and powerhouse performances they were honing onstage almost every single night. They carried this momentum to their next record, ‘Rocks,’ but ‘Toys in the Attic’ is the one album that defines Aerosmith in all their sleazy rock ‘n’ roll glory. “Aerosmith” was a different band when we started the third album. They’d been playing Get Your Wings on the road for a year and had become better players – different. It showed in the riffs that Joe [Perry] and Brad [Whitford] brought back from the road for the next album. “Toys in the Attic” was a much more sophisticated record than the other stuff they’d done.”

Aerosmith got off to a solid start with their debut album and avoided the sophomore jinx with their second. They truly took off when their third album arrived on April 8th, 1975.

“Toys in the Attic” found the group working to maintain its rock audience while making another bid for the crossover success that, to that point, had continued to flit just out of reach. Reconvening at the Record Plant in New York City during the early winter months of the year, the band members were under the gun in terms of delivering new material — but after years of live performance, they were now better prepared than ever.

Perhaps the most ambitious recording on the album is “You See Me Crying”, a complex piano ballad that was heavily orchestrated. Jack Douglas brought in a symphony orchestra for the song, which was conducted by Mike Mainieri. The song itself was written by Tyler and outside collaborator Don Solomon. Some of the band members became frustrated with the song, which took a long time to complete, due to the many complex drum and guitar parts. The band’s label, Columbia Records, was nonetheless very impressed with the song and the recording process.

“Toys” was the first record where we had to write everything pretty, much from scratch,” guitarist Joe Perry said. “And also, we had to do it after having been on the road for a while. And, though we were still playing a lot of gigs, we took a couple months off to make this record. So this was our first real studio record. And we would write a lot of the material in the studio. So we’d rehearse them and then go into the studio in the morning with a couple of guitar riffs, and we’d build all these songs out of them.”

Crediting an offhand remark from producer Jack Douglas during the Get Your Wings sessions with sending him into an emotional tailspin, bassist Tom Hamilton admitted in Walk This Way: The Autobiography of Aerosmith that the band’s ability to, as Perry put it, “could afford better dope” allowed him to embark on a cocaine-fuelled practice regimen in order to impress Douglas when they started Toys in the Attic. “When we started Toys, I felt better about my playing for once,” said Hamilton. “It was up to this higher level where the rest of the band had already progressed.”

Hamilton’s increased confidence and instrumental dexterity paid off in the studio, leading to the bass line for future Toys in the Attic classic track “Sweet Emotion,” among other things. But the band members weren’t entirely starting from scratch. All their touring helped road-test some of the new material, Perry later noted, saying that “We had an idea of what songs were working for us live at that point, and so we kind of had an idea of what direction we wanted the songs to go in. We knew we wanted to play some uptempo songs, some shuffle songs and some blues rock. But though we knew what kind of songs we wanted, we didn’t really know how it was going to turn out.”

Acknowledging the building pressure on Aerosmith to deliver a hit, Perry also openly credited producer Douglas with accentuating the band’s strengths and encouraging them to deliver their best songs and performances. “Jack really helped us a lot in that department,” noted Perry. “He really became the sixth member of the band and taught us how to do it.”

As far as singer Steven Tyler was concerned, whatever pressure the band might have been feeling was decidedly secondary to his growing belief that Aerosmith could stand shoulder-to-shoulder with any of the greats.

“I knew we’d made it,” he wrote in Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Memoir. “I was the kid who put my initials in the rock ’cause I wanted the aliens to know I was there. It’s a statement of longevity. The record will be played long after you’re dead. Our records would be up there in the attic, too, with the things that you loved and never wanted to forget. And to me, Aerosmith was becoming that. I knew how the Beatles, the Animals and the Kinks did it — with lyrics and titles. I saw reason and rhyme in all the lunacy that we were concocting.”

Looking back, it isn’t hard to see why Tyler was so confident. Toys in the Attic marked a quantum leap forward for Aerosmith, in terms of writing as well as performance, and the band’s artistic growth was soon matched by a sales boom: Toys soared to No. 11 on the chart, sending “Sweet Emotion” into the Top 40 and “Walk This Way” all the way to No. 10 — their biggest hit to that point.

“Walk This Way” starts with a two-measure drum beat intro by Joey Kramer, followed by the well-known guitar riff by Perry. The song proceeds with the main riff made famous by Perry and Brad Whitford on guitar with Tom Hamilton on an early 1960s Fender Jazz bass. The song continues with rapid-fire lyrics by Steven Tyler. The song originated in December 1974 during a sound check when Aerosmith was opening for the Guess Who in Honolulu, Hawaii. During the sound check, Perry was “fooling around with riffs and thinking about the Meters”, a group guitarist Jeff Beck had turned him on to. Loving “their riffy New Orleans funk, especially ‘Cissy Strut’ and ‘People Say'”, he asked the drummer “to lay down something flat with a groove on the drums.”The guitar riff to what would become “Walk This Way” just “came off [his] hands

Saying it evolved from a riff he had “in the back of my mind” that arose out of a desire to write “something funky,” Perry recalled “Walk This Way” evolving slowly, from that first guitar part to a demo in progress that producer Jack Douglas helped nudge across the finish line after a viewing of Mel Brooks’ film Young Frankenstein.

There was this one scene where one of the movie characters says ‘walk this way,'”said Perry . “Jack began fooling around with that line and did this imitation of it from the movie, and so it became a great title for the song. Then Steven went ahead and wrote the eventual lyrics.”

“Walk This Way” launched Aerosmith firmly into the ranks of crossover rock acts, and they continued to broaden their fan base as they pounded the arena circuit as a headliner and/or opening act alongside a growing list of artists that included Ted Nugent, Foghat and REO Speedwagon. They’d score even bigger hits later in their career, but Toys in the Attic marked the point of no return, setting them up for the superstar status they continue to enjoy.

“At the end of Toys, I had become a different player and Aerosmith was probably a different band,” Hamilton said in Walk This Way. “We knew this album would launch the band like a missile. I’d written two of the songs and finally was able to feel like I wasn’t fooling anybody anymore. It was an incredible time.”

“This was the year it all changed for us,” Tyler wrote in his memoir. “The album got good reviews and people started taking us more seriously — about fucking time!” But for Perry, Toys in the Attic’s success wasn’t necessarily a sign that Aerosmith had made it; instead, he seemed to feel a responsibility to try harder than ever.

“I wonder if I’m doing it right. If I’m actually contributing. Are we doing something good, or are we just followers?” Perry told Creem. “I don’t know. We can go the BTO route, be a really commercial band, do the road trip. But to satisfy my own artistic needs, I wonder if the things I write … maybe I’m not getting better on guitar. Maybe I’m no better than your average guitar player. But I’ll tell you — if I find out after a year or so more that I’m not improving, I’ll just quit touring and work on my cars.”

A new collection, Bob Dylan—1970, the first widely available pressing of a three-disc set of long-sought-after studio recordings many of which feature George Harrison, has been released by Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings in the U.S. on February 26, 2021. (It’s U.K. release has been delayed until March 19th.) By ploughing through the roots of Bob Dylan’s storied legacy, Sony/Legacy’s official bootleg series has brought Dylan devotees the backstory of some of the most daring and dramatic episodes and interludes of the Bob’s 60-year career. While the outtakes and rarities have rarely been the equal of the official offerings, they’ve continued to provide a fascinating glimpse into the musical undertow that helped bring those milestones through to fruition. 

The latest in that series (curiously, the “Bootleg Series” handle doesn’t appear on this set) retraces much of the music covered on earlier installment of the series, Another Self Portrait, sharing early incarnations of songs.  The recordings on “Bob Dylan—1970″ were first released in a (very) limited edition as part of the Bob Dylan 50th Anniversary Collection copyright extension series (which began in 2012). That first batch sold out instantly. The 3-CD set, includes previously unreleased outtakes from the sessions that produced “Self Portrait” and “New Morning”, as well as the complete May 1st, 1970, studio recordings with his future bandmate Harrison, which capture the pair performing together on nine tracks, including Dylan originals (“One Too Many Mornings,” “Gates of Eden,” “Mama, You Been On My Mind”), covers (including the Everly Brothers’ “All I Have to Do Is Dream,” Carl Perkins’ “Matchbox,” The Beatles’ “Yesterday”) and more.

Consequently, many of the tracks included in this three CD set consist of early takes of songs that would eventually emerge on the latter (multiple run-throughs of “Went To See the Gypsy,” “Time Passes Slowly,” “Sign on the Window” and “If Not for You” dominate these discs overall) and candidates for tracks that might have made it to the latter—Buffy Saint-Marie’s “Universal Soldier,” Eric Andersen’s “Thirsty Boots” and Tom Paxton’s “I Can’t Help But Wonder Where I’m Bound,” along with any number of traditional tunes. 

Bob revisits a few of his own oldies as well—“I Don’t Believe You,” “One Too Man Mornings,” “Gates of Eden,” “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues,” “I Threw It All Away,” “Song To Woody,” and “If Not For You,” songs that span the breadth of his catalogue up until that point. Why he chose to retrace these tunes is a bit of a mystery, but one might assume they were intended as warm-up rehearsals for the players involved.

Two offerings in particular would seem of special interest, “Untitled 1970 Instrumental #1” and “Untitled 1970 Instrumental #2,” a pair of unfinished efforts that could have emerged as songs of significance had he chosen to complete them. The majority of these run-throughs come across as surprisingly complete and cohesive, with Dylan investing a full measure of sentiment and sensitivity. That’s especially evident on such songs as the aforementioned “Thirsty Boots” and “Universal Soldier.” There are off-handed moments as well, as heard  on “Little Moses,” where his back-up singers mug their way while over-exaggerating their contribution. 

Still, the biggest lure might be the inclusion of those fabled heretofore lost sessions with George Harrison which took place when Harrison came for a visit to Dylan’s Woodstock retreat. While Harrison’s presence will likely claim the lion’s share of attention, the tracks that find his participation are somewhat slight overall. His backing vocals and guitar contributions are somewhat negligible, even frivolous, as Harrison appears to defer to Dylan in each instance. (The exceptions lie in Harrison’s solo on “Mama You’ve Been On My Mind,” which is both expansive and expressive in equal measure, and Harrison’s heartfelt harmonies on “It AIn’t Me. Babe.”) Likewise, it’s somewhat strange that there’s no evidence of their collaboration on their co-credited “If Not For You.” Given the informal setting, those expecting some sort of regal revelation would best focus on the Traveling Wilburys recordings that arrived nearly two decades later. On the other hand, given the near mythical stature that these legendary Dylan-Harrison sessions have attained over the past five decades, compulsive collectors will find any inclusion welcome regardless.

The collection includes numerous takes of Dylan’s “If Not for You.” Several months after these sessions, Harrison recorded the song for his “All Things Must Pass” album, which was released at the end of the year. “Bob Dylan—1970″ comes housed in an eight-panel digipack featuring new cover art and liner notes by Michael Simmons. See the complete track listing and hear some other songs below the links.

Personnel: Bob Dylan – vocals, guitar, piano, harmonica George Harrison – guitar, vocals (Disc 1, Tracks 20 & 24 and Disc 2, Tracks 2-3, 6-7, 10-11, & 16) Bob Johnston – piano (Disc 1, Tracks 24-25 and Disc 2, Tracks 1-3) Charlie Daniels – bass Russ Kunkel – drums David Bromberg – guitar, dobro, mandolin Ron Cornelius – guitar Al Kooper – organ Charlie Daniels – bass, guitar Russ Kunkel – drums Buzzy Feiten – guitar

“The Times They Are a-Changin’” is the third studio album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released in January 1964 by Columbia Records. Some critics and fans were not quite as taken with the album as a whole, relative to his previous work, for its lack of humour or musical diversity. Still, The Times They Are a-Changin’ entered the US chart at No20, eventually going gold, and belatedly reaching #4 in the UK in 1965.  The title track is one of Dylan’s most famous; many feel that it captures the spirit of social and political upheaval that characterized the 1960s.

Produced by Tom Wilson, it is the singer-songwriter’s first collection to feature only original compositions.  Whereas his previous albums Bob Dylan and The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan consisted of original material among cover songs, The album consists mostly of stark, sparsely-arranged ballads concerning issues such as racism, poverty, and social change. The title track is one of Dylan’s most famous; many felt that it captured the spirit of social and political upheaval that characterized the 1960s. The message isn’t in the words, …. I don’t do anything with a sort of message. I’m just transferring my thoughts into music. Nobody can give you a message like that.
~Bob Dylan (to Ray Coleman, May 1965)

Dylan’s third album reflects his mood in August-October 1963. It is also a product for his need to live up to and expand on the role he found himself in, topical poet, the restless young man with something to say, singing to and for a new generation. Dylan began work on his third album on August 6th, 1963, at Columbia’s Studio A in New York City. Once again, Tom Wilson was the producer for the entire album. Dylan had, by the time of recording, become a popular, influential cultural figure. Eight songs were recorded during that first session, but only one recording of “North Country Blues” was ultimately deemed usable and set aside as the master take. A master take of “Seven Curses” was also recorded, but it was left out of the final album sequence.

Another session at Studio A was held the following day, this time yielding master takes for four songs: “Ballad of Hollis Brown”, “With God on Our Side”, “Only a Pawn in Their Game”, and “Boots of Spanish Leather”, all of which were later included on the final album sequence.

A third session was held in Studio A on August 12th, but nothing from this session was deemed usable. However, three recordings are taken from the third session eventually saw official release: “master” takes of “Paths of Victory”, “Moonshine Blues” and “Only a Hobo” were all included on The Bootleg Series Volumes 1–3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961–1991 released in 1991. In 2013, “Eternal Circle” and “Hero Blues” were included in the 1963 entry of The 50th Anniversary Collection 1963.

Sessions did not resume for more than two months. During the interim, Dylan toured briefly with Joan Baez, performing a number of key concerts that raised his profile in the media. When Dylan returned to Studio A on October 23rd, he had six more original compositions ready for recording. Master takes for “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” and “When the Ship Comes In” were both culled from the October 23rd session. A master take for “Percy’s Song” was also recorded, but it was ultimately set aside and was not officially released until Biograph in 1985.

An alternate take on “Percy’s Song”, a “That’s All Right” (Arthur Crudup)/“Sally Free and Easy” (Cyril Tawney) medley and “East Laredo Blues” were released in 2013 on the 1963 entry of The 50th Anniversary Collection. Another session was held the following day, October 24th. Master takes of “The Times They Are a-Changin'” and “One Too Many Mornings” were recorded and later included in the final album sequence. A master take for “Lay Down Your Weary Tune” was also recorded, but ultimately left out of the final album; it was eventually released on Biograph. Two more outtakes, “Eternal Circle” and “Suze (The Cough Song)”, were later issued on The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961-1991. A final outtake, “New Orleans Rag”, was released in 2013 on “The 50th Anniversary Collection”.

The sixth and final session for The Times They Are a-Changin’ was held on October 31st, 1963. The entire session focused on one song—“Restless Farewell”—whose melody is taken from an Irish-Scots folk song, “The Parting Glass”, and it produced a master take that ultimately closed the album.

There were to be 6 recording sessions alltogether for The Times They Are a-Changin’.

If “The Times They Are a-Changin’” isn’t a marked step forward from The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, even if it is his first collection of all originals, it’s nevertheless a fine collection all the same. It isn’t as rich as Freewheelin’, and Dylan has tempered his sense of humour considerably, choosing to concentrate on social protests in the style of “Blowin’ in the Wind.” With the title track, he wrote an anthem that nearly equaled that song, and “With God on Our Side” and “Only a Pawn in Their Game” are nearly as good, while “Ballad of Hollis Brown” and “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” are remarkably skilled re-castings of contemporary tales of injustice. His absurdity is missed, but he makes up for it with the wonderful “One Too Many Mornings” and “Boots of Spanish Leather,” two lovely classics.

On October 26th, 1963, three days after recording the final song for The Times They Are a-Changin, Dylan held a concert at New York’s Carnegie Hall. That night, he performed eight songs from his forthcoming third album, as well as several outtakes from the same album sessions (including “Percy’s Song”, “Seven Curses”, and “Lay Down Your Weary Tune”). Columbia recorded the entire concert, but it was decades before a substantial portion of it was officially released (in fact to date the concert in its entirety has not been released). Nevertheless, the performance was well received by the press and audience alike

If there are a couple of songs that don’t achieve the level of the aforementioned songs, that speaks more to the quality of those songs than the weakness of the remainder of the record. And that’s also true of the album itself — yes, it pales next to its predecessor, but it’s terrific by any other standard.

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In recent weeks, musicians have come up with an impressive variety of ways to keep their fans amused during lockdown. There have been online listening parties and Q&As, free guitar lessons via Instagram, live performances beamed direct from bedrooms, DJ sets and kitchen discos. But no artist has risen to the task of keeping their audience occupied quite like Bob Dylan. A crowdpleaser only in sofar as the crowd he attracts would be pleased whatever he did – a significant proportion of his latter-day audience are so partisan you get the feeling they’d be sent into paroxysms of ecstasy if he stood on stage with a comb and paper for two hours, he simply released three new songs. An artist who’s quite literally said nothing new for the last eight years (his last three albums have been comprised entirely of covers from the Great American Songbook, the rest of his release schedule made up of archival recordings).

The first, “Murder Most Foul”, went on for 17 minutes and sounded unlike anything he had previously recorded, a recitation set to a haze of piano, violin and lightly struck drums. The second, “I Contain Multitudes”, was significantly shorter and more conventional – a delicate, percussion-free ballad – but still contained enough lyrical heft to provoke news stories: within a week of its release, the British press was triumphantly reporting that someone had cracked the mention of the Irish village of Ballinalee in its first verse, tapping a Harvard professor to attest that it was a reference to the work of a blind 18th-century poet called Antoine Ó Raifteirí. The third, “False Prophet”, was a ferocious blues song, the latest in a series of adaptations of other artists’ material that stretches back to the dawn of Dylan’s career: this time a 1954 B-side by Billy “The Kid” Emerson, an obscure R&B singer-songwriter once signed to Sun Records. In the lyrics, meanwhile, the search for the Holy Grail jostled for space with characters from old rock’n’roll songs – Ricky Nelson’s Mary Lou, Jimmy Wages’ Miss Pearl – recast in the role that Virgil played in Dante’s Inferno: “fleet-footed guides from the underworld”. Clearly, the task of unpicking everything that was going on in the lyrics would keep Dylanologists indoors long after lockdown ended.
Perhaps more importantly, they were the kind of Dylan songs that brooked very little argument about their quality, the kind of Dylan song you could play to a Dylan agnostic as testament to his continued greatness. This is a category of material that’s been a little thinner on the ground on his latest albums than their more hysterical reviews would suggest: for all the hosannahs thrown in its direction, it was entirely possible to listen to 2012’s Tempest and be alternately thrilled by the furious power of Pay in Blood and faintly mortified by Roll on John, a Lennon tribute that strung Beatles lyrics together in a way that would make Noel Gallagher blush.

Happily, the standard set by the three tracks that heralded its arrival is kept up all the way through Rough and Rowdy Ways. The musical abstraction of Murder Most Foul turns out to be a feint: tellingly it occupies a separate disc to the rest of the album when the whole thing could easily have fitted on one CD. The rest almost exclusively deals in music that hails from the era before Dylan showed up and changed everything: with the possible exception of the lambent penultimate track, Key West (Philosopher Pirate), which carries a faint hint of The Basement Tapes about its sound – albeit with an accordion filling the space Garth Hudson’s organ would have done – everything else feels directly rooted in the 50s or earlier.

There’s a lot of rhythm and blues, while I’ve Made Up My Mind to Give Myself to You sets its utterly beautiful descending melody to a sound that carries traces of both small-hours doo-wop and pre-rock’n’roll pop. The musical inspiration behind Goodbye Jimmy Reed is obvious from its title, but by the third verse, Dylan doesn’t seem to be talking about the titular bluesman so much as himself when forced to face down the various expectations that audiences have attached to him virtually from the moment he first appeared: “They threw everything at me, everything in the book … they had no pity, they wouldn’t lend a hand, I can’t sing a song I don’t understand.”

These are musical areas in which Dylan has worked for years. What sets Rough and Rowdy Ways apart from Tempest or 2006’s Modern Times is the sheer consistency of the songwriting; there’s nothing here that sounds like dashed-off filler, nothing that doesn’t hit home. Dylan nuts have a great line in telling you how hilarious lyrics that seem capable of raising at best a wry smile are – “Freddie or not, here I come”, “I’m not dead yet, my bell still rings” etc – but My Own Version, in which the protagonist turns Frankenstein and builds himself a lover out of bits of corpses, is packed with genuinely funny lines amid the references to Shakespeare, Homer’s Iliad, Bo Diddley and Martin Scorsese, as well as a curious interlude during which Freud and Marx are depicted as “enemies of mankind” burning in hell: “All through the summers into January, I’ve been visiting morgues and monasteries … if I do it right and put the head on straight, I’ll be saved by the creature that I create.”

This is obviously humour of a dark hue: if Tempest’s prevalent mood was one of murderous fury, then here it’s brooding menace and imminent doom. It’s there in the music – the weird tension in Crossing the Rubicon’s muted R&B shuffle and the way the backing on Black Rider keeps lapsing into ominous silence. You lose count of the lyrical references to judgment day and Armageddon, of the mysterious characters that keep cropping up with malevolence on their minds: “I can feel the bones beneath my skin and they’re trembling with rage, I’ll make your wife a widow, you’ll never see middle age,” he sings on Crossing the Rubicon. Of course, grouchily informing the world that everything is turning to shit has been one of Dylan’s prevalent songwriting modes for a quarter of a century – it’s the thread that binds Not Dark Yet, Things Have Changed, Ain’t Talkin’ and Early Roman Kings, among others – but this time the message seems to have shifted slightly: if you think everything has turned to shit now, Rough and Rowdy Ways keeps insisting, just you wait.

This isn’t perhaps the most comforting communique to issue in the middle of a global pandemic, but then the man behind it has seldom dealt in soothing reassurance. And besides, it doesn’t matter. For all its bleakness, Rough and Rowdy Ways might well be Bob Dylan’s most consistently brilliant set of songs in years: the die-hards can spend months unravelling the knottier lyrics, but you don’t need a PhD in Dylanology to appreciate its singular quality and power.

Rough and Rowdy Ways is released on Columbia on 19th June.

Just when it looked like Bob Dylan was settling into a semi-retirement of regular touring punctuated by strangely reverent standards collections, he comes careening back into the spotlight with his best album in a decade, if not two. Bracketed by deeply referential mirage-like epics “I Contain Multitudes” and “Murder Most Foul,” Rough And Rowdy Ways fills out its run time with a career-spanning assortment of sounds, from stately ballads to stomping roadhouse blues. He also proclaims, “Key West is the place to be if you’re looking for immortality” — and if anyone could speak authoritatively on that subject, it’s Bob Dylan.

“Rough and Rowdy Ways” is Bob Dylan’s first album of original new material in 8 years and his first since becoming the only songwriter to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature, in 2016. Its 10 tracks include the three new songs released this spring: the album’s lead-off track, “I Contain Multitudes”, the nearly 17-minute epic “Murder Most Foul” and “False Prophet”. This is Dylan back to his best, and not a Sinatra cover in sight.

Sharp and precise in its references, descriptions, and personal confessions, Bob Dylan’s Rough and Rowdy Ways is thematically universal and powerfully prescient, in many ways acting as the culminating expression of the apocalyptic spirituality that’s preoccupied Dylan since his earliest recordings. It’s also a masterpiece of mood as much as lyrical poetry, and as stunningly and surprisingly atmospheric as many of the major musical achievements in a career more associated with monumental song writing than sonic mastery. This is an album that showcases a similar comprehensive spectrum of ideas, attitudes, citations, perspectives, stories, and jokes as Dylan’s greatest recordings. True, many of these are grave, but the few hopeful spots—like “I’ve Made Up My Mind to Give Myself to You” and “Key West (Pirate Philosopher)”—are well-earned and, quite simply, beautiful. Latter-day Dylan is the man behind “To Make You Feel My Love” as well as “Not Dark Yet,” and along with dispensing fire and brimstone, Rough and Rowdy Ways keeps romantic and spiritual faith alive, through both the fervour of unshaken convictions concerning the high stakes of the soul as well a basic yearning for love, companionship, and peace. As with his best work, the album encompasses the infinite potential for grace and disaster that can be clearly discerned but rarely summarized in the most turbulent of ages.

It’s Dylan’s 39th studio album and his first long-player of original material in eight years (the last being Tempest in 2012).

Bob Dylan new album for release on CD on 19th June 2020 and double vinyl LP on 17th July.The maestro’s first album of original new material since since 2012’s “Tempest”.
2CD and 2LP formats available to pre-order now.
Web site prices include UK shipping, the print and CD package will be shipped in a larger card envelope than a normal CD.
( UK shipping is tracked and insured for vinyl formats )
The 10 track album contains the fantastic “Murder Most Foul” and the newly released single “False Prophet”.

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Happy birthday to the great Taj Mahal who turns 78 today. Taj is a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who has been performing and recording for 50 years. Primarily a Blues singer, he has incorporated elements of world music into his works, including sounds from the Caribbean, Africa, and South Pacific. He formed a group called the Rising Sons in 1964 with Ry Cooder and Jesse Lee Kincaid. A record deal with Columbia Records was unfruitful, perhaps because the group was one of the first interracial bands. Mahal worked with other musicians like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Buddy Guy, and Lightnin’ Hopkins, before beginning his solo career with the eponymous Taj Mahal long-player in 1968. His follow-up “Natch’l Blues,” became a part of my collection in 1969 – loved the playing on “Corrina,” and “The Cuckoo,”, and wore it out. Taj also performed with The Rolling Stones’ Rock and Roll Circus at the end of 1968.

Taj Mahal’s second album, recorded in the spring and fall of 1968, opens with more stripped-down Delta-style blues in the manner of his debut, but adds a little more amplification (partly courtesy of Al Kooper on organ) before moving into wholly bigger sound on numbers like “She Caught the Katy and Left Me a Mule to Ride” and “The Cuckoo” — the latter, in particular, features crunchy electric and acoustic guitars and Gary Gilmore playing his bass almost like a lead instrument, like a bluesman’s answer to John Entwistle most notable, however, may be “You Don’t Miss Your Water (‘Til Your Well Runs Dry)” and “Ain’t That a Lot of Love,” which offer Taj Mahal working in the realm of soul and treading onto This is particularly notable on “You Don’t Miss Your Water,” which achieves the intensity of a gospel performance and comes complete with a Stax/Volt-style horn arrangement Jesse Ed Davis that sounds more like the real thing than the real thing. “Ain’t That a Lot of Love,” by contrast, is driven by a hard electric guitar sound and a relentless bass part that sounds like a more urgent version of the bassline from the Spencer Davis Group’s “Gimme Some Lovin’.”

He recorded 12 albums in all for Columbia during the 70s and 80s, and also recorded three albums for Warner Brothers. His career stalled afterward, and he moved to Hawaii, where he worked throughout the 80s. He released more albums in the 90s. collaborating with both Eric Clapton and Etta James.
In 1997, he won Best Contemporary Blues album for “Senor Blues” at the Grammy Awards, followed by another Grammy in 2000 for “Shoutin’ in Key.” Mahal has continued to record and perform with the likes of Bonnie Raitt, Joe Walsh, and Sheila E. In 2017, he worked with Keb Mo’ on a joint album TajMo.

Taj Mahal is a major artist who has travelled somewhat under the radar all these years. but make no mistake, he is a gifted musician whose albums are well worth searching out.

“The Cuckoo,” From his first Columbia album “The Natch’l Blues,”  comes this laid back gem from our Taj Mahal.
“You know the cuckoo is pretty bird/But she warble as she fly/But baby you never heard a cuckoo/Until the Fourth of July.”

“Good Morning Miss Brown” – Taj is all the way live as he rolls through the streets of the Big Easy. This guy has to be one of the coolest cats alive with a resume that could stretch down Bourbon Street. Originally from his second album on Columbia, “The Natch’l Blues,” in 1969 it was the beginning of a 50+ year career that is still going strong.

BobDylan FalseProphet Spotify

Bob Dylan has been on a roll, getting us through lockdown with new singles that find him as clever and compelling as ever. On Thursday evening, May 7th, the Bob Dylan Twitter account posted another cryptic tweet – complete with a pulp book-inspired illustration and a lyric quote – which had fans everywhere wondering if we might get another treat to tide us over.

Well, come midnight, we got our answer as another new song “False Prophet” was released on digital streaming services. The third surprise single in what’s become a triweekly tradition, “False Prophet” is a departure from the more atmospheric “Murder Most Foul” and “I Contain Multitudes.”  The new track is a rollicking and bluesy, guitar-heavy track with intense and growling vocals from Dylan. As if a new single weren’t enough, Dylan also announced his first album of new original material in eight years.  Due out June 19th on Columbia Records, Rough and Rowdy Ways will be a ten-song, two-CD affair.

The album opens with “I Contain Multitudes,” followed by “False Prophet,” then by seven as-yet-unknown tracks.  The epic “Murder Most Foul” will be included on its own on CD 2.  The two discs will be housed in a 4-panel, 2-pocket gatefold digipak. A 2-LP edition will also be pressed up, boasting 180-gram vinyl, gatefold packaging, and printed inner sleeves.  That configuration is set to arrive July 17th.  And for those readers who may have ventured into streaming during lockdown, the album will be released across digital platforms, too, on the same day as the CD.

So mark your calendars for June 19th for this much-welcome gift from Bob Dylan, Rough and Rowdy Ways.

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Delaney & Bonnie were the American musical duo of singer/songwriters Delaney Bramlett and Bonnie Bramlett. In 1969 and 1970, they fronted a rock/soul ensemble, Delaney & Bonnie and Friends, whose members at different times included Duane Allman, Gregg Allman, George Harrison, Leon Russell, Bobby Whitlock, Dave Mason, Rita Coolidge, King Curtis, and Eric Clapton.

Bonnie Bramlett, started as a backing singer for blues artists that included Little Milton, Albert King and Fontella Bass and gained attention as a history maker as being the first white Ikette for Ike & Tina Turner. Wanting to spread her wings she moved to Los Angeles, met up with Delaney Bramlett who was with The Shindogs and married him just days after their first meeting in 1967. Their daughter Bekka who was born the following year is herself an extremely successful singer. She and her husband became the duo Delaney & Bonnie who became one of the first successful white R&B acts and soon they would tour with Eric Clapton and perform with artists such as Dave Mason, Rita Coolidge , Leon Russell, Duane Allman, John Lennon and George Harrison where they would be known as Delaney & Bonnie & Friends. Seeing success in the charts the songs they are most known for now are possible “Only You Know and I Know” and “Never-Ending Song of Love”.

Also following her own solo career, she and Leon Russell co-wrote the song “Give Peace a Chance” and “Groupie” which would change it’s name to “Superstar” and be a huge 1971 hit for The Carpenters.

Delaney Bramlett passed away in December 2008, He learned the guitar in his youth. He moved to Los Angeles in 1959 where he became a session musician. His most notable early work was as a member of the Shindogs, the house band for the ABC-TV series Shindig! (1964–66), which also included guitarist and keyboardist Leon Russell. He was the first artist signed to Independence Records.

She and Delaney divorced in 1973.

Delaney Bramlett and Leon Russell had many connections in the music business through their work in the Shindogs and formed a band of solid, if transient, musicians around Delaney & Bonnie. The band became known as “Delaney & Bonnie and Friends”, because of its regular changes of personnel. They secured a recording contract with Stax Records and completed work on their first album, Home, in 1968.

 

D&B Together

The title of this album’s more than a little ironic because the principals’ had separated before the end of a series of events during which the record’s original configuration, titled Country Life, was refused release and the couple’s contract was transferred to Columbia Records.Ultimately released with a modified track sequence,  the dozen cuts include what’s arguably their most famous number, “Comin’ Home” (its guitar refrain courtesy Clapton), a bonafide hit of their own in the form of Dave Mason’s “Only You Know And I Know,” plus the original version of a song  subsequently made famous (in a decidedly sterilized interpretation) by The Carpenters, “Groupie (Superstar).”Reaffirmed with the addition of half a dozen bonus tracks, the gospel and r&b elements of Delaney and Bonnie’s musical approach are in full-flower here, as well as a stylistic departure in the form of the original title cut that, as a baroque waltz adorned with strings, might well have allowed for further expansion of the pair’s already eclectic style.

D&B Together 1972 album was their last album of new material, as Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett would divorce soon after its release. Although released by Columbia/CBS (catalog no. KC 31377), D&B Together was actually recorded for the Atco/Atlantic label, under the working title Country Life. According to his autobiography Rhythm and the Blues, Atlantic executive Jerry Wexler was dissatisfied with the album’s quality upon its delivery to the label, and, upon investigating the situation and discovering Delaney and Bonnie were splitting up, sold their contract – including this album’s master tapes – to CBS. CBS reordered the running sequence of the album. On reflecting on the matter in 2003, Delaney Bramlett was quoted as saying “I thought [D&B Together] was a fine piece of work, so did Bonnie. Unfortunately, Jerry Wexler didn’t agree.”

Delaney and Bonnie’s “Friends” of the band’s 1969-70 heyday also had considerable impact. After the early 1970 breakup of this version of the band, Leon Russell recruited many of its ex-members, excepting Delaney, Bonnie and singer/keyboardist Bobby Whitlock, to join Joe Cocker’s band, participating on Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen recording sessions and North American tour (March–May 1970; Rita Coolidge’s version of “Groupie (Superstar)” was recorded with this band while on tour). Whitlock meanwhile joined Clapton at his home in Surrey, UK, where they wrote songs and decided to form a band, which two former “Friends”/Cocker band members, bassist Carl Radle and drummer Jim Gordon, would later join. As Derek And The Dominos, they recorded the landmark album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (1970) with assistance on many tracks from another former “Friend,” lead/slide guitarist Duane Allman. Derek and the Dominos also constituted the core backing band on George Harrison’s vocal debut album All Things Must Pass (1970) with assistance from still more former “Friends”: Dave Mason, Bobby Keys and Jim Price.

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Copperhead was a band organized by guitarist John Cipollina after he left Quicksilver Messenger Service in 1970. Cipollina, who had been a member of Quicksilver since its formation and whose lead guitar playing was its signature sound, had grown increasingly dissatisfied after the return of band founder Dino Valenti from a prison term, when the group grew larger and he found he had less space to play. He had also grown increasingly interested in playing sessions, which the band discouraged. The early days of Copperhead were casual, with the group consisting of a loose aggregation of people playing gigs with Cipollina. Eventually it coalesced into a quartet consisting of Cipolliana on lead guitar; Gary Philippet on vocals, second guitar, and organ; Jim McPherson on vocals, bass, and piano; and David Weber on drums. The group was initially signed to the Just Sunshine label run by Michael Lang, one of the organizers of Woodstock.

Cipollina had a unique guitar sound, mixing solid state and valve amplifiers as early as 1965. He is considered one of the fathers of the San Francisco psychedelic rock sound.

But in 1972 it was signed to a major-label record deal by Clive Davis at Columbia and recorded its debut album, Copperhead, released in the spring of 1973. Unfortunately, Davis was fired from Columbia shortly after the album’s release, an action that doomed any developing band that had been signed under his aegis. The album went nowhere, and when Columbia refused to release their second album, Copperhead folded. Cipollina went on to play in many different bands before dying in 1989. 

Cipollina formed the band Copperhead with early Quicksilver member Jim Murray (musician) (who was soon to leave for Maui, Hawaii), former Stained Glass member Jim McPherson, drummer David Weber, Gary Phillipet (AKA Gary Phillips (keyboardist), later a member of Bay Area bands Earthquake and The Greg Kihn Band), and Pete Sears. Sears was shortly thereafter replaced by current Bonnie Raitt bassist James “Hutch” Hutchinson who played on the Copperhead LP and stayed with the band for its duration. Sears went on to play with the original Jefferson Starship and later Hot Tuna. During the 80s Cipollina performed with a number of configurations, including Fish & Chips, with Barry Melton, Thunder and Lightning, with Nick Gravenites, the Dinosaurs, and Problem Child. He was a founding member of Zero and its rhythm guitarist until his death. Most often these bands played club gigs, mostly in the San Francisco Bay Area, where Cipollina remained well-known to aficionados as among the great psychedelic guitarists. His style influenced many upcoming younger players, including Trey Anastasio of Phish.

Jeff Lynne will release the 14th Electric Light Orchestra album, From Out of Nowhere, on November 1st via Columbia Records. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee previewed the LP , the second billed under the moniker “Jeff Lynne’s ELO” following 2015’s Alone in the Universe — with the dreamy title track.

“From Out of Nowhere” conjures vintage ELO, minus the symphonic edge of the band’s layered keyboards and strings. “Let me go, let me fly to a place that I love,” Lynne croons over a jangling, descending guitar progression and steady, choppy drums. “Let me fly away and start anew.

ELO recently concluded their second North American tour since 1981, featuring Dhani Harrison as opener. Lynne, the band’s singer-songwriter, performed virtually every instrument on the new record — just as he did on Alone in the Universe. Accordingly he played “nearly every note of the music on guitars, bass, piano, drums, keyboards and vibes, as well as singing all of the lead and layered harmony vocals,” with engineer Steve Jay “[adding] some percussion.”

“From Out of Nowhere — that’s exactly where it came from,” Lynne said in a statement. “That’s the first one I wrote for this album, and it’s kind of like that.” He noted that he was aiming to spread optimism with both the song and album: “Everybody’s got to have a bit of hope.”