26 Rock Around the World • October. 1976
REFLECTIONS IN A VINYL DISC
DWIGHT TWILLEY BAND “Sincerely”
The Dwight Twilley Band really rocks with originality and vitality. . like Greg Kihn, the Flamin’ Groovies, Todd, Nils, Eric Carmen, Jonathan Rickman & the Modern Lovers, the Ramonesspecial musicians who have all released special albums within the past twelve months. Dwight and his companions, Phil Seymour, Bill Pitcock, and Johnny Johnson had released two, hard-to-find singles prior to cutting the LP. The first, “I’m On Fire”, was heavily raved about among the word-of- mouth cognoscenti. . .1 never heard it ’til the album. The second release (which I did get), “You Were So Warm” b/w “Sincerely”, floored me immediately. . .the drum rolls were “boom-boom”—the voices, harmonious and pretty/tough—the guitars, fierce and bouncy. . .so far, so good. I put them on my list of rock & rollers to pull for and plug, if possible. . .a real contender, with an instinct for great singles.. .
Then, out of Tulsa came the album. . .so good, so far. Twilley’s band combines the exuberance of the Sixties’ heroes with the pop sensibilities of the Seventies. There is almost a Spectorish quality to many of the cuts dealing with romance and adolescent triumphs or traumas. Some of the songs even remind me of the early Elvis or the Everly Brothers, which is not intended as comparison, but mainly as an indication of their temperment and feel. It is to the band’s credit that they do maintain their own style while delivering the credo of “good-time rock & roll”. Music like this cannot be ignored. And, for our benefit, the Dwight Twilley Band will become even better. Watch out for/listen to this very talented group. . .they, too, are imminent.
Sincere recommendations: “You Were So Warm”, “I’m On Fire”, “Sincerely”, “Release Me”, “Three Persons”, etc… etc…
“Yes, We Have No Mananas,
So Get Your Mananas Today” Harvest SHSP 4057
. . .s.o.c.. . .having been a Kevin Ayers fan-atic forever (seemingly), having thoroughly assimilated his works, mentally and musically, from rare singles—from Soft
Machine demo-days— from solo excursions with other loon-atics, to his roguish philosophy and anti-commercialism expounded in everything he does. . . I feel I understand his desires and his traumas. . . his songs are so candid, yet cryptic—witty, yet intuitive. . .his melodies are simple, attractive, and keenly different—almost progressive. . .his endless preoccupation with bananas is a key to his charm (i.e. even a composed gent can be humbled with a slip on the skin. . . viva la banana), even to the title’s fabulous pun; although there is no mention of the fruit, its significance is felt in the lyrics. . .except now, the humbled man is Kevin himself.. . regarding his recent flung on Island Records (he’s back with his old label, Harvest), the emptiness in wanting to be a star has strengthened his style. . .much of the LP deals with love/life won/ lost. . .songs smack of a hurt composer soothing his qualms with reasons so clear—yet. “. .understanding doesn’t help at all. . .”; tunes are more carefully arranged with an exceptional vocal effort on Kevin’s part. . .1 always felt he fancies himself a crooner at heart (especially capable in a higher vocal register. . .hhmmmm, I’m almost inclined to say this is his best album in almost three years (excluding “Old Ditties”, a rare track compilation). . .apparently, he has stepped back and reassessed himself and his music. . . his new determination, evident throughout the album, is sterling and touching. . .as a phantom-friendfrom-boston, u.s.a., Kevin, I hope “.. . Mananas. Mananas” gets released here today. . . .oh, by the way, Kevin’s main axe-man on the album is 011ie Halsall .. I have been following his career since Patto. . .like Kevin, 011ie has a long heritage— he’s now in Boxer (see r.a.t.w. No. 3) . . .his lead guitar dexterity on the entire LP is his finest to date. Period.
Heavenly ayres: “Star”, “Love’s Gonna Turn You Round”, “Yes I Do”, “Blue”.
“Gottle O’Geer” Island ILPS 9389
A I It. I’ R
This is a transitional album. While the new Fairport (no longer Fairport Convention) line-up is listed on the back of the album jacket, it must be noted that the new members contribute little to the proceedings here. Dave Swarbrick, Dave Pegg and Bruce Rowland are the only members staying on from the last incarnation of Fairport Convention. They’re assisted on this album by numerous guests including Martin Carthy, Gallagher and Lyle, Simon Nicol and Henry Lowther. Two of the new members, Roger Burridge and Bob Brady assist on vocals, but they’re hardly noticeable.
Originally seen as a Swarbrick solo vehicle, this is now the debut “Fairport” LP. It contains attempts at many different styles,
some highly removed from the Fairport Convention sound of old. Only two traditional tunes are included here, and these are the only tracks besides a song by Sandy Denny sounding much at all like the old band. “When First Into This Country”, the opening track and one of the traditional songs, has a good-timey feel and “The Frog Up The Pump” is a bouncy fiddle tune done with an effective but sparse arrangement.
“Don’t Be Late” a Swarbrick/Howland composition leading off side two has a strong blues and r&b feeling enhanced by the use of brass. “Cropredy Capers” has a disco-funk rhythm track over which Swarbrick can be heard on dulcimer and fiddle. The track is cute but I doubt that anyone will really go for it. The closing track, “Limey’s Lament”, is a song that simply is a rapid series of images of the United States, no doubt culled from Fairport Convention’s several stateside trips.
On first listen, this may seem a disappointment to long time fans of Fairport Convention, who might have been hoping for another Liege and Leif or Full House. However, Gottle O’Geer is certainly up to the usual high level of quality for a Fairport Convention LP, it’s just different.
Unfortunately, Fairport was recently dropped by Island records, and Cottle O’Geer is thus the band’s last record for them. The group is now looking for a new label and going ahead with plans for a full dress tour of England.
What happens when you take four minor flames and stick them together? Sometimes a burst of glorious light (C.S.N.&Y.), sometimes an annoying glare (K.G.B.) but more often just a flickering, sputtering half neon sign.
AMERICAN FLYER is just such a conflagrating configuration. Grouping together Eric Kaz (Blues Magoos and songwriter par excellance), Steve Katz (Blues Project, B.S.&T.), Doug Yule
(Velvet Underground) and Craig
Fuller (the Original Pure Prairie League) looked like a great idea. Having George Martin (Beatles to America) produce it would seem to cinch it. But no such luck. Even the best planned fireworks sometimes sputter. American Flyer only occasionally gets off the ground.
As a total album, American Flyer’s debut is innocuous enough, pleasant and melodic. But instead of a new, cohesive group sound, the end result of the pairing is four mini-Ips shotgunned together, not unlike ‘Abbey Rd.’ in spirit. Everybody gets at least two shots but they all are aimed at different targets.
The sharpshooter, surprisingly enough, is Craig Fuller. Both “The Woman In Your Heart” and “Call Me, Tell Me” are great
songs and consequently get Martin’s most inspired and pleasing arrangements and production work. The best bet for a single, “Let Me Down Easy,” is rich and alive and again it’s Fuller (along with Eric Kaz).
But the efforts by Steve Katz are the most disappointing and prove why he has never been noted as an outstanding writer before. A tribute to some lost ladyfriend with the initial “M” is embarrassing enough to recall that even Oedipus had more restraint than to publicize the thing. If only it were to Fritz Lang instead.
The Doug Yule tunes are interesting and well done, especially the calypso “Queen Of All My Days” (not dedicated to anyone in particular, sorry Lou) which after many plays, comes out as the best tune of the Ip; however, its big city flavor differs sharply from Fuller’s Midwest west (ala Dearborn’s Glenn Frey).
The Eric Kaz material is his usual half finished gems that await some inspired female singer. “Drive Away” especially has promise.
Overall though. American Flyer’s initial effort is too little too soon. Not even George Martin’s usual solid professionalism can hide the hurry and haste that haunt this 1p. Nice enough not to offend, empty enough to disappoint. with hints of future promise from the teaming of Fuller and Kaz but it’s not a new group, it’s only a new grouping. For now, these four flames are only flickering.
It’s difficult to come to terms with the fact that this is the ninth album from the musical organization known as The Soft Machine; what complicates matters is the absence of such wild-eyed visionaries as Kevin Ayers, Robert Wyatt, Elton Dean, Hugh Hopper and now Mike Ratledge from the current `Softs’ line-up.
It’s 1972, and the sixth Soft Machine album has just been released; instead of the stark yet lustrous black cover of “5” and the farrlung musical ideas contained within, the avid Softs fan was confronted with some quite curious graphics and the presence of Karl Jenkins, fresh from Ian Carr’s Nucleus, on oboe, assorted saxophones, electric and grand piano and effects. His addition became Soft Machine’s Rubicon, as the band rotated away from Mike Ratledge’s exploratory wanderings towards a more traditional (read ‘structured’) format favored by Karl Jenkins. No great problem, there; The Softs had weathered drastic shifts in approach before. The thing they had going for them when Karl Jenkins joined the band was the ability to retain their virtuosity while playing a style of music that was becoming increasingly more popular
That virtuosity held them in good stead through the seventh and eighth albums, as a guitarist (Alan Holdsworth) joined the band, then abruptly left. Mike Ratledge finally felt the call of the wild, leaving The Softs during the recording of this album. His departure has had a domino-like effect on the sound of the band, as Karl Jenkins now concentrates on keyboards (especially grand piano), Rick Wakeman’s brother Alan has joined as reed player, and John Ethridge, refugee from Wolf, is the new guitarist, bringing with him more of a rock sensibility than The Soft Machine has ever had.
Make no mistake about this album; it’s a whole other ball of wax. It measures up quite favorably as both a jazz and a rock album; whether it’s the darkly compelling grand piano of “Out Of Season”, or the guitar explosives of “The Tale Of Talesin”, this Soft Machine has put it together with a flair that reflects the confidence of accomplished craftsmen. The Softs march on yet again—long live The Machine.
SOFT TOUCHES: Aubade, Ban-Ban Caliban, One Over The Eight, Second Bundle.
MOTT THE HOOPLE “Greatest Hits”
The dudes, the misjudged pretty boys, the working class heroes, the underdogs, the superstars
Mott the Hoople’s past has not run a smooth road—Ups and downs, ins and outs, great successes and depressing failures all apply to this group’s colorful history. It wasn’t easy. No overnight stardoms for Mott; they worked and worked hard for what they did, for what they were, and for the punchy rock, sweet ballads, and rock’n’roll tales they left to us all.
MOTT THE HOOPLEGREATEST HITS is basically a collection of singles released by Mott during their years on Columbia. Other cuts, not released as singles come basically from the band’s much acclaimed masterpiece, MOTT.
Mott fans are Mott fans—so in America, the importance of this release lies generally with the two singles not releases in tltc U.9., “Saturday Gigs” (w/Mick Ronson) and “Foxy Foxy”, and with a different version of “Roll Away The Stone”, with Mick Ralphs on lead guitar instead of Ariel Bender. The selection of songs is excellent—this is a must for any collector, or (ahem) a new Mott the Hoople fan. It’s not hard to become one
This release is no eulogy—just receive it as a pleasantly powerful reminder of the unforgettable phenomenon that was and shall ever remain—Mott the Hoople.
114or1′ Tin it►►pt.1
C II E AT F. s ‘1’ urrs
AMERICAN FLYER “American Flyer” U.A. UALA 650-G
SOFT MACHINE “Softs”
Harvest SHSP 4056