Classic Rock Review

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Led Zeppelin Destroyer (Cleveland, April 1977)


Richfield Coliseum, Cleveland, OH – April 27th, 1977

Disc 1: The Song Remains The Same, Sick Again, Nobody’s Fault But Mine, In My Time Of Dying, Since I’ve Been Loving You, No Quarter

Disc 2: Ten Years Gone, The Battle Of Evermore, Going To California, Black Country Woman, Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp, White Summer / Black Mountain Side, Kashmir

Disc 3: Moby Dick, guitar solo, Achilles Last Stand, Stairway to Heaven, Rock And Roll, Trampled Underfoot

Led Zeppelin’s Destroyer concert received another release recently. This is a no-label release which follows an edition by the SODD label earlier this year. Compared to that one, the no label use a different source. The gain has been reduced making it softer in volume. Some may say this sounds more natural, but that is a subjective judgment according to one’s taste and it can at least be claimed this isn’t any worse than any other version. It does sound brighter with stable high frequencies and is considerably cleaner than other versions.

The opening of “The Song Remains The Same” and several minutes in the middle of “No Quarter” are still missing (the cut in the latter occurs at 5:10 and eliminates the first half of the improvisation where they must often played an up beat boogie before the proper and more somber solo.) There are also small tape flips in “White Summer” and during Jimmy Page’s guitar solo on disc three. It otherwise contains all of the music present. Ever since this tape first surfaced on vinyl it has been a rare perennial. According to the label, this release is sourced from first generation reels which were posted online in September. The notes that came with this version state:

“D.F. and I would coach the Seattle Kingdome video director (N.W.) on songs to be played at upcoming major shows. Basically he was “studying up” on song placement and solos to be expected. Having worked at both the Superdome and in Cleveland, N.W. had friends at other venues. He simply asked a friend working the show in Cleveland to get him a copy of the show and fire it off to us in Seattle. The guy brought in his home deck, walked up to the board, and being on the crew they plugged him in.

Just that simple. These reels are a direct copy of the master cassettes done in the early 80′s on a brand new Akai GX-77 reel deck using Maxell XLII tape at 7.5 ips and the rare EE equalization that the tape required. I personally have a better trust in this source than I do in the actual masters now. The masters still exist, but they aren’t going in the mail, and after so many years, I just think that 7.5 ips quarter inch reels are the best way to go. They may never have been played before Woodworker’s efforts. I kept a second “play” copy on Maxell UD reels for listening. This source is pristine, not one of the bootleg versions, not off crude cassette copies from me in the 80′s.”

Many Zeppelin collectors argue that this show is weak and not one of the better performances. Zeppelin partly relied upon the acoustics of the venue in which they were playing. Through clever use of echo in the background, that technique gives a mysterious ambiance giving the impression their music was coming out of the depth of chaos.

A dry mixing desk tape eliminates that part of the sound and its unforgiving nature can’t cover up the sloppy notes like a good audience recording can do. Listening through this tape, it is apparent there are no major disasters on stage and it reveals that the final weekend of the first third of their eleventh tour the band tightened up considerably when compared to the opening shows in Chicago.

“It’s great to be back…in more ways than one” Plant cryptically states before an version of “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” augmented by additional shouts and chants. Destroyer is packaged in a standard fatboy jewel case. The inserts are printed on shiny glossy paper. The design is very simple with several photos from the tour and a set list printed on the back. It certainly is one of the prettiest versions of the show in a while. It is limited to two hundred unnumbered copies and this is an excellent way to own a great version of the show on an authoritative silver edition.

April 14, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Destroyer | , | Leave a comment

Genesis All The Help I Can Get (Hammersmith rehearsals with Peter Gabriel, September 1982)


“Six Of The Best” Rehearsals, Hammersmith Odeon, London, UK – 29 September, 1982

Disc 1: Back In N.Y.C, Dancing With The Moonlight Knight – Take 1, Dancing With The Moonlit Knight – Take 2, The Carper Crawlers, Firth Of Fifth, The Musical Box, The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, Fly On A Windshield, Broadway Melody Of 1974

Disc 2: In The Cage Part 1, in The Cage Part 2, Supper’s Ready, The Knife, Solsbury Hill – Take 1, Solsbury Hill – Take 2, Solsbury Hill – Take 3

As is well known, vocalist Peter Gabriel left Genesis after The lamb Lies Down On Broadway Tour in 1975, the band subsequently becoming a quartet with drummer Phil Collins assuming vocal duties. Guitarist Steve Hackett had also jumped ship by 1977, leaving the remaining trio to transform itself from a progressive rock band into a mainstream pop group. These developments necessitated the recruitment of additional touring members, Bill Bruford and then Chester Thompson on drums and Daryl Stuermer on guitar and bass.

Meanwhile, Gabriel had not only been releasing solo material but had become a significant figure in world music as the co-founder, with Thomas Brooman and Bob Hooton, of World of Music, Arts and Dance (WOMAD). WOMAD was set up on the assumption that many more people would come to appreciate the music of other cultures if that music was made more accessible, and the first WOMAD festival was held in Shepton Mallett, England in 1982.

Unfortunately for Gabriel, his substantial investment in the organization saw little return and he found himself in financial difficulties. (As Gabriel himself put it, he “lost a pile of money.”) Genesis manager Tony Smith was consequently instrumental in reuniting Gabriel with his former bandmates to perform a one-off concert designed to ease Gabriel’s economic plight. This concert, given the name Six Of The Best, was held at The National Bowl, Milton Keynes, England on 2 October, 1982.

Some years ago an audience recording of the show, in mediocre sound quality, appeared on the Highland label entitled Six Of The Best. More recently, a compilation of seven audience recordings known as the FAde 003 version appeared on torrent sites and this was soon supplanted by the TM Productions version. (The Blue Snaggletooth website calls the former “definitive” and the latter “even more definitive.”) Superior in sound to the Highland release, these versions are, as might be expected, still a little rough around the edges. Those wishing to acquire a recording of the show itself are directed to the recent CD-R release from the Mindwarp label, One Night Stand.

Now Godfather presents us with a soundboard recording (which has also been torrented), not of the show itself, but of the rehearsal held at the Hammersmith Odeon on 29 September. Clearly superior in sound to extant recordings of the concert itself, the rehearsal is referred to in Godfather’s sleeve notes as, “probably one of the most significant underground releases of a historical recording by a major rock group [to have] recently surfaced,” a hyperbolic but not necessarily inaccurate statement. The Blue Snaggletooth internet review of this rehearsal tape (which forms the basis of a large part of Godfather’s sleeve notes, though they do not contain the remark quoted above), concurs, stating that, “it is miraculous to have this soundboard record of such an historic event.”

BBKron’s post on the BB Chronicles site (additionally reproduced on Guitars101) also agrees, stating that, “now we have a better document of this unique time and concert experience…these [tapes] are a marvellous documentation of the event, and the sound quality is much better than the tapes of the actual concert…It is fascinating to hear this behind the scenes glimpse at them running through these songs for the first time in many years.”

The first disc begins with Back In N.Y.C., the first of six numbers from the band’s final album with Gabriel, The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. By the time the tape starts the song has already begun, so that we unfortunately miss the beginning. The song begins just before the line, “They call me the trail blazer – Rael – electric razor.” It is an effective, tight performance which constitutes a fine start to proceedings. We then get two stabs at Dancing With The Moonlit Knight, which clearly reveal the circumstance of the occasion. Before the song commences Gabriel can clearly be heard saying that he needs ”all the help I can get.”

The first take demonstrates that Gabriel is unaware of how to conclude the truncated version of the song, and once he reaches the line “digesting England by the pound” he stops and he can be heard saying, “this is new to me. So I just repeat that three times?” The song then recommences from the second line (“said the unifaun to his true love’s eyes”) and reaches the same point as the first take, after which Gabriel than sings again the line “selling England by the pound,” which brings the song to a close. Despite his uncertainties, Gabriel sings well and the performance is very atmospheric.

Carpet Crawlers, one of my favourite Genesis songs, is another effective performance, though the first verse is regrettably absent. Blue Snaggletooth contends that Gabriel “messes up one or two things.” Principally, he seems to forget some of the words in the middle of the line, “Through the door a harvest feast is lit by candlelight,” from the fourth verse. There seems to be a further vocal slip up near the end of the song, though this may in fact be a brief cut in the tape.

When he last sang the song, on The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway Tour, Collins backed him up on the chorus, singing high while Gabriel himself sang low. Here, Gabriel has to sing the high part, again demonstrating how things have moved on in his seven-year absence. Like Carpet Crawlers, Firth Of Fifth is a definite highlight, given a splendidly effective performance, with the quiter instrumental section possessing tremendous atmosphere, and the louder section having a pleasing vigour, with some thunderous drumming.

Another old favourite, The Musical Box, follows, and Gabriel again demonstrates a lack of familiarity with the lyrics at the very beginning, and he struggles with the song’s dramatic conclusion, mistakenly beginning the closing section with its fourth line (“You stand there with your fixed expression”). The Snaggle Tooth review points out that. “the band keep him company in rustiness,” reminding us that, “most of them haven’t played the whole song in years and some of them have never done so!”

Despite these flaws, this is a splendid rendition and the fast instrumental section is given a searing performance, which is the highlight of this version. Phil Collins’ vocals are clearly audible on the “She’s a lady” section, but they fail to mesh effectively with Gabriel’s. The ending of the song is also very striking and the performance suggests that the band members were enjoying themselves greatly.

Disc one concludes with the three opening numbers from The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, beginning with the title track, which features some nicely shimmering piano at the start. Gabriel again shows his unfamiliarity with the material when forgets some of the lyrics of the first verse. It could be argued that the has less excuse here, having performed the number live on his first two solo tours.

The song proceeds without further mishap and comes across well until very near the end, where Gabriel, singing without the backing vocala which enhance the album version, suddenly stops mid-word during the closing section that features The Drifters’ 1963 hit, On Broadway, saying “sorry, yeah.” The band then repeats the end of the song, commencing with the line, “Something inside me has just begun.”

A simple but effective version of the vocal section of Fly On A Windshield (without the synthesized vocal backing) then leads into the portentious instrumental section which prefaces Gabriel’s very sinister-sounding vocals on Broadway Melody of 1974. It concludes very suddenly when the last vocal line (“with needles: needles and pins”) is sung, bringing disc 1 to a close.

Disc 2 then opens with the fifth number from The Lamb, In The Cage. Gabriel is heard to sing “I woke up, deep in the deep,” a variant on the last line of the first verse, but then he stops and the song effectively commences with the second line of the second verse. Gabriel also omits some lyrics from the middle of the third verse. The song comes to an abrupt halt just after the point (following the sixth verse) where, referencing the well-known Bacharach/David number, Gabriel sings “raindrops keep falling on my head,” and it then recommences at a point a little before this, continuing to the end in energetic fashion.

The undisputed classic Supper’s Ready is unfortunately shorn of its opening, beginning suddenly in mid-line with the words “saw your face change, it didn’t seem quite right.” The performance goes well thereafter, with the two opening sections, Lover’s Leap and The Guaranteed Eternal Sanctuary Man, in particular coming across most atmospherically.

The transitions between the different sections of the song are handled smoothly and all goes well (despite a brief pause with the words “hang on” before Gabriel’s flute part, just prior to the first words of the Apocalypse in 9/8 section) until the band sudddenly breaks down after the lines, “666 is no longer alone/He’s getting out the marrow in your backbone.” However, the song restarts almost immediately and continues until the end.

The last song from the Trespass album, The Knife, is given a vibrant and fleet-footed reading in an abridged version clocking in at three and three-quarter minutes. The second disc then concludes with three takes of Gabriel’s debut single Solsbury Hill, only the third of which is complete. The song has a pleasing, light-textured and sprightly aspect here, which I like very much. The final version makes an effective closer to this release – except that it is not quite the end, as we get around forty-five seconds of impromptu drumming before the second disc comes to a close.

The sound quality is much better than that of extant tapes of the concert itself. Quite often it is very good indeed, as one would expect from tapes recorded professionally with the band’s consent. However, it is not perfect, as might also be expected from tapes which were not designed for public consumption.

As the BB Chronicles account states, the sound quality is “not as crisp, clean, or clear as the best soundboards, uneven mix, and the volume seems to fade in and out somewhat sporadically.” It is, in fact, not so much a fading in and out, but rather several instances of the sound becoming louder and coarser for a few seconds. There is also some audible hiss. Overall, however, there is nothing in the sound that will prevent collectors from enjoying these discs.

This release comes in Godfather’s trademark tri-fold sleeve which reproduces numerous photographs of the band members from the rehearsal itself. The extensive sleeve notes, which purport to be by “Art Gnuvo,” are based heavily on the Blue Snaggletooth review, though the BB Chronicles account is also utilized. There is no booklet.

This is a release of genuine historical significance, comprising, as it does, a unique rehearsal for an equally unique show. No one will claim that these are definitive versions of the songs – that is clearly not the point of this release. What Godfather presents us with is a fascinating insight into the preparations for the Six Of The Best concert. As the BB Chronicles review so rightly contends, “despite the flaws (and maybe even partly because of them) these tapes are a rare find and a ‘must-have’ for any serious Genesis or Gabriel fan.”

It is strongly rumoured that there is more extant material from this rehearsal (Blue Snaggletooth contends that, “this recording has clearly been edited”). After all, one must presume that all the songs were played more than once. The concert also included two songs not featured here, Turn It On Again and I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe); it is surely inconceivable that they were not rehearsed. Collectors may therefore hold out reasonable hope of a sequel to this indispensible release.

April 14, 2013 Posted by | Genesis All The Help I Can Get | , | Leave a comment

Santana Borbolleta (1974)


Welcome Vol. 2. I tell you, it’s really hard to get thrilled about all those mid-Seventies Santana releases if you’ve already had the possibility to enjoy the earlier ground breaking pieces like Santana III and Caravanserai. Neither Carlos nor the rest of the band members don’t offer us anything particularly new here, but there are no serious offenders either. You just get what you expected: a ramshackle collection of slightly Latin-tinged dance numbers, all seriously peppered with Carlos’ smashing leads and the band’s generic backing vocals. And stuff like that.

On the other hand, even the leads are starting to irritate me. Far too often, it sounds like Carlos is on cruise control, churning out exactly the same convoluted, twisted musical phrasing that was present on every second number on Lotus already. I mean, if earlier I thought of his unhuman arpeggios as heavenly rain, here, with all the obligatory eleven-minute workouts like ‘Promise Of A Fisherman’, I’m slowly starting to assimilate them to the sound of a really really powerful vacuum cleaner – wheez-wheez-wheez-wheez-wheez-wheez-WHEEZ… How many times may a genius repeat himself?

Inevitably, I turn to shorter tunes in search of some kind of consolation. Thank God, it works; some of the short poppier songs here are rather nice and unique in their own way, better than most of the vocalized numbers of Sixties’ Santana. I don’t know who’s singing on all of them (certainly not Carlos himself), but whoever it is, it’s nice. The best one of these is ‘One With The Sun’, a very moody and thought-provoking piece based on a marvelous melancholy lick from Carlos.

‘Give And Take’ introduces a rougher, heavier edge, reminding me a bit of the instrumental ‘Incident At Neshabur’, and transforms an otherwise completely peaceful and ‘spiritual’ album into something a wee bit more aggressive – for a while. And both ‘Life Is Anew’ and ‘Mirage’ are also proof-made ready minor Santana classics in the ‘spiritual direction’. Which reminds me: did I forget to tell you that Borboletta is actually a good album? Stale and stagnated, for sure, but still an excellent demonstration of the band’s spirituality.

It might even be a little better than Welcome, because the vocal numbers are more convincing and the shorter instrumentals more diverse. Actually, you can also think of Borboletta as a worthier sequel to the ‘mystical trip’ of Caravanserai than the weaker, tired Welcome. It’s just that where Caravanserai was a grandiose masterwork of sheer epic height and majesty, Borboletta is a far more homely and less menacing journey. May I use a metaphor? Thanks.

Earlier, you used to climb on the back of a camel and travel with the band towards the ‘aspiring sunset’, to witness pictures of heavenly beauty – huge oceans and impassable snow-covered peaks. Here, you seem to be mounting a giant butterfly and slowly and steadily driving through a sunny and lazy jungle with NO poisonous snakes at all. The wind does howl somewhat lamely and unconvincingly in the background (‘Spring Manifestations’), but doesn’t seem to be doing anything much. Meanwhile, the flowers are nonchalantly humming their song (‘Canto De Los Flores’), and life is good enough to distract yourself with something – you know, nothing like a good draw of healthy meditation along the way. Ahem. Pardon.

Anyway, I do realize that the subject presented above could have easily been applied to just about any proto-ambient or atmospheric light-jazz record ever made, with the sole exception that those records would not have been made by Santana. And it would take too deep an analysis and too much time to rip this music open even further and say why it is actually deserving more praise than all that stuff – I just don’t have the forces nor the wish to go into deep explanations of the production techniques of Borboletta and the playing credentials of the contemporary Santana band members.

Suffice it to say: if you’re ready to follow Devadip into his unlimited, endless spiritual journeys, this record is definitely for you. I, for one, think that he peaked with that on Caravanserai and would never really top that; but hey, if you’re not worried about originality, I can’t see why this couldn’t score a ready five stars. Easily!

April 14, 2013 Posted by | Santana Borbolleta | | Leave a comment

Santana Welcome (1973)


A hard-to-tell record. Obviously nowhere near as close to the masterpiece that was Caravanserai, it is still far from a pure return to the unabashed Latino-thumping days of old. I’d say that at this point Santana’s well-promoted spirituality had finally gotten the best of him. I mean, on Caravanserai his spirituality prompted Carlos to take up his guitar and play beautiful solos, and it also prompted him and the band to pen some excellent atmospheric numbers.

But Welcome seems to be just a vastly puffed-up record that seems to tell the listener: ‘sit back and relax and wonder at how very spiritual we all are, be like us’. But it forgets to back that claim with well-written melodies or atmosphere that would be as equally compelling as on the last record. There are no advances at all, and in some respects, there is regress.

For instance, neither the opening nor the closing cut don’t do anything for me even if they are supposed to. The grand Mellotron lines that open ‘Going Home’ and seem to be lifted directly from Genesis’ ‘Watcher Of The Skies’ (coincidence, of course, but an unpleasant one) are way too pretentious for their own sake, and when the guitar finally arrives it does nothing but croak out a limited, monotonous set of pseudo-moody phrasing.

Same goes for the title track – over a six-minute running length it does little but give the impression that it’s going to be cut off any time soon, but instead it just goes on and on, slow, droning, repetitive, poorly performed, a generic “heavenly bore”. One might remark that Caravanserai also had a similar percentage of ‘proto-ambient’ tracks; but they were done much better, and they could also be treated as tasty ‘introductions’ and ‘conclusions’ to the real meat of that album.

But there are problems with the “real meat” on Welcome. First of all, what the hell happened to the instrumentation? Sure, the band does sound like the Santana of old – but only on the surface. Neither Rolie nor the other band members do not offer us any interesting solos, and Carlos himself lets rip only a couple of times (‘Yours Is The Light’ is the sole major guitar highlight on the entire album). Well, come to think of it, Rolie couldn’t offer us anything interesting – he’d already left the band, replaced by Tom Coster, and much as I sneered at the guy in the earliest days, I sure miss him on this album.

On the other hand, the generic Latin jams are back: ‘Samba De Sausalito’ and a couple other tracks are the same acceptable, but completely conventional dance-it-up stuff that we had in spades on Abraxas. You like it, you get it; but I was kinda hoping that Carlos had already superated that stage. I was sure wrong.

The funk element is also back again – ‘When I Look Into Your Eyes’ is the perfect epitome of routine background funk, even if the flute is nice, Leon Thomas’ singing is competent and the final section, dominated by a strange “hoarse” synthesizer tone, will certainly raise a couple of eyebrows. And Santana is at least trying to bring in some relative diversity, relying on African rhythms (‘Mother Africa’).

But the vocal tunes on here are fluffy (‘Love Devotion And Surrender’, reminding us of the ill-fated Mahavishnu collaboration, is pure cheese, and the other songs with lyrics are forgettable as well), and the lengthy marathon ‘Flame-Sky’ is only vaguely attractive in a couple of places.

Overall, Welcome strikes me as a mostly unsuccessful attempt to marry Santana’s unpretentious dancey past with the more spiritual approach of Caravanserai. Maybe he was a little frightened by the start of his commercial decline – after all, the material of Caravanserai was hardly radio-friendly – and so wanted a healthy compromise that would allow him to be true to his soul and his gurus as well as rake in some badly needed cash, too.

But unfortunately, the public didn’t buy into the hybrid – the record nearly flopped, and it’s easy to see why: one part of the public wanted their “Latin headbanging” back without any compromises, and the other part, dazzled by Carlos’ astonishing work on the previous album, was mightily disappointed (like me) at his understated presence here. Still, it ain’t necessarily a bad record – I don’t see how it could be worse than Abraxas, in all honesty – and Santana fans can hardly go wrong with it. It’s just miles away from his cathartic peak.

April 14, 2013 Posted by | Santana Welcome | | Leave a comment

Genesis Eruption (Hammersmith, June 1976)


Hammersmith Odeon, London, England – June 10th, 1976

Disc 1: Intro., Dance On A Volcano, The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, Fly On A Windshield, Carpet Crawlers, The Cinema Show, Robbery Assault & Battery, White Mountain, Firth Of Fifth, Entangled, Squonk

Disc 2: MC, Supper’s Ready, I Know What I Like, Los Endos, It / Watcher Of The Skies

Disc 3, broadcast master version: Intro., Dance On A Volcano, The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, Fly On A Windshield, Carpet Crawlers, The Cinema Show, Robbery Assault & Battery, White Mountain, Firth Of Fifth, Los Endos

The British Biscuit was a short run series produced by DIR to serve as a companion show to the King Biscuit Flower Hour. This Genesis tape from the Hammersmith Odeon was edited and broadcast several times. Several songs appeared on King Biscuit compilations and the whole broadcast appears on the vinyl White Mountain (Dansker Fanklubbe Grammofone Kollektiv G 9201) which reproduces the show with rearranged tracks.

White Mountain U.K. Tour 1976 (69201) and 1976 Live From The Monster’s Mouth are two other vinyl releases. The radio tape was also released on compact disc on Melody Of 1976 (Highland HL 061#G8) which is good quality but missing “Los Endos” and on White Mountain U.K. Tour 1976. To further complicate matters, these releases also attribute the wrong date, claiming it is from June 11th and not June 10th.

Eruption on three discs gathers together both the virtually complete soundboard recording of the entire show and also the complete British Biscuit edit from the reel-to-reel to offer the most complete document of this famous show. The soundboard recording on discs one and two contains two small cuts. The first is during Mike Rutherford’s introduction to “White Mountain” and the second cuts out the final couple of notes of “Squonk” and the beginning of Rutherford’s tap dancing speech.

There is a tremendous amount of detail on the tape and Bill Bruford’s drums have the same timbre as on the King Crimson soundboards from 1973 which adds another dimension of excitement to the sound. The radio tape on disc three betrays the typical DIR mastering with the emphasis on the high end and the noisy audience noise in softer parts. Both are excellent but the complete soundboard has more power.

Genesis began the Trick Of A Tail tour with several shows in Ontario and Buffalo, New York in March and gained confidence in the new set and new line up before playing before the home crowd. They played two shows at the Hammersmith Odeon on June 10th and June 11th, and this show is important for being the very first Genesis show with Phil Collins on lead vocals.

The new song “Dance On A Volcano” begins the set before Collins greets the audience by saying, ”Good evening London…The next thing we’re gonna play you, if you remember last time you saw us which was probably at Wembley we played you the Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. And tonight we’ve taken three pieces from the story…and rather casually retitled it ‘Lamb Stew.’” Phil’s way of singing the title track to the rock opera is notable for his interjections between the words.

In the Romeo and Juliet story, Romeo is a “forty-five year old, small, unspectacular gentleman who takes Juliet to a Danish doctor on the job at the Pigalle Hounslow West.” They deliver a good version of the track. For ”White Mountain” Rutherford says, ”And in the days during the acoustic numbers the clinking of beer mugs could be heard, we used to plays songs off the Trespass album. Acoustic songs off the Trespass album. So we should play one tonight called ‘White Mountain.’”

Trespass is a great album that was unfairly neglected by the band, and the shows on this tour give a rare track from it. It is a bit melodramatic but is an effective stage piece. Steve Hackett introduces his song ”Entangled” by saying, “Welcome to the Hammersmith Palais. The next number is about a recurrent night mare that becomes so bad that he has to seek psychiatric help.” “WHY!!” someone shouts. “Because he’s suffering from insomnia, that’s why, you idiot….It’s a waltz, a slow three time so take your partners.”

The second half of the show is dominated by a spectacular version of “Supper’s Ready” which doesn’t actually close the show, but does bring down the house. The seven minute version of “I Know What I Like” includes the “Stagnation” riff and Collins’ tambourine solo. Before “Los Endos” Collins announces they’ve been recording the show for an album. “I suppose since you’re all on it you’ll buy it.” The encore is the awesome medley of “It” and “Watcher Of The Skies.” The latter is instrumental and never was sung by Collins live.

Eruption comes packaged in a fatboy jewel case and is limited to two hundred unnumbered copies. The label use a very common photo on the front but have rare photos on the inside and the back. On the inside back they utilize the photo of Collins and Bruford in Central Park, the same photo used by Highland for their release of the the radio tape and adds some measure of continuity.

April 14, 2013 Posted by | Genesis Eruption | , | Leave a comment

Carlos Santana & John McLaughlin Love Devotion Surrender (1973)


This disc is an absolute knock out. The music has withstood the test of time, the lp in vinyl form was released in 1973 as a departure from the gold lined, glittering road of commercial success that Santana had paved. Disappointing to many, a revelation to others, this LP at the time was met with great scepticism and controversy.

After all how could someone duplicate John Coltrane’s suite, “A Love Supreme? ” What was Santana doing with another guitar player, and not just any guitar player but John McLaughlin. And who was the Eastern fellow in the robe? And why did he look so different and what was up with the white outfits? The answers were in the music and Santana was definitely on a journey or a spiritual quest .

The attempt to record “A Love Supreme,” still fresh in the minds of jazz heads as the one of the ultimate Trane compositions that had religious qualities besides outstanding technique and tremendous exploration seemed almost blasphemous. Santana and McLaughlin’s version is a jazz-rock fusion masterpiece where the guitar solos are presented in blistering fashion at a frenetic pace that was otherworldly, almost to the point of inhuman speed and dexterity as though the other side were intervening to guide the then young musicians along the righteous path.

Beginning with the faster than the speed of light fret work slowed down by the organ tempo to Trane’ s “ta-ta ta tah” melody only to be pushed further along, at a blazing guitar pace that is (was)like to two gunslingers firing endless rounds of ammo from a machine gun. The lightning pace slows and builds several times in an expressive recreation of the spirit of Trane, free flowing improvisation kept in check by the lyrical beauty of “A Love Supreme.”

It is a beautiful thing. Another John Coltrane composition is presented which also happens to be one of my favourite (like anybody cares)Trane tunes entitled “Naima. ” The guitarists trade in their electric guitar speed for a softer with less edge melody that is soothing and lovely much like the original by Trane. It is one of the most beautiful jazz ballads ever written and performed with exquisite tenderness and respect. In a sense this was (is) a tribute disc , a further exploration of the spiritual path through music, breaking the chains and confinement of commercial success to make a musical statement graced in light and love along the lines of what Trane did when he recorded “A Love Supreme”.

There is(was) nothing irreverent here but rather Santana was(is) paying homage. Take a look at the names of the songs. “Let Us Go into the House of the Lord,” Meditation” and “The Divine Life.” Santana was leaving and anyone who wanted to see where he was going could go or compare notes from their own experiences. The guitar work by both of thee guys was(is) just amazing. The interchange , from one channel to the other is un-Godly or better yet, inspired by God. There is just enough variety in terms of fast guitar work and slower acoustic sounds to create a balance.

However the interchange between the two guitarists is absolutely incredible and not to be missed if you like rock guitar. For that matter the whole set of musicians is like an all star cast with Billy Cobham and Jan Hammer sharing the drum roles along with Don Alias. The stellar cast further includes the late Armando Peraza on congas and James (Mingo) Lewis on percussion. If you are rebuilding your collection or rediscovering your musical treasures add this one to the collection.

If you are new to Santana and keep reading old grey beards refer to his older albums that were better, than this might one of those. Not for everyone but surely for those that appreciate outstanding inspired guitar work with only hints of the Latinesque elements often associated with Carlos Santana.

April 14, 2013 Posted by | Carlos Santana & John McLaughlin Love Devotion Surrender | , | Leave a comment

David Bowie Let’s Dance (1983)


Review from Denmark: On the one hand, ‘Let’s Dance’ is the first album since his 1967 debut, where Bowie releases a record not worthy of the highest praise on this planet. But on the other hand, it is by far not as awful as some have made it. Also, it is very much 1983 in a bottle, as Ziggy was 1972, Heroes 1977 and Scary Monsters 1980. After all, it was the year of Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ and Culture Club’s ‘Colour By Numbers’ (of which the latter is by far the best of all three albums). It would be on ‘Tonight’ that Bowie, for the first time, was out of time.

‘Let’s Dance’ opens with the brilliantly rocking pop gem ‘Modern Love’, which, as the third single off the album soared to a UK #2 / US #14 peak. It is deliciously disposable, utterly commercial, but not at all too self-conscious. It is followed by the second single (UK #2 / US #10), the now-stample-on-radio, ‘China Girl’, an arguably somewhat superior version of the song Bowie wrote with Iggy Pop for his 1977 comeback album ‘The Idiot’. Here ‘China Girl’ is a soft & smooth danceable track with great rhytm & also retaining Iggy’s haunting lyrics.

The title track, and also the first single off the album, a UK #1 / US #1, appears here in its full lenght, majestic & brooding, with darkening lyrics & joyous instrumental backing, that made it an instant worldwide classic.

The fourth single, which was released only in the US, and only scraped to an undeserved #73, is ‘Without You’, a simple but breathtakingly gorgeous song, which is my personal favourite on the record (due to overexposure of the three brilliant first singles). It is romantic & gentle & brilliantly sung, an underrated gem, if there ever was one. Also one of the most ‘new romantic’ tracks on the record.

‘Ricochet’, another of my favourites, has the most brooding text on the album, & also the strangest music, with rolling drums that underline, that ‘Let’s Dance’, if nothing else, at least still is somewhat darker than ‘Thriller’.

The cover of ‘Criminal World’ is excellent, & brings further neo-romantic mystique onto the record. It is followed by a re-recording of ‘Cat People (Putting Out Fire)’, a song Bowie originally wrote and recorded with Giorgio Moroder for the ‘Cat People’ soundtrack, in 1982. Released as a single at that time, it reached a low & undeserved UK #26.

Anyway, in its original state, it was a delicious piece of New Romanticism, the closest Bowie ever came to the wonderful, glammy dance of Duran Duran, & with lyrics & sound effects that made it haunting like any classic Bowie track from the 70s.

Here, on ‘Let’s Dance’, however, it is tossed off in a blaze of hard rock. Not that it doesn’t work, it’s an almost excellent recording, but it pales so much compared to the original version, and worse = you can’t stop thinking of how much better the original was.

‘Shake It’, which closes the album in a Boy Georgesque way, is a great dance track, poppy, & self-consciously disposable & irrelevant. It ends a record that, if released by anybody else, would have been seen as, at least, a near-masterpiece, but which, like its recording of ‘Cat People’ (a microcosm mirror of all the strenghts & weaknesses of the album), just didn’t match the earlier Bowie. Still, if you already own everything from ‘Space Oddity’ to ‘Scary Monsters’, this album is well worth a thought, ‘cos it harbours a warmth, that Bowie at least retained through the eighties, on to ‘Never Let Me Down’, before it was lost to experimentation for experimentation’s sake (as opposed to experimentation for the sake of your life, as one could have called his 70’s period).

So this album is great. But unlike ‘The Man Who Sold The World’, ‘Station To Station’ or ‘Diamond Dogs’, this one is far from the gods. Far, far from the gods…

Review from US: David Bowie’s 1983 opus, “Let’s Dance” has become quite a controversial title in his catalog in the years passing since it’s release. Some see it as a sellout, others see it as a nadir, but I think both views are a little out of hand.

Following seven five-star albums (IMO) between 1974-1980 (Diamond Dogs, Young Americans, Station To Station, Low, Heroes, Lodger and Scary Monsters), anything less than perfection from the man was seen as a colossal disaster, and while Let’s Dance is a great album, it is a slight decline from the albums he recorded in the mid to late seventies.

Another thing that really hurts the album is that it was his first album since “Young Americans” in 1975 that really is a product of its era. “Let’s Dance” is as 1983 as Flashdance and Kajagoogoo. This album would not have been able to work in 1982 or 1984, much like “Young Americans” is a total product of 1975. It was totally the right album at the right time.

The album was highly commercial and provided him with more American success than he’d ever seen before and the videos made him a mainstay on the then-new MTV, but the commercialness of it has made the album seen as “David Bowie-lite” to most diehard fans. Truth be told, there is much to offer from this album.

“Modern Love”, “China Girl” and “Let’s Dance” are the one-two-three punch that starts this album off. These songs are solely responsible for bringing many new fans to the David Bowie party in 1983, and all of them are great singles. “Let’s Dance” is presented as a 7 1/2 minute long 12″ style mix of the song instead of the 4 minute version that made it a #1 single.

“Without You” was an afterthought choice for a single, and is a nice low-key new wave style ballad, although the Keith Haring portrait on the 45 cover might be more memorable than the album.

“Ricochet” is definately the closest thing to the Berlin trilogy as Bowie will get on an otherwise commercial album. I hated the song at first but it’s really grown on me.

“Criminal World” was another single-in-the-making, it kinda reminded me of a slower Duran Duran style song, a very pleasing song.

“Cat People (Putting Out Fire)” is where the album falters. The original 1982 version of the song produced by Giorgio Moroder is a masterpiece and one of Bowie’s most underrated singles. Here is a re-recording that turns it into a standard snoozeworthy 80’s rock song.

“Shake It” is another bad track, ending the album with filler of the worst kind.

However, I love the first six of the eight tracks, and that is enough to make the album worth owning. It is nowhere in the league of Bowie’s 1974-1982 work, but at the same time, this is the best album we’ll get from Bowie until 1993 when his career begins its renaissance. Stevie Ray Vaughan fans also should check this album out.

April 14, 2013 Posted by | David Bowie Let's Dance | | Leave a comment

Genesis Lyceum Definitive Master (Lyceum Ballroom, May 1980)


The Lyceum Ballroom, London, England – May 6th, 1980

(approx. 141min): Deep In The Motherlode, Dancing With The Moonlit Knight, Carpet Crawlers, Squonk, One For The Vine, Behind The Lines, Duchess, Guide Vocal, Turn It On Again, Duke’s Travels, Duke’s End, Say It’s Alright Joe, The Lady Lies, Ripples, In The Cage, The Colony Of Slippermen, Afterglow, Follow You Follow Me, Dance On A Volcano, drum duet, Los Endos, I Know What I Like. Bonus tracks, The Lyceum Ballroom, London, England – May 7th, 1980: I Know What I Like (partial), The Knife

Along with being recorded professionally for the radio, Genesis’ two Lyceum gigs were also professionally videotaped. The May 6th gig, the first of two in the Lyceum, has been in circulation for many years and is pressed by Virtuoso on Lyceum Definitive Master. It is a pro-shot, multi-camera video which has the complete show except for most of “Ripples.”

It is speculated that it was leaked by someone connected to the band since the BBC never owned this footage. The video quality is just short of perfect. There is some fuzziness in the brightly lit parts, but otherwise it is very clear for a video dating back thirty years. Two songs, “Ripples” and “The Lady Lies,” were used from this show for the second Archives release many years ago.

Genesis enjoyed playing in smaller venues in London. Wind & Wuthering was released in January 1977 with several shows at the Rainbow theatre, but since their Earls Court shows that summer their only area appearance was at the massive Knebworth festival the following year. The Drury Lane and Lyceum shows made up for that neglect.

The venue also dictates the style of video made. Watching footage from the late seventies, it’s apparent that the light show takes up as much interest and screen time as do the band. But this video has many more close ups of the band and the dramatic narrative of the music is emphasized.

“Deep In The Motherlode” is the opening number. Genesis like to begin shows with a song from the previous album than the one they’re touring for, and this track from And Then There Were Three serves that purpose. Although it’s a good song, I always felt “Down And Out” would have been much better. It is faster tempo and heavy enough to bring excitement to the beginning of the show. They never seemed to pull it off live though and it never made it past the Mirrors tour.

The opening lines of “Dancing With The Moonlit Knight” provide a dramatic link to “Carpet Crawlers.” Both “Squonk” and “One From The Vine” crawl across the stage as effective pieces of dramatic musical narrative.

But the weight of the show falls upon the Duke suite. It was a daring decision to play all of the new music in one set emphasizing Genesis’ art rock roots. Collins tells the long Albert story before they play “Behind The Lines.” The following song “Dutchess” is very sad and depressing. The early favorite is “Turn It On Again” which is played close to the album’s arrangement. The instrumental “Duke’s Travels” stretches to seven minutes long and the conclusion to the piece “Duke’s End” is moving.

Collins’ dramatic sensibilities follow in the two songs from And Then There Were Three. He teaches the audience to respond to his hand signals in “The Lady Lies.” After the “Ripples” fragment they play an old medley with “In The Cage” and ending with ”Afterglow” with a magnificent lightshow which is powerful even in the smaller venue.

In “Follow You, Follow Me” Banks starts the second half of the final verse four bars early, then fumbles around with the organ chords and stops playing ARP entirely until the next chorus. But the show comes to a good finale with “Dance On A Volcano” and the drum duet between Thompson and Collins. “I Know What I Like” is the encore and contains the tambourine solo, the “Stagnation” part and Collins’ revisiting of “The Lady Lies” hand gestures.

The bonus tracks include part of “I Know What I Like” and “The Knife” from the following night at the Lyceum. The camera is on one side of the stage and is darker, but it’s great to have such bonus material on the disc. This is Virtuoso’s first attempt at a DVD and it’s very solid. It’s definitely worth having for the Genesis collector and hopefully more will be coming.

April 14, 2013 Posted by | Genesis Lyceum Definitive Master | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Bradford UK 1973 (January 1973)


St. George’s Hall, Bradford, England – January 18th, 1973

Disc 1 (76:51): Rock and Roll, Over the Hills and Far Away, Black Dog, Misty Mountain Hop, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Dancing Days, Bron-Y-Aur Stomp, The Song Remains the Same, Rain Song, Dazed and Confused

Disc 2 (42:59): Stairway to Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Heartbreaker

Led Zeppelin were originally booked to play in Bradford on January 4th, but had to push the show back two weeks because Robert Plant contracted a flu in the first week of the new year. Bradford is one of the better concerts they played in the UK. Plant’s voice was close to being fully recovered, and the band displayed the improvisational flair that would come to fruition in Europe in March.

A soundboard fragment circulates with most of “Dazed And Confused,” “Whole Lotta Love” and the second encore “Immigrant Song” which has been pressed many times such as on The Great Lost Live Album (Nasty Music NM-1973-01/02/03).

But the audience tape has been pressed only TDOLZ on Bradford UK 1973. One of their earlier efforts when their goal was to release every Zeppelin tape, no matter how poor, it is at best fair. It’s listenable only once your ears adjust to the low fidelity. The specifics of the performance do stand out, however, and it is possible to hear how good the show is. The tape is cut in several places such as after “Since I’ve Been Loving You” while Plant is introducing “Dancing Days” and between other song. ”Dazed And Confused” has a small cut during the violin bow interlude and the second encore ”Immigrant Song” is missing, only available on the soundboard recording.

The show starts off with an aggressive “Rock And Roll” segueing into “Over The Hills And Far Away.” Jimmy Page sounds a bit lost in the middle and doesn’t really complete the solo.

Robert Plant apologizes for being two weeks late before “Black Dog” and has fun poking fun at John Paul Jones before “Misty Mountain Hop.” While trying to give the normal introduction, about walking through the park with a packet of cigarette papers, he gets horribly distracted. “This is a song…hang on, let me concentrate. All this flattery…you’re walking through the park one day…well, John Paul Jones was walking through the park one day.”

“Misty Mountain Hop” segues directly into “Since I’ve Been Loving You,” an arrangement invented in Japan the previous October. The latter sounds especially heavy and brutal in this recording. The same is said for “The Song Remains The Same.” Plant’s voice sounds especially strong as he lets loose some infernal drones over Page’s frenzy. “The Rain Song,” except for Page loosing is place by the end, is also very nice.

“Dazed And Confused” contains some variations unique to the performance. Page’s lead into the “San Francisco” interlude sounds different, and he gets into a funk groove in the start of the long improvisation. The “Mars” section before the return to the final verse is also extremely intense. The soundboard is much more clear, but the echo in the audience recording lends the air of mystery lacking in the professional recording. Bradford ranks among the best performances of the epic piece of the UK winter tour.

The long ”Whole Lotta Love” medley continues the variations. While Page is spiting out his sledgehammer riffs, Plant gives a parodic nod to The Rolling Stones’ “Let It Bleed,” singing “we all need someone to cream on.” During the boogie section Page spits out some nasty, hostile sounding heavy-metal riffs, and after “(Baby You’re So Square) I Don’t Care” Plant continues the Elvis impersonation with the beginning of “Blue Suede Shoes” (“one for the money / two for the show / three to get ready / go, cat, go / stay off of my blue suede shoes”) as the rest follow along.

“I Can’t Quit You” brings the medley full circular, played as sludge-laden blues dirge. Quotes from “Goign Down Slow” follow. As Plant sings the finally “woman, way down inside…” fans in the audience singing along very loudly. He encourages it for the next when he sings “…you neeeeeeed it….” It’s a touching moment of audience participation.

Bradford UK 1973 is simply packaged in a single pocket cardboard sleeve made out of glossy paper. The front cover has a photograph from the film The Song Remains The Same and the back has a stage shot form the European leg of the 73 tour. If this tape sounded any better this would be an essential piece of the collection with one of Zeppelin’s greatest performances. But since there are better sounding tapes from the era this is for the Zeppelin die-hard collector.

April 14, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Bradford UK 1973 | , | Leave a comment

Genesis A Trick Of The Tape (Boston & Detroit, April 1976)


Although the rest of the band would argue the point, Genesis’ initial success was largely dependent upon Peter Gabriel. It was his decision to wear the funny costumes in 1972 that garnered them media attention, and is warped, fairy tale imagery that set the tone for their most important numbers. When he left in 1975 the band’s reaction was very interesting because, for the first time since the beginning of their career, they attempted to be truly democratic.

Increased emphasis was placed upon band compositions. And even though Phil Collins became the front man, Michael Rutherford and Steve Hackett also chatted with the audience for the first time and developed their own little skits. Their tour for A Trick Of A Tail, where Bill Bruford from the recently disbanded King Crimson filling in on drums, has passed into legend as one of the best rock tours.

A Trick Of The Tape on Virtuoso contains two shows taken from the middle of the north American tour. Both come from very good to excellent audience recording and this is the silver pressed debut, not only of these sources, but of these shows. Since Genesis’ setlist didn’t vary from night to night there is nothing in particular to commend these shows except for the outstanding sound and performances.

Orpheum Theatre, Boston, MA, – April 10th, 1976

Disc 1 (56:08): Dance On A Volcano, The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, Fly On A Windshield, Carpet Crawlers, The Cinema Show, Robbery Assault & Battery, White Mountain, Firth Of Fifth

Disc 2 (59:16): mc, Entangled, Squonk, Supper’s Ready, I Know What I Like, Los Endos, It, Watcher Of The Skies

The April 10th Boston show comes from a newly surfaced Dan Lampinski master, the taper who has provided collectors with such outstanding sounding shows for the past year. Like all the others, this is a gorgeously recorded stereo audience recording that captures the atmosphere of the performance perfectly. Except for a short conversation the taper has and someone close to the stage obsessed with “The Knife” and who requests the song all night, there is minimal audience interference.

“Good evening, Boston. Long time, no see” Collins greets the audience after “Dance On A Volcano” before introducing “lamb cutlet.” After an excellent delivery of the medley Collins speaks Tiresias, the roving reporter in “The Cinema Show” and praises Boston for being the first show without gremlins in the equipment.

Collins introduces Bill Bruford before “Firth Of Fifth,” who can “play the drums in thirteen different languages.” When Collins in about to introduce the song, saying: “The next song is…” Several people by the stage keep begging for “The Knife” and finally Collins hears and says, “no, not ‘The Knife.’” It’s a funny little exchange.

Hackett gives his standard introduction to “Entangled,” speaking about the perils on a psychiatrist’s couch and it’s inspiration by a painting by his wife Kim Poor. After a very heavy “Squonk” Rutherford speaks about Collins’ tap-dancing and tells the audience to notencourage his dancing “since it goes to his head.” There is some commotion during the quiet opening, but the audience settles down for th rest of the piece.

“I Know What I Like” lacks the long tambourine solo and clocks in at only five minutes long. Collins thanks the lack of gremlins before the band play the final song of the night “Los Endos.”

Ford Auditorium, Detroit, MI, – April 20th, 1976

Disc 1 (56:03): Dance On A Volcano, The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, Fly On A Windshield, Carpet Crawlers, The Cinema Show, Robbery Assault & Battery, White Mountain, Firth Of Fifth

Disc 2 (58:19): mc, Entangled, Squonk, Supper’s Ready, I Know What I Like, Los Endos, It, Watcher Of The Skies

The April 20th Detroit show was previously released on vinyl on Just A Pool Of Tears (Rockwell & Good TMI 1001/2/3) along with some rare BBC tracks. This is the first silver pressed CD title with this tape. It’s another very good and atmospheric recording of the entire concert. There is a small cut at 20:59 in “Supper’s Ready” but nothing substantial is lost.

Genesis first played the Ford Auditorium two years before while playing for Selling England By The Pound (they played the Masonic Lodge for The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway.)

During the opening numbers it’s obvious Bruford is in a creative mood, especially apparent in his funky drum fills during ”The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway” and the rumbling thunder he provides in ”White Mountain” and ”Squonk.” He comes very close to upstaging the rest of the band during this performance.

Hackett alters his intro to “Entangled” slightly by speaking about all of the “insomniacs, all of you with recurring nightmares.” A girl close the taper keep begging for “Ripples” but never gets it.

While Rutherford is introducing “Supper’s Ready” he explain that Collins will suddenly break into gyrations and “the rest of the group apologizes…it will go to his head.” During “I Know What I Like” Collins stutters out the final line Roger Daltrey “My Generation” style.

A long “Los Endos” brings the main set to a melodramatic end as does the encore “It” and a majestic instrumental “Watcher Of The Skies.” A Trick Of A Tape brings these two very good to excellent audience tapes together and is one of the best releases from this tour to surface in a while. The artwork is in keeping with Virtuoso’s design and is excellent all around.

April 14, 2013 Posted by | Genesis A Trick Of The Tape | , | Leave a comment