Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Aardvark - Aardvark

A prog act without a guitar player? That's exactly what this early 70's British foursome is. Originally, they became known mainly because Paul Kossof and Simon Kirke played in the band before leaving to form legendary band FREE. From then on, AARDVARK were mostly a studio act and by the time they recorded their only album, the line-up consisted of Stan Aldous (bass), Frank Clark (drums), Steve Milliner (keyboards, recorder, vibraphone) and Dave Skillin (vocals). Comparisons are not easy but one could probably say their music has the power of EMERSON, LAKE & POWELL mixed in with a little R&B à la PROCOL HARUM and early MOODY BLUES. Shades of GRYPHON, GREENSLADE and PINK FLOYD are also present.

As is to be expected, AARDVARK's material is highly keyboard oriented, the brunt of the music being carried by the fuzzed-up Hammond organ which more or less simulates the job of a distorted guitar. The soaring vocals by Skillin are pleasant and the music, although not highly original and somewhat lacking in variety, is quite melodic - nice 60's sounding melodies. The album contains some ear-friendly piano/keyboard interplay as well as some good R&B guitar riffs and harmonic choruses. The low points: following the fashion of the early 70's, many tracks drag on far too long. Also, possibly because the dominant Hammond did not stand the test of time, the album unfortunately sounds quite outdated. Finally, the cuts that work best tend to be the less progressive ones. Overall, AARDVARK is an honest musical effort for the times, an interesting early art rock experiment with a slight progressive edge.

Recommended strictly for collectors of early 70's, heavy organ-dominated prog. Fans of SPRING, CRESSIDA or FIELDS should also give them a try.

Aardvark like many groups, released one album and then disappeared. The group consisted of keyboardist Steve Milliner, vocalist Dave Skillin, drummer Frank Clark, and bassist Stan Aldous. Some people believed Steve Milliner would later join Caravan for the album Waterloo Lily, but he didn't. That guy was Steve Miller (not the American Steve Miller of Fly Like an Eagle Fame, but the brother of Hatfield & the North's Phil Miller). It's easy to see why Steve Milliner and Steve Miller got confused: both were keyboardists and had similar last names, and both existed around the same time. Steve Miller (the guy who temporarily replaced David Sinclair in Caravan) was playing with Carol Grimes and Delivery at the time Aardvark existed.

Anyways, Aardvark released their only album in 1970 on the Deram/Nova label around the same time Egg released their debut (also on the same label). I find this album rather underrated. For some reason many prog rock bands that had keyboards but no guitars are often underrated. There were several groups going for the keyboards and no guitar format including Quatermass, Egg, Rare Bird (at least the original 1969-1970 incarnation as the post-1972 version had guitars and sounded very little like the original band), and most of all, The Nice (post-Emerlist Davjack), who, no doubt inspired many other bands to follow this format. Many people thought Aardvark weren't that remarkable, many felt the organ solos go on too long, but to me I didn't bother me (in fact I wasn't bothered by the organ solos found on Le Orme's Collage either, another underrated album). Being 1970, it's also hard not to notice the late '60s psychedelic elements still intact (in fact lots of prog rock albums released as late as 1972 often still had late '60s psychedelic elements intact, and I'm pretty convinced that by the time Yes released Close to the Edge had prog rock pretty much went beyond its late '60s psychedelic roots). A great example goes to "Once Upon a Hill". This has late '60s written all over it, a pleasant psychedelic number that sounds a lot like Caravan with medieval influences (even David Skillin sounds like Richard Sinclair). Other highlights for me include "Copper Sunset" and "Very Nice of You to Call". "Greencap" is that one piece with the extended organ solo, but I found it really interesting, especially the use of marimba too. I really think many people would have a problem with "Outing". It starts off pretty normal (for this album), with vocals that keep repeating, "We're going away" in typical English fashion, but then they really go off the deep-end with lots of distortion and feedback, many would simple write this off as self-indulgent noise, much like Egg's "Boilk" off The Polite Force. A lot of the album has that English feel, especially "Once Upon a Hill". BTW, that particular song is the mellowest piece on the album, probably there to prepare you for the aggressive instrumental onslaught of "Put That in Your Pipe". To me, I don't think the album is as bad as many would let you believe, there is enough excellent material making a worthwhile


01 - Copper Sunset - 3.17
02 - Very Nice Of You To Call - 3.39
03 - Many Things To Do - 4.22
04 - The Greencap - 6.05
05 - I Can't Stop - 5.29
06 - The Outing-Yes - 9.39
07 - Once Upon A Hill - 2.53
08 - Put That In Your Pipe And Smoke It - 7.35


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Tear Gas - Piggy Go Get Her

Piggy Go Getter was the first album by Tear Gas. The album was released in 1970.

Track listings

1. Lost Awakening
2. Your Woman's Gone And Left You
3. Night Girl
4. Nothing Can Change Your Mind
5. Living For Today
6. Big House
7. Mirrors Of Sorrow
8. Look What Else Is Happenin'
9. I'm Fallin' Far Behind
10. Witches Come Today


* David Batchelor - Lead vocals
* Zal Cleminson - Guitar
* Richard Monro - Drums
* Eddie Campbell - Keyboards
* Chris Glen - Bass


Friday, June 19, 2009

Andrew Gold - What's Wrong With This Picture ? - Vinyl Rip

Andrew Maurice Gold (born on August 2, 1951 in Burbank, California) is an American singer, musician and songwriter, best known in his homeland for his 1977 Top 10 single "Lonely Boy" and the 1978 single "Thank You for Being a Friend." His best known solo single in the UK is "Never Let Her Slip Away", which reached number 5 in the UK Singles Chart in 1978. It also reached number 5 again, 14 years later, in a cover version by UK dance act Undercover.

He has the singular distinction of being the first human voice to be 'heard' on the surface of Mars: his rendition of the theme from the television series Mad About You, entitled "Final Frontier," was used as the wake-up call for the Mars Pathfinder space probe in 1996.

A prolific session musician, Gold joined the family business: his mother is singer Marni Nixon (who provided the singing voice for numerous well-known actresses, notably Natalie Wood, Deborah Kerr, and Audrey Hepburn), his father was the late Academy Award-winning composer Ernest Gold. He has two younger sisters: Martha, born in 1953 and Melani, born in 1962.

Gold began writing songs at the age of 13, and by the early 1970s was working as a musician, songwriter and producer for many well-known stars, including Linda Ronstadt, Art Garfunkel, and James Taylor. He was a member of the Los Angeles band Bryndle alongside Kenny Edwards, Wendy Waldman and Karla Bonoff. He played a major role as multi-instrumentalist and arranger for Ronstadt's breakthrough album, 1974's Heart Like a Wheel. Among other accomplishments, he played the guitar solo and the majority of other instruments on the album's first track, "You're No Good," Ronstadt's only No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100.

In 1975 Gold began recording as a solo artist, releasing four studio albums. His single "Lonely Boy" has appeared in several movie soundtracks, including Boogie Nights (1997). Although "Lonely Boy" was the bigger radio hit, "Thank You for Being a Friend" gained new popularity as the theme song for the popular 1985–1992 NBC situation comedy The Golden Girls (although that version was not performed by Gold but by Cindy Fee). In the UK Gold is better known for the song "Never Let Her Slip Away", which is still played on oldies radio stations. For a brief period, "Thank You for being a Friend" was linked to the hoax Yorkshire Ripper tapes, as a 22 second snippet of the song was played at the end of one of the cassettes sent to Yorkshire Police.

In 1977, one of his projects was working with Eric Carmen, Jeff Porcaro and the Beach Boys, playing guitar on Carmen's LP Boats Against the Current, including the hit She Did It, which was a #23 hit that same year.

Later, Gold played on and co-produced three tracks on 10cc's 1981 album Ten Out of 10. In 1983 when 10cc disbanded Andrew formed Wax with former 10cc member Graham Gouldman. Wax enjoyed moderate success and had several top 10 hit singles including ' Right Between the Eyes', 'Bridge to Your Heart' and 'Shadows Of Love'. During the 1990's Andrew once again joined forces with old mates Karla Bonoff, Wendy Waldman and Kenny Edwards to re-form Bryndle and release their first album. He played keyboards on "Johnny Can't Read" for Don Henley's solo debut album I Can't Stand Still. He appeared twice with his family on Family Feud, on the daytime version in 1990 and the syndicated version in 1991, and on the relationship show Bedroom Buddies with his wife in 1992. He has also produced and written songs for numerous movie and television soundtracks. He also sang "The Final Frontier", the theme song for the 1990s Paul Reiser/Helen Hunt sitcom Mad About You. He also produced seven albums for Eikichi Yazawa, a famous Japanese rock/pop singer

Returning to his solo career, in 1991 Gold issued his first effort in over a decade, Home Is Where the Heart Is, before immersing himself in production work for artists ranging from Nicollette Larsen to Stephen Bishop to Eikichi Yazawa. In 1995, he reunited with Bonoff, Edwards and Waldman in a new incarnation of Bryndle, releasing an eponymous LP before Gold's move to Connecticut forced him to leave the group soon after. 1996 saw the release of a new solo effort, ...Since 1951, as well as Halloween Howls, a record for children. Leftovers, a collection of unreleased material, followed in 1998.