Flying Squad (1978) s/t (LP) Epic 82875

Flying Squad

Flying Squad

Epic 82875

1978

Produced by Francis Rossi (Status Quo)

*** noteworthy

Only album from this Scottish hard rock outfit which served as a launching pad for  vocalist Ian Muir (aka Finn Muir), best known as the vocalist of Waysted.


The lack of talent in the lyric department either subtracts or adds to the package, depending on the listener, and while the guitars are a huge part of the songs (which often appear to be heavily inspired by Thin Lizzy), they mostly keep a rein on excess.


While this set has some variety, it fortunately avoids going into ballads, and at its best seems to come out of a mix of UFO and Thin Lizzy. Unfortunately, this band never comes close to those outfits and while unintentional silliness runs through this set and some cuts are bad enough that it’s not even funny, other Lizzy-inspired cuts (“Backroom Boys” and “Glasshouse”) make this a worthwhile listen for hardcore fans of 70s hard rock.

— winch

author of

flying squad LP

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Redbone (1970) S/T (LP) Epic 501

Redbone

S/T (LP)

1970

Epic 501

produced by Lolly Vegas and Pete Welding

*** noteworthy

After making music throughout the 60s, the Vegas brothers decided to fly their Native American flag high with the arrival of this band.

The music is mostly a mix of swamp rock and New Orleans-influenced funk, with Lolly’s unique electric-guitar sounds (combined with some funky rhythms) helping give the music a sound all its own.  The influences appears to come out of Hendrix, Tony Joe White, and Frank Zappa, but the sounds of these brothers might have influenced those artists as well.  The music is arguably best showcased on the three extended instrumentals.

While Native Americans had a huge influence on American music prior to this (with trailblazers of the 50s and 60s such as Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Cash and Link Wray as well as the fact that decades earlier, Native American music was part of the New Orleans sound that influenced nearly all American music ), this band announced their heritages loud and proud with the arrival of this double-LP debut, and this helps remind us of an important social aspect of the early 70s–the lesser remembered Civil Rights movement known at that time as AIM, a struggle that burns through American history to the world today.

— winch (author of…

Paul Winter Consort (1973) Icarus (LP)

Paul Winter Consort

Icarus

Epic 31643

1973
Producer: George Martin

Rating:*** (Noteworthy)

Winter continues his move away from jazz with this set, sticking to a unigue folk sound and helping to lay down some firm foundations for what would become the genre called world music.  While most of the Consort had already formed Oregon by this time, Winter fortunately managed to retain them for this outing.  In fact, the Oregon members provide most of the material for this album, and fans of Oregon will want to check out this set.  This isn’t perhaps as spontaneous or adventurous as much of Oregon’s material, but this was likely Winter’s finest offering.

While I never considered Oregon as a band influenced by the Beatles, the George Martin production and the heavy use of Eastern instruments on this set perhaps helps point out a very creative extension of the Fab Four’s work.  This certainly offered the hippies and Beatles’ fans a much needed alternative to the post-Beatles singer/songwriter craze.  This set has some weaker moments, but mostly it’s quite enjoyable, and fans of Ralph Towner will certainly enjoy his contributions.

The band included Paul Winter (sax), David Darling (cello), Paul McCandless (horns), Ralph Towner (guitars, keyboards), Herb Bushler (bass), Collin Walcott (percussion).  Guests included Billy Cobham and Milt Holland on percussion.

— winch (author of…http://www.eight-track.com/Eight_Track_Publishing.php

 

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Johnny Nash

johnny nash

Johnny Nash
Hold Me Tight
JAD 1207
1968
Rating:**** (Recommended)

Nash is mostly known for bringing reggae to the mainland with his 1972 #1 hit “I Can See Clearly Now,” but his career went back to the 50s, and this 1968 offering played a part in bringing reggae to the States years before his #1 hit.  The title track was a transatlantic #5 on the pop charts (#21 on U.S. R&B charts).

Of course, Nash was from Texas and reggae wasn’t a category known by most Americans at this time or even when they listened to his 1972 hit, and most simply saw his records as soul.  But this set as much as any of his clearly came from Jamaica’s music traditions.  In fact, it was recorded on the island after he’d toured there.  While the Jamaica sound runs through the entire set, the songs come from a variety of sources, Sam Cooke (“Cupid”), the Rascals (“Groovin'”), Peter Tosh (“Love” and “You Got to Change Your Ways”), Jimmy Norman (“Don’t Cry”), and others–including Nash himself.  This album isn’t great, but it’s enjoyable and has several highlights.

 

Johnny Nash
Soul Folk
JAD 1006
produced by Johnny Nash and Arthur Jenkins
1969

Rating:**** (Recommended)


Like 1968’s Hold Me Tight, this was recorded in Jamaica, but while the previous album had a reggae sound running through the entire set, this one is best described by the title.  It’s a mix of soul and folk.



While the 1968 set found Nash excited about discovering the island sound, here he seems to be settling into the peaceful vibes of the island while staying completely aware of his own mainland roots.

The two-part “You Got Soul” opens and closes this set, and perhaps none of the other cuts stand up to that Nash original, but if you dig the laidback vibe of any of the other songs, you’ll likely enjoy the entire set.  It features Nash interpreating Elvis’s “Love Me Tender,” Belafonte’s “Island in the Sun,” Dylan’s “Blowing in the Wind,” a solid reading of Cooke’s “Chain Gang,” as well as some traditional folk songs.  If you’re in the mood for some soulful laidback magic, put on this set and let Johnny take you to the islands.

— winch

Johnny Nash
I Can See Clearly Now
Epic 31607
arranged and produced by Johnny Nash
1972

Rating:***** (Good Shit)

After taking a break, Nash returned with this set, and with the hit title track, he became a household name.  While others played a part in bringing reggae to the States, nobody played as big of a part as this Texan, and this was the album that delivered the news from Jamaica to the masses on the mainland.

While few likely noticed, this also introduced Marley to America.  While Nash wrote the title track, this features musicians from Marley’s outfit, and includes numbers written by Bob, one co-written by Marley and Nash, and while most listeners simply saw this as soul music and wouldn’t know about reggae until a few years later, the success of this album helped pave the way for Marley’s breakthrough in the years that followed.

Fellow Houston man John “Bunny” Bundrick also contributes, offering keyboards and two songs.  Bundrick, Marley and Nash had became roommates in 1972, and Bundrick would help Marley with Catch a Fire in 1973.

While Nash recorded some ignored but solid sets before and after 1972, he never quite matched this album.  While nothing matches the title track, that number has been overplayed and this album has other stand-out cuts.  It’sa consistent set, and in contrast with many reggae albums this offers many variations of the style.  It’s essential listening for fans.

— winch

Johnny Nash
My Merry-Go-Round
Epic 32158
produced by Johnny Nash
1973

Rating:**** (Recommended)

With the title track to I Can See Clearly Nowriding high on the pop charts, Nash could have offered a copycat album, but instead he opens this follow-up with the ambitious title track, an 8+ minute swirling carnival ride complete with a children’s chorus and over-the-top arrangements, synthesizers and guitars spiraling up to a climax.  If Nash had continued with this for the entire album, it would have been too much, but fortunately, it serves as a long intro to another strong album.

Following the title track, Marley’s “Nice Time” brings the set down to earth, allowing the listener to get her bearings after stepping off the carousel.  After that, Nash gets down to some Memphis style soul with “You Better Stop (Messing Around),” Bundrick’s synthesizer making moments sound dated but not enough to interfere with the message.  After that, the side remains strong, and the flipside continues the quality, at least until the last cut gets a bit over-the-top.  While the album isn’t a copycat of the previous album, it sounds like a progression.  Again, it’s mostly a mix of originals by Nash, Marley, and Bundrick, with “Loving You” credited to M. Stevenson.

This album marked a decline in Nash’s popularity, and like the patches on Nash’s jean jacket, the swatches of synthesizer make parts of this set come across as quite dated, but it’s still another near-classic from Nash and his gang, essential listening for fans.

— winch

(author of Kalamazoo: Growing Up Sideways in the 1970s)

Product Details

Heatwave: Central Heating (LP) 1978

Heatwave
Central Heating
Epic 35260(GTO in the UK)
1978
Producer: Barry Blue
Rating: **** (Recommended)
This international outfit keeps it rolling with this second set, again using producer Barry Blue and following the format established with the debut, opening with three funky cuts, slowing down for a soul number to close the side.  The flipside also mirrors the debut, features three soul cuts and two dance cuts.  And it’s not just the format that mirrors the debut, the quality of the material matches the debut as well.  While this didn’t have “Boogie Nights,” it did have “The Groove Line.”
Of course, although the similarities are clear, this second set wasn’t a copycat.  While Temperton wrote all the songs for the debut, on this set lead vocalist/founding member Johnnie Wilder contributes “Happiness Togetherness” and “Mind Blowing Decisions” which are actually stronger than Temperton’s soul numbers.  (Plus this sleeve has the photo with the band members sporting those cool sweaters.)

While the first album was a promising start, this second set kept the promise.  (Unfortunately, the band would soon splinter, and this would be their final essential outing.)
— winch
(author of Kalamazoo: Growing Up Sideways in the 1970s)

Heatwave: Too Hot to Handle (LP) 1977

Heatwave
Too Hot to Handle
Epic 34761
(GTO in the UK)
1977
Producer: Barry Blue
Rating: **** (Recommended)
American brothers Johnnie and Keith Wilder were stationed in Europe, joined forces with Rod Temperton and formed this outfit, the brothers providing the vocals, Temperton providing the songs, adding Mario Mantese from Spain and Ernest Berger from Czechoslavakia to handle the rhythm section, American Eric Johns to help carve out the groove, hooking up with producer Barry Blue for their early works, including this debut set.  
 
While this is mostly known for its disco anthem “Boogie Nights,” the band dedicates nearly half of the set to smooth urban soul, some cuts fitting into the quiet storm category.  Side one features funky dance cuts but closes with a soft soul number, and side two features three soul cuts sandwiched between two dance numbers.  
While the slightly extended version of the hit single is worth the price of admission, this long-player was more than just a home for the hit, and this fact helped make this set outlast the disco craze.  The lasting quality of the album was likely assisted by the fact that Rod Temperton would go on to write cuts for Rufus, Brothers Johnson, Herbie Hancock, Quincy Jones, and Michael Jackson, including “Off the Wall” and “Thriller.”  On the other hand, he might not have gotten to Quincy Jones without the Wilder Brothers helping deliver the message on this set.  This is the place to begin with this band.
— winch
(author of Kalamazoo: Growing Up Sideways in the 1970s)