Deep Purple

"LIVE IN PARIS 1975"

 This disc is important as it fully documents original guitarist Richie Blackmore's final gig with the MK III line-up. Frustrated with the band's increasingly soul music influenced output, Blackmore left to form Rainbow with the then relatively unknown vocalist Ronnie James Dio. But he went out on a high note.
  Throughout the show, Blackmore is playing with the vigor of a man possessed. He is clearly making the most of his last show and pulling out all the stops in front of an appreciative French audience.
  The ten song set is also noteworthy for presenting three tracks from the current album, 1974's Stormbringer , "The Gypsy", "Lady Double Dealer" and the title track, all three of which would never be heard again with Blackmore involved.
Also here is an extremely volatile run through the cover "Going Down", no doubt learned from the Jeff Beck Group arrangement.
  Although newly remastered as the first volume in the new official live series, and with an added band interview on disc two, some of this material did previously appear on the releases Made In Europe  and
MK III The Final Concerts.

 

Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble

"TEXAS FLOOD"

 The 1983 debut album by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble has just been given the 2 CD deluxe edition treatment. The 1999 expanded edition release of Texas Flood added an outtake from the same sessions "Tin Pan Alley aka The Roughest Place In Town" (a re-recorded version appeared on 1984's Couldn't Stand The Weather album) and three bonus live songs recorded on Sep 23 '83 at The Palace in Hollywood. This new deluxe edition loses those three tracks for a full nine song live set recorded on Oct 20 '83 at Ripley's Music Hall in Philadelphia. This is Double Trouble captured live during the band's introduction to wider audiences out of their native Austin, Texas and they are making the most of the opportunity. Shows from the 1982-84 period are especially important because while functioning as a professional unit, the musicians are still young and hungry. The energy and enthusiasm simply cannot be contained and the result is a completely unbridled performance.
   They open with the album cut "Tesitfy" and the unreleased instrumental "So Excited" then play their usual cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Chile" but Vaughan adds a bit of Jimi's "Power Of Soul" during the middle, something he did not do often (see Toronto July 11 '83 for another rare example of this).
   The unmistakable ringing guitar of "Pride And Joy" begins the current single then getting plenty of radio airplay.
   The channeling of Hendrix completes the show with the one-two punch finale of an instrumental "Little Wing" and a feedback drenched reading of "Third Stone From The Sun".

Unfortunately the live disc is not the complete show.

Old James

4 track e.p.

 This new local Toronto group has been gigging regularly between T.O. & Ottawa and have a just completed four track e.p. out. Their sound is a frothy hard rock home brew spiked with a mid-70's southern boogie sensibility.
   The opener "Ain't No Friend Of Mine" alternates between darkly sung verses and a forceful chorus. "Hear Them Cry" is propelled forward by thumping tribal drumming then takes off at the end aided by some double time piano flourishes. Next up is "Neck Deep" which moves along at a brisk pace occasionally breaking into a funky groove before jumping back to a swift sprint to the finish line. Front man Brian Stephenson's muscular guitar playing is propped up by the rock solid foundation provided by the crack rhythm section.

  Clocking in at just over eighteen minutes this not-so-little sampler has more value for your buck than many full length releases by major label bands.
   That's just the new way of doing things for Old James.

     Hank Davis 

"ONE WAY TRACK"

  Since the late fifties Hank Davis has released numerous singles and albums spanning rockabilly, country, blues and folk music. Full length releases such as "Stompin' At The Dead Moose,  Rock In The Woods, New York Country Rock and Crazy Living were pressed in limited quantities and are now extremely rare and hard to find.
   In 1994 a CD compilation Blue Highway was released featuring thirty-one tracks from 1959-1994.  Now the German reissue label Bear Family has a new thirty-eight song career retrospective One Way Track out further documenting Davis' seemingly endless output covering the years 1959-2012.
  Highlights include the stinging guitar solo in "Real Soon", an intimate lead vocal on the gentle ballad "I Want You To Know" and "There Is No Right Way" a pleading lament that, if there was any justice in the world, would be playing on every jukebox in joints throughout the world. Perhaps best of all is the heartfelt medley of "I Will Trust In The Lord" and "Amazing Grace" from 1963 when Davis was accompanying two black ministers in Boston under the handle The Blues Brothers (!).
  Of the thirty-eight songs on the new collection only sixteen are repeated from the previous compilation Blue Highway.
  The release also has a thick 45 page booklet
of track annotations that helps to fill in the blanks in Davis' long and largely uncharted musical journey.

  And somehow after two career spanning compilations "Happy New Year Baby" still remains unavailable on CD....

Necromandus

"OREXIS OF DEATH"

​  In 1973 Birmingham's Necromandus were ready to take on the hard rock world. They had the opening slot on a U.K.

Black Sabbath tour and in fact Tony Iommi was managing them and produced their debut album.

Before it could get released though, Iommi left for a U.S. Sabbath tour, the label kept post-poning the release, the guitarist quit and eventually the group disbanded.

Not only did they miss out on fame & fortune in '73, in 1976 Ozzy Osbourne freshly booted out of Black Sabbath recruited the guys to be the original Blizzard Of Oz band for his solo career then during rehearsals changed his mind and re-joined Sabbath!

  The Necrodamus sound is a mix of heavy rock and prog with some typical (for the time) psychedelic flourishes. Not too different than early Sabbath at all.

Tony Iommi himself contributes a stinging guitar solo on the title track.

The newly remastered CD issue of "OREXIS OF DEATH" includes an eight track live set recorded in March 1973

(Judas Priest was the opening act!) plus a thick booklet of liner notes detailing their frustrating career.

  By the time their debut album was finally unleashed upon the public in 1999, three of the four band members were dead.

Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble

"COULDN'T STAND THE WEATHER"

 In 1984 Stevie Ray Vaughan followed his strong debut disc with a sonic masterpiece of Texas blues based rock guitar Couldn't  Stand The Weather which remains his most cohesive and powerful release. Listeners who experienced the brisk opening track "Scuttle Buttin" and then the title track's CinemaScope blues landscape knew they were hearing an important new voice in guitar playing.
   The new 2 disc Legacy Edition includes: all four bonus tracks from the 1999 remaster, the four album outtakes that appeared on the rarities collection The Sky Is Crying and three newly discovered previously unreleased cuts.
   Best of all, the second disc is a blistering live show from Montreal on the 84 tour. Among the many highlights from this hot show: Stevie's screaming axe on the smoldering slow blues "Things That I Used To Do" and a fantastic take on "Lenny" showcasing Vaughan's delicate and introspective side. Special mention goes to bassist Tommy Shannon who is playing better here than I have ever heard him.

  Whether you're hip to SRV or not this is one you cannot afford to miss, its an absolute must have.

Frank Lowe  "BLACK BEINGS"

  An absolute must for free-jazz fans! Recorded in 1973 on the ESP label this disc features avant-garde tenor saxophonist Lowe going head to head with alto player Joseph Jarman. What makes this unique is the addition of a violin player snaking his way in between the two sax giants.  It doesn't hurt that the drummer is an absolute powerhouse throughout the recording as well! The 33 minute track "In Trane's Name" is an immediate free-jazz classic and on this CD its finally heard in its full length (an earlier lp edition ran only 25 minutes). I cannot recommend it highly enough, this is for fans of Pharoah Sanders and Albert Ayler.

Gabor Szabo

"JAZZ RAGA"

  Hungarian guitarist Szabo's Jazz Raga from 1967 has been reissued on CD and showcases his attempt at blending jazz with Indian music. By dubbing a sitar over his own guitar licks the music takes on an exotic feel while still being grounded in conventional playing. (In 1970 Indian sitar master Ananda Shankar released a similar album also of East meets West sensibilities)
  The track "Krishna" features some explosive drum work from the legendary Bernard "Pretty" Purdie who shines on the entire album. Szabo's cover of "Paint It Black" pushes the tune's already apparent Eastern flourishes into a full on sitar / guitar duel. The two instruments push and pull against each other creating a dynamic and colourful tension.
  Duke Ellington's "Caravan" is slowed down considerably but still strengthened by Purdie's force full drumming.
   The finale of "Summertime" ends our journey on a satisfying conclusion but still leaves the listener wanting more.

Aggressor

"BEYOND ALL RECKONING"

 The new album from this young Ottawa-Toronto thrash band simply is one of the strongest and heaviest discs of the year. Behind Brian Stephenson's snarling vocals (imagine a far less whiny Dave Mustaine) the band wails with equal amounts of rage and precision.

 The album begins with the one-two knockout punch of "What Is Me" and "Justice Lost" leaving the listener stunned immediately.

 The real secret weapon though is drummer Chris Stephenson who furiously pounds his kit with powerful authority, remaining committed and focused on the material. This junior Dave Lombardo is one to watch, folks.

 By the time the album closer "Redemption (First Eyes Awake)" is finished, the listener is equally exhausted and exhilarated.

 Beyond All Reckoning is an immediate thrash metal classic and is already in the running for one of my Top Ten titles for the year.

Albert King with Stevie Ray Vaughan "IN SESSION"

  On Dec 6 1983 Albert King appeared on the television show In Session filmed in Hamilton with Stevie Ray Vaughan sitting in to jam. Vaughan at the time was an on the rise newcomer having released his debut album Texas Flood  earlier that year. The two bluesmen chat, share stories and exchange white hot guitar licks. 

   In the mid-80's a cassette copy of this music smuggled out of CHCH studios was a coveted treasure amongst my group of friends.
  The 1999 CD release has been out of print for years so its about time to finally have the material back on the market but the real bonus is the extra 90 minute DVD that has never been available commercially. The DVD includes a few tracks not on the CD but best of all is just seeing the joy in Stevie's eyes playing with one of his biggest inspirations. ​

  King is having fun too, during a particularily forcefull Vaughan solo on "I'm Gonna Move To The Outskirts Of Town", Albert feigns boredom by taking out an emery board and casually files his nails!  

   Highly recommended..

The Blue Shadows

"ON THE FLOOR OF HEAVEN".

Propaganda

"A SECRET WISH 25TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION"

  In the early 90's Billy Cowsill from the family band The Cowsills and Winnipeg rocker Jeffrey Hatcher (whose own 1987 album Cross Our Hearts remains one of my all time top Canadian discs) joined forces with a crack rhythm section to form The Blue Shadows.

  The group had a hard core honky tonk sound most identifiable by the Everly Brothers style harmony vocals of the two front men. The influence of Buck Owens, Roy Orbison and The Beatles ("Anytime At All" was a part of their live set) are also evident.
  The debut album ,originally out in 1993,has just been re-released with a second disc packed with terrific outtake and rarities. Their cover of Arthur Alexander's "Soldier Of Love" also used to get played live a lot and its great to finally hear a studio take of it. Perhaps best of all "A Paper 'n A Promise" is easily just as good as anything on the original album and their spirited take on Joni Mitchell's "Raised On Robbery" is a blast.

  The hard livin' Cowsill died in 2006 at the age of 58.

  Originally released in 1985 A Secret Wish  was an odd and unique mix of new wave synth pop, dance rhythms, cold industrial effects and a female lead vocalist with a hard German accent. The album didn't sound like anything else out at the time and still sounds pretty different.
  In a really bizarre move, different configurations (lp, cassette etc...) had variations in the tracks. For example the song "Duel" was a tough instrumental on the vinyl release but the 7" b-side version had even tougher vocals and the original CD edition used the vocal take completley omitting the original album version. Got all that?
   The new 2 CD anniversary edition includes all (well, most...) possible variants including tracks from the late '95 remix album Wishful Thinking
. This set shows an incredibly creative and unusual group of artists conjuring not merely new music but an entirely original context for their collective vision to flourish within.

   Yes, it has an unmistakable 80's sheen to it, it's of that time. But there's still a forbidding glimpse at a getting closer reality that is still a bit disconcerting.
   This is the definitive Propaganda release chronicling this unusual group's output and is recommended for anyone interested in hearing what the future sounded like 25 years ago.