Tag Archives: Classic Rock

ASIA – Archive Interviews with Geoff Downes and John Wetton

Geoff Downes: “The Drama Of Yes & The Heat Of The Moment” - Alchemical  Records

With the release of 2 ASIA box sets in 2021, I’d thought I’d tidy up and re-share these interviews I did years ago – one with John Wetton [2008] and one with Geoff Downes [2012]. Earlier this year BMG released The Reunion Albums slipbox [5CDs], and next month will release The Official Live Bootlegs : Volume 1. Next March marks the 40th Anniversary of the band’s debut album, let’s hope there’s something special being planned for release. RIP John.

ASIA Rises Again With Phoenix

This interview was done via email in 2008, following the release of Asia’s first comeback album Phoenix.  For whatever reason, it did not all appear as I’d written it, so here is the complete thing.   I’d originally sent questions for John Wetton and Geoff Downes, but only ever heard back from John.  

What was the catalyst and, I guess – major reason or criteria for the original line-up of Asia to reunite? And was it with the understanding that it would have to be a long term commitment [w/ new recordings] – as opposed to just a one-off tour?

It really started with ‘Rock of faith’,  a solo album from 2002,where Geoff and I wrote a song “I’ve come to take you home”, for the first time in many years.   From that came the Icon project,  and so on to Asia.  

Over the years the reunion rumor had come up several times.  How much had you guys kept in touch or had you sort of kept ‘tabs’ on each other over the years?  AND, How well did the initial reunion shows go? Did they meet or exceed expectations?   What have been some of the highlight concerts in the past 2 years?

Extremely well,  and by the time we were halfway thru out 17-date US tour,  we had an offer for Japan,  and the UK.

On Phoenix John & Geoff resume as the band’s main songwriters.  How easy was it to pick up your songwriting partnership after so many years?
 
As I explained in the first question,  the ice had been broken,  and we were used to working again with each other.  The spark was still there.

With John & Geoff doing most of the writing, how is an Asia song [well, on Phoenix and the next album] generally put together?   And what sort of input do Carl and Steve have? 

Carl is not really a writer, and Steve tends to write on his own, but Geoff and myself enjoy the process of writing as a partnership.

    
How was the atmosphere and feeling – being together as the original Asia band again in the studio and on stage?  

Much better than the first time around!   We enjoyed ourselves,  and banished some ghosts from the proceedings.

Phoenix is a great album, but it was more of a ‘grower’ from me because “Never Again” is such a powerful lead off rock track, but then the album really varies and includes more acoustic and softer songs.  Did you guys have any idea what you wanted the album to sound like – or be a heavier or lighter album?

We just wanted it to be a representation of us 25 years on from our first outing. there are nods to our past, but the music is exactly what you get when you put those 4 musicians back on stage or in a studio. My one regret is that we didn’t have Mike Stone around to complete the circle,  but that was not possible, as Mike is sadly no longer with us.
    
Never Again is a very uplifting and memorable song.   Can you tell me what inspired that one musically and lyrically?  

It’s virtually the Ten commandments.   About never wanting to be judgmental, murderous or have evil intent.  It’s musically quite hard-hitting.   With the guitar intro, and powerful chorus, it is reminiscent of ‘Heat of the Moment’, but it was not intentionally so, and I think that is ok.
‘Parallel Worlds / Vortex / Deya’ is quite a melodic – progressive centerpiece to the album. Was this originally written as one song or separate pieces?   Can you tell me how this song developed in to such an epic?

Yes,they all come from different periods. Deya was written in 1976,in Deya, Mallorca, Spain.   Parallel Worlds was written in the Seneca Hotel, Niagara Falls, and was originally titled, ‘Sitting on top of the World’.  Geoff wrote ‘Vortex’ quite recently.

How have the new songs been received live? Does there seem to be any fan favorites or faves that you guys enjoy performing?

Yes,’Never Again’,  and ‘An Extraordinary Life’ go down very well in the live set.

Geoff and John are currently working on a new Icon album.   How is that going?   And is there any separation between Icon and Asia songs when writing?   [I mean, any difference in what you’re writing or intending the songs for?]
   
We’re quite a long way into the record now,  on overdubs – vocals, keyboards, etc.   Should be finished by December sometime.


    
You’re also going on tour as Icon.   How are these shows?   Any different approaches to an Icon performance?

Yes, it’s very different from Asia.   We have a cello (Hugh McDowell),  and will have a female vocalist (Icon has duets).
   
When might we see another Asia studio album?  Do you guys have any definite or tentative plans?

No plans as yet, but why not?   We waited over 20 years for Phoenix, we don’t need to put out 2 records in 12 months.

As the original Asia was a fairly short-lived, straight to the top band in the early 80s. Do you guys feel you have something to prove to critics since reuniting?

Only to ourselves, and on a personal level, not musical.

Any solo albums in the future?

Yes, 2009 should see another solo record.

You were friends with David Byron for years; have you had a chance to check out the new Byron Band release from Damage Control Music [Robin George]??  Any contact with Ken Hensley or other Heep alumni since your own comeback?  

I still have contact with Kenny, and Mick from the band.   I was unaware of the Byron action.
    
You and Carl both had serious health issues in the past 2 years.  How has that affected your drive and desire to create new stuff?  And are you guys in to some new routines brought about by these health issues?

Only as far as exercise and diet, we still have the desire to play, and to create.

KJ,  July 2012

ASIA – new album XXX

XXX had received rave reviews, many hailing it as the best since that first album. Geoff Downes is the band’s keyboard player and major songwriter – having contributed to such classic Asia songs as “Heat of The Moment”, “Only Time Will Tell”, “Don’t Cry” and numerous others [along with John Wetton]. Prior to Asia, Geoff had been part of “The Buggles”, before joining Yes for the Drama LP in 1980, a band he rejoined in 2011.  In this interview Geoff discusses Asia’s ‘new’ reunion era, as well as the album XXX, as well as reflects on the band’s historic debut album.


What are the challenges and rewards this time around with the line-up of Asia? [What makes things easier and more rewarding, and what has changed that you need to work harder or differently at?].

Whenever we make a new album, it’s always a challenge. Not only to write the material, but also make sure we can do it justice in the live setting. The reward is knowing we have new music to play to people, not just relying on the early ‘classic’ material. Simply, nothing has really changed since we began the band. The main suspects are all still there – alive and well, thankfully!

First, just wanted to ask you – what have been some of the highlights since the band returned in 2006?

It’s been interesting to say the least. We all went into it not really with any great expectations or plans for the future. It seemed a nice path to take for all of us at the time and since then it’s been hugely enjoyable. That’s one of the main reasons that it’s still a going concern today.

Can you tell me a bit about some of tracks from ‘Phoenix” and “Omega”, such as “Never Again”, “An Extraordinary Life”, “I Believe” and “Finger On The Trigger”? [these being my favorites. Curious if you’d have any particular faves?]   “Finger On The Trigger” was first recorded with John Wetton, but re-worked for “Omega”.  Curious if there’s other tracks from “XXX” that may have been around for a while?

We wrote most of the material for these albums in dedicated writing periods before the start of the albums. Actually, with the exception of FOTT which had already recorded on the ICON CD Rubicon by John and myself. I think the record label saw it as being appropriate as an ASIA song. NA & AEL all written specifically with ASIA in mind. No actual full songs remain from these albums, but there are some interesting unused snippets of ideas.

You stuck with Mike Paxman as producer again, as opposed to producing yourselves. How was Mike to work with?

Mike did a great job with Omega, and provided us with a comfortable and relaxed environment in the studio. We felt he kept a very good balance between all the band members not only musically but also personally. We got to know him as a friend too, and so we had no hesitation in asking him back to help us make the XXX album.

The songs on XXX are mainly written by yourself and John Wetton. How did that work out, as [going back to the first album] – there was more band credits? [Might we hear more from Steve and Carl in the future?]

Certainly, historically a fair percentage of the band compositions have emanated from John and me. That’s not to say that that diminishes Steve’s contributions. Actually, Steve has 3 co-writes on this XXX, which is the same as he contributed on ASIA. But yeah, a full group composition might be interesting for the next album!

What is the ‘process’ of yourself and John writing together? Do either of you tend to come up with more of the words, or more of the melodies, etc… ? 

The music is usually jointly collated. It’s quite rare that any of our songs end up as being the whole of one our individual ideas. I think that’s the beauty of it and why it works so well, is, that weave together two of our ideas and come up with – well, something different. John does most of the lyrics, but I’ll throw in the odd title or line here and there. I think it’s important for John that HE believes in what he’s singing about.

Can you give me a few lines on your Asia bandmates? [Having worked them 30 years ago, and currently, and what’s changed in the way you all get along and work together]

The thing with this band is that we are all very different personalities. In the early days, this could at times cause conflict, or conversely work in a very positive fashion. Since we got back together we have focused collectively on the latter. There’s a very strong level of respect between the four of us, and the chemistry is still there. That’s what’s important.

The new album seems [IMO] a bit more upbeat/rockier. I love “tomorrow The World” [and that intro], “Face On The Bridge”, Bury Me In Willow”, “Judas” …  Can you give me a few lines about some of the songs – as to what inspired them or how they came about, lyrics, etc…?

We wanted to give the fans something a bit more upbeat this time. That’s not to say our previous albums have any less substance. It’s sometimes just how they turn out in terms of balance, but it’s not possible to second-guess this when you embark on a new album such as XXX. The songs are based on hope and inspiration. They are more spiritual without being religious. But bottom line is, it’s better to listen to music than talk about it to be honest.

I enjoyed “Phoenix” and “Omega”, but think this album is stronger all around. How happy are you guys with its outcome and how it stands up with previous Asia albums?

Honestly, we think it ranks up there with some of our best historical work. Having said that, some people will get more out of one album than another, so it’s all a matter of choice and personal taste really. I think we’re more proud of the fact that, we’re still here making fresh and inspiring new music 30 years on. That’s more than quite a lot of bands could say these days!

You’ve also done 2 videos for this album [Face On the Bridge and Faithful]. Might there be any further videos to promote any other tracks?

No, that’s it. Two’s enough!

You guys obviously have a lot of material to choose from for a live set. Curious how much of the new album will be featured, and what ‘staples’ are there from the previous 2 albums?

The set will be made up of all the ASIA albums that have featured the four original members. Of course there will be some of the signature songs from the first two 80’s albums, but we will also be incorporating material from the last three.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the debut album. Reflecting back, what are your fondest memories of that period and what can fans expect [aside from the CD re-issue] to commemorate its release? Any chance there’ll be a live performance of that complete album?

There are many great memories to savour when that 1st album really took off, too many to mention. We had worked long and hard on that for a year prior to its release, so our efforts were thoroughly rewarded. It was an exciting time for us. So it might be appropriate to turn the clock back and play the whole of that album again, like we did on the first tour. But there again, a show is all about balance, and it’s important for us to feature the newer music as well.

Beyond Asia, what else are you working on these days? Any Yes projects, solo outings, … ?

Well yeah, aside from recording the new ASIA CD, I’ve been involved with a number of projects over the last year or two. Specifically, my return to YES which has been a real privilege, and great fun to be back involved with those guys again. But also, I’ve been working with singer/songwriter Chris Braide on an album, as well as a whole host of other projects, so it’s very busy times for me right now!

KJJ,  July 2012

LINKS:

https://asiaband.lnk.to/OLB1FA?fbclid=IwAR0odqihqVus8Ur7XyZqSpBITlkunXyI_OhjcwdXU73QrRUMcdlnYXHIhb0

https://asiaband.lnk.to/reunionalbumsFA?fbclid=IwAR1pv0tQ00d6wzPpD3HZis_BLN4l_ARsePUGf4fGLWlbncax6o_kW6kuI-k

https://johnwettonlegacy.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1377795682293955

https://geoffdownes.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Geoffrey.Downes.Official

https://www.facebook.com/asiatheband

KJ, 10/’21

ASIA – Official Live Bootlegs: Volume 1, Box Set To Be Released.

The Official Live BootlegsVolume 1 Out on 26th November
12th October 2021: Multi-platinum selling English supergroup ASIA are to release a 10CD boxset The Official Live Bootlegs Volume 1 through BMG Records on 26th November 2021. There will also be a digital album featuring a selection of 24 tracks taken from the full boxset, out on the same day.

Pre-order it here:-https://asiaband.lnk.to/OLB1PR

When ASIA came out on the scene in 1982, they were a huge global success with their debut single “Heat Of The Moment” and debut album – which was #1 on the US Billboard charts for 9 weeks! The band was instantly dubbed a ‘supergroup’ based on the success and achievements of it’s band members – ASIA: Geoff Downes (The Buggles, YES, keyboards), Steve Howe (YES, solo, guitars), Carl Palmer (Emerson, Lake & Palmer, drums) and John Wetton (King Crimson, UK, Uriah Heep, bass/vocals).

Asia Discography - Progrography

The original foursome recorded just 2 albums, the self-titled debut, which also included the hits (“Only Time Will Tell” and “Sole Survivor”), followed by 1983’s Alpha (which featured the big hit “Don’t Cry”). Soon after John Wetton left the band, then returned, followed by Steve Howe’s departure (Howe went on to the successful GTR project, before resuming a solo career). The band carried on, making one further album with Mandy Meyer, and a few singles beyond that, before splitting up. Geoff Downes later formed a new version of the band (w/ John Payne), and Wetton went on to record a number of solo albums). The original line-up reunited in 2006, releasing Fantasia : Live In Tokyo (2007), and would release 3 further studio albums – Phoenix (2008), Omega (2010), and XXX (2012), before Howe left again (to focus on YES), and the band recorded just 1 further album in 2014 (Gravitas, with Sam Coulson), before the passing of John Wetton in 2017.

ASIA didn’t release an official Live album in their original line-up until the reunion happened, although there were radio shows and audience recordings out there from the ’80s, as well as now hard to find series From The Asia Archives in the early 2000s (which I might think included some of these shows came from?). So, this Volume 1 of the bands “official Bootleg” recordings will be easier to obtain and a nice addition to their catalogue for fans. The 5 shows in this slipcase box set include > 1982 (Buffalo, NY, USA), 1983 (Worcester, MA, USA), 2007 (São Paulo, Brazil), 2008 (Tokyo, Japan) and 2010 (London, UK), with all shows taking up 2 CDs each. *BMG also recently released a 5CD slip box of the ‘reunion’ albums. As one who has very little live Asia, I am looking forward to this.

Live Music: Asia in Cleveland, Ohio, 8/13/10 – Popdose

“This historical collection represents some of our finest and most defining live moments,” says Geoff Downes, “from the very first ASIA tour in 1982 and the Alpha tour the following year through three of our many ‘Reunion’ shows. It was such a privilege to take ASIA’s music to these different continents and feel the warmth and support from fans all over the world. We hope this brings back great memories and inspires others to appreciate the music of ASIA”. 

This the first time these recordings have been made officially available by ASIA and they are presented together in a superb collector’s edition boxset with original artwork by Roger Dean, who created all of ASIA’s album artwork.

ASIA THE OFFICIAL LIVE BOOTLEGS – VOLUME 1PRE-ORDER HERE: https://asiaband.lnk.to/OLB1PR

Website: https://originalasia.com/

Facebook – Original AsiaTwitter – @OriginalAsiaInstagram – asiatheband

KJ, Oct/’21

ALAN LANCASTER : RIP Original STATUS QUO Bass Player

My friend and major STATUS QUO Fan Alex Gitlin looks at the career and highlights of the band’s founding bass player.

RIP Alan Lancaster, the original bass player of Status Quo, the British blues-boogie institution, and the irreplaceable 1/4 of the Frantic Four

He passed away from multiple sclerosis on 26th September 2021 in Sydney, Australia, aged 72.

During their incredible run between the first album in 1968, Picturesque Matchstickable – Messages from the Status Quo, and his somewhat acrimonious split from the band in the mid-80s (he’d relocated to Australia in 1977), he performed on 12 top 10 UK albums and 17 top 10 UK singles.

Alan’s last gig with Quo, prior to the reunion in the 21st century, was opening the Live Aid at the Wembley Stadium in London.

In 2013-14, the original Frantic Four reunited for one last fling, touring the UK, Germany, Holland, Belgium and France.  Each gig was greeted emotionally by fans who’d been waiting for this reunion since 1981, the year drummer John Coghlan departed.

Although by now there were signs of his debilitating disease beginning to show (at one point there were rumours of the pick being taped to his hand), he soldiered on with the “no time like the present” attitude, giving the fans exactly what they’d come for. His bass, alongside Coghlan’s drumming, was the locomotive engine that was the classic Quo rhythm section.

It was around 1970 when Quo had disposed of psychedelic frills and kaftans, replacing them with denim and growing their hair long. For the band’s third album, Ma Kelly’s Greasy Spoon, which tentatively pre-defined their to-be trademark sound, he wrote Daughter and Is it Really Me/Gotta Go Home.

The following year’s Dog of Two Head, the wheels were fully in motion, and here Alan contributed Umleitung (a co-write with keyboardist Roy Lynes), Something’s Going on in My Head, and Someone’s Learning.  This was also their last album for Pye, in 1972 Status Quo were signed to Vertigo.

On their breakthru 1972 Piledriver album, Alan co-wrote A Year with Bernie Frost and All The Reasons with Rick Parfitt.  He also sang lead on the cover of the Doors’ Roadhouse Blues, which became a live staple for the band.

On the 1973 stone-cold classic, Hello, the entire band wrote Roll Over Lay Down, UK No. 9 and top 10 in many countries in Europe; on Blue Eyed Lady, co-written by Alan and Rick Parfitt, the vocals were shared by Alan and Francis Rossi. And also he had a hand in writing Softer Ride (sung by Rossi).

On 1974’s Quo, he handled the lead vocals on four tracks, Backwater, Just Take Me, Drifting Away, and Don’t Think It Matters, and co-wrote six.

As the band was in the middle of a purple patch of hit singles and albums, 1975’s On The Level, considered by many as the finest in the band’s entire catalogue, he wrote Broken Man (also singing lead) and Over And Done.  And he handled the lead vocals on another cover, Chuck Berry’s Bye Bye Johnny, also a great live favorite.

1976’s Blue For You has Alan on lead vocals and writing contributions on the opener, Is There a Better Way, the seminal and bluesy title track, Rolling Home and Ease Your Mind.

By 1977, the tide was turning, Quo were a mainstay on the European rock circuit, selling out arenas in Germany, but their sound became a bit softer, although the writing quality remained steadfastly top-notch. Here on Rockin’ All Over The World Alan contributed Let’s Ride, You Don’t Own Me, co-written with Mick Green [of The Pirates], and Too Far Gone.

They continued to pursue the same direction of commercial British pop-rock with a boogie edge in 1978, with If You Can’t Stand the Heat…, here Alan’s contributions are Gonna Teach You To Love Me and Stones. By this time, Alan had moved residencies to Oz, while the relationship between the dynamic duo Rossi-Parfitt had soured due to the out-of-control use of drugs.

In 1979, Whatever You Want (the album) reached No. 4 in the UK, and here Alan contributed Who Asked You and High Flyer.  And the following year, on Just Supposin‘ – Over the Edge (a co-write with Keith Lamb), The Wild Ones and Name of the Game (co-written with Rossi and the band’s keyboardist Andy Bown).

1981’s Never Too Late also had two of Alan’s songs, Mountain Lady and Don’t Stop Me Now (once again a Bown co-write). And the following year’s cleverly titled 1+9+8+2 (equals 20, commemorating the twenty years since the band’s inception in 1962) had Alan’s I Love Rock and Roll, I Want The World To Know (another one co-written with Lamb) and Big Man (once again co-written with Mick Green).

Back To Back in 1983 became the final album for Alan Lancaster, who contributed Ol’ Rag Blues (co-written with Lamb) and Your Kind of Love, while he was reportedly distraught over Rossi’s Marguerita Time betraying the band’s classic heads-down no-nonsense boogie sound. When they appeared on BBC’s Top of the Pops to mime to the single, his place was taken by Jim Lea of Slade. Elsewhere on other television appearances, he was replaced with a cardboard cutout.

R.I.P. to the diamond geezer and the seminal part of classic Quo. Whether it’s his singing, bass playing or songwriting, he didn’t do things by halves, putting his heart and soul into what’s now regarded worldwide as the British rock legend.

Written by Alex Gitlin. Alex is part of the band Mad Painter – https://www.facebook.com/groups/1688232924794537/ . You can also check out his rock history & review site – https://alexgitlin.com/

Links:

http://www.statusquo.co.uk

http://www.quogigophry.net

http://www.statusquo.org.uk

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/obituaries/2021/09/28/alan-lancaster-bass-guitarist-underpinned-status-quos-hard-driving/

https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-58698864

09 / ’21

PETER HESSLEIN – Talks About New Solo Album & New Lucifer’s Friend Compilation

For Lucifer’s Friend fans, despite the recent deaths of both Dieter Horns and John Lawton [Dec ’20 / June ’21], there are a couple of upcoming releases that will [hopefully] lift fans’ spirits. October will see the second solo release – Night Drive 2, from guitarist Peter Hesslein, and in December there will be the Lucifer’s Friend compilation The Last Stand. In this exchange Peter Hesslein gives some answers regarding both of these new releases, as well as future releases that fans can look forward to.

*For pre-ordering of both of these CDs check out > http://www.cherryred.co.uk

Regarding Night Drive albums: 

How was response to the first one? 

The reaction to the first Night Drive album was a huge surprise for me, with unanimously positive reviews, I had planned the album for myself to relax and to bridge the gap until the next Lucifer’s friends album for the loyal fans, I was initially a little insecure as the rock lovers can be felt, I was immediately motivated to find a successor with many good reactions, especially since John still had not started with the vocals, although the playbacks were completely finished.

When was the 2nd Night Drive recorded? and does it differ much from the first one?

Night Drive 2 was finished in May 21st, it’s a little more rocking than number one.

After so many years of working in bands or with other people, how did you enjoy recording solely for yourself?  

Working while listening to top musicians from all over the world naturally shaped me, as I have already done everything myself for Lucifer’s Friend and John had given the vocals, it was a habit for me.

Do you foresee yourself doing another such solo album, or is there something else [musical direction] you’d like to record in? 

I finished the recordings for Night Drive 3 and I even aimed it towards Brazilian music, inspired by my long-time friend and percussion player Pablo Escayola

Nice. when is this planned for release?

In May 2022.

Lucifer’s Friend :

The Last Stand compiles songs from the LF albums ’94 to 2019. Is this basically your own choices or how did you choose the tracks? 

The Last Stand was supposed to be the new Lucifer’s Friend album, as this wasn’t possible now, management decided to turn it into a sampler of tracks from the last four albums. I chose these songs in the sense of being John’s favorite songs.

Is there more Lucifer’s Friend stuff in the vaults that could be released — be they leftover studio tracks, demos…? 

Lucifer’s Friend only have playbacks without vocals.

You had mentioned previously a LF recording from Japan. Might this be something you could still release, and is there any other live recordings that was  could be issued? 

There is a live recording from Japan, but unfortunately the quality is too poor to be released.

Regarding the unfinished LF album –  I understand that everything was done except for the vocals!? If so, is this something that could be finished musically OR with ‘guest’ singers? 

The management has decided to close the chapter of Lucifer’s Friend for the time being.

Curious if there were any song titles [?]

Since John always wrote his lyrics shortly beforehand, so unfortunately, none exist.

Is there any chance we could still get proper CD reissues of the entire Lucifer’s Friend catalogue? [maybe a box set]

When the management gets the rights for a box set from the different companies, maybe at the end of ’23.

Is this something that is being planned with a particular record company? 

That is planned with Cherry Red. 

Might you consider writing a memoir of your career in music? 

My rheumatism makes it difficult to write.

Links:

https://www.cherryred.co.uk/product/peter-hesslein-night-drive-2/

https://www.facebook.com/Lucifersfriendph

https://www.facebook.com/LucifersFriendOfficial

*Photos courtesy of Richard Wagner.

KJ, 09 / ’21

SPIRIT – Sunrise And Salvation [Box Set]

In my teenage years I came across Spirit, probably from “I Got A Line On You” or a few other classics on Toronto radio. I think I picked up the LP Spirit of ’84, with all the remakes of the few songs I knew. On one of my excursions to downtown Toronto with my uncle when I was 14 or 15 I picked up a number of Spirit albums in various used shops along Yonge Street – heck, I’ve still got a few stickers from those stores on my records! (Peter Dunn’s Vinyl Museum was a favorite stop). Years later I had written an address I found for Spirit in a magazine (I assume), as I was writing the odd review for a local music magazine. Sometime in late 1996 I received a package from their management, and it was a letter from Randy California, along with the band’s latest [and last] CD – California Blues. I reviewed it sometime soon after, and not too long after read that California had drowned off the coast of Hawaii. It was sad news indeed. I (obviously) still have that CD as well as the letter, which I will dig out and post here sometime.

• NEW REMASTERED EIGHT DISC BOXED SET FEATURING EACH ALBUM RECORDED BY THE LEGENDARY BAND SPIRIT RELEASED BY THE MERCURY LABEL
BETWEEN 1975 AND 1977 AND IN 1984
• PLUS 102 PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED LIVE RECORDINGS AND DEMOS COMPILED BY SPRIT ARCHIVIST MICK SKIDMORE
• INCLUDES THE ALBUMS ‘SPIRIT OF ‘76’, ‘SON OF SPIRIT’, ‘FARTHER ALONG’, ‘FUTURE GAMES’, AND ‘THE THIRTEENTH DREAM (SPIRIT OF ’84)’
REMASTERED FROM THE ORIGINAL MERCURY MASTER TAPES PLUS A BOOKLET WITH NEW ESSAY BY MICK SKIDMORE.


A very thorough 8 CD set from one of American’s classic late 60s / 70s bands. Sprit may be better known for their earlier material like The 12 Dreams Of Dr Sardonicus [the band’s 4th album] and the hits like “I Got A Line On You” and “Nature’s Way”, but the band carried on for years, and this box set compiles the band’s recordings during the mid 70s and 1984, while on Mercury Records. It includes the 5 albums recorded during this time, as well as a disc of demos & live tracks, a previously unreleased live show from ’75, a disc of studio outtakes from 74-75 + Randy California demos, and the 5 discs of the albums all contain a number of bonus tracks. There’s over a 100 previously unreleased tracks here! So safe to say a must have for Spirit fans.

This collection starts with 1975’s Spirit Of ’76, which saw a new line-up of the band. Following 1970’s highly successful-classic 12 Dreams Of Dr Sardonicus, Jay Ferguson and Mark Andes also left to form Jo-Jo Gunne, and following a riding accident and head injury Randy California also left, and would record a solo album Kaptain Kopter and the (Fabulous) Twirly Birds. Founder/drummer Ed Cassidy and keyboardist John Locke recorded Feedback in ’72 with a new line-up, before Cassidy and California [his stepson] got back together and eventually created the double album – Spirit Of ’76. Recorded as 3-piece, Spirit Of ’76 consists of 25 tracks, largely written by California & Cassidy with favorites like “Victim Of Society”, “Sunrise”, and the gospel ballad “Thank You Lord”. For being mid ’70s, this album still has a definite ’60s psych feel throughout, with plenty of folk, blues, rock, country influences, as well as off spoken word, and a number of interesting covers such as Dylan’s “The Times They Are A Changing”, “Like A Rolling Stone”, the Stones “Happy”, as well as “Hey Joe” – tho’ not penned by Hendrix, California had played with Hendrix early in his career. There’s 14 bonus tracks on the 2nd disc, consisting of alternate takes and live tracks recorded in ’74.

Next up was Son Of Spirit, recorded later in ’75, followed by 1976’s Farther Along. These 2 albums make up disc 3, along with 5 bonus tracks. Son Of Spirit, still recorded as a trio, with Barry Keene on bass, included almost all Randy California material, a bit more country-ish in places, featured the single “Holy Man” and a cover of The Beatles’ “Yesterday”. Farther Along saw Spirit return to being a 5 piece with Locke and Andes returning, as well as Matt Andes on guitar/vocals. I liked this album a lot more, though it took on a number of new styles, as well as strings on some tracks, horns on a couple. Favorites include “Stoney Night”, “Mega Star”, “Diamond Spirit”… the title track was issued as the single (and a live version is included among the bonus cuts), and it closed with a instrumental string version of “Nature’s Way”. The band’s final album for Mercury in the ’70s was 1977’s Future Games, which seems like more of a Randy California solo project, mainly written by California, and a bit of help on a few tracks from Cassidy, as well as guests like Kim Fowley. A strange album , featuring no other original band members [aside from Cassidy]. It’s like some strange sci-fi concept with all sorts of odd tv clips inserted, and sound effects, amongst the 22 [!!] titles, many of which clock in around or just under a minute. It does include a decent cover of “All Along The Watchtower”. Tacked on the Future Games disc is 11 bonus tracks, including alternate takes and demos. 1984’s The Thirteenth Dream (aka Spirit Of ’84) saw the original band reunited again. The band would re-record many of their classics, as well as include a few new songs. I liked this album, as it was nicely up to date at the time, and a bit heavier. It also featured a number of guests, notably Bob Welch, Howard Leese, Neal Doughty, and Matt Andes. The disc is filled out by a half dozen excellent sounding live tracks from 1986. Disc #6 is titled Spirit Of Salvation and is full of unreleased studio material from 1974-75, as well as a pile of Randy California demos. Next up is a 15 song concert from the Armadillo in Austin, Texas, recorded in June of ’75. A really solid performance and recording, features a killer rendition of “All Along The Watchtower”. The 8th (last) disc consists of the Future Games demos, and I really dig this, as you can hear the songs better without so much clutter; sounds very good. It is completed with 8 live tracks recorded at the Agora in 1975; among them is a great 9 minute take of “Like A Rolling Stone”, as well as excellent performances of such classics as “Mr Skin” and “I Got A Line On You” – to close things out.

This is a very thorough and valuable collection of one of America’s great, underrated bands. Loads of different material album to album, and so much bonus material, with live stuff, makes this a highly recommended addition to any Spirit fan’s collection, as well as a cool piece for curious types who don’t want to pick up the band’s output separately.

Incidentally, this is the latest Spirit box set from Cherry Red, as there are a number of others, covering every era of the band, and Randy California’s work.

KJ. 09/’21

Added links:

https://www.loudersound.com/features/spirit-interview-we-were-one-of-the-first-progressive-bands

http://www.progarchives.com/artist.asp?id=2643

https://www.facebook.com/RandyCaliforniaSpirit

PETER GOALBY : Post Heep Solo Recordings Finally Get Official Release!

Peter Goalby left Uriah Heep following 1985’s Equator album and world tour. His first move was to release a single under the name Perfect Stranger in 1988. The singer, who also was a major songwriter during his time in Heep would resurface on the band’s 1989 album Raging Silence, as he wrote the single “Blood Red Roses”. As well he wrote “Falling Apart”, for Smokie on their 1989 album Boulevard Of Broken Dreams. He would also record a number of tracks for a solo project in 1990. A few of these tracks would see the light of day on official releases – “Mona Lisa Smile” was issued as a single in 1988, co-written & arranged by guitarist Robin George [ex Byron Band], and produced by Mickie Most. That track, as well as “Chance Of A Lifetime” [also on Easy With The Heartaches] were also recorded by UK band Estrella for their 2012 album Come Out To Play [an album produced by former Heep keyboardist John Sinclair]. Peter also wrote for a few other artists [notably John Parr], as well as guested on stage with Uli Roth, but would retire from the business, and taking on a job for a guitar company. But these recordings would later find their way out on the internet – bootlegged to download or on Youtube. His 1990 unreleased solo album was no secret amongst Goalby’s fans. Recently retired, and knowing these are the last things he wrote and recorded, and was proud of, the singer finally decided it might be a good idea to get his lost solo album out as an official release. Easy With The Heartaches features 11 tracks personally overseen (from tape transfer, mastering and artwork) by Peter Goalby. And here’s hoping that fans enjoy it, it’s not the last we hear from him!

Track Listing:

1 Easy With The Heartaches
2 Hold The Dreams
3 I Found Real Love
4 Chance Of A Lifetime
5 Mona Lisa Smile
6 They’ll Never Find Us (Running For Our Lives)
7 I Used To Be Your Lover
8 Take Another Look
9 Perfection
10 I Built This House
11 The Last Time

*Also released on the same label in 2019 was a 2 CD Trapeze compilation , which includes a previously unreleased live show featuring Peter Goalby [his debut with the band] from 1977. https://www.cherryred.co.uk/product/trapeze-leavin-the-bad-times-behind-the-best-of-trapeze-2cd/

GOLDEN EARRING : Moontan Remastered & Expanded

Golden Earring – Moontan (Gatefold, Vinyl) - Discogs

Golden Earring’s best known album, and their biggest success in North America, Moontan is a ’70s must hear classic album, not only boasting the band’s biggest hit, but also a number of live favorites, with 4 cuts featuring on the band’s awesome 1977 Live album. It featured a cover photo from Dutch photographer Ronnie Hertz, a pic perhaps too much for North America where this market got a different cover or …an earring!

MOONTAN – REMASTERED & EXPANDED To be released September 10.

New expanded 2CD edition of the 1973 classic Golden Earring album, featuring the worldwide hit Radar Love

For the first time ever remastered from the first-generation master tapes.

Featuring 9 previously unreleased mixes/different versions

Featuring 6 bonus tracks, including Big Tree, Blue Sea (1973 version) and Instant Poetry

Including a 32-page booklet with a new essay, memorabilia, and photos

Founded in 1961 by George Kooymans and Rinus Gerritsen, Dutch rock band Golden Earring (or Golden Earrings, until 1969) started off as a beat-band, experimented as a psychedelic quartet and finally became a heavy rock group. Their ninth album Moontan (1973) hit the international album charts and is the band’s most successful album in the United States, being the only Golden Earring album to be certified Gold by the RIAA. The single “Radar Love” reached #10 on the Cash Box Top 100 and #13 in Billboard in the United States. It also hit the Top 10 in many countries – including The Netherlands (#1), Spain (#1), Germany (#5), United Kingdom (#7), Canada (#10) and Australia (#10) – and consequently became a bonafide international classic rock song. In June 2020, the original master-tapes of this classic album were unearthed for a long-awaited remastered edition – 48 years after its original release.

Alongside a fresh remaster from the IBC Studios first-generation album masters, six bonus tracks have been added, including the 1973 remake of “Big Tree”, “Blue Sea” that was added to the UK and US editions of the original album, the original single versions of “Radar Love” and “Candy’s Going Bad”, the B-side “The Song Is Over” and the 1974 single “Instant Poetry”.

In addition, a second CD entitled The Moontan Sessions features nine previously unreleased mixes/different versions that give insight into the whole production process of the album. Taken from a variety of archive tapes, these include the original basic recordings of “Radar Love”, “The Song Is Over”, “Are You Receiving Me” and “Vanilla Queen”, taped in early 1973 at Phonogram Studios in Hilversum (The Netherlands), which were overdubbed and finished at London’s IBC Studios in July 1973. All tracks have been 24 bit/192 kHz remastered from the original master-tapes.

A special 2LP edition of Moontan (remastered & expanded) released by Music On Vinyl will follow in early 2022. This 2CD edition of Moontan starts off a special series of remastered & expanded albums by Golden Earring, overseen by Red Bullet catalogue and band archivist Wouter Bessels.

No photo description available.

TRACKLISTING

CD 1: Original album version remastered plus bonus tracks
1. Candy’s Going Bad 6.13
2. Are You Receiving Me 9.32
3. Suzy Lunacy (Mental Rock) 4.26
4. Radar Love 6.26
5. Just Like Vince Taylor 4.22
6. Vanilla Queen 9.19
BONUS TRACKS:
7. Big Tree, Blue Sea (1973 version) 8.12
8. Candy’s Going Bad (single version) 2.52
9. Radar Love (single version) 3.45
10. The Song Is Over 4.52
11. Instant Poetry 5.08
12. From Heaven, From Hell (1974 version) 6.05

CD 2: The Moontan Sessions
1. Vanilla Queen (early version) 10.03
2. Radar Love (basic track) 6.27
3. The Song Is Over (basic track) 5.14
4. Are You Receiving Me (basic track) 9.30
5. Candy’s Going Bad (rough mix) 4.06
6. Vanilla Queen part 1 (rough mix) 5.36
7. Just Like Vince Taylor (alternate mix) 4.27
8. Big Tree, Blue Sea part 1 (rough mix) 3.14
9. Radar Love (instrumental mono mix) 6.30

Moontan (remastered & expanded) will be released by Red Bullet Productions on 10 September 2021 and will be available through all renowned worldwide music dealers and online shops.

https://styrous.blogspot.com/2019/07/20000-vinyl-lp-191-golden-earring.html

[pre order] https://shop.rockart.nl/product-categorie/golden-earring-diversen/

Story Behind The Album Cover : Grand Funk’s Shinin’ On

Released in March of 1974 – Shinin’ On is one of my favorite Grand Funk albums! Shinin’ On is known for including the band’s #1 hit single – “The Loco-Motion”, the classic title track [love that organ solo], And for the unique 3D cover! Anyone who has seen this cover in it’s original LP form, knows it came with a 3D cover & tear away 3D glasses, a poster, even upcoming tour dates on the inner sleeve … an amazing package. The cover / package concept & design was credited to Lynn Goldsmith and Andrew Cavaliere. Lynn worked not only as the band’s photographer, but also directed the 1973 promotional film for We’re An American Band, and created a number of other Grand Funk & Mark Farner [solo] covers,. She would also be credited on hundreds of album covers for art directing, creating, and photography by the likes of Alice Cooper, Tom Petty, Ted Nugent, Patti Smith Group, Ian Hunter, and loads more in various genres.

You can find out more about Lynn’s career and her massive list of credits, and classic albums she was a part of at :

Earlier this year I had written Lynn with questions about Shinin’ On, and a few weeks back she was kind enough to reply via a video on her Facebook page. It’s a very interesting clip, detailing the album cover, and and a good bit of insight into her time with Grand Funk. Any Grand Funk fan will want to check it out. Thanks to Lynn Goldsmith for this video. [below, enjoy!]

https://fb.watch/7ADlBXPvLA/

KJ, 08/’21

JOHN LAWTON : 15 Classic Career Spanning Tracks

No description available.

It was just over a week ago that the shocking news that British singer John Lawton had passed away on June 29 came out. July 11th would’ve been John’s 75th birthday. Though best known for his time with Lucifer’s Friend and Uriah Heep, John had a very lengthy career full of great recordings — not only the 2 major bands he was known for, but plenty of one-off projects, solo albums, singles, guest appearances. One thing that is undeniable is that regardless of who John was performing with – it was his vocals that stood out. A buddy of mine used to say – “he could sing the phone book and make it sound great!”.

I’ve picked 15 tracks from throughout John’s career to celebrate his life and recordings. And this is just a scratch on how much great stuff the man was a part of. *Please leave a few favorite tracks in the comments.

Ride The Sky – Lucifer’s Friend

The best known song from Lucifer’s Friend, and probably the most well known vocal from John. He and the band sounding like they could fit in alongside the biggest names in early hard-rock / metal in 1970. Covered by a few bands, most notably Avantasia. One of a few LF songs that John would later include in his live repertoire for years. Lucifer’s Friend [II] would also re-record the song in 1994 for Sumo Grip.

Burning Ships – Lucifer’s Friend

From Lucifer’s Friend’s 2nd album – Where The Groupies Killed The Blues. An acoustic ballad that builds up. One of John’s trademark numbers, and many o’ Lucifer’s Friend fans’ favorite song. More recently Jason Kane & The Jive did an excellent cover of this. *I’ve included the 2015 live version here, as I’d previously included the original studio take in my post on John’s passing. I think the band still did an incredible job on this 43+ years later!

Mama Loo – The Les Humphries Singers

Many people may not realize that John’s main gig prior to Uriah Heep was recording and touring with The Les Humphries Singers, a pop band featuring a number of great singers, who played many top hits [covers], as well as songs written by Les Humphries. This was written by Les, and was the group’s biggest hit, with John singing lead.

High Flying Lady (Goodbye) – Lucifer’s Friend

From Lucifer’s Friend’s most ambitious album, and the one John cited as his favorite – Banquet. It was one album he’d have liked to have performed live in full. This is the a great upbeat rocker, full of brass, great production, and amazing vocal from John.

Little Chalk Blue – Roger Glover’s Butterfly Ball

John sang on this track written and recorded for Roger Glover’s 1974 theatrical album The Butterfly Ball And Grasshopper’s Feast. A sweet orchestrated ballad. It was issued as a single and part of an EP, but not on the 1974 LP. John would perform it at the 1975 live staging of The Butterfly Ball, where he also sang the song “Love Is All”.

Wiseman – Uriah Heep

Written by Ken Hensley, “Wiseman” was a minor hit in Europe. It’s a classic Heep ballad, and John once cited it as the first song he sang with the band. He would keep it in his live repertoire years later, and re-recorded it with Steve Dunning for their 2002 album Steppin’ It Up. The song also earned Heep a spot on UK TV show Top Of The Pops.

Free N Easy – Uriah Heep

John wrote a few songs on the last few Heep albums, and a couple of them were the heaviest things the band did during this period. “Free N Easy” [co-credited to Mick Box] was a huge fan favorite, from Innocent Victim [altho’ “Free Me” was the massive hit in some countries during this era]. The band would bring this one back in more recent years, and it would feature on the band’s Live In Europe ’79 album, as well as John’s reunion album with Ken Hensley – The Return.

Hey Driver – Lucifer’s Friend

After leaving Heep, following the recording of a 4th [as yet released] album, John recorded a solo album [co-written with Peter Hesslein, and using Lucifer’s Friend as the backing band], followed by an awesome reunion album with LF – Mean Machine. A return to straight ahead hard-rock, influenced by the New Of British Heavy Metal at the time. One of my top 3 LF albums with so many great hard rockers to chose from.

Heart Of The Night – Zar

In the early ’80s John sang on an album by German hard-rock band Rebel, featuring Tommy Clauss on guitar. Another opportunity arose for John to step in and recording with Clauss again at the end of the decade with the band Zar. Released in 1990, Live Your Live Forever was a fairly commercial sounding heavy metal album, full of killer tunes. John proving he could still rock as hard as he did on the first Lucifer’s Friend album.

Don’t Stop Believing – Gunhill

Gunhill was the band John formed in the mid ’90s. They were primarily a working band, doing plenty of covers, some originals, and a few from John’s past. They did release a CD in 1997 titled Nightheat, which included this as the opener. Written by John, I really liked this one, and a the band’s few other originals here.

Tonight – John Lawton [solo] / Uriah Heep

John was extremely busy in the early 2000s, with Gunhill coming to an end, and a few other projects, a new band, and this solo album from 2000 titled Still Payin’ My Dues To The Blues. A great set of lighter blues and blues based tracks. This is an outstanding ballad that John originally wrote and recorded as part of the 4th [unreleased] album with Uriah Heep. John also re-did this one with Steve Dunning in 2002 Should be interesting to hear Heep’s version.

Written On The Wall – John Lawton Band

The short lived John Lawton Band followed Gunhill, and the band toured and would release this line album, as well as a live DVD . Sting In The Tale was a solid set of blues based rockers. This is the stand-out track for me, a nice heavy rock song.

Steal The Night – OTR

OTR [On The Rocks] was a short-lived project John did latter day Focus guitarist Jan Dumee, as well as a few Brazllian musicians in 2008. A very different album that showed again how much John could sound great in any type of music.

Fairytale – Intelligent Music Project [Diana Express]

Intelligent Music Project is a recording band that is the brains of Bulgarian producer / songwriter Milen Vrabevski . John sang on the first 2 albums in this act. The first one billed as John Lawton & Diana Express and titled Power Of Mind.was a concept album, Diana Express being the Bulgarian band playing here as well. Again, a very different album, more adult contemporary, hard-rock, orchestrations… The ballad “Fairytale” was the first song released from the album, and the standout track John did with these albums.

Passengers – Lucifer’s Friend

From the last Lucifer’s Friend album Black Moon in 2019. A fantastic album, showing John and the band could still come up with good, memorable songs. The band had re-grouped in 2015 for a compilation album [with 4 new tracks], a live album, and a studio album Too Late To Hate in 2016.

*photo of John – courtesy of Richard Wagner

07 / ’21

TEN YEARS AFTER TO RELEASE “NATURALLY LIVE” (DELUXE EDITION)



AFTER THE SUCCESS OF “A STING IN THE TALE (DELUXE EDITION)”, TEN YEARS AFTER IS NOW RELEASING “NATURALLY LIVE” (DELUXE EDITION) THROUGH DEKO ENTERTAINMENT. THIS RELEASE COMES WITH 2 BONUS TRACKS INCLUDING “I SAY YEAH”.

Ten Years After are best known for their Platinum selling album “A Space in Time” which featured the Top 40 hit “I’d Love to Change the World“, and their prodigious performance appearance at the Woodstock Festival in upstate New York, August 1969. Their rendition of “I’m Going Home” was featured in both the subsequent film and soundtrack album and catapulted them to star status.



Original members Ric Lee and Chick Churchill have continued this legacy and are now rounded out by Guitarist/Vocalist Marcus Bonfanti and Bass Icon Colin Hodgkinson. “Naturally Live” was recorded at HsD, Erfurt, Germany on 24th March 2018 and contains live recordings such as: ”Land Of The Vandals”, “Silverspoon Lady” & “Last Night Of The Bottle” taken from their phenomenally successful studio album A Sting In The Tale. These tracks are combined with old favorites such as “I’d Love To Change The World”, “Hear Me Calling”, “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” and, of course, the Woodstock killer track “I’m Going Home”. Also included is the band’s semi-acoustic section of their current live show which features three tracks from the very early days in 1967:  “Portable People”, “Don’t Want You Woman” & “Losing The Dogs”. 

This Deluxe Edition due out August 13th also contains “I Say Yeah” which was previously only available on the vinyl edition and the previously unreleased rendition of “32-20 Blues” performed by bassist Colin Hodgkinson. Founding member Ric Lee states, “In the early days at London’s Marquee Club we did an acoustic performance where Alvin Lee played an acoustic guitar, Leo Lyons played an upright string bass, Chick played the Marquee’s acoustic piano and I went from the drum set to the front of the stage to join the guys with just a snare drum on a stand and a pair of brushes. The slot went down really well and several years later when we were playing larger venues, I suggested we played the acoustic spot again to add some variety to what we were doing. Alvin didn’t think it would work and so it didn’t happen. Much later, after Alvin had more or less retired and we had Joe Gooch on vocals and guitar I again suggested we do the acoustic set but this time Leo didn’t think it was right. 

When Marcus and Colin joined us and we were discussing new material for the set, they were both very enthusiastic about doing the three acoustic songs included on the Naturally Live (Deluxe Edition) album and it proved to be a good decision, as that part of the set goes down fantastically well with our audiences. “I Say Yeah” always sounded like an unfinished song to me so we worked out a new arrangement and it’s become somewhat anthemic and involves audience participation. 

What can I say about Colin’s performance of John Lee Hooker’s 32-20 Blues? It’s a superb showcase of his amazing bass playing and vocalizing. Colin is an extremely talented and experienced musician. The people he’s played with throughout his long career reads like a who’s who of the music business. From my point of view it’s an honor and a pleasure to have him in the Ten Years After rhythm section and, to cap it all, he’s a great guy too!”.  

“On this record you can hear a band that lives on its legacy but also wants to look ahead….New frontman Bonfanti further enhances the band’s rock image. Never before had Ten Years After a singer with such a rough and growling voice. With his equally rough guitar playing, Bonfanti is the rock star among the old veterans.” 
BLUES MAGAZINE

There are limited edition bundles (while supplies last), which can be ordered via: https://bit.ly/30fsewb

Product Includes:

– One (1) TEN YEARS AFTER – “Naturally Live (Deluxe Edition)” CD
– One (1) TEN YEARS AFTER Tee
– One (1) TEN YEARS AFTER Tote Bag
– One (1) TEN YEARS AFTER Autographed Photo
 
“Naturally Live” (Deluxe Edition) Tracklist: 

Land of the Vandals 
One Of These Days 
Hear Me Calling 
I’d Love To Change The World 
Silverspoon Lady 
Last Night Of The Bottle 
Portable People 
Don’t Want You Woman 
Losing The dogs 
50,000 Miles Beneath My Brain 
Good Morning Little Schoolgirl 
I’m Going Home 
Ric Lee Introducing TYA 
I Say Yeah (bonus track) 
32-20 Blues (bonus track) 

FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT: 

http://www.ten-years-after.co.uk/

www.dekoentertainment.comCopyright © 2021 Chipster PR & Consulting, Inc., All rights reserved.

07 / ’21