Monday, November 28, 2011

The Day After The Sabbath 56: Freedom Of Yore [Wales pt.1]

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TDATS 56 is a collection of bands from Wales, "the land of song". Expecting this to be hard, I was prepared for it take a long time to finish, like the Greek comp did for example. To my surprise it was not a hard task and I was able to wrap up the whole thing in a couple of days, I am very happy with the results! What I have found is that, although the relative number of old Welsh rock bands is low, the quality of them all is consistently great and I did not have the usual arduous task of running through & rejecting tens or hundreds of albums, as each one I discovered had at least one excellent track, in this respect I think it was the easiest regional comp to make so far...

Track List:
01. Man - Spunk Box (1969)
02. Ancient Grease - Eagle Song (1970)
03. Eyes Of Blue - 7 + 7 Is & Inspiration for a New Day (1968)
04. Love Sculpture - Nobody's Talking (1969)
05. Alkatraz - Nobody Like You (1976)
06. Fair Weather - I Hear You Knockin' (1970)
07. Brân - Y Gwylwyr (1975)
08. Quicksand - Overcome the Pattern / Flying (1973)
09. Kimla Taz - Tomorrow (1968)
10. Lone Star - The Ballad Of Crafty Jack (1977)
11. Blonde On Blonde - Ride With Captain Max (1969)
12. Sassafras - Electric Chair [Live @ The BBC] (1977)
13. The Neutrons - Snow Covered Eyes (1974)

We kick off with one of the more well-known bands on here, "Man", from South Wales' Merthyr Tydfil. Man evolved out of The Bystanders, a successful close harmony pop group. Many of their members went on to other important Welsh bands and this track is so good, sludgy and heavy with unique character. Ancient Grease (aka 'Strawberry Dust') were one of the bands here to share members with Man, including Phil Ryan and John Weathers. Their sole album 'Women And Children First' is one of my all-time favourites and they really do concoct a heavy swirling fug of groove through the whole album, along with awesome gritty vocals. I have made the entire album available (link) as I think it's one of the essentials, nuff said.

Eyes Of Blue evolved during the mid-sixties from covers and R&B band The Mustangs, based in Neath, and are one of the earliest and most important bands here. They also had later connections to Man and Ancient Grease. A good history (including many of the bands on this comp) can be found at the Man Band Archive (link) and their last recorded album was made under the alternative moniker "Big Sleep". Here they have two songs including an interesting version of Love's '7 + 7 Is', and they show their diverse mix of sounds, including 60s psych and bluesy riffs. Cardiff's Love Sculpture (1966-70) formed from the remnants of local band "The Human Beans", they played mainly straight-forward blues and released two albums, this track "Nobody's Talking" has a dragging doomy feeling that I love.

After his stint in The Neutrons (who also feature on this comp), Will Youatt joined up with his ex-Quicksand partner James Davies to found Alkatraz and I have used their blues-swaggering track "Nobody Like You". Fair Weather evolved from a split within Amen Corner, they recorded a couple of great albums, with a mix of big band/brass and hard rock, they briefly achieved success with a UK singles chart #6 hit, "Natural Sinner". Brân hailed from Bethesda in North Wales and are the only band here to record in the Welsh language (Cymraeg), their talents included ethereal vocals from Nest Howells, which lent a beautiful folky ambiance to tracks like "Y Gwylwyr". Quicksand created one album in 1973, a curious mix of heavy prog, folk and hard rock. I have joined two consecutive tracks here "Overcome the Pattern" & "Flying" to form a sprawling atmospheric trip.

Cardiff's Kimla Taz was noticed as one of the best local bands tipped by their home town heroes Love Sculpture. They later included guitarist Paul Chapman who also features on this comp in Lone Star. They play some catchy 60 style pop psych and never made an album, but have had an archival CD release in recent times. Lone Star (aka 'Iona') are up next and they undoubtedly had plenty of talent, with members who were or would be in Uriah Heep, (the Irish) Skid Row and Budgie to name a few, their vision of a hard rocking southern-tinged sci-fi based sound was a unique one! Newport's Blonde On Blonde moved to London to find their fortune and had some success with performances at festivals like the Isle Of Wight. On a side-note, guitarist Ralph Denyer went on to write the widely-selling 'The Guitar Handbook' which I have a copy of myself!

Cardiff's Sassafras, who featured one-time Love Sculpture drummer Congo Jones, were a hard working band who once held a world record of 332 live performances in one year, and they still occasionally ply their hard bluesrock to this day. The compilation ends with The Neutrons, another branch off from Man, they played early keyboard-heavy proto-prog and the track here 'Snow Covered Eyes' is backed by urgent acoustic guitar, slowly subduing into Rick Wright-style ad-libbing, as a fine lead out...

Thanks for listening! Rich

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  1. Great collection!
    I'm only missing Budgie from it (as far as I know, they're from Wales, too)

  2. Budgie certainly are from Wales, and are of course absolutely brilliant, but a little too predictable for my obscurities, everyone knows about them by now, right?

  3. got a quick question, how do you decide your cut off year? i notice some things from 77, do you go much later than that or is that your high end? its a problem i have when making these kinds of comps for myself.

  4. 79 is my cut off (being a "60s and 70s" blog) though I have used one or two tracks from 1980 if they suited, from bands that started in the 70s. I would not go later than that. Maybe one day I'll start some kind of 80s blog...

    Where can we hear your comps man? keen!

  5. This is great. The whole blog is great.

  6. i always stop about 76 myself, im more interested in the stuff that was bridging heavy/hard/rock/metal and psychedelia, heavy psych i guess its called sometimes. ive been making comps for years but i dont have any up on sharing sites or anything. you do a great job of digging up stuff i havent heard and ive spent the last decade or so looking for the good old shit, thanks for all the work!

  7. Love the Bran track! Have you tried to do an Irish comp ever? I've searched and there's really not too much I could find, although I just came across Mellow Candle from Dublin circa 1969, who are more prog/folk than heavy, but wouldn't sound out of place on here, as well as Fruupp and Horslips. Thin Lizzy may be too obvious, but their first three albums are overlooked.

    1. I am trying to do an Irish one now, actually I have been keeping an eye out for years, but yes, I think it may be the hardest one yet! Even harder than NZ, Greece and Africa haha. Please tall me about anything you find! I think I have about 5 worthy bands so far. I know it can be done though....

  8. Also worth looking at: GNIDROLOG! Lady Lake is an all-time obscure Welsh classic. Although it's more prog than you typical DATS fare, it's heavy as hell in places. Love your blog: thanks!

  9. Also, for Ireland, I recommend Taste (too obvious?) and Skid Row (nice raw blues rock from a young Gary Moore. Will rack my brains for any more...

  10. Thanks sure made a good job of this.....definatley a very eclectic bunch......very much appreciated ...yuchi dda