Thursday, May 11, 2023

The Day After The Sabbath 147: You've Got The Power [blues rock #4]

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Head Over Heals, from Michigan
elcome to the first volume for 2023! We return to the blues, after considering the subject many times before and specifically in vols 54, 79, 105 and 108,  and what else is there left to say about blues & blues rock, other than it's the root of hard rock. Many of the most famous and not so famous hard rock and prog bands of the past that we all know and love are indebted to blues as the original inspiration.

In this set we have artists from Mexico, Germany, Denmark, and of course the USA and UK. There are 11 featured artists that are brand new to the blog and 4 that return for some deserved reconsideration.  Included are rocking interpretations of standards: Big Mama Thornton's Hound Dog, Howlin' Wolf's Little Red Rooster, Chuck Berry's Johnny B. Good and Bo Diddley's Mama Keep Your Big Mouth Shut. A good rockin' time is most definitely promised from start to end! 

Big Mama Thornton        -        Howlin' Wolf        -        Chuck Berry        -        Bo Diddly


01. Javier Bátiz - Down Broken Hearted (1971)
            from album Festival De Rock Y Ruedas En Avándaro Valle De Bravo
02. Jericho - Baby’s Gone Again (1971)
            from album Jericho
03. Floating Bridge - You've Got The Power (1969)
            from album Floating Bridge
04. Bauer, Garn & Dyke - Haltestellen Blues (1979)
            from album Sturmfrei
05. Methuselah - My Poor Mary (1969)
            from album Matthew, Mark, Luke And John
06. Head Over Heels - Red Rooster (1971)
            from album Head Over Heels
07. Long John Baldry - Don't Try To Lay No Boogie Woogie On The King Of Rock & Roll (1971)
            from album It Ain't Easy
08. Ilmo Smokehouse - Johnny B. Good (1970)
            from album Ilmo Smokehouse...Plus
09. Peter Thorup with Friends - Little Sister [Bonus Track] (1970)
            from album Wake Up Your Mind [remastered]
10. Plastic Penny - Hound Dog (1969)
            from album Currency
11. Killing Floor - Nobody By My Side (1969)
            from album Killing Floor
12. McKenna Mendelson Mainline - Ezmerelda (1972)
            from album Mainline Bump'n'Grind Revue Live At The Victory Theatre 1972
13. Rain - This Is No Place (1971)
            from album 1971... The Lost Album
14. Locomotive - Get On Away (1969)
            from album Locamotive
15. Stack Waddy - Mama Keep Your Big Mouth Shut (1972)
            from album There Is Some Fun Going Forward

The Artists

Javier Bátiz - Down Broken Hearted (1971)
We get off to a rip-roaring start with a killer blast of blues courtesy of this veteran Mexican bluesman from Tijuana. I first discovered Javier Bátiz during my investigations for the Mexican volume 89 (link). This particular track is taken from a 2002 retrospective of the Festival Rock y Ruedas de Avándaro, which took place near Mexican town Tenantongo in 1971. This was Mexico's Woodstock and many of the artists including Javier that played, are now Mexican rock heroes. Javier is now 78 and his most recent album of new work came out in 2015.

Jericho - Baby’s Gone Again (1971)
Here's another track with a mean riff, that is reinforced by some excellent keys. This Canadian outfit released one self-titled album in 1971 which was an early production job of Todd Rundgren. It's a solid album with great production and about four blues / hard rock heavies, making it worth checking out! Keyboard player Gord Fleming previously played in Luke & The Apostles, who appear in the second Canadian TDATS (link). Some more info about Jericho can be read at Garage Hangover (link).

Floating Bridge - You've Got The Power (1969)
The riffs keep on rolling and here's another belter, from Seattle's Floating Bridge. They appeared on TDATS vol 8 way back in the early days (link) but I didn't say much about them then and on returning to the album to make this volume, I really am impressed at their sole LP's consistent quality. These guys could really play, and sound like they loved every minute of it. Aside from a couple of slow numbers, the whole album jams to the maximum and gets a grade A seal of approval from myself.

Of all the members, guitarist Rich Dangel (b. 1942 d. 2002) appears to have been the most experienced and prolific, with credits on well over 100 records going back to the late '50s from The Wailers, and songs he wrote were used by The VenturesThe Kingsmen and Paul Revere & The Raiders. I always thought the name Floating Bridge was some musical reference but in fact it comes from a famous Seattle landmark bridge extending across Lake Washington.

Bauer, Garn & Dyke - Haltestellen Blues (1979)
This is a three-piece with a couple of albums made during 1979 to 1982. They were a direct hard rock'n blues band, what you hear is what you get. This is the newest track in the comp so it has a more modern crunchy production but aside from that it's business as usual, and business is good! Only two thirds of the band were German, drummer Roy Dyke was from Liverpool, with a career going back to the mid-'60s and credits on records with names like George Harrison, and even some TDATS-bothering names like Pat Travers and Achim Reichel (The Rattles, AR Machines). He was also in Ashton, Gardner & Dyke, but this is to be expected of course, as every British journeyman rocker has been in a band with Tony Ashton at some some time, it's a union requirement. Bauer, Garn & Dyke's record label, Ahorn, was founded by two ex-members of The Rattles, the aforementioned Achim Reichel, and Frank Dostal.

Methuselah - My Poor Mary (1969)
The blues swagger continues with this British band, and a track taken from their interesting 1969 album "Matthew, Mark, Luke And John". The album has an obvious gospel concept with track names like this one and "Matthew", "Mark", "Luke" & "John" etc, but the music itself is excellently-played and traverses conventional styles of blues, folk, and early prog, with some gospel style vocal harmonies. It's a great album and has enough rocking tracks to achieve a TDATS "check it out" seal of approval. Guitarist Les Nicol is excellent throughout and a quick perusal of Discogs shows that he played on notable records from Ray Owen's Moon and Pavlov's Dog among others. Some more can be read about Methuselah at Alex Gitlin's site (link).

Head Over Heels - Red Rooster (1971)
This is a fantastic track that follows a traditional blues blueprint (should that just be the 'bluesprint'?) more closely than many of the other tracks here, which is understandable as it's a Howlin' Wolf classic, while maintaining a hard rocking edge. Head Over Heels have appeared once before on the blog in volume 16 (link),  a power trio from Michigan led by guitarist & vocalist Paul Frank. Accompanying him was John Bredeau (drums) and Michael Urso (bass). The band didn't last long but Michael Urso had a solid run on four Rare Earth albums afterwards and Paul Frank joined Fresh Start, later just "Fresh". Head Over Heels' sole album is excellent with plenty of hard bluesy rock to earn a solid  TDATS seal of approval, if you still haven't looked this one up yet!

Long John Baldry - Don't Try To Lay No Boogie Woogie On The King Of Rock & Roll (1971)
I'd never heard of John Baldry until recently but he seems to have been popular in his day, and this is from one of his many albums, 1971's It Ain't Easy, which was a collaborative effort with all the tracks played and written with help from a long list of British and US names. On this track alone was Elton John playing piano, Madeline Bell backing vocals and Ron Wood on guitar.

The song is credited as written by american Jeff Thomas, then I went down a rabbit hole discovering that in 1970, a year before Baldry's album, it was covered by Crow (the ones that Sabbath covered) and a band called Gator Creek, with Kenny Loggins on guitar no less! One curious thing is that in 1970 this was also a single under Jeff Thomas's name, which sounds identical to John Baldry's recording. On top of that, Baldry himself tells a story that implies the song was inspired by the time he was arrested for busking in London (link). A web of intrigue for another day...and to end this part, I was amused to find that John Baldry did a lot of voice over work in his later career, which is understandable given his charismatic voice, including 65 cartoon episodes as Sonic The Hedgehog's arch nemesis, Dr. Robotnik.

Ilmo Smokehouse - Johnny B. Good (1970)
Here's a cover of a classic that changes up the song so much, it really could be a different song if not for the lyrics. Chicago's Ilmo Smokehouse had one album out on Roulette in 1971, although it seems they first pressed it privately in 1970, if Discogs is correct (link). There have been various re-issues since, called "...Plus" which add 8 bonus tracks. This band are fantastic, most of them appear to have been pretty young at the time but the variety of instrumentation and styles here is amazing, from straight-up hard rock, to psych, blues and jazz with sax.

The subtle hint of jazz swing permeates the album, giving it a personality of its own. This description might make it sound unfocused and inconsistent, but the secret sauce here is that every track (including the bonus tracks) is excellent and rocks hard! Gerry Gabel and Freddie Tieken are credited with the various additional instruments like sax, piano, flute and harmonica. Freddie was older than the rest of the band going by photos, and was already established in the business as a musician and studio owner since the 1950s. He has an extremely informative website where you can read the full story of the band and many other things, such as the time Steve Gaines played in the band before going to Lynyrd Skynyrd (link).

Peter Thorup with Friends - Little Sister (1970)
Here's a monster track that makes a nice extended detour into epic prog with some heavy hammond. Peter Thorup (b. 1948 d. 2007) was a Danish guitarist, singer, composer and record producer. He was an important blues musician in Denmark, and he was known outside his own country, when in the late 1960s he met Alexis Korner and the two formed the bands New Church, The Beefeaters, CCS, and later Snape.

In 1970 the album Peter Thorup with Friends was released by Philips, and later re-issues contained bonus tracks from the same sessions. The "friends" in the title included a number of Danish rockers from bands that have appeared here on TDATS including Mo-I-Rana (vol54), Young Flowers (vol72) and Savage Rose (vol17). The album comes recommended with lots of heavy moments, with a selection of originals, covers and trad blues interpretations.

Plastic Penny - Hound Dog (1969)
Here's a fantastic rendition of Big Mama Thornton's blues standard from a band that I became aware of when making vol 112: UK bands that loved the USA (link). Plastic Penny were a British '60s pop band, formed in 1967 before splitting up in August 1969. The group had one hit single early in 1968: the song "Everything I Am". Most of the members went on to greater fame with other bands or in session work. By the time of second LP "Currency", the band were going in a more rock direction and "She Does" is another good one (youtube). The album as a whole is musically excellent and well worth hearing for fans of pre-prog bands such as Procol Harum. All the members were already accomplished musicians and just a few of their later bands include Chicken Shack, UFO, Cochise, Uriah Heep and Lord Sutch And Heavy Friends.

Killing Floor - Nobody By My Side (1969)
Here's one of the heaviest cuts from Killing Floor's debut album. This one has a monolithic riff which shares the connection that blues had to the kind of doom-blues downer rock that Sabbath was playing at the time, and most readers will be aware that both of Killing Floor's albums are essential listening. Even though there seems to be a few TDATS-related names attached to the band for brief times, on looking up later exploits of the band members who are actually credited on the albums, there doesn't seem to be much in the heavy prog blues realm of Killing Floor, though Mick Clarke (guitar) and Stuart McDonald (bass) were in a late-'70s heavy blues band called Salt, which played in pubs such as the Bridgehouse, one of the haunts on the London circuit where aspiring NWOBHM legends like Iron Maiden and Def Leppard cut their teeth. Another point of interest is that Stuart McDonald was previously in Crushed Butler, a great punkish 60's band that were good enough to be included here before in vols 12 and 42: Proto Punk (link).

McKenna Mendelson Mainline
McKenna Mendelson Mainline - Ezmerelda (1972)
Here's a track with a great heavy live atmosphere, and the second with connection to Canada's Luke & The Apostles, via guitarist Mike McKenna. The band's other formative guitarist, Joe Mendelson, was a singer-songwriter, guitarist, painter, and political activist, who was known for using art to express political themes. McKenna Mendelson Mainline had reasonable success and spent a year becoming known in the UK, playing the same pub circuit as a young Led Zeppelin, Keef Hartley Band and Gun. For their heaviest music, the first album from 1969 is recommended, although this track is taken from a live album recorded in Toroto's Victory Theatre on February 27 1972.

Rochester, New York's Rain offer one of the heaviest tracks in this collection. This is packed with tight riffs that come with a refreshingly punky sneer in the vocals. Members were Brad Morse (vocals), Ted Paris (bass), Mick Guerin (drums) and Helmut Getto (guitar). Their first LP was a self-released and subsequently much-bootlegged recording of a show at the Mariner Hotel ballroom on Christmas night, 1970. It got played on local radio and made them enough money to do some recordings which were intended to be their first proper LP, but after signing to RCA, and some meddling by the label, the endeavor failed and the band broke up. 

These previously unheard recordings have now been released officially by New York's Jargon Records, as "1971... The Lost Album". Both the band's records are great and come with a grade-A TDATS heaviness seal of approval. More can read in a recent interview with Helmut Getto at It's Psychedelic Baby (link) and Jargon Record's website (link).

Locomotive - Get On Away (1969)
This track starts powerfully and continues with a big sound all the way through. The album is a combination of slower or more commercial tracks, as many of these types of albums are, with about three hard rockers that make it worth checking out, including the quirky "Wah Wah" (youtube). Guitarist John Ussery began playing guitar in the mid-fifties, with names including John Lee HookerJimmy WitherspoonEric Burdon and others. He also made solo album "Ussery" in 1973, which has some cool Hendrixian / Frank Marino style guitar. More can be read about Locomotive at PNW Bands (link). John also has his own site (link).

Stack Waddy - Mama Keep Your Big Mouth Shut (1972)

This set is brought to a close with a band that i'm sure most of you will already know, and deserves a bit more acknowledgement here than when they first appeared on volume 46 (link). This was also covered by The Pretty Things (youtube) and was originally recorded by Bo Diddley, but singer John Knail's and the bands' filthy scuzzy delivery show what Stack Waddy were all about perfectly. They formed in Manchester in the mid-'60s and the famous DJ & producer John Peel signed them to his Dandelion label after seeing the band play at the Buxton Blues Festival in September 1969.

The original line-up of John Knail (vocals, harp), Mick Stott (guitar), Stuart Banham (bass) and Steve Revel (drums - replaced by John Groom on second album) released two albums and singles before breaking up in 1973. They reformed several times with their second LP line-up, the last time being for a Dandelion Records biographical DVD film shoot in July 2007. The non-album track I used here has appeared on various re-issues but its first release was on a 1972 Dandelion sampler called "There Is Some Fun Going Forward", which also featured TDATS mentions Tractor, aka The Way We Live. More can be read at the long-defunct (archived)

Adios! Rich

Further listening:

The Day After The Sabbath 133: A Lot Of Bottle [Slide Guitar special]
The Day After The Sabbath 139: Busted In Georgia [Southern Rock #2]
The Day After The Sabbath 138: Get Out Of My Life, Woman [blues covers #2]
The Day After The Sabbath 112: Country and Southern Rock from the UK

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