Record rambling number 226
Whale Meat Again Jim Capaldi.

The second solo LP from the Traffic drummer and lyricist has a bluesy feel and featuring the Muscle Shoals backing it’s superb.

From the title track "Whale Meat Again" asking ecological questions about our desires to stop whale hunting through to the lighter "It's Alright" (a successful hit single in the States) it's an ambitious record, featuring complex arrangements and cracking storytelling such as on “Low Rider”.

It holds up well for a 40 year old record, touches of country and soul add to the blues mix.

It's an album that flows though and lifts you gently, it rocks you softly.

And the pun of the album's title is turned full circle with a rendition (uncredited) of “We’ll Meet Again” , the Vera Lynn clas- sic at the end.

Record rambling day 182
Rhinoceros - Satin Chickens.

Rhinoceros were a West Coast American group put together by Elektra Records to sell records.

They featured the twin guitars of Danny Weis, the original guitarist of Iron Butterfly and Doug Hastings who had briefly been in Buffalo Springfield. They added Michael Fonfara and his acid trippy organ features heavily here. John Finlay an R&B singer was plucked out of a Toronto band and his seemingly effortless vocals lead the jazzy spaced-out sound perfectly.

The tag "supergroup" though hung round the bands neck like a millstone, they never quite lifted their heads to find fame.

They recorded three albums, "Satin Chickens" was the middle one and the best tracks on here are "Top Of The Ladder" and "It's The Same Thing".

It's great though to dig out the music you've never played for donkeys.

One question remains. "Have you ever heard of them"?

Rambling on day 113
Paul Kantner, Grace Slick & David Friederg - Baron von Tollbooth & The Chrome Nun.

The Baron and the Nun, Kantner and Slick accordingly, (nicknames given by Crosby of C.S.N.Y. fame), embark on a mega journey firing bullets as they go along hitting targets such as religion, health, revolution, sex and sexual behaviour. You get the gist.

Of course, this was the Seventies. This was Jefferson Airplane disbanded awaiting the arrival of their Starship, so the album was analysed to the hilt for "the meaning" that everybody just had to have at the time.

It was panned by the critics, adored by the fans.

Musically it's superb, along with the three main protagonists, Jerry Garcia pops up on guitar as does Jorma Kaukonen (beautiful solo on "Your Mind Has Left Your Body"). We get Papa John Creach on violin, Jack Cassady on bass , in addition the Pointer Sisters appear too. It really is a veritable who's who of West Coast Rock, they offer the expected impeccable accompaniment.

Sometimes you can over-analyse you can miss the point. Music is there to be enjoyed. This is as enjoyable now as it was then.

A record a day number 23.
Camembert Electrique by Gong.

Clangers on acid, caterwauling cries, spaced out free flowing music that occa-ionally you could just about say was a song.

It was 1974, Virgin (the record label) were doing cut price promotions, this was one of the first. A whole brand-new album for the price of a single (49p) wow, to make it even better, it had a cheese reference - my favourite food.

The music press raved about it too. Brilliant, a progressive masterpiece, hippy space rock, a bargain they proclaimed.

Except when you put it on the turntable... “Wet Cheese Delirium” closes side one amongst instruments recorded and then played backwards. You hear a stoned voice - "Tu Veux Camembert?". Quite frankly the answer was a resounding "No".

File under: Pay, Play And Regret. Or file under Play Frequently and Enjoy. A true-Blue Cheese dividing moment.

Record recollections number 31
Roger buys a fridge - Bowles Bros.

Young and eager I started my first real job: Trainee Accountant for a North Derbyshire company that made paving stones and concrete kerbs. My boss Dave Foulk wheedled out of me my music tastes and lent me some of his vinyl. How could I refuse?

Is there anything worse than liking music of your parents?

Arguably nothing other than the music of your boss, yet you must be polite.

So I hated this. It was awful. So bad that after returning his copy I went out and bought my own, it's wonderful. Close vocal harmonies, Scat singing, Jazz influenced, soaked in style, think Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks crossed with Manhattan Transfer. It's music that picks you up and carries you like only the best music can.

Talk about chopping off your nose to spite your face. I was immature as an eight year old despite being ten years older.

The Bowles Bros (not brothers really) were Brian Bowles, Sue Jones-Davis, Richard Lee, Richard Marcangelo and John Smedley. Instantly forgettable names. The group worked with the Pythons, Brian became a voice specialist working on the Harry Potter movies and Lord Of The Rings, Sue appeared in "Rock Follies" and "Life Of Brian".

The group also had the distinction of appearing on "So It Goes" (an ITV music programme) on the same show that gave the Sex Pistols their first TV appearance.

Anyway sorry to ramble on but if by any weird, strange, incomprehensible way you've heard of the band or actually want to listen to the Bowles Brothers (ignore YouTube it’s not the same group) then please follow the link below. Howard Sprenger especially I hope it appeals to you.

One final word, if you're out there in cyber land Mr Foulk (last seen as landlord of the Tiger Pub in the centre of Derby) then I'm sorry you were right they were a terrific group. Sorry!

Record rambling number 210
False Start - Love

Arthur Lee's sixth "Love" album, his last for the Blue Thumb record label, it's a strange beast too.

"The Everlasting First" starts everything, at the flick of a switch, like dropping the needle on the vinyl in the wrong place, you wonder if it was you or the record. It's the record. Jimi Hendrix guesting on lead guitar made this track and LP collectable.

"Stand Out" recorded live was claimed by Lee to be the birth of heavy rock. It's 1970, it's not, it's close, but an outrageous claim nonetheless.

And whilst "False Start" represents another new direction for Love it was hardly the sought after commercial or successful one, gone finally the subtlety of "Forever Changes" gone the beauty, the lightness of touch replaced by in the main simplistic straightforward raunchy rock. As such it's a great effort it just that coming from such a high it's a steep slippery slope. (Lee would re-invent himself and "Love" frequently over the years).

At the time I bought this I was disappointed, now years later I've come to appreciate what a good album this is, even down to Noony Ricketts vocals which clash too often with Lee's something that never happened with Bryan MacLean.

Perhaps my favourite song is the country influenced "Keep On Smiling" these are Arthur's words;-

"If you're lonely, ain't got no friends

And the smile on your face has turned into just a dull grin

Open up you heart and let the sun come shining in

If you're walking all alone

And it feels like you’re walking to the end of the road

Open up you heart and let the sun come shining in

That's what you gotta do"

Vinyl daze number 343
Eagles One Of These Nights.

After posting the link this morning to a woman who stabbed her housemate for listening to the Eagles repeatably the inspiration for today's record of the day was clear.

One of these nights is the Eagles fourth album, it contains instantly recognisable classics such as the title track, "Lyin' Eyes" and "Take It to The Limit".

It also has the banjo driven "Journey Of The Sorcerer" which will be familiar to all lovers of Douglas Adams as the music to "Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy" it being used for the radio and TV series. The instrumental track written by Bernie Leadon stands out for me as being one of the most creative things the Eagles ever did.

Leadon would leave after "One Of These Nights" to be replaced by Joe Walsh and "Hotel California" would follow. But I guess you know that particular story.

So the Eagles, love 'em or hate 'em, the choice as ever is yours.

Record rambling day 324
Poco Pickin' Up The Pieces.

Once upon a time, as all good stories go, there was a fantastic West Coast group called Buffalo Springfield. They split. Stephen Stills and Neil Young would achieve worldwide fame with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, whilst Richie Furay and Jim Messina who at the age of 19 had produced the Springfield would form Poco.

"Pickin' Up The Pieces" is Poco's first album, it put the Rock into Country, sweet soulful soaring harmonies from Furay, Messina, drummer George Grantham and bassist Randy Meisner. Instrumentally it’s tight and this record is as good as anything Buffalo Springfield put out in their short two years together. "Nobody's Fool" in particular whilst "Calico Lady" is comparable to the Byrds "Sweetheart Of The Rodeo".

A mixture of styles, "First love" whimsical and mellow like David Gates' "Bread" yet on "Short Changed" they really rock, with twin electric guitars and a fuzz solo by Rusty Young.

Returning to the opening track (ignoring the rather pointless foreword) "What A Day" is a feel-good anthem with banjo, gorgeous pedal steel from Young and honkey tonk piano, it reminds of the Monkees in their country period but with better drum fills.

All in all though this LP is a delight to listen to, it defined Country Rock in 1969 and there was the rub. Furay wanted it to be called "Country Rock" a term which at the time didn't really exist. As a genre it came to be shunned, no airplay, it wasn't Country so it was ignored by those tightly focused radio stations and the AM airplay lot wanted nothing to do with the "Old Opry" crew.

Arguments within the group resulted in Meisner being excluded from the final mixes of the record as Furay (and Messina) wanted control. Meisner left, (his face on the cover painting was removed and replaced by a slightly scary eyed dog). Petty perhaps but Meisner would have the final laugh as he went on to super stardom as he co-foundered that rather successful group the "Eagles".

Poco would go on to record over thirty albums, shedding and regaining band members like a dog does hair.

A band which promised much, none more so than on this their debut album.

So for once there's no happy ever after ending. Just a sense of regret of what could have been.

Footnote the Programme (a copy of which sold last month on eBay for £10) was from their gig at the Rainbow in 1972 (A bargain quid to see Billy Preston, Gallagher & Lyle and Poco) their first tour of Europe after which I picked up this LP.

A record a day number 37
The Monkees.

A band put together for a TV show, they didn't play on their early songsyet by the end Michael Nesmith founded The First National Band and was an integral pivot in the field of country rock.

Along the way we all had fun.

Was that so wrong?

All together now "Hey, Hey, We're The Monkees......"

A record a day number 39.
The Mamas & The Papas - 20 Greatest Hits.

As we approach the end of the Music For Pleasure week, this is one collection that deserves it's place on my shelves.

Two girls, two boys, close harmonies, call and response lyrics, melodies from dreams - what's not to like?

Add superb backing musicians and you have the formula for international success. You could build a case for the Mamas & Papas being the voice of the hippy era.

John Phillips, chief songwriter penned or co-penned the hits "California Dreamin'", "Monday, Monday" and "Creeque Alley" amongst others, the latter being a history of the group in song. (Phillips also wrote "San Francisco, Be Sure To Wear Some Flowers In Your Hair" for Scott McKenzie).

The candle burned bright but swift, three long players in 18 months, awash with money and the pressures of success Phillips struggled to keep the frantic pace dictated by the record company bosses. Covers became the norm. Magnificent covers, the Shirelles "Dedicated To The One I Love" for instance but the well was truly running dry.

Contractual needs. Reunions necessary. Four albums and one throw away, the all too brief output of a group which left such wonderful music yet promised much, much more.

The Mamas & The Papas legacy is perhaps best understood when you consider those ten sides of original vinyl at last count have been repackaged, summarised, collated or collected into over 100 different individual reissues on LP and CD (and that's not counting different versions of the same release) according to the Discogs site. A phenomenal number of choices and testament to the appeal of the group.

Record rambling day 313.
Steady As She Goes, (songs and chanties from the day of commercial sail).

Take four traditional singers, Louis Killen (ex Clancy Brothers), Jeff Warner from the USA (currently touring the UK), his brother Gerret and John (Fud) Benson a monumental stone mason (he sculptured the JFK memorial and Tennessee Williams' tombstone amongst many more) and give them the project of recording the songs of the sailors of the 1800's.

This LP came shortly after the Tall Ships visited New York in 1976 to commentate America's 200th Birthday of Independence.

There's shanties (or chanties if you prefer) for every task on board ship from lifting sails to raising the anchor, there's songs about the escapades on shore (which usually mean the seaman comes off the worse from the attractions of the booze and the Ladies).

Four strident voices and the occasional English Concertina accompaniment, songs you will recognise such as "Paddy Lay Back" (a song claimed by Liverpool as their own), "Bold Riley" (which has been recorded by the likes of Kate Rusby and the Oysterband), "Rolling Down To Old Maui" (Bellowhead amongst many others).

If you love sea shanties then you'll know "Blow The Man Down" and "Shallow Brown" and there might be ones you haven't heard before such as the "Topman And The Afterguard" a story about life on board a Royal Navy vessel and the hierarchy.

Songs to lighten the hell on board ships, sailors with no rights, no regulations, no unions, the word of the Master was the law, stronger than a plantation owner's hold over their slaves. At sea they had nowhere to run, no escape from the whim of the captain, to resist was mutiny, to succeed in mutiny was piracy, the only option was to yield in everything.

If you are interested in these sorts of things, I'd recommend Richard Henry Dana Jr, book "Two Years Before The Mast". Dana from a rich family was suspended from Harvard for joining a student protest, he left and chose to work his way as a merchant seaman rather than rely on the family fortunes. His memoir of that time includes graphic descriptions of life on-board including a flogging on the whim of the Captain purely for the sailor asking a question. Dana's writing shows his sympathy with the downtrodden and lower classes, he went on to dedicate his life to these improving the sailor’s life and also became a prominent anti-slavery activist and helped found the Free Soil Party.

As usual I'm rambling again, it's my "injustice" soapbox, but God forbid I ever lose that internal "rage like thunder" (an oblique reference to a song on Merry Hell's cracking Ghost In Our House album).

So if you love sea shanties search it out (deezer is your friend), Bellowhead it ain't but it's good.

Till tomorrow and I'll soon be on the last fifty, a year in my life almost done. Thanks for reading and hopefully listening. Cheers one and all.

A record a day number 270.
Take Your Head Off And Listen Various Artists.

The first ever release by Rubber Records, this 16 track sought after sampler promoted all that was good from Newcastle, the surrounding areas and even north of the border with the JSD band and more.

It contains early Lindisfarne members Alan Hull, "Where Is My Sixpence" and "We Can Swing Together" under the name of Brethren a group which contained Si Cowe, Ray Laidlaw and on the track "Positive Earth" a certain Rod Clement added fiddle.

Other North East luminaries included Trilogy who became Prelude, a group that had a massive smash with Neil Youngs "After The Goldrush", Hedgehog Pie, and The Callies, lead singer of which Billy Mitchell would go on to lead the fantastic Jack The Lad before front- ing Lindisfarne for a period too.

Take Your Head Off And Listen also includes a self-penned song by Alan Moffatt who would later find fame in the group Doll By Doll under the stage name of Jackie Leven.

It's a great collection I just wish I could find out more about Ian Mills, his delivery and timing on "Copper’s Song" an amusing take on policemen finding a dead body on their beat and its subsequent travels cracks me up every time, even now.

Seek it out if you can, it's well worth the effort and one final thought maybe it's just me but doesn't the drawing on the cover remind you of a certain drummer

Record ramblings number 241.
Nice Enough To Eat Various Artists.

An ace sampler from Island Records, arguably the best they put out. This introduced me to so many groups that I subsequently went out and bought records by. In short it did its trick.

My favourites were Traffic's "Forty Thousand Headmen ", King Crimsons "21st Century Schizoid Man" and Dr Strangely Strange's quirky folk on "Strangely Strange but Oddly Normal" - anything but if you ask me.

The whole compilation throws in classic tracks by Free by Nick Drake along with Heavy Jelly's "I Keep Singing That Same Old Song", it's a joy that I keep indulging in.

Is there a better kind of record?

Record ramblings number 200.
Honey For Tea Various Artists.

Subtitled "A selection of Cambridge Bands" it does exactly what it says on the sleeve, the only common denominator is that all the tracks were recorded at the Spaceward Studios in 1982.

It's a fantastic reminder that there is so much good music (and a little bad) that never gets the publicity or the recognition that it deserves. The difference between success and failure, small and arbitrary.

One who did make it was "The Great Divide", they open the album with "Elements And Innocence", their lead singer Mr Boo Hewerdine has had his songs covered by over 50 other artists, including Eddi Reader, KD Lang, Natalie Imbruglia, Hepburn, Marti Pellow, Swan Dive and Suggs. Boo on top of being an artist in his own right, is also a producer and a nice guy to boot.

Other bands include "Your Dinner" who sound like a ska version of "Gong" weird and wonderful. "Sindy And The Action Men" scratch a " Siouxsie and the Banshees" vein whilst "Pure Thought" are pure pop and not three bad either.

"Hondo" could be "Madness" an eight piece big band that get you wanting to dance with their ska reggae heavy mix "Party", it's 4:29 of sheer fun, a true festival type band.

"Su Lynn Band": think a progressive "Curved Air meets Kate Bush on the Ledge", it's lovely it's "Feels Like Magic" an apt title, great synthesiser runs too.

A record a day number 159.
Back On The Road Again Various Artists

This could be almost a soundtrack to my early life. It contains virtually everything I ever wanted.

"All Right Now" by Free starts it off, there's Jimi Hendrix, there's yodelling courtesy of "Hocus Pocus" by Focus, Hawkwind's "Silver Machine " the list goes on.

Cream, Jefferson Airplane, Velvet Underground, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, I'm sure you can guess the tracks.

Originally, I had this on cassette tape and wore it away driving up and down the country.

A month or so ago I finally picked it up from Rubber Soul Records of Stoke-on-Trent as a LP. It's was too good a compilation not to replace.

Listening to "Out Demons Out" by the Edgar Broughton Band then Ten Years After before opening a can of Spirit's "Fresh Garbage". What better way to welcome a weekend.

Oh and for those more quieter moments Nick Drake's "Northern Sky" works its charms, Roy Harper's "Tom Tiddler's Ground" and Matthews Southern Comforts "Woodstock" are pure delights and Fairport’s "Meet On The Ledge".

A bargain.

A record a day number 337.
Curved Air Live Atmosphere.

Sometimes you just can't give it up. I first saw Curved Air on their "Back Street Luv" tour at the Kings Hall in Derby back in the early Seventies. In the days when being at the very front of the stage didn't involve barriers or mosh pits.

"Live Atmosphere" is a 2012 release of their 2010/11 world tour with only Sonja Kristina and drummer Florian Pilkington- Miksa from the original band. It matters not, this is a fresh and vibrant re-working of the old familiar material such as "Phantasmagoria" and *It Happened Today".

In a nice touch, rather than compress the sound on the vinyl, this release bought on Record Store Day includes a single with "Back Street Luv" and "Everdance" on it and I confess to listening to the single first with a live version of luv lasting 5 minutes 22 seconds.

Record Store Day is Saturday 18th April, it's a celebration of the UK's and other countries unique independent sector as the independently owned record stores come together with artists to celebrate the art of music. Special vinyl and CD releases and various promotional products are made exclusively for the day and hundreds of artists across the globe make special appearances and performances.

Festivities include performances, meet & greets with artists, DJ's, in store quizzes and many other events. Full details of what's on and the special release can be found here The free Cheese Oakcakes and tea at Rubber Soul Records went down well last year.

Back to the record though. Sometimes you just can't give it up. This is one of those occasions. It's a wonderful album. Enjoy.

Record rambling day 315.
Hawkwind - Quark, Strangeness And Charm.

How can you not love an album called "Quark Strangeness And Charm", especially if you're a Sci-Fi nut like me. Quarks being sub-atomic particles whilst strangeness and charm refers to different types of quarks, or sommat like that, beam me up Scotty.

Musically it's not the Hawkwind of the past, it's lighter, quieter, brighter.

Song have preludes, you have to wait for them to get going.

"Spirit Of The Age" suspended animation, clones freeze dried and warmed up again, morse code S.O.S.; telepathic men all writing "Oh for the wings of any bird / Other than a battery Hen".

Yes it's weird.

"Damnation Alley" almost makes punk or new wave based on Roger Zelazny's book of the same name. A post apoplectic landscape filled with radioactive trash, although when "the sky is raining fishes / it's a mutation zoo" you suspect the band themselves aren't being too serious. Or maybe they are!

The real joy though for me is the title track "Quark, Strangeness And Charm" as it enters into the realm of the suspected love lifes of Einstein and Copernicus. It leans towards Bolan or Bowie, it's brilliant, you can't help but sing along. A fun track.

"Hassan I sahba", riff laden, is the closest they get to the Hawkwind of old with hard driving rock and Simon House's incendiary Violin.

"Days Of The Underground", Lost In Psychedelic Space, you half expect Will, the Robot and Dr Zachary Smith to turn up. “Danger, Danger”.

As it is they don't. But this was Robert Calvert and Dave Brooks swansong before the group crashed and burned to raise phoenix like as the "Hawklords".

It's an interesting listen after all these years. Now where did I put my copy of my old single "Silver Machine"?

A ramble through a record collection number 50.
Quicksilver Messenger Service.

I like to say this album changed my life, I like to say it made me rich and famous, that it gave me everlasting health. Of course it didn't, but it made me want to move to San Francisco and the West Coast and as a youngster that was enough believe me.

From the opener "Pride Of Man" through to the last track, the twelve minute long "The Fool" this is music that doesn't disappoint. John Cippolina's fluid guitar wandering, Gary Duncan's guitar keeping it all tight. Clipped notes of sound that leave you waiting for the next ones and leave you stunned and amazed as to how space in a song can be so effective.

Psychedelia, jazzy undertones, rock, folk all mixed into one.

One album that for me I will always cherish (this is the first pressing mono version if anybody cares) I sought it out and it's repaid me over and over.

Bill Graham once said live on stage the group that "Quicksilver were one of the baddest groups" he knew and as a renowned promoter he knew considerably more than most.

I guess it just proves everybody loves bad boys.

Enjoy if you can.

Vinyl vignette number 21.
On The Road - Traffic.

A ramble through a record collection warts and all.

So four sides of black plastic, the road.

Seven songs stretched out in a dotted line, some join, some clash, it is an expansive blow out of a live album and catches the band at a moment in time. The lightness the band where capable of though is missing, it errs towards plodding rather than soaring. Some bands manage to capture their energy in live performances on record, this doesn’t quite reach those levels.

Somebody at Island decided to add funny road signs to the inner sleeves in a last ditched effort to lighten the mood, add humour and have something to look at whilst you listen. As a novelty it's short lived and certainly doesn't last for the seventeen minutes minimum needed per side.

That said it's okay, I quite liked Traffic beforehand, Forty Thousand Headmen, John Barleycorn and all. This isn't though of that standard. Pulling it out has encouraged me to listen again and see if it has aged well. Or at least better than me.

A record a day number 29.
It's A Beautiful Day - Today.

The inspiration for choosing this was driving yesterday A1, long day, sheet rain, standing water, aquaplaning even at 40, BMW flashing past, you couldn't see a thing. It was an awful drive. It had to better tomorrow. It had to be a beautiful day. Today.

This is the fourth (studio) and last album put out by the band who went through the same number of line-up changes in five years. Gone are David LaFlamme, the bands original violinist, famous for "White Bird" the most well-known song, gone is the lightness, the definitive fiddle riffs that made the "Marrying Maiden" LP a chart hit.

What's left is Pattie Santos the original female voice, Fred Webb on keys, Val Fuentes (drums) with the addition of Greg Bloch on violin and the gruff, gruff vocal of Bud Cockrell.

Does it work? Yes at least partly "Creator", "Down On The Bayou" and "Watching You Watching Me" from the pen of Cockerill, "Child" and "Aint That Loving You Baby" by Webb and a cover of the Seals and Croft song "Ridin Thumb" are the stronger tracks.

It's West Coast Seventies rock pure and simple, it's fine just not what you would expect from IABD.

Watching the sun rise over the rooftops as I type. Yes today - It's A Beautiful Day.