Monday, May 23, 2011


In or around about 1969 there were some major changes going down in the world of music and the world as a whole. Before there was Ozzy Osbourne there was a cat named Kip Trevor. And Kip would continue to be a sort of opposite to Ozzy in the band who gave Sabbath the most fear of heavy competition and even rivaled them thanks to an outrageous stage show. That band was of course Black Widow.
I have interviewed Kip about the beginnings, the fun part of it, the down part of it, and his successes after Black Widow working behind the scenes with big names as big as The Rolling Stones! He now runs an online music publishing company called to help young artists realize their dreams, but I will take you back to his time in the Leicester legends Black Widow.
In 1969 music was rapidly undergoing some serious changes and upheavals. So too was the culture that musicians from their respected countries delved into. In England a strong interest in the Occult was taking place as works by authors such as Alistair Crowley, the Gothic fantasy novelist Mervyn Peake, and others were becoming popular with aspiring artists and musicians. Black Widow would emerge together with Black Sabbath as two polar opposite bands of the Occultist vanguard. While Sabbath were essentially a Christian outfit warning against the perils of Satanism Black Widow were celebrating it, almost making it seem inviting. Their sound wasn't characterized by bombastic guitar riffs and wailing vocals that evoked terrifying visions of opening the door to sacrifices and practice of the black arts. Instead Black Widow tried to show us into a world where one could learn about the workings of Satanism and the practice of it through a rock opera that told an elaborate story through words and music. Remember that The Pretty Things had made a huge impact on musicians in the know with S.F Sorrow, but even more so a lot of bands were looking to The Beatles for inspiration on how to create conceptual music. The innocence of the flower power era was dying out nearly completely. To simply state the fact of the matter would be that thanks to Arthur Brown and his ilk either you were "Progressive" or "Underground" or you weren't. Black Widow would enter the charts amazingly with the single "Come To The Shabbat" in 1970 and then they would become a household name in England with a debut album sporting the very unsubtle title Sacrifice.
But it would take even them time before they would reach that oh-so unusual year of 1969 where Satanism started to become prevalent in the music that was coming out of the British Underground. We in the States had the horrible band Coven, but Black Widow were something else- they weren't a gimmick or a band who lacked chops. Starting out as the Club/Soul act Pesky Gee and releasing a horrendously rare album called Exclamation Mark of seedy Soul/Jazz/blooz rock they were jazz players, soul players, and they had a blues/soul vocalist. When Kip Trevor and Kay Garnett and the band delved into an interest in the occult you had to be sharp with what you'd come out with. Bands like Bulldog Breed were introducing the outlandishly occult into the rock idiom while bands as stupid as Harsh Reality played with the imagery without having anything to do with the anti Christ.
Fast forward to early 1970, Black Widow had lost Kay after recording an at the time unreleased version of their debut later put out on CD as Return To The Shabbat. In 1970 with Kip handling all lead vocals, Jim Gannon on acoustic/electric guitars, heavy Hammond organist Zoot Taylor, Beatnicky Clive Jones on lead sax and flute and the bass and drums of Clive Box and Bob Bond the group released Sacrifice and scared the Hell out (no pun intended) of nearly anyone who became aware of the album. If the tepid, menacing, trippy, and otherworldly jazzy progressive rock of the album that culminated in the tremendously terrifying "Attack Of The Demon" and the Yardbirds styled rave up of 13 minute length "Sacrifice" weren't enough then the band's stage show pushed everything right off the precipice and word soon spread like wildfire this band were dangerous. The group used dry ice before anyone else. They clothed themselves in Medieval robes and Kip Trevor wore at times white face paint and black leather. It was Kip who was the focal point- pulling out a huge sword and sacrificing a naked woman in the role of Astaroth Queen Of Heaven Queen Of Hell at the end of the act. This caused so much uproar because no one had dared to go as far as BW went then. When photographers and publicity were banned from the group's show at The Lyceum in London nobody could have predicted that at that gig and the peak of intensity that cameras would shockingly go off somehow and cause Black Widow and Kip Trevor to be a sensation. For a good year long period they were a wild, dangerous bunch, but changes had to be made first to the personnel. Clive Box and Bob Bond simply just couldn't cut it as the rhythm section. Geoff Griffith would come in as the virtuoso bass player and West Indian drummer supreme Romeo Challenger came in.
Soon Black Widow were beginning to feel a bit uneasy about their enthusiasm for The Man Downstairs. They started to see, much like how I can see violence doesn't solve things, that Satanism could be really, really scary, Still, they would stick to their occultist guns going into the studio to make their second album this time just called Black Widow.
A massive step forward vocally, musically, and lyrically the album remains one of the greatest achievements of the early Underground progressive era with excellent vocals from bluesy, melodic voiced Kip. In fact, the only real similarity with Sabbath was two fair haired singers who had different approaches to that, but who could go from raving to mellow and reflective. Black Widow now were playing fantastic progressive heavy hard rock a bit like a much improved Deep Purple although The Yardbirds, Traffic, and Led Zeppelin all were more of what BW was about. There is lots of excellent electric guitar from Jim Gannon, epic song structures merged with more straightforward ones (the long heavy Blues Rock scorcher "Poseur'), and the album closes out with the opus "Legend Of Creation" which brings to mind both early Yes and Trespass period Genesis. Seek their first two albums out, especially this one, and you'll be very much rewarded.
  Unfortunately, it just wouldn't last. Problems with egos in the group and some of the members wanting what others despised namely moving completely away from their past led to Jim Gannon who was the soul and principle writer leaving the group. Kip Trevor felt that the group now were a diluted version of what they had been. He'd only stay on for one more album. Soon it all would be revealed to be something sadly lost for any hope of greatness again as the pompous, overweight prog of Black Widow 3 proved. I had a sentimental attachment to this album for a long time, but as you'll hear from Kip he had no interest or enjoyment coming out of the band at all anymore. You can hear his unhappiness on the unimpressive anti Soldier rant "The Battle" and his songwriting input was down to 2 songs. Black Widow had run their course, but obnoxiously with NO INVOLVEMENT from Kip Trevor or Jim Gannon some members tour with bogus line ups trying desperately to cling to a past that will outlive their foolish attempts to rake in money on them. Black Widow will live through the music on their first two albums- music that was made by a young and hopeful group who would for a brief moment shine in the rock and roll light as an underground sensation.
Kip, really good friend of mine, gave me a wonderful interview this past winter and I have tried to integrate the knowledge I learned from his story into this write up. I will try to publish the full interview later on as there unfortunately isn't the space for the whole story on this blog. I will just say in closing that Kip Trevor is a down to earth, intelligent, and very talented guy who is still involved with music for all the right reasons. He will soon appear on another epic recording- an album based around the works of my namesake William Blake! Rock on Kip!

Thursday, May 19, 2011


It's hard to be a vinyl addict in my family. It's hard for me when I simply can't stop and need to save for a trip. It's hard when endless arguments and aggro come into play all the time over the purchase of expensive albums online. You also have to worry about the vigilance of who you deal with. Sometimes the grading is picture perfect, but there are dealers who don't know shite about grading albums. Back when I first started collecting it was a different world.  Really it was Stuart, my father, who got me into the kind of music I collect when I was just a small lad who knew very little about what Real music was. He and other older friends who remembered the 1960s and 1970s were my encyclopedia then before I became a walking, talking, living, loving book of world records on ultra obscure stuff and more famous bands. Stuart brought me up surrounded by music and even if he hadn't been nurturing me with it I was very aware of it from an early age. I had a small interest as a little boy, but as I grew older music would become more a part of my life. When I started collecting seriously I was 16. Now at 35 many things have changed since then. There is the internet and occasional record stores and insane people like the mail order freak brigade as I could call them are nearly completely dead. This is a good thing. I could tell you all about the absolute maniacs who used to run this whole show, but I won't bore you with the details. Onto some factual information about how this all began.
Stuart Patterson Mitchner (Father) and Leslie Carol Mitchner (Mum) were a part of the 1960s counterculture and were dubbed "The Happy Hippy Couple." They were introduced to each other by none other than Ben Van Meter who did the light shows for the Fillmore and Avalon ballrooms and thus named me Ben with the Blake stemming from English poet/artist/visionary hero William Blake.
Thus Benjamin Blake Mitchner was brought into the world on April 28th 1976.
Stuart wasn't slow in introducing me to music. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Bowie, The Incredible String Band, it all was a part of childhood and one of my most traumatic memories is the assassination of John Lennon in 1980- it would be a full decade before I could listen to the Beatles again.
Fast forward to then. At 14 years old in 1990 I'd gotten bored with new music for the most part and Dad stepped in with suggestions- Traffic, Family, The Zombies who I was enthralled by thanks to "She's Not There." Two years later at 16 and 3 years later at 17 these bands were a staple of my diet of vintage brewed 1960s and early 1970s magic.
The big revelation came in 1989 when I was a 13 year old metalhead. I was finding heavy metal increasingly uninteresting and beginning to wonder if something else could be more satisfying to me than the numerous bands who were on MTV and the radio 24 hours every day and night. My answer came in two bands. First I bought a copy of Death Walks Behind You by Atomic Rooster and then after listening pinned to the floor by the title track, John Cann's dark Gothic voice, his blazing guitars, Vincent Crane's heavy pounding mesmerizing organ, Paul Hammond's thundering drums throughout the album I hated Metallica and continue to hate them. I knew I wasn't gonna make it anymore with the trendy metal kids at school who knew nothing. Stuart then had a massive collection of records. I had read in an interview with her that Doro Pesch of Germany's Warlock's favourite band and song was Procol Harum's only chart entry "A Whiter Shade Of Pale." Yes had by now become a favourite, but to put a final cap on modern mass marketed rubbish Procol Harum's "Whiter Shade" and the whole album did the trick. Soon I was in another world. I learned how to draw and I had to own up that I'd been mainly into the classic stuff like Angel, Scorpions, UFO and all these new bands were nonsensical. Stuart came into the picture to offer suggestions. Traffic and Steve Winwood were one of his first, but his first success along with Procol Harum were McCartney's best solo works and a revisit to The Beatles. I had a dream when I was about 14 I would guess that The Beatles were safe to go back to and it snowballed from there. Now, of course, I know that you just can't argue against The Beatles and Stu was right all along. Anyone who hates the Fab 4 needs to have their head re-examined. I was an idiot at 14 and 15. I did really bad things to other kids. I was shy, goofy, completely Unhip, terrified of England (soldiers especially thanks to a premature rendezvous with "The Knife' by Peter Gabriel and Genesis), blurry, unable to communicate with other kids on any level, and pretty much a fool. I was learning, though, at least about artwork and sounds. Sounds always affected me. From the beginning they did. It was certain sounds when I was a kid that bothered me and got me "horny and uncomfortable and moody" when I was really really young. I would run screaming because of these sounds while others delighted me. Music wasn't my main interest. I was into video games and then wanted to be a botanist. All that would give way to rock and roll over time. By the age of 16 I had gone through a massive Frank Zappa phase and he had taught me some good lessons. Poor Frank was dying then. He'd die that December of 1992 leaving me no time to get over the loss of another hero brought to me by father Freddy Mercury Of Queen who'd died the previous November. Stu had bought me a copy of A Night At The Opera and after completely missing the point it then sunk in. Still I am a dyed-in-the-wool Queen freak. Another acquired wonderful taste passed down from him was the idiosyncratic progressive group Earth Opera- a band who may have created Prog Rock or some form of it. This band possessed a singer and writer named Peter Rowan whose voice could tear the paint off walls and send your mind to some pretty strange places. I would grow to love them and him.
When I was 16 Stuart and I could agree about 1960s music nearly completely.  He brought home a tape of Quicksilver Messenger Service's 1st album and the twin guitar heroics of John Cipollina and Gary Duncan convinced me to get serious about playing the guitar. Stu found a rock and roll wonder kid guitar teacher named Jim MacGuire and thanks to Jim I studied hard at the instrument spending hours of practice to master it. At age 35 now and 19 years later I can say I am a fully equipped guitarist. Stu, never one to quit while he was ahead, then introduced me to the wonderful and strange beautifully twisted music of Arthur Lee and Love. Forever Changes- the sound of all that was going on in the 1960s both the beautiful and frightening side to it and of it.
Stoggie or Doggie is now how I refer to Stuart, but when he was still Stuart or Stu or Badger he bought me a copy of The Time Of The Zombies and Kak for Christmas of 1992. We were reading All Quiet On The Western Front in English class and soldiers were starting to have a big impact on me. Oddysey and Oracle, album 2 of the double set, blew me away. There was a really horrific song about World War 1 and an opening track that joyfully told of a loved one coming home from prison. There were songs of love and loss, of imagination run wild and hypocrisy. I was hooked. Well, there was no stopping from there. Stoggie may want to go back and change things now but he can't.
On my own accord some strange experiences led me to where I am today. In early 1993 things were really ugly in the Former Yugoslavia. The UN had sent British soldiers in as peacekeepers to try and do something about the genocide against the Bosnians by the despicable Serbs. After lies from our English teacher about soldiers which people who believe them still should be shot for the truth was revealed. We were told in class that they had no feelings or emotions and did nothing but go off and fight wars and that was it. A young Cheshire Regiment (Now Mercian Regiment) soldier was in tears on the Tele and I was staring at him with a horrified expression. The truth started to hit. No longer would I be ashamed of my emotional personality. I wanted to travel to England.
Years later now I've been to England 14 times and am hoping for a 15th if I can get my buying under control for awhile. All my best friends and closest allies besides Mum and Dad are British Soldiers and I want to thank them for the tremendous job they've done in making my life worth living. God Bless. Many hugs and maybe even a kiss. The same would go to Music. I know of nothing more moving, more powerful, more exciting, more alchemic, more poisonously addictive than the sounds that come out of old records. Now I'm open to all the music that passed me by when I didn't know about The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, Pomp Rock, and AOR (Album Oriented Rock.) Bands from Snowblind to Wildfire to Skagarack to Shy to Treat (these guys are really good) to Glass Tiger prove that music was being kept alive when I thought it was dead. Of course, and rather sadly, the airbrushed images, flamboyance, airs and graces of hair bands and Pomp rockers would be killed off by Grunge which is another word for Shite. One of the few truly heavy HM bands from back in my early days Diamond Head knocked Stoggie out and continue to. He always knew good music. He always knew real music. I can't help but wonder how he feels about my jumping ahead of him into the obscure. Now Obscure can be bands who once had a following or chance of making it or bands who died out as quick as they came. I would advise you to start with a slightly more famous band. Choose Yes or Uriah Heep or Procol Harum or early Genesis. Choose Traffic, The Beatles, or The Zombies or Yardbirds. Then you dig really deep into the record racks, online sights, and record shops and become a vinyl collector.  Stoggie and I drove into NYC last week listening to Procol Harum and The Beatles. It all comes around in circles. I just bought loads of expensive and rare records to come in the mail in the now and near future. If you can support yourself and it's your Own cash maybe this is more fun. With Stoggie he grudgingly feeds my love for the rare, the obscure, and the expensive and then appreciates the music as much as I do. From Stoggie to Ben from Father to Son- he's handed down a wonderful kind of magic as Queen would have said.

Monday, May 16, 2011


I've always thought of the word "Perfect" and anything to do with "Perfection" completely ludicrous. It doesn't make much sense that there is a definition of something that barely, if at all, exists. I have found, though, while nothing is as imperfect as life nothing is less than "Great" when it comes to Great Music.
Still, this whole perfection thing doesn't ever seem to come up with any real actuality or fact. There is no perfect record collection, no person who doesn't have a slight little flaw, and all. Well, Indian Summer and Shape Of The Rain may prove that at least in the case of music there are some perfect albums.
Indian Summer and Shape Of The Rain both appeared in striking sleeves which I will try to upload soon and both were released in 1971 on the RCA Progressive subsidiary Neon. Neon's track record is pretty high with brilliant releases such as Spring and Raw Material's seminal Time Is... going for over $1,000 for originals and the two I'm reviewing going close to over the $500 mark if you don't get lucky like I did.
 Indian Summer were a Coventry quartet who were managed by and produced by the same team (Tony Hall Enterprises) that brought us Black Sabbath. Their keyboard player Bob Jackson sang lead whilst the others contributed with guitars, bass, drums, and harmony vocals. Their album is of the psych into progressive classic sound with complex guitar passages borrowing from jazz and big dramatic harmonies and mellotron bringing to mind both Asgard and label-mates Spring. I can't think of another album of progrock more quintessentially "English" than this one. It all seems to be coming out of the Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, the first Family album, dark Gothic imagery, and wet foggy days where you stroll down the winding streets in Bristol or go looking for ghosts of Victorian or Edwardian mysterious characters in London or anywhere else you happen to be there. One also very impressive feature is that for an album of generally very slow and atmospheric songs there is a high sense of drama and complexity bringing to mind the one great album by one of the worst bands ever to come out of England- Supertramp's 1st (the one with the surreal "Flowerface" as I call it cover). Now, as much as I hate them they hate that album and one could see why- it sounds like this one a bit and not at all a bit like Supertramp!
Enough digression there, let's get back to Indian Summer. The first track sticks it to religion and gives it a big middle finger as the cause of war, racism, and ignorance in the world with the title of "God Is The Dog!" I wonder if Rob Halford was listening to this band. The screaming falsetto shrieks of Bob Jackson are comparable to both Halford and Arthur Brown, but more controlled. The playing by the entire group is flawless- never a note wasted and not a single dull second. Even the instrumental "From The Film Of The Same Name" is a masterpiece of progressive rock. While it is clear to see that Indian Summer would not write or record commercial material and that is the hallmark of most progressive bands it also would be the downfall of many, but not Indian Summer. Whilst serious sounding they aren't self serious. Whilst adventurous one could never accuse them of pretentiousness. Also, I may say to close my rave that this album is nearly an hour long on playing time and never tiresome! For the best dark and Gothic epic progressive music look no further than this album and stellar tracks like "Glimpse" and "Secrets Reflected." Astonishing underrated MASTERPIECE!!!
  Shape Of The Rain, though different, is another album where I'd have to use the word perfect. Formed in Sheffield in the mid 60s they recorded enough material for an unreleased tracks CD that I'd love to track down and the band was very much a musical family. Keith and Len Riley played guitar and bass whilst their cousin Brian Wood played guitar/steel guitar and they were rounded off by drummer Tag Waggett. So, the album is called Riley Riley Wood and Waggett. Keith and Brian do all the vocals and Eric Hine adds some smashing electric piano.
Again the cover is amazing- a brilliant snapshot of England in an earlier, grander, more mysterious time and the music on the album of guitar based melodic psych/melodic progressive power pop is up there with the likes of The Parlour Band, Dog That Bit People, Northwind, and The Masters Apprentices' classic Choice Cuts. I can hear a lot of different contrasting influences here and I've always detected a strong love of Badfinger and The Beatles in this group. While the guitars rock and the vocals soar with prime melody and hooks a plenty like Badfinger there is a "Progressive" leaning that goes into surreal gnarling guitar jams and there also is something psychedelic about the songs. When I first heard this album it was merely rare and not hugely valuable, but with rarity and word of mouth spreading a factor now it is just as expensive as any other class UK release. The thing is, I can point the finger at a lot of German bands being too histrionic as much as there are loads of great bands from there and a lot of American bands unable to write good melodies and having a flat overall sound,  but as you'll notice from all my write-ups I go for the British bands as the best overall. Some bands would find a happier home or just more hospitable home elsewhere (Nektar and the obscure unrelated to the Andy Latimer group Camel the Underage album Camel), but their music would always have that English vibe. Shape Of The Rain give us an album of strong material, brilliant production from Kingsley Ward, and an immense amount of joyfulness that harkens back to the 1960s era when everything seemed possible. Whether the songs are driven by soaring dual guitars or big sounding acoustic riffs there is always a really creative anything-goes sound to this album. They jam, yet they are tight. I personally prefer this album over The Open Mind who could have made the best psych album in the world, but were done in by a producer and label (Phillips) who didn't care. Also, you can hear a bit of the UK Kaleidoscope sound in Shape Of The Rain which is always a plus. No matter how hard you have to search for these two do so and you'll be at the same conclusion I've arrived at- perfection happens every once in 3,000 blue moons, but it does happen at least twice a century and it happened on these two. Good night, cheerio, and God Bless!

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Amazingly Short Brilliant Career Of Rab Munro

Back Again now with someone's music that's been with me a very long time- that of the Scottish vocalist Rab Munro who's time in the annals of recording history was way too short and deserves some serious reappraisal for fans of progrock and straight forward British melodic rock.
Rab (Ne' Robert) began his career in the 60s singing with various Glasgow bands where his deep and resonant belting voice was popular on the R&B circuit. He probably sang in competition with the likes of the cream of that city's rock vocalists- Dean Ford (Thomas MacAleese is his real name) and Marmalade had already departed for London and stardom, but Scotland was a hotbed of talent that would see Alex Harvey, Mike Patto, Tear Gas (who actually I think were one of the lesser Scottish bands truth be told), and Maggie Bell go onto cult fame throughout the UK.
Come 1969 Mr. Munro was singing in the progressive/psych group House Of Lords not to be confused with the dreadful wet noodle hair plod rock band of the late 80s/90s from America who are still churning out schlock today. The original House Of Lords contained ex Three's A Crowd drummer Alan Pratt and made only one single- "Land Of Dreams" the A Side ( I believe) is on a Rubble compilation CD I've had since 1995 and is an amazing song. For a one off the song is full of rich Procol Harum like organ work, strong vocals from Rab whose melodic, deep, and warm voice is perfect for the early progressive sound of the track with its phasing signalling an influence of several years earlier. With success not coming and the single going on to become an expensive rarity here is where things get interesting and a bit of something only I myself seem to be aware of. Just how House Of Lords had been tipping their caps to the progressive era with R&B taking a backseat they would go Underground in 1970 and change their name to the rather odd moniker of Hate.
Signed to Famous Records/Regal Zonophone (an EMI imprint with many classy releases including fellow Scots Northwind) and miraculously Paramount in the US sometime in 1970 or early 1971 their lone album was released and just as soon they vanished without a trace. Sporting a frightening cover of a contorted-in-rage old man slamming his fist into a violently graffiti sprayed brick wall and in large white letters the album title "HATE KILLS" this is a really down and depressed effort that shows all the signs of change into progressive underground early 1970s British rock although I should point out that the songs are shortish and long solos weren't in Hate's repertoire. The album did not benefit from dubbed in brass arrangements, but that's where any flaws end. The songwriting of organist Neil Bruce and guitarist Jim Lacey together with an excellent job done by Lenny Graham (Bass) and Alan Pratt (Drums) and Rab's emotional voice made for a very impressive debut. Opening track "Come Along" sets the pace for a dark yet delightful album and Rab Munro shines as the quiet verses break into belting choruses. If I were to compare Hate to another band just imagine Genesis with Peter Gabriel if they wrote shorter songs and meandered less. You also could point to an unlikely pairing of 3 bands- Genesis, Free, and Procol Harum!!!! Yes, these guys were unique. In the United Kingdom unlike in the States you almost had to be good to make an album and the competition was full of great bands. I would say there was magic going on then that we'll probably never see again. Hate share with us an album that stands among the best of the early progressive era and is miles ahead of bands like the worst pile of sick and gory shite ever Deep Feeling (the "Guillotine" group- not to be confused with Jim Capaldi's band of the same name), Beggar's Opera's horrendous equally grim output, and Barclay James Harvest to name a few unworthy bands. For a band in league with Hate think of all the great music coming out then- Black Widow with my good buddy Kip Trevor on lead vocals, Stonehouse, Spirogyra, Indian Summer, Free, Dog That Bit People, Procol Harum, Genesis, Uriah Heep, all of the great ones! The lyrics to nearly all the songs are as deep and depressed as the cover ranging from anti war emotive Gothic rockers like "Come Along" to songs of illness and anger to the gruesome tale of suicide "Realization" which is really scary even after having heard the track some I would estimate 500 times by now!. People laugh at me for loving this album, but American audiences could for whatever reason never understand British or European rock. This album is British in every sense of what that Island stands for. Instead of obnoxious and gimmicky music made to sell big with the top 40 and radio crowds here you get deep, meaningful, soulful, and dynamic songs with Rab an absolute gem and the songs songs where you just have to dig deeper and let the music talk to you not you to it. Rab Munro wouldn't make it like Paul Rodgers had or Cliff Bennett had before him in commercial terms, but he certainly could match anything Rodgers or other strong bluesy singers came up with. There is but one dud on this album- "It's Alright To Run" and its pretty bad. The horn arrangement really fucks things up, the guitar sounds embarrassing like it was done it about half a take, and Rab Munro can't fight against the obnoxious girly harmonies. You worry about Side Two with an opener like that, but never fear Hate come back storming with "She Needs Me" and after the graphically violent "Realization" the last song is the somewhat more upbeat "I'll Live My Life For My Own Pleasure" anthem "I'm Moving Down." which closes with thunder sound effects as they walk away into the shadowy world of forgotten obscurity. Hate's album is a near perfect great album, but it just didn't sell and the disillusioned band called it quits with all but Rab Munro disappearing back into day job or dole queue land.
Years later in 1974 Rab would attempt a come back with a sort of super group called Ruby. Signed to Chrysalis UK and featuring former Procol Harum bass player David Knights together with guitarists John Abbott and Mike Lentin they were a much, much different band than Hate. Again a masterpiece would come out and again it would vanish. I don't know why the power pop/melodic British rocker from the band with Rab's rough and ready vocals would go down the tubes like Hate did, but again the same result occurred. Ruby's only album Red Crystal Fantasies bears more in common with Badfinger, Van Morrison, Shape Of The Rain (yes I'll be writing this one up soon), Rolling Stones, and The Band even, but in a good way, than Hate and would be recommended to a different audience if you don't have an open mind that is. There are no depressing lyrics or flirtations with progressive underground, but arguably Rab sings even better here. He is allowed a greater variety of material and the album benefits from a much better production job. I do miss a bit of the old Hate progrock vibe,  but with songs of this hugely high quality I'm in some kind of paradise with this one. Rab Munro never over does it. He gets pretty in your face, but judging by these two albums and the one single he deserved way more recognition and if I could track the man down and convince him into it I would have him singing for us again. If you love Paul Rodgers, John Lawton, early Mike Patto, Cliff Bennett's Toe Fat, and Procol Harum or if you just crave honest down to earth great music of all kinds give these recordings and give Rab Munro the respect he deserves. I promise a very rewarding experience to you.
Signing off for now, but I'll have some more great music to tell you all about soon.
Till then keep on rockin'

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Hello my mates, nymphs, fairies, foxes, record hounds, and other funny creatures and welcome to my blog! I love music- all kinds, but especially the vintage stuff- 60s through 80s. Before the grunge perversion and record company manhandling of the 90s we had a lot of really special sounds and so welcome to Vinyl Antiquity where you can find out about what is really kicking in the world of obscure old rock.
1972- a year when much happened and incidentally my favourite year for music in the 1970s which saw some of the best psychedelic, hard rock, folk rock, progressive rock, and pop.
For some reason, of which I can only speculate, it all came together in '72.
There was much diversity and since I aim mainly for England and Europe I should point out that you could find the most exciting music in the world there and also for a change in America.
Asgaerd and Jigsaw's Aurora Borealis (Jigsaw were a prolific group who would later have an international smash with "Sky High" and a consistent level of high quality) immediately spring to mind for capturing the unrest and chaos that was going on in Britain then.
Both Asgaerd's IN THE REALM OF ASGARD and AURORA BOREALIS have striking covers which when I have a digital camera I can upload. Asgaerd (Or to simplify things their more common name of Asgard) released IN THE REALM OF... after completing a staggering back catalogue of quality including Stonehouse's excellent Stonehouse Creek which featured James Smith (vocals) among their personnel and the beginning of the band was really the brilliant Bulldog Breed who featured Asgard's writer and guitarist Rod Harrison- a master.
The music on the album that was released by Moody Blues' label Threshold in 1972 and is among the rarest albums in the world created an eerie, unsettling, trippy and melodically heavy sound and atmosphere ranging from the time travelling "Town Crier" to the futuristic Armageddon of "Starquest" both of which took disparate Brit Pop and Psych influences into a hard hitting yet trance-like ambiance. The whole album, like Jigsaw, seemed to stem from the unrest in Northern Ireland and the ever present question on every British soldier and Englishman's mind "Are we losing our power and are we losing our empire?"If you're easily upset by violent imagery do not go here- if you can take a bit of savagery open the door to a brilliant experience. The vocals are strong and melodic throughout, often richly phased and harmonized. Rodney Harrison's guitar is cutting and edgy whilst creating unusual effects in the rhythms and melodic solos. If you love Uriah Heep (I do) but wish the production had been less dodgy on those classic Demons And Wizards or if you love the later British psych sound of the 1969 to 1973 period (Fantasy, Black Widow, and Octopus spring to mind) look no further BUT I should add Asgard are wholly unique. Find this album no matter how far you have to travel to get one. AVOID the Progressive Line label CD which is awful. You will find no album more intense or gripping and distinctly very English than this one.
Jigsaw on as brief a note as I can and I hate to do it to this album, but I've just done a long rave on Asgard:
Aurora Borealis will not be easy to track down and will cost you a pretty penny, but you will find it so worth it I can't even express how much fun you'll have!
Clearly both these albums came out of the explosion of Bloody Sunday where the Paras (that's The Parachute Regiment) were in the right and as always the Irish were in the wrong, but the violence that took place made everyone in the United Kingdom aware of The Troubles and very nervous as to what could happen. While Asgard are very serious Jigsaw seem to have taken a few pages out of Monty Python's and the Bonzo Dog Band's book about current issues! Sometimes this album is so funny that I nearly get sick, and always so clever that I smile wide. You'll find a bit of everything here- all done with a wonderful amount of fun. There's McCartney and Beatles styled melodic balladry in "Come With Me" and "What's My Name" and there's the screaming till the tonsils fall out mania of "Freud Fish" which is the most outrageous track laid down on the UK Phillips label. Jigsaw were the brainchild of songwriters Clive Scott (keyboards) and Des Dyer (nearly all vocals and drums) who were prolific and stocked this album full of on-the-edge screaming vocals, shockingly different arrangements, and warped English humour. As with Asgard this is a sought after rarity  but it will be a joy for you to listen to and own in your collection. Saying Cheerio for now, but feel free to ask me for albums to review and to send positive comments. I'd like to guide you on a rewarding journey where all you have to do is keep an open mind. Much more is to come, just bear with me and take a ride into Vinyl Antiquities with me.