Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Clear Light was a psychedelic rock band that formed in Los Angeles in 1966. They were very much in the mold of fellow Elektra Records artists Love, Tim Buckley, and especially the Doors.

In 1966, the The Brain Train formed and was managed by Sunset Strip hipster Bud Mathis. They recorded a single at the time but soon changed their name to Clear Light where they were signed by Elektra. One condition was that they fire Bud Mathis and in doing so, Doors' producer Paul A. Rothchild took over management of the band.( I have included that single as a bonus)

The core members of the group were Bob Seal, lead guitarist and vocals, Robbie"The Werewolf" Robison, rhythm guitar and vocals, Doug Lubahn bass and vocals,Dallas Taylor drums, and Michael Ney, on, most unusually, another set of drums. They soon added Cliff De Young on lead vocals. This is the version of the band seen on their one and only album cover. However, sometime during the often described "brutal" recording process, Paul Rothchild was not happy with Robbie "The Werewolf" Robison's guitar playing skills and pressured the group to replace him. That is how keyboardist Ralph Schukett entered the band. For some reason, this was not properly addressed on the album cover and there vamped version of Clear Light appears only on the album insert, if you were lucky enough to get an original copy.

What has been considered the band's finest hour came when drunken customers in a Park Avenue club heckled them so brutally that Ralph Schuckett, the usually gentle organist, hurled a few choice words back at them. They then walked off fhe stage, retired to the Albert Hotel, and woke up in the morning to find that they had become underground heroes.

The big hit off their only album, Clear Light, was "Mr. Blue," a psychedelic version of a folk song written by Tom Paxton and a popular request on underground radio at the time, despite the fact it was never released as a  single. Lasting over six minutes, the rather sinister, psychedelic song is considered a classic of the genre. Its lyrics, which alternate between spoken word and song, include verses opening with such lines as, "Good morning,Mister Blue, we've got our eye on you," "Step softly, Mister Blue, we know what's best for you," and "Be careful, Mister Blue, this phase you're going through ...."

The album also included some of guitarist Bob Seal's best psychedelic folk-rock songs, namely "With All in Mind" and "They Who Have Nothing." It had some success in England, but less in the U.S. The end of the group started when Paul Rothchild pressured the other members of the band to fire Bob Seal.When this happened, Cliff De Young was soon to follow and though they struggled on for a brief time, the band was essentially over, especially with the heart and spirit of the band, Bob Seal, gone. Seal was replaced by ex-Fug Danny "Kootch" Kortchmar but the group disbanded in 1968 after having started work on a second album.


Monday, August 25, 2014


Top image alternative cover by artist Pete Turner,   The bottom image is the better known image

           For the average listener, Under Milkwood's self-titled album will come as a sad knock-off of Jefferson Airplane's own landmark album, `Surrealistic Pillow'. For the connoisseur of sixties psychedelia, this will come as a wonderful surprise. Like Pillow, this album is split into an electric camp and a folkier, more stream of consciousness side. The recording was made in 1970, a time when psychedelic music was on its way out; all of the great bands of that era were in their twilight (except for the Grateful Dead): the Doors were good for one more album, `L.A. Woman'; the Jefferson Airplane had all but called it quits after 1969's `Volunteers'; the Beatles of course were on their last legs . . . In a way Under Milkwood is a classic example of too little too late. The opening track, "Empty room" is as good as it gets with the San Francisco sound: twin guitars loudly battling for the lead, a powerful vocal and a great drum/bass back-up. Generally the folkier songs are dependent on the vocal talents of Clara Miles; "Changing Seasons", "Tell Me" and "Lost Youth" are all pastoral, almost motionless songs. To many listeners they will be uninteresting, because other bands such as Pentangle, Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span have all done this much better. There are two prominent saxophone songs. The first, "Forgotten bridge", is a curious duet with a loud guitar that never seems to take off and go anywhere. The second, "Parade", is a strange, almost hymn-like procession. "Sandwiches and rock and roll" is loud, unimaginative filler. The last two songs actually tips things towards the favorable. The "Ballad of the spirit world" is an awesome instrumental that has a great sax solo at the start and a freaky guitar workout halfway through and then the same sax solo closes it! "Final song" bookends "Empty room", because both songs are about the loneliness of being different. It has an interesting vocal duet between Miles and Thornam, one of the guitarists. Like the opening track, this song builds to a furious, twin lead guitar attack-in all, a great way to close an album-and an era. R.Cossboon

01.Empty Room - 4:56
02.Changing Seasons - 4:23
03.Tell Me - 5:33
04.Forgotten Bridge - 3:49
05.Parade - 2:44
06.Sandwiches Rock'n'Roll - 3:30
07.Lost Youth - 1:30
08.Ballad of the Spirit of the World - 6:21
09.Final Song - 6:11

Under Milkwood :
John Thornam - Guitars, Vocals
Stephen Mallory - Guitars, Vocals
Robert Mickalsky - Drums
David Turner Jr. - Keyboards, Guitar, Vocals
Clara Miles - Lead Vocals, Percussion
Mike  Lewthorne - Tenor Sax
Alphonse Barnet - Trumpet, Flute, Harpischord



 Original art (above) by Rick Griffin from his Gospel Of John works.

 From Lansing, Michigan band, although their rare album is on a Tennessee label. The 45 cuts are on the album. Both records are undated, but sound circa 1970. The group played hard rock with male and female vocals (overtly religious lyrics) punctuated by loud fuzz guitar.

The ultra- rare 1970 LP- Heavy Rock: Everlasting Life. , this Jefferson Airplane/Cream inspired music is one of a kind. Spacey and very haunting vocals, distorted guitar, Farfisa Organ; it will take you to new limits of Psychedelia.

 Earthen Vessel was one of the quintessential "Jesus Rock" bands in the Midwest for an 18-month period during 1970-1971. The "Jesus Movement," a sort of counter-cultural church youth group, was rapidly growing in California in 1970. Native Californian Dave Caudill had been working for Campus Crusade for Christ at its San Bernadino headquarters in summer 1970 and he was exposed to the Movement, at which he witnessed numerous Christian folk and rock groups. When he returned to Michigan State University that fall for his sophomore year, he began performing solo for a Nazarene youth group at a church where Leon Morton was working. At the time, Morton, a former tenor in a gospel quartet, and his partner in the newly formed Balton Enterprises, Inc., Walter Ballard, were putting together a Christian rock group in Lansing, MI. They had already secured the skills of Juilliard-trained Eddie Johnson on drums; bassist John Sprunger, who had played trumpet on a Buckingham's album and bass for the northern Illinois band Commonwealth; and vocalist Sharon Keel and vocalist/keyboardist Ken Fitch, both from a Nazarene college in Illinois. Morton invited Caudill to join the band, and with his addition on guitar, the Rare Ones (quickly changed to Earthen Vessel, a biblical reference) were born. Morton and Ballard managed the band and its warm-up act, folksinger Lillie Crozier. Earthen Vessel began practicing in the fall of 1970, writing original songs and playing at the Catacombs, a Christian coffeehouse in Lansing operated by Balton Enterprises. The band wanted to be both an evangelistic ministry and a high-powered, high-volume, full-on acid rock band, minus, of course, the acid and other psychedelic drugs. (In fact, Earthen Vessel often performed at anti-drug rallies at area high schools in the towns they were performing in on any given night.) This caused a few problems for the band; even though their music was distinctly Christian, the fact that they were also unabashedly psychedelic offended some church leaders, who sometimes falsely concluded that the bandmembers were on drugs and generally living the rock & roll lifestyle. Yet that was exactly the goal of the band: they wanted to provide a counter-cultural image of religious life that countered the traditional (and narrow) Christian image. By the summer of 1971, the band was playing outdoor festivals throughout the Midwest as well as at various Christian music festivals and functions. They even scheduled a nine-day tour of Sweden, though after a particularly loud concert in Stockholm on the first night of the tour, Earthen Vessel was banned from playing again and Caudill had to finish the tour as a solo folksinger. They toured in a gutted-out bus with a bedroom in the back for Keel and bunk beds in the middle for the rest of the guys. West Laboratories, which Sprunger worked for, provided the band with amplifiers. The band had enough original material for an album by that summer and Morton arranged for NPR Records' Dave Mathes to produce the album at Monument Studios in Nashville. The eponymous album was released in 1971, but it did not sell as well as the band had hoped. The grueling wear of the road and the album's failure, as well as the various college and career plans, coaxed the band members into disbanding by the summer of 1972. A new Earthen Vessel was formed with Sharon Keel out front, but it did not last long.


Sunday, August 24, 2014


Douglas Fir began as the Portland, Oregon trio of Douglas A. Snider (drums, vocals), Tim Doyle (Hammond B-3), and Richie Moore (guitar) in the late-'60s. Originally known as the Sun Trio, they played the "meat market" bar circuit of the Pacific Northwest to pay for studio time while holding down day jobs (as logger and fire fighter, construction worker, and liquor delivery truck driver). They were befriended by Mike Carter and Russ Gorsline, recording engineers at local studios who appreciated the band's music so much that they helped front the trio studio time, even when they were unable to pay the bill. After laboring for two years on the recording project, Douglas Fir decided to take the plunge into the murky waters of the recording industry. Snider sold his car to buy a one-way ticket to Hollywood, and the band spent hours stalking the streets to play their tape for record companies. By luck or accident, Snider bumped into a man in the elevator of the Sunset Vine Towers, who turned out to be one of the hottest arrangers in town. The man introduced Douglas Fir to executives from MGM/Quad Records, and after the band played the executives their tape, a deal was immediately struck. The label paid off old studio bills, and Bruce Bye was added on bass to fill out the band's sound. MGM/Quad released a single, "Smokey Joe's," and it received substantial airplay, which allowed the band to begin a short tour. The tour and the deal ended abruptly, however, when the label folded, leaving the rare Hard Heartsingin' LP as Douglas Fir's sole effort.By the sound of Hard Heart Singin', Douglas Fir must have been a smoking little blues-rock combo. They may have existed purely as a bar band, but the Pacific Northwest dives where they honed their sound must have been some pretty trippy little establishments, as evidenced by the brooding, ominous, mildly psychedelic (depending on your definition of the genre) nature of their rock & roll. Everything about the music is coated in a dense, smothering atmosphere (in a good way), as if it is all emanating from a small box rather than the band at the front of the room. The recording displays the same ponderous, cloistered, roadhouse blues edge of the Doors, and they share some of the Band's interest in old-time ambience, evident in the wonderful, rolling Ray Charles piano of "Smokey Joe's," and the perfectly placed soul horn charts of "Moratorium Waltz." Richie Moore's guitar work entirely avoids showy ostentation like Robbie Robertson and occasionally matches the sustained tone of Randy California (although it is not generally as distinctive as either guitarist's talent). The songwriting -- nine originals plus a lulling Moody Blues-like cover of Donovan's "Jersey Thursday" -- is solid throughout. The ballads, which make up an uncommon majority of the album, veer into soft psych territory to a greater degree than the more propulsive songs. They are all very much above average -- particularly for an unknown band -- and often have a transfixing power, especially the engrossing title track and "Tom's Song." The rockers are more realistically situated somewhere between revved-up hard rock and progressive blues, all played with rollicking bar band energy and featuring exceptional playing from the trio and the fabulous pipes of drummer Doug Snider. His phrasing is so grounded in the soul aesthetic that the music fairly buzzes with wrenching emotion. His drumming, too, is wondrous, and his dexterous timekeeping spikes the music with a mystical, jazzy vibe on songs such as "I Didn't Try" and "21 Years," while Tim Doyle's Hammond B3 work is never less than sensational. It may be cliché to make such a statement in regard to a little-known band from the era, but Douglas Fir truly deserved a better shake from the music industry. Hard Heart Singin' is plenty resonant to stand next to the B list, if not the top-level hard rock albums of the era. ~ Stanton Swihart


1. Hard Heartsingin (D. T. Jay, D. A. Snider) - 4:23
2. Jersey Thursday (Donovan P. Leitch) - 2:18
3. I Didn't Try (D.T. Jay, R.L. Moore, D.A. Snider) - 3:40
4. Early In The Morning Rain (Jay, Moore, Snider) - 3:51
5. New Orleans Queen (Snider, Bye, Fetsch, Gorsline) - 3:17
6. Moratorium Waltz (Douglas A. Snider) - 3:05
7. Smokey Joe's (Bye/Fetsch, Moore, Snider) - 2:19
8. Comin' Back Home (Douglas A. Snider) - 3:52
9. Tom's Song (Fetsch, Ford, Snider) - 3:01
10.21 Years (Moore, Snider) - 2:54

Douglas Fir
*Richie Moore - Guitar
*Tim Doyle - Keyboards
*Douglas A. Snider - Drums, Vocals
*Bruce Bye - Bass



Fear Itself was a short-lived psychedelic blues-rock band formed by Ellen McIlwaine in the late 1960's in Atlanta, Georgia. The band featured McIlwaine singing lead vocals as well as performing harp, rhythm guitar and organ. Chris Zaloom performed lead guitar, Steve Cook played bass guitar, and Bill McCord was on drums. (Steve Cook left Fear Itself after this album was recorded and Paul Album joined the group playing bass guitar.)
Fear Itself was rooted in heavy bluesrock, and had some inspirations from Cream, and Hendrix. What made this group so different is partly the lead of the female singer, who's voice ranges wide in expressions, recalling names like Janis Ian /Janis Joplin, from gospel,blues to hard rock. Very funny is the “daddy won’t you be my man” on “Bow’d up” like a housewife blues joke, which finds a breakpoint into the powerful heavy rock of “For Suki”, this time with a Grace Slick reference, but with balls, over to a very clear Linda Hoyle & Affinity reference on the very strong and powerful “In my time of dying”, a song rooted in Bob Dylan interpreted as heavy psychrock, here also with some raw blues electric guitar lava outbursts. Also "Lazarus" with electric guitar duels and emotional power in the voice, is another killer. Very soulful with additional keyboards is "Mossy Dream".
After the bass guitarist was killed by a drunk driver, the group parted, and singer Ellen McIlwaine moved over to Canada to start a successful solo career.
The group performed at TheWoodstock Sound Out Festival in 1968, and eventually separated after the bass guitarist Paul Album was killed by a drunk driver. McIlwaine later moved to Canada and started a solo career.
  1. Crawling Kingsnake (J.L.Hooker, B.Bassman)
  2. Underground River (Ellen McIlwaine)
  3. Bow'd Up (Ellen McIlwaine)
  4. For Suki (Ellen McIlwaine)
  5. In My Time Of Dying (Traditional arr. by Ellen McIlwaine)Side Two
  1. The Letter (W.C. Thompson)
  2. Lazarus (Traditional arr. by Ellen McIlwaine)
  3. Mossy Dream (Ellen McIlwaine)
  4. Billy Gene (Ellen McIlwaine)
  5. Born Under A Bad Sign (Ellen McIlwaine)


Saturday, August 23, 2014


The next few selections will be focused on some bands and artists who may have been lost in the movement. Some of these artists may have made one or two Lp's as  contributions to the times. They deserve to be recognized as folks who made some pretty good music. Some of the band members went on to other careers while some continued on in the music business. so as they say......back in the day!

Friday, August 22, 2014


Having posted the two unsung Iron Butterfly LP's it somewhat inspired me to put together a set of 24 IB tunes that are some of my favorites while as usual not including the ones that you hear all the time. Nothing against the staples... Vida, IB Theme or Blu but you can hear them whenever so here are some that you don't hear everyday. Now that I think about it .... you may not hear IB everyday anyway!   So what the hell !

Tracks 1-7 from the "Heavy" Lp

8=10 from "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida

11-15 from "Ball"

16-non lp song from "Light and Heavy"

17-19 from "Metamorphosis

20-21 from "Scorching Beauty""

22-24 from "Sun and Steel"