Thursday, 29 September 2011

Lotti Golden: 'real and deep and touching'

One of the more interesting singer-songwriter albums of the late 60s was Motor-Cycle by teenager Lotti Golden, which has been memorably described as 'abstract cutting-edge drugged-out blue-eyed soul jam-jazz pop-rock'. In her native New York this summer I bought a copy of the LP containing the press pack Atlantic sent out with promos in April 1969. It consists of a custom envelope, a 4-page biography by June Harris, a glossy photo, a photo-card and a poem. Here goes:


In September 1969 Atlantic issued a cool funk 45 by Golden, which came in a promotional picture sleeve, and isn't on the LP: 

According to an interview Golden gave to Look magazine, dated September 9th 1969, she was working on a follow-up album to be entitled Blood Ring. That never happened, sadly, and her second, lesser and last album eventually crept out on GRT Records in November 1970. You can read the full article here:

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

KAK: 'uneven but enormously promising'

Along with Morgen, Kak made arguably the best one-shot US psych LP of the late 1960s. From Davis, California (outside Sacramento), they consisted of Gary Lee Yoder (vocals / guitar), Dehner Patten (lead guitar), Joe-Dave Damrell (bass) and Chris Lockheed (drums). Despite having clear commercial potential and being one of the truest early representations of the West Coast sound, their album crept out in January 1969 and sank without trace. I thought I'd post the only contemporary references to the quartet that I've ever seen.

But first, here's the album itself:

As far as I know, two ads appeared - one in Rolling Stone and one in Go. Here they are:

In addition, Epic included Disbelievin' on their January 1969 Rockbuster sampler LP, and included a small picture of the band in a round-up of its new releases in Billboard at the same time:

Go, meanwhile, ran a very brief interview with their wah-wah wizard Dehner Patten:

Somewhat amazingly, the album was also promoted via a promo film, which has surfaced on youtube, and from which the outstanding front cover was extracted:
I've only encountered three reviews of the LP. The first appeared in Billboard of February 1st:

The second review appeared in the UK underground paper International Times on April 11th, and was written by Barry Miles (later to become Paul McCartney's official biographer). As if Miles weren't already hip enough, note how he casually refers to the 13th Floor Elevators, whom most critics in Texas had never even heard of at the time:

The third was in Stereo Review of July 1969. I stupidly threw away the relevant issue, but it ran thus: 'Kak is one more group with a kooky name and more than a bit of debt to The Beatles. Yet their vitality is infectious, and they can sing and play up a storm. Their Electric Sailor, for instance, is a navvy from outer space with a "double-wide grin" and "sparks flyin' off his electric feet", and a positively galvanic personage, the way they sing of him. Everything's Changing is delivered with such conviction you begin to suspect maybe it really is. The quartet of white boys who make up Kak are not above helping themselves to whatever mannerisms are around and handy as grist to their mill, including a liberal dose of soul - as in a bluesy ballad called Disbelievin' - but they manage to assimilate what they borrow, and give it back as their own. High point of a fast-moving programme is a 'Trieulogy' of three contrasting moods, in each of which they open all the stops and really take off. A lively disc.'

No fewer than three 45s were extracted - firstly the promo-only Everything's Changing (mono) / Everything's Changing (stereo), produced by John Neel:

Next came promo and stock copies of Everything's Changing / Rain (Epic 5-10383), also produced by John Neel. The 45 performance of Rain was different to that on the LP, with white labels being stereo and the rarer yellow-label stock copies being mono:

Their third and last 45 was I've Got Time / Disbelievin' (Epic 5-10446), produced by Gary Grelecki:

Over in Mexico, an EP appeared, coupling HCO 97658 and Everything's Changing with two tracks by Spirit, housed in a picture sleeve showing the latter band's debut LP cover. 

The appetitie for Kak south of the border was evidently not sated by that: mind-bogglingly, a full EP also appeared there, offering Rain, Disbelievin', Electric Sailor and Mirage. At the time of writing, only one copy is known to exist:

Kak split almost as soon as their LP appeared, having played a meagre estimated total of five concerts. Only one poster / handbill seems to exist. It's for a gig at Freeborn Hall, the concert venue on the campus of UCD (University Of California, Davis). Being a hometown gig, it bills them as the Kak [Oxford Circle]... That name still meant something to the local longhairs, even if they were forgotten everywhere else. 

On April 26th, Record World ran a special Los Angeles issue, which featured this ad:

By then, they'd split up. A month later, Epic placed this advert in the May 17th 1969 issue of Rolling Stone

Following their split, leader Gary Yoder issued a so-so solo 45 before joining Blue Cheer, while drummer Chris Lockheed joined Randy Holden for his deafening Population II project. Kak hadn't been entirely forgotten, however - a couple of years later Lester Bangs praised them highly in his Rolling Stone review of Blue Cheer's Oh! Pleasant Hope (July 8th 1971):

In the decades since, many others have come around to Bangs' way of thinking, and the album is now widely regarded as a classic. The CD reissue on Big Beat has excellent liner notes and photos, and a great interview with Dehner Patten can be found here:

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Rendell-Carr: 'the greatest force in jazz this country has ever known'

The 1960s wasn't only a time of amazing development in British rock music, but British jazz too. As the decade progressed, composers, bandleaders and musicians such as Mike Taylor, Joe Harriott, Michael Garrick, Stan Tracey, Mike Westbrook and John Surman recorded masterpieces that would have been unthinkable at the dawn of the decade. Unfortunately, it was in the face of indifference both from record companies and the public, who were fixated on American jazz. Compared to the explosion in pop releases, a tiny number of homegrown jazz albums were issued at the time - I would estimate that a connoisseur's collection would only number about 100 albums. Nonetheless, then as now, barely anyone listens to British jazz, and several of the greatest albums in the genre have still never made it to CD.

One of the best-regarded bands of the decade was co-led by Don Rendell and the late Ian Carr (who later formed Nucleus), but surprisingly little hard info about them is available online. I therefore thought I'd reproduce here the fullest overview of their work I've ever encountered. It's by P. John Sullivan and originally appeared in the June 1968 issue of Jazz Journal, so pre-dates the release of Live and the recording of Change Is. Nonetheless, it gives a fascinating insight into their background, intentions and work.