Thursday

WELCOME TO BLITZ MAGAZINE'S WEB SITE!


MORE AND MORE AMOR: Beloved composer, vocalist, virtuoso trumpeter and A&M Records co-founder HERB ALPERT and his wife of forty-nine years and long time lead vocalist with Sergio Mendes And Brasil '66, LANI HALL kept a capacity crowd enthralled during their two-hour set at the Royal Oak Music Theatre in suburban Detroit on 20 September. Editor / Publisher Michael McDowell sings their praises in a story under the Previous Posts heading at right. (Click on the above image to enlarge). 

WELCOME TO THE INTERET HOME
FOR BLITZ MAGAZINE
SINCE 1975 -
THE ROCK AND ROLL MAGAZINE
FOR THINKING PEOPLE

Welcome to the official web site for Blitz, The Rock And Roll Magazine For Thinking People. Since 1975, Blitz has been the leading voice for the discerning music enthusiast. Blitz Magazine was also one of the first magazines of its kind to embrace the internet, having also been online since January 1996.

Here you will find news and updates about all of the key artists essential to the growth and development of rock and roll music and related genres, including rhythm and blues, country and western, jazz and easy listening. For highlights from recent past editions of the Bits And Pieces and Shape Of Things To Come columns, click on the archival postings on the right hand side of this page. Be sure and check back frequently for regular updates.

If you have any questions, please e-mail us at BlitzMcD@aol.com.


Michael McDowell
Editor/Publisher
Blitz Magazine
Since 1975 - The Rock And Roll Magazine For Thinking People

E-Mail us at BlitzMcD@aol.com for a list of available back issues.


Be sure to follow Blitz on Twitter:
@BlitzMagazine
and
on Facebook at:
Blitz Magazine - The Rock And Roll Magazine For Thinking People

AUDREY'S MUSICAL JOURNEY:

Follow the fascinating and unfolding tale (through her favorite music) of the life and times of Blitz Magazine's late and beloved Photo Editor, Audrey McDowell, as told by her husband, Blitz Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell. A Facebook exclusive! "Like" us on Facebook at Blitz Magazine - The Rock And Roll Magazine For Thinking People, and watch for further installments.

IN THE BITS AND PIECES COLUMN:

The passing of saxophonist PHAROAH SANDERS on 24 September deprived the world of music of one of the last remaining giants of jazz's most prolific and productive era. Editor / Publisher Michael McDowell salutes the one time John Coltrane collaborator.

In a free standing article under the Previous Posts heading at right, we salute HERB ALPERT and his wife and long time Sergio Mendes And Brasil '66 vocalist, LANI HALL, in the wake of their landmark two-hour live extravaganza at the Royal Oak Music Theatre on 20 September.

Composer, vocalist and Mark Twain impressionist JIM POST, who was also the "Friend" half of legendary folk duo, FRIEND AND LOVER, succumbed to a battle against a lengthy illness on 14 September at age 82.

In a free standing article under the Previous Posts heading at right, Debbie Gibson vets SYLVIA MacCALLA and SEAN THOMAS have joined forces to produce the game changing Stay Human single.

Following just days after the tragic and unexpected passing of organ virtuoso Joey DeFranceso, the world of jazz lost one of its most iconic pianists with the 12 September passing of RAMSEY LEWIS. 

MONKEES drummer and lead vocalist MICKY DOLENZ braved the heat to host a charity meet and greet at a Michigan Hot Wheels Festival on 27 August, only to learn of tragedy the following day. Editor / Publisher Michael has the story. 

In a free standing article under the Previous Posts heading at right, pioneering New Wave giant NICK LOWE and swamp rock legend TOMMY McLAIN joined forces at the Magic Bag in Fernaale, Michigan on 06 August before a sold out crowd to provide one of the most formidable live shows in recent memory. Editor / Publisher Michael McDowell has the story, with commentary from Lowe. 

IN THE REISSUES / ANTHOLOGIES SECTION OF
THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME COLUMN:

The ambious and prolific Cherry Red label takes a deep dive into the work of dozens of bands that made the first generation garge rock movement as vibrant as it could get in Southern California. Editor / Publisher Michael McDowell salutes their 3CD Heroes And Villains compilation accordingly.

The long and complex recorded history of the SWINGING BLUE JEANS has at last been properly chronicled in Feelin' Better, a new 3CD anthology on Cherry Red Records.

Veteran Indiana composer, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist BRAD LONG is the long overdue recipient of an anthology retrospective CD on the Space Brain Collective label.

The legendary supergroup, the BILL EVANS TRIO (featuring visionary bassist Scott LeFaro) is the subject of a comprehensive 3CD retrospective from Cherry Red Records.

IN THE NEW RELEASES SECTION OF
THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME COLUMN:

Drawing from equal parts Incredible String Band, Jean-Paul Sartre and Donovan Leitch, composer vocalist ROXANNE FONTANA has come up with quite a musical pastiche with Phantasmagorgy, her latest for the Sprezzatura label.

With a purist approach, SUSIE BLUE AND THE LONESOME FELLAS nonetheless achieve the unlikely in being able to assuage two seemingly disparate yet ultimately sympathetic camps via their latest Seraphic Records release, Blue Train.

Veteran five tool player BRIAN GARI takes the cerebral perspective of the modern lover to the next level in his latest Original Cast label release, Expose Yourself.

The latest album from California trio MONOGROOVE, Into The Sun draws from a wide variety of inspirations, from life long heroes to fallen colleagues.


Tuesday

DEBBIE GIBSON VETS MacCALLA AND THOMAS DEBUT GAME CHANGING SINGLE

 

WE'VE GOTTA FIGHT, WE'VE GOTTA PRAY: In one of the most promising collaborations in recent months, long time veterans of Debbie Gibson's Team Teb cadre of top flight musicians have joined forces to produce a game changing single with anthemic potential. Vocalist SYLVIA MacCALLA drew inspiration from the current socio-political climate (and the resultant elevated level of emotional response throughout society) to compose Stay Human, with the multi-talented SEAN THOMAS bringing the vision to fruition as vocalist, arranger and multi-instrumentalist. Blitz Magazine Editor / Publihser Michael McDowell has their story below. Pictured left to right: Sylvia MacCalla, Debbie Gibson and Sean Thomas. Photo courtesy of Sylvia MacCalla. (Click on above image to enlarge).

SHOW 'EM WHAT YOU DO: 
TEAM DEB VETS
MacCALLA AND THOMAS
SPREAD LOVE
WITH GAME CHANGING SINGLE
(A BLITZ MAGAZINE EXCLUSIVE)
By Michael McDowell

"Anger has become a public epidemic in America".

So said Steve Poe, lead pastor of Northview Church in central Indiana in his most recent book, Creatures Of Habit.

"It also has the potential to hurt your health, wreck your peace of mind, destroy your relationships, and even threaten your career".

In the September 2021 edition of Signs Of The Times, editor Marvin Moore concurred in a piece entitled, From Anger To Forgiveness.

"Anger is our automatic human response to injustice", he said.

"Usually, the more threatening the injustice, the more intense the anger".

Indeed, one need look no further than the various social media platforms to find ongoing examples of acrimony. Even the most seemingly innocuous observations are often met with confrontation and vitriol. Such discussions tend to escalate into a free for all that leaves bitterness and resentment in their wake, with few (if any) converts in the process.

In the present decade, such intense reactions often stem from issues ranging from the pandemic to ongoing socio-political concerns. In worst case scenarios, those reactions have manifested themselves via an increase in road rage incidents, physical confrontation and the like.

True to form, the beloved composer, vocalist, producer, arranger and multi-instrumentalist Debbie Gibson has long advocated for taking the high road in such matters, both in her public profile and among those within her entourage (known as Team Deb). In the process, she has affectionately been dubbed by Blitz Magazine - The Rock And Roll Magazine For Thinking People as, "the queen of relentless optimism". 

In turn, a pair of seasoned veterans from the present incarnation of Team Deb's corps d'elite cadre of musicians have joined forces to create a single that has the potential to make a game changing impact on those developments.

The Southern California - based vocalist, composer and producer Sylvia MacCalla has enjoyed a most productive association with Gibson as a backing vocalist. 

"Deb and I have been friends for a long time", she said.

In recent months, while MacCalla has turned much of her attention to her related endeavors as a photographer, she has also placed a greater emphasis on her work as a composer. Duly inspired in part by her enthusiasm for the work of a trio of iconic musical visionaries, the resultant Stay Human stands poised to take her curriculum vitae in the latter category to the next level and beyond.

"My influences are too many to list", said MacCalla.
 
"But three artists speak to whom I would aspire to be like as a songwriter and storyteller. I've been highly inspired by Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder and Carole King. They speak of activism, love and thoughtfulness, without making the listener feel judged. That is what I tried to do with Stay Human".

With its rallying cry of, "We've gotta fight, we've gotta pray", Stay Human invokes each of those ideals succinctly. Whereas the likes of Buffalo Springfield's For What It's Worth addressed similar circumstances with an element of fear and desperation more than a half century ago, MacCalla's composition takes the higher ground of relentless optimism in solidarity with the mission statement espoused by Friend And Lover in their signature single, Reach Out Of The Darkness.

But while Friend And Lover's 1968 Verve Forecast label 45 speaks of the accomplishment of the goal in the past tense (setting an example in the process), MacCalla reassuringly envisions her own such endeavors as duly within reach

"My hope has always been that, with awareness, change is not only possible, but it can be immediate", she said.

"The recent wake up call that we have all experienced collectively has done different things. But one thing has been made painfully clearWe all need each other".

To that effect, the tried and true tag team approach to the recording process entered the picture at this point. 

Since 2016, the multi-talented Vancouver, British Columbia native Sean Thomas has been an integral component of Gibson's Team Deb. Gibson and Thomas met on the set of the classic Hallmark motion picture, Summer Of Dreams, a loosely true to life account. Therein, Gibson soared as high school music teacher Debbie Taylor, with Thomas co-starring as her ambitious and accomplished student, Nick. 

Happily, in Thomas' case, the "true to life" distinction applied equally. So gifted was he in a variety of musical disciplines that Gibson subsequently reached out to him to become an ongoing part of Team Deb. 

"Initially, when auditioning for Summer Of Dreams, I knew very little about the story line", said Thomas.

"In addition to reading my part, I was asked to prepare a song. I performed one of my favorites, Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran. 

"In the waiting room before the audition, I met Mitchell Kummen, who also starred in the movie. We became instant friends! I met the rest of the cast members on the first day of filming. We all worked together so well, and we're all still friends to this day!"

In the long term, it was his extensive experience in a variety of disciplines that best prepared Thomas for his post-Summer Of Dreams association with Gibson. Among those many attributes was his ongoing passion for voiceover work.

"I've been really fortunate to have had opportunities to voice act on some really amazing projects and meet some incredibly talented actors", he said.

"Initially, it wasn't something that I thought about, until my agent called me after she had heard a CD I recorded when I was young. Whether it's music or voice acting, I have so much fun when I'm in a recording studio. I can definitely see myself pursuing both passions".

While voiceovers may not be the attribute that factors most prominently into his work with Gibson, Thomas envisions it as a logical adjunct to both his command of the recording and production process, as well as his mastery of a variety of instruments, including the harp and the theremin. The latter instrument was featured prominently in the Beach Boys' 1966 Good Vibrations single, as well as the pair of albums by their Capitol label mates, Lothar And The Hand People.

"The theremin was one of the most unique instruments I've ever played", said Thomas.

"Having perfect pitch made it easier to find the exact note with the hand movements. I haven't used it in any of my recordings. Yet!"

Conversely, while Thomas has been primarily focusing on guitar and piano for many of his current endeavors, the harp has also served him well as a stepping stone of sorts.

"I remember the day I bought my harp very well", he said.

"My parents took me to a local auction. When I walked up to it, I immediately started playing the McDonald's theme song and other familiar jingles. I had a small budget. But luckily, my bid won! I've enjoyed using it in some of my productions".

In the wake of those experiences, the collaborative process between MacCalla and Thomas began to take shape.

"Since 2018, I've been fortunate to work with Sylvia on several great projects", said Thomas.

"I'm always blown away by her many talents".

So much so, that MacCalla ultimately entrusted her "baby" to him.

"She first shared Stay Human and asked if I could prepare a demo", said Thomas.

"While I was working on the song, I fell in love with the simplistic yet impactful message in the lyrics. I knew I wanted to be a part of it".

Not surprisingly, Stay Human was not Thomas' first venture into material or activity of an altruistic nature.

"I initially started my fundraising program in an effort to raise money for the oncology department at B.C. Children's Hospital", he said.

"I used to say, 'If everyone makes a small difference, together we can make a big difference'. With that in mind, and with all of the life-changing events in the past few years, I feel like compassion for each other is more important than ever".

MacCalla readily concurred.

"If nothing else, it was my intention to deliver the message in a way that was digestible through the art of not pointing fingers, but just leaving it there for you to see for yourself in a non-judgemental way", she said.

With that, the collaborative process reached fruition.

"Sean is extremely gifted at what he does", said MacCalla.

"He speaks Sylvia, and we play well together".

The timing for the debut of Stay Human is certain to prove fortuitous, coming as it does in advance of the 21 October release of Winterlicious, Gibson's highly anticipated, all new album in celebration of Christmas, Hanukkah and the joys of family and friends. 
"I'm super excited for the Winterlicious album", said MacCalla.

"Deb was gracious enough to sing an original song I wrote. Track two, I Wish Everyday Was Christmas".

The celebration will kick off in earnest during Thanksgiving week on 25 November, with a tour that includes stops in Southern California, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Maryland. Gibson commenced rehearsals in New York during mid-September with long time choreographers Buddy Casimano and Eddie Bennett.

"I'm so excited for the release of Winterlicious and for Debbie's upcoming tour", said Thomas.

"I won't be joining her for this tour. But I'm hoping I can find some time to attend one of her shows!"

Thomas' enthusiasm carries over from Gibson's 2021 The Body Remembers album, which took top honors from Blitz Magazine that year for Best Single (One Step Closer) and Album Of The Year. Thomas' presence is particularly felt in one of the album's standout cuts, Runway.

"Because of Debbie's versatility as an artist and a vocalist, we had a lot of fun experimenting on The Body Remembers", he said.

"I'm so happy to hear all of the positive feedback she's had so far! I can't wait for people to hear all of the surprises Winterlicious has in store. Everyone's gonna love it!"

Meanwhile, as the results readily attest, Stay Human stands poised to serve as a clarion call that could eventually take on anthemic status.

"Thank you for putting Stay Human in a category that could even be considered anthemic", said MacCalla

"This song in particular has taken on a few different incarnations. I was flattered that Sean wanted to release this song. Once he sang it for me, I couldn't magine any other voice on it. He and I both had strong visions that we were able to merge into the result that you hear now".

To invoke the words of Debbie Gibson, it is a result that is bearing fruit as a result of opting to Think With Your Heart.

HERB ALPERT AND LANI HALL IN CONCERT


OTHER DELIGHTS: Composer, vocalist, virtuoso trumpeter and A&M Records co-founder HERB ALPERT, his wife and long time Sergio Mendes And Brasil '66 vocalist LANI HALL and their formidable backing trio kept a sold out and appreciative crowd enthralled during their very full two hour set at the Royal Oak Music Theatre in suburban Detroit on 20 September.  Editor / Publisher Michael McDowell salutes their efforts and accomplishments below. Photo by Mike Jackson. (Click on above image to enlarge).

PLUCKY:
HERB ALPERT AND
LANI HALL ARE
STILL GOING PLACES
By Michael McDowell
Even such greats as Carl Perkins occasionally got it wrong.

In an interview conducted in the mid-1980s, the late Sun Records veteran and rockabilly pioneer observed that, in his estimation, of the many musicians of all genres that made their mark during the formative years of rock and roll did so with either extraordinary musical ability or an abundance of charisma and/or personality. However, according to Perkins, only two artists possessed all of those attributes: Elvis Presley and Rick Nelson.

While of course Perkins was one hundred percent correct in his estimation of Presley and Nelson, his short list of two was most assuredly missing a third name: Herb Alpert.

A native of the Los Angeles suburb of Boyle Heights, Alpert compiled his curriculum vitae in a variety of disciplines. They include vocalist (a series of superb early singles as Dore Alpert, as well as the occasional vocal outing while fronting the Tijuana Brass), composer (in tandem with Sam Cooke of the monster classic, Wonderful World, which was covered most gloriously in 1965 by Herman's Hermits), trumpet virtuoso (both with and without the aforementioned Tijuana Brass) and industry exec (founder - along with Jerry Moss - of the storied A&M label and its Almo subsidiary). 

In terms of a musical standpoint, such accomplishments are of course exemplary. But where Alpert rose above the herd was in his public persona. However unintentionally, the albums he released with the Tijuana Brass for A&M portrayed on their front covers an artist who enjoyed life to the fullest and beckoned the observer to follow suit. 

From the cup held aloft in victory on the cover of his 1962 debut album, The Lonely Bull and the charismatic street musician depicted on the group's South Of The Border LP (not to mention the needs no explanation cover of the Tijuana Brass' late 1964 Whipped Cream And Other Delights collection) to the pilot aiming for the stars portrait that graced the cover of 1965's Going Places and the serious musician peering from behind the jovial Santa Claus disguise with a "deer in the headlights" look on the band's 1968 Christmas LP, Alpert proved in due course to be not just an artist whose work was (and is) immensely respected, but who duly set a precedent as a presence whom individuals from a variety of demographics sought to emulare. 

Yet for his musical accomplishments alone, Alpert's resume absolutely staggers the imagination. Inspired in his formative years by such visionaries as trumpeters Miles Davis and Clifford Brown, Alpert concurrently developed his considerable skills on the trumpet as a member of the Trojan Marching Band at the University of Southern California. 

In 1957, Alpert came on board as a songwriter at Keen Records, the label co-founded by future Del-Fi head, Bob Keane. With Robert "Bumps" Blackwell heading A&R at the time, Alpert joined forces with the label's flagship artist, Sam Cooke to compose the aforementioned Wonderful World. By 1959, Alpert helped Dean Torrence celebrate his successful completion of military service by co-authoring Jan And Dean's first post-Jan And Arnie hit, Baby Talk for the Dore label.

Interestingly enough, the Dore name also gave Alpert a kick start as an artist in a most encouraging way. As Dore Alpert, he recorded a series of superb singles for RCA Victor, Carnival and A&M between 1960 and 1964, including the 1963 high drama masterpiece, Dina and the utterly stupendous 1962 Carnival label (A&M's predecessor) release, Tell It To The Birds. The latter single was reissued on Dot Records, and eventually became a part of the landmark Various Artists collection, Teenage Memories Volume One, which was released on Ash Wells' New South Wales-based Teensville and Rare Rockin' Records family of labels in 2010. 

Although those Dore Alpert 45s proved to be enough to sustain and enhance Alpert's momentum, it was his concurrent launching of the A&M label with Jerry Moss that propelled Alpert into the upper echelons of the industry at large. While early releases by Pilgrim Travelers alumnus George McCurn were well received in the label's earliest days, it was the releases by Alpert with the Tijuana Brass that commanded the lions' share of attention. 

Over the next few decades, A&M went on to amass one of the most formidable artist rosters in all of music, including Wes Montgomery, the We Five, Chris Montez, the Parade, Tommy Boyce And Bobby Hart, Toni Basil, the Wanted, the Sandpipers, Claudine Longet, Sergio Mendes And Brasil '66, the Checkmates Limited, the Carpenters, the Baja Marimba Band, Joe Cocker, the Captain And Tennille, Fairport Convention, Procol Harum, the Move, Humble Pie, the Strawbs, Peter Frampton, Joan Baez, the Persuasions, Rick Wakeman, Nazareth, Billy Preston, Supertramp, Status Quo, the Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Free, the Police and L.T.D., to name but a few. Along the way, the likes of Lucille Starr and George Harrison helped sustain the momentum respectively on A&M's affiliate Almo and Dark Horse labels. 

Blitz Magazine - The Rock And Roll Magazine For Thinking People maintained a healthy and productive relationship with A&M during that fruitful period. That working partnership was due in no small part to the efforts of a key member of the label's publicity team, Lisa Blewett, who was based out of the label's LaBrea Avenue headquarters in Hollywood. Most tragically, Blewett was killed in a 1984 automobile accident in Palm Springs.

With such a formidable legacy to his credit, it would seem next to impossible that Alpert could celebrate it all within a single two-hour concert performance. Nonetheless, that is exactly what he, his wife Lani Hall and their three piece band of fellow virtuosos did at the Royal Oak Music Theatre in the Detroit suburb of Royal Oak on 20 September.

As the capacity crowd welcomed him with a standing ovation, Alpert opened with a video montage that set the stage for the evening by celebrating his working relationship with the late jazz pioneer, Louis Armstrong, and how he drew inspiration from the latter's 1968 ABC Paramount signature 45, What A Wonderful World. Alpert himself then hit the ground running with a tour de force rendition of the Tijuana Brass' 1966 cover of Julian "Cannonball" Adderley's The Work Song, and the fervent pace continued unabated for a solid two hours.

"A lot of what you see here tonight is improv", Alpert said.

"Much of it changes from night to night."

Indeed, there was a healthy percentage of spur of the moment adventure in the proceedings. They ranged from the protracted workouts afforded their pianist, bassist and drummer to the spot on rendition of Tangerine from the Whipped Cream And Other Delights album. 

But even the set list staples retained a vitality that belied any suggestion of a "familiarity breeds contempt" perspective. Happily, it included healthy amounts of the highlights of the Tijuana Brass catalog, including The Lonely Bull, A Taste Of Honey, Tijuana Taxi, What Now My Love, Spanish Flea, Ladyfingers, Casino Royale, Mexican Shuffle, Good Morning Mister Sunshine and the band's rare vocal excursion, the sublime and essential 1968 single, This Guy's In Love With You.

Happily, in addition to her considerable vocal contributions throughout the set, Lani Hall also immeasurably blessed the audience with the highlights of her tenure as vocalist with Sergio Mendes And Brasil '66, including The Fool On The Hill, The Look Of Love and the utterly stupendous 1967 A&M single, Mas Que Nada. While that latter single was one of the rare exceptions from the show at large that was not slightly truncated for time considerations, such judicious editing was subtle enough to not distract from the proceedings overall.

Proceedings that also included copious amounts of story telling, from Alpert's working relationship with Sam Cooke (whom he afforded considerable high praise) and his chance meeting with Tommy Dorsey Orchestra legend, Harry Aaron "Ziggy Elman" Finkelman, to his signing of the Carpenters to A&M and the story behind his initial meeting with Hall. Alpert's wry sense of humor was prevalent throughout, as evidenced by his reference to his merch table (which included CDs of the essential albums, as well as a trio of t-shirts) as, "Stuff you don't need". 

True to his penchant for improv, Alpert opted to close the set with a smattering of superbly chosen and executed covers. Among them were the Harry Richman / Fred Astaire classic, Puttin' On The Ritz, Bill Withers' Ain't No Sunshine, Jason Mraz's I'm Yours and Barry Manilow's Copacabana.

At 87, Alpert remains absolutely at the top of his art. 

"I'm doing what I love", he said. 

Indeed he is. Working in tandem with a dream team like Hall and their trio, it seems likely that (in the words of a classic track from the Going Places album), there will be More And More Amor to follow.

Saturday

BITS AND PIECES - NEWS ABOUT YOUR FAVORITE ARTISTS By Michael McDowell


ASCENSION: In a nearly unprecedented example of reciprocity based upon William Wordsworth's child and father relationship, saxophone virtuosos John William Cotrane and FARRELL "PHAROAH" SANDERS embarked upon a remarkable working relationship that raised the bar exponentially for not just jazz, but for the world of music at large. Sanders (left) and Coltrane are seen above during the 1965 sessions for Coltrane's Ascension LP for Impulse. Editor / Publisher Michael McDowell recalls the highlights of Sanders' extraordinary career below. (Click on above image to enlarge).
 
THE CREATOR HAS A MASTER PLAN:
REMEMBERING JAZZ GIANT
PHAROAH SANDERS
(1940 - 2022)

The child is the father of the man.

That excerpt frrom one time UK poet laureate William Wordsworth's My Heart Leaps Up has provoked no small train of thought since its publication in 1802. It was inspiring enough to prompt Blood, Sweat And Tears to title their debut Columbia album, Child Is The Father To The Man 166 years later.

The notion of the younger generation setting an example for the older is not without even earlier precedent. A variation on that theme can be found in Isaiah 11:6 in the Bible. 

But nowhere in recent memory have such circumstances borne reciprocal benefit to the degree that they did in the working relationship between saxophonists John William Coltrane and Ferrell "Pharoah" Sanders. 

A native of Little Rock, Arkansas, Sanders developed an interest in music at an early age. He mastered the clarinet to the degree that he served on his church's worship team prior to his high school years. 

In high school, Sanders switched to the tenor saxophone. His mastery of the instrument was as such that he found himself conducting his high school band for a season in the wake of the departure of band director William Cannon.

Upon graduation in 1959, Sanders relocated to California, where he studied music at Oakland Junior College. It was during his college years that Sanders was introduced to Coltrane.

By that time, Coltrane had already established himself as one of the most impacting figures in all of music. As evidenced in his massive catalog for Prestige, Columbia, Mercury, Atlantic and Impulse, Coltrane operated on a level of genius that continues to inspire more than a half century after his tragic passing from cancer in July 1967. Coltrane was also prolific to the degree that several albums of heretofore unreleased material have seen release within the past decade. 

To be certain, the inversional teacher/student relationship would apply to just about anyone blessed to the degree of being able to collaborate in any capacity with a giant like Coltrane. But to Sanders' considerable surprise, that is exactly what happened.

Sanders spent the early 1960s working clubs and various venues in central California and New York. He eventually met fellow visionary Herman Poole "Sun Ra" Blount, who encouraged Sanders to follow his lead and dubbed him Pharoah accordingly. 

In due course, Sanders signed with Impulse Records. Coltrane was already making like minded and decisive inroads for Impulse with his classic quartet, which also included pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison and drummer Elvin Jones. Coltrane was impressed to the degree that he beckoned Sanders in 1965 to come on board as a second saxophonist. In the process, Coltrane's otherworldly explorations began to soar to unprecedented heights; a most remarkable development that he attributed in part to Sanders' contributions.

Following Coltrane's premature passing, Sanders continued to work with his widow, Alice Coltrane. He also recorded prolifically well into the first decade of the twenty-first century for such labels as Impulse, El Saturn, Arista, Verve and Luaka Bop. He directed his attention primarily towards live performance during the decade of the 2010s, including a landmark showcase at the Detroit Jazz Festival in 2014. His final album, Promises (a collaboration with the London Symphony Orchestra was releaased in March 2021 to widespread acclaim.

One of the last still active giants from jazz's most revered period, Sanders tragically passed away surrounded by family and friends during in Los Angeles during the early morning hours of 24 September. He was 81.

IF LOVE IS IN YOUR HEART:
REMEMBERING FRIEND AND
LOVER'S JIM POST
(1939 - 2022)

Sometimes there is an anthem waiting inside the most basic of sentiments.

Such was definitely the case in the Spring of 1968, when husband and wife folk duo, Jim "Friend" Post and Cathy Conn "Lover" Post recorded the monster classic that became their signature single, Reach Out Of The Darkness.

Blessed with one of the most iconic opening verses in all of music ("I met a man that I did not care for, and then one day, this man gave me a call. We sat and talked about things on our minds, and now this man, he is a friend of mine") Reach Out Of The Darkness offered relentless optimism in the worst of times. The single was released on Verve Forecast, also the recording home of the Hombres, Janis Ian, Dave Van Ronk, the Paupers, the Blues Project and Jim And Jean. 

A native of Houston, Texas, Post was also a veteran of the band, the Rum Runners. He and Chicago, Illinois native Cathy Conn met in 1964. While at Verve Forecast, they recorded an album based on the Reach Ouf Of The Darkness single. The album also included their acclaimed follow up, If Love Is In Your Heart.

Post went on to record nearly two dozen solo albums over the next several decades. In recent years, he had also made numerous public appearances impersonating legendary author, Samuel Langhorne "Mark Twain" Clemens. Cathy Post passed away in July 2018 at age 73.

On 15 September, Blitz Magazine - The Rock And Roll Magazine For Thinking People referenced Friend And Lover's signature single in an interview with musicians Sylvia MacCalla and Sean Thomas about their just released collaboration, Stay Human. The following day, the tragic news came regarding Jim Post's passing on 14 September. He was 82.

DON'T EVEN KICK IT AROUND:
REMEMBERING
RAMSEY LEWIS
(1935 - 2022)


It is somewhat ironic when musicians find themselves in the position of potentially having to eat their own words.

Such was the case in mid-1965, when the legendary Lawrence Darrow "Dobie Gray" Brown found the key line from his signature Charger label 45, The "In" Crowd  ("Other guys imiitate us, but the original's still the greatest") facing a credible challenge in that respect via a serioiusly ambitious instrumental cover on Chess Records' affiliate Argo label. 

To be certain, Gray was no slouch himself. He followed that iconic single with a pair of like minded clarion calls (At The Go Go and Out On The Floor) that have all reached anthemic status in their own right. He also proved his mastery of high drama with the flip sides of those singles, including Walk With Love and Be A Man.

As such, it took artists of remarkable acumen to take on such an anthem and do it justice. But that is exactly what the Ramsey Lewis Trio did with The "In" Crowd.

A native of Chicago, Illinois, Ramsey Emmanuel Lewis began to study piano at the age of four. Signing with Argo in 1956, Lewis (along with bassist Eldee Young and drummer Red Holt), recorded a magnificent series of albums for Argo and Mercury. Their 1965 The "In" Crowd album became an instant classic of the genre, and was one of Argo's final successes before changing its name to Cadet Records.

Lewis persevered with Cadet, adding to his legacy with such magnificent singles as Hang On Sloopy and Wade In The Water. His momentum continued unabated when Young and Holt signed with Brunswick as the Young Holt Trio (later Young Holt Unlimited). Subsequent releases for Columbia, GNP and Narada were also highly acclaimed. 

Lewis eventually went on to host the syndicated radio program, Legends Of Jazz. He also served on the board of Stockton, California's University Of The Pacific's Dave Brubeck Institute at the latter's behest. In addition to founding various charitable organizations, Lewis was also awarded a doctorate degree by Chicago's Loyola University.

Lewis was at work on his forthcoming autobiography at his Chicago home on 12 September when he suddenly passed away. He is survived by his wife, Janet. Lewis was 87.

YOU BRING THE SUMMER:
MONKEES DRUMMER
MICKY DOLENZ
BEATS THE HEAT
PRIOR TO TRAGIC LOSS

When Neil Diamond sang of a Hot August Night, he most likely had a scenario similar to this one in mind.

Almost a half century after the fact, history nearly repeated itself, as Monkees drummer, lead vocalist, co-founder and lone surviving member, George Michael "Micky" Dolenz arrived in the central Michigan town of Marysville on Saturday 27 August for a charity meet and greet at the city's Hot Wheels festival.

In one sense, the timing was right, in view of the fact that the 27th of August also marked the 80th birthday of Chip Douglas, who produced the band's landmark May 1967 Colgems label LP, Headquarters. That groundbreaking album was ultimately saluted by Blitz Magazine - The Rock And Roll Magazine For Thinking People's as Best Album of the 20th Century. 

Dolenz's appearance at the festival was in part a fundraiser for the Make A Wish Foundation. Depending on one's level of contribution, Dolenz would apply his signature to anything from an album cover to a drum head. The faithful responded in kind, with more than a hundred people in the queue at any given point throughout the afternoon.

Given the circumstances, Dolenz held court in a gazebo, with sufficient room to shade the waiting crowd from the mid-day sun. However, just yards away, a steady stream of performers (with Reverend Horton Heat somewhat ironically serving as headliner, along with other rockabilly-themed artists) provided entertainment from an outdoor stage that faced the sun. Temperatures were at near record highs throughout the afternoon, prompting many among even the most devoted rockabilly enthusiasts to seek shade at the rear of the grounds near the food court. 

Meanwhile, although Dolenz also had at his disposal such conversation starters as his latest solo album on the 7A label to the actual Pontiac GTO Monkeemobile. the intense heat seemed to bring out the lethargic among those who waited in line for their opportunity. On more than one occasion, Dolenz sat patiently but somewhat helplessly by, while fans tried to decide between photo and autograph options. 

Happily, Dolenz continued to draw a steady crowd throughout the afternoon. However, circumstances changed again in short order with the news on 28 August of the passing of long time Micky Dolenz band guitarist, Dave Alexander. Alexander had worked with Dolenz in various capacities for the past quarter century. Memorial services are pending.




Wednesday

THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME (REISSUES AND ANTHOLOGIES) By Michael McDowell


NO SHAME: The Cherry Red label celebrates the rich diversity of Southern California's contributions to first generation garage rock with Heroes And Villains, a 3CD set encompassing hits, rarities and a wealth of previously unrelesed material.  Editor / Publisher Michael McDowell takes a deep dive into this essential collection below (Click on above image to enlarge).

 CD AND LP REISSUES / ANTHOLOGIES
(REVIEWS ARE POSTED IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER BY ARTIST)

THE LEGENDARY BILL EVANS TRIO  -
The Bill Evans Trio (Cherry Red)

While arguably counter-intuitive, there is something to be said for the persistent notion among certain factions within the world of musicology, academia and record collecting that on rare occasions, there is a fine line between artistic temperament and bullying.

Perhaps no single figure in all of music personified that anomaly more so than did pioneering jazz keyboardist and Plainfield, New Jersey native, William John "Bill" Evans. In spite of a challenging and abrasive home life during his elementary school years, Evans went on to excel as a musician. He demonstrated considerable acumen during his formative years not just as a pianist, but also as a violinist and flautist, earning a scholarship for the latter to Southeastern Louisiana University in the process. 

Also a well-rounded academician and avid reader, Evans concurrently excelled in sports, serving as quarterback alongside his fraternity brothers for the football team during his college years. His interest in music continued unabated during this period, with his primary inspirations including Igor Stravinsky, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Earl Hines, Nat King Cole, Coleman Hawkins, Stan Getz and Bud Powell. In the process, he picked up a number of side gigs at weddings and various social functions along the way.

However, that all seemed to change during Evans' service in the U.S. Army, which lasted from 1951 to 1954. Although he continued to work side jobs in his spare time and demonstrated his passion for the relatively subdued approach to the keyboard (borne of the assimilation of a number of those key inspirations into his own musical mission statement), Evans' fellow soldiers did not share that enthusiasm. Instead, they criticized him relentlessly for it. In the process, Evans took to recreational drug use, which had become a growing concern by the time of his military discharge in January 1954.

By then in doubt of his own abilities as a result (yet determined to prove himself), Evans joined forces with some of the best names in the world of jazz. A brief return to the world of academia at that time found Evans returning to college to study music composition. Performance opportunities also opened up in Greenwich Village, where Evans met such front runners of the movement as Mundell Lowe and Thelonious Monk. 

While most assuredly capable in terms of technical acumen, Evans was nonetheless not exactly blessed with a strong personal constitution. To that effect, a game changing moment that would impact the rest of his life and career availed itself before decade's end. Determined to succeed within the elite circle of musicians that he so admired, Evans was nonetheless unprepared for an encounter that was to come in February 1958. Trumpeter and Prestige label recording artist Miles Davis had recently fired pianist William McKinley "Red" Garland from his own band and sought out Evans as Garland's successor. In short order, Evans had the job.

A seemingly dream fit, to be certain. However, Davis' reputation as a relentless perfectionist meant that there was little margin for error. To that effect, even other members of Davis' band during that crucial era (including virtuoso saxophonists John Coltrane and Julian "Cannonball" Adderley, pianist Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Jimmy Cobb) had to seek respite from Davis' business methodology, as evidenced in their magnificent and somewhat therapeutic The Cannonball Adderley Quintet In Chicago album for Mercury Records in 1959.

Meanwhile, criticism from within jazz circles as well as outside observers to the notion of Evans in the role of successor to Garland drew a paradoxical response. For not only did the aforementioned sidemen seek the greener pastures of pursuing their own individual musical visions, but Evans' relatively low-keyed approach began to impact Davis, as evidenced in the relatively subdued nature of Davis earliest work for Columbia. 

All of which leads to the gestation of Cherry Red's magnificent three CD collection at hand.

In 1959, a meeting with the ambitious and visionary bassist, Rocco "Scott" LeFaro provided the answer to Evans' ongoing concerns. A veteran of the Buddy Morrow big band, LeFaro had been performing elsewhere in Greenwich Village and was well versed in Evans' capabilities. An extraordinarily accomplished technician who literally threw himself physically into his own work, LeFaro recognized Evans' technical prowess, and encouraged him to pursue his own vision as leader of a trio. LeFaro brought on board the like-minded and equally capable Paul Motian as drummer, and the Bill Evans Trio was born.

Although LeFaro's prominent and dexterous work on the bass may seem an unlikely pairing with Evans' subdued approach on the keyboards, in reality the two each represented the best attributes of visionary vocalist, composer and technical pioneer Norman "Michael Holliday" Milne. A forerunner in the "quiet intensity" approach, Holliday drew in the listener with his decidedly low-key vocal execution, where casual and discerning listener alike would in short order marvel at Holliday's judicious use of overdubbing, sound on sound and other such groundbreaking studio techniques to paint an otherworldly sonic landscape that became the forerunner of the so-called dreamscape subgenre. In turn, as the listener focused more intently on Evans' extended exercises in pianissimo, the muscular yet not overbearing workouts from LeFaro provided the proverbial seasoning on a well-prepared musical meal.

Still, producer and voice of reason Orrin Keepnews found himself more often than not going the extra mile to keep Evans on board with the notion that he now had all of the elements in place to realize and sustain his vision in the studio. To that effect, Keepnews did manage to chronicle the proceedings in 1959 with the landmark Riverside label LP, Portrait In Jazz, which opens this Cherry Red collection. To LeFaro's considerable credit, he in turn managed to sustain that momentum by consistently providing Evans with the support and encouragement in the studio that had been generally lacking in Evans' career to date. 

Nonetheless, the one setting in which Evans had at last come to terms with himself was the live one. To their considerable credit, LeFaro and Keepnews both realized it, and had the foresight to chronicle many of the trio's live dates from 1959 to 1961. The resultant Sunday At The Village Vanguard album (also represented here in its entirety) underscores the wisdom of their discernment, with LeFaro and Evans playing equal parts Michael Holliday magnificently in those live takes with everything from the title track from Evans' signature album, Waltz For Debby to Billy Eckstine's My Foolish Heart and otherworldly takes on Miles Davis' Solar and LeFaro's extraordinary Jade Visions and Gloria's Step. This essential box set is rounded out with the Trio's acclaimed Explorations, The Birdland Sessions and Selections From Sung Heroes With Tony Scott ventures.

After years of battling a self-depreciating perspective, it seemed as though the future looked promising for Evans and his trio. But then, tragedy struck.

In the early morning hours of 06 July 1961, just four days after sitting in with saxophonist Stan Getz at the Newport Jazz Festival, LeFaro was driving along Highway 5-20 in Seneca, New York. Having just visited friends hours earlier, LeFaro fell asleep at the wheel, with his car striking a tree and catching fire. Both LeFaro and passenger Frank Ottley were killed instantly. 

As was the case years later with the tragic death of Buck Owens' friend and musical brother, Don Rich in a motorcycle accident, LeFaro's sudden and horrific passing absolutely devastated the already fragile Evans. He withdrew from recording for several months and plunged even further into despair. Thankfully, friends, family and colleagues rallied around Evans and encouraged him to persevere. Remarkably, he did for another nineteen years, although the damage had been done. Evans continued to record more prolifically than thought possible (including landmark sessions with Tony Bennett), but eventually succumbed to his pressures and challenges on 15 September 1980 in New York City at age 51.

True to form, with this collection, Cherry Red Records has put together a comprehensive and engaging look at the short-lived Bill Evans Trio. 

"I will never cease to be gratified that (these recordings) were preserved", Keepnews said in 1986. 

Indeed, neither will the many who continue to hold Evans, LeFaro and Motian's collaborative efforts in the highest esteem. In the words of one of the standout tracks from the 1960 Birdland Sessions (included here), they remain a consistent, unwavering source of Our Delight.

THE SPACEBRAIN
COLLECTIVE PRESENTS  -
Brad Long (Spacebrain Collective)

Fewer catalogs inspire more unity amongst the faithful than does the catalog of the Beach Boys.

Nonetheless, among their most obvious tracks are a few cuts that occasionally invoke mixed reactions from observers. One of the most obvious is their 1963 Capitol single, In My Room. To many, the track succinctly reflects a method of escapism for the purpose of averting anguish and despair, where the protagonist (in this case, the song's composer and Beach Boys bassist, Brian Wilson) can find a customized Fortress Of Solitude.

On the other hand, some see In My Room as little more than a vehicle for placating an atmosphere of arrested development. From this perspective, the protagonist is perceived as an isolationist who maintains an unhealthy fear of social interaction.

This is not to infer that one such perspective maintains an edge over the other. To each camp, the piece in question represents their perspective of the circumstances at hand.

That said, few musicians have played both sides of that issue to their advantage for as long as has the Indiana based composer, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, Brad Long.

A one time music store owner, Long used those circumstances to draw from the experiences of his clientele, as well as from the ever evolving musical atmosphere at play in the period preceding the advent of the game changing, so-called punk / new wave movement of the mid to late 1970s.

Not the most ideal of times to chart such a career path, to be certain. But in Long's case, not aligning himself with the ever changing moods of the mainstream in favor of drawing from both sides of the In My Room issue worked to his tremendous advantage.

"I was a young guy running my business then", said Long.

"I couldn't leave my business too much. But it sure was fun getting out now and then".

As such, many of those off hours were spent at home or in neighboring studios, developing his own musical mission statement. Some of the earliest fruits of Long's labors were recognized with the band Tobias. Among other things, the band cut a demo in 1974.

But with the aforementioned punk / new wave movement in full assault mode not long after that, Long made one of the most astute moves of his career with the recording of a single, Love Me Again / Come To Me. Cut at Logansport's DeFord Sound Studios, that 1977 Buddy Holly - flavored 45 featured many of the attributes of an In My Room experience. The overall homemade atmosphere resonated with the DIY perspective that was in full swing at the time, and earned Long a feature story in Blitz Magazine.

In part, that early endorsement inspired Long to persevere in that capacity. Purchasing guitars in thrift stores were a part of his methodology, as his ever developing mission statement led to subsequent recording projects.

"New gear is great", said Long.

"But give me the vintage every time. I always record with vintage equipment and vintage techniques. My friend and protege, Sadie Leyman plays bass. She's been using my 1969 Sears Silvertone bass for over a year!"
 
In the ensuing years, Long recorded a number of like minded tracks, many of which are at last compiled in this CD anthology.

In addition to both sides of the Love Me Again / Come To Me 45, this single disc collection includes fifteen other tracks that run the gamut of inspirations, from the 1910 Fruitgum Company - inspired Candy Candy, the Beau Brummels via David Box Inside Outside and the prerequisite Beach Boys nod, I'll Never Surf Again Without You to the Tornadoes-like romp Phoenix Beach, The Soft Boys-ish You're Just A Dream and the Pink Floyd / Soft Machine hybrid, Marianna (Part Two).

With this release, Brad Long joins a very elite group that also includes Danny And The Juniors and one time New Colony Six rhythm guitarist and co-lead vocalist Ronnie Rice in being the artist with the longest wait times to finally realize their substantial catalogues in reissue / compilation form.

"I still don't have online distribution or anything yet", said Long.

"Just selling locally and word of mouth for now".

Indeed, such methodology may seemingly fly in the face of the late Dinah Shore's somewhat prophetic benediction to, "See the USA in your Chevrolet". But if nothing else, it concurrently underscores the notion that those who champion the positive attributes of In My Room can at least reap aesthetic dividends by maintaining a tight focus. Or as the Beach Boys themselves asserted in the song that brought the In My Room concept full circle, sometimes the answer can be found In The Back Of My Mind.

FEELIN' BETTER:
ANTHOLOGY (1963 - 1969)  -
The Swinging Blue Jeans (Cherry Red)

Working for legendary record labels often brought with it the perk of extraordinary tales.

Such was the case with Imperial Records, the label founded by the late Lewis Robert "Lew" Chudd in 1947. Over the next several decades, Imperial amassed a world class artist roster that at various points in time included such giants and visionaries as Rick Nelson. Fats Domino, the Spiders, the Majors, Sandy Nelson, Erskine Hawkins, Slim Whitman, Frankie Ford, Billy J. Kramer And The Dakotas, Cher, the Hollies, Sam E Solo, the Sunshine Company, Johnny Rivers, the Love Generation, the Bonzo Dog Band, Jackie DeShannon, Irma Thomas. the O'Jays, Steve Alaimo, Mel Carter, the Showmen, Jimmy McCracklin, Kenny Lynch, Jimmy Boyd, the Satisfactions, Georgie Fame, Sue Raney, Ken Dodd, Jimmy Clanton and Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick And Tich, to name but a few.

One of the primary behind the scenes visionaries at Imperial during its heyday was the late Kenneth Donald "Ken" Revercomb. A long time friend of Blitz Magazine, Revercomb came to Imperial as General Manager after successful stints at Columbia and Liberty. Among other things, Revercomb in his post-Imperial years produced the memorable 1975 cover of Bobby Darin's Things by Ronnie Dove for the Melodyland label. He then went on to open his own collector-friendly record store in the West San Fernando Valley in the early 1980s.

Meanwhile, in addition to stocking copious amounts of various Imperial label releases at his store, Revercomb invariably relished the opportunity to hold court with tales of his adventures at the label. It was on one such occasion that Blitz Magazine posed to him a question about Imperial's curious relationship with the acclaimed surf rock band, the Fantastic Baggys.

While signed to Imperial in the United States, the Fantastic Baggs released a classic album, Tell 'Em I'm Surfin' The title track from that 1964 album concurrently saw release as a single on Imperial, followed by Anywhere The Girls Are and a cover of Skip And Flip's It Was I.

Not long after those Fantastic Baggys 45s ran their course, the band's principal composer, Philip Gary "P.F. Sloan" Schlein signed with Dunhill Records as a solo artist, While at Dunhill, Sloan recorded such landmark folk rock singles as I Get Out Of Breath and his high drama masterpiece, City WomenSloan and his writing partner, Steve Barri concurrently amassed a sizeable reputation as composers, with such classics as Jan And Dean's I Found A Girl, Terry Knight And The Pack's This Precious Time and the Turtles' You Baby to their credit. 

However, interest remained strong for the Fantastic Baggys in the nation of South Africa, including a demand among the faithful there for live performances and additional recordings. As such, Imperial found itself in the unique position of having to call Sloan out of Fantastic Baggys semi-retirement well into his Dunhill solo career to return to the studio with the band to contribute in various capacities to two additional Fantastic Baggys albums for Imperial, 1966's Ride The Wild Surf and 1967's Surfer's Paradise. Both were issued on Imperial in South Africa only.

Those unique developments intrigued Blitz Magazine, which featured the South African Fantastic Baggys releases in the Classics Revisited column in a subsequent issue. However, that account raised as many questions as it answered; a dichotomy posed to Revercomb during a follow up visit to his record store.

"Did I get you in trouble?", Revercomb asked with a laugh.

It wasn't so much trouble as it was the desire for attention to detail that has been an integral component of Blitz Magazine's mission statement from the onset. Sensing Blitz's enthusiasm for the project, Revercomb recalled a similar set of circumstances that availed themselves during another classic band's affiliation with Imperial. 

Aeound that same time, musicologist, record collector and occasional Blitz Magazine contributor Gary E. Tibbs (who also provided valuable research for the aforementioned Fantastic Baggys article) was successful in his efforts to procure a copy of Don't Make Me Over, an early 1966 album released on Capitol Of Canada by the Liverpool-based Swinging Blue Jeans. Capitol Of Canada often served as the outlet for the work of artists with different affiliations in the United States, including Cliff Richard, the Dave Clark Five and the Yardbirds (from Epic) as well as Billy J. Kramer And The Dakotas and the Swinging Blue Jeans from Imperial. The Capitol Of Canada releases ultimately became the pressings of choice among the more discerning musicologists and record collectors for being on better grade vinyl stock, rather than the low grade styrene that was often utilized for the U.S. Epic pressings. 

Featuring their memorable cover of the Dionne Warwick classic as the title track, the Swinging Blue Jeans fired on all cylinders on that particular album. Also of note were the memorable You Don't Love Me (which owes much to Rick Nelson's rocking rendition of George Gershwin's Summertime), Gotta Draw The Line and I Want Love, which meshed well with the band's inspired covers of Roger Miller's Chug A Lug, Rufus Thomas' Jump Back, Roy Hamlton's I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Cry (Over You) and the Lovin' Spoonful's Do You Believe In Magic.

Despite the ongoing demand, Revercomb was not able to track down copies of the album to make available in his store. For the time being, that lone copy of Don't Make Me Over procured by Tibbs seemed to be one of only a tiny handful that were accounted for amongst collectors. Nonetheless, the album did see brief CD and vinyl reissue around the turn of the century, although the Capitol Of Canada original continues to generate considerable interest within those circles.

Thankfully, with the project at hand, Cherry Red has done much to resolve such long standing concerns.

By the time the Swinging Blue Jeans came on board with Imperial, the band had existed in some configuration for several years. They rose from the ashes of a skiffle band, the Bluegenes in 1957, with founding members Bruce McCaskill, Tommy Hughes and Spud Ward giving way to band mainstays Ray Ennis (lead vocals, lead guitar), Ralph Ellis (rhythm guitar), Les Braid (bass) and Norman Kuhlke (drums) in the process.

Personnel changes continued during the band's tenure with Imperial. Terry Sylvester was recruited from the Escorts in 1966 to succeed Ralph Ellis, only to go on to replace Graham Nash in the Hollies in 1969. The late Jim Rodford also served with the band for a season before going on to solidify his own legacy as a long time member of the Kinks. 

Despite their curious and complex history, the Swinging Blue Jeans managed to amass a most impressive recorded legacy of their own, of which the Imperial era is chronicled definitively in this Cherry Red collection. Featured in its entirety is not only the Don't Make Me Over album, but the numerous singles that came to define them. In addition to their signature covers of Little Richard's Good Golly Miss Molly, Chan Romero's Hippy Hippy Shake and the Betty Hutton / Eddie Duchin / Louis Jordan / Louis Armstrong classic, Ol' Man Mose, this Cherry Red package also sports such band staples as Hey Mrs. Housewife, What Have They Done To Hazel (a highlight of Terry Sylvester's tenure with the band), Summer Comes Sunday, Tremblin' (with guest backing vocals by Kiki Dee and Madeline Bell) and the perennial favorite, Now That You've Got Me You Don't Seem To Want Me.

Somewhat disconcertingly, upon the retirement of Ray Ennis (who is interviewed in the sleeve notes of this package) in 2010, guitarist Alan Lovell (who had joined the band in 1999) trademarked the Swinging Blue Jeans name and continues to perform live under that name with no original members. However, one listen to Cherry Red's definitive Imperial era collection will reiterate beyond question the power of the Swinging Blue Jeans' definitive lineup. To be certain, it will have the faithful Feelin' Better in short order.

HEROES AND VILLAINS:
THE SOUND OF LOS ANGELES (1965 - 1968)  -
Various Artists (Cherry Red)

Cliff Richard and Herman's Hermits most assuredly knew of what they sang when they recorded the virtues of Traveling Light.

As any artist can readily attest, touring is not for the faint hearted. To the rank and file observer, the finished product (that is, the live performance) is the primary focus of their attention. But both artist, crew and support staff know all too well the rigours of the road, which include not only the stringent maintenance of the ever fluctuating itinerary, but the transportation of massive amounts of equipment, instruments, wardrobe and other essentials from location to location on a tight schedule that would cause all but the most resilient to stumble. 

Or as the aforementioned Cliff Richard and Herman's Hermits both astutely observed, "Got no bags and baggage to slow me down". 

Interestingly enough, it isn't just the physical aspects of touring that produces baggage. And that is where artist and casual observer often part ways in their perspectives.

To the artist, the creation and betterment of their art is the primary focal point of their mission statement. While individual methodologies may vary, in general, muse and creative abilities join forces to produce timeless, great works. 

And that is where the casual observer would have done well to take a cue from Cliff Richard and Herman's Hermits. 

But for whatever reason, that has not been the case. Many within the rank and file have opted instead to burden their listening experiences with such periphery as chronology (a given record's release date and/or the physical age of the artists themselves), geography (the home base of the artist, as if being in a particular location demands that the artist's work is limited to a particular genre or use of instrumentation) and such even less essential encumbrances as chart positions (which at best only suggests how well a given disc performed over one seven day period decades ago, rather than its far more crucial long term appeal) or the musiic and artist's perceived level of acceptance within the mainstream media (which inexplicably often includes bowing the knee to a museum in the midwestern United States that professes to function with greater authority in that respect than its public mandate - or lack of same -  actually allows). 

Add to that the armchair quarterbacks'  frequent insistence upon watering down the artistic merits of the art itself by associating it with miscellaneous unrelated developments in their own lives and you have the inspiration behind the legendary Rick Nelson's astute 1972 observation, "If memories are all I sang, I'd rather drive a truck".

That said, one facet of the baggage experience nonetheless ultimately proved to be beneficial in the ongoing saga of Blitz Magazine - The Rock And Roll Magazine For Thinking People: geography.

When Blitz Magazine relocated its home base from the greater Detroit area to Southern California during the previous century, it left behind one geographical area with a richly diverse and vibrant musical scene for another. Southeastern Michigan had boasted a flourishing Northern Soul movement that was spearheaded not just by the Motown family of labels, but by such game changing companies as Drew, Sidra, Revilot, Sport, Ollie McLaughlin's Atlantic-distributed Karen and Carla labels, and Ed Wingate's Ric-Tic and Golden World empire. 

The area also was home to a hotbed of first generation garage rock giants that were second to none. They included the Unrelated Segments, the Woolies, the Underdogs, the Tidal Waves, the Human Beings, the Rationals, Bob Seger And The Last Heard, Tim Tam And The Turn-Ons, the Unknowns, the Bossmen, Question Mark And The Mysterians, the Capreez, the Thyme, Sincerely Yours, Terry Knight And The Pack, Sixto Rodriguez, the Cherry Slush, Mitch Ryder And The Detroit Wheels, the Pleasure Seekers and the Wanted, to name but a few. 

All of which made the transition to Southern California that much more encouraging. Equally blessed with a groundbreaking rhythm and blues movement that was spearheaded by such visionaries as the legendary John Dolphin of the storied Dolphin's Of Hollywood record store, The greater Los Angeles area also produced a collective musical vision that extolled the virtues of its idyllic surroundings, as chronicled by everyone from the aforementioned Rick Nelson to percussion virtuoso Sandy Nelson, as well as the Righteous Brothers, Rosie (Hamlin) And The Originals, Chris Montez, Nancy Sinatra, Jan And Dean, the Kingston Trio and the Beach Boys. 

Obviously, in both cases, the music involved was too varied in nature and mission statement to be inexorably linked to such marginal factors as geography. To that effect, during the heyday of the so-called punk/new wave movement, both locales again played host to major musical movements that were richly diverse. For Detroit, there was the Romantics, Cinecyde, the Mutants, the Ivories, Dangerous Diane Spokarek, Flirt, the Reruns and Sonic's Rendezvous Band, to name but a few. 

Meanwhile, Southern California countered decisively. On center stage with a vengeance were the Go-Gos, Sparks, the Heaters, Wednesday Week, the Point, the Salvation Army/Three O'Clock, the Balancing Act, the Dream Syndicate, the Long Ryders, the Rain Parade, One Hundred Flowers, Black Flag, the Blasters, the Minutemen and the Last, among numerous others.

In both cases, the art at hand was too diverse to compartmentalize. While a matter of convenient reference, geography in and of itself simply was not a one size fits all attribute of description.

All of which makes the project at hand somewhat of an anomaly in that such distinction was also a matter of convenience.

As the entertainment capital of the world, Los Angeles had (and has) more than enough to keep the faithful captivated to the degree that virtually all of the major life pursuits are well represented. Musically speaking, that was without question the case during the growth and development of the most crucial first generation garage rock era. And it is a stunningly rich array of the best that movement had to offer in Southern California via Cherry Red's essential new 3CD collection, Heroes And Villains.

Most fittingly, this ninety-track collection begins with the victory lap single for the band that opened the door for creative autonomy for both themselves and their colleagues, the Monkees. Their 1967 Colgems single, Pleasant Valley Sunday sets the stage quite well in that respect, given that it was their first release in the wake of their unprecedented and immeasurably successful revolt against the system, which exposed the industry's "dirty little secret" among major labels (of which there were many in the area) of having the records of prominent bands ghosted by session musicians. That and their subsequent groundbreaking work in country rock, experimental rock (drummer George Michael "Micky" Dolenz and country music giant Alvis Edgar "Buck" Owens were among the first to own a Moog synthesizer and incorporate it into their recordings) and their collective world class acumen as composers ultimately led to their being saluted by Blitz Magazine as the Best Band of Twentieth Century, with their 1967 Headquarters album for Colgems also taking top honors from Blitz as Album Of The Century. Their remarkable, off and on fifty-five year run continued until the passing of beloved lead guitarist, co-founder and principal visionary, Robert Michael Nesmith in 2021. As the lone surviving member, drummer Dolenz now perseveres as a solo artist, with recent releases on the 7A label to his credit.

Appropriately enough, the track that follows Pleasant Valley Sunday on this collection was once covered by the Monkees. Released in early 1966 on Columbia, Kicks arguably became one of several singles worthy of signature status for the vaunted label's flagship band, Paul Revere And The Raiders. 

After years of toiling on the club circuit in Washington and Idaho, Paul Revere And The Raiders relocated to Southern California (where they once shared a rental facility with the equally ambitious Chicago band, the New Colony Six), eventually becoming series regulars on Dick Clark's magnificent Where The Action Is television program. Like Pleasant Valley SundayKicks carries a thought provoking message that is driven home by the band's most capable hard hitting delivery.

Many of the other front runners of the genre are represented here as well. They include the Mamas And Papas (their high drama 1967 Twelve Thirty single), their Dunhill label mates, the Grass Roots (with their cover of the Rokes' Let's Live For Today), the Seeds (whose front man the late Ritchie "Sky Saxon" Marsh was once interviewed at length in Blitz Magazine; and who are represented here with The Wind Blows Your Hair), the Leaves (also once profiled in Blitz Magazine, and ironically the band that recorded Words a year before the Monkees did; but who are instead represented by With None Shoes from their second album), Chad And Jeremy (whose Chad Stuart once served on Blitz Magazine's ad hoc Advisory Board, herein represented with the surreal Pipe Dream, not to be  confused with the Blues Magoos classic of the same name), Love (She Comes In Colors from their arguably definitive Elektra LP, Da Capo), the Music Machine (featuring the late Sean Bonniwell, previously of the Wayfarers, and the center stage first generation garage band on Art Laboe's Original Sound label, although showcased here with Point Of No Return), the Byrds (one of several takes of their acclaimed B-side, Why), the Association (with their second 45 for Valiant and third overall, the late Tandyn Almer's Along Comes Mary), Captain Beefheart And The Magic Band's Zig Zag Wanderer (later covered by the aforementioned Balancing Act), the Parade (a most welcome stereo mix of their 1967 A&M single, Sunshine Girl), beloved pioneer Del Shannon's ambitious Runnin' On Back, the Electric Prunes' The Great Banana Hoax, the Strawberry Alarm Clock's concert favorite, Sit With The Guru and Bobby Jameson's game changng Viet Nam single.

All well and good, to be certain. Most assuredly among the most storied examples of that loosely defined geographical movement. That said, the more seasoned collector and musicologist may give voice to possible concern about the relative familiarity of such tracks, most which have remained in print in various formats since their original release.

Thankfully, there is far more to Heroes And Villains than the obvious. Included are various obscurities, outtakes and anomalies by such other front runners as the Rose Garden, Spirit, the International Submarine Band, Steppenwolf, Iron Butterfly, Sagittarius, the Forum, the Stone Poneys, the Peanut Butter Conspiracy, the Bobby Fuller Four, the Mothers Of Invention, Lee Hazelwood And Suzi Jane Hokom, Buffalo Springfield, Kim Fowley, the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, Sonny And Cher, Harry Nilsson, the Peppermint Trolley Company and Tim Buckley. There is also a rich helping of sublime tracks by some of the movement's not as obvious but equally captivating contributors as the Syndicate, the Misunderstood, Clear Light, the Urban Renewal Project, Hearts And Flowers, the Rogues and Kaleidoscope. The Beach Boys (whose 1967 Heroes And Villains 45 for their own Brother label provided the inspiration for this collection) are also impeccably represented with a track from their landmark Smile album sessions, Do You Like Worms.

Conspicuous in their absence from this package are any representations from the Rampart/Faro family of labels, which featured such beloved front runners of the movement as the Premiers, Cannibal And The Headhunters and (peripherally) Thee Midnighters. Perhaps foundational for a subsequent volume in a potential series? There is certainly more than enough material on hand to warrant such expansion. In the meantime, Cherry Red has once again outdone itself with Heroes And Villains, an absolutely essential and well documented anthology that decisively examplifies the mandate professed herein by the Odds And Ends, Be Happy, Baby.